Alternate Consequences
By H.W.


Chapter 13

"Toby, yield!" Seven shouted in horror.

To B'Elanna's great relief the pressure around her neck eased off and a moment later she was looking into the brown eyes of the biggest Targ she had ever seen.

Toby looked down and snarled, taking great pride in showing off his teeth to this imposter. Oh the imposter had gone to great trouble to look and smell just like the dark nest mate but Toby was not to be fooled. He sniffed a dismissive breath of air into the imposter's face and just for good measure snapped his teeth with a loud click.

When the Targ snapped his teeth at her, B'Elanna finally got over the paralysis that had beset her body the moment she had been tackled to the floor by the huge beast. She crawled back, away from under the monster that Seven had chosen as a pet. "What the fuck!? That isn't a Targ; that's a Kahless be damned freight cart!"

"I apologize," Seven said as she helped B'Elanna to her feet together with Annika. "Normally I have to introduce guests to Toby to prevent something like this from happening. But since you are basically the same person as my mistress I assumed that it was not needed. I sincerely apologize for this mistake." Seven looked to her side before adding in an accusing tone of voice, "And you seem to find this extremely funny."

"You bet your pretty ass I do," Torres happily agreed between fits of laughter.

"Are you alright?" Annika asked as she moved herself slightly between B'Elanna and the Targ. Pet or not, if the animal tried to attack B'Elanna again, Annika would introduce the beast to the blades she still wore strapped to her arms almost all time.

"Toby, be nice. Friends," Seven said, giving the Targ two different commands. First she told him to behave himself, and second he told him that the two people with her were people that were allowed into the quarters. Looking back at Torres, Seven asked, "Would you mind explaining why you find this so funny?"

"Because." Torres finally managed to stop laughing but was still grinning. "Our little pet just proved science wrong. Back when my doctor scanned my counterpart here to see if I was indeed a compatible match to be a donor for her, he told me that she and I are the same person; down to the last chromosome." Torres moved over to Toby and patted him softly on the head. "Yet there must be some difference; something that makes Toby here attack her while I can do this." Torres bent over and placed a kiss on Toby's head. Something that was rewarded with a sloppy Targ kiss. "Pheh, got to make him stop doing that though. Anyway, I kinda like the fact that even though there might be people that look like me, there clearly is only one me."

"Then why isn't he attacking me?" Annika asked.

"Simply, you were not in the quarters when Toby defended them. You only stepped in after I told him that you were allowed to," Seven explained. "That is why I invited B'Elanna to come in first. I knew that Toby would realize that you are not me. Even I can smell the difference between us."

"Smell?" Annika asked.

"No metal," Seven explained to make it clear that she wasn't implying that Annika stank. "Or better said, you carry a sent of metal that is far smaller than mine."

"You can smell my blades?" Annika asked surprised.

"I can; Borg enhancements." Seven affirmed before walking further into the quarters with Toby at her side.

"Is he always so protective?" B'Elanna asked, making sure to stay well away from Toby.

"He is, but he normally behaves in a different way," Seven looked at Torres for a moment and saw that she had no intention of stepping up as leader of the household. Clearly the day was still about Seven, even though they were no longer on Voyager. "I assume that he sees our quarters as his nest; something that is his to defend. Here he acts in a way that you would describe as 'kick ass first and take names later.' But normally when we are outside he is more than happy to intimidate people with a growl or by baring his teeth. This is behavior that mountain Targs also display in nature when they feel that the other creature is so weak that it poses no threat to him or his nest mates and no challenge in a hunt."

"A mountain Targ? Damn it Seven, you don't do things half way, do you?"

"As I said before, he chose me, not I him. Having said that, I am glad that he did."

"But how hell can you even keep an animal like that on a ship? Surely he must have his exercise?"

"I have to admit that this is something I underestimated. While I had realized that he would need some exercise, I had assumed that a few walks through the ship would suffice. It turned out that I actually have to spend two hours every day on the holodeck with him. We spend one hour on his training and one hour where we simply play or where he can chase the holographic animals around."

"Good thing too," Torres added. "At least now the slaves can clean our quarters when we are on the holodeck without them having to fear for their lives."

"Why? Did he bite someone?" Annika asked as she kneeled onto one knee to bring her eyes close to Toby's level.

"You could call it that," Torres agreed. "If you call having an arm ripped off being bitten."

"It could be reattached, and my mistress made it up to the slave," Seven was quick to add.

"How can you make up for that?" B'Elanna asked while wondering what it must feel like to have your arm ripped off by a set of teeth.

"By buying the pleasure slave that he fell in love with before I bought him and letting them live together, and also giving them my personal promise that she would never have to service anyone again... unless she wants to, that is."

"But why would you make it up to him anyhow?" B'Elanna asked. "Isn't he only property to you anyway?"

Torres had heard the mildly accusing tone and was about to react when Seven beat her to it.

"My mistress firmly believes in punishments and rewards. She feels that a slave will do his or her job well if that slave knows that by doing said job well they will live a life where they do not have to fear for their life every minute of the day. In fact, that rewards and punishment system is the very reason why the Voyager crew was not split up right away after being captured by my mistress. My mistress figured that since the slave had been accidentally 'punished' by his arm being ripped off by my pet, he deserved a reward."

"Hmm, you are a tough one, aren't you?" Annika, who had been looking Toby in the eyes, asked. Suddenly she snapped her teeth at him like he had done at B'Elanna, making Toby pull his head back in surprise. He looked up at Seven as if he was asking for permission to teach this tall animal just who the predator was. But unfortunately he didn't get the permission he was hoping for so instead he walked away and lay down, pretending that he didn't see any of the animals, including his nest mates.

