By Maquis Leader
Chapter 2: Captives
They beamed down to a dusty clearing, their belongings piled around them. Cavit was talking with one of the Kazon, and several officers with phaser rifles flanked him. After a moment he turned and walked to where Kathryn stood.
“I guess this is goodbye, Janeway.”
“You’ll never make it back, not without us.”
“Isn’t this what you wanted? You and your Maquis lover can settle here and live happily ever after.”
She watched him call for a beam up. “I’ll get Voyager back. Watch for me.”
“Over my dead body.”
As the Starfleet officers shimmered away, the Kazon warriors advanced on them. Without their communicators they were unable to understand what the warriors were saying to them. After some initial pushing and shoving, they began gathering up the bundles around them and moved down the roadway.
Seska took Chakotay’s arm. “Not you, lover. We get special treatment.”
“What are you talking about?” He stopped.
“I managed to sneak a few things off Voyager before Cavit gassed us.” She pressed herself against him. “A few replicators, some phasers. They’re going to take care of us.”
“And who takes care of the others?” He stared at her, trying to find the woman he had once cared for inside the snake standing before him now.
“Who cares? They can fend for themselves!” She twined her arms around his neck. “Me and you, lover, that’s all that matters.”
Jerking her arms loose, he picked up his belongings again. “You make me sick.”
“Chakotay, wait!” She clutched at his arm. “I love you!”
“Heya!” He shook his head. “Hecheto aloe.” He walked away from her.
Seska watched him catch up to Kathryn and take one of the bags she was struggling with. “It’s far from over, Chakotay.”
They trudged up the road for almost a kilometer until they came to a group of buildings. There were rows of small cabins clustered around a large central square. Three larger buildings sat at the far end of the camp.
Setting down her bundles, Kathryn started issuing orders. “Tuvok, assemble a team and scout out enough empty cabins grouped together for us. Tom, you and Neelix, you’re the guys to find out what’s going on around here.” Without their communicators, Voyager’s crew would have to rely on Neelix’s command of the local languages.
“Yes, ma’am.” Tom grabbed Harry’s arm. “Let’s go.”
Tuvok picked four of his security team and they moved away in the direction of the cabins.
“Everyone else, take a seat.” She plopped down on the ground.
Chakotay sat next to her. “I get the feeling this isn’t going to be like summer camp.”
“Probably not. Look up on the hillside.” She pointed. “Are those mines?”
“Looks like it.” He looked around. “They’ve got to have ships somewhere. If we can steal one – “
“If we had weapons. We’ll have to get those first.”
“First we have to survive.” He patted her on the shoulder. “One step at a time.”
One of Tuvok’s team came trotting back. “Captain, there’s a group of cabins we can move into. If you’ll follow me.”
“You heard him, people, let’s move out.” Kathryn got to her feet and offered Chakotay a hand. “What did you say to Seska back there?”
“Hecheto aloe. That it was finished.”
“Very expressive language. Two words with a wealth of contempt.” She smiled. “You’ll have to teach it to me.”
“I’ll be happy to teach you whatever you want to learn.” Smiling, he picked up his bundles again.
The cabins were small. There was one room with a small fireplace and cooking area. A small bathroom that contained only a sink and toilet was shared through an adjoining door with another cabin. Each cabin had a single bed. There was no tables or chairs.
“Lovely.” Kathryn turned to her crew. “Alright, everyone find a cabin.” She stepped into the doorway of the first one. “The other half of this unit we’ll use as a meeting room. Drop your bundles off there and we’ll sort them out later.”
Tuvok threaded his way through the group. “Captain, I’d like to take the cabins on the perimeter for my security teams and the other men. Female crewmembers will take the inner cabins.”
“Good idea. Who knows what we’re dealing with here.”
“Also, Captain, I believe Commander Chakotay should occupy the other half of this unit.”
The thought of sharing such a small space with Chakotay made her tremble. “No, Tuvok.”
The Vulcan didn’t look happy, but he nodded and walked away.
Chakotay followed her inside her cabin. “Kathryn, we don’t know how dangerous it may be here. I’d feel better if I were close enough to protect you.”
“It’s important that we maintain the command structure. The distance between the Captain and crew –“
He took her arm. “The distance between Captain and crew is part of the reason we’re here.” The look on her face told him that had stung. “I’m sorry. We both know Cavit couldn’t deal with being demoted for a Maquis terrorist.”
“You’re no terrorist, Chakotay.” She shook her head. “You know what the worst part is?”
“What?” He asked softly.
“There’s no bathtub.”
“The big buildings on the end are group showers and a supply depot.” Tom took a drink from a water bottle he’d acquired somewhere. “Once a month – as best I can figure their time – they give out some basic food staples.”
“And we have to make do with that and what we can scrounge out of the surrounding area.” Neelix added.
“There’s no guards?” Kathryn had already noticed there weren’t any fences or security.
“No need. The only way off the planet is the Kazon ships. They’re about 10 kilometers away and heavily guarded.” Tom shrugged. “Nobody bothers running away because the Kazon think it’s a sport to hunt down runaways.”
