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Waiting For Stardust

Chapter Text

"It's so exciting! Just think of the possibilities of new dishes I could make!" Neelix exclaimed as he thought about Cibophus, the planet they were going to. Chakotay and Paris exchanged a look and a mutual sigh. Neelix and his dishes… well, the Ciboeans were known for their culinary skills as well as other things. Currently it was just the three of them in the Delta Flyer, making a stop to visit the planet while Voyager was flying on to check out a new star anomaly. They'd meet up later if Cibophus proved promising.

The two humans didn't bother really listening to the Talaxian spouting off about this dish and that food. Their eyes were focused ahead at the stars or on their instrument panels. Paris intoned "Course correction to mark .3, Commander." It wasn't really necessary to say all these things, but records were records. "Should be there in less than half an hour."

Which means less than half an hour of listening to Neelix, thought Chakotay with a wry smile. He nodded to acknowledge the pilot and furrowed his brows, feeling that rising excitement that was always there every planet they visited. The Ciboeans had seemed friendly when they talked to Captain Janeway and invited her and the ship to the planet. A brand new species! And a friendly one at that. This is what he'd signed up for: adventure. He knew that both Neelix and Paris felt the same way, even if neither would have quite voiced it in that way.

"Commander?" Paris' voice broke into Chakotay's thoughts. He snapped to attention and looked at the panel. A proximity alert? There was someone else out there! His eyes ran over the flickering lights and he briskly said, "It's coming from 330 mark 15. Sensors?"

"Unknown," the pilot replied. "It seems to be… that's weird. A combination of a hell of a lot of things. What do you think they wa-" he was broken off mid-sentence as the Flyer lurched in the air, throwing the unfortunate Neelix to the floor and making the others grab at the nearest thing.

Rubbing his banged head, Chakotay snapped, "Tractor beam! See you if you can get us out, Paris!" He glanced over at Neelix to ensure the Talaxian was alright. He flipped on the communication and immediately introduced himself, "This is Commander Chakotay of the Federation Shuttlecraft Delta Flyer. Please state your intentions." He waited for a response, but getting none. Again he tried, "You have reached Commander Chakotay out of the Federation Starship Voyager. We are on a peaceful mission to Cibophus. Identify yourselves."

Paris glanced over at Chakotay when they again received no response, and tersely told him, "Can't get free. We're being dragged." He again tried to break the Flyer free, but could see that it was futile. The ship was too strong. He'd burn out the Flyer's engines long before they broke free of the tractor beam. He had his hands full but could hear Chak trying to put though a distress call to Voyager. Suddenly Paris exclaimed, "Brace yoursel-" Once again, his words were cut off off as a great energy beam shot through the tractor and enveloped the Delta Flyer. All the three people saw was blinding white for a moment, then everything went black.

Commander Chakotay was the first to wake. He groaned and put a hand on his head to stop it from spinning. What the hell had happened? Where was he, for one thing? He blinked slowly to clear his head and now slowly took stock of his situation. No, they weren't in Sick Bay. Not on Voyager. Not on the Delta Flyer either. He could sense engines humming and sat up with a wince. A ship. Okay. What ship? And where were the others?

Looking to his left, Chakotay saw in an instant Lieutenant Paris still passed out, and Neelix beside him. A quick glance around told the Commander that it was just them three, and they seemed to be in a holding area like a brig. There was a force field ahead of him and he sighed. No one in sight. Scooting over to the other two, he shook them both gently, saying softly, "Neelix? Paris? Wake up. You alright?"

Twin groans told him their heads likely felt the same way his did. Neelix was the first to speak, "C-Commander? What… what happened?" The Talaxian squinted at him before looking around too.

"Ugh. My head feels like I stuck it in one of Neelix's kitchen appliances. No offence, Neelix," Paris stated as he rubbed his temples. Now he looked a bit more awake and asked, "That white light? Some sort of energy weapon? What do you think they want? Where are we?"

Sighing, Chakotay leaned back on the nearest wall. "I don't know. I just woke up myself. I haven't seen anyone yet. You both sure you're okay? Other than a headache? Nothing else unusual?" He got careful shakes of their heads before grunting as he changed position. It seemed they would have to wait and see who came for them. Whatever the situation was, they'd deal with it as it came.

Neelix did speak up and asked, "Were you able to get through to Voyager? And this ship seems… I don't know. Just a funny feeling, that's all. Now I know perfectly well that's not what Tuvok would say at all. But still…" he frowned and couldn't help the shiver running through him. "Brr! I don't know."

Chakotay gazed at him before slowly replying, "I'm sure this is all just a big misunderstanding. I don't know if our message got through. Let's hope it did, before that surge fried everything. But I'm sure everything is fine." His voice was full of reassurance, even though he was covering his own feelings. He had the same thing that Neelix felt… that this could be bad. Very bad. But he was the Commander, after all. It was his job to keep crew morale up. And appearing overly worried would help no one.

He didn't know how long they'd been sitting around when the sound of the far door being opened echoed into the room. Quick to stand up, Chakotay waited to see what strange being met their eyes and was prepared for anything at all.

Well, anything but this.

A human female, or something that looked remarkably like a human female appeared in front of the force field. She was soon joined by another one and they looked at the prisoners for a long time without speaking. The men stared back, unsure of what to do or say. At last one of them looked at the other and said, "Good, they're awake. They look healthy enough. What should we do with the Talaxian though? He's useless to us."

Neelix winced at that but watched the other woman who answered with a shake of her head, "No, not useless. She can decide what to do with him. But the others are much more valuable. Very much so." She smiled at Chakotay and pointed at him, "I like the looks of that one. Very nice. Though the other is easy on the eyes too."

Paris couldn't take this much longer and snapped, "Who are you? What do you want with us?" He felt Chakotay's glare but didn't look at him, instead locking eyes with the two women who stared right back, undaunted. The blonde woman curled a lip in a cruel looking smile, while answering, "Oh, that is for you to learn later. Right now we're going home to our planet. Vordania Prime. There, we'll deal with you. We should arrive within the hour. We just must ascertain that you are healthy."

With that, she pulled out a weapon and trained it on Neelix. "Do not move, or the Talaxian dies," she warned as the brunette turned off the force field. Neelix's eyes dilated and his breath hitched. He knew perfectly well that they meant what they said. Chakotay looked at the fearful expression of the kindly alien and sighed. He wouldn't bring harm to his friend and crewmate. So he stood still as the woman approached him. She looked at him critically, making several passes around his body with a tricorder. "Hm. Yes. Perfectly healthy. Now the other one." She hauled Paris up to his feet and did the same thing to him. "Yes, this one is healthy too."

"Do the Talaxian too, Ruby. You know… just in case. And then records will be complete and all," the blonde woman directed Ruby, who agreed and scanned Neelix. It wasn't long before he was declared "healthy." Now Ruby grinned at the two humans and asked in a pleading voice, "Nella, can't we just… look? I mean… come on!"

Huffing, Nella glared at her companion and firmly told her, "You know that's not the way things worked. The Phantom looks at them first. We'd get in trouble if we touched the merchandise. Now come on. You'll be needed at your station." She waited until Ruby sighed with a longing glance at Chakotay and stepped out before turning the force fields back on.

Now Paris spat out, "Merchandise?! What the hell are they talking about. Wait, I probably don't want to know. I'm not merchandise! And are they human? They look awfully human."

Having to agree with the pilot, Chakotay answered, "They do. I think they could be. You do remember that there are humans scattered around the quadrants. A cluster of them could have ended up at… what did she call it? Vordania Prime? And you know what? I believe she really was speaking English." He patted himself down and continued, "No communicator. No tricorder. Nothing. Just our clothes. They've taken everything else. So that means…" he raised an eyebrow for emphasis. It was true. These two at least, were human English speaking females. Now, if they could just figure out the rest. As in where were they going, what was going on, and where the hell was Voyager? There were too many questions and simply not enough answers.

At last, the ship slowed and dropped out of warp, as Paris' ears could tell. The three were instantly on the alert. Something must happen soon. And they were right, for the same two women came back to see them. Again, they pulled a weapon on Neelix as Ruby snapped to Chakotay, "Get out. And behave."

The bigger man had to sigh, but obediently stepped out of the brig and was calm as Ruby grabbed his wrists and clamped a chain on them. Then she dropped down and placed shackles around his ankles and attached a chain to link the two. Last item for him to wear was a leather collar strapped tightly on his neck and a leash was clipped on. Ruby gave him a once over to make sure he looked presentable and smirked at him as she made one subtle grab at his crotch. Chakotay didn't respond, or even say a thing at this treatment, deciding that remaining silent was the best plan. He watched as Paris went through the same thing, and warned him with a glance to not say a thing. The younger man thankfully got the message and shut up properly, but couldn't help but rattle his chains afterwards.

Neelix had watched the women's every move, dreading when they came for him. It seemed to him that he was on a lower level than the humans. Because he was alien to them? That must be it. To his great surprise, Nella smiled at him and apologized, "Talaxian, I am sorry for the treatment you have received. It was to ensure your safety. Come with us. I promise you will not be harmed." Her voice was soft and friendly, a huge change from the cold and snappish manner she had put on for the others. Neelix was suspicious, but replied, "Well, thank you. But why aren't you chaining me like the others? Do you think I'm not dangerous?"

She laughed and patted his cheek, "My dear Talaxian! You were an unexpected surprise. But we like Talaxians around here. You'll find that out. And no, we won't chain you. You are our guest!" She smiled again and put a hand in his, tugging him away from the others. "Come on, let me show you.." she continued to talk in a cheerful manner as she led him out into the corridor.

That left Ruby with the two men, who were equally confused. The things they had said about Neelix earlier had led them to the same conclusion the alien had: that the women considered him inferior. Was that really the case? Or had they just made the men believe that so as to behave better? This was confusing. Unfortunately for them, they had no more time to think about it when they were shoved to the corridor.

Chakotay's eyes darted about as he took in his surroundings as he was unceremoniously pushed down the hallway. It was an odd sort of ship. It seemed mostly like their own Federation ships, but with components from other species. That piece there at eye level just now, he could have sworn had come off a Vulcan ship. And that post over there had a definite Denobulan feel to it. But it was mostly Federation. Or at least it looked Federation. Still puzzled, he found himself standing next to a transporter and glanced over at Tom, who looked nervous, but holding himself together. There were also a few other human looking males, similarly bound in chains, waiting with confused or wary expressions. And around them were more women. They had to be human, that much Chakotay was sure of.

The women raised weapons as they arranged the males onto the transporter pad and made sure no one bolted for it. Paris thought that was rather stupid. Where were they going to go, anyway? There wasn't any escape. And if this how they were treated on the ship… what were they going to expect on the planet itself? Well, they'd find out in less than a minute, anyway. He locked eyes with Nella as the shimmering took over him and his last coherent thought before the transporter took him away was: where in the blue hell was Voyager?

Chapter Text

When Chakotay and Paris rematerialized, they found themselves in what seemed like a holding pen. Nearby they could see another pen with a whole lot of other men in it. They stared about, confused for the umpteenth time today, but again were not given much time to protest as rough hands seized them. More women tugged on their chains and pulled them one at a time to separate spots. They were thrown roughly to the ground, knelt upon, and the chains taken off just long enough to tug off their clothes as well. Paris started protesting loudly from his place on the ground. The hell were they doing?! Chakotay shot him another look, even as his face was pushed into the dirt, but it was too late. "You shut up, boy!" A woman snapped at Tom, slapping him hard. The chains were reattached, and each man was stood up again on their feet.

"Nice," someone else purred as she took in the men with her eyes. "Too bad we have to cover that up right now. But we do. Rules and all. Still, good to know they look good under there." She laughed as she grabbed a loin cloth for Chakotay and expertly wrapped it on him, making no special care not to "touch" him. He certainly did feel odd, but hey, at least he was covered. So that was good, wasn't it? A number tag was slapped on his shoulder and he was done. After Paris was "dressed", they were pushed out to the other pen.

The two officers looked about them carefully before Chakotay nodded to the nearest man, "Hey, do you know what's going on here?"

The other man gave Chakotay a sharp look, and then whispered, "Shh. Keep your voice down. Yeah, we're being sold. First time at auction?"

"Wait, sold? Auction? What the hell?!" Paris snapped louder than he meant to. He was instantly shushed by pretty much every man close to him. The blonde haired man sighed and apologized with a much lowered voice, "Sorry. But what do you mean. Are we… slaves?"

A wry smile from the first man that had spoken to them before he answered, "You're very new. Transported off a ship, did you? Alright, I'll make it easy for you. Yes, we're slaves. Vordania Prime is a matriarchal society. Yes, we're human, with a few aliens thrown in the mix on this planet. The aliens are always treated nice. Us, on the other hand… male humans are slaves. We're the bottom of the barrel. We work or we are pleasure slaves. If you're good at that, you might become a Consort. But it takes a long time." He shrugged nonchalantly and started to turn away.

Chakotay called him back gently, "Excuse me? May we ask some more questions?" At the man's sigh but affirmative nod, the Commander hesitated before asking, "What is a Consort? And what can we expect at this… auction?"

The man looked over the two of them before deciding to have pity on them and answer, "A Consort is a male slave that has found favour enough in his Mistress's eyes and is allowed to father children for her. It's a bit of a process. As for the auction, well, you're asking the right person. I've been through this five times. This will be my sixth. They will already know the basics about you, as in when they caught you, what your titles were, etc. Then they'll announce it to the crowd as they parade you around. They'll bid on you and then you'll go with whoever buys you. You don't get a say in anything. Just get up there, do what they say, and keep your mouth shut. That's all." Now he shot Tom a warning glance before he shuffled off, not wishing to stand around and be caught talking for a long time. It was too dangerous.

The Commander had to face the facts. In a low voice, he soberly told Paris, "Well, that means that we'll likely be separated. Listen to me, man. Promise me you'll do your best, no matter what happens, okay? I'm sure Voyager will find us eventually. Try to behave yourself. And… and… I'll find you."

"What happened to behaving yourself, Chak?" Tom protested at that last bit. The rest he could do, but it seemed like this world could be dangerous. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad, but still there was a feeling they both had. He wasn't stupid though. It had not escaped him one bit when the other man had said that "they worked or they were pleasure slaves". He could bet anything that if they were slaves, it would be not be consensual if they… he shut his brain off at that thought. They could find themselves in very bad places. And unable to help the other.

Gruffly, Chakotay replied, "Nevermind. See what happens. Hopefully we'll know who bought each other. Then we can sort out how to keep track of each other. And hope we go to good places. Alright?" He didn't wait for an answer as he perked up his ears towards the gate. It seemed that they were done bringing new men in. Now the women were taking the men out in small manageable groups and lining them up, taking note of their tags and writing on their pads. Paris could only assume it was for the auctioneer to keep track of the information of each man. He thought, That just sounds so bad. But hell, it is what it is. He wondered where Neelix went, but was confident that he was being taken care of somewhere. From what he'd been told, aliens were not slaves. In fact, they were treated very well. So the Talaxian would be okay. Maybe he'd be able to find them later and they could escape to the Flyer. Of course, that depended on them actually finding the ship. He decided that was a bridge to be crossed later when they came to it.

Tom and Chakotay stayed together, occasionally talking quietly, and they could hear in the distance the auctioneer shouting out prices in a currency they didn't know. Some slaves sold quickly, some took a long time. But the line continually moved. At last, the two found themselves in a group of six and shuffled into line, Paris ahead of Chakotay. There they waited nervously for what would happen next. A few times they got shoved around by impatient women guards, who kept a sharp eye on all of them. Once, one even tried to trip Paris up, and grinned with a cackle as he bumped into the man in front of him. Tom wanted to glare at her but then the line moved again and was unable to do so. He heard a whisper from behind, "You okay?" Tom sent a quick nod to Chakotay and a quick faint smile.

Sooner than he wanted, Paris was tugged by the leash up the stairs to behind the curtain. Chakotay couldn't see what was going on, but only hear the raucous crowd bidding wildly. Then a ringing voice silenced everyone, and claimed Paris. Despair washed over Chakotay. His friend, his teammate was gone. Would he ever see him again? Who bought him? Would he be okay? Grimly, he felt the tug of the leash around his neck and followed the woman up to the stage.

He stared out onto the gathering he saw below him. The majority were human women, but there were a few aliens of either gender. He startled slightly as the auctioneer started up with banging of her gavel on the stand. She announced loudly, "Look at this fine boy! Big and strong!" Chakotay barely listened to her as she rhymed off his good points. He just felt like a cow going through market as they used to have in the old days. It was just too demeaning to listen to closely. Though he snapped to attention as she told everyone, "Like the previous boy you saw, this one is from a Federation Starship! And he is a Commander! Wouldn't you just love to break him?"

That was quite enough to start the crowd to bid wildly. She let them bid a while, while Chakotay was made to walk back and forth on the platform to "show himself off". He was silent through this, knowing there was nothing he could do about it. He couldn't bear the lecherous looks, and a stab of fear shot through him. What would his fate be? He could see a few… a very few… women who looked like they would be nice. He hoped with all his heart that they would get him. He hoped Paris had gone to a good place as well. Someone that would be kind to him.

"Alright, alright! Hold your bids. We haven't even gotten to the good part yet! Shall we show you now?" A shouted yes prompted the guard to yank on the collar and make Chakotay stand still. He did, not knowing what they wanted now. Then he froze and couldn't help the embarrassed flush as she whipped off his loincloth and he stood before everyone stark naked. His privates were handled not so gently as she displayed them to leering eyes, and he wanted to snap at her, but held himself back. This was neither the time nor the place to act up, however much he wanted to at the unfair treatment. He just wanted it over with as soon as possible.

"Look at that fine package! Yes, ma'am! This boy would be just as good in the bedroom as out working in the field!" the auctioneer trumpeted. There were a few more high bids before that same voice rang out.

"Silence! I will take him as well."

He looked up to a balcony he hadn't noticed before. A imperious looking woman sat in a comfortable chair. She was gorgeous, but cold looking. She stood up and leaned over the railing, asking, "He has come from the same ship as the other?"

"Yes, my lady Cassandra. He has. Fresh off his own ship as of yesterday," the auctioneer answered politely. It was obvious to Chakotay, this woman held much power. Perhaps she was the queen here or something.

Another careful look at him and she asked, "Is his ship still here?" That was answered with a yes, the Delta Flyer was going to be offered to her anyway after the auction. That satisfied her and she sat down. "Take him away. I will give you compensation later."

There were a few groans from some of the women in the crowd who had really wanted him, but they graciously accepted the situation. Chakotay was pulled off to the other side of the platform, down those stairs and to a wall where Paris had been chained by the collar. He was chained up next to him, and sighed, "You got bought by her too, I guess?"

The blonde man nodded tersely, "Yeah. Big boss or something like. Think we'll get clothes back or?" He sighed as he moved from foot to foot in uncomfortableness at his exposure. He was tense, but at the same time glad that Chak would be with him.

"Let's hope so. May it won't be so bad, Tom. I just wish I knew where Neelix was. Though I think he's okay. Just would make me feel better if I knew. At least we're together," the commander pointed out the positives of this situation.

Paris rolled his eyes but had to content himself with waiting until the auction was over. It took a little while, but at last a woman came and yes! She put a cloth over their nakedness. It wasn't quite the same as the one before where they had been wrapped carefully, since this one was merely a flap in the front, a flap in the back, attached by a string. Well, it was better than nothing at all. They were unchained from the wall and tugged outside.

Blinking at the brightness after the dimness of the hall, Paris took a good look around. Twin suns. That was noteworthy. Then they found themselves chained to a fancy looking cart with slaves pulling it. The street was bustling with pretty women dressed in bright colours, usually followed by plainly dressed men in collars. Some carried packages. Some just tagged along behind their females. Some pulled single carts. It was a lot to look at, and he noted especially some of the dead expressions on the men's' faces as they scurried around. Others had a worried or even scared look. This wasn't good at all, was it?

Now there was a flurry of excitement as the woman who had bought them came out of a different exit. She gave them a quick glance before settling herself onto the cart and nodding to her driver. Pretty soon they were in front of a large building, and Chakotay guessed it was something like a palace. The guards forced them to follow the woman to a room, then stood nearby in case they were needed. They were dealing with unbroken slaves after all. Caution must be exerted, especially with this woman. She turned around and acknowledged them for the first time.

"Greetings, both of you. I am Lady Cassandra. I am also known as the Phantom. You are my slaves. I want to make that very clear to you right now. You come from a world with no slaves, or at least it was outlawed years ago." Cassandra brushed her hand through her black hair and locked her grey eyes on both of them. "Now, you will begin your training. But first, tell me your names."

Chakotay stepped forward and as politely as he could, answered, "I am Commander Chakotay of the Federation Starship Voyager. This is Lieutenant Tom Paris. You have no right to hold us as slaves."

The Phantom laughed and shook her head. "Oh, but I do. Voyager is it? And who is your captain? I do not believe I have heard of your vessel."

After a moment's hesitation, Chakotay replied, "Captain Kathryn Janeway. We were lost in the Delta Quadrant. We're making our way back to the Alpha Quadrant."

"Such a long way! But Kathryn? If I do not miss my guess, your captain is… female?" At the man's nod, Cassandra threaded a hand through her slight waves in thought. "That does not happen often around here. A woman captain...she must be interesting. Anyways, your captain will be looking for you, I am sure. If she values you, that is. Perhaps I will let her find us. She could join us and be happy on Voldaria Prime."

That made Chakotay correct her immediately, "The Captain does not tolerate slavery. She would never want to settle here."

He got a quick slap for his impertinence, and a hard glare, "You will be respectful! You are speaking to the Matriarch of Voldaria Prime! You are new, I know, but disrespect is never tolerated. Ever." She ran grey eyes over them both and then nodded. "You will kneel before your Lady."

The Commander could sense Paris' tension and had to agree. He wasn't willing to kneel to this woman. They were not slaves. They were also chains! He hardened his jaw to protest this but the next moment, he found himself on the ground, getting to know the marble floor very well. The guard had kicked his legs out from under him. A half second, and Paris joined him on his knees with a grunt. "Ya couldn't have as-" the lieutenant was cut off once again as he got a powerful kick to the ribs to shut up.

Wheezing lightly, Tom looked up from his place on the floor and inwardly cursed. Dammit. That hadn't been fair. But he gritted his teeth as the guards kicked them around a bit more before the Phantom told them, "There. That looks a good deal better. Now, let's get you settled in, and training will begin today. But perhaps I should have a better look at you first, hmm?"

Oh no. I know what she means by now, Chakotay thought as he was dragged up to his feet. This world sucked. His flap was raised and he had to tolerate Cassandra's hands roughly on him, but he did not protest. He closed his ears to her "comments", not wishing to react to them. He also ignored whatever she was saying about Paris… it was none of his business, and he didn't look either. Finally she seemed satisfied, and the two officers were led away to what looked for all the world like a dungeon. There were iron bars across each door, making the prisoners… no, slaves… visible to anyone passing by. They could see now that each cell held only a blanket on the floor, and not a whole lot else. There was something in the back corner that seemed to serve as a toilet. But every back wall had hanging chains designed to hold a slave up standing if desired, which a few cells did demonstrate. At last, Chakotay was thrown into one cell, and Paris in the one across the aisle. Then they were left alone.

The officers took a brief glance of their new homes then leaned on the cells so they could down the aisle. Once it seemed clear of women, Chakotay asked Tom, "Are you okay? Those were hard punches and kicks."

"Well, you got them too, so I should be asking you the same thing. But yeah, I'm okay," was the reply, with a sigh added at the end. Tom blew out a breath and had to say, "We've landed in a heap of trouble, haven't we?"

The Commander nodded grimly, then noted the other slaves seemed to be settling down to sleep. "I guess we'd better do the same. See what the morning brings us. Answers, hopefully." He sighed again then looked at his blanket. Well, it was better than nothing at all. And it seemed like they'd missed their meal. Or maybe they didn't get an evening one. Well, it looked like they might have time enough to figure out the routine tomorrow. But hopefully, they wouldn't need it very long.

Chapter Text

Morning was heralded by female guards marching in the aisles and examining the slaves through the bars. There was also a slave with a trolley of sort, and bowls. He dished out a bowl to each man through an opening in the cell doors. Chakotay was on his feet within five seconds of waking up, and nearly came down again with the sudden yank of the shackles around his ankles. There was the distinct sounds of whips cracking and he looked across at Paris who had also snapped awake, but rubbing his eyes blearily, and looking at the bowl in front of him.

Chakotay noted the clothing the others wore: a simple shirt and pants that ended at the knee. He glanced down at his loincloth flaps and assumed they would be changed sooner or later.

