Disclaimer:  Paramount owns all things Star Trek Voyager.  I don’t.  Only borrowing                 

                     them. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Rating:          NC17.

Summary:     Finally home, Necheyev shows the full extent of her hate for Kathryn

                     and presents her with a deal.  Either she goes to prison or Chakotay

                     and the crew do.  Forced to announce her wish to retire and reclaim

                     her old life, Kathryn is sent into a living hell, leaving behind a very

                     hurt and angry Chakotay and crew, who have no idea of the sacrifice

                     their Captain has made for them.  By the time they find out, it may

                     already be too late.



WARNING:   This story contains graphic material of a violent and sexual nature.





AND I WILL LEAD YOU HOME.

By KAT LADY.



PART ONE.







Kathryn bit down hard on her clenched fist and squeezed her eyes tightly closed.  She even held her breath in a futile effort to gain some shread of control over the pain which ran through her body in hot waves.  She willed herself not to cry out, determined not to let her jailors hear her suffering, knowing every sign of weakness would be reported back to the one who had put her here.



She lay on her bunk now, in the same position she had fallen, when the guard had roughly shoved her down on it earlier.  Pain continued to wash over her and she fought the waves of nausea which accompanied it.



Today’s beating had been the worst yet, the guards as usual standing back, refusing to intervene, almost encouraging the other women whenever they attacked her.  Kathryn wondered if this too was part of their orders.



At first she had been able to defend herself to some extent, but as the constant attacks wore her down, the injuries she sustained rarely treated, she was now an easy target for the others to vent their hate on.



She gingerly tried to move her other arm, knowing some bone there was broken, and lightly pressed against the throbbing wound in her side.  Her breath caught in her throat and she swallowed a cry, as a jolt of pure agony shot through her at the contact. 



The stab wound was a few days old now, left untreated and she knew from the pain and burning she felt from the area, that it was now badly infected, and that the poison was running through her, her body’s natural defences unable to cope anymore.



*Oh please God…help me…get me through this…*  It struck her how often she prayed now as she fought to control her breathing in an effort to lessen her pain.  As it continued and she began to shiver from her fever, despite feeling as if she were on fire only a moment ago, she suddenly amended her prayer.



*Oh God…just take me…end this torture…let me die this night…don’t let me face another morning…another day here…*  She opened her eyes slightly and squeezed them tightly shut again almost immediately, the bright light of her cell cutting into her eyes.  They left the light on most of the time now, denying her any relief from it.  Occasionally, they shut it off, when they sensed she needed the comfort of it, leaving her in the dark to face whatever horrors her mind conjured up, most of them memories of her time here.



Without warning now, the light went out, plunging the cell into darkness.  Kathryn eased her eyes open as she listened to the sounds of the rats, as they ventured out from behind the walls in search of something to eat.  She didn’t fear them when she could make out their small eyes in the occasional sweep of faint light from the searchlights outside the prison.  She realized now that these rats were the only creatures here she didn’t fear.



She tried to regulate her breathing once more, concentrating on each breath in and out, trying to control her pain.  Her body went from hot to cold and back again and her thirst was desperate, but she knew she wouldn’t get any water this night.  She never did after a beating.  She knew it was almost two days since she had eaten but that didn’t bother her now, her insides too nauseous to accept any offering she made to it.



Eventually her body began to let go, her mind following closely behind.  Kathryn gave in and let her thoughts drift back, let them return to a day…*how long ago now?*  She gave up trying to work it out and just let the memories and nightmare images come to her.



^^^^^^^^^^



They were home.  Finally after all those years of struggling and hardship, they were home.  Kathryn stood on the bridge and smiled at her bridge crew, remembering all their happy times also.  She then smiled to herself.  For the most part, she knew she wouldn’t change their adventure.  Her smile slipped a little though as she remembered those lost along the way and she shook her head slightly.  Maybe she would change a lot of it, after all.



The gentle pressure of Chakotay’s hand on her arm brought her back to reality.  She turned and smiled into his kindly face, seeing that he was almost reading her thoughts.



*You my friend…I wouldn’t change you for the world…Maybe now I’ll have the courage to tell you how much I love you…*  She returned his smile and nodded, silently telling him she was fine.



There had been a brief press conference when they reached Earth, no member of Voyager’s crew allowed to speak to the waiting media.  Holoimages were allowed to be taken but the crew were watched closely, even their conversations with each other monitored.  They were then taken to separate sections of Headquarters, Kathryn in one direction, Chakotay in the other.



They didn’t see each other over the next weeks.  Debriefings went on late into the night mostly and by the end of the third week, Kathryn was physically and emotionally exhausted.  She was separated from everyone and everything she knew, kept from all media coverage even.  She spent her days in a stuffy office, answering endless questions over and over, every single word of her logs taken out and examined.  Late at night, she was escorted back to her one roomed ‘cell’ where she was given a light meal and locked in, until the entire ritual began again the next day.



Kathryn knew who was behind her treatment.  One Admiral Alynna Necheyev.  Kathryn was only too aware that the older woman hated her.  In the coming days, she would find out just how much.



The days dragged on, Kathryn talking until she was hoarse, in the small artificially lit room.  She had barely seen the sun.  As the fourth week drew to a close, Kathryn finally learned her fate.



Necheyev sat waiting for her this day when she entered the small room.  Kathryn hid her surprise as well as she could, as she took her seat.  Necheyev for her part, barely glanced up, scanning through some padds on the desk before her, letting the silence stretch ahead endlessly.  Kathryn knew her game and refused to play it.  She used the silence and the time to stretch her arms and legs, glancing around the room at anything other than the woman before her.  Finally she felt the stare of the Admiral on her and met her eyes.



“I’m not going to beat around the bush here Janeway.  It’s a simple offer.”  Kathryn remained quiet until she knew more.  The other woman’s stare never wavered.  “This meeting by the way, is off the record, and you’ll never prove it took place.”  Kathryn barely nodded, a tight knot building in her stomach.



