|Disclaimer: Paramount owns all things Star Trek Voyager. I don’t. Only borrowing
them. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Summary: A crewman has an old score to settle with his Captain and ‘punishes’
her by making her experience a catalogue of injuries she must pass off
as accidents. With a bomb in place on board, he ensures her silence.
Can Chakotay and Tuvok figure out what’s going on before it’s too late.
ALWAYS DARKEST BEFORE THE DAWN.
By KAT LADY.
Kathryn sat on the sofa in her quarters, knees tight together with her elbows balanced on them. Her hands covered her mouth and nose as she stared ahead of her unseeing, her mind in complete turmoil. She kept the lights off almost believing if she couldn’t see anything around her, it wouldn’t be there. She knew without doubt that with the exception of the deaths of her father and Justin, that she had never felt this vulnerable in her life, never had so little control over a situation and it scared her beyond anything. She lowered her head and ran her fingers back through her hair, kneading her scalp, as if the action would stimulate her thinking. She closed her eyes but the images were still there, demanding her acceptance of them. Kathryn sighed deeply and leaned back, once more going back over the events of the night in her mind, as if this time, they might not be real or would have at least changed in some way.
Kathryn stood and stretched and stared down at the pile of padds in front of her, all thankfully finished with. She stepped out from behind her desk and stood for a minute with her eyes closed, allowing her mind to finally acknowledge the fatigue her body had been trying to tell it about for the past four hours. Voyager’s Captain hated this time of year, the month when the crew evaluations were completed and she dreaded the covert looks she received from each crewmember everywhere she went, all wondering if they would make the grade this time. She knew she’d worked far too late into the night but at least they were finished with now for another year and she could finally allow herself to switch off, until the next problem came along. She knew Chakotay would have a fit if he knew how late she’d worked and hoped he wouldn’t find out. She ordered the lights off and entered the almost silent bridge. Harry Kim looked towards the sound of the doors opening and jumped to attention then smiled when he saw the look his Captain gave him.
“Sorry Captain, I know, it’s not crunch time.” He smiled softly at her. “Captain, you really should try and get some sleep. You’ve been hard at those reports all night…” Kathryn held up a hand and returned his smile.
“At ease Harry, I’m finally finished. This’ll be our secret. I’m just heading off to bed now. Don’t call me unless the ship blows up or something…” Harry laughed.
“You have my word Captain. Have a good rest of the night.” He received a wave and only saw her back as she entered the turbolift and was gone.
Kathryn leaned against the wall of the lift, idly wondering if she’d make it as far as her quarters or if some unsuspecting Ensign would find her asleep where she stood at some stage. She smiled to herself as she exited the lift and enjoyed the silence that surrounded her. She loved the ship at this time of night, only the low reassuring hum of the engines to keep her company. She walked slowly towards her quarters, her head down watching her feet move, as she listened to Voyager’s own language, quietly telling her that all was well. Suddenly an arm came around her throat from behind and a hand clamped down tightly over her mouth. A surge of fear running through her, Kathryn struggled as she was pulled backwards into one of the unused cabins but she was no match for whoever held her. She felt herself dragged across the floor and forced face down onto the bed, a heavy weight coming down on top of her. She continued to struggle for a few more minutes until she gave in, her own fatigue coupled with the strength of her attacker, too much for her. She lay still for a minute and then a voice was whispering in her ear.
“That’s right Captain, that’s much better now. Physically you’re no match for me.” Kathryn tried desperately to place the voice but nothing came to her. The faint hope she had that this was someone playing a stupid prank disappeared quickly and was replaced now by sheer terror, as a phaser was pressed to the side of her head and the voice spoke again.
“I know you have no idea what this is about but you’ll get some answers shortly.” The weight stayed pressed down on her and she was finding it hard to breath. As if suddenly sensing this, her attacker eased off her a little but the phaser stayed in place, silently telling her not to try anything.