“So what exactly are we expected to do here?” Chakotay asked.
“Work six days a week in the cormalite mine or in the refinery. That’s the biggest building. The women generally work there.” Tom frowned. “It’s also a survival of the fittest kind of place.”
“We saw a guy getting beaten for his supplies. And women –“ Harry blushed. “Well, they’re not safe.”
“We will need to set up a watch system and see if we can arm ourselves.” Tuvok looked at the other senior officers gathered in the makeshift briefing room. “I suggest that female crew members do not go anywhere alone.”
“Agreed.” Kathryn forced down the headache that was threatening. “Anything else useful, Tom?”
“I think I can get us a tricorder. Seska stashed some to trade with the Kazon. I saw the container she had them in.”
“Do it, Tom. We’re going to need to know what’s safe to eat – a tricorder is a must. But be careful.” She waved everyone out. “Get settled, looks like we’ll all be working tomorrow.”
Chakotay waited as the others filed out. “Would you reconsider staying alone?”
“No. I’m not some helpless female, Chakotay, I’m a Starfleet Captain.”
“Tomorrow we make locks for the doors.” He hesitated in the doorway. “I’m in the cabin across the road if you need me.”
The next morning Kathryn was rudely awakened by her door bursting open and crashing against the wall. Rolling off the other side of the bed, she groped for a phaser that wasn’t there.
A Kazon stood in the doorway gesturing and shouting. Without her communicator, she didn’t understand the words, but the meaning was clear. Outside. Now.
She grabbed her boots and walked to the door, as she stepped past him, he swung the butt of his rifle into her back. Rolling as she hit the ground, Kathryn came up clutching her back. Chakotay helped her to her feet and let her lean against him as they were herded to the center square.
“Good morning!” Seska called cheerily. “Hope everyone had a good night’s sleep.” She looked the group over contemptuously. “You’re going to need it.”
The throbbing in her back faded and Kathryn stepped away from Chakotay. Glancing around, she saw her crew grouped around her. Most were rubbing their eyes and trying to force themselves awake.
Seska had several large Kazon warriors armed with phaser rifles with her. She gloated as she looked over her former companions. “From now on, you’ll work in the mines.” She looked pointedly at Kathryn. “All of you.”
“You sold us into slavery, you bitch!” Ayala rushed forward. A quick burst from one of the rifles cut him down.
“He’s only stunned. Next time, he’ll be dead.” Seska nudged his body with her boot. “You’ll work from sunup to sundown for six days. And if you think you don’t have to work, think again.” She pointed to where the Kazon were tying someone to a post in the center of the square.
They were forced to watch as one of the Kazon unhooked an ugly whip from his belt and began beating the man.
Kathryn planted herself firmly, holding down the bile that wanted to come up. Seska might think this would intimidate her – well it did – but damned if she’d let it show.
Kes gasped in unison with the screams and crack of the whip, clutching Neelix’s arms until the ordeal was over.
Seska’s face was flushed with excitement. Licking her lips as if she could taste the blood, she turned back to Voyager’s crew. “On the seventh day you get to rest. I suggest you take advantage of it.”
As she moved toward the small vehicle parked in the square, Kathryn noticed the combadge glittering on her shirtfront. “Wonder how she managed to keep that?”
“I shudder to think.” Chakotay answered.
They’d been forced to strip out of their uniforms and put on clothing Cavit’s men had brought them. Their belongings had been stuffed into packing bags and sent down with them. That didn’t include any Alpha Quadrant technology. Kathryn wondered if Cavit had recycled the holo album of her mother and Phoebe or simply spaced it. She shook herself mentally; she was too old to need to hear her mother’s voice.
She jumped. How long had she been standing there staring into space? “I’m sorry, Neelix, I didn’t hear you.”
“I’m going to see about getting the supplies. I’m taking Kes and a few others to help.”
Her stomach rumbled reminding her there’d been no dinner and no breakfast. Worse yet, no coffee. “Do it, Neelix, and see if you can find out how long it needs to last.”
“I’m afraid it won’t be enough. No one around here looks very well fed.” He pointed out the workers heading up the hill. “Or very clean.”
Kes hid a smile. Before joining Voyager’s crew, he hadn’t had a bath in months. “I’m sure we’ll make do.”
“Of course we will, sweetie!” He led her and the rest of his supply crew away.
Walking up the path toward the refinery building, Kathryn caught Tom’s arm. “I want you to find out anything you can to help us get the hell out of here.”
“Will do, ma’am.” He grinned. “You can count on me.”
She laughed and shook her head as he trotted off to catch up with Harry. Knowing Tom, he was probably already working on some scheme.
The path branched and the men continued up hill toward the mines while the women turned toward the refinery building. Inside they found several women sitting at benches hammering at ugly gray lumps of rock. A small man bustled over to them.
He motioned for them to get a hammer and pick from the tool bench, then waved them toward the tables. Waiting until they were seated, he demonstrated how to use the hammer to crack open the rock to reveal the gleaming green stone inside and how to use the small pick to prize it out. He put the cormalite in the bin in the center of the table and tossed the pieces of rock on the floor. A small child with a broom was sweeping up the floor.
