DISCLAIMER: You all know it, the characters and background story don't belong to me but to Paramount, unfortunately. No copyright infringement is intended, no profit will be made. This is an alt story, in other words there's a consensual sexual relationship between two adult women that at one points get pretty hands-on.
SPOILERS: Follows the show up to season five "The Dark Frontier".
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To romansilence[at]yahoo.de

The Brig
By romansilence


Chapter Five

Kathryn took a deep breath and went to her quarters. She dreaded going to sleep, dreaded the dreams, the memories that would undoubtedly haunt her dreams, but she needed the rest. Two hours was all she got before the images woke her up. She was covered in sweat, her breathing was ragged, and she was shivering. So, Kathryn went into the bathroom to shower. Her eyes fell on the half moon-shaped scar at her left hip, the only physical reminder of that part of her past. She touched its rough surface. Her sister had once asked her why she insisted on keeping this particular scar while she had had all the others removed. And she remembered her answer, "To prove to myself that I survived."

Yes, I survived. He tried his best to break me but I survived. And this night I didn't see him, I saw the time after he and his guards had fled the planet, after the disdained prisoners had overwhelmed their jailers. If only Starfleet would have gotten to us faster, then more of us would have survived.

She stepped under the water and gradually increased the temperature until it was as hot as she could stand it. Kathryn remembered the cries of the dying, the cries of pain. She still could hear them, after more than eighteen years she still could hear them. She shut her eyes and tried to replace the sounds of her memory by the sound of water hitting her skin and running down the drain. On her family's farm in Indiana the hot water would have long run out and her mother would have scolded her for wasting resources. The thought brought a smile on her face and she quickly switched to cold water. The difference in temperature made her gasp but it also made her feel alive. She stayed under the cold spray until even her goosebumps had goosebumps.

Seven's extremely thorough preliminary report arrived at midmorning. The M-class planet Janeway had had in mind for shore leave had turned out to be too seismically unstable; it only barely qualified as an M-class planet. It was, however, rich in minerals, especially deuterium and dilithium. That alone would be worth the detour of almost ten light years. The larger of the two moons orbiting that planet, however, seemed to be exactly what her crew would need. Eighty percent of it was water. There was only one continent, a tropical climate, beaches, sun, and as far as Seven could tell from the distance no sentient life forms and no serious predators. Voyager's sensors and Seven's uncanny ability to draw correct conclusion from minute details would soon tell them more. It seemed to be perfect and Janeway ordered Tom to change course.

Shortly before lunch Tuvok sent a short note telling her that he was not the first person to try and access the hidden and scrambled logs.

During lunch she read Ensign Wildman's ideas on how to make the growing banks in the hydroponics bay more secure. The first part of her report described additional security measures which were easy to implement and would keep an accident like the one that had injured her from happening. The second part contained a more ambitious plan and earned her an invitation to the captain's Ready Room.

Janeway was standing at the replicator when Samantha entered. She was still on crutches but she moved with an ease that hinted to long practice. "Take a seat over there, Ensign. I was just about to get myself some coffee. Can I offer you something to drink?"

"Raspberry tea would be nice, Captain."

Janeway returned with two steaming mugs and took a seat on her couch. "I read your proposal, Ensign. It's very detailed and very enterprising. You must have put many hours into that proposal."

"Sometimes work in the bio-sciences is a bit slow, Captain, so we started to play. At first our ideas were pretty outlandish; it was just a way to pass the time, but between Neelix' cooking and the times we had been reduced to emergency rations we modified the plans and came up with something that really could be done. I know it's ambitious…" Samantha said.

"Bio-sciences never were my forte but as far as I've understood this park you're planning will produce more energy than it needs and it would by far surpass the yield of the growing banks. That's a definite plus, but to actually build it would take a lot of energy we can't spare and keep the ship going at peek efficiency," Janeway said.

"I knew it was a long shot, Captain. We knew that it was a long shot and that it would probably end up with all the other proposals you keep in your desk drawer," Samantha said.

Janeway studied Ensign Wildman's face. Her voice had been neutral but there was an undercurrent of disappointment.

"How long would it take you to draw up a detailed implementation plan, complete with resources, energy requirements and a time table?" Janeway asked.

"If I can put the whole department to work, you can have it by the end of Alpha shift, Captain. May I ask why?"

"See it as an exercise for now. I want your schedule tomorrow at the end of Alpha shift, by then we will be in close range to a planet with considerable mineral deposits and a moon suitable for shore leave, pending the report of an away team, of course. With a bit of luck that planet will give us all we'll need, and in my opinion we're entitled for some luck. For now that's privileged information. No need to get our hopes up should it not work out," Janeway answered.

She was surprised at herself that she had offered that much information to a junior officer. Ever since she had returned from maternity leave Ensign Wildman had been the de facto leader of the department of bio sciences, and next to Harry Kim she was at the top of the comparatively long list of promotions she intended to file the next time they made contact with Starfleet Command. The one time contact they had had via the Hirogen array, there just had been enough time to send over her current records and to receive a few mostly garbled messages…

Kathryn, now definitively is not the time to think about that damned 'Dear Jane…' letter Marc sent you. You have far better things to do.

"I understand, Captain. If I may ask, how probable is shore leave? I'm looking forward to have Naomi experience some fresh air and real trees. It's what prompted the idea of a park in the first place, to be honest."

"Regardless if it'll work out or not, Samantha, the proposal is good work. Dismissed. Oh, would you ask Naomi if she could help me with a project, a bit of holo-programming?"

"Of course, Captain. You know, she's really sorry for what she said to you the other day," Samantha answered.

"She has no need to be. She was right; what I did to B'Elanna was not right, but that's also restricted knowledge," Janeway said.

Samantha nodded and left the Ready Room. Her mind was buzzing. From what the captain just said there was a real chance to get their park-idea realised. And then she admitted to having made an error. That was not like the captain to which they all had gotten used. It was not like their larger than life commanding officer. B'Elanna might have been right, after all.

As soon as Ensign Wildman was gone Captain Janeway ordered Seven of Nine to perform a long range scan of the surrounding sectors to make sure that they would not run into some kind of territorial dispute or anything else of the sort. They were in a rather quiet sector of space at the moment, but it never hurt to make sure.

Kathryn's next night was not less disturbed than the ones before. She got about three hours of sleep and woke up from a nightmare. The difference to the nights before was that this time it really was an irrational, only half remembered nightmare and not the nightmarish images of her past. Since her paperwork was done to the last crossed 't'; she tried to read, but the lines kept melting into each other. So, she took a shower, dressed and went to her Ready Room.

Two cups of coffee later she opened the desk drawer Ensign Wildman had mentioned and upended it on her desk. She was surprised by the number of padds. Had there really been that many?

Kathryn started to sort them by topic, and when she was finished she had the inklings of a much bigger plan, a plan that not only would allow communication with the Alpha Quadrant on a regular basis but would also increase the power of their warp drive, of the shields, the deflectors. Yes, it would take some time to construct a dry dock and gather all of the raw material needed, but it not only was feasible; it was worth the risk. – At least if Seven's long range scan would not come up with any anomalies or potential danger zones.

The away-team the captain had sent down when they reached the moon two days later reported that Seven's preliminary readings had not only been correct but right to the point. There even was a landing site perfect for Voyager. For now, however, Janeway ordered the ship to stay in orbit. She wanted a more thorough analysis of the planet and its natural resources, and at this distance Voyager's sensors were more accurate than those of the Delta Flyer even at close range.

For once everything worked out as she had hoped; the planet was perfect for mining. It would not completely be without danger but most of the minerals they needed they simply could beam up. The away team also confirmed Seven's initial report on the moon. So, Captain Janeway ordered fourteen days of shore leave for the whole crew and put the ship in condition blue.

Three days into the stay on the moon her crew had named 'TS', for temporary sanctuary, B'Elanna was discharged from sickbay, and with only a bit of prompting from Janeway the doctor decreed that it would be best for her health to spend that time on the planet.

The next day she found Seven and B'Elanna sitting on a blanket on the beach of a secluded cove. A security guard was standing close enough to keep an eye on them but still out of hearing range. B'Elanna tried to get up and stand at attention when she saw her captain, but Janeway stopped her with the simple command, "As you were. I'm not here as your captain."

"I need to thank you for something you did while you were with the Maquis, but in order for you to understand I need to tell you a story," Janeway said.

"I'll go back to the ship and check on the progress of the repairs," Seven replied.

"You don't have to go, Seven. I don't mind you hearing what I have to say. Make yourself comfortable. I have to go way back to make you understand. I guess you both know how my father died, right?"

"You told me that it was a shuttle accident on Tau Ceti Prime," B'Elanna answered.

"That is not correct. The official Starfleet logs list it as an accident but in truth the shuttle craft Terra Nova was sabotaged by Section 31."

"Impossible, Admiral Paris told me that the Cardassians were responsible," Kathryn said.

"Admiral Paris might not have known better, Captain. Section 31 is very secretive," Seven said.

"Section 31? What's that? And why would anyone want to kill the captain's father?" B'Elanna asked.

"Section 31 is a clandestine organisation that exists almost since the inauguration of Starfleet. They see it as their duty to protect the Federation at all cost, even if that means to go against the principles of the Federation itself. At the time of the Cardassian war Section 31 was of the opinion that the war would be bad for the Federation and opted for a solution at the negotiation table. Admiral Janeway was convinced that from a strategic point of view in the long run it would be a bad idea to take anything but a position of strength towards the Cardassians and their demands."

"Wait a minute, Seven. Do you really want to tell me that my father was killed by someone associated with Starfleet? That's absurd," Janeway burst out.

"You are in error, Captain. If you want to I can give you a comprehensive history of Section 31 and all the times they interfered and manipulated things to achieve their goals, and all the times their interference had turned out to having been the wrong decision for the safety and future of the Federation," Seven answered.

"The wrong decision! Killing their own people! You can bet that was the wrong decision. If I had known that nothing could have kept me from resigning," Kathryn fumed.

"Resigning from Starfleet? You? That's inconceivable! Without you we all would have been dead many times over," B'Elanna said.

"You probably would have been pulled in by the Caretaker array even with someone else in the command chair, and that someone might not have destroyed the array and would have stranded you at the other side of the galaxy," Kathryn answered.

