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 25

Day 25. (Morning.)

The chime kept ringing, making B'Elanna growl in frustration. "It's seven in the fucking morning, on my fucking day off. Someone wants to die."

She got out of bed, only to be surprised by Seven throwing her a bathrobe.

"You might want to cover yourself," Seven said as she herself walked towards the bedroom door. "I have a feeling that this is more than one person."

"What?" B'Elanna asked confused as Seven walked into the walk-in closet and took a fresh bathrobe to put on as well. The chime sounded again, but B'Elanna waited until both of them had their bathrobe closed and tied. "Why do you think that?"

"Because we are not getting married in public this time, since our Oath was most private," Seven merely said.

B'Elanna groaned," Having a feeling that she understood what her be'nal was saying. "Wonderful. But why now, why today?"

"Because we are having a certain ceremony today," Seven reminded. "What other day to pick? This one is special so best use this one."

B'Elanna groaned again. Great. Well, let's get it over with then."

She walked to the door and opened it, not bothering to hide her irritation because if Seven was right, the people on the other side would be glad that they succeeded in annoying her.

"Who wants to die so badly?" She asked as the door was opening, only to reveal a whole group of people. "What the hell?"

The fourteen people pretty much stormed in and almost immediately split into two groups; men and women. For the men there were Tom, Harry, Olik, the Doctor, Chakotay, Tuvok, and Neelix. While on the women side there were Kathryn, Jennifer, Megan, Celes, Q'Vir, Kinal, and Brika.

"Surprise," The group shouted, with the exception of Tuvok who would never shout of course.

It was finally Kathryn that shushed the group into silence before taking the word. "Well ladies. The way we see it, you cheated us with taking that oath of yours. Now we can't throw you bachelors parties, and,"

"And we are already married for a month," B'Elanna interrupted. "Or five months, depending on how you look at it. Kinda late for a party."

"Two parties," Kathryn corrected, not taking the bait. "One for the woman and one for the man."

B'Elanna knew only too well who would be considered the 'man' so she looked down her own body as if pointing out that way that they had one certain detail wrong. "I don't see no man." Then she looked at her male friends before adding somewhat lamely, "Well, um."

Kathryn waved her off. "That's your own fault. You so desperately wanted to be the Lord of the House, so you get to hang with the guys. Suck it up. We have two holodecks waiting. And in a few hours even more people will join us so that we can make these parties to remember."

"Ah, um, that's why we are part of the groups," the Doctor noted as he nodded to Kinal to indicate her as well. "We want to make sure they are parties, but not that when the time comes you are so drunk that you don't remember what to say."

"And here I thought you were here because you were friends," B'Elanna countered, giving up her by now fake outrage.

"Um, well, that too of course," The Doctor stammered.

B'Elanna took a deep and somewhat overdramatic sigh. "Fine, can we at least get dressed?"

"Nope," Q'Vir informed happily. You are perfectly dressed as you are. We have several activities planned and you get dressed accordingly. Now, why don't you kiss goodbye because you won't see each other again until the ceremonies."

"Don't worry," Kathryn assured, "We took over your day, but your ceremonies are still there as planned. After all, we want to make sure you still know what to say."

B'Elanna shook her head and turned to an apparently very amused Seven. She treated her lover to a quick kiss, which only resulted in howls of 'boo' and jabs about not knowing how to kiss.

B'Elanna grinned at her lover, who only raised an eyebrow in challenge. Clearly she was up for a bit more public show of affection. They kissed again, and this time they put all their passion into it. B'Elanna even pushed Seven back until she was only resting in her arms, like B'Elanna had seen it done in some of those old movies Tom had played on his TV.

The reaction was definitely different this time. There were wolf-whistles, some comments that B'Elanna didn't understand because she was too busy, and some comments she did understand, like the ones about getting a bucket of water to separate them. Finally they broke apart and B'Elanna looked at her friends with a wide grin. "We like to behave in public, but don't think we don't know how to play."

There were cheers again and then the two women were led out of their quarters.

The day had definitely been fun. From seven in the morning until three in the afternoon there had been activities. Of course all tinted with a Klingon flair since all of this was about them setting up a Klingon House. But luckily their friends had refrained from the less fun things like the pain sticks and having to prove themselves worthy. Their friends figured that the time in the Delta Quadrant had well taken care of them suffering pain and having to prove their worth. Why do it on a day of festivities as well?

But the activities for Seven and B'Elanna definitely had different tints. Where B'Elanna had enjoyed activities like being at a holographic recreation of some great twenty rounds fight match, as spectators of course, and then had enjoyed some friendly games with her friends, like a shooting contest to see who was the best phaser shot. Seven had been pampered in a way the former Borg drone would have considered irrelevant not too long ago, but now absolutely loved.

There had been a spa involved. And a massage, at which Seven could proudly proclaim that her be'nal's massages were even better. There had been food and drinks. There had been some games as well, but these were more geared towards puzzles since Seven loved those so much. But to make sure her friends were involved as well, they had been the kind of games you played with a group.

