DISCLAIMER: I own nothing but my imagination in this Star Trek: Voyager / Stargate: Atlantis crossover story. Star Trek: Voyager belongs to Gene Roddenberry, Rick Berman, Michael Piller, Jeri Taylor, Paramount Studios, UPN, Viacom and whoever else owns pieces of the Star Trek franchise. Stargate: Atlantis belongs to MGM, SciFi various individuals and companies and whoever owns them.
SPOILERS: For ST:V and SG:A – to the end of their respective series (although focusing on the first three years of Atlantis). Everything beyond is definitely takes a dive into the wide ocean that is Alt-U.
WARNING: Descriptions of slavery/forced prostitution (nothing graphic); violence; mature themes.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To ladyjanus03[at]yahoo.ca

Be My Homeward Dove
By ladyjanus


Part 1

In this place, she has no name. Not any more. All her captors have left her with is the shame of what she has become—what she has been forced to become.

At what point does even simple existence become so painful, so abhorrent that it overcomes the sin of suicide?

She's asked herself this more than once, and each time finding no answer, slipped deeper into the filth—and in doing so, kept on existing.

She has never been a particularly religious woman. Yet, she spends her hours contemplating sin. Never grace, for there is no grace here. No grace of God … no grace of Man. No God … no men … period.

The race of Man ... the species known as Human ... does not exist here.

Of course, other species have males and females, all depending on biology forged on a multitude of worlds where she's sure Human feet have never walked, and she has been variously acquainted with multi-sex species, hermaphroditic species, parthnogenic species, and even one member of an agamogenic species—it just wanted to experience the forbidden depravity inherent in conjugation with a sexual species—but there are no men, and she is the only woman here.

That is, if she's really here at all.

Aye, there's the rub. No way to tell between illusion and reality.

And she feels thoroughly sickened again because she wants this to be reality ... because for this to be an illusion would make it even worse.

In a distance, she hears agonised screaming that sounds real enough—a hoarse voice, most likely female. There are other females in this place, but she is the only woman.

When the client finishes his business with her body, he collapses on her back, crushing her into the bed. His foul breath is hot on the back of her neck and she feels a measure of relief that his species prefers to take their females from behind. As he climbs off her, she rolls onto her side, draws her knees up to her chest and waits for him to leave.

At least he has translation technology; it's rather rudimentary and garbles Dom'ruun, the language of the species that owns her body, but she thinks his species is called Saibo and the dull pain in her lower abdomen tells her he's definitely male.

She hears him dress and listens as he pays his overtime balance to Kaan'och, the son of her owner Kan'oh. There is a difference in their names; it took her four days and twenty-five lashes to learn it … she who is fluent and literate in five languages … she who is knowledgeable in a over dozen others … she who has always prided herself on her skills as a linguist and diplomat. But none of the languages of Man are spoken here and diplomacy is moot for a nation of one.

It's taken her the six or seven months she's been here to learn Dom'ruun. It's hard to keep track of time; there is no night or day in space, and this station is always open for business.

When the door slides shut again, she gets up slowly, shuffles through the opposite door leading to the communal bathroom, wincing with each step. She climbs into a cleaner stall. It begins automatically. There are no water showers here to wash away her tears, therefore she doesn't cry anymore … she simply stands with her legs apart and waits for the strange energy waves to clean away all genetic evidence the client has left on her body—inside and out. It automatically senses when she's clean and shuts itself off. She leaves the stall and slowly makes her way over to the shelving alcove beside the door to her room.

When she'd first started to use it, she would automatically look for a towel to dry off with … even though it wasn't a shower … even though she wasn't wet …

She takes underwear and the first dress from the top of the pile and pulls them on. There isn't much to it. The dress is strapless and made of some kind of fabric that moulds itself to her body, yet feels like silk. It barely reaches to mid-thigh, and there's a blue sash that ties around her waist—the same colour as the trim at the top of the bust-line.

Imssan comes in with a pile of clothing and proceeds to distribute them among the alcoves. He's very old—has been a slave here for twelve greater senas, he's told her. She's fairly certain that senas means cycle or year and there are twelve senas in a greater senas. He has six digits on each hand, is somewhat reptilian, and his species is called Rrathenin.

"Ah, Dar," he says in a sibilant whisper to her, smiling—at least she thinks it's a smile.

Dar is not her name, but it's as good a name as any to answer to in this place. He pulls a small phial from one of his innumerable pockets and hands it to her. She takes it gratefully and tosses back the vile-tasting liquid; a restorative, he's told her. She suspects some form of narcotic as a gentle warmth spreads from the centre of her belly to the rest of her body. She feels almost Human again and wonders if she's becoming addicted.

She has never yelled at Imssan or hit him; he takes it for kindness. He takes it for friendship.

"Kan'oh has acquired another one," he says softly. She frowns at him in confusion. Why ever would the little alien think that she'd be interested in Kan'oh's latest acquisition? "I think she is the same as you—" He grins, showing gums where sharp teeth should be; her eyes widen in shock. "I glimpsed a little of her biomedical scans while Chad'oh was doing her baseline readings and checking her for communicable diseases. They look like your baselines. Her head-fur is a little different colour from yours—like ore-rust—but she speaks the same incomprehensible nonsense you did when you first came here."

For a moment her heart soars—another Human here—and then it crashes upon the jagged rocks of harsh reality. Another Human woman here!

