Desperate Measures
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Summary: They’re home… but it’s not what they hoped for. Estranged by circumstance and misunderstanding and kept apart by devious design, Voyager’s former command team are drawn into a world of danger, deception and political intrigue that could end up costing their lives.

 

Characters: Janeway, Chakotay, Seven, Kim, Tuvok, Torres, Paris, Sekaya, Original Female Characters, Original Male Characters

Codes: Janeway/Chakotay, Janeway/Other, Chakotay/Seven, Kim/Seven

 

Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own the rights to the Voyager universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.

Warning: Non-consensual sex depicted.

Rated E

I will try to let you go
if we're getting in too deep
And I will do my best to go
If we get in too deep
Lost Frequencies, In Too Deep

===0===


Chapter Thirteen: Deeper Water
April, 2379



“Tuvok, what the hell are you doing here?”

The Vulcan in command red stepped down from the raised cargo platform. “Captain Chakotay.”

Tuvok appeared as impassive as any Vulcan, but thanks to his years of working with him, Chakotay was able to pick up on the slight hint of warning in his eyes. He reined himself in quickly.

A glance behind told him that Kash was watching them closely. There had to be a way to play this that would allay her suspicions … He decided to brazen it out.

Stepping up close to Tuvok, squaring his shoulders, he injected derision into his tone. “And which idiot gave you a captaincy?”

Tuvok’s infinitesimally lifted eyebrow conveyed approval of Chakotay’s tactic. “My promotion was awarded by Admiral Shanthi, whom I would venture to suggest is not an idiot.”

“That’s debatable,” Chakotay snorted.

Kash moved in closer. “Are we having a problem here, gentlemen?”

Chakotay rounded on her. “Why didn’t you tell me your contact was this … this Vulcan petaQ?”

“Because I wanted to witness your reaction to seeing him,” the Trialan purred, amber eyes glinting. She grasped Chakotay’s elbow and pulled him far enough away that even superior Vulcan hearing couldn’t detect her next words. “We could hardly send you to assess the trustworthiness of an operative you’re personally disposed to trust, could we, Captain? And the two of you did serve together for quite some time.”

Chakotay set his teeth. “Are you ever going to stop testing me?”

“You’ve passed all the tests I have for you. For now.” She patted his shoulder. “I’ll leave the two of you to get reacquainted. Report to the shuttle in two hours. We’ll need to brief Mekas on your initial evaluation of Captain Tuvok here.”

Chakotay watched her sashay out of the storage bay.

He strode back to Tuvok, intending to demand answers, but the Vulcan’s brief shake of the head warned him to keep up his act and he changed tack quickly.

“Where’s the bar?” he growled. “I’m going to need a drink for this.”

 

===0===


“Admiral!” Tom Paris couldn’t stop the wide smile from spreading across his face at the sight of his former commanding officer. “I couldn’t believe it when Dad told me you were coming for dinner.”

“Lieutenant Commander Paris,” Janeway responded. There appeared to be tears in her eyes, but the corner of her mouth quirked upward in its familiar way. “I don’t suppose you brought your family with you?”

“B’Elanna and Miral are inside, and dying to see you.” He shook his head, grinning at her. “It’s so good to see you.”

“You too, Tom.”

There was an awkward moment when he bent toward her just as she raised her hand to clasp his bicep, and he stepped back a fraction, and then Janeway gave a genuine laugh and moved in to hug him.

Her embrace was strong and fervent, and she seemed unwilling to end it. Tom suspected she didn’t get to hug people who cared about her very often.

Speaking of which… “Where’s your husband?” he asked. “I was hoping to meet the man who captured the heart of the fearless captain of Voyager.”

Janeway’s answering laugh was a little late and a little forced. “Ryan had another engagement tonight. I’m afraid it’s just me.”

“All the better,” Tom answered smoothly, taking in her sudden pallor and the way her mouth had drooped at the corners. “We get you all to ourselves. Come inside and I’ll fix you a stardrifter. Harry acquired some from a Ferengi whose uncle runs the bar on Deep Space Nine, and he tells me it’s even more potent than Romulan ale.”

“That sounds terrifying,” she replied drily. “I’d love one, thank you.”