"If I understand this correctly, the Voyager crew was allowed to stay together as a reward to you?" Annika asked as she stood up again. "What did you do to gain such a reward?"

"What did she do?" Torres asked. "She's a body slave; guess."

"What I did was give my mistress companionship," Seven corrected. "You would be surprised about how lonely the life of an Intendant is. My mistress was glad to finally have found someone that stimulated her intellect even more than her body."

"Which is a great feat, considering how well you stimulate my body," Torres said with a grin.

"Damn it, he is huge," B'Elanna said as she looked at Toby sulking off. "Aren't you afraid that he will choose to ignore your commands and attack someone? Hell he could attack you if he is in a bad mood."

"He would never attack us," Seven said with the confidence only a pet owner could have about their pet. "And granted, I do not yet have him for a long time, but until now he has never ignored a command, once he understood it that is. For instance, I never have him confined by a leash when we leave these quarters, yet he has not attacked or bitten someone. All he does is snarl at people that come too close for his liking. This has always been enough for those people to know that they should move back a step or two. Which I prefer anyway; I do not like people to enter my personal space unless they are my friends."

Torres moved on to the private part of the quarters and the rest followed, including Toby who once again was more than happy to ignore them once he was sure that they were in the same room he was. "Alright, enough talking about my pet's pet. Let's talk about something else, like you getting married. Since you are the captain, who is going to marry you?"

"Chakotay will marry us, being acting captain for the day."

Torres snorted at that. "So you have an acting captain marry the acting captain? Seems to me that some of the mentality of that redhead did survive after all. Oh, no, we can't make her a real captain; it's too hard to deal with her then."

"You could put it like that," Annika agreed. "I said that once I became captain I did away with a lot of that, but when they created my position I wasn't captain yet and Janeway's thinking was still very much policy."

"Hmm. Anyway, what are the plans for the wedding?" Torres asked, making Seven wonder about her mistress' interest in the marriage.

"We actually don't know much about the plans," B'Elanna said before starting to tell what they did know.

"... on this special day. Annika, B'Elanna, you have chosen to forgo the normal five year wedding contract and instead have chosen the unlimited contract. Do you both realize that once you are wed the contract can only be nullified by the Federation Civil Affairs Bureau?"

"We do," Annika and B'Elanna said at the same time.

"Because you have opted for the unlimited contract, I have to ask if anyone has any objections before I marry you in the name of the powers invested in me by the Federation. If anyone has any objections, let them speak now."

It was quiet for a moment and just as Chakotay was about to go someone did indeed speak up.

"Actually, I have an objection," Torres said as she stood up and got closer. "You people seem to forget that in this universe you don't have any 'powers invested in me.' So you, get lost."

Chakotay looked at Annika and B'Elanna and saw the same look of confusion that he was sure was on his own face.

"If you want to get married here, you might as well do it right," Torres said as she took the spot where Chakotay had been standing. Totally ignoring the man standing behind her, Torres looked at B'Elanna and spoke. "B'Elanna, I don't really know you, but scans say that you and I are the same person, physically. If you are anything like me mentally you will be a stubborn bitch with more pride than common sense. If it ever comes down to having to choose between your pride and your mate, do the smart thing. Use what little common sense you do have; chose your mate. You can work the rest of your life to redeem your pride, but you will never find another one like her."

Torres looked to her other side and at Annika. "Annika, I don't know you, but if you are anything like my pet then you are a proud woman with the ability to actually out-stubborn the woman standing beside you. Don't let her pull that Klingon crap on you. Trust me, if she is anything like me she will curse and scream, but secretly she will be thrilled by the fact that you stand up to her.

"You said that you wanted to get married here because you found each other here, and because Annika is from this universe. I hope that you will like my wedding gift to you, a marriage that is actually legal here. Annika Hansen, B'Elanna Torres, I hereby proclaim you Mates for life. I do so by the powers invested in ME, Intendant Torres, by the Coalition and the Klingon Chancellor. This means that the marriage is legally recognized in all of Coalition space. If anyone never the less has any objection to this marriage... let them come see me. Annika, B'Elanna, you are now married and legal Mates. If you were Klingons you would be leaving us now to take your new Mate to bed, I guess that with you people you will have to settle for a kiss."

Annika and B'Elanna stepped closer and smiled. They had actually talked about this very point; that a marriage under Federation law would not be seen as legal in Coalition space. But now, now their marriage was legal. Very legal in fact. It had been legalized by the highest political force one could find in the Coalition without having to go and see the Chancellor. They leaned in and shared a soft, short kiss.

"Kahless, you kiss like Zachian," Torres said with a snort, making people chuckle.

"Oh, I do have a little bit of a Klingon inside me too," Torres said before taking a good hold of Annika and kissing her with as much passion as she could, only stopping when the whooping and whistles penetrated her brain.

"Now, that, is a kiss," Torres said with a grin.

"Now I know why you were asking them about the marriage plans. That was an incredibly nice thing to do mistress."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. I have to tell you, my pet, before I met you I never realized that doing things for others could actually feel good. I just hope that it doesn't come around to haunt me."


"It already did once, my pet. I was able to deal with it, but the fact is that I had to deal with Dukat because I let your friends go because of you. If I hadn't let them go, then they could not have interfered with that ship and Dukat would never have contacted me."

"Are you not more afraid that these people will see you in a way that you do not want them to see you?"

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"Mistress, I believe that in the Voyager crew you have found people with whom you can let your guard down a little. Whatever you tell them or whatever you do, all will only stay on the ship. It will not spread through the Coalition like a wildfire. It is not like the Voyager crew is going to search and find the next Klingon ship and gossip about the Klingon Intendant. Because of this you can let your guard down a little with them since nobody else in the Coalition sees what I see whenever a look at you."

