A Fine Line

A Star Trek Voyager Story

By Enginerd

Chapter 10 - Uneasy Alliance

"Please explain this "transphotomodular pulse" technology," Tuvok patiently asked, noting Jerran's attention kept drifting away from their conversation. As did Seven, who sighed impatiently, noting the Captain was the object of her attention.

"Jerran, you indicated the Granarians will not stop in their attempt to kill the Captain. Your assistance is required to protect . . . your Oben," Seven said uncomfortably.

"I will do what is necessary to help my Oben," Jerran vowed, reluctantly breaking her gaze from the older woman. "May I access a computer terminal?"

Seven and Tuvok briefly looked at each other, then nodded in silent agreement to allow access.

As they moved away from the biobed and to the computer terminal, Jerran stopped, curiously watching the Captain talk with the Doctor, who injected her with something.

"She does not want this bond," Jerran said softly, a sadness at her failure filled her. She had never had an Oben disappointed in her service, until now.

"Captain Janeway does not condone slavery. She will do anything in her power to break this so-called bond," Seven said confidently.

"The bond can not be broken, unless I die," Jerran said absently, still focused on the Captain, who sighed and rubbed the back of her neck.

"That can be arranged," Seven said coldly, drawing Jerran's attention to the blond.

"You are welcome to try," Jerran said evenly, not afraid of the former Borg. The Granarian stood tall and eyeing her potential opponent with a glare, which only caused an optical implant to rise in response.

"I am sure the Doctor will find a solution that will not require anyone's death," Tuvok interjected.

"Unfortunate," Seven offered crisply.

"What's unfortunate?" Captain Janeway asked as she approached them, seemingly more relaxed.

"That we are bonded," Jerran said with a sigh, then looked down to the panel dejectedly.

There was something about her sadness that made Kathryn want to ease it. "Jerran, I know you did not plan this," Captain Janeway said. "You're a victim in this too."

The Granarian looked at her Oben in confusion. She did not feel like a victim, only a failure to please her Oben.

"Captain, she was part of the assassination team sent to kill you," Seven interjected with annoyance. The Captain was being entirely too forgiving of this intruder.

"I go where my Oben goes," Jerran said, looking at Janeway then turned to Seven "I did not assist nor was I asked to. It was a matter of honor to my Oben."

"What do you know of honor?" Seven argued. "Was it honorable to leave your future Oben to lay in a puddle of her own blood to die??" She asked with unusual emotion, surprising Janeway.

"I was surprised and weak. I . . I have never been partially bonded," she offered uneasily, beginning to feel guilty for not acting sooner.

"Well, that makes two of us," Kathryn offered with a small smile. The Taak looked up and nodded slightly, appreciating her new Oben's understanding and efforts to comfort her.

Seven frowned.

"You were explaining the transphotomodular pulse technology," Tuvok interjected, electing not to exercise any more patience. The women looked at him with surprise. "Need I remind you, that it's crucial to understand the technology that makes Voyager vulnerable to additional boardings," he added.

"How could I forget?" Janeway said with a wry smile. "Tell us about this technology, Jerran. It's about time we got a break," she said warmly.

"I am not intimate in the design of the equipment, but I have learned the basics of the pulse required to transport biosignatures," Jerran seemed to be comfortable discussing the physics as she made a few images appear on the computer screen.

She was surprisingly intelligent for someone relegated to the position of slave, Kathryn thought, wondering how this civilization could tolerate slavery . . . or more importantly, how this intelligent woman would tolerate her lot in life. She obviously had much more to offer than being someone's slave.

Jerran looked up from the screen after explaining the technology.

"Impressive," Seven acknowledged, causing Kathryn to break out of her musing . . . and staring of the attractive dark-haired woman.

"Indeed," Tuvok added.

"Uh, yes. Impressive, thank you, Jerran," Kathryn said, her praise finally causing a smile to grace the Taak's beautiful face. Kathryn couldn't help but wonder what this beautiful and intelligent woman would do if she were free.

"I live to serve," Jerran said with promise lacing her words as she deeply looked into Kathryn's eyes.

Kathryn blinked, feeling the simmering of arousal threatening to boil over. "So! Seven, do you have any ideas on how to implement a defense for the transphotomodular pulses?"

"I have some preliminary ideas, however, I will require LT Torres' assistance to implement design changes to our shielding."

"Excellent! Get on it, Seven," Janeway said with a pleased smile.

Seven eyed the Captain and the Taak, then Tuvok, who's pointed brow rose. "Very well," she said and reluctantly left Sickbay.


"Seven of Nine," Tuvok called to the blond as she entered the turbo lift.

"Should you not be guarding the Captain from the Taak, or do you also believe her story of blind obedience?" She blurted with irritation.