“This way.” Tom led her along the corridor to the drawing room, keeping up the kind of banter that he, and he suspected Janeway, could manage with ease while engaging most of his attention elsewhere. Right now, he was devoting that attention to wondering what kind of trouble he’d detected in Janeway’s newlywed paradise.

“Cap- Admiral!” B'Elanna Torres leapt up from kneeling on the floor with her small daughter as Tom led Janeway into the room. Unlike her husband, she showed no restraint in flinging her arms around her erstwhile captain.

“Oh, B'Elanna,” Janeway said softly, returning the embrace just as fiercely. “I’ve missed you so much.”

As soon as they’d separated, Janeway stooped to introduce herself to Miral, and once she had passed the little girl’s inspection, straightened up again to greet Owen and Julia Paris. Tom brought her a lurid green drink which she placed discreetly on a table, untouched, as she tried to answer the questions B'Elanna peppered her with: what was she working on? Had she been well? How was married life?

Tom noticed that Janeway’s shoulders grew more rigid and tense with each question, and laid a quelling hand on his wife’s arm. “I think the admiral wanted to have a word with Dad,” he reminded her.

B'Elanna glanced at him, read his expression and halted her flow of questions immediately.

“It’s a gorgeous evening,” Julia cut in smoothly. “Let’s take Miral outside for a while and leave the brass to catch up.”

Tom watched Janeway exchange a brief glance with his father and stand, flashing Julia a quick, grateful smile as the two admirals disappeared in the direction of Owen’s study.

“Wish I was a fly on that wall,” he muttered.

“No, you don’t,” his mother responded tartly. “Be grateful for the burden of knowledge you don’t have to bear.”

“Wow, Mom, so profound,” Tom teased, bending to hoist Miral into his arms and follow Julia and B'Elanna out into the courtyard.

But despite his mother’s warning, he couldn’t help wondering what secrets his father and his former captain were discussing; or why Janeway had looked as tired and stressed out as she had on their worst days in the Delta quadrant; or why she’d apparently come directly from the shuttleport to the Paris house, without even stopping at home to change out of her uniform or greet her husband.

 

===0===


“Sit down, Kathryn.”

“I’d rather stand, thank you, Admiral,” she replied immediately.

Paris turned shrewd eyes on her. “By my reckoning you’ve been travelling for two days, haven’t slept for most of it, have a headache so bad it’s making you nauseous, and if you don’t sit down you’re likely to pass out, so, Kathryn, sit down. That’s an order.”

Kathryn felt a faint smile cross her face. “Aye, sir,” she answered, and sank gratefully into the chair Owen indicated.

“That’s more like it,” he muttered. He assessed her for a moment longer then moved to the replicator, returning with a hypospray which he held up for her approval before applying it to her neck. “Better?” he asked as she sighed in relief at the slight abatement of her migraine.

“A little. Thank you.”

“Then let’s get down to it.” He sat behind his desk and switched on his computer, swivelling the screen to face her. “You can speak freely in here, Katie. My security system sweeps for bugs continuously.”

Kathryn felt her eyebrows rise. “Paranoia, Owen?”

He grinned. “Occupational hazard.”

“All right.” She leaned forward. “Tell me about Chakotay’s mission.”

“What do you know?”

“Not much,” she admitted. “Most of it is unfounded suspicion, to be honest. But my instinct is telling me there’s some kind of conspiracy going on, and that it involves Premier Sina of Regulus and … and my husband.”

“Go on,” Paris encouraged her.

She eyed him. “An Orion at the conference on Ajilon warned me that the Syndicate is displeased with Ryan’s company,” she continued. “He suggested that Trans-Quadrant Express is muscling in on the Orion trade routes. But Ryan transports medical supplies to people in need.”

“Is that what he told you?” Owen asked mildly.

Kathryn flushed; now that she’d repeated Ryan’s claims aloud, her own naïveté seemed damningly obvious. “Tered – the Orion – also mentioned something about an investment on Trebus.”

Paris’ eyes sharpened and his shoulders tensed.

“I guess you didn’t know about that,” she muttered.

“Hold on.” Paris turned to his console. “Computer, display vessels currently in orbit of Trebus and navigating the surrounding region.”

Kathryn leaned in to squint at the screen. Zooming in on the Trebus system displayed – she counted quickly – seventeen vessels of varying configurations, mostly Trialan and Yridian, with a few she couldn’t readily identify.

