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 20

Day twenty-one. (Afternoon.)

Jennifer had one of her two weekly days off and was just on her way back home from having spent some time hanging out with some of her new Urdian friends when she saw someone a little further down the corridor who was peeking around a corner. Jennifer smiled when she saw the woman move around the corner in a sneaky kind of way. Being in the mood for some fun she decided to stalk the stalker.

She also sneaked around the corner and saw her target peeking around yet another corner a little down the corridor. Suppressing a giggle, Jennifer snuck up behind the woman. She was sorely tempted to say 'boo', but decided to whisper instead. "You know, you could ask the computer where he is."

Sirva jumped at the whisper so close to her ear and turned to scowl at the woman. "Do you have a death wish? I'm Clan you know?"

Jennifer shrugged. "And I'm Starfleet. Still doesn't mean that I'm also part of the Starfleet Marine Corps. Sorry, but you really don't strike me as the deadly fighter kind."

Sirva scowled again. "What do you want, woman?"

Jennifer shrugged as she smiled. "I was just trying to help. You do realize that your sneaking is more visible than following Olik by computer could be, right? Surely you know how the computer system works? You can sit at home and ask the computer ten times in a minute where someone is. Hell, you can even ask the computer to plot their position on a grid and update it whenever the person moves."

"I may be of a conservative Clan, but as Archivist I do know how to use a computer," Sirva said annoyed. "But you seem to forget, or not know, that you can only do that two days in a row before a potential stalker warning is sent to the local arbitration bureau on a third day. And even if you don't try to do it three days in a row, you can still only do it for a maximum of four days in a week, and no more than one week in a row. If you want more you need a permit and a valid reason."

Jennifer gave the woman another smile. "You aren't used to hiding stuff, are you? You just basically admitted that you are indeed stalking Olik."

Sirva only scowled once again.

Jennifer let her eyes drift over the woman's body. Today Sirva was clad in Clan clothing which existed mostly out of wine red colored leathers. The top was of such design that the two sides that covered the breasts were held together with laces, leaving a few centimeters of room between the sides. Which in turn left a very tempting view of a very nice cleavage.

Jennifer's eyes drifted down to take in the skirt Sirva was wearing. It could best be described as a mini skirt with the top hem disappearing below a belt of a slightly darker red color while the bottom hem ended in an irregular line as if it was simply where the piece of leather had ended. It was a very successful attempt in looking like the skirt was just a piece of leather wrapped around the admittedly very shapely woman.

Now that Jennifer saw the woman up close, she mentally affirmed her guess that Sirva had to have B cup breasts. While the hanging skirt hid the lower half of the woman's behind, Jennifer had seen a very nice roundness while she was following the Clan woman. And the bare middle made it very easy to see that Sirva was graced with a nice hourglass shape with just the right padding in just the right places. She didn't look skinny by a long shot, and yet she also didn't look like there was a gram of fat too much on her body. She looked... just right.

Jennifer glanced down even more. Nice legs and then a set of short boots that ended halfway up the lower leg that didn't have much of a heel. Jennifer looked back up, registering that the woman's eyes were just a little higher than her own. Jennifer liked women that were taller than herself, not something that happened too often since Jennifer was one meter and seventy three centimeters tall. Yes, Jennifer definitely liked what she saw. Breasts and behind weren't too big or too small, she wasn't too tall or too short, too skinny or too fat, and she had a very attractive face that could be described as beautiful, but not stunningly gorgeous. In short, to Jennifer the woman was in the perfect goldilocks zone; everything was just right.

No, Jennifer wouldn't mind a little romp with the woman at all. Even the gruff attitude had its own charm. It gave the woman somewhat of a wild aura, something that definitely fitted with her Clan heritage. Though, having met Olik and Kinal thanks to her time spent with Celes, Jennifer knew that Clan didn't automatically meant wild, and Jennifer wondered if the woman wasn't living the image of what she thought a Clan person had to be, instead of just being herself.

"Do you want something?" Sirva asked when the silence stretched between them.

"Oh, sorry, I was just enjoying the view," Jennifer stated boldly.

Sirva scowled once more. "I'm not interested. As you so nicely figured out, I'm interested in Olik."

Jennifer pursed her lips. "Hmm, well I can assure you that Olik is a lost cause. You'll never be able to make him choose you over Celes. Besides, even if Celes wasn't in the picture, Olik's sister is leaving as well. And even if she wasn't in the picture either, Olik still wants to leave."

Jennifer took hold of Sirva's arm and pulled gently. "Come on. I'll treat you to a drink."

Sirva didn't move. "Thanks but no thanks. I have something to do."

Jennifer sighed. "You should really know by now where Olik is going. Celes' quarters are in that direction. Come on already." She tugged on the arm again. "Come on. What else do you have to do? Follow Olik some more? It's Celes' day off today. So either they won't leave her quarters, or Celes will be with Olik and he will be less than pleased by you bugging him. While I just might be able to keep you entertained for a bit."

Sirva lifted an eyebrow at that.

Jennifer chuckled. "Well, you do look good enough to eat, but while I am easy if I want to be, I do like to be entertained in other ways before jumping into bed. I was thinking more along the lines of something to eat and you telling me about life as a Clan member."

"I'm not interested in women," Sirva pointed out.

"And I've been wanting a toaster oven for quite some time now," Jennifer noted.

"What?" Sirva asked confused.

Jennifer shook her head. "Never mind, it's a very old joke where I come from, and even then only a few will get it. Alright, how about this? You come with me and we talk a little about all and nothing, and one of the subjects I'll talk to you about will be me explaining why you won't get Olik to leave the ship."

Sirva seemed to be interested in that and after a moment she finally let herself be let away a few steps. Then she stopped and offered, "Tell you what, you start talking about Olik and I'll walk along for as long as the subject is interesting."

Jennifer smiled in triumph. "Alright, I can start with talking about Olik. And once we are talking you won't even notice when we start talking about other stuff. I'm good at talking."

Now that she didn't have to pull on Sirva's arm anymore, Jennifer lowered her hand down the arm until she was holding the woman's hand.

"You can let go now," Sirva noted. "I'm coming already."

Jennifer shook her head and held on to the hand. "We'll see about that coming later. But I'm not taking any chances. As for Olik, do you know how old he is, or should I say how young he is?"

"Of course I know," Sirva said. "He is two years younger than me; twenty-six years old."

Jennifer took another opportunity to take in the woman's body. The more she looked at Sirva, the more Jennifer decided that she liked ash blonde after all. "You are twenty-eight years old? If you had told me that you were eighteen I would have believed you. But then, you Urdians age different than we Humans, I did hear about that."

"Trying to flatter me isn't talking about Olik," Sirva pointed out.

Jennifer led them down one of the corridors to a turbo lift. She decided that the main mess hall was too impersonal for the charming Jennifer had in mind. Instead she headed to one of the smaller overflow mess halls; the smaller places that were located more to the outer corners of the ships for people that didn't want to go too far to eat for a quick meal. There were normally only a few tables and a replicator, and the food did cost some replicator rations to encourage people to use the main mess hall instead. Jennifer was sure that at this time of the day the overflow mess hall would be empty; just the way Jennifer wanted it. She wanted to be able to move on to flirting without people listening in or making faces.

"Alright," Jennifer said. "You want me to talk about Olik? How about this? Why do you try? Surely you must realize that there is nothing you can offer him that interests him?"

"You don't know what I offered him in name of my Clan," Sirva pointed out.

"Besides yourself you mean," Jennifer noted with a smile. Then she continued before Sirva could reply. "I brought up Olik's age for a reason. He is twenty-six years old. He is a First Warrior. What else could he be now? He reached the top. He can't be a Clan leader simply because no Clan would follow him at this point. He may be a great warrior, but he is too young to have the life's experience that a Clan leader needs to have. What could you offer him besides yourself? The promise to be a leader in your Clan at some point? Even that has no value. He is the First Warrior in one of the biggest Clans now, if not 'the' biggest."

"They are the biggest," Sirva admitted.

"Right," Jennifer continued. "So if he were to stay on the planet he would eventually become a leader in that Clan. Why would he give up becoming an assured future position as a leader in the biggest Clan for a promise of becoming a leader in the smallest Clan?"

As they entered the turbolift to travel up two decks to the overflow mess hall, Sirva asked, "And I would not be an added incentive?"

Jennifer shook her head. "Nope. Don't get me wrong, you look great, and to some the idea of having someone around to do their bidding is nice, but Olik is already in a relationship. Again, why would he give up a sure thing for something that is merely a promise? He and Celes are intimate, and both of them like the sex. So why would Olik give up good sex just to try and see if you are any good? If he had been single, sure. But not now."

The turbolift stopped and Jennifer gently pulled the Clan woman out of the lift. "I'm sorry to say that, but you were sent on an impossible mission. You see, even if Celes was not in the picture, then you still didn't stand a chance. This time because of that 'having reached all he can be' thing. Olik is a First Warrior. What? Is he going to be that until he gets too old for it and therefore old enough to become a Clan leader? I'm not that familiar with the Urdian body..." she let her eyes drift over the shapely body beside her, "...yet. So you tell me, at what age is someone's body such that he is too old to be a First Warrior? Especially if he kept up with training?"

Sirva sighed. "Not counting the few First Warriors that had to step down because of having a crippling disease or having lost the respect of the warriors, a First Warrior is never too old to be a First Warrior. We Urdians stay healthy and strong well into old age. It's more a matter of an old First Warrior still being good enough to be First Warrior, but a younger person being better because he has the benefit of youth."

"So, on your planet Olik could be First Warrior for the next forty years or so," Jennifer guessed. "And he would leave his clan, his position as First Warrior of the biggest Clan around because?"

"This place is closed," Sirva noted as she looked around the small mess hall they had entered. With only six tables for four people each it was only one tenth the side of the main mess hall of the ship.

"The door was open," Jennifer noted, letting Sirva get away with not answering. "It's just that it isn't a main time to eat so it's quiet in all the mess halls."

"And what are we doing here?" Sirva asked.

