Alternate Consequences
By H.W.


Chapter 7

"We really should do this again," Deanna said as they walked into the transporter room.

"Yes," Jadzia agreed, "Don't be a stranger this time, Torres."

Torres nodded her head in the direction of the door, and was glad to see that the transporter operator got the hind and beat a hasty track. "Well, I wouldn't mind some closer contacts, but you know where to find me as well, like you said; don't be a stranger."

Deanna gave a gentle smile while shaking her head a little. "Torres, if we come to see you, you would only assume that we need something from you."

"Or that you want to give the impression to others that I support whatever it is that you are going to do next, like now," Torres agreed. "Tell you what. Next time you want to come and visit, I'll actually will believe that this is all you want." Torres paused for a moment to give her next words more meaning. "Don't misuse that. If you say you just come to visit and then suddenly ask for my support in something, I would not be pleased."

"We'll keep it in mind," Deana assured. "Now, if you excuse me for a moment." After getting a little nod, Deanna moved to Torres' left until she was standing in front of Seven. "It was good meeting you, Seven. I want you to know that to me you will always be Seven, regardless of whether we are behind closed doors or if we were to meet Torres and you in public."

Seven dipped her head slightly in acknowledgment. "I thank you. I do not have to tell you how much I appreciate the friendship you extend to me; you know how I feel. But I do want to give you an added thank you for assuring Jadzia of the sincerity of my feelings towards the both of you; thank you. I hope that we can stay in contact, even if it is just over a view screen."

"As do I. We just have to find the time. Now, as your friend, let me give you a little free Betazoid service. I know that Torres isn't the best with tender words, but let me tell you, you have stolen her hearts; both of them. Let me assure you, you will never have to doubt her love for you. I have only felt a love this strong a couple of times in my life."

"Thank you for the advice," Seven said with a warm smile, "but I already knew that."

"You two should really stop talking as if I'm not here," Torres growled as she turned away from her goodbye to Jadzia.

"Yes, Intendant," Seven said, the smile never leaving her lips. She moved to Jadzia's side gave her a small nod as well. "I would like to thank you just as much for your friendship, it means a lot to me. Just as with Deanna, I hope that we can stay in contact."

"As Deanna said, we just will have to find the time." Jadzia sighed before continuing in a serious tone. "I have to be honest with you, Seven, I don't have Deanna's mental abilities. All I have is the knowledge of several life times. I assumed that you would be just as the body slave Curzon once had; I am glad that I am proven wrong. I am glad that I had the chance to get to know you, and that you allowed me to become your friend. Just as Deanna, for me you will always be Seven, regardless of where we are."

"Thank you, this means a lot to me."

"Alright, time to beak up this little love fest," Torres said before placing a hand on Seven's shoulder. "Seven, why don't you go back to our quarters already, I have to have a little word with Deanna and Jadzia first."

"Very well," Seven merely said, giving a final thankful look to the other two women.

Once the door closed, the smile left Torres' face and her expression got serious. "I thank you both for the warm welcome you extended to Seven. She told me, once we were alone, how much this meant to her. She is not a talkative person, yet she talked for more than a half hour about how happy you made her. Once again, I thank you for that. I also think that because of that I too can call you my friends, and not just business partners who have to be nice to each other to get what they want.

"But let me give you a word of advice. Seven doesn't understand, yet, that here, in this universe, friends sometimes have to go behind the back of their friends to get what they want. Do that to me, and I might understand and accept why you are doing it. But do that to Seven... if you abuse the trust she gave you, I would be severely, displeased. So much so that would get even with you. I would get even with you so much that for the rest of your then very short lives your back would hurt from where I ripped you your second asshole."

Jadzia actually smiled at the words, though the didn't doubt for one second that Torres meant them. "Now there is the Torres we all know and love so much. I was starting to worry that Seven tamed you."

"Oh, she didn't tame me, she just keeps me busy and therefore I have less time to go and terrorize the people that would do right to fear me."

"Don't worry," Deanna spoke up. "We know that we can't use her. You would know only too well if a suggestion she is making would be coming from her or in reality would be coming from us. In fact, the best way that we can 'use' her is by simply being friends to her. As you said, this makes her happy, and if she is happy, you are happy. A happy Klingon Intendant is much more beneficial to us than one single deal in which we could persuade Seven to help us. But give Seven some credit, Torres. She is a person who knows only too well if someone is using her."

"I'm sure she is," Torres agreed, "but I just want to make sure that we understand each other."

"We do," The two other women said at the same time.

"Having said that," Torres continued. "I meant it, don't be strangers, you are welcome here and on my planet. Be well, the both of you."

A last hug was exchanged and a moment later Torres activated the transporter, beaming her friends to one of their own waiting ships.

Torres walked out of the transporter room and was not surprised to see Seven standing there. "I thought I told you to go to our quarters already."

"No, you did not. You suggested it, you did not actually tell me. You just had threaten my friends a last time, did you not?"

"I just clarified a few things," Torres disagreed.

"So I heard," Seven said with a smile. "If that was clarifying, I wonder what threatening is."

Torres grinned. "Trust me, you don't want to know. Come on, the day is young yet, let's go to our quarters. There I'll have you sent a little message over subspace, then I can tell the captain to get moving to Kronos again, and then we can change into our workout clothing and go to the holodeck for your first bat'leth lesson."

"A message?" Seven asked as she and Torres started to walk down the corridor.

"Yes, you are going to sent your friends a little message to keep their fucking noses out of Cardassian territory, if they want to live longer than a few days that is."

"I see. Yes, a message seems like a good idea."

"Would you mind if I go in first?" B'Elanna asked as they reached the door to the conference room.

"What? Why?" Annika asked. "B'Elanna..."

"Only this time," B'Elanna interrupted. "Everyone on Voyager knows that we are a couple, and I'm glad for that. But today is the first regular senior staff meeting, and if we go in together we will give the impression that we are a team, and not the Captain and Chief Engineer."

"B'Elanna, do you really think those people in there will think that?"

B'Elanna shook her head no. "They might not, but it came into my mind, so it might enter theirs as well. I don't want to take that risk. Today is the only time that you can give a first impression of how you will handle the normal senior staff meeting. Next time we can go in together, but not today."

