Lines in the Sand: Night, part I

By  Seema

Characters and places belong to Paramount. No infringement or profit intended.

Thanks to Maud for the information, Monica for the edits & encouragement and the JEWEL mailing list for coming up with the details. I appreciate it.

I think a part of me has always existed in a state of denial. Even when we were lost in the Delta Quadrant, a part of me refused to believe that going home might not be an option.

Chakotay says that stubbornness isn't necessarily a character flaw but then, he doesn't see what I see: a crew that has needlessly been put in danger time and time again and yes, some of those perilous situations could have been avoided.

Just admitting this last part is a big step for me and I wish I could tell everyone - Tom, B'Elanna, Tuvok, Neelix, Seven, the Doctor and Chakotay - that I was wrong so many times and I am sorry.

But right now isn't the time for apologies. Instead I am in my ready room, Chakotay and Tuvok sitting opposite me.

Chakotay has already discarded his Starfleet uniform in favor of more casual attire; I make no statement regarding this wardrobe change. After all, what is there to say? Sometimes silence speaks louder than words and Chakotay has already realized what lies ahead.

I know B'Elanna certainly has. I heard the challenge in her voice when we were on the Bridge and I wanted to tell her right there what I thought was going to happen, but I knew she would not listen.

"The Maquis are ready," Chakotay says in a low voice. I flinch at the use of the word "Maquis"; I associate that term with terrorists, not with the people who have served this ship loyally for the last seven years.

"A full security detail will meet you at the airlock," Tuvok says. My Vulcan friend shifts uncomfortably in his chair.

"I am sorry," I tell Chakotay. "I did everything I could to convince them that you, B'Elanna, the others - that all of this was a mistake. Unfortunately, the Federation has a memory like an elephant."

"Some things never change," Chakotay says. "It's all right, Kathryn."

"You don't need to worry about Admiral McArthur," I say. "We served together years ago. I was still an ensign, I believe, on Admiral Paris' ship. McArthur was first officer. He's a good man, Chakotay. He will do what's right."

"You trust him?" Chakotay's voice is very low so I have to strain to hear the words. I know what he's asking; he is questioning my willingness to let Federation authorities take custody of my Maquis crewmen.

"I do," I nod. "He, he does what's fair, Chakotay. And I have already put in a good word for you."

"That's very kind of you."

I get up from my chair and look out the windows at Starbase 87. It is the saddest space station I've ever seen; in fact, it looks like it has spent more time in the Delta Quadrant than Voyager has.

"There's nothing kind about it," I say in a harsh voice. "Chakotay, you and the other former Maquis were - are - a part of this crew. You served Voyager well," I lift my hand because I cannot find the words I need. "I will do everything I can, Chakotay. You can count on me."

Chakotay nods, "I'm sure of that."

I lean back against the wall, my hands clutching the slightly indented pillar on either side of my thighs.

"I searched the codes yesterday," I tell him. "I wanted to see if there was something I could do for you, maybe political asylum."

"Stretching a bit, are you, Kathryn?"

I nod, "It doesn't matter. I cannot do without the Federation's permission. I am sorry."

"It doesn't matter, Kathryn, believe me."

"And there is one more thing, Chakotay," I say. "If there is an inquiry about me and I want you, all of you, to be perfectly candid. Say what you need to say."

"An inquiry?" Chakotay raises an eyebrow. "What for?"

"You know there have been some situations that were less then... ideal. Circumstances that may not necessarily have complied with Starfleet or Federation regulations," I say delicately. "And then there have been the crew members who have died while under my command. All of this needs to be investigated. It's procedure."

"Too many procedures, if you ask me," Chakotay nearly growls.

I laugh halfheartedly. When we had started on this mission, I had said that we would be a Starfleet vessel, but what had we ended up with instead? Certainly not Starfleet and definitely not Maquis. Our one saving grace is that we are not like the crew of the Equinox, desperate and, in my eyes, guilty of the unforgivable.

"Don't forget the Seventh Guarantee," I say.