“All right Captain, listen carefully to me now. You and I are going to be playing a game, a long and slow game that will go on for quite some time. I’ll win in the end and you’ll lose but at least I’ll give you a chance. I’ll be fair however and tell you all the rules. If you win, which you won’t, you will get to see your ship blow up with you and your crew on it.” Kathryn squirmed beneath him and felt the weight push down on her again. “Stay quiet bitch and listen. If I win, which as I said I will, you get to die and I get to be the one to kill you.” She heard his laughter and the weight eased slightly again. “You see, either way you will die in the end and the only question is when and how and who you take with you. You should also know that there’s going to be a lot of pain along the way for you and that I’ll enjoy every minute of our game.” He finally lifted himself off her.
Kathryn turned on the bed slowly and then a light was shining in her eyes, plunging the rest of the cabin into complete darkness. She raised a hand up to shield her eyes from the brightness but eventually had to lower her head away from the glare.
“Here’s the deal Captain and the story behind it. A long time ago, you let someone die a long, slow and painful death. Now I know many people serving under you or working with you met their ends this way. That’s you all over. I’m only here to avenge one of them. I have a list of their injuries and they were many and you Captain, are going to suffer each of those injuries one by one over the coming weeks and months. They will all appear as accidents and you will make sure that they’re reported as such. I’ll help you there of course, making sure that they happen where it will look believable. If you tell one person about this, the ship goes up. That applies to anyone by the way, from the lowest crewmember to Neelix, to Chakotay and Tuvok, even the Hologram. Do you understand me Captain?” Kathryn nodded her head.
“Who are you? Whatever the problem is…” A fist came out of the darkness and smashed into the hide of Kathryn’s head. She cried out and fell backwards across the bed, clutching her head.
“You will speak when I tell you to and at no other time. Now again, do you understand me Captain?” Kathryn sat up, completely dazed and managed to nod her head.
“Good. Now I know you’re wondering how I can manage to do this and I’ll show you in a moment. When we’re finished here, I’ll take you to where I have an explosive device, for want of a better term, hidden on this ship. Don’t try and scan for it because firstly you won’t find it and secondly, certain scanning equipment could well detonate it.” He laughed at the fear he saw on Kathryn’s face. “Oh don’t worry Captain, there’s no way it can go off by accident. Now if you’re wondering, I’m not worried about going up with it. I expect to join you at the end so don’t think that I won’t trigger it while I’m on board. I want you to understand that I will be moving this device around to different areas of the ship at regular intervals and also that this ‘bomb’ is of my own design so no one else would even know how to start defusing it. As things stand, my little device is my insurance that you won’t speak of this and that you’ll take your punishment. At the end, when I win, I will let the rest of them go, I give you my word on that Captain. My dispute if you like, is with you. I don’t want to harm the rest of them here but I will if they get in my way of getting to you. At the end of our game, I will kill you and then I’ll defuse the bomb. No one will die after you when I win. Now Captain, are you clear with me so far?” Kathryn just nodded, still holding the side of her head which was throbbing painfully. He laughed as he watched her.
“That little bump was just a taster. It’s not on the list.” She heard him move around in the darkness. “I debated on whether to give you a copy of my little list, an idea for you of what to expect but then I decided that might be too dangerous. I know your mind and you’d only use it to trace me. Oh I know you’ll try that anyway but I think you’ll fail there with so many victims of yours to choose from. This way, I get to surprise you and you will suffer more wondering what’s coming next. You’re going to have to get pretty inventive with your lies to cover up for all these injuries but I know what a good liar you are so you won’t have any trouble. I want you to know also that if at any stage anything happens to me, either an accident or I’m arrested, this ship goes up because I’m the only one who can halt our little friend. If I don’t re-set the code on it every twenty-four hours, it goes off. If it’s moved without the code entered first, it goes off. Any disturbance to it without the code, such as beaming it into space will have the same effect. So now my dear Captain, if you’re ready, I’ll take you to meet that friend. If you’d be good enough to stand up and face away from me…” Kathryn slowly obeyed and felt his hands pulling her arms behind her back and then some cord or something was tying her wrists together.