He stared at breakfast if one could call it that. The musth looked gross, and tasted even worse. But a slave nearby, seeing his expression, whispered, "It's very nutritious. Eat it or it'll be grabbed from you."

They found out they were not given much time to eat, as another slave came fairly quickly to collect each bowl, then when he had gone, the doors sprang open automatically. Paris looked suspicious, but now saw every slave jump out as quickly as the doors opened. There was a faint sound of whips cracking, and one man paused long enough to say, "Get out, or they'll beat you."

The two officers needed no more warning than that. Chakotay joined the crowd of men, and jumped in surprise as the man next to him grunted from getting a lash cracking down on him. They marched down to an open area, where they were made to strip, shower, and then sit to get shaved. It was done very quickly, and Tom had given a wary eye to his woman handling that blade so fast. But she seemed very practiced at this and he felt like he had just sat down when it was time to get up again. Now Chakotay and Tom both got the proper clothing, for which they were glad for. They felt far less… exposed… with the new "uniform".

After that, the slaves formed two lines at the far door. There was a woman with an electronic scanner that told her the name and number of each slave and she would tersely tell him where he was working that day. Tom noted that he mostly heard, "Field", or the other one would be "Miranda". Whoever Miranda was.

When it was his turn, the woman looked up at him and then waved another guard over. "Training." She said the same thing for Chakotay and the two were lead away to another room.

Here they were forced to kneel, and silver collars were attached to their necks. The chains were removed, but replaced with better shackles. The next few hours were filled with humiliation. The officers were made to learn how to be led with the leash, how to kneel at the side of the woman holding said leash. They were forced to strip down and then wear a harness. And most of all, to obey promptly. If they did not, they were quickly punched, kicked, or hit with a cane. They worked for several hours with few rests, but they knew better than to complain right now. The quicker they learned how things worked around here, the better off they'd be.

After seeing that the men seemed to have the basics down, the guards led them to the fields. Here they were passed off to overseers, who had them go through the strange looking crop and harvest the odd looking seeds that hung like beans, but not quite. Chakotay gave a glance to Paris but shrugged and bent to his work. He watched the others while he worked and noted the overseers held whips in their hands. If they thought someone was slow, or not doing his work, or caught talking, a blow came slashing down on the man's back. The day was long and hot, with the twin suns blazing down on them. When one sun had slid down below the horizon, the work day was over.

The slaves silently walked back to their buildings and the Voyager men followed along. They were exhausted, but had managed to not get beaten. They had got their meals and scarfed the stuff down before going back to collapse in the back of their cells. The guards walked up and down, making sure each place was locked. And the Phantom came.

She walked down the aisle, peering in at each slave, who warily looked back. They froze to their spots, knowing exactly what she wanted. Chakotay met those cold grey eyes, and he shivered lightly unconsciously. She considered him, running her eyes over his frame before deciding to move on. She chose the man next to him, and purred at him as she led him away.

There was silence until after the guards had left. "Poor Tyson," someone said. "He's gonna get it bad. Hopefully not for long."

Another snorted and sarcastically replied, "You wish. You know how she is. He'll get whipped tomorrow for not being able to do his work."

Tom leaned into the bars and saw the speaker near him. "What is she doing to him?" he ventured.

There was scoffs and whispered comments before the blonde man diagonal from him answered, "You're new, aren't you. He's gone to… service her. And before you think that sounds awesome… it's the worst thing in the world." He paused, then quietly explained, "The women have a… serum. It makes you hard for them so they can have sex with you, but in no way can you get off. And not only that… it makes it... excruciatingly painful."

Blinking at that piece of information, Tom sighed and asked, "Why would they do such a thing?"

Someone next to him that he couldn't see snapped harshly, "Because they can." A pause then a softer tone, "Sorry. But no. Slaves are allowed no pleasure. They don't want to worry about unwanted pregnancies. But still use the hell out of us. It's been around for a very long time."

Chakotay observed the brown haired man next to Paris. His eyes held so much pain in them that the Commander wanted to just help him. But he was helpless to do that. The man continued, "She likes making us scream. Beg. Thrash about. We… are nothing but scum to her. But she was raised like that. Her and her mother, and her mother's mother. On before that."

Not much was said after that. It was the middle of the night, long after both suns had sunk down, when the man returned. Paris was awake when he saw the slave stagger into his cell, groaning with pain. He sat, leaning against the wall, legs splayed uncomfortably, and moaned again, squeezing his eyes shut. A stab of fear went through Paris. The man had been raped. That much was clear. It didn't matter if they were slaves or not. That's exactly what was going on. And the next thing that was clear was how much he and Chakotay had to get out of here. Or it might be them next.

The next day, they got their assignments as "Miranda". Puzzled, they followed one of the other "Miranda" men, who gestured to them to come with him. This was the brown haired man from last night that was next to Tom Paris. He nodded and brusquely said, "I'm Mitch. Come on."

They went outside as a group and went down a well worn path to a clearing. Chakotay and Paris shared a look, as it looked like a starship graveyard. And the biggest one was ahead.

The Miranda.

She had been stripped of much of her sheet metal, but the barebones were still there. As Mitch led them to the entrance that had been created, he paused to let the guard sign him in. He was quickly told "Bridge". The others were told the same, so they followed Mitch up to Miranda's bridge. Here they saw it had been stripped down and there were wires everywhere and piles of what was now junk. Looking to the brown haired slave for an explanation, Chakotay asked a silent question after glancing at the two guards and the four other slaves working there already.

Mitch sighed then told the Voyager men, "This is… or was… the Miranda. As you can tell, she was a Federation Starship."

Here Paris interrupted, "Wait… I've heard of you. The Miranda disappeared a few years before we got lost."

Nodding, Mitch continued, "Yeah. And somehow ended up here. The Captain… Captain Farley, he made a brave stand against the Phantom, who came after him. He… died… in the struggle for mastery. Or she beat him to death. That's the short story." Here Mitch gestured around him, "And now the Miranda crew get to take the ship apart to reuse for other things."

Chakotay seemed to a have an aha moment and shook his head, "Wait, so that's why the ship we were on looked like it was made from a mishmash of parts! Because it was. And… hold on. The crew is still here?" He looked at the other men that all had silver collars and were steadily working away at various stations and cannibalizing them.

Glancing at them too, Mitch said in a soft voice, "Yes. All the men you see here are Miranda men. Including me."

"'re one of the crew?" Tom asked after picking up his jaw off the floor. "You… oh man."

"Yeah, I am. I was once her first mate. So… yeah. I get it hard at times, being the next in command. And I couldn't stop them from killing the captain," he said with pain in his voice. "I told him to give in! But he wouldn't. And now…" his breath hitched and he looked away.

Chakotay might have said something but one of the guard stepped towards them, displaying her whip. She glared at them all and sharply said, "If you boys are all through gabbing, you might as well start working. You understand what to do?" This last part was directed at the two new slaves, and she narrowed her eyes at them.

"Uh, yes, ma'am," Chakotay quickly replied to make sure that they didn't get into trouble. Mitch shot him a look and added, "Yeah, I was about to send them off." He strode away and pointed at two stations. "Just go ahead and take them apart. The pile over there, you put usable components they could put in another ship. The other pile is for recyclables. Stuff that isn't reusable. Got it?"

Nodding, the two men bent to their work. They soon found out that after that, talking was no longer permitted. They were to look to their own things, and not help each other. Even looking at one another got them a sharp word and a threat of a lashing. Once in a while, a guard would decide that a slave wasn't working hard enough, and would come up and give him a vicious stroke. They didn't touch the new slaves today, but Chakotay did look up when she paced behind him. He couldn't see what Mitch had done but he got two hard strokes and took them without complaint.

Lunch break wasn't really lunch. They got to rest, drink water, use the facilities if needed, then were back at it quickly. Chakotay felt exhausted by the time they went back to their cells and dropped down, glad to be off his feet.

The next few days went like that. If they weren't in Miranda, they were in the fields. Both was backbreaking work. They soon learned to keep their heads down and be silent. Mitch was often assigned to "House" or even "Cassandra", but he wouldn't talk about either thing. They just knew he looked worn and beaten, often walking oddly if they did happen to catch a glimpse of the former first mate.

One day, it happened. Chakotay was in Miranda, sorting out the useable wires from the ones that were completely blown. He was standing between the two piles, with his own little pile at his feet, picking up a wire, examining it, then tossing it in the correct containers. There was a slight stir, but he knew enough by now to not be distracted. Then a familiar voice… Cassandra's… echoed through the halls. Then she was in the room, inspecting the slaves. Now a hand was on Chakotay's back as he heard, "This one is fine looking, isn't he? Have you had to lay into him yet?"

"No, ma'am. He's still unmarked. He's been a pretty good boy," the guard assured the Phantom. She chuckled and told him, "Stop a moment. Shirt off."

Chakotay caught Paris' wary glance from the other side of the room, but did drop what he was holding and removed his shirt. He looked curiously at Cassandra as he held the shirt in one hand.

Grey eyes blinked at him, then she smiled as she ran her hand over his chest in appreciation. "Nice. Very nice." She trailed that hand over to his back and commented, "Wow. So clean. Unmarred. Beautiful. But I like it marked better, of course. It is the mark of a true slave." She came around to his front and lifted Chakotay's chin to see his face better. "I rather like that mark on him. It suits him well." She pursed her lips in decision, then nodded with a cold smile, "Yes, I'd like him tomorrow. He will learn his place here. And he will entertain me very well."

"No." The word rang out and made the women turn around in surprise. Every slave froze except one: Tom. Tom whose eyes were blazing in anger. "No. You will not touch him."

"Tom…" Chakotay tried to shut the man up with a warning word. But Cassandra had already locked eyes with Paris. She looked very displeased with this boldness against her. "You. You're his team mate, yes? You will never interfere with what I do. And you will never say no." This last bit was said in a low and dangerous tone.

Two guards had grabbed Tom by the arms, and he bucked against them for one moment before deciding to give up and behave. He would get punished, sure. As long as she didn't touch Chakotay like that. It wasn't right! A matched stare at those grey eyes before she nodded to the guards.

Chakotay could not keep silence, "Wait! What are they doing? Where are they taking him?"

Cassandra laughed and patted Chakotay's cheek, "He'll be punished. You get back to work. You'll see him later tonight. Now, get." She commanded, waited until she was satisfied that he was working again, then left to deal with the wayward slave.

Paris had found himself dragged to two posts outside. He had wondered every day what they were for. Now it seemed he would find out. He was stripped of his shirt and chained up by the wrists between the posts. He glanced over to the guard on his left and saw her fingering a mean looking whip. Now Tom knew. He'd be whipped. He gritted his teeth and braced himself as best he could for the pain to begin. Shutting his eyes tight, he made himself think of better times. Times on Voyager. Piloting the Flyer. Seeing fantastic things. The Voyager crew. Even the Doctor would be...

CRACK! The first lash burned a line of fire on his back and Tom arched into it. Then another line crossed the other way. The pain built with every lash, until Tom had no choice but to yell. He could feel the blood trickling down his back and his wrists burn with all the jerking he'd been doing. He hoped it would be over soon. Ten lashes so fa- his thoughts were cut off again as another line of pain burned its way into him. Bloody hell, that had hurt more than the last one. There was one more vicious stroke, the worst of them all, and then Tom was let down at last. He couldn't help screaming in pain as he hit the ground. Paris panted for a good while, trying to get a handle of the pain that scored his bloody back. He just wanted to lie here and curl up.

He knew it wouldn't happen though. Hands yanked him up and shoved him in another direction quite roughly. Tom continued to pant for the pain but went where he was told blindly. Pushed into a white room, he saw a man wearing a long white coat come and inspect him, clean him up quickly, bandage him, then nod to the women. Tom now found himself back in his cell for a few hours. He couldn't rest. He hurt far too much. Then he was kicked up in the second half of the day and forced to work in the fields, trying not to cry as he felt the lacerations on his back open every time he bent over.

It was in pure exhaustion that he fell down in his cell for the night. Dimly, he could hear Chakotay calling him from the other side, "Tom? Tom! What the hell have they done to you? Tom! Hang in there, Tom." Then Chakotay's voice faded out as the darkness took over him.

Chapter Text

"There is no response to all channels, Captain. The Delta Flyer has disappeared." Seven of Nine reported tersely.

Janeway nodded to acknowledge Seven's words, but had to shake her head with a sigh. "What can possibly have happened to them? When they didn't show up at the rendezvous, I'd have thought that they stayed at the planet. But they never got there. So, where did they go instead?"

Harry piped up with relief in his voice, "There is no debris on scans, Captain."

That got a very brief smile from her, "Well, that's good news. They didn't blow up." She thought a moment then said, "Harry, hail the Ciboeans again. I want to speak to their Traivor again." She waited until Kim had punched in the right buttons and turned to face the screen to speak to the head Ciboean.

He appeared on the screen, blue green skin gleaming, but he smiled genially at the Captain, "What can I do for you, Captain Janeway? I have no further news on your missing crewmates. Please do accept my apology."

Waving her hands, Janeway smiled back and told him, "No apology needed, Traivor Hee'r. I just had a thought. I realize you do not encounter many hostile forces near your planet, but perhaps you know of someone that might have been interested in the Delta Flyer?"

Frowning, and appearing deep in thought, the Traivor tilted his head. At last he spoke, "To tell the truth, I do not know of anyone." But he held up a finger suddenly, "However, maybe it was the Vanishers."

"Vanishers?" asked Janeway puzzledly. She stole a glance automatically at where Chakotay would normally be sitting, and had to catch herself at the empty chair. Snapping her focus back to the screen, she continued, "I'm sorry, who are the Vanishers?"

The Ciboean nodded, "We have a legend around here. I have only half believed it. The Vanisher are supposed to be mysterious people who sometimes appear and take ships and stores, but if you follow them, they will vanish out sight. There seems to be little traces of them, if at all. Some say they are just ghosts. Others that they have some sort of cloaking device. But sightings are so rare that it is more legend than facts."

Janeway hummed, but answered politely, "Thank you. That is interesting. These… Vanishers… is there a general direction they go in, you know, as in the legend?"

"Actually, yes, Captain. It is said they go towards the Dark Star. It's not really a star, but a forbidden region, where once there was a star, but now there is none. We never fly there. Anyone who goes near there, never comes back. I do not recommend you go there, Captain! It is not safe!" The Traivor looked suddenly concerned at his telling the Captain this information. What if she actually went there! He liked her very much, and wished to see no harm come to her or her ship.

The Captain smiled and thanked him again. "It seems worth at least checking out. We'll scan the area very well before we do anything. Thank you for your time, Traivor Hee'r." With that, she gave Harry a nod to end the communication. She had told him the truth. They would go near the coordinates that they'd gotten, and proceed with the utmost caution. If these Vanishers were real, then that meant that it was very possible that Chakotay, Paris, and Neelix were in very real danger.

She sat back in her chair deep in thought. There was always that possibility in the back of her head that perhaps they might not be found, and they'd have to call off the search at some point. Just where that point was… she didn't know, and didn't want to think about it. For now, they had a good place to start, and that made her hopeful for the future. She needed all of her crewmen. And if they'd been kidnapped, well then. It was up to her and Voyager to get them back. That was all there was to it.

As soon as the cell doors opened, Chakotay was inside Tom's in a nanosecond. He ran hands over the beaten body, and worriedly asked, "Hey, Tom? You alright? You gotta get up."

Groaning, Tom forced himself to sit up, wincing at the pain that spiked through his back. "Yeah, I'll live. Help me up?" He reached a hand forward to Chakotay's and cursed under his breath as he stood up, shaking. They had just gotten out of the cell when the guard got there. She gave them a hard look but for once, didn't say anything.

Showering was… not something Paris wanted to remember. It had hurt more than he thought possible, but he'd gritted his teeth and got through it, with Chakotay's help. He forced himself to move and, with a sigh, lined up. He heard "Miranda" and nodded his acknowledgement. Paris paused a bit to hear what Chakotay got, since he had been right behind him.

"Cassandra" was Chakotay's order. He saw Paris snap his head around but shook his head at the younger man. It'll be okay, he mouthed to his friend and shooed him away. A leash snapped onto his own collar and a guard led him away. He wished that he could stay and help Paris, but it seemed like the matriarch wanted him for some reason. He followed the guard, and looked about as he went to the palace. Now he found himself staring into grey eyes once again.

The matriarch took the leash with a smile and looked him over with approval. "Hello, Chakotay. That was your name, right?" At his nod, she continued, "Today, you'll learn about personal slave etiquette. Kneel, slave." She waited until he had disgruntledly knelt without a word, then continued, "I know you have a title on some fancy starship. Titles mean nothing to males. Only females. Your duty is to serve us. And right now, me in particular." She cupped his chin to meet his eyes and studied his face. Cassandra smiled and purred, "You may ask questions. You might as well now rather than later."

Chakotay hesitated, but asked, "I'd like to know how this whole system got started. Why are we human males inferior? Why are there humans here in the first place?"

"All good questions, slave. You're intelligent, I'll give you that," Cassandra nodded. She brushed a thumb over his lips possessively, then explained, "It's always been this way here, but I think you have already guessed, we did not begin here. We came from Earth a very long time ago. My line traces a long way back, a long line of women who believed that men were to be dominated." Again she paused, and asked her own question, "Have you ever heard of a woman, somewhere in the 21st century, named Phoenix? She was instrumental in the black market slave trade. She wasn't the first of course, but the one who expanded that empire exponentially."

Chakotay had always been pretty good with history, finding it interesting. He racked his brains to remember someone named Phoenix. The name somehow seemed familiar. He tried to place the right memories, and looking up again at Cassandra, he asked, "She… her husband Julian? From a mob ring or something like that?"

"Close. His father was from the mob. He had some ties, but yes, you're right," she affirmed.

Great. Just great. From what I remember from my studies, Phoenix was a dangerous bitch in her day. A cruel woman. And it doesn't look much better from here, if this is a direct descendant... "So… you're from her? Way back? How did you get here?"

Chucking as she slipped her hand on his collar, Lady Cassandra told him, "Tsk, I was getting to that. But yes, I am her however many greats-granddaughter. So, Phoenix was driven underground at some point. And she began a literal underground place to live. Think something like that old Earth classic, The City of Ember. Where the whole city was underground? It was similar to that. It was passed along for years, until the last war threatened it. Eventually when space travel came around, the current matriarch, Venus, decided to abandon the Underground. She made it out on a ship with a whole lot of people, including slaves. They traveled along until they found this planet. And we grew from there. Now we do welcome other aliens… we have nothing against them, as long as they respect our ways. And for the most part… they do. But the tricky part is finding us."

Chakotay had been silent throughout this narration. It made perfect sense, scary sense. But now he was puzzled. "Finding you?"

"Yes, finding us. Vordania Prime has a shield around it. A cloaking field, if you will. It makes us incredibly hard to find. So don't hope for that Captain of yours," Cassandra told him with a laugh, knowing exactly where his thoughts were. Now she cued him to stand by pulling up on the collar. "Now that you understand it all, you might as well just settle down to be a slave. For the rest of your life."

The Commander's jaw tensed, but he knew what she wanted. She wanted to destroy his hope. That wasn't going to happen. Katherine was never one to leave people behind if she could help it. She would search. For how long, he wasn't sure. But she would search. And she was smart. So were the crew,, especially Seven. He still had much hope for Voyager to find them.

His attention was brought back to the present situation by a hand down his pants. He bit back a sharp exclamation, knowing it would be pointless, but looked away. He heard her purr, "Lesson one: your body does not belong to you. It belongs to us. We will use it as we will." She squeezed hard, and he struggled not to react. She moved her fingers and caused him both pain and pleasure, but Chakotay did not say anything. It was pointless.

At last Cassandra had enough fun, and taught him other slave tricks, such as how to serve her at meals, follow her in just the right place, kneel in the right spots, and other things. One thing she stressed: "I let you get away with not calling me the proper names during your questions. At the time, it wasn't important. But from now on, you are to call me ma'am, Lady, things like that. Always remember that I am the Matriarch. Never forget that you are a slave. Now, let's move on to the next thing." She spent much of that day with him, and then let him learn with the other women. To his relief, the order was: "Do not touch him down there."

That evening, he was brought to a different section of cells than the one he had been staying in. He looked at the other slaves, and they were all different ones. No one spoke to him. The looks in their eyes was what killed Chakotay. They looked beaten, exhausted, and fearful. Fearful for what the next day would bring. He sat down, wondering what was happening to Tom. And Neelix. He'd forgotten to ask Cassandra that when he had been allowed to ask questions. Sighing, he lay down to sleep as much as he was able to.

All too early, the whips started cracking, and Chakotay jumped awake. He ate quickly and was ready when the doors opened automatically, and fell into the usual morning routine. Except however there was no line up. Chakotay was quickly chosen for the Phantom. Some of the women chose a slave for herself for the day. When that was done, the rest were divvied up to work in the kitchens, cleaning, and other tasks in the palace.

Soon enough, Chakotay found himself in Cassandra's room. He was told by the guard to kneel and await instructions, which he did. He glanced over his shoulder as the guard left and shut the door, then let his gaze fall on the woman on the bed and considered her as she slowly woke up. She really was gorgeous. That black hair and those grey eyes now… he wondered what Phoenix and Julian looked like. Was Cassandra a throwback to either of them? He wished he could look in Voyager's database and find out, but alas, such a thing was impossible right now.

At last, Cassandra sat up and looked at him. She smiled to see the slave, and softly said, "Chakotay. What was the name of your ship again? The little one?"

He looked at her distrustfully, but answered honestly, "The Delta Flyer." He watched to see what she would say about it. She had it, he knew, for that was sorted out at the auction.

Nodding, Cassandra smiled, "Yes, the Delta Flyer. I've had a good look at it. A very nice little ship. Excellent condition. Beautiful lines. Too bad we're not going to keep it that way. It was so tempting." She watched him flick his eyes at her, but wait to see what else she had to say. Continuing, she said, "Soon… when we're done looking it over… we'll get you boys to pull it apart. There are so many things on it we can use. The hull plating alone… fantastic."

The commander had to suck in a breath slightly. If she had the Flyer stripped, then the chances of them escaping would be… drastically reduced. And so far… he hadn't even seen a chance to get away. He'd have to keep a look out for even a remote one, and see if he could take it.

Cassandra studied him, then ordered, "Get up, boy. Go to my closet, pick out some outfits, then when I am in the washroom, make the bed and straighten up the room. Got it?"

Chakotay nodded and struggled up. He still wasn't used to the shackles, but made his way to the closet. He picked out three outfits at random and laid them out, watching the Phantom out of the corner of his eye. She observed him, then slipped out of bed and went to the other door in her room, where he assumed her washroom was. He had finished with his tasks when she came out in a housecoat.

She looked across at the outfits, and chose one. Then a predatorial look came into her eye as she gazed at Chakotay, "You're so tempting boy. I should take you here and now. Make you scream, boy." She came over and put her hand under his shirt and felt the muscular frame, licking her lips in want.

Giving a hard swallow, Chakotay waited to see what she would do next. Would she take him to that bed? Would she really do it? He couldn't help a slight quiver of his muscles as she ran her hand over his chest. Giggling lightly, the Phantom leaned in and kissed him, hard. It was an aggressive, claiming kiss. One that she did not expect returned. Panting lightly after that, she smiled at him, then ordered, "Turn around, boy. Kneel. I'm going to get dressed."

He promptly did as asked, feeling a bit relieved that Cassandra wouldn't do… that... to him right now. It would be too much to hope for that it would never happen, yet, he did. All too soon, Cassandra was ready. She told him to "tend to her", and by now Chakotay knew to follow along. He knelt by Cassandra's side as she sat at the table, and waited for the other slaves to serve her. Suddenly, he perked up as he heard a very familiar voice.

"Yes, ma'am! I I sincerely hope you like my little creation. I think it's delicious! But I know humans sometimes… have strange tastes."

Cassandra laughed at Neelix who plunked down an interesting looking dish in front of her. She peered at it and asked in puzzlement, "What… exactly… is this?"

Neelix grinned cheerfully and announced, "Jibalian Seven Spice Omelette! It took me a very long time to perfect that recipe. It's quite wonderful, if I do say so myself. It's made with Eskarian eggs, Spith basil, prishic, thriv, ekky berry, thunder lily, pepper, and Nimian sea salt. By the way, this is a particular favorite with the captain." After that little spiel, he sat down, purposely not looking at the man beside Cassandra. He'd been uncomfortable to learn about Vordania Prime's slaves, but knew there was nothing he could do about it. He'd tried to ask about Paris and Chakotay, but no one would tell him.

