DISCLAIMER: I don't own them. However, I sure wish that Paramount would create a new Star Trek series of good quality that would keep the idea alive so that we Fan Fiction writers don't have to do all the work. :)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: There are several sex scenes in this story. On top of that, sex is talked about. However, this story is not just sex (talk). It simply turned out to be a good base to build on other stuff. Note that this story deals with a relationship that has a more dominant and a more submissive partner. However, this is not Dom/sub by any stretch. This is merely two people that fit well together where BOTH people have an equal say in their relationship, just that they prefer to fulfill different roles in said relationship. Also, note, the Delaney sisters are in this story and they are close. Very close. So close that some people might have a problem with it, but rest assured it's not so close as some Voyager people would wish it to be. :P On a side note, Tal Celes also has a pretty decent role in this story. If you read some Voyager Fan Fiction, you will probably know her because she is very often featured as a supporting character. But when I was checking out her bio, I discovered that she has actually only been seen in two, count them, two, episodes. My point here is I find it interesting how some characters can just stick with you and appeal to so many; not just Tal, but also the Delaney sisters or Ro Laren. (Ro is not in this story, just using her as an example for this side note.) She was also in only a few episodes of TNG yet everyone pretty much knows her. But on the other hand, characters like Tuvok and Neelix are often nothing more than just mentioned because they are part of the main cast and therefore basically have to be mentioned. Strange.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To mhw.weckseler[at]gmail.com

Twenty-five to Life
By H.W.


Chapter 14

Day twenty. (Morning.)

The electronic whistle was heard all over the ship. "All hands, this is the Captain. The shakedown test of Voyager will start in ten minutes. Make final preparations. The Urdian Fleet will not accompany us on this test, though some observers and the Urdians that will work on Voyager once we are underway will accompany us on Voyager. The people that will take different jobs once the Fleet is underway will use this test flight to supervise their replacements. All hands, ten minutes from... now."

Kathryn closed the channel and looked at her wife, one of the observers that would come along. "I still don't know if it's not somewhat of an insult that Voyager needs testing but your ships don't."

Brika smiled. "Our ships are a time-honored design. We have been building them the same way for five hundred years, just that we are smart enough to always upgrade the design with the latest technology on all fronts. But the backbone is tested and secure. All we really need is the second shakedown test that is scheduled for next week. Remember, we are used to building our ships while in space. So no matter how bad the problem is, if one is found, with our ships we can repair it while under way. But Voyager..."

"I know," Kathryn agreed. "Voyager has been modified so much that we need a test just to see if she doesn't fall apart when the engines are started."

"Well, we would have done a really bad job if that were to happen," Brika smiled.

Kathryn smiled as well and let her eyes drift across the bridge of Voyager. New consoles, new carpeting, new viewscreen, new... and yet it still was easily recognizable as her much loved bridge. Her eyes came to rest on B'Elanna. The Klingon had only softly said 'eight hundred' when walking onto the bridge, but Kathryn had known only too well what she had meant.

Kathryn had stopped trying to convince B'Elanna to not have her House. Not because she was now suddenly thrilled about the idea, but because a conversation she had with her wife. Two nights ago, the evening after B'Elanna had informed her that her House would have Marines, Kathryn and Brika had been indulging in some fun in the bathtub. And once they both were sated and calmed down, Brika had said that it was time that she lay a few things out for Kathryn. Off the record for now. Kathryn had been told that Brika wanted the House to grow, wanted this new entity in the Fleet. And that the more Kathryn would push against it, the more Brika would promote it. And if Kathryn wanted to be really stubborn then Brika would join the House as well, and... and more wasn't needed. Kathryn knew what would happen. If even the Admiral joined, then this would be seen as an official seal of approval. And the rest of the Fleet would join in droves.

So Kathryn had decided to follow Brika's unspoken command. Even before things got out of hand, B'Elanna had asked Kathryn to join and be recognized in the House as sister to the Lady of the House. Brika had approved of that idea then. And now Kathryn saw it as an unspoken command. Join the House, be that prominent member of House authority, and make sure that a Fleet Captain has a position where she could give potential objections as an almost equal to the Lord and Lady. An almost equal who is an Elder on top of it and therefore is clearly recognized as someone that knows just what the hell she is talking about if she has an objection to something.

"B'Elanna, do you want to be in Engineering instead of on the bridge?" Kathryn asked.

B'Elanna shook her head. "Before the changes I would have wanted nothing else. But now? Captain, down there everything is new. The Urdian Engineers know better what to do if there is a problem. As much as it pains me to say it, but at this moment I would only be in the way if there is a problem. Let them do their thing, and then I can get acquainted with all that stuff once the Fleet is underway."