"You know, I think that you are wrong," Annika lifted her hand to stop B'Elanna from speaking. "But standing here talking about it takes longer than me just walking in there ten seconds after you. So get, I want to get that meeting started."

"Yes ma'am," B'Elanna said with a smile before turning around and walking into the conference room.

Annika shook her head slightly and just to please B'Elanna, she actually waited twenty seconds before walking in herself.

She sat down and shot a small amused look at B'Elanna before looking around the table. There was one thing true about what B'Elanna had said; she could only do this first meeting once. Here was where she would lay down the rules and customs that would be used with other meetings. She knew that she could do this in different ways. She could make it a free for all, where everyone could speak up, make comment, ask question. She also could make it a clear info session in which she would let someone make their story and then only ask the question she came up with. She decided on a middle ground, where people could give their opinion, but where she was clearly in charge.

"Good morning. Since this is the first normal senior staff meeting, I would like to set out a few guidelines for these meetings. I know you probably did this different under Captain Janeway, but the faster you all see that I'm not Janeway, the better. The last senior staff meeting was the one in which I accepted being your captain, but until now we didn't yet have a normal meeting to go over the normal department updates.

"I have read the Starfleet regulation on the regular meetings, and I must say that I'm surprised about how few rules there are, compared with the abundance of rules there are on other subjects."

"Starfleet believes that the senior staff meetings are the perfect place for captains to put their individual stamp on how they captain," Chakotay spoke up. "There are only two real regulations on the subject. One, that at least one regular senior staff meeting must be held every ten days, but it can be held every day, if the captain is so inclined. The second is that all department heads get the chance to give a full report of things connected to their department."

"Right," Annika agreed. "Well, I personally find a meeting every day a waste of time. If something is important enough that it should be mentioned that day, a senior staff meeting can be called then to deal with the problem. So, from now on there is going to be a senior staff meeting every five days. I expect people to be present, except for two reasons. First, if people are doing a job that they have to finish, but in that case I expect a report as soon as the job is finished.

"The second reason is if the person happens to have the day off. I don't expect people to come in of their day off, but on the other hand, I do expect people to keep the meetings in mind when taking time off. Don't take one day off exactly when we have the meeting; I still want you to come in then. But if you are having a few days off; enjoy them.

"Now for the meeting itself. I find myself with the small problem that I, having the background I have, do have engineering focused ideas, but I don't want those things to be done simply because I as captain think it's a good idea. So here is what we are going to do. If there are no pressing matters that have to be discussed first, we will go around the table and everyone will give their report. Once that is done, I will give a report as well. I know, that is not needed, and actually not that common, but I want the senior staff to do things because they know what's going on, and not simply because I tell them to. Things I can't talk about because of my position are excluded from my report, of course.

"Once I have done that, there will be an opportunity for people to bring up things that didn't belong in their department report. I will use that opportunity to offer some suggestions as well, things I have on my mind, and you are free to comment on them, free from the fact that I'm your captain. If you all think that my suggestion is a bad idea, than I will accept that and we will leave it at that. Questions?"

Since there were no questions, Annika gave the word to Chakotay who started to give his report.

An hour and a half later, everyone, including Annika had given their report. Annika was satisfied with how things had gone. She could clearly see that she was dealing with a well worked in team. Of course, she knew that these people were good at their job, but there was something satisfying about seeing them interact. When someone had given his or her report, others would ask pointed questions that either helped the person to see that there are other possibilities as well, or the person could then explain in a little more detail why the made suggestion wouldn't work.

In general they waited for a report to be finished before asking questions, and when they did interrupt it was mostly because something wasn't clear to the person interrupting. Annika liked that. Better to interrupt and ask a clarification than to listen to the whole report and then basically say that you didn't understand a word from it.

No, Annika knew that she had a crew that she could be proud of. And just as importantly, a crew she could trust. They knew what they were doing and there was no need to check if they did things right. Finally, for the first time in her life it wasn't 'I and the others', it was 'we.'

Annika looked at B'Elanna for a moment. Even without the relationship she had with the Klingon, getting assigned to Voyager had been the best thing in her life. In her mind she had only truly begun to live when she set foot on the ship for the first time.

And then there was B'Elanna. There was a belief under the slaves that there was a balance in the universe. Of course, the slaves believed this to make themselves think that one day the masters would meet their fate as well. But now, sitting in the conference room of Voyager, looking at the woman she loved, maybe there was some truth to that after all. For if there was one good thing that balanced out all the bad things Annika had to live through, it was meeting the woman that was now looking back at her. Life, Annika decided, was good.

"Alright. I have two suggestions I want to make to get your input on. But before I do that, is there anything anyone of you would like to bring up?"

"Um, well," The Doctor started hesitantly. "Since this is a time of new beginnings, I would like to bring up my status once more."

"Your status?" Annika asked confused. "You mean your position as head of the medical department?"

"Actually, no. But now that you mention it, I am the head of the medical department, a department that exists out of one person; me. And if you look at it more precisely, I am not the head of the medical department. The head of the medical department died when Voyager was lost in the Delta quadrant. I am, and have always been, the EMH; the Emergency Medical Hologram."

"Well, the medical department, and its understaffing has to do with one of the points I will bring up in a moment. I would suggest that you wait until I bring it up. At that point you can see if my suggestion takes care of your problem."

"Alright, I will wait," The Doctor agreed. "But that isn't really what I meant in the beginning. As I just mentioned, officially I am still only the EMH. According to Federation rules, I am property of the Federation, just like every sonic shower stall on Voyager is property of the Federation, or the tools Lieutenant Torres uses in Engineering. That is basically what I am, according to Federation rules; a tool."

Annika leaned forward a little and tilted her head slightly to one side. "Am I to understand that you are being forced to do things against your will? That you are not you own master? That you are a SLAVE?"

"It's more complex than that," Chakotay spoke up.

"It damn better be. I don't have to tell any of you what 'I' think of slavery; I lived it for my entire life, and I'll be damned before I have someone on this ship being used as a slave."

Chakotay looked at the Doctor. "Tell me, Doctor, are you being forced to be our doctor? Is there a job you rather be doing instead?"

"What? Of course not, to both. I'm not forced to do my job, and I don't want to do anything else. I was programmed to be a doctor, there is no other occupation I want to perform."