“Tell me, Admiral,” she murmured, “doesn’t that seem like an awful lot of ships an awfully long way from home?”

“Yes,” Paris answered, “it does. And now that you mention it, a report came across my desk a few days ago regarding a new mining interest in that sector.”

“Does Chakotay know?” she asked. “If TQE and other independent traders are somehow involved in a mining operation on Trebus, Chakotay’s people won’t take kindly to it. They could be in danger.”

“I’ll look into it,” Paris promised. “Tell me what else you know.”

Kathryn thought for a moment. “Premier Sina thanked me for supporting his request for more Starfleet patrols in the Yaraka sector and around the Borderlands, but I did no such thing. Ryan asked me to push for stronger Starfleet presence in the region months ago. I refused. I told him I couldn’t use my position to further his political agenda.”

“I see.”

“But on my way home from Ajilon, I did some checking. Turns out it was Admiral Kjogo who ordered the troops to Yaraka.” Kathryn’s gaze sharpened on Paris’ face. “Now why would she be the one to do that, Owen? Kjogo is the head of Starfleet Communications. She has no business orchestrating fleet movements. That should fall to Admiral Ch’ura of Operations or Hayes at Strategic Command, or at the final hurdle, to Commander-in-Chief Shanthi.”

“I can guarantee you that Taela Shanthi did not issue that order,” Paris said flatly.

“Then what the hell is going on?” Kathryn demanded. “Why would Kjogo care how many ships we have patrolling the trade routes? I know her well enough by now to understand that she never does anything without a self-serving motive … so what’s she getting out of it?” She frowned. “And what does any of this have to do with Ryan?”

Owen regarded her. “Are you sure you want to know? Because if I tell you, you may find it difficult to trust your husband again.”

She couldn’t help the twist of her mouth. “Believe me, any illusions I may have held about Ryan’s integrity have already been tarnished. Now please, tell me everything you know.”

“All right,” answered Paris. “Have you ever heard of a group called the Entera Coalition?”

 

===0===


Chakotay had been forced to keep up his surly persona for the couple of hours he’d spent in Tuvok’s company, communicating with the Vulcan mostly in grunts and monosyllables until their time was up. But as he stood to leave, Tuvok extended his hand, and after a brief, confused glance at it – shaking hands was almost unheard of for Vulcans – Chakotay took it.

As he did so, he felt something small and hard press against his palm. A data chip, he realised, pocketing it surreptitiously before he offered Tuvok a cool nod and strode in the direction of Kash’s shuttle.

For a fraction of a second, he’d wondered if Tuvok really had switched sides. Ever since Jonah Miles had sauntered into his office and turned Chakotay’s world upside down, he’d grown ever more uncertain of whom to trust. The chip, though – the chip was obviously intelligence data, and Tuvok was clearly a double agent, just like Chakotay. Whatever was on the chip would prove it.

It was two days before Chakotay found an opportunity to inspect the data chip’s contents. He and Kash had been diverted to the Yaraka sector to inspect a pergium mine Entera had recently acquired. The Orions had laid claim to it; Tal’aura and Mekas suspected this was their opening salvo in the trade war they predicted, but they’d ordered Kash to try to smooth the troubled waters. Chakotay wasn’t sure if Entera preferred to avoid war altogether or were simply biding their time until they could be certain of victory.

En route to Yaraka, he closeted himself in the tiny ‘fresher at the rear of the shuttle and inserted the data chip into a padd he’d swiped when Kash wasn’t looking. He frowned, scrolling through files until he found a partitioned group of maps. When he studied them he realised they were movements for the Starfleet vessels assigned to the sector, spanning the previous four months.

A vessel manifest accompanied the map, listing the call sign of each ship. Of the twelve ships in the fleet, seven of them were flagged in red and a further four in green. Chakotay recognised the code as one Tuvok had used in tactical operations on Voyager; the red flags indicated ships that were controlled by enemy operatives, or at least had disloyal crew aboard, while the green were those Tuvok suspected but had not yet confirmed.

He wished he could say he was surprised, but the cold knot of dread in his stomach seemed to grow more leaden with each passing day. He’d suspected for some time that Entera were not playing around. Since his trip to the Celendi Nebula, and now with Tuvok’s intel, he had ample proof of it.

He couldn’t put off contacting Jonah Miles any longer. The stakes were far too high, and he couldn’t do this alone.

