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
Day twenty. (Afternoon.)
"I really like this place," Ina said to Brika as they were walking through one of the hallways of the Glory. "I think I'm going to like living here. Lots of room, great food."
She smiled before admitting, "That's a weakness of mine. It's funny really. With how I grew up, I guess that my idea of what is something special doesn't quite compare to the idea of others. With all the training done at Ranki school, they don't skimp on food. A body burns a lot of calories in training. But there is a difference between food and food. High calories doesn't automatically mean tasteful. We had bland food most of the time. But sometimes a sponsor would also ship some quality food in. Mmhmm I would kill for a slampi pudding."
She frowned. "I probably shouldn't say things like that."
Brika laughed. "I can kill as well, if I have a weapon. Don't worry, we understand metaphors. This way."
They moved into a smaller corridor that ended in a square room that was empty. "I'm surprised that they didn't train you to be able to go without food."
"Oh, some did train in that," Ina said. "But mostly, just how often are you in a situation where you have no food and then need to use your martial arts abilities? No, they much rather prefer that you have the energy to come through a full day of training. And aunty, this room isn't going to cut it for training; much too small."
Brika cringed. "How about you drop the aunty and just keep it on Brika for informal? If I hear you say aunty I hear that kid's voice trying to be innocent."
"Alright," Ina agreed with a grin.
"And I'm not showing you this as a training room. This is a rec room. There are two or three of them on almost every deck. There are holo-emitters in these rooms. While they aren't meant as full holodecks, they can create basic environments. While you can't run scenarios here that involve a lot of moving objects or any holographic characters, they are meant to defuse some of the holodeck time demands. You don't need to book time for these rooms. It's first come, first served, so you also can't reserve them for a certain time. Well, there is a ten minutes window. You can check the computer to see if a room is empty and then tell it that you are on your way to that room. That way you won't check only to then get there and find that someone just started to use it. Their deliberately designed limited use normally makes sure that at all times you will find one or even two empty on the deck or the decks close by."
"Ah, interesting," Ina said as she moved into the room. "I never had much hologram experience. We only had one location in Ranki school that has holograms, and that's basically meant to train how to react if faced with a holographic defense system. And, um, to learn how much force kills."
Brika pointed to a small touchpad beside the door before entering a code. "To make sure that someone doesn't hog one of these rooms for hours, there is a one hour timeframe. You can only use one of these rooms for a total of one hour per day."
She selected a program and the wall opposite the door changed into a large window and on the floor a treadmill of sorts appeared. "I like to use this program. As Admiral I sit, talk, think. So once a day I go to one of these rooms and simply run for half an hour while looking out onto a beautiful view."
She smiled before adding, "And off the record, it's not unheard off for a married couple to come into these rooms and enjoy a few minutes of necking. For the rest I would suggest your own quarters, the holodeck, or some other places where there is a little bit of a fun risk of being caught. Trust me, it's not that much fun to do much more than some necking in here. At least not after a first romp to find out what's it like to indulge in places that aren't your quarters. If you want to have fun, it's much easier to beam home and use your bed instead of places where people can see you enter the room and then ask you what took you so long once you come out."
Ina raked a hand through her hair. "Yeah, married. Me, look at that."
"Having second thoughts?" Brika asked. She thought it would have been fun to tease Ina a little. Showing the room had been an honest part of the tour of the ship. Just that she thought it would be fun to hint at what she had discovered what these rooms were also used for already, even now before the Fleet was even underway. But she hadn't expected this reaction.
"Second thoughts? Oh hell no! Kinal just looks at me and my heart flutters more than it ever did before, and that's including the days of my tests. It's just... it goes so damn fast aunty... sorry, I mean Brika. After my tour I'm going home, to my wife to be. I'm going to be bedded tonight."
Brika smiled. "I wouldn't expect otherwise. Kinal is Clan; they take things like marriage seriously. She would be insulted if you didn't go to bed with her tonight."
"Oh, that part terrifies me like crazy, but I'm so looking forward to it. No, what I mean is tonight I will sleep in the arms of a lover. Twelve hours ago I was still cursing my idiocy for being stuck on a pile of garbage. Two weeks ago I was still seeing what the world outside Ranki school is like. One month ago I was at the school thinking whether I wanted to stay or leave. Ant... Brika,"
"Tell you what, I think I can live with Aunty, if you promise me to never ask me 'what did I do aunty?' Hearing that, again, will probably give me nightmares."