"Don't play dumb," Jennifer said. "Just what would a person do here at this time of the day? A fitness routine? I brought you here because I want to talk to you without people listening in. Do you want something in particular, or should I surprise you? I introduced some of my new Urdian friends to some tasty treats from back home... from Earth... and they had a near orgasmic reaction to a triple chocolate covered strawberry cheesecake."

"A what?" Sirva asked.

"An orgasmic experience, never heard of it?" Jennifer teased. "It feels wonderful."

"I meant the other thing," Sirva clarified.

"Ah, well that is a testimony to the fact that advanced technology still doesn't mean you thought of everything," Jennifer said with a smile. "You Urdians have all the ingredients that are needed, but you never put them together to make a triple chocolate covered strawberry cheesecake. Do you like chocolate?"

"Well yes, but," Sirva started, only to be interrupted by Jennifer gently pushing her down onto a chair.

"Then sit and be amazed." Jennifer quickly went over to the replicator and searched its memory. All of Voyager's replicator patterns had been added to the menu, but most Urdians didn't know that because they had no idea that there were new patterns and just went with what they knew. A moment later two desserts were replicated and Jennifer made a little show of putting one in front of Sirva.

The leather clad woman picked up her fork and took a little bite. She couldn't help herself and let out a satisfied moan at the rich taste.

Jennifer laughed when she saw the blonde's eyes go wide in surprise. Jennifer took the opportunity to study Sirva's eye color a bit more. Jennifer knew by now that Urdians had certain eye colors that were more prominent then others. A golden eye color was about as frequent as green was with humans. But Sirva's eyes were a shade darker than that. Sirva eye color was definitely amber instead of gold. Jennifer noted the strength of the color. Often you could see several colors in the eyes. Blue could look green with the right background or clothing. Green could look gray. But Sirva's eyes were one solid amber color that left no room for any other color description. Jennifer decided that it fitted the woman perfectly. It added a bit to that wild aura. Making it a mix of wild with exotic. Perfect.

Jennifer laughed again when the Clan woman eagerly took a next bite, but this time as big as she could fit on her fork. Within a minute the dessert was gone and Sirva looked at the empty plate with a sad expression on her face.

Feeling generous, Jennifer pushed her own treat across the table, having not yet taken any of it. "Here, enjoy. And eat a little slower this time. It's even better then."

Sirva didn't object or ask if Jennifer was sure. Instead she took a bit of the new treat, but this time she did chew a little more and tried to appreciate the flavor even more.

"Olik has it all," Jennifer started once Sirva was eating again. There is nothing he can do on the planet but get old. But here, here he can grow. Here he will become the Marine Commander of the House... basically a First Warrior."

Sirva swallowed before replying, showing that despite her somewhat wild and rude attitude, she did have good manners. "I heard of this House thing. All the Clans are joining it?"

"Almost," Jennifer corrected. "A few of the more conservative ones want to wait a little longer to see if actions mirror promises. But yes, most will join. Anyway. Here Olik will also be a First Warrior, if you want to use that name. But more importantly, here he has something else as well; something new. Here he will travel through the universe. Here he will see different places. Besides being the Marine Commander, he will also be in the Defense Force. Seeing his status, and his ability as a fighter I'm sure that he will be part of the primary security detail. That means that he will go down to planets that we make a stop at, even if others don't because it isn't a shore leave. He will see new things every week. He will see real action whereas the warriors on your planet basically just train in case there ever might be action. He 'will' see action, he 'will' put his training into practice. Now I ask you, why would he give any of that up?"

Sirva took another bite, using the time to think. Once she had swallowed she didn't answer the question but instead noted, "But you don't seem to understand that I can't but try. I have to. I owe it to my Clan."

"Why?" Jennifer asked. "Wait, I do understand a bit about Clans by now. But what I mean is, why continue? You tried; you gave him your Clan's offer. Why go on making a fool of yourself? You know that Olik won't accept, surely you do? Just between us, far away from your Clan. Surely you must realize that you are too late?"

Sirva didn't answer with words, but did answer all the more by looking down at the now empty plate and staying silent.

Jennifer got up and replicated herself another dessert. She laughed when she saw Sirva's eyes track to the treat. "Nope, you had enough." Seeing a scowl come back onto that face that was surprisingly charming if those mouth corners were turned up instead of down, Jennifer explained, "I'm not being an ass here. It tastes great, but if you eat too much of it you'll get sick to the stomach. I can get you a drink though. Your teeth must hurt from all that sugar."

"A drink would be nice," Sirva agreed.

Jennifer put her dessert down and went to replicate a glass of her favorite non-alcoholic drink. "Here, since we are on a roll, why don't you try this juice? I really..." She stopped talking when she saw her dessert. Or more to the point, the fact that there was a corner missing. She tisked playfully. "Don't blame me if you are puking soon."

Sirva gave her a little smile in response.

Jennifer smiled back. "You know, you have a great smile if you allow it onto your face."

Predictably the smile disappeared.

Jennifer started to eat what was left of her dessert as she looked at the Urdian in thought. Finally she wondered. "Why don't you think about yourself a little bit more?"

"What do you mean?" Sirva asked. She took a sip from the drink and decided that it too was very much to her liking.

"What I mean is that Olik told me and my sister that you live in a very conservative Clan; one of the very few that still live their life with the idea that a woman exists to serve a man. A Clan that is dying out. You only have something like a hundred members left, Olik said? Most of which are old people that are just set in their ways. But now you managed to get onto a ship in the Fleet. Why don't you join the Fleet instead? Then you could also join the House. You would become one with the other Clans. Then you would no longer be just a member of some dying Clan; you would be a member of the House. You could live your own life. You're an archivist. What are you going to do in your Clan, write down how the Clan dies out? Here you could write the history of a new House. You could spend time with who you want, you could do a job in the Fleet."

"As I just said, I heard about this House," Sirva noted. "And more to the point, I heard that a certain Tal Celes applied to become the House Chronicler. I would end up working for the woman with whom I'm competing."

Jennifer shrugged. "So? Celes isn't a sore winner. Plus, I think she'll treat you just fine once you stop trying to take her man. Celes is a really nice person. Besides, you actually did her a favor, right before becoming annoying. When you started to run after Olik, Celes didn't worry. She was secure in their relationship. And you made her see that. So I'm sure there won't be any hard feelings left, unless you keep pushing and hard feelings form because of that. Besides, it has been made very clear that the House is second placed to the Fleet. You would also be doing a job for the Fleet. Or more to the point, your main job would be for the Fleet. Still, I'm sure they'll have a job that would fit you just right. After all, they have to coordinate a group of forty-thousand people. Some things have to be done centralized."

"Plus I only have a visitor access pass," Sirva pointed out another reason for why she could not stay. "Once the Fleet gets ready to leave I have to get back to the planet."

Jennifer pursed her lips. "Well, than there is that. But I'm sure something could be worked out. I mean, people like Ina were allowed to join the Fleet at a moment's notice. And others as well when it was found out that some people were needed extra in some places. The whole point of the ships is that there is a buffer of extra room for five hundred people per ship so that they don't have to build new ships from the get go. So the ships aren't full from the beginning. People can join."

"For a good reason," Sirva disagreed. "If everyone that wanted to join could join there would be no reason for a waiting list. There are still tens of thousands of people that would like to join the Fleet. So why not them, while I would be allowed? The fact that I'm Clan is not good enough. I'm not a First Warrior or a Doctor, like Olik's sister. I'm just someone that is good at keeping books."

"And it pains you to admit that, doesn't it?" Jennifer noted before agreeing, "Well, you have a point. But you do talk like it is something you would be interested in. Joining the Fleet I mean."

"Me? Oh, no. I'm happy at home, I was just having a discussion," Sirva disagreed, a little bit too fast.

"Uh hu, and you almost sound convincing too," Jennifer said, not believing it for a moment. "You know what I think? I think that you were this little girl once that had dreams. But that was always told that girls didn't do this or that. That was told that girls didn't have jobs like that when they grew up. What was it that you wanted to be when you were little?"

She tilted her head a little as she looked at the Clan woman. "Hmm, seeing some of the attitude you portray, I'm willing to bet that you wanted to be a warrior when you grew up. But no, girls don't do that. You were a little girl that was told that girls didn't play this or that kind of game, am I right? So eventually the dreams died off and all that was left was this woman that does as she is told simply because that's how she lived. But somewhere deep down there is still that little girl that is dreaming of things as simple as... as eating a triple chocolate covered strawberry cheesecake. Or using her free time to do nothing more than look out of the window and see the stars go by. Or do something else that she wants to do without first having being told to do it."

Suddenly she asked, "You know what I do in my free time? Well, a lot of fun stuff actually, come to think of it. But if I'm at home and don't feel like doing anything else I like making mosaics. I prefer to use small pieces of colored glass to create nature scenes. It takes me anywhere from a week to three months to make my mosaics. Could you do that on your planet, or would they tell you that it's a bad use of good time?"

Sirva frowned. "Woman, what do you want from me? Why are you trying to convince me that I don't have a life?"

Jennifer shrugged. "I thought that I had been pretty obvious in what I want from you. I want to get you naked and in bed. And I definitely don't mean going to bed to relax. But besides that I happen to be brought up in a society where women are treated as equals to men and where free choice is a mandatory right. I see you act like you do, only because someone told you to. I see you here only because someone told you to go offer yourself to someone you don't even know and something in me just wants to shake you and tell you to start thinking for yourself."

"And I told you before; I'm not interested in women," Sirva reminded.

"Why, because the men in your Clan told you that women should only be interested in men... so that they can get laid more often?" Jennifer persisted. "Or is it truly because it's something you don't want? If you truly don't like the idea of being with a woman, then fine. But tell me, you never thought about it? You never wondered? Look at it this way, you are now here on the ship, so the men in your Clan can't get into bed with you anyway. So, if you ever wondered, here is your chance. I'm very willing to get into bed with you, and I even like the fact that you've never been with a woman, instead of being turned off by the inexperience. And the best thing is, if you really decide to go back to your Clan you don't have to tell anyone about it and it can be your little secret."

Jennifer stood up and moved to stand beside Sirva. She extended her hand in offer. "So how about it? You, me, my bed at my home? It can be your little secret and nobody will ever know. Well, my sister might be home by now, but she and I have an agreement. If one of us has someone with us in the bedroom the other stays out on the couch. So we won't be interrupted."

