RAVEN: VALHALLA AWAITS
                     
by cygirl1

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PART TWO

B’ELANNA

“Thursday’s child has far to go”

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CHAPTER ONE

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“Sensor’s show the Federation ship at five hundred kilometers and closing,” Tuvok said from the tactical station onboard the Maquis ship, Zola.

“We should be approaching the Badlands about now. Are you reading any plasma storms?” Chakotay asked from the helm where he was piloting the ship.

B’Elanna Torres, the Zola’s engineer, was seated on Chakotay’s right side at the engineering station and Tuvok was to his left.

Tuvok answered, “One. Coordinates 171 mark 43.”

“That’s where I’m going,” Chakotay said.

“They are firing phasers,” Tuvok said as the Zola shuddered, causing Ayala to grab hold of the console he was operating behind tactical and the helm.

“Shields at sixty percent. I am returning fire,” Tuvok coolly stated.

“The fuel line has ruptured. I‘m attempting to compensate,” B’Elanna Torres exclaimed excitingly as her fingers adroitly played on the engineering control pad.

“Be Creative. We‘re almost there,” Chakotay said earnestly.

“Damn. How can I be creative with a thirty-nine year old rebuilt engine? We‘re barely maintaining impulse,” B’Elanna said in a frustrated voice. She turned to Tuvok and ordered, “Take the weapons off line and transfer all power to the engines.”

Tuvok ignored B‘Elanna‘s command and quickly input data into the tactical keyboard.

“Tuvok, shut down all phaser banks, now!” shouted Chakotay

Tuvok abruptly stood, drew his phaser, pointing it at Chakotay, and ordered, “Shut down the impulse engine.”

Ayala suddenly jumped toward Tuvok, but the Vulcan’s reflexes were quicker, his phaser shooting forth an orange beam of energy catching the Maquis officer in mid-stride and causing him to drop to the deck, out cold. Chakotay was half way out of his seat when Tuvok turned the phaser on him and shot, sending the Maquis Captain tumbling onto the floor.

B’Elanna came out of her seat and was a few steps away when Tuvok turned the phaser on to her and quickly said, “I would not try that. You will surrender.”

She stopped and stood straight, glaring daggers at Tuvok, and spit out contemptuously, “taHqeq! You’re a damn Starfleet plant. I‘ll kill you for this.”

“Not today,” he said blandly.

He activated the comm system and the small viewscreen displayed an image of a Starfleet Captain with auburn hair in a bun, her hands on her hips, and the gaze from her blue-gray eyes, intense.

“Captain Janeway, I have secured the bridge. There are thirty-four Maquis on board this ship. I hesitate to issue an order for their surrender, as this would give them time to arm themselves. They will not give up this ship without a fight,” Tuvok informed his superior officer.

Captain Janeway acknowledged with a quick nod and said, “I’ll beam over security teams at various points on the ship and try and take them by surprise. What are the best coordinates to beam them to?”

Before he could answer, the bridge door slid open, and a Maquis came in. “Hey, what’s the delay…” He stopped in surprise as Tuvok swung the phaser around to cover him.

B’Elanna took the chance, launched herself at Tuvok, and screamed, “Code Black!” She hit Tuvok solidly in the chest with her body and grappled him around his waist, her momentum carrying them back to impact against the chair at tactical.

They tumbled to the floor and B’Elanna fell on him, quickly straddling his waist, trying to wrestle the phaser from his hand. Tuvok reached for her neck to try the nerve pinch, but B’Elanna evaded that by snapping her head forward and connecting her forehead with his nose, causing a splattering of green blood.

She reared back with her hands together, lifting her arms to pound him in the face, however, he had recovered and quickly whipped his hand forward, hitting her squarely in the face with the heel of his palm. She stilled for a second, her lip split, nose broken, and her vision swimming with sharp points of light before the blackness swallowed her.

xxx

B’Elanna’s eyes shot open and she blinked against the sharp light. She tried to move her arms to right herself but found that she could not lift them. Her vision focused and she realized that she was no longer on the Zola. She tried to move her arms again, feeling the bands of restraints around them. She looked around and saw that she was in a Medical facility, perhaps aboard a ship. A female with pointed ears and the typical Vulcan Starfleet haircut approached and glanced at the bio-readings on the monitor above her bed and said, “Ms. Torres. Do you have any nausea, headache, blurred vision, or dizziness?”

“No. I take it I’m on a Starfleet ship. How long have I been out and where are the others?”

“You are on the Starfleet vessel Voyager. You have been here for approximately forty-five minutes for treatment of a concussion, a fractured nose, and various contusions. Your fellow crewmates are being held in custody.”

B’Elanna sighed, “Any fatalities or injuries?”

“Just a few minor injuries. They were treated and your comrades were placed into custody.”

B‘Elanna sighed dejectedly and said, “I feel fine Doctor. I guess you can take me and put me with the others.”

“I am Nurse T’Phae. Dr. Franco will be here shortly to release you.”

B’Elanna closed her eyes and felt a wave of both apprehension and despair wash over her. It was over for her and the crew of Zola. Her future looked bleak, at least for a while. She knew that she would be serving time in a Federation penal colony. Standard sentencing for those Maquis that were captured by the Federation was five years.

A few minutes later, a dark haired human male approached and said, “I’m the CMO, Dr. Franco. Everything looks fine. I’m releasing you into the custody of Starfleet security. If you have any headaches, dizziness, or nausea, I want you to contact Sickbay right away.”

B’Elanna only nodded her head. The doctor stepped back and a stout and muscular Bolian male stepped forward and said, “I don’t think I have to tell you there will be no heroics. I have two other security personnel with me and they won’t hesitate to shoot.”

“In the back, no doubt,” she sneered.

He released the restraints and she sat up shaking her arms and twisting her neck in circles to loosen the muscles and get the blood to flowing. She saw the other two security officers, one a human male, and another a human female, standing several feet away with their phasers drawn.

The Bolian stepped back, motioned her off the table, and said, “Walk out a few feet and stand. Don‘t move until you are ordered to do so.”

She did as ordered and the other two officers got to either side of her. The Bolian started walking ahead and the female officer said, “Come with us.”

She kept pace with the security team as they exited Sickbay and continued down a corridor to the turbo lift. The turbo lift opened and two crewmembers started to exit, the security team, and B’Elanna stepping aside. B’Elanna looked up at the two crewmembers, quickly sucking in her breath, her eyes widening in recognition, and sputtered in surprise, “Paris! What the…”

Tom Paris looked at her, his eyes registering shock, and ducking his head, he started quickly walking down the corridor with the Asian male that had exited the turbo lift with him.

“What’s he doing here?” B’Elanna demanded. She was escorted into the turbo lift and said again in disgust, “Paris. He led you to us didn‘t he?”

The Bolian smirked and replied, “He’s Janeway’s ‘Advisor’. I heard he cut a deal with her to get out of serving time. He gives us the Maquis and she gives him his freedom.”

B’Elanna growled low and said through gritted teeth, “You tell that traitor that I won’t be in custody forever and the first thing I do when released, is to make him wish he was never born.”

The Bolian chuckled and said, “I almost wish I could be there to see it. You’d be doing what a lot of us would love to do to him.”

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CHAPTER TWO

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“Torres, here is a list of our rules and regulations,” The balding middle-aged human male said as he handed a booklet to B‘Elanna. He was dressed in the green uniform of a Federation penal colony guard. “I suggest you read over them carefully. Any infractions could jeopardize your chances of an early release and even result in additional time added to your sentence. Do you have any questions?”

“No.”

He looked at her through narrowed eyes and said, “No, what?”

She hesitated briefly, smothering her growl and sneer, managing to answer smoothly “No…Sir.”

“See that you remember that…” he said, glancing down at the PADD he was holding, “inmate number F477890RR. That number is also on your identification bracelet. Remember it.” He looked at her expectantly.

Asshole’ “Yes… sir. Lt. Mitchell.” She had been fitted with a very lightweight poly-aluminum I.D. bracelet a quarter of an inch wide. It could not be removed except by a special electronic key.

He nodded and then indicating the young, dark-haired Bajoran woman standing to one side, said, “Morvas will show you to your housing unit. She will also act as your guide and show you around the colony.”

Morvas was dressed in the light gray tunic with pale yellow strip across the shoulders, and matching gray pants that was the regular wear of the penal colony’s inmates. B’Elanna wore the same uniform.

“If you will come with me, please,” Morvas said with a smile before walking toward Lt. Mitchell’s office door. B’Elanna picked up a carryall that was issued to her when she went through her medical screening and physical. It contained her uniforms and other essentials for grooming. She followed Morvas and they exited the door and into the reception area where she noticed several inmates seated and waiting for their interview.

“Hey, Torres, how’d it go?” said one of B’Elanna’s fellow Maquis comrades, James Carlson, a tall, husky, brown haired human male that had been part of her engineering crew onboard Zola. The Maquis members had been scattered to various penal colonies in the Federation to prevent them from banding together and possibly plot an escape.

Before she could answer, a guard said, “No talking unless you get permission.”

B’Elanna shrugged and continued to follow her guide.

They exited into the cool Martian day and onto a large area paved with red flagstone. The area had several light tan stone tables, benches, and palm like trees in stone containers. They continued on and down two steps to a tan, wide paved lane.

Morvas slowed her walk and asked, “How much time did they give you?”

“Five years. Less, for good behavior. How long have you been here?”

“Three years of a seven year sentence. My parole hearing is coming up in two years and I have a good chance of early release. What did you do to get five?”

“Exterminated a lot of Cardie vermin and freed their slaves.”

“Ah…Maquis. I would offer you a welcome, but who wants a ‘welcome’ to Red Rock Penal Colony,” she chuckled as she said this. “Me, I stole Starfleet weapons from one of their depots on Sestus Oterus for the Bajoran resistance. Unfortunately, one of the Starfleet guards at the depot was unintentionally killed. Not by me, but I was charged with grand theft and as an accomplice to manslaughter. I guess we have a lot in common, killing Cardies and fighting for freedom.”

“That‘s what I should be doing now: Killing Cardies.” ‘One in particular. Seska.’ She had found out from her legal counsel that Seska was actually a Cardassian agent whose appearance was altered to appear Bajoran. It seemed to her that the Maquis was probably riddled with spies and agents from both Cardassia and the Federation. She thought about Tuvok and Tom Paris and ground her back teeth in anger.

Morvas smirked, and said, “You and me, both. You‘ll find that many of the inmates here are, or were, involved in helping the Bajoran resistance and the Maquis. In fact, a few of the Bajorans were in the resistance.

“You won‘t find any violent offenders here, though. No murderers, sex offenders, arsonists, and other violent offenders. This is a minimal security facility. There are a few security guards to keep order when needed. You’re pretty much left alone. Just keep the rules and show up to work and do your duty.”

“How about Maquis fighters, any here?”

“Not that I am aware. Only those that assisted them in some way. Of course, there could be some of those who were fighters and are keeping quiet about it.”

They walked past a large garden area with several inmates tending the rows of produce and fruit, B’Elanna noticing a few small tractors and electronic carts between the rows.

Morvas said, “This is the garden area that produces some of the food for the Colony. About a mile away are the larger fields. We are responsible for the care of over 6,000 acres of produce. The produce is sold to restaurants and eating establishments on Earth and here on Mars to pay for our farming machinery, food, housing and other essentials. Most of the 400 inmates here are agricultural workers. Have you been assigned to a work detail? “

“Yes, the garage and equipment maintenance. Someone is supposed to contact me later as where to go to report.”

“That would be Tratten. He oversees the garage and maintenance areas. Tratten is a Telerite and I hear he is hard to get along with at times. You don’t want to mess with him. He pretty much can take care of himself…and others if the need arises.”

They came to a chain-link fence with a large open gate and walked into a large area with four rows of one-story flat roof buildings made form tan stones. These were situated in one row on each side of the paved street. B’Elanna noticed ladders leading up to some of the roofs, and many roofs had tables and chairs as well as various plants in containers. The buildings had windows and one door. She guessed these buildings were housing for the inmates.

“This is the inmate housing area section A. Section B is on further down the main road. Each section contains approximately 200 inmates. There are fifty units in each section, and each unit contains four rooms and one bathroom.

“You will have your own room. Lights out is at 23:00, except the night before your day off. It’s 24:00. You have to be in your unit at lights off or you can be penalized. Privileges are usually taken away. Your ID bracelet has a chip in it that keeps track of where you are. Fraternization is allowed, but you can’t share a room.”

B’Elanna took ‘Fraternization’ to mean that sexual relations were allowed.

“What is the work schedule?”

“Four eight hour days and a day off.”

B’Elanna didn’t see anyone out-and-about and surmised that most of the inmates were working. They stopped on the sidewalk in front of a large two-story building and Morvas said, “This is the Community Center for section A. It is also the cafeteria, commissary, and recreation hall. All meals are taken here. Breakfast hours are at 06:00-07:00. Lunch is from 12:00-14:00. Dinner is at 17:30-19.00. The recreation area stays open until 22.30 everyday.”

“What kinds of recreation do they have?”

“Different kind of game tables, like pool, ping-pong, cards, vid-games. They have a large vid screen upstairs that shows a different show every week. The same vid runs every night for a week to give everyone a chance to see it that wants. They also have a library that has all the latest novels and publications. You get limited access to the galactic web, but you have to sign up for one of the galactic vid comms. There are eight of them and they stay full. There is usually a wait of about three days. The allotted time is six hours a week. There is an exercise room, too, if you’re in to that sort of thing.”

Morvas started walking again, went four houses down, and turned up a short walk to the door. It had the number 16A above the door. “Here we are. This is where you will live.” She walked into a large living area with a high ceiling. B’Elanna surveyed the room, seeing two sofas and several chairs. There was a small table that’s surface held several PADDS and a few old-fashioned paper books. On each side of the room were doors and a larger door situated in the center of the far wall that opened up into a bathroom as she could see a long counter with several sinks.

Morvas noticed B’Elanna’s attention on the bathroom, and said, “The bathroom has a laundry area.”

“You mean no replicators to clean our clothes or give us new ones?”

“I’m afraid not. It’s a sonic washer and works pretty good. You won’t find any replicators here. Well, maybe in administration. The bathroom has both a sonic shower and a hydro shower. There is a tub, two sinks and two waste disposal units. Each unit’s inhabitants are responsible for keeping the place clean. There are inspections and if the unit is not up to cleanness standards, you can lose credits.”

B’Elanna was informed that a minimum amount of credits were paid every two weeks as wages for work done. These credits could be used to purchase items in the commissary.

Morvas next led B’Elanna to the second door on the right and opened it. “Here we are. This is your room.”

