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 18

As B'Elanna and Seven left the mess hall of The Glory they came across Olik in the corridor.

"Hey big guy, how's the ribs?" B'Elanna asked.

Olik thumped his chest with a fist. "As good as new, my Lord."

"Please, call me B'Elanna when it's as informal as now," B'Elanna persisted. "At the moment I'm the Chief Engineer of Voyager. Remember that whole thing about people in the House still working for the Fleet? That includes the Lord and Lady of the house. So please, let's not be so formal all the time."

"I will try to remember it," Olik said with a little smirk. Then he looked at Seven. "Lady Seven, how is your arm?"

"My arm is fine," Seven assured.

"You ain't going to tell him to just call you Seven?" B'Elanna asked.

"I like how 'Lady Seven' sounds," Seven admitted. "If people want to call me that I will not correct them. As long as they understand that I am not demanding that they call me Lady Seven, just that I do not object to it." Seeing B'Elanna frown, Seven explained, "My reasoning is that once people become closer to me they will switch automatically to a more informal way of addressing me. When people become so close that I would call them friends, I am sure that the interaction between me and my friends will also bring a more informal use of names. For instance, do you see Kathryn, Harry, or Tom call me Lady Seven when we are enjoying a friendly get-together? At most the 'Lady Seven' will then be used as a way to tease me on something."

"Well, that's one way of approaching the matter," B'Elanna conceded. "I guess it's because I'm not that hot on being called Lord all the time, but... yeah, Lady Seven sounds more feminine, more like a title you want to use as respect for the person and not just because a position demands it."

"Plus it sounds different," Seven pointed out. "Lady Seven sounds like it belongs together like a name does. It sounds nice, just like B'Elanna Torres does. But my Lord sounds impersonal, And Lord Torres sounds like it is a different person."

"I'm sure I'll get used to it," B'Elanna assured. "I do like how Lord Torres sounds, just that I prefer to be called B'Elanna. Hell, even when I hated your guts I told you to stop calling me 'lieutenant Torres' and just call me B'Elanna, which you never did you little bitch."

"Of course I did not," Seven said amused. "I knew that calling you Lieutenant Torres irritated you."

"If you are willing to share, would you mind telling me why you talk about hating each other?" Olik asked. "I heard you and other Voyager people make several references to a time where you apparently hated each other."

"Oh, we don't mind talking about that," B'Elanna assured. "Now, looking back you can even argue the point that it really was just sexual tension and that we would have ended up being lovers long ago if both Seven and I weren't too damn stubborn for our own good at times."

"That is one way of calling it," Seven agreed. "However, B'Elanna and I just ate, plus we already have plans for the rest of the day. How about if we meet tomorrow for dinner? Then we can also discuss your tasks in our House a bit more in detail. Feel free to also bring Kinal, Celes, and Ina along." She looked at B'Elanna before asking, "You approve?"

A little grin twitched over B'Elanna's lips. She realized only too well that this wasn't the Lady of the House asking, but her beloved be'nal who had agreed that B'Elanna would be the one to take care of the social life. "You don't have to ask things like that. If you want to set something up, feel free to do so. Just contact me to let me know in case I was already planning something."

It sounded like a casual part of a conversation, But Seven understood it for what it was; an elaboration on the agreement they had made about the control of their marriage. "In that case," She looked back at Olik before adding, "I would suggest we meet tomorrow here at this time. We can then talk in the part of the mess hall that has the dampening field. I would suggest meeting at our home and we can go back there after dinner, but with six people it is better to eat here where it is free."

"I will let the others know," Olik assured. Then he greeted them with a final nod and moved on into the mess hall.

Olik had just sat down at a table to wait for Celes, knowing that Kinal wouldn't be joining them today since she had to take care of Ina, when moments later the nameless clan woman was standing at his table again. Olik sighed, more than a little irritated. "Are you stalking me now? I would have thought you would have gone back to the planet by now. You don't have much time left before the ships leave and you wouldn't want to get stuck with us, would you."

The woman didn't speak and Olik rolled his eyes. "Fine, speak."

"Warrior you have me all wrong," The woman started. "Would you at least let me plead my case before dismissing me? You do know that according to Clan rules every Clan member has the right to plead their case for a bond as long as the other person isn't bonded."

"I'm in a relationship," Olik pointed out.

"But not bonded," The woman defended. "And she is not a clan member."

Olik rolled his eyes once more. "Fine, sit your ass down."

As the woman was sitting down, Olik activated his com. link. "Olik to Celes."

"Yes?" Celes asked over the link.

"Baby, you are coming to dinner in the mess hall of The Glory right?" Olik asked, getting his satisfaction from using the endearment in front of the stranger.

"I am, as I do every time that we didn't decide to eat in quarters, why?"

Olik sighed. "I just wanted to let you know that the little wannabe slave is back and cited me some Clan rules. And according to those rules I am bound to give her the opportunity to plead her case."

To his surprise, Celes laughed. "I was wondering where she had gone to, seeing that she had so nicely told us that this wasn't over. Now I know. She used the last couple of days to study us. Nice plan too. Speak to you in the mess hall. If I wouldn't be coming by, rumor would spread that you were seen with another woman. And if I was, I would be walking in on you with another woman and of course ask you to explain yourself. What such a tough warrior like you would of course never do, leaving me with all kinds of doubt."

Olik narrowed his eyes at the woman and she had at least the decency to look down, confirming Celes' guess. "I see," Olik said coldly.

Celes laughed again. "Don't be too hard on her; I would have done the same. You have no idea how mean and nasty we women can be if we want our man. Just talk to her and get it over with. Maybe she leaves us alone then."

"And where will you be?" Olik wondered.

"Also in the mess hall, just at another table. Jennifer and Megan are with me right now, I'm sure they would love to accompany me. And by the time you are finished with that woman, you can come over and say hi to them."

"I will," Olik assured. "Olik out." When he looked back at the woman he saw that her demeanor had changed. Before she had radiated a self confidence that could easily be mistaken for a superior attitude. She clearly thought that she was better for him than Celes was. Now she looked... disappointed.

"She is not right for you," The woman insisted.

Olik snorted. "You know, I could just disagree to that, but I want this farce to be over. So instead I'm going to ask you 'why not'? You explain, that way I can shoot down all your nonsense arguments and be done with it. But first, what is your damn name woman?"

Some of the self confidence came back as she answered. "I am Sirva, Chief Archivist of the Gathering Storm Clan. I,"

"Woman, your clan is so small that the Chief Archivist is also the only Archivist," Olik interrupted. "You are so conservative that your clan never joins any of the Fleets just because you reason, 'If the gods wanted Urdians to leave our sacred soil, we would have wings'. And yet despite that your Clan is getting smaller every year because only a few young people stay."

"I stayed," The woman defended, "And I'm twenty-four now, so I could have left."

