End Game redux
see part 1 for info
WARNING: This section contains graphic depictions of torture, intimations of sexual violence, and major character death. Please be advised that you have been duly warned.
End Game redux
see part 1 for info
WARNING: This section contains graphic depictions of torture, intimations of sexual violence, and major character death. Please be advised that you have been duly warned.
Kathryn Janeway smiled brightly at the half-Ktarian, half-human girl walking next to her with excitement rolling off her in waves. Naomi was six years old, but looked to be in her early teens in human terms. In short, she was a young woman, one that Captain Janeway was quite proud of. Naomi was highly intelligent, caring, and hard working. Janeway was confident that Naomi would wear the colors of Starfleet proudly and with distinction. But for now they were merely shopping for a birthday present for a woman who they both held dear to their hearts. For Naomi Seven was a mentor and best friend. For the captain, the two of them had just recently admitted their love for one another and their mutual desire to embark on a romantic relationship. Janeway’s chest nearly burst from the love she felt for Seven and was finally able to show. She wanted this birthday gift to be special.
“We haven’t gone to that store yet, Captain.”
Janeway was pulled out of her reverie as she looked in the direction of Naomi’s pointing finger. It was a small store, separated from the main strip of the space station’s vast shopping area. She couldn’t read the establishment’s sign, but it appeared to be an antique store of some sort. “Lead the way, Miss Wildman.”
Naomi smiled brightly, but professionally in response before she walked in quick strides to the small store hoping to find the perfect gift for Seven not only from her but from Captain Janeway as well. They hadn’t been able to find anything they thought Seven would find remarkable so their search continued. Naomi couldn’t be happier. She was getting to spend an entire day with her role model and hero, Captain Janeway.
“Greetings and welcome.” The short humanoid behind the counter resembled an Earth lizard with his brown scales and yellow eyes, but his voice was friendly and so Janeway and Naomi smiled in return. “Is there anything I may help you find for yourself?”
“Actually, we’re just browsing for the moment. But thank you. We’ll be sure to let you know if we require any assistance.” The store clerk already forgotten, Janeway and Naomi began their search for the perfect present for Seven. They didn’t see when the man behind the counter alerted others of Captain Janeway’s presence within the store.
“What do you think about this for you to give to Seven, Captain?” Naomi held up an elaborate and intricate network of silver chains with a dark blue circular stone attached to the end of it. “I think it’d make Seven’s eyes really stand out, don’t you?”
“I certainly do, it’s beautiful.” Janeway smiled toothily as she was handed the necklace from Naomi, who was equally beaming. “Good work, Naomi. I think Seven will love it.”
Naomi maintained her smile as she watched Janeway examine the beautiful necklace closer. She figured Seven would probably love anything Captain Janeway would give her. It was becoming widespread gossip that the captain and Seven were becoming more than friends. Naomi overheard her mother speaking to Neelix, during one of their video transmissions, about a picnic date he had helped Seven set up for the captain. Naomi couldn’t imagine anything more romantic than Seven and Captain Janeway, her two favorite people in the Universe besides her mom and Neelix, being in love with each other.
“Let’s go pay for this and get back to the ship. I don’t want your mother mad at me for keeping you out late.” Janeway’s smile dropped when she turned around and didn’t see the sales clerk anywhere in the small store. She thought maybe he was in the back getting something, but the small hairs on the back of her neck were telling her something was wrong here. She hated to startle Naomi, but she still pulled her phaser and tricorder out of her belt as fast as she could. She tapped her combadge a moment later.
“Janeway to Voyager.” Janeway knew in that moment that she was not just being paranoid. Her combadge, tricoder and phaser were all nonfunctional.
“Captain?” Naomi felt an icy chill run across her skin. She could feel Janeway’s tension, but tried to maintain calm and strong for the captain.
“Naomi, we need to get out of here. Now!” Janeway pulled Naomi close to her as she quickly moved to the front door that seemed suddenly so far away.
“Captain!” Naomi screamed when a horrible crack had sounded and Janeway had stumbled on their way through the door. She pulled her hand up and felt sick when she saw crimson blood on her palm. Someone had shot Captain Janeway.
The metallic bullet embedded in her leg caused Janeway to fall in agony upon the floor. Despite her pain she thrust Naomi as far away from her as she could before she spoke her command through gritted teeth. “Run! And don’t look back.”
Naomi didn’t think twice. She did what she was told. She ran. She ran from that small little store which had the perfect gift for Seven. Her legs strained under the pressure, but she kept her swift pace until she was in the middle of the square where she screamed as loudly as she could for someone to help her before she slapped her combadge. The moment she heard Commander Chakotay’s voice, Naomi realized that she had been shot too. Blood seeped from a gash in her left side. She fell to the ground surrounded by aliens who all spoke agitatedly before her world became dark and quiet.
Janeway was well aware that she wouldn’t be able to get away by crawling, not with her leg as mangled as it was. She watched for as long as she could as Naomi escaped. Janeway felt a peace come over her that at least Naomi had gotten away. As she tried to move her damaged leg with one hand her fingers caught on something cold and hard. The necklace. I’m sorry, Seven. Janeway knew with painful regret that she wouldn’t be able to keep her dinner date with Seven this evening.