Well, there had been that one wonderful game of speed chess with Q'Vir which had lasted half an hour, but in which there had been so many moves as there probably would have been in a three day match when using normal rules. It had been fun.

And after that, from three until six in the afternoon there had been the parties. They had been set up in such a way that people could visit both so that friends could be at both parties. But despite the now mixing groups of friends, their friends had made sure that there had always been a group around the women. That way they didn't really notice when someone left to go visit the other holodeck, but they sure noticed when someone that was spending most of the time with her Mate came by for half an hour of spending time with her.

All in all Seven and B'Elanna had a total blast. And thanks to their doctor friends keeping an eye on the amount of alcohol consumed, both of them were still of very clear mind when finally the first ceremony started.

It was a relatively simple affair. Held in one of the smaller meeting places on The Glory. With only friends and good acquaintances present, there was a group of almost a hundred people; more than enough for this first ceremony.

B'Elanna was dressed in her Starfleet uniform, and Seven in one of her bio-suits as they stood in front of Kathryn and Brika. Technically only Brika had to be there, as the representative of the Urdian government, but because both Seven and B'Elanna considered themselves Starfleet... or at least enough to be loyal to the ideals and beliefs... they also wanted Kathryn there so that she, as a Starfleet captain, could register their choice and log it in the official files. Plus, considering that Kathryn would only be a main witness in the ceremony that was coming after this one, they wanted her to be an active part in at least one of the ceremonies.

"As we stand here," Brika continued, "The time has come for you to make your choice official. Seven, B'Elanna, my government offered you both the one-time option of dissolving your marriage. You had to stay married for twenty-five days before you could choose to dissolve your marriage. Today is that twenty-fifth day, and today you have to make the choice that will be for the rest of your live."

She looked at Seven before asking, "Seven of Nine, in name of my government I now offer you the option of having your marriage with B'Elanna Torres dissolved. What is your answer, will you take that offer?"

"I will not," Seven stated clearly.

"You do realize that by refusing this one chance to end your marriage, you will as of now be considered married under Urdian law until death does you part?"

"I understand," Seven assured. "And I choose to stay married to the woman I love more than my own life."

Brika smiled at the added words. "Then your choice is registered."

Then she turned to B'Elanna and repeated the same words, only changing the name of course. "B'Elanna Torres, in name of my government I now offer you the option of having your marriage with Seven of Nine dissolved. What is your answer, will you take that offer?"

"Not even under threat of death," B'Elanna said boldly before adding, since she knew that the ceremony demanded a clear yes or no, "No, I won't take the offer of being separated from my be'nal."

"Very colorful said," Brika said amused. Then she asked, since it was demanded, "You do realize that by refusing this one chance to end your marriage, you will as of now be considered married under Urdian law until death does you part?"

"I understand," B'Elanna said clearly. "But luckily my be'nal and I also took the Oath. So while your marriage only covers the time until one of us dies, we are also ensured an eternity together in the afterlife."

Brika nodded her head. "Then it is so noted that B'Elanna Torres and Seven of Nine have chosen to stay married under Urdian law. May their lives together be blessed and happy."

A cheer went up, only to become even louder when they kissed, which was not demanded by the ceremony. Then B'Elanna looked at Kathryn. "Captain, I hereby would like to officially report that Seven and I have taken the Oath under Klingon tradition. We would as of today like to be registered as married and guardians of each other's Honor."

"It is so registered," Kathryn assured. Though she obviously knew about the women standing before her having taken the Oath, under Klingon tradition it was up to individuals to decide if they wanted it on record that they weren't just married, but had also taken the Oath. Until this moment B'Elanna and Seven hadn't made that part official until now.

Then B'Elanna turned and addressed the crowd. She held up the hands she and Seven had linked right after kissing. "Today I introduce to you all my be'nal, Seven of Nine. May you all take notice that I will defend her honor with my blade. That I will demand retribution of all that dare to insult my be'nal. And that I will guard her life with my own and hunt everyone down that dares to hurt her."

The crowd cheered again and then it was Seven's turn to speak. "My be'nal just offered you the wedding claim. Though I have decided to embrace Klingon tradition, I will not bother with speaking the same claim. As you all know, I once was Borg. The Borg have a saying; resistance is futile. Know this, if anyone ever hurts my be'nal they will find out what a pissed off former Borg drone is capable of. Believe me; resistance 'is' futile."

Yet another cheer went up and they sealed their promises with another passionate kiss. Then they walked down the steps of the dais the ceremony had been performed on and walked down the hall while friends patted their backs and whished them luck as they walked passed. In one hour's time there would be the next ceremony, but for now they would retreat to a room where they could spend the next half hour in private. After that they would be separated once again and dress for the next ceremony.

The second ceremony compared in no way to the first, other than the fact that once again B'Elanna and Seven would face a person to let a choice be registered.