“I’m just being careful here although I don’t think you’d be that stupid.” Kathryn felt herself spun around to face her attacker and barely made out that he was wearing what resembled a ski mask. He hunched down and dragged her with him and she heard him give some orders to the computer and then the familiar tingle of a transporter beam.
They materialised in a Jeffries tube and Kathryn fell to a sitting position unable to get her balance with her hands tied behind her. She was dragged for a few feet and then he stopped and worked a cover loose on the side of the small crawl way. Hands once more dragged Kathryn forward and her head was forced down so she could see into the small space.
Kathryn gasped in shock at what she saw. A small device was attached to the side of the piping running through the space and small wheels turned as they clicked softly on each rotation. Several wires intertwined themselves around strange shaped parts and there was also a form of keypad. The rasping whisper in her ear broke the spell the device had on her.
“This is real Captain, in case you were thinking we’re on the holodeck or somewhere.
There is also no way for you to trace our whereabouts at this moment and even if you could, I’ll be moving this little beauty in a while so…” He laughed at the look of horror on Kathryn’s face. “I take it I have your full attention now?” Kathryn nodded slowly, trying to recognize the eyes she could barely make out in the dim lighting. A hand came up and squeezed her neck painfully. “You won’t recognize me Captain, don’t even think that you will. You don’t see any of us on this ship, don’t ever really look at us.” Kathryn turned away as the neck pinch she was in grew more painful and she grunted. He pushed her onto her side and replaced the cover then gave more commands to the computer and they were back in the unused cabin.
Kathryn was lifted and pushed into a sitting position at the side of the bed but this time the light was turned off. She could make out the shape of the unknown man as he paced before her and dropped her head quickly from her study when he turned to her.
“So what do you think of my little friend? Amazing work if I say so myself. All that Maquis training…” He stopped suddenly and turned away.
“All right Captain, is there anything you’re not clear about now?” He turned back to her and Kathryn looked away.
“I don’t understand why you’re doing this. I know what you said but… Why risk the lives of all the others? They’ve done nothing to you… If it’s just me you want, why not just… ” His laughter cut her off.
“Because I want you to suffer in every way you can and I know what your precious ship means to you. You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for this chance. I was amazed when I discovered I’d get a chance to work on this ship with you as Captain, amazed when it fell into my lap. I’ve bided my time and waited patiently for the right moment and now it’s here. Now I’ve told you everything you need to know. You can save the others if you want too. Basically it’s up to you now. If you play the game well, they’ll all live, it’s that simple. Right Captain, the only thing remaining is to tell you when.” Kathryn looked up and heard his laugh again. She tried her best to hide her fear, determined that she not give him anything more than she had to.
“I’ll have to leave you guessing on that one. I’ll give you a day or so, maybe more, knowing that there’s this device on board. Better hope we’re not attacked eh?” Kathryn lost the fight with her fear and he saw it. “Oh God, I’m enjoying this more than I thought I would. OK business now. My first attack will come to you within days, maybe sooner or maybe longer. I won’t spoil the surprise though. I just want you to know what’s coming and let that occupy your mind for a while. It’ll stop you thinking about our First Officer for a while anyway.” He laughed again when Kathryn glared at him. “Did you really think no one has any idea of the relationship between you two…” Kathryn looked down.
“There’s no…” He laughed loudly and caught himself. “Oh Captain, I know there’s nothing but what’s in your head or that dirty little mind of yours, his too for that matter. All you two ever talk about is the ship and trivial stuff.” Kathryn’s head shot up and his laughter met her ears again.