The Phantom looked from her dish to Neelix who was already eating his own food, and back to her dish again. Despite the fact that Neelix hadn't noticed him yet, Chakotay had to inwardly snort. He'd had that very same look on his own face when about to eat one of Neelix's new creations. It was amusing to see it on someone else. The soft snort escaped him before he could stop it.

Neelix looked up at the snort and pricked his ears. That had sounded familiar. He peered around him to see where that had come from. Then his eyes landed on the slave kneeling on the ground besides Cassandra. He jerked with surprise at the familiar facial tattoo. This wasn't a slave! "Chakotay?" Neelix exclaimed in disbelief.

Cassandra looked at the slave, who had given a quick shake of his head to not start anything. She smiled at Neelix and told him, "Yes. I'd forgotten. One of your crewmates, wasn't he?"

The Talaxian looked at her with shock in his voice, "You… you can't do that to him! He's not a slave! He's the Commander." He was just that to Neelix. He couldn't be anything else. He was a good man, and a good friend. To see him like this, collared and kneeling… horrified him.

A laugh from Cassandra, and she told him, "I can, and I did. I paid plenty of money for him and the other one… Tom Paris. Oh, yes. He's still learning his place here. But so far…" here she cupped Chakotay's chin, "He's quite delightful." Dismissing the slave at her feet, she complimented Neelix. "This… Jimbalian Seven Spice Omelette… I have to say, Neelix… it's really rather good."

Blinking at the sudden change in topic, Neelix was still stuck on Chakotay… and Paris too… as slaves. "Wha… I… oh. Yes, I'm glad you like my food. But…" he looked again at Chakotay, "He's not a slave, Lady Cassandra. Ma'am. He's not. He's my friend. So is Tom Paris. What have you done to him?"

"Oh, Neelix. You don't understand," she sighed. The new alien had intrigued her. He'd refused to take a slave. Insisted on doing everything himself. Even demanded that he have the kitchen to himself while cooking. Not even a boy to help him. "This is how it is. Human males are our slaves. They are human males. Therefore, fair game. As for Paris, I'm not sure. Probably out in the fields or at the Miranda. But it doesn't matter. Thank you for making breakfast for me." She ended the conversation by eating her last bite and standing up.

Neelix watched her go, Chakotay trailing behind with a look at him. He decided then and there he was going to find Tom. See what happened to him. Leaving the dishes for… he couldn't help the shudder… the kitchen slaves, he walked hurriedly outside. Asking the closest woman, he queried, "Where can I find a specific slave, ma'am?"

She pointed at an important looking woman who had a pad in her hand and was reading it. He went over to that one and asked the same question. The woman looked at him curiously, but shrugged, "Which one you looking for, Talaxian?"

"A man named Tom Paris. The Phantom said he was likely in the fields or in the big ship." He'd seen Miranda from a distance and had admired it. Though he'd turned cold when he found out about the Miranda men stripping her from the inside out. How awful for them. Neelix snapped his attention back to the woman's harsh, "He's in the Miranda. Section Eight."

Thanking her profusely, Neelix hurried away to that field where the ships lay. The largest, Miranda, loomed over him as he approached it. He asked directions for Section Eight, and made his winding way there, passing men working hard, and the women walking about with either a whip or a cane in hand. He couldn't think about that right now, and finally found Section Eight.

He picked out Paris right away, straining away at a metal post. Neelix noted immediately the sweat covered body, the heaving pants, the blood that stained the back of his shirt a bit, and the desperate effort he was putting into his work. Neelix was about to rush over there when a guard marched to Paris instead. She looked him over for a moment, watching him try to move the post, decided he wasn't trying hard enough, and cracked her whp on him twice, fairly hard.

"Stop!" A shout rang out in horror. Everyone, guards and slaves, stopped in surprise to turn at the Talaxian who was standing there. Neelix ignored them for once, and furiously snapped, "You can't do that to him! You can't! You stop that or I'll.. I'll…"

"You'll what?" The guard snapped back as she crossed her arms. She glared at the other slaves, who all suddenly remembered their tasks again. Paris, however, took advantage of this unexpected break, and studied Neelix in gladness to see his friend again. Maybe he was getting out of this hellhole. The woman growled again and told the alien, "I can do what I want. He's not working hard enough! He's a lazy asshole who's way too talkative and hasn't learned his place yet. You don't get to have a say."

"But beating him to death isn't going to help!" Neelix argued. He watched as her hand slipped to Paris' shoulder possessively. She yanked the still panting man to his feet and watched Neelix very carefully.

She purred, "I am hardly beating him to death. And even if I was, it is none of your business." As she spoke, she ran her hand over Paris' back, making him wince. "Now, unless you have something to do here, I'd suggest you leave. Go bother someone else, Talaxian."

Paris sighed softly. He'd been hoping. But Neelix wouldn't be able to do anything, would he? It wasn't fair. And Gracen was running those long fingers into his welts! He had already learned she liked to see the slaves in pain. He wished she'd stop. He saw Neelix huff, but know when he was beaten. The soft question, "Where can I find him later, to talk?"

Gracen smirked, then told Neelix the location of Paris' cell. The man locked eyes with Neelix for a quick moment, before the other walked away in defeat. Tom was already looking forward to that. Neelix would come. And maybe he'd find out what happened to Chakotay. He hadn't come back. He hoped the Commander was okay.

His mind jerked back to reality with a hot slash of pain across his back again. He started to bend to his work again but was stopped with a "Wait, boy. Stand for a moment." Paris stood, eyes to the ground, not wanting to meet the guard's eyes. A warm soft hand trailed down chest, then to the top of his pants. Paris sucked in a breath as it disappeared underneath, and he grunted with jaws locked as what she did was painful. She squeezed him, hard, then the other hand cupped his chin. Cold eyes met his own, and the lips moved to say, "You'd better damn well move this post without help. Or…" a hard squeeze, making him wince, "Or I will take the cane to you right…" another squeeze... "there."

Oh no. That couldn't happen. But he knew she was dead serious. Nodding his assent, Tom threw himself at the post as soon as she'd let go of him. He grunted and panted, feet sliding for traction on the hard floor. He heard a step closer to him, and panicked, shoving at the post as hard as he could. It started to move, slowly. He pushed again, breath coming in rasps, and it slid out more. One more Herculean effort, and it was done. Tom collapsed on the freed post, panting for all he was worth. A soft voice and a rub on his still very much sore back, "Good boy." Then the footsteps retreated away.

Chapter Text

Tom staggered back to his cell, and collapsed on the floor. He was tired. So tired. So tired he could barely find the energy to eat his dish of slops. But he knew he had to… to get the energy to get through tomorrow. His legs trembled with exhaustion, and his back still stung from the lashes he'd gotten earlier. At least he'd seen Neelix, and knew that he was okay. The Talaxian looked like he'd fallen in to the lap of luxury. The women seemed to like aliens.. well, good for Neelix. Paris was happy that Neelix was getting along okay. Now if only he knew about Chakotay…. He was worried about his shipmate, but there was nothing he could do right now.

He looked up as the guard kicked him away from his half-eaten bowl. "Not hungry, boy? Too bad then!" She scooped it up and clanged the cell door shut, and Tom could only watch as she walked away with his dinner. She checked the other doors, ensuring that the slaves were inside and locked properly. The footsteps retreated, and Tom shut his eyes. Dammit, he was still hungry! He'd eat faster next time. Now it was time to rest. Time to see if he could sleep at all before the terrible routine started again in the morning.

It was about an hour later when soft footsteps came, and almost every slave was on the alert. They knew only one thing that merited a visit "after hours". A woman seeking sex. And that, to them, was a terrible thing. But the face that appeared at Tom's door was not a female human, but that of a Talaxian male.

"Tom? There you are! I've been looking all over for you… I got turned around a bit lost, but… hey, are you okay?" Neelix asked in sudden concern at the look of Paris.

Paris saw the slaves settle down, relieved that it was a friendly person. He looked up into Neelix's eyes and forced a smile, "Yeah, I'm fine. Chakotay? Have you seen him? He was taken away a few days ago, and I'm worried about him…" he trailed off, hoping the answer wasn't bad.

"Yes, I have seen him. He's… ah… Lady Cassandra's slave. She had him with her at breakfast this morning," Neelix replied while watching Tom's every move, trying to determine just how hurt he was.

Tom sharpened his expression and his breath hitched slightly, "He's… her… Neelix, has he been…?" He didn't know why he was even asking. There was nothing he could do about it from here, but he hoped fervently that Chakotay hadn't been… he couldn't even think of the word. It was too terrible.

The honest answer, "I don't know. I don't think so. I hope not." Neelix rubbed his hands together worriedly. He'd heard what the women did for pleasure, and it didn't sound nice. At all. But now he asked, "Have you… uh…"

"No," was Tom's quick reply, snapping unfairly at Neelix. Then he sighed, and apologetically added, "No, I haven't. I've been touched a few times, but nothing I can't handle."

Neelix nodded, trusting Tom to tell the truth. His heart longed to free them both. To free all the men he saw here. He watched Paris change position, and noted the same chain around his ankles that Chakotay wore. It seemed to him the newer slaves… and the ones that couldn't be trusted… wore them. "Okay," was his soft statement. He sighed deeply, unsure of what to do now. He told Tom, "I haven't been able to get anywhere near our stuff. And they won't tell me a thing about it." He huffed to no one in particular but promised him, "I'll keep trying though. That I assure you." He had a determined look in his eyes as he looked down at Tom. But then the expression softened, "How can I help you in there? Is there a way in?"

"I doubt it," Tom replied as he looked at the solid bars that separated him from Neelix. "Likely you would have to ask a guard. And I think they're off duty. And I don't think you'd be allowed anyway." He sighed but gave a grateful smile, "It's okay. Thanks for stopping by. There's nothing you can really do. Except get information."

Nodding, but trying the bars anyway, Neelix tried to rattle them. They were more solid than they looked and held firm. "Right, okay. Okay! I can do that… get more information. Certainly can," he said in a rush, nervously. That would mean making better friends with Cassandra, probably. Would she allow that? She was the top boss around here it seemed. But it also was the only way. He'd do what he could. Yup, he would.

Wincing slightly as he sat up better, Paris watched his friend and told him, "See if you can find out what happened to the Flyer. Maybe it's…. not… taken apart. Poke around to see if you can find our things. And find out where the hell we are." He reached a hand forward through the bars, and Neelix grabbed onto it firmly.

The Talaxian squeezed his hand comfortingly, and promised him with a serious voice that he did not often use, "I promise, Tom. I promise I'll get something. And I'll get you out of here. I promise." Giving another firm squeeze, Neelix decided he'd better go. Let the man have some rest. And the other slaves too, by the looks of them. He hadn't meant to disturb them all. So he gave an encouraging nod to his friend and left quietly.

The next morning found Chakotay in the kitchens. He'd been kicked out out his cell early, far earlier than the others, and he was uncertain what was happening now. But it turned out he was on slop duty. This meant that he loaded up his cart with bowls of slop, and had to go visit his assigned cell blocks and dish out the breakfast to the slaves. Then turn around and take the bowls again.

He hated this job. The guards were always watching, and sometimes if they decided a slave was taking too long to eat, she'd kick him away from his bowl and take it. He'd have to get the unfinished meal and place it on his cart and move on. There were a few cells where the sign said "No food", and even if the slave looked desperately hungry, Chakotay had to move on. There was no opportunity to even slip them anything. At one point, he stopped paying close attention. Then an awfully familiar voice called, "Chak?"

Looking at the slave, Chakotay suddenly realized that this was Paris. "Tom!" he exclaimed. He immediately ran his eyes over the young man. He looked more or less okay. A bit rough perhaps, but not unexpected in a place like this. "You alright, man?"

"Yeah," Paris smiled at him in relief. He was so glad to see the Commander again. To have that bit of normalcy and someone familiar. "You?"

Nodding in equal relief, Chakotay replied, "I am. I've been with the Phantom, but it's been alright." He would have said more when a sharp voice jerked him back to reality.

"Why did you stop, boy?" The guard marched over with a hard look in her eye. Chakotay quickly lied, "Sorry, just almost dropped this." He shoved the bowl at Paris and prepared to move on. But his collar was grabbed and he was unmercifully slammed against the bars, staring into blazing eyes.

"You are not to stop a task. For anything." She snapped at him, then slid her eyes over to the slave in the cell, who had frozen to the spot. "I know him. He's a troublemaker. And you are stopping to talk to him? I'll teach you a lesson about that!" With that, Chakotay found himself spun around to face Paris. He instinctively grabbed at the bars, knowing what was coming would hurt. Thankfully she used a cane, not a whip, but he couldn't help the flinch every time it struck his back. Chakotay just gritted his teeth and shut his eyes. Finally the guard stopped the beating, and sharply told him, "Get going, boy."

Giving her a quick nod in apology, Chakotay gave one more glance at Tom before moving off hurriedly. His back smarted, but he said nothing. He only hoped he didn't get Tom in trouble for stopping. It was a foolish thing to do, when they both knew how tough the guards were with that kind of thing. He looked over his shoulder, saw the guard was still watching him, and her hand gripping the cane was more than enough warning.

Tom sighed as the guard remained where she was, and he bolted down his food, afraid that she'd come in and take it from him. He hated the stuff, would eat anything of Neelix's over this, but he wasn't stupid. It was food. And it apparently was supposed to be nutritious. Tom pushed the bowl through provided opening and then scampered to the back of the cell and watched the guard. She was still standing there. Why, he didn't know. But it was unnerving.

Nevertheless, Tom was quick to get up and going as soon as the door swung open. As tough as it was, he hoped to go back to Miranda. Even though they were tearing the place apart, it still held familiarity for him. It was still a spaceship. Being there gave him hope. Hope that this nightmare would end. Although he had a bad feeling that things would get worse before they got better.

Chakotay had finished with his assigned task and now was waiting where he'd been told to stand. There was a guard in the hallway, and it would be dumb to try and leave now. He would seek out a different opportunity, when he had a chance to have a better look around. Besides, the Phantom would come and pick him up when she was ready. A deep groan attracted his attention, and he looked around. Now Chakotay noticed a man nearby, chained to the wall. Recognition flickered across the Commander's face as he asked, "Mitch? You okay? You don't look so good."

Mitch looked up at the tattooed man, and shook his head, "I'm fine. It's okay. Only expected."

"What's that?" Chakotay asked in some confusion. What was "expected"?

The slave sighed, shifted his feet where he stood chained to the wall. "I meant what happened. The Phantom had me, you know."

Blinking at this bit of information, Chakotay slowly replied, "So… she had you for… intimacy?"

Wincing at the memories and the current pain he was in, Mitch nodded. "Yeah. And her Ladyship is… well… not exactly nice. You've heard of the serum." He waited to see the other man's nod, and continued, "Yeah. She does that. She takes you hard, and it doesn't matter how much it hurts, how much you scream or beg, she'll take you over and over again." He sighed and shook his head. He hated the helpless feeling when he was with her. How she took advantage of him. How low he was in her eyes… to be only used as a toy and nothing else.

Chakotay studied the slave and quietly asked, "How long does it hurt for?"

Mitch was honest, "Depends on how much she gave you. And how long she fucked you for. I think I'll be sore for the rest of the day. A bit tender tomorrow, but otherwise, it should be okay. As long as…" he trailed off fearfully.

It turned out his fears were not unfounded. Vanessa, one of the women who lived in the palace, came over at that moment. She purred as she ran her hands over Mitch's chest. "I hear you had a good time with the Phantom. And it's my turn, eh?"

Chakotay could not ignore the look of fear that crossed Mitch's face. He watched as Vanessa unchained the slave, and passed a hand between his legs. Mitch had a sharp inhale and a wince at her touch, but he followed her into the bedroom. The Commander felt absolutely helpless and disgusted at that. He wished to help, but knew at this moment, he couldn't. He was only thankful he was called away before the noises got too loud.

Captain Janeway sighed again for the umpteenth time. She poured over the star maps that Seven had sent to her pad. The Vanishers… this seemed odd. And the Dark Star region, according to scans, appeared fine so far. No weird anomalies. No strange gravitational pulls. No M-class planets so far. They had seen a K-class one, but no life on it. So Voyager forged onwards. Surprisingly enough, for the busyness around Cibophus, there were no other ships this way. Not one. It seemed that the Dark Star region was something that everyone avoided.

She double checked the stores list. Things seemed alright, so they shouldn't need to stop for sometime for replenishing. Ensign Daveon was doing alright in the kitchen, replacing Neelix. She sighed… he couldn't replace Neelix's coffee though. She felt the loss off her officers deeply. Neelix was much missed for his cheerfulness, and Janeway smiled at the thought of the the "morale officer" taking his job so seriously. Tom Paris now… again she sighed. He was a troublemaker, but a very good officer for all that. And the best damn pilot she had ever seen in her life.

Now her thoughts turned to Chakotay. Chakotay, the Marquis officer who had become more than just an "First Officer". He had become her best friend during this voyage. She trusted him with her life, and had at times, put her life in his hands. And vice versa. She needed him here with her to help them get the crew home. Where were they all? Were they safe? Dead?

No. Janeway sat up straighter and shut that part of her brain off. She refused to think that they could possibly be dead. She rejected any thought along that line. They had to be alive somewhere. They had just… vanished… somewhere. The Vanishers were well named, if that's who took them.

That made her think of some of the theories that had floated around regarding these "Vanishers". She, along with Seven of Nine and Tuvok, agreed that the most likely scenario was that these people had cloaking devices. It didn't really explain the lack of trails, but perhaps they had something to cover that. They'd come across such technology before. And the next question was: why? Why would they take the Delta Flyer and the men on her? It was still a mystery, but Janeway had a gut feeling that they were all alive somewhere.

She sighed and walked out of her ready room back to the captain's chair, ignoring Tuvok's "Captain on deck" intone. Glancing at the empty seat beside her, she asked Ensign Kim, "Anything on scans?"

The young man looked up at the screen and shook his head. "No, nothing of interest, Captain." He was about to shrug when his board lit up. "Hold on, there's something there." Looking over at Janeway, Kim announced with some surprise, "There's a ship on sensors."

"A ship?" Janeway repeated with her own surprise. It'd be the first vessel they'd seen since they entered this region of space. She snapped her eyes to the viewscreen and immediately ordered, "On screen."

Kim replied, "It's still a little far away, but this is the best we can do." He flicked the screen on, and the crew found themselves peering at a distant ship. It didn't seem to look like anything they recognized, but then again, they had come across a slew of alien species that they didn't know.

"Seven?" Janeway asked as soon as she had a good look at the ship.

The Borg raised an eyebrow and answered, "Captain, this is… interesting. The warp signatures do not match anything in the database. However… the ship does."

That got everyone to look at her with puzzlement on their faces. Seven of Nine continued her explanation, "The hull is made from Starfleet material. The weapons are Klingon. I'm also seeing Vidiian, Romulan, Hirogen, and other species here."

Harry was the first to speak, "So… are you saying this ship is made of parts of other ships?"

At Seven's nod, Janeway sighed. Was this a Vanisher? "Hail them," she commanded. Standing up, she began her spiel, "This is Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager. We are on a peaceful mission. Please identif-" her words were cut off off as Seven urgently said, "Captain, there are four ships that have decloaked and are tracking us."

The Captain inhaled and tried again, "We see your ships. I repeat, we are on a peaceful mission. We only wish to ask a few question." She would have said more when Tuvok now told her, "Captain, they are charging weapons."

Clearly, talking wasn't going to work. "Red alert," Janeway sighed as she plunked herself back into her chair. There had been no responses to hails. She gripped the arm of her chair as the lead ship fired.

Tuvok informed her, "Shields are at one hundred percent. No effect." Again the ship shuddered a little as another ship fired at them, but there was no damage taken.

Janeway thought this was a little fishy. According to scan, the ships' weapons should be able to damage them a bit. So, why were they taking potshots? Perhaps they were merely testing Voyager's mettle. See if she was trigger happy or not. Janeway told her crew to hold their fire, and not react to the shots they were getting. Tuvok now told her, "Captain, we are being scanned."

"Let them scan. Maybe they'll see we are not going to harm them, but we can fight back if necessary," Janeway answered with a determined nod. She waited to see what would happen next. The four ships… no, five… the first one they saw had come to life… moved slowly and circled around Voyager. She saw them charge up weapons again, and once more held on to her seat as the ship shook from the volley of weapons fire from all five at once.

This was getting ridiculous, "Tuvok, phasers. Let them have a taste of their medicine."

The Vulcan immediately obeyed orders, but told her, "Shields are down to 90%." He fired back at the lead ship, which spat out more fire at them. There were more weapons fire from the other four who dodged and banked around Voyager's weapons. The larger ship shook and trembled under the assault. The Captain shook her head at the report of "Shields down to 74%" and sighed, "No more pot shots. Fire back and see if you can take out the lead ship."

However, Voyager didn't get a chance to. Suddenly the ships broke off their attack after one more strong volley, and scattered in all directions. Then they all vanished from sensors altogether.

Janeway was surprised, as was everyone else. "Harry? Seven?" she asked as she kept her eyes on the viewscreen. Harry was quick to reply, "Nothing on sensors. They just… disappeared. And they all went in different directions. And there's nothing to be tracked." He looked up at Seven of Nine who immediately confirmed that, "He is correct, Captain. They have, indeed, vanished."

"The Vanishers." Janeway stated. Huh. So, they did exist. But who the hell were they?! They had learned practically nothing other than they did use cloaks, used a mishmash of other species' ships, but who were they really? Well, Janeway decided. There was nothing for it. And only one way to go.


Chapter Text

Chakotay eyed the back of the Phantom as she walked to the Miranda. He had spent the last few days trading off with Mitch to tend to Lady Cassandra. He knew she had a cruel streak in her, but so far, he'd had it okay. The most she had done to him was slap his face when he forgot to say "Ma'am" or "Lady". He'd learned by now to say it. Though he had a feeling the hammer would fall at some point.

Cassandra wandered through the now derelict ship, running her hands over this and that. The slaves would glance her way nervously but then focus back to their designated tasks. Cassandra would stop now and then to look about and observe the slaves. Finally they stopped in a large room that had barely been touched, and she turned to Chakotay, "What did they use this room for?"

He looked around too and quietly said, "This was the briefing room. Where the Captain would have meetings with his head officers." He thought back to Voyager, and wondered, not for the first time, where the hell they were. But best he play along with the Matriarch and see if they could escape at some point.

"The briefing room? I see," Cassandra mused as she walked to the window. "One would have had a good view from here. Does Voyager have a… briefing room?"

Chakotay sighed and watched the woman carefully. Finally he answered, "Yes, it does." He didn't want to say much more about his ship, but figured that this little tidbit would be harmless. Now he waited to see what she might want next.

Cassandra turned around and smiled at him. Cocking her head, she asked this time, "Your Captain. Tell me about her."

This was going a bit far. Chakotay started into the grey eyes that seemed cold and piercing. Shaking his head, the man replied, "No, Lady Cassandra. I won't talk about her."

Surprised at this refusal, the Phantom cocked her head the other way. "Really? I was only merely interested in hearing of a female Captain." She narrowed her eyes at him, and sharply said, "I thought you learned with your crewmate to never say no."

That made Chakotay's breath hitch, but he shook his head again, apologizing, "I'm sorry, ma'am. But I can't." He winced at the stinging slap he got, and knew without looking that she was angry. But he couldn't. He didn't want Cassandra anywhere near Kathryn, even if it was only in thought. He wanted to keep Voyager far away from here.

"Slave," the Matriarch snapped at him. She stepped forward and hissed at him, "You think if you don't tell me anything, you keep her safe, and your ship, is that it?" She grabbed him by the collar and smiled wolfishly, "I can tell you already that there is a ship in the Dark Star region. A big one. As big as Miranda."

Chakotay stared at her now, trying not to give away any of his feelings. He had an idea that Voldaria Prime did not get many "visitors". And he also suspected exactly what ship that would be if there was a "big" one here. Voyager. Keeping his voice level he merely answered, "I see."

Smirking, Cassandra let go of the collar and ran her hands down his frame, appreciating the muscles she found there. Spinning around suddenly, she walked away, only gesturing for him to come with her. She'd seen the brief flash of dread in her slave's eyes at the mention of the other ship. Good. Perhaps he would obey better.

They walked through the ship, and Chakotay noted Mitch and Paris working alongside each other. Each man gave him a glance and a brief nod, but didn't dare do anything more with the Phantom so close. Paris did see a shudder run through Mitch when the woman stopped close behind him, but he was helpless at the moment. He just knew to keep working and no one would get in trouble.

