DISCLAIMER: You all know it, the characters and background story don't belong to me but to Paramount, unfortunately. No copyright infringement is intended, no profit will be made.
LANGUAGE DISCLAIMER: English is not my first language. So, please be lenient. Also, there's some Klingon in this story. If the context is not self-evident, a translation in [...] is added. At the end you'll find a list of all the terms used in order of appearance with a few notes to cultural specifics.
SEXUAL DISCLAIMER: This story deals among others with a loving relationship between two consenting adult women, though there will be no graphic descriptions because nothing but sexual tension happens; a first time story without a first time, so to speak. However, please go away if you're not old enough or you don't like stuff like this, and if it's illegal where you live, order a U-haul and move!
TIMELINE: This story is basically situated in the first and the beginning of the second season of "Star Trek: Voyager". I tweaked the characters a bit, especially Kathryn Janeway. Just imagine her a few years younger than she appears to be in the show, and forget all about her largely inadequate fiancé Mark, no Mark or any other male. I also made her a bit fiercer. Just think of her still drinking coffee but replacing whiskey and soda with blood wine.
VIOLENCE DISCLAIMER: Some remembered violence and holodeck fights with the safeties off, nothing too horrible.
THANKS: Go as usual to my valiant beta-reader Pam; this time she has really outdone herself. So, if there are still grammar or spelling errors, it's my fault not hers.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
There is none so blind
Captain Kathryn Janeway was walking the corridors of Voyager, Starfleet's unplanned and only representative in the Delta Quadrant. Now, months after they had been brought to the other end of the Galaxy by the Caretaker's array, they had begun to settle into some sort of routine. The former Maquis rebels and the Starfleet personnel sent out to arrest them were beginning to form one crew with one goal. Only recently had it stopped being a marriage of convenience, but they still had a long way to go to join in a marriage of love. They still thought about each other as either 'Starfleet' or 'Maquis', and the different insignia Starfleet protocol had forced her to use didn't help matters any.
Janeway's evening strolls had become a routine that helped her to keep a finger on the pulse of the ship and its crew. It also served to help her unwind after a stressful duty shift. This evening it wasn't working. She still was angry with her chief engineer for pulling this stunt with the Sikari's trajectory matrix.
If she was honest with herself she would have to admit that she also was quite proud of the young academy drop-out. B'Elanna had stood up for her people and had taken full responsibility for the incident. That's why Janeway had refrained from sending her to the brig for breaking the Prime Directive. Instead she would be confined to quarters to think about the chain of command and the responsibilities of a senior officer. It was only a light house arrest, which meant that she would work her usual shift, but had to spend her off-duty hours in her quarters for the next twelve days.
Janeway rounded the corner to the quarters of the senior staff when the Human-Klingon-hybrid's voice brought her out of her musings. "Get out of here, Chakotay. You're no longer my captain. I refuse to put up with your sick sense of discipline and this Klingon crap any longer."
At this moment the bulky form of Voyager's first officer crashed against the bulkhead facing the entrance to B'Elanna Torres' quarters. Janeway hastened her steps.
"Belanna be sensible, for once in your life. You need this kind of discipline. You'll only get into more trouble with Captain Janeway."
There was a distinct growl coming from the room and moments later the Captain froze in mid-step. A very naked and visibly angry young woman stood in the door frame.
Chakotay stretched his hand out, trying to touch her shoulder. "Serving me is good for you, Bella. You need the lajQo' quvHa'ghamtaj."
B'Elanna's reaction was immediate. She grabbed the fingers of his outstretched hand and twisted them until he was forced to his knees. Janeway chose this moment to intervene.
"I'm sure the word you meant was lajQo' quvHa'ghachtay, Commander Chakotay. Lieutenant Torres, let him go! Put a robe on and wait for me in your quarters."
The young woman immediately obeyed and the door swished shut.
"Care to fill me in on what I just interrupted, Commander, and why you apparently mess around with Klingon rituals you obviously know nothing about?!" Janeway's force ten glare belied the calm of her voice.
"Captain, this is all just a misunderstanding. Belanna and I had a disagreement. It happens among friends, even when they are as close as we are."
"Do you want to press charges against Lieutenant Torres for attacking you?"
"No, Captain, as I said. It was just a quarrel. If you don't mind I'll tell her that she won't be in further trouble." The big man made a step towards the door.
"I do mind. You have done enough for one night, Commander. I'll deal with B'E Lieutenant Torres. Dismissed."
"Captain, I "
The tattooed man turned reluctantly towards his own quarters, and the Captain waited until he had disappeared behind a bend in the corridor before asking entrance to her chief engineer's quarters.
The young woman was wearing a blood red robe and did her best to stand at attention when Janeway entered her quarters a couple of minutes later. She looked straight ahead, not daring to meet her commanding officer's eyes.
"Lieutenant Torres, that's the second time in less than twenty-four hours that I've had reason to reprimand you. What do you have to say in your defence?"
"I just witnessed my chief engineer attack my second in command, but Commander Chakotay insinuated that it was nothing more than a lover's quarrel. Is this what happened?"
"No, ma'am." The answer came surprisingly quickly and this time she looked the captain in the eyes, and there was so much pain in her brown orbs that all the other woman wanted to do was take her in her comforting arms but that wouldn't do, not now, not ever.
"Sit down and tell me what really happened. Tell me about the lajQo' quvHa'ghachtay, the whole story."
Kathryn Janeway held the younger woman captive with her pale blue orbs and haltingly the dark haired engineer began to speak.
"You know that I can have quite a temper, and even while we still were with the Maquis it often got the better of me, but even a Maquis ship does not work without discipline. Chakotay must have found this 'Rite to reject dishonour' in a database with cultural information we took from an abandoned Cardassian research facility. He told me it would be a good way for me to learn self-control but when he detailed what would be expected of me I refused.
"A couple of weeks later the scouting party I was leading was almost captured because I became impatient. I told him I would do it.
"In a strange way it worked because I loathed his so-called sessions so much I tried to control myself simply to keep him out of my cabin."
"Tell me more about this ritual. What did he tell you about it?"
"Whenever I did something of which he did not approve, Chakotay usually came to my room and ordered me to strip. I had to kneel in front of him with my knees spread and listen to his lecture about my short comings. I had to thank him for his consideration and ask him to correct my flaws. He would then order me to stand against a wall and whip me until he drew blood."
B'Elanna's eyes dropped to the floor and the older woman made her look up again by putting a hand under her chin. "There's no reason for shame, B'Elanna. Please, continue."
The eyes of her captain seemed to reassure the young woman.
"I had to thank him for disciplining me and ask him to be allowed to show my gratitude. He then would order me to serve him dinner or order me to kneel in front of his seat on all fours and he... he used my back to rest his feet on. Sometimes he ordered me to repeat a few key sentences. Sometimes he made me eat things he knew I hate like gagh, replicated gagh and paluccas and targh flesh."
The young woman fell silent and looked to the floor. "I need to know all of it, B'Elanna Torres; between us there is no shame."
"He ordered me to say that I was just a lowly female and would accept him as my better. He had me say that I was a prime example of Klingon rashness and that Humans are far superior to Klingons in every aspect. There was more but I'd really prefer not having to repeat it."
As a rule Captain Kathryn Janeway was not easy to anger but now she had a hard time to keep her temper from showing, for more than one reason. "B'Elanna, did he ever ask more of you, something sexual?"