Kathryn couldn't really argue the logic. The only reason why she was still the best choice as Captain at that moment was because no matter how new the technology, her job existed out of giving orders. She could do that, old or new technology.

She looked at the time and waited for the last few seconds to count down. She opened another ship-wide to let the crew know that the shakedown was officially underway before addressing Tom. "Helm ahead, half impulse."

"Aye Captain," Tom said before moving his hand over the console, but not touching it. "Start, start. Where is the start button again?"

"Tom," Kathryn warned.

"Just kidding," Tom assured with a grin. He had been smart enough to spend at least one hour every day, and normally more, in the holodeck to get acquainted with the new helm layout and with the estimated handling of Voyager. He had flown the upgraded ship through some of their old adventures and was well ready for any potential problems that could come their way.

A moment passed in which nothing happened, and Kathryn was just about to speak again when Tom spoke up and saved her somewhat of an embarrassment. "Half impulse reached. Captain, it's my official opinion that this has been the smoothest transition to travel I have ever experienced on any ship. It is even smoother than the estimates of the holographic simulation."

"I agree," Kathryn could only say. No matter how good the inertial dampeners on a ship were, you always felt that trace of push against you when the ship speeded up. But not this time. "Full impulse."

"Full impulse reached," Tom said moments later.

Kathryn was impressed. Was it not for the fact that finally some of the stars on the viewscreen had started to move a little, she would have sworn that they were still in orbit around the Urdian Homeworld. "Alright, let's be daring and skip a few steps here. Warp five, and then one warp faster every minute until you reach warp nine. Keep that for ten minutes and then go to maximum warp for one hour. Let's run the engine hot to see how it holds up."

She looked at B'Elanna's station. "Engineering, any reports?"

"Nothing that would stop the tests," B'Elanna assured. "One of the biological relay units has ruptured. But we were warned about that. They rupture within the first hour of use, or they will keep for years."

"We were told that we should expect up to ten ruptures," Seven added. "I have assigned people standing by and..." She hesitated for a moment. "...and we just received a message that the ruptured relay unit has been replaced."

"Seven, you are supposed to be our Astrometrics officer during this test, not B'Elanna's second-in-command," Kathryn reminded. Not that she really minded, but there was such a thing as procedure. "The new position only becomes official when we leave. Jennifer and Megan aren't department heads yet. And talking about that, any reports from Astrometrics?"

"They might not yet be department heads, Astrometrics is nevertheless being staffed by Jennifer and Megan, and the Urdian scientists that adapted the Urdian Astrometrics technology to work with Voyager, it is crowded there as it is. I would not be of use by adding to that crowd," Seven couldn't help but point out before reporting, "Astrometrics reports nothing or interest. With the exception of a gravitational eddy five light-years to our starboard side."

Kathryn was tempted for a moment but then shook her head. "Better keep the stress testing for the second shakedown, when we have the Fleet with us, just in case we need a beam-out."

"Maximum warp," Tom informed. "One hundredth of a percent more and we would be at transwarp." He sounded disappointed when saying the last.

"Hmm, that makes me wonder," Kathryn admitted. She looked to her side where her wife was sitting in the First Officer's chair that Chakotay had graciously vacated for the Admiral, stating that he would prefer to walk the ship and look in on departments first hand during the testing. "Why didn't you ever develop transwarp? You know that it's possible, and with your level of technology, surely you could have succeeded."

"We tried, and we actually did succeed," Brika assured. "But we noticed that the transwarp engine was huge; half the size of the ship, and it used a lot of resources. Now before you point it out, we know that size and cost would have gone down drastically with more testing and developing. But general consensus was that it really was just all one big waste."

Seeing her wife's surprised look, Brika explained. "You have to remember where we come from, what we use space for. We only need starships to patrol our territory and cargo shipping. For the rest we only need them when new Fleets are created to leave the planet. With both, transwarp is not needed. For defense our sensors are powerful enough to tell us where our ships need to be for intercepts of incoming ships. And with Fleets, well the whole point is that they leave to live in space and maybe settle on some planet some day. Why rush that with transwarp when you want them to live in space anyway?"

"I guess you have a point," Kathryn admitted. "But it just seems weird to me to not develop a technology you can develop, simply because it's more than you need. I would rather go for the better have it and not use it, then not have it and need it, mentality."

"Yes, you told me about something like that," Brika agreed. "Something of Starfleet believing in 'better safe than sorry' or something like that."

