See parts 1 & 2 for info
See parts 1 & 2 for info
IMPORTANT WARNING: This part is NC-17 it is much darker than my previous entries, so please be aware that there are descriptions of child abuse, torture, murder, and threats of sexual violence. There is also a Janeway/Justin Tighe relationship depicted.
Tom opened his eyes slowly and smiled when he saw B’Elanna’s worried face looking down on him. His voice was low and raspy. “Hey.”
“Hey.” B’Elanna smiled softly in return. She quickly felt uncomfortable with the display of intimacy with the others in the sickbay so close. She stood from the chair she had been occupying waiting for Tom to regain consciousness and moved away from the bed.
“What’s going on? The captain? Is she…?” Tom couldn’t finish the rest of his question when B’Elanna turned away from him with tears in her eyes. “No. I don’t believe it.”
Tom tried to bolt from the bed, but was restrained by B’Elanna’s hand on his chest.
“She’s not dead.” B’Elanna motioned towards the cordoned off portion of the Enterprise’s sickbay. “But she’s not good.”
Tom grasped B’Elanna’s wrist and gently removed her hand from his chest so he could stand. B’Elanna assisted in getting him to his feet and gaining his equilibrium.
“Thanks.” Tom smiled before he moved out of B’Elanna’s hold to go to Janeway. He missed the conflicted look that passed across B’Elanna’s features.
“No problem.” B’Elanna concealed her relief that Tom seemed fully recovered as she followed him to the other side of the sterilely lit sickbay to where the rest of the Voyager team and some of the Enterprise’s personnel were keeping watch over Janeway.
“What’s wrong with her?” Tom’s eyes were fixed upon Janeway’s motionless form.
Kathryn Janeway was in a seemingly comatose state with small circular monitors place on her naked upper chest. Even through the light gray sheet that covered her petite form he could see her body glowing ever so faintly. Her long chestnut colored hair settled in thick waves across the stark white pillows and her elegant features seemed troubled. Tom was reminded of the old fairytale “Sleeping Beauty” his sisters had used to love so much.
Doctor Zimmerman sighed in frustrated next to Tom as he looked up from his PADD to Janeway’s prone form. “We don’t know.”
Tom looked sharply at the doctor. A sympathetic, but tired visage faced him, which caused a coldness to rush through his body. Tom nodded absently as he turned his eyes back to Janeway. He knew if the doctor didn’t know what was wrong with someone it was pretty serious and he had a right to worry. He had already known something was wrong. The way Janeway had tried to forcefully extract his energy was nothing like the woman he had grown to admire so much.
“I’ve healed her external injuries.” Zimmerman’s eyes covertly moved to Kes who had a hand on the transparent aluminum partition that separated Janeway from the rest of the world. “We’ve called Professor Picard to assist us in the possible mental injuries she could have suffered. He should be here within the hour with the rest of the Mentals. Until then we just have to wait.”
Zimmerman had asked Kes to assist Picard, but she had vehemently refused saying she had done enough damage already. The doctor wished he had some words of comfort he could extend to Kes, but he didn’t. What she had done was necessary. Janeway had obviously not been herself and her powers were too extreme and dangerous to be allowed free reign. Kes had performed her duties as an UFM member and as a protégé of Kathryn Janeway, but that didn’t help in relieving the guilt she was now shouldered with. Only perhaps the headmistress awake and intact could do that.
“We have another problem.” Chakotay looked harried, but in control of his emotions as per the usual as he turned his narrowed dark eyes from Janeway to Tom. “Annika is not who we thought she was.”
“Who the hell is she then?” Tom felt instantly aggressive. If Annika had done anything to purposefully hurt Janeway he knew no one would be able to stop him from hurting her back, with interest.
“But…” Tom looked from Chakotay to B’Elanna who merely shrugged noncommittally. “She’s dead.”
“Not so much.” Harry looked freshly scrubbed and as wide-eyed as he usually did. It reassured Tom in some odd way. Perhaps because Harry always seemed to be a barometer for how badly things were going. The inevitable whipping boy in any dangerous situation they found themselves in. “It’s weird.”
“You don’t say.” Tom smirked, his voice sardonic. “So let’s see if I’m all caught up. The captain is in some kind of energy overload induced coma. Annika’s not really Annika but Regina McQueen who, by the way, is supposed to be pretty damned dead. And no one really knows anything about anything and no one has a clue as to what the hell we do next.”
“Yeah, that’s about right.” Harry had a repentant look to his boyish features. “Not exactly the place we want to be, I know.”
Tom sighed as he wholeheartedly agreed. He turned back to where Janeway laid surrounded by monitoring equipment and an invisible dampening field that kept her energy emissions to a minimum. “Where’s Ann—Regina now?”
“The brig.” It was clear from Chakotay’s tone that was where she would be staying for the foreseeable future if he had a say in the matter.
“Well, why doesn’t Tuvok do his melding thing or Kes get into her mind or something?” Tom looked at the two mentals who he thought should have already attempted both.
“Regina isn’t exactly in Annika’s mind.” The doctor motioned for Tom to look at the medical monitor. Tom complied and what he saw, which were millions of gray squares of technology attaching to red blood cells, he didn’t entirely understand. He still didn’t even after the first two times Zimmerman explained that Regina had introduced an army of microscopic robotic devices into Annika’s body which eventually took over her functions.
Exasperated the doctor thought perhaps hand puppets might be in order soon. “Suffice to say Regina’s in control of Annika’s body and we can’t find a way to exorcise her, yet.”
“Huh.” Tom leaned closer to monitor to observe the tiny machines that were allowing Regina’s control. “What’s the status on the ground?”
“UN forces arrived about forty-five minutes ago to relieve the UFM of their prisoners. It’s pretty chaotic, but the President is back in the area and her teams are working on reestablishing law and order.” Harry smiled faintly even as his dark worried eyes were riveted to Janeway. “With the UFM team’s help. This might be the first major step towards the US signing the treaty.”
“Great. All it took was a coup d’état and the complete destruction of our country’s capital.” Tom didn’t add that it could have cost them their leader as well. The thought was too painful to contemplate. He had to look away from Janeway as he addressed Chakotay. “I need to be doing something.”
Chakotay understood Tom’s need as matching his own, but the reality was that there wasn’t much they could do. None of them had the capabilities to assist Janeway. Chakotay had never cared for Tom, never liked the close relationship Kathryn had with the roughish man. But he saw nothing of the usual cockiness and irritating egotism he associated with Tom Paris. Instead he saw genuine pain and fear in Tom’s light blue eyes.
“Go to the ground. Bashir’s the point man.” Chakotay looked past Tom to Harry and B’Elanna. “You two go too. There’s nothing we can do up here. The captain would want us to be helping out as much as we can, not standing idly next to her bedside. Tuvok, tell us the instant if there’s any change.”
“You go too.” Kes didn’t look away from where Janeway laid prone upon the biobed as she addressed the man standing watch over her.
“Are you sure?” Neelix didn’t like the idea of leaving Kes. She seemed guilt stricken and so very vulnerable and he wanted to make it better. With a heavy heart he realized he wasn’t and perhaps couldn’t. “Call me. If you need anything.”
Kes nodded absently, which stabbed Neelix’s heart as he walked away knowing Kes and he would never be.
The doors made a hissing noise as they closed behind Chakotay, Tom, B’Elanna, Harry, and Neelix. Kes sighed as she stood from her chair and pressed her hand tighter to the clear partition. Tears that glowed violet fell from Kes’ eyes as she whispered to a woman who could not hear her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
“Kes? Where are you going?”
She ignored Zimmerman’s worried words as she rushed out of the sickbay. She silently thanked Tuvok for understanding her intentions and restraining the doctor from following her. Kes brushed the moisture from her face, her eyes glowing brightly as she moved down the corridors of the UFM ship. She blocked out all the thoughts that sounded in her mind as she concentrated on just one. Regina.
