8-2 - Snakes in the Grass
By: Clare009 (email@example.com)
Disclaimer: Star Trek: Voyager, its
characters and related properties are Registered Trademarks of
Paramount Pictures. No infringement of Paramount's copyrights
is intended. Voyager Virtual Season 8 (VS8) is a non-profit endeavor.
The unique characters and milieu of VS8 are the property of the
VS8 producers and individual authors. This story is the property
of the author. Please do not repost without permission.
of Nine could hear dripping. She did not know where the sound
was coming from or why it was there, but that sound seemed to
be consistent with the place. The subdued lighting threw harsh
lines against metallic brown walls and the room was all sharp
angles. If this place was built to convey a message, then that
message was 'pain'. Already, fear was beginning to jumble up inside
the former Borg's stomach and cause her muscles to throb with
since the doctor had removed the fail-safe device that had been
placed in her microcircuitry by the Borg, Seven had been free
to experience the full range of her emotions. Learning to control
them was going to be difficult. Fear was something she had encountered
before. When the Admiral had told her she was going to die she
hadn't been prepared for the depth of emotion it had raised in
her, but this was completely different. Here, with her hands tied
tightly and strung up over her head, she was coming to understand
the fear of the unknown in a very real way. Gory visions of endless
possibilities marched through her brain and provoked her to irritation
at the futility of her panic. The next few hours were not going
to be comfortable ones.
doors at the far end of the cold room slid open. A tall, skeletal
man walked in. He was Cardassian, species 5731 - a race that had
added several dimensions to the Collective's views on cruelty
and deception. The man, who walked up to Seven of Nine and confronted
her with a wide, cheerless smile, seemed to be the epitome of
those two words. When she had heard about the contact that had
been made with the Cardassian ship, she had not experienced the
involuntary shudder or the knee-jerk anger that others had. But
now, faced with this man, their reactions did not seem so illogical.
again, drone," he spoke in velvet tones. "I never realized
that the Borg could look so... tasty." He raised a gray finger
and dragged it across Seven's cheek.
recoiled and looked at him in disgust. "I wish to speak to
my captain," she stated boldly, although her guts were taut
Cardassian clicked his tongue. "That won't be possible. Will
I have to tell you again?" Without warning, he raised his
arm and savagely struck her face with the back of his hand. His
rough skin ripped at her cheek and caused blood to spill down
in contrast to her pale skin.
gritted her teeth under his assault, but the physical pain was
the easier part to bear.
can do this with or without your cooperation, but I will get what
I want eventually." The Cardassian cupped her face in his
hands and pushed his thumb into the cut on her cheek. He leaned
in close so that she could smell his acidic breath and whispered,
"I would prefer it if you didn't cooperate."
man was not at all logical or consistent. Seven paled. She thought
that he wanted to use her to gain knowledge of Borg technology.
Now, she was uncertain. It seemed that his motives were far murkier.
Cardassian pulled back abruptly and walked over to the wall. He
placed his hand on the wall and a panel revolved around to reveal
a small, steel hand basin and faucet. He waved his hand under
the faucet and clean water streamed out, and then he rinsed the
red blood into the basin that had stained his thumb.
liquid on Seven's cheek grew cold while the pain of it dulled
to an ache.
would be my pleasure to continue this conversation at a later
time, but for now, I have to play the gallant to your lovely Captain
Janeway. I won't be sending your regards, however." The man's
smile made her skin prick with discomfort. He turned and walked
to the door without looking back at her and Seven knew that the
time until his return would be spent in irrelevant anxiety over
what he was capable of doing to her.
Log, Stardate 55006.2:
been over a week since the events that have lead us to this accursed
place and we still don't know where we are. I have had Seven of
Nine work constantly on the astrometric data, but our calculations
and charts can make no sense of the stars we see. I don't know
whether or not we are in our own galaxy, but surely not even the
Borg have arms that stretch into the distant parts of the universe.
corridors aside, our situation is dismal. I have yet to address
the crew as a whole about where we stand, because I do not even
know where that is! The crew we rescued from the Pleiades is recovering
from the loss of their vessel and their crewmates as much as from
their injuries. I want to reassure them, tell them everything
will be okay, but I have been in this situation for a long time;
false words are empty. My own crew is tense, but I hope the repairs
that Voyager was desperate for have distracted them. B'Elanna
has been put on maternity leave, but still manages to get the
Engineering staff into action. Everything, except for the new
ablative armor, is back in functional order, if not peak efficiency.
might be lost, but at least we are not alone. Coming across the
Cardassian warship was unexpected and disturbing to some, but
I believe it is a good omen that their captain took a non-confrontational
stance. I am cautious about trusting Gul Jakat, but, ironically,
his presence puts me somewhat at ease. The fact that there is
a Cardassian vessel out here could mean that we are not too far
from Federation Space. The Gul wishes to discuss things in a 'civilized'
manner, so I have agreed to a meeting on his ship. Decisions will
be made afterwards, but for now I will hold my breath.
leaned back in her chair and contemplated the calmness of her
own voice. She wondered if, years from now, archivists would find
the record and marvel at how sure and in control she sounded.
Understatement was the cardinal rule in creating a formal log,
but, in reality, the universe had gone crazy on her. She was still
gasping for air after their last and final encounter with the
Borg, and the victory that seemed to be hers, handed to her by
herself, no less, and brought out on the shiny platter that was
Earth. They had been so close that she could almost smell the
salt of the oceans.
the Admiral have made her sacrifice if she had known where they
would end up? But, how could she know? Her choice had been informed
by what she knew and wherever they were now, it probably hadn't
been part of the Admiral's future. Or was that past?
her head at the paradox, Janeway reached for her cup and took
a sip of the bitter liquid. Life was becoming a bitter pill to
swallow. At least the Admiral's plan to rescue her family had
succeeded on several points: Tuvok, after the mind meld with his
wife, was on his way to recovery. Seven of Nine would not die
on an away mission in the Delta Quadrant and Chakotay... Ever
since they had escaped from the destabilized corridor, Janeway
had been showing serious signs of First Officer Avoidance Behavior.
There were just too many questions that she had no desire to address
at this time and, of course, Chakotay was pressing her to make
an official announcement to the crew about their current status.
didn't know what the hell their 'current status' was and there
was no way she was going to admit to the crew that Voyager was
lost. Again. The irony of it almost made her laugh. She had not
laughed at Paris's quip that they had now entered 'The Twilight
reached up to tap her combadge. "Janeway to Seven of Nine."