"Well, on this one I happen to agree with them," Kathryn said with a smirk. By now the Starfleet Vs Federation tirades of Kathryn had become somewhat of an entertainment between her and Brika. Something only done in private of course; she was a Starfleet Captain after all.

"We Urdians belief more in, 'if you need it; build the best. If you don't need it, why bother building it?'" Brika pointed out. "You can see it with our ships. You once told me that Starfleet has dozens of ship types, we have only two. The shuttles and the generation ships. In fact, we simply call the generation ships 'ships' because everyone knows that if you meant the other kind you would have said 'shuttle'. That's also why we have that basic design for five hundred years now. Starfleet gets a new ship and has to test it, and it takes years for the small faults to show as well. We don't have to test our ships, besides seeing that everything works or if someone forgot to plug something in. But we do update. With every new technology we create, or old technology we improve, we also see if it can be used on our ships. And now we have a five hundred year old design... that is as modern as it can be."

"Yeah, but only one kind of ship, it's a compromise by definition," Kathryn insisted.

"Really? Alright, tell me one thing that your Starfleet ships can do that can't also be done by using one of these ships."

"Smaller ships are more maneuverable," Kathryn said. "Voyager will be able to run circles around any of those ships."

Brika smiled. "Nice try, but no price. I said things they can do. Maneuverability is just a spec. So Voyager can turn faster than The Glory, does that mean that the Glory can't reach the same spots that Voyager can?"

"How about cargo?" Kathryn asked, not answering the question and thereby answering it at the same time. "We have certain classes that are designed for bulk transport."

"So are our ships," Brika said. Seeing the skeptical look, she explained. "The Glory is a generational ship. Just think how many rooms that means where you can store goods instead of people if you want to ship cargo. But that's only in a pinch. We have certain ships that have been adapted for cargo use. But granted, it means keeping it in mind when the ship is build. As we talked about before, the quarters that everyone lives in? They are prefab blocks. When a ship is tagged to become a cargo ship those blocks are not installed, leaving entire decks empty of anything but structural supports and dampening fields to keep stuff in place. And decks are also not a limitation. These ships have been designed in such a way that in certain parts decks can be removed as well. In fact, four decks below the bridge of the Glory there starts such an area. Twenty decks can be removed there, over a length of four hundred meters and a width of three hundred meters. Basically creating a huge four hundred by three hundred meter empty area."

"That's big enough to park Voyager in," Kathryn said, giving up trying to find a spot where Starfleet ships would be better.

"With room to spare to start building a second ship beside it," B'Elanna mumbled, having heard the conversations since the Admiral and Captain weren't trying to be quiet.

Quite right," Kathryn agreed. Then she asked Brika, "Why isn't one of those cargo ships in the Fleet?"

Brika shrugged. "We don't need it. We have twenty ships and every one of them has several cargo areas. We can carry our own cargo."

Kathryn shook her head. "Voyager also has cargo bays that can hold enough that technically the ship doesn't need to make stops for six months. Yet we were forced to think up that replicator rations idea for a reason. We don't know what we will come across. I know that for previous fleets that wasn't a problem. If they ran low on something they could just scan for a planet and head off in that direction. And if it was a trip of a week... so what? Who knows, they might just decide to take the new direction as their direction to move on in afterwards."

She shook her head again. "We don't have that. We have a clear goal in mind. While we will always be able to make stops for supplies, we will also always have to weigh supplies against time. If the scans show an interesting planet ahead, sure we can bend the course a bit and have a visit. But if that planet is a month off to one side, we just can't do it. Not if we want to reach the Alpha Quadrant any time this century. And that is still the general idea of the Fleet tagging along; that they too will reach the Alpha Quadrant at some time. Is it not?"

"It is," Brika said slowly. She had to admit that her wife had a point; they couldn't treat this journey like the Fleets before had treated their journeys.

"Our journey on Voyager has proven that we need room for a surplus," Kathryn continued. "You never know when that planet where you can stock up comes along. And more often than not it's not a perfect location and you don't get all you want. Or some people are already living there and you need to barter for resources. But to do that you need something in your cargo bays that you can barter with, that you yourself won't miss. I lost count of the times we stocked up on stuff we knew before we couldn't use. But we still took it because at that moment we had the room, and also knew that all in all it was something a lot of people on other planets are always interested in. Metals for instance. Just think about it, you can build starships in space, but how are you going to build a starship if you don't have the metal ore to make the metal you need?"

