Chapter 1: Annika (Prologue)
Five months after the battle of Tzenketh
Annika Hansen examined herself in the mirror, searching for any flaws in her hair or makeup. Not that the client she was about to see would have minded if something was out of place. Given the nature and longevity of their relationship, he might not care if she wore makeup at all. Even so, Annika considered orderliness and diligence to be two of the few remaining virtues she could realistically achieve, and she would cling to them for as long as life allowed her to.
Besides, Chakotay wasn’t just any client.
She’d seen Chakotay many times over the last four years, ever since the Vulcan spy network appointed him as her contact for the Terran Resistance. When they first met, he’d been hesitant to utilize her professional services, preferring only to share information and conversation before returning to his ship.
In time, their talks began to deepen, becoming personal and even intimate. She’d picked up early on that he was heartbroken, lonely, and starved for touch. But she kept her gestures small—a hand on his knee or a quick squeeze of his fingers. Soon, he responded in kind.
One night, following a particularly painful conversation, he’d kissed her. After that, it seemed all he wanted was to touch her and be touched by her. She asked him once if there was anyone in the resistance with whom he could fulfill his need for touch.
“It’s not that simple,” was all he’d said. She didn’t press for more.
They didn’t always have sex when he came to visit, but it had become their norm. It was almost a routine, except it didn’t feel like one. For Chakotay, physical affection seemed to be an emotional experience of some kind or another, and it was a little different every time.
Some nights, he wanted to pin Annika to an unyielding surface and fuck her so hard it almost hurt. Other times, he clung to her like the last scrap of bread in a food shortage, tears brimming in his eyes as he came. Still other times, he made love to her as if she was someone he cared for deeply. And then there were the nights when all he wanted was to be held and nothing more.
Every time, it was clear he used her to work out some kind of heartbreak or trauma.
Not that he was unique. Annika had seen plenty of clients with the same need, and she would see many more in the years to come. The least she could do was play the role they needed her to play.
A tone sounded and Annika twisted in her seat, leaving her vanity behind. “Come.”
The door slid open and Chakotay stepped inside. The pained look on his face was one she’d seen time and again over the years, and it told her all she needed to know.
Hurrying to him, she took his face in her hands and kissed him until he was gasping for air. His low moan vibrated through their joined mouths as she peeled away his clothing one article at a time.
She pulled him with her to the bed while he pushed the straps of her dress from her shoulders. The dress pooled at her feet, and she deftly stepped out of it.
When the backs of her knees hit the mattress, she dragged him down on top of her and guided him inside.
She rocked her hips in time with his thrusts and pressed her lips to his neck. He returned the gesture, licking and sucking at her sensitive skin until she moaned. His lips found hers. Their tongues slid together, mimicking the back and forth strokes he made inside her.
Chakotay broke the kiss and buried his face in the crook of her neck, his hips picking up speed. He was grunting and groaning, straining to finish. But physical and emotional relief eluded him.
“Look at me,” Annika murmured. When he didn’t, she spoke louder. “Chakotay, look at me.”
This time he listened, pulling back and staring at her with those beautiful brown eyes. His thrusts slowed nearly to a stop as his lips parted for air. His chest was flushed, heaving with each breath.
She dragged her fingers over the black and gray stubble dotting his face. “Let me.”
He nodded, pulling out and laying on his back. Annika lowered herself onto him.
“Come here,” she whispered as she pulled him into a sitting position. With a hand on his back and her eyes locked on his, she swayed.
She kept it slow at first, their hot breath mingling as they rocked together with a lulling, gentle rhythm. But as the pleasure bloomed within her, Annika gradually sped up their pace, her breathing and his becoming heavier with each stroke.
When he kissed her, she moaned, and it made him grip her tighter. He pressed two fingers to her clitoris and she moaned even louder. Soon, they were forced apart by the desperate need to gulp down air.
Then her whole existence became a burst of color and light, forcing her eyes shut and wrenching a sharp cry from her throat. She gripped his shoulders, arched her back, and fucked him harder through her orgasm, the feeling of him moving inside her intensified by the contractions rolling through her body.
It wasn’t long before he followed her over the edge, fingers digging into her hips as he groaned. They rasped against one another a few final times before coming to rest. For a while, they simply held each other as their breaths slowed and Annika’s heart rate returned to normal. She ran her hands through his hair and he caressed her back. Eventually, she crawled off his lap and out of bed.
Before she could go any further, Chakotay grabbed her hand and pulled her in for another kiss. “Thank you,” he murmured against her lips.
She smiled. “You’re welcome.” Giving his hand a squeeze, she slipped away to grab robes for them both.
As she shrugged the garment on, Annika padded towards the locked drawer where she kept her files. Retrieving a small electronic tablet and several isolinear chips from inside, she moved to the sitting area opposite her bed and sank onto the large, lush couch.
Chakotay followed her there, his body flush against hers.
Annika tapped an interface on her portable console, waking it as she fed an isolinear chip into a slot at the side. She offered Chakotay the tablet so he could look over the notes she kept there. Many things went into those notes—overheard conversations, interesting tidbits her clients whispered over her pillows, stories and information her friends picked up, and even her own impressions and observations. The rebels wanted it all.
“Everything looks in order here,” Chakotay said, and set it down to focus on her console’s screen.
Annika cleared her throat. “I didn’t receive many files from my sources this past month, but there is one I find particularly interesting.”
His eyes flicked to her. “Which one?”
She tapped on a file name, pulling up a holorecording.
He frowned. There was no audio, just a visual recording from a Cardassian high-security prison. As the image jumped into motion, a woman in a gray jumpsuit laid back and sat up over and over, breathing hard through her exercises.
Chakotay’s expression shifted from confusion to shock. “That’s—oh, God.”
“Marta.” Annika said.
Dark eyes locked on Annika’s. “How do you know her?”
“I don’t. I recognize her from one of the pornographic feeds they play in the exhibition lounges.”
He put a hand to his mouth and paused the recording. “Oh, God.”
“I found it quite surprising, as well.”
He shook his head. “No, you don’t understand. This is— I mean—“ He ran a hand over his face, took a deep breath, and met her gaze. “I can’t tell you why this is important, but I have to ask you something. Have you heard anything about Kathryn Janeway or her ship, Ching Shih?”
“I was told she contacted the Vulcan spy network two months ago to transfer a Bajoran she had rescued from a Cardassian vessel. They asked me to report anything I came across about her, her ship, or her crew, but nothing relevant has emerged since then. There are rumors, of course—that Ching Shih was destroyed at Tzenketh, that she has been hunting Cardassian military vessels, that she is a ghost exacting revenge on the Cardassian Union.”
“I’ve heard those rumors, too. But has no one heard directly from her since she contacted the Vulcans?”
“Not that I’m aware of.”
He grabbed her hands. “Listen, I have to make a personal request. If you hear anything that might help me find Kathryn, I need to know. But you can’t record it in your files. Keep it somewhere separate. Better yet, keep it in your head. Can you do that?”
She squeezed his fingers. “I will for you.”
Annika wasn’t sure if she should ask. In her head, she put the pieces together like a puzzle.
He called her “Kathryn.” No one called her that. She was Captain Janeway, the bitch of Sol system, the monster, or—more recently—seve tunkajik. She was never Kathryn.
At some point, Chakotay must have known her quite personally. But he wasn’t in contact with her anymore. What had they been to each other? And how had they fallen apart?
Somehow, they both were connected to this Marta woman.
“Here,” Chakotay said, crossing the room to grab his vest and taking a small tablet from one pocket. He tapped it a few times and then handed the device to Annika. “On the off chance you come across a recording that’s audio-only, or in case she’s altered her appearance.”
She stared at the single remaining file listed on the screen.
“It’s a comm recording from the first time Kathryn and I spoke. Her voice is very distinctive. Listen to that a few times and you’ll know it anywhere.” When he paused, she glanced up and met his dark eyes. The pain in them was palpable. “Probably best not to mention this to anyone, including the Vulcans.”
From a different pocket, he produced one isolinear chip and another tablet identical to the one she’d just given him—a blank for her notes. He set it on the table.
Annika put Chakotay’s tablet on top of her blank one and took his hand. “We still have time. Would you like to talk about it?”
“I probably shouldn’t.”
“Perhaps something else, then?”
He hesitated, eyes darting from the table to the couch and back to Annika.
An idea surfaced, something that often made it easier for Chakotay to talk. If not, at least Annika could offer him some comfort before he had to return to his ship.
“The recording will still be there when you leave,” she said, rising and untying her robe. The garment slipped easily from her shoulders. She undid his as she tugged him towards the bed. “Come.”
“Annika,” he said, “I don’t—“
She put a finger to his lips. “It’s not that. Lay with me. I don’t want you leaving like this. Let me touch you. You can talk if you want. Tell me what it was that made you upset before your visit.” She wrapped her arms around his waist and kissed him. “Or, if you’d prefer, we can just touch.”
He tucked her hair behind her ear and nodded.
Crawling into bed and spooning her body around his, she waited patiently for him to speak. She stroked his chest, his stomach, his legs, and trailed kisses from one shoulder to the other. Eventually, his muscles relaxed.
He sucked in a deep breath. “It’s my first officer. B’Elanna. I think…”
The agony in his voice was almost more than Annika could bear. She hugged him closer and pressed her lips to the back of his neck.
“I think she wants to leave.”
Chapter 2: Kathryn
Eight months after the battle of Tzenketh
Kathryn stalked through the streets of Risa’s Terran district, Murphy and Parsons in tow, looking for a bloody scrape or a good fuck... or both. Her hair, which had grown some in the eight months since her break with the Alliance, was dyed black. Her face was layered with makeup, bleaching her skin, contouring her features, and forming a thick, messy outline around her eyes. Only her lips held any real color—her favorite blood-red hue. She was sheathed, neck to toes, in black.
She wasn’t Kathryn Janeway. She wasn’t even human. She was a wraith in the night, a monster looking to feed.
The thick heels of her boots clomped as she passed seedy bars, noisy gaming halls, and cloying smoke shops. The last time she’d been on Risa, she’d gone to an upscale pleasure house several blocks away. She’d been wealthier then. It was a nice place, and reliably clean, but far too refined for her tastes tonight.
Besides, the management there had kept identification records on all clients, and she was a wanted woman using a false identity. Kathryn needed somewhere nice enough to keep their workers healthy but greedy enough to overlook a few outlaws.
A few places seemed to have potential from the outside, but they were either too discerning or too disgusting. She was just about ready to punch someone by the time she stomped into the fifth establishment she’d looked at in less than an hour.
Two lounge areas spread out on either side of her. A holoprojector sat in the center of each playing different pornographic feeds while patrons reclined on couches to watch. Most had sex workers on their laps or at their feet, but a few simply watched the depravity carrying on around them.
As Kathryn passed the exhibitionists and voyeurs, one of the feeds changed. A new voice purred from the speakers, one Kathryn would recognize anywhere.
Swiveling, she ordered Murphy out of her way and stared at the holorecording of her former first mate—or rather, the imposter who had posed as her. Marta sat on her bed, legs spread wide as she teased her labia open, slid two fingers between the folds, and stroked herself. “You like that?” the recording asked.
“Hey,” said a man, grasping Kathryn’s shoulder. “No free watches. You pay or you leave.”
She whirled on him, taking the long, wicked-looking knife from its sheath behind her back and raising it to his neck. “Turn that shit off.”
To the Risan’s credit, he stood his ground. “Loiterers don’t get to make requests.”
She reached into a pocket and pulled out a bag of coins. “Turn that shit off.”
He glanced over her shoulder at the people filling that section. One man shouted with an orgasm, and another laughed uproariously before yelling, “Oh yeah, right in her face!”
“Other customers seem to be enjoying it,” the Risan said, returning his gaze to Kathryn. “If you have an issue, maybe you should choose choose another establishment. There’s a group of religious fanatics up the street you could—”
Kathryn slashed the man’s throat before he could finish, then drove the blade into his head from jaw to brain. His wide eyes stared at her in shock, mouth hanging open as he gurgled, convulsed, and went limp. She grabbed his chin, yanked the weapon free, and shoved the man’s body away. It landed with a thud.
Meeting the startled gaze of a Risan woman behind the front desk, she pointed her bloodied knife at Marta’s image and said, “Change the goddamn feed.”
“You’re getting hot now, aren’t you?” Marta crooned.
The woman at the desk gave a slight bow and tapped on her console. “It won’t play for the rest of the night.”
“Good,” Kathryn said, wiping her blade clean and sheathing it as she strode towards the desk. Marta’s voice faded away, a different feed replacing her. “Now, show me the profiles of everyone available for a private session. Health records included.”
Within minutes of making her selection, Kathryn was escorted into the room of a tall, impossibly beautiful woman with golden hair and mesmerizing blue eyes. A few concessions to vanity had been made—full lips painted dusky-pink, hooded eyes thinly lined with black, long lashes that had been curled and darkened. Otherwise, her natural beauty was left to speak for itself.
And, Kahless, did it speak.
Kathryn’s lips curled as she appraised the woman whose file listed her name as “Annika.” Her posture was perfect—shoulders back, spine straight, chin held parallel to the floor. Both hands hung loosely at her sides, and her expression was neutral. No smile, no lust. Just calm, measured observation.
This was a woman who knew her own beauty, who owned it, and who acted like the professional she was. She commanded respect without ever saying a word.
Kathryn liked her already.
Taking a step forward, Kathryn allowed her gaze to travel downward. The neckline of Annika’s sheer gray dress plunged from shoulders to waist, nipples straining against the thin fabric that draped over her full breasts. The garment’s waistline cinched over a toned stomach, with hips and legs only hinted at beneath the flowing knee-length skirt. The effect was immediate—Kathryn yearned to see and touch everything beneath that gown.
“They said to call you ‘Annika.’”
Annika inclined her head. “Pleasure to meet you, Miss DuBuc.”
“Call me Carina,” Kathryn said, closing the distance between them. A faint, floral scent floated in the air—pleasant and soothing.
“As you wish, Carina. Before we begin, is there anything in particular you’d like to request? Any roles you’d like me to play or specific activities you wish to engage in?” Annika’s voice was smooth and lovely, her delivery direct yet somehow not dull.
“Nothing out of the ordinary.”
“Is there anything you wish to avoid?”
“My armor stays put,” Kathryn said, though the prospect of Annika’s flawless skin against hers was a hard temptation to resist.
“I’ll let you know if something comes up.”
For a moment, neither woman moved or spoke. Kathryn studied Annika’s eyes, looking for clues to her internal processes. Was she afraid? Excited? Ambivalent? Had she chosen her line of work, or had she been sent by the Alliance to Risa because of her beauty? The neutrality in her expression was maddening.
Annika ticked a brow. “You seem the type to prefer taking charge, yet you have not touched me.”
No questions. No insecurity. Just a statement of fact. An observation. Annika was a thinking woman.
“I don’t generally initiate sex without some form of consent,” Kathryn said.
“You’ve paid for my services. Most clients presume consent is included in that transaction.”
“That transaction was completed without your presence or approval. You may not be a slave, but that doesn’t mean you want to be here, nor does it mean you desire my company. And I don’t fuck anyone who doesn’t want to fuck me.”
When Annika smiled, liquid pooled between Kathryn’s thighs. Reaching for the straps of her dress, Annika shrugged the garment from her shoulders and let it slip to the floor. “I desire your company, Carina.”
Kathryn licked her lips. The woman was a goddamned masterpiece. With both hands, Kathryn traced every line and angle and curve of Annika’s body—the tops of her shoulders, the bones below her throat, the slope and peak of each breast and the valley in between them, the hourglass shape of her frame, the twin half-moons of her ass. Kathryn trailed her fingertips up Annika’s spine and slid the other hand between her thighs.
Annika’s pussy was as smooth as every other part of her, save the top of her head. She leaned into Kathryn’s touch, humming when Kathryn slipped a finger between her folds.
“So wet already,” Kathryn murmured.
“You’re a beautiful woman,” Annika said. “May I touch you?”
With slender fingers, Annika flicked open Kathryn’s pants and pushed them down as far as she could reach without bending. She cupped Kathryn’s pussy, teased the curls of hair, then slid her fingers inside.
Kathryn drew in a sharp breath. She’d expected Annika to mirror her own touch, not to penetrate her so brazenly and so soon. But then the woman was dragging Kathryn’s fluids out and slicking them over her folds, and suddenly she understood.
The shaft of one boot fell away from Kathryn’s leg, soon followed by the other. Was Annika unzipping them with her toes? Kathryn’s mind couldn’t process what was happening, pulled as it was towards the pleasure of Annika’s fingers on her clitoris.
The fingers fell away.
Annika knelt, dragging Kathryn’s pants down. Placing a hand behind Kathryn’s knee, Annika lifted her out of boot and pant leg. She repeated the process with Kathryn’s other leg, shifted the small pile of garments aside, and slid her hands up to Kathryn’s hips.
“May I taste you, Carina?” she asked, blue eyes wide and wanting.
“Yes,” was all Kathryn could manage.
She started off slow, using careful fingers to peel back the outer labia before threading her tongue in between the folds. The touch was light and precise, gliding along the skin, teasing, raising gooseflesh all along Kathryn’s arms. When Annika flicked her tongue over the nub, Kathryn gasped at the bolt of pleasure that shot through her.
Massaging the outermost layer with her thumbs, Annika laved Kathryn’s pussy with her tongue, alternating between precise lines drawn by the tip and broad strokes made by the flattened surface. Pressure built behind the stimulation, threatening to drag Kathryn under, when Annika gave one last flick and pulled away.
“Fucking hell,” Kathryn groaned.
Annika stood and smiled. “Are you usually this impatient?”
“In sex? Yes.”
She chuckled as she guided Kathryn backwards. “It’s better when it comes slowly.”
The backs of Kathryn’s knees connected with the bed. “I thought I was the one in charge here.”
“That doesn’t mean I can’t teach you a few things.”
Kathryn’s eyes fell to Annika’s lips. She traced a finger along them. “Do you have any rules about kissing?”
“I asked you first.”
Annika kissed Kathryn’s fingertips. “I do not.”
“Good,” Kathryn murmured before taking Annika’s lips with her own. She combed her fingers into Annika’s silky hair.
When Annika slid her tongue into Kathryn’s mouth, Kathryn tasted herself.
For a while, it was only that—tongues tangling and hands meandering over smooth skin. Eventually, Kathryn broke the kiss and sank onto the bed. She scooted back, beckoning Annika to follow. She’d thought of ordering Annika to lay back against the pillows, but before she could open her mouth to speak Annika was hovering over her.
Kathryn fell back against the mattress.
Annika pressed her mouth to Kathryn’s, sucking gently on her bottom lip before licking her way inside. Her hair slipped down, surrounding their faces. She lowered herself onto Kathryn and rolled her hips like waves, labia kissing in just the right way and wet heat mingling between them.
Kathryn’s body thrummed, the ache inside her becoming nearly unbearable. She dug her fingers into Annika’s perfect ass, creating as much friction as she could. Her skin was hot, her heart pounded in her ears, and her nipples strained to reach through her layers of clothing and armor. Soon it all became too much, and Kathryn had to break the kiss so she could breathe.
Then Annika came to a full stop.
Kathryn groaned, but Annika rolled her hips and the sound morphed into a moan.
“Patience, Carina,” Annika purred as she lowered her lips to Kathryn’s neck.
But Kathryn couldn’t stand being teased anymore, and rolled Annika under her. She straddled Annika’s thigh and pressed her own against Annika’s body. “I’m not here to be patient.” She thrust her hips once, eliciting a gasp. “I’m here to fuck.”
Before Annika could reply, Kathryn surged against her. Heat erupted like a violent reaction, tearing through every nerve and fueling Kathryn’s drive to finish.
Annika bit her lip, only barely muffling a loud moan.
“Don’t hold back,” Kathryn said, voice low and rasping. “If you like it, let me know.”
“I like it.”
“What do you want?”
“That’s usually my line,” Annika gasped out.
Kathryn leaned down, biting Annika’s lip. “I’m giving the orders here. Tell me what you want.”
A wanton smile spread across Annika’s lips. “I want you to fuck me until you can’t come anymore.”
“Then that’s exactly what you’re gonna get.” With that, Kathryn took Annika’s mouth and swept her tongue inside. Their moans vibrated against skin and bone, chests heaving, hips gaining speed as the pleasure gathered inside Kathryn’s body.
When it crashed, Kathryn wrenched her lips from Annika’s and keened, her feet spasming and her eyes snapping shut. She curled her fingers into the bedding, riding the waves that rolled through her.
Even as the pleasure ebbed away, she continued to grind. She wasn’t even close to done with the beautiful woman beneath her.
“Come for me,” Kathryn said, regaining control over her breath. “I want to hear you scream.”
Annika smiled. “As you wish.” Digging her feet into the mattress, she pushed even harder against Kathryn’s body. Steady breathing became gasps, moans, and whispers of “oh God, yes.”
“That’s right,” Kathryn murmured. “It feels so good. I’ll make you come so hard you scream. And when you scream, I’ll come, too.”
Annika’s mouth fell open, her moans becoming louder and louder with each thrust. She pressed her head back against the pillow, dug her nails into Kathryn’s skin, and howled.
Annika’s cry was just as perfect as the rest of her. A shiver ran down Kathryn’s spine at the sound, clenching the muscles in her pelvis and bursting the bubble inside. Just as she’d predicted, Kathryn followed Annika right over the edge, her body pulsing while Annika writhed beneath her.
As their orgasms faded, Kathryn bent to kiss Annika’s chest. She wanted a breather, but there was plenty of time yet to go. “You have no idea how much I’ve needed this.”
Annika smiled. “I could tell what you needed as soon as you walked in my door.”
Kathryn considered Annika’s words, thinking back to the moment they met and the first few minutes of their time together. She trailed her lips along the curve of Annika’s breast. “You did, didn’t you? The interview at the start was simply routine.”
“Not entirely. Some clients do surprise me, and questions allow me to open conversations regarding unique desires or other preferences I cannot ascertain from a look.”
“But you read people well.”
“Yes, I do.”
Kathryn studied Annika’s face, seeking more truths hidden behind that well-schooled expression. “Is this ability limited to appraising your clients’ sexual needs, or does it transcend your profession?”
“You wish to know what else I’ve noticed in you,” Annika said.
The response made Kathryn’s lips twitch. “If I said yes, would you tell me what you see?”
“It’s interesting you should ask, because there is something I wish to tell you that has nothing to do with our current transaction.”
Kathryn grabbed Annika’s wrists and pinned them above her head. “Oh? And what would that be?”
“Perhaps we should wait until we’re finished.”
Kathryn kissed her way from Annika’s neck to her ear, blocking Annika’s view as Kathryn reached for the hilt of her knife. “No, I’d really like to know right now.”
“Very well. You’re Captain Janeway of the pirate vessel Ching Shih, aren’t you?”
The knife slid out quickly, and Kathryn held it to Annika’s throat. “Choose your next words wisely.”
Annika didn’t even flinch. “I’ll take that as a yes.”
“Who are you working for?”
“No one,” Annika said, “but I know someone who’s looking for you.”
“There are entire empires looking for me,” Kathryn said. “You’ll have to be more specific.”
“Captain Chakotay of the Terran Resistance.”
Kathryn pulled back the knife, some deeply treasonous part of her thrilling at the mention of his name. “You’ve seen him?”
“He is my contact in the resistance. He has intelligence he believes you’ll want.”
Kathryn arched an eyebrow. “So you do work for someone.”
”No. I merely pass intelligence.”
“I see,” Kathryn said. “And what intelligence is it that Captain Chakotay wants to give me?”
“Wait for him and you will get your answer. His crew is due to arrive here tomorrow.”
Interesting. Kathryn turned the information over in her head, looking for the catch. The timing was convenient, but almost certainly unintentional. She’d promised her crew long enough for everyone to enjoy at least a few hours planetside, so it wouldn’t put her off their schedule. And Ching Shih was cloaked a fair distance away, a rebuilt transport ship running between it and Risa. If this was a trap, it wouldn’t accomplish much.
What kind of intelligence would prompt Chakotay to put his contacts on the lookout for her?
“Does anyone else know I’m here?” Kathryn asked.
Annika gave the slightest shake of her head. “No one has heard from Captain Janeway in months, Carina.” She curled her lips into a sly smile. “From what I’m given to understand, she died at Tzenketh. She’s little more than a ghost tale sailors tell one another when they’re drunk and bored and lacking for pleasurable company like mine.”
Kathryn slid her knife back into its sheath. Annika was a slippery one, but Kathryn’s gut told her the courtesan didn’t wish her ill. Besides, she was quite amusing … and intelligent … and beautiful...
“I’ve made you upset,” Annika observed. She flipped Kathryn on her back and rolled her hips, sending a thrill of pleasure through Kathryn’s still-tingling nerves. “Allow me to remedy that.”
Annika crawled down Kathryn’s body, slid two fingers inside, and put her lips to Kathryn’s labia. As she stroked Kathryn’s inner wall, she licked and sucked Kathryn’s cunt so expertly that Kathryn flew apart in a matter of minutes. Yet when the climax came, Annika didn’t stop until Kathryn came again—so hard this time she made a mess of them both. Only then did Annika slither up Kathryn’s body, parting Kathryn’s thighs with one leg and surging against her.
When Kathryn and her guards finally returned to the transport ship, she collapsed onto the bench seat and fell instantly asleep, the rebel captain Chakotay nowhere near her thoughts.
Chapter 3: B’Elanna
For the first time in months, B’Elanna decided to take some time for herself on Risa while Chakotay met with his courtesan friend for sex and intel. She fidgeted with the hem of her black mini dress as she waited in line at Club Inasha. It was a place she used to frequent, but that was before she’d started fucking Chakotay again.
Now that she and Chakotay were on the rocks, B’Elanna needed to get away for a while.
“Fuck him,” she muttered to herself. Between the noise of the crowd and the barely-muffled music pumping inside, no one would hear her.
Not that she cared if they did. The k’pekt deserved it after three months of Kathryn-this and Kathryn-that. B’Elanna was infinitely better to him than Janeway could ever be—and had known him longer. Yet he still obsessed over that elitist, blood-thirsty bitch.
B’Elanna was just about done with him.
At the front of the line, a bouncer she didn’t recognize stopped her and scowled at the ridges on her forehead. “This is a Terran club, Klingon. We don’t serve oppressors here.”
“I’m half Terran,” she growled. “I’ve been a member of this club for more than two years. If you’d look at your fucking console, you’d see that.”
“You’re still half oppressor,” the man snarked back. ”You’d better leave... or I’ll make you leave.”
B’Elanna was considering the consequences of knocking the man out cold when a more familiar face peeked out from inside. “B’Elanna?”
She broke into a smile at the sight of the club’s manager. “Bobby! How’s it going?”
“Great! Is my muscle here giving you some trouble?”
“Little bit,” she said, forcing a casual lightness into her voice.
He clapped the bouncer on the shoulder. “Don’t you recognize one of the heroes of Tzenketh? Good God, man! Let her through. No charge.”
“Oh, Bobby,” she crooned, “you don’t have to.”
He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and guided her inside. “I insist. Where the hell have you been? I haven’t seen you in…”
“Seven months. But who’s counting?”
“Well you know where everything is, and if you need anything at all, just let me know. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the bar tonight. New bartender. You know how it is.”
She didn’t know, but she chuckled and nodded her head. “Right.”
“Anyway, B,” he said, giving her shoulder a squeeze, “it’s great to see you.”
“You, too, Bobby,” she said as he slipped into the crowd. She pondered following him to the bar to get herself a drink, but decided to survey the club first.
