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

                     them. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Rating:          NC17.

Summary:     When a trading mission goes disastrously wrong, Kathryn gives her

                      life to save her crew, leaving shattered lives behind her.  Voyager

                      continues on without her, until an alien ship catches up with them,

                      bringing a story which might just give some hope.

Note:- This story is based around and continues on from Ragpant’s wonderful ‘A Duty To The Ship’.  I just couldn’t take the sad ending.  Well you know me.  I’d strongly recommend that you read this story first.


Note:- The scene at the end of this story (THAT kind of scene) was written before I read Shayenne’s fabulous story ‘Show me How It Can Be’ and put me to shame.  The small similarities are not intended in any way.  I’ve re-read Shayenne’s story so many times now and can’t recommend it enough.




Chakotay sat facing Danus and one of his aides, in the boardroom on Voyager.  He forced down his feelings and fought to wear a neutral expression.  Tuvok sat to his right and Tom and B’Elanna to his left.  Tuvok was a classic example of stone in a living being, Tom and B’Elanna not even trying to hide their feelings, the tough Klingon in particular.  Danus simply smiled softly and spoke quietly.

“Believe me when I say I understand how you must feel towards us.”  He glanced to his aide and nodded.  “Please allow me to explain…”  He looked at Chakotay now, who nodded.

“My race and those who are in power on Solus at this moment, are quite closely related, as you can see.  Some of us even look completely alike.  Our two races have crossed many times over the centuries, sometimes in peace, hence our similarities in appearance when we interbred with each other, and often in war, like we have now.”  He paused a moment before continuing.

“On Solus, there are two societies.  Our race was always the strongest of the two but in the last year or so, the others have managed to gain power, ruling mostly by fear.  Some of our people are among them, placed there by us.  They are trusted and therefore, not suspected.  I accept that this is a strange situation and one you’ll perhaps not understand.  We never named the two different races, always referring to each other by the same race name.  We and they are Solusians, nothing more.  It was always hoped that this would avoid what we have now, but alas that was not meant to be.”  Chakotay leaned forward now but remained quiet.

“We have been fighting back for almost a year now.  Understand that we despise what our fellow brothers are doing…”  Chakotay cleared his throat and spoke now.

“Just what is it they are doing?  We were trading peacefully with them…”  Danus held up a hand and smiled softly.

“Captain, you were only lead to believe that.  Trade was never an issue.  This is how they work…”  Tuvok spoke for the first time now.

“What is the issue…?”  Danus looked sadly at his aide and sighed deeply.

“Taking what you have.  Once you have been lulled into a false sense of security…”  He shook his head.  “Many ships have come to this fate.  It’s the way it is done by them.  They are similar to space pirates but they have found a way whereby they never have to leave the security of their own world in order to practice their evil trade.”  He leaned back in his chair and made patterns with his fingers on the table before him.

“It’s always the same.  They speak of trade and friendliness.  They meet with the Captain of the ship and members of the senior crew several times.  Often on their ships and also on Solus.  All appears normal.  They use this time to gain more and more knowledge of you and your vessel, assess what you have and what they want.  They gauge your strengths and your weaknesses, lulling you into this false sense of security.  Finally, when you feel safe, suspecting nothing because you have already visited the surface so many times, they arrange for the most senior Officers to come down to the planet together.  They then…”  Danus swallowed and hesitated a moment.  “They then…kill them…leaving the ship without it’s command team, it’s brains so to speak.  After that, it’s easy pickings…”  His eyes apologized for him and Chakotay nodded, forcing images of Kathryn away, battling to control his emotions.

“We believed we were beaming down to the palace…”  Danus nodded.

“Instead you found yourself at another location, one impossible to defend yourselves from…”  He saw the answer without it being confirmed in words.  “They are quite capable of altering transporter coordinates.  May I ask how you escaped?  No one before…”  Chakotay stood quickly.

“Our Captain sacrificed her life for us…held them off…”  He turned away to gain a moment to control himself.  Danus’s voice filled the room.

“I offer you my deepest condolences for your pain…  I’m so very sorry…”  Chakotay turned back, shaking his head, wanting nothing more than to escape the room.

“You’ve explained to us…  What do you want from us now…?”  Danus leaned forward again.

“I explained that some of our people are within the ranks of the ruling party and within their army…”  Chakotay merely nodded.  “That is how we know of you and what occurred on the planet’s surface.  I’ll be honest with you and tell you that we had already been informed that one of your group…gave herself…”  He sighed deeply when he saw the pain on the faces before him.

“We are fighting what can only be described as a civil war on our world.  We are winning too…anytime now…only pockets of resistance left…the main government building…”  Chakotay sat again.