This time they were in The Glory's theater; the biggest open room without supports in the ship. It was designed with basic holo-technology, though nowhere as advanced as an actual holodeck. Just enough to create a stage of whatever size and shape in whatever place that was needed, and to add stadium seating at whatever angle desired if needed for an event.

The stadium seating had been activated so that people could be seated, but the setting had been level instead of on an incline so that the floor was still flat. But a podium had been created so that the seated people could still see what was going on. This had been done because this time more people would join in the ceremony, and there it was much more impressive if you could clearly see them walk up the podium.

Holographic Klingon banners were being portrayed on the walls, with the wall behind the podium proudly portraying the banner with the symbol of the new House; the bat'leth held up in a fist with extended assimilation tubes. As B'Elanna had expected, the tubes weren't really visible when the seal was small, like on the screen of a PADD. But with the huge ten meter big image on the even bigger banner, the lines were clear to see, and everyone that knew Seven also knew that it was her hand.

The lighting had been set low and had a clear red tint to it, giving the preferred idea of being in a large and old Klingon temple made of old light absorbing stone. But the rest of the decorations, like the path of torches to the podium, were real since the smoke only added to the atmosphere.

A soft and slow drum was heard, almost as if it were a heartbeat. On the podium the Klingon priestess was waiting. At first B'Elanna and Seven thought that they had to use a hologram for that, but it turned out that their new friend was much more suited. Q'Vir had been a Klingon priestess once in a former life, as she liked to call the lifetimes lived at different places. And while it had only been a low-key affair as she got a taste of 'real life' between being things like a goddess and an empress, she still knew how to portray the Klingon attitude and how to say things so that it sounded impressive instead of just speaking a clearly just learned text.

Q'Vir had dressed in the simple dark-blue robes of a priestess for the occasion, knowing only too well that on this day she shouldn't look impressive; today she should look plain compared to the women that would soon stand in front of her.

When it was time the beat of the drum changed, becoming a bit louder and faster. As one, all two thousand people in the crowd turned to look at the entrance. As was tradition, B'Elanna walked in first since she would be the Lord of the House.

A mumble went through the crowd as more and more people saw her. Seeing that she was going to be the Lord of the House, B'Elanna had chosen to dress in a full ceremonial Klingon battle uniform. Unlike normal battle uniforms that covered all of the chest, the ceremonial uniform had the diamond shaped cutout on the front that proudly showed off the valley of her breasts.

Of course, everyone knew that the reason why this cutout was so favored with Klingon women was to show at least some sexy temptation and allure with the otherwise full body covering uniforms. But the reason the Klingon women liked to say out loud was that the female warriors were so fears that they needed to have a weak spot in their uniforms so that an opponent at least had some chance of winning. And that this was the only reason why they left their heart unprotected.

Whatever the real reason, B'Elanna walked proud in her uniform. The metal parts had been buffed to a shine, while the fabric parts were of such a delicate fabric that they sometimes reflected the light. The overall color of the uniform was gray, because of all the metal, but green accents had been added. The fabric you did see, the metal covers on the edges so that the metal plates didn't bite into the skin. The color green had been deliberate. Since Seven still saw herself as Borg, and wanted a reminder of that in the House, and since B'Elanna liked the color, though it wasn't her favorite color, they had decided that green would be the color of the House.

She walked up the stairs of the podium until she stood in front of Q'Vir. They looked at each other for a moment before Q'Vir gave her a wink.

"Warrior," Q'Vir opened with a loud voice, speaking in flawless high-Klingonese, the official language throughout the Klingon Empire; though it was hardly spoken these days by the common people that instead preferred to speak one of the eight simplified Klingon dialects. Not that it would matter much since everyone in the room still had their universal translator translating it to the language they preferred. Still, it just seemed wrong to do a Klingon ceremony in any other language than Klingon. "Word has reached me that you want to renounce your House, your heritage. What kind of vermin are you that you want to renounce your House? Are you that ashamed of what you are?"

As tradition demanded, and because Q'Vir had very excellently made her words sound like an insult, B'Elanna placed her hand on her d'k tahg. "Watch your words, priestess. I am proud of the House L'Naan and I wish them a glorious future."

"Really, then why are you here?" Q'Vir asked in the perfect drawn out Klingon way of curiosity.

"Because I have found my perfect Mate. And while we both respect the House of L'Naan, we feel that our fate demands that we start our own House."

"One doesn't just give up their House because they met someone; your Mate should join the House of L'Naan," Q'Vir noted. This wasn't part of the text they had practiced, but she wanted to see how B'Elanna would react. Plus it was fun to make things a bit hard for the Klingon. After all, a priestess on Qo'noS would be a lot harder on her.

B'Elanna hesitated for a moment, narrowing her eyes at her friend, who only grinned in reply. Then she rallied to the challenge. "Normally, yes. But my Mate comes from a much bigger House than mine. And while I would gladly join her House so that we can be together, they would never allow it for they don't believe in such a thing as having a true Mate. And they have other plans for her."