B’Elanna entered, noticing the unmade, single bed, with one pillow. On the bed were a set of folded sheets, a towel, and washcloth. The room also had a closet and chest-of-draws with a mirror over it. The far wall had one medium sized window that would allow you to look out, but no one could see in.

“I’ll leave you now. It’s a couple of hours before the work shift ends and everyone will be back. I’m in 21A if you need anything.”

“Okay. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

B’Elanna watched as Morvas exited her room. She opened her bag, pulled out her two extra set of clothes, and hung them in the closet. She took her socks as well as pajama’s and underwear and put them in one of the drawers. She put her toiletry items in another drawer.

She made up her bed, lay down on it, and began to read over the rules and regulations.

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CHAPTER THREE

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B’Elanna heard the sound of talking and laughter as a group entered the unit. She heard steps approach and a short blond and stocky human male knocked on the doorframe. “Knock, Knock. So, you’re our new suite mate. I’m Kevin Hoops,” he said in what sounded to B’Elanna, like a British accent.

B’Elanna heard someone call from the living area, “Hey, Hoops, bring our new roomy out so we can meet him or her.”

Hoops smiled and said, “Come on and meet the rest of us.”

B’Elanna felt a little apprehensive at meeting the people who she would be sharing the unit with but she got up and walked out the door with Hoops, immediately seeing a male and female lounging on one of the sofas.

The female was a dark skinned human with shoulder length straight black hair, she looked B‘Elanna over and said, “Say, you‘re Klingon, aren’t you?”

B’Elanna was immediately wary as she often got negative reactions from non-Klingons assuming she would act belligerent and aggressive. She smothered her annoyance and said in what she hoped was a smooth tone, “Half Klingon, half human. I‘m B‘Elanna Torres.”

“We have three other Klingon’s in this section,” the woman said with a grimace, and then smiled, “I’m Ricki Krishnamurthy. I have the room next to yours. Why don‘t you take a seat.”

B’Elanna took an easy chair that was a few feet away from the sofa and facing it.

The other occupant of the sofa, an older dark haired man said, “I’m Bresin Chornoa, and don’t worry, I won’t read your mind.”

B’Elanna looked at him in puzzlement. He noticed her confusion and laughed. “I’m Betazoid.”

“Oh. Thanks for telling me. I won’t be playing cards with you,” B’Elanna smirked and said.

This caused some snickering.

B’Elanna was informed by each what they were convicted on and the length of their sentences.

Hoops said his sentence was three years for stealing sixteen Starfleet phasers right out of a Red Shirt security station at Federation Headquarters and selling them on the black market.

Ricki worked for a Federation Security official and passed information to the Bajoran resistance on plans of possible traps to capture them.

Bresin laundered credits for a criminal element. He didn’t volunteer the name of his clients. Some things you didn’t want to know.

They asked some questions that weren’t too personal and then went to prepare for dinner. B’Elanna noticed that Hoops and Ricki headed toward the bathroom and Bresin went to his room.

Coed showers were nothing new to her as the Zola had them as well as Starfleet Academy.

She knew that her roommates would naturally take peeks at her when she showered, but the novelty would wear off and this would just be routine. Anyway, she didn’t have anything she would be ashamed of them seeing.

She went to her room, got a clean change of clothes, and headed to the showers.

xxx

B’Elanna went down the serving area with her tray and selected what she wanted to eat. There was a selection of various vegetables and what she was sure was soy based meat, corn bread, and other assorted breads, cheeses and fruits.

The drink dispenser held a selection on fruit juices, coffee, tea, and milk.

She was right behind Bresin and followed him down a center aisle with tables on each side. About half way down, they stopped and seated themselves at a large table.

She had seated herself so that she was facing the front of the room where the food bar was located and next to that, the entrance. She had learned from her Maquis days to take a seat in any eating or drinking establishment, facing the entrance. That way you could see who came in through the door and you wouldn’t get surprised by an enemy. She had surveyed the room when she came in and noticed that there were only two unarmed guards, one standing in the front of the room and another was in the back.

“I heard there’s going to be an adventure Vid tonight. Brisbane Cooper and the Pirates of Orion. It stars Bernard Grissom and Yolia Tossus.” Yolia Tossus was a popular Orion actress. “I think I might watch it. Any of you want to join me?” Bresin asked.

“Say no more my friend. If it has Yolia in it, I wouldn‘t miss it. I like my women green,” declared Hoops with a grin.

“Fine by me,” Ricki said, and turning to B’Elanna, asked, “How about you B’Elanna?”

“Green’s not my favorite color, but, okay.”

“After dinner we can go upstairs and get a seat,” said Bresin.

B’Elanna listened to the chatter and occasionally glanced around to learn the lay of the place. The line at the food counter had almost cleared out when she noticed the door open and three Klingons enter. One was a tall and slim male that looked in his late twenties. He wore his long brown hair loose in the Klingon fashion and had a rather scraggly beard and mustache. Two females were with him. One an older female with a streak of gray in her brown hair and the other looked to be in her late twenties. The three favored each other in looks and B’Elanna thought it likely that they were related.

Ricki, who was sitting next to B’Elanna saw them and said under her breath, “Here comes trouble.” Leaning toward B’Elanna, she said in a low voice, “You’re new here and they will try to intimidate you. Just ignore them and the guards will get them in line. Try to stay clear of them if you can. They just love to start trouble.”

Hoops who had his back to the counter, said, “You must be talking about the Traumatic Trio.”

“Yep,” Ricki answered. She went back to eating her meal while keeping a wary eye on the trio.

B’Elanna watched the three as they finished loading their trays and headed down the aisle. She turned her attention to her meal, not wanting to be caught staring as this would be a challenge to a Klingon.

However, she couldn’t help but take a quick glance up. The male was two tables away when he saw B’Elanna and slowed his walk. He grinned and drawing closer stopped at her table staring down at her, and said belligerently, “You. What are you?”

She ignored him and he said loudly, “I’m talking to you, woman. You will answer. Now!”

The two females stopped and stared at her with frowns on their faces. B’Elanna lifted her eyes and stared back, sneering.

People at the surrounding tables were suddenly quiet, taking in the scenario that was happening.

The older female said, “What have we here, Gwort?” She sneered and continued, “It looks like a mongrel to me.”

B’Elanna felt her ire rise. She wasn’t one to back down from a fight. She made a quick decision to challenge them. Perhaps if she could show them she was not afraid, they would think twice about messing with her.

B’Elanna stood up and glared at the woman who was a few inches taller than she and at least twenty years older, and spat out, “P’taQ. Were you not ‘old and senile’ I would make you eat those foolish words.”

Her suitemates quickly rose from their chairs and stepped back and away from her.

There was silence for a second and Gwort said, “Huh? Brave words from a mongrel. Grilga, will you let this mongrel insult you like that?”

Grilga grinned maliciously at B’Elanna and said, “I hope you have enough credits to pay the boatman as he takes you to Gre’thor.” She made a move toward B’Elanna who stepped quickly aside, grabbed her assailant behind her neck, smacking her head down hard against the tabletop to cause food from plates to spill and cups to fall over.

The younger female screamed and rushed toward B’Elanna who quickly kicked out her foot and connected with the woman’s solar plexus, dropping her to the floor, where she lay, clutching her stomach, and trying to catch her breath.

Grilga had recovered enough to take advantage of B’Elanna’s concentration on her other opponent and jumped on her from the side. Both women tumbled to the floor among the chairs and table, rolling around trying to get the advantage.

Gwort egged on Grilga, “Show this mongrel what a real Klingon is!”

There was a crowd surrounding them now, tables and chairs had been pushed aside to make a better vantage point. The two guards were heard trying to get through the crowd to break it up.

B’Elanna had managed to straddle the back of the other woman and grabbed a handful of her hair to yank her head back and pound her face to the floor, when she felt strong hands yank her up by the collar.

“Here, now, you fool. Would you have a black mark against you the first day you’re here?” Asked a deep bass voice as she was easily pulled back against a massive chest.

She struggled to free herself from the hold, but was then picked up by her collar, leaving her flailing her arms and legs in the air.

She noticed one of the guards, with the help of another inmate, subdue her opponent.

A space was cleared around the area and B’Elanna was let go. As soon as her feet hit the ground, she rapidly turned, while assuming a defensive posture with her arms and legs, to face whomever it was that had held her. Her eyes were level with a massive chest, her gaze traveled up and up into the grinning pig-like face of the biggest Telerite she had ever seen. He must have stood close to seven feet high.

He glared down at her through squinty but sharp black eyes, grunted and said, “Huh, so you’re to be my ‘new’ mechanic? I don‘t know if I want a troublemaker working for me.”

He next looked at Gwort, grinned evilly and said, “So, Gwort. Three against one. Some Klingon you are.”

Gwort twisted his face and sneeringly said, “Targ face. You need to keep your snout out of our business.”

This caused the Telerite to laugh, “And you will make me?”

Gwort said nothing but continued to sneer.

A human guard ordered some of the inmates to move the chairs and tables back to where they originally were.

Gwort, Grilga, and the other female, were off to one side with a Vulcan security guard by them. They were glaring at B’Elanna and muttering insults.

The human guard moved between the two groups and said, “Looks like you four will have some explaining to do to the Warden. I’ve called some security to escort you over.” He looked the two combatants over and asked, “Any injuries that need treating?”

Grilga laughed derisively and said, “From that puny mongrel?”

The guard looked at her and said, “I‘ll add name calling to the report.”

“I’m not hurt,” B’Elanna growled.

Four other security guards arrived and the three Klingons were ordered to accompany them. They departed and a human female guard walked up to B’Elanna to accompany her. Before she left with the guard, the Telerite said, “If you are not sequestered to your quarters, I will see you tomorrow at 0800 hours in the maintenance garage. Be there and on time.”

B’Elanna said, “I’ll be there.” She was then led out by the female security guard.

xxx

Warden Jeff Leigh looked the three Klingons over as Security Guard Collins gave him details of the incident. When Collins was finished, the Warden continued to scrutinize them, and then let his eyes stop briefly to search each face. He was a slight fair-haired man with a receding hairline and sharp blue eyes.

B’Elanna stood on the left side of his desk and the other three on the right side of the desk.

Next to the Warden’s desk stood a smirking Sylva Shoonar, the Warden’s secretary. She had accompanied the group in from the reception area. Nobody got to see the Warden unless they went through Sylva. She always had to know the details of what business you had with the Warden that would take him away from his busy schedule. She was the one who decided if your ‘petty concerns’ were of importance. Her nickname was Poodle, partly because she wore her black hair in a short puff and yapped and barked at you as some worrisome little mutt. But mostly, she acted as the Wardens guard dog. No one called her Poodle to her face. She was reputed to be spiteful and a bitch to boot.

Warden Leigh rose from his chair, walked to the front of his desk, and stared intently at the Klingons as if he had a bad taste in his mouth, and after a few long seconds, said, “I‘ve had about as much of you three as I‘m going to take. You’ve been warned about your behavior and the consequences on numerous occasions. I’m going to have Sylva put in the paperwork to have all three of you separated and sent to different facilities.”

Grilga growled low, “I vowed to my elderly mother that I would make sure we three stay together. You would make me lose my honor by breaking my vow?”

“That was your choice, Grilga,” Warden Leigh said.

He turned to the younger female who glared at him. B‘Elanna had learned her name was Elar, and that the three were siblings. “Three against one. Is that honorable?”

She glowered but said nothing.

He looked at Gwort and lifted his eyebrows. “You have a big mouth Gwort. You need to learn not to run it so much.”

He too, just stood and sneered.

B’Elanna thought it apparent that the Warden knew enough about Klingons to understand that the way they stood and glared was typical of Klingon behavior when being disciplined by a superior. To show meekness was a sign of weakness. Your superior might slap you down for it, but that too was expected. They would not protest the punishment too much. To do so meant that it mattered and you were not Klingon enough to take it. She was surprised that Grilga had protested. But her word to her mother was a point of honor and being separated from her siblings would make her lose honor.

Warden Leigh turned to B’Elanna and stared at her. She stared him in the eyes and did a little glaring of her own.

“And you, Torres? The first day here and you already messed up. What’s your story?”

She frowned and said in a hardened voice, “My story? My story is that this was a Klingon thing and you wouldn’t understand. There was no harm done.” She then added, “Sir.” This added after a pause made it sound almost insolent.

She heard Grilga grunt in a way that sounded like approval.

The Warden said facetiously, “Oh, I wouldn’t understand? I wouldn’t understand that you disrupted the others. That fighting is prohibited?”

B’Elanna looked at him in mock surprise and replied as if surprised he would say such a thing, “Fighting? We were not fighting. This is merely the way that we Klingons get to know another Klingon. This is the way we find out if they are worthy of being called Klingons. This was purely a cultural thing. Surely you make accommodations for one’s cultural customs?”

B’Elanna hoped this ruse would work. It was true though. Klingons when meeting another Klingon they did not know often tended to challenge and insult each other verbally and sometimes physically, to take another’s measure of character. B’Elanna had rarely adhered to this custom, as she didn’t feel Klingon. But she could understand why the other three would challenge her.

Warden Leigh folded his arms across his chest and said, “Not when those customs jeopardize the safety of others.”

He walked back around his desk, sat in his chair, and looking at the three Klingons, said, “You three will report to work every day. After work, you will be confined to your quarters, except for meals, for the next week. In addition, your credits will be garnished for three days.”

The group said nothing, standing in a belligerent way, glaring and sneering.

He next focused on B‘Elanna and said, “As for you, Torres. Since this is your first day and you might not have been aware of all the rules, I will confine you to quarters for two days after your work shift. I suggest you use that time to read over the rules and regulations. I won‘t be so generous the next time.

“I’m warning all of you. Any more problems of this nature and I will not be as lenient. Dismissed.” He turned to the guard and said, “Escort them back to their quarters.”

On the way out, Grilga looked at B’Elanna, smiled, her sharp teeth prominent, and said, “I believe I like you, Torres.”

B’Elanna smiled back but did not reply. She knew that these three now were beginning to see her as one of their own. Klingon. Even if she didn’t feel Klingon, herself.

xxx

CHAPTER FOUR

xxx

B’Elanna dragged herself out of bed at 05:30, dressed, and went to breakfast with the others. She had finished breakfast and was heading toward the vehicle and machinery maintenance shop when the three Klingons, who confronted her the night before, passed her, going in. They regarded her with interest, a mixture of a grin and half sneer on their faces.

Gwort looked her up and down with a leering grin and said, “It is the feisty one. Do you have a mate?”

B’Elanna rolled her eyes, snorted, and said derisively, “Pu-lease. Spare me.”

Grilga hit him on the side of his head and said, “Gwort, you QoH. You have nothing to offer a woman.” She next looked at Torres and said, “When our ‘punishment’ is over, we must meet after dinner and trade stories. I’m sure you have a few good ones to tell us, Klingon.”

