DISCLAIMER: Star Trek Voyager is the property of Paramount, no infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Origami Fire Lizards
By Elizabeth Carter



B'Elanna Torres grew up on a colony on Kessik IV at a time when relations between the Federation and Klingon Empire were not cordial. B'Elanna and her mother were the only Klingons there and, as the only Klingon child amongst humans, she couldn't help feeling there was something wrong with her.

Nobody ever said anything but... Miral and B'Elanna were different, and the girl didn't like that feeling. In fact B'Elanna blamed her Klingon heritage - from the looks to the temperament to her mother's deeply abiding need to uphold overstated rituals that had run her father off when she was nearly six years old. After a month of crying herself to sleep every night, B'Elanna had tried to look human, she did everything she could to hide her forehead. Hats. Scarves. You name it. But not even her attempts had stopped the children from calling her Turtlehead.

Daniel Byrd was always terrorizing B'Elanna. He used to point at her cranial ridges and tease her for being half-Klingon, calling her 'Miss Turtlehead'. In retaliation B'Elanna attacked him during recess on the gyro-swing. She was always brilliant when it came to engineering, always studying schematics, so it was easy enough to disengage the centrifugal governor. The boy spun so fast, he almost flew apart. Not satisfied with the turn on the wild swing, B'Elanna had yanked the miscreant marauder off and started pounding his little face. If Ms. Melvin hadn't showed up, there was no doubt Daniel Byrd would have had to have reconstructive surgery to restore his face. Even today he bore a few scars of that fateful day. But he had learned that calling a Klingon, even one with half-human DNA, was a very suicidal thing to do. So now he only does so when no Klingon is in ear-shot.

Miral had yanked her child out of the human school and put her into a Klingon monastery, where she could learn the proper values of honor and discipline. Her mother had thought her only child would do well in the Defence Force.

B'Elanna had other ideas. Ideas Miral didn't consent to nor condone. Ideas that further put a rift between mother and daughter. It was here, at Starfleet Academy, that B'Elanna Torres believed she might have a place in the universe. She was far too human for the Klingons, too Klingon for the humans. But at Starfleet, her being a mongrel shouldn't have mattered. They had had half-blood vulcans. And full-blooded Klingons, Vulcans, Bajorans and Trill, not to mention scores of other races, and even an android enrolled, so how was a half-breed Klingon going to be any more intrusive?

And for a time she was one of the crowd.

The honeymoon would soon be over.

It was big. It was furry. It was red. And it ploughed right into her. Cadet B'Elanna Torres had been sitting upon one of the many Greens at the Academy, studying a PADD for an up-coming quantum physics exam. She was a hybrid Klingon and thus a bit more alert to her surroundings than, say, a huma. She was not, however, prepared to be side sacked by a beast. She counter-attacked the thing and threw it from her. The red-furred dog yelped in surprise, dropped the yellow tennis ball that was in its mouth, and ran off.

"I am sorry if she hurt you," came a smoky female voice from the young woman's left. "Molly can get a little excitable."

B'Elanna lifted her dark chocolate eyes to acknowledge the speaker. She was petite. She was lithe. She was a redhead. And B'Elanna felt her breath ripped from her lungs. Dusting herself off, B'Elanna rose up, meeting the owner of the red-furred dog. She was still scowling as she came face to face with the human.

Kathryn Janeway sighed heavily. An upset Klingon was not something she wanted to deal with today. It had been a bad day from the start. First she had scalded herself with coffee because the handle of her favorite mug had decided to snap off in her hand. She had ruined her favorite silk blouse, having snagged it on a sharp corner of the counter when she stooped to clean up the coffee that stained the white carpet of her loft. The heel of her favorite shoes decided that it too would break off, causing Katie to stumble. She banged her knee and shin on the threshold of the door she was running out of because she was late for a meeting with Admiral Paris. Oh yeah, then there was that fight with Chris that was a carry over from the night before, as well as the burnt pot roast. It was a very bad day. The Admiral dressed her down because she had been late for the meeting; she was therefore late for class. She had taken the wrong notes to class and was embarrassed when she was too late to remedy the fact. Thinking to relax and let her hair down so to speak she had taken her Irish Setter, Molly, to the park, to play a little catch and now she had to deal with an irate Klingon. Bad day... bad day... bad day...

The dark-haired younger woman had her arms crossed in front of her; her ebony eyes scowling, her jaw set. It definitely was a really bad day. Well it just got worse because Molly decided to play ambassador and jumped up onto the young warrior and pawed at her. Bad day... bad day... bad day!

B'Elanna pushed the setter down, growling at it, causing the mongrel to whimper and hide behind its owner's legs.

"Oh, I am so sorry." Kathryn said holding on to the collar of the now cringing dog, trying to put a leash back onto her. "I don't know what has gotten into her."

B'Elanna took a deep inward sigh, trying to settle her nerves. Dusting herself off once more, she somehow managed to calm herself down. Besides it was almost impossible to be angered by this woman who was so obviously nervous.

"I'm not going to take its head off with a bat'leth if that's what you think. Contrary to Federation propaganda, Klingons are not barbarians."

"I never thought that," Kathryn said quickly.

B'Elanna snorted jovially, allowing the slight with the hyper dog to pass. At least it wasn't as assertive or as aggressive as a targ... "So ah you have a name, Molly's owner?"

"Kathryn Janeway." The redhead offered her hand.

"B'Elanna Torres."

"Torres?" Blue-grey eyes narrowed in puzzlement. "Torres doesn't sound Klingon."

"It isn't. My father was human."

"Oh." It seemed all the response the statement required.

Molly decided to act up again and started to strain against the leash. She nearly managed to pull Kathryn off her feet. B'Elanna lifted a dark eyebrow at the actions of the dog, and allowed a barely audible growl to escape her wine-red lips. Molly responded immediately and sat down near Kathryn's denim-clad leg.

"I'm impressed," Kathryn said. "I don't know why she is so hyper today."

"Forget about it," B'Elanna said.

"At least let me buy you some coffee."

"Coffee?" B'Elanna tilted her head, then shrugged. "Sure why not, Red."

"Red? Me or the dog." Kathryn chuckled.

Her laugh was infectious for it caused the fiery Klingon to snicker herself. "You choose."

"The dog. I never liked the nickname Red."

Both giggled slightly.

"Okay then, Kathryn it is."

It was the twenty-fourth century and Starbucks Coffee was still around. Still had the best coffee and was still one of the most expensive places to go. However, if you were having a very bad day and your dog tumbled over a bombshell of a Klingon woman, you went to Starbucks.

In front of B'Elanna was a double-dutch-mocha latté, light foam, heavy on the cinnamon and chicory. Janeway sipped a double espresso. She noted the PADD in front of the younger woman and lifted an auburn eyebrow. "May I?"

"Knock yourself out." B'Elanna shrugged.

"Theoretical Wormhole Physics: A Calculus-Based Text: Dr. Samantha Carter." Stormy blue eyes blinked. "I am impressed. Forgive me but you don't seem more than a second year student. This is heavy stuff... you don't get into Wormhole Theory until your third year."

"Second year, but I have third year status..." B'Elanna said a little dryly as if she was asked which way the Commissary was.


"Is there anything else?" Dark-wine lips curled back into a smile.

"What about Command?"

"Captains can be misguided," B'Elanna said over the rim of her mug. Her dark eyes resting upon the heart-shaped face of the woman.

"Oh, how so?"

"If they have the audacity to think the ships they command are theirs. Everyone knows those ships belong to their Chief of Engineering."

Kathryn was taken by the brilliance of the smile flashing warp speed across the caramel skin. "So you buy into the rivalry between Engineering and the captain's chair," Janeway said, her ghost-grey/blue eyes twinkling.

"Humph. I have no problem obeying the orders of a captain, just as long as she knows whose ship she commands. Mine. I have every intention of becoming a Chief."

"Of that I have no doubt B'Elanna." Kathryn smiled warmly. "What if I give you a little challenge?"

B'Elanna scoffed. "You're challenging a Klingon? You must be pretty sure of yourself Red... er... Kathryn."

"There is a course in command school that will no doubt help you in your pursuit of becoming Chief. I happen to know there's an opening. You up for it?"

B'Elanna considered the offer. She had a lot on her plate as it was, besides which she was all ready taking part in officer training in Command school. Turning her head to the side for a bit, she took in a small breath of air. "I take it that you're in it?"

A small blush found its way to the Irish woman's face. "Yeah you can say that."

B'Elanna looked to the woman, ultimately finding her both intriguing and attractive. Her small frame, her robust vigor and obvious intelligence gained the Klingon's attention. Of course she was drawn to the not quite blue but not entirely grey eyes. "What makes you think I'd want to take this course, whatever it is?"

"You want to be a Chief of Engineering... right? I guarantee that this course will help you gain that. Besides it's only a small lecture course. But you have to take the challenge before I tell you more. Unless you don't think you can handle the extra workload."

"When?" B'Elanna asked. `Okay so she stroked the Klingon pride. How much trouble can a lecture course be anyway. A few hours?'

"07:00 hours tomorrow morning, and the same course again at 17:00 hours."

"Bright and early. What is the saying? Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed?"

Kathryn snickered. "Considering how we met, I'd say that was an apt euphuism."

"You'll be at the morning one I take it?"


B'Elanna looked to older woman in front of her and smiled. Hell it might be worth it. "I am intrigued. Okay I'll do it. So what is the name of the course?"

"You'll find out once you go to the James T. Kirk Auditorium."

"Why do I get the feeling I am not going to like this course?"

"I think you can manage, B'Elanna." The redhead winked.

James T. Kirk Auditorium
06:45 hours

There were at least thirty cadets loitering outside the entrance of the auditorium. And forty more within, milling around, chatting and trying to find a chair to sit in. Near the front of the auditorium a long banquet table was positioned. Stacked upon its surface were several data PADDS - obviously this was going to be an interactive lecture.

B'Elanna found several faces to be familiar. Some were in her other courses, some were from the Velocity, Hoverball and Paresis Square, as well as the Decathlon team that B'Elanna was a part of. Others she might have seen in the commissary, or wandering around campus, but had paid very little attention to them.

A tall blonde male approached her, smiling in what he might have thought was an, "I am Gods' gift to all females" smile. "Tom Paris..." He stretched out his hand.

B'Elanna looked at the offered limb as if it was covered in Targ- shit. "I don't think so." With that she moved away from the human male with a shudder. Thinking whom on earth would find him attractive? - her thoughts ran to a face she thought very attractive. Ever since she had arrived she had scanned the room for the redhead. But she could find no sign of the captivating Kathryn Janeway.

B'Elanna was about to tap her comm. badge to contact the other woman, but stopped in mid action when she saw the small trim Janeway, wearing a Commander's uniform, appear from one of the side entrances.

