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 16

As they were walking from the transporter room to the conference room, Seven slowed Kinal down a little until they were a few paces behind the others. "Are you sure you want to marry her?"

"Sure, why not?" Kinal asked confused. "By merely being part of our Clan she already enhances our reputation... once people find out who and what she is."

"I have no doubt," Seven agreed. "However, when the trace element was purged from our bodies, a few things about Urdian relationships was explained to us. Besides the fact that you mate for life, we were also told that normally courtship exists out of two people meeting that feel 'that' attraction to each other. After that they simply 'go for it' and do not care about things like family, or I guess now in your case, Clan. However from your own words it is obvious that you do not feel this attraction towards her. What if you marry her and then in a few weeks you do meet that person that you feel 'that' attraction to?"

Kinal frowned. "Well, 'that attraction' is a really abbreviated version of the facts. But I can see why they would explain it like that to you; it does get the point across. But it's much more than that. For instance, did you wonder why others would just accept that? If two families hate each other for some reason, yet they would just allow their children to live together just because of some attraction?"

"I see your point," Seven agreed.

"Yes, family and even Clan comes second place," Kinal explained. "I proposed to her, if the Clan would now reject Ina for some reason, I would leave with her and have my Clan tattoo removed."

She smiled. "But Lady Seven, you are so good with numbers. Tell me, how big are the chances that two people meet that feel that attraction to each other? Oh, it happens often enough, and when it does even family feuds are not enough to stop it. But there are a multitude more cases where one person feels that attraction for someone, and it's not returned. Take you and my Lord. You also have an attraction for each other. But couldn't it just as easy have happened that for instance she felt an attraction for that friend of yours... Tom? And you felt an attraction for her? Then what?"

Kinal clearly had no idea of just how spot on her guess was. B'Elanna and Tom had slept with each other just because they both wanted sex. But how long would that have continued before love would raise its head? And even when Seven and B'Elanna were still hostile to each other, Seven had always felt a certain attraction to the volatile woman. Now Tom was a good friend of theirs, and she loved B'Elanna more than life itself. But it could have been so different so easily.

"Then we would have been three miserable people," Seven finally said. "B'Elanna and Tom make excellent friends, but would not last long in a romantic relationship, I am sure."

"Well, such one-sided attractions actually happen a lot with us," Kinal continued. "And it's always dealt with in one of two ways. Either it's ignored and the person with the attraction eventually feels an attraction to someone else. Or the person that is not attracted nevertheless enters into a life relationship for other reasons."

Kinal nodded in the direction of Ina, who was about ten meters ahead of them by now. "She feels that attraction to me. She is new to relationships and thinks that it's a case of love at first sight."

She shrugged. "Who knows, you might actually call this attraction that. Just because we know the chemical explanation, doesn't mean that it's no longer magical. The important part is that the attraction is there, and very strong, and I would be a fool not to react to it."

"And spend the rest of your life with a person you do not even love?" Seven asked.

"Yet," Kinal corrected. "Lady Seven, this attraction is a great thing, no doubt. But it's not an attraction that makes us spend decades together and wonder every day how we could be so lucky. You can still feel an attraction for someone who you much rather just knock senseless."

"True," Seven agreed, trying hard not to smile.

"No, it's not the attraction that keeps us together, it only brings a lot of us together. Not, it's the fact that... well, I'm a healer so let me be crude and say what others would describe in metaphor. It's the sex. When an Urdian reaches a sexual climax, hormones are released into the body."

"As with Humans, Klingons, and most species I know actually," Seven noted.

"Well, with us Urdians there is a hormone released by the body when we climax that actually works much on us like the element in our air worked on you, just that it doesn't affect memory. It makes us feel happy, good, like we wouldn't want to be anywhere else. And at that moment of sexual climax when those hormones are released we see our lover, smell them, hear them, feel them. Over time the body makes a connection. Over time, because casual sex won't do it. But if we sleep with only one person, then over the duration of about six months, the mind and body make a connection. The mind actually takes the sex out of the equation then and makes the connection; 'partner equals happy, equals feeling wonderful, equals love'. Then the sex isn't even needed anymore."

