DISCLAIMER: Yes, Paramount owns it all - I am just having some fun with their characters.
ARCHIVE: Caro, Damon and Rach - help yourselves. Anyone else - please ask :o)
FEEDBACK: Yes please, I wouldn't post otherwise.
RATING: PG-13 although that might change
PAIRING: B'Elanna/Seven

Justifying the Means
By Rebelgirl

Part One

As Voyager glided elegantly into a high orbit, the main viewscreen on the Bridge displayed the planet she was circling. It was a giant of a planet, predominantly a burnt orange in colour, but with swirls of deep green and purple patterning the sphere in a beautiful tessellation of vibrancy. The planet was ringed with a singular band of multi-coloured asteroids that added to its charm. It was a delightful view.

Captain Katherine Janeway allowed herself a moment to glory in the glamour of the planet before returning her mind to the task at hand. "Hail them Mr Kim," she instructed formally, glancing up to where the tall Asian ensign stood at Ops.

"We have visual contact," he informed her a fraction later.

The captain hesitated for an instant, not wanting to give up such a glorious view but she reminded herself that they would not be going anywhere for the time being. "On screen."

The image of the planet was replaced by an impressive looking humanoid. He had dark tan skin, with a slender nose and wide, deep chestnut eyes. His skin was marked with a definitive pattern that reminded Janeway of zebra stripes and she idly wondered if everyone on the planet had a unique pattern in the same way zebras did.

"Welcome to Darelgh," the alien greeted smoothly, his tone deep and mellifluous.

Janeway tilted her head slightly. "Thank you for inviting us Grevis. From our vantage point, you have a beautiful planet."

"We think so too, Captain. I will be delighted to give you a guided tour but I rather suspect that you would like to determine if our technology could be of assistance to you."

The auburn-haired woman smiled. "You're absolutely right. I wouldn't be able to absorb the ambience fully if I were fretting over negotiations."

The Darelghian laughed musically. "And if our positions were reversed, I would feel exactly the same way. I have a team waiting with sample technology and monitoring equipment. They are ready to board at your request."

"Will you be joining them?" Janeway felt her eyes widen as she heard herself blatantly flirt with the man. She could sense both Chakotay and Tuvok stare at her but concentrated on masking any further reaction.

"I would be delighted to meet you personally, Captain. I've been looking forward to it since we first spoke."

"As have I," Janeway replied warmly. "We're making preparations for your visit. Would your party be available in six hours time?"

"I'll let my people know. Thank you for your hospitality." Grevis pulled his lips into an expansive smile that Janeway couldn't help but return.

Once the link was broken she looked at her Bridge staff hopefully. "With a bit of luck we might just have shaved five years off our journey."

Voyager, or more accurately Seven of Nine, had discovered Darelgh after a series of long range scans were completed to chart the unknown territory ahead. It was a planet rich in high grade minerals and elements, and once they had initiated contact with the planet, Janeway had discovered that its population had harnessed its resources efficiently and carefully. They were also willing to impart their knowledge and some of their supplies in return for some medical expertise. After discussion with the Doctor, the trade was readily agreed and the Starfleet vessel changed course fractionally to meet with their potential benefactors. There was a `too good to be true' feeling about the situation, particularly after so few successful first contact meetings within the Delta Quadrant, but Janeway allowed herself to hope that they had bucked the trend this time and managed to establish a healthy relationship with a new species.

"Janeway to Engineering," the small woman called out, looking up slightly as she spoke.

"Torres here," the Chief of Engineering responded promptly.

Janeway could hear the buzz of the department through the open comm. link. "B'Elanna, we have six hours before the Darelghian delegation arrive. Is that enough time?"

"It'll have to be. We should have rigged an integrator to establish compatibility problems with the test circuitry by then. It will just depend on how different their techniques for harnessing energy are," Torres replied.

Janeway could see in her mind's eye the dark Klingon hurrying around Main Engineering as she rushed through the workload.

"Excellent. I'll expect you at transporter room one at the rendezvous time," the Captain answered. She grinned evilly and paused slightly for effect. "In dress uniform."