Her mere entrance proved enough to bring the room to its feet. After accepting the moment of the entire auditorium being at rigid attention, she called them at ease and sat herself on the edge of a table.

"I must admit that was impressive." Her storm-blue eyes were quick, and were as calm as a midnight sky. B'Elanna smiled, knowing she had been had. "I am Commander Kathryn Janeway and welcome to Galactic Politics."

The whole room groaned as one. Janeway's grin grew wider. "I personally want to make sure you all understand why you're all in command school." She nudged a cadet near her with one foot. "You. So why are you here?"

She answered without hesitation, "Because I want to be in command of a starship one day."

Janeway didn't seem impressed of the typical answer. But outwardly she nodded and turned to the rest of the room. "You...?" She singled out another from the rear. "What about you?"

"My father made me." The voice was from that Paris twit. His comment gained the laughter of the room and Janeway scowled. A class clown, great...

"Well at least that's an honest answer."

Then Kathryn's eyes fell upon B'Elanna. "And what about you?"

"A redheaded coffee fiend had her dog tackle me, then that same redhead conned me into going, as if an engineer couldn't command."

Kathryn nodded but didn't comment on her answer. "Okay," She said standing. "You seem to be an honest bunch. That's good - I like honesty. I expect it." Half the gathering expressed mild confusion, the other half nodded. Kathryn crossed the room, gesturing as she spoke, for various cadets to relocate themselves.

"Right now we are going to perform the first of many scenarios you'll be forced to endure once you take up a position in command. Get used to the fact that the second oldest job in the cosmos is politics."

More groans ensued. B'Elanna rolled her dark mahogany eyes. "Engineering... you wouldn't have to deal with politics... at least not out of ship." Internal politics was a whole different set of rules.

"Hey, none of us are immune to Galactic Politics, not even brilliant engineers."

Everyone laughed.

"Now," Janeway continued, "when I give the word, each of you is to check your PADD to find out which planetary system you represent. Someone will be Earth, someone else will be Vulcan, someone else Klingon, or Endorian, or Cardassian, Ferangi or Romulan, etcetera etcetera." A handful of cadets stood to help her drag a table toward the center of the room. "The Klingon, Romulan and Cardassian Empires will sit here. Since the Federation and the Empires control most of the galaxy's resources, those people will get to make decisions regarding the dispositions of those resources. The rest of the Federation can help, of course, BUT..." and her eyes glinted with playful malice, "the Federation and the Empires can talk at will, to each other and to anyone else if they want to. The Federation planets can talk at will amongst themselves, and to anyone not seated at the table. HOWEVER, they can't interrupt the four main powers at the table, and they can't take any action without the consent of the leading four."

She retrieved another chair and placed it far away, against a distant corner, and a second chair against an adjacent corner. "The Vulcans," she went on, "who are frequently viewed as having the answer to most of the galaxy's problems..." This was greeted with mild amusement. "They will sit in one of the chairs. The other will be for the Acquisition Lords of the Galaxy the Ferangi." This too gained a round of chuckles. "Both can only interfere with galactic politics once every half hour, but have a wide range of possible activities. Each time another planet requires aid from Vulcan, however, their half hour starts all over again. Trading with the Ferangi will be allowable; however their hour doesn't start over, if your planet has enough gold-pressed latinum or what ever the Ferangi want."

"This sounds fairly complicated," Paris whinged. B'Elanna rolled her dark eyes. Nothing was worse then a whiner.

Janeway didn't seem impressed with the token complaint from the boy and shrugged. "Real life politics isn't like playing a game in a Holodeck, cadet," Kathryn explained. "All I'm doing is to simulate some of the restrictions and tensions existing in the real life arena. You'll find the details specific to your own situation in your PADD. I'll be here to answer questions. Just stick with me." Her smoky voice had the ability to draw trust. Or at least it did in B'Elanna.

No one said anything. Moving back toward her original seat, Janeway nodded. "Everybody check their PADD now to get your assignments, objectives, and limitations. The simulations will continue for the next two hours, or until somebody has accomplished something." She flashed them a sudden, delighted smile. "Let the games begin."

B'Elanna smiled a small smile. "I think the game began yesterday..."

Others about the room were already chuckling or moaning about their assignments by the time B'Elanna thumbed her retrieval button. The PADD screen flashed a series of code, and a column of print started its slow top-to-bottom scroll.



B'Elanna pursed her wine-colored lips pensively. Tech level three meant no subspace radio capabilities, and no warp drive (oh the horror for an engineer) - rudimentary hyper-drive at best. She hoped her objectives didn't involve any long-distance negotiations or travel. Of course there were ways to up-grade the hyper-drives...

The brakes screeched to a halt. Time enough to think of improvements; she had to find out what her objectives were.

FEDERATION MEMBERSHIP: Seti-Alpha V is not eligible, due to her current political climate.

AFFILIATIONS: Long-standing trade relations with Hadante.

Hadante - a frontier world inhabited by four species' of bail jumpers and troublemakers. B'Elanna let a slow breath out.

HISTORY: Mineral-poor, Seti-Alpha V depends heavily on Hadante for raw materials, interplanetary and interstate relations with wealthier societies, and infusion of medical and food production technology. Seti-Alpha V is approaching the end of its second industrial revolution, sweeping political recognition and economic upheavals are the results. The current parliamentary government is threatened by separatist religious factions, which believes a return to "simpler times" would be in Seti-Alpha V's best interests. Seti-Alpha V's political leaders do not agree.

RULES OF PLAY: You can only communicate with the Federation through Hadante...

B'Elanna looked up from her PADD to scan the room. A dozen other cadets craned looks left and right, as though trying to identify their allies by facial features alone. B'Elanna noted that two of the table's four inhabitants were in place. Her friend Max Burk sat at one end; she chuckled and had sympathy for whoever had to sit next to her nervous friend for the next two hours. He had a nasty habit of fidgeting.

"Who's Hadante?" She barked congenially, turning back to her own affairs.

On the floor across the room, sitting with his back against the wall, an orange, mottled skinned, pig-snouted Telorite jerked his furry pig-snouted head up in jovial surprise. Glittering yellow eyes darted left and right. "Who asks?"

B'Elanna attempted her most disarming grin and waved. She never did get along with Telorites; they looked like something had bred with a targ, only the spawn turned out to be some hideous mutation. "I am Seti- Alpha-Five." Settling back into her seat, she continued with her reading.

...you can only communicate with the Federation through Hadante; you may communicate with any non-Federation planet you choose. Since you lack subspace radio capabilities, all communications must be made via antique style radio waves. To simulate this, you may only contact other planets by written notes, passed from you to whomever you are contacting. You may not leave your seat.

OBJECTIVES: The Federation has the resources to alleviate many of Seti-Alpha V's economic and health problems. All you want is a chance to speak one-on-one, to a Federation representative.

B'Elanna nodded. Looking about, she saw a table near the main door, apparently stocked with props for their scenario: a painted sceptre, assorted colored and numbered tokens, writing implements and a great deal of paper; the mother board from some electronic device (the Hadante Telorite took this), and a wheel.

B'Elanna abandoned her seat to collect some paper and a pen, then settled in only a few chairs away from Hadante... to facilitate communications. After a single nervous glance, the furry cadet tried to seem more relaxed than apprehensive about sitting near a Klingon.

B'Elanna tucked one foot under her rump on the chair until she was comfortably settled. Licking the point of her pen with a flourish, which she decided never to do again, she composed her first communiqué':


Look, everyone is dying here; we are not having a terrible lot of fun economically, and we understand you have some pull with the Federation Council. We'd definitely wish to have a visit from a Federation representative. So help us. It will be appreciated.

Best Regards Seti-Alpha V"

She folded it into a neat little square and turned to the young woman next to her. "Would you hand this down to the planet on the end, please?"

Before she could rely, Janeway interposed herself between them and plucked the note from B'Elanna's hand.


"Foul, Seti-Alpha," she informed her, grinning. "You can't talk to a neighboring planet... you've got to write."

B'Elanna snatched the note back from her, annoyed. "You mean I have to write her a note just to ask her to pass THIS note?" That struck B'Elanna as ridiculously restrictive.

Janeway only nodded. "That's what I mean. Try again."

B'Elanna's second note was short and to the point-----

"Help!!!! I'm being held prisoner in a complex Starfleet scenario! Please pass this note to Hadante...(furry social butterfly to your right) before it's too late!!!!!"... and then the "transmission" to Hadante was quickly on its way.

Hadante gawked at the note and blinked expressive yellow eyes at the cadet to last touch it, and finally directed his yellow gaze down the length of chairs to B'Elanna. The young Klingon mockingly saluted and allowed a smile to find her lips. This was going to be a long game.

"I'll bet you've got quite a wait ahead of you."

B'Elanna craned a look over her shoulder, finding Kathryn still standing nearby, watching Hadante. "Hadante can't approach the Federation Council without at least one Federation planet to support him. That's not always easy under normal circumstances... At least Krum's social graces will work in your favor."

B'Elanna sighed and glanced back at the cadet. Krum was already kneeling near one of the outlying Federation chairs, talking, quietly but gruffly, with the inhabitant. "What am I to do in the meantime?" she asked Kathryn. "My planet's got a lot of problems!"

Janeway leaned over, placing one hand upon the younger woman's shoulder her smoky voice almost purring as she tapped B'Elanna's pad of paper. "Sketch something. You can sell the art to other planets and upgrade your economy."

B'Elanna perked up to the suggestion. "Is that allowed in this scenario?" She gave a dubious look to the commerce kings of the universe of the Ferangi, scowling when she found out it was that Paris dweeb.

Kathryn's laugh was cheerful, but not reassuring. "No. But you might be able to buy yourself and a redheaded-coffee-fiend lunch with the proceeds."

B'Elanna's dark eyes twinkled. "What about paper airplanes?" The young Klingon twisted in her seat to follow her progress as Janeway started to move away.


She flopped back into her seat with a sigh: she'd expected as much; this game was going to be very long indeed. However, lunch afterward with a redhead-coffee-fiend might be worth the wait.

Seven minutes... and ten elaborate paper airplanes later, Hadante and Rigel V made their way up to the main Council table. B'Elanna sailed her last airplane in the general vicinity of an equally bored human cadet, with blonde hair done up in a fierce bun and ice-blue eyes, playing Orion (who had been returning fire with clever, chittering paper constructions that reminded B'Elanna of kamikaze crickets), and settled in to observe Hadante pleading on her behalf. Rigel and Hadante waited another full minute before the Federation delegate finally turned to them before and demanded, "What do you want? Can't you see we're trying to agree on negotiation formats?"

