Apperception

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From: crime@bu.edu (mary self)
Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative
Subject: VOY: Apperception
Date: 21 Oct 1995 13:20:34 GMT
Organization: Boston University
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DISCLAIMERS: All characters, except that of Sarkan and Lt. Hannah Jemison,
belong to Paramount. The story and the two aforementioned
characters are my creation.

Apperception
part I

by Carly Hunter
copyright 1995

First Officer’s Log. Stardate 50632.46. Having completed our mission
to the Calera system, we are enroute for our scheduled meeting with Voyager.
Lt. Hannah Jemison and I have spent an educational three days with the
Ummelians. We found them to be a very warm and generous people, quite
agriculturally advanced. They have given us several different plant specimens
for our garden, including one which produces a seed remarkably similar to
coffee beans. Something I’m sure the Captain will appreciate.

Chakotay looked up from his PADD and reached for another piece of
mecana roll. “Want some?” he offered to the young woman beside him.
She grimaced and rolled her eyes. “No, thank you. I don’t think I
could eat another bite of food as long as I live. I’m stuffed.”
“Funny, you wouldn’t have known it by the way you pounded down the pila
eggs at breakfast, and the toasted ticci, and the fris berries, and the-”
“Enough, already. I can’t help it. I’ve always enjoyed big, fresh
breakfasts. Anytime, Dad had the day off, Mom would get up early and create
these huge feasts, with pancakes, sausage, bacon, juice, and anything else you
could want. It became a family tradition until Chandler left for the Academy
and took his enormous appetite with him. Besides, you seemed to be enjoying
yourself, as well. Tasting just about every vegetarian dish put before you as
I recall.”
“Guilty,” he grinned. “At least, I saved room for each new dish;
moderation is the key to a healthy body and spirit, Lieutenant,” he chided,
teasingly.
“Permission to speak freely, Commander.”
“Granted.”
“Shut up.” Her grey eyes danced in puckish amusement.
Chakotay laughed. They had managed to forge a good working
relationship, in spite fo the strong emotional undercurrents that ran between
them. Hannah was a strong, intelligent woman, in many ways a younger version
of the Captain. If they ever got back to the Alpha quadrant, there was every
reason to believe that someday she would make Captain. She and two other
officers had already begun command training under the tutelage of both himself
and Captain Janeway. He watched her punch out calculations on her PADD.
“Studying?”
“Mmm-hmm.” Her brow furrowed and the well-shaped mouth tightened into
a taunt line.
“Problem? Here, let me see if I can help.” He reached for the hand-
held processor.
She shook her head and moved the device out of his reach. “No, that’s
okay. I can figure it out on my own. Thanks anyway, though.”
He chuckled. “You’re nothing if not stubborn, Jemison; I’ll give you
that. C’mon, I promise I’ll only tell you where you made your mistake.”
Reluctantly, she passed the PADD to him; Chakotay gazed at it for a
minute before handing it back. “Start over,” he suggested. “Your mistake
occurred early on in the problem. I’m surprised you got as far as you did.”
He looked at her discouraged expression. “Hey, you aren’t giving up, are you?”
“Not a chance,” she answered proudly. “I’ll get that promotion, yet;
you just watch.”
“Oh, I am, Lieutenant.”
One of her eyebrows lifted. “Really? Why, Commander, I’m flattered.”
Chakotay felt his cheeks flush; he had fallen head first into that
trap. *Paetah!* he cursed silently.
She giggled at his obvious discomfort. Over the past few months, they
had learned to hide their true feelings behind a friendly, ongoing battle of
wits. “Sorry, but you just left yourself so open that I couldn’t resist.”
“Oh really?” The first officer leaned over and gazed deeply into her
eyes. Now it was his turn. “And just what else can’t you resist?”
His eyes were as dark as Adalian tar pits and seemed to suck her in
just as effectively. “I -ah,” she struggled to find a retort, only to have her
thoughts interrupted by a warning signal on the console. Grateful, she tore
her attention away from him. “We are picking up a distress call, bearing four-
five mark one-two-eight.”
“Adjusting course to investigate,” Chakotay cheerfully replied,
confident in his most recent victory.