"We would wait a little longer," Brika pointed out. "We start building a new ship when we see that our numbers are getting too big. But remember, we have a five hundred people buffer per ship. We have two thousand people per ship, but we can house two and a half. Just that now we have a few decks locked off for all but basic life support to preserve energy. So when we see that we are getting close to those two and a half thousand people per ship, we start building extra ships. But since we are talking about people that are growing up from babies to people that need their own quarters we have the luxury of several years between when we see that we need extra ships and when we truly need them. So if the species of a planet doesn't want to give us what we need, we move on to the next planet."

Kathryn sighed. "Fine, then what about if you come across a species that is in control over a big area of space. Let's say a Federation kind of thing. And let's say that they have the weapons to blow you to bits if you try to take something. The Federation is eight thousand light-years across, at warp nine that would take you something like five years. Even at warp nine point nine-nine it would take you over a year. And that is if they allow you to cross their space instead of telling you to go around. Then even you don't have the luxury to wait until you find a place that gives you what you want."

Kathryn pointed a finger at her wife. "Not all species out there are as generous as your species, Admiral. But let's actually take your species. The Urdians bent over backwards to help us. And before that you welcomed us to your planet with open arms. But what would you have said if we had told you that we would like to mine on your planet for enough ore to build a ship the size of The Glory? Or if we asked you to hand us one of your ships?"

Kathryn pointed over her shoulder with her thumb. "That Fleet of yours back there is going to tag along with us, but it's still your property. You helped us, you upgraded Voyager for us, but if you look at physical resources used, tonnage wise it comes down to enough material for building four shuttles from scratch at most. Our shuttles, not your kind. It was really the technology that was the gift you agave us, not the materials. You showed us how to make a better warp core that would still play nice with our technology, but tonnage wise, it was still only twelve tons of materials."

"So you would like a cargo ship with the Fleet?" Brika asked just to be clear.

"It's the Fleet not Voyager, so that's for your people to decide," Kathryn said, knowing only too well where the line was. "I'm merely making a suggestion. And that suggestion is, yes, it's better to have a cargo ship with the Fleet. Something that can actually carry all the resources to build a new ship in its hold, or at least enough to make sure that you can build for a few months. That way we can skip planets that want to put up a fight or that are too far out of the way. And you can stock up again when we happen to come by an uninhabited planet anyway. Plus the stops wouldn't need to be unreasonably long. The mining detail could harvest for a day or two and then we would be on our way again. And the next time we make a stop another little bit is mined. Much better than having to stay in one place and stock up all that is needed to build a ship at once."

"Admiral?" B'Elanna asked.


"Permission to butt into your conversation?"

"Permission granted," Brika said amused.

"Admiral, I think that the Captain has a good point. And I would like to offer that it would be a good idea if that cargo ship does have several decks removed to give a place to build things."

"And why is that?"

"Well, you can build ships in space, yes, but one reason for that is because you don't first have to test things," B'Elanna pointed out. "You know that they will work and you simply bolt parts together in space that will then become too big to be still in a ship. You said that part of Urdian mentality is that you build stuff when needed, and then build the best of it that you can. But part of Voyager's mentality is to try new stuff. We come across a new technology and see what we can do with it. While it can be argued that if we want to do such testing that we have to do it on Voyager, would it not be better if we can do it on a bigger ship with more room so that we aren't limited in size to just a lab or hangar bay at best? You just have ships of the kind that the Glory is, and shuttles. But what if along the way we want to test with a hybrid? An Intrepid class... that's Voyager's class... ship that is solely build of Urdian technology for instance?"

"Doubtful," Brika said.

"Maybe," B'Elanna agreed. "But the point is, who knows? As you just said, the Federation mentality is 'better safe than sorry'. It would be better if we have such a cargo ship with us from the start and then maybe only ever use it for one tenth of its room, than finding while we are underway that we need one and then have to first build one. Especially if you keep in mind that it's still the same kind of ship as the Glory and if we really end up not needing it, well, you can always adapt it to be a generation ship instead of a cargo ship. Or some middle ground of, say, a generation ship that has five times as much cargo room as the other generation ships."

"Well, in any case, it's too late now to build a cargo ship to join the Fleet," Brika pointed out. "But I will convey your opinions to my government. Maybe one of the ships that is already in use for transport between our colonies could be approached to see if they want to volunteer to join us. I think that would be the easiest option. Since those ships are always on the move to and from colonies, they are normally staffed by families where taking care of the ship is passed on from parents to children. And it's not like they would leave a home behind since the ship would go as well."

Kathryn looked at B'Elanna and grinned before suggesting jokingly to her wife, "You could tell them that this is their chance to join B'Elanna's House and become one with the Mountain Tribes Clans."