"Your thinking is faulty, Captain," Seven said in her usual calm voice that used to drive B'Elanna into a blind rage. Today she was glad that her lover intended to quench their captain's self recriminations with a dose of Borg logic.

Before Janeway had a chance to reply Seven continued, "What you say is pure conjecture, Captain. Following the same logic I could say that had things not happened as they did, the Delta Quadrant and possibly the rest of the galaxy would have been destroyed by Species 8472. I would be dead or still a drone. B'Elanna and the other former Maquis on board would have been killed by the Cardassians and the Dominion…."

Kathryn stopped her with an impatient gesture, "You're right, Seven, what-ifs will get us nowhere. Let's rather get back to the topic at hand. I want a padd with all the information you can find in the Borg's collective memory on Section 31. It's not urgent but I want it done before we leave this moon."

She closed her eyes for a moment as if to centre herself and began to talk, "After Justin and my father had died I became almost catatonic. I returned from Tau Ceti Prime on medical leave. I went straight to bed and didn't leave it for weeks. I felt sorry for myself, but more than that I felt guilty. I blamed myself for their deaths on more than one level. I had been instrumental in the design of the drive we were testing that day on the Terra Nova. After the crash it took me too long to repair the transporter to beam them out in time. I couldn't decide which one of them to safe. My father would never have been in the shuttle with us had he not wanted to spend time with me.

"After about three weeks my leave was up and I received orders to report to Admiral Paris' staff as his technical advisor. I sent my resignation instead. The next morning Owen Paris flew out to Indiana and literally dragged me out of bed. We had a huge argument during which he told me to get my head out of my ass and make my father proud. I retorted that I had killed my father and my fiancé and that I would not risk killing anyone else. He looked at me with wide eyes and told me that the crash had not been an accident at all and that my drive worked as I had envisioned. He told me that it had been sabotage, committed by Cardassian agents.

"My guilt changed into anger and I accepted the position and spent most of my time analysing Cardassian technology. The months passed and one day, on the way to a conference, the ship we were on was attacked by a Cardassian Galor class ship. The Al Batani had a relatively inexperienced crew and the captain was intimidated by the presence of not only one but three admirals on board. Either way, we were seriously outgunned and were boarded after only a few minutes. We surrendered.

"The Cardassians brought us to a planetoid just on their side of the border, a mining operation combined with a prison. They separated the officers from the rest of the crew and put us in prison to be interrogated."

Kathryn fell silent. She fought with herself if she should go into any detail. Both young women knew what Cardassians did to their prisoners, but there was a part of her that wanted to tell them. For the first time since it had happened she really wanted to speak about it.

"The Cardassians started with the admirals and worked their way down the ranks. I was only a lieutenant at the time; so, for the first couple of days all I heard were the cries of pain of my companions. When they finally came for me I was relieved that the waiting was over but I was also afraid of what was to come. The first thing they did was to strip me naked to make me feel exposed and vulnerable. I expected that they would use some high-tech implements but their commander had a fondness for more traditional instruments of torture.

"They shackled me in the middle of a bare room with arms and legs spread. They flogged me and I tried not to cry out in pain…"

As Kathryn told of her torture at the hands of the Cardassians her voice became distant and the more details she gave them the more the words she chose were clinical and technical. Her usually piercing blue-grey eyes became unfocused and B'Elanna as well as Seven wanted nothing more than to take her pain away but instead they let her talk.

Kathryn told them that they had not asked a single question and that she later had learned that the base commander used her and two other young women as leverage to get the admirals to cooperate. Admiral Enderes had broken down and told them what he knew, which had not been much, but it also had not stopped Ensign Hendrix' suffering. Admiral Pulaski on the other hand had somehow managed to convince the commanding officer that as a doctor she was not privy to any pertinent military information and they had led Nurse Toleyn off the hook.

"Admiral Paris refused to talk and I refused to beg. My refusal must have angered him so much that he stopped asking questions and instead concentrated on trying to break me. He called it training."

Kathryn spoke of sleep deprivation, time locked up in an icy cell, drugs in the water and food that left her afraid and pliable, but not pliable enough to give in. To B'Elanna the picture she painted was eerily familiar and though her captain never mentioned a name she knew of whom she was talking. She closed her eyes to ward off her own memories.

"One day," Kathryn continued, "the door to my cell opened and Admiral Pulaski came in. Her legs were hobbled and she wore manacles, but she also had a med kit. She told me that she had treated my injuries a couple of times already but that I had been unconscious then. She also told me that they had a plan to get out of there but that they would need my help.

"The next time he had me brought in his command centre to have me raped and beaten the other prisoners and our people at the mines created a distraction by attacking the guards. Gul Canak stormed out with his personal guard in tow. He told the young soldier he left behind with me that it wouldn't take long to deal with the Federation rabble.

"I was surprised how easy it was to get him to remove my restraints. It was even easier to kill him with his own disruptor. I locked to door to the command centre and used the phasers installed to subdue the prisoners to take out the Cardassians. Most of them died. Canak and some of his guard unfortunately escaped in a shuttle and managed to destroy the only other shuttle and the deflector dish. So, we were stuck on the planetoid with no way of knowing if the distress call I had sent out only moments earlier even had gotten through.

"It was only a question of time before Canak or some other Cardassians would return with reinforcements. For once we were lucky and were rescued only hours before the Cardassians returned, thanks to a young captain who defied his orders not to cross into Cardassian territory. Under usual circumstances that might have been the end of his career but the fact that he rescued three admirals and a couple hundred civilians saved him. He's now commanding the flagship," Kathryn fell silent but she did not look at the two young women.

"I'm glad that I killed him," B'Elanna said as if she had not heard the last part.

"I'm also glad that you did. That's what I wanted to thank you for," Kathryn looked up and saw B'Elanna's tear stained face. "Oh god, B'Elanna, I'm sorry. I didn't think what my words would to for you, what memories they would bring back. I'm sorry!"

"There's no need, Kathryn, Captain," B'Elanna smiled at her. "I'm glad that you honoured me with your story. On Qo'nos they probably would write at least a ballad about it, if not even an opera."

"Thank you, B'Elanna," Kathryn said. "but if anyone deserves an opera for their actions it is you."

"Your actions made you the youngest recipient of the Christopher-Pike-Medal of Valour, Captain. You should be proud of your achievements," Seven said, drawing from the knowledge of assimilated Starfleet officers.

"I only did what I had to do to survive, Seven. Everyone who participated in the uprising would have deserved a medal but only about a third actually did get one," Kathryn answered.

"Admiral Pulaski proposed you for the medal not only because of your actions during the uprising but also for the way you helped to organise the survival of all the injured," Seven said. "You deserved it."

"So, that's why you know so much about healing," B'Elanna said. Seeing Janeway's questioning look she added, "It's all the doctor has been talking about since I regained consciousness. Listening to him you're the best thing since his mobile emitter."

Once again Kathryn Janeway had a choice to either let it go and stay the unflappable captain, though with what she had already told them that image was already out of the window. So, she opted for honesty.

"Those weeks don't count among my favourite memories. I still have nightmares about that time. Their medical bay was far too small to deal with all our injured and only equipped to deal with Cardassian physiology. There was not enough medicine or food or blankets, not enough beds, no bandages and during the uprising a lot of us had been seriously injured. The third day the boneknitters stopped working and the two functional replicators were password protected and when we finally got them to work they still didn't produce enough for all of us.

"To me it was worse than being tortured; then I only had to deal with my own pain. I hated Canak more for the pain I saw after he was gone than I did for what he had done to me. I can't thank you enough for what you did, B'Elanna, for killing him once and for all. I just wish that I would have told you sooner but until recently I was convinced that Chakotay had killed him. I'm sorry," Kathryn said.

"You had no way of knowing, Captain, and I don't want to talk about Chakotay. He's dead and he should stay dead. There's only one thing I'd really like to know, but you don't have to tell me if you don't want to."


"Did you tell him what you just told us?"

"No, B'Elanna. I didn't like the expression in his eyes when he told me. I didn't want to give him the chance to see me as someone else but his captain," Kathryn answered.

"Then why did you tell us, Captain?" Seven asked.

"Because you deserve to know the truth. I owe you, B'Elanna, not only for killing Canak but also because of the way I had you treated those last months."

"You were only enforcing Starfleet protocol, Captain."

"Be that as it may. I'll leave you now, enjoy the sun. I still have work to do."

Kathryn knew that her hasty retreat was anything but graceful but she didn't want to get into a discussion with B'Elanna now.

The next few days Kathryn still had trouble sleeping through the night and spent the sleepless hours working on her plans for a complete overhaul of the ship once everyone had had their shore leave. She estimated that they would be planet-bound for about eight to nine months, and that also meant that they needed a defence and an early warning system. Some of the changes she wanted to make would leave Voyager as defenceless as a beached whale for weeks at a time.

Janeway remembered the plans for a modified probe Seven had sent over some time ago. A couple of them put in a high orbit and linked to the Astrometrics lab would give them ample warning about anything approaching the moon. It would help, but it was not enough to keep her ship really safe. What they really needed was an orbital defence grid, plasma cannons ready to gun down anything coming too close for comfort. Unfortunately, even with the resources from the neighbouring planet an endeavour like that was beyond their abilities.

But there was something they could do. Ensign Wildman's team, though officially still on shore leave, had come up with a plan to tap the moon's geothermal energy. They wanted to use that energy to boost their park plans, but the energy could just as well be used to power a planetary defence system, some plasma guns and perhaps even a protective shield.

It was already the middle of Alpha shift when she finalised her plans to keep her ship and crew safe. She was about to go to the mess hall to get something to eat when Tuvok asked her to come to his Ready Room. It was the first time she entered the room since he had taken over as her second-in-command. She never had felt comfortable there while it had belonged to Chakotay. His ostensible show of his Indian spirituality had always seemed exaggerated in her eyes, even at the time she had briefly tried to contact her own spirit guide. So, now she was secretly relieved to see that Chakotay's wall tapestries and dream catchers and terracotta statuettes had been replaced by a simple Vulcan meditation lamp and a single, simple, yet elegant orchid.

Janeway took a seat in front of his desk and accepted the mug of Vulcan herbal tea he offered, but not without raising her eyebrow at his choice, a gesture he didn't dignify with a response.

"I was able to break the encryption code, Captain. Do you want a report or do you want to see for yourself?" He asked.

"You know the answer to that, old friend."

