Some people take holoadventures to ease the boredom that sometimes permeates the air on board. With the exception of a few programs, I rarely use the holodeck.
However, for me, breaking the mold sometimes consists of having my butt soundly defeated by BíElanna at Hoverball. Though I admit, it gets my mind off other matters. It is for me, a great deal of fun.
So, thatís what I had been indulging in when we were called to the bridge. We entered the lift.
"Bridge. I had you just where I wanted you."
"What are you talking about? I was ahead." BíElanna said, slipping on her vest. "19 to 7."
"I was just lulling you into a false sense of security."
"Sure you were." Sheís been taking lessons from Kathryn. She had her hands on her hips in the patented ĎJaneway denialí mode.
"Iíll win the next couple of points, then youíll start to tense up."
"I do not . . . tense up." BíElanna said. Yep, studying Janeway Denial 101.
"Easy BíElanna. Itís only hoverball." And I exited the lift, arriving on the bridge. "You wanted to see us, Captain?"
"Yes, Commander." Kathryn began. "We picked up an intriguing transmission."
"I have a source on the signal." Tuvok said.
"A ship?" Kathryn asked.
"Negative. It appears to be a beacon of some kind." Tuvok answered.
"A beacon?" I asked.
"Weíre being hailed by someone using a Federation signal." He clarified the matter greatly.
I didnít want to think about that one. Oh, the possibilities: One, there was another Federation ship. Or two, the one I didnít want to think about, but was at the back of my mind.
For a brief second, my stomach turned. Trouble filled the air.
"Maybe Star Fleet found a way to get a probe here." Paris announced. "Maybe theyíre looking for us."
"Iíd like to believe that, too." Kathryn said, seriously. "But letís not jump to conclusions."
"See if you can authenticate the signal." I added. Oh, the feeling of this being anything but Federation gnawed at me.
"The carrier wave frequency does correspond to standard Star Fleet security codes." Tuvok said, reading over his instruments.
"As of when?" Kathryn asked him.
"According to the encryption key, this particular key was not scheduled for implementation until Stardate 48423."
"Thatís a month after we left Deep Space Nine." Harry said. "They must be looking for us."
"Your optimism may be premature, Mr. Kim." Kathryn pointed out.
"Sorry, Captain." He said.
"But itís also infectious." Kathryn said, teasing Harry a bit. "Mr. Paris, lay in a course for the beacon."
We went for it, hoping for the best. But wariness had settled within me. That infamous sixth sense that keeps us going and keeps us from huge mistakes. And I felt this was a huge mistake.
We approached, only to find out that it was lodged within an ionized hydrogen cloud. Harry suggested that we lock onto it and beam it aboard.
"Iíd advise against bringing it on board," I said. "Before weíve gotten a look at it, even if it is emitting a Federation signal."
"Agreed." Kathryn said. "And I donít want to plod lightly into a hydrogen cloud, either." She strode across the back of the bridge. "Mr. Tuvok, tractor the probe into sensor range."
Tuvok began to bring it out when the whole ship shook. We were taking fire from inside the cloud. Kathryn had us go to battle stations. Oh joy, a Kazon raider ship. They werenít responding to hails. Kathryn told Paris to go to warp 3. The next hit however, knocked out warp drive before we could even begin to get out of there. She had Tuvok fire, with the Kazon in pursuit.
They kept adjusting their weapons to our shield harmonics. I couldnít compensate and I didnít know why. It was if they knew our access codes. Then a smaller ship emerged from the cloud.
We had a hull breach on deck four, with power down on that deck. The hull was buckling, with Harry desperately trying to re-route power.
Then our computer informed us we had intruders in Cargo bay 2. Oh, was Kathryn upset and pissed, a lethal combination, if there were such a thing. To be truthful, I hope Iím never on the receiving end of one of her moods.
Paris said we werenít going anywhere with that Kazon shuttle sticking out of our side. It was destabilizing our warp field. Then I noticed additional power in Transporter room 2. I asked Harry if he was done. At his reply, I hailed Tuvok, letting him know we had possible intruders there.
He hailed the bridge, saying that the Kazon had just beamed away and taken one of the transporter modules with them. We couldnít beam it back because when they took it, we lost all transporter power. Kathryn told me to get a tractor beam on them. They were about to go to warp when Kathryn ordered me to hurry. Tractor established. They thendecided to hail us.
It was Mahj Cullah. What a surprise (insert sarcastic voice of mine here). A combination of honey and venom dripped from his voice. From past experience, Kathryn did not think too highly of him and didnít fail to let it come out through her own voice.
"Captain Janeway. First Mahj Cullah, of the Kazon Nistram."
"I remember you, Cullah." Though her back was turned, I wonder if she was using the Ďdeath glareí on him. "That transporter module youíve just stole was specifically designed for our ship. Youíll never be able to integrate it into your systems."