She waited for the former-Borg's response, but none came. She
spoke with slight irritation in her voice, "Computer, where
is Seven of Nine?"
of Nine is in Commander Chakotay's quarters," the simulated
voice stated blandly.
sharp frown crossed Janeway's features. It was one thing that
this dalliance of theirs was being conducted after hours, but
Seven was supposed to be working in Astrometrics. She decided
that she needed to confront both of them about keeping their minds
on their duties. Now was certainly not the time to indulge in
gratuitous self-fulfillment when there were more important things
to be done. She could understand why Seven, who really was emotionally
immature, could not be blamed, but she thought that the commander
should know better.
back the remains of her coffee, Janeway put the mug down with
a decisive thud, and made her way to the side door of her ready
room which would take her into the corridor without the trouble
of crossing the bridge. Tuvok was already in charge there.
may I do for you, Ensign?" Voyager's Emergency Medical Hologram
walked out of his office and into the main area of sickbay. Harry
Kim was standing in the middle if the room with a slightly distracted
expression. "Another bout of that Vulcan flu that's been
going around? Or is it a twinge of the gastronomical sort?"
jumped slightly at the doctor's tone. The EMH wasn't considered
the best authority on bedside manner, but over the years, the
holographic man's program had expanded enough to include sympathy
and a touch of tact. Those were subroutines that he seemed to
be ignoring lately. "Actually, Doc, I was looking for Seven."
of billions of words, Harry managed to choose the wrong combination
and the doctor's less than jovial features soured further. "I'm
a doctor, not a Psychic," he said. "She had an appointment
with a medical tricorder earlier but I guess she's too busy to
bother about common courtesy anymore."
didn't show?" Harry asked.
Ensign, she didn't. But who am I to criticize? Obviously something
had a greater priority than a meeting with the doctor. I'm sorry,
Mister Kim, I would love to chitchat, but I have a sickbay to
run. Now, if you'll excuse me..." The doctor turned to go
back to his office, but Harry reached out and grabbed his arm.
a minute. You mean you haven't seen her all day?"
EMH looked at Harry with an acerbic eyebrow. "I thought that's
what I said."
frowned, his brain working at double speed. "That's strange,
Doc, I could have sworn the computer said she was here. But if
she hasn't been here at all today..."
the doctor said, "What would I know? Run a diagnostic or
course," said Harry, "do you mind if I access the computer
systems from here?"
doctor rolled his eyes in resignation. "Why should I? You're
probably going to do it anyway." Harry was already punching
away at the interface.
was whiling away his off-duty hours with writing up a report on
crew morale. He suddenly realized how much easier Neelix had made
his job with his self-appointed position of Morale Officer. The
quirky alien was going to be missed, although Chakotay had to
admit that Chell's cooking was a partial panacea to that ill.
The Bolian's extravagantly named dishes seemed to appeal precisely
to his palate and Chakotay wondered why they had never put Chell
in charge of the mess hall before now; his talents had been wasted
on the 'minor repairs' team. If he never saw leola root until
the day he died, he couldn't live long enough.
of dinner suddenly brought to mind the fifth date that had been
interrupted. He was still puzzling over what had actually occurred
between him and Seven of Nine. Chakotay had been flattered when
she had first approached him and suggested that they 'socialize
more'. He knew straight away that her request had romantic undertones
and it had been a boost to his ego. He was not getting any younger
and Chakotay was too modest to admit that he could still turn
a pretty ensign's head, or Borg drone for that matter.
'more' had turned rapidly into a whirlwind and Chakotay had just
sat back for the ride. He knew that her interest in him was experimental
- part of her quest to regain her humanity and he was quite happy
to go along with that because it seemed safe and temporary. But
seeing Earth again, even if it was only on long range scanners,
had changed a lot of things for him. The whole question about
'the rest of his life' had resurfaced and suddenly, he couldn't
see her in it. Chakotay had begun to question his motives and
what he found there disturbed him.
in true Borg fashion and with no tact or recognition of its need
in the situation, Seven had quite rapidly come to her own conclusion
about things and had told him about it at the next available opportunity.
She didn't need him anymore and, quite frankly, he would only
hold her back. Out of guilt and perhaps the pain of rejection,
Chakotay had tried to contradict her, but the curse of his life
was getting involved on some level with women who were stubborn
as hell. She would have none of it, and now she was avoiding him
in any but the most professional situations.
time lent itself to true retrospective. A relationship between
them would never have lasted. At this stage, Chakotay was actually
relieved that things had not developed beyond flowers and kisses.
In the long run, it was easily forgotten and not too much damage
had been done.
had happened had been... interesting, but now it was time to get
on with reality.
door chime broke in on Chakotay's thoughts. "Enter,"
he called out.
Janeway walked into his quarters, her brow furrowed and the corners
of her mouth turned down. It was not a good expression. Without
acknowledging him, she looked around. When she couldn't locate
the object of her search, she turned to him and snapped, "Where's
I don't know. Why don't you ask the computer?" Chakotay stood
from his desk and put the PADD that had been idling in his hands
gave him a look that threatened to lynch him. "Don't be ridiculous.
The computer said she was here."
quite obviously, she's not," he told her. He knew he was
being a tad flippant, but her mood irritated him. When she was
like this, there was nothing he could say or do to bring her out
of it and it irked him. He knew very well she was struggling to
come to terms with the situation that Voyager was in now, but
if she just bothered to talk to him about it, perhaps they could
realize a way to cope with it together. But Kathryn Janeway was
in some ways more pigheaded than her protégé and
meeting the Admiral had made him realize that she would never
change. He had butted heads with her on many occasions, but he
knew that he wouldn't be on Voyager, as her first officer, if
it weren't for her obstinacy. Quite possibly, none of them would
be alive today. Sometimes you had to take the good with the bad.
I can see that," Janeway said with an exasperated sigh. "For
obvious reasons, I need her in Astrometrics. Now, could you tell
me where she went?"
it was best not to anger her more than necessary, Chakotay said,
"I can't tell you that, because she was never here in the
first place, Kathryn. She's been avoiding me. I don't think I
have seen her more than a few times in the last week."
raised her eyebrow at this. "I see," was her noncommittal
wasn't sure how much she knew about his 'dates' with Seven of
Nine. He couldn't really bring himself to call it a relationship.
Kathryn seemed to know quite a bit more than he had told her and
he wondered if she had been Seven's confidant. He became slightly
uneasy at the thought and turned his head to avoid her stare.
"If you must know, nothing really came of it. Seven's in
an exploratory phase right now."
you do in your off time is not my concern, Commander, but Seven
has had this problem before where off-duty diversions have influenced
her productiveness. I need her in Astrometrics and I certainly
don't need her to be distracted. Do I make myself clear?"
words made his head snap back up and he looked at her with incredulity.
"Have you actually listened to anything I said?"
an all too familiar gesture, she brought her hand up to squeeze
her temples. A pained expression crossed her face. "Chakotay,
I really can't deal with this right now. I have a Starship in
the middle of proverbial nowhere, a crew that is ready to replace
me with the person that scrubs the warp plasma manifolds, and
a group of leering Cardassians on my doorstep. I really need your
support, right now."
crew is not ready to replace you."
don't hate you, Kathryn, if only you'd just talk to them."
He could read her mind sometimes and he could see that she was
scared. "We can get through this. We certainly have had a
lot of practice." Chakotay tried to lighten the conversation.
Unfortunately, his humor fell flat.
I need from you is to know that Seven of Nine will be doing her
job when and if I need her."
sighed. The conversation, if that's what you can call two people
talking at each other, had come full circle. When had they let
it get to this? "That's something you will have to ask her
yourself." He winced as he watched her mouth tighten into
a thin line and saw the hands come down on her hips.
as Chakotay was preparing for the inevitable backlash, a voice
sounded over the comsystem, "Kim to Janeway."