B’Elanna said in a gruff voice, “I have no stories, I only have truths. I accept your offer, Klingon.” She nodded, grinned menacingly, and walked from them with a devil-may-care attitude to her first day at her job.

xxx

The maintenance garage was outside of section A on the right side of the road and only a short five-minute walk. The shop was a huge, garage type building with large sliding doors that would allow vehicles as large as a shuttle through. In fact, B’Elanna noticed a shuttle parked in an area adjacent to the building that also contained farm tractors, wagons, carts, machinery, and a few aero cars.

She entered through the open doors and into a large open area some sixty yards long by forty yards wide. The roof was some forty feet high and had large skylights windows that let in light.

There were various bays against both walls to accommodate vehicles and machinery that needed to be repaired and maintained. There was a small office to her left with a single door and one large window through which she could see Tratten, the one who pulled her from the fight with Grilga, peering through the window at her.

She was just about to walk to the office when she heard a familiar voice call her from one of the nearby bays, “Torres, I see you got assigned to work here, too.” It was Carlson.

“Looks like it,” she said.

“Dalby is here at the P.C., too. He was brought in right after you left Mitchell’s office. He must be assigned to B section, as I haven’t seen him since. I’m in unit A4.”

Darby was a member of their Maquis cell.

She noticed the small office door open and Tratten came out and walked toward her. He was not only close to seven feet tall, but he was also solidly built. Telerites tended to be on the short side, no taller than 5’9” for the males, and every Telerites she had ever seen were solidly built. She could understand why Gwort, or anybody else, would be hesitant in fighting with him. His hands were huge and just one looked like it could wrap around her head and crush it. His feet were really more like split hoofs and the size of a platter. He didn’t wear shoes.

He stopped some five feet away, looking her up-and-down, and dryly said, “So, I understand you fancy yourself an engineer. I heard you have some Starfleet training. We’ll see just what kind of ‘engineer’ you are, Torres.”

He motioned with his head for her to follow him, and she was led to a bay with several small solar-magnetic wagons. She had seen these yesterday when they passed the garden area. They had one wheel up front, a large seat big enough for two passengers, and four wheels that supported a six foot by six-foot wagon bed with four-foot high panels where produce was held. They operated by both solar power and an engine that produced a magnetic force field of opposite polarities to power it.

“These need to be gone over and new fluids put in. You might need to replace a magnetic disc or two. What ever needs to be done, do it.”

He motioned to a two-tiered tray on wheels and said, “All your diagnostic equipment is there as well as spanners and other tools. The PADD has a manual to consult and what parts you would need for repairs. There is a parts section and additional tool section in the center of the shop on your left. Take what ever you need, but make a notation on the PADD what you take. Now, are there any questions?”

“No. I can handle it.” She was somewhat disappointed that she was given such ‘easy’ work. It didn’t take a lot of skill to do this, which led her to believe he was testing her.

“Okay. I’ll be back a little later to check your work. You get two fifteen minute breaks and an hour and fifteen minutes for lunch.”

He left, and B’Elanna got to work.

The work was pretty simple and straightforward, but did require a lot of bending, kneeling, and reaching into small places. She wondered how Tratten managed to get his huge hands into some of the tight places to do repairs.

She was almost finished when the chime sounded for lunch. She left the area, Carlson joined her, and she was introduced to six other mechanics. Three humans, an Andorian and a Bajoran, and another species that looked reptilian with scaly bronze skin. She wasn’t sure where he, or she, hailed from.

Tratten joined them and asked with a smug smile, “So Torres, work too complicated for ya?”

“Not at all, boss. I only have one cart left to check.”

“Just one?” He said with surprise and then added with a little disbelief, “You must be overlooking something.”

“Torres is the best engineer I’ve ever worked with. She had that old clunker of a ship we had up and running, and that with an engine that was rebuilt about forty years ago,” said Carlson.

“Don’t say. And what ship was that?” Tratten asked.

“The Zola. She was our ship when we were in the Maquis,” Carlson replied.

B’Elanna kept quiet.

Tratten grunted, “Maquis, ah? How did you get caught?”

This time B‘Elanna said, “We had a Starfleet agent planted amongst our midst. My Commander trusted him enough to make him an officer. He was in a position to gain control over our ship and did so when another traitor sold us out and led Starfleet right up our butts.”

Tratten sneering said, “Traitors. They are the lowest form of life that ever breathed. Your commander was an imbecile not to snoop into his background. Especially if he was putting him in an officer position.”

B’Elanna silently agreed that Chakotay was careless, not only in trusting Tuvok, but he had actually slept with that Cardie whore, Seska, and hired Paris. He was derelict in his duty, and she would never trust him again. She angrily said, “The vermin traitors will pay for it one day.”

Tratten smiled wickedly and said, “That’s what I admire about you Klingons. You always collect on your debts.”

xxx

After lunch, B’Elanna returned to her workstation and finished the last cart. Tratten came over to check her work. He started up one of the three carts and told her to take a test drive on all three.

“Just go to the road and take a right out to the fields and back to see how they operate.”

She picked one and headed out. They were not made for speed and the top speed was twenty miles an hour.

She drove past housing section B on the left and a large complex on the right with a sign identifying it as the produce processing plant. There were around eight small carts parked out front with several people unloading them.

She drove on and passed several carts headed to the warehouse, the drivers nodding or lifting a hand in greeting. She could see the large fields up ahead, with many under irrigation as she could see the large sprinkler systems working.

She turned around, headed back to the maintenance complex, and repeated the process with the other two carts. When she returned, Tratten said she could go to the different bays, pick up the discarded parts, and take them to the dump area in the back of the garage. She took one of the carts, loaded it with the refuse, went around to each bay, and picked up the items to take to the dump area.

This was located about one hundred and fifty feet away from the garage. It contained discarded cart parts and other machinery parts as well as parts she recognized other parts as belonging to aero-cars and small shuttles.

She dumped the items and returned back to the garage and to Tratten’s office, where she found her boss seated behind his desk and entering information into a PADD. He looked up and said, “You did a good job, Torres, fast and efficient. I like that. I know you can handle repairing aero-cars and buses. I have two that just came in for regular maintenance. I’m going to assign them to you. Just go over them and do the regular maintenance routine. I’ll check over your work and if it looks good, I’ll be assigning you to oversee repairs on these from now on. You can take a couple of the crew to help.”

“Sure thing, boss,” B’Elanna said in a pleased tone.

It wasn’t engineering on a Starship but it would keep her skills from getting rusty.

xxx

CHAPTER FIVE

xxx

At supper that night, B’Elanna was seated with her suitemates, when the three Klingons walked by. Gwort stopped and gave her a snaggletooth grin and looked her over with leering interest.

Elar pushed him with her tray from behind and muttered, “QoH.” She gave B’Elanna a baleful stare before continuing on down the aisle.

Grilga stopped and said, “After lunch, come to our table and we will talk.” She motioned with her head down the aisle.

B’Elanna said, “I’ll do that.”

Grilga walked on and Hoops said somewhat disparagingly, “Seems like you made some…‘friends’.”

“What’s their story?”

“They came here about four months ago. The story is they were caught smuggling something illegal. Nothing but trouble. Can’t get along with anyone and started a few altercations. They have unit number thirteen all to themselves after the other person in with them asked to be transferred to another unit. Thirteen is a fitting number for them, too,” Hoops informed her.

Ricki added, “First week they’re here they get into trouble for trying to intimate some of us into giving them credits. Warden Leigh put a stop to that. Then there were a couple of fights. Gwort tried to take down Tratten. Thought he could make a name for himself by beating the ‘big man’. Tratten just held him at arm’s length, laughed in his face, and butted his head against Gwort’s head. Telerites must have harder heads than Klingons because it knocked Gwort into cuckoo land. Gwort only gives Tratten nasty looks and name calls now.” She snickered and added, “Mostly behind Tratten’s back of course.”

“Be careful. They could cause you some trouble,” warned Hoops.

They then talked about other things. After dinner, B’Elanna took her tray and plates and put them in the dirty dish stake. The cafeteria area had a few people left sipping on drinks and talking. Many others were upstairs watching the movie, at the library, or game center.

The commissary was open in the back of the room where one could purchase snack items, magazines and other specialty items. She didn’t have any credits yet, so hadn’t been able to purchase anything.

Since she had no credits she went over to the drink dispenser to fill up her tumbler up with a citrus drink. This was free as long as the cafeteria was open.

As she filled her tumbler, Grilga joined her, filling her own tumbler, and said, “Come on back with me and we’ll talk.”

She followed Grilga down the aisle to the last table, which was in front of the commissary section. She took a seat across from Gwort and Elar. Gwort had a silly grin on his face and Elar glared.

“Torres, tell us how you came to be here,” asked Grilga.

B’Elanna relayed the event of her capture and trial. Grilga and Gwort asked her questions of how many conflicts and battles she had been involved in, wanting to know how many Cardassians she had killed. “Not enough,” was her reply.

They then wanted details of her most memorable kills. B’Elanna wasn’t one to want to discuss this under any other circumstances, but knew enough about Klingon customs to know that if she were to be accepted by them, this was necessary.

During her rendering of her encounters with the Cardassians, she noticed that Elar had quit her baleful staring and was now regarding B‘Elanna with interest. She finished one particularly gory retelling of her hand-to-hand knife fight with an enemy, and said, “Enough about me. What’s your story? I take it you three are related?”

Grilga, who was the group leader, said. “Yes, these tu’HumIraHs are my younger siblings. Twins. My mother had them later in life, and I, being the eldest daughter, helped raise them. One thing it taught me is I don’t want to have brats of my own.”

She took a sip of her drink and went on, “We were caught by the Federation, in Federation space, smuggling a cargo hold of Romulan ale. We would have gotten away with it but one of our customers was caught and squealed like a stuck targ. We were sentenced to two years.”

“Two years!” B’Elanna exclaimed in surprise. “That’s kind of harsh isn’t it? I thought the first time they made you pay a fine.”

Grilga got a sheepish look and said, “Actually, it was our third time. The first time we were caught was when our ship broke down in Federation space and we had to be towed to a Federation space station. They had a mandatory search of all non-federation vessels. We paid a fine. The second time we sold some of our cargo to an undercover agent. We paid another fine. The judge said next time, we serve a sentence. But what is life if you don’t take a chance.”

“Seems like you would’ve given up. No profit if you keep getting caught.”

“That’s only three bad runs out of some thirty runs that were successful in the last four years. It is a very profitable business. I may retire when I‘m released. I have enough to live comfortably. I don‘t know about these two,” she nodded her head in the direction of her two siblings, “they still have adventure in their blood.”

Both Gwort and Elar grunted in agreement, nodding their heads.

“Mind me asking where you got the ale from?”

“I have connections with a Romulan trader. I can’t go into details. I think he may be fencing stolen goods. I don‘t ask questions. Just as long as it’s not goods stolen from the Klingon Empire or Federation.”

Gwort drained his cup of juice and said, “Enough talk of ‘drink’. I thirst for a mug of blood wine. This place is as dry as a boar targ’s tit.”

B’Elanna snickered. “I may have to wait five years for a good ale.”

They talked about other things, and B’Elanna kept noticing that Gwort was ‘leering’ at her. Finally, she glared pointedly at him, and noticing her glare, he said, “You are a brave warrior, Torres. Why do you not speak of a mate? You would make a fine mate for a warrior.”

B’Elanna grinned, displaying her teeth, and said, “Because, I haven’t met the right ‘woman’ yet.”

Gwort’s face fell in disappointment and both Grilga and Elar raucously laughed.

xxx

CHAPTER SIX

xxx

After a couple of months, B’Elanna started to settle into her routine of both work and leisure time.

Tratten had her working on the various staff aero-cars and buses, as well as the two shuttles that belonged to Red Rock Penal Colony. The work was okay and involved enough to make the workday pass fast.

On one recent occasion, Tratten took her to the Warden’s residence where they tuned up and changed the fluids on his staff car and his wife’s aero-car. Tratten explained to her in a low voice, while they worked on the wife’s aero-car, that this was technically bending the rules, but who was to say that the wife was not ‘picking’ up something important in Mars Port that had to do with the colony’s business when the Warden didn’t have time to do it. The tune-ups and repairs were always done at the Warden’s residence instead of the garage.

B’Elanna spent a lot more time after work socializing with ‘House Braca’, which was the name of the house that her three Klingon friends belonged to and preferred to call themselves. It was not one of the major Klingon houses, but a minor house of some note. B’Elanna’s house was defunct and existed in name only with no property holdings. She and her mother were the last members.

She now took her meals with House Braca but after dinner would play board games and cards with her suitemates. She actually introduced her Klingon friends to poker and they joined her suitemates in this past time.

There were some minor threats and blustering when first introduced, but her suitemates had come to realize a lot of it was for show and did some threats and blustering of their own. Her Klingon friends accepted her suitemates mainly due to the fact that they were B’Elanna’s friends.

B’Elanna was now making a wage, though minimum, that allowed her to place small bets when playing poker. The betting was held to a minimum of ten credits. B’Elanna won a fair share and lost a few times. She used her money to order a subscription to several engineering magazines and journals, as well as purchasing an occasional candy or ice cream bar from the commissary that the cafeteria didn’t offer.

Tonight, Gwort seemed to be having a lucky streak, which was unusual as he wasn‘t the best player.

“Gwort? You hiding cards up your sleeves?” B’Elanna teased.

“Huh?”

“How come you’re so lucky tonight? You‘re not…ah… pulling aces out of your sleeve, are you?”

“No. I promised Kahless if he would make me lucky, I would have a feast in his honor when I’m released and back home on QonoS. Only the fattest targ and best blood wine will be served in his honor.”

Hoops said, “Blood wine? What’s that taste like anyway?”

“Like blood wine. What else should it taste like?” Replied Gwort. “I would serve two fat targs at the feast if he would grant me a mug right now.”

Elar snorted and snidely said, “You mean you would invite that fat girl you’re sweet on back home…Twila, and her equally fat sister?”

This caused everyone to snicker.

Hoops said, “I’d sacrifice my sister and brother for a beer.”

B’Elanna thought of an idea she had had not too long ago and inquired, “Ever hear of anyone here brewing their own…beverages?”

There was silence for a moment as the group digested this.

Ricki said, “It would be easy to do if we could arrange a place to do it so we wouldn’t get caught. We could make wine easily with all the fruit we grow here. Just get a couple of barrels and tubing. Then let the fruit juice ferment for a few weeks. I can get information on making…beverages…from the galactic web.”

“We have that spare room in our unit. I don’t think it will be assigned to anyone,” Elar said, and then added with a grin, “After all, we’re Klingons and Kahless knows we might decide to marinade a new roomy and cook them on a spit for dinner.”

