Meeting with Duke

“I’m not picking up anything at the designated coordinates,” Harry said.

Captain’s met Alathea’s eyes. “No field,” they both said simultaneously. Alathea glanced down at her hand, wiggling her fingers. The Doctor had regrown her finger so flawlessly that one would suspect nothing had ever gone awry.

“Tom, just come to a full stop at the coordinates,” Captain Janeway commanded.

“Yes, Ma’am.” Tom Paris nodded in acknowledgment, his hands swiftly maneuvering the controls to bring Voyager to a halt in the vast expanse of space.

Nothing continued to happen.

“What now?” Chakotay asked.

“How long is polite to wait in Empire culture?” Captain Janeway said.

Alathea grinned mischievously. “I suppose waiting is polite, as long as it’s on your terms.”

Captain grinned back, her determination shining through her smile. “Point taken. Tuvok, Alathea, let us go and inform our guests that their stay conditions have changed. We will drop them off at the first planet we pass. Tom, in 15 minutes, turn the ship around and go to warp. We’re continuing our previous journey.”

Janeway’s orders were as clear and decisive as ever, a reflection of her unwavering dedication to safeguarding her crew and steering Voyager to safety. With a nod from Tuvok, they swiftly moved to execute the captain’s instructions, while Tom Paris stood ready to guide the ship back on its proper course.

Alathea trailed behind Captain and Tuvok, struggling to keep her hands from fidgeting with nervous energy.

“Finger still troubling you?” Tuvok inquired, his observation as keen as any Bene Desert adept.

“No, the pain has subsided. The Doctor did an impeccable job,” Alathea replied. “But it does make me wonder, can he also regenerate organs?”

“Yes, that’s how the whole transplant branch of medicine started. With growing new hearts, kidneys, lungs for the transplants,” Captain Janeway remarked, her tone reflecting a mix of admiration and appreciation for the advancements of medical science.

Alathea grinned mischievously. “Ah, I think I know where he hid my uterus and ovaries,” she quipped.

The captain chuckled and nodded in agreement.


As the trio entered the room, only Menthat was present, who hastily rose from his seat at the sound of the door opening, his eyes flicking towards the entrance to the Jeffries tubes concealed behind the sofa.

The captain grinned and tapped her com badge. “Computer, locate our guest.”

“Menthat Bojan is in the same room as you are. Suk Doctor Dietrich is in Medical Bay,” the computer responded promptly.

“Security, to the medical bay. Bring our guest to the brig,” the captain ordered.

Approaching the replicator, she requested, “Coffee, black,” then retrieved the cup, glancing at Tuvok and Alathea. “Anything for you?”

“Nothing for me,” Tuvok replied, his phaser trained on Bojan.

“Computer, a black tea with a dash of milk,” Alathea requested, stepping up to the replicator and taking the mug. “I’ve grown fond of this one. It tastes far superior to anything the Empire calls tea or coffee.” She took a sip and turned towards Menthat. “You should try it. Or perhaps you’d prefer sapo juice?”

“You have sapo juice here?” Menthat inquired incredulously.

“Computer, one shot of sappo juice,” Alathea requested.

A shot glass containing the bright red liquid materialized in the replicator. Alathea picked it up slowly and offered it to the twitchy Menthat, while the captain reclined on the sofa, observing the exchange with amusement. Menthat’s eyes darted between the captain and Alathea, clearly suspicious.

“This juice cannot be real,” he remarked skeptically.

“It is. I helped them make it,” Alathea replied calmly.

“It’s a very effective stimulant, I must say, although it tastes awful,” the captain added.

“You let them drink it?” Outrage tinged Menthat’s voice.

“Just moments ago, you claimed it wasn’t real. Why the sudden fuss?” Alathea retorted.

Menthat snatched the shot glass from Alathea and swiftly downed its contents in a single gulp. His expression shifted, and Alathea recognized the familiar signs of him entering a trance-like state.

“There’s no Duke’s ship on the coordinates,” Menthat stated, his voice distant.

“Correct. We’ll wait until your friend is in the brig, and then depart. I’m here to inquire: would you prefer for us to leave you somewhere in this region of the galaxy, or to take you with us?” the captain posed the question.

“How long did you wait for the Duke’s ship to appear?” Menthat countered.

A chime sounded, signaling the arrival of the prisoner in the brig.

“Did he cause any damage?” the captain inquired.