The main room was a large, open area with different sections for different activities. At the far end were four stages built into a wall and protected by thick panels of glass. Off to one side of her were several private booths separated by cubicles so people could enjoy the benefits of the club experience without being watched.
B’Elanna turned instead to the open booths.
There were twice as many open booths as there were private ones, most of which were occupied by couples and groups at play while other patrons watched. At one booth, she spotted a Trill man stroking his thick cock as two Terran women fucked someone B’Elanna couldn’t see. She was just about to slide in beside him and offer a blowjob when someone else caught her eye.
Two someones, actually.
The men sat a few booths away kissing heavily. Their clothes were still on and there were only a couple of onlookers, so they must not have been there long. But something was familiar about them—one with short dark-blonde hair and the other with long, sleek black hair. The one with the black hair crawled onto the other man’s lap, breaking the kiss just long enough for her to glimpse his face.
No doubt the man with him was Janeway’s pilot, Tom Paris. How had she not noticed them in line outside? No matter, they were here now.
B’Elanna smiled, a plan already forming in her mind.
She strolled to their booth and sat on the low table. “Funny running into you two here.”
The onlookers groaned. “Take a seat, Klingon bitch,” one said.
B’Elanna ignored them.
Breaking the kiss, Harry twisted around to see who had spoken.
Tom smiled. “Well, well, look who’s in town.”
“Just wanted to blow off some steam,” she said. “And maybe a few men.” B’Elanna leaned back on her elbows and crossed one knee over the other, nudging Tom’s calf with the pointed toe of her high-heeled shoe. “You know, if I tell the manager we want to put on a show, he’ll probably give us a stage.” She shrugged, casting Tom and Harry a sideways glance. “If you’re interested.”
Tom’s lips curved in a wicked smile. “What do you think, Har?”
Harry’s eyes roved over her body, but the look in them was more calculating than lustful. Finally, they settled on her face. “Sounds like an experience I don’t want to miss.”
Within minutes they were stripped, oiled, and led on stage. Outfitted with a pole, boxes of toys and accessories, a few wedge pillows, and stashes of lube and glitter and towels, the stage provided just about anything they could want.
Holorecorders were posted in all four corners, working together to create a full, three-dimensional image to project throughout the club. Half of the stage was a thick foam pad, but where they walked was hard floor.
B’Elanna’s heels—the only items she’d chosen to wear onto the stage—clicked as she made her way towards the pane of glass separating the stage from the clubgoers. There were so many people.
She smiled. Chakotay was going to be pissed when she told him about this.
Before B’Elanna could decide what to do, Harry took charge, wrapping his arms around her from behind and skimming his hands over her slick body. He pressed his lips to her neck, sucking lightly at the skin and pinching it between his teeth.
She leaned her head back and sighed, dragging Harry’s hands down to her cunt. He stroked her, and she canted into the touch.
Kneeling before her, Tom felt his way up her legs and palmed her ass. Harry pulled his hands away, and they were immediately replaced by Tom’s tongue.
B’Elanna gasped, eyes snapping open as the electric current of pleasure coursed through her. She combed her fingers through Tom’s hair as he pressed two digits inside her. Already, her knees wanted to buckle.
But Harry held her in place, one arm circled around her waist while the other hand teased her nipples.
The orgasm came quickly, squeezing around Tom’s fingers and releasing the tension in B’Elanna’s muscles. Until now, she’d been more angry than turned on.
Pushing Harry and Tom away, B’Elanna stepped up to the glass. To her right was a sturdy-looking shelf. Single-use vials of lube filled a small container on top.
She snatched two.
Breaking the seal on one, she slathered Harry’s cock with the slippery fluid. “Use the other one on your boyfriend’s ass,” she said, pressing a second vial into Harry’s hand. “But don’t fuck him just yet.”
As Harry followed her instructions, B’Elanna grabbed Tom by the hair and kissed him. She pressed her body close, trapping his cock between them. He tensed, hips bucking and a groan sliding across her lips.
“He’s ready,” Harry said.
When she broke the kiss, she looked Tom in the eyes and said, “I want you to fuck me, flyboy.”
He didn’t hesitate, grabbing her hips and spinning her around to face the wall. She pressed against the surface, propped a foot on the shelf, and leaned her hips back.
Tom pushed inside.
Across the club, holofeeds shifted from stock porn recordings to the live image of them. B’Elanna watched herself, legs spread, palms out, and breasts flat against the glass. Tom fucked her from behind, and Harry stood at the very back fucking him.
It wasn’t unappealing—not in the least. Just looking at the feed made B’Elanna’s clit twinge, and she had the impulse to touch herself.
But it wasn’t what they’d been put on stage for.
She grabbed a chunk of Tom’s hair and yanked his head forward, sinking her teeth deep into his cheek. He shouted, his thrusts halting and his whole body tensing. Blood filled B’Elanna’s mouth, and she lapped it up.
“Step back, Harry,” she said. “You, too, flyboy.”
They did as they were told. Kicking off her heels, B’Elanna pushed Harry backwards until the floor became soft beneath her feet. She dragged his face to hers and bit him.
He grabbed a fistful of hair and bit her right back.
She smiled, his blood already growing sticky on her lips. “Wanna taste yourself?”
Harry crushed his mouth against hers, dragging her bottom lip between his teeth and biting down. The metallic tang of blood filled her mouth and she swallowed it down. His tongue probed, thrusting and lapping like she was water and he was dying of thirst. He pressed his strong body against hers, clutching her hips and grinding that hard cock on her.
Tom came up behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist and kissing her neck. His wet cock slid up and down against her ass.
B’Elanna shoved Harry back, sending him tumbling to the floor. Blood dribbled from her lip onto her chin. “Scoot back and I’ll show you guys how to fuck a woman with two pussies.”
Pushing Tom’s hands away, B’Elanna followed Harry to the middle of the pad and knelt over him. She snatched a clean towel from a stack nearby and wiped his dick clean, massaging as she did.
Tossing the towel aside, she straddled his hips and sank onto him. She pressed her hands to his chest, pumped a few times, and glanced over her shoulder. “Your turn.”
Tom licked his lips and knelt behind her.
“Ever fucked a Klingon woman before?” she asked.
“As a matter of fact—“ Tom said, using a finger to probe for her second entry before plunging inside.
“—I have.” Tom pulled her back flush against his chest. “But something tells me I’m going to like you a whole lot better.”
Harry sat up, sandwiching B’Elanna between the men’s bodies. “Let’s show our hero of Tzenketh why two men are better than one.”
“My pleasure,” Tom said, and thrust into her.
They moved in perfect sync, cocks sliding against the narrow wall between one pussy and the other. Someone’s hands supported her hips, someone else’s her waist. She didn’t know which set belonged to which man, nor did she care as long as they never, ever stopped. It had been months since she’d taken two at once, and the feeling was transcendent.
Her head lolled back onto Tom’s shoulder as he nibbled on her neck and Harry kissed her breasts. Every part of her was in contact with someone else, every nerve tingling, every move one of them made reverberating through her entire body. She sank her nails into Harry’s shoulders.
They were able to keep a slow and sensual pace for a while, their moans and vulgar words echoing throughout the club. But the closer they got to climax, the more they lost themselves in the moment, and the harder it was to maintain their rhythm.
The grip on her waist tightened and Tom picked up the pace of his hips. His cock moved in counterpoint to Harry’s, the divergent motions pushing her all the more rapidly towards the edge.
All it took was Harry’s finger on her clitoris to send her plummeting over it.
She howled when she came, squeezing her eyes shut as a flash of white exploded in her head. Her whole existence became that light, consuming her until it faded to black.
Somewhere outside of her body, Harry murmured something she couldn’t understand. Her heart pounded in her ears, mind returning to a body that was already winding up for more. He grated his teeth against her cheek, tearing open the thin crust that had barely begun to form over the wound. It stung, but pain grounded her and made her pussies clench even tighter. Blood trickled down her face.
Tom shouted, cock throbbing as Harry bucked harder and mumbled incoherently. A few seconds later, Tom slipped out and away, the pressure of his body leaving B’Elanna’s back.
She focused on the sound of Harry’s voice and the pace of his hips, meeting him thrust for thrust. His fingers circled and flicked her clit, building her arousal. They were both so very close. She grabbed him by the hair and pushed his face to her breast. “Bite me when you come.”
And suddenly he was coming, pulsing and emptying inside of her. He bit down just as she’d asked, not quite drawing blood but sending pain coursing through her body.
It was enough to send her over with him, the mingling pain and pleasure screaming along her every nerve and ripping the cry right out of her mouth. She ground furiously against Harry’s hips, fucking him hard until her climax was done.
Distantly, she could hear the moans and cries of other patrons, probably getting off to their dramatic finish.
“You’re right, Tom,” she said, running a finger down Harry’s chest. “Two is definitely better than one.”
Tom pressed a few kisses between her shoulder blades. “What did I tell ya?”
Hooking his arms beneath her shoulders, Tom pulled her to her feet so Harry could slide out. Her legs trembled—no, her whole body trembled. Somehow, she was simultaneously exhausted and exhilarated, part of her wanting to collapse right there and another part wanting to go again.
Tom and Harry each took one of her hands and led her away.
Backstage, the three of them collapsed into a heap on a large, plush couch. A few seconds later, club staff brought their clothes and shoes. None of them had the energy to get dressed right away.
“That was amazing,” Tom said.
“It was,” B’Elanna said before dragging his lips to hers. Kahless, the man could kiss.
“I’m glad you found us,” Harry said, resting his head in her lap.
B’Elanna hummed, nipped Tom’s lip, and pulled away. “I want to go freshen up. Why don’t you guys meet me at the bar, and we can have some drinks and catch up?”
“Sounds good to me,” Harry said.
Tom wagged his eyebrows. “Let’s go.”
Claiming a small table by the bar, B’Elanna, Harry, and Tom gave their drink orders to a server. The music was quieter in this section of the club, which was designated as a no-sex socialization spot.
After the drinks came, B’Elanna took a sip—ah, thank Kahless for good quality liquor—and leaned back. “So what are you two doing here?”
“Finally convinced the captain to take a break so everyone could relax for a bit,” Tom said.
“I see,” she said casually. “Chakotay’s been looking for her, you know.”
“What for?” Harry asked.
She shrugged. “Booty call, most likely.”
Tom snickered, but Harry gave her a disbelieving look.
She sighed. “Okay, well that and he has intel he wants her to see. I don’t know how long you’re planning on staying, but we don’t usually stick around here too long. We’re gonna have to figure out a way to get our captains in a room together.”
“Is it that important?” Harry asked. “This intel he has?”
She shrugged. “Maybe.”
“I’m gonna need a better answer than that.”
“I don’t know what she’ll think of it,” she said, swirling the liquor in her glass. “Chakotay thinks it’s important.”
“Don’t you think it’s important?” Tom asked.
“Then why bring it up?”
She set her drink on the table. “Partly because I care about Chakotay, and I hate seeing him like this.” It was true, loath as she was to admit it. But she also didn’t want to linger on the admission, so she leaned forward and ran a hand over Harry’s chest. “Partly because that was, by far, the best sex I’ve ever had and I’d like to do it again as soon as possible.”
“Why wait?” Tom said, nodding to a vending machine in the corner stocked with lubes, toys, Risan vasodilators, and Terran contraceptive/antiviral cocktails. “We’ll grab some vasos and be ready for round two. Captain’s out of contact until tomorrow anyway. Might as well make the most of tonight.”
B’Elanna hummed. “That sounds like fun. If you don’t mind, though, I’d rather make this one a private show.”
“Where are you staying?” Harry asked.
Grabbing his shirt and dragging him close, she pinched his cheek between her teeth and licked the blood that seeped from the clot. “Come with me and I’ll show you.” She ran a hand up his thigh, palming his dick and smiling when it thrummed to life. “You don’t need a vaso, do you? I’ll bet if I sucked on you for a minute or two, I could throw you on that bar and fuck you while your boyfriend watches.”
“That’s a tasty image,” Tom said.
Harry shuddered. “You’re probably right, though we’d definitely get thrown out.”
She sat back. “Then why don’t you guys grab a few vasos before we go, and we’ll have some more fun at my place?”
“A few?” Harry asked.
“Yeah,” she said, tracing her plunging neckline with her fingers. “I’ve got all night.”
Tom yanked Harry from his chair and they made for the vending machine, arguing over how much to buy.
B’Elanna smiled to herself, imagining the look on Chakotay’s face when she dragged them before him with bleeding cheeks and giddy faces. He’d be furious, for sure. But how would he handle his rage? Would he sit there, shooting her smoldering looks while he questioned them? Yell at her in private after banishing them to a holding cell? Would he bite her right in front of them, claiming her as his own?
The latter was unlikely, of course. Even angry, he wasn’t the possessive or brazen type. Still, she indulged her secret, guilty fantasy as she finished her drink—Chakotay’s teeth sinking into her cheek, his hands pinning her to the deck, that thick cock ravishing her body and filthy words spewing from his mouth as Harry and Tom watched...
“Ready to go?” Tom asked when he and Harry returned, snapping her mind back to the present.
She slid out of her seat, looped her arms through theirs, and squeezed a tiny comm device in her hand twice.
A few seconds later, the three of them disappeared in a transporter beam.
Chapter 4: Chakotay
Chakotay’s eyes fluttered open, but he hissed and snapped them shut again at the throbbing pain in his head.
“Sorry about that,” Kathryn said, though she sounded more amused than apologetic.
The sound of her voice shocked him to his senses.
Chakotay forced his eyes open, but the woman standing over his biobed had long black hair and a face that looked like it belonged to a ghost. “Kathryn?”
“Hello, Chakotay,” she said, no smile or hint of warmth crossing her features.
“You look different.”
“No shit.” Her gaze shifted to a balding man in a lab coat on the other side of the biobed. “Are you going to give him something for that headache, or do I have to do everything myself?”
“I didn’t realize pain relief was something you cared to provide for this abductee, Captain,” the man said. He retrieved a strange device Chakotay had never seen before, slid a vial inside, and pressed it to Chakotay’s neck.
Chakotay braced himself for a needle, but only a slight tingling sensation accompanied the injection. Instantly, the pain in his head vanished. “Is that a hypo-injector?”
“It is,” Kathryn said. “I find it much preferable to the Klingon infatuation with needles. Don’t you?”
He’d seen hypo-injectors on Risa, but the one Kathryn’s crewmate held was different. Possibly something taken from a Cardassian ship.
“Anything else, Captain?” the balding man asked.
“That’ll be all, Doctor Zimmerman.”
Zimmerman grunted and ambled away.
Kathryn’s black-rimmed eyes fell on Chakotay. “Let’s go somewhere a little more private, shall we?” Stepping over to the nearest control panel, she entered in a sequence of commands.
A moment later, Chakotay was lying on the deck in a familiar room.
Kathryn turned away and stalked towards her couch.
He got to his feet and followed her, though he did not sit. He crossed his arms and glared down at her as she reclined. “What the hell did you do to me?”
“Nothing too untoward. It seems you and I have similar taste in women. Your courtesan friend told me you’d be on Risa sometime today and that you were looking for me, so I decided to find you.”
He nodded. “Annika told me you were with her last night.”
“I’d considered grabbing you before you saw her, but then I thought it might be to my advantage to wait until after you two were done.” She gave him a sharp smile. “Turns out I was right.”
Suddenly, he realized how light his vest felt. He searched the pockets for the intel Annika had given him, but came up empty.
“Don’t worry,” Kathryn said. “You’ll get it back before you go. I just wanted to have a little peek. And I won’t blow your source’s cover. I like her. She’s a smart woman.”
A million different thoughts and emotions ran through his mind, but Chakotay shook his head. “Doesn’t matter. None of what you took matters as much as the intel I have for you.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Oh? And what might that be?”
He perched on the coffee table in front of her. “Three months ago, I got a holorecording taken from a Cardassian prison that shows Marta Zelle exercising in her cell.”
Kathryn sat up straight. She pulled her hands into her lap as her face went cold. God, she looked like death incarnate wearing all that makeup.
He grabbed her hands. “She’s alive, Kathryn. And she looked perfectly healthy.”
She yanked her hands from his and began to pace across the room.
“I don’t have the recording with me,” Chakotay said, “but if you let me return to my ship—“
“My transport vessel has already left to shuttle people to Risa,” she snapped. “Obviously, I can’t just drop our cloak and take you there, and our shuttlecraft are too easily identifiable.”
She turned on him. “Why, Chakotay? Why the months-long search to give me this? What do you want?”
He frowned. “You love her, and I care about you. You deserve to know what happened to the woman you love, to have the chance to find her if you can. And I want to help.”
Kathryn barked out a laugh. “How could you possibly help? The only reason I can pass through Cardassian space is because of the cloak. If you try to follow me there, you’ll be a debris field before you get within three lightyears of the border.”
“Take me with you.”
“And why would I want to do that?”
Chakotay strode towards her. “Because if you take B’Elanna and me with you on a mission to rescue Marta, the resistance will give you the resources, information, and contacts you need to find her and get her out.”
She narrowed her eyes. “What does the resistance hope to get out of this little arrangement?”
“We have people in there, too.”
Kathryn glared at him, jaw clenching and unclenching beneath stark white skin. “I want to see that recording.”
“You’ll have it as soon as I can retrieve it for you.”
“I’m not going to make a decision until I see it.”
“Chakotay,” she whispered. He could swear he saw a tremor in her lip. Then she turned and disappeared into the head, the door snapping shut behind her.
Chakotay let out a breath. Seeing her in disguise like that—utterly unrecognizable—yet hearing her speak with the voice that had been haunting his dreams for months… it threw him off-balance. She seemed less expressive than he remembered, though he wasn’t sure if that was the woman or the makeup.
When she’d left him eight month ago, it was obvious that killing Seska had wounded her deeply. She’d screamed and wept over Seska’s body, had allowed him to hold her as she cried. There was ferocity in her when she asked him to make love to her, desire when she undressed him, ecstasy as he made her come over and over again, and sadness when he asked her to stay even though she’d already decided to leave.
What changed since then? Had she lost herself in seeking revenge across Cardassian space? Or had she simply gotten better at masking her emotions?
He ran a hand over his face, then startled when Kathryn emerged from the head. The garish makeup was gone, replaced by her natural pale-pink tones. Without the thick black liner, her eyes looked more blue.
God, she was beautiful.
“Is there a reason why you‘re just standing there?” she asked.
“No,” he said, realizing he hadn’t moved since she left the room. “I was just thinking.”
“Thinking about what?”
“The last time I saw you.”
She scoffed as she strolled away. “That sounds like a line.”
“It’s not. You’ve changed.”
“Maybe I have and you just haven’t noticed it yet.”
She eyed him as she sank onto the couch, a hint of amusement on her face. “Maybe. How is life in the Terran Resistance these days?”
He crossed the room and sat beside her. “Busy. With the Alliance in pieces, we might actually have a chance to get what we want.”
“And what’s that?”
“Independence for all our worlds. Freedom for all our people.”
“I hope you get it.”
“‘You’? No. Us, Kathryn. You and your crew are part of our vision, too.”
She smirked. “I highly doubt that. Besides, I already have freedom.”
He shook his head. “No you don’t. You’re closer to it than any other Terran, but you’re still a second-class citizen. And you’re still trapped in a cycle of violence and bloodshed, just like we are.”
“Except I’m not the one whose blood is being shed. And I enjoy the violence.”
“Do you? Really?”
She ticked an eyebrow. “Is that so hard to believe?”
He studied her face. No hesitation. No doubt. No shame. “I suppose not.”
“But you wish I didn’t.”
“I’ve seen who you are underneath. I know what you want is to survive and to keep your crew safe. But what if those things weren’t an issue? What if you could wake up everyday and never have to worry about survival?”
She shook her head. “You’re right. You have changed. I liked you better as a cynic.”
“Then you should have seen me the first few weeks after you left.”
“Why?” Her expression became derisive. “Did you mourn for me, Chakotay? Put my holoimage in your quarters and kiss it every night before you went to sleep? Question why you bothered to continue living if you couldn’t convince me to love you back?”
“I don’t—” But he couldn’t get the words out. He didn’t love her. He didn’t. Yet her taunts went right to his heart, both because she was intentionally trying to hurt him and because she was at least partially right.
She stood. “One of my guards will show you to your guest quarters. I’ll have my transport take you to your ship in the morning. You can send that holorecording back with the pilot.”
“What?” She sneered. “Did you expect to fuck?”
“No,” he said, “but I—”
“I would have thought you had your fill already. Or do you only meet with your courtesan to discuss rebel secrets?”
“No, I just—”
The comm device in his sleeve buzzed. He should have checked in with Valjean by now, and they were probably wondering where he was.
“You just, what?” Kathryn said.
Chakotay shook his head. “Nothing,” he spat. “Forget it. Have a good night, Kathryn.” With that, he showed himself out.
As soon as the door to his temporary quarters slid shut, Chakotay pinched his comm device. “Chakotay here. Valjean, do you read?”
“Ayala here, sir. We hear you. Got a little worried when you missed your check-in. Is everything alright down there?”
“I’m fine,” Chakotay said. “Ran into a friend and I won’t be back until morning. I’ll explain tomorrow when I return to the ship.”
“How are things there?”
Mike paused. Either someone else had grabbed his attention, or something was wrong.
“Mike?” Chakotay prodded.
“Yeah,” Mike said, “everything’s quiet here, but you should know … XO brought a couple of guests aboard. Said it was important for you to meet with them ASAP.”
“Who did she bring aboard?”
“The bos’n and the pilot from Janeway’s ship.”
Chakotay hung his head and suppressed the urge to laugh. “She’s not planning to torture them or anything, is she?”
“Uh... no sir, I don’t believe so.”
“Tell her I want them returned to their transport ship before it disembarks in the morning.”
“Anything else I should know about?” Chakotay asked.
“Good. I’ll see you in the morning. Chakotay out.” He squeezed the device to drop the comm.
How ironic that B’Elanna abducted two of Kathryn’s men on the same night Kathryn took him. The women were more alike than B’Elanna would care to admit.
Although he knew it would anger her, he needed to tell Kathryn where her men were. Hopefully, it wouldn’t sour her decision about the mission. He slipped out the door and said to the guard, “I need to speak with Captain Janeway. It’s important.”
When Chakotay entered the transporter room the next morning, Kathryn was already standing on the sizable pad.
And she was scowling.
“Your first officer is holding my men hostage. On my transport.”
He sighed. B’Elanna had always held a hostile attitude towards Kathryn, but this was too far. What had gotten into her lately?
Chakotay climbed onto the pad and took his place beside Kathryn. “I’ll talk her down.”
As he materialized on the transport ship, he saw five of Kathryn’s crew surrounding B’Elanna, Kim, and Paris, disrupters drawn and trained on his XO. She, in turn, had a disrupter pressed to the back of Harry’s and Tom’s necks.
All three had bite marks on their cheeks.
B’Elanna’s eyes widened at the sight of him. “Chakotay? How the hell—”
“Let them go, B’Elanna. That’s an order.”
She scoffed. “You’re welcome for coming up with a plan to get you what you’ve wanted for three months. But whatever.” She holstered her weapons, pulled an isolinear chip from her belt, and tossed it to Chakotay.
“At ease,” Kathryn ordered her crew.
B’Elanna grabbed Kim’s and Paris’ shoulders and leaned in. “No hard feelings,” she purred.
Kim looked less than pleased, but Paris shot her a hungry look. “None at all.”
Chakotay scowled, anger rising in his gut. She’d marked them the way Klingons marked mates. What the hell did that mean? She hadn’t seemed to care at all about them eight months ago, but suddenly they’d become a triad?
Kathryn snatched the chip from his hands, plugged it into a tablet she pulled from her tactical vest, and played the recording. Her face revealed nothing as she watched Marta do sit-ups in a tiny cell, but she played it several times before meeting his eyes. “I’ll need to verify the authenticity of this recording.”
“Do what you have to do,” Chakotay said. “You’ve heard our offer and you know where to find me. We’ll stay docked here for another twenty-four hours while you come to your decision.”
“If I decide to work with you, you’ll know before you leave.” She turned to Kim. “Tell the next rotation they’ll be making a pit stop to return Captain Chakotay and his first officer to their ship.”
Kim nodded. “Aye, Captain.”
Four hours later, Chakotay received a text-comm from Ching Shih.
I accept your terms. Our last transport leaves Risa first thing tomorrow morning. Do not be late.
Chapter 5: B’Elanna
B’Elanna and Chakotay were going to be sharing quarters.
Janeway claimed she didn’t keep guest quarters, that Ching Shih had only had two rooms to spare—one for Chakotay and B’Elanna, and one for the Cardassian contacts. She’d sneered at them and said, “I’m sure you two can negotiate sleeping arrangements.”
It was bullshit. Even if every bunk room on the ship had been remade into individual quarters or appropriated for other purposes, Ching Shih didn’t lack for space. D7 cruisers were built to handle more than four times the number of crew Janeway had. They could make room.
“The bed’s yours,” Chakotay told B’Elanna when they dropped off their things.
“It’s big enough for both of us,” she said.
He raised his eyebrows. “I’ll sleep on the couch. I know you’d rather have the bed to yourself.”
“It’s fine.” She stomped over to the dresser and dropped her duffel bag on top of it.
“Nothing’s fine between us right now,” Chakotay snapped. “You haven’t slept with me in almost three months.”
She stuffed her clothes into a drawer. “I’m a big girl, Chakotay. I can deal with it.”
“Do you even plan on sleeping here?” There was venom in his voice.
This was it. He was going to confront her about Harry and Tom. She forced herself to act casual, refusing to cast him a single sideways glance. “What are you talking about?”
“Don’t fuck with me, B’Elanna. If you’ve decided to take Paris and Kim as your mates, fine. But the least you could do is tell me.”
She laughed, sliding the drawer shut and opening another. “Mates? Kahless! I spend one night with them and you think I want to start a family?”
“You marked them.”
She rolled her eyes. “It was a show, Chakotay.”
“I ran into them at Inasha. One thing led to another, and we ended up on stage together.” She slammed the second drawer and rummaged in her bag. “What can I say? People liked it.”
He grabbed her shoulders and spun her around. “You got on stage in the biggest Terran sex club on Risa with two wanted men?”
“Oh calm down,” she spat, pushing his hands away. “No one knows their faces. Just Janeway’s.” She smirked. “I’d say you should try it sometime, but your favorite cunt can’t be seen in public. Sucks for you.”
His lip curled, face flushing red. “You don’t have a goddamn clue what you’re talking about.”
“I think I have a pretty good idea, given how you’ve gone on about her for the last three months.” B’Elanna inched closer, her face nearly touching his. “Well, congratulations, Chakotay. Now you finally have what you want. No need to use me as a substitute anymore. But don’t you dare get on my back about fucking other people when you’re going to be spending more time in her bed than ours.”
His eyes fell to her lips, and she ran her tongue over them. In her mind, she pictured him throwing her against the nearest wall and fucking her until she screamed. She wanted to bite him, to goad him to fuck her, but she also wanted to hear him admit, one way or another, whether he wanted her or Janeway more.
She wanted him to choose her, but she wasn’t about to beg for it.
He dragged his gaze back to hers. “Good to know what you think of me.” With that, he stormed out of the room.
B’Elanna threw her bag at the door, its contents spilling onto the deck. Sinking to the floor, she buried her face in her knees and yelled until her throat went hoarse.