When Kash’s meeting with the Orion representative on Yaraka had concluded – with false smiles and falser promises for withdrawal, she noted – she and Chakotay headed for the nearest bar, where he waited for her to find a companion for the evening before slipping out through the rear doors. He walked briskly through the streets of the makeshift mining town until he was certain he wasn’t being followed, then stood in the lee of a squat building to pull out his holo-communicator.

~It’s about time, Captain,~ Jonah Miles greeted him. ~What do you have for me?~

“Plenty,” Chakotay retorted. As he forwarded Tuvok’s data to Miles, he listed the conspirators’ names he’d given Owen Paris two days earlier, but either Miles already knew most of them or he was a much better actor than Paris; the only name that made him raise an eyebrow was that of the Starfleet presidential liaison.

~Ube Mekas?~ he confirmed. ~You’re certain?~

“He’s the one who ordered me to vet their spy on the USS Zapata,” Chakotay fixed Miles with a stony glare, “who turned out to be someone I’d never believe is really working for Entera.”

~Ah, yes. Captain Tuvok.~

“You knew?” There was a dangerous undercurrent to Chakotay’s tone.

~Of course. I did tell you we’d approached other Voyager crewmembers to join our organisation, Captain. Tuvok has been working for Section 31 since recovering from his neurological condition.~

Chakotay tipped his head back against the wall behind him and swore under his breath. “You might have warned me,” he growled.

~I’m sure you coped admirably with the surprise.~ Miles cocked his head to the side. ~We can use this to our advantage. If Entera already suspects Tuvok of disloyalty, his usefulness at his current post has come to an end. You’ll report to Entera that he is, indeed, passing information covertly back to Starfleet. They’ll find a way to get rid of him and install you in command of the Zapata in his place. You’ll comply.~

“Get rid of him?” Chakotay repeated. “You mean kill him.”

~Don’t be so dramatic, Captain. There are less conspicuous ways to remove an untrustworthy agent than arranging an unfortunate accident. But if it makes you feel better, I’ll personally ensure that Captain Tuvok is simply reassigned, not neutralised.~

“You’d better.”

~Anything else you’d care to share with me?~

“No,” Chakotay said coldly. “But I do have some orders of my own.”

~For me?~ Miles looked amused. ~Go ahead.~

“There’s someone I want you to keep an eye on,” replied Chakotay. “You and I know that Ryan Austin is Entera, but his wife doesn’t. I have reason to believe she intends to end their marriage, and considering he married her for the political capital I doubt he’ll be overly accommodating of her wishes. So I’m trusting you to keep Kathryn Janeway safe, Mr Miles.”

~Perhaps you should have thought of that before you slept with her.~

Chakotay rocked backwards. “What did you just say?”

~If you want to keep Janeway safe, stay away from her. Austin is already suspicious of the pair of you. Do not do anything to attract his notice.~

“How the hell did you know?”

~Let’s just say we have an operative already in play who’s very close to Janeway.~ Miles gave him a wolfish smile. ~We’re watching every move the lovely admiral makes, so there’s no need to worry, Captain. Just concentrate on doing your job.~

 

===0===


Kathryn felt the blood draining from her face as Owen Paris talked.

“The Romulans are involved in this?” she managed finally. “And this organisation, this coalition – they have spies throughout Starfleet?”

“Almost as high as it gets, I’m afraid. And we don’t know how many are planted throughout the lower ranks.”

She swallowed hard. “You’re going to tell me Chakotay is posing as a double agent to penetrate Entera, aren’t you?”

Paris nodded.

Kathryn uttered a string of Klingon curses that made Paris’ eyes widen. “He told me he wasn’t in danger,” she said softly, before remembering herself and clamping her lips shut.

Too late. “When did he tell you that?” Owen asked sharply.

She felt her cheeks reddening and debated lying, but she was so tired of lies. “On Ajilon,” she admitted, facing the older man. “We bumped into each other at a bar. He said he was on a mission but the details were classified.”

Paris eyed her. “Sounds like you had quite the conversation.”

Kathryn blushed harder, but raised her chin defiantly and said nothing.

“In any case,” Owen relented, “now you know. There’s no mission more important than Chakotay’s right now. Entera is heading for a war with the Orions, and I don’t have to tell you how destabilising that would be for the Borderlands region and consequently the Federation’s supply lines. Chakotay’s intel could bring down this coalition before anyone else gets hurt.”

