“Kathryn!” Kashyk rushes to her side, hands gentle as he tilts her chin toward him, worried eyes searching her face.
“Captain,” says Chakotay coolly, standing straight and wary in the centre of Kashyk’s quarters. “I assumed you had transported back to Voyager.”
Kathryn can’t seem to catch her breath. She stares up at him.
Chakotay’s expression changes. “No,” he says, softer, “I’m wrong. You’re not my captain.” He taps his combadge and starts, “Intruder al-”
But before he can finish, Kashyk uncoils to his feet, strides across the room and lets fly with a cracking punch across Chakotay’s jaw that sends him staggering backward.
“I’ve been wanting to do that for two years,” Kashyk declares with satisfaction.
Chakotay pushes away from the bulkhead Kashyk has knocked him into, one hand rubbing his jaw, dark eyes murderous. “And you’re definitely not Kash,” he says evenly, then presses his combadge again. “Security team to my location. We have intruders aboard.”
She can’t take her eyes off him.
It’s him, whispers the air she can’t quite sip into her lungs.
It’s not him, the cold logic centre of her mind informs her sternly.
But it is, pleads the warmth in the pit of her stomach and the trembling of her hands.
Chakotay, for his part, is staring right back at her. And it’s not the battered leather outfit or the mussed, grey-streaked hair or the stubbled jaw that convinces her that this is not her – she stops that thought in its tracks – not the Chakotay from her universe. It’s his eyes.
Her universe’s Chakotay never looked at her so coldly.
The door to Kashyk’s quarters – no, not Kashyk’s quarters, she reminds herself – swishes open and two men enter. Kathryn can’t suppress the whimper that rises in her throat at the sight of the first.
“Tuvok,” she rasps.
Her oldest friend looks at her carefully. “Commander,” he addresses Chakotay, “this would not seem to be Captain Janeway.”
Chakotay flicks him a faintly incredulous glance.
Ayala shoulders his way past Tuvok to wrap a large hand around Kashyk’s bicep. “Looks like we have two impostors.”
“Take them both to the bridge,” Chakotay instructs. “We’ll let the captain decide what she wants to do with them.”
Tuvok’s dark gaze, as cold and remote as Chakotay’s, alights on Kathryn’s face. “With me.”
Swallowing, she forces her feet to move, carrying her ahead of him into the corridor. She can hear Kashyk protesting loudly behind her, a scuffle, but apparently Ayala’s grip is punishing enough to deter him from further resistance. He falls in beside her.
“You miscalculated, my love,” Kashyk mutters, sotto voce.
Kathryn shoots him an icy glare.
“Move,” Ayala says tersely, shoving him in the back with his phaser.
Kashyk stops abruptly, forcing Ayala to sidestep him quickly so he doesn’t run into his back, and turns, teeth bared.
“Poke me with your little gun one more time and I’ll show you a brand-new place you can holster it,” he grinds out.
Ayala’s eyebrows shoot up into his hairline and he laughs in disbelief. “What did you say to me, frill-face?”
“Kashyk,” Kathryn warns quietly.
Kashyk ignores her, squaring up to Ayala. “You think you scare me, pretty boy? In the past few hours I’ve been whipped, bound, stabbed, insulted, and forced to watch as my woman is –” He cuts himself off. “And just when I think it’s all over, that I’m back to my life, on my ship that I command, this oaf –” he gestures in Chakotay’s direction – “stomps into my quarters and has me hauled off to gakkk-”
He’s interrupted by Chakotay’s fist closing around his neck so forcefully Kashyk can’t even gasp.
“I recommend,” Chakotay says in a voice as soft as it’s deadly, “that you shut your mouth, and don’t open it again until you’re directly addressed.” His grip tightens fractionally. “Do you understand?”
Kashyk, face red, manages to nod.
“Good,” Chakotay says, releasing him.
Kashyk coughs, hands to his throat as he doubles over sucking in air.
Kathryn swallows against her thudding heart. “You could have just asked,” she says to Chakotay, trying to keep her voice from wavering.
He barely spares her a glance. “Keep moving,” he says dismissively, and pushes past them, striding down the corridor.
Like Kashyk’s quarters – or rather, this universe’s version of them – the bridge of the Devore ship is almost indistinguishable from its counterpart in Kathryn’s timeline. Except, of course, for its personnel.
There are Devore stationed at several consoles, most of whom she recognises, but Rollins is at tactical and Jenkins at the helm. And then there’s the woman who rises from the centre seat, her coppery hair cut to chin-length and tousled around her sharp-cheekboned face, her lithe body encased in butter-soft leather that fits her like a second skin.
Chakotay leads Kathryn and Kashyk to the centre of the bridge and stations himself silently just behind the left shoulder of the woman facing them.
A slow smile curves her incredulous lips. “What’s this, Commander?” she husks. “Did I unwittingly step into a holoprogram, or have I broken a mirror? I hope that doesn’t mean seven years’ bad luck.”
Kashyk shakes off Ayala’s restraining hand and steps closer. Kathryn watches as his gaze drags deliberately over her doppelganger’s slender form.
“If I’d known you looked this good in leather, Kathryn,” he drawls, and she’s momentarily uncertain which of them he’s addressing, “I’d have dressed you in it long ago.”
He turns back to her, eyebrows arching.
“Though you do look lovely in silk, too. I’m afraid I’d find it difficult to choose.”
The words are barely out of his mouth before Ayala’s hand clamps down on his shoulder, sending Kashyk to his knees with a grunt of pain. Ayala leans in close to Kashyk’s ear.
“That’s two chances,” he utters, voice low with menace. “You won’t get a third.”
“No, you won’t,” intervenes the woman in leather. She bends to lock eyes with Kashyk. “And you may address me as Captain Janeway. You haven’t earned the right to call me by any other name.”
“My apologies,” Kashyk grates out, “Captain.”
Janeway straightens, dismissing him from her attention, and moves to stand directly in front of Kathryn.
“So,” she remarks. “I’m guessing you’re from the other side of the looking glass.”
She lifts one gloved hand, twining a lock of Kathryn’s hair – longer than her own – around her fingers and letting it fall.
“What am I like, over there?” she murmurs, seemingly to herself. The tips of her fingers sketch lightly over Kathryn’s face, her hair, and follow the bare lines of her throat, her collarbone, the swell of her breast.
Kathryn sucks in a breath, and Janeway’s focus snaps sharply back to her face.
“Well,” Janeway declares, her tone slow and rich with delight. “This has potential.”
“Get. Your hands. Off me,” utters Kathryn through clenched teeth.
The smile fades from Janeway’s lips, and she takes a measured step closer, and another, until her leather-clad breasts brush Kathryn’s nipples, stiffening them under the flimsy silk slip.
Kathryn can feel the other woman’s breath on her face, can see the flecks of grey and gold in her eyes and the faint freckles across her nose. Her pulse kicks up and perspiration breaks out along her hairline.
In a soft, husky drawl as familiar to her as her own reflection, the other woman whispers, “I’ll put my hands on you whenever, and wherever, I want,” and she slides one slender hand between Kathryn’s thighs and up, up, and in.
“Stop it,” Kathryn grates, and clutches Janeway’s wrist.
She can’t help the flicker of her gaze in Chakotay’s direction. But he stands silent and impassive, his eyes remote.
There’ll be no aid from his quarter. The knowledge chills and weakens her, and her grip wavers, allowing the other woman freedom of movement.
As Janeway’s gloved fingers begin to delve and stroke, Kathryn grasps her forearm, nails digging in, her whimper echoing the other woman’s hiss of pain.
Chakotay shifts at Janeway’s side, and she purrs, “As you were, Commander,” and chuckles at the instinctive cant of Kathryn’s hips as her thumb plays over Kathryn’s clitoris.
“That’s right,” Janeway croons, one hand busy under Kathryn’s slip, the other coming up to circle her bruised throat just firmly enough that Kathryn’s attention is diverted by the implied menace, “I know just how to touch you …”
Kathryn’s eyes cut desperately to Kashyk, but even if he hadn't been under threat of grievous bodily harm from Ayala, he’d be of no use to her either. He’s entirely fascinated by the slow, accomplished stroking of Janeway’s fingers, the trembling of Kathryn’s thighs, the gusting of her breath from between parted lips, harsh in the silent air of the bridge.
And Kathryn knows that in another minute – despite the danger they’re in, despite everything her body has endured these past hours, despite the avid presence of these distorted versions of the people she once considered family – in another minute, she’s going to come.
She can’t bite back a whimper of distress.
Her deliverance comes from an unlikely source.
“Captain,” says Tuvok from behind her, “as chief of security, I should point out that these intruders must be examined by myself and the medical staff before any … personal interaction … occurs. They could be carrying infectious pathogens, or implanted with concealed bio-weapons. We have no knowledge of their intentions or of how they arrived in our universe.”
With an irritated sigh Janeway steps back, pulls her hand from under Kathryn’s slip and laps delicately at the glistening leather on her fingers. “You always have to spoil my fun, Tuvok. Fine. Examine them quickly, and then have them brought to the interrogation chamber.”
She turns back to the chair at the centre of the bridge, then stops.
“On second thought,” Janeway’s smile grows, “I think our Doctor would be best placed to examine a human patient, don’t you? Have them transported to Voyager’s sickbay.”
Tuvok takes hold of Kathryn’s arm and she wills her feet to move, her brain numb with shock.
It’s been two years since she last set foot on Voyager.
And this is not the way she dreamed of going home.
“Aside from the expected quantum phase variance at the subatomic level and a slight electrolyte imbalance,” pronounces the EMH, “there is absolutely nothing to differentiate this Kathryn Janeway from our esteemed captain. Well,” he corrects himself, “medically speaking, anyway. Superficially, there are the obvious differences in hair and garments.”
He skims a holographic palm down the length of Kathryn’s bare upper arm and she jumps, startled. The Doctor she knows – knew – would never have touched her in this manner.
“Then there is no evidence of biological threat posed by either this woman or the Devore?” Tuvok asks.
“I will report your findings to the captain,” Tuvok nods, and turns to Kathryn. “Come with me.”
It strikes her, as she eases down from the bio-bed she’s sitting on, that Tuvok hasn’t once used her name, or her former title.
“Tuvok,” she says quietly as they exit sickbay, Kashyk behind them, escorted by the watchful Ayala.
He walks on without responding.
“It’s me, Tuvok,” she persists. “You can call me Kathryn.”
Tuvok remains silent until they reach the end of the corridor. “Step inside the turbolift,” he instructs, and orders it to the bridge.
Kathryn keeps her eyes fixed on his face as the ‘lift rises to deck one. “Are you her friend here?” she asks him, quietly, although she knows there’s no way that Ayala and Kashyk won’t hear their conversation. “In my universe, you and I –”
“I don’t know you,” he cuts her off without looking at her. “You are nothing to me. Do not presume upon the longstanding regard I share with my captain simply because you happen to resemble her.”
The ‘lift opens before she can respond, and Tuvok steps out. Smirking, Ayala gestures for her and Kashyk to follow.
It’s the strangest feeling, walking onto the bridge of the ISS Voyager.
It could almost be a holo-simulation of her own bridge and crew, Kathryn thinks. Captain and first officer side by side; Tuvok taking his station at tactical; Harry Kim at ops. At first glance the only differences are the uniforms, or rather lack thereof; it seems this Imperial starship crew has opted for well-worn, close-fitting dark leather costumes. But other differences soon become clear.
Glancing at the rear bank of stations, Kathryn observes that the majority of them are given over to tactical displays, where on her Voyager they would be dedicated to science and engineering. It’s obvious where this Captain Janeway’s priorities lie, and it’s made even clearer to Kathryn when she turns in a half-circle and catches sight of the viewscreen.
A flotilla of vessels is displayed on the main viewer. Her eyes widen as she identifies them one by one: Kashyk’s Devore warship, two Hirogen hunting vessels, an Akritirian patrol ship, a handful of Kazon raiders and several others she doesn’t recognise … “What is this?” she whispers. “What are all these ships doing here?”
Captain Janeway rises from her chair and ambles, snake-hipped, over to where Kathryn stands by the lower railing. “The Imperial Delta Fleet,” she says with satisfaction. “An alliance of like-minded species, working to a common goal under a single command structure. Sound familiar?” She leans in and whispers, “You could almost call it a federation.”
Kathryn stares at the viewscreen. “What common goal?” she asks, then turns back to Janeway, frowning. “What do you know about the Federation?”
Janeway smirks at her. “We’ve known all about your universe since the first incursion by the USS Defiant two centuries ago. Your Captain Kirk’s visit to the Empire has become legend. And a cautionary tale.”
“As has your Captain Lorca’s to our Federation,” retorts Kathryn.
“Oh, Lorca,” Janeway laughs. “That arrogant snake. He met the end he deserved.”
“What happened to him?” Kathryn asks. She thinks of Gabriel Lorca’s flint-blue eyes and the way his hands had grasped her hips, just hours ago, and suppresses the hot tingle that grips her spine.
Janeway shrugs. “The Emperor disposed of him. Of course, somebody disposed of her almost immediately afterward.”
Kathryn’s eyes widen. “Who?”
“Nobody knows. But her former Inquisitor, Katrina Cornwell, succeeded her after a particularly violent coup. Then she killed every last surviving captain in the Imperial fleet and ruled with blood and steel for twenty years.”
Kathryn shakes her head. “How do you people live like this?” she asks softly, accusingly.
“Don’t presume to judge us,” Janeway fires back at her, turning away. “Enough history for one day. I want all senior staff in the briefing room immediately. Bring the captives.”
“I’m growing tired of all this manhandling,” Kashyk grumbles to Kathryn as they stand, side-by-side, at the head of the briefing table.
Kathryn doesn’t bother to respond. If he thinks a little pushing and shoving in any way compares to the manhandling she’s endured over the past several hours –
She shivers in the chilled air of the conference room, wishing she had a shawl, a wrap, some kind of cover, and not only because it’s cooler in here than she’d like. There are far too many eyes on her in her thin black slip, and she’s particularly uncomfortable with the way Harry Kim’s are riveted to the hard outlines of her nipples.
Of course, he’s not the Harry Kim she remembers. With his slicked-back hair, scornfully curled lip and angry black eyes, he bears only a passing resemblance to that young man.
Janeway enters from the bridge, Chakotay in her wake, and strides directly over to Kathryn and Kashyk. “So,” she says without preamble, “what are we going to do with you two?”
“They should be in the brig,” Tuvok announces immediately.
“Space ‘em,” suggests Kim. “Him, anyway. Her, I wouldn’t mind getting to know better first.”
Kathryn suppresses a shudder, but a look from Chakotay seems to subdue Kim.
“So unimaginative, both of them,” Janeway tuts, resting a hand on Kashyk’s chest. He looks down at it with interest. “Although Harry’s right about one thing. Your presence has intriguing possibilities,” and she lets her palm slide down, down, until she cups Kashyk firmly through the front of his pants.
Kathryn feels him flinch, then straighten, widening his stance.
Janeway’s smile curves at one corner, her fingers curling, caressing. “Yes,” she decides. “Definite possibilities.”
“What do you want from us?” Kathryn grates.
Janeway flicks her a disinterested glance. “Oh, I think I’ve had everything I want from you for the time being. But your friend here…” she squeezes Kashyk’s cock, and he grunts, his dark eyes lasering into hers, “… yes, I think it’s his turn now.”
Kathryn finds herself seeking Chakotay’s eyes, and realises they’re already on her, expressionless and dark. She looks away.
“His turn for what?” she asks Janeway, voice unaccountably husky.
Janeway flips open the top button on Kashyk’s leather trousers and smirks at her, saying nothing.
“No,” says Kathryn. “This isn’t right.”
Janeway slips her slender, black-gloved hand inside Kashyk’s pants and he hisses, grasping her upper arms and dipping his forehead to hers. She turns her face toward Kathryn, the corners of her lips upturned.
“Doesn’t seem like your lover is complaining.”
“And it doesn’t seem like you’re giving him much of a choice,” Kathryn grinds out evenly, trying not to watch the slow, hypnotic motions of Janeway’s wrist or the nudging of Kashyk’s hips against her touch, or the way his hands have wandered, spreading around Janeway’s waist.
