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Confessions

PikeFan

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 3014

Report this Apr. 05 2008, 10:40 pm

Confessions

Rank hath its privileges, Annette Li Higarashi thought, smiling inwardly, at least seniority does.
¿Captain Higarashi,¿ the speaker for the prosecution addressed, ¿Isn¿t it true one must strictly adhere to Federation law.¿
¿There are instances where the Federation and the Fleet both fail,¿ she replied thoughtfully, ¿Everyone hailed Kirk as a hero, a visionary, and all that. Does anyone remember he was permanently demoted to Captain? He was let off lightly beacause he saved Earth.
¿I concede that rules are, of course, rules, but I can certainly sympathize with the Maquis. They weren¿t against Starfleet and/or the Federation. They felt they had to help themselves.
¿If I were still an ambassador, I would have voted against the lay of the Cardassian Neutral Zone, we should¿ve included our people,  all our people, we had no right chasing them from their homes. This is our own fault if we would¿ve saved our own they would never have felt alienated.
¿One more thing,¿ she stood and looked to the commission she had sat with, ¿if you sentence these people, you must sentence me as well. I helped the Maquis.¿
Beside her, Doctor Zevec who held two positions at this meeting: one as a representative of the Rhaandi Remnants, the other as head of Starfleet Psychological Institute, gasped. ¿Captain!¿ she practically shrieked.
¿I did. I¿m not afraid to say it. I don¿t care what the repercussions are any more. They helped us stop the Cardassians,¿ she shook her ankle-length black hair as she spoke. Her brown eyes blazed with fire.
¿Sit,¿ Admiral William Ross commanded, ¿I agree with Captain Higarashi. I think they didn¿t want to rebel, they needed to save their homes. I will not deny these people their future, those who want to re-enlist will. On one condition, they must accept the Federation.¿
¿Admiral, you can not deny that their dissidence needs to be punished,¿ a female Vulcan with black hair and bold blue eyes stated.
¿They¿ve punished themselves enough,¿ Ross concluded.
Finally, after three days of silence as to her opinion, Zevec made her position known, ¿Even though Captain Higarashi¿s declaration surprised me, I must agree.¿
¿All who agree to dismiss all charges against the Maquis, say aye,¿ the leader cut the other comments off.
Seven of the ten members said aye.
¿Your opinions have been noted. Company dismiss,¿ the leader concluded.
¿Higarashi, my office ASAP,¿ Ross commanded.
The group filed out, the council followed.

"Admiral," Higarashi greeted as she entered Ross' office.
"Annette," Ross smiled wanly from his desk, "You know I can't let your little admission go by without talking to you."
She closed the distance between the door and the desk as she spoke. "Aye, sir. I did what I felt was right at the time. I just regret losing Voyager. I helped them find Chakotay's ship."
"Through a Maquis contact?"
"Yes."
"Name," demanded Ross.
"I don't remember..."
"You've heard that said before. I know Ambassador Spock isn't here to drag the information from you, but please, as an old friend, as your former first officer, tell me Annette," he pleaded, his eyes growing soft.
"Bill, don't please."
"Nothing will happen to the informant, I promise," he reached across the desk to grab her hand in silent promise.
"B'Elana Torres."
"How did you meet her?"
"She was in Montgomery's engineering class, until she dropped out," sadness clouded her eyes as she spoke the name of her imsad Montgomery Scott.
"Aye. I didn't mean to bring that up."
"I... am dealing with that sir."

Nearly a year ago, in the Badlands, Montgomery Scott had been aboard her ship the Undaunted when the Cardassians attacked while she was searching for Voyager and Chakotay's Maquis ship. Scott and Higarashi had been in Engineering together looking over the warp core when three Cardassians stormed into the room. One raised a disrupter and fired on Scott. As he melted into non existance he screamed out in agony then said he loved her. Without thought for her own safety, she ordered everyone out of Engineering and in one swift motion reached the One that had killed her husband. She grabbed him, one hand on his neck, the other one on his shoulder and, summoning all of her Rhaandarite stregth, ripped the Cardassian in two. She hissed with a fury she had never felt before as she went after the retreating Cardassians. She managed to kill both with only her hands. Before she knew what she was doing she put a blood soaked hand to her lips and licked off bitter, cold fluid away. A low growl escaped her throat as she turned to the place she had last seen Montgomery, nothing remained. As if she were Klingon she raised her head and howled with her anger and pain. Returning to herself she sank to the floor. She lightly tapped her combadge, "Mirek you have the conn, Cardies..." she murmured as her emotions crested and put her to sleep.