Kathryn picked up a rock and her hammer, determined to set a good example. A quick peek at the other workers and she did her best to copy their method.
By the end of the day, Kathryn’s hands and fingers were raw and bleeding. She hissed in her breath at the stinging as Chakotay ran her hands under cold water.
“I’m sorry.” His own hands were blistered and raw from working with a pick and shovel all day.
Biting her lips, she looked around. Voyager’s crew was sprawled around the small stream just outside the camp. Some were attempting to wash off in the cold water while others had simply collapsed and fallen asleep. “We’re not doing very well.”
“We’ll adapt. We’ve got a tough crew.”
Tears burned her eyes at his soft confident tone. After one day she was ready to crawl under a rock and die. How could she expect everyone else to keep going?
“Did you eat lunch?”
“If you can call it that.” Kes had brought them a porridge made of something called leola root. “Nasty stuff, but better than nothing.”
“I’m sure it’s chock full of goodness.” His own stomach had barely held it down. “Needed sugar.”
She smiled, remembering his affection for sweets. “We’ll find some.”
“I hope so. What really worries me is salt.” He lifted her hands out of the water to see if he’d gotten all the grit out of the cuts. “We’ll be in big trouble if we don’t have any.”
“We’ll see if Neelix or Kes can help us locate salt or something salt-like. We also need gloves, soap, medical supplies – oh – toilet paper.”
Chakotay arched an eyebrow. That hadn’t occurred to him, yet. He looked at her hands again. “We need to pool our supplies. Any creams, lotions – something we can put on our hands – and cloth to tear into rags to wrap them with. If anyone has sewing supplies, we’ll need them.”
“To make gloves?” How exactly did one stitch gloves?
“And to stitch wounds.” They shared a look. Both knew sooner or later someone would be hurt.
“Here, Captain.” Kes knelt down beside them. “Lieutenant Yohanson had some medicated lotion. Ensign Wildman has some antiseptic spray, but only one container. Should we save it for something more serious?”
Taking some of the crème, Kathryn nodded and smiled up at her. “Yes, and thank you, Kes.”
“No need, we’re all in this together.” The Ocampa put a dollop of crème on Chakotay’s hands. Still smiling, she left to help someone else.
They sat in silence for a few minutes, each working the crème into their damaged skin.
“My mother had soft hands. She worked in her gardens, but my father always made sure she had the best gloves he could get for her.” Chakotay took Kathryn’s hands. “He made a lotion for her, rubbed it into her hands every night.”
“I remind you of your mother?”
“Hardly.” He smiled. “There was a widow I knew with soft hands, too.”
“Now I’m an old widow?” She chuckled.
“She was a young widow. A very attractive young widow.”
Kathryn caught her breath at the desire in his eyes. Looking back down, she watched the brown fingers working the crème gently into her skin.
“My father took great pride that my mother’s hands looked as if she had never worked a day in her life.” His jaw clenched. “I’m going to kill Cavit when we get Voyager back.”
“Get in line.”
As full dark descended, they roused the others and headed for their cabins. Neelix’s stood with the door open. He called to them as they approached. “I’ve got dinner ready! Everyone come grab a bowl!”
Wearily, Tom took a bowl and headed to his cabin. Opening the door, he stopped in shock. His belongings were scattered everywhere. “Son of a bitch!”
Harry came through the connecting bathroom. “My stuff is –“ He looked around. “You too, huh?”
Outside they heard angry voices as the others found their cabins ransacked as well.
Kathryn stood in the center of her cabin. She felt like crying. Felt like raging and screaming. Felt like killing somebody. Crying, screaming, and raging while killing somebody. Instead, she took a deep breath and squared her shoulders. First things first. Be strong now and cry later. Stepping outside, she waited until the angry voices died down. “Eat your dinner. Sort out what’s left and then hit the sack. Any medical supplies I want given to Kes in the morning.”
As the crew trudged to their cabins, Chakotay sat down on her doorstep. Taking a cautious bite from his bowl, he was surprised to find a pleasant tasting soup.
Kathryn sat down beside him. “I’m scared to ask what else can happen.”
“Then don’t. Eat.” He nudged her with his elbow. “It’s not bad.”
She ate mechanically. Spoon in bowl spoon in mouth. This was like some horrible survival training exercise gone bad.
“We’re going to need more substantial food than this.” Chakotay hit the bottom of his bowl much too quickly. “And more of it.”
“Neelix said they ‘scrounge’ in the countryside.”
“We’ll have to make snares and see if we can catch anything like a rabbit or squirrel. We’ll need some type of knife to skin them.” He sighed. Every time he thought of something they needed, there was always something else they needed to get that.
“Rock? The rock we’ve been working with is sharp. Maybe we can get some pieces big enough to make one.” She glanced over her shoulder at the mess. “Or fifty.”
“Good idea. There’s plenty of large pieces at the mine. Maybe some arrowheads, too.” Chakotay yawned. “See how much of my archery skill comes back. I used to be a pretty good shot.”