Seven merely looked at her and Kinal grinned. "Oh, we still crave it because then a huge load of the hormones are released. But it's no longer a must, because the brain already made that connection. Then just seeing your partner smile at you already triggers the release of a few hormones. I know that with your people it's also nice to see a partner smile at you, I did read up on several of the species on Voyager. But with us it's much more. Seeing our partner smile at us literally makes us feel physically good. Hearing the voice, feeling a gentle caress. A hug, a kiss. All of it triggers some of the hormones, all of it feels good to us physically as well as mentally. Bottom line is, we literally get addicted to our partners."

"Addicted," Seven repeated. "As in physically needing them? As in there not just being an emotional need?"

Kinal nodded her head. "Yes. Because then it's really no longer the sex. Mind you, sex is still fun and greatly enjoyed. And a married couple almost always has a very healthy and may I say active, sex life. But the point is, if need be someone could sleep with someone they are not married to, or take matters into their own hand so to speak. That would also take care of that big release of hormones that our body is addicted to by then. But the reason why I said we get addicted to our partner instead of saying that we get addicted to sexual release is because by the time we are married to someone we crave something else a lot more. Sex, it floods our body with the hormones so we also want that. We do want to get this incredible high of reaching our peak. But, well, let me compare it to food."

"Food?" Seven asked amused.

"Yes," Kinal assured. "You see, you could say that when we have sex, we get this huge plate full of food that fills us up and takes care very nicely of this hunger feeling. But once we have eaten, we don't feel hungry for some time. But our addiction to our partner, it's more of a tease. Exactly because only a few hormones are released every time. We see our partner smile at us, a few hormones are released, we feel good, and we want to see that smile again. To compare to food again, it's like being hungry, but this time you don't get a big plate of food. Instead your partner hand feeds you a tasty one bite morsel."

"I see what you mean," Seven said in understanding. "That one bite is enough for only one minute. You are still hungry, you still want more. Yet at the same time you love your partner all the more because she gave you that little treat. And then she smiles at you, and you get another little 'bite'. She places a kiss on the top of your head and you get another little bite. You get bites of food the entire day. So you are not starving, you even like the way you are being fed, but at each point you are also hungry enough that you want more, you want another treat, you want another... smile."

Kinal gentled her voice and it filled with emotion. "We crave to see that face, we crave to hear those three small words, we crave... love. We crave it like it's a drug; and it is. Just that it's a natural drug created by the body. So you see, I am not worried at all about being married to Ina even without that attraction. As long as I put something of an effort in, and I will, and as long as we make love at least twice a week, and I plan on more, then I'll have a great and wonderful life with my wife."

"I see," Seven said. "However, body and soul are two things. You can get addicted to a partner, but you also just said yourself that one can feel an attraction to someone one would rather hit in the face than kiss. So does it not happen that you crave your partner, but at the same time cannot stand them? Take Ina actually, she talked about the training she did. I am certain that she has to train each day just to keep her expertise up. Can it not happen that you will grow to love her, and grow to hate her for not spending those hours with you?"

Kinal shook her head. "No, it is that love for each other that makes it so. That love and the fact that we Urdians are capable of doing independent stuff. For instance, if Ina has to train that much, I will more than likely just end up watching her a lot of the time. I am Clan after all. Training is not new to me. But had I been a city girl, then I might never get that whole training thing my partner does and so I would let her go off and do it by herself while I go do other things by myself. And then, because there is that love, that addiction, when we get together again at the end of the day I would ask her about her day and she would ask about mine. I would willingly listen to her telling me about her training even though to me it sounds boring as hell. Why? Because then the whole 'craving a smile' thing comes back. She may be talking about the most boring stuff ever, but she is smiling as she does so, she is enthusiastic, her voice is filled with eagerness for her, in my mind boring, hobby. And because of that, even listening to something that I don't care about, makes me feel good."