Olik shook his head. "It's plain to see that you are one of the women to who the old dogma stuck; women are there to serve the men. You been brought up putting the interest of others before yourself, even now you are here because men told you to come here, and if I were to accept your offer, which I'm not, you would be serving a man for the rest of your life."

Sirva's eyes lit up but Olik shook his head again. No, you don't have to tell me how you would be my private little servant for the rest of your life; I know. But what you don't seem to understand is that I don't want a servant; I want a partner. I want to be an equal in my relationship, not a commander. I'm already a commander in my daily life. I'm a First Warrior, I'm going to be a Marine Commander, I don't want to come home only to have to give orders there as well."

"Our Clan is dying," Sirva conceded. "We need something to make us more interesting to the young people, you would be a leader amongst us."

"I would be a middle class leader," Olik disagreed. "High enough to tell warriors what to do, but never high enough to made decisions that can alter the Clan outlook. They don't want me in a position where I can say to your people that they should go out into the world and see what modern life is like."

He pointed a finger at her. "And that is also my advice to you. Stop this nonsense; I'm not leaving this ship. As my lover so rightfully pointed out to me when you showed yourself the first time, you would have been better off going after my sister, only then might I have been tempted to stay."

Sirva's facial expression changed and Olik could see the proverbial gears turning. "Forget it, you are too late. She proposed to someone already, who accepted. And you will never be able to outshine that person. My sister is going to marry a third square Ranki master."

Sirva's jaw actually dropped when hearing that. "You mean that you will have a third square Ranki master in your Clan?"

Olik smirked. "No, they are going to get married once all the clans on the ships united into this new entity called a House." Then he gentled his voice, trying to get through to the woman. "Sirva, listen, I'm not going to leave the Fleet, I'm not going to leave my lover for you. My sister isn't going to leave either. You are only making a fool of yourself here. Do yourself a favor; go. And I don't just mean go back to your Clan. I actually mean, go, leave them. Start your own life. You managed to get onto a ship, and you are Clan, I'm sure you would be accepted onto the Fleet if you asked. Don't throw your life away with a Clan that only wants you to stay quiet, have babies, and take care of them."

Sirva shook her head. "But warrior, there is a flaw in your reasoning. You might argue that I'm a product of my raising, but the fact is that I am comfortable in what I am. I am very willing to be a... a servant you called it? Yes, I am very happy to be a servant to my man. I would give you all that you want."

Olik smirked. "Alright, all that I want you say? Would you tell me no?"

"Of course I wouldn't," Sirva said as if the mere suggestion was an insult.

"Then you cannot give me all that I want, for I want a partner that says no just as easily as yes." Olik looked up when he more felt then saw someone enter the mess hall. He smiled when he saw Celes with the Delaney sisters. His lover pointed to a table that was far enough away to not be able to hear Olik and Sirva, indicating where she would be. Olik nodded before adding in his conversation to Sirva, "And boy do I love it when she says no."

"She denies you and you like that?" Sirva asked in disbelief.

Olik looked confused for a moment and then chuckled. "I wasn't talking about sex you idiot. I'm good enough in bed that she craves more and she is the one doing most of the asking. I was talking about daily things, things that you would never do. Two days ago I wanted to go onto the holodeck so that we could walk through a forest. She didn't feel like it and told me as much. Tell me Sirva, would you have said that you didn't feel like it, or would you have been the good little servant and just gone along?"

Sirva didn't answer, thereby still answering and instead said, "I have a proposal from my Clan Chief, will you listen?"

Olik sighed. "I know the rules; I have to listen. Besides, yes, I want to listen because after I declined you have no other reason to approach me again. So talk."

"So that is your nemesis?" Jennifer asked as they sat down at the table. She took her time looking at the woman who very conveniently was seated in such an angle that Jennifer could fully see her, yet also saw her a little from the side, seeing all kinds of interesting forms.

Megan sat down beside her sister and looked at the stranger as well. "She looks very nice."

"Nice?" Celes repeated. "Come now, even I can see that she looks more than nice. She looks good, sexy body, good facial looks, and a proud body posture. No slouching passes those shoulders often, I'm sure. Has a silky voice too, on those rare occasions the Clan attitude slips away."

"And you aren't worried that Olik might get tempted?" Megan wondered.

"Nope," Celes assured. "Oh, I have no doubt that if Olik was still single he would probably have slept with her; he does appreciate the female form very much. But you see, he is in a relationship with me. He has too much honor to sleep with anyone else, or to stop our relationship just so that he can romp around. Besides, he is damn good in bed and I like it that way. I keep coming back for more, if you know what I mean. He knows that he is better off with me than having to sleep with new people and tell them all over again what he likes and doesn't like."

Since the sisters had sat down on the side of the table where they could see the stranger, Celes was seated with her back to her. She looked over her shoulder to take in the stranger as she continued. "And I don't see her as a nemesis, more like a nuisance. But as I said, I do agree with you on one thing; she does look good. They probably selected the best looking single woman of their Clan to send. They wouldn't want to insult a First Warrior by sending him a woman that would rather make him run away, now would they?"

The sisters giggled at that. "You really don't like her, I see," Jennifer said. "I don't know, a nice tasty snack, someone to fool around with... hmmm."

"You can have her as far as I'm concerned," Celes said as she turned away. "That is the only thing she does have; a nice looking body. You should have seen her the other day. She was wearing some kind of Clan clothing that was clearly designed to show off what she got. A rather tasty cleavage and a short skirt that invited you to kinda pull it up just that little bit more."

Jennifer hummed again. "Yeah, she has enough for a nice cleavage, with the right top on. It's not like she is huge. I would guess her to be a very nice full B cup, nice to play with. Ash blonde though, I kinda prefer brunettes."

Celes snorted. "Like you would care once you got her naked. Besides, if you ask her I'm sure she'd change hair color for you."

Jennifer treated her to a wide grin. "So you really wouldn't mind if I had a romp with her? You are my friend, I don't want to hurt that by, you know, sleeping with the enemy."

Celes waved her off. "Oh please. No you go right ahead. Hey, maybe you can keep her busy and out of my hair."

"Oh, she would be busy alright," Megan spoke up. "Sometimes Jenny brings someone home and I hear them moaning and groaning for hours."

"You do not," Jennifer defended. "But you though. People always take you for a quiet one, they should know."

"I do know," Celes reminded. "I actually kinda like it. She doesn't scream your ears off, but makes enough sound to let you know that you are doing something right."

"I'm willing to bet that you are a quiet one though," Jennifer said, looking to her sister for confirmation.

Megan looked at Celes first to see if it was alright to tell. But Celes only shrugged with surprising confidence. Apparently being in a relationship with Olik had sure done wonders for their friend's confidence. "Well," Jennifer started. "She is..."