Nine Years later.... Earth

Kathryn Janeway was dead. She had been taken by the Borg. Annette Higarashi joined the group of mourners at Janeway's home in Indiana. The house was packed with friends and family. A holo-image of a smiling Janeway stood near a large bay window. Some of the mourners began filing out. Higarashi would soon join them, she was receiving one of the new Luna class ships, at this time she didn't know which one. In fact she didn't even know if she wanted the ship. She was tiring of command, the strain was beginning to show prematurely, for a Rhaandarite, her face was etched with fine lines. The only good thing was the Borg was finally gone, at least it seemed that way.
From out of the crowd, a bronze colored hand grabbed Higarashi¿s arm and with some intensity, pulled her close.
¿Annette,¿ Chakotay began.
¿Yes,¿ she shook her arm free.
¿Sorry I grabbed so tight, the crowd¿ Anyway I want to thank you for helping us.¿
¿You shouldn¿t thank me.¿
¿Why not?¿
¿I helped Voyager find you.¿
¿Why?¿
¿I don¿t know,¿ she flushed, ¿I sensed you were in danger.¿
¿How could you ¿sense¿ that?¿
¿The Borg assimilated us at the same time. I was to be their new queen, until I was able to block them with my own telepathic prowess.¿
¿Are you Li?¿
¿Yes, and you were the one I named Chaw-ki, it means forbidden one in Rhaandarite. I separated you from the rest of the Borg, they could not assimilate you fully.¿
¿Then I need to thank you twice. Voyager changed me in a great way. Perhaps we could have dinner some time?¿
¿Chakotay, I¿m a hundred and seven years older than you.¿
¿It doesn¿t matter,¿ he smiled, ¿I call you my ally. If age hinders you it is your own shortcoming.¿
Higarashi smiled, ¿Never mind that then. I¿ll see you tonight 2100 the caf¿ near the Academy building.¿
"Excellent," Chakotay returned her smile.
"I have to go see about my new ship, I'll see you later," she extended her hand.
A shadow crossed his face, "Yes later," he shook her hand.

"Congradulations Captain, the Triton is yours," Adrmiral Ross pointed out the shuttle craft's small window, to the majestic ship suspended in space dock.
"Thank you sir. I know it was you who kept me in the captain's seat, they've been wanting to promote me for years."
"In that way you're like Kirk, you're not happy being stagnet."
Higarashi smiled at Ross, "Once more into the frontier old friend?"
Ross smiled back, "Once more. Your crew roster is ready once you get aboard, but I know you, you'll want to see engineering first."
The shuttle gracefully docked into the grand new ship. The hatch opened and Higarashi stepped out first. Some of her old crew had returned, she noticed Zevec, her long red hair up in a Federation style, standing in the councillor's position next to a Doctor who seemed vaguely familiar, Commander David Ashlund stood next to Commander Katerina Valek, and finally Klarg, the Klingon tactical officer with his new commanders pips in place.
Ross introduced the only new face there, Doctor Azel, a Denobulan.
As custom Higarashi knew Azel wouldn't want to shake hands so she bowed her head to him, "Welcome aboard Doctor."
"Thank you sir, and if I may add, it's an honor to serve with you," he surprised her by extending a hand, she took it gently.
Higarashi went to Ashlund and clapped him on the back, "How does it feel to be my first officer?"
"Um.. I'm not Captain," he blushed.
She looked to Ross, "Then whom did you appoint to be my first officer?"
A devilish smile played his lips, "Commander Chakotay."
"Oh, in any case... Why isn't he here?"
"I know how much static you give your first officers when they are new and I thought I'd give him time to prepare for you."
Feigning innocence Higarashi responded, "Me.. never. Ash?"
"Still proud to be chief engineer," Ashlund commented, "I suppose you want to see our new engines, huh, Captain?"
"Of course! Lead the way Ash," Higarashi grinned tossing a wave to Ross as he left.