Seven nodded. "Humans have a saying of sorts. If they want to describe someone having a very good or sexy voice, they say; 'I could come from hearing her read a user's manual'. It is something like that foe you then. It is the voice, the eagerness, and not the subject."

Kinal smiled. "Yeah, we have a saying like that too, and yes, it is exactly like that. In half a year she can tell me about her training with enthusiasm and it will make me feel good, or she can tell me about it sensually and it will make me feel horny."

"We have to inform Captain Janeway of this."

"Why?" Kinal asked confused.

"Because we often have away missions that last weeks," Seven explained. "The Captain needs to know that on such missions she needs to put couples together, even if one of them is not really needed for the mission. Most drugs I know have a withdrawal phase and we would not want to put people through unneeded suffering."

Kinal nodded. "Good point. Yeah, for people that are mated a separation hurts over time. And the bad part is that it never really stops as long as that partner is still alive. It's only if they die. Then you eventually get over the addiction to the partner. And only then if the death is certain. If a body is found, if DNA traces were found. But if someone is missing in a situation where it's damn sure they are dead, but there is no proof, then the hurt can literally last for the rest of one's life. Say if Ina and I had been mated and she had that job on that ship, and it had exploded. There might be proof that the ship is destroyed, but is there proof that Ina is dead? Maybe she, maybe it, maybe, maybe, maybe."

"And having proof changes this?" Seven asked, mostly to get that explained since Kinal had just said it did.

The healer nodded. "It's as if only then the mind realizes that the partner can no longer give you the drug you need, so now it's alright to stop the use of it. Or better said, that it's alright if someone else or you yourself trigger the hormones."

"Yourself?" Seven repeated.

Kinal shrugged. "Sure, sexual climax doesn't need a partner. Self pleasure also releases the hormones. The suggestion of masturbation is actually a common prescription for the loss of a partner. It won't give you your partner back, but at least it takes away the hurt of a craving on top of the hurt of a loss. As a healer, when I'm faced with such a person I normally suggest that they masturbate at least three times per day for the first couple of weeks."

"Masturbation as a cure?" Seven asked amused.

"It triggers the hormones you need, and on top of that a climax can at least make you forget the loss for a few seconds," Kinal explained.

Seven looked back at the small woman walking further ahead. "Do you think that the two of you will be happy? Happy in a sense that is not only based on craving the other like you just described."

Kinal thought about the question for a moment. "Yeah, I think so. I may not feel 'that' attraction to her, but I feel a whole different kind of attraction that will keep me happy for years, I'm sure."

She smiled at Seven. "Remember, I'm a Mountain Tribes Clan member. I have been raised with the idea that warriors are sexy. And... mmm... just the idea of getting my hands on such a talented and sexy warrior; makes me horny already. If I ever get bored with the relationship, I just go and see her train and kick ass and I'm all good to go again for a few months. Besides, you should see that body that she's hiding under those baggy clothes."

Seven lifted an eyebrow. "Did you already sample the goods while you were in that room?"

"No," Kinal said playfully, adding a long W sound to the end of the no. "I just took a peek. You should see her abs. But I sure intend to sample the goods tonight."

She smiled when she saw her wife to be stumbling a step. "See, she is good. She is talking to my Lord, and yet she is aware of her surroundings. She is listening to every word we say. I would not be able to talk and hold a conversation while listening to another conversation. Oh yeah. Who needs love to start a relationship when I can have her? Love will come, I'm sure, but I can't wait to... sample the goods."

"Well, you certainly look different than the last time I saw you," Brika said after entering Voyager's conference room one.