"Thank you, Doctor." Chakotay looked back to Annika before continuing. "The problem is that in the Federation we have very strict rules about holograms. Normally they aren't even aware that they exist. Captain, I have heard you and B'Elanna talk about playing chess. The holographic images used in 3D chess are as much aware of their existence as a normal hologram is aware of its existence. Yet you still are delighted if you can blow up B'Elanna's battle ship."

"Commander, I am well aware about the difference between sentient and non-sentient holograms. I have worked with both. The Cavor colony in sector 5939 exists purely out of sentient holograms, and the slaves and non-sentient holograms working for them. In fact, it is there that I learned the difference between the two because the sentient holograms had no problem with creating, and letting non-sentient holograms work for them. Holograms can be very effective tools, I myself have created more than... a hundred or so, in my life as a Master Slave. That is not my point. My point is that clearly now the Doctor is a sentient being, therefore he should be treated as such. Or does anyone here dispute that he sentient?"

It was quiet for a moment before Tuvok finally spoke up. "While I agree that the Doctor could be called sentient, the problem is that he is still a hologram, and according to Federation laws he should be treated in specific ways."

"Like?" Annika asked.

"The two major things are that, first, he should be reset to his original program once a week. This prevents any feeling of 'being' from forming since it is well known that it takes months for a sentient feeling to form in a hologram. The second thing is that he should backup his file once every month, which he only does on the rarest of occasions."

The Doctor was about to say something, but he was stopped by Annika raising her hand slightly. "You do realize that these two very Starfleet rules to prevent a hologram from becoming sentient are actually a contradiction in terms, don't you?"

"How so?" Tom asked. For him the Doctor had always been the Doctor, he had never given much thought to whether or not the Doctor should be treated different from anyone else. The only reason as to why he didn't like the Doctor in the beginning was simply because the Doctor was a person that needed some getting used to, to put it mildly. But regardless of that, Tom had always simply thought of him as a person.

"Because first they say that he should be reset every week, but then they say that he should backup his file every month. What good is it to backup his file? If you reset him every week, then four weeks later if the month is over, you first reset him, and then make a backup of the file that you just reset. You might as well simply make a copy of the original file. My question to the Doctor is; why did they never reset you?"

"They did, in the first two months after I was activated for the first time. I assume that they stopped resetting me because they got annoyed of me asking them the same questions every time. After all, since they reset me, I didn't know anything about them, except for what was in their file."

"That was a very big part of it," Chakotay agreed. People went to see you, and the next week they once again needed to explain the very same things. Why didn't they have that scar removed, why didn't they use protective gloves, why didn't they put the holodeck safety at a higher level, and so on. But another part was, um, that they got fed up with hearing you tell the same joke every week. If they didn't reset you, then you would remember that you already told them that joke."

The doctor scratched his ear in a very un-hologram kind of way, but even he had to acknowledge the truth of that statement.

"To get back to the matter at hand," Chakotay said as he looked back at Annika. "The thing is that we have rules about dealing with holograms. True, we didn't treat the Doctor as we should have, according to the rules. But, we also have rules in the Federation about what holograms are. Captain Janeway did want to make the Doctor an official member of this crew some time back. But after having looked at the regulations for a while, she realized that she could never make it stick when we reached the Federation. She thought that it would be even worse for the Doctor to be made a official part of the crew, only to be treated as nothing more than a tool when we made it back."

"I must admit that I see her point," Annika said after thinking about it for a moment. "But I have a different approach. Doctor, I assume that you yourself know only too well the scope of this problem. I could simply decide that you are now a crew member, but as soon as we do reach your Federation, you would lose that right.

"Therefore I would like to offer you this solution. In this universe there are sentient holograms and they are considered, and treated as, free people. If the rest of the Senior Staff agrees, I will grant you the full right and privileges of a crew member. I will offer you the official position of head of the medical department with the official rank of Lieutenant, Junior Grade. However, this is only for the time that we are in this universe.

"If we return to your universe, then you will be given the choice. You can stay in this universe and try your luck here as a free and sentient hologram that is recognized as such. Or you can come along and try your luck in the Federation. I am sorry, Doctor. That is the best I can offer you. I can't take on the rules and regulations of the Federation, and frankly, I don't want to. I am sure that they did a lot of thinking on this matter and thought of things that we didn't even talk about. I am also sure that they have very valid reasons for the rules they created. It is just that I don't see those reasons now, and I also don't see why you could not be a full crew member of this ship for the time that we are here."

"I... I don't really know what to say. I, I fully understand your reasoning and will gladly take the official position you just offered me, for as long as we are here. I, um, have to think about if I will stay here when the rest goes home."

"Does anyone of the senior staff object to this?" Annika asked, since this was brought up in the 'free for all' part of the meeting, the others were free to speak their mind.

"I personally think that this was well over due," B'Elanna said. Deliberately not adding that she thought that Janeway could have come up with the same compromise. But then, to be fair to Janeway, Janeway did indeed have a different style than Annika did. Janeway had told B'Elanna once that she lived her life to some advice someone at the academy had given her. Something about doing things by the book most of the time because there was bound to come a time where she had to disobey orders and all that could save her career then would be a perfect record she could point to. Annika didn't have to worry what Starfleet thought of her decisions. All she had to worry about was whether the rest of the senior staff still felt that she was leading the ship according to Federation principles.

Everyone agreed, and Annika addressed the Doctor once more. "Doctor, when this meeting is over, would you accompany me and Commander Chakotay to my ready room? Even though you fulfilled the position until now you are only now going to become an official part of the senior staff. As you know, the commander has to be present for that." A thought struck Annika. "Since you started out as a normal hologram and evolved from there, did you get crew quarters somewhere along the line?"

"No. But I also never asked, I honestly don't see the use for it. If I want to rest, I simply go off-line."

"That is not the point. As a crew member you have the right to quarters. As a senior staff member you have to right to single quarters. What do you do when you want to entertain some friends? Invite them to sickbay?"

"I don't entertain."

"That could change. Maybe you should think about organizing a weekly card game, I'm sure some people might be interested. I can tell you for sure that I like a good card game. Playing cards was one of the few forms of entertainment we slaves were allowed to have, and I became quite good in it over time, if I may say so myself. And B'Elanna told me just yesterday that she thought that it was too bad that nobody on Voyager organized a weekly poker night."