It was an eight-day journey to their rendezvous with the resistance and their Cardassian contacts. The first day on board was mostly about exchanging information—where they were going, who the contacts were, what the resistance was supplying. Station assignments were given, as well—Chakotay to a secondary ops station and B’Elanna to tactical.
Didn’t Janeway have a tactical opsmate for the bridge? Or at least a gunner with experience in strategy and command? Why entrust such a vital station to an outsider?
Despite being B’Elanna’s hostage the day before, Harry invited her to sit with him, Tom, and Ezri in the mess hall for dinner. Afterward, Ezri split off on her own, giving them a sly look before saying goodnight and sauntering away.
“What, no freaky fun with the Trill?” B’Elanna asked.
“Ezri,” Harry corrected as he called a lift. “And no, she’s just a friend.”
“We’re not really her type,” Tom said.
“And we’re not very freaky people,” Harry added.
The lift arrived and they all stepped inside. “You were pretty freaky down on Risa,” B’Elanna said.
“Having sex on stage at a club was a one-time thing for us. We generally prefer our privacy.”
Tom frowned. “No we don’t. We’ve had sex in the cargo bay, the shuttle bay, the access tubes.” He gestured around as the lift slowed to a stop and opened. “The lifts.”
“Heat of the moment,” Harry said as they stepped into the corridor.
Tom leaned closer to B’Elanna. “And the first time we had sex—“
“Tom—” Harry warned.
“—we were in the community head behind the bridge.”
“You mean that day Janeway kicked you out of our mission-planning meeting?” B’Elanna asked.
“That’s the one,” Tom said, a shit-eating grin on his face.
Harry sighed. “I hate you.”
Tom grabbed Harry’s hand and kissed it. “You love me.”
B’Elanna laughed. “See? I told you. You guys are freaks.”
“Okay, so maybe we can be a little exhibitionistic sometimes.” Harry paused in front of his and Tom’s quarters to enter the code. “But most of the time, we stay right here.” The door opened, and he shot a look at Tom. “And you know it.”
Tom made a sweeping gesture with his arm. “May we show you inside our freaky abode, ma’am?”
Harry rolled his eyes.
B’Elanna grinned. “Absolutely.”
Tom invited her to sit on the couch while Harry replicated some raktajino. “So,” he said settling down beside her. “What about you? Freak or no?”
B’Elanna waggled her eyebrows. “Oh, I’m a total freak.”
“I knew it,” Tom said. “Though, I have to say, you seemed pretty cold when you came for that strategy meeting.”
“That’s because she hates the captain,” Harry said, setting two mugs on the table before taking the spot beside Tom, a third mug in his hand.
Panic shot through her, snapping her upright. “No! I don’t hate her, I just—“
“Utterly despise her.” Harry winked and lifted the mug to his lips.
“No...” B’Elanna sighed. He was right, of course, but she couldn’t afford for that to get around. Not here.
“I don’t care,” Harry said. “And neither does she. Most people outside of our crew either hate her or are terrified of her. Or both. Plus, it’s not exactly a secret that the resistance isn’t a fan.”
“So you just assumed I hate her, too?”
“No, but it was pretty obvious. You weren’t hiding it. You hated her, and you hated the rest of us by proxy.”
Fuck. B’Elanna grabbed her raktajino, curled into the corner of the couch, and blew across the liquid’s steaming surface.
“Come on, Harry,” Tom said, setting down his mug. “Give her a break. You don’t hate us anymore, right?”
“I don’t hate you.” She stared into the dark liquid. “Actually, I was hoping I could spend some more time with you while I’m here.”
Tom put a hand on her knee. “We were thinking the same thing.”
“As long as you don’t hold us hostage again,” Harry said.
B’Elanna laughed. “I don’t plan on it, but you know how it is. Gotta do what you gotta do. Nothing personal.”
“Would you have done it?” Tom asked. “Actually shot us.”
She sipped her drink.
“That’s a yes,” Harry said.
“Is that a problem?” she asked.
“It means you’re loyal to your captain. I respect that.”
“I think, Harry,” Tom said, sliding his hand to her thigh, “we should give B’Elanna some more reasons not to kill us.”
“I don’t know if that’ll work,” Harry said. “She doesn’t seem the type to be swayed that easily.”
B’Elanna set her mug on the table and straddled Tom’s lap. “I think,” she said, grinding against his cock and smiling when it grew in response, “we should punish Harry for his lack of faith in your persuasive abilities.”
Tom thrust against her and caressed her ass. “What did you have in mind?”
“We could tie him up,” she suggested.
Tom shook his head. “He prefers to keep his hands free.”
“Could work,” Tom said, “though he usually likes being in charge.”
“We could make him watch while I fuck you into the couch.”
Tom grinned. “I like it.”
“You guys are assholes,” Harry muttered.
B’Elanna yanked open Tom’s shirt, popping off several buttons. “I never claimed to be nice.”
She crushed her lips against Tom’s, working his shirt off without breaking the kiss. He unfastened her pants and slid his hands inside, his fingers probing her cunt. She fumbled with his pants, not wanting to interrupt their friction but needing to feel his skin.
Finally, she gave in, getting to her feet and stripping off her pants as Tom wriggled out of his own. She glanced at Harry, flashing him a sly smile as he played with his own cock. Crawling onto the couch, she guided Tom’s hard length to her second opening and sank onto it.
They sighed in unison.
Tom inverted B’Elanna’s shirt over her head and unhooked her bra, tossing both garments Harry’s way. He skimmed his hands up her stomach and over her ribs, palming her breasts.
She arched her spine and let her head fall back, hard nipples pressing into his skin. Her breasts tingled beneath his touch. Gripping his shoulders for balance, she rolled her hips against his lap. The delicious slide of him inside her brought a heat that promised quick release.
Tom put a hand on her hip and slid two fingers inside her first opening, his thumb drawing circles over her clit. She moaned, riding his cock and fingers hard towards the finish.
It wasn’t long before stars burst behind her eyes, both pussies clenching as she howled. Her body convulsed, hips stuttering to a halt, but Tom kept stroking her until it was over.
When the orgasm passed, she crawled off and ordered Tom onto his back. “I think Harry has learned his lesson.”
Tom did as he was told and B’Elanna climbed right back onto him, this time sheathing him in her first entry. She pressed her body to Tom’s, kissed him, and said, “Fuck me hard, Quartermaster.”
Harry didn’t hesitate, sliding into her second hole, grabbing her hips, and pounding into her.
She bucked against them both, curling her feet around Tom’s legs as their cocks slid in and out of her and against each other. She grabbed the corners of the cushion for better leverage, fucking Tom as Harry fucked her. Moans, murmurs, and gasping breaths passed back and forth between them. B’Elanna pressed her forehead to Tom’s and squeezed her eyes closed, the pleasure inside her winding so tight she knew it was about to snap.
But it was Harry who came first, his hips stuttering, relieved grunts and groans punctuating his pulsing dick inside her. B’Elanna sped up her pace only to come a few seconds later, her sharp cry met soon after by Tom’s own shout. For just a moment, their climaxes overlapped, Harry and Tom both throbbing as she contracted around them.
Although he finished first, Harry didn’t pull out right away. He held onto B’Elanna’s hips and pressed kisses to her back while she rode the waves rolling through her. Only when Tom was empty and B’Elanna was done did Harry slip out.
B’Elanna smiled down at Tom and kissed him before crawling off. He picked up his legs so the other two could sit, then stretched out across their laps.
Harry settled on the far end and B’Elanna sat against his chest. She dragged his lips down to hers, thrusting her tongue into his mouth as far as she could at such an angle. When she retracted, he plunged inside, reaching so much deeper than she could.
The weight of Tom’s legs lifted. He spread her legs wide and licked her cunt, making her spasm and suck in a breath. Harry didn’t drop the kiss, supporting her head with one hand as he used the other to play with her breasts.
It was too much. She wrenched her mouth from Harry’s, pressed her head into his shoulder, and bucked against Tom’s face. The way his tongue slid between her folds and flicked so precisely over her clit, the way he changed up the movements to stimulate different parts, the slurping sounds he made when he probed inside…
“Kahless,” she moaned.
Tom slid fingers into both entrances. When he curled them against her inner walls, she screamed.
It was late when B’Elanna returned to her shared quarters, still high on her encounter with Harry and Tom. Chakotay was just stepping out of the head, hair damp and a towel wrapped around his waist. Despite her sated state, she had the impulse to run her hands down his tan, muscular chest, drop that towel to the deck, and drag him into bed.
But when her mind conjured an image of him writhing beneath Janeway, the impulse went cold.
“Have a good fuck?” she asked.
He frowned. “What?”
He scoffed and shook his head. “Not that it’s any of your business, but that’s not where I was. I went to the gym.”
“I can smell the sex on you , though,” he said. “Another round with your boy toys?”
She lifted her chin. “As a matter of fact, yes. Why? Wanna join next time?”
“Not even a little.”
“Good. More for me.” She grabbed a robe and made for the head. “I’m going to shower. Don’t wait up.”
The next four days went very much the same. As far as B’Elanna could tell, Chakotay was being honest about not fucking Janeway. It was surprising. Some small, stupid part of her hoped that meant he didn’t want the woman after all, but the rest of her knew better. For whatever reason, Janeway wouldn’t have him. Most likely, she was toying with him. Regardless, B’Elanna kept visiting her new friends, and Chakotay spent his evenings alone in the gym.
On the fifth day, Harry was tired from a particularly frustrating internal sensor array glitch he’d had to fix, and he went to bed early. Ezri suggested B’Elanna and Tom join her for a few rounds of a Trill game called Ak’tani. After that, B’Elanna returned to her quarters, expecting Chakotay would be at the gym.
Instead he was kneeling on the bed, one hand pressed against the mattress and the other wrapped around his cock, a towel spread beneath him as he fucked himself. He muttered an apology and moved to get up.
“Don’t—” B’Elanna said.
She wanted so badly to go to him, to take off her clothes and lie beneath him, to remind him of what he already had right in front of him. If only she could wipe away his fantasies of Janeway and replace them with herself.
But B’Elanna knew who he was thinking of, and it wasn’t her.
“Don’t sweat it,” she said, and shut herself in the head. Stripping off her clothes, she put on an extra-hot shower, rested her head against the wall, and cried.
The next evening when she went to Harry and Tom’s quarters after dinner, she promptly killed the mood. She tried to get into the moment—sighing when Harry kissed her neck, rocking her hips against Tom’s touch—but she wasn’t fooling anyone.
“What’s wrong, B’Elanna?” Harry asked.
She slumped against the couch. “Nothing.”
“I’m with Harry,” Tom said, pulling his hand back to rest on her leg. “You’re not yourself tonight. What happened?”
“It’s just… it’s Chakotay. He and I… see, we’re…” She sighed, not sure how to explain.
“Fucking?” Tom asked.
“No. Well, we were. I mean, we used to. But it’s been weird between us since he got the intel on Zelle. For the last three months, he’s been obsessed with finding Janeway. All he talks about is her, how much it would mean to her to know her girlfriend is alive, and how it could be the thing that pulls her into the resistance.”
Tom laughed. “Fat chance.”
B’Elanna sat up. “Right? That’s what I said, but he won’t listen. I try to tell him to move on. Like, they spent all of, what, five days together? This is ridiculous! He says he got to know her, the ‘real her’ or whatever, and that she’s just wounded deep down like he is. Like we all are. But he doesn’t know her like I do. I grew up around her. I know what she’s capable of—the things she did for my mother.”
Harry pursed his lips, dark eyes gone sad.
Stupid. She was dragging him and Tom just as much as she was dragging Janeway. She sighed. “Look, I know she’s your captain and all, but I just... Chakotay deserves better.”
“Like you?” Harry asked.
She hung her head. “Maybe. I don’t know.”
Harry lifted her chin. “You should tell him.”
“What?” she said. “No, I can’t. He’s been crazy about Janeway since he met her. He almost drank himself to death when she left.”
“Starting to see why you hate her so much,” Tom said.
“How long has he been with you?” Harry asked.
“We got together the first day we met, which was a total fluke for both of us. We got stranded on some moon on our way to his ship. I was pissed at him but we talked, and then it became more. After that, we fucked around for a few months until the excitement faded, and then we were just… friends. Best friends and comrades for more than a year.”
Tom stroked her leg with his thumb, a calming gesture rather than a sexual one.
“After Janeway left,” she continued, “I went to him because he needed that outlet again. But that’s all it was supposed to be. An outlet.” Her lips trembled and tears threatened her eyes, but she forced them back. “It wasn’t supposed to feel like this when it was over.”
Harry wrapped his arms around her. She was surprised at his tenderness, but returned the gesture. Tom rubbed her back.
When Harry let B’Elanna go, he took her hands and looked her in the eyes. “A little over a year ago, I fell in love with a man I did not want to be in love with. I cringed every time I heard gossip about whose quarters he’d been spotted around or how good he was in bed. It drove me crazy, but I told myself that if I just stuffed my feelings down, eventually I’d get over it.
“Then that meeting happened. We argued, he told me he liked me, and he confronted me about my feelings for him. And you know what? It was the best thing that happened to me since the day Captain Janeway pulled me out of a detention camp and gave me a place on her ship.”
B’Elanna couldn’t help but smile a little.
“I can’t speak for Captain Chakotay,” Harry continued, “but there’s only one person I know Captain Janeway loves, and that’s Marta Zelle. And I don’t think she’ll ever want to join the resistance. You’re the one who’s always there for Chakotay, and if he knows how you feel, maybe in time he’ll start to feel it, too. For all you know, he already does.”
“I doubt it.”
“But you don’t know. That’s the point. You won’t know until you try.”
“Listen to Harry,” Tom said. “He’s very wise.”
“Yes, I am,” Harry said, a teasing smile lifting the corners of his mouth.
B’Elanna laughed, her spirits raised for just a moment before fear crept in. “What if… he doesn’t want me back and it ruins everything?”
“What’s worse,” Harry said, “holding these feelings inside forever and watching him pursue other people, or telling your best friend the truth and having him not return your feelings?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “They both suck.”
“Maybe,” Harry said. “It depends on what you do with either situation. Ultimately, it’s your choice, and you have to live with the consequences.”
She looked down at their joined hands. “Yeah.”
Tom leaned in, wrapping his arms around her waist and kissing her neck. “And for the time being, we’ll be happy to help you feel better.”
She pressed her lips to his. “I know. But tonight, I think Harry’s right. I need to talk to Chakotay.”
With Harry and Tom’s encouragement, B’Elanna hurried back to her quarters. She knew what she had to do. It was a risk, but she survived on risk. It couldn’t be any scarier than facing down Klingons and Cardassians in battle, right?
The door slid open. No one was inside.
Dread curled in her stomachs. This wasn’t normal. After nearly a week, she was used to Chakotay’s routine. Why tonight? Was he with Janeway?
B’Elanna shook her head, refusing to admit defeat. There could be a hundred explanations for where he was, only one of which was the answer she feared. So she checked the gym, the mess hall, and the bridge, hoping he’d simply been bored or put behind his usual schedule. Chakotay was nowhere to be found.
He was with Janeway.
No. That wasn’t a certainty yet. The only thing she could do was wait. No matter what, he’d come back eventually. She sat on their bed and hugged her knees to her chest.
When he finally did return late into the night, she knew by his disheveled hair and the stupid smile on his face that he’d finally gotten what he’d longed for since the day Janeway broke his heart.
B’Elanna had missed her chance.
Chapter 6: Chakotay
For five days, Chakotay waited for Kathryn to call him to her quarters. He pictured it in his mind—her throwing him against a wall, him demanding they talk, her teasing and driving him crazy while they fought, then both finally giving in to passion together.
While he spent his evenings in the gym, he thought back to those moments of surprising vulnerability when he’d seen who she was underneath. Back in his quarters, he lay in bed remembering the violence of her kiss, the taste of her skin, the feeling of being inside her. He closed his eyes and imagined she was there, opening to him and writhing beneath him until he poured himself inside her.
Then the vision would fade, and he’d be back in his quarters alone with his cock in his hand and a soiled towel on the bed.
B’Elanna only caught him once, and she immediately locked herself in the head. Usually, she returned late and said little more than a snide comment before going to bed. He knew her well enough to know she was pissed with him, though he didn’t know why. Fucking Kim and Paris seemed to take her inexplicable rage down a few notches, but he hated the relationship anyway.
Part of it was protective. They didn’t deserve her. Still, it was her life and her decision. If being with them helped her get through the mission, then so be it.
What he couldn’t bear to face was the fear stirring in his heart—fear that he might actually lose her for good.
A substitute. B’Elanna thought she was his substitute. But his relationship with her was completely different from his relationship with Kathryn. How could B’Elanna not know what she meant to him? Was it too much to ask that he talk to his best friend about the things weighing on his mind, even if the subject was Kathryn?
By their sixth day on Ching Shih, he couldn’t stand the routine anymore. He needed to see Kathryn—to talk with her and find some kind of resolution for himself. Even if whatever they had ended once she found Marta. Even if she shut him down on the spot. Sure, he could really use a good fuck, but more than anything he needed closure.
So after hitting the gym and taking a quick shower, he went to her quarters and requested entry.
Kathryn was at her desk when he walked in. She didn’t even look up from her work when she said, “Rather ballsy of you—coming here unsummoned without so much as a comm beforehand.”
“I need to talk to you,” Chakotay said.
Her eyes flicked to him, sliding up and down his form. “Is that all you want?”
“Preferably not, but I’ll take what I can get.”
She lifted a brow. “What if I told you I have no interest in talking, but I might be convinced to fuck a few times?”
His cock ached, responding instantly to her proposition. It was neither what he’d expected nor what he really needed, but he was hopelessly caught in her orbit. How could he say no? “Then I’ll only ask one thing.”
She sighed and deactivated her computer console. “Fine. One thing.”
“Is there any possibility for a future with us, or will we be done when this mission is over?”
“Done?” she asked, sauntering towards him. “As long as you keep coming around, we won’t be done until I’m done with you.” She opened his pants and slid her hand inside, teasing his rapidly-hardening erection. “And when I’m done with you, you’ll know.”
He sucked in a breath and forced out the question burning inside him. “Then why didn’t you comm me?”
She brushed the tip of his cock with her thumb, sending a tingling sensation throughout his whole body. “I was waiting to see if you’d come to me.”
The complicated fastenings of her armor seemed to give easily to her fingers—a full vest rather than the separate pieces she used to wear. Tossing it aside, she dragged his hands under her shirt to caress her breasts.
No bustier. Not even a bra. Just soft, pliant mounds of flesh, warm against his palms.
Kathryn leaned in and dragged her tongue from Chakotay’s neck to his ear. “But don’t expect any kind of future where we disappear into the unknown together and live happily ever after. We’re nothing but strangers who work together when it suits us and fuck when it suits us. I am not yours to love. Do you understand?”
That was it, then. So be it.
“Fine by me,” he muttered, then buried his face in her neck. She stroked his cock as he sucked on her supple skin and thrust into her hand. It wasn’t enough. Nothing mattered except getting inside her. Grabbing her pants, he tore them open and pushed them down her hips.
“You want to fuck me, don’t you?” she purred.
“You want to throw me down and fuck me hard until you come, is that it?”
“God, yes.” He glanced around the room for a good surface. If he didn’t fuck her soon, he might lose his mind.
“Then do it.”
A few steps away was a dinner table. Not too large, but it looked sturdy. He pushed her towards it, making them both stumble a bit. Throwing one of the chairs aside, he grabbed her hips, spun her around, and bent her over the flat surface.
“Fuck me, Chakotay.”
Everything inside him was on fire. No time to undress. He shoved her pants to her ankles, probed for her entrance and—oh. “So wet,” he murmured. Then he buried himself inside her.
She cried out, curling her fingers around the edge of the table and arching her back as he pounded into her.
He wanted to make her come—wanted that loud, husky sound she made when it happened. “Fucking grind on that table,” he growled. “I wanna hear you.”
A moan fell from her lips as she did.
“Yes, that’s right.” He fucked her hard as he could, each thrust eliciting another cry from her and building the pleasure inside of him. He squeezed his eyes shut. He was going to come before she did, but he couldn’t slow down. He needed to come. Had to. It was so close.
Then it was happening, the pressure bursting like water ripping through a dam. He grabbed the corners of the table, hips making staccato thrusts as he emptied inside of her.
“Come,” he tried to say, though it came out mostly as a grunt.
She cried out a moment later, pussy clenching around him.
Soon enough, her movements slowed and stopped. He slipped out and pulled her upright, bracing her against his chest.
“Feel better?” she asked, her voice rasping.
“Sounds like I have more work to do.”
She turned in his arms, pressing her body against his. “That’s up to you.”
“Like I said. I’ll take what I can get. I’ll also give whatever you want.”
“How do you feel about Risan vasodilators?” she asked, pushing his pants down enough to grab his ass.
He leaned in close, wanting to kiss her but hoping she’d make the move first. “Never tried one, but I’m not opposed.”
“Good,” she said, stripping her remaining clothes away. “Because it’s my turn to fuck you.” Making her way to the bed, she opened a drawer in her bedside table and took out a Risan hypo-injector. “Lay down.”
Removing his own clothing, Chakotay did as Kathryn asked. She pressed the device to the artery in his thigh. Within seconds, blood rushed to his groin and filled his cock again. God, it felt so good. His eyes fluttered closed, and he let out a groan.
Kathryn climbed on top and sank onto him, trapping his hands above his head as she rode him. When he opened his eyes, she was staring right at him with that sharp blue gaze. Her breasts bobbed with each thrust. He licked his lips, wanting to take a nipple in his mouth, but he couldn’t move.
“Would you like to suck my tits?” she asked, a smug smile on her face.
She swerved her hips one way and the other, making him convulse. “Too bad you can’t reach them.”
God, she’d be the death of him.
“Does it bother you—not being in control?”
“A little,” he admitted.
She leaned closer, pulling halfway off his cock and dangling her breasts over his face. “At least you’re honest.”
He dug his heels into the mattress and thrust into her, making her breasts bounce even more. She lowered her chest just enough, and he sucked a mound inside. She moaned and arched into him as he swirled his tongue around her small, firm nipple.
“Harder,” she groaned.
He drew her deeper into his mouth, sucking until her every exhale became a moan. Pulling away for just a moment, he said, “If you let my hands go, I’ll touch your cunt.”
She didn’t say a word, but loosened her grip enough for him to slip out. He pressed his fingers to her clit and drew circles, making her gasp and cry out. His mouth found her other breast. It took concentration to stimulate her three ways at once, but he was determined to make her come.
A minute later, she did, struggling to hold herself up as she jerked and seized and keened. She slid down his cock, her breast pulling from his mouth with a pop, and took his lips with hers.
It was the first time she’d kissed him all night.
They moved together—tongues twisting and hips rolling, speeding up in gradients—until they couldn’t breathe anymore. When the kiss broke, she curled one hand around his shoulder, pressed the other to her cunt, and fucked him hard.
He could barely move beneath her force. He didn’t care. She could have him. “Fuck, Kathryn,” he murmured, his hands grabbing at her breasts, her hips, her ass. He couldn’t decide where to settle.
“Yes?” she rasped.
It was building to a climax—the pressure in his groin. He wanted to stay there forever. He wanted to blow right now. “Kathryn,” he ground out, “I’m… going to…”
A rush of pleasure tore through his cock, erupting into her. He squeezed his eyes shut, fingers digging into her hips. She followed him a moment later, pussy pulsing around him even as her hips slowed and her movements became spastic. When he opened his eyes again, hers were closed.
But her red lips were wide open.
When her contractions slowed to a stop, she looked down at him with a smile on her face—a true smile, not just a smirk. To his surprise, she bent low and pressed her lips to his in a slow, almost loving kiss.
He responded without hesitation, combing his fingers into her hair and giving himself over to her touch. For one wonderful moment, it was like being on the Vulcan spy ship eight months earlier—that brief period when she’d let her guard down and allowed him to love her like he wanted.
But when the moment ended, she slipped away from him and closed herself in the head, and he knew it was time for him to leave.
They arrived at Minos Korva a day and a half later, where the resistance had established a base after the Alliance fractured. Chakotay’s first day aboard Ching Shih, Kathryn asked him why the Cardassian contacts were kept at Minos Korva rather than Terok Nor. The truth was, he didn’t know. Perhaps the rebels thought it would be a less obvious place if Cardassian agents were sent after the traitors. That was his best guess, anyway.
On the surface of the system’s only M-class planet, they met with Captain Edward Jellico and his first, Leslie Wong. Chakotay shook their hands while Kathryn crossed her arms and glared. The way they looked at her like she was something they’d scraped off the bottom of their shoes, he couldn’t exactly blame her.
Jellico and Wong led them to a meeting room where two Cardassians waited at a table. Both stood when they arrived.
“Captain Chakotay, Captain Janeway,” Jellico said, “This is Dr. Crell Moset. He was the senior xenobiologist at Rakal Prison. It was he who stole the footage of Marta Zelle and smuggled it out of Cardassian space.”
Chakotay offered his hand to the man. Moset shook it enthusiastically, trapping it between both of his. A broad smile brightened his wrinkled, gray face. “Such a pleasure to meet you, Captain Chakotay.”
“And you, Dr. Moset,” Chakotay said with a nod.
“Please, call me Crell.”
Chakotay slipped his hand from Moset’s grasp, a bit unsettled at the prospect of being on a first-name basis with a Cardie.
Dr. Moset turned to Kathryn, who kept her arms crossed and gave him a look that could have melted a power conduit. The doctor’s smile faltered, but he bowed. “Captain Janeway. It is an honor to meet the seve tunkajik.”
“And what, exactly, is that supposed to mean?” she said flatly.
Moset straightened, eyes widening in surprise. “You haven’t heard? The term quite literally translates to, ‘otherworldly creature of death.’”
Kathryn arched an eyebrow. “Is that what your people call me?”
“Among other things.”
She tilted her head. “And how, Dr. Moset, could it possibly be an honor to meet someone who has murdered so many of your people?”
“The only thing we value more in our society than strength and cunning is family. The former—” he held one palm out, face up, to signify the strength and cunning— “you have in plenty, but the latter—” he held out his other palm for family— “is the reason why you fight.”
Kathryn’s eyes shifted from his face to his hands and back again, looking unimpressed and almost bored.
“My government took your family from you,” Moset said, lowering his hands. “Believe it or not, they took my family, too. I cannot do anything about my own wife and children, but it will be my honor—” he brought a fist to his chest— “to help you get your partner back.”
She squinted at the man. “We’ll see. Is the loss of your family the only reason you turned traitor after a lifetime of faithful service to the state?”
His expression became guilty, and he clasped his hands behind his back. “No, Captain, it isn’t. You see, my job at Rakal involved a great deal of, shall we say, experiments. At first, it didn’t seem like an ethical issue. They were all enemies of the state, and none of the experiments were lethal. Really, the side effects were nearly non-existent.”
Experiments. Fucking experiments. How many Terrans had been used as lab rats for this man’s sick, dark science? Chakotay’s blood boiled. How the resistance could let the man keep breathing, let alone act as an operative, was beyond him.
He clenched his jaw to keep from speaking.
“But then I started getting orders to perform more dangerous procedures,” Moset continued. “Not on Miss Zelle, mind you. She was too valuable. Even so, it was wrong. I wanted to protest, but they had my family in custody and they used that to motivate me. I was told if I didn’t perform the experiments, my family would die. What would you have done?”
He paused—whether for dramatic effect or to await Kathryn’s answer, Chakotay wasn’t sure.
Kathryn said nothing.
Moset’s shoulders slumped. “Then I discovered my family had already been executed. That, Captain, is why I left.”