I could kiss you for your good timing, Chakotay thought.
captain hit her insignia and barked. "Janeway here. What
is it, Harry?"
there's something you should see - could you come to sickbay?"
be right there. Janeway out." She gave the commander one
last glance, that spoke a whole book on unfinished business, then
walked out brusquely.
had better be good, Harry, I've got a lot on my plate at the moment."
stalked into sickbay like an agitated wildcat. Immediately, sirens
went off in Harry's head. He had to tell her what he had found,
though, otherwise she would actually have his head. The doctor
was hovering beside Harry as both of them faced her with grim
tells me I'm not going to like this?" She looked from one
to the other.
green ensign no more, had eyes that were wide with concern and
determination. If they had reached Earth, he would have been a
lieutenant by now. She had sent the recommendation to Starfleet
Command and a surprise ceremony as part of the 'welcoming' celebrations
had been planned for their arrival. With guilt, Janeway remembered
that his parents were going to be there.
doctor also showed concern, but there was something else in his
stance that she couldn't quite figure out. Both of them deserved
more than her brusque words, so she pushed aside the unsettled
feeling that her speech with Commander Chakotay had roused, and
said in a less abrupt tone, "What is it?"
into action, Harry activated the terminal he had been working
on and pointed to the algorithms that scrolled up the screen.
"Take a look at this code in the computer's internal sensor
moved over to look at the screen. "That's not supposed to
be there. What's it doing?"
pulled up a different screen. "It's sending false information
to the computer core. Look at this." He pointed to the relevant
bio signature... Her combadge signal?"
The program's quite clever. It's designed to fool the computer
into believing someone's on board when they're not," Harry
explained. "It's also designed to fool the rest of us."
He spoke to the computer, "Where is Seven of Nine?"
of Nine is in Astrometrics."
Janeway could reply, Harry held up his hand and asked again, "Computer,
where is Seven of Nine?"
of Nine is in the mess hall."
see, it's using the computer's logs to generate the most likely
locations. It's given sickbay, Engineering and the bridge as well.
Oddly enough, it's mentioned Commander Chakotay's quarters a few
stopped him from going further. "I get it, Harry. Now, why
is it there?"
doctor pushed in between them and said, "Isn't that obvious,
Captain? Seven's been kidnapped!"
wait a minute, Doctor," Janeway held his arm. "I know
it looks bad, but let's consider the alternatives."
alternatives?" the doctor exploded. "Seven's playing
hide and seek with Naomi Wildman?"
just saying we shouldn't jump to conclusions. Let's look at the
facts again. When was the last time anybody saw her?"
been working with her in Astrometrics lately," said Harry.
"I saw her before she went to regenerate last night."
gave the doctor a questioning look. "I haven't seen her today,"
he said gruffly.
have I," said Janeway. "Show me those algorithms again,
Harry, I have a hunch."
obliged his captain, and they scrutinized the information on the
screen. Janeway asked Harry to scroll through the portions of
programming several times before something caught her eye. "There,"
she said, pointing to the piece she had been looking for.
that?" Harry frowned. To him it looked like part of the code.
I'm not mistaken, it's a signature; something that was left by
the author of the patch. Run it through the computer to see if
it comes up with any matches."
search results came up with dozens of positive matches. Harry
whistled. "It's definitely Cardassian. They've taken Seven."
it would seem," Janeway said grimly. "Good thing I wasn't
planning on trusting them, anyway."
doctor couldn't restrain himself any longer. "Captain! We've
got to get her back! You know the Cardassians have unorthodox
methods for getting what they want, and I can only guess at what
they want with Seven."
we'll get her back... and Doctor, I know very well what they are
capable of," she said tightly. The words bit at him.
Captain, of course," he stammered.
turned towards the door. "We'd better call a senior staff
meeting, now, Captain."
words halted him. "Hold on there, Mister Kim. I've got another
plan. I want you to find Tom and bring him to the mess hall in
one hour. Apart from that, you're not to breathe a word of this
to anyone, is that understood?"
ensign looked at her with puzzlement, but reflex made him reply,
See you in an hour, then."
knew when he was dismissed. He left sickbay with a strong sense
of foreboding as he went in search of his friend and colleague,
soon as Harry was gone, the doctor turned to Janeway.
what you want to say and be done with it," she said to him
when she saw his expression.
don't know how to put this politely, Captain, so if you will excuse
me, I won't." Janeway nodded and the EMH continued, "I
think I know you well enough by now to say that whatever game
you're playing at, remember that Seven's life is on the line."
didn't realize you'd been promoted to first officer, Doctor,"
Janeway said sourly.
got to do the job since you're not letting the commander do it,"
the doctor said quietly. The words hung in the air and Janeway's
face went cold. She was about to speak when the doctor said, "I'm
sorry, that's none of my business."
damn right it isn't!" Blood boiled just under the surface
of her words.
also beside the point." The doctor sighed, "I just want
you to promise that you won't let anything happen to her."
vulnerability in the doctor's voice served to soften Janeway.
She shook her head and said, "I will hunt down every last
one of them if they so much as lay a finger on her, that's a promise."
see we are in agreement, then."
you did know me, Doctor, you would know that I fight to protect
my cubs." The doctor smiled at that, although it was a sad
one. "I'll get her back, but I want you to prepare for the
worst scenario, if you get my meaning."
doctor nodded without trusting himself to respond. She turned
to go, and he caught a glimpse of her face before she left sickbay.
For a nanosecond, he pitied the Cardassians.
walked shoulder to shoulder with his captain to the mess hall.
"Do you think it's wise to keep this from the crew?"
know what you're thinking, old friend, but they are all on edge.
Something like this could send them over. If we deal with this
quickly, Seven will be back on board before anyone else has had
a chance to miss her and we can decide then what to do with our
'friends'. If there is a fight, we are certainly more than a match
for a Galor class vessel." Janeway smiled bleakly. "Jakat
is going to regret the day he decided to mess with me."
what about the commander?"
blinked and looked up at the Vulcan. For a moment, she wasn't
sure what he was talking about. When she realized that Tuvok was
referring to his previous question, she said with her voice low,
"I have my doubts about the commander's ability to act rationally
in this situation." Tuvok's expression remained stoically
bland. "You don't agree?"
Vulcan kept his eyes on their destination. "The commander
has had a long time to exorcise ghosts. He is not the same man
he was seven years ago."
was Janeway's noncommittal reply as they reached the mess hall
entrance. The two walked into the partially deserted room. A few
crewmen were catching quick meals between shifts and were dotted
alone or in pairs around the mess hall. At the far end, as per
instruction, a table had been kept in seclusion. The starlight
filtered in from the viewport and highlighted the pristine tabletop
as the lights inside where subtly subdued. Three figures were
standing in the corner waiting for Janeway's arrival.
and Janeway made their way over to the table and the three waiting
for them. The captain gave acknowledging gestures to the crewmen
that noticed her arrival, but as soon as she passed them, they
went back to contemplating their food or continuing whispered
Harry, please, have a seat," Janeway said when she reached
them. She turned to Crewman Chell, who had taken it upon himself
to keep the mess hall going after Neelix's departure.
won't be disturbed here, Captain," Chell said.
you, Crewman, I'll let you know if we need anything."
pleasant-faced Bolian did not take the hint. "I've also prepared
some fresh better-than-regeneration-coffee for you."
it on the table, Chell."
if you get hungry, I have a new dish of the day - lost-again-lasagna,
which you can top off with the where-the-hell-are-we-waffles and
Janeway's voice was a low growl. She knew the Bolian was only
being lighthearted, but she didn't appreciate his humor.