Finally Cassandra moved on, enjoying seeing the nervous looks the slaves gave her. She liked keeping them on their toes. Then she went to the closest field to inspect the workers there, making sure Chakotay was close on her heels. After exchanging pleasantries with the nearest guard, Cassandra let her eyes roam on the slaves as they bent to their work. All seemed to be running smoothly. Good. The town she would visit later. Now she glanced back at her newest slave, who was observing his surroundings carefully. Time to do something with him. She walked slowly back to her home.

She cheerfully spoke to one of the women, who wished her advice about something. Chakotay wasn't paying attention, for he was trying to memorize their location. He took in the tall pillars, the shiny floors, the hallway that he could see from here and made another mental note that it was her receiving room. He supposed it could be likened to the briefing room, except he knew that there was a prominent chair where the Matriarch sat for important meetings.

Chakotay was deep in thought when he suddenly felt a hand on his collar and snapped his eyes to meet cold grey ones. There was a certain look in them that he did not like. They were… hungry. He suddenly felt chilled and nervous, but did not react. Cassandra leaned in and whispered in his ear, "You better behave, or the other one will get in trouble. And you won't like what I might do to him."

The Commander resisted the urge to flinch, but he allowed himself to be led upstairs. He looked around hesitantly as he entered the Phantom's room, and then it hit him, what was going to happen. He spun around, even with the shackles, and snapped, "You are not going to do this to me."

Cassandra raised an eyebrow but met his blazing eyes with a steel look. "You forget, boy, you are the slave here. You will do as I say. Get on the bed, slave."

Chakotay locked his jaw. His principles were screaming at him. This wasn't right. Not one bit. If she had asked nicely, had treated him like an equal, he would have considered it. She was amazingly beautiful, and he could have seen himself having a good time with her. But here… like this. No. No, he couldn't do that. Not trusting his voice, Chakotay could only shake his head.

Fury bloomed on Cassandra's face. "Get on that damn bed. Now." She watched to see what the slave would do next. The fire was still in his eyes, and while she very much liked that, he needed to know his place. And this is how she taught them. That they were slaves, and their bodies were not their own. Normally she might have beaten them, but in the case with high ranking officers, she'd found that this way worked best.

Chakotay met glare for glare, and shook his head again. When she came after him, Chakotay went to shove her away. He pushed her hard, and in the very act, electricity arched through his body. He fell with a scream as pain coursed through him. When it finally died, Chakotay lay panting. What the hell had just happened?

The woman had staggered backwards a step, but she was soon in balance again. She stared at him, anger still in her face. When he looked up at her, Cassandra explained harshly, "That collar is not just a collar, you know. You get shocked when you do a forbidden action."

Still panting, Chakotay uncurled his body, and collected his scattered wits. When that collar had shocked him… it had been one of the most painful experiences of his life. Though he did ask, "Forbidden?"

"Yes," she said. "Let me show you." She took one of his hands, and Chakotay braced for the pain. But it didn't come, and he relaxed very slightly. "Good. Now take my other hand." He did, and it was okay. Next she said, "Now squeeze it like you're going to give me a firm handshake. Then squeeze it really hard like you're going to hurt me."

Chakotay stared at the hand in his. It was a very pretty hand. But he decided to test the system. He shook her hand like he would one of his crew mates. She seemed oddly uncomfortable with that, and he guessed it was a man doing such a familiar gesture. Thus encouraged, Chakotay started to squeeze her hand. He did it hard and fast, to make it quick, and the next second he was writhing on the floor from the pain of the collar.

When it had passed, Cassandra asked firmly, "Do you understand now?"

Gasping as he sat up again, Chakotay looked at her. "" He was stuttering, to his shame, trying to get a handle of his body again.

Smiling now, the Phantom cocked her head and explained, "Any time you try to harm a female, or to yourself, you will get shocked. Oh, and if you try to kill another slave, it will shock both of you. We've had that happen in the past, and had to rework the system."

Chakotay had to think about that, and it seemed that she was giving him the chance to process it. That meant fighting back was out of the question. He'd end up on the floor. Harming oneself… did she mean suicide? So they couldn't do that. Or kill another. The thought popped into his head: What about trying to escape? Oh hell. This would be bad. But again, he was calmly determined. He'd still try. He would sure as hell try to leave this stupid planet.

But now he had another situation to face. He felt the hand on his collar again, pulling him up, and guiding him to the bed again. He looked at it, and took it in. It was a comfortable bed, but he could see the chains permanently attached to the head and footboard. Anger flashed through him at what he needed to do, but he still remembered the shocks. Again the command, "Get on the bed, boy. Facing up."

Chakotay mentally ran through his options. He wouldn't be able to fight her without being disabled. That shock was dreadful. What if he turned and ran? This Chakotay actually did try to do, but the Phantom must have been expecting this, and promptly put a foot on his shackles, bringing the big man down once again. The harsh snap, "Don't make me ask you again."

Blowing out a long breath, Chakotay looked at the door. It looked like a mile away from here, and trying to escape now was useless. And he knew at that moment, he was beaten. He'd have to do this for now. Get through it. Then assess later how the hell this stupid collar worked. Reluctantly, Chakotay got up, gave Cassandra one more look, then climbed onto the bed, face up, just as she asked.

He watched as she promptly chained him to the bed by his hands, and then worked on his feet, removing the shackles to allow him to spread his legs. She purred as he was secured, then stripped. Holding his breath as the knife cut through his clothes, Chakotay waited to see if she would cut him, but she didn't. Hands ran over his body, and he closed his eyes. A slight hiss of a hypo made him open his eyes again in confusion. Cassandra grinned down at him and waited for the effects of the serum. She purred softly, "If you had behaved, you would have had it nice the first time with me. As it was, you said no...twice. Tried to run away. Pushed me. You don't deserve nice. You're going to get it for a good long while." When she saw him wince with her touch, she knew he was ready and climbed on.

Chakotay knew it was going to hurt. He could already feel the waves of pain and gritted his teeth, taking hold of the chains with his hands, what he could reach of them, and held them in a tight grip. He shut his eyes as he felt her on him. He couldn't help the moan as he felt the pain taking over him.

Mitch came later to Chakotay's cell and sighed as he sat on the floor by the crumpled man. He had just a little bit of free time as a reward for being quick with his work today, but he knew what was going to happen with Chakotay. And he knew the new man might need a friendly face. He looked through the bars and watched Chakotay. Softly he said, "I'm not going to ask if you're okay. Just wanted you to know I'm here. I get it. I know what it's like."

Grunting, Chakotay forced himself to sit up and look at the brown- haired man. "Yeah?" He winced as he sat against the side closest to Mitch. Looking around a bit, he saw that the others still were not back. They were alone, for now.

"Why?" was his only question.

Mitch blew out a breath, and quietly answered, "Because she can. She breaks the men that way. And she does it most to guys like us. We're both first officers. Did you get shocked?"

Snapping his eyes to Mitch, the Commander nodded, "Yeah, I did. I didn't know about that before."

Shaking his head, Mitch replied, "No, it's not talked about much. It seems to be taboo around here. Why, I have no idea. But there it is. I cursed her out good the first time she wanted to … what happened to me. Got her pissed. But the collar only shocked me when I tried to attack her. That went... as well as you think. Me being dumb, I kept trying. It was just.. just.." he trailed off as the memories flooded him. "It's just been hard."

Chakotay softly asked, "How… how did you get captured?" He grunted as he shifted position. He still hurt a lot down there, but it wasn't as bad as the actual deed. Pushing that thought out of his head, and the feeling of being dirty and vulnerable, he turned to look at the other slave.

Mitch shot him a sympathetic look, for he was all too familiar with what he was feeling. He had screamed under the Phantom enough. And others. But mostly her, for he was a favourite of hers. And one of her personal slaves, even if she did kick him out to the fields sometimes. Or to Miranda… to remind him of where he came from. However, the guy did deserve a response. Mitch sighed deeply as he thought. "I'd been under Captain Irwin for five years. Miranda was a fairly new ship. We got caught in a wormhole too, but not as far as you guys. It wasn't so bad. Then we came through here, the Dark Star region. Our ship was attacked by a lot of small ships, then we were scanned. After that happened, we were pummelled. Absolutely pummelled. Captain Irwin tried to get us out of there, but we lost one of our engines in the shitstorm. Then they were able to get tractor beams on Miranda, and no matter what we did, we couldn't shake them. The moment of surrender was... " Mitch trailed off. That had been a hard day.

"What happened to everyone?" was Chakotay's question. But he added, "You don't have to answer." It was obvious something terrible had happened. He remembered the first time he had met Mitch. He'd mentioned something about the captain getting killed.

Mitch closed his eyes for a moment, then looked again at the Commander. "I was First Officer. So I was there… I saw it all." He paused, and explained in a quiet voice, "Ben… the Captain… he had so much fire in him. The Phantom was on one of the ships. She came, beamed herself to the bridge with women around her. She shielded the Bridge somehow, so no one else could get into it. She… forced Captain Irwin to strip and kneel to her. He… wouldn't. She beat him. In front of us. And still made him do it. She… abused him in front of us. No, she didn't actually… uh, rape him. But she hurt him badly in his… yeah. When they brought the ship here… she took him for her personal slave. He fought her so much. I don't know how many times he got shocked, but he did. And… what she did to him… I don't like to think about it." Mitch blew out another breath and looked at his hands, noting the scarred wrists. "She took him to bed so many times. Flogged him, beat him, the works. I was there when he died under the lash. And there was not a damn thing I could do. I tried to get him to take it easy with the women, but…"

He bit his lower lip, and continued, "It was hard after he was gone. All her attention turned to me instead, and I got the brunt of it. Still very much do. I think, unfortunately, you'll be her new favourite, but I'll help where I can." He nodded at Chakotay with a faint smile, but the pain was evident in his eyes.

Chakotay studied him for a good minute. He thought about everything Mitch had told him. The man wasn't telling him everything, and he understood. Not everything was connecting in his head though. There was something else that didn't match up. He laid out the thoughts. Miranda had been lost. The Phantom had found her. Had taken the ship in battle. Had brought it to Vordania Prime. Enslaved the men. So that meant… Chakotay blurted out his thoughts, "What… what happened to… the women?"

The look that Mitch shot him was dark and unreadable. He shook his head, stood up, brushed himself off, and said, "I gotta go. I've been here long enough, and I'll get in trouble if I'm unaccounted for." He cocked his head slightly at the surprised look on Chakotay's face and softly said, "It's hard but try to relax. You'll get a better rest if you spread your legs as wide as you can and slouch on the wall." He turned around and walked away quickly before Chakotay could say anything.

Chakotay stared after him. Something had happened to the women, alright. But what? Were they all dead? Were they living here? He needed to know… but Mitch wasn't going to tell him now. He grunted as he changed his position to what Mitch had recommended and willed himself to relax. From what he'd heard, even if he was still sore, he'd be expected to work tomorrow. He hoped to hell he wasn't in the fields. Just thought of all that bending over and walking about made him feel sick.

Another thought crossed his mind. Mitch said he was the new favourite of Lady Cassandra. DiId that mean there was more of this to come? Chakotay shut off that thought. He'd deal with it when it came. Not before. He would drive himself nuts with too much thought beforehand.

The one last thing he thought of before he started to doze fitfully was how much he hoped Paris would never know this pain. And that Voyager would stay far away, if it was this dangerous to Mitch's ship. He had no wish to see Voyager stripped naked… like he was.

Chapter Text

Neelix wandered through the palace. It was the best description of it, for it was large. He knew by now that the Phantom wasn't the only one who lived in it… she had her advisors as well. Not to mention the slaves. It was nice here, if one ignored that little bit of it. Actually, the slaves looked, for the most part, okay. Not badly mistreated or anything. Neelix studied them as he passed them in the hallways. They would acknowledge his presence by ducking their heads, or nodding. One or two even gave him a small smile.

Curious about them, Neelix did stop and watch a few as they dusted, swept, and other house tasks. The thing that made him notice the difference between Voyager and here was the silence. The chatter he heard was female. The men said nothing. There was no happy banter, challenges, questions, whistles… nothing. They were quiet and worked quickly. He thought of Voyager and remembered how he worked as "morale officer" and how his job was to cheer up the crew. These guys did look like they needed cheering up, but he didn't feel like it was his place here. Not yet, anyways.

The Talaxian moved on, looking for a good spot where maybe they were hiding the missing items from the Flyer. He sure would like a communicator… that was the top priority. Deep in thought, Neelix turned around a corner and suddenly bumped into a small boy, perhaps around eight years old. He gasped in surprise, and immediately apologized, "Goodness, child! I didn't mean to run into you! I should have looked where I was going first. Are you quite alright?"

The boy looked up, startled, and Neelix saw the fear flash over his face for a quick instant, before realizing that the alien was not angry at him. Smiling now, the boy answered, "It's okay, sir, it really was my fault. They're always telling me I rush around corners. I should have paid more attention myself."

Neelix found himself smiling back at the lad. He liked him. He was a handsome child, even at his age, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Warmth was in Neelix's voice as he asked, "Well, where are you off to anyway? Since you were in such a rush."

Pointing to a door, the boy said, "I was just delivering a message. Then I gotta go back to my nursery." He quickly popped over and knocked gently at the door. At the woman's voice calling, "Enter", he opened it and calmly handed her the envelope. Closing the door behind him quietly, he smiled again at Neelix. "What's your name? You didn't tell me. Sir." He tacked on as an afterthought, showing he was still learning.

Giving a cheerful laugh, Neelix introduced himself. Then it was his turn, "And what about you? What's your name, son?"

Wrinkling his nose up at the "son" part, the boy replied, "My name is Yara. I'm eight, so they tell me." Now he smiled shyly, "Did you want to see where I live? I don't think they'll mind."

Glad to move along somewhere, Neelix agreed to go with the child. "Sure, Yarra, I'd be happy to come with you. I'm still new here, you know. Just arrived not too long ago. Still don't really know my way around here. I'd be delighted if you could show me somewhere."

With that, Yara trustingly slipped a hand into Neelix's hand. He'd never done that with any of the women, but immediately senses that the alien would be okay with it. As they walked down the hallways and outside, he asked Neelix questions. "What species are you? Do your females look like you?"

Grinning, Neelix explained, "I am a Talaxian. I came from Rinax. It's a moon of a planet called Talax. And as for the females, they do look like me, but usually smaller and prettier. I don't think I'm all that handsome anyway!" He finished with a cheery laugh.

That made Yara laugh too. "I don't know about that. You're the first Talaxian I ever met. But I can say the nicest one I ever met."

"That's because I'm the only one you ever met!" Neelix bantered back. He looked up to see a woman glaring at him, but then not at him exactly. She was looking at the handholding. Yara noticed it too, and yanked his hand out of Neelix's grasp.

"I shouldn't have done that. I'm sorry," he told his new friend worriedly.

Neelix looked down at him and said, "It's okay. Now where is this place of yours?" He looked around at the different buildings around. He now saw Yara pointing at an unremarkable two-story building, and smiled at the boy, "Okay. Let's go see this! You're sure this is okay for you though? I don't want to get you in trouble…"

Yara shook his head, "I think you can go anywhere you want, within reason. So, if you told them you wanted to see the facility, it'll be fine. I can't guarantee if I'll be allowed to take you around, but they're usually nice… so we'll see!" He had a hopeful smile and waved Neelix to the door. He stopped by the entrance and waved his metal bracelet over a plaque. It beeped, and Yara's name and number showed up on the electronic board. He explained, "Just gotta be tracked, is all. No big deal."

The Talaxian had to frown slightly at that, but quickly covered with a bright smile as he reassured the lad, "Right, of course!" He walked inside the building and followed Yarra down the hallway and he immediately met a woman striding down it. She looked at him in surprise, and asked, "Hey, what are you doing here? Not that you aren't allowed, you're an alien, but… we don't get visitors that often." Neelix was quick to explain the story that he and Yarra had agreed on, and she smiled, "Oh, that's okay then. My name is Silky. I'd be happy to answer your questions. Yarra, do you remember where you were supposed to go?"

The blond nodded his head seriously, and replied, "Yes ma'am, I'm supposed to be in the baby room. I like it Neelix! It's fun to be in the baby room. They're loud sometime, and smelly, but it's still fun."

Silky did chuckle, and shooed Yara away, and turned to Neelix. "You wanted to see this place? Sure, I'll show you. And you can ask whatever you like."

He followed Silky into the nearest room, and saw to his surprise that it had been transformed into almost like a kindergarten room… he'd seen a few on the Voyager files. There were colours everywhere, and blocks and such to play with. And the children in the room were all male, with female adult supervisors around. Neelix noted several things: the children looked from walking age to about five years old, there were no writing in the room at all, and there were no books or writing pads. He looked quizzically at Silky and she said, "When the boys are weaned from the baby room, meaning they are toilet trained, walking well, and so forth, they come here for the next part of their learning. This goes up to five year olds. The next room over, which we'll see, goes from six to twelve."

She showed him that, and Neelix peered in. Again, the room was brightly coloured, and had extra space for beds and, and looked something like a good place to play in. Silky went on to explain, "These kids are not always in here. They are now taught how to be proper slaves. Yara belongs in this group, but there are other similar groups. They are taught slave etiquette, and things that slaves should do. Cooking, for example. Making beds, running errands, gardening, that kind of thing. We do not overload them at this age, for we want strong healthy slaves."

She moved right along to another room with a smaller group of older children. Now Neelix saw that these ones wore a simple leather collar, and not the leather bracelets that the previous group wore. "These are thirteen to fifteen or sixteen years old. Now they are ready to take on some tasks of an adult, depending on how easy it is. They can be taught certain things in the bedroom, but they are only observers. Not actual participants, mind. We save them for when they are older. After they graduate out of this group, they are sold, usually. Or if they have owners already, they go to that woman's house to serve her."

Neelix had to give it to them. They were awfully efficient. Now she led him upstairs to where Yara was working in the baby room. Yarra was there, rocking a crying baby, and smiled when he saw Neelix. "Hi Neelix! Sorry, hello, ma'am."

"You should have greeted me first, boy. But I know you were trying to be friendly," Silky said sternly at first, then softening her tone. She did like Yara after all. Now she let Yara speak for himself, "I like taking care of the babies. He was crying, and I rock him until he's quiet. He likes that. Then that one over there, the orange baby, he likes his toy best."

Silky smiled and stated, "They go by the coloured tags… orange baby, red baby, blue, etc. It makes it simpler for them to recognize which baby is which."

After listening to this, Neelix asked the first question on his mind, "Can't they read?"

Looking sharply at him, Silky snapped, "No, they can't. And we don't teach them. It's up the new owners to to teach them the basics if they really want to. But for now, they do not know more than their own names. And simple addition and subtraction so they can shop some, if their owners want them to. We teach them how to do that too."

Signing, Neelix still had more questions, but he decided to hold off on them for now. For one, he wanted to know where all these babies came from. And where did the female babies go? But right now, he had plenty of food for thought. Instead, he smiled at Yara and told him, "I like rocking babies too. They're so sweet. Although I do wish they didn't cry quite so much… it's hard to know what they want!" He gave a laugh and peered into the nearests crib and tickled the baby's belly, making him gurgle with laughter. Now he excused himself, for it was nearly lunch time. And the Phantom had invited him to her table.

Tom Paris looked around as he walked back from the Miranda. He hadn't seen Chakotay since that morning a few days ago. Or was it a few days ago? It was becoming harder keeping track, and the twin suns did confuse him with time. All he knew that when the first one rose, it was very early, and he was expected to be up. And it seemed that with the second sun rising, it was time for the women to be up and going.

He'd gotten into the routine, however, of bolting down his food and resting as best he could… which was never well. When he had woken the next morning, he peered at the breakfast slave, hoping against hope that it was Chak again. But it wasn't, and he ate his much in disappointment.

The slaves seemed disturbed by something, and Paris perked his ears. There was an extra woman's voice along with a child's. What was a child doing here? Come to think of it, Tom mused, he hadn't seen many children. He looked across to the other side, where he knew was Tyler's usual cell. He watched the other man now, for he had been a Miranda helmsman. Tom watched as Tyler sighed softly and drew back slightly but he didn't look alarmed. He took this to mean something other a woman seeking pleasure and waited to see what was going on.

"Now, you remember what your teacher said, right? You get to pick any slave from this row for the day to help you with your work and presentations." The female voice sounded enthusiastic as she explained to the child.

Paris' eyes nearly popped when he saw them finally, walking up and down the row. The child was a girl, about twelve, and as pretty as could be. And she bounced in excitement, saying, "I know Mommy! I've been waiting so long for this part! I can choose anyone I want?"

Smiling the mother encouraged, "Of course Zoe. You can. I'll help you to make a choice if you need it."

Zoe was determined. "No, Mommy. I can do this all by myself!" With a determined nod, she bounced over to Tyler's cell. She studied him carefully, and shook her head. Not that one. She moved along, looking in each cell and studying the slave that occupied it.

At last, Tom found himself starting into blue eyes and a curious expression. He wasn't sure what to do, and just sat without moving. Zoe looked him over and then smiled, "I like that one, Mommy!" Tom sighed, then with a start, realized that her mother was actually one of the guards here. Holly, he remembered. She was tough, but fair. He just hadn't recognized her without her uniform.

Holly smiled at her daughter's choice and peered at Tom. Frowning slightly, she said, "He's new. I'm not sure how he is around children, but you'll be supervised anyway. See how this goes. Why don't you make a second choice, Zoe, in case this one doesn't work out? I'll get him out for you though."

As Zoe agreed and went to look at the others, Holly got a leash. Tom was beginning to hate that leash. It never meant good things. But he knew by now to get up and go to the cell door, allow Holly to clip the leash on and be led out. He glanced around at Zoe's excited shout as she pointed out the second choice slave.

"Okay, thanks, I'll remember that. Now, you get to hold this leash, okay?" Holly proudly instructed her daughter, who obeyed with a squeal.

She held her head up high as Tom was made to follow along. He was puzzled by this turn of events. It seemed odd… and what exactly did she want him for? He found out quickly that he was being led to the town and perked up at that. He hadn't much of a chance the last time to look about. Now he did take the opportunity to do so, as Zoe didn't walk quickly. Holly was keeping an eye on him, ready to grab him if he decided to bolt. But Tom wasn't stupid. He was still in shackles. He'd not get far.

At last they made it to a large building and Tom was watchful as Zoe yanked him to the door, then the hallway, then a room. Was this… a school? It must be a school, as he saw a classroom setting… and all the other children were girls. This surprised Tom, and made him wonder immediately where the boys were. Surely they must have boys.

Zoe marched him right up to the teacher and told her, "This is my slave for today. He is name is… is… what's your name, anyway?" She turned to ask Tom curiously. She'd forgotten to ask him his name.

"Tom Paris," he replied just as curiously. He still didn't know what was expected of him in this setting.

The teacher nodded curtly then she cocked her head. "Tom Paris? From Voyager? That Tom Paris?"

"Uh… yeah?" He answered with a step back unconsciously.

"Oh, okay. So you're very new at this. That's not a problem. See how things work out. And that means you know how to read, yes?"

Tom nodded and answered with a raised eyebrow, "Of course I know how to read. I don't know anyone who can't!"

Immediately, he was slapped hard by the teacher and she snapped at him, "Don't be rude. And use the honourifics. They're there for a reason. So scum like you can't rise above their own level."

Rubbing his stinging cheek, Tom sighed. He'd forgotten their stupid little rule. He'd better go along with it for now. "Sorry, ma'am. But yes, I can read. Ma'am."

"That's better, boy," she nodded. Pointing to an X on the floor at the front of the classroom, she said, "Stand there."

Sighing again, Tom obeyed. He watched as the girls settled down and listened as the teacher introduced herself as "Miss Hannah." She also made sure that he knew to call them all "Miss" regardless of age. "This is Tom. He is our demo slave today, and Miss Zoe has the pleasure of having him today!" Hannah announced brightly.

Tom never knew such a humiliating day as he did with Zoe and her class. First of all, he was made to strip. He'd balked at that… going naked in front of a bunch of young girls didn't appeal to him. But a glance at Miss Hannah's threatening face made Tom reconsider rebelling. He dutifully stripped, then had his hands chained to the ceiling. Why was there such a thing in a classroom, he didn't know. But he found out.

Zoe was the first one to touch him down there. She pointed out his anatomy with a finger poking him, and sometimes stopping to think about the proper name. She only made one mistake, but she seemed proud of herself for knowing most of it. Tom had long since been pink in the face, but he could do nothing.

Then he was turned around and secured well. Now what? He heard the scuffling of chairs as the girls lined up behind him. To his horror, he found out that they each had an instrument in their hands. They were going to beat him?

That's exactly what happened.

