Alternate Consequences
By H.W.


Chapter 9

"Mistress, can I think about this for a moment and give you my opinion later today?"

"Come on, you must have some first impression."

"Mistress, please."

"Some advisor," Worf snorted.

"Actually, she is a great advisor," Torres disagreed.  "I think it is more that she isn't as thrilled about the idea than I would have thought she would be and she is about to blow my proposal out of the water, which she doesn't want to in front of you." Torres softly caressed Seven's hair for a moment, making it clear that her next words were meant for the blonde.  "Come on, Seven, if you don't agree you would tell me so in private, prove to Worf that you really do give me good advice, and not just words I want to hear."

Seven sighed before turning around to face Torres, making it clear that Worf could hear what she had to say because Torres wanted him to hear it, but that Seven was talking to Torres, and not to Worf.  "Your proposal will never work.  Suddenly abolishing slavery, as you propose, sounds simple but in reality it will be the downfall of the Coalition.

"If you were to suddenly remove slavery the economy would collapse because there would not be a workforce big enough left to maintain the economy, the workers that are left would know how valuable they are and would ask wages that could be up to a hundred times their normal wages.

"War would break out amongst the Coalition faction that support the proposal and those that do not.  You, as the person who brought forth this idea would be killed.

"The position of the slaves would not improve, as I assume you would like; it would become intolerable worse than it is now because they would become things to grab when one can.  They would no longer be protected from the average free person who does not own a slave because they do not have the credits.  With all laws about the trafficking of slaves broken down, they would simply be taken and used in what ever way needed.  Instead of bettering the life of slaves, this proposal would only result in worsening their lives, and bring down the Coalition in the process."

"You know, Torres," Worf said when it was clear that Seven was done talking.  "I was going to tell you to teach your slave some manners; nobody turns their back on me!"  Worf was quiet for a moment before adding, "But seeing what she just said, I'm willing to forget this little, mistake.  If a slave tells you that getting rid of slavery is a bad thing, you can probably trust her to give you good advice on other matters as well."

Torres softly took hold of Seven's chin and moved her head until Seven, who had lowered her head when she had stopped talking, was looking her in the eyes.  "Seven, while I do fully understand that you see me, and only me, as your mistress because you've chosen to do so, do try to remember that Worf is the Chancellor.  If you don't want to treat him as a master, at least treat him with the respect his position deserves."

Seven thought about it for a second and realized that Torres had a point.  She couldn't treat Worf as she had treated Martok, Deanna and Jadzia; as an equal and letting them get acquainted with the idea.  With Worf, Seven's actions could cause Torres real problems.

Seven turned around once more until she was facing Worf.  "I apologize for any disrespect that I have shown to you.  My mistress explained to me that because of your position, according to the laws, you are my master as much as she is my mistress.  I wanted to make it clear that I only consider B'Elanna my mistress and might have gone a little far in trying to prove that point.  While you are not my master, you do deserve more respect than I have been showing you and I will try to better my behavior."

Torres groaned when she heard the blonde add the last sentence.  "Good try, my pet.  Maybe with a little work we can get you to the point where you can make a statement to Worf without pointing out to him that you consider him less than me."

Before Seven could reply Worf waved his hand in a dismissive manner.  "I'll tell you what, I'll forget her behavior as long as you sit down with her and work over that proposal.  Make it something that actually has a chance of surviving and I'll take a look at it."

Seven was about to ask something but decided that maybe it was better until she was alone with Torres.  But Torres had seen the blonde take a breath to speak.

"What?  Come on, my pet, you put your foot in it several times already and Worf is willing to forget it, now is not the time to stop asking your questions."

Seven looked back at Torres and saw the Klingon's relaxed face.  Clearly Worf's rebuke hadn't been as bad as Seven had thought.  "Yes mistress."  Seven turned back to face Worf before continuing, still talking to Torres.  "I was just curious about two things.  You told me when we had just met that the Chancellor was firmly in favor of slavery.  I was wondering why he will consider your proposal to end slavery if he is in favor of slavery.  I also wonder how this proposal would solve a problem he is having with his son.  What does a proposal about freeing slaves have to do with the son of the Chancellor, who is in favor of slavery?"

Torres was about to answer but stopped when Worf lifted his hand. 

"Since both things have to do with me, I'll answer."  Worf looked at Seven before continuing.  I AM in favor of slavery, I like my slaves just fine and am not thrilled to think about giving them up.  The reason why I still would give them up is that if slavery ends and humans become free people in the Coalition, then my son could become the next Chancellor.

"Before I became Chancellor I met a woman who I married a month later.  She was K'Ehleyr, the result of a stupid Klingon not getting his human pleasure slave sterilized when he bought her.  As you can see from the fact that Torres here, also a half human, has become Intendant, we don't hold it against the children if their parents were morons; we consider those children Klingons.  Therefore K'Ehleyr was considered fully Klingon and I was proud to call her my Mate.  In fact, I still wish daily that she was still alive.

"We had a son who we called Alexander.  It was a choice we debated about for some time since this ancient Klingon name also appears in Human history.  But eventually we decided that the honor of using such a prominent Klingon name was more important than the fact that humans happened to come up with the same name somewhere in their history.  I'm glad that K'Ehleyr could be in Alexander and my life for five years before she died.

"Now, the problem that ties all of this into slavery is that while having a half human as Intendant is one thing, to actually have a Klingon with a quarter human blood become Chancellor is impossible."

"Why is it impossible?" Seven asked.  Confused by the fact that a half human could become Intendant, but a quarter human could not become Chancellor.

"Because of the laws.  When the Sol Empire fell, Klingon rules were reinstated here on Kronos, and updated.  Because of the hatred that existed against all that was Sol and all that worked with her, one of the rules for the Chancellorship that was drawn up then states that a person can only become Chancellor if this person has no 'slave blood.'

"The thing is that Intendants weren't mentioned in those rules that were drawn up at that time for the simple reason that Intendants were only installed after the hundred day Klingon/Cardassian war which followed a year after the rules were created.  So Torres could become Intendant, and Alexander could also become Intendant, if it weren't for the small fact that I don't think that Torres here wants to give up that position as long as she breaths.  But Alexander can't become Chancellor."

"Unless humans were no longer considered slaves," Seven said in understanding.  "The rule states that the person should have no 'slave blood,' but if humans become free people today, your son could become Chancellor tomorrow because humans are not slaves and therefore his human blood is not 'slave blood.'"

