Captain fidgeted around her office like a caffeine-drunk squirrel on a spaceship when Alathea breezed in.

“You asked to see me,” Alathea stated matter-of-factly.

“Yes,” the Captain replied, gesturing towards the sleek sectional in her office. “Sit.”

Alathea sensed a cosmic conspiracy brewing as she settled onto the sectional, folding her arms neatly in her lap. This was undoubtedly about her relentless pursuit to hitch a ride on the upcoming mission. She waited for the captain to spill the space beans.

The captain leaned against her desk, adopting a stance that screamed, “I’m in charge, but I might also break into an interpretative dance at any moment.” “We’re planning to infiltrate a Borg cube,” she declared, her eyes locking onto Alathea’s.

A spark of recognition danced in Alathea’s eyes. This mission resonated with her, like a familiar tune in an alien jazz club. Freeing people from the clutches of the machine—this was her kind of gig. They practically designed her for this.

Captain sized her up, nodding in approval. “You want in, don’t you?”

Alathea leaned forward, her expression as determined as an asteroid on a collision course. “Captain, I’m not just ‘in.’ I’m the key that’ll unlock the cosmic door to liberation. Let’s kick some Borg behinds, shall we?”

Captain plunked herself down beside Alathea, all to make sure she had her undivided attention. She reached for Alathea’s hands, a gesture that screamed, “Hold on to your warp drives, we’ve got a situation.” This was a far cry from the usual stoic delivery of mission briefings.

“Alathea, I know well that you’re practically engineered for missions like this,” Captain began, her eyes searching Alathea’s for a sign that the gravity of the situation had landed.

Alathea nodded. “And trained for it. Top of the line.”

Captain’s expression shifted, hinting at an impending “but.” “But there’s a snag.”

The atmospheric tension could have powered a small moon, and Alathea braced herself for the cosmic revelation.

“You can’t be assimilated,” the captain dropped the bomb, her words hovering in the air like startled space dust.

Alathea raised an eyebrow, processing the unexpected glitch in the mission parameters. “Can’t Doctor Fake-It work some techno-wizardry to make it look like I’m Borg material? A little smoke and mirrors?”

“No. Because assimilation has to happen in the cube itself, not here. We can’t send you there as a full-fledged drone,” the Captain explained, her eyes sincere as a well-programmed protocol. “Listen, your role is crucial. You stay here as a backup. In case something goes wrong, you’ll be our extraction ace. Clear?”

Alathea detected a hint of cosmic deception in Captain’s words. It felt like an extra task, thrown in to sweeten the deal. But challenging the captain on it seemed impossible, especially when she sat across, wearing a gentle smile and holding Alathea’s hands. With a subtle nod, Alathea agreed. She wasn’t thrilled about staying behind.

“Promise me,” Captain insisted, her voice a mix of command and camaraderie, “promise me you’ll do whatever it takes to help us out if our plan hits a wormhole.”

Alathea swallowed hard. “I give you my word.”

“Excellent.” The captain sprang to her feet, pulling Alathea up and into a hug. “I know I can count on you. You’re amazing.” The words felt like a cosmic embrace, even if the mission itself left a bitter taste of stardust in Alathea’s mouth.


The plan had taken an unexpected nosedive, and now it was time for Alathea to make good on her promise. On the bridge, surrounded by the tense air of uncertainty, she found herself locked in the collective gaze of her crewmates, all fixated on the ominous Borg Cube looming in the void.

Alathea turned to Chakotay, the second in command, with a resolve in her eyes. “Chakotay, can I talk with you?”

His response was curt, a reflection of the high-stakes tension in the room. “I’m not in the mood for another criticism of my techniques.”

“It’s not that,” she assured him. “It’s something related to the Empire that I often discussed with the Captain. It might help you.”

Chakotay, still grappling with the aftermath of their thwarted plan, shot her a skeptical look. “I don’t have time for this.”

“It won’t take long,” Alathea pressed on, “and it might give you additional options.”

Their eyes locked in a silent battle of wills. “You won’t go until you talk with me?” Chakotay finally challenged.

Alathea nodded with unwavering determination. “Yes.”

With a resigned exhale, Chakotay gestured for her to proceed. “Go on then, say your piece.” The fate of the mission hung in the balance, and Alathea was ready to offer her a piece of the cosmic puzzle.

Alathea scanned the bridge, a subtle unease settling in. “Here? Captain always tried to keep this stuff private.”

“I’m not Janeway,” Chakotay retorted a hint of defiance in his tone.

Alathea nonchalantly shrugged. “There’s a way to contact the Empire through the Borg. The moment we start contact, the cube will drop its shields, and you’ll be able to beam out all our team members.”

Chakotay raised an eyebrow, skeptical. “That sounds too good to be true.”

“Ask Icheb,” Alathea suggested. “He’ll confirm. The Empire has a weapon that, when fired at active shields, makes them explode, leaving a signature similar to a nuclear explosion. The moment the Borg sees me in my robes, they’ll drop the shields.”

