Alternate Consequences
By H.W.


Chapter 15

Martok growled in frustration before giving the doctor some last orders and then turning to leave as well.

Meanwhile Seven had reached the turbolift and seconds later the doors opened and she stepped onto the bridge. She didn't care about the stares; she was used to them by now from the times Torres had sent her to the bridge for several different reasons. Seven stepped right up to the captain and addressed him in the normal manner. "Captain Tarch, I bring you an order from the Intendant. The Intendant has told me to tell you to break orbit and start scanning the entire sector for recent ship activity."

"I don't think so," Tarch said with a snare. He had never liked how the blonde slave would come and tell him to do stuff, but he had put up with it because he had known that those orders had come from the Intendant, but now he knew better. "I'm not going to listen to some slave telling me what to do."

"You will not?" Seven asked coldly. "May I remind you that not following the Intendant's orders has the most severe consequences."

"And we both know that this order didn't come from the Intendant. Now, get off my bridge before I throw you off."

While Tarch had said those last words the Turbolift had opened again and Martok had stepped onto the bridge; hearing the last sentence.

"Is there a problem here?" Martok asked as he stepped closer.

"I informed Captain Tarch of an order from the Intendant, and he refuses to follow it," Seven stated simply.

"And we all know that it's crap. The Intendant can't have given that order because we know that she is comatose. I'll be damned before I will follow the order some slave thought up."

"I see. Yes," Tarch heard Martok say, and he straightened up a little. He was glad that the General of the Klingon Security Department seemed to agree with him. Images of a promotion danced in front of his eyes. Maybe he would even get the command over one of the more important Klingon fleets. That was until the rest of Martok's words registered.

"Yes, you are right. Damned you will be. Captain Tarch, you are hereby accused, tried, and convicted of the Capital Crime of not following an Intendant's orders. The date of your execution will be determined by the Intendant at a later date. Martok pointed at two of the other crew members on the bridge. "You and you take this, person, to the brig." The choosing of the two crew members seemed random to the others on the bridge, but it wasn't. Martok had informed Torres years ago that he had two of his operatives working in the senior staff, and Torres had agreed that it wasn't that bad of an idea to have the Security Department keep an eye on the senior crew of the ship that was basically Torres' home. While the screaming, former, captain was dragged into the turbolift, Martok looked around the bridge and asked, "Anyone else have a problem with following the Intendant's orders?"

The others were smart enough to not speak up and instead focus all their attention on their work.

"Good," Martok said before turning to Seven and asking, "And just what were," a pause, "the Intendant's orders?"

"The Intendant has ordered the ship to break orbit and start scanning the sector for any recent ship activity."

Martok looked at the second in command on the bridge. "You are now promoted to Captain, make the Intendant's orders happen."

The second in command nodded her head and took the Captain's chair. "You heard the orders; do it." Then the she hesitantly turned the chair around to face Martok and Seven. "General, ma'am. We are orbiting Bajor, that scan is bound to come up with hundreds, if not thousands or ship's activities. Warp trails only start to disappear after twelve hours, in the last twelve hours so many ships will have flown through this sector that it will be impossible to see a difference unless you wait and see warp trails haven't disappeared yet in twelve hours."

Hearing that the tone of the now Captain Var'Ck was only informative, and not suggesting that the task was not worth trying, Seven nodded her head. "Start scanning and transfer the information to the tactical panel, I will bring the number down to an acceptable choice."

Var'Ck let her eyes drift to Martok for a second because she knew that this command was something none of them could pretend that it came from Torres because the blonde hadn't left the bridge or even pretended to contact sickbay. Seeing the small nod Martok gave, Var'Ck knew that it would be good for her health to simply follow any order the blonde gave. She turned the chair around while shrugging mentally. That was fine with her. She didn't have a problem with following the blonde's orders; it had just landed her a huge promotion.

Meanwhile Seven walked over to the tactical station. "Please move to a different station," Seven asked politely, knowing that despite the urgency of the situation she couldn't just tell people to get lost. Seven looked at the active scan and saw that there were indeed over one thousand warp trails to be seen. Looking over to Martok, she asked, "General could you please come take a look?"

As Martok joined Seven he was confused when he heard the blonde say, "You will be able to see better from this side of the console." Martok was even more confused when he went where Seven and suggested and could actually see less of the screen. Then all became clear to hem when suddenly Seven used her assimilation tubes to access the computer.

"I do see," Martok said. Indeed understanding that the real reason he was standing there was to block the others from being able to see what the blonde was doing. Mere seconds later warp trails started to be removed from the scan. "Process of elimination?" Martok guessed.

"Yes. These warp trails are already showing signs of degradation, they are the easiest to discard." Within a few minutes the 'process of elimination' had slowed down from removing several hundred every minute to removing only a few every minute. Finally, thirty minutes later, only three trails were left. "There were five more trails that could be of interest, and it would be wise to have ships intercept them just to be sure, but these three stand out because they are created at exactly the same time, my guess is down to the last second."

"Like someone had three ships waiting and sent them off at the same time so that the first people that could respond, us, can only follow one ship." Martok said in understanding. "Guess he made a big mistake then. There might be a Bajoran holiday going on, but they still have ships in space ready to go."