"I have assigned a continuous guard to the Captain, until we can confirm there is no danger from Jerran and solve the boarding problem," he said, joining her in the turbo lift.

Seven sighed, apparently appeased by the answer. "Deck 11," she said, then asked "you wished to discuss something with me?"

"Yes. Computer, stop the turbo lift," he said, surprising the tall blond, who turned to face him curiously. "It is unclear what the effects of this blood bond will have on the Captain. She already seems to be struggling with it."

"I have detected . . . a reaction," Seven said with displeasure.

"Indeed. A reaction to Jerran, which is due to the Granarian substance in her blood," Tuvok offered.

"Is that what human's call "chemistry" ?" Seven said with irritation.

"Not as I understand it. I would surmise that human "chemistry" is far more complex than this blood bonding. And we may never fully understand either," Tuvok noted.

"Was there something else?" She asked neutrally, though hurt by his words which implied the former Borg would never understand that fundamental human experience.

"Yes. I believe your jealousy is misplaced and I am concerned it will deprive the Captain of something she will need now, more than ever."

Seven was surprised at his observation, wanting to deny her uncomfortable feeling of jealousy. However, she couldn't and her concern easily overrode her pride. "What does she need?"

"Your friendship."

"I do not believe the Captain would seek me out to help with her personal problems," Seven said tightly, believing the conversation over. "Deck 11," she said, turning to the doors as the turbo lift resumed its course.

"Perhaps. The Captain is reluctant to involve anyone with her problems. But she trusts you. And should you already be there, she would not need to "seek" you," Tuvok said as the turbo lift doors opened.

Seven stepped out of the lift, considering his words. She turned to look at the Vulcan, whose brow rose.


"A transphoto what?" B'Elanna asked as Seven tried to explain the Granarian boarding technology.

"A transphotomodular pulse. Let me show you," Seven said, tapping into the computer terminal to bring up a simulation. "The pulse is a low energy, highly cohesive packet of energy," she explained as B'Elanna studied the details and shook her head with annoyance.

"Damn. That narrow beam could pierce our shields without detection. Ugh! I would have never guessed it was something like that."

"Your assumed transmission path was correct," Seven offered.

"But that was only part of the problem. If we could set up a scattering screen in our deflector, we should be able to disrupt the narrow beam with our shields," B'Elanna said. "But the question is what type of scattering screen, adjusting the deflector will be a huge investment in time with the shields down."

"A quadramentional phase rotation in the screen should provide sufficient scattering."

"Sounds good to me. Let's give a simulation a shot," B'Elanna offered.



As soon as Kathryn entered her quarters, she let out a heavy exhale. She finally had a moment alone, able to convince the guard to remain stationed outside her door. Marching to her replicator, she ordered "Scotch, neat," and the drink appeared without fuss. "Thank you!" She said with relief and took a healthy gulp of her scotch.

Pacing with the drink in hand, she shook her head at the predicament. Usually, she was able to control her . . . urges . . . successfully, without indications of her struggle. However, now she felt so out of control. She frowned and stopped, staring out her window to the stars. With Jerran, her desires were amplified. She felt raw and exposed. She was sure both Tuvok and Seven noticed her physical reaction. But that's what you get for having beings with acute senses on board, she considered with a grimace.

With a humorless laugh, she took another sip of her drink. Dangerously drawn to one beautiful woman, while another was practically throwing herself at her, causing unwanted and embarrassing physical reactions. Wouldn't her sister Phoebe just LOVE to hear about this little problem her stuffy ol' Starfleet sister had, she considered.

If Phoebe had been in this situation, she would have gone after both women without shame, Kathryn considered with mild jealousy for her sister's "damn the torpedoes full speed ahead" attitude. Of course, her free-spirit sister didn't have to worry about commanding a Starship and the messy fallout of those torpedoes. But as much as she envied Phoebe's free spirit at times, Kathryn couldn't see herself ignoring her responsibilities as a Starfleet officer.

Kathryn smiled, recalling a dinner one night when they were young girls. The Admiral, during a rare visit at home between important assignments, had asked his daughters what they wanted to do with their lives. Kathryn, predictably, relayed that she wanted to follow in her father's footsteps in Starfleet. During the ten-year-old's unsurprising announcement, her sister, in a grand, theatrical way, silently acted out a slow, suffering death, finally throwing her body dramatically onto the floor with a thud and moan.

"Phoebe!" Kathryn snapped with irritation.

Admiral Janeway stared a moment at his daughter laying motionless on the floor, then at his wife. "So Phoebe wants to be a mime??" he guessed dryly.

"Daddy!" Phoebe huffed indignantly.

"Mimes don't moan, dear," Gretchen said with amusement, getting a grin from Edward.

"Ah," he answered.

"I want to be an ARTÍST!" Phoebe announced grandly from the floor.

