Nothing But Trouble
Summary: Three years after coming home, Voyager’s former command team want nothing to do with each other. She thinks he’s a cad and he thinks she’s nothing but trouble. But when Janeway disappears under mysterious circumstances, all the slave traders, fistfights and cagey admirals in the galaxy can’t stop Chakotay from going after her.
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay, Seven of Nine, Torres, Paris
Disclaimer: Somewhere, there’s a pretty snow-capped mountain that doesn’t care a whit about raining unholy legal hell on me.
Notes: Written for the VAMB Secret Summer 2016 exchange. My request was: “NC-17 J/C fic, preferably with a plot. I love thrillers and suspense. No wimpy J/C for me please. No-goes include wimpy J/C, baby fics, wedding fics”. Pretty sure that's right up my alley.
Warning: Some scenes contain non-consensual elements and could be disturbing.
III. The Days Without You
The diplomatic mission to Romulus had been successful. Significant steps had been taken toward a peace treaty, Chakotay had been presented with several bottles of Romulan ale by a grateful senator, and Voyager was now, thankfully, docked at McKinley Station. There would be debriefs, of course, but the majority of the crew was keen for some time off. And Chakotay, who’d had a lot of time to think along the journey, was impatient to make amends with a certain auburn-haired Admiral.
It had taken him most of the journey home to compose a message to her – he’d run through eight drafts before finally settling on a simple Kathryn, I’m sorry. I’d like to see you, if you’re willing. Could we meet? Chakotay. He sent it to her personal account as soon as he’d transported home, and hoped she’d see fit to reply soon.
When he’d still received no reply two weeks later, Chakotay went to visit B’Elanna. “Have you heard from Admiral Janeway?” he asked when they’d settled at the kitchen table with his sweetened coffee and her raktajino.
B’Elanna shook her head, keeping an eye on two-year-old Miral running riot in the playroom next door. “She usually gets in touch when Tom and I are on Earth, but she could be off on a mission. Try not to take her silence personally just yet, Chakotay.”
Miral came over and climbed onto Chakotay’s lap, wiping chocolatey fingers on his uniform. “More?” she asked hopefully, batting her long eyelashes at him.
“No more chocolate,” B’Elanna said firmly. “Honestly, Chakotay, the next time you decide to load my daughter up with sugar before lunchtime, I’m giving her to you for the afternoon.”
“Sorry,” he grinned, bouncing Miral on his knee. “Listen, do you think you could ask Owen if he knows where Kathryn is?”
B’Elanna shrugged and walked over to the comm terminal in the corner of the kitchen. “Good morning, Admiral,” she said when Owen Paris’ face appeared on screen.
~B’Elanna! How are you? How’s my gorgeous granddaughter? And I’ve told you before to call me Owen.~
“We’re all just fine, thank you. But, Admiral, this isn’t really a social call. I was wondering if you’ve heard from Admiral Janeway recently?”
~Come to think of it, I haven’t spoken to Katie for a couple of months now,~ Owen answered.
“Is that unusual?”
~Not particularly. Are you worried about something?~
“Well, it’s unusual for us not to have heard from her for that long – she doesn’t like to go too long without seeing Miral. And I’ve sent her a couple of messages that she hasn’t returned. Do you have any idea where she might be?”
~Let me ask around for you. I’ll get back to you shortly. Paris out.~
An hour later he called back. ~I’m sorry, B’Elanna, all I can find out is that she’s out of the system on a classified mission.~
“Do you know when she’s expected back?”
~No, but I’m sure she’s fine. Don’t worry.~
“Thanks, Owen. See you for dinner on Sunday. Torres out.” She turned to Chakotay when the comm screen went black. “Well, what do you think?”
“A classified mission Owen Paris doesn’t know about?” Chakotay raised his eyebrows. “Either Owen isn’t being completely forthcoming, or this mission is more than just classified.”
“You think she’s on a black op?”
“I think we need to do a little more digging.”
Ever since he’d decided to make it up to Kathryn for what he now saw as his appalling behaviour, Chakotay could hardly concentrate on anything else. Voyager was due for a sensor array upgrade, so Chakotay and his crew were on leave while the ship was under maintenance at Utopia Planetia for a couple of weeks. The others were making the most of their time off. Several of them had booked a group of cabins in the Caribbean. He’d been invited, but he couldn’t seem to bring himself to leave San Francisco; there was always the chance Kathryn would return from her mission and he didn’t want to miss seeing her. And in the meantime he had ready access to Starfleet Headquarters and all its resources. If he was going to chase down any promising leads on Kathryn’s whereabouts, it would be there.
But there seemed to be no leads, only brick walls. Chakotay shook his head in frustration as he left Admiral Baines’ office. Baines had been a last resort, really. He and Kathryn had worked together a year ago on a first-contact program with a new Gamma quadrant species whose culture bore similarities to that of the protocol-obsessed Tak-Tak. But Baines had no idea where she was.