"Well, seeing that Alexander is only fifteen years old, I think I will hang on to my position for a little longer than two days, but I would like it to be possible for him to take my position in twenty or thirty years.  Now, if slavery is indeed ended, then this would leave the Coalition that long to get used to the idea of the former slaves being just like us, and the fact that the new Klingon Chancellor had a half human mother won't even raise an eyebrow."

"I understand.  Thank you for the explanation.  Chancellor, if you do not mind me asking, how did your mate die?"

Worf was about to tell Seven that it was none of her damn business, but something told him that the question was driven by nothing more then normal curiosity.  So instead he decided to answer.  "She was killed by the former Chancellor.  My House was becoming too powerful to his liking, but he couldn't get rid of me because I already had too much backing of the other Houses as well.  He didn't like that.  Not that I could ever challenge him for his title.  You need very specific reasons to challenge the Chancellor, and I didn't have any of those.

"Then he made the mistake of thinking that killing my Mate would put me back in my place.  He thought that I would back down instead of challenging him because he still held more power in the High Council than I did.  He didn't realize that I couldn't care less who had how much backing.  He had killed my Mate, and I would still avenge her death even if nobody in the High Council had stood on my side.  It was the last mistake he had ever made."

Torres, knowing Seven well enough to guess her next question spoke up, "You have to understand, my pet, that while challenges are a common thing between Klingons, at some point you need some buffer to keep things workable.  For instance, if I as Intendant had to meet every Klingon in battle that wants my job, I would be fighting every minute of the day.  Therefore it's quite normal for Klingons in higher positions to refuse a challenge if there is no good reason to back it up.

"And as much as this goes for me, it goes even more so for the Chancellery.  Even if every single member in the High Council is against the Chancellor, still nobody could challenge Worf for that reason alone.  They need something specific to challenge him over.  For instance, if we were at war with someone and Worf refused to attack the enemy simply because we might suffer losses; that would be a reason to challenge him.  When the old Chancellor killed K'Ehleyr, he himself put Worf in a position where Worf could challenge him.  Not because of any Chancellor decision, but simply because he had personally killed Worf's Mate; because he had killed the Lady of Worf's House."

"I understand, thank you for the explanation, Mistress."

"You are welcome."  Torres looked at Worf before adding, "Alright, we'll go over the proposal.  Give me three days and we'll see how you like it then."

"You need three days to draw up a general proposal?"

Torres shook her head a little and grinned.  "No, I think my pet and I could have that ready within a day if we worked on it the entire day.  No, we are on Kronos, the Klingon home world, center of the Coalition, and all that.  I want to take my pet to do some sightseeing.  So we'll work on the proposal a few hours every day and the rest of the time I'll be playing tour guide."

"Huh, try not to bore her to death with our impressive history."

"You do not like history, Chancellor?" Seven asked.

"History is for the dead."

"History is the guardian of mistakes; ignore history and you are bound to make the same mistakes over and over again."

"Sounds impressive, but there is just one flaw with that."

"Which is?"

Worf grinned before saying, "Klingons always rewrite their history.  Kinda hard to learn from mistakes if those mistakes have been written down as brilliant tactical moves."

"He got you there, my pet," Torres said with a grin.

"Alright, Torres.  Martok already told me how things went with the Bajorans.  I'm glad to see that you found the time to take care of that little problem and didn't spent all your time playing with you new toy here.  But why don't you tell me things from your point of view?  Especially, why don't you tell me a little more about the deal that gets me my guards trained by the Bajoran Special Forces?"


"Enter," Annika said when the entrance chime sounded.  She looked to the corner of the screen on the computer unit she had been working on and a small smile came to her lips.  'Punctual,' she thought.  'Not on the second, but certainly on the minute.'  She made sure that the smile was gone when the person she was expecting had fully entered the ready room.

"You wanted to see me?"

Annika tilted her head a little and asked, "Do you know what my rank is, Miss Wildman?"


Now Annika merely lifted her eyebrows a little.

"Oh, I mean, yes I do, Captain."

"In that case, please take a seat, Miss Wildman, I have a few things to discuss with you."

Naomi came closer and hesitantly sat down in one of the two chairs in front of the desk that Annika was sitting behind.  They looked at each other in silence for a moment before Annika finally spoke up.

"I think I owe you an apology Miss Wildman."

"An apology?" Naomi asked, totally confused.

"Yes.  As soon as became Captain, I had a one on one discussion with everyone that works on the bridge on a regular basis.  The senior crew, of course, and also the members of the beta and gamma shift.  I also spoke to Neelix, and I also had a long talk with your mother when she was promoted.  But I neglected to talk to the Captain's Assistant.  For that, I apologize.  But, the reason why I didn't talk to you was simply because I didn't know that there was a Captain's Assistant.  There was no mention of a Captain's Assistant on the crew manifest.  Did you know that your position wasn't official?"

"Yeah.  The Captain told me that.  She said that it was not common for Captains of scout ships to have Captain's Assistants, but more importantly, that since I'm not actually in Starfleet she couldn't give me an official position, and of course that officially I'm not old enough to be in Starfleet to begin with."

"I see," Annika said, nodding her head a little.  "Well, as I said, I didn't know.  That's my excuse; what's yours?"


"That's 'huh Captain', at the very least, but I would like to hear 'what do you mean, Captain.'  As for what I did mean with that, I have a very good reason for not talking to you before now, but what is your reason for not reporting for duty, for not coming in and introducing yourself to me?  Do you think that being Captain's Assistant is a game?  That you don't have to report to the Captain anymore if there is a new Captain?  Being part of Starfleet isn't something you do just for fun you know?"

As Annika was saying this to the child she was trying very hard to not think of the fact that she herself technically also wasn't part of Starfleet.  But she needed to know the child's reaction, and at the very moment Annika felt like a bastard when she saw the unshed tears in the girl's eyes.

"N... no.  Of course n... not.  I... I... I just..."

"You just... what?"

"I just assumed t... that you didn't want m... me.  Why would you bother with a child that has no real right being here?"  Naomi stood up and took a step in the direction of the door.  "And apparently I assumed right."  Naomi had only taken another step when she heard an icy voice behind her.

"Sit, your, ass, down.  As far as I know I didn't dismiss you, yet."

Naomi turned around and looked at Annika for a moment before finally sitting down.