B'Elanna merely rolled her eyes. But it was Kathryn that groaned when Brika said brightly, "Why, that's a great idea. I'm sure we will find some volunteers that way."

A few days later Kathryn would really wish that she hadn't made that joke. It would be when her wife would inform her that actually four ships had volunteered, but that 'only' two cargo ships would join the Fleet since otherwise the traffic between colonies would be unacceptably stressed.

"Captain, sensors are picking up a ship to our starboard side," Tuvok suddenly spoke up. "It's of non-Urdian design, sixty-two meters long, two decks, and one hour away at maximum warp. Power reserves seem to be dangerously low and it is leaking air into space. Sensors indicate that at the moment the air generators produce more air as is being lost, barely. There seems to be only enough replicator base substance left to produce about twenty-two hours' worth of air, unless the leak is sealed."

Kathryn looked at Brika for a moment.

"Your call, Captain. I'm merely here as an observer."

Kathryn nodded. "Tuvok, any distress calls or messages?"

"No Captain. But sensors are picking up seven Urdian life signs, six of which are dangerously weak."

"Urdians on a non-Urdian ship? I think we need to take a look," Kathryn decided. "Their sensors and communication might be down and they don't know that a ship is in the area. Yellow alert. Tom, set an intercept course. B'Elanna, Seven, you prepare to beam over there. Take tools along; you might need them. Tuvok, pick two security members to go with them."

She hesitated for a moment. "B'Elanna, take two Urdians along. They are here to observe after all."

"Yes Captain," B'Elanna said while handing her console over to the ensign that had just entered the bridge as a result of the yellow alert being called. She tapped her com. badge to open a channel. "Torres to Olik and Kinal. Are you interested in joining us on a little mission?"

"Where and when?" Olik's deep voice came back.

"Transporter room, now," B'Elanna replied with a grin.

"Care to tell me why they are on Voyager for a test?" Kathryn asked once the channel was closed.

"I invited them as part of my observation team," Brika spoke up. "They are the representatives of the biggest Clan. People know that they speak with honor. If they talk, others listen."

Kathryn looked at B'Elanna. "And you take them along because..."

"Because one is a doctor and life signs indicate that we might need one," B'Elanna explained. "And the other is big enough for our security members to hide behind him if they want to."

Kathryn nodded. She couldn't really argue either reason. She was satisfied that they were not selected because they were important people in B'Elanna's House, but simply because they were best suited for the job. "Get going."

"Kahless, this stuff is ready for the garbage bin," B'Elanna said as she looked around the ship. "And that's coming from me. If we had an Urdian Engineer with us they would be crying right about now."

"Even the best technology will become old and dilapidated over time if you don't look after it," Kinal said as she tried to wipe some grime off her hand.

"True enough," B'Elanna had to agree. "So, any educated guess why there are Urdians on a non-Urdian ship that's pointed in a direction that is away from Urdia Genera?"

Kinal shrugged. "It's not that uncommon. People hear of life in the colonies and like the stories, but they don't want to go to one of the established colonies. No, they want to be pilgrims. To go out between the stars, but not be limited by colony or Fleet mentality. So they sell their possessions, buy a starship and just pick a direction. As you can see, unless you have a lot of possessions it doesn't buy you much of a ship."

"I am surprised that there is a ship to buy in the first place," Seven noted. "Just before we beamed over, Admiral Brika pointed out that the Urdians only have two kinds of ships; this is neither of those kinds. And the ship Tom brought onto The Glory is also not an Urdian design."

"True," Kinal agreed. "But you have to remember that Voyager wasn't the first ship that came across our planet. Just that Voyager finally brought the explanation as to why all those people were so eager to join us. Eventually their ships are normally scrapped for the base metal. Unless of course someone happens to come by at the right time and offers the scrapping yard more for the ship than what the base materials would bring."

"Personally I'm more surprised by the lack of security devices," Olik noted while looking at a scanner. "Since these kinds of ships are leaving the space that is under our control, they normally are smart enough to install security, if it wasn't already on the ship to begin with."

"What, I thought there was no crime with you Urdians," B'Elanna pointed out, liking the fact that apparently nothing was that black and white.

They entered another room in the ship and were faced with even more decay. The ship might have been about one sixth of Voyager's size in length, but it was only about one hundredth of the quality.

"There isn't," Kinal agreed. "Or it would be better to say that there is no unsolved crime. Do you really think that not once in our history a jealous lover killed their partner in a fit of rage? Or that someone was pushed off a building? Or that a friendly drink in a bar ended up with a healer being needed? Sure things happen, just that they are resolved within minutes. And that resolve can also be that both parties shake hands and make up."