That last was a flat out lie, and Annika hoped that the Klingon would forgive her fort it. In truth, what B'Elanna has said was a jokingly 'we could play some strip poker to pass the time,' and the only result of that joke had been that B'Elanna had started to explain the basic rules of poker to Annika who didn't know that particular card game.

"Well, yeah," B'Elanna said, giving Annika a little smile because she knew what the blonde was doing. "I mean, sure there are weekly card games on the lower decks, but they seem to be reluctant to have a senior officer join in; probably because if they did, they couldn't gossip about us. I wouldn't mind having a poker night to go to."

"Well, I for one sure wouldn't let an opportunity to earn some extra replicator rations pass me by," Tome spoke up. "If we are going to start up a poker night; count me in."

Annika smiled at the pilot and got a little smile back from him, showing her that he also knew what she was doing. Annika made a mental note to ask B'Elanna about him. She had read his personal file, she had heard the rumors that he could be a charming asshole, but she really liked the man and wondered just what his story was.

"I do not think that it would be wise to have a card game in which the senior staff is involved, unless there is some proper supervision," Tuvok said, clearly offering himself to be a member of the card game.

"Hmm, I never thought of that," The doctor said, clearly more at ease than just a minute before.

"Good, do think about it," Annika said with a smile. "In the mean time we can discuss quarters for you."

"The amount of quarters is very limited," Chakotay pointed out. "There are no empty quarters left, save for the VIP quarters. The free space that evolved from people, um, dying, was evened out by the slaves that escaped with us from that base."

"And you need the VIP quarters for... what?" Annika asked. "Here in this universe you won't be transporting VIP's any time soon. If we make it back to you Delta quadrant, you aren't going to take any VIP's on a journey with you. And if we get to your Alpha Quadrant the last of you Starfleet's worries will be that the ship doesn't have any VIP rooms anymore; they will be glad that you made it back."

"She got a point," Harry agreed. "Those rooms are rarely used. I think that in all the years combined there was someone in those quarters for enough time to fill one room for three months. We could give the Doctor one of those VIP rooms, but I personally think that it would be better if we did a little remodeling of deck two and three."

"Go on," Chakotay encouraged, knowing that Harry had a mind for designing ships, inside and outside.

"Well, right now deck three exists out of the Captain's quarters at the end of the corridor, the quarters of the second in command at the end to the left side of the corridor, and the quarters of the third in command at the end to the right side of the corridor. Besides that there are also three sets VIP quarters on either side of the corridor.

"The same layout is on deck two, except that now at the end of the corridor there is the mess hall where the Captain's dining room used to be. To the left there are my quarters, and to the right there are Tom's quarters. The rest of the corridor is once again made up out of VIP quarters; two on either side.

"That alone right there are ten quarters. But if we were to basically tear down the VIP quarters on both decks we could change the layout a little and make that into eight single quarters on deck three, and six single quarters on deck two. So getting rid of the VIP quarters would create fourteen single quarters. Single quarters that would still be a little bigger than the original layout of the single quarters on Voyager, I might add."

"Couldn't you have come up with that idea while we were still at that base?" B'Elanna asked while crossing her arms over her chest. "Now that we are in flight I need my Engineers. I can spear some when nothing is going on, but it still will take weeks to do all of that work."

"I think we are getting ahead of our selves here," Annika interrupted. "First of all, does anyone have an objection to getting rid of the VIP quarters?"

"I feel that I do have to object to removing them all," Tuvok said. "As Ensign Kim pointed out; the VIP quarters were used for a total of three months over the years. However, that does indicate that they were indeed used, even if sporadic. While I do not think that all VIP quarters are needed, I do think that we should keep one set of VIP quarters incase we do have a VIP. Also, the VIP quarters on deck two are actually not VIP quarters, we just used them as such because they were not used by the people they would have been assigned to normally. The four VIP quarters on deck two are actually meant to be the quarters of the rest of the senior staff."

"Good point, about keeping the one set VIP quarters," Annika agreed. "As for the fact that the other quarters weren't used by the Senior Staff, well, too late." Annika gave them a smile to take the sting out of her next words. "You had seven years to claim them; now the time has come and gone," Annika stopped talking when she realized that not all had a chance to claim their set of quarters.

"Actually, come to think of it, you might have had this time, but others didn't. We have some personnel changes in the last couple of days." Annika looked across the table at Ayala before continuing. "Our new Chief Science officer never got a chance to claim one of those sets of quarters. Neither did the Doctor, which is actually which started this conversation about quarters."

"Well, I would say that if you are remodeling deck two and three anyway, you might as well use the opportunity to rearrange where people live," Neelix spoke up. "Let's just move all senior staff to deck three; that would free up the entire deck two for crew quarters."

"There is a reason as to why the senior staff if located over several decks," Tuvok noted. "This is done so that in case of an attack not all senior staff members are killed if one section of the ship is badly damaged."

"Well, that's a stupid reason, if you ask me," Neelix disagreed. "I mean, that might work on those big ships I hear you people talk about sometimes, like that... Enterprise ship, but here on Voyager... I mean, if a phaser beam or a torpedo or whatever kind of weapon were to destroy the quarters on deck three, it first must have gone through deck two; killing the people there. So those people might just as well have been on deck three.

"If it is some kind of internal explosion instead of an attack, well, if that explosion is big enough to take out all quarters on deck three, it will also take out deck two right above it, an explosion doesn't only go left and right you know.

"Lastly, let's also not forget, normally when we run into problems the senior staff gathers on the bridge, so then all of the senior staff is at one place. All of them are on deck one, close to the hull. Might as well put all the senior staff quarters on one deck, isn't much of a difference if you ask me."

When Tuvok merely lifted his eyebrow at the remark it was clear to everyone that he could see the logic on Neelix's statement.

"Please continue with you suggestion, Mister Neelix," Annika prompted.

"Yes, right. Well, as you said, there were changes." He pointed to the man sitting beside him before continuing. "Ayala here, the doctor, and, um, let's not forget that the Captain and the Chief Engineer are going to share quarters, so that is only one set of quarters for you both. So I would say simply have the Captain and Chief engineer in one set of quarters on deck three, the biggest set of quarters of course."