“What has that to do with us?  Surely you’re not asking for help…?”  Danus shook his head.

“No Captain…as I say…we are winning.  I’m here because…”  He glanced again at his aide and nodded.  The other man spoke now.

“My name is Coren.  I liaise between my people and those we have within the government.  Word of your…situation…reached us…”  He coughed slightly and then continued.  “We know of your Captain…the one who remained behind…  We followed your warp trail…”  He shook his head now, his eyes filled with apologies.

“What I tell you now…  I speak of with some reservations because…  I don’t want to give you false…false hope…”  Chakotay and B’Elanna were up out of their chairs immediately.

“What are you trying to say?  What…?”  Chakotay was gripping the edge of the table painfully, his knuckles white.  Coren held up his hand.

“Please…”  Chakotay eventually nodded to B’Elanna and they both sat slowly.  “One of our men spoke with me briefly.  He had word of your Captain…”  Chakotay found the breath stilled in his lungs.  “All I can tell you is that she was wounded but was still alive when his unit left the battle scene…”  Chakotay was on his feet again.

“She was still alive…she survived that…?”  Pain ripped through him, guilt alongside it, at the knowledge that they could have gone back and saved her but it was joined by the awareness that they could all have been killed had they tried, that there was no way they could have known.  Instead he filled himself with anger, trying to hold himself together.  “She was still alive and they just left her there…?”  His rage almost consumed him until he felt Tuvok’s hand on his arm.  Coren nodded sadly. 

“It’s their way…another of the many reasons we fight to rid ourselves of them…”  B’Elanna jumped up out of her chair.

“We should have gone back…we heard her…we left her…we could have saved her…”  She stopped suddenly when she saw the pain her words were causing Chakotay, knowing they were already in his mind.  “I’m sorry…I didn’t mean…”  Chakotay just nodded sadly, letting her see he understood but inside his pain was ripping him apart.  He turned his attention back to their two visitors, trying to think clearly.

“How do you know you can trust this man?  How do you know some of their people aren’t within your own ranks?”  Coren accepted the questions gracefully.

“Firstly, the man I speak of is my own brother.  Secondly, every single member within our ranks can be traced back through their family.  His or her loyalty to us is something they inherited upon birth.  If there is even a slight chance of us not feeling we could trust someone, they are refused entry to our units.  We operate within closely knit community groups.  The government pay for their ‘loyalty’.  No one who comes to us receives any compensation for their time or sacrifice.  We know each of them and their families.”  Chakotay nodded, having no choice but to accept this man’s word. 

“Is there any hope that…?”  He swallowed loudly.  “Is there any chance…?”  Coren rubbed at his face.

“I don’t know.  I can tell you that our man did all he could…  he left a small signal emitter with her…”  Chakotay shook his head and frowned.

“I don’t understand…”  Danus answered now.

“Our people carry them…in case they get separated or need help…  It’s not much comfort to them but it at least provides a chance that some of the people on our side, who live in the many small villages, can pick up the signal and try and rescue the fallen one.”  Chakotay stood again quickly and began pacing.

“So there is the possibility that someone picked up this signal and came for her?  Can I speak with this man…this soldier…your brother?”  Danus and Coren exchanged a look and finally Danus nodded.

“We’ll try our best to arrange this.  This is Coren’s area.  It’s up to him…”  He looked to his aide.  Coren smiled gently.

“I think it can be arranged.  My brother was removed from his position only yesterday…  We felt it was too dangerous to leave him in any longer…  I’ll try and arrange it.”  Chakotay nodded his thanks as the two aliens stood now.  “I’ll contact you within the hour…”  Tuvok and the others stood also, Tom reading the Vulcan’s silent order to see their guests back to their ship.  B’Elanna left with him.

Once they were alone, Chakotay let go a little, his shoulders sagging.  He turned to Tuvok, seeing the weight of the last few days bearing down on the man, despite the Doctor releasing him from sickbay.  Chakotay knew the Medic had recommended several days off duty, which the Security Officer had refused.  Forcing his own feelings down, Chakotay tried to focus on the matter at hand.

“What do you think?  Can we trust them?”  Tuvok took several minutes to answer and as Chakotay sat, he watched the Vulcan consider all the options, knowing the man was terrified in his own eyes, to fail again.  Finally he spoke.

“I feel I must be totally honest with you Captain…”  Once more he hesitated over the word.  “One part of me tells me to ignore them and not trust what they say.  The other part…”  Chakotay saw how difficult this was for Tuvok to speak of.  “My heart…my emotions…normally so well controlled…”  Chakotay smiled sadly.

