Alternate Choices
By H.W.

Chapter 15

"Damn, damn, damn," Jetur Adami chanted while nervously pacing back and forth in her room. During the day, she had been able to present a cool front, but now that the Intendant had retired for the evening, Jetur had gone back to her own quarters and thought about what she had done. About the stupid mistake she made. The sound of the door chime made her jump and she turned to face the door. Taking a few deep breaths, she tried to pull herself together. She knew who had to be on the other side of that door. She finally said 'enter' when the chime sounded again.

The door opened to reveal Ro Laren, who strolled into the room, her eyes never leaving Jetur.

"Ro, I'm sooo sorry," Jetur broke after only a few seconds, "Please tell me we can still save this somehow. I can't believe I did that. Shit, I know I fucked everything up, I just couldn't keep my damn mouth shut."

"Why didn't you?" Ro asked softly while she walked to the table and leaned against it, folding her arms in front of her.

Jetur started pacing again, nervously rubbing her hands, "She ordered Bajorans killed, and, even more importantly, she is leaving those slaves without supervision, save for the guards that have to make sure they don't escape."

"And this made you question the Klingon Intendant because...," Ro prompted.

"Because I don't think it's a smart move. Or better said, I thought that. Having had the time to think about it, I do think she had a point."

"So you questioned the Klingon Intendant, in front of the Commander of the Klingon security department, and a Klingon Captain who is a well known advisor of the Chancellor from time to time. In front of three hundred Klingon guards; in front of five thousand slaves. In front all of these people, you questioned the Klingon Intendant."

"Laren, I know I fucked up, don't rub it in."

"I'm not. There is nothing to rub in, since you didn't fuck up."

"What?" Jetur asked while turning to Ro.

"Oh, that is what I thought too, in the beginning, that you ruined everything. But you didn't. To the contrary, you helped us very much."

"How can you say that? You heard what she said to me."

"Adami, I heard it, but did you?" Ro asked patiently.

"Don't play with me, Laren. Not now."

"I'm not playing with you Adami. Think about it. You questioned her, and you lived. She had to say what she did, she is the Klingon Intendant after all. She can't tolerate someone speaking back to her so publicly, unless she can give a good reason for accepting it. And the reason she gave, was that you were close to me. If she truly had been upset with you, she would have killed you with the others. But she didn't, and I started wondering why not."

"You sure I didn't mess up?"

"I'm sure," Ro assured her.

"Oh, my manners," Jetur said when she calmed down some. She pointed to one of the comfortable chairs to one side of the room, "Please sit down. Do you want something to drink?"

"No thanks," Ro said while she sat down.

Jetur went to the replicator, replicated a drink for herself and drained it in one go.

"Adami, calm down. Come sit and let me explain your masterful move to you."

Jetur saw the smile Ro gave her and sat down in the second chair.

"I actually think that with you speaking up, you covered something we both didn't even think about," Ro said in her soft voice, "You see, the thing is, if I become Intendant, you will become my advisor. But, I, you, Delik, Martok, probably that blonde slave, and certainly Intendant Torres, everyone knows that I can't function without you. Not if I want to cover all the bases."

"Right," Jetur agreed, "So that means..."

"That means that Intendant Torres has to be sure that you can stand up to me and say that something I want to do is absolutely nuts. That you won't be afraid to say to me 'Laren that is the stupidest thing I ever heard.' But today, Adami, today you did that, only more politely, to the Klingon Intendant. She knows that if you will question her, than by The Prophets, you sure won't hesitate to question me."

"You are just saying that to make me feel better," Jetur said with a small smile.

"Believe me, Adami, I'm not. You saw what Torres did in those mines. How she calmly sat on that chair and watched all of them being killed. And all they did was TRY and use her presence on our planet. Do you really think that if you had truly pissed her off, that she would have spared you simply because you advise me? Heck, she would probably have killed me as well, just to have it all over and done with."

"But I really didn't speak up because of this. I only did that because it didn't sound too smart to me."

Ro smiled and leaned forward in her chair, closer to Jetur, "Adami, that is the whole point. Think about it. Torres knows that people normally start pissing their pants when she says she is coming by for an inspection. Would you want her mad at you?"

"By The Prophets no!"

"But yet you questioned her. Now, if you dare to question Torres, you are bound to certainly dare to question little old Ro Laren who needed your help to get her new job. Right?"

"Right," Jetur agreed, finally being calmed down enough by Ro's words to see the truth in that.

Ro leaned back in the chair again, "So you did well today."

"I did well today," Jetur repeated, still amazed by it.

"And Adami, for future references, it did take me a while to get used to the fact that I will indeed need you, need your objective view, your input. But now I have. So, don't even wonder if you should question me. If you think I'm doing something wrong, tell me."

"Alright, I will do that," Jetur said with a smile before asking, "So you have any idea what our chances are?"

"Eh, difficult to say," Ro answered thoughtfully, "I noticed that she asks us a lot more than she is asking Delik."

"True," Jetur agreed, "I have a feeling that she already made her mind up about him."

"And now she is looking to see how we are compared to him," Ro finished for Jetur, "I have a feeling that she considers Delik the safe choice, and is now in the process of seeing if she can appoint us, or if she should go with the safe choice."