The hulking man who possessed twice the strength of even the mighty B’Elanna Torres fell heavily to the deck shortly after Kes had entered the brig. Brute force was nothing compared to a psionic blast. Kes stepped over Worf’s unconscious form as she moved in front of the energy barrier that kept Regina from the rest of the world.
The field that not only prevented Regina’s escape but also her use of the powers that the body she inhabited possessed dropped before her. She instantly called up the metal exoskeleton that formed fluidly around her.
“You are to be my executioner?” Regina smirked mockingly, obviously unimpressed despite the efficient way in which Kes had dispatched Worf.
“No.” Kes’ eyes could not contain the psionic energy she harnessed; violet energy crackled forth not just from her gaze but from her hands as well. “Merely the exorcist.”
“I am not simply possessing her body.” Regina dropped her sardonic tone. She became almost reverent in speaking of the woman whose body she had completely taken control of. “I have assimilated her. Become one with her. Every cell in her body is mine.”
“You will release her.” Kes whole body began to emanate a violet glow that was becoming more volatile as her ire grew. “Or I will rip you apart.”
“If you kill me you’ll be killing Annika. She and I are one. Will you be the one to kill the woman Kathryn Janeway loves?” If Regina’s entreating voice was meant to distract Kes it didn’t succeed. The silver metal spike she had launched from her arm at Kes was easily repulsed by a psionically created force field that glowed purple before it dissipated.
“My turn.” Kes mentally held Regina’s body in place as she drove a psionic stake through the other woman’s metal chest. The raw psychic energy instantly short-circuited Regina’s nervous system and dropped the woman to the deck.
Kes crossed her legs as she seated herself next to Regina. Her eyes closed as she placed her hands on either side of the unconscious woman’s metal encased head. Kes forcefully ignored the humming of thoughts permeating her environment and concentrated solely on the woman lying before her. The tips of her fingers glowed a dark purple as she plunged psionically manifested spike-like nails into Regina’s head. Kes inhaled deeply before she thrust herself fully into Regina’s psyche.
When Kes opened her eyes she found herself in a beige living room with the light of the television set cast shadows upon the couch and its occupants. A small strawberry blonde hair girl was curled up next to her gray-haired father. Both watched in rapt attention as a space battled ensued before them.
“I want to be a starship captain someday.” The ten-year-old Regina McQueen smiled up at her adored father with certainty in her voice.
“You can be whatever you want to be, Reggie-bear.” A gentle, but roughly callused hand stroked the top of his daughter’s head as he smiled indulgently.
Three years later that same hand was causing purple bruises and bloody cuts to erupt across Regina’s body. The fact that their daughter was a dirty, sinful mutant caused a hatred and disgust within Donald and Beth McQueen that even they would never have thought possible. Donald eventually grew tired and turned to the half drank bottle of whiskey, which allowed his wife to take over the daily punishment their daughter had been receiving for the past two months, ever since her powers had manifested.
Kes felt sick to her stomach as she felt for Regina and for her own experience with cruelty and abuse though hers was dealt out by strangers not her family. She watched as Donald slumped on the couch near unconsciousness with the almost empty bottle held loosely in one hand. It struck Kes like a punch to the stomach that Regina’s mother, excluding the rather menacing and horrible look she projected while holding a small black handled knife in one hand, possessed features not entirely unlike Kathryn Janeway’s. She pushed aside this memory before she had to witness the knife touching Regina’s vulnerable flesh.
The next memory made Kes feel oddly vindicated though guilty because of it. Six months after the last memory she stood invisible next to Regina, who was stoically silent, as her parents were being wheeled out onto gurneys from the smoldering remains of their two-story home.
“I’m with Child Protection Services. Who’s in charge here?”
Kes felt oddly amused as she watched Lwaxana Troi and Lyndsay Ballard convincing the local police to hand over custody of Regina McQueen to them. Lwaxana explained that Regina had been at school when the fire had broken out so she had witnessed nothing. The woman went on to state that it was plausible that the pilot light to the oven had gone out, which let out a little bit of gas that could have filled the house for days and that the refrigerator’s compressor could have clicked on resulting in the devastating and deadly fire. Lwaxana was very persuasive and so within a few minutes she had Regina in her guardianship.
“It was an accident.” Regina nearly smiled at her falsehood.
“No. I’m sure it wasn’t.”
Kes pushed forward again. She found herself in the office now occupied by Janeway, but presently used by Lwaxana. She was speaking in proud tones to Regina. “You’re making excellent progress. As your counselor I recommended that you be allowed out of your confinement and be integrated into the rest of the school population fully.”
“Thank you.” Regina’s smile seemed forced, but it was only due to lack of practice. Being confined to the campus for two years with only Lwaxana and the other Voyager students and staff as company hadn’t elicited much more than indifference. “I want to be a good student. To learn how to use my powers responsibly so that someday I can help others.”
“It’ll take time, Regina, hard work and determination. But I’m certain you’ll do great things.” Any other words of encouragement were cut off when her door chime rang. “Come in.”
“Lwaxana, we have to go.” Lyndsay Ballard smiled tentatively at Regina. Truth be told the teenager freaked her out. She focused her eyes instead on Lwaxana, her voice urgent. “A little girl in Connecticut survived a plane crash without a scratch on her. Her aunt just called and requested out assistance.”
“I’ll meet you in the hanger in fifteen minutes.” Lwaxana watched the door slide close behind Lyndsay before she rose from her desk. “You’ve come a long way in the last two years, Regina. I have ever confidence in you. Now, I must be going. Doctor Pulaski is expecting you in sickbay for your physical”
Kes wasn’t receiving anything helpful in these old memories so she pushed forward seven years to a particularly volatile remembrance. She actually felt herself blush as she took in the passionate scene before her.
“Regina, please stop. Stop!” An eighteen-year-old Kathryn Janeway removed Regina’s hand from her bare thigh as she pulled the hem of her skirt down to regain some semblance of modesty. “I don’t think we should.”
“I want you.” Regina grasped Kathryn’s wrists and brought the elegant hands to her mouth to deposit moist kisses along pale knuckles and palms. “Don’t you want me?”
“I-I don’t know. This is all really fast.” Kathryn tried to disengage her wrists from Regina’s wrists but it was to no avail. “Please, let me go.”
“I’ve wanted you for so long, Kat. It hurts me sometimes.” Regina didn’t let go as instructed; instead she brought Janeway’s hands down to her upper chest. “Do you feel how much I love you?”
“I love you too. You know that. I just—” Kathryn blushed hotly as she cast her eyes down to her dark blue comforter instead of the eyes that seem to bore into her. “I don’t know if this is right. I’m scared—.”
“Don’t be. It’s just me. You know me.” Regina smiled triumphantly as she managed to slowly lower Janeway to the soft mattress. “Just let me have you.”
Regina used one hand to clasp Kathryn’s wrists and to hold her arms to the bed as she brushed her other hand slowly across smooth skin as she pushed the fabric of the other woman’s skirt up inch by inch to reveal more pale beautiful flesh, while she deposited warm kisses along Kathryn’s neck.
“Stop. Regina, please stop.” Kathryn tried to break Regina’s hold on her wrists and to push the woman off of her but couldn’t manage to do either. “I said STOP!”
The energy blast wasn’t terribly strong, but it accomplished what Kathryn had wanted. Regina was now on the floor near the door and Kathryn was removing herself from the bed and straightening her dress with shaky hands.
“You’re a goddamned tease, you know that?” Regina got to her feet quickly her anger at being rebuffed obvious from her flushed features. “Who else besides me and that idiot Hobbes do you put on, huh? Probably all the other students too like that perv Riker. Maybe some of the teachers too. Probably why you’re always staying after class.”
Hot tears pricked at Kathryn’s eyes but she would not allow them to fall. “Regina, I’m sorry I can’t… give you what you want. But I don’t deserve such ugly words and accusations. Hobbes doesn’t deserve it either. Neither do any of the others. I know you’re mad and you’ll regret your words later, so right now I’m just going to let you cool off and go to my room.”