Kathryn shook her head with a smirk. Each of them had done what they said they would that day. Phoebe became an artist. Well, when she wasn't in a coffee house gossiping, or sleeping until mid-afternoon, after one of her amorous evenings, Kathryn considered. Or recovering from one of a plethora of parties with an army of people she called close friends. How her sister ever managed to excel at her art with all those distractions was a wonder. How her sister could live life with her heart on her sleeve . . . and survive . . . was perhaps the biggest mystery of all.

Kathryn took another sip, finishing up her scotch. She stared at her suddenly trembling hand a moment in a mix of scientific curiosity and fear, wondering why the alcohol wasn't soothing her nerves. She felt a growing anxiety but no physical pain. Something was wrong, but she couldn't place her finger on it.

"Captain, this is the doctor." The voice over the com link startled her.

"Go ahead, doctor."

"Please come to Sickbay."

"Is it Jerran?" Captain Janeway said, eyeing her hand, just knowing it was the Granarian.


Kathryn took an uneasy breath. "I'm on my way," she said and exited her quarters.


"So what was it like?" B'Elanna asked.

"What was what like?" Seven said as she finished her data entry into the holodeck's panel.

"Spending the night with the Captain?" B'Elanna said with a grin as she picked up a microspanner and tricorder from her tool kit and headed to the simulated deflector control panel.

"We consumed dinner, I went through our simulations, unsuccessfully, and she read, reviewed reports, then slept, after an inordinate amount of procrastination," Seven said with disapproval as she set up the transphotomodular beam simulation.

"Oh," B'Elanna said with disappointment as she realigned the deflector to create the quadrimentional variance in the filter.

"What else were you expecting?" Seven asked.

B'Elanna cringed as she checked the system's response with her tricorder. "Well, uh . . . So how hard was it to get the prisoner to reveal this pulse information?" she asked curiously as her tricorder bleeped. "There! That should do it."

B'Elanna faced the former Borg, who had a preoccupied look on her face. "Did Tuvok have to do a mind meld or something to get the information?" B'Elanna asked.

"No. Jerran was forthcoming with the information when we asked."

"Jerran, huh? Hmm. That's odd. She looked rather formidable. I wouldn't have expected her to just offer up the information so easily."

"She provided the information because she says she must help her Oben," Seven said tightly, then attempted to focus on the problem at hand. "After we determine the optimal rotation for the deflector, we need to work on reducing the time for the alteration."

"Help her what?"

"Oben . . . her master. Jerran is now Captain Janeway's slave."

If B'Elanna didn't know better, she would have thought Seven was pulling her leg. But her stony gaze indicated she was deadly serious.

"Uh . . . well, I'm sure the Captain will explain things to her. Even drop her off someplace nice with some supplies."

Seven silently nodded. Not anticipating it to be that simple, she had already done some preliminary scans for suitable planets.


"What's wrong, Doctor?" Captain Janeway asked as her security guard stationed himself at the door as she entered the sickbay. She eyed the second guard, who nodded respectfully.

The Doctor took his tricorder and immediately scanned her. "Doctor?" Janeway asked impatiently, then noticed Jerran slowly getting up from her biobed with a relieved smile. She quickly noticed her nerves seemed to immediately settle.

"I don't see anything out of the ordinary. However, in your absence, Jerran's physiology became distinctly distressed. She became weak and experienced significant pain. Did you happen to feel any side effects when you were in your quarters?" he asked.

"Uh . . . agitation and . . . my hand trembled a bit," she said, then held out her hand which was steady as a rock. "I thought it was nerves," Janeway said with concern. "But when you called, I suspected it was Jerran. I feel fine now."

"Hmm," the Doctor said as he returned to the Granarian's side. "She appears to have no lingering effects from her previous distress."

"Jerran, what's going on?" Janeway softly asked the woman, who bowed her head before answering.

"When we are apart, there are physical consequences. It is often used as punishment for the Taak," Jerran said, hanging her head with guilt at not having pleased her Oben.

The Doctor walked through the force field and continued his monitoring.

"I . . . I was not attempting to punish you, Jerran," Kathryn said with concern, stepping forward but halting with a heavy sigh. "Doctor, would you please inactivate the force field?" She said with irritation.


"We've got a guard outside and a guard right here," she motioned to one of Tuvok's security detail standing a few meters away by the door.

"Very well. But I don't advise this."

"Noted," she said with a thin smile.

"I am relieved I had not angered you, Oben. I only wish to serve, not provoke you," Jerran said with concern.

"Please, call me Captain, not Oben," Kathryn said, feeling better that the force field was down.

"Yes, Captain."

"Why didn't you warn me about what my leaving would do to you?" Kathryn asked.

"It is not my place to question your actions, Captain," Jerran said.