He wandered aimlessly through the gardens, noticing that the rosebushes seemed to have shrunk a little since Boothby had retired. Kathryn had once told him Boothby brought her fresh roses every morning when she was a cadet. He crouched down and plucked a pale-yellow stem, lifting the bloom to his nose. It smelled like her. He was struck with a sudden sharp pang of regret. What if he’d completely blown it with her? What if she never spoke to him again?
“You know, the new gardener wouldn’t take kindly to you messing with her roses, son,” a reedy voice said beside him. Chakotay looked up.
“Admiral Patterson. How are you, sir?”
“Old,” Patterson replied cheerfully. “At least, according to the good Dr Crusher. I’ve just come from my yearly physical. I’ve been ordered to get more exercise.”
“I take it you’re starting with a turn around the gardens?”
Patterson grinned. “Not exactly, Captain. I’m here to talk to you.”
“Me?” Chakotay stood to face him.
“Walk with me,” the Admiral invited, turning onto one of the meandering pathways. Chakotay fell into step beside him.
“What can I do for you, Admiral?”
“It’s about Katie,” Patterson answered.
Chakotay’s steps faltered. “Is she -?”
“Oh no, she’s fine. Well, actually we’re not sure.”
Chakotay stopped. “I think you’d better explain.”
Patterson sighed, taking his elbow and leading him to a bench. “You know I’m with Starfleet Intelligence these days?” he asked as they sat. Chakotay nodded. “Well, we’ve been investigating a people-smuggling operation in the Sappora system –”
“The Syndicate?” Chakotay interrupted. He was starting to get a bad feeling about this.
“Yes. They’ve been abducting women and girls from all over the quadrant. Girls travelling alone, girls in precarious circumstances. We’ve had reports of seventeen young women disappearing in the past six months, and those are just the ones Starfleet knows about.”
“The Syndicate runs a holocomplex on New Sydney. Gaming, bars, nightclubs and the like. And, ah, personal entertainment.”
“Prostitution?” Chakotay’s bad feeling was fast becoming a sick ache in the pit of his stomach.
“In various forms. Mostly live dancers, but there are quite a few net-girls in one part of the complex. That’s where we suspect most of the abductees are being sent.”
“And what does this have to do with Admiral Janeway?” Chakotay asked, although he was pretty sure he already knew the answer.
“We’ve sent her in undercover to gather intel and relay it back to us so we can break up the operation and recover the kidnapped women.”
“Undercover?” Chakotay wiped a hand over his forehead. “You mean you sent her in to have mind-sex with strangers, maybe even do a little whoring. For the Orion Syndicate.” He wasn’t sure if he was trembling with fury or horror. “You know they’ll kill her if they find out who she is.”
Patterson, to his credit, looked shamefaced. “She knew the risks going in, Chakotay. She volunteered for this.”
“And now she’s missing,” Chakotay deduced.
“It’s been six weeks since she last checked in with her contact on New Sydney,” Patterson nodded. “We’ve become … concerned.”
Chakotay wanted to punch him. “Give me everything you know about this operation. And I want Kathryn’s last known movements and the name of her contact.”
Chakotay stood. “Because I’m going after her.”
Patterson smiled. “Somehow I thought you might say that. You’ll get what you need, Captain. But first there’s someone else you need to speak with.”
“And who might that be?”
“An old colleague of yours,” Patterson answered, getting to his feet as well. “She goes by Dr Annika Hansen these days, but I’m betting you still think of her as Seven of Nine.”
Seven of Nine.
This was one reunion Chakotay was not looking forward to.
He’d managed to avoid exchanging more than a few polite words at official functions with Seven since she’d dumped him three years earlier. It wasn’t that she’d broken his heart; he accepted that he was an idiot, but he wasn’t stupid enough to think that Seven had ever been the great love of his life. No, it was that he felt an uncomfortable, creeping sense of shame whenever he thought of her, and since B’Elanna had talked sense into him, he felt even worse over the way he’d treated her.
She was standing with her back to him, clad in a tailored skirt-suit, flax-coloured hair in an elegant twist. Chakotay cleared his throat. “Uh, hi, Seven.”
She turned. He was expecting coolness, or at the very least impassivity, but Seven was nothing if not surprising. “Chakotay,” she said warmly, and she closed the distance between them and hugged him.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” he said honestly, when she released him.
Seven’s mouth curled at one corner, and it reminded him so strongly of Kathryn that for a minute he felt weak. “You expected me to be angry with you?”
“Well, yes, I did.”
She shrugged one shoulder. “As Commander Paris might say, life is too short to hold a grudge. It’s good to see you, Captain.”
“You too,” he answered, surprising himself by meaning it. “So, what is it you’re supposed to show me?”
She beckoned him over to the table where she’d been working. “This is a dataport.” She picked up a small circular device and twisted it apart, holding up one of the segments. “This piece is implanted at the occipital bone. It enables an interface between the brain and a data source.” She raised the other segment. “This piece is a data crystal, which enables information to be stored and transmitted between a computer and the brain. A third component can also be used,” Seven continued, picking up another component from the table, “either to download information from a different source into the data crystal, or to enable the connection of two humanoid brains.”
