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

Rating:          NC 17.  Kids go play elsewhere.  Contains adult material.

Summary:     With Kathryn missing and then presumed dead while on shore leave,
                      Voyager and her crew are forced to go on without her.  When they
                       rescue a young telepath, she brings them horrifying news but hope too.

This is based on August’s story ‘Shoreleave’.  I hate sad endings.  They keep me awake at night.  Sorry August – great story and wonderful writing but I just had to sprinkle a little fairy dust – eventually.





Chakotay awoke that morning as he did most mornings, with no specific expectation of the day that lay ahead.  It was something which had served him well throughout his life and since entering the Delta Quadrant, he found it was an attitude that kept him sane.  No day here could ever be planned and he never knew what the next hour would bring, much less the coming day.

This was the last day they would be spending at Intara, a planet rich in minerals and foodstuffs.  He knew the crew would be almost sorry to depart this world, shore leave having been enjoyed by them all at a purpose-built resort provided by the Government.

Chakotay remembered the relaxing time he had spent on the surface the previous day and had almost begged Kathryn to take some leave also, knowing she badly needed it.  Thoughts of his Captain sobered him instantly.  She had not been herself for many weeks now and despite constant attempts on his part to get her to open up to him or take part in crew events, he failed miserably each time.

He knew she was aware of how he felt about her and he was weary of reminding her that she was not alone, that he was always there for her but lately this appeared to cause her to withdraw into herself even more and so he had backed off, showing her silently that his feelings were the same but that he also respected her space.

He dragged his thoughts back to the present and hurried to the bridge for his shift.  He knew there were final details to be gone over with the Intaran Government regarding their trade and set his mind to that.  Chakotay admitted to himself that this was one part of their visit to this world he would not miss.  While the officials they dealt with were nothing but courteous and helpful, there was something about them which troubled the First Officer.  He felt he was dealing with a mask, that there was more going on beneath the surface, hidden from him.

When he arrived on the bridge, he found that Kathryn was already in her ready room and had been on duty for almost two hours already, despite the fact that their shifts started at the same time.  He shook his head and sighed as he signalled for entrance to her inner sanctum and was already prepared for the sight that met him.  Kathryn, as she was constantly these days, sat behind her desk, engrossed in reports and other ship’s business and barely acknowledged his presence.  He cleared his throat to speak but Kathryn beat him to it.

“Commander, the bridge is yours today.  I’ll be going down to the surface.”

Chakotay might as well have been hit in the face with a chair, his shock was so great.  “Pardon me Captain.  Did I hear you right?  Are you feeling well?” 

His face had broken into a smile which vanished when Kathryn looked up at him and met his eyes.  He knew she was tired lately and that something was troubling her but the face he saw held more than that.  She looked sad and even vulnerable and concern instantly swept over him.  Protocol left the room and he sat in front of her desk.  “Kathryn?  Kathryn, what’s wrong?  I can see something…”

She immediately stood up and turned towards the replicator, ordering a refill of her coffee.
“Chakotay, there is nothing wrong.  I’m just taking up the chance of some leave.  I need…I thought this was what you would want also.  You have been badgering me for days now…” 

Chakotay was suddenly standing behind her, his concern showing.  “Kathryn, I agree you need to take some time off but that’s not it.  I can read you pretty well and I get the feeling there’s something more here.  You look…”

“What I look is tired Chakotay, that’s all.  Now please, if there’s nothing else…”  Her manner was soft yet warned against further discussion on the matter and Chakotay reluctantly let it drop.

“All right Kathryn.  I’ll drop it for now but just promise me to take this day for yourself.  Relax please and take the time to be you for one day.  Do something that feels good.  I’m not trying to upset you or anything.  Kathryn, I just care about you, as does the entire crew.  What’s good for you is good for us.”

She had her back to him and made no move to turn and face him so he turned to leave the room.  He had just reached the door when her voice stopped him and he turned back to her.  “Chakotay, I know you care and…I know you all care.  I just need to take a bit of time to myself, resolve some things.  Chakotay…I care too… I just…need to settle…once and for all…”

Chakotay was just about to speak when Tuvok hailed them that they were ready for Kathryn to transport down.  As she walked past him toward the door, she suddenly stopped and placed her hand on his cheek.  She looked deep into his eyes and seemed about to say something then appeared to change her mind.  “I’d better go.”

She was out the door and gone before his mind started working again, leaving him wondering what the hell had just happened.  Before he had a chance to try and make sense of anything, B’Elanna called him about a problem in Engineering and the train of thought was lost.