"And just what do you see?"

"I see the person I fell in love with because she is beautiful and has a gentle soul. A person who cares about others and wants others to have a good life."

Torres looked around her as if searching for something. "Me? You're talking about me? Seven, baby, I know that love colors perception, but even you know that I'm not that."

"To me you are," Seven disagreed. "And that is all that matters." Seven closed the small distance that was between them and took Torres in an embrace, making sure to rest one hand on Torres' behind. "Did I ever tell you what a turn on it is for me? To see you in those meetings, during those visits? Being that feared Klingon Intendant? Seeing people start to shake when you walk by, and sigh with relief when you pass without focusing your attention of them? I know that you really are that Intendant they need to fear, B'Elanna. But, to me you are simply everything, and I will never stop seeing you in a good light, no matter what you do."

Torres sighed happily and tightened her own arms around the blonde. "You know, I think it's actually more those two than the rest of the crew."

"Those two? You mean Annika and B'Elanna?"

"Yes. As I told you when you decided to stay with me, I can be damn selfish. I think that the reason I treat that crew differently is simply because I want me to be happy with you, and they are us as well. For them to be happy they need that ship, they need that crew."

"For B'Elanna to be happy, she needs her little blonde vixen?" Seven asked with a smile. "No matter which B'Elanna it is, you want B'Elanna Torres to have that?"

"Right," Torres agreed with a chuckle as they parted. "Doesn't it sound strange to you as well to be talking about 'them' and 'us' and still to be basically talking about the same person?"

"Only physically. That B'Elanna is my friend, but she could never be you. Even if she tried, she could never be that Intendant that you become when you put on that battle uniform."

Suddenly Torres saw Seven actually gasp as an idea struck her. "What?"

"Mistress, B'Elanna, may I ask a favor?"

"As you know; you can always ask," Torres replied, reminding Seven of the fact that, yes, she could ask, but that didn't mean that the answer would be positive.

"B'Elanna, would you make love to me right now?"

Torres smirked at that. "I think I can agree to that."

"No, what I mean is, would you make love to me as Intendant? In full battle uniform? Make love to me, not as B'Elanna, not even as my mistress, but as that Intendant those others so fear?"

"You want to see the love in the eyes of that feared Intendant as I take you, right?"

"Yes," Seven agreed in nothing more than a seductive whisper.

"Do you what me to be a little, rough?"

"What I want is for you to be the Intendant, what ever that means; be it."

"Full battle uniform, huh?" Torres grinned.


"And I can do what ever I want, no limitations?"

"What ever you want, I am yours to do with as you please. Just make it last."

Now Torres laughed. "Oh, I think I can oblige that part. But I'm going to change the rules a little."

"In what way?"

As an answer, Torres placed a hand in Seven's neck and gently forced her to a kneeling position before sitting down herself. "If I'm going to fuck you as the Intendant, then I want to actually be able to enjoy it without my own hornyness getting in the way. So, before I actually put on that uniform and take you, again and again... you first fuck me. Mouth and fingers. Take off my pants and get to it, and you damn well better make me come so hard that I see stars."

"Yes, Intendant," Seven said as she eagerly closed in on her target.

"You know, that is the silliest grin I have ever seen on that face," Annika said amused as she looked at how B'Elanna was looking at the padd in her hands.

"It's official," B'Elanna said as she looked up to the woman she loved. "It's officially official even. We are married. She put her thumbprint on this. It's a legal document."

"Yes, I must admit that I'm surprised that she did that," Annika said as she sat down besides B'Elanna. She molded her body against B'Elanna's and they spent a few minutes exchanging loving kisses. "That could cause her a lot of problems if it was ever found out. The Klingon Intendant marrying a couple of escaped slaves? Oh boy."

B'Elanna placed her hand on Annika's hip and slowly started to move up Annika's side and back down again to the hip. "Actually, I don't think that she is taking that much of a risk. After all, her thumbprint is exactly the same as mine. She could simply say that I verified the document myself." B'Elanna felt one of her breasts being cupped softly and thinking suddenly got a lot harder. She moaned before finally managing to continue. "But I don't think she would do that. I think it's more like... well, is there actually a rule that forbids slaves from getting married?"

Annika actually stopped playing with B'Elanna's breast for a moment and then decided that since she had stopped, it was a good time to go play with its twin. "As far as I know... it's covered by general Coalition law, I think. Or more to the point, it's not covered by Coalition law. I don't know of any law that forbids slaves to be married, just that it's basically unheard of. I do know that for a marriage to be legal you have to be wed by a government representative, but who will ever marry slaves and lose their job in the process?"

"M... Kahless Annika, what are you doing to me? Maybe a Klingon Intendant, who is a government representative, can marry two slaves. After all, she can simply say, 'yeah, I did that; you got a problem with that? Do you really want to piss me off?'"

Annika smiled. "You actually sounded just like her there, growl and all. Put like that, I think you are right. Who would be stupid enough to mess with her for something as small as a marriage? But, for me, us, that marriage is a pretty big deal. And as for what I'm doing to you? I thought that it was quite clear; I'm ravishing you. Oh, look at that. Seems like someone is getting exited." Annika playfully circled a proudly erect nipple. "My, my, if they are reacting like this by me touching you through your clothing, just imagine how they will react when I touch them directly. You know something, B'Elanna? I would really love to close my mouth around one of your nipples right now."

"Annika, m, maybe it's b... oh boy, better if you stop."

"Why? Don't you like it?" Annika asked innocently. "Could have fooled me." Annika didn't give B'Elanna a chance to answer. Instead she kissed her, taking her time to explore B'Elanna's mouth with her own tongue.