“Heart versus head.”  Tuvok merely nodded.  “Tuvok…”  Chakotay hesitated briefly then pushed on, saying what he needed to say and what this man so badly needed to hear.  “Tuvok, this wasn’t down to you.  Kath…the Captain also told me of her concerns…and I…  I guess I also ignored them or dismissed them…  I couldn’t see anything wrong in all this…  Not one member of this crew saw this…only her…”  Chakotay dropped his head and shook it.  “I know exactly how you feel…  Every minute…  I hear her…see her…”  He raised his head and saw the closest he would ever see to a Vulcan in tears.  “Tuvok…you’re not to blame and neither am I…and I know how difficult that is to accept…  I still blame myself…but I know without a doubt that she’d never want that…”  There was so much more he wanted to say but he knew this wasn’t the time.  He stood now.

“I’m trying to decide…  B’Elanna came to me…”  He told the Vulcan about his conversation with the Klingon and about the crew’s wishes to return.  “I need your counsel Tuvok.  Am I considering going back for a false hope…perhaps leading us to all our deaths…just so I appease my own guilt or in the vague hope that she’s alive…?  If she is dead…  maybe I just don’t want her left there…her body…just want to take her home…  Do I ignore all that…how we all feel and just carry out her last order…?  Like you…head versus heart…”  Tuvok shook his head.

“I wish I had the wisdom to counsel you wisely.  I feel I have failed in that now…in my ability to counsel anyone wisely…  I also feel as you do…”  He shook his head.  “So long I’ve tried to put away feelings and yet…”  Chakotay sighed deeply.

“She has that affect on us all Tuvok…”  He still couldn’t bring himself to think of her in the past tense.  He sat again.  “I want this crew to decide.  They all have a right to their say in this decision…”  Tuvok didn’t answer but nodded his agreement.

An hour later, the vote was in.  Chakotay had made his ship wide announcement, not receiving one single objection to his suggested plan and so when Danus and Coren contacted them again, Chakotay requested permission to speak with Coren’s brother.

The decision was made to take the chance and return to the area around Solus.  At high warp, the other ship keeping up with Voyager, they returned in one day, holding position on the outskirts of Solusian space.  Later that same day, Chakotay sat once more in the boardroom, facing a similar looking alien and found himself instantly liking the young man before him.  He sensed something of himself in this soldier, a maturity far beyond his years, placed there by the horrors he had seen.

“Coren…your brother… he told me your name was Tamar…”  The young man nodded.

“That is correct.  I’m sorry we must meet under such circumstances…”  Chakotay didn’t miss the haunted look in the man’s eyes, similar to the one his own eyes had held, before Kathryn removed it from them.  He stood and placed a holoimage on the table in front of Tamar.

“Is this the woman…?”  Tamar studied the image for a moment and then looked up at Chakotay. 

“That’s her…also her uniform…like yours…”  He pointed to Chakotay’s.  The big man nodded then looked towards Tuvok, whom he had insisted attend this meeting.

“What can you tell us…?”  Chakotay sat again and forced his emotions down, knowing what followed would tear him in two.  Tamar cleared his throat and began speaking.

“This is difficult to tell…  I’m also only too well aware of how difficult it will be for you to hear…  I’m sorry for that…”  Chakotay merely nodded for him to continue.

“We saw you leaving… and at first we couldn’t understand where the firing was coming from.  We quickly realized it was one of our own weapons, so we easily worked out that one of you had remained behind and somehow gotten hold of one of our rifles.”   Tamar leaned back in his chair, showing his uneasiness.

“We returned fire.  I made sure my aim was well off but didn’t let that show.  I’m well practiced at this…it’s how our men fight within their ranks.  We never hit anything but it looks convincing.”  He shook his head slowly.  “I heard her scream out…”  He hesitated a moment before continuing.  “I knew one of them had hit her…  Our Commander was screaming at the men…for letting the rest of you get away…”  He leaned further back in his chair again, unable to keep still.

“I was the first to approach her…I saw her…saw her lying there…looking up at me…my body a shadow over her face…”  He looked at Chakotay, his eyes trying to convey his apologies.  “She just looked up at me… didn’t move…couldn’t… so much blood…”  He looked down at the table now, not wanting to see the pain his words were causing.  “My Commander came over…looked down at her… I remember him shouting at her…obscene names…and then he…he spit on her…”  He glanced up and saw tears running unchecked down Chakotay’s face, the big man not ashamed of them.