The ‘problem’ in Engineering turned into a full-scale headache for Chakotay and B’Elanna and even with four other Engineering crew helping, it was almost eight hours later before everything was back to normal and Voyager was running at peak efficiency.  

Chakotay headed for the mess hall, his mind as tired as his body and forced a small meal down, his exhaustion having stolen his appetite.  He groaned to himself thinking of the report which would have to be filed before he could escape to his bed.  Some two hours later, he pressed his thumbprint to the last padd and left his office, nothing but sleep on his mind.  He was so out of it, not even Kathryn entered his thoughts and within two minutes of falling across his bed, he was asleep.

It took Chakotay a while to realize that the hand shaking his shoulder was not a part of some dream and he slowly climbed back to consciousness and opened his eyes to see Tuvok leaning over him.

“Commander, I apologise for the intrusion but I did try and hail you many times.  Obviously you were sleeping rather deeply.”

Chakotay dragged himself into a sitting position and realized that he was still wearing his uniform.  It was surprisingly free of creases, his slumber having been so deep that he had made no movement during his unconscious hours. 

“Tuvok, sorry…I guess I was too out of it…what is it?”  The world was gradually coming into focus and he rubbed at his face with his hands, as if trying to wash the sleep away without the aid of water.  The Vulcan’s next words however, changed everything.

“Commander, I must inform you that the Captain is missing.”

Chakotay was now instantly awake and on his feet.  “What do you mean ‘missing’?  Tuvok…”

“Commander, the Captain was due back on the ship two hours ago.  She has not answered our hails and scans of the surface have failed to locate her.”

Chakotay was pacing in a small circle, oblivious of himself.  This was something he had always feared most and he forced his mind to order itself.  “Search teams…?”

“Already on the surface.  The Intaran Government have also been informed and are doing what they can.”

“Let’s get moving then.”  Chakotay was off, Tuvok trying to keep up.

Chakotay sat in his office, head in hands, his mind in turmoil.  Two weeks had passed and despite constant searches and scans of the planet, no trace could be found of their Captain.  The Government had sent out search parties of their own and informed the Voyager crew that they had questioned many people but there had been no sightings of Kathryn Janeway.

He had stormed out of the mess hall earlier, leaving two red faced Ensigns in his wake.  Chakotay had torn strips off the two and had barely controlled his fists.  He knew the crew were all speculating about their Captain’s disappearance and many different stories had done the rounds, ranging from the highly possible to the downright impossible. 

Most believed that their leader had been kidnapped but that the senior crew were saying nothing until a ransom could be paid.  Some believed she had finally cracked and had been put into stasis by the Doctor.  Others suggested she had met with an Official of the Intaran Government and had fallen madly in love and was now going to remain on this world.  And now the latest which Chakotay had heard, that she had run off, her guilt having finally caught up with her and that she was going somewhere to kill herself.

It was late in the evening and the searches had once again been called off until daylight returned.  Voyager’s First Officer and now acting Captain left his office and found himself wandering the corridors, eventually arriving outside Kathryn’s quarters.

He was unsure what had taken him here and without thinking, saw himself using his override codes on her door and entering her rooms.  Her scent surrounded him instantly and he felt tears come to his eyes.  After a few minutes, he found himself wandering from sitting room to bedroom and back, touching her things as if they could give him the answers he so desired.  He absent mindedly fingered a padd lying on her desk and then picked it up, wandering towards the couch before sitting and activating the padd.

He realized at once that the words were part of a personal log and was about to stop reading when his name jumped out at him.  He read on slowly, a feeling of guilt growing at this intrusion into her private world but he swallowed it, telling himself that maybe there was some clue here to her whereabouts.  What he read suggested to him an answer he didn’t ever want to consider.

“This has gone on long enough.  I know I’m making Chakotay’s life a misery and the crew can even see the way I am, what I’ve become.  I wish so much I could resolve these issues and sort my thoughts but the peace of mind I long for eludes me and without that, no other part of my mind seems to want to function.

Dear Chakotay and his endless patience.  I know he loves me and I hate myself for the pain I’ve caused him.  I constantly feel he would be far better off without me in his life and as I look at this fine crew, I now feel they would also be better off were I not here.  At times I believe I almost hinder their journey home the way I am.  Will they ever get to see that home again?  Without me, they would not be here in the first place.

