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.
You’re the only one who comes when I call
You're the only one who comes when I'm lonely for you
When I'm lonely for you …
All that I need is
– Dean Lewis, Need You Now
Chapter Four: Imperium Ludum
Chakotay had made several more attempts to contact Kathryn since he’d seen the news images of her on Tau Ceti Prime. But when he still hadn’t heard from her almost two months later, he told himself to accept the fact that she didn’t want him in her life.
It was fortunate that he was so busy he barely had time to eat or sleep, let alone brood.
His undercover team consisted of Ensign Kelar, a Vulcan communications expert, and Lieutenant Tilly Davis, a Nova Squadron pilot who’d graduated from the same Advanced Tactics course Chakotay used to teach. The two team members had hitched a ride to Midrian, where Davis had purchased a shuttle and posed as a small-time goods courier, picking up small trade runs through the Borderlands in the hope of attracting attention from the wrong kind of people.
By the end of August, Chakotay had received word that Davis had managed to scan the Celendi Nebula and locate a small space station in orbit of a Class H planet, deep inside the gas cloud. For such a remote and inaccessible location, that spaceport saw a lot of traffic.
Chakotay was studying the sensor logs Kelar had relayed back from Davis’ shuttle when he glanced up to find an unfamiliar man in civilian wear leaning in his office doorway. Startled, he almost dropped his cup of tea.
“How did you get in here?”
The man offered him a smile; Chakotay doubted its sincerity. “Hello, Captain Chakotay. It’s nice to make your acquaintance at last.”
Chakotay got to his feet. “Who are you?”
“My name is Jonah Miles.” The man uncoiled himself from the doorframe and walked toward him, hand held out in greeting. “I let myself in. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Actually, I do.” Chakotay ignored the outstretched hand, sizing the man up. He was somewhat unassuming; slight, several centimetres shorter than Chakotay, with mid-brown hair and hazel eyes. “This is a secure building. I’ll need to see your Starfleet identification and confirm your security clearance.”
The man laughed a little. “I’m not with Starfleet, Captain, and you can only dream of a security clearance as high as mine. Perhaps we should sit down so I can explain why I’m here.”
“I don’t think so,” Chakotay answered evenly, reaching for the comm key on his console. “I’ll have to contact Starfleet Security and have you taken into custody.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Jonah Miles’ voice remained pleasant. “Touch that console and I’m afraid I’ll have to break your arm.”
Chakotay sent him a disbelieving stare and tapped the key. “Chakotay to Security. Send a team to –”
He never finished his sentence. Jonah Miles moved so fast he was a blur, and the next thing Chakotay knew he was on his knees, left arm twisted behind his back, Miles’ foot on his neck. Miles gave his arm a slight push and Chakotay wheezed in pain.
“Ready to listen, Mr Chakotay?” Miles asked amiably.
“What the hell do you want?” he gritted out.
Miles eased up on the pressure. “I want to talk to you. I have no intention of doing you harm. I simply have a proposal that I think you might find interesting.” He paused. “If I let you up, will you hear me out?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“Not really,” Miles said pleasantly. He released his grip and Chakotay straightened up, rubbing his aching shoulder. “Take a seat.”
Grudgingly, Chakotay hauled himself to his feet and dropped into his desk chair. Miles seated himself neatly opposite.
“All right, you’ve got my attention. Now tell me what you want.”
“I want to help you, Captain. Your tactics are sound, but your team out there in the Borderlands is going to fail because you don’t have nearly enough information.”
Chakotay went still. “How the hell do you know about that? It’s classified –”
“I told you,” Miles interrupted, “I have a very high clearance. Now, if you’ll permit me to continue?”
Chakotay gave a short nod.
“Your investigation of the Fermola miners will lead nowhere, because those insurgents have either been disposed of or absorbed into a much larger and more powerful organisation. We know it as the Entera Coalition.”
“I’ll get to that. We believe whoever is behind Entera intends to control not only the interstellar trade routes, but the politics of Cardassia, Qo’noS, Romulus and Earth. A lofty goal, you might say, but an attainable one if you have influence over the right people. If you control the flow of supplies you control the economics, and therefore the politics.”
Chakotay shook his head in disbelief. “And you think this is all down to a single megalomaniac?”
“Don’t be naïve, Captain. It’s not called a coalition for nothing – this alliance is made up of a number of very powerful people with equally powerful friends.”
“Why are you telling me all this? What do you want?”
“We have information and resources that Starfleet doesn’t, and we’re prepared to share them with you to progress your investigation. We can work from behind the scenes, but recruiting you would lend us a certain … respectability, shall we say? Your current position and your background make you the ideal person for this mission.”