Imssan looks intently at her; she thinks she sees pity in his yellow eyes. "Kan'oh is disciplining her now in the display room," he says. He's no longer smiling. "I hear that she's special order, and must be made ready for one of the Shenloral'fen in six days."

The Shenloral'fen … the local royalty.

"Some of those not currently engaged with clients have gone to watch."

She nods dumbly before finding her voice. "Imssan," she says, willing herself to stop the trembling of her hands—she hadn't noticed it before. "Thank you for telling me."

He nods back to her as she hurries from the bathroom to the display room. She knows what discipline means, and she hears the woman long before she enters.

Imssan is right; her hair is a shade of auburn that even damp, hints at a much redder shade when this woman was younger. Its shoulder-length strands are plastered to her face and head by the sweat pouring off her slim, pale body.

Dar shakes her head; hair colour doesn't matter, but all of a sudden she remembers a time when it did matter to her far more than it should have. She's never thought of herself as vain, but she has spent her share of time washing, conditioning and styling her hair. She's spent her share of money on beauty salons and the occasional spa when she got older, on an ill-advised bleach blonde phase a few years ago and an even more ill-advised, punk phase when she was a teenager ... with her mother yelling at her that she looked like "some vagabond street child with no home!"

"I am your Shando'fen—say it!" Kan'oh roars at the naked woman—hanging from the ceiling by a pair of electrostatic manacles—as he jabs at her with the agoniser, which looks like every cattle prod or long-handle taser Dar has ever seen.

"No!" the woman croaks, and even in the throat-tearing screams as the agoniser's energy plays over sweat-drenched skin, Dar hears what Kan'oh never will. This woman will never break; she'll die first.

"Shando'fen!" Dar calls above the woman's agony. Master!

He whips around to face her, shock and fury burning in his gaze. He points the agoniser at her, sending a writhing lash of energy to envelop her body. Dar stands still, clenches her fists and fights against the urge to scream. In the end, she screams anyway.

When the energy dissipates, she whimpers, but lifts her heavy head to meet his gaze again. "Shando'fen," she repeats again. "I ask you to give her to me, please," she says in carefully articulated Dom'ruun, as she climbs out on a limb she hopes won't be sawed off behind her by this woman she knows nothing about except that she is Human.

"What?" he roars staring at her with patent disbelief. She surprises even herself that she would speak out. Here, she is not exactly known for her conversational skills.

"Give her to me and in five days I will teach her to bow before you," she replies. "I will teach her that you are the Master and she the slave. Right now she doesn't understand—I doubt she barely understands the rudiments of Dom'ruun. Give her to me and I will ready her for your special client's needs."

"And how would you know that she's for a special client?" he demands. "How would you know his needs?

"I know only that I've been hearing her scream for over two silaro now, yet there is not a mark on her," she replies quietly, guessing that the screaming she's been hearing for the last half hour came from this woman. "You've not used the lash nor done anything to bruise or mar her in order to gain the compliance you wish. That tells me that you've already lined up a client—one with particular tastes … one that would be very displeased to see any marks upon her when he partakes of her. Give her to me, Shando'fen, and I will teach her to know her place."

She studies him through her lashes without seeming to, and can see in his grey eyes, the need to break this woman personally warring with the thought of the kind of profit he would make off this special order.

But she knows what he'll choose in the end … what he will always choose.

"Take her!" he snarls and sends another writhing pulse of energy into Dar. This time, it brings her to her hands and knees as she screams in agony. "You have three days," he says as her screams abate.

"Thank you, Shando'fen," she gasps out, her head still bowed before him. "She will be ready in three days."

"See that she is," he growls and she hears the threat inherent in that statement; if the woman is not ready, then Dar would pay. She would pay dearly.

"Yes, Shando'fen."

She remains on her knees as he stomps away, and then there is the slap of bare feet against the floor, the whisper of dresses and soft voices as the other slaves leave, chattering among themselves, no doubt, about her uncharacteristic defence of the woman and near challenge of Kan'oh.

One of the guards releases the woman's restraints and she falls to the ground with a hoarse cry, breathing raggedly.

Dar rises; nerves, muscles and bones aching as she makes her way over to the crumpled figure. "Do you understand me?" she asks in English.

"Yes," rattles the hoarse reply. The woman lifts her head, staring at Dar in shock as recognition dawns in her blue eyes. "You're Hu-Human ... th-thank you," she stammers out.

"Can you get up? Can you walk?"

The woman tries to rise, but collapses back to the floor as her strength gives out. Dar nods to the guard, who picks the woman up, cradling her head to his shoulder.

"The agoniser not only stimulates all your nerve endings," she continues as the guard follows her from the display room. "It weakens the muscles and saps the strength."

Once inside her room, she directs the guard to place the woman on the bed. Dar notices with some surprise that it has been remade with fresh sheets and makes a mental note to thank Imssan later. She sits on the edge of the bed and places her hand on the woman's head. She's a bit warm, but there's nothing to indicate that it's anything more than the exertion.

"Leave us—find Imssan," she orders the guard, switching to Dom'ruun, but he stands his ground, obstinate. "Leave us and find Imssan," she reiterates. "Tell him to bring a bowl of cold water and a couple of clean rags. Her system is overheating from the repeated use of the agoniser, and if I don't get her temperature down, she will be sick. Then nothing I can do will get her ready in time for the Shando'fen's client!"

As soon as the guard leaves, Dar brings her face down close to the woman's under the pretext of checking her eyes. "Quiet now—there may be spy-tech. Who are you?" she asks in English. "How did you get here?"