Sirva merely looked at the hand in front of her face.

"Come on," Jennifer urged. "Do you really want to tell me you never wanted to experiment? Well here is your sure thing. Once you leave the ship I'll leave with the Fleet and nobody will ever know. And believe me, if you ever wondered what making love to a woman would be like, I'm a good person to try with. I like giving just as much as getting. I promise you, you will leave my quarters as one very satisfied woman."

Sirva swallowed, or at least tried to. Hesitantly she lifted her hand until she was almost touching Jennifer's.

Jennifer shook her head. "No, that's my only condition; you have to take my hand. I want it to be very clear that you are a willing partner in this. Even if you pretend afterwards that it never happened, now I want a consenting person to come with me, not a reluctant one."

After another moment of hesitation, Sirva finally took the hand and let herself be helped to her feet.

Not letting go of the hand, Jennifer stepped closer until their bodies were just touching. She leaned closer yet and whispered as seductive as she could into the Clan woman's ear, "Of course, once you've been with me you will be spoiled for the rest of your life. I'm good. Once I'm done with you, every time you are with someone you'll think back to being with me."

Sirva finally managed a smile at that. "You are so full of yourself."

Jennifer laughed and let go of the hand, only to put her arm around Sirva's middle and pull her close. As they started to walk to the door, Jennifer admitted, "I had to find a way to relax you a bit. Come on, this is supposed to be fun. I don't want you nervous; I want you excited and eager."

"Well, since you are my little guilty experiment, are you actually any good?" Sirva countered. "I don't want to do this only to be bored."

Jennifer winked. "I never ever, not even once, had a complaint."

"We will see," Sirva said. Then, figuring what they were going to do, she decided that warming up a bit to this stranger was definitely in order. She put her arm around Jennifer, but where Jennifer had her arm around Sirva's middle, Sirva decided that this one and only time she was going to be with a woman, she wanted to be a bit more active than she normally was when she was with a man. She boldly put her hand on Jennifer's behind and squeezed it gently.

"Ooh," Jennifer approved. "You're a take action kind of girl I see... or better said, feel."

"Normally I'm not," Sirva admitted. "The men in our Clan are used to be in charge in all aspects of life. But if I'm going to do this I think I want to experiment with being a bit... bolder."

They stepped into the turbolift and Jennifer moved to stand against the wall. She pulled Sirva along and against her. "Oh, that sounds fine to me, I don't mind teaching a novice who wants to be in charge despite a lack of experience. Here's your first lesson. If you have a very wanting woman along in a turbolift, it is mandatory that you push her back against the wall and quickly ravish her until the door opens."

"Oh really?" Sirva asked as she very willingly went with the idea and leaned her body against Jennifer and let her hands boldly roam over her female curves. "And then what?"

Jennifer reached over to the control panel of the lift and pushed the stop button. "And then, seeing that someone will need that lift soon you have little time, so um, there is very little foreplay involved. Instead you just get down to business, and... and that's a good start."

"Really?" Sirva asked as she slowly moved the hand she had just pushed down Jennifer's pants in a small circle over heated flesh. "You know, I have never been with a woman before, but I do know my own body. And from what I feel you Humans are pretty much just like us Urdians." Her fingers softly squeezed a rapidly hardening bundle of nerves. "Yep, so much alike. So are you Humans just as sensitive here as we Urdians?"

Jennifer could only whimper and surrender to surprisingly experienced fingers. Sirva must have spent quite some evenings alone because apparently she knew her own body so well that the knowledge was more than enough to bring Jennifer close to the edge very fast.

A soft chime sounded, indicated that someone had requested the turbolift, making Jennifer moan in frustration.

Sirva removed her hand and smiled. "Guess we have to wait until we are at your quarters after all."

Jennifer could only try to get her breathing back under control. She had been so close. Only a few more strokes. This woman was truly evil. Perfect, just the way Jennifer wanted them.

"Tasty," Sirva approved as she licked the fingers of her hand while using her other hand to activate the lift again.

"You, you really do like taking charge, don't you?" Jennifer asked as she finally managed to find her voice.

Sirva gave her a superior smirk. "Well, I figure, if I'm going to try something new I want to enjoy all of my fantasies. You have a problem with that?"

"Oh no," Jennifer assured. "As long as you don't let a woman go unsatisfied I'm game."

"Good," Sirva said as the door opened.

An Urdian was waiting on the other side, clearly none too pleased for having to wait. He opened his mouth to say something, but then subsided quickly when he saw the facial tattoo and the clothing that left no doubt that he was face to face with a Clan member. "Excuse me," He mumbled as he walked around them and into the lift.

Jennifer put her arm around Sirva once more before pointing out, "See, these people only see Clan. They don't know that you are part of a dying Clan. Here even the men admire you for being a Clan person. For being what they can't be. Here you could be someone who walks down the corridor and people make room for you. Even when non-Clan members join the House, the fact that you have the tattoo that proved that you were Clan before will forever place you above them. Tell me, just what would you be on your planet? Actually, no, don't tell me. Instead just think about it. Because frankly after that little treat just now I'm horny like hell and I want to get you into bed."

Sirva didn't answer, but she did notice the two Urdians that came walking in their direction. Saw how they focused on her left cheek for a moment. Saw how they moved slightly to the side so that she and Jennifer could walk on unhindered. Respect, for her. People made room, for her. People thought she was important.

Day twenty-one. (Early evening.)

Kinal hadn't used much of her holodeck time yet. She hadn't seen much use for it. The biggest part of the time she had used, had been her contribution to the times where she, Olik, And Celes did something on the holodeck. And now Kinal was glad, because it meant that now she could easily afford the six hours she had taken so that she and Ina could enjoy the holodeck without having to ask for the time every five minutes.

At the moment they were using the program Olik had made of their village so that he could show Celes around. Kinal was sitting on a large flat rock. She had used the real one often in her village. In the midst of the summer when the sun was strong and temperatures unbearably high, most of the younger people from the village liked to swim in the lake; something you wouldn't want to do at other times of the years because the water that fed the lake was a direct runoff from the snow high up in the mountains. The large rock was always used by people to bathe in the sun for a while before taking another cooling swim.

But now Kinal's focus wasn't on how the artificial sun actually did a good job of mimicking the temperature of the real sun in the midst of summer. No, her complete focus was on the woman swimming in that lake. Ina was busy with completing her third trek across the lake. Kinal took in the body of the nude woman and couldn't hold back the little growl of lust and want.

On the ship where they had found Ina, Kinal had said that there wasn't a bit of fat on the woman. It wasn't technically true of course. Ina did have a bit of fat under her skin, but it was so little that you really could see every muscle under that surprisingly flawless skin. Even her behind was incredibly firm, with not too much padding to be found there over the muscles either.

That there were so little flaws to be found on her skin was a result of the healers at the school being second to none, Ina had explained. There was no benefit to leaving scars, so why bother? Scars often prevented calluses from forming, and calluses were something that was definitely wanted.

It was such a contradiction. As a healer, Kinal had fine hands; never having done any physically heavy work, other than often staying awake for several days in a row when taking care of someone. While Ina's hands were rough; she even had calluses on the tops and sides of her hands. And yet, it had been Ina that had been the gentlest the night before. It had been Ina whose touch was so light that it felt like a caress of a feather.

They had made love last night, then next morning, in the afternoon, and Kinal was sure that they would probably end up making love before even leaving the holodeck, and then maybe once they got home again as well. They were new lovers after all.

Olik had been nice and had stayed with Celes the entire day, knowing that Kinal and Ina needed time to get to know each other. Needed time to get rid of the 'wanting to jump your bones' urge.

Kinal smiled. Ina had been hopelessly inexperienced. The woman may have known the very basics from her self-exploration, but that self-exploration had always been done on the fast because Ina had slept in a general sleeping area and the most privacy she could get in a day was under the shower because there, there had at least been single shower stalls. But Kinal hadn't minded the inexperienced fumbling at all. Because as the fact that Ina had made it to Third Square master proved, Ina was a great and very fast study. And even better than that, a study that didn't shy back from trying things. Kinal had a rather broad spectrum of things she liked if she happened to be in the mood, and until now Ina had eagerly gone along with whatever she liked.

She suddenly gasped when cold water was splashed over her warm skin.

"Are you dreaming?" Ina asked with a teasing grin. "You had your eyes open but didn't even see me right in front of you."

Kinal crooked a finger at the standing woman. "Get down here and kiss me."

Ina happily obliged. She slowly moved to lie beside her equally naked lover and then took her time to kiss the healer senseless.

'Oh yeah, definitely a quick study,' Kinal thought as she was treated to a series of kisses that definitely weren't inexperienced fumbles anymore. Once they broke apart, Ina rested her head on Kinal's shoulder and the healer admitted, "Yes, I was dreaming. I was dreaming of your perfect body."

"I'm glad you approve," Ina said amused. "It's good to see that all that training was good for something."

Kinal moved from under her lover and repositioned herself so that she could suck on Ina's nipples. She sucked and nibbled one nipple into hardness while using her hands to get the other nipple just as hard. After a moment she stopped and looked at her handiwork. "There, I love to see you with hard nipples." She squeezed one of the B cup breasts gently before wondering, "What made you decide to get implants?"

"I thought you liked my breasts," Ina asked, a trace of insecurity in her voice.

"Oh I do," Kinal assured. "Perfect size for your body, perfect shape, perfect firmness. There is an advantage to having implants; in these times fake breasts generally look even better than real ones do."

"I think your real ones look better than my fake ones," Ina objected.

"And I disagree," Kinal said amused. "But that's only good; I really should like your body more than my own, and vice versa."

Ina suddenly moved and before Kinal could register the movement she was already covered by the body of her lover. Ina could be so incredibly fast sometimes. Kinal loved it, especially because Ina was not just fast, but also controlled. Sometimes when Ina did a move like that, Kinal didn't even really feel that she was being moved. She just somehow was in a different position all of a sudden.

"And I also like your tattoos," Ina pointed out as she started to place kisses on the tattoo that covered Kinal's left breast.