“He then…my Commander…he just looked at me coldly and…he told me to leave her there…to let her die or drown in her own blood… I’m sorry…”  Chakotay simply nodded for him to continue, unable to utter a word as he fought to hold himself together.  “He pulled me away…I saw her…her eyes moved after me… so much pain in them…and I could hear her breathing…ragged…she was fighting for breath…”  He pushed his chair back and stood now then paced a little.

“We left her there…cold…bleeding…in pain…for a long time…  The Commander said he wanted her to ‘die slowly and in agony for her crimes’…”  He stopped in front of the viewport and stared out at the stars.  “Some time later…I don’t know why…the Commander ordered us back to the scene… I saw him walk over to where she was lying and then he returned to me immediately.  As coldly as he could…he just…he ordered me to…to kill her… ‘finish her off’ as he put it…”  He turned back into the room now, shaking his head.

“I walked over to her…she was still alive…still conscious…and so much blood…I couldn’t believe she could still be alive…especially conscious…couldn’t imagine how much pain she was in…I wished so much  that she wasn’t…I remember thinking that…truly believed she’d be better off dead…at least out of her pain…”  He moved back to his chair and sat again, still not looking at the two men before him.

“Her injuries were…I saw how severe they were…her chest and stomach area…covered in blood…”  He drew in a deep breath.  “She was in agony…so much pain…”  He looked up now with the saddest eyes Chakotay had ever seen, without looking in a mirror.

“The others moved away…I’d glad to say…I saw the Commander looking towards me and I raised my weapon to give a good show…  As soon as I did that…he moved off again…”  Tamar spread his hands on the table before him, studying them as if they were alien to him.  “I looked into her eyes…so blue…and she stared at me…I saw it all there in her eyes…all the pain…and I heard how bad her breathing was…a rattling sound in her chest and a sound in her throat…like blood…  There was blood coming from her mouth…I remember that…”  He pushed back and stood again, pacing once more, the memories difficult to deal with.

“She watched me raise my weapon and she said one word to me…one word…”  He looked at Chakotay.  “She said ‘please’…just that… ‘please’…”  Tamar shook his head sadly.  “I through she was asking me…pleading with me…not to kill her…I really thought that…  Her next words proved me wrong though and will haunt me forever…”  The young man sat again, not seeming to know where to be.

“She spoke a few more words…whispered them…a rasping sound… ‘please’… ‘end it for me’… ‘end the pain’… ‘do it quickly’…”  Tamar’s eyes bored into the two men in front of him.  “She wanted me to kill her…end her pain…and I couldn’t…I couldn’t do it…”  Chakotay jumped up and left the room.  Tuvok just nodded to the young man, showing his understanding of the pain he was in, but his own pain showed also.

Within five minutes, Chakotay returned, apologising.  Tamar shook his head.

“Please…I understand…you have every right…I’m so sorry for what I tell you…”  Chakotay looked at Tuvok and saw the fight for control there matching his own.  He turned back to Tamar and nodded for him to continue.  Tamar tried a smile and failed miserably.

“I looked back and saw the Commander watching me… I did all I could…the only thing…I took aim…he saw me…”  He paused and drew in a deep breath.  “Her eyes locked with mine…and she…she just stared at me…  I saw her lips move…heard her say something else…I couldn’t understand at first…and she said it again…what I believe she wanted her last word to be…a name…”  He slowly looked over at Chakotay.  “One word… ‘Chakotay’…your name I believe…”  Chakotay held Tamar’s eyes for a brief moment and then stood up.  He turned quickly and made for the viewport, staring out at the stars, as they stared back at him.  No one spoke for several minutes until he turned back to the others, having regained some control.  Tamar then continued.

“I fired into the ground above her head…  For a moment…her eyes shut…I think she thought I’d done it…then she opened them again…stared back at me…and I saw the same pain and then more…and her question…why hadn’t I killed her…?  I looked away…couldn’t meet her eyes…  I looked over and saw the Commander laughing…he was actually laughing…and all I felt was sick to my stomach…”  He shook his head slowly.

“All I could do…without getting myself and my friends killed…  You must understand…we enlisted together…they’d have known…knew we were all friends…  If one of us had been the enemy…they’d have known we all were…”  Chakotay nodded his understanding to the face before him which pleaded for it.

“I bent down and slipped my signal emitter into the front of her uniform…  I don’t think she understood… I think she was close to passing out at that stage…pain… shock…blood loss…”  Tamar stood again and sighed.

“I just walked away from her…looked back and saw her watching me leave… so much pain there in her eyes…  I think I heard her…she seemed to be trying to cry out after me…I don’t know…  I left her alone there… almost as bad as he was… I left her…I couldn’t do anything else…”  He sat again now.