“Go to bed. We’ll talk tomorrow.” She took his bowl and walked back to Neelix’s cabin.
He watched her go. She walked as confidently as if she were walking the bridge on Voyager. A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. The Kazon would find out not to mess with Kathryn Janeway.
The next night, Kathryn looked up from the dinner Neelix had cooked to find Chakotay standing over her. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, just checking on you.” He sat down next to her.
She arched an eyebrow. “Checking on me?”
“How are your hands? I notice some of the other women here have gloves.” He frowned at the bloodstained wrappings on her hands. “Why don’t you ask for a pair?”
“I did. I don’t need gloves that bad.” At his puzzled look, she explained.
Catching the attention of one of the other women, Kathryn patted her hand. The woman looked confused. Motioning to the woman’s hands and then her own, she pantomimed putting on gloves.
Understanding dawned in the woman’s eyes. She tugged at the cuff of her glove and when Kathryn nodded, she pointed at the foreman.
Getting up, Kathryn walked to the foreman. Again she pantomimed putting on gloves.
He smiled and nodded. Motioning for her to follow, he walked toward the small office in the back of the building.
Following him inside, she jumped as he shut the door. “Okay, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.”
He pulled a pair of gloves out of a locked cabinet. Holding them up, he motioned for her to come closer.
As she reached out for the gloves, he grabbed her wrist. Jerking back, Kathryn found he was stronger than he looked. He pushed her against the wall and tried to press his mouth to hers.
Bringing the heel of her boot down on his instep, she was rewarded with a crunching sound and a howl of pain from the foreman. “Thanks, but I’ve changed my mind.” She ducked out of the office.
“I’ll kill him! Where is he?”
“Sit down!” Kathryn pulled Chakotay back down. “He’s a harmless little weasel.”
“He’ll be a dead little weasel!” He growled, black velvet eyes sparking with fury.
Rubbing his shoulders, she smiled to herself. He was gorgeous when he was angry. Where the hell did that come from? Kathryn Janeway behave yourself!
B'Elanna dropped down next to them. “I say we take the stinking gloves and stuff him in the collections bin.”
“Except that the Kazon protect him.” Chakotay looked at her hands. They were in better shape than Kathryn’s but not by much. “Tom’s found out about what happens to people who cross the foremen – nothing that’s very nice. However, he also found out they can be bribed.”
“Yeah, I noticed.” Kathryn snorted.
“Tomorrow’s our day off. I’m going to see what type of animals live around here. We need their skin to make gloves.”
“I’ll come with you, Chakotay.” B'Elanna offered. “I used to be pretty good at snagging treselrats.”
“Tuvok made a knife for me.” He pulled a stone blade out of his boot. Leather strips were wrapped around the handle to provide a sure grip. “I just hope I find something to use it on.”
“When are you going?”
“As soon as Tuvok wakes me up.” He sighed. “It’s too much to hope for that he’ll sleep in.”
They adjusted to the hard lifestyle over the next weeks and by the end of the first month had fallen into a pattern. The other workers discovered that the newcomers were protective of each other and theft or physical assaults wouldn’t be tolerated. B'Elanna had broken one man’s jaw and another’s arm when they tried to get too friendly one evening. They had been left alone after that.
Neelix and Kes were able to avoid working in the mine or refinery after Neelix began bribing both foremen with a hot lunch and dinner every day.
Rusty Starfleet survival training and childhood skills came into play as they combed the countryside for edible plants and animals. The stream yielded fish to add to the meager supplies provided by the Kazon. Small furry animals similar to rabbits and squirrels were snared to go into the stewpot and their hide was the perfect material for new gloves.
Tom had disappeared one night and reappeared the next with a tricorder. He also had a rudimentary layout of the Kazon base.
The skills Chakotay had learned as a child on Trebus made him the most useful member of the Voyager crew. True to his word, he was an expert shot with the bow he had crafted. Tuvok had taught archery at one time and as a Vulcan never forgot how to do anything once learned. Vorik had picked up the art of the bow quickly and the three of them used the day off to bring down big animals resembling a camel moose hybrid. The crew soon dubbed the ugly animals ‘moosels’.
To Kathryn’s embarrassment, she was a lousy hunter, couldn’t tell leola root from weeds, and couldn’t catch a fish if someone handed it to her. She was feeling sorry for herself, sitting alone on her doorstep when Chakotay came back from hunting one afternoon.
“Kathryn.” He settled down next to her. “Why aren’t you at dinner with the others?”
“I’m not hungry.”
“You’re not still pouting because that bark drink didn’t taste like coffee are you?”
“No.” She turned to look at him. “I don’t feel very useful.”
“Ah.” He’d heard about her effort at helping tan hides. “Maybe none of these new jobs fit you because you already have a job.”
“As what? Captain?” Her laugh was bitter. “With no ship? With no way out of here?”
“We’ll get out of here. We will get back to Voyager.” Chakotay took her hand in his. “The crew needs you to set an example. They look to you for strength and confidence.”
“All I’ve done so far is get us stranded 70,000 light years from home and dumped on some backwater mudball.”