Kathryn hummed. “And they say I’m the monster.”
“Not nearly the monster my government is,” Moset said, bowing to her again.
Chakotay’s gut twisted. Moset was overcompensating. He was too smooth of a talker, too desperate to kiss ass, and his story was too perfect. It felt wrong.
Jellico cleared his throat and gestured to the woman beside Moset. “And this is Tora Ziyal, the daughter of Supreme Legate Dukat.”
Chakotay’s breath caught, noticing for the first time the Bajoran ridges on young woman’s nose. The usually-prominent ropes of scaly ridges that lined a Cardassian’s eyes and neck were less pronounced on her, the inverted teardrop at the center of her forehead a more subtle feature than he was used to. Her skin was almost as pink as it was gray.
He shook his head and offered his hand. “I apologize, Miss Ziyal. I wasn’t expecting…” He fumbled over his words.
“A half-Bajoran?” she asked, giving him a kind smile. “It’s alright. Nobody does. And, you should know, Ziyal is my given name. Tora is my family name. It’s Bajoran custom to use the family name first.” She offered her hand, a silver ring on her thumb glinting in the light. “But you may call me Ziyal.”
Something about her was utterly calming—a stark opposition to the shifty Dr. Moset. Chakotay couldn’t help but smile back. He took her hand and shook it. “I’ll do that.”
Releasing his hand, Ziyal nodded at Kathryn. “Captain Janeway. I’m glad our intelligence found you.”
Kathryn released her arms. “Our intelligence?”
“Ziyal was the one who carried the message to Risa,” Wong said. “She passed it to a contact in one of the Bajoran pleasure houses who then gave it to Captain Chakotay’s Terran contact.”
“Wouldn’t it have been easier for Miss Tora to deliver the information to your rebels herself?” Kathryn asked.
“I hadn’t defected yet,” Ziyal said. “It was hard enough getting it to the ca’i te’naya without raising suspicion.”
Kathryn frowned. “I beg your pardon?”
“Bajoran sex worker.”
“Ah. And why did you choose to commit treason against your own father?”
Ziyal lifted her chin. “Because he’s a monster and I’m a half-breed.”
“A half-breed, perhaps, but also a child of two dominant species.” Kathryn‘s gaze slid down Ziyal’s form and back up again. “I’m well aware of the hatred suffered by offspring of an oppressor and a Terran, but why would they mistreat you?”
“The Alliance has never been a unified nation. We put up with each other for a while because we had to. It was the only way to prevent another Terran Empire. But Cardassians, Klingons, and Bajorans have always preferred to keep their own cultural identities intact. Children of mixed heritage are a threat to that.”
“And your father…” Kathryn put a hand on her hip. “Did he mistreat you?”
“Kathryn,” Chakotay hissed, hoping to save the poor girl from what was surely not her first round of scrutiny.
Ziyal held up a hand. “It’s alright, Captain Chakotay. I understand her concern. My father has a legitimate Cardassian wife and legitimate Cardassian sons, all of whom carry his name. My mother gave up everything for him, but she never earned any recognition. He hid her away and treated her like just another one of his mistresses. He’d like to hide me away, too. I’ll never find my place in his house.”
Kathryn didn’t reply.
Jellico shifted and took a breath, opening his mouth to speak. Chakotay cleared his throat and, when Jellico glanced his way, shook his head.
Jellico frowned, but closed his mouth.
“Alright,” Kathryn said. “I don’t believe either one of you, but I also don’t disbelieve you. I’ll allow you onto my ship, but know this: You will be guarded at all times. You will stay away from all vital areas unless specifically instructed by me to do otherwise. And if you step a hair out of line, I will make you wish you’d never come. Do I make myself clear?”
“That’s hardly your choice to make, Captain,” Wong said.
Kathryn shot Wong a deadly look. “My ship, my rules. If you don’t like it, then fuck off and find another way to get what you want. Including the resistance in this mission is a courtesy. I’m going with or without you.”
Wong narrowed her eyes at Kathryn but didn’t say another word.
“We will endeavor to earn your trust, Captain Janeway,” Dr. Moset said, bowing yet again. As he straightened, his gaze shifted to Chakotay. “And yours, as well, Captain Chakotay.”
Good luck, Chakotay wanted to say, but he nodded instead. “I appreciate everything you’ve done so far. Your cooperation won’t go unnoticed.”
And if Moset proved to be the man Chakotay suspected he might be, the Cardie’s betrayal wouldn’t go unpunished.
Chapter 7: Kathryn
“Kahless!” Kathryn cried out, arching her back and bucking her hips against Chakotay’s deft tongue.
Her exclamation goaded him to fuck her harder. He slipped a third finger into her and quickened the pace of his thrusts, while the ministrations of his tongue became almost more than she could bear.
Kathryn curled her fingers into the sheets and squeezed her eyes shut. Her whole body trembled, muscles pulled taught and just about to snap. She was so close it hurt.
A rush of sensation burst through, bathing her in ecstasy. Her body convulsed and she thought she might be screaming. All she knew was she felt good. So good. Disembodied in the very best way.
She sucked in a breath as she came back down, lungs desperately trying to reach for more air. Had she stopped breathing? “Fuck,” she panted. “Oh, fuck.”
Chakotay chuckled, dragging himself up her body. He smiled down at her and plunged inside.
The move made her gasp, his cock sliding though her still-tingling pussy until his hips slapped against hers.
For the past several nights, she’d insisted on being the top. It was easier to avoid his gaze that way. But after three orgasms under the heat of his lips, she simply didn’t have the energy to fuck him to completion.
No doubt he’d done that on purpose.
She could kick him out. It was her ship, and he was a good man. Even aroused as he was, he’d probably obey her wishes. And if he didn’t, she’d make him regret it.
But when he started making slow strokes out and back in, every one dragging his cock so deliciously against her inner walls, she found her willpower was just as drained as her body was.
He kissed her, soft lips catching hers as his tongue threaded in between. She moaned, involuntarily, and he slid deeper into her mouth.
When he broke the kiss, Kathryn pressed her head into the pillow and held her eyes closed. She dug her fingers into his ass and ground harder against him, demanding more speed, more force.
She moaned—this time on purpose—when she got it.
“Kathryn, look at me,” Chakotay said, his voice low and full of gravel.
She opened her eyes, unnerved at the intensity in his dark gaze.
Unnerved at the feelings it stirred in her.
He didn’t say another word, content with simply staring into her eyes as he fucked her. It used to feel erotic watching his eyes while they fucked, but that was before—before Seska’s deception had been revealed, before Kathryn’s whole world had flipped on its axis, before months slaughtering every Cardassian she could put her hands on. Now, his gaze felt different. Wrong.
Still, she allowed it. He stared at her and she at him until the sensations overwhelmed him and forced his eyes shut.
What a relief.
His hips picked up speed and she knew he was nearing the edge.
“That’s right,” Kathryn purred. “You feel so good, Chakotay. Fuck me. Fuck me hard until you come.”
He grit his teeth and pounded into her, skin slapping against skin. A sheen of sweat caught the light of the stars outside, making his face shimmer in the dark. Kathryn moaned louder and louder, more to encourage him than out of her own impulse.
With a long, drawn-out groan, Chakotay hit his climax. He gasped, thrusts becoming slow and definitive as he emptied inside her.
Kathryn met each thrust and grinned at the ridiculous look of ecstasy on his face. In that moment, he was utterly powerless even though he was on top. She could kill him if she wanted, spill his blood all over her body, and he couldn’t do a damn thing about it.
As his hips slowed and stopped, his eyes fluttered open. He smiled, probably thinking the grin on her face was for him.
What would he say if he knew what she was really thinking? Would it turn him on like it did her? Would it terrify him? Offend him?
Would he come crawling back to her bed anyway, just to have her one last time?
Chakotay collapsed on the bed beside her, rolling flat on his back as he caught his breath. Once he had it, he shifted onto his side and dragged her face to his, capturing her lips with a slow, sensual kiss. When he pulled away, he smiled so broadly it brought out the dimples in his cheeks. “It’s better, isn’t it? Looking in the eyes.”
Fresh heat filled her chest at the sight of him. Goddamn the man, his perfect face, his talent for fucking, and his insistence on talking when they were done. Bringing him aboard had been a mistake.
“That depends,” she said, shoving him away and sitting up.
She crawled off the bed and ambled to the food synthesizer. “On whether intimacy is what you want, or just a good fuck.” When she reached the device, she tapped in her order and paused. “Water?”
Two cups. She entered the command and they appeared in the window. Taking one in each hand, she strolled back to her bed and passed Chakotay one before settling against her headboard and sipping on her own.
It had been five days since they left Minos Korva, and she’d called him to her quarters more nights than not. There would be another two nights until they reached Rakal, and she already suspected she’d want him there for both. Two more nights to bask in the pleasure of his body… and to resist the urge to seek out anything beyond that.
Once she had Marta in her arms again, it wouldn’t matter anymore.
She closed her eyes, resting the cool cup against her torso, and tried to imagine what the reunion would be like. Would Marta still be as she was before her disappearance nearly six years ago, or had time and captivity changed her? Would she still love Kathryn, or had that faded?
Kathryn called Marta’s face to mind. She thought of skimming her fingertips over Marta’s smooth cheeks, kissing that perfect, bow-shaped mouth, pushing chestnut hair behind delicate ears so she could look into those beautiful green eyes.
But the eyes were empty, dead. Marta’s mouth gaped open in a silent scream, and her face was suddenly spattered with blood.
Kathryn gasped, jolting back to the present and nearly spilling her water. Chakotay’s hand landed on her shoulder, and she jerked away.
“Kathryn,” he said softly. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
She slammed the cup on her bedside table. “It’s time for you to go.”
He set his own cup aside and crossed his arms, not moving from his spot. He said nothing, but the challenge in his eyes spoke for itself.
She glared at him. “I’ll make you leave if I have to.”
“Then make me leave,” he said, raising his chin just the slightest bit. “Or you can talk to me. Whatever will make you feel better.”
“If you want to make me feel better,” she purred, running her hands down her body and fingering her cunt, “then shut up and get back to work.”
His eyes never strayed from hers. “I’ll do whatever you ask, Kathryn. You know that. Is this really what you want?”
She sighed and relaxed her arms, letting them fall to her sides. “I sure as hell don’t want to talk, and I’m this close—” She held up her thumb and forefinger, not quite pinching them together. “—to murdering you for your incessant attempts to make me do so.”
He chuckled, then turned serious. “I know what it’s like to be a captain. It isn’t easy. It’s lonely. You try to fill that void with sex and blood, but sometimes it helps to talk.”
“Fuck off,” she snapped, but deep down she knew he was right. That had been Marta once—the person she talked to when things got to be too much. Would it be like that again? Marta’s face floated into Kathryn’s mind again, but she forced it away.
“You see her, don’t you? Seska. Must make it hard to think about Marta.”
She balled her hands into fists. “Fuck. Off.”
He sighed, snatching his water from the table and drinking the last of it down. “I’ll stop pushing you, Kathryn. Just know I’m here if you need to talk. And I won’t tell anyone.” He set down his empty cup and swung his legs over the side of the bed.
“Don’t,” she said, grabbing his hand before she knew what she had done. She winced, hating herself for not restraining that impulse.
He was a weakness.
Chakotay pivoted his whole body towards her and cupped her cheek with his free hand. “You want me to stay?”
She lifted her chin, trying to salvage some of her pride. “I’m not done with you yet.”
“Tell me what you want.”
She shoved him onto his back and straddled his face, flattening her hands on the headboard. “I want you to fuck me until I tell you to stop.”
He wrapped his hands around her thighs and flicked his tongue over her cunt, sending a bolt of heat through her. “My pleasure.”
“How many ships are in orbit?” Kathryn asked.
They’d arrived at Rakal, a small planet on the outskirts of the Cardassian Union. Mostly, it was populated with prison employees, their families, and the merchants who served them. It was lightyears away from any major port and quite close to the Hugora nebula. A good place for a secret prison.
A good place to break someone out.
“Five, Captain,” Harry said. “But only two are on patrol. The others are docked at a small station orbiting the planet.”
“So few?” Kathryn asked, eyeing the planet on the viewscreen. Just looking at it tied her stomach into knots.
Marta was down there—the real Marta. Her Marta.
“There were more before the war,” Moset said, “though not many. Even within the Union, the prison is a secret. Most believe there is nothing but a small, backwoods colony on Rakal with a few scientists who study the nebula. If too many ships were assigned here, it might raise suspicion.”
“I didn’t even know,” Ziyal added, “until I saw the location stamp on the holorecording.”
Kathryn twisted her chair around to face the two Cardies—Ziyal at ops under Harry’s watchful eye and Moset standing just behind her. “No one ever wants to move here? Get away from the big cities and pollution?”
“Cardassian citizens can’t just move around,” Ziyal said. “The government won’t allow it.”
“Besides,” Moset said, “the climate isn’t comfortable for those with Cardassian physiology. It’s too cold, even near the equator.”
Kathryn hummed and shifted her gaze to Harry. “Where are those two patrol ships right now?”
“Actually, they’re not too far from each other,” Harry said. “They’re both orbiting the southern hemisphere on the same side of the planet.”
“And the station?”
“On the opposite side of the planet above the northern hemisphere,” Harry said.
“How fortuitous!” Moset said.
“Yes,” Kathryn said, swiveling towards the viewscreen. Although she knew coincidences did happen, they never ceased to raise her suspicions. More often than not, coincidences were plots in disguise. “Well, I suppose there’s no use waiting. QM, target two packages at the midpoint between the two ships and fire them into orbit.”
“Packages?” B’Elanna asked. “Is this some kind of weapon I don’t know about?”
“You’ll see soon enough,” Kathryn said, lips curling in a half-smile.
She was quite proud of the invention—something upon which she and Harry had collaborated. It was a lure, a probe outfitted with a dampening field emitter to block coms and sensors, armed with a high-yield explosive. The device had been their secret to success in capturing Cardie ships with such ease.
“Packages away, Captain,” Harry said.
“Helmsman,” Kathryn said, “back us off.”
“Aye, Captain,” Tom said.
On the viewscreen, both ships came to a stop and fired off a few shots at the place where Ching Shih had been. For a moment, it seemed as if they might ignore the modified probes, though Kathryn knew they couldn’t resist for long. Cardassians were arrogant beasts by nature—suspicious of everything and everyone, but without the humility to consider they could be duped like anyone else.
Soon enough, the ships altered course and moved towards the lures.
“Deploy the emitters,” she said.
Invisible to the eye—and to the cruisers’ sensors—the dampening field emitters broke away from the probes and headed for both ships.
“Emitters in position,” Harry said, confirming they’d attached to the cruisers’ hulls.
Harry had separated the two probes just enough so they couldn’t both be grabbed by one tractor beam, forcing each ship to pick up one. Slowly, the probes floated towards the cruisers’ cargo holds.
“They’re dropping shields,” Harry said. The probes disappeared. “Packages are inside the target vessels.”
“Blow them,” Kathryn said.
Two identical balls of light exploded within each ship. Debris scattered from gaping holes in each cruiser’s underbelly, the wounds continuing to bleed matter into the dark vacuum outside even after the flames were snuffed out.
“Both ships are disabled, Captain,” Harry said.
“How long until they are within visual range of the station?” Kathryn asked.
“Good,” Kathryn said, rising to her feet. “Helmsman, take us into orbit. Make sure we stay out of that station’s sensor range.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Tom said.
As she strode towards the lift, she said, “Chakotay, B’Elanna, Dr. Moset, Opsmate Tigan—you’re with me.” After the rest of her team boarded the lift, she stepped inside and spun to meet Harry’s gaze. “QM, you have the bridge.”
Harry nodded as the lift doors slid shut.
The corridors were dank, warm, and very, very dark. It was an underground prison, buried so deep Ching Shih’s sensors couldn’t have found it if Moset hadn’t told them exactly what to look for.
There were no holorecorders in the passages—a glaring security oversight, Kathryn thought, though Moset insisted there was no need. The cells and common areas were monitored around the clock, prisoners always had security escorts when moving from one place to another, and there were no air ducts through which to escape. Oxygen was pumped in artificially, toxic gases pumped out. The only way in or out of the prison was one heavily-guarded entrance.
Or Ching Shih’s transporters.
Kathryn and the others trailed Dr. Moset, her disruptor rifle pointed forward with a mounted lamp to light her path. When they reached a large door built into the end of the passage, Moset motioned for them to back up against the cave walls, then pointed to B’Elanna and waved her forward.
Kathryn pulled her rifle up and flattened her back against the stone. In the places her armor and thick tactical vest didn’t reach, it felt cool. A welcome relief. Of course the Cardies would create an artificial environment as sticky as their damned homeworld. She dragged an arm across her forehead, using her sleeve to mop the sweat from her face.
Kahless, it was hot.
To one side of the doorway, Moset pointed his gun lamp at a panel while B’Elanna worked to hack the mechanism. It took less than four minutes.
B’Elanna gave a thumbs-up. Approaching the door, Kathryn slung the rifle across her back and yanked a stun grenade from her vest. She nodded at B’Elanna.
When the door cracked open, Kathryn triggered the countdown sequence and tossed the grenade inside.
The moment it was away, B’Elanna snapped the door shut. Panicked voices shouted from within until, a few seconds later, the muffled crackling of ionized air sounded and the men inside fell silent.
Kathryn held up a hand, signaling to wait. In her head, she counted down as she listened for any more signs of life inside. Nothing. Satisfied the grenade had done its job, she swung her arm forward.
The quiet shuffling of feet told her the team was lining up behind her. She whipped her gun from her back, aimed it at the door, and charged the power cell. The shuffling died and Chakotay squeezed her arm.
They were in position.
Kathryn nodded to B’Elanna, who opened the door before them. Dim light spilled into the passage. She lunged forward, stalking into the room and veering left as Chakotay went right. Her eyes fixed on the nearest corner, then the one after that. No one. She looked at the ceiling. Nothing. She shined her gun lamp on every crevice as she skirted the room. Not a single sign of danger.
At the front of the cavern was a large console that looked to be built into the wall. The display featured multiple small view screens, each displaying a feed from every cell and common area in the prison. Somewhere on that panel was a feed of Marta. Kathryn resisted the urge to look.
Four chairs sat near the console, each a good meter away from their stations as if they’d been thrown back suddenly when the grenade rolled into the room.
Kathryn ducked down to ensure no one was hiding there. “Clear,” she said, standing up again.
“Clear,” Chakotay echoed.
Confirmations from the rest of the team quickly followed, and everyone’s eyes fell on the four unconscious Cardies sprawled on the floor.
Kathryn aimed at the one nearest her and shot him in the head.
“Kathryn!” Chakotay snarled.
She glared at him, then shot the next-closest man.
“What the fuck are y—“
Shots sizzled behind them, and Chakotay whipped around to see who else was shooting.
Kathryn glanced over her shoulder, smiling when she saw B’Elanna and Ezri had taken care of the last two Cardies.
Chakotay stomped towards B’Elanna, shoving her against the nearest wall and barring his arm across her throat. “I can’t tell them what to do, but I’ll sure as hell tell you what to do. If you execute one more unconscious person, you’ll be off my ship and in front of a tribunal the moment we get back to base.”
B’Elanna sneered. “You know as well as I do the resistance won’t give a fuck if I kill a few Cardies. They’ll probably thank me.”
Chakotay leaned in so close to her they were almost kissing. “Don’t… do it… again.”
B’Elanna said nothing.
“Opsmate,” Kathryn said, meeting Ezri’s gaze and nodding. “Well done.”
Ezri flashed a sharp smile. “Thank you, Captain.”
Moset’s expression was grim, but he said nothing. Ambling to the console, he glanced over the screens and pointed to one. “There. Zelle is in the recreation room with several of the other prisoners.”
Kathryn stepped over to Moset’s side, studying the screen. It didn’t take long to find Marta among the small crowd, rolling dice at a circular table while her opponents watched—a Trill, a Bajoran, a Terran, and two others with their backs to the screen. It must have been a good roll, because Marta’s face lit up with a jubilant smirk while the others winced.
There were more prisoners at adjacent tables—two Vulcans with some sort of puzzle game and four Bajorans playing cards—but Kathryn didn’t care about any of them. She smiled, pride and hope and longing swelling within her chest. Soon she and Marta would be together again. No matter what became of their relationship after today, at least she’d know Marta was alive and well.
It was more than she could have hoped for eighteen days ago.
“Fortunately,” Moset said, “that room isn’t very far from here.” He met Kathryn’s gaze. “If you’re ready to go, Captain, I’ll trigger the lockdown so we can get moving.”
Kathryn nodded. “Do it.”
A handful of Cardies had been trapped in the passages when lockdown protocols activated, but Kathryn and her team took care of them easily. Everyone else was trapped wherever they had been. Standard procedure was for anyone not in a lockdown zone to report to the control room and help resolve the situation.
But this was no lockdown. This was a prison break.
Within minutes, the team was at the door to the game room. B’Elanna made quick work of the locking mechanism and, once everyone inside was stunned, Kathryn charged inside.
Her eyes went immediately to the prisoners collapsed on the floor, needing to find Marta, but she forced herself to refrain for just a little longer. “Take care of the guards,” she said to Ezri.
Ezri nodded sharply, but before she had even turned away, a shot crackled the air.
By the door, B’Elanna stood over the body of a guard with a rifle pointed at his head. She lifted her chin towards Chakotay—a challenge to his order not to kill any more unconscious Cardies.
He merely glared in reply.
Kathryn’s lips tilted up on one side, amused by B’Elanna’s defiance. Even Chakotay’s own first officer thought he was a fool. How many others felt the same?
Another shot sounded, this time from Ezri. As she and B’Elanna executed the other guards, Kathryn marched towards the line of unconscious prisoners.
There were only eleven. Someone was missing.
None of them looked quite right. Grabbing the shoulder of one with long brown hair that lacked the red overtones of Marta’s natural color, Kathryn turned the woman over. Bajoran. The woman next to her had curly black hair, but Kathryn checked her anyway.
Skipping over a Terran man who had slumped against the wall, Kathryn moved to another prisoner and pushed her long, dark hair aside. Trill spots and an unfamiliar face.
What the fuck?
A gasp sounded beside her, making her jump. “I know her!” Ezri said.
Kathryn stared at Ezri with wide eyes.
Ezri took a step back, a nervous look crossing her face. “I’m sorry, Captain, I just… I’m sorry.”
Kathryn forced herself to regain some composure, hardening her expression and lifting her chin. “Who is it, Opsmate?”
“Jadzia Dax,” Ezri said. “She was in the resistance cell at Terok Nor. I only met her a couple of times, but she was kind of a big deal. We thought—I thought—she was dead.”
“Evidently not,” Kathryn said, bending to look at another woman only to find Bajoran ridges on her nose. “Is there anyone else in this room?”
“Just the guards, Captain.”
Kathryn gritted her teeth. She wanted to pin Chakotay to a wall, to threaten him and everyone else with death if they didn’t figure out where the hell Marta was, but she resisted the urge. It wasn’t Chakotay’s fault.
She tightened her grip on the rifle. Just as her eyes fell on Dr. Moset, a sinister voice echoed through the cavern.
“Hello, Captain Janeway,” Dukat said.
Kathryn whipped around, eyes landing on a large viewscreen at the front of the room. From it, the Supreme Legate of the Cardassian Union sneered down at her, one hand tangled in a woman’s dark hair and the other caressing her cheek.
“I imagine you must be quite upset that your dear Miss Zelle is not where you expected her to be. I can assure you, she is alive and well here with me.” He tipped her chin up, forcing her to look him in the eyes. “Aren’t you, Miss Zelle?”
If it weren’t for the gag in her mouth, Marta probably would have spat in his face. As it was, she merely glared at him with disdain.
Dukat turned his gaze back to the screen. “If you want your partner back, I’m afraid you’ll have to come and ask me in person. Until then—“ His face split with a predatory grin— “maybe I’ll try her myself and see what it is that captivates you so much.”
Fire rolled through Kathryn’s veins as the recording cut off and the screen went dark. How dare he touch her. How DARE he! A monster made of pain and rage tried to claw its way free from her chest, but she chained it down like the animal it was.
She’d let it out soon enough.
“Moset!” she snarled. Already, Ezri and B’Elanna’s rifles were trained on their Cardie escort.
His eyes were wide, terror and confusion apparent in his expression. “I didn’t know!” he insisted, shaking his head and waving his hands in front of him. “I swear to you, Captain, I didn’t know!”
She nearly ripped a vest pocket open as she yanked the communicator from it. “Harry, I want a transport for the team and eleven prisoners right goddamn now.”
Her QM didn’t hesitate to obey. “Aye, Captain.”
A moment later, they were in Ching Shih’s transporter room.
Storming to the main console, Kathryn slammed her hand on the interface, activating the comm. “Bridge, scan the area for ion trails with a Cardassian signature leading away from Rakal. Patch the results to the transporter room.”
Just as Chakotay stepped behind her, a map of the area appeared on the screen with different trails mapped in different colors.
“That one,” Chakotay said, pointing to the orange one leading to the Hugora nebula. “That’s Dukat’s.”
“I was thinking the exact same thing,” she said. “Helm, take us out of orbit and match the course of the ion trail going into the Hugora nebula. Engage at maximum warp.”
“Aye, Captain,” Tom said.
“And one more thing,” Kathryn said. “Have Tora Ziyal escorted to the brig.” She dropped the channel before Harry could reply and switched to a new one. “Security, send three teams to the transporter room immediately.”
“Aye, Captain,” came the reply.
“Captain,” Moset pleaded, “I promise you, it wasn’t—”
Kathryn tore a small dagger from her vest and whipped it at him, sticking the blade in the bulkhead behind his head. “Shut the fuck up, Cardassian. Save it for your interrogation.”
The doors slid open and nine security mates poured into the room.
“Opsmate,” Kathryn said, “make sure our guests get bunks and medical attention. Teams one and two are with you.”
Ezri nodded. “Aye, Captain.”
“Team three, escort Dr. Moset to the brig.”
“Aye, Captain,” one of the security mates said, and grabbed Moset’s arm.
Kathryn turned her furious gaze onto Chakotay. The paragon of virtue and defender of freedom who fought for the resistance’s collective delusion of justice. Time to see if he could stomach the dirty work. “Chakotay, with me.”
Chapter 8: Chakotay
“Release the force field,” Kathryn ordered as she, Chakotay, Dr. Moset, and the security team stormed into the brig. She stripped off her tactical vest and handed it to a security mate, keeping the armor underneath and one weapon—the large, double-edged knife always holstered at her lower back.
Ziyal was already in one of the cells, guarded by two security mates. When the force field to her cell went down, Kathryn shoved Moset inside and pinned him to the wall.
“No!” Ziyal cried. “Please!“ She reached for Kathryn—or Moset, Chakotay couldn’t be sure—but the guards thrust their rifles in her face and she shrank into a corner.
Chakotay gave Ziyal a sympathetic look, but her eyes were fixed on Kathryn.
Drawing her knife, Kathryn pressed the blade against Moset’s throat. Chakotay shifted his stance, peering over Kathryn’s shoulder. As little as he trusted Moset, he couldn’t help but fear what Kathryn might do to him. Crimson beaded along the knife’s edge.
The resistance would not be happy if she killed him.
“I want some goddamn answers, Cardie,” Kathryn snarled, “and I want them now.”
“I swear to you, Captain,” Moset said, eyes wide and full of terror, “I don’t know. I don’t understand how he knew.”