She looked at the young woman for a moment. Yes, this was the little terror of the family alright. The already dark hair had darkened even more over the years from dark brown to black. The soft angles of a child's face had gone, but Brika could still clearly see the lines of the face that she once wished to never see again. The color of the eyes was still the same though; the same golden color as Brika's own. They weren't related by blood, and therefore it had annoyed Brika all the more back then to look into eyes so much like her own and see a devil reincarnated staring back. "The last thing I heard, your parents finally gave up and shipped you off to a school for difficult children, you were eight then?"

"Nine," Ina corrected. "Hi aunty Brika. And yeah, I was sent to a school for difficult children... I was kicked from it after two months for being too difficult."

B'Elanna snorted, but recovered masterfully. She, Seven, Ina, and Kinal had been waiting in the room for Brika and Kathryn to enter. While Olik had gone to Voyager's sickbay to get his ribs healed by the Doctor. Kinal had wanted to come along to do it, but Olik had refused. He had merely nodded in Ina's direction and told Kinal that she had more important stuff to do.

Brika shook her head. The voice had changed over the years from being a child's voice filled with venom, to a young woman's voice that sounded surprisingly calm and yet still had the sweet threat of slight mischievousness in it. The childish tone had gone in favor of a more mature tenor, but it was no denying that it was the same voice.

"You were kicked from a school for difficult children because you were too difficult?" Brika repeated as she sat down. "Now why doesn't that surprise me? I remember that people went into hiding when they saw your parents coming, just in case you were with them. So what did you do to get kicked?"

Ina grinned. "I threw a chair around. And when a leg broke off, I picked it up and chased the Principal around his desk."

"And the really sad part is that I actually think that's true," Brika sighed.

It was a good thing," Ina assured. "As bad as I thought I was, I really wasn't the worst kid they ever had there. They knew what I really needed was someone that would in such a situation just look at me and ask me if that is the best I got. The Principal knew someone that knew someone that knew how to contact someone else. The next day I was shipped off halfway across the world to Ranki school."

Brika was clearly surprised. Of course, everyone in the world knew the Ranki school. It was where the most lethal martial arts were taught. In fact, Ranki was one of the only few martial arts styles left in the world that still taught how to kill. Most of the other styles had changed over time to be more of a sport where participants fought each other for the glory of winning a cup or ribbon. One of the popular myths was that Ranki students were actually selected on their viciousness and meanness.

Come to think of it, people like Ina. Children that were a terror, that acted mean, that would love to hit you straight in the face, and yet somehow you knew that somewhere deep down in the core there was actually a good person hiding. Rumor had it that Ranki masters never taught their knowledge to people that they suspected of having an evil soul. But until this moment all of that had just been stories Brika had once heard. Myths to scare children with. If you don't do as we say we'll ship you off to Ranki school.

"To my total surprise, I loved it there," Ina continued, oblivious to Brika's thoughts. "I had expected that they would try to change me, try to make me find inner peace and all that crap. But nothing was further from the truth. Only one hour after arriving they had me pounding a training dummy. Urged me on, taunted me that I couldn't even knock a dummy over. I hit that damn thing until I couldn't lift my arms anymore. And when I told them why I stopped they pointed out that I still had two perfectly good feet."

A fond smile came to Ina's lips. It surprised B'Elanna because from all she had heard, this Ranki school was nothing to think back of fondly, but something to be subjected to inspection for child abuse. And that thought was even coming from her Klingon side.

"Every day I got to kick and hit and bite," Ina continued. "Finally, finally I had found the place where I could simply let go. The Masters were so good that I didn't even realize what they were doing. They were putting me through a brutal treatment from day one, and instead of hating them for it, I loved them for finally being people that encouraged me to strike out. That taught me to hit 'this' way because it would do even more damage. It was only five years later that I realized that I had changed. A new kid was brought in, kicking and screaming. He spit at me, and instead of exploding I merely told him kindly that if he did that again I would knock his teeth out."