“Haven’t we had this discussion?” He teased.
She squeezed his hand. On the one hand she was glad some things had turned out for the better, but on the other hand she’d like to be back home.
“Know what we found today?”
“No.” If it wasn’t coffee, she didn’t care.
“Honey, or something close.” He grinned at her. “I just need to figure out how to get the angry bees away from the hive.”
“We could use the netting we use for fishing. Make a beekeepers outfit.” Kathryn nudged him. “Leave it to you to find something sweet.”
“Self preservation. I don’t know if I can choke down another bowl of leola porridge without something to sweeten it with.”
“You’ve already made enough changes, you shouldn’t have to live without something sweet, too.”
He didn’t answer. Without vitamins, he’d had to add meat back into his diet. At first, he had hoped the fish would provide enough proteins and nutrients, but realized after he’d started getting muscle cramps and dizzy spells that he had no choice. “I always ask forgiveness of the animal’s spirit as my grandfather taught me.”
“Life is a circle, remember?”
“You’re a good student.” He just hoped their circle didn’t complete here.
“I’ve got a good teacher.” Kathryn loved his stories and the aspects of the medicine wheel fascinated her.
“Come, eat dinner.” Chakotay got up from the steps and held his hand out. “You spend too much time alone.”
Taking his hand, she let him pull her to her feet. For a moment she let him stand too close before stepping away. She knew the others were starting to pair off, but protocol forbid her to do the same. The night she and Chakotay had almost stepped over the line was a pleasant memory she would cherish but she was destined to be alone for the rest of her life.
They walked to the makeshift tables that had been constructed in front of their group of cabins. Accepting a platter of food from Neelix, Chakotay found a spot for himself and Kathryn to sit.
Sharing the platter, she felt a shiver every time their fingers brushed. It isn’t fair! She caught him looking at her, the dark eyes sad. She tried to smile, but couldn’t. Getting up, she walked back to her cabin.
Halfway there, Chakotay caught up to her. “Wait, we’re having a sing along tonight – Tom’s idea.”
“I’m going to turn in early. Tomorrow’s another long day. One thing I am good at is getting the cormalite out in big chunks.” She gave him a crooked smile.
“Kathryn, I wish you didn’t spend so much time alone. It’s not good for you.” He tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “There’s been talk about you living alone.”
“I’d think the crew would understand – “
“Not the crew. The men at the mines.”
“Oh, well, they’ve learned to leave us alone and Tuvok has guards posted.”
“They’re animals, Kathryn. They’ve forgotten what it’s like to be civilized people.” He put his hands on her shoulders. “They’ve noticed you because you’re keeping yourself separate, and like animals, they’ll eventually gather the courage to attack.”
“I’m safe, Chakotay. It’s not like I’m out wandering in the woods alone.”
“At least let me move into the other half of your cabin. We can use my cabin for meetings.”
“No. It wouldn’t be appropriate for us to share quarters.” She flushed. Fun but not appropriate.
“We’d only be sharing a bathroom.” He grinned. “What were you thinking?”
Her face was so red it hurt. “Not what you think.”
“Goodnight, Kathryn.” Pulling her to him, he gave her a hug and a soft kiss on the cheek.
Squeezing his shoulders, she gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. For a moment, she relaxed and allowed him to hold her. His muscles were hard and firm under her hands and it seemed as if strength flowed from him into her.
Chakotay’s hands settled on her lower back easing her closer until she was pressing against him and her breasts rubbed his chest. The feel of his erection pressing into her belly made her step back. “Goodnight, Chakotay.” Turning, she fled into her cabin.
With a sigh, he turned and walked across the roadway to his own cabin. Inside, he sat down at the small table he’d built out of scraps. On a piece of paper were the sketches he’d made of the bathtub he wanted to make for Kathryn. With no nails, he’d have to rely on a tongue and groove design and glue. He’d found the right wood to use and experimented with glues until he found one that water proofed and didn’t dissolve. His first few tries had leaked badly or just collapsed completely.
He smiled at the thought of Kathryn’s tub collapsing and dumping her on the floor. He’d pick up her wet naked body – his head jerked up. Was that a scream?
His door had been left open and the evening had been bringing in the sounds of the sing along. Laughing and shrieking drifted to him. Smiling, he returned to his work. A muffled scream brought him to his feet. That sounded close.
Outside, he stood frozen, listening intently. From across the roadway, he heard a thump and a crash. “Kathryn!” Racing to her cabin, he kicked the door open. Inside, she was struggling with three men who were holding her down on the bed while a fourth was cutting her clothes off.
With a roar he tackled the man holding the stone knife. Twisting the man’s wrist, he slammed it on the edge of the small hearth. A scream and crack of breaking bones and the knife clattered to the floor. Snatching it up, Chakotay kicked the man in the face as he got up. A weight crashed into his back and knocked him to his knees.
Kathryn watched as one of the men holding her ankles let go to jump on Chakotay’s back. Kicking up with her now free feet, she caught the one holding her right arm on the side of the head. When he staggered back and let go of her arm, she swung her fist into the other man’s face. Rough hands gripped her from behind.