“What do you say, then, lover?” Janeway purrs, glancing up at Kashyk from under her lashes. “Should I stop, or should I let you fuck me right here on this table, like I know you want to?”
“Right here?” Kashyk repeats.
Kathryn can hear the strain in his voice. “Kashyk,” she urges. “You don’t have to do this.”
He spares her a brief, hunted glance, but Janeway lifts her free hand and tugs at the zipper on her bodice and Kashyk’s attention switches back to her. Janeway chuckles.
“Captain, please,” Kathryn tries one last time, and Janeway’s laughter cuts off.
“Enough,” she snaps. “You’re boring me. Chakotay, get her out of my sight until I find a purpose for her.” She laughs again. “Maybe she can be wet nurse to my brats. Go.”
Chakotay’s hand closes around Kathryn’s elbow. “Let’s move.”
As he ushers her toward the door, Kathryn hears Kashyk’s pained yelp and looks back to see Janeway licking blood from his lower lip. She opens her mouth to protest again.
But then Kashyk grabs hold of Janeway’s hips and tosses her onto the boardroom table, shoving himself between her legs, pinning her down as he yanks open her leather vest and leans in to kiss her with violence. Chakotay nudges Kathryn on, murmuring, “Now would be a good time,” and she turns for the door, reminding herself that Kashyk, too, can make his own choices.
She has to hasten her step to keep up with Chakotay’s long stride as he leads her along the corridor.
“Where are you taking me?” she asks, but he doesn’t answer, motioning her into the turbolift.
“Deck three,” he orders.
“My – the captain’s quarters?” she guesses. Then she frowns, recalling Janeway’s parting comment. “What did she mean by her brats?”
Chakotay’s gaze flickers over her with vague contempt. The turbolift comes to a stop and he strides out onto deck three.
Kathryn quick-steps after him, heart thudding as Chakotay taps the entry code into the panel beside the door of her – no, Captain Janeway’s – quarters. The door slides open.
The first thing she notices is that the large, comfortable rooms she remembers have been gutted, the muted Starfleet greys and aubergines replaced by panelled duranium and lights studded in strips along the floor. The second thing is that the suite is twice the size it was on her Voyager. It seems this universe’s Janeway has taken over the adjoining quarters.
The reason for that becomes immediately clear when Kathryn notes her third discovery.
At a table in the centre of the room sit three tow-headed human children whose ages she estimates at around five years old, and a dark-haired Devoran man she recognises as soon as he lifts his head.
The Devore scrambles immediately to his feet, gesturing for the children to do the same. “Captain,” he says quickly, “we weren’t expecting you home so early.”
“Relax, Kash,” Chakotay tells him curtly. “She’s not the captain.”
“Hi, Mama,” says one of the children. “Why are you dressed like that?”
Kathryn’s eyes widen as she realises the boy is addressing her. She switches her stare from him to the alternate version of Kashyk – whom she notices is dressed drably in rough cloth, and whose hand rests protectively on the young boy’s shoulder – to Chakotay, whose eyes seem to have softened for the first time. He meets her gaze.
“Chakotay,” she stammers, “whose children are these?”
He smiles, though it’s without warmth, and she finds herself once again swallowing the grief that’s been her constant companion for the past two years.
“They’re yours, of course,” he answers. “Don’t you recognise them?”
The woman with Captain Janeway’s face turns pale and staggers, and despite himself, Kash finds himself moving forward to catch her, bracing her elbows before she falls.
“Chakotay, get her a chair,” he instructs, and guides the woman to sit. “Take slow breaths,” he advises her, hand on her upper back as she leans forward, elbows on her knees.
“Thank you,” she says faintly, lifting her head to look at him. Her colour is gradually returning. “It’s been a day full of surprises, and to be honest, I can’t remember when I last ate.”
Kash rests a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “Chakotay can get you something to eat while I put the children to bed.” He narrows his eyes. “Better have him heal that cut, too. Looks bad.”
She touches two fingers lightly to the gash on her cheekbone. “I’d forgotten about it,” she confesses, then laughs abruptly. “It’s the least of my problems.”
Kash recognises oncoming hysteria when he sees it. “Still,” he says firmly, “it’s one we can solve, so why don’t we focus on that for now? Chakotay,” he adds, lowering his voice, “get her some soup and a dermal regenerator. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
He leaves the door ajar as he ushers the children into their bedroom, hastening through their bedtime story. From the adjoining room he hears only silence, and by the time his charges have closed their eyes, Kash’s curiosity has climbed to a peak. He switches off the bedroom light and lingers in the shadows by the half-open door, watching.
The woman is perched on the very edge of a straight-backed chair, so still that Kash suspects she’s holding her breath, as Chakotay clasps her chin with the tips of his fingers and waves a dermal wand over her cheekbone. Chakotay’s thighs are spread either side of her knees, his big body leaning into her space. Kash can see her hands twisted together in her lap and her teeth digging into her lower lip.
At first he thinks she’s afraid of Chakotay. But then he realises that her chest is flushed and rising and falling rapidly, and her nipples are hard knots, outlined against the black silk slip she’s wearing.
He’s never seen this woman before in his life. But he’s spent enough time with her doppelganger to recognise the signs of her arousal.
Chakotay’s hands fall away and the woman relaxes fractionally, until Chakotay frowns. “Your throat,” he gestures.
He raises his eyebrows at her, orders, “Hold still,” and slides his hand under her hair, tilting her head back to allow him access.
The woman makes a small, pained sound in her throat, and Chakotay’s gaze sharpens. “Did I hurt you?”
“No,” she husks.
For a long moment, Kash watches as they stare at each other. And then Chakotay lets his hand fall and pushes back his chair, placing the dermal regenerator on the table beside them.
“I’ll get you some soup,” he mutters.
Kash decides it’s safe to enter the room.
“So,” he says conversationally, taking the seat Chakotay has just vacated, “who are you?”
The soup helps restore her colour somewhat, but Kathryn Janeway of the prime universe, as she introduces herself – Kash reflects, amused, that the description shows she shares at least some of his Janeway’s arrogance – is clearly wary of divulging anything more informative than her name. It’s Chakotay who informs him that this Kathryn was accompanied by Kash’s own double.
“Really?” Kash can’t help leaning forward, fascinated. “What’s he like?”
A myriad of expressions cross Kathryn’s face. “He’s a military officer,” she says reluctantly. “An Inspector of the Devore Imperium.”
Kash exchanges a glance with Chakotay, who’s leaning against the bulkhead by the replicator with his arms folded across his chest.
“And you?” Kathryn asks Kash, sipping a spoonful of soup. “How is it that you’re here, uh…”
“Playing nursemaid to Captain Janeway’s offspring?” Kash leans back in his chair, hooking an ankle over his opposite knee. “It’s all right – you can’t emasculate me any more than she already has.”
“I was also the commander of my own ship in the Devore military,” Kash answers, “until I met Captain Janeway. We Devore tend to keep to ourselves as a species, but every so often we allow outsiders to travel through our space. The captain –”
“The captain,” Chakotay rumbles when Kash falls silent, “discovered that Kash was an active member of the resistance, working to subvert the Devore persecution of telepathic races, and offered to help him and his loyal crew defect from the Imperium in exchange for Voyager’s safe passage. He accepted her offer.”
“It didn’t hurt that she sweetened the deal,” Kash mutters. “Of course, as soon as we reached the other side of Devore space, she double-crossed me and drafted my ship into her fleet.”
Kathryn’s eyes are wide, her spoon lying forgotten in her bowl.
“You can see why Chakotay and I get along,” Kash adds.
“Kash,” warns Chakotay, just as Kathryn opens her mouth to question him further.
Kash glances between them. “She doesn’t know?”
“Know what?” Kathryn interjects.
“How Chakotay and his motley crew of rebels ended up aboard Voyager, serving the Imperial Starfleet.”
Chakotay pushes off the wall, his voice a growl. “I need to get back to the bridge. Keep an eye on her,” and he’s gone, the doors to the captain’s quarters locking audibly behind him.
“Don’t worry,’ Kash assures her, “someone will let us out in the morning. In the meantime, I can tell you a story.”
“How much do you know about this universe?” Kash asks when they’ve settled onto the couch under the viewport with a glass of Haakonian wine.
“Some,” Kathryn answers guardedly. “There have been occasional incursions, as your captain terms it, between our dimensions over the years, but they’re highly classified.”
“Classified,” Kash repeats. “I’m guessing you’re a member of your Starfleet?”
“You know about that?”
He smiles. “This will probably go faster if you just assume that we know a whole lot more about your universe than you do about ours.”
“Are you familiar with the Terran Empire?”
Kash raises an eyebrow at the wry rasp of her tone, but lets it go. “Well, around a hundred years ago an insurgency movement was started by a small group of Terrans. Initially, they just wanted to wrest power from the Emperor, but over time they banded together with other species – Vulcans, Klingons, Cardassians – and formed a rebel faction that eventually became known as the Maquis –”
He pauses, noting that Kathryn’s hand is covering her mouth.
“Are you all right?”
She nods slowly. “It’s nothing. Go on.”
“Chakotay was a Maquis cell leader, one who’d done quite a lot of damage to Empire bases and starships, as I understand it. Captain Janeway was assigned to hunt him down.”
Kash sips his wine slowly, relishing the tale as much as he did when he first heard it.
“The ISS Voyager tracked Chakotay’s ship into an unstable region of space known for Maquis activity, but instead of finding the rebels, they were scanned by a coherent tetryon beam and pulled seventy-five thousand light years –”
“– into the Delta quadrant, by an entity called the Caretaker,” Kathryn finishes.
Kash stares. “Actually, it was known as the Overseer,” he says, “but other than that, you’re right.”
“What happened next?”
“The entity had captured a member of the captain’s crew and one of the Maquis – it was experimenting on them, trying to find a mate to continue its supremacy over a race called the Ocampa – so the captain and Chakotay agreed to work together to retrieve their people. They intended to use the Overseer’s array to return to the Alpha quadrant, but they were attacked by a Kazon vessel. Chakotay piloted his ship into it and triggered a warp core breach, which knocked the Kazon cruiser directly into the array and destroyed it. When Chakotay materialised on Voyager, the captain was furious at losing their chance to get home. She threw him and all the Maquis in the brig.”
“But they’re part of the crew now.”
Kash nods. “After two weeks of trying to run Voyager on a skeleton crew, dodging Kazon attacks, she concluded it was an unsustainable situation. She and Chakotay made a deal: the Maquis would become bonded to Starfleet in exchange for their lives.” Kash sips again. “Chakotay chose his crew over his freedom.”
Kathryn’s breath stutters.
“What is it?”
“Nothing,” she whispers. “Nothing at all.”
“You’re exhausted,” he says firmly when he notices her eyelids drooping again, in the midst of his explanation of how Janeway began to amass her allied fleet.
She jerks upright, protesting, but Kash waves her back down. He goes to the closet and pulls out a blanket and pillow, indicating she should curl up on the couch.
“You can sleep here,” he assures her. “I’ll keep you safe.”
Kathryn stares at him and shakes her head with a brief, incredulous laugh.
“It’s just,” she can’t seem to stop giggling, “it’s all backwards here … you taking care of me, making sure I eat and sleep … And Chakotay, he can hardly look at me –” She breaks off with a gulp, ducking her head. But not before Kash detects the glimmer of tears in her eyes.
“I take that to mean that my alternate isn’t exactly a prince,” he offers in a light tone to give her time to collect herself.
She wipes her eyes quickly. “He does care about me in his own way,” she says, softly. “But then, I’ve taken pains to ensure he continues to find me worthy of his interest.”
“We all do what it takes to survive,” Kash says, meeting her eyes.
He tucks the blanket over her and switches off the lamp beside the couch.
“Sleep well, Kathryn,” he murmurs, and slips quietly into the children’s bedroom to bunk down on the cot.
She’s still sleeping – curled up in a ball, one hand under her cheek, frowning slightly – when he ushers the children, pyjamaed and sleep-tousled, into the living area for their breakfast. Kash isn’t sure whether it’s the chink of cutlery on china that wakes her, or the children’s escalating conversation, or just the strongly-scented coffee he brews and places on the table, but one moment Kathryn is deeply asleep and the next, she’s on her feet, chest heaving, eyes darting around the room as though there’s a red alert.
“Kashyk,” she blurts when her gaze settles on him, then, “I mean, Kash.”
“Good morning,” he offers.
Slowly, her breathing returns to normal and she reaches up a hand to smooth her hair, then glances down at herself in the skimpy, crumpled slip with a grimace. “What time is it?”
“0700,” he answers. “Coffee?”
Her eyes go wide. “Real coffee?”
Kash grins and pours her a cup, patting the seat beside him at the table. Kathryn folds her blanket neatly and pads over to sit beside him.
He watches as she takes what he presumes is her first sip of real Terran coffee for a good long while. She cradles the cup in both hands, inhaling the steam; her eyes drift closed; she brings the cup reverently to her lips, drinks, and exhales on a low, shivering moan.
He recalls the first time he watched Captain Janeway drink her coffee, and a spasm of that old desire twists his stomach. Some things, he supposes, are universal constants.
Then Kathryn places her cup on the table and looks around at the three children.
“You didn’t ask about them last night,” Kash murmurs. “But I’m guessing this is one thing that differs between our universes.”
“You could say that.” She hesitates. “Are they really …”
She’s chewing her lower lip. Lowering her voice even further, she begs, “Who’s their father?”
Kash opens his mouth to reply, but the doors to the captain’s quarters swish open and a tall blond human man strides in, followed by a woman.
A Cardassian woman.
Kathryn shoves back her chair and rises on the balls of her feet, her gaze trained past the man, fixed on the woman. “Seska,” she breathes.
“You’re early,” Kash remarks, getting up to clear away the plates. “And in uniform. Did the captain reassign you to Alpha shift, Tom?”
But the couple ignore him, because at that moment the three children shove away from table and fling themselves at Tom Paris, shouting, “Daddy!”
“They’re the warp ten babies?” Kathryn hisses to Kash, staring as Paris and Seska both crouch to envelop the children in their arms.
“So that did happen in your universe?”
“Then why –”
He’s interrupted by Tom Paris’ sardonic tones. “I didn’t expect the pleasure of your company this morning, Captain.” His blue gaze flickers over her. “And so enchantingly dressed, too.”
Kash is about to correct his assumption when he notices that Kathryn’s attention is almost wholly on Seska. They’ve locked eyes, challenge passing clearly between them.
Then Seska’s eyes widen a little.
“Tom,” she says. “This isn’t the captain.”
The doors slide open again, and Janeway strides in, wearing the same leather outfit she’d had on yesterday. She halts abruptly, her glare encompassing all of them.
“I came here for a shower and solitude,” she growls.
“We’ll get out of your way,” Kash says hastily, beckoning the children to him.
Paris and Seska are staring between Kathryn and Janeway. “Someone mind telling me what the fuck is going on here?” Paris demands.
“Tom,” Kathryn admonishes. “The children.”
He turns incredulous eyes on her. “You’re definitely not my captain.”
Janeway snorts out a laugh.
“We should leave,” murmurs Seska, taking one child’s hand as Kash leads the other two to the door. “Tom?”
“You two are together?” Kathryn blurts aloud.
“Ludicrous, isn’t it?” Janeway drawls, unzipping her vest and tossing it nonchalantly in the direction of the couch. She rests one hand on a cocked hip, apparently heedless of her naked torso, smirking between Kathryn and Seska. “I guess I wasn’t lizard enough for him.”
Kash watches Kathryn’s mouth drop open. “Then you and he – the warp ten flight –”
“Wasn’t our first trip to heaven, no,” Janeway drawls. Then her eyes narrow. “What do you know about the warp ten flight?”
“The same thing happened to us,” Kathryn says, a hand to her head; Kash, hovering in the doorway, thinks she looks as if she might faint. “I mean, to the Tom Paris of my universe, and me.”
“But what?” Janeway leans a hip against the breakfast table, folding her arms under her bare breasts. “Didn’t he fuck you?”
Kathryn’s eyes flash and she straightens, glaring.
“Well, clearly you don’t have three little de-evolved mutant babies of your own, so –”
Kash can almost hear Kathryn grinding her teeth from across the room. “There were … offspring. Cha- my first officer made the decision to leave them in their natural habitat.”