"I'm going to bed, are you coming?" Annika asked seductively.

"I really don't think that's a good idea right now," B'Elanna said frustrated. "I,"



"Don't make me hit you over the back of your head again. I'm going to bed, and I have no intention of going to sleep any time soon. Come with me if you want to, come. I really, really want to make love to my wife."

B'Elanna didn't answer with words, instead she stood up and placed her arms under Annika and picked her up before she started to carry Annika to the bedroom.

"Let me down, you dope," Annika laughed. "You will hurt your back and that's really the last thing we need right now."

B'Elanna set Annika down with a goofy grin. "Sorry, I got a bit carried away."

Once they were in the bedroom, Annika pushed B'Elanna softly against the wall and moved a hand under her blouse, unbuttoning two buttons in the process. "I think that the problem is more that I kept you waiting too long." She pushed up B'Elanna's bra and took one of her nipples between her fingers, rolling it softly. She smiled when B'Elanna suddenly got a little shorter. "Careful there, better keep those knees working." She moved her second hand in to B'Elanna's pants and moved down between B'Elanna's legs. "Oh my, you really are turned on, aren't you?"

B'Elanna could only moan her agreement.

"So tell me, B'Elanna, just how long do I have to torment you before you react?"

Apparently not long because B'Elanna's reaction was to push a laughing Annika back towards the bed with a frustrated growl. Once Annika was lying on the bed, B'Elanna took a hold of Annika's shirt and ripped it open, sending buttons flying everywhere.

"Hey careful, with the wedding clothes," Annika said between fits of laughter.

"Why? Do you want to wear them again?"

"Never. I married for life," Annika said as she beckoned B'Elanna closer.

B'Elanna crawled up Annika's body until she was sitting on her hips. She hooked a finger onto the bit of fabric that held the two cups of Annika's bra together and looked at those blue eyes.

"Go on," Annika urged, smiling when B'Elanna actually needed three tried to rip the surprisingly strong fabric.

Once she had freed Annika's breasts, B'Elanna took a moment to merely look at her wife.

"What? You don't approve?"

"I approve; you know I do," B'Elanna was quick to say. "You know how I like looking at your body; you teased me often enough with it. You are beautiful Annika. I, I just can't believe that this is actually happening that you are m..."

"That I'm yours?" Annika finished. She took B'Elanna's hands and placed then on her now exposed breasts. "Believe it, B'Elanna. I'm yours, all yours. And just for the record,"


"You had to wait until now because I wasn't ready to make love to you; but now I am. Which means..."

"Which means?" B'Elanna asked, knowing that Annika had stopped only so that she could ask.

"Which means that you better get used to saying 'good idea' when I say that I'm going to bed because I sure won't announce that I'm going to 'bed' when I'm actually going to sleep. When I plan to go to sleep I'll say just that; that I'm going to sleep. Catch my drift?"

B'Elanna moved down Annika's body a little and leaned forward, capturing one of Annika's nipples between her teeth. "Oh, I caught something alright," She mumbled around the sensitive bud in her mouth. She moved her hand to capture Annika's right breast before letting go of the nipple of her left breast and capturing that one in a hand as well. She started to softly mold the surprisingly firm flesh and used her thumbs to roll the nipples around. "Annika Hansen, my most beautiful and wonderful wife, I thought I'd inform you, I'm going to make love to you right now. I ain't letting you leave this room until tomorrow morning."

Annika pulled B'Elanna closer and once more moved her hand into B'Elanna's pants, easily taking back control with that singe move. "Really, you aren't letting me out of this room? Then what if I get thirsty?"

"I'll get you a drink," B'Elanna managed to say before she had to close her eyes as Annika's fingers found their target.

"And when I get hungry?" Annika asked with a wicked smile.

"I'll get you... you s... something t... yes, right there... to eat," B'Elanna stammered as fingers started to move.

"And when I have to use the bathroom?"

"I'll," It took a few seconds before the new question actually registered with B'Elanna. She opened hey eyes and looked down at the blonde that seemed to have a mean streak a light-year long. "I'll let you do that all by yourself. But that's the only reason why you're leaving this room."

Annika looked B'Elanna in the eyes, making sure to have a clear contact before she moved her hand a little lower and slowly slipped one finger into the warmth that was B'Elanna. The feeling almost blew Annika away. Not the physical one of entering B'Elanna's body, though that was great too. No, it was the emotional feeling. The way she was looking straight into B'Elanna's unguarded soul. It was as if she was entering B'Elanna's soul at the same time as her body. For the first time in her life, Annika was looking into the eyes of someone that had opened herself completely to her. The feeling was overwhelming for her and she could feel tears escape from her eyes. "I love you, B'Elanna. I love you so much it hurts."

B'Elanna took a moment to softly kiss the tears away before caressing Annika's face. "I love you too, Annika. There have been times before where I thought that I was in love, but it's you that taught me what being in love truly feels like. Before I met you I didn't know that just being looked at could feel better than having sex. That just holding a person could make me feel more content than getting back home ever could."

"I am home," Annika whispered. "When I'm with you, I'm home."

B'Elanna took Annika's face between her hands and spent a long moment looking into those blue eyes that were telling her even more than Annika's words already were. She wanted to say something, but she didn't know how to convey the depth of feelings she had for her wife. But then she saw that words weren't needed. Annika smiled; then the smile disappeared for a moment only to come back with even more force and filled with delightful wonder.

Annika moved her finger, producing a small whimper from B'Elanna. "I'm going to make love to you now, my wife. You will be the first person I ever make love with instead of having sex. I'm glad that you're my first."

B'Elanna sat back up, moving against the single finger deep inside her. She slowly started to rock her hips against her wife's hand and pleaded with a shaky voice filled with barely contained passion, "Love me, Annika."