Day twenty. (Late afternoon.)

"Harry, hand me that panel over there, will you?" Tom said. He, Harry, and their partners were working on the ship that was technically going to be Rinara's shuttle. At the moment they were busy with placing temporary floor panels so that they could continue building the rest of the backbone structure safely. Of course, the panels would be removed again once they began pulling cables and building the rest of the ship, like walls, which was why they were only using temporary panels for now.

"Harry?" Tom asked when there was no reply. He looked to where is friend was standing and saw him looking transfixed to the forward part, where eventually the cockpit would be positioned. There their partners, Tom's wife Vlasana, and Harry's girlfriend Rinara, were at the moment busy with building the base structure of the consoles.

Tom climbed out of the hole in the floor where he had been standing to fix the temporary panels into place and moved to stand just behind his friend. "Earth to Harry Kim?" He asked in somewhat of a singsong voice.

"Earth is too far away for me to hear them," Harry said, not looking away from what he was looking at.

Tom chuckled and also focused his attention on the two women. "What's so interest... oh, I see."

They stood in silence for a few minutes to just watch their partners work.

"God that's sexy," Tom finally admitted. "How did we ever get so lucky?"

"You know, I almost didn't go to that party where I met her," Harry admitted. "At least, that's what I told myself on that data crystal. "I didn't feel like going because I just had gotten a challenging new project that I wanted to work on. But I let myself be persuaded to just go for an hour or so to make an appearance and so that I could say that I had been there. I was just thinking of leaving again when this charming woman came up to me and introduced herself."

"Yeah, like you only noticed that she was charming," Tom snorted. "I love my wife and don't want anything else, but I still say that you won the jackpot, my friend."

"Oh, I gladly admit that I'm pretty sure that I almost melted into a puddle when she asked me if I wanted to come home with her to talk a little more." Harry Chuckled. "I don't have to remember that to know it, because I sure do remember going to see her after I was 'reminded'. You told me of the shock of hearing that you were married, but I didn't have that. I was just told that I had a girlfriend now. And that her profession was to be a model. I knew that at least on looks I had it made. I knew that, and then I walked into that room. I walked into a room that has the most beautiful woman in their world in it, and all I saw were eyes."

Tom smiled, knowing only too well what Harry meant. "A look can say so much, but it's just like their looks can say so much more than others can."

Harry nodded. "I mean, Rinara knows she is beautiful, she knows what kind of effect she has on me. She isn't looking for me to tell her ten times per day how great she looks. Not that I don't compliment her of course. I'm not stupid. But she loves it all the more when I tell her how much I love how charming she is, how I love to hear her voice, how smart I think she is. I'm going to marry her."

"You asked her?" Tom wondered.

Harry shook her head. "It's not needed. She is an Urdian remember? With them marriage is a given, it's often more that at one time they talk about setting a date then actually talk about getting married. They know that if you love each other and are in a steady relationship, once that's settled down it's for life and marriage is just the official recognition of that relationship."

"You should ask her," Tom insisted. "She might be Urdian, but you aren't. I'm willing to bet that she read up a bit on the Federation before deciding to join you when leaving. You know, Federation, where marriages are timed contracts? Where about seventy percent of people don't live the 'for life' thing? You should tell her that you want to marry her, under Urdian law."

Finally Harry looked at him and stated the obvious. "Then I would be married for life."

"Oh, I'm sorry, I must have misunderstood," Tom said, fainting surprise. "So, when are you going to leave her again? Over a year, or are you shooting for two years instead?"

Harry frowned. "I have no intention of leaving her; I love her."

"Yet you don't want to give her the ease of mind of knowing that she is married to you for life? It's kinda like saying 'I love you'. You know she loves you, but don't you still want to hear her say it? I mean, come on, what's there to lose? You aren't going to find anything better, and you love her like mad. Plus if you really want to think about the future that negatively, you aren't B'Elanna with that honor stuff. If you don't love Rinara ten years from now you can move on and start a relationship with someone else. Just that you would then also be married to a woman that is sitting in your old home feeling miserable because her husband is no longer with her. But, that wouldn't be your problem, right?"

Harry scowled at him. "And just when did Voyager's womanizer turn into Dr Troi?"

"When I found out that I was married and about to become a father and sat down to think about just what that meant," Tom answered with a grin. "You know, I'm not going to apologize for having been a womanizer. Hell, I'm proud of the fact that I was so good at talking women it to bed. But you know the main reason why I had so many women in my life? Because I like sex. But that's the beauty of the Urdians. They have a very active sex life. Why should I bother with trying to get other women into bed when I'm married with someone who is very eager to share the bed with me? I don't know about you and Rinara, but I can assure you that I'm having more sex now that I'm married than I did when I was single."

"I have nothing to complain about," Harry merely said. He never had been one to kiss and tell, and he sure wasn't going to start when talking about his girlfriend.

Tom put his arm around his friend's shoulder. "And that's why I'm perfectly happy to be a one woman man. I got all I'd ever need. My carnal urges well taken care of, and even better than that, I got a woman that loves me just the way I am. Someone that very indulgently helps me build a starship instead of complaining that I don't spend enough time with her."

"Who would have ever thought, Tom Paris in love," Harry teased.

"Not just in love; married even," Tom corrected. "Just think about it, Harry. Wouldn't you much rather call Rinara your wife or fiancée instead of just your girlfriend?"

Harry was saved from answering by two people arriving at the door.

"Ahoy Captain, permission to enter," B'Elanna greeted from the stairs where the smaller side door to the ship was going to be.

"Then you shouldn't be talking to me," Tom huffed. "I've been reduced to pilot."

"Then who's going to be captain?" B'Elanna wondered as she extended a hand to help her lover up the stairs.

"A chivalrous Klingon," Seven said amused. "Miracles do still exist."

"Teach me to be nice," B'Elanna teased right back.

"I guess I would qualify as Captain," Rinara said as she joined them.

"Hey, you heard us talk," Tom realized. Rinara merely give him a dazzling smile as Vlasana came over and gave him a quick kiss.

"We were sitting only ten meters away, you know?" Vlasana pointed out. Not our fault that you didn't realize how loud you were whispering."

Rinara looked at Harry, to see how he would react to realizing that she had heard him and Tom talk. Harry pulled her close and kissed her before whispering in her hear, "We'll talk later, when my words will sound like my words, and not like comments made just because a wise friends prompted me to make them."

Rinara nodded with a smile, knowing that Harry would not have said it like that if he wasn't going to be saying something she would love to hear him say.

"That's right," B'Elanna remembered. "This is technically your ship Rinara. Good, maybe you'll treat her a little better than Tom treated the Delta Flyer."

"I treated the Flyer just fine," Tom defended. "I can't help it if Engineering couldn't keep up with normal maintenance."