"Neelix," B'Elanna warned with a slight growl.

Neelix only grinned at the growl. "Well, she is the Captain, I guess you just have to suffer through living in the captains quarters, B'Elanna." He looked around the table for a moment before continuing. Anyway, one set of quarters for them. Then one set for the first officer. One set for the Chief of Security, slash, Tactical Officer. One set for the Chief Operations Officer. One set for the Chief Helm Officer. One set for the Chief Science Officer. One set for the Chief Medical Officer. And that would still leave you with two VIP quarters and the whole of deck two could be used for normal crew quarters."

"Doesn't sound too bad," Annika agreed with a smile. "But you forgot to mention the set of quarters for the Moral Officer."

"Well, um, technically I'm not officially the Moral Officer. Officially Voyager never had one. I just took that role upon me when I saw that Voyager really needed one."

Annika didn't answer, but merely looked at Chakotay.

Chakotay lifted his hands slightly. "I know, I know, different kind of captaining. Voyager never had an official morale officer, therefore captain Janeway never added that position to the roster, officially." Knowing Annika good enough by now to know what her next step would be, Chakotay continued, immediately approving the step. "Neelix, if you are willing we would like to make your position an official one. Since you are a civilian, you will get a temporary field commission until we reach the Federation and Starfleet can decide if they want to make your commission official. That is, of course if you want that position."

Neelix was clearly delighted about the offer. "Well, sure I would love to..." A crestfallen look suddenly came to Neelix's face and he continued in a subdued voice. "Um, actually, as much as I would like to, I don't think I can take that position."

"Why not?" Annika asked surprised.

"Because of Naomi. If my self-appointed position became official while hers didn't; it would break the girl's heart. Especially since Janeway gave Naomi her position while I just took mine."

Annika lifted her had to stop him. "Wait a minute, what position are we talking about?" Annika looked at B'Elanna when she saw the Klingon cringe slightly. Then she saw her mouth the words 'I'm sorry' clearly apologizing for forgetting to mention earlier whatever Annika was going to hear now.

"Why, her position as captain's assistant of course."

Both of Annika's eyebrow shot up at hearing that. "Captain's Assistant?"

"Yes, Naomi had read that other ships have Captain's assistants and ever since then Naomi wanted to become such a Captain's assistant. Captain Janeway eventually gave her that position, even gave Naomi one of her own pips."

"Please forgive me, I didn't yet have the time to go over personal files, so this might be in the girls personal file, but I can assure you that I didn't read any of this in the personnel files. Voyager doesn't have such a position added to its crew manifest; I did go over that very extensively."

"Once again," Chakotay spoke up, "Starfleet regulations. It is not advisable for any ship with a crew smaller than a two hundred to have certain positions. That is why we never had a counselor, nor an official Morale Officer, nor an official Captain's Assistant."

"Advisable, but not mandatory?"

"Well, you got to know Starfleet for that," Chakotay explained. "They realized earlier on in its existence that if you only had 'allowed/not allowed' rules half of their captains would be facing court-martial at any given time for simple infractions of those rules. So what they did is actually set up the majority of rules with an 'advisable' or a 'not advisable.' Captains should see that as an 'allowed' and 'not allowed' but they can ignore it if they think it is better."

"And meanwhile we have a little girl sitting in her quarters thinking that the new captain doesn't want her, a new captain who to her basically is the same person she was friends with before."

Nobody reacted to that statement so after a moment of uncomfortable silence, Annika continued. "I am going to change that. I'm going to ask her mother if she objects, and if she doesn't than I'm going to make Naomi's position official."

Again nobody reacted, but this time Annika could clearly see the approval in their eyes. "Anyway, back to what we were discussing. The Moral Officer is, will be real soon, a part of the senior crew and therefore will also get a set of quarters on deck three, which still leaves one set of quarters for VIP quarters. That means that there are no senior staff quarters at all on deck two, which means that all of it can be remodeled to normal crew quarters, as Mister Neelix suggested. Let's also not forget that other quarters become available as the senior staff moves to their new quarters. Anyone else have something to add?"

When nobody spoke up, Annika looked back at Harry. "From what I saw when we were repairing Voyager, and from what B'Elanna told me, you are quite good at designing ships. Think you can handle designing a new layout of decks two and three?"

Harry smiled at the challenge. "I'm looking forward to it."

"Alright, draw up some plans and hand them to Chakotay for final approval. I think that B'Elanna was right about it taking some time, but this doesn't have to be done by tomorrow. We are now merely deciding if we are going to do it. Chakotay, you and B'Elanna set up a roster for Engineers to work on the remodeling, make sure to not overtax the Engineers though."

Annika thought about it for a moment before smiling. "Actually, I think I know how we can make this go a little faster. Chakotay, once it is clear which set of quarters is meant for who distribute a list through the ship. I think that people might be willing to spend some of their free time helping to remodel when they realize that they are going to move to bigger quarters, or that the quarters that they were sharing are suddenly going to be their own because their roommate is moving out.

"Now, since those new quarters would be bigger than the other sets of quarters of Voyager, save for the senior staff quarters, I think it would only be logical to offer those quarters to the people that are second in command, but don't fall inside the senior staff, like Joe Carey and Samantha Wildman.

"That fills up five quarters. The rest I would suggest could go to stable romantic pairings. Chakotay, you would have to decide that since personnel is your department. I would suggest picking couples that have been together for at least three years.

"If couples want to live together that aren't involved for that long, they can be reassigned to a two crew quarter. If they want to live together they will be more then happy to be sharing quarters, even if those aren't family size. And again, this will free up old quarters, Chakotay, you move the people at your discretion."

"Aye captain. I think that the corridors of Voyager will be busy for a few weeks with people moving, but I think that people will like this change."

"Um," B'Elanna spoke up. "Talking about the moving around reminded me. We still have some of Seven's alcoves in some of those rooms; in the Captain's quarters and one of the VIP quarters. What are we going to do with those things?"