“I’ve never made a secret of how I feel about you or how I felt about your father either.  You Janeways are a thorn in my side.  At least now, I only have one of you to deal with, thank God…”  Kathryn clenched her teeth together, refusing to give this woman the satisfaction of seeing her rattled.



“That just leaves you…”  She sneered openly at Kathryn.  “What are we going to do with you?”  She stood now and fetched herself a cup of coffee, not offering the woman before her anything.  When she had filled her cup, she looked back at Kathryn.



“You must have thought you’d return here as Starfleet’s ‘Golden Girl’.  I’m so sorry you were disappointed.”  Kathryn stayed tight-lipped, her expression remaining neutral.  “I guess you had no idea that I was in charge…”  She laughed to herself and shook her head.  “That one must have shocked the pants off you…”  She sneered at Kathryn again.  “I imagine it doesn’t take much to get the pants of you though, does it?  Probably whored your way home…”  She laughed again as Kathryn just kept her stare even.  “No?  I find that hard to believe.  I’d say you fucked everyone on that ship.  Can’t see you being fussy about little things like race or gender…”  She laughed again at her own crude words.  Kathryn just looked back to her, her eyes betraying nothing, determined to hold her dignity.  Finally Necheyev sat again and placed her cup on the desk in front of her.



“Well Janeway…here’s the deal.  You’ve come back to find me in charge of it all.  Your mother and sister are gone…”  She laughed.  “I won’t bother to offer condolences.  You Janeways don’t have much luck with shuttles, do you?”  She shook her head as she laughed, seeing Kathryn fight her tears.  “I’d avoid them if I were you…or then maybe not…”  Kathryn just looked away.



“You don’t have much of a sense of honour, do you?  At least with this crash, it was on dry land, quicker for them…”  She shook her head.  “Messier to clean up though…”  She smiled when she finally got a reaction, as Kathryn turned and glared at her.  “Tut tut Janeway…calm down now…”  She stood again and looked down at the woman seated before her.



“OK fun over with.  Here’s the deal.  I have the fate of your Maquis scum in my hands…”  She nodded and smiled now when that got a reaction from Kathryn.  “Now you’re interested…”  She sat on the corner of her desk.  “Well, it’s like this.  I have the power to send the damned lot of them to prison for the rest of their miserable days.  I even have the power to send them to a Cardassian prison, especially that traitor of a leader of theirs.  What’s his name now?  Ah yes…Chakotay…screwed him too, did you?”  She studied Kathryn's face for a moment and then nodded again.  “Interesting.  There’s something there with you two all right.  He certainly asks about you enough…and now that I see your reaction…  Sleeping with the enemy, were we Captain?”  Kathryn bit down on the inside of her mouth and looked away.  She spoke now for the first time.



“What do you want Necheyev?  I’m not interested in playing your little power games.”  She stared straight ahead of her, too tired and too worn down to say more.  She caught the Admiral moving back to her chair from the corner of her eye and then looked to the side as the woman sat down in front of her.



“I know you never screwed him, even though you badly wanted to.  Screwed a few others though, didn’t you?  What were their names now?  Jaffin…yes…that was one…oh and of course…Michael Sullivan.  Really Janeway, a hologram?  You must have been desperate…and then that Inspector…of course you didn’t get past first base with him…”  She laughed when she looked into Kathryn's eyes and saw the anger and shock there.  “What?  You surely didn’t think I’d overlook your personal logs now, did you?”  Kathryn barely held herself in her seat.



“You had no right…  How dare you…”  She jumped slightly when Necheyev jumped up.



“I had every right.  I own you Janeway, body and soul and don’t you ever forget that.  Your ass belongs to me now.”  Kathryn jumped up also, unable to control her rage.



“You don’t own me…”  She jumped again when the other woman slammed her fist down on the desk.



“Sit down you bitch.  I own your Chakotay’s fate and the fate of the others, so in turn I own you.  Now sit down and shut up.”  They glared at each other for a full minute until finally Kathryn moved back to her chair, knowing she had no other choice.  Despite her reaction, she knew she had little fight in her.



“I’ll ask you again.  What do you want?”  Necheyev laughed and sat also.



“That’s better.  Good girl.”  She laughed again at the glare she received.  “I’ll tell you.”  She played with her cup for a moment, letting the moment build.



“I told you I had a deal for you.  The fate of those traitor bastards lies in my hands.  You can save them though.”  Kathryn tried to control her breathing.



“What is it you want?”  Necheyev smiled evilly.



“I want you.  I want your pain and suffering and I want you out of the way.  Either way, whichever way you choose here today, I’ll get that.”  She let her words sink in before continuing.  “They go to jail or you do.  It’s up to you.”  Kathryn just stared at her.



“You can’t get away with this.  No one has that power…”  Necheyev laughed again.



“Oh I have that power.  One word from me in the right place and this happens.  One stroke of the pen as they used to say, or in this day and age, one imprint of the thumb.  Your ass is mine Janeway, I told you that.  Now shut up and hear me on this.”  She glared at Voyager’s Captain.  “Here’s the choice.  You can walk out of here a free woman.  You’ll lose everything of course.  No uniform or back pay.  No references.  You’ll leave these precincts with nothing and walk out those gates to nothing for the rest of your life.  No one will take you on because I’ll make sure of that.  You’ve nowhere to go and no one to go to.  You also won’t have a former crew because I’ll make sure that every last one of them, Starfleet and Maquis, serve time.  Their kids will end up in homes and they’ll all blame you.  You’ll die out there a sad, lonely and empty woman, knowing you have nothing and that you were responsible for ruining a lot of lives, which you’ve already done once anyway.”  Kathryn stared at her in disbelief, too shocked to speak.  Necheyev savoured the moment.



