Alathea prodded the slig on her plate with disdain, her appetite dwindling with each poke. Ah, the joys of culinary delight, she thought. Genetically impossible embryos, tortured women, and animals living their best dumpster-diving lives, all for the sake of this exquisite sauce. She couldn’t help but roll her eyes at the absurdity of it all. But she kept her head down, careful no one observed her eye roll. They were in enough danger already.

Alathea’s gaze swept around the room, taking in the ostentatious display of opulence that was Beli’s dining room. Every surface was adorned with gaudy gold plating and intricate carvings, the decor so overbearing it felt suffocating, as if it were actively preventing any semblance of introspection. She focused her attention on the wall opposite her, where the dizzying golden embellishments danced in a cacophony of extravagance. Perhaps, she mused cynically, that was the whole point of this spectacle. To distract Beli and his entourage from any self-reflection, to shield them from the uncomfortable truth of their actions and the gaping chasm between their self-image and reality.

“Is something amiss with your food?” Beli asked.

She fixed her gaze on him, her expression unreadable. “I’ve got to say, I’m not a fan of Slig,” she remarked, her tone dry and unapologetic.

My Lady, they say Slig’s flesh be the sweetest morsel this side o’ heaven," Mentat said.

Captain Janeway nodded in understanding. “I see your point,” she conceded.

Alathea tilted her head slightly. “Ah, yes, the saying,” she acknowledged. “But I’m also well aware of the less-than-appetizing origins of sligs.”

“Aye, the tainted hands of Telaxu once fashioned such, ere their annihilation beneath the shadow of Honored Matres.”Suk Doctor said.

Beli’s grin widened as he remarked, “And here we have the curious tale of an offshoot of the Bene Gesserit, entangled with the Honored Matres, still persisting in its supply. Quite ironic, considering the origins of slig, wouldn’t you say? Yet it speaks volumes about the true worth of the Bene Gesserit.”

He reclined in his chair and gestured lazily at one of the guards. With a nod, the guard exited the room. Alathea’s gaze followed the guard’s departure, her mind racing with anticipation. Beli wouldn’t be signaling for another course just yet. This had to be it. Turning back to face Beli, she found him sporting the same smug grin, his gaze fixed unwaveringly on her.

A familiar sensation of the jump through hyperspace surged through Alathea. A swift glance around the table confirmed that the feeling was shared among the assembled guests.

“That was weird,” the Captain said, turning towards her.

Alathea shifted her attention to the Captain. “What you just felt was the activation of the Holtzman drive,” she informed him, her tone serious. “We’re not next to the Voyager anymore.”

Captain nodded at her. “Thank you.”

As the door through which the guard had exited swung open once more, four armed guards strode into the room. The Captain’s gaze shifted towards Beli, his expression unreadable.

“You just made a big mistake.” She smiled at him.

Beli chuckled darkly before signaling to the guards. Without hesitation, they seized the Captain, dragging her away despite her lack of resistance.

Alathea’s grin widened into a defiant smirk as she flicked the piece of slig off her plate. Rising from her seat, she boldly claimed the bowl of sauteed vegetables, originally intended as mere decoration, and placed it in front of herself. With a rebellious disregard for protocol, she dug in, savoring each bite defiantly. If Beli was planning to assault her now, she’d be damned if she didn’t enjoy a small act of rebellion and pleasure in the meantime.

Beli leaned in closer, his voice a low, menacing growl. “Now, you shall bear me an heir, or I’ll see to it that the woman you hold dear meets a swift and unfortunate end.”

Alathea remained steadfast, ignoring Beli completely as she continued to chew her food with deliberate nonchalance.

“And should your insolence persist, I’ll have no qualms about ending her life regardless,” he snarled, his tone dripping with contempt.

Alathea fixed Beli with a piercing gaze. “The Captain was right, you know,” she declared evenly. “You’ve made a grave mistake. She didn’t believe me when I told her you’re not truly honorable, just putting on a facade. So she came here, giving you a chance to prove otherwise.”