The groan B'Elanna emitted in response was clearly audible. "Captain, I won't be able to work with them in my dress uniform."

"Then keep a work uniform in your office. Janeway out." Her grin widened as she caught Chakotay's expression. "If I have to wear that damned uniform, so can she. And it goes for you and Tuvok as well."

"I'm glad you feel the need to share the experience," the tall native American commented glibly. He didn't mind the formal costume, as long as he didn't have to wear it for extended periods.

"I wouldn't want to be accused of selfishness now, Chakotay," Janeway replied equally tongue-in-cheek. She sat down in her command chair and gazed at the viewscreen once more, studying the iridescent colours that rolled over the planet's surface. "Let's just hope that they appreciate all the effort we're going to."

Six hours later found transporter room one quite crowded. Along with the transporter operator, Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, Torres and the EMH were also present. The bald doctor was fidgeting with the collar of his dress uniform fastidiously. "Is this straight?" he hissed at B'Elanna.

"Doctor, you're a hologram. You're not programmed to be vain and your clothes are designed to fit you correctly. Of course it's straight," the engineer retorted in an equally low voice. She had already been berated by Janeway for fussing over her dress coat and generally looking uncomfortable. She did not want to draw any more attention to herself.

"I'm just asking." The EMH sounded positively offended. "It's not every day I get an opportunity to dress up."

Before the Klingon could return a suitable jibe, the transporter pad sprang into life, generating six sparkling blue columns that steadily transformed into the shape of the Darelghian party.

Janeway waited a moment for the aliens to orientate themselves before stepping forward. "Welcome aboard Voyager," she stated warmly.

Grevis cocked his head slightly as if still trying to absorb the sensation of the transport before stepping off the raised platform. "Thank you Captain. We're delighted to be here." He bowed slightly. "Let me introduce you to my companions." The tall man turned and used a slim hand to point out each of his colleagues. "This is Collis and his assistant researcher Jarlai. Collis is our chief medical professor. He did not want to waste any time in dealing with your medical staff." Collis, a man of equal stature to Grevis bowed slightly and smiled. Jarlai was much smaller and her facial patterning was much less marked than the males of the party. Chakotay wondered at the significance of the markings.

Grevis continued the introductions. "This is our chief engineer Tolthor and this is Fisk, an environmental technician. They hope to liaise with your engineering staff to provide a more efficient method of fuel consumption." The two Darelghians he pointed out were burly and muscular. To Janway's discreet amusement, they appeared as uncomfortable in their own dress as B'Elanna looked in hers. She nodded politely at them both, noticing how their markings did indeed differ slightly.

"Finally, this is my Security Officer Brin. She insisted that she accompany the team. I do hope you aren't offended by her presence." Brin was almost as tall as Grevis and stared coolly at Janeway.

"Not at all Grevis," the Captain responded smoothly. "I've brought my Chief of Security here too." She gestured towards Tuvok and then noticed Grevis frown slightly as he looked at the Vulcan.

"Is he the same species as you?" the Darelghian asked curiously.

"I am from Vulcan," Tuvok answered blandly.

"My crew is made up of many different species," Janeway explained.

"I see. Interesting." Grevis nodded thoughtfully and gestured for Janeway to continue.

"This is my first Officer Chakotay."

"It's a tribal tattoo," Chakotay explained to the peering glances at the dark blue marking that flared across his forehead.

"This is the Doctor, our chief Medical Officer." The EMH received a series of nods and Janeway felt relieved that at least one of her party was acceptable to the Dareghians.

"And this is my Chief Engineer, B'Elanna Torres. She'll be the lead in the efficiency trials."

"And what species are you?" Grevis asked formally.

"I'm half human, half Klingon," Torres answered, a little uncomfortable at the directness of the question.

"Half human, half Klingon?" Brin repeated incredulously. She turned quickly toward Janeway. "You allow mongrels to work on your ship?"

B'Elanna took a step forward angrily but was restrained by Chakotay's hand on her elbow.