"I won't," Chakotay says. "They drilled that into our heads back at the Academy. Protection against self-incrimination. It may be too late for that, Captain."

"I didn't think this day would ever come," I am now talking more to myself than to Tuvok or Chakotay. "And now that we are here, it seems unreal that they would investigate a fifth of my crew. There may be a trial, Chakotay."

"A trial would be the logical conclusion given the Federation's view on the Maquis, but this is simply a questioning session," Tuvok begins but slowly starts to drift off. He looks at me and then at Chakotay, his lips drawn into a thin line. "I do think an exception could have been made in this case."

"I appreciate that, Tuvok," Chakotay says. He gets to his feet, takes a long look around, breathing in deeply. "I'm going to miss this. Really."

I extend my hand and Chakotay reaches forward to grasp it, his fingers brushing the back of my hand for a full second before his fingers weave in with mine.

"It was an honor to have you as my first officer," I tell him.

Chakotay nods and then he says, "I should go."

He glances at Tuvok who is now standing. They depart and I stay there, staring out of the window at the decrepit space station, wondering what I could have done differently.


The Federation questioners ask us to start at the beginning but I don't where that is. I could start with the day I was born, how I came into this world blue in the face with my maternal grandfather chanting over my mother in an effort to keep away the evil spirits who might harm the child. I could spin a tale about my boyhood days and dwell for a bit on the time I spent at a summer camp, learning how to tie knots and build a fire - skills that later aided me greatly in my future occupation as a Maquis terrorist. Or maybe, they would be more interested in my aborted career in Starfleet. I could tell them that one day, I realized that there were causes that meant more than a pip on your collar. And so I walked away from Starfleet, its stiffly starched uniforms and stifling rules and regulations that sucked the very soul out of me.

But no, they are not interested in any of that. And frankly, I'd be amused if they asked but these men and women are the type to take personal offense at any slight disregard of Starfleet, whether intentional or not.

And believe me, everything is intentional on my part.

There are four of them in this room. I did not get their names when they introduced themselves quickly, none of them making eye contact with me or B'Elanna as they spit out their information rapid-fire.

I think they place us on the same level as the Ghasa virus, which kills by attaching itself to the outer membrane of blood cells and then injects itself into the cell until the cell is forced to burst from the pressure.

The room is nothing to write home about either. It has four walls, a ceiling and floor, and all done up in tasteful gray with bright lights in each of the upper four corners. Two of the spotlights shine directly down on B'Elanna and me, and we sometimes have to blink to keep black spots from completely obscuring the faces of the four people seated in front of us.

B'Elanna hasn't said anything in an hour. She is quiet, not restless, and I don't know what she is thinking. Maybe it's better that I don't know.

Hell, I don't even know what I'm thinking. Sometimes, I'm thinking about dinner, which won't be much more than zero-gravity rations - the kind you have to drink from metallic packets - and other times, my thoughts drift to the mundane like the street where I grew up. And then, most painful of all, I think of Kathryn.

I see her chestnut-red hair brushing against her cheeks, her eyes looking at up at me from beneath her eyelids. I hear her low moans in my ear, and imagine her skin under my wandering fingertips.

I've figured out that the Federation, and by the associative principle, Starfleet also, wants to know about Kathryn, but they don't want to know about the Kathryn whom I've come to know.

They already know what they want to hear and they are only waiting for me to talk so they can condemn Kathryn legally for whatever they have already tried her for in secret.

When they are done with us, the Maquis, they will start on Kathryn. There will be no deals. We hand them Kathryn and win ourselves an all-expense paid trip to New Zealand or some other equally luxurious prison colony.

"Start at the beginning," one of them said and I know they are talking about Voyager.

I can tell you the date and time when I first beamed onto the Bridge, but I can't tell you anything more concrete than that; my time on Voyager is hopelessly fragmented, a kaleidoscope of memory, thought and experiences.

Each piece is colored by emotion, tainted by disappointment and shattered by betrayal.