"Nice save," Q'Vir approved softly. Then she said louder so that the crowd could hear her, "We Klingons live for battle, but we fight for what we love. For did not Lord Kahless himself give up his House so that he could wed Lady Lukara? Lady Lukara's father had said in front of the entire village, 'I will not allow my daughter to marry anyone that is a member of that House'. Not wanting to kill his love's father in the process of gaining her hand, Lord Kahless said, 'Then I renounce my House, for Lukara means more to me even than my House's history'. Never having expected this proud Warrior to give up his House, now the plan of Lady Lukara's father turned against him. For now the entire village had been witness to the fact that his one objection to the bonding had been addressed."

Q'Vir held out her hand. "The d'k tahg is a Warrior's most sacred possession, for it is her blade of Honor, and proof of to what House she belongs. Since you are renouncing the House of L'Naan, you no longer have the right to carry anything that holds their seal. Hand me your blade."

B'Elanna did so, handing the knife to Q'Vir blade first. After all, no Klingon would turn a blade towards themselves.

Q'Vir held the blade high for all to see. Then she broke the blade off at the hilt, making a chill run down B'Elanna's spine.

This for two reasons. First because she had just seen one of the most important things in her life destroyed, something that had been handed to her by her mother just before leaving for the Academy. But the second reason was for something else entirely. B'Elanna knew just how tough those blades were. They were the Klingon blade of Honor, the thing used in real close quarters fighting; meant to be used. Though not made of duranium, they were made of a metal almost just as strong. And Q'Vir had just snapped it between her hands as if it had been made from brittle wood.

"Remind me to never pick a fight with you," B'Elanna mumbled.

Q'Vir grinned again before gesturing to her left. "Step aside."

B'Elanna did so and the drums that had died off as they had been talking started up again. Moments later Seven started to walk down the path of torches. Since she had decided to fully embrace her position as Lady of the House she wasn't wearing a uniform. Instead she was dressed in Klingon gala dress. The back of which was so long that it dragged a meter over the floor behind her. It was red of course, since that was the Klingon color of Honor, and considering how their house was to be called, she had found it the perfect color.

Where B'Elanna had a diamond shaped cutout at the front, Seven's dress was a lot more daring. Just inside the lines of decency actually, and even there it depended on just who was making the decision of decency. But for Federation and Klingon standard it was considered decent, just. Mainly because her nipples were covered. The cutout in Seven's dress was formed as a triangle, with the third point pointing up. The fabric ended in a collar design around her neck, and then opened up until at the bottom more than half of Seven's breasts could be seen because the triangle only closed under that line.

People that had seen Seven in a bikini had technically seen more of her because then you could see some on both sides of the fabric. But because of the cut this definitely looked a lot more daring, and alluring. And for those that had secretly wondered in their dreams, it showed that despite their ample size, Seven's breasts were definitely firm enough to give an impressive swell to the dress without the aid of a bra.

"You're a tease," Q'Vir said softly once Seven had joined them on the podium.

"I wanted to make the experience of seeing me walking down the aisle something my be'nal would never forget," Seven explained, her eyes firmly on the Klingon. "What the rest thinks does not matter."

"Much," B'Elanna added before releasing the approving growl that had wanted to escape ever since she had seen Seven stand at the door.

"Much," Seven repeated with a small smile as a chuckle went through the crowd. Because they weren't using microphones, since it was a Klingon ceremony, the others in the room hadn't heard their softly spoken words, but they sure had heard B'Elanna's growl of approval. They couldn't blame her, since more than one of them wanted to do the same.

Deciding that it was time to get the ceremony going again, Q'Vir raised her voice. "Seven of Nine, my good friend. This person here just made the despicable claim that she had to renounce her House because her fate demanded that she had to start a House with you. A new House because your House would never accept her. Surely that is utter nonsense?"

Seven looked surprised at Q'Vir for a moment before looking just as surprised at B'Elanna.

"She improvised," B'Elanna mumbled, "so I had to improvise as well."

"I see," Seven said softly before rising to the occasion. She had a feeling that she knew what 'House' B'Elanna had meant when she had talked about Seven's House. She straightened up as much as she could, which was unfortunately not that impressive because Seven always walked straight regardless, and lifted her head proudly. "Are you calling my be'nal a liar, priestess? Know that we have taken the Oath, and I will not hesitate to revenge her honor."

"An exaggeration then," Q'Vir amended, still perfect in her role as Klingon priestess. A Klingon would never have apologized for having used the words, but as priestess Q'Vir would try to prevent a fight if possible. So an amendment was a perfect middle way since it would be seen as an apology without using the words.

"It is not," Seven assured. "My House would rather kill her than see us together. And I agree that it is our fate that decided that we should start our own House. It was fate that stranded us on Urdia Genera and made us fall in love. It was once again fate that then made sure that we could not remember our time there, yet still had to deal with the consequences. And it was fate that made us fall in love once again and made us realize that we had to start our own House to properly reflect what we are to each other. So yes, my be'nal is correct. Fate decides that we start our new House, for both our Houses do not fully represent our believes."