"I do not think this was a mistake from him. His mistake was to underestimate me. He does not have to worry about the Bajoran ships because the Bajorans might have good strong multipurpose warships; the downside of those ships is that they are the slowest of all the factions. I am certain that all three ships are of a type that can easily outrun the Bajoran war ships. The only ship he really has to worry about is this ship because it is the fastest ship in Coalition space, with the exception of Voyager now."

"But your friends are too far way to be any help in getting this guy," Martok added, knowing that it would take Voyager over three days to get to their location from their current location. "Which leaves us with the choice of which ship to follow." Martok thought about that for a moment while pulling his beard thoughtfully. "You know, it's the most obvious choice, but I would pick the one that is clearly running directly for Romulan space. Sure, it's so obvious that you are almost certain that it can't be him, that he is smarter than that, but since those other two ships are actually moving further into Bajoran space I would say that we can leave those to the Bajorans to hunt down. Those ships might be faster than the Bajoran's, but since they are moving into Bajoran space, the Bajorans can call in ships from different directions and surround the two ships."

"I agree," Seven said. "Especially since I have a feeling that he did not realize that we would find the trails of those three ships so quickly. As Captain Var'Ck pointed out some time ago, normally the only way we could have found those tree trails would have been to wait for twelve hours and see which trails would still be active then. That would have meant that he would have gotten an extra twelve hours head start. Even with the speed of this ship it would not have been possible to catch up with him them before he was deep inside Romulan territory and probably already on one of the planets."

"I have a feeling that it will be hard to catch up with him before he enters Romulan space as it is," Martok pointed out. "That is one of downsides to Bajor being so close to Coalition center. You can be in Cardassian, Romulan, Klingon, Betazoid, and Trill territory in only hours directly from Bajoran space."

"Indeed." Seven agreed before looking at the Captain and asking, "Could you please set a course that follows the indicated warp trail? Maximal pursuit speed."

"Yes ma'am. Helm, lay in a course."

Seven couldn't help but smile at the ease with which Captain Var'Ck was following her orders. Sure, the woman would be stupid not to do so; especially after seeing what happened to the last Captain. Captain Var'Ck was a Klingon woman however, and Seven was after all still 'only' a slave. It would have been acceptable if Var'Ck would sneer at the commands, or carry them out without first acknowledging receiving them. Yet here she was, addressing Seven with ma'am. Turning back to Martok, Seven continued their conversation.

"If we have to enter Romulan space, we will. It is not as if the Klingons have ever needed to ask permission to enter Romulan space before."

"True," Martok agreed. "Sometimes it's really convenient to be part of the dominant faction of the Coalition. I kinda like being the biggest Targ on the block and having the others come ask me if they may pass through my territory while I can just walk around anywhere."

Hearing Martok talk about Targs reminded Seven that there was one waiting in their quarters. "General Martok, would you accompany me while I retrieve Toby? He has been waiting for me and my mistress for hours now."

"Sure," Martok agreed, knowing that because of the dampening field around Torres' quarters beaming the Targ to the bridge wouldn't work. Besides, it would give him and Seven a chance to talk without the others hearing them.

Once in the turbolift, Seven continued. "No matter what the political cost, we will capture this man. I promised him that I would kill him if he hurt my mistress, and I fully intend to keep that promise. Beside that, my mistress would never forgive me, nor you, if we were to let the man that killed her escape."

"True," Martok could only agree. "I think it will be a good idea to have a show of force to back up our word though. I already ordered Gowron and his fleet back to Bajor as soon as Torres went missing, he will arrive in one day. After that he will have to catch up to where we are at that time."

"You will need more," Seven said.


"You will need more ships. I would say that you need every ship that will be able to reach the Romulan border within two weeks time. And ships that can not make it in that time still will have to be moved closer to take over the guard duties of the ships that moved to the boarder."

"My rough guess is that we are talking about five hundred ships or so. That's enough for a first wave of a war."

"They will not be needed for a war," Seven said as the doors of the turbolift opened and they stepped into the corridor. "The man that killed my mistress was a hired assassin, I am sure. This means that my mistress will order retribution measures as soon as she is able. Not because she personally was killed, but because the Klingon Intendant was killed. She will hold a personal grudge against the man that killed her, but for killing the Klingon Intendant, she will make the Romulans hurt." Seven closed her eyes before adding what she knew was true. "I am certain that the order my mistress will give as a retaliation will go down in history as the biggest peacetime slaughter in the history of the Coalition."

"And considering that it will be a retaliation for the killing of an Intendant, the others will not interfere," Martok added. With the evolution of medical science the debate of whether someone that was brought back to life had actually been killed or merely wounded had been settled decades ago. Because of that there wouldn't be a single person in the Coalition that would find it strange to have Intendant Torres leading the Klingon retaliation for killing Intendant Torres. Depending on where they lived they might be scared shitless, but they wouldn't find it strange. "I'll give the order as soon as we are back on the bridge."