"No, he said that it was about teaching me patience and humility, nothing more. He said that I had yet not earned to be treated as a sexual being."
Kathryn Janeway studied B'Elanna's posture and eyes, but decided that she really had told her the whole truth. "Did you ever read the rules of the lajQo' quvHa'ghachtay yourself?"
"No, I ... I trusted him."
The auburn haired captain rose and walked over to B'Elanna's work station. The screen remained black; confinement to quarters also meant no computer access.
"Computer, reactivate the terminal in Lieutenant Torres' quarters. Authorization: Janeway delta phi three. Limit access to cultural databases, subsection: Klingon Empire. Load Klingon dictionary and disable translation program."
A few clicks brought up the texts relating to the lajQo' quvHa'ghachtay, the "Rite to reject dishonour".
"B'Elanna, I know that your Klingon heritage makes you feel uneasy but I think it's time for you to reclaim at least part of it. I want you to read and translate the texts I just called up as part of your punishment for attacking your commanding officer. Your house arrest will be doubled to twenty-four days. Both punishments will stay off record. Apart from tonight, has Chakotay ever done this since we joined forces?"
"After I attacked Lieutenant Carey in Engineering, Captain," was the softly spoken answer.
"I see. I want you to send me a message as soon as your translation is complete. Then we will talk, and now try to get some sleep."
B'Elanna's eyes stayed riveted to the closed door long after Captain Janeway had left.
Earlier this day she had heard the disappointment in her Captain's voice and it had cut her more deeply than anything Chakotay had ever said or done to her during these so-called training sessions. Twelve days, twenty-four days or even a year of house arrest would never make up for disappointing the woman whose judgement had come to mean so much to her.
Snippets of the lecture popped up in her mind. " throw you in the brig I need everyone on this crew if you ever even the slightest you will no longer be an officer on this crew "
And what had she done?! -- She had attacked the first officer and yet Captain Janeway insisted on keeping the whole incident off the record.
Tonight, for the first time, she had seen Chakotay's arguments for what they always had been: an excuse to see her subdued and subservient. This night his words had not made her shiver as they had done before. The reprimand from Janeway was still too painfully vivid in her mind.
The older woman had not reacted as she had expected when telling her about the lajQo'quvHa'ghachtay. She had expected the Starfleet captain to accuse her of not defending herself against what in her eyes must have been abuse. She had expected to see disappointment in her Captain's eyes but instead, for the flicker of a moment, she had seen anger, anger not at her but on her behalf.
Perhaps Janeway had at least some idea that for the half-Klingon this ritual was literally a question of honour. B'Elanna quickly dismissed the thought; Janeway was just too Starfleet. But was she really?
The lajQo' quvHa'ghachtay... how could she have known about it? How could she have found it this quickly in the not translated part of the cultural database on Klingons?
lajQo' quvHa'ghachtay... It should have been evident for her from the beginning.
What Chakotay had said made no sense at all, "the rite to reject the honour of an animal leg"? Damn, she had been so stupid. But how could Captain Janeway have known about it? It just made no sense.
The young woman stopped her musings, sat down in front of her view screen and stared at the Klingon text in front of her. Her mother had made sure that she knew the language fluently and learned about their most important customs but over the years she had deliberately renounced her non-human heritage. She had tried to forget all about it, and considering how she had let herself be fooled by Chakotay, she had been successful.
Meanwhile, Kathryn Janeway was in Holodeck II trying to quench her anger at her first officer by running one of her workout programs at the highest setting. Over the last few months she had come to appreciate and trust the former renegade. She had seen him as an honourable man with integrity and steadfast morals.
B'Elanna's quietly spoken words, the pain in her brown eyes and the dishonourable use of the lajQhHa'ghachtay had taught her better. What he had done to B'Elanna not only had crossed the line; it had shown his callousness and egotism in bright colours.
Her anger on behalf of the young woman was, she was well aware, more intense than she should feel for an ordinary member of her staff.
Two and a half hours later she was calm enough to consider her options and found that she didn't have that many. She could bring him up on charges of harassment and abuse, but she was not ready to let the young woman suffer a public trial. And then there was the loudly yelling part of her that longed to push her dishonourable first officer out of the next airlock.
Her steps led Janeway unconsciously to Tuvok's quarters. For a moment she hesitated to interrupt his meditation and burden him with what she saw as her emotional quandaries. Parts of her lecture from earlier this day flashed through her mind.
"You are one of my most valued officers and you are my friend You are my counsel, the one I turn to when I need my moral compass checked From now on bring your logic to me; don't act on it behind my back."
All in all this was no private business; it was ship's business. This was not about her unreasonable need to protect her chief engineer; it was about a man she had trusted and who now had turned out to be a danger to her ship.
Not only that; he had shown that he had to be kept under constant surveillance. This certainly would fall into the realm of the chief of Security and having something to stay off record did not mean to try to keep it from her oldest friend and confidant but the truth was that she simply did not want to be alone for the rest of this night, and the dark skinned Vulcan was possibly the only living humanoid in the universe with whom she could share silence without getting antsy. He also might have answers to some of her questions from the time he had spent undercover with the Maquis, she rationalised.
The door chime sounded and Tuvok asked her in as if he had expected her visit. She took a seat on the low couch running under the view port and asked without preamble, "Tuvok, when you were with the Maquis, what was the relationship between Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant Torres?"
"Clarify please." The fact that he had not added a "Captain" or the only very rarely used "Kathryn" told her two things: Tuvok's logical Vulcan mind had correctly picked up on her unexpressed romantic feelings for her chief of engineering some time ago, she presumed, and he was not entirely sure if the woman or the captain was asking the question.
Kathryn smiled; the dark skinned Vulcan just knew her too well, always had and probably always would.
"What I will tell you now will not leave this room. There will be no official record, not even in your private logs."
The Vulcan's elegantly arched eyebrow rose considerably, but now she was sure that he would treat what she would tell him just as a Catholic Priest should treat what he had learned during confession. In the two hours she had just spent beating her holographic opponents to a pulp, she had developed a plan but in any case she would need him as her ally. So, Kathryn gave him a detailed report of the scene she had witnessed in the corridor of the crew quarters and of her conversation with the Human-Klingon-Hybrid.
She also gave him a short overview of about what the misleadingly named lajQo' quvHa'ghachtay was really. Chakotay had used it to subdue a proud individual, someone with integrity and honour, but since the days of Kahless the "rite to reject dishonour" had been about helping young warriors to find their way. It had been about teaching them to deal with difficult situations, and sometimes that meant that they also had to learn humility but it never had been aimed to humiliate. It had been about teaching them to respect the chain of command but not about keeping them subservient.
When she had finished both of Tuvok's eyebrows had almost reached his hairline. "I'll send a security team to arrest Commander Chakotay."
"No, you won't, Tuvok. I told you, nothing official."
"But Captain, this has the potential of a security risk of massive proportions. Someone capable of doing what he did, and not only once, should never have been accepted at Starfleet Academy or risen in rank like he has before resigning his commission. He can not be trusted.
"And aside from that: Lieutenant Torres has come a long way to control her volatile temper, but this fragile balance now is threatened. She could do something rather ill advised as soon as she begins to understand how much Commander Chakotay dishonoured her."
"I'm not worried about the commander being attacked; I'm worried about B'El Lieutenant Torres blaming herself, my friend. He used a Klingon ritual to degrade and abuse her, knowing how sensitive she is to all things Klingon."