“Pull her back. Harness her and get ready for transport.”
Janeway cried out in pain as rough hands did as the cold voice had commanded. Metal shackles were closed over her wrists and arms before a heavy contraption was set upon her shoulders and around her torso that imprisoned her arms completely. She was forcibly brought to her feet, which made her stumble and cry out as her leg exploded with pain.
“The great Captain Janeway.”
Janeway struggled against the agony she felt as she raised her head to look upon the person who had spoken her name with such disdain. A woman with dark blue skin and yellow eyes glared at the captain with a cruel smile upon her lips. Perhaps under different circumstances Janeway would have thought the woman beautiful, but now she only felt an ice cold fear fill her chest. She knew this species.
“At last we meet. Face to face.”
Janeway’s head snapped back when the vicious blow came. She felt blood on her tongue before her world became dark and gloriously pain free.
“Captain Janeway! Where is she? Captain!”
“Naomi, please remain calm.” The Doctor held onto the young girl as she thrashed upon the biobed and continued to cry hysterically for the captain. Despite not having one literally, the Doctor’s heart was pained to have to tell Naomi the truth. “She’s gone. Someone abducted her. Chakotay and an away team are on the space station investigating. They want you with them, but I told them that you needed—”
“Doctor, no, let me go. I need to help them find Captain Janeway.” Naomi could barely look at the Doctor the guilt she felt was so overwhelming. “Please, this is all my fault.”
“Your fault?” The Doctor’s grip loosened and he watched stunned as Naomi began to cry again, her sobs racked her small body. He pulled himself out of his shock so he could put comforting arms around Naomi’s shaking body. He knew none of this was Naomi’s fault and he said so. It did little to soothe Naomi’s guilt and fear, but she did begin to control her crying.
“I need to help find Captain Janeway.” Naomi’s eyes were red and burning from the hot tears she had expelled, but her voice was hard and sure. “I have to.”
The Doctor’s craggy features displayed his reluctance as he tapped his combadge. “Sickbay to Commander Tuvok.”
“She’s ready.” The Doctor didn’t try to stop Naomi as the little girl bolted from Sickbay.
Naomi felt numb as she moved through Voyager’s corridors on unsteady legs. As she entered the Transporter room she barely acknowledged the chief on duty, but she understood that he had already been given instructions because when she stepped onto the dais he didn’t hesitate to beam her to the space station.
“Naomi, please come with me.”
Naomi nodded in compliance and followed Crewman Chang to the little shop she had suggested to Captain Janeway as a place they might find Seven’s birthday present. She felt an icy feeling fall over her and clench her chest as she thought of Seven.
“Are you all right?”
“I—I’m fine.” Naomi knew she wasn’t fine. She had failed Captain Janeway. She had failed Seven and she knew she would never forgive herself if something terrible happened to the captain. She knew Seven wouldn’t.
Naomi carefully stepped around the dark pool of blood in the threshold of the shop as she followed Chang closely. She felt her heart clench with fear when she saw Seven and then Commander Chakotay, Tuvok, and the rest of the away team scouring the shop for clues.
“Seven!” Naomi wasn’t sure what had propelled her into action only that it felt good to be in Seven’s arms to hear the soothing words she provided. Naomi spoke broken words through her sobs and hoped Seven would understand. “I’m sorry.”
“Naomi Wildman.” Seven pulled Naomi away from her in order to look down upon the tear-streaked face with seriousness and compassion. “You are not responsible for what has occurred. Those who have abducted Captain Janeway are.”
Naomi wasn’t convinced, but she felt a rush of relief that she didn’t see hatred from Seven. She wiped her tears from her cheeks with the back of her hand as she regained her composure. “It was the shop clerk. That’s how Captain Janeway knew something was wrong. He must have told whoever took the captain that she was in his store. Captain Janeway tried to contact Voyager but a—a dampening field must have been erected before the clerk left the store because we couldn’t contact anyone. I—I heard a loud sound and then the captain was falling. There was so much blood. She pushed me out the door and told me to run and not look back. So, I did. I didn’t stay with her even when I knew she was hurt. I’m sorry, Seven.”
“You did the right thing, Naomi.” Chakotay’s voice was soft as he approached Seven and Naomi. “You contacted us right away even though you were hurt yourself.”
“The Commander is correct.” Tuvok’s only visible tension was his narrowed eyebrows as he spoke evenly. “Could you give a detailed description of the store clerk?”
“Yes.” A fire roared within Naomi as she thought about the man who had contacted the abductors and set up the dampening field. She wanted to cause him pain. “I can.”
“Icheb to Seven of Nine.”
“Proceed.” Seven moved away from where Naomi was describing the store clerk to Crewman Jurot.
“We’re receiving an encrypted message.”
“I will return to the ship, stand by.” A piece of silver caught Seven’s eye and she bent down to retrieve it. It was an elaborate necklace, aesthetically pleasing, but what caught her attention was the blood splattered across the blue stone. Her metallic mesh covered hand squeezed the stone until it broke in her palm.
I will find you, Kathryn. Seven made the solemn vow silently before she informed Commanders Chakotay and Tuvok that she was needed in Astrometrics. She thought she detected concern in both the men’s eyes but she ignored it before she approached Naomi.