Ashlund led her out into the new coridoor, different from the Titan she had viewed during it's construction, these walls were slightly slanted. An alert status bank was placed in the center of the walls and above those computer consoles spaced evenly apart. The floor was covered with dark brown carpeting, Higarashi silently felt sorry for the cleaning crew.
"We took the liberty of making our own coridoor designs. Seemed larger this way. You can use those console to do almost anything," Ashlund informed.
"It does seem inviting," she touched the light brown wall to her left, "Nice colors, quite soothing."
"I knew you'd like that Cap," he replied switching to his playful nickname for her, since they were alone.
Higarashi smiled at him. Not so long ago Ashlund had been closed off and testy. His wife had been assimilated. Higarashi shuddered thinking of the Borg.
Sensing her shudder, Ashlund frowned, "You thought about them didn't you?"
"Can't help it. I don't know what affected me worse the Cardies or the Borg."
"Cardies..." Ashlund snickered at her Maquis phrase.
"Hush," she, too, laughed as they walked into engineering.
The room was full of faces she had never seen before. She recognized almost one of every species, she liked diversities. The diversity aspect of her life was a direct result of being with Sohlar, no matter how brief their marriage was before his death. Infinte Diversity in Infinte Combinations.
Ashlund introduced her to the few who weren't as busy as the rest. Higarashi noted their faces and names as best as her mind could. She was destracted by the thought, today was her one hundred and fifty-seventh birthday. She remembered Dr. Boyce's words, She'll be paralyzed on her left side by one hundred fifty... she had made it seven more years, partly thanks to Dr. Soong, he had constructed a cybernetic leg for her. She shook her head, to rid herself of the forboding feeling she had.
Looking to her chronometer she found it was 2037... she would be late for her meeting with Chakotay, her new first officer, she half smiled to herself.
"Can we continue this later Ash, I have a meeting back on Earth," Higarashi suddenly announced as she inspected the new warp core.
"No problem Cap," Ashlund smiled, "I'll be here, no where else to go."
"Thanks Ash, see you later."

Arriving at the Academy Cafe twenty minutes late, Higarshi expected Chakotay to be gone, but there he was, at a corner table, his soulful brown eyes looking out at the passing shuttles and foot traffic, lost in thought.
Higarashi walked up to him, "Sorry to have kept you waiting, I was inspecting engineering."
"Huh," he came back to the world and looked up at her, "That's fine Captain."
Higarashi pionted to her simple pantsuit, "I'm not on duty Annette will be fine."
"OK," he seemed a million miles away.
"What's on your mind?"
"Kathryn. I miss her so badly."
"I understand you two were... close."
"Yes, before her death we were lovers," he admitted.
"Ah," she sat across from him, "Lost a few myself. It never gets any easier."
"At least you could tear apart the one who killed your love."
"I regret that act Chakotay. It scares me to think of what I did."
"What's so wrong with it."
"I acted like a beast, after I tore the Cardie in half I licked his blood off my finger tips and howled like a wolf," she lowered her head in shame.
"If I would've been there I would've done that same thing for Kathryn."
"Let's stop this depressing talk. I hear you're my new first officer."
"I am, and I've heard how hard you are on your firsts."
"I'm not as bad as the legend preceeds. New recruits I can tear to shreds, but more seasoned ones aren't treated so rough."
A waitress brought them both a salad and water.
"Hope you don't mind that I ordered for you. I asked them to hold off until you came."
"No problem at all."
"Hope you don't mind salad, I'm a vegatarian," he admitted.
"So am I," she smiled and reassuringly touched his hand as it rested on the table. He seemed uneasy at first, then turned his palm up to squeeze her hand. Slowly the hands parted.
Comfortably they chatted.
"I remember a young Chakotay who dreamed of the stars, what happened to him?"
Reminded of the fact they had met years ago the same time Captain Sulu had met him brightened his face, "That's right you were with Captain Sulu weren't you?"
Higarashi nodded, "I was."
"He's still here. A bit weary, but here."
"I know what you mean," she took a drink.
"You're getting weary. With your Rhaandarite blood I thought you'd never tire."
"I'm half human," she replied, still touchy about being refered to as an alien, "I'm starting to go through Rhaandarite midlife. I don't know what to expect, there are no other's like me in the universe."
"You don't have siblings? Your bio says you do."
"They have all died," she bowed her head, "They're children were all mixed with other races. My nefew Myral is three quaters Rhaandarite, and M.J.'s children were half Vulcan."
"What about your children?"
"James is enough human not to be at all affected by his Rhaandarite quarter. And T'Fer and Sorek are Vulcan enough to handle it. I just don't know how I will."
"I've heard enough to know you'll be fine," Chakotay smiled sweetly at her, his dimples clearly showing.
She winked at him, "With you as my first I know I have no worries."
Both of their combadges chirped at the same time. In unison they replied.
"Report to Triton immediately," both combadges contained Commander David Ashlund's urgent voice.
"On my way," they said in unison.
Chakotay paid for dinner as Higarashi set up emergency transport for both of them.

