DISCLAIMER: "Battlestar Galactica," the characters, and situations depicted are the property of Ron Moore, David Eick, SciFi, R&D TV, Sky TV, and USA Cable Entertainment LLC. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. Star Trek: Voyager and all characters who have appeared in the show are the sole property of Paramount Pictures and a bunch of other people too numerous to list.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A huge shower of thank you’s to a bunch of people for making this story possible: Hugs to my beta selenay_x, who has read this piece over and beyond the call of duty, numerous drafts notwithstanding. To selvercy, kjaneway and missfoxie for their invaluable insight on the very first draft (Through Dire Straits). And not ever least, cookies for technosage, for being as hard on me as I am on myself: thank you for the painful but pleasurable whipping that came with refining this story. You’ve pointed me in a direction that I never would have taken (or seen) on my own. All remaining mistakes and irregularities are mine. This is dedicated to the entire body of Janeway/Roslin lovers (to babylil for providing the initial prompts and radak for spouting such inspiring art on the pairing) and to the community mods at Livejournal who keep the soul of femslash going (that's you, projectjulie!). You have all been an inspiration.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Seaon one of BSG, all seasons of VOY.

The Weight of Numbers
By AsianScaper


...The Prime Directive is not just a set of rules; it is a philosophy... and a very correct one. History has proven again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous."

-- Captain Jean-luc Picard (ST TNG: "Symbiosis")


Part I

She emerged from her quarters, looking past her doors and into her bed where a long figure bunched the sheets together and groaned. A bare leg dangled elegantly from the side, blonde hair spread across the pillows, and a metal brow glinted against the star-light whenever she moved.

Seven needed her rest; the poor woman stumbled into Kathryn's arms at almost four in the morning, exhausted by a forty-hour work day that Kathryn had proscribed to anyone but the Borg.

Kathryn's doors closed and crew members greeted her as was customary. She noticed how their eyes glided over her and off, struggling with the new day as they returned to their conversations or to the purpose laid out on their PADDs.

There was something distinctly different from them and her, a childhood memory about the mangled tree…it punched her to wakefulness every morning.

She had been very young then.

A small Kathryn Janeway had stepped off a tree she had just scaled, only to be petrified at the sight of it being torn by lightning the next second. To take responsibility, to climb the tallest obstacle, and then, to witness the what-ifs and live through them for every second after. Those were the terrors of command and not something that many could endure.

She put a hand to her temple and tried to soothe herself. Kath, it's too early to be thinking like this. How about a cup of coffee?

She fetched a brew from the mess hall and stopped at the counter to talk to Neelix, the morale officer who was very delighted when she didn't decline his newest leola root creation. It was never polite to gag; she swallowed the concoction without chewing and downed it with a steaming mug before she headed to the bridge with a bitter taste in her mouth.

Today had been a routine skim through uncharted space, a day of sitting at the command chair, listening to Harry Kim's animated croon about this planet, that star, one little anomaly at the edge of that system or another.

She had counted on her crew for most things: for invaluable sanity, for camaraderie, and often enough, for portents. She supposed that a long time ago, when the lack of sensors and shields made life very dangerous in the vacuum, captains compiled predictions of tomorrow by watching how their bridge crew reacted.

Today was one such instance.

Her Vulcan security officer managed to sound slightly off-balance as news of unusual –and certainly alien –company streamed through the ship computers and out of Tuvok's mouth.

"Captain, we have multiple unknown readings on our sensors."

"Mr. Tuvok, red alert."

She should have paid more attention to portents when she saw them:

Harry preserved a frazzled innocence, his grown-up fervor hardening to the rhythm of the warning klaxon.

Paris licked his lips, and his face opened to the scene in bewilderment. Chakotay sidled up beside her, reinforcing her shadow with his own.

Tuvok, her pillar of serenity, leaned forward ever so slightly, his understated concern revealing an entire bible of caution.

Like a seer in a less advanced civilization, she had a nagging feeling that simply being here somehow pulled her into a vortex of unknowns.

She watched, fascinated, as ships dropped out of light, each one's light-trail fading into masses of dull metal.

From every corner of the view-screen, they flared in the vacuum until ships of every size and shape populated the entirety of space for miles around. The last of them faded into a behemoth, which lugged its weight as it coasted over Voyager's starboard side, a hulking, black whale in the sea of space.

She stared like she had that night her tree was struck by lightning, when thunder breached her courage and etched the scene into her memory.


Part II

Its systems were stuck in analogue, carting around technology that made Kathryn stare at Harry Kim's reports and decide that there was no way these people were stepping on her ship. They knew too little, and were probably too primitive to handle a transporter, a holodeck, much less a replicator. And there was the trouble of her crew being composed of a number of alien species.

But those lights…! Kathryn was interested in their ability to flip from one place to another instantaneously, folding space in a most unconventional manner.

Kathryn refused to speak further during the radio transmission until Commander Adama offered to arrange a meeting on his ship. The way he uttered that invitation over radio, as though agonizingly possessive of the Galactica, alerted Kathryn to something more than a plea for help. It wasn't just his certainty that something, or someone, was going to appear in thirty-three minutes to destroy them.