Ina smiled. "Alright. The thing is, twelve hours ago I never kissed a girl, in twelve hours I will have done a lot more. I never had a real job, now I have a unique position in the Fleet. This is all so new to me. All I know is how to fight. I know how to kill, main, hurt... but I never did anything as gentle as caress a breast that isn't mine. Not that I'm looking for pointers in that regard, mind you. Kinal has the pleasure of training me exactly how she wants me in that regard. But for the rest... I don't even know if potatoes are worth more trading points than apples."
Brika merely looked at her in disbelief.
"Honest. At Ranki school they figure, why bother? Students will either leave after a few years and go back to family, or they stay to become Masters. They figure that teaching students about how the world runs is not their job. It's so rare for someone to train and reach my level, and then leave. I'm sure of two things. One is that I can fight, the second that I'm going to be married. For the rest... I'm scared shitless aunty. I'm this huge bigger than life person that people admire simply because I can hit stuff, but for the rest I know nothing."
Brika put an arm around Ina's shoulder. She noticed the flinch, but didn't comment on it. "Well then, I would say that you are in luck and are going to fit right in here. You see, we are all in exactly the same spot as you. We are going to leave our Homeworld. We don't know where we'll be in one month time. Our society is going to change; it has started already. Which is a good thing. All of us want something new, or else we would have stayed on the planet."
She steered them out of the room and they started to walk back to the main corridor. "This is new for all of us. You want to hear something else? As soon as we are underway we are doing away with trade points. Replicator access is a lot more available in the Fleet than it was on the planet. So we are going to start using a system called replicator rations. It compares kinda with the trade point system, but it's more generalized. On the planet things cost more points depending on where you lived, simply because of shipping. Someone has to pay the transporter power used, and the time of people that handle goods. Not in the Fleet. Since everyone has the same access to replicators, things cost the same all over the Fleet. So everyone, even me, will have to get used to how much things cost in this new replicator system."
"Really?" Ina asked, liking that apparently she was starting off on the same level of newness as everyone else.
"Really," Brika assured. "And on top of that, things are going to be so much different than on the planet. There a lot of trade points were used for food, here you will never have to transfer a replicator ration for food, as long as you eat in the mess hall. Food only costs rations if you replicate it at home. The same with clothing. Only off-duty clothing costs rations. So people can save rations by also wearing their uniform at home. But at the same time, things that we were used to being cheap will become more expensive under the replicator rations system."
Ina frowned. "What's that good for?"
"Because the replicator rations are based on how much energy it costs to make something," Brika explained. "For instance, take a simple PADD. On our Homeworld you can get one for fifty trade points. They are cheap simply because they are made in mass bulk and everything down to the mining is done by automated units. But in the Fleet that one PADD will cost you as much rations as two weeks of basic food will cost you if you eat at home. This time because replicating the resources needed to make the PADD, like the gold, uses a lot of energy. So you see, we all start off new. None of us really knows what things will cost. In fact, on this you are better off than most of us. You simply don't know. But we will find that things that we expect to be cheap will be expensive, but things that were expensive on the planet are now cheap. I mean, food, for free, when is the last time you heard of that... not counting the base living standard welfare system of course."
Ina smiled. "Thanks for the boost of confidence aunty. I really needed that."
"My pleasure. Come on, let me show you one of the areas I was thinking of for a training location for you."
B'Elanna and Seven were enjoying some good food in the mess hall of the Glory and were playfully stealing food from each other's plate when a voice spoke up beside them.
"Excuse me, can I talk to you for a moment?"
B'Elanna looked up to see Captain Aklian of the Glory standing beside their table. She had only met the man four times. Once when introductions were made, and the other three times in passing where they spent a minute talking about how they were settling in.
"Captain. Sure, please pull up a chair. Or tell us where you need us."
Captain Aklian took a chair from one of the other two person tables and sat down. "I hope I'm not interrupting." Seeing the half eaten food that proved that he was indeed interrupting, he added, "Too much at least."
"Not at all," Seven assured. "How can we help you?"
"Ah, well, I was contacted by a few of the other Captains and was asked to check out some rumors I myself had been hearing as well."
"I can guess which ones," B'Elanna sighed.
"Then let us see if your guess is correct," Aklian said amused. "Is it true that you are setting up something that you call a House? It's a lot like how the Mountain Tribes Clans live, and that in fact several of them have already approached you for joining your House when we leave?"
"My guess was right," B'Elanna said before adding, "Yeah, that's true. They knew that once they leave they have to unite in one Clan to have their Clan traditions survive. But instead of fighting it out between each other, they decided that it would be better if all the different Clans would start on the same footing. So, they asked to join our House instead."