"Kathryn," the woman whispers and Dar's heart soars at the blessedly normal Human name. "I came to the Fen'Domar Empire on a ship called Voyager. We were hoping to trade for passage through their space. The governor of the boarder planet where we made the request tried to kidnap one of my people—kidnapped me instead—sent me here to be trained for his pleasure. What about you?"

Kathryn winces as Dar probes a bruise starting to form just below her right breast. Kan'oh has not been careful enough.

"You can call me Dar," she replies, her lips close to Kathryn's ear. "I don't know how I got here. My people and I were fighting to secure a vital power source from a powerful enemy; they captured me. I was being held prisoner—had been for weeks, maybe months. I tried to escape. The next thing I remember, I'm waking up here in this place. Apparently, I was in some kind of cryogenic stasis, I'm told."

There is sympathy in the woman's blue eyes; Dar looks away as Imssan enters with the bowl of water. He hands her a couple clean pieces of cloth and places the bowl on the low seat she drags closer to the bed. Out of one of his many pockets, he pulls two small, familiar jars as well as a phial of the restorative.

"I've brought some of the salve that works so well on your bruised muscles," he says, "and a new jar of skin cream."

"Thank you—before you leave, please bring another sheet and some clothing for her."

He nods before ducking into the bathroom. Dar dips the first cloth into the water, wrings it out and places the cool compress across Kathryn's brow. She tries to raise her hand in protest, but Dar swats it away impatiently.

"Lie still," she orders the other woman in English. "I've let the guard know that if we do not bring down your temperature, you will not be ready for your duties towards your client."

Kathryn studies her shrewdly for a moment before nodding her understanding. Dar picks up the second rag, wets it and begins to wash away the accumulated sweat and dirt.

When Imssan returns with the clothing, she is washing Kathryn's breasts and lower abdomen. Kathryn's eyes are closed. Dar feels her embarrassment and ignores it.

The old alien drops his bundle at the foot of the bed before scurrying out.

She works quickly and clinically; at least this is something she's done before ... at times when there was no need for a diplomat or linguist, and the most important thing she could offer a fellow Human being was a little comfort.

After thoroughly cleaning the woman's front, Dar rolls her over and does the same for her back. Using the top sheet already on the bed, she dries her off and then proceeds to mix equal parts of the salve and cream, rubbing it into Kathryn's skin with firm, yet gentle motions.

"It has a topical analgesic that will soothe the pain in your muscles, and the cream will keep your skin from drying out," she explains. "You should be able to move freely within an hour or two."

She helps Kathryn put on the clothing, and manages to tug the damp top sheet out from under her unresponsive body. Wiping her hands on it, she bundles it up and throws it into the laundry chute before hurrying over to the small table—on which she's allowed to keep a jug of water and a glass.

Pouring a glass of water, she mixes half of the restorative into it before returning to the bed and helping Kathryn to sit up and drink. "It's important to keep you hydrated," she says holding the glass to the other woman's lips as she drinks gratefully. "Neuro-muscular recovery from the agoniser is much worse if you're dehydrated."

"You speak their language very well," Kathryn says in a quiet—careful—voice.

"I've had time to learn."

The silence stretches out between them.

"In another life, I was a linguist and a diplomat," she whispers.

She feels Kathryn's warm fingers curl about her own and briefly squeeze her hand. "And perhaps in another life, you can be so again," she says gently.

As Dar meets her gaze, she refuses to give in to hope, for hope is a killer in this place. Kathryn raises her hands from her lap, and gracefully as butterflies in flight, words spill from her fingertips to dance in the silent air between them.

<You know ASL, Dar?> she signs.

Dar's breath catches in her tight chest as she remembers to breathe again. Biting her lip, she signs a simple, <Yes>.

<I am Captain Kathryn Janeway of the starship Voyager; my crew will be coming for me—for us.>

She doesn't smile, not that there is much to smile about in this place, Kathryn decides studying the thin, worn face beneath the mass of heavy brown hair that curls about her shoulders and cascades down her back almost to her waist. But under different circumstances, Kathryn knows that a smile on that face would be a thing of beauty ... would light it up, bringing an impish sparkle to those dull, green eyes.

Dar is a beautiful woman, and in those moments when she called out the slaver in that alien language—took the punishment that had been meant for Kathryn—she'd appeared to Kathryn's blurred, pain-wracked vision as a Valkyrie ... an avenging angel ... a goddess ...

But the flash of hope in her eyes when Kathryn revealed her identity—and that her ship and crew would come for them—had been all too brief. She can see that the younger woman has already suppressed it in the face of the practical realities of their current situation.

Dar is speaking to a brawny, young Fen'Domar in that incomprehensible language and Kathryn wishes she had a translator. It's a terse, heated exchange, and the alien male bristles with anger, but Dar holds her ground until he acquiesces and stomps away. In the hallway, two alien females stand aside to let him pass. One wears a brief shift similar to what she and Dar are wearing, while the other is entirely naked.

A brothel. I'm in a bloody alien brothel!

A shudder races up her spine; if it weren't so frighteningly real, it would almost be ludicrous. Starfleet prepares its officers for a lot of things; fighting for your life, withstanding physical torture—and even withstanding psychological torture—and certainly they try to prepare you to face the inevitability of death. But nothing prepares you for being slaved out and turned into nothing more than a plaything for someone else's pleasure. Every officer knows that it is a possibility, but nothing prepares you for the nightmarish reality of it.