Kathryn’s heart seemed to skip a beat when Regina grabbed her arms and pushed her against the wall with enough force that some of the air was knocked out of her. Regina’s lips were close to Kathryn’s ear and her warm breath wafted across sensitive skin.
“You’re mine, Kathryn. I’m supposed to have you.”
“And that’s why you never will.” Kathryn’s voice was cold and unforgiving. “Now let me go or I’ll make you.”
Reluctantly Regina let her hands drop to her side and watched Kathryn walk to the door before the woman she wanted more than anything in the world turned cold dark gray eyes towards her. “I do love you, Regina. You’re my best friend. I’m just scared you don’t realize that loving someone doesn’t mean you possess them. I—I’ll see you tomorrow. Okay?”
“Kathryn, I’m sorry.” Regina’s quick temper had gotten her into plenty of trouble over the years, but never had she truly felt guilty about lashing out at someone before this moment. “Please. Don’t go. I didn’t mean what I said. Just stay. I won’t try anything I promise.”
Regina stood rooted to the spot even minutes after her dorm room door had closed behind Janeway. Once she realized the other woman was not coming back she bellowed a curse loudly and threw the closet thing she could put her hands on against the wall above her bed. The rumpled sheets were strewn with glass shards.
Uncaring of the small pieces of glass embedded in the fabric of her pants, Regina sat on the bed and retrieved the picture that had so recently been safely housed inside a glass frame. It was a picture of just her and Kathryn in their black matching combat outfits and both had warm, but subdued smiles on their lips. Regina brushed a finger over Kathryn’s smiling visage.
“You will be mine, Kathryn. I was meant to have you.”
Kes moved past the memory when Regina began to cut herself with a shard of glass and drops of blood fell upon the photograph on her lap. The next memory rushed into her without warning and Kes was nearly propelled out of Regina’s mind by the extreme pain present. Nothing was clear in this memory except for vague visions of green liquid and Crell Moset’s craggy visage telling Regina the acceleration process was nearly complete.
“She’s making excellent progress.”
Regina nodded her head in agreement to Kellin’s assessment of how well Annika had integrated herself into the Voyager team. Kellin Ramuran’s ability to alter, falsify, and erase memories had been crucial in Annika’s development.
“Contact Hayes.” Regina turned to address Kashyk. “Tell him he may proceed.”
Kes knew she was getting closer to the memory she sought out that would hopefully help her in understanding Janeway’s condition. She heard Regina whisper “magnificent” a moment after it became clear to perhaps no one else but Kes what had transpired. She needed to speak with Picard, now. Kes fled Regina’s mind and was brought back into the gray confines of the Enterprise’s brig.
“Who was she before you used Kellin to instill her with your own memories, personality traits… preferences?” Kes stood stoic and unyielding as she watched with dark violet eyes as Regina slowly rose from the deck.
“That’s irrelevant.” Regina’s voice was highly pitched as she struggled to keep the bile from rising in her throat from the mental attack she had just received. “I gave Annika Hansen new life.”
“You did more than that. You gave her part of your soul. Those pieces are missing in who you are now.” Kes almost pitied the woman before her. “I think you realized that Kellin didn’t just copy your memories, she transferred them completely. Why would you allow that?”
“I wanted to be something good.” Regina looked away as she whispered her response. “Someone Kathryn could love.”
“Well, you succeeded.” Kes smiled ruefully as she moved outside of the brig before mentally erecting the force field that confined Regina. “But when Kathryn looks at you now she sees only what is missing. The better you that Annika had been crafted to be. She no longer sees the woman she fell in love with, she sees the monster that stole her body. But I’ll give her back Annika, even if I have to rip you apart to do it.”
The chirp from her communicator stayed Kes’ hand and her mind. The Defiant had just docked with the Enterprise. Picard was now here and he had a lot to answer for and Kes intended to retrieve those answers herself.
“Should you grow weary, you should sleep.” Kes’ eyes glowed purple as she forced Regina to fall unconscious on to the deck. As she made her way out of the brig she pushed Worf awake, who was none the wiser as he continued his watch over their loan prisoner.
Picard. What have you done?
Merely saved the world, Kes, twice now. Who else is aware of what I’ve done?
No one. But you must fix it.
She’s stronger now, I’m not certain I can. I will need your help.
The bulkheads around Kes bent and twisted as she passed. Her anger at Picard was immense because she knew he was right. She would have to assist him. She would have to willfully violate Janeway’s mind as he had done so many years ago.
Tell the others to leave sickbay. I’m coming to assist. They cannot be privy to this.
When Kes entered the sickbay she wasn’t surprised that Picard had carried out her command quickly and successfully. The man who had been her mentor, her guide and steady rock through the most painful times of her life, now disgusted her.
“Why? Why did you do it?” Kes’ usually warm melodic tones were cold and harsh, her eyes flared with psychic energy and anger. “You willfully violated her mind.”
“I did it.” Picard’s voice was even, steady and without remorse. “Because she asked me to.”
“Kathryn.” Picard stood in greeting smiling gently as he motioned to one of the chairs in front of his desk. “Please, have a seat.”
“Thank you.” Janeway gracefully lowered herself to the chair cushion as Picard retook his own. She sat very straight, willing herself not to show any sign of hesitation or nervousness. Picard couldn’t readily read her thoughts so she had only her own physicality to worry about.
Janeway’s eyes, Picard noticed, were a stormy gray and though she did smile in return it couldn’t penetrate through the sadness he could easily detect in those gray depths. “I am terribly sorry for your loss, Kathryn. Justin was a great man.”
“Yes. He was.” Janeway’s hands, which were clasped in front of her upon Picard’s desk, glowed ever so slightly. Before he could be certain of what he had just seen she brought her hands to the top of her knees away from his gaze. “I appreciate your words. But that’s not why I’m here.”
“Oh?” Picard poured the woman before him a cup of the dark bitter brew she preferred. His interest was piqued.
Rarely did this woman ever seek out assistance from anyone. In fact he couldn’t quite remember the last time he had even spoken with her despite them being in the same country for the last five years. She had disassociated herself from the UFM and instead concentrated on being a scientist, a world-renowned geneticist. Justin, her fiancé, had been her only link to the UFM as far as Picard knew.
Justin Tighe had been in charge of the British branch of the UFM Rangers, a group who carried out more covert and dangerous operations. The Rangers would sometimes contact Picard to lend manpower or technology for his team. He knew Tighe carried out his missions efficiently, but was seen as a weapon by many of the UFM chairs rather than a member. Tighe had always seemed a dark, broody man who had a distinct distrust for all those around him even when allied with them. Picard himself thought he was somewhat of an anti-social and depressing sort of fellow. It had come as a great shock for many people and a source of gossip within the UFM when it had been announced that Tighe was engaged to Kathryn Janeway.
Picard had been one of those surprised, but he tended to stay away from gossip of any sort. Of course he had heard things; tales of Janeway being an even more covert agent than her future husband that not even the higher ups in the UFM knew of her activities. Picard had doubted those rumors until now.
It was a mere two days ago that Picard had heard Justin had been killed in the line of duty by none other than Gul Camet who was perhaps the most dangerous enemy to the UFM because he was so successful in kidnapping, torturing, and killing metahumans. After the Tau Ceti Prime incident that had resulted in Tighe’s death and the destruction of a cold-fusion plant off the coast of Antarctica the Rangers had reported little as to what had occurred. It was their prerogative as secret agents not to have to. Picard marveled that no one else had been killed except for Camet, his men and of course Justin Tighe. Picard somehow knew that he had the woman before him to thank for containing the energy blast from the cold-fusion plant that would have surely taken out the highly populated man-made colonies within Antarctica.
“If I may ask, why are you here?”
“I need you to place mental blocks in my mind.” Janeway stood and surprised Picard thoroughly by opening her blouse. “This will allow you to do it.”
It wasn’t the exposed pale, lightly freckled skin and the top of a black lace bra that took Picard aback it was the fact that she had one of Camet’s power dampeners embedded in her upper chest. The skin around the thin metal device was dark red with angry looking veins projecting from the point of entry. It looked highly painful.