Rolling with the blow, Chakotay brought the knife up to slash at his attacker’s face. Crimson blood dripped down on him and a scream made his ears ring. Throwing him to one side, he jumped to his feet to find Kathryn struggling with the last two attackers. He pulled the man off Kathryn’s back and punched him in the stomach. A quick combination and her would be rapist fell to the floor.
Kathryn grabbed the last man’s shirtfront and pulled his head down as she brought her knee up. There was a satisfying crunch as his face and her knee connected. A hand on her arm made her spin around.
Chakotay put his hands up and stepped back. “Easy, it’s okay. Help me drag them out.” He grabbed the groaning man lying by the hearth and pulled him toward the door.
Taking a hold of the one at her feet, she pulled him to the doorway. Kicking him in the ass, she laughed as he fell face first in the dirt roadway. “And don’t come back.”
Stepping back, she watched Chakotay toss the last two out. “Take them away.” He ordered Tuvok and two of his men who had come to investigate the noise. “And tighten the perimeter.”
“Understood, sir.” The Vulcan nodded. “A lapse in our security. I take full responsibility.”
“I don’t care about responsibility.” Chakotay wiped the blood off his face with his shirttail. “Make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Turning, Chakotay went back inside to find Kathryn sitting on the bed. “Pack your things.”
“Packing. Now.” He started packing up the clothing she had hanging on a makeshift clothes line in front of her fireplace.
“To go where?” Had he been hit in the head during the scuffle?
“To my cabin.” He tossed the clothing on the bed.
“Your cabin? I don’t think so!”
“Kathryn, you were almost – almost –“ he stood before her, fists clenched and face clouded with anger.
She leaned back, flinching involuntarily as he reached for her.
Gently and carefully, he cupped her face as if it were made of the finest porcelain and might shatter at his touch. “They would have raped you. Beaten you. Maybe killed you.” He said softly.
“I – I – it didn’t –“
“Kathryn, don’t you understand? The four of them would have taken turns using your body, degrading you in – I’ve seen what happens to women who’ve been gang raped. Don’t you understand what they would have done to you?”
“But they didn’t – “
“Only because I decided not to go back and join the others!” His hands tightened on her face. “No one would have heard you scream. No one would have been here to help you. Don’t you understand?”
“I understand, Chakotay. I – “ Kathryn stopped, noticing the red stains on his shirt for the first time. “You’re hurt! You’re bleeding!” She ran her hands over his chest and stomach searching for a wound.
“It’s not mine.”
“Thank God!” She threw her arms around him.
“Get your things. No more arguments. B'Elanna’s on the other side of the bathroom, consider her our chaperone.” Tugging the corners of her sheet and blanket together, he hefted the makeshift sack over his shoulder and walked out of her cabin.
Sighing, she gathered up what little he’d missed and followed him across the roadway and into his cabin.
“We’ll figure out where to put your things tomorrow.”
“I’ll take the west wing of the mansion.” She joked.
“I’m going to go get your mattress so I have something to sleep on.”
“Ah, I was wondering about that.” She didn’t need a mirror to know her face was red.
He returned and tossed her mattress on the floor next to the bed. “I’m sorry I raised my voice to you.”
“I should have listened to you. You tried to warn me.” Piling her clothes on the table, Kathryn helped him spread her sheet and blanket over the mattress.
“From now on, as far as they know, we’re a couple.” He raised a hand to silence her protests. ”The crew can know the truth if you’d like, but the scum that lives around here has to believe that if they touch you they answer to me.”
“And they’re scared of you are they?” Biting down on lip, she hid a smile at the picture of gentle Chakotay terrorizing his fellow workers.
“The men at the mine have learned to leave me alone.”
“Okay!” She threw her hands up in surrender. “Okay, I give up.”
“Let me look at your neck.” He crawled across to where she knelt tucking the corner of the sheet under the thin mattress.
Looking down, Kathryn saw that her shirt was sliced part way down the front and her bra was showing through the rent. She clutched the edges together. “You could have said something!”
“Honestly, I didn’t notice until just now.” He tipped her head back. “They nicked your skin when they cut your shirt.
“I didn’t feel anything.” The only thing she’d felt at the time was anger and fear.
Chakotay’s fingers were gently tracing the red mark sending a rush of fire racing through her. Scrambling up, she snatched up her nightgown and headed for the bathroom.
“Hmm?” He had been in that hazy place between awake and asleep.
“Thank you.” Kathryn’s voice was soft. “For saving me.”
“Go to sleep, Kathryn.” He smiled into the darkness.
“Goodnight, Kathryn, sweet dreams.”
The next morning, Chakotay was already dressed and outside by the time Kathryn woke up. Grateful for his consideration, she dressed quickly and went outside to join him for breakfast.
There were sidelong looks from some of the crew as he put his arm around her waist when they walked toward the table where Neelix and Kes were dishing up breakfast. Word of the incident the night before had spread and everyone knew Kathryn had moved into Chakotay’s cabin.