Everyone laughed and Grilga added, “I like my meat raw.” She thought for a moment and said, “When they have an inspection, they never check the empty room because the door is locked. But, I have managed to pick the lock. We could regulate the room temperature and the venting system would take care of any odors.”

B‘Elanna said, “Okay. We need barrels, tubing, and fruit. Any juicy fruit would do it. I’m thinking peaches, plums, gnocetas grapes, and ugrahy, as these are in season now. The cafeteria is always serving it. We can each get our allotment at our meals and take them back to our rooms. We can rig up a fruit press, too. That should be easy to make.”

Ricki said, “Getting the fruit should be easy. But we need to deposit it at one location. And what about the equipment we would need?”

B’Elanna rubbed her chin and said, “We can start having card games over at House Braca’s quarters and take the fruit with us. I can get clean tubing over at the garage. That would be easy to conceal under my clothes and no one measures how much is taken off the spools. We just need a couple of barrels…at least twenty gallons or more, and nothing that was used for dangerous chemicals or anything like that.”

Ricki said, “Food barrels. The cafeteria always has a few used ones outback waiting to be picked up. They have small ones and some that look like they are around 30 gallons. We can wait until it turns dark and sneak some back. We can use the back of the complex to take them to House Braca. There’s not much traffic that uses the back ways. If anyone gets nosy we can always say we want the barrels to use for planters on our roof garden.”

“Okay. Let’s start tonight after the game. Who’ll volunteer to get the barrels?” B’Elanna enquired.

“I will. Hoops can come with me,” Ricki said.

“If this is a success, we might be able to open a market,” said Grilga.

“Hmm, I don’t know. If too many people know, we could get caught,” Hoops said.

Grilga said, “We’ll start out being selective who we sell it to. Believe me, there will be a market, and the customers won’t talk because they wouldn’t want their source to dry up and have a lot of people pissed at them for snitching.” She smirked and continued, “Besides, do they really want to have to spend their days looking over their shoulder for House Braca to seek revenge?”

“It still won’t be blood wine,” groused Gwort.

B’Elanna eyed him and said, “Yeah, but enough of it can have the same effect. No drinking the stuff to excess, Gwort. That’s all we need is some drunk Klingon caterwauling opera songs in the middle of the night and causing mayhem.”

“Arghh. No blood wine, no song, and no brawling. What a life,” Gwort said dejectedly.

“No woman either, brother,” Elar said with a smirk.

Gwort sneered at Elar and then smiled and said, “Perhaps, I should offer Kahless three fat targs at the feast,”

“I didn’t know Twila had another fat sister.” Elar said facetiously.

Everyone laughed but Gwort.

xxx

Six weeks later, the group was gathered in the living area of House Braca with their cups full of the first batch of wine.

“Damn, this stuff isn’t bad. Not bad at all,” Bresin said as he smacked his lips and took another gulp.

Grilga grunted, “Not blood wine of course. But our efforts have produced an acceptable alternative.”

Ricki took a long sniff of her full cup and said, “Nice bouquet.” She took a sip, rolled it around in her mouth, and swallowed. “Not dry. Has a smooth fruity taste.”

B‘Elanna snorted and said, “Sheesh, what do we care about the bouquet or taste. We aren’t exactly connoisseurs here. It’s the alcohol content that counts. I‘d say this is about nine percent. Not bad. ”

Ricki said, “More sugar content and the fermentation would produce more alcohol content.”

“We may want to do that in the future. Especially if we decide to…ah… go public. Twelve percent alcohol content would be just about right,” B’Elanna said.

Gwort was on his second cup, drank it down in a few gulps, and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He was headed toward the bedroom where the barrel was located to get another drink when Grilga firmly ordered, “Gwort, that will be your last cup for tonight. We agreed to three cups each per week. And if I see you getting more than your fair share, I will skin you.”

“I’m saving my three cups for the night before our off day. That way I don’t have to have a hangover when at work,” Bresin said.

“Good idea. I think I’ll do the same. That way we can enjoy it with our card game that night,” Ricki said.

“Never mix drinking and cards. Tempers start to flare. Let’s just have a relaxing time, sit back, listen to music and visit,” B’Elanna said, then added, “Since curfew is at midnight and we have tomorrow off, let’s party now.”

“I’ll start the music,” said Gwort as he walked over to a corner table that held a small oblong box. He pushed a button and the room was blasted with the deep bass voice of a Klingon Opera singer. Gwort joined in the singing causing everyone to groan and cover their ears.

B’Elanna hollered over the sound, “The number one rule of party night is…”

xxx

Eight weeks later, they had a regular winery going. They invited individuals they knew they could trust to join them for ‘party night’. They charged a hefty cover fee, which included three, twelve-ounce cups, of wine.

Up to twenty regular guests would show up and as word discreetly spread, a few more would drop in to purchase a mug of wine. The limit was three drinks as the group didn’t want anyone staggering around dog-faced drunk and risk getting caught, thus ruining the whole operation.

Everyone knew to keep their mouth shut. The rule was that if anyone were stupid enough to be caught, the story would be that they had left a cup of fruit juice out and it fermented. Ricki had found out that some inmates actually did this, but the product often had funguses that would make them sick and the temperature and other factors had to be just right or it was undrinkable.

They had to be discreet with spending the profits too. Flaunting ones riches could quickly draw attention from the guards. However, B’Elanna wasn’t one to be frivolous with credits. She would put hers aside and spend it when she was released. After all, she would have a criminal record and might not be able to get a job right away and extra credits would come in handy.

xxx

CHAPTER SEVEN

xxx

B’Elanna had been at the Red Rock for almost a year when she and Grilga went up on the roof of the House Braca' unit on party night to get some fresh air.

Both of Mar’s moons were up and the sky was a dark blue velvet. The roof had a small round table and four chairs. Both women took a chair and were silent for a moment as they gazed at the sky.

Grilga said, “You know, Day of Honor is coming up in a couple of weeks. We missed the last one, but I feel like celebrating it this year. I would like to celebrate it by going through another Rite of Ascension. Too bad we don’t have a place to hold it. Or pain sticks. It’s not a proper ritual unless you have pain sticks. Do you remember how you both dreaded the Rite of Ascension and at the same time looked forward to it because it meant you were a true Klingon?”

B’Elanna was quiet for a moment as she looked at Grilga, noticing how the moons’ light both highlighted and shadowed her proud Klingon ridges and features. “I wouldn’t know. I never went through the Rite of Ascension.”

“What!?” Grilga exclaimed in surprise and dismay.

B’Elanna shrugged. “I never really felt Klingon…or human, for that matter. I didn’t want to do it because I was angry with my mother. I blamed her for my dad leaving and blamed myself as well. I felt it was the Klingon in us that drove him away. Of course, in my head I know that‘s not true, but in my heart…”

“How can you say you are not Klingon? You have a heart of a warrior, a Klingon warrior. You have killed justly in battle. I know you did not lie. Carlson also told us of your deeds. Blood tells, B’Elanna Torres!” Grilga declared passionately and pounded her fist on the tabletop before snarling and saying belligerently, “You have dishonored my house! We called you friend and embraced you as we would any honorable Klingon! You will claim your heritage. You will go through the Rite of Ascension and remove this stain of dishonor!” She then stood and said firmly, “Come with me. We will make plans for you to regain your honor.”

B’Elanna stood and said passionately, “But, it would be a further dishonor for me to participate in a ceremony that I have no right to do. I am not Klingon in my heart.”

Grilga screamed in rage and struck B’Elanna hard across her cheek, almost knocking her down. She gripped a dazed B’Elanna by her shoulders, shook her, and screamed, “taHqeq! You will discover your Klingon heart in the Rite of Ascension as do all Klingons or you will die and I will send your soul to Gre’thor!”

A dazed B’Elanna snarled and tried to break free, only to have Grilga strike her again, knocking her down and looking contemptuously down at her and saying, “I will send the others away. When you are able, you will climb down the ladder and come into the quarters of House Braca. Then we will plan for your Rite of Ascension.”

Grilga turned and walked over to the ladder and descended, B’Elanna hearing each step as it hit a rung. She sat up, her head spinning, and feeling the left side of her face starting to throb form Grilga’s blows. She worked her jaw, glad to know that it was not broken. She felt her face, winced at the soreness, and knew it would be black and blue tomorrow.

No way can I get out of this. But, do I really want to? Maybe it’s time for me to discover who I really am. Perhaps, Grilga is right. Perhaps I will discover I have a Klingon heart.’

She could hear the sound of conversation and footsteps below and knew Grilga must have told the other partygoers to leave.

She waited a few minutes longer, and climbed down the ladder and walked boldly through the front door. She would show no fear. She had to concede, that in itself was a Klingon action.

The quarters were quiet as the music was turned off. Three Klingons glared at her with disdain and sneers on faces, saying nothing.

B’Elanna folder her arms across her chest and glared back at them.

Grilga said, “You will sit.”

B’Elanna said defiantly, “I will stand.”

Grilga smiled, showing her teeth. “Huh. Very well. I speak for House Braca. We accepted you as Klingon--as one of our own. Had we known you were a taHqeq, we would have scorned you. We would not even have allowed you to cross the threshold of our house. You have dishonored us. However, we will make allowances. Since you have not gone through the Rite Of Ascension, you do not know your own heart. It is only when a Klingon goes through the Rite does he or she finds what it means to be a Klingon.

“You have proved yourself a brave warrior. You have fought with honor. Since you have proven yourself, you do not have to do the initial Rite of Ascension that a young unproven warrior goes through. You will do the one for proven warriors that reminds them of what it means to be Klingon.”

B‘Elanna said firmly, “I will do this.”

All three smiled and Grilga said, “Gwort, Elar, fill four mugs with wine. We shall plan our preparations. This will be held on the Day of Honor. House Braca’s honor will be returned and Torres will honor her people and her Klingon heart.”

xxx

B’Elanna woke up the next morning with a sore left cheek and stiff jaw. She was glad it was her day off and she could take it easy. She lay in the darkness of her room watching the dark outside her window fade away to dawn. She thought about last night and the plans House Braca had made for her Rite of Ascension.

Since it was to be held on an important Klingon holiday, Grilga felt that Warden Leigh would get their Klingon armor out of storage and let them use it to mark the occasion. Of course, this would be without their daggers or any other weapons. They would also work on a set of armor for B’Elanna to wear. There was plenty of material available that they could use.

The other thing that was vital to the ceremony was pain sticks. They did not have any on their ship. Besides, even if they did, Warden Leigh would never allow their use.

Gwort suggested that they use slim woody canes as they did in the old days, having the warrior strip off his armor and shirt so that they could strike him repeatedly. He said there were plenty of cane type grasses growing in some of the irrigation ditches that would do just fine.

B’Elanna wasn’t particularly keen on this idea. She explained that there was a danger that she might not be able to hide her injuries and that could lead to problems for them all. She suggested that she be allowed to fashion pain sticks from items she could find at the garage. She was sure she could come up with something just as effective before the ceremony and that wouldn’t leave marks and bloody welts.

B‘Elanna got up and out of bed and went to the bathroom. Ricki was already up and at one of the sinks brushing her teeth. She looked at B’Elanna’s reflection in the mirror, her eyes opening wide. B’Elanna had a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror, seeing the bruises and swelling on her left cheek and knew it looked bad.

Ricki turned around and said around her toothbrush that was still in her mouth, “Girl, what the hell happened to you?”

“I tripped coming down the roof ladder last night,” she said as she glanced away from Ricki’s eyes.

Ricki looked at her disbelievingly for a moment before saying, “If you say so. I‘d get that looked at over at the infirmary if I were you. It must hurt like hell.”

“Naw, I think I will get some ice from the cafeteria and put on it.”

Ricki went back to brushing her teeth and muttered, “Klingons.”

B’Elanna heard this and smiled as she gingerly splashed water on her face.

xxx

The next day B’Elanna went to work. The side of her face was still bruised but nobody said much about it after B’Elanna snarled at a few inquisitive questioners the day before.

Tratten looked at her face, winced, and said, “You have a new love interest, Torres?”

B’Elanna bared her teeth in a Cheshire Cat grin and said, “I don’t kiss and tell.”

Tratten laughed and said, “That must’ve been some kiss.”

B’Elanna ignored him and went on to her work.

At lunchtime, she told Tratten she wasn’t hungry, as she didn’t feel very well after eating breakfast and thought something she ate didn’t agree with her.

The others left and B’Elanna was the only one in the garage.

B’Elanna searched in the discarded parts in the rear of the building, where she found a six foot long pipe that was an inch across, and another one that was a three feet across. They were lightweight and looked to be composed of an aluminum compound.

She searched some more and found several lengths of stiff conduction rods used to relay power in aero-cars and shuttles. She also found insulation material and small non-conductive panels used in circuitry.

She deposited these items in her work bay and went back out to the dump, finding the polymer casing sleeve that was used to cover electric cable that she rolled this up and took it back to her work bay, where she took her laser and cut the long pipe and rods into three-foot long sections. Next, she took her small portable work light, opened the back, and took out the small battery that was capable of delivering a strong jolt of electricity. She would need two more. She did not want to take anything from supplies as there was a thorough inventory done at the end of each month and it would be discovered that these were missing.

She went to one of the work Bays that was not being used and took the battery out of that light. Now, one more was needed and she crossed over to another work bay and took the battery out of that work light. She would replace them when the ceremony was over.

She went back to her work area and placed the end of a pipe on a square piece of metal from one of the side panels of a wagon body. She outlined the end and cut it with her torch. She took the piece and welded over the opening at the end of one of the tubes.

She took one of the batteries, slipped it into the polymer sleeve, and worked it to the bottom. She dropped this into the aluminum pipe. She had to be careful with the next part in order to avoid a nasty shock.

She inserted one of the metal rods into the sleeve in the pipe and worked it down by gently pushing down on the sleeve and causing it to slide in until it hit the battery. Around a half inch of the rod was sticking out of the top but the sleeve was longer and she folded this over the top of the rod and taped it with electrical tape. She then got the insulation, tore it in pieces, and placed it around the top of the pipe. She got the flexible rod and pushed pieces of the insulation inside the pipe and around the inside rod until it was full.

She cut a piece of the insulated panel to fit over the top of the tube, and cut a hole in the middle for the rod to go through, placing it over the rod and used tape to keep it in place.

She removed the tape from the end of the rod and cut the sleeve to within a ¼ of an inch of the rod end. She reached for her voltage meter and took a reading, smiled, and said, “Yeah. That’ll do it.” She frowned and thought, ’What the Gre’thor am I doing? These things will be used on me.’ She mentally shrugged. ‘No pain. No gain.’

