Summary: When Kashyk gives his lover what he thinks is a harmless trinket, there’s no way he could predict the wild ride it’s going to take them on. Fortunately for him, his lover is the indomitable Kathryn Janeway, who’s no stranger to being thrown across time and space … but the Mirror Universe presents her with challenges even she will struggle to meet.
Written for the @voyagermirrormarch fic event.
Characters: Janeway, Kashyk, Mirror Cornwell, Mirror Georgiou, Mirror Lorca, Mirror Pike, Mirror McCoy (AOS)
Codes: Janeway/Kashyk, Janeway/Mirror Lorca, Janeway/Mirror Cornwell, Janeway/Mirror McCoy (AOS), Janeway/Mirror Lorca/Mirror Pike, Janeway/Mirror Georgiou
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own the rights to the Star Trek universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.
Notes: We’re not in Kansas anymore. Or, obviously, the canon Voyager universe. Let’s just say this is one of many possible timelines that could have occurred as a result of one tiny change to Counterpoint.
Warning: Violence, rape/non-con, dubious consent and Threshold puns.
“It’s called a limina,” he explains, enjoying the way her eyes reflect the lavender glow of the device as she turns it over in curious fingers.
“As in a threshold?” she asks, and he inclines his head.
She sprawls, languid and barely-clad, across the rumpled sheets of his bed. The flush is just fading from her skin – the flush he put there – and her lips are still curved in that secret smile she wears when he has satisfied her thoroughly.
“The last time I crossed a threshold, I grew gills and procreated,” she mutters darkly. “What does it do?”
“Nothing, probably,” he shrugs. “I picked it up in a slave market on Stelio. A trinket; a curio. I thought it might amuse you.”
Kathryn is studying it with a frown. “I’m not so sure it’s just a trinket, Kashyk.” She holds it out for his inspection. “See this control panel? I’ve seen something like it once before.”
“Really?” He takes it from her, interested despite himself, and taps a random pattern on the device’s panel. “Where?”
“In a classified Starfleet security file,” she answers, promptly snatching it back. “And be careful.”
“Why?” Curiosity aroused now – he’s always some form of aroused around her – Kashyk makes a grab for it.
Kathryn jerks her hand out of his reach and dances away. “Because it’s dangerous.”
“You should know by now,” he leaps after her, long fingers grasping her wrist, “that danger excites me.”
He tightens his grip until she gasps in pain and drops the device, right into his other hand.
“Kashyk, don’t –”
But it’s too late: as he catches the little chevron-shaped curio, his fingers trigger the control sequence he has inadvertently entered. There’s a sizzle, a blue flash, and –
They’re standing in a field of colour and light, the foliage so bright that Kashyk squints and shields his eyes. He finds himself reaching for Kathryn’s arm, seeking contact. Not that he’d ever admit he needs it.
“Where are we?”
As his vision adjusts to the increased illumination, he reads trepidation in her eyes. “I have no idea,” she answers. “Do you have a tricorder?”
Kashyk feels for the place on his hip where he normally keeps his scanning device; it’s empty.
“Damn,” she mutters. Glancing around, she continues, “This looks like a hydroponics bay of some kind. See if you can spot an exit –”
Her voice cuts off in a gasp, and Kashyk, who’s been peering in the opposite direction, whips around. “What’s the m-”
His words, too, die.
Approaching them are three dark figures. They’re far enough away, and the light is so brilliant, that Kashyk can’t quite make them out. But he can see that they appear combative; two are clearly armed. It isn’t until they’re much closer – five metres or so away – that he hears Kathryn suck in a breath. She slips the limina discreetly into the pocket of her silk robe.
“They’re human,” she whispers.
The humans – she’s right, Kashyk realises – stop two metres from them, two men fanned out slightly behind a woman, weapons trained.
The woman in front is apparently unarmed, but that fact doesn’t seem to bother her. She’s decked out in black, the fabric cut close to her slender figure. There’s a gold breastplate buckled to her torso, criss-crossed with a geometric design. He glances at Kathryn and sees that she’s studying the armour.
“State your identity,” orders the woman in black and gold.
Kashyk opens his mouth and feels Kathryn’s hand slip into his, squeezing in warning.
“My name is Kathryn,” she says quickly before he can speak. “My friend and I came here by accident.” Smiling, she adds, “Where is here, exactly?”
One of the guards twitches. It’s a slight movement, but Kashyk’s eyes track to it. Quick as a striking snake, the woman snags a knife from her sleeve and twists at the waist, flinging it unerringly at the guard’s throat. He chokes, eyes popping; he staggers backward and sags at the knees, dying with a pained, polite gurgle.