“That’s right, I listen in on occasions, so you see I’ll know if you talk to him about this. I have ways of listening to you all over this ship. I even know that you call out to him in your sleep sometimes…” Kathryn’s look of horror as she realized he had her quarters and other parts of the ship bugged sent him into howls of laughter. When he stopped he was all business again.
“OK enough fun for the night. You have all you need to know so let the games commence. Captain, please stand and turn around.” Her mind swirling, Kathryn did as she was told and felt the cord being cut from her wrists. She rubbed them, trying to sooth the soreness on her skin. Without warning, she felt his arm come around her and a cloth was pressed tightly against her nose and mouth. She was aware for a moment of a sweet smell and then dizziness and finally total blackness. When she came round, she was lying on the floor in her quarters and over an hour had passed, plenty of time for the bomb to have been moved.
Kathryn sat up and a wave of dizziness and nausea swept over her. She barely made it to the bathroom where she was sick for several minutes. As she cleaned herself up, she thought suddenly that he was probably listening in somewhere and had heard her being sick. This thought along with the fact that he had been listening to her in private for however long, sent her back to the toilet bowl and she was sick again. Finally she stood shakily and sipped at a glass of water. Sleep was impossible now and all tiredness had left her anyway. Kathryn made her way to the sofa in the other room and sat, trying to sort her thoughts.
Kathryn came back from reliving the past night and stood slowly. Her body was totally exhausted but her mind refused to calm itself. Eventually she forced herself to her bedroom and lay down, needing to at least give her body a break even if her mind refused to cooperate. Some time near ship’s dawn, she drifted off to sleep, her mind finally losing the fight and giving in to her body’s demands.
Next morning on duty, Kathryn was exhausted both physically and emotionally and spent the day in her ready room, needing the time alone to try and think. As she had walked to the bridge that morning, several crewmembers had greeted her and she found herself barely nodding in response to them, especially the men.
She was jumpy and uneasy and even Chakotay commented on it to her in private but she had managed to dismiss his concerns, citing a bad night’s sleep and too much caffeine as the cause. She saw him accept her excuse at face value but knew that unless she pulled herself together, he’d be back with his concerns again soon.
Two days passed this way with Kathryn suspicious of any male crewmember. Eating lunch the previous day in the mess hall had found her watching all the men, wondering if any of them was the one who had turned her life upside down. Occasionally one of them would meet her eyes and she would look away quickly. Since then, she had eaten in her ready room or her quarters.
Kathryn returned to her quarters that evening, totally drained and within minutes was hailed. She jumped as the voice of her unknown tormentor filled the room.
“Evening Captain, why don’t you meet me. In case you don’t know it, there’s a small storeroom well below decks. Same rules apply now so tell no one. By the way, you did a good job of putting Chakotay off the other day. Lack of sleep and caffeine indeed. Very good that one.” Kathryn heard him laugh as she dropped her head and fell onto the sofa. The fact that he seemed to be listening to her every word disgusted her. Finally she found her voice.
“When do you want to meet me and where do I go?” She heard his laugh again.
“That’s a good girl. We’ll meet in half an hour and in case you were thinking of trying anything, I’ll be watching. As to where, I’ll take care of that. I’ll call you and have you transported when I’m ready for you. In case you haven’t sussed it, I’m pretty expert at this transporter stuff. You can’t trace anything because I hide my tracks too well. Leave your commbadge behind you and order a privacy lock on your quarters. I’ll beam you here using your bio signature. Relax until then Captain.” She heard the link close and fought her tears. She was in a corner, trapped by this maniac and they both knew it. He held all the cards for the moment and Kathryn was forced to play empty handed.
Within half an hour, Kathryn was hailed again and materialized in a small storeroom which she knew was in the bowels of the ship. It could have been one of many, each designed for storage and not aesthetics. Kathryn spun around when she heard a voice behind her.
“Welcome to your first lesson Captain.” Kathryn actually felt herself grow pale. “I’m still trying to decide what to do to you tonight. Still, I’ll get our bit of business out of the way first.” He motioned for her to sit on one of the many boxes then handed her a small case.