Beli rose abruptly, a flash of resolve in his eyes. “That’s enough,” he declared, motioning to the guards as he began to loosen his trousers with determined purpose.

“Before you embarrass yourself any further,” Alathea retorted coolly, “let me clarify something. I can’t have a child without the assistance of the Voyager’s doctor.”

Beli laughed, dropping the trousers and revealing his erection. Guards grabbed Alathea and spread her on the table.

“Rape will just complicate stuff, my dear.” Alathea calmly said.

She didn’t resist. Just stared at Beli. He hesitated, staring at her. He waved at Suk Doctor. 

“Check her.”

The doctor came close and started examining her genitals. “Seem’s fine my lord.”

Alathea chuckled softly. “You might want to check the uterus,” she suggested with a wry grin.

The doctor’s movements grew more deliberate as he examined Alathea, his expression unreadable. From gentle pushes to more probing prods, his actions intensified. Retrieving a scanner from his bag, he activated it and pressed it against her lower abdomen, conducting a thorough examination. After a moment of scrutiny, he delivered his diagnosis with a grave tone.

“She doesn’t have a uterus or ovaries. It’s impossible for her to conceive a child,” he declared definitively.

“That cannot be the truth! She was made to make my child!” Beli said.

“I told you,” Alathea reiterated, her tone laced with vindication. “I can’t have a child without the assistance of a Voyager doctor.”

“No physician holds the power to grant her the gift of progeny,” Suk Doctor interjected solemnly.

“Exactly, no Suk Doctor can,” Alathea affirmed, maintaining her composure as she addressed Beli. “The Voyager Doctor removed my ovaries and uterus. Voyager possesses the technology to safeguard them, returning them only under specific conditions.” With a pointed glance at the Suk Doctor, she made it clear whose expertise she trusted.

Beli shifted his gaze toward Suk. “Is such a thing conceivable?”

“Theoretical it may be. The method of organ preservation dictates its feasibility,” Suk Doctor mused, his tone contemplative.

Beli hastily adjusted his trousers, concealing his softened member, his face flushed with embarrassment. He waved a hand at the guards, signaling for Alathea to be released.

As Alathea slowly rose from the table, she scanned the room for the bowl of vegetables, only to find it discarded on the floor, its contents scattered haphazardly.

“Pity,” she remarked with a shrug.

Beli positioned himself squarely in front of her, his expression a mixture of accusation and disdain. “You orchestrated this intentionally,” he accused.

“Exactly,” Alathea affirmed, her tone unwavering. “I’m well aware of your character, as well as the integrity of the Voyager crew. If you want your child, Voyager needs to be safe, the Captain and I need to be safe. We’re setting the terms now.”

He growled menacingly, his words dripping with the promise of future conflict. “You may have claimed victory in this skirmish, but the war is far from over.”

“Oh, I know.” She smiled at him. 

“So, what are the terms?” he inquired, his tone a blend of curiosity and calculation.

“You’ll have to discuss that with the Captain,” Alathea replied calmly, maintaining her smile. “She’ll handle the negotiations, not me.”

Beli’s sudden outburst sent a shockwave through the room as his fist collided with the table, cracking its surface and leaving his hand bloodied. The Suk doctor remained passive, observing the scene without making any move to intervene or offer assistance.

“Bring the Captain!” Beli barked at the guards, his bloody fist clenched tightly.

Then, he pivoted toward Suk, the doctor, and extended his injured hand toward him. This time, Suk approached, and with determination, began tending to the wounded hand.


Once more, the guards dragged in the Captain, her face marred with blood and bruises. With a sudden release, they almost caused her to stumble, but she quickly regained her composure, straightening her uniform with a determined resolve.

Beli extended a handkerchief toward her. “You have blood on your face,” he remarked, his tone revealing a mix of concern and disdain.

The Captain locked eyes with him, disregarding the offered handkerchief. “I’m well aware,” she stated firmly. “I was present when your guards administered their beating.”