She would fashion a cap to go over the end that could be easily moved. She would work on the other pieces over the next few days.

She doubted she would be able to get away with pleading illness and miss lunch again without Tratten making her go to the infirmary. No one would think it odd that she was cutting something, so it wouldn’t look suspicious.

She planned to put the finished pain sticks in one of the aero-cars that she was working on and when she drove it for a test drive, quickly hide them in a section of hedgerow that bordered the side of the road on the far edge of section A. Before curfew, and under cover of night, she could retrieve them.

xxx

CHAPTER EIGHT

xxx

The morning of the Day of Honor dawned cold and rainy. B’Elanna had wanted to sleep late as rain always made her sleepy. Perhaps it was the rhythm of the drops on the roof or the cool moist air that made her burrow under the covers. But the alarm had gone off five minutes ago and she heard her suitemates up and about.

She groaned, forcing herself out of bed, donned her robe, and took her toiletry bag with her to the bathroom. Bresin had just gotten out of the hydro shower and was toweling himself dry. He always preferred to bathe in the morning, whereas she and the others preferred to bathe at night.

She washed her face and let her mind wander to tonight’s ceremony. After work, she was not to go to supper. Elar would come and bring her what she needed to wear and take her to House Braca where she would perform the Rite of Ascension.

She felt the fluttering of apprehension in her gut. However, that might not be a bad thing, she always felt that way before a battle: Before she faced death. It was not fear of dying, but fear that she would not face death bravely. And she always overcame it, forgetting her fear when face-to-face with her enemies: With death. Then a haze of red covered her vision and she felt the power of righteous anger seize her. She was vengeance personified. And if she died when in the throes of this passion with the blood of her enemies staining her hands, then it was a good day to die.

Her suitemates were quiet this morning. They had some inkling that she faced something important and whether out of respect or reverence, they maintained their silence, barely speaking to each other. She noticed that their eyes seemed to be turned inward as if examining who they were and what they were.

She went through the day trying to lose herself in her work, each tick of the clock bringing her closer to discovering who she was.

Finally, it was quitting time and she went home and bathed. Her suitemates went to dinner and said they had plans on staying late at the center to see a movie or play a game.

She sat in the living room and flipped the pages of an engineering journal, really not registering what she was seeing.

Soon, she heard the door open and Elar entered. Her face was solemn and she was dressed in her armor. She carried a garment bag with her and handing it to B’Elanna said, “Dress in this. If you need assistance, I will help.”

B’Elanna looked into the bag and noticed black leather like fabric. She drew it out and saw that it looked very much like Klingon armor, the tunic quilted and padded. She laid it on the back of the easy chair and took out matching black pants and a pair of black boots in the same leather like material. There was a wide black belt studded with round metal spots with a large rectangle silver buckle.

“This is great workmanship. Where did you get it?”

Elar smiled, “We made it.”

“Made it? Where did you get the material?”

“We slew a few sofa cushions and skinned them,” Elar laughingly said.

B‘Elanna laughed and glanced at one of the suite’s sofas, seeing that the armor’s material indeed matched the faux leather covering.

She peeled off her tunic and pants and started pulling on the armor, Elar helping her. When dressed, she went to the bathroom, looked at herself in the mirror, and was stunned at what she saw. The black armor fit her perfectly. She could hardly believe it was her reflection and not some mythical warrior from the days of Kahless the Unforgettable.

Elar stepped behind her and looking at her eyes in the mirror’s reflection said, “You are a warrior, but it remains to be seen if you are Klingon. Come, it is time.”

She followed Elar into the deepening twilight. It was still, the walkways empty as everyone was at dinner.

They came to the darkened quarters of House Braca. B’Elanna could see no light through the windows.

Elar said, “Wait here. We will call you when we are ready.” She opened the door and B’Elanna saw that the doorway was hung with a dense black material. Elar disappeared through a slit in the material and B’Elanna caught a glimpse of gold light.

Soon, she heard Gwort’s voice, deep and commanding, order, “B’Elanna Torres, daughter of Miral, enter and let us see what is in your heart!”

She walked forward, found the slit in the curtain, and entered. Elar stepped past her, reached through the curtain, and closed the door. Elar walked to the center of the room and joined the two others, also dressed in armor, and picked up a pain stick.

Candles where placed on pedestals along the edges of the room, their flames casting macabre dancing shadows on the red and black drapes hung on the walls from the ceiling to the floor, hiding the doors and window. Where the opening of the bathroom door was located, hung a large black drape. In its center a large red symbol of the Klingon Empire.

“Step forward B’Elanna Torres, daughter of Miral, and stand before me,” commanded Grilga. She held a pain stick.

B’Elanna stepped forward and the two others surrounded her on each side, the tops of their pain sticks uncovered.

“Why are you here?” Grilga demanded in a gruff voice.

B‘Elanna replied in a strong voice, “DaHjaj SuvwI’e’ jiH. twIj Sa’angNIS. Iw bIQtIq jIjaH!” (Today I am a Warrior. I must show you my heart. I travel the river of blood.)

The war cries of Klingon’s sounded and the pain descended, sharp and burning. She cried out and staggered, but did not go down. Again and again, pain seized her in its talons and tore at her with its beak.

“Show us what is in your heart, warrior!”

B’Elanna’s gave herself to the pain, and through the giving, she transcended the pain. So, it had been for her mother and her mother’s mother. So had it been for all of her mother’s people whose blood thundered in her veins. Blood did not lie. She had the spirit of a warrior. She had proven that many times. The spirit of a Klingon warrior. The blood of warrior’s past made her who she was. She would honor them and honor herself by claiming what, and who, she truly was in her heart.

“I. AM. KLINGON!!

xxx

Gwort slapped B’Elanna on the back and chewed his piece of Targ heart. After the Rite, Elar and Gwort had gone into one of the bedrooms and brought out the table, chairs and one of the sofas. They set them up in the living area and Elar went into her bedroom and returned with a large platter that contained the heart of targ and a blood pie and placed it on the table.

B’Elanna looked at it with surprise and said, “Where did you get this?”

Grilga said, “We learned that with enough credits, one can order certain items through the commissary store. Since Earth has a large Klingon Embassy, there are places on Earth that carry what they call ‘specialty items.’ We placed the order and when it arrived, we had the cafeteria keep it for us under stasis until it was needed. We also obtained the draperies and traditional candles this way.”

“We could have ordered blood wine, but since alcohol is forbidden, we will have to make do with our wine,” said Gwort.

Elar added, “I wanted gagh, but it does not keep well under stasis. The serpent worms tend to die and dry up.”

B’Elanna was relieved at this last bit of news, but managed to sound disappointed. “Too bad. Well, we still have the blood pie and targ heart.” She wasn’t thrilled about this either, but she wasn’t about to show it.

Grilga cut a large piece of blood pie, put it before B’Elanna, and said, “Eat.”

B’Elanna took a big bite, chewed, swallowed, and said, “Delicious.”

xxx

CHAPTER NINE

SIX MONTHS LATER

xxx

B’Elanna was enjoying time alone with her Klingon friends in their quarters drinking a mug of wine. They had forgone party night and sat in the living area discussing the trio’s impending release. Their sentence was up in another week.

“I will miss you, Torres. You have become like a sister to us,” Grilga said sadly. She looked at her two siblings who grunted in agreement, their expressions somber. She continued, “We would be honored if we could claim the R’uustai with you and adopt you into our house.”

B’Elanna was speechless for a moment. The R’uustai was a Klingon word that literally meant “the bonding” and was a ceremony of adoptive brotherhood that bonded the ties between the non-related. It was usually extended to those without a family or House, but could also be extended to others. B’Elanna’s House would be extinct, unless she had children. Even then, her House would be so small and without holdings that it would be considered by many in the Klingon Empire to be virtually nonexistent.

B‘Elanna‘s voice almost broke with emotion. “I am honored. You have honored me greatly. I would be proud to call House Braca my own and serve it with distinction.”

“My uncle is the patriarch of the house. When he knows that we have performed the R’uustai with such a brave and honorable Klingon, he will approve and be proud that we added you to our House. You would bring us much honor,” Grilga declared.

Elar said proudly, “I would be proud to call you sister, B’Elanna.”

“As would I,” declared Gwort.

B’Elanna swallowed hard, feeling both humbled and proud. She wondered what her mother would think. She had never visited her mother after she left home to attend Starfleet Academy. Her mother had disowned her for turning her back on her heritage. She had written her once to let her know that she had left the Academy and had joined the Maquis. She had to send this message through trusted sources to insure it reached her mother and was not intercepted by Starfleet or the Federation. She had not heard back.

Now, in the ceremony, she would invoke the memory of her mother. She had told Grilga before her Rite of Ascension about the strain in the relationship with her mother. Grilga had informed her that when she returned to QonoS, she would visit Miral and tell her what a brave Klingon warrior her daughter was.

Grilga said, “We will do this five nights from now. This will give us time to prepare the proper ceremonial vests. We can use some of the drapery material from the Rite of Ascension Ceremony.”

She looked at Elar and said, “Go and get them. Bring both a red and a black drape and we will begin making our ceremonial vests.” She turned to her brother and said, “Gwort, go and get your sewing kit.”

Gwort jumped up and hurried to his room.

B’Elanna tried not to smirk when she said, “Sewing kit?”

“Yes, Gwort is our tailor,” Grilga said and smiled knowingly at B‘Elanna‘s attempt to hide her smirk.

“Hmmm. That is a good skill to have, especially on the battlefield. You know, armor and clothes always gets torn,” B’Elanna conceded.

Grilga snickered and said, “Scissors can take an eye out as easily as a dagger in the hands of a skilled warrior.”

B’Elanna had to agree.

xxx

B’Elanna touched her candle to the larger candle setting on a pedestal in the center of the room. House Braca also lit their candles with the same flame. All wore black vests decorated with Klingons words and symbols in red. They solemnly walked to a large table that contained twelve candles, in groups of three.

Grilga, being the oldest, lit her candle first and said “SoS jIH batlh SoH.” “Mother I honor you.”

The other three followed and invoked the memory of their mothers.

B‘Elanna was now bonded to the other three as a sibling. Their ties cemented through the time honored rite of the R’uustai.

She was now a member of House Braca.

xxx

House Braca disassembled the winery, and after thoroughly cleaning the barrels of all residues, took them by cover of night and deposited them behind the cafeteria. B’Elanna had managed to find five 32-ounce clear aluminum bottles in the cafeteria refuse a few days before and had filled them with the remaining wine and hid them under her bed.

They had made many credits on this venture. When released, B’Elanna would have quite a bit to tie her over for a few months until she decided what she would do with her life. However, that was a long ways off.

That night, House Braca invited B’Elanna’s suitemates over and a few other friends to say their good bye, in the Klingon fashion of course. It was the last night for all of them to party. They did not limit themselves to three drinks and managed to drink up the remaining wine, which was kept in a ten-gallon container.

Gwort got into several head butting contests with some of the partygoers, which he won handedly.

The next morning, there were quite a few hangovers and green faces at breakfast. It was a workday and B’Elanna returned to House Braca after breakfast for her farewells.

There were many hugs and tears. B’Elanna vowed that she would go to QonoS as soon as she was released and meet her other House members.

B’Elanna went on to work, but throughout the day, she would feel like crying. She tried not to be obvious about it and her workmates gave her space and made no comments about her red eyes and puffy face.

She owed House Braca a lot. Especially, Grilga. She led B’Elanna to discover her Klingon heart.

xxx

CHAPTER TEN

xxx

B’Elanna missed her Klingon companions. Now, she was the only Klingon at Red Rock.

Things had changed a lot in the almost two years she was here. Hoops was leaving in another month.

She spent her free time playing poker, watching Vids and reading her latest engineering journals and magazines. She also followed the news about the Dominion and problems in the Bajoran sector as well as in the sector the Maquis operated in. She was itching to get back into action. She had at least another two years to go, that is, if she got an early release. She just needed to keep clean.

The night before Hoops left, she retrieved the five bottles of wine she had hid under her bed and she and her suitemates and a few other friends, had a going away party.

The next morning, Hoops was gone, leaving the three wondering whom they would get next as a suitemate.

A week later, their new suitemate arrived, an older human woman in her sixties who had forged documents for the Maquis showing that they were Starfleet personnel and enabling a few to gain entrance into a Starfleet weapons depot. She was sentenced to one year. Her name was Carla Sinclair. Everyone took to her right away. She had a sharp wit and seemed to look on the bright side of things.

A week after B’Elanna’s two-year anniversary at Red Rock, she was at breakfast when Carlson hurriedly approached her table. She could see that he was upset and almost in tears. B’Elanna was sitting in her chair next to the aisles. Carlson knelt by her chair and said, “They’re dead B’Elanna. All dead.” His face was white and his voice shaken.

“Who’s dead? Who are you talking about?” She exclaimed.

The others at her table stopped eating and looked at them with both confusion and concern.

“The Maquis. The Dominion and their Cardie lapdogs got them all,” he said as he choked back a sob.

“What? Where did you hear this?” Her voice rose with excitement.

“Oliver… who works in the library just came down and told me. It’s on all the web networks.”

B’Elanna got up from her chair so quickly that it fell over with a clatter. She ran down the aisle and up the back stairs, one of the guards, Collins, calling for her to stop and chasing after her.

She ran to the library section and saw several galactic web vids running. Oliver and a helper were watching the vid screens. The story was running on several of them.

The guard, Collins, came up and said, “Hey, what do you…” He stopped abruptly, his attention caught by the newscaster going over the events.

Carlson, Carla, and Morvas joined B’Elanna, with a few former Bajoran resistance fighters. No one said a word as the different reports came in of the Jem Hadar and Cardassians overrunning the various Maquis camps and bases: Killing not only the Maquis but their families as well, sparing no one.

Some newscasters and their crews had managed to ‘sneak’ onto the moons and planets and take pictures of what remained.

The gruesome scenes showed the bloated bodies of the dead, the bodies of children among them. The remains of corpses that had been carelessly thrown in piles were shown. There were shelters in the background still smoldering from being set on fire.

B‘Elanna said nothing while viewing this, only tasting the bitter bile that flooded her mouth. She thought of the various Maquis she had met. One in particular. It was just before the Federation caught her. They had stopped over at one of the main settlements for a couple of weeks. She was sure it was one of the ones she saw burning on the Vid screen. She had met a striking Bajoran woman, named Ro Laren. They had had a few passionate nights together that were unforgettable and both hoped they would come across each other again. B’Elanna prayed she was not one of the dead.

She suddenly threw back her head and howled, the sound shattering the morning and resounding throughout the building. She put all of her heart and soul into it. She would let Sto’vo’kor know that many brave warriors were not forgotten and were on their way.