"I'm hoping that I'm not about to invite an enemy to bed." Desperation scraped against his voice, a hint of suspicion, too, but not nearly enough to discount hope. "Good people are hard to come by as it is and we could use any help you offer us."

"And I'd take any help you can offer us, Commander."

"Which would hardly be any; the most basic of commodities, like labor, have been drained. Captain, our enemies are less than thirty minutes away and you wouldn't want to be involved in the cross-fire."

"A little scuffle doesn't scare us."

Adama cleared his throat. "Oh, but the story of us, Captain, could hardly be considered a scuffle."

[Twenty-five minutes before the first jump]

She stepped onto Galactica's hangar deck, the Commander of the Battlestar squaring his shoulders as he greeted her, his voice low and abrasive from sleep-deprivation.

Bill Adama reminded Kathryn of older admirals, except Bill had been aged by war, by hiding, by running. His resolve reminded her of the biggest, most relentless ditch on Earth, and the way she and her father would traverse the expanse of the Grand Canyon regardless.

His circumstances were contrary to his training; he was built for the fight. The role of refugee-leader itched like an ill-fitting glove as he extended his hands in the universal gesture of peace.

"A pleasure, Commander," she began.

"The pleasure's all mine, Captain," he returned, his small smile out of place as the flight crew behind him studied her: their orange over-alls moist with sweat, tears, grief.

Bill Adama sized her up. "It's good to see we aren't alone."

The statement was honest –they didn't have time for anything else –and she accepted his hand like a brother's embrace, suddenly comforted by his presence and this ship's interminable humanity, which drowned her.

There were so many of them. Fifty-thousand. Everything about this encounter reminded her of Earth, it reminded her of herself, stumbling home with little else but obscure star charts and the reassurance of her crew.

As though on cue, as though peeking into her thoughts with his gray, calculating eyes, Bill gestured for her to follow him.

"I hope you don't mind being escorted." His politeness barely hid his desire to get things over and done with.

The man apparently disliked pomp and Kathryn tucked the thought in a safe place.

His second in command, whom he called his XO and who bared the tell-tale smog of alcohol every time he breathed, followed closely behind them.

"We haven't much time," Bill Adama was saying. "It's been five days –and they've been very difficult five days. The situation being as it is, we only have a few minutes to discuss whatever it is we have to."

"I understand, Commander."

Except that she didn't, and Bill Adama glanced at her doubtfully. They were supposed to be headed towards a briefing room and Bill, who was unable to wait any longer, steered her to what she assumed were his quarters. Once inside, Bill Adama took a seat and extracted a flagon of what smelled suspiciously like Tigh's poison.

"This," Bill said, pouring three glasses of the stuff, "is to wear the tension off and to get rid of formalities. If you don't mind, Captain?"

"No. Not at all."

"You see, I don't know how to give you the short version of our story in ten minutes and convince you of our problem. We've been running away from very dangerous enemies, very ruthless enemies." Kathryn steepled her hands together, an apt listener as Bill struggled with his words. He seemed hesitant to bare so much with so little time.

"We're refugees, Captain. Of war. In precisely thirty-three minutes from the last jump, the Cylons will have found us; that's barely enough time to brush your teeth, bathe, and wink."

Kathryn raised a brow. "The Cylons?"

"They're machines that we created; they rebelled and now they've massacred everyone. We're the remainders of our race. Our military strength was compromised during the attack and we've been running ever since…" As seconds turned to minutes, and Bill's story ran free like guilt in a confessional, the meeting miraculously slowed while they trudged toward the third-third mark.

He popped the ambrosia like a pill and offered her the liquid. Kathryn declined the first and last round of alcohol, watching as Bill placed the flagon deep into a crevice of books. Bill's eyes remained gray –and quiet –with unmentioned sins.

"You have to understand," he said gruffly, "that children act out revenge for a reason. We've paid the price for playing God a hundred times over. Too high a price."

"More than anyone would deserve," his XO insisted. "Billions of lives. Billions." The Colonel studied his shot-glass with a little too much fondness.

Kathryn was struck by an image of a lithe figure sleeping in the confines of her quarters, aware also of the ache it caused, her sudden need for contact in the midst of private wars.

When Seven emerged from the Hive, she knew and believed in its functions before adapting to the human way of life. But even then, encased in machinery, the Borg had their justifications for existence and nobody, not even Kathryn herself, could annihilate the Collective without due cause. The Cylons would have their reasons, as the Borg did.

There was an uncomfortable silence before a muffled voice tested Adama's door. "Captain? May I come in?"

"Just in time." Bill opened the hatch, gesturing for the dark-haired man to enter. "Doctor Gaius Baltar, meet Captain Kathryn Janeway of Voyager."

Dressed in a very comfortable jacket, his shirt slightly wrinkled with fastidious efforts at sleep, he seemed to shift as quickly as the shadows in the room. His eyes gathered the scene before him, holding conversations within himself as his attention wandered to her, stopped briefly on her, and concluded various postulates.

"You must be the visitor," he said lamely.

Dr. Gaius Baltar picked up the remaining glass of ambrosia meant for Kathryn and tipped it towards his lips. Arrogant, utterly confident, with just the bit of a nervous twitch for Kathryn to know that there was something very strange and very suspicious about this man.