They reached the quarters and Martok was smart enough to enter a step behind Seven. Even though he had been introduced as 'friend' to Toby and didn't worry about the Targ when he was visiting in Torres' quarters, he was smart enough not to walk into the quarters before Seven or Torres when Toby was still obeying the guard command. Martok stood back and looked at how Seven was greeting Toby, and here he could see how distressed the blonde really was. While she had been acting cool and remote, to the point that one had to wonder if she actually felt worried about Torres, now she was kneeling on the floor and hugging the Targ for dear life. Finally the blonde stood up and Martok pretended not to see her wiping away some tears.

"I want to thank you for your support. I do realize that I overstepped my boundaries today by giving orders which were impossible to pretend that they were coming from my mistress. It was however of paramount important to be as fast as possible."

"I didn't see any reason to step in; I know that it's indeed what Torres would have ordered."

"Do you want to take command of the situation from now on?" Seven asked before looking down at Toby and commanding, "Toby, heel." Letting the Targ know that it was alright to start following her around again.

Martok thought about that for a moment before shaking his head thoughtfully. "No. I will stay at your side to make it clear that you do indeed have full support, and when I have time I will give Worf ongoing reports on the situation, but... One of the reasons why Torres and I get along so well is because we both know that we are good at our job, but would stink at doing the job of the other. You have more insight into Torres' way of thinking than I will ever manage, and you will know what Torres would like to have done. I," Martok stopped talking for a moment while thinking of how to word what he wanted to say. "Nowadays I can normally understand the orders Torres gives, and see the reason, but I still would never have given them."

"Very well, in that case, would you please join me at the view screen?" Seven asked as she walked to the screen Torres normally used in her communications. "Some communications have to be made."

"Sure, but before you do," Martok said, following Seven. "About that... stuff. Do you think it will, well, grow more?"

"I am cautiously optimistic," Seven said slowly. "Assimilation is normally an ongoing process. Seeing that the 'grow' of 'that stuff,' as you call the process, has stopped I do believe what we have now is what the end result will be. Once my mistress wakes up she will be fully healthy again and her normal self, with luckily no external changes to be seen."

"And internally? Or in total, what kind of changes will there be?" Martok asked. "Worf will want to know, and I'm not pretending that he is the only one. I want to know as well."

"Again luckily, only three implants formed. The first is only a basic one time, but permanent, change; the thin metal lair covering her skeleton. This will make it a lot harder for any of her bones to break, but will also mean that for the rest of her life she, just like I, will set off any basic detector we pass through. But seeing that I have not yet seen a person dare to ask if my mistress would like to remove any metal objects and walk through the scanner again, I do not think that this is of any significance.

"The other two implants are more advanced, but are fully automated, and will only need slight monitoring during my mistress' yearly medical exam. One of the implants makes sure that the hormones that my mistress' body produces like adrenalin and testosterone are used more effectively. Because of this she will be approximately fifteen percent stronger, have approximately ten percent faster reflexes, her endurance and stamina will increase by approximately twenty percent, and her need for rest, sleep, will decrease also by approximately twenty percent."

"So in other words, she will be stronger, faster, more active, and need less sleep; kinda like you," Martok surmised.


Martok snorted at the idea despite the situation. "I almost feel sorry for you. You do realize, of course, whom she will turn to in order to work off that extra energy, and since she doesn't need that much sleep anyway..."

"That is something I do not worry about. As you said yourself: 'kinda like me.' Now we will be more matched in that area, instead the sixty/forty we now have."

Martok shook his head with a grin before getting serious and sighing. "I have to tell you, it's good to hear talk like that. I'm worried sick for that damn woman; it's good to pretend that all is going to be fine once she wakes up."

"You do not have to be worried; things will indeed be fine, as soon as my mistress wakes up. And once she had awoken I will personally kill her for being too damn stubborn for her own good."

Martok laughed. "Oh, she will love hearing her own words being used like that. Unfortunately you will have to stand in line; I'll kill her first for not listening to me."

"We could kill her at the same time," Seven offered with a smile.

"Deal," Martok grinned before getting serious again and asking, "Alright, now, tell me about the third implant."

"The third implant, the second advanced implant, controls and creates the nanoprobes. Removing this implant is too dangerous so my mistress will have to live with nanoprobes in her body for the rest of her life. Luckily, as I said before, this implant is automated and does not need continuous monitoring or conscious regulation."

"You told me about those nanoprobes of yours, but I never asked in detail because I considered them part of your body. I still do, but now I have to ask because I know for a fact that Worf will want to know how this affects Torres."

"Not in a negative way, I assure you. The nanoprobes normally have two functions. The second function is that they can be reprogrammed to assimilate a body and turn that person into a drone. Since my mistress does not have the implant that is needed to reprogram nanoprobes, her nanoprobes will never be able to assimilate anything; not even by accident. The primary function of the nanoprobes is to maintain the body. They will heal damage, fight foreign bodies. The result of this will be that just like with me, her bruises will heal in a couple of hours. Small cuts will be healed in a day. When my mistress broke her leg, if the bone had been set and no further medical attention was given, her leg would have been healed in less then a week. She is now also, after me, only the second person in the Coalition that is immune to cellular destabilization attacks. Also, viral diseases will have no affect on her because the nanoprobes will attack and kill the virus long before it can multiply."

"Hmm, about the hormones. Hormones can change people, their looks, their moods. Won't that happen to her since her hormones are regulated?"

