The Secret Logs of Mistress Janeway
Full Circle: Determination
Captain's Personal Log:
For a ship with a reputation for innovative campaigns and flying by the seat of their pants, I found the crew of the Enterprise more than a little stuffy. Some might argue that by comparison, my crew had a gained a reputation for flying with no pants –- speaking figuratively as far as the general public was concerned. The actions by my crew over the past seventy-two hours would do little to change that reputation. From the moment Admiral Janeway arrived, I had to admit that the Starfleet handbook was sucked out of the nearest airlock. However, anyone would have to concede that Voyager faced a unique set of circumstances that prompted wholesale abandonment of the regs. For the majority of our entire adventure, my crew kept to Starfleet codes of conduct as well as any crew in the Alpha Quadrant. And my crew was never stuffy or judgmental or smug.
Of course, it could have been that I was out of sorts from the weight of the ordeal. Jean-Luc was unable to calm me down even after I had cried myself out in that lonely city park. The very considerate Captain thus had us beamed directly into his Ready Room where I could compose myself before the debriefing. Jean-Luc Picard was not stuffy. He was very kind and his soothing presence eventually seeped through the raw emotional pain gripping me. Somehow, I was seated with my feet up in one, empty chair. He had chilled a damp cloth for my eyes and the ache in my head. I refused the offer to see the ship’s doctor. I couldn’t face her at that moment. We would be spending a lot of time together soon enough.
“Would you like some tea?” He murmured in my ear before placing a chaste kiss to my temple.
I smiled at the kiss and the thought of the benefits in having so benign a beverage in my current state without removing the cool cloth. “Tea and such gentle affections will not begin to meet my needs.”
“I don’t think there is time for much more than a cup of tea,” he replied. There was a hint of amusement in his voice. “How about a glass of the family reserve?”
“That will do nicely,” I said.
I listened to him uncork the bottle and then pour a glass.
“I assume that you don’t want to wait for me to decant,” he said dryly.
I removed the cloth and sat up properly to glare at him. “You will find that protocol abandoned Enterprise the moment I arrived.”
“Are you certain that that you do not want to see the Doctor?” Picard asked. “I will be held responsible if my attempt to heal your headache with wine goes awry.”
“I believe I will take my chances,” I said wryly taking a sip while inhaling. “Hmmm, this is exquisite. I don’t know how I survived on replicator wine all those years.”
“You are a woman of great discipline,” Picard said quietly. There was admiration in his eyes.
“I am single-minded,” I replied looking at him levelly. “And in this matter, I don’t plan on failing. You can back out now. There are places I can go after the debriefing to pick up a ship and a crew.”
“Really?” He replied with a rise of his brows. “How can you have such resources upon just arriving.”
I shrugged. “The Club provides me with a great deal more than a source of income.”
“Well, be that as it may, I am here to do what needs to be done,” he replied.
“What about your crew?”
“I cannot speak for them,” Picard replied honestly. “I plan to put the matter to them at the de-briefing. Those that are uncomfortable with my course of action can help man the saucer section and take it to the nearest Federation space station.”
“What about your career, Jean-Luc?” I asked. “You could lose everything. You could lose Enterprise.”
He mulled that over while gazing at me. The directness of his gaze did not waiver. “If Starfleet has something to do with the acts against your crew, I’m not sure that I want to remain in their service. We are on a rescue mission. I plan on seeing it through.”
I sighed in relief. What I said had been true. There were resources available. Felix had put some plans in motion. I would have found a way to make it work with another vessel. But I would have preferred to use those contacts as a red herring. There was nothing like the Flagship’s firepower to make my determination clear. I was very grateful to have it. My attention returned to the lovely wine I was sipping. Jean-Luc and I chatted amicably about nothing in particular until I finished my glass.
With a deep breath and a roll of my shoulders, I felt better. Fatigue still gnawed at me. I knew that I desperately needed to rest, but it could wait a little while longer. Picard sensed the change in my mood. With a small nod, he pushed a button on his desk.
“This is the Captain. Senior staff, report to the Briefing Room,” he said then looked at me. “Shall we?”
“Let’s,” I said with a real smile. “Jean-Luc, please forgive me in advance. I believe I will have quite an impact on your crew. I don’t believe it will be a favorable one from their point of view.”
Picard seemed unconcerned. “They have a good deal of mettle. I believe it will be a matter of honor for them to rise to their level best.”
“Then, lead on.”
As I suspected, the crew of the Enterprise were stuffy and judgmental overall. Everyone in that room was watching me as something other than a Captain with crew in distress. All saw some version of me gleaned from who knew what. And they came to their decision based on their own perceptions. I supposed I hadn’t helped matters with my attire and accoutrements. The Kathryn Janeway before them was not a cool and efficient Starfleet Captain in a smart uniform. I was nearly in full out Dominatrix regalia carrying a riding crop. I made sure to check a mirror before leaving Picard’s Ready Room. I had regained my composure and likely seemed dangerous. The riding crop was of particular interest to the assembled. They watched it so closely, it could have hypnotized them. No, I couldn’t blame them for some of their responses. But only for some of them. They were supposed to be a well-seasoned crew accustomed to first contacts. I didn’t understand how I could rattle them so easily. Maybe they feared for their Captain’s virtue. I hoped that wasn’t the case for his sake.
I expected a high degree of disapproval from Mr. Worf. But that wasn’t just because I may have upended his sensibilities. I could tell by the level of appraisal that Jadzia likely shared some fond memories of hers and Curson’s. The Chief Engineer, LaForge, was singular in his level of inexplicable disapproval. He was even more affronted than Dr. Crusher. I wondered what he had been reading about me. I was annoyed that I wouldn’t have the chance to counter whatever notions he had and hoped that his expertise was worth the insult. Beverly Crusher was lovely and desperately insecure. She watched as we entered the room with a near painful intensity. I sighed. She would require a great deal of patience on my part. Her skills were necessary in the event Seven or Icheb had been injured.
Deanna Troi and I had come to an understanding during our earlier encounter, yet I was still met with a great deal of concern from her. I still didn’t get the rigidity in her posture as our gazes met. She was part Betazoid, for Pete’s sake. She should have been dripping wet at the thought of such a hedonist as myself. Then, there was dear Will Riker. I realized that he might have had something to do with Troi’s discomfort. She needn’t have worried. He was still smirking after all these years. Undoubtedly, he was still just as bad in bed as he was in the Academy. I hoped I wouldn’t have to hurt his feelings. Data was a surprise to me. I didn’t expect to have any reaction to him. But I found that I liked him. I certainly was grateful for his mind and his thoroughness.