"Watch it fly boy," B'Elanna warned. "I could decide to just leave you with this nonsense. See if you ever get her off the floor without my help."

"Ha!" Tom exclaimed. "See, I'm right, and now she wants to threaten me into silence."

"Take it up with Kathryn," B'Elanna defended. "She decided what Engineering should work on besides standard maintenance. And while I didn't mind putting some of my free time into building the Flyer, I'm not about to give up my free time to do regular maintenance to a shuttle. Nor am I planning to do regular maintenance for this ship."

"You're not?" Tom asked, all thought of teasing gone. This was worrying. The new ship would need much more looking after than the Flyer. He had been hoping that B'Elanna would also fall in love with the ship and not mind doing the maintenance on the side. Especially since she had been the one to come and check the ship out without him even asking.

"Nope," B'Elanna confirmed. "I don't mind help building them, but I'm not one for doing oil changes when I get nothing in return."

"In return, like what?" Tom asked, narrowing his eyes.

B'Elanna grinned. "The way I see it, if you were to take your ship to a starbase you would have to pay a mechanic. But I'll be nice and take payment in replicator and holodeck rations."

"And what kind of payment, or better said, how much?"

B'Elanna shrugged. "I don't know yet. I'll tell you after maintenance is done. It all depends on how much I did or didn't mind doing it. But don't worry, I'll be nice enough to keep it under the price of what real maintenance costs would be. You could of course find someone else to do it. Or you could do it yourself. Well, some of it."

"I'm not an engineer," Tom objected.

"No," B'Elanna agreed. "But there is a lot of stuff on a ship like this that can be done by someone that isn't really trained. Take that oil change. You can do that, and even if you mess it up the sensors will warn you before lifting up. So that's something you could easily do."

Finally a light went on in Tom's head. "I get it. The more of the boring and dirty work I do, the cheaper your work will be."

B'Elanna waggled a hand back and ford. "Eh, the more boring it is. I don't mind dirty. Sometimes the dirtiest work is the most fun to do. But more to the point, the more work you, Vlasana, and Harry, will do, the less I'll ask for doing the kind of work only a qualified Engineer is allowed to do. And if you really do carry your share of the work, I'll even do it for free and consider it doing my part."

"And Rinara," Tom added.

B'Elanna shook her head. "Nope, she is the one that made it possible for you to even have this ship."

"I don't know," Tom said thoughtfully. "You might be doing her a disservice. She seemed to really like working on the ship."

"Well, you figure it out," B'Elanna said dismissively. "Knowing you, you probably set up some scheme to have others do it. I don't really care. I'm just telling you that I'll do the tough work and the work that has to be done by a professional because lives depend on it, but you take care of the rest. And now, let me go see what you've been working on here."

"What's up with her?" Tom asked Seven as B'Elanna walked away to check what Vlasana and Rinara were doing.

"Unfortunately for you, B'Elanna and I have spent the entire day working on small things that are normally regular maintenance work that is done by... let us say the lower level engineers that you do not trust with the 'real' work," Seven explained.

Tom frowned. "Why is she spending her time doing that, and you too for that matter?"

"Because B'Elanna is the Chief Engineer of Voyager, and I am her Second in Command. Both of us also have to know all the small things that might need doing. And with as many changes as there have been made to Voyager, we have to do the small work a couple of times to see if it is still done as we know it to do."

Now Tom cringed. "Then I better not ask her about maintenance until we are underway and the ship is actually built."

"Paris, I told you not to touch this!" B'Elanna shouted from what was going to be the bridge.

"What did I do now?" Tom asked as he joined the other three women.

B'Elanna pointed to several blocks of electronic devices that had been screwed in place where they would be under the deck once the deck was in place. "I told you I'll connect all the stuff under this floor. I don't want to have to rip the floors up later on just because a connector you plugged in got loose. I told you, only fix the cables in place, I do the rest. Is that so hard?"

Tom lifted his hands in defense. "You really must have had a pissy day. I didn't touch those things. Just think for a moment. Do you really think I would do that work when you already said you would do it?"

B'Elanna closed her mouth with a click. She couldn't argue that logic.

"Um, did I do it wrong?" Rinara asked hesitantly, thereby identifying the person who had connected the devices.

"You connected them?" B'Elanna asked surprised. "I didn't know you had engineering experience, or could read Federation. These labels are written in Federation."

"Oh, no, I can't read that. But it was so obvious what needed to be plugged in there that I did it," Rinara explained. "I figured, since they are plugs you can disconnect again, and there is no power on the system yet, it didn't matter. If it was wrong it could be changed. So did I do it wrong?"

"No, it's all connected right," B'Elanna assured. Then she sighed. "Don't mind my rudeness. I'm pissed and Tom is a safe target. Hmm. Why don't you come with me for a moment?"

"Alright," Rinara said confused as she followed B'Elanna to the back of the ship.

B'Elanna removed one of the temporary floor plates and pointed into the hole. "See that big box there and those six smaller boxes beside it? See that big bundle of cables coming down from above it? Those cables have to be connected to those boxes. Want to do it?"

Rinara's eyes lit up at the new challenge. "Oh, sure." She eagerly hopped into the hole and started looking at the cables.

"Hey," Tom objected. "You scream at me, and you let the novice play with your cables?"

"Hmm," B'Elanna replied before asking, "Good question, Rinara, do you have any engineering experience?"

Rinara shrugged. "Not really. Nothing official at least. When something breaks I do have the tendency to see if I can fix it before I call for a mechanic. Sometimes I find the problem, sometimes I don't. But I haven't studied engineering or anything like that. Why do you ask?"

"Because you shouldn't be able to do that," B'Elanna replied as she pointed at the cables that Rinara was casually plugging in as they were talking. How do you know what goes where? The plugs are all the same."

Rinara shrugged. "The plugs are, but the cables aren't. It's clear to see that someone put these cables here that knows that you don't just need enough cable to reach the plug, but that you also might need to replace the plug at some point in the future and that you need extra cable then to make clear connections in the plug. See, all of them are about five centimeters too long. So if you kinda, you know, think away those five centimeters all the cables are just long enough to fit into one plug. So, it's easy."

"She keeps saying that," Vlasana, who had joined them by now, pointed out amused. "She is all like, 'no, it's done this way, see'? And I'm like, 'if you say so'."

"Uh uh," B'Elanna nodded as she looked how Rinara continued to connect the landing gear regulators. "Hey Rinara, don't take this the wrong way, but since you told us how it was possible for you to joined the Fleet and have your own ship... are you planning to work later on or are you liking the idea of having all that free time?"

"Both," Rinara said with a smile. "On the planet I learned that I like having time to do whatever I like, but I go insane if I have nothing to do. That's why I worked for a month, took a month of, and then worked again. I'm kinda thinking of doing the same thing here. Only turned that into weeks. Work a week, have a week off, work a week. I think that's better because if I take a full month off I might forget how to do stuff again."