And Annika did.

"I think what bothers me is the huge potential of inflation," Jetur said thoughtfully. "I'm not worried about losing the slaves since, according to this proposal, we won't lose them. Under this proposal the workforce stays on, they are just named differently."

"Meaning?" Ro asked as she lifted the bottle of wine to ask in that way if the others wanted a refill as well; all three women did. It was late in the day and a few glasses of good wine were just the thing for an evening filled with pleasant conversations. Oh, they weren't negotiating yet, that stage would come when Torres arrived the next day. But that didn't mean that they couldn't talk about what they thought, about things they knew would be problem areas in the negotiations.

"Meaning," Jetur continued. "That in the short run this is actually good for business. After all, existing companies don't lose their work force and they can go on as they have been while at the same time countless opportunities are opening up for new businesses besides that. Now someone with a business idea needs that idea, and enough credits to buy the slaves needed to turn that idea into reality. But if slavery ends all they need is an idea, and enough credits to at least pay the first month of wages.

"After all, if their business doesn't work out they are proclaimed bankrupt. The long contract agreements will then be terminated because bankruptcy is one of the few exceptions in which long contract agreements can be terminated before they expire. At the moment someone will need at least one hundred thousand credits to start even the smallest of businesses, if that business needs more workers than just the person that starts the business. But if slavery ends anyone with an idea can try their hand at creating their own business.

"There will be a lot of people that will try and some ideas will certainly work. So in the short run the economy will actually get stronger. But here comes the 'but' part. As Torres says herself in the footnotes, she expects that eventually the 'wages' of the former slaves will get higher. They may start with only food and a place to sleep, but there is bound to come a time where the then former slaves will make as much as any other average free worker. More wages means that the employers of those former slaves will have to ask more credits for their products to actually make a profit. More credits for products eventually means more wages have to be paid to all. In the long run this will lead to the devaluation of the credits."

Jetur indicated the half empty bottle of wine that Ro had just placed back. "That bottle of wine was complementary of the best wine maker on Bajor. In the stores that bottle goes for about five hundred credits. If that wine maker actually had to pay the people that pick the wine flower grapes normal wages, that bottle would probably cost twice as much."

"And that is the reason why I let her do the numbers," Ro said amused.

"You have a very valid point," Deanna countered, enjoying the fact that she could 'what if' with someone that seemed to actually like the numbers thing just as much as she did. "But fact is that people that earn credits also spend them. If former slaves get paid wages they will eventually also have to pay rent for a place to live and credits for food to eat. After all, the business owners are already paying them credits, why should they also pay them in goods? That point is bound to come as well; where business owners will go from 'paying' with food and boarding to paying only credits and actually asking some of those credits as rent if the former slaves want to live in the former slave houses. That means that there are more credits around to be spent.

"True, because the wine maker has to pay more wages he makes less profit per bottle, but because of the fact that more wages are being paid, there are more people that can buy wine and he sells more bottles of wine. If he makes fifty percent profit on a bottle now, he may only make twenty-five percent in the future, he sells twice as many bottles, still giving him the same net profit at the end of the year."

"And that is why I let her do the numbers," Jadzia said with a little wink in the direction of Deanna, repeating the words Ro had spoken before.

"That may be true," Jetur agreed, also enjoying the 'what if.' "But then there are also added costs. Again the wine maker, he has ten slaves now. But to produce more wine so that he can actually sell more bottles to pay for those ten former slave's wages, he actually has to hire ten more former slaves. This means that now he has twenty people for which he as to pay wages, and he might even have to buy more land to grow more wine flower bushes on. Now, granted, I can agree to the fact that even if he has to pay more wages and hire more people, the offset of more sales will eventually reach the point where he makes just as much profit as he does now.

"But the point is, if he also has to buy that land, and maybe buy more equipment to be able to make more wine, he will have to take out a loan. A loan that not only will cut into his profits again because of interest he has to pay, but also will mean commitments that he would not have had to make otherwise. For all we know he is debt free now, maybe he is proud of the fact that the family business that he inherited from his parents hasn't had any debt for decades. And now he is forced to invest or go bust. Not a lot of people will take kindly to that. It could spark unrest, unrest that we must see to prevent before it even starts."

"She has a point," Jadzia agreed.

"We could work with grants of sorts," Ro suggested. "If they can prove that they need the credits, the government will loan it to them at very low, or even no, interest rates. Of course, I don't have to add that we would incorporate the necessary safeguards to make sure that those credits are really used only for that. This will have an advantage that other businesses that actually can pay the wages, but don't have the credits to expand, or businesses that don't have that many slaves now; all could use the system to upgrade their production process also, which would benefit the economy as a whole."

"Can't do that," Deanna said thoughtfully while shaking her head. "But you might be on the right track; it would just need a different color of paint. See, if you take credits out of the government accounts and just give it way, we would lose a lot of credits which would result in there not being enough credits to do other things. Just think of now, with all the plans you have for Bajor, to suddenly take out the part Kira always took for herself. Just imagine the projects you would have to scrap, and even more importantly, your approval mummers. 'Thanks' to Kira's reign your approval rating are some of the highest the Coalition has ever seen in its existence. How much do you think that people will still cheer you when you suddenly tell them 'sorry, we don't have the credits to do that after all.'"

Jetur cringed at the suggestion. "I really like doing things from the position we are in now. Even the people that are negatively affected by plans we have are more than happy to help because they know that, yes, they might be negatively affected, but their friends and family will be affected in a positive way. What would you suggest instead?"

"Tax cuts. Don't give them grants but give them tax cuts."

