Guests arrive

Another tear-like ship had docked with Voyager. This one, silver and less ornate than Alathea’s vessel, bore only a subtle wave motif along its sides and a distinct emblem. Encircled by stylized wood, a wolf head in profile with an opened mouth adorned the emblem—the heraldry of House Volkov, a dynasty with eyes set on the throne of tomorrow.

As the Captain sauntered over to join the merry band of greeters, her face still sporting the delightful scars of Borg fashion, she and Chakotay made a valiant effort to exude the sort of grandeur that would make even the most stoic Vulcan crack a smile. Meanwhile, ensigns scrambled to roll out a red carpet, as if they were laying out a feast for interstellar royalty (which, in a way, they were). Alathea, resplendent in her Bene Gesserit ensemble, stood a hair’s breadth behind the Captain, trying not to let the rough fabric of her outfit ruin the solemnity of the occasion—or worse, give her an unexpected exfoliation session. She pondered the garment’s constriction and how it confined her to a singular role, depriving her of any semblance of individuality beyond that of a Bene Gesserit truthsayer.

The tear in the ship’s surface rippled and swirled until a grand entrance was revealed, with a staircase extending as if conjured from the very essence of the vessel. As the final step made contact with the floor, two formidable figures materialized in the doorway, descending with a purpose that suggested they weren’t just there for the complimentary snacks. Clad in sleek black uniforms emblazoned with the ship’s insignia, their belts practically bristled with an arsenal that would make even a Klingon warrior nod in approval—knives, swords, and shield boxes jostling for space. Following in their wake was another towering gentleman, his attire echoing that of his companions, though the subtle glint of silver threads graced his temples like the crowning touch of a particularly dashing space admiral. All of them bore the unmistakable hallmarks of humanity—dark hair cascading in waves or curls around their heads, and noses that could probably sniff out a Romulan cloaking device from a parsec away.

The tall man offered a slight bow. “Greetings.”

Returning the gesture with a flourish that would have made even the most seasoned diplomat envious, the Captain chimed in, “Welcome to Voyager. I am the ship’s captain, and I am honored by this rare opportunity to meet representatives of the Empire.”

The man smiled and gestured toward the ship. “Allow me to introduce our leader, Lord Volkov.”

Alathea fought to keep her poker face intact, though inside, she was doing mental somersaults. The worst-case scenario had unfolded before her eyes—Beli himself had arrived.

In a scene straight out of a melodramatic space opera, two more guards materialized from the opposite doors, swords drawn in a show of formal greeting. Between them emerged a figure who could only be described as imposing, his demeanor softened by a grin that hinted at hidden depths of mischief. Clad in a uniform that screamed opulence, the emblem on his chest didn’t just gleam—it practically twinkled with the light of a thousand stars. His jacket, a masterpiece in black velvet, was adorned with silver threads that shimmered like moonlight on a still pond, while his trousers, as smooth as a politician’s promises, disappeared into boots that looked sturdy enough to kick a Klingon warbird into submission. With a complexion that could only be described as ethereal, his albino hair cascaded down his back like a waterfall of liquid silver, tied back with a nonchalant flair at the nape of his neck. Every inch of him screamed power, and the smirk playing at the corners of his lips was the kind that made you wonder just what secrets he was hiding up his finely tailored sleeves. With a nod that carried the weight of a thousand solar systems, he descended the stairs with the deliberate grace of a monarch, coming to a halt before the Captain as if he owned the very stars themselves.

Alathea drew in a slow, steadying breath, willing herself to remain composed despite the chill that threatened to race down her spine. This wasn’t a historical figure before her; this was Lord Ninan Anjila, straight from her own time—the very same loathsome individual responsible for the deaths of millions of Terrans. If they were talking about monsters, he was undoubtedly the stuff of nightmares. How was this possible? What sort of cosmic calamity had brought him here? And where in the galaxy was the real Beli? Had this despicable excuse for a human being somehow snuffed out a true historical figure?

“Pleased to make your acquaintance, Captain,” Ninan declared, his gaze sliding past Alathea as if she were little more than a stray asteroid in the void.

