The Bitter End
Summary: In the tenth year of their journey, Voyager is in bad shape, and so is her command team. A powerful enemy brings ever more desperate times, and with nowhere to run, an unthinkable sacrifice may be the only option for the crew’s survival.
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay, Seven of Nine, Tuvok, Paris, Torres, EMH, Kim, Ayala, S. Wildman, Celes
Codes: Janeway/Chakotay, Chakotay/Seven of Nine
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own Voyager, her crew, and the Star Trek universe. I own this idea and the words I used.
Notes: My take on what happened in the unaltered-Endgame timeline to turn Captain Janeway into the time-travelling Admiral.
Admiral Janeway: Unfortunately, our favourite cup took a bit of a beating along the way. It was damaged during a battle with the Fen Domar.
Captain Janeway: Who?
Admiral Janeway: You'll run into them in a few years.
Warning: Depictions of violence and (non-graphic) rape. Major character death (but if you've seen Endgame, it shouldn't be a surprise). Minor character deaths, too. This is very dark. You have been warned.
Stardate 58012.9 – January 5, 2381
“The ablative armour is holding,” Tuvok reported as another volley of fire from the Fen Domar ship impacted Voyager. “I have one phaser bank back online. The other has been destroyed.”
“Take out their weapons,” Janeway ordered.
After a moment, Tuvok shook his head. “Their armour is deflecting our fire. Our phasers can’t penetrate it.”
“No effect,” Tuvok reported.
Janeway gripped the arm of her chair. “Harry, do we have transporters yet?”
“No, ma’am. The targeting scanners are able to lock onto our people’s signals, but the emitters were damaged in that first strike and power flow to the reimaging systems is being disrupted. I could bypass the emitters, but it’ll take at least thirty minutes.”
“Get started. Can we use the cargo transporters?”
“They’re tied into the same emitter system.”
“What about the transporters on the shuttles?” Torres broke in. “I can take the Cochrane out –”
“I need you here. But it’s a good idea, B’Elanna. Tom, get to the Cochrane.” She waited for his nod, for Baytart to slip into his position at the helm, then opened a channel. “Janeway to Chakotay, what’s your position?”
~I’m thirty thousand kilometres from the Fen ship, using the moon as cover. I can get close enough to distract them if you can beam our people out...~
“We can’t,” Janeway cut him off. ”Transporters won’t be repaired for half an hour. I’m sending Lieutenant Paris out in the Cochrane. Voyager will run interference while the two of you beam our people onto your shuttles.”
~Understood. I’ll coordinate with Paris. Chakotay out.~
Janeway turned to her tactical officer, but whatever she’d intended to say died on her lips as she took in the sight of him. Sweat beaded the dark skin of his temples and he was hunched over his console, long hands gripping onto it.
She leapt from her chair, striding over to him. “What is it, Tuvok?” she asked, voice low.
“The Doctor advised me that a side-effect of my condition is increased and uncontrolled empathy and telepathy,” he managed through gritted teeth. “I believe I am perceiving the emotions of the away teams.”
Kathryn rested a hand on his shoulder. “Do you need to go to Sickbay?”
“No.” Tuvok’s jaw tightened. “They are in grave danger, Captain, and I will not leave my post while they need my help.”
She considered him, then nodded. “I’ll get the Doctor up here.”
“No,” he almost shouted, and Janeway’s hand froze in shock. “Please,” he continued, quieter. “The Doctor will be needed in Sickbay when our crewmates return.”
“Can you tell what’s happening to them?” she whispered.
“Not specifically.” Tuvok shook himself, straightening. “But I can tell you that Inheritor Alkin has no intention of letting them live.”
“Why are you doing this?” Samantha Wildman’s voice was thick with tears as she knelt beside the semi-conscious Celes.
“Your captain should have heeded my warning, little one.” Alkin looked unconcerned. “Sadly, all of you will suffer the consequences of her arrogance.”
He gestured to his guards to restrain the prisoners. Jenkins, Wildman and Gilmore were merely held by the arms, but Seven’s threat had been taken seriously; she was pushed to the back of the chamber and held at phaser-point alongside Ayala and the concussed Sofin. When she insisted on medical treatment for her injured crewmate, one of the guards shoved a balled-up wad of fabric in her mouth.
Alkin laughed at Seven’s narrowed eyes, then nodded to one of his soldiers. “Hail Voyager.”
