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

                     them. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Rating:          R - For some violence.

Summary:     Voyager is boarded and the crew held by an alien race seeking their

                      technology.  Kathryn is separated from her Senior Officers and tortured    

                      for information, the crew forced to listen to her screams.  Rescue comes

                      and as Chakotay sits with a badly injured and drugged Kathryn waiting

                      for the Doctor, she finally tells him she loves him, leaving him unsure

                      if she was aware of her words.  The battles now, both emotional and

                      physical, have only just begun.





When it was thought about and spoken of later, Voyager’s crew and senior staff would accept that they had never stood a chance.  Most would tell stories of how it had been a day like countless others of late, of how they had been going about their duties, repairing something, or sharing a meal with friends in the mess hall, walking down a corridor or simply passing from A to B, when it had been an ordinary day one minute and the next, they had been boarded and taken over, the weapon of an Aluki soldier in their face.  The experiences would vary but one thing would remain consistent.  It would be a long time before any of them felt safe again or before the sounds which came to visit them at night, left them.


“Let me understand you here Mr. Paris.  You want me to partner you in the pool tournament but my identity must remain a secret until the moment of the match?”  Tom’s face was serious, a perfect study of innocence.

“Captain, I have no idea who’s going to partner B’Elanna so it’s only fair that I get the same consideration.”  Kathryn smiled to herself, trying to avoid laughing aloud.

“And replicator rations and my reputation as a pool player have nothing to do with this?”  Tom’s eyes widened in mock hurt.

“Captain, how could you even think that I would…?”  Kathryn held her hand up and allowed some laughter to escape.

“Because I know you.  Anyway, I must turn you down, just as I did B’Elanna when she asked me.  This is strictly between the two of you.  I want no part of it.”  Tom’s mouth fell open.

“She asked you already?  Why that little…”  Kathryn raised an eyebrow.

“Careful Mr. Paris, ever hear the saying about ‘the kettle calling the pot black’?”  Tom shook his head.

“I don’t believe she did that.  She played me at my own game.  Well this is war.”  Kathryn smiled and shook her head.  She turned and smiled at her First Officer beside her and saw that he was already watching her.  Kathryn blushed as she met his intense gaze and saw his face redden before he looked away.  Kathryn recovered quickly.

“So Commander, are you going to attend this battle of…?  We’ll have to find a suitable name for this contest…”  Chakotay turned back to her, having composed himself somewhat.

“Maybe it would be better to ask the Doctor to come up with a name.  After all, he’s going to have more to do with it than any of us.  Someone’s going to have to repair all those broken bones Tom will have…”  Voyager’s pilot swung round in his chair, feigning deep hurt.  Kathryn smiled broadly at the look on his face and watched as it fell away quickly as he stared off over her shoulder, a few seconds after she heard the lift doors open.  Instantly knowing something was wrong, she turned around just as Tuvok shouted a warning.  What she saw froze her for a moment.

At the door to the turbo lift stood four alien soldiers, heavily armed.  Kathryn jumped up immediately and reached for her phaser.  It briefly registered with her how they laughed just before she fired and immediately she understood why.  Her weapon was useless.  Chakotay was now at her side, his own phaser drawn but she saw that his too wouldn’t fire.  Within seconds, the bridge had been taken.  Kathryn fought down the rage that rose within her and faced the four large aliens.

“”Who are you and why are you on my ship?”  She drew herself up to her full height, putting every ounce of authority she could into her voice and stance.  The soldiers ignored her then turned quickly when they heard the lift doors opening.  A slightly taller alien entered on his own and nodded curtly to the others.  He strode onto the bridge, his weapon hanging loosely at his side.

“Which one is the Captain?”  He directed his question to his men, ignoring the bridge crew, but seemed to know the answer already, as he moved towards Kathryn and looked her over.  One of the others moved to his side quickly and stared hard at Voyager’s Captain.

“This female here Lor.”  The leader nodded and continued looking up and down at the woman before him.

“Mmm I see.  This species actually allows females to lead them?  No wonder they were so easy to take.”  He laughed to himself as his men politely joined in.  The second he grew serious again, they followed suit.

“We are the Aluki and my name is Lor Bren.  You are now in our service.  Obey and no one need die here today.”  Kathryn let her hostility for this alien show clearly and faced up to him.

“We are in no one’s service and this is my ship…”  He smiled down at her a moment, a look of amusement on his face as he turned away. 

Kathryn never saw it coming.  One minute she was facing up to this alien, the next his fist had made contact with her face and she was falling backwards, her head banging painfully off the arm of her chair.  She lay stunned for a moment, hearing Chakotay and the others shouting and then it was quiet.  She rolled over and looked up, feeling a trickle of blood escape her lip, only to see weapons pointed into the faces of her senior officers, daring them to object to anything. 

“Commander…stand down…”  She struggled to stand and felt Bren’s hand on her arm, hauling her to her feet again.  Suddenly his face was in hers.

“Captain…I’ll let this go because you don’t understand the rules yet and everyone is entitled to one mistake.  You have my word that this will be your last one.  If you cross me again or irk me in any way, a member of your crew will die.  I give you my word on that.”  Kathryn remained quiet and let the contempt in her eyes speak for her.  Bren just smiled evilly at her.

“Right all of you, listen now.  I shall not be repeating this.”  He moved away and smiled to himself as Kathryn steadied herself without his grip holding her.  She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and stared at the blood there for a moment.  “As you will have deduced by now, your weapons are useless so we are in command.  Our weapons however, work just fine.”  He nodded to one of his men, who fired a shot at the wall, doing little damage but letting Voyager’s senior crew see the truth of his leader’s words.  Bren stared back at Kathryn, making his point well.

“Firstly, our ship is travelling alongside yours but thanks to our technology, it is well cloaked.  Our coming aboard this ship was well masked using that same technology, just to answer any questions you may have.  Now you know.”  He walked in a small circle and studied the group before him.