She hoped that her comrades managed to take many of the bastards with them. She felt guilty that she lived. She wished she had been there to kill a few of the Cardie dogs and their masters. Even if it meant she would suffer the same fate.

She heard soft weeping around her and turned without looking back, left the library and the building and went to her job.

xxx

CHAPTER ELEVEN

xxx

A month later, B’Elanna received a correspondence crystal from Grilga on QonoS. She greeted B’Elanna with a smile and said Gwort and Elar had joined the Klingon Guard and were serving onboard ship under General Martok.

The smuggling business was put on hold because of the Dominion problems and the Romulan Star Empire, Federation, and Klingon Empire had increased patrols because of this and it would be too easy to get caught.

She would have gone with her siblings, but her elderly mother wanted her close by.

She had talked to her uncle, Gason, about her action of adopting B’Elanna into the House of Braca. He was impressed by the stories he heard about her and was looking forward to meeting her. He felt that it was a good decision on Grilga‘s part to have added B’Elanna to the House and this caused Grilga to gain much prestige in his eyes.

B‘Elanna could see the pride in Grilga‘s eyes as she relayed this. Then her expression turned serious.

B’Elanna. I visited your mother, Miral, as I said I would. She received me with honor into her home. I told her the story of how we met and of your bravery and how you had proven yourself a warrior in your time with the Maquis.”

Grilga smiled wryly. “Needless to say she was not impressed.” Then I told her of how my siblings and I had the honor of participating in your Rite of Ascension. You should have seen the look on her face. It was priceless, my sister. She could not have been more amazed if Kahless himself had suddenly appeared before her. I told her that you had found your Klingon heart. She could but stare as one who has turned to stone. I informed her how House Braca was honored to have adopted you and you were now my sister. I will let her tell you herself of how she feels. Her message to you is at the end of mine. My sister, let me hear from you soon.”

B’Elanna pulled out the crystal, closed her eyes, and breathed deeply. Was she ready to hear her mother‘s words? Would her mother be proud? Or, somehow think she was unworthy to call herself a Klingon after long denying her heart?

B’Elanna’s hand started to shake and she could barely place the chip back in the media-system. Finally, she had it in place and pressed the button.

There was her mother’s face. She had not seen it in almost six years. The last time being when she left for Starfleet Academy. Her mother had looked at her with scorn and told her not to come back. She was not her daughter for she was not Klingon.

B‘Elanna. I am glad you are well and that you did not die at the hands of the P’taQ Dominion and Cardassian devils. I had feared that you did, and prayed that you sent many of these vermin to Gre’thor and that you were received in Sto’vo’kor as a hero. When Grilga told me you were alive and that you were a brave warrior and hero, I let old angers and hurt keep me from showing my joy. I am a fool my daughter, please forgive me.

She told me of how you had gone through your Rite of Ascension and had claimed your Klingon heart. This, of course, was my one dream, that you do so. But then again, I knew in my heart that you would someday acknowledge and accept that you were Klingon. I also knew in my heart that you were always Klingon. I felt such joy but at the same time, remorse. Remorse that I tried to force you to accept what you were not ready to accept. You are a child of my heart and take very much after me. You are stubborn and headstrong, as am I. You would not listen to reason. You have inherited this trait from me. After all, I went against my family’s wishes and married your father.” She smiled when she said this.

I am proud of you my daughter. House Braca is a fine house and I am proud that they have adopted you. Keep well, my daughter. I love you and have always loved you. I hope to give you a warrior’s welcome when you return to QonoS.”

Miral’s image faded and B’Elanna felt tears roll down her cheeks. She put her head in her hands and cried.

xxx

CHAPTER TWELVE

xxx

Six months later, Tratten called B‘Elanna into his office and told her to have a seat. He looked at her across his desk and said, “Well, Torres, looks like I’m getting out in another couple of months. I talked to the Warden and told him I thought you should replace me. He agreed.”

He had been sentenced to seven years for his involvement in a ring that would steal private space yacht and ships: Take them to a moon in the Orion system and strip them for parts. It was rumored that he was a part of the Orion syndicate, but no one knew for sure and no one wanted to ask. Knowing things like that could get you killed.

B’Elanna smiled and said teasingly, “Your shoes will be hard to fill Tratten.”

He laughed heartily at this. Telerites had cloven hoofs like pigs and seldom wore any type of footwear.

“You’re a damn good engineer, Torres. When you get out of this place, look me up. I may have something for you. Just go into the Twilight Tavern on Hurgate Three and tell the owner Tratten wants to see ya. The owner is my sister. It’s right outside the Orion belt.” He winked at her.

“I’ll consider it,” B’Elanna smiled and said. No way would she do it of course. She didn’t want to get involved with the syndicate.

xxx

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

ONE YEAR LATER

xxx

B’Elanna opened up the back of the Warden’s aero-car, leaned over into the engine casing, and checked the conduits and cables to make sure the connectors were tight. She was suddenly aware of movement beside her and looked back under her arm to see a well-shaped tan pair of legs in a set of yellow short-shorts, and a bare midriff.

She righted herself and turned. She was only about three feet away from a young woman, who looked like she was around twenty. She was about the same height as B’Elanna and was what could be thought of as cute. She possessed strawberry blond hair in fluffy waves to her shoulders and a pair of half-lidded dark blue eyes that gave B’Elanna a slow appreciative look over.

B’Elanna couldn’t help that her eyes were drawn to a pair of generous breast displayed nicely in a midriff blouse tied under them with the top buttons undone and exposing a nice amount of cleavage. They seemed to expand as she was looking at them and she realized that the woman was actually ‘displaying’ them to her by slightly drawing her shoulders back and breathing deeply.

“Kahless!” She felt a jolt of arousal, but the sound of her own voice brought her back to her senses and she jerked her eyes up and into the face of the smirking woman. B’Elanna felt herself blush.

“I’d say you’re an improvement over what I’ve seen come over to do tune-ups before.” She boldly looked B’Elanna over again and pursed her lips, and added, “A big improvement.”

This looks like trouble, big trouble.’

“You must not have been around much. I’m now the head of the maintenance garage, and have been for the past year. I’ve been over once every month to make sure everything is running okay.”

“I’ve been away a lot. I’m a sophomore at the University of California. I’m home for summer break.” She paused and said, “Oh, where are my manners. I’m Casey Leigh.” She held out her hand.

Yep. Trouble. The Warden’s daughter.’

B‘Elanna held up her hands and said. “Better not. I don’t want to get any grease or fluid on you. I‘m B’Elanna Torres.”

“Do you like doing this kind of thing? Repairing aero-cars and such.”

“It’s okay. I also get to work on a couple of the colony’s shuttles. That’s more in my line of work.”

“Oh? What line of work is that?”

“Engineering. Mostly on Starships.”

“Oh. An Engineer. Where did you study?”

“Starfleet Academy.”

“Oooh. I bet you look ‘nice’ in a uniform,” She slowly ran her eyes salaciously up and down B’Elanna’s body.

“That was a long time ago.” ‘She’s flirting. Don’t go there.’ “I better finish this up. It was nice meeting you.” B’Elanna reached down, picked up one of the containers of fluid, and turned back to the open engine compartment.

She felt Casey move up beside her and her arm brushed B’Elanna’s as the young woman bent over to look into the engine, causing her breasts to almost pop out of her blouse.

Casey kept her arm against B’Elanna’s and the Klingon moved over a step, drawing in her breath and breathing in the scent of the woman’s perfume and a headier underlying scent of female arousal. This caused her to growl deep in her throat. It had been well over three years, going on four, since she was last with a woman.

“I’ve never really looked into one of these before. What exactly are you doing?” Casey said innocently.

B’Elanna quickly drew back from the opening, stood, and snarled, “What exactly are ‘you’ doing? I don’t have time for games. I suggest you leave and let me finish my work.”

Casey stood up, her face red, nostrils flaring, and chest heaving. She put her hands on her hips and said, “Kind of uppity for a ‘con’ aren’t you. You think I’d want a…loser… like you?” She looked B’Elanna up and down contemptuously and added, “Some …whatever you are…Klingon…half breed?”

B’Elanna laughed derisively and sarcastically said, “Baby, something tells me you’re not real choosy in who, or what, you would…want…or fuck.”

Casey stepped forwarded and slapped B’Elanna hard across the face.

B’Elanna growled and quickly snatched the woman to her by her upper arms and crushed her against her body, kissing her hard. Casey struggled for a moment before putting her arms around B’Elanna’s neck and back of her head, grabbing a handful of hair, and bringing the Klingon’s mouth roughly against her own.

She bit B’Elanna on her bottom lip and B’Elanna jerked her head back and sucked her bottom lip in, tasting the blood.

With blazing eyes, she growled dangerously low and whipped her hand out, ripped the front of Casey’s blouse open and seized a breast with her right hand and the back of the woman’s head with her left. She crushed her lips against Casey’s and felt their teeth knock against each other’s. Casey opened her mouth and B’Elanna plundered it with her tongue, feeling the woman’s tongue caress and slide against hers. B’Elanna flicked her thumb over a stiff nipple while squeezing the soft breast causing Casey to moan.

Casey pushed her away, her eyes dilated, mouth open and breathing heavily. She breathlessly said, “In the car.”

B’Elanna grabbed her by the wrist and quickly walked the few steps to the back door. Sliding it open, she got in and let the back seat down until it made a wide bench. She dragged Casey in, pushing her onto the back seat, fell on top of her, and put her hand on her breast.

They kissed passionately and B‘Elanna continued to squeeze the soft breast and thumb the nipple. She got on her knees between Casey‘s legs and quickly tugged the woman’s shorts and panties down, removing them and the shoes. She pushed Casey’s legs open and gazed at the glistening wetness that was seeping from the swollen pink opening and breathed in the scent of a fully aroused woman.

Casey moaned and looked at her through lidded eyes, breathing through her mouth and roughly said, “Take your clothes off. I want you naked.”

B’Elanna pulled off her shoes and then her pants, tossing them on the floor. She reached for the bottom of her shirt to pull it off, feeling the ache of her breasts as the material skimmed over them.

She fell onto Casey and pulled the woman’s head back with her hand in the woman’s hair, licked, and nibbled along her neck. She placed her leg between the woman‘s thighs, feeling the warm wetness against the top of her own thigh. She took her other hand, inserted it between her leg and Casey’s sex, and quickly entered with one and then two fingers. Casey moaned, undulating her hips as B’Elanna thrust her fingers slowly in and out while she bit and tongued the area of the neck right above the shoulder.

Casey groaned out, “More.”

B’Elanna inserted a third and then a fourth finger into the slick, warm wetness, and thrust in and out. She slid to the side to allow better movement of her hand and pressed her own aching and throbbing core against Casey’s hip.

Casey undulated more wildly now and groaned out roughly, “Fuck me. Fuck me hard.”

B‘Elanna increased the tempo and pressure, growling deep. She could hear her hand moving through the wetness and the slap of her thumb against the swollen clit.

Casey moaned with every thrust and dug her nails into B‘Elanna‘s shoulder. She stilled and raising her hips up and arching her back, cried out loudly at each thrust. B’Elanna felt a gush of warm wetness on her fingers and palm. Casey collapsed back on the seat and said, “Enough! No more.”

B’Elanna slowed her thrusting but did not remove her fingers. She kissed Casey hard and jerked her head back by the hair, hissing into her ear, “I’ll decide when it’s ‘enough’.”

Casey whimpered but started moving her hips once again. B’Elanna increased the tempo and Casey screamed out as another orgasm hit her. B’Elanna felt its strength through the strong contraction of the woman’s vaginal muscles around her fingers.

Casey’s breathing was harsh and ragged and she was gasping for breath.

B’Elanna removed her hand, then lay on her side and slid up some against the hot body. Taking Casey’s hand, she moved it between her thighs to her center.

Casey rolled almost on top of B’Elanna, rubbed her fingers through the wetness, and massaged the hard bud. She then inserted two fingers and began thrusting in and out.

B’Elanna was already close, this drove her over the edge, and she shuddered and groaned, feeling her vaginal muscles spasm around the fingers. Casey continued to move her fingers, and added a third. She bit B’Elanna hard on her shoulder and again pushed her over the edge.

Casey removed her fingers, moved up B’Elanna’s body and kissed her firmly, and said, “I’m ready for round two.”

It took B’Elanna a long moment to catch her breath enough to say, “We could get caught.”

Casey smirked and said, “No. We won’t. Daddy has another two and a half hours before he’s back from work and Mom’s got business in New York and won’t be back until tomorrow. Just think how much we can…do… in just two hours.”

B‘Elanna pulled Casey firmly on top of her. She could think of a lot they could do in two hours.

xxx

B’Elanna had seven occasions to do ‘repairs’ at the Warden’s residence in the next four weeks. These ‘repairs’ ceased as soon as Casey went back to college. They had used the back seat of the warden’s car and Casey had the foresight to use a deodorizer and bring a towel to spread on the seat.

This hadn’t been about love, or even friendship, and neither had proclaimed this to each other. There was nothing particularly sweet and tender in their actions. This was purely raw lust and sex: An act to satiate appetites. And, perhaps, on B’Elanna’s part, an act of aggression and asserting control that she did not want to examine too closely: Afraid she wouldn’t like what she saw.

Casey liked it on the rough side and B’Elanna was willing to give it to her. And take it from her. She had bites and scratches on various parts of her body. She never allowed Casey to give them to her were they would show.

On their last time together, Casey had told her that she would be back after the semester ended in another twelve weeks. She would be here for two weeks then, and laughingly told B’Elanna she would most definitely need her to come by and do ‘repairs’.

xxx

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

xxx

B’Elanna was coming up on her four-year anniversary at Red Rock. Both she and Carlson were notified that there would be a hearing in another month to decide if they should be released early.

Both had kept their noses clean, as far as the official reports went, and worked hard. Warden Leigh informed them that he would recommend release. This was as good as saying the deed was done.

There was no danger of them joining the few Maquis that survived the massacre. The Dominion War had just ended and Cardassia had paid the ultimate price in siding with the Dominion. Their planet was in shambles and over 800 million Cardassians died when the Dominion ‘punished’ them for turning against them.

Even B’Elanna thought it was too harsh of a price to pay. She couldn’t blame all the Cardassians for the atrocities that had been committed over the decades of their occupation of Bajor and their massacre of the Maquis. What a government, and those in power, did in the name of ‘the people’ was often a sham. For many times ‘the people’ did not approve what was done in their name.

xxx

“Hey, Boss, I finished up that drive on the pump system in field four. Anything else you want me to do?” inquired Carlson, as he looked at B’Elanna who was seated in her office going over a PADD.

She looked up and said, “Good. Could you help Udono with one of the conveyor mechanisms over in the warehouse? She’s getting ready to go over there in an hour or so.”