"So you would be working part time, just that when you do work you work full days. Kinda like having three times as many vacation days as the rest," B'Elanna surmised. "Any idea where you going to work, what you are going to do?"

Rinara shook her head. "No, once the Fleet is underway I'll be working in different departments and then I would choose what I want to do, if the department head can fit my way or working part time into the schedule of course."

"And would you be interested in working for Voyager's Engineering?"

Rinara stopped her work and focused on the Klingon. "Work for you, you mean? Why? The last thing I know, you have a fully staffed department."

"I do," B'Elanna agreed. "And the Urdians that joined my department are good at their job, no doubt. But the thing is that they are good at their job because they were trained. You are the first Urdian I see that has an engineering sense. I don't care what the others know; they will still say, 'this cable goes here because that is how they taught it to me'. But what I need is someone that says, 'but why not just plug it in here, that makes more sense to me'. That would even fit in great with that part time working. The standard work would be for the standard engineers, but if there is something that needs creative thinking, but that doesn't demand the Chief Engineer or Second in Command, then we could let you do it. Well, after some training of course."

Rinara smiled. "Well, I like doing this kind of stuff; it's fun. We could try each other out. Once we are underway and I start working in departments I'll start out with you. That way all the rest has to compare to how much I liked working for you."

B'Elanna grinned, sensing somewhat of a challenge. "Great. I'll try not to scream at you too much the first day." Then she frowned. "With your job, did people ever scream at you?"

Rinara snorted. "Me? Are you kidding? Even if I had an off day and did everything wrong, others got blamed. I didn't smile on cue, and a lighting technician was blamed for having the lighting wrong. I didn't pose right, and the decor guy was blamed for having the sofa at the wrong angle. You don't scream at the talent. She might get upset and ruin the entire shooting with her long face."

B'Elanna chuckled. "Well, just so that you know, I scream. I'm blunt; I tell you what you did wrong. Just know that as long as you are still working in Engineering, you must be doing alright. Because if I really think someone is doing a bad job, I don't hesitate to kick them out."

"And your Captain allows that?" Vlasana asked.

B'Elanna looked at Tom's wife and nodded. "Yeah. Of course, Voyager's crew was small. Once I had my crew like I liked it, it wasn't like I was throwing out people every week."

"It is known under the Voyager crew that B'Elanna picked her Engineers on capability, and not on other skills," Seven added. "Some of her Engineers left much to be desired on social level, but you can trust their work with your life."

B'Elanna chuckled. "Well, there is a reason those two serve on the Gamma shift, babe. They make a good team, they like each other enough to work well together, so I made them one team and put them where I have to see them as little as possible." Then she looked back at Vlasana. "But yeah, in the beginning, when I became the Chief Engineer, I kicked two people out. People that were working in Engineering before I joined the crew. The Captain accepted my decision to take them out of my team. Of course she did smooth their ruffled feathers and convinced them that this was their opportunity to start a new job. But when all is said and done, Kathryn stood by my choice because she too thinks that you cannot keep Engineers around that you can't trust to do their jobs right. Lives literally depend on what we do. So I threw them out and would not have let them back in, not even if ordered to."

Seven lifted an eyebrow before pointing out, "You threw me out numerous times, yet you always let me back in."

B'Elanna shook a finger at her be'nal. "That's because with you it never was a question of capability. I always knew you could do what you needed to do. With you the problem was more to get you to do it instead of doing things the way you thought they needed to be done. Something that pissed me off, but not something to worry about. Since the way you did it also worked, just that it wasn't the right way to do it to keep all running smooth in the long run."

"And interesting point of view," Seven admitted. "So you are saying that the way I did things was better, just that you did not like them because it meant more maintenance."

B'Elanna opened her mouth, but closed it again when she saw that little ghost of a smile. "Don't tease me like that, my Pet. I'm still wound up from the day I was having today."

The others didn't react to the nickname, having heard it several times before already. Nor were they surprised to see Seven place a quick kiss on B'Elanna's cheek, right on the faint bite mark, the very observant Vlasana noted.

As Seven turned back to look at the others, she asked, "Do you have decided on a name for the new ship?"

Tom scratched his chin. "Well, I figured, since it's not really my ship it's not up to me to come up with a name this time. For the moment the old ship is registered under it's old name, and, well, this isn't a ship yet, so..."

"And there is the little fact that with Delta Flyer you knew that it would have to be a ship name the Captain would approve of," Harry added. "But since this is technically going to be Rinara's ship, I guess the name is for her to decide."

"Oh, that's easy," Rinara said right away. "It just has to be 'The Pink glider', seeing that we are going to paint it pink."

Seeing Tom's shocked face, Rinara couldn't hold in her laughter. "Oh, come on already. Will you loosen up? I already told you that I'm pacified with that large room I'll be getting. I have forgiven you for me not having my private shuttle on this trip. This ship is ours, not mine. It is just going to be in my name and I happen to have paid a few bills for it. So picking a name is not up to me, but is up to us."

Tom relaxed and looked at Seven. "Seeing that you and B'Elanna are putting time into the ship, any chance on there being some Borg technology in it?"

Seven looked at B'Elanna since this was an easy subject for Seven. Seven was Borg; she trusted and preferred to use Borg technology. So it never was a question of whether she liked to use Borg technology for something, but if the Federation crew would allow it.

"Well," B'Elanna said thoughtfully. "I don't see why not. The ship's going to be a mix as it is. There is the overall ship design of the species that made the ship we are modeling this one after. Then there is a lot of Urdian technology. And the Federation engines. Why not Borg technology as well? At the moment we are only building the internal structure and the hull. That's Urdian technology and material used to mimicking the design of the unknown species. I would say, if we start with putting other things in we check what options we have. Urdian design is more along the line of extremely trustworthy and well-proven, while Borg technology is more along the line of the best, but not necessarily trustworthy and probably too narrow focus. While Federation technology on its turn is very versatile, but extremely outdated compared to Urdian and Borg technology."

"Since this is an informal setting, I can agree that I can find myself in your definition of Borg technology," Seven said, which was the blonde's way of joking on the matter, B'Elanna understood by now. Then Seven continued. "True, Borg technology is not trustworthy as such. Or more to the point, it is trustworthy as long as it is under supervision. The Borg do not need technology of which they know it will run for years without repairs. They have enough drones that they can have as many drones as is needed work on the technology while it is being used to have it work at peak efficiency. And Borg technology is in general narrow focus because it is the best technology possible to do one particular job. If something else needs doing, the Borg prefer to use a technology for that which is the best on that point."

"And I can find myself in your redefinition of the matter," B'Elanna said amused. "But the point is, whatever the reason, Borg technology is not by definition the best technology to use, even if it is the best. For a lot of things Urdian technology will be better because it is almost as good as Borg technology, but it is very robust."