“I must return to Voyager.”
“We wanted to find you the perfect gift.” Naomi’s voice was rough from crying and she didn’t know why she had spoken those words. Only that she wanted Seven to know that Captain Janeway had been thinking only of her.
“I must go.” Seven’s voice cracked ever so slightly. She needed to act, to return to her sensors and find whoever took Kathryn. She would find them. And make them pay.
“Give us the command codes to your ship, Captain, and all of this will be over.”
Icheb tried to remain impassive as he stood next to Seven in the Astrometrics lab. Seven had quickly decoded the video message, the ransom note.
He couldn’t remain unemotional as he watched Captain Janeway being viciously backhanded by a massive fist that knocked the petite captain to the floor. Icheb had to turn away from the huge holographic display, but he still heard the captain’s pain-filled cries and the sound of fist hitting flesh. He felt sick, his palms and forehead were damp, and he wondered if his nanoprobes were malfunctioning.
Icheb turned back to the screen when the cries stopped. He was almost too afraid of what he would see, but was relieved when the screen was filled with the image of a masked woman. Her voice was hard and cold.
“You will give us Voyager or your captain will beg for death before I am through enjoying her pain. You have twelve cycles to obey or else I begin doing irreparable harm.”
Seven’s voice was unsteady, as she spoke her orders to Icheb, her face a mask of pain and fury. “We will track down the origin of this message. Now.”
B’Elanna held on to her husband’s hand almost tight enough to break the bones in his fingers as she watched the last of the message play out. She didn’t dare look at Seven or Chakotay, so instead she looked at her hands, which were shaking. In fact Tom’s whole body was shaking.
“Why can’t we find these bastards?” Tom’s voice was unsteady, filled with pain and anger. He felt sick from what he had just seen, but also from the feeling of helplessness. They couldn’t find the store clerk and now even Seven and Icheb couldn’t track down where that message had been sent from. He knew his anger and frustration with Seven was misplaced, but he directed it towards her anyway.
“They are utilizing a triaxilating frequency that is untraceable.” Seven answered with heat in her voice. She was failing Kathryn. She felt powerless and weak. And so very afraid.
“What about the store clerk?” Harry’s hands were shaking so he put them underneath the table so the other wouldn’t see. His voice was quiet as he tried to push back his nausea and terror, as well as his anger. They needed to keep their heads, find the captain.
It had been twelve hours since the captain’s abduction and Chakotay felt the weight of command on his shoulders overriding his fear for the woman he was still in love with. He hoped that cycles weren’t the same as human hours because their time was running out.
“We presently have two leads as to where he might be headed.” Chakotay wished he had more to tell his crew, but for right now they were chasing phantoms. “There is an abundance of trading outposts eight light years away on our current course. And a lunar colony five light years in the other direction. I’m sending away teams to both locations. Commander Tuvok will lead the team sent to the outposts and Lieutenant Foster will lead the team going to the lunar colony. I want this man found, people. Dismissed.”
Chakotay watched as the crew filed out until it was only him and Seven in the Briefing room. He was well aware, though he doubted most of the other crew were, that Kathryn was in love with Seven. He now wondered if Seven returned those feelings because he could practically see the rage filling her that he had never expected possible from the former Borg drone.
“Seven, I need you to find out where that message originated.” Chakotay kept his voice even, but determined despite her outrage that she wasn’t also going to be assigned to an away team. “Find her, Seven.”
Seven was too filled with anger to speak so she nodded her head sharply before she moved swiftly, with visible aggression, from the Briefing room. She would find Kathryn. And those who would dare cause her pain.
“That’s our man.” Telsia Murphy motioned covertly to her lone companion, Ensign Munro, as she took a sip of her ale.
Alexander Munro turned ever so slightly to catch the brown scaled man in his peripheral vision. He took a drink from his glass as he pressed his combadge, which was hidden underneath his dark blue coat. “Target acquired.”
“Acknowledged.” Tuvok’s even tones over the comm. were quiet, but even in the crowded, bustling bar Munro and Murphy were listening only to him. “Hold position. Keep target within sight. We are nearing your location.”
“Fucking bastard.” Telsia downed the rest of her ale as she tightened her hold on the phaser hidden beneath her brown tunic.
Munro smiled at the fire in Telsia’s voice. It was a hard, cold smile. “We’re going to take him apart.”
It had taken Voyager almost two days to reach the collection of trading outposts, which had made everyone on edge because in those thirty-six hours two more video messages had been sent. Telsia could still hear her captain’s screams. Her tightening grip was nearly shattering the glass in her had.
“We’re go.” Munro stood from the table swiftly a moment after Tuvok and Jurot entered the bar.
Telsia walked slowly and calmly next to Munro and as they closed in on the lizard-like store clerk who had been an important player in the captain’s abduction and her subsequent torture. She saw out of the corner of her eye Tuvok’s nod and along with Munro, Jurot, and Tuvok pulled out her phaser.
“You’re coming with us.” Munro clamped restraints on the store clerk’s scaly wrists before he stunned him with his weapon.