After that first moment of hope faded, Dar had simply said, "As soon as your muscles are working again, we should begin."

Kathryn could only nod dumbly. Already the pins and needles sensation permeates not only her limbs, but her entire body. If her people don't find them in time, then facing the lecherous Shenloral'fen Aru'nor will be a reality, and even after everything she's been through this past ten years since her ship has been lost in uncharted space, Kathryn doesn't think it's something she can survive.

"I didn't think it was something I could survive either," the younger woman says, startling Kathryn out of her introspection; she didn't realise she'd spoken that last despairing thought aloud. "And there are days I don't think I have survived. Most days I just feel like I'm existing here; and then one day, I'll simply cease to exist."

She doesn't wait for Kathryn to respond. Forging ahead, she asks, "Do you practise Yoga or Tai Chi?"

A strange question, but Kathryn goes with it. "Not really, but I can get along in either if needs be—I've had some instruction in Vulcan Kolinar. Why?"

"I've explained to Kaan'och that you're very religious." Kathryn's eyebrows rise at the seeming non sequitur. "I've explained that this is the reason you refused to address Kan'oh as Shando'fen—that in your misunderstanding of Dom'ruun, you've confused the word meaning "master" with the word for "God"—Shenlor'Dofen. And you were more afraid to blaspheme against your God than you were of his father, Kan'oh."

Kathryn gapes in surprise at the innovative "explanation" as Dar continues, "I told him that if you were allowed to pray according to the practises of Yoga or Tai Chi or which ever church you follow, I would teach you to pronounce his title and that of his illustrious client, as well as to understand and perform the more basic orders you might receive in bed. It's the best I can do in the three days he's given me."

Kathryn nods, signing, <And Yoga?>

<Easier to hide ASL use.>


<You lead and I follow—easier for me to cover stumbles as unfamiliar with your religion. They have seen me do Yoga when I should have been exercising. I told them it is a form of prayer among my people. They have not bothered me about it since.>

<Brilliant!> Kathryn signs quickly. <I will use simple movements—leave our hands free for speaking. We can do it facing each other.>

She catches Kathryn's hands and silences them. <Use sparingly, or they might catch on to mode of communication.>

Kathryn nods and Dar continues aloud. "We should begin your pronunciation of Shando'fen."

"Shando'fen," Kathryn dutifully repeats.

Dar shakes her head. "You must listen closely to all parts of the word—lengthen the "ah" sound and quickly clip the "oh" sound without making it an "och" sound, before adding the "fen" in a louder, more ringing tone. Try again—Shaaahndoh! FENN! The "fen" part of their species name and titles is rather like an exhortation to celebrate their species—tonalities matter in this language and it's very important to get that right."

Kathryn stares at her in surprise and open admiration. After everything the Fen'Domar slavers have done to her—that Dar can still retain enough of her objectivity to make observations of such depth about this culture speaks highly of her character and intelligence. It would be so much easier to write them off as barbarians.

Vowing to pay closer attention, Kathryn begins her language lessons in earnest. She would never forgive herself if her new friend was punished or put in greater jeopardy because of her.

They sleep that night in the same bed—Dar spoons against Kathryn's back, their thin clothes doing nothing to hide their bodies from each other. Dar can feel that the smaller woman is uncomfortable with the arrangement, but the starship captain doesn't fight her on it.

"What are your people like?"

Kathryn doesn't answer her right away, and in those few moments of silence, Dar thinks her companion has fallen asleep.

"They're good people," Kathryn replies at last. "And I'm proud to be their captain. A decade ago, a powerful alien flung my ship to the opposite side of the galaxy—into the delta quadrant, over 70,000 light years from the Federation and Earth. Faced with a journey that could take 70 or more years to complete, I wouldn't have blamed them if they'd wanted to find a planet and set up a colony. But I asked them to follow me in a bid to get home—and they did … they put their trust in me. I can't fail them."

"It must have been devastating to find your hyper drive was so badly damaged that it would take you so long to get home," Dar says sympathetically, and feels Kathryn stiffen in her arms. "Was there no way to fix it—get you home faster?"

Kathryn turns in her embrace to face her, and even through the dimness of the bedroom, Dar can see her confused expression. "Hyper drive?" she asks quizzically. "My ship doesn't use a hyper drive—it uses a warp drive … like the ships of most space-faring species in the galaxy, including the Fen'Domar. It utilizes subspace to travel, not hyperspace. Hyperspace is generally too unstable to travel in—not to mention you're practically blind, and the dangers of crashing into the barriers between other dimensions and realities …"

She pushes herself up on one elbow and looks down shrewdly into Dar's eyes. "Where do you come from, Dar? I can tell that it's never even occurred to you that those ships out there used anything other than hyper drives. You've never heard of a warp drive, have you?"

"It's not exactly something that comes up in conversation in a place like this." Kathryn recoils from the fury in her voice. "Forget I said anything," she whispers and turns away, drawing her knees up to her chest.

She tries to blank out her mind, but it's too late; thoughts of hyper drives inevitably lead to other thoughts ... of things she would rather forget. Then the tears come; painfully and inexorably, they come.

She's vaguely aware when Kathryn leaves the bed and comes around to her side. Sitting down on the edge, she gently strokes Dar's hair and back. She traces the line of her jaw and the path of her tears.