Captain, I'm gone. Watch me leave." The blue man scooted
out from under his captain's glare with a cheeky grin.
Chell had returned to the galley, which had been Neelix's domain
for so long, Janeway joined her assembled staff at the table.
"Gentlemen, we have some business to take care of, and it
needs to be done quickly and quietly."
picked his way past the sleeping duo: mother and child. It was
the most tranquil scene he had seen the two of them in since Miral
was born. B'Elanna was sprawled out on the couch with her uniform
jacket tossed aside on floor, but she had not made the same effort
to remove her boots. On the floor next to the big chair was a
blanket on which their daughter was sleeping, surrounded by pillows.
Miral was only a week old, but had already proven herself to be
an extremely vocal child. Sometimes, the only thing that would
calm her down was to pick her up and walk around the room with
her, all the while rubbing her back. At first they had been concerned
about her health, but the doctor had said that she was as healthy
as a Kazon and that some babies were just colicky.
Miral's temperament was draining on her parents. Tom felt that
he and B'Elanna were taking shifts. He would watch her all morning,
then he would pass the baby over to B'Elanna and set off for whatever
errands he had to run. Sleep may or may not have figured in the
now, with Miral having exhausted herself into slumber, B'Elanna
was making full use of the downtime. Tom and the dark circles
under his eyes envied his wife. Not wanting to wake her, he leaned
over her and gently placed a delicate kiss on the top of her hair.
he reached the exit to their quarters, however, her voice drifted
to him from the couch. "Where are you going, helmboy?"
B'E, I didn't mean to wake you," Tom said ruefully.
sat up and rubbed her eyes. "That's okay, I managed to get
an hour in. Should keep me going for the next 48."
was about to mention that they should try and find someone to
help look after Miral, but he knew where that conversation would
lead and he didn't have time to deal with it now. "I'll be
back in a few hours, I think. Maybe we could have a late supper
didn't look too enthused at the idea. "We'll see. What's
Janeway got you doing now?"
Tom didn't like the sound of B'Elanna's tone. She had become very
possessive of his time lately. "I can't tell you," he
said quietly. "It's need to know, only."
stood up and walked over to the replicator. "I don't like
the sound of that, Tom," she said as she ordered a warm drink
captain's orders, B'E, she doesn't want the crew to get wind of
shot him a feral look. "I'm not the crew, Tom, I'm the Chief
Engineer! If something's going down with the Cardies, I should
know about it."
saw Miral whimper in her sleep. "You'll wake the baby, keep
passed over her face, without changing her tone, she said, "That's
it, isn't it? Janeway's quite happy for me to do grunt work in
Engineering, but now that I have a child, she doesn't think I'm
capable of handling the real thing!"
used his long legs to reach his wife in a few steps. He wanted
to shake her, but instead, he held her shoulders reassuringly.
"That's not it at all! Look, Seven's been kidnapped and we
want to get her back without sending everyone into a panic. The
captain's going to that diplomatic dinner and she'll try to locate
Seven. When she's done that, she'll transmit the coordinates to
me and I'll just zap her out of there. Before anyone can say 'resistance
is futile' I'll bring her back on the Flyer."
expressions passed over B'Elanna's face, until finally she grinned.
"We should just leave her there."
laughed and pulled her into a hug. "Think of everything that
would go wrong if we did? How would Voyager survive without Seven's
special brand of ingenuity?"
bit her tongue to avoid the cruel reply that had formed in her
mind. She leaned back from Tom to get a look at him. "What
kind of rescue plan is that, anyway? The Cardassians will have
some kind of back up to deal with this scenario. You know how
sneaky they can be. What did Chakotay say about this?" Tom
went rigid at the question. He continued to look uneasily at B'Elanna
without saying anything. "Out with it, Tom. What's really
going on here?"
not on the 'need to know' list," he said, reluctantly. He
knew that B'Elanna would probably have beaten it out of him, anyway.
was silent this time, and that was worse. He could imagine what
she was thinking. It was probably similar to his own thoughts
when he had expressed his concerns about this with the captain
in their unofficial mess hall meeting.
started to make mewling noises to let her parents know that she
was awake and B'Elanna took the opportunity to avoid Tom's questioning
look. She went over to pick up the baby. "You'd better not
keep them waiting," she said blandly but he could hear the
sarcasm lurking in her voice.
he said with a warning tone. "Look, if it helps any, I didn't
agree with her."
go," she whispered.
did not like what he saw on her face at all, but he left, anyway.
If Janeway ever found out that he'd told her, he was toast.
dripping was coming from somewhere behind her, she was certain.
With Borg aural acuity, Seven should have been able to state the
exact location of the sound, but over the past few hours it had
eluded her. She could feel the vibrations through her feet as
every drop hit the ground. Each one had a different frequency
and duration - there was no coherent pattern or logic to it. It
to ignore the randomness of the sound, Seven had worked at freeing
her hands from their restraints. The Gul had not returned after
his first introduction, leaving only his underlings to look in
on her every so often. During this time, she had managed to loosen
her bonds, but she remained in the position she had been originally
trussed up in, so as to avoid suspicion.
would be ready for him when he came back.
waiting proved to be the actual torture; not knowing when the
moment would happen, but having to keep the senses alert and the
muscles ready for action.
moment came with no warning and he walked into the room, leering
as before. Seven of Nine knew just where his weak spots were.
As he came forward, she used her intimate knowledge of Cardassian
physiology and brought her foot up to make contact where it hurt
most. Next, as he doubled over in pain, she rammed a hand into
his face. He landed on the floor. Before he could cry out, she
had a foot on his neck and a look that said 'scream and I truncate
your oxygen supply'. She bent down to retrieve his weapon, set
it to stun, and fired at her abductor.
least, that was her plan, but just as she was about to take aim,
a hand came up and gripped her wrist, squeezing. When she felt
the bones and cartilage in her wrist begin to crack, she cried
out in pain and fired the weapon randomly. The weapon's energy
beam spent itself uselessly on the floor, and the Cardassian used
his strength to force the phaser out of her hand.
was a lot quicker than she had realized and a lot more agile.
In a single movement, he was on his feet. He used his body to
force her up against the nearest wall. Seven felt cold fingers
sneak around her neck and for a moment she was paralyzed. The
fingers continued to grip her neck tighter and she found it difficult
was not a good idea," said the Gul. His tone was ominous
but his expression was eager. "It's time to see just how
much your captain values your company, Seven of Nine. Not half
as much as I do, I am sure. Unfortunately, we can't have you running
around to spoil the plan, as much as I like to keep you hanging..."
With one sudden movement, he pulled her head forward, then slammed
it back into the wall. He used just enough force to send her into
words were sitting very uncomfortably with B'Elanna as she nursed
her baby. She was in two minds about what he had told her. She
decided she needed someone who was impartial to talk to, as Miral
wasn't much help in that area. Wrapping the baby up, she left
her quarters and went to find Tuvok's wife.
found the Vulcan woman in a deserted observation lounge. Miral's
quiet whimpers made T'Pel turn from her contemplation of the stars
to see who it was that had disturbed her.
me," said B'Elanna. She was slightly in awe of T'Pel, who
seemed as wise as she was mysterious ever since she had joined
the Voyager crew.