"Isn't it the same thing?" Ro asked. "Either way, its credits that don't go into the government accounts."

"Not if you give people the tax cuts out of the credits they will actually have to pay at end of the tax year."

"I think I understand what you mean," Ro said thoughtfully. "Yes, because we will get less revenue in taxes, we will have fewer credits to spend. But the point is that those are credits we never had to begin with. All the plans we have now are already in process, funded, and therefore won't be affected. What might be affected is that next year we can do fewer things, but the point is that since nobody knows what plans we have next year, they don't know that the program they would have benefited from has been cut.

"We are still cutting, but we don't have to tell one single person that their program has been cut. And the thing is that the tax cuts are individual and therefore a business doesn't have to take out a loan. If a company has to pay, say, one-hundred-thousand credits in taxes, but they have a plan that will cost them fifty, then they only have to pay fifty in taxes and the other fifty they can use for the expansion. They don't have to take out a loan for those fifty because those are credits they already have, just that normally they would have to give them to our governments at the end of the tax year."

"Which will still leave people complaining about the fact that even though we didn't tell what we would have used the credits for, there are still fewer credits coming into the government accounts," Jadzia pointed out.

Suddenly Ro snapped her fingers and pointed a finger at Jetur with a smile. "I don't know how our friends here will bring it, but the best thing for us is that we can actually openly use that to improve our popularity even more."

"How would you do that?" Jadzia asked. If all her time as several different Intendants had taught Dax something it was that the fact that telling people that there were less credits to spend did certainly not make you more popular.

Ro put on her best 'speaking to the masses' voice and spoke with clear enthusiasm for a plan she was unveiling, "It is therefore that we have decided that companies should be able to use this opportunity to grow. It pleases us to announce that, with the right approval, companies can use the credits they saved to pay this year's taxes instead to invest in their businesses. We will not burden businesses with loans they have to pay back; all business need to do is prove that the credits were used to expand their business."

"Ooh, nicely put," Jadzia agreed. "Hearing that, businesses will scramble to come up with plans to spend the tax credits on expansions instead of just handing it over, and almost all of them will listen over the 'with the right approval' part. Making sure that only enough plans are actually approved to not really hurt the economy with a lack of tax credits; it is after all easy to install restrictions."

"Told you that she could do the Intendant thing by herself soon," Jetur said proudly.

Ro took hold of Jetur hand and placed a soft kiss on her knuckles. "Never. I want you at my side at all times. Besides, you could do the Intendant thing by yourself right now already."

"Well, there are a few parts where it is really handy to have you around and do them for me," Jetur said with a smile. Both of them knew that she was talking about the things that Jetur couldn't bring herself to do; like the execution orders.

The first time Jetur had received one of those padds the realization had truly hit home for her. That with nothing more than a thumb print to a padd, she could kill someone. Just the idea, just imagining putting her thumb to that padd, had made her ill to the point of actually vomiting. Since that day Jetur had never again seen an execution order, even though she had seen a report a week before noting that the renovation of the prime prison had begun since the execution cells had been 'freed up.' It had proven two things to Jetur. First, that Ro was keeping her promise of making Jetur's problems go away. Second, that it was actually possible to love a person you already love more than life itself still more with every passing day.

"What I'm actually wondering about more at the moment is what we personally think of the proposal of getting rid of slavery." There was a long moment of silence after Jadzia had said this, none of the others really wanting to be the first to give their opinion. Finally it was Deanna that spoke up.

"I think that the whole idea of turning the slaves into long contracts is what might actually give this a chance. We need those people; we need that workforce. I alone have almost two hundred slaves just to take care of my homes and other stuff directly linked to me, and that isn't even counting the two hundred slaves on my ship up there, or the thousands that work in factories and businesses that I own. Having said that, for us Betazoids it would be such a relief if jobs were simply jobs that people can apply for and want, and not forced into.

"As you know, we Betazoid can feel the emotions of the people around us. Can you imagine having to walk through a factory and feel the hate, depression, and resentment of all the slaves there? That's the sole reason why we normally always hire people of another species to be the floor managers that take care of the slaves while we stay in the offices. But things get a lot harder with the personal slaves. Just imagine having a sex slave and you can feel how much they hate it when they have to serve you. That is why we Betazoid actually already now have meetings with slaves before we buy them.

"There are a lot of slaves that don't mind doing the job they do, or that actually like what they are doing. For private use, we already now select slaves on them wanting the job. So for us that wouldn't really change if it became free to apply for jobs. In fact, it would become easier. We no longer would have to see maybe a hundred slaves to find that one that wouldn't mind being that personal slave, instead maybe only ten people would apply for the job, but the point is that all ten of them actually want that job.

"We would get more choice while having to see less people. Where before we would have had to see a thousand slaves to find ten to choose from, now those ten people come to us. Nobody, not even I as Intendant, actually ever went through the process of going to look at a thousand slaves just to find a few to actually have a choice of physical differences as well. No, normally it's a matter of walking past the slaves until you come across one that you can feel wouldn't mind doing the job and you go, 'Yes, finally one I can take.' You just accept the fact that he or she actually doesn't have the hair color you wanted or is much shorter, simply because at least they actually want to do the job. For instance, I can tell you that I actually had to look at more than two hundred sex slaves to find the sex slave I now have."

"You have a sex slave?" Jetur interrupted as her eyes drifted back and forth between Deanna and Jadzia.

"Why, yes." Seeing the drifting eyes, Deanna added with a smile, "Both Jadzia and I sometimes want something else than a woman. I have a male sex slave that I very happily share with Jadzia. Whenever she or I want that something else we call on his services. And let me assure you, he loves his job. Which brings me back to the point. When he is serving me..." A wink to Jadzia. "...Or us, I can feel his emotions. I can feel how much he is enjoying the act of having sex with me, us, or Jadzia."