Both shimmered onto the bridge. Ashlund couldn't help but grin at the site of the two in civilian clothing.
"What's so funny Commander?" Chakotay asked.
Higarashi waved her hand to silence the banter, "What's going on Ash?"
"Starfleet has detected another skirmish at the Badlands. This time on a planet we've never explored."
Chakotay tensed. Higarashi felt his emotions, she thought to him soothingly, Nothing bad will happen to you, I promise.
Not used to telepathic talk Chakotay looked at her curiously. Ignoring his reaction, she gestured for him to join her at the new captain and first officer's chairs. They looked like a love seat, knowing Ashlund had done that as a joke, she shot him a dirty look, he just grinned. Higarashi sat on the right side, Chakotay on the left. Nothing separating them, but neither minded. Higarashi quickly read the information Ashlund provided, then forwarded the information to Chakotay, who pulled on his earlobe as he read.
"Ensign..." she sought for the name but couldn't find it, "Set a course for the Badlands warp 5."
"Aye sir," the Vulcan complied, "I am Suren."
"Thank you Suren, I shall not forget again," Higarashi informed. Turning to Chakotay, "Commander in my ready room."
As one they went to the aft of the ship between tactical and communications.
As soon as the door closed, Chakotay whirled on her, "You have no right to read my mind without my consent!"
"I didn't read it Commander. I learned discipline to prevent that as a child. I mearly sent you a message. I thought it prudent to say it in private to preserve your position as first officer. I apologize for offending you so strongly, but I also thank you for waiting to comment."
"Sorry Captain, I've never liked the idea of reading minds without full consent."
"I've never been in the practice of it. Though I admit there are times overwhelming thoughts can invade my mind, if that happens I'll let you know."
Sighing Chakotay planted himself across from Higarashi at her desk, "I'm sorry I reacted that way. Anyway, can we get on with this."
"Come over here and look at the crew roster. Choose your away team before we arrive."
Unlike Janeway, Higarashi didn't move, but allowed Chakotay to lean against her back to read over her shoulder. At first it was no problem for Higarashi, she had all of her firsts do that, but something about his warm breath on her neck unnerved her. She shifted her head a little further away, Chakotay, engrossed in reading, never noticed.
"Looks like a perfect task for you actually, diplomatic, engineering, even temperature. You adjust well."
"I'd love to go, but this time I want to see what you and the crew can do."
Stepping away and looking out the window to the retreating Earth a moment as he thought the away team grouping over. Turning back he said, "All right. Don't take this as a personal preference, but I saw Tom Paris on your roster, I'd like to take him as a pilot. Councillor Zevec, she has diplomatic expierience. And an engineer, which one do you suggest, they all seem qulified enough?"
Without hesitation, Higarashi responded, "Commander Valek, she's fast with her hands. If your suits malfunction I wouldn't trust anyone else to patch them up."
"Good idea. I'll announce it and develope crew rotation."
"Put lieutenants Se'Vrell and Te'Mar together, they're mates and work best together, apart they are almost worthless."
"Ah, thanks for the hint," with that he went to the other side of her desk to sit.
"Anything else commander?"
He smiled gently, "I had ulterior motives when I asked you to dine with me, but I guess that has to be pushed aside."
"You, ulterior motives. Why, Mr. Chakotay I didn't think you'd do something like that! As long as it doesn't affect the crew I don't see why we can't court, I've done it before. It may take a lot of restraint, but it is possible," she smiled broadly at him. She leaned across the desk and touched his cheek lightly, "I sense your emotions when I touch you, how strange."
"That's never happened to before?"
"Only once," she pulled her hand away, her brown eyes clouded with pain.
Chakotay took her hand and traced the tattoo on his forehead with it, "Read all you want."
She felt he had the same sorrow as she did and the regret of letting love go passed them for so long. She took her hand away and searched his eyes. To her surprise, his eyes didn't look at her curves with lust, or her lined face with disgust, all she saw was him looking back into her eyes, as if he was trying to read her soul.
Without breaking the gaze Higarashi spoke first, "We need to get our uniforms on."
"I think it can wait," Chakotay walked around her desk to rub her sore shoulders, "But only a moment," he whispered.
"You don't know how long it's been since I even let a man touch this way, I haven't wanted any kind of romance since Montie's death. It seemed to hard," she moaned when he found the biggest knot at the nape of her neck.
"Years of command in one place," she heard the laugh in his voice as he spoke. He worked until all of her muscles were soft again.
"Ok back to duty," she announced. "And I promise a neck rub for you later," there was a hint of flirtation in her voice.
"I'll be waiting," he flirted back.