“My God, Kathryn, why would you subject yourself to that monstrous thing?”
“The pain, the lack of full use of my powers keeps me in check.” Janeway seated herself again, calmly, even though her fingers were trembling as she buttoned her blouse. “I’m hungry. All of the time. I can see the heat coming off of your body. Taste the psionic energy housed inside of you. And I want it. I feel that I need it. Camet, his men, they didn’t cause the destruction of the cold-fusion plant. I did. I was injured, in pain. They had killed Justin. I could no longer feel his energy. I felt empty. The energy in the plant’s core called out to a part of me I didn’t have enough strength to fight, so it fed. But it couldn’t be satiated. I absorbed all the energy I could. All the energy I could find. I killed all of those men. Their very synapses fed me. I almost killed the Rangers as well, but they had Kira with them. She cancelled out my powers before I could feed off of them as well.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Picard had seen plenty in his day, but this was something completely different. He didn’t entirely understand what he was hearing. “Are you saying you have some sort of… split personality?”
“No. No, not exactly. It’s more that I get addicted to the power, the need for it, to the point where all I can think of is obtaining more. No matter the cost to others.”
“I had no idea.” Picard wondered, for being one of the world’s greatest telepaths, how much he didn’t know. “I’m sorry but what you are asking me to do is a very clear violation of your mind. Something I would never do on general principle. Everything you are, every thought no matter how small will be exposed to me. This isn’t merely creating barriers to your powers, but an imprisonment of a part of who you are. Kathryn, I want to help you, but I can’t manipulate your mind in such an extreme way.”
“You must.” Janeway’s eyes began to glow white hot, no color could be found, though her voice was even as she rose from her chair. “One day I won’t be able to control my hunger and the sun itself will nourish me. And when that day comes those who have not already been killed will stand against me and they will fail. The sky will turn black and the Earth will perish.”
“You have a pretty high standing for yourself, I must say.” Picard ignored the certainty in her words and the chill that had run down his spine at such a bleak prognosis to her condition.
“T’Pol had this vision. She told me to come to you to prevent this future from occurring.” Janeway’s eyes became stormy gray again as she forced herself to remain calm and seat herself again. “It’s not Kes who you should be worrying yourself about. She will not be the destroyer of this world. She will be kind and gentle with your help. I’m the theoretical level ten metahuman T’Pol has been warning us about. She could not see my face until the Tau Ceti incident and now she knows it to be me. And she tells me you will assist in never letting that future come to pass. You must do this now. I cannot tell you how hard it is not to devour you entirely. Your energy is so great. It would nourish me for a long, long time.”
Picard watched with horrified fascination as Janeway’s elegant features twisted into an expression that one could classify only as lust. He felt his mental energy begin seeping out of him and her smile grew wider the wearier he became.
Picard’s mental bolt knocked Janeway out of her chair even as she began to laugh. She rose to her feet gracefully as she wiped the blood away from the corner of her mouth. She grinned hungrily at Picard as she touched her fingers to the device that was glowing red underneath her blouse. It was trying to counteract the energy emanating from Janeway form and failing miserably. She rose in the air with gold and orange flames encircling her and her sedate business suit became tattering under such enormous heat and energy.
He didn’t often implement his cyber kinesis, but in this instance he made an exception. He instilled Camet’s device with more power and it quickly resulted in a pained scream from Janeway as her flames extinguished and she fell towards the carpeted floor. She didn’t land harshly for Picard had her suspended inches from the ground. He moved her to the large couch on the other side of his office and laid her down as gently as he could. She was calm in her unconsciousness and Picard couldn’t help but be affected by how fragile she appeared.
“Kathryn, you poor soul.” Picard brought a chair from his desk so he could sit behind the unconscious woman whose eyes fluttered when he placed his fingers upon her temples and linked their minds. “Forgive me.”
Picard was brought back to the present, within the Enterprise’s sickbay, by Kes’ hand on his wrist extracting his fingers from her forehead and his memories from her mind.
“She asked me to, but by the time I relented she was unwilling. It was traumatic and painful for her.” Picard remembered all too well how Janeway had screamed and fought against his invasion of her mind. As if to make up for it he had done something he wondered if it had been right in retrospect. “She doesn’t remember it.”
Picard nodded unnecessarily since it hadn’t been voiced as a question so much as an accusation. “We all did what we thought was best.”
“You let me believe I was—why didn’t you tell me?” Kes’ years of fear that she would turn into a monster had prevented her from ever getting close or letting her guard down and now she was being informed that she hadn’t needed to fear what darkness was within her.
“T’Pol’s premonitions are rarely clean cut, Kes. You needed to chart your own course. And you did. And now, even with those barriers I had erected gone you are in complete control of your abilities.” Picard wanted to reach out, physically, to the woman who had been like a daughter to him but he didn’t need to be a telepath to now that such comfort was not wanted.
“What do we do now?” Kes peered in through the transparent aluminum to the prone woman held within. Kes wondered what was going on beneath the fluttering eyelids. She hoped they were good dreams, but from the consternation on Janeway’s features she knew they were not. “Violate her mind. Rip her psyche a part. And then erase what we did?”
“Kes.” Picard couldn’t apologize with any sort of honesty. He had done what he had to, what Janeway had asked him to do, and he would have done the same thing even knowing all he knew now. He was about to do the same thing. “What would she want us to do?”
Again memories from the first night she was at the Voyager Institute came back to Kes.
“If-if I were to lose control, I want you to… I want you to kill me.”
“Kes, I’m confident that one day you’ll have full command over your mind’s abilities.”
“Yes, hopefully that day will come, but if it doesn’t and I do become a threat, you must kill me.”
“Kes, if that day were to come; where there would be no other option but to kill you to save you from yourself and to protect others… Yes, I would kill you, without hesitation. And if that day were to ever come for me… I’d expect nothing less from you either.”
“I promise. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you.”
“She would want us to kill her.” Kes inputted the code to allow her and Picard entry into the quarantined area. “But we don’t always get what we want, do we? Your barriers were too weak. They broke down over time and ultimately failed. You will erect new ones and I will reinforce them. You know where they are needed so you will assist me.”
“All right.” Picard closed the sickbay off to the rest of world as he moved towards the biobed that contained Janeway. “We go when she was at her most uncontrolled. We will start with Tau Ceti Prime.”
Kes nodded as she took in deep calming breaths and closed her eyes. She placed her fingertips on her right hand to Janeway’s forehead. Her other hand held one of Picard’s while his left hand mimicked her right’s.
Violet colored energy flowed in waves off of Kes intercepting and mingling with the ice blue light projecting off of Picard. Their eyes went white as they entered Janeway’s mind. Back to the point where Janeway could no longer control the hunger she kept buried deep within her. The hunger that could consume the world.
Within the mental plane of Kathryn Janeway’s mind stood Kes and Jean-Luc Picard as phantoms, witnesses to the anguish of a woman they both respected and perhaps loved more than either of them realized or would like to. Kes tightened her hold on Picard’s hand as the horrific sound of a leather whip striking vulnerable flesh sounded in the small, stone-walled room that was Justin Tighe and Janeway’s cell.
“Again!” Gul Camet’s cruel voice echoed off the grimy walls and there was no mistaking the pleasure he was receiving from the pain inflicted upon his order. His grin grew wider when the leather struck again and caused the small, weak woman to scream out in pain. Heat moved through his body at the thought of what other noises he would elicit from her. He figured she would grunt and moan like a whore beneath him. “Again.”
“You fucking bastard! I’m going to rip your head off!” Tighe pulled against the restraints that held him to the floor as he tried to create enough of an energy field to release him from his bonds. His attempts only resulted in him yelling out in pain as the feedback surge burned his body from the inside out. He spat thick, dark blood onto the fifthly floor and tried to look at the woman he loved with every fiber of his being. Tighe tried to convey that love through his eyes. He sought out her dark gray eyes to see if she understood his love for her. And the pain he felt that he couldn’t protect her like he had promised during their first night together.