It was a swirling vine of beautiful and brightly colored flowers that started under the breast and then curved around it from the outside to then move onto the breast from the side, until it finally stopped just above Kinal's nipple; giving the impression that the rosy colored nipple was actually an unopened bud from the colorful vine.

It was one of several of such colorful and elegant tattoos on the healer's body. There was another tattoo on the other breast, though differently shaped and moving up and ending just below the collarbone. There the impression was created that the nipple was the seed from which the beautiful vine had grown.

"What do they mean?" Ina asked. "If I had to guess I would say that it's a variant of the beginning and ending of life kind of thing."

Kinal smiled. "You really are an excellent partner for me, aren't you? You guessed it right on the first go, while some people just couldn't see it even after I explained it. Yeah, the beginning and ending of life is very big with our Clan. Everyone that has more than one tattoo, not counting the facial tattoo of course, probably has some kind of version of the beginning and ending of life. Seeing that I'm a healer I wanted it too, but I wanted something that not everyone has."

Ina moved her thumb over the nipple that was made to look like a seed, making sure it stayed hard. "My guess is that this one symbolizes the beginning, new life growing from a seed." She tweaked the other nipple into staying hard as well. "And this one symbolizes the end of life. But because you didn't want to have a dead flower tattooed on your body you have the end depicted by the 'end' of a vine. Not exactly right since technically at the end there is an new bloom, a new life, but it's good enough for you because you know what you mean it to be. Plus you can still argue that it first, as in the 'end' of the vine is the 'beginning' of a new bloom. I think that the biggest priority of the tattoos was really just to get beautiful tattoos. What was it, a great traveling tattoo artist from a different Clan was visiting and you decided to get the tattoos because he is simply the best and you couldn't let the opportunity pass?"

Kinal gasped in surprise. "The artist was a woman, but for the rest your guess is spot on."

Ina grinned. "Well, observation is part of my training. Being observant means staying alive."

"Says the woman that was tricked into joining the scrapheap from hell," Kinal teased.

"Yeah, well, that doesn't count because it took me a while to figure out how to use my observation abilities in situations that have nothing to do with a fight," Ina defended.

Kinal turned onto her stomach so that her lover could see her back before asking, "And that one?"

Ina looked at the big tattoo on her lover's back for a moment. It covered all of the back from the shapely behind all the way up to the shoulders. It too had the flower vines worked into it, but now the vines swirled over the back to form five different areas that were filled in by images.

"This was done by the same artist, but some time later," Ina finally said. I guess that the flowers on your breasts were done while you were still very young, maybe fourteen? It was at a time that your breasts were still forming."

Kinal twisted a bit once more until she could see Ina's face.

Seeing the totally amazed look, Ina explained, "Those flowers are beautiful, but they are done in such a way that they will stay beautiful no matter how much the, um, canvas grows. When they were made it wasn't clear yet how big your breasts were going to be. That's also why I know that it was an experienced artist instead of just a good one. She knew what to keep in mind. She knew to keep in mind that especially with breasts, you don't have to think of how big they might get, but how they might hang. To be able to look at developing breasts and decide, 'the swell will form into this, the nipple will be about here when the breasts get to the side that they can no longer defy gravity. That kind of stuff."

"Well, I'm glad that they didn't grow too much after that point," Kinal admitted. "I like my size B cup. Just a little bit smaller than yours full B ones. Enough to play with, but small enough to not be in my way when I work."

"I like your breasts as well," Ina assured. Then she touched the first of the five pictures worked into the big tattoo. "And I know that this is more recent because these are obvious important moments in your life. And for that you needed to be a bit older so that five important moments actually did happen. But you also wanted it to look good, and you didn't want images that you could recognize as a certain person on look. For you it was more important to know that the scenes are there."

She tapped the first image gently. "A cowering little girl in the arms of a bigger kid. He is looking over the girl's head at a group of faceless people here at the side. That is Olik and you. And you decided to have your childhood tormentors be faceless because you didn't want to put their faces on your back."

"Olik found me," Kinal said softly. "They had been bugging me, but this time it became more. One of them hit me and the others joined in. It was a game gone bad. Kids being kids... that's what I tell myself now to reconcile myself with the fact that later in life those tormentors became part of my life. They never became my close friends, but I stopped hating them, and I have even slept with the two girls that were in the group later in life. They were hitting me, and then they suddenly stopped. I didn't dare to look up, thinking that they were just waiting for me to look up so that they could hit me in the face. But then I heard one of them start to cry. I couldn't help but look and there the biggest of the bullies was being pummeled senseless by the biggest kid I had ever seen. Olik was so sweet, and to the point. He stepped up to me, took me in his arms, and then told them. 'If any one of you ever touches my sister again, I'll do ten times worse to you.' They never came near me again."

You had never seen Olik before that day?" Ina asked surprised.

Kinal shook her head. "He had just moved to the village the day before. His mother had lost her husband and she was of a Clan where women are shunned if they aren't married, even if the husband died in an accident. Our Clan leader had taken her and Olik in, making Olik's mother his second wife."

Before Ina could ask, Kinal explained. "A technicality. The old Clan laws still exist, even if they aren't used in our Clan anymore. But sometimes they are used to help people. Technically the Clan leader can have three wives. So he made this woman his second wife on paper. In reality, it simply meant that she became part of the household and more of a companion to the real wife. They got along great it seems because they were inseparable since then, well proverbially. Rumor even has it that there was a sexual connection between the women."

"There was?" Ina asked confused. "But you explained this 'attraction thing to me," She smiled shyly, "Though I still think I prefer to say that it was love at first sight for me.

"There wasn't," Kinal assured. "But the thing is, everyone may know how this attraction works, if they grew up normally, um,"

"No offence taken," Ina said amused before her lover could even start to apologize. "I did many things, but grow up normally is not one of them. Go on."

Kinal Took Ina's hand and place a kiss on her knuckles. "Thank you. See, the thing is, we may all know it, if we see something that is not normal, we gossip too. And what it looked like was that the Chief got himself a new wife, so that makes her family, so, you know, one wife having sex with the other while the chief isn't around, well, you know, it would just be some extra fun. Before you start to worry, no that's not how it works. One I'm fully addicted to you, others can't do anything for me. At best I might appreciate some nice curves on a nice body, but that's just looks. It will only be your hands that I want to feel, your lips that I want to kiss."

"But people talk," Ina said with a smile.

"Right," Kinal agreed. "Simple truth is that exactly because there was no sexual tension between the women... the first wife had the chief, the second wife had lost her partner and wasn't looking for a new one... a tight friendship could form. So close that the first wife took the second wife into a hug and held her as the grief of having lost her partner became too much for the second wife. So close that they would call each other endearments. So close that they had no secrets. In other words; so close as fiends can be. It's complicated long story if I have to explain it further, do I?"

"No, not now," Ina assured, but then added, "But another time, yes. I want to know all about you." She looked at the back image once more. "With the other four images I can guess as to what they depict, but I have no reference to bring them into context with you. So why don't you explain them to me instead?"

"I will," Kinal agreed. "But you first answer me my original question. Why did you decide to get implants? I know you told me that you like having boobs, but why get them if you never experienced just how much fun it can be to have someone play with them?"

Ina shrugged. "It's simple really. I wasn't the only woman at the school. I saw others, and not everyone trained as hard as I did. Some did have body fat. I saw those nice swells in clothing, saw them nude when we were changing clothes. Saw that those nice swells looked even better then. And then looked down at my own body and the only thing that showed that I was a woman was that my nipples were bigger than those of the men."

Kinal chuckled. "That was the only difference you saw when looking down?"

Ina rolled her eyes. "You know what I mean. Point is, I had no breasts to speak off, no nice swell. Nothing you could cup. Best you could do with my boobs if cover them with a flat hand. So I talked it over with one of the healers who then contacted a specialist. As I said, they don't cut corners on the medical facilities. If I wanted breasts, I would have them."

"Just like that?" Kinal asked surprised. "They paid for it all?"

"They did." Ina smiled. "But you have to think further. I was one of the people that trained the hardest and taught the best. They didn't want me to get the idea to train a bit less so that I could get body fat. No, they paid for the surgery, all so that I would keep on training. They even paid for a really good expert and not just 'a' expert. He didn't just give me some nice breasts, he also talked me into having what I have now. I first wanted a C cup, but he convinced me that my full B would look better because I have a small and narrow body."

"You have a great body," Kinal disagreed.

"So do you," Ina complimented back. "So, tell me about these other events."

Kinal did so, spending almost an hour to describe the other four important events that had been so important to her that she wanted them reflected on her back. The reason why she decided to become a healer. The first time a patient died. The first baby she saved from dying in the mother's womb. The first time she saw a Starship and knew that it was her future.

Then she touched her own back, more to the side. "Of course, now I have to have it extended and have a scene added here. One where I come across my future wife."

Ina replied by leaning in to kiss the spot. "I really like your tattoos. I think I want one too, to start with."

"If your want you can get a facial tattoo," Kinal reminded. "We may join the House, but you accepted the proposal of a Clan woman. You already became Clan."

"Alright, then I want two tattoos," Ina amended. "My facial tattoo, and something from you."

"Something 'from' me?" Kinal asked confused. "You mean an image of me?"

Ina shook her head. "No, I don't need an image of you on my skin. I remember you without it. And if I ever need a visual reminder, I much rather look at a hologram of you; see you move in 3D. No, what I mean is that I want a tattoo somewhere on my body of which you picked the design and the spot. That would be invaluable for me because then it's not just some image, but then it's you having something in mind and picking something to depict it. Then my tattoo would have a reason."

Kinal was speechless at the sentiment and decided to instead kiss her lover with as much passion as she could. Once they finally broke apart she said slyly, "There is one tattoo left that you didn't comment on yet."

Kinal lay back down on her back and patted the skin just below her bellybutton. "What does this one mean?"

Ina looked at the tattoo for a moment. It was also a flower vine, though this one started out small and got bigger as the vine moved along. It had somewhat the shape of an S, set at a backwards forty-five degree angle. The upper circle of the S shape circled just around the belly button with the very end just dipping into the belly button, while the lower circle of the S circled just above the hood that was protecting Kinal's bundle of nerves. One of the flowers had the coloring and was positioned in such a way that it flowed into the flesh and made the folds of skin from the healer's inner lips look like it was part of the design. And, depending on how creative you wanted to be in your thinking you could of course imagine them as the final flower of the vine.