"We have no problem with inter-species relationships, Brin. And B'Elanna is certainly one of my most gifted staff." Janeway was amazed at the comment.

"This presents a matter of some delicacy Captain," Grevis commented, trying to be tactful.

"What do you mean?"

"He means that we won't work with half-breed filth," replied Tolthor gruffly. He kept his distance from Torres and looked dismissively at her.

Torres bristled again. "Captain," she protested angrily.

"Lieutenant." Janeway turned to the smaller woman and held up a hand placatingly. "We'll sort this out."

"I apologise for my colleague's strong language," Grevis interjected, staring pointedly at his engineer. "But unfortunately, we are unaccustomed to working with," he paused for a beat to find an appropriate adjective. "Hybrids. Much as I respect your tenets, I will not be able to change opinion overnight. I must respectfully request that you assign another member of your crew to work with us. A pure species," he added, somewhat unnecessarily.

Janeway paused as she considered the situation, but she did not have much time to think about it before B'Elanna spoke up furiously. "Tell me you're not going to do that?"

The captain led the younger woman to one side of the transporter room. "B'Elanna, we have an opportunity to cut years off our journey time. You know that no one on Voyager thinks the way they do. But to lose the chance of getting home sooner would be madness."

"And what will it look like when you accept their offer?" B'Elanna's voice shook as she whispered back to her superior officer. "They'll think that they're right to be bigoted. And what about the rest of the crew?"

"You and Naomi are the only mixed heritage people I have on board," Janeway responded calmly. "Now, we hid the telepaths when we had to go through Kashyk's territory. What's the difference?"

"Fine. At least I know where I stand." B'Elanna turned and faced the Dareghian team. "My apologies for offending you," she commented stiffly before stalking out of the transporter room.

Grevis looked relieved when the doors closed. "Thank you for understanding, Captain," he stated gratefully.

"Just keep that mongrel bitch away from us," Tolthor snarled derisively.

Janeway closed the distance between herself and the engineer. "Let's get one thing straight. B'Elanna is my chief engineer and a valued member of my crew. I will not tolerate any insults directed towards her, whether she is present or not."

"There will be no further comment from any of us," Grevis told the auburn-haired woman firmly. "Though I would appreciate it if any other hybrids were kept at a distance. It would save any embarrassment on all counts."

Janeway nodded curtly. She then tapped her comm. badge. "Janeway to Seven of Nine."

"Go ahead Captain." The smooth tones of the former Borg responded immediately.

"Meet me in main Engineering. I've just assigned you a new duty."


Janeway turned to Grevis. "Seven was taken by the Borg when she was a child. We rescued her from the Collective. She still has implants from the violations the Borg inflicted on her. Would she be unsuitable to work with?" It was almost a dare.

"What species was she before her assimilation?" Grevis had clearly heard of the Borg and their methods of conquering.

"She was human," Janeway replied carefully.

"Fully human?" Brin asked pointedly. She stepped back when Grevis looked at her coldly.

"Yes. Fully human."

"Then none of us would have a problem with her. Please lead the way," Grevis requested, hoping that the diplomatic clash had subsided.

"Follow me."

Part Two

Janeway led the way down the corridor towards Engineering. Since the unfortunate incident with Lieutenant Torres, the Darelghians had been courteous and polite, and seemed totally unfazed by their request not to work with the hybrid engineer. The captain toyed with the idea of broaching the topic more fully but the initial reaction to B'Elanna hinted at deep-seated prejudice that could not be rationalised during the length of their visit. There was also the Prime Directive to consider. It often worked against them in circumstances like these. Starfleet principles were not to be foisted on other cultures, merely explained as an alternative way of thinking.

Janeway could feel Chakotay's discomfort as he walked alongside the delegation and was grateful for his continued silence on the issue. The auburn-haired woman had no doubt that he would be bringing the subject up once they had an opportunity to speak in private. She had to admit that she too was uncomfortable with acceding to their request, but she had to look at the overall benefit to Voyager. Upsetting B'Elanna was a small price to pay if they could cut such a significant amount of time off their journey home. She just had to ensure that she explained her actions to the Chief Engineer and her highly principled First Officer.