“We’ve reached the coordinates,” he announced, one hour later.
“Reducing speed to one-half impulse.” Empty space lay before them. Chakotay
frowned. “Lieutenant, are sensors still picking up the distress call?”
“Negative, and I’m not reading any ships or debris, either.”
“Are we at the right coordinates?”
“Yes sir. I’ve already double checked them.”
“Then, where the hell-” His response was cut short at the tiny ship
shuddered around them.
“Warning. Tractor beam engaged. Impulse engines will overload in
thirty seconds,” the computer advised.
“A Kazon ship has decloaked directly behind us. They are trying to
pull us in,” Hannah reported.
Almost in response to her statement, the viewscreen flickered revealing
a craggy, sinister-looking face. “Federation ship, I am Sarkan, second maje of
the Kazon Nistrim. Shut down your engines and prepare to be boarded. Or we
will destroy your ship.”
“What do you want? Why have you-” The screen went blank before
Chakotay could finish his questions. “Shut down the engines, Lieutenant.
We evidently don’t have too many options open to us. I’m trying to get out a
subspace message to Voyager.”
“Yes sir. Impulse engines are off-line.” Hannah shot him a worried
glance.
He reached over and gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “Don’t worry.
We’ll be all right. Voyager will find us.”
They felt the ship tremble beneath them as the docking clamps took
hold. Spinning around, they were greeted by the sight of four well-armed
Kazons coming through the rear hatch. Two of the four seized them roughly by
the arms, hauling them to their feet and shoving them out into the corridor.
Chakotay caught Hannah in his arms to keep her form falling; her face was a
mask of confusion and fear. He grimaced. *She’s not prepared for this; she’s
science, not security. Starfleet probably only gave her the basic imprisonment
course,* he thought with alarm. * She has no idea what we may be up against.*
“Come on. Move.” One of the Kazons grabbed both of their shoulders
and pushed them down the hall.
As they were marched along, Hannah heard the calming voice of her
brother, Chandler telling her what to do. She began noting what she could
about the ship. The details of the corridor, the sound of the engines, the
location of conduits and power junctions. By Starfleet standards, it was
remarkably crude; no thought had been given to making its surroundings
comfortable or pleasant. *This may work to our benefit,* she mused.
*Junctions and access areas are clearly visible and seemingly not protected by
security devices. Evidently, they don’t make a habit of keeping prisoners on
board for extended periods of time.*
They entered a lift device which brought them to a holding area.
Chakotay turned on their guards. “Why have you brought us here? Why are
you detaining us?”
“Silence!” one of the guards roared, sending a rifle butt into the
Commander’s midsection.
The first officer doubled over, and Hannah reached forward to help
him, but he waived her off.
Four hands seized their shoulders from behind and pushed them both
toward the ground. “Kneel!” came the forceful command.
“So these are two of the mighty Federation I have heard so much about.”
Contempt poured from Sarkan’s mouth as he entered the room followed by two
other figures, who remained in the shadows. The Kazon leader laughed cruelly.
“I fail to see what these two could possibly offer.”
“It isn’t them; it’s their ship.” A female voice declared from over
his shoulder. “It should contain a replicator which we can modify to our
specifications.” The figure moved into the light. “However, your capture,
Chakotay, is an unexpected bonus.”
“Seska!” he hissed. “I should have known.”
The Cardassian infiltrator laughed harshly. “Yes, Chakotay, you should
have. Surely, you didn’t think I was willing to leave things as they were?”
Hannah felt her entire body tense with rage at the other woman. An
unsavoury epithet from ancient Earth passed through her mind and lingered
unspoken on her lips.
“You may as well let us go.” She heard the Commander reply. “Tuvok
had the replicators removed from the shuttles months ago, just in case one
should fall into the wrong hands. You won’t find anything onboard that will
help you.”
“What!” Sarkan backhanded the first officer across the face.
Chakotay slowly swung his face back around, a patch of red rising
quickly on his cheek. A small trickle of blood flowed from the corner of his
mouth. “It’s true.” He defiantly spat his blood onto the floor in front
of Sarkan.
Two more Kazons entered the room. “Well?” their leader barked.
“Maje, we see no sign of a replicator. There is only an empty space
where Seska told us to look.”
Furious, Sarkan spun on Seska. “Well, now, this has all been for
nothing.” He turned back to the four guards. “Take them away and kill them;
then salvage what you can from their ship before releasing it. It is of little
use to us now.”
“You act far too hastily, Sarkan. These two may yet prove to be of
value. What price do you think Capt. Janeway would pay to save members of her
crew?”
A slow malicious grin spread across the Kazon’s face. “Perhaps you are
right. Lock them up. We will deal with them presently. Unless, of course,
you have other plans.”
Seska returned his smile with one equally cruel. “Remove the girl.
We’ll keep her in reserve. The Commander and I still have some old issues to
settle.”
Hannah felt two hand pull her roughly to her feet and drag her toward
the lift. She saw Chakotay make a move to stop them and receive a harder blow
across the face for his efforts. *Don’t let them see you care for him.*
Chandler’s voice commanded. *They’ll use it as a weapon.* She made a
conscious attempt to make her expression go blank, as the lift began to move.
A brief wave of relief washed over Chakotay. *Perhaps she will be all
right, after all,* he thought. He looked up at Seska’s expressionless features
contrasting with the virulent hatred in her eyes. *She knows too much about
me. She could break me, but I can’t let that happen, and I can’t let her find
out about Hannah.*
“Take him to the questioning cell.” The Cardassian barked. “I’ll deal
with him personally.”

As she was marched to the holding cell, Hannah tried to continue her
mental notations of the ship, but found her thoughts drifting back with concern
to Chakotay. She knew a little about Cardassian torture methods from her
courses at Starfleet, and she didn’t want to find out about Kazon techniques.
A door on her right opened and a painful grip on her upper arm forced
her inside. She heard the door slide shut behind her, nervously looking
around before letting out an uncertain sigh of relief. She was alone in a
small dark room with no furniture, not even a bunk. The walls unlike the rest
of the ship were smooth metal sheets. She slid down one of the walls into a
crouch and began mentally mapping out the ship and its systems from what little
she had seen. It was better than just sitting around worrying, and it might
even allow her to help Chakotay.