Ina chuckled. "That is you deciding you wanted a naughty tattoo that fitted with the rest." She placed her index finger in the belly button and then started to trail the vine of flowers. "Your bellybutton is depicting a little well, and from it flowers grow. As they move away from the well they get more and more beautiful."

She softly traced her finger down over her lover's center. "Until we get to the most beautiful flower of all. See how its little bud is growing here? Protected, and so delicate? And then we have its soft and beautiful rosy petals here. And oh, look, the flower is already gleaming with dew."

Lower her finger went until she was circling the healer's opening. She looked up into needy eyes as she slowly pushed her finger in. "And this specific specimen of flower has a nice deep funnel." She slowly started to move her finger in and out. "And this delicate flower is especially known for its wonderful nectar."

Getting no reaction, Ina grinned. "Speechless already? I take it you want me to continue?"

A nod was her only answer.

"And what do you want me to do?"

Kinal hummed her approval of Ina's slow teasing. "You are doing a good job of it already. "Give me slow and extremely gentle. Drive me so wild that I start begging. Make me beg."

Ina grinned. "Oh, I love it when you beg." She removed her finger and positioned herself between her lover's legs. "I think it's time that this little flower gets harvested. Time to collect that nectar."

Kinal hummed again when a by now quite talented tongue started to worship her.

Day twenty-two. (Morning.)

Sirva woke and blinked her eyes in confusion at the strange surroundings. She looked around, trying to recognize where she was. And just when she finally remembered, she saw Jennifer Delany sitting on the edge of the other bed as she was putting her shoes on.

"You are awake," Jennifer stated the obvious.

"And you are dressed," Sirva replied, knowing only too well that she was still naked under the thin blanket that was covering her.

Jennifer came over and kneeled beside the bed. Without hesitation she leaned in and treated the Urdian to a passionate kiss. "I am," She finally admitted a very enjoyable minute or so later. "I have duty today, but I wanted to make you breakfast before heading out. But you woke up before I could."

"We Clan normally get up with the rising sun," Kinal explained. "I, um, was not planning to sleep here."

"I don't mind," Jennifer assured. "It was nice to feel a body beside me while I slept. Once you had fallen asleep last night I didn't have the heart to wake you. You looked so adorable while you were sleeping."

"I'm sure I was a lovely sight while snoring," Sirva disagreed.

Jennifer smiled. "I think you were. It's only a very slight snore. It didn't keep me awake, but it did remind me that I wasn't alone. Besides, both Megan and I snore depending on how we sleep, so it's not something I'm not used to."

Sirva frowned. "I really do snore?"

Jennifer held her thumb and index finger apart a fraction. "Just a teeny bit. I thought it was cute." Then she decided to bring up what needed talking about eventually. "I had fun last night. You were great. I can't believe that I'm the first woman you have ever been with. I have been with lesbian virgins before and they normally hesitate or need a bit convincing. But not you, you..." She smiled. "You were gooood."

"Lesbian virgin?" Sirva repeated confused.

"That's what I call women that say that they are straight, have never been with a woman, but that still want to experiment," Jennifer explained.

"I see," Sirva said as she sat up. "Well, just for the record, I definitely had fun last night as well. Your first statement yesterday was right after all. You really are that good."

Jennifer smiled. "So does that mean I converted you?"

"It means that I won't automatically say no from now on when a woman offers," Sirva said, not directly saying yes or no.

Jennifer laughed. "Well, now that you are awake, why don't you come with me so that I can treat you to that breakfast?"

"Alright," Sirva agreed while she got up.

Jennifer crossed her feet and enjoyed the sight of seeing Sirva start to dress. "You really do look good enough to eat. And I like seeing you get dressed, but I liked it even more to see you getting undressed."

Sirva paused for a moment before continuing to put her top back on. Then she smirked. "As far as I remember you gave in to temptation yesterday and didn't stop with just looking; there was definitely eating involved."

Jennifer laughed as she got up from the bed and treated Sirva to another kiss. "Oh yeah, and it was good too. Even better than chocolate covered cheesecake. You taste good all over."

Sirva chuckled and exchanged another kiss before looking around the room with a frown. "Um, have you seen my underwear?"

Jennifer smirked. "I'm afraid you have to go commando. Your skirt is long enough. Just don't bend over."

"Where did you put my underwear woman?" Sirva demanded. "Don't make me put you over my knee and spank you. No wait, scratch that. You would probably enjoy it."

Jennifer laughed. "Maybe. But your panties are mine. I like to keep a souvenir from my conquests and I don't have any leather ones yet."


Jennifer shook her head. "No, kinky would be if I wore them. I do wash them and then put them in a drawer instead."

Sirva shook her head but didn't ask further. Losing a set of panties was well worth the night she had. "Fine, keep them, it won't be the first time I walk around without panties."

"Oh really?" Jennifer asked as she put her arm through Sirva's and started to walk to the door. "And you could get away with that in your conservative Clan?"

Sirva shrugged. "It's not like people check. But seeing how most of our clothing is leather, I prefer not to wear panties in the midst of summer. Up in the mountains the winters get really cold and the summers get really hot since the great mountain ridges are located pretty much exactly on the equator. So when the hot months come by you take any benefit you can, and I like the breeze."

Jennifer frowned for a moment, trying to reconcile winter with living on the equator. Then she remembered one of the characteristics of the Urdian homeworld. "That's right, your planet travels in an elongated orbit around your star. Hmm, that must make living up in the mountains even more extreme. Summers are hotter than on the low lands while winters are colder. Winters must be a real bitch."

"It can get a bit nippy," Sirva said, making the understatement of the year. She changed her voice, filling it with as much superior attitude as she could, which was actually damn impressive. "But we like to think that it makes us stronger. Only those worthy of being Clan will survive into adulthood." Then she changed voice again and added on an almost conspiratorial tone, "But just between you and me, I'm really glad that thanks to the elliptical orbit of our planet both the coldest and hottest times lasts only a month as the planet reaches the apex of the orbit. For the rest of the year we are in a very nice and predictable pattern where warm is bearable and cold is bearable as well. Just that it gets predictably warmer or colder every month. We even know with how many degrees temperature will change from one moth to the next, give or take a few of course."

They walked down the small corridor and once in the living room Jennifer greeted her sister who was sitting on the couch. "Hey Meg, look who I managed to drag home yesterday."

Megan was dressed in her uniform, but the blanket and pillow were prove that she had slept on the couch. She hadn't been home when Jennifer and Sirva had come in, and after that neither of the two women had been in the living room again until that moment. Only the bedroom and bathroom had been visited.

Sirva actually stopped walking when she saw Megan. She couldn't help but look back and forth between the two sisters. "Gods, you could be clones. I have seen identical twins before when I visited some of the other Clans, but normally you still see some difference."

She focused on Megan's face for a moment before gently taking hold of Jennifer's chin to twist her head a little. "You two even have a little freckle in exactly the same spot here on your chin."

"We like looking alike," Jennifer admitted. "We put some work into it. Cut our hair at the same time and keep it just as long, use the same makeup; things like that."

"Breakfast is under the stasis lids," Megan informed as she stood up. "I took the liberty of making a bit more, seeing that the door was closed."

Sirva look back down the corridor, noticing that the bedroom door hadn't closed after they left.

"That's our highly sophisticated 'I'm not alone' system," Jennifer explained. When it's just Megan and me we never close the bedroom door. So if the door is closed, we know that the other is not alone."

"So you had a fun night?" Megan asked as she preceded them to the kitchen and then added mostly for Sirva's sake, "Please, sit. I'll get everything."

"Oh yeah, we had fun alright," Jennifer assured. "I tell you, Sirva sucks like there is no tomorrow."

"Is that a compliment or insult?" Sirva asked.

"That, my dear, was definitely a compliment," Jennifer assured. "Being good at licking is important, but mostly just a matter of training. But being good at sucking is a whole different matter. Not everyone can form a vacuum like you did." She looked at her sister before adding, "I tell you Meg, once she closed her lips around my clit and started to suck, so much blood rushed to it that I got more sensitive than I can ever remember."

"Really?" Megan asked full of interest. "Any chance of me experiencing that first hand?"

"What?" Sirva asked in disbelief.

"I'm just asking," Megan defended. "I figured that since Jennifer managed to get you into bed, maybe you would be open to sleeping with the other sister as well."

"Megan and I are very close," Jennifer explained. "We don't have secrets, we hardly fight, we agree on most things, and we share everything."

"Everything," Sirva repeated. "Including conquests? You already stole my panties; I have nothing left to give."

Megan giggled. "No, that's a little hobby I don't share with Jen. But we do share the occasional... friend sometimes, if the friend is up for it. Um, share as in taking turns, not at the same time."

"I know what you mean," Sirva assured. "My mother and her sister were also very close. When my mother was still alive, she was closer to her sister than she was to my father. And when my mother died, it was her sister that was the most devastated."

"Yeah well, that's one of the downsides of being Human," Megan explained. "One of the most common fantasies for men, and a lot of women too by the way, is to be with two women at the same time. And an extension of that fantasy is to have sex with a set of twins at the same time. We had to cope all our life with horny fantasies of people that think Jenny and I share the bed every night."

"Interesting," Sirva admitted. "Well, just so that you know, you can stop trying to explain that if you are talking to Urdians. Not that the fantasy doesn't exist here. But with us we... you heard that we mate for life?"

"Yeah," Jennifer said. "Something about some kind of attraction that last for the entire life."

Sirva nodded. "Ah, you know about that. Then I don't have to explain it. Good. Well, it's rare, but sometimes that attraction also forms between siblings. If that happens and the siblings become lovers, they stop referring to each other as siblings but start calling each other partners. So just by saying that you are sisters you are already telling an Urdian that you are not sexually intimate."

"And such relationships are allowed by law?" Jennifer asked surprised.