Ina smiled at the surprised faces. "What? Ranki school doesn't turn us into saints; it merely trains us to use our abilities differently. We don't believe in turning the other cheek; we believe in making sure that the first hit doesn't reach your face. But the point is, only then did I realize that blind rage had been turned into clear thinking. That uncontrollable fury had been turned into controlled passion. That hotheaded irrationality had turned into cold rationality. And with that knowledge, with that realization of just how much I could change if I wanted to, I started to give it my best. Not just in how hard I hit things, but now I also learned how soft was still hard enough. That sometimes a smile or a warning is more dangerous than any hit. But, oh, did I also put extra effort into using my new found inner peace into a lethal ability to learn things that seemed impossible. Only two years later, at the age of sixteen did I become a Ranki Master."

Ina looked at B'Elanna, remembering the conversation on the other ship only too well. "Young, yes, but don't get the impression that I'm some wonder pupil. It's about once every five years that someone is able to become Master at that age. And sever hundred people in history have made it before the age of fourteen."

"Ah, but how many people in the history became a third square Master by the age of twenty-four?" B'Elanna countered with a grin, being more than willing to show some of her enthusiasm to make up for her earlier skepticism.

Brika's eyes widened when hearing the casually spoken question. "You are a third square Ranki Master?" She asked in a soft voice, not being able to make the connection between such a talented person and the eight year old girl she had once put over her knee and spanked senseless.

"Yeah, I am," Ina agreed. Then she looked at B'Elanna. "And to answer your question, on average about one person every hundred years manages that. So it's not unheard of."

"But also not common," B'Elanna persisted.

Ina looked back at Brika and sighed. "Ranki school is a great place to learn martial arts, yes. But unfortunately they focus so much on it that they ignore other things. Oh, I know how to read, know how to write without making too many mistakes, and I even know how to do basic calculus. But other than that... I am called a Master, but only one hour after leaving school grounds I was already scammed out of almost all of my trade points because I had no idea on how to interact in society, on what to do and what not to do. I had no idea that I definitely shouldn't give my Personal Data card to a waiter so that he can go inside and take care of the bill for me. Then I got scammed into taking that job of being security for that pile of junk you are towing. Yes, I'm a Master in one thing, but I'm a novice in the rest of life. So, aunty Brika, can you forget for a moment how much I drove you to contemplating murder in the past, and do you happen to have a reasonable and fair job for a person that found a new way in life?"

Before Brika could respond, Kinal spoke up. "Admiral, you might want to know that I proposed to Ina, and she accepted. Where she goes, I go."

"You proposed?" Brika repeated, the gears in her head turning at top speed. "So she is going to be a Clan member, and then a member of B'Elanna's House." Looking at Ina she asked, "You know that as a Clan member it is your duty to pass on your knowledge to other Clan members?"

"I know," Ina assured. "And I already made clear that I don't have a problem with that. My one condition is that I will only train people that truly want to learn."

"Then I will give you a job in the Fleet that you are an expert at," Brika said. "It's easy. If you accept the offer of joining the Fleet then you will become the martial arts trainer of the House of BortaS... wait, I can't decide that." She looked at B'Elanna. "That's your call, I have nothing to do with your House."

"Oh, there is nothing to call," B'Elanna said right away. "Ina, if you want, I will grand you the position of head trainer in my House. Though you don't use beam weapons, it would also be your responsibility to find someone that can teach that and you would carry the responsibility for a balanced training." She looked at Seven. "My Lady, do you approve?"

"I do," Seven assured.

"Good," Brika said. "And since the leaders of the House of BortaS have given you the position of trainer, I as Admiral now decide that since this is an important job, you are as of now exempt of doing any other job for the Fleet. Your only job will be to train."

"Admiral?" Kathryn asked, not understanding what was going on, and why Brika was so eager for Ina to train in the House of BortaS.

Brika smiled at her. "Captain, to the last of my knowledge all of the Defense Force members in the Fleet have indicated that they want to join the House. As such Ina will train them if they want. And if what I read on Klingon tradition is right, as House members it's the Defense Force members' duty to protect the House. As such they can't possibly turn down the opportunity to be taught by a Ranki Master."