The first officer felt himself slowly returning to consciousness. The
touch of the cold metal table against his skin told him that they had stripped
him of his uniform. *Standard torture procedure,* he thought grimly. *One
more way of stripping away a person’s defenses.*
The room was dark beyond the table; the only light coming from directly
above him. Cold manacles at his wrists and ankles held his arms and legs in
place, while two more metal straps crossed his chest and stomach. Raising his
head slightly, he could see small black tubes snaking their way from underneath
his skin to a main junction on the side of the table.
Somewhere to his right, a door opened and someone entered. He heard
footsteps approach, coming to a halt beside the table. Pale fingers ran
seductively up the side of his ribs. *Seska!* This was going beyond simple
torture he knew; for her, this was also personal, revenge for choosing Janeway
and Voyager over her. A soft hand caressed his cheek. He felt a wave of
revulsion wash over him and turned his head away.
“Chakotay,” her voice purred. “Time was when you wouldn’t pull away
from me. I can even remember when you used to like it when I touched you.”
She walked to the head of the table and ran her fingers through the greying
hair.
“That was before I discovered who you are and what you are,” he
replied, squinting up at her.
“Are Cardassians that repulsive to you?” she cooed.
“You know my feelings about that, especially after what you did. I
trusted you, Seska. I defended you.”
“Trust? Defense? Oh, don’t make me laugh, `Commander’.” She paused.
“You know, I really was fond of you, Chakotay. There was a time when I might
have even defied Central Command to stay with you. It’s a pity that things
have turned out the way they have.” Her voice grew cold and distant. “And I
want you to know I truly regret what I now have to do.”
He gasped as a bolt of pain ripped through his body, followed quickly
by another. Every muscle felt like it was on fire, slowly burning its way
through his flesh. *Coo-naayoo, please help me. I cannot let this person
break my spirit.*
“I truly am sorry,” he heard her say again.
“Then why . . . do it? Why- Aaah!” This time the intensity of the
pain left him breathless.
“Voyager has something we want; I’m afraid you and your companion are
nothing more than a means to get it. You see, Sarkan and I believe that the
standard threats will not be convincing enough for Capt. Janeway, but perhaps
she will feel differently upon viewing your condition after a few hours of
persuasion.” She pressed the control button for a fourth time.
Chakotay’s body leapt up from the table, straining against the shackles
before crashing back down. His breath came in ragged gasps as he stared up
into the bright light. Hannah’s face flashed quickly through his mind. *No!
Don’t think of her! You can’t let them know; you can’t-* “Aaaugh!” Another
sudden but not unexpected convulsion seized him, ripping his mind from all
conscious thought.

Apperception
part 2

Kathryn Janeway crossed and uncrossed her legs. The shuttle carrying
her first officer and science officer was two hours late. “Mr. Tuvok, any sign
of the shuttle on long range sensors?”
“Negative, Captain. A scan for its warp signature has likewise proved
ineffective.”
“Ensign Kim, contact the Ummelians; make sure that they’ve left.
Mr. Paris, I want you to plot the most likely course that the shuttle
would’ve taken.”
“Yes, Captain. I should have it in a few minutes.” Lt. Tom Paris
swung back to the helm console and began furiously punching up calculations.
Janeway paced the bridge nervously. *What could have happened? They
are both well-disciplined members of my crew; had they decided to extend their
stay, they would have notified us.*
“Captain, message coming in form the Ummelians,” Harry Kim called
from his station.
“On screen.”
“Captain, what a pleasant surprise. I hope you are enjoying the
botanical samples we gave to Commander Chakotay and Lt. Jemison. I can’t tell
you how much we appreciated her help in repairing our agri-growth enhancer.”
Noting the Captain’s less than cheerful countenance, the Ummelian’s beaming
face began to sober. “Captain, is there a problem?”
“I’m afraid so, Councilman. The shuttle carrying my two crewmen has
failed to arrive at our pre-arranged coordinates. When exactly did they leave
your planet?”
“Over eight hours ago, Captain. I do hope that nothing serious
has happened; perhaps, they just had some engine trouble.”
“Perhaps,” Janeway conceded, unconvinced. “Councilman, should they
contact you, could you tell them we are on your way to your world?”
“Certainly, Captain. I wish you success in your search; they are both
fine officers.”
“Yes, they are, and thank you. Janeway out. Lt. Paris, have you
plotted their most plausible course?”
“Yes, Captain. Course is plotted and laid in.”
“Good. Mr. Kim, Mr. Tuvok, I want all sensors maintaining a constant
scan for any trace of the shuttle or its warp signature. Warp 7, Mr. Paris.
Engage.”

“Chakotay.” A faint, far off voice was calling him. “Chakotay.”
For a split second, he thought it was *her*. With a great deal of effort, he
opened his eyes; the light above the table blinded him. Pain wracked his
entire body, and he found it hard to maintain consciousness.
“Chakotay, can you hear me?” Seska bent down close to his head.
The dark eyes moved slowly in her direction, providing the answer she wanted.
“Good. I think its time we had a little talk. So much has happened since we
last saw one another.”
He gazed at her unsteadily, not even sure if he could speak. *I . . .
can’t. . . let. . . her-* His mind drifted off unable to complete its thought.
*No! You’ve got to keep control. You can’t let her in.*
“Are you thirsty? Would you like some water, perhaps?” She gently
lifted his head and poured a few drops onto his closed mouth. “It’s only
water, Chakotay. You need it. Now, drink.”
Too weak to protest, he parted his lips and let the cool liquid flow
over them. “Uh,” he croaked, as she lowered his head back down.
“I’ll take that as a thank you,” she replied. “So how have you been
doing on Voyager? Janeway must trust you more by now, but I doubt that you’ve
found anyone who can make mushroom soup like I could. Or have you?” Seska
softly traced the tatoo over his eye with one of her fingers. “Is there some-
one special in your life, Chakotay? Someone you share your thoughts and dreams
with; someone on Voyager who misses you as much as I miss you?”
He stared up into the tawney eyes and swallowed hard. “No,” he rasped.
“There is no one.”
She smiled disbelievingly. “No one at all? What about that young
Lieutenant you’re traveling with? She’s quite attractive.”
He tried to shake his head, closing his eyes in agony as his brain
sloshed against the side of his skull. “No one,” he repeated weakly. The
darkness was closing in again, and his consciousness was sliding toward it.
*Oh, help me. Don’t let me betray Hannah.*
Seska started to ask another question, but abruptly shut her mouth.
“Very well; as you say, Chakotay. Now, rest while you can. We will begin
again in a few minutes.”