“Your other choice is this.  They walk free and you go to prison.  You’ll still die a sad and lonely woman though and that’s the beauty of this plan.  There’s just one little proviso with this way.”  She watched Kathryn closely.  “No one will ever know that you’re in prison.  As far as anyone is concerned, you simply walked away and never looked back.  You’ll serve at least ten years in a maximum security facility, solitary confinement with hard labour but with the knowledge that your former crew are going on with their lives.  I’d considered sending the lot of you down but this way gives me more satisfaction in the end.  So Janeway, what’s your choice?”  She smiled now, her face a cruel twist.  Kathryn dropped her eyes and squeezed them closed.  She brought her breathing under control, fighting the tidal wave of emotions which swept over her. 



“They’ll never buy that.  They’ll fight you…”  She looked up slowly.  Necheyev just shrugged.



“Fight what?  They won’t know anything.  As far as they’re concerned, you’ll have just abandoned them.  They’ll buy it because you’re going to tell them that you’re leaving, that you’ve had enough of them after all these years.  Oh I know Chakotay is going to be terribly hurt but so what.  That was something else I saw in your logs.  You love that bastard…admitted it…never told him though…  Too bad.  You’ll hurt him and be hurt more because of that and that’s all that matters to me.”  She threw her head back and laughed.  “God I love this…”  Kathryn just stared at her, not believing the evil she was looking at.



“Why are you doing this?  What have I ever done to make you hate me this much?”  Necheyev just bit her lip.



“That’s for me to know Janeway.”  Kathryn shook her head.



“You’ll never get away with this.  Starfleet will find out…”  Necheyev leaned towards her, her mouth a thin line.



“I am Starfleet, you stupid little bitch.”  She leaned back now and smiled to herself.  “Tell you what, you think about this for a few hours and let me know your answer.  I think I know it already but I’ll give you this time, just to be fair to you.  Aren’t I being fair now?”  She laughed as she stood up. 



“Let me put it this way Janeway.  There’s enough in those logs of yours, Voyager’s and your personal ones, to send you down anyway.  Your crew were accessories to all that and the Maquis are traitors to the Federation so you could all still serve time.  This way suits me more.  This way you suffer the most and that’s what I want more than anything.  You’ll disappear into a nice little prison where your life will be hell and I’ll get the satisfaction every day of knowing how you’re suffering.  God, life can be good.”  She picked up her cup and played with it. 



“No one out there will ever find out where you are, because you and I will make sure of that.  You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your little band of criminals are going on with their little lives, marrying, having kids, being happy.  You’ll miss all that of course, but who cares.  Your Chakotay will meet a nice little piece of ass and marry her.  She’ll give him the kids you hoped would be yours and he’ll be happy.”  She laughed again.  “Still you can save him.  Oh he’ll be hurt and disgusted with you, probably learn to hate you even.  They’ll all end up doing that.  And then there’s you.  You’ll spend each day praying for your death and I’ll spend my days filled with the satisfaction of knowing all that.”  She moved away now and placed her cup beside the recycler.  “You think about it all.  Just know this.  I can and will do what I’ve said here and you know that.  The choice is yours.”  She leaned over and pressed a button on her desk and almost immediately, a uniformed guard entered the room.  “Take this back to its cell.  I’ll see it again in two hours.”  With that she was gone, leaving Kathryn sitting there with her life and her dreams in ruins.



^^^^^^^^^^



Kathryn sat on the side of her bed and wept bitterly.  The thought of never seeing Chakotay and her crew again tore at her but she quickly replaced it with images of them all in prison, their families torn apart, suffering when they didn’t have to.  She wiped at her face and shook her head.  She already knew the answer she would give Necheyev, had known the minute the words were out of the other woman’s mouth.  She told herself that this was just one more sacrifice she had to make for her crew, and that taking what Necheyev planned for her and hurting those she loved, was just the price she had to pay when she knew the alternative.



Kathryn stood stiffly now and made her way to the small washbasin.  She splashed water on her face and dried it, staring at the image in the mirror before her.  Her eyes looked dead and she knew they matched how she felt inside.  She felt empty, unable to fight back and she shook her head sadly.  These past weeks had worn her down, the constant questions and isolation, leaving her with nothing to fight with against this woman who hated her so much.  She moved back to the bed now and sat wearily, forcing herself to hold the tears back this time.  She was successful for the most part but inside her at that moment, her heart died.



^^^^^^^^^^



Chakotay sat in the grounds of Starfleet and smiled at Tom and B’Elanna.  He glanced around at the other crewmembers and nodded to the few who met his eyes.  Suddenly he became aware of B’Elanna speaking to him and shook himself.



“Sorry B’El, I was miles away there…”  He smiled at her laugh.



“You don’t fool me, old man.  Your mind was still within these precincts…”  Chakotay shook his head and smiled again.



“Less of the old man if you don’t mind and I’ll admit it, my mind was still here…”  Tom smiled at them both.



“I’m sure it won’t be much longer now.  They let us mix together again after only a week.  They’ve even let us all have family visits.  I suppose it was only to be expected that the Captain would be kept longer than the rest of us…”  Chakotay nodded, his face serious once more.



“Maybe…  I just miss her…”  He realized his slip but smiled when he saw the surprised look on the two faces before him.  “Oh don’t look at me like that.  The entire crew knows how I feel about her.”  They all smiled.  “I just want to see her again and…”  B’Elanna reached over and patted his hand.



“See her and maybe propose?”  She laughed and ducked the hand that aimed a slap in her direction.



“You’re getting far too big for your boots Torres.  I’m still your Commanding Officer.  Remember that.”  B’Elanna saluted him.



“Oh yes Sir.  Forgetting my place here Sir.  Permission to be bridesmaid Sir.”  Tom rolled on the grass with laughter as Chakotay just shook his head.



“If I’d known then what I know now…  Why did I ever take you on…?”  B’Elanna was laughing hard too.



“Because I was the best damned Engineer you ever had the good fortune to encounter and because you love me.  Go on…say it…tell B’Elanna you love her now…”  She blew a kiss in his direction before dissolving into laughter again.  Chakotay joined in, their laughter infectious.



“Paris, will you take this woman off my hands please?  Marry her or something.”  His laughter slowed as he witnessed the look which passed between his two friends.  “Hang on here, is there something you both want to tell me?”  They turned to him and both smiled.