Chakotay processed the information, a mix of surprise and suspicion on his face. “And Captain knew about this?”

Alathea nodded solemnly. “She did. It was her secret weapon, one she hoped never to use. But it might just be the ace up our sleeves that we need right now.” The weight of the revelation hung in the air, a clandestine gambit revealed in the heat of the crisis.

“And why didn’t she tell me or anyone else?” Chakotay demanded, his frustration simmering beneath the surface.

“Because of the consequences of contacting the Empire,” Alathea explained, her gaze steady. “The moment we do that, we’re at their mercy. Based on the Empire’s history, the individuals we would contact are brutes and monsters who wouldn’t stop at anything to use us and toss us aside.”

Chakotay remained silent, his expression a mix of disbelief and contemplation.

“How would they use us?” Tom Paris interjected, breaking the tension with a question.

She turned towards Tom, choosing her words with calculated precision. It was crucial to provide a compelling reason for the captain’s secrecy about contacting the Empire while ensuring she didn’t disclose enough information to thwart their decision. That her involvement would cause her death within a year was a detail best left unsaid, a reality that had restrained the captain from taking this path sooner.

“They would take everything we bring to bargain and potentially destroy us. Or, worst-case scenario, they might decide to obliterate Earth. I can’t say for certain,” Alathea explained, weaving a narrative of caution. “The military leader currently attacking the Borg harbors ambitions of ascending to the throne. His son is in line, but this man, Beli, aims to pave the way, crushing anyone in his path. Presenting him with Earth might be seen as a shortcut to the throne, a way to secure power instead of waiting for his son.”

Chakotay absorbed the information, his expression reflective. “So you’re saying he’s like a Cardassian.”

“I do not know what a Cardassian is,” Alathea admitted.

Alathea studied Chakotay’s face, detecting the readiness to issue the order to contact the Empire. The unspoken command hung in the air, held back perhaps by the collective shock of the bridge crew who had just learned the same information.

“How long has the Captain known about the Empire?” Chakotay pressed.

“Since I came aboard,” Alathea revealed, her gaze unwavering. “After I saw Seven for the first time, I told her about the Holtzman drive and the potential for larger Imperial ships to transfer Voyager home in the blink of an eye. When we picked up Icheb and the other kids, we discovered the possibility of contacting the Empire. That’s when I told her about the dangers.”

Harry cut in, his voice tinged with disbelief. “She knew for months that there’s a way to get to Earth fast?”

Alathea could see his desperation, the yearning for Earth blinding him to other potential dangers. She had them where she wanted them, and she intended to fulfill her promise. “Yes.”

“And you can contact the Empire,” Chakotay stated, his eyes locking onto hers.

“Yes. Through the Borg,” Alathea affirmed.

“And when you contact the Empire, the Borg will drop the shields.”


Chakotay nodded decisively. “As soon as we get repairs done, you will contact the Empire.”

Alathea dipped her head in acknowledgment. “Then I need to change into my Bene Gesserit robe.”


“Open the communication channel!” Alathea commanded, steadying herself against the jolt caused by the Borg cube’s barrage on Voyager.

Seven and Icheb were on the bridge, tucked into the corner that would not show them on the communication camera.

“Channel open,” came the swift response.

Alathea took a steadying breath and, using the Voice, spoke, “Do you have a death wish, damned ones?”

The Borg cube remained silent for a prolonged moment before responding, “What do you wish, witch?”

“Commander, the Borg is scanning the space all around us,” Harry interjected.

“To doll out the punishment. You shot at the ship where I am,” Alathea retorted, using the Voice once again. “But you can mitigate the severity.”

“How?” the Borg inquired.

“I will tell you in an hour,” Alathea replied, nodding towards the communication console. “Can you cut the communications?” The delicate dance between diplomacy and danger unfolded in the tense moments aboard Voyager’s bridge.

“Why did you demand an hour?” Chakotay questioned.

“Tactic,” Alathea replied, her gaze unwavering.

“They didn’t drop the shields,” Harry reported.

“But they stopped shooting at us,” Alathea pointed out.

“You said that they will drop the shields the moment they see you,” Tom reminded her.

“Are our shields up?” Alathea asked.

“Of course.”

“They will drop theirs when we drop ours.”

“What’s your game? You wish to destroy us?” Chakotay’s suspicion hung heavy in the air.

Alathea turned to Icheb and Seven. “Please.” She directed her plea at them, a silent request for trust and understanding as she navigated the complex dance with the Borg. The fate of Voyager rested in the delicate balance between her calculated tactics and the unpredictable response of the Borg cube.

“She’s not lying. That’s all true. The Empire has some strange weapons that can simply blow the whole Cube away if the Cube has shields. If the shields are not up, then parts of the Cube could be evacuated,” Icheb explained, backing Alathea’s assertions.

Chakotay stared at her, still processing the unfolding situation. “And what was this bullshit about punishment?”

Alathea shrugged casually. “That’s the standard Bene Gesserit tactic. They like to announce the punishment before it comes.”