“Captain,” Kim sung out. “I’ve got something.”
“All stop, Mr. Paris.” Janeway leapt to her feet and hurried to the
young ensign’s side.
“It’s definitely a residual trace of a warp engine, and it matches all
the characteristics of Starfleet shuttle emissions,” he continued. “It
appears that it was on this course, and then for some unknown reason it changes
to bearings four-five mark one-two-eight.”
“Why?” Janeway directed her question to no one in particular. “Why
would they suddenly change course like that?”
“Perhaps they were trying to avoid something,” Kim proposed.
“Maybe, but what?”
“Another ship?” Paris suggested, spinning around from the conn.
“Unlikely,” interjected Tuvok. “Sensors find no trace of the presence
of another ship.”
“Then what?” the conn officer asked.
“I don’t know,” the Captain answered truthfully. “Mr. Kim, can you
determine how long it has been since they made their course change?”
“Affirmative, Captain. The rate of signature decay indicates that they
altered course between four and six hours ago.”
“Good. Lt. Paris, bring us to our new heading; warp 6.”

“Captain, I have picked up the shuttle on long range sensors. It
appears to be undamaged.” The Vulcan paused. “However, there is no indication
of lifeforms on board.”
“Full stop. Tractor the shuttle on board.” Janeway jumped to her feet
and headed for the turbolift. “Lt. Torres, meet me in the shuttle bay.
Mr. Tuvok, you have the bridge.”
“Captain.” Her chief of security halted her rapid exit. “I am picking
up another ship’s engine signature. Bearing one-two-nine mark three-six.
I regret to inform you that it matches the known pattern of vessels belonging
to the Kazon.”
“Kazon! Alter course, Mr. Paris. We’re going to follow that trail.
I’ll be down in the shuttle bay.”

Chakotay lay panting on the table. He had long ago given up trying to
think. Even little things he took for granted, like breathing, seemed
secondary to the pain which now constantly coursed through his body, varying
only in its intensity. In between the greater bouts of convulsive agony, he
had tried to summon his spirit guide and failed; each time he came close and
saw the beautiful grey fur, a blinding flash would rip the vision from his
grasp. The one source of refuge he could allow himself, Seska had kept
successfully at bay.
He heard her say something, but was unable to focus on the words. He
hadn’t even been aware that someone had entered the room. His head had rolled
to his right during the last spasm, and he tried in vain to open his eyes, but
the strength to do so had long since left him.
A vision of his home appeared before him. He was sitting on the hill
overlooking his village during a summer sunset. His dog, Tikal, lay beside
him, its head on his knee. A light breeze blew through the trees, stirring the
leaves and grasses around him. Someone was coming up the hill toward him; she
wore a long navy tunic and khaki paints. Her brown hair hung freely, whipping
gently across her smiling face.
“I’ve always wanted to show you my home,” he told the vision. “I knew
you would like it. I- No!” He watched in horror as the images began to fade,
replaced by lightning bolts and multi-hued explosions. When they subsided,
through some dim awareness, he realized how close he had come to calling out
the vision’s name. He couldn’t let it happen again. So ironic, that even now
in this hell where he most needed her, she remained out of reach.

Sarkan looked at the pale, sweating form lying before him; its breath
coming in jagged gasps. He nodded to Seska who once again activated the table.
Critically watching the seizure of pain which consumed the human, the maje
nodded once again, this time in satisfaction. “You have done well, Seska. I
believe it is time to contact his ship.”
“I agree. I will stay here to provide the necessary inducement when
needed.”
The Kazon directed one more glance at the barely conscious human.
*I hope for your sake that your Captain is easily persuaded, Federation. It
would be a shame for you to die for no reason.*

“Captain,” Paris called from the conn. I’m reading a Kazon vessel
directly in front of us.”
“All stop. Red alert. Raise shields.” Janeway sprang to her feet,
her hands flying to her hips.
“Captain, we are being hailed.” Kim’s announcement revealed only the
tiniest tremor of concern.
“On screen.”
“Do I have the pleasure of addressing Federation Captain Janeway?”
The placid, ridged face failed to belie the contempt in the voice.
“You do.”
“I am Sarkan, second maje of the Kazon Nistrim, and I believe we each
have something the other wants. I have your two crewmen and you have
replicators. I propose an exchange, one for the other.”
The Captain’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t make deals for hostages.”
“Really, Captain? That is most unfortunate. Perhaps you should
consult with your first officer before coming to such a conclusion.”
At the maje’s signal, inhuman howls of pain resounded throughout the
ship’s communications matrix, slicing through Janeway and the rest of the
bridge crew. “Chakotay,” she whispered, her delicate fingers curling into two
tight fists. “What have you done to him?”
“I? I have done nothing to him; that pleasure belongs entirely to a
colleague of mine. However, I do not know how much longer he can withstand her
persuasive methods. Again, their lives for one replicator. You have two hours
to make your decision.”
Janeway stared for a moment at the blank viewscreen. Then, she turned
and strode quickly toward her ready room. “Mr. Tuvok, I need to speak with
you. Mr. Paris, you have the bridge.”
Once inside with the door safely shut behind them, she sank into her
chair. “Oh, Tuvok, what do I do?”
The Vulcan remained standing. “It is quite clear what you cannot do,
Captain. To give into Sarkan’s demands would not only irrevocably change the
balance of power within the quadrant, but also leave us vulnerable to attacks
by any others who may desire something we possess.”
“On the other hand, if I let Chakotay die, our Maquis crewmen may view
me as perfidious, someone who willingly sacrificed their commander for some
obscure principle they do not normally live by. I’m not even sure I can live
with that memory myself.”
Tuvok levelled his gaze at her. “It has been my observation that both
Commander Chakotay and Lt. Jemison share a mutual respect for you. I do not
believe they would expect or wish for you to concede to the Kazon’s demands.
They would understand that there is more than just their lives at stake here.”
Janeway gave a rueful grimace. “You’re right as usual, Tuvok.
However, we must make every attempt possible to get them out of there. Begin
a full evaluation of their weapons and defensive capabilities. I do not intend
to sit idly by while two of my crewmen sacrifice their lives.”
“I shall prepare the report with all possible speed.” With a slight
bow, the Vulcan turned and left the room, leaving Janeway alone with her
apprehensive thoughts.