Nothing is coherent, nothing is linear.

I look over at B'Elanna; she is bent over her fingernails, examining the rough edges of her nails, sure sign of her nervousness.

In front of us, the four of them - I've already started to think of the Federation as "them" - sit, their fingers tapping against their PADDs.

"What would you like to know?" I ask.


I refuse to watch them march the Maquis off like common criminals. I have done everything to prevent their apprehension, everything, that is, short of getting down on my knees in front of the Federation brass, that is.

I do, after all, still have my pride.

The ship feels empty without them.

I wander the corridors, noting the abandoned stations once capably manned by Maquis officers.

They have not allowed me to see them either. I have asked, begged, pleaded... use whatever verb you'd like,
I've done that.

And still the response is a stoic, "Not at this time, Captain."

"Will there be a trial?" I demanded.

"We have not made a decision about that yet, Captain. We're simply in the fact-gathering stage."

"If there is a trial, I want to be there."

And again, their faces cloud over, freeze into an inscrutable expression, and they shake their heads.
At least Tuvok has been able to see Chakotay and B'Elanna for short periods of time and he brings me back news.

"B'Elanna has threatened to cause bodily harm to at least one of the guards," Tuvok says as we walk through the rather barren corridors of Voyager.

"You're not serious," I have to chuckle. I can imagine B'Elanna, her eyes flashing and her every muscle tensing as she crouches, ready position, in anticipation of a fight.

"I'm afraid that I am."

"And Chakotay?"


That is not unexpected; even in the worst situations, Chakotay is irritatingly composed. Heat doesn't rise in his cheeks as it does in mine when faced with a desperate situation. He radiates self-possession and I envy that particular trait of his. I miss that.

I miss him.

"Have they begun questioning?" I ask.


"Without you?"

"They are talking about Voyager. I do not believe they are discussing the Maquis as of yet," Tuvok uses the
word "discuss" with distaste.

"Then that will keep them busy," I shudder to think of what the Federation will learn of our seven years in the Delta Quadrant. I'm not ashamed, but I'm not sure that they will understand either.

"You have nothing to be concerned about," Tuvok says.

"You're wrong," I tell him.

"You are referring to your frequent violations of the Prime Directive."

We stop. All around us, the halls of Voyager are maddeningly bereft of life. Some of the crew from the lower decks have been given permission by Starfleet Command to leave the ship and explore the starbase. With their absence and that of the Maquis, Voyager no longer feels like the same ship.

"Yes," I nod.

"Circumstances dictate actions, Captain."

"Not always. We were supposed to be a Starfleet ship and sometimes, we strayed from our purpose. I would not be surprised if there was a court martial waiting for me. Perhaps, they are just trying to gather the necessary

"I do not think that that is a possibility."

"You're being a friend, Tuvok," I say gently. "I need you to be an advisor now. I need you to be rational and

"What is your concern?"

"The Borg," I straighten myself, thrusting my shoulders back. "There is so much... I don't know where to begin."

"There is nothing to say," Tuvok says evenly.

"For you and me," I answer. "What about B'Elanna?"

Tuvok grows pensive. He has not thought about it but I have; B'Elanna has been remote, fidgety, since our return from the Borg cube. I have no doubt she forced Tom to marry her during a mood swing and for that reason I was reluctant to perform the ceremony. In truth, I have always felt the combination of Tom and B'Elanna is similar to dropping a piece of sodium in water and watching the silvery metal give off sparks and then eventually cause a minor explosion. So yes, I admit it - I did not want to marry them.

And the other thing that occurred to me is a little more shameful to admit; it is the fact that I do feel a bit possessive of Tom. I rescued him, I rehabilitated him, gave him a chance when no one else would and he, well, with his marriage to B'Elanna, he no longer needs me.

"Captain?" Tuvok asks. "What about B'Elanna?"

"What about her?" I snap. "She knew the consequences when she volunteered for the mission. The Doctor has offered her counseling. What more do you want?"