"Good, now, didn't your mother ever tell you to never assume?"

"She did," Naomi said, hanging her head a little.

"Look at me."  Annika waited until Naomi was looking her in the eyes.  "Now, I'm going to ask you some questions, and I want you to answer me honestly, alright?"

Naomi nodded her agreement.

"Alright, first question.  If you could, would you want to continue to be the Captain's Assistant; my assistant?"

"I... I don't know."

"Why not?  Remember, I want an honest answer."

Naomi took a deep breath and then said in a rush, "Because you're scary."

Not at all expecting that remark, Annika lost her cool demeanor and shot into a laugh.

Naomi looked at the laughing woman with wide eyes.  Suddenly her scariness was gone, and she remind Naomi of Seven.  Not because of the laughing, Seven had never laughed so fully as this woman was now laughing.  No, it was because now she realized that just like Seven, this woman really wasn't as she first portrayed herself to be.

Annika had to wipe away some tears and finally cleared her throat to stop herself from starting to laugh again.  "I appreciate your honest answer, Miss Wildman.  Believe me, being scary is a trade I have practiced years to perfect."

"Well, you sure are good at it," Naomi said, a small smile finally forming on her lips.

"Alright, Miss Wildman.  "If I promise not to be, scary, all the time, would you like to continue to be the Captain's Assistant?"

"Yeah, I think I would."

"No, Miss Wildman, Naomi.  Let me be clear on that, if you decide to continue to be Captain's Assistant then I expect you to put all your effort into it.  This won't be just for the fun of it, I will expect to see you even if you don't feel like it that day.  If I have a job for you to do at the exact moment that you were planning to go to the holodeck, then I expect you to perform your duty as Captain's Assistant.  It will also mean that you will take responsibility for your action if something went wrong."

Knowing that Naomi could misinterpret that last sentence, Annika was quick to add, "Let me be clear here.  With taking responsibility I mean that you will come to me and tell me about it, I don't mean that you do what you think you should do.  If there is some problem, any problem at all, I want you to come to me so that we can see if it actually is a problem."

Annika got up and moved around the desk only sit back down in the chair next to Naomi.  "I know that a child of your age should not have to take that kind of responsibility."  Making her voice sound as warm and understanding as she could, Annika added, "So I understand if you don't want to do this.  Normally I wouldn't even ask this of you, but I know now that you yourself wanted to be Captain's Assistant.  I really do want you to continue to be the Captain's assistant, but if I have a Captain's Assistant, then I also want to be sure that this assistant is willing to give a thousand percent for her job, no matter what her age is.  Are you willing to do that, Naomi?"

Naomi took a moment to think about it, something Annika liked a lot, and finally she nodded her head.

"Yes Captain.  I'm willing take on the responsibility of the job.  I really would like to be the Captain's Assistant."

Annika gave Naomi a smile that made the child feel that she had made the right decision.  "I'm glad to hear that.  When I asked you why you hadn't showed up you told me that you know that officially you have no business being here.  You also told me that Captain Janeway had told you that she couldn't give you an official position because you weren't old enough.

"Now, the reason why I asked you if you really wanted this, and if you were willing to give what it would take to be Captain's Assistant is because I'm in a different position that Captain Janeway was in.  Where Captain Janeway had to make sure that all of her decisions would still stick when she returned to the Federation, I'm in the position where I can bend those rules a little, knowing that whatever I decide might not hold up once back in the Federation.  So, please do keep in mind that the position that I'm going to offer you now might not be upheld once we reach the Federation."

Annika got up and walked back to the other side of the desk.  She opened the drawer and took out a small box.  She moved back around the desk and knelt on one knee so that she was on the same eye level as the still sitting child.

"Naomi Wildman, I hereby give you a field commission as Captain's Assistant.  If you accept this position, you will automatically get a field commission as a Starfleet member with the rank of crewman.  As of today, you are allowed to wear a Starfleet uniform and receive the weekly replicator rations any Starfleet member on this ship receives."  Annika leaned a little closer and whispered, "But you will need to ask your mother's permission for spending them.  Sorry, that's part of the deal I made with her.  She had to give the okay before I could offer you this position."  Raising her voice again to normal level, Annika asked.  "Do you take the position as Captain's Assistant, and the accompanying Starfleet commission, Miss Wildman?"

"You mean for real?  As in a real commission?" Naomi asked, not really believing her ears.

Annika reached across the desk and pulled the computer unit closer.  She put the little box she was still holding on the floor and took the computer unit with both hands, showing the screen to Naomi.

Naomi's eyes got wider when she saw that on the screen Voyager's crew manifest was shown, and right above the mentioning 'Wildman Samantha; Lieutenant Junior Grade' she saw the mentioning 'Wildman Naomi; crewman.'

"I'm not kidding, Naomi.  If you accept then you will be officially added to the crew manifest.  As I told you, I can't promise you that Starfleet will uphold your commission, but I can promise you that I won't be the one turning it back.  When we get to the Federation, you will be a crewman," Annika smiled, "unless you managed to get promoted by then.  If your commission won't be upheld, then it will be a Starfleet Admiral that has to turn it back because every Starfleet Captain has to accept it.

"But even if it is turned back, if you do reach the age where you can join Starfleet, then the time served here on Voyager will have to be deducted from the time you have to serve on a starship as an Academy trainee.  No matter what they do once we reach the Federation, if you accept this commission your time as a Starfleet member on Voyager will be official.  All that is needed is for me to touch the log key and this will be added to the main computer, making it official.  So, Miss Wildman, do you want to become a part of Starfleet?"

"I... Yes Captain, I want to," Naomi said with a face splitting smile.

"In that case, why don't you make it official?  Go ahead, touch the log key."

Naomi reached out her hand, hesitating only for a split second before pushing the log key confidently.

"Alright, since you are now an official Starfleet member, I'm afraid that I have to ask you to take off that pip that you are wearing; crewmen don't have pips."

"Of course, Captain.  But, um, can... can I keep it?  Captain Janeway gave it to me."

"Of course you can," Annika said in complete understanding.  "In fact, I would let you continue to wear it, but it is against regulations and now that you are a crew member Starfleet regulations have to be followed."

"I understand, Captain," Naomi said as she took off the pip.

"Good.  But your collar doesn't have to go undecorated."  Annika picked up the small box and gave it to Naomi.