"I'm sorry to have brought up such painful memories," Kathryn whispers hoarsely. "I didn't mean to pry and it was never my intention to upset you—your question simply caught me by surprise. Earth—the Federation on the whole—hasn't really dabbled in hyperspace for over three hundred years … not since the early years of space travel when we were still trying to perfect a reliable and safe means of faster than light travel, and not since we had a tendency to lose ships to the vagaries of the hyper barriers, unexpected solar flares, rifts, collapsed stars and hyper window shearing. Subspace is slower, but seemed a bit more reliable and safe—in as far as anything about space travel could be considered safe."

Dar's breath comes in shudders as she forces herself to regain control. Three. Hundred. Years. Earth hasn't used hyperspace ships for over three hundred years, she thinks in despair as Kathryn's words sink in. And suddenly it's all too much to think about … to even contemplate.

Pulling herself together, she asks, "What year is it now on Earth?"

Again, Kathryn's eyes are shrewd as they search Dar's in the dim light. Then she sits up straight and folds her arms across her chest as she considers the question.

"Let's see … as a Starfleet officer, I'm more apt in the use of stardates," she mutters. "I've lost track in the last few days, but it should be around stardate 58530 right now, so that would put us at 2380, early December—Christmas would be in about twenty-two days give or take two or three days."

Again, as the enormity of Kathryn's words crashes over her, she is lost in a maelstrom of heartbreak and tears. This time, Kathryn gathers her up into a tight hug and holds her shaking body as she cries.

And she clings to Kathryn Janeway as she would cling to a piece of driftwood cast to the winds and the rains on a churning, storm-wracked ocean.

When Kan'oh comes in the middle of the third day, Kathryn isn't expecting it. One moment she and Dar are practising their "Tai Chi" prayers, the next Dar stiffens, stops mid-motion and stands with her head bowed. Kathryn turns around and seeing the master of the brothel, quickly assumes the same stance next to her friend.

Her heart is racing as he enters the room and circles her slowly.

He barks an order to Dar, and she hurries to the indicated corner by the door. He grounds out some more unintelligible words that Dar finally translates.

"He's here to test your progress, Kathryn," she says quietly. "You are to address him as you would the Shenloral'fen."

"Fo sabe la, Shando'fen," Kathryn replies slowly, bowing again to Kan'oh. Understood, Master.

"Don sa soa coan-hoch!" he orders. Remove your clothing.

The dress she's wearing today is a simple wrap held closed by a long sash. She unties it and slips it from her shoulders. She has never felt more exposed before in her life—even when he'd stripped her naked for her medical assessment. All she'd been then was a piece of cargo received for inspection.

She doesn't flinch now as he cups her breasts, running a rough finger over first one nipple, and then the other. Over his shoulder, she meets Dar's steady gaze and holds onto it for dear life.

His hands run down her flanks to her ass.

"Boan sha liral sufenodo noh honoen." Assume position for male pleasure.

"Shenloral'fen, ira suun onlo soa sufenodo," Kathryn says carefully. My Lord, I am for your pleasure. She turns, bends at the waist and places her hands flat on the bed.

She feels him behind her, studying her as she tries to ignore the waves of humiliation coursing through her. Then his hands are on her again, tugging at the last piece of clothing she's wearing. She feels the slip of cloth as her underwear slides down her legs, and the fear and humiliation becomes a painfully live thing twisting in her gut.

Grabbing her thighs, he forces her legs further apart and she belatedly remembers Dar's instructions to go up on her toes. His hands caress the inside of her thighs and another wave of fear washes over her. Dar has said that he wouldn't dare touch her before his client is finished with her, but at this moment, she doesn't believe that.

"Boan sha dosa noh honoen." Assume lady's position.

"Shenloral'fen, ira suun onlo soa sufenodo," she repeats hoarsely.

She climbs onto the bed, lies down on her back and brings her knees up. A lady is allowed to face her lord; a whore is solely for his pleasure.

But there is no difference for her as she turns her head to meet Dar's anxious gaze again. Here, a starship captain can only be a whore, and she doesn't think she can bear it. She'd rather go down fighting that submit to this. But there are tears in Dar's eyes and her hands are balled into fists; she too, cannot bear this.

She feels his hands between her legs, probing, touching, examining … and turning her head she focuses on a spot on the ceiling. Captain Janeway is up there and so is Kathryn; all that's left here is a body.

'Stick to the plan … stick to the plan …' they whisper to her. 'You're not alone in this. Captain Janeway will not leave anyone behind and neither will Kathryn.' And neither will she.

Suddenly, she realizes that Kan'oh is no longer inspecting her, but speaking to Dar by the door. She rolls on her side, her back to them and draws up her legs, trying to make no sound as she cries.

"I'm sorry," Dar says hoarsely. "He's gone now—let's get you dressed." Kathryn doesn't move or say anything; nothing comes from her but tears. "Please, Kathryn," she pleads softly. "I can't stay. I've been put back on display—it's been two and a half days and he won't let me off any longer."

'You're not alone in this.' It echoes in her mind and she dries her eyes. Giving in to her emotions right now would only mean a world of hurt for Dar—and while she has a brief respite until Shenloral'fen Aru'nor comes to claim his prize, her friend doesn't have that luxury. Dar will have to endure the humiliation and degradation of this life for a while longer. She insists that it would draw too much attention for her to object to clients now—to do anything out of the ordinary. 'Stick to the plan.'

Kathryn remembers the younger woman's pain from the night before as they made their plans in hushed whispers and fluttering fingers.