The bar was absolutely silent as the away team and their captive vanished in a swirl of blue sparkles and light. As soon as the last sparkle dissipated, the bar resumed the cacophony it had possessed a moment earlier. The patrons were just relieved it wasn’t them who had obviously cheated some powerful people on a trade deal or whatever had happened.
“They’ll kill me!”
“What do you think we’ll do to you if you don’t answer our questions?” Munro leaned down so that his hot breath and angered expression was almost touching the store clerk’s scaly face.
“You’re nothing like them. I know you won’t do anything to me.” Despite his words the clerk was shaking with fear. “Look, I didn’t know what they were going to do with her! I swear I just wanted to get paid.”
The backhand Telsia delivered knocked the clerk to the floor of the shuttle. The chair he was strapped to bent when it too collided into the hard, unforgiving surface. Blue blood fell from the clerk’s mouth and nose as he moaned in pain.
“Tell us who took her!” Telsia shook with fury as she pointed her phaser at the sniveling clerk. “Or I start cutting off limbs.”
“Stand down, Crewman Murphy.” Tuvok leaned over the scaly man with impassiveness on his features but anger in his heart. “There is no need to resort to violence.”
The store clerk’s gratefulness was soon abandoned when long, tapered fingers were pressed against his temples and face and he felt something forcing its way into his mind, his thoughts. He tried to struggle but found that he couldn’t move. Immobilized he could only stare ahead blankly as his mind was pried open and his memories were exposed.
Tuvok finally released his hold and the brown scaled man gurgled up blood before he mercifully passed out. Tuvok’s voice was made rough from the arduous and painful mind meld, but the forced link had been well worth it. They now knew who had the captain. “Kellidians.”
“Seven!” Captain Janeway’s scream filled the Astrometrics lab and caused the lone occupant to shatter completely.
Tears of anguish and rage streamed down Seven’s face as she watched the fourth and latest video feed the Kellidians had sent to Voyager. Though she was in the Astrometrics bay she did not utilize the vast, holographic display. After the first message, she could no longer stand to see the love of her life being tortured so visibly. Instead she utilized the smallest monitor she could find. She wondered if she was being a coward, but felt too much pain to care.
The torture was getting worse. This time the Kellidian leader had burned out one of Kathryn’s eyes with a white hot probe. Seven had nearly vomited when that had occurred and vicious laughter had filled the Astrometics lab from Kathryn’s torturers. But Seven remained in control even though she was utterly helpless to save Kathryn from a fate she thought worse than death.
“Give us the codes, Captain.”
Janeway’s broken voice was almost too soft to hear even in the silence of the Astrometrics lab. “No.”
Seven watched with a fire in her chest that threatened to consume her as the leader pulled off one of her gloves and used her dark blue fingers to touch the gaping wound that had been Kathryn’s left eye. The blue hand wiped blood across Kathryn’s gashed cheek and down to her cracked and bruised lips.
Seven watched with tears in her eyes as Janeway tried to turn her head away from the horrible touch that was a grotesque mockery of a caress. Janeway’s petite form convulsed as drugs were pumped into her veins. Seven knew the light red chemical going into the IV kept Janeway awake and alert even during the worse pain imaginable.
The next words that emerged from the sadistic blue-skinned leader made Seven emit a scream of rage that sounded almost inhuman as she smashed her fists against the screen with all the force she could. Her human hand was shattered and blood dripped onto the floor where pieces of glass and metal were imbedded deeply into her vulnerable flesh. Seven didn’t feel her own pain as she continued to destroy whatever she could find, which were consoles and glass monitors.
It wasn’t until she felt strong hands upon her shoulders that Seven was forced to stop her destruction. Her human hand swung out towards the interloper’s face, but was stopped by an inhuman grip on her wrist. She turned her head and tried to push Tuvok away from her, but in her exhaustion she wasn’t strong enough.
“We will find the captain.” Tuvok’s voice was deceptively calm as he held a sobbing Seven in his powerful arms.
Seven knew they were getting closer to a ship that had a Kellidan warp signature, but she was also fully aware that it would take almost a full day for Voyager to catch up to it. The damage that could be done to Kathryn in that time was vast and brutal.
“Fire torpedoes.” Chakotay lurched forward in his chair as the Kellidian ship fired back. “Shields?”
“Seventy-two percent.” Tuvok targeted the ship’s nacelles and fired another volley. The Kellidian ship was still shielded but he could see their defenses weakening.
“Keep firing.” Chakotay was blood thirsty. The fourth and final video message had been nothing short of horrific. He could still picture Kathryn strapped to that table, blood covering her small form, the immense pain that showed with each breath she took and of course that blue-skinned leader who had threatened even more brutality.
“How many of us do you suppose, Captain,” the leader’s voice had been oddly warm and coaxing as she continued to wipe Janeway’s blood into patterns upon her bruised and lacerated face. “It would take to rape you to death? Two? Three? How long do you suppose you will last? Don’t worry; I get to have you first.”
Chakotay’s blood boiled at his remembrance as he order Tuvok to keep firing even though he knew the Vulcan had no intention of stopping. He bolted from his chair as he saw the shields of the Kellidian ship falter until they disappeared altogether. “Aim for their engines and weapons. I want that ship dead in the water! Ayala, take over Tactical! Tuvok, take your team. Let’s get our captain back.”