“I did not think it likely, but I did check for Starfleet Intelligence vessels or authorization for vessels in the area where the abduction occurred. There was none,” he began. “By reexamining transporter logs, I have determined that they were likely beamed to an Andorian bulk freighter named the Phosphate Conqueror, currently on course for Kolona.”
“Great,” Riker offered. “We head for Kolona.”
Data turned his head in a strange gesture of caution. “I believe that would be unwise. Until Voyager’s return, there was no expectation that she would be in the Alpha Quadrant for many more years. Even if those responsible are members of Starfleet, they would have had no longer to prepare for the abduction than the rest of the Fleet. Kolona is essentially a barren rock, with no facilities for such any examination. Furthermore, since Kolona is the Federation’s primary source of alluvium phosdex, it is considered a strategic resource, and much too valuable to risk attracting Borg attention.”
LaForge was quietly annoyed. “Okay. So where do we look?”
“Any examination would require personnel with rather unique combinations of scientific knowledge and unrestricted ambition. 4628 researchers meet these qualifications. Of these, 37 have announced sudden changes in their schedules. By tracing their movements I have determined two probable destinations, Federation Research Station Andalusia and the planet Alpha Omega 12.”
“Should we flip a coin?” Alright, I was getting edgy.
“While I cannot deduce the abductees’ destination with absolute certainty, I believe I can produce results with better probability than random chance. While Andalusia has excellent facilities for biomedical research, it is also well known for its work, and therefore the most likely location to be suspected. Although Alpha Omega has not been used for major research in many years, it does have adequate facilities. Additionally, Alpha Omega is uninhabited, and its high levels of radiation provide a barrier against transporters as well as possibly interfering with possible communications with the Collective.”
Well. None of us could really argue with that. It was all chillingly efficient. The depth of this conspiracy began sinking in on the others. Troi asked first.
“I’m astonished that Starfleet could be behind such an undertaking.”
Data concurred. “While it is true that the scope and intimacy points to Starfleet as the most likely suspect, I am also reticent to accept that they could commit such an act, or at the very least, to do so covertly. This in turn supports the notion of rogue elements within Starfleet and Starfleet Intelligence, although they seem too highly organized to not be sanctioned.”
My turn for expertise. “Not if they were Section 31,” I replied.
“Section 31?” Riker asked. “Never heard of it.”
“I have,” Mr. Worf rumbled surprising everyone. “They conducted several operations on Deep Space Nine. Section 31 is a highly classified section of Starfleet Intelligence. They are charged with conducting investigations and operations that Starfleet does not want publicly attributed to them. They are ruthless and answer to no one.”
The Klingon did not have a good impression of the organization. He met my gaze with more understanding than he had before.
“They routinely infiltrate the Club whenever its thought to be a security risk,” I added.
“They frighten even you?” Picard asked with concern.
I gave him a rueful smile. “Let’s just say I have a healthy respect for their abilities. But they also have a healthy respect for mine. That's why the Club remains as it is. I am even more concerned about my people. Section 31 answers to virtually no one. This will take more than finesse.”
“That brings me to a very important question,” Jean-Luc said. “Even if we succeed in this rescue, the cost for each of you personally and professionally could be substantial. Should any of you deem it too high, I will not think less of you for opting out of this mission.”
“Before you answer,” I added. “I have to warn you in no uncertain terms, that I’m going to be playing very rough.”
The crew looked at each other for a moment.
“I am very interested to see your tactics, Captain,” Data said. “No matter what occurs, your ship’s survival in the Delta Quadrant will be studied for a long time to come. I think it best to see your command first hand.”
“I agree,” Riker said.
“We can’t leave your crew to be tortured,” Crusher said.
There was a murmur of agreement. Jean-Luc winked at me. I almost relaxed.
“Thank you, all of you,” I gave with all the control I could muster. “Let’s set course for Andalusia.”
“I thought we determined that they’d be on Alpha Omega?” Riker asked.
“Yes we did. But we also have to shake our tail, and if they’ve gone through all this trouble to make us pick Andalusia, I don’t think we should disappoint, do you?”
From there the briefing went well. We developed a plan of action that was unexpected and daring. It also left room for brutality if that were necessary. I was satisfied and I was finally feeling the fatigue.
“I think Captain Janeway should get some rest,” Crusher said quietly. “Actually, I think I should give you a quick check-up. I know you’ll say it isn’t necessary. That seems to be a Captain’s prerogative. But you will need to be your best.”
She managed to be warm and concerned. I nodded. “I will, but only if we can discuss how to care for Seven and Icheb.”
“Very well,” she said.
“Before you leave, Captain, may I ask a question?” Data asked.
“Is the riding crop merely an affect or does it have some use in your practices?”
Everyone was horrified. I chuckled with genuine delight.
“I carry this one because it is too dangerous to leave unattended. Q altered it for his own corporal punishment,” I said. “It can crack a bulkhead.”
“You punished Q?” Riker asked incredulously.
“Only after he earned the privilege,” I replied dryly.
“Do you expect Q to be involved in this?” Troi asked.
“I never expect Q, but he’s been behaving since his son was on Voyager.”
“His son?” Picard exclaimed.
“She can tell that story another time,” Crusher insisted. “Let’s go, Captain.”
I looked at Picard. “If you all will excuse me.”
“We’ll finish here and I’ll brief you after you’ve had some rest,” Picard said.
Crusher’s staff was brilliant and efficient. They had already figured out a way to modify the regeneration chamber used for Locutus to help with Seven. Icheb was largely humanoid. Hopefully, he would just need monitored rest. They did not take very long to ease my mind. Afterward, I obediently hopped up onto an exam table.
“You are in remarkably good shape,” Crusher said after the exam. “Your serotonin levels are quite high despite the stress.”
I laughed. “You should meet the woman who trained me.”
Crusher smiled that smile of a person who really didn’t know what I was talking about and was afraid to find out. She had been watching me surreptitiously since we met, but had never really looked me in the eyes.
“I have no intention of taking him away, Dr. Crusher,” I said. “I am in a committed, complicated relationship.”
That got her to look at me. She blushed deeply. “I didn’t really think he would go. But I don’t think that will stop him from making a fool of himself over you.”
“Captain Picard is far too reserved for overt foolishness,” I replied gently. “And he wouldn’t want to embarrass you.”
“No, I suppose not.”
“He may come to me though,” I said. “There seems to be some unfinished business.”
“You won’t turn him away?” She asked.
“My relationships allow for some give. And my oath keeps me from turning from temptations,” I said dryly.
“And what am I to do about it?” She muttered
“Be enigmatic, my dear Doctor. He’ll wonder why you aren’t fuming,” I replied. “And you could learn some very useful techniques.”