"What, are you suggesting that we should break up a life bond just because the partners were cursed by having the same parents?" Sirva asked in a tone that made it very clear that such an idea was unacceptable to her. "As I said, it's rare. Normally it doesn't happen because they grew up together and close proximity when growing up somehow prevents bonding. Best lifetime friends also very rarely become lovers for instance. That is actually one way how parents often know that their kids won't be lovers later in life. It they spent all their time together as kids, they rarely bond. But there are exceptions to all. And if siblings bond, they stop being siblings for us and become partners. The only thing that is covered by law is that such partners have to have close medical supervision if they decide to have children so that genetic problems can be taken care of."

"Well, as Jenny just said, we share pretty much everything," Megan noted. "And one of the things we also share is that we feel no sexual attraction for each other. But the emotional attraction is all the greater. Emotionally Jenny and I are so close we often feel like one person, proverbially speaking. So, along that sharing line. How about it? Are you interested in seeing if the other sister is just as good as the first one?"

"Actually, I have things to do," Sirva began.

"Like following Olik," Jennifer interrupted.

Sirva shook her head. "No, like thinking about a few things."

"Aww, surely you can wait a little longer with that," Megan persisted. Once you are gone, Jenny and I will talk all about you, and I want to talk from experience."

"Well, one reason why I agreed to sleep with your sister was so that I could find out what it is like to be with a woman," Sirva noted. "Now I know, so,"

"Ah," Megan said with a grin. "But what if I could make you experience something Jenny didn't? I'm willing to bet that you didn't use any toys."

"Of course we didn't," Jennifer spoke up. "We don't have toys, remember?"

"But we do," Megan disagreed. "After our conversation a few days ago about what we want, I spent some time in the replicator database to see if the Urdians have toys that are better than what the Federation has. I came across something that sounded so wonderful that I just had to replicate it."

"And you didn't tell me about it?" Jennifer asked disapprovingly.

Megan shrugged. "I wanted to play with it a bit so that I could tell you about how it feels. It promises the universe and sounds a bit too good to be true. So I wanted to test it a bit so that I could tell you that it's really worth the rations, or tell you straight up that I messed up. It did cost two weeks' worth of replicator rations, so I knew you would moan."

"Well, what were the specs?" Jennifer asked. "Seeing that you spent one week worth of my rations as well, unless you want to keep it all to yourself, I think I deserve to know."

"It has a 'top of the line' rating," Megan informed. "It's fully usable for self pleasure, but clearly designed to be sued by two women. It is attachable to a woman's body without straps, using the latest nano suction technology. It's full tactile and sensitive functions that can be set from feeling nothing to full feeling. Has an adjustable size. It even makes you feel the body heat. So you don't just feel how the partner feels inside, but even how hot she feels. And it's also heated on the outside too. You can set the outside temperature to mimic a body temperature you prefer, so it feels all the more real."

"I like how hot a man feels inside," Jennifer approved. "It will be cool to feel that with a toy too."

"The only down side to it is the fact that it's an energy burner," Megan warned. "The documentation suggests to put a fresh and fully charged b type energy cell in it before every use. That way you are sure that it will last you a full love session. So if you translate that and twist it, it basically means that they say that you should put a new cell in every time because it uses so much power that a cell might not last two love sessions."

Jennifer shrugged. "Well, energy cells are rechargeable. We just get a few extra b cells. Besides, maybe it's a good thing. At least that way we know for sure to put a freshly charged cell in before we start using it. That way it won't run out of juice in the middle of use."

Megan nodded her agreement. "And you know what I liked the most? What made me decide to get it even if the rest of the claims aren't fully up to par? It has a full auto clean capacity. We will never have to wonder if the other one cleaned it good enough. Once you are done you can simply take it off and put it away. The unit does a complete sterilization cycle when you put it in the box, and that only takes five seconds."

Jennifer had to admit that she was impressed. "So that means that you can also use that to quickly clean during a love session when you want to do something differently. But, we don't know if it lives up to all the promises?"

"We don't," Megan agreed. "Well, I did attach it to see if it truly sticks; which it does. It doesn't come off again unless you push a little button inside the box. I guess you can say that the box is part of the toy. Which is kinda smart if you ask me. A little remote can get lost, but the box the toy comes in will probably be placed in a spot where you can find it again."

"And the sensitivity claim?" Jennifer asked. "I never used a sensitive toy before. Is it really just like real?"

"Like a real what?" Megan asked. "Like a real penis? I don't know; I never had one."

"You are too funny," Jennifer replied, taking the teasing because she realized that she really should have asked that better.

"I don't know, playing with it when it was attached felt different than rubbing myself," Megan said thoughtfully. "It's kinda, kinda weird and you have to get used to the idea, or just not think about it. What I mean is, I don't know how they did it, but you do really feel the entire length somehow. If you run a finger along it, you feel it running the length just like it is a part of you and not just a little clit. I mean, you feel the entire hand around it for instance. In any case, I can assure you that it did feel very nice and I did come while playing with it. But what I really need is a test to feel what it feels like to be inside a woman." She looked at Sirva before asking, "So, what about it? You interested? I don't know what Jenny said that persuaded you to sleep with her, but I'm confident enough to say; what she said."

"I basically told her that I could be her little test project," Jennifer explained. "That I could be her little secret and that nobody on the planet would know. That she could pretend that it never happened."

Megan nodded her head. "Well, like I said; what she said. Only that this time around we have a nice little toy to break in."

"I have been with men," Sirva reminded. "I know what that feels like."

Megan smirked. "Really? But do you also know what it feels like to be on the other side? To be the one that is inside the woman? To feel me all around your length? Because I for one want to experience both; using it, and having it used on me... or should I say in me?"

Sirva pursed her lips and nodded slowly. "You two truly are a lot alike. You both can be very convicting. But your sister lured me in yesterday with chocolate covered cheesecake. Tell you what, if you can beat that I'll show my appreciation in the way you would like for me to show it."

Megan removed one of the stasis lids of the food that still hadn't been touched. "In that case, I think it's a good thing that today I have my day off. I didn't know who Jenny had with her, but I did prepare a bit of a feast nevertheless. This here is cheesy buttermilk scrambled eggs with ham." She lifted the second stasis lid. "And in case you don't like that, I have honey blueberry pancakes here."

"And this is better than chocolate?" Sirva asked as she used her clean fork to take some of the eggs and taste them..

"Well," Megan started, only to be interrupted my Jennifer.

"Look at it this way, Sirva, this is better because it tastes good and this you can eat until you are full without needing to puke."

Sirva chewed the eggs for a moment before nodding. "So, does one just fill her plate here?"

"One does," Jennifer agreed. "We aren't formal. More like politeness rules. Wait until the person that got the food is sitting as well, then dig in, and at the end wait until everyone is finished before getting up."

Sirva nodded her acceptance of this and started to put a good helping of eggs onto her plate. Then she looked at Megan and asked with a small grin. "So who's going to wear that toy first?"

Day twenty-two. (Early afternoon.)

The second shakedown test turned out to be a big success. All ships were reporting good sailing with no real problems. There had been a few issues with some of the Urdian ships, but those had been expected and were the very reason for the shakedown test. It were small things like wire connectors popping loose because someone had not plugged them in good enough, or a sensor giving incorrect data because it hadn't been calibrated correctly. And of course the rupturing of a good number of biological relay units, which was also expected. With the test almost being over, all the flawed relay units had been rooted out, replaced, and now all of them were holding, which meant that they would do so for years to come.

Kathryn had to admit that she was kinda sad that the test was almost over. Somehow it all seemed to go way too smoothly. Then she cringed mentally and cursed herself for thinking that. She waited for ten seconds to see if something would happen and when it didn't she let out the breath she was holding. Apparently Murphy had decided to not come and visit her that day.

Then she thought of something from the last test and asked, "Seven, wasn't there some kind of gravitational eddy around here?"

"Yes Captain. Five light-years from our starboard."

A faint smile came to Kathryn's lips. "Perfect. Let's go do some stress testing. Helm, set a course. Let's say warp nine-point-nine-nine. That'll take us five and a half hours to get there. B'Elanna, let's use that time for some testing. Simulate some emergencies. A hull breach for one."

There was a chorus of 'yes ma'am' as her orders were followed, including the not voiced standard ones. Like the fact that now that they were a Fleet, any time there was a course or speed change and it was not deliberately mentioned that this was only for Voyager, it was Harry's task to also transmit that order to the other ships.

Once the acknowledgements of her orders had died down, Kathryn leaned closer to her wife and said softly, "I wonder how long it will take for me to get used to the fact that I first of all can actually order warp nine-point-nine-nine, and second of all that Voyager can actually fly that for max cruise speed."

"Yeah, I saw you drooling last time when you were testing the engines at the max warp speed of nine-point-nine-nine-nine," Brika agreed with a smile. But she couldn't blame her wife for being excited. She remembered only too well when she had been Captain and given her first starship. And with the modifications to Voyager, it was just like Kathryn had received a whole new ship, just that it still had an old and well-loved character.

"I was not," Kathryn said in fake outrage, before adding, "much."

They smiled at each other and after a moment, Brika pointed at the viewscreen to indicate the general 'out there'. "That's Old Faithfull by the way."

"What?" Kathryn said, turning back from following the pointing finger to looking at her wife.

"The gravitational eddy, we call it Old Faithfull. It's been around forever." Brika frowned before admitting, "Well, not really. It actually popped into existence about two thousand years ago, if my history lessons serve me well."

"Really?" Kathryn asked intrigued. "So why the name? It's more a name I would give to some hot water geyser or something."

"We call it Old Faithfull because you can pretty much set your clock on it," Brika explained. "It moves around in a rough circle of about twenty light-years. Where it pops up next in the circle nobody knows; there is no rhythm to that. But once it pops up it stays in that spot for exactly two-hundred-fifty-seven hours, forty-three minutes, and four seconds, so almost eleven days. Hence Old Faithfull. It's been around for several millennia already, and how long it is in one spot is exactly the same time every time."

"Isn't it dangerous then?" Tom asked. By now everyone knew that the Admiral preferred the informal atmosphere on the bridge that her wife preferred as well. If she was on the bridge at all of course, since Brika only was to be found on the bridge when things might be interesting. But even then she always made it perfectly clear that she was just observing and that Kathryn was the one in command.

"Dangerous?" Brika repeated.

Tom turned around to face her. "Well, I mean, if it jumps around it could jump right into the path of a ship."