Bill gathered his glasses from his desk, reaching out for the papers that Dr. Baltar had forgotten were in his hands.

"I'm sorry Commander, for being quite late," he said, surrendering what seemed to be pieces of a report. "The Colonial One has only just docked and I made my way here as fast as I could."

Bill read the papers, ignoring Baltar's reasons for tardiness, and without once looking up, addressed her, "You're probably a very intelligent, very capable woman, Captain."

"I'd prefer you didn't patronize me."

Tigh frowned, and Kathryn had the distinct feeling that the Commander's XO didn't like the way she had so casually given Adama a piece of her mind.

"Of course not," Bill said.

Those pieces of paper didn't seem to affect Bill, even if they should have –any captain or commander would have sized up all that information against their own needs. Kathryn knew she would. If, for instance, that report had given her the facts about the Colonial Fleet's jump system, which enabled them to circumvent warp space completely, she would be proposing trade of some sort. But what kind of real help could she offer them in return?

"Well," the Commander started, breathing through his lips. He leaned against his table and crossed his arms, warding himself from whatever Kathryn represented. "You aren't Cylon."

"Of course she isn't!" Gaius Baltar blurted, slapping a hand onto Bill's desk.

They all looked at him askance and he blinked, his head tilting to his left, towards an unseen presence.

"Of course she isn't," he repeated, this time more softly. "Obviously, just looking at the configuration of her ship's engines and the way they utilize energy in a fashion that topples our charts, all known charts…no, she isn't a Cylon and neither is that ship."

Kathryn sighed, suddenly tired. "I should have known that our pleasant overtures and our gestures of peace wouldn't convince you of our good intentions."

"I'm sorry, Captain. But we're living in very dangerous times."

"Yes. You haven't failed to mention that earlier." Kathryn fought the temptation to glare at him.

"So Captain Janeway, what do you have in mind?"

"I'd like to accompany you on your next jump."

Tigh stood from his place, fire erupting in his posture. "Bill…" he said with the warning in his voice.

Gaius Baltar stiffened in his seat, swatting the space beside him as he muttered under his breath. He looked at her as an engineer would a strange piece of machinery, calculating its advantages and if, in some way, it could think for itself and read his mind. What a strange fellow, Kathryn thought. Maybe he should see a doctor. A medical one.

"You're welcome to join us, Captain. We could always learn something from observation." Bill raised his hand to stop his XO from interrupting further. "I'll have Lieutenant Gaeta give you the coordinates to our next jump. I can't, however, assure your safety onboard my ship, as yours is…superior and Cylon technology hasn't failed to kill some of us every thirty-three minutes. We are the Fleet's only means of defense."

"I'll communicate your concerns to my people."

The phone in his cabin began to ring and Bill Adama reached sideways for the instrument. After a few seconds, Bill Adama turned to her.

"You'll be meeting the President of the Twelve Colonies shortly while I oversee the next jump and I'm hoping that…something can be done about these Cylons."

Ah, ah, Commander. You've hoping that we, the Federation, can do something about your Cylons.

"President Roslin will meet you in the briefing room. If you would kindly follow me before I return to the bridge?"

"Gladly, Commander." She was to be handed over to her next interrogator and this one would probably squeeze her for all that she was worth. These men were tired, but not nearly desperate enough to resort to dastardly scheming.

They stepped out of his quarters, walking in silence before Bill said, "I'd have to warn you that Laura could be a bit…shall we say, forceful."

"Now you're warning me?"

"I don't like politics very much. And she's new to all this. She may come off a little strong."


Bill was unable to underemphasize the last two words. "She was a school teacher."

"And that gives her a certain edge," Kathryn finished for him but her tone was meant to tell him that Kathryn had certainly dealt with worse.

"That's not exactly what I was going to say."

"Commander, Starfleet instructors were in a league of their own and I was a very capable student."

"Then I should say I'm not worried," he said, his first, honest smile directed at her as he led her to the briefing room.


Part III

[Thirteen minutes before the first jump]

Commander Adama left her at the door, telling her that her ship should receive the Fleet's next coordinates shortly. From then, she wasn't to worry about anything.

Other thoughts were trampling her brain, however. During her brief walk here, she noticed that a dangerous tension hung in the air of the ship. It slithered through the corridors, up into the bulges of light hanging over thin buttresses and down the gray walls. As she delved deep into the winding passageways of the Galactica, traveling into its gut, she could see the tones of its fatigue.

An unpleasant anxiety began to nudge at her and she was secretly horrified that the Prime Directive flashed before her eyes.

Mutinous thoughts puttered in her brain: that the human body could only take so much. That Bill had a breaking point. That the crew stared with saturated dreams. That they were human. That they were dying.

That to hell with the Prime Directive because she said so.

She opened the hatch and green eyes that stared directly at her reiterated her last thought.

Kathryn forgot to breathe for a moment, reminded of her father, her mother, and even herself in one fell swoop of memory.

The woman harked back to Vice Admiral Janeway, who scaled frighteningly steep cliff faces while he lectured his daughter on Starfleet protocol. Kathryn didn't prefer the outdoors, but there was something about that trip to the Grand Canyon which embedded itself in her brain. Was it her father's fearlessness? His insistence on being right?