“You however, have some technology of your own which will greatly enhance ours and that is the reason we are here.  We scanned your vessel so we know exactly what we are looking for.  We want your replicators and several of your ship’s weapons.  Some of your warp technology will also be useful.  Nothing else interests us but we’ll check through your computer database to be sure.”  He moved back to Kathryn and looked down at her.

“Once we have what we came for, you may be on your way again.  We are a fair people.  I won’t take any life if I don’t have to, but believe me when I say that I will not hesitate to kill if the need arises and it won’t cost me a thought.  What I can tell you is that I shall use any means necessary to get what I want and you Captain, have something I want.”  Kathryn returned his stare, refusing to be intimidated.

“I can tell you here and now that I will never let you have any of our technology.  We have a rule called the Prime Directive, which forbids us from trading or sharing that technology with anyone.”  Bren just shrugged.

“If you want to do this the hard way, so be it.  We’ll just take what we want.  However Captain…”  He raised a hand and grabbed Kathryn’s hair, pulling her head back.  “I do require this ship’s command codes so if you would be so kind…”  He gripped tighter but saw the woman he held maintain her composure.

“I can’t and won’t give those to you.  I’ll destroy this ship first.”  He shook his head and smiled.

“I admire your courage Captain but it’s wasted.  I’ll have those codes one way or the other.  I honestly don’t believe you would destroy this ship and your crew along with it, just to protect some high ideal.”  Kathryn stared back hard at him.

“You can believe it.  I will never give you what you want and neither will any member of this crew.”  Bren pulled her against him and lowered his face to hers. 

“I really don’t think you want to test me on that Captain.”  Kathryn caught Chakotay out of the corner of her eye as he jumped forward in her defence, not thinking about the consequences.  In a second, a weapon was pointed in his face, making him think again.

“I thought I had made myself clear.”  Bren moved back, taking Kathryn with him and pulled a knife from his belt which he held to her throat.  Chakotay held a hand up quickly.

“Leave her alone.  It was my fault.  A reflex action.”  Bren pressed the cold metal against Kathryn’s throat, pressing down and drawing a thin line of blood along the edge of the blade.  Chakotay watched, knowing his emotions were written on his face.  Bren took a moment to consider, then laughed and removed the knife.

“All right.  I think my message has been made clear now.”  He pushed Kathryn away from him and walked around the bridge, studying everything he saw.  “Now Captain, all non-essential crew have been taken to the Cargo Bay and the rest are being watched closely under armed guard as they run this ship.  These lot…”  He gestured to the bridge crew.  “They can stay here and do what they do.  They will be well guarded.  Besides I don’t trust the brains of the ship out of my sight.”  He looked up suddenly as the lift doors opened once again and another alien strode on to the bridge, carrying a black case. 

“Ah…about time.  I have some work for you Doctor…”  He smirked at Kathryn, who held a hand to her neck, and nodded.  “This female here is your patient…”  He moved towards Kathryn to make his point and stared hard at her.  “Don’t make the mistake of thinking he’s here to treat that cut either…”  He pointed to her neck and laughed as he saw her try to control her fear.  He turned to two of his soldiers and nodded to them.  “Take her to her office.”  The two men moved to Kathryn’s side and grabbed her arms roughly, then dragged her across the bridge towards her ready room.  She heard Chakotay and the others shout and raised her voice above theirs.

“Stand down Commander…”  She managed to turn her head and meet his eyes for a second.  Their eyes locked and she tried to draw strength from what she saw there before the doors closed behind her.


B’Elanna was fighting a battle on two fronts, one against the soldiers watching her every move and one within herself against the red mist of rage that threatened to control her.  She was aware that the soldiers never took their eyes of those they guarded and she resorted to communicating with her engineering crew by eye and a series of cryptic remarks, finding they all actually understood each other.  She found herself briefly thinking back to her first days aboard Voyager, believing then that she would never fit in or get on with these people and now they were family, depending on each other every day.

They spoke ‘engineering speak’ to each other, masking many messages being passed to and fro and the Klingon glanced back at their guards frequently, seeing that so far, no suspicion had been aroused.  The act they all put on, mere ‘worker bees’ going about their jobs, appeared to look natural to the guards and told B’Elanna a lot, mainly how the personnel situation on their ship worked.  She knew herself from experience, that Voyager was a unique ship where its crew was concerned, that it was rare if not unheard of, for a crew to share such a closeness.  She smiled slightly to herself, thinking that it was also unheard of for a ship to be stranded so far from home.  She looked up now as the doors to engineering opened, admitting another soldier.  This was exuded an air of command about him and marched to the centre of the work area.

“Who’s in charge down here?”  B’Elanna stepped around him, checking readings as she went.

“I am and you’re messing up my day.”  She glanced up at the man a moment.  For his part, he stepped over to her and grabbed her arm.

“And you are…?”  She pulled her arm from his grasp.

“B’Elanna Torres.  How about the same courtesy?”  He smiled down at her, his amusement evident.

“Feisty.  I like that.  I’m Lor Crel, second in command to Lor Bren.”  B’Elanna placed a hand on her hip, a habit subconsciously picked up from her Captain. 

“What’s this Lor?  Some kind of title?”  He watched her a moment and nodded.

“All senior Aluki soldiers have the title of Lor.  It is highly desired.”  B’Elanna merely nodded.

“Right.  Well Lor Crel, I have work to do.  This ship won’t keep moving unless I make it so.”  She moved away from him but he followed her.

“You don’t seem too put out by us being here.  Do I take it this happens to you a lot?”  B’Elanna barely glanced up and went on with her work.

“No it doesn’t but I want to get home and as long as this ship keeps heading in the right direction, I really don’t care who’s in charge.”  She looked squarely at him and watched as he studied her.