"It will not," Seven assured. "The hormones are managed better, but the hormone levels are not changed in the overall picture. A spike of hormones might be needed and produced, but to balance this out the level will afterwards be slightly lower until the hormone level is as it should be. She will be, and will continue to be, physically and emotionally the same person that we know."

"Hmm," Martok said again. "So basically, with those three implants she had become a better, tougher, and more resilient fighter. No wonder she wants to keep the exact extents of your abilities a secret that she only shares with a select few. We Klingons, except for a few individuals, we wouldn't willingly search such changes out because it would be an unfair advantage. There is no honor in cheating. But others... the Ferengi for instance, wouldn't hesitate to use them to create some super army."

"If they were to do so, I would be more than happy to introduce them to some of the means the Borg have thought up to keep their technology from being used against them. Either way, that is theoretical talk that is of no importance now. You," Seven hesitated for a moment, fearing the answer to her question, yet know that it needed to be asked. "You said that Klingons would not search out these changes. Do you think my mistress will hate me for doing this to her?"

"Hate you? I don't think so. In fact, I know she wouldn't. Torres will understand that you saved her life in the only way you could, and she will be thankful for it. Will she resent having to live with the implants? I can't tell you. She didn't search this out. While there is no honor in searching out such unfair advantage, there is also no dishonor in accepting something done to you and dealing with it the best you can. So I really can't tell you which one she will choose. However, I can tell you that she won't love you any less for it."

"Thank you," Seven said, knowing how Klingons disliked saying the word 'love.' "I will see how my mistress feels once she wakes up, but now it is time to contact some Intendants. Computer, request a link with the Bajoran Intendant palace, priority Torres one."

"Link is being established."

"I'm glad that you don't hold this against us," Jetur said. "We feel bad enough as it is that Torres was attacked on our planet. We are still wondering,"

"You can stop wondering," Seven assured. "You supplied all the security you could. In fact, if had you supplied any more security you would have gone against Coalition law. My mistress quoted Coalition Intendant Law Twelve several times to me because she likes the freedom it gives the Klingon Intendant over other Intendants. 'While visiting, the Klingon Intendant may be observed by local security, but at no time may this security be of such level that it can be considered obtrusive. The security of the Klingon Intendant is, and will always be, organized by they Klingon faction itself.' Unfortunately my mistress has a tendency to use that rule to not bother with security instead of how it was supposed to be used; to make sure that the security could be completely trusted."

"Well, in that case, let me assure you that we will offer any support we can. Our ships are already closing in on the two ships you indicated, and those other five ships which you thought that they needed some closer attention are also being targeted. Two have already been stopped and while a preliminary search didn't reveal anything out of the ordinary, the occupants of the ships have been arrested and held until all of this is cleared up. Laren herself is at this very moment leading the investigation on scene. Seven, Laren told me that there are traces of a cellular destabilizor being used. Seven, Torres is she..."

"She is resting, but let me assure you that she will make a full recovery." Seven was quiet for a moment wondering just how much she would tell, but then she remembered the promise she had made herself that she would trust her friends, and also the fact that Jetur and Ro knew more about Seven than most anyway. "Please, for the sake of the investigation, do not share this information with anyone but Laren. A cellular destabilizor was indeed used, and my mistress did indeed die. Luckily some of my... unique abilities, of which you know a few, made it possible for me save her. I assure you, when she wakes up she will be fine." Seven decided not to add that there would be some changes that one couldn't see. Not because she didn't trust her friends with the knowledge, but simply because this was private information about Torres' body and only Torres could decide who she was going to tell such private things about her.

"Prophets, she was killed? This won't be... um,"

"It will not be pretty," Seven said in gross understatement. "There are some unbeneficial combining factors. Not only was an Intendant killed, it was the Klingon Intendant that was killed. For that fact alone there will be severe consequences. On top of that, it is the second Intendant that is killed in a less than a year. My mistress will order actions as retaliation the likes of which have never been seen in Coalition history. She will make is absolutely clear that killing an Intendant is the most stupid thing anyone can do."

"We're talking millions here, aren't we?"

"Double digits, if not even triple," Seven agreed.

"Laren will take this hard. The first Intendant killed, Kira. Laren,"

"Kira was killed by Delik Jetir," Seven interrupted, reminding Jetur of the official line. "If Laren has a problem with," a pause, "how helpful she was to the Klingons during that investigation, just remind her of the plans Kira had for Bajor. Laren's," another pause, "help in that investigation prevented either a civil war, or the killing of as much people as needed for Kira to keep her iron grip on Bajor. This will be a hard lesson for her to learn, it was a hard lesson for me to learn as well, but for an Intendant, be it Klingon, or Bajoran, deaths are nothing but a number. Laren can be assured of the fact that if she had not helped in the investigation in her specific way, the number of deaths could have been even higher, and literally right on your doorstep instead of in the Romulan sector."