The President's smile wasn't forced, but it didn't reach her eyes either. Death hovered about her like a companion, imparting the hard, pragmatic desire for survival.

"Captain Kathryn Janeway," President Laura Roslin said, clasping her hand. "My name is Laura Roslin, President of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol. But please, call me Laura."

Laura Roslin didn't let go of her very quickly. Her fingers were soft as she studied the backside of Kathryn's hand.

Voyager's Captain allowed the touch, curious as to what prompted Roslin's actions.

"You don't strike me as very machine-like," Laura finally told her as she released her hand.

"I've been getting that a lot," Kathryn returned, "but no. I'm not a Cylon."

Laura entertained her with a quick smile and Kathryn thought that if the woman ever met Seven, if any of them did…then her precious Borg would've been chucked out of an airlock without question. Simply for her implants, simply for being less human in certain aspects.

Their fear stank like air in a ship with crippled ventilation.

To Kathryn's mind, the atmosphere turned sour just as briefly when the President raised a folder –not unlike the one which contained Dr. Baltar's report –and put it pointedly on the table before her.

"Please, Captain. Take a seat."

Kathryn obliged her by sitting, allowing the woman to create the space of negotiation.

"I'm pleased to hear that you're staying for the duration of the jump."

"Yes. Nothing quite like the rush of experience."

"And the wisdom to be gathered after," Laura added. "Jumping isn't pleasant but I've grown used to the nausea. Well, that and the nausea involved in seeing people die every few minutes on my watch." Laura paused, for dramatic effect or simple contemplation, Kathryn didn't know. "There won't be anything left of us if this continues."

It wasn't always wise to lay one's cards out, much less explain them, even with that blasted folder lying there. Kathryn's cards were contained in Baltar's report. The President seemed to know this, figuratively dangling the folder between them.

Kathryn also knew the she had other things under her Captain's sleeve besides the obvious strength of Voyager's technology. Starfleet didn't exactly equip their captains with the skills of politicians but there were those –like Captain Picard –who wielded them with enviable moxie. Kathryn liked to think that her human heritage afforded her enough skill; or something that Laura wouldn't wheedle out of her with invincibility.

Laura took her seat opposite Kathryn. She licked her lips, perhaps in apprehension, perhaps in mild confusion but her hand was on top of the folder while the other remained hidden under the desk.

"How do I explain any of this?" Laura asked, almost to herself, her green eyes burning through her spectacles as she waited for Kathryn to articulate the undercurrents of tension.

"I think Commander Adama explained your situation thoroughly enough."

"I'm sure he did but Bill Adama, a commander in the military, wouldn't and couldn't know half of what goes on in his fleet," Laura said. "That's why there is a government and a military, and not one corrugated mess."

Kathryn smiled; she was beginning to like Laura Roslin in spite of herself. Intelligent. Strong. A tad manipulative. In a body that seemed supple and at the same time, more real than the voices that reminded her of what Kathryn stood for. Her father had been one of those, reiterating facts about democracies and freedom.

Laura continued, "We're probably going to dance around each other if I didn't give you some headway…" Kathryn's lips twitched in a knowing, if a bit offensive, smile but President Roslin pushed forward with fortitude that made Kathryn very grateful of the table between them. "I'd have you by our side, Captain. An alliance, if you will."

"You have to understand, Madame President that the Federation cannot and will not interfere. Our Prime Directive explicitly states that we stay away from internal, and especially political, conflicts such as yours. And that this war with the Cylons is internal… Your people created them Madame President."

Cocking her head sideways, Laura removed her glasses and set them on the table. "Captain, I don't think I can take no for an answer, Prime Directive or no Prime Directive."

"I suggest you take steps to endure them, Laura," Kathryn said.

"And if you should witness the death of thousands of our people?"

"We'll take steps to stop them if they fire on our ship; we can, in fact, act as mediators, but only if the Cylons themselves agree. Besides that, we can't get in the way."

"So you're saying that… you would allow the Cylons to commit genocide than save thousands of lives?"

Kathryn's gaze hardened.

"Well, that's very interesting," Laura continued, not waiting for her answer, "but it's also very cruel."

Kathryn's inner voice offered a rebellious, I know…

Laura stood, walking around the room with her arms akimbo for a full minute, and Kathryn allowed the other woman to digest the situation. As though banking on a new-found strength, Laura pursed her lips and crossed over to Kathryn's side of the table.

Laura took the seat beside her. "I guess we're pretty much in the same quandary we were in when we first started," Laura said, ticking off the inches between them with the lull of her voice.

It was a masterful touch –softening like that; one that caught Kathryn off-guard. She found her hand reaching towards Laura's forearm, providing comfort in much the same way she did with her own crew.

They were pulled rudely from the moment when an officer's voice reverberated in the comm. system, alerting the crew of the impending jump and the measures to be taken. Battle stations! Battle stations!

A red alert.

Her communicator chittered. "Tuvok to the Captain."

"Janeway here."

"Captain, the sensors are reading a large ship with a slightly more advanced configuration than the Galactica. I suspect that these are the Cylons we have been warned about."