Because of the slight glitch in diplomacy, Janeway decided to keep the whole party together, at least until they got to Engineering. Once the two technicians had been introduced to Seven and began work on the integration circuitry, the medical team would be allowed to go to Sick Bay with the EMH. Janeway smiled slightly as she listened to the Doctor talk animatedly to his counterpart. Whatever it was they were discussing was of deep interest to them both and the Captain was pleased the Doctor had been given an opportunity to interact with a colleague from another world. She had no doubt that the EMH would greatly benefit from the exchange.

The doors to Main Engineering opened and Janeway saw Seven of Nine waiting patiently by the turquoise column of the Warp Core. The captain made brief introductions and then stepped back to allow the ex-drone to take the lead and direct the technicians to the testing area.

True to their word, the Dalreghians appeared to have no problem working with the Astrometrics officer, and Tolthor became positively dynamic when discussing the intricacies of power management and interlacing. Satisfied that the experiments could continue, Janeway invited Grevis and the medical team to Sick Bay where the Doctor could assist with their medical requirements. With fewer visitors to take care of, Janeway fell in to step with Grevis and struck up an amiable conversation over the possibilities of shore leave or other potential trade proposals. It would be unfortunate that neither B'Elanna nor Naomi would get to participate, but the rest of the crew could at least enjoy some much-needed respite. She found Grevis to be agreeable company and listened attentively to his description of his planet's many places of wonder. His deep voice was easy to listen to and by the time they reached Sick Bay, she had forgotten about the incident in the transporter room.

Seven was somewhat perplexed by the behaviour and attitude of the Dalreghians. Tolthor and Fisk appeared cordial and polite, listening attentively to her description of the Warp Core and Voyager's associated circuitry. They asked pertinent questions and quickly grasped each new concept as it was explained. Seven could not understand why Lieutenant Torres was not performing this task as she was aware that the engineer had been part of the original welcoming party. There was obviously a good reason for her absence, so she chose not to vocalise her concerns, and decided to speak with the lieutenant later in the day. However, during one particularly intricate investigation, it was clearly apparent that neither technician was following her explanation. The ex-drone tried a number of alternative phrasings of the problem but suspected that, because she could not see how the Dalreghians couldn't understand the problem, she couldn't adapt her language to make things clearer. "Lieutenant Torres has a far greater knowledge of these power capacitance ratios. She would undoubtedly be able to assist you with your understanding," she commented reasonably.

The minute Torres' name was mentioned, the two Dalreghians stiffened and Seven had the uncomfortable feeling that she had inadvertently said something inappropriate.

"We would rather you be our guide to the systems," Tolthor said curtly.

The tall blonde cocked an eyebrow in surprise at the statement. "You have no prior knowledge of either Lieutenant Torres or myself. I fail to understand how you have formed such a strong opinion so soon after arriving on board," she commented.

"You're purely human," Tolthar growled, trying not to let his disgust show.

"You are in error. Eighteen percent of my body is made up of Borg components," the Astrometrics officer corrected automatically.

"But your genes are human. There is no mix in your genetic make-up," Fisk pointed out.

"Why would that fact influence your decision on whom you work with?" The young Borg was genuinely confused.

"We don't work or go near half-breeds," Tolthar replied, his tone deep and angry. "So don't expect us to start now, just because you tolerate them."

Seven was astounded. It was the most illogical argument she had ever heard, and yet it was clear that both technicians were deadly serious in their attitude. She wondered briefly how Torres had reacted to that information when the Dalreghians had first materialised and felt a twinge of compassion for the fiery engineer. She had been on the receiving end of suspicion and downright hostility when she first came aboard Voyager, in the main originating from the Klingon hybrid, but gradually the distrust and dislike had turned to grudging respect. It was tempting to contact Torres and ask her how it felt to be on the receiving end of irrational distrust, but Seven had come to realise that B'Elanna had seen Seven as Borg only, and not as a human struggling to find a way to fit in. More to the point, the raven-haired woman had apologised for her lack of trust and poor behaviour, striking up a tentative friendship with the ex-drone. Their relationship was still less than perfect, but Seven knew categorically that she could trust B'Elanna; she had never been anything but totally honest with her from the outset.