Alone her quarters Higarashi reflected on what had just happened. She remembered her dream from years ago...

Annette Li Higarashi was on an ice planet, being Rhaandarite and able to adapt to changing weather, she had no need to wear an environmental suit. Why she was here she couldn't fathom. She looked around her, trying to see anything familiar. She had been on an ice planet before, Rigel 10, that time she had been forced to wear a suit. She looked up to see a starless sky, only she and the snow. Looking out she saw a dark figure. She rushed through the snow toward it.
Reaching the figure it turned. Frost covered features greeted her, she heard a moan, "Annette," the figure croaked.
It's eyes were unreadable, cold had claimed them. He had full lips, but they were blue from cold.
She reached for him, she must save him.
Suddenly he was gone, as if he were beamed away, but she hadn't heard the familiar sounds of transport or see it's light.
That was when she had awakened...

She realized that was another predicting dream, almost a hundred years early, but it was true nonetheless. How could she let Chakotay take a team down to this new planet knowing this? It was futile to resist Starfleet, she had tried before they didn't believe in predicting dreams.
Ignoring the pain that nipped at her, she unpacked all of her things carefully. Instead of putting a holoimage of Montgomery next to her bed, she put it next to her computer console next to one of Sohlar and Admiral Pavel Chekov. She was not in the habit of dating much younger men, but Chekov's tenderness and trueness toward her had melted the icy veneer years ago. Could Chakotay do the same now? Make the pain of losing Montgomery again, this time forever with no way to bring him back, go away?
Becoming professional again she hung her family's tartan, then the Scott family tartan, and Sohlar's family symbols in a row, to remind her who she was and who she had been. Cadets she had known also donned her walls in order of graduation date. Few family holos any more, it pained her too much, but her twin M.J. always had a place nearest the tartans.
She took a quick sonic shower and reemereged in her uniform and her hair was back in regulation style. Again Annette Higarashi was fully captain, pips in place. Looking back at her room once more she left for the bridge.

Chakotay finished his vision quest, he already had his quarters set up. As Annette had done, he moved Kathryn's holoimage from his bedside to his desk. The quest hadn't helped him understand his attraction to Higarashi, she was like a strong magnet and he was tritanium. He went to take his own sonic shower. He reemerged once again in his uniform with real Federation commanders pips, no loger just Chakotay, but Commander Chakotay. Running a hand through his black hair, he took a deep breath and set off for the bridge.