“No,” came the response.

“Excellent. Keep him under guard,” she instructed.

“Yes, ma’am,” came the acknowledgment.

The captain tapped her com badge. “Tom, execute previous commands.”

“Yes, Ma’am”

Captain took a sip of her drink and fixed Menthat with a steely gaze. “To answer your question, a little bit less than fifteen minutes. It’s considered polite among us.”

“That’s too short,” Menthat objected.

“Tough,” the captain retorted.

Another chime interrupted their conversation. “Captain, an imperial ship has appeared and sent us a message,” the crew member reported.

“Is the message friendly?” the captain inquired.

“No, it’s a threat,” came the response.

“Slow down to an impulse, but continue on your course. And open the channel for communication with me,” the captain ordered.

“It’s done,” the crew member confirmed.

“I don’t appreciate threats, Beli. Apologize,” the captain demanded, her tone firm.

Alathea grimaced at the notion of Beli apologizing. There was no chance of that happening. That man would sooner choose to eliminate them all rather than admit any fault.

“His grace will not apologize to you. You’re leaving the coordinates too early,” Menthat countered.

“No, I’m not. I waited as politely as required in my culture. I made it clear I won’t engage in games. He’s being childish, considering I hold all the cards,” the captain asserted.

“You’re not making sense,” Menthat remarked.

“They don’t understand what ‘cards’ mean, Captain,” Alathea interjected.

“Bojan?” Beli’s voice crackled through the communication channel. “How were you treated?”

“I’m uncertain, your grace,” Menthat replied.

“That’s the coded question to find out whether they possess Alathea’s uterus,” the captain explained, taking another sip of her drink. “The answer is they don’t have it.”

“Imbecile! You couldn’t even accomplish a simple task!” Beli’s frustration echoed through the channel.

“He doesn’t seem to like you,” the captain remarked, nonchalantly taking another sip.

Alathea settled comfortably into the chair opposite the captain, sipping her tea as she observed the unfolding exchange. The captain seemed to enjoy herself.

Menthat stared at the captain but made no move to respond.

“My offer for transport still stands,” the captain said looking at Menthat.

“What transport?” Beli’s voice interrupted.

“I wasn’t talking to you.” She took another sip. “But here’s the deal for you. You and your escort will come to my ship as we agreed, using our transporters,” the captain stated firmly.

“Using what?” Beli inquired, clearly puzzled.

“Our transporters,” the captain clarified.

“I will come in my shuttle,” Beli insisted.

“No, you won’t. Harry, close communications,” the captain commanded, breaking off the conversation.

“Done, ma’am,” Harry confirmed.

The captain finished her coffee and rose from her seat. “Let’s return to the bridge,” she suggested. She then turned to Menthat with a bemused expression. “Is Beli always this dense?”

Menthat’s eyes darted between the captain and Alathea for a moment before he replied, “Yes.”

“You’re coming with us,” the captain declared, nodding at Menthat, who returned a slight bow. It seemed that the sapo juice had finally brought some sense into the man.


The smaller transporter and a few fighters departed from the highliner and made their way towards Voyager. The captain then turned to Harry. “Can you isolate Beli and the female?”

Harry swiftly worked at his console. “Yes, Captain. I have them isolated.”

“Good. Grab two more individuals near Beli and transport them directly to the brig. Disable their weapons and place the female in a separate cell.”

“Yes, Captain,” Harry acknowledged, his fingers dancing across the controls. Moments later, he reported, “I’ve done it. They’re all secured in the brig.”

“Indeed,” the captain agreed with a sigh. “He will never cease his attempts to deceive me.”

Bojan shrugged indifferently. “He views you as inferior. He views everyone as inferior.”

“That man is in dire need of therapy,” the captain muttered as she made her way off the bridge. “Alathea, you’re coming with me.” She then turned to the security officer escorting Bojan. “Ensign, bring our guest to the brig,” she ordered before continuing on her way.


As they entered the brig, Beli pounded furiously against the force field. The captain halted in front of his cell, patiently waiting for him to cease his futile efforts. It took some time.

Meanwhile, Beli’s guards demonstrated a more composed demeanor within their cell. One of them sat calmly on the bunk, observing the scene unfolding outside, while the other leaned against the wall, keeping a vigilant eye on their surroundings.

In the last cell, a female dressed in flimsy clothing huddled in the far corner, attempting to cover herself as much as possible, clearly uncomfortable with her situation.