Kathryn simply stared at the President with resolve, with a challenge that dared the President to question her motives. "I've decided to stay on the Galactica for their jump."

"That isn't very wise, Captain."

"And time's of the essence, Tuvok. You had better jump to warp if you want to catch up to us."

"As you wish. Tuvok out."

Breathing deeply and knowing, in some hinter part of her, that this temporary stay on Galactica was penance for her refusal to help them, Kathryn said, "Madame President. I'm sorry we can't do anything more for your people."

There was a barely hidden wrath in the way Laura squeezed Kathryn's arm. "If you were sorry, Captain, none of this would be happening. If you were sorry, Captain, you wouldn't be here with us; you'd be out there, on your ship, helping us. I suggest you pray that we come out of this unscathed and that the gods have mercy on you, for all the things you could have done."

The lights flickered back to life, dimming as the Galactica pitched under a Cylon attack. Not that Kathryn could see these Cylons right now; she had ordered Harry Kim to launch a probe and record the entirety of the attack; footage to be studied later in the loneliness of her guilt.

"Madame President, are you sure you don't want to return to your ship?" Kathryn's tone was humble, a student who had just recently been reprimanded by her teacher.

There was a hint of mockery in Laura's voice. "No. There's no need. My ship's docked here and Galactica's probably the safest place to be in right now. Besides yours."

A pause, as an officer's voice started the countdown.


Laura said, "Did you know, Captain..." Nine. "That this same instance…" Eight. "Has happened more than two hundred times…" Seven. "In the past five days?" Six.

Kathryn swallowed, the tension clenching in her stomach, the fear engulfing her senses as the Galactica rocked under another blow to its hull and the dull screeches of metal filled her ears. Five. Then, she saw something in Laura's eyes; a hope that perhaps, the next thirty-three minutes wouldn't harbor such horror.


Kathryn now understood their kind of mental exhaustion, affected by two hundred hopes bashed when the clock hit the thirty-third mark.


More than two hundred of these. The awful weight!

Kathryn's voice managed to be calm, if a bit humorous. "Yes, I'm aware of how many times." Two. "Math's been one of my better points and I had the best teachers."


Everything stretched outwards, into the fabric the universe was made of and Kathryn felt herself lurch closer towards Laura's space, ensconcing her before snapping back, like a piece of rubber on a slingshot.

Kathryn was stuck with the notion that they hadn't traveled at all. Nothing seemed different except for Laura's disheveled hair and the fact that Kathryn had somehow scooted closer to the nearest reference point in an effort to make the jump's effects of disorientation go away. Laura's face was suddenly inches away from hers.

They stared at each other.

A wave of guilt pressed into her. Thoughts of Seven lay untouched, while she ogled intently at a face lined with worries, at green eyes heavy with the tangle of lives, and lips that looked soft, notwithstanding.

Quite unlike the youth of Seven's skin and dark, blue eyes that streamed inwards like an ocean, swallowing her whole as they hungered for knowledge, and reassurance, and Kathryn's human touch.

"I'm sorry," Kathryn said, stepping away before imbalance forced her to grab the arm of a chair and sit. Tipsiness was a good approximation of what she felt.

"I was hoping you'd be sorrier than that." Laura was probably referring to their charged conversation a few minutes before.

"You're a slave-driver," Kathryn scoffed.

"I know." She straightened, collecting the contents of the folder which had slipped from her grasp. "Now, where were we?"

[First jump executed]


Part IV

[Eighteen minutes after the first jump]

Astrometrics was hallowed ground, a place to vent her frustrations. She sought solace in star charts when her quarters didn't provide any.

Kathryn had spent the first ten minutes after the first jump with a woman who would have stooped to begging if she wasn't keen on teaching Kathryn a lesson. Kathryn had also familiarized the President with Voyager's predicament, the Caretaker and how Kathryn had made the difficult decision of saving the Ocampan homeworld, only to strand her crew decades from home. During which, she accepted Laura's sympathy and saw her face emulating Kathryn's in its expressions of loss, unbearable responsibility, and interminable hope.

It was strangely comforting to find someone with the same burdens, so very far away from home, and it was also fascinating to know that Laura Roslin would have done things differently.

Right now, ten minutes away from a second jump that Kathryn wanted desperately to witness from her ship, Kathryn found herself intruding on Seven's work.

Just as well. The Borg was a comforting sight and Kathryn reached out to take her waist, kissing her neck with reverence.

"Kathryn," Seven acknowledged, the starburst on her face providing ample distraction.

Out with it, Kath. "I need your advice."

The former Borg raised a brow before turning from Kathryn to her calculations. Kathryn took it as her cue, sidling up beside Seven and making a show of inspecting her latest work, keeping her touch on Seven as she moved..

"I understand, Kathryn that you have other duties to attend to." The tone-less voice had a shade of reprimand and in Kathryn's trained ear, just the right shade of banter.