More than three hours later Captain Janeway tapped her comm. badge, "Janeway to all personnel. There will be a complete staff meeting tomorrow at 0800, participation is mandatory. The emergency stations will participate via life feed, the rest of us will meet in the mess hall. This is official ship's business, so I expect all of you to be in full uniform. Janeway out."

Captain Janeway and Commander Tuvok spent the rest of the day and half of the night in closed consultation planning the staff meeting, among other things.

Back in her quarters Kathryn had the first sleep undisturbed by nightmares and dark memories since the explosions.


Chapter Six

When the first crew members entered the mess hall the next morning the room had once again been turned into a court room. The speculations had run rampant ever since the captain's announcement and seeing the mess hall like this had their emotions ranging from dread to anticipation.

At exactly 0800 Commander Tuvok stepped through the double doors. He was wearing his dress uniform. Three paces behind him was B'Elanna dressed in her prisoner's jump suit, flanked by two burly security officers who topped her by almost a head. Tuvok stood behind the central desk and Crewman Torres was led to a single chair in the middle of the room.

The assembled crew took their seats as far as available while the rest leaned against the walls and the bulk heads, leaving a narrow corridor between the doors and the captain's desk. Captain Janeway, however, chose the more dramatic way of beaming in directly from her quarters. She too was in full dress uniform. B'Elanna and Harry were the first ones to jump to attention when she materialised and the rest of the crew followed suite.

"At ease," Captain Janeway ordered. "As the highest ranking Starfleet officer in the Quadrant I have ordered this staff meeting to reopen the court-martial proceedings against former Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres, daughter of Miral of the House of Presba, chief engineer on board of the USS Voyager."

B'Elanna once again snapped to attention and tried to keep her expression as non-committal as possible.

"Lieutenant Torres was found guilty of one count of murder and two counts of involuntary homicide. The basis for this verdict had been Lieutenant Torres' confession solely. Recently new evidence has been brought to my attention, evidence that makes it necessary to add additional charges. Mister Tuvok, would you do the honours, please?"

B'Elanna stood ramrod straight but Kathryn had seen a minuscule flinch at her words. The other crewmembers showed much less restraint. They looked at each other, murmured among themselves but none of them spoke out loud about what must have sounded to them like a gross injustice in the making, another one.

"The recent series of explosions, as you all know, was due to sabotage, committed by former Commander Chakotay. In the course of my investigation I came upon encrypted security footage. What you will see now has all been taken from those files and compiled into a series of short videos. In the interest of justice and due procedure you will refrain from any and all comments during the viewing as well as afterwards."

A view screen behind Captain Janeway's head flickered to life and the whole crew saw a female crewman of the lower desks wearing the yellow uniform of engineering and security chase after B'Elanna in one of the corridors and tell her about a meeting of the former Maquis' members in Cargo Bay 2 Chakotay had called. She also told the Chief Engineer that he didn't want her to know about it.

Next the view screen showed the interior of Cargo Bay Two, easily recognisable by the green glow of the Borg alcoves. Chakotay was standing on the two steps high dais and looked down on an assembly of about twenty crewmembers, all of them former Maquis. He made eye contact with every single one of them before starting to speak.

"You all know me. You trusted me with your life when we were still with the Maquis and fighting the Cardassians and Starfleet's tin soldiers. You know that I am loyal to those who are loyal to me. To survive those last five years we did our best to work with the Federation and their unreasonable rules. And what did it get us? Nothing but blood, tears and bitterness. We are alive while our brothers and sisters were slaughtered at the other side of the galaxy. We owe it to them to survive. Captain Janeway promised to bring us back, instead her actions threatened our lives every step of the way for five very long years. Starfleet ideals made us miss chance after chance to find a faster way and chance after chance to settle on a nice comfy planet. I'm telling you all this has to stop."

Chakotay let his words sink in and his confidence visibly grew at the sounds of approval he heard from all around.

"In space energy equals life and at this moment, right behind me the Borg suck up our life force. Janeway has endangered this ship more than once for the sake of her pet Borg, the scorpion that will never be truly human, no matter how hard she pretends to try. She showed her true colours by returning to the Borg of her own accord.

"But instead of using the unexpected gift her defection has brought us, instead of using the transwarp coil to get as far away from here as possible, Janeway used it for a suicide mission leading her deep in the heart of Borg space. We could be back in the Alpha Quadrant by now, but she turned our means of escape into a fool's venture, a suicide mission. Janeway told us that her actions were in tune with Starfleet regulations, that a captain never leaves one of their own behind. But what good does it do to save one person and sacrifice one hundred and thirty-one others in the process. Janeway does not care about her ship or her crew. She only cares about the Borg abomination. We can't allow her to drag us down with her. It has to stop."

Chakotay studied the expressions on the faces of the people standing all around him, and his expression became triumphant. However, before he had a chance to continue his rousing speech B'Elanna's voice came from the back of the room.

"So, what do you intend to do, Chakotay? Take over Voyager? You don't have what it takes to captain this ship or lead its crew. You never did and you never will. Do you really think that we don't know that the real reason you left Starfleet was not your need to fight for your people but the fact that Starfleet refused to give you your own command?"

B'Elanna had stepped in the middle of the half-circle, with her hands on her hips and a cocky grin on her face. In the blink on an eye Chakotay had stepped down from the dais and invaded B'Elanna's personal space. This attempt at intimidation, however, didn't seem to impress her too much.

"No one asked for your opinion, you dishonourable traitor. You consort with the Borg and lick Janeway's boots every chance you get. You have lost the right to call yourself Maquis," Chakotay said.

B'Elanna's grin morphed into a smirk, "Offence is the best defence, Chakotay, right? Still, you didn't deny my words.

"Captain Janeway taught me what it means to be a good officer, and every day she shows all of us what it means to be a good leader. You, Chakotay, you do not have what it takes to be either. You don't have what it takes to captain Voyager. You don't even have what it takes to lead the Maquis on board."

"So, you think you could do better, you good-for-nothing mongrel?" Chakotay snarled.

"Even the dumbest of Tom's holo characters would do better, Chuckles," B'Elanna answered with a sneer.

Chakotay's fist hit B'Elanna square in the jaw. She stumbled backwards but a few of the others kept her from falling down. She quickly regained her equilibrium.

"Now, that you have taken the first swing. Chakotay, son of Kolopak, I challenge you for the leadership of the Maquis on board of this ship, according to the traditions of your tribe," When he didn't answer immediately she added, "Or do you only honour your heritage if it's convenient for you?"

Chakotay took a step back and studied her with disdain, "You dare speak to me about tradition and heritage, a half-breed who is afraid of her own blood? I accept your challenge, right now, right here. I can't wait to see you lying at my feet, begging for mercy.

"As the challenged I have the choice of weapons, and I choose those." He raised his bare hands, "I bested more than one Cardassian with nothing but my fists, a weak half-human should not be a problem."

"I accept, Chakotay, right here, right now, in front of those witnesses. And whoever looses will swear fealty to the other and obey them," B'Elanna answered.

"Agreed. I will enjoy having you crawl at my feet."

As the challenger B'Elanna attacked first, opening herself up for a counter-attack. His fist aimed at her stomach but she stepped aside at the last moment and grabbed his wrist. She threw him over her shoulder in an elegant Tsunkatse move. The surprise on his face quickly turned to anger and he once again tried to overpower her. A second time she used his own strength against him.

When she tried the same strategy a third time he was prepared and landed a hard hit right against her solar plexus. B'Elanna stumbled backwards and hit her heel on the first step of the dais. She lost her balance and Chakotay followed up with a hard jab against her chin.

A full-blooded Human would probably have lost consciousness, especially since the impact had been hard enough to send her across the dais and make her hit her head on the frame of Seven's alcove. B'Elanna, however, just shock it off and had the presence of mind to roll to the side when Chakotay threw himself at her in an effort to finish her off. She kicked out and his forehead collided with the metal alcove. That gave her the time she needed to get back on her feet.

Before Chakotay had a chance to shake it off B'Elanna grabbed him by his uniform jacket and the seat of his pants and threw him off the dais in an impressive show of Klingon strength. He skittered along the floor and ended up at the feet of his fellow Maquis. It took him some time to get back on his feet and when he looked up B'Elanna was there. A right hook impacted with the side of his chin and sent him back down to the deck plating in the middle of the half circle of people.

Instead of trying to stand up, he whirled around and grabbed B'Elanna's ankles. He pulled hard and brought her down. Chakotay got back to his feet and kicked B'Elanna in the stomach and ribs before she could get up. He got three hard kicks in before she was able to roll away. B'Elanna used the steps of the dais to get back on her feet and just barely dodged a right hook. She darted right under his defences and let go with a barrage of short, hard jabs against his centre. She kept at it and drove him back. He finally grabbed her shoulders and pushed her back.

Chakotay tried to hold on but B'Elanna twisted out of his grasp, a roundhouse kick impacted with his shoulder. A loud crack was heard and he howled in pain. She smiled in satisfaction but at the same time her right hand went to her ribcage where his kicks seemingly had broken one or more of her ribs. Just in time to get the best effect she followed up with a kick to his groin. He fell to his knees and instinctively curled into a ball, and this time she allowed him the time to recuperate.

About two minutes later Chakotay jumped back to his feet and once again attacked her, but not with a boxing or wrestling move but with a knife in his hand. B'Elanna saw the glint of the steel and instinctively took a step back. The weapon only sliced her arm instead of impaling her chest. Murmurs of disapproval came from the onlookers. Two of the Maquis who were working in security took a step forward to stop Chakotay but B'Elanna simply waived them off.

"So, you killed Cardassians with your bare hands?" She taunted while she easily danced out of the way of his next frontal assault. "And yet you need a knife to deal with an unarmed woman. Tell me, Chuckles, those Cardassians, by any chance were they asleep when you killed them? Drugged into unconsciousness?"

Rational thought seemed lost to the seething man; again and again he aimed for B'Elanna's heart, oblivious to the fact that her ribcage was too strong for his weapon to penetrate and reach her hearts. B'Elanna touched the bleeding slice on her arm and licked the blood from her fingertips. Her whole body visibly relaxed. Chakotay attacked again and this time she didn't evade him but allowed him into her personal space. The tip of his knife had already touched her chest but before he had the chance to follow through with a hard thrust B'Elanna twisted her upper body aside. Fast as lightning she raised her elbow and hit him square in the throat. Chakotay stumbled back, suddenly fighting for breath. The heel of B'Elanna's other hand hit the inside of his wrist and the knife fell onto the deck. She kicked it towards the dais and in one fluid movement let her foot hit the side of Chakotay's knee.