The cadet nodded jovially and thrust a piece of paper at the Federation cadet's face. "A list of demands," he stipulated. "For my people."

"Who are you?" The Federation glanced at the list, then deposited it at the top of the table, between himself and the three Empires. Max plucked it up and studied it in silence.

"Hadante," Rigel V volunteered. Then, flashing the Federation a ridiculously wide and stunning smile, "I am Rigel Five... already a member in good standing with the Federation."

"Great." The Federation's enthusiasm seemed limited. "We'll consider your requests and get back to you."

"All services are sorely needed," the Hadante insisted when the Federation would have turned away. "I insist upon immediate attention!"

Max Burk uttered something brief and sibilant. "These reports are ludicrous!" he exclaimed, pitching the paper back at Krum. The rumpled sheet caught the air and fluttered erratically off to one side. "You want missile technology, computer assistance, access to our data base centers...!"

The Federation's data centers," the Federation reminded him firmly. "They aren't asking for anything from the Klingons!"

Max twisted his jaw and narrowed his eyes. "Racism again? You don't feel the Klingon Empire has anything to offer?"

B'Elanna covered her smile with a hand. `Go Max, yeah defend the Empire!' Knowing Max, he would play-act the part well considering he was somewhat dating a hybrid Klingon.

"Nothing that WE can't offer more safely!" The Federation handed Krum back his note.

"The Cardassian Empire could offer much, we would require only..."

"No one asked the Cardassians!" Both Klingon and Federation snarled.

"Go sit down. We'll get to you." Federation tried to sound both important and reassuring.

"But I ask little," Hadante insisted. When the Federation didn't answer, the cadet turned to face a cute little Trill with black hair, blue eyes and a button nose, sitting on the other side of the room. She was Vulcan. "If I cannot appeal to your less compassionate neighbors, then I appeal to you logicians, for recognition."

The four at the main table uttered simultaneous inarticulate cries while Vulcan looked to Janeway for direction. The monitor shrugged mutely.

"You idiot!" The Romulan Empire howled.

"Hey!" Janeway barked. "There'll be none of that around here! This is just a game."

The Romulan Empire wilted noticeably, weaving her hands into angry baskets in front of her. "Sorry Ma'am..."

Janeway was still frowning, giving the cadet a force ten glare as she nodded to Vulcan. "Start timing your half hour again."

"Aye Ma'am."

And that ended Hadante's first round of negotiations.

B'Elanna made sure a note was waiting for the Hadante by the time he returned to his seat.

"What happened to my requests? Fifty million more people died around here! Don't I need food more than you need missiles?"

Krum's orange lips moved through the message slowly. Once finished, he scrawled a brief reply across the bottom, crunched the paper into a ball, and threw it back at B'Elanna. B'Elanna untangled the note to read: "Sorry but I'm having my own crisis." She flicked the ball away from her, and started on her notes again.

'Hi! I'm Seti Alpha V, a small, insignificant and technologically under-developed planet in the Mutari sector. Hadante is ignoring me, and I am bored. You want to start a war?'

She folded the note into her most careful aircraft yet, and sailed it across the room into Orion's lap, with the delicate precision only a born engineer could command. Orion's automatic reply was a chittering cricket. B'Elanna quickly folded a second plane, scribbling across the wings, "READ THE FIRST AIRPLANE!" and bounced the second plane across Orion's ample breasts. Orion blinked her blue eyes twice, raised a golden eyebrow, then set about trying to locate the message plane among all the others. She found it, dismantled it, and read it. The reply arrived in B'Elanna's lap less than a minute after B'Elanna's secondary launch. She unfolded the plane and scanned the answer.

'Sorry… Orion is officially hostile toward Seti Alpha V. If I get into ANY kind of war, it'll probably be with YOU!!!! Better luck next time.' Orion

A chittering cricket bearing the proclamation: "I am a primitive (though efficient) thermonuclear device. KA__BLAM!!!" quickly followed the note. Orion returned B'Elanna's startled look with an apologetic shrug, but didn't react to the bombing. B'Elanna dismissed the blonde cadet playing Orion, and went back to folding her toys.

Carefully tearing the bottom of the page, B'Elanna eliminated Orion's negative reply. Somewhat more tattered, but still flight-worthy, the airplane looked like the only survivor of Orion's last message. She aimed it at random; hoping chance would help her find a sympathetic government of her own side of the room. The plane bounced into the lap of the only Norsican in Starfleet, four seats away. Picking it up, the massive guy asked. "What's this?"

B'Elanna rolled her dark eyes and then captured his attention with a wave. "It's an old-style wave radio transmission... I am a little out of reach with my fellow beings."

"I'm tech level two - I don't have the capabilities to receive an interplanetary transmission. Sorry."

B'Elanna plucked the craft out of the air with one hand. Frustrated she turned to the room at large and called: "Is there anybody with tech level four or better who isn't hostile to Seti-Alpha-Five and wants to start a war?"

Even as the room burst out into laughter, Janeway called, "Foul Seti-Alpha!" From the other end of the room.


"Foul!" Janeway was smiling, but didn't relent. "You have to pass notes, or you can't communicate at all."

B'Elanna fingered the nose of her aircraft unhappily, slouching into an exaggerated pout for Janeway's benefit. "Do I even have to send notes to you?"

Kathryn snorted. "You can't send notes to me."

"Why? Who are you?"

"I am God. Now hush!"

B'Elanna had delivered her war offer to the participants on her side of the room by the time Hadante gained the Federation's attention for the second time.

"We're considering!" The Federation irritably assured Krum before he could even speak.

"These are matters of great importance." Krum's tone of voice could have indicated anything from fury to pleasant neutrality.

The Federation collected Hadante's note, but didn't read it. "More missiles?" he inquired acerbically. Rigel V winced. Beyond him a line of fidgeting delegates stretched nearly into Vulcan's lap.

"Consideration of Hadante's application," Krum persisted. "We wish to be as Rigel----Federated into your ruling body."

"Starfleet doesn't rule," The Federation began, and Max Burk amended hotly, "Tell that to the Cardassians or better yet to the Romulans!"

"Hey!" The Romulan Empire leaned across the table in front of Earth to scowl at Max Burk. "The Federation DOES NOT have us henpecked!"

"I never said they did!"

So ended Hadante's second approach to the Federation council.

B'Elanna tore a sheet of paper and began methodically shredding it into a pile at her feet. According to her timepiece, she had approximately another hour and twenty-five minutes to kill before this scenario reached its less-than-climactic-climax. She resolved to make a pile as high as her seat before that time.

"You're wasting your natural resources." Janeway appeared at her shoulder, still wearing that infuriating know-it-all smile (that B'Elanna felt her stomachs flutter, when she saw it, only added more frustration to the hot-blooded Klingon). "You've got nearly eighty-five minutes yet, cadet!"

"My stock market crashed," B'Elanna replied. She tried to keep the annoyance out of her tone, but failed miserably. Shifting to face Kathryn, she hooked one foot over the chair's arm and propped her elbow atop the back. "It's pointless! I'm in a position where I can't do anything for myself, I'm paired with an anti-social Federation hopeful, who isn't a great deal of use, and those four at the main table are still trying to decide what kind of china to use at their formals!"

When her comments only seemed to amuse Janeway all the more, B'Elanna turned away from her again, grumbling, "and my instructor is a closet sadist that somebody gifted with commander's pips."

Janeway's hand took hold of her shoulder in warning. "Careful..."

B'Elanna felt her face grow red. "Excuse me."

Once Janeway was gone, she re-evaluated what she'd said to her. B'Elanna really didn't want to quit. What would her mother say after all those speeches about honor and fulfilling one's potential? B'Elanna smiled and glanced at the Federation Council on the other side of the room. Well if the mountain wouldn't come to Kah'less then Kah'less would take the mountain. And besides, trying to go through Hadante would be like standing outside the city gates trying to make the wind respect you. The wind respected nobody. Especially fools. And the daughter of Miral was no fool.

She attracted Kathryn's attention by bouncing an origami fire lizard off her shoulder. Expressing more irritation than she actually felt, the redhead stepped through the assembly to squat by the arm of her chair placing a hand upon the younger woman's thigh.

"I want to go to the Federation myself." Before Janeway could condemn or verify B'Elanna's plan, she elaborated, "I know I've only got short-wave radio capabilities, and I know they wouldn't be expecting my call. And I know it would take..." She tipped her dark eyes unconsciously ceilingward as she figured "...nearly eighteen months for the call to reach them."

Janeway grinned at her. "And you've only got eighty-five minutes to go."

"In this scenario," B'Elanna pointed out. "Can't we compact time a little?"

Still grinning, Kathryn reached behind her chair and came up with one of her many paper constructions. "You seemed to be doing pretty well with these earlier."

B'Elanna shrugged and Janeway went one: "If you can land a message in the main table, or even in the lap of a Federated planet, anyone who reads it can act for you." Just because they rely on subspace communication doesn't mean they can't hear what you send." She unfolded B'Elanna's paper airplane as she stood, dropped it into her lap. "What if they won't read it, or they ignore you?"

B'Elanna shrugged, flattened the piece of paper, "Then I'm no worse off than I am right now."

Janeway studied B'Elanna so intently it made her shift uncomfortably in her seat. "Only seventy-five minutes and eighteen months to go," she said finally, breaking her gaze. "You'd better start writing!" And with an approving smile, she moved away.

B'Elanna considered her note carefully, knowing if she was to have any hope at all of Federation intervention it would be dependent upon how effectively she could convey her plight in writing. She discarded Janeway's unfolded plane in favor of a clean sheet of paper.

Being neutral and as diplomatic in tone as she could manage she wrote:

"Dear members of the United Federation:

I send you this communiqué on behalf of the citizens of Seti-Alpha V. Although not members of the Federation, we respect and appreciate the good your kind emissaries do throughout the galaxy. We appeal to you now for your aid.

Seti Alpha V is being crushed beneath the weight of economic and social turmoil beyond our ability to control. We are mineral poor. We are neglected. We are dying. Please, all we request is the opportunity to speak with you regarding help for our people. You have knowledge of medicines and safe power courses; without your assistance we fear Seti-Alpha V will have no future at all.

The governing body of Seti Alpha V

Satisfaction displaced the frustration of only a moment ago. Abandoning the rest of her papers to a pocket, B'Elanna considered the best delivery method for her note. Paper wads were out since they were too easily mistaken for a personal affront; origami fire-lizards were more dense than airplanes and so travelled better over short distances, but they had a tendency to tumble while airborne, so didn't frequently exercise much accuracy in attaining their targets; airplanes ran the risk of overshooting and, for reasons B'Elanna failed to understand, no one thought to unfold the planes to find their message. Still, airplanes seemed the best of the three alternatives, and seventy minutes really wasn't time to get creative. She hummed to herself as she folded the plane.