Her brows rose at that. “I don’t see it as that simple. I don’t think Jean-Luc does either.”
“You worry needlessly, I assure you. Besides, I think I’ll be too busy endangering the crew to really cause a problem,” I said with a yawn.
On that note, I was shown to my quarters. They were comfortable enough. My travel case was on the bed. I immediately felt hollow. There was no tub to sink into and forget my troubles. The bed looked cold though the room was quite temperate. I didn’t know if I could sleep there.
Then, the door chimed. I steeled myself for more data about the mission or questions about my lifestyle. But it was Jean-Luc who walked in at my summons. He was carrying a travel bag of his own and what remained of the bottle of wine. I looked at the bag then looked at him.
“It’s an extra uniform and some night clothes,” he said. “I didn’t think you could sleep alone.”
“I should turn you away,” I said.
I shook my head. “I don’t allow night clothes.”
Jean-Luc smiled as he walked across the room. The bag contained wine glasses. He poured us both a glass. I discreetly left the room to change into my silk robe. Upon returning, I found the Captain in my bed apparently naked under a sheet.
“You said you didn’t allow bed clothing,” he said offering me a glass.
“Oh, dear. Your crew will be scandalized,” I said while slipping under the covers with glass in hand.
Picard sipped his wine ruefully. “They were a bit closed minded. That surprised me.”
“Perhaps if I were an anomalous entity it would be easier,” I suggested. “Or you had been possessed by some non-corporeal being.”
He chuckled at that. “You are very astute, Kathryn. I don’t doubt that someone on board is doing scans just to make sure. Heaven forbid I should simply lust after a colleague.”
I reached over to gently stroke Jean-Luc’s strong jaw. I could feel his warmth and strength radiating from him. He succeeded in soothing me. But I was not stirred. Not yet.
“I just want to help you sleep, Kathryn,” Jean-Luc said softly.
“You are very kind, sir,” I whispered.
“Just grateful, Kathryn. You always saw me as a man before anything else,” he explained. “Sometimes, I need to be something other than an icon.”
We finished our wine and I let him pull me into his arms. I also let him be a man and pull off my robe before settling down. His strength and warmth seeped into body. He did not have Chakotay’s weight, but he felt good against me. Yet I was still restless. Sleep eluded me as my mind would not rest.
And Jean-Luc was extremely perceptive. He turned me onto my back and without preamble kissed my open mouth. It wasn’t a chaste kiss. It was all heat and hunger and everything I needed. The Captain was a clever man. He gave me no time to think. The kiss hadn’t ended yet he was pushing into me. I grunted at the intrusion as I was unprepared but his moan and his heat and hardness soon had me slick and ready. My legs wrapped around his thighs of their own volition and I found myself moving with him. I let go of thought and allowed my body to seek relief. When it came, it shuddering waves, I was finally spent. Sleep was upon me before he pulled out.
I slept deeply, but was aware of some things going on around me. I heard Picard’s deep voice rumbling against my ear once in a while. The details of his conversation were unclear. I knew he was talking to his crew. There was no urgency in his tone. His body remained relaxed beneath mine, so I didn’t rouse completely. I was exhausted. My limbs felt like lead, as did my eyelids. Thus, I drifted in and out of very deep sleep.
It was a change in the momentum of the ship that woke me. Enterprise had slowed. I struggled to wake. I pulled up onto my elbows to look at him.
“We are nearing Andalusia,” Picard said. His arms wrapped tighter around me. “Data and Geordi have come up with a plan to get rid of our shadows and reach our target quickly, but they need your input.”
“Why didn’t you wake me sooner?” My voice had a slight edge to it.
“There was no need. And you needed to rest,” he said. He traced my eyebrow with one elegant finger. “You are still fatigued.”
Gods, he looked yummy all gentlemanly and concerned. “I just need a little something to wake me up. Unfortunately, all I have time for is coffee.”
He smiled then kissed me gently. “Coffee will have to do for now.”
I met LaForge and Data with Picard in Engineering. I was dressed in leather pants and boots with a black silk shirt this time. Though I still carried the riding crop, I thought I looked less imposing. It seemed my attire made LaForge more nervous. They kept staring at the Captain as if they expected some profound change in him. Had the situation not been so dire, I would have licked Picard on his neck just to make him squeal.
“Report,” Picard said firmly.
“We’ve gone over all possible angles for getting from Andalusia to Alpha Omega and can’t find anything that won’t telegraph our course to Section 31,” LaForge said.
“But we found a solution in the reports Voyager sent from the Alpha Quadrant,” Data continued. “We believe that using a slip stream would solve this dilemma. We would reach Alpha Omega quickly and be off scanners until we came out.”
“If you read the account, you know how dangerous slip stream can be,” I said.
“This would be a limited, tightly controlled application over a far shorter distance than Voyager attempted,” La Forge said. “We need you to review the calculations.”
I stepped toward the indicated displays. Kim, Seven and I had done those calculations so often; I would recognize them in my sleep. The memory that the simple, cold numeric calculations evoked nearly overwhelmed me. Somehow, I found my focus.
“They look right,” I said. “They always looked right.”
“We’re certain that your experience will help us recognize any pitfalls,” Picard said quietly. “This does appear to be the best solution.”
“It certainly is unexpected,” I said. This was a good plan. We would have light years on any pursuers. I had to get past my fear. “Very well, Captain.”
“Make it so,” he said to the pair.
“Yes, Captain,” They replied.
“Feed the telemetry to the Bridge. If Mr. Data will join me there, he can help make any adjustments,” I said.
“Yes, Captain,” Data said.
With the plan in place, I left Picard to his morning routine. I found Ten Forward to have some breakfast. The size of the room was startling after years in Voyager’s Mess Hall. The number of people in the room nearly matched the compliment of my entire crew. Fortunately, such large numbers meant that only a few eyes were on me as I sat down with my tray. But I was not to be alone.
“May I join you?” Came the soft request.
There was Counselor Troi with tray in hand and a concerned look on her face. I indicated the chair across from mine.
“Good morning, Counselor,” I said. “What can I do for you?”
“I was going to ask the same of you,” she replied. “Your reception from the command staff must have been difficult considering the situation.”
“I’ve met smaller minds. And it hardly matters so long as they help me get my people back safely,” I replied. “But I appreciate your concern.”
“Forgive me, Captain, but I know how stressed you are, and I know the doubts their attitudes caused,” she said. “I want to assure you that they are all working very hard on your behalf.”
“They are working very hard on their Captain’s behalf,” I corrected. “I’m not offended by that, truly. I even understand why most of them react as they do. There is one who does confuse me.”
I laughed. “I understand him very well. I think Jadzia Dax may have been a little chatty about my history.”