“The Commander walked towards me…I was so scared… and then he walked passed me… said something about ‘checking my work’…  I was so sure that was the end for me…  I remember walking back with him when he told me to follow him… and we got to where she lay…  I think I let out a deep sigh of relief…I still feel guilty for that…”  He looked at Chakotay.  “She’d finally passed out… I thought she was dead even…wasn’t sure… she was so pale…her face…  The Commander merely grunted and kicked out at her…but she didn’t move…nothing…no sound… the injuries she already had…they covered up for me…led him to believe I’d shot her again…impossible to tell…  Then he walked away… didn’t look back once…”  He shook his head.  “I took a chance…I quickly reached down…felt for a pulse… it was there…very weak but there…but she felt so cold…  He called me then…the Commander…and I left… I prayed that the villagers would find her…”  Chakotay wiped at his face, refusing to hide his feelings.

“Have you any idea…?  Do you know anything…?”  Tamar shook his head.

“I believe they came for her…  I managed to return later undetected…  She wasn’t there…only…only her blood on the ground…so much…”  Chakotay closed his eyes a moment.

“Could she have moved on her own…crawled…?”  Tamar again shook his head.

“No…there is no way…she couldn’t…it had to have been the villagers…I’m sure they took her in…”  Tuvok spoke for the first time.

“How can you be so certain it was the villagers…in particular those who are on your side…  Could the Government not have located the signal…?”  Tamar shook his head, a certainty showing for the first time.

“I am certain of this.  The villagers would only have taken her because of the signal…knowing they could trust it…  They would never touch any injured without it…  With this homing signal…they would have known for certain that it was one of us.  This signal operates on a frequency only we are aware of and it is only our people who know of its existence.  The frequency cannot be detected without the specific tracking system we use.  Trust me here…our signals have never been detected by the enemy…  They…our people… would have taken her in…simply because she had the emitter…”  He paused now.  “As to whether she…”  Chakotay stood and finished for him.

“As to whether she survived or if she’s still alive…”  Tamar nodded, unable to meet the other man’s eyes.  “Can you find out…?  You must have contacts…people who’d know… they’d know her… she’s…”  Tamar looked up sadly as he heard the desperation in the other man’s voice. 

“I’m doing my best…have asked through every channel I can…  Please understand that while an alien Captain would be instantly known of… these are hard times…little trust until people know they can trust for sure… The fact that she had the emitter would have marked her as one of us…so they will protect her fiercely…”  Tamar sighed deeply.  “Our freedom is almost won…only pockets of resistance now…  I should know any time…  You must understand that communication between the villages is slow…  They tend to shun technology… I promise I’ll know soon and I’ll let you know immediately…”  Chakotay rubbed at his face and nodded, having no choice but to wait.  As the young alien left, Chakotay’s voice halted him.

“Tamar, thank you.  I know this was difficult for you.  Please find her for me…for us.”  Tamar nodded sadly.

“I’ll do my best…I give you my word on that…  They will have done all they could for her…I can tell you that.  There are many wounded to treat but they will have done their best…”  He met and held Chakotay’s eyes.  Chakotay then forced the next words from his mouth.

“Tamar…I understand…please though…even if…even if she’s…we still want her back…do you understand…?”  The young man nodded his understanding. 

“I understand.  It is the same with our people.  I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can…”  He turned and left, unable to see the pain on the faces before him a moment longer, no matter how hardened he had been with what he had witnessed over the past year.

Chakotay slowly made his way to his desk, then hesitated before moving around to sit behind it, his fingers stroking the edges.  He studied his own action, unsure why he was doing it.  Finally he sat and looked over at Tuvok.

“We have to… if there’s any chance…”  The Vulcan nodded slowly.

“I agree completely…  There should be no other way…”  Chakotay nodded slowly also.

“Even if she’s…if she is dead…  I want to take her home or at least… I think she might have liked it…to be out there among the stars…be one of them…”  Chakotay suddenly found himself telling this man all about his childhood beliefs and was amazed at the response.

“Vulcans also hold a special respect for the stars…as I believe do all races…  it perhaps has to do with something being greater than ourselves or beyond our comprehension.  They have a mystery which has always drawn us to them…  Were this not so…every race would still be planet bound…”  The two men looked at each other and in that moment, a deep trust and friendship was shared.  Chakotay shook his head sadly.

“I’m trying to draw some comfort from…  I guess that…even if she is…gone from us…if she died…”  He drew a deep breath to steady himself.  “At least it wasn’t alone…in that cold field…that she at least at people around…someone who cared in some way…”  Silence followed as the two men fought inwardly to banish the images which haunted them.