"Iíve had some help updating our technology since we last met." He motioned to someone beyond the range of the viewer. That sinking feeling was there again. I knew who was helping them.
I rose from my seat. "Seska." Kathryn breathed.
"Thatís right, Captain. As you can see, Iím in the process of restoring my Cardassian physiology." She leaned closer. "Hello, Chakotay." I couldnít believe that Iíd ever been involved with that.
"I should have known you were involved." Shouldíve? Hell, thatís what that gnawing feeling was.
"Yes, you should have. Just like I knew youíd try to stop us with a tractor beam. Youíve always been so predictable." She did something to the controls in front of her and Harry reported she was sending a feedback loop through their deflector grid.
"Attempting to compensate." I said, sitting back down.
"Goodbye, Chakotay. Lovely to see you again." And the transmission faded. Oh hell, what was I going to do now? Never before had I had the urge to be sick . . . and right about this time, I felt like it.
We went to investigate the shuttle the Kazon had plowed, gauged, into our side. Neelix said that heíd never seen the Kazon do something like that.
"Until now, the Kazon have never had an advisor with Cardassian, Maquis and a Star Fleet tactical experience." Tuvok commented. Believe me, if I had had any idea that she was Cardassian, she would have been still terrorizing the Alpha Quadrant.
Harry and BíElanna said our power would be down and weíd harm the ship if we tried to dislodge it. They had hurt us bad.
Kathryn ordered us to get that ship out, that we couldnít afford to let the Kazon get too far ahead of us. Neelix asked her if she thought going after the Nistram was such a good idea. After all they had done to us.
She turned around and I saw it written on her face, just as plain as the wreck in front of us: She was pissed, upset, embarrassed. Oh, God, this was all my fault. Iíd brought Seska onto her ship. Iíd believed in her when all the indicators pointed to her.
"Let me make something very clear. The Nistram are in possession of Federation Technology. That is an unacceptable situation." Kathrynís voice sounded of very tight control.
"Even though all theyíve stolen is a small computer component?"
"That small component has the potential to cause vast problems in this quadrant. Youíre our resident expert on the Kazon. What do you think the other sects will do when they realize the Nistram have transporter capabilities?" Yep, she was mad.
"Theyíll try to get it for themselves any way they can. Youíre right, it could alter the balance of power amongst the sects." He knew too.
"Exactly. And itís our duty to do everything we can, no matter how dangerous, to stop that from happening."
"You can count on me, Captain." Neelix replied enthusiastically.
I rubbed my ear, mulling over what Kathryn had just told Neelix. "From the look of these sensor readings, Seska wants us to come after her."
"Commander?" I met her part way.
"I think Seska is leading us into another trap. She masterminded a precision raid that made us look like first year academy students. But she left a warp trail for us to follow. After such a flawless performance, why would she suddenly make that kind of mistake?"
"You think she wants more then the transporter?" Kathryn said, reading between the lines. I gave her a nod of agreement. "Are you suggesting that we donít follow her?"
"No, I agree with everything you said about preventing the spread of our technology. But conventional tactics arenít going to work with Seska. Weíll need to come at her with few surprises of our own." It was plain, simple, to the point, exactly what Kathryn needed to know.
"Iím open to suggestions." Kathryn said.
"Perhaps Commander Chakotay could use his intimate knowledge of Seska, to manipulate her, much in the same way she manipulated us." I turned around to face him and Iím sure if looks could kill, Tuvok would have been one dead Vulcan.
But he was right. However, my mind was taking the necessary steps to do unto Seska as had done unto us.
Because I agreed with Kathryn.
Please forgive me, Kathryn. Iím only going to do what needs to be done to set things right.
I needed to do this. BíElanna would help me; at least unknowingly.
"The module Seska stole contains a quantum resonance oscillator," BíElanna said entering engineering and heading toward the lift to take us down to the next level. "So, we modify this coil scanner to detect the oscillator. Then we get close enough to beam it back." We began going down.
"Iím betting Seskaís figured out away to shield the module from our transporters. We may have to destroy it instead."
"How do we do that?" She asked.
"We borrow a trick from Seskaís book. Remember how we disabled the computer core on the Cardassian freighter orbiting Bajor?"
"Seska modified an antiproton beam to penetrate itís shields and hull."
"Exactly." I said.
"But if I remember correctly, the beam was only effective from an extremely close range. How do we get close enough to the Nistram ship?"
"One thing at a time." I said, noting that she put down the coil scanner.
"Your taking this all rather personally, arenít you?" Leave it to BíElanna to get to the heart of the matter.
"Why shouldnít I?" I answered, a little short in my words.
"You are not responsible for what happened."