Miss Hannah watched as each girl was allowed to give him ten hits of whatever they happened to be holding, giving instructions as they went, and occasionally stopping to demonstrate. Some were enthusiastic about it, some were shy and didn't hit hard. Nevertheless, it was painful, and humiliating to Paris. He'd always liked children, but they were teaching these ones to be monsters.

He lost count how many times his genitals were handled, his back and ass were smacked, and he was always told to be quiet and obey. At last, he was let down from the chains, and made to kneel at Zoe's side.

The girls studied their lessons, and Zoe would ask him for help on this or that. He could help her with her writing, grammar, math, and ideas. This part, Tom actually did enjoy. It was interesting, and he learned about Voldaria Prime in other ways. As Tom knelt there, he thought about what happened so far. The first part of the day was slave handling, and now they had their real lessons… which now did make sense, if all the men were slaves. The women would have be taught something of how to treat them. He cocked his head at this thought. What if they were taught nice things? Actual good interactions? Was that possible?

Suddenly he tuned in on Zoe's muttering. "What's that, Miss?" he whispered, thinking she needed help on her homework.

She whispered back in his ear, "I was just thinking of how spoiled Anna's slave was. She feeds him treats of all sorts! And he gobbles them up, the greedy pig. He was here yesterday… and it was gross how he was falling all over her to please her. He actually seemed to like it." She huffed and went back to her paper after shooting a look at Anna.

Tom studied both girls. It seemed it was possible then. Luck of the draw. Finally it was time for recess, and Tom was made to stay inside while the girls played games outside. He could hear their laughter and silly screams. He wished he could have gone out too, but he was chained up again. And now Hannah was now at his side.

"You've been a good boy so far. I think I'll reward you. As long as you clean up." Without another word, she was stroking him. Tom gasped at the pleasurable feelings running through him, and looked nervously at her. He didn't want this, but it looked like he had no choice. She kept rubbing him, sometimes teasing him with her fingers, and he groaned and squirmed against his chains. "No, miss, no please…" he tried to ask.

That made him grunt in pain as she squeezed him hard. By the stars above, that hurt. So much. And Tom did know why. He'd said the word "no". Hadn't he already been whipped for it once already? Squeezing his eyes shut and clamping his jaws, Paris bore the punishment, and then felt the fingers release to give him pleasure again. He was a confusion of emotions as he felt the good sensations, but was wary of further pain.

Hannah grinned as she got him close, then stopped with only a very soft brush of her index finger. Tom was driven mad with that. He bucked against her and was of two minds. He still hated what she was doing to him and turning his body against himself. But at the same time? He needed that release. He needed it. But he didn't want to ask for it. Principles and all. Again he was driven even closer and his body shuddered when once again he was denied. She did this several more times, before Paris was forced to it. "P-ple… please. Please… d-do it. Please… m-miss."

A soft laugh, and Hannah cocked her head. She studied Tom straining, and smiled at the beautiful muscles that started to glisten with sweat. Then she nodded and gave him what he asked for, stepping out of the way.

Tom cried out and let the pleasure take over him. Then he panted heavily, letting the chains take his weight. Then he was dropping to the floor and he lay there, collecting his scattered wits. A bucket of soap and water with a sponge was shoved in his face and the snapped order, "Clean up, boy."

He sighed again, but did get up to clean his mess. It was soon after that when the girls came back in. He said nothing to Zoe about what had happened, and obeyed the orders he was given. They were only in school for a couple of more hours before released back outside for the rest of the day.

Zoe took him back to her house and he was appreciative of how nice it looked. But whatever she did to him, which was nothing more than 'handling' him at times, and using him for a model for her drawing, it didn't matter to Tom. He was still stuck on what had happened with Hannah. She had forced pleasure out of him. But… it had been… good. The best one of his life… with just a handjob. Tom almost wanted her to do it again, but at the same time, he didn't. He didn't want the humiliation, the inability to say no, the painful punishment… but he couldn't get the image of how she looked out of his head.

He had a lot to think about that night as he curled up in his cell. He wished he could talk it over with someone. He wished he could figure out how to leave this stupid place. He wished he was back on Voyager. He wished he was home.

But in his dreams, Hannah came to him again. And gave him all his desires, if only he made love to her.

Chapter Text


Chakotay was currently scrubbing the floors in the great hallway. He used a stiff brush with soap and water and kept dipping it from the bucket. The task was hampered by the shackles still on his ankles, but at least his hands were free. He appeared to keep his eyes on his task, though he did observe people going by. No one spoke to him which was fine. It also meant no one was paying attention to him at the moment. The less attention, the better. And he could learn a lot just by watching.

He was just sloshing the water around when a familiar voice sounded, "Chakotay?" Looking up, he saw the Talaxian at his side. Giving a small smile and keeping his voice quiet, Chakotay gave a sharp nod, "Neelix."

Neelix had just been walking by and had seen the big man bent over, and stopped because he had looked familiar. After a second glance, he knew who he was. He had been worried about him the last little while and was happy to see that the Commander looked more or less okay. "You alright? Haven't see you in a bit."

"I'm fine," Chakotay answered softly. He blew out a breath and continued scrubbing, knowing he would get into trouble if he stopped. And trouble was the last thing he needed.

The alien wasn't fooled, however. Looking more closely, he saw the fresh bruises on Chakotay's arms and a good sized handprint on his neck. "Commander? What happened?" He kept his voice quiet and sympathetic, not wanting to push, but needing to know how he could help his friend.

Chakotay snapped, "Nothing happened. Just go, okay?" He pushed down his feelings of loathing away. He wanted to be left alone. But he felt a warm hand on his shoulder and the frank concern in Neelix's tone, asking once again what happened to him. And a whisper that it would be okay. He had to snort. No, it wouldn't. Shaking his head, he looked up again at Neelix and said, "It's fine. Honest. Just go."

"Commander, you're bruised. Did... did… Cassandra hit you?" Neelix asked gently. He'd try to have a word with her if he could. But he needed to know what happened first before any accusations could be made.

Finally, Chakotay had enough. He stood up tall, eyes flashing with anger and hurt. "Hit me? Yeah, she hit me. She beat the hell out of me. And she had her way with me. There, you happy now?"

Neelix stared at his friend. She had… had she really done that? The only thing he could think to say was, "Was it… consensual?"

"What do you think?" Chakotay snapped at him. Then he knelt again and dipped into his bucket again and slapped way more water on the floor than he needed to. He started scrubbing vigourously as a way to vent his feelings on the matter.

"Oh Commander…" Neelix gasped with horror. So she had done it. She had raped him. The rumours were true about this sort of thing… he had heard stories. "I'm so sorry. So sorry. Is there anything I can do to help?"

Glancing up, Chakotay growled, "Yeah. You can leave me the hell alone." With that, he went back to scrubbing.

It was very unfortunate that a guard was walking by at that moment. She heard the rude comment, and wheeled on him, "Boy, what the hell? What kind of tone was that?!" She fingered the whip at her belt and glared down at him.

Blowing out a breath at that, Chakotay glanced at her, but amended to Neelix, "I'm sorry, sir. Please leave me to finish my task. Thank you, sir."

Neelix didn't know how to respond to this. This wasn't right. But these were the rules here. But to him, that still didn't make it right. He could only nod, and apologize to Chakotay, "Of course. I'm sorry for disturbing you." Then he started walking away but turned back when he noticed the guard hadn't left Chakotay yet.

"That was not acceptable, boy. You never, ever get to be rude to us, or an alien. You are the bottom of the barrel. Pond scum. Nothing more than labour or a dick. You got that?" She waited until she got a "sorry, ma'am" from him and continued. "Just so that doesn't happen again, you will be punished." She thought a moment and grinned. "You get to pick. Serum with me. Or the whip. Which?"

Chakotay stared at her. She wouldn't really do that, would she? But she didn't seem like the kind to joke about that sort of thing. He shuddered inwardly at the memory of what he'd gone through with Lady Cassandra, but he'd also seen the deep scars of the slaves who had been whipped. He sighed deeply, then answered with little hesitation, "The whip."

Nodding at him, the guard put a hand on his collar and pulled him up again. "Right then. Let's go to the post. I wanna see you bleed, boy."

Neelix drew back, horrified for the second time in minutes. He watched Chakotay get a leash on him then follow the guard past him. He couldn't let this slide, not when it was him who interrupted and pushed Chak to talk. "Hey, wait a minute! Don't do that to him. It was my fault. All my fault. You wanna punish someone, punish me." He ignored the quiet shake of Chakotay's head and laid that challenge down with a determined look.

The guard stared then laughed. She was curious as she asked, "You're Neelix, right? You're new. Where's your slave?"

"My slave? I don't have a slave! Nor do I want one," he retorted.

She looked at him incredulously, and shook her head with a laugh. "No slave? What sort of a being are you? Never mind. If you have no slave, you have no claim on this one. Only the Phantom does. And why would I punish you, Talaxian? It was not your fault he was disobedient."

Neelix glared at her and spoke firmly, "I am his friend. And you are not the Phantom. You have no right! And it was my fault… I distracted him. I talked to him, and asked him questions that I shouldn't have. That's all."

The guard huffed, looked at Chakotay and back to Neelix. She still had that toughness in her voice as she stated, "Neelix, I work for the Phantom. And even so, he is under me. He is under you. Let me make that clear. He. Is. A. Slave. Not a friend. Now get lost so I can punish this slave for his atrocious behaviour. You go do whatever you were doing before." Not giving him a chance to respond, she gave a sharp and unfair yank to the Commander's collar and hurried away.

Neelix stared after the two, then turned to dash back to Cassandra. Clearly, he had to respect the chain of command. And the Phantom was on top. He picked up his pace to a near run, searching for her, knowing the clock was ticking. He was going to try to prevent Chakotay from being beaten if he could. At last he skidded to a stop, seeing a flash of familiar black hair. Panting, he made his way over to Cassandra, and hurriedly interrupted her conversation, not caring right now if this was a breach of conduct or what. "I'm sorry, my Lady, but I have to speak to you immediately."

Cassandra gave him the look, but then decided that Neelix was still too new to everything to know all the rules. So she politely excused herself from the young woman she was speaking to and gave Neelix her attention, but not without first saying first, "I realize you are new to us, Neelix, but the proper thing to do is wait until I have told you that you may speak."

Rushing his words, Neelix was quick to apologize, "Very sorry, ma'am. Very sorry. But this is an urgent matter. See, I saw Chakotay and stopped to talk to him. And I'm afraid I said the wrong thing and then he didn't wanna say and then I pushed, and he was scrubbing, an-"

"And what is your point, Talaxian? I have little time for nonsense," Cassandra snapped. This was ridiculous.

Neelix took a breath and plainly told her, "Chakotay is going to get whipped for something I did. I need you to stop them from doing that! It was my fault. Not his. Please tell them not to whip him."

The Phantom eyed him, then nodded. "Let's go get this sorted out. I'd ask you more questions now, but best we do it there." She strode off with long, powerful strides, and Neelix found that he had to scurry along to keep up. They got outside by a shortcut he didn't know about, but he trusted her to know where she was going.

The scene that met Neelix's eyes made his breath hitch. There was that guard, whip in hand, and Chakotay, stripped to the waist, and chained to the whipping post, arms spread to either side. There were fresh lashes already scoring his back.

The guard turned around at the sound of quick feet and smiled as she saw Cassandra. The Phantom was quick to the point, "What happened, Una?"

Una gestured at Chakotay, who had frozen at Cassandra's voice, and explained, "He was scrubbing the floor in the hallway. Apparently Neelix stopped to ask questions, and he didn't like answering them. Then he, as I overheard, told him, 'You can leave me the hell alone.'"

Cassandra raised an eyebrow at this report, and she knew Una did not lie to get the slaves in trouble. Looking at Neelix, she quietly asked as an aside, "What did you ask him?"

Murmuring in a pleading tone, Neelix replied, "I just asked if he was okay. And he told me what you did. That wasn't right! You had no right to do that to him!"

A smirk came on her face and the coldness in her voice chilled Neelix, "Oh, I have every right to use any slave I choose. In whatever capacity I so desire. Furthermore, he is to answer any questions politely. No matter what you ask." She nodded at him then looked at Una. One command, "Whip him."

Una grinned and caught the soft almost unheard sigh from the chained slave. He'd been hoping, hadn't he? Too bad then. Una studied the lines she had made already, raised her whip hand and let fly.

Chakotay winced with the strike, and wished that Neelix would just leave. He'd caused enough trouble for now. And Chakotay might be in for more, now that she knew what he'd done. Though he couldn't blame Neelix for trying. Hell, he'd do the same if the roles were reversed. He gritted his teeth against the fire lacing his back, determined not to cry out and give them that satisfaction.

"Harder," he heard the Phantom say. He had just enough time to brace before the lash struck him with greater force. Fuck, fuck, fuck, that had hurt like hell. But he still refused to say anything. Chakotay couldn't tell if Neelix was still there or not. He hoped not. He didn't want his friend seeing him like this. Not when he knew…

Grunting with each lash, Chakotay focused on silently saying the names of the Voyager crew. It helped him focus. He began with the Bridge crew, and onwards. Finally, he felt Una stop, and he'd only started yelping towards the end. Then his hands were loosened, and his body dropped. He cried out again as he hit the ground, and saw to his relief that Neelix had gone.

Grey eyes loomed over him, and Chakotay stared up. "Get up, boy." Grunting, he struggled to obey, then was led to a private room. Puzzled, he looked at both Cassandra and Una. He thought he'd be sent to his cell. Or at the very least, have the slave doctor bandage his bloody back. He'd seen that happen. So, what did they want? Wincing as he stood, Chakotay watched Una lock the door for privacy, then saw what they were doing now and sucked in a breath.

"My Lady Cassandra," was the only thing Chakotay said as he knelt in front of the chair she sat on as she waved him over. Then he buried his face between her legs and covered the hiss of pain as she ran her hand over his lacerated back. He knew when he was done with the Phantom, he would have to repeat the process of pleasuring on Una. How many times he'd do this, he didn't know, but he knew it would be until they said stop. The only thing he was thankful for was they did not rape him. This time.

Paris was exhausted. It seemed like a permanent state with him lately, being unable to rest well. The floors of the cells weren't that comfortable, with only a blanket for comfort. But he'd been trying to stay out of the way. Now if only he could keep his damn mouth shut. But he'd always had an issue with that, and paid for it with beatings or a caning. Luckily, if one could call it that, he'd only been whipped the one time. And he hadn't seen Chakotay since that day. Cassandra must be keeping him close, which Paris did not like the idea of. But what could he do from here? Nothing, that's what. It was frustrating, and he wished he could punch something. Or someone… more like those women. But he knew enough that it was a bad idea.

Trudging back from the Miranda, Paris was suddenly stopped by a woman, whom he knew as Tali. Tali purred at him, and said, "Wow, what a great specimen of a human male, you are! Mmm." She ran her hands over his chest in appreciation, and looked up into his blue eyes. Paris hesitated, remembering Hannah. But he did not like the gleam in her eyes.

He watched her every move tensely, and Tali purred again. She ran her hands over his chest, and sighed, "Those are beautiful muscles you have, boy. I wonder what you're like… in bed…"

Paris gritted his teeth. He didn't want this. But how could he say no? She was touching him everywhere, and Paris looked away as he felt her hands on his groin. Maybe, if he was good, he'd get pleasure out of this. But somehow he sensed he wouldn't from Tali. Maybe Hannah would give it to him. He wanted Hannah. Not Tali. However, someone else stepped in to save him.

Jade came over and said to Tali, "He's supposed to have some more training. If you're horny, why don't you use Randall then?" She pointed out to the nearby slave, who jerked his head up at his name. He'd been working alongside Paris, and the flash of fear was evident in his eyes.

Tom watched her take Randall away, and turned his focus back on Jade. He wasn't sure whether to thank the woman or not, but was given no chance to do so when he was led into a different building than the one he'd been occupying for the last while. Curious, Paris looked around, even though he was tired from the long work day and had wanted only his cell. This seemed almost like… a stable? But there were no horses here… or at least animals that looked like horses. Or dray animals, basically. That meant… Tom looked around in surprise at Jade. Did that mean…?

The black haired woman grinned and said, "You're getting the hang of things. Time for you to put on some more muscles there. And the best way to do that is become a cart slave. But you have to learn a few things first." She immediately tied Paris by the collar to the wall with a leash, and dragged out what looked for all the world like a harness. Which, after a second glance, was exactly what it was. Paris was made to strip, and he felt something soft cup his genitals and hold them secure. He was a bit nervous at this turn of events, but at the same time he was interested. Maybe he'd get to get around more, which would be great. Paris had always been the energetic sort, and hated to be cooped up for long. And he'd get to scout out what this world looked like.

Jade ran her hands down his body again. Tom sighed, for this seemed to be something the women did a lot. It was degrading, which seemed to be the point: show him his place in things. Now Tom felt a belt go around his hips, and a harness go around his chest and back and two straps go between his legs around his parts and close at the back. He stamped a bit crossly, but was rewarded with a slap. "Stand, boy!"

The next thing he knew, Jade was holding his nose tightly. Tom fought and struggled against her, helpless with his hands secured to the front of his harness, and finally opened his mouth to breathe. Something hard was shoved in, but it was soft on his teeth, but sharp on his tongue, and Jade quickly secured the bridle.

Oh hell no. No one was doing that to him. Paris fought the restraints even more now, and tried to pull away. Jade just let him. She knew he couldn't do anything right now, and just let him wear himself out. When she thought he was calmer, she untied him and again held a bucking, fighting slave as he tried to free himself. Then an idea came to Paris and he did the opposite. He tried to attack her.

That had the effect of making him scream and drop to the floor, writing in pain. When the collar shock wore off, Paris panted heavily. He didn't understand what had happened. Jade hadn't touched him with anything, had she? He didn't see anything in her hands, and that made him puzzled. Watching carefully, Paris tried to kick her away when she laid a hand on his groin once more. And once again, he was in the throes of pain. It had definitely come from the collar.

When the pain faded once more, Jade explained, "Just try that again, boy, and you'll get shocked. Now get up and behave. No more fighting."

Not having any other choice, Paris staggered up on weak legs and let her lead him back outside to a single cart. Was he supposed to be hooked up to this? Yes, he was. He felt the bars go alongside him, and a bar in front of him was there to tie is hands to. Now reins were attached and he turned his head around trying to see Jade. But she was in the cart in a moment, and clicked at him. Paris hesitated, then lost his head for sheer anger and stubborness. He bolted.

This time, Jade let him run. She had told him to go forward after all. And he'd find he wouldn't be able to run forever anyways. So she merely held the reins loosely and didn't try to pull.

Paris was already finding this was a dumb idea. At last he went back down to a stop and waited in confusion. Again the click and this time he refused to move. Jade was equal to that and Paris felt a hot slash of pain across his back. He jumped, cursed silently, then decided to try backing up. Naturally he got another lash for his pains. Tom really, really wanted to just go on being stubborn, but there were not really a whole lot of options open to him. Finally, he just walked forward.

They took a few circuits of the nearest block, and Tom did watch carefully to remember where the shops were. He couldn't help crane his head around when he saw the girl school. He hoped to see Hannah. But again the stinging fire across his back reminded him of where he was: in harness pulling a cart. A silver glint in the sky attracted his attention. Was it a shuttlecraft? His hope faded when he realized that it was not a Starfleet craft, but one of the odd looking ones they had on this planet. That made him remember: what had happened to the Delta Flyer? He hadn't seen hide nor hair of it, and also no one had mentioned.

A sharp tug on the bit and Tom turned left down a street he hadn't been before. Then right again. On one side was the busy town. On the other side, a field stretched out. Tom took a quick glance before he looked ahead, not wanting to get whipped again for looking. But after a moment, he did look again. Something shiny and silver had caught his attention. Trying to study the object without being too obvious, Paris' eyes widened. There were all sorts of small shuttlecraft in the field, all of them abandoned. Some were obviously dismantled. Some were in the process. And on the edge of the field closest to the road, still intact in its fine beauty, stood the one he knew. The Delta Flyer.

Chapter Text

Captain Janeway sipped at her coffee. She'd lost count how many she had today, but right now it didn't matter. She needed it. Granted it wasn't as good as that homemade brew Neelix made, but it was sufficient. Giving a long sigh, she stared out of her window in her room again, watching the stars slide on by. Her thoughts were mainly, Where are you, Chakotay? Neelix? Tom Paris? Are you okay? Wherever you are, we're coming. Hang in there! She hoped that they were in a safe place. It'd happened before where some of the crew had gotten stranded someplace, and for the most part, it had been okay.

But now she had a funny feeling that it wasn't okay. Call it gut feeling, if one will. Tuvok wouldn't say it was not scientific, but there it was. Shaking her head, she pushed that feeling down again and sat in her chair with another sigh. She had wanted to read from her pad, but she couldn't concentrate on the words. They just floated off the page as she stared into space. With a frown, Kathryn put down her pad. Then her door beeped. "Come in," she told the door.

It slid open and Kathryn smiled at the figure standing there, which was very small little girl with a distinctive forehead marking. She peered in at Captain Janeway, looking uncertain if she was interrupting. However, the Captain smiled and told her visitor, "Come on in, Naomi. What can I do for you?"

Naomi Wildman smiled cheerily as she stepped in. She might be half Ktarian, and looked unusual in the fact that she looked much older than she was, but she had long since learned that Captain Janeway was a friend. Her dream one day was to be the captain of a starship, and Janeway was like a heroine in her eyes. "Good evening, Captain," she began, trying to be formal and polite.

A smile played on Janeway's lips as she patted the couch beside her. "Good evening, please be seated. May I offer you any refreshments?" She loved playing this "formal" game with Naomi. It was cute and just the thing needed right now to cheer her up.

"No thanks… I mean, no thank you, Captain," Naomi amended as she sat down. Then she dropped the formal tone and worriedly said, "Captain, I just wanted to talk to you. I'm scared."

Putting an arm around the little girl, Janeway kindly asked, "What is worrying you, Naomi? You can tell me anything. But wouldn't you go to your mother first?"

Taking a deep worried breath, Naomi shook her head, "Well, I could, but I wanted to talk to you first. I miss Neelix. A lot. I'm scared for him, because he isn't here. I try to help in the galley, Captain, but it's not the same without him."

Giving a sigh and an understanding nod, Janeway tried to explain, "I know you're scared, Naomi. I can tell you I'm doing everything I can to find him and the others, okay? And we're still looking. Just keep your chin up and do everything you can to help out. And when Neelix gets back, you can tell him how big a help you were!"

Smiling at that, Naomi thought it over. She mused aloud, "Mr. Paris is funny. I miss him too. He liked playing games with me. And the Commander is scary sometimes, but he's always nice."

"The Commander is scary?" Janeway repeated in amusement. "How so? Are you talking about the face tattoo?"

"Well, no, I think that's cool. It looks really neat on him. It's just… he's big and… I'm not," she struggled to explain.

Trying not to snort, Janeway replied fondly, "He is tall, I agree. But you know he's very kind. And when he gets back, you can tell him anything, just like me, right?"

Nodding enthusiastically, Naomi agreed, "Okay! I will! Do you think they'll come back?"

"But of course," Janeway replied, perhaps a bit quickly.

"And if they're hurt, the Doctor can cure them, right?" She saw Janeway nod again and had a brighter smile. "I'm glad they're coming back. What about the little ships? Do you think they'll come back too? The ships were cute! I want one, Captain!"

Now Janeway did laugh. "I don't know if they'll be back, Naomi. But tell you what. If we see one, we'll ask if you can have one!" She grinned in amusement. That would be something to see. Excuse me, Mr. Alien. I need to just borrow one of your ships for my little lieutenant in training. Oh, by the way, we're on our way to the Alpha Quadrant, so we'll just keep it for her nursery, okay? Thanks! Yeah, that would go over well.

After Naomi had gone, Kathryn let herself laugh loudly. Finally she got her laughter under control, but still had a big smile. She just loved this little girl who always had a smile and made herself laugh. She picked up her tablet again, attempting to read again now that she felt more relaxed. Unfortunately, it still didn't work, and she decided to go take a walk instead. She wanted to check in on the doctor and see how he was getting on. Walking into the sick bay, Janeway spied the Doctor at his instruments. He turned at the sound of her feet and smiled, "Good evening, Captain, you are up late tonight."

"Couldn't sleep, Doctor. Just decided to have a walkabout and see if that helps." She sighed as she glanced around the always immaculate Sick Bay. The Doctor, while a hologram, was always a very neat one.

"Ah, alright, Captain," the Doctor nodded sagely. "Exercise is always a good thing. May I also suggest a concerta?"