Naomi opened the box and inside she saw a small two by three centimeter dark gray shield with a single light gray bar across it; the insignia of a Starfleet crewman.  It certainly wasn't as shiny as golden pip but Naomi immediately loved it.  She had always known that her pip had no official meaning, but this little dull gray piece of metal had an official meaning.  It indicated a rank that she really had, that it was the lowest rank in Starfleet didn't matter to Naomi, point was that it was an real and official rank.

"Thank you, Captain."  Naomi took off her pip and placed it securely in the little box.  Then she picked up the insignia, her insignia, and brought it to her neck.  But just before she attached it to her collar she looked at Annika and held out her hand.  "Would you?"

Annika gave Naomi broad smile as she took the insignia and carefully attached it to the girl's collar.  "There you go, crewman."

"Thank you, Captain."

"Alright, Crewman, that will be all for now.  I expect you to report for duty tomorrow one hour before your lessons begin.  Then I expect to see you again one hour after your classes are over.  Do you think that this will be a problem for you?"

Naomi calculated the times and realized that to make it one hour before classes began, and eating breakfast before that, she would actually have to get up a half hour before her mother did.  Naomi had a feeling that Annika knew that only too well.  "No Captain, that won't be a problem at all."

"Good."  Annika knew of course that she would not expect the girl that early every day, but it was a good way to test the girl's determination.  After all, what better way to test a child's determination than having her get up early every day all by herself?  Annika had set herself a line of ten duty days.  If Naomi was on time in the morning ten days in a row, then Annika would tell the girl that she didn't have to come in so early anymore.  "In that case, Dismissed, crewman, I expect you bright and early tomorrow morning."

"Yes Captain," Naomi said as she hopped out of the chair.

"One moment, Naomi," Annika said as she stopped the girl from leaving by placing a hand on her arm.

"Yes, Captain?"

"Annika," Annika corrected.  "I have a, um, personal favor to ask of you."

"Yes?" Naomi asked intrigued.

"B'Elanna told me that you are good friends with Seven of Nine."

"I was."

"You are," Annika corrected.  "Seven isn't dead; just not on this ship.  We received a message from her that lets us believe that she isn't 'just' alive, but that she is actually doing very well.  But the reason I asked, since you know her so well, would you mind telling me about her?"

"Um, she... you..."

"We are biologically the same person, yes, but there is where all comparison ends.  As you can see, I never met the Borg, in fact, we here never heard of the Borg.  All I know about them is what I read in the files.  Because Seven and I are the same person, yet at the same time we aren't the same person, I'm curious about her.  So, would you mind telling me about her?"

"Not at all.  What would you like to know?"

"All that you want to tell me," Annika answered with a smile.  "Let's start at the beginning, what was it like meeting her for the first time?"

"God, you should have seen the look on her face when I came down on her, she was almost crying."

"Then why did you come down on her?" B'Elanna asked as she handed a padd to Annika.  Here, how do you like this?"

Annika took the padd and look at the screen.  "I came down on her because I needed to know if she could take being reprimanded.  I mean, I hardly could make her an official crew member if she had stormed out or something like that.  If she had done that as a crew member than I would have to send her to the brig.  B'Elanna, I have seen enough imprisoned children, I don't want to be the one doing the imprisoning.

"But on the other hand, I swore that I would uphold Federation laws as best as I could.  That means that I can't accept any disrespect from any crew member, not even the youngest one.  I just had to be sure, for both her and my sake." Annika tapped against the padd with her finger.  "And this, seems like a waste of space to me."

"So what would you suggest?"  As Annika started working on the padd, B'Elanna continued the other conversation they were having.  "But, despite having to be hard on her, you still made that girls day today.  Kahless, did you see her walking around in that uniform?  She was sooo proud, she was beaming like a star going nova."

"Actually, no.  I didn't see her again after she left, but I'm expecting her tomorrow one hour before she has to go to her lessons.  Here, what about this?"

"One hour before her lessons?  You are making the poor girl get up early?  You are so mean."  B'Elanna took the padd looked at what Annika had suggested.

"Oh, I can be mean if need be.  Don't worry, I'm not going to continue doing that, just for ten days or so. Well, what do you think?"

"Um," B'Elanna said, all conversation about Naomi forgotten.  "There is only one bed in this drawing. A king size bed actually."

"No really?  Gee, I wonder how I could have missed that, considering that I'm the one putting it in there."


"What?  I thought you would be glad to see only one bed.  I mean, us in sleeping the same bed, how easy would it be for innocent me to give in to your heinous urges to have your wicked way with me?"

"I would never..."

"Just imagine," Annika said as she stepped so close to B'Elanna that they were almost touching.  "I bet, with such a nice and comfy bed waiting for me at the end of a day, I might just be tempted to crawl right in.  Of course, lying by myself in such a big bed would feel a little lonely.  Maybe what I would need would be some wonderful woman in that bed with me, using her hands in the most wonderful way as she..."

"Annika," B'Elanna pleaded.

"...As she gives me a great backrub."

"You really ARE mean," B'Elanna said as she closed her eyes and let out a shaky breath.  "You do realize that there might come a day that I can't help myself and I really will jump you when you do something like that?"

"And who's to say that I'm not waiting for that to happen?" Annika said as she stepped even closer, molding her body against B'Elanna's.

B'Elanna took another deep breath, but immediately knew that it was a mistake.  With Annika standing so close, the deep breath was filled with the wonderful sweet smell that was Annika.  Losing all control, B'Elanna took a strong hold of the blonde woman and kissed her, hard.  B'Elanna felt a little like a predator as she bent Annika backwards until all that was keeping her from falling was the secure hold of B'Elanna's arms, but as she felt Annika responding to the kiss all that filled B'Elanna's mind was showing the blonde the feelings she had for her.

Eventually the kiss ended and B'Elanna helped Annika back to a secure stand on her feet.  "I'm sorry.  I didn..."

"If you dare to say that you didn't mean what I felt in that kiss I swear that our relationship is over right now."

They looked at each other for a moment before Annika liked her lips and smiled.  "Wow.  I knew you were holding out on me, but, wow.  Damn you can kiss woman.  Why didn't kiss me like that before?"

"I, I guess that I didn't want to scare you off," B'Elanna admitted hesitantly.