Hannah raised her head as the door slid open. A naked, bleeding body
was tossed onto the hard floor before it shut. “Commander!” She quickly
crawled over to where the inert form lay. After checking his pulse, she rolled
him onto his back as gently as she could. The soft whimper he emitted when she
did this tore at her heart.
Dragging over the small container of water the guards had brought her
earlier, she undid her uniform and removed her turtleneck. On his face was a
caked mixture of blood, sweat and saliva. She dipped the end of one sleeve in
the water and began slowly bathing the pale skin. Raw, bleeding tissue showed
where he had struggled helplessly against the bonds which had held him.
Gingerly, she lifted first his right arm, then his left, up towards her and
bathed the injured areas around each wrist. A small moan escaped, as he slowly
fought his way back to consciousness. She looked up into a pair of dull, dark
pools, so different from the playful, teasing eyes of several hours ago.
Running her hand delicately through his hair, she tried her best to
comfort him. “It’s all right, Chakotay. They’ve brought you back to the
holding cell. You’re safe right now; try to rest. Here, drink some water.”
She raised his head to the container, and he took two painful swallows.
“Hannah, I won’t-” His voice was barely audible.
“Shhh, don’t try to talk. Rest.”
He tried to nod and obediently closed his eyes. Stretching out beside
him, she covered his chest with the dry portion of her turtleneck, and wrapped
her arms protectively around his head.
She still smelt faintly of the rose oil the Ummellians had given her
for her bath that morning, and he could hear her heart beating through the
fabric of her uniform; two more concrete affirmations of the reality he knew
was rapidly slipping out of his grasp. *I won’t betray you,* he promised her
silently as an exhausted sleep overtook him.

The sun was setting over the horizon, and Tikal’s head was still on his
knee. She sat beside him, her legs curled to one side, her chin resting on his
shoulder. Neither spoke; their souls drinking in the natural beauty of the
moment. He patted Tikal’s head and received a lick of acknowledgement. Her
hair tickled the back of his neck as it danced in the breeze. He couldn’t
remember the last time he had felt so completely at peace with everything and
everyone. “Do you have any idea how happy I am?” He turned to look at her,
but she was gone.
“Wha?” Confused, his eyes roamed around the dimly-lit cell. “No!” He
tried to raised up, but the muscles wouldn’t obey, and he crashed back
painfully onto the floor. “Hannah!” The cry was little more than a hoarse
whisper. *Coo-naayoo, please, protect her,* he prayed as darkness fell once
again.

The door to the ready room chirped it familiar greeting. Janeway
looked up. “Come in. Lt. Torres, I hope you have good news; I could use some
right now.”
The half-Klingon shifted uncomfortably on her feet. “In regards to the
Kazon’s defensive systems, I’m afraid not. However, I’ve been talking with
some of the other Maquis on board, and we believe that you shouldn’t give into
the Kazon’s demands, even if it means losing Commander Chakotay. He wouldn’t
want you to do it, no matter what the price, and well, I thought you might like
to know that we support you whatever happens.”
Kathryn regarded the younger woman silently. They really were `her’
crew now, voluntarily giving their allegiance to her. A lump rose in her
throat, which she hastily cleared. “Thank you, B’Elanna. Your loyalty means
a lot to me. I do not want to lose the Commander and Lt. Jemison, but I can
not give into the Kazon’s demands. Besides which, considering our past
encounters with both the Nistrim and Ogla, I am not inclined to believe that
they would honor their promise to free them, even if we did surrender a
replicator.
Lt. Torres nodded. “I agree, Captain. We can’t trust them, but we
will get the Commander and the Lieutenant back.”
Janeway smiled at the young woman’s determination. “We sure as hell
are going to try our best, Lieutenant. Dismissed.”