“No loyalty to your Captain?”  B’Elanna shrugged.

“Some I suppose.  It’s more to the rank than the person.  As long as we’re heading home, I don’t care who wears the pips.  If they do right by me, I’ll give them my respect.”  She held his gaze a moment longer then went back to the readings she had been working on.  She felt him watching her a moment longer as she worked a console.

“Do all the crew feel that way?”  B’Elanna let out a sigh.

“Some I suppose.  We’ve been stranded out here a long time and most of us have families waiting at home for us.  We just want to get back to them.  Getting there is our first priority.  At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who gets us there as long as someone does.  Listen, the senior officers, they’re up there and we’re down here.  Surely it’s the same where you come from.  Look, I have work to do and I’m sure you have too.  I can’t speak for the others.”  She shook her head and moved away again, leaving him with something to think about.


Lor Bren watched the doors close behind his soldiers and Voyager’s Captain.  He turned and met Chakotay’s eyes, seeing the venom there.  He merely smiled to himself and ignored it.

“Tell me, where is your own Doctor?  Your sickbay seems deserted.”  He addressed his question to Tuvok.

“Our Medic was killed within the first week of this voyage.  Our ‘Doctor’ is an Emergency Medical Hologram.  It works well enough.  The program is only activated when needed.”  Tuvok’s calm manner was very convincing.  Bren nodded slowly.

“One of you take one of these prisoners down there and check it out.”  A soldier stepped forward and grabbed the arm of Harry Kim, pushing him towards the lift.  Bren held the eyes of the Vulcan and nodded to him.  “We’ll see.”  Tuvok merely raised an eyebrow.


Kathryn sat in the chair one of the soldiers had pushed her into and tried to control her breathing.  They stood in front of her, their weapons trained on her as the ‘doctor’ sat on her sofa.  No one spoke, all obviously waiting for Lor Bren to join them.  Kathryn forced herself not to think of what might be ahead for her and instead used her time to try and study the weapons the men held.  Bren had made sure that they knew the Aluki weapons worked and she saw that they appeared similar to the phaser rifles Voyager had on board and so she tried to work out how they could operate when their own phasers were useless.  Kathryn tried to force her mind to tactical matters rather than let this invader have his way.  She knew this waiting was his way of building up more fear in her mind but she was determined not to play that game with him.


The young soldier wasn’t rising to the bait as Harry tried to engage him in conversation and he eventually gave up.  They reached sickbay and entered.

“Go on.”  The soldier used his weapon to make his point.  Harry threw his eyes up.

“Computer, activate EMH.”  The Doctor shimmered into place.

“Please state the nature of the medical emergency.”  He stood staring ahead of him, no trace of personality showing and waited patiently.  The soldier lowered his weapon and moved around to study the sight before him.  He used his weapon to poke at the man who had appeared out of thin air and met solid matter.  The Doctor merely looked in his direction and repeated his question.

“Seen enough?”  Harry acted as if he wanted to get back to the bridge but the soldier was still studying the hologram.  Harry tried to show impatience.  “Look, you have all non-essential personnel locked down in the Cargo Bay, the engineering staff at their posts under guard, the senior crew on the bridge, also guarded, and the Captain in her office with your own Doctor and two of your men.  Your ship is cloaked and travelling along beside us.  Your weapons work and ours don’t which is obviously why you’ve left them with us.  There’s no threat.  This is a hologram as you can see.  What else do you want to know?”  The alien finally turned back to Harry.

“I’ve never seen anything like it.  It can treat all injuries?”  Harry acted bored.

“It can perform surgery even.  It can do whatever it’s programmed to do and nothing more.”  Harry winced inwardly, knowing he’d pay for his words later, that the Doctor was most likely blowing internal circuits as he spoke.  “Anything else?”  The soldier shook his head, paying more attention to the Doctor.

“No…nothing…”  He finally dragged himself away.  “All right…how do you shut it off…”  Harry sighed.

“You just tell the computer to shut it off.”  The soldier was watching him and smiled now.  Harry saw the Doctor nod at him behind the man’s back, letting the Ensign know that the tactical information had been received and understood.

“Can I do that?”  Harry nodded.

“Just tell the computer to deactivate the EMH.”  The soldier laughed and gave the order and looked like a little boy as the Doctor disappeared before his eyes.

“That’s so…”  He caught himself and turned back to his prisoner.  “We’d better return to the bridge.”  Harry nodded and made for the door, hearing the man behind him still laughing to himself in wonder.


Bren turned when Harry and his guard returned to the bridge.  Chakotay locked eyes with Harry, trying to read him.  Harry barely nodded, letting his First Officer know that the Doctor had ‘performed’ well.

“Sir, it is as he stated.  I even shut down the program myself and saw it disappear.  It speaks even…”  Bren nodded and gestured for the man to retake his position.

“All right.  I’ll see for myself later.  This technology might be useful to us.  Besides, if I don’t get what I want, your EMH will be needed.”  He turned to Chakotay now.

“I need those command codes.  Can you give them to me?”  Chakotay glared at the man before him.

“Even if I had them, I wouldn’t give them to you.”  Bren shook his head and laughed.

“I imagine only the Captain has what I want…”  He moved towards the ready room, letting his meaning hang in the air as a fist of fear gripped Chakotay’s insides.


The Doctor shimmered into view in plain sight of the assembled crew in Cargo Bay Two and looked around him.  Immediately Samantha Wildman and a few others rushed towards him.

“Doctor, what’s happening?”  The Medic held up a hand.

“The ship has been taken over.  I estimate about forty soldiers.  I saw that no one was guarding you from in here.  They obviously believe that no essential systems can be accessed from here.  There are however, about ten soldiers outside the door.”  Samantha looked to the others.

“Is there anything we can do from here?”  The Doctor nodded. 