The resilient vessel was hardly a work of art, but B'Elanna was confident it would traverse the distance necessary to deliver her plea to the Federation Council. She caught Janeway's eye as she inspected the lines of her aircraft and returned her conspiratorial wink with a somewhat embarrassed smile.

No wind disturbed the air in the spacious room, so B'Elanna knew nothing but satisfaction as she watched her courier float cleanly over the heads of half her classmates and dip sweetly to a landing over the Romulan Empire's right shoulder. Max Burk was the only member at the table to even notice the landing; he made a face of surprise at the paper construct then pushed it out of their work area.

B'Elanna folded another plane before Max had even rejoined the heated discussion: she should have learned from her exchange with Orion. Scrawling a repeat of her "READ THE FIRST AIRPLANE" message; she tossed the second plane toward the main table.

This time, Max Burk snatched the plane while it was still airborne and fixed B'Elanna with a mischievous smile. And set it down with the first plane. In the agony of frustration, the cadet called, "Read it!" only to be drowned out by Janeway's stern, "Foul Seti-Alpha!"

"Of course!" she grumbled, slouching low in her chair.

If this were indicative of galactic politics, B'Elanna was sufficiently convinced that she didn't want to be a councillor. She tore a sheet of paper into six rough squares, sullenly folding a fire-lizard from the first as she listened to the Klingon, Cardassian and Romulan Empires argue about voting rights. In the smallest handwriting she could manage, so as still to be legible, B'Elanna started at the nose of the fire-lizard and wrote: THIS FIRE-LIZARD WILL SELF-DESTRUCT IN 5…4…3…2…1..BOOM!!!!

Widening the tiny hole in the bottom of the fire-lizard, she inserted the tip of her pen in the bottom of the fire-lizard to launch it. She stopped herself just before the fire-lizard went on its way. Terrorism wasn't the answer... not if she really wanted to establish some rapport with the Federation planets. She removed the little fire-lizard reluctantly, and set about writing another impassioned plea.

This note she folded as a fire-lizard (sufficiently discouraged with the responses to her airplanes). She mounted it on her pen like the first, then snapped it, catapult-style, towards the main table. The fire-lizard careened over the Romulan Empire's head, into the center of the table, and over the Federation's right shoulder. The Federation delegate growled something short and foul as he stooped for the paper lizard; B'Elanna wondered if she were the only one to notice where the fire-lizard landed when the Federation tossed it Off-handedly away.

Vulcan started quite satisfactory as the fire-lizard bounced into her lap; staring at the origami avian, as though uncertain if she should touch it. "Uh, Commander Janeway?" The hesitant summons caused everyone at the table to twist around in startled dismay. "Is this a communications, Ma'am? The solitary cadet asked, holding up the little fire-lizard.

The Federation squeaked in indignation. "Where did you get that?" he demanded, frantically scanning the room proper. "Who sent that?"

B'Elanna wanted to sneer, and growl out that she had.

"Well, you threw it to me... but it came from over there." Vulcan pointed across the room toward B'Elanna: the young Trill waved. "Does this mean I should start my timing again, Ma'am?" Vulcan appealed to Janeway again.

"NO!" The Federation's insistence sounded more desperate than well-considered. Janeway stayed where she was, against one wall, her arms folded across her front. "What do you think?" she asked with a shrug.

Vulcan studied the fire-lizard very seriously. "Well it is a transmission from an outside source..."

"OH come on!" The Federation moaned.

"...so I guess it's only fair..."

"Fair?" The Federation leapt to his feet to seize the fire-lizard from Vulcan. "Fair to drive the Federation to desperation just because some jerkwater planet is throwing bugs?!"

B'Elanna straightened in her chair. "They're Qo'nos fire-lizards!"

The Federation slung the fire lizard back at her; it only flew about halfway. "They LOOK like bugs!"

"Stop acting like children." Max Burk's contralto cut through the beginning of B'Elanna's reply. "You're only complaining," he accused the Federation, "because you planned to use Vulcan as the solution to all your problems. This is what you deserve for not having the courage to act for yourself you p'taq!"

"What I don't deserve," the Federation returned acidly, "is a bunch of war-mongering idiots grubbing up every planet they come to and then claiming they own the whole system!"

B'Elanna thought she had never before seen someone's soul truly catch fire. Max Burk's face grew even darker as his eyes began to smoulder: Janeway started across the room for the head table. "Okay people, I think that's enough for now!"

"You are accusing my people of cowardly acts?" B'Elanna wasn't sure whether Max Burk was responding from a sense of off-handed nationality or if he'd gotten too involved in the role-playing.

"Take it as you will," the Federation replied.

Max Burk rocketed to his feet just as Janeway reached the table. He spit on the table in front of the Federation. "Congratulations, p'taq... you now have a war!"

Janeway physically sat herself on the table between the two, stopping the Federation's advance with a warning hand on his chest. "This is make-believe!" she reminded him, then turned to rake a meaningful force ten glare across the rest of the room. "Maybe you'll all appreciate the USEFULNESS of make-believe in the rest of your training!"

Waiting until the Federation had nodded his understanding and returned to his chair, Janeway motioned that Max should sit as well. "I wish you could all just listen to yourselves! It's like recess with a bunch of kids!" Nobody laughed.

"I have never had a less cooperative, more selfish platoon of cadets in my life!" Janeway continued through their guilty silence. "You were all chosen to be here because you're special – intelligent... because you display abilities common to good command officers!" She paced toward the middle of the gathering, turning slowly as she walked in order to rake an icy glare across them all. "Well, where did all those fine traits go?" Stopping just behind B'Elanna's chair, she leaned against the back of it. "I saw ONE of you use creativity and cooperation to solve the problems put to her. And everyone else either made fun of her or ignored her!" B'Elanna had a feeling she knew who was being singled out.

"If this had been real life," Janeway berated the rest of them, "you'd be lucky if Seti Alpha didn't bomb you all while you were busy squabbling among yourselves!" B'Elanna slipped the terrorist fire-lizard into her pocket as surreptitiously as she could manage. "In later scenarios, you won't get the chance to be so kind to one another, even if you do feel so inclined."

She looked them over with cold-hearted calculation one last time, then broke into a friendly smile and clapped her hands. The transformation was so complete, B'Elanna didn't know whether to respect her flexibility or resent her manipulations. "Okay, everybody," she cried, making herding motions toward the closest door, "time for lunch! Go put some food in your stomachs—we've got a million things to do yet today!"

B'Elanna tossed her accoutrements into the growing pile on the head table, pocketing the last of her origami fire-lizards. "I don't suppose you'd be interested in a housing deal on Seti-Alpha V?" she quipped to Max Burk.

"Maybe - the real estate seems low enough." Both laughed.

Max hadn't noticed the near force ten glare coming from the commander as he slipped an arm over B'Elanna's shoulder. "What do you say we snatch some banana pancakes, BLT?"

"Can't." B'Elanna slipped out of the young man's grasp. She was still uncertain if she was dating the human or not; her thoughts about a certain redheaded-coffee-fiend flared in her mind. There was a lot to consider: Max was there; Katie... it was almost impossible given the nature of their ranks. Would Janeway cross the line of rank to negotiate the terms of a relationship that was less than professional and far more intimate than mentor/student friendship allowed? "I have a previous engagement." She didn't add, 'I think.'

Max Burk smiled warmly; he never took B'Elanna's refusal as disdain for his company but simply an inability to be with him at the moment of his request. It was what made him a great friend.

"Kay. So how about a rain-check? Say before we head to the field for practice?"

B'Elanna focused on Kathryn and found herself nodding to Burk's request without truly realizing what it was he had asked.

B'Elanna barely noticed the passage of the next week. Class followed class followed drill followed meals. Sleep, must have occurred somewhere between the busy days, but B'Elanna honestly had no memories to account for all the nights. What happened on Tuesday was as distant or as near as what commenced on Friday - B'Elanna took to dating her class notes and her private reminders, just to keep the past in perspective.

She recognized Monday when it arrived only because it was the very first day on which she had any inkling what would happen next: her class schedule was the same as that first Monday, and she had kept a meticulous record. Somehow the warp-driven pace seemed a little less grilling, the instructors and courses just a little less confusing with that time schedule as an anchor for reality. B'Elanna achieved the end of the day in better humor than she had one week before.

Today was Botanical Science, Survival Skills in PT, under 'Old Sneezy' - Commander Zakarian, who had numerous allergies. Interstellar History which was the one subject B'Elanna was almost failing. She hated the damn class nearly as much as she hated Galactic Politics. Astrotheory and Theoretical Wormhole Physics were her best courses, next to her warp core engineering labs. Of course, later tonight she had Decathlon practice. Not that she didn't train every morning before classes, and more often than not she would go for a long endurance run in the evening, just to cool down the fire of her Klingon blood. Throwing a shot-put or javelin at a target she pretended to be one of her infuriating classmates was a wonderful way to dispel the explosive power contained in the small body. For tonight's training she was seriously going to need to imagine her target as Paris, lest she hurl a true javelin at the p'taq.

B'Elanna took in a breath of free air while it lasted for the next four hours she had to herself. Of course she was deep into schematics of the new Intrepid class starships, daydreaming of the day she would be chief, hopefully of one of these little vessels.

She was about to take a sip of her double-mocha latté when she heard a familiar barking. Molly came loping up and bounced nearly into B'Elanna's lap. "Hey Red." She patted the dog behind its fluffy ears but looked up to see the storm-blue eyes of Janeway.

"So what, it takes Molly to get you to talk to me outside of classes?" B'Elanna flashed a toothy grin.

Janeway shrugged. "Chance happening I assure you."

"Right," B'Elanna smiled as she gestured for a chair near her. "Coffee?"

"How did you know?" The redhead took a seat, not across from B'Elanna but right next to her; the only thing putting any real distance between them was a crimson-furred quadruped.

"Good guess," the young Klingon jibbed. "Oh, by the way, dirty pool girl, getting me into your class like that!" B'Elanna tried to look intimidating but the mirth showing in her dark chocolate eyes, betrayed her. "Is that how you got the others in there?"

"Nope. Only the ones I am interested in."

"How many is that?"

"Only one."


"A half Klingon ensign with a unique way to solve problems," Kathryn smiled, almost shyly.

"You heard about the incident in Astrotheory, I take it."

Janeway nodded, "You and Maxwell Burk got into it with Thomas Paris and the cadets who played the Federation, and Romulan heads in Galactic politics. B'Elanna it's your third disciplinary hearing: one more and it's not going to be good. You were already put on suspension last year for that stunt in piloting." The b;ue/grey eyes weren't shadowed in disappointment but riddled with concern.