<I only have the strength to do this a little while longer,> Dar had signed; Kathryn had never seen anyone with dead eyes before, but now she knew what the old saying meant. <If your crew doesn't come, we'll try for the shuttle they found me in—I think it's still in the station's docking bay. I may still be able to access it.>

Kathryn knew what she meant; a last-ditch suicide mission with little hope of success. <But one way or another, I have to get out, Kathryn. Promise me I won't stay here, no matter what!>

<I promise. We'll both get out, no matter what.>

"I'm sorry," she says sitting up, grateful for Dar's presence and help in this ordeal. Her friend pulls her into a tight hug.

"I know how hard it is," Dar says stroking her naked back. "But it's just for a little while longer—one way or another, just a little while longer."

"Yes," Kathryn whispers back, resting her forehead against Dar's and looking deep into her emerald eyes. "Just a little while longer."

So much has changed so quickly, Dar realises as she sits on the edge of the high stool in her window display. She leans forward provocatively, holding the pose for as long as she can.

No matter how much she tries not to hope, it is inevitable … like the memories that flood back to her now. This is what Kathryn has brought into her life in the last few days. Sometimes, Dar hates her for it. There is so much that can go wrong—not the least of which is that Kathryn is counting on a crew that may or may not know where she is. And time is running out—Shenloral'fen Aru'nor is early. His ship will dock in another hour, and Kathryn's being made ready to be presented to him.

And I'm stuck in this damned window!

She's so caught up in her bitter introspection, she nearly misses it—the symbol Kathryn has told her to look out for. Curved olive branches … a symbol from the Federation flag and shield modelled on the old United Nations emblem she knows so well. It's being worn by a group of rather fierce-looking aliens coming down from the station's administration core. The female wears it on a large, golden medallion resting in the hollow of her throat, while the two males wear it on smaller medallions affixed to their sashes, along with other metal accoutrements. The aliens don't resemble any species Dar has ever seen before.

"Often a rescue must be accomplished in a clandestine manner," Kathryn has said. "We've had to learn the hard way to be proactive and deceptive. So they'll be in disguise; even I'd be hard-pressed to tell who they are sometimes, especially if they're disguised as members of the host species. Therefore, everyone is trained to know the visual symbols rescuers from Voyager will wear—and right now, it is olive branches."

The aliens stop a few metres away and are consulting a small, handheld device. The look on the female's face grows thunderous, making the prominent ridges on her forehead seem even more frightening.

Dar rarely solicits clients verbally; most know what they're looking for. This time, however, she takes the chance and tries to catch their attention, despite the guard standing in the display behind her. Reaching out, she taps the intercom.

"Are you looking for something particular, gentle beings?" she asks in the sexiest tone she can manage using Dom'ruun. Kathryn says that they'll have translators; she hopes her friend is right. "Perhaps I can be what you desire."

She can see their palpable surprise, especially in the almond-shaped eyes of the young male, whom she thinks would look Asian if he was Human.

"I'm S'Lena, First Daughter of the House of Tor—what would you know of my … desires, slave?" the female demands forcefully.

"I can be anything you want, if given a chance," she replies. "Even something you've lost, perhaps?"

They study her warily. Finally, the taller of the two males moves closer to the window, as the Asian-looking male suddenly looks down at his beeping instrument and then turns it over to the female.

"What talents do you possess that would make you worth our Mistress' while?" the blue-eyed male asks. "I think she's in the mood for rather different fare."

Dar's breath caught in her throat, but forcing herself to be calm, she answers, "I can sing in my own language, dance, am well versed in the arts of pleasure—"

"Sing us something," he orders harshly.

"All right," she replies. "What about the Lament to the King of the Tudors from his Aragon Queen? Or perhaps The Lady of Shallot? They are songs of my people." The male's eyebrows shoot up among his forehead ridges.

"Get on with it," the female growls impatiently.

Dar nods and begins to sing an old half-forgotten song—and prays that these people catch on.

Alas, my love, you do me wrong,
To cast me off discourteously,
And I have loved you oh so long,
Delighting in your company.

Greensleeves was my delight
Greensleeves my heart of gold
Greensleeves was my heart of joy
Who, but my lady, Greensleeves?

The man's blue eyes light up. "Continue!" he orders. "Or sing another."

Taking a deep breath, she launches smoothly into the next song and quickly decides to try a bit of improvisation with it.

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the world and meet the sky;
And through the field the road run by
To many-tower'd Camelot;

And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs forever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.

In the twelfth room of the fourth round tower,
Overlooking a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

By river's margin, the willows cry,
As laden barges slip on by
And underneath a darkening sky,
A Titian maiden teary-eyed,
Waits for good Sir Lancelot.

But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?

Only the slaves, working early,
In among the bearded barley
Hear a song that echoes clearly
From the Lord who comes down cheerly;
To many tower'd Camelot;

And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers, " 'Tis the fairy
The Lady of Shalott."

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
And all have heard the whispers say,
Her maidenhood's lost if she stay
To look down to Camelot.

She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.

And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot;

And sometimes through the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two.
Hath she loyal Knights and true,
This Lady of Shalott?

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
Warriors who come in the silent nights
In a procession, with plumes and lights
And broadswords, down to Camelot;

Or when the Moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed.
"I am half sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thru' the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.

Olive-branched knights forever kneel
To that lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

Like a bird she longs to fly free,
Up to some branch or stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy,
Far from her place of captivity
Away from royal Camelot.