Chakotay studied the three separate pieces. “What’s their relevance?”
“Dataports are commonly used for a number of purposes. Thieves use them, for example, to steal and transmit data. Net-girls use them to transmit sexual visualisations to clients, often in conjunction with a holographic simulation downloaded into the data crystal to enhance the realism of the chosen scenario. And the Borg have used them on occasion. I was fitted with one myself by the Borg Queen when I agreed to return to the Collective in exchange for Voyager’s freedom. In that instance, the implant enabled the Queen to hear my thoughts, and I hers, without requiring my full assimilation.”
“And now I understand why you’re involved in all of this.” Chakotay leaned a hip against the table. “I assume Kathryn will have been fitted with one of these?”
“The information supplied by her contact on New Sydney would indicate that the Admiral was successful in infiltrating the Orion Syndicate and is posing as a net-girl. So, yes, we expect she is fitted with a dataport.”
“Is it dangerous?”
“It’s a mind control device. They are rarely used for benign purposes. As a net-girl, Admiral Janeway’s activities would be limited to providing her clients with sexual imagery. However, should her true identity be discovered, the device can be used against her in various ways. An energy surge can be sent through the device, causing anything from temporary incapacitation to permanent brain damage, depending on the power level. The device can also be used to alter its wearer’s memories.”
Chakotay swallowed against the rise of nausea. “I have to get her out of there.”
Seven put down the dataport components and turned to face him. “I agree, Captain. And I’ll be coming with you.”
“It’s too dangerous.”
“Irrelevant. I am familiar with this technology. You are not. Without my assistance, your mission will fail.”
Chakotay raised an eyebrow. “You can take the girl out of the Borg …”
Seven offered him an un-Borg-like smirk. “Resistance is futile, Chakotay. And in this instance, Starfleet Intelligence agrees with me. When you leave for the Sappora system, I will be aboard your vessel.”
Chakotay conceded defeat. “Then we’d better get going.”
“I look forward to being on Voyager again.”
“Oh, we won’t be taking Voyager – she’s still in spacedock. But don’t worry. I know just the ship for this mission.”
“What the hell are you two doing here?”
Commanders Paris and Torres swivelled their chairs in unison to face their Captain, one from the helm, one from the engineering station. Tom was first to reply. “Come on, Chakotay, do you really think I’d let you pilot the Flyer? God only knows what you’d do to her.”
Chakotay turned his glare on her. “And just who’s looking after Miral?”
“Miral is with her grandparents. She’s fine. Stop looking for excuses to kick us off, Chakotay. Admiral Janeway is in trouble and we’re going with you to help her, and that’s final.” B’Elanna turned back to her station, then tossed over her shoulder, “Hi, Seven.”
“Commander.” Seven’s voice carried suppressed amusement. She slid behind the science station. Grumpily, Chakotay took Ops.
“All aboard?” Tom asked cheerfully. “All right then. Delta Flyer to McKinley Control, we are ready to depart.”
~You’re a go, Delta Flyer,~ replied the controller. ~Releasing docking clamps. Proceed at one-quarter impulse until you’ve cleared the solar system. Safe travels.~
Tom grinned, and B’Elanna reached over to punch him on the shoulder. “You heard what he said. Quarter impulse, Helmboy. Don’t be an idiot.”
He sent her a mock-wounded look. “Don’t I always play by the rules?”
“You don’t really want me to answer that. Just save the fancy flying for when we might actually need it, okay?”
“I am not certain Mr Paris’ brand of fancy flying is ever truly needed outside of one of his questionable holoprograms,” Seven chipped in.
“Hey,” protested Tom.
Despite the gravity of the mission, Chakotay couldn’t help smiling. “Just like old times,” he muttered, then turned back to studying Kathryn’s communiqués to Starfleet Intel.
“You have absolutely no idea where she is?” Chakotay wanted to reach through the comm screen and throttle the haughty Trill woman.
Yanas Tigan stared down her patrician nose at him. ~As I told you, Captain, Admiral Janeway’s last contact with me was seven weeks ago. She reported that she was working as a net-girl in the local holocomplex and had befriended a number of the other workers. She was gathering information and believed she was close to identifying the traffickers. That’s all I can tell you.~
“Are there any other net-bars on the planet?”
~Not to my knowledge. I suggest you try some of the other solar systems. This area of space is ruled by the Orion Syndicate.~ Tigan gave a small shrug. ~She could be anywhere. I’m sorry, Captain, but I risk my life and my company if I get any further involved. You’re on your own.~
The screen went black.
“Damn it!” Chakotay slapped the heel of his hand on the console, then drew in a slow breath. Throwing a tantrum wasn’t going to do Kathryn any good.
“Seven, start scanning for human lifesigns on any planet the sensors can reach. B’Elanna, monitor communications on all subspace channels. Tom, lay in a course, search pattern beta. I’ll contact Starfleet Intel.”
“Aye,” chorused three voices, and B’Elanna added, “We’ll find her, Chakotay. Whatever it takes.”