Troi finally smiled. “I have no idea what transpired between you and Dax, but poor Ezri cannot mention you without turning terribly red.”
“Poor girl. That she ended up with Curson is beyond comprehension,” I chuckled. “No, it’s Mister LaForge who puzzles me.”
“Ah,” she nodded then lowered her voice to nearly a whisper. “Well, Geordi has had problems with forming relationships. He thinks women play games with him and he sees your lifestyle as a very cruel game.”
“Why doesn’t he try men? He might fare better,” I wondered.
“I’m certain that has never occurred to him,” she replied in surprise. “As for his work, it will be absolutely first rate.”
“His pride would allow nothing less,” I said. “Really, Counselor, I’m fine with the command staff. And I am holding up very well. Let’s talk about life on Earth for a while.”
To my relief, she did. We had a great conversation that spared me from talking about my history with Will Riker. She actually relaxed and smiled for a while. Deanna Troi was a beautiful woman. Somewhere in all that propriety I sensed that she was her mother’s child. I wondered why she hid it. Whatever she was repressing must have been really powerful. But during our time together, she was warm and amusing. Deviltry twinkled in her dark eyes. She seemed to enjoy Riker’s curious and concerned face as we entered the Bridge together. He raised a brow in entreaty of an explanation, but she merely gave him a Cheshire smile. The woman had potential. If time permitted, I owed it to her mother to unleash at least a little of it.
Data was already at the tactical station. His strange amber eyes were riveted on the screen. From the readings I could tell the ship was ready to initiate slip stream. Picard entered the Bridge from his Ready Room a moment later. He gave me a quick appraising glance before addressing Data.
“We are ready to attempt the maneuver,” he replied.
“Captain Janeway?” Picard inquired.
“Keep an eye out for phase variance,” I said. “It can happen suddenly and cause the ship to be thrown from the stream.”
“Yes, Captain,” Data said.
“Proceed,” Picard said.
I took a deep breath as I felt the ship respond and move into the stream. Geordi and Data droned changes in readings to each other while I prayed. It was nearly instantaneous compared to Voyager’s attempt. The chronometer said three minutes had passed. When we came out of stream, the space in front of us was completely different.
“Navigation, report,” Picard said.
“We are two light years from Alpha Omega,” came the reply.
“I’m reading a vessel orbiting the planet,” Data said. “Defiant class, USS Britannia.”
“Begin elliptical approach,” Picard said. “Keep Alpha Omega between Enterprise and the Britannia.”
“Yes, Captain,” the Navigator replied.
I didn’t like that in the least. It would take time to reach orbit that way. But there was no help for it. I could only hoped that no harm would come to them in waiting. The Bridge crew made efficient use of the time by conducting long range scans of the planet. Every pass brought more data. A long time ago, Alpha Omega 12 had been inhabited, until a horrific and massive nuclear war devastated the planet. In one of the most cold-blooded applications of the Prime Directive, the Federation set up a scientific facility to monitor the long-term effects of nuclear war on the survivors, their society and their ecosystem. An eventual outcry led to the Alpha Omegans being moved, in their entirety to a new, and radiation free world to begin again. The outpost remained, continuing to gather data from within its armored and radiation proof dome. Transporters would be useless. The inhospitable atmosphere made shuttles the only option. I was on the edge of despair. That meant more of a delay in getting Seven and Icheb to medical care.
“It seems the facility was designed to prevent break out,” Data observed. “There are few impediments against breaking in.”
“They didn’t expect me to respond this quickly,” I replied ruefully. “Fortune favors the bold.”
“Let’s hope it continues,” Picard murmured. “When do we reach optimum range?”
“The next pass will be close enough for the shuttle,” Data replied.
“Captain, we have to choose an away team,” Picard said. He looked at me intently.
I smiled at me. “You are doing enough, Captain. Besides, I may need your diplomacy up here in the event of visitors.”
“I could be of some use in an away team,” Data offered.
“Thank you, your strength would be useful, but I need your agile mind here,” I replied turning to Worf. “Mr. Worf, how would your like to exorcise some frustration at Section 31?”
His face brightened. “I would, Captain,”
“Perfect. Would you assemble with three or four large men with a flare for destruction and some big guns in the shuttle bay?”
I turned to Picard. “We may need the best and fastest exit strategy.”
“Understood,” he replied. “Try to get their examination protocols from their computers. We’ll need the evidence later.”
“For the court martial?” I smiled.
“Hopefully not,” he replied ruefully. “Good fortune, Captain.”
“Thank you all,” I said.
The men Worf selected for the Away Team were indeed mighty. The biggest ships always seemed to get the biggest boys. We took a runabout and continued on the spiral course towards Alpha Omega. Aside from having more firepower than I remembered, Starfleet had replaced the standard runabout jacuzzi with a study. The Dominion War had indeed required some harsh changes.
I was inspecting the emergency claret in the sideboard when Worf entered and closed the door. He just stood there, unable to speak yet unable to leave.
“Yes?” I asked.
The Klingon clearly wanted to say something, but seemed unwilling to confront a superior officer. What would a Klingon captain do?
“Out with it, Mister.”
“Did you fuck my wife?”
“Did you fuck my wife?”
All was now clear. At least for me.
“Did you fuck my wife? Did you fuck my wife?”
“She wasn’t your wife then.”
“That doesn’t matter. I say again, did you fuck my wife?”
“Yes! She wasn’t your wife and I fucked her, okay?”
He grumbled something incoherent. Worf might have been big and strong but he was going to have to get over himself.
“Jadzia could come for hours and Curson probably had a bigger dick than you. Now you can either be jealous or you can jack off, but all of it will have to wait until after we finish this mission. If you can’t cope, if you can’t follow my orders to the letter, I need to know now while we still have time to turn around.”
“I understood, Captain.”
That must have taken a lot for him. “Good. Now get out.”
I waited a few minutes then went back to the flight deck to examine finish working out our plan of assault. By now we were able to examine the layout of the base and start working out the most likely places Seven and Icheb would be kept. The problem was that at some point the Britannia would spot us on the surface. As we began our final descent through the atmosphere, Jean-Luc took care of the problem by charging headlong towards the Britannia. He did out gun them, barely, but it was unexpectedly aggressive.
We could not stay to see what happened. In an instant we were at the base, each of us wearing full combat environmental suits. One crack of the riding crop had us through the airlock hatch.
Data’s basic assessment was correct. Security was geared towards keeping Seven and Icheb in, not us out. It was quick going. Worf believed in taking the bull by the horns, so we assaulted the main security control center first. Aside from allowing us to disable all the primary systems at once, we were also able to track everyone inside the complex. We found Icheb still in his chamber. Seven’s was empty. She was already in a lab.