"Just that we in turn have to recalibrate some of that Urdian technology simply because we, and Starfleet in general, have a broader expertise level," Seven countered. "We know what to let sensors also look for, for instance. The Urdian technology is also capable of looking for those other things, but they do not because they do not have our experience. For instance, they do not know that you should also scan for subspace tidal waves. It is an extremely rare phenomenon that has never happened in Urdian space; at least not in their history where they had space ships. Therefore they simply do not even know what to look for."

"But it does happen?" Vlasana asked. "And just what is it?"

"It is too complex to explain in detail now," Seven said. "But suffice to say that if a subspace tidal wave hits a ship that is traveling at warp, the pressure in the warp bubble increases. It can rip a starship apart if it is not built with a significant buffer in tolerances."

"It won't be a problem for the generational ships," B'Elanna added. "Simply because their design has such a huge safety buffer build in. Their hulls have been recorded as being able to stand a hundred-and-thirty percent of the guaranteed safety levels. And it won't be a problem for the updated Voyager either. But we came across such a tidal wave twice in our journeys on Voyager, and the first time it did severe damage to the ship. It even cracked the window of the bridge. Luckily we had the blast-shield up then, as we do standard while traveling at warp. But we spent a week at a starbase afterwards to repair all the damage. The second time we were prepared and had ours sensors warn us in time. We simply dropped out of warp and waited for a few minutes. Since the tidal wave was traveling in sub space, and we weren't there, it passed us by without doing damage."

"Anyway, we were talking names," Tom reminded. "I think it's safe to say that 'The Pink Glider' is out. Any real ideas?" Despite asking the group in general, he did have the decency to look at Rinara who would be the technical owner of the ship.

"I don't," Rinara said with a shake of her head. "But, even though it's our ship, I do uphold a veto right in case I don't like the name."

"How about we keep it simple," Vlasana suggested. "This ship will be build by a group of friends, to be used by that group of friends. You could say that this ship could not exist without friendship. Why don't we simply call her The Friendship?"

"Hmm," Tom said thoughtfully.

"Let's take The Friendship and check out that lake on the other side," B'Elanna said, to test out the name in a sentence.

"The Friendship survived that ion storm surprisingly well," Seven added.

"The Friendship is in serious need of repair," Rinara joked, then she added, "We worked hard to build The Friendship." Then she added more softly. "And I really like the friendships that I'm building during her creation. I never had many friends on my Homeworld. Only people that wanted something from me or people I had to work with. It was one of the reasons why it was so easy for me to leave it all behind and go with the man whose friendship and love is worth all to me."

In a reply, Harry simply took his lover into a secure embrace.

Seeing the approval of the others, B'Elanna tapped her communicator since she didn't feel like shouting in the huge cargo area they were in. "Computer, This is B'Elanna Torres of the USS Voyager. Please register a new ship name. The new ship that is being built in ownership of Rinara Kriea is as of now registered as the UAC (Urdian Aerospace Craft) Friendship. Authority for ship naming is rooted in the fact that I am the Chief Engineer and primary Safety Control Officer of said ship."

"Authority accepted, name not available," Came the computer back after a second of hesitation in which, B'Elanna was sure, records and authority had been checked.

"Why is the name not available?" B'Elanna wondered.

"There is already a UAC Friendship in service of the Aerospace program," the computer stated. "The UAC Friendship is currently on patrol of sector thirty-three."

"That means that we could name her The Friendship B, or a higher letter if that is taken as well," Seven pointed out.

B'Elanna shook her head. "Naw, I have a better idea. Computer, is the name 'UAC Friendship Six' available?"

"It is," The computer affirmed.

"I'm still not fully used to these Urdian computers," B'Elanna admitted. "I was expecting an 'affirmative' or 'negative'. So how about it you all? The Friendship Six for a full name, we can still refer to her as The Friendship since the added numbers or letters of a ships' name are normally only mentioned in official use anyway."

"Friendship Six, I like it," Harry approved. And one by one the rest also voiced their approval.

"Alright, computer, log the name as Friendship Six," B'Elanna ordered.

"Name logged," The computer informed. "Information of new ship status has been sent to Admiral Danara."

B'Elanna frowned. "We have to talk to Brika about that."

"Why?" Tom asked. "You didn't really think she wouldn't be notified of the fact that we are building a ship here, right?"

B'Elanna rolled her eyes. "Tom, if she didn't know by now that a ship is being built here, she would be a lousy Admiral. They are supposed to know everything. Just like Kathryn always knew about Voyager's stuff she pretended not to know, like where Voyager's still is located. Just because they know doesn't mean they have to act on it. But they should still know. But no, my problem is that the computer just told us that the Admiral would be informed, 'after' the message was sent. It may be how things are done with Urdians, but that's not how we work in the Federation."

"It's not?" Vlasana asked.

"No," Tom said, seeing what B'Elanna meant. "It has to do with privacy. Mind you, some things are always reported, like if I were to ask the computer the best way to kill the Captain without leaving a trace. But B'Elanna is right. With most things, you are informed beforehand that a message will be sent. I might have just been joking. Or it might very well be that I want to do something, but I don't want others to know because... because I'm shy."

He was interrupted by a collection of snorts coming from the others, including his wife.

"I'm not talking about me," He said with a sigh. "Anyway, if I'm told that the message will be sent I might tell the computer to forget about it. Let's actually take the name of the ship. Let's say we had been goofing around and B'Elanna had threatened to name the ship the... um... the pink pussy. I think you will agree that she would want to have the chance to actually not send that message to the Admiral."

"I see," Vlasana said in understanding. "Our mentality is more like, if you already thought of something, just that you were thinking it is enough to warrant a notification. But I see your point as well. Some stuff could be just goofing around."

"That's actually how my career started," Rinara noted. "Once upon a time I was a shy girl who thought that she was ugly. But I dreamed of being a model and one day I had the computer record me doing a pretend fashion show, modeling some of my mother's clothing. Way too big on me of course. I was only ten years old. I was just playing; I had no idea. I had no idea really what it meant that a video was made. It's just something I head my parents say sometimes. I had no idea that the video was going to be sent as soon as I selected an address. In fact, I didn't even select a real address. I told the computer to send the video to the world's biggest modeling agency, just in play. And the file was sent right that moment!"

The others, even Seven, cringed, imagining being a little girl and suddenly having your private little fantasy broadcasted to the world.

"Yeah," Rinara agreed. "I wanted to die when I understood what I just did. But the next day an agent who was contacted by the modeling agency stood at my parents' door with a contract. They didn't care about the way too big clothes of course. But they did care about my looks, my walk, and my attitude. And the rest is, as they say, history. So it worked out well for me, but the fact remains, the file was sent when I really didn't want it to be sent."