“Inside there is a small dermal regenerator. You’ll need it from time to time to hide the results of the smaller lessons I give you.” He laughed and shook his head at the look on Kathryn’s face. “Oh Captain, you are priceless. You’re just not used to being the one on the receiving end, are you? You’re used to having all the control, being the one in charge, the one giving the orders. Well this time, it’s me who controls you.” Kathryn said nothing.
“Tonight will be a fairly good lesson. You’re going to have a bad fall in your quarters, slip getting out of the shower or something. You’ll think of a good excuse. This is the first of the injuries you’ll experience which will match those you left my brother with.” He looked up and met Kathryn’s eyes. “That’s right, the person I avenge was my brother. I know that will mean nothing to you. All the people you killed had families in case you never stopped to think of that.” Kathryn stared deeply at the masked face before her.
“I’m well aware that they all had families and whether you believe it or not, I think about them all often. They never leave me…” He stood suddenly.
“Enough. I don’t believe a word out of your stinking mouth. You care nothing for those you sent to their deaths or their families left behind mourning them.” He raised a hand and struck Kathryn across the side of the head when she went to speak. “What did I tell you before about speaking when I am?” He walked away a bit and starting pacing as Kathryn rubbed the side of her head.
“You really are going to have to learn your place. You’ve plenty of time though. Now tonight, I was thinking maybe…let’s see…how about the arm?” He scratched his forehead and laughed. “Yes, the arm would be good. Plenty of pain there.” He stopped and watched Kathryn as she battled her emotions then moved to her and grabbed her, dragging her behind some containers.
“Put your arm here, between these two boxes.” Kathryn stared at him in horror but was pushed forward again. She saw him swing a padded stick or bar and finally obeyed.
“This is padded to hide any bruising from the blow.” He laughed in Kathryn’s face and pulled her arm into place. He pushed her head away and pushed a piece of cloth into her mouth. “Bite on that if you need to, just don’t scream out. I doubt anyone would hear you down here though.” He pushed against her, blocking her view and she felt his body move as he raised his arm into the air. In seconds Kathryn felt an explosion of pain go through her arm as he brought the padded club down on her forearm and she screamed out, the cloth in her mouth masking the sound. He stood back quickly as Kathryn fell forward to her knees and cradled her arm on her lap. Her tears came quickly and spilled down her face and she spit out the cloth. As she fought the pain that consumed her, she was aware of his laughter.
“Oh I enjoyed that one. That one was good. I can’t wait for the rest Captain.” Kathryn managed to raise her head and look up at him.
“You bastard…you…” His foot kicked out at her arm and Kathryn fell back, screaming out again.
“You’d better watch that mouth of yours Captain. Our little friend the bomb might not like what you have to say to its master. It might get mad and take over…” He laughed as he looked down at the woman lying in agony on the floor and saw that the message had been received. “I’m in control here and you will speak to me nicely and obey my every command. Have you accepted that yet?” Kathryn managed to nod and squeezed her eyes shut against the pain but it didn’t help. As she lay shaking in agony, Kathryn became aware of him kneeling down beside her and opened her eyes. His hand went to her hair and he pulled her head back.
“I’ve been thinking. It’s about time I gave you a name and you had one for me. How about you call me ‘Sir’ and I call you…oh I know…in memory of my brother… He always referred to you as the bitch so…yeh…I’ll call you bitch. Not very original but in his memory, bitch it is. Now bitch, do we understand each other?” Kathryn gritted her teeth and nodded and he pulled her hair tighter.
“Yes Sir…” She spit the words out at him.
“That’s better bitch. Now we stay here for a little while and let you enjoy the pain. I’ll send you back to your quarters in a while and you can get that treated. Just remember, I’ll be listening to you so be careful what you tell the Hologram.” He dropped Kathryn’s head and stood, then went and sat on one of the crates and pulled out a padd and started reading. He ignored Kathryn on the floor, trying to fight the pain that washed over her.