B'Elanna Torres," T'Pel welcomed her. "I greet your
"The computer said that you were here." B'Elanna wasn't
quite sure how to approach her topic.
cocked her head to one side. "Do you wish to know why I am
guess so," B'Elanna said as she shushed Miral. For some reason,
T'Pel's presence had a calming effect on both of them.
have utilized the limited access that I have to discover that
this lounge is not often used by any of the crew members. It seems
to me that it would serve better with another function."
T'Pel turned back to the observation port. "The view is tranquil."
frowned. "What do you think we should do with it? It's just
had an almost wistful look. "I begin to regret leaving behind
my garden on Vulcan, although that is illogical when I have regained
a husband. However, I believe it would be a beneficial thing to
bring some of what was left behind to Voyager."
you want plants, there's the hydroponics bay."
her frank stare to B'Elanna, T'Pel said, "A garden's function
is completely different to that of a hydroponics bay. One is used
to supply our physical needs. The other can enhance our mental
and spiritual states."
shrugged. "Have you spoken to Tuvok about it?"
course, but my husband does not see the logic in it." B'Elanna
could swear she almost saw the Vulcan smile.
in response, she said, "I could always bring it up in a senior
inclined her head. "That would be appreciated, B'Elanna Torres.
Now, what is it you wish to discuss with me?"
a lot more relaxed, and perhaps a little manipulated, B'Elanna
began to reveal to T'Pel what Tom had told her. She hoped that
speaking to Tuvok's wife would bring her some kind of clarity.
Janeway, it's a pleasure to meet you in person!"
voice sent icy fingers up her spine as she stepped off the Cardassian
version of a transporter pad. Looking around the interior of the
ship brought back memories. They were not pleasant ones, and would
only serve to drag her attention away from the task at hand. Suddenly
she was afraid for herself more than she was for Seven. Janeway
had once volunteered herself to be assimilated by the Borg, but
somehow, that was insignificant when faced with this old dread.
The Cardassians had been a childhood terror come true in her early
her back and her resolve, Janeway pushed her chin out and looked
the Cardassian in front of her in the eye. "Let's qualify
something here; there's no love lost between our peoples and I
hope there never will be."
Cardassian had the gall of his race to smile. "Well, I would
hope that we could put our differences aside, Captain. I see that
you are as blunt as any other human I have met."
inclined her head. "I don't like false talk and pretty speech.
It's a waste of time that would best be spent discussing our current
but I don't believe that you would ride roughshod over our customs,
Captain. It's not the nature of Starfleet to ignore what is culturally
time, it was Janeway's turn to smile. Her lips curled up in the
corners, but her eyes remained deadly. She didn't think she would
break it to Gul Jakat that she had been so far from Starfleet
for so long that she was now a law unto herself. "What is
culturally important to the Cardassians nowadays?"
Thinking that a small victory was his, Gul Jakat offered the captain
his arm. "Let's begin with a breaking of our fast. We could
get to know each other a little better over a meal. As a rule,
Cardassians never 'make beds with strangers'."
the way to your dining hall. And I should add that I am hungry."
Turning to her security officer, Janeway nodded. "This is
Tuvok of Vulcan. He will be joining us."
bowed shortly. "Of course."
Janeway took the Gul's arm. Tuvok remained behind her as Jakat
lead them through the passages of his ship.
kept his eyes on the ops console. Janeway had left him to coordinate
the rescue mission and he wasn't happy. It wasn't that he feared
failure, on the contrary, he thought the plan was a good one,
but it was the first officer's eyes that haunted him.
to keep to his chair, Commander Chakotay had decided it was a
good idea to peer over the bridge crew's shoulders as they worked.
It was fine for Jenkins, whose job at the conn involved nothing
more than keeping Voyager in range of the Cardassian vessel. Ayala
wasn't too busy, either, but Harry, on the other hand, was trying
to surreptitiously keep a transporter fix on the captain and Tuvok,
while sending progress reports to Tom, who was at the moment out
on the Flyer. That was another thing Harry had had to mask from
Chakotay's prying - Tom's launching of the shuttle and his current
position behind them, out of view of the Cardassians. Harry was
trying his level best, as per his captain's instructions, to keep
Chakotay out of this, but if all hell broke loose, he didn't think
the commander would be enamored with what he was doing.
for the first time Harry felt like he was stuck in the middle
of a parental row.
kept on staring at him, but he managed to report to Tom that the
captain was now on board the Cardassian vessel and that he should
stand by to receive Seven's coordinates.
to Chakotay," the comsystem sounded.
commander slapped his combadge. "What is it, Torres?"
need to speak to you."
a hand through his hair, Chakotay said, "Can it wait? We're
in the middle of something here."
probably waited long enough, sir." B'Elanna's voice came
across as edgy.
hesitated, then said, "I'll meet you in the captain's ready
room." He turned to Harry. "Keep that transporter locked
on our people, I don't trust those snakes."
tried to keep his jaw from hitting his console as Chakotay went
to make use of Janeway's ready room.
Jakat frowned in mock concern. Janeway found herself seated opposite
him, across a block of a table, in an austerely furnished room.
The Gul's decorators seemed to favor black and gray and uncomfortable
furniture. Her chair back was hard, and the effort of sitting
through the meal listening to the Cardassian expound on his many
exploits, some against the Federation, was torture in itself.
hardly touched your sem'hal stew, Captain. Perhaps you would like
some more yamok sauce with that?" Jakat motioned for one
of his servants to bring the tureen over to Janeway, but she shook
stew is fine. I was just wondering when we were going to get to
in good time, Captain. We haven't even started the fifth course."
Jakat blatantly ignored Janeway's look of irritation and turned
to Tuvok. "Commander, how are things on Vulcan these days?
I've missed so much interplanetary news out here."
of Tuvok's eyebrows twitched involuntary as he continued to shovel
what the Gul had termed as food into his mouth. In-between spoonfuls,
he said, "Vulcan is unchanged."
Jakat said blandly, "I am sure it is. Tell me, what do you
think about the Federation's alliance with us?"
head shot up, but fortunately, Tuvok kept digging away at his
plate and Jakat's eyes were trained on him. "I have no opinion
on the matter."
course, you wouldn't. I think it's quite strategic, though."
He glanced across at Janeway. "I believe you've already made
your opinion of us clear."
her spoon down, Janeway leaned forward. She wasn't going to tell
this Cardassian that the alliance was in tatters and Cardassia
Prime was in ruins. "My personal beliefs are not important.
I will uphold Federation policies. But, just out of curiosity,
how long have you been out here?" Wherever 'here' is, she
leaned back in his chair. "Not too long, Captain, several
she were eating, she would have choked. Janeway made a few quick
calculations and none of them added up. She filed the paradox
away for future reference. "We've only just arrived."
Cardassian's eyes gleamed. "Tell me about your ship. You
seem to have some interesting modifications for a Starfleet vessel."
decided that she did not need to tell this man anything. With
exaggerated care, she rolled her eyes back in her head and slid
off her chair and onto the floor. In an instant, both Tuvok and
the Gul were out of their seats. Tuvok rushed over to Janeway
and knelt down next to her. He removed a vial from his sleeve
and waved it in front of her face. Seconds later, she was coughing
and struggling to rise from her position.
going on?" Jakat stood over them with a pained look on his
up at them, Tuvok said, "My captain is unwell. She has been
experiencing these fainting spells ever since we arrived here.