“Actually Tom asked me only last night and I said yes.  We’ll tie the knot as soon as we can get out of here.”  Chakotay’s face broke into a huge grin and he leaned over and hugged B’Elanna then slapped Tom on the back.



“About time.  Seriously though, I’m very happy for you both.”  He grinned then.  “You deserve each other…”  He ducked the slap which B’Elanna made at him. 



“You’ll really enjoy giving me away, won’t you?”  She laughed but the look which passed between them was tender and spoke of shared memories.



“You honour me friend.  I’m really happy for you, for you both.”  They were quiet then for a while until B’Elanna broke the silence.



“Chakotay, you’ll see her soon and everything will work out.”  He smiled and nodded.



“I hope so…I really hope so…”



^^^^^^^^^^



Kathryn allowed herself to be escorted back into the small room where she spent most of her time these days and waited quietly until Necheyev came in.  She noticed the embarrassed look on the face of the young guard and smiled softly at him.  For his part, he just looked away, seemingly unable to meet her eyes.



Kathryn barely managed to avoid jumping when her enemy stormed into the room and sat down quickly.



“Well Janeway, what’s your answer?  I haven’t got all day here.”  She rearranged some padds on the desk in front of her and then stared hard at Kathryn.  “Well?”  Kathryn drew in a deep breath.



“You already know my answer.  I have no other choice here and you know that.”  Necheyev laughed and sat back.



“Oh I know that all right, and you have no idea of how much pleasure it gives me.  As I said before, either way you pay and suffer.  I want to hear you say it though.  Which do you choose?”  Kathryn stared hard at her.



“You can send me to prison.  Whatever it takes to let them go free.  Is that what you want to hear?”  She watched the Admiral’s face break into a wide grin.



“You’ve made my day Janeway.”  She smiled evilly and Kathryn felt a chill run through her.



“Just one thing.”  Necheyev raised an eyebrow.



“And what would that be?  You’re in no position to make any demands here.”  Kathryn kept her gaze level.



“How do I know you’ll keep your word on this?”  Necheyev’s smile came, twisting her face as her eyes narrowed into slits.



“Oh you can take my word on it.”  She laughed at Kathryn's scornful look.  “Let me put it to you this way.  There’ll be another press conference where it will be announced that all the Maquis members will be pardoned.  You’ll attend that press conference with me.  It will be announced but won’t be signed and sealed until afterwards.  I’ll sign it in your presence an hour later and then you leave here and begin the best time of my life.  Besides, I want you to know that they’re free and moving on with their happy little lives while you rot away.”  She stood now and got herself a coffee, then sat again.



“At that press conference, you will not converse with any member of your former crew, especially that bastard Chakotay.  You’ll read a statement which I’ll prepare, announcing your wish to retire from Starfleet.  At that time, you’ll also announce that you will be leaving San Francisco because you need to get away from what you’ve had to endure for the past number of years.  Something to that effect anyway.  I haven’t prepared your statement yet.  You will read only what I give you to read and say nothing else.  All this will take place in the next day or so.  As soon as the press conference is over, you’ll leave with me and we’ll take care of that bit of business.  Then my dear, the rest of your miserable little life can begin.”  She shook her head and laughed.  Kathryn just sat there, knowing her life was over.



^^^^^^^^^^



Two days later, Kathryn entered a large conference hall with Necheyev at her side.  She looked towards the small dais and saw that there were only two chairs there behind a table.  She then glanced towards the right and saw Chakotay and the rest of her crew, all sitting together.  Her eyes met Chakotay’s briefly, his face lighting up with a smile as he looked back at her, his feelings for her clear to see.  Kathryn forced herself to harden her expression and merely nodded at him and then cried inwardly as she saw the smile slip from his face, to be replaced by a look of hurt and confusion.



She tore her eyes away from his and glanced at the other crewmembers gathered around him, determined not to meet anyone’s eyes.  She then looked to her left and saw the assembled press.  A nudge against her arm from Necheyev drew her attention and she walked to the dais and took her seat.  She pulled at her uniform, twisting a little to pull it into place on her thin frame.  It felt too big on her now and she knew she’d lost weight over the previous weeks.



Kathryn glanced quickly over the crowd assembled before her.  She looked then at Necheyev sitting beside her and a wave of nausea washed over her at the thought of what lay ahead.  She forced down the pain which ran through her and bit the inside of her lip.  As silence finally descended over the hall and her enemy cleared her throat to speak, Kathryn took a deep breath.   *You can do this…it’s for them…to save them…save him…*  She clutched the padd in her hand and prayed for strength.  Prayed for the first time in a long time.



“Ladies and gentlemen of the press, Voyager crewmembers, ladies and gentlemen of the public, I welcome you here today.”  Necheyev was in her element and smiled sweetly for the holoimagers.  “Today is a special day, a very special day.  It is a day I shall remember for a long time.”  Her words were meant for Kathryn and she knew it.



“I know you’re all anxious to know about the verdict which has been reached by Starfleet and I know the families gathered here today are anxious to meet with their loved ones who have been missing from their lives for so long.  Without further ado, I’ll now make that announcement and then Captain Janeway here will read a statement of her own.”  Necheyev smiled at the woman beside her and patted her arm, her touch burning into Kathryn's flesh.



“First of all, I would like to say on behalf of Starfleet that we are all very proud of what this crew achieved.  To have made their way home against the odds which were stacked against them, was an amazing feat.  I welcome them all here today and say to you ‘Welcome home people’.”  There was clapping and some cheers.



“Now, I won’t keep you hanging any longer.”  She cleared her throat again and picked up a padd, which she briefly looked at.  She then looked towards the audience.  “The decision of Starfleet regarding the members of the former Maquis who then joined with the Starfleet crew…  I can announce that all members of the former Maquis…”  She looked at Kathryn briefly and smiled but her eyes were cold.  “They are all to receive full pardons and are now considered members of Starfleet.”  The hall erupted in loud cheers and hollers.  Kathryn for her part, let out the breath she had been holding.  She risked a glance towards Chakotay and saw that several press members were snapping off holoimages of him and the other crewmembers.  She looked away before he could look back at her.