"I will increase my vigilance concerning both of them, Captain." For everyone else the answer would have sounded completely detached and even disinterested but Kathryn Janeway heard deep concern.
"Concerning your initial question, Captain. For the most part they gave no indication to be anything else but friends, but there were moments when I saw wariness in Lieutenant Torres' eyes but I put it down to too much work. I should have looked closer."
"You had no way to know, my friend. I want you to send Commander Chakotay to my Ready Room as soon as he starts his shift tomorrow morning."
"You might want a security officer present, Captain."
"No, not this time, my friend. This time I can't do it the Starfleet way. I don't want this whole thing to become public knowledge, but Chakotay crossed the line and he will have to pay for it. If he does not leave me a choice, none of us would like the publicity, but I won't hesitate. What will happen will entirely depend on him, but justice will be satisfied; one way or the other."
"Do you think it wise to make it this personal, Captain?"
"Probably not, Tuvok, but it's what I have to do; Starfleet Regulations be damned. By misusing the lajQo' quvHa'ghachtay the way he did, Chakotay not only dishonoured Lieutenant Torres but also Klingon culture, Klingon history, and Klingon spirituality. You know that that's something I can't allow to go."
The dark skinned chief of Security knew her probably better than anyone else, including her mother and younger sister, and they long ago had dispensed with the need for words, despite her passionate words earlier this day when she had been forced to reprimand her old friend, sentencing him to the same twelve days of house arrest that she had the young woman. For him it would barely make a difference to his usual routine, she knew, but she was the Captain and had to enforce discipline, no matter who it was.
"Will you have some tea?" he asked.
They had spent many nights like this, sharing tea and silence.
"You wanted to see me, Captain?"
"Yes, Commander, stand at ease!"
The big man's body stiffened at her words until this day they had had a rather informal relationship, at least in the captain's Ready Room. Her voice left no doubt that this would not be one of those times.
"Consider this an unofficial conversation, Commander. There will be no log entries about it. It'll stay completely off record. Do I make myself clear?"
"You had one night to think about it. Do you have anything to add or retract about yesterday evening and your 'altercation' with Lieutenant Torres, Commander?"
Kathryn Janeway was sitting behind her desk, looking relaxed and well rested, ready to take on the universe. No one would suspect that she spent a considerable part of the night punching holographic opponents in order to fight the dark cloud of anger her first officer's behaviour had awakened, and that she had ended the night sipping tea with Tuvok.
The tall man put his most friendly smile on his face and answered. "I already told you, Captain. It was just a misunderstanding between friends, very good friends if you get my drift. As soon as I'll get the chance I'll clear things up with Belanna."
"First of all, her first name is B'Elanna not Belanna. Even a first year cadet should know this. It's as if everyone would call you Chak'tay." He involuntarily once again straightened his posture. "Now, tell me about this lajQo' quvHa'ghachtay."
The expression on his face did not change but his body unconsciously shifted to a more relaxed attention.
"It's just a game we play from time to time, Captain. It's completely harmless, just a way to spend an agreeable evening every once in a while."
Kathryn Janeway's command mask was firmly in place; so, Chakotay didn't know that he had just made his second crucial mistake. She slowly rose from her seat and though the former Maquis topped her by at least half a head, he certainly was not the one dominating the room.
"You just blew your last chance to regain my trust, Commander, by making two grave errors. You assumed that I would put more credence in your words than in those of Lieutenant Torres, and you presumed that I'm as unfamiliar with Klingon culture as the average Starfleet officer."
Janeway let her words sink in while looking the tattooed man right in the eyes. Chakotay once again stood ramrod straight but nevertheless gave the impression of slumped shoulders and even seemed to pale slightly.
Kathryn kept her voice calm but cold. "You betrayed Lieutenant Torres' trust. I had expected better of you, Commander, much better. Over the past couple of months I learned to trust you, but now I'm forced to review my initial judgement of your character.
"According to Federation Law I should send you to the brig and have you court-marshalled for conduct unbecoming of an officer, for sexual harassment no, don't even try to tell me that you never touched the lieutenant in a sexual way; we both know better for bodily injury and abuse."
Without even knowing he took half a step backwards. His voice, however, showed much more self-confidence. "But Kathryn, last night, it was private, between me and Torres..."
"Even a Ferengi would be ashamed of your behaviour, Commander."
The last word held enough venom to poison half the quadrant but still Kathryn's voice had been as calm as if they were going over departmental reports, and once again his body reacted and returned to stiff attention, like a first year cadet in front of an admiral.
"Last night I learned that you can't be trusted, not as an officer and not as a human being. The Klingon 'rite to reject dishonour' though rarely used in the last couple of centuries is a sacred ritual. What you used it for was an insult to the whole Klingon Empire."
She paused to let her words sink in. "Every Klingon, everywhere in the Universe would be in his or her right to kill you on the spot. And you can be sure that had I not given my oath to hold up the principles of the Federation and Starfleet, I personally would have tossed you out of an airlock last night."
Janeway had hoped that there would be at least some remnant of the former Starfleet officer left in the man, the Starfleet officer he had appeared to be over the last few months. His posture, however, seemed to relax and his words proved that at least some of his earlier bravado had come back.
"No, you won't. That's not who you are."
"You have no idea who I am and what I'm capable of, Commander." This time his rank was pronounced with disdain.
"I tell you what will happen now. As of now you are relieved of duty. Consider yourself under house arrest for the next nine months. Your command codes will be disabled as well as your computer access. Commander Tuvok will make sure that your replicator is programmed with severe restrictions, allowing only the necessary amount of food and clothes to be created. In nine months you will return to your place as my second-in-command, not because I think that you are worthy of the position but simply because right at my side you will be easier to control. For anyone who might ask, you will tell them that you need some time out, a spiritual retreat of sorts."
"And if I don't accept this punishment?"
"I told Lieutenant Torres that what happened yesterday evening would stay off record, but if you leave me no choice there will be a trial; and you can be sure that the jury will consist of women only.
"Besides, do you really think your Maquis friends will still trust you, confide in you when they learn what and who you are? Do you want everyone to know that you are an ignorant, abusive, manipulative bastard who even does not stop to take advantage of his best friends? Or do you want to appear as the calm, spiritual man you certainly are not? It's up to you."
There it was again. He was standing ramrod straight but with a pale hue to his darkened skin.
"On a personal note: Not too long ago you fought me tooth and nail over naming Lieutenant Torres our chief of engineering. You helped me see that she's the right choice for the job and she has more than validated that choice. How could you stand up for her as you did and at the same time treat her as you did? That's beyond comprehension."
Moments of silence stretched into minutes. Janeway held the taller man captive with her eyes and finally he said, "Do you really want an honest answer, Captain?"
She didn't answer but just waited for him to speak openly.
The tall man took a deep breath and hesitatingly said. "When I first brought the idea with this Klingon ritual up, I had been joking. I just wanted to taunt her but she took me seriously. And when she later said that she wanted to try it, I couldn't resist the temptation.
"I know you probably don't want to hear this but Torres is so strong and passionate, there was something addictive about seeing her so humble, so devout. I never before had felt this powerful." He didn't dare to look at her, only too aware that she probably would favour him with her trademark force-ten-glare.
"Are you really aware of what you just said, Chakotay? Your behaviour not only violated the rules of conduct of a Starfleet Officer, it's a shame for every decent human being."