It’s been years since Kashyk felt real fear. But, as the woman turns her pale-green eyes on him, his gut clenches unpleasantly.
He is a highly disciplined, experienced officer of the Devore military; he’s trained to withstand mental and physical torture to an exquisite degree. And yet he finds himself wondering if this woman – this human woman – might have inconceivable means of breaking him.
The woman’s green gaze slides across to Kathryn, who stands straight and, by all appearances, calm. Kashyk knows better; her fingers tremble ever so slightly in his clammy grip, and he felt her involuntary lurch toward the guard when he fell. She’s still so Starfleet, though she hasn't set foot on a Federation ship in over two years. The knowledge both annoys and delights him.
“To answer your question,” the woman addresses Kathryn, “you have the privilege to be guests aboard the ISS Charon, flagship of the Terran Empire. I am Inquisitor Katrina Cornwell, and you will come with me.” She pauses. “You may bring your pet.”
“Pet?” Kashyk can’t help blurting indignantly.
Cool eyes still fixed on Kathryn’s, the Inquisitor jerks her head and the still-living guard steps forward to wrap his meaty hand around Kashyk’s bicep. Kashyk’s first instinct is to curl his bare toes into the loamy ground, but the slight shake of Kathryn’s head quells him.
He allows the guard to escort him instead, meekly, like an ignot to the slaughter.
He hopes it isn’t an omen.
They step from what Kathryn had deemed a hydroponics bay into a dimly-lit, duranium-lined corridor. The transition is jarring, the deck chilly beneath Kashyk’s feet. Kathryn – always so sensitive to the cold – shifts closer to the warmth of his body as they move.
“Faster,” grunts the taciturn guard, nudging Kashyk in the back with his weapon.
After winding through increasingly opulent corridors they approach a set of double doors, ornately decorated in gold and bronze, which are flung wide, allowing the Inquisitor to pass through without breaking stride. Kashyk, Kathryn and their escort trail her somewhat less impressively.
The Inquisitor advances along an aisle formed by two ranks of soldiers, all dressed in black and gold as she is, though somewhat less elaborately, and halts several metres before a short flight of stairs atop which are arranged several more decorated guards and a dais surrounded by a half-circle of lights. To Kashyk’s surprise, the Inquisitor drops to one knee, head bowed, fist clenched to her chest. Behind them, he senses the guard doing the same.
“Emperor,” the Inquisitor says softly, “I’ve brought the intruders.”
It’s only then that Kashyk realises there is somebody inside the ring of lights on the dais. Somebody standing so still in the shadows that he hadn’t noticed her.
He notices her now, as she descends from her platform, sinuous as a snake, dressed entirely in black leather.
Where Inquisitor Cornwell was intimidating, this woman is downright terrifying. Kashyk has never wished more fervently for his Inspector’s uniform than in this moment.
Not least because its tight leather trousers and multiple buckles would be adept at hiding the erection he’s sure is quite visible in these flimsy lounge pants he’s wearing.
He covers his unease with lazy arrogance – it’s served him well in the past – drawling, “And you are?”
Her black eyes are ice, her voice the lash of a whip. “Kneel, slave!”
Kashyk gapes. “What did you call me?”
“Kashyk,” hisses Kathryn beside him, “I recommend you shut up and kneel,” and she drops to her own knees, tugging him down hard beside her.
It’s too late, though. There’s a whistle in the air, and suddenly Kashyk’s back is on fire, icy-hot agony lancing his spine from tailbone to crown. To his credit, he tightens his lips on the scream that wants to erupt.
“Please don’t,” Kathryn exclaims. “I apologise for my … companion’s … disrespect. He isn’t familiar with your – our protocols.”
The woman in leather turns her attention back to Kathryn. “Aren’t you familiar with them either, my dear?” she asks, voice milder. “You brought an alien onto my vessel without permission, you failed to bow to your Emperor … and what were you doing in our spore cultivation hangar?”
The pain subsiding, Kashyk glances to Kathryn in time to watch her eyes widen. “I … I apologise, Your Imperial Majesty. We came here by accident. It’s … difficult to explain.”
The Emperor bends close, her voice deceptively sweet. “Try,” she suggests.
Having almost been bested by it two years earlier – and tested by it every day since – Kashyk is familiar with the quicksilver workings of Kathryn’s mind. He watches from the corner of his eye as she answers the Emperor.