It’s been a long, long time since Kash saw Captain Janeway shocked. He almost takes pleasure in it: in her pallor, the loose curl of her fingers, her parted lips. But she recovers herself almost immediately.
“If my Chakotay had left my children behind on that planet,” she rasps, “I’d have castrated him and strung his balls up from the mess hall ceiling.”
“We view things a little differently, you and I,” Kathryn tells her evenly.
“I don’t know any way to view that other than child abandonment,” Janeway snaps. She straightens, pushing away from the table. “Seska, get the children to their lessons. You, and you,” she points to Kathryn and Kash, in turn, “stay here. Paris, keep an eye on them.”
She turns dismissively, already unzipping her leather pants.
“Wait,” Kathryn says.
Janeway glances back, scowling. “What now?”
“Where is Kashyk?” Kathryn glances at Kash, amending, “I mean, my Kashyk.”
The scowl morphs into a curl-corner smile as Janeway turns and walks back toward Kathryn, only stopping when they’re bare millimetres apart.
“Your Kashyk?” she repeats, her voice a purr. “Are you concerned for him, Kathryn?”
Kathryn says nothing.
“Don’t worry,” Janeway laughs, “I didn’t break him. Bent him a little, maybe, but I didn’t do any permanent damage.”
She leans in so close her lips brush Kathryn’s. Kathryn flinches, turning her head away. Janeway reaches up to grasp her chin, immobilising her.
“In fact,” Janeway nuzzles her ear, “I like your Kashyk much better than mine. I think I’ll keep him.”
Kathryn stands staring at the double of Tom Paris, who has stationed himself at the door, arms folded.
“You and Seska?” she says finally.
“Yeah,” he returns. “So what?”
She bites her lip. “Is there a B’Elanna Torres in this universe?”
“Yeah.” Paris’ eyes widen as her implication sinks in. “Are you telling me that wherever you’re from, I’m fucking that Klingon psychopath?”
“I wouldn’t have put it that way,” she says icily. “But yes, the Tom Paris I know is in a relationship with B’Elanna Torres. And the Seska I know –” she breaks off. “Never mind. It’s irrelevant.”
“It’s insane.” Paris walks toward her, cautiously, as though he’s a little afraid of her. “How did you get here?”
“By accident,” she hedges, and wonders anxiously if the limina is still in Kashyk’s pocket, or if he lost possession of it during the course of his encounter with Janeway the previous night. “And as soon as I can, I’ll be leaving.”
“We’ll see about that,” comes a husky voice from behind her.
Kathryn turns. Janeway is resting a hip against the frame of her bedroom door, a satin robe belted loosely around her waist. She smiles at Kathryn.
It isn’t a warm smile.
“What do you mean?” Kathryn asks warily. “I’d have thought you’d be eager to be rid of us.”
Janeway strolls toward her, shucking the robe; Kathryn watches as Kash bends to snag it from the floor, hanging it in her closet as though picking up after her is second nature to him.
“I told you I’m not done with your lover,” Janeway replies, breezing past Kathryn to sit naked at the breakfast table, pouring herself a coffee. “And I haven’t decided what to do with you yet, either.”
She sits back in the chair, crossing her legs sinuously and smirking as both Paris and Kash automatically follow the movement. Kathryn keeps her gaze resolutely above neck level.
“Where is Kashyk?” she asks evenly.
“You’ll see him soon.” Janeway waves a hand, relishing her first sip of coffee. “Kash. Clothes.”
Kash moves to the bureau, selects several neatly-folded items of clothing and brings them to the table, placing them on the chair beside Janeway. She drains her coffee cup, then, standing, wriggles into a lacy black scrap of underwear, smooths black leather pants up the length of her legs, pulls on dangerously spike-heeled boots and shrugs into a tight leather jacket with a high collar. She leaves the jacket unzipped.
“You can use my bathroom to freshen up,” she addresses Kathryn. “Kash will find you something to wear.”
She saunters over to Tom Paris. One hand on her hip, the other curling into his belt, she studies his face as he glances involuntarily down at her bared breasts.
“Look what you’re missing out on,” she mocks him. She reaches for his hand, brings it up to cup her breast, encouraging his fingers and thumb to rub the soft skin. “Isn’t that nicer than scales?”
“Captain,” Kathryn can’t help objecting, though Paris seems to be in no hurry to remove his hand.
Janeway is unwinding her fingers from his belt now, walking them downward, curling them around the evident bulge in the front of Paris’ leather trousers. With his other hand he flips open the top button on her pants, sliding the zipper down and pushing his hand inside. Janeway widens her stance. Kathryn tries not to watch as her lips part, her eyes half-close, her hips curve supplely against the movements of Paris’ fingers.
It’s only when a low, husky moan issues from Janeway’s throat that Kathryn can’t keep quiet any longer.
“How can you be like this?” she bursts out. “You reign by threat and intimidation, and you coerce and manipulate your people with sex. Do you honestly believe anyone under your command respects you?”
Janeway’s eyes open. Tom Paris utters a pained, breathless squeak, and Kathryn realises Janeway’s fingers have tightened around his balls.
“They respect this,” Janeway growls at her. “And don’t tell me you’ve never used sex to get what you want.”
Kathryn opens her mouth, thinks of Kashyk, and closes it.
“That’s what I thought.” Janeway releases her grip, pulls Paris’ hand from her underwear and stalks over to Kathryn. “You just cost me an orgasm,” she informs her. “I’ve maimed people for less.”
“I believe you,” says Kathryn without expression.
“Fortunately for you, I’m not quite ready to scar that face just yet.” Janeway pats her cheek. “Get dressed. It’s going to be a busy day.”
Kathryn stands still, shoulders back and gaze fixed directly ahead, as Janeway prowls in a circle around her, eyes lingering on Kathryn’s every leather-clad curve. Finally, she comes to a halt face to face with Kathryn, a smile ghosting her red lips.
“I distinctly remember ordering Chakotay to heal your injuries,” she murmurs, and brings one long-fingered hand up to delicately circle Kathryn’s still-bruised throat, “but I’m glad he didn’t finish the job, now. This looks good on you. You look,” she pauses, considering, “used.”
“You would know,” Kathryn says through clenched teeth.
“Ooh.” Janeway laughs, letting her hand fall.
“Why no uniforms?” Kathryn demands suddenly. “Why didn’t you force the Maquis to wear Starfleet colours?”
“This is the Delta quadrant,” Janeway shrugs. “I’ve found that some Starfleet protocols have had to be … compromised.”
Kathryn huffs an incredulous laugh.
“Besides,” Janeway ignores her, “your Kashyk is right – I do look great in leather.”
She reaches for Kathryn’s hands, entwining their fingers and aligning their bodies. Kathryn tilts her chin aside to evade the brush of her double’s scarlet, parted lips, but can’t avoid the soft press of Janeway’s thigh between hers, or the way the other woman guides their linked hands up between them, curling Kathryn’s hands onto Janeway’s naked breasts.
And she can’t help giving into her own impulse: cupping her palms around warm, firm flesh, allowing the tips of her fingers to pattern lightly across the other woman’s nipples, feeling them swell and harden.
Janeway’s breath puffs softly in Kathryn’s ear. “That feels good,” she husks, writhing a little so that her thigh presses into the seam between Kathryn’s legs and makes her shudder.
She releases her grip on Kathryn’s fingers, one hand quickly unfastening Kathryn’s short jacket, the other sliding inside the back of her pants and moulding their hips closer.
“I could make you come so hard you see the Alpha quadrant stars,” Janeway breathes, her teeth closing lightly around Kathryn’s earlobe, her fingers pinching and tweaking Kathryn’s nipple. “But you owe me first.”
The haze clears instantly from behind Kathryn’s eyes, and she shoves back from the other woman, yanking the zipper up on her jacket.
“Neither of us will ever see the Alpha quadrant again,” she bites harshly. “And I owe you nothing.”
“We’ll see,” is all Janeway says in reply.
Without bothering to fasten her own jacket, she orders Paris – still watching avidly from the door – to the bridge, jerks her head at Kash to follow them, and strides into the corridor.
Kathryn tries with difficulty to subdue her accelerated heart rate, but it’s difficult. Each not-quite-familiar crewman she passes in these not-quite-familiar halls stops to stare at her with a mixture of fascination, lust and terror, and it’s so jarring, so different to the warm camaraderie and respect she’d grown used to after five years on her own Voyager, that she feels a hair’s-breadth from a panic attack.
And her ratcheting, rocketing sexual arousal isn’t helping her at all.
Her nipples chafe against the inside of her tight leather jacket and each step rubs the inner seam of her pants against her over-sensitised clitoris. Janeway strides beside her, one hand tucked lightly under Kathryn’s short jacket, resting on the small of her back; her hair smells sweet, and whenever she turns to talk to Kathryn, her breath tickles Kathryn’s neck and makes her lick her lips.
She tries to tell herself it’s ridiculous, not to mention horrifically narcissistic, to be so turned on by her own mirror image, but self-recrimination isn’t helping. She can’t seem to tune out Janeway’s constant low, needling drawl or the light movements of her fingertips on Kathryn’s naked back.
And any hope she might have held of a reprieve is dashed when they reach their destination.
There are two armed guards posted outside the guest quarters on deck six. Janeway gestures for Kash to precede them inside; the doors snick shut behind them, and Kathryn stops short to survey the room and its occupants.
It’s the same room she allocated to Kashyk when he pretended to defect from the Imperium, showing up in his shuttle and pleading with her, so earnestly, for asylum. Except that now, instead of playing the soft-hearted former Inspector in humble homespun cloth, he’s stretched out across the couch, one leather-clad leg crossed elegantly over the other, a coffee cup in one gloved hand and a self-satisfied smirk on his face.
Standing by the bulkhead, still as a statue, glowering at Kashyk, is Chakotay.
“Captain,” Kashyk greets them, rising to take her hand and press a kiss to the back of it. “And Kathryn,” he adds, repeating the gesture.
He ignores his own double, who moves to stand quietly beside Chakotay. Kathryn notices that Kash is watching Kashyk with interest – it’s the first time he’s seen his own mirror image, she remembers – but Chakotay’s dark gaze is now trained on her.
Not the captain. Her.
“Please, sit down,” Kashyk is inviting them, as though he’s their gracious host and not Janeway’s captive. “Commander, perhaps you’d be so kind as to fetch Kathryn some coffee. We have a similar beverage on Devore, but it’s not quite the same, and I’m sure she’s missed it.”
Chakotay doesn’t move, doesn’t take his eyes from Kathryn.
Without missing a beat, Kashyk tugs on Kathryn’s hand as he retakes his seat on the couch, pulling her down onto his spread knees. She stiffens, but his gloved hands encircle her bare waist: a warning.
“Get us some coffee,” Janeway orders Chakotay, and rests her leather-clad behind on the edge of the low table in front of the couch. Legs apart, elbows on her knees, she leans in until she’s close enough for Kathryn to identify each faint freckle across her nose.
“What are we doing here?” Kathryn demands, injecting challenge into her voice to hide the churning apprehension in her stomach.
A coffee appears in Janeway’s outstretched hand and she sips from it slowly before she replies. “You’re here because I have questions. If you answer them to my satisfaction, I promise you’ll be rewarded.”
“And if I don’t?”
Janeway smiles. “I suggest you do.”
“How did you get here?”
If Janeway has to ask, Kathryn assumes, Kashyk hasn’t told her. Or she hasn’t asked him. From the way Kashyk’s fingers tighten on her ribs, it could be either.
“In the past,” Janeway says, leaning back a little, “visitors from your dimension have arrived through various means. Transporter malfunctions, fissures in the mycelial network, a plasma burst inside a wormhole…” She pauses, noting Kathryn’s quickly-masked shock. “Didn’t know about that one, hm? Well, maybe we’ll both learn something new today.”
“I have nothing to say to you.”
Janeway sighs theatrically. “Why must you persist in being so obstructive? We could be of use to each other. I could help you … you could help me…”
“Why would I help you,” Kathryn asks, “when I don’t trust you?”
“I’m hurt,” Janeway pouts. It curls into a slow smile as she leans in close again and taps playfully at the zipper tab on Kathryn’s jacket. “Fortunately, I enjoy a small amount of pain.”
She grips the tab and begins to pull it slowly downward. Kathryn’s hand flies up to grasp her wrist, and Janeway laughs.
“Are you modest?” she taunts. “Whatever for? You have nothing to hide,” and she leans back again, resting on her elbows, her own jacket falling completely open.
Kash’s eyes, Kathryn notes, are riveted to Janeway’s upturned breasts. If she could turn in Kashyk’s hold, she’s certain she would find him staring as well. Chakotay, though, is glaring furiously at the floor. She can see a muscle leaping tensely in his jaw, his shoulders set.
It’s his anger that ignites her own.
Wrenching away from Kashyk, she jolts to her feet. “We are not the same,” she hisses. “So go ahead. Use your body, use fear and threats and pain to intimidate your crew. It bears no reflection on me. I will never be like you.”
The smile is gone from Janeway’s face now. She sits up, pushing her hair from her face as she glares up at Kathryn.
“We’ll see,” she says.
Janeway says, “Hold her,” and Chakotay moves silently behind Kathryn, taking her arms. She struggles, but she may as well try to move a bulkhead. Even grinding the heel of her boot into his instep barely raises a wince.
She might have had better luck, she reflects, if his boots weren’t reinforced.
“Are you done?” Janeway mocks, hands on her hips.
Kathryn puffs hair out of her eyes and glares at her.
“You know, you’re sexy when you’re dishevelled,” Janeway decides, and without warning she backhands Kathryn across the face.
Kathryn gasps, more from shock than pain. She turns her chin back toward Janeway only to meet the other woman’s fist, square in her mouth.
That one hurt. But she controls her groan, straightening up, glaring steel-eyed and malevolent through fallen locks of hair. Blood trickles from a cut on her lip and she touches her tongue to it.
“Don’t,” Janeway growls, and moves in immediately, fingers harsh on Kathryn’s chin as she leans in to lick the blood away.
Kathryn grits her teeth and endures, her mouth tightly closed as Janeway’s lips move over hers. The other woman’s thumb presses the centre of her bottom lip, trying to pry her mouth open, but Kathryn turns her head away, feeling the bruises form from Janeway’s grip.
“Don’t you kiss on the first date?” Janeway drawls, and laughs without waiting for Kathryn’s answer.
She tangles her fingers in Kathryn’s hair, dragging her face to front and centre, and nips at Kathryn’s lower lip, soothing her wince with her tongue, her mouth moving lightly, softly, until Kathryn’s teeth unclench and her lips part fractionally … just enough to allow access to the tip of Janeway’s tongue.
“That’s better,” Janeway whispers against Kathryn’s lips.
Sucking in a breath, Kathryn jerks away, pushing back as far as she can, pressing into Chakotay as though he’s not her warden but her protector.
“Captain,” rumbles Chakotay, his chest against her back so that she feels as much as hears him, and it jolts her out of the torpor she’d been sinking into.
The flash she sees in the depths of Janeway’s eyes as she glares up at Chakotay frightens Kathryn more than anything she’s seen, anything she’s experienced in this wrong, dead-end, perverted universe.
“What?” Janeway grinds out.
Chakotay falls silent and the captain narrows her eyes at him. Then she looks down at his hands, wrapped without force around Kathryn’s upper arms; at Kathryn herself, not cowering against his bulk but standing before it, as if he has her back.
“Oh,” she says in a tone of wonder. She presses her fingers to her lips, her gaze switching between them. “I suppose,” she continues, “some things are constant across universes.”
“What are you talking about?” Kathryn frowns.
Janeway ignores her, addressing Chakotay. “Are you looking for a second chance, Commander?”
He doesn’t answer, and Janeway’s smile broadens as she returns her attention to Kathryn.
“Tell me about your first officer.”
“Captain,” Kashyk objects, “surely the oaf is as irrelevant there as he is here.”
“Shut up,” Janeway answers without raising her voice, without sparing him a glance. “I asked you a question, Kathryn.”