I insisted that she stay on Voyager, but she did not think it
appropriate for anyone else to attend this meeting in her stead."
eyes narrowed. "Perhaps we should continue this at a later
her head, Janeway said, "No, I'm fine. Just give me a few
minutes to collect myself. There's too many important things we
need to discuss for us to delay." Tuvok helped her to stand.
As he did so, he slipped her the vial.
course, Captain." Jakat was all courtesy. "Would you
like to use the facilities of a rest room? Glinn Kajarel would
be pleased to escort you." He indicated to one of the officers
who were standing at attention against the wall.
would be grateful, Gul. Your hospitality has been nothing but
Gul smiled at this. "In the meanwhile, your Vulcan can entertain
me as I eagerly anticipate your return."
nodded. She followed Kajarel out of the room with only a brief
glance at Tuvok. Praying that Harry and Tom were keeping their
eyes on the ball, she knew she would have to work quickly.
stood uneasily before her friend, Miral in her arms, as he leaned
against the captain's desk. Chakotay looked calm, considering
what she had just told him. But B'Elanna knew him well. She knew
that on the inside he was seething. He would never be one to show
that anger, unless in times of extreme stress, but now and then
the fire escaped through his eyes.
eyes were blazing.
didn't you tell me sooner? You should have come to me the moment
you found out," he said.
shifted the baby in her arms to a more comfortable position. Miral
was awake, but content to be close to her mother. "I didn't
feel it was my right to interfere in this. She's the captain,
she can do what she damn well wants."
B'Elanna. No, she can't!" Chakotay pushed himself away from
the desk and began to pace the room. He was reaching a level of
agitation that B'Elanna had not often seen in him. "We have
a system, an order to the way things are done on this ship. It's
there for a reason. She's been on the verge of this for a long
time, but she managed to keep herself in check. Now, she's finally
gone off on her own."
not on her own, Chakotay," B'Elanna pointed out. "Tuvok's
in on this, too. So is Harry and Tom, although Tom didn't like
stopped pacing and turned to face her. "I don't believe Tuvok
has supported her in this. He doesn't have any reason for wanting
me shoved aside - he has no aspirations for my job. What it boils
down to is that she has decided she doesn't trust me."
ridiculous!" B'Elanna exploded. "We left the Maquis
behind long ago. She's seriously deluded if she thinks you can't
be trusted to deal wisely with the Cardassians. Even I know that
it's important to get Seven out of there without going berserk
- as much as I would love to spread some Cardassian molecules
over several light years."
Chakotay rubbed at his eyes. Suddenly, a headache was forming
- he wondered if he'd contracted it from just being in her ready
room. "I don't believe she's been thinking about my lack
of love for Cardassians, here." Kathryn had always believed
that emotional entanglements impaired your judgment.
what is it?"
shook his head and told a white lie. "Damned if I know. The
question is, what do I do about it?"
it is, Chakotay, you know I'll back you one hundred percent, and
so will the others," B'Elanna said fiercely.
ruefully, Chakotay stretched out a hand to pat her shoulder. "We're
not forming a mutiny, here. I'll just have to get her to talk
about it - however much she may hate me for it." He moved
his hand down to touch Miral's cheek. "She grows bigger every
time I see her."
growled, "You're changing the topic."
a family, B'Elanna. I'm not giving up on that. There's nothing
I can do with Janeway already halfway through her rescue plan.
Let's just hope she doesn't underestimate the people she's dealing
with." He wasn't only referring to the Cardassians.
to Chakotay," Harry's voice interrupted them.
ahead, Harry," Chakotay replied.
not right. The Cardassians have just raised their shields."
threw a startled look at B'Elanna. "I think we know what
that means. You and Miral better get to a safer deck," he
said as he moved quickly towards the bridge.
soon as Kajarel had taken Janeway a certain distance down the
dark passage, she crushed the little vial that Tuvok had slipped
her in her palm. There was no-one else around, so she turned with
cat-reflexes and brought her hand up to smother the Cardassian's
face. The vial contained a chemical which caused Jakat's second
in command to choke and clouded his vision. As Kajarel was trying
to react to Janeway's attack, she quickly relieved him of his
weapon and stepped back to point it at him.
even breathe," she threatened. Glinn Kajarel was having enough
difficulty with the task as it was. "Move in the wrong direction
and I fire. You know whether or not this thing is set to stun,
so I wouldn't take any chances."
do that and the whole ship will be alerted," Kajarel said
shrugged. "You'd still be dead." The Glinn seemed to
value his life and remained silent. Motioning towards the wall
with the Cardassian's weapon, she said, "Open that panel."
Kajarel kept his eyes on the trained phaser, but moved towards
the wall panel to do what Janeway wanted.
step back." As Kajarel moved cautiously away from the wall,
Janeway single-handedly reached for her tricorder. She scanned
the circuitry and then grinned. "Technology from the future
comes in handy sometimes," she remarked, "and your systems
are quite antiquated." She kept her eyes on the tricorder,
which she was using to interface with the ship's environmental
her eye's glinted. She tapped her combadge. "Janeway to Paris."
waiting for you, Captain," was the lieutenant's chipper response.
got her location. I'll send you the coordinates through the communication's
link - get ready to beam her out." She cut off the voice
link to Paris and prepared to interface her advanced tricorder
with her combadge. She didn't notice the smile on Kajarel's face.
Alert," Chakotay snapped as he strode out onto the bridge.
"Can you transport our people out of there?" His question
was directed at Harry.
Sir, not while their shields are up." Harry shifted uncomfortably,
then finally said, "Commander, there's something you should
commander cut him off with a hand. "Have they managed to
did not want to know how he knew. He answered the question reflexively.
"Tom's got her coordinates. He couldn't beam her out though
- their shields cut him off."
refresh my memory, Ensign," Chakotay said with a dark look.
"Where exactly is Mister Paris?"
he's out on the Flyer, Sir. He's hiding in our shadow."
nodded. "Of course he is. You'd better answer that, Harry,"
he said matter-of-factly, referring to the bleeping emanating
from the ops console.
flushed a little, but managed to regain his composure. "We're
being hailed by the Cardassian Vessel, Sir."
Chakotay said, "I'm not really in the mood to talk. Put it
viewscreen changed from an external shot of the Galor class vessel
to an internal one. The crew on Voyager's bridge, with Chakotay
standing in the center, looked up at the image of the Cardassian,
Gul Jakat and their security officer, Lieutenant Commander Tuvok.
the Gul could open his mouth, Chakotay said, "Where's Captain
be here shortly," Jakat said with a trace of irritation.
"You really don't have any manners, Commander, no wonder
Janeway didn't want you here."
commander's eyes blazed. He knew it was irrational, but he had
a sudden desire to lunge at the viewscreen and remove the smirk
from the Cardassian's scaly face.
time to start the negotiations in earnest," Jakat continued.
He turned to Tuvok who was standing grim-faced at his side. "What
do you think, my Vulcan friend?"
of answering the Gul, Tuvok spoke to Chakotay, "Do not attempt
anything rash, Commander. There is more going on here than you
are aware of."
Tuvok, I don't have time to debate." Chakotay signaled to
Kim to cut the transmission. "Shields up," he stated
as he walked purposefully towards tactical. "Jenkins, prepare
for evasive maneuvers and Harry, I want you to let Paris know
that it's going to get hot out there."
