Voyager is off

Alathea halted the shuttle at the predetermined coordinates between Voyager and the Highliner, then initiated communication with the Highliner. “The Duke is still aboard Voyager. We’re devising a plan for his transport.”

“We’ll dispatch a shuttle. Those were the Duke’s orders.”

“There’s been a change in plans,” Alathea informed them.

“I need to speak with the Duke,” came the reply.

Alathea ended the communication and contacted Voyager. “We need to hurry. They’re preparing to deploy troops.”

“We’re ready. It will only take seconds,” came the response.

“Okay, I’m ready too.”

“Alathea, we’ll wait for you at the edge of the Federation,” Tuvok assured her.

“No longer than a week. If I’m not back by then, there’s no point,” Alathea insisted.

“You will be back,” Tuvok affirmed. “I’ve met no one more capable than you.”

“And you know that’s true since Vulcans don’t lie,” Tom added.

Alathea blinked away tears. “Thank you, guys. You’ve shown me how amazing humans can be. Thank you.”

“You’ll be back, don’t doubt it,” Chakotay said. “I need someone to annoy me at my next command.”

Alathea laughed.

“Captain, another ship is leaving the Highliner, and the fighters around us are closing in,” a voice from Voyager’s side interrupted her laughter.

“Are you ready, Alathea?” Captain Janeway asked.

“Yes. Please leave as soon as transport is done,” Alathea instructed.

The buzz of the transporter filled the back of the shuttle. Alathea waited until everyone materialized, then started shouting—angry shouts. “I got them.”

Her eyes were glued to Voyager outside. She watched as the warp drive activated and Voyager warped away. A hand fell on her shoulder and pulled her away from the pilot chair. Suddenly, a fist landed on her face, knocking her into the crowd standing behind her. Her vision blurred, but she felt hands grabbing her roughly, pulling her upright, and forcing her arms into a firm grip behind her back.

Alathea slowly examined her mouth, feeling the metallic taste of blood and a loose tooth. Beli stared at the command console for some time, flexing his right hand, and then started slamming the commands.

And this was supposed to be an emperor’s father? The man was incapable of showing even basic control. How on earth did history keep saying that he won battles? All one needed to do was enrage him and he started behaving like a child. A chuckle escaped her mouth.

As a response, the cold blade pressed against her throat. “Say a word, witch,” the voice snarled into her ear. Beli turned and grinned at her. She smiled back. If she dies, she dies. Voyager would send information to the Borg, telling them what to do with the Imperial forces and the wormhole.

The shuttle shook. Alathea’s smile widened. Nothing wrong if Beli died too. And that concubine with the embryo. The Empire might be better off without this monster.

“What’s happening?” Beli demanded.

“Your grace, our own forces are firing upon us,” the commander reported.

“You fools, cease fire immediately!” Beli yelled in frustration.

“Your Grace, I’m unable to activate the communications,” the commander admitted.

Another jolt shook the shuttle, but this time, the alarms began ringing, accompanied by the calm voice of the computer announcing damage. “Hull breach. Life support systems out of order.”

Alathea couldn’t help but find the situation humorous. She might not see Voyager again, but witnessing the demise of this monster with her would be more than enough of a reward. Especially if he continues to behave like a fucking toddler.

Beli turned towards Alathea, his expression darkening. “Inform me how to operate this worthless contraption,” he demanded, his tone sharp with irritation.

Even amid his tantrum, he maintained the demeanor of an imperial courtier, showing that old habits die hard. She lifted her eyebrow, channeling Tuvok. Gesturing towards the knife still pressed against her throat, she shrugged. Beli signaled to the soldier behind her, prompting the blade to retreat, though not without leaving a sharp sting and a trickle of warmth in its wake.

Alathea maintained her smile unfalteringly. “Teaching you would require months, perhaps even longer,” she remarked calmly.

With another jolt, the computer’s announcement rang out: “Left engine malfunction detected.”

Bojan cleared his throat respectfully. “Your Majesty, I can establish communications. I’ve observed the operation of this shuttle,” he offered, confident in his ability to navigate its controls.

“Then make your way here and initiate communication,” Beli commanded, gripping the chair to steady himself amidst another explosion.

Bojan approached and inputted the correct commands, successfully opening the communications. “Cease fire! The Duke is present,” he declared urgently.

In response, the shuttle shook with another explosion.

“End this barrage immediately,” Beli ordered sternly. “Follow us into the highliner.”

“Yes, your grace,” came the response.

“What are you waiting for? Get us into the Highliner. I’ve had enough of this cursed vessel!” Beli commanded impatiently.

Bojan glanced nervously between the controls and Beli’s belt buckle, attempting a few commands to no avail. Finally, he cleared his throat and admitted, “Your majesty, the shuttle is damaged. I’m unsure how to pilot a damaged shuttle.”

“What do you mean?” Beli demanded.

“I’ve only been on this shuttle once before, and everything worked fine then. When I try to replicate the commands I saw used, nothing happens,” Bojan explained.

Beli turned to Alathea. “Instruct him on what to do.”

She grinned mischievously. “Well, first you’ll have to change the DNA to match mine, then use the thrusters and shut off the engines.”

“You mean this ship is keyed for you?”

“Yes. I don’t know why, but it seems Captain Janeway definitely doesn’t favor you guys.”

“Warning, life support is off. Oxygen supply limited,” the computer chimed in.

“What does this mean?” Duke growled.

“Your Majesty, we have to let her pilot the shuttle. We don’t have time to teach anyone else,” Bojan urged.

“I don’t trust her.”

“We have no other choice.”

Beli clenched his fists and then seized Alathea by the neck. “If you do anything suspicious, I will kill you first.”

“I’m smarter than you, dickhead. I’ll do something suspicious when you least expect it,” she thought to herself.

“Please, Alathea, help,” Bojan pleaded.

She nodded and settled into the pilot’s seat. Following her instructions, she turned off the engines and maneuvered the shuttle using the thrusters.

Alathea piloted the limping shuttle toward the highliner, biting her lip. Seven had informed her that she rigged the engine to explode and close the wormhole, but would that still be possible after this damage? Alathea wouldn’t be able to repair the shuttle. No, Beli would start torturing her the moment she landed inside the highliner.


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