With no little effort Janeway lifted her sweat and blood drenched features so that she could bestow upon Justin a smile that conveyed her own love, her forgiveness, and her certainty that somehow they would make it out of here. She knew from the blood that still escaped between his lips that the probability of their escaping this place alive was fading fast.
Janeway saw stars and her shoulder jerked out of alignment when Camet’s fist caused blood and pain to explode across her right cheek. She gasped in pain when he jerked her upright by pulling harshly on her hair. No noise could escape her when he held her a few inches off the floor with a hand around her neck before he threw her to the ground. Janeway heard something break and she wondered if it was her neck. She heard Justin’s voice, loud and unforgiving, coming from somewhere far away. She struggled and finally won her consciousness and wondered immediately why she had even tried.
Justin’s flesh that was exposed through the tattered suit he had worn with such elegance earlier in the evening to celebrate his birthday was a bright and angry red color with splotches of ashen black. What worried her most was the way his eyes had darkened to pits of obsidian and blood seeped out of his ears.
“NO!” Janeway was not going to let Justin die in this horrible place. Despite the broken bones, the lacerations on her back, the bruises, and the pain from the power inhibitor imbedded in her chest she was not going to let the man she loved die. She tried to call up her energy reserves and found herself wanting. She tried to absorb the ambient energy around her, from even the body heat emitted by the men in the room, but it only resulted in a nearly debilitating pain to permeate her entire body. As blood fell from her mouth in a pool on the stone floor she knew she had failed. At least, she reasoned, they would die together.
The cold water dumped onto her caused her to gasp for breath and to become alert painfully fast. Water mixed with blood sputtered from her mouth as was pushed onto her mutilated back. She cried out when her broken ribs and leg collided into the hard stone.
“Restrain her to the ground.” Camet retrieved a surgical knife from his tray of his favorite torture devices. He held the knife up for inspection while his trio of men did as they were told. They knew not to play with their toy yet, but he smiled at their looks of eagerness. His eyes took in the small battered form chained tightly to the ground with her arms restrained above her head and her legs only minutely covered by her tattered skirt. He turned his gaze to Justin who was breathing heavily with a gurgle of blood in his lungs sounding loudly with each intake of air. “Now the fun begins. What sorts of noises will she make? Please tell me she’s a screamer.”
“Kathryn. I’ve always loved you.” Justin Tighe screamed as he released the energy he built up in his system beyond what his body could possibly take. His body flashed white-hot as the heated plasma flooded the room and incinerated everything and everyone in its path. Everyone except the woman he had just given his life for.
“Justin!” Janeway ignored her pain as she clamored to Justin’s side. She already knew he was dead but she still called to him, pleaded for him to just open his eyes. Through her tears she could barely make out his face and charred body, but she held him tightly to her naked chest. She rocked him slowly in her lap as she was racked with painful sobs of loss and uncontrollable fury.
Through the haze of anguish she felt something calling out to her. Something on the arctic surface. The cold-fusion generator coaxed her with its promise of strength, of power. Gently she lowered Justin to the floor. Her body coated in his blood she created a hole in the rocky ceiling of the cell. She used the energy Justin’s final act had given her and flew towards the source of the enticing energy.
The operators immediately heeded the fiery woman’s orders and nearly tripped over themselves in order to escape.
“Beautiful.” Janeway looked at the immense energy with deep hunger clear on her features as she reached out and touched her hands to the core.
“Warning: core breach imminent. All personnel evacuate immediately. This is not a drill. Core breach imminent.”
Janeway ignored the computer’s voice as she concentrated on opening herself completely to the expulsion of immense energy that would be occurring soon. She erected a force field around her and the core, though it was more to prevent precious energy from escaping rather than any forethought to the lives at risk.
“Warning: core breach—”
Janeway moaned aloud from the pleasure of being filled with so much energy, so quickly, and so completely. She thought of how it felt when her energy would mingle with Justin’s during their love making and she pictured his handsome face as the waves of pleasure and energy kept coming.
The building shook and crumbled around her, but she didn’t care to notice since she was safely enclosed in her force field with the energy of the core only now gradually dissipating. Janeway rose from the ruins of the plant like a great fiery wraith. The night sky was set ablaze as flames continued to burst forth from her body.
“That is what we must contain.” Picard laid a gentle, albeit completely figurative, hand on Kes’s shoulder. He knew she hated him for showing what had caused Janeway’s break, but he needed her to understand. The hunger was perhaps always a part of Janeway, though more subconscious and controllable than it was presently, and it needed to be suppressed.
“How? How did you do it last time?” Kes emotions were in turmoil. Picard was right. She did hate him, at least a little bit, for showing her Janeway’s most painful moment. It did help Kes understand how such a carefully controlled woman could lose it completely. Kes considered that was why Janeway always seemed at times almost forcefully controlled.
“I had help.”
Before Kes could ask what Picard had meant their surroundings shifted to that of a brilliantly purple-lit but barren plane where its only occupants were Kes, Picard, and the blazing from of Janeway. It was then that Janeway became aware of their presence.
Kes struggled out of Janeway’s grasp as she was being hoisted high above Picard whose mental bolts seemed only to strengthen Janeway. “You shouldn’t have come, Kes. But I can’t say I’m not pleased that you did.”
“Kathryn, stop this.” Kes tried not to panic as she felt her psychic energy being funneled into Janeway. She was struggling to merely maintain on the mental plane.
The moment before she was to hit the ground Kes righted herself and floated a few feet into the air next to Picard. She didn’t realize what had happened until Janeway, like a comet, fell to the ground with another being on top of her.
“We’re starting to weaken.” Picard had one hand to his temple as he concentrated on shoring up his powers. “Even comatose she’s draining energy from us.”
A fiery blast from the fallen Janeway propelled her assailant towards Picard and Kes who used her telekinesis to catch the woman before she could come to any more harm. Kes felt a rush of relief flood her when Kathryn Janeway, dressed in one of her headmistress-y suits, faced her with a look of complete resolve on her elegant features.
“Kes, you shouldn’t be here. Neither of you should.” Janeway erected a force field around the three of them to prevent the fiery blasts coming from counterpart to touch them. “I don’t think I’ll be able to contain her this time.”
“You must do more than merely contain.” Picard grasped Janeway by her shoulders as he looked pointedly at her. “It was wrong for us to try to just hide her away in the recesses of your subconscious. It was inevitable that she would reemerge.”
“What do I do?”
“Don’t fight her.” Kes smiled softly, her voice quiet despite the sound of energy colliding with energy. “She thinks this is a battle to be won. She wants to take over completely. Show her that she doesn’t. That you won’t destroy her just because she’s a part of you that you wish wasn’t. Without the darkness, how would we recognize the light? Don’t fear your negative thoughts. They’re a part of you. She’s a part of you. The part that is consumed by pain and anger. She seeks out sustenance because it allows her not to feel. Show her how feeling things deeply doesn’t mean she’s weak.”
Janeway moved out of Picard’s hold to stand, with a gentle smile, in front of Kes. She embraced Kes and allowed the other woman’s thoughts and emotions to enter her in waves of purple energy. She released Kes after she placed a soft kiss upon her forehead and smiled brightly. “I love you too. Now go.”
“Wait!” It was for naught since Kes had already been expelled from Janeway’s mind along with Picard.
“Kes, are you all right?” Picard picked Kes gently off of the floor where he had found himself as well.
“Kathryn?” Kes expelled the name on a gasp as she and Picard looked at the empty biobed then to the hole in the wall that had obviously been blasted through to allow Janeway’s escape. Kes nearly fell to her feet as the ship shook around her. “My God. What have we done?”
“Kes, wait!” Picard was too late. Kes had recovered much quicker than he did and she propelled herself out of the sickbay at an incredible speed surrounded by violet colored energy.