"You should have insisted," Tuvok says. "B'Elanna is still loyal to you, Captain, but I am concerned about her well-being. You should have insisted that she seek medical help."

"I can't force a horse to water, Tuvok. She didn't go."

"I do not know what kind of questions they will ask," Tuvok's face is pensive, concerned. "It is an unusual


"Are you worried about B'Elanna specifically?"

"Since I do not understand the reason for the proceedings, I must evaluate all possibilities," he says. "It would
illogical to do otherwise."

"The Doctor could make a recommendation," I say hastily. "They need to release B'Elanna because of her medical condition."

Tuvok looks at me, his face calm and expressionless as usual, but his jaw firm.

"I could recommend the same be done for you," he says in a low voice.

With that, he turns and leaves me in the corridor, alone and with my back against the wall.


There were twenty of us in the beginning. For a Maquis cell, that was pretty large; most Maquis cells numbered less than ten. The fewer people involved in an operation, the less likely the possibility of a leak.
I miss those days, miss the camaraderie. Rules and regulations sometimes take away the spontaneity of humanoid interactions. In Starfleet, you hide behind titles and codes of conduct; we didn't have that - only each other.

You get to know each other very well in the Maquis, only because there is no one else to talk to. Even then, trust is a very uneasy thing; alliances are ever shifting, changing like the tides of the ocean. One day you believe so fervently in the cause, and then it's back to the Federation because you are tired of being cold, hungry, wounded and hunted. And then, when you are tired of the two-faced sanctimony of the Federation, you slip underground back to the Maquis.

Dark circles rim your eyes, giving unspoken testimony to long sleepless nights and your sole companion is a malfunctioning phaser rifle.

Tension grips your forehead, sometimes extending back down to your neck and into your back muscles. Jaws are tight, nasal passages congested and voices are hoarse from constant screaming. Sometimes, your eyes water from the smoke and your throat aches from the burns you feel but cannot see.

There were no medications, not really. We had a doctor or two, but they had no supplies. They would patch you up as best they could, sometimes slipping you a drop of Romulan brandy as they set your broken bones, and then it was back out into the darkness, biting down on your lip to hold back the moans of pain threatening to spill out.

So it wasn't fun. I can't even name one good time we had. There were no camp fires like the stories say, no trophies of Cardassian neck bones adorning our ships and there certainly weren't the orgies or pillaging the Maquis are allegedly infamous for.

Too often, we limped from raid to raid, just thankful we had survived to fight another day. We were all too often aware that the Federation was looking for us and that there were bounty hunters eager to snatch up even one of us.

But somehow, we were the lucky ones. We managed to evade capture, escape death a million times, and in the process, we learned to trust each other.

You want to know about us, so I'll tell you. Suder had a poker face, never could tell what cards he held. Gerron sings in the shower, Ayala can name all thirty-seven constellations in the Olmina system. Someday, when we have more time and we're talking about this over a cup of coffee, I'll tell you how Kurt Bendera saved my life in a bar-fight. He saved B'Elanna's life too, but that's another story also. He was a good man, didn't deserve to die the way he did, but I don't expect you to understand that.

John Carlson lost his family to a Cardassian raid while Starfleet hung back, unwilling to protect his wife and children. Chell talks too much but he can keep a secret. Ken Dalby, well, he has a temper, but there is intensity about him, a sense of purpose I find compelling.

There are so many others to name - Mariah Henley, Fiona Jackson, Devon Jarvis, Vin Janus, Kas Klym, Catherine McKenzie, Kevin O'Donnell, and Tabor Dyns - good people, all of them. I will even go as far as to say that Michael Jonas and Seska had their moments; at the risk of sounding nostalgic, when those two were with me, as Maquis, they did not give me any reason to doubt them.

We knew what we were doing when we joined the Maquis. Don't think that the fight was in our heads for a single second, because it wasn't like that. You think we liked fighting for the sake of fighting? You think we really wanted to turn our backs on the Federation? But what no one understands is that we had no choice; you gave us no choice. The situation was very much like being a child and seeing your parents walking away, leaving you behind, never to return.