Once again the silence stretched between them, and the former Maquis renegade once again had to accept that he had met more than just his match in Kathryn Janeway. He had met his better in more than one aspect. So, he tried to get out of this inherently embarrassing situation by outwardly giving in.
"I'm sorry, Captain. I'll make sure that it will never happen again. I'll talk to my spiritual guide."
"All I want to know is: Will you accept the punishment or will you rather stand trial and spend the rest of our journey behind a force field?"
After a few more seconds of looking into the unflinching eyes of his commanding officer and being subjected to her almost palatable cold rage, he gave in.
"I accept the punishment, Captain Janeway."
"Wise decision. Go directly to your quarters. The nine months begin now. Dismissed." She turned her head towards her view screen and sent her new orders to Commander Tuvok's station with the official header 'Request for spiritual leave approved'.
Kathryn ran her right hand through her auburn hair in a gesture of exasperation as soon as the door had closed behind her first officer.
The punishment Chakotay just had reluctantly agreed to was far from what she thought he deserved. Tuvok, of course, never would say it, but she knew him well enough to be sure that he also would not be content with the unofficial sentence, but at least he would make sure that the conditions she had imposed on her former first officer would be enforced at all times, and that he never would get another chance at acting this inappropriately no, that was too weak a word for it; there was really no Starfleet sanctioned word to categorise his behaviour.
Though for the time being the problem had be solved, at the moment she really wished that this was not a Starfleet ship neither the Klingons nor most other species would have had a problem with spacing him after what he did; even the Romulans and Cardassians would have found anything else unacceptable.
Kathryn retook her seat to fight the urge to pace, and even this early in the day she knew that she would need at least another couple of hours of exercise to get rid of the aggressive energy the conversation with Chakotay had created; especially if she considered that she yet had to deal with the fall-out of B'Elanna finding out about the true nature of the ritual to which her then commanding officer had subjected her.
But first she had some paperwork to get out of the way. With a sigh she drew one of the data padds over to her and entered a few notes in her own unit but before she could really concentrate on her paperwork the door chime made her head snap up and she automatically answered, "Come in."
Tuvok stepped in and before he could say anything she asked, "Lieutenant Torres?"
"I just received a message from Engineering. Lieutenant Torres did not report to duty this morning. Mister Carey tried to call her but didn't get an answer. I took the liberty to search for her life signs. She's in Holodeck I; the safeties are disabled as well as the voice command overrides. There also is an encryption code sealing the door."
"She doesn't make it easy, does she? Which program is running?"
"It's one of your programs, Captain; Sub zero-four."
"Of all the times to embrace her Klingon heritage, and she has to choose one of the most difficult of the training programs." Straightening up she said, "Computer, log Lieutenant Torres and Captain Janeway off duty for personal reasons."
"So logged," answered the dispassionate computer voice.
Kathryn left her Ready Room, and Tuvok followed her to the turbolift. As soon as the doors were closed he said, "Captain, as your chief of Security I must object."
"I don't expect any less of you, Tuvok. That's why it will be your job to keep an eye on our life signs while we're in the holodeck. You will be our life line, so to speak."
In answer to his raised eyebrow she added, "There's a subroutine that will allow me to beam into the active scenario. It will change the parameters of the program, but for now it's the only way. I don't know how skilled B'Elanna is in hand-to-hand combat and won't risk her life unnecessarily."
Tuvok once again raised his eyebrow but didn't say anything. The turbolift stopped at deck three and the captain walked into her quarters where she disappeared into the bedroom. Less than two minutes later she was back, still in her uniform trousers, with her comm. badge fixed to a black sleeve-less T-shirt, carrying a bat'leth.
Tuvok silently followed her back to the turbolift. As soon as the door had closed she said. "The program is designed for advanced battle training. It consists of seven levels and can be started anywhere between level one and four. With the voice commands disabled, it can't be stopped before it has run through all seven levels."
"Why don't we just cut off the program from the outside, Captain?"
"This is not a Starfleet program, Tuvok. She by now must be at level five, and from there on, there's nothing that can be done from the outside. It simply has to run its course."
The tall Vulcan just looked at her, not even a raised eyebrow, apparently resigned to her very human irrationalities.
"It's important that I do this my way, Tuvok. Monitor the life signs and should you be in doubt consult with the Doctor though I would prefer to keep him out of it."
The auburn haired woman keyed in a couple of manual commands at the holodeck's control panel. "Wish me luck, my friend."
"Vulcans don't believe in luck, Captain, but over the years I learned to never underestimate your resolve or your resourcefulness."
With the last syllable the familiar hum of a transporter sounded and moments later the computer panel at the door indicated two life signs.
Back on the Bridge the tall Vulcan transferred the transporter control to his console and instructed the computer to alert him should one of the life signs become unstable.
The area of space around the Sikarian home world seemed particularly calm and though Vulcans are not prone to day dreaming his mind brought him back to the day he first made the acquaintance of the then newly minted Lieutenant Kathryn Janeway, sporting the cyan blue of a Starfleet science officer.
The years and the demands of her career had changed her, but from time to time her former unmitigated joy of living, her impish sense of humour and her sense for adventure and exploration made themselves felt. It had been these qualities that had drawn him to the young officer because before and even after her prolonged stay on the Klingon home world, they had been tempered by a sound judgement, surprisingly logic reasoning and a great respect for the beliefs and approaches of other cultures. A cynic might have qualified as him living precariously through her emotions.
His years of experience with Kathryn Janeway and her way of thinking, close to one and a half decade if he thought about it, gave him a good idea of what his commanding officer intended to do, given her nature she could do nothing else and he was determined to help her as best as he could.
The cave walls around her showed the captain that they really were well into level five of the training's program. She followed the sound of metal hitting metal and saw her chief engineer locked in a fight against two opponents. She knew that she didn't have long before the program would adapt to her presence and increase the level of difficulty.
The tip of a mek'leth grazed B'Elanna's shoulder without injuring her. It made her stumble back but she regained her balance in time and used the distance to slice one of them open, his guts spilling out of him. He was replaced quickly with two other fighters. The young woman's look of surprise was evident and she barely avoided being cut in half. Her initial opponent meanwhile came at her from the side and Kathryn decided to interfere.
B'Elanna growled at her. "What are you doing here? I don't need a babysitter, Captain."
Janeway could have answered in a lot of ways but now was not the time to talk, so she simply said, "Let's just say that I need the exercise." A quick combination move disarmed her opponent and cut his throat.
They fought their way through the cave side by side and from time to time also back to back and so quickly reached the other end and the next level.
Starfleet training programs had rest periods built in, this one didn't and so they stepped from the semi darkness of the caves into the blinding light of the midday sun somewhere on the mountains of Qo'nos. They would have to get past a wild targh and then would have to face a group of thieves armed with energy weapons at least, that had been the scenario when she last had run the program.
The women rolled out of the way when an energy blast exploded the packed ground to their right. They sought cover behind a boulder and quickly found out that they were surrounded.
B'Elanna left their hiding place and slowly raised her bat'leth high over her head. Kathryn mimicked her movements, curious about the young woman's strategy. Three Klingon males appeared; wearing dirty, improvised armour, each of them sporting a few scars and aiming their disruptors steadily at the women.
Without moving her lips B'Elanna whispered, "Make a show of putting your weapon down when they come closer. That should draw their attention. I'll take out the one facing me and grab his weapon."