Kim and Jenkins, the conn officer, called out, "Aye, Sir."
moved away from his station after one look from the commander.
Without preamble, Chakotay brought Voyager's powerful weapons
system online and fired at the Cardassians.
have you got her?" Janeway called through the comlink. She
slapped the badge again when there was no answer. "Paris?
Tom, are you there?" She looked over at the grinning Glinn
your technology's no match for old-fashioned deceit." He
lunged at her.
reflexes kicked in and she aimed the phaser at the Cardassian.
He was at point blank range when she fired.
went wrong. The phaser's energy wasn't directed at the Cardassian
as intended, but rippled over the defunct weapon until it struck
Janeway's hand. Recoiling, she dropped the weapon with a grunt
of pain. In the next instant, the momentum of the Cardassian made
him barrel into her and knock her to the floor.
cried out as his weight crushed her chest. With ease, Kajarel
pinned her down on the floor. Unexpectedly, the ship lurched under
them. Using the opportunity, Janeway began to wriggle out of the
Cardassian's grasp, but he was quick enough to grab her wrists.
Struggling to his feet, he hauled her up with him.
ship rocked again, nearly sending them both back to the floor,
but Kajarel was able to keep his grip on her. He dragged her back
through the passage, but this time towards the ship's main bridge.
the hell is going on, Jakat?" Janeway growled as Kajarel
pulled her onto the Cardassian bridge. His one hand was clamped
around her waist while the other clutched her hair like a vice,
pulling her head back.
see you've recovered from your indisposition, Captain. Won't you
have a seat?" Jakat mockingly pointed to his own chair. Tuvok
was standing next to it with bound hands.
shook with suppressed rage. "What kind of game are you playing?"
his tongue, Jakat said, "I am innocent here - It's your trigger-happy
commander who decided to shoot at us, completely unprovoked. I
have no choice but to defend my vessel."
doesn't sound like my first officer at all. You pushed him. Let
me warn you that your ship is no match for Voyager. You're going
to lose this battle."
turned his dead stare onto her. "If that were the case, then
you'd also lose, Captain. We'll both go down with the ship, if
we have to."
eyes hardened to dangerous points. "Don't count on it, Jakat.
My first officer's extremely resourceful."
am I, Captain. I have to be."
message reached Tom Paris in the Delta Flyer just in time. With
sharp reflexes, Tom pulled the Flyer back as Voyager ducked to
evade weapons fire from the Cardassian ship. If he could keep
in the shadow of the big ship, there was still a possibility that
the Cardies wouldn't realize he was there. Tom always liked the
element of surprise in a space battle.
was doing well enough on her own, Tom noted. The other vessel's
shields were not going to hold up too much longer, but Tom did
not think that the commander wanted to destroy the Cardassian
ship outright just yet.
Tom called to his friend over the comlink. "Tell Chakotay
to disable their main shield generator. I'll dive in and get Janeway,
Tuvok and Seven out of there before they have time to switch to
a moment, Harry replied, "He says that's what he's aiming
have fooled me!" Tom quipped.
the Flyer was rocked by phaser fire from behind. Tom watched,
shocked, as the orange beam of energy missed his port side and
slammed into Voyager. Tom realized that they had been too busy
concentrating on their front shields to worry about reinforcing
the aft ones.
the hell...?" he muttered as another bolt ripped past him
and into Voyager's stern. Quickly swinging away from Voyager,
Tom brought the Flyer around to see who was shooting. "Harry,
you've got another Galor class vessel on your tail. They've just
dropped from warp out of nowhere! I'll try and draw some of their
don't want any heroics, Paris." It was Chakotay over the
comlink this time.
about your own butt, Chakotay, I can handle myself." But
Tom wasn't so sure of that as he bore down on the newcomer.
shields are at 43%, Sir. They're not going to hold for long with
phaser fire from both ships," Ayala reported to Chakotay,
who had moved back to the center of the bridge to let the lieutenant
do his job at tactical.
other vessel is trying to penetrate our shields and disable the
primary phaser couplings. Tom's doing his best to distract them,
but if they turn on him, he won't stand a chance," Harry
all the information in, Chakotay slapped his insignia. "Engineering,"
he barked, "Can we get the Borg Shields up?"
me, Sir, I am not sure what you are referring to," said Ensign
Vorik from Engineering in a bland voice.
new armor, Vorik! We are going to need something between the Cardassians
and our imminent destruction once the our regular shields fail."
Chakotay paced restively across the deck.
have not yet been able to restore ablative armor capabilities,
Sir," was Vorik's response.
not what I want to hear," growled Chakotay. "Get me
Nicoletti, let me speak to her."
too busy trying to route extra power to the shield generators
to speak to you, Sir."
saw the look that this brought out on Chakotay's face and was
suddenly glad he wasn't Vorik, although the full effect of it
would have been lost on the Vulcan.
the commander had a chance to respond, another voice resonated
over the comsystem. "It's okay, Chakotay, I'm here now. We
should be able to give our regular shielding a boost in the next
few minutes and I'm damned if I can't get the armor online as
didn't sound like Susan Nicoletti. "B'Elanna! I thought I
told you to get Miral to a safer deck. Last time I checked that
safe. I left her in sickbay with the doctor. Now, I have work
to do." B'Elanna cut the link.
Jenkins, keep evading the fire from the first vessel. Let's hope
Tom can draw away the second one until B'Elanna has a chance to
do her magic."
was keeping an eye on the Flyer. "Commander, he's got their
attention all right, he's preparing to ram them!"
exploded Chakotay. "That's not going to help us. Paris? What
the hell do you think you're doing?"
ignoring us," Harry said.
it on screen," Chakotay ordered.
both watched as the Delta Flyer, nothing but a minor irritation
to the second Cardassian ship, hurtled towards them with ferocity.
"He's aiming for their primary power couplings," Harry
commented. "He's not trying to commit suicide - just forcing
them to back down."
will be if they shoot him down."
warning, the second vessel bloomed into a fireball. The Flyer
was thrown back with the shock wave and debris from the explosion
rapidly spread out from the center of the blazing wreckage. The
ring of shrapnel caught up with voyager and slammed into her shields.
integrity at 27%... And holding," reported Ayala.
whooped Harry, "What kind of shooting was that?"
lieutenant's reply was shaky. "I wish I could take the credit.
They must have had an internal malfunction or something - I certainly
didn't do that."
turned around from her position at the conn. "Sir, the primary
vessel has ceased fire."
act," Chakotay ordered. "Paris, get ready to take our
people out. Harry, I want you to give our phasers everything we've
got - let's get rid of the last vestiges of their shields. Put
them back on screen."
diverted power to the phaser banks while Ayala took aim.
shields are down, Sir," one of the Cardassian crewmen reported
to her captain.
whirled around to face her. "What just happened? I thought
we had the advantage here?"
not sure, Sir. Our other vessel was destroyed."
to Janeway, who had watched the entire scene from the Cardassian
bridge, he said, "Your ship isn't capable of doing that,
raised her eyebrows and remarked casually, "It's been a pleasure
knowing you, Jakat, I hope that..." Her words were cut off
as she and her Vulcan officer were encased with the blue lights
of a Federation transporter beam.
the Borg drone?" Jakat asked angrily.