Hannah crashed to the floor clutching her side where the metal rod
had landed its painful blow.
“Get up, Federation,” barked the Kazon. “Don’t tell me you’ve had
enough already.”
Taking as deep a breath as her aching ribs would allow, she rose slowly
to her feet and spat out a mixture of blood and saliva. Her cheek was already
starting to swell, blood still seeping from the cut inside her mouth.
The Kazon laughed harshly. “Have you no courage, no fight within you,
female? Bah! It is only your technology which makes you powerful. You hide
your cowardice behind your weapons. Here, I will give you the opportunity to
strike at me.” He threw down his weapon.
Hannah eyed him warily. She could still put up a good fight, but where
would that get her? The other two Kazons in the room would prevent her escape.
She had to save what strength she had; she had to wait for the right moment.
From what little conversation she had heard, she knew Voyager was out there,
now, within transporter range; all she needed was the opportunity to get the
sheilds down.
The Kazon picked up the pole and swung at her again. Somehow, she
managed to dodge the stroke, backing into the wall.
“Your Captain should be grateful to me for ending your life; there can
be no honor in having such a weakling in her crew,” the young man snarled,
swinging down at her.
This time she wasn’t so lucky; the blow caught her between the shoulder
and the neck. An audible crack resounded as her collarbone shattered. For the
first time, she let out a scream of pain, her left arm falling uselessly
against her side. Dropping to her knees, she doubled over in agony, tears
streaming down her battered face. Her right hand flew to her left shoulder.
“Enough, Kaymar. We do not wish to kill her yet.” Sarkan stepped out
of the shadows. “I believe these scenes will be enough to persuade the Captain
that we mean business. Take her back to the cell and transmit the fight with
my compliments to Voyager.”
Hannah cried out as one of the guards pulled her roughly to her feet
and drug her from the room. Surreptiously, she checked the corridor as she was
hauled along; no one was around. Evidently, they had concluded she wasn’t much
of a threat. *Now’s my chance.*
“Ohhh!” She uttered a loud moan and forcibly slumped all of her weight
against the Kazon holding her up. They both crashed to the floor. Sending her
fist first into his stomach, she brought it down again against his jaw smashing
his head into the floor. She suspected the floor did more damage than her blow
had. *Damn!* Losing the use of one arm definitely made this twice as hard and
about four times more painful.
Disarming him, she staggered down the corridor to one of the main
junction boxes. Getting the cover off was difficult, but eventually it pulled
free. The technology appeared to have more in common with Cardassian
technology than that of the Federation, utilizing what appeared to be isolinear
rods for their data storage and processing. The fact that the markings were
totally unfamiliar only added to the challenge. “Needle in a bloody haystack,”
she muttered, gingerly removing one of the rods. “One of these must control
the shields. This is one of the larger access panels.”
“Hey! You!” The Kazon she had struck earlier lunged down the hall.
Hannah didn’t stop to think. She spun around and fired. The Kazon
sank to the floor. “Damn! A whole legion will be here now. Sorry Admiral,
but the time for subtlety just ran out.”
Stepping back, she aimed the weapon at the panel and fired. Sparks
exploded from the panel. The lights of the corridor flickered twice before
dying, leaving only emergency lights active. Over the comm system, a siren
blared, and running feet began heading her way. An explosion from one of the
lower decks rocked the ship. Grabbing for the wall, she flattened herself
behind the tentative safety of a doorjam, pointing her weapon in the direction
of the rapidly approaching steps.

Apperception
part 3

“Captain. Something’s happening on the Kazon ship. You’d better get
out here.” Ensign Kim’s voice urgently interrupted Kathryn’s thoughts.
Rising from behind her desk in the ready room, Janeway headed for the
door. “On my way.”
“Captain,” Tuvok acknowledged her entrance onto the bridge. “Sensors
have picked up a series of explosions coming from within the Kazon vessel.
They have lost power to most of their main systems, including their shields.”
“Can we get a lock on our two crewmen?”
“Affirmative. I am reading two human lifeforms approximately fifty
meters from each other. One is firing a weapon.”
“Deactivate the weapon and beam them both directly to sickbay.
Computer, activate emergency medical holographic program.”
“I am already on, Captain,” came the reply. “Kes and I are
standing by.”
“Lower shields and energize.”
“Transport is complete,” reported Kim.
“Raise shields. Hail the Kazon vessel.” Janeway ordered.
A smoky bridge appeared on the viewscreen. “I will have you know,
Captain,” Sarkan spat. “I have sent for reinforcements. This attack on our
ship will not go unanswered.”
“And I will have you know, Sarkan, that if you or one of your
colleagues ever kidnaps any of my people again, you will be met with the
deadliest force at my disposal. Janeway out. Mr. Paris, set us back on
course, warp 8. I want to put as much distance between us and the Kazons
as possible. Mr. Tuvok, you have the bridge; I’ll be in sickbay.” Barely
concealing her rage, she hurried up the steps to the turbolift.

“Report, Doctor.”
The hologram turned at the sound of the Captain’s voice. “Both
Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant Jemison have recieved numerous internal
injuries, as well as the visible external wounds. The Lieutenant’s condition
is far less severe than the Commander’s. I suspect she was only beaten; the
Commander, however, had been exposed to extensive neural phasic torture.
Currently, he is unconscious.”
“But he will recover, won’t he?” Janeway was only dimly aware of the
desparate hope clinging to her question.
“I don’t know, Captain,” the hologram replied truthfully. “Physically,
I believe he will, but psychologically, he may not. I just can’t tell at
this point.”
“Let me know as soon as you can, Doctor.” A sound from the other bio-
bed made her turn. Kes was busy re-assuring Hannah that she was safe.
Janeway came up on the patient’s right side and smoothed back the
sweat-soaked hair. “It’s all right, Lieutenant. You’re on Voyager now; you’re
safe.”
Her presence seemed to give the mind behind the wide grey eyes
something to focus on. The tense muscles relaxed a little and concern replaced
fear in the young woman’s expression. “Yes ma’am.” Hannah croaked. “But the
Commander, they-” She tried to rise, but found that her own rapidly
diminishing strength and Janeway’s firm hand prevented her.
“The Doctor is taking care of him as we speak; beyond that I can’t tell
you anything,” Kathryn replied as calmly as she could; telling the young woman
the truth at this point hardly seemed wise. “Right now, you need to get your
own rest, and that’s an order, Lieutenant,” she added with a solicitous smile.
“Yes ma’am.” Hannah closed her eyes intending to keep an ear out for
what the Doctor was saying. Sleep proved to be too tempting, though, and she
quickly drifted off into a deep slumber.