As far as improvised plans went it was a good one, Kathryn thought. Surrender one's weapon was not something a Klingon would ever do or expect someone else to do, so, it certainly would attract their attention. The only question remaining was, however, if it would be enough.
The first part of the plan ran like clockwork but the dead man's weapon was now buried under his body and both promptly blinked out of existence. Kathryn saw it happen and instantly acted; she tucked herself in a ball and rolled through the spread legs of one of the other men, came up behind them before they had a chance to turn around and killed them with their own mek'leths which they had been wearing in sheaths on their backs. They also were immediately reabsorbed by the system but their weapons stayed in the captain's hands.
Moments later, B'Elanna tackled her to the ground and the disruptor blast that would have torn open her stomach or at least her side hit the engineer's lower leg. They landed in a pile on the ground and Kathryn instinctively threw one of the small swords towards the possible origin of the blast. To her own surprise she heard it hit its intended target and another opponent fizzled out of existence.
Kathryn grabbed her bat'leth and made B'Elanna use hers as a crutch as she dragged her over to a cave opening half hidden behind two man-sized boulders. On this level caves always held some possible danger but it was also less than probable that these four had been all there would be waiting for them.
B'Elanna sank down in the shadow of one of the boulders. "Damn it; that hurts!"
The auburn haired woman swallowed her instinctive response about how such things tended to happen if one was stupid enough to disable the safeties of the holodeck. But the younger woman had saved her life and Tuvok would undoubtedly point out that voluntarily walking into such a holodeck scenario was also no sign of higher intelligence, especially with this holo program.
Had the safeties still been on, the program would end should the player sustain a normally critical injury. With the safeties off, it could only be stopped by completing all seven levels. The Klingon Defence Force used this setting during the finals of their equivalent of Starfleet Academy. Whoever made it through the whole scenario without getting seriously injured was supposed to have great potential as a warrior and even a potential leader.
So, instead of answering Kathryn ripped her black shirt and cut off the lower half. She silently applied a field dressing to the injured leg but there was nothing more she could do at the moment.
"Thank you, Captain."
"You're welcome. It's the least I could do after you saved my life, B'Elanna."
"I also endangered it in the first place. I'm sorry, Captain."
"Your disregard for protocol is one of the things we'll have to talk about later, Lieutenant. For now, we have a holo program to finish. Stand up and see if you can put some weight on your leg. We have to make our way to the other side of the mountain to reach the next level. It might be easier to take the scenic route and walk around the mountain "
Kathryn was interrupted by a loud growl emanating from the darkness of the cave. She barely had the time to turn around and ready her remaining mek'leth when the beast attacked. The weapon slid along the ribcage of the big animal and embedded itself in its abdomen but that didn't stop its assault. Four-inch-long teeth snapped close just a fraction of an inch from her throat, claws raked both her upper arms and suddenly the whole weight of the massive creature dropped heavily on top of her. She was quickly covered in blood gushing from a wound at the animal's muscular neck. Before she had the chance to begin to feel squashed the animal and the mek'leth dissolved.
The predatory creature was roughly one and a half times the size of a very big lion. The patterns of its fur closely resembled a Tika cat, together with targhs the favourite pets in Klingon families. Of course they were considerably smaller, about the size of an Irish setter.
The sound of tearing fabric made the captain turn her head. B'Elanna was in the process of shredding her own shirt and only when she began to wrap it around her upper right arm, the auburn haired woman remembered her own injury.
"Wait, please; let it bleed a bit longer. I know the dirt is holographic but I still don't want to risk an infection."
"Why are you here, Captain? Putting yourself in danger."
Kathryn smiled. "I already told you. We'll talk about it later as soon as the Doctor has patched us up and we got through his lecture about irresponsible behaviour and Starfleet hotheads. We first have to get to the last level of the program."
The young woman nodded though she obviously still had more questions than she cared to admit.
"I'm really sorry that I did this to you, Captain."
Kathryn's eyes sparkled but her voice didn't change. "I think you can wrap these scratches now, and then let's go, Lieutenant. We still have to get to the other side of the mountain."
As soon as they began to round the boulders at least three disruptor blasts coming from about a one hundred degree angle tried to cut them down. They missed but without any energy weapons at their disposal they now were stuck between a rock and a hard place, literally, with the threat of energy weapons on one side and the unknown dangers of the cave on the other. They decided to brave the dangers of the unknown, well aware of the fact that they could encounter the mate of the dead animal or maybe something worse. There also was a high probability of their attackers following them into the cave but they both knew that this was a chance they would have to take.
B'Elanna set the pace and Kathryn kept her ears open for possible signs of pursuit. Their nerves were taut like bowstrings; suddenly B'Elanna felt more than heard a presence in front of them and at the same time the fiery Starfleet Captain quickly drew her into a small side tunnel of the cave system. Three heavily muscled and visibly angry Klingons ran past them, their weapons drawn but oblivious to the danger ahead.
They didn't have to wait long to hear the first disruptor blast but it was also the only one. The sounds that then were reflected back to them were all too easy to interpret and now they once again had to choose.
The logical choice would be to head back to the cave entrance and trust that there would be no other armed thieves waiting for them. However, the logical, Vulcan way to do things more often than not didn't conform to the Klingon or Human way of thinking. So, they followed their former pursuers into the darkness. They didn't expect to find any corpses and so almost stumbled over the lifeless forms of two of them. Kathryn bent down and checked them for signs of life. They were dead but luckily the program had yet to reabsorb their weapons.
Kathryn decided to check the integrity of the program's matrix the first chance she got. It was usually only on the last level that the holographic corpses were not instantly absorbed back into the system. For now, however, she decided to take advantage of the apparent fluke and handed B'Elanna one of their disruptor pistols and took the other one for herself.
They cautiously rounded the next bent where they found the mangled body of the third man. There was no sign of the animal but the tracks they found indicated that it was of the same race as the one they had had to kill earlier.
They walked on.
The claw marks on Kathryn's upper arms began to burn and her chief engineer's limp was getting more pronounced. It seemed as if they had been following the winding main tunnel for hours. There still was no sign of the predator.
After five more minutes they suddenly hit a dead end. B'Elanna wearily leaned with her back against the wall to take her weight off her injured leg. Kathryn kicked the wall in an unexpected show of frustration and a chunk of rock landed on the cave floor, creating a small opening that let some light in. She repeated the kick and the hole got slightly bigger, disproportional to the force of the kick but beggars can't be choosers. One exchanged look was enough to synchronise their efforts.
B'Elanna stepped away from the rock wall and they both readied their disruptors. "Be prepared to run. I don't trust the structural integrity of these tunnels," the captain said.
They fired the disruptors and the next moment they found themselves in a great hall and armed only with their bat'leths. They had reached the last level.
Kathryn knew from experience that they now would have to re-enact one or the other of the historical Klingon battles. The last time it had been the battle of Klach D'Kel Brakt, but she didn't immediately recognise the setting of this one.
"That looks like the pictures of the Great Hall on Kronos I have seen when I was young but the columns are different and where are all the statues?" B'Elanna asked.
Suddenly Kathryn understood; yes, this was indeed to be a great battle and part of one of the most romantic Klingon love stories. She once again promised herself to check the program's subroutines as soon as this was over.
"Qam Chee!" She said.
"You're kidding. Qam Chee? Where Kahless and Lukara fought five hundred enemies after the warriors of the garrison had fled."
"The one and only, Lieutenant. We have to secure the door. We soon will have more company then we ever wanted."