When the cheers died down, Necheyev smiled again at the press members.  Kathryn just kept her eyes down.



“That, ladies and gentlemen, is the good news.  I also wish to announce that full back pay will issue to all Voyager’s crew and that positions within Starfleet await any of them who wish to take up that offer.”  Kathryn could feel Chakotay’s eyes on her but she didn’t dare look up.  “There is one other matter which needs to be dealt with here.  As I said, that was the good news.  I now unfortunately, have to announce to you the bad news.”  There was silence in the hall.



“I have to inform you that Captain Kathryn Janeway, who led her crew home under such unbelievable circumstances, has informed me of her wish to retire.”  There were shocked gasps around the hall at this news.  Kathryn tightened her grip on the padd she held and raised her head a little as holoimages were snapped off by the press members who had rushed to the dais.  She glanced over at Chakotay and saw the look on his face, a mix of hope that maybe she would be free to come to him now and nervousness that maybe there was more to this.  She looked away quickly.



“Captain Janeway has made her wishes clear to us and we must respect those wishes.  It is understandable under the circumstances, that she would wish to let go of the mantle she has carried for so long and reclaim her life.  I will let her now read out the statement she has prepared.”  Necheyev sat back with a smile on her face, carefully hiding the smug, satisfied look she wanted to show.  Kathryn glanced at her quickly and up close, saw what no one else could.  She saw the evil venom in the woman’s eyes.  She turned back and activated the padd and prayed for the strength to get through the next minutes.



“I state for the record…”  She cleared her throat and forced her emotions to shut off.  “I state for the record that I am Captain Kathryn Janeway.  This is the statement I wish to read to you now.”  She gripped the padd tightly, her knuckles almost white and kept her eyes down.  “As of this date, I wish to state that I hereby retire from Starfleet.  That is for the official record.  For my own part, I wish to state that I had a fine crew out there.  It was a long and hard journey to get home.  Now that I’m home…I want to leave that part of my life behind me…”  She clenched her teeth together to control herself, hearing the shocked gasps from her crew.  “I wish to leave that behind me and move on with my life.  I had a life before all this and I wish to find that life again.”  Kathryn stopped again, needing a moment to try and control herself.  She kept her eyes down, knowing that if she so much as glanced towards Chakotay, she would break down.  “The last years have been eventful and interesting to say the least and they were hard but now they’re over and it’s time to move on.  When I leave here today, I’m going away to find my old life again.  I would ask you all to respect my privacy and let me get my life back.  Thank you for your time.”  She forced herself to look up as more holoimages were snapped off.  Not once did she look towards Chakotay and her crew.  She felt Necheyev lean forward beside her.



“Ladies and gentlemen, please now.  I feel it appropriate at this moment to also ask you to remember those crewmembers who didn’t return home…the ones who sacrificed their lives…”  Kathryn's head snapped up and she stared at Necheyev.  The woman had deliberately made it look like an oversight on the part of Voyager’s Captain.  “I’m sure the Captain wants the families of these men and women to know that they are in her thoughts.”  She smiled sweetly at Kathryn and patted her arm then turned back to the press. 



“Captain Janeway has spoken with me over the last weeks and made herself very clear on this.  She explained it to me quite clearly.  She feels she worked long and hard to get her ship and her crew home but that her job is done now.  It is only understandable that she feels now that enough is enough.  She was with these people, fine people all of them, for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  Is it so hard to understand that she would now wish to get away and reclaim her life?”  Kathryn lowered her head again and fought to hold herself together.



“We have asked her and she has promised to consider, a place within Starfleet again some day.  In time perhaps, when she’s managed to put all this behind her and forget about it, perhaps then she will return to us and take on the role she was always meant for, within her Starfleet family.  That is all, ladies and gentlemen.  Good day and thank you for coming.”  Kathryn felt Necheyev grip her elbow as she went to stand and stood with her.  She let herself be led across the hall towards the door through which they had entered.  As she passed her crew, she tried not to look at them but her eyes still met Chakotay’s face, despite her best efforts.  What she saw there, broke the last shread of anything which lived within her.  His face had hardened as he stared at her, carefully masking the hurt she still managed to see.  He held her eyes for a brief moment.



“Captain.  Goodbye.  I hope you find the life you want.”  He turned away immediately.  Kathryn felt her nails dig into her palms and her eyes scanned the rest of her crew.  None of them held her eyes for more than a split second, before they too looked away.



^^^^^^^^^^



Outside the hall, B’Elanna stood beside Tom as she fought down the rage she felt.  She swallowed hard as she looked up at Chakotay.



“I can’t believe…”  She shook her head.  “Chakotay…I’m so sorry…”  He met her eyes and shook his head.



“I can’t believe it either…but it was clear…”  He looked away to where several press members were still hanging around.  He watched as a Starfleet Official walked over to them.



“Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re waiting for Captain Janeway, she has already left.  There’s nothing more for you here.”  With that, he turned and re-entered the hall.  Chakotay snorted.



“That answers that.  She’s already left to ‘re-claim her life’.  Seems she can’t wait to put us all behind her.”  Tom shook his head sadly.



“You don’t think this was all just…maybe…that she’ll…be in touch…?”  He shrugged when he saw the look on the faces of the others.  “OK it was a thought.  I just don’t want to believe that she’d…  I can’t believe all this.  I can’t believe that the woman who stood on that bridge, was the same woman who sat in there today.  I don’t buy that.”  He blew out a long breath.  “Come on Chakotay, you knew her better than anyone out there…”  Chakotay looked sadly at him.