Q'Vir nodded slowly, as if weighing each word. "When Lord Kahless renounced his House so that he could marry Lady Lukara, her father was outraged, yet realized that now there was nothing left that he could do. Having accepted that, he also realized that this meant that now the best warrior that ever lived would become part of his House. He could already smell the glory it would bring. But then, having heard what her Mate was willing to sacrifice for her, Lady Lukara turned to her father and said, 'you forced my Mate to renounce his House. I will not be part of a House that forces a proud warrior to do such a thing. Know that as of today so will I renounce my house so that my Mate and I can start our own House on equal footing'."

Q'Vir let her eyes drift across the room before adding. "And so it was decided and still is today. Every House needs a Lord and a Lady. Though they have different tasks to fulfill, both are needed to make a House. For what is a House without the Lord to protect it? For what is a House without the Lady to give it strength? Seven of Nine, give me your d'k tahg."

"I cannot," Seven said. "My House does not believe that a blade can carry honor. To my House honor is irrelevant. I do not have a d'k tahg."

Q'Vir snorted. "Honor irrelevant? No wonder you want to leave the House."

"While I disagree with a lot of what my House does, I am not renouncing it," Seven noted. "I am, and will always be, Borg. However, the traditions of my House do not object to me starting my own House while still considering my old House part of me."

"Good compromise," Q'Vir approved softly.

"I am Borg," Seven said amused.

"Still," Q'Vir said louder, "Even if you don't renounce your House, we still need proof of your willingness to break with it if needed. Proof that your new House will always come first. Luckily for you, a friend of yours thought further ahead than you."

Q'Vir took something of the pedestal to her side, where she had also put B'Elanna's broken d'k tahg. She held it up for the crowd to see, and Seven realized that it was one of her old implants. Though overall Seven was glad that most of her implants had been removed, there were a few that she missed. If for nothing more than the fact that they made some tasks easier to do. Seven realized that this was one of those implants.

"My energy backup adapter," Seven said softly, her eyes getting a little wider. The implant made it possible for Seven to tap into an energy reserve and put the rest of her implants in overdrive for a few minutes. It was only for five minutes at most because longer use at those levels would start damaging implants. But still, with the implant Seven could be six times as strong as a regular Human in case of emergencies.

The Doctor had originally left the implant, but eventually had to take it out because it was acting up on a regular basis. He had repaired it, but when he wanted to put it back in Seven's body, the Captain had refused. Reasoning that Seven functioned perfectly fine without it and Starfleet was not in the habit of putting implants in people just because they could. As long as Seven's life wasn't in danger because of the missing implant, it wouldn't be put back in.

Seven had tried to argue that her life wouldn't be in danger until the moment she needed the implant to save her life and couldn't, but the Captain had refused that reasoning. Bluntly stating, 'the Federation does have the technology to put implants in people to make them better. Heart, hormone regulators, parts of the brain, artificial eyes. You name it Seven, we 'can' do it. But we don't. Why? Because we aren't the Borg.'

Q'Vir gave Seven a little smile, understanding only too well what the former drone must be thinking. "It must hurt a little bit to see it destroyed, Seven. Just look at it this way, there is no way you would get that back in your body... unless you were to go back to the Borg. Are you planning to do that?"

"No," Seven said decisively, knowing that her friend was right.

Q'Vir broke the implant in half before saying softly. I guess that from now on the fact that you are 'only' twice as strong as the average Human has to be enough."

"I guess it has to," Seven said, managing a smile.

Q'Vir gestured to her side where B'Elanna wasn't standing before saying, "Step aside." Then she raised her voice once more. "It has been noted that both B'Elanna Torres and Seven of Nine have a proper reason to start their own House. Is there anyone here that wants to challenge that claim?"

She lifted her hands even as she was speaking, "Before anyone thinks it is funny to cause some trouble, know that this 'is' a Klingon ceremony. That means that any objection will be seen as a challenge, which can be addressed with a fight to the death. Now, are there objections?"

Q'Vir waited for a full minute before speaking up again. "It is so noted that there were no objections. Standard rules for later objections still stand of course. But for those to have any weight they have to be brought forth in front of the Klingon High council, who then has to deem the claim worthy."

She gestured to two places in front of her, which were quickly filled by Seven and B'Elanna. "Since you are starting a new House, tell us its name so that all can hear it, and tell us who you are."

It was B'Elanna who spoke first. She turned so that she was facing Seven, but this time it was done so that she was also partially facing the crowd, while at the same time not showing the priestess the disrespect of turning her back on her. Then B'Elanna said as loud as she could without actually screaming. "I am B'Elanna Torres. As of today I am Lord Torres of the House of BortaS."

"And you, friend Seven," Q'Vir prompted.

Seven turned as well and said just as loud for all to hear, "I am Seven of Nine. As of today I am Lady Seven of the House of BortaS."