Kathryn rolled her eyes. "All right, it looks like we need to establish some new ground rules, Jerran," Captain Janeway said with irritation. "I do not understand this bond and I don't want to accidentally do something to harm you. You need to tell me if there are effects to my actions."

"You are kind, Captain," Jerran said, bowing her head in gratitude.

"It is just common decency. Something every individual deserves," Janeway said with exasperation.

Jerran remained silent, not sure how to respond.

"How close must we remain before you will start feeling the effects?"

"I . . . I do not know. My previous Oben could go many kilometers before I would feel the effects."

"Jerran, I was only two decks away," Janeway said with concern, looking at the Doctor.

"Has a blood bond ever been performed with a species other than Granarian, Jerran?" The Doctor asked.

Jerran thought a moment. "I have heard stories . . . ," she said uncomfortably.

"What stories?" Janeway asked.

"That conveyances had been attempted with different species in olden times . . . ," Jerran said, then stopped, looking upset.

"Jerran? What happened with the conveyances?" Janeway asked.

"Most killed both the Taak and Oben," Jerran said, then paused uncomfortably as a disturbing realization hit her. "My Oben wasn't trying to save me, was he?" She said looking at her Oben's concerned eyes. "He was still trying to kill you," Jerran whispered.

"Jerran, you don't know that. When we arrived in this space, the Granarians offered passage if we handed over three slaves. They wouldn't have wanted a different specie Taak if they thought they would die, would they?" Janeway argued, wanting to comfort the dejected young woman.

"Other species may be subservient, but can never truly be Taaks. They are not Granarian."

"Her unique gland suggests being a Taak is truly a physical, not cultural, condition," the Doctor noted, looking up from his tricorder readings.

"But slavery . . . ," Janeway said with distaste.

"It is the way it has been," Jerran offered, still depressed about being no more than a pawn in the deadly game. She had thought . . . . Jerran stopped and sighed, knowing she was not to question her role or her Oben's choices.

The Captain frowned and shook her head. "Jerran, the way I see it, your Oben didn't have many options, did he?" Kathryn said softly as she instinctively reached out and grasped Jerran's hand. Before she could give a comforting squeeze, she quickly recoiled as if she had touched fire.

Jerran had also felt the electricity between them and sucked in a startled breath.

"Are you hurt, Captain?" The Doctor asked with concern, pulling out his tricorder.

"I, I am fine, Doctor. Just very . . . sensitive to her, as we've discussed."

"Even with the injection?"

Janeway's eyes narrowed at him as she hissed "yes."

"Jerran, do Obens typically become aroused around their Taaks?" the Doctor asked, getting a stunned look from his Captain.


"Captain, we will never figure this out unless we are willing to ask questions," the Doctor argued.

"Do you wish me to answer, Oben?" Jerran asked uneasily.

"Please," Janeway said uncomfortably, glancing away from the attractive woman.

"There is a physical element to the bonding as you are aware. If desired, the bond can be used to communicate emotions and thoughts. It will take time to learn how to understand what we sense and control this communication. However, the strength of our bond is . . . unexpected," Jerran said to Kathryn, who sighed.

"And this communication includes sexual desire?" The Doctor asked.

Jerran nodded.

"Like pheromones?" Janeway guessed.

"There is no evidence of pheromones, Captain," the Doctor noted, getting an annoyed glare from Janeway.

"You have a strong sexual energy, Oben. As your Taak, I should please you, yet you do not want me to," Jerran said with frustration. The Doctor smirked, eyeing the Captain with great interest in her response.

"Jerran," Kathryn snapped nervously.

"I am sorry, Oben," Jerran said uneasily.

"Doctor, please give us some privacy," Captain Janeway said firmly, eyeing the hologram who sighed heavily and nodded reluctantly before returning to his office.

Chapter 11 - Protector

"Captain Taghra is surely lost," LT Olan announced unnecessarily to Captain Ba'Re. She had been counting the hours.

Her executive officer, Commander Rath, scratched his cheek as he eyed the Captain and junior officer, waiting for the inevitable.

"Yes," she said sadly, pacing around the bridge. She didn't like Taghra but his death greatly bothered her, especially since that meant the death of his Taak.

"I would like to continue his mission," LT Olan said, causing the smaller woman to turn with surprise.

"And get yourself killed? For what??" She asked incredulously.

"For Taghra's honor!" he said with pride. "It is my right."

"I am your Captain. You have no rights!" She roared at the taller junior officer. He was not much younger than she. However, she possessed much more of a commanding presence, even with the disadvantage of her short stature, Rath noted.

His head dropped. "Yes, Captain."

"If you wish to be a good officer, Olan, you need to THINK!" She said, knowing she insulted him. His eyes lifted to meet hers with a short-lived glare, which quickly wilted from the challenge in her sharp green eyes.