"Oh, no?" I faced her. "I let her join the Maquis. I took her into my confidence. I even got . . . intimately involved with her."
"So you have lousy taste in women. Look, Chakotay, she fooled us all. She was my best friend. At least thatís what I thought."
"Well, I for one am through being manipulated by her." I said.
"Are you sure?" BíElanna asked. "Because sheís affecting you. Thatís just where she wants you. Donít tense up." I looked at her then. BíElanna know me sometimes too well.
"So now Iím getting advice about controlling my emotions from you." The tension at least for now was thinner. But that wasnít going to stop me. I knew I had to go after Seska.
I went back to the bridge. Paris was reporting that there was a gap in the warp signature. This automatically had Kathrynís attention and she rose from her command chair. I joined her on the command level as Harry reported that we had detected debris. Kathryn ordered us to put it on screen.
We didnít know what it was, so Kathryn had Harry magnify it so she could see what was floating in space. I wish we hadnít. And from the look on Kathrynís face, I could tell she wished we hadnít also.
Kathryn had them beamed to sickbay, the bodies of two dead Kazon. The doctors conclusion: They were beamed into space and they were alive at the time. Apparently Seska had managed to integrate the transporter into their system and had been experimenting.
Neelix then said something that made sense. He was our expert on the Kazon. He said he wasnít sure that these men had died by accident. His sash indicated that he was the First Mahj of the Rilaura. That Seska and Cullah had used the transporter to execute these two Kazon.
I had to stop this insanity.
When Kathryn called a meeting of the senior staff for a brainstorming, I was in engineering with BíElanna, working on the modifications. I told her to go ahead, for I didnít want to include her in this scheme of mine.
I took the coil scanner, used my command authority, and took a shuttle. I was responsible, I was the one who let myself be fooled by this woman. Come hell or high water, she wasnít going to get away with this. Kathryn was so right about what our technology could do to the balance of power.
Oh, I knew if I made it back alive, Kathryn would have my hide, but it would be a small price to pay. I would take it if she took away my field commission. I would sit in the brig the next seventy years. But Iíll be damned if Seska was going to play me or Kathryn for fools anymore.
And here I was, almost hoping I wouldnít make it back.
Iíve seen Kathryn angry, she is one woman I donít know if I can face when I get home.
I installed the coil scanner and asked the computer when we would intercept the Kazon vessel.
"Approximately thirty minutes." It replied. I got to work.
Too proud. Too humiliated. Too mad.
Forgive me, Kathryn. Forgive me for what Iím about to do.
"Computer, when will we enter the Kazon scanner range?"
"Approximately six minutes."
"Reduce power to maneuvering thrusters and life support to five percent. Cut all power to other systems." Show time. If Seska could be sneaky, so could I. I snuck through their sensor range and came up on their underside.
"Computer, initiate continuous scans for the transporter oscillator."
"Initiating scans." It replied.
"Come on, Seska. Where did you hide that module?" Damn it! She was throwing out polaron pulses, enough to find me.
"Come on, find it!" I said, hoping I was quick enough.
"Hello, Chakotay. Very clever maneuvering, but Iím not about to let you ruin all my hard work." I didnít respond. She knew I was there. I was patient, hoping to find that module. I wasnít disappointed.
"Gotcha!" I said, smiling to myself. Then I was hit. "Computer, power the anti-proton generator."
"Target a concentrated beam to these co-ordinates."
"Initiate." I said.
"The generator is off-line." Damn and double damn.
"Great!" I hesitated. My butt was cooked. "Computer, launch the automated message beacon."
"Now take the inertial dampners off-line." I knew they would tow the shuttle on board, but I had a surprise or two waiting for them. This man would not be going anywhere quietly. Iíd snuck up behind her as she was giving her order to find me.
"Iím right here." And I fired my phaser, destroying her prize toy that she had stole from us. I slapped my comm badge and ordered the message beacon activated. My last hurrah, you may say, to Kathryn and Voyager. I walked right up to her, the phaser pointed at her head. Oh, she was scared. "Lovely to see you again." Yeah, the real her. Hard to imagine ever being intimate with that.
But in the end, I knew was outmatched, out maneuvered. I handed over my phaser in surrender, not for any lingering feelings for her. Those had died a long time ago, if they had ever been anything other then lust in the first place.
However, I did have one hope for getting out of this alive. The message beacon. Despite what my message was, Kathryn was persistent, she would come after me. My message:
"Chakotay to Voyager: If this signal has been activated, it means Iíve destroyed the Nistrams transporters capabilities. Captain I apologize for acting without authorization, but I ask you not to put the ship and crew in furthers jeopardy by attempting to rescue me. Itís unlikely that Iím still alive." Iíd set it for automatic playback.
I hope you donít come, Kathryn. But in my heart I hope you do.