“I believe so but I need to speak with engineering first.”  He tapped his arm.  “Thankfully I have my mobile emitter.  It allows me to appear and disappear at will.  I’ll speak with Lieutenant Torres and get back to you.  Now, how many are here?  How many have phasers?”  He did a quick head count and nodded.  “I’ll be back as soon as I can.  We’ll get out of this, don’t worry.”  He leaned down and patted little Naomi on the head, getting a small smile to replace the look of worry.


Bren strode into the ready room and Kathryn looked up quickly, meeting his eyes, determined not to show any weakness, despite the knot of fear she felt in her stomach.  He stood and studied her for a few moments.

“Feel more like talking to me now Captain?”  Kathryn remained tight lipped and just stared hard at him, using her contempt to smother her fear.  “I see I’ll have to loosen your tongue then.”  He advanced on her and pulled her from the chair.  Using one hand to hold the front of her uniform, he repeatedly struck her in the face, leaving her dazed and with blood pouring from her nose.  He then nodded to the two soldiers to hold her and proceeded to punch her in the ribs and stomach several times, as Kathryn bit down hard on her lip, tasting her own blood, but determined not to cry out, in order to spare Chakotay and the others on the bridge from hearing her.

Bren seemed to tire of his game quickly when his victim didn’t cry out and stood back now.  He nodded towards the chair and turned away.  The soldiers dropped Kathryn into the chair and laughed as she slumped back, her breathing erratic as she fought her pain.  She saw Bren shake his head and turn back to her, studying her.

“No… this won’t do.”  He moved behind the desk and pulled the other chair out.  “Put her in this one.  More suitable for what I need.”  He smiled slyly at Kathryn, hoping to see some fear from her but was disappointed.  The soldiers pulled her up and forced her down into her own chair, laughing as she groaned in pain.  “Much better.  Doctor?” 

The alien Doctor nodded slowly and stood up, bringing his black case with him.  Kathryn swallowed quietly, forcing her fear down as he opened the case, showing an array of surgical instruments and what resembled old-fashioned syringes.  She saw thin intravenous tubing and coils of wire, alongside containers of fluids.  She watched as the alien doctor extracted the coils of wire and handed them to Bren.

“Now Captain, I’ll give you one last chance to give me those codes.  I can assure you this will get extremely unpleasant if we move ahead…”  He looked down at her, seeing a battle taking place on her face for a brief moment before she turned away from him.

“I’ve told you I will destroy this ship before I give you anything.”  She turned her head back and stared at her captor, letting the steel in her eyes reinforce her words.  He merely shrugged.

“Very well.  Don’t say I didn’t give you a chance.”  He motioned to the two soldiers to hold Kathryn and stepped towards her.  “Get that jacket off her…”  Kathryn didn’t fight them but she didn’t cooperate either as the two men pulled her uniform jacket off.  “And that…”  Bren was enjoying his work and didn’t hide the fact.  Inflicting fear was food to him.  The soldiers pulled Kathryn’s polo neck off over her head, smearing the blood from her injuries over her face, and waited for further instructions.  Bren looked at Kathryn in only her tank and smiled.

“Remove her boots and socks…”  He waited until Kathryn had been divested of these items also and then smirked.  “That’s all right for the moment.  Once I can get at her veins…”  He laughed and uncoiled the wire he held.  “Hold her in place…” 

Kathryn grunted in pain and bit her lip as Bren wound the wire around her wrists and ankles, securing her to the arms and legs of the chair, the thin wire cutting into her skin, drawing blood.  He moved behind her and wound some more around her throat, pulling her neck tightly against the back of the chair.  Once more the wire cut painfully into her flash.  Kathryn closed her eyes a moment, willing strength into herself, as she fought to control her breathing and her growing fear.  She opened her eyes to find Bren grinning down at her.

“That’s not bad at all.  Not bad for a start anyway…  Doctor…?”  He smiled at the other man and stood back.  Kathryn ground her teeth together as the Doctor pressed needles into the veins on the back of her hands and attached some of the tubing to them.  She drew in several deep breaths as he pulled a syringe of cloudy liquid from the case and pressed it against one of the tubes.  He looked up at Bren,  awaiting his order and Kathryn saw the alien leader nod. 

She felt the cold of the liquid enter her hand and for a minute there was nothing.  She calmed her breathing, hoping their drugs would perhaps not act with human physiology but that hope was quickly taken from her as she felt a surge of burning pain wash over her, spreading into every corner of her body.  Despite her best efforts, she heard her own screams as if from a distance.


Chakotay’s head shot up as Kathryn’s screams echoed around the bridge.  He looked around him quickly and saw his own pain reflected on the faces of the others, Tom barely holding himself in his seat, despite the weapon in his face.  He heard a few sniggers from the soldiers and glared at them, causing them to laugh even more.  As the screams slowly faded away, he dropped his head and fought to control himself.  He’d be no use to her if he fell apart.


Kathryn’s head rolled to the side, the wire cutting into her neck.  A film of sweat covered her body as the pain slowly faded.  She found she was panting, trying desperately to draw air into her lungs.  She tried opening her eyes but her vision was blurred with tears and no matter how hard she blinked, the moisture returned, replacing what ran down her face.  Muffled sounds slowly made their way to her now and she could make out the laughter of the soldiers around her.  She felt a hand grab her hair and straighten her head and then Bren’s face was before her.

“Did you enjoy that little journey, my dear?”  He laughed again, the others joining him.  “That was nothing compared to what you’ll experience.”  He gave her a few minutes until she could focus on him again and then spoke to her.

“Let me tell you Captain, what I plan to do with you.”  Kathryn fought to concentrate on his words.  “The Doctor has a drug here which would make you talk in seconds but I prefer a little pain first.  Puts me in the mood you could say.”  He watched her as she licked at her now dry lips and saw how breathless she still was.