As Captain, she did not owe him any explanations but she wanted the young, promising officer to learn, so she explained. "Captain Taghra had extensive experience in covert operations and had the benefit of highly skilled Taak with him. You - you would be going into enemy territory with your vast experience in bridge duty of almost three years and your "Honor" to rely on," she said, with great sarcasm, getting a wince from the younger officer at the truth. "I am NOT willing to sacrifice you or any of my crew on some mission that is so ill conceived - even when it is in the name of Honor."

He looked at her with frustration. "You do not believe in honor?!?"

Commander Rath's hand slowly moved to his sidearm. Captain Ba'Re often allowed the younger officers to voice their opinions and challenge her. She deemed it important for them to grow. He was undecided - that wasn't how he was taught. Other Captains, like his previous Captain, would not have tolerated such insubordination and have thrown him in the brig at the first sign of challenge. So far, Karryn had managed to keep the young Granarians from crossing that dangerous line with her thought provoking and compelling words. But someday, he feared her words would not be enough. He hoped today was not that day. He liked Olan.

"I could kill you where you stand, for insulting my honor, LT," she reminded him sharply.

He winced and sighed with a nod, not wanting to lose Captain Ba'Re's respect or the chance to serve on her bridge.

"However, I will respond to your question, because it is important you understand," she said, surprising him. "Honor is one thing, but Granarians have a long history of confusing "Honor" with ego. And when we let our ego motivate us, we become stupid and careless. Too many good and decent Granarians have died because of that mistake."

"You think Captain Taghra was driven by his ego?" LT Olan asked with surprise.

"I do," she said sadly. "And he not only died because of it, he also sacrificed the life of his innocent Taak. Tell me, was that tragic loss of life worth his "Honor?!?" She asked angrily, obviously upset with Taghra's actions.

"But a Taak knows they live and die to serve their Oben."

"Yes. But that doesn't give an Oben the right to throw away their Taak's life. There is a responsibility on both sides of the bond, Olan. And to forget that is dishonorable."

"Captain," Commander Rath interrupted. "The Tribute is planning a boarding of Voyager in Taghra's name. They need a distraction," Commander Rath announced with a disappointed sigh, looking up from his control panel.

"Battle stations," Ba'Re announced with irritation. "Acknowledge them and prepare to decloak on their signal," she ordered and returned to her command chair, wondering why Granarians weren't extinct by now.


Janeway rubbed her temples then eyed the uncomfortable Taak.

"Jerran, sex is not something I take lightly. I'm NOT going to jump into the sack every time I feel aroused," Kathryn explained, pacing.

Jerran didn't understand but remained silent, hoping she would soon. She curiously eyed her agitated Oben, who stopped and took a deep breath.

"Look. You are certainly an attractive woman, and I find myself . . . aroused when I'm around you," Kathryn admitted with difficulty. "But - I don't love you. And that's what I want, that's what I need in a partner. Anything less is . . . ," Kathryn said.

"Less," Jerran finished in understanding, though disappointed her Oben didn't wish to see if love was possible between them. She missed the feeling of someone caring deeply for her, someone's sensual caress. But she did understand about love. She had known true love once, even if she had been very young and they called it immature....

"Yes, less. And Jerran, I would really appreciate it if you didn't discuss what you sense from me with anyone. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Oben," Jerran said, kneeling down.

"Jerran," Kathryn said wearily. "Please get up. Your kneeling makes me uneasy. Please don't do that."

"I am sorry, Oben," Jerran said dejectedly, unable to do anything to please her Oben.

"Jerran, I'm not used to the idea of having a Taak," Kathryn said, trying to explain. "I don't think I'll ever get used to it. It's not you. It's this whole situation."

"You do not have Taaks in your society?" Jerran asked with curiosity, looking at the Doctor in his office.

"No. Not now. We had slaves centuries ago. But our culture had learned, after many conflicts, that society benefitted more when all of society was free."

"We have always had Taaks," Jerran offered simply.

"Perhaps, it's time for a change," Kathryn suggested with a smile of encouragement.

"But Taaks need Obens," Jerran replied with concern.

"With any luck, Jerran, the Doctor can figure out how to sever this bond, so you never need to depend on having an Oben."

"I displease you so much you wish to sever the bond?" Jerran asked with fear.

"It's not about my displeasure, it's about your freedom," Kathryn said with frustration, interrupted as the ship suddenly lurched.

Kathryn lost her balance but Jerran quickly pulled her into a protective embrace. "They are coming again, Oben. But, I will protect you."


"Commander, we've got company off the starboard stern," Harry said, looking up from his station on the bridge. "Three Granarian ships have de-cloaked and are firing upon us."

"Shields up. Red alert," Chakotay ordered, causing the bridge lighting to dim slightly as the red lights around the perimeter flashed. "Tuvok, get a firing solution on them," Chakotay said.