At the other end of the long hall they found two sets of doors. The main entrance had been bolted down with a solid metal bar the length of a grown man and further barricaded. Opened it would allow four armed warriors to enter side by side. It would be difficult to hold the gate with only two fighters and two bat'leths.
The sound of marching feet reached their ears and the small side door burst open. Luckily it only allowed in one warrior at a time. The women took turns in dispatching the intruders but the main entrance would soon give under the continued assault from outside. It was only a question of time when they would break through.
The metal bar began to give and they barely managed to retreat further into the hall before the door was completely broken down and the main force of the enemy flooded the room. The two officers took position about fifty paces inside the big room, standing loosely back to back. They both knew that it wouldn't be enough to only defend themselves; they had to defeat every single one of their opponents to end the program.
B'Elanna took stock of their reserves; her leg wound sent waves of pain through her whole body with every movement. Kathryn's right arm was bleeding through the bandage though she fought with considerable skill, in fact better than anyone the young Hybrid had ever seen.
Legend had it that Kahless and Lukara fought side by side for twelve hours to overcome their enemies. The young engineer knew that she never would hold out that long. They had to find another way to get rid of their opponents, a faster way, but nothing came to mind.
Luckily for the women their greater numbers turned out to be more of a hindrance than an asset for their enemies.
Kathryn cut open the throat of one of them. Before he had even hit the ground two other took his place, one of them slicing through the bandage on her left arm while she ducked the overhead sweep of the other. She fought off a bout of dizziness.
They had to finish this as soon as possible.
A roundhouse kick propelled a warrior who had been coming at her from the side straight at one of the central columns supporting the ceiling of the hall. Out of the corner of her eyes she saw how he sank to the ground and a tiny crack appeared. During the next few minutes she tried to get a better idea about the structural integrity of the hall's ceiling, and tentatively a plan began to form.
Between two breaths she said, "We have to get over to that central column, B'Elanna."
"To take it down and bring down the ceiling? Great idea, Captain."
A few minutes later the two women were standing with their backs to the cracked column, fending off their opponents and making sure that their weapons time and again struck the pillar. It was an arduous process and also progressively becoming more difficult.
The cracks were becoming more evident; the column only needed one more decisive push.
Suddenly B'Elanna's bat'leth was swept aside and she had to drop to the ground to avoid being cut in half. The massive weapon of her opponent instead slammed against the battered column. The young engineer rolled out of the way and everything seemed to shift into slow motion. The mountain of a man aimed again, this time with the captain as his target. Kathryn also ducked in time and simultaneously brought some distance between herself, the column, and the bulk of their opponents.
His bat'leth was stuck. He yanked it out of the stone with Herculean strength. When it came free it knocked out three of his henchmen, the column finally crumbled and took a good deal of the ceiling down. As soon as the stone pillar began to collapse the two women scrambled to their feet. They knew that they had to get out before the whole hall came down on top of them.
The sound of falling stones mixed with the cries of dying men. With a bit of luck they had taken all of them out, but when they had almost reached the entrance a ghIntaq, an ancient Klingon battle spear sped past their heads and embedded itself in the wall ahead.
They once again had a choice: run or face their enemies.
Without hesitation they turned around. The giant warrior who had almost taken both of them down stepped out of a massive cloud of dust, his black armour was covered with a white layer, interspersed by patches of what appeared to be blood. Behind him appeared four more warriors, all of them visibly wounded.
Kathryn took a battle ready stance and only then became aware that the younger woman had lost her own weapon. B'Elanna proceeded to the wall and yanked the still quivering spear out of the wall. She held the spear as if it were a fighting staff. Her balance was a bit off but when the first of their remaining opponents attacked she was ready.
B'Elanna put the pain out of her conscious mind and deflected the bat'leth thrusts aimed at her by one of the others. The opening she was waiting for came surprisingly quick. She changed her hold on the weapon and thrust the pointed tip at her opponent's chest. It penetrated both of his hearts and tore open his chest cavity when she abruptly withdrew it. A cry of outrage announced her next opponent.
Meanwhile Kathryn thanked her lucky star that these warriors obviously were intent on fighting them one-on-one instead of attacking all at once.
The first one had quickly fallen for the false opening she had left in her defences. It had almost been too easy. Her next opponent proved to be more of challenge. He was fairly young and his reflexes were fast but not fast enough.
Finally only the big man was left. His bat'leth alone was almost as long as Kathryn was tall. He undoubtedly was the biggest Klingon either of them had ever seen just as if one of the larger than life statues in the Great Hall of Honour on Qo'nos had suddenly come to life.
If their lives had not been at stake, Kathryn would have been utterly fascinated. The program never before had created a character with his appearance and it didn't fit in with what she knew, or at least thought to know about the battle of Qam Chee. She made a mental note to read up on the legend.
He swirled his weapon as if he were out for a practice bout, his body language seemed almost relaxed; his eyes, however, spoke a totally different language. They were filled with cruelty and anger.
"You fight like warriors but a woman's place is in the bedroom. You betrayed your natural destiny. But I'll give you a chance: bljeghbe'chugh voj blHegh! [Surrender or die!]" He growled.
B'Elanna's answer was immediate and heated, "ghe'torvo' narghDI' qu'pu, you p'taQ [When spirits escape from Grethor]."
Kathryn's was a bit more formal, "Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam. [Today is a good day to die.]"
He attacked, bringing down his bat'leth with all his might. It took all of their combined strength to shove him back. He grinned and renewed his attack.
B'Elanna got out of his reach by jumping back but lost her balance, putting too much pressure on her injured leg. Kathryn ducked his reverse sweep with centimetres to spare. She got down to her knee and slammed her weapon against his armoured shin. He didn't go down completely but he stumbled towards the young engineer; she instinctively readied the spear. The auburn haired woman, meanwhile, had gotten back on her feet. She swung the bat'leth, aiming for the neck just above his armour.
Spear and sword penetrated their opponent at the same time; and just before he would have squashed B'Elanna the program ended and they found themselves on the hologrid -- alone. Both women sighed in relief.
The bloodstains from their holographic opponents had disappeared but somehow it made both of them more aware of the scent of their own and each other's blood.
The half-Klingon had a hard time reining in her reaction; her own blood was boiling. It was calling to the woman standing next to her. She tried to control her breathing and looked up to her captain.
The other woman's eyes were slightly dilated, her breathing was accelerated and B'Elanna's sensitive nose picked up the scent of her arousal. She watched in fascination how the lids closed over the blue-grey orbs. The older woman seemed to centre herself. When she reopened her eyes they had returned to their normal colour and her breathing was calm and measured.
"Lieutenant, please unseal the holodeck doors."
"Yes Captain. Computer, deactivate the seal to Holodeck I, authorisation: Torres epsilon four delta two."
"Acknowledged, the door to Holodeck I can now be opened."
As soon as the computer voice had stopped the captain's comm.. badge chirped. "Do you require any assistance, Captain?"
"Tuvok! As always, impeccable timing. Could you make sure that my bat'leth gets back to my quarters? And a site-to-site transport to Sickbay would be nice. We are both a bit bang "
" both a bit banged up."
They reappeared in Sickbay. The Doctor guided them to the nearest two biobeds, for once without a fuss.
"Commander Tuvok told me that there was a problem with the holodeck security protocols. How do you feel, Captain?"