I know I need to end all this and so I’ve finally made a decision.  Chakotay has been at me for days now to take some leave and he’s right.  I know now this is what I need to do and so tomorrow I’ll go down to the surface and resolve this one and for all, for the good of everyone.  I actually pray for the guidance and courage I need to see this through, to make this decision and keep to it.  They all think I’m so strong but I know how weak I can be.   If I can just find enough strength to do this, this ship will be a far happier place and maybe Chakotay will find the peace and love he deserves.”

Chakotay just sat, his mind in turmoil.  Before he thought about it, he hailed Tuvok and when the Vulcan arrived in Kathryn’s quarters, obviously wondering what the First Officer was doing there at such a late hour, Chakotay just handed him the padd.  He looked around his Captain’s private domain carefully, trying to notice if anything was missing but couldn’t tell.  Finally Tuvok’s voice broke into his senses.  “Am I correct in assuming that you believe this to be some form of…suicide note, Commander?”  There was no nice way to say it.

“I’m not sure what to think anymore, Tuvok.  Scans would have revealed something, even…a body…I don’t know what to think anymore.”  Chakotay stood and paced back and forth.  “Let’s just say that was her intention, as much as I hate to think that”  he tried to keep his emotions in control and think rationally “surely we would have found…remains…something…her comm badge…”  Chakotay looked to Tuvok.

“There is also the possibility that she may have left this planet.  We should check to see what other vessels have been here or have left orbit.  Sir, I would suggest sharing this with the senior staff, despite the personal nature of the log.”  Chakotay nodded.  “Call a meeting.”

Over the next two hours, many opinions and ideas were passed back and forth.  Not one of the senior crew could believe that Kathryn Janeway would ever take her own life but all reluctantly admitted that her words suggested some drastic action on her part.  Most preferred to believe that she had left to find another life elsewhere rather than face the idea that she could have been so desperate as to end it all.

Chakotay looked around at them all, the pain on their faces and the obvious love and respect they all had for their Captain.  He wondered if Kathryn had any idea of what she was putting them through, where ever she was.  Finally it was B’Elanna who broke the silence that had ascended over the small group.

“Chakotay…even…even if this is the case…I don’t know about the rest of you, but if…if it’s the worst, that she has…well…we should still look for her and bring her home…it’s the least we can do…”  The tough Klingon couldn’t go on.  

Chakotay nodded only, his throat dried up.  He noticed the others mimicking him, all tacitly agreeing.  Whatever had happened, they wanted their leader back.

All the next day, they checked and re-checked records from the Government on ship movement to and from the planet and discovered that only Intaran ships had been in and out of orbit.  The Official helping them assured them that all their ships had been contacted and that no passengers had been taken on any of them.

At this stage, another Official had joined their meeting and called Chakotay and Tuvok to one side.  As delicately as she could, she informed them that their Government were calling off their searches.  She pointed out to them that there were many places on their planet where scans could never penetrate and as diplomatically as possible, suggested that there was nothing more to be done.  Without coming right out and saying it, the message was passed that it was over, that it was time they moved on.

Chakotay and Tuvok had at this time also checked through Kathryn’s personal belongings and discovered that nothing was missing, even items she would always have kept with her.  This discovery did not bode well with them.

When all the senior staff met later back on Voyager, Chakotay relayed the day’s events.  They all knew the end of the road had been reached, that they had failed.  To stay on further would not be permitted, even though it had not been said up front.  They would break orbit in the morning and resume their journey home, forever leaving a part of them on this world they had all come to hate.  Voyager would never again be the same.

Chakotay sat in Kathryn’s quarters all that night, breathing in her scent and making what contact he could with the woman he loved by touching her belongings but the pain in his soul continued to grow.  He felt he had betrayed her, that by even leaving her body behind, he had failed her completely.  He dreaded the coming morning, when he knew they would have to finally let her go and he knew the rest of the crew felt the same, that they also shared his silent vigil on this long night.

Nearly three weeks had passed since Voyager’s Captain had beamed down to the planet’s surface to sort her troubled mind, knowing she couldn’t continue the way she had been and not without Chakotay in her life.  Her indecision and denial of any personal happiness in her life was tearing the ship apart and she knew it.  She knew that if she couldn’t function as a whole person, the mission to get home would suffer.  She had come down to the surface to set her mind in order and decide how best to approach the man she loved.  She had wanted her words to be right when she spoke to him and tried to explain how confused and filled with doubts she had been but also how she had finally realized that she could no longer live without him in her life in every way.  She never got that chance. 

She remembered vaguely hearing a small child crying and without thinking, had ventured into the side alley to help if she could.  Other images stayed with her of dark shadows suddenly moving out from the walls and closing in on her, of pain when fists and boots rained down on her as she fell under the weight of the shadows and the blackness that claimed her mind within minutes.