That evening as they waited for news from Tamar, B’Elanna sought Chakotay out in his quarters.  She found him sitting on his couch studying holoimages he had taken of Kathryn over the years.  She smiled and sat beside him for a while in companionable silence and shared the memories with him.  Some of the images were unknown to her and Chakotay spent some time telling her about their time on New Earth.

When he finished speaking, he suddenly seemed to remember his old friend’s presence and smiled softly.

“Sorry…didn’t mean to get carried away like that…”  B’Elanna smiled and shook her head.

“It’s all right Chakotay…I’m so glad you have all those memories…have all that you shared with her…  It can be a great comfort…”  He shook his head and stood, walking over to his desk to replace the images in a drawer there.

“I’m praying they won’t be all I have left…”  B’Elanna didn’t say anything.  There was nothing she could say to that.

She looked up now as her old friend handed her a cup of tea and shook herself.  She hadn’t even heard him replicate it.

“Chakotay…I came here tonight because…”  She looked into his eyes and shook her head sadly.  “I need to apologize to you…for today and for on the planet…what I said…how I acted…”  Chakotay put his cup down and covered her hand with his.

“B’Elanna….let it go.  I’ve learned a long time ago to let go of what is of no use to us.  All that matters is that we all know we care about each other a great deal.  Anything else is…it’s not important now…  I feel the same way as you do…and I’ve tortured myself all day…ever since I learned that she was alive after…”  He turned away a little and B’Elanna pulled her hand from his and covered his hand now, squeezing gently.

“I’m sorry for that…for what I said…  I guess we couldn’t have known…”  Chakotay turned to look at her now.

“No, we couldn’t have…  We did what was best…what she wanted…  All we can do now is pray that…”  He didn’t say anymore and didn’t need to.

Early the next morning, Danus and Coren contacted Voyager to inform Chakotay and the crew that the Government had been brought down.  Danus informed them that Tamar had returned to the planet and had been out in the villages all night and was expected back at any moment.  Chakotay requested and was granted permission to beam down to the surface then turned to face Tuvok, waiting to see his reaction.  Voyager’s Security Officer merely asked permission to join him and Chakotay nodded, getting approval from Danus.  Voyager was moved into orbit of Solus and an hour after that, they had beamed down.

When they re-materialised this time, Chakotay glanced around him quickly and saw that they were in the palace which they had beamed to many times before.  His mind though, was instantly assaulted by horrific memories of the last time he had come down to this planet.  He silently vowed that this time, he would only leave when he had Kathryn with him.  He took in the scene before him, evidence of a fierce fight all around, although what casualties would have been, had obviously been removed, leaving only the evidence of their existence in the blood stains on the floor.  He shook himself and forced a small smile to his face to greet the two aliens who stood before him.

“Has there been any word…?”  His eyes pleaded desperately and he saw Coran nod.

“Tamar is on his way.  He reported that he has news…”  Before he could finish, the young soldier entered through the door and made his way to Chakotay and Tuvok.

“I’ve found the village where she was taken…”  Chakotay cut across him immediately.

“Is she alive…?  Please…”  Tamar held up his hand.

“Commander please, I only know where she was taken…  There is no communication with this village at the moment…  There was fierce fighting close by and all communications are down.  We must go there now…”  Chakotay was already out the door, Tuvok and the others rushing to catch up with him.

Within a short space of time, they arrived at the small village, which was located at the base of a steep mountain.  They landed Tamar’s shuttle near the edge of the village and were warily approached by a small group of men.  Tamar quickly explained to Chakotay and Tuvok that landing any closer would only terrify the inhabitants, especially the old and the very young.

Chakotay and Tuvok now stood back a little and let Tamar explain the reason for their presence and watched as the men slowly nodded.  At a nod from Tamar, they followed the small group into the centre of the village.  Chakotay looked around him and gasped inwardly at what he saw. 

The settlement was comprised of many huts, built using natural materials and small fires burned in front of many of the small dwellings.  Barefoot children raced after each other, unaware of the turmoil of their world.  Women sat in small groups, whispering quietly to each other, occasionally stirring the contents of small cooking pots which sat on the fires.  All around them, animal pelts and recently dyed fabrics hung from thick ropes strung from one dwelling to another.  Chakotay glanced at Tuvok and saw that the Vulcan was as surprised as he was by the way these people lived.  They both felt they had travelled back in time.

Chakotay became aware of Tamar speaking with a woman now and drew his attention from the villagers who were staring at the strangers with a fearful curiosity.  Tamar’s voice broke the quiet which had descended on the village.