“I’m an explorer,” Kathryn begins, “from a planet so far away that it may as well not even be part of the Terran Empire. For five years, my crew and I were exploring far beyond the edges of known space.”
The Emperor’s chin tilts. “Intriguing,” she comments. “Carry on.”
Kathryn pauses momentarily, and Kashyk can almost feel her weighing truth and fiction, discarding as little of one as she can to spin a credible fable of the other.
“My ship trespassed into this alien’s territory. Kashyk could have ordered us destroyed – his vessel was far larger and more heavily armed – but instead he allowed us to pass. Unfortunately we were caught in an ion storm and our warp core overloaded. My escape pod was the only one that survived the blast. Kashyk took me aboard, and I’ve been living with him for the past two years.”
The Emperor recoils, and a murmur passes throughout the room.
“Horrifying,” mutters the Inquisitor from beside the dais.
“So long among aliens,” the Emperor agrees, pity dripping from her tone. “My poor dear. How fortunate you’ve managed to escape.” She strokes a leather-gloved finger along the line of Kathryn’s jaw. “Tell me, how did you escape?”
“With Kashyk’s help.” There’s not the faintest quiver in her voice. She’s confident, Kashyk intuits; she believes she has the measure of these people.
She’d better have, or he suspects they’re dead.
“For two years I have been his concubine,” Kathryn states to widespread, if understated revulsion, and from the creamy undertone to her voice, Kashyk suspects she has her reasons for playing this card. “I’ve had no choice – I wanted to survive. But he has developed feelings for me, and I’ve used that to my advantage.”
She turns to smile faintly at Kashyk, and he wonders, suddenly, just how much of this is an act.
“I convinced him that we should run away together,” she continues. “I had intended to kill him as soon as we reached Terran space, but we were pulled into a wormhole instead. Fortunately for me,” her smile turns venomous, “that wormhole brought us right to your doorstep, Your Imperial Majesty.”
Suddenly, Kashyk isn’t sure whether the Emperor is, in fact, the scariest woman in this room after all.
The Emperor motions for Kathryn to stand. Kashyk, whose knees are beginning to ache, glances up at the leather-clad monarch hopefully, but she ignores him, and the memory of that whiplash still smarts strongly enough that he doesn’t dare test her good will.
“You’ve suffered terribly, my dear,” the Emperor is saying soothingly, “but I can see you’ve borne it like a true Terran. Now your revenge is at hand, I have an agoniser booth that will be perfect for this scum. Captain Lorca! Take him to –”
“Wait,” Kathryn cuts in. “Please.”
The Emperor hisses. “My dear, you’ve been away for a while, but there is no excuse for interrupting your Emperor.”
Kathryn bows. “I apologise once again, Your Imperial Majesty. But if I might beg your indulgence for a moment longer?”
The dark head inclines a fraction.
“Thank you. You see, I’ve suffered this creature’s … attentions … for an unbearably long time, and I would enjoy the opportunity to exact my revenge on him at length. He’d make a tolerable slave – he’s quite strong, if not particularly clever – but he wouldn’t last long if he was damaged.”
She pauses, gauging the Emperor’s reaction; Kashyk, biting back ire at the insult to both his intelligence and his sexual prowess, has to admit that it seems favourable.
“Besides,” Kathryn goes on, “this alien was a ranking member of his species’ military. He is highly trained and able to withstand an almost Vulcan level of physical pain. Is there no other means you might use to torture him for his insolence?”
The Emperor looks thoughtful. “Intriguing,” she admits, then smiles. “And amusing. Yes, there is, my dear, and in fact it might kill two lizards with one rock.”
“I’m not sure I –”
“Silence,” snaps the Emperor, gripping Kathryn’s chin between leather-clad fingers. “You need a lesson in etiquette, and I need to be assured of your fealty. Lorca,” she raises her voice again.
A tall man appears silently at Kathryn’s side, and Kashyk feels her tense.
“This is Captain Gabriel Lorca, my right-hand man,” the Emperor addresses Kathryn silkily. “I have always trusted him with the Empire’s most sensitive missions, and I do believe this qualifies.”
She turns to Lorca.
“Are you ready to serve your Emperor, Gabriel?”
“In all things, always, Your Imperial Majesty,” he drawls.
“Have your men restrain the alien.”
At Lorca’s nod, two guards grasp Kashyk by the upper arms and drag him to his feet, immobilising him. He tests their grip and, finding it solid, can’t quite refrain from glaring at the Emperor. But she is too busy smiling hotly at Kathryn to notice.
“Now, my dear,” the Emperor orders her, “take off your clothes.”