For Kathryn Janeway now, hours and days and weeks had all blurred together with only pain and fear filling them.  All that existed now was the tiny cell with the damp and cold and almost total darkness and as bad as it was, she grew to crave it.  Outside of the cell, was the pain and the bright lights that sliced into her eyes.  She thought they took her many times a day but even that was unclear to her.  She found her mind unable to comprehend the length of a day any more and she forced herself to remember names and places from her life, which grew dimmer all the time.

As she lay in the darkness, she tried to block out the screams of what she assumed were other prisoners and wondered if that was how she sounded to them when it was her turn and she screamed until she was hoarse.  She felt guilty for feeling relieved that it was someone else’s turn and not hers but she knew the others would feel the same.  There was no room in this place for thinking of any one else.  Anything like compassion was long gone from her and she found herself with just the base feelings of any creature, fear, pain and hate.  All her faith and belief that someone would come for her now was gone and she knew that Voyager had either been destroyed or that her crew believed her dead.  Either way, she knew that her only way out of this hell now was through death and found herself praying for that end and the pain free peace it would bring.

Each time they took her was the same.  She was dragged down a long stone corridor and thrown into a dark room, and then the bright lights would come on and send shards of pain into her eyes.  She would be hauled up off the floor but then it varied from time to time.  Some times she found herself strapped into a chair, other times chained onto a table or hung from the ceiling but the beatings and torture that followed were always the same.  They screamed endless questions at her, none of which she understood.  She could never make them understand that without her comm badge, she would never understand their words.  She tried on occasions to indicate to them that she needed the badge, but they never grasped her meaning and so the pain continued endlessly.

Lately they had started using drugs on her and had inserted a tube into her neck, which was left in place.  This was used each time to inject the various fluids, all of which caused excruciating pain.  Other times, an alien she assumed was a doctor of some kind would come and when she was secured to the table, took great delight in ‘examining’ her, painful probes inserted all over her body as he prodded and cut away at her flesh and invaded her with crude instruments which caused further agony to an already battered body. 

Kathryn knew the drugs were affecting her mind now and even simple thinking was becoming harder.  She found trouble at times remembering her own name and constantly repeated names and places to herself in a vain effort to hang onto something of herself.  Only short-term memory remained with her now, her long-term memory fading by the day.

She found herself once more awakening in the darkness of her cell and had enough sense to realize that she had passed out again during her time away.  Her thoughts swirled and drifted around her mind and she tried desperately to repeat her words over and over to herself despite the constant pain but her voice failed her.  It registered dimly with her that her constant screaming had taken her voice and also that the tube in her neck was causing damage and she felt the skin around the insertion area as burning and painful.  The word ‘infection’ came to her but was forgotten just as quickly.  She dragged herself over to a corner of her cell and lay her head down and it vaguely registered with her that her arm and leg wouldn’t move with her.  With pain her only companion, she let the darkness invade her mind and welcomed it.

Kathryn passed in and out of consciousness and slowly realized that it was longer than usual since her last ‘visit’.  As time passed further, she came to understand now that days instead of hours had passed with no one coming for her.  No food or water had been brought and her limited thought processes were enough for her to realize that the end would come this way.  She knew enough to understand that she had been left here to die in the cold and dark and whereas a death like that would have caused her unbearable pain and sadness before, now it brought relief that soon it would be over.  She fought the agonising hunger and thirst and as she felt the darkness enter her mind again, she prayed that this time it would last forever.

Awareness of sorts returned slowly and Kathryn could hear muffled shouts and bangs.  Her hearing was bad now and the pain in one ear blocked out most sounds.  She suddenly felt hands lift her and knew they were back for her, taking her to another round of pain and torture.  She hung limply from the hands that dragged her down the corridor and was conscious of her bare feet dragging along the stone floor, tearing away layers of skin.  She felt the journey longer than usual and was suddenly aware of air on her face and body and realized she was outside.  A thought came that perhaps this was to be the end, that they were taking her out here to finish her off and she prayed they would be quick about it.

Kathryn’s world swirled around her and suddenly she felt herself lifted by strong arms and could barely make out an alien face staring down at her, her vision blurred.  Her head lolled back and she felt she could make out stars and then shadows of perhaps trees.   Other muffled shouts and screams came to her and then loud explosions.  The arms carrying her tightened and then the darkness came to her again.