The enormous viewscreen at the front of the Fen command centre switched to an image of Voyager’s bridge. Sam watched as Captain Janeway moved down from the tactical station to stand in front of her chair, her eyes hardening as she took in the sight of her captured crew.
~Inheritor,~ she said flatly. ~Return my people immediately.~
“You’re becoming predictable, Captain,” Alkin replied smoothly. “But I didn’t hail you for conversation.”
~Then what the hell do you want?~
“I want to show you what happens when my generosity is thrown back in my face. I want you to see your own fate for yourself.” He leaned in, elbow on knee, pointed canines bared. “I want you to watch.”
He leaned back, turned to the soldier at his left.
“Show her that one first,” he said, pointing to Tal Celes.
The guard nearest Celes gripped her by the hair, yanking her upright. Her knees buckled, a pained cry escaping her lips, and he held her steady with a hand under her arm.
~What have you done to her?~ Janeway’s voice was deadly quiet.
“I gave her to my troops,” Alkin answered with a casual flip of his hand. “I was pleased with their effortless capture of your people. She was their reward.”
He nodded at the soldier, who brought a blade out from the holster at his hip and held it to Celes’ throat.
~Stop.~ Janeway moved closer to the viewscreen. Wildman could see that her lips were trembling, her face paler than ever, but her voice remained steady. ~Let her go.~
“As you wish,” Alkin shrugged, and the soldier drew the blade across Tal’s throat.
“No,” Sam screamed as Celes’ blood gushed, her body jerking. A gurgle, a sigh, and she went limp. The soldier released his hold on her hair and she crashed to the deck.
Nina Jenkins yanked herself out of the grip of the Fen holding her and rushed to Tal’s body. “She’s dead,” she said starkly, turning to face Janeway on the viewscreen.
“As will you be, soon,” Alkin informed Jenkins. Another soldier grabbed her by the back of her uniform. She struggled, landing an elbow under his eye, a fist to his ribs, but he pinned her arms, immobilising her. A third Fen stepped forward, blade ready, and sliced her uniform from neck to waist.
~Stop this.~ Janeway was leaning over the helm now, nails digging into the back of Baytart’s chair, eyes grey and blazing. ~Let her go, Alkin, or I swear -~
Another flick of Alkin’s wrist, and someone muted the audio. Sam could see Janeway’s mouth moving, her fists clenching impotently as the captain realised what Alkin had done.
Alkin laughed. “That was becoming tiresome. Continue, Falit,” he ordered the soldier who’d cut open Nina’s uniform.
Falit tucked his knife away and yanked the torn cloth from Jenkins’ upper body. Samantha saw her shudder, her lips pressed together, and tried to jerk out of the wristlock her own guard held.
“Don’t worry,” the guard’s hot breath crawled over her neck, “your turn will come.”
The soldier behind Jenkins placed a hand at the back of her neck and pushed her to hands and knees. Dropping down behind her, he made fast work of her uniform pants as Falit pressed his hand down on her upper back, flattening her chest to the floor. She struggled, a whimper escaping her as she realised she couldn’t avoid what she knew was about to happen.
“Nina,” Sam whispered urgently. “Be somewhere else. This isn’t really happening. Do you understand?”
She saw Jenkins’ blonde head nod, shoulders tensing and relaxing as the pilot drew in a deep breath. But before she had the chance to centre herself, the Fen behind her pushed forward sharply, and Jenkins’ next breath was half-sob, half-scream.
“Oh God,” Wildman heard Gilmore moan quietly beside her. “I can’t do this. I don’t want this …”
The Fen finished quickly, slumping over Jenkins’ back, and Falit shoved him aside, beckoning over another guard. As he approached, Nina kicked out at him with a scream, catching him on the side of his knee. Enraged, the guard grabbed the hair at the back of her head and pulled her half-upright, his free hand curled into a fist as he rained blows on her exposed ribcage.
Sam heard the cracking of ribs, and swallowed against her rising nausea.
Eventually the guard grew tired, or bored, and flung her to the floor, aiming a couple of kicks at her kidneys. Nina curled up, trying to breathe slowly to ease the pain in her ribs. Samantha watched her tongue dart out to wet her lips.
“Is that … all you’ve got?” Jenkins rasped.
Alkin shouted with laughter. “Oh, I like her. I’d have her myself, if I wasn’t saving my favours for your lovely captain. Falit, get her up. She deserves to die on her feet.”