B'Elanna growled, causing Molly to look up from where she was resting her head by her mistress's feet. "I know." Her hands clutched into fists, her anger rising. "I just don't think Starfleet is for me, Kat. Maybe my mother was right, I'd fit better in with the Defensive Force." The more she spoke of it the more her frustration rose.

"B'Elanna, maybe, but you have the potential to be an outstanding officer. You're nineteen; you've got universes out there ready to explore; don't shut down your warp-drive before you get a chance to fly. Every one of your professors knows what a wonderful student you are."

"I highly doubt Binns thinks so. He's failing me in Interstellar History."

"You could pass it if you applied yourself a bit more to its course."

"It's dull, boring and it serves little purpose in engineering," B'Elanna retorted folding her arms over her chest. "It doesn't help that Binns is so monotone and dry; he makes you want to fall asleep."

"Trust me I know, he was teaching it when I was here as well. I hated the class myself, but I have to say I did enjoy the subject matter"

B'Elanna snorted at Janeway's confession. "He spends too much time on that action-figure Federation poster-boy, Kirk."

"He was never a favorite on Qo'nos, I take it."

"Our history paints him differently," B'Elanna admitted.

"You know, B'Elanna; I can help tutor you in history..."

"Isn't that a conflict of interest?" B'Elanna lifted her eyebrow. "It's okay, Burk is helping me."

The mention of the young man's name stirred something in Kathryn she immediately recognized as jealousy. The dragon that had hatched in her lecture series after watching the cadet fawn over the woman she desired was growing into a full-fledged monster. If she wasn't careful, Janeway knew she would off-handedly retaliate on the boy. "Isn't he the one that calls you BLT? After the sandwich?"

"My initials," the young Klingon corrected. "Plus I happen to like bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwiches. Not every Klingon likes gak. Just don't let anyone else in the Empire know you don't like it or they think you're not right in the head."

Kathryn smirked playfully, "your secret is safe with me... BLT." Her hand slipped easily over the darker flesh of B'Elanna's, her thumb tracing a line back and forth over the caramel skin. There were secrets and then there were secrets. "I happen to enjoy a good BLT..."

Fortunately the coffee house was vacant enough for the two to have a corner to themselves. Kathryn leaned in, her lips pressing upon B'Elanna's own. Satin on silk: passion and power. The kiss, however brief, had become an inferno of want and desire. They were no longer Commander Janeway and Cadet Torres.

"You're mine." Janeway proclaimed, leaving a startled and very aroused Klingon in her wake.


B'Elanna's excellence didn't only restrict itself to the class room; she was also a champion athlete. Some might say it was due to her Klingon heritage; granted, the eight-chambered heart and three lungs did have much to do with her endurance levels. But she still out-matched the Norsican and several full-blooded Klingons, who had underestimated the 'mongrel-child's' capabilities.

Torres became the captain of the Decathlon team. B'Elanna had always championed in the ten events she entered in and they had made her into an excellent athlete, if not a finely-toned warrior. Javelin, 110 meter-hurdles, high jump, long jump, pole-vaulting, discus, shot put, 100 meter sprint and, of course, the 400 and 1500 meter races gave the young woman speed and power. She became fast and strong. The predominant requirements of the decathlete are mobility, skill, speed and explosive strength. B'Elanna lacked none of them.

It was out here on the track that B'Elanna could allow herself to go, to feel the full burn of fire in her Klingon blood. Not only did Torres allow for the fuel of her Klingon nature but she revelled in it. During the competition heats, B'Elanna punished her body for the lack of control her mind held over her wilful heart, when confronted with others that irritated her to the point of turning on them as a rabid targ.

Coach Trajok, a male Ktarian, differed from the female EtanaJol (the only other Ktarian B'Elanna had ever met) in appearance. Of course EtanaJol was half Miradorn, giving her a distinctive forehead which was divided into two hemispheres that appeared to be enlarged frontal skull bones. Trajok, on the other hand, had cranial spikes running down the division of his forehead as well as running from his temples to the crown of his head, and faint almost shark-like scales dusting his pale flesh. Both sexes had glittering yellow eyes, which gave them a very feral if not latent feline appearance.

The fact that her coach was as non-human looking as B'Elanna, caused her to be more at ease when interaction with the more human-looking cadets started to grate on her last nerve.

Trajok was not only the Decathlon coach but a champion Galeo-Manada style wrestler and it gave him a refined if not thickly muscled body, again appealing to the warrior in B'Elanna. He knew excellence when he saw it and he pushed his star athlete until she almost begged for respite. But of course Torres would never relent, instead she would go to extreme measures to prove herself worthy of the title Decathlon Champion.

Being on the Decathlon team, playing Paresis Squares and Championship Hoverball, even her rock climbing was something that quelled the fire of her heritage without all the overstated Klingon martial arts everyone assumed she knew. Of course they also assumed she was the academy's next Paresis Squares M'Kota R'Cho.

Everyone knew M'Kota R'Cho was a notorious athlete, the first and only Klingon to play professionally. In the controversial 2342 championship finals, one of the referees called a penalty against his team. R'Cho strangled him. B'Elanna had no desire to go pro, but she didn't mind being favourably compared to the champion.

Besides, she couldn't lose her championship title to the wiry Greskrendtregk. He was on both the decathlon team and the champion wrestler of the academy; he loved to provoke B'Elanna, if only to see her humiliate the other competitors from the other academies in the galaxy by her phenomenal athletic performance. He was training to go to the Intergalactic Olympics and was, as was Coach Trajok, trying to goad B'Elanna into going.

She was seriously thinking about it just to spite the Klingon influence of her mother's enforced doctrine. Even Miral of the House Presiba would have to see her child with something akin to pride for taking the Gold in the Intergalactic Olympics.

Kathryn sat on the edge of the bleachers watching the young woman who had captivated her months ago. The woman was pure power. A goddess, Artemis herself would have great competition from the woman dominating the field with huge strides belying the small frame. There seemed no limit to the woman's stamina. For a moment, Kathryn allowed herself the fantasy of what other activities such stamina could be tested on.

The atmosphere surrounding the Klingon hybrid vibrated with tension. Even as the other prime champion athletes struggled to keep pace, B'Elanna felt her glory. A warm sensation, like concentrated fire, prickled the skin of her bare legs, and she couldn't help it, she looked up, feeling the power of her strength fill her. The heat spread down, moving over her with aggressive ferocity. The vibrations rippled her body; each time she touched down on the earth it only seemed to lift her up again. Lungs filled with the raw adrenaline of her triumph. Feral and dominating, B'Elanna wouldn't allow another near her, they would dare close in and, with a sudden burst of speed, the Klingon sprinted just those few inches... now feet away from her competitors.

B'Elanna's caramel coloured arms gleamed in her sweat. Running was ecstasy, a release of pleasure near enough to sexual climax; B'Elanna would not stop. Heart pulsing hard behind her ribs, each sharp breath was joy.

1500 meters of track behind her, B'Elanna took the ribbon and continued to run past the judges' podium. Victory was unquestionably hers. Looking at the stands, B'Elanna's gaze fell onto something... someone else that was unquestionably hers. Or soon would be. The feral power that fuelled her body now fuelled her lust. She wanted to be sated. Blood exploded in her ears as she allowed the heat to build within her. If the redheaded commander wasn't careful B'Elanna would claim her here and now, despite the cheering audience.

Her team mates and Coach Trajok clapped her on the back proclaiming their proud accolades for her triumph. The last event of the second day of the decathlon meet, and the championship was hers. Another win for Starfleet Academy made for a very proud Trajok.

Janeway pushed herself through the throng of admirers surrounding the younger woman until she reached her final destination. Her eyes glinted with anything but the professionalism her smile masked. "MajQa - well done Cadet Torres... Qalpa!"

B'Elanna's eyes dilated in hearing her mother's tongue spoken with Janeway's smoky sensual-guttural purr of a voice. If not for the legion of fans Torres didn't trust herself in not pouncing on the woman and claiming her. As always when she ran, B'Elanna became more than libidinous, she was downright randy.

Edging closer, Janeway was able to fain being pushed into B'Elanna by a fellow congratulator so she might whisper into the smaller woman's ear. "I want to take you out. Celebrate." She made sure to drop her voice an octave, knowing it would send ripples of pleasure down the already primed female.

"I'm not in the mood for food," B'Elanna hissed.

"I don't think I mentioned food, B'Elanna."

It was then Kathryn knew what a Klingon growl of needing want could do to her own libido.

"You're mine," B'Elanna managed to growl before her team mates whisked her away to claim her trophy. Had they bothered to ask she would have told them she'd already won her redheaded trophy and wanted to claim her for herself.

Tonight she would.

She would take Kathryn's scent so her blood would sing of the memory of it.

No coffee house this time, no Molly to feign a chance meeting, this time it was calculated, planned and strategized.

Whisky and Bloodwine replaced the typical beverage of choice. BLTs had been replaced by succulent ribs, despite Torres' earlier claim she didn't want feeding. Her body needed refuelling after two days of demanding competition, if she were to do any sort of athletic activities, however pleasurable, tonight with any amount of passionate dedication.

Even the time out to eat and celebrate had not quenched the randy fire in her blood. B'Elanna took her claim Klingon style.

B'Elanna had pinned the older woman against the door of the loft's ensuite, her hands holding firmly against Kathryn's waist, reaching hurriedly to shed the commander of her jacket.

"We can get into ser—serious trouble..." B'Elanna stuttered as she frantically kissed a line down Kathryn's neck to her throat, feeling the hardy pulse of her heartbeat against her ruby lips.

"We already crossed that line... with our first kiss..." Kathryn fumbled, trying to shed B'Elanna's own leather coat as the Klingon continued her assault upon welcoming lips.

"A moment..." Kathryn mumbled into B'Elanna's mouth. Reluctantly Torres parted letting her newly claimed lover relieve her of her jacket; once it fell to the floor with a muffled thud B'Elanna pounced once more, taking Kathryn's mouth, slipping her tongue into the wet cavern. Kathryn's delicate long-fingered hand reached out for B'Elanna's jacket, pulling her one step then another and another into the bedroom. The redhead waved her hand behind her, catching the wooden barricade, and slammed the door shut behind her. She had always enjoyed the more traditional wooden doors to the mnemonic silences of modern technology.

B'Elanna managed to have enough coherent thought to negotiate the buttons of Kathryn's shirt, to peel the cloth off her. She pulled the young commander down, finding and devouring her lips in a passionate all-consuming kiss. The warm, wet cavern of Kathryn's mouth tasted slightly of whiskey. When they separated, Kathryn moaned low in her throat. Whether the moan was from want or distress at the lack of contact, B'Elanna didn't know.