The next time Kathryn was aware, she found herself lying on something soft and another alien face was looking down at her.  She tried to move her head to see her surroundings but pain stopped her and she groaned, little sound coming from her throat.  She was aware of something cool on her forehead and then she closed her eyes again.

Time passed this way and each time Kathryn became aware, the same alien face was there, tending and soothing her and she felt her fear slowly fade.  She tried moving again but each time she was met with fresh pain and so she gave up.  She felt this ‘woman’ smear a paste on her body that always burned slightly but eased within seconds.  As her awareness increased and her lucid moments became longer, her new friend would press some form of leaf into her mouth and make an indication of chewing to Kathryn.  She quickly understood that this leaf took some of her pain away and she tried to smile her gratitude but even the effort of that caused agony and she gave up.

After many ‘days’ spent in this state, Kathryn finally managed to take in some of her surroundings.  She came to realize that she was far from alone here in her condition.  There were many others lying on the ground, scattered around the cave like area they inhabited.  Finally Kathryn tried to sit up and was rewarded with a wave of nausea and dizziness which knocked her back down again.  Her friend, now her constant carer, stroked her face gently and uttered soft words which Kathryn could not understand.  She pressed a wet cloth to Kathryn’s lips, slowly squeezing it to let the moisture drip into her mouth.  Kathryn sucked desperately on the cloth, craving the fluid it held, causing her to cough violently.  The other woman withdraw the cloth quickly and gently eased Kathryn onto her side until it passed then gently lay her back down again.  A silent moment passed between the two women and Kathryn found herself feeling safe for the first time in her memory.

As the days went by, Kathryn slowly gained strength and found she could take the pain with the help of the leaves she was given to chew.  The darkness of the cave was easy on her eyes but her hearing was bad and her voice seemed to have left her completely.  She was managing to keep a little food and water down now.  Kathryn became aware that there were perhaps twenty or so people in this place, all doing what they could for the sick and dying.  Twice she witnessed the removal of someone who had not made it through the night and it pained her.  She never knew when night was there, the dim illumination of the cave making time impossible to distinguish.

Slowly bit by bit, she was able to move around and as time passed, she began helping with the others, doing what her new friend showed her.  She noticed that her arm and leg were twisted, the breaks having healed badly.  Her left arm and hand were of little use and her right leg dragged badly but she managed.  Almost everything seemed to have to be learned again but she found having some purpose helped her.

Comprehending the others was a major problem but with hand gestures, understanding was quickly established.  She learned that her friend was called Lall but when she tried to say her own name, nothing came to her, either in voice or from her memory.  Lall seemed to understand and just smiled.

Kathryn tended the others as best she could, pressing the leaves into their mouths, spreading the paste on wounds and comforting them in their pain.  On one occasion, she sat and cried for a long time as a young child died in her arms, hoping that her presence and comforting had eased the little one’s passage in some way.

Over time, she eventually ventured outside with the others, always during the hours of darkness.  She realized that the darkness was a friend to them all, their eyes as badly affected by light as her own.  Her new friends quickly taught her their ways and showed her the correct fruit and berries to pick, how to find the leaves that eased their pain, where to dig for tubers, even how to fish the nearby stream. 

With time, Kathryn came to accept this life and what had been before slipped from her but there was always something in her mind that refused to let go but it would never form clearly for her.  She found herself constantly staring at the night sky without understanding why and in this way she earned her new name.  The others watched her sadness when her mind wandered like this and would point to the sky and then at Kathryn, saying simply ‘Kar’.  A closeness grew among the group who depended so much upon each other.

One night, Kathryn was working the river and found a flat stone.  On instinct she slipped it into her clothing and when she had time, she chipped away at it, working a design into it.  Her mind would give her no clue as to why she did this, but she knew it was important to her and so it became her most treasured and only possession.  She kept it tied inside her clothing, guarding it carefully.

Some nights, there would be screams from further into the forest and the others always dragged her back into the cave quickly.  Later, she realized that some of them had not returned and were not seen again.

The next time this happened, Kathryn was working with Lall digging tubers when dark shadows came from nowhere.  Lall screamed and fought with one of the shadows.  Kathryn felt hands dragging her away and realized one of their group was trying to get her to safety but something in her fought the hands.  She found herself running towards her friend to help and suddenly two more shadows were on her and now she was fighting for herself.  She knew with her arm and leg the way they were that she had no hope and felt something strike her head and then nothing.

When the world came back to Kathryn, she found herself in a small, windowless room, lying on a bed.  It took several minutes for her eyes to adjust to the gloom and she slowly began to make out the bed she lay on, a table and chair in the corner and cloth hangings on the wall.  A dim light burned on the table. 