“Commander, this is Seena…”  Chakotay tried to smile at the woman before him, gauging her to be middle aged, at least by human standards.  He immediately noted a marking on her neck, almost like a tattoo and forced himself to stop staring at the marking.  Seena simply stood silently and allowed his gaze.  Tamar had also noticed and tried to explain.

“Commander, I understand…  I noticed your own marking immediately when I met you for the first time.  In our culture, when two people bond, they take on the marking…  Seena’s bonded one carries the same mark…”  Chakotay looked at Tamar in amazement.

“There is so much here…  It is so like my own people… how they used to…”  He stopped himself, afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings.  Tamar simply smiled.

“Commander, the villagers choose to live like this.  They prefer to shun modern ways of living.  They use only what they need from the present…medicine and such like…  For the rest of their lives, they prefer the past.  They’ve seen what the present and talk of the future can do…the warring and fighting…”  Chakotay smiled his understanding.  He turned back to Seena now, frantic for news of Kathryn and saw her staring at him, especially his forehead.  She slowly reached out and touched his face, Chakotay allowing her.

“We all carry our markings but never here…  Often they are partly hidden…only a part showing to let others know we are bonded…”  She smiled softly at him.  “I know your marking…it’s the same…so different from ours though…”  Chakotay frowned now.

“You know my tat…my marking…?”  Seena nodded and smiled again. 

“Ours are smaller…less detailed…  yours are…I like them…”  Chakotay shook his head in confusion.

“Them…?  Seena…how do you know…?”  Seena now frowned.

“How do I know?  From Miraba of course…  You’re her bonded one, aren’t you?  You carry the mark as does she…”  She looked at him as if he should know all this.  Chakotay turned quickly to Tamar.

“Is Kathryn here?  Tamar…please…”  The young soldier nodded slowly.

“She is here but…  Commander…they have done all they can… she’s very weak…”  Chakotay was already giving Tuvok orders to get the Doctor and Tom down, then looked at Tamar for permission, his eyes begging.  Tamar spoke quickly with another man and then gave his permission.

“They trust me…know they can.  They can come…I just need for the villagers to expect…”  Chakotay nodded his understanding but his eyes pleaded and Tamar moved off, indicating for them to follow him.  Chakotay spoke quietly with the young man as they walked.

“What did Seena mean…about knowing my marking…and what is or who is ‘Miraba’…?”  Tamar spoke quietly when he answered.

“I’m unsure how she knew your marking unless your Captain is also your mate and carries your mark…”  Chakotay shook his head sadly but didn’t speak.  “As to the name… ‘Miraba’ is our word for…it’s difficult to explain…a cross between stranger and friend…one you help…one who moves quickly from stranger to friend…it’s hard to explain…”  Chakotay again nodded his understanding.

Seena led them to a slightly larger hut than the others and called out to someone inside.  Tamar stood back and let Chakotay and Tuvok precede him inside.  It took a moment for their eyes to adjust to the dimness and Chakotay looked around him.  The scent of herbs and smoke filled the interior of the building and Chakotay found his mind drifting back to his boyhood, a thousand memories filling his head.  He almost felt his father’s presence with him.  He now made out a small cot, the occupant hidden from his view by another woman.  He slowly made his way towards her, steeling himself for what he would find.  The second woman looked up slowly and nodded, then stood back as this stranger approached.  Chakotay was barely aware of her taking in his tattoo as he met her eyes briefly then looked towards the small bed.  What he saw there brought him to his knees.

Kathryn lay on the cot, her eyes closed and even in the dim light, her skin appeared an unnatural, almost grey colour.  The rasping sound of her breathing reached his ears and he slowly reached out a hand to touch her arm.  He gasped as his fingers made contact with her skin, the heat radiating off it, almost burning him.

“Kathryn…oh God…”  His voice choked up and he felt his tears falling.  “Kathryn… please…”  He became aware of a soft hand on his shoulder and looked up into the face of Seena.

“We have done all we can.  We managed to remove some of the projectiles from her body but others were too deep…”  Chakotay nodded, his eyes never leaving the sight before him.  “The medicines…the ones from the outside…they don’t work in her body…  We’ve used our own…herbs and such like…they help but…”  Chakotay looked up finally, refusing to hide his feelings from this woman.

“Thank you…for helping her…  How is she…?”  His throat was closing, shutting off his words.

“She has a high fever…we’ve tried so hard to bring it down…  Her wounds…they are badly infected… and she has lost so much blood…  We’ve no way of replacing…”  Chakotay barely managed to nod his understanding.  Seena bent down beside him now and reached for the thin sheet which covered Kathryn.