"You think that we could do something to help her make that choice?"

"No," Ro said after thinking about it for a minute, "We've handled things until now, let's go on like this. The more time the Intendant needs to make her decision, the more time there is for Delik to mess up."

"Right," Jetur agreed.

"So let me ask you something else," Ro said, changing the subject, "You got any idea just what is up with that slave?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I never had any dealings with a body slave before, so last night I did some reading on the matter. I can now understand why you told me to treat her as if she was very important. The reason simply being that she IS very important. But there is more about her. Did you see what she did today? She lifted that man off the ground with just one hand, and kept him off the ground for minutes. That takes a lot of strength. A lot more than a person of her figure could ever have. A lot more than anyone I know has."

"True," Jetur agreed, "And there is more. Every single one of us had a go at trying to get at the information in Kira's personal computer unit. None of us succeeded. Yet the Intendant asked the slave if she could get into the unit, and the next day the slave knew things that she could only know if she indeed had been successful in getting at the information."

"Like Kira's financial records," Ro continued where Jetur had stopped, "So at the very least that must mean that she is far better at breaking codes than anything we have here on Bajor. And she must have the brain to remember it all."

"Not to forget," Jetur added, "That she went over the budget we proposed. I sent it over, and a day later she knew all that I proposed, and this while we know that both of them had been out yesterday, the day I sent it over. So that means that the slave only had a few hours this morning, at most, to look all of that over. How in the name of The Prophets did she do that? Just reading it alone would take an entire day, let alone go over it and make corrections."

"There is more about that slave than meets the eye," Ro summed up, "But I think the main question is, does this matter to us?"

Jetur thought about that for a moment, "I think that Torres uses the slave to get information she would get eventually anyway. So, that really doesn't affect us. What does affect us, however, is that I have a feeling that Torres is very protective of her slave. And that might aid us. We are treating the slave with respect; Delik only acts dismissive of her as far as I could see. I think that doing that is not something that is helping his case."

"So, if we keep treating the slave as we have been, not only do we help our case, but Delik helps our case as well," Ro surmised.

"Right," Jetur agreed.

They were quiet for a moment before Jetur spoke up again, "You know, the Intendant had a point. We aren't communicating enough about what we are doing."

"Why not?" Ro asked, "I think that we are delegating out tasks just fine. You take care of the politically oriented stuff, like Kira's funeral. And I take care of the forces and security, like having the Intendant followed."

Jetur shook her head, "That is not the point. True, that all works out fine. But what I'm talking about, and what Intendant Torres was talking about, is that we don't know what the other is doing. If we want to make sure that we don't accidentally start working against each other somewhere down the road, we need to start communicating about what we do. Otherwise it could happen that we have a different view on a subject and actually both do things that counteract what the other is trying to do."

"Alright, I can see your point," Ro agreed, "But how do you suppose we deal with this?"

"Well, we spend a lot of time together now, but we don't really talk about what we have done, only about what we want to do. I suggest we start doing some kind of 'end of day meeting,' or something. You know, come together at the end of the day and go over all the things we did that day. It would really have not been that hard to tell you at the end of the day that I started arranging Kira's funeral, 'I started doing this today.' That way you wouldn't only have known about it, but you would also have known why it was done."

"Alright. We can start doing that," Ro agreed.

Both of them went quiet again. After a few long minutes, Jetur decided to break the silence, "It must be time for dinner."

"Well, in that case, I will leave you to it," Ro said, getting the hint, or so she thought.

"Actually, Laren, won't you join me?" Jetur heard herself say before she could stop herself.

"I'm not much for dinner conversations," Ro said, not necessarily saying no, nor yes.

"That's okay, as you know, I love to talk. I'll just talk for the both of us. Please stay, I think I would enjoy your company."

"Alright, I wouldn't mind some company for dinner," Ro relented.

"You normally don't have company for dinner?" Jetur asked while getting up and walking to the replicator.

"No, normally I eat alone," For some reason, Ro decided to leave the sentence at that and not add that normally that is how she liked it. Normally she didn't like company while eating... normally.

"Such a shame, we'll have to change that. Hey, how about we make that end of day meeting over dinner from now on?"

Ro thought about that for a moment. She knew that this would mean that she would be resigning herself to having dinner with the redhead every night. Then she wondered about that for a moment. Would that really be so bad? "Alright, sounds good to me."

"You have any favorite foods?" Jetur asked casually while thinking only a single word, 'Yes.'

"Sure," Ro said before starting to name her favorite foods.

"Care to tell me what's bothering you, my pet?" Torres asked without turning around. They were both soaking in the bath, and Torres was lying in the arms of the blonde. When they were done bathing, they normally just lay and soaked some, a tendency that had only developed after Torres had found out just what it felt like to lie in the water, against a soft body and being held by two strong arms.


"Something is bothering you, I can feel it. Normally you don't talk much, but you are always present and focused. But now you are actually absent."

"Mistress, I was just thinking."

"Come on, share with me, my pet."

"Mistress, I am enjoying my time with you."

"And that is a bad thing?" Torres asked.