His massive body hit the deck, and this time she didn't give him the chance to recuperate. Pulling on his right arm she forced him to lie face first on the hard deck plating. The arm was at an angle that only a tiny movement would have been enough to at least dislocate it. She rammed her knee into his back to make sure that he would stay down and allowed him a minute to catch his breath.

"Time to surrender, Chakotay, and swear fealty to me."


The crack of his shoulder dislocating was loud to everyone in the room.

"Surrender, or I will break every single bone in your body, starting with your right hand; and I will make sure that the breaks will have to heal the old-fashioned way."

"Be wise for once, Chakotay. No one here will follow you now. The Maquis don't fight for cowards, and we will make sure that everyone outside of this room you try to convince of your traitorous ways will learn exactly what a coward you are," Ayala said, stepping from behind the crowd.

Murmurs of approval followed his words. Chakotay tried to break B'Elanna's hold but the pain in his dislocated shoulder was too much for him.

His voice was slightly scratchy when he finally said, "I surrender, you won the challenge. You are the new leader of the Maquis."

"Oh, you can do better than that, Chakotay," B'Elanna said and increased the pressure.

"I, Chakotay, son of Kolopak, swear fealty to you, B'Elanna Torres, daughter of Miral of the House of Presba."

"That's better." B'Elanna let go of his hand and rose to her feet. "Go to sickbay and have Tom patch you up. Tell him you had a slight mishap while training in the gym. And everyone else, go back to whatever you normally would be doing this time of the day. There will be no mutiny against Captain Janeway. When this whole mess began we thought that we were at least seventy-five years away from Earth. Now, five years later we should still be seventy years away but Captain Janeway has reduced the distance to thirty-five years. No one else could have done this, and no one else will be able to bring us all the way home. Captain Janeway is not the one who wanted to turn tail when we came close to Borg territory. Captain Janeway is not a coward and we all know to what lengths she is willing to go to keep us all safe. She always has been and always will be our best bet to return to the Alpha Quadrant."

The former Maquis broke up into small groups of two and three and left the cargo bay. Only Ayala and B'Elanna were left. B'Elanna slowly took the two steps leading to the dais and retrieved a med kit from behind one of the pillars. She handed the medical tricorder to Ayala and used the dermal regenerator on her arm. "Check my ribs, please. It feels as if at least one of them is broken."

"I'm sorry that I wasn't in time to put a stop to this nonsense from the beginning," he said.

"Not your fault, my friend. Excluding us, there were eight other ex-Maquis missing from his little assembly, amongst them some of Chakotay's best buddies. Contact Manolo and Sanys, tell them what happened. We have to keep an eye on Chakotay and the others. I don't trust him as far as Naomi could throw him."

"I don't either, Lanna. We'll do our best. You can trust us," Ayala answered.

"I know I can, my friend. And now I have to go back to Engineering. I'm meeting Tom and Harry for dinner and fill them in. Two pairs of eyes more won't hurt."

"I'll do the same with a couple of guys from Security. You also might want to tell Carey. If he really is stupid enough to try to take over the ship, Chakotay will start with the engine room."

For a moment the screen went blank and when it flickered to life again the pulsing warp drive in the background showed clearly where the next chapter of that drama would play out. It looked like a normal day in Engineering with B'Elanna shouting orders and her engineering team focused on their work.

The double doors to the main floor of the engine room slid open. The sound of numerous booted feet echoed through the cavernous room and B'Elanna turned around. She ducked just in time to avoid being hit by Chakotay's phaser pistol. The scorch mark on the bulk head where moments earlier her head had been was ample proof that the weapon had been set to kill; a stun setting would have left another pattern.

The moment B'Elanna had moved, her staff had also begun to take cover. Moments later she had retrieved the metleth she had hidden under her console and threw it at one of the six intruders who had entered the Engineering with Chakotay. He was standing behind Lieutenant Carey, ready to attack. B'Elanna's blade embedded itself in his back. He cried out. Only then she saw the glint of the knife in his hands. It had already been at Carey's throat, an with his last breath he slid Carey's carotid and killed him. Both men slid to the blood splattered floor, amidst a cacaphony of people shouting, phaser fire, cries of pain, beeping and burning equipment.

Chakotay's voice rose over the pandemonium, "Surrender, B'Elanna, or you people will all die. We already took the bridge, the ship is ours now. Surrender and I even might let you live."

At this point the Engineering staff had taken cover, all except for Ensign Merrin who shot an intruder on the upper level and in return was killed by one of Chakoray's men. When Merrin's body hit the lower level and landed next to John Carey B'Elanna burst from her cover and launched herself at Chakotay, a black and yellow blur.He turned his head just in time to let her right hook glance off his chin, it only grazed the side of his head. Moments later their bodies collided and B'Elanna's momentum threw him off his feet.

Vorik and Nicoletti were first to get over their surprise and attacked the traitors who were still staring at B'Elanna and their leader.

B'Elanna and Chakotay were fighting over his phaser. A shot went off and hit a second intruder on the upper level who had just started to take pot shots at the Engineering crew. One of them had missed Susan Nicoletti's head by a few scant millimeters.

Chakotay tried to get enough leverage to throw B'Elanna off, but the Hybrid refused to let go of the hand holding the weapon and in turn tried to get him in a chokehold.

At the same time Vorik pulled Susan behind the warp core. They put their thumb prints on a hidden padd at the base of the railing protecting the containment field. A few hearbeats later the only light in Engineering came from a humming secondary force field around the warp core. It was basically impossible now to discern to which side the shadows moving around belonged. The sounds didn't help either, grunts, indistinct shouts, cries of pain, but no more tell-tale shrill of phaser fire.

The main doors swished open, for a moment the lights form the corridor showed crewmen locked in wrestling matches, others trading blows. Ayala and four security officers ran in and shot everyone who was not part of the regular Engineering staff. They all were using strange looking rifles, propulsion weapons.

Vorik had been defending himself against two opponents when the security detail stormed in. Ayala's first shot hit one of them and he crumpled to the deck. Vorik used the other's surprise to break the neck of his other attacker.

B'Elanna and Chakotay were still locked in their fight over the weapon, but this time it was a metleth they were fighting over, the metleth B'Elanna had buried in Carey's killer at the beginning of the attack, its blade dulled with Human blood. B'Elanna's uniform tunic was shredded and she was bleeding from a deep cut in her left side, slightly below the waist. Chakotay got a good kick with his knee in, B'Elanna howled if either in anger or in pain or both. The sudden movement had shifted his balance and allowed B'Elanna to put her hand around his throat while the other still had a death grip on his knife hand.

They rolled around on the deck. B'Elanna smashed Chakotay's hand against the wall holding the monitors for the secondary tactical station. The metleth fell out of his hand. His other hand closed to a fist and hit her in the side of the head. She lost her grip on his throat and her balance. He threw her off of him. Tumbling back B'Elanna grabbed her metleth but before she could get back on her feet Chakotay was on top of her and they suddenly found themselves in the same position as earlier but with mirrored roles.

Chakotay had one hand on B'Elanna's throat and the other around her knife hand. In contrast to earlier, however, B'Elanna's other hand was not free to attack him but had somehow been pinned down between her back and the deck plating. Chakotay's breathing was extremely laboured but his face showed a triumphant grin that quickly contorted into a cry of pain when B'Elanna flipped the metleth around without losing her grip and sliced his arm open to the bone. He let go of her throat, punched her in the face and tried to stop the bleeding by covering the injury with his other hand.

B'Elanna used the distraction to free her hand. Chakotay's face contorted in anger. He let go of his injury and tried to get both hands around her throat. His weight was still resting on her legs and hips. With a flickering movement B'Elanna sliced his throat before he got the chance to crush her windpipe.

The rest of the fighting had finished around the time B'Elanna had smashed his hand against the wall. Regardless if they were attackers, security or engineers, everyone stared at them as if the fight between Chakotay and B'Elanna would somehow decide the fate of all.

When Chakotay's blood spurt from his severed carotid Ayala and one of his men finally rushed forward and pulled his lifeless body off of her. B'Elanna slowly got to her feet. Chakotay's crimson blood had splattered all over her face, chest and arms, and her own lavender coloured blood was still running from her side; it made for a gruesome sight.

"Ayala, let two of your men take care of the dead, and I don't want Carey and Merrin in the same room with this scum. Get the rest of them to the brig. The doctor can treat them there. Everyone else, get to sickbay and let the doctor patch you up. We have some repairs to do."

"Not before you report to sickbay and let Samantha patch you up, Chief, you're bleeding all over the engine room," Susan said.

B'Elanna looked down her side; "You're right. I might need a pass or two with the dermal regenerator, but before we get to that, I have something to say: You all did a really good job at defending Engineering, thank you!"

B'Elanna and three other injured crewmen left Engineering. Vorik and Susan put in some commands at the warp core console and the secondary force field disappeared.

The screen went black. From the surprise and horror on most faces Kathryn deduced that though they had been told what had happened in Engineering, they had not been given all the details. Janeway stood up and let her cold, grey gaze roam around the room, and suddenly most members of her crew found somewhere else to look, except for Seven of Nine and Naomi Wildman.

"The authenticity of this recording has been verified. It proves without the shadow of a doubt that Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres, daughter of Miral of the House of Presba is not guilty of the crimes of which she had accused herself and of which she has been convicted. Commander Chakotay was killed in self-defence while he was committing a criminal, while he was committing treason. The recording also proves that Lieutenant Torres is in no way or form responsible for the deaths of Lieutenant Carey and Ensign Merrin.

"On the contrary, her actions as well as those of the rest of the Engineering crew were commendable. The only persons to blame are Commander Chakotay and the eight crew members who wanted to seize the power on board for themselves.

"In light of this new evidence Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres is found not guilty of the charges previously brought against her and the sentence of life imprisonment is revoked."

The mess hall erupted in lout cheers and only the presence of the two burly security officers to B'Elanna's left and right kept her from storming over to congratulate her. It took almost ten minutes for everyone to calm down enough to become aware that the captain was far from being finished.

"This new evidence, however, also brought to light that Lieutenant Torres lied at her court-marshal. She lied to her commanding officer and as the captain of this vessel I expect better from the members of my senior staff. Attention, Miss Torres!"