“Mr. Worf, start downloading the facility’s database.” He seemed uncomfortable leaving the fighting up to me, but I was already out the door. I took his biggest guard with me. Fortunately for the staff, few of them chose to stand in my way. With a single stroke of the riding crop, the armored lab door shot across the room. Showing remarkable duress under fire, one of the scientists had grabbed Seven and was holding her hostage with a scalpel. I carefully lowered the riding crop to the floor and backed out of the room. Once in the corridor I borrowed a stun grenade and rolled it into the lab.
Afterwards, I gave Seven a cursory examination. She was unconscious, but seemed fine otherwise. The guard carefully gathered her up and we headed back to the runabout. Icheb had already been loaded on board, still in his chamber. Worf returned with all of the base’s logs and files. I’d have loved to tear the place apart piece by piece, but we didn’t really have the time. I had Seven and Icheb, and that was what mattered.
As we headed into orbit we found the Britannia adrift, with both ships apparently suffering only minor damage. The instant we were on board I felt Enterprise go to warp.
Dr. Crusher met us in the shuttle bay, and after ascertaining that neither of them had suffered any real injury, oversaw the transfer of Seven and Icheb to Sickbay. As I started after her, Picard arrived.
“Are they alright?” He asked.
“They’ll be fine,” I replied. “Thank you very much, Captain. How did you get past the Britannia?”
“Quite simple, actually. We closed to point blank range then released an electrical discharge into their shields. They collapsed and Geordi beamed their warp core into space along with their torpedo racks and phase coils.”
“As ingenious as ever, Jean-Luc. Unfortunately, I don’t think that will work on the task force they send after us.”
“Let me worry about that Kathryn. You should check on your people.”
We parted and I hurried to Sickbay.
Icheb woke first. He was woozy and confused but not alarmed. The boy blinked owlishly at me while his eyes darted around the room.
“Are we on Enterprise?” he asked.
Dr. Crusher was surprised. “How did you know that?”
“Icheb has studied Starfleet’s famous vessels,” I said.
Icheb was staring at Seven with growing concern. “What happened to Seven?”
I stroked his hair and tried to look convey reassurance I wasn’t feeling. “She will be fine. Won’t she, Doctor?”
“Her vitals are stable. I’ll bring her around in a little while,” Crusher replied.
“Do you remember what happened to you?” I asked gently.
Icheb frowned then shook his head. “We beamed down to Earth… then we were in another transporter beam… then… nothing.”
“You were likely sedated upon re-materializing,” I said. “They didn’t want to risk tangling with two Borg.”
“Who did this?” Icheb asked. “Where are they?”
“Gone,” I replied. “We’re on our way back to Voyager. No one will harm you again.”
My voice was soothing, but Crusher heard the steel in my voice. She turned back to the child. “Do you want to rest?”
“Am I functioning normally, Doctor?” He asked.
“Yes, Icheb. You’re fine,” she said with a smile.
“And Seven will wake soon?”
“Yes, I promise,” Crusher said.
“Then, may I see Enterprise, Captain?” Icheb asked tentatively.
I smiled. He was fine. “Yes, you may. Doctor, will you ask Mr. Data to give Icheb a tour?”
“An excellent idea,” she said with a smile.
Moments later, a visibly excited Icheb was on his way to the Bridge with Data. Since the boy had the highly ordered mind of a Borg, he immediately took to Data and Data to him. I was relieved from reassuring a traumatized young man to focus on Seven.
“Now, Doctor,” I said. “Can you bring her around?”
“Yes, it’s simply a matter of counteracting the sedative,” Crusher replied. “She hasn’t been physically harmed.”
“Wake her, please,” I asked. I needed to hear from her that she was unharmed.
Doctor Crusher sensed that was my concern. Without further comment, she produced a hypo-spray then applied it to Seven’s neck. I was at her side when her eyelids snapped open and she nearly bolted from the bio-bed.
“No!” Seven shouted. I wrapped my arms around her and held her tightly. “Kathryn?”
“I’m here,” I murmured against her temple. “You and Icheb are safe on Enterprise.”
She melted against me trembling violently. “Who were they? What did they want? They didn’t even let me speak.”
“Shhh…” I said softly. To quiet Seven’s trembling, I rubbed her back and rocked her gently. “We can talk about that later. Right now, you need to rest.”
“No, Kathryn. I cannot sleep and I do not want another sedative,” Seven replied. Her voice was calmer. She had almost stopped trembling. “I would like to stay awake until I can sleep on my own. I want to know what happened.”
I pulled away from Seven to look at Dr. Crusher. She looked as flummoxed as I felt.
“I don’t have any medical reason for keeping you, but you have been through an ordeal and you have more Borg implants than Icheb,” Crusher said. “I would feel better if you were under observation a little while longer.”
“I have been very cooperative with Voyager’s Doctor when required to report my physical condition,” Seven said in a voice more like her own. She looked at me for confirmation.
“That is true,” I admitted.
Crusher sighed. “Alright. But if you feel the least bit strange, I insist you return to Sickbay.”
“Yes, Doctor,” Seven replied resolutely.
Seven sighed looking up at me with deep affection and gratitude. I didn’t feel I deserved it. I should have never allowed any of my crew to be taken. There was no room for guilt. My lovely Borg was not going to allow it. She tilted her head back and parted her lips. Clever girl. She new I needed to taste that amazing mouth as much as she needed my kiss. My hands sunk into her hair as my tongue gently explored her mouth. I swallowed a throaty moan from her then broke the kiss before we scandalized the entire Sickbay. Dr. Crusher did her best to pretend to finish some paperwork. For a moment we rested our foreheads against one another.
“Let’s get some soup,” I said.
Ten Forward was interesting in the wake of Alpha Omega. There were certainly more eyes on me than the first time. But that may have been Seven. Her traveling dress and heels were an eyeful. Even in the muted forest green, it couldn’t hide that lush figure. Riker nearly landed on the floor face down in his tray watching her cross the room. Seven didn’t notice. She barely took note of her surroundings. Her nervousness mirrored mine before we retrieved her. Explanations would help Seven’s focus. After we ordered, I set about giving her them.
First, I told her about Chakotay and the rest of the Maquis. She was alarmed at first, but grew calmer as I told her of my efforts and Voyager’s plans.
“Someone will erroneously supply Chakotay with an eraser or an adhesive medical strip and he will effect an escape,” she said confidently. “Tom and Harry will get Voyager safely away.”
“I agree. Unfortunately, we cannot contact them to let them know we’re safe,” I said.
“Chakotay has absolute confidence in you, Kathryn,” she said softly. “As do I.”