“Recruiting me?” Chakotay watched him evenly. “I think it’s time you told me who you are.”
“Very well.” Miles hooked one leg over the opposite knee. “I represent an autonomous agency with broad-ranging intelligence and defensive authority. We investigate, and deal with, threats to the integrity and security of the Federation.”
“An autonomous agency?” Chakotay leaned forward. “You’re describing the functions delegated to Starfleet Intelligence, Mr Miles. How, exactly, does your agency – whoever you are – deal with threats to Federation security?”
“In whichever manner is most expedient, Captain. We aren’t bound by the regulations and protocols laid out in the Federation Charter, though it does contain provision for the agency I represent. However, the agency’s origins are unimportant. What’s of interest here is how we can help you.”
“You’re serious,” Chakotay said slowly, studying him. “You’re talking about an organisation that goes beyond black ops and into the realm of the Obsidian Order, Mr Miles. I can’t believe Starfleet would allow such an agency to exist.”
Jonah Miles smiled at him. “Officially, Starfleet doesn’t know about us, because officially we don’t exist. In reality we have quite a number of Starfleet officers in our ranks, as well as many talented civilians. We’ve been observing you, and several others from Voyager’s crew, for some time, in fact, with the intention of recruiting you.”
“And you selected me because of my current post?”
“Have you attempted to coerce anyone else from Voyager into joining your secret police?”
“There’s no need for aggression, Captain. We’re on your side.”
“Just answer the question.”
“I’m afraid I can’t – for your own protection, and that of the agency.”
“I see.” Chakotay folded his arms. “Well, Mr Miles, I have no intention of joining your agency, so here’s a proposal for you. You tell me everything you know about the Entera Coalition and your little secret organisation, and I’ll consider not handing you over to Security.”
“Really, Captain, I’d hoped for a little less obstinacy from a former Maquis. You won’t have anything to hand over to Starfleet Security, because the moment I leave this office you’ll discover that there’s no evidence I was ever here. So could we dispense with the posturing and get down to business?”
“Okay, I’ll bite. What do you want?”
“We want you to infiltrate Entera.”
“I already have a covert team on that mission. As you well know.”
“And as I’ve just explained, your team is blundering in the dark. You, however, can forge the proper connections with our help. You’ll start by appearing to investigate Entera through your official position with Intelligence. As time goes on, you’ll begin to see the appeal of joining the Coalition – power, wealth, influence – and you’ll perform whatever tasks they assign to you in order to work your way through the echelons. You’ll have to retain your post, of course, and feed just enough information back to Starfleet to satisfy your superiors that you’re doing your job, as well as sharing intelligence data with Entera to assuage their suspicions of you. Meanwhile, you’ll keep me fully informed. At such time as my agency decides we have enough information to shut Entera down, you’ll be excused from our service.”
“Shut Entera down,” Chakotay repeated. “You mean, you’re going to find out whoever’s behind it and assassinate them.”
Miles inclined his head. “If need be.”
“And why would I get involved in this?”
“Because if you don’t, Captain, people you care about are going to die.”
Kathryn Janeway stormed into her office suite and came to an abrupt standstill at her aide’s desk. “Lieutenant Jens, my office. Now.”
Tora Jens rose from her seat, standing at ease just inside the door as Kathryn paced before her.
“I’ve just come from seeing Admiral Kjogo,” Kathryn grated, steel glaring into Jens’ blue eyes. “Imagine my surprise when she informed me that you’ve been intercepting messages from my crew.”
Jens lowered her eyelashes. “I was under orders, ma’am.”
“Oh, I’m aware of that, and it’s the only reason I’m not kicking you out on your ass this minute.” Kathryn folded her arms. “But from now on, you either work for me or you don’t. If you choose to stay, you keep nothing from me. If you can’t do that I’ll find myself a new aide. Do you understand?”
“Good. I want to see every communication you’ve received from every member of my crew since you started working in this office. Now.”
“I’ll send them to your console immediately.”
Jens turned to leave, then swivelled back to face Kathryn. Her lips were pressed together and she was visibly agitated.
“What is it?” Kathryn demanded.
“Intercepting your messages was wrong, and I’m sorry,” Tora rushed in. “But I think Admiral Kjogo had your best interests at heart. She told me she was concerned for your personal security.”
Kathryn’s eyebrows rose. “So she asked you to protect me from what? My former crewmates? The ones I’d served with for the past seven years and trust with my life?”
“When you put it like that, it sounds questionable,” Jens mumbled. She cleared her throat. “But Admiral, I do agree that you need to be kept safe, and sometimes –”
“Sometimes … what?” Kathryn’s voice had taken on a dangerous edge.