"I can attest to that," Olik added. "But it's more complex when you think further. If there is no crime, why do we have a Defense Force? Why do we have weapons? Why do we have starships patrolling our territory? Why doesn't our government object to certain people, like us Mountain Tribes Clans, keeping the traditions of warriors alive? I tell you why. Because there is always the chance that someone comes by and tries to take something that belongs to us. If they land, that's not that much of a problem because of the element in the air and them then suddenly wanting to stay. But we have colonies where there is none such element. No, things do happen. Just that we have become experts at dealing with them before they can fester and affect the society."

"I guess you have a point," B'Elanna admitted, thinking back to the incident where she had been shaking Tom around a bit. The Defense Force people had shown up in minutes. But still, that would have been enough time to kill Tom. Just that she wouldn't have gotten away with it.

"The weaker life signs are in the room up ahead," Seven informed. "The stronger life sign has been all around us. My guess is that it is a person that is making good use of the fact that they know the ship and how to move without being seen."

They entered the next room and finally found what they were looking for. Against one wall stood a bank of seven cryogenic chambers. The forms in six of them indicated clearly that they were in use.

"That explains the weak life signs," One of Voyagers security members pointed out.

Kinal shook her head and moved closer to the units. "No, sensors would still have picked their signs up as strong if they were alright; they are calibrated to keep cryo units in mind."

As Kinal started to move a scanner over the glass of the units, B'Elanna wondered, "Why use cryo units? Granted, I didn't read all about your society that I should have by now, but I don't get the impression that you use cryo technology a lot."

"Rarely at all," Olik agreed. "Normally you only find one or two of them on ships that are heading out for exploration. And only there in sickbay so that people can be put in them if something happens that would mean that someone won't be able to make it home. But it's not unheard of for people that want to head out on their own to buy a few old stasis units and use them to compensate for the fact that the ship they bought isn't the fastest. Simply set the cryo cycle for a year or two and see where the ship ended up by then."

"Exploration?" B'Elanna asked.

"Exploration is different than what we are going to do," Olik explained. "With exploration it's assumed that you come back. Go out in a direction where we don't have too much information about, get some info, and then come back home. You can kinda compare it to those cargo ships you were talking about when you entered the transporter room. It's the same in that you know up front that it's a return trip, and there is an estimation in when you will be back home. Why were you talking about cargo ships anyway?"

"Oh, right, we are going to see about getting one of those," B'Elanna started before being interrupted by Kinal.

"They are too far gone. If I take them out now they will only die. I think it's for the best if we leave them and instead simply pull the ship with us in a tractor beam. Once we are back, experts in the field can have a look."

"Leave them, and leave the ship," A soft voice suddenly said.

They turned in the direction where they thought the voice had come from, but Seven pointed out, "It is the other life sign, and it has already moved."

"I'm afraid we can't do that," B'Elanna answered to voice. "Why don't you,"

She was interrupted by someone suddenly landing between them, apparently having jumped off an unseen second level to the room. The person moved like a wave between them, but it was a wave of devastation. A fist hit Olik against his chest in a single hit, and he toppled over backwards, not moving once he was down. Seven was hit on her arm and the scanner dropped from her fingers as the arm dropped to hang unusable by her side. The two security members of Voyager were next. One was hit on the leg, and the other on the inside of his arm. Both went down and lay shaking on the floor as if hit by a bold of lightning.

Kinal was tackled to the floor and a hand came down with lethal skill, only to stop a fraction from her throat when her assailant saw her facial tattoo. "Stay down healer, I don't want to hurt you."

The woman, for her voice had indicated that she was a woman, moved off Kinal. Only to duck away when suddenly a blue beam of light hit the wall beside her. Before she could move further, the wall was hit again on her other side, stopping her from moving in that direction. She looked in the direction where the shots had come from and saw the strange looking woman with the ridges on her head pointing a weapon at her.

"The next one will hit," B'Elanna warned. "And just so that you know, I never used one of these weapons before. I don't know if it is set to stun or... what was the other option, mining?"

The woman straightened a little. As fast as she was, she wasn't faster than a beam of light. So she had to focus on the stranger, to see the signs that she was going to push the trigger button. "You are not Urdian. What species are you from, pirate?"

"Half Klingon, half Human," B'Elanna said frowning. "Pirate? I'm not a pirate."

"Yeah, that sounds believable, coming from someone whose healer was just talking about taking the ship."

"His heart stopped beating," Kinal said urgently, having moved to her brother to check him out. "We need to beam him to sickbay."