The command team entered about the same time, Higarashi was about to step up to the Command area as Chakotay exited the lift.
Again Higarashi sat on the right, Chakotay on the left.
"Any changed Mister Suren?" Higarashi requested.
"None sir, it looks like we will not pass any ships or anything interesting," Suren responded promptly.
"Ash, would you care if the first officer joins us on our tour?" Higarashi inquired.
"Not a problem Cap," Ashlund replied.
Chakotay spoke up uncertainly, "Isn't that disrespect to call you Cap?"
"No Chakotay, many members of my former crews called me Cap. I had a habit of shortening names during the Dominion War."
"Oh, my apologies Commander," Chakotay nodded to Ashlund.
Activating the lift to go to Engineering, Ashlund turned to Chakotay, "Not a problem sir, if you'd like, you can call me Ash."
"That will take some getting used to."
"I'll tell you what I'm not used to," Higarashi fumed, "not being able to finish my inspection before setting off."
"I know Cap, sorry. Fleet said it was urgent. For some reason they chose us," Ashlund replied.
Smiling as she responded, "I know it's not your fault Ash. I was just complaining."
Chakotay stood back and listened to the banter, Higarashi was unlike any Captain, unlike any woman, he had ever known. This should be interesting.
Silently the trio entered engineering. Chakotay's eyes went right to the new green warp core.
"Green warp core?" he wondered outloud.
"Increases energy. More dilithium... engineering stuff," Ashlund replied off-handedly.
"I see," Chakotay looked to Higarashi.
"Yes it was my idea," she replied as if reading his mind, but she wasn't.
Knowing the difference now he knew she was only being intuitive. They toured the rest of engineering with only minor explanations, Chakotay had read up on new technology since his return to the Alpha Quadrant two years ago. Higarashi had helped design her own ships frequently and was, after all, an engineer.
Parting company with Ashlund, Higarashi squeezed his arm affectionately, "Glad to have you aboard as my engineer Ash. Keep up the good work."
Chakotay bristled a bit at her display, but swallowed it back, "Thanks Com..." he stopped then said, "Ash."
Alone now, Higarashi turned to Chakotay, "I hear your a fair boxer, with all this spare time before we reach the Badlands, want to spar?"
"I could never strike a woman," he said immediately.
"Ah come on. I'll go easy on you."
Shaking his head, he pulled his earlobe, "I don't think it would be appropriate to strike my captain either."
Playfully punching his arm, Higarashi smiled, "Oh come on."
"Perhaps another time."
"Spoil sport," she laughed, "Do you want to see the rest of the ship?"
"I'd be delighted."

Once the command team got to the holodeck, were Higarashi was showing Chakotay the new controls, Ensign Suren called them both.
"Here," they responded in unison.
"We have reached the planet designation: Omni four."
Again in unison, "On my way."
Chakotay called his away team on the way.
They reentered the bridge together and immediatly looked at the ice covered planet.
Chakotay shivered, "I'm glad I'll be wearing an environmental suit."
Valek, Paris, and Zevec arrived shortly.
Paris stood next to Chakotay, "We definately need those enviro suits. It looks downright frigid."
"It is," Klarg practically growled from tactical.
Katerina Valek looked at Zevec, "She's the lucky one, no suit!"
"I think she should wear one anyway. There may be environmental factors Rhaandarites can't handle," Higarashi commanded, "Get to work."
The away team left together.