“You must stay.” Tuvok’s eyes were firm as they held Seven’s. She protested vehemently but his calm logic made her relent. She needed to stay on Voyager and make sure that ship was going nowhere and for the captain’s sake, if not her own.
“Bring her home, Commander.”
“We must abandon ship!”
“No!” The blue-skinned leader clung to the table that held Janeway captive as her ship shook around her. “She’s mine!”
“Leave her. Get to the shuttles!”
The footfalls of twenty of her men as they abandoned her to her demented obsession were the last thing she heard before she was vaporized by a standard issue Federation phaser. She didn’t even have enough time to scream.
Harry Kim looked at the phaser in his hand as if he had never seen the Federation weapon before. He had just killed the leader of this Kellidian vessel without hesitation. What worried him most was that he didn’t feel anything but vindicated in doing so. He didn’t worry too long. He holstered his phaser before he moved swiftly to where the captain’s bloody, prone and naked body was strapped down to a metal platform as Tuvok, Murphy, Munro, and Chell secured the area with their phasers drawn and ready.
“My God. Captain?” The Doctor’s horrified voice seemed obscenely loud in the quiet of the room. His hands, as holographic as they were, shook as he scanned the captain with his medical tricorder and took note of a multitude of injuries, horrendous injuries, inflicted upon his captain in the last seventy-four hours.
Harry could taste bile as it rose in his throat, but he kept it down as he looked at his captain. He couldn’t imagine how she was still alive as he took in her bloodied, mangled form. Harry forcibly steadied his hands as he used a laser scalpel to quickly remove the restraints that were so tight they were cutting into Janeway’s pale flesh. His voice was hoarse from the hot tears that filled his throat and flowed down his face. “Captain, we’re going to get you out of here.”
Harry had tried to keep his tears at bay and not be frightened by how Captain Janeway didn’t seem to be aware of the Voyager crew or anything for that matter. His hand shook as it hovered above her naked lacerated shoulder. He didn’t dare touch her, but he wanted her to know he was going to stay close by. A hand on his shoulder caused him to lash out. His fist connected with nothing as it passed through the Doctor.
“Ensign!” The Doctor solidified and held Harry tightly with his hands on the shaking man’s shoulders. “We’re bringing her home. The Doctor to Voyager, transport.”
Tom Paris nearly dropped the osteo-regenerator when Captain Janeway appeared in a shimmering of blue light upon the surgical bed. The Doctor soon followed, but not the rest of the away team. They remained on the ship to gather information.
“Mr. Paris, your assistance please.” The Doctor’s voice was sharp and impatient as he waited for Tom to come out of his trance.
“I—I’m sorry.” Tom raised the medical arch on the biobed before he passed the Doctor a hypospray filled with a strong sedative. He watched as the Doctor placed the hypospray to Janeway’s neck. She didn’t even flinch and as she fell into unconsciousness he held a desperate hope that she wouldn’t remember any of this when she woke. Behind him he could hear Jurot and Telfer readying surgical equipment, but his attention was solely on Captain Janeway.
Tom had tried to prepare himself, but nothing could have readied him for seeing his captain in such a state. Red blood almost completely covered her small, frail body. He could tell some had been on her skin from the first day because of how it had dried into a thick brown crust. She had extensive injuries across her entire body, but the worse of it was her leg that had been torn asunder by the bullet that had facilitated her capture and of course the seared cavity that had once contained her left eye.
“Mr. Paris, I need your full attention.” The Doctor tried not to be insensitive, but his voice was harsh and censoring. The captain needed them to focus and when she woke he didn’t want horrified trances to be what she would find. “The captain needs you.”
Tom shook himself mentally before he nodded to the Doctor. “Where do we begin?”
The Sickbay was silent aside from the electronic noises of medical equipment and orders from the Doctor. The Doctor and his medical team worked tirelessly for over ten hours trying to piece together Captain Janeway’s broken form. Her mangled leg had been the most difficult injury to heal. The Doctor knew the captain would be required to utilize a cane for the rest of her life unless she chose to have an artificial limb.
Aside from the infection ridden leg and the shattered tibia, she had a multitude of other bones that had to be repaired. All ten of her fingers, her wrists, her left collarbone and her jaw had all been broken. She had suffered two concussions, had a collapsed lung, and four broken ribs. Forty-seven small cuts that had been made across her pale skin had to be healed. The incisions had obviously been made with a small, jagged blade in order to cause as much pain as possible. Though the worst injuries to her flesh were on her back. Thirteen lashes from a barbed piece of leather had ripped apart her skin and muscle. The Doctor knew they had been delivered the first day and the only reason why Janeway hadn’t died of blood loss was that her injuries had been cauterized quickly.
Janeway’s eye had been cauterized as well, probably with the same instrument. The Doctor couldn’t fathom how much pain the destruction of her left eye had caused the captain. He had never imagined such savagery being inflicted upon someone, despite his extensive database.
“Mr. Paris, perhaps you should get some rest.” The Doctor laid a comforting hand on Tom’s shoulder.