"He dies, you die," B'Elanna said to the woman. "Kinal, contact,"

"Move healer," The woman said shortly as she moved to Olik's side, never leaving the strange looking woman out of her peripheral vision. When the woman with the weapon made no move to stop her, and the healer left the big man's side, she kneeled beside him. She tilted her head for a moment as if listening for something before suddenly hitting his chest once more. Then she leaned on him and pushed down on him twice before standing up again.

"He'll be fine. His heart is beating again and should have its normal rhythm back. It wasn't damaged, merely stopped. He has some cracked ribs though. If you have a bone knitter then he should be walking around again one hour after his ribs are healed."

"He is Olik, I don't think a few cracked ribs will keep him from walking around before the bones are healed," Kinal said with clear pride in her family.

B'Elanna looked at the others that had also been attacked. All of them were moving and holding the place where they were hit. "How is your arm?" She asked Seven.

"I believe that some nerve endings were overexcited, resulting in me not being able to move my arm. I can move it again, mostly, and the effect should wear off completely in half an hour or so, Lieutenant. However, I do believe that if I had not been Borg, I would have also fallen to the floor. My cranial implant measured a massive nervous system overload, and shut down said system for a second until the electronic storm passed."

Seven hesitated before adding, "It is actually a very impressive result from a single hit that by itself hardly hurt. It would have taken out any Urdian and a lot of other Humanoid species, including Humans and Klingons, unless they have Borg implants."

B'Elanna rolled her eyes and asked again, this time more personal. "How are you, my be'nal?"

"I am fine," Seven assured with a smile. "A pins and needles sensation you would say, but that is all."

B'Elanna nodded before looking back at the woman.

Kinal had come back to check her brother, and once she was sure that the strange woman had told the truth she stood up. "Except for when Olik will walk around again, her assessment was correct. Though I would say that my brother's biggest wound will be the fact that he wasn't able to fight before being taken down, and not the cracked ribs."

As Kinal stood beside the unknown woman, B'Elanna noted that the stranger was only a few centimeters taller than the healer. Her shoulder width was also not much wider. The stranger looked just as diminutive as the healer she was standing beside. Someone you would easily ignore in a fight. And yet the woman had just played havoc on the away team. Had taken almost all of them out in less than three seconds. Kahless, she had basically killed the huge Olik with a single hit. The only reason why the big guy wasn't dead was because she had also saved him again.

"Um, there is a little knob at the side of that weapon," The woman said, pointing a finger as if pushing a button in the air from the side. Could you please tell me what color the little arrow is pointing at?"

B'Elanna rotated the weapon so that she could look at the side, but that it was still pointed at the stranger. "Purple."

The woman nodded. "Could you perhaps turn that to white? I don't want to be vaporized just yet."

"White is light stun, which will immobilize someone for a few seconds; enough to overpower them," Kinal explained. "Green is heavy stun, and will knock most Urdians out for an hour or so. Yellow is deadly, or enough power to warm stones and metal to provide a heat source, blue is light source, and purple is mining drill/cutting tool."

B'Elanna looked passed the unknown woman at the wall she had just shot at, only noticing now that both hits had left a nice round hole in the metal about the width of B'Elanna's thumb. "Man, Brika wasn't kidding when she said that you believe in tools that can do more than one thing. I think we can be glad you weren't standing against the hull wall." She turned the little knob before looking at the woman and adding, "I turned it to green by the way. The way you move I wouldn't be surprised if you trained in being able to resist normal stun."

The woman's expression had changed when she had heard 'Brika' being said. "Um, this Brika, would that be Admiral Brika Danana?"

"Close," B'Elanna partially agreed. "It's Admiral Brika Danara."

The woman groaned and covered her face with her hands. "Yeah I know the name; I was just testing. Oh, she is sooo going to kick my butt. Sorry. You are the strangers, right? The ones that landed on our planet and as it turned out were affected by something in the air?"

"That would be us," B'Elanna agreed. "We are testing our ship when we noticed this ship. Seeing that it is leaking air into space we decided to check it out. Admiral Danara is on the ship by the way. Do you know her?"

"Well, I haven't seen her in fifteen years and back then she wasn't Admiral yet. She is my mother's sister's lover's niece's husband's brother's daughter. The last time I saw her she had put me over her knee and spanked my behind raw for breaking a family heirloom by throwing it against the wall in a temper tantrum."

"Mother's sister's, lo..." B'Elanna started, only to then decide to not even bother trying to figure out the connection. "She is older than you though," B'Elanna finally said, noting that the stranger looked about as old as Kinal.