Kajarel stepped up to a panel to access the ship's computer. "They've
taken her, too, Sir," he said with unease.
lips tightened with the knowledge that he had failed, but he wasn't
going to berate himself for being greedy and wanting more than
just the drone, but Voyager as well. "It's time to retreat."
there's a vessel decloaking above us."
all too familiar feeling swept over the Cardassian Gul. Dread
wasn't something that Cardassian's readily admitted to, but the
unveiled ship, sleek and black, would put terror into a Klingon.
"Get us out of here, now! Let Voyager deal with them!"
too late, sir. They've already loosed a torpedo..."
stunned bridge crew watched as the de-cloaked ship sent a crimson
ball of energy towards the remaining Cardassian vessel. Jakat's
ship seemed to swallow the ball and then, in the same fashion
as its partner, it erupted into fire and shrapnel.
did not stop to take pleasure in the sight. "Paris?"
got them, Commander. I'll bring us in now, but we should transport
Seven to sickbay - she's not in good shape."
it," Chakotay ordered, then he turned to Harry. "Hail
that other vessel. Send them our thanks."
nodded as he worked at his console. After a moment, he said, "I'm
not getting any response. In fact, our scanners aren't picking
up anything from the ship - no life signs, no energy signatures
we can see them?"
because they want us to, Commander. They were cloaked before -
and were able to fire on the Cardassians that way, too."
looked at the vessel on the viewscreen - it looked like a hole
in the starscape. "If they believed we were a threat, they
would have done to us what they did to the Cardassians. Keep hailing
them on all frequencies. I'm going down to the shuttlebay. You
have the bridge, Ensign."
Harry could protest, Chakotay had made his exit.
vision swam before her eyes and then clarified into the bright
walls of sickbay. There was a dull but bearable ache in the back
of her head and her limbs seemed to be encased in viscous liquid.
Trying to shake off the disorientation, Seven willed her body
hand pressed gently down on her shoulder. "Lie back, now.
You've been through quite an ordeal."
didn't want to lie back. She wanted to be able to move freely,
to control her own actions. "I am undamaged. Let me go."
face of Voyager's EMH moved into her line of sight. "On the
contrary, Seven, you have several contusions that I need to take
care of as well as that blow to your head. I am not going to let
you out of my sight soon - or ever if you insist on letting strange
people steal you." He walked over to pick up a dermal regenerator
from the trolley. "Let's fix that nasty cut on your cheek,
flinched as he brought the device close to her face. The doctor
leaned back, surprised, and noted a haunted look in her eyes.
"Doctor, I want you to replace the fail-safe device in my
the doctor said, "The procedure's not reversible, Seven."
have to fix it! I cannot function like this." Seven's face
became contorted as she tried to hide her anxiety.
doctor, feeling guilt and pain on her behalf, reached over hesitantly
to touch her shoulder. "What did they do to you?"
rapidly, Seven showed clear signs of distress. "I am afraid..."
can't hurt you anymore, Seven. They've been destroyed."
looked up at him with hardness. "That is good," she
all the tension that had been between them lately, most of it
his own making, the doctor knew that he would be able to forgive
her anything, even the fact that she didn't return his feelings.
There was something about her that made him want to protect her
and comfort her nonetheless. He reached forward to drag her into
a compassionate hug, but she did not respond to his arms around
her shoulders. Her mind was filled with the sound of dripping.
waited outside the shuttlebay as it re-pressurized. The Delta
Flyer had just come in and he was eager to speak to his captain.
A storm was brewing under his brows. As soon as the doors slid
open, he pushed through them and into the shuttlebay. He was still
walking towards the Flyer when the shuttle's hatch opened.
first to exit was Tuvok, looking unruffled as usual. The Vulcan
security officer noted the commander's expression and stepped
followed Tuvok and he was high on adrenaline. One look at Chakotay
curtailed any comments he was about to make and instead, he looked
at Tuvok and nodded towards the exit. "I think our wives
are probably wondering what we've been up to. Perhaps we should
let them know we're all right."
raised an eyebrow. "I concur, Mister Paris. Fatherhood has
made you wise." The two made their way rapidly out of the
shuttlebay, hardly noticed by Chakotay.
a moment, Janeway appeared. She knew he would be waiting for her
and she knew he would be angry. She stepped down to the floor
and looked up at him, not scared to face him - at least that was
what she told herself. She was the captain. But, she already knew
there was no way to justify her actions to him.
continued to flow in their area of space, but neither of them
moved or spoke.
was the first to turn his head. "I never want to be put in
that situation again. You had no right to do that to me, Kathryn."
face turned to stone. "I had my reasons, Commander. I am
not above reproach, but I'd like to think that I still have your
we're going to talk about respect, I would say you gambled that
when you lost your faith in me," he said bitterly. "I
had to walk out onto the bridge and take charge of a situation
which Harry was more familiar with than I was. Not only was it
degrading, it put our crew in danger!"
her voice low, Janeway growled, "And what would you have
done if you'd known about Seven's abduction? Run off on your own
like some misguided hero to save her? You would have risked your
own life as well as hers and compromised Voyager at the same time."
shook his head. "I can't believe it, Kathryn. That's exactly
what you did and now you're accusing me of..." He looked
at her in exasperation. "I'm not even sure what you're accusing
fidgeted with her hands while she locked her eyes on the floor.
She bit her tongue to keep from saying the words that were in
"You don't trust me, anymore," he said. "We cannot
be an effective command team if you don't trust me. I can't do
my job properly."
know how you feel about the Cardassians," Kathryn said quietly.
looked at her intently. "That doesn't really have anything
to do with it, does it?"
Janeway could respond, Harry's voice interrupted. "Captain,
Commander, you'd better get to the bridge, we're receiving a message
from the alien vessel."
on our way, Harry," Janeway replied. She stepped past her
first officer towards the door. Before she reached it, she looked
back at him with a questioning glance. "Are you with me?"
he nodded and moved to join her, but there was no promise in his
strode onto the bridge with Chakotay close behind her. Tuvok was
already there and had taken over his station at tactical. Paris
was getting comfortable at the conn. The viewscreen in front of
her showed an image of their saviors. Janeway noted the elegant
design of the vessel - it was smaller than Voyager was, more compact;
its hull was a seamless black.
to Harry at ops, Janeway said, "What do they want?"
not sure, Captain," said Harry. "They sent a coded message,
only I can't make any sense of it."
you tried to hail them?"
nodded. His attempts to rouse the alien vessel had been frustrating.
"On every frequency I could conceive of, and some that I
turned back to the screen. As she did, the image of the dark ship
dissolved and was replaced by an alien visage.
didn't do that..." Harry explained but then his voice trailed
away as he looked up at the screen.
involuntary shiver curled its way down Janeway's spine as the
alien on the viewscreen transfixed her. Its skin was rough blue
and there were sharp white horns protruding from its face like
an ancient devil. The eyes that looked out at her were completely
inhuman, dark holes cut by yellow slits, and they seemed to want
to eat away at her.
bridge crew was silent; each of them enthralled by the alien's
the creature spoke. The hollow tones were somehow translated for
are Sernaix, Defenders of this Realm."
Beta: KateF & NiekeWing
Producers: Thinkey, Anne Rose and Coral