"Not surprisingly," Annika said in understanding.  "I have been keeping you going slow, telling you that I'm not ready, yet, for more."  Annika pulled B'Elanna close and gave her a tender kiss.  "Well, let me tell you, I actually kinda liked it a lot when you just kissed me like that.  I wouldn't mind if you kissed me again like that from time to time.  After all, don't you think it would be a good 'punishment' for me when I drive you wild again?"

"I would hardly call kissing you 'punishment,' but I'm glad that I don't have to hold back anymore when I just want to grab you and kiss you senseless," B'Elanna said with a broad smile.

"Kiss me senseless, huh?  Well, I think you just have to prove to me that you can really kiss me senseless, one good kiss isn't going to cut it, you know?"

"Oh, I will, believe me.  Now that I know that I can, I definitely will."

"So, what's stopping you from kissing me like that again right now?" Annika asked, raising her eyebrow a little in a small challenge.

B'Elanna grinned.  "Because you yourself said that it was a punishment for when you drive me wild.  You aren't driving me wild right now."

"Oh, but I could change that," Annika said with a sweet smile as she once again stood so close to B'Elanna that their uniform covered breasts were slightly touching.

"You could," B'Elanna agreed as she took a step back.  "But you won't."

"And why won't I?"

"Because you like to play with fire, but you are still not stupid enough to fire a phaser into a Bezyion gas cloud."

Annika tilted her head a little, thinking about what B'Elanna had said.  "Are you telling me that I'm pushing the line where you can't control yourself?"

"No.  I told you that you would never, you know.  But what you are pushing is the line where it stops being fun for me.  Annika, please understand, I love it when you play with me, but there is only so much playing at a time that I can take before I have to do something, even if it is just walking away.  At this moment I really am ready to jump you; and we both don't want that."

"Oh, come on, one more kiss won't hurt," Annika persisted as she stepped closer again and once more closing the small distance between them.  "Besides, maybe that is what I have been waiting for.  Maybe I'm just waiting for you to jump me, touch me, take me.  Just think about it, B'Elanna. Your hands on my hot flesh, touching me in places where I..."

B'Elanna sighed and put her hands against Annika's shoulders to make sure that some distance remained between them.  "Um, I think that it's better if I go now.  I'll go and... check the warp core.  I see you later."

"Wait," Annika said as she put her hands over B'Elanna's to stop her from moving.  Looking B'Elanna in the eyes, Annika could clearly see the barely contained desire burning in them.  Annika nodded her head a little and leaned in to place a soft kiss on B'Elanna's cheek.  B'Elanna's reaction at that moment was exactly what Annika had been waiting for.

She had trusted once before in her life, thinking that she had found a person she loved.  It had ended Annika having to use her knives to defend herself.  Thanks to her knives Annika's body hadn't suffered, but her soul had.  Then, she had promised herself that she would never trust fully again.  But that was then, and things did change.

All the playing she had done with B'Elanna had been done for the fun of it, but there had been an ulterior motive as well.  She had deliberately been pushing B'Elanna to where she could no longer control herself and would do something.  And Annika was delighted with the reaction she had gotten.  Despite basically offering herself to B'Elanna, the Klingon didn't take her up on it and instead wanted to get away, and that for one reason, and one reason alone; Annika hadn't actually said the words.

"B'Elanna, thank you for wanting to leave; you have no idea that that means to me, and I don't think I have the words to describe to you what that means to me.  You are a wonderful person, B'Elanna; a person I love.  I already knew for some time now that that I loved you; I told you as much.  But now I also know that I'm so in love with you that for the first time in my life the words 'for the rest of my life' enter my mind when thinking about someone.  Thank you, B'Elanna, for making my life worth living."

"Did... did you just say what I think you said?" B'Elanna asked, not believing her ears and more than a little surprised by this sudden turn of events.

"B'Elanna, please don't make me repeat myself.  Instead please, please, make my day."

Despite her previous state of arousal, B'Elanna had no problem understanding what Annika meant.  She gave Annika a brilliant smile before she treated Annika to a long and sensual kiss.  There was no raw passion in this kiss now. B'Elanna wanted to show Annika how she felt about her and B'Elanna did her best to put all her feelings into the kiss.  Eventually they broke apart and B'Elanna softly captured Annika's head between her hands.

Standing in quarters that weren't theirs yet, it was hardly the setting that B'Elanna would have thought of to ask what she was going to ask.  In fact, she hadn't really thought about asking before, just about what it would be like.  But looking at the woman she loved so much, B'Elanna decided that now was actually the perfect time.

"I love you, Annika Hansen.  I don't just love you; I'm in love with you.  You are the best thing that ever happened to me; you make my life complete.  Thank you for giving me your trust and opening your heart to me.  I promise you, on my life and honor that I will never disgrace the trust you put in me.  You are the person I would like to spend the rest of my life with.  Annika Hansen, though this hardly is the setting I would have chosen for this, it does feel like the perfect time to ask."

B'Elanna let go of Annika's head, took hold of her left hand and knelt down on one knee.  "Annika, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?  Will you marry me?"

Annika closed her eyes as she let B'Elanna's words sink in.  After a moment she knelt as well and looked B'Elanna deep in the eyes.  At that very moment, hearing the full sincerity in B'Elanna's words and seeing deep into eyes that were so open that Annika could swear that she was looking right into B'Elanna's soul, Annika knew that she had made the right choice to trust one more time.  To trust this woman that had somehow managed to become the most important thing in Annika's life.

For all her life Annika wanted only one thing; freedom.  And now that she had that freedom, she would gladly give it up again if having that freedom meant that she couldn't have B'Elanna in her life.

Annika leaned in and shared a long, sensual kiss with B'Elanna.  After they finally broke apart, Annika nodded her head with a smile.  "Yes.  Most definitely yes.  I'll marry you.  It will be my honor to give you the honor of marrying you."

"Have been listening to Klingon conversations, huh?"  B'Elanna asked before she realized what the question would remind Annika of.  "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to,"

"Yes, I have," Annika interrupted.  "It's interesting what you can learn about Klingon customs by listening to the Klingon guards talking."  Annika caressed B'Elanna's cheek and smiled.  "B'Elanna, don't weigh your words with me; my wife to be should not have to watch what she says.  Fact is that I was a slave for fifteen years, a master slave for ten of those years.  Every possible word you could say could trigger a memory of that time.  It's really alright to ask me if I know something because of that time as a slave.  Hell, where else would I know it from?"

"I guess you are right.  It's just that... I don't want to hurt you."