Chakotay, clad in an environmental suit, led Commanders Tom Paris and Katerina Valek, Councillor Zevec walked beside him. Walking oddly in their suits, they entered the place the Omni ambassador asked them to meet.
"Greeeeetings," the ambassador said with an elongated 'e' sound.
"Greetings, " Chakotay responded, indicating each as he spoke, "This is Zevec, Tom Paris, and Katerina Valek."
"So good to see you all," again with elongated vowels again, I am Laant."
Not knowing exactly how to say his name, Zevec pronounced it exactly as he had said it, "Laant, we were given little information about your situation, can you elaborate."
Chakotay shot her a dirty look, he didn't like her taking over for him. Zevec, as usual, ignored his look. Zevec looked at Laan curiously, no doubt sensing his thoughts without wanting to. Omnians seemed too easy to read. It appeared they had their own telepathic abilities.
That's right Zevec, Laant hissed in her mind with his elongated vowels, I can read your mind as well as you can read mine.
"Commander I believe-" Zevec began, Chakotay silence her with a glare.
"We were informed that you had warming units malfunctioning. How can we assist?" Chakotay asked.
Laant led the away team to their Engine room, then showed them the problem.
Chakotay looked to Commander Katerina Valek, "See what you can here, Commander. Let me know if we need anything from the ship. I'll check in with Captain Higarashi."
Stepping away from the group working Chakotay tapped his combadge, " Commander Chakotay to Captain Higarashi."
"Higarashi here, Commander," she replied, all of the playfullness he had heard earlier was gone, only a captain's business -like tone remained.
"Captain, there is a malfunction in one of their warming tanks, Valek is working on it now. I think something is going on between Zevec and Laant, they are staring at each other strangely."
"Acknowledged, Commander. I'll contact Zevec."
"Acknowledged, Chakotay out," he rejoined the group.
"It is chilly, but tolerable. Perhaps taking off your suits will help you manipulate controls better," Laant suggested.
Reluctantly the team shed their suits.
Zevec's glare toward Chakotay could've melted the whole planet. He stiffened and his senses hightened. He knew she wanted to tell him something, maybe her misgivings about taking off their suits. Chakotay became more cautious, trusting the councillor's silent warning.
"Give me a hand with this Commander, you're stronger than I am," Valek requested.
Chakotay grabbed the spanner and wrench up, as he did, his head began to swim. He became confused. Dropping the spanner, he grabbed Valek, "Come on, B'Elanna, the Cardies are coming!"
Valek broke free, slapped her combadge and shouted, "Captain medical emergency beam Commander Chakotay to Sickbay!"
Valek also felt started feeling light headed. She swayed on her feet, Zevec caught her up easily.
In the mean time Chakotay had ripped off his combadge and ran out into the snow.
"Two to beam up," Zevec called slapping her combadge.
Captain Annette Higarashi met Zevec in the Transporter room.
"What's going on Ze?" she demanded.
"I do not know Annette. Chakotay and Kat seemed to just go crazy," Zevec answered.
"Where is Chakotay?" Higarashi asked when she didn't see mhim.
"He ran out into the snow."
Turning to the transporter technitian, she asked, "Can you get a lock on him?"
"Only his combadge sir, too much interference to find his life sign."
"I'm going down there," Higarashi declared stepping onto the transporter pads.
"Annette you can not! You do not know what will happen!" Zevec replied urgently.
"I will not leave a member of my crew to suffer," Higarashi said, a little more forcefully than she wanted to.
"Should I beam you down sir?" the tech asked.
"Energize."

The cold bit into Higarashi, her body adjusted slowly. She left the room without explaining or saying anything to anyone.
Once outside she shouted, "Chakotay!"
No response. She walked on. Occasionally she'd call for him. Soon the dream became true. She felt lost so, she looked around her, trying to see anything familiar. She looked up to see a starless sky, only she and the snow. Looking out she saw a dark figure. She rushed through the snow toward it.
Reaching the figure it turned. Frost covered features greeted her, she heard a moan, "Annette," the figure croaked.
It's eyes were unreadable, cold had claimed them. He had full lips, but they were blue from cold.
She reached for him, she must save him.
"Don't let the Cardie get in," he screamed, "Hide here with me."
"Chakotay, there are no Cardies here. Look at me, this is your Captain speaking, I am Annette Higarashi, do you recognize me?"
He reached up to touch her warm face, his touch was like ice. Higarashi scooped him up into her arms, he resisited. Chaw-ki, it's Li, I will save you. I will always protect you. Don't fight me.
Cardies, he thought back, coming... move away.. help me Li.
"Transporter room two to beam directly to sickbay."
"Captain, we can't get a good fix on you."
"Why not?" she asked angrily.
"Transporter inrterference. We'll work on it. Contact you when problem is corrected."
"Command Chakotay will die if you don't hurry," she snapped angrily.
"We're doing the best we can, Cap," that was Ashlund, he must've taken over, "Keep Chakotay warm with your own body heat."
Setting Chakotay back down gently, she did her best to fold her body around his, tucking his hands and face against her chest.
You smell like lilacs, he thought.
Good, focus on that Chaw-ki.  His blue hands groped for warmth, she put his hands inside her shirt. The cold at first was unbearable, but soon she warmed again, her stomach doubled its heat output.
Cardies, Li, they're everywhere,  he whispered in her mind.
"Focus on my voice Chaw-ki, there are no Cardassians here. We are alone, freezing, but alone."
"No Cardies?" he seemed shocked.
"No Cardies," she confirmed wrapping her hands around his face.
"Cap, ready to beam you to sickbay," without waiting for an answer, Ashlund beamed them away.
Doctor Azel was ready with warming  hypos, frostbite regenerators,  and heated blankets. What he wasn't ready for was seeing his commanding officer wrapped around the first officer, his hands in her shirt and her hands covering his face pressing him against her breasts. She quickly disengaged herself to let Azel take care of Chakotay.
"This will take a while Captain, you may want to go to the bridge," Azel told her.
Chakotay's hand came out of the heating blanket Azel had put on him, "Li..." he whispered.
"I can't leave him Doctor," she said taking his warming hand.
"Suit yourself, stand by his head so I can work."
Gently, Higarashi moved to Chakotay's head, bringing their locked hands with her.