"It is so noted," Q'Vir said. The statements had been more than just saying the name of the House, which anyone would have known already anyway. It was also an official statement that would go into the records as to just how the leaders of the House wanted to be addressed officially. B'Elanna could have chosen her first name, and Seven could have chosen her second designation. Or they could have picked only 'Lord and Lady'. But the bold statement of the name made it known for all how to address them, unless they gave permission to people to do so otherwise in informal conditions.

And because B'Elanna and Seven knew that only too well, B'Elanna added, "But let it also be known that people can address us by our old names if it is about things that have nothing to do with the House. The last thing I need is for my engineers to start calling me Lord Torres in Engineering."

"It is so noted," Q'Vir assured before adding, "Lord Torres."

Knowing that the ceremony wasn't over yet, the two women once more turned to their friend and former Q.

Now Q'Vir lifted the pedestal and put it in front of her. Besides the items she had broken, it also held two fully intact d'k tahg knives and a bowl. The bowl was larger than B'Elanna had expected. But then she commended her friend for her foresight. Soon the blood of two thousand people would drip into that bowl. And even if it were only a few drops per time, that would still end up a lot more than could fit into the traditional size cup. B'Elanna liked it, for it would make a nice decoration to their Home; impressing by the sheer size that had been needed.

Q'Vir took the two d'k tahgs and held them high for all to see. Then she handed one to B'Elanna, hilt first because even though Klingons normally would never hold the blade towards themselves, it would also not do to 'threaten' a new Lord of a House by aiming a blade at her. A priestess was one of the few occupations that could hand someone a knife with the blade towards themselves without losing honor in the process.

"Lord Torres," Q'Vir said loudly, "Here is your d'k tahg. As you can see the seal of your House has been engraved on the hilt close to the blade, as normal. Since you are the Lord of the House, this blade doesn't just carry your Honor, but also that of the House. Do you swear to protect your House's honor like it was your own?"

"I swear," B'Elanna said as she took her blade. She took a deep breath before pulling the blade over the palm of her other hand, quite proud of herself because she managed to do so without flinching. Since she was the Lord of the House, B'Elanna had known that her cut had to be deep enough to produce more than just a few drops of blood. So as the blood flowed off her hand in a small continuous trickle she said, "I hereby swear to give my blood for my House. To protect it to my last breath. To face any threat with my head held high and courage running through my veins. So help me Kahless himself."

Q'Vir handed her a rag to stop the bleeding. A little later the Doctor would seal the wound with a dermal regenerator, as he would do for everyone in the room. But for now it would simply not do to show the proud Lord of the House needing treatment while in the process of establishing the House.

Once B'Elanna had taken a step back, Q'Vir gave the second d'k tahg to Seven and repeated the words she had said to B'Elanna. "Lady Seven. Here is your d'k tahg. As you can see the seal of your House has been engraved on the hilt close to the blade, as normal. Since you are the Lady of the House, this blade doesn't just carry your Honor, but also that of the House. Do you swear to protect your House's honor like it was your own?"

"I will," Seven assured. She then took the blade in her Borg enhanced hand before using it to cut her normal hand. As her blood was flowing into the bowl just as richly as B'Elanna's had, Seven said, "I hereby swear to give my blood for my House. To protect it to my last breath. To give it the strength of a Matriarch. To make sure that the House spirit will always live strong and true. To make sure that this House will never waver in its commitment, and will always value each member as a child of the House. So help me Lady Lukara herself."

Q'Vir took the blade and put it back on the pedestal after having disinfected it in a liquid disinfectant bath, something the Doctor had insisted on since the two blades would be used to cut everyone that would join in the first wave. After that, when people joined just to join the House, any knife would do as long as blood flowed. But the first wave, those that would be the elders, or that would hold important positions right under the elders, those would not just give their blood to join the house, but would do it with the blades that held the essence of the House; the blades of the Lord and the Lady.

Luckily it wouldn't be a contest to see how many people would use the blade of the Lord or the Lady, since it was determined by tradition what blade you needed to use. Depending on your position in the House, you were considered more affiliated with the Lord or the Lady and had to use that blade.

Olik as Marine Commander would use B'Elanna's blade, but Kinal has the House physician would use Seven's blade. Tuvok as Internal Affairs would actually use Seven's blade. The reasoning being that Marines faced all threats coming from outside and therefore fell under the Lord since outside relations were the task of the Lord. But it was the task of Internal Affairs to deal with anything that happened inside the House, like a fight between two House members. And since this was considered inside the House, it was the Lady who had to deal with it.

Kathryn on the other hand would use B'Elanna's blade. Even though her bond to Seven was strong as an adopted sister, her task as House Justice was more important. And since a House Justice had to deal with both internal and external affairs, it fell under the domain of the Lord.

Q'Vir gestured to Seven and B'Elanna to step away from the pedestal so that they could be witness to what was coming next, but wouldn't be in the way. Then she addressed the crowd. "Hear ye all, the House of BortaS has been created. Does anyone want to join the House? Living under its rules? Accepting the Lord and Lady as the ultimate powers in the House?"

"I do," Kathryn spoke up first, as had been agreed upon.