Falit hauled Jenkins upright, unsheathed his knife, and before the pilot could so much as widen her eyes, buried it to the hilt in her chest.
He pulled out the knife, and Jenkins sagged to the floor, lifeless.
“No,” whispered Gilmore.
Sam felt herself start to tremble. “It’s okay,” she murmured, half to herself, half to Marla. “We’ll be okay. Voyager will get us back. We just have to be brave –”
“Fuck being brave,” Gilmore’s panic was clear, her voice rising. “We’re all going to die –”
Her scream was cut off by the hand of her Fen guard clamping over her mouth.
“Inheritor,” the guard called. “I think this one wants to go next.”
Alkin inclined his head, and the guard kicked the back of Marla’s knee, sending her stumbling into Falit’s grasp. He locked his hands around her forehead and chin, gave an abrupt twist, and Gilmore’s head lolled sharply on her broken neck.
Wildman’s stomach clenched. Her gaze flew to the viewscreen, where Janeway had a hand to her mouth.
“Ah yes, your captain,” Alkin had followed her glance. “Shall we hear what she has to say?”
~Alkin,~ Janeway’s voice was husky, ~stop this. Please.~
“Bring that one,” Alkin ordered one of his men, nodding toward the rear of the chamber, and Brian Sofin was dragged up to the dais. “This one’s for you, Falit. I know you like your boys.”
Falit grinned as Sofin was shoved into his grasp, shouting and struggling. The engineer landed an elbow strike to the Fen’s temple and a knee to his ribs. With a yell, Falit wrenched open Sofin’s utility jumpsuit and fastened his teeth into the hollow above his collarbone. Horrified, Sam watched as Sofin’s struggles faded to twitches and his limbs hung limply, eyes rolled back in his head, breathing rapid and shallow.
“What did he do to him?” she whispered.
Alkin’s attention returned to her. He smiled even more widely than before, and Wildman noticed a pair of swollen protuberances above his canines.
“Venom sacs,” Alkin told her. “An amusing characteristic of our biology. Our venom acts as a paralytic on most humanoid species. I, of course, prefer not to resort to such cheap tricks, but Falit does enjoy immobilised prey.”
As though he’d been ordered, Falit let Sofin drop to the deck, rolling him to his stomach with the toe of his boot. His blade curved over the engineer’s back, slicing through the thick grey uniform. Shoving the knife back into his belt, Falit fumbled with his own pants, dropped to his knees behind Sofin and hiked up his hips.
Sam heard Sofin’s pained, muffled groan as Falit thrust into him.
The Inheritor grinned at the viewscreen. “Enjoying the show, Captain?”
“Cut the channel,” Janeway’s voice was a hoarse whisper.
The viewscreen returned to a display of the Fen ship’s exterior. The bridge was silent.
“Tuvok,” Janeway had to clear her throat before she could continue, “how much damage would our nanoprobe torpedoes do to that ship?”
Tuvok had regained a measure of equilibrium. “Those torpedoes are not fully tested, and the Fen armour is adaptable. I can’t say with any certainty.”
“I want their weapons disabled.” Janeway turned flat eyes to him. “I want our people back on board, and then I want that ship destroyed.”
Tuvok nodded. “Two nanoprobe torpedoes have been loaded. Firing.”
The captain turned to the viewscreen in time to watch fire bloom along the Fen ship’s hull.
The deck listed sharply to starboard, sending Sam’s guard stumbling. She wrenched out of his grasp, scrambling her way to Sofin. Falit had pulled out of him and was getting to his feet. Sofin was motionless on the deck. She checked his pulse.
Samantha heard a scuffle at the rear of the chamber, shouts, the thud of fists on flesh, but by the time she looked around, Seven and Ayala’s brief rebellion had been quelled.
“Status,” Inheritor Alkin barked. “And bring that Borg to me.”
“Weapons are down, Inheritor,” a soldier called from one of the bridge stations. “I don’t know how they did it. Their torpedoes shouldn’t have yielded that kind of power.”
“Get our weapons back online,” Alkin snarled.
Seven was shoved to face him, head held high. Alkin’s attention turned to her.
“You’re something of a troublemaker,” he observed. “I want you right here where I can see you.” He paused, cocking his head to the side. “Better yet…”
He rose from his chair, hand clasping around Seven’s slender throat, bringing her close. Yanking apart the collar of her utility uniform, he sank his canines into the skin below her neck. A brief whimper escaped Seven’s throat and she crumpled, only Alkin’s grip holding her upright.