"Yes. I am a bit pressed for time," Kathryn said, trying to keep Seven at her vision's peripheral as Kathryn stared at the screen and the stars being charted there. The Captain leaned against a console, one hand on her hip. "Seven, I'm sorry to bring this up at such an inopportune time…"

"If you mean to discuss my actions with regards to Species 8472 and the Hirogen…" Seven seemed altogether detached from the event but Kathryn remembered the circumstances that surrounded it all too well. That, and the mind-blowing tumble under the sheets that came after. "I have no regrets Captain. I deemed it necessary to save the crew by returning the creature to the Hirogen hunting party, even as it was against its wishes."

Utterly unapologetic. The former drone's conscience was clear and Kathryn found a grudging respect for Seven's clarity of mind.

But Kathryn needed her own brand of peace. "If only this bit about the Colonial fleet was just as easy."

"It is never 'easy'," Seven said. "But certain decisions have to be made for the good of the crew."

"And if I break my own rules?"

"Those are your rules, Captain, not mine."

Up until this moment, Kathryn didn't know if she should feel horrified or grateful that Seven said what she did. Kathryn's own rules included a sweeping monogamy that had somehow fallen short during her meetings with Laura Roslin.

Standing beside Seven, basking in that serene aura of hers and relishing her attention, Kathryn reminded herself that she had no intention of compromising her relationship with the younger woman.

It seemed she would have to settle for feeling both horror and gratitude at this point. Her half-Borg had learned the finer points of individuality, formulated her own tenets, and stood by them like an able human being. Kathryn had only herself to blame; she was Seven's teacher and there would come a time when a student would eventually outdo her mentor.

"Thank you for your time, Seven. Now if you will excuse me..."

Seven only nodded her head, tilting forward to meet Kathryn's lips in a farewell. The Captain savored the ardor passive there and pulled away regretfully before stepping out of Astrometrics.

Before the doors closed behind her, she heard Seven say with hesitance, "There are certain principles –rules even –that 'hold you up' as an individual and as a race; and these, I believe, should never be compromised."

Kathryn smiled to herself. "Duly noted, Seven. Duly noted."

"Are they responding to hails?"

"No sir." So, they were being summarily ignored.

Kathryn stared grimly at the view screen, her fingers tight on Tom Paris' shoulder as he steered Voyager clear of the line of fire.

It was an ominous shape, protruding at the edges like two starfish placed on top of each other. Their design had a more organic quality; the Cylon Basestar had an odd, fluid beauty to it.

"Sir? Your orders?" Harry Kim's hands were poised over his console.

"We watch and wait."

Time stretched as they observed for changes, noticing only that the Fleet was positioning itself for multiple jumps.

"Sir, the Cylon ship is commencing an attack. Seventy-three Cylon fighters under way."

She could see the Colonial One veer to the right, putting the Galactica between itself and the Cylon ship while it spun its FTL drives. Vipers swarmed from Galactica's belly towards the waiting beast and its sentinels

The Fleet began to disappear as the Galactica turned its cannons to the approaching Cylon fighters and began a barrage of firepower.

Kathryn stood, unable to move from her place as explosions flared in the vacuum.

…the gods have mercy on you, for all the things you could have done.

There were human beings out there, piloting what Kathryn could only equate to flying cans that made Voyager's shuttles look like a leap of inconceivable technology. Those same Vipers engaged their Cylon counterparts and Kathryn visibly flinched as one, two…then three Vipers burst like grapes underfoot.

Kathryn could understand Laura Roslin's insistence on Federation help, even if certain rules were to be broken. The Cylons possessed an efficiency that stood in direct contrast to Galactica's firing solution. Human pilots had the extra advantage of being unpredictable but skill and creativity did little to compensate in the face of sheer number.

As lives ceased to exist with every second that Kathryn refused to lift a finger because of the same beliefs that had stranded her crew in the Delta Quadrant… she peered into the windows of Colonial One, daring the other woman to speak to her, to hail her over the comm., if only to convince her one last time of the futility of watching.

Laura Roslin did exactly that.

"Sir," Kim said. "Colonial One is hailing us."

A moment's hesitation before, "Open the channel, Ensign."

Laura's voice flowed from the comm.; it was comfortable with persuasion, devious in a soft, lilting way, "Colonial One to Voyager, this is President Roslin. Captain Janeway, if you can hear me, I implore you to reconsider your actions or rather, your inaction. There is always a way to negotiate an exchange, and perhaps, in all this, we may provide something that you need."

"Would you mind clarifying, Madame President?"

"I'm referring to eliminating delays in your manner of travel. I'm referring to sharing our jump systems with you."

Kathryn's breath hitched as Colonial One disappeared in a flash of light.

"Sir, the Basestar is now within missile range of the Galactica," Kim reported. "Firing three nuclear warheads. Impact in twenty seconds."

Laura's words continued to echo in her ears as the projectiles snuck out like tendrils from an octopus' underside, their tails shearing a vaporous path through space as the last of the Fleet's ships pounced out of the way and into territory as uncharted as this.

Galactica gathered its fleeing Vipers like it would its young while a piece of its port side flared open as a missile snuck from their defenses and rammed into thick, metal plating.

How everything was turning out made her doubt her own capacity for compassion and good.

All the things I could have done…

"Ensign Kim, open a channel to all frequencies."


"Open a channel, Ensign!"

Harry Kim hurriedly obliged. "Channel open, Captain."