"And you won't hurt me with a question like that," Annika assured.  "But I think that it would be a good idea to have a long talk about what we both could be hurt by."  Annika smiled broadly before adding.  "After all, seeing that we are going to get married, we want to know what does hurt us so that we don't do it, right?"

"Right," B'Elanna agreed with a smile just a broad.  Damn it felt good to hear that; get married.  She got up, and helped Annika up by the hand that she was still holding.  "How about we get to our quarters and do some talking.  These quarters aren't our home, yet."

"Right," Annika agreed before picking up the padd that they had been using from the floor.  "But let's quickly get this over with so that we can place the order and have engineering deliver the stuff we need."

"Sounds like a plan," B'Elanna agreed.

"Alright then, back to what we were discussing," Annika said as she quickly looked at the padd.  "The bed.  Fact is that if things go like we both hope they will go, there definitely will come a time that we share the bed while making love.  Because, believe me, I will most certainly make love to my wife."

"Annika," B'Elanna interrupted.  "I love you, and I want to marry you, but I don't want to make love to you until you are absolutely ready, even if we have been married for years by that time.  I,"

Now it was Annika that interrupted.  "B'Elanna, don't you get it?  You just gave me the thing I was waiting for; you wanted to walk away even though I was coming on to you so strong that I would have to get naked if I had wanted to come on any more.  Yet you wanted to walk away.  That is what I needed, and now I am ready to make love to you, not to have sex, but to make love.

"But you see, there is one thing.  I have had sex before, but I never made love before.  I want to give myself to you, B'Elanna.  God, do I want to give myself to you.  But I want to do that when feel like it at that very moment.  I don't want to plan it, I don't want to set a time for it, I don't want to set the scenery.  What I want is to look at you, think 'damn I want to make love to her' and then I will make love to you simply because I can.  Is that alright with you?"

"That is very alright with me."  Thinking about it for a moment, B'Elanna grinned.  "Actually, I kinda like it."

You like the idea of me deciding if we make love?" Annika asked to clarify, slightly confused over how easy B'Elanna handed that decision over to her.

"Yeah," B'Elanna agreed, nodding her head to give the word more meaning.

"You aren't just talking about one time, are you?"

"No.  I'm talking about always."

"But that isn't fair.  You,"

"Annika, I once told you that even though I'm only half Klingon, I have a fully Klingon libido.  I'm not kidding with that.  I think that thanks to the fact that I'm half human I can control my urges better than a full Klingon can, but I still have those urges.  You heard about someone not wanting to have sex because they have a 'headache?'"

"I have," Annika agreed before adding with a smile, "and I have had them."

"Well, ever since I have been sexually active, I have never ever had a 'headache.'  I'm always ready and willing.  The only exceptions that I ever had were I was ready and willing but didn't end up having sex were when I felt that the situation didn't allow for it."

"So, you mean that whenever I want... I can?"

"As long as it's 'safe,' yes.  I don't mind making love in other places than the bed, I actually like a change of scenery, but I'm not into making love in places where people can walk in or something like that."

"Well, I don't think that this will be a problem," Annika assured.  "I'm not into that either, hell I even want my sex to be private, let alone when we don't have sex but make love."

"In that case, yes, when ever you want."  Realizing how that sounded, B'Elanna added, "Don't get me wrong, I don't have to, you know.  I can go without."

"Oh, I know you can go without," Annika assured.  "After all, you have been going without ever since I met you, and I'm around you so much that I'm sure that you also didn't have the time to... relieve some tension.  Am I right?"

"You are.  And it proves my point.  I don't need it, but I sure will want it whenever you are in the mood to make love."

Annika smiled and then winked at B'Elanna.  "I'll definitely keep that in mind."  Then she sighed.  "But, we really should get back to our quarters.  I want to continue the several conversations we already had, including this one, in a more comfortable setting; preferably sitting on our couch, right in your arms.  So let me come back to the bed, again.  Despite what else it might, will, be used for, that really isn't the reason why I'm suggesting the big bed.  Look, while it's a very nice bed with more than enough room for both of us, it actually takes up less room than two separate beds would since those separate beds would be places apart from each other.  By having only one bed, we could place a dresser on both sides of the bed, one for each of us.

"B'Elanna, we sleep in the same bed half of the time as it is anyway.  At least once every two nights I wake up in the morning in your arms because you slipped into my bed at night to keep my nightmares away.  I kinda like waking up like that.  Actually, I don't just kinda like that; I like it a lot when I wake up in your arms.  I wouldn't mind waking up like that every morning."

"And I wouldn't mind being able to hold you without you first having a nightmare so that I have a reason to crawl into your bed," B'Elanna admitted.  "Alright, one bed it is."

"Alright then," Annika said as she took hold of B'Elanna's hand and softly pulled her along.  "Let's get out of here.  I really want to go to get to our quarters so that we can cuddle and talk some more."

"Mistress, what is this?" Seven asked as they walked passed a building that had several live, and rather large, animals in old fashioned metal bars cages on display, basically functioning as windows.

Torres looked at the building and grinned.  "Isn't it obvious?  It's a pet store."

"A pet store?" Seven repeated as she saw one of the animals in the cages launch itself against the metal bars to try and get to a person inside the store.

"Sure, where else do you think that we would get our Targs, Tika cats, Andar beasts, and so on?"

"Actually, I never gave the matter much thought.  The Borg removed all information about Klingon pets from the Hive mind, deeming it irrelevant.  All I know about Klingon pets is mentioning that I accidentally came across while researching other things in the Voyager computer.  I have heard about Targs and Tika cats, but that is basically the extent of my knowledge on the subject.  What are those?" Seven asked as she pointed to the animal that once again ran head first into the metal bars, trying to reach someone inside the store.

"Those are battle Targs.  They are bred specifically for the pit fights.  I personally really don't like the pit fights that much.  I don't see the fun in two battles Targs fighting each other to the death, I much rather watch a good 'anything goes' wrestle match between two Klingons.  But, pit fights are very big with most members of the High Council, and I'm not stupid enough to get the whole High Council against me for something like pit fights.  I rather save 'my' battles for times where it really matters.  Come on, let's go do some research for you."

They walked into the crowded store and Seven counted the seconds until once again there was nobody close to them.  "There are definitely some advantages to having the Klingon Intendant being your tour guide," Seven said with a small smile.