"Today is not a fun day to be Intendant, let me tell you that," Jetur said with a look on her face as if she had just eaten something extremely sour. "But, as such Intendant, let me inform you of what has been going on here since this happened. Deanna, Jadzia, Laren and I agreed that with this on her mind, the last thing Torres needed was to think of the negotiations here. We talked it trough and we agreed that we can live with the last offer she made us before... Anyway, just let her know that she and we are in an agreement with the negotiations. We don't know if her plan can still work with the Romulan trouble that's brewing, but we will see. Also let her know that we agreed that we, and our factions, will fully support any and all retaliatory actions taken."

"My mistress will be glad to hear this. As for the retaliatory actions affecting the negotiations, maybe there is actually a way to use this in a positive way. That is also something you can point out to Laren. If she had not done what she has, there would have most certainly millions of Bajorans been killed. Now, things might not turn out as grim as they look right now."

"What do you mean?" Jetur wondered.

"It is still too early to talk about; more so because I have not yet been able to discuss this with my mistress. You will find out more soon, I am certain. As for now, please thank the others for their support."

"I will. Good luck Seven, and my most sincere well wishes to Torres. I'm not just saying that because she is the Klingon Intendant, I really do mean that. She may be a hard bitch, but she is a great person."

Seven gave Jetur a full smile when hearing those words. "Thank you. I will give my mistress your well wishes, with those exact words."

Jetur cringed at that. "Um, could you change the 'hard bitch' for 'tough person' or something?"

"I will see," Then the smile faded. "Thank you for your concern; you are a good friend to me, and a good friend to my mistress. Seven out."

As the screen went blank Martok asked immediately, "What was that about this possibly being used positively?"

"I am merely going over possible outcomes in my head, and depending how just how involved the higher levels of power are, if they are, and how forthcoming the Romulan Intendant is... yes, this can be used positively."

"Care to fill me in?"

"Martok, did you ever wonder why my mistress loves to use chess as an example in conversations, but only plays it with me when she and I are alone?"

"Um, no?" Martok asked confused about the sudden change in subject.

"Because she can never win. Even with the first move she makes, I have all possible counter moves thought out, and the counter moves to the counter moves, and the counter moves to those. At the moment I have contemplated 649 possible outcomes to this situation. 541 of which will end in different amounts of genocide, 108 result in a more favorable outcome. Do you want to hear all possible outcomes? Listed by probability of happening, or listed by most favorable outcome?"

"Forget I asked," Martok said, only to ask a moment later, "How can Torres be around you for more than a day and not go insane?"

"We have had our share of, altercations," Seven assured. "However, I have long since learned to discard any options of which I know my mistress will never agree. For instance, of those 649 possible outcomes, I would only have mentioned three to my mistress, but I can not do that for you because I do not, yet, know which outcomes you would find irrelevant."

Martok nodded his head and was about to say something when they were contacted. "Var'Ck to Intendant Torres' quarters."

Seven lifted an eyebrow at the address. "She knows how to choose her words wisely. Not contacting you, since you have clearly stepped back for the moment, and not contacting me because she does not know how to address me."

"I have been keeping my eye on her for some time," Martok agreed. "In a positive way, I assure you. I have a feeling she will do well as captain of Torres' ship, and won't let it go to her head as that moron did."

"Something to discuss at another time," Seven said, wanting to hear more about the woman. "For now; computer open channel. This is Intendant Torres' body slave. How can I help you?"

"Ma'am, I just wanted to inform you that at the present speed we will be entering Romulan space in one hour, and taking the time of the attack on the Intendant into account, the speed of other fast ships compared to ours, my guess would be that we won't be able to catch up with the ship in less than three or four hours. We'll be well inside Romulan territory by then."

"Understood. Keep going and enter Romulan space. Captain, I am not exactly familiar with the locations of stellar bodies in this part of space. Is there a place that the ship would be able to land before we can catch up?"

"No. The nearest planet will still be four hours after we will be able to catch up. There is, of course, always the possibility that there is a ship waiting for him and he will do a split again, forcing us to choose."

"I doubt it," Seven stated confidently. "In orbit over Bajor, yes. But I am certain that he was a paid individual. Having more ships waiting at places where he might never go to if he might need to change course for whatever reason would be a waste of good credits."

"Alright, we'll keep following. I'll report again when we reach the border."

"Captain," Martok spoke up suddenly. "To simplify communications, you can hail and address Torres' body slave as Seven from now on."

"Yes General. I will do so in the future. Var'Ck out."

"Thank you," Seven said to Martok before looking back that the view screen. "Now it is time to contact a different Intendant. Computer, contact Romulan Intendant Shinze. Authorization, Torres one."

Minutes later they were looking at the frowning face of Intendant Shinze.

"Intendant Shinze, we have a serious matter to discuss," Seven said, only to be interrupted by Shinze.

"Martok, why is this slave talking to me?"

"That slave is Torres' body slave and she is following Torres' orders. So I would suggest that quickly forget the small fact that she is a human."

"She can't be following Torres' orders since Torres is dead, so what's going on here?"

Seven was about to speak up and assure Shinze that Torres was still alive but Martok lifted his hand to stop her from speaking. "One moment, I want to know something first. Shinze, how do you know that Torres was killed?"