“Part of me wants to believe as you do, but another part of me now believes I never knew her at all.  The woman I thought I knew would have had the basic common manners to speak to her crew face to face before she left.  She would have at least thanked them for what they did.  That woman in there…  She didn’t even mention those we lost.  Necheyev had to cover for her with that.  You saw her, she couldn’t wait to get out of there.  She wouldn’t even look at us.”  His anger was starting to build and he didn’t care who saw it.  Tom shook his head and sighed.



“I don’t know.  I still think…”  Chakotay cut him off.



“Look Tom, she’s back where she belongs.  It didn’t take her long to revert back to what she was before.  All the time out there, she acted the way she needed to, in order to get home.  She used it and she used us and we just bought into it…”  Tom shook his head.



“No…no…I still think there’s more here…  Chakotay, we were out there for years.  No one can keep up an act that long, not even her.”  B’Elanna laughed.



“Oh come on Tom.  She just let it slip a little.  She was Starfleet then and she’s Starfleet again now.  She may say she’s retiring but she’ll be back with them in no time.  It’s what she is.  We served our purpose and now she has her fancy life back, she doesn’t need us anymore…”  Chakotay nodded his head.



“To think I ever…and yet…  Look you two, I have to get out of here.  I’ll see you later.  I just need to get away from here…”  He shook his head and walked off.



“I still think there has to be more to this…and Chakotay might see that when he cools down…”  Tom sighed deeply as B’Elanna gave him a gentle smile.



“Look Tom, Chakotay’s hurting badly and she caused it.  She led him on in a way and now she’s just rejected everything he ever felt for her.  I can’t forgive that.  I also can’t forgive what happened here today.  I know she was kept away with debriefings but she could have come to us today and said something.  Instead we got that…that display in there…  I can’t forgive that.”  Her voice, which had risen, softened again.  “Tom, I know she was like a mother to you, someone you looked up to, but you saw for yourself.  I know it’s hard to take and I know you’re hurting too but…”  She clearly saw the hurt in his eyes.  “Honey, let it go.  We have our lives ahead of us and…”  She smiled.  “Look, let’s see how it goes.  I’ll reserve my final judgement on this.  If we hear from her over the next few days or weeks, I’ll back down, but if she just disappears from our lives…”  Tom took her hands in his.



“OK love, I’ll go along with that.”  It was all they could do.



^^^^^^^^^^



Necheyev smiled to herself as she watched Kathryn looking out the window at her crew.



“They certainly don’t think much of you at the moment, do they?  I thought it went very well.  Your performance was lacking somewhat, but I think it worked well nonetheless.”  Kathryn turned slowly from the window.  Seeing Chakotay’s hurt, pain and anger was too much for her.  She had watched as he had stormed away, her heart crying for him.  For now, she hardened herself.



“Let’s just get those pardons made official.  I assume you can keep your word on that at least…”  Necheyev just laughed.



“Touchy, aren’t we?  Here they are.”  She slid several official padds across the desk for Kathryn to look through.  “I’ve already taken care of them and you can see where they’ve been entered into the official records.”  She watched as Kathryn studied the padds carefully.  “I can assure you they are in order.  Check the computer there and you’ll see that copies have already been sent to all the media outlets.  It’s official now.”  Kathryn just glanced up at her and accessed the computer terminal, checking and double-checking everything.  Finally she was satisfied.  Necheyev shook her head and laughed.  “Happy now?”  Kathryn merely nodded.



“What now?”  Necheyev came around the desk and stared hard at Kathryn.



“Now?  Now you begin your descent into hell Janeway…” 



^^^^^^^^^^



Chakotay sat and sipped at the cool glass of lemonade B’Elanna had brought him.  He looked out over the garden of the small house they had bought.



“What will you do?  You’re more than welcome to stay on here with us, you know that, at least until you find somewhere…”  Chakotay smiled and shook his head.



“Thanks for the offer, B’El.  I’ll take you up on it for a day or so more but then I’m leaving.”  He saw the shock on her face.  “There’s nothing for me here now.  I don’t mean you two and the crew but…”  He saw they knew exactly what he meant.  “Look, I want to go home.  See what family I have left and re-connect with what I was.  Maybe that way, I can learn to let go.  Hopefully at least to get rid of some of this anger and hurt because I know in the end, they’ll only eat away at me.”  Tom swirled his drink in his glass, spilling a few drops on his trousers which he wiped away.



“I really thought we’d have heard from her…a few words…something…”  B’Elanna studied her new husband.



“I’m sorry Tom, I know you did, but it’s been a month now.  She never even answered you when you invited her to the wedding.  We don’t even know if she received it.”  They both saw the hurt on his face.



“I was sure Dad would be able to trace her but she seems to have disappeared off the face of the Earth.  He even asked Necheyev if she knew anything.”  Chakotay looked up.



“Did she know anything?  They seemed to get on at the press conference.  Funny that, because Kathryn always said the woman hated her guts and I got the feeling it was mutual.”  Tom shrugged.



“Dad said she hadn’t heard anything.  He can’t stand her either.  She thinks she can rule Starfleet to suit her own needs and for the most part, she does.  Dad couldn’t understand Kathryn being with her either, said something about Necheyev never having liked her or her father.  It goes way back.  I don’t know.  I don’t understand any of this…”  B’Elanna reached over and squeezed his arm.  She smiled to herself at hearing Tom refer to their former Captain by her given name but they had all taken to using it now, the habit picked up from Chakotay, and the term ‘Captain’ just didn’t apply in their minds anymore.  They all used first names now, every crewmember, rank left behind them when they walked from Starfleet.



“Tom, you have to let this go.  The rest of us have for the most part.  We’re not so angry anymore.”  She smiled sadly at Chakotay.  “It’s better that way.  She hurt us all badly but we’ve let it go and gotten on with our lives.  She could have gotten in touch with any of us, at any time.  We’re not hard to find.  We may not have taken Starfleet up on their offers but we’re still around.”  Tom nodded but his face said otherwise.  Chakotay shook his head.



“I still find it amazing that not one crew member took up a position with them.  Everyone resigned.  I can’t imagine that was liked although I didn’t hear any objections.”  B’Elanna laughed.