“Point out the guard responsible, and I’ll ensure swift justice,” Beli offered, his voice edged with a dangerous promise.

Captain tilted her head slightly. “In fact, I’d rather deliver the smack to you, considering it was your orders that the guards followed,” she retorted, her tone carrying a mix of defiance and determination.

Beli allowed his hand, still holding the handkerchief, to fall to his side. “That was a rather tasteless jest,” he remarked with a hint of disdain.

“Well, there’s no humor in this situation. I find myself here because it seems negotiations must commence with a show of force. And so, to kick off these negotiations, I find it necessary to deliver a firm smack. The unfortunate series of events leading to this moment has left me in quite a foul mood. I highly doubt you’d fancy negotiating with me when I’m in such a state.” Captain Janeway’s gaze shifted between Alathea and Beli, her tone firm yet tinged with a hint of resignation. Alathea maintained her composure, though a hint of amusement flickered in her eyes.

Beli chuckled darkly. “Certainly, feel free to strike me,” he said, a glint of defiance in his eyes.

Captain Janeway strode purposefully toward Beli, her resolve evident in every step. Without a moment’s hesitation, she delivered a forceful blow to his face with her clenched fist, causing him to stagger backward, blood trickling from his mouth. She shook her hand, a small smile playing on her lips as she nodded in satisfaction.

“Much better,” she remarked coolly before turning on her heel and taking her seat at the table. “Now then, let’s proceed. Our objectives are clear: you desire the infant, while I require safe passage for my vessel to specific coordinates that I’ll provide. The challenge now lies in achieving our respective goals without the luxury of trust between us.” Her tone was measured.

Beli spat out blood, and the clink of teeth hitting the floor echoed in the room. Captain had knocked his teeth out.

Beli wiped away the blood from his hand with the same handkerchief he had offered to the Captain. Then, he settled himself at the table, facing the Captain. “Patch her up, and I’ll arrange for your transportation,” he stated, gesturing towards Alathea.

“Well, that’s a bit of a stumbling block, isn’t it? Trust seems to be in short supply on both ends.”

“I’m a Duke!” he snarled.

“As I’m sure you’re aware, I hold the rank of captain. Now that we’ve clarified our positions, let’s refocus on the matter at hand. We’re prepared to provide you with the embryo you seek, contingent upon your fulfillment of our transportation request.”

“My Lord, an embryo holds no value. Its life ebbs the instant it departs the womb,” Suk Doctor declared with a somber reverence.

“I require a live infant,” Beli stated bluntly, his tone brooking no argument.

“Well, I’m afraid time isn’t on our side in this negotiation. Waiting nine months isn’t exactly ideal for either of us.”

Beli’s eyes glinted with intensity. “Tend to her wounds,” he ordered, nodding towards Alathea. “Once she’s restored, she’s mine, and you won’t have to endure another moment in my presence.”

Captain Janeway shook her head solemnly. “Ah, it seems we’ve hit a bit of a snag. In my society, we don’t believe in owning people. Everyone has the right to make their own choices.” With a theatrical flair, she turned to Alathea. “My dear friend, the decision is yours. Do you wish to accompany him?”

“Not particularly.”

“I’m afraid that option is not on the table,” Captain Janeway asserted, her tone unwavering. “As previously stated, you will receive the embryo. However, if you lack available uteruses for implantation, we can certainly discuss alternative arrangements, like an artificial womb.”

“Do you wish to condemn my son before he even draws his first breath?” Beli’s face flushed red again. The dude was like a signal light.

Suk Doctor advanced, his presence commanding attention. “Artificial wombs are beyond consideration. Their unreliability stands as incontrovertible truth,” he proclaimed with unwavering conviction.

“And the craftin’ of artificial wombs? Goes against every fiber of our faith,” Mentat declared, his words laced with the reverence of tradition.

Janeway’s words sliced through the tension with precision. “Perhaps the hesitation around artificial wombs stems from your religious convictions,” she suggested calmly. “It wouldn’t be the first instance in human history where religion and aristocracy impeded progress.”