"No, mistress. But I was contemplating the fact that I am enjoying a bath with you, enjoying the fact that I am holding a very attractive woman in my arms. I am spending my time by doing something I like doing."


"I was thinking of the Voyager crew. While I am enjoying my time here, at the same time they are working to repair the ship."

"Ah, you feel guilty for not being there to help them. There is no need for that, my pet."

"Why not?"

Torres sighed and turned around in the arms that were holding her, "Think about it, you have nothing to feel sorry about. There isn't anyone standing behind their back with a disrupter rifle shouting, 'go, go, go, faster, faster, faster.'

"Right now, they are rebuilding that ship as if they were at a neutral star base, it's just that it is one they want to get away from as fast as they can. All they are doing is renovating the ship. And before you say that you feel that you should be helping them, you are. Look at what you already done for them. I agreed to let them 'escape,' I agreed to give you fifteen minutes so that you can do what ever you need to do, I agreed that they can take their ship with them.

"You made me let them keep their personal possessions. I even let them use Klingon resources to repair a ship that I KNOW will never be mine since they are taking it with them. If it wasn't for you enjoying time with me, your friends would now be divided to different projects. Who knows; I might have even ordered them to those mines we visited today. You, my pet, are doing more for your friends and that ship by sitting here, holding me, than they are by working twelve hours every day."

"Mistress, you make it sound as if I am only using you."

"You are, my pet, you are. I might enjoy my time with you. But let's be honest, you still will try almost everything to help your friends."

"Mistress, I am NOT only using you," Seven said defiant.

"Not 'only,' but you agree that you are using me. Seven, that is how we came to be together, there is no use denying that. You agreed to do what ever I told you, save killing, isn't that what you said? You agreed to that because you knew that if you appeased me, I would be more likely to help your friends. You used me from the first minute.

"But, as much as you use me, I use you as well, and I think you know I'm not talking about sex now. I'm talking about the things I have you do, I'm using your implants even more than you yourself do. I have come to assume that if I want to know something, you already know it, or can find out about it in one minute flat. I'm using your hearing, your sight, I'm using almost all your implants, and the ones I don't use, I don't use because they have no further function than keeping you alive.

"I use you, Seven, and I will continue to do so. Not doing so would be plain out stupid on my part. Just as it would be stupid on your part if you didn't use me to help your friends. Using the people close to you is an everyday thing."

"Not where I come from," Seven disagreed. Not knowing if she should call the Intendant mistress, or B'Elanna. The last few days the Intendant had the tendency to sometimes use Seven's name to give a part of a conversation more meaning, while not taking the whole conversation to that higher level. Probably, Seven assumed, because Torres had noticed that in normal conversations it more often than not wasn't really necessary.

"Really?" Torres asked, thinking for a moment, "Alright, tell me, are there couples on that ship?"

"Yes, mistress. Several. Married, and also couples in loose relationships."

"Okay, forget about those last ones; let's focus on the married ones. Surely they would not use each other, right?"


"Then how can you explain, for instance, one of the two never cleaning the house. And the one who does clean the house, never goes out of the house to work in a paying job?"

"On Voyager everyone works, mistress," Seven couldn't help but point out.

"Seven," Torres growled, "You damn well know that was an example, I don't know what they really did on that ship and I don't fucking care," Torres leaned forward and softly kissed the blonde, showing her that she wasn't upset, despite how she had spoken.

"They are enhancing each other's strong points, equaling out each other's weak points," Seven said after taking her time to kiss Torres back.

"They use each other," Torres stated more bluntly. "They use their partner to do the things they themselves can't do, or don't want to do. But the whole thing about using each other is the degree in which you do it, and if the partner doesn't object. If someone can do something for their partner, they do so willingly. As you like to point out, my pet, there's a difference between doing something willingly, and doing something out of free will. If you like someone, you don't mind doing things for them. You don't mind them using you. BUT, the line is between using and misusing. You don't mind people using you, you will however hate people misusing you."

"Then why kill the Bajorans who used your presence?"

"Two reasons, first of all, I didn't know them and therefore I certainly DO object to them using me. Second reason was that they were not just using me, they were misusing me, that I won't allow."

"And what turns what I do into using you, and not misusing you?"

"Because I don't mind it," Torres said thoughtfully, "Do you mind me using you to get information?"

"No, mistress. I enjoy the fact that I can please you in that way."

"And that, my pet, is what makes all the difference. You enjoy the fact that you can help me, and I enjoy the fact that me helping you and your friends makes you happy... And I can NOT believe I just said that."

"Said what?" Seven asked, knowing only too well that Torres was talking about the fact that she had basically said that seeing Seven happy made her happy.

"That...," Torres started to repeat, only to be silenced with a kiss, and once again softly hearing the blonde ask, 'Said what?' Now Torres understood that her slave was giving her the chance to pretend that she had never said what she had.

"Thank you, my pet," Torres leaned in to share a very long and passionate kiss, "But I can admit to myself and to you that seeing you happy makes me happy. I think we both know that it won't make me act different... More different than I already am."

"Yes, mistress."

"Okay, back to the matter at hand, no more feeling sorry for the fact that you are spending time with me, alright?"