Most people recognized Torres and made sure not to stand too close to her without being invited closer.  The few that didn't recognize her were still smart enough to move away from the people that were guarded by four armed guards.  Weapon laws for projectile and energy weapons were very strict on Kronos, and only a select few were allowed to carry the disruptor rifles that the guards had slung across their backs.

Within a minute of entering the store, an old Klingon stepped closer than the rest were and nodded his head once in greeting.  "Intendant," the man looked at Seven and while he didn't nod his head this time, he still greeted her by addressing her with ma'am.'  Then he looked back at Torres.  "My name it Qor'E, owner of this store.  Is there anything I can help you with?  Is there a pet, maybe, that you are looking for?"

"Actually I already have a pet, and a beautiful one at that," Torres said, patting Seven softly on the shoulder.  "But she is the high maintenance kind and I don't think I would have the energy to deal with a second pet."

"I did hear that you had taken a body slave, Intendant, may I congratulate you on your excellent taste?"

"You may and you just did.  Well, as it is, my pet here doesn't know much about Klingon pets... the kind that doesn't stand on two feet that is.  Can you arrange someone to give us a little tour of your store; someone that will be able to answer any questions my pet might have?"

"It would be my honor if I personally could show both of you around," Qor'E said.  "Do you have a preference of where to start?"

Torres patted Seven softly on her rear and then used that same hand on that same place to push Seven forward a little, making it very clear that she was handing the conversation over to the blonde.

"Seeing that we are standing between Targs, Targs seem like a good place to start," Seven said.  She looked around her, seeing at least thirty Targs of several different sizes and colorings.

The spectrum was so broad that really the only thing they had in common was the average body line that reminded Seven of Earth's 'bison' that she had once seen in one of Chakotay's holodeck programs.  With the head being set lower as the shoulders and attached to the body through a thick neck. It gave the back of the animal the rough shape of an upturned boat because the back side of the animals was also lower as its shoulders. 

"There seem to be quite some different races of Targs.  Are these all the races that exist or are there still more?  I have heard talk about Targs before, but from it I always assumed that that it was only one species and did not have sub-races."

"Oh no, there are dozens of different breeds, or races as you call them," Qor'E assured.  "I have only eight races in my store at the moment, but there are many more.  They have been bred for centuries to fulfill different tasks and now every race also has its own character trades."

Qor'E Stepped up to the metal cage and immediately the battle Targ charged at him, crashing once more into the metal bars which didn't seem to bother it at all.  "These are battle Targs for instance."

"I know; my mistress just told me about them and that they are used for 'Pit fights.'"

"Ah, well, in that case have a look at this one here."  Qor'E walked over to one of the other cages.  Unlike the metal bar cages that held the battle Targs, most other cages were made from transparent aluminum and Seven had a clear view of the Targ that Qor'E was pointing at.  It was only half as big as the pit Targs and its shoulder height would barely come up to Seven's knee at most.

"These are commonly known as Toddler Targs, though that isn't their official name.  They are as different from the Pit Targs as can be.  They are very docile and because of that they are normally bought as a child's first Targ.  Their average life span is much lower than that of most other Targ races.  Where most Targs can get as old as forty years, these can only get as old as ten years.  But then, that really isn't too bad.  Once a child is ten years they have mostly outgrown these tame animals anyway and want something new."

"I am surprised that these animals are so commonly used as pets; I did hear stories about eating parts of Targs at certain occasions."

"Yet another race," Qor'E explained.  "Parts of Targs are used in certain rituals, like the raw heart of a Targ being eaten during the Day of Honor for instance.  For that we use the sacrificial Targs which have been specifically bred for that.  We use that race for the sacrifices because it's the only race that doesn't bond with Klingons."

"Bond with Klingons?" Seven repeated.

"Of course, why," Qor'E interrupted himself when he remembered that this body slave basically knew nothing about Targs.  "Oh, I mean, yes, that is why the Targs, which can be, a hand full, depending on the race, still make such great pets.  Targs bond with other species.  Not just Klingons, but also Cardassians, Bajorans, and, well, others.  If they like someone then they start to see that person as their dominant; the pack leader.  The best thing is that they see that person as their pack leader, even if that person is not actually the leader of the family.  Here, let me demonstrate."

Qor'E once again walked to the cages that held the battle Targs, and once again the same Targ charged at the cage bars.  "HatiK here is a champion pit Targ.  I have been offered one-hundred-thousand credits for him.  But he bonded with my daughter and she doesn't want to let him go.  Since she also trains him, I leave the decision on whether, and if when, to sell him up to her.  If anyone but her, even I, would go into that cage, we would be ripped to pieces."  Qor'E motioned to a younger woman standing amongst the bystanders which came closer.


"Care to demonstrate?" Qor'E asked his daughter, knowing that she had heard the conversation and therefore also knew what he meant.

"Of course," The young woman said as she walked to the cage.  Even before the woman entered the cage, Seven could see a difference in the Targ's behavior.  This time it didn't charge at the bars; instead it backed up a little to make room for the in-swinging door.  The woman kneeled on one knee and opened her arms.  Less than a second later those arms were filled with the once so hostile Targ that now seemed even tamer than the Toddler Targ.

"Interesting," Seven said.  Though privately she found it a lot more than just interesting.  "But if Targ bond to only one person, why do people offer to buy him?  What good would it be to them?"

"Well, to let him fight you don't need to touch him," Qor'E said reasonably.  "You can simply immobilize him with a portable tractor-beam and move him into the pit to fight.  And you don't necessarily have to get into the cage to feed him.  But beside that, Targs only bond with one person, but that doesn't mean that they can't bond with another person later on.  They bond with someone and as long as that person is around they don't bond with anyone else.  But if they haven't seen that person for over half a year or so and also don't smell that person anymore in the place that they live at, Targs will find another person to bond with.  Good thing too," Qor'E grinned before adding, "Otherwise I would never be able to sell the difficult cases by saying; 'don't worry, once he is bonded to you he'll settle down.'"

"Thank you for your demonstration," Seven said to the young woman as she left the cage.  Seven was slightly surprised when the young woman merely walked passed her without even looking at Seven and joined her father and Torres.

Seven looked at Torres and raised her eyebrow a little in question.  But before she could say or do anything else, Torres spoke up.  "Qor'E, I and my pet are rather enjoying our stay in your store.  Because of that, I will, forget, your daughter's... oversight.  But it would be a good thing if you on your turn don't forget it.  I'm sure that I don't have to explain to you the rules of property and who your daughter was insulting by not showing the proper respect to my body slave."  Torres looked directly at Qor'E's daughter and added, "If you don't get out of my fucking sight within the next ten seconds, you will be cut to pieces and fed to these other Targs as the evening meal.  Now get."