Suddenly Kathryn heard the door open and a man stepped into the room carrying a bowl of sorts and a tray of something.  He nodded to some unseen presence outside the door and Kathryn saw the door close again and heard a lock click into place.  This alien man walked towards the table, ignoring Kathryn and her fear.  She curled up tightly on the bed as far from him as she could.  Finally he turned to her and just stared for a long time and then brought the tray over to her.  He motioned with his hand that she should eat and set the tray down beside her on the bed then backed off.  Kathryn’s hunger won out over her fear and she grabbed at the food.  This stranger then brought over some water from a jug on the table Kathryn had not seen and handed it to her.  Once again her fear came second to her needs and she gulped down the liquid, almost choking on it. 

The stranger came back towards her and removed the tray and glass, placing them on the table.  He brought the bowl over to her and placed it on a chair beside the bed.  He knocked on the door and took something from the one outside, nodding again and then the door locked once more.  The man now indicated to Kathryn that she should wash and change into the clothes he laid on the bed then knocked once more on the door and was gone.

Kathryn’s instinct to be clean quickly took over and she washed and changed quickly.  It felt good to be clean again and she enjoyed this small pleasure.  A lot of her memories had left her but she found that instincts remained.  As she changed, she remembered her stone and removed it from her old rags, hiding it quickly inside her new dress, then lay down on the bed to await whatever would be next.

The stranger came back and removed the basin and the old clothes but returned quickly.  Once again he stood and stared at her and Kathryn felt herself growing nervous.  Slowly he approached her and she found herself staring into his face, quickly reading his slow smile.  Her mind worked well enough to understand the look on his face and with the instincts she still had, she found herself sliding off the bed and backing into a corner.

He was on her before she knew what was happening.  She fought as best she could but knew she had no hope.  She ducked under his arm, knowing there was nowhere to go yet trying to stave off the inevitable but he was too quick for her, her leg hindering her badly.  She felt him lift her off her feet and then throw her down onto the bed.  Within seconds he was on her, tearing at the dress he had given her.  She felt it rip and then felt the pain as his hands squeezed at her breasts.  His knees dug between her thighs painfully and she fought with all her strength but to no avail.  She was weak and he knew it.  In seconds he had entered her and Kathryn tried to scream out as pain racked her lower body but no sound came.  He rammed into her, ignoring her tears and then she felt him shudder and empty himself into her.  He lay on top of her for several minutes as her tears continued, then pulled out of her, straightened his clothes and left the room. 

Kathryn continued to lie there, her mind and body in shock.  She was suddenly aware of another man entering the room and waited for the same thing to happen again.  She was aware of this man kneeling down between her legs and pulling her towards the edge of the bed.  The fresh assault didn’t come and she looked towards him but he ignored her.  He started wiping at her and Kathryn saw the cloth he used stained with her blood, then felt him run some kind of device over the area before spreading a cream on her.  A hypospray of sorts was pressed to her hip and Kathryn felt the pain ease.  This was followed by two others and then this ‘doctor’ handed her another dress and left the room without having uttered a word.

Kathryn found herself acting on autopilot as she changed her dress, secured her stone and then crawled onto the bed, curling into a tight ball.  Exhaustion overtook her and she was dimly aware of someone in the room taking the old dress and pulling a blanket over her.  She gave into the darkness and prayed not to return.

Over the next days or weeks, she wasn’t sure, her ‘owner’ as she came to think of him, visited many times and slowly started to introduce others to her.  Kathryn now understood why she was here and gave up thoughts of fighting it quickly.  Mostly she just lay there and let the men do what they had come for.  The doctor was a constant visitor to her, healing the injuries which the men inflicted and to press a hypospray to her neck each morning.  Kathryn knew enough to understand that this was some form of contraceptive and wondered how she knew this but she accepted it, just as she accepted the image of a man’s face which came to her and gave her comfort.  She couldn’t remember him well but he was always there with her.  His image made her feel good and she vaguely remembered caring for him at some time.  She longed to be with him and wondered where he was.

Some of the men who came would be gentle and appeared to just want release but others delighted in her pain and tears.  Kathryn learned quickly that fighting them prolonged the ordeal with some and finished it more quickly with others and she learned to act accordingly.  Most of the time she just lay still and let them take what they had come for.  She would withdraw into her mind as they pulled her body around and used her for their own satisfaction.  All Kathryn did was pray for an end that never came.