“We’ve done all we can…kept the wounds as clean as possible….used poultices to try and draw the infection out… tried to stop the bleeding…”  She pulled the sheet back and Chakotay almost fell backwards in shock.  Kathryn's chest and abdomen were barely covered with loose-fitting dressings, blood and other fluids soaking through them, the herb pastes coating her skin.  “We can’t stop the bleeding… it’s slowed considerably but we can’t stop it…  She’s unconscious most of the time…which is a blessing…she has a lot of pain…”  Chakotay bit down painfully on his lip and nodded.  He then felt a hand on his arm and looked up into the face of the other woman.

“You are her bonded one…you carry her marking…”  She pointed to Chakotay’s tattoo and frowned when she saw him shake his head in confusion.  “Her marking…”  She pointed to the woman lying before her.  She looked to Seena now and together they reached to their ‘patient’ and rolled her slightly, careful not to disturb the wounds.  What Chakotay saw, caused him to fall sideways into a sitting position, his eyes now riveted to the back of Kathryn's shoulder.  There, in identical detail, was a copy of his tattoo.  Without realizing the action, his hand reached out to touch the mark.

“Oh Kathryn…oh dear God…”  Before he could say anymore, he heard movement behind him and looked around quickly to see the Doctor and Tom hurry in.  He heard Tuvok and Tamar explain quickly and forced himself to move back, allowing the Medic to work.  He heard his own voice but didn’t realize he had spoken.

“Doc please…help her…”  He saw the EMH nod and move to Kathryn, quickly scanning her.  He was then aware of Seena and the other woman speaking to the Medic, telling him all they could.

“Occasionally she wakes…but it’s not real…and she seems to have no understanding…well except the pain…  Her eyes don’t seem to see what is in front of her and she quickly grows frantic…tossing and trying to move… and then she’ll shake…almost like a seizure…”  The Doctor nodded.

“They are convulsions…as a result of the high fever and the infection…”  Seena nodded.

“She has torn the wounds open many times…more blood lost…  We had no way to replace it… I’m sorry…we are quite different…there was so little we could do…”  The Medic looked up a moment and smiled softly.

“You’ve done a wonderful job.  The fact that she’s still alive is a miracle…”  He caught himself quickly and glanced over at Chakotay.  “I’m sorry…”  Chakotay didn’t look away from Kathryn.

“Just help her Doc…”  Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the Doctor nod and then heard him call to Tom.

“Mr. Paris…”  Tom was beside the cot immediately, tearing himself away from staring at his Captain, pushing down his emotions to concentrate on helping her.  “I need to get some antibiotic into her now and we have to try and get this fever down before her heart gives out…  She also badly needs blood and fluids…”  Chakotay watched helplessly as Tom and the Doctor went into action, scanning and pressing hypo after hypo against her neck.  Within a short space of time, he heard her breathing ease a little.

“We need to get her back to the ship immediately… These bullets must be removed…  One is too close to her heart for my liking…  I don’t want to move her but…”  He looked at Chakotay first, then changed his mind and spoke to Tuvok instead.  “Can we transport her from here…?”  Tuvok nodded immediately and contacted Voyager to arrange the beam out.

Just as they were about to transport, a soft moan filled the air and all eyes flew to the woman before them.  Chakotay gasped when he saw Kathryn's eyes barely open and her head move slightly.  Seena rushed forward.

“We have to hold her… this is one of her fits…”  She saw the Doctor before her nod his understanding and move into action.  Suddenly Kathryn's body convulsed before their eyes and she cried out, her back arching off the small cot.  Seena and the Doctor barely managed to hold her in place.

“Chakotay…”  It was a painful cry and tore at Chakotay’s heart.  Without pausing, he moved to her and stroked her face, whispering quietly to her.

“I’m here love…it’s all right…you’re safe…shhhhh now…I’m here…”  She seemed to hear him somehow and within a minute, settled down.  Her eyes were barely open, staring unseeing at him and beads of sweat covered her face and body but she continued to almost shiver.

“Chakotay…help me…”  Her voice was a bare whisper and he continued to speaking to her, praying she could hear him, that he was giving her some comfort.  “Please…the pain…so cold…”  Her words cut through him.

“Shhhhh…it’s all right love…I’m here…”  The heat from her skin burned into his hands.  “We’re taking you back to Voyager…everything is all right…you’ll be fine…I’m here…”  Slowly her body stilled and her eyes slipped closed again but her breathing had deteriorated once more.  Chakotay looked quickly to the Doctor, seeking what hope he could find.

“We have to get her back now…We can’t delay another second…”  He looked to Tuvok who nodded and within a minute, they were in sickbay.