As relieved as she’d be if Kashyk’s interruption derailed this line of interrogation, Kathryn can’t help wondering what motivates him. If it’s plain jealousy, it’s criminally short-sighted. Because as painful as it is to talk about her former first officer, at least it means she’s not telling Janeway anything she can use to wreak havoc in this universe or Kathryn’s own.
Janeway raises her eyebrows.
“What do you want to know?” Kathryn asks evenly. “I haven’t seen Commander Chakotay in over two years.”
“How sad for you,” Janeway murmurs. “Well, if you’re very good to me, maybe I’ll let you have this one.”
Kathryn feels Chakotay’s hands tighten on her arms, and can picture exactly the flash of outrage in his dark eyes.
“Yes,” says Janeway. “The more I think about it, the more I like that idea. Chakotay, take off her jacket.”
Kathryn goes still.
“Captain.” Chakotay’s voice is even lower than before, and there’s gravel in it.
“Do it,” Janeway says, equally softly, “or you know what will happen.”
For a moment he doesn’t move. Then she feels him shift behind her, one hand sliding down her arm to clasp her wrists together, the other moving around to take hold of her zipper.
“I’m sorry,” she thinks she hears him whisper as her jacket peels open, exposing her. He’s careful not to contact her skin as he eases the leather back from her shoulders, dragging it down her arms until it bunches at her restrained wrists.
Kathryn feels the warm wash of his breath against her naked back, and starts to tremble.
“Now her pants,” says Janeway.
The hand that isn’t holding her wrists comes around and flicks open the top button on Kathryn’s fly, then the second and third. Her pants gape open, and Chakotay lets his hand drop to the side.
She thinks she can feel him breathing a little faster.
Janeway steps forward, takes hold of Kathryn’s pants and tugs them halfway down her thighs.
The breath catches in Kathryn’s throat. She can’t look anywhere but directly ahead, but in her peripheral vision she sees Kash shift his feet, senses Kashyk rise from the couch to find a better vantage point.
“So,” Janeway’s tone is light, “are you ready to tell me how you travelled to my universe?”
Slowly, Kathryn shakes her head.
“Spread your legs.”
“I don’t –”
Janeway kicks harshly at the inside of Kathryn’s ankle and she stumbles, her wrists caught hard in Chakotay’s reflexive grip. When she rights herself, Janeway plants a knee between her thighs and grasps a handful of hair at Kathryn’s nape, yanking her head back.
“Keep them spread,” she advises, and scrapes her teeth over Kathryn’s jugular before standing back. “Was it a transport device?”
Kathryn looks at her in silence.
“Where is it?” Janeway’s eyes glitter. “You couldn’t have had it on you – I’d have found it. Have you hidden it somewhere?”
“If I had,” Kathryn replies, “I’d rather die than let you find it.”
“Oh, I’m sure we can come up with a fate you’d consider worse than death,” Janeway smiles at her. She looks at Chakotay. “Touch her.”
“I’d rather touch you,” Chakotay says.
“That’s sweet of you to say,” Janeway’s tone is poisonous, “but we both know it’s a lie.”
She strides over to the bulkhead and activates a com panel.
“Janeway to the bridge.”
“Yes, Captain,” replies Tuvok.
“Round up three of the female Maquis and take them to the transporter room. Prepare to send them over to Maj Culluh with my compliments.”
Janeway turns to lock eyes with Chakotay above Kathryn’s head.
“Don’t do this,” he grinds out.
“Tuvok,” she calls. “Wait.”
Janeway leans a hip against the wall and studies Chakotay, apparently waiting for a sign he doesn’t give, because she sighs. “Carry on, Tuvok. Oh, and leave B’Elanna Torres alone – she’s too damn good at her job to waste on those Kazon animals.”
“I will await your signal,” returns Tuvok.
“Good. Janeway out.”
She ambles back to Kathryn and Chakotay, smiling, stroking one long-fingered hand down the curve of Kathryn’s waist.
“Well, Chakotay,” she croons, resting her hand on Kathryn’s hip, “what’s it to be? Make her come, or lose three of your crew to Kazon hospitality?”
“Don’t do this,” Kathryn says quietly. “Please.”
“You’re giving me no choice,” answers Janeway. “But you have one, and so does he.”
“You can’t be serious.”
Janeway doesn’t bother to look at her, simply cups Kathryn’s breast as she raises her eyebrows at Chakotay. “If she can’t make the call, Commander, it’s up to you.”
She rubs her thumb across Kathryn’s nipple for emphasis and smiles at the resultant shudder.
“She’s so soft, Chakotay,” Janeway says, her voice low and inviting. “I know you want to touch her.”
Janeway reaches for Chakotay’s hand, loose at his side, and places it low on Kathryn’s abdomen. Kathryn can feel him holding his breath, can feel him deliberately keeping his fingers motionless. She swallows against a dry throat, finding her double’s catlike gaze.
“Can you feel that, Chakotay?” Janeway murmurs. Her eyes never leave Kathryn’s as she slips her fingers between Chakotay’s, the pressure of her hand guiding his down, down, further down.
Behind her back, Kathryn curls her fingernails into her own palms to stop herself gasping for breath. She reaches for words to make this stop, but she can’t seem to find them.
“I know you want this,” croons Janeway, and Kathryn isn’t sure which of them she’s talking to, but she can’t find the lie in the words either, not with the way Chakotay’s fingers are patterning lightly across her skin and the way her hips are tilting to invite them. Not with the way she’s leaning back into his chest, or the thundering of his heart against her shoulder blades, or his harsh, shuddering inhale.
Janeway steps back from them, letting her hand drop away. “Choose,” she orders.
Calloused fingers slide into the slickness between her thighs, and Kathryn moans, legs buckling beneath her, her whole body crumpling into Chakotay’s ardently stroking hand.
The feel of her, creamy and slick under his fingers, hardens him instantly, painfully. Chakotay plants his feet against the weakening of his knees and forces his hand to still, closing his eyes when Kathryn whimpers in protest.
There’s menace in Janeway’s voice, and Chakotay opens his eyes to find her narrowed stare on him.
“Why have you stopped?” she demands softly.
It takes him two harsh swallows to find his voice. “Because you gave me the choice.”
Janeway stares at him. “And you’ve chosen to condemn three of your people to a fate worse than certain death, rather than give this woman what she so clearly wants?”
Chakotay meets her eyes. “Does she?”
He eases his hand back from between Kathryn’s legs and releases her wrists. She’s no longer restrained by him in any way, but she doesn’t move, just leans against his chest as if she needs his strength to hold her upright. He can feel her trembling.
“What do you care?” snaps Janeway. “Seven years ago you’d have given your left testicle for one night in my bed. Well, here I am, gift-wrapped, or the next best thing, at least. Take her. I want to see you fuck her, right here and now, in front of her lover. No, wait,” she holds up a hand, striding over to the wall panel and activating it, “Janeway to Tuvok.”
“Yes, Captain. I am standing by in transporter room two with Henley, Jor and Seska.”
“Hold that thought, Tuvok. Escort them to the brig, then convene the senior staff in the briefing room. I’ll meet you there in ten minutes.”
“Understood. Tuvok out.”
Janeway closes the channel and turns to smile at Chakotay and Kathryn.
“What are you doing?” Chakotay growls.
“Upping the stakes.” Janeway folds her arms. “Get dressed, Kathryn. We’re going for a walk.”
Janeway strides ahead of them, long-legged and confident, a smile lurking dangerously at the corners of her lips. Both Kashyk and Kathryn have found their voices and are demanding answers of her; Chakotay and Kash, however, know their captain enjoys the power of her silence and has no intention of telling them what she has in store.
Chakotay has his suspicions, in any case.
When the five of them enter the briefing room, Harry Kim is glaring at Tom Paris. “Since when is he back on the senior staff?” Kim demands as Janeway moves to the head of the table, resting a hip on it.
“What’s the matter, Harry?” Paris drawls, sarcasm thick in his voice. “Still haven’t figured out how to earn that second pip?”
“The way you earned yours? Not worth it,” Kim retorts.
From the opposite side of the table, Ayala chuckles.
“The fuck are you laughing at, asshole?” Paris scowls.
“Enough,” Chakotay says softly. Janeway seems to be ignoring them, but he knows from bitter experience that her mood can turn in an instant, and he doesn’t feel like cleaning blood off the walls today.
He glances at Janeway and follows the slight tilt of her head: she wants him to move to the corner of the room. He’s been relegated to the role of observer, it seems.
Chakotay isn’t sure how he feels about that. What he does know is that his instincts are on high alert right now, and they’re telling him to stay close to the other Kathryn Janeway – the one who’s standing between Kash and Kashyk, her chin high and her eyes wary as Kim, Paris and Ayala look her over with interest, their squabble forgotten.
There’s nothing he can do to help her if Janeway decides to let them play. And he shouldn’t care what happens to her, anyway. So why this churning stomach, these clammy palms?
The doors open to admit a wild-haired B’Elanna Torres, her leathers ripped and dirty. She throws herself into a chair, thighs spread, propping one boot on the table. “What are we doing here?” she growls.
Chakotay notes Janeway’s avaricious gleam as she eyes the younger woman. “You’re here at my pleasure, Lieutenant,” Janeway informs her creamily. “And yours, too, if you behave.”
Torres opens her mouth, but whatever she’d planned to say dies unspoken as she catches sight of Kathryn and Kashyk.
“Kahless,” she breathes. “I thought Seska was full of shit, but they’re real.”
“Yes,” agrees Janeway. “Would you like to be sure, B’Elanna?”
“What do you mean?” Torres frowns at her.
B’Elanna obeys, eyes switching suspiciously between the two near-identical women. She stops half a metre from Kathryn and reaches out tentatively, plucking a lock of hair from her shoulder.
“Her hair’s longer.”
“I like it,” Janeway muses. “I think I’ll have the Doctor lengthen mine later. In the meantime, B’Elanna, why don’t you find out if there are any other differences between us?”
B’Elanna Torres always was a quick study, Chakotay reflects, as he watches the engineer grasp Kathryn’s face in one hand and turn her chin aside, sinking her teeth lightly just above Kathryn’s jawline.
Kathryn gasps, jerking out of Torres’ hold, one hand pressed to the bleeding imprint as Torres bares her teeth at her. “B’Elanna,” she stammers. “Stop.”
“Fuck, that’s hot,” Chakotay hears Paris mutter under his breath. “Maybe my other self is onto something.”
Kathryn is still backing away when the conference room door opens again and Tuvok enters. Sizing up the situation at a glance, his hand shoots out, circling Kathryn’s wrist in an iron grip and immobilising her.
In an instant, Torres pounces on her. She sniffs at Kathryn’s cheek, tilting her jaw to nibble and lick at the bloody mark; she tangles her hands in Kathryn’s hair, spans her waist with her fingers, moulds them around her hips. And all the while Kathryn twists in Tuvok’s hold, squirming into B’Elanna’s shaping hands and away and back again.
By the time Torres clutches the sides of Kathryn’s jacket in her hands and rips it open, Kathryn is panting from exertion and her wrist is red raw from Tuvok’s uncompromising grip. “Keep her still for me,” Torres instructs Tuvok, and he encircles Kathryn’s other wrist, pinning both hands behind her back.
Kathryn struggles and kicks and writhes until she’s breathless, but Tuvok is immovable. Hair hanging in her face, she twists to catch his eye. “Please,” she begs, “please don’t do this,” but he doesn’t even look at her.
Torres steps forward and yanks Kathryn’s pants open, wrenching them down her thighs. Kathryn kicks out at her as best she can, hobbled by the tight leather pants; the stiletto heel of one boot catches Torres across her shin and the younger woman hisses, balling one fist and striking Kathryn full in the mouth.
Chakotay winces in sympathy, watching her touch her tongue to the fresh blood on her already-split lip.
“Torres,” he says quietly.
“Shut up, Commander,” Janeway hisses at him. “Let her have her way.”
Torres is beyond his control now, anyway, Chakotay realises with a sinking heart. Her sight is fixed on the blood staining Kathryn’s mouth, and her hands are already moving automatically to strip off her own clothing. Vest, undershirt, boots, belt and pants hit the deck in swift, economical movements, and Torres stands naked, all eyes on her, her eyes on Kathryn.
“Kim, get over here,” she orders without looking away.
Chakotay has never seen Harry Kim move so fast in his life.
“What do you want me to do?” the ensign asks eagerly.
“Undress her.” Torres flicks him a brief smirk. “Watch the boots. She kicks like a targ.”
But Kathryn seems locked in place, her limbs lax and unresponsive as Harry Kim takes his time pulling off her leather boots and pants, tugging the scrap of underwear down her legs. She stares straight ahead, gaze fixed and vacant. Not even when Kim lifts her panties to his face and sniffs at them, raising his head to grin at her, does she blink.
Chakotay shifts his feet, hoping to catch her attention, give her something to focus on. But she doesn’t look at him, and he subsides lest he draw Janeway’s notice instead.
Kim tosses Kathryn’s clothing aside, pockets her panties and looks hopefully at Torres. “Now what?”
“Now fuck off,” she says.
He starts to protest, but a glare from Torres sends him back to his place at the table. Torres turns back to Kathryn.
“Your blood is sweet,” she murmurs, moving in close and nuzzling at Kathryn’s cheek again. “Now I’ll taste the rest of you.”
She sinks to her knees, parting Kathryn’s thighs with her hands, and presses her face between them.
A melody of sighs and groans and indrawn breaths travels the room as Paris, Ayala, Kim and Kashyk lean in to watch the show. And a show is what B’Elanna is giving them: she moans eloquently as her tongue traces the outlines of Kathryn’s flesh, flicks lightly at her clit to make Kathryn’s hips jerk, sucks languorously until Kathryn’s legs begin to buckle.
But she isn’t going down without a fight, Chakotay realises, as Kathryn slumps like a dead weight in Tuvok’s grasp, forcing him to clamp one arm around her waist to hold her upright. The move frees one of her hands. She tangles it tightly in Torres’ hair, wrenching her head sideways and simultaneously launching her weight back to knock Tuvok off balance and locking her thighs around Torres’ neck.
Tuvok reels backward into the bulkhead, the combined weight of the two women almost – not quite – enough to send the Vulcan to the deck, but Kathryn’s violent writhing keeps him distracted while B’Elanna chokes, fingernails digging red marks into Kathryn’s thighs as she tries to break the stronghold. The three of them careen across the briefing room floor, half drunken parody, half fight to the death – until phaser fire scorches a wall panel into fireworks, mere centimetres away.
The trio freeze in place, turning to stare at Captain Janeway, who holds the offending phaser to Kashyk’s temple. Her wintry eyes are fixed on Kathryn’s.
“Have I made my point?” she demands.
Slowly, Kathryn’s thighs unwind from Torres’ neck and she stands. Chakotay watches her wince as she eases her arms from Tuvok’s grip. Torres coughs, rubbing her throat.
“Good,” says Janeway, sweet as poison. She holsters the phaser at her hip and pushes Kashyk into a chair. “Come here, Kathryn.”
Kathryn hesitates, then walks over to stand before Janeway.
“Take off your jacket and sit down,” Janeway says, indicating Kashyk’s lap.
Kathryn obeys, and Kashyk’s hands immediately find her inner thighs, drawing them apart, opening her to full view of the room. She flinches and turns her head aside to stare at the wall, but Chakotay moves into her field of vision.
He isn’t sure why. He only knows that it’s vitally important to him that she survives this, that he helps her to survive it. That he imbues her with whatever strength he can, even if it costs him everything he has left to give.
Janeway crouches beside the chair holding Kathryn and Kashyk. “Spread her wider,” she orders, and Kashyk does so, hooking Kathryn’s thighs over his elbows and holding her legs as far apart as he’s able.
Kathryn whimpers low in her throat. Don’t look away, Chakotay commands her silently, and she doesn’t.
Janeway leans in, tracing Kathryn’s cunt with one bare finger and lifting it to her lips. “Very nice, B’Elanna,” she says. “You’ve made her very wet. Come here, pet.”
Torres crawls over to her on hands and knees and Janeway threads the fingers of her other hand lightly in her hair, combing gently through her dark curls.
“Would you like another taste?” she asks.
Janeway nods. “Don’t let her come.”