“I was very foolish, Seven. Section 31 is well known to me. As much as we knew about Starfleet’s entanglements with the Borg, I should have known they would be interested in you and Icheb,” I muttered. “I certainly should have never trusted the Admiralty where the Maquis are concerned.”
“You cannot anticipate everything,” she replied. “You taught me that. But no one is more skilled at rescuing a dire situation. You will find a way for us to return home safely.”
“You wish to return to Earth still?”
“Yes. Icheb wishes to join Starfleet. I know that you and Chakotay no longer desire to roam,” Seven said simply. “I want to be where you all are.”
Seven’s eyes were clear and calm. The nervousness had abated. I smiled at her. We began to eat our meal in a relaxed silence.
“Chicken soup, Kathryn?” Jean-Luc asked as he approached.
“It cures all,” I smiled. “Join us. Captain Picard, this is Seven of Nine.”
The Captain smiled at my beautiful Borg. She was gaping at him like a wide-eye schoolgirl. Oh dear. I'd forgotten about that Locutus thing. A gentle kick under the table brought her back to the present.
“Greetings, Captain Picard,” she managed in a soft, breathy voice.
“I’m very pleased to meet you,” he replied. I knew Seven was wetter than a Florida bog.
“Any reaction to the fireworks?” I asked.
Picard sat across from us handing me a padd. “We have many shadows, but none will draw nearer than the edges of sensor range. What was in the message you sent to Starfleet Intelligence?”
“I told them a record of this entire mission and the data from Alpha Omega were sent to the Club,” I replied. “If our progress is impeded in any fashion, I will make what happened to the Admiralty look like a tea party.”
Picard chuckled then. His gaze held great admiration. “Well played, Kathryn.”
“We shall see, won’t we?” I replied. “I cannot underestimate their capacity for stupidity, even at their own peril. How much time until we reach our destination?”
“Thirty six hours,” he replied. “Time enough for even young Icheb to get his fill of Enterprise.”
“Among others,” I said with a quick eye at Seven.
Picard blinked at us a few dozen times. “Well, I’ll let you get back to your meal.”
Seven watched him leave with lust and longing in those large blue eyes. She gaped at me in near desperation.
“Kathryn!” She whined.
“Shhhh. Eat your soup. The dear Captain can run, but he can’t hide,” I said. “You will have your chance at hero worship. First, we must settle Icheb.”
She took at deep breath nodding her head. “Of course. Forgive me.”
“No need. I’m pleased your appetite has returned.”
Icheb and Data were in Engineering with LaForge when we found them. It was our young man who was doing all the talking upon our entrance. He was giving chapter and verse on one of the many modifications Torres made while the ship was in high warp and under heavy fire. Both crewmen were suitably impressed.
“Icheb!” Seven exclaimed with a bright smile.
“Seven,” he smiled moving to embrace her.
“Thank you, gentlemen,” I said. “I hope he hasn’t taken too much of your time with his tales.”
“Not at all,” LaForge said. “I’m hoping he will share some schematics with me before we part company. Voyager’s experiences could be of great value.”
“Ask anything,” I said. “Seven is almost her own library. Mr. Kim and Mr. Paris on Deep Space Nine would be happy to share their knowledge.”
“Thank you, Captain.” LaForge said. The broom had been removed from his nether region.
“No, thank you both for helping me rescue my people. We owe you a drink at Quark’s,” I smiled. “But for now, Mister Icheb needs food and rest.”
“May I walk you back to your quarters?” Data asked.
“Certainly,” I said.
Icheb and I paired off while Data fell in alongside Seven. I listened to the young man prattle with excitement over what he had learned in the last few hours. Meanwhile, I heard some very interesting snippets behind me.
“…you belong to Captain Janeway and to the Commander…”
“…this service is purely of a carnal nature…”
“….there can be pleasure even with pain…”
“How much did that boy ramble about?” I wondered. “And why is an android so interested?”
That had to wait – at least for me. My interest was in a living, breathing being. I had to return Picard’s kindness and perhaps save his relationship with Crusher. Hell, who was I kidding? I had thirty-six hours before we faced Armageddon. My blood had been stirred and my hunger as well. It would be sated.
Icheb was placed in quarters next to mine. Seven would likely bunk with me. My Borg stayed with her charge to make sure he ate a whole meal and to explain what had happened to them and to the Maquis crew. I returned to the Bridge to ready my prey.
The Captain was not on the Bridge when I stepped off the turbo lift. Riker was; smirking. Troi looked annoyed -- at him.
“How are Seven and Icheb?” He asked.
“Resting well, thank you. Where is Captain Picard?”
“In his Ready Room,” Troi replied.
I nodded then left them without another word. There was no time for banter. I entered the Ready Room without announcement.
“Cowardice does not suit you, sir,” I said as the door closed.
Picard chuckled. “It is always wise to tread cautiously in the unknown.”
“What is unknown about desire?” I asked softly.
“Apparently more than I have experienced,” he replied. “That… woman is a man’s fantasy come to life. What could she possibly want with me?”
“She was Borg. You were Locutus,” I replied.
“That was not me! It was an abomination,” he replied hotly.
“It was you, dear Jean-Luc,” I replied gently. “I was Borg as well. You are still you even in the Collective. She understood your uniqueness when you were part of it. She understands why the Borg Queen wanted you -- the only lucid thought that dolt every had.”
“That is why she wants me?” He asked still in dismay.
“In part. Then there’s saving her life,” I said.
“And what about Beverly?” He demanded softly. “She understands my attachment to you. This expression of… of…”
“Lust,” Picard countered.
I chuckled then. “Men often do not understand the potential of their women to lust as strongly as they. Leave Beverly to me.”
“Be in your quarters by 1900 hours, where you will surrender to your desires, sir,” I said softly as I caressed his strong jaw.
He sighed against my touch with a wry smile. “How can I resist?”
“Resistance is futile,” I replied.
I found Beverly Crusher in her quarters at 1600 hours. I dressed for my later rendezvous to save time. Dearest Tristan, whom I shall keep in service for as long as the man wishes, had packed a lovely wrap dress and my favorite heels from the House of Chakotay. Beneath it, I wore my loveliest in lace lingerie and hose. The Mistress was completely feminine. Along with my riding crop, I carried a bottle of Picard wine and a lovely snack prepared by Seven after she joined me in my quarters.
Riker was happening along the corridor as I approached her quarters. He had the gall to leer at me as I stopped before him.
“Can I come to the party?”
“Only in your dreams,” I retorted. “You have amusement at your disposal. More than you deserve.”
“I just can’t believe you are the same Janeway I knew,” he continued.