"Fire at will," Chakotay ordered.


Nearly overwhelmed by the pleasant sensation of her touch, it took a moment to register the Granarian's words. "Jerr...?" Captain Janeway said with alarm as they started to transport.

They were gone.

"Captain!" The Doctor called out just as two Granarians beamed into Sickbay with weapons drawn.

"Intruder alert. Security needed in Sickbay," the computer announced as a disrupter beam passed through his matrix, confusing one attacker. "Hmmpf," the Doctor responded indignantly as one Granarian fell from the security officer's phaser shot.

The second Granarian fired at the security officer, killing him before the guard outside the door rushed in to help. Seeing the weapon aimed at him, the guard managed to dive behind a bed, but got nicked in the shoulder by a shot that scorched the sickbay wall. After a volley of a few shots, the Granarian was injected with a hypo spray and collapsed.


As the skirmish occurred in the sickbay, Voyager's torpedoes struck one of the Granarian ships, causing impressive explosions that rocked the Federation ship.

"Sir, two Granarian ships are retreating," Harry said, looking up from the operations console.

"Tuvok, can you get a fix?" Chakotay asked.

"They have just cloaked," Tuvok noted.

"Damn. Damage report?" Chakotay asked Ensign Kim, not happy they couldn't get those ships.

"Shields are down to 97%, minor damage to the starboard side from the initial attack, decks 8 and 9. Repair crews have been dispatched," Kim said, getting a nod from Chakotay who scratched the back of his head.

"Sickbay to Bridge."

"Go ahead, Doctor," Chakotay said.

"Jerran and the Captain are gone."


The Captain rematerialized in her quarters, still cocooned in Jerran's strong embrace. She looked up into Jerran's concerned eyes, instinctively feeling she could trust her. After and indulgent moment, Captain Janeway reluctantly pushed away from the embrace and the temptingly pleasurable sensation. Jerran sighed with disappointment at the continued rejection.

"Will it always be like that, between us?" Janeway asked and cleared her throat, trying to regain control of the situation, though unable to look Jerran in the eye just yet.

"It could be much more," Jerran said softly, hoping to convince her Oben to allow it.

The doors to her quarters opened, startling them as Tuvok and two Voyager security guards rushed in with their phasers drawn. Seven followed closely behind.

"Captain, are you all right?" He asked, looking at her as the guards trained their phasers on Jerran.

Before Janeway could respond, Seven was upon Jerran, easily lifting and slamming her against the wall.

"Seven!" Janeway called out in shock as Tuvok sighed. Seven's Borg strength could easily kill if she was not careful. And right now, Seven was not inclined to be careful.

Jerran, only startled a moment by the unexpected attack, broke free and tossed the surprised Astrometrics officer across the room as if she were a rag doll, causing Kathryn to gasp with concern. As Jerran stepped towards her opponent ready to fight, Kathryn yelled. "STOP! Both of you!!" Jerran immediately stopped and looked at her Oben and lowered her head respectfully.

Though his guards trained their phasers on the Granarian, Tuvok surmised Seven was more of a concern at the moment.

Seven was furious - at the Granarian, for this bond, and her loss of control.

"Are you all right?" Kathryn asked Seven as she slowly got up with as much dignity as she could salvage.

"Yes. I. . . I apologize, Captain," she said uncomfortably. "I was upset with your disappearance," she said, eyeing Jerran with distrust.

"Jerran was protecting me by beaming me away from Sickbay," Kathryn explained evenly, eyeing each of the guards, who relaxed slightly and slowly lowered their weapons after a nod from Tuvok.

"I did not know," Seven allowed, her jaw clenched tightly. "I apologize for attacking you, Jerran," she added with difficulty, knowing that would be required.

Jerran looked between the tall blond and her Oben curiously, then genuinely smiled. "You thought I had endangered your mate. I would expect no less," Jerran offered, causing Kathryn's annoyed glare at Seven to fade into worry as she abruptly turned towards Jerran.

"Seven is not my mate," Janeway corrected quickly.

"But . . . " Jerran said with mild confusion, her smile fading under the stern glare from her Oben. "Yes, Oben."

Seven's ocular implant rose with interest at the Taak's observation and Janeway's reaction.

"Captain, what happened in Sickbay?" Tuvok asked, his Vulcan patience wearing thin.

"The ship took a hit and we had some armed boarders beam into Sickbay. Jerran beamed us out."

"I was not aware she still retained that capability," he said, eyeing the Granarian with a raised brow.

"Good thing she did," Kathryn smiled at Jerran, who smiled back. "I guess our random temperature sensor monitoring plan didn't exactly discourage them."

"No. Ensign Roden was killed," Tuvok said, causing Seven to feel responsible. Her efforts had failed to protect the crew.