From the bank and from the river
He flashed into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.

Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining.
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower'd Camelot;

Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And around about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.

Lying there robed in snowy white
An hour before the Lord takes his right –
And then her tears be falling light –
Through the noises of the night,
As she floated down to Camelot:

For ere she reach'd upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.

Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and Burgher, Lord and Dame,
And around the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? And what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,
All the Knights at Camelot;

But Lancelot mused a little space
He said, "She has a lovely face;
May God grant her mercy in this place,
This Lady of Shalott."

"Okay, so this Dar is Human—why did you insist that I reserve her? Why did you stop me—why not let me go in and scan for the captain?" B'Elanna Torres demands as soon as the camouflaged Delta Flyer's hatch closed. "And what the hell was all that singing about?"

"Because we already know that the captain's there!" her husband, Tom Paris, says excitedly. "And Dar knows her."

"How do you know for sure? There's a shield up around that place."

"Lament to the King of the Tudors from his Aragon Queen?" Paris laughs at her confusion. "B'Elanna, the King of the Tudors was Henry the Eighth of England—and the Aragon Queen was Catherine of Aragon. Henry set up a whole new religion so that he could divorce Catherine and marry a string of wives in an attempt to produce a male heir!" he said chuckling at his wife's flabbergasted expression. "This woman knows the captain, B'Elanna, and she probably knows where in that place she is!"

"Oh she knows more than that," Harry Kim says looking up from his console, his face pale with shock. "That second song was a code—really clever too!"

"A code? How?" the fourth member of the rescue party, Lieutenant Miguel Ayala, asks.

"The Lady of Shallot is an epic Arthurian poem by the ancient Earth poet, Lord Tennyson," Kim replies as they all turn their attention to him. "Now she sang a considerably shortened version of it and she changed some of the verses. The changed verses are the code."

He turns his screen to show them. "On this side was the original poem, while on the other side, the woman's version I recorded with the changes highlighted," he says. "Now read the highlighted sections."

Paris clears his throat and then reads the woman's message.

"In the twelfth room of the fourth round tower,
Overlooking a space of flowers,

By river's margin, the willows cry,
As laden barges slip on by
And underneath a darkening sky,
A Titian maiden teary-eyed,
Waits for good Sir Lancelot."

"Titian was an ancient Terran painter who liked to paint red-haired women," Paris explains before he resumes reading.

"Only the slaves, working early,
Hear a song that echoes clearly
From the Lord who comes down cheerly;
To many tower'd Camelot;

And all have heard the whispers say, Her maidenhood's lost if she stay
To look down to Camelot.

Hath she loyal Knights and true,
This Lady of Shalott?

Warriors who come in the silent nights
In a procession, with plumes and lights
And broadswords, down to Camelot;

Olive-branched knights forever kneel
To that lady in his shield,

"Olive branches—the captain told her what symbol to look for—it's how Dar identified us," Kim murmurs as Paris continues to read.

Like a bird she longs to fly free,
Up to some branch or stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy,
Far from her place of captivity
Away from royal Camelot.

Lying there robed in snowy white
An hour before the Lord takes his right –
And then her tears be falling light –
Through the noises of the night,
As she floats down to Camelot:

May God grant her mercy in this place,
This Lady of Shalott."

Paris' voice is hoarse by the time he finishes; as the meaning dawns fully on him, the blood drains from his face, leaving it stark and pale even beneath his Klingon disguise.

"B'Elanna," he croaks. "We have less than an hour to get her out of there. Aru'nor is coming for her now." At B'Elanna's confused expression, he points to the screen and reiterates lines from the poem. "Lying there robed in snowy white, an hour before the Lord takes his right," he says before going back a bit to another verse. "And all have heard the whispers say, her maidenhood's lost if she stay." His blue eyes harden. "He's here now and he's going to rape her, B'Elanna. We all know that's why he came here—and why not? His cartel is part owner in this station and probably the brothel as well!"

"Alright, Tom," Torres says taking charge again. "You and Harry stay here. Be ready to get us out and leave as soon as we beam aboard. "Ayala, you're with me. Get two extra transport enhancement armbands, the modified Type One phasers and load up on the transphasic grenades—make sure nothing is emitting a signature until it's activated."

The big security officer nods and heads to the weapons locker; he's a tall, powerful human—and as a Klingon, he's formidable.

"I take it the extra armband is for this woman, Dar?" Ayala notes as he retrieves the needed weapons.

Torres' eyes are hard as she replies. "After what she's just done to help us, I get the feeling that the captain will have our heads if we leave her behind in this place. How much money do we have left?" she asks Tom, who immediately checks his tricorder.

"Almost twenty-five thousand," he replies. "We had to get those emitter coils to make our cover look good."

"Think it'll be good enough to make me look like a major player crashing the scene with serious cash to burn?" she asks him with a speculative look.

"Sure—on a cursory examination," he replies, "especially with that account the Cazenchin Traders transferred to us in exchange for the Bocerra Pearls. Why?"

"Because this spoiled Klingon Princess is going shopping!" she says with a feral grin as she heads to the replicator. "And she intends on doing serious damage to Daddy's credit line!"

Dar's nervousness rises in her throat as she sits on the edge of her bed waiting for the aliens to return. They've put her on reserve for the next two hours; Kaan'och is very excited about the exorbitant price the alien woman was willing to pay for the privilege.