Her deft fingers moved for the clasp in Kathryn's slacks, wanting to see her new lover in all her glory. She knelt almost reverently as she helped the commander out of her shoes and hose. She then rose up, allowing for Kathryn to lift the hem of her black T-shirt up over her head, which promptly went flying across the room with very little care. Next came the sports bra which, in the morning, would be found somewhere near the window. Kathryn's fingertips traced circles around the burgundy circles of B'Elanna's areola, blazing a trail over the smooth expanse between B'Elanna's breasts and collar, lifting up to kiss the faint scars she had discovered - in the back of her mind she wondered how this young beauty had come to be so marred. Her hands continued upward, searching out her new lover's face. Enjoying each fine line, each curve, and each angle, memorizing all.

Kathryn leaned down and kissed her way once more from the Klingon's shoulder to the sensitive spot near her pulse point at her throat and shoulder blade.

Talented hands unbuttoned the fly of leather jeans, even as Kathryn nudged B'Elanna backwards towards the mattress. Kathryn continued her lock upon the pulse point, having discovered that it was an erogenous point for her muscular brunette lover. Kathryn desperately maintained her hold, effectively pinning B'Elanna on the bottom and gently rocking herself on the younger woman's thigh. B'Elanna swallowed, instinctively bending her knee bringing them a far more intimate touch. Kathryn opened her mouth allowing a heated breath to escape, white heat flooding her body as she swayed on the redhead's captive leg.

B'Elanna moaned, rolling her head to one side, arching into the kiss, allowing for Kathryn to devour her. Her hands weaved through the other woman's red hair, wanting, needing Kathryn close. The small temptress migrated to B'Elanna's satin lips, falling into an all-consuming kiss, both of them collapsing against the thickness of the mattress.

Slowly, reluctantly, Kathryn broke the kiss to remove boots and jeans from her lover; she wanted to be able to touch every part of her new lover. She would intentionally move slowly, kissing her way back up the sculpted torso of the brunette Amazon. Loving the six-packed abs, well-defined muscles of pure caramel marble wonder.

"So beautiful," Kathryn uttered in a smoky breath, now pressing her face against the brunette's warm stomach, her hands tracing circles on her lover's very toned thigh. She pulled back, gazing at the triangle of downy ebony hair between the Klingon's muscular legs. She ran her fingers through the short hairs, feeling the moisture that had accumulated there. She looked up, locking eyes with B'Elanna before sliding her hand between her legs. Kathryn placed one hand on B'Elanna's hip, steadying the younger woman against the bed before working the tip of her index finger slowly, teasingly against her lover's moist folds. B'Elanna moaned, her hands instantly moving to hold the back of Kathryn's head. The commander turned her hand slightly, pressing lightly against the supple caramel flesh of her lover's mound, teasing a very delicate line against the swollen rosebud.

B'Elanna let a gasp of hot air pass between her parted lips, her heart hammering as Kathryn continued to explore. Her breathing was ragged and sharp, causing her breasts to rise and fall with each hardy breath. She smiled as she found a small mole that rested in the valley between B'Elanna's legs and lowered her head to softly kiss it. She teased the hypersensitive flesh; she slipped her wet fingers across B'Elanna's slit, moving from back to front until she found the hard rosebud of the brunette's clit. Kathryn moved with extreme exquisite care, gently parting the woman's other folds before continuing onward, wanting it to last. Enjoying the succulent torment she was putting her lover through. Kathryn bent her head down and extended her tongue, finding and massaging B'Elanna's clit with her tongue in small circles, suckling intently upon the flowing juices. B'Elanna was panting heavily now, her hands firmly planted on Kathryn's shoulders, mindless that her nails had grained against her warm flesh.

"Ka--kat..." B'Elanna growled. "Kathryn, I'm - I'm going to... to... ohh Kah'less!"

The redhead's searching hand was suddenly wet, her fingers slick and her palm glistening in the dim light sneaking into the room from the shaded window. B'Elanna, flooded with her orgasm, couldn't tolerate more stimulation and pushed Kathryn from her, moving up slightly, her body glinting in sweat, her breathing heavy and hard. She pulled her lover onto her sweaty body, wanting to hold her new love close.

B'Elanna pulled Kathryn in for a desperate kiss; her tongue surged into the smaller woman's mouth, meeting no resistance as she endeavoured to taste herself on the woman's mouth. She gladly accepted the salty-sweetness of her own juices. She raised one bare leg, hooking it around Kathryn's hip and rolling them along the bed until Kathryn was the one pinned. Neither woman wanted to break the kiss, but eventually their lips came apart in a reluctant bid for oxygen.

B'Elanna stroked Kathryn's face, moving her long fingers over the alabaster skin. Now it was her turn to memorize each line, each angle, and each curve, savoring all of it. Her ebony hair matted around her face, her stunning dark brown orbs locked intently into the blue-gray eyes of her lover. "You are so incredibly gorgeous, Kathryn," she uttered in a smoky heady voice, moving her lips to trace Kathryn's eloquent jaw line. She looked up at Kathryn with such love in her near black eyes she never knew she was capable of. The commander rose up, facing B'Elanna before she leaned forward and began to devour her lover with hungry kisses.

B'Elanna knew that Kathryn was already close to her own orgasm, having been overly stimulated by her own release. B'Elanna slowly placed soft light butterfly kisses all along the sensitive lips of Kathryn's center. Slowly teasing her by running her tongue up and down, but not quite reaching in to taste her lover. She slid first one finger, then two into her lover's depths, brought deep moans and sighs... then, as she began to plunge her fingers in and pull them out... twisting and turning all the while, Kathryn began to quake... B'Elanna, sensing that Kathryn was so very close, captured her lover's clit in her mouth and began to run her tongue in wild patterns over the sensitive rosebud, teasing, tasting, nipping and sucking... as her fingers continued to stroke in and out.... and in seconds, she sent her lover over the edge into pure white lighting-filled rapture.

"Oh god... B'Elanna... my beloved..." Her breath reduced to short hiccupping gasps. Her nails tracking red lines down B'Elanna's back, mindless that she had drawn blood. B'Elanna gripped the older woman's hips, holding her tight as the redhead neared orgasm, intensifying her administrations. B'Elanna rose up, moving quickly up Kathryn's torso, capturing one erect pink nipple in her mouth and suckling on it like a hungry infant, keeping her hand pressed tightly against Kathryn's heated core. Kathryn threw her head back and began moaning loudly. B'Elanna released the commander's breast, her lips savagely taking Kathryn's mouth with a near-brutal kiss, arching into Kathryn's passion throes of near release.

"That's it baby, let it go... let it flow... cum for me." B'Elanna smiled wickedly

"B'Elanna...please..." Kathryn moaned and tried to press herself into her lover's touches. "Please...my love."

A smile lit B'Elanna's face as she heard Kathryn begin to plead with her. B'Elanna soon had Kathryn dancing for her... again as she felt the orgasm work its way through the small commander's beautiful body... and as she felt Kathryn floating back to her, B'Elanna pulled her into her arms and held her tightly.

"Oh gods B'Elanna... my love... my god." Her hot breath rose goosebumps upon B'Elanna's flesh. They lay like that for several more minutes before complete exhaustion overtook them, sending them into a blissful slumber in each other's arms, amid a tangle of sheets and blankets, with Kathryn using B'Elanna's breast as a pillow, her sleep lulled by the beating of the Klingon's heart. B'Elanna was silent, enjoying the scent of their passion; her nostrils flared as her blood sang with the new memory of her lover.

The Honeymoon was over; it ended in a divorce of cadet and academy.

"B'Elanna, think about this... Don't be hasty."

"I don't belong here, Kat. I can't stay."

"B'Elanna, it was a discipline hearing. Granted your fourth..."

"Yes, doesn't that say something to you? I'm not Starfleet material, I disagree with a lot of the regulations and I don't hold to the directives of the Federation like you do." B'Elanna slipped the terrorist fire-lizard out of her pocket as surreptitiously as she could manage then tossed it in to her lover's lap.

"What's this?" Janeway held the paper construction up before her face.

"Seti Alpha Five."

"Are you referring to the planet?"

"Recall seven months ago, Intergalactic Politics? I was Seti Alpha Five."

Janeway's lips curled into a smile. "As I recall you had some pretty creative ideas on how to solve your problems."

"Yeah well... that was one of them I didn't use. Terrarium, at the time, didn't seem to be the answer. Though afterwards I almost wish I had used it against those tika-cat p'tahks"

Janeway carefully studied the origami fire-lizard and discovered at the nose of the fire-lizard tiny words were written: THIS FIRE-LIZARD WILL SELF-DESTRUCT IN 5…4…3…2…1... BOOM!!!!

"By the time of class ended, I was sufficiently convinced that I didn't want to be a councillor, if what happened in that hall was indicative of intergalactic politics. I sat there listening to the Klingon, Cardassian and Romulan Empires argue about voting rights. There we were simulating true problems and like I said my planet was in a position where I couldn't do anything for myself, I'm paired with an antisocial Federation hopeful who wasn't a great deal of use, and those four at the main table were still trying to decided what kind of china to use at their formals. It was pointless. And in real life it's just as pointless now." B'Elanna gave a scathing dark laugh. "This time it isn't a simulation, there are hordes of planets out there just like the one you made me play out."

B'Elanna, now on her feet, paced the confines of her lover's living room, looking very much the feral lioness. Her words were clipped growls of frustration.

"Frontier worlds inhabited by a few troublemakers and the Federation won't help them! Other planets are just as mineral-poor as Seti-Alpha Five was and they depend heavily on neighbouring planets for raw materials, interplanetary and interstate relations with wealthier societies, and infusion of medical and food production technology. Industrial revolutions, sweeping political recognition and economic upheavals are the result in these places, and the shiny Federation won't assist because it doesn't like the political factions, or it goes against that fracking Prime Directive.

"The Federation has the resources to alleviate many of these troubled planets, their economic and social problems. Take a look at Bajor! The Federation will do nothing for them! How many emissaries throughout the galaxy have been sent only to turn them away, ignore them for squabbling amongst other more prominent planets? How many appeals for aid have gone unanswered? How many 'Seti Alpha-Fives' out there have been crushed beneath their weight of economic and social turmoil, beyond their ability to control? How many mineral poor and neglected planets are there? How many of the dying has asked for help but because they don't have the proper Federation representatives are ignored just like I was in your fracking scenario?"

Kathryn swallowed hard, those questions had cropped up in her mind as well and for once the teacher in her couldn't answer.

"You said it yourself, Kat: '"If this had been real life they would have been lucky if Seti Alpha didn't bomb them all while they were busy squabbling among themselves!" I wonder just who is laying in wait to bomb the Federation or, frack, even the Empires because they will do nothing. I'm not going to do that. You wanted to spur us into being aware of politics... well I am. And I'm going to do something about it. I have to try!"