“Probably glad to see the back of us.  Too much trouble in the end.  They got their moment of glory from us and then moved on.  Well, we got our pardons and moved on too and I for one, am glad.  I wouldn’t swap the life I have now…”  She looked over at Chakotay.  “Sorry…”  He smiled his understanding.



“B’El, don’t ever apologize for being happy.  You have what you and Tom want.  You have a lovely home here, work you both love.  Enjoy every second of it.  I’m better than I was and you know that.  I’m still angry and hurt at what she did but it’s not the raw pain it was.  I’ve developed an acceptance of it all now and the rest will fade in time.  For now, I just want to go back to Dorvan and make a life there for myself.  At the very least, I’ll lay some ghosts to rest there and come back here and make a life on Earth.  That’s if you two don’t mind me being around.  I’ve already cramped your honeymoon period.”  B’Elanna rolled her eyes.



“Chakotay, you’re my brother and Tom’s too.  Don’t you ever feel that you’re not a part of this family.  Now shut up and stop hogging all the lemonade…”



^^^^^^^^^^



The past month for Kathryn had been a living hell.  She had quickly and quietly been transferred to her place of imprisonment without another word from Necheyev.  Her evil smile had said everything for her.  Kathryn had thought she would accompany her to the prison but then understood that the Admiral wouldn’t take the chance of being seen.



Within minutes of arriving at the prison, Kathryn's ‘descent into hell’ had begun, just as Necheyev had promised her.  As soon as had she materialized in a cold and damp room, two guards advanced on her and grabbed her arms roughly, dragging her down a hallway into a smaller room.  She was asked one question, to confirm her name and then it began.



She was ordered to strip in front of four leering male guards, their batons in hand, warning her not to try anything.  Kathryn had managed to hold onto her composure for just a moment, as she stared back at them, before two of them grabbed her and held her, while the other two cut the uniform from her body.



“That’s the last time you’ll wear that uniform, you whore…”  They had all laughed at the comment as Kathryn had fought to hang onto what little of herself remained and didn’t fight them.  She was pushed forward then, their hands on her body as she was roughly strip-searched.  She tried her best to hide her tears of humiliation and pain but they saw them, giving them something else to laugh about.  She had tried to force her mind out of the room as their hands pulled and prodded at her, their fingers deeply probing her most private areas, invading her body, hurting and humiliating her as best they could.  She was then pulled into another room, where they threw white powder over her and ordered her to shower.  Kathryn had stood under the freezing water, trying desperately to wash the stinging powder from her mouth and eyes.



She was then issued with a prison uniform, mostly rags, and taken to her cell, the place they told her would be her home for the next ten years, if she didn’t die first.  She had been pushed roughly through the door, landing hard on the stone floor, her head banging painfully off it, before the heavy metal door was slammed shut and the light put out.  It would be more than a week before she left the cell again, a week which almost killed her.



Kathryn had no way of measuring the time as she lay on the small and smelly cot her guards had provided her with.  She had only managed to find it by groping her way around in the dark.  She knew she wasn’t alone in her cell, the small scurrying sounds which came to her, telling her that.  She knew it had to be rats but she swallowed her fear and curled into a tight ball on the narrow bed.



The light had come on then, almost blinding her and she had curled tighter into herself, shielding her eyes from the glare.  Some time later, it was switched off again, just as she had gotten used to it and was welcoming it.  The light chased away the rats at least.  It went on and off over the next hours but no one came near her.  Eventually, a sound alerted her to a small panel in the door being opened and she squinted against the light coming on to see a hand place a tin mug on a small ledge, before withdrawing. 



Kathryn stood shakily and walked to the door, taking the mug and examining the contents.  It looked like water but something frothy floated at the top.  Instinctively, Kathryn knew one of the guards had obviously spit into it.  Knowing she needed the liquid in her body badly, she used her fingers to scoop out the spittle and forced herself to drink the foul tasting liquid.  Within seconds, she knew there was more than saliva in the water.  Cramps and a wave of nausea gripped her body and she fell to her knees in agony, the mug dropping noisily to the floor.  She barely made it to the small toilet bowl before she was violently sick and within another minute, knew her drink had also contained a strong laxative.  For the next hour or more, Kathryn was forced to endure the sniggers and taunts of the guards, as they watched her through the door, her body straining against the attacks on it.  Whatever semblance of dignity or pride she might have had left, was taken from her now.



Weak and exhausted, badly dehydrated most likely also, Kathryn had eventually managed to crawl to her bunk, where she had fallen onto the course covering, her body trembling and shaking.  The stench in her cell sickened her stomach but she forced herself to swallow, determined not to be sick again.  Some time later, two guards came in and hosed the cell down, spraying disinfectant on the floor, before turning the hose on Kathryn, their laughter ringing in her ears.  Finally, she had passed out, welcoming the oblivion, but knowing that her escape wouldn’t last long.



Kathryn was roughly shaken awake and dragged off her cot.  Dry bedclothes and another raggedy uniform were thrown at her.  She waited a moment to see if the two guards before her would leave but quickly understood that they were there for a free show.  Turning her back to them, she stripped off the damp rags she wore and slipped the dry ones over her head.  She tuned out the lewd comments and set about changing her excuse for a bed.  Finally they left, their laughter floating back to her as they walked down the long corridor.  Kathryn had simply curled into a ball again and tried to find some escape through sleep.



Some time later, the panel opened again and a bowl of something resembling a thick paste was pushed into her.  She eyed it warily but the hunger which was consuming her won out.  She forced the paste into her mouth and swallowed, trying not to taste it.  As the hours went by, she knew that this offering at least, hadn’t been tampered with.



Time passed, the light going on and off with no pattern to it.  She was hosed down once more, in the corner this time, and another set of rags given to her.  It was dark again now and she just lay there.  She jumped a little when the light came back on and she heard the heavy door opening.  She looked towards it and saw a guard she hadn’t seen before, at least she didn’t think she had.  He stood there for several minutes, two more guards she recognized standing behind him.  This new one just stood and stared at her, his baton slapping repeatedly into the palm of his hand.