“Are you going to tell me what I need to know?”  Kathryn managed to turn her head away a little, unable to speak even if she had wanted to.  Bren stepped forward and grabbed her head again, forcing her to look at him.  Kathryn grunted as the wire cut into her neck again and felt a trickle of blood run down her neck to her chest.

“I see.  Very foolish Captain, very foolish indeed.”  He stared hard at her for a moment.  “You know, I would love for your crew to see you as you are but since that’s impossible, I’ll let them hear you instead.”  He laughed into her face and gave orders to the soldier beside him to establish a channel which would be relayed to the entire ship and to open it each time their prisoner screamed.    He then moved back to Kathryn.

“Maybe it’ll help motivate them if they have to listen to your screams long enough…”  He stood back now and nodded to the Aluki Doctor.  When the alien medic was ready, Bren nodded to his men to open the channel and then spoke loudly.

“Attention all Voyager crew.  This is Lor Bren and I have a little message for you.  I have your Captain here who prefers not to co-operate with me.  I’m taking steps to ensure that she changes her mind but first I’ll have some fun with her.  What you are about to hear is the audio of that encounter.  Listen well to her screams, her weakness.  I do hope you all enjoy the performance.”  He stood back now and nodded to the doctor. 


B’Elanna felt her nails bite painfully into her palms at Bren’s words and looked quickly to where Voyager’s Doctor was hiding.  He had frightened the life out of her a few minutes previously, when he appeared out of nowhere, causing her to drop the padds she carried.  One of the guards had looked over, his attention drawn to her and she had simply shrugged her shoulders, her body blocking any view of the Doctor.

“Hey, accidents happen all the time.  You never drop anything?”  She forced herself to smile at him and saw him return it, before turning away, his interest elsewhere now.  B’Elanna had quickly picked up the dropped padds and turned her back to the soldier, feigning a study of the material before her, muttering to herself.  She smiled a little, realizing how the habit of a lifetime which she had exhibited earlier, was now proving useful.  To the soldier, she appeared to be talking to herself once more, leaving her free to converse with the EMH.

“What the hell is going on…?  B’Elanna continued moving her lips as she scanned the padds, listening as the Doctor filled her in on all he knew.

“Our first problem is finding out why our weapons are useless and theirs work perfectly well.  From what I can gather, their weapons are similar to our phaser rifles.”  B’Elanna laid the top padd on a console near her and studied another one.

“It has to be some kind of dampening field that renders our weapons useless.  The question is how do they get around that with theirs… some kind of frequency perhaps…”  The Doctor saw her thinking hard, her lips still moving.  She turned her head slightly, apparently deep in thought as she tapped the padd against her hand.  From the corner of her eye, she caught sight of Lor Crel and whispered quickly to the Doctor to take cover.  Crel simply smiled over at her and she forced herself to return the gesture.  At that precise moment, Kathryn's screams filled Engineering, causing everyone to stop where they were.


Naomi huddled tightly against her mother in the Cargo Bay as Samantha tried to cover her ears.

“Mama, make it stop…make them stop hurting her…please Mama…”  Samantha fought to control her own emotions and looked around her quickly at the other crewmembers being held hostage with her.  Their faces mirrored her own. 

“Shh honey…it’s not that bad.  The Captain will make it sound worse than it is to make them think they’re hurting her more.  It’s an old Captain’s trick she told me about.”  She met the eyes of the Delaney sisters as they nodded their approval of the lie.  Jenny leaned over and rubbed Naomi’s arm.

“Hey kiddo…it’s the truth.  She told me that when I first came aboard.  Even Tom Paris and Harry Kim know about that…  Look over there…even Neelix knows and he’s not Starfleet…”  Neelix fought his own emotions and had a smile in place before Naomi looked up at him.

“Oh I remember the Captain telling me about that one night.  I’d just caught her in my kitchen… late it was…and she was…”  He slapped a hand over his mouth.  “I shouldn’t really say…”  Naomi seemed to gain interest now and as Kathryn's screams died away, she leaned over to her Godfather and managed a small smile.

“What was she doing…?”  Neelix met Sam’s eyes and smiled a little.

“Well…she was…helping herself to some of my secret coffee stash and that’s not too bad but…”  He hesitated again.

“Uncle Neelix…”  He sighed and threw his hands up.

“Oh all right…but I never told you this.  The Captain will be mad at me.”  Naomi was down into the story now, her Captain’s screams almost forgotten.  “Well I had baked this huge, enormous coffee cake…  It was a surprise for the Captain…but she found it.”  He shook his head and smiled, Naomi crawling closer to him now.

“Well…as I say she found it…and Captain Janeway being Captain Janeway…she just couldn’t resist it…the cake being coffee and all that…”  Naomi was giggling at this stage and Sam smiled her thanks to him behind her daughter’s back.  “Now you understand that the Captain didn’t know this cake was for her and that’s what makes this so naughty…  Well I came in to check on something and what do you think I saw…”  Naomi was tugging on his arm now.

“Tell me…tell me…please Neelix…”  The Talaxian shook his head.

“I walked in…turned on the light…and there’s the Captain…her hand to her mouth and between the two was the biggest slice of coffee cake you’ve ever seen…”  Naomi’s eyes were like saucers.  “Icing and cream and crumbs…all over her face…on her hands…even down the front of her uniform…and then she saw me…”  Naomi was giggling now.

“What did she do…?  What did she do…?”  Neelix shook his head again.

“Well you can imagine how embarrassed she was…and she couldn’t say anything…because her mouth was full of cake…so all I got was…’Eelx urrr ott ennn ou’ or something…”  Naomi was in peels of laughter now. 

“What does that mean?”  Neelix shrugged.

“I never found out.  I think the first bit was meant to be my name but the rest…and I know a few Delta Quad languages but I’d never heard that one…”  Naomi looked back at her mother, her giggles infectious now.