Ah, the joys of being blatantly ignored. Alathea resisted the urge to roll her eyes. After all, what did she expect? He knew perfectly well she was just a Ghola, a mere echo of someone long gone.

“The pleasure is entirely mine, Lord,” the Captain returned, her smile as bright as a supernova. “If you would be so kind as to follow me, we can continue our conversation in a more comfortable setting.”

“In due time, Captain,” Ninan replied with a dismissive wave of his hand.

Turning his attention to Alathea, he flashed her a grin that made her skin crawl with a mixture of discomfort and revulsion.

Ever the picture of politeness, Alathea offered a graceful bow. “My lord, I must admit, your unexpected visit is quite a surprise.”

“Ah, but hopefully a pleasant one,” Ninan countered, his grin widening like a Cheshire cat’s.

“Indeed, milord. But forgive my confusion—what, pray tell, has brought you to this galaxy and this period?” Alathea inquired, her curiosity piqued despite her unease.

“Wormholes and Sisterhood, my dear,” Ninan replied, his tone laced with an air of self-importance. “This is the time when House Volkov is destined to rise, and I, dear Alathea, am its illustrious founder.”

Alathea eyed him with a healthy dose of skepticism. Sure, there was a faint resemblance to the renowned Beli, mostly thanks to the long, silvery hair. History books had always assumed that the portraits depicted Beli in his later years when the stress of ruling had naturally turned his locks gray. But if Ninan was telling the truth, of course, that albinism would be airbrushed out of the official records. What had truly become of the real Beli? And what sort of twisted game was Mother Superior Jessica playing now? It dawned on Alathea at that moment that she was nothing more than a pawn in someone else’s grand scheme. But for what purpose? And where in the cosmos was the genuine Beli? Had Ninan somehow snuffed him out like a candle in the dark?

“Are you truly Beli?” she dared to inquire, her voice laced with uncertainty.

“Yes. We shall discuss matters further in private,” Ninan declared, his tone as imperious as ever.

Alathea’s stomach twisted into knots as she fought back the urge to demand answers about the fate of the real Beli. This situation was spiraling out of control faster than a malfunctioning warp drive.

With Ninan’s presence looming like a dark cloud over them, Alathea realized her plan was now useless. Her ship and technology were no longer bargaining chips on the table. The urgency to prevent this monster from unleashing havoc aboard Voyager surged through her veins like a supernova on the brink of an explosion. After all, this was the same individual who hadn’t flinched at the thought of annihilating millions back on old Terra.

Alathea stole a furtive glance toward the ship’s exit, half-expecting to see a Bene Gesserit emerge to save the day. But alas, there was no sign of the mother of Beli’s son. Was she as dead as the real Beli?

Barely registering the Captain’s insistence that the entire delegation make their way to the Medbay first, Alathea’s mind drifted, caught in a maelstrom of uncertainty and dread.

“We, superior humans, are impervious to illness,” Menthat proclaimed with all the haughtiness of a peacock displaying its feathers.

“Ah, yes, indeed,” the Captain replied with a sardonic smile. “But surely you understand why us mere mortals, the weaker links in the evolutionary chain, might require a bit of protection. After all, as the superior beings, you wouldn’t even bat an eyelash at a microscopic organism that could spell doom for us.”

Alathea had to bite her lip to stifle a chuckle at the Captain’s sharp wit. Ninan shot her a curious glance as Menthat pressed on, undeterred by the exchange.

“And did you not perform tests for all potential microorganisms when she came into contact with you?” Menthat inquired, his tone dripping with condescension.

“She comes from a different corner of the Empire than yourself, as I was led to believe,” the Captain replied, inclining her head in a gesture of deference that barely masked her underlying skepticism.

Ninan interjected with a curt nod, halting any further comments from his Menthat. “Let’s move past this. Lead the way,” he commanded in Galax.

They made their way toward the turbo lifts. Alathea scrutinized each member of the Empire delegation. They all exhibited that distinct, slightly pompous gait so characteristic of the Empire, now glaringly clear in their unease. She then glanced at Chakotay, walking alongside Menthat in his composed manner. He moved with the assurance of someone who knew exactly where he stood and was content with his place in life.

Ninan walked alongside the Captain in silence, unable to speak English. He glanced towards her. “Why are you walking so far behind?” he asked in standard Imperial Galax. 