“No problem. I’ll go over and tell her I’m helping.”

“Thanks.” The beep of the comm unit on her desk immediately interrupted her. “Torres.”

The screen cleared to show Sylva Schoonor’s face. B’Elanna detested the woman. She was always so condescending when she talked to you.

“Torres. Jeff…I mean, Warden Leigh wants you to go over to his residence and check his wife’s aero-car. It wouldn’t start this morning.”

B’Elanna said, “I’ll get on it right away, Torres out.” She immediately cut the connection to peeve Sylva off by not giving her the chance to terminate it. Sylva’s use of the Warden’s first name didn’t escape her either. It was her way of trying to show that she and the Warden had more than a work relationship. No, they weren’t lovers, but Sylva was close friends with the Warden’s wife. She liked to think that she was the Warden’s second in command.

B’Elanna grabbed her tool bag on the way out of the office and placed it in the wagon bed of a cart. She headed out to the Warden’s residence.

Once there, she parked outside the garage and exited the cart and retrieved her tool bag. She opened the garage and went in and stopped abruptly, surprised at what, or rather who, she saw leaning against the back of the Warden’s aero-car.

“Ms. Torres. How prompt you are. It’s good to see someone who is always…eager… to get to work,” said a smirking Casey. She was dressed in a pair of tight jeans and a tight, short sleeve red knit top. As usual, the top displayed a generous amount of cleavage. She looked B’Elanna up and down lasciviously, and slowly licked and bit her bottom lip.

“Ms. Leigh.” B’Elanna nodded her head once, walked over to Mrs. Leigh’s aero-car, and opened the door to the driver’s side.

Before she could get in to test the engine, Casey said, “Oh, I assure you nothing is wrong with the car. Why, after I called Daddy to tell him it wouldn’t start, I tried again, and it started right up. Silly me, I forget to push the activation button for all systems.”

B’Elanna smirked and said, ‘I’ll just double check.” She got in and activated all systems then pushed the start button. The engine hummed to life. She let it run for a minute or two while she did a diagnostic.

She switched off the engine and exited the car. “Looks like everything is fine. Guess I’ll head back. I have other things to do.”

She grabbed her bag off the floor and started to walk out of the garage. “Nice seeing you again, Ms. Leigh.”

Casey walked up to her and said, “Quit the act, Torres. You’re not going anywhere.” She grabbed B’Elanna around her shoulders and kissed her soundly, running her tongue over the Klingon’s lips. She broke the kiss and said, “At least not until you’ve finished the…repair… job I have for you.”

B’Elanna dropped her tool bag, quickly and roughly pulled Casey against her and kissed her, opening the woman’s mouth with her tongue and plunging it deep within, feeling Casey’s tongue stroke hers. She ran her hand under and up Casey’s knit top and squeezed a breast. Ripping her mouth from Casey’s she said facetiously, “Welcome, home, Ms. Leigh. Now, show me just what you…learned…at that University of yours.”

xxx

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

xxx

Bresin folded his cards and placed them on the table. “I’m out. Anyone want something from the concession stand?”

“Nothing for me,” Carlson said.

“I’m fine,” B‘Elanna said as she looked at her cards. She nibbled the tender area on her bottom lip from the bite that Casey had given her earlier that day. Casey would be leaving in another two days. B’Elanna had managed to do ‘repairs’ and tune-ups, four times in the last twelve days. She had arranged to see her one more time tomorrow for a ‘tune-up’. Casey had said tomorrow was her birthday and what better way to celebrate.

Casey had wanted her to schedule more, but B’Elanna told her she had other duties to do and besides, the risk of them being caught was just too much and the Warden was using his aero-car for business on a regular basis. Mrs. Leigh’s aero-car was only a two seater and couldn’t accommodate what activities they would engage in.

The Warden’s house was off limits. B’Elanna’s wristband would trigger an alarm if she crossed the threshold.

“You ready for your hearing?” asked Carlson.

“About as ready as I will be,” B’Elanna replied.

“Just think. In another couple of days, you two will be on your way out of here. I have another year until I’m up for early release,” said Ricki.

“That’s just the hearing, though. It will take us at least a week to know if it has been approved,” B’Elanna said.

“Yeah, but, we’ve been clean. The Warden said he was recommending early release. It’s in the bag. I mean, no way we can screw this up,” replied Carlson.

“Deal me two more. Don’t jinx it Carlson. We’re not out of here until the ‘fat targ squeals’,” said B’Elanna.

Ricki said, “I thought that was until the ‘fat lady sings’.

“Whatever. Just as long as they’re not singing or squealing out Klingon Opera,” B’Elanna said.

“What’s the first thing you’re doing when you’re sprung from here, Carlson?” Ricki asked.

“Go over to Mars Port and find me a woman,” Carlson said.

“A woman? I thought you and what’s-her-name was doing the deed,” B’Elanna said.

“Where you been? We broke that off a couple of months ago,” Carlson said crossly.

Ricki snorted and said, “She…broke that off a couple of months ago.”

Carlson glared at her but said nothing.

B’Elanna gave him a pointed look and said, “You better watch what you pick up over in Mars Port. I heard some of those ‘babes’ aren’t really women. Some of the ‘hunks’ aren’t men either. Might be one of those Changelings from the Dominion.”

Ricki turned to B’Elanna and teasingly asked, “What about you B‘Elanna. It’s been a long time for you. You gonna find yourself a woman?”

B’Elanna smiled and said, “No. I’m going home to visit my mother and House Braca.”

Ricki chuckled and wryly said, “You ain’t normal, Girl. You a eunuch or something? I know you haven’t been getting any since you got here, or we would know. That bed of yours is as chaste as a nun’s.”

“How do you know I’m not getting it in someone else’s bed?”

“We would know that, too. In this place, you know who’s doing it before they do it.”

“What, Bresin been reading thoughts?” B’Elanna facetiously asked.

Bresin had just walked up and was taking his seat. “Hell no. Any thoughts I read, I keep to myself. I’ll live longer that way. I will say this: B‘Elanna hasn’t, nor is she currently, getting it from any…inmate… here at Red Rock.” He looked at B’Elanna and smiled knowingly.

B’Elanna smiled back, baring her teeth, a warning in her eyes.

Ricki said, “Damn, Girl. Like I said, you just ain’t normal.”

xxx

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

xxx

‘Ahhhh!” Casey arched her back as she came and then collapsed back on the seat. She breathed through her mouth as B’Elanna looked down at her with a smug smile on her face.

Casey put her arms above her head and stretched, causing her breasts to lift. B‘Elanna bent her head and flicked her tongue over a nipple, feeling its stiffness.

Casey pulled B’Elanna’s head up by the back of her hair, looked up at her, and smiled. “This is one birthday I’m going to long remember.” She sighed and said, “I’m going to miss you.”

B’Elanna snorted and said, “No, you won’t. You’ll miss this.” She inserted two fingers into Casey’s vagina and pushed, once, forcefully.

“Ahh. That, too. You know, when you’re released you can always visit me at the U of Cal. My friends would be sooo, jealous. Of course, I can think of at least one, maybe two that would love to join us.” She lifted her brow once when she said this. “You ever do that, Babe? Have more than one at a time?”

“No. That’s never interested me. I’m strictly one on one.”

Casey traced B‘Elanna‘s lips with her finger and then stuck her finger between B‘Elanna‘s teeth where it was nipped. “Of course, I wouldn’t want to share.” She put her hand around to the back of B’Elanna’s head and drew her down for a kiss and started rotating her hips slowly around B‘Elanna‘s fingers.

The kiss continued and B’Elanna began a slow tempo of in and out with her fingers.

Suddenly there was the sound of the side door opening and, “What the Hell!”

B‘Elanna quickly rolled off Casey and onto the floor in front of the seat, grabbing pieces of her clothing and trying to cover herself. She looked up toward the door and saw a red faced and angry Warden Leigh, a shocked Poodle, and one of the guards, Collins, who also acted as chauffeur, looking in at them.

Casey had scooted back against the far door and tried to cover herself with her shirt.

“What the hell is going on here!” A surprised Warden Leigh shouted.

“What does it look like Daddy? Now shut the damn door and let us get dressed,” Casey huffed.

Warden Leigh took one long look at B’Elanna and frowned, his face red. He slammed the door shut and Casey looked at B‘Elanna and smirked, “OOPS.”

“Oops? Is that all you can say. I’m in deep shit now and ‘oops’ is all you can say?” B’Elanna angrily said as she struggled to pull her pants over her hips.

“Babe, don’t sweat it. I’ll have a talk with him. He might rant and rave but what can he do?”

“I can just kiss my hearing for early release goodbye tomorrow. That is what he can do.” B’Elanna fumed as she put her shoes on.

“He won’t do anything. You’ll see.”

“I just hope you’re right.”

They both exited the car and Warden Leigh looked disgustedly at B’Elanna and said, “Get this…Thing…out of my sight! Take her to lock up. If she resists, call more guards.”

“Daddy. Calm down. We were just having a little fun, that’s all.”

“A LITTLE FUN! You Slut! Get in the house now!” He bellowed, his face going from dusky red to purple.

Casey rolled her eyes and huffed off into the house, her irate father behind her.

Collins looked at B’Elanna, shook his head, and said, “Come with me.”

She nodded and glared at a smirking Poodle before following Collins out of the garage and over to her cart, where she got in and Collins squeezed into the seat by her.

She started the cart up and put it in drive. When they were away from the Warden’s residence, Collins said, “Bad move, Torres. Not to mention, bad timing. We were on our way to a meeting in Mars Port. You know, the Warden is a man that holds a grudge. You won’t be going to the hearing tomorrow.”

“Hey, we didn’t do anything wrong. We’re both adults,” B’Elanna protested.

He looked at her pointedly and then laughed. “Lucky for you that today she is officially an adult.” He noticed B’Elanna’s confused look and added, “Today’s her eighteenth birthday.”

“What the Gre’thor are you saying? She’s twenty today and a sophomore in college! At the University of California!” B’Elanna almost shouted.

“Oh, she goes to the University of California all right, but she just started her freshman year last semester.”

B’Elanna shook her head in denial, saying, “You’re wrong--she was there last year. She said so when she was out for summer break. She said she was nineteen and today is her twentieth birthday.”

Collins gave a bemused snort and said, “Oh Yeah? She lied to you, Torres. She was in boarding school last year.” He looked closely at her and inquired, “Summer break? This has been going on since then hasn’t it?”

B’Elanna felt as if she had been stunned by a phaser and only managed to groan, putting her head in her hands.

Collins shook his head and matter of fact, said, “If it makes you feel any better, you’re not the first to think she’s older than what she is. That kid has been thirty years old since she was fourteen. She was an early bloomer, if you know what I mean,” he held his hands cupped out from his chest, “She’s ‘knowledgeable’ too. If I didn’t know better, I’d think she was one of those joined Trills with a five hundred year old worm in her that spent several lifetimes as a courtesan.”

B’Elanna gave a deep sigh and said, “It doesn’t make me feel any better. Collins, if you had a phaser I’d get you to shoot me now. I feel like some kind of a pervy.” B’Elanna looked at him suspiciously and said almost disgustedly, “How do you know this anyway? Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know.”

He laughed. “Not me. No way. Wrong sex. She prefers those with the xx chromosomes. I‘ve been acting as the Warden‘s chauffer for the last six years. Let‘s just say that I’ve driven him, or his wife, to get Little Lolita out of trouble several times. She once used a fake I.D to get into a Mars Port bar and solicited an undercover officer for sex.”

“Kahless! At fourteen!” B’Elanna almost ran the cart off the road.

“Hey, watch it Torres. She was fifteen. At fourteen, she was doing the senior class girls in the girl’s bathroom at her school. She solicited the officer on a dare from some of her friends and thought it would be fun. Her mug shot is in all the Mars Port police profile books.

“That’s one reason her parents sent her to boarding school. One of those archaic religious ones on Earth where the members practice celibacy. She wasn’t expelled, which was amazing. I figure it was because she seduced half the staff and they liked it. That one could make you lose your religion.”

“Or turn religious,” B’Elanna snorted and wryly said.

“How’s that?”

“I‘m thinking of taking a vow of celibacy after this.”

xxx

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

xxx

B‘Elanna spent the night in ‘lock up’, which was a set of cells in the administration building used for unruly prisoners.

She was now standing in front of Warden Leigh’s desk dreading what would come next.

It was just her and the Warden. Collins was told to leave her and go, and Poodle was in the outer office with a sour look on her face when she learned she wasn‘t to witness what occurred in the Warden‘s office.

Leigh’s face was twisted into a frown, as he looked her up and down before saying, “Torres. I should press charges on you for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. However, my daughter is now eighteen and has admitted that she lied to you about her age, and she was the one to initiate the…affair. But don‘t think you‘re off the hook. I’m stripping you of your job as head of the garage and assigning you to field work. I would love to put this on your record and give you more punishment. But the…nature… of this…incident… and who it involves precludes this going into the official records.”

B’Elanna knew he was keeping it out of the records and off hers, as he didn’t want his daughter’s name involved. It would be an embarrassment to him. She almost felt like telling him she knew what a whore dog his daughter was but this would piss him off even more. And, after all, Casey did admit she started the whole sordid affair. B‘Elanna was just as big a whore dog for getting involved with her.

“What about the hearing today for my release?” She asked cautiously.

“As for your hearing today, you can kiss that good bye. The hearings officer was already here this morning and has left.” He paused for a moment and said, “You will get another chance in three months. A word of warning--you are to keep your mouth shut as to what happened. If I hear that you have been spreading this around, I can make it hard for you, Torres.”

“Believe me, if word gets out, it won’t be from me.”

“Very well. You’re dismissed.”

B’Elanna felt fortunate in a way, she got off easy. She just wondered how long it would be before the whole P.C. knew about this. This kind of news had a way of getting out and traveling at warp speed.

And there were two other witnesses. She wasn’t sure about Collins but she just knew Poodle would start barking on every street corner in Mars Port and here at the P.C.

xxx

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

xxx

“I wish you were getting out with me and Dalby. It’s not fair you have to wait until you have your hearing and then wait another month to get out,” Carlson said as he sat in one of the easy chairs in B’Elanna’s suite. He was being released tomorrow. He snickered and said, “Boy, B’Elanna, but bonking the Warden’s daughter, that took some guts. And, in the back seat of his aero-car. I hear she’s as hot as a super nova. You’re a legend in your own time.”

B‘Elanna sighed and rolled her eyes, wryly saying, “I don’t know why everyone believes that. I never said anything like that happened.”

“Okay. Then what did happen to make the Warden take your job away and make you a field hand? I mean, you won‘t say anything.”