We fought because the Federation made a deal with Cardassia that we could not stomach. And when Cardassia moved in on us, robbing us of our homes, killing our families, raping our lands - if that happened to you, what would you do? Would you sit there placidly, knowing that the Federation - your government - would not protect you? Would you willingly pack up the lives you painstakingly carved out of the rough terrain of the border colonies and just go without even a single note of protest?

You know how we felt about our options, how we felt that fighting to protect our way of life was the only thing left to us, and soon the fight became the only reason for us to wake up each morning and take a deep breath. Another day alive would mean another day to fight, to actually take a stand for something we believed in.
It might be presumptuous of me, but I ask you - all of you - wouldn't you have done the same?


My joints are tight, muscles ache. In the back of my mind, I remember... the voices.

And sometimes, if I concentrate, I hear the echoes of a scream reverberating in my mind.

There are no features to differentiate the faces, only the pitch of their voices, the intensity of their pleadings.

And I, who pride myself on the strength of my compassion, did not hear them.

There were some that were quiet, compliant, who understood that assimilation was inevitable, that it was less painful if they submitted. There were others who struggled, who fought until they were beaten and then we - the Borg - descended en masse upon that soft body and pierced it.

The part of me that still remembered Janeway, Kathryn, Captain, Voyager - her lips would move in silent mantra as her fingers did the bidding of the Collective.

"Forgive me," she would whisper as yet another drone added to the perfection of the Borg.

And somewhere, observing it all, the Borg Queen laughed.

I put my hand to my cheek, feel soft flesh and not Borg plated armor. I avoid mirrors, avoid them with desperation born of fear, aware that the shadow of the Borg Queen hovers over my shoulder, her lips sneering into a perpetual taunt.

I hold my hands out in front of me, testing each finger, marveling at how easily they move without the silver tubules streaking from mid-wrist to the tips of my fingers.

I asked Seven about them once, asked her if she noticed the constant presence of appendages on her body. She cocked her head to the side, her blue eyes very wide in her pale face, and she examined her own hand. She stroked the length of the tubules gently and then shook her head.

"No," she said. "I do not notice them. They are a part of me."

What was unspoken in our conversation was her fervent belief that I would accept what we had done and experienced without question and it would become part of me also.

I did not ask her about the screaming because I already knew the answer to that question; those nameless and faceless individuals have become a part of me, occupying every waking moment with the question of "how could you?" hovering on their lips.

I no longer have physical reminders of my time aboard the Borg cube; I only have the nightmares which hover in the darkest corners of my mind, threatening to spill out at any moment, threatening to rob me of any sanity I might still possess.

And then, what bothers me most, what comes up the most as I toss and turn in the night is a single question: Was I wrong?

Tom seems to think I was. His expression is a constant mixture of sullen insolence and disrespect. We talked only that once, when he accused me of single-minded stubbornness and it hurt, coming from Tom. Sometimes, I try to talk to him, maybe explain myself a bit, but instead his face turns inscrutable and I know he's not listening.

He has already made up his mind about what happened, about me. It may be too late to salvage my relationship with him, but it's not too late for the Maquis.

I owe them - Chakotay and B'Elanna - that much.


B'Elanna and I go way back. She won't tell you about how we met, but I will. The year was 2367, the setting - a freighter stocked with supplies for a Federation world. The Cardassians had it in their sights, and we, hungry for whatever we could get our hands for - anything to make a dent in this guerrilla war against the Federation - were there also.

You would be amazed - no, shocked - at how many people actually despised the Federation and didn't believe that it was a benevolent organization serving the good of the many. Even now, I still can't reconcile myself to the image of the Federation as a protector.

There were more Starfleet officers sympathetic to the cause of the Maquis than you would believe and it was because of them, we were able to board the freighter.

Casualties were high - mostly on the Cardassian side. I lost two people - Greg Kendall and Lisa Johnson. Somewhere in all of that smoke and blood, I caught sight of B'Elanna Torres.