"Alright, B'Elanna."

Torres looked in those blue eyes for a moment before saying, "You are welcome, Seven."

"Welcome?" Seven asked.

"Yes, weren't you about to say 'thank you?'"

"Actually, no."

"No?" Torres repeated, slightly surprised.

"No, I was about to show you how thankful I am, mistress. I have you naked, in a bath. I will now commence with taking you until you pass out. Resistance is futile."

"Oh, boy," Torres said, but a wide grin was forming on her lips, "Resistance is futile, huh? What IS up with that line? You love using it."

"I will tell you tomorrow, when you wake up again." Seven let go of the Intendant and opened her legs a little wider, sending some of the water over the edge of the tub, "Now, you turn around fully and then YOU kneel between MY legs."

Torres heard the commanding tone in the blonde's voice. She knew what the blonde was doing, 'Kahless, how I love what that woman does to me,' Torres thought before reacting in the way she knew the blonde expected her to react, "You think you can order me around, slave?"

"Yes, I can. It is up to you how we do this," Seven started, mimicking words that Torres herself had spoken the first night she had seen Seven, "Either you work along, or I will take what is mine."

Torres thought about the words her slave had spoken, they were the same, but in the situation they were in now, they meant something else entirely. It meant that Torres had the choice. Either she could make the night about pleasing her slave, until the blonde started pleasing her. Or she could resist and make things a little rough. Torres had discovered that she also liked that, the way the blonde could do it.

It was rougher than normal, but no where near what would be considered true Klingon sex. Somehow the blonde knew exactly how far she could go, how far she could push. Making something Torres never truly enjoyed, rough sex, into something very enjoyable. Though she knew that the 'rough sex' wasn't really anywhere near truly rough.

Torres was in the mood for a little rough, but... Seeing those blue eyes looking back, so openly, understandingly. Torres' decision was made. She moved to kneel between the blonde's legs, sending even more water over the edge of the tub, "Let me please you, my pet. But tomorrow, think of something I can punish you for. Punish you by taking what is mine."

Seven liked the compromise, "Very acceptable, mistress."

Seven felt Torres softly caress her cheek, and she realized, no matter how she felt about the Voyager crew having to work, she was right where she wanted to be.

"So, what do you think?" B'Elanna asked.

Annika took her time to look at the quick drawing that B'Elanna had made, "Alright, we can do that," She finally said, "But my question is; why? It will only make an already complex place to work even more complex. Not even talking about the time it would take to do this."

B'Elanna grinned, "True, all of it. But, see, the thing is that those three consoles have been designed in such a way that three people can work there at once, one on each console. But, in all the years I worked in engineering, I never saw more than one person working there. There is just no reason to. And even if by some mysterious event in the future, more than one person would need access to the systems regulated by those three old consoles, it can be simply rerouted to one of the other consoles I assigned as backup. Simply by the push of a button."

"Which would mean that the information on those consoles would no longer be available since you rerouted the other information to it," Annika pointed out.

"And it can be accessed again by simply pushing the button again," B'Elanna countered, "Trust me, Annika, this is only backup safeguards. And even if by some miracle, the new combined console, and the backup consoles could not be used, all of it can still be rerouted to the other consoles in engineering."

"Okay, but you still haven't told me why all of this? Why go through all of this unnecessary work."

"Because of... this," B'Elanna said, reaching passed Annika, who was sitting beside her, to take another padd.

Annika looked at the padd for a moment and B'Elanna could see her eyes getting wider with every passing second.

"This is the layout for a cloaking system control panel," Annika stated.

"Yes," B'Elanna agreed excited, "While we were in the Delta Quadrant, I wished more than once we could cloak. And that will be even more important if we can't find a way back to our universe and have to spend a certain amount of time in Coalition space."

"Are you nuts?" Annika asked, being sorry for saying it a moment later when she saw that unique mixture between a smile and a grin that was just so... B'Elanna, disappear.

"Why?" B'Elanna asked deflated by the fact that Annika was not as enthusiastic about the idea as she was, "Annika, we have access to Klingon resources. Voyager won't have to mess around anymore with changing shield harmonics to mask us a little bit for sensors. We now have the opportunity to put in a set of heavy-duty cloaking generators. We could be cloaked for hours, days on end. We can't let that opportunity pass us by."

"Did it slip your mind what kind of work this is? B'Elanna, you as nobody else, should know that installing a cloaking system involves a lot more than just slamming in a set of generators, which is what most non technical people assume. It also involves hooking up the cloaking generator to the shield generators. And even more important, the shield projectors Voyager now has are not designed for cloaking use. Every single shield projector would have to be replaced by a dual system version."

"True, but those are very standard. We even have them in the Voyager database. We can replicate those, we would be using Starfleet material, no worry about incompatibility. And before you say that there would be compatibility problems with the cloak generators, not very likely. It is an unofficially known secret that Starfleet ships are designed without cloaking capabilities, but they are designed in such a way that this convenient feature can quickly be added."

"B'Elanna, you are letting your enthusiasm run away with you. You seem to forget the numbers. True as everything you just said may be, there are normally thousands of shield projectors on a ship. How many are there on Voyager's hull?"