I was taken and by God, I was going to fight to my last breath. I knew it was a losing battle, but to hell with honor. Here, Iíd die. On Voyager Iíd have to face the piper in a command uniform much like my own.
Bound they left me alone with Seska. Anything but that. She told me I was lucky because of her influence, that Cullah had wanted to execute me right away. Influence? Hah! Didnít take a genius to tell me where her influence lay.
"Lucky me." Being interrogated by her was not my idea of dying with any shred of honor. She offered me a drink. No thanks. I wanted to be a sane state of mind for whatever was to come.
She thought that Kathryn would have made me soft, that I needed a little slap to get the Maquis in me fighting again. How wrong and assuming that Cardassian bitch is. Enough of this crap.
"I have no interest in reminiscing with you. I destroyed the transporter module. The games over."
Oh, she thought she had it. The shuttle, all the technology within it. Wrong. I wiped the entire memory bank before I beamed over to the Kazon ship. I might be down, but I wasnít going down with the hands of power being with this woman. "If youíre going have me killed, just do it." I said.
Oh, now we playing hardball, and I didnít like the way the points were going. God help me, they had me, within me, the command codes to Voyager. They werenít going to kill me, not now. Why should they? Theyíd torture me till either I died or I revealed those codes. If I knew Kathryn, sheíd probably already changed over mine for general reasons. At least I hope so.
Well, at least nice to know I wasnít that good, that I was a diversion to her. That I would give her Voyagers command codes. No. Not until hell froze over and Cardassianís could ice skate. She then told me half a dozen Kazon ships were joining them to take Voyager. Why tell me, I asked.
"Iím not a monster." Had me fooled.
"Iím touched." I said at her little speech. I told her Voyager wasnít coming, that I told them not to. That infuriated her. She told me Voyager wouldnít leave her first officer in the hands of the Kazon. Nice threat, that Cullah would make me wish I had given her the command codes.
Then the beating began. Seska telling me to just tell Cullah what he wanted to know. From what Iíd seen of the Kazon, pride was big with them, like honor to a Klingon. I started taunting him, tales of Seska, what she would do with a man. From their expressions, hers and Cullahís, I was striking a chord. If I could only keep it up, maybe Kathryn would rescue me.
She was using him, for more then sheíd ever used me. Then he was through playing games. They injected something into my neck. An agent to make me tell him the command codes. But I kept my thoughts on the dark side, of Seska.
They left me, and she did something to me, put something into my neck and oh, lord did it hurt.
If youíre coming for me Kathryn, hurry.
They brought me to where Cullah was meeting with the other Kazon sects cohort. Thatís all I truly remembered for quite some time.
And I awoke in sickbay.
Time to face the music.
"Just tell me one thing," Kathryn said. "What were you thinking?" She didnít seem overly upset. Yet.
"About keeping our technology out of Kazon hands. I thought if I did it on my own, I could keep the rest of the crew out of danger." ĎAnd youí, I thought silently.
"That might be a very noble sentiment, but it wasnít your decision to make." I didnít know what say, I couldnít look her in the eye. I was wrong and I had messed up big. "Oh, Chakotay, weíve spent the last ten months together on this ship. I thought we had an understanding, why did you choose to ignore procedure?"
I stepped forward, finally looking her in the eye. "Seska was my problem, a problem I thought was my duty to solve."
"So you had a . . . personal score to settle." What doesnít this woman see.
"I thought I was doing the right thing." I admitted.
"Really?" Kathryn got up. "Tell me this." As she came around her desk to stand in front of me. "How do you expect me to keep order when the first officer takes it upon himself to run off like some cowboy because he decides itís a good idea? What you did was commendable. The way you did it was not." During that whole chewing, I couldnít look her in the eye.
"You set a terrible example. And on a personal level, youíve made my job more difficult."
"If thatís so, I regret it." It was all I could say. She wasnít angry, just disappointed. And that hurt a lot more then if she had just blown up at me.
"Iím putting you on report, in case that means anything anymore."
I thought quickly. "It means something to me, Captain. It means Iíve let you down. And for that , Iím truly sorry." Iíd let down the one person I had swore to stand beside. I was more sorry then she could ever know. Before any more could be said, we were being hailed by Tuvok, saying something to the affect that weíd better get on the bridge. Kathryn turned on her heel and left, myself hesitating only a few seconds before following her.
Another automated beacon. To me from Seska. What was left for her to do to me?
That mocking voice, congratulating me on my victory. Well, low and behold, when I was unconscious, she took the Ďlibertyí of extracting some of my DNA. I knew she was low, but to impregnate herself with it. Oh lord, she was going to keep me tethered to her as long as possible.
I should have just killed her when I had the chance.
But no longer my responsibility.
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