“I know exactly how he knew,” Kathryn said. “One or both of you tipped him off. And if you don’t tell me right fucking now who did and how, I’ll make you long for Dukat’s brutality instead of mine.”
“I can’t tell you something I don’t know!” Moset yelled.
That was a mistake.
Kathryn slammed the knife into Moset’s arm, the blade burying itself so deep it must have penetrated the bulkhead behind him. Moset bellowed, his body writhing in agony.
“I think you do know,” Kathryn growled. “And I think I’m going to hurt you until you tell me what you did.”
“I didn’t do anything!” he wailed, tears leaking from his eyes.
Kathryn yanked the blade out and thrust it back in, twisting it and making Moset cry out even louder.
Memories flashed through Chakotay’s mind. They weren’t images per say—at least, not clear ones. A scream. The smell of blood. The venom in his sister’s voice when Chakotay dared to interrupt her torture of a Klingon they’d captured. But the agony was there, along with the empathetic suffering he felt for the enemy as Sekaya tried—and failed—to bring their prisoner low.
It wouldn’t work. Torture never worked—not in his experience. For resistance fighters, torture was more about catharsis for the captor than getting actual information.
Interrupting Kathryn’s catharsis would only make him another target.
“Why?” Moset said, teeth gritted against the pain. “Why would I give up everything—betray my own people—if I only meant to turn on you?”
“Maybe you were disgraced and wanted to prove yourself,” Kathryn said. “Or I’ve recently murdered a friend of yours and you want revenge. Maybe you’re just an idiot. There could be a hundred reasons why you’d do such a thing. But the fact of the matter is no one else on this ship has any motive to sell us to the Cardassians—no one but you and your half-Cardie friend.”
“We didn’t do this!” Ziyal shouted.
Dragging the bloody blade out of Moset’s arm, Kathryn stepped back several paces. “Take him to another cell,” she barked. As the security team moved in to follow her order, Kathryn flipped her knife and turned a hungry smile on Ziyal. “Perhaps our other suspect will be more forthcoming.”
“NO!” Moset yelled, struggling against the guards as they dragged him away.
Chakotay’s stomach churned, his mind begging Kathryn to leave Ziyal alone. He clenched his jaw to hold back the protest pressing against his lips.
Ziyal did her best to disappear into the corner, but there was only so far she could go. Kathryn grabbed the young woman by her hair and dragged her into the middle of the cell. Ziyal didn’t go lightly, her nails leaving scratches so deep in Kathryn’s hand they instantly dripped with blood.
“I want your friend to see you,” Kathryn said, throwing Ziyal to the deck and straddling her legs.
Ziyal thrashed and tried to push Kathryn away, but it was no use. Kathryn’s knife sliced deep into the meat of Ziyal’s shoulder, severing the muscles and making her arm go limp. Ziyal screamed, and Kathryn easily pinned Ziyal’s other arm to the deck.
Without another word, Kathryn put the tip of her blade to Ziyal’s chest and carved into her skin. The pitch of Ziyal’s screams rose, making Chakotay’s ears twinge.
He looked away.
“Feel free to make a confession at any time,” Kathryn yelled, her voice booming over the sound of Ziyal’s agony and Moset’s pleading for her to stop.
Moset only continued to beg, and Ziyal continued to scream.
When the screams gave way to sobs, Chakotay took a deep breath and forced himself to face the scene. His stomach twisted at the sight of blood pouring from the markings on her chest—the barely-legible word ‘traitor’ written in red.
Sitting up, Kathryn cut Ziyal’s shirt open all the way to the hem. She shoved the fabric aside and dragged her blade down Ziyal’s torso. It was a shallow cut, not breaking entirely through the skin, but it left a thin red line leading to Ziyal’s navel.
Kathryn stopped and poised the knife to stab straight down into Ziyal’s gut. “Anything you want to confess?” Kathryn said.
Ziyal only sobbed in reply.
“Dr. Moset?” Kathryn asked.
“Please,” he begged. “Hurt me instead. Please.”
Kathryn took in a sharp breath, tightening her grip on the hilt. “Too bad.”
“ENOUGH!” Chakotay bellowed.
Kathryn raised her eyes to him, the look on her face murderous. “What did you say?”
Chakotay balled his fists and stepped forward. “I said, ‘enough.’ You’ve made your point. They’re not going to talk. Keep them here until the mission is done. They’re our operatives. If you kill them before the resistance gets a chance to question them—”
“That’s not your prerogative,” Kathryn said. “I made my terms clear before we left. Everyone had a choice. The resistance chose to use me anyway. Your operatives betrayed me and put us all in grave danger. Now they will suffer the consequences.”
“You don’t know that!” Chakotay shouted, desperation fraying his voice at the edges. “They told you they didn’t know. What if that’s the truth?”
“This one hasn’t,” Kathryn said. “She hasn’t denied anything.”
“You haven’t given her a chance!” He took another step forward, drawing in a deep breath to steady his voice. “They belong to the resistance, which means they’re my responsibility. Let me question them.”
“Get him out,” Kathryn ordered her security team, voice dripping with hatred. “Confine Captain Chakotay to his quarters. I’ll deal with him later.”
Chakotay’s stomach dropped. “Kathryn—”
“Now!” she barked.
Two mates from the three-person team stalked over, one grabbing Chakotay’s arm and the other digging a rifle into his back. “Move,” the one behind him growled.
Chakotay yanked his arm free. “I know the way.” With one last furious glare at Kathryn, Chakotay stormed out of the brig.
It was catharsis. That’s all it was. Just like in the resistance.
Chakotay paced his quarters, only too aware of the guards posted outside. Too aware of everything. The hum of the engines, the roaring blood in his ears, the tingling in his fingers from clenching his fists for too long.
Yet his mind was simultaneously elsewhere.
Images of Kathryn smashing Marta’s head into the deck mixed with his memories of Sekaya torturing the Klingon and the sound of Ziyal screaming. It made him sick—quite literally. He’d vomited almost as soon as he got to his quarters. His throat burned and his stomach hurt, but all he could think about was Kathryn torturing that innocent young woman.
Catharsis. Seska’s betrayal had broken Kathryn—he’d known it the moment he found her mutilating the agent’s corpse. He hoped finding the real Marta might put Kathryn back together again, might reawaken the woman he’d seen glimpses of in their last mission together, but it seemed like every last shred of goodness had been buried beneath her pain and rage.
He couldn’t blame her. He’d felt the same when his family was murdered, though he hadn’t acted on his most sadistic fantasies. Even so, he had no right to judge.
It wasn’t her, not really. It was only pain and catharsis.
He had no idea how long he’d been there when B’Elanna came charging into the room. She threw her arms around him, but he pushed her away and continued pacing.
“What the hell happened?” she asked.
“We had a difference of opinion,” he muttered.
“You and Janeway?”
He stopped. “No, me and Spock’s ghost. Who the fuck do you think?”
She snorted. “Whatever. Are you gonna tell me what happened?”
“It doesn’t matter,” he said, resuming his pacing.
She crossed her arms. “No. I’m not going anywhere until you tell me what the fuck’s going on.”
Chakotay whirled on her, rage exploding like plasma burning too hot. “She tortured them!” he bellowed. “She might still be torturing them right now. She’ll never get the answers she wants, but she still…” Reaching the end of his path, he spun around but didn’t move forward. He ran a hand over his face. “I told her to stop, to let me question them, but she confined me here instead.”
B’Elanna sighed and shook her head. “Now do you believe me?”
He frowned, clueless as to what she meant. “What?”
She scoffed, throwing her hands out wide as if the answer should be obvious. “What I’ve been telling you all along about Janeway.”
“Oh hell, not this again.”
“She hasn’t changed, Chakotay.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Yes, I do,” she said, marching towards him. “She sliced a gul open from chest to gut and let his innards fall out while his bridge officers watched. She cut off another gul’s cunt and stuffed it down the woman’s throat because she made fun of Janeway’s relationship with Zelle. If anything, she’s gotten worse.”
“It’s not as if your hands are clean either.”
B’Elanna’s mouth fell open, her body recoiling as if he’d physically hit her. “Seriously? You’re really going there?”
“It wasn’t long ago when you tortured your mother to death. You don’t exactly have the right to pass judgement.”
Her lips curled over her teeth. “She deserved it.”
“In Kathryn’s mind, so do those Cardies.” He stepped closer. “What would you do if they took away the person you loved most and replaced them with a spy? If you spent five years trusting that person, being vulnerable with them, giving your body and soul to them, only to find out they were the enemy?”
She exhaled sharply, eyes darting away. “I don’t know.”
“I do. I know you well enough to say you’d want blood, too.”
She found his gaze again, looking at him with an intensity he couldn’t decipher. “Yeah, I guess I would.”
“But you still think she’s a bad person.”
“It isn’t just the Cardies,” she said. “A few months ago, she called her master gunner into her office after a mission. The next time anyone saw him was when she called for clean-up. He was lying on the deck, naked, with a wet dick and his throat cut.”
Chakotay winced. “Did Kim and Paris tell you this?”
“Did they say why?”
She crossed her arms. “Just that he was being an arrogant asshole. Apparently, he was always an asshole. They think she’d been angry with him for a while and she finally just... snapped.”
He nodded. “Well, there you go.”
She frowned. “You think that’s okay? It was his throat, Chakotay. Not his artery. She fucked him, cut his throat open, and let him drown in his own blood.”
He shook his head. “No, it’s not okay. But you didn’t see her after she killed the spy. You can’t possibly understand what that did to her. She’s in a dark place right now, but—“
B’Elanna barked out a laugh. “‘Right now’? You think this is new? I saw the bodies she brought back to my mother. Cutting throats is her signature move. She likes watching people suffer and die. She gets off on it. How the fuck can you trust a person like that?”
“I don’t trust her, B’Elanna. I never have. But that’s not the point. The point is there’s a real person underneath that shell of cold brutality she puts on, and if I could just get through that shell—”
“What? She’ll fall in love with you? Join the resistance? Become a paragon of virtue? Do you even hear yourself right now? The woman is a monster! She didn’t earn that nickname for nothing. And I’d be willing to bet she’s told you this herself. She’s always known what she is, and she’s proud of it. Why the fuck aren’t you listening?”
Chakotay ran a hand over his face. B’Elanna was right about one thing—Kathryn had never lied to him about who she was. And the violence she’d wrought… he wouldn’t forgive most people for behaving in such a way. Why was he so willing to forgive her? Had he been blinded by his feelings for her?
B’Elanna took his face in her hands, drawing his attention back to her. “Chakotay, please listen to me. I know I’ve been a little angry lately—”
“Fine. A lot. But you have to listen to me now. Please. That woman is dangerous, and I don’t want to lose you. But I feel like I already have.”
He frowned. “You haven’t lost me, B’Elanna. Why would you think that?”
Her hands fell away. “Because for the last three months, all you’ve been able to talk about is her. And if the resistance hadn’t liked your plan to team up with her for this, you’d have given up everything we’ve worked for just to be with her again while we track down her girlfriend.” She studied his face. “Tell me I’m wrong.”
He wanted to. Oh, how he wanted to. But it would have been a lie. “No, you’re probably right.” He grabbed her hand. “But that doesn’t mean you’ve lost me. You haven’t, and you never will.”
“Don’t,” she choked out, yanking her hand away. “Don’t say that unless you mean it.”
He frowned. “Of course I mean it! Why wouldn’t I?”
“What do you mean by ‘never’?”
“I mean exactly what I said.” He grabbed her shoulders. “I care about you, and I don’t want to lose you.”
She huffed. “I knew it.”
“Forget it,” she muttered, slipping from his grasp and stomping towards the door.
Chakotay rushed in front of her, blocking her path. “No. No more running from conversations and refusing to talk to me.”
She shoved him, but he planted his feet and refused to budge.
“Get the fuck out of my way!” she yelled.
He put his hands on his hips. “No. Not until you tell me why you’re so upset. Not until you tell me the truth.”
She shoved him again. “The truth is I’m pissed the fuck off!”
“Because you won’t get the hell out of my way!”
He crossed his arms. “Try again.”
“Out with it, B’Elanna.”
“Because I love you!” she finally shouted.
The words hit him like a boulder. He’d wondered a few times if she felt something more for him beyond friendship and sexual need. At times, he’d even hoped she might, though that never lasted for long. He loved her, but probably not in the way she wanted him to. Honestly, he wasn’t even sure if he was capable of that kind of love anymore.
And now he was going to break her heart.
“There! I said it! Are you happy now?” She wrapped her arms around herself, and for a moment he thought she might actually cry. Her voice cracked when she said, “I’m in love with you.”
“B’Elanna,” he murmured. “I—”
“Captain Chakotay,” said a man over the comm. “Report to Captain Janeway’s quarters immediately.”
Chakotay deflated, shoulders slumping as the moment shattered at his feet.
“You what?” B’Elanna asked, brown eyes glistening as she watched him with a mix of hope and dread.
How could he possibly respond? He couldn’t say what he had to say quickly, and if he didn’t obey Kathryn’s summons, he and B’Elanna could both be in trouble. But if he left without responding to B’Elanna’s confession, the damage to their relationship could be irreparable.
“Captain Chakotay,” the man said again. “You will come with us immediately or you will be punished.”
“I have to go,” he said.
“Then you don’t love me,” she whispered.
He balled his fists. “Damnit, B’Elanna. It’s more complicated than that! I don’t have time to explain.”
“I don’t need complications, Chakotay. I just needed to know. Now I do. So go.”
“GO!” she shouted. “Your mistress needs a face to sit on.” Spinning on a heel, she stomped towards the head and disappeared inside.
He snorted, fire rushing through his blood and bringing a clarity all its own. He was so tired of being yanked back and forth by B’Elanna along her continuum of bullshit.
No more. No more blaming himself for her bad moods, or stressing over the hurt look in her eyes when he wanted to talk about Kathryn, or feeling guilty for caring about someone other than B’Elanna. He’d put up with her accusations and demeaning remarks long enough.
Shaking his head, Chakotay marched into the corridor.
When he stepped into Kathryn’s quarters, he was surprised to find her in nothing but a silky black robe. The lights were dim, their glow playing with shadows in just the right way to make her curves stand out. The sight of her alone was enough to tighten his groin, brain now conditioned to see her without armor as a signal that they were about to have sex. He silently cursed himself for such weakness.
At the moment, he wasn’t sure if she was more woman or monster.
“You may go,” she said, dismissing the security mates. They slipped away to take their posts outside and the door slid shut.
“At least you had the decency to wash the blood off before you brought me here,” he said.
She smiled. “I’m glad you’re finally beginning to see me for what I am instead of what you want me to be.”
“You’re not a monster,” he said, though he wasn’t sure if the statement was more for her benefit or his.
Uncrossing her knees, she strode across the room and stopped in front of him. “You really should put your delusions about me to bed. You’ll sleep better.”
“How are you going to sleep tonight after what you did?”
“I’ll sleep just as well as I always do,” she said, tilting her head to look him more fully in the eyes. “Like the dead.”
Dread shot through him. “Did you kill her? Ziyal?”
“I didn’t kill either of them. And if it makes you feel any better, I sent Dr. Zimmerman to clean them up and give them a good night’s sleep. There won’t be any permanent damage.”
“Maybe not to their bodies,” he said.
“You think I give a damn about their feelings? Let them suffer. Let them spend the rest of their miserable lives cursing my name and longing for my death. It doesn’t matter.”
Screams echoed in his head, scraping against his nerves.
“Doesn’t matter?” he asked, voice rising with anger. “It’s things like this that make everyone hate us!”
“Good,” she said. “It’s about time the quadrant learned Alliance races aren’t the only ones with teeth.”
He frowned. “First you think we deserved to be oppressed. Now you think we should be as brutal as our oppressors. Don’t you see? The only reason you’re doing any of this is because you want revenge for Marta!”
Pain zig-zagged through his jaw, stars bursting across his vision from the impact of Kathryn’s backhand. He hadn’t even seen the slap coming. His fists clenched, itching to hit her back, but he refused to indulge the impulse.
“Don’t think you know me, rebel,” she spat. “You are a small man with a small perspective.”
“My perspective’s bigger than yours,” he said.
She leaned in. “Do you honestly think that, once you overthrow the old Alliance powers and declare Earth a sovereign nation, all Terrans will just come together and hold hands for the rest of time? Do you think the Vulcans and Betazoids and Trill and everyone else out there will be happy to see a Terran resistance win the day—a resistance that always has and always will put Terran needs above theirs? You’re a fool, Chakotay.”
“Why do you care what I think?”
“I don’t. But I won’t let your delusions get my crew killed.”
“Bullshit,” he said, stepping close enough to her that their bodies touched. “I’m not blind. I see you perfectly clear. You care enough to try repeatedly to convince me my cause is pointless. Why is that, Kathryn?”
The muscles in her jaw flexed, nostrils flaring, eyes almost completely black in the dim light. Her chest heaved against him, teasing her robe open and drawing his gaze to her breasts.
“Do you want to fuck me, Chakotay?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said instinctively, then frowned at himself. Her question was a non sequitur, veering the tension from rage to lust in the most jarring way possible.
Which was, no doubt, exactly what she wanted.
Inhaling sharply, Kathryn seized his lips with a bruising kiss.
All the thoughts in Chakotay’s mind evaporated instantly, replaced by his overwhelming need to be with her. Reason be damned. He grabbed her waist and slid his hands down, palming the pliant, silk-covered swell of her ass.
She pushed his vest from his shoulders. As it fell to the floor, he peeled his shirt from his body. She pressed her warm palms to his chest.
Unknotting the tie at her waist, he slid his hands under the smooth fabric and massaged her breasts. She moaned. The closure of his pants surrendered to her nimble fingers, and soon she was stroking his cock.
He needed so badly to get inside her.
All at once, she stopped. Withdrawing her hands and breaking the kiss, she wrenched herself from his grasp. Chakotay panted, his whole body suddenly cold despite the fevered desire pulsing through him.
She grabbed his chin in one hand, her grip like a vice. “You think you’re so much better than us, but the truth is you’re not. You have the same drives, the same desires. Lust. Violence. Ambition. This is what we are.”
Wrong. She was wrong. He knew there was an argument he should be making, but all he could think about was burying himself in her wet pussy and making her scream.
“I tell you that you’re a fool because you’re self-righteous and I like making you feel small. I bring you to my quarters because I like how you fuck. But don’t mistake that for caring. I don’t give a damn about you, and I certainly don’t love you.”
He opened his mouth to speak again but she squeezed his jaw tighter, smarting the tender spot from her slap.
“I have no illusions about what I am. The only reason I haven’t killed you already is because you could still be of use to me. But that use is wearing thin. So I suggest you go back to your quarters and fuck yourself until I decide whether or not you’re worth any more of my time.”
It was bullshit. He’d seen the way she looked at him when cracks in her emotional armor gave glimpses of the real Kathryn—the woman she was inside. There was more to her actions than making him feel small. She wasn’t the monster she pretended to be.
Yet her words cut him to the bone. Heartbreak and rage and lust warred within him, and he wanted to hurt her back.
Closing his fingers around her wrist, he yanked her fingers from his face and hurled her against the wall. In a single stride, he was on her, wrapping a hand around her throat. He wanted to pick her up and impale her right there—with a blade, with his cock, he wasn’t sure—but some small, strangled voice inside begged him to walk away before he crossed a line he could never come back from.
“Do you want to kill me, Chakotay?” she asked, stroking his chest as if they were making love rather than ripping each other apart.
He tightened his grip on her neck, her pulse thrumming underneath. “I thought about it.”
“Do you want to fuck me?”
He dragged his other hand up her thigh, fingers stumbling over a knife in its sheath. “I thought about that, too.”
“Then fuck me,” she purred, palming his erection.
She didn’t need to tell him twice.
Shoving her robe aside and lifting her from her feet, he waited long enough for her to coil her legs around his waist and guide his cock into position before plunging into her.
“Fuck,” he groaned, the relief of finally being inside her only outmatched by the need to make himself come. “You feel so good.”
She fisted his hair and yanked his head back, forcing him to meet her gaze. “Save the romantic speeches for your next wife and just fuck me.”
He growled, hating her even more. Digging his fingers into her hips, he drove into her as hard as he could. Every thrust pushed her up the wall, making her breasts jump. She was so bare, so vulnerable. If he wanted, he could grab her knife and jab it between her ribs.
She deserved it.
The tremors in his legs became full-on shakes. He pressed her harder against the bulkhead, hoping to reduce the burden on himself, but it was no use.
“You’re not going to finish, are you?” Kathryn said. “You’re too weak. You’re just going to shrivel up and collapse, and I’m going to have to finish myself off.”
Tearing himself free, he pitched her to the deck. She’d barely landed, catching herself on hands and knees, when he sank to the floor, grabbed a fistful of hair, and yanked her head back. “I’m perfectly capable of finishing.”
She snaked a hand back to touch herself. “Then finish.”
He pushed her robe up over her ass and plunged inside, fucking her hard and fast.
The violence only seemed to make her moan louder. “That’s right,” she said. “Fuck me so hard it hurts.”
It didn’t take long for the pressure to build to a fever pitch and burst, cutting light across his vision despite his eyes being squeezed shut. The orgasm was so intense, a flood of more than just pleasure or passion. It was rage and hatred, as well.
He rammed into her, the final strokes forceful and deliberate. She cried out as she, too, reached climax, her body convulsing and her pussy squeezing around him.
Chakotay released her hair, curling around her and trying to catch his breath. His awareness hadn’t yet returned when Kathryn flipped him on his back and crouched on top of him, her knife at his throat.
It had happened so fast.
This was it. She was actually going to kill him, just like that gunner B’Elanna told him about.
“Do you realize what you just did?” she asked.
He swallowed, euphoria quickly dissipating. The answer seemed so simple. They’d fucked. But the question was a trick. Everything with Kathryn was a trick.
“You threw me against a bulkhead and admitted you wanted to kill me,” she said. “Then you threw me on the floor and took me like a bitch.”
“You wanted it,” he snarled. “You told me to fuck you. Twice.”
“I did, but I didn’t tell you to get violent. In fact…” She dragged the tip of her blade along his jaw. “I believe I told you to leave and fuck yourself, but you decided to attack me instead.”
Oh, God… she was right. His blood turned to ice. Was she right? No, she’d said she wanted it. But that was after he attacked her—and he had attacked her.
A sinister smile peeled back her lips. “Not very righteous, was it?”
And there it was, plain as the contempt on her face. She’d wanted him to do something like that. It proved her point.
“You thought about it, didn’t you?” she said. “About taking my knife and murdering me while you fucked me.” She tilted her head. “Or would you have waited until after you fucked me? I always imagine murdering someone during sex, but that’s just me.”
“She gets off on it,” B’Elanna had said.
Did Kathryn think about that when she was with him? Had she always, every time? Even in their mission before? Had she really fooled him that well?
“Nothing to say for yourself?” she asked.
“No,” he said through gritted teeth.
“Then you concede.”
Making a shallow cut under his chin, she held her blade against the wound for a few seconds before raising it between them and examining his blood. “As I said, Captain. Lust, violence, and ambition are in our nature. You act like such a noble savior, but you’re just as ugly as the rest of us. Maybe it’s time to lose the act.” She held the blade to his throat once again. “At least you won’t die lying to yourself and everyone around you.”
“It’s not an act.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Oh, but it is. You may have convinced yourself of your lie, but deep down you know what your true nature is.” Her lips curled into a wicked smile. “Don’t feel bad. It’s in all of us. But it’s good to be reminded every so often.”
“Fine,” he spat. “Maybe I do have evil in me. Maybe we all do. But we all have good in us, too.”
“I see. And the real war is the one we fight within ourselves between these two forces, is that it? It’s a cute story for children, but we’re not children anymore, Captain. It’s time you grew up and recognized that.”
She laughed. “No pun intended, I presume. Considering you just did.”
“You really should be thanking me,” she said.
“And why would I do that?”
“I’ve set you free, given you what you need to go from being a good captain in the resistance to a great one. Now that you’ve been reminded of your inner ruthlessness, you can use it to your advantage. You’ll find it very useful, and it will keep you alive while all your foolish comrades go down one by one.”
Was this her twisted way of giving him an out? Thanking her in exchange for his life? He lifted his chin, giving her a clearer view for what she was poised to do. “I’d rather die doing what’s right.”
“Right and wrong. Good and evil.” She gave a slight shake of her head. “It’s all a fiction, Chakotay. You’d do well to remember that.”
The silence hung in the air as he processed her words. He still half-expected her to slit his throat. “You’re not going to kill me?”
She smiled sharply. “Not tonight. Guards!”
The door hissed and two sets of feet marched in.
Sheathing her knife, Kathryn crawled off and stood, exposing Chakotay to her men. “Get this worthless piece of shit out of my sight.”
Chapter 9: B’Elanna
The thought ensnared B’Elanna’s mind as she sat, back propped against the bulkhead by the sink, and stared at nothing in particular. Strange that she wasn’t weeping in a ball on the floor. Strange that she didn’t want to rip someone to pieces with her bare hands, or trash the quarters, or recycle all of Chakotay’s things.
Strange that she didn’t feel anything at all.
Actually, that wasn’t true. She felt… something. But what? Her chest ached. Her stomachs felt tight. She couldn’t have eaten if she wanted to. There was a knot of emotions somewhere inside her, but it wasn’t like anything she’d experienced before.
Was there even a name for this feeling?
She had no idea how long she sat there, but at some point a chime at the door cut through her thoughts. Who could possibly be visiting her? Ezri, maybe. Harry and Tom were still on duty. Or were they? To be honest, she had no clue what time it was.
The chime sounded again.
In the back of her mind, she wondered if she should get angry and scream at whoever it was to leave her the hell alone. It’s what she normally would’ve done. Instead, she rose to her feet and ambled to the door.
When it slid open, Harry was on the other side.
He looked mildly surprised to see her. “B’Elanna, hey. Uh, is Captain Chakotay here?”
She shook her head. “Janeway called him to her quarters.”
His mouth opened and closed, a pained look on his face.
“Why?” she asked.
Harry rubbed his arm. “I wanted to check on him, make sure he didn’t need anything... and do what I could to help. I heard he was confined to quarters and the captain was pretty pissed, but that’s about all I heard. Or at least, that’s all I could trust to be accurate.”
“Oh,” was all B’Elanna could think to say.
“How… are you doing?”
“I don’t know,” she admitted.
Tentatively, he reached a hand out to touch her face, brushing her hair back and stroking her cheek. “Do you want to talk about it, or would you rather be alone?”
Talk? She didn’t know about that. But alone, definitely not. “I could use the company.”
Taking his hand in hers, she led him to the small couch and sat, tugging him down beside her. Without a word, he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and she leaned into him, resting her head on his chest. She curled her legs up, hugging them to herself. His other arm settled around her.
For a long time, neither spoke. They simply sat, Harry holding her while she allowed her mind to take a break from thinking and feeling for a while.
Eventually, a handful words formed on her tongue.
“He doesn’t love me,” she whispered.
Harry squeezed her shoulders and pressed a kiss into her hair. “I’m sorry, B’Elanna.”
She wanted to say more, but she wasn’t sure what else there was to say.
“How do you feel about it?”
“Honestly?” She paused, searching herself and letting the emotions reveal themselves to her. “I feel...”
Sad? Some, but no. Angry? Well, that was practically her baseline, but no. There was something else, something bigger. She took a deep breath and the right word finally solidified in her mind.
“Relieved,” she said, breathing it out as if the tangle of emotions in her chest had trapped all the air in her lungs and now she was finally able to exhale.
“Really?” Harry asked.