"But other things should be sent, even if it was just supposed to be a joke," Seven informed. "One should not talk about wanting to kill a Captain, joke or not. Not counting a friendly 'I will kill you' of course. But if a thought already reached the level of asking the computer on how to do it, then it's very likely that person needs counseling."

"But, it's not really our problem," B'Elanna pointed out. We'll tell Kathryn, she'll tell Brika, and they and the other Captains just figure it out. I'm sure Kathryn will be a crusader for the cause more than we ever could. She does like her privacy. Now, how about we do some actual building on this thing, Seven and I only have two more hours before we got to get home."

"Oh, you need to get home, eh?" Tom asked while wiggling his eyebrows.

"Yes Tom, I do," B'Elanna said surprisingly calm. "I have found that I much rather spent some time at home alone with Seven so that I can relax after a day of work. I could do it the old way if you want and take my frustrations out on people that don't deserve it. I could break your nose and then say sorry for instance."

Tom covered his nose with his hands. "Nope, I leave the honor of having a nose broken by you all to Carey."

B'Elanna snorted and turned. She took Seven at one arm and Rinara at the other. Come on you two. We go do technical work. Vlasana, you mind overseeing the children... I mean boys... I mean ehm, men?"

"No, I don't mind," Vlasana assured. "It's good training for when I have my baby."

Day twenty. (Evening.)

Seven had her feet pulled up under her and was exactly where she wanted to be; in the loving arms of her wife. They were sitting on B'Elanna's couch, which merely meant that it was the couch that B'Elanna preferred to sit on when both of them were sitting on separate couches.

They were once again in their evening clothes; the white and soft bathrobe for Seven, the sports bra and boxer shorts for B'Elanna. Both of B'Elanna's arms were around the blonde. But one disappeared under the robe to touch warm skin, while the other was holding a PADD that the Klingon was reading. To be able to read it, B'Elanna had her head resting in the crook of Seven's neck and shoulder and was peeking over the pale skin down to the PADD.

Seven on her turn was twisting the Rubik's cube slowly in her hands.

"Damn, you solved that already?" B'Elanna asked when she saw Seven give a final twist that brought all colors to where they should be. "Well done my Pet, you deserve a reward for that. Tell me what and I'll make it happen."

Seven thought about that for a moment. Then she smiled. "How about your reward being answering a little challenge? You, me, sex."

"B'Elanna placed a soft kiss on that beautiful neck. "Hon, that's easy; that will happen in an hour or so anyway."

"True, but that is not what I mean. The challenge is that you do something that I would never have expected, yet at the same time I really should have expected it. And I am not talking about a sexual act as such, mire like a situation. For instance, since this has already happened and I can use it as an example, this morning I opened my eyes after regenerating and saw you there, standing in my alcove with me. You took me right there and then,"

"To give you some fond memories to think of the next time you step into that alcove and before all goes black," B'Elanna said with a smile. Their morning had definitely been fun.

"And I will," Seven assured. However, that is what I mean. I had not at all expected that this would happen, but now that it has, I know that it is definitely something I should have expected. So, that is the reward I ask of you; surprise me like that again."

"Push," B'Elanna said and smiled when she saw how Seven dutifully pushed a button on the PADD, making the text scroll one margin. Of course, B'Elanna could have done it herself, but that would have meant removing her hand from her lover's body. "You are right; that's a challenge alright. But I think I like it. But not today, I need to think to truly surprise you by something that has you saying 'duh, of course'. Push."

Another margin moved over the PADD screen.

"Want me to get the PADD to calculate a new code?" B'Elanna asked.

"That would mean that you would have to move to get it, and I would need to move as well," Seven pointed out.

B'Elanna thought for a moment. "Alright, let's do this different. I want a three by three square in the corner of every color. You pick the corner, but I want the square to mirror each other."

Seven smiled as she started to turn the cube in her hand, not twisting it yet. "I love you, B'Elanna Torres. You are a wonderful person."

B'Elanna grinned and kissed her lover's neck once more. "Neh, I'm just a selfish bitch that realizes that you were right a couple of weeks ago. You keep me happy and I'm easy to live with. And now I'm just so damn selfish that I decided that if I keep you happy, you are even more eager to keep me happy, which results in me being one damn satisfied woman. See, I'm doing this all for me."

"And you say the sweetest things too," Seven added amused.

"I love you, my be'nal," B'Elanna assured, just to take away any trace there might have been about her just joking.

But Seven had no such doubts; she was absolutely certain in the fact that B'Elanna loved her more than her own life. "And I love you, my Lord."

"Kahless, I really start to like those names more and more. I like hearing you call me my Lord, and I sure as hell like to call you my Lady. Push."

Seven pushed the button again and finally B'Elanna gave up. "How long will you keep pushing that button until you tell me to do it myself?"

"Until now," Seven said triumphantly. "I knew you were trying to tease me, but I also know that I have more patience than you."

"Bitch, it's not fair to tease the teaser."

"I disagree."

B'Elanna hugged the blonde. "Kahless Seven. I love you so much that it hurts. You make me so happy, you are my universe."

Seven turned slightly until she could look in her lover's eyes. "And I love you, my everything. You are my perfection."

They kissed and spent a few minutes simply expressing their love for each other. Finally Seven turned around again after a last 'I love you', and B'Elanna looked over that perfect shoulder to the wall.

"You know what we need to do? We need to get us a viewscreen on that wall there. If it's big enough I can use it to read my PADD information on it while holding nothing but a little remote in my hand."

Seven looked at the wall as well. "That would mean removing our wedding pictures."

"No, well, yes, but no," B'Elanna stumbled as she thought. "I mean, just move them a little. We can put a view screen there, and then put the pictures around it like a boarder kind of thing."

"We only have four wedding pictures," Seven pointed out. Then she frowned. "That too indicates that back then we were not fully ourselves. A wedding where pictures are taken and we only have four pictures?"

"Good point," B'Elanna agreed. "But it will become more. We can add pictures you know? Pictures of us saying no to the question of divorce, pictures of our House being created, pictures of our friends joining. Other things as well, like Kathryn and Brika getting married. Or a picture of Tom and Vlasana with their baby once it's born. I, I think I would really like a picture of both events. The wedding simply because Kathryn is our friend, family even. And I want a picture of one of the most important days in her life. And the Paris family, simply because that's closure. Seeing Tom with his child definitely brings closure to what was once between us."

"I wonder at what time Tom will get to sleep tonight," Seven said thoughtfully before suddenly accusing, "B'Elanna Torres, you are evil. By telling people to contact Tom after work, and then not warning him this afternoon. His entire evening will be ruined by people contacting him."