“Why can’t you stop the coalition now?” she demanded. “Surely you have enough proof of the conspiracy to expose them.”

Paris was shaking his head. “We know most of the high-level players, but we can’t be certain we’ve identified them all. And until we do, any move we make could be countered. That would put Captain Chakotay in mortal danger, as well as potentially triggering the war we’re trying to avoid. This is a delicate situation, Admiral.”

She closed her eyes momentarily. “What can I do to help?”

“You can go back to your life and pretend you don’t know a thing.”

Kathryn stared at him. “Like hell I will.”

“I’m not joking. If anyone develops even the slightest suspicion that you know about Entera or anything else I’ve told you tonight, our entire operation will be at risk. And you’ll be in danger too.” She opened her mouth to protest, and he held up a hand. “I’ll make it an order if I have to, Admiral.”

She shut her mouth. “Understood, sir,” she grated eventually.

“Good. Now, I think we’ve tried my wife’s patience for long enough, and I’m sure you’re hungry.” He stood, indicating the door. “Shall we go find out if dinner is served?”

 

===0===


Dinner was delicious – it always was when his mother cooked from scratch – but Tom Paris couldn’t help noticing that Kathryn Janeway barely picked at her meal. She didn’t drink much of her wine either, and her hand frequently strayed to rub at her temple, a familiar gesture that meant she was exhausted and her head was hurting.

Between main course and dessert they wandered out onto the terrace and Tom pulled her discreetly aside.

“Headache?” he murmured sympathetically.

Janeway’s mouth twisted. “What else is new?”

“You get them a lot?” Tom frowned. “I hope you’re planning to see Doc about them.”

She recoiled. “I’m fine, Commander.”

“Okay,” he said, surprised at her sharp reply. “I didn’t mean to pry.”

“No,” she relented, sighing, “I’m sorry, Tom. I’m just tired.”

“I’m not surprised. You want me to drive you home?”

“No need.” Janeway pulled a small device out of her pocket and showed it to him.

“You have a personal transport unit?” Tom whistled. “Nice.”

“Perks of the admiralty,” she said, flippant. “I can get home in the blink of an eye.”

Then a shadow crossed her face.

“Actually, Tom, would you mind if I borrowed a comm terminal? I need to … make some arrangements.”

“Sure.” He led her inside to the reading room and tapped on the console set into the wall. “You don’t need a secure channel, do you?”

“No, this is fine. Thank you.”

As he retreated from the room, he heard chirpy female voice on the other end of the comm saying, “Welcome to the Fairmont. How may I help you?”

And Janeway responded, “I’d like to book a room for tonight, please. And I have no idea how long I’ll be staying.”

Tom shut the door quietly and strode back out to the terrace, sidling up to his father.

“Hey, Dad,” he said, low-voiced. “You want to tell me what’s going on?”

 

===0===


“Computer,” she sighed, tossing her uniform jacket on the pristine hotel bed, “open a channel to Lieutenant Tora Jens.”

~Admiral?~ Despite having slept as little as Kathryn had on the trip back from Ajilon, Tora looked fresh and perfectly groomed. ~Are you all right?~

Kathryn pulled her hand away from massaging the knot at the back of her neck. “I’m fine. I just wanted to let you know where I am.”

~I know where you are, ma’am.~ Jens cleared her throat.

“Of course you do,” Kathryn muttered, then frowned as she took in Jens’ surroundings. “You’re at the office?”

~Yes, Admiral. I have reports to file on the Ajilon conference, and I need to prepare your schedule for the rest of the week. Admiral Kjogo is expecting you to brief her at 0900 tomorrow.~

“Fine. I’ll be in the office by eight.” Kathryn hated to ask her next question. “I don’t suppose you know where my husband is at the moment?”

~He’s at his office, ma’am.~ Tora’s face stayed composed. ~Would you like me to connect you?~

“I can manage that, thank you,” Kathryn said tartly.

~Admiral…~ Jens hesitated, ~if you don’t mind me asking, are you intending to return to your apartment?~

“I don’t believe that’s any of your business, Lieutenant.”