Alathea stood behind the Captain, a satisfied smile playing on her lips as she observed the unfolding negotiation. Beli was in need of a bit of a reality check.

“I might have a suggestion that’s religiously acceptable,” Alathea interjected sweetly. “How about a concubine? Surely, an aristocrat like yourself must have a few of those lying around?”

Those nearly colorless eyes fixated on her, and Beli’s lips curled into a sinister grin. “Naturally, I have concubines. I require someone skilled in satisfying me, not a defiant Bene Gesserit,” he declared with a hint of contempt.

Alathea’s smile widened, her gaze unwavering. “Well then, allow me to enlighten you,” she countered. “Concubines happen to possess uteruses as well, and embryos can be implanted in them just as easily.”

“That procedure harbors great insecurity, yielding scant success,” Suk Doctor remarked with a sage nod.

“Not for our doctor,” Captain affirmed. “However, once more, the individual in question must consent to the procedure.”

Beli tapped his fingers on the table impatiently. “That arrangement bestows too much authority upon you and leaves me with nothing,” he remarked, his tone tinged with frustration.

“Well, it seems we’re facing quite the predicament,” Janeway acknowledged, her expression serious. “Putting my ship and crew inside one of your Heighliners certainly poses significant risks to me and my crew. However, if that’s the only viable option to move forward with our agreement, then we may have no choice but to proceed with caution.”

Leaning in closer, Beli’s voice lowered to a dangerous whisper. “Perhaps you’ll reconsider following my instructions, or I’ll be forced to launch an assault on Terra,” he threatened, his eyes ablaze with determination.

Captain Janeway offered a nonchalant shrug. “So be it. If that’s the route we must take, then we must face the consequences. However, it’s worth noting that if such a scenario unfolds, Alathea will cease to exist, and you and your group of merry bandits will likewise vanish.”

Alathea breathed a sigh of relief, her eyes closing briefly. “That would indeed be the perfect solution to this mess, Captain,” she agreed wholeheartedly.

Beli’s fists clenched tightly, his eyes darting between Alathea and the Captain. Meanwhile, the Captain reclined in her chair, gently examining her injured fingers, pointedly ignoring his outburst.

With a sudden eruption of fury, Beli slammed his fists against the table.

“Perhaps it would be best to continue this conversation once emotions have cooled,” Captain Janeway proposed evenly, her words carrying a tone of diplomacy

“I’m a man, I’m calm.”

Captain laughed in response.

The normally pale countenance of Beli flushed crimson with anger. “What exactly are you proposing?” he demanded, his voice cracking with frustration.

“Let’s break it down,” she began. “You meet Voyager and facilitate the return of myself, Alathea, your concubine, and the sperm sample. Once safely transported, we’ll proceed with the embryo implantation. After that, we’ll ensure the safe return of your concubine, and then we’ll each go our separate ways.” Captain spoke as she was presenting a mathematical proof.

“I will never subject an innocent to peril,” Beli declared adamantly, his voice firm.

“Suit yourself.” Captain got up.

“The concubine will be escorted by my guards,” Beli asserted, his tone leaving no room for negotiation.

“Acceptable,” Captain Janeway echoed, her tone firm as she accepted the terms. As she turned to leave, she paused, delivering a final directive. “Oh, and just to clarify, you’ll be joining us on Voyager during the transport. Bring along as many of your associates as you see fit.” Her words carried a subtle reminder of the balance of power in the agreement.

Beli’s grin widened. “Agreed,” he confirmed, then turned to his commander of the guard. “Instruct the ship to return to our previous coordinates,” he commanded.

The man left the room, leaving a tense silence in his wake. Within moments, Alathea sensed the familiar disruption of a jump through space. Then, a second later, Beli’s communicator beeped.

“The ship is not here,” the voice on the other end reported.

“What?” Beli’s response was incredulous.

“No one is here. The ship of the damned has left,” came the stark revelation.



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