“Incoming fire!” shouted a soldier, and Sam braced herself just in time. A series of deafening booms echoed across the cavernous chamber and the ship lurched and shook.
“Sire,” another soldier said, “the armour is offline.”
Alkin threw Seven of Nine away from him, not bothering to see where she landed. Her head struck the edge of the dais with a sickening crack and lolled at an awkward angle.
“Seven,” Sam heard Ayala yell, shoving aside his guard to reach Seven.
Sam rushed to their side. “Don’t touch her,” she warned, her gaze scanning Seven’s glazed, half-open eyes. There was a dark trail of blood meandering from her ear. “Seven, can you hear me?”
“Ensign,” came the faintest whisper. “Tell her –” She broke off on a moan.
“Don’t try to talk,” Sam urged her. “Your skull is fractured, and I think your spine might be as well. Just hold on.”
“No.” Seven’s pale, silver-latticed hand twitched against Wildman’s. “Tell her … I love her. And I … forgive her.”
“Who?” Sam asked, but Seven’s eyes had closed.
~Paris to Chakotay. Their weapons and armour are down, but they’ve activated shields. I’m going in for a strafing run, take out the shield emitters.~
A what? The thought passed fleetingly. “Acknowledged, Paris. I’ll cover you.”
~Just get our people. Paris out.~
“Aye, sir,” Chakotay muttered sarcastically, and took the Drake into a sharp roll, diving under the Fen ship’s bow. “Computer, scan for all human, Bolian and Bajoran life signs.”
~One Bolian and three human life signs detected.~
“Three humans?” Chakotay’s heart clutched. “Can you identify them?”
~Lieutenant Michael Ayala, Ensign Samantha Wildman, and Ensign Seven of Nine.~
No time for relief; no time for sorrow. The Cochrane was already making its swoop toward the shield emitters spaced along the Fen ship’s hull. Chakotay watched as orange phaser fire impacted on one, two, three, four. “Nice shooting, Paris,” he murmured.
~Paris to Chakotay. Their shields are down, but they’ve restored one phaser array. I’ll hold them off for you.~
“Trying to bank another life debt, Paris?” Chakotay wrenched the Drake into evasive manoeuvre alpha-five as phaser fire streaked toward him.
~Like you don’t owe me enough already,~ Paris drawled.
The Cochrane executed a perfect barrel roll, drawing the next bout of fire, and Chakotay punched the Drake to quarter-impulse, ducking under the ship’s belly. “Computer, lock onto the human and Bolian life signs and initiate immediate transport.”
He heard the musical tingle of materialisation and spared one brief glance to the rear of the shuttle. “Ayala, take weapons. Paris is making himself too easy a target.”
“Got it, boss.” Ayala swung into the seat beside him, immediately honing the shuttle’s phasers on the one functioning Fen array. A single burst, and the phaser turret disintegrated.
~Paris to Chakotay. Thanks.~
~You got them then?~
Chakotay hesitated. “I got the ones I could,” he answered finally.
~Understood.~ Paris’ voice was grim. ~See you back there, Commander.~
“Are you okay?” Chakotay glanced quickly to Ayala as he set a course for Voyager.
“I’m fine.” Ayala shook his head, mouth set in a firm line. “Boss, let me fly. Your wife needs you.”
Chakotay’s hands stilled on the console. “What?”
“Just get back there,” Ayala said quietly.
Stomach clenching, Chakotay forced himself out of his chair. Ayala slid into his place, Chell rushing to take the tactical station.
Seven lay awkwardly on the transporter pad, arms and legs sprawled, Sam Wildman crouched beside her with one hand curved carefully under her neck. “Chakotay,” she said softly as he approached. “Don’t move her. I think she has a spinal injury.”
He dropped to his knees beside her, taking one pale hand between his own. Seven’s eyes were closed, her breath fluttering between parted lips. The zip-front of her uniform had been torn and on the fair skin of her neck he could see a pair of neat, blackened puncture marks.
“Seven,” he said, voice hoarse and urgent. “Seven, can you hear me?”
Her eyes opened, barely a slit. “Cha-“ She swallowed dryly. “Chakotay –”
“Don’t talk,” he whispered. “We’re almost home. The Doctor will fix you up.”
The faintest of smiles curved her lips. “Liar,” she murmured.
“Just hold on.” He glanced frantically at Wildman. “How was she injured?”