He had already sent Telfer and Jurot out of Sickbay. They were exhausted both physically and emotionally and the Doctor knew Tom was probably even more so.
“That’s okay, Doctor.” Tom pulled a chair up next to the surgical bed and fell into it heavily. His voice was quiet, hoarse, but sure. “I don’t want her to be alone.”
The Doctor wasn’t tired physically, but he felt depleted nonetheless. But like Tom, he wanted to be in the captain’s presence. To know that she was safe and sound onboard Voyager, where she belonged. He pulled up a chair on the other side of Janeway before he settled his holographic form into it. The Doctor hesitantly mirrored Tom’s actions and held one of Janeway’s slim hands between his own. They would be the captain’s only companions this night since the Doctor had restricted access to Sickbay. He knew the crew was restless to see her, but the Doctor also knew no one knew what the captain’s state of mind would be when she woke. That is what worried the Doctor the most. Janeway’s damaged psyche. And unfortunately that was something he couldn’t heal.
Kathryn Janeway’s awakening was a slow, arduous process. She hadn’t been allowed to sleep for seventy-four hours and her body craved it, but she pressed on. A heavy weight she felt on the left side of the bed she was on helped to expedite her wakefulness. Her breathing was still labored and rapid even when she realized that it was Tom Paris, fast asleep, next to her. He was bent over in what looked like a highly uncomfortable position, his head was near her shoulder and she could feel his warm, even breaths.
Janeway heard another sound within the darkened Sickbay aside from Tom’s breathing and the noises emitted from the medical equipment surrounding her. It was the Doctor. He was in his office. And he was crying.
The blessed moments of forgetfulness were quickly gone as Janeway remembered in a horrible rush all that had happened to her in the last three days. She knew she was safely ensconced in Voyager’s Sickbay, but she could still feel the cold metal of a jagged blade slicing into her flesh and that horrible voice that was constantly threatening more. So much more. Suddenly the biobed itself, Tom’s weight next to her and the Doctor’s weeping was imprisoning her, strangling her. She couldn’t breathe, she had to get away.
Tom awoke on the floor. He was startled by the strength of the arm that collided into him. Tom hurried to his feet even as the Doctor rushed towards the biobed from his office.
“I’ve got her, get a sedative! Quickly!” The Doctor held the thrashing woman to the bed despite the pain in his heart for having to do so. But her extensive injuries had just been healed and she was close to undoing much of it. Her screams were the worse though. He had never heard anything more heartbreaking than Kathryn Janeway’s agonized screams. All the pain she had endured in the last seventy-four hours was held within those terrible screams that were torn from her throat.
Tom was knocked back to the floor when Janeway’s leg caught him hard in the stomach. The air rushed out of him, but he recovered quickly and moved to the head of the bed. He pressed the hypospray to Janeway’s neck and with a hiss of the medicinal transfer she fell instantly into unconsciousness. Her arms were slowly and gently placed to her sides and then released.
“What do we do now?” Tom’s eyes were wide and panicked as he looked from Janeway’s prone form to the Doctor. His voice was shrill and desperate. “What do we do, Doctor?”
The Doctor pulled the blanket that had been kicked off back over the captain. He watched her still features for a moment before he pulled his dark, worried eyes up to meet Tom’s. “I don’t know.”
Kathryn Janeway did not want to be awake. She wanted to be dead. So she wouldn’t have to keep hearing that evil woman’s voice tormenting her. Or remembrances of a torture so terrible she feared she would never feel anything good again. She knew it was the Doctor and Tom again, but that didn’t slow her labored breathing or the tension in her body as they moved closer to her. Their expressions were worn, troubled and anxious. She felt a soft touch on her leg that was encased in a metal brace. She tried to move away from the maddening touch, but couldn’t get her limbs to work. She used her voice instead.
“Don’t!” Janeway used her arms and upper body to move up on the bed and hopefully away from the hand on her leg. “Don’t touch me.”
“Captain, I—I just need to make sure your leg is healing properly.” Despite his words, the Doctor quickly removed his hand as if it had just been scalded.
“It’s fine.” Janeway’s voice was rough from screaming and from a pain that she was attempting to bury deep within herself. A defense against feeling it constantly. She knew it was futile, but she tried all the same. “What’s the status of my ship?”
An ice cold feeling fell to the pit of Tom’s stomach. He had never heard Janeway sound so cold, so detached before. His voice was uneven as he answered. “Voyager’s fine, Captain. The crew is just worried about you.”
He knew it was the wrong thing to say even as the words left his mouth. She looked incensed, which he thought was only mildly better than the disconnected expression she had previously.
“We’re a long way from getting home, Mr. Paris. The crew would do well to worry about our mission.” Janeway’s chest rose and fell heavily with each angered breath she took. She knew it was wrong for her to punish Tom and the Doctor, but she couldn’t seem to stop herself. “As for me, I’d like to get back to my Bridge.”
“Captain, wait!” The Doctor looked horrified as Janeway proceeded to try to maneuver herself off of the biobed. “You’ve been through a terrible ordeal—”
Janeway’s voice sharpened into points of deadly ice as she looked derisively at the Doctor. “I’m quite aware of the ‘ordeal’ I’ve just been through, Doctor.”