Tora straightened. “Sometimes you take risks with your own safety,” she answered. “For example, what do you know about Mr Austin? Have you had him vetted? Because I’d be happy to arrange –”
“Stop right there, Lieutenant.”
Wisely, Jens shut up. Kathryn faced away from her, struggling with her temper, before turning back to address her aide in a tone that could have stripped duranium.
“Let’s get one thing straight,” Kathryn ground out. “My personal life and the people I choose to spend time with are none of your concern, and they are certainly none of Admiral Kjogo’s. All I need to know about Mr Austin is what he chooses to share with me. And all you need to know about him, Lieutenant, is that my relationship with him is none of your business. Do you understand me?”
Tora swallowed visibly. “Yes ma’am. I understand.”
“In that case,” Kathryn jerked her head at the door, “dismissed.”
Alone, she lowered herself onto her desk chair and rubbed her temples, deliberately tamping down the fury that had been building ever since Kjogo’s incredible revelation. Her console chirruped and she scanned the list of messages Jens had kept from her over the past several months. Unsurprisingly, they’d petered out as time passed. She wondered how many of her former crew now thought her a social climber who had no time for the people who’d once been her family.
“Computer, filter messages by sender and display only those from Commander – I mean, Captain Chakotay.”
11 messages from sender Captain Chakotay, the computer displayed.
The most recent one was from a couple of weeks ago. With a trepidation she couldn’t quite reconcile, Kathryn pressed ‘play’.
She sucked in a breath as his once-so-familiar face lit up the screen. He’d let the grey come back in at his temples and his face was leaner, his shoulders bulkier in the uniform; clearly, he’d taken care to get himself into his best shape since their return. The dark circles were long gone from under his eyes and his skin glowed with health. He looked so good it made her heart ache.
I know how busy you must be, Chakotay continued onscreen. And I guess I’m a bit slow on the uptake, but it’s pretty clear you prefer to leave our friendship back on Voyager. So I won’t contact you again, Kathryn. But I want you to know that if you ever need me for anything, all you have to do is call.
He glanced down, tugging his ear, then up again with a small smile. I hope you’ll call. I miss you. He hesitated, then placed his hand on the screen, fingers slightly curled as though she could twine her own into them. Goodbye, Kathryn.
Just as she reached out to touch the screen, his image faded to black.
“Computer, open a comm channel to Captain –” she began, but the computer interrupted her.
Incoming call for Admiral Kathryn Janeway.
“Who’s the caller?”
“Damn it,” she swore involuntarily, refusing to analyse her disappointment. “On screen.”
Ryan’s handsome face beamed at her from the small monitor. ~Kathryn. How are you?~
“Hi.” She couldn’t help smiling back at him, blushing as she remembered last night’s incredible kiss.
~Are you busy tonight?~
She blinked. “You don’t waste time. Let me check…” she glanced quickly at her schedule, then shook her head. “Looks like I’m free. What did you have in mind?”
~Well, I don’t know if it’s your scene, but I have theatre tickets for the premiere of Golden Shadows tonight. Have you heard of it? It’s by a new Andorian playwright who’s been winning awards all over the place.~
“I haven’t seen a play in years,” Kathryn admitted. “I’d love to go with you.”
~I was hoping you’d say that. I’ll pick you up at eight. Wear something stunning.~ Ryan’s eyes grew warm. ~And maybe afterwards we could go to this little bar I know. They make the best cocktails in San Francisco.~
“I can’t wait,” Kathryn answered, and Ryan grinned at her as he signed off.
She eased back in her chair, allowing herself to daydream for a moment about tall, attractive near-strangers and heated kisses. About the novelty and excitement of being courted; the pleasure of getting to know somebody new.
Then she thought about Chakotay, and about untangling the complicated threads of a friendship so infused with shared history and unspoken feeling. About pretending she felt nothing more than friendship for him, while enduring the torment of having her heart ripped freshly open every time she saw him.
She wasn’t sure she had the strength to do it anymore; not with her life the way it was now. She needed all her emotional fortitude just to deal with the crazy hours and the politics and the isolation, not to mention Admiral Kjogo. And though it physically hurt, deep in the pit of her stomach, to contemplate her life without Chakotay in it, she wondered if a clean break wouldn’t be kindest in the long run.
After all, she couldn’t rely on him twenty-four-seven anymore. He had other commitments.
Swallowing hard, Kathryn ordered the computer to delete Chakotay’s unread, unanswered messages.
“Computer, open a secure line to Sekaya of Trebus. Encrypt communications.”
It took a few minutes before his screen flickered to life and Chakotay’s sister was grinning at him, hair tangled, a chubby baby sleeping in her arms.