Kes ignored Picard’s voice and blocked her mind from his telepathy as she flew towards the brig. She felt cold anxiety fill her when she saw that the brig was empty aside from Worf, who for the second time that day, was lying unconscious on the floor with a large burn on his chest that was only now healing.
“Where are you?” Kes knew she wouldn’t be able to locate Janeway, whose mind was impervious to telepathy, but she could find Regina.
“Kes?” Harry Kim appeared in the opening in the ruined remains of the door that led to the brig. “What am I doing here?”
“I summoned you.” Kes would have to apologize to Harry later. Right now she had no time to. “I need you to open a doorway”
“Okay, sure.” Harry happily complied and only came out of his contentment long after Kes had departed and he stood wondering why he was in the brig in the first place.
The ice and snow evaporated into steam as two beings landed on the remaining ruins of a once highly profitable cold-fusion plant. Despite being completely naked, Janeway felt nothing but heat from the orange blasts of fire that burst forth from her body. The woman in her arms was encased in metal and felt only heat both from the energy coming off of Janeway but also the feeling of being in her embrace. She only felt cold when that touch was gone and it had nothing to do with the arctic environment.
“Why have you brought me to this place?” Regina looked around at her environment, which was white and barren before her eyes settled on the woman standing slightly behind her.
“To exorcise our demons.” Janeway looked at Regina, but found it difficult to not see Annika staring expectantly back at her and had to drop her gaze. “I brought us here because this is a dead zone. No concentrated sources energy within a thousand miles. It’s just you and me, Regina, just like you’ve always wanted it. Right?”
“Yes.” Regina went to touch her metallic hands to Janeway’s face, but was stopped by firm hands around her wrists. “I’ve imagined the world rid of all the humans polluting it and belonging to me, to us. And then to our child.”
“I don’t love you any more, Regina. I love Annika.” Janeway’s grip around Regina’s wrists became harsher and began to burn the metal covering vulnerable flesh. “And you stole her from me.”
“I stole nothing but what was rightfully mine.” Regina broke Janeway’s hold with anger on her features. Anger and disappointment. The damaged metal along her wrists sunk into flesh before it was released again completely healed. “You have no idea who, what Annika is. After the car accident she was brain dead, the only thing keeping her alive was a respirator until I found her. Her memories, her experiences, her very sense of self were fractured so I supplemented them. With my own. I know you still love me, Kathryn, because you love her.”
“I don’t believe you.” Kathryn felt like her blood was on fire as she tried to convince herself that Regina’s words were a lie. But a part of her knew it wasn’t. It was so easy for her to fall in love with Annika perhaps because long ago she had felt something similar growing within her regarding Regina. But it never could blossom fully with Regina, she wouldn’t allow it. Regina was too damaged, too filled with anger and hate, too dangerous for her to give her heart completely.
“Yes. I think you do.” Regina could see emotions warring within Janeway, but knew her touch was not welcomed so she kept her distance. “Why did you bring us here? I know what happened below the ground. This is where he died. Where Justin died.”
“Don’t you say his name!” Janeway’s eyes blazed with a seemingly unlimited inferno that blazed within her. “They stole him from me. Like you stole Annika from me. I want her back!”
“What are doing?” Regina felt a billion different points of her body screaming out in pain.
“I’m going to burn you out of her.” In Janeway’s mind she saw Annika smiling at her, icy blue eyes filled with love. She could almost feel her arms around her and her lips upon her own. Tears evaporated before they could escape her eyes as she continued to pour torrents of white-hot energy onto the crouched metal form before her.
“You shouldn’t be here.” Janeway could already feel her body absorbing psychic energy from Kes. Not enough to harm the other woman, but enough that Janeway had a taste. She ignored the voice that begged her to let her hunger consume her. She concentrated on picturing Annika smiling and beautiful in her mind instead. Her voice was filled with rage as she continued to pummel Regina with energy. “Give her back!”
“NEVER!” Large metal panels sprouted from Regina’s back to perform as a shield against Janeway’s wrath. With each increasing layer she could feel herself gaining the upper hand. Annika’s metal encased body was nothing if not durable. What Annika’s body could not shield Regina from was a mental attack.
Kes shut her eyes tightly as images began to enter her mind at a rapid pace. The image of a truck and then darkness. That blackness was soon replaced by green tinted liquid and voices that seemed very far away, one was Regina’s. Soon millions of images were overcoming her. Visions of being a child, of a father and mother who loved her. He liked old sci-fi shows and she enjoyed reading late into the evening. In her twenties she traveled the world after she received her PhD in computer engineering. She had many lovers but no one could fill the emptiness she felt so she moved from one woman to the next. She worked for a company until men in black and masks with guns and cruel voices abducted her. She was rescued, saved from torture and death. And then there was Kathryn. An angel with demons weighing heavily upon her shoulders. A woman, who smiled often but not openly, surrounded by people who loved her, respected her, would die for her but forever alone, frightened of getting too close. She broke through though. Her innocence, purity, her sense of doing what was right not what was easy drew Kathryn to her. Kathryn’s lips upon hers. Soft gentle hands caressing her features. She no longer felt empty.
Regina screamed in rage rather than pain, since Kes had compassionately turned off her nocicpetor as she did what she had promised hours ago in the brig of the Enterprise. She ripped Regina a part.
“My God.” Janeway could only watch, horrified as Kes drew more green viscous liquid from the writhing metal form. The screams were becoming unbearable, but she knew Kes had to be allowed to proceed.
More of the green-tinged fluid emptied onto the ice covered ground as Kes concentrated on parsing out every single microscopic nanoprobe Regina had injected into Annika’s body that had allowed her to take total control. Even with her incredible mental abilities, Kes was beginning to breathe heavily and sweat formed across her forehead from the immense exertion it took to rid Annika of Regina McQueen.
Kes fell to her hands and knees upon the cold earth though she still maintained her arduous task as Regina’s maddened screams echoed in her mind. She felt darkness begin to close around her, but fought it off with all of her might as she drew still more of the intrusive substance from Annika’s body.
The metal sheath was absorbed as Annika was finally rid of Regina and her body stilled as it fell to exhaustion. Her breathing was even as her chest rose and fell reassuringly. Kes, conversely, was breathing heavily and taking in huge gulps of air warmed by the insulating dome Janeway had formed around them.
Gentle, warm hands cupped her face and Kes lifted her violet glowing eyes to the worried expression that graced Janeway’s features. The concern in Janeway’s gray eyes faded as Kes smiled despite her fatigue.
“I’m all right. Just tired.” Kes pushed herself into a sitting position with the help of Janeway’s strong hands around her. “We did it.”
Janeway shook her head in disagreement. “You did it.”
“Kathryn, go to her.” Kes could easily detect the hesitation without being a telepath. “She’ll need you now, more than ever. Her mind, her body has gone through an immense trauma.”
“I brought this upon her.” Janeway’s eyes were filled with tears, her voice low and husky. “Regina—”
“What Regina didn’t realize in her manipulations was that she gave you a gift.” Kes touched the tips of her fingers to Janeway’s face, collecting tears as she did. “A precious gift.”
“I do love her, Kes.”
“I know and she loves you.”
Kes watched the ice beneath Janeway bare feet melt away as the heated energy emanating from her body caused flames to lick at the ground. The blaze was extinguished once Janeway knelt over Annika’s prone form and brushed blonde hair from her still features. She could almost see the love emanating from Janeway who hugged Annika to her uncaring of her own nakedness and the sticky green residue that covered the slumbering woman’s form liberally.
“She’s not waking up.” Janeway’s worried voice brought Kes out of her reverie.
“She’s all right, Kathryn. She just needs rest. Her body has been through quite an ordeal.” Kes tried her communicator and was disappointed when a beep indicated it was functioning properly.
“Too much electro-magnetic interference. From the plant meltdown.” Janeway stood with Annika tenderly cradled in her arms. “We’ll need to do this the hard way.”
“Fly back?” Kes wondered if she had enough energy, despite how she had already begun to recover. “You can’t carry Annika and me both and I can’t make it to the US, not yet anyway.”