“Ah, Lieutenant, you’re awake. Let’s see how you are doing.” The
Doctor’s cheerful demeanor seemed as always a bit incongruous considering the
circumstances. “Much better. Most of your wounds have healed nicely. You
should be able to leave sickbay tomorrow. Crewman Geron has already stopped by
twice to see how you were doing.”
“How long have I been asleep?” Everything still seemed a bit fuzzy and
otherworldly.
“Almost ten hours, and your body needed it all to recover.”
“The Commander. How’s he?” The events of the past two days were
beginning to fall back into place. She could remember what the Captain had
said and realized that Janeway had probably couched the real situation as best
she could without lying.
The Doctor looked reluctant to answer, but then, seemed to conclude
that she was strong enough to handle the truth. “I’m afraid he’s still
unconscious, Lieutenant. Although physically, his condition is improving.”
“I want to see him.” Hannah sat up too quickly and grimaced, grabbing
for her shoulder. Ignoring the soreness, she swung her legs over the side of
the bed and stood up.
“Lieutenant, you’ve suffered three broken ribs, a smashed clavicle and
numerous other bodily traumas. You should not be getting up yet.”
“You said I could leave tomorrow, Doctor, and I fail to see how a walk
of a few meters will alter that fact.”
Sighing heavily, the Doctor raised his eyes toward the ceiling as
Hannah moved slowly off in the direction of the surgical biobed. Sometimes he
wondered why the Captain even bothered to activate him; this crew never
followed his advice.
Chakotay’s skin had lost its pale grey tinge, and he seemed more at
peace than the last time she had seen him. Above his bed, Lt. Torres had
erected his medicine wheel, and the scientist gazed at it curiously.
The Doctor who had come up behind her, shook his head. “Once again,
she’s misplaced the coyote stone. It should go here.” He pulled off the stone
to re-align it.
“Let me,” Hannah said, taking the stone from the surprised hologram’s
hand. “Here?” He nodded. “Doctor, could I have a few moments alone with the
Commander?”
The physician raised an eyebrow. “Very well. I’ll be at my desk if
you need me.”
Hannah waited until he was out of earshot. “Chakotay, we made it;
we’re safe. Don’t give up now.” She gently stroked the greying hair. “Who
will I deliver my weekly reports to? The ship needs you. I need you.”
She stood quietly beside him for a few moments, holding his hand. There
was so much that she wanted to say, but where to begin? She brought his hand
up to her cheek. “Get well, Commander.” Bending down, she kissed his forehead
over the tattoo before returning to her own bed.

Sometime during the evening, Chakotay regained consciousness, his cries
waking Hannah from her sleep. Leaping from the bed, she hurried over as the
Doctor tried rather unsuccessfully to restrain his struggling patient. As she
stepped into view, the Indian’s violent thrashing stopped. “It’s all right,
Commander. We’re safe.” Hannah firmly pushed his shoulders back down.
“Han-”
“Shh, let the Doctor help you. I won’t go anywhere; I’ll stay right
here.” She took his hand and gave it a small squeeze.
A tired, contented smile broke across his face as he wearily closed
his eyes. He could rest now. *She’s safe.*

“You wanted to see me, Captain?” Hannah stepped briskly into the
Captain’s ready room. Three days had passed since she had left sickbay and
returned to duty.
“I did indeed, Lieutenant. I just finished going over your report; do
you intend to make sabotage part of your career with Starfleet? That was a
very risky thing you did. You had no idea what that phaser shot might have set
off; you could’ve destroyed the entire ship with yourself and the Commander
still on it.”
“I beg to differ, Captain; at the time, it was the only thing I could
do. The Kazons had made it quite plain that they had no intention of releasing
us even if you gave them the replicator. Furthermore, considering the size of
the vessel and what I was able to view of their technology, I was quite
convinced that such action would only serve to interrupt critical systems, not
destroy them. And, as we no longer had the shuttle at our disposal, lowering
shields for transport was the only logical move left. I would’ve consulted the
Commander about my plan of action, but as you well know, he was not available.
I’m sorry if you do not agree with my deeds, Captain, but from my perspective,
they boasted the best chance of success.” She had never once moved from
attention while Janeway circled around her.
“I see,” the Captain replied moving behind the desk to her seat. “I
also found your technological deductions to be remarkably specific; most
young officers, particularly those from science and medicine, would not be
inclined to make such accurate, detailed assessments while being held captive.
You, on the other hand, showed an amazing presence of mind. Can you explain
this?”
“My brother was in Starfleet Intelligence, Captain. He would often
share parts of his training with me; he thought the basic captivity training
given to most Academy graduates to be lacking in several areas. Considering my
recent experience, I would have to agree. Is there anything else you wish to
know, Captain?”
“Not at the moment, Lieutenant. Perhaps though, there is something
you might wish to tell me.” She regarded the young woman knowingly.
“Me?” For the first time, Hannah looked at her commanding officer,
an expression of guilty surprise on her face. “What could I possibly have to
tell you, Captain?”
Janeway sat forward in her seat resting both arms on the desk.
“I think, Lieutenant, you’ll find that like most Starfleet captains, I don’t
like spies aboard my ship, even those from Starfleet Intelligence. Maybe
you’ve told me the truth; maybe your brother was a concerned older sibling.
But this report of yours has all the earmarks of a watered-down intelligence
report. So I suggest you decide who you are, Lieutenant, my science officer or
a member of Starfleet Intelligence. I’ve got enough trouble out here as it is;
I don’t need some SI peering over my shoulder, recording and analyzing my every
action. Do I make myself clear?”
“Captain, I-”
“Is that clear, Lieutenant?”
Hannah drew herself up. “Yes, Captain. Quite clear.”
“Good. Dismissed”