My first vision of her was of a half-mad Klingon, fighting with every ounce of energy she had left. Her phaser aim wasn't great, but she had taken down a Cardassian or two.

"Stay where you are!" I exclaimed.

"Don't worry!" she shot back. "I'm not going anywhere."

There was a Gul - Tancret, I believe his name was - peeking back and forth around a corner and together, B'Elanna and I concentrated our fire on him. After about ninety seconds, the Gul fell heavily to the floor, his face flat against the wall, his arms outstretched.

I felt nothing as I stepped over his prone body. Not hate, not anger, not sorrow, not guilt. Nothing. Just nothing.

"You're coming with me!" I yelled to B'Elanna. "The ship, it's going to blow!"

"I don't even know who you are!"

"Does it matter?" I yelled back as sparks flew above my head. B'Elanna considered a moment and then followed me.

In the mayhem that issued back on my ship, the Liberty, I didn't get a chance to talk to B'Elanna much. Hell, I didn't even know her name.

I did notice, though, that she could fix anything. She flung herself into the repairs, often working late into the night when others were sleeping. I would watch from afar, shake my head, and then turn to other more pressing matters.

We hid in a nebula for repairs and one night, too exhausted to sleep, I wandered around the ship and found B'Elanna, sweating over some isolinear chips. Her short, curly brown hair was falling in her eyes, sweat and dust coating her cheeks, nose and chin.

For the first time, I took a good look at her. She was a thin slip of a girl then and not very tall. Her eyes were big and brown - almost too big for her face. And just above her lip, there was a small mole that self-consciously, she would try to cover up with a bit of make-up.

I didn't mean to bump into her, but in retrospect, that little bit of violence was what I needed to break the ice.

"Hey!" B'Elanna exclaimed. "Watch where you're going!"

"Sorry," I said. "I didn't see you."

"You should be more careful."

I tried to make small talk. And of course, there I learned the first rule about B'Elanna Torres: she doesn't small talk. In fact, she responded to most of my conversation with low grunts. At some point, she hurled her tool across the room, smashing it with admirable precision against a bulkhead; it crashed with a satisfying thunk.

"If only," she muttered as she got up to retrieve her now-dented tool.

"If only what?" I asked.


"No, really."

"It wasn't a very nice thought."

"There aren't very many nice thoughts here," I reassured here.

"I was thinking about Starfleet," she said. "Thinking about how nice it would be to smash some of those pristine windows at the Academy."

"Don't like Starfleet much, do you?" I asked jokingly.

"No," she said. "All of their rules. They want you to be a certain way, want you to be fit their mold. It's... stifling."

"Sounds like Starfleet," I nodded. She tilted her head towards me, resting it on her hand. She looked, for a
moment, strangely soft.

"You know about... Starfleet?"

"I lived Starfleet."

"And now?"

"Now?" I laughed. "Look at me."

She gazed up and down my frame, taking in the brownish-hued garments hanging off of my body; in the seven months since I had resigned from Starfleet, I had lost quite a bit of weight. Fighting Cardassians has a curious way of taking the edge of hunger away and increasing adrenaline so you are able to scale large cliffs in a matter of seconds.

"You left Starfleet," she said flatly. "You escaped."

"In a manner of speaking."

"You were there for a long time?"

"Yeah. Almost thirteen years."

"That's a long time. I couldn't do that," she said.

"I think you could," I said. "It's not such a bad thing."

"So now you attack supply freighters?" she asked. "That's an improvement?"

"I have my reasons," I countered. "What are yours?"

"I don't have any," B'Elanna responded. "Or maybe, I'm just looking for a fight."

"Sounds like you have a story to tell."

"Depends what you want to hear."

"How about your name?"

We faced off like that and finally, B'Elanna extended her hand.

"B'Elanna Torres."


"Just Chakotay?"

"Just Chakotay."

She was leaning against the wall and slowly, she slid down until she was sitting. I, so as not to tower over her, sat down also.