It was quiet for a moment as they all thought about that. They knew that suggesting to get rid of them pretty much indicated that they assumed that Seven wouldn't be coming back to Voyager. Finally Annika, being the captain, made the decision. "Remove them. Scavenge then for any parts that the industrial replicator wouldn't be able to make if you were to rebuild them. If Seven makes it back to Voyager, she can regenerate in Sickbay with the help of the Doctor until a new alcove is built for her.

"Also, I don't think there is any doubt in the mind of any of us that we owe Seven a lot, including our lives. Therefore, if Seven makes it back, she will get the last VIP quarters. I'm sorry Commander Tuvok, but what she did for us outweighs by far the need to have a VIP quarters in case of some high guests want to travel on Voyager."

"Indeed," Tuvok merely said, making Annika smile. Somehow she had expected more of a fight on the subject of possibly giving up the last set of VIP quarters as well. But then, she didn't know yet that Tuvok always had a soft spot for Seven, appreciating how she could see the beauty of logic like he could.

"Anybody else got anything they want to bring up?" After a moment of silence, Annika continued. "Very well, as I said, I have two subjects I want to discuss. Both I bring forth as a crewmember, not as your captain. The first has to do with sickbay. I don't like the fact that the only one we have on this ship that knows something about the medical side is the Doctor."

"Well, actually, I know a little as well," Tom said with an expression on his face that left no doubt about his dislike for the work. Though it was well known that he hated the duty he had to perform in sickbay, it was still something that the captain needed to know. "I had one semester of medicine on the Academy, before I dropped it because I didn't like it, and I have been helping the Doctor here on Voyager when he needs help in sickbay."

"From that I would assume that you know the basics, like healing a broken bone. But would you be able to repair the neural pathways of a patient?" Annika asked.

"Hell no. I would already be in over my head if I would have to remove an appendix."

"So basically we have a Doctor on the ship, and a nurse with basic training," Annika continued. "A nurse that doesn't like to work in sickbay, I might add."

"Are you suggesting we have the Doctor train someone to be his replacement?" Chakotay asked. "Training someone to the level of doctor takes years."

"I don't doubt it," Annika agreed. "But I'm not talking about training them to the level of doctor, and I'm not talking about having the Doctor do all of the training. You have those holodecks; let's use them. I was thinking more along the lines of setting up a 'school' at one of the holodecks and let people be educated there. The last thing I want is to take away even more of the Doctor's time by having him train everyone. I would want him in a supervisory role though. Anyway, I was thinking of having every single member of the crew trained in first aid,"

"Um, we already are," B'Elanna interrupted. "It is part of the academy basic training. Everyone gets a first aid course, and needs to keep it up to date over the time at the academy."

"And once you leave the academy?"

"Um, well..."

"That's what I thought," Annika said with a smile. "I want people to keep up with their first aid knowledge. But more importantly I was thinking of having 'first aid' be a little more advanced than it sounds. I was thinking more along the line of having it be at the level that people know all that can be done without it being too complex medical procedures.

"Furthermore, to come back to the understaffing of sickbay I was thinking of having at least five people trained further than that. Those would be trained, over time, to the point there they can function as nurses that can help with operations. For those five people there would be a schedule set up where they would serve in sickbay for a certain time while serving the rest of their work time in their old departments. That way there could be a nurse in sickbay at all times, while the doctor can have time off just like every other crewmember."

Annika looked at the Doctor before adding, "Because you are our only doctor you would still be 'on call' at all times, like you are now, but you wouldn't have to be in sickbay for every upset stomach, cut, or bruise."

"Well, I can only applaud the idea of having everyone on the ship trained a little more in first aid, and I certainly welcome the idea of some help in sickbay." The doctor was quiet for a moment while thinking about how to word the 'but' part. "But the thing is that there really aren't any people on Voyager that would like to study medicine. If there were, they would have asked a long time ago to be allowed to learn in my profession. So in order to get those people you would have to persuade them, and I really think that it would be a bad idea to give them incentives like replicator rations to work in sickbay. That way you only get people that are killing their time in sickbay earning some extra rations instead of people that are eager to learn."

"That is a very valid point," Annika agreed, "but I think that you are forgetting those nine former slaves that escaped with the rest of the Voyager crew. You should ask them, you might be surprised to find out how eager they are to learn something new. They have spent their life until now doing a job that wasn't their choosing, but their order. Give them a chance to choose for themselves what they want to do, and you might be surprised about how many of them want to step away from the engineering that they have been doing forcefully until now."

"Which would mean that I would lose those extra engineers I just got in my department," B'Elanna said. She wasn't looking forward to losing them. They were good at their job, and more than willing to work, now that working was their choice to make.

Chakotay chuckled at that. "You knew that wasn't going to last. Your department is overstaffed; those people would have been reassigned regardless."

"Still doesn't mean that I have to like giving them up," B'Elanna shot back while crossing her arms over her chest.

"Alright, here is what I would suggest," Chakotay said, getting back to the matter at hand. "We set up a 'school' in holodeck one in which people will be taught in the knowledge of advanced first aid. We will have the teaching be done by a program we will design so that we aren't taking up all of the Doctor's time, but the Doctor will supervise this project and take the necessary tests to see if people are actually learning something.

"Beside that, five people will be trained as nurses. My addition to this plan is to give them the option to join Sickbay full time if they like the job. These people will also follow a training in the holodeck, and beside that they will also be trained by the doctor 'on the job' in sickbay."

"Sounds like a plan," Annika agreed as she looked around the table, glad to see that apparently everyone was in agreement about this.

"Alright, I'll look into the planning and personnel scheduling needed to make this work," Chakotay said while already going over a couple of things in his head. "I'll get in touch with the escaped sl... I'll get in touch with our new crew members and see if they are interested."

Chakotay was silent for a moment to see if anybody was going to add something. When nobody did, he handed the conversation back to Annika by asking; "You said that you had a second point?"

"I do," Annika agreed. "I was looking over some of the reports that were still lying in the ready room and I came across a damage report for one of the shuttles. Looking a little further I found that since Voyager was stranded in the Delta Quadrant you lost seventeen shuttles, and you also had eight shuttles that were so heavily damaged that you could only scavenge them for parts. How the hell were you able to basically loose twenty-five shuttles, and actually still have some for use?"

The others around the table looked at each other, nobody really wanting to answer that one. Even Tuvok found something in the PADD in front of him that was apparently so important that he had to focus on it instead of answering the question. Finally it was B'Elanna that spoke up.