Determinedly spooning up her leola porridge, Kathryn ignored both the looks and Chakotay’s hand on her leg.
Finishing his breakfast, Chakotay got up from the table. Giving her a quick kiss on the cheek, he headed up the path to the mine.
“So, I hear we’re roomies, now.”
“Looks that way.” Her cheeks were burning as B'Elanna sat down next to her and nudged her in the ribs.
“Relax, Kathryn. Chakotay let us in on what’s really going on.” She grinned.
“I’ll bet there’s a lot of speculation about ‘what’s really going on’.”
“Some, but forget about it.” She patted Kathryn’s hand. “Everyone knows what happened – almost happened – last night. Believe me, no one sees anything wrong with you moving in with Chakotay.”
“One less thing to worry about.” She picked up her bowl. “Come on, another day of mind numbing labor awaits.”
“Well, when you put it that way…” B'Elanna laughed as she got up.
They were halfway to the refinery building when they heard a vehicle pulling into the center square. Seska stepped out followed by several Kazon warriors.
“There she is! There’s the engineer!” She pointed at B'Elanna.
“What do you want, Seska?” Kathryn stepped in front of B'Elanna.
“Take her.” The other woman motioned imperiously.
“Now wait a minute – “ One of the Kazon swung his rifle up and pointed it in her face.
“Get your hands off of me!” B'Elanna backhanded the warrior that had grabbed her arm. Behind her another Kazon smashed his rifle butt into the back of her head.
“B'Elanna!” Kathryn rushed to kneel next to her.
“Take her.” Seska shoved her out of the way with a booted foot.
Catching the boot, Kathryn twisted and pushed. The other woman fell to the ground amidst the laughter of her Kazon guards and the watching Voyager crew.
“Bitch!” rolling to her feet, Seska pulled a knife out of her boot. “I’ll cut your heart out!”
Stepping back, Kathryn watched the blade flash toward her. Grabbing her wrist, she jerked Seska forward and down, using her own momentum to flip her over.
Landing heavily on her back, Seska bit back a cry of pain. “I’ll kill you!”
“What the hell is going on here?” Chakotay stepped between the two women.
“They’re trying to take B'Elanna.”
“We are taking B'Elanna.” Seska sneered.
“What do you want her for?” Chakotay knelt beside B'Elanna’s still form.
“She’ll be more useful working on our ships than grubbing in the mines.” She motioned the waiting Kazon to take the unconscious woman.
“You can’t take her!” Chakotay dodged the rifle butt one of the warriors swung at him.
“I can and I will. Or…” She aimed a phaser at the still form. “I could kill her.”
“No.” Kathryn put her hand on Chakotay’s arm.
“Smart choice, Captain.” Turning, Seska strutted back to the waiting vehicle.
“Having B'Elanna inside the Kazon compound could help us in the long run.” Tom stepped up beside the command team. “She’ll have access to a ship.”
“If they don’t kill her.” Chakotay watched the vehicle leave the compound.
“They won’t, she’s too good an engineer.” Tom patted him on the back. The big Indian cared for B'Elanna like she was his kid sister; this had to be killing him. “Don’t worry, Chief, she’ll be okay.”
“Your day will come, Seska.” Chakotay glared after the retreating vehicle. “Your day will come.”
Kathryn looked up from her sewing. “When?”
“Last night. Tuvok thinks after dinner.” Chakotay sat down on the floor next to her. “You don’t seem surprised.”
“I’m surprised he stayed here this long.” She sighed. “Either he’s joined the Kazon, or he’s got some half-baked scheme to get us a ship.”
“I don’t know which is better.”
“Sam Wildman is pregnant.”
She smiled at the shocked look on his face. “Seems she and her husband were trying to start a family before she left. Our mission was only supposed to be for three weeks. When we got back, she was going to be posted to a research station.”
“That puts a time frame on getting off this planet. “ Chakotay ran a hand through his hair. “We can’t have a child here, not in these conditions.”
“Between B'Elanna and Tom, I’m sure we’ll have a ship in no time.” She held up the blanket she was piecing together. “And just as I found out what I’m good at.”
“You’re good at a lot of things.” He took the blanket from her. “Hey! This is a piece of my favorite shirt!”
“It was torn.”
“You could have fixed it.”
“It’s nice and soft. Besides,” She pulled it out of his hands. “Green isn’t your best color.”
He bit back a smile. “And what is my best color?”
“White. With your skin it – “ She stopped.
“Green is your best color. It goes with your red hair.” He trailed a finger over her cheek. “And red cheeks.”
“You were going to teach me your language, remember?” Kathryn felt a change of subject was definitely in order. “What was it you said to Seska?”
“Hecheto aloe. It means ‘it is finished’.” He laughed as she repeated the phrase. “No, aloe with an ‘a’! You said welo with a ‘w’.”
“What did I say?”
“It is good.”
“Oh.” She grinned. “Well, it’s good that it’s finished.”
Chakotay laughed with her. “I guess that’s one way to look at it. Let’s start with something simpler. Luta.” He tugged on her hair. “Red.”
“Luta.” She repeated. “And yours?” She ruffled his hair.