“The Fen inject a paralytic into their victims through biting,” she said succinctly. “Alkin threw her to the deck. She couldn’t break her fall. She hit her head.”
“Commander,” Ayala called from the helm. “I’ve contacted Voyager. The captain ordered me to beam Seven to Sickbay.”
“Transport all three of us,” Chakotay ordered. He looked back down at his wife. Her eyes were closed again, her lips tinged blue. “Energise.”
“Hit them,” Janeway snapped. “Everything we’ve got, Tuvok.”
A barrage of torpedoes flew toward the crippled Fen ship, explosions blossoming along its hull.
“Their warp engines have been disabled. However, their core is protected by multiple layers of independent shielding. I can’t penetrate them.”
“Forget it. Are our shuttles on board?”
“The Cochrane has docked,” Kim answered. “The Drake is about to enter Shuttlebay Two.”
“As soon as they’re –”
She was cut off by the insistent beeping of Kim’s console.
“Captain, the Fen are hailing.”
Alkin was not smiling. ~Captain Janeway.~
~I congratulate you on your escape.~ He paused, dark eyes drilling into her across the viewscreen. ~Enjoy it while it lasts.~
The comm shut off.
“The Drake is onboard, Captain,” Harry said.
“Ensign Baytart, get us out of here.” Janeway waited for the pilot’s nod of confirmation, for the stars to streak on the viewscreen, then trudged back to her chair. “Damage report.”
Harry began the litany. “Hull breaches on decks eight and nine. Tractor beam, secondary power systems and three phaser arrays are offline. There’s damage to the sensor array –”
~Doctor to the bridge.~
Kim fell silent.
Janeway straightened in her seat, the weight of all eyes on her. “Go ahead.”
~Captain.~ The EMH’s voice was grave. ~Please report to Sickbay immediately.~
Seven. Her nails curled into the arms of her chair.
“I’m on my way.”
But it took all the will she had left to force her feet to carry her to the turbolift.
“Commander,” she heard the Doctor entreating as she entered Sickbay. “Please. I need access to my patient.”
“Report,” Janeway whispered.
“Captain.” The Doctor’s forehead was lined. “Seven’s nanoprobes are neutralising the paralytic venom, but her physical injuries are too severe.”
“Paralytic venom?” Kathryn didn’t recognise her own voice. She took two jerky steps toward Seven’s biobed and hovered several metres away, afraid to move closer. Chakotay was hunched over the opposite side of the bed, Seven’s hand clutched in his own. His gaze was fixed on her thin, colourless face.
“A quirk of Fen biology. They have the ability to inject their victims through a bite from their canines. Captain –” The Doctor paused, his dark, so-human eyes fixed on her face. “Her spinal cord has been severed, interrupting the electrical impulses to her cortical node. It’s failing. I’m sorry. There’s nothing I can do.”
She shook her head, slightly, as though refusing to let his words penetrate, and drifted closer to the bed.
“Seven,” she whispered.
Chakotay’s head rose. She couldn’t look at him.
Seven’s eyelashes fluttered slightly, and she drew in a short, shuddering breath. “Captain.”
The hand not held in her husband’s twitched, and Janeway reached for it without thinking. “I’m here, Seven.”
“I’m … sorry.” It cost her, Kathryn could see, but Seven’s eyes opened, enough for the captain to read the pain in them, and the regret.
“You have nothing to be sorry for.” Her own eyes were blurring, her throat constricting. She could feel Chakotay’s gaze on her. She didn’t want to see it. She didn’t want to see him. “Oh, Seven –”
Kathryn felt the faintest pressure on her hand, the one holding Seven’s, and blinked back her tears. Seven’s blue eyes were locked on hers.
“I never meant … to hurt you,” it was the barest breath, “either of you.” Her eyes slid closed. “I didn’t understand –”
An alarm shrilled on the bio-monitor, and the Doctor stepped quickly forward with a tricorder. After a moment he switched it off.
“I’m so sorry, Commander, Captain.”
Hot, aching tears stung her eyes, and she bit down hard on her lip, tasting blood.
“I warned you.”
Kathryn’s shoulders jerked at the sound of Chakotay’s cracked, brittle voice.
“I told you this would happen,” he whispered harshly. “I begged you to turn back. You wouldn’t listen.”
Over the body of the woman she’d loved like a daughter, Kathryn met the black, tormented, guilt-ridden gaze of the man she loved beyond all sense or reason, and wondered if she’d ever be able to face him, or her own reflection, again.