“Yeah,” she murmured. “I know it doesn’t make any sense, but that’s how I feel.”
Some part of her still believed she should be handling the situation differently. She’d been in love with Chakotay—her best friend—for who knew how long, and when she finally told him how she felt, he couldn’t be bothered to say anything back before answering the summons of another woman.
She should be shattered.
“I guess,” she mused aloud, “I’ve known for a while that he felt more for her than he did for me. I’ve been so consumed with being angry at him that I couldn’t let it go, but now…” She pulled away, looking into Harry’s eyes. “Now I know. I have an answer—the answer I always expected but was too afraid to face. I’ve already been living with it for three months. Now I can finally move on.”
A slight frown crossed his face. “So it’s… good, then?”
Strange. It was strange. But maybe, in this case, strange was good.
“I think so,” she said.
“Then I’m glad.”
She opened her mouth to say she was glad, too, but she wasn’t there yet. Maybe someday she would be. Not today.
“Why do you care?” she asked. “About Chakotay, I mean. Why would you want to help him?”
Harry shrugged. “He’s a good person.”
“But wouldn’t Janeway be pissed?”
“I know how to talk to her,” he said. “She listens to me.”
B’Elanna frowned, a dissonant question returning to the forefront of her mind—one she’d put off asking for a while. “Why are you here? Serving her? How can someone as kind and caring as you stand to follow the orders of someone like her?”
Harry’s expression became distant, and it took him several seconds to answer.
“I made mistakes,” he said. “Big ones… when I was younger. If it hadn’t been for Captain Janeway seeing the potential in me and giving me a place on her ship, I’d still be getting punished for those mistakes. Or I’d be dead. She knew how to manipulate the system to her advantage, and she used that knowledge to save me.”
“So it’s a personal debt?” she spat. “You think you owe her your life or something?”
He shook his head. “It’s more than that. Captain Janeway is…” He shifted to face her better, his arms retreating to his lap. “Everyone has this idea of who she is. A bitch. A monster. And yeah, she does fucked up shit sometimes. But she does it for us. To protect us. And no one in my life before ever did anything but look out for themselves.”
B’Elanna didn’t reply, letting Harry’s words settle. Another conversation surfaced in her memory—a discussion about the mission that ended with Janeway murdering her own master gunner.
“He assaulted Ezri,” Harry had said. “Ten weeks before that mission. If anything, she should have killed him sooner.”
When B’Elanna told Chakotay about the master gunner’s death, she’d strategically left that part out. It hadn’t triggered Janeway‘s decision, and it didn’t justify the way Janeway carried out the punishment—using him as a sexual plaything before cutting his throat. But the man’s treatment of Ezri had likely topped the list of reasons why Janeway hated him.
If B’Elanna was in Janeway’s place, she would’ve killed him, too.
B’Elanna had long assumed Janeway was driven by some sick death fetish—that everything she’d done was motivated only by her warped, hedonistic impulses. Yet Harry seemed to have a different perspective.
To protect the crew. Janeway only did heinous things to protect her crew.
The notion didn’t sit right.
“Don’t you think she’s been a little selfish lately?” B’Elanna asked. “Dragging you into Cardie space and slaughtering people just to get even?”
“Okay,” Harry said, inclining his head, “I’ll admit that’s more or less a personal vendetta on her part. But it’s also to survive. We’re not on the Alliance’s payroll anymore. If we don’t steal, we don’t eat. And, believe it or not, she’s not keen on harming innocent people. Nor does she want to steal from anyone involved with the resistance. That limits our prospective targets.”
B’Elanna nodded. It made sense, she supposed. Didn’t excuse the things Janeway did, but at least it was understandable. If decent people like Harry, Tom, and Ezri could be comfortable serving her—if Chakotay could defend her and even develop feelings for her—there had to be at least a few redeeming qualities buried under that brutal exterior.
And Chakotay was right about one thing—B’Elanna had no right to judge.
Stretching her legs out to relieve the stiffness of being curled up for so long, B’Elanna shifted towards Harry and took his hand. “Thanks for coming. It means a lot that you wanted to help Chakotay, and it means even more that you stayed for me.”
He squeezed her hand. “Of course.”
She squeezed back, lingering for a moment before clearing her throat and pulling away. “Right, well… I’m sure Tom is wondering where you are. You’ve already missed dinner with him and Ezri.
“He’s working late. We were planning on having dinner in our quarters.” He smiled. “You should join us.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” she said, shaking her head. “I wouldn’t want to intrude.”
“You’re not intruding,” he insisted.
“It just… it sounds kinda like a date. Romantic dinner… alone…”
He curled his fingers around hers. “Then come on our date with us.”
Breathing became hard again, a different tangle of emotions forming in her stomachs. These feelings, though, were more familiar.
Affection. Excitement. Hope.
“You… you want me to go on a date with you?”
His cheeks flushed. “Right, this probably isn’t the best timing, given… you know… everything with you and Captain Chakotay, but... yeah. I do.”
Her heart beat faster. “Won’t Tom mind?”
“He likes you, B’Elanna,” Harry said, lifting her hand and brushing his lips against her knuckles. “We both do.”
A warm, tingling sensation spread out from his kiss to her entire body. Her throat tightened, strangling her voice. “You do?”
He cupped her face, stroking her cheek with his thumb. “We do.”
She took in a shaky breath. Kahless, what was she supposed to say? With Chakotay still lingering in her mind and weighing heavy on her chest, she wondered if maybe she shouldn’t take some time.
Except she may not have much time left with Harry and Tom, depending on where the mission went from here. And after it was over…
Closing the distance between herself and Harry, she pressed her lips to his.
For once, she truly paid attention to the way it felt to kiss him—the softness of his lips, the warmth of his breath, the taste of his tongue. She curled her fingers around the back of his neck, craving more depth. It wasn’t nearly the first kiss they’d shared.
But it was the first one she wished would never end.
Eventually, though, she had to come up for air. She reluctantly let him go, resting her forehead against his as she tried to catch her breath.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” he said.
B’Elanna laughed. “Yes.” She gave him one last peck before pulling away. “It’s a date.”
Waiting for Tom to arrive was awkward. Harry insisted he’d be happy to see her, but she couldn’t help feeling like she was imposing. The two had been together for, what, nine months now? Ten? And she’d been hanging around them for a matter of weeks. She was little more than a fling.
No, that wasn’t entirely true. Since the mission started, Harry and Tom had also embraced her as a friend. And that kiss she’d shared with Harry in her quarters…
What if Harry was wrong about Tom being okay with her tagging along? He was expecting to be alone with the man he loved, not to share their quiet evening with a fuckbuddy. Besides, Tom didn’t yet know about what happened between her and Chakotay—only that B’Elanna’s decision to confess her feelings had fallen through when Chakotay started fucking Janeway again.
What would he think of her?
But when Tom did arrive, he didn’t even ask. He just smiled, hugged B’Elanna, kissed Harry, and then they sat down to dinner. Simple as that.
“It’s over,” B’Elanna blurted out before she’d even taken her first bite. It was stupid, but she couldn’t stand the tension of what wasn’t being said—even if it only existed in her mind.
“What’s over?” Tom asked, spearing a piece of pasta with his fork.
“Chakotay and me.” She stared down at her food. “I told him how I feel, but he’s not interested.”
Tom set down his fork and grabbed her hand, drawing her eyes to his. “B’Elanna, I’m sorry. I know how much you wanted things to work out.”
She shook her head. “It’s fine. I’m just glad I know. Glad it’s done.”
He squeezed her hand and released it, returning to his food. “Well, you’re always welcome here.”
“See?” Harry said. “I told you.”
Heat rushed into her cheeks. She bent her head to hide the blush, grabbing her fork and stabbing at her food. “Thanks. I um…” She looked up, glancing between Harry and Tom. “I appreciate it.”
The rest of dinner carried on with relative ease. In their company, B’Elanna felt happy. She wasn’t an intruder after all, but part of a group. It didn’t mend the sadness she still felt over Chakotay, but it did lighten her spirit for a while.
It was… uncomplicated.
After dinner, a few playful kisses quickly became more. During the last two and a half weeks together, they’d gotten good at pleasing one another. Yet, this night felt different. The kisses were deeper, the movements were slower, and the exploration of bodies was more intentional. More sensual.
More like making love.
After it was over, they were little more than a pile of exhausted limbs all tangled up in each other. B’Elanna curled against Tom’s chest and Harry spooned around her back.
“Not that it’s my place to make any offers,” Tom said, “but we could use another engineer around here.”
“That’s true,” Harry said, his fingertips tracing her shoulder. “But don’t let Tom pressure you. I know you’re loyal to the resistance.”
B’Elanna frowned. “You… want me to stay?”
Tom leaned his forehead against hers. “I do.”
“Me, too,” Harry said. He wrapped an arm around her and kissed her neck.
Tom’s lips found hers, gentle at first but enough to awaken the same desire Harry had—a desire to never stop kissing him. He pressed his tongue into her mouth and clutched her tighter, as if trying to persuade her with his affection rather than his words.
And she pulled him closer, too, because his persuasion was working.
Harry must have picked up on Tom’s idea, because his hand wandered down between her thighs. He stroked her slowly, moving in vertical lines and drawing soft circles around her clit. Tom slid his leg up, adding more pressure. Soon, B’Elanna was shaking uncontrollably, pleasure building and building until it burst in waves that rippled through her.
“That… is not fair,” she panted when she was done.
Tom smiled. “Who said anything about fair?”
A few hours ago, she would have rejected their proposal outright. Her? Working for Janeway? Absolutely not. Yet for some reason, the idea stuck with her, demanding to be considered.
Or perhaps it was her current position, naked between two very charming men.
The more intelligent parts of her brain reminded her of how utterly stupid it would be for her to stay just for Harry and Tom. She’d been loyal to Chakotay for nearly three years, and he ultimately broke her heart. Who could say whether this thing—whatever it was—with Harry and Tom would last?
Tom tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “Just think about it.”
“No pressure,” Harry added, hugging her.
“I’ll think about it,” she said.
Tom kissed her forehead. “Glad to hear it.” He yawned and his eyes fluttered closed.
B’Elanna watched him drift off to sleep.
Maybe in time, they’d break her heart, too. Maybe that was the fate of all loving relationships. But the thought of staying with them felt better than the prospect of going back to live on Valjean with a man she could hardly stand to be around anymore.
It was certainly better than putting up with the suspicious glares and subtle hostilities of others in the resistance—something she would surely face if she asked to transfer to another ship or base.
Her mother was dead. She’d gotten what she wanted from the resistance. The only reason she hadn’t left yet was Chakotay—well, that and she had nowhere else to go. If Tom’s suggestion was something he could actually deliver on, it gave her another option. There was nothing left for her in the resistance, but there was possibility on Ching Shih.
The real question was, could she be comfortable living under Kathryn Janeway’s command? Maybe. It was hard to say.
What if Janeway didn’t want her?
That was a ridiculous thought. Why wouldn’t she? None of Janeway’s engineers had nearly as much education as B’Elanna had been privy to, nor did they have experience in command.
Beyond that, B’Elanna knew more about Klingon and Alliance-produced technology than anyone else on board. If she wanted, she could make Ching Shih spin in circles to the movements of a Klingon opera and no one on board would be able to do a damn thing about it. She knew all the override codes.
B’Elanna gasped. “Baktag’qung Kahless!”
“Hmm?” Tom asked, halfway asleep.
But Harry was still awake. “What is it?” he murmured.
“You checked the com logs for transmissions to the Cardies from our guests, right?” she whispered. “And you checked waste energy for covert messages?”
“What if I told you I know another way they could have sent a message—one you’d never be able to find without the right Klingon override codes?”
“I’d say we need to head to the bridge right away and check it out,” he said.
“Give me access to ops,” she said, “and I’ll find out if anyone has been sending messages they shouldn’t have been.”
B’Elanna’s fingers flew over the ops control interface, plugging in one code after another until the clandestine transmission revealed itself. “Got it,” she announced.
Harry’s eyes widened. “Already?”
“Damn,” Tom said, peering over the console from the other side. “Even Harry can’t hack shit that fast.”
“It’s not a hack,” Harry muttered. “She has the override codes.”
Tom grinned at B’Elanna. “He’s very sensitive about these things.”
Harry rolled his eyes and turned his attention to B’Elanna. “What’s in the message?”
“Not sure yet,” she said, returning to her work. “It’s encrypted, but it definitely came from their shared quarters.”
B’Elanna ran the message through a decryption analysis program, tapping her fingers beside the interface as she waited. It took a couple minutes for the results to come back.
“What about a Cardie decryption algorithm?” Tom asked.
“They didn’t exactly share that sort of thing with us,” B’Elanna said. “Anything that needed to be readable by Alliance officials used Alliance decryption algorithms.”
“Maybe you don’t know any of their decryption algorithms…” Tapping in a few commands, Tom pulled up a second database B’Elanna hadn’t known was there.
A Cardassian database.
He opened the Cardie decryption analysis program and smiled at her. “But we do.”
B’Elanna barked out a laugh. Of course they’d been hacking and collecting data from the Cardie ships they’d destroyed. She plugged the message into the program and let it run. Within seconds, it returned the result.
“Kahless,” she said, wide eyes fixing on Harry, “it’s a tracking receiver.”
“They’re tracking the ship?” Tom asked. “Then why haven’t they come after us?”
“They don’t care where we are now,” Harry said. “They wanna track us in the nebula where we can’t see them through the sensor interference.” He glanced at B’Elanna. “When was the message sent?”
She checked the timestamp. “Eleven days ago at 1423 hours.”
“I wonder…” Tapping into the ship’s internal sensors from the station beside her, Harry pulled up the data from the date and time B’Elanna had given him. “Damn,” he said. “That can’t be a coincidence.”
“What?” she asked.
“Internal sensors were down shipwide.” He shook his head. “Took us two hours to fix them. Now we know why.”
“So we know the message contains the seed value to a tracking receiver,” B’Elanna said, “and we know it was sent from the Cardies’ quarters, but we don’t know for sure who sent it. I mean, it could’ve been either of them.”
“Or both,” Harry said.
“Wait a minute,” Tom said. “If they’re both working against us, why bother messing with internal sensors?”
“You think they were trying to cover-up which one of them was in their quarters at the time?” Harry asked.
B’Elanna shrugged. “Makes sense to me.”
“Okay,” Harry said, “so assuming only one of them is the culprit, how do we flush out the spy?”
The three went silent for a while. How indeed?
What was the spy’s goal? Deliver Ching Shih to Dukat? Naturally, he’d want the cloak. Everyone wanted the damn thing. It was the obvious answer.
Dukat knew Janeway’s record. He knew she was capable of taking on multiple cruisers at once, and he knew she was one of the best strategic minds around. He also knew she’d sooner destroy her ship and everyone on it than surrender to him. It was unlikely he’d get his hands on the cloak, even if he won the battle. And he wasn’t an idiot.
So he wasn’t trying to take the cloak.
Maybe he simply wanted to destroy Ching Shih, to stop a notorious Terran pirate from slaughtering his soldiers and scrapping his ships. Except nothing B’Elanna knew about Dukat indicated that he gave a shit about his people. His concern was the state, the empire. Every ship, unit, and individual life existed only to serve the needs of the empire—cogs in a machine.
True, Janeway had wounded Cardassian pride. In eight months, she’d destroyed a couple dozen ships and taken a few thousand lives. But in the grand scheme of things, those figures were next to nothing in an empire of trillions. Why would Dukat give up several high value prisoners and put himself in harm’s way just to eliminate one minor threat?
Unless it wasn’t Ching Shih he was after. Maybe what he really wanted was a trophy, an exceptional and renown Terran prisoner to break.
Suddenly, B’Elanna knew what to do. “Get Janeway,” she said. “I have an idea.”
Chapter 10: Kathryn
It was a bad day when torture, a hard fuck, and two scalding showers couldn’t make Kathryn feel like herself again.
Nothing she did could pry the image of Dukat and Marta out of her head. Over and over his words echoed in her mind—‘maybe I’ll have to try her myself and see what it is that captivates you so much.’ As if it wasn’t bad enough what they’d already done to her. She’d survived having her memory engrams copied—a procedure that was rumored to leave patients with serious brain damage—and nearly six years in a secret Cardassian prison. Now this.
It was too much.
Kathryn hadn’t thought it possible to be more furious than she’d been after learning the truth about Seska. That rage had driven her to burn her way across Cardassian space. Seve tunkajik, they called her. Otherworldly creature of death.
What she’d done was nothing in comparison to what she wanted to do now.
Still, she had to at least appear in control. As she marched towards the two bunk rooms where the other prisoners were quartered, she made herself take deep breaths to grasp at some semblance of calm. Most likely, every person inside hated her, but she might need them. It wouldn’t do to start slitting throats when it wasn’t called for.
And it certainly wouldn’t do to have anyone thinking she’d lost her wits entirely.
In one of the bunk rooms, five prisoners were sitting in their beds looking restless and bored. Their eyes snapped to Kathryn the moment she walked in, all of their expressions full of scorn.
All except one—her first master gunner, Rudolph Ransom.
The sight of his silver hair, weathered face, and crisp blue eyes made Kathryn stop in her tracks, heart slamming against her chest. “Rudy.”
His eyes smiled even though his lips barely did. “It’s been a long time, Kathryn.”
“Captain,” Dr. Zimmerman said, hurrying to her side. “Before you question them, you should know th—”
Kathryn held up a hand. “Leave.”
“Very well,” he said with a grunt before stalking out of the room.
Slinking to Rudy’s bed, she eyed him up and down and sneered. “At least you got some kind of punishment for abandoning your captain and crew, although I had something different in mind for the day I finally caught you.”
He gave his head a slight shake. “I didn’t abandon you. I was turned over to Cardies on Risa by Marta’s double.”
Her eyebrows shot up. “Is that so?”
She studied his face, his posture, the rise and fall of his chest. He was perfectly capable of deceiving her, yet she looked for signs of it anyway. No such signs appeared.
The fact of the matter was she’d suspected this for a while. After Rudy failed to report back to Ching Shih when they were scheduled to disembark from Risa, Seska—under the guise of Marta—had wheedled Kathryn into promoting that sniveling weasel Cavit to master gunner. At the time, Kathryn thought it was because Cavit had become Marta’s favorite plaything. Now she knew better.
Seska had wanted someone more loyal to her than to Kathryn.
“Alright,” Kathryn finally said, favoring Rudy with the tilt of her head. “I believe you.”
“Good,” he said, “because I’d like to return to my post.”
Rudy had always been bluntly honest—a trait Kathryn deeply appreciated. Still, she didn’t want him thinking he was off the hook entirely. He’d have to earn back her trust.
She arched an eyebrow. “What makes you think your post is still open?”
“I’m sure you can make room for an old friend.”
Kathryn suppressed a smile. “I’ll consider it. Have you been at Rakal the entire time?”
“Yes. Marta was already there. Said she’d been there since she was captured in the Badlands.”
“I see.” Kathryn swiveled on a heel and found the Trill woman watching her dispassionately. “Jadzia Dax.”
A slight smile lifted the corners of Jadzia’s mouth. “I don’t think we’ve met.”
“No,” Kathryn said, “but one of my opsmates recognized you right away. I’m Captain—“
“Kathryn Janeway,” Dax finished. “Privateer for the intendant of the Sol sector.”
Kathryn smiled. “I only work for myself now.”
Dax hummed. “I can’t say I’m surprised Ezri Tigan would choose someone like you. I always told Smiley she couldn’t be trusted. What does surprise me is that someone with a reputation like yours would be foolish enough to let her stay.”
“She’s been nothing but loyal to me,” Kathryn said. “Perhaps she simply found the Terran resistance to be a less than welcoming place for a Trill, and she knew she could do better.”
Kathryn nodded. “Like me. Tell me, how long have you been at Rakal prison?”
“Almost a year,” Dax said.
“A lot has happened since then. I suspect your rebel friends will be glad to learn you’re alive, especially now that the Alliance has disbanded.”
Dax’s eyes widened. “What?”
“Is that true?” the Bajoran woman asked from the next bed over.
“It is,” Kathryn said, gaze flicking to her. “And you are?”
“Ro Laren,” the woman said, all spite gone from her face. “I was part of an insurgency movement to make Bajor an independent power. The Cardies captured me two years ago.”
Interesting. “You won’t have much to do when you get home,” Kathryn said. “At the moment, all of Bajor has decided to sit back and let the Klingons and Cardassians kill each other.”
Ro nodded. “Smart move.”
“Can we trust her, Deanna?” Dax asked.
Kathryn frowned. Then she felt it—a telepathic prodding. Except it wasn’t an invasion, but a survey. She tilted her head to see the third woman, who sat in the bunk above Ro.
Eyes as black as her long, curly hair.
“A telepath,” Kathryn growled.
“Not exactly,” the Betazoid said. “I’m half Terran. I can sense the feelings of others, but I can’t read their thoughts.”
“Either way,” Kathryn said, “you’re not getting into my head, Miss…?”
“Troi. Deanna Troi.”
“There’s no need for mind games,” Rudy said. “She’s telling us the truth.”
The Terran man above Jadzia barked a laugh.
“Do you have something to add to this conversation?” Kathryn asked.
Brown eyes full of hatred locked onto hers as he leaned over the bed rail and spat on the deck. He laid back and said nothing.
“Wesley isn’t a very big fan,” Dax said. “You kinda killed his father.”
And yet he’d played games with those loyal to her—with Marta and Rudy. The hypocrisy of youth.
Kathryn pursed her lips. “Very well, then.” She scanned the rest of the group. “Valuable as I’m sure you all are, I’m here for my former first mate, Marta Zelle. When was the last time you saw her?”
“Eight days ago,” Ro said. “We had dinner, played a few rounds of kotra, and went to our cells by curfew. The next morning, she was gone.”
“And before you ask,” Dax said, “no, they didn’t tell us anything.”
“I assumed they wouldn’t,” Kathryn said.
“Any idea who took Marta, or where they took her?” Rudy asked.
“As a matter of fact,” Kathryn said, flashing him a sly smile, “I do.”
He gave her a knowing half-smile in return.
Kathryn considered the people around her—Rudy, Dax, Ro, Wesley, and Troi. Other than the minor phaser burns from the grenade, they were unharmed. Clearly, the Cardies had given them food, showers, clothing, and medical care. There were no signs of torture, and no obvious signs of psychological trauma.
"For prisoners of war,” she said, “you seem to be very well cared for.”
“Of course they took care of us,” Dax said. “We’re cards in their game just waiting to be played at the right time. Marta is, too, and I’ll bet you’re playing right into their hand trying to get to her.”
“Perhaps,” Kathryn said, “but I always keep an ace up my sleeve.”
Dax scoffed and opened her mouth to speak, but the comm system interrupted.
“Kim to Captain Janeway.”
Kathryn stepped to the panel by the door and accepted the comm. “Janeway here.”
“B’Elanna found the source of the transmission, Captain. She has an idea that I think you’re gonna want to hear.”
“Meet me in my office. I’ll be there in five. Janeway out.” Closing the channel, she swiveled towards Rudy. “Want in?”
He slid off the bed and nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”
She’d fallen asleep alone in her bed, feeling somewhat better after making a plan with Harry, Tom, B’Elanna, and Rudy to rescue Marta.
She woke up to the jolt of weapons fire on the deck of a Cardie ship.
Kathryn’s eyes snapped open, surveying the room. It was large and open, more like a throne room than a bridge, but clearly it was a bit of both. Officers lined the periphery, working consoles with an intensity she only ever saw during battle.
At the center of it all was a man Kathryn could only assume was Supreme Legate Dukat. He was facing away from her, but no one else would dare position themselves the way he had—in a gaudy chair elevated on a tall dais with stairs tumbling down the front.
“Return fire!” Dukat barked.
“I can’t,” an officer said. “Ching Shih has changed position. We can’t track them.”
Hands grabbed Kathryn’s arms and pulled her upright. Wrenching free from their grasp, she rolled away and jumped to her feet, ready to fight.
Six officers with disruptor rifles trained their weapons on her.
“I thought you said you planted a tracker on the ship,” Dukat said.
It was Ziyal’s voice that answered. “They must have found it. But it doesn’t matter. You have their captain.”
Chakotay and Moset were already on their knees, hands cuffed behind their backs. One of the officers strode towards Kathryn, dragging her back to Chakotay’s side and forcing her to the deck before trapping her own wrists in cuffs.
“Yes, I do,” Dukat said, chair twisting forward as he settled his sinister gaze on the captives kneeling before him. “Welcome aboard, Captain Janeway, Captain Chakotay.”
Kathryn wanted to demand he let her see Marta, but she took a breath to cool her rage. “You said to come see you in person.” She raised her chin. “I’m here.”
An amused smile cut across his face. “Yes, you are.” His eyes flicked away. “I hoped I’d be the one to execute you, Dr. Moset.”
Moset spat on the deck.
“Bitterness doesn’t become you, doctor,” Dukat said. “This is your own doing.”
“Yes,” Moset said, “it is. And I have to say, I’m impressed. I didn’t even suspect your daughter.” His eyes flicked to Ziyal, who stood a couple meters away. “How did you do it?”
“Why should I tell you, traitor?” she asked.
“I’m about to die anyway,” Moset said. “Humor me.”
Yanking the silver ring from her thumb, she tossed it to the deck. It slid to a stop in front of him.
“It’s loaded with nanotrackers, isn’t it?” Moset asked. “Planted in the three of us on contact so our lifesigns could be located and transported here through the nebula’s interference.”
“It took you long enough to figure that out,” Ziyal said. “I’ll never understand how you got through medical school. You’re really not that smart.”
Moset inclined his head. “Not nearly as smart as you, my dear.”
“Do you have anything to say for yourself?” Dukat asked. “Any confessions you’d like to make before you die?”
“Yes, I do.” Moset glared at the supreme legate. “Your crimes will be punished, Dukat. Someday, all your power and prestige will fail you, and you will be held accountable for the innocent billions you have slaughtered—not only aliens, but your own people as well. I’m not the only one who sees you for what you really are.”
“All Cardassians are subjects of the empire,” Dukat said. “If death is what our empire requires, then they should die with pride knowing they have served their people. Anyone who betrays the empire will die in shame and be forgotten, just like you.” He nodded to Ziyal. “Go on, daughter.”
Snatching a disruptor rifle from the officer nearest her, Ziyal circled around behind Moset, adjusted the weapon’s settings, and shot him in the back. His body seized and fell forward, thudding on the deck.
“Well done,” Dukat said as his daughter stepped over Moset and made her way to the dais. “Your successes on this mission are far beyond what I expected, and I suppose I can’t be too hard on you for your failure. You are, after all, only half Cardassian.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t do a better job of hiding the tracker on their ship, father,” Ziyal said, bowing her head. “But I’m sure your fleet will find Ching Shih. They won’t get far.”
“We’ll find them,” Dukat said. “But that is not your true failure.”
Ziyal’s head snapped up. “I don’t understand. How else have I failed you? Haven’t I proven myself worthy of a place in your crew?”
Dukat shook his head. “Honestly, Ziyal, do you really think this half-finished mission entitles you to a place here? You wasted your best opportunity to neutralize this one small threat to the empire. How can I trust you to handle threats larger than this one?”
“But I brought you their captain,” Ziyal argued.
“Any good Cardassian would have known that in order to defeat Captain Janeway, one must think like her.” He tipped his head forward, looking down at Ziyal with a frigid expression. “I told you to destroy Ching Shih , but you simply couldn’t give up the opportunity to get that cloaking device. Now it is up to my fleet to clean up your mess.”