Quickly shutting down that suggestion, Kathryn shook her head, "No thanks, Doctor. I don't think an opera from you will help me sleep. No offence." Changing the topic, she asked, "How are you getting along without Tom?"

Shooting her a glare for her refusal of his "music", the Doctor sighed dramatically. "Well he isn't here, is he? I'd like to know how he managed to get himself lost gallivanting off to a planet that was supposedly easy to find." He gave a loud huff, not caring how ridiculous he looked doing that. Or maybe he just didn't know.

Kathryn shook her head fondly and shrugged with a determined expression, "Who knows? But I am going to get them back. It's clear by now they've been kidnapped. But why? And it's a very strong suggestion that the Vanishers took them. But who the hell are they!? Where do they live? What do they want with my crewmen? There's still so many questions, Doctor. And not enough answers."

"Agreed," the Doctor nodded. "Well, I wish I could help you. But I am a doctor, not a magician. But I do hope Voyager can find them. You are very determined whenever this stuff happens."

Giving a smile at the doctor, Kathryn replied, "Thank you. I needed to hear that. Your bedside manner isn't great, but you're good to talk things over." Then she left before he could start railing at her about "his bedside manners" and gave a soft laugh as the doors closed.

Kathryn had a good walk before returning back to her room There was something that she couldn't put her finger on. Something was not right with the situation with the disappearances. They needed the men for something. But what? She started asking her computer questions, delving into Earth history. She was looking for something… but wasn't sure what.

Paris was ecstatic that he had seen the Flyer. She was there! And from what he could tell, she was ship shape and Bristol fashion, as they used to say. So, how could he go and see if the inside still worked? And rescue Chakotay and Neelix at the same time? He had to figure things out. Now that he knew his shuttlecraft wasn't that far away, he'd be able to figure out the rest.

He thought about it long and hard as he lay in his cell. His back still stung, but thankfully he hadn't been hit too many times. What scared the shit out of him was the collar. It had shocked him terribly, and he wasn't sure about that. Seeing the next man across the cell was still awake, he whispered, "Psst. Tyler? Can I ask you something?"

Tyler looked up and groaned from his place where he had been restlessly trying to get comfortable. Forgoing that idea, he sat up and nodded at Tom, "Sure, what is it?"

"When Jade was training me today… I got pissed. And tried to attack her…" Tom began and trailed off, not knowing just how to explain.

"First of all, it's Miss Jade. Don't forget that, Tom. And I can guess. We don't talk about it much. Sort of an unwritten rule. But since you're new, it's okay. Yeah, it does that."

"Why?" was the only thing Tom could say at the moment, remembering the terrible pain that had shot through him as he'd fallen to the floor screaming.

Tyler looked at him sympathetically, "Why do you think? To control us. The rules are simple. You can't attack them. Or yourself. Trust me. I've tried." He had an unreadable look on his face at this admission.

Cocking his head in curiosity, Tom studied the man. "What have you tried?" He was afraid to know the answer, but he was game to learn all he could about this. The more knowledge he had, the better he'd be able to ascertain his situation.

Whispering even softer, so that Tom had to strain to hear him, Tyler locked his eyes on him. "I tried to hang myself. I got shocked before it could happen. Even tried it again, really quick. I didn't care if I was going to get shocked as long as I was... but it didn't work. I just couldn't get it. Then they took me and beat the shit outta me."

"You tried... oh wow." Paris whispered horrified. If he had any inkling of his situation before, he knew now. This was bad.

Tyler looked up at him and gave him a wry smile. "I did. First and last time I tried. It was bad. Then they threw me on a bed and gave me… that stuff. I had several women make use of me. I was gagged and blindfolded. I… I thought they broke my dick. It was… well, let's just say I never did it again."

Wincing from this story, Tom shook his head. He was not feeling good about this at all. And another fact horrified him: that Tyler was even open to telling him all this. It just meant that it happened all too often. And that made him very, very scared. For himself, sure… but more for Chakotay. The Phantom had already used him once, that he knew of. At the same time, it made him even more determined to break out to freedom. And he'd drag those bitches down to hell if he could.

He was quickly seized up the next morning, dragged out to the "stable", and the next thing he knew, Tom was harnessed up again. More cart practice? He hoped so. He wanted to see the Flyer again. Maybe he could figure out how to get there. And maybe see if she still worked. But scout mission first. That would be fine.

Tom scrunched up his face as the hated bit was shoved in and he was backed into the cart. But he set off with an interested face, ignoring the humiliation he felt. This time, Jade turned him a different direction and he looked around as much as she'd let him. He was stopped beside a horizontal post where Jade hopped down and wrapped his leash around it. Ah, he understood now. A hitching post. Tom sighed but knew that Jade expected him to stay there. And since he was supposed to be behaving, and he wanted to come back here often to learn about the place. He wouldn't be able to do that if he misbehaved to much and they didn't permit him to come anymore.

When Jade came back from the store, she patted his shoulder, pleased, "Good boy." Now she hopped back up in the cart and he was driven to the girls' school once again. Tied to the hitching post in the back this time, Tom looked around for Hannah. Or Miss Hannah, he should be calling her. A giggle attracted his attention and Tom looked over to his right. There was a group of girls, older than the last ones… these seemed to be in their teens… were watching him. Jade grinned and said, "You can touch but don't untie him until the lesson starts."

Wait, what lesson? Paris thought wildly. He wasn't being used as a demonstration again, was he? He glared at the girls as they circled him, touching his body and his harness. One even yanked at the rein, making him jump with the sharp bit jagging at his tongue. Apparently he was. Jade waited until they gathered around and instructed them all on driving. "I won't get you to harness and unharness today. He's still new at this, and isn't very good at it yet. But he's nice enough to drive and you can practice on him." She went on to explain some of the basics, and the girls learned his harness parts.

Then the first girl climbed into the cart behind him and took up the reins. Paris sighed. It was too tight. Jade corrected this, and the next one had her reins too loose. It was actually quite boring to Paris. There were very little actual walking around, but mainly a lot of just standing there while they practiced techniques. Finally, they took a break, for it was lunch time.

Tom was dozing on his feet still harnessed up, when suddenly he felt something on him down there. Snapping his eyes open, he saw hannah's face in his. Gently she took off his bridle and the protector around his groin. Tom flushed as he felt himself react the instant he was freed. And Han- Miss Hannah was silent, not saying a word to him. She stroked him expertly and smiled at him. Paris was panting in anticipation when suddenly there were lips locked onto his own. She was kissing him. And he kissed her back. Miss Hannah somehow didn't let go of him while she wreaked havoc with Paris' body, and he wanted so much more. He wanted her. And he was close. Would she do the same as last time? Hold him on that edge? Make him beg for it? Or maybe she'd… Paris moaned as the strokes became rough and hard. He locked eyes with Miss Hannah, and she purred seductively in his ear. "You wait, boy, until I say so." Again she was rough with him, and Tom had a hard time bracing. It felt good, so good. It was harder than he was used to, but he could feel his peak coming fast. With another moan and gasp, he felt his pleasure wash over him. Then to his surprise, the stroking didn't stop. "Wait…" Tom remembered just in time not to say no. He was too sensitive!

Hannah laughed and kept up what she was doing. She loved the way he squirmed under her touch and at last it went from uncomfortableness to pleasure for the slave. Once again he was making wonderful sounds until he erupted once more. And again she started. He tried to plead with her to stop, but she ripped another release from him. Now Tom just felt more uncomfortable. He was going dry and it was not pleasurable for him. "Please…"

Inexorably, he was stroked to another one, and Paris wanted to collapse. In fact, he almost did, staggering on his feet, unable to bend over, but Hannah reached out and steadied him as he panted heavily. Looking into her eyes, Tom noted the victorious look in them. "Next time, boy, you'll do me." Hannah leaned in and kissed him deeply, letting her tongue explore his mouth. Then she replaced the bridle and cover and left.

Jade happened along soon after that, ether not noticing or not caring that Tom was sweaty. The grass covered any mess he had made. She pulled him to another group of girls for further driving practice. She did notice how he seemed more tired than this morning, but shrugged it off. Stupid lazy slave. She drove him back early, stripped his harness off, and let him dress again. "Go to the Miranda." She ordered him.

Tom did go, dragging his feet. He was still exhausted from that session. The girls in the second group had been harder on him, or maybe it was because of what happened. Nevertheless, he made his way to the gutted ship and was assigned to the Sick bay. He found two familiar figures already there and he gave a faint smile to Mitch and Chakotay. Tom was relieved to see his friend again though there was a look in Chakotay's eyes he didn't like. The expression was guarded as the big man worked. Settling himself at the station next to the Commander, he glanced over at him and whispered low, so the guard wouldn't hear, "Chak? You okay?"

Rolling his eyes, Chakotay couldn't help the exasperated sigh. "Everyone keeps asking me that. First Neelix. Now you. Leave me alone."

"Commander… come on. It's me." Tom started trying to pull off a stubborn plaque while he murmured at his friend.

Shooting him a look, Chakotay could tell that something had happened to the lieutenant as well. "You done gone and got…?" He raised an eyebrow in concern and anger. He would be pissed if that had happened.

"What? No!" Tom was quick to answer. Though his face flushed. "I didn't get… that… no."

Mitch was on Paris' other side. He glanced over and couldn't help the snort. "I can guess. They didn't rape you. But they did pleasure you. And left you wanting more even though it wasn't consensual. It's still a form of rape, Tom."

Shaking his head, Tom was trying to answer, "But it… she… it was…" he trailed off, not knowing how to describe what he felt about it. It wasn't… he had wanted… but the memories came back. He'd said no. He'd said stop. Had it happened? No. Had he fought for it to stop? No. Did he want more? Yes.

Mitch again sighed, and whispered after the guard had walked on by, "They do that sometimes. Damn me if I know how. They just like to mess with your mind. Make you think it's not so bad after all. And when they do come after you… you'll think it's okay. That you deserve it. That you did something wrong and it's okay for them to hurt you." Pausing, Mitch looked lost, "Trust me. I know."

Chakotay had a hard expression on his face and looked away. A terrible place this was. He admitted at last, "She hurt me. Then I had to do oral on her and a guard. She hurt me again last night. I was still sore this morning. Better now. I haven't had it good yet. I don't know…" He was going to say that he didn't know if Lady Cassandra even knew how to give a man pleasure. And how would he handle it if she gave it to him? Things were very confusing. And he hated the fact that they were all being used. How had Una put it the other day? "Labour or a dick" was what she had said.

There was a soft huff and Mitch warned after sneaking a look to make sure the guard wasn't too close. He knew what was on Chakotay's mind. "She does know how. But…" he shut up as the guard came closer to them.

She stared at them, cocked her head while the three of them busied themselves. Not seeing anything wrong, she walked off to observe the other group and teasingly trail her cane over one slave's back and murmur something in his ear. She delighted when he shuddered.

Chakotay took a quick look and informed them with a hurried whisper, "Voyager is here."

Paris snapped his eyes up to meet the Commander's and whispered back, while Mitch froze too, "Voyager is here? What? Where?"

Shaking his head, Chakotay explained, "Not at Vordaria Prime. But in this sector. All she told me was that there was a 'big ship' here in the Dark Star Region, which is apparently this sector. It's…" he trailed off suddenly when he heard footsteps nearing them. The guard.

She watched them all then took Mitch by the collar, "Go work somewhere else, boy. You three are awfully close together. Go there." She pointed to the opposite side of Sick Bay. Then she watched the two Voyager men and spread them further apart from each other. The last thing she did before leaving the three of them alone was give them all several solid cracks of the cane, just to be on the safe side.

Chapter Text

Chakotay was currently out in the fields, slaving away. He'd been swapped out for Mitch, who was taking his turn as personal slave for Lady Cassandra. He hoped things would be okay for Mitch, but it was unlikely. He'd seen the hungry look she'd given him.

The day was hot under the twin suns. He was currently hacking at the tough ground to prepare a new field for planting, and kept having to stop and wipe the sweat from his face. That seemed to be the only break allowed, as the women would look over at him with a glare if he stopped too long. Again and again, Chakotay dug his shovel in, turning up the rich earth and shaking out the clumps. It was hard and dirty work, and he glanced around to see the progress of the rest of the group. They seemed to be making good time, but growing tired.

At last, Rachel, the lead guard, called a halt, and as one, the group dropped to the ground, not caring where they lay. It was mid-day lunch. Chakotay always shook his head when he heard that terminology. Lunch indeed. Lunch for the women. Break for the men, for they were only fed twice a day, at first sunrising, and when they got back at first sunset. Nevertheless, it would be a water break for them, and that the slaves looked forward to.

A small lad appeared with a heavy bucket, and Chakotay eyed the sloshing water before looking at the boy. He studied the sturdy lad with blonde hair and blue eyes. When it was his turn to take the ladle of water, Chakotay smiled at the boy. "What's your name?"

The boy looked up startled. He glanced at the guard, but whispeed, "I'm Yara." He gave a quick smile and pulled the ladle back to the bucket, even though Chakotay wasn't finished. Quickly refilling it, with another look at Rachel, and offered it again with a shhh motion on his lips.

Chakotay took the extra water gratefully and gulped it down as quick as he could. The slaves would rest for a half hour before starting again. Yara went from slave to slave offering water, trying to sneak extra to them if he could. Most of the time, the guards were watching though, and there was no opportunity.

When the women were busy eating, Yara sat down near the men. Chakotay motioned to him to come nearer, asking, "How old are you? You are a… slave?"

Flashing a smile, Yara proudly told him, "I'm eight." Going more serious, he said, "Um, yeah? All boys are slaves. Why would you ask such a thing?"

"Not all boys are slaves, Yara," Chakotay tried to explain. He sighed, "You were born here, I presume. I don't come from here. I came from…. the stars."

Yara looked puzzled. "The stars? What… how…" A flash of understanding came, "Oh, you came from the alien ships! Which one?" He asked excitedly, still keeping his voice low, knowing the women didn't like hearing the slaves talk loudly. They didn't mind low conversation though, on breaks.

Giving a soft smile, Chakotay immediately liked the lad. "Yeah, I came from a ship. The Delta Flyer is around here somewhere. But that's a shuttlecraft. My vessel is Voyager."

"Vo-ya-ger", the boy pronounced carefully. "I like that! It's a nice name. You were captured, I guess. That happens. Who was your mistress?"

Frowning, Chakotay corrected him, "I don't have a mistress. I have a Captain. She happens to be female, but they can be male too. She is very nice. The best Captain I've had the pleasure to serve under." He thought fondly of Kathryn, and hoped that she was dealing with everything well.

"Captain? The last Captain to come here died," Yara informed him. "Mitch's captain. He was a bad man. Bad slave."

Giving a sigh, Chakotay was about to respond when another slave poked him, "Careful, man. He really doesn't know much about life outside of Voldaria Prime."

Nodding in acknowledgement, Chakotay looked at Yara. What did they teach these babies here? Yara was… innocent. And yet he was condemned to a slave life since he was born. It seemed… unconscionable. "From what Mitch told me, that captain was… passionate. I can't pretend to understand everything, Yara, but I can tell you, on my ship, there are no slaves. Earth used to have them once upon a time, but we outlawed them."

Screwing up his face in an attempt to understand, Yara asked instead, "Did… Earth, you said? Did Earth kill them all?" He was uncertain of how to think about a planet razing the entire population of slaves.

"What? No!" Chakotay exclaimed a bit too loudly, but snapped his head around at Rachel's reprimand, "Keep it down, boy! Or I'll do it for you!" He sighed, rubbing his eyes, and lowered his voice, "No, we didn't kill them, Yara. We freed them all. We…"

The same slave that had given the warning, now spoke up again, "That is dangerous talk. We aren't to speak of freedom. For us, there is no such thing. I would stop talking of that now."

"Freedom?" Yara tried to understand, interrupting. "Be like the women?" But he shook his head, and agreed, "I don't think we're supposed to think like that. We aren't women. We are slaves." He paused though, and smiled, "I would like to see your ship, though. See what freedom looks like."

"Oh you would, would you?" a sharp voice snapped, and made all the men jump. Rachel had come up to them to tell them break was over. She had overheard Yara's last sentence and glared at the boy, who shrank down away from her in alarm. She narrowed her eyes at him and yanked him up. "I am going to speak to your den mother about this."

Yara's eyes rounded in fear and he pitifully cried out, "I'm sorry! I wasn't thinking of running away! I promise! I wou-" he was cut off off with a yelp as Rachel hit him. "I'm sorry, ma'am!"

Chakotay stood up with righteous fury, and snapped, "Hey! You will not hit a child!" He started to storm after Rachel when a hand caught his own. It was the slave who had warned him, and gave him a shake of his head.

Rachel looked from boy to man, trying to decide who to discipline first. At last she grabbed Yara by the wrist and glared at Chakotay, "Sit down, slave. You will not, ever, give a female orders." Her voice was level and deadly. "You both will be punished. I'll let the Phantom deal with you. Yara… you know what will happen to you?"

Looking shame-faced, the boy nodded, "I'll be spanked. If you think necessary, I c-could… be… c-...caned."

It broke Chakotay's heart to see the frightened look on Yara's face. The other slave… he didn't even know his name… whispered, "Don't react. Don't make it worse for yourself." Chakotay turned and looked into surprisingly green eyes, but shook his head. The boy was not going to pay for something that was his own fault. "Ma'am, Mistress Rachel, please do not punish him. It was my fault." He knew he'd landed himself in deep shit for this, but his principles were raging at him. He had to take the blame for this. "Punish me instead."

There was a hiss of frustration from the other slave, and a wild look from Yara. Rachel turned around to look at Chakotay with a deadly look, and snarled, "Shut up, slave. The boy will be punished." With that she whipped around and swung her fist, knocking the boy down to the ground with a punch. He grabbed at his face with a pained cry, and another sound was heard. A great bellow of anger erupted from Chakotay's throat as he ran over to the pair of them.

The next moment he was down on the ground, writhing from the collar. Chakotay tried to force himself up from the ground, wanting to protect Yara from Rachel. He saw from his place on the ground the young lad trying to shield himself, unsuccessfully. He was trying to crawl to Yara, despite the painful shocks running through him, his ears echoing from the blows on Yara's skin. At last both the shocks and the beating stopped and Chakotay scurried over to the sobbing Yara and cradled the boy in his arms. Rachel glared, but for once, did not say anything, only watched with arms crossed.

"Yara… I'm sorry, son…" Chakotay tried to say, running hands over the boy's abused body. Instinctively, Yara curled into him, still crying. "Shhh" Chakotay murmured to him. He waited until the sobbing died down before pushing Yara away to inspect him. He could already see Yara's face swelling from the initial hit and sighed. He'd get a black eye for sure. Guilt ripped through him. This wasn't right. Not right at all.

He looked up at the shadow that fell over them both, which belonged to Rachel. She had a steely expression as she commanded, "Give me the boy." Immediately Chakotay held Yara closer as he matched her glare. He wasn't going to give up the lad to further atrocities. Not trusting his voice, he shook his head at her.

She pursed her lips until it was a thin line of anger. "That was not negotiable. He will go back to his nursery. They will deal with him as they see fit. You, on the other hand…" She laid a hand on his collar with a threatening movement.

"I'll take his punishment. Give them both to me, ma'am," Chakotay insisted quietly. "It was my fault. He is not the guilty one here."

Rachel took in the fire in Chakotay's eyes. She knew this man was still new. Had been whipped. Had been taken by Lady Cassandra in her bed. He was still hindered by shackles. Beatings or rape had done nothing yet to dim that fire… for here he was, still standing up to her. "Get up," was all she said, authority lacing her words.

Chakotay would have resisted further but a soft whimper in his arms reached his ears, "It's okay. Honest. I'm fine." Yara stirred, pulled away reluctantly, and stood up for the woman, looking at his feet fearfully. Rachel stared at him but told the boy harshly, "Clearly you cannot be trusted out here by yourself. I'll take you in myself."

Yara wiped away his tears and took a brave breath. He glanced at Chakotay and gave him a watery smile before following Rachel. He'd take his punishment, like a good slave should.

The commander found himself pulled up roughly and told by another guard, "You're gonna get it bad, boy, for causing trouble. And talking about freedom. Come." He was forced to follow her, and glanced back to see the other slaves kicked up to get back to work. Clearly they were cutting the break short. He followed his guard to the whipping post and sighed. Lady Cassandra was already there, having been told of her wayward slave. Chakotay said nothing as he was tied to the post with arms spread. He tried to keep his eyes locked on hers even as the fiery pain scored his back. He was still locked on those grey eyes when he finally passed out from the whipping.

Neelix was walking through the town when he heard marching feet and automatically jumped out of the way. He blinked at the woman and child passing by and took another look. He knew this kid. That was Yara, wasn't it? And the deep scowl on the guard's face and the way her fingers gripped the boy's arm told him that something was amiss. Yara looked frightened but accepting. Quickly, Neelix was on their trail.

Arriving at the boys' slave quarters, Neelix asked and was granted permission to enter. He saw Silky right away, and noted that she looked grim. She noticed him and asked, "You've come about Yara, haven't you?"

Nodding, Neelix replied, "Yeah, I saw someone drag him in here. What's going on with that?"

"He was… apparently, very naughty. I put him in a private room. I have to go deal with him. I hate doing this, but it must be done."

"What happened, Silky?"

The woman turned to look at the Talaxian. In a level tone, she informed him, "Yara was caught speaking about freedom. This we cannot allow at any time. It is a greater offence if an eight year old is in question, because he might grow up with the wrong ideas. This must be nipped in the bud, immediately." She spun on her heel and marched off to what Neelix guessed was the room where Yara was being held. Instantly he followed, for he was curious.

What met his eyes when he slipped into the room with Silky was a tear-stained face that held fear for them both. Upon closer inspection, Neelix could see the bruises forming on the lad. Yara looked at Silky and saw what she held in her hand. Sighing and without being told, he turned around, stripped, and lay down on the table that seemed to be made for this purpose.

Neelix spoke up right away, "You can't cane him. He's not old enough for that." He had been about to say that he shouldn't be caned at all, but knew these women would never go for that.

"He's old enough to know what he's speaking about. Don't worry, Neelix. I'm gonna give him a good spanking first. Then just five lines of the cane. That's all. He can handle that." Silky reassured him before saying, "Perhaps you'd better leave." She paused and added, "If you want to see him later, you can. He'll be here for a good while. Yara needs to be taught the correct way again. He'll need to be supervised closely before we trust him again."

The Talaxian decided to take her advice and left. Shutting the door behind him, he walked to the other side of the hallway, peering into one of the slave rooms, taking in the young boys playing with each other. They looked so innocent, but Neelix knew now what kind of life lay ahead of them. He had another long look, and made a decision.

He could do nothing to save Yara right now. That meant doing something else. He was going to march to the Matriarch and tell her he wanted a slave after all. She might be surprised after all his adamant refusals of every offer of a slave, but his mind was made up.

He wanted Yara. If only to show him people could be kind. That life was not made up of collars, beatings, harsh words, and horror.

And if Voyager came, Yara would be free.

"Shields down to 82 percent," Tuvok intoned as the ship was shaken by another hit. He curled his fingers around his station to brace against the shock. As a Vulcan, he was not rattled but kept his focus on his task of returning fire even as Captain Janeway ordered it aloud.

Twin beams of light appeared on the screen as Voyager tried to shoot at the group of small ships. There was only one hit, and the shield held. The rest twisted out of the way and kept firing. Janeway sighed and asked no one, "Where in the hell do they come from? This is the third time they've slammed us!" She thought a moment then nodded firmly. "Whey they leave, as they will invariably do from the last two encounters. Kim, Stadi, tail them as quick as you can. They have to go somewhere."

"You got it, Captain," Harry replied. He looked tired, for he had been working overtime. He wanted his best friend Tom back… and he was pushing himself to the limits. He had poured over star charts with Seven, and had tried to get as many Bridge shifts as he could. Looking at the screen, he shook his head, "The buggers are fast."

The small ships slammed Voyager again with their weapons, searching her hull for a weak point. Voyager exchanged fire for a few more volleys before the ships finally broke off the attack and once again prepared to leave.

"I'm on them, Captain!" Harry cried as Lieutenant Stadi jumped Voyager forward to follow. He saw the first signs of the first ship going to warp and instantly he made Voyager follow suit. "Warp 6, Captain."

"Fast, for such small ships." Janeway commented with a frown. Normally the ones they'd seen around here had a top speed of warp four or five. She watched carefully as the ships gathered together into a group, speeding away. Suddenly, it happened. The first ship shimmered, then vanished from sight. The others followed one right after the other.