~Hello there, big brother.~
“Sekaya,” he said, relieved. “It’s good to see you well.”
~And you too. How’s Seven?~
“She’s fine. Busy working on a new starship. Listen, Sekky, I need to talk to you. Are you alone?”
~Yes, except for Shiye here, but he doesn’t talk much.~
Chakotay laughed. “He’s grown so much since Seven and I visited.”
~Babies do. What is it you need to talk about, Amal?~
“I was wondering if you’d had an influx of new settlers recently.”
Sekaya grimaced. ~How did you know? A group of Trialans and Regulans came two months ago to scout the northern continent. According to Nata they’ve found a dilithium mine, but you know how trustworthy she is.~
“In this case, she may be telling the truth. Sekaya, I want you to stay clear of those miners. I doubt they have Trebus’ best interests at heart.”
~What are you not telling me, brother?~ Sekaya narrowed her eyes at him.
“I can’t tell you much,” Chakotay said reluctantly. “But there’s a new trade empire based in the Borderlands and their intentions are dubious. I have it on good authority that the miners from the Borderlands worlds might be intending to use Trebus as a secondary base of operations to extend their influence into the Cardassian Union.”
‘Good authority’ might be stretching it a bit, he conceded silently. He didn’t trust Jonah Miles as far as he could throw him.
Sekaya looked alarmed. ~They told the elders they only planned to stay for a few months, and asked permission to conduct scouting surveys. If they really have found a pure source of dilithium they’ll never leave Trebus.~
“And they’ll do whatever they can to force our people off the planet,” Chakotay agreed grimly.
Sekaya swore under her breath. ~If it’s not the spoonheads or the ‘fleeters, it’s the merchants. Why can’t they all just leave us be?~
“I’ll have a Starfleet patrol sent out,” Chakotay promised. “And call me immediately the moment you get a whiff of any kind of trouble.”
~I will. I’ll let the elders know what’s going on, as well.~
“Take care of yourself, sister.”
~And you,~ Sekaya said softly, signing off.
Chakotay leaned back in his chair.
So Jonah Miles had told the truth about what was happening on Trebus, at least. He still didn’t trust the man, but Miles had certainly known which buttons to push.
He tapped his console and entered the complex code Miles had provided to him.
~Captain,~ Miles greeted him when the comm channel opened. ~Can I assume you’re calling to accept our offer?~
“Against my better judgement, yes,” Chakotay said shortly. “Just tell me what you want me to do.”
“Wow,” Ryan said as Kathryn opened her apartment door. “Wow.”
She couldn’t stop the smirk twisting her lips. “Okay, I was going for stunning, like you asked, but wow will do nicely.”
“I actually think I’ve run out of superlatives,” he answered as she shrugged a wrap on over the ‘wow’ dress. It was creamy and silky and softly-draped and it made her feel incredible, and she was perhaps overly pleased that it had had the desired effect on her date. She slipped her hand through the crook of Ryan’s arm as he led her to the waiting hovercab.
Bulbs flashed as they emerged at the theatre. Kathryn’s first instinct was to duck and run, but remembering Kjogo’s admonishment, she straightened instead, smiling for the cameras as Ryan ushered her inside. “Sorry about that,” she murmured when they were seated in their private box. “I should’ve guessed there would be paparazzi here on opening night.”
“Don’t worry about it,” he said easily. “I made sure they got my good side.”
The lights dimmed and the play began, and it was utterly terrible except for Ryan’s sarcastically muttered asides, which kept her grinning until the curtain fell.
“Do you feel like a drink?” Ryan looped her hand through his arm as they left the theatre, leaning in close. “That bar I mentioned earlier is only a couple of blocks from here.”
“So is my place,” Kathryn found herself saying. “Why don’t you come over for a nightcap instead?”
His slow smile sparked a warmth low in her belly, strange and familiar all at once, and for a moment she faltered. She knew what would happen if she invited him up to her apartment. Was that what she wanted?
Yes, she decided immediately, defiantly. Yes, it is.
So she wound her fingers into his as they walked the short distance to her building, and when they stepped inside she didn’t move to the drinks cabinet, but rose up on tiptoe to kiss him instead.
God, she thought deliriously as every nerve sparked and came alive. If this is what it’s like to kiss him, how am I going to survive what happens next?
Then Ryan’s hands coiled into her hair as his lips moved along her throat, and she stopped thinking.
Jonah Miles had suggested that Chakotay’s first step toward infiltrating the Entera Coalition should be to make himself known to them.