“Why would you want to destroy the only cloaking device in this universe? It’s the key to our victory!”
“Because destroying it is what Janeway’s crew will do when we defeat them. We were never going to get that cloak, but you could have removed it as a threat to our people. How many brave Cardassian soldiers will die for your mistake?”
Her shoulders slumped. “I’m sorry, father. I promise it won’t happen again.”
“You’re right,” Dukat said. “It won’t happen again.” His eyes flitted to the officers standing guard, and he nodded.
Ziyal spun around, but before she could fire off a single shot, the plasma beam of Dukat’s disruptor caught her in the back. Her body went rigid, spine arching as the deadly energy coursed through her. The rifle fell to the deck with a clatter, and a moment later she collapsed.
Dukat holstered his disruptor and tapped a control on his armrest. “Bring in the prisoners.”
A new group of officers filed into the room, all armed with disruptor rifles. In their midst were two Terran women and, although Kathryn couldn’t see their faces, she already knew the one with chestnut brown hair was Marta.
Her chest tightened and her stomach tied in a knot.
The officers split into two groups, each escorting one of the women to either side of the dais. They shoved Marta to her knees, and her eyes finally met Kathryn’s—green and beautiful and full of rage.
For the briefest moment, everything stopped. Part of Kathryn’s brain still saw Seska, blood splattered across her face and those green eyes empty.
But that wasn’t real.
This was real—Marta, alive, right in front of her. And she was looking back at Kathryn, the rage becoming sadness and then a look that, even on her best days, Seska had never quite been able to capture.
The other prisoner grunted as her knees hit the deck, and Chakotay gasped. “No.”
Kathryn glanced at him, finding his eyes wide with horror. She followed his gaze to the other woman—golden-blonde hair, full perfect lips, and stunning blue eyes that radiated confidence.
Dukat stood and strode down the stairs. “From the moment Terrans murdered those first Vulcan visitors to Earth and stole their technology for themselves, your people have done nothing but steal what does not belong to you.”
A speech. Kathryn let out a quiet sigh. At least it would give them more time.
Stepping over Ziyal’s body, Dukat made his way to Annika. “In fact, for years you were so intent on following this path that you murdered your own people for no other purpose than to claim every last shred of power for yourselves. That was the Terran Empire.” He tipped Annika’s chin up with a finger. “And it served no one but the emperor alone.”
Chakotay struggled against his restraints until the officer behind him dug a rifle into his back.
Dukat circled back around the dais, his steps slow and purposeful. “You are a brutal, warmongering, inferior species without a collective vision. You had real power that could have been invested in your empire, but you were too ignorant to manage it. Like children fighting over a weapon, you destroyed each other and dragged the rest of us down with you.”
Reaching Marta’s side, he pushed her hair away from her face and stroked her cheek. Marta jutted out her chin, defiant even in captivity.
“This is why you must never be allowed to have freedom,” Dukat said. “Why you must be oppressed.”
Kathryn dug her nails into her palms, resisting the urge to scream. If Marta could be strong then, damnit, so could she.
Besides, it was only a matter of time.
Dukat sneered at Kathryn and Chakotay as he strode towards them. “You claim to be victims of the Alliance, but this is the life you have made for yourselves—the natural consequence of your actions. Those Klingon beasts and Bajoran fools may have forgotten the truth, but Cardassia remembers what you really are.”
Kathryn glared at him as he stopped before her and ran his fingers down her throat.
“And now, Captain Janeway, you will watch your lover die the same way you have killed so many before.”
Turning on a heel, Dukat stalked towards Marta and dragged a blade from the sheath on his hip.
Time. She needed to buy more time.
Hooking an ankle behind her guard’s heel, she wrenched him from his feet and sprang to her own. The moment he hit the deck, she kicked him in the head and pressed her boot against his throat.
When she looked up, every rifle was trained on her. She gave Dukat a sharp smile. “You won’t kill me. You’re not done with me yet.”
“You’re right, Captain,” Dukat said. “I won’t kill you. But my men’s weapons aren’t set to kill.”
The blast felt like an electrical shock hitting just beneath her armor. Her muscles seized, sending her face-first to the deck. Pain sliced through her skull and, for an instant, everything went black. When color returned, the whole room twisted and blurred.
Kathryn fought the urge to vomit. Her mouth was filling with blood from where her teeth had cut the inside of her cheek. She spat red onto the deck and gave a throaty, derisive laugh.
As long as she kept Dukat distracted, he wouldn’t be killing Marta. If his men beat or stunned her unconscious, he’d have to wait until she was revived enough to watch Marta die. Even with both hands cuffed and Cardies on every side, Kathryn still had an advantage.
Dukat was a fool, and he had no idea what was coming.
Just as Kathryn was about to start hurling insults, Chakotay’s voice boomed throughout the room.
The sheer volume made Kathryn wince with pain. She tried to reposition herself so she could see better, but everything tilted and her stomach twisted again.
“If it’s blood you want,” Chakotay said, “then take mine.”
“Oh, I will,” Dukat said. “But not until Janeway has watched everyone she cares for die. Not until you’ve seen every last rebel brought to justice for Terran depravity—starting with your whore. And by then, you’ll be begging me for death.”
“You’re a coward,” Chakotay growled.
Dukat chuckled. “Come now, Captain. You can do better than that. Surely a respected rebel leader such as yourself would—“
Klaxons screeched, scraping across the room like nails on a bulkhead. “Sir!” one of the officers called out. “Our main shield grid has just gone offline!”
Kathryn let out a breath.
Chapter 11: B’Elanna
B’Elanna pounded down the last of her raktajino and rolled her head.
After meeting with Janeway and one of the prisoners liberated at Rakal—a former crew mate on Ching Shih named Rudy Ransom—she’d gone back to her quarters to bring Chakotay up to speed and get a few hours of sleep. Harry asked her to meet him and Tom early on the bridge just in case the spy set their plan in motion sooner than expected.
Nearly two hours later, B’Elanna seriously regretted agreeing to Harry’s request.
It wasn’t long before Tom dropped Ching Shih out of warp. “Welcome to the Hugora nebula.”
“Let Captain Janeway know we’ve arrived,” Harry said.
“Aye, QM,” Ezri said. She’d barely touched the interface when she frowned. “Uh, I’m seeing a transport in progress. Someone’s beaming Captain Janeway, Captain Chakotay, and both Cardies off the ship.”
B’Elanna’s breath caught. They’d anticipated one of the Cardies would abduct Janeway, but why take Chakotay?
Ching Shih jolted, weapons fire slamming into the ship.
“Drop the cloak and raise shields,” Harry said. “Tom, take us into the nebula.”
“Aye, sir,” Tom said.
“B’Elanna, return fire.”
There was no ship on sensors, so B’Elanna traced its location based on the weapon’s trajectory and made a manual target lock. She got off several shots as Ching Shih entered the nebula. There was no way to know if the shots hit.
Harry twisted his chair towards Ezri. “The implants?”
“Transmitting,” Ezri said. “Moset and Ziyal were taken to a ship about a kilometer off the port bow. I’m forwarding coordinates to the helm and the shield frequency to the transporter room.”
He glanced at B’Elanna. “Then that’s our cue. Ezri, let Ransom know we’re a go, and tell him to have the teams ready.”
Swiveling forward, Harry locked the chair in place and stood. “Tom.”
Tom nodded at his relief pilot and got out of his seat. His face was grim as he approached Harry.
Harry took a sharp breath. “If things go south—”
“I know what to do,” Tom said, taking Harry’s hand. “I won’t let the Cardies get the cloak.”
Harry nodded, hesitated, then grabbed Tom’s face and kissed him hard. A few murmured words were exchanged when they parted, and Harry hurried aft.
Swallowing the lump in her throat, B’Elanna followed him into the turbolift.
They materialized on the Cardie ship standing back-to-back, disruptor rifles charged and ready to fire. B’Elanna swept her weapon across her field of vision, looking for any sign of threat.
“Clear,” she said, loud enough for Harry to hear but not so loud that it carried.
“Clear,” he echoed, and set his weapon to standby.
B’Elanna kept a lookout while Harry used a Vulcan scanner to locate the main shield generator. Seconds ticked by, and she forced herself to breathe slowly despite her fear.
Chakotay could be dying at that very moment. She could already be too late.
No alarms were going off, which hopefully meant the topaline rocks they carried in their pockets were effectively masking their life signs. It could also mean the intruder alert was silent. B’Elanna chose not to dwell on that thought.
“Got it,” Harry said. “We’re not far.” When B’Elanna risked a glance over her shoulder, Harry jerked his head towards his end of the corridor and stowed his scanner in a pocket. “This way.”
She nodded, checked behind them, and followed Harry carefully forward.
Harry’s lips moved as they went, silently counting off the rooms they passed. She had no idea where they were headed, and she hoped his memory proved trustworthy.
If he were nearly anyone else, she wouldn’t have trusted him at all.
Soon enough, Harry stopped outside a closed doorway and motioned for B’Elanna to take the opposite side. Once she was in position, he held up three fingers and counted down.
Together, they stepped into the motion sensor’s range and the door slid open. Only two of the six Cardies looked up from their consoles, shock widening their eyes at the appearance of aliens in their control room.
B’Elanna shot them both before anyone could react.
“Back!” Harry shouted, lobbing a stun grenade into the room. B’Elanna leapt into the corridor and the door slid shut
Three seconds later, the grenade detonated. When it was clear, B’Elanna and Harry stepped back through.
Inside the control room, B’Elanna rewired the door mechanism while Harry hacked the ship’s computer system. Although B’Elanna prided herself on having some of the best hacking skills in the resistance, Harry had more experience with Cardie technology.
It took him all of three minutes.
“We’ve got company,” Harry said after the shield generator went down.
“How many?” B’Elanna asked.
“Eight Cardies, and they’re right on top of us.”
B’Elanna swore under her breath.
“Wait a min—”
Harry’s words were interrupted by the din of weapons fire in the corridor. Muffled shouts sounded outside the door as people were wounded or killed.
B’Elanna frowned at Harry, but he smiled back and said, “I think our reinforcements are here.”
When the commotion outside died down, a series of knocks rapped in a pattern against the door. “Coast is clear, QM,” came Ransom’s voice.
“And hurry up, would you?” a woman snapped. “I’d rather not wait around for more Cardies to come looking.”
While B’Elanna triggered the door to reopen, Harry shot out his console. “Let’s go get our captains,” he said, and stepped into the corridor.
Outside, several of Janeway’s crew were sprawled on the deck. A few of the former prisoners were down, too, blackened holes burned through their jumpsuits and into their skin. None of them moved, not even to take a breath. Harry glanced over the dead, his face grave, then nodded at Ransom.
“Move out,” Ransom barked, and the team lurched forward.
The forces from Ching Shih took up front and rear positions, while B’Elanna and Harry joined Ransom’s band of ex-prisoners in the middle. B’Elanna hadn’t met any of them before, but she quickly learned their names as they made their way to the bridge.
She might very well need to call on them to save her life... or Chakotay’s.
“That bridge is huge,” Harry said, leaning over to show B’Elanna the layout on his scanner. “Stun grenades won’t help us in there.”
“Course not,” Ransom grunted. “It’s a palace with warp engines strapped on, and that’s Dukat’s throne room.”
“Lucky for us,” Jadzia said, “Dukat probably sent anyone he could spare to get the shields back online.”
Ro nodded at Harry’s scanner. “How many hostiles are in there?”
“Can’t tell,” Harry said. “There’s a dampening field around the bridge. The scanner can’t penetrate it.”
B’Elanna scowled at the image. “How can this thing get a detailed layout of the area inside the dampening field?”
Harry flashed a smile. “It can’t. I downloaded the ship’s schematics after I took the shield generator offline.”
“Good thinking,” B’Elanna said, smiling back.
“I’m sensing eighteen people in that area of the ship,” Deanna said. “It’s hard to say how many of them are hostile.”
“You can tell how many people are in a specific location?” Harry asked.
Deanna threw a haughty look over her shoulder. “You’d be surprised at what I can do with my mind.”
“As long as it works in our favor,” Harry said, returning his attention to the scanner.
“It will,” Deanna said.
Outside the large, double-wide door leading to the bridge, everyone lined up and checked their weapons. B’Elanna slipped to the side, shouldering her rifle and tinkering with the locking mechanism while Harry watched her back.
When she looked up to signal the team, Deanna and Wesley were standing out of line behind them.
Two at a time, the team passed their silent signal up the line. When it reached the top, the man at point held up his hand and gave the countdown. At zero, B’Elanna opened the door and the team burst inside.
Air crackled as fire was exchanged. By the time B’Elanna and Harry followed the rest of the team inside, several people were down. It was a small comfort that most of those on the deck wore Cardassian military uniforms.
B’Elanna ducked as a plasma beam screamed towards her and she returned with a hit just below the Cardie’s armor. Beside her, one of Janeway’s mates went down, and she took out his shooter. She was just about to lunge for the nearest abandoned console when Dukat’s thundering voice brought all fighting to a sudden halt.
“Make one more move,” he said, one fist in Marta’s hair and a knife to her throat, “and the woman you’re here to save dies.” His lips twisted into a malicious smile. “Unless you don’t care whether or not she dies. In which case then, by all means, continue.”
Nobody fired a shot.
“Good,” Dukat said. “Gentlemen, please disarm our visitors.”
“Don’t!” Marta shouted. She yelped when Dukat jerked her hair.
The remaining seven Cardies ambled over to take everyone’s weapons, but the team refused to give them up. B’Elanna followed suit, brandishing her rifle as the officer in front of her froze.
It was a stalemate. Dukat’s people were outnumbered, though not by much. Yet he had Marta.
Dukat and Marta were in the middle of the bridge a few paces away from the throne. In front of them, Chakotay, Janeway, and Moset were flat on the deck with hands cuffed behind their backs. Moset was still as death, a blackened hole in his back, but Chakotay and Janeway were still breathing.
Near the throne, Ziyal lay on her stomach, arms sprawled and eyes empty, a disruptor rifle just barely out of reach.
B’Elanna knew exactly how this standoff was going to end—with both Marta and Dukat dead. And quite possibly herself, as well, in the bloodbath about to occur. But maybe Chakotay would survive.
A klaxon blared.
“What is it?” Dukat snapped.
The officer in front of B’Elanna shot a nervous glance from Dukat to her, then darted towards the nearest console. “Proximity alert, sir.”
“Ching Shih?” Dukat asked.
“No,” the officer said. “I can’t tell who it is.”
“The Vulcan spy network,” answered an unfamiliar voice—a blonde Terran woman sitting beside the dais. “They’ve come to recover me.”
Dukat frowned. “What? How cou—“ He yelped, fingers tightening on the knife even as his eyes squeezed shut. “GET OUT OF MY HEAD!”
It was Deanna, prying into his mind from outside the room.
Digging her chin under Dukat’s arm, Marta forced the blade away from her neck and sank her teeth into his wrist. He roared, hand spasming and knife clattering to the deck. Blood dripped from the wound and down Marta’s chin, but Dukat refused to let her go.
Light flashed across B’Elanna’s vision, slamming into Dukat from behind and making his whole body convulse. She tracked the plasma beam back to the blonde woman lying on her side, cuffed hands now in front of her and gripping Ziyal’s rifle.
Dukat’s body thudded on the deck.
The bridge exploded with disruptor fire and B’Elanna jumped into action, dropping the Cardie behind the console and diving into his spot for cover. She took aim at another and shot just as Deanna and Wesley stormed in and joined the fight.
It was over in a matter of seconds.
“Seal off the bridge!” Harry yelled.
“Aye!” B’Elanna acknowledged as she leapt to the door. It was even easier to lock than it had been to open. She glanced up to tell Harry it was done only to find him kneeling over Ransom’s body, pressing his fingers to the older man’s neck.
Ransom’s shirt was singed right above his heart, but as B’Elanna narrowed her eyes, she caught a slight up-and-down movement of his chest. He’d been stunned, not killed.
Jadzia darted across the room towards Ro, who had made it farther than anyone before being shot in the shoulder. Ro groaned when Jadzia touched her, wounded but alive.
As B’Elanna scanned the room, she could see others from the team still breathing despite bearing wounds that should have been fatal. The Cardies had set their disruptor rifles to stun. But why?
The answer came almost as soon as she thought of the question. Janeway—Dukat’s prize. He’d wanted her alive, and it wouldn’t do to have his men kill her if she caused trouble.
The clank of metal hitting the deck snapped B’Elanna’s attention once more to the blonde woman. A bright red disruptor burn covered half of her left forearm, and her cuffs lay open beside her. She yanked a small device from Dukat’s body—he was definitely dead—and freed Marta from her restraints. Rising, she made her way towards Chakotay.
“You’re hurt,” he said, fear tightening his voice. The way he looked at her, and she at him… they knew each other. Intimately.
B’Elanna frowned. Who was this woman?
“It isn’t serious,” she said, unlocking his cuffs.
As soon as he was free, he pushed up to his knees, grabbed her wrist, and examined the burn along her arm. “Annika, I’m so sorry they—”
She pressed a finger to his lips. “Later.”
Reluctantly, he let her go. She turned to Janeway, who was spitting blood on the deck while Marta murmured something B’Elanna couldn’t understand.
Annika. Who the hell was Annika and how did Chakotay know her?
“B’Elanna,” Harry said, jolting her back to her senses and drawing her gaze to him. “Mind helping with the dampening field?”
“Right,” she said, shaking off her daze and hurrying over to join him at a console. “Sorry.”
He took her hand and squeezed it, offering her a sympathetic look.
“I’m glad you’re okay,” she said, squeezing back.
He pressed a quick kiss to her lips. “I’m glad we both are.” Releasing her hand, he returned to the interface. “Now let’s get this thing down and go home.”
She allowed herself one last lingering look at him and nodded. “Aye, sir.”
Chapter 12: Kathryn
With help from the Vulcans, Kathryn and her crew were able to take not only Dukat’s ship, but also the entire fleet he’d hidden inside the Hugora nebula. They made quick work of it all, destroying the enemy ships and fleeing the nebula within hours of the battle.
Dr. Zimmerman, of course, had insisted on treating her injuries despite her insistence that she was fine. It was just as well. Although she hated unnecessary medical attention, she did need to discuss verifying Marta’s identity.
After Seska’s death, Zimmerman had done an exhaustive examination of her body to look for evidence of the cross-species transformation. It wasn’t easy to find, but the proof was there. Now that Zimmerman knew what to look for, Marta’s identity would be easier to confirm… or disprove.
Kathryn and Marta had exchanged a few words on Dukat’s bridge, though nothing substantial was said. What was there to say at that point? Until Kathryn knew for sure this Marta was her Marta, she didn’t want to say anything.
The moment Zimmerman released Kathryn from the medical bay, she buried herself in work. There was a lot of intel to download into Ching Shih’s database, and it was a good way to pass the time. After a few hours, Zimmerman’s report on Marta came through.
No traces of Cardassian DNA. She was, without a doubt, one hundred percent Terran. The real Marta.
Yet Kathryn couldn’t bring herself to see the woman she’d just risked everything to save.
By the time her work was done, Kathryn was exhausted. But when she slid into bed, she couldn’t fall asleep. She was antsy, as if her insides might crawl out of her skin if she didn’t get up and move.
And there was only one place she wanted to go.
Usually, Kathryn didn’t visit others’ quarters. If she wanted to see someone, she’d summon them to hers. Despite this, she ended up outside Marta’s door.
“Come in,” answered that familiar voice when Kathryn requested entry.
The door slid open and Kathryn stepped inside.
Marta lounged on her couch, legs stretched over the length and one arm draped across the back. She’d been staring at the stars—a sight she likely hadn’t seen in six years.
Kathryn’s heart kicked into a gallop.
Marta smiled when Kathryn entered the room—a true smile full of warmth and joy. “I was wondering when you’d want to see me.”
Half of Kathryn’s mind begged her to run, and the other half demanded she throw herself at Marta right there. Neither impulse was dignified enough to entertain. “I wanted to make sure you were getting settled alright.”
Marta hummed, eyes dancing over Kathryn’s form. “Not exactly the welcome home I was hoping for, but I’ll take it.”
Kathryn crossed her arms. “What were you hoping for?”
“Well, for one thing,” Marta said, getting to her feet and crossing the room. “I didn’t expect you’d come to me. I was waiting for a summons to your quarters. And for another—”
She stopped in front of Kathryn, and Kathryn instinctively stepped back as if she were a threat.
Marta frowned. “Kate…”
Kathryn’s heart pounded against her ribs. Her chest was tight. Her stomach was in knots. She was nervous and ecstatic and… terrified.
“I killed you,” Kathryn murmured, nearly stumbling over the words. Tears pricked at her eyes. “The Cardie agent they planted here in your place. She looked like you, and I killed her.”
Marta nodded. “Did you kill her because you figured out who she was, or were you just tired of having me around?” There was lightness in her voice, but underneath the humor lay an honest question.
Kathryn stared into Marta’s eyes, which seemed to sparkle despite the low light. Very much alive. “I could never tire of you.”
“But you still see her when you look at me.”
“Do you want me to leave Ching Shih?”
“No,” Kathryn said, and it was the truth. She’d risked everything to get Marta back, and so had her crew.
“Then what do you want?”
Kathryn sucked in a breath and lifted her chin. “I’m sure I’ll adjust in time.”
“Can we at least get to know each other again?” Marta asked. “I’ve changed while I was in prison. Surely you’ve changed, too. Let me prove to you that I’m not the same person she was.”
Yes. Almost everything inside Kathryn wanted to say yes, but her mouth wouldn’t form the word.
“I won’t hurt you, Kate.”
“Kathryn. I don’t ever want to hear anyone call me ‘Kate’ again. So let’s start there.”
“Alright, Kathryn.” Marta gestured outward. “You saved my quarters.”
“Harry and Tom are content where they are,” Kathryn said with a shrug.
“Is that all?” Marta raised her eyebrows. “You’re not planning on demoting young Harry, are you?”
Kathryn snorted. She’d forgotten that was how she and Marta used to refer to Harry when he first came aboard. “Not so young anymore. He earned his position, and he does well at it.”
“So why not give him the quartermaster’s quarters?” The look on Marta’s face practically screamed, be honest.
All this time apart, yet Kathryn could still intuit what Marta wanted.
“It didn’t seem right to reassign them,” Kathryn said. Except that wasn’t the whole truth. “I… couldn’t bring myself to do it.”
“I appreciate that.”
Kathryn nodded, and silence settled between them for several seconds before Marta broke it.
“Do you want to tell me about the last six years, or should I start guessing what you’ve been up to?”
“I’d rather not talk about that right now,” Kathryn said.
“Alright, then I’ll go.” Marta fidgeted with the hem of her shirt—purple, her favorite color. “Well, first they put me in the engram reader. I swear, I thought I’d spend the rest of my life as a vegetable, but all it did was give me a bad headache. After that, they put me in a cell block with a handful of other prisoners. Every so often, they’d pull us for minor experiments, and a couple of the others disappeared, but mostly they left us alone.
“When Rudy showed up and told me about my double, part of me was scared she’d kill you or sell you out, but I knew you’d outsmart her eventually.” She took a half-step forward, and Kathryn didn’t shy away. “I thought about you every day. I imagined what it would be like to see you again a thousand times. And I missed you.”
Kathryn had missed her, too. Even when it seemed Kathryn had Marta back, it quickly became apparent she wasn’t the same Marta who had left. In a way, Kathryn had been grieving the loss ever since.
But Marta was standing right in front of her, alive and whole.
Kathryn studied her face—entrancing green eyes, bow-shaped lips, high cheekbones, strong jaw. Tentatively, Kathryn reached out a hand to touch her, tracing the features gently with her fingertips.
As Kathryn explored, she noticed small changes. Laugh lines were beginning to etch their way into the skin around Marta’s eyes. Her cheeks were slightly more pillowy, softening the hard angles of her face. Hints of gray had begun to streak her dark hair.
Although the differences were subtle, they were enough to begin separating the woman in front of her from the agent who had used her and betrayed her. This wasn’t Seska. This was Marta—her Marta.
The woman she loved.
As Kathryn’s fingers trailed along Marta’s lips, all she wanted to do was kiss her. The alarm inside her head screeched its warning, but the longing in her chest was unrelenting.
Lifting up slightly on the balls of her feet, Kathryn pressed her lips to Marta’s. It wasn’t much—just a peck really—but it was enough to tell her that she wanted more.
Marta coiled her arms loosely around Kathryn’s waist. “Is this alright?”
“Yes,” Kathryn whispered, and took Marta’s lips once again.
The kiss was slow and unassuming—a modest taste of the woman Kathryn had known almost her entire life and been parted from for far too long. It was gentle meeting of skin, delicate suction on lips, and tentative flicks of tongues. Marta’s thumbs stroked Kathryn’s back, but she didn’t try to cop a feel. Her lips were so soft, her mouth warm and inviting. As Kathryn slid her tongue inside, she tasted mint.
Marta had prepared for this.
“You’re shaking,” Marta whispered when Kathryn finally let go.
She was right. Kathryn hadn’t even noticed it, but it was obvious now. She willed herself to stop, tried to force some steel back into her bones and muscles, but her body was in full-on rebellion.
“Damn,” she whispered.
Marta chuckled. “You don’t have to pretend with me, Kathryn. You never have.”
Kathryn dragged her trembling hands down Marta’s chest, over the curves of her breasts, sliding beneath the hem of her shirt. She was softer around the middle than Seska had been—yet another difference to separate the women. Kathryn skimmed her palms along smooth skin, sliding up until her thumbs brushed the underside of Marta’s breasts.
Marta sucked in a breath.
Heat rushed through Kathryn’s body, and she captured Marta’s lips with hers. This time, she kissed Marta as if she was starving and Marta was a feast, drawing Marta’s lip between her teeth and licking her way inside Marta’s mouth. She spread her hands over Marta’s breasts and massaged them, hard nipples poking her palms.
“Please,” Marta breathed between kisses, her hands skating over Kathryn’s armor. “I want to touch you.”
A lump rose in Kathryn’s throat, but she swallowed it. Slowly, she unfastened her armor and shrugged out of it. She peeled her undershirt over her head and tossed it aside.
“Touch me,” she said.
Marta slid her hands up Kathryn’s stomach and over her ribs, curling them over her breasts. She pulled away for a brief moment to drag her own shirt over her head, then wrapped her arms around Kathryn and pulled Kathryn’s body against hers.
Soon their lips were meeting again, whispering six years of loneliness without saying a word. The feel of Marta’s skin against hers only made Kathryn’s blood run hotter. Kahless, she’d missed this woman.
She needed to touch her—really touch her, every single piece.
“We should move this to the bed,” Kathryn said.
“Only if you’re ready,” Marta replied.
As they stumbled across the room, they rid themselves of the last pieces of clothing. Marta laid back on the bed and Kathryn followed her without hesitation. Settling between Marta’s thighs, Kathryn rested her palm over Marta’s cunt and massaged the mons with the heel of her hand.
Marta bit her lip, not quite restraining the smile curling her lips as she stared into Kathryn’s eyes.
Kathryn never wanted to look away.
Moving her hand down, Kathryn slid a finger between the warm folds of flesh and circled Marta’s clit. Marta gasped and bucked into the touch.
With her other hand, Kathryn probed Marta’s entrance—one finger at first, then two. They slid in easily, wet as Marta was. Her pussy squeezed Kathryn’s fingers, relaxed, and squeezed again, hungry for Kathryn’s touch. Kathryn curled her fingers to stroke a soft inner wall.