Harry was madly pushing buttons and looking back and forth from his console and the screen. "I"m looking for warp trails, or evidence of cloaking devices… they're gone, Captain. There's… nothing to follow."

"Flare." She snapped. Realizing she wasn't understood, she quickly explained, "A flare torpedo might show something."

Tuvok nodded and fired the torpedo. He watched to see if the Captain's...hunch… might be right. Humans and their hunches. He raised an eyebrow when one ship shimmered into view before leaping forward once again into invisibility. What happened next surprised them all. The ship suddenly lost its cloaking field and was skewed off track.

"Harry?" Janeway asked Ensign Kim, who looked down at his console, and reported immediately, "Their warp core is overloading! There's already damage and…" he looked up as the ship started to shatter. "Transporter is locked on four humanoids, Captain!"

The next second, the small ship exploded into a ball of fire. Kathryn sucked in a breath and immediately watched the Ensign for any report of saving someone. Maybe they'd get answers finally of who these people were.

There was a pregnant pause, and Harry smiled at the captain, "We got 'em! They're in Sick Bay." He looked again, and added, "Three are alive."

Kathryn jumped up from her chair and nodded, "I'm on my way. Tuvok, you have the Bridge." With that, she marched out quickly. Maybe now she could ask the burning questions she'd been wanting to ask: Who are they? What did they want? Where were her crewmates?

Chapter Text

Paris grunted as he hit the ground. That long bolt had been stubborn and it had take quite a lot of yanking to get it off. He winced as a flash of pain went through his arm and sat up to inspect the damage. Blood leaked through a nasty gash and he blinked at it. Damn it all to hell, he thought as he realized that the bolt, flying through the air when he jerked it, must have sliced his arm.

He looked up quickly as footsteps ran over to him, and the guard squatted down next to him, asking, "You alright, boy?"

It was the first time, with the exception of Hannah, that Tom had heard the least bit of concern in a woman's voice since he'd been here. Tom looked up with surprise, but nodded, "Yeah, I'm okay. That looks nasty though."

"It does," the guard replied. She looked at the bleeding arm and shook her head. "Well, that needs to be looked at. I'll grab someone to take you to the slave doctor." She reached for her communicator and spoke rapidly into it. "Can you stand?" she asked after putting it away again.

Paris nodded again, and stood up, cradling the injured arm to him, not caring if he got blood on his shirt. He leaned against Miranda's wall, looking around at the other slaves. This time he had been assigned to a hallway of B deck, and he noted that the slaves still ignored him, even with him bleeding a lot. They were too focused on their work, and he suspected it was out of fear.

Soon, another guard came up briskly, saw the damage and winced herself, "That looks nasty. Come with me, Tom." She commanded and for once, let him take his time walking through the ship and out the main hatch. They threaded their way back to the palace and behind it to a lone small building. "Devon? Another one for you," she said as she shoved Paris gently into a room.

Looking around, Tom realized this was a hospital or Sick Bay of sorts. Except this was for slaves only. He saw beds, two of which were occupied, and the male doctor brisky step towards him. He thought for one brief moment it was Voyager's hologram doctor, for he had a bald head, but another look showed him a much different face to Tom's disappointment.

Devon smiled briefly and said, "Thank you, ma'am, I'll take care of him." He led Tom to a nearby seat and had a careful look at his arm. "That's a good gash there. Might need stitches. Let me clean it up first."

As the doctor cleaned his arm up, Tom looked around more carefully. Then he glanced up at the man and saw the collar around his neck. "You're a slave too?"

Sighing, Devon nodded, "Yes, I am. All human males here are slaves. And that includes me. And because I am a male slave, I can only practice on other slaves. The women have their own." He quickly had Tom's arm cleaned and pursed his lips. "I think I had better do stitches. It will heal better and faster. That way you can get back to work faster. Which is what they will expect."

Cocking his head at Devon, Paris asked softly, "Who are the others in here?"

Glancing at the two beds, the doctor shook his head, "One of them broke his leg. Fell under a cart or something. I have to decide what to do with him, see how bad it is. But I have to ask for a machine that sees inside him. Only the women have it normally." He paused and added, "The other was flogged nearly to death. I'm just trying to keep the infections at bay."

"Oh, okay. What did he d- ow!" Tom nearly leaped out of the chair as he felt the needle going in. "That hurts, dammit!"

Apologizing, Devon told him, "I'm sorry. If you can't hold still, I'll have to strap you down. I'm quick at this. Had to be, the number of times I've done this."

Sighing, Tom replied, "I'll try. But give me a shot of something first, will ya? Before you try and poke more holes in me than I got already."

"I can't." Devon looked up at Tom's expression and explained, "Slaves aren't permitted painkillers. I can't give you one, I'm sorry. You're just going to have to bear it. I'm fast, okay?"

Tom stared at him, not even noticing now that he was being worked on. "What do you mean, no painkillers? How… how the hell does that even work?"

The doctor spoke even as his needle flashed in and out nimbly. "It's just the rules. We slaves are not allowed. Been that way since we left Earth. Or even before. I'm not sure why. But it… does complicate things."

Looking over at the the two slaves in the beds, Tom softly asked, "Like them, for example? How are you going to set his leg?"

Shaking his head, Devon whispered, "I don't know. Legs are hard and tricky. I'll do my best, I'm sure. It's the other one I'm more worried about. He can't rest well, but unfortunately his injuries are more common than not. And it takes a while for a whipping to heal well. It doesn't look any different from yesterday." He sighed deeply and admitted, "I feel like I'm just here to keep you guys patched up. There all done."

Startled, Tom looked at his arm. He'd been so engrossed in the doctor's tale, he hadn't noticed much with the arm. Now he saw he had a neat line of stitches and approvingly told him, "Wow, that is good work. And so fast. That is amazing without a dermal regenerator."

Now Devon looked puzzled, "A dermal regenerator? Oh, um… I think the women's clinic might have them. They heal… skin… without stitches?" Shaking his head at the idea of the slave clinic even having one, he told Tom, "You can hang out here for a bit. They won't come for you until they are sure that you're alright. They don't know how quick I am. So you get to have a break."

Tom saw his chance to finally have a rest, and free time. Nodding at the doctor, he first had a brief look around. It scared him the lack of medical things around, and how Devon had to make do with a lot of stuff. Then he visited the man with the broken leg. He had a short conversation with him before moving on to the whipped man, who was lying face down on his bed.

Paris sighed. It was a terrible sight, the deep criss cross wounds that scored the man's back. Then he looked closer. Something about this man looked familiar. The large frame, the short black locks… no, it couldn't be. "Commander Chakotay?" he asked in horror.

There was a muffled grunt and then the head turned painfully towards Tom. The tattoo was the final straw for Paris. He knelt down so he was eye level with Chakotay and whispered, "Chakotay? What happened, man? What did you do?"

The voice that came from the Commander's throat was cracked with pain, "I… I was… I was trying… to protect.. a kid. It… was… my.. fault." He tried to move his arm under him so he could prop himself more but gasped in pain, dropping down fast.

Devon was over there in a flash, and snapped lightly, "Don't move too much! You're just getting these scabs, and you don't want to crack them open again. I know it's hard, but just relax."

Giving the barest of nods, Chakotay sighed, and whispered, "It's… okay… I'm… fine."

"No, you're not fine!" Paris snapped, more out of shock and anger that someone would do this to his friend. His back looked… awful. And he knew that Chakotay had had not one hint of painkillers. That must be killing him to even breathe. "Chak… tell me… what happened."

Chakotay sucked in a breath, breathing through the pain, and whispered again in a low voice, "There… was a … kid. Eight. Slave. He thought… every man... was always... a slave. I told him… about… Voyager. About… freedom. He got… caught.. asking... questions. The guard… hit him. And he… cried. I had.. to … save him."

"Oh, Commander," Paris replied with a rub to his nose. "You shouldn't have done it. No wonder you got them pissed. I can guess the rest. You got whipped after that. Was she there?"


"Of course she would be," Tom mumbled. "I'm so sorry. Is there anything I can do to make it better?" He looked over at the terrible welts, feeling quite helpless to do anything.

Devon came back and with a bucket of ice cubes and said ,"You can do something. You can put this into a big and put it on him. THe ice will help cool it down. The swelling should go down with that, and it will numb the pain. it's the best I can offer for now. I wish I could do better. But for now, it has to stay unbandaged and open to breathe for a bit. It heals faster."

Nodding, Tom did as he was told. He felt so bad when Chakotay hissed at the weight of the ice, but it was apparent that it was indeed helping him. He looked around for a chair to pull up to sit by Chakotay and keep an eye on him as he cared for him. Then he remembered: no chairs. Slaves were not allowed. Grunting in frustration, he made himself comfortable on the floor, keeping an eye on his friend worriedly.

Neelix marched over to Lady Cassandra, whom he knew was taking the noon meal. He plunked down besider after waiting for her permission to sit. "Cassandra, I need to talk to you. I've made a decision. I want a slave."

That made her nearly spit out her sandwich. "You want a what?! I though you were so adamant on not wanting one. Why now?"

The Talaxian sighed and said, "Because I found the one I want. I didn't want one before, but I see now that it could be useful to have someone about. Helping with tasks and all so I don't have to do it all by myself."

Putting down her meal, Cassandra nodded and cocked her head at him, "Okay. I'm interested. What slave did you see that you want?"

"Yara. He's a kid. Eight years old."

Raising an eyebrow, Cassandra shook her head, "We don't sell them that early. A sixteen year old yes, but not eight. We don't like burdening them early. It wrecks them for adulthood. Besides, he would know nothing about the bedroom at that age. We go slowly until they are older and able to handle it."

Neelix was thoroughly disgusted. "I don't want a bed slave! Especially not a child!" He calmed his voice down, seeing her eyebrow raise No, I want a kitchen boy. and someone to be just a companion. That's all."

Cassandra watched him closely. Then she slowly pulled out her pad and clicked a few things. "Yara, you said? Y, a, r, a? Okay. I see here he was punished yesterday. You know anything about that?"

Huffing slightly, Neelix tried a different tack, "I know he needs a strong hand probably. But I can work with that. I like him. Strong work ethic and all. He suits me, and my needs." Neelix really hated talking about a slave, nevermind a child in this manner, but he knew that she needed to be coaxed around on this.

"Well, there's still the age thing. But I am willing to inspect this boy. See what the problem was today. It would be not the thing for you to take one on just out of sympathy." She picked up her sandwich again and continued to eat, in no hurry. She knew what the Talaxian was all about. But still, the situation intrigued her.

Finally she got up from her meal and motioned to Neelix to follow. She'd have a look at this Yara kid. Seeing Silky, she smiled and said, "I understand there was a boy named Yara who was punished yesterday? Did it have anything to do with my slave Chakotay being punished?"

Silky nodded, and explained, "He was out in the field giving water to the slaves, where yours probably was. The other slave was talking about freedom, and it sounds like Yara was interested and asking questions. He's that kind of kid… always questions. I've tried, my ladyship, to squelch him, to no avail. I guess he asked the wrong question at the wrong time, and Rachel caught him at it. She beat him a bit, then he was sent here. I've taken care of him."

Cassandra nodded and asked "I'd like to see him anyway." She waited as Silky left and soon came back with a frightened looking Yara. He gave a wide eyed look at the Matriarch, knowing exactly who she was, and immediately dropped to his knees in the way he had been taught.

She had a gentle voice for once, which made Neelix stare. "What happened, boy? I'm not going to hurt you."

Yara eyed her warily, but sensed it was okay to stand up, which he did. He looked embarrassed and answered, "Um, my lady, I was… I was wrong, but I… did tell him… he shouldn't be talking about it. And so did the other slave."

Cassandra nodded and squatted down to his level, asking, "What did my slave say, Yara? I just would like to know. I'm not blaming you. I just need to figure out where things went wrong."

The lad's breath hitched out of fear, but calmed himself down when he realized that she was not angry at him. He hesitated, then told her, "He said he came from the stars on a ship. And I asked who his mistress was, and he said he didn't have one. And that Earth had… out.. out… outlawed? Yeah, outlawed slaves. But not killed them. Freed them. That's when the other slave said to him to stop. And all I said was I wanted to see his ship one day… uh… um… just to see what…" he trailed off here fearfully.

But the Matriarch guessed. "You wanted to know what freedom was like." At the boy's nod, she sighed. Cassandra looked from Neelix to Silky then Yara. She stood up at last and studied him. "Well, small boys are curious about just about everything. It can be both good and bad. We just need to teach you the right thing." She paused and told him, "You can go back."

"Thank you, my Lady," he gave a brief bow, although it was obvious he was still sore. He flashed a brief good-natured smile, then followed Silky stiffly. As soon as the boy had gone, Cassandra turned to Neelix and told him, "I shall think about it. This would be easier if he was two years older… it is not unheard of to change ownerships of a ten year old. But at his age… I shall give it some thought." She paused and added, "In either case, he would still be housed here part of the day for lessons, and overnights. Would you be agreeable to that?"

Neelix nodded vigourously, "Yes, of course. I understand he would need his lessons, and I am sure he has his friends. Thank you for considering it."

Cassandra smiled, and asked him, "Was there anything else, Neelix?"

Now the Talaxian was nervous. "Um, yeah, actually. You said that Chakotay was the one who talked to Yara?" At the Phantom's nod, he whispered, "Oh dear. What happened to him?"

Briskly, she answered, "Oh, he was whipped very soundly. He won't be doing that again, that I can assure you."

"Whipped? Again?" Neelix asked in horror. "Where is he? I must see him!"

Raising an eyebrow, Cassandra considered not saying anything. But then she shrugged. It would be harmless for him to see the slave. Said slave was not going anywhere. "In the slave hospital. It's behind the palace. I only have one doc at the moment. But yes, you can go ahead and have a look. Devon should be there."

"Thank you, Lady Cassandra," Neelix bobbed his head before turning and dashing as quick as his Talaxian body would carry him. He found the building in short order and quickly knocked at the door before realizing it was open. Opening the door, he walked inside to see Paris bending over a man in a bed, and no one else.

Tom looked up, expecting Devon, but smiled in relief at seeing Neelix. Since he was the only one of them that was actually free, maybe he'd do something. "Neelix! Chakotay's been hurt badly. And there's nothing here other than ice cubes to help him." He looked again at his friend, helplessness and hopelessness written across his face.

Neelix hurried over and gasped in horror at Chakotay's lacerated back. "Commander! I heard what happened! You shouldn't have done it, you know. You really shouldn't have. But… oh dear. That looks bad. Where are the… medical supplies? And where's Devon?"

Paris sighed and flapped his arm around, "This is it. There's not a lot here for us slaves. You alright, Neelix?" He suddenly looked from Chakotay to Neelix, and wondered aloud, "Maybe you could get something to help him." Remembering Neelix's second question, he added, "Devon went with Liam to see if they can get an… what did they call it? X-ray? I think that's what they called it before scanners."

The Talaxian looked about, "Really? This is… all there is? And they left you alone?" He was still trying to wrap his mind around this "Sick Bay" for just slaves. And the Commander's condition had shocked him quite badly. He wished the Doctor were here to fix up the Commander perfectly. As it was, Voyager was… somewhere. Looking over at Tom Paris, he perked up a bit, "What do you need? I can get it! I can!"

"Er…" Tom looked down at Chakotay, who had his head looking at him. "He needs a dermal regenerator. Thing is… they're sort of… not allowed for slaves. Devon said the women's clinic had one. Wouldn't there be one for the aliens?"

Shrugging, the Talaxian replied, "Beats me. I'm sure there is, but I have not had the pleasure of needing to visit it. And… uh… would I be there or in another sort of hospital? I could ask, but…"

Tom shook his head, "No, I see what you mean. It would be suspicious if you don't have a need for it yourself. Damn. They make it hard, don't they?"

A whisper caught their attention, and a low moan of pain. Chakotay looked at them and shook his head slightly, "No… it's okay… I'm fine. No… trouble…"

Neelix was the first to react to that, "We're already deep in trouble, Commander! And we're… or at least… I am going to help you even if it kills me! We'll do this, okay? You just leave it our capable hands."

That did at least get a snort out of Chakotay, who whispered, "Neelix… you… would just… muck it… up…"

Both Paris and Neelix stared at him before Tom started to laugh. "I'm sorry, but he's not wrong. Your track record, Neelix… though you can talk your way out pretty much anything. But the thing is…"

Giving him a mild glare, but conceded the next moment, Neelix replied, "Well, if I got caught, any chance of me getting Yara would be gone." He saw their surprised expressions, and told them what happened, and how he had met the lad in the first place. He saw Chakotay smile faintly, glad that Yara might be taken care of in the best way ever. If it worked out. However, Neelix asked Paris, "Can't you ask someone… discreetly? You could go and I'll watch the Commander for you. You must know someone who might help you."

Tom sighed and stood up straight. "Devon isn't stupid. Look." He pointed downward and shuffled his feet, the shackles ringing against the chain on the wall. "I'm not going anywhere until I'm picked up. I got in here because I cut my arm, see?" He showed the neatly stitched wound, and continued, "Then… I don't know where I'm going. But…" Tom suddenly perked up. "This might be a long shot, but if you got in touch with Miss Hannah, she might help."

"Miss Hannah? Who's that?" Neelix asked with interest after giving the chain a cursory glance. It made sense why Devon was able to leave them alone. And Chakotay certainly was not going anywhere. But he was curious now about this Hannah character.

"She's… uh… a teacher at the girl school. I've… er… met her a few times," Tom told him with a hint of embarrassment. "She told me once to offer her something if I needed it." He desperately wished he could go to the other side of the room to explain to Neelix his offer, but with the chain only being the length of the bed, that meant he would just have to bury his pride. "You tell her… in private, that is, Neelix… um. That I will trade with her for a dermal regenerator."

Neelix gave him a long look. He had been a trader for years, and knew the tricks. However, something was fishy here. "What would the trade be, Paris?" He decided, for once, to be blunt with it.

Blowing out a breath, Paris collected his thoughts and told him quietly, "You tell her that I will give her… sex. However she wants it. One night of sex for the dermal regenerator." He saw out of the corner of his eye Chakotay trying to protest but quickly told him, "You are in no shape to tell me no. You need this. We need you, Chakotay." Turning back to Neelix, he lightly snapped at him, "You got that?"

The Talaxian stared at him for a good minute, but slowly nodded. There was no point in arguing with that tone, no matter how much he wanted to. "Okay," was all he said. Then Neelix turned to the door and paused at it, hesitating. Finally getting himself together, he flashed a quick smile, and marched out the door to find Miss Hanna.

Chapter Text

Captain Janeway steeled herself for some strange looking alien, something like the Vidiians, as she walked into Sick Bay. She did see the Doctor bustling about three beds, and looked around automatically for Paris before her thoughts brought her up short again. Paris wasn't here. She gave a brisk nod at Ensign Trayla, who was standing in as nurse. Kathryn approved of the young woman… she always did a good job. "Doctor?" the Captain asked, not wishing to interrupt anything, but needing information.

"Captain," the Doctor tersely acknowledged and kept working over a blanketed form. He nodded at her, saying, "Four females, one male. One of the females was dead upon arrival. This one here…" he pulled back with a sigh. "Just died." Turning quickly, he darted to the next bed to hopefully keep that patient alive.

Janeway walked over to the female that had just passed away, staying out of the Doctor and Trayla's way. To her great surprise, she stared into a human, or very human-like, face. She peered around at the others, and saw the one being worked also looked human. The male she could see on the other bed was the same. "Are they human, Doctor? Or an alien species that looks… similar?"

The Doctor looked up again, and said, "They are human. How, I don't know. This one is gravely injured. The man is the least worst off of them. I can possibly wake him up if you want to talk to him. But be gentle."

The warning was unneeded, but she nodded anyway. Going over to the man she put a hand on his own, then stared. He was wearing a simple shirt and pants unlike the colourful ones the women wore. What caught her attention the most was the metal collar around his neck. "Doctor?" She asked looking up at him.

"He came like that. I did try getting it off, but it won't budge. And I was rather busy trying to save the other one at the time," he replied with a shrug.

There wasn't anything she could do about that now. She touched his shoulder softly and said, "Hello. You're safe here. I'm Captain Janeway."

The man fluttered his eyes open and he looked startled as he saw the Captain. Sitting up fast, he immediately started apologizing, "I'm so sorry, ma'am. Just lemme…"

"Excuse me!" The Doctor glared at him. "You need to lie down and rest."

Janeway shot a look at the Doctor and smiled at the stranger, "You're safe. You're on the Federation Starship Voyager. I am Captain Janeway. What's your name?"

The man had a fearful look, and looked down quickly. "I'm Trevor," he whispered. "I…" he looked around briefly, and quickly slipped off the biobed before anyone could stop him, and sat on the floor instead.

Kathryn raised her hand up tot stop the doctor from saying anything. She squatted down on the floor, asking, "What's wrong? You're okay. You're safe, Trevor. Where did you come from?"

The flash of fear was still evident in his eyes. "I was on a bed. I shouldn't have been on a bed. I'll get punished. I"m sorry, ma'am. I'll behave from now on."

The Doctor watched him, then he took Trevor's hand and helped him stand up wordlessly. "I am the Doctor. Captain Janeway is very trustworthy. You are safe with us." He waved a scanner over him again, but soon stopped when Trevor leaned away fearfully. Frowning, the Doctor lifted Trevor's shirt up and sighed.

Janeway stifled the gasp. Trevor's ribs were a mass of bruises. And these were not from this attack… they looked too old. Turning around to his back when the Doctor tipped her a nod, she stared at what she saw. Criss cross scars lined his back, and a few of them actually looked newly scabbed over.

Trevor was shaking like a leaf, but did not say anything. He waited until the Captain made her way back to his front again and just focused his eyes ahead. He heard her soft question, "What happened, Trevor?"

He wasn't quite sure what she meant, but she must be answered, so he told her what had merited the last whipping. "I tried to snag a piece of bread from my lady's table. I was wrong, and I was duly punished."

That made both Janeway and the Doctor stare at him for a good minute, not comprehending. Then the Doctor turned away to see if he could wake the woman up, but he did ask Trevor, "Who is this?"

The man looked at the woman and quietly said, "Miss Heidi. My mistress. Where are the others?"

Captain Janeway laid a hand on his shoulder, but dropped it immediately because he had flinched hard. "I'm sorry, Trevor. They didn't make it."

Now he did look terrified. "I'll be blamed for it!" He calmed down the next moment, and nodded in acceptance, "But they can do as they wish." He blew out a long breath and looked down at the ground, steadying himself.

It was the Doctor who hit on it, "Trevor… are you a slave?"

There was a surprised nod, as if he was puzzled of why there was any question about it. Everyone… Kathryn, the Doctor, and Ensign Trayla… all stared at him. They were simply stunned into shock. Slavery on Earth was such a distant memory that it was no longer thought of much, and seen as horrible when encountered.

"Wait a minute… a slave? Then your…" she swallowed the bile the threatened to rise over the word, "...your mistress… is your owner? How…?"

Trevor shrank away from Janeway's questions. To him, she was a female. Someone to be obeyed. Someone to be terrified of. Someone who had the right to beat him if necessary. Though he hoped it wouldn't be necessary. He didn't understand the strange costumes, or why he was here. This new woman might look friendly, but he knew that this could be deceptive. He did try to answer her question, "Yes, Miss, she is my owner." He had now rolled over to his knees. "I've always been her slave. I…" he would have said more but he was interrupted by a soft groan and a movement in the biobed behind the Doctor.

He stood up quickly, but hung back behind the strange Captain and the man he had herard introduced as the Doctor. His mistress stirred, and raised a hand to her head. He watched as Janeway took her station next to the woman and repeated her introduction. The woman stared at her and sat up with help. "What… where's.. Dilly? And… Amelia?" When she realized they hadn't made it, she gave a sorrowful sound, covering her face, but soon composed herself with a nod and a grim look, and then the next question was "Where is Trevor?"

He was instantly at her side, "I'm right here, Miss Heidi. I'm sorry!"

She shook her head carefully, "No, it wasn't your fault." She took in his bruises on his face and gently touched them, "You okay?"

Trevor replied, "Yes, Mistress, I'm fine. Just a few bumps and bruises from being thrown around in the back. You, Miss? Are you alright?" After she nodded and smiled, he turned to the others to confirm, "She'll be okay?"

The Doctor nodded, "Yes, indeed. A bit of rest here and further treatment, and you'll all be as good as new." He gave a curt smile and began to reach for an instrument to give her another shot.

Kathryn watched the two strangers, hiding her puzzlement. It was obvious that Trevor was submissive to Heidi, and likely he'd been abused by her. That made the anger burn inside her, but she would hold it in for now. Heidi was in no shape for further questions, as she could see that Heidi was growing sleepy again. Giving an inward sigh, she put her questions on hold. They could wait until she felt better. Motioning to Trevor, she told him with a smile, "Come on. Let her rest. Let's get you settled."