B'Elanna jumped to her feet and stood at rigid attention. She tried to maintain a neutral expression but Kathryn knew her good enough to see that she was worried and confused.

"Miss Torres, how do you plead on the charges of purgery and the deliberate breach of the command structure?"

"Guilty, Captain Janeway."

"On the charge of instigating a shipwide conspiracy to keep the truth from your commanding officer, how do you plead?"

"Guilty, Captain Janeway. The others simply went along with what I asked of them. Please, don't punish them," B'Elanna answered.

"B'Elanna Torres, for purgery, conspiracy and conduct unbecoming of an officer you will be sentenced to two months and twenty-seven days of confinement to the brig. The sentence is considered as time served. Effective immediately you are reinstated as a lieutenant and chief engineer. You will report for duty at the start of Alpha shift tomorrow morning."

This time it was as if the cheers would never die down, but though this meeting was far from over Kathryn was not inclined to stop them, especially when she saw that Seven had left her place in the back of the room and strode directly towards B'Elanna. Seven turned the half-Klingon around, pulled her in her arms and kissed her, a long, passionate kiss that left no doubt about her intentions. She whispered something in B'Elanna's ear, B'Elanna blushed, Seven smiled and left the room.

At Captain Janeways signal Tuvok touched his comm. badge and a yellow alert reverberated through the room. It ended after five seconds and everyone's attention refocused on the captain.

"I'm not finished. You all have to answer for lying to your commanding officer, either by omission or directly. That makes all of you guilty of participating in a conspiracy and conduct unbecoming of a member of this crew. There are consequences: As of tomorrow 1400 hours shore leave is cancelled and every single member of this crew will add half a shift to their regular duty shifts for the next two months. Enjoy the rest of your time off. Dismissed."

Kathryn and Tuvok beamed directly in her Ready Room, "What do you think, Tuvok, how many complaints about this summary judgement will have piled up by tomorrow?"

"If Lieutenant Torres has anything to say about it, none. If I may ask, Captain, why didn't you tell them about the overhaul as you had planned?"

"A number of reasons. This way they will worry about the extra shift but it will still allow them to enjoy their last night off. I also think that the senior staff should be the first to know about the plan."

"Would I be wrong to assume that Lieutenant Torres' blush had anything to do with your decision, Captain?"

"Really, Tuvok, would I do something like that?" Kathryn laughed. "You know, for someone who professes to disdain emotions you see right through mine. Yes, it has something to do with Seven and B'Elanna. If I had told them now they would not have enjoyed their time off, especially B'Elanna. She probably thinks that she now has something to prove.

"In her eyes, she disappointed not only her captain but also her friend and mentor. So, it was the right decision, Captain, and just for the record: I do not disdain emotions. On the contrary, I'm an avid student of emotions, especially Human emotions. One day you should tell Lieutenant Torres the real reason you didn't allow her to go with you on the rescue mission into Borg territory."

"One day, my friend, but not any time soon. So, how do you think the crew and senior staff will react to project Do-it-yourself? Apart from the few crew members who will think that I have completely lost my mind," Janeway asked in an effort to change the subject. She really didn't want to say out loud what they both knew: that she had made B'Elanna stay on board because deep down she had been convinced that they would not come back and she had wanted at least one of her daughters of the heart as safe and sound as one can be in the Delta Quadrant.

"I still think that the name does not fit the seriousness and scope of the endeavour, Captain, but it's well in line with the crew's peculiar sense of humour. I will make sure that Ensign Wildman receives and invitation to the senior staff meeting tomorrow morning. Do you still want to go through with the promotions?"

"Yes, Tuvok, do you object? Samantha and Harry have more than earned their lieutenant's pip," Kathryn said.

"No, I do not object. They earned their pips. After recent events, would it not be better for morale to have the whole crew participate?" Tuvok asked.

"I have no doubt that Neelix will insist on a party to celebrate the event, and there will be a ship wide announcement after the staff meeting."

Kathryn invited Tuvok to join her for some tea on the upper level and after that they both returned to work. There still was a lot to do to prepare for project: Do-it-yourself.


Chapter Seven

B'Elanna felt strange to walk the corridors of Voyager without a guard at her side. At first she had been vexed by their mostly silent presence, but over time it had become almost comforting, and it had given her an extra pair of hands whenever she had needed them.

After the captain and Tuvok had beamed away it had taken her forever to get out of the mess hall. Everyone seemed to want to pat her on the shoulder of shake her hand and congratulate her, some even hugged her. It had felt great but it also had been somewhat disconcerting. Even some of those Starfleet members who had never made a secret out of their dislike for the Maquis members of the crew in general and her success as Chief of Engineering in particular had approached her with kind words. It was puzzling, but deep down B'Elanna had no doubt that sooner or later they would fall back on their old attitude.

B'Elanna had finally reached her quarters, their quarters, the quarters she shared with Seven of Nine, the quarters she had been sure to never again see from the inside. Suddenly her hearts beat in her throat. She swallowed when she took a step forward, half expecting the door to stay shut. But it identified her and slid open and moments later she was pulled inside and into Seven's arms.

After almost three months without her beloved a simple peck on the lips would have been wonderful. The kiss Seven had planted on her in the mess hall in front of the whole crew had been bliss, but now she was literally swept off her feet. The playfulness of Seven's words then, "You are sentenced to be ravished, bang'wI, melted under the intense blue gaze levelled at her. B'Elanna's lips parted of their own accord when the tip of Seven's tongue touched them. Their tongues met and B'Elanna closed her eyes. It had been so long.

The tip of Seven's left index finger ran from her neck down her spine, moments later the warm air of their quarters hit the naked skin of her back. Seven must have cut open the grey jumpsuit B'Elanna was still wearing.

Seven's tongue was leisurely exploring her mouth and caressing her tongue. It was paradise to be touched again the way only Seven knew how, gentle and firm, loving and demanding. B'Elanna's hands sneaked around Seven's slim waist and up her back to her neck until they found the hidden zipper that opened the biosuit Seven was wearing. B'Elanna needed to feel Seven's smooth skin on her own; and Seven seemed to share her desire and made quick work of the rest of her prison garb.

The drab grey jumpsuit was the thing she had resented most during her incarceration, not because it made her stand out among the rest of the crew, but because it was a constant reminder of her situation. And now it pooled at her feet.

Seven's biosuit had been pulled down to her hips and B'Elanna longed to kiss and fondle and devour her perfect breasts. She wanted to take her beloved right here in the living room but Seven had other plans. Seven put her slighlty cold hands on B'Elanna's hips.

B'Elanna thought that she wanted to pull her closer, instead she was raised off her feet and found herself been hoisted over Seven's left shoulder. Seven walked to their bedroom, threw her on the king-sized bed and stared down at her. B'Elanna's gaze was riveted on Seven's eyes. There was a predatory glint shining through that alone made her hearts beat even faster; then Seven licked her lips.

She took the biosuit off without losing eye contact with B'Elanna. Seven's blue eyes pinned her to mattress though B'Elanna longed to get up and claim every inch of Seven's skin and every single one of her implants as her own. The expression in Seven's eyes told her that her beloved wanted the same, and after everything she had put Seven through those last three months, after everything she had asked of her, B'Elanna reasoned, it was only fair that Seven would be the first to reclaim what rightfully belonged to her.

B'Elanna pushed herself back until she had reached the centre of the bed. She spread her legs and Seven followed the invitation. She crawled on the bed between B'Elanna's thighs. B'Elanna grinned when she felt Seven's right knee only a fraction of a inch from her sex, but Seven's feral smile told her that it would not be that fast of easy. Seven wanted to play and she wanted to play by her own rules.

Seven's arms now were at the side of her head. She allowed their nipples to touch fleetingly when she bent down to whisper in B'Elanna's ear, "You are mine, benal, all mine, to do with as I please. I want you to put your hands over your head and keep them there. I want to inspect my property to make sure that you took good care of what is mine."

B'Elanna shivered at Seven's deep throaty voice that held so much promise, "No one can take care of me as good as you do, my beloved. Please, kiss me."

Seven obliged her, no, she did more than that. Seven didn't just kiss her; Seven's lips claimed her lips, Seven's tongue claimed her tongue. Seven claimed the air she exhaled and breathed in her own. B'Elanna moaned when the kiss was broken but she kept her arms obediently over her head.

Seven kissed and licked along B'Elanna's jawline to her right ear. She nibbled the earlobe and smiled at B'Elanna's frustrated groan. She licked her way upwards past the ear and to the temple and started to kiss the ridges on B'Elanna's forehead, as if it were the first time and she had yet to explore their taste and texture.

But it was not the first time, it was fundamentally different. Then B'Elanna had been extremely self-conscious about them. All her life they had been the visible reminder of a heritage with which she wanted nothing to do. Over time Seven had convinced her that Klingons were a proud and honourable people with a long history that did not only consist of conquests and wars and that there were some Klingon cultural traditions that were really worth exploring, some very inspiring traditions. No, this time B'Elanna was able to enjoy Seven's ministrations and her softly murmured words that told her how proud Seven was for her beautiful warrior and how much she had missed her and wanted her, and how she wanted to hear B'Elanna scream her name in passion.

Seven's lips and tongue were the only part of her now touching B'Elanna, and B'Elanna craved more, she needed more. With every single one of her previous lover's B'Elanna had simply taken what she wanted and needed, but Seven was different and not only because she was the first lover who could not only match but surpass her Klingon strength and occasional aggressiveness.

Seven had also been the only one without preconceived expectations about sex with her though she knew more about Klingon physiology and sexual impulses then B'Elanna had ever wanted to know. Seven didn't expect B'Elanna to always be the aggressor. She didn't expect her to always be rough. She didn't want to tame her so-called baser instincts. She didn't love when B'Elanna only wanted to cuddle. Over the months it had even turned out that Seven was the more adventurous of the twp of them, the one who was always ready to try something new; not because she thought that their relationship needed some additional spice but just because she was curious and always searching for new ways to please her beloved.

Kissing the forehead ridges as part of their foreplay had been one of those new ways. And Seven was thorough. There was not one bump or swell left unattended.

"Sev, please, I need you, please."

Seven kissed her way down to the other ear and whispered, "I'm here, my love. I'm here."

"Please Seven."

"Patience,bang'wI, patience."