"Just a few scratches, Doctor," she answered and internally smiled at the blatant lie her chief of Security had told him. "Lieutenant Torres was hit by a Klingon disruptor. See to her first. Kes can tend to me."
Instead of his usual diatribe of patients trying to diagnose themselves he only nodded and turned to the other bed.
B'Elanna tried to look relaxed but now that the adrenaline rush from the fight and the strong wave of battle haze induced arousal had washed over her, she felt wary, more so than she cared to admit.
She stifled a cry by biting her lips when searing pain shot through the injured leg. She knew the Doctor was only doing what was necessary; plasma burns from energy weapons were tricky, almost as tricky as burns from engine plasma.
She tried to keep her mind off the treatment and turned her head towards the other bed. Captain Janeway had her eyes closed while Kes was moving a dermal regenerator over her arms, and she used the rare chance to study her.
With the long hair in a ponytail and the tank-top showing off well developed muscles she looked much younger then in her uniform with her hair in a tight bun. The woman opened her eyes and smiled at her. She smiled back but before any one of them could say anything Tuvok entered Sickbay.
"Ah, Mister Tuvok. They both will make a full recovery though I want to keep them both under observation for the next couple of hours. The Captain lost a lot of blood and the good Lieutenant had two broken ribs. The plasma burn from the disruptor had already begun to eat away her shinbone. I'll limit her to light duty for the next three days; the same goes for Captain Janeway." The bald Hologram answered, ignoring the angry glances both women gave him.
"Understood. Please let me know when you release them."
"With pleasure, Mister Tuvok."
The tall Vulcan began to turn around when he was called back by B'Elanna. "Lieutenant Commander, a word please."
"Commander Tuvok, I'm turning myself in for "
"Lieutenant Torres, I suggest you keep what you do in your time off to yourself and for any other concerns you'd do better to talk to Captain Janeway. Did I make myself understood?"
"Yes, Sir," she answered though she did not understand, not really. His tone of voice, however, was something she had learned to respect during the hand-to-hand combat lessons under Commander Lomok, a very imposing Vulcan female. With the Commander it had been a sure indicator that her patience with the emotional beings all around her was about to run out and the young Hybrid had learned her lesson well.
Tuvok slightly bent his head towards the captain and left. Janeway laughed softly as soon as the door had closed behind him. "With yesterday and today, I think we tried his Vulcan patience a bit too much, B'E Lieutenant."
"Captain, did you know that apart from Commander Tuvok you are the only person on board able to pronounce my name correctly." The young woman knew she should not even have started saying what she was about to say. It bordered on insubordination. "I like the way it sounds when you say it."
"Then I'll have to say it more often, B'Elanna," Kathryn answered.
The Starfleet Captain knew that she had just crossed a line, a line a captain should never cross; they were supposed to be detached. Her chief of engineering could have died in this holo program; so, it had been her duty to go after her -- but deep down she knew that this was nothing more but a rationalisation.
Kathryn Janeway had been fascinated and attracted by the fiery Klingon-Human-Hybrid since she had first appeared on her bridge and immediately had challenged her decisions like only an enraged Klingon would dare. The young woman's passion had captivated her; perhaps that's why she had been so reluctant to name her chief engineer.
Pure passion could be as much of an advantage as an obstacle, especially in engineering but B'Elanna had proven herself.
As a captain she had to keep her distance but Kathryn also knew that she was possibly the only person on board who could help the other woman to balance her Klingon and her Human side.
"B'Elanna, why did you disable the voice commands?"
The dark-haired woman propped herself up on an elbow and looked towards the captain. Her eyes held no judgement, just honest curiosity; so B'Elanna answered honestly,
"I wanted to make sure that I saw it through to the end. I wanted to take away the chance of me chickening out."
"Your way of fighting might be a bit unconventional, B'Elanna, but you never would run away from a fight."
"Don't get me wrong, you're good and you have the heart of a warrior but the way you move showed me that you probably taught yourself how to wield a bat'leth."
"My mother insisted that I learn to fight like a Klingon but she was only able to teach me the basics of hand-to-hand combat and staff fighting. Shortly after I joined the Maquis.
"Just before I met Chakotay, we freed a Cardassian labour camp in the DMZ. Among the captives were Bajorans and Humans and a small group of Klingons, four children and a warrior. I think if not to keep the children safe he would have killed himself. The Cardassian commander initiated a self-destruct but I was able to stop it while he protected my back against the rest of his guards.. When they left for Kronos he gave his bat'leth to me and I found that fighting with it suited me and it was disconcerting for the Cardies."
B'Elanna fell silent and then asked, "Why did you ask about the voice commands and not the disabled safeties, Captain?"
"Because I usually don't ask questions to which I already know the answer. Without the risk of getting hurt or killed you would not have been able to really vent your anger. But I think it would be better," Kathryn continued after a short look towards the Holo-Doctor standing not too far away and apparently busy with something, "if we tabled this conversation until we're in a more private setting. Try to get some rest now."
B'Elanna obediently settled back on the biobed and closed her eyes. She was exhausted but she also was confused, extremely confused. Captain Kathryn Janeway had definitively thrown her for a loop today and the night before.
At the beginning she had thought that the woman was nothing but a stuck-up Starfleet busy-body, with regulations running through her veins instead of blood and procedures and protocols instead of brains and guts; but then the damned woman had made her chief engineer, though Lieutenant Carey would have been the more appropriate choice.
The Starfleet engineer had quickly gotten over his resentment when they had started to really work together and after she had apologised for hitting him and disregarding procedure. She was not in the habit of apologising, so, it had been hard but at least the Starfleet part of her crew had regarded her with a new kind of respect.
The next surprise had been when she found out that she didn't mind following the captain's orders, even in situations she would have started arguing with Chakotay. Perhaps it had to do with the discovery that the woman was unwaveringly loyal to her crew and would move Earth and Universe for them despite being Starfleet to the core. She also seemed to understand her thought patterns better than anyone else before and didn't seem disturbed by her sometimes rather unconventional solutions.
Janeway was a Starfleet officer; there was no way around it; Starfleet to the core. But was she really? An ordinary Starfleet Captain would have thrown her in the brig after attacking his First Officer, no questions asked. An ordinary Starfleet Captain would not have followed her into a holoprogram with safeties and voice commands off-line. An ordinary Starfleet Captain would not have been able to fight the way she did, to fight like a Klingon warrior.
Where did she learn how to wield a bat'leth? It definitively was not taught at Starfleet Academy. Her easy and smooth movements showed precision and a great familiarity with the traditional weapon. That alone would have been puzzling but there was more.
The captain had known about the lajQo' quvHa'ghachtay; she even had corrected Chakotay's pronunciation. A new wave of anger washed trough her when she thought of what she had allowed to happen, now that she knew what this ritual really was about.
She wanted to blame Chakotay but deep down she also knew that she alone was responsible. She had dishonoured herself. There was not doubt about it and no way around it.
While B'Elanna was still berating herself, the cheerful voice of the Doctor told the women that they were as good as new and free to go.
"Lieutenant, grab a shower and get something to eat. I'll come by in about thirty minutes. We have a lot to talk about."
The young woman was too nervous to eat, much too nervous. An ordinary captain would have ordered her to the Ready Room; this definitively was not standard operation procedure. The sonic shower did nothing to ease her mind and she paced the length of the living room until the door chimed. She froze and her voice refused to work. The chime was repeated and she finally was able to open the door manually.