~No ma’am. I’m sorry.~ Tora paused. ~If there’s anything you need – from your apartment, I mean – I’d be happy to fetch it and bring it to you.~

“Thank you,” Kathryn sighed, softening. “There’s nothing I need at the moment. I’ll see you tomorrow, Tora.”

Cutting the channel, she pulled off the rest of her uniform and wandered into the bathroom. The luxurious, oval-shaped tub tempted her, but she suspected she’d be too agitated to enjoy it. A hot-water shower would do for now.

She stepped under the spray, closing her eyes as the water rained onto her face, and tried to order her thoughts.

Evil conspiracies, plans for war, shady dealings in the Trebus system … Kathryn rested her forehead against the tiled wall. This was almost worse than some of her adventures in the Delta quadrant.

And at least out there, she’d had her crew to back her up. She’d had Tuvok and Tom and Seven and B’Elanna. She’d had Chakotay.

Chakotay, whose life was in danger at this very moment, and for every moment he continued playing the role of traitor to the Federation.

Kathryn switched off the shower. “Sonic dry,” she ordered, and within moments she was slipping into a comfortable shift dress and pulling her now-dry hair into a ponytail. She dialled up an analgesic spray from the replicator, applied it to her neck and waited for it to ease her headache.

Chakotay was highly trained, not to mention a former Maquis. He could, as Owen Paris had pointed out, take care of himself.

But could she stay out of it, as Paris had ordered? Could she stand back and let Chakotay fend for himself when she might be able to help him?

Her mind wandered back to the Delta quadrant. The Baneans, the Mokra, the Borg … how many times had she or her crew resorted to subterfuge in order to survive? And Chakotay had been first to put himself in the line of fire, or to protect her and back her up when she insisted on taking point… the Hirogen, Species 8472, the Devore …

The Devore.

Kathryn’s eyes went wide. She strode to the replicator, ordered a whiskey and threw it back in one swallow.

The Devore. Kashyk. A seductive game of cat-and-mouse, in which there could be only one winner. And she’d won.

Could she do it again? Could she use the same tactic to defeat Ryan at his own game?

Chakotay’s parting words from Ajilon came back to her: I need you to promise you’ll stay away from him. He’s dangerous.

And she’d had every intention of keeping that promise. She’d been looking forward to expunging her twisted, treacherous husband from her life.

But that was before she found out everything she’d learned tonight.

“Computer,” Kathryn said slowly, seating herself in front of the comm terminal on the quaint little desk by the window, “open a channel to the office of Councillor Ryan Austin.”

She arranged her features in an expression of appropriately reserved regret, and a moment later Ryan’s handsome face appeared on screen.

~Kathryn,~ he ran a hand through his hair, shoulders slackening in apparent relief, ~I’ve been so worried. Where are you?~

“I’m staying in a hotel,” she answered. “I wasn’t sure if you’d still be at home.”

Ryan’s mouth tensed. ~I haven’t moved out. I was hoping it wouldn’t come to that.~

“I’m not ready to decide that yet, Ryan.” Kathryn made a show of biting her lip. “But we do need to talk.”

~Yeah, we do.~ He leaned in toward the screen, blue eyes earnest and fixed on hers. ~I miss you.~

She let her expression soften. “I miss you, too,” she murmured.

~Let me come over to your hotel,~ he suggested, encouraged. ~There’s a bar downstairs, right?~

She wondered if he already knew where she was staying; it wouldn’t have taken much effort to find out, not with his connections. Not with the tracking device she now knew Kjogo had planted on her.

”All right,” she conceded. “I’m at the Fairmont in Ghirardelli Square. Meet me in the lobby at 2300 hours and I’ll let you buy me a drink.”

It took everything she had, but she forced her voice into a soft, husky cadence toward the end of her invitation. Glancing up from under her lashes, she caught the briefest flash of satisfaction across his handsome features, and knew he’d been taken in.

It felt good to be the one doing the manipulating for a change. She let her lips curve upward into a tiny, enigmatic smile.

~I’ll be there,~ Ryan promised, his voice equally low and gravelly, and Kathryn cut the connection and slumped back in her chair, all traces of the skittish seductress draining from her.

You’ve done this before, she reminded herself as she massaged her temples. It’s nothing. You’ll have him wrapped around your finger in no time. Just like Kashyk.

She refused to pay attention to the little voice in her head that warned her that this was not at all the same thing.

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