She couldn't possibly be thinking straight because Chakotay strode from his place to stand beside her, clutching her arm in a grip that told her to think of what she was about to do.

She didn't think. She only spoke. "Voyager to Cylon vessel. I am Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager. You will cease hostilities immediately! If you continue to fire upon the Colonial Fleet…"

The Battlestar suddenly winked in a dazzle of light. And was gone.

"The Galactica's jumped out of normal space, Captain."

She stood, paralyzed, realizing the implications of her address. But in a voice that covered much of her self-doubt and even more of her crew's inquiry, she said, "Follow the Colonials out, Mr. Paris. And don't look back."

"Aye, aye, Captain."

[Second jump executed]


Part V

[Nine minutes after the second jump]

The CAG officer who greeted her upon landing was refreshingly young; he welcomed her onboard with a bedraggled voice and excited eyes, insistent on escorting her while Kara 'Starbuck' Thrace, another pilot, looked at his prepped Viper and at him expectedly.

Starbuck spoke automatically, "I should invite you to a game at the officer's quarters if we weren't falling all over ourselves because we haven't slept and because the Old Man needs us in the air." Lee Adama started to lead Kathryn away, a hand on her elbow. "And I bet I can win three times in a row with a good night's sleep. Or without it. Hey Lee, when do you think we could start playing cards again?"

Lee whispered an aside to Kathryn, "She's gone as far as inviting the President. And the Old Man. I hear that the good doctor's joined the tables once or twice already."

Captain Lee Adama laughed into tired spaces, chasing exhaustion away as he smiled at Kara affectionately and told Kathryn that the pilots had barely enough time to keep hygiene in check before slipping back into dank, uncomfortable cockpits; so please excuse Kara for being so rude.

His appeal extended to his looks; he would've sent her heart a-flutter if she'd been a little younger, less experienced, and less rigid with her captaincy. The young man also gave her the impression that he was fiercely loyal to the President, giving Laura Roslin a proper military salute when he left Kathryn at the briefing room door.

Now, she once again found herself alone with the President of the Twelve Colonies, suffering under the righteousness of her gaze.

Laura's first overture was blunt. "Your technology for ours."

Kathryn slightly remembered her conversation with Tuvok, reprimanding him about delays as the first jump was executed, and how Laura must have heard everything.

"Laura, I'm sorry to have to say this, but no."

"You're a staunch believer of making life very hard for both our people."

Kathryn frowned. "I'm a Starfleet officer. You're…you. This isn't about making life difficult."

Laura tapped her fingers on the table, shifting the focus of the conversation by saying, "You know, Bill's resigned to that fact. He thinks talking to you about helping us with the Cylons is a waste of time."

"He's right in that regard."

"Really? Well, his son Lee told me different." Laura tilted her head sideways, inviting Kathryn to contradict her next words. "Captain Lee Adama's recording of your last transmission on an open channel was distinctly un-Starfleet-like."

Kathryn felt completely flat-footed and her pathetic stammer was inevitable. "How did you…?"

"The Captain and I are…friends. And I like details." Laura didn't bother to react towards Kathryn's raised eyebrow. "Now please explain the recording."

"It was a…lapse in judgment."

"You don't sound very convinced, Captain."

Kathryn wanted desperately to change the subject. "Call me Kathryn, please."

"Alright. Kathryn then."

Laura studied her for a moment before standing up. The Colonies' flags were lined up neatly behind a white board, she walked across the twelve standards and then back to the middle, taking a pen from a table and exposing its tip, poising the instrument over the writing surface. Her tongue on her upper lip, she wrote down a number. 50,132.

"This was us two-hundred-twenty jumps ago. We lose an average of one to two people for every other jump, pilots mostly, and servicemen." She erased the number. "Assuming we jump accurately each time, the gods know that we'll probably all be dead before another week.

"Galactica has a crew compliment of one thousand; they endure the heaviest loss, sometimes the only losses, and running a skeleton crew in these conditions isn't an option. You can't replace them with civilians. Without this ship we'd all die in an instant so you understand, Captain that we can't keep this up."

She sat perched on the table beside Kathryn's chair, putting the pen forward and nodding to it. "You can dictate these numbers very easily if you chose to."

The pain in Laura's eyes traced Kathryn's scars –hundreds which spanned the Delta Quadrant –and if Kathryn could connect with this woman, ease Laura's burdens with her touch if only for a moment, perhaps that would be one service she could afford the Colonies. Kathryn put a hand on Laura's thigh, closing the proximity between them and noticing a very human warmth, quite unlike the cold expanse of metal on the same area on Seven's thigh.

"Laura, I don't want to play God. I can't. Not with your people and not with anyone else. The Prime Directive is there for a reason; it is lodged at the core of my training and if I abandon it, if I simply take it off like a piece of clothing, only to put it on again, I would never forgive myself; I probably wouldn't recognize the person I'd become."

Laura she reached into her pocket, staring at Kathryn with a pity diluted only by her admiration.

Kathryn's hand moved from Laura's thigh and gently gripped Laura's wrist as it emerged from the folds of her skirt. The President was trembling and it took a while for Kathryn to help her pry her fist open.

A piece of paper.