Midrian, the same planet on the outskirts of the Borderlands where his trainees had begun their own undercover mission, hosted a busy spaceport where Ensign Kelar had scanned dozens of ships that, he had reported to Chakotay, he suspected of running illegal cargo to the Cardassian Union. Nothing he could prove – just some unusual sensor readings, and the fact that those ships always followed the routes Starfleet had no authority to patrol – but it seemed clear that the Midrian government was turning a blind eye.
A stop-and-search operation was out of the question, but given what Miles had told Chakotay about the suspected breadth of Entera – information which Chakotay had passed up the line – the sensor data couldn’t be ignored. So Chakotay informed Admiral Paris that he felt Kelar and Lieutenant Davis needed on-site backup, and that he’d be travelling to the Borderlands under the guise of an official meeting with a counterpart from Klingon Imperial Intelligence. He wasn’t sure the cluey old admiral believed him, but Paris had shrugged and said “It’s your mission.”
It wasn’t until he’d finished packing and was back at HQ, ready to beam to the shuttle he’d been assigned, that he realised with an unpleasant jolt he hadn’t informed his girlfriend of his plans.
Shamefaced, he stepped off the transporter pad and headed for Seven’s office across the gardens.
“… increase power to the imaging relays?” he could hear as he approached the doorway, which stood open onto the corridor.
“Unlikely,” Seven’s cool voice replied. “I believe we’ve maximised the sensor resolution, Lieutenant.”
“Harry,” the other voice corrected with exaggerated patience. “C’mon, Seven, how many years have we known each other? I keep telling you it’s okay for you to call me by name instead of rank.”
Chakotay stopped at the doorway, watching Seven shift on her feet. The pair of them stood at a console before the enormous screen in the lab, their backs to the door. He was about to enter, call out a greeting, but something about their body language made him pause and watch them closely.
“We’re working,” Seven was saying. “Your rank is more appropriate.”
He watched as Harry Kim nudged her gently and leaned down to whisper in her ear, “I won’t tell if you don’t.”
And Seven blushed – blushed – and lowered her eyelashes. “If you insist,” she murmured, “Harry.”
“That’s better,” Harry grinned. His hand clasped her shoulder briefly then dropped to his side as he turned back to the viewscreen. Seven remained with her body twisted toward him. Her expression was soft.
Then she returned her attention to her console, and Chakotay stepped silently away from the door.
He’d leave her a message instead, he decided.
As much as Kathryn secretly longed to defy Admiral Kjogo in any small way she could, she couldn’t help but notice that her life became so much easier when she fell into line.
Kjogo strongly approved of her dating Ryan Austin, and especially of the positive press the two of them received whenever they appeared together. In response, she’d allowed Kathryn to excuse herself from many of the tedious diplomatic functions Kjogo had previously insisted she attend, and had increased the work she sent Kathryn’s way – work that Kathryn actually felt had value and importance. She’d spent the past week immersed in working up a new treaty between the Federation and the Midrian government and was booked on a tour of their dilithium mining facilities the following week.
It was ironic, Kathryn mused, that just as she found something interesting to do with her working days, her personal life had taken such an exhilarating turn. In fact the only thing troubling her was the stress-headaches that had become annoyingly frequent of late.
Fortunately, she’d found an excellent cure for them.
Stretching luxuriantly, she felt her skin rub against the warm, solid male body in bed beside her, and Ryan’s eyes cracked half-open as his hand wandered over to stroke her ribcage. “Morning,” he murmured sleepily.
“Morning,” she replied, voice husky.
His eyes opened further as his hand started to move with purpose, stroking the underside of her breast. She caught the gleam in his eye as he watched her nipple pucker and tighten and trailed the tips of his fingers over it, making her catch her breath.
“I have a meeting this morning,” she reminded him.
“So be late,” he said softly, rising up over her, trapping her with arms either side of her head.
“I can’t –”
He cut her off with a dip of his head and a slow swipe of his tongue over her nipple. Her back arched and she tried to stifle a moan.
“They’ll wait for you,” he assured her, planting a trail of nips and kisses over her collarbone and along her throat as she tilted her head to encourage him.
“I suppose they will,” she found herself saying, and she spread her thighs under him, curling her ankles around his back.
Ryan grinned, taking her earlobe between his teeth. “That’s my girl.”
“Hey,” she managed, not quite outraged.
“What?” He smirked down at her, moving his hips against her in a way that made her lower body turn to liquid. “You are my girl, aren’t you?”
“That’s a very old-fashioned and sexist –”
He kissed her, cutting her off again, and for a moment she thought about pushing him off her. But then his fingers were reaching down and sliding deliciously inside her, and all thought fled as he played her body with a skill she found herself completely unable to resist.