“Sapa, black.” He tapped his chest. “Chante.”
“Chante?” She frowned.
“Heart. Tekihila.” He leaned in closer. “My love.”
“Chakotay – “ Kathryn moved back.
“Wiwasteka mita.” He captured her face between his hands. “My beautiful woman.”
“We can’t.” She was trapped with the bed to her back. “What’s the word for no?”
His mouth hovered over hers. “Ai.”
Chakotay’s mouth came down on hers, his tongue sliding along her lips as they parted for him. Helplessly, she clung to his shoulders, drowning in the fire pouring over her. When he pulled away, she gasped for breath. “That didn’t mean no!”
“That’s one word I’ll never teach you.” He pressed a soft kiss to her still trembling lips. “Skuya, sweet.”
A knock on the door wrenched them apart. “Come in.” Chakotay called.
Neelix stepped into the cabin. “I’ve got a proposal to run by the two of you.” He settled on the floor next to them. If he thought it was odd they were sitting so close together, he kept it to himself. “With the Capt – er Kathryn’s old cabin completely empty, I thought perhaps we could convert it into a mess hall of sorts. Knock out part of the walls to make one big room.”
“Neelix, we use the other side for meetings.” Kathryn pointed out.
“Well, with B'Elanna gone, you could use her side of this unit. I mean, you’re sleeping in here with Chakotay and…” He looked from one to the other. “Aren’t you?”
“Yes, you’re right.” Chakotay spoke up before she could deny that they still shared the same cabin. “Sounds like a plan, Neelix.”
“Great! We’ll get started on it this restday!” He got to his feet and dusted his pants off. “It’s getting a little nippier in the evenings, this way we’ll have a cozy place to get together this winter.”
“I don’t plan on being here this winter.” She stood up. “Don’t forget we’re trying to get off this planet.”
“Of course not, but it’s best to be prepared.” He rubbed his hands together nervously. “We’ll have a place for eating and for storage – just in case.”
“Kathryn, Neelix has a point.” Chakotay rose to his feet as well. “When we do get a ship and get away, we’ll need supplies. Kazon ships don’t have replicators.”
“That’s right! We’ll need to have some things we can take with us until we can stop for supplies.” The Talaxian headed for the door. “I’ll work on a small travel bag of supplies that everyone can carry. No doubt, we’ll be making a fast getaway!”
“No doubt.” Chakotay smiled as he closed the door behind Neelix.
“We have to talk about this.”
“All right.” He sat down on the bed. Somehow he didn’t think she was talking about Neelix’s mess hall plans.
“I think we need to define some parameters.” She sat down next to him. “About us.”
“I’m not sure I can ‘define parameters’.” He took a deep breath. “But I can tell you a story, an ancient legend among my people. It’s about an angry warrior who lived his life in conflict with the rest of his tribe. A man who couldn’t find peace even with the help of his spirit guide. For years he struggled with his discontent, but the only satisfaction that he ever got came when he was in battle. This made him a hero among his people, but the warrior still longed for peace within himself.”
There was such pain in the dark eyes that Kathryn wanted to comfort him, but she waited as he continued.
“One day he and his war party were captured by a neighboring tribe led by a woman warrior. She called on him to join her because her tribe was too small and too weak to defend itself from all it’s enemies. The woman warrior was brave and beautiful and wise. The angry warrior swore to himself that he would stay by her side doing whatever he could to make her burden lighter. From that point on, her needs would come first, and in that way, the warrior began to know the true meaning of peace.”
For a moment, she couldn’t speak. Chakotay’s feelings were there for her to see. Raw and exposed in his eyes. “Is that really an ancient legend?”
“No.” He smiled slightly. “But that made it easier to say.”
Looking down at their linked hands, Kathryn found it hard to remember why she wanted to define parameters. “I – I need a little more time, Chakotay.”
“I’ll give you all the time you need.”
“Thank you.” She pulled his hand to her lips and kissed the strong fingers.
Leaning forward, he kissed one cheek. “Mita wicu.” Then the other. “My wife.”
Her breath caught in her throat. “How… how do you say … my husband?”
Dimples flashing, he gave her a quick kiss. “Mita higna.”
“Mita higna.” The words tasted sweet. Hugging him to her she whispered the words again.
After a moment, Chakotay pulled back. “If you want more time, Kathryn, we need to stop.”
Getting up, Kathryn trailed her fingers across the dark lines etched on his forehead. Picking up her nightgown, she went to the small bathroom.
Smiling, Chakotay pulled the extra mattress off the bed and onto the floor. Stripping quickly, he lay down and pulled his blanket over him and settled down to wait for his nightly glimpse of Kathryn in her nightgown.
When she came out of the bathroom, she laid her clothes on the table before coming over to kneel down beside him. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight, tekihila.” As she leaned down to kiss him, her gown gaped open giving him a view of her breasts.
Turning out the small lamp, Kathryn crawled into her bed and pulled the blanket up. She turned over to look down at him. “Ai means yes, doesn’t it?”
Smiling, she rolled over and drifted off to sleep.