“Captain, please, if you would just—”
The Doctor’s pleading words were interrupted by B’Elanna’s frantic voice over the comm. “Doctor! My water just broke!”
“Site to site transport, Mr. Paris!” The Doctor moved swiftly around the Sickbay to gather the equipment needed for B’Elanna’s labor.
While the Doctor and Tom were hastily preparing for B’Elanna’s arrival, Janeway managed to get herself into an upright position. She couldn’t walk and she knew it. And something made her want to stay. To see a new life being brought into the world. A new hope.
“We’re not cold blooded killers, Seven. No matter what has happened, we don’t seek revenge.” Chakotay knew the desire for revenge was burning within him as well, but he had a responsibility to the crew and to its captain. “We’ve resumed our course to the Alpha Quadrant per the captain’s orders. I’m sorry.”
And he was. He wanted those that had hurt Kathryn so terribly to suffer as well. For them to fear for their own lives. He wouldn’t have hesitated if he was still a Maquis captain, but as the First Officer he had to defer to Janeway’s orders. And her orders were not to pursue.
A small muscle in Seven’s jaw twitched visibly as her anger made her usually even tones rough and livid. “They must pay for what they’ve done. For what they did to Captain Janeway.”
Chakotay had to bite his tongue in order to not voice his agreement. He stood his ground and remained unemotional in the face of Seven’s fury. “It’s over, Seven.”
Seven’s body shook with the power of her rage, her chest heaved with the labored breaths she was taking in, but her voice was low, almost quiet. “You are wrong, Commander.”
Seven didn’t wait to hear anything more Chakotay had to say. He was now irrelevant. She left the Briefing room quickly, crossed the Bridge without giving anyone as much as a glance. They were irrelevant too. There was only one individual who mattered.
The lights of the Sickbay were dim and Seven was aware that the Doctor was with B’Elanna and Tom in the makeshift maternity ward the lab had been transformed into. Even through the faint lighting she could see Kathryn’s form perfectly. Seven’s heart filled with love and pain as she moved slowly towards the biobed.
Seven lowered herself carefully to the chair next to Janeway’s sleeping form. She smiled, a sad small smile, as she brushed auburn strands of hair away from Janeway’s still features. Seven felt anger mix with her love and pain as her fingers brushed across the thick scarring that surrounded the healing patch over Janeway’s left eye. Unlike the others, Seven knew exactly how it felt to experience what Kathryn had when her eye had been so savagely destroyed. Seven moved her hand to enclose around one of Kathryn’s. She brushed her thumb tenderly over the pale skin of Kathryn’s hand as she spoke words of love and devotion to the sleeping woman.
“What are you doing here?”
Seven was startled by Kathryn’s soft almost accusing voice. She had thought the captain was asleep. She overcame her surprise quickly and with words infused with anger and determination she spoke of her plans to the captain. “I will hunt them down and make them pay for what they did to you.”
“I told you to leave it alone and I expect you to do as I say.” Janeway looked upon Seven’s determined features and tried with all of her strength to feel the love for the other woman she had before the Kellidians had abducted her. But despite the pain and regret she felt in her heart she couldn’t.
“Please, Kathryn. I love you. Allow me to do this for you.” Seven held Janeway’s hand between her own and brought her lips down to pale knuckles. She pressed her lips upon them until Kathryn forcibly pulled her hand from Seven’s grasp. “Kathryn?”
Janeway’s next words were harsh, cold, and above all destructive. “The woman you loved died on that ship. When she cried out for you and you never came.”
Blood pounded loudly in Seven’s ear as she felt the air rush out of her lungs. Her head snapped back as if she had just been struck. She stood abruptly from the chair and felt her heart shatter. She had failed Kathryn, she had failed her captain.
Janeway turned her head away. She couldn’t look at Seven, see her pain. She knew she had done the right thing despite the cost to her own heart, her own sanity. Seven deserved to be loved by someone who could still feel it. A single tear fell when Janeway heard the closing of the Sickbay doors that sounded Seven’s hasty retreat.
Almost two days passed since Janeway had last spoken to
Seven in any other capacity than as captain.
She still remembered her harsh words, but she couldn’t regret it or she
would be defeated. She had to let Seven
go. The chime of her Ready room door
brought her out of her reverie. Janeway
quickly adjusted her features to one of complete impassivity.
Naomi Wildman stood nervously in the doorway with a large PADD shaking in her hands. She took a deep breath before she entered the Ready room.
Usually Janeway felt overwhelming warmth whenever she saw Naomi, but now she felt nothing but wariness. “What can I do for you, Miss Wildman.”
“Captain, I just wanted to—to give you this. It’s a get well present.” Naomi carefully approached the captain who was seated behind her desk with a hard expression that made Captain Janeway look cold and unkind.
Janeway took the proffered PADD cautiously as she spoke a soft, flat thank you. Her breath held as she looked down at the holoimage of her and Seven at Seven’s get well party. It was a beautiful image that unexpectedly showed clearly the love they had for each other. Janeway felt something growing within her as she kept staring at the photo. It was an awful sort of anger.
The PADD smashed against the wall next to the Ready room door. The sound was so harsh it made Naomi jump. Naomi turned and she ran. She ran as fast as she could. And she didn’t look back.