Having given the reasoning for the position, Brika explained the why. "I have to think further than now. We Urdians have very advanced weapons, yes. So much so that over the last century or so personal fighting abilities has diminished greatly. On our planet that's fine. It doesn't matter that there martial arts is a sport practiced by less than one percent of the population. There we don't really need that ability anymore. We have our weapons to protect us from threats from space, and our personal conflicts are normally settled in court, if they even get past the informal mediation stage."

Brika pointed a finger at the window. "But out there... as much as I don't respond much to the stories you tell me of Voyager's adventures, Kathryn, I do listen. How often didn't you come across a species that was inferior to you in technology, yet your people needed to physically fight at some point to get out of danger? I want the Defense Force members to be able to fight if needed. You yourself pointed out not long ago to me that you feel that the Defense Force members we have are not a good enough force. Tuvok is putting a proposal together as we speak. And if we are going to improve the Defense Force, then I want those Defense Force members to be able to take on three people per person and be the last one standing. By making a Ranki Master the trainer of the House of BortaS that will happen."

"Why not have her simply become a trainer in service of the Fleet; it's a job you are giving her now anyway because she joins the House," Kathryn asked confused.

"Because I don't want it limited to just the Defense Force members," Brika explained, understanding that the question was not an opposition to the House, but to the apparently indirect way of doing things. "If I make Ina a trainer in the Fleet I can order people to train, which results in them just being there because being ordered, and not out of want. Or a lot of people want to try because it sounds fun, until they realize that training is not that much fun, unless you simply enjoy training. But, as House members they have to train, if they want to be part of the House. Because if they don't train, they also show that they are not dedicated to the House enough. It's a lot more of an incentive to truly try than 'because I was ordered to' is."

Looking back at Ina, Brika continued. "I assume that in the beginning you will pick out several promising people from the first group and have them train the basics to newcomers so that you can concentrate on more advanced people, like those trainers?"

"That's how we did it in the school," Ina agreed. "I was training newcomers within the first year. After all, training others is also training yourself. You are repeating moves, you point out mistakes to others and remind yourself at the same time to not do the same. As long as you have a more experienced trainer check what you are doing from time to time to make sure that you don't start teaching stuff wrong, it's a good way of learning the basics."

Kathryn nodded, satisfied that Brika was not making unreasonable allowances for B'Elanna's House because it was something new in the Fleet. But instead was using the House expertly to better the defense ability of the people of the Fleet. "That makes sense to me. How many people were it again, B'Elanna? Eight hundred you said? That's a lot more than the two hundred Defense Force members that would only be trained otherwise."

B'Elanna grinned. "You do realize that the core of the House will be some of the first trainees, don't you, sister to my be'nal? Are you ready to get your ass kicked in training?"

"We'll see who will do the ass kicking," Kathryn said with a smirk, rising willingly to the friendly challenge. She had been looking for a while now for a sport that she could do that was more challenging than Velocity. Well, it wouldn't be a sport, but it would be interesting. "As long as you don't expect everyone to become a master of the art."

"No," B'Elanna assured. "But I do expect everyone to try their best. Not everyone will take to it, but even at basics they will learn a few things that are more advanced than the Starfleet basic self defense course that not even everyone on Voyager had, or completed."

"Which will be by definition already more than the Urdians know that never trained in martial arts at all," Brika added. "Which is basically everyone in the Fleet. Remember, only the senior officers were already commissioned and trained by our Space Command Agency. Like me, they have learned some basic self defense. But that's really more geared towards us being able to defend ourselves against someone that goes temporarily insane and comes at us over the table when we have to demote them or bring bad news. The majority of the Fleet are normal civilians looking for a different way of life. Their knowledge of self defense is limited to knowing physics and that a club will hurt more than a fist."