"Come closer," Q'Vir said as Kathryn was already moving towards the stairs. As she had joined them on the podium, Q'Vir asked, "Why do you think you would be suited to join the House?"

"Because I consider Lady Seven my, um, younger sister. Since I don't belong to a House, I would like to join hers. I have had many years of command experience and have a belief of right and wrong that the Lord and the Lady agree with, mostly. As such I would like to offer my services to the House in the form of being the House Justice."

Q'Vir gave a little nod to Seven since from now on Q'Vir in her role as priestess might ask questions, but it was up to the Lord and Lady to decide if people could join.

"I Welcome you into my House with open arms, my sister," Seven greeted.

Then B'Elanna offered Kathryn her knife with a little grin. "And we feel that you would do well in the position you suggested. Do you swear on my blade to serve the House and uphold its honor?"

"I do," Kathryn assured before slicing the palm of her hand, of course not giving B'Elanna the satisfaction of flinching.

B'Elanna waited until a few drops of blood had fallen into the bowl. "Then I welcome you into my House."

She nodded to Tom who had quietly joined them on the podium. Tom pulled a satin sheet off what had looked to be just decoration, but turned out to be a box big enough to hold a grown person.

Then B'Elanna addressed the crowd. "We didn't tell you this because Seven and I wanted it to be a bit of a surprise. But it is tradition with Klingons that all House members carry a d'k tahg with the shield of the House. All House members will get such an Honored blade. But I ask you all to remember one of the conditions we all set forth for every House member; we will live by Fleet rules. Check your regulations if you are allowed to carry it with you on and/or off duty on your ship. Otherwise, give this blade a place of honor in your home."

Tom took a smaller box out of the big box and handed it to B'Elanna who handed it to Kathryn. Kathryn couldn't help but notice her name on the box and wondered why. All the d'k tahgs would look the same, why worry about making sure that someone got exactly this or that blade? Then B'Elanna opened the box and Kathryn understood. The d'k tahg looked pretty ordinary, which was expected since tradition demanded how it looked.

A spiked pummel of which the small spikes were dull enough that you could rest your hand on the hilt, but yet pointy enough to do some real damage if you hit someone on the head or in the face with it in a fight. The rest of the hilt was just boring brown with a few circular ridges to improve grip. Close to the blade there were two seals on the hilt; one on each side. Kathryn knew that besides holding the seal of the House, these were also the buttons that released the two side prongs to turn the blade into the three pronged blade that everyone had heard off. Normally the blade would then once again be of regular gray metal. But this blade had Klingon writing engraved on it. Kathryn knew a bit Klingon and managed to translate 'something of the House of something'.

"Justice of the House of BortaS?" she guessed.

"Correct," Seven agreed before turning a blade over and showing another engraving and translating right away, "Elder."

Kathryn grinned. "So much for ever being promoted."

"There is no shame in getting a new d'k tahg if it is given directly by the Lord or Lady," Q'Vir said before B'Elanna or Seven could reply. "Please, do move on, it will be a long afternoon as it is, with two thousand people joining in the first wave alone."

"Right," Kathryn agreed. She looked at B'Elanna and Seven in turn before greeting a last time, "My Lord, my Lady."

Then she stepped away and Q'Vir asked again if anyone wanted to join the House. As the next person spoke up and moved up the stairs, the Doctor who had also joined them more to the back of the podium took care of Kathryn's wound. And as the next person pleaded their reason to join he quietly took care of Seven's hand. And by the next person he took care of B'Elanna's hand.

One by one the people that would be the Elders of the House came up to the podium, pleaded their case, joined, had their hand taken care of, and then went back to their seat. When it was the turn of the Doctor he did as predicted and made his matrix create a small cut and the illusion of flowing blood. But what had been unexpected was him pointing out that his blood couldn't join that of the others, so instead he put a special data crystal in the blood. It had a copy of his base programming on it, and was designed to fully dissolve into the blood within a few minutes. Thus, he reasoned, his essence had joined that of the others. B'Elanna and Seven agreed.

But the biggest surprise they got when it was Q'Vir's turn to join, having just pleaded her case for being an Elder and the House Chief Scientist. "Since I had to use the inside of my hands to break stuff," Q'Vir said," I hope you don't mind that I left that indestructible and opted for the other side of my hand."

She cut herself on top of the hand and to everyone's amazement there actually was a cut that also started to bleed.

"How?" B'Elanna asked amazed.

Q'Vir grinned. "Come now, I knew this day was coming for some time now. Do you really think I wouldn't change a little part of my skin to the point where I can be cut, can bleed... oh and actually change to where I have blood. But that is beside the point. Beside, this way my boyfriend can finally get some of my blood for studies."

"What?" The Doctor said from his place on the podium. That he was Q'Vir's boyfriend was new to him.

Q'Vir winked at him. "Come now Dave, surely you aren't one of those guys that sleeps with a woman and then says that she isn't his girlfriend."

"Um," was all the Doctor could say as he realized that Q'Vir had well and truly trapped him.