“Naomi!” Janeway finally came back to herself and realized what she had done. She shot up from her chair intending to go after the frightened girl. To apologize. But she put too much pressure on her injured leg and tumbled to the floor.
“Damn it!” Janeway rolled onto her back, her breathing labored and sweat formed on her brow. She tried to push away the pain in her leg as she moved herself into a seated position. Her back was against her desk as she tried to calm her breathing and regain her strength. She reached for the metal cane she despised as her door chime sounded.
“Just a minute.” Janeway’s voice was frustrated as she used the cane to lift herself onto her feet. She braced herself upon it as she schooled her features and calmed her voice. “Come in.”
If Tuvok noticed anything amiss as he entered the captain’s Ready room he betrayed nothing on his impassive features. Janeway gained great strength from his composure, logic and especially his unemotional response to her condition.
“What can I do for you, Tuvok?” Janeway still wanted to apologize to Naomi for her outburst, but she could tell something was troubling her friend.
“My letter of resignation, Captain.” Tuvok held out a PADD that was not immediately taken.
“What?” Janeway’s response was expelled on a breath. She felt numb as she took the PADD from Tuvok.
“I am no longer able to act as your tactical officer.” Tuvok waited for his captain to respond, but when she only stared at him with a look of confusion, with a hint of betrayal, he knew he had to elaborate. “I have a degenerative neurological disease.”
“Tuvok…” Janeway wanted to embrace her friend, to tell him they would fight with everything they had to cure him, and that she loved him. But she couldn’t. She felt nothing but a coldness suffusing her and the heavy weight of guilt pressing down upon her. She also knew he wouldn’t appreciate an emotional display in this vulnerable time. Her words might have seemed cold, but she knew he needed her to be dispassionate. “I’ll need your command codes.”
“Warning: Regeneration cycle incomplete.”
Seven became alert instantly and looked upon the person who had interrupted her regeneration cycle. “State your intentions.”
Icheb was cast in green light as he stood in front of Seven and the active Borg alcove. His voice was unwavering and held great purpose. “I’ve located the Kellidians who had escaped.”
Seven felt a rush of adrenaline course through her as she moved quickly towards Icheb. She took the proffered PADD from his hands, before she held his attention with her commanding tone. “You must not tell anyone you assisted me.”
“I want to come with you.” Icheb seemed to age before Seven’s eyes as he stood rigidly with hard determination on his features. “Please. Let me help you.”
“No. I must do this alone.” Seven placed her hands hesitantly upon Icheb’s shoulder though her expression was earnest and filled with pride. “Never forget that I will always love you.”
As he watched Seven quickly leave Cargo bay two, Icheb could have no idea that he would be the last person onboard Voyager to see her alive. If he had perhaps he would have replied with something more meaningful or at least original than I will comply.
“Warning hull integrity at forty-seven percent.”
Seven had made one fatal mistake, she had underestimated the Kellidians. Her shuttle had been no match for theirs. Perhaps if she had been able to use the Delta Flyer she would have been more successful, but Lieutenant Foster’s team was still two days away from rendezvousing with Voyager. Seven hadn’t had the time or patience to wait. The Kellidians might have escaped if she had.
She had managed to inflict considerable damage to the Kellidian vessel, but she wanted it destroyed. She had no weapons, so she used the only thing she could, her own shuttle.
“I love you, Kathryn.”
The small Federation shuttle collided with force into the Kellidian ship. The ensuing destruction of Seven’s ship caused a blue explosion to envelop and destroy the Kellidian ship as well.
Seven’s final thoughts were on the woman who had saved her so many times over. Kathryn had risked everything; she had even gone up against the Borg Queen, to save her. Seven recalled how soft Kathryn’s lips were pressed to her own and regretted only that they had never made love, despite how much she knew they loved each other. And despite Kathryn’s harsh words, Seven knew she was still loved and even if she wasn’t she would love Kathryn always. Nothing, perhaps not even death, could take that away from her. Seven just wished she had had more time.
Captain Janeway stood quite stiffly; her features were impassive and hard, as she watched the torpedo casing drift farther away from Voyager. It was a symbol more than anything else, since there was nothing left of Seven except for residual bio-signatures.
The memorial service, like Seven’s life was short but memorable. Janeway had done her duty as captain and had spoken with as much emotion as she would allow others to see. She had extolled Seven for her compassion, her brilliance, and her strength. She was aware that her crew wanted more, perhaps needed more, but she had nothing else to give them. Her heart was surrounded by thick walls of ice that had been erected to save herself after Seven’s death and her previous ordeal.
During her torture she had tried to block out the constant pain by thinking of something else, anything else, but it didn’t work. Thoughts of Seven had just increased the pain. So over the course of those three horrific days she had forced herself to forget to feel, to love, so she might survive. So now, even with the gaping hole in her chest that caused more pain than anything bodily could, Janeway forced herself to be the stalwart captain for her crew and for herself. And not the woman who had just lost her soul in the death of a former Borg drone she had loved so fully, so powerfully, that she had once feared she would be consumed by it. She just wished they had had more time.
(to be continued)
(to be continued)