"So? Why are you here?" I asked.

"There's nowhere else to go," she said. "You helped the Cardassians destroy my freighter, remember?"

"No, I mean really," I said. "Why were you on that freighter?"

"I had nowhere to go," she repeated.

"I find that hard to believe."

"Believe it," she laughed harshly. "I was at Starfleet Academy until, oh, about three months ago."

"Did you graduate?"

"No," she shrugged. "I just left. It wasn't for me."


"Too many rules."

"You've said that."

"I fight," a smile slipped onto her face. "The counselors say I have violent tendencies. I break things too."


"But I can fix them better than anyone else," B'Elanna grinned with obvious pride.

"I can see that," I gestured at her work. "You've done a good job here."

"Thanks," she narrowed her eyes. "That's how I got out here, you know. Built my own ship and then when the
warp coils gave out, I hitched a ride on that freighter."

"Built your own ship, huh? Impressive."

B'Elanna shrugged, "I wanted to see if I could."

"You obviously did."

"I'll do better next time."

I leaned forward and picked up one of the tools she had been working with it and ran my hands over it. B'Elanna
leaned forward too and tipped her head sideways towards me.

"Chakotay. What kind of name is that?" she asked.

"Native American," I said.

"Ah," she said. "Is that why you have a tattoo?"

"Do you always ask so many questions?"

"Only when I'm interested in someone," B'Elanna rubbed her tongue over her lips. "You're Native American


"Klingon," she touched the ridges on her forehead. "But I guess you could see that. Half-Klingon, really. I mean,
yeah, not really Klingon."

"It's getting late," I said. "Should be getting to bed. You ready?"

B'Elanna's eyes grew cold, "I'm not that kind of girl, Mr. Chakotay."

"And I'm not that kind of guy," I answered shortly. "I was just pointing out that you could use a little rest."

"Are you saying I don't know when to rest?"

"I'm saying that I need to rest," I flashed her a smile. "Are you coming or not?"

I got to my feet and held my hand out to her; she took it and in a surprisingly strong moved, pulled herself up.

"You never told me your reasons," she said.

"It doesn't matter," I answered.

"It does. If it means you gave up a career in Starfleet to hobble around the galaxy in this rattletrap, you ought to
have a damn good reason."

The intensity in her eyes held my attention and without thinking, I touched her jaw slightly; she did not flinch.

"You must have heard of the treaty," I said. "The one between Cardassia and the Federation."

"I've heard a bit," she said. "The Federation has ceded some planets to Cardassia."

"My home world is one of those. Dorvan IV."

"Yeah?" the tone of her voice was surprisingly casual, but her eyes betrayed the concern.

"They killed my father."

B'Elanna's eyes grew wider. Her hand reached out, clutched my forearm.

"No." she whispered. "Who?"

"Does it matter?"

"It does to you."

"Cardassians or the Federation, take your pick. The Cardassians did it, but the Federation stood by and let it happen. I... I couldn't stay in Starfleet. It didn't feel right, knowing that we had all the resources to protect my
father and but did nothing."

B'Elanna's grip on my arm tightened.

"You're right," she said. "You have a reason."

I brushed away the smudge of dust on her cheek. I contemplated for a minute; I did not know anything about B'Elanna Torres, but I found her... fascinating; the quick spark of temper in her eye, the keen reflexes, but most of all, her audacity. Loved that. Loved that about her immediately.

"Do you want a reason?" I asked in a very low voice. "We could use an engineer on board. The ship's not much, but it gets the job done."

With characteristic B'Elanna aloofness, she replied, "Well, I don't have anywhere else to go right now. I suppose I could hang around for a while."

But the Maquis, you see, inspires a passion in people - even they didn't have a passion before they joined; that's what happened with B'Elanna. And I could see it, in the way she caressed those engines, coaxing every last bit of energy out of them. She cared what happened to us, cared about the cause and I suspect, she may have even learned to care a little for herself.
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