Eagerly, Torres crawls between Kathryn’s spread legs, rests her hands on Kashyk’s thighs and dips her mouth to the wet pink flesh on display. She starts light and slow, a delicate meandering of the tip of her tongue that barely makes contact. But Kathryn whines, a soft involuntary sound in the back of her throat, and tilts her hips, and Torres breathes her in, and Chakotay watches the shudder ripple along the half-Klingon’s spine and worries that she’s about to lose her head.
Torres’ tongue presses firmly now, long lavish licks that trace the length of Kathryn’s cunt. She sips and sucks, tugs with her teeth. Her fingers crawl upward from Kashyk’s leather-clad thighs to Kathryn’s soft bare skin. From across the room Chakotay sees Kathryn’s eyes flicker, her lips part, her chest flush, and is afraid. If Torres brings her to climax against Janeway’s explicit instructions, Janeway is likely to kill them both.
Torres slips one finger inside Kathryn’s pussy, Kathryn shudders and gives a high-pitched moan, and Chakotay takes one step forward and growls, “B’Elanna.”
Bright agony blooms across the nerve bundle in his left trapezius, and in the instant before Chakotay blacks out, he realises that he really should have been keeping an eye on everybody else in the room.
He’s still in pain when he comes to, but it’s not his first Vulcan neck pinch, and Chakotay knows the headache will eventually fade.
It’s what else she might have had done to him – and not just him – while he was unconscious that concerns him more.
To begin with, he realises as he assesses his situation, his legs are secured to a chair, his wrists bound together behind it; one of the briefing room chairs, probably, from the shape of it, though it’s hard to be certain thanks to the hood that completely covers his face and head. He breathes slowly, both to quell the rising panic and to ensure he’s not going to run out of oxygen. Once he’s sure of that, he tries to speak.
The hood is immediately removed, to his great relief, and Chakotay blinks the dancing lights from his eyes and takes rapid stock of his surroundings.
Yes, he’s still in the briefing room, and yes, he’s tied to a chair. Someone has removed the upper layers of his clothing and – he glances down – unfastened his pants; from the level of disarrangement, he assumes Janeway, or someone else, has molested him while he was out of it. He grinds his teeth and puts it out of his mind. What’s more important is what happens next.
He looks up into Janeway’s smirking face.
“Oh, Chakotay,” she laughs, resting a palm on his chest. “What have I told you about being a hero?”
Chakotay knows better than to answer. Janeway pats his chest perfunctorily and moves away, clearing his field of vision.
And now he can see everything.
Paris and Ayala are still lounging casually to one side of the conference table, Kash standing like a statue by the opposite wall. Kashyk sits just behind Janeway, his body language ostensibly relaxed and confident, but Chakotay, who’s spent enough time with the man to get his measure, knows most of that is armour.
Torres, naked, bruised and bleeding from the mouth, is lashed to a chair at the opposite end of the briefing room table. She’s glaring around the room from behind a fallen curtain of hair and there’s a roughly-tied gag stuffed into her mouth. Harry Kim stands behind her, one smug hand resting heavily on her shoulder.
Neither Tuvok nor Kathryn is anywhere to be seen.
What the hell happened while he was unconscious?
“Oh, I know what you’re thinking,” Janeway purrs in his ear before Chakotay can speak. “Your little Klingon had every intention of disobeying me. But don’t worry, Commander – she’s too pretty to kill for such a minor misdemeanour, and far too talented.”
“What have you done to her?”
Janeway laughs. “Nothing – yet. But she does need taking down a peg or two.” She straightens. “What do you think, Ensign Kim? Are you man enough for that job?”
Torres growls and bucks, rocking the chair on its feet, and Kim leaps backward with a frightened squawk.
Paris guffaws. “Better luck next time, Ensign.”
Janeway sighs. “Tuvok?”
The Vulcan appears silently from behind Chakotay’s left shoulder and he flinches involuntarily. Janeway quirks one corner of her mouth at him.
“Don’t fret, Commander. I want you wide awake for the next part.”
Chakotay doesn’t like the sound of that.
Janeway’s eyes slide back to Tuvok. “Bring her,” she says, and Tuvok moves behind Chakotay again.
When he reappears a moment later, he’s holding Kathryn by the upper arm, but loosely. She’s still naked, Chakotay notes, with fresh bruises on her ribs and upper arms, but her head is bowed and she isn’t fighting him; in fact, she moves docilely where Tuvok guides her, standing quiet and passive for Janeway’s inspection.
“What have you done?” Chakotay demands. “Have you drugged her?”
“Only a little bit,” Janeway assures him. “Her attitude was becoming a problem. It won’t affect her responsiveness, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
Instead of explaining, Janeway takes Kathryn’s hand and tugs her over to Chakotay’s chair. “Stand here,” she instructs her double, manoeuvring her between Chakotay’s legs.
Then she cocks her head to study Chakotay.
“What?” he demands, as that churning feeling kicks up in his gut again.
“You do remember that I have three of your former crew sitting in my brig, waiting to be gifted to Maj Culluh should you annoy me, don’t you, Commander?”
Chakotay keeps his mouth closed.
“And you also remember that there is information I want from this woman, and I intend to have it before the day is out?”
“What does that have to do with me?”
“You’re going to convince her to give it to me,” Janeway snaps. “Obviously.”
“How am I supposed to do that?”
“Oh, Commander,” Janeway sighs, “are you really such a fool? Do you really not understand the power you have over her?”
He frowns at her.
“Well,” she shrugs, “perhaps you don’t. So I’ll show you.”
She turns toward the conference table.
“Lieutenants Paris and Ayala, report for duty.”
Ayala is already shedding his jacket as he approaches, and Janeway chuckles.
“You always were quick on the uptake,” she murmurs. “You can break her in, if you like.”
Chakotay sucks in a hard breath, yanking at the bonds around his wrists, and Janeway turns back to him.
“Oh, no,” she mocks. “Jealous?”
“Captain,” he grits. “You can’t do this to her. She isn’t –” he breaks off, unable to articulate his objection.
“She isn’t like us,” he tries eventually. “She isn’t from our world – they don’t do things this way where she’s from.”
“Oh, don’t they?” Janeway laughs, turning to Kashyk. “Tell me, lover, does your Kathryn like to fuck?”
Kashyk looks at her, then at Chakotay. And Chakotay doesn’t like the look in his eyes.
“Oh, she likes it,” Kashyk drawls. He stands, reaching deliberately for Kathryn’s hand and placing it over the bulge in his pants. When he takes his hand away, hers remains, her fingers softly cupping and stroking. “See?” he says.
“It doesn’t count,” Chakotay growls. “She’s drugged. She can’t consent.”
“We can fix that,” Janeway purrs.
She slinks over to the replicator, calls up a hypospray and returns to Kathryn, pressing it to her neck. A slight hiss, and Kathryn blinks, the dazed, beatific haze clearing from her eyes. She inhales sharply and drops her hand away from Kashyk’s groin; she shivers, eyes darting around the room. But she doesn’t try to cover herself; rather, she stands straight, shoulders back, and fixes her gaze on Janeway.
Smart, thinks Chakotay; she knows where the greatest threat lies.
“What’s happening?” Kathryn grates, voice hoarse.
“We-ll-ll,” Janeway draws the word out, “Chakotay here was just insisting I let you decide that.”
“So here it is again,” Janeway goes on. “You’re going to do exactly what I want, or people are going to die.”
“What do you want?”
“For starters,” Janeway waves Kashyk back to his chair and makes herself comfortable on his lap; his arms come around her, hands unbuttoning her fly, “Mr Ayala is going to fuck you, then Mr Paris will have his turn. Then, if you’re still conscious, you’re going to tell me how you and your lover travelled to this universe.”
The colour drains from Kathryn’s face. “No.”
Janeway shrugs, wriggling in Kashyk’s lap as his fingers delve between her legs. “Then you’ll be signing a very painful, drawn-out and undignified death warrant for three young women, your lover and yourself. Is that what you want?”
“No,” she whispers.
“I’ll make it easier on you, then. You can fuck them both at once.”
Kathryn reaches out to grasp the back of a chair for support, knuckles whitening.
“Captain,” Chakotay says quietly. “This isn’t a choice.”
“Tuvok, will you please gag Chakotay,” Janeway snaps.
“With pleasure, Captain,” Tuvok replies, stepping forward to shove a rag into Chakotay’s mouth, binding it tightly at the back of his head. Chakotay pushes his tongue around it, works his teeth against it, but the fabric is thick and the knot solid. He considers himself lucky that he can still breathe.
“Mr Ayala,” Janeway murmurs, “I did promise you could take her first.”
“I don’t mind sharing, Captain,” he answers, walking behind Kathryn and stroking a hand the length of her spine, “as long as I can fuck her ass.”
“Fine with me,” Paris says hastily, moving in front of her and skimming one hand up over her ribcage.
“Is her skin as soft as mine?” Janeway asks with interest, as Paris’ fingers drift over the curve of Kathryn’s breast and Kashyk’s fondle Janeway’s.
“Mm-hm,” both men mumble in unison.
Kathryn’s eyes search desperately for Chakotay’s. He growls behind the rag, shifting against his bonds, gaze locked with hers, never wanting to look away.
Ayala steps back from her to strip off the rest of his clothing and begins nudging her forward, bending her over onto Paris, and Kathryn gasps, tensing.
“Wait,” she begs. “A minute, please.”
“Lieutenant,” Janeway scolds. “Lubricant, please. I don’t want her ripped apart,” she adds, thoughtfully, “yet.”
“Fucking heathen,” Paris mutters, glaring at Ayala over Kathryn’s shoulder. He tips Kathryn’s chin up, searching her expression. “Don’t worry,” Paris assures her, “I won’t let him hurt you.”
Ayala grumbles something unintelligible and stomps over to the replicator, returning with a tube of gel. He places a hand flat between Kathryn’s shoulder blades, ready to push her down again, but Paris stops him.
“I can see I’m gonna have to direct proceedings,” the pilot says with heavy sarcasm. “Sit down, for fuck’s sake, and have some patience. You’re gonna get your rocks off, guaranteed, but it’ll be so much better if you take it easy. Okay?”
Shrugging, Ayala flips open the tube of gel and sits wide-legged in the nearest chair, stroking the lubricant slowly onto his cock. “You gonna come over and suck my dick too, fly boy?”
“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Kim pipes up from the safety of the opposite corner, but if he’d expected Paris to take offence, he’s disappointed; the pilot just shrugs.
“I’m a little busy with the lady right now. It’s okay,” he addresses Kathryn, taking her hands and lifting them to his jacket front. He curls her fingers around the zipper tab and encourages her to slide it downward, push the coat from his shoulders, lift the undershirt over his head. Stripped to the waist, he bends to kiss her, but she twists her head to the side and his lips lock onto the pulse point in her throat instead.
“She doesn’t kiss on the lips,” Janeway remarks, her voice catching as Kashyk’s fingers slide between her spread legs. “I think she actually believes it means something. Isn’t it cute?”
Paris ignores her, scraping his teeth lightly over Kathryn’s jugular, and Kathryn’s eyes flutter closed, her palms flattening on Tom’s chest as she tilts her neck to give him greater access.
“You like that?” he murmurs, lips nuzzling her ear.
She doesn’t answer in words, but her sigh seems to be all the reply he needs. Paris slips his hands under her thighs and lifts her easily, winding her legs around his hips and walking her over to where Ayala is sitting, easing her gently down into his lap with her back against Ayala’s chest and his thick, dark cock nestling between her thighs.
Ayala groans and wraps his arms around her from behind, one hand clutching her breast, the other diving between her legs. Paris steps back to pull off his boots and pants and kneels before them, pressing their legs apart and leaning in to lick and nibble at Kathryn’s clit, pushing his tongue deep inside her. He reaches for the tube of lubricant, squeezing some into his palm, and with one hand he works Ayala’s cock while the other presses one finger, then two, carefully into Kathryn’s anus.
Kathryn’s whimper pulls an answering moan from Chakotay’s chest, the sound attracting Janeway’s attention.
“What’s wrong, Commander?” she husks. “You had your chance with her and you turned it down. Are you regretting your decision now?”
Chakotay glares at her over the gag, and Janeway laughs, the sound ending in a gasp as Kashyk’s fingers twist interestingly inside her trousers. She pushes his hand away and stands, stripping off jacket, boots, pants and panties in a matter of seconds, then sinks back onto his lap, legs sprawled, and cranes her neck to bite at Kashyk’s chin.
“Touch me,” she orders him, “but don’t make me come until she does.”
From the way Kathryn’s hips are writhing and the arch of her back, Chakotay realises Tom Paris is close to bringing her to that peak. Apparently Janeway comes to the same realisation.
“Stop,” she snaps. “Too soon.”
Paris eases back, sitting on his heels, and Kathryn shudders, her chest heaving as she pulls herself back from the brink.
“Fuck her,” Janeway demands. “Do it now.”
“With pleasure,” growls Ayala, and he grabs Kathryn’s hips, lifts her, and plunges her down, filling her ass, clamping his arms so tightly around her ribs and chest that she can’t draw breath to scream.
“Christ,” mutters Paris.
Don’t hurt her, Chakotay hurls at him silently, but either Paris has forgotten his promise or he never meant it. He steps forward, hands on Kathryn’s thighs, pushes them further apart and drives himself into her.
Kathryn’s body shudders, her legs falling helplessly either side of Paris’ hips, arms pushing at his shoulders; Ayala loosens his hold on her to stroke her breasts and she half-sobs, half-moans, a sound that could be pain or pleasure or an unholy mix of the two. Then the two men begin to move: a violent push-pull, or shove-wrench, and she finds purchase and rhythm. Her head falls back on Ayala’s shoulder, her fingers curl and clutch Paris’ back, her legs lock around his hips, and she begins to utter softly, “oh God, oh God, oh God,” and then just “oh … oh…”
And Janeway orders them, again, “Stop.”
“Are you kidding me?” Paris wheezes, stilling his thrusts, head bowed and panting.
Kathryn writhes beneath him and Ayala, under her, groans and clutches her hips. “Don’t do that.”
“Pull out,” says Janeway. “Ayala, you’re done. Go find yourself a bored crewman or a holodeck. I don’t care.”
Ayala growls, but subsides at Janeway’s sharp glare, wincing as Paris pulls out and helps Kathryn off him. Paris holds her against him, both of them trembling, while Ayala yanks on his clothes and storms out of the briefing room.
Janeway ignores him. Eyes feverish, she glances around the room, taking in each crew member, and seems to come to a decision.
“Paris, bring her over here,” she directs.
Obediently, he shuffles Kathryn toward the two chairs where Janeway sits on Kashyk’s lap, and Chakotay sits gagged and bound.
“Now turn her around,” commands Janeway. “I want Chakotay to watch her while you fuck her from behind. No – I want her sitting on his lap. Spread her legs either side of his.”
Chakotay growls his protest against the gag, but it sounds more like begging. And when he can finally bring himself to look at Kathryn’s face all he reads in her eyes is need. Not that their needs make any difference to Captain Janeway.
Paris helps Kathryn climb onto Chakotay’s lap. Her thighs are spread either side of Chakotay’s, her torso pressed to his, her arms draped around his shoulders. He can feel her soft breasts, the hard points of her nipples scoring his chest, the fragrant brush of her hair against his skin. He can smell her. God, he can smell her, and as Paris presses close, raising her hips to push inside her, he can feel her, damp against his undershorts.
“Tuvok,” Janeway orders breathlessly, “release Chakotay’s hands. I want him to hold her while she comes.”
The bindings come free and it’s worse, so much worse, because he can’t help himself. He can’t stop his hands from rising to touch her, his fingertips from stroking over her soft, soft skin, cradling her breasts, cupping her hips, skimming the curve of her waist. He can hear the wet sucking sounds of sex, her low gasps and moans, and he’s so painfully hard he can’t help moving his hips to meet her. The single layer of fabric between them, slick now with her juices and stretched over his erection, rubs her swollen clitoris with each movement.
Paris thrusts into her harder, faster. “Come on,” he groans, teeth clenched, “I can’t last.”
“Make her come, Lieutenant,” growls Janeway, voice hitching as Kashyk plunges his fingers deep inside her.
“Fuck her,” urges Harry Kim, fingers digging into B’Elanna Torres’ shoulder, eyes glazed.