To emphasise her point Seven shifted her weight just enough to free her right hand and changed the angle of her knee to create a tangential contact with B'Elanna's sex. She sneaked her hand under B'Elanna's neck and touched the almost imperceptible but extremely sensitive ridges there.

B'Elanna moaned, she arched her back, "Open your eyes, my beauty. Tell me, all those long nights in the brig, did you think about me?"

B'Elanna swallowed hard at the predatory expression on Seven's face, "You know I did, my beloved. I missed you so much. I would not have been able to stay sane without thinking of you and dreaming of you and without seeing you during the day. It hurt so much having to sleep without you, to know that you were only a couple of decks away, listening to the same hum of the warp core. Please, Sev, take me, take me hard."

Seven pressed her knee harder against B'Elanna's centre and asked, "Did you masturbate alone in your cell, thinking of me?"

B'Elanna's hands had closed to fists and her arms were trembling from the effort to keep them over her head.

"I tried," she said softly, "but my fingers are not yours, and your scent was missing. I just couldn't fool myself this much. I was only able to achieve a semblance of relief on the rare occasions when I was able to convince myself that you were there watching me masturbate, that you had told me to give you a show."

Seven rewarded the answer with another breathtaking kiss and a slightly firmer touch of her fingertips against the neck ridges. She knew that she could make B'Elanna come alone by manipulating them, but that wasn't what she had in mind just now. She wanted to bring her beloved to brink of orgasm and hold her there for as long as possible. She wanted to make up for all the nights they had lost. She wanted to show B'Elanna how much she loved her, adored her, worshipped her.

"Tell me what you want me to do now, my love," Seven demanded.

"Everything you want, Seven, everything and anything. I'm yours, my love. Just being with you, here, in our bed is more than I'd ever hoped for."

"You know that Captain Janeway would have found another reason to release you from the brig sooner or later, even if she would not have found out the truth, right?"

Seven once again bent down and kissed B'Elanna. She removed her hand from B'Elanna's neck which elicited a groan from her that was swallowed by Seven's mouth. Seven also back up her knee touching B'Elanna's sex, but quickly replaced it with her hand. She playfully retraced the length of B'Elanna's folds. B'Elanna's hips rocked in response. Seven smiled and entered her with two fingers. It's been too long since she last felt B'Elanna's moist walls around her fingers and Seven knew that she wanted more. She broke the kiss and saw the now almost black eyes of her beloved. It was exactly the colour she had wanted to see, the sign that B'Elanna's climax was close.

"What do you want me to do now, my beauty?" She repeated her earlier question and moved her finder slowly inside of B'Elanna to give her further incentive to answer.

B'Elanna could hear her pulse beating in her throat but she somehow managed to open her mouth and answer somewhat coherently, "Take me, my love, fill me. Put your whole hand inside, make me feel you. Pump your fist deep inside of me, make me cry out your name. Bite my nipple, please, I want to feel all of you."

Seven sealed her lips with a gentle, undemanding kiss and licked her way down to B'Elanna's right nipple. She kissed it gently. Her lips closed around the already hard nub and suckled. If not for the expression in Seven's eyes and B'Elanna's needy growl it could have been seen as an innocent gesture. Seven could hear the rush of blood in B'Elanna's veins. It was an intoxicating sound that never failed to bring her a step closer to her own release. She unconsciously dispatched some nanoprobes to regulate her hormones for a bit longer. Her own climax was less important to her than bringing B'Elanna over the edge.

She added a third finger and put her thumb on B'Elanna's clit. B'Elanna was dripping wet, wet enough to forgo any additional lubrication. Seven bit down on B'Elanna's nipple; not hard enough to leave marks, but enough to make B'Elanna yelp at the sudden change of pace. She circled the aureole with the tip of her tongue and then shifted her whole body. She knew that she had to change the angle of her hand to be able to enter B'Elanna completely without injuring her.

"Put your hands on your breasts, baby. Touch them they way you would touch mine."

B'Elanna obeyed with a groan and a grin. She caressed her breasts and squeezed her nipples and rolled them between thumb and index finger and Seven wriggled her three fingers inside of B'Elanna's core and pressed down on the clit. Her attention was on B'Elanna's eyes and her breathing rhythm, and when the time was right she not only added a fourth finger she thrust her whole hand inside of her beloved.

B'Elanna's hips arched from the mattress. Seven's mesh covered hand pressed her back down to insure that she would not injure herself by thrashing around. Seven closed her right hand to a fist and began to thrust. Without her Borg enhanced strength she never would have been able to hold B'Elanna down and at the same time have her left index finger on B'Elanna's clit. The digit began to vibrate and massage the sensitive nub. B'Elanna's hands grabbed the mattress to her left and right. She cried out to Kahless. She shouted Seven's name, again and again, every time Seven's fist reached the deepest point it could, every time she almost pulled out, stretching B'Elanna's vaginal opening to the point of almost tearing it. It was a dangerous game with B'Elanna's physical limits but B'Elanna trusted her beloved and Seven's nanoprobes worked overtime to allow her to stay in control of what she was doing.

Seven slowed her movements when the first wave of orgasm began to ebb out. She opened her first and found her fingers quickly tightly sheathed from all sides. Despite the still mounting pressure she managed to wriggle her fingers and touch all of the special spots that were normally hidden and inaccessible without further stimulation. The tip of Seven's long fingers, however, reached them and sent B'Elanna in another series of spiralling orgasms that finally made her pass out.

Seven gently and carefully removed her hand. She inspected B'Elanna's folds with her ocular implant to make sure that she was really alright. She crawled up the bed and pulled B'Elanna in her arms until she was lying half on top of her. Seven kissed her lover's forehead and was rewarded with brown eyes fluttering open. They were still darkened with desire but also visibly confused.

"What happened?" She asked.

"You passed out, my love."

"Klingons don't pass out, Seven."

"You did, bang'wI, but don't worry, I'll take the secret to my grave and if you need to you can always blame it on the long abstinence," Seven said with an indulgent smile.

"I'd rather blame it on your superior skills, benal, and now my love, it's time for me to repay the favour, don't you think?"

B'Elanna didn't wait for an answer but kissed Seven just as hungrily and passionately as she had been kissed earlier.

A few decks above B'Elanna and Seven's quarters Ensign Harry Kim nervously pressed the door chime to Captain Janeway's Ready Room. He carried a padd and what looked like old fashioned writing paper.

"Mister Kim, what can I do for you?"

"B'E… Lieutenant Torres asked me to give this to you and to tell you the rest of the story. Commander Chakotay kept a diary of sorts. It will give you some insight into his state of mind and you can use it as additional proof to bolster the over-turning of Lieutenant Torres' court-marshal proceedings. Personally, I recommend not to read it, Captain, it's full of delusional rants and invectives."

Harry handed the stack of papers over, together with the padd.

"The padd contains the rest of what happened, as well as Lieutenant Torres' logs and a few other things."

"Ensign Kim, why don't you tell me what happened to the surviving mutineers? In your own words."

"Yes, ma'am. There were three of the traitors left when everything was over.We put them in the brig. B'Elanna said that you would take care of them when you came back with Seven."

"So, at one point she wanted to tell me the truth?"

"Yes, Captain. It was only afterwards that she came up with the idea to keep Chakotay's defection from you. Please, believe me, Captain, she didn't do that lightly. Read her log entries and you will know."

"Did you, Harry?"

"Oh no, but I was there to witness it. She told me that lying to you was the hardest, the most frightening thing she ever…."

There was another chime at the door and at the captain's orders a visibly nervous Tal Celes came in.

"Ensign Tal, I'm a bit busy at the moment. Can it wait?"

"I'm afraid, it can't, Captain. It's my fault the three prisoners are dead.

"I see. Why don't you start at the beginning, the two of you."

"As I already said, we put them in the brig and Sam… Ensign Wildman patched them up," Harry started to say.

"One of them was Bajoran. It's part of our culture to at least listen to those with a troubled soul. He told me that he felt deeply ashamed for having fallen for Chakotay's rhetorics and that he wanted to pray to the Prophets for forgiveness. He asked for his prayer mandala to be brought to him. Lieutenant Torres said that we couldn't take the risk, but I did it anyhow."

"Tal, it was not your fault. How could you have known? No one, not even B'Elanna, could have anticipated such duplicity," Harry said with a comforting hand on the young woman's shoulder.

"It's my fault. If I had not been so incredibly naïve they would not be dead, and B'Elanna would not have spent three months behind bars for something she didn't do. It is my fault."

Captain Janeway had never seen the young ensign as desperate and as determined before, even her usual slight stutter was gone.

"Ensigns, let's get back on topic, can we?" Janeway said with a hint of her command voice. "So, the crewman asked for his prayer mandala, then what happened?"

"He had a Cardassian disruptor concealed in the back. The first moment the guard had turned his back to escort me out he used it to overload the force field. Before we had a chance to react he had knocked the guard out and forced me into an empty cell. He deactivated the force field to the cell of one of his fellow traitors and shot him point blank. He repeated his actions with the other man, and he shot himself."

"Did he say anything before he killed himself?" Kathryn asked.

"He said: Tell Lieutenant Torres that my debt now is paid," Tal Celes answered tonelessly.

Harry wrapped his arm around her shoulders and told her that she was not to blame, "No one could have anticipated that and there was nothing you could have done to stop him. Let it go, Tal."

"Ensign Kim, Ensign Tal. In your shoes I might have done the same. Stop blaming yourself. Thank you for having to courage to speak up. Ensign Tal, Ensign Kim, dismissed."

Both of them snapped to attention, but Harry hesitated before he turned to the door, "Is there anything else, Mister Kim?"

"Yes, Captain. It's Ensign Celes, not Ensign Tal."

"I always thought that on Bajor the name that comes first is the family name."

"That's true, Captain, but there was a mix-up the first day at the Academy. They got it wrong."

"I'll make the necessary changes to our files, Ensign. Thank you for telling me, Harry. Ensign Celes, why did you never say anything? This could have been taken care of years ago."

"In the beginning I tried, Captain Janeway, but after a while all the instructors were used to it. It simply was easier to let it go than to insist and get into arguments about it. I wasn't that great of a student. I thought it best not to draw any unwanted attention," Celes said.

"I see. Dismissed. Enjoy the rest of your time off. I have some reading to do."