"Not all of those Clan members are located on The Glory," Aklian reminded.
"They are not," Seven agreed. "We have people wanting to join of every ship in the Fleet. Joining the House is not about 'where' you live, but 'how' you live. We expect a certain behavior of people that want to join. One of those behaviors is that they serve the ship they are stationed on well. Since the wellbeing of the entire Fleet means that the House can be strong."
"The other Captains will be glad to hear that," Aklian said, and it looked as if a worry had been lifted of his shoulders. "Do you happen to know what the Admiral thinks of this? There is no Official reaction from her yet."
"And there won't be," B'Elanna pointed out. "Not unless we screw things up to a point that she can't accept. She knows about the House. Her wife, Captain Janeway, will in fact be a senior House member. She and my be'nal here... that's wife in Klingon... see each other as sisters of sorts. As such we felt that it was only right that this sister would join our House. I personally have asked the Admiral not to join. Mind you, she is a good friend of ours. But I asked her not to join so that she will have an outside view and that there won't be any conflict of interest between her being the Admiral of the Fleet, and someone that would actually be lower than me in command in our House."
"So, you could say that she has adapted a condoning approach. She doesn't promote your House, nor does she object to it," Aklian surmised.
"And can you tell me unofficially and totally off the record what she wants for your House?"
"You should really ask her that," B'Elanna pointed out.
"I will," Aklian assured. "But I would like your opinion for now so that I know in what direction to ask questions."
B'Elanna hesitated and looked at Seven. The blonde gave the smallest of nods, indicating that she felt that Brika would not object to an unofficial statement of how she feels. "Alright, I didn't say this, and I don't have a clue how I might know this, got me?"
"I do," Aklian said with an amused smile.
"I think that the Admiral favors the idea of our House existing," B'Elanna admitted. "Because it... how to put this... changes the flavor of the Fleet, yet doesn't spoil the taste."
Aklian nodded in understanding. "It is part of the Admiral's duty to try and create a new sense of being for the Fleet so that we are something different than just a copy of the society on our planet."
"Do people in the Fleet not worry that they will not like this new 'feel' that will be created?" Seven wondered. "It is possible that they will be stuck on ships that have a society that they no longer like."
Aklian shrugged. "Not really. The people in this Fleet want something new, that's the main thing. So as long as the Fleet doesn't suddenly turn into something they truly hate, then it's new and fine. Maybe they would have preferred something else, but at least it's something different than they were used to on the planet."
B'Elanna chuckled. "That's kinda how this whole House thing started. My be'nal and I just wanted to set up a way of living that reflected more exactly what we are to each other, for each other. And of course while we're at it, asked a few close friends to join the house. That was the plan. Just a chance to use this opportunity to do something new, to move away from the well-known. And now here we are. The last number I have, over eight hundred people want to join the House."
Aklian smiled. "Sometimes life makes decisions for us. Just look at us. We have nothing against people that pass through our territory. If your Captain had decided back then that a shore leave could wait until the next planet, we wouldn't be talking now."
B'Elanna grinned. "Yeah, and I would still be shouting at my be'nal, telling her how much I hate her guts."
Aklian looked confused so B'Elanna waved him off. "Long story. So anyway, any more questions, Captain?"
He nodded. "How will you decide on members for your House?"
"I don't understand," B'Elanna admitted.
Aklian hesitated for a moment, thinking of how to better word what he was asking. "What I mean is, how can someone become a member of the House? Do they need to have a... privileged position with you, will you kick them out if you don't like them? Just how fair is it to members?"
"Ah," B'Elanna said in understanding. "Well, all of those things have a lot to do with it, and nothing at all. You see, you become a member of the House by the Lord... that's me, allowing you to become a member. And the Lady... that's my be'nal here, doesn't object. Um, you get the difference between allowing and not objecting?"
Aklian nodded. "I'm a Captain. Believe me, I know the difference."
"Good," B'Elanna continued. "But you see, the bigger the House gets, the less the Lord and Lady make the choice of allowing people to join based on actually knowing the people. I mean, just look at us. Eight hundred people want to join. Well, I'm lucky if I met fifty of them. Most are people that talk for groups."
"The Clans were actually only represented by two people," Seven added. "Then there were the cooks, the Defense Force members, the Engineers, and so on. Not all of them spoke for everyone in their profession, but they still represented big groups."