Qor'E's daughter looked as if she wanted to say something but before she could, Qor'E grabbed her by her neck and pushed her to the closest door and pushed her through.  "Stay there, I'll deal with you later."  When he was back he first nodded his head at Torres before looking at Seven and once more nodding his head a little.  "My apologies, ma'am.  I will talk to my daughter later on."

"I accept your apology. However, if I were you I would do more than merely talk to her.  My mistress is a very forgiving person, and it is only because of this that your daughter is still alive.  I think that some kind of punishment is in order."  Though privately Seven didn't really think that it was much of a deal that Qor'E's daughter had refused to talk to her, Seven knew that because of her official status as Torres' 'property' Qor'E's daughter's actions deserved more than just a talking to.

"Oh believe me, she will get a fitting punishment."

"Very well, in that case, about the Targs, are there also wild predatory Targs?  I do know that most animals that are used as pets also normally have, or had, several races that were also predatory animals.  Those are normally the first to be caught and over time it is from them that the other races are bred."

"It is the same here on Kronos.  We still have quite some predatory cats, but I'll come back to those when we move over to the cats section of my store.  As for the Targs, there are about twenty different races of wild Targs and except for one or two they all won't hesitate to kill and eat smaller animals, but most of them are no danger to us; which is why we let them be.  Most wild Targs are about the size of the toddler Targs and will stay well away from any Klingon.  They see us as bigger predators than they are and fear that they will end up as food themselves, or so we suspect.

"There are only two exceptions to that.  First there is the BeceEn forest Targ.  Though it too is not much bigger then a toddler Targ, it is the only Targ that hunts in packs.  There are normally up to twenty in a pack and they are known to attack and eat a careless Klingon or two.  The second is the mountain Targ.  It hunts alone, like all other Targs except for the BeceEn Targ, and is normally found in mountains all over Kronos.  It is one of the biggest races, the average shoulder height would come almost up to my waist and it is without doubt the strongest race Targ that exists.  Oh, there are other races that have traits that are better.  For instance, the battle Targs here can bite down with almost twice as much force, but as an overall package no other Targ can match a mountain Targ."

"I am surprised that those are not captured and used for pit fights then," Seven said.  "I would assume that such a fight would be more, interesting, than even a battle Targ fight."

"I'm sure it would be," Qor'E agreed.  "But there are two things that work against it.  First, even though they are on the top of the predatory Targs list, they don't fight others of their race like they do other animals. Probably because they don't see them as food like they see all other animals as food.  Two mountain Targs 'fight' each other by butting heads until one of them gives up and leaves.  They don't even bare their teeth, though they do growl.  Put a battle Targ against a mountain Targ and the battle Targ will be dead within a minute, but two mountain Targs... boring.

"The second reason is the bonding.  Even wild Targs can, and do on occasion, bond with Klingons or other races like that, but the mountain Targ differs by the fact that they don't bond easily.  With almost all other Targ races, you know that the Targ will bond with you if you and the Targ just spend enough time together, but the mountain Targ is very picky.  First off, most spend their life never even coming close to a Klingon; they are wild animals after all.  If they do come close to a Klingon, the Klingon might very well be dinner for them.

"But even if you capture a mountain Targ and have it interact with Klingons every day, there still is a big chance that it will never bond with anyone, but if they do bond, they bond for life.  So the chances of finding someone that a mountain Targ will bond with, and then also having that someone be willing to let that Targ fight in pit fights... the chances of finding that combination are very small.  And as I said, a fight between two mountain Targs is boring, and a fight between a mountain Targ and another race of Targ might be bloody, but it is still boring because you know up front which one will win; no credits to be made from betting there.

"It's a pity really.  Because the mountain Targ is the most intelligent of the Targs, and while it's a wild animal, it still is the easiest of Targs to train... if the mountain Targ is bonded to the trainer that is.  Nobody else would be able to train it, but if the mountain Targ is bonded to that person, the Targ is very easy to train because it wants to please the person it is bonded to... or so we assume."

"You stated with several races already that 'we think,' 'we assume.'  Why is this not certain?"

"Well, even the intelligent mountain Targ is still a Targ.  They don't register as sentient life.  So we can only study and assume, and while others may say that they know this or that; I don't.  If I don't know for sure, I will tell you what is commonly thought or assumed, but I'm not going to tell you I know this for sure." Qor'E grinned before adding, "I don't want the Intendant's body slave to be bitten by a Targ because I assured you that it was safe, I have a feeling that if would be bad for my health.  I'll just save my sales talks for the normal costumers, especially those that are stupid enough to ask me if the Targ that just charged at them is of an aggressive race."

"A smart man," Torres spoke up with a grin.  "You got more questions, my pet?  Otherwise we can move on to the other animals; I have other places I still want to show you today."

"No, mistress.  My curiosity about Targs is satisfied.  If you prefer we could leave instead of looking at other animals."

"Hmm.  Tell you what, we'll take half an hour to walk around and have a quick look at the animals, and this evening I'll download information on those animals on a padd for you to read."

"An excellent idea, mistress.  Thank you for indulging my curiosity."

Torres put her arm around Seven, resting her hand on the blonde's behind.  She gave it a soft, but very possessive squeeze before saying, "That's alright.  I'll let you make it up to me later."

"Yes mistress.  Mistress?"


"Could we skip the rest of the sightseeing and go back to the palace now?  I would really like to thank you very, very, thoroughly right now."

Torres laughed.  Liking Seven's behavior, and loving the fact of knowing that probably every single one that had heard the blonde speak was wishing right now that they would be the one taking the blonde home.  "Horny again, my pet?"

"Always, when you are close mistress," Seven affirmed, partly to keep up Torres' image of being a Klingon with a very healthy sex life, and partly because it was simply true.  Sometimes the simplest of gestures from Torres would make Seven want to make love to her.

"Well, my little vixen, as much as I like you horny, I think we better stick to the sightseeing for now.  After all, we want you to be really, really thankful later, don't we?"

"Yes, mistress, we do."

"Alright, Qor'E, show the way."

"Of course, Intendant," Qor'E said as he preceded them to a different part of the store.

Chapter 10

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