Kathryn begins to pant in Chakotay’s ear, her body arched and tense. Her fingers work into the knot at the back of his head, pulling the gag away. He turns his face, his lips finding her throat, latching onto that spot that he knows, somehow, will send euphoria curling all the way to her toes.
And then, not knowing what in the hell possesses him, he whispers, “I wish it was me inside you,” and cups her face, tipping her forehead to his.
“Oh God,” she sobs, “Chakotay,” and then her eyes glaze and her body writhes, her mouth falling open as her orgasm rips through her like blinding fire.
He holds her through it, holding her up as Paris pulls out of her, holding her steady as her limbs loosen and tremble with exhaustion. He holds her gaze as she comes back to the present, clearing away the post-orgasmic clouds. He holds her close as her breath puffs against his lips, as she seems to melt into him, as her lips brush his own so briefly he might be imagining it. He holds her arm as she lifts herself carefully off his lap and stands, straightening to face the stares and the intimidation and the next cruel challenge, and he holds her gaze as she looks down at him, gratitude clear in her blue eyes.
Something warm and painful swells in his chest. He swallows against a rush of feelings, confusing and raw, and for the first time, looks away.
“All this time,” Janeway’s voice breaks the thick silence, “I thought Chakotay had the power to break you. But maybe I was wrong. Maybe you’re the one with the power.”
Kathryn blinks at her. Janeway is lying back against Kashyk’s chest, her legs sprawled open, his sodden fingers still moving lazily between her thighs, satisfied languor written in her limbs.
“You know,” Kathryn grinds out, “I’d ask what the hell you’re talking about, but I don’t care. I’ve had enough of your games.”
Her legs, she thinks, have regained enough strength to hold her without Chakotay’s assistance, so she lets go of his shoulder and walks carefully over to her discarded clothing.
“What do you think you’re doing?” asks Janeway as Kathryn bends to pick it up.
“Leaving,” Kathryn answers sharply, tugging on her pants.
“To go where?”
To be honest she hasn’t thought that far ahead, so she ignores the question, buttoning her fly as quickly as she can and yanking on her jacket, but when she tries to fasten it she discovers to her chagrin that the zipper is broken. B’Elanna, she remembers, and has to settle for clutching it closed.
“It doesn’t matter, anyway,” Janeway drawls.
Reluctantly, Kathryn turns to face her. “What do you mean?”
“I mean I haven’t finished with you.”
Janeway pushes Kashyk’s hands away and slinks over to Kathryn, linking their hands and drawing them away from Kathryn’s jacket so that it falls open again.
“Are you ready to tell me how you came to my universe?”
Kathryn says nothing.
Janeway sighs impatiently. “Do they have Kazon where you come from?”
“From your expression, I’m going to assume they’re not so different to their counterparts in this universe. Which means you’re not completely ignorant to the way they treat women.”
Kathryn compresses her lips.
“Surely a Federation bleeding heart like yourself wouldn’t want to see that happen to poor little Henley, Jor and Seska?”
“What?” shouts Tom Paris from the corner he’s crawled into. “You sent Seska over there?”
Janeway ignores him, squeezing Kathryn’s hands to draw her attention. “Well, Kathryn? Will you tell me what I want to know?”
Kathryn flicks a glance at Chakotay, who is staring at her with conflict written clearly in his eyes. She looks away.
“I can’t,” she forces out.
Janeway releases her hands, resting her palm on Kathryn’s bare chest. “I’m disappointed in you,” she sighs. “You aren’t taking this seriously.”
Kathryn says nothing.
“Perhaps you need a little demonstration. I could send for Maj Culluh.”
Janeway’s palm slides higher. She wraps her fingers around Kathryn’s throat, fitting her fingertips into yesterday’s bruises. Kathryn inhales sharply as the pressure increases.
“No,” Janeway decides, “that will take too long. Kash, come over here. You’re going to show her.”
After the briefest hesitation, Kash detaches himself from his position by the wall and moves silently to Janeway’s side.
“Captain?” he murmurs.
Janeway’s eyes slide over to Torres, still lashed to her chair. “I’m of a mind to taste blood, thanks to my little B’Elanna,” she smiles. “I could let her loose, but she has absolutely no control when she gets like this. And I want Kathryn to bleed, but I don’t want her to die. Do you think you can do that for me, Kash?”
Kathryn’s eyes are wide with fear and lack of air. She clutches at Janeway’s wrist, but Janeway’s fingers only squeeze tighter around her throat.
Kash swallows visibly. “Should I use tools, Captain?”
Janeway considers it. “Not this time. She’s so soft, I think you’ll probably do quite enough damage with your hands. And your cock.”
She laughs and releases her hold, leaving Kathryn gasping and coughing.
“Make it hot. I want to come again.”
Janeway prowls back to the chair where Kashyk sits spread-legged, settles into his lap again and leans sideways to burrow her hand into the open fly of Chakotay’s pants.
“Oh my, Commander,” she purrs. “If I ever need to replenish our photon torpedo supply, I’ll know where to come.”
“Don’t touch me,” he growls at her, grabbing her wrist, and she laughs and pulls her hand away.
“You should be so lucky,” she smirks. “You might want to take care of your little problem while your friend is fucking your would-be lover. Still, I suppose you’re used to it – you must’ve had blue balls for going on seven years now.”
She turns toward the couple by the briefing table: Kathryn, still in her leather pants, one hand awkwardly clutching her jacket closed, and Kash, quietly and methodically removing his roughspun clothing, folding it neatly like a person who knows he’ll be the one tidying it later.
“Well?” demands Janeway when Kash stands naked, his penis soft, hands loosely curled. “Get it done.”
“Kathryn,” Kash whispers so quietly she barely hears him.
She looks up reluctantly.
Before she can question him he lunges forward, knocks her hands to her sides, wrenches the jacket from her shoulders, spins her and pushes her face down onto the conference table.
She gasps. He’s knocked the breath out of her, and he follows up with a kick to the inside of her ankles and a knee shoved between her thighs from behind, ramming her pelvis against the edge of the table. He grabs one wrist and twists her arm behind her back. Kathryn cries out as bright pain flares in her shoulder and struggles against him, kicking back, but he shoves her down, slamming her cheekbone into the smooth wood of the table.
“Oh, that’s going to bruise,” she hears Janeway chuckle.
It makes her mad.
She goes limp, letting the breath shudder out of her, and is rewarded by an easing of his weight on her back: immediately she bends her knees, twisting and dropping out of his hold, scrambling under the table and crawling as fast as she can to the other side of it. Kash starts to skirt around it to meet her and she dashes in the opposite direction; he chases; she darts away, keeping the length of the table between them. She could keep this up indefinitely, she thinks.
Could have, that is, until Kash feints right, Kathryn stumbles, and Tuvok’s long arm snaps out, grasps her around the waist and lifts her kicking and wriggling off the floor.
In moments Kash is on her, wresting her from Tuvok’s grip, his arms locked around her from behind as he pushes her down onto the table again. His legs are curled around hers, propping them apart, keeping her from kicking him. His groin is flush against the cheeks of her ass, and he’s not flaccid now.
“Knife,” she hears him growl in a voice that doesn’t even sound like his, and Kathryn goes still, cold sweat prickling her spine.
Someone tosses Kash a blade. He catches it one-handed; it snicks at the back of her waistband and she whimpers as the leather parts, baring her. Kash shifts to one side and holds both of her wrists one-handed in front, pulled high above her head, stretching her chest flat to the table as he tugs the ruined pants down her legs, hacking at them with the knife whenever they won’t budge. When he has exposed enough of her he shifts back between her legs, his cock hot and hard in the crease between her cheeks. She’s shaking, sobs catching in her throat. She closes her eyes and tries to relax, tries not to brace for the penetration she knows is coming next.
But he falters.
She feels him wilting against her, feels his grip loosen on her wrists. The knife clatters from his hand onto the table and Kash steps back, his breathing heavy and uneven.
“I’m sorry,” he says again, but this time Kathryn doesn’t think he’s talking to her.
“Oh, but you will be,” says Janeway in a tone more glacial than any Kathryn has heard from her yet. “Tuvok, you know what to do.”
Not daring to move, Kathryn turns her head fractionally to the side, watching through a fallen curtain of hair as Tuvok speaks quietly to the replicator and carries an item over to Janeway. A small baton, Kathryn thinks, uncertain of its purpose.
Janeway stands and begins to advance on Kash, but changes her mind, returning to present the baton to Kashyk. “You’ve earned this, lover,” she murmurs. “Make me proud.”
Kashyk takes it, inspecting it with interest, and – Kathryn can’t help noticing – a certain amount of expertise; he’s not unfamiliar with this device. “Thank you,” he smiles at Janeway. “This will do nicely.”
He prowls toward Kash, who stands his ground, fists clenched and chest heaving.
“You’re stupid, you know,” Kashyk informs his double. “All you had to do was hurt her.”
Kash lifts his chin. “Would you?”
Kashyk laughs. “Pain is a necessary endurance. And if you knew anything about Kathryn, you’d know she’d be the first to agree.”
“I don’t think,” says Kash, “that we’re talking about the same kind of pain.”
“Let’s find out.”
Kashyk presses a button on the side of the cylindrical device and it hums to life, energy crackling from two protruding nubs either side of the far end. He flicks his wrist and blue fire arcs out from the baton, scorching a whip-trail across Kash’s torso. Red weals rise on his chest and stomach.
Kash cries out hoarsely and stumbles against the table. He leans on trembling arms, head bowed and shaking. Kathryn pulls herself upright and scoots to Kash’s side, resting a hand on his shoulder.
“What the hell was that?” she demands, looking from Kashyk to Janeway. “What did you do to him?”
“That was nothing,” Janeway tells her, leaning a hip against Chakotay’s shoulder, casually inspecting her nails. “Turn it up, lover.”
“With pleasure,” answers Kashyk, and dials the device up to a low whine.
He turns his wrist. Indigo lightning streaks from the baton and scorches a diagonal scarlet welt across Kash’s back. He moans like a wounded animal and slumps half over the table, his knees hitting the deck.
“Stop,” Kathryn begs, “please.”
Janeway leans more heavily on Chakotay’s shoulder, her arm falling around his neck, fingers playing idly with his hair; he holds still, his jaw rigid with tension. “You’re a very strange person, Kathryn,” she addresses her double. “You do realise Kash was about to violate you in the most brutal of ways, don’t you? And yet you’re pleading with me to stop your lover from avenging you.”
“But he didn’t hurt me,” Kathryn points out, edging in front of the shaking Kash. “He couldn’t do it, and now he’s taking the pain that you meant for me. Why can’t you see that?”
Janeway’s eyes narrow thoughtfully. “You have a point,” she concedes, combing her fingers through Chakotay’s hair. “He’s insubordinate, and he must be punished. Get out of the way.”
“No. I won’t let you hurt him anymore.”
Janeway’s fingers tighten in Chakotay’s hair, causing him to flinch involuntarily. “You won’t let me?”
“No,” says Kathryn, “I won’t.”
“All right,” Janeway says softly. “Then the pain is yours.”
Kashyk turns to Janeway, uncertain. “Captain?”
Janeway waves an impatient hand. “I don’t want you to use the neural whip on her. That’s far too easy. Put it away, lover.”
There’s a flicker of relief in Kashyk’s eyes, Kathryn notices, as he deactivates the baton and moves to the replicator to dispose of it.
“Get him out of the way,” Janeway gestures towards Kash, and Kashyk throws an arm under his double’s shoulder and hauls the injured man upright, dumping him carelessly into the chair Kashyk and Janeway had previously occupied.
Kathryn can’t help grinding her teeth. “He needs medical attention,” she growls.
“And he’ll get it,” Janeway retorts, “if you earn it for him.”
Kathryn’s shoulders droop. “What do you want from me?”
“Well, let’s see,” drawls Janeway, pushing off from Chakotay’s shoulder and stalking toward Kathryn. “You’ve had your Maquis. You almost had your Devore. Now it’s time to choose your Starfleet officer.”
Kathryn looks at her, blank and uncomprehending.
“Which one will it be, Kathryn?” the captain asks her, leaning in so close her lips brush Kathryn’s ear. “Ensign Kim, or Commander Tuvok?”
“No,” whispers Kathryn. “No, you can’t make me do this.”
“You know I can, Kathryn.” Janeway lays a palm against her cheek. Her eyes are almost tender. “Look at them. Which one will it be?”
She steps back, gesturing for both officers to move into Kathryn’s line of sight.
Harry Kim bolts forward, almost shouldering the captain aside in his eagerness to get close to Kathryn. Hampered by the leather still twisted around her lower legs, she shuffles rapidly backward until the backs of her thighs bump up against the edge of the conference table, her palms held up to ward him off.
“At ease, Ensign,” Janeway drawls in amusement, and Kim falls back reluctantly. “Tuvok?”
The Vulcan moves silently to stand beside the ensign. His eyes, dark and remote, pass over Kathryn’s face and shift away as though she’s beneath his notice.
She studies Tuvok’s spare frame. Too well, she knows the strength, the latent power it holds. Too well, she knows his telepathic abilities and the advantage they give him over most other humanoids. And too well she knows of his control. If he wants to hurt her – if he wants to prolong her pain – he can do so indefinitely, and there’s nothing she can do to stop him.
Kim’s stare, in contrast, roams hotly over Kathryn’s body. She can all but feel it crawling into every crevice, lingering on curves and planes. His pants are tented at the front and sweat beads on his hairline. His fingers twitch at his sides.
She swallows hard. With Kim, she thinks, it will be brutal, but it will probably be over quickly. But with Tuvok …
“Choose,” Janeway says softly, watching her.
Kathryn meets her eyes. “I choose Harry.”
The words are barely out of her mouth before Kim’s vest hits the floor, his shaking fingers wrenching at his shirt buttons. But Janeway’s voice, cracking like a whip, halts him in his tracks.
“Stand down, Ensign Kim.”
“What?” he quavers. “But Captain –”
“Do you really think,” she hisses, “that you have earned this reward? You, who can’t even earn a lieutenant’s pip?”
Kim’s hands drop to his sides as his face falls. “No, Captain.”
“Report to the bridge,” Janeway orders. “Take B’Elanna with you. And Paris, go and see to my children.”
“My children,” Paris mutters sotto voce, but before Janeway can punish him for it he releases a mutinously scowling B’Elanna from her chair, grasps Kim’s arm and hustles the pair of them out of the briefing room.
Kathryn grips the edge of the conference table and switches her gaze between Janeway and Tuvok, trying not to tremble. “You said I had a choice,” she accuses the captain.
“I did,” Janeway concedes. “But you made the wrong one. Believe me, I’m doing you a favour. Wouldn’t you rather a finely-honed dagger than a jackhammer?”
“Interesting analogy.” Kathryn clips her words short, trying to hide how short of breath she is. Fear is turning her knees to jelly, cramping her stomach. “Have you ever considered not thinking of sex in terms of weaponry?”
“I know what you’re doing,” Janeway says flatly. “You’re trying to distract me, hoping you can delay the inevitable. Your witty banter won’t save you now, Kathryn.”
She turns to Tuvok.
“You’re so faithful to me, Commander,” she says, her voice soothingly low. “My constant companion; my red right hand. I don’t believe I show you often enough how deeply I appreciate your service.”
His dark gaze lowers to hers. “It’s my honour to serve, Captain.”
Janeway smiles, raising her hand, two fingers extended; he meets it in kind. “Yes, I believe it is,” she murmurs. “And later, in my quarters, perhaps I’ll allow you to honour me with a more personal form of service. But right now,” she steps back, “I want you to break her.”
Kathryn’s breath catches in her lungs.
“Break her, Captain?” Tuvok asks, one eyebrow rising.
Impatient, Janeway strides back toward the three other men: Kash, sprawled half-unconscious in one chair, Chakotay, legs bound to the other, and Kashyk standing behind them.
“Find out what she knows,” Janeway orders Tuvok, arranging herself on Chakotay’s lap and drawing his resisting hand between her spread, naked thighs. “Do whatever it takes. And make it look good. I need to come.”
Tuvok’s cool gaze fixes on Kathryn’s. He advances on her, one hand rising, fingers spreading to touch her temple, cheekbone and chin.
“No,” she whispers, stumbling back. “Please, no.”