Shinze bristled at the fact that Martok was addressing him without using his title of Intendant, but he was smart enough to see it for what it was; a warning. Just because the Klingon Intendant was dead, didn't mean that there wasn't anyone that could give orders that could literally cost Shinze his life. "One of my spies informed me. You really don't think that it would take more than minutes, hours at most, before the other Intendants would find out that another Intendant is killed?"

"Under normal conditions you would be right," Martok agreed. "But these aren't normal conditions. The thing is, Torres was killed, that is correct, but by the time she was found she had already been brought back to life. Even the people that found her don't know that she had been killed, and I know that for a fact because I was heading up the search party. Even the Bajoran Intendant was informed only minutes ago of the fact that Torres had actually been dead for a moment. So, that means that there are only three people that know that Torres had been killed; Torres, her slave here, and the assassin. Tell me Shinze, how can you know things that are impossible for you to know? Did you by any chance hold a grudge against Torres that we don't know about and hired an assassin to kill her so that it couldn't be traced back to you? If that's the case, let me assure you, you did a lousy job."

"That's preposterous. I told you, one of my spies informed me; contacted me thirty minutes ago. Maybe that slave told someone. Who knows, maybe she actually killed Torres to begin with."

"Quite to the contrary," Seven spoke up. "I was actually the one that managed to bring my mistress back to life. Do you really believe that I would be so stupid to do that when I was the one to kill her in the first place? More so since my mistress is about to wake from her rest any minute now and can actually tell people her version of what happened."

"So that brings us back to the point," Martok took over again. "How exactly does one of your spies know Torres was killed when it's impossible for anyone to know that?"

"I have no idea," Shinze was forced to admit. "But I will find out as soon as he arrives."

"Oh, you mean he isn't actually on Romulus?"

"Of course not. He is one of my spies, I told you that, on of the official ones that is. He actually works in the Klingon Main Communication Center."

"You have three spies working there, that we know of. Two of which are women. So that only leaves one 'he' and I now know who it is. I want a word with him. Have him arrested, or hold him, or however you want to bring it. Just don't let him slip away."

"I find that rather strange," Seven spoke up.

"What?" Martok asked.

"General Martok, I have no idea how advanced the training of 'official' Romulan spies are, but I sincerely doubt that they would let amateurs working in the Klingon Main Communication Center."

"Of course not," Shinze spoke up. "We have our best 'official' spies working there. Any more qualified and they would be doing covert missions."

"So we are talking about a highly trained individual," Seven continued. "About a man that must have followed my mistress around waiting for a good opportunity, yet he was never discovered. All his actions at the scene of the crime spoke of a professional assassin, not just a 'mere' spy. As I told you, General Martok, I strongly believe that he had changed his face so to not be recognized. He had three ships waiting above Bajor," Seven was quiet for a moment to give her next words more meaning. "And now all of a sudden he so openly tells Intendant Shinze information that will link the assassination to the Romulans."

"To the Romulan Intendant even," Martok agreed. "You are right, that does seem surprisingly sloppy. Even a moron would realize that if he told Shinze that Torres is dead, that Shinze would talk about it and make us wonder how he can know."

"You don't really think I would do something as stupid like ordering Torres killed, do you?" Shinze spoke up. "You Klingons are troublesome enough to deal with as it is, at least with Torres I know how to deal with her. Who knows what kind of Intendant a new Klingon Intendant would be."

"A valid point," Seven agreed. "Yet the fact remains that my mistress, the Klingon Intendant, would have been killed with all evidence pointing to you. In fact, had we spoken to you at a later time, at a time that was to be expected if we first had to wait the twelve hours to see what warp traces would still be visible after that time, then all you could have said in your defense would have been 'nonsense.' After all, there would have been nothing strange about a spy letting you know that my mistress died."

"Just that she didn't actually stay dead, and that we made some good time," Martok added. "Feel lucky, Shinze. I sincerely doubt that you are really connected to this. But had we been forced to stick to the time plan that this assassin set up, I would have been sure that you were involved."

"Hmm, well, yes. I'm glad that this little misunderstanding has been cleared up. Rest assured we will capture this individual guy and hand him over to you."

"We will continue our pursuit and do the capturing ourselves," Seven stated confidently. "We will be entering Romulan space soon. I would strongly suggest that you keep any and all ships far away from the ship we are following. We do not want it to look as if you are helping someone by pretending to capture him, now do we?"

"I won't be told by a sl,"

"Shinze, don't forget just who's slave this is," Martok reminded. "Torres is still alive, and I have the utmost confidence in the fact that anything this slave does, is exactly what Torres would order. If I were you I would start worrying about what else Intendant Torres will order as soon as she wakes up. Whether you were involved or not, at the moment it seems that a Romulan spy, someone that the Romulan government trained, actually killed the Klingon Intendant. If I were you, I would start wondering about just what kind of retaliation measures Torres will order."

Both of them could actually see Shinze try to swallow when the words truly registered. "I will set a course now to meet up. Maybe it's best if Torres and I speak face to face."

"You do whatever you think is best, just stay away from that ship," Seven said before cutting the channel. She looked at Martok and raised an eyebrow. "Do you think that that last was a little 'too much?'"