“His grace is injured. I need to treat him,” Suk-Doctor insisted from his own cell.

Ignoring him, the captain greeted Beli calmly. “Welcome to Voyager.”

Beli raised his hand, showing a broken finger. “It’s broken,” he stated.

“I wouldn’t doubt it. Doctor to the brig. Ensign, place our guest in the cell with the other prisoner,” the captain ordered.

The security team followed standard Federation procedures, and as soon as the force field was deactivated, Suk-Doctor jumped out, only to be swiftly shot by the guard.

“You’ve killed him,” Beli accused.

“No. He’s merely stunned,” the guard clarified, motioning his weapon toward Bojan. “Drag him back inside.”

Bojan complied, addressing Beli, “My lord, Dietrich is still alive.”

The Doctor entered the brig and made his way toward the unconscious Dietrich.

“Not him, Doctor. He’s just stunned. Beli broke his hand,” the captain clarified.

“Ah, the father,” the Doctor murmured in understanding.

“Captain, he will try something,” Alathea warned.

“So you are firmly on their side,” Beli snarled.

The captain stepped back a few paces, nodding to the guards and allowing them room to safely deactivate the force field. As expected, Beli sprang into action, ready to confront the security team, only to be swiftly stunned once the force field was down. Beli simply refused to learn.

The Doctor approached the unconscious figure and waved his scanner over him.

“Not a break, just bruised,” he reported.

“Fix it,” the captain ordered.

“Yes, Captain.” Doctor waved another instrument over Beli’s hand and got up. “Done.”

Another nod from the captain, and security dragged Duke back into his cell. 

“Ahh, he will need this.” Doctor grinned, flourishing the empty sample vial from his medical bag and placing it on the small table inside the cell. 

Bojan stood beside the force field, his expression troubled. “Captain, the Duke will not appreciate this treatment.”

The captain turned to face him squarely. “There’s nothing I could do to make him honor his side of the bargain anyway, so why should I even try? He will get his ‘baby’ at the price we agreed upon, and we will both go our separate ways. One of you needs to contact your ships and inform them that everyone is unharmed.”

Bojan pointed toward the cell housing the two soldiers, who were frantically attempting to shoot their laser pistols and then resorting to using them as makeshift hammers to pound against the force field. “You have the commander of the Duke’s forces in that cell. It is better if the tall one with gold insignia does it,” he suggested.

“Captain, we’re being surrounded by Imperial forces,” Chakotay’s voice echoed through the speakers.

“Shields up, open communication channel,” the captain ordered.

“Channel open,” the response came.

“Your Duke? He’s a duke?” the captain asked, glancing at Alathea for confirmation. And waiting for her nod. “Your duke is unharmed, along with my guest. The shields will remain active as long as he’s on board. Any attempt to attack will cause our departure,” she warned sternly.

“I need to hear Duke.”

Captain faced the duke’s cell where he was sitting on the floor staring at her and massaging his hand.

“Ah, you woke up. There’s a sperm vial. When you fill it, we will take it and make an embryo.”

“Captain, the lady needs to accompany us immediately. I must begin hormonal therapy to prepare her uterus,” the Doctor interrupted. The captain nodded, and a guard deactivated the force field of the woman’s cell. The Doctor entered the cell with a reassuring smile.

“Come along, dear. No one will harm you. I need to prepare you for the reception of the embryo,” he said gently.

The woman straightened herself. “I am prepared. I’m ovulating,” she stated confidently.

The Doctor nodded. “Yes, that will expedite the process a bit.”

Interrupting, the captain asserted, “I don’t have patience for this.” She then gestured to one of the guards. “Take her to the Medbay,” she ordered briskly.

“My forces will attack,” the Duke declared with a grin.

“If they do, we will leave,” the captain countered firmly.

“Your Grace, they’ve raised the shields,” the Duke’s military commander informed him.

“Shields?” the Duke echoed, visibly paling.

“Yes, the same ones that the Borg possess,” Alathea chimed in with a smile. “Meaning if your forces shoot at us, we’ll all be blown to smithereens.”

The Duke’s expression soured further, his albino complexion appearing even more pallid. He shouted, “Stand down! They have to stand down! Give me communication to tell them to stand down.”

“You already did. Harry, close communication,” the captain ordered, striding out of the brig without another word.


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