"Lieutenant Torres' heritage does not affect her brilliance in Engineering. Your opinion is blinkered and flawed. The Borg valued individuality and sought to assimilate it in order to expand knowledge and seek perfection. To hide from diversity only penalises your own society." Seven felt justified in pointing out their error in thinking. It was clear that her opinion was not welcome.

"I don't care what you think. We have an advanced culture that has thrived on the fact that we have remained pure and untainted. The very fact that you are investing in our technology despite having an advanced technological civilisation is proof enough to me that we have certainly managed well enough on our principles. We have always welcomed other species to our home world. Ideas and solutions can be shared. We have no problem working with off-worlders. What we don't accept is that there is a need to contaminate species genetically." The senior Darelghian technician stepped forward as he spoke, and Seven could tell he was completely convinced with his own argument. Before she could counter his diatribe the tall man continued. "Let me ask you this. How many half-breeds are on this ship?" Tolthor spoke rapidly and the markings on his face darkened.

Seven found herself bristling at the technician's question, though she was uncertain why. There was an undercurrent of menace in his demeanour, but Seven would not be able to prove it to the Captain. Despite being reluctant to answer Tolthor, Seven could come up with no reason why she shouldn't. "Lieutenant Torres is half Klingon, half human. The only other person on board who has a mixed heritage is Naomi Wildman. She is half human, half Kaatarian."

"If it's so rare for them to exist, there must be a reason behind it," Fisk supplied from behind the right shoulder of his colleague. When Seven frowned at his statement questioningly, he expanded. "We know that most species cannot interbreed, it is practically an impossibility due to their different genetic make-up. We believe it's because that sort of breeding should not take place. That's why it is so hard to get mongrels."

Seven nodded honestly. "It is well documented that human-Klingon relationships rarely produce offspring and I am aware that Ensign Wildman suffered some difficulties when giving birth to her daughter. However, there are many couples who cannot have children, regardless of their heritage."

"Due to genetic shortcomings in their own make-up. When there is no offspring, those deficiencies cannot be passed on."

Seven arched an eyebrow, unimpressed by the statement. "Your opinion does not explain why you will not tolerate hybrids in your presence. You have admitted that they exist. You have told me that you work with other races. Surely if other species choose to procreate with others, you have no influence on that decision. Hybrids cannot harm you in any different way to pure species. Your logic appears flawed."

"By their very presence, hybrids remind us that purity can be tainted. Our people should not be exposed to that filth." Fisk sneered aggressively at the tall ex-drone.

"You should be aware that your opinion is not one shared by the crew of this ship. Your choice of description is offensive. You should exercise caution when discussing this topic with the crew and myself." Seven was inexplicably angry at Fisk's tone. She was aware that she had clenched her fists and made a conscious effort to relax them. The captain would have much to say if she sparked a diplomatic incident by reacting violently to someone's point of view. However, she was not prepared to allow the comments to pass without addressing them. It was logical to do so early on. Other crewmembers might not be as tolerant when listening to the prejudice of the Dalreghians, though not all would notice, Seven decided sadly.

Her direction had an instantaneous effect. Both technicians stood back slightly and dropped their shoulders, automatically appearing less aggressive. "My apologies," Tolthar answered softly. "We are a passionate species in many ways. This enthusiasm can often be misconstrued. We meant you no offence."

"Perhaps we should take a break," Seven offered. "Nutritional sustenance and a change of location may assist in your understanding of the systems." Seven had no need to stop work yet, but had often been part of a team that had requested time away in order to `clear their minds'. She was always dubious of its effectiveness, but on many occasions the work rate was far more efficient after a short period away. Perhaps the Dalreghians would function in the same manner.