Martok shrugged his shoulders at the question. "He knows damn well that Torres will come down on him a lot harder. The best he can hope for now is to seem as cooperative as possible. Like his comment about meeting Torres face to face. Depending on where he is it may take him days or weeks to get to where we will be. I don't think Torres will wait so long to speak to him. And if he really is close enough for a face to face, it won't make any difference and he knows it, but it sure looks cooperative."

"It is interesting, and frightening, to see how this is playing out," Seven said thoughtfully.

"You mean the retaliations for killing Torres?"

"No. That is... actually, that too. Let me come back to that in a moment. What I meant was that my mistress never took security too seriously because she believed that everyone knew that they had nothing to gain, only to lose, by killing the Klingon Intendant. She apparently never thought of the fact that her death could be pawn in a bigger game. The assassin made the mistake of letting me live, apparently believing that I was a perfect witness. He did not know that I had abilities to do something that is for the knowledge of everyone in the Coalition impossible: save my mistress despite how he killed her.

"However, let us assume for a moment that we did not have my abilities. My mistress would be dead, killed by a Romulan. We would have had to wait until we knew which warp trail to follow. By that time he would be long gone, and the Romulans would know about my mistress' death because one of their spies had done an excellent job of retrieving hard to find info. It would never have been noticed that he had this info at a moment that he could not have had it if he had not done the killing himself."

"You are right," Martok agreed. "If it wasn't for you, this would have been the perfect plan. Torres dead, the Romulans blamed for it, and he would actually be hailed at excelling at this job, probably being rewarded by his government."

"Which brings us back to the retaliatory actions. He must know that such actions would come; otherwise why leave me alive to tell somebody that a Romulan has killed the Intendant? Surely as Romulan spy he must at least care some about the Romulan faction. Why kill Torres, knowing that thousands, if not millions of Romulans will be killed for it? While I can believe that someone would underestimate the results and not think of numbers into eight digits or even nine digits, even the most naïve person must have thought about several hundred thousand. Why do that?"

"We will find out when we get him, but you would be surprised how many people there are that couldn't care less about how many will be killed, as long as they profit from it," Martok answered. "That's the difference between heartless and ruthless. Torres is ruthless. She has ordered millions killed, but she did so because she truly believed that it would make the Coalition stronger. That's ruthless. But people like that guy, they are heartless. All they care about is themselves, and you can accuse Torres of a lot of things, but not of only caring about herself."

"True. And talking about my mistress, while we are waiting to catch up to that ship I want to be with my mistress. Do you want to join me?"

"You go right ahead. I'll come by later. Right now I think it's a good time to go to order some ships around and also contact Worf."

"Very well. Please feel free to use this view screen; I will be taking Toby with me."

"You mean I won't have to worry about being used as a chew toy?" Martok asked amused. "Alright, I might as well."

"How is she?" Seven asked as she looked down at Torres.

"Good," The doctor assured. He looked at the Targ that was with the blonde for a moment but decided that it was smarter not to point out that animals really didn't belong in sickbay. "I can wake her up now. In fact, I was about to call you so that you could take a look at the readings of the implants. I learned a lot from you, and from the information your previous doctor gave me, but I don't know if the Intendant's readings should be the same as yours, which they aren't."

"They should not," Seven said as she took the padd the doctor handed her. "The hormone levels and nanoprobes activity will be on a level that is best suited for my mistress' specific body. They should however be between certain limits." Seven added some information to the padd and handed it back. "These readouts are acceptable. I have added the limits to the padd. As long as the levels are between those they are acceptable."

The doctor nodded his understanding and after putting the padd safely away so that he could add the information to the Intendant's file at a later point. He injected Torres with a substance that would wake her up. Having been Torres' personal doctor for two years now, he was totally surprised to see how quickly the eyes opened and Torres became aware of her surroundings. Clearly the implants were making a difference already.

Torres looked around her for a moment and once she had figured out where she was, she put her legs over the side of the bio-bed to sit up straight and merely asked, "Status?"

Seven couldn't help but smile. That one worded question was worth more than a thousand 'I'm fine's. This was Intendant Torres speaking; her B'Elanna.

"I'll go work on some reports," The doctor said while making himself scarce.

Toby put his front paws on the bio-bed beside Torres bringing his head to the perfect height for a chin scratch, which Torres promptly supplied.

"You were killed by a Romulan," Seven started to explain. "Our working theory at the moment is that he is an assassin. The more delicate part is that he is one of the 'known' Romulan spies that work in the Klingon Main Communication Center. My personal guess is that he has a side business of selling information. After all, it is only a small step from selling information to also taking credits for removing someone if the information is not to they buyer's liking. At the moment we are following what we assume is his ship and we will enter Romulan space long before catching up with him. Klingon ships are being ordered closer to the Romulan border as we speak. I assumed that you might need them for," a small pause, "countermeasures."

"Alright. Anything I need to do right now to make things work? Do I have to kick some butt?"

"No mistress. Not at the moment at least. There was a situation where your captain did not want to follow my orders, but Martok had him removed and appointed a new captain. She has been following my orders excellently."

"Alright then," Torres opened her arms and a second later they were filled with the body of a certain former Borg who was squeezing the air out of Torres' lungs with her hug. "Baby, ease up on the vice grip," Torres said, never the less suffering the tight hug gladly.

"I'm going to fucking kill you."