Kathryn decided to fortify herself with a mug of coffee before she began the according to Harry unpleasant task of reading Chakotay's diary. Two hours later she put the loose pages aside. She had read enough, enough to know how clearly delusional and vindictive her former first officer really had been, almost from the beginning. He had fantasised about making love to her, had revelled in developing scenarios in which had had saved the captain from certain death and had been rewarded with her love and her command.

After their return from New Earth his tone had become more aggressive and his account of their stay did in no way or form coincide with her own memory. To Kathryn those four months had been the longest in her life. She had tried to keep herself busy with searching for a cure, but apart from that she had been at the brink of depression and Chakotay's attempts to create a home for them and to get closer to her on a personal level had been at best annoying. To him it had been four months of a slow courtship during with he had apparently scrutinised every single one of her moves and words and had come to the conclusion that she soon would fall for his charms. His sexual fantasies about them were outright embarrassing. He even had dreamed about her having his children and raising them according to the ancient traditions of his tribe, without modern technology and knowledge.

The sexual fantasies were slowly replaced by scenarios of violence after Seven of Nine had joined the crew. He had listed various plans how to kill first only Seven and then Seven and B'Elanna. There were scenarios in which Kathryn had been freed from some sort of mind control after he and the crew had killed Seven, and of course she had jumped at the chance to exchange her pips for a place at his feet in gratitude. And then his delusions had turned to hate…

The most surprising thing about this look into the soul of a man she once had trusted was the fact that he had managed to appear completely sane for so long.

An inquiry with the ship's computer told her that Alpha shift was about to end. She still had some things to prepare fro the senior staff meeting the next morning, instead she activated the padd Harry had given her and pulled up B'Elanna's personal logs. The first entry had been made about a month after she had been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Naomi just left. She found the log entries and the security footage Seven hid under Borg encryption codes from Tuvok and the captain. That girl is too smart for her own good. She thinks that I'm wrong and that the captain does not need to be protected, but she promised to keep her knowledge to herself. Harry and Seven and Ayala agree with her and want me to end what they call a charade, but they don't know her the way I do.

They don't know about the burden she carries. They don't know about the extent of the guilt she feels for having stranded us in the Delta Quadrant in the first place and for every death and every injury one of the crew suffered since then. They don't know about the insomnia and the bouts of depression. They don't know about her sorrow and grief for every crewman lost.

I do, and I know what it would do to her if she ever found out that having gone off to save one member of her crew the lives of eleven others were lost. I know the captain would bear it and bury herself behind her command mask, but the woman would break, the woman who loves every single one of us like family, even black sheep like me. It would break her heart.

In a few minutes Captain Janeway will come by and ask me change my story, to finally tell her the truth, and I will answer that there's nothing to tell and for the fraction of a heartbeat I'll see the woman behind the captain's mask, the woman who is hurt by my actions and by what she sees as my Klingon stubbornness – but giving in and telling her would only make it worse. I can't do that. Still, there is a lot to tell, to explain. I can't tell it to Kathryn or to Captain Janeway, but I can spill my guts on this padd. Tuvok and Ayala assure me that even felons have a right to a modicum of privacy.

Kathryn was stunned. How could B'Elanna know? She always had been very careful to keep her feelings and fears out of her interactions with her crew. How could someone a brash and volatile as B'Elanna have looked this deeply and accurately?

Kathryn shock her head and chided herself. If brash and volatile were all B'Elanna was, if her outward attitude was all there was to her she never would have named her chief engineer. Everyone else, including Chakotay, might have fallen for the harder than duranium exterior B'Elanna presented to the world. Kathryn had seen someone who needed guidance and was eager to please, with the right incentive. She had easily seen behind B'Elanna's masks, why should she be surprised that it also had worked the other way round?

Hours later she put the padd down. B'Elanna had recounted every detail of what had happened since Seven had left them to the moment the Delty Flyer had docked in the hangar bay, including the message Seven had left for B'Elanna in which she had told her that she loved her and that the Borg queen had blackmailed her, begging her not to tell the captain to keep her from doing something reckless. It seemed as if her whole crew was hell-bent on saving her from herself, Kathryn thought.

She reluctantly tended to the last of her preparations but B'Elanna's words kept echoing in her mind. So, she returned to the padd and re-read one of the last entries.

The last of the traitors were dead, killed by one of their own, killed because I once saved a man's life, because I taught him in that Cardassian hellhole that honour is more important than life. He had been my right hand man during the rebellion and the weeks of preparation, but on board of Chakotay's ship we drifted apart and he told me that one day he would repay his debt to me. I wish he would have understood that it was I who owed him, without him we would not have succeeded. I wish he would have found another way. I wish he would have repaid me by not joining Chakotay. He wish he would have repaid me by choosing life. He chose death, but with the surviving traitors gone he also gave me a chance, a chance to keep what really happened from our captain, from Kathryn, to keep her from being hurt by the knowledge that a part of her crew, of her family betrayed her and that two good men were killed because of it.

I didn't know if I would be able to convince the rest of the crew to keep quiet about Chakotay, but I must have said the right thing. They all agreed that it was time that we did something for our captain instead of always relying on her strength. Most people on the lower decks see Captain Janeway as larger than life, like one of the statues in the Hall of the Great on Qo'nos. The idea that she could in any way be affected by Chakotay's betrayal was a hard sell, and I'm glad that it worked, thanks to Neelix who did most of the talking.

It was harder to make the crew understand why the court-marshal was necessary; my Maquis friends made them understand. They know that ten crewmembers could still be alive if I had had the courage to kill Chakotay after he had attacked me with the knife and proven himself not worthy of being called a Maquis. A real Maquis and a full-blooded Klingon would have done just that, and they would have been in their right. Even as a Starfleet officer I would have had the right to relieve him of duty and put him in the brig for openly speaking about mutiny.

I did neither. I relied on my knowledge of whom I thought was my friend, despite everything I still trusted him. I thought he would back down after having lost the support of the majority of the Maquis. I was wrong and now the death of ten people is weighing on my conscience.

Now, after more than two months in the brig, I begin to understand that protecting Kathryn is not my only motivation for being here. It's also penance, the price I pay for not having acted when I should have acted, the price I pay for getting ten crewmembers killed.

Oh B'Elanna, Kathryn thought, you're even worse then I am in accepting blame for things out of your control.

Me, larger then life, don't these people have eyes to see? I should use Voyager's refit to change or at least rethink my relationship with my crew. I'll also go over their personal files with a fine tooth comb, there might be more things I missed than Ensign Ta… Ensign Celes Tal's name….

With that thought the captain called it a night and retired to her quarters.

When Captain Janeway entered the conference room her senior staff was already present. A visibly nervous Samantha Wildman sat between Neelix and Harry Kim. B'Elanna was in her usual seat next to Seven, once again wearing her Engineering uniform with the rank insignia at the side of the grey turtleneck. It was good to have her back where she belonged, Kathryn thought.

"Good morning, everyone. Lieutenant Torres, it's good to have you back."

"It's good to be back, Captain, thank you."

"Alright, let's get down to business. Ensign Wildman, front and centre, please."

Samantha looked unsure but obeyed without delay.

"Attention!" Tuvok barked and the rest of the room's occupants jumped to their feet.

"Ensign Samantha Wildman, in recognition of your exemplary service on board of the USS Voyager I hereby grant you a field commission to lieutenant second class. The promotion comes with a raise, of course, and the added responsibility as our new department head for the department of bio-sciences. Congratulations, Lieutenant Wildman."

Kathryn put the pip on Samantha's uniform and hugged her while the others clapped.

As soon as Lieutenant Wildman had returned to her seat Janeway called Harry forward and promoted him to lieutenant first class. He seemed to have grown two inches by the time he had returned to his seat under the whistling and clapping of the rest of the senior staff.

When everyone had calmed down, Kathryn added, "Mister Neelix, I count on you to organise a promotion party for our newly minted lieutenants. I'll send my bridge's assistant over with a few ideas later that day. And now for the main reason I called for this meeting."

Kathryn turned around and grabbed a crate from the floor. She upended it on the conference table and dozens of data padds clattered on its surface, "In front of you are the collected ideas, plans, and proposals made to me over the years to make life on Voyager safer and more comfortable, to make your journey faster and our weapons more efficient. Every padd stand for at least one proposal and in the past I had to reject them all because they would either tax our resources or have Voyager too exposed to danger. I reconsidered. Tuvok, would you, please."

The tall Vulcan rose and activated the view screen on the wall. It showed a picture of a ship that looked like Voyager's slightly bigger sister. She let her people come to their own conclusions. Seven and B'Elanna didn't let her down. They first looked at each other and then B'Elanna asked, "Captain, could we please see the technical specs of the changes you propose."

"You'll all get a padd with the specifications at the end of this meeting. For now a quick overview will have to do. When operation: Do-it-yourself is finished Voyager will have three additional decks for a standard crew of one hundred and ninety-five. Top speed will be warp 9.99, top cruising speed at warp 9.81. I expect an increase in hull integrity, shield and weapons strength of at least thirty percent. We'll have a third holodeck, a big garden, two more gyms and four Delta Flyers that will replace the standard shuttles.

"Our first order of business will be to make sure that Voyager is safe here. We will have a satellite defence system and an energy shield that extends over the dock we'll have to build and the perimeter Tuvok has already set aside for our temporary habitat. Now for work distribution…."

"Captain, will all due respect, what you plan to do would take Utopia Planitia at least nine months. There's no way we can do it here. It would take us one and a half years, working double shifts. Do you really want to lose all that time?" Harry asked.

"Tuvok estimates that it will take us about nine and a half months. Don't forget, Lieutenant Kim, we have something with which Utopia Planitia can not compete. They are just doing a job, but we have a common goal. We are a team, a very good team," Kathryn said.

"And we don't have to deal with even a fraction of the paperwork," Tom said. "If there's one thing my father bitched about it's the paperwork and the holier-than-thou attitude of the guys from the supply department. He positively hates paperwork."

"I've never known a frontline officer who didn't, Tom. Now, let's get to work distribution: Lieutenant Wildman, your first order of business will be to set up temporary habitats for the whole crew. Neelix, you will be her second on the project, and recruit whomever else you need. Tom as long as our defence system is not up you will organise patrol flights with the shuttles through the solar system, coordinate with Tuvok. Lieutenant Kim, you will act as my adjunct. See it as the start of your command training. Seven, B'Elanna, you'll help me to establish our defence perimeters. We'll start with building advanced probes to link up with the Astrometrics lab, and then we'll create a defensive shield around Voyager and the designed settlement area powered with geothermic energy. Any questions?"