Ina grinned. "Then they are off to a bad start; a fist hurts way more if you know what you are doing."

Looking at the martial arts master, B'Elanna warned, "Ina, we will expect you to tone down the intensity of the training somewhat. Unlike how things were at your school, people here have to do a job later in the day or the next day. We can't have them hurting all the time. We also don't want them to drop out of training because it's simply too hard. As you said yourself, a lot of people leave the school when training gets serious. We much rather have that they learn slower but as a result keep training. I'm not asking you to baby people, but I don't want things to go further than bruises and aching muscles."

Ina puckered her lips while thinking. "Hmm, that's harder than it sounds. If I don't push them they will think that this... softer training... is actually the outmost of what is possible. Training exists for the most out of pushing people past what they think is the best that they can do. They will think that just because my master can do it doesn't mean I can do it, and they will cap their own abilities at the hardest I am allowed to train them and not at what they really can. "

"Maybe we can use the aid of holographic technology," Brika suggested. "We have to set a dedicated training area aside as it is, or else the automated sensor system would warn of an assault every time two people hit each other in training. We need a room where sensors are set to be more... tolerant than that. We could install holo-emitters in that room and have students face off against holograms in normal training, and only against other Urdians in certain situations. That way the opponents can be programmed to hit you with a nasty sting that hurts enough to teach, but doesn't break or fracture things. While at the same time you can push students harder to hit the holograms, use them to teach people how to use those mythical Ranki hits that take people out with just one hit."

"They aren't mythical," Kinal spoke up. "She took out Olik with a single hit, done while moving between us. Olik would have died if she hadn't started his heart again. Well, we would have beamed him to sickbay, and I was there as well, but that's beside the point."

Ina smiled. "Boasting my reputation?"

Kinal returned the smile. "Sure; it's my duty as your wife."

The smile widened. Then Ina looked back at Brika. "I guess I could adapt my training to use holograms."

"I think it will be needed anyway," B'Elanna pointed out. "What did Kinal say again? Your school only has a thousand students at the same time? And that's with all the trainers you have there, and students training students. Here we are at least in the beginning talking about only you and at least eight hundred students. Even if others soon become good enough to train others, you still need a tool. I think that holographic technology can really be the bridge. It's not that hard to have a hologram made from recordings of you performing standard moves that have to be learned. We could then have a basic hologram that shows those moves and then correct mistakes in them if the students make mistakes. Then you and people that are good enough to train others can concentrate on the more intricate stuff."

"A good point," Ina agreed. "I'll see about playing a bit with holograms and seeing what kind of moves I will feel comfortable for them to train people, and where I draw the line with stuff that has to be trained by real people."

Brika nodded. "Alright. Ina, you accepted Kinal's proposal for a marriage, I assume, or else we wouldn't have been talking about you joining her Clan. Does that also mean that you will, um, share quarters?"

"I already consider her my wife," Kinal spoke up before Ina could. "But just to prevent problems I will wait until we joined the House and are no longer a direct part of the Clan on the planet before having the vows."

"And you are sharing quarters with your brother now," Brika pointed out. That will have to change then, right?"

"It will," Kinal sadly agreed. "But maybe it's for the better. Olik is also in a relationship now, someone of the Voyager crew actually."

Seeing Kathryn look at her in surprise, Kinal added, "Tal Celes. She and Olik are becoming very close. And even if that doesn't work out, he is a First Warrior, and soon to be Marine Commander, it won't be long before he too will have a mate either way. Maybe it's best if we start this journey off with separate quarters."

Brika nodded. "Well, separate quarters don't have to be far apart. I am sure that we can arrange to have two sets of quarters for married people without children beside each other. Since we still have a lot of room on the ship at the moment, you and Ina can move into a set and I can simply mark the quarters beside yours as reserved until Olik fits the conditions needed for those quarters; being married, or at least having proposed."

Kathryn lifted a hand in stopping gesture. "Wait, you reserve quarters for people?"