Torres eyes got wider and she pulled her head back trying to look at Seven's face. "Did you just say what I thought I heard you say?"

"I said that I'm going to fucking kill you. And when I'm done killing you, I'll kill you again just to be sure. You are more trouble than you are worth."

Torres closed her eyes as she felt tears dripping onto her shoulder. For as long as Torres had known Seven the blonde had never cried. It was clear to Torres that on this day she had crossed a line. She had hurt the blonde, truly hurt her in a place where it was almost impossible to hurt her; her feelings. It was at that moment that Torres made the most important, and most dangerous, decision of her life. She would never hurt the blonde like this again, no matter what the cost, no matter what the results for the Coalition would be.

It would be only much later, when she was old and gray, that she would realize that this resolve had actually done more good for the Coalition than any Intendant decree could ever have done. One day an old Intendant Torres would look at the loving face of her wife and realize that it had been their bond that had made sure that they, and by extension the entire Coalition, had been able to weather the changes that the two of them would bring.

"I'm sorry baby," Torres said over and over again while all the time holding the blonde in a secure hug. "So sorry. I'm sorry I hurt you, please forgive me."

"You died."

"I know baby. I'm sorry."

"You left me."

"I know baby, I'm sorry. If it's any consolation, they told me at the docks that my time was not to come for a long time yet, unless I got myself killed by my own stupidity again. I promise you baby that I'll learn from this. I won't leave you again, I promise."

It was an impossible promise to keep since neither of them knew what the future would bring, but right then it was exactly the words Seven needed to hear.


Torres' hearts ached when hearing the desperate sound in the single word question. "I promise. With all my heart, with all of my honor. I promise you, my Mate, I will never, ever, leave you again."

"You said that you were at the docks," Seven said after a moment of silence. "This is the second time you referred to being at the docks." As Seven spoke she never stepped out of the hug she and Torres were still sharing.

"Well, that's where I went. I went there and was told that it was not yet my time." Torres decided that right now was not the time to talk about the other things she had been told, but she knew that once things had settled down she and Seven would have a long talk in which she would tell the blonde all.

"Probably a trauma-induced dream," Seven stated. "One moment."

Before Torres could ask what Seven meant with 'one moment' the blonde had stepped out of the hug. She patted Toby on the head for a second before walking around the bio-bed and climbing on it. Once she was stretched out she looked up at Torres and merely asked, "Join me?"

Torres didn't need to be asked twice. She turned and joined her lover. Because of the size of the bio-bed, Torres had to lay half on top of the blonde, but that was alright; they had spent many a night sleeping like this. Resting her head on Seven's chest, Torres sighed. "You know, realistically I would have to agree, that probably was some kind of dream. Unrealistically, I hope it's true. I've been told a few things that I really wish will come true. I'll tell you all about it when we have the time, but suffice it to say that if at least one of the things comes true, I'll be calling you my wife somewhere down the line."

"Really?" Seven asked. She placed a kiss on the top of Torres' head before adding, "I like that idea. Maybe we should not dismiss your dream too quickly."

Torres smiled at that. "Told you. Alright, now that I know that I don't have to be the mean bitch Intendant right this minute, why don't you give me a little bit more detail?"

Seven did, including describing the workings of the implants Torres now had. When she saw how Torres made light of the fact and even was hinting that she wouldn't mind the enhancements at all a great weight lifted of Seven's shoulders. It was when Seven told the Klingon about her promise to kill the Romulan that Torres interrupted Seven for more than just a small question to clear things up. "Wait a minute. Is that why you are so set on getting this guy, because you promised him that you would kill him?"

"Not at all," Seven disagreed. "I am so set on apprehending this individual because I knew you would not want him to get away. However, that does not mean that I will not get satisfaction out of keeping my word."

"Please don't."

"What?" Seven asked confused.

"Seven, I could tell you not to do it. I could pull rank; I am the Intendant after all. I could also remind you of the fact that he may have killed your lover, I'm the one that was actually killed. But I'm not going to do that. I'm merely asking you, please don't. Please Seven, don't become me. You know how to take lives, you did so before, but you did it to protect. You killed to serve a greater good. Please, please, I beg of you. Please don't become like me. Please don't become someone that can, and wants, to kill for nothing more than personal vengeance."

"Do you think it is wrong for me to want to see him hurt, to see him suffer?" Seven asked, wondering if Torres really thought that their feelings were that much different.

"I didn't say that it's wrong to want him hurting, I just don't want you to be the one doing the hurting. It's only normal to want him hurting for what he did; I would be worried if you didn't want that. In your mind you should want him dead, want to chop every limb off his body, or slowly strangle him to death. The point is that this should be in your mind."

"I do now want him to get away with this," Seven said, the both of them knowing that it was only a token protest. Seven knew that Torres was right. She had never wanted to kill anyone in her life, until now, and deep down she also knew that she didn't want to become a person that actually wanted to kill.

"Oh you don't have to worry about that," Torres assured. "The point is that I don't want you to become like me, but Seven," Torres was quiet for a second to give her next words more meaning. "I already am me. Trust me, by the time I'm through with him, he can only wish for a death as nice as you would have given him."

Chapter 16

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