"Well, it's simply that away missions have a certain level of risk coupled to them, and a shuttle is not Voyager, they can't take as much damage. For instance, the last shuttle we lost crashed on a planet because some passing nomad ship thought that it would be easy prey and hunted it down. We were able to destroy the ship, but the shuttle sustained so much damage that we couldn't wait for Voyager to arrive."

"Alright, but why be out in a shuttle anyway? I mean, I can understand using a shuttle to get down to a planet, or if you need to be at two places at once. But you make it sound as if every away mission is done by shuttle; why? Why not use the stronger, faster, more secure Voyager? I mean, the shuttle leaves Voyager to go do its thing, Voyager continues on its course, and then some time later Voyager has to stop and wait for the shuttle to catch up, or it has to go back and rescue the stranded crew members."

"This is standard Starfleet procedure," Tuvok said. "In the Federation ships are usually on short term missions lasting a about a week, the one exception being ships that are on patrol of the borders. In a situation like that it is only logical to execute a secondary mission with a shuttle while the mother ship goes on to do the primary mission. By the time the mother ship is finished with the primary mission, the shuttle is finished with its mission, and both ships can meet up again on a point halfway. It is very uncommon for a ship to be on a straight course for as long as Voyager is."

"Hmm, well, as I said, I can understand the use of shuttles for certain situations, but I would strongly suggest cutting down on their use and using Voyager more for smaller missions, especially in this universe. Here you might go to someone's help, only to have them try to capture you for the reward as a 'thank you' for that help. But the subject I wanted to discuss was the amount of shuttles. Where did you get twenty-five shuttles from?"

"We build them," B'Elanna explained. "We have room for four shuttles in the shuttle bay. We normally have two shuttles ready for use, and the other two places are taken up by shuttles that are either being repaired, or built. The shuttle bay is one of the places where engineers are sent to if it is a quiet day. If there is nothing to do in engineering but just sit and look at the plasma flow level, then I send the engineers I can miss to the shuttle bay to work on the shuttles."

B'Elanna leaned forward a little before she continued. "But now that you bring up the point of the shuttles, I wouldn't mind a little change there. Right now we have a standard federation shuttle, and a shuttle of the Delta Flyer class; a class we designed ourselves. While we had to rebuild that shuttle four times, we just keep calling it the Delta Flyer. Anyway, as those numbers make clear, the Delta Flyer class has proven much more reliable for what we do than the standard shuttle. I would suggest building only the Delta Flyer class from now on.

"This would also make it easier on Engineering. If one of the shuttles is damaged, we can either put some parts on it from the shuttle we were building, or we can scavenge the damaged shuttle for parts and put those into the new shuttle. This would also bring us to using only one type of warp drive, instead of the two we use now. As you might know, building a shuttle mainly takes time, but isn't that hard. Getting your hands on the materials needed to build a warp engine... now that's the hard part. Honestly, I sometimes wonder how we managed to keep two shuttles going, let alone build so damn many of them."

"My suggestion went along those lines," Annika said with a smile. She could almost feel the frustration that the Klingon must have felt sometimes from working with several models of shuttles. Probably sometimes being unable to work on neither shuttle because they might have enough resources to make one, but not two at the same time. And making two at the same time is what she had to do with two different designs. "My suggestion was to only have one type of shuttle, but to have this shuttle be of such quality that you really wouldn't do it justice by calling it a shuttle.

"We take the design of the Delta Flyer class, and add a little armor and firepower. Make it a ship which is far more powerful than you would expect from just looking at it."

"Sounds like the Defiant class," Tom spoke up. "You know that tough little ship, only one hundred and seventeen meters long, and yet had one and a half times the beam power of a Galaxy class ship, two point one times the torpedo power, and just to make it extra interesting it had a hull armor that is a walloping three point four times that of a Galaxy class ship."

"Just like flyboy to know the specs on a ship that we only know from a Federation communiqué we received from Starfleet."

B'Elanna knew that it had been more than 'just' a communiqué. The data stream that Voyager had received had actually incorporated the entire blueprints of the ship. Apparently someone at Starfleet command had been smart enough to understand that Voyager might not be able to build the ship, but if they had all the blue prints then Voyager could pick and choose from the technology used on the ship.

And they had. They had used several of the ideas to bolster shields and fire power. The new torpedo design had increased the torpedo fire power by half. B'Elanna herself had been very happy with the new design of the magnetic restrictors used in all new Federation warp engines. Since they had installed the new design, B'Elanna actually enjoyed a much better night rest. The 'hum' of Voyager was much smoother since then.

"As far as I know that ship came with several serious design compromises. Compromises that you can live with if you have the ship based at a star base with all access to Federation technology and a shipload full of engineers. But if you were to use the ship for a long journey like we are doing with Voyager, it would break apart within a month."

"Trust the ever optimistic Chief Engineer to remember the flaws of a great looking ship," Tom shot back, making B'Elanna grin.

"Can I see the design?" Annika asked.

Chakotay told the computer to bring up the monitors worked into the conference room table and then requested the specific file.

"Yes, something like that is what I had in mind," Annika said after studying the design for a moment. "A little long though. The Delta flyer is just twenty meters, so I don't think that a ship almost nine times as big will fit into the shuttle bay." They had all seen the little smile, so they knew that Annika was joking. "But we might be able to work from this. Can't we just downscale until we reach a shuttle's dimensions?"

"Well, yeah, we could," Harry said, his designer mind racing. "But downsizing will remove some of the things we find so interesting about the ship. I mean, there is only so much empty room that you can remove before you have to make engines, weapon generators, and stuff like that, smaller. And while this ship has the torpedo power twice that of a galaxy class, if we bring the design down to twenty meters, you could only take a long on or two torpedoes."

"I know," Annika agreed. "But my point is that we don't take a shuttle and see what we can add to it, we take a bigger, more powerful ship, and see what we can remove to make it fit into shuttle dimensions. One should also not forget though that the room in a shuttle is there for a reason. You need room to just sit for a moment, and not to mention a room to sleep. So I would like to keep the same amount of room we now have with the Delta flyer.