Icheb added, “Yes. There were a few instances when the witch appeared at the communication and said that they have to cleanse our souls.”

Alathea turned to him, a hint of surprise in her eyes. “You never told me that.”

“That’s how I know who you are and what your robes mean,” Icheb responded.

Alathea smiled, realizing that she had an unexpected ally among the Borg. There was another Bene Gesserit with Beli, and that one would meet her end. Alathea felt a sense of safety settling in; she might even stay with Voyager.

“And how do you plan to make the Borg contact the Empire when they didn’t even drop the shields?” Chakotay inquired.

“So that they can avoid punishment,” Alathea replied, a twinkle of mischief in her eyes. The intricate dance between factions and the fate of Voyager continued to unfold in the unpredictable cosmos.

“Bullshit. They will never transmit the message,” Chakotay asserted.

“Borg will do that. They have cubes close to Empire borders,” Alathea countered, turning towards Icheb and Seven, who were standing behind a rail. “Am I right? Borg will do what I ask to avoid punishment?”

“Yes. They will,” Icheb confirmed.

“So I’m supposed to stay here and waste time while our people are in danger?” Chakotay pressed.

“Commander, the Empire can transport us to the Alpha Quadrant,” Harry suggested. “It’s worth a try. We can continue with your plan as soon as she sends the message.”

Chakotay glanced between Harry and the rest of the crew, considering the potential benefits. “She can also ask for our people back,” Tom added.

“That’s been my plan all along,” Alathea affirmed.

“So how long will it take until the Empire reaches us?” Chakotay inquired, the weight of the decision resting heavily on the bridge of Voyager.

“A day or two, maximum.”

“That fast?”

“Yes, they have Holtzman drives.”

“Okay, send your message. We will negotiate with the Empire,” Chakotay decided.

Alathea nodded, acknowledging the gravity of the decision. She needed something to steady her nerves. “We have fifteen minutes left from the hour. Let’s have a cup of coffee.”

Chakotay opened his mouth to say something but ended up just nodding and ordering an ensign to get both of them coffee. The rest of the time passed in silence, Alathea sipping the hot liquid to calm the turmoil within her. Now, there was no avoiding contacting the Empire. When she did, everything would change. She stole a glance at Icheb, who trembled beside her, resisting the urge to comfort the boy. They both felt the same fear and for a good reason.

“Borg is calling us,” an ensign announced, breaking the tense quiet that had settled on the bridge. The moment had come to face the unknown, to reach out to the Empire and negotiate the fate of Voyager and its crew.

“Put it on the screen, if you do not mind, Commander.”

The Borg drone appeared on the screen. “We are listening.”

Alathea nodded and placed the cup down next to the captain’s seat. “Good. Record what I will say to you and transmit video and audio at 58.4 MHz to 29994,181,5.”

“And the punishment?” Chakotay inquired.

“I’m not done with the demands,” Alathea replied.

“What else do you wish?”

“Send my message first,” she insisted. Assuming a typical Bene Gesserit stance, she commanded, “Record.”

“Greetings, my lord,” she began, bowing her head slightly in a gesture appropriate when addressing a leader of the Great House. “Bene Gesserit sister Alathea sends you warm regards from coordinates 58564, 4586,254,” she said in a pleasant voice, simultaneously moving her hands and body to transmit another message in the Atreides sign language. She followed the directions from the jump ship database meticulously.

Now, however, she understood that another Bene Gesserit in Beli’s entourage would translate it. The old battle language of the cursed house made sense now. She knew she was still a part of the Bene Gesserit plan, and hopefully, she could save the Captain and the Voyager crew. The transmission to the Empire was not just a message; it was a move in a complex game that had been playing out for centuries.

Her sign message was simple: “I need transport to the Empire. I’m fully trained Bene Gesserit and willing to repay your transport expenses by serving in any capacity you need for a time.”

“Stop recording,” she commanded to the Borg.

“Is that the entire message?”

“Yes. Send it.”

“Do you wish us to transmit a reply?”

“That will not be necessary. But you can release our three crew members from this crew that you have just assimilated.”

“Assimilation cannot be reversed,” the Borg stated matter-of-factly.

Alathea’s expression hardened, but she nodded in understanding. The Borg’s cold logic had its limitations, and she had expected this response.

“That’s our worry. Just drop the shields so that we can transport them.”

“And if we keep them on board, then you will not destroy this cube.”

Alathea took a step forward, projecting an air of boredom. “Do you really think I am alone here? Do you really think I care? Did we care when you took prisoners from us?”

The Borg complied, dropping the shields. Harry focused on his console. “I got them.”

Alathea turned towards the communication console. “You can cut the communication.”

“So what now?” Chakotay inquired.

“We wait. Please monitor radio frequency 56.7 MHz. If someone from the Empire comes here, they will greet us on that frequency.”

Alathea closed her eyes. Captain was safe. She had kept her word. The delicate dance between the Borg and the Empire had bought them a temporary reprieve, and now they waited in the vastness of space, the unknown future looming before them.


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