"But feeling the emotions of a slave that doesn't want to be there at that moment would certainly ruin the mood, big time," Ro said in understanding.

"Right. The thing is, I really would have liked to have a blonde sex slave, but all the blonde ones I looked at were... not suited. I ended up with a black haired one. Oh, I wouldn't trade him in now, he knows way too good what Jadzia and I like and I wouldn't want to lose that by having to train a new slave, but if it was a job that people could apply for, the chance of there also being a blonde person between them would have been actually bigger with only ten people applying for the job. So, to come down to the point, I don't think that there will be that much objection from the Betazoid faction. Mostly just worries about people that are wondering about the work force they have, and how hard it will be to get new workers later on. Which are things I will have to find exact answers for."

"If you don't mind me asking, how do you make sure that your sex slave loves his job?" Jetur asked.

Deanna lifted an eyebrow and asked amused, "You wouldn't enjoy it if you could have sex with me, or Jadzia?"

Hearing the question, Jetur started to blush a very nice shade of red.

"You walked right in to that one, my beautiful wife," Ro said amused as she put her arm around Jetur and pulled her against her.

"Actually," Deanna relented, "I took a lesson from Torres there. She believes in rewarding slaves if they did something very good. That's what Jadzia and I do with him. He serves us, very, very well, and in return we let him enjoy his services to us, if you know what I mean."

"Yes, I know what you mean. No further explanation needed thank you very much," Jetur said, making the other women laugh.

"Did you know that I actually was a slave once?" Jadzia asked Ro and Jetur, since of course Deanna knew. "Well, I mean, Dax was a slave once."

"No I didn't know that," Jetur said surprised.

"Oh, yes. In fact, Dax is a little more than three hundred years old. Dax was just joined with his first host for a couple of months then the Sol Empire conquered Trill. Dax actually lived through the entire occupation as a slave. In a way Dax was lucky, because Dax was bonded the host of that time wasn't used as a sex slave, but instead was put to work in the archives, where I worked for the entire occupation. Three hosts spent their entire life in the archives because on turn they were joined with me. Now you can probably understand why I have such a hatred for any kind of archiving, and why I like it so much that Deanna here actually loves playing with numbers."

"But if you were a slave yourself, how can you feel comfortable about having slaves yourself now?"

"It's a force of habit really. See, my first slave was given to me right after Trill was freed. Former Sol masters of that time weren't killed or anything, if it could be prevented. No, if killing them could be prevented we kept them alive and then a lottery was held between his or her former slaves as to who would get the former master as a slave. I won. I loved the fact that I could order him around, that now I could beat him just like he had beaten me. When he died four years later, not by my hands I might add, my hatred for the humans and those that helped them were still strong. I still felt that they had to pay for what they did to us.

"For one-hundred-fifty years I had lived in a two room 'home' whenever I was not working, and was told time and again that those were 'privileged' quarters and that the other slaves didn't have such an easy life as me. I hated them; boy did I ever hate them. So, I got myself more slaves, more people I could repay for what they did to us, what was done to me. By that time I had become the Trill Intendant and I had the credits to buy more slaves; I did. For some years my focus was on getting as many slaves as I could, just so that I would now let them live in small rooms. I wanted them to feel what it was like to be a slave. Over the years the hatred became less and they became a workforce. A workforce I was used to having."

"But?" Deanna asked, knowing her friend and lover more than enough to know that there was a 'but.'

"But, those people that are now sold as slaves aren't the ones that beat me with a pain stick because I wasn't learning the archive work fast enough. The people that are now sold as slaves are nothing more than people that have the bad fortune of being born into the wrong species. Be born as a Trill, Bajoran, Betazed, Klingon, Bolian... any of over a hundred species and you can live your life as you want, as long as you stick to the laws. But be born as a Human, Vulcan, Tellarit, Denobulan, Ktarian, or Gorn, and you will spend your entire life as a slave."

"So you wouldn't mind supporting the deal?" Jetur asked.

"If Torres can prove the benefits to me so that I can prove them to others, no. There are actually still several hundred thousand symbionts alive that have experienced being slaves themselves. While some of them might still hold a grudge, I think that most will agree with me that maybe it really is time to move on. They will remember their own life as a slave, and agree that we shouldn't punish the children of children's children for what grandparents did. That would be a strong voice of support in my corner since the older the symbiont, the more respected it is."

"That makes me curious," Jetur said. "If you don't mind me asking, just how old can a symbiont get?"

"Would you believe me if I told you that I have no idea?" Jadzia asked amused.

"I... would be surprised," Jetur said with a smile.

"Well, it's the truth. I really have no idea. In the entire Trill history, or at least the history I know of, heard of, read, and all that, there isn't a single reported case of a symbiont dying of old age. I can tell you that the oldest recorded symbiont age was nine-hundred-four standard years. See, the thing is, the symbionts are very fragile. If a host dies and the symbiont isn't taken out of the body and placed into a new body in a very short time, the symbiont will die as well. Sooner or later there will come a moment where a host dies in an accident, or is killed, or... a number of ways that a host can die without the symbiont being able to be removed from the dead body within time.

"The only way the time between hosts can be prolonged is if the symbionts are taken out of the dead body and placed in a special liquid that is only found in certain caves on Trill. The chances of getting that liquid in time are actually smaller than finding a new Trill host." Jadzia was quiet for a moment before she added, "In a way I'm actually glad. I have no delusions of 'eternal life' I know that even the lifespan of a symbiont is limited, just that we have no record of what it is. But I have no concept of how 'old' I am. I'm the seventh host to Dax. Will I be the last? Will there actually be a hundred after me? And the best thing is, besides that I still get to live lives from beginning to end. I have had children. I have been a grandmother, and a grandfather. I have been a husband, and a wife. I have been used as a slave, and I have used slaves."