But he’s too quick for her; his other arm whips around her waist, holding her hard against him. His right hand makes contact with her pressure points.
“My mind to your mind,” he murmurs. “My thoughts to your thoughts.”
“No,” Kathryn cries, squeezing her eyes shut. “Tuvok, don’t do this!”
She throws up every psychological barrier she can muster, and they are plenty: the Tuvok of her own universe, of course, spent years assisting her with her mental discipline, and two years living among the Devore with their pathological hatred of telepaths has taught her a trick or two. And she is Kathryn Janeway, and she has always been strong-willed.
But she’s only human, and she cannot withstand the full mental barrage of a trained Kolinahr master.
Let me in, Kathryn.
He attacks like a tidal wave: overwhelming, all-consuming and impossible to escape. Her defences are crumbling; she’s sinking under the surface, agony burning her lungs as she struggles desperately for release.
Stop resisting. Show me what you don’t want me to see.
Her limbs are dead weights. She can’t breathe, can’t see; there is nothing but darkness and drowning and pain.
Tendrils of fire curl into the recesses of her mind and there is nothing she can do, nowhere she can hide. He crashes through every blockage she throws in his path like so much flimsy latticework, surging in and over her mental walls until he reaches the vulnerable core of her. And there, curled up in the last safe place she can hide, he finds her and drags her kicking and screaming into fiery, unforgiving light.
A barrage of images is wrenched from her mind, and she has no will to stop it. Her father grilling her in astrophysics at the dinner table; laughing with friends at tennis practice; her first kiss.
This is useless. Move on. Show me more.
It isn’t Tuvok’s voice.
“What’s happening?” Kathryn asks plaintively.
“We’re linked,” Janeway informs her aloud. “Tuvok has bridged our minds so I can read you directly. Efficient, don’t you think?”
Kathryn struggles to open her eyes; it’s like breathing underwater, so heavy and drained does she feel. And when she does see it’s with fractured vision, as though she’s seeing through three sets of eyes. Her stomach lurches with nausea and she blinks rapidly to clear the splintered images.
She is standing sandwiched between Chakotay’s shoulder and Tuvok’s hard, lean torso. Tuvok leans over her, strong fingers clamped to her face, his other hand on Janeway’s temple and cheekbone. Janeway herself is reclining against Chakotay’s chest; she has pushed one of his hands between her legs and is riding it, her hips undulating. The fingers of her other hand are woven into his, holding it to her breast, plucking at her nipple.
Chakotay’s face is stoic, but when Kathryn lowers her fevered eyes to his she reads a tangle of emotion.
“Stop what you’re doing to him,” she says without thinking.
Janeway looks at her through heavy-lidded eyes, pulls Chakotay’s fingers from her cunt and brings them to her lips, sucking them languorously. “I think you should be more concerned about what we’re doing to you right now, Kathryn,” she purrs as she pushes his hand back down.
Tuvok’s grip tightens on Kathryn’s face and she whimpers, eyes closing as more memories are wrenched from her.
Her first heartbreak: the casual cruelty of it, and the depth of the wound it left.
An academy survival exercise that turned a little too real and landed her in the medical bay for two weeks, fighting her way through a coma haze to her mother’s agitated eyes.
The Cardassians, holding her down and laughing as they took turns raping her.
The pomp and colours, the endless line of admirals’ hands at her father’s funeral, and Justin’s quiet, barely-remembered ceremony two days later.
A wicked needle piercing her chest, violating her, then the chain of events that would change the course of her life forever, culminating in the destruction of the Caretaker’s array.
Battles with the Kazon, Seska’s treachery, distrust of her Maquis crew members. The relentless dread of the first shaky months in the Delta quadrant, when she didn’t know whom to trust.
A lush green planet, laughter and tomato plants – No, Kathryn/Tuvok thinks, steering violently away.
The Borg alliance and the fluidic space aliens – “Oh, that’s interesting,” she hears Janeway murmur aloud. “We don’t have them here. Or her,” as an image of Seven of Nine shimmers into Kathryn’s mind and disappears.
And the Devore. A disastrous attraction, a dangerous game, and ultimately, a terrible price: to watch as her ship, her home, leaves her behind.
By the time she blinks her way back to this reality, to these horrible, forming memories, she’s wracked with sobs, tears damp on her cheeks.
“Why are you doing this?” she whispers. “Why are you torturing me?”
“Because you’re still resisting,” Janeway snaps. “Tuvok, did I or did I not tell you to break her?”
My apologies, Captain, says Tuvok through the link, and the full force of his mind slams into Kathryn like a landslide.
She can’t even whimper. He cracks her open like an egg, and she simply shudders and gives way. He swirls into her and shakes her inside out and she is helpless, utterly helpless to repel him.
But, in some small corner of herself where she is still herself, she thinks that maybe she doesn’t have to. Maybe letting him in is the right thing to do. It sure as hell isn’t what he’ll be expecting.
Come in, she tries tentatively, standing steady. I have nothing to hide. Come and see.
A wisp of suspicion reaches her and the barrage seems to ease a little. Encouraged, Kathryn opens wider.
It’s all right, Tuvok. I know you. In another life, you and I are friends.
Anger swells hot and red. Tell me what I want to know. Tell me by what means you came to this universe.
It won’t help you, she says gently. But I can help you. Look.
And she shows him.
She shows him the first time she met her Tuvok, her annoyance at his Vulcan pomposity; her gradual respect for him and the deepening of their friendship. She shows him their years of service together, his obedience to her orders, his protection of her. She shows him how she relies on his counsel, how she trusts him more than almost anyone.
And as she envelops him in warmth, she feels his anger slipping away, curling back into itself as though it doesn’t have the strength to stand against her.
Until Janeway speaks.
“What’s happening?” the captain demands, her voice husky and furious. “Tuvok?”
Instantly, Tuvok’s telepathic shields slam down like a duranium bulkhead. Kathryn gasps in agony, reeling backward. A massive weight presses down on her. It takes a moment to realise that it isn’t only mental.
She forces her eyes open to find herself on her knees. Tuvok’s fingers feel welded to her face, the pressure points bruised at her temple, cheekbone and jaw. He has broken the meld with Janeway and his other hand is heavy on Kathryn’s shoulder, holding her down.
Kathryn looks up into his eyes and feels her insides clench. There’s nothing there: nothing she can reach.
Tuvok releases her face and unzips his fly, pulling out his rigid penis. He strokes it twice, then pushes at her lower lip with his thumb. “Open your mouth,” he orders.
She shakes her head slowly, swallowing hard.
“Your mistake,” he says, and slams his fist into her cheekbone.
Stars burst behind her eyes. She pitches sideways, head ringing; Tuvok bends down and grasps a handful of her hair, pulling her upright. Somewhere, she can hear someone shouting, pleading, and recognises the voice as Chakotay’s.
“Open your mouth,” repeats Tuvok. “If you don’t, you will not be the only one who regrets the decision.”
Kathryn opens her mouth.
He wastes no time filling her with his cock. Hot, smooth and thick, he pushes it past her soft palate, forcing her to arch her neck sharply and inhale through her nose so as not to choke. Her hands fly up to his thighs, trying to restrain him, but he twists strong fingers in her hair and drives his hips forward, thrusting into her throat.
“I am in control,” he informs her, his voice expressionless.
She can’t breathe. She panics, writhing, beating at his thighs with her fists; she clamps her teeth around him as much as she’s able, but he doesn’t even seem to feel it. Saliva drools from the corners of her mouth as she fights to swallow his length, to keep her airway open. She whimpers, blinking up at him, sending him a silent plea for mercy.
He hears her, but not with his ears.
A frown creases his brow, but Tuvok loosens his fingers from her hair and eases back, pulling out of her mouth and letting her gasp for air. The reprieve doesn’t last long – the head of his cock rests on her lower lip, silently demanding entry. But this time, at least, when she allows him in, he slides in smoothly, slowly. This time he lets her set the pace.
Thank you, she thinks, and he nods once.
Somewhere deep inside, the old Kathryn Janeway is raising hell at the injustice of thanking him for assaulting her, but hell has come to mean something different to her these days.
Kathryn wraps her hands around him and slides her mouth over the fat head of his penis, watching his small twitches and listening for the soft mental whispers that will tell her when he’s close. She can feel the waves building, pleasure rolling in like a tide; his iron control is loosening as desire begins to flood his neural pathways, stronger and more overpowering than human lust.
This is the most dangerous moment for her, she knows. Pon farr might only come around every seven years, but she’s well aware that Vulcans aren’t celibate for the remainder. And Tuvok’s wife, T’Pel, was once quite forthcoming with her about what sex was like outside of the plak tow: it’s one of the times when a Vulcan’s emotional mastery is weakest.
She’s going to have to be careful.
Kathryn swirls her tongue around the rim of Tuvok’s cock as one hand pumps his length. He grunts and tangles a hand in her hair again. Easy, she sends to him, and wraps her other hand firmly around the base of his penis, keeping him from thrusting too far down her throat. She feels him check himself, holding back on his instinctual drive to possess her, to ram himself into her mouth and gratify the lust swelling inside him.
She’s peripherally aware of the others in the room with them, but she has no space for them right now. She’s putting everything she has into this, into working him with tongue and throat and teeth, into wrapping her hands and her mind around this man, this man who so closely resembles her oldest friend, into giving him pleasure so he won’t cause her, or anybody else, any more pain.
It takes all her strength and all her concentration to bring Tuvok to the brink of orgasm, to hold him teetering on the edge, to let him wash over it in a flood of release and euphoria without losing his grip on reason. But she does it. She lets him fist his hands in her hair as he spills into her mouth, lets him reach out with his mind and welcomes him into her own. She soothes him with hums and strokes and sighs, and when he withdraws from her, both physically and mentally, she’s satisfied that the information he has retrieved from her is exactly what she wanted him to take.
“Well?” demands Janeway, flushed and husky from the climax she’s wrung from Chakotay’s reluctant fingers.
Tuvok arranges himself back into his pants as he turns to face her, and nods. “I have the information you requested, Captain.”
“Oh, nicely done, Tuvok,” she murmurs. “What is it, then?”
“An accident,” he answers succinctly. “This woman was attempting to escape her captor’s custody by way of a stolen transporter device. Inspector Kashyk’s ship was involved in a battle at the time, employing tricobalt explosives to destroy an enemy vessel. The charges tore a rift in subspace with which the Devore ship subsequently intersected. It seems the rift was also a temporary interdimensional bridge, which these intruders crossed over. They did not bring the transporter device with them, and as the rift has likely closed, there does not seem to be any way for them to return to their universe.”
There’s a long silence. Kathryn, kneeling on the floor, chest heaving, body aching, reminds herself to keep her head down.
“And you believed that story?” Janeway says eventually, her voice soft with danger. “Tuvok, it pains me to say this, but I think you’ve lost your touch.”
Kathryn bites her lip.
Janeway pushes upright and walks over to face Tuvok. “She’s lying,” she states. “I can see it. Her lover can see it. Hell, Harry Kim could see it. What’s gotten into you?”
“Captain, I –”
“Stop talking. I want you out of my sight, you pathetic excuse for a telepath. For Kahless’ sake, what is it about her?” Janeway spits.
She wheels away from Tuvok, takes the two strides that bring her to Kathryn’s side and crouches, grasping Kathryn’s chin to tilt it to the light.
“How are you doing this?” she growls. “Half of my men want to fuck you and the other half are in love with you. How have you turned them all so quickly?”
“Maybe you should try treating them with basic decency,” Kathryn swallows painfully against Janeway’s punishing grip, “instead of threatening to kill them any time they irritate you.”
Janeway pushes her violently away and Kathryn crumples to the deck, raising a hand to rub ruefully at her bruised jaw. She watches the captain warily, looming over her with her hands on her hips.
“I’ve given you so many opportunities, and each time you’ve chosen the wrong path,” Janeway informs her. “You’ll tell me the truth eventually, though.”
“I am telling you the truth,” Kathryn says evenly. “There’s no way to return to my universe. Not for me, and definitely not for you.”
“I’ll give you some time to reconsider that answer,” Janeway replies. “Tuvok, return to the bridge, then transport Kathryn, Kash and Chakotay to the first officer’s quarters and erect a level ten forcefield. Activate the replicator for basic medical supplies. Oh, and that reminds me – have the Doctor come to my cabin; I think I could use a new hair style. Kashyk, you’re with me.”
“He needs immediate treatment,” Kathryn frowns, fingertips lightly brushing the raised welt on Kash’s chest.
He groans, eyes fluttering, and Chakotay shifts his shoulders under the Devoran’s arm. “In here,” he gestures toward the bedroom.
Kathryn helps him ease Kash onto the bed, wincing in sympathy as the wound on his back contacts the bedcover. “What was that device?” she asks Chakotay. “A neural whip, she called it?”
Chakotay’s jaw tightens. “Believe me, you don’t want to know.”
“Has she used it on you before?” Kathryn glances at him.
He doesn’t answer. “We’re going to need two dermal regenerators, a hypospray of analgesic – triptacederine should do it – and another of anesthizine and synaptizine.”
“He’s in neural shock. He needs to sleep for at least two hours while his synaptic pathways repair themselves.”
“Then what’s the analgesic hypospray for?”
Chakotay straightens, looking down at her. “That’s for you.”
“Me?” she frowns.
“Have you looked in a mirror lately, Kathryn?”
She shakes her head.
Chakotay points over her shoulder. “The bathroom is that way. I’ll get the medkit ready.”
He turns back into the main room, and she hears him speaking quietly to the replicator; frowning, curiosity piqued, she walks into the bathroom and calls for lights.
In the mirror, her reflection makes her suck in a breath.
Her left cheekbone is painted in shades of blue and violet and so inflamed that the entire side of her face looks misshapen; that eye is bloodshot and almost swollen shut. On that same cheek is the imprint of a perfect set of Klingon teeth, bloody and raw. On the other side of her face, on her temple, cheekbone and jaw, are deep, throbbing blue-black bruises. There are two thick gashes scoring her lower lip. Dried blood stains her chin, and blooming over her jawline and throat are cloudy purple bruises.
Only now, looking at herself, does she realise how much she hurts. And that’s only her face. Her body, too, she notices as her gaze sweeps down over the marks and contusions that so many hands have left on her today, is a tender, throbbing mass of aches.
And she’s still naked. Suddenly burning with shame, she casts about for something with which to cover herself. Hanging on the back of the door is a fluffy bathrobe; she snatches it, shoves her arms through the sleeves, wraps it around herself and belts it tightly. It’s huge on her, of course; she has to roll back the sleeves and pick up the hem so she doesn’t trip on it, but it’s warm and comforting, and it smells like Chakotay.
She swallows back tears.
“Kathryn?” There’s a soft tap at the bathroom door. “Are you okay in there?”
“I’m fine,” she manages, and opens the door.
“Hold him,” Chakotay instructs after rolling Kash carefully onto his side and emptying the hypospray into his neck. “The sedative will take effect soon.”
Kathryn nods, bracing her hands under Kash’s shoulder so Chakotay can work the regenerator over his back, the more severely injured area, first.
“I’m so sorry,” she murmurs to Kash. “You did this for me.”
His eyelids flutter. “S’okay,” he mutters.
Kathryn glances up at Chakotay in relief. “He can speak. I was starting to worry.”
Chakotay’s lips compress. “The neural whip causes temporary aphasia. He got lucky. Last time she used it on me I couldn’t talk for days.”
Kathryn closes her eyes momentarily. “He knew that, and he did this anyway.”
“Used to it,” Kash slurs. “Pain.”
Her voice trembles. “That doesn’t mean it’s all right.”
“Same for you,” he mumbles, and then his breathing evens out.
“He’s asleep,” Chakotay informs her. “Good. It’ll help him heal faster.”
Kathryn bites the inside of her cheek as she watches him work, saying nothing. She helps him manoeuvre the unconscious Kash this way and that so Chakotay can run the regenerator over his wounds, all the while staying silent. When they’re done, Chakotay drapes a blanket over the sleeping Devore and gestures for Kathryn to follow him into the living room.
“Your turn,” he says, indicating she should take a seat on the couch.
She ignores it, folding her arms. “I’m fine.”