“Well well…what have we here…a gift of fresh meat from our Admiral friend…?”  Kathryn eased up in her cot, a surge of fear going through her.  “I take it she’s been ‘well treated’…?”  The two behind him laughed and nodded.  “Good.  Good.  Can’t have her getting it too easy now, can we?”  He slowly advanced into the cell now, never taking his eyes off Kathryn.  “Been hosed down?”  One of the guards answered.



“She’s been cleaned inside and out…hosed down only an hour or so ago…”  The new guard nodded his head and laughed. 



“Good…all ready for us then…”  Kathryn looked from this new guard to the other two when she heard the door closing.  Raw fear now surged though her and she looked back at the guard standing over her.  She knew her fear showed, but there was nothing she could do about it.  She saw his face twist into an evil smile and watched as one of his hands dropped and he cupped his crotch.  “Yeh…she’s ready all right…”  Kathryn cried out and jumped up off the cot.  Within seconds though, the two guards had her in their firm grip and were holding her tightly between them.  They were both laughing as she struggled vainly, one of them looking to his superior.



“Front or back…?”  The new guard just laughed. 



“On her back at first…let her see what she can expect from now on…”  Kathryn screamed and cried out and struggled harder as she was dragged towards the cot and pushed down on it.  She kicked as best she could, her uniform riding up her thighs as they held her upper body and arms in place.  She screamed again when she saw the senior guard drop his baton on the cot and unzip his pants, releasing himself, before he grabbed her legs.  Kathryn was helpless as he tore the rags from her then held her legs and hips down, before lying over her.  He grabbed her face as she continued to beg and cry out.



“Shut up you stupid bitch…  you better get used to this…”  With that, he forced his way inside her, invading her unwilling flesh as Kathryn screamed out at the agony which ripped through her. 



Some part of her left her body after that.  She almost felt as if she were watching from across the cell as they took turns with her, twisting her back and forward between them, taking her whatever way they wanted to.  They flipped her onto her stomach, then onto her back again, forcing themselves into her repeatedly, until there was no struggle left in her.  Now she just lay there and let them pull her body around, her mind having left the arena.



Over the next days, Kathryn was never given any more clothes to wear.  She was left lying on her cot, naked and shivering, her body marred with numerous scratches and bruises, bites and cuts, as the guards came and went, taking what they wanted from her whenever they felt like it.  From time to time, one or two of them washed her down.  Pain was her only companion. 



They mostly came in groups of two or three, occasionally four and at times, one came alone, knowing he wouldn’t have any trouble with her.  She didn’t fight anymore, just withdrew into herself as it continued on and on.  And then they stopped coming so often, the novelty of the ‘fresh meat’ they had spoken of, wearing off.  Finally she was given a set of rags to wear and like the robot she had become, she pulled them on and then just lay there.  Two days later, she was taken out into the fields to work, the guards having decided that she had been broken in.  She was reminded that she was there for hard labour, and another hell began.



Over the next weeks, her body worked and some part of her mind co-operated with it, but the woman who had been Kathryn Janeway was no longer there.  She toiled under the hot sun from dawn to dusk with little water, her feet throbbing painfully from the constant blisters she got from the ill-fitting boots they have given her.  Her hands were as bad.  The guards constantly watched her, hitting her whenever they felt like it.  She slowly became aware of other prisoners working around her in adjoining fields but she never looked at them, although she was aware that they wore different uniforms to her.  As darkness fell each evening, she was dragged back to her cell, a small bowl of paste and a mug of the stale water all that awaited her.  Nightly visits from the guards were rarer now but not unknown.  Occasionally, one of them would come to her, take what he wanted and then leave, her limp body and lack of struggle, giving him no challenge.



As time passed, Kathryn's mind almost shut down, in an attempt to keep itself sane.  The guards constantly hit out at her for not being quick enough or some other ‘rule infringement’ she had committed.  Occasionally, flashes of her former life came to her but she quickly shut them away, not wanting any more pain.  Eventually, she was forced to work with other prisoners and despite the state of her mind, instantly sensed their hostility towards her.  She heard the guards tell the others that this was the ‘Starfleet bitch’ they had all heard about, that she was nothing but a ‘weak little nobody whore’ and a ‘lousy fuck’ with it.  Kathryn tried to ignore the lewd comments the guards made about her and just worked on, using the gruelling work to stop her thinking.  She knew the more exhausted she was at the end of the day, the easier it was to find oblivion when she collapsed on her bunk.



Kathryn constantly felt the smack of the guards’ batons on her arms or legs, or across her back or hands.  The others laughed at her, especially when she cried out.  Kathryn kept a close eye on the other women and noticed how a lot of them went willingly with the guards during the day, strolling towards the small huts which surrounded the fields.  She knew what they were doing and found that she actually understood, knowing that they would grab at whatever made life any easier for them.  In her own case, it would never come to that.  The guards just took it anyway. 



The first attack by the other prisoners came shortly after that, the guards standing back and letting it happen.  Something in Kathryn fought it, as two other women jumped her, screaming abuse at her for crimes she had no knowledge of.  Eventually one of the guards had called a halt to their entertainment and Kathryn had been dragged back to her cell early, no one coming to treat the injuries she had sustained.



After that, the attacks in the field happened almost every other day, the women feeling they had almost been given a licence by the guards.  Once after she had fought back, one of the guards had taken over the attack, knocking her to the ground, where he had smacked her face a few times before forcing himself on her, to the cheers of his fellow guards, even the other prisoners.  Whatever it was in her that held her together kicked in, and Kathryn had painfully pulled herself up from the ground after this, pulling her uniform back down, before picking up her spade and returning to work.  The cheers and laughter died down almost immediately.  Over the next days, fewer attacks came.



^^^^^^^^^^



ON TO PART TWO.



RETURN TO STORY INDEX ONE.




RETURN TO STORY INDEX TWO.



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