Four hours later Chakotay awoke.
"What happened," he looked to his hand in Higarashi's then to Doctor Azel standing before him, he let Higarashi's hand go.
"Commander Valek was lucky, she just caught a virus. You however, get sever frostbite. You are off duty for the next three weeks, you are to come here everyday so I can heal your frost burned skin," Azel informed.
"But-" Chakotay began to protest.
"You heard the Doctor, Mister," she eyed him, "Ash can take over until you're ready to come back."
"First day on the job and I screw it up," Chakotay complained, he hated that he had failed.
Azel shook his head, "The environment down there, not good for humans, makes them hallucinate."
Higarashi helped Chakotay off the biobed and headed out.
As they walked down the coridoor, Chakotay said, "I failed you," his eyes got darker as he spoke.
"It was not your fault."
"Thanks,"
"I mean it. You did listen after I convinced you that we knew each other."
"I was listeneing until you put my freezing hands on your stomach," he blushed, " I meant that's when I passed out.."
"Don't feel bad, you're not the first man to say that," she laughed gently.
They entered his quarters, she tucked him in and kissed his forehead.
"Computer raise room temperature ten degrees," Higarashi commanded.
The computer chirped in reply.
She began to walk out.
"Thank you," Chakotay called.
"I'd do the same for anyone."
"Would you let them touch your bare stomach?"
She turned back to him, "Depends on the person," she smiled.
He patted the small bed beside him as he moved, "Sit, talk."
"I don't  think I should."
"Please? I don't want to be alone."
"Higarashi to Ashlund, you're in command."
"Aye sir," he responeded.
She sat beside Chakotay as he relaxed and layed on his back. "I'm actually very tired, do you have anything pressing to say," Higarashi asked him.
"You saved my life didn't you?"
"Yes," she replied modestly.
"You also entered my mind, how was I able to talk back to you,"
"I'm not actually sure myself. You weren't even trying. That's only happened once before too."
"Montgomery," he said knowingly.
"Yeah," she leaned against the headboard, "I can't believe how easy it is for me to let you inside. I've been shutting most people out."
"I'm not like anyone else."
"I know."
She began to drift to sleep, she slid down and her head layed on Chakotay's chest.
"Sleep my love," he whispered after he kissed her head. He too went to sleep.

At 0500 Annette Higarashi awoke out of habit. Seeing she was curled up to Chakotay, she jumped out of bed.
Her movement woke him. "Nothing happened. We were talking and you just fell sleep. Besides, I was under the covers, you were above. I wouldn't take advantage."
"Thank you," she leaned to kiss his tattoo, "It was the best night off sleep I've had in years."
"I'd better see Doctor Azel or he'll beat down the door. I don't think you want that."
"Not yet, Chakotay, but soon." she replied.
She left to go to her quarters. Why did I do that, she thought sas she entered her quarters. Then she got ready for her next day of duty.


Done April 5th, 2008. 1:50 AM.

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