“I’m not,” I replied. “Go on, Will Riker, you are out depth.”
“But it’s unfair that the Captain could have you and Seven,” he said.
“That is none of your concern,” I snapped. His insight surprised me. Maybe he had a lust meter. “One more word and I will let the Counselor know of your curiosity.”
That shut him up and made him back away. I glared at him as I passed and pitched my voice low. “And Seven can suck paint off a bulkhead -- not that you will ever know.”
I did not have to look back to know that his mouth hung open.
“Captain Janeway, this is a surprise,” Crusher said.
“I bring tribute in thanks for your aid,” I said holding up the wine.
She chuckled. “I hardly did anything.”
“You released them from Sickbay,” I said with a laugh of my own. “That was aid enough.”
Crusher shrugged. “Far be from me to turn down a tribute.”
I settled on her sofa with the snacks and the wine before she could put us at her dining table and a more formal setting. She followed with a pair of glasses and a bottle opener.
“Seven made crab puffs,” I said. “She is an amazing cook and wedding planner.”
“Wedding planner?” Crusher sputtered as she poured the wine.
“We’ve had need of a number of specialized services on Voyager,” I said. “When we have a lot more alcohol, I’ll tell you about my personal cobbler. He made these shoes,”
I offered her my foot. She held my ankle to admire Chakotay’s work. She was amazed.
“A crewman made theses?”
“Commander Chakotay,” I replied. “With shore leave being something we could rarely indulge in, pastimes become essential.”
“Your crew will spawn dozens of books, I’m sure.”
Crusher popped a crab puff in her mouth then murmured appreciatively. “This is incredible.”
The Doctor popped a couple of more puffs while I sipped my wine. Eventually, Beverly gave me a guilty look as she picked up her glass of wine.
“Don’t stop, Doctor. Seven made them for you.”
“Call me Beverly,” she said raising the glass. “Kathryn?”
We sipped the lovely cabernet for a moment while Crusher pulled off her boots. She let out a long sigh sinking back onto the sofa.
“No matter how well designed the shoe, nothing helps after the 12th hour,” she murmured.
“Do your feet hurt?” I asked.
“No, they’re just tired,” she said. “I don’t take many breaks.”
“As you would advise others,” I observed.
“Yes. But there is so much to do…”
“And so many people you’re responsible for?”
“I have to set an example,” she explained.
“Yet your feet hurt at the end of the day,” I said.
“What do I do? It comes with the job?”
I looked at her steadily while sipping my wine. “Indulge yourself, Beverly. Give me your feet.”
I patted the cushion next to me. “Put your feet up here. Keep sipping”
Beverly was puzzled but she did as I said while I quickly retrieved a wet hand towel from her bathroom then heated it in the replicator. When I returned, Beverly was refilling our glasses. She had opened the neck of her uniform, The plate of crab puffs was in her lap.
“This is a very simple way to soothe tired feet,” I said. “And you can teach anyone to do it.”
I wrapped both feet in the towel then began massaging the right foot. The simple, circular manipulation had her sighing in no time. As I covered each sole, I carefully noted Beverly’s reactions. When I repeated the motions, this time I carefully pressed certain areas of her instep. She gasped then moaned.
“Put down the glass,” I whispered. “You don’t want to spill anything.”
I snagged the plate before I went after her in earnest. I never touched her skin, but I had her writhing on that sofa. That elegant face was flushed. She clutched at the cushions. I could feel the good Doctor fighting me, but she wouldn’t tell me to stop. So I didn’t. I made her come.
Beverly stared at me in amazement as I picked up our glasses and handed over hers. She took a deep sip.
“You aren’t interested in following me back to Earth now, are you?” I asked.
“No,” she replied.
“I provided a simple gesture of pleasurable release,” I said. “Nothing more. An orgasm is not a life long commitment.”
“No,” she admitted.
“Jean-Luc will remain when all of this is over,” I said. “Nothing will change between you unless you push him away.”
“How can I compete against someone like you… or Seven,” she muttered. “Yes, I heard about how she looked at him in Ten Forward.”
“Don’t compete. This is not a contest,” I assured her. “Seven and I upend the Captain’s sensibilities far too much to be permanent elements in his life. Let him live this moment. Take advantage of the fall out.”
I was amazed at how many lovers missed out on fall out sex because of possessiveness and jealousy. “Yes, he’ll be really frisky once we leave. You could get him to learn foot massage. Make demands on him to fill your needs.”
As I left to get on with the rest of my evening, I made a note to suggest classes for women to get in touch with their inner Mistress. Somehow in acquiring all the respect and power granted men, women had forgotten what they are about. Barrows would most certainly be in favor of that.
Seven was literally sitting on the edge of her seat when I returned to our quarters. She looked at me with large uncertain eyes.
“Did Doctor Crusher enjoy the crab cakes?”
“Yes, and they served my purpose well,” I replied. “Are you ready?”
She looked ready. Her dress had been refreshed and she had showered. But Seven didn’t move. I had thought she would drag me out of the door seconds after I stepped inside. My eyebrow went up.
“We do not have to go,” she said. “I had not thought about how you might feel.”
That made me smile. I stood before her taking her lovely face in my hands. “I think the more normal we are, the better I’d feel. Besides, we may not get another opportunity.”
Seven nodded. Relief was clear in her eyes. I kissed her gently.
“But I thank you for your consideration,” I said. “Let’s go.”
Jean-Luc was wearing soft lounging attire when he greeted us at the door. He was nervous. I don’t think I have ever seen a man so nervous. Not about sex.
“I took the liberty of having some food sent up,” he said. Then he added ruefully, “But what does one serve on such an… occasion?”
“Hors d’oeuvers,” Seven replied with her usual straight face. “They satisfy the appetite but do not make the guest too full.”
Picard blinked at her. Then he smiled broadly. “I also poured some wine.”
Seven watched him intently as he settled us on the sofa with a glass each then put the tray of delicious looking finger foods within reach. After a deep breath for courage, he sat stiffly between us. Even in the face of debauchery, the dear man was ever a gentleman. My darling Chakotay would have been naked and sprawled out by then. I missed him.
The awkwardness of the greeting made me wonder how we were going to proceed. I knew Jean-Luc didn’t truly object to the idea of Seven having him. There are ways a Captain can avoid almost anything on his own vessel. But I sensed a hesitation in him that a made a traditional seduction less likely to succeed.
I should trust my beautiful Borg. Though Seven’s plain way of speaking can be off putting, she was actually very intuitive about people and their feelings. She first enjoyed the wine and talked about Voyager’s efforts to find real wine in the Delta Quadrant including Chakotay’s ill-fated attempt at being a vintner. Then she complimented the food and talked about her own skills at cooking. This put Jean-Luc at ease and even made him laugh.