“Unfortunately I was thinking of somewhere a little closer.” Janeway held the woman in her arms closer to her as she began to glow faintly in preparation for her low energy flight. “I’d like to get Annika into a UFM sickbay as soon as possible.”
Kes smirked. She already knew the answer by Janeway’s expression of resignation to the upcoming ordeal before she voiced her one word question. “Australia?”
“Katie, you’ve become a little lax in your dress code over the years I see.”
Lwaxana Troi stood in the center of the medical wing of her Institute with a huge smile playing upon her lips. Her smirk nearly prevented her from taking sips from her glass that was filled with more whiskey than soda or ice. At seventy-six Lwaxana possessed a mischievous glint in her dark brown eyes and a voluptuously feminine form she was never hesitant to be very proud of. The fact that lovers half her age all seemed to fall madly in love with her only helped expand an already sizeable ego.
She had been pleasantly surprised to hear from Kathryn only twenty minutes prior asking for medical assistance for one of her Voyagers. Lwaxana had characteristically been teasing in her conversation accusing Janeway of only calling her when she needed something. In truth, the light tone she employed did mask a slight twinge within her that regretted the fact that she didn’t see much of the woman she had a large part in helping to raise.
Lwaxana’s smile grew as Janeway’s cheeks reddened as she passed her a robe to cover her nakedness. “I’m betting there’s a long story to why you’ve shown up on my doorstep in nothing but your birthday suit, but I see you brought company as well.”
Kathryn brushed a gentle hand over Annika’s forehead. “There is. I’d just like to make sure Annika is all right. And you were the closet facility.”
“No need to flatter me so, Katie.” Lwaxana moved to the medical monitor and shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly. “She’s fine. She just needs to sleep, eat and regain her strength. After a few days resting here she’ll be good as new. So, tell me who exactly is she?”
Lwaxana waved her hand in the air dismissively. “Not the boring biographical stuff. Who is she to you? Don’t think I can’t see your feelings written all over your face. Now spill.”
Is it because of Kes? Should we talk privately?
No. It’s not Kes.
“It’s rude to speak about someone as if she isn’t standing right here.” Kes rolled her eyes, but she couldn’t stop a grin from pulling at her lips.
“Well, look who’s become a telepath again. Welcome back.” Lwaxana took a long drink from her glass before she eyed Kes critically. “It’s just I didn’t want to be rude since I know you had a little thing for Katie awhile back.”
Kes’ mouth and eyes went wide at this proclamation.
“Don’t listen to her, Kes. She says that about everyone. She’s just trying to get to you.” Janeway smiled reassuring though missing the knowing looks and communication exchanged between the two telepaths.
“Well, I need another drink.” Lwaxana downed the rest of the amber colored liquid quickly. “You two look like you need a few stiff ones in ya and then a week’s worth of sleep. I’ll go get you a high ball and some decent clothes then I want to hear all about the latest adventures of Captain Janeway and her wayward ban of intrepid do-gooders.”
“We’re not ‘wayward’.” Kes’ disagreeing words were ignored as Lwaxana, with a twirl of brightly colored fabric and clanking mass of bangles and gemstone necklaces swept out of the sickbay.
“Sometimes we are.” Janeway reluctantly left Annika’s bedside to utilize the communications display connected to the wall. “UFM ship Enterprise.”
“Enterprise here—Janeway! Where the hell have you been?”
“It’s good to see you too, Will.” Janeway smiled warmly at the flabbergasted man on the monitor. “It’s a long story, but suffice to say busy. Kes and Annika are here with me at Lwaxana’s institute. I intend to return within the hour to assist in—”
“Jean-Luc, how are things on the ground?” Janeway shook off the unease at knowing the man before her had seen some of her demons and Regina’s as well.
“As well as to be expected. I’m afraid it’s taking your government some time to sort out how to handle the situation. The President has declared a state of emergency and set up central control at the Pentagon. I’ll never cease to be impressed by what the American people can take in stride.” Picard smirked as he shook his head. “There’s already bids circulating for reconstructing the White House and the surrounding area that suffered damaged.”
“It’s nice to know that capitalism is alive and well.”
“How are you, Kathryn? I’m alone.”
“Oh I’m fine. I take it I have you and Kes to thank for that.”
“And Annika? She’s there with you?”
“Yes. Kes found a way to locate Regina’s nanoprobes and extract them.” Janeway nearly shivered by the image of the procedure coming to the forefront of her mind. “She saved her.”
“I’m pleased to hear that.” Picard’s eyes were diverted from the screen to the door that continued to announce someone’s wish to gain entry into the communications center. “It appears there are others who would like to speak with you.”
Janeway felt her chest warm and a smile threaten to break through her serious façade as recriminations and exasperated words were spoken all at once by her Voyager team. Some, like B’Elanna’s, were more colorful than others but all had the same message. If she were to do anything like this ever again, scare them in this manner, they would not be so lenient.
“What do you have to say for yourself, Kathryn?” Chakotay knew the critical words against Janeway were because of fear and worry and that she knew it. He could see tears in her eyes from her feelings of warmth and love. There was also regret on her features and she appeared unable to find the necessary words.
Janeway cleared her throat audibly as she took a moment to look at each entreating face displayed before her. She felt a lone tear drop from her eye but did not feel embarrassed or ashamed by her show of emotions. Janeway knew at this moment above all others she had to let her guard down. She needed to trust them as much as they trusted her. She had to tell them the truth.
“I know I worried you. That you didn’t understand what was happening onboard Regina’s sphere. How I could suddenly become your enemy. And I’m… truly sorry for that.” Janeway took a deep breath as her throat tightened with emotion. She put a hand to her upper chest to help calm her as she continued her confession.
“I—I have a problem.” Janeway straightened her posture; her resolve to say what see needed clear on her determined features. “I hunger for power, usually I can control it and I’ve taken steps to let it never consume me. Or so I thought. In preventing the core breach I took in too much energy, it was volatile, powerful, it… overcame me. What I did was wrong. Especially to you Tom. I used your trust in me against you.”
Tom looked at the woman who looked so vulnerable it made his voice softer than what was usual for the boisterous man. “You seem okay now.”
“Yes, I have Kes and Jean-Luc to thank for that.” Janeway’s gaze averted from the monitor to where Kes was seated in a gray chair at Annika’s bedside. She felt fortified by the encouraging smile Kes offered her. “The hunger is once again contained.”
“What about Annika? Is she okay?”
“Yes.” Janeway nearly smiled at B’Elanna’s show of concern. Nearly. “She’s fine. Lwaxana is allowing her to stay her to recoup her strength for the next few days.”
“Captain, I think I speak for all of us when I say you should just stay in Australia.” B’Elanna crossed her arms over her chest, an unyielding posture. “We’re good here. Not much for us to do until the Prez says something other than UN forces are assisting the US government in a time of need. We’ll let you know if you’re needed and then Harry can pop on down and get you.”
Small knowing smiles were on too many lips for Janeway’s comfort. They knew. Somehow they knew. “I thank you, B’Elanna, but I really think I should—”
“Captain.” Tom’s stern voice stopped Janeway immediately. “Trust us. Like we trust you. The first face Annika sees when she wakes up should be yours. The US will still be here in two days.”
Janeway was floored. It was as if her admission of her dark secret hadn’t even been heard. She listened as more voiced their agreement with Tom and B’Elanna’s assertions. Janeway’s eyes moved to Chakotay who had an indefinable look on his dark features.
“Stay, Captain. We’ll hold down the fort until you return.” Chakotay grinned at the relieved look he received. “Annika needs you more than us for the time being.”
“Thank you. All of you.” Janeway’s smile was tremulous but genuine. “I’ll see you in a few days. But call me if—”
A laugh burst forth from Kes at seeing Janeway’s indignant and surprised expression when the screen went black after Chakotay had unexpectedly terminated the call.
“Can you believe that?”
“Yes, I can.” Kes continued to smile as motioned for Janeway to take her seat next to Annika.