Marta moaned, rolling her hips against Kathryn’s hands.
In increments, Kathryn picked up the pace of both hands. Marta’s hips moved faster in response, her moans growing louder and louder until they climaxed into a sharp, gasping cry. Her pussy spasmed, clutching and releasing and clutching again as Kathryn was rewarded with a gush of warm fluid slicking her hand.
Once the orgasm subsided, Kathryn stretched her body over Marta’s and kissed her. When Kathryn pulled away, Marta’s cheeks were flushed and she was grinning.
“You don’t know how many times I’ve dreamed of that,” Marta said.
“Why do I get the feeling you only missed me for my body?” Kathryn teased, rolling her hips against Marta’s.
The grin became a sly smile. “Because I did only miss you for your body. It certainly wasn’t memories of your winning personality that kept me up at night.”
“Fuck you,” Kathryn said, though she couldn’t help but smile back.
Marta wrapped her legs around Kathryn’s. “By all means.”
Crushing her lips on Marta’s, Kathryn thrust against Marta’s cunt as she pushed her tongue into Marta’s mouth. For a while, they kept the same pace with their kisses as they did with their hips, drinking down one another’s moans.
Eventually, the need for air won out over the need to devour one another. Resting her forehead against Marta’s, Kathryn squeezed her eyes shut and thrust harder… faster. She moaned, sensations swelling… swelling... until they reached a breaking point and crashed in wave after wave of pleasure undulating through her.
Her body spasmed, refusing to do anything but stutter against Marta as the orgasm ran its course. Before her thoughts had cleared, Marta’s fingers tangled in her hair and pulled Kathryn close for a long, deep kiss.
Suddenly all Kathryn could think about was how much she wanted to taste her.
Breaking the kiss, Kathryn bent to Marta’s chest and drew a hardened nipple into her mouth. She lingered for a moment, flicking it with her tongue and sucking gently before switching to the other breast. From there she started a trail down towards Marta’s cunt, but Marta stopped her and pulled her close again.
“Wait,” Marta panted. “I never said this before, and I’ve regretted it for six years.” She cradled Kathryn’s face in her hands. “I love you.”
The words pulled Kathryn up short. It was too soon to let herself even think about loving Marta—not after what Seska had done. Besides, it wasn’t a word she kept in her vocabulary.
Before Kathryn could decide how to respond, Marta kissed her forehead. “You don’t have to say it back. In fact, if you do say it—“ she gave a wry smile— “I might think you’re a spy.”
Kathryn captured Marta’s lips, threading her tongue between them as she thrust against her hips. Marta moaned and pulled her closer. Somehow, it still wasn’t close enough.
When they parted, Kathryn put her lips to Marta’s ear and whispered, “I can show you.”
It was a six-day trip to the Alrescha system where Ching Shih and the Vulcans would part ways. Within the relative safety of the fleet, Harry was able to put his ops and engineering staff to the task of maintenance work on the cloaking device. B’Elanna lent a much-needed hand, and Kathryn silently conceded she would be sorry to see the young woman go.
Three days out from Alrescha, B’Elanna asked to speak with Kathryn alone.
Kathryn studied the woman standing in front of her desk—arms crossed and feet planted, a veneer of cold calculation of her face. Whatever she wanted to talk about, it wasn’t something that came easily, and she was overcompensating with bravado.
“You know,” B’Elanna said, “a few days ago Tom suggested you could use me on your engineering team. To be honest, I didn’t entirely believe him, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay here anyway… given how much I hate the captain.”
The corners of Kathryn’s mouth twitched. B’Elanna was nothing if not amusing.
“But after three days of working with your engineers,” B’Elanna continued, “I think Tom was being too easy on them.”
“Too easy?” Kathryn asked, arching an eyebrow.
“They’re idiots,” B’Elanna said curtly.
Kathryn pursed her lips. “Yes, well unfortunately for them, the Alliance rather undervalued the education of Terrans. As the daughter of Miral, you had significantly better options than anyone on my crew did. Most of my mechanics were self-taught, and the engineers attended under-funded Terran universities.”
“All the more reason why you need me.”
“So you’re offering to join my crew in spite of your distaste for me.” Kathryn steepled her fingers. “How generous of you.”
“Name me Master Engineer and I’ll teach everyone on that staff how to do their jobs right the first time.” B’Elanna jutted out her chin. “Unless you’d rather they keep wasting your resources correcting their mistakes.”
Kathryn eyed B’Elanna closely. “And why would you want to abandon the resistance and your dear captain to join a pirate crew captained by someone you despise?”
“I’m not an idiot. I know you could have destroyed my mother’s ship with her on it, but you held back because I said I wanted to kill her myself. That was the only thing I wanted from the resistance, and you gave it to me.”
“I did,” Kathryn said. “But there’s more that you aren’t telling me.”
B’Elanna’s arms dropped to her sides. “There’s nothing left for me in the resistance. I hope they get their new world, but there won’t be a place for me in it. I have to make my own place somewhere else.”
It still wasn’t the whole story. “And what of your captain? He told me once that he trusted you with his life. Why turn your back on him?”
Pain flashed across B’Elanna’s face, there and gone in an instant. “We’ve had some… differences of opinion.”
Kathryn had suspected as much, but she wanted to hear it from B’Elanna. “Personal, professional, or philosophical?”
“Such as whether or not you should murder a roomful of stunned Cardies.”
“And you think being under my command will be less stifling.”
“You could say that.”
Kathryn let silence linger for a few seconds before she said, “You’re still not telling me the whole story.”
B’Elanna shook her head. “You don’t need to know it. All you need to know is that I’ll respect your command and I’ll do a damn good job on your ship.”
Setting an elbow on her desk, Kathryn rested her chin on her hand and fixed B’Elanna with a skeptical look. “I think you want more than liberty and appreciation.”
“You’re right,” B’Elanna said, setting her hands on her hips. “I want your word that you won’t ask me to take part in the monstrosities you’ve been committing for the better part of your life. Making my bitch-mother suffer was one thing, but I don’t kill simply for the pleasure of watching them die slowly, and I won’t start just for you. I’ll get the job done and move the fuck on.”
B’Elanna sucked in a sharp breath and lifted her chin. “You talk to Chakotay. He’ll never move on as long as you keep stringing him along in whatever toxic game you’re playing. So stop. Cut him loose.”
Kathryn folded her hands. “I’ve told him more than once that our association isn’t a relationship. It isn’t my fault he keeps crawling back for more.”
“No, but I’ve known you long enough to know how much you like your playthings. Chakotay isn’t a toy. He’s a good person and he deserves to be happy. Cut him loose or I walk.”
Laughter bubbled up in Kathryn’s throat and she swallowed it down. The audacity of the woman! If Kathryn didn’t know B’Elanna as she did, she’d assume that attitude was born from privilege and Klingon pride. In reality, that was simply who B’Elanna was.
Kathryn had to admit that she liked B’Elanna’s honesty, boldness, and self-confidence. She valued those traits in anyone, especially those to whom she gave authority on her ship. But, just like with Rudy, Kathryn would have to keep those qualities carefully reigned in—if she brought B’Elanna aboard.
“Very well,” Kathryn said. “I’ll consider your request.”
B’Elanna scoffed. “You’ll consider it?”
“You heard me.” Kathryn leaned forward. “On my ship, people make requests of their captain, not demands. If you want to be a part of my crew, you’d do well to remember that.”
“Fine,” B’Elanna said, releasing her arms. “When you do accept my request, put my name down in the computer as B’Elanna Torres.”
“My father’s family name. The daughter of Miral is dead, and I don’t want to be associated with her anymore.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
B’Elanna gave a sharp nod, then spun on a heel and strode from the room.
Leaning back in her chair, Kathryn shook her head and laughed. How could she possibly say yes after such a defiant and disrespectful display? But she certainly couldn’t say no, either.
In one mission, she’d gained a tactical mate, a master gunner, and now a potential master engineer. It hadn’t been her intention to recruit new crewmates—she’d come to rescue her partner regardless of what Marta chose to do after. And she’d lost more people than she gained. It was, however, a pleasant surprise. Fortuitous, as Dr. Moset would have said.
At Alrescha, the fleet paused for several hours to transfer all the guests from Ching Shih to the Vulcan ships, as the telepaths had offered to return them to the various places they called home. One of the fleet’s captains had extended an invitation for Kathryn to visit her ship and hear out a proposal. Kathryn had already agreed to share her mission intelligence with the spy network, so she wasn’t sure what else they wanted. Still, she was intrigued.
But when she and her guards stepped into the ship’s spacious meeting room, Captain Sakonna wasn’t alone.
“Captain Janeway.” Tuvok greeted her with a nod. His face was clean-shaven, making him look slightly younger—though not by much.
“We’re glad you agreed to come,” Troi added, gesturing across a long table to indicate Kathryn’s empty chair. “Please, have a seat.”
Suspicious, but not dangerous. The spy network had chosen Ching Shih to possess the cloaking device, and Kathryn had maintained a positive—albeit infrequent—relationship with the telepaths ever since.
Whatever they wanted, persuasion would be their weapon of choice. Three against one.
Sliding into her seat, Kathryn set one of the Vulcan tablets she’d stolen from Tuvok’s ship on the table and slid it towards Sakonna. “Our intelligence, as requested.”
Tuvok made an amused expression—rather, what passed for amusement in Vulcans.
“Recognize it?” Kathryn asked, giving him a coy smile.
“Indeed,” he said. “An apt metaphor for your relationship with our network.”
Kathryn folded her hands. “I thought so.”
Sakonna skimmed the tablet’s contents, her expression unreadable. After a minute, she set it down. “We are grateful for your continued willingness to share valuable information with us.”
“We have a common enemy,” Kathryn said. “It’s in my interest to tell you what I know.”
“We concur,” Sakonna said, “which is why we have asked to meet with you today. Miss Troi has informed us of your mission to liberate Marta Zelle based on intelligence acquired by one of our Terran agents, Annika Hansen. Your partial success at Rakal prison culminated in the rescue of several key individuals, including one of our most important agents from Betazed.”
Kathryn glanced at Troi, who inclined her head.
“Miss Troi has also explained the intricacies of your plan for penetrating Supreme Legate Dukat’s vessel,” Sakonna continued, “a highly successful mission that led to the death of the Cardassian ruler and prevented our forces from having to expend a great deal more resources in order to recover Miss Hansen.”
“I’m glad you approve,” Kathryn said.
“Approval has nothing to do with it,” Troi said. “As you pointed out, it’s about mutual benefit.”
“And what mutually beneficial plan have you brought me here to discuss?” Kathryn asked.
“We want you to be part of our network,” Troi said.
It was laughable. Above all else, Kathryn wanted freedom, and she wasn’t about to give it up to a bunch of telepaths. She kept her expression and tone cold when she replied, “Absolutely not.”
“I advise you not to dismiss our proposal so quickly,” Tuvok said. “It would be advantageous for you to accept.”
Kathryn leaned forward. “Your objective is to dismantle the power held by Klingons and Cardassians, correct?”
Tuvok inclined his head. “That is one objective.”
“I’m perfectly happy to see them taken down a few pegs,” Kathryn said. “Particularly the Cardies. But I have no interest in ending wars. War is good for business.”
“You know as well as I do, Captain,” Troi said, “that defeating the Klingon and Cardassian empires won’t end war. You will never lack for business. And the network is prepared to compensate you for your assistance.”
“Nothing you could offer would convince me to give up the freedom my crew and I enjoy,” Kathryn said. “We’re quite fond of being an independent entity.”
“Were you to join our network,” Sakonna said, “you would remain as such. We would merely ask for more of that which you already provide us—information that could prove vital to our efforts. There will, of course, be opportunities to carry out missions on our behalf, for which you will be generously supplied and compensated should you choose to accept them. However, these missions will be optional.”
Kathryn sat back, eyeing the three agents before her. There was no way to get a clear read on the Vulcans, of course, and Troi was just as perplexing. But Kathryn’s instincts told her their intentions were honest. And the proposal had merit.
“How exactly would I be compensated for my efforts?” she asked.
“Fuel,” Tuvok said. “Medical supplies. Mechanical components for repairs.” His eyes flicked to the tablet and back. “Technology, as necessary.”
“Alright,” Kathryn said. “As long as you keep up your end of the bargain, you can have all the intel you want.”
Almost as soon as the mission was over, Chakotay asked B’Elanna if they could talk. For days he asked, and every time her answer was the same.
He was about a decameter away from cornering her and forcing the matter when she suggested it herself one evening after dinner.
“Listen,” she said, pulling one leg up on the couch and hugging it loosely, “I, uh…” Her eyes flickered to his. “I asked Janeway to take me on as part of her crew.”
He sat back in the chair across from her. That was not what he’d expected her to say. “I don’t understand. I thought you hated her.”
She shrugged and glanced away. “Things change.”
“Not that much.”
“I still hate her,” B’Elanna said, still refusing to look at him, “and she knows it. But she needs me—even if she won’t admit it—and I want to stay.”
Chakotay ran a hand over his face. “If this is because of me—“
Her eyes snapped to his. “It’s not.” She bit her lip. “That’s not completely true. It’s not just because of you.”
He hurried to the seat beside her and took her hand, desperate to salvage what he feared he might have ruined forever. “B’Elanna, listen. I love you. Maybe not the way you love me, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work something out. Maybe in time…”
Maybe in time… what? He could magically be young again, fall for her the way he had for Sveta back before he’d become so jaded? Or string her along with the promise of something he was incapable of giving her? Maybe B’Elanna could dial back her feelings so they could be what they were before, or accept something lesser than what she deserved?
B’Elanna yanked her hand from his. “Don’t. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. I’m done waiting for something you may or may not feel. And, honestly, I’m not even sure I feel it anymore.”
He frowned. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that I’ve been absolutely fucking miserable for months. I’ve been so mad at you that I didn’t even notice my own feelings changing.”
“So you don’t love me anymore?”
She shook her head. “No, I still love you. But it’s…” She dropped her foot to the deck and gazed out at the rest of the room. “I’m not stuck anymore. I can move on.”
“Then transfer to another cell. You don’t have to work for a captain you hate just to move on.”
“No one else in the resistance will accept me.”
“They will if I tell them to.”
“No they won’t,” she snapped, eyes meeting his. “They might take me aboard, but I’ll never be one of them. And you know it.”
As much as he wished he could argue, he couldn’t. She was right. His crew had come to see her as a person, not a half-Klingon. At first it was because they followed his example, but in time it became genuine. But many others in the resistance didn’t feel the same. Some actively hated her. A few even wanted to kill her.
And he couldn’t bear the thought that she might end up hurt or miserable or dead because of him.
“There isn’t a place for me in the resistance,” she continued. “Only with you. But I can’t move on if I’m still so close to you.”
“And you’ve developed relationships here,” he said.
Loathe as he was to admit it, there was clearly more to her relationship with Kim and Paris than sex. He’d seen her spending time with Ezri Tigan, as well. Even the engineering crew had begun warming up to her over the past few days since she’d been helping them work on the cloaking device.
B’Elanna nodded. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe there’s more to Janeway than the obvious. Her crew here seems to think so. Either way, this is the best option I have right now.”
Chakotay sighed. “I understand. If this is what you have to do, and it will make you happy, then do it.”
“Well, Janeway hasn’t said yes yet.”
“She will. She’d be crazy not to.”
He took her hand. “But just so you know, you will always have a place with us. Even after the war is over. Wherever any of our crew goes, as long as we’re alive, you have a home.”
Tears filled B’Elanna’s eyes and, for the first time Chakotay had ever witnessed, spilled onto her cheeks. She quickly wiped them away. “You’ll tell them goodbye for me, won’t you? And that I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to say it myself?”
He squeezed her hand. “I’ll tell them you’ll see us later.”
Further into the evening, Chakotay was summoned to Kathryn’s quarters. There were no guards to escort him, and he hadn’t been closely supervised since Ching Shih left the nebula. He supposed that meant Kathryn’s opinion of him had improved somewhat, though neither of them had spoken to the other in days.
Part of him wanted to never speak with her again. The rest of him didn’t know what to want.
Kathryn was in her armor, and lights were brighter than they usually were when he was summoned. But the way she sat on the couch—relaxed yet poised, sultry and dangerous—was strikingly similar.
Except she nearly always sat that way.
“Have a seat,” she said, gesturing to a chair opposite her.
Was it a request or an order? As a rule, she didn’t make requests. But she also wasn’t one for inviting people to sit and chat.
When Chakotay didn’t move, Kathryn raised a brow. “Did you not hear me, or would you rather stand?”
“I haven’t decided yet,” he admitted. “Why did you call me here?”
She tilted her head slightly to one side. “I’ve wounded you more deeply than I thought.”
How else could she possibly imagine their last encounter affected him? He lifted his chin and clasped his hands behind his back. “I’m fine.”
“Of course you’re fine. You’re strong and you’re a survivor.” She gave him a half-smile. “Like me.”
There was no malice in her expression, yet the words still made his insides twist. “I’m nothing like you.”
“That’s true,” she said, blue eyes fixed on his. “You have morals.”
He thought back to the last time he’d been in Kathryn’s quarters. His stomach turned. “Not as many as I believed.”
“More than most.”
There was a trick here. There had to be. Something to motivate her strange behavior. He wished she’d just say it.
But she simply sat there waiting for him to… what?
He frowned. “What the hell is this about?”
“It’s about my mistreatment of you,” she said, getting to her feet and moving towards him. “I will not apologize for what I did to those Cardies, even if one of them was innocent. And I won’t apologize for having you removed. I did what had to be done.”
That was debatable, but Chakotay kept his mouth shut.
She stopped a couple steps away. “But the way I treated you afterward was uncalled for. In fact, the way I’ve treated you throughout this entire mission has not been fair.”
What strange dream had he fallen into? He wanted to laugh out loud. “Since when have you given a damn about being fair?”
“I care about it more than you might think.” Turning on a heel, she began to pace slowly. “The truth is that you are dangerous. I knew it that night on Vega IX, and I allowed it to take hold those three days on the Vulcan ship. But in my line of work, I can’t afford to be soft.”
The knot in his gut loosened a little. “Kathryn—”
“So when you found your way back to me, I made you into a trinket—an amusement to pass the time. It was easier than facing you as an equal, and less risky than going into this mission compromised by emotion.”
“You were already compromised by emotion,” he said gently. “For Marta.”
He half-expected her to return with a biting comment, to deflect the attention away from an area of vulnerability. Instead, she merely paused and gave a slight nod. “Perhaps. But those were emotions I could channel into something productive. The emotions I have regarding you are less useful.”
“I’m not sure how to take that.”
She turned to face him head-on. “There is no future in which we could work together long term. We see the universe in very different ways, and we want different things from it. Our association was always going to be temporary.”
Association. Such a cold way to describe what existed between them. Still, it was nice to hear her admit he hadn’t been imagining things. She did have feelings for him—feelings that developed during their previous mission. He was surprised she’d said it out loud after so vehemently and violently denying it.
A big part of him was still looking for the catch.
“I understand,” he said. “I won’t forgive what you’ve done, but I appreciate your honesty.”
She smirked. “I don’t need your forgiveness, rebel.”
Chakotay snorted. There was the Captain Janeway he knew—the mask he’d hoped to get under. Now he doubted if it was really a mask at all.
Why couldn’t brutality, harshness, caring, and vulnerability all be honest expressions of the same woman? Seeing the softer, more wounded sides of her had convinced him of her complexity, yet denying the truth of her other qualities was just another way to simplify her. It wasn’t fair for him to do that—to push her into being someone she only partly was.
Just like it wasn’t fair to ignore the drives within himself that he’d rather not acknowledge.
Kathryn stepped closer, though still keeping a respectful distance. “I said you’d know when I was done with you. This is it. I won’t go so far as to say you’re never welcome here again. In fact, you might be the only rebel I’d allow aboard my ship.”
Despite the emotions crashing and swirling inside, he managed a slight smile at her compliment.
“But from now on, any relationship we have will be strictly professional. Is that clear?”
Her words widened the hollow space in his chest—a space that had formed when B’Elanna announced she was leaving Valjean. Chakotay always knew his relationship with Kathryn was temporary, but still… it hurt to see it end.
More than he’d expected.
“Clear,” he said, then added with a smirk, “So I guess this means I was right.”
“You do care. You said that you didn’t.”
She arched an eyebrow. “Don’t push your luck, Captain.” Her tone was dangerous, but her expression was playful.
He chuckled and offered his hand, though he wasn’t sure she’d actually take it. “If you ever need anything, all you have to do is ask.”
To his pleasure, she clasped his hand and gave a single, firm shake. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Her fingers loosened and he let her go. “I’m glad you have Marta back.”
A soft smile lit her face—one he’d never seen on her before, like the smile Sveta used to get when she saw Chakotay at the end of a long workday. It was, without a doubt, the most beautiful he’d ever seen Kathryn look.
“As am I,” she said, and everything about her demeanor seemed to hum in agreement. She was in love.
If nothing else, this was one thing he’d done right.
After his talk with Kathryn, Chakotay wondered a bit aimlessly through the corridors. He had a general idea that he meant to return to his quarters, but he instead ended up in front of Annika’s.
The room where Moset and Ziyal had stayed.
He’d seen Annika once or twice since leaving the nebula. More than once, they had encountered one another in the mess hall, or passed in the corridors. She’d invited him to stop by whenever he wanted, but he hadn’t done it yet. Now was as good a time as any.
He tapped the chime and was immediately beckoned inside.
Stepping into the guest quarters was strange. None of her things were there, the room utilitarian and empty of her usual feminine decor.
She looked different, too. The translucent dresses she wore for clients were replaced with simple gray pants, a white shirt, and a cardigan sweater that was the same greenish-blue as her eyes—choices that seemed out of place on a ship crewed by people who preferred dark browns and blacks. Her face was bare of the sparse makeup she’d always worn, and her hair was messily tied back rather than tumbling down her shoulders in perfect waves.
She looked… relaxed.
“Chakotay,” she said, setting a small tablet on the coffee table in front of her and moving her feet from the couch to the deck. “I’m glad you came. Please—” she patted the cushion beside her— “sit.”
He settled on the couch. “How are you?”
Her posture was perfect, though on her it appeared effortless. “Not my usual self. I‘ve been rather unsettled after being in Dukat’s custody.”
Chakotay couldn’t help feeling this was at least partially his fault. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s a natural response,” she said calmly. “I am safe now, and I have no doubt these reactions will diminish over time.”
“I hope they do. Besides, you know your way around a disruptor.” He offered her a half-smile. “I wouldn’t want to mess with you after what you did on that bridge. I couldn’t have aimed that well with my hands bound.”
Annika’s cheeks flushed slightly as she huffed a laugh. “We all learned how to defend ourselves. The Risans couldn’t have people simply walking off with their property.”
Chakotay grabbed her hand. “You’re not property.”
She squeezed back. “Not anymore.”
Releasing her hand, Chakotay relaxed back against the couch. “So what will you do now? I’d offer you a job on my ship, but something tells me the spy network wouldn’t approve.”
Her face lit up. “I’d like to stay at one of the bases to study under their scientists. My parents are biologists, so scientific study was important in our home. I wanted to be an astronomer. Of course, the Alliance had other plans for my future.”
“You’d be good at that,” Chakotay said. “Astronomy.”
Annika arched an eyebrow, her expression playful. “Are you saying that to be kind?”
He chuckled. “No. I said it because you’re one of the smartest and most observant people I know. And because whenever you weren’t wheedling my feelings out of me, you were asking about the things I’d seen in space—all the stars and planets and nebulas.”
A gentle laugh escaped her lips. “Yes, I suppose I did. I was never allowed off planet. All I could ever do was look up.”
“I’m glad you won’t have to be stuck there anymore. I never told you this, but…” He tugged his ear. “Your questions made me see space in a completely different way. I’d never left Ganymede until—well, until I did. But at the time I wasn’t in a frame of mind to appreciate the beauty. After a while, I took it for granted. All I saw in the universe was the ugliness. But you made me want to appreciate what I had. So, thank you.”
She pulled his hand onto her lap and wove her fingers between his. “You’re welcome.”
Part of him wanted to kiss her, or expected her to kiss him. After years of her being a consistent source of physical and emotional intimacy, of taking comfort in her touch as much as her company, he’d almost come to expect it. Thinking about it now, he hated that he’d allowed himself to use her like that when it wasn’t the life she wanted.
B’Elanna had told him more than once that he was a good man, but he wasn’t. He’d used her, too, just as much as he’d used Annika. And with that thought, all desire inside him vanished.
Annika scooted closer and cupped his face. “What’s bothering you?”
He shook his head. “You don’t have to do that anymore.”
“Touch me. If you don’t want.”
“Chakotay.” Her gaze seemed to penetrate deeply into his. “I’ve never done anything with you that I didn’t want to.”
“Because you felt sorry for me?”
“Because no one can survive alone, and no one should have to try.” Her thumb traced the curve of his cheek. “Promise me something.”
He melted into her touch, muscles relaxing and head tipping into her hand. “What’s that?”
“Don’t try to get through life alone. Confide in people you trust. Touch them and let them touch you. We need those things just as much as we need to know how to shoot straight, and you’re no exception.”
Sighing, Chakotay allowed his eyes to slip closed as her words took root in his mind. “I’ll try.”
Even though he hadn’t said a word to Annika about losing B’Elanna or letting go of Kathryn, those heartaches suddenly seemed bearable. Part of him had expected to lay them at Annika’s feet, but there were members of his crew who would understand the pain better. And he could trust them. He’d just never tried before.
“Will you?” Annika asked. “Or are you saying that simply for my benefit?”
He opened his eyes and found her gaze again. “I will. I promise.”
A little over a day later, the fleet arrived at Alrescha.
Kathryn had accepted B’Elanna’s request to join Ching Shih’s crew, making his former first officer and dearest friend her master engineer. B’Elanna didn’t have many personal possessions, but when she told him to recycle everything he said he’d find somewhere to store them until he saw her again.
Because they would see each other again. He had to believe that.
B’Elanna didn’t protest. She just smiled and offered to help him pack. When it was done, he hugged her as tightly as he could. They both cried, though by the time they broke apart B’Elanna had managed to stop her tears. Chakotay pretended not to notice the redness in her eyes.
It would take time to get over leaving his best friend behind.
Annika found him shortly after, holding him close and reminding him of the promise he’d made—find emotional and physical intimacy, and make it as much of a priority as food and water and revolution. They walked together to the transporter room.
She was still smiling at him when the beam whisked her away.
He didn’t say a final goodbye to Kathryn. He didn’t even try, though he wagered he wouldn’t have been able to find her if he’d looked. Besides, their last meeting had been a gift he’d never expected to receive from her. It was a better goodbye than he could have hoped for.
Stepping onto the transporter pad, he took one last look around. How long would it be until he stood in this place again? How much would change? What if he was wrong and he never came back?
The bulkheads gave no reply, so he locked eyes with the woman behind the controls and nodded. “Energize.”
In this universe, there are endless possibilities. I have no plans to add more anytime soon, but there are wisps of future ideas. Perhaps someday I’ll create more stories to tell here. So although I make no promises to write more, I’m not going to mark the series as complete just yet.
If these stories have inspired you to think of how these other Trek characters might live in the dystopian mirror universe, write it! I’d love to see other stores and spins on characters post-DS9 MU canon.
Thank you so much for reading these stories, leaving kudos and comments, and encouraging my creativity here. It has made me so very happy to hear that this take on the mirror universe is one you find complex and exciting, even if the MU isn’t usually your favorite. I can’t put into words how much your feedback means to me.
Until next time. <3