"An excellent idea," Fisk praised. "I'm starving." Tolthar nodded his agreement.

"Then follow me gentlemen," Seven instructed and strode out of Engineering and towards the Mess Hall.

B'Elanna stormed back to her quarters, her mind raging at the injustice she had just suffered. She was livid with Janeway for allowing the Dalreghians to make such derogatory remarks and not commenting more forcefully. On top of that, she had been taken away from the project team after putting all the preparatory work together in record time. In some ways, she was glad to be away from the visitors. If all of them held similar beliefs, the Klingon knew that she would not be comfortable around them. Unfortunately, it left her with little to do during the technology exchange. Hopefully, it wouldn't take too long and Voyager could leave this part of space behind.

She barely paused long enough for the doors to her quarters to hiss open before she began tugging at her uniform jacket. "Tom, you'll never believe what just happened," she called out. She knew her lover was present, as his tunic had been thrown carelessly over her sofa. Not seeing him in the main living area, B'Elanna crossed over to the bedroom so she could grab something to change into. She had already partially pulled her grey polo neck off when she realised that something was seriously amiss.

Tom was lying on her bed, naked and wide-eyed. Next to him laid the dishevelled form of an ensign from the Botanics department. "Now, this isn't what it looks like," the sandy-haired pilot stammered, holding up a hand placatingly.

"And what does it look like?" B'Elanna's voice was peculiarly calm.

"Nat and I were just playing around. I didn't think you'd be back yet. I'm sorry honey." Tom began to babble, not realising that every sentence was angering B'Elanna more and more.

"Oh, I'm sorry I got home early. How inconvenient for you," the engineer replied tightly, her voice strained.

"I'm so sorry. Let me get dressed and we'll talk," Tom continued, aware of his own nakedness in front of his lover. The ensign from Botanics was clutching the bed sheet over her in an effort to regain some modesty. She was also determined to stay as still as possible so as not to attract any more unwanted and potentially violent attention from B'Elanna.

"Well, I suppose it serves me right for thinking that I'd already suffered the worst part of my day," B'Elanna stated cryptically. "Get out. Now," she ordered.

Tom turned to his bed partner. "Go on Nat. I'll speak to you later." The ensign yanked the sheet with her and grabbed her uniform on the way out of the bedroom.

The pilot watched her go and listened for the doors to hiss shut before looking back at B'Elanna. "I'm really, really sorry. I've been so stupid," he apologised again.

"Why are you still here?" B'Elanna asked sweetly.


"I told you to get out. Why are you still here?" There was an undeniable menace underneath the question.

"I thought you meant Nat. Not me. Can't we work this out? Please, B'Elanna." Tom wasn't afraid to beg, knowing that he had totally screwed up.

"Well, that's another assumption you got wrong," B'Elanna replied icily. "Now I'll make it easy for you. I'm going now. I will be back in one hour. I don't want a single trace of evidence that you ever existed inside my quarters. Do I make myself clear?"

"Can't we talk about this? I made a mistake. Please, don't let's throw away everything we have over something trivial." Tom was desperate. He had always loved B'Elanna but enjoyed other women's company. He had just taken things too far on this occasion.

"Something trivial? Is that supposed to make it better?" B'Elanna asked incredulously. "If it meant nothing to you, then why betray me at all?"

"That's not what I meant."

"I'm not interested. I'll be back in an hour. If you're still here, I'll be alerting the Doc of an impending medical emergency and you'll be eating through a straw for the rest of the trip home. Do you understand?" B'Elanna stood menacingly over the bed. Noting the small nod of acquiescence, she spun on her heel and stalked out of her quarters. She was determined not to cry in front of the cheating P'TaQ, but she was close to breaking. Unfortunately, her one bolt hole was not available to her as it would have the Darelghians present in Engineering. As she hurried down the corridor to get as much space as possible between herself and her quarters, B'Elanna mulled over the possible places that would not be too busy and not have visitors. In the end, she settled for the shuttle bay so she could at least fall apart in private.

Part 3

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