“Kes.” Janeway placed her hands gently over Annika’s left forearm and rubbed the bare skin that had been revealed when Kes had replaced the silver combat suit with a gown while Janeway had been on with the Enterprise. She looked away from Annika’s features in repose to look at Kes, who was checking on Annika’s vitals. “Thank you. For everything. And I’m sorry. For what you had to see.”
Kes looked at Janeway carefully not completely understanding what the other woman was referring to until she remembered that Janeway had been anything but a passive participant in quelling her immense appetite.
“You owe me no apologies, Kathryn.” Kes moved away from the monitors to stand before Janeway. She had no words to say how sorry she was for what Janeway had suffered at the hands of Camet and his men, so instead Kes merely knelt down and placed her lips to Janeway’s forehead and tried to convey her emotions through her touch and her thoughts.
“I told you she had a big ole yen for you.” Lwaxana’s words as she entered the sickbay with a tray of drinks and clothing draped over her shoulder elicited a chuckle from Kes and a groan from Janeway.
Kes opted out of the drink passed her way. “Actually I think I’ll go to bed, let you two catch up.”
“The guest wing is empty. Take whichever room you’d like.” Lwaxana smiled with approval when Janeway took the proffered tumbler filled with whiskey and little else. She watched Kes leave, the door to the sickbay slid closed behind her before Lwaxana spoke again. “Do you think it’s wise to allow her full use of her mind’s ability? She can be quite dangerous.”
“We all can be. I trust her to seek out help if she requires it as she has done so in the past.” Janeway took a healthy drink from her glass and appreciated how the alcohol burned her throat along its trek. “I have every confidence in her.”
“Far be it for me to demonize anyone.” Lwaxana placed the tray with Kes’ rejected glass, that was now empty, and the clothing she had brought for Janeway onto the lounger in the corner before she brought a chair so she could seat on the other side of the slumbering Annika. “So tell me everything about this woman you obvious are head over heels for. I never thought I’d see the day, especially after Jus—I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. I never thought I’d fall in love again either. A part of me didn’t want to. It seemed like a betrayal to Justin”
“And now it doesn’t?”
“No. He was a good man who only wanted me to be happy.” Janeway let her hand drift across Annika’s forehead lovingly. “She makes me happy.”
“I see that clearly in the way you look at her. But I also see pain. What happened? The news makes it sound like the whole eastern seaboard of the US has been under attack by militant anti-metahuman groups. I had sent Ezri and Odo to assist, but by the time they got there apparently Bashir and his team along with your people already had the situation well in hand.” Lwaxana considered the mistake for not bringing the entire whiskey bottle down with her as she finished her third drink. “I couldn’t believe it when they told me Regina’s sphere was there.”
“Lwaxana, Regina was there.”
Lwaxana looked too shell-shocked for words, but she was not a woman to be silent for too long. “My God! Now I definitely need another drink.”
Janeway groaned as she came awake with a great crick in her neck and pain in her upper back muscles. She brought her head up slowly from where it had been resting on the edge of Annika’s biobed for an amount of time unknown to her. She stretched her arms above her head to relieve some of the discomfort from her body and was satisfied with the resounding cracks her movements caused.
“Annika?” Janeway’s voice was soft and entreating as she placed a gentle hand upon the slumbering woman’s forehead.
It worried her that she was still asleep, but knew it was unfounded since Kes and Lwaxana not to mention herself were all medically trained. Annika’s needs were being met by the medical equipment surrounding the biobed and Janeway knew what the woman needed most was rest.
Janeway removed the blanket that had been draped over her at some point in the early Australian morning she stood. The pajamas she wore obviously belonged to someone taller and better endowed than she, but they served their purpose. And she had been fortunate Lwaxana had brought her clothing that were sedate with their blue color scheme instead of something that employed the other woman’s usually loud preferences when it came to fashion.
She cast one last look at Annika before she entered the bathroom. The lights turned on automatically filling the small sterile room with dim yellow light that sent the slightest buzz through Janeway’s system. She looked forward to the sunrise.
As she passed near the large mirror mounted above the sink she couldn’t stop herself from looking at herself critically. It was strange to her that she didn’t look any worse for wear after all she had gone through in the past twenty-four hours or so.
Janeway quickly drew the long sleeved shirt from her body and then dropped the drawstring pants to the dark gray tiled floor in preparation for her shower. As the warm water and soap cleansed her body she thought about Regina, Lwaxana and Annika.
She had whiled away the evening telling Lwaxana of Regina’s plot. Janeway had tried not to make it seem any worse of an ordeal than necessary since she knew Lwaxana carried guilt with her that she had not been able to rehabilitate Regina. She, in her mind, had only been able to prolong the inevitable. That guilt was something Janeway shared as well, but tried not to dwell on especially now. She wanted to concentrate on Annika. Janeway had surprised herself not to mention Lwaxana when she had spoken so freely about Annika. The love she felt for her. The fear at what trauma Regina’s actions had caused Annika.
“So, you’re in love with this young woman then?” Lwaxana had smiled her all-knowing grin that was characteristic of her. “Well, I for one can’t wait to meet her. So, I can judge and be over protective like everyone claims I tend to be. Don’t worry, Katie, I’ll save the embarrassing photo albums for you and Annika’s next trip down to visit me. You know for someone who has speed on her side you don’t get out to see your old friends too often.”
Even though Lwaxana’s tone had been deliberately teasing Janeway had detected the hurt and annoyance laced within. “I know. And I’m sorry about that. I don’t know why I don’t come see you. Or Aunt Martha. Or any of the others that helped raise me.”
“You’re a good girl, Katie.” Lwaxana had tried to shrug it off, but she held hope that Janeway’s words meant she would see more of the woman she considered like a daughter. “I know you’re busy with your Institute. And everything else the UFM has you doing. Not to mention all that crappy anti-metahuman sentiment plaguing the US.”
Janeway had detected that the sentimentality occurring was perhaps too much for Lwaxana, which was practically confirmed when the other woman informed her it was late for Australians and went to bed. Alone with Annika, Janeway had spent the next several hours watching over the slumbering woman until she had apparently succumbed to a blissfully dreamless sleep.
A part of her hated Regina for what she had done to Annika, what she had tried to do. But another part felt just as she had back in that horrible place in Reykjavik when she thought she had killed Regina. Suddenly she felt the weight of what had occurred in the last twenty-four hours and was overcome by both joyful relief and agonizing pain.
Janeway pressed the palms of her hands against the slick, tiled wall of the shower as she let hot tears mix with shower water while her body shook with wracking sobs she would never allow another person to ever witness. Embarrassed even alone, Janeway regained her composure through sheer willpower alone. She washed away her tears before she turned the water off and stepped out of the stall.
She dried herself quickly wanting to get back to Annika. She dumped the towels and her pajamas into the hamper before she opened the closet near the door to find a never worn suit to don. Janeway had never really wondered about why Lwaxana always kept such a large supply of brand new bodysuits, she figured for times like these. She pulled the form-fitting garment that was a dark red with black piping that went from her shoulders to form a V that ended above her bellybutton. She tied her long, thick hair into a loose ponytail as she walked towards where Annika still slumbered on.
The sleeping woman looked so peaceful, so achingly beautiful. Janeway bent forward to gently press her lips to Annika’s forehead. She lingered for a moment almost willing Annika’s eyes to open, when they didn’t Janeway slowly withdrew.
“I’ll be right back.”
Janeway opened the skylight with a voice command before she flew up to greet the morning sun.
The energy she received from the sun was pure and gentle, she never felt greedy nor did she hunger for that energy. She closed her eyes and floated ever higher with her feet together and her arms outstretched as if offering herself up to the dawn of a new day. Those up early enough to see the sunrise saw another blaze in the blue sky. Being used to metahumans, Australia was one of the leaders in metahuman rights equality, most looked at the specter in the sky with awe, others who were more jaded shrugged indifferently and went about their morning. If close enough people on the ground looking up saw what resembled a great fiery, golden bird.
(to be continued)