"Almost six thousand," B'Elanna was forced to admit.

"Which all would have to be replaced by hand."

"You are probably right." B'Elanna said, admitting defeat, "It's just too much work. But damn, it would have been so convenient. It would have made it possible to hide every once in a while instead of only running." B'Elanna reached for the padd that Annika had put down, "Alright, let me delete this. And then we can see what still needs to be done."

But just as B'Elanna had taken hold of the padd, a warm hand closed over hers. They looked at each other for a moment, "B'Elanna, we two already have enough to do."

"I know. I..."

"Hush," Annika said while softly rubbing her hand over B'Elanna's, "What I was going to say was... We two have already enough to do. So who of your engineers do you trust enough to give them the job of installing the cloak generators?"

"Carey and Harry would do a great job of it," B'Elanna said softly, "But what about all those shield projectors that have to be replaced?"

"It IS a massive job, but it also is a simple one. It basically means going out on the hull, opening the access hatches, pull out the old projector, and plug the new one in. It's just that this will have to done six thousand times over. But that is work that can be done as well by those that are running out of things to do. You'll get your cloaking system, B'Elanna."

B'Elanna lifted their hands to her lips and placed a soft kiss on Annika's knuckles, "Thanks," Only when she saw how Annika was looking at her, did B'Elanna realize what she had done and let go of Annika's hand as if it had been on fire, "I... I... I..."

"You," Annika mercifully interrupted, "Are the one who now has to go to Janeway and let her know that she will get a cloaking device on her precious Federation ship. I have a feeling she won't be pleased."

"Right." B'Elanna agreed readily, "I will go do that right now. I'm sure with a little help from Chakotay we will be able to get Janeway to see the benefits," Then, before either of them could say anything else, B'Elanna quickly stood up and disappeared out of engineering.

Annika looked at her hand for a moment before kissing it on the very same spot where it had been kissed only a moment before. A smile slowly started to spread over her lips. But the smile quickly disappeared when she realized just what a vast amount of extra work she had just agreed to. She realized that she had only agreed to it because B'Elanna wanted it. She had only agreed to it to make the Klingon happy. The smile came back even bigger than before.

She had done something, not for herself, not to gain something from it, but simply to make someone happy.

Damn, that felt good.

"Do you have any plans for today, mistress?" Seven asked while they were enjoying breakfast.

"No, not really. Today we get rid of Kira that should take most of the day. Normally the funerals of Intendants last hours on end. Add to that that we are on Bajor and more likely than not some priests will babble about prophets and all of that blah, blah, blah, I wouldn't be surprised to be sitting there for at least six hours. And after that, the 'grief' of situation will become too much for the poor Bajorans and they will have to weep in private for losing such a beloved Intendant. So today there isn't really much I can do. But tomorrow..."

"Tomorrow, what?" Seven asked when Torres didn't continue.

"Tomorrow will be the day that I will test Jetur's devotion to being Ro's assistant."

"How?" Seven simply asked.

"I don't know yet. Martok and I will have a little talk tomorrow and see what the best way is."

Mere moments later, their peaceful breakfast was interrupted by Torres' communicator.

{Tarch to Torres,}

"What?" Torres merely asked. She had told Tarch, the Captain of her ship, to only contact her if it was extremely important.

{Intendant, I don't know how important this is, since he refused to talk to me more than was necessary to tell me to contact you, but Intendant Dukat wishes to speak to you.}

"Did he say that he wishes to speak to me, or did he say that he demands to speak to me?"

{Wish, Intendant.}

"Good, that means that he wants something from me. Alright, put him through."

{Yes, Intendant.}

A second later, the beep was heard that indicated that the transmission was put through.

"Dukat, what do you want? Somehow I don't think that you are contacting me to tell me that you will be coming to Kira's funeral."

{I'm sorry, no. Unfortunately situations beyond my control force me to stay on Cardassia.}

Torres snorted her answer, "Damn shame that I am already here and can't use that excuse. Troi, Dax, and Shinze also were unfortunately detained."

{Even the Romulans won't come?} Dukat asked, slightly surprised, {I would have thought that they would surely come and gloat.}

"Yeah, well Shinze had an excuse even better than yours, Dukat. He reminded me that Kira had forbid him to ever again set foot on Bajor. He was really, really sorry, but he could simply not come."

Dukat laughed at that, {Damn, I should have thought of that. She forbade me about ten times from ever setting a foot on Bajor again. How often did she tell you that again?}

"Seeing how she loved me, I lost count after thirty times," Torres admitted with a grin. "Anyway, to the matter at hand. somehow I don't think that you contacted me to give your condolences to the Bajorans."

{You are right. I need a favor from you.}

"Wait, let me guess, you need some more Vulcan slaves but you don't want to pay full price for them. So you ask me to see if I can put in a nice word with the Klingon sellers, am I right?"

{Actually... No. We discovered some irregularities in our Dilithium stocks. And I would like to ask you for a small amount of the stuff. Seeing that you Klingons can simply produce it.}

"I'm surprised, Dukat. Weren't you the one boasting that skimming Dilithium so that it can be sold on the black market didn't happen in Cardassian mines?"