"Good," B'Elanna said firmly. "I still needed to get him back for starting to recruit people without asking me. And before you say it, the fact that we decided to go ahead fully with the House doesn't change the fact that he started to talk to people. He knew damn well that those people would come to me, or else he would have basically asked them for their name and address and then tell them that he would contact them again once I agreed. No, he sent those people to me, and now I merely returned the favor."

Seven looked at the wall once more. "I like the idea of having more pictures, and I definitely agree that we should place important ones on that wall. However we can do more. A viewscreen will not be used all the time for reading PADDs. We could upload pictures and even video files to a loop feed and have it running on the viewscreen when it is not in use otherwise. We could do that with pictures or video files that we like but that are not really that important. For instance pictures of beautiful scenes that we took on an away mission for nothing more than the fact that the view was that beautiful. Images that we would like to see gracing our wall from time to time, but that we are not so emotionally connected to that we want them on the wall all the time."

B'Elanna kissed her lover's star shaped implant. "I so love your ideas. We can also tie in sensor data from the Glory so that in certain situations it looks like we are looking out a window, for instance if we are in orbit around a planet."

"And I love your ideas," Seven replied. "You are right, at warp a view out of a window would not be that interesting since all we would see is stars shooting by. But a view of a planet, moon, or nebula would be interesting."

"Well, there we go, that's what we do then," B'Elanna decided. "We can combine all three. We make it a viewscreen of two meters wide and one and a half high. That way I can read texts from here, and zoom in on things and see every detail. And if I, or you for that matter, am not using the screen for that we can have the viewscreen show the other stuff. Since the view screen is so big we can then also use part of it to show pictures, and part to show sensor data if we are somewhere interesting. Whatever strikes us fancy. Now we only have to see if getting such a view screen is covered by our jobs, since I, we, would also be using it for work. Otherwise we will be saving replicator rations for months for a screen that size."

"I am certain that we will not have to give up our ration for the view screen," Seven said confidently. "You are the Chief Engineer of Voyager. And on top of that you are also the most senior Engineer in the Fleet. That the Urdians know more about the new designs than you, does not matter since their knowledge is from teaching in schools. They might know more about the Urdian warp engines, but you will be the one that will be asked how it might be done if changes would have to be made to the design. Simply because you are experienced and have a good idea of what you can get away with, while the Urdian Engineers will say 'they told us at school that we can't do that'. And as that experienced Engineer you are fully in your right to request a quarter's sized viewscreen so that you can also look at schematics and reports at home. What the viewscreen is used for besides that is not of relevance."

"Hmm, you got a point there," B'Elanna agreed. "That's one of the weaknesses of the Fleet. They have great technology, but most people are inexperienced. If not with the technology, then with life on a starship. Even the Captains. The senior crews of the ships differ from the rest that they at least have some experience from their space program. Because their space program also takes care of the scheduled trips back and forth between their homeworld and their colonies the senior crew members must have served several years on those ships to gain experience before being allowed onto one of the ships in the Fleet in a commanding position. But still, most of them nevertheless get promoted into new positions when joining the Fleet. A first officer on one of those ships gets promoted to Captain and gets command of one of the Fleet ships. There are twenty Urdian captains, but I bet that only half of them were already Captain before becoming part of the Fleet. And of those ten people that were already Captain, I doubt that five of them have served more than five years as a Captain."

"Which is why they sent an admiral with the Fleet," Seven reminded. "Brika has over twenty years of command experience, twelve of which are as captain. She entered the Urdian space program straight from what the Urdians call base school."

"Base school?" B'Elanna repeated.

"Unless they are kicked from school like Ina was, Urdians all follow the same schooling growing up," Seven explained. "Until they reach the age of eighteen, then they specialize in certain fields, or stop learning of course. Brika joined the space program at age eighteen, selecting to take the command track. When leaving the academy at age twenty-two she got the position as First Officer in Training because she showed so much promise. At age twenty-four this was turned into a regular First Officer position. She became Captain at age thirty-one."

"That's damn impressive," B'Elanna said, indeed impressed.

Seven nodded. "I agree. Plus her years as Captain were not merely shuttling people back and forth to the colonies. She was the Captain of one of the ships that patrol Urdian space. She is not new to first contact, including having been in a couple of battles with ships that entered Urdian space and thought that it was a good idea to shoot first and ask questions later."

"Really?" B'Elanna asked surprised. "I definitely have to read up on her. She is always so calm and easy going, so willing to let her Captains deal with stuff."

"Be'nal," Seven said gently, "if Brika took care of everything, how can those fresh Captains learn how to do things? She is so standoffish, as you might call it, because she wants the Captains to step up and do what they are supposed to do."

"Hmm, good point," B'Elanna conceded. "So how long has she been an admiral?"

"For a little over four years now," Seven informed. "She became Admiral at age forty-three. When she made it known that she was interested in leaving the planet as Captain on one of the ships that was leaving the planet on the Fleet six years ago, they asked her to stay and instead start on the route to becoming the Admiral in the Fleet that is leaving now. She first spent two years as Captain training under the Admiral that was preparing his Fleet at that moment, and then became Admiral once the Fleet four years ago left."

B'Elanna nodded. "I get it, a Fleet may leave every two years, but preparing a Fleet takes longer than that. And the Admiral of a Fleet is in charge of the Fleet long before it leaves of planet or even actually exists. And appointing an Admiral at that time lets the Admiral experience the work they need to do in the Fleet before the Fleet exists. Like ordering the crews around that are building ships, or making sure that those crews have the resources and tools needed to do their job. And by the time the Fleet does leave the Admiral has years of experience in being an Admiral."

Then B'Elanna pointed over her shoulder with the PADD in her hand. "Anyway, enough about Brika, do you want something on this side of the room to look at as well?"

"I have," Seven replied. "If I sit on my couch and I look up, then I see you; that is all that I need to see."


Seven lifted the Klingon's hand that was still holding the PADD. "Do not forget about my memory. I do not need a screen to look at data. I only need something like that when I need to input data as well. In such a situation I will need to have a PADD anyway. And if I am in a mood to look at pictures or sensor data, it will mean that I am not doing something else and will more than likely be in exactly this location anyway, being held by you. Then I can look at the viewscreen on that wall."

B'Elanna blinked her eyes to remove the tears that formed. "I love you, my be'nal."

Seven smiled and turned in the arms of her lover. "And I love you. You know something? I really love our roles as Lord and Lady of our House. I love it when you are my Lord. I also love it when we are equals like when we are on duty. Yes, you may be my commanding officer, but we interact as equals. But I also really like to see this gentle B'Elanna. To see this person you show nobody but me. To see this person that tears up from nothing more than realizing just how much I love her. You, my love, are my perfection."

B'Elanna merely burrowed her face into her lover's neck tightened her embrace, holding onto her be'nal, the most important thing in the universe, like her life depended on it.

Part 19

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