"Dave?" Almost everyone that had heard the exchange said at the same time.

Q'Vir shrugged. "I asked him his name and he told me that he didn't have one. So I called him Dave. I like Dave, I had good lives with every Dave I ever lived with. So now he is Dave."

Before B'Elanna could ask more she saw that Q'Vir's blood was dripping into the bowl, sizzling when it touched the other blood and creating a green smoke. "Um."

Q'Vir smiled. "Surely you didn't think I would settle for having normal blood, did you? That wouldn't be interesting for lover-boy there."

"What?" The Doctor said again, only to be ignored.

"So I went for having Drakon blood. Poisonous, acidic, and immune to every single disease I know. Pretty cool actually."

"Drakon, as in dragon?" Seven asked in disbelief.

Q'Vir wiggled her hand back and forth. "Ah, more like the real creature that the imaginary dragons are based on. They are still alive you know? Just that the Federation hasn't yet found the planet where they were resettled by the Q way back when. They are sentient by now, and very intelligent. But their homes are a real hoot. With them being twenty meters tall in average, and having wings big enough to actually fly, just imagine their windows and front door."

Remembering her prompt to move along to more than one person, Q'Vir decided to take her own advice. "But we can talk about that another time. Next."

Once the people that would be the Elders had all joined, two more pedestals were put on the podium. One to the left of the bowl with blood and one of the right. B'Elanna's d'k tahg was placed on one of the pedestals and Seven's on the other. This way two lines of people could form since everyone there already knew which knife to use. The people that weren't Elders, didn't have to state their claim as to why they wanted this or that position. Instead they would cut their hand and state where they would serve the House and then move on. It was efficient, taking less than one minute per person because they all understood that if it would take as long for them to join as it had for the Elders, all of them would be there for days. Still, it was three in the morning as finally the last cut had been made.

"I'm glad I don't have to be here for the others that will join in the following days," Q'Vir said with a sight. "This is one of the reasons they I always went with mass oaths if I made a religion or something. Just have everyone say 'I will do all you say' at once and it's over with."

"Luckily we won't have to be here either," A by now very tired B'Elanna agreed. "The others will join in ceremonies that are witnessed by the Elder they eventually report to. And we can have several ceremonies at the same time in different locations. Olik will witness the swearing in of all that will become Marines. And, hehehe, you actually have one ceremony left Q'Vir. You are the Elder that is in charge of the scientific wing. So you will have to witness the swearing in of everyone that can be considered under the scientific department."

Q'Vir groaned. "You just had to remind me of that, didn't you?"

"Why do you let yourself become tired? Seven wondered. "You can decide not to."

Q'Vir shrugged. "Technically I don't need sleep, and I can decide to change where my body doesn't require it. But... I actually like the process. If you do something that makes you really tired, going to sleep can sometimes feel like a real reward. Going to bed really can sometimes feel better than sex."

Seeing the surprised looks, she asked, "What, you don't agree? You never actually skipped once because you were too tired and really wanted to go to sleep?"

"That's not it," Seven assured. "We, or at least I, are merely surprised by the fact that you can appreciate something as sleeping that much considering who you were and what wonders you have experienced."

Q'Vir shrugged. "As I explained before; it's not the big stuff that makes you who you are. It is the small stuff that makes you appreciate the joys of life. Take this ceremony. You think that in a year I will still think about the fact that I was tired at the end of it? But oh, the memories of being the person that literally founded your House, that made it official I mean, that is something I will still remember in ten thousand years. Well, not every day. If you lived as long as I have you have so many fond memories that just thinking all the very best ones takes a decade or two."

"Alright, let's call it a night," B'Elanna said as she walked to the edge of the podium. She waited until Seven had joined her and they stood for a moment, waiting to get noticed and for the talking to die down. She lifted her and Seven's linked hands and placed a kiss on her be'nal's knuckles before addressing the crowd.

"I or Seven already welcomed you to the House when you joined, but let me now welcome you all to the House of BortaS as a group. We thank you all for joining, and for staying here all this time. Now go home and have a good night's rest. Some of you have to get up early enough as it is to oversee the others joining. Just know one thing. Today your lives changed forever. From today on it doesn't matter if you are Urdian or Federation. A Clan member, a model, a cook, a captain, a former Borg, or a hot headed half Klingon. Because from today on you are all a member of the House of BortaS. Honor and glory to us all!"

The last words were shouted, a shout that was quickly repeated by all.

Twenty-five to life, B'Elanna realized amused as she stood there listening to the shouts of the people. She knew that it was an old Earth saying that referred to a prison sentence where you had to at least be behind bars for twenty-five years, and maybe even for the rest of your life.

Funny, because she also knew that to some people that had made a hasty decision once, marriage could feel like such a sentence. But not for B'Elanna or, she was sure, Seven. For them the saying was all the more fitting, because for them it had taken twenty-five days before life truly begun. Only that it had been twenty-five glorious days instead of a punishment... even if it had seemed like a punishment in the beginning.

The End

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