Trevor could not help the flash of fear in his eyes but he gave a quick nod and was at her side instantly. He saw her raise an eyebrow, but she didn't say anything. He followed her out of Sick Bay, wondering briefly why this Doctor treated both him and Heidi. He stilled his thoughts and blankly followed her to a large room that smelled like food. He noted the Captain's sigh and longing look at the kitchen. He knew then she was missing someone… but who?

Turning at her voice when she greeted another man, Trevor studied the young man before her. He wore no collar, which confused him. Giving a glance around, he saw that he himself was the only one with a collar. He snapped back to attention when the Captain said, "Harry, this is Trevor. Why don't you show him around and assign him some quarters?" Giving an encouraging nod, she left the two men together.

Now he was even more nervous. He needed the guidance of a female, and eyed Harry warily. The young man smiled broadly and offered, "Come on, sit down. You hungry? I can grab you something to eat. Trevor is it? It's nice to meet you." He gestured at the seat next to him in a friendly way.

Staring at the seat, but shaking his head, Trevor said,. "I'll stand, thank you." He glanced around in wonder at the other people sitting, eating, and talking. He didn't understand this place at all. Men and women sitting together? Eating together? What kind of people were these?

The ensign cocked his head at him, not understanding. "It's okay, we don't bite. What can I get you to eat? Or do you want to go to your quarters?" He stood up as well to be polite, seeing the nervousness in Trevor's eyes. Trevor looked at him and shrugged. Taking that to be a yes, Harry guided him to the shaft and then down the hallway to the room assigned to him. "You have this one, your companion has the one next door." He opened the door and smiled, "I hope this is comfortable enough for you."

Stepping into the room warily, Trevor glanced around in a perfunct manner then asked, "Um, where is the… where is my area?"

Confused, Harry told him, "This whole room is yours, Trevor. Your companion… Heidi, I think? Heidi has the room next door."

Shaking his head wildly, Trevor lightly snapped, "I can't! I belong with my mistress. I can't be separated from her! I'm only a slave… I do not merit privileges that only the women use. Please just take me back to Miss Heidi. She did not give me permission to be this far from her." His body was trembling and there were beads of nervous sweat already clinging to his forehead.

Harry stared at him with the same horrified shock that Trevor had seen on the nice lady in Sick Bay… not the Captain, the other woman. He worried now that he had done something wrong, but Trevor knew the rules. He had to be with his mistress. Finally Harry told him with a puzzled glance, "Come on, I'll take you back to Sick Bay. It's not a problem. We can work out accommodation later when she is better. Okay?" Harry gave him an encouraging smile and led the way as Trevor followed him, and they soon made it back to Sick Bay, where the slave rushed to Heidi's side. Seeing that she was still asleep, Trevor breathed in relief and went to the floor. He ducked under the overhanging biobed and curled up in a tight ball.

The Doctor stared a moment, but then shrugged. He waved Harry off, mouthing, "Go. It's fine." He watched Trevor, wondering at his strange behaviour, but it seemed that he was settled now that he was near Heidi. Perhaps she really was his mistress and his owner. Walking over, the Doctor stooped down and proffered a blanket, "Here. Floor might be cold." He was rewarded with a grateful smile from Trevor, who wrapped the blanket around himself. The slave's eyes were full of wonder at its softness and looked up at the Doctor, who gave him a soft smile… as soft as the hologram could make it anyway… and heard the Doctor's gentle, "I'll be here if you need me. Don't be afraid of me. I will not harm you."

Trevor relaxed at the tone, and nodded, pulling the blanket up to his chin. He was still under the overhang, but for some reason, he did feel safe. He was still terrified of that "Captain" but this Doctor, while stern and crabby, seemed friendly underneath it all. Curling up into an even tighter ball, he listened for any stirring from his mistress. Not hearing anything, he took advantage of being able to sleep undisturbed.

Tom Paris lay in his cell, wide awake. Normally, he'd be exhausted after such a long day, but he'd been able to rest earlier with the slave doctor. He wished he could still be at Chakotay's side and help, but the guard had picked him up finally. Tom sighed as he looked down at his arm. It was still sore, but Devon's neat stitches were very well done. His guard had looked at it carefully and she'd told him he'd get the rest of today off, but he'd be expected to be back at it tomorrow. Tom knew he was lucky to be getting a break at all, so he hadn't even tried to complain.

Fiddling with the metal collar, he wished once more that the stupid thing was off his neck. He thought of Chakotay, still lying in the slave hospital, lying on that bed with such a mangled back from the whipping. Paris huffed in anger at that thought. Yes, Chakotay had been standing up for a kid and all, but he shouldn't have gone and pissed off the women like that. It had taken everything in Tom Paris to not react when Chakotay had told him that they'd whipped him so hard he'd passed out. He knew from the other slaves that this did not happen often. They must have been awfully pissed at the Commander.

Turning over onto his side, Tom tried to sleep. However, before he could drift off, he heard the far door in the hallway open. Suddenly alert, he noted the other slaves in their cells up as well. Footsteps echoed on the hard cement, and then a form stood in front of Tom's cell. He looked up and his breath caught in his throat. Miss Hannah. The ash blonde hair was pulled back into a high ponytail, and she studied him with that blue eyed gaze that was almost ice cold.

Finally she smiled, and said, "I was intrigued when Neelix came to me and told me your offer. I have to say the Talaxian can talk a good talk when he wants to. I am interested in said offer." She didn't wait to see if Tom would say anything, but immediately unlocked his door and held out a leash.

Tom sighed, but stood up and allowed himself to lead away. There were slight murmurs from the other slaves, but he ignored them completely. Instead his mind was on the offer he had made: One night of sex for the dermal regenerator. Any way she wanted it.

Neither person said anything as Hannah led him to her house. It was a nice house, simple but roomy, the way most of the houses were. Tom noted some sort of bright purple flowers around and had a quick thought, Kes, if she were still here, would have liked them. But now was not the time to be thinking of Kes, or Voyager.

Up to Hannah's room they went. Looking about, Tom saw a bed with a pink cover, and green plants hanging here and there. The room looked like a good place to relax in, but Tom knew otherwise. He felt the flutter of nerves in his chest as he wondered what would be expected of him. Would Miss Hannah be nice? Or would she take advantage of him?

Hannah locked her door and swung around to study Paris. She knew he would behave for him. He'd found out about the collar, and he had asked for this… little meeting. She tilted her head at him, then quite calmly told him, "Strip, boy." Tom only hesitated slightly, reminding himself of the deal, and quickly stripped, folding his clothes in a neat pile by his feet, straightening up and looking ahead when he was done.

Coming up to him with a smirk, Hannah whispered in his ear, "I see you're all ready, boy. Gonna have some fun, yeah?" She stroked his cheek, then leaned in for a kiss. Playing her tongue across his lips, she waited until he opened up for her willingly, and smiled against him as she pushed her way in. Hannah wrapped a hand around the back of his head for more leverage as the other hand explored his chest. Pushing against him, she walked him backwards until the back of Tom's legs hit the bed.

Tom could not help the groan of pleasure. This wasn't so bad. He let Hannah push him onto to the bed, and watched with interest as she sensually stripped off her own clothing. He wanted nothing more than to help, but knew his place. Soon, her weight was on top of him, and she was kissing him hard once more. Tom kissed back eagerly, and gasped into her mouth when she settled herself and took him inside her. Moaning, he let Hannah ride him and tried to lay his hands on her chest and play with her breasts, but she pulled back long enough to snap, "Keep your hands to yourself, boy."

Nodding, Tom let his hands drop, but quickly found she did allow him hold her hips. He moved his own hips in time with hers and the moans of both grew louder. Grunting slightly as Hannah adjusted herself, Tom watched with half-closed eyes. Her body was amazing. This was amazing. Chakotay must have been just merely unlucky with the Matriarch and her ways… because this right here… was blowing his mind. Hannah was… better than he'd imagined.

Suddenly, she cried out, and shook against him. Tom's breaths came in hot and heavy, and he nearly came himself, trying to wiggle his hips to get himself over that edge. A finger laid on his lips, and Hannah, who had dropped to lie on top of him, whispered, "Easy, boy. You'll get it in a moment." She panted into his shoulder before sitting up and swinging off Tom. "Wait," she told him as he started to protest, laying a hand on his member and starting to stroke. "You aren't releasing into me, boy. There is a time and place for that, and this isn't it." Smiling as Tom finally convulsed under her fingers, Hannah patted him now, saying, "There, see? You just had to be patient, didn't you? Was that good?"

Nodding vigourously, Tom had to grin at her, "Yeah, that was… very good. I understand about… not relea-… no I get it." He relaxed now, content, and he raised his head up a bit, "So the deal…"

"Now, wait a minute. You promised me a night. Not one round. Not done with you yet. Not by a long shot," Hannah purred at him. She cleaned him carefully, then gave him featherlight kisses. A hissing sound next to Tom's ear made him turn his head in surprise.

"Wait, what did you do? What is that?" he asked in confusion. Staring at the hypo in Miss Hannah's hand, his eyes went wide with recognition, "Is that the serum? I thought we…" His voice trailed off in shock. He had thought they had something going together. Something good.

Hannah glared at him, and hissed, "Shut up boy. I let you have your fun, because it was your idea. Now it's time to have my idea of fun. You promised." With a firm hand, she grabbed Tom's hand and brought it up over his head and snapped a chain on the wrist. Tom startled, not having seen that when he had come into the room, but perhaps he'd been too focused on Miss Hannah. As he thought about that, the second cuff was snapped on. Then she went down to his feet, and similar chains were tugged on to his ankles, leaving his legs spread a bit.

The thing that scared Tom the most was the stirring he could feel down below. He was getting hard, yes, but there was something else. Something decidedly unpleasant. In the back of his mind, he knew that the other slaves had said this serum hurt. However, on some level, he hadn't really believed them. When Hannah laid a hand on his member, he realized there and then that the stories were true. Wincing at her touch, he stared up at her, not daring to say anything.

Seeing he was ready, Hannah had a smirk on her face as she climbed back on. What came next blew Tom's mind in a very different way. When she settled down on him, it was unbelievable just how much it hurt. He was determined to not beg. To not show her his pain. To make her realize that he was unbreakable.

He still broke.

It was unbelievable to Tom how this serum made him feel. It made his genitals sensitive to the touch, but not in the pleasurable way. It hurt. So much. Any touch that normally would have been pleasurable was replaced with excruciating pain. It felt like thousands of needles that had been dipped in alcohol were now stabbing him where her body wrapped around his member. And when she reached down to touch his balls, he could not help reeling from it, yanking on his chains hard, not even noticing the bruises starting to form.

The only thing that got him through the nightmare of pain, sweat, struggles, yelling, and even begging was the thought of Chakotay. The Commander needed this… the slave doctor had been worried about infections… about Chakotay not being able to heal from such a vicious whipping…and slaves weren't allowed painkillers... so this sacrifice would be worth it. Tom hoped it would soon be over. She'd taken him through two horrible rounds, and he was exhausted.

"Please… please… no more. No…" he let his voice trail off as she lay on his chest again. His breaths came in deep rasps, glad for the break, since she wasn't moving. It still hurt so bad though, and he could feel the salt of his tears crusting his face. He hoped to hell she was done.

Hannah laughed softly, and rubbed his chest with a gentle touch that belied her real nature. "You've been so good, boy. So fun. You should have seen the look on your face when you realized what this was all about. I can ride you as much as I like, since you'll stay hard for me for a couple of hours. And you can't come at all like this… so I don't have to worry about anything. And… you know your place now. Your friend told you true. You lot are to us just labour or a dick. That's all. Nothing more. Though… I like you. Very much." With that she kissed him deeply, in just the way that drove Tom crazy, and he was helpless to push her off, chained as he was. Then she sat up and put a gag on him, saying, "You're getting rather noisy. This should help." Caressing his cheek again, Hannah drew back and once again plunged Tom Paris down to his deepest hell.

He wasn't sure how late it was when she finally had enough of him, but he was totally drained. When Tom was freed at last, he cried out as he swung his legs over and tried to stand up. His legs failed him, and he dropped to the floor in a crumpled heap. Tom did shudder slightly when Hannah laid a hand on his shoulder and murmured, "The pain will pass. Thank you, boy. You were a worthy companion. I greatly enjoyed this time. However, we had a deal. You did your part. It is time to do mine."

Tom stared at the dermal regenerator she laid on the floor in front of him. Was it real? Looking up at Miss Hannah, he tried to ask but she again laid a finger on his lips. "I am an honourable woman. I like you, and I wanted to help you when Neelix came and told me what you wished. And I have wanted you for a while anyways." She paused and ran a hand through his damp locks, smiling at him sweetly. "You know the rules. I'm willing to give you the regenerator. Have Devon look at you again, check out the stitches and give it to him then."

"But… I can't just hand it to him! I'd get worse than… I just did," Tom protested. He couldn't imagine the level of shit he'd be in.

"Spread your legs," Hannah commanded him. She ignored the sigh and whimper and got a piece of strong tape and tied it to the inside of Tom's leg. "There. Once your pants are on, no one will know. You're good to go now."

Giving her an incredulous look, Tom struggled to his feet. He took care to keep the curses inward, and barely managed it. He staggered once, but did keep his feet. He was going to be bruised and swollen from the rough treatment, but he had gotten what he came for. This time Hannah did not bother with a leash as she led him back to his cell, and did not look back after she locked it again, ignoring Tom collapsing on the floor.

Tom panted, groaning as he rolled over. He reached to his pants to check and see if the regenerator really was still there. It was, to his surprise. Somehow, he'd expected it to disappear, and everything he'd gone through was for nothing. He tried not to dwell on his experience, but did have to wonder how the hell these women had come up with a drug that affected men like that. He certainly did not sleep the rest of the night.

Devon came early in the morning, even before first sunrise, on the pretence to check the healing of Tom's arm. He looked around cautiously before grabbing the dermal regenerator, and whispered, "He'll thank you for this. I'll use it carefully. Can't have him heal too rapidly, but enough to close his wounds. Thank you."

Nodding at the doctor, but he'd already gone, Tom lay on his back with eyes open. It was incredible the level of pain he was still, but it was exponentially less than the actual act. His wrists and ankles were bruised from all the yanking on them, but his entire centre of pain radiated from between his legs. Closing his eyes again, he hoped for sleep. Unfortunately, his hopes were dashed, as the morning food slave came, dished out their food, and soon collected it. Tom ate none, still feeling too gross and dirty to eat. Perhaps he'd be deemed too injured to work this morning.

No such luck.

The guard dragged him up then saw the angry red marks on his wrists. She felt his genitals and grinned at the gasp and grimace. "You had some fun last night boy? And I bet you're thinking you can shirk work today. You'd be betting wrong, boy." She gave him a hard shove, and her look brooked no objections. Tom groaned, but nodded. The twin suns found him working hard in field, back smarting from the unfair lashes for "being too slow", groin aching, and a blank mind. Blank except for the fact he was in a small way satisfied. Chakotay would be okay.

Chapter Text

Mitch strode into the slave medical clinic. Glancing about for Devon, he sighed as he caught sight of him in the back room. "Devon! What do you think you're doing? This is dangerous stuff."

"What?" Devon shot out of the office space and nearly collided into Mitch. "I'm sorry ma'a- oh, it's you, Mitch. You got something wrong with you again?"

Sighing, he tried to glare at the doctor but shook his head instead. "No, I had a few minutes of free time. You know." Here he put air quotes around the words, "For being good." He blew out a breath again and said, "I heard about the dermal regenerator. That was stupid, dangerous, and why would you even do such a thing?"

Devon rubbed the bridge of his nose and quietly asked, "Do you know how long it's been since I've held a dermal regenerator? I was able to actually heal a man… even if I had to do it gradually, in stages, so they didn't catch on. But, Mitch, I'm tired of just patching people up. This is not what I signed on for."

"Do you think this is what any of us signed up for?" Mitch shot back. "I know you miss the Miranda… but you're lucky, Doc. You don't have to pull it apart and gut it. It's… it's like murdering your best friend."

Looking over at the blonde man, Devon swallowed hard before saying, "It's been hard for all of us. The captain… I was there, remember? When he died… it was me who pronounced him dead. I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest, Mitch. We'd known each other for so long." He paused and asked, "Why are you so against this dermal regenerator?"

Leaning against a bed, which wasn't even a biobed, Mitch stared at him incredulously, saying, "Really, Devon? It's only, you know, a smoking gun that us slaves aren't supposed to have? And you made a deal with a woman?! A woman that now has it over our heads?"

"But the deal was with Paris. Not with me," the doctor pointed out.

Giving an exasperated growl, Mitch snapped, "And Tom Paris had no right to make such a deal. We're supposed to lay low, not cause trouble… and he did exactly the opposite. Only he got… used… for his trouble. And now Miss Hannah knows that the Voyager men are all entwined in this… and you. Which could lead back to me. And that… is not something I like." He crossed his arms and sighed. "Look, it's well and good that Chakotay is up and back out to duties again. He's slow, but doable. And Paris… he's an ass, sure, but he's too loyal. I know this thing knocked him down a peg or two. But he can't keep doing this. He'll be like…" Abruptly he stopped and stood up as if to go.

Devon's voice stopped him in his tracks. "He'll be like you, is that right, Mitch? You've put yourself in harm's way often enough for the rest of us." The doctor ignored the other's glare and asked pointedly, "Just how often are you used anyway?"

"That is none of your business, Devon," Mitch said with a bite in his voice.

Devon was quiet, but firm. "I am your doctor. It does make it my business. I know the Phantom is't the only one. So what is it? A good week is what? Once? Twice?"

Mitch froze to the spot. He hated even thinking about this stuff. But this was his friend. But Mitch liked to keep his shame and pain to himself. Devon had complained before that he rarely saw Mitch, only when his injuries were truly bad enough. The former first mate looked around at the doctor with an unreadable expression in his eyes. "Twice. A good week," he muttered under his breath. He knew what the next question would be.

"And a bad week?" was Devon's soft inquiry.

A deep emotional breath escaped Mitch. A bad week. A bad week ripped the heart out of him. No one was supposed to know. His job was to keep crew morale up… not depress them. To support his crewmates. Not let them into his hell. Standing there, Mitch could do nothing more than shake his head.

Devon understood. He went up to his friend and took a hand in his. Seeing the wrist scars, the doctor did not comment on them. Most of them carried such scars. His eyes traveled to Mitch's silver collar, then up to the haunted expression. "I'm not going to say it's okay. It's not. But I can't help you if you don't share. Don't keep it all inside, Mitch. I want to know so I can help you. What does a bad week look like for you?"

"A bad week…" Mitch started to say before trailing off. He felt Devon squeeze his hand encouragingly. The whisper came, "Every day. A bad week is every day. A bad week is also multiple times a day. I can't…" he cut himself off again with a jerk of his head, looking away from Devon.

The doctor swallowed hard. Mitch didn't deserve such things. Hell, no one did. "I'm sorry," he said, knowing the words wouldn't fix a thing. They seemed so insignificant, hanging in the air between them. So he added, "I know you're trying, Mitch. But please… you are able to come see me when you wish. Lady Cassandra said that. So come. Come and talk to me. I might not be able to help… but at least I can listen."

Mitch looked at him for a long moment before sighing and pulling his hand away. "Thanks. I just… I don't want to burden you."

"Come on, man. What do you think I see every day? The men come in, I do what I can with what I have… and send them back out to the hellish place they came from. And then they return… and I am expected to patch them yet again. How do you think that feels? I'm not the only one suffering from Miranda's loss, Mitch. But it is lonely here. And Mitch? A burden is best shared between friends," Devon told him quietly.

"Are… are you?" Mitch asked significantly. He didn't know why he had to know… he just did.

Devon grunted as he began wiping down the beds. He might not be able to alleviate his patients' pain… but he could at least keep the place clean. "Yes," was all he said. After a pause, he gestured to the back office, he told Mitch, "They do it back there. Sometimes even if I have patients already."

Mitch tensed, fighting the instinct to run out and give those women hell. It was one thing for himself to be used; it was part of his job. But for the doctor… it wasn't right. None of this was right. But there was nothing he could do. Reluctantly, Mitch slumped as the anger ebbed into defeat. He couldn't change anything.

Hearing Devon say something, but not understanding what it was, Mitch asked him to repeat it. The doctor was more than glad to do so, and said again, "Voyager. Chakotay was saying something about Voyager being in this sector? Is that true?" Devon's eyes shone with hopefulness. Just maybe…

"He did say that," Mitch agreed. "And I did hear Lady Cassandra saying that too." He dropped his voice conspiratorially, "She said the jumperships were testing her out. They've attacked it a few times, you remember how it was. I don't know if she is going to try and take the ship, with a woman captain." Shaking his head, he warned, "You didn't hear it from me though."

A smile appeared on Devon's face and he winked right back. "Do you think…?" He didn't dare state his deepest wish though he knew Mitch knew exactly what it was.

Dropping his eyes to the floor, Mitch bit his lip. He had hope for the same thing. That Voyager would just sweep in and take them all away. The ship was searching for Chaktay, Paris, and Neelix, that much was certain. But Voyager was Federation. Voyager meant Earth. Home. "I… I don't know," he replied truthfully. "It would be nice… but… it could easily go the other way, Devon. Like Miranda. And that… that would be…" He did not need to say the rest.

Mitch thought back to the day Miranda was brought down. How they'd watched the women swarm her, seizing whatever they desired. In fact, he'd seen his own precious copy of Watership Down in the Matriarch's room. Then the men had been taken away… and beaten into submission. And later… stripping the ship. Devon hauled away to this depressing four walls that they called a slave clinic. The Captain dead under the lash. Himself in Cassandra's bed. The others… he didn't even know what had happened to most of the others. And Lucy… he cut his thoughts off there. Lucy was not to be thought of anymore.

"It would be best if Voyager did not come, Devon," he said slowly. Seeing the look in his friend's eyes, Mitch explained, "Which would you rather? Voyager moving on, back home again… without three of her crew? Or all of them here, and a repeat of what happened to us?"

"Shit," Devon swore. "I don't want to stay in this terrible place! But… you're right. In the words of that Vulcan Spock, 'The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.'"

"'Or the one,'" Mitch finished for him. He understood the doc's feelings all too well. "I know, Doc. It's hard being that 'one' all the time. It's just…" he was interrupted by a sound at the door. Leaping to attention, for surely he must be late now, Mitch stood at the ready.

The two men stared at the brunette woman who had come in. She looked in surprise at the former first mate but soon dismissed him. "Ah, David, is it?"

The doctor wanted to give Mitch a sidelong glance, but thought better of it. "Devon, ma'am. And to what do I have the pleasure of your presence?" He looked around behind her, thinking - or hoping - she had an injured slave with her. He'd met this one a few times, and he was immediately nervous.

She was alone.

"I think you know perfectly well, boy," she giggled and came near to Devon. The next moment she kissed him lightly, and the gleam was in her eyes. "Back room, boy. And I just got a refill. You know."

Mitch watched as she pulled out a small container of clear liquid out of her pocket, and he turned away slightly. Not enough to turn his back on her, for that was forbidden in these close quarters, but enough that he didn't have to see the look on Devon's face. His anger surged briefly, but he quickly made his excuse to leave.

Hurrying back to find Lady Cassandra, Mitch went over the conversation they'd had. He did hope Devon had an easy time of it. Easy meaning the woman was a "one and done" and she'd leave him alone after that. Though chances were not terribly good. But again… he was helpless to do a thing.

Fingers running over the hated silver collar, Mitch stepped into the Phantom's bedroom. She looked up from her papers and snapped at him, "You're late."

"Yes, ma'am, I am late. I apologize," he was quick to say and knelt at her feet. "I am sorry I got distracted and failed to return promptly."

Cassandra cocked her head, studying the slave. "I'll make sure you are sorry," she told him with a smirk. She hit him once across the face, splitting his lip easily. "Up, boy. Shirt off, hands against the wall."

Mich was quick to obey, and braced with both hands flat against the wall. He heard her pick up her cane and sucked his breath in. With any luck she wouldn't break the skin. And he'd keep his mouth shut. He was determined not to give Cassandra the satisfaction of hearing him scream. At least it wasn't a 'real' whipping. He grunted under the strokes, and barely heard someone else shuffle into the room. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Chakotay. The other man was struggling, he could tell, not to say anything or react. Swish! Another line of fire laced over his back as Mitch focused on Chakotay.

Because Chakotay meant one thing to Mitch.