"Yeah well, there are a lot of ties there, and not everyone squared off with someone their own age, catch my drift? Aunty Brika, as I called her back then, is twenty-three years older than me. I'm, twenty-four by the way."

"Damn, I never gave Brika a day over thirty," B'Elanna mumbled.

"Urdians are different than Humans," Seven reminded. They age more like you and I will."

I will look as great as her when I'm almost fifty?" B'Elanna said happily.

Seven nodded her head confidently. "You are a Klingon/Human mix that has shown to have more of the Klingon body than the Human body, so I would say yes with almost complete certainty. Just like with full Klingons, old age will not be a burden to you. And I have my nanoprobes."

"Which is enough said," B'Elanna said in understanding. She was happy about that little discovery. She knew of course that Klingons lived to be as old as Humans. But even though they became gray haired over time, they never grew old in the same way Humans did. The Human body became frail and weak with old age, but the Klingon body stayed strong and healthy, and very much in shape if the Klingon worked on staying in shape. It was not uncommon for Klingons that were in their hundred to still serve in armies and be able to keep up with the young rookies. She hadn't realized until Seven assured her just now that she would have inherited that trait as well. But, she realized, that was something to think about later.

Looking at the woman she asked," Can I lower this weapon... what's your name by the way?"

"Yeah you can. Sorry, I really thought you were pirates. You aren't in uniform, Urdian uniform at least. I'm hired as security so I have to protect this pile of junk whether I want to or not. And my name is Ina Dranzo."

B'Elanna put her weapon away. "And I'm B'Elanna Torres of the House of BortaS, serving on the USS Voyager."

She made introductions of the others before explaining. "That's why we have these uniforms. And Kinal and Olik are Mountain Tribes Clan members, so they will only start wearing the Urdian uniforms once we get going."

"Hi all," Ina said. Then she looked at the now standing Olik and cringed. "Heh, your healer knows you well, you should still be out. Sorry about that. Please don't tell me that your pride is hurt or something and that you have to fight me. I don't want to hurt you again."

Olik laughed, only to stop and hold a hand against his chest. "Ow, that hurts. Neh, our pride doesn't get hurt by being defeated. Being defeated merely shows us that we have to train more. Though I have to admit that my pride did get dented a bit by the speed of which I was taken out."

"Are these family members of yours?" Seven asked, indicating the cryo units. "And why are you not in one of these units as well? There is one for you I see."

"Because my unit was set to awaken me every time an alarm went off. After being awoken fourteen times, I decided to not bother getting back in. And no, these are not family members; they are the tight asses that called themselves my employers."

"They will die if we leave them," Kinal informed.

"And scans show that power reserves and life-support systems are working at a minimum as well," Seven added. "Ina, if you stay here you will die with them."

Surprisingly, Ina brightened at the words. "So that means that I can legally step out of the contract for reason of unreasonable life endangerment. Great!"

"We are going to pull the ship back to the Urdian Homeworld," Seven informed. "I am sure that you are welcome on Voyager for that time being. There you can meet Brika as well. Unless you want to stay here. You should be safe for another couple of hours. Once back you can see about your contract with these people, once and if, cryo experts are able to revive them."

Ina shook her head. "No, if you are willing to offer me a ride then I'll take it and be done with these fools. The only reason I'm here is because we had a contract. And while it's not illegal to head out on a piece of junk like this, it's illegal to break a contract without good reason. Now I have one; they endangered my life more than can reasonably be expected. I'm obliged to give my life if necessary to protect them from dangers coming from outside the ship, but not from dangers that is the ship. No, I'm gone."

"In that case, let's beam back to Voyager," B'Elanna started.

"Um, can I have a minute?" Ina interrupted. "I still have some possessions in my quarters. Some of them are sentimental items that cannot be replaced."

B'Elanna hesitated for a moment, then she nodded. "Alright, in the mean time we contact Voyager to let them know what's going on. Can I tell Brika that you are here, and that you say that she knows you?"

Ina grinned. "Sure, if you tell me later if she groaned when hearing my name."

B'Elanna pointed to one of the Voyager security members. "Go with her, to help her carry."

Everyone translated that to, 'make sure that she doesn't do anything to endanger us'.

"How about I'll go along?" Kinal offered before deciding to do away with pretense. "I'm a healer, and she already proved that she won't hurt me because of that."

B'Elanna nodded her agreement. Once they were gone she turned to Seven. "Set that scanner for Kinal's vital signs. Anything irregular, we are notified."

"Yes Lieutenant," Seven said, knowing that this time her commanding officer had been speaking, and not her be'nal.

Part 15

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