"Right," B'Elanna continued. "So once the House is bigger than only people you know directly, it changes to basically simply us seeing if we can accept the idea of a person or group in our House. Like... we would deny people who want to bribe their way in, just to name something. Now, that's the joining part. The kicking people out part is a lot simpler. You see, with a bigger House it's impossible for everyone to like everyone. You are going to get people that don't get along. People don't get kicked out simply because I as the Lord don't like how they look. No, once they are in they have to live to certain rules. And as long as they abide by those they stay in the House. In fact, me kicking someone out because I don't like them would actually mean that I'm not being honorable and should not be in charge of a House."
"Honor is one of the most important, if not the most important, thing to a Klingon House," Seven explained.
"Right," B'Elanna agreed. "I should have mentioned that so that the Captain knows why I'm talking about honor. Thank you, my Lady." Then she looked back at Aklian. "No, reasons to kick someone out are clearly written down. If they break those rules they get kicked. Simple. But if they do something that I, my Lady, or other prominent members of the House think is inappropriate, but what they did is not specifically in the rules as a reason to be kicked, then it becomes more complicated. If we feel that this person should be kicked for what they did, then a council is called and all sides have a chance to tell their side of the story. One or more members of the House say why we think they should be kicked, and the person can defend or even counter accuse. And once that is done a vote of the Elders of the House... that's basically the top decision makers... decide if they get kicked."
"Sounds fair, if a bit complex," Aklian said thoughtfully. "But then, we are talking about removing them from your House, and not about removing them from the Fleet."
"Because it is not a Klingon Fleet," Seven reminded. "If it was, if a person gets removed from the House, obviously they would have to leave the Fleet that is part of the House."
Aklian nodded before asking, Any chance of me getting a copy of these rules so that I can pass them on to the other Captains so that we can get a feel for this new entity in our midst? No offense meant."
"None taken," B'Elanna assured with a grin. "Sure. I'll bring you a PADD in a couple of hours. Sound alright?"
"That'll do. Oh, and just what exactly are the Elders? Besides what you just said about top decision makes obviously. Are they the... Captains of your House so to speak?"
"That is one way of putting it," Seven agreed. "The Elders are the top of the House. Do not let the name 'Elders' confuse you. It is more of an honorary title that in itself does not give power in the House. The power comes from the fact that Elders are normally also people with important positions in the House. Obviously the Lord and Lady are Elders. But so is my adopted sister Kathryn Janeway, who is in charge of reviewing if the House laws are being upheld. Kinal of the Red Hand Clan is an elder as Chief Physician. As is her brother Olik, as Marines Commander. As is the hologram known as 'the Doctor', as he is the Chief Surgeon of the House. As is Tom Paris as the Publics Relations manager of the House,"
"And a few other people," B'Elanna interrupted with a wink to her lover.
Seven merely gave a tolerant smile while realizing that love really did make a difference. A few months before she would have been pissed at such an interruption, now she found it amusing. And this time there was no blaming it on a trace element because that was purged from her body for weeks now.
"Oh, and our new martial arts trainer will become an Elder as well, even though she is only twenty-four years old," B'Elanna said. "So you see, Elder is more a... a warning I guess to people to let them know that this person is important in the House. Klingons like their titles, and it's not unheard of for a big House to have several hundred titles. But who is really important? The steward of housekeeping, or the chief archivist? Well, you will know if you hear that the chief archivist is has the title of Elder. "
Aklian nodded while he stood up. "Well, I have the answers I needed. The most important to me at the moment is that this is fair and that your House welcomes all that want to live by those rules. If not then that's their choice, but at least they are not turned down by you because of specific individual selection."
He had already put the chair back when he thought of something. "Oh, that's right, you said martial arts trainer. I did hear about some martial arts expert or something on that, um, let me be polite and call it a ship, that we found. Rumors are flying about that as well. Wild stuff, so you might look about putting the record straight on that." He chuckled. "Rumors have it that she is a Ranki Master."
Seven nodded. "You are correct. We have to correct that information. She is not merely a Ranki Master; she is a third square Ranki Master."
Aklian was clearly shocked. "You jest."
"I do not," Seven assured. "She only left the school grounds about one or two months ago; I am not sure about the exact timeframe. She spent fifteen years there and had to choose. Either leave, or train to become a fourth square Master. She decided to leave."
"And," Aklian swallowed and tried again. "And she will be your martial arts trainer?"
"She has graciously agreed to train members of the House, yes," Seven agreed.
"Why do I suddenly see a whole new wave of people heading our way?" B'Elanna groaned.