{It didn't happen in the mines, it happened in the central storage facility.}

"So, why contact me? Our salesmen would love to sell you Cardassians a heap of Dilithium."

Dukat sighed, {I would like to keep this out of the official listings.}

Torres laughed, "Dukat, to keep it out of the official listings I would have to give the Dilithium to you, without you paying me for it."

{That, I know.}

Torres thought about it for a moment, "Just what amount of Dilithium are we talking about?"

Ducat was quiet for a moment before finally saying, {Twenty four tons.}

"What?! Dukat, how in Kahless' name can someone get away with stealing twenty four thousand kilos (28.000 pounds) of Dilithium?"

{She was the chief administrator of the resources department. She had been skimming profits for years, but normally only enough to not be noticed. But this year, she developed a taste for gambling in the Ferengi casinos. And she went quickly downhill from that moment on.}

"So? Why not make that common knowledge, and punish her and her family for it?"

Dukat was once more quiet for a moment before finally simply saying, {She is my sister. I demoted her, sent her to a clinic that will put an implant in her brain that will make it impossible for her to ever gamble again. But I can't do anything else, unless I want to have my sister killed, and more importantly, my own name tarnished. You understand why I want to keep this quiet?}

Torres shook her head, but knowing that Dukat could not see it, she said, "I need to think about that for a moment, Dukat. Contact me again in five minutes and I will give you your answer."

{Alright,} Dukat merely said before closing the channel.

"Torres to Tarch."

{Yes, Intendant?} The Captain asked.

"Dukat will contact me again in five minutes, put him right through when he does."

{Yes, Intendant.}

"Mistress, is there something I can do to help?" Seven asked when the channel was shut off.

"No, not really, my pet. I simply need to think about whether I want to give Dukat the Dilithium. That kind of amount would sell for about fifty million credits. Dilithium sells at about two million credits a ton. By Kahless, how can someone gamble away fifty million credits in one year? Talk about a string of bad luck."

"Is Dukat someone who honors his debts?" Seven asked.

"Yeah, at least the debt he owes to me."

"Will the Klingons miss the Dilithium?" Seven continued to ask.

"Not at all. We actually only produce the stuff for about five months every year. We have to do that to keep the price up and not flood the market. It would be stupid to produce more, only to bring the price down so that we would make as many credits a year as we are making now in less than a half year."

"Then I would suggest giving him the Dilithium. With such a vast amount, which is normally worth so many credits, it would mean that he would owe you a very big favor, mistress."

"But the problem is that he already owes me a lot of favors. Do I really need more favors of him while he will probably never repay them? I'm not one to call in favors that often."

"Mistress, what is the difference? You, nor the Klingon Empire, absolutely need those credits. But can you really have too many favors owed to you by another Intendant? And certainly by the Cardassian Intendant?"

Torres thought about that for a moment before treating the blonde to a grin, "That is what I love about you, my pet. Always down to the basics. Please get us a drink while I wait for Dukat to contact me again."

Seven did as she was told, and when she came back with the drink, Dukat contacted Torres again.

"Alright, Dukat. I thought about it."


"You will get your Dilithium. But, you owe me big time. You can be sure that I will collect this favor. And you can also be sure that you won't like what I will ask. I don't know yet what it will be, but you can rest assured that I will make certain that you won't like it."

{Alright,} Ducat sighed, {I can't really expect you to be thrilled about this. Your 'price' sounds reasonable. I will send a ship to collect the Dilithium. Dukat out.}

"He is politeness himself, isn't he?" Torres asked, not really expecting an answer, "Anyway, I think it is time to prepare for Kira's funeral."

"Yes, mistress. Should I change into a normal bio-suit now?"

"Hmm," Torres said while looking at the gray form fitting suit the blonde was wearing, "You know, I think this would be the perfect opportunity for you to wear that green wavy thing. Isn't green the Bajoran color of mourning?"

"It is, mistress. I assume that with 'that green wavy thing' you mean the bio-suit that has extra lairs of fabric over it to give the impression of a normal loose dress?"

"Yes, that thing," Torres agreed with a grin.

"Very well, should I go change now?"

" Yeah," Torres said while she stood up from the table.

Seven did the same and started to clean off the table before going to change. The rule that the table had to be cleaned as soon as Torres was finished eating had been 'tweaked' days before. Torres had found that she enjoyed it more to eat leisurely in the company of the blonde, than having her clear the table at the last bite. Somehow, a clean table meant that the quiet start of the day was over and the job of ruling began.

The second time Seven walked to the replicator to put something away, she suddenly collapsed.

Torres, who had seen this, was at Seven's side in less than a second, "What's wrong?" Torres asked when she saw that Seven was still conscious and moving... Or better said, moving her upper body.

"My lower body ceased functioning," Seven pointed out the obvious.

"I figured that," Torres said annoyed, "But I want to know why. People don't just get paralyzed walking from a table to a replicator."

"Do not raise your voice at me. I am in distress here," Seven shot back in a way not like her at all.