"B'Elanna, whatever you're thinking, don't do it! Please." Kathryn's impassioned plea took B'Elanna's reserves of willpower not to yield. "I will, I know for a fact Professor Jackman had stated in your records that you are the most promising student he has ever had he'll support you, he'll even help you get ready for re-admission..."

"I love you Kat, but not enough to throw my honor to the wind and do nothing while the cry of innocents go unheard. People are dying, Kathryn. They're dying because the council is acting just like in your scenario." B'Elanna touched the head of her paper lizard. "In the end, so am I."

Intermission Two

B'Elanna was nineteen years old when she left the academy. Despite the fact her teachers believed completely that she could become a resourceful and outstanding officer, despite the fact her coach had every confidence in her that she would take the Gold in the Intergalactic Olympics and lead the Academy to championship once more in Paresis Squares. B'Elanna had turned her back on it all.

The need to do something more, something honourable, rose like a lovers passion in her. In the years to come Captain Chakotay recruited B'Elanna into the Maquis, after he saved her life. If she had once thought she fit into the Academy life, it was in the Maquis that the fiery woman truly found her place.

She did more than just fit in. The Maquis was as close a family as B'Elanna ever had. Most of her friends served with her on Chakotay's ship, already estranged from her mother, her father was Kah'less knew where, leaving no one back home who was going to care one way or another if she was alive. Even Kathryn Janeway had gone on with her life. The woman was now a science officer aboard a starship. Sources said she was even dating a human male named Mark.

B'Elanna had gone on too. She had had a few lovers that had taken her passion but never her heart. Seska one of the Bajorans was B'Elanna's best-friend and lover. They had survived Cardassian internment camps; freed political prisoners, from both the Cardassians and Starfleet, and had gone on a dozen raids. Even now B'Elanna had a few warrants out on her for sedition, terrorism, theft and sabotage, as well was the murder of a few Gols on the Cardassian / Bajoran frontier.

Starfleet wanted her just as much as they wanted Captain Chakotay. The Cardassian Empire wanted her dead.

Atara, Roberto, Li-paz , Meyer, Nelson, Sveta and Seska had become her friends and trusted allies. They had been through much together. The first time B'Elanna commanded an away mission, she led her people into a cave that she thought was a Cardassian military installation. It turned out she'd mistaken unstable mineral deposits for weapons signatures. There was a rock slide and they were stuck there for the next three days. They had to dig themselves out with their bare hands.

It took time for the young Klingon to stop doubting herself enough to take on the command of another away mission. It was not her captain but her lover that challenged her to confront her fears. Torres was already an exemplar of a genius engineer. Her command of Engineering was unquestionable as was her skills. It was proven when B'Elanna had changed the parameters of the Cardassian missile Dreadnought.

The Cardassians had designed and built a missile in order to destroy a Maquis stronghold. It was to B'Elanna's findings to be ultra-sophisticated, it had artificial intelligence and destructive capabilities designed to cut through any obstacle en route to its target, but it was equipped with an old-fashioned warhead that failed to detonate.

Torres and Seska led the group that captured it and B'Elanna then reprogrammed it with tactical subroutines instructing Dreadnought to prepare for responses to potential Cardassian threats. The possibility of her capture and coercion was number seven. Seska thought that was ingenious but grew frustrated when her lover would not elaborate on further subroutines. B'Elanna claimed the Cell-idea was best in case one of them was indeed captured; only one knew about the alterations to the deadly missile. Torres had made further adjustments and sent Dreadnought to destroy a Cardassian fuel depot instead. But the missile went missing in the Badlands. That had been on Stardate 47582.

It would be years later that B'Elanna would discover that same missile in the Delta Quadrant, as well as an old back-up Cardassian file in the computers database that would become activated, creating a split-personality in the computers CPU.

So ended her second away mission. Her third was just as memorable.

B'Elanna looked at the roster one last time: two Bajorans, Li-paz, and Seska another Klingon female Atara, the humans Roberto, Meyer, Nelson and the last two were Vulcans Tuvok, and Sveta a Romulan-Vulcan hybrid. They had made a good team in the past, reliable and compatible. B'Elanna had relied on that cohesiveness, once more she knew she could again.

Chakotay had information that would greatly benefit the Maquis struggle. They had a small window of opportunity to raid the weapons cache before the USS Al-Batani arrived to deploy Federation justice on the Maquis. Three teams would be deployed; one Chakotay was leading, the other by the Bolian, Chell, and B'Elanna taking up the third regiment.

It would be a three strike formation that generated a great deal of success in the past. One would work as distraction, which fell to Chell and his team. B'Elanna would lead the assault on the bunker itself while Chakotay and his squad would slip in and relieve the base of its armaments.

B'Elanna materialized in the middle of a ruined complex that at one time might have been a market center. Now it was a skeleton of a sheet metal, iron gutters and cement constructs. The world was a site of pure devastation. What had once been a lost colony was now a post apocalyptic ruin, nothing of the colony had remained intact during their mêlée with the Cardassians. The superstructures littering the hostile surface of the planet, like so many termite mounds, now only had a haunted appearance of a grave yard.

The vast majority of the population had been euthanized in Death Camps; others had been able to flee, thanks in part to the Maquis efforts to liberate them. Those that had remained had become feral and disappeared into the wilds. Better the dangers of the woods than try avoiding radioactive zones or finding the way through endless miles of identical corridors that held greater dangers.

In the few tall buildings that had survived, the slaughter had been transformed into the living quarters of Cardassian troops and the Gols that ran the Death Camps and slaving operations. The Federation had been made aware of the conditions but there was little it could do at the moment, that would not endanger the trade talks between the Cardassian Empire and the Federation. The Federation wasn't going to lose the big picture for the little details. Only the Federation didn't have to listen to the screams of those little details. The rights of a former Cardassian space station directly over Bajor was on the table and Starfleet would not jeopardize the front with such a lucrative possession as the stable wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant just to liberate a few straggling criminals.

However, once they had news that the Maquis were going to gain a foothold on the abandoned colony and its possible cache of weaponry, Starfleet had ordered a ship to investigate and possibly arrest if not neutralize the Maquis pirates.

So much for the little details.

B'Elanna held her disruptor pistol in one hand, a mek'leth in the other, standard procedure in the Maquis was to be proficient in two weapons, one metal the other a firearm. One never knew when you needed a blade. As to her choice of blade, B'Elanna liked the smaller blade as opposed to the overstated bat'lath, the weight was comfortable in her grip and she was indeed very deadly with it.

Of course she carried a d'k tahg that had once belonged to her mother, so naturally she never used it, but it was always there should she have need of it.

Seeing no movement of the opposition, B'Elanna returned the mek'leth to its sheath and took out her tricoder from her belt. She would not be fooled a second time by false energy readings and relied on a seconded concurrence from her units 2IC before proceeding to the storage facility. Seska nodded, "I read them two, four clicks to the north-west."

"Why didn't we just beam in," voiced Li-paz. Of course he uttered his discontent, he always did. He hated hiking.

"It's too near a radiation pocket; it's contained but not if we beam in. The spatial eddies interfere with plasma technology," B'Elanna explained to the male.

"Just follow orders Li-paz," Seska grumbled. "You're getting too soft; the walk will do you good."

"I happen to be in very fit con---"

"Quiet!" Sveta hissed.

Even as Sveta spoke, B'Elanna smelled it too. Unfamiliar scents were approaching. The only thing B'Elanna knew for sure was that whoever it was was clinically clean. Too clean for any stragglers; it could only mean Federation troops had landed.

B'Elanna readied her disrupter. Next to her, Seska unholstered her own phaser, a Cardassian design, one that the other woman had liberated from a dead Gol. Atara held her prized disruptor, a relic from a hundred years ago, poised and ready.

Nine uniformed humans stumbled out of the rubble of a building pursuing the sounds of blasts coming from the southern superstructure. Chell's distraction was working. The whole southern complex glowed brilliant neon red-orange---the city was burning.

"Hostile active in the South-Quarter," one of the female Starfleet officers's barked into her comm. badge. "Dig in; we'll have them pinned down!"

Starfleet boots tromped as they started for Chell's location.

B'Elanna moved her unit in, closing in around the flank of the Federation soldiers. If the operation was to go as planned B'Elanna would have to take out the opposition, guerrilla style. Li-paz, Roberto, Meyer and Nelson took one side of the street, moving to box their enemy in.

Sveta and Tuvok flanked to the left, leaving B'Elanna, Atara, and Seska to the right. The Maquis now had Starfleet in a cross fire. It was Seska who fired the first shot, hitting a blonde female in between the shoulder blades. She didn't even whimper as she toppled bonelessly, face first into the concrete. B'Elanna took out the second and third uniformed figures; Sveta aimed and took out a fourth. Atara's fire neutralized a further three.

The remaining Starfleet officers dove in opposite directions, desperately groping for cover from their snipers.

"Under fire. Repeat, we are under fire! Request beam out!" a familiar smoky female voice cried out above the din of phaser fire.

Li-paz shrieked as a blast of phase fire slammed into his chest, flinging him back against a girder. He was alive, but for how long? Roberto who was closest started first aid, relying on Meyer and Nelson to lay down cover fire. Disruptor and phaser muzzles swung, shoulder-fired torps locked on and proton grenade launchers angled to precisely calibrated elevations.

Cement and iron exploded over the Starfleet officers taking cover. Two more dead.

Atara took careful aim, her target the female leader; unlike the Bajoran, the young Klingon would take her kill while facing her. The redhead was amazingly resilient. She had survived the grenade launch, even from here Atara could smell the metallic sting of blood. She was never able to pull the trigger.

Another explosion rocked the superstructure. This wasn't one of Chell's. Though it was entirely possible they were not unrelated. As one small spark sets a forest afire so too does one explosion set off a series of others. All across the derelict city small explosions rocked the foundation.

Metal began to shriek and stretch. The complex shifted under its own weight, the iron beams that supported it gave way, and the whole massive structure broke loose, sending both units skidding - scrabbling desperately for handholds down tilting durasteel slopes that were rapidly becoming cliffs, they hung from scraps of cable as the superstructure listed into an abyss of debris hundreds of feet below.

B'Elanna kicked off from the toppling superstructure, swinging though a wide arch over the artificial canyon. Janeway shoved off and met her there, holding the cable with one hand and phaser in the other which was clearly broken. Recognizing her former lover for who she was, Janeway hesitated.

Unable to stand much longer Kathryn fell hard, her leg badly damaged from the grenade and the fall from the surface of the superstructure. If she didn't get medical attention she would die along with the rest of her comrades.