"Ah," Brika said in understanding. "It can be dangerously annoying, but that's all. No, it's actually a good spot for Voyager to do some stress testing, like Captain Janeway ordered. It's not that strong that it can destroy a ship, at least not one of ours, nor Voyager now. At the very worst, you can get caught in the event horizon. But even that isn't that bad. It merely means that either another ship has to pull you out, or you are trapped for as long as it takes for Old Faithfull to jump to another place again. It never takes anything trapped with it; kinda like it just stops being and starts being in another place."

She lifted her hands a little. "Of course, there is the chance of secondary problems. Meaning, it's not dangerous itself, but there is the chance that you were for instance just standing on a ladder when the ship is caught and you fall and break your neck when the ship starts shaking like crazy. That's why I said dangerously annoying. Things can always happen, but not counting accidents it's actually pretty harmless. All in all we simply managed to deal with the problem by knowing the timeframe. We know when it will jump, so we don't set warp courses at that time. After that one minute it's safe to travel again for ten days."

"Did your scientists not explore it more?" Seven asked. "I never heard of such an exactly timed gravity anomaly. Though granted, there are enough exactly timed events in the universe; pulsars for one."

"Oh, it was studied alright," Brika assured. "I'm so casual about it exactly because it was studied so much. We wanted to make sure that it was actually safe to keep living on our planet for one thing. But it turns out that it stays well away from everything that has its own decent sized gravitational field. We even managed to steer it a few times in tests by having gravity emitters in space. If it popped into existence close to one of them, it was just like it was pushed away while being formed until there was at least half a light-year between it and the emitter. That's also the closest distance it ever came to our Homeworld. That's how we know that a gravity field three times the size created by one of our ships is pretty much the line where Old Faithfull starts being repelled. Nowadays it only gets studied on occasion by some student that is writing a graduation paper on spatial anomalies."

"And once it is created?" Seven asked. "If gravity fields can then still steer it, we might want to keep the rest of the Fleet back while we test Voyager. Twenty ships emit a decent gravity cloud."

"Once it's created it stays until it jumps again," Brika assured. "Come to think of it, we might have our ships fly through the edges of it as well. A little extra testing is never a waste of time. And to come back to the question of studying it, just to round off the topic. We never were able to exactly discover what powers the event, but we were able to discover that whatever it is, it originates in subspace."

While the conversation had been going on, Seven had been analyzing the data coming in from the long range sensors. She frowned and checked the data again before speaking up. "There is an object located at the center of the event horizon."

"Probably a trapped ship. As you know; we don't mind people passing through our territory and not all of them know about Old Faithful," Brika guessed.

"Then it would be an extremely small ship; mere meters in size, at most," Seven pointed out. "It... it is also not actually located in our space. It is trapped in subspace, just that we can see it through the opening of the event horizon."

"What?" Brika said surprised. She got up and walked over to the console Seven was using and checked the data. She frowned. "Um, that's the same data as always, and I don't see anything about something being trapped." She tapped one of the keys on the screen. "Nor does the computer pick anything up."

Before Seven could start to defend her findings, Kathryn spoke up. "Admiral, you may have computers that are far more advanced than the old ones of Voyager were, but we have learned that Seven's mind surpasses any computer we met to date. It would be wise to check what she's talking about before dismissing it."

"Alright, fair enough," Brika agreed as she walked back to the First Officer's chair that Chakotay had once again vacated, that he by now simply vacated as soon as Brika entered the bridge for longer than a moment. She liked that. And she had a feeling that Chakotay didn't mind it that much either since it meant that he could leave the normally boring bridge without giving reason for absence. "But I tell you, if there is something trapped in there then it's been there from the beginning since the readings never changed."

"Seven, care to tell us how you come to your conclusion?" Kathryn asked.

"Captain, it is true that the Urdian computers are far more advanced than the ones of Voyager were. However, as you know, on Voyager we started to include more and more things over time to scan for because of situations we encountered and did not want to encounter again. While our scanners were less advanced, we did scan for a broader spectrum than the Urdians do."

Kathryn gave a little smirk. "Are you telling me that our common sense ingenuity made up for, and surpassed, advanced technology like the Urdians have?"

Seven frowned before tilting her head slightly and stating, "I would be more inclined to say that Borg technology mixed with Humanoid ability to learn from near misses surpassed Urdian technology, at least on this point. After certain situations the Senior Crew realized that we should do something to prevent the situation from happening again, and then looked at me because they assumed that I could pull another Borg rabbit out of my bio-suit."

When hearing the comment, Kathryn turned to look at the blonde, deciding to ignore the several snickers from around the bridge. "Excuse me?"

Seven opened her mouth to reply but then hesitated before admitting, "I apologize, Captain. That was out of line. I do not know why I said that."

"Because you were thinking it," B'Elanna spoke up. "Captain, it's me that has to apologize here."

"Why, were you talking for her?" Kathryn asked annoyed, but secretly pleased to see that B'Elanna was so eager to protect Seven.

"Um, in a way I guess," B'Elanna said hesitantly. "Captain, for almost a month now I have been encouraging Seven to just be herself. To be what she wants to be, not what we, me included, expect her to be. On top of that, she has a home now. A place where she can talk to her partner, where we talk, joke, argue, have fun, back and forth without weighing every single word. So yes, I do take the blame for Seven talking and saying what she is thinking; and I'm proud of it. It was a... strong... statement, but I disagree with Seven that it was out of line. It was merely unexpected. Had I or Tom said that, the only thing that would have happened at worst is that you would remind us that we are on the bridge and should act like it."

She hesitated for a moment before adding, "And I also think that her statement was not out of line since that's exactly what we have been doing. Whenever we run into something we don't know, we all turn to Seven and ask her if she knows how to deal with it. We always assume she does, and are sometimes even disappointed with her simply because she doesn't know the same thing we don't know. Frankly, we do indeed expect her to pull a rabbit out of her ass... I mean bio-suit... every single day, ma'am."

Kathryn knew that B'Elanna was right, both on how much they relied on Seven, and on what she would let other people get away with. But still, she was the Captain on duty on the bridge; there were standards to keep. "Very well. Seven, I accept your apology. I do encourage you to share your thoughts with us, but I strongly suggest that you watch your language. B'Elanna, since you officially took the blame for this discrepancy it is for you to suffer the consequences. You are hereby on report for improper behavior, and I would strongly suggest that you and Seven sit down and go over the kinds of things you can and cannot say on the bridge."

"Yes ma'am," B'Elanna agreed. She pretty much ignored the 'on report' mentioning since that wouldn't even make it into her file since it was 'report' and not 'written report'. But she felt that Kathryn was right about the fact that she and Seven should work a little on just what kind of things you said out loud on a bridge. Not only for Seven, but also for B'Elanna herself. After all, soon she wasn't just a Lieutenant anymore; she was also going to be the Lord of a House who sometimes really needed to think before talking.

"Seven, please continue with your explanation," Kathryn said to get bridge procedures going again.

"Yes ma'am. You are aware that some of us are building a small starship?"

"I am," Kathryn assured. "And I'm glad that you have the decency to call it a starship instead of pretending that it's a shuttle, like a certain pilot I could mention has been doing."

Tom very wisely decided to study his console and pretend he was deaf for a moment.

"The Friendship Six is too large to qualify as a shuttle," Seven pointed out. "However, in the Starfleet system she does qualify as a small starship. In any case, I have been recalibrating the Urdian sensors used in The Friendship and I have included all the parameters we normally scanned for on Voyager. Since it is the same process I also added those broader spectrums to Voyager's new computer in my free on-duty time. I have however not yet had the time to add the translation algorithms to the computer as well."

B'Elanna couldn't help but grin and then state, "In other words, she is saying that she sees things in the scan results that the computer doesn't understand, yet."

"That is one way of describing it, yes," Seven agreed, giving her be'nal a tolerant smile.

"Alright, then translate for us," Kathryn merely said.

"Yes Captain. My guess is that this object is actually the reason of the event. The gravitational eddy is the result of subspace energy escaping into normal space after it has build up around the object. That would also explain the exact timeframe. It takes that long for the energy to escape into our space before the event collapses in on itself."

"And as soon as it collapses in on itself the new subspace energy builds around the object in mere seconds because it can no longer escape," Kathryn said in understanding. "Until there is enough energy build up to open the event horizon again. And since subspace and normal space aren't always at the same spot, the event horizon seems to jump around all the time."

"Well, unlike Captain Janeway, I did not have a scientific curriculum besides my command training," Brika noted. "So, care to tell me how seconds of energy storage can need days of time to escape?"

"It takes more time to charge than to escape," Seven noted. "However, time passes differently in subspace than it does in normal space. That is why we can use subspace to sent messages so fast that we can have real-time conversations while being light-years apart. It might actually take a year of time to charge, just that to us this is mere seconds. You said that this gravitational eddy came into existence two thousand years ago. I assume that this is when the object became trapped between normal space and subspace."

Seven looked at the scans once more before pointing out, "The fact that it is not located in normal space is also the reason why ships can be trapped in the event without colliding with the object; they are in two different places despite being in the same spot. Since I can only guess about the charge time of the energy and then multiply this with the existence of the event in normal space, I guess that the object in the event horizon has to be between five and ten million years old, calculated to time trapped in subspace. It may have only existed two thousand years ago in our perception, but the object must be from millions of years ago."

"Well, since we are going there, let's check it out a little more," Kathryn decided. "Seven tweak those scanners..." She faltered before adding a bit bemused, "If you can that is. And if you have time, make it possible for the computer to understand the readings. Since we know that there is something trapped in there, maybe we can beam it out." She looked at Brika before pointing out, "If that's possible it would mean that Old Faithfull would cease to exist."

Brika shrugged. "I don't think that anyone will miss it. It's more of a nuisance we learned to live with. But since its a few hours yet since we get there, let me go check in with the Minister of Science; he has the authority to talk for the government on things like that."

A few hours later they were looking in disbelief at the object in the middle of the event horizon. Though hazy because of the fact that they were looking into a subspace breach, all of them were sure that they were looking at a humanoid form. Finally Kathryn decided that someone had to take charge, and since she was the Captain, it better be her.