“My dear, delightful girl,” he sighed. “You could have half this ship at your feet. What are you doing here with me?”
Seven moved over on the sofa so that she was close enough to touch him. Those big blue eyes ran over his body in wonder.
“I did not understand how flawed the Queen’s logic was until I met the Mistress,” she said softly. “I did not understand her actions toward you. The Queen wanted your submission. And though she could not copulate with you, she wanted that.”
“But why do you?” He asked.
“I felt your presence sexually though I did not understand that then,” she replied holding his gaze with hers. “I could feel how powerful an impact you had on the Mistress. I can feel it now.”
Jean-Luc sipped his wine. I sensed that he was no longer nervous. The possibilities were beginning to unfold.
“The Queen tried to make us believe that such stirrings were inferior,” Seven murmured as she put down her glass. “But she felt them. She felt them with regard to you.”
Seven plucked the glass from Jean-Luc’s hand. She swooped over to claim his mouth in a provocative kiss. I gasped as did Jean-Luc. Seven was not going to give him any chance at further thought. I was going to help with that. While the kiss went on, I quickly and carefully removed Jean-Luc’s shoes and loosened the fastenings to his clothing. Seven then gently pushed him back against the sofa. I then moved to Seven and deftly helped her out of her clothing. Chakotay and I were very good at stripping Seven naked. We liked to joke that we could have her naked and ready in five seconds. It took me a little longer this time with my Borg attached at the mouth to the Captain, but I did succeed.
I sat back and enjoyed all the gasping and moaning coming from the delicious Captain. The moaning grew louder as Seven’s lovely nipples grazed his bared chest. His eyes flew open as he pulled back from the kiss.
“Incredible,” he moaned
Seven used the opportunity to tug the Captain’s pants down before kissing him once again. Jean-Luc’s hands were no longer still at his sides. He slid his palms down her elegant back to cup her amazing buttocks as she straddled him. Seven took her time savoring each long kiss and caress along Jean-Luc’s flushed skin. And I admired the Captain’s response to her attention. The average man would have flipped her over to have her in his own way. Though Jean-Luc held Seven lightly and enjoyed caressing what he could reach, he did not try to take over the encounter.
Thus Seven kissed down Jean-Luc’s gently heaving chest to his navel unimpeded. The moans grew louder as she inexonerably drifted lower on that taut body to take his leaking erection in her lush mouth. Some of the moans were from Seven herself as she openly delighted in the taste and feel of him in her mouth. It as heady to watch that beautiful woman at work especially since she was enjoying it so much.
And then Jean-Luc surprised us both by gently tugging Seven by her arms.
“No, I want to feel you,” he gasped as he pulled her to straddle his lap.
He impaled her in one stroke. Seven tipped her head back with a loud moan. She steadied herself by resting her hands on Jean-Luc’s shoulders. The Captain stilled for a moment holding her firmly by the waist before leaning forward to suck Seven’s nipples. He kept sucking and tugging on them as he began to thrust up into her. The room was suddenly very warm for me as I watched them. I really wished Jean-Luc had made a log. But then again, perhaps he preferred to not share the memory. It was going to be some memory. The Captain had tormented Seven with his able mouth to the point here she was coming in strong, shuddering waves. Her breaths were coming in ragged gasps. Jean-Luc suddenly clutched her to him burying his face between her breasts as he cried out. I came just looking at them.
In the aftermath, I brought them cool water to drink and warm, damp towels to clean up. It was a while before either could move. When they did, I helped them dress. Jean-Luc looked at Seven with fondness and some gratitude. Seven’s admiration was shining in her eyes but she came to cuddle beside me on the sofa. Her eyes were heavy. I encouraged her to lie down with her head in my lap. Jean-Luck appeared with a blanket to cover her.
“Is she all right?” He asked. Concern etched his face.
I gently stroked his cheek. “I think the day finally caught up with her, that’s all. Thank you for indulging us.”
He chuckled softly at that. “I should be thanking you for the rest of my days. I’m sorry to not include you.”
“I benefited, believe me,” I sighed.
Riker called in then. It seemed we had all manner of shadows on our tail. There were more ships ringing Deep Space Nine according to long range scans. Neither of us thought another trip by slip stream was a wise plan. I thought we should make it very clear that we weren’t going to be deterred. Jean-Luc nodded at that.
“Ramming speed, Mr. Riker,” Picard said. “I’m on my way to the Bridge.”
With a kiss for us both, he left.
Seven only slept a few hours. I dozed lightly as well. When she woke, we stopped at my quarters to change. I had brought along one of Seven’s favorite unitards and boots. I returned to my leather suit. Icheb joined us for the trip to the Bridge.
Picard’s expression was wry as he looked at the displays in front of him. It wasn’t Wolf 359, but it was far more ships than I had ever seen in peacetime.
“This is quite a party,” I said dryly.
“They’re all being circumspect,” Picard said. “At least they are right now.”
“Have you made contact with Deep Space Nine?” I asked.
“I was waiting for you,” he replied.
Crusher was on the Bridge then. I felt her taking us all in. She couldn’t see anything obvious, so she quickly examined Seven and Icheb with a tricorder.
“If you would, Captain. I need to know if my package arrived,” I said.
Picard signaled Riker. Seven and I glanced at each other.
“I have Colonel Kira,” Riker said.
“Colonel?” I said. “Good for her.”
“On screen,” Picard said.
The pert officer was a little careworn from the war, but seemed as feisty as ever. She had deviltry dancing in her eyes. Then I saw movement behind her. Chakotay appeared behind her left shoulder. His expression was impassive, but his eyes were liquid fire.
“This was supposed to be a dull outpost,” Kira said with a wry smile. “I don’t think we have enough chairs.”
“We would appreciate it if you could find a few more,” Picard said.
“You’re welcome anytime.”
The screen blinked back to the star field.
“Best speed to Deep Space Nine,” Picard said.
“Permission to speak freely,” Riker said suddenly.
I had been reveling in the memory of Chakotay’s incendiary gaze. The First Officer’s tone annoyed me.
“Of course,” Picard said.
“Whatever Captain Janeway did has kept all these ships at bay, but for how long?” He asked. “And are we really prepared to fight against Starfleet?”
It was a fair question. I had caused a lot of devastation. There would be a price to pay somewhere. But I had right on my side. And I had Voyager.
“Time will tell, Mr. Riker,” Picard said. “I think that Captain Janeway has proven often enough that no one should count her or her crew out.”
“There are many ways to fight, Mr. Riker,” I said with quiet confidence. “I haven’t gotten started.”Home
64: The Fourth Estate