Kathryn took it and a dull pain slammed into her gut as the numbers fell from the sheet and into her consciousness. 49,987. Above it were greater numbers that decreased at every interval, crossed out two hundred twenty times.

"There are some things, Captain," Laura said, "that you may have to do that offend your sense of wrong and right. You carry them with you every single day but I can't afford to mourn our dead. I can only strive relentlessly for those who still remain."

Kathryn's brow tightened and she folded the paper into the size her of palm. Her voice was soft. "I won't say this again but I will say it one last time. I can't help you Madame President. I wouldn't, not in the way you're asking of me. The Cylons haven't responded to our hails, they haven't harmed us at all and we won't resort to underhanded attempts to provoke them to do so."

"How do you do it?" Laura said softly. "Making your life hard to live and nearly impossible to preserve for us?"

Kathryn put a hand on Laura's cheek, aware that this had turned strangely intimate and not without good reason. There were thousands of lives between them and years of experience that Kathryn imagined would've made for engaging conversation. Certainly, of a different sort from those that invigorated her in Seven's presence.

Laura closed her eyes, leaning into the comfort of Kathryn's palm as a tear fell onto the skin of Kathryn's hand. "You remind me of a man I used to know," she said. "He was the President of the Colonies before me, Richard Adar."

"So I see you like older men after all," Kathryn joked.

"They have their uses." Laura had an impish glint to her eye. "There are times that I prefer Bill's company to Lee's and even Kara's…" Kathryn tried very hard not to register surprise at the mention of the woman's name. "But my private life remains private, Kathryn, as yours so exasperatingly is."

She took Kathryn's hand from her cheek, her eyes tracing the lines of fortune that streaked from Kathryn's fingers and down to the circle of her wrist. "And then, there's this. I can't believe I wasted three jumps on you."

They smiled at each other, reconciling a universe of differences by virtue of their similarities, their conscientiousness, their compassion. A mutual admiration that could, given time, have born titillating emotions.

But as it was, there was no time and Kathryn answered, "I know I didn't waste three jumps on your people and certainly not on you."

Bill Adama wasn't present when the Colonial Fleet bid its final farewell, conveying his regrets and a civil disregard for anyone who wouldn't help his cause. Instead, Kathryn found herself accompanied by citizens and a media crew, shaking Laura's hand, unable to let go, both of her and the numbers in her pocket.

Drawing the Captain close, Laura whispered conspiratorially into Kathryn's ear. "This isn't the best time but I ought to kiss your cheek as a sign of good will."

"Help yourself."

Their lips grazed each other's skin. "And if I kissed you…" Kathryn's eyes focused on Laura's mouth. "Elsewhere?"

Laura's expression was utterly grave. "I'd never forgive you." Her lips twitched. "Unless you're willing to somehow forget your Federation roots."

Kathryn smiled sadly. "Fair enough, but no."

An embrace, a few more words, and Kathryn was on her shuttle, peering past the view-ports and into Laura's eyes, hoarding her memories of the President with a single look as the vehicle hovered from the bay and marched into space.


Part VI

Kathryn's hands were rolled into fists as she stepped into her quarters.

Seven was waiting for her at the bath, simmering in a fusion of aromatic oils that made the woman's skin glisten and warmed Kathryn's senses. Kathryn's muscles muttered their desire to wade, aching as the pressures of the day made themselves apparent.

Seven's expression was curious. She was sprawled underneath the lather, inviting Kathryn's presence into the bath…but not quite.

Her voice was coldly neutral. "You didn't break any rules, did you Captain?"

"Unfortunately, no."

"But you have broken certain directives for me."

"Yes, I have." Kathryn gave her a tender look, reminded of Seven's innocence and then belatedly, of her keen sense of observation.

Seven's expression didn't change. "Would you have broken them for Laura Roslin?"

"Do you want the truth?"


Kathryn took her boots off, slowly depositing them beside the door as she lowered herself to the floor and sat by the tub. She leaned against the tub's rim and sitting with Seven eye to eye, Kathryn told her lover, "Given time, yes."

Seven gave her a long-suffering look and her arm emerged from the bath. She took Kathryn's neck, pressing gently as she moved to unzip Kathryn's uniform. Not a moment too soon, Kathryn found herself sobbing into Seven's embrace.

"It's so hard, Seven. So very, very hard. How could I have just abandoned them? How…?" A sharp rock pressed against the walls of her stomach. "Oh Seven, all the things I could have done!"

"I know," the half-drone said, kissing Kathryn's forehead as the Captain wept. "I know."

Her body wracked with sobs, Kathryn's hand fell limp on the floor. A single piece of paper fluttered out from her outstretched hand.


Kathryn doubted anyone would ever forget, she most of all.

[In Galactica's CIC]

Commander Adama breathed the words like a prayer. "Lieutenant Gaeta, start the clock."

Nobody spoke of the strangers who lived in that inverted saucer of a ship. Nobody could, not ever.

Voyager was a dream; it knocked at the shut doors of their consciousness, carved trails past their nightmares. Kept them deliriously awake. Its memory and its destination made them revolutionaries at the cusp of an upheaval, plugging their despair while they steered their destinies to Kobol.

The End

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