"Alright, Harry sent a message to the rest of the Fleet. They can commence their testing according to the schedule worked out on our trip here. The only difference is that Voyager will take the last spot. B'Elanna, Seven, while the rest of the Fleet is using the gravitational eddy to do testing, you run every test you can think of to get us more information on... that there."

"Captain, does this mean that you decided to not try and remove the object?" Tuvok asked.

"No," Kathryn disagreed. "It means that Brika told us that this thing should be here for two more days, and that the thing inside there is trapped there for thousands of years. A few more hours won't make a difference. I want to use the event horizon to do some testing in a place where it's still safe, and where we know that the worst that can happen is that we get trapped for a few days. Once the testing is over we will see about getting that thing out of there and having a closer look."

As Harry was sending the orders to the rest of the ship B'Elanna and Seven had a low murmured discussion about which tests to run in what order. Once testing was under way, B'Elanna noted, "That right there is a good example of why we might want to think about building other types of ships."

"Why is that?" Brika asked since this was not part of the order flow on the bridge.

"The talk we had a few days ago about building other types of ships?" B'Elanna reminded. "Now all we can do is beam that thing onto the ship. We had several things before that we brought onto Voyager only to have a hard time getting it off again. And while I don't know what that is, I do know that something that's trapped in subspace for that long, and not destroyed by the energy or the gravitational field, probably won't be very impressed with our hand phasers."

"True," Kathryn agreed. "Tuvok, keep a transporter lock on that thing for as long as we have it on the ship. Any sign of trouble, we beam it back into space."

"Yes ma'am."

Then Kathryn turned back to the Klingon. "B'Elanna, please continue."

"Captain. I was just thinking, it wouldn't be that hard, if we have resources, to build some basic ship; a floating lab if you want. Something that can be stored in one of the hangars of the Urdian ships. Say, five times as big as the Delta Flyer. That's pretty much big enough to house all we ever beamed onto Voyager size wise, and then some. Anyway. We could simply use that new ship to do preliminary tests and have the ship be nothing more than a hull with lab equipment and escape pods; not even an engine other than basic thrusters. So we can use the ship to check stuff out. The more dangerous, the more the other ships stay away during the testing. And if something goes wrong we can use the escape pods to get out of there while we leave the basic ship that is easily rebuilt to just explode or be destroyed or whatever."

"That would also prevent people from taking over Voyager once we beamed them on board," Kathryn said in approval. "A buffer of sorts. After all, if they take over such a basic ship it would mean that they only have access to slower than light speeds and maybe a few escape pods with no propulsion other than steering thrusters. Good idea. We'll work on that."

Kathryn hesitated for a moment, wondering whether she should bring up what was on her mind for the last few days now. Then she shrugged mentally, this was her senior crew, who also happened to be good friends amongst each other. Even if she brought it up in private the rest would know by the end of the day.

"Seven, since you moved to the Engineering department, any idea on a replacement for you?"

"Captain?" Seven asked confused. "I already gave my suggestion of having Jennifer and Megan be in control of Astrometrics, and they have already been promoted to department heads. They are well suited for that position."

Kathryn shook her head. "I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about your unofficial position. You were right before; we always looked at you for solutions to problems. Though we never talked about you having that position, you were basically the unofficial Chief Science Officer of Voyager. While I'm sure that you will still help us out when needed, Voyager has gone through changes and maybe now is a good time to have a person that coordinates the scientific aspects. That oversees the experiments Engineering sometimes does, that receives the information of the Astrometrics department. Things like that."

She hesitated for a moment, thinking how to word her vision. "More a coordinator that lets others do their thing but understands the reports they hand that person and that can then sit in on Senior Staff meetings. We need such a person now more than ever because we also need that person to communicate with their counterparts on the Urdian ships."

Kathryn glanced to her side and saw the outraged look on B'Elanna's face. She lifted a hand to forestall any comment. "Don't burst a blood vain, B'Elanna. I'm not trying to be unfair and hand someone else the position that Seven is best suited for. If Seven wants the job I'm more than willing to have her be our new and official Science Officer. But I know for sure that she won't take it. Because taking it would mean leaving Engineering and basically going back to what she has been doing for the last few years; read reports and surmise them for us. Do you think that she is willing to relinquish the position of being your Second-in-Command? Do you think that she is willing to go back to only reading and writing stuff now that she has found how much she enjoys the physical work Engineering offers her?"

"I would not," Seven spoke up. "However, I can also not point directly at a suitable person. If pressed I could only name Commanders Tuvok and Chakotay, who already have a position in the Senior Staff that takes up all their time. Permission to think about it for some time?"

"Sure," Kathryn assured. "Just let me know the day before we leave on our journey again if you do come up with a suitable candidate. If not, then I'll guess it's up to me to actually do my job and pick someone myself. That way I can make the position official before we move on."

"Alright, so what's the verdict?" Kathryn asked a few hours later, while sitting in the ready room with Brika at her side while facing an equally sitting B'Elanna and Seven. The test of the ships had been done, and Seven had informed her that they had ran every test they could think of on the object in the event horizon. So now it was time for Kathryn to decide what to do with the trapped object.

"The verdict," Seven repeated, "is that the object is a personal protection device; a mix between a hard-shell space suit and a space capsule. It is in a shape of a humanoid body with arms and legs, but it is not moving and seems to have no folding areas in its design."

"A shell," Kathryn repeated. "Maybe some medical unit? Or stasis unit; something to designed to house a humanoid, but keep it immobile at the same time."

"That is a possibility," Seven agreed. "If it is so then I would assume that the object is the result of a ship exploding while being at warp speed. As you know, warp engines of various designs are the most common way of faster than light speeds. Even transwarp engines are still warp engines. However, some species developed a different way of traveling faster than light; they created subspace engines."

"Most species don't go that way because subspace travel is relatively risk full," B'Elanna added. "On every trip there is a one percent chance of the ship being destroyed. And on top of that, a ship is then limited to the maximal speed of travel in subspace, which is basically warp seven."

"A pretty good speed," Kathryn reminded. "And not everyone manages to invent warp travel like we know it. Even the Urdians differ from us. With the Federation and most factions around the Federation, it are dilithium crystals that make faster than light speed possible. Run out of usable dilithium crystals and you are stranded. But the Urdians don't need dilithium since their engines run on dark matter; the most abundant element in the universe. Just that you need advanced technology like the Urdians have to be able to harvest, keep, and then use the element. Every faster than light drive had its own problems."

True," B'Elanna agreed. "In fact, we are going to use a Starfleet design engine in The Friendship because a downside of the Urdian engine design is that you can't make it smaller without losing a lot of power. Just look at their shuttles. They are great for what they are used for, traveling back and forth to a planet, but they can't hold a candle to the Delta Flyer in regards to prolonged space travel. They just have better shields and weapons."

"True, but as for those species that invented subspace travel instead of warp travel that one percent risk on every trip is a risk they are probably willing to take," Kathryn pointed out. "Especially people that are only going to certain locations for only once. Like new settlements, instead of exploring like we do. It can in fact be argued that the one percent risk is ignorable because of the advantage you get from traveling through subspace. If you are in subspace something that is in normal space can't harm, intercept, or board you. Alright, so the chance is that the ship might explode, but you are absolutely certain that you can get past enemies, even the Borg, right?" The last had been asked with a look at Seven.

"Partially," Seven agreed. "The Borg cannot stop a ship traveling in subspace, but they can detect it. And since the maximum speed in subspace is warp seven, the Borg can choose to follow the ship until it stops traveling and falls back into normal space. However, you do have a valid point. Besides the Borg I do not know of any species or group that can detect a ship traveling in subspace; not even the Federation or Urdians can do that."

"Um, excuse me for sounding like a layman here," Brika spoke up, "But what's the difference? As far as I know warp, and even transwarp, also travel through subspace."

"Many people think so, but this is not correct," Seven pointed out. "A warp engine does use subspace, but it does not travel through it. When using a warp drive, a subspace bubble is formed around the ship that distorts the local space-time continuum and because of that the ship moves faster than light. However, it does not travel through that bubble or leave it. Therefore it is not traveling through subspace. To use layman terms, one could say that in normal warp, subspace is merely the knife used to cut space so that the ship can travel through that cut. Which is why you can still see a ship that is traveling at warp. A ship that literally travels through subspace, on the other hand, moves fully into subspace and leaves normal space entirely. Which brings the advantages and disadvantages we just discussed. "

Kathryn nodded her agreement. "Right, but, as far as I remember when a ship explodes in subspace, the debris is normally expelled into normal space by the laws of physics."

"Every law has its exception," B'Elanna reminded. "If you calculate the chance it's probably only something like one in a trillion, but still. If something has exactly the right mix of shape/mass/size/time frequency, then it can get stuck in the opening of the tear that forms to expel it. Kinda like a piece of soap blocking the drain of the bathtub. And that's what we see out there. The 'water' so to speak, is seeping past the soap until there is not enough pressure left anymore. Then the soap blocks the drain fully until there is enough water pressure again to push it a little to the side and let some water escape once more."

"Nice analogy," Brika said amused, knowing that the laymen's terms had been brought up for her benefit. As she said before; she wasn't a scientist. She had been schooled in command, and that also meant finding people to explain things to her and act on that because even the best commander can't know everything. And since that is the case, better stick to knowing one thing; how to get information from others. "Any chance that thing has been placed there deliberately? Maybe someone wanted to get rid of someone and wanted to make sure that they didn't come back. Maybe it's some ancient way of executing prisoners and they simply forgot to come back for the capsule once it was sure that the person inside must be dead from old age if nothing else."

"There is always a chance," Seven noted. "However, it would be a very small one. One would need to be highly intelligent to be able to calculate that exact combination B'Elanna was talking about. So much so that I doubt that even the combined thinking power of all the Urdians rolled into one would be able to do it."

"Were the scanners able to pick up anything from inside?" Kathryn wondered.

"Not really," B'Elanna said. "We are picking up something very regular, some... energy readings I guess. But it's not like there's life signs or like we can scan the inside."

"So we need to beam it onboard and crack the shell, so to speak," Kathryn surmised. "Alright, let's prepare everything to beam it into sickbay; we have the strongest local energy barrier there."

Part 21

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