“Efficiency, My lord. The corridors aren’t wide enough for three plus guards,” Alathea replied in the same language, shooting a glance toward the Captain, who nodded in agreement with a knowing smile.

“My lord, I can step back and allow Alathea to walk beside you,” the Captain offered. “It’s the least I can do for our esteemed guest.”

Ninan’s gaze shifted from the Captain to Alathea, a flicker of surprise crossing his features. “I thought you didn’t speak Galax,” he remarked, his tone tinged with curiosity.

The computer translated it perfectly. The last half an hour of working with Seven paid off. 

“They do not. They have a machine that translates the language. I helped them input Galax into their database.” Alathea said.

The captain stopped in front of the turbo lift, opening the door.

“That does not seem comfortable,” Ninan said.

“This is a turbo lift. It will take us where we’re going. We will have to split. Please tell me who wishes to go with whom.” Captain said.

Alathea smiled — the Captain read them correctly.


Doctor insisted on examining everyone, including the Volkov's guards. 

“This is ridiculous.”

Alathea couldn’t help but offer a playful yet reassuring smile. “Don’t fret, my Lord. It’s just a precaution,” she said in a tone that was equal parts soothing and mischievous. “And I promise, it won’t hurt a bit.”

Ninan shot Alathea a surprised glance before mimicking her expression, a faint hint of amusement dancing in his eyes. “It’s not the pain I’m concerned about, but rather the discomfort you must endure aboard this... vessel,” he remarked, gesturing around the ship with a hint of disdain.

Alathea offered a gracious smile, her demeanor poised and serene. “I appreciate your concern, my Lord, but rest assured, the accommodations here are quite comfortable,” she reassured him. “They’ve provided me with quarters befitting a lady—soft bed, decent food, and delightful company. Besides, compared to some of the conditions I’ve endured back in the Empire, this is practically paradise. As a trained Bene Gesserit, we must serve and be prepared to do so in any circumstances.”

“What’s happening?” Ninan demanded, his tone edged with suspicion, as Doctor approached him with a scanning device.

In an instant, both of Ninan’s guards sprung into action, their swords drawn as they moved to intercept Doctor’s advance.

“I’m checking do you have any deadly diseases on you. Now, stay still and you two, get out of the way.“ Doctor said.

“It’s ok. That’s the way their doctors deal with the patients. Everyone gets the same treatment!’ Alathea raised her palms, glancing from one guard to another. She was not worried about them attacking Doctor, but about the fallout when they realized Doctor was not human. 

Ninan made a hand signal restraining his guard. He nodded at Doctor. “Proceed, but hold your tongue if you wish to live.”

Captain caught Alathea's eye and nodded subtly in the direction of the Doctor's office before setting off in that direction herself. Alathea returned the nod, her stomach churning with unease as she felt the weight of the Duke and his Menthat boring into her back with their intense gazes. Despite the discomfort, she maintained her composure and followed the Captain. 

“They’re skilled at lip-reading, Captain,” Alathea whispered softly, glancing over her shoulder to ensure their privacy.

Another nod from the Captain, and she positioned herself with her back to the glass partition separating the office from the main med bay. Alathea followed suit, mirroring her stance.

“I couldn’t help but notice you didn’t seem prepared for this man’s arrival,” the Captain observed quietly.

“He’s from my time,” Alathea admitted with a sigh, her voice barely above a whisper. “He was a prominent figure, head of one of the great houses, deeply involved in the Terra project.”

“So he knows you’re a Ghola,” the Captain deduced, her tone tinged with concern.

Alathea simply nodded, her expression troubled as she contemplated the implications of Ninan’s unexpected appearance.

“Is that what’s troubling you?” the Captain inquired softly.

“Partly,” Alathea admitted, her gaze fixed on the floor as she wrestled with her thoughts. “But what worries me more is the absence of another Bene Gesserit here—the one who should have become the mother of Beli’s heir.”

The Captain nodded in understanding. “So negotiations will have to be adjusted,” she surmised.

Alathea nodded grimly. “Yes. And they most likely have access to technology from my ship,” she added, her tone heavy with concern for the potential consequences of their situation.


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