“Can we ask her later?”  Sam shrugged.

“Neelix isn’t supposed to have told you that.  If you ask the Captain, don’t you think as smart as she is, that she’ll know where you got the story?”  Naomi turned back to her Godfather now.

“So when did she tell you…?”  Neelix sighed and guarded it well.  There was no getting anything past this child.

“That was when she’d finished eating my cake and had managed to clean herself up a little.  I got her more coffee and we talked for a while.  That was when she told me.  She said you always had to let your enemy think he was beating you so that you could win.  Now honey, you know that works.  You’ve played all those games your Uncle Tom taught you.  I know for a fact that he taught you how to play poker and that’s the same thing.  Letting your opponent think you’re losing and then…wham…got him…”  Naomi thought about this and finally seemed to accept it.

“OK Neelix…I think I understand…I want to ask her about the cake though…”  Neelix smiled and shook his head.

“I’m sure she won’t mind too much…”  As Naomi climbed back onto her mother’s lap, Sam and Neelix locked eyes, both praying the child would get that chance.


Chakotay fought a bitter battle within himself as Kathryn's screams surrounded him, invading his heart and tearing it to pieces.  It seemed to go on and on and he heard nothing else, not even the laughter of the soldiers around him.  He felt more helpless and useless than he had ever felt in his life and fought desperately with himself to control the tears he felt threatening, determined to show strength before these aliens.  And through it all, he prayed harder than he ever had before.

Finally the agonizing sounds faded and he dropped his head, willing his heart rate to slow.  The screams were finished but their echo still reverberated in his mind and as he slowly looked up, he saw the faces of Tom and Harry, even Tuvok, reflect what he knew his own showed.  They all knew the sound of their Captain’s agonized screams would stay with them and haunt them for a long time.


B’Elanna leaned back against a bulkhead and fought to keep her emotions hidden from the soldiers around her.  She had seen the look of pain and hurt on the face of the Doctor, despite being a hologram, as their Captain’s screams rang out around Engineering.  As they died away, the young Klingon saw Crel approach her and muttered to the Doctor to hide. 

Crel’s face was serious as he approached B’Elanna and he stopped in front of her to study her reaction to what they had all just heard.

“If you don’t care, why should that bother you so much?”  B’Elanna shook her head.

“Because I’m not that much of a bitch that I enjoy hearing someone suffer.  Maybe you can enjoy that but I can’t.  I don’t enjoy suffering and I never will.  I’ve seen too much of it in my time…”  She met his eyes and saw him nod.

“Sorry.  I’m not totally immune to it myself.  However, it is probably necessary if Bren needs something from her...but still…”  B’Elanna thought she detected some pity from the alien before her but shook her head and moved away.

“This Lor Bren of yours is obviously immune to it.  In fact, I’d say he most likely enjoys it.  Is this what we can all expect from you?  Are you going to beat and torture us all?  There’s even a child on board…maybe you’d enjoy hurting her…”  She glared at the alien soldier and saw shock on his face.

“Is that really what you think of us?  Do you think we’re that uncivilized?”  B’Elanna shook her head, allowing a cynical laugh to pass her lips.  She waved her hand in the air.

“What do you call that?  Can you really believe it’s civilized to treat another living being like that and inflict that kind of pain on them?”  Crel frowned and moved towards her.

“You have no understanding of us…know nothing of how desperate we are…”  He pressed his lips tightly shut, suddenly aware of what he was saying.  B’Elanna used the opening though and went for it.  Forcing herself to appear a little sympathetic, she softened her voice and expression.

“You’re right…I don’t know…  Why don’t you enlighten me and help me understand.”  Crel silently studied her for several minutes and then sighed deeply.

“Our world was beautiful…before the attack...”  His eyes took on a momentary far away look, memories obviously filling his mind.  He shook himself and continued.

“They poisoned our planet, the Hanns.  They came and blew it to pieces, poisoned the air and the soil, forced us all underground, took everything of use.  Luckily some of our ships were hangered underground so we can at least leave the surface and hunt.”  He looked at B’Elanna and saw some understanding but also some anger.

“You hunt…and what?  We’re your prey?”  He shook his head.

“It’s not like that.  Your technology is what we’re after.  With that we can improve our living conditions, trade with it for what else we need.”  His eyes were desperate.  “The surface of our planet is…it’s impossible to be there…the soil useless…  We can’t grow our food…drink the water…”  B’Elanna nodded her head in understanding.

“How do you manage for water and food now?”  Crel shrugged.

“There are several underground springs…the water is drinkable from them.  It’s not completely free of contamination but it’s all right.  We manage to replicate some of the food we need…trade for the rest…”  He smiled a little at her.  “Oh we were technologically advanced enough.  We’re much like you in that.  Our supplies and power sources are running out though…  We need to be on the surface to live but that’s impossible and so…”  He shook his head.  “And so we reverted to this…the way our ancestors would have lived…uncivilized…”  B’Elanna gave him a few minutes to settle his emotions.

“What were the weapons these ‘Hanns’ used…?”  Crel seemed startled by her words and jumped slightly.  He blinked a moment and then thought.

“I’m unsure…some gas…  That was never my area.  I was a simple farmer… metalworker also…”  B’Elanna nodded.

“Have you a family?”  She regretted the question as soon as she saw the pained look on the face before her.  Crel nodded slowly.

“I had…before this…a wife…two young sons…”  B’Elanna reached out a hand and laid it on his arm.