But Dar doesn't care about that; Kathryn is running out of time. By her estimation, there's less than twenty minutes before Aru'nor arrives. She's so engrossed in her own thoughts that she doesn't see the alien female arrive.

Suddenly, in a seeming moment of inattention, S'Lena, is standing in the doorway, furious and haughty, with a distinctly feral look in her eyes. She's changed her clothes, wearing only a leather bustier that prominently displays her breasts and tight pants that accentuates everything else. She wears a number of ornate silver metal bracelets about both arms from wrist to bicep. Behind her stands Kaan'och and another alien male—this one tall and hulking.

The woman growls; Dar feels a chill race up her back as she rises and bows her head in submission. In a flash, the woman springs on her, knocking her back onto the bed and straddling her hips.

Suddenly, a stinging, fiery pain races along Dar's jaw, and as she cries out in shock, she realises that the alien has bitten her! Panic overtakes her and she fears that she's misconstrued the symbol—that these aren't Kathryn's people after all.

"Your blood is sweet!" S'Lena growls loudly and licks her jaw line to her ear. "Follow my lead," she whispers in Dar's ear, "and we'll get both of you out."

She moves her lips back to Dar's and kisses her deeply, again biting her lip with sharp teeth and drawing blood. Suddenly, she begins sniffing Dar's body—bizarre behaviour even for an alien.

"I can smell your arousal," she declares rearing back. "And I smell another on you! Is her blood as sweet?"

Dar nods dumbly, still reeling from the sense of shock and disconnection with what is happening. S'Lena gets off her and turns to face Kaan'och.

"Where is the other of her species?" she demands, licking blood-stained lips. "I want her."

"I'm afraid that's impossible," Kaan'och replies. "She's already being prepared for another client."

Lightening fast, S'Lena flies across the room. Before Kaan'och can react, she swats him with a stinging backhand that sends the big man sprawling. Dar's shock skyrockets; though the alien female is smaller than her, she's obviously a hell of a lot stronger. Kaan'och is over two hundred pounds of solid muscle, if he is an ounce.

"Insolent p'taq!" she roars in fury. "You dare to tell me what I cannot have?"

"Mistress!" the alien male growls loudly, as Kaan'och scuttles backwards, away from the furious female. "I'm sure he does not dare take such liberty, my Mistress. Kaan'och, is this second female currently engaged with a client?"

"No, but the one who has purchased her will be here within the silaro to claim her," Kaan'och replies as he levers himself up from the floor. "And he does not like his property touched before he partakes."

The alien male holds up three gold-toned one-thousand credit wafers. Dar can see Kaan'och's posture stiffen—she can almost taste his greed. "Then give my Mistress a chance to assess this other female before he gets here. If she pleases her, then we will purchase her when your client is finished with her."

He holds the credit wafers out to Kaan'och. "Consider this a down payment on your … co-operation."

Kaan'och snatches the wafers from him and skirts past S'Lena, staying out of arm's reach. "Be quiet and follow me," he says. "We have to hurry. My father has gone to fetch the client, personally."

"Bring her," S'Lena orders her male companion as she stalks from the room following slaver.

The alien man catches Dar by the right arm. Quickly snapping a silver metal bracelet around her upper bicep, he winks at her and smacks something against the doorframe as he pulls her roughly from the room, hurrying down the curved corridor after his mistress.

"Why bring her?" Kaan'och demands as he fumbles the lock on the door of the VIP suite.

"Because I want to see how my baubles look together," the alien woman growls as she pushes roughly past him into the room. "I like it when they … compliment each other."

Dar stumbles past Kaan'och as the alien man pushes her into the room. Kathryn is already standing, dressed in brief, sheer slip with a matching peignoir over it. S'Lena stalks around her, growling and sniffing; Kathryn looks on with an expression of mild bemusement.

"A bit on the scrawny side," S'Lena pronounces, a feral grin splitting her fearsome features. "But she'll do."

Before Dar can catch her bearings, an energy beam shoots out from a small weapon—which appears in the alien man's hand as if by magic—and hits Kaan'och squarely in the middle of his chest. The slaver doesn't have the chance to utter even a startled cry as he keels over and remains motionless.

"Thank you, Lieutenant Ayala," Kathryn says as the man grins and tosses her another of the small energy weapons. S'Lena is snapping one of the silver metal bands around Kathryn's upper arm. "As soon as we get back to the Delta Flyer, scan the docking bay for a cylindrical shuttle with recessed pods. Beam it out and take it in tow as we go to warp."

"Understood, captain," S'Lena replies smartly. "Harry did you get that?"

"Scanning now, Torres," a disembodied voice replied.

Kathryn smiles as she holds her hand out to Dar. "Come on," she says eagerly. "Stand close to me—we're getting out of here."

Dar returns her smile in relief and runs to her. As if in slow motion, she sees the part of the wall behind Kathryn disappear. A furious Kan'oh is standing there with a richly-dressed Shenloral'fen, and holding an agoniser pointed directly at Kathryn.

Pulling Kathryn into her arms, she swings her around and screams as the searing wave of agony engulfs her. Kathryn's blue eyes are wide and shocked as Dar's body loses all feeling and she slumps against her, bringing her to her knees.

Kathryn is screaming something Dar can't understand—a massive explosion thunders through her mind, and the universe itself seems to shake with the might and the fury of it. Before her eyes, Kathryn begins to fade from existence ... and then, blackness.

Part 2

Return to Other Voyager Fiction

Return to Stargate Atlantis Fiction

Return to Main Page