Seven looked at her. "Remember what we agreed about those torpedoes, my Lord?"
B'Elanna looked startled and then grinned. "Yeah, damn them. Thank you for reminding me, my Lady. Sorry, still in the process of switching tracks I guess."
Having been reminded by her be'nal of their agreement, B'Elanna went for broke. She looked back at Aklian. "In fact, but this is once again totally off the record and I have no idea who told you this, the Admiral has even made sure that Ina, our trainer, doesn't have to perform another job for the Fleet. That way she can concentrate on training House members, which will happen to include all of the Defense Force members in the Fleet. See what she is getting at?"
Aklian scratched his ear while taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. "I believe I do. You said that Captain Janeway will join your House, so you would have no problem if some of the other Captains and higher officers are interested as well?"
"Nope," B'Elanna assured. "Just as long as they understand that just because they have a high rank in the Fleet, doesn't mean that they will get one in the House. The key positions have already been taken so they would merely become House members, just like a crewman will. But, we do want to make it clear that the House is separate from the Fleet. The Fleet operates under the Admiral with the chain of command. The House is more of a way of life and doesn't focus that much on command positions."
"A wise decision," Aklian could only agree. "The chain of command is there for a reason." He grinned before adding, "And that reason is not just ego either. So I can expect that PADD today?"
"You'll get it," B'Elanna assured. "Oh and if you, I mean, Captains and officers have more questions about the House, they can feel free to contact the House Public Relations person, who also happens to be the House recruiter. Tom Paris."
B'Elanna hesitated before adding, trying very hard not to grin, "He prefers it if people contact him after work so that the line between Fleet and House is kept clear. Could you please tell that to people that ask you about information?"
"Sure," Aklian assured.
"One last thing," Seven spoke up. "Master Ina has made it very clear that she will only train people that are serious about wanting to be trained. She will work with us to create a holo-program to teach basic moves. Please, we would greatly appreciate it if you were to let people know that if they are not fully sincere about putting effort into learning Ranki, that we would greatly appreciate if they would wait a month or two until that holo-program is finished and they can use that to see if they like the training."
"I will," Aklian said sincerely. "A Master shouldn't be bothered with having to waste time with people that only show up for one lesson. Well, I was going. I apologize again for interrupting you while eating and I apologize if your food got cold."
B'Elanna pointed over her shoulder to the counter. "Well, it's free in the mess hall; we can always get new. But potential house members deserve a few minutes of our time."
Aklian nodded a last time before leaving. Deciding to not insult them or himself by pretending that he wasn't interested in joining. The temptation to be trained by a real Ranki Master alone was worth looking into those House rules for.
Once he was gone, B'Elanna and Seven looked at each other. Wanna bet we'll hit the two thousand number by this time tomorrow?"
"I think I would lose that bet," Seven said amused. Then she asked, "Shall I ask Ina to put us in the first class of students?"
"Oh hell yeah," B'Elanna said enthusiastically. "I can't wait to learn some of those things. Like what she did to your arm, which reminds me; how is your arm?"
"It is fine. I am suffering no effects from her attack. I am intrigued to those abilities as well. I know where such points are on the body."
She used her enhanced hand to point to a spot on her other arm. "Technically I know that by hitting this spot, the entire arm can be rendered useless for a certain time. Yet..." She tapped the spot a few times. "...Knowing and being able to use are two different things."
B'Elanna looked at the cold food. "Alright, you want something new or should we get going? I want to get these last checks on Voyager's deflector dish over with so that we can go home."
"I am done if you are," Seven assured. "Why are you so eager to get home? Do you have plans?"
B'Elanna grinned, only to turn it into a smile. "Maybe I do, and maybe I don't. But I do know that it will start off with a nice shower and then... hmm, I feel touchy today. How about I just hold you while you solve today's Rubik's cube code? Maybe I can do some necking while you are at it."
"And then? Well, I wanted to surprise you, but since you are asking, I was thinking of working a bit more on that making love on every horizontal surface in our quarters. Interested?"
Seven stood up and moved to B'Elanna's side of the table. "In you? Always, my Lord." She leaned down and treated her wife to a tender kiss, not caring in the least that probably the entire mess hall was now looking at them.
"Enhancing my reputation?" B'Elanna asked, caressing her lover's face.
"No; enhancing mine. After all, I am the only one who can kiss the Lord, and I want people to know it."
"I love you," B'Elanna merely said softly before treating her wife to another gentle kiss and then standing up as well. "But for now, work awaits us."
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