“I’m sorry…”  She remained quiet for several moments and then took a chance.  “Crel…maybe you’re going about this the wrong way…”  His head snapped up and he stared at her.  B’Elanna smiled and motioned for him to follow her then walked away.  “Come with me…let’s talk…”


Kathryn fought to drag whatever air she could into her lungs, which felt as if they were on fire in her chest.  Her vision was blurred and there was a loud buzzing sound in her ears.  Pain washed over her in waves as she struggled to breath, leaving her unaware of the blood which ran from her wrists, ankles and neck as her body strained against the wire tying her to the chair.  Her throat burned from her screaming, the sound of which seemed far away to her.  She vaguely felt Bren’s hand in her hair, pulling her head up.

“Come on Captain…can’t have you letting go too quickly on us now, can we?”  His words filtered through to Kathryn's mind in fragments and she struggled to make sense of them.  She slowly managed to open her eyes and stared at the alien before her, trying to clear her vision enough to see him.  Stray thoughts rushed across her mind, Bren’s face changing to that of a Cardassian for a moment and then back to his own.  Kathryn shook her head, now feeling the wire cutting into her, the pain of the action clearing her thinking a little.

“You’re not…not Cardassian…I thought…?”  She fought to keep her eyes open.  “Where…am I…?  Who are…?”  Her mind raced as she tried her best to focus her thoughts.  Bren shook his head.

“Doctor…bring her back a bit…she’s slipping too far…  Having her in this state is useless to me…”  The alien doctor nodded and administered another drug into the tubing in the back of Kathryn's other hand.  Almost immediately, she felt her body cooling a little and the pain eased somewhat.  The doctor looked up at his commanding officer.

“Please understand… I have no way of knowing the correct doses with her race…even what these drugs will do to her…”  Bren laughed.

“I don’t care what they do to her, not as long as I get what I need.  She can die in agony for all I care when I get those codes from her…”  He looked up and saw the shocked expression on the face of the doctor.  “What?”  The alien medic shook his head.

“Helping you like this is one thing… I don’t want any part in killing her…”  Bren studied the man before him a moment and then spit his words out.

“You’ve just signed your death warrant doctor.  How dare you speak to me in that manner or offer your opinion in this way, especially in front of my men.”  He looked to the two soldiers with them and saw that he still appeared to have their respect.  He looked at their faces more closely then and realized that the respect he saw there was more akin to fear.  He shrugged his shoulders and carried on.

“Give her one more dose…let her scream again…then we try the other drugs…”  His eyes bored into the medic, daring him to object.  Sighing deeply, the man complied.  Once more, Kathryn's screams filled the ship as her body burned.


Voyager’s EMH had wasted no time in taking action.  He carefully mapped the ship and the location of the Aluki soldiers.  Ten of them still guarded the doors of the Cargo Bay and another ten guarded Engineering from the inside.  Internal scanners, still operating, informed him that ten more were on the bridge and in the Captain’s ready room, while the remaining ten were spread between the outside of Engineering and patrolling the ship on the off-chance that some crewmember might have escaped detection.  He downloaded all the information he had unto padds and managed to mask the transport as he beamed them to the crew being held in the Cargo Bay.  They would need all the information they could get when their chance came.  He then set about his next task.

Voyager’s Doctor now smiled down at the Aluki soldier who lay on the biobed in the closed off surgical bay.  The man was unconscious, as a result of the blow to the head he had received, courtesy of a hypo spanner connecting with his base of his neck, and would remain that way for as long as the Medic wished it.  The Doctor scanned the man before him now and nodded to himself.  Working out the correct doses, he filled a hypo and pressed it to the man’s neck then waited.


Chakotay stared down at the palms of his hands, watching the blood there from where his nails had cut into the skin.  Kathryn's screams had died away a moment ago but they continued to echo inside his head and he knew they would haunt him for a long time.

The soldiers guarding them weren’t laughing as much now and Chakotay thought he detected a faint hint of respect for the woman whose screams of pure agony filled the bridge.

“Hang on Kathryn…please don’t let go…don’t give in…”  He prayed silently and willed his thoughts to the woman on the other side of the door. 


The Doctor sighed to himself and pressed another hypo to the neck of the alien lying before him, rendering the man unconscious once more.  Most of the information he had managed to extract from this soldier, matched what B’Elanna had learned, although the medic had no way to know that.  He had however, also managed to gain some knowledge of how their dampening field worked, learning that it could be deactivated only from their cloaked ship.

Stowing the alien’s unconscious body in a locker, the Doctor set about beaming phasers to the crew in the Cargo Bay who were unarmed, masking every move he made, and then transported himself to them.  He found them studying all the information he had passed to them.

“OK, I take it you’ve been over all this?  Has everyone got a phaser?”  Several heads nodded at him.  “Good.  I need to speak with Ms. Torres first and then I’m going to try and transport to their ship.  I can learn a lot there.  When the time is right, hopefully I’ll have shut down this dampening field, and then I’ll get back here and get you out.  After that, it’s up to you to retake this ship.”  No one asked any questions and the Doctor smiled and nodded before leaving them again.


B’Elanna stood quietly and absorbed all Crel had told her.  She saw him watching her closely.

“Does any of this make sense to you?”  He had accessed his ship’s computer system to get the information she needed, leaving the Engineer with the opportunity to learn some of their access codes.

“Actually it does…  It makes a lot of sense and I believe there’s something you…something we could do to help…  Will you give me a chance to work at this?”  Crel stared at her.

“What are you saying?  Can you honestly do something about this?  Our best minds have worked at this for a long time and never found a way…”  B’Elanna shrugged.

“Maybe they just weren’t looking in the right places or perhaps we’ve just learned more over the years…  Let’s face it…we’ve far more experience of this Quadrant than you have.  We’ve travelled though enough of it…encountered races and technology your people would never have heard of.”  She smiled now, showing she meant no offence.  “Crel, I mean no disrespect or offence with my words.  It’s just that our unique situation has allowed for us to learn so much more…”  Crel smiled his understanding.

“I know that.  If there was something you could do…”  His voice trailed off a moment.  “If you could see the children…how badly affected they are…”  He pulled himself back from the images which filled his mind.  “What could you do…?”  B’Elanna thought quickly.