Janeway's head dropped sadly and nodded. "Seven, how's the shielding modification work coming along?"

"Not quickly enough, apparently," Seven said with frustration, eyeing Jerran suspiciously, then dropping her eyes. What else was Jerran hiding from them, she wondered.

"Patience, Seven. You'll get it," Kathryn said confidently, reaching out to briefly squeeze her forearm. Seven nodded weakly, feeling mildly appeased.

With a subtle nod from Tuvok, two guards went to inspect Jerran for missed devices.

"Is that really necessary?" Janeway mildly protested.

"Captain, we can not afford to miss any other technology that could harm you," Tuvok said.

"Jerran wouldn't . . . ," Janeway immediately responded, then sighed, knowing he was just doing his job. "Jerran, would you please hand over the device that allows you to transport?" Janeway asked.

"As you wish, Oben," Jerran said, taking her jacket and a decorative ear clip off, surprising everyone.

"Is that everything you need for transport?" Kathryn asked, getting a nod from Jerran, who handed the items to the guard.

"Does she still have any weapons?" Tuvok asked, his pointed brow raised.

"Jerran?" Kathryn asked wearily, getting a frown from the Taak, who took off her other earing then started to take off her clothes. "Jerran, wh . . . why are you undressing," Kathryn said uncomfortably, interrupting Jerran's disrobing. "Please stop."

"You wished to have all my weapons. I can use my belt to strangle, my boots to bludgeon, my clothes to suffocate," Jerran said defiantly, eyeing Seven, who stared back with a neutral mask on her face.

"However, I can not surrender my body to anyone unless you tell me to," Jerran said, bowing her head in deference.

"Why would I . . . ," Kathryn said with confusion.

"I know many ways to kill without weapons. My body can be considered a weapon, Oben," Jerran said seriously.

"That I don't doubt," Kathryn muttered under her breath, feeling decidedly warm and cleared her throat. "Tuvok, are you satisfied?" Janeway asked with irritation.

"At the moment," he said. "I will escort Jerran back to Sickbay."

"Like hell you will," Janeway countered, surprising all with her vehemence.

"Captain?" Tuvok asked.

"When a Taak is parted from her Oben, there is physical pain. The Doctor can fill you in on how we found that out today. I will not subject her to that pain again," Kathryn said, looking at Jerran intently in silent promise.

The Taak lowered her eyes with relief. Even if her Oben did not accept her service, she at least cared about her, Jerran considered. Some Taaks were not so lucky....

"Then you should have a guard," Tuvok said, almost getting an argument from his Captain, who took a breath. But she exhaled with frustration, knowing it was prudent, even if she believed it unnecessary.

"Very well," Kathryn said. Tuvok noted her eyes drifted to Seven.

"Would you still be agreeable with Seven continuing to fulfill that role?" Tuvok immediately asked, causing Seven to break her observation of Jerran to look at Tuvok with surprise. She glanced at the Captain, who looked conflicted. With difficulty, Seven remained silent, not wanting to dissuade the Captain from agreeing with any words that might annoy her.

Kathryn briefly looked at Jerran, then Seven with a feeling this was going to be another long night without sleep. "As long as she refrains from attacking Jerran for no reason," Kathryn said to Tuvok then eyed Seven, who was pleased with her Captain's decision.

"I assure you, Captain. If I attack Jerran again, there will be sufficient reason," Seven said, surprised to find Jerran lower her head, fighting what looked like an amused smile.

"Seven . . . ," the Captain said with exasperation.

"I will comply with your wishes, Captain," Seven amended, getting a skeptical look from Kathryn, who seemed to carefully weigh her words.

"All right," Janeway finally said, getting a nod from Seven.

Jerran watched the two women curiously. There was an unmistakable connection between them. Yet neither showed any overt indication of it, the Taak considered and sighed, wondering if she would ever understand these people.


"What's this?" B'Elanna asked, accepting the bundle Tuvok handed her in the holodeck.

"Jerran's jacket and a piece of her jewelry. She says these items enabled her to transported the Captain to her quarters," Tuvok said.

"But didn't you already have your security team scan her stuff?" she asked, curiously looking the items over.

"Yes. And the technology was apparently missed. Please scan them again. It should be helpful now that we know what technology to look for," Tuvok said, almost testily, she thought curiously. Vulcans did not normally indulge in that reaction. He must be really pissed, she concluded.

"I'll get Vorik to do that right away."

"Are the shield modifications finished?" Tuvok asked.

"The simulation was successful. When Seven returns, I'll start implementing the changes."

Tuvok's eyebrow rose thoughtfully. "You will need to find another to help you."


"Seven is currently guarding the Captain and will be occupied for the foreseeable future."

"I'll bet," she said with a smirk. Tuvok sighed.