"I personally like the process of removal more. If you add, then there is the chance that you forget to add something you really need later. But if you remove, you first remove the things you know for sure you don't need, or can't use; leaving you with a design that has the most possible characteristics that is possible for a ship that size.

"Your example of the torpedoes is a good one. There is no realistic way that a shuttle can use torpedoes, so we can already remove everything from the design having to do with them. Torpedo tubes, torpedo storage, Jeffries tubes that service the torpedo tubes, and so on. I think in all reality if we work back from this design we should be able to end up with a ship the size of the Delta flyer, but about twice as strong and powerful. And if we manage to get it to the size of the Delta Flyer, we could have two of those shuttles on board. I know that you people don't like to think in power and strength, that you prefer to negotiate and persuade. But the fact is that in this universe, they will always try to capture you first before asking questions.

"As you saw with the Cardassian ship; first reaction around here is that slaves don't have ships. I think it would be a lot better to have two powerful shuttles that could also work as an auxiliary fleet if needed. You will need to show that you have power, before people will even listen to your friendly suggestions."

"I think it's a good idea," Chakotay spoke up. "We should not forget that in this universe power is a very important thing. If we want to continue living to Federation standards, we do need the ships that can handle people attacking us if we want to help them. Having said that, since the people who would be best suited to do this redesigning are also the ones best suited to set up the 'Holographic school,' I would suggest making this the second project; to be started when the school and teachers is finished, tested, and working. Right now we are still busy with checking places where we can stay, so the chance that we would need those enhanced shuttles is the smallest at the moment anyway. I sincerely doubt that we will run into a Cardassian ship at every place that we go to."

"I concur with Commander Chakotay's reasoning," Tuvok agreed. "Waiting a week to start this project is an acceptable risk to take, more so since we are now not used to such ships anyway and therefore the security of Voyager as we know it is not compromised by not having the ships."

I think you are right, the both of you," Annika agreed. "Alright, with the next senior staff meeting we will see how things are with the school, and if that is all working fine we start working of the new shuttle design. Of course, since I have a feeling most people will do this anyway, feel free to do a little dabbling in design on your time off. See what you come up with, and when we start to work on the project we can see what we all have in the design and work from there."

Annika was just about to ask a final time if someone had anything to add when they were interrupted from the bridge. "Captain, we just intercepted a message on a Starfleet frequency, audio only. Someone went to a lot of effort to make it an untraceable message though. It was sent on wide subspace band, impossible to track, and impossible to be sure for who it was meant."

"Unless you are a Starfleet member who knows the Starfleet frequencies, Annika added in understanding. "Alright, play it in the Conference room."

"Aye Captain," Came the voice back from the bridge before the message started to play. "A message for my friends." The entire senior staff could recognize Seven's voice right away. "I have researched the matter we discussed, and the only advice I can give you is to stay inside Klingon territory in you quest for a cure. Leaving Klingon territory would be very bad for your health indeed. The Cardassian doctor I spoke to assured me that there was no cure to be found inside Cardassian space. Be safe, stay calm, and be careful with who you come into contact. Some might have diseases that could influence your health even more. I would like to see you again sometime. I hope that you will survive this disease so that we can meet again one day. Your good friend, out."

"That was the entire message, Captain."

"Thank you, Annika out." Annika looked around the table and lifted her eyebrow a little. "I think I get the essence of that message, but Seven is not me..." Annika added a smile to that statement for obvious reasons, "...so would anyone venture to guess what this message meant?"

"I would deduce that Seven was telling us to stay inside Klingon space," Tuvok said, pointing out the obvious. "I would also deduce that she is warning us against going into the territory of others, especially the Cardassians. I can only assume that this is because of the fight we had with the Cardassian ship."

"One should also not forget the message that Seven didn't say," B'Elanna said while looking at Tuvok.

"Which is?"

"That Seven is still alive, that Seven is in a position where she can send messages over subspace, that Seven is in a position where she could find out about the Cardassian ship and us. Somehow I don't think that the Cardassians made it big news that one of their ships lost a battle with a 'slave ship.' They would never live down that news. They would become the laughing-stock of the coalition. Yet Seven knew about it. So this means that Seven is still with... my counterpart, and that she trusts Seven enough to let her read or hear secure reports meant only for the Intendants eyes."

"You know, come to think of it, the warning surprises me a little," Annika said thoughtfully. "From all I heard about Intendant Torres, she would be so pissed by the fact that we caused trouble with the Cardassians that she would hunt us down just to be rid of us. Yet here we get a message to stay inside Klingon space."

"I think that Seven really does care for Torres, she told me she loves her," B'Elanna said. She looked at Annika for a moment from the corner of her eyes before adding. "I wouldn't be surprised if Seven had managed to find that soft part in the hearts of the cold Intendant. My guess would be that, for Seven, the Intendant is taking us under her protective wing. I think that we should be thankful for that protection, but not use it. I don't know how much the Intendant could take before she would come after us, despite Seven. If it were me, I would not like it if I protected someone and they then went about misusing that."

"Well, Klingon territory is a big area," Annika said. "It consists out of the old Klingon territory, and all the territory that the Sol Empire once covered that didn't go to one of the other factions once the territories were newly divided after the Sol empire fell. I would say that about one third of Coalition space belongs to the Klingons, while the other two thirds is divided between the Cardassians, Romulans, Betazoid, and Trill. So I think that staying inside Klingon space isn't a bad idea to begin with, regardless of this warning. Hell, Klingon space is so big that we could spend those two years traveling between interesting places inside the coalition."

"Then I would suggest that the first priority is to clearly define the borders inside Coalition space so that we know when we leave Klingon space," Tuvok suggested. "Preferably program the computer to warn us whenever a plotted course will take us outside of Klingon territory."

"I will," Annika stopped herself from saying that she would do this. True, she knew where the borders were, but the rest of the crew was there to make Voyager one unity. Annika sometimes still forgot that there were others that could do the job as well. "I think that Stellar Cartography should be able to handle this just fine. Jennifer and Megan Delaney have proven to excel at creating star charts from the information Astrometrics gathered. Tuvok, as soon as this chart is ready, program the borders into the computer, and also program the warning you talked about. Alright, I think that's it. This meeting is adjourned. Don't forget the next meeting, five days from now, same time. Dismissed."

Chapter 8

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