"She's Starfleet, B'Elanna destroy her!" Seska screamed over the Klingon's shoulder.

B'Elanna couldn't lift her eyes from the fallen bleeding woman at her feet. Janeway was defeated, the tendons in her left leg mutilated, her right hand Broken, she was defeated. B'Elanna shuddered not with rage or contempt but with the fire of seeing the woman she once loved battered and beaten from the fall.

"No. I will not commit murder."

"Then I will..." Seska raised her phaser, the muzzle pointed to the center of Janeway's forehead. Both women missed the pointed look Kathryn gave to the Vulcan or the slight tilt of his head.

"B'Elanna is correct," Tuvok placed his hand on Seska's clutched fist. "Let her carry the message back to Starfleet, the Maquis have won this day and will go on fighting."

"Fools both of you; she will bring them down on us... your sentiments will endanger us Torres. Just because you fucked her doesn't mean she has any more feelings for you than she does for Tuvok here. She'll see you arrested and imprisoned after some mock trial. Kill her," Seska hissed at the insolence of her team mates.

B'Elanna felt the dragon within uncoil its bounds, Seska was so intent on finding Janeway's shatter point she had not counted on finding B'Elanna's. Before she could follow through on her threat, a sudden arc of leather blinded her sight and her head snapped back and fell to the ground in a sickening crunch.

"Take her back to the ship," the Klingon ordered swiftly. Tuvok bent down on one knee and, fireman style, hoisted the fallen Maquis up; he had not anticipated the young woman to turn on their fellow Maquis to save the life of Janeway. "We shoot her now, we become those we fight. I won't lose my honor in killing her. She has no power right now."

"But she will have." Tuvok responded through a small grunt as he resifted the unconscious Bajoran, "Chakotay might have questions, and Seska won't let this rest."

"I know." B'Elanna didn't turn her gaze from the bloodied Kathryn, "but we need someone alive to deliver the message. She'll do. Atara, take those that can and help Chakotay, Sveta help with our wounded."

The others moved off to obey their leader's orders leaving Tuvok and an unconscious Seska alone with B'Elanna and their captive.

Tuvok nodded, "I'll support your stance Torres," he said before turning and leaving for the rendezvous point where Sveta and Li-paz waited.

"B'Elanna..." Kathryn finally trusted her voice to speak to her once lover and student.

"Nothing you can say will change anything," B'Elanna cut off the other woman's words. "We're enemies for the different beliefs. You serve Starfleet; you will only ever be Starfleet."

B'Elanna removed the comm. badge from her former lover's chest, saying little as she fished around the many pockets of her vest before withdrawing a small set of sonic tools. Janeway noted what the younger woman was doing - communications had been jammed but there were ways around that if you were keen enough to pay attention in survival class.

"Are you only Maquis then?"

"Yes." B'Elanna continued to fidget with the device in her hands, making the adjustments before closing the back over the badge and returning it to Kathryn's chest.

"I modified the signal of your badge to send out a homing beacon and a distress call in sub-space. You still can't communicate but you'll not waste away here."

"Your friends didn't seem too keen on your actions; are you sure you fit in with them?"

B'Elanna snorted. "Sometimes families fight, but we stand united in our cause."

"What cause is that B'Elanna?"

"Justice, freedom, the right to live without oppression, things your Federation turns its back on if the people in need aren't a part of the collection of flag waving hypocrites." B'Elanna fished around in her vest pockets and threw a few ration bars down at Janeway's side, as well a canteen of water she had buckled to her utility belt. From another pocket she withdrew an epi-pen, "Something for the pain," she said before using it on Janeway's neck. "Your people should be along shortly."

Kathryn sadly nodded, reaching into her own pocket - an action that caused B'Elanna to draw her phaser before she relaxed in seeing a small bronze origami fire lizard.

"Seti Alpha Five," Kathryn said as if it explained everything. "You said this was one of the reasons you quit the academy. Why you're now a Maquis." Delicately the older woman deposited the trinket into B'Elanna's waiting hand.

"You had it bronzed?" She was a little shocked. "Why?"

"To serve as a reminder not to be as passive an observer as my colleagues; to stand up for what is right, even if it means doing something a little rash."

B'Elanna continued to stare at the once paper origami fire lizard. It still bore the etched words: THIS FIRE-LIZARD WILL SELF-DESTRUCT IN 5…4…3…2…1.. BOOM!!!! The Klingon smirked before handing it back to its owner.

"No you keep it." The redhead shook her head.

Brown eyes studied the construction suspiciously, "How do I know it really won't self-destruct?"

"Scan it then. You'll find it's just a bronzed origami fire lizard." Janeway answered dismissively.

B'Elanna's smirk turned into a smile before she placed the object into one of the pockets. "If you really want to do the right thing, join us." Torres knew her words would be dismissed as soon as she said them. So why had she?

"I can't."

"I won't stop."

"Neither will I."

B'Elanna rose up, a puff of air of astonishing sadness escaping her lungs. "Next time we meet it will be at the opposite sides of a phaser."

"I know." Janeway didn't look up.

"I won't hesitate the next time. You are my enemy, Kathryn Janeway."

"And you're Maquis, which makes you mine."

"Yeah," B'Elanna muttered sullenly. Taking the bronzed fire lizard out of her pocket once more she looked at it and recalled the day she had made it, and why. To her it served as a reminder that sometimes you had to resort to terrorism to get results for the better good, because the proper channels wasted time and the lives of the innocent.

B'Elanna had finally found a place to fit in. She was Maquis. She had a bronzed origami fire lizard to prove it.

Intermission Three

What was happening in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants was why the Maquis fought in the first place. It was their reason for existence. The Quadrant Wars had always been, in and of themselves, from their very inception, the revenge of the Founders.

They were irresistible bait. They took place in remote locations, on planets that belonged primarily, to "someone else." They were fought by Jem-hedar: expendable proxies. And they were constructed as a win-win situation.

The Quadrant wars were a perfect Federation trap. Only the rest of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants fell for it too, and the Maquis had become trapped in the middle of it all. By fighting at all, the Maquis had lost.

With the Maquis order overextended, spread thin across the galaxy, it took with it whatever willing rebels it could surround itself with; made alliances where perhaps none before was ever dreamt of being a possibility. Such was the case now.

Two crews: one Maquis, one Starfleet, both trapped in the Delta Quadrant, both struggling to eke out a life so they could reach home. Only for some there was never a home to go to.

The incident with the Caretaker had shaken Janeway's command: she had no choice but to collaborate with the enemy; this meant fully integrating the crews. A former Maquis captain became a wooden first officer. Tuvok had shed his cloak as spy and took his rightful place as security chief and tactical officer. And a hot-tempered half-Klingon officer was given the rank of lieutenant and made Chief Engineer.

Chakotay recommended B'Elanna for Chief Engineer, despite B'Elanna and Janeway's doubts on the matter. Janeway made it very clear she prefered the more senior and less temperamental Joe Carey. But B'Elanna proved her abilities – she, not Carey, had been able to free them of the Type Four Quantum singularity.

It had been four years since that day back on Sirius Four; five since the day B'Elanna had left Kathryn's bed. Older and wiser now, the captain knew she was in serious trouble. Her heart still flared to brilliant life when the young Klingon was near her. The primal urge she had indulged back at the academy demanded to be set free. But as a captain she couldn't afford personal relationship between herself and the crew.

Especially not with a far younger woman---
Especially not with a Maquis outlaw---
Especially not with a woman who broke her heart---

B'Elanna Torres was a crew member now and that meant upholding regulations - regulations that prevented Kathryn from answering the call of her desire; she could forgive the three reasons she had listed, but going against regulations was something Janeway wasn't prepared to commit to.

Standing in her ready-room, Janeway sunk into the bliss that was rich black Coffee - her only indulgence. For a moment she allowed the past to seep into her as she sipped the scalding dark liquid.

"I was right." A soft voice slipped in from the darkness. "The next time we met it was at the opposites ends of a phaser."

"It was," Kathryn answered, generously ignoring the dozen regulations her former lover was breaking by entering her private office without being summoned. Or that she was able to circumvent the privacy locks to do so.

"You wanted Carey for the job."

"He is more senior."

"That is a cop-out."

"You have the job, what difference does it make?" Kathryn turned then, facing her intruder. Putting the mug down on the coffee table near the settee she drew in a heavy breath, "and you've proven yourself capable of the position. I know you can handle it. Do you know it?"

"I'm up for the challenge," B'Elanna answered. She laughed heartily before gently tossing a bronzed fire lizard for Kathryn to catch. "You did it after all. You made me into a command officer, ready to play at intergalactic politics as well as intership politics."

"Seti Alpha - you did indeed come up with inventive ways to solve your dilemmas, just as you did with that quantum singularity. Despite Carey's rants and objections, you proved to be the superior engineer."

"Don't underestimate the power of an origami fire lizard," B'Elanna smirked. She moved panther-like to sit next to the woman she once took as a lover. "Are you going to call out foul?"

"Depends," Kathryn spoke, her voice growing smokier and deeper by the moment.

"On what?"

"Whether or not you tempt me into crossing the line of captain and crew member."

"I'm not Starfleet," B'Elanna argued.

"You're my Chief Engineer." She played a smirk, "and two can play games."

B'Elanna tilted her head slightly, before it hit her just what it was Kathryn was going on about. "You pimped Cary for the job knowing Chakotay had me in mind, you wanted me but if you'd said anything it would be quite out of character for the strict Starfleet captain."

"Indeed. Carey would not be able to handle it, not out here. I need someone who can think outside the box, someone who can move quick, think on her feet and solve problems on the fly, someone who is accustomed to putting bit parts together, even using bone knives and bearskins to keep a ship up and running. I need a Maquis for the task. I'd have no doubts about Joe Carey's capabilities – if we were still in the Alpha Quadrant – but, out here, I need you."

"All you have to do is ask," B'Elanna answered softly, her mouth centimeters from Kathryn's own. "Ask----"

"B'Elanna-----" It was a breath.

"Funny how we always seem to kiss over coffee..." B'Elanna whispered back, a smile forming on her mouth.

Kathryn felt satin soft lips take hers. It was how she remembered; the taste, the feel, exactly how she remembered them to be. Soft and fire, power and passion. Hers.

On the glass table near the sofa, a bronzed origami fire lizard bore the faint message: THIS FIRE-LIZARD WILL SELF-DESTRUCT IN 5…4…3…2…1..BOOM!!!!

Only it wasn't the fire lizard that exploded but the passion of reunited lovers from the opposite ends of a phaser and beliefs. Generations later, that same fire lizard would sit on the mantel of great grandchildren of great grandchildren, the full story of its meaning passing into an epic legend of star-crossed love.

The End

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