“No, you’re not,” Chakotay says, his voice short. “Most of your injuries look superficial, yes, but they’ve got to be uncomfortable, and you don’t have to suffer.”
Kathryn laughs, and Chakotay fixes her with a look.
“You have something to say?” he demands.
“Suffer,” she repeats, still chuckling. “Isn’t that just the way it is?”
“Life.” She waves a hand, starting to pace. “Fate. Everything. Whether it’s in your universe or mine, suffering is a constant.”
Chakotay leans against the bulkhead, watching her. “From what I’ve heard about your universe, it doesn’t have to be. Seems like you chose that way of life.”
Something bursts out of her, half-sob, half-laugh. “You know what, Chakotay? You’re right. Everything I’ve done, every decision I’ve made, it’s all been designed to lead me into hell. So maybe I should just accept it. Maybe we make the fate we deserve.”
She stops, all the anger leaching from her and leaving behind nothing but despair, and finds herself seeking his eyes.
“What do I do now?” she asks him.
His brow furrows. “I don’t understand.”
“I mean about everything,” Kathryn gestures vaguely, swaying on her feet. “He’s with her, and even if I could get it to work he has it.”
Chakotay’s frown deepens and he pushes away from the wall, moving closer. “Kathryn, what are you talking about?”
“Kashyk,” she says. “He has the limina, but it doesn’t matter anyway because she has him.”
“Okay, you’re not making any sense, and you need to sit down right now,” Chakotay says firmly, taking hold of her elbows and steering her toward the couch.
Kathryn goes, unresisting, her knees folding under her as he eases her down gently. “I thought about asking B’Elanna to fix it, but then she bit me and now I don’t think she’ll respect me in the morning.” She giggles. Her head is light, her breath short. She feels as though she wants to throw up.
“Okay.” Chakotay leans over to the coffee table, dials up a hypospray and applies it to her neck.
She blinks, feeling her mind clear as the nausea abates. “Oh. Thank you.”
“Better?” he asks.
“Yes. What was in that?”
“Analgesic and a very mild sedative. You were spiralling, for want of a better word.”
“Right.” Kathryn rubs her still-pounding temple and winces at the pressure on her bruise.
“Can I fix that up for you now?” Chakotay asks, gesturing at the mess her face has become.
She nods, trying to smile. “I’m sorry for being difficult. My Chakotay – uh, my former first officer used to tell me I was a terrible patient.”
“You’d say you were fine if you’d just had your arm ripped off by a Kolar beast.”
“Something like that,” she whispers, grateful for the excuse to close her eyes as he switches on the dermal regenerator and takes her chin between gentle fingers.
Kathryn opens her eyes. “For what?”
Chakotay avoids her gaze. “About Kashyk. The captain has obviously taken a liking to him, and she always gets what she wants.”
“Oh.” Kathryn allows him to tilt her head so he can heal the last of the contusions on her jaw. “Yes. I’m worried for him.”
“She won’t hurt him,” Chakotay hesitates, “at least as long as he pleases her.”
Kathryn can’t help stiffening.
“Sorry,” he mumbles again. “I’m sure he’s hating every minute of it.”
She snorts, and Chakotay looks at her in surprise.
“What does that mean?”
“Kashyk is happy to possess any version of Kathryn Janeway. I’m certain he’s in seventh heaven right now.”
“Possess?” Chakotay repeats. He sits back, letting his hands fall from her face as he switches off the regenerator. “There’s more to it than that. I’ve seen the way he looks at you.”
She avoids his eyes. “In his own way, he does care about me.”
“And you?” Chakotay asks. “Do you love him?”
“How could I?” she says softly. “He took me away from everything I knew, everything I am.” She raises her eyes to his. “Everyone I loved.”
He looks at her for long enough that the colour begins to rise in her cheeks. Then he reaches for her hand, folding his fingers around hers.
“Tell me,” he invites, his voice gentle.
“He’d known all along that we were hiding the telepaths,” she explains. “When the game was played out – after his crew had transported back to his ship – he gave me a choice: he would keep his word, let Voyager go free, but only if I would stay with him.”
Chakotay’s eyes are unfathomable. “Your first officer,” he grates. “He agreed to that?”
Kathryn looks up quickly. “No,” she says emphatically. “He didn’t know. Until we reached the edge of Devore space, nobody did. I continued to command, Kashyk’s ship escorted us to the border, and as soon as we made contact with the Brenari, holding position in the shuttle outside Devore territory, I dropped our shields so Kashyk could have me beamed aboard his vessel.”
“What did he do?” Chakotay asks. “Your first officer.”
“I ordered him not to attempt a rescue,” she replies. “I told him it was my choice to stay. I was very clear about that.”
“And he believed you?”
“No,” she admits. “But he didn’t have a choice. He had our crew to protect.”
Chakotay looks down at their joined hands. “I’m trying to understand how he could have left you behind.”
“Then let me explain,” Kathryn says emphatically, pulling her hand away. “He had no option. If Voyager had mounted a rescue – if they’d even stayed near the Devore border – they would have been destroyed. Kashyk was quite clear about that, and I was equally so in the message I left for Chakotay. It became his fate to captain Voyager for the remainder of her journey. And if I damned him to that hell, then believe me, I’ll live the rest of my life regretting it.”
“Do you really believe that?”
“Hell. Damnation. Fate. All that stuff.”
Kathryn sighs, rising from the couch to stand at the viewport. “I don’t know, Chakotay. Some days it’s easier than believing in the randomness of the multiverse.”
“Well, how about taking charge of your own fate?” He comes over to stand at her left shoulder. “You were a Starfleet captain, weren’t you?”
“Are you going to pep talk me?” she asks, giving him a dark look.
“I am,” he says. “You mentioned something earlier – a limina, was it? What was that?”
She stiffens. “Nothing.”
Chakotay levels a disbelieving stare at her. “You said Kashyk has it. You said you can’t get it to work, but B’Elanna might be able to. Am I right?”
Kathryn shifts her feet.
“Listen, Kathryn, I understand if you don’t trust me. But I want to help you, and I’m pretty sure Kash will, too. So if this limina is the transporter device you used to get to our universe, then there’s a chance we can help you use it to get back home.” He pauses. “Maybe you could even use it to find your Voyager.”
She chews her lip, debating. It’s clear now that her attempt to deceive Tuvok, and through him Janeway, failed, and now Chakotay knows about the limina. Lying, it seems, isn’t getting her anywhere.
Sooner or later she’s going to have to start trusting someone, and it might as well be the man who, in her universe, she trusted with her life.
“Thank you, Chakotay,” she says finally, her voice soft. “But it’s too late.”
Kathryn avoids his eyes. “Part of my agreement with Kashyk was that he’d help Voyager on her way, as far as it was in his power to do so. He used covert scout vessels and sensor networks to keep tabs on them for about eight months.”
She stops, and Chakotay prompts, “And then what?”
“We received reports, weeks later, that suggested there had been some kind of conflict involving a Federation starship, but for some time those reports were unverified.”
“So why can’t you use that limina to follow them?” he asks.
She shakes her head.
“Hey.” He touches her shoulder lightly. “What aren’t you telling me?”
Kathryn draws in a breath, steadying her voice. “Six months ago, Kashyk received word from one of his scout vessels. The captain had investigated the rumours about a firefight involving Voyager and had discovered the site where the battle had taken place. He brought back several pieces of debris. One was a fragment of warp core housing that could only have come from a Starfleet vessel.” She meets Chakotay’s eyes. “I studied it myself and determined that the ship had suffered a catastrophic core breach. There’s no way it could have survived.”
Chakotay’s lips part. “Kathryn – I’m so sorry.”
She nods, turning away abruptly.
“You know,” Chakotay says gently, “Voyager might not have survived, but if her crew are anything like you, they’re resourceful. There’s a chance they made it.”
Kathryn says nothing.
“If you wanted to try to get back to Earth, I’d help you.”
She closes her eyes briefly. “Thank you. But it isn’t possible.”
“Kathryn …” He guides her over to the bench seat below the viewport and cajoles her to sit, taking her hands. “Listen, if there’s one thing I’ve figured out about you, it’s that you obviously care about your crew. Don’t you want to find out what happened to them, even if it’s bad news?” He pauses. “Don’t you want to go home?”
“Yes.” Her voice is raw.
“Then why won’t you try?”
“Because it won’t work,” she emphasises. “The device’s power cell is completely depleted and I have no way to recharge it. I’m stuck in this universe, Chakotay, and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
“I told you I’d help you.”
“It’s too risky. If she found out, she’d kill you.”
Chakotay huffs out a laugh. “You call this living? I’ll risk it.”
“But I won’t,” she bites back, stalking over to the coffee table and beginning to stack the hyposprays and regenerators back into the medkit. “I’ve already been responsible for Kash getting hurt. I won’t let you –” She breaks off.
Chakotay sits on the low table beside her and lays a hand on her wrist, stilling her movements. “I think that’s my decision, actually.”
“No, it isn’t.” Kathryn snaps shut the medkit and glares at him.
Chakotay’s mouth twitches.
“What?” she growls.
“Nothing,” he says, then, “You remind me of someone.”
“Just someone I used to know. A long time ago now.”
She puts down the medkit and fixes him with a look. “Chakotay, if you have something say, I wish you’d just say it.”
“Her,” he admits, finally. “You remind me of her.”
She frowns, then gasps as his meaning sinks in. “You mean… Captain Janeway? I’m nothing like her!”
“She wasn’t always like this,” Chakotay mutters. “She used to be –”
“What?” Kathryn’s hands are on her hips, jaw clenched.
“Never mind,” he mumbles.
She draws breath to verbally scour him – but then there’s a red blur in her mind, a swell of pain, of shame and anger that isn’t her own.
“Tuvok,” she blurts.
“What did you say?” Chakotay’s eyes sharpen.
Kathryn shakes her head to clear it. “The mind meld,” she says. “It created a link – I can feel him. In my mind. He’s talking to her – to the captain. They’re in her ready room.”
“What are they saying?”
She frowns. “She’s angry with him. He’s disappointed her… he feels ashamed. He –” she shudders, looks up at Chakotay. “Their relationship – it disturbs me. He is obsessed. He lives to please her, and she twists him around her little finger. It’s sick.”
“You don’t have to tell me about it,” he says grimly. “What does she want from him?”
“She’s suspicious of us,” Kathryn explains. “She thinks you and I are conspiring against her. She’s ordering him to prepare the brig for interrogation.”
She swallows hard, staring up at Chakotay.
“That isn’t good,” he mutters.
“You know that offer of help I just turned down, Commander?” Kathryn doesn’t wait for a reply. “Consider it accepted.”
“How do I look?”
Chakotay stands back, sweeping a careful eye over her from head to toe. “Pretty good,” he admits. “Maybe dial up the smug a little.”
Kathryn slinks toward him, hips swaying, trailing a finger downward along the lowered line of her jacket zipper, watching Chakotay’s eyes widen and his adam’s apple bob.
“Much better,” he manages as she stops directly in front of him.
She allows herself a small quirk of the lips. “That’s good, Commander, because our lives depend on my ability to pull this off. Ready?”
He clears his throat. “Ready.”
Kash nods, straightening his shoulders. “The stimulant did the trick.”
“Chakotay, the forcefield?”
He indicates the Jeffries tube hatch cover lying on the floor. “I’ve bypassed the field emitters in this section. We’ll have about forty-five seconds before they automatically reactivate.”
“Good work.” She turns to Kash. “Wait for our signal.”
“Let’s go, Commander,” she says.
Ducking through the open hatchway, Kathryn and Chakotay begin their long and silent crawl through the Jeffries tubes.
Chakotay picks up a tricorder in section 47 and sets it to continuous scan, simultaneously scattering his and Kathryn’s lifesigns. “Thoron particles?” Kathryn whispers, amused.
He shrugs. “Old Maquis trick.”
“Very old. Wouldn’t have fooled me.”
His eyes crinkle at the corners. “Good thing you’re not the one I’m trying to fool.”
She bites her lip against her smile and the warmth blooming in her belly. We don’t have time for this, she scolds herself. “Let’s hope Captain Janeway suffers from a surfeit of overconfidence, then,” she mutters. “Carry on, Commander.”
Their banter dwindles as they reach the access panel behind the ready room. This is when the real danger begins.
“Are you clear on the plan?” Kathryn whispers.
“Let’s do it, Commander.”
He wrenches the panel off and dives through the hatch, rolling to his feet just behind Janeway’s desk. The captain leaps to her feet and immediately slaps her combadge, but it’s too late: Chakotay’s big hand clamps over her mouth, cutting off her call for help. His other arm clinches tight around her waist from behind and he wraps one leg around both of hers, immobilising her.
“Now,” he hisses to Kathryn, and she steps up nimbly to empty the hypospray full of sedative into Janeway’s neck.
The captain slumps immediately, head lolling.
“She’s out,” Chakotay says, swinging her into his arms.
Kathryn plucks the combadge from the captain’s chest, affixing it quickly to her own as she gives the other woman’s appearance a once-over.
“She had her hair lengthened,” Chakotay notes, indicating the tresses draped over his arm.
“Lucky,” mutters Kathryn, running a hand through her own long hair, then bends over the desk console to tap into the internal transporters. “Better put her down for this – I need a clean lock.”
Chakotay lays the captain on the deck – carefully, Kathryn notices – smooths her tumbled hair and steps back.
“Energising,” Kathryn murmurs, and the captain’s figure shimmers and disappears.
A soft beep informs her that the transport is complete. She erases the log and straightens up, taking in a deep, steadying breath.
The captain and first officer stride out of her ready room and onto the bridge of the ISS Voyager, taking their seats.
“Report, Mr Tuvok?” demands the captain, calmly crossing her legs.
Tuvok’s eyebrows are high. “Captain, I was unaware that Commander Chakotay had returned to duty.”
The captain turns slightly in her seat, staring coldly at her security chief. “Yes, Mr Tuvok, there seem to be quite a few things you’ve been unaware of recently.”
She rises, striding slowly from the centre level around to her right, one gloved hand tracing along the railing as she climbs the broad staircase to Tuvok’s station. Her voice is low as she addresses him, but the bridge is so quiet that nobody fails to hear her.
“Mr Tuvok,” she drawls, “I’ve grown tired of your presumption. You seem to believe that you hold a position of privilege on this vessel.”
The Vulcan stands stiffly. “I apologise, Captain.”
“Yes,” she answers, “as well you should. Now, report.”
He straightens even further. “The brig has been prepared as you requested, Captain.”
Tuvok’s eyes flicker. “Shall I escort Commander Chakotay there?”
The captain smiles coolly at him. “There’s no need for that.”
“May I ask why?”
The smile disappears. “Because the commander and I have settled our differences, and I’m satisfied that my suspicions of him were unfounded. Besides,” she turns away, strolling casually back to take her seat, “he very gallantly disposed of my pesky doppelganger for me.”
“Disposed of her?” Tuvok steps away from his station and descends to the command level. “Captain, I don’t understand –”
Immediately Chakotay is on his feet, shouldering Tuvok away from the captain. “Remember your place, Vulcan,” he growls.
“My place is at my captain’s side.”
“Oh,” says the captain, voice creamy with satisfaction, “not anymore, Tuvok. You’ve failed me too many times. You’ve questioned my orders. And now you’ve deserted your station,” she sighs. “I’m afraid that’s the last straw. Mr Ayala,” she calls. “Take him to the brig.”
“Captain,” Tuvok tries. He narrows his eyes, focusing on her.
The captain’s eyes glaze momentarily and her gloved hands grip the arms of her chair, but she grits her teeth, shaking her head to clear it.
“Get out of my head,” she grinds out. “You’re no longer welcome.”
Security officers appear either side of Tuvok, clamping their hands on his upper arms and leading him away. Only when the turbolift doors have closed behind them does Chakotay return to his chair.
“Are you all right?” he whispers, leaning over to his right.
Kathryn nods, swallowing against the subsiding nausea. “He tried to probe me. I think he suspects.”
“We’ll deal with that later,” he assures her. “But for now …”
He straightens up.
“Course and heading, Captain?”
Kathryn Janeway raises her voice. “Helm, inform the fleet to set a course for the Alpha quadrant. Warp six.”
She pauses, relishing the order.