"Captain, please come in. Can I offer you something to drink?"
"Not at the moment, thank you. Commander Chakotay told me that he will not defend himself should you decide to press charges for assault and rape."
"Charges? No, it was my fault. I didn't even think of stopping him. I thought he really did what was best for me."
"B'Elanna, Chakotay misused your trust. You're allowed to be angry."
"I am angry. I'm angry at myself. I allowed him to dishonour me and only because my damn Klingon temper more often than not gets the better of me."
"I know a lot of Humans with a very volatile temper, Lieutenant. Klingon or no Klingon you can learn how to control yourself and how to channel your aggressive tendencies into something more productive."
"I took some lessons with Tuvok, after you made me Chief but I think I really tested his patience. I'm not good at meditating, Captain."
"Vulcan meditation techniques are not for everyone. They certainly don't work for me. See, Lieutenant, Vulcans developed their techniques and their philosophy to overcome their violent past, a past ruled by nothing but emotion. From an early age they learn how to suppress their emotions because they simply are too strong to be contained or controlled. Humans and Klingons on the other hand need their emotions, in everyday life as well as in battle.
"Let me give you an example: Earlier this day, in the holodeck cave with this predator, we had the chance to backtrack after the men had run past us. Neither you nor I even considered it. Why?"
"Going deeper into the cave just felt like the right thing to do, Captain though now that I think about it, it would have been more logical to go back and take the long way around."
"Yes, it would have been more logical, but would it have been the right decision? Let's have a look."
Kathryn rose from the couch and B'Elanna followed her to the work station. "Computer, deactivate all restrictions on this station except for the translation program. Access the protocol tape for holodeck program Sub-Zero-Four, level six, show infrared overview. Authorisation Janeway Sub Zero Delta Seven."
The monitor came to life and showed six red dots concentrated in one part of the screen, four others about five hundred paces away and another dot much too big to be Human or Klingon in the proximity of their exit point.
The younger woman stared at the screen with widening eyes and then turned her head towards the captain. "We would have walked right into an ambush had we turned around. How did you know? And why can we see what happened while the program was running? I thought holodeck programs were supposed to be private."
"Usually they are. It's easy to monitor them but it's also considered bad taste. This, however, is a Klingon training program; so slightly different rules apply. And I didn't know, B'Elanna, I followed my heart and my experience. With your words, it just didn't feel right to turn around. I learned to listen to my emotions as long as they don't try to overwhelm me."
"That's what they always do with me. I don't have any control and I end up hurting everyone. I'm so tired of always fighting with myself," the engineer said dejectedly.
"Why did you cover up for Harry, Seska and Carey?"
The young woman was a bit surprised that the captain knew who had been in on the plan with the Sikarian matrix but she took it in stride. "I knew they were determined to get their hands on the matrix and they needed my help to make it work. They are my friends and them want to go home desperately. I also was curious; I wanted to see how it works."
Kathryn smiled at the answer but was surprised at the other woman's next words.
"I knew I would disappoint you, regardless of the outcome. Even if the damned thing would have brought us four decades closer to home, I still would have betrayed your trust, Captain. That's what made the whole thing so hard."
"Last night," she continued hesitantly, "when Chakotay came to me, I only stopped him because I suddenly understood that nothing he could say or do to me could possibly have the impact your words in the Ready Room had on me. Your anger and disappointment cut deeper than anything else because you kept yourself so damned calm and quiet."
Deep brown eyes looked into Kathryn's pale blue orbs and the captain's heart skipped a beat when she saw how young, open, and vulnerable her chief engineer allowed herself to be seen. For the fraction of a second she understood to what her first officer had fallen prey, and she had to sternly remind herself that for both of their sakes she could not afford to give into her baser instincts.
"You're right. I would have been disappointed even if it had worked but that's in the past. Let's get to the matter at hand. First of all, as of this morning, Chakotay is under house arrest for the next nine months. Without making the whole thing public, it was all I could do except for spacing him. His actions not only violated you, they also revealed a severe flaw in his character, well to put it mildly. I don't trust him any longer and will keep him under close observation, but all in all he is not my main concern. He's not the first second in command I ever had I had to keep under tight control.
"You, however, are my concern. That stunt you pulled with the holodeck; I don't want something like this to ever happen again. You let yourself be governed by fear and anger. Tell me, why do you treat your Klingon half as if it were your enemy?"
"Because it is. It, she she always gets me into trouble. Violence is the only answer she has to problems and if something does not work immediately she lashes out. My mother tried to make a Klingon out of me, someone proud of their heritage but I'm not a Klingon. I'm Human with a damn inconvenient Klingon temper. I never wanted to be anything but a Human."
"It's just speculation, B'Elanna, but I think you both were wrong. You're not a Klingon and you're not a Human."
"Then what am I?" the young woman asked, anger beginning to spark in her eyes.
"You are B'Elanna Torres, Human-Klingon-Hybrid, and Chief of Engineering on board of the Starfleet vessel Voyager of the United Federation of Planets. It's up to you to find out what that means for you personally and for the people around you. By allowing yourself to be only half of what you are, you never had a chance to reach your full potential. You can have the best of both worlds. You just have to claim it."
To her own surprise the young woman answered, "You don't know how it is, always having to fight yourself. But I'll think about it, Captain. Captain, why do you know so much about Klingons?"
"It's a long story, B'Elanna, and I'll tell you when the time is right. Did you have a chance to finish the translation I asked you to do?"
"No, Captain. It took me a lot of time to just read and understand the documents you called up. My Klingon is rusty to say the least. And when I was done I was just too angry to do anything productive. I'm sorry, Captain."
"That's alright; it's understandable. I want you to translate these texts, send them to me and then we'll talk. And make sure that it does not interfere with your duties. Be on time tomorrow."
B'Elanna snapped to attention, "Yes Captain."
The older woman turned to go, "Captain, what will be my punishment for disregarding your orders and holodeck protocols?"
Kathryn smiled at her, "I consider your injuries punishment enough, Lieutenant. And that's not open to debate."
A few minutes later Janeway changed back into her uniform and returned to duty, despite the Doctor's orders. She intended to tackle some of her never ending paperwork, but she had a hard time to concentrate on the personal records that were only due in two days time. Sometimes the energetic woman asked herself why she even bothered; after all, no one would read them in the next seventy-plus years. It was tempting to simply let the routine slide but whenever the temptation got too strong she remembered the advice Boothsby had given her at Starfleet Academy when she had returned there to attend advanced command training after her stay on Kronos.
Adhere to the small rules religiously and the brass might forgive you the big infraction every good captain sooner or later will have to commit in the interest of the greater good.
And getting one's ship stranded on the other side of the galaxy certainly counted as a big infraction.
Kathryn took a deep breath and turned her attention back to the view screen.
Three and a half hours later Janeway relieved Tuvok and took her seat on the Bridge. Beta shift had just started and it promised to be a quiet evening. Commanding the Bridge during Beta shift was something she rarely did, but like her evening strolls through the ship it allowed her to get in contact with a part of her crew with whom she usually had no interaction.
Supervising the routine operations would also keep her from fretting too much about what to tell her chief engineer, because if she were honest with herself she was a bit nervous about revealing this part of herself. She knew that there was no way around it if she really wanted to help the young woman to understand herself better.
At the end of Beta shift the sleepless night before, the fight on the holodeck and the long shift made Kathryn drop on top of her mattress and almost instantly fall asleep.
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