"Tons, Captain," B'Elanna said after exchanging glances with Seven, "but the technical details can wait for now. There's one thing we'd really like to know. What made you change you mind about a complete overhaul?"

"Honestly, that's not a question I'm prepared to answer in its integrity just now, B'Elanna, but it reminds me of a point I almost forgot. Over the last four years I got dozens of requests from people who want to reproduce. With the new desks and the changes in the energy grid we'll be able to grant at least half of those requests, provided they're still valid. Doctor, it will be your job to check those requests and find a fair way to organise it. Consult with Neelix; he knows the crew better than either of us do. And while you're at it, I want you to come up with protocols to protect the babies in every day operations as well as in emergencies.

"Lieutenant Wildman, I must apologise for having failed you and Naomi in that regard. I never wanted to command a generational ship and tried my best to ignore the fact that I already do," the captain said to everyone's surprise.

"Thank you, Captain, but there's no need to apologise. You always did everything in your power to keep my daughter safe, and not only Naomi, me too. I never thanked you for giving us quarters next to an escape pod and for making sure that the people around her have special instructions, and please don't tell me that it was standard procedure. I looked it up, it isn't."

Kathryn's eyes widened a bit and then she simply shrugged her shoulders, "It's easy to keep an eye on one child, Lieutenant. Now, are there any more questions?"

This time no one spoke up.

"Good. There will be another full crew meeting at 14h00 hours to tell the rest of the crew about Do-it-yourself. Lieutenant Wildman, you have 'til then to come up with a moving plan. Dismissed."



To say that the crew was stunned by operation: Do-it-yourself would have been an understatement of galactic proportions. There had of course been some very sceptical voices, but Captain Janeway's motivational speech silenced them quickly. The next couple of days everyone was busy with setting up camp outside of the ship and working on the defence grid. Harry even found a way to strengthen the protective shield around Voyager and the settlements with the same demands on energy.

It took three days to organise everything and as soon as they had a decent rhythm going Kathryn invited B'Elanna and Seven to dinner. The three women spent the better part of dinner talking about the refit. Kathryn only brought up the reason for the invite when they had relocated to couch and were sipping their after dinner coffee or in Seven's case tea.

"B'Elanna, a few days ago you asked me why I changed my mind about a refit, and you deserve an answer, you and Seven. I just don't know where to start."

Kathryn fell silent and both of her guests respected her need to order her thoughts or find the right words. Finally she said, "The short answer is that you made me change my mind, B'Elanna, but you deserve more than a short answer. The refit is a chance to also revisit my leadership style. In your logs you said that the crew sees me as larger than life, but I'm not, far from that."

"Of course you are not, Captain," Seven said. When B'Elanna nudged her in the side she added, "you are of average height for a Human female of your genetic make-up. From our point of view, however, from the point of view of your crew, Captain, you are. Without you this ship would never have made it 35,000 light years in less than six years. With an ordinary captain we would still be almost 70,000 light years from the Alpha Quadrant."

"Yes, Seven, we made it about 30,000 light years further than could reasonably be expected, but that was more luck than skill. Without Kes we probably still would be in Borg territory and have been assimilated. And the last 20,000 light years… Seven, you almost paid with your life and your soul for those transwarp coils. So far, every short cut we tried either turned out to be a dangerous trap or it cost us valuable lives, or both. I decided that from now on we need to be more cautious. We'll rely more on ourselves and won't rush headlong into danger just because I smell coffee in a nebula. The Delta Quadrant is dangerous enough without constantly, deliberately flirting with danger. The upgrades will make our ship safer and more independent, especially after we're done with mining the planet. We'll have enough dilithium and other energy crystals for years. That of course does not mean that we'll stop to investigate interesting phenomena or will no longer search for wormholes and new technology and allies."

"We know that, Captain. You already said that at the meeting when those morons feared that the overhaul was nothing more than an elaborate ruse to get us to settle down and what not. It still does not explain what's wrong with your leadership style," B'Elanna said.

"In command school one learns that a captain has to keep a certain distance from his or her crew, that a captain has to stay separated from his people in order to make the hard decisions. I tried to live by those rules because I believed in them and because I was convinced that being out her in the Delta Quadrant the crew needed that more than under normal circumstances.

"And then I come home from getting back one lost sheep and find out that some others have staged a rebellion in the paddock, a rebellion that would never have happened if my crew had known me better. Chakotay played with people's fears and insecurities. He used the image I created of myself to harm my people and my ship," Kathryn said.

"In a crew of 134 people he only found eight other people to join his cause, Captain. In my book that makes 125 people you now know you can trust completely," B'Elanna said.

"And they proved that loyalty by lying to me and letting you take the fall for something you did not do, B'Elanna," Kathryn said sarcastically. "I know you did that to protect me, and I admit that it hurt when I found out about what happened in the Cargo Bay and in Engineering. You are also right to think that I feel responsible for the death of eleven crew members, but B'Elanna, before I knew the truth I also felt responsible for the deaths of the eight crew members that supposedly died due to an accident in the holodeck and I felt guilty for not having been here to prevent you from losing your temper when I could have avoided that by taking you with me," Kathryn said.

"Why didn't you, Captain?" Seven asked. "Bella told me that she all but pulled a phaser on you to force you to take her with you."

"That's a Klingon exaggeration, Seven. The simple truth is that I didn't know if we'd ever get back and I wanted to keep B'Elanna safe, well, as safe as possible. I don't show it often, but some members of this crew are more to me than just crew. You and B'Elanna are family for me, not distant cousins or something but closer. I feel not old enough to see you as my daughters even though at one point I have been a mentor to both of you. So, I haven't gotten around to define what you are to me, but I wanted at least one member of my closest family to be as safe as possible."

Kathryn grabbed B'Elanna's hand across the corner of the couch table.

"Family protect each other, so, thank you for trying to protect me, B'Elanna. Don't do it again. The next time you fee the urge you'll just come to me and we'll talk or even better, take me in your arms and give me hug. Deal?"

"Deal, Ca… Kathryn. You know, you're in luck, I always wanted a big sister."

They hugged and also pulled Seven into the embrace who suddenly had a lot of questions about 'family protocol' and announced that she would research the history of her new family as she had B'Elanna's family tree. B'Elanna's only comment to that was a loud groan and when prompted she only said that Kathryn would be in for a surprise.

Kathryn declared that she already knew everything there was to know about the history of her family on both sides to which B'Elanna commented, "That's what I thought too, before Seven started her research. I had no idea that our Klingon database is that extensive, and I shudder to think what my beloved will unearth when she starts to sift through the Federation files."

Kathryn took it as a challenge; a challenge she lost when Seven researched the real involvement of her ancestor and namesake in the Millennium Tower.

All in all Voyager's refit took ten months and four days. During that time the crew got to know a new side of their captain. Kathryn could often be found doing some grunt work when a pair of extra hands were needed. She participated in group activities like barbeques, and the crew found out that she had knack for playing drums and that her competitive streak didn't end with velocity but extended to almost every team sport though she had to admit that basketball was not one of her stronger games. As a result even the lower deck members began to see their captain as an approachable Human being instead of a larger than life statue.

The refit could have been done in the time Tuvok initially had estimated, if not for the fact that B'Elanna and Seven kept coming up with improvements to their original designs, among them a plethora of security measures meant to keep the soon to be offspring of the crew safe.

With the recent losses and the new decks all requests for procreation could be granted with energy and one and a half unused deck to spare. Thanks to the doctor and his extensive database combined with a little bit of Borg ingenuity Tom and Harry even got to fulfil their most cherished dream, a little boy sharing their DNA named Jonas Kim-Paris.

Seven and B'Elanna on the other hand had been too busy with the refit to plan their own family; an oversight they rectified as soon as Voyager had once again been on taken flight and the new and modified systems had proven their reliability. Due to the Borg modifications in Seven's body B'Elanna had been the one to carry their child, and everyone on board, but especially the Engineering crew sent thanks to Kahless that even with Klingon-Human hybrids a pregnancy only lasted six and not the usual nine months. K'Ryn Torres-Hansen, though only a quarter Klingon, grew much faster than Human children. The Doctor attributed it to her Borg inheritance, but the fact remained that with eighteen months she has passed the terrible two to go directly to the inquisitive four and an innate need to 'repair' everything she could get her hands on which at her age mainly meant to take them apart.

The part of the refit that had given them the most trouble was the upgrade of the communications system. They first had tried to expand on Lieutenant Barclay's tentatively sketched ideas about using micro wormholes but that had not worked. In the end they had found a way to create artificial micro wormholes that allowed stable, unlimited two-way communication as long as the ship was not moving.

The first transmission that reached Voyager that way told them that the war with the Dominion was over, but it also told them that Vulcan had been attacked by the Breen only a few days before the end of the war. Tuvok's wife and oldest son had died during that attack. It had confirmed what he already had felt for a few weeks and three months after they had resumed course he asked his captain and friend to be released from duty. He had explained that without the link to his bonded mate he would not stand a chance to survive his impeding Pon-Farr. He had recommended Lieutenant Torres as his successor as first officer.

Kathryn Janeway, however, had refused to simply let her oldest and best friend die and, with the help of Seven of Nine, convinced him that the logical solution was not in dying but in choosing a new mate. So, despite a just renewed fertility inhibitor Captain Kathryn Janeway, mate of Tuvok, gave birth to a healthy daughter with light brown skin and slightly pointed ears. Just like with Klingons and Ktaraians the physical and mental development of Vulcan children was much faster than that of Humans, at least during the first decade.

It didn't take long forT'Exa Greta Janeway and K'Ryn Torres-Hansen to get into all kind of mischief that even taxed Tuvok's patience. The mixture of Klingon temper and Vulcan moderation, however, over the years not only to some quite memorable pranks but also a unique mix of logic and ingenuity that kept their parents constantly on their toes. It also attracted the attention of the Think Tank that once had tried to 'recruit' Seven of Nine, to no avail of course. They had not counted on Voyager's upgrades and the feistiness of the girls.

When Voyager finally arrived in sector 001 of the Alpha Quadrant via an artificially created wormhole the ship still was the most advanced vessel in Starfleet, despite the advance the Dominion war had brought.

The End

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