"Sure," Brika affirmed. "As you know, we have a few decks per ship in the Fleet, with the exception of Voyager, that are sealed off and that will be used only if the population grows. But even on the decks we use we have more quarters at the moment then we have people to fill them. So when we relocate people we tend to also look at what their situation is. Kinal is close to her brother. Kinal will get married and needs the quarters to reflect that. We have room, so I'm reserving quarters besides hers for her brother should he propose or marry. It's only when we start running out of room that we get stricter. For instance, a couple marries and needs quarters and the quarters beside Kinal are the only set of quarters left because Olik is still not married. Then he is out of luck and the quarters go to that other couple. And once we open one of those other decks up we suddenly have a lot of room again, and we start reserving quarters again."

"And people don't mind that?" Kathryn wondered.

"Oh, once people are in a set of quarters they stay unless they themselves want to move," Brika assured. "That nice layout of those kinds of quarters is for that kind of people is more of a guideline. A guideline, and to make sure that people can get bigger quarters if they have a right to, but that not everyone comes begging for bigger quarters. But it's also not unheard of for a couple that gets together to simply live together in quarters that are normally for single people. That way they can use the other set of quarters that belongs technically to the other partner for storing stuff, or to hobby or whatnot."

"And that's allowed? You would not mind knowing full well that a couple is using one set of single quarters to just store stuff?" Kathryn asked. She hadn't delved into exactly how the generational ships worked simply because her ship was Voyager. All she needed to know about the generational ships had been more basic, like where her home is, where the mess hall was, where her friends lived.

"Yes, that's fine with us," Brika assured. "As long as they are living in the other set of single quarters together and don't come asking for a set of married quarters and then expect to keep those single quarters on top of it. It's people's own choice if they want to give up old benefits for new ones, or decide that the old benefits are actually even more beneficial to their new style of living. We don't force people to leave their home only because they no longer fulfill the requirements they did once they got the quarters."

Brika waved a hand back and forth between herself and Kathryn. "I mean, let's say I was to die today, does that mean they would have to force you out of our quarters Kathryn? Out of our home, away from memories we made, all because I died? No, widows and widowers are allowed to stay in the quarters they had if they want to. Just like parents whose children moved out are allowed to stay in the family quarters. And only once a set of quarters becomes free will it once again go back to that basic idea. Only a married couple will get a married couple set of quarters then. Still, in general you could say that on our generational ships someone is always moving for some reason or another. A child gets its first set of single quarters. Two single people get married. Some people have become great friends and wand to live closer to each other. Someone really hates their neighbor and wants to move. It's normally the task of the First Officer of the ship to take care of that."

"Interesting," Kathryn said sincerely. "I guess being in a Fleet does have its advantages. On voyager space was at such a premium that we would never waste it by having someone will in a set of quarters that is too big for their documented situation. When people got a relationship and moved in, one set of quarters had to be given up so that we could give people that had to share a room separate rooms." She looked back at Kinal, "But anyway, what problems were you just talking about? About not marrying not prevented problems?"

Kinal smiled. "Ina is a true prize for our Clan. If we were to speak the vows now, we would have to leave the Fleet and go live on the planet because most of our Clan is there. They would feel that they should benefit from this new asset, and not some people that are not connected to the Clan. That, or we would have to renounce the Clan if we wanted to leave nevertheless. I don't want to do either. Even though our Clans will dissolve into the House, that's a world of difference compared to renouncing the Clan. For one thing it would mean that I no longer consider Olik my brother. For another it would mean the removal of my facial tattoo. So, I simply wait with the vows until I am of the House; so much simpler. But I do consider Ina my wife already, and we will act as such."

"In that case, since Kinal lives on the Glory, so will you Ina. How about when we get back there I show you around the ship. A way to start off new for the both of us? Let the past be the past. I can see that you are no longer the little girl I had to put over my knee."

"I would like that," Ina said sincerely.

Part 17

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