“I need to analyse more data…work out the makeup of the gas which was used… then we can…”  Crel watched as her face reflected the activity of her mind.  “We need to work on finding something that will neutralize that gas…clean the atmosphere…take care of what’s in the soil and water…”  She licked her lips, her mind racing.  “We could explode the neutralizer in the atmosphere…let it drift down…”  She saw the hope on the face of the alien before her.

“Crel… our Captain is the one with the expertise in this area…  without her…”  She let her words sink in and saw that he understood. 

“I’ll see what I can do…speak with Bren…”  Without another word, he turned and left Engineering.


Kathryn's world consisted of nothing but burning agony.  Her body felt as if it was swimming in a sea of flames.  Vague images and words filtered across her mind, none of them staying long enough for her to make any sense of them.  At this moment in time, even her own name eluded her.

Bren turned away disgusted as he watched his prisoner, her eyes unfocused and whispers of meaningless words passing her lips, knowing they had gone too far and that anything she said now would be useless.

“Try and bring her back a bit.  She’s useless to me like this.”  He roared his words at the doctor.  “Try and get the dose right this time or you’ll pay with your life…”  He glanced up and saw the faces of his men, and thought he saw traces of pity there.  As soon as they realized their leader was watching them, they hardened their faces quickly.

The alien doctor quickly injected Kathryn, praying to himself that her body could take more drugs.  Within minutes he saw a reaction and let out the breath he found he’d been holding. 

Kathryn slowly came back a little, but her eyes were still glazed and unfocused.  She tried to speak but still only unintelligible whispers escaped her lips.  She fought the fog in her brain as she tried to focus on her surroundings.

“Where… why can’t…?”  Her head lolled to the side before Bren grabbed her hair and forced her to look towards him.  “Daddy…?”  Bren frowned.

“Why isn’t she coming back…?  She should be making more sense…”  The doctor shrugged helplessly.

“I don’t know how her species works.  I can’t know what her body is capable of enduring…”  Bren spit out a laugh.

“More than you thought…  She’s still alive, isn’t she…?”  He ignored the hard look the medic gave him.  “Give her another dose…I need her clear headed…”  His eyes bored into the doctor’s, daring him to disobey.  The doctor finally nodded his consent and injected Kathryn again.

This time, the drug seemed to work better and Kathryn managed to focus her eyes a bit more.  Bren leaned down into her face.

“Can you understand me now Captain?  Am I getting through to you this time…?”  Kathryn fought to control her breathing and tried to get her thoughts to order themselves.

“Won’t tell you… never tell…”  She tried to turn her head away but his hand in her hair wouldn’t allow for the movement.

“I’ve sent you to the fires and back Captain…  I admire your guts.  This next drug however, will make you talk.  You’ll sell your ‘Daddy’ when I’m through with you…”  Mention of her father triggered something in Kathryn.  She briefly worried about what she had spoken of at the height of her agony but forced the thought away.

“Go to hell…”  She tried to spit the words out but they were a whisper to her ears.  Bren just laughed in her face.

“We’ll see Captain…  I’ve tortured your body…  now it’s time for your mind…”  He nodded to the doctor beside him, the tone of his voice leaving no room for argument.  “Give her the other drug.  Let’s see how she copes when the demons come for her…”


Despite expecting him, B’Elanna still jumped when the Doctor appeared before her.

“Can’t you give me some warning before you do that?”  The Medic shook his head.

“I have important information for you…”  He went on to outline everything he had learned, ending with how he had passed on everything to the hostage crew and beamed in phasers to them.  B’Elanna nodded and filled him in on what she had learned.

“Will they buy that?”  B’Elanna shrugged.

“I don’t know.  Everything I told him is based in fact and I find myself wanting to help them if we can, despite what they’ve put us through.”  She shook her head at the look on the hologram’s face.  “Crel and the others are only following orders.  They’re driven by desperation.  Bren is the one who seems to have lost the script…”  The Doctor shook his head slowly.

“Maybe…but even as a hologram…I can’t get the Captain’s screams out of my memory…”  B’Elanna looked away from his gaze, her face betraying her own pain.  The Doctor knew she wouldn’t forget very easily either.  None of them would.


Chakotay watched the soldiers guarding them and saw how their entire demeanour had changed.  The constant screams filling the ship had affected them all, even the loyal soldiers on the bridge.  Chakotay saw the pain on the faces of Tom and Harry and the other bridge crew and couldn’t believe the emotions he saw on the face of Tuvok, no matter how well he tried to mask them.  He had heard the difference, along with the others, in the screams which surrounded them now.  Kathryn's screams were now of terror as well as agony and he found himself praying harder than ever before. 

He closed his eyes a moment, trying to draw on some inner strength.  And then the silence returned, bringing fear again, and he felt now that the silence was almost as bad as the screams.  When Kathryn screamed, he burned inside with pain but at least he knew she was still alive, despite the suffering he knew she was going through.  When it stopped, he prayed her pain was gone for the moment, but not knowing if she was still alive, ate at him.  His heart and mind overflowed with pain, alongside the conflict.


“Can we do it Lieutenant?”  The Doctor stared hard at B’Elanna as she forced herself to think straight.

“Doc…  it can be done…and maybe it would help…but I also want to see how far Crel gets with Bren…  He’s going to talk to him and put our idea to him…”  The Medic nodded slowly.

“But in the meantime, if I head over there…we could at least have the information we need…”  B’Elanna thought quickly.

“All right…  I can get you there.  I have the co-ordinates from when Crel contacted his ship and accessed their computer.  I’ve given you the access codes I managed to see and I can mask the transport…but I can only give you a few minutes…  We’re being watched too closely…”  The Doctor smiled softly.

“That’s all I’ll need…”