Within half an hour, he stood up again and slipped the padd into his pocket. He walked slowly back to Kathryn and kicked at her arm again. She jerked and cried out,
having been almost unconscious with the pain.
“Ready bitch? Time to send you home until the next time.” Kathryn heard him give some commands to the computer and then she was lying on the floor of her quarters. She struggled to her feet and sat on the edge of the sofa, nursing her broken arm and tried to think of a good excuse to give the Doctor. Eventually she ordered a beam out to sickbay.
“Captain, whatever have you managed to do?” The Doctor was all concern. Kathryn tried to appear embarrassed.
“One word of this to anyone and I delete you.” The Doctor shook his head.
“Just give me the details.” He led her to one of the biobeds.
“I’m not one hundred percent sure of how I managed this. I fell asleep on the sofa and when I woke up, I was still groggy as I made my way to the bathroom. I forgot to order the lights up and fell over something. I think it was my boot but anyway, I fell against the chair and then heard this crack and felt the pain…” Kathryn gritted her teeth as the Doctor examined her arm and scanned her.
“It’s broken all right…although how you managed to do this with a fall like that…” Kathryn pulled on the Captain role and hardened her face.
“Doctor, can you just fix this and stop the pain. I don’t have time for…” The Medic held up his hands in surrender.
“All right Captain, keep your hair on. One mended arm coming up.” He pressed a hypo to her neck and she immediately felt the relief. Within five minutes, she was almost back to normal. “Just take it easy for a few days and try not and use that arm too much. That painkiller should get you through the rest of the night but I’ll give you another in case you need it at some time towards morning. Call and see me again tomorrow and I’ll check your progress. Kathryn nodded and jumped down off the bed.
“Thank you Doctor. That’s much better.” She saw him about to speak and walked quickly to the door. “Not one word or I’ll never live this down. I’ll see you in the morning.” With that she was gone, leaving the Doctor frowning after her. Two Ensigns showing all the signs of a bar room brawl entered then and took his mind in another direction.
Next morning, Kathryn examined her arm and saw that some bruising was starting to show, despite the padding on the club. She quickly used the dermal regenerator she had been given and watched relieved as the marks slowly disappeared. The last thing she needed was questions from the Doctor.
She managed to get through her check up with him and reported to the bridge, once more retreating to her ready room to try and sort her thoughts and deal with all she was doing through. She sat staring off into space for some time, the memory of the pain from the night before still fresh in her memory. She unconsciously rubbed at her arm which was still sore and fought the tears she felt coming. A wave of helplessness washed over her, not for herself but at not being able to protect her crew and ship.
Over the next few days, Kathryn found herself quietly studying all the male crewmembers closely without alerting them to her scrutiny but everyone seemed to be acting normally. Chakotay was aware of the continued change in his Captain’s behaviour and finally tackled her about it again when he was in her ready room.
“Kathryn, you can put me on report but I’m bringing this up again. What’s the matter with you lately? You’re miles away a lot of the time and you’re jumpy and…” Kathryn stood up and sighed.
“Chakotay, I’m fine. It’s just… look I’m fine all right.” She met his eyes and saw that he was not convinced. She thought quickly.
“Look just take it that this is… it’s a woman thing… I’m seeing the Doc so can we just leave it? Please, it’s embarrassing enough saying this…” Chakotay went red instantly.
“Oh… Kathryn…I’m sorry… just…excuse me….I didn’t mean…” He coughed and looked around him. “Just as long as you’re all right…” He glanced at her again and gave an embarrassed smile then fled.
Kathryn closed her eyes and took a deep breath, glad that her plan had worked and sent him running. She knew she’d have to be more careful from now on though with her behaviour.
ON TO PART TWO.
RETURN TO STORY INDEX ONE.
RETURN TO STORY INDEX TWO.