“It’s like I said--the Warden and I had a little disagreement. I can’t go into it. Okay. Let’s drop it.” To change the subject she said, “Remember, if you find out about any of the Maquis that survived, you’re going to send me a list of names.”

“I’ll do that, for sure, if I can find out.” He had a sad look on his face as he looked at the wall chronometer and said, “It’s getting close to curfew. Guess it‘s time to get back to my suite. I don‘t want to be late and have the Warden be spiteful and not let me go tomorrow.”

Both Maquis comrades stood up and hugged each other.

“You take care, Carlson. I’ll catch you on the flyby,” B‘Elanna said, a small catch in her voice.

“We’ll do that.” He smiled sadly and turned to go. B’Elanna watched him walk through the door.

In three months, if I’m lucky, I’ll be walking out that door one last time.’

xxx

“Damn, Girl, I’m going to miss you,” sniffed Ricki as she hugged B’Elanna.

B’Elanna smiled sadly and said with a voice strained by emotion, “I’m going to miss you guys, too.”

She hugged Bresin around his neck and said, “I’ll write.”

Bresin sighed and smiled lopsidedly. “We’ll do the same. Of course, there is not much to write about…now that you’re gone. You gave me plenty of things to write Hoops and Carla about these last few months,” he wagged his eyebrows and laughed.

B‘Elanna drew back and looked at him with some dismay. “How the Gre’thor did you do that? I thought our mail was censored.”

“It is, but I sent them both a present; a vid crystal with the latest flick from Ballywood I bought at the commissary. It just happened to have a little message from me superimposed on the opening credits.”

B‘Elanna hit him on the shoulder and said, “How come you never taught me that trick?”

Ricki put her hands on her hips, frowned, and demanded, “Yeah, Bresin. How come you didn’t share it with the rest of us?”

He shrugged, smirked, and said, “A man’s got to have some secrets.”

“This coming from a Betazoid. Unbelievable,” snorted Ricki.

B’Elanna picked up her travel bag and said, “I’ll know now to pay attention to the credits on any vid you guys send me.”

“Do take care, B’Elanna,” Ricki said.

B’Elanna nodded and headed out the door of her suite and to freedom.

xxx

CHAPTER NINETEEN

xxx

B’Elanna stood before the huge wood, iron double door, lifted the knocker, and forcefully banged it three times. She straightened her Klingon armor, the black suit that House Braca had made for her for her Rite of Ascension, and stood straight, feet planted firmly on the stone step and her shoulders back.

She had been released from Red Rock Penal Colony two weeks ago and had made her way across the Federation on several passenger vessels to the edge of the Federation, where she paid for transportation on a Klingon cargo vessel heading for QonoS.

She had worn her armor the two days she was on the Klingon vessel. This let the crew on the vessel know she was a Warrior. Of course, she had to trade insults and threats as well as quaff a large amount of blood wine and eat a good quantity of gagh and raw targ to keep up appearances.

She thought that her stomach would never be the same again. She had managed to keep the food down and didn’t pass out from the blood wine. It was sheer will power alone that kept her from hurling her stomach contents.

She was just about to knock again, when she heard muffled footsteps and heard the sound of a small peephole being opened on the door. She peered at an eye that looked at her for a long moment and disappeared.

She heard the sound of the latches being slid open on the doors and then both doors swung open. There was her mother staring at her in astonishment, her eyes quickly running up and down her body and then her mother’s face was split by a wide smile.

Miral laughed and took her in her arms, hugging her tightly, and then releasing her.

“So. I see you have returned a Warrior. Or is that armor just for show?” She said with both amusement and affection.

“My SoS, I return to you as a Warrior. My honor I bring with me. I have traveled the river of blood and sent my foes to Gre’thor,” B’Elanna replied proudly and loudly. This was an old greeting that was often exchanged by warriors to their parents and spouses when returning home from a battle or adventure.

Miral grunted with approval and replied in the traditional way, “Then you have brought me honor and when I depart this life I will serve Kahless on the Black Fleet in Sto’vo’kor.” She took B’Elanna by the arm and said. “Enter my home, Warrior, and let me prepare you food and drink and you will tell me of your battles.”

B’Elanna followed her mother into her home, the double doors loudly clinking shut behind them.

xxx

Grilga slapped B’Elanna hard on her back, clinked her mug of blood wine against B’Elanna’s mug, causing the wine to slosh out and splash on their armor. They both laughed heartedly and threw their heads back, quaffing down the contents.

They were surrounded by sixty-five raucous members of House Braca, who were busy drinking, eating, butting heads, and fighting. This was a feast being held in B’Elanna’s honor as the newest member of House Braca and was a typical Klingon welcome-to-the-family shindig.

B’Elanna had met earlier with House Braca’s Patriarch, Gason, a rangy and grizzled gray haired warrior with one ear missing and an ugly scar running down his left temple to his chin.

His first words to B’Elanna after he looked her up and down were, “Small for a warrior, but it is not the size of a warrior that counts. It is the size of the heart and the fight in the warrior.”

Grilga, Gwort, and Elar, had stood proudly beside her at the meeting. Elar and Gwort now wore the sash of a warrior across their chests and over their armor, for having served with distinction on General Martok’s, now Chancellor Martok, flagship.

Miral, as B’Elanna’s SoS, was invited to the celebration. She was not a member of House Braca, but due to B’Elanna’s status, she would be considered for membership.

Grilga leaned close to B’Elanna and whispered, “Look at my uncle; I believe he is quite taken with your SoS.” She laughed loudly.

B’Elanna looked over at the two, she could hear her mother above the crowd calling Gason an ugly old boar targ who was good for nothing but to sleep and eat all day.

He was grinning delightedly and his eyes were bright.

“Yep. There’s definitely sparks going on between those two,” B’Elanna smirked and said.

“House Braca may be getting another new member, soon,” Grilga said with approval. She then asked B’Elanna, “What are your plans for the future, my sister?”

“I’m not sure yet. I would like to get back to working on a Starship if I can. I want to get my certification as an Engineer in the Federation.”

“Huh. The Empire needs good engineers. Gwort and Elar said they would talk to one of the captains in the Imperial fleet to find you a place on board a Klingon ship.”

“I know. And I appreciate that. I’ll take that into consideration. But, I would really like to get my certification as a Federation engineer as that is where I finished all my training.”

B’Elanna really didn’t want to serve on a Klingon ship. The command structure was a whole lot different and discipline was kept with threats of violence. Often the crew challenged, not only each other, but also their commanders for positions of leaderships. Armed combat was common, and was often to the death.

While she was proud of being Klingon, she really wasn’t accustomed to that kind of life aboard ship. Many Klingons would consider her less than Klingon because of her mixed heritage and she would be challenged frequently because of this. It would probably take many fights to establish herself as someone not to be messed with, and she didn’t want to spend her time looking over her shoulder.

Besides, there was the food issue. She had apparently inherited her stomach from her father. Since being home, she suffered from bouts of indigestion and other stomach upsets, including diarrhea. She had to dose herself with medications. Human ones at that. They were not that easy to get here on QonoS and she knew they would be hard to obtain if she were aboard a Klingon vessel. While she liked a good mug of blood wine every now and then, she would be expected to drink it with her meals when aboard ship. She didn’t even want to think about gagh.

She wanted to find a job in the Federation to keep her skills sharp and then in three years, she would be allowed to test for Certification as an Engineer and be able to get a job on any vessel registered in the Federation.

The Federation Penal System had a list of jobs for released prisoners and she planned to look through them for a position.

Gwort came up to the two women with his arm around a buxom, big boned, handsome woman who was almost as tall as he was. With Gwort was another woman, just as buxom and handsome. It was clear that the two women were sisters.

“B’Elanna, I would like you to meet Twila, and her sister, Ba’ret.” He turned to the two and said, “This is the one I told you about. A new sister of house Braca, B’Elanna Torres. She is a fierce warrior and slew over one hundred Cardassian taHqeq in one day. She would have slain more but they ran away and would not face her.” Gwort smiled proudly.

B’Elanna grimaced, sneered, and loudly said, “What! That is a lie. It was two hundred of Cardassia’s bravest. But it is true that those that remained, ran.” After she said this, she snatched Gwort’s mug of blood wine out of his hands, downed it, and handed the empty cup back to him. She wiped the back of her mouth with her hand, glaring at him.

“Arhh. So it was two hundred. The blood wine has temporarily dulled my senses,” he said.

B’Elanna glared and looked at the two women and then smiled, but showing her teeth. She noticed Ba’ret staring at her intently with a smirk. “Welcome to House Braca, and to this feast in my honor. Help yourself to food and drink,” B’Elanna said jovially.

“We thank you B’Elanna,” Twila said.

“You are…puny…for a warrior. Perhaps these Cardassian slime devils were asleep when you slew them,” Ba’ret said with a smirking smile, showing her teeth.

B’Elanna glared at her and then laughed. “Is it not true that the sting of the small scorpion fly is deadlier than the venomous bite of the giant cave dragon?” B’Elanna knew that the woman was flirting.

“So it is said. It is also said the buzzing of a scorpion fly is more annoying than the bellowing of the giant cave dragon.”

B’Elanna grinned and said, “If I am a fly, why don’t you…swat…me?”

“Had I a swatter, I would,” Ba’ret said saucily with her hands on her hips.

“I am sure there is a swatter somewhere nearby. Let us go and search for one. But first, let’s get food and drink, and then we can look.”

“Yes. I agree. It might take a lot of energy to swat such a…fly…as you.”

B‘Elanna laughed and turned to the others, “I’ll see you later.”

As the two women walked away, Grilga chuckled and said to Twila, “I hope your sister knows that before she swats a fly, she has to catch it first, and that takes…honey.”

xxx

CHAPTER TWENTY

xxx

B’Elanna regarded the small Ferengi male she held by his collar with a sneer and said close to his face, “Ferengi toad. I came here for a job, not to have you leer at me as if I were some cheap trollop. You can take this job and shove it in those big fat ears of yours.”

Having said that, she dropped him, turned, and headed for the door. She found great satisfaction in using her newfound Klingon take-no-crap attitude. Especially on this little weenie.

She had applied for the job as aero-car mechanic on the jungle planet, Purgatory, a month ago and had been offered the position. The pay was good, considering that no one, save sap-tappers and Ferengi, would want to live in the sweltering heat and bug infested environs of this planet.

The planet‘s main resource was the valuable sap from the giant Iussa trees. It was used in the treatment of many ailments in the Federation as well as on non-Federation worlds. Some species even claimed it had aphrodisiac powers.

The population of the planet was around ten million, and despite its drawbacks, it was one of the few places that you could make a ton of credits. Luxury items poured in, including aero-cars. But, there were a shortage of mechanics as well as engineers.

The largest city, Brazilia, had a population of around one million. This is where the job she applied for was currently located.

One reason she took the job was the planet’s location on the Federation/ Klingon boarder. She would be close enough to QonoS to visit her mother and House frequently. Another was to keep at least some of her engineering skills honed until she could get her Federation Engineering certification. Besides, good jobs were hard to come by for former convicts.

The small Ferengi male, Guido, who happened to be the owner of the Aero-car repair shop, hurried after her. “My apologies, Ms. Torres. I had, ah…mistaken you for someone else. Please. Let me make it up to you. I’ll give you two percent over the starting salary.”

B‘Elanna had just opened the door to exit into the wilting heat. She stopped and said, “Five percent, you spawn of a slime toad.” She just threw out that number, not expecting him to offer that. She didn’t have any intentions of working for him.

“Five percent! You would take the food right out of my children’s mouth. I’ll give you two and a half.”

B’Elanna sneered and continued out the door and into the sweltering heat, Guido close behind her, having to run to keep up on his shorter legs.

“Three percent. I can‘t go over that.”

B’Elanna walked on down the sidewalk, trying to avoid the cracked and uneven pavement with weeds and vegetation growing out of them.

“Four percent. I will have to sell my wife’s jewelry to meet that.”

B’Elanna kept walking. Hopefully, she would come to a public comm station soon so she could call an aero-cab to take her back to her hotel.

“Five percent. I‘ll have to sell my wife and children, but five percent.”

B’Elanna stopped and rethought her intentions of working for him. Five percent was good. She rounded on him and gave him a Cheshire Cat grin. “Five percent you little toad. And you don’t leer at me again or I will snatch your eyes out and stuff them in your ears.”

“Come on back in the office and we’ll sign the paper work.”

“Fine, but if you try to cheat me, I will feed you to my pet targ,” she bared her teeth in what she hoped was a menacing way.

He smiled ingratiatingly, showing his crooked pointed teeth.

She had just spent four months on QonoS with her mother and House after her release from the P.C. She had had a good time and even had a girlfriend of sorts, Ba’ret, but it wasn’t serious. They enjoyed an occasional romp together in the bedroom. Or, as B’Elanna liked to think of it, an occasional walk on the wild side. She had had her wrist broken once during an encounter. It was a learning experience, for sure. She learned enough to know that she would probably never take a Klingon as a mate. She wasn’t as ‘tough’ as she thought she was.

Purgatory was as good enough place as any to spend her time until she could be certified--even though it was a dead end job and her boss was a Ferengi dog.

She had arrived on the planet yesterday and reported to the garage today. As soon as she came through the door, she knew she had to do some major intimidation when she saw the little maggot leering at her and staring blatantly at her breasts.

She had been leered at a lot over the years, by males and a few females, but it usually wasn‘t as blatant. She often took that in stride as she sometimes did a little leering of her own, but she tried to be discreet about it. However, there was something about Ferengis that set her teeth on edge. Especially when they leered.

One thing that had a lot to do with her irritation toward them was their attitude toward women. Women were servants and often not allowed to appear in public or go anywhere. They couldn’t own businesses or vote. And, there was even a law that they couldn’t wear clothes in public.

She had heard a rumor that the new Nagus had changed all of this. But she knew old attitudes died hard.

If she were going to work here, then she needed to set the rules. Her rules. That he offered her five percent over the already generous starting salary showed her how desperate he was.

She could use the extra five percent to get her a decent place to rent.

She entered the air-conditioned office and looked over the paperwork and job specifications. She made a few changes, especially as related to days off, and handed it back to him.

He looked it over, was about to protest but then closed his mouth, and sighed.

It wasn’t everyday that one got to get the better of a Ferengi.

She would just put in a little over two and a half years here and then get her certification and move on to what she truly liked doing. Working on a starship as an engineer.

She doubted anything better would come along until that time. After all, she was an ex convict and no matter that she considered the time she served as ‘political’, many employers in the Federation wouldn’t look at the reasons and ideals and only see ‘convict’ and refuse to hire her. She couldn’t be picky about where she worked. No plum position as an engineer would fall in her lap. She would never be that lucky.

xxx

End of Part Two. Continued in Part Three

 

PART THREE.
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