Torres closed her eyes for a moment. The way the slave had talked to her normally was more than enough to send the volatile Klingon into a rage. But she knew that this not what was needed at the moment, "I know, Seven, I know," Torres said softly while placing her hand against Seven's cheek, "What I meant is if you know how and why this happened."

"If I had known this would happen, I would have prevented it," Seven said annoyed.

Torres stayed surprisingly calm, "Yeah, yeah, if I had known I was going to fall, I would have lain down first, right?" Torres continued to caress Seven's cheek and speak softly, " Come on, Seven, let's look at the obvious first. You told me that you didn't know how your implants would react to going a prolonged time without regenerating. So, is this an implant problem?"

Seven took a moment to mentally take stock of her implants and how they were functioning. Normally she didn't think consciously about them, only if she did something that was outside the norm did she think about them. Like when she changed the sensitivity setting of her hearing. Just like normal humans, the Doctor had once told her, they don't normally think about how their body is functioning. They only start thinking about that if something is wrong, or if they are about to do something that is not an average day thing, like lifting a heavy weight, "An implant in my lover back is not functioning. It regulates all the data going to the implants in my lower body."

"So, why are your human muscles not working then?"

"Because the Borg removed my spinal cord, replacing it with an enhanced implant that moves nerve information faster than the normal human spinal cord, and which makes it possible for me to constantly have the strength a normal human only possesses under extreme circumstances, when their entire body is flooded with adrenaline."

"I thought you had those other implants to make you stronger?"

"As well," Seven corrected. "The Borg combined the two. After all, a drone can never be too strong," Seven realized how calm she had become while talking about her implants. And she knew that Torres had done this on purpose, "Thank you, B'Elanna. I am sorry I shouted at you. Please, I need assistance."

"Don't mention it." Torres said with a smile, "Tell me how this can be corrected."

"I require the tools that the Doctor gave to me."

"Where are they?"

"In the small bag."

Torres walked to the bedroom and one of the closets there. She knelt on one knee and pulled out one of the bags that had been brought to their rooms. Sometimes, on shorter trips, it was simply easier to take stuff along in a bag, than it was to upload replicator patterns. She took out the box that was roughly the same size as an average computer unit and went back to the blonde's side.

Seven tried to open the box, only to have her hands softly batted aside by Torres, "I'll do it. You just lie there and tell me what to do."

Seven was only too happy to let Torres do what would be difficult for herself to do since the implant was in her lower back. She reached to her back, indicating where the implant was, "The implant is located here."

"This one?" Torres asked, touching the implant softly. It wasn't the first time she touched it.

"Yes, you need to scan it with that device to the left."

"This one?" Torres said taking a device out of the box, "Looks like a Tricorder."

"It is, Federation version. Adapted by the Doctor for use with my implants."

"Okay, I think I know how to use this," Torres activated the Tricorder and scanned the aria that Seven had indicated. A moment later she showed Seven the readings.

"It is not broken," Seven said with relief. "It only needs to be reset."

"Alright, how do I do that?"

"Almost all Borg implants can be reset by a simply Electro Magnetic pulse. The device, beneath where the Tricorder was is designed for this."

Torres took the device and studied it for a moment while asking, "Isn't that a very weak spot? I mean, you can deactivate a Drone with a simply EM pulse."

"Not at all," Seven disagreed, "An EM pulse resets the implants; it does not shut the implants off. Under normal conditions, I would not even notice my implants being reset. In normal space travel, Drones are exposed to EM pulses of different strengths on almost a daily basis. The Borg decided to use that to actually enhance the functioning of a drone. There are only a few implants that are sensitive to EM pulses, like my neural implant. But they are extremely well shielded against EM pulses. The EM pulse will have to be very strong, a Borg spaceship would be deactivated before the Drones on that ship would be."

"Alright, I think I figured out how to use this. Check the settings I put in."

"Those are correct." Seven affirmed after looking at the screen for a moment, "You only have to hold it against my implant for a moment. But you will have to open my bio-suit first. The EM pulse will destroy the technology in the suit if it passes through it to my implant."

"So? The Doctor can make a new suit," Torres said while she started to open the bio-suit at the neck of the blonde. Once there was enough room to allow for the blonde's torso, she started to peel the stretching material back, "Lift your upper body a little, baby," Torres said to the blond who was still lying on her stomach.

Seven did as asked while answering the question, "I like this suit. I do not want to see it destroyed. And if it would be destroyed, it would mean that I would have to wear one of the other bio-suits to bed at night. I do not think they would be as comfortable to sleep in as this one."

Torres stripped the suit down, moving the blonde's body when ever needed, until she could see the implant and the soft raise of the blonde's buttocks, "Okay, here goes."

Torres put the device against the implant and activated it. A moment later, a beep came from the device and Seven started to move her legs again.

"You okay now?" Torres asked.

Seven turned on her side and towards Torres, "Yes, thank you."

Torres patted the blonde's hip before moving her hand further around the blonde to trace the implant she had just reset, "You know, I really like the way this implant looks."

Seven knew Torres well enough by now to know that the Intendant was only commenting, and not leading on to more, certainly not after what just happened, "Why?" Seven merely asked.