"What about you?" Deanna suddenly asked while looking at Jetur and Ro. "What do you two think about ending slavery?"

"Well, I'm actually for the ending of slavery for two reasons," Jetur said right away. "First, I love the fact that I can make choices in my life. I chose to align myself with Ro after Kira died. Because of that choice I now am at a place where I never thought I could ever be. I'm married to a wonderful wife, and I'm Intendant of the Bajoran sector. I'm free to make choices in my life and live with the results. Slaves don't have choices, save one. They either do or die. I think that everyone should be free to decide what they want to do with their life."

"Then that is the position we will take," Ro said simply.

"Just like that?" Deanna asked surprised.

"Just like that. Adami and I have a deal, if something really doesn't matter to one of us; we take the position of the person that it does matter to. Frankly, the position of the slaves doesn't matter to me because I can see pro's and con's to both sides. To keeping them as slaves, and to freeing them. Since it doesn't matter to me, we take Adami's position of being in favor of freeing the slaves."

"Effective," Deanna said amused before asking Jetur, "You said you had a second reason?"

"I do. In one word; history. Every species I know, all of them, have had a period in their history where there was a faction on their planet that grew out to be so strong that it could dominate the other factions on the planet and used people from those weaker factions as slaves. Empires like that have existed on every single Coalition planet. Where are they now? Every Empire that relied on slaves sooner or later fell."

Jetur gestured to Jadzia with her hand. "Where is the Egenk Empire? It fell over three thousand years ago." A hand gesture to Deanna. "Even you Betazoids had slaves before. Ten thousand years ago the Lonse dynasty fell because the slave system collapsed and the economy with it. Or more recently. The Sol Empire. Powerful, undisputed. Rulers that had the power to conquer whole planets. Where are they now? They fell because they relied on slaves. If we continue to use slaves, I see a time coming where the Coalition will fall and we all will once again be ruled by people that will be in charge until they themselves fall once more."

"How do you know about the Lonse dynasty?" Deanna asked surprised. "Even I had totally forgotten about them. It's, a time of our history that we aren't too proud of and in most learning texts it's reduced to a small footnote, if even that."

"I looked it up. Actually, I was looking up something about the economics of slavery when I saw something called 'the collapse of the soft currency market' and it dealt with how some Empires and governments had fallen because of problems with 'soft currency,' better known as slaves. Things went from there, my research that is."

"She can be 'a bit' focused on research," Ro said amused. "She finds it interesting to see if she can discover more things, like she is solving a puzzle."

"Here is another thing all of those fallen systems had in common," Jetur said, not disputing her wife's words since they were totally true. "A threat came to the system and at the moment the system really needed the slaves the most to do the grunt work, the slaves revolted. Actually giving the system even more trouble; trouble they couldn't deal with because suddenly they had to fight an internal conflict as well as an external.

"If we continue to use slaves and there will ever come a serious threat to the Coalition, you can be damn sure that no matter what the threat is, the slaves will work with it and try to sabotage us. But, if those same people are free people, free people that are working against that threat to protect their homes... the Coalition will stand twice as strong as it does now. If it is an armed conflict, slaves will actually work slower; as slow as they can without being killed. Free people will work harder to protect their homes. Where a group of slaves would be able to build one space ship in a month, the same group, but free, will build two space ships."

"A valid point," Jadzia agreed. "Speaking from my own history, that is exactly what I did. Yeah, I had to work or else get beaten, but if I had actually worked because 'I' wanted to, because 'I' wanted to get the job done, I could have done twice as much as I did."

"What I wonder though," Deanna said thoughtfully, and changing the subject slightly. "Is who Torres got to write that proposal for her. Having so much detail in it, it's just not her. In fact, the whole wording of the thing doesn't sound like her."

"True," Jadzia agreed. "Deanna and I have seen enough proposals from Torres to know her style, and that proposal isn't her style."

"I think it sounds like Seven," Jetur said thoughtfully. "Some of the suggestions she made in the plans we had for Bajor sounded just like that. Don't you agree?" That last was asked while looking at Ro.

"Seven?" Jadzia asked.

"Oh, Sorry. Seven is,"

"Torres' body slave, we know. I just didn't know that you were on a first name basis with Torres' body slave."

Jetur didn't answer but once gain looked back at her wife. Ro, as former captain of the Special Forces, was much better at reading the tone of a casual remark than she was. This was actually something that had surprised Jetur, since she was better at politics, which was full of casual remarks that one shouldn't take so casual. Seeing the slightest of inclination of Ro's head, Jetur knew that her wife was telling her that is was alright to take a chance. Looking back to Jadzia she said, "Actually, we are. We consider her a friend who we, I, owe a debt that I don't think I'll ever be able to repay."

"Really?" Jadzia said while crossing her arms.

For a moment Jetur thought that admitting that Seven was a friend had been a mistake. That was until she was the amused look passing between Jadzia and Deanna.

Deciding to take a little bit of a chance herself, Deanna asked, "Did you know that Jadzia and I were actually guests at the little birthday party of our friend Seven?"

"Really?" Jetur asked, also crossing her arms, but her relief was plain to see.

"Oh yes," Jadzia agreed with her lover. "In fact, I have to admit that we were a little surprised when Torres suddenly contacted us to ask if we were interested in coming to a birthday party. You should have seen the look on Seven's face when she realized that the little get together was actually meant to celebrate her birthday."

Suddenly Deanna laughed and asked, "Remember how Torres..."

Chapter 14

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