Hannah’s fork picked idly at her food. When she had chosen her career
path in Starfleet, it had seemed to fit her so well, but now, out here,
surrounded by the very people she had been expected to arrest, her original
choice of science seemed preferable. And now Captain Janeway knew. Would she
tell Chakotay? Would he guess it on his own from her report?
She stared out the window. She didn’t want him to know. They were
friends and shared a deep affection for each other. The vivid memory of
cradling his battered body brought a mist to her eyes. *I can’t do it. He
means too much to me. First Tuvok, then Seska, now me; it will mean the end
of any friendship we have, and I don’t want that.*

The doors to the mess opened, and the waves of aromas that hit his
nostrils were interesting to say the least. Hard as it was to admit, he had
actually missed the atmosphere of Neelix’s informal restaurant. He had always
been a bad patient, and being cooped up for five days, first in sickbay and
then in his room, had almost driven him crazy. *Too bad Seska didn’t try
that,* he thought wryly. *I would’ve cracked immediately.* At least, his
confinement had given him time to complete his surprise for Hannah. He hadn’t
seen her much since she left sickbay. *Maintaining her usual discreet
distance,* he reflected.
She was sitting on the opposite side of the room, alone, staring out
at the stars. Acknowledging a few well-wishers, he quickly crossed the mess
and dropped into an empty seat opposite her. “Am I interrupting anything?”
Hannah jumped slightly as she was recalled from her thoughts. “Not at
all, Commander. I’d rather welcome the break.” The smile on her face was not
reflected in her eyes, which remained pensive and distant.
“I read your report, and I’d like to thank you.”
“For what?”
“For saving my life. Blowing out that panel certainly did the job.
Have you ever thought of joining the Maquis?” His dark eyes twinkled in
amusement.
“I really don’t think you would want me to do that, Commander.” Her
expression became abnormally grave.
He studied her curiously for a moment. “You’re right, Lieutenant,” he
finally responded. “I don’t think I would. Anyway, if you had a few minutes,
I was wondering if you would assist me with something.” His playful gaze
returned.
“May I ask what, Commander?”
He stood up and gestured toward the doors. “Come with me. You’ll see.”
“But-” Hannah found herself propelled out of the mess hall by her
elbow and to a nearby turbolift.
“Deck 6,” Chakotay requested, relinquishing his hold once the lift
doors shut.
“Deck 6? What’s this all about, Chakotay?” Crossing her arms over her
chest, Hannah regarded her superior suspiciously.
He grinned mysteriously. “You’ll see. C’mon.” He grabbed her arm and
led her out of the lift. “Computer, intiate program Chakotay four.”
“Program is running. You may enter when ready.”
The doors to the holodeck opened and Chakotay stepped aside to allow
Hannah to enter. With a small amount of apprehension, she stepped inside,
finding herself on a grassy hill overlooking a small village. The sun was
setting on the horizon colouring the sky with various shades of orange,
lavender and blue. Smoke curled out of the golden adobes below, while a gentle
wind stirred the leaves in the trees.
“When I was on the Kazon ship, this is where I came whenever I lost
consciousness. As a child, I used to come up here with my dog to think and
dream of a life among the stars. I always hoped that one day I would be able
to share it with my children.” He gave a gentle shrug. “I don’t know if that
will ever happen; some days out here it seems highly unlikely. Right now,
though, I wanted to share it with you. I wanted you to see what I had been
fighting for as a Maquis; why I gave up my commission with Starfleet.”
“Chakotay, it’s lovely. It reminds me of-”
“Shhh. Don’t say anything.” Releasing her hair from its regulation
bun, he let the wind flow through the dark brown waves. “Just sit down and
relax; listen to your senses. Let them speak to you.”
Obediently, Hannah lowered herself to the ground, wrapping her arms
loosely around her knees. He crouched beside her. “The program is set to run
thirty minutes, but you can extend it through nightfall, if you wish. I’ll
leave now so that you can enjoy it in private.”
Her hand caught his arm as he tried to rise. “No don’t go. Something
this special should be shared. Please stay.” If she were alone with her
pessimistic thoughts right now, the moment would be spoiled.
The desparate glow in her eyes made him relent; puzzled he sat down
beside her. Slowly, the Delta quadrant, the Kazons, even their own pasts
seemed to lose meaning within the computer-generated oasis. As they watched
the sun sink down, her head inclined upon his shoulder, his arm wrapping
securely around her shoulders. Neither spoke until the gold disk disappeared
over the horizon.
“Computer, continue program,” Hannah requested. It’s so beautiful,
Chakotay; I can understand why you would want to protect it. I would, too.”
He stared at her in surprise. “You mean that?”
She looked up into his face. “Yes, I do.”
The emotional honesty in her expression filled Chakotay’s soul with a
warmth he had not felt in quite a while; he knew words could not begin to
express what he felt in his heart. Placing his hand beneath her chin, he
tilted her face up towards him, his lips descending upon hers. “Minimi,” he
breathed softly.
Hannah opened her eyes, not quite believing what was happening.
“Minimi?” she repeated slowly.
He smiled. “It means `wonder’. I thought it would be an appropriate
name for you.”
An embarrassed giggle followed. “Next you’ll be introducing me to my
spirit guide,” she teased.
“Only if you want me to.”
“I do. Honestly. There’s so much I want to learn about you and your
heritage.” Her hand tenderly brushed his cheek. “Chakotay, I care for you
very deeply, and the past few days have taught me how precious our time
together may be. I don’t want to waste it.”
The black eyes scoured her face attentively. A year and a half ago,
they would not have been here together; two weeks ago, they wouldn’t have
allowed themselves to be together like this. Gently smiling, his lips brushed
her forehead. “Minimi,” he whispered thankfully.

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