"I don't know, it just looks kinda hot. The way it curves to both sides, following the line of your beautiful ass in a V shape; the way it appears blue, or gray, depending on how the light falls on it. And the way it is constructed it seems as if there is a design in them, an artistic design," Torres clarified before Seven could point out that it was only logical that the implant had to be designed at some point. "And you know the very best part of it?"


"The very best is that nobody but me will ever see it."

"I am still surprised that you find my implants aesthetically pleasing."

"Seven, I think that you simply don't like them because you know how you got them; because you know how the Borg use them. But if you forget about that for a moment, they look very original and very nice. But..." Torres offered Seven her hand and helped her stand up, "Now, my pet. I didn't like what just happened. It is much too dangerous for you to go much longer without regenerating. So, as soon as the funeral is over, you are out of here. I will send you back so that your Doctor can have a good look at you."

Seven stripped fully out of her bio-suit, knowing that she had to change anyway, "Mistress, no. I do not want to leave."

"That, is not negotiable, my pet. I don't want you keeling over dead."

"Mist... B'Elanna. Do not send me away."


"No," Seven interrupted. "B'Elanna, you want to send me away only because of an incident."

"An incident?" Torres asked in a raised voice, "Damn it, Seven, You fucking collapsed okay?"

"I know only too well, I was the one lying on the floor," Seven countered, also raising her voice, "Excuse me for not being perfect. Yes, I have weak points as well."

"Weak points?" Torres now shouted, "Having bad vision is a weak point. Being paralyzed from one second to another without warning is a disaster waiting to happen."

"Please do not shout at me, it will force me to react and I do not want to fight with you."

Torres looked at the blonde for a moment with her mouth half open, "What?" She finally asked.

"You are not Voyager's B'Elanna. I have discovered that I enjoy fighting with Voyager's B'Elanna, but I do not enjoy fighting with you."

"Alright, let's sit for a moment."

They both sat down on the couch and Torres looked the blonde up and down for a moment, "You really don't have any modesty at all, do you?" Torres asked the naked woman.

"You have seen me undressed before, at very close range actually. There is nothing to see that you have not seen before."

"True, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't affect me anymore," Torres sighed, "Anyway, back to the matter at hand. I really think that you should go back."



"No, B'Elanna, I think that you are making a mistake again, just as when you were when you decided I could no longer be your slave. We got through that problem, and we can get through this one."

"Seven, this is different. I'm not sending you away to get rid of you, or because I don't know how to handle what we have. I'm sending you back because I want you to stay strong and healthy."

"No, what I mean is that you decide something without first looking at other possibilities. Let us look at other possibilities, and if we do not find a different solution, you can still send me back."

"What other options are there? You dying?"

"That is an option I do not prefer," Seven said, and Torres knew that the blonde was doing anything she could to get her to think rationally.

"Alright, tell me," Torres said thoughtfully, "How likely is it that something like this, or even worse happens again?"

"I can not say," Seven admitted honestly.

"Let me think for a moment," Torres said and they were quiet for a moment. A few minutes later, Torres asked, "That Tricorder I used to scan the implant, will it only register implants that are not working? What I mean is, does it only say 'working, not working.' Or does it also register when an implant is not working at peak efficiency, say only for sixty percent?"

"It does neither. It measures the readings of the implant, and from that I am able to tell you how well the implant is working."

Torres was quiet for another several minutes, "Alright, here is what we will do. And this is truly non-negotiable, I mean it this time, Seven. This is a take it or leave it deal."

"I understand."

"Okay, from now on, every night when it is not possible for you to regenerate, and I stress the 'every night' part, we will scan all your implants to see if they are working correctly. If something is wrong, we will see if we can fix it with the stuff we got here, if not, you are out of here, even if the implant is not yet truly malfunctioning."

"Scanning every implant will take more than thirty minutes..."

"I don't give a shit," Torres interrupted, "Damn it, Seven. What part of non-negotiable don't you understand? From now on, every day before we take a bath, we scan your implants. And before you say anything else, if you don't answer me right now with 'Yes, B'Elanna,' you are out of here. I'm not kidding, Seven."

Seven sighed, she was not looking forward to having her implants scanned every day, to be reminded every night that she was part machine. But then she realized that Torres also would not do this for the fun of it. She was truly concerned for Seven. Seven closed her eyes for a moment to let that realization wash over her.

"Seven, I need an answer."

Seven leaned in and placed a kiss on Torres's shoulder, "Yes, B'Elanna."

"Good, and we will start with it now, before we go out. We still have the time to do so."

"Yes, B'Elanna."

"And you will not deceive me about the readings on the Tricorder. Remember, you promised to never deceive me. When something is wrong, you tell me."

"Yes, B'Elanna."

"Hmm, you know what, my pet?"

"What, Mistress?" Seven asked, slipping easily back into her role of slave. Knowing that Torres had made her choice, and knowing that she had succeeded in staying.

"You are right, sometimes it isn't so bad to look at alternatives."

"Indeed," Seven agreed.

"Now, my pet, you stand up and we will scan your implants. Where do we start?"

"I would suggest starting at the cranial implant and work our way down."

"Good idea." Torres agreed with a grin, "I like going down."

Part 16

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