"It is a prudent course of action since Jerran will be staying with the Captain for the foreseeable future."

"What?!? Did she suddenly realized having a slave is not so bad??"

"You will do well not to make any more critical remarks about the Captain," Tuvok cautioned, then added. "One might think your shooting her was not an accident."

B'Elanna frowned. "Why would she do that, Tuvok?"

"When Jerran is parted from the Captain, she experiences pain which is apparently ensures that the Taak does not escape. It is also an effective tool for punishment, which the Captain does not wish to inflict."

"How is that possible?"

"The Captain and Jerran have a "blood bond," which causes a variety of reactions."

"So dropping Jerran off at a nice planet and wishing her good luck isn't such a good plan, huh?" B'Elanna asked, scratching her cheek with a sigh, concerned for how the former Borg was taking this news.


B'Elanna nodded. "I'll get Harry to help with the modifications."


Kathryn paced in her quarters as she thought about what to do now. It really was quite straight-forward, fix the Jerran problem, get the ship out of Granarian territory, continue on to the Alpha quadrant, and convince Seven to milk a cow. Simple, except for the milking the cow part, she thought wryly. Stopping her pacing suddenly, she surprised the two women, who had been silently watching her.

"Jerran?" Kathryn asked.

"Yes, Oben?" Jerran piped up, her eager-to-please attitude grating on Seven's nerves.

"Have you ever been free?" The Captain asked.

"I do not understand," Jerran asked.

"Are you born bonded to someone?" Seven asked, getting a look of gratitude from the Captain, who was pleased Seven understood her line of questioning.

"No. We are del' Taaks until puberty, when we must bond," Jerran said tightly.

"Would you two please sit down? My neck is getting sore," Kathryn said, rubbing her neck as she eyed the two tall women, who looked at each other briefly before they sat.

"What happens if you are not bonded at puberty?" Seven continued.

"We must be bonded," Jerran countered.

"Is it a law?" Seven asked.

"No. It is what is needed to live," Jerran said in frustration, looking between the two women. "Your doctor knows this."

"The Taaks have never sought their freedom from this physical bond?" The Captain asked, finding it hard to believe a group of people would just accept the enslavement.

"Why would we seek that which would kill us?" Jerran said with frustration.

"If no Taak has ever sought their freedom, how do you know you can not be freed? Has any medical research ever been done?" The Captain asked.

"I . . . ," she sputtered. "Death will occur if a Taak is separated too long from their Oben," she said uneasily, looking at her Oben with worry.

"Jerran," Kathryn sighed. "I would not do anything to cause you pain."

Jerran looked at her Oben sharply, then let her gaze drop tiredly, Seven noted curiously.

"We do have an excellent Doctor on board looking into this. If anyone can figure out how to give you back your freedom, he can," Kathryn said confidently.

"But Oben . . . ," Jerran said, getting a curious look from Kathryn. "As you wish," she said, in what Seven thought a defeated tone, bowing her head in submission.

"We should all get some rest. Tomorrow, we'll attack this problem with a fresh set of eyes and minds!" Kathryn said with a smile, getting up. Jerran quickly stood. Seven's ocular implant rose and the former Borg stood as well.

"The sofa should be comfortable enough for you, Jerran. I've even slept there a few times."

"Yes, Oben," Jerran said weakly, still bothered by her Oben's words.

"Captain," Kathryn corrected with a small smile.

"Captain," Jerran repeated, bowing her head.

"Uh . . . Seven?" Kathryn asked uneasily, looking around her suddenly small quarters. What if Seven needed to sleep? Kathryn wondered with concern, having lost track of her regeneration schedule.

Jerran watched the two women curiously. They always seemed to be cautious and guarded in their interactions, she noted.

"I do not require regeneration. I will review the progress on the shielding modifications and provide comments to LT Torres," Seven offered, glancing to the Captain's computer terminal.

Kathryn smiled with relief. "I'm sure she'll appreciate them. I'll see you in a few hours."

When Kathryn retired to her bedroom, Seven watched Jerran sit down dejectedly. "Do you require nourishment?" Seven asked, surprising the Taak.


Seven eyed her curiously and stated "You do not agree with the Captain's desire for your freedom."

Jerran looked up at the blond with surprise. Her eyes immediately lowered. "I do as my Oben wishes."

"Even if you do not agree?" Seven pressed.

"I do not question my Oben's wisdom."

"The Captain is not infallible. To make informed decisions, she frequently requires input from others. Especially on matters with which she is unfamiliar, like Taaks and Obens."

Jerran eyed the blond before lowering her eyes again. "A Taak does not question their Oben's wisdom."

"If she succeeds in freeing you from the bond, what would you do?" Seven asked.

Jerran looked up at her. "Whatever pleases my Oben."

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