Title: "Phoenix Fire"

Pairing: predominantly C/P.

Chapter Fourteen (14/?)

Summary: Confrontation.

The Federation stood on her right and her love for her crew and ship her left. She had two choices to make and at that pivotal moment, she made her decision. Years of Starfleet training and protocol sloughed off her like an old skin. With that choice, she became a new person. 

---Alicia von Hartman, Kathryn Janeway: Captain and Woman, p. 71.

"You have a lot of gall to stand right here in front of me," Kathryn's voice cut through the thick air like a sharp knife. 

The dark-skinned man planted himself directly before her, his face impassive. Grey eyes glared at him. He didn't flinch.

"If you move an inch, Captain Janeway," Sisko said curtly. "You will be violating Starfleet regulations."

"Starfleet regulations?" Kathryn made a short derisive laugh. "Since when did I break Starfleet regulations?"

B'Elanna and Harry moved to stand beside their captain. So did the rest of the crew. They formed a silent barricade around Janeway. Thank you, Kathryn thought softly, gratefully. 

"Listen," Voyager's captain said fiercely. "My ship was lost in the Delta Quadrant for four years, almost five. We fought a series of odds, beat off alien races and almost had Voyager destroyed. We were boarded but we won the ship back. And where was Starfleet all the while?"

"When we were finally rescued, I was delighted. I was finally going home. I had searched, demanded and worked my butt off for a way back to the Alpha Quadrant. God, when the Feng Huang appeared, I thought that it was a gift, a miracle. But the moment we got back, we were imprisoned. Kept indoors. I demanded answers. No-one helped at all. We were -- and are -- treated like criminals and this is something I hate, Sisko."

"And you know what? I prided myself to be a true-blue Starfleet officer. My father would have been proud of me. I was proud because of my training in the Academy. I loved Starfleet for what it stood for."

Kathryn Janeway drew herself to her fullest height. "I am proud now because of my own beliefs. My own integrity…which I hate to see compromised by petty motivations and political intrigue."

Sisko didn't say anything. 

*** *** ***

His head felt as if Jupiter had exploded right inside his brains. Yet, he struggled for consciousness. He swam through a swath of darkness, of whispering voices and a hollowness that seemed to emanate from his chest. He moaned and opened his eyes, seeing only dim objects and shadows.

"You are awake," a voice said. It came from his right. 

He couldn't speak for a while. His tongue felt like lead in his mouth. Belatedly, he realized that he was being tranquilized. 

"Commander Chakotay," the voice continued. "Maquis leader. Second division. Captain of a number of ships. Ex-Starfleet officer. You have an interesting career, Commander Chakotay. There is a lot of literature on you alone. You are almost an hero in the eyes of the Maquis and the DMZ."

Even in his weakened state, he recognized danger in the soft voice. He blinked, shaking his head. 

It was the strange-looking Constable Odo. He stood with his hands clasped behind his back. 

"Let…me go," Chakotay said. "Now."

"I regret to inform you that you are now in the brig," Odo said coolly. "You seem to have exchanged one prison for another."

"I have to find…Tom," Chakotay wanted to snap but all he could manage was a weak growl. "And Captain Janeway…she needs me. The ship needs me."

"Noble," Odo nodded as if in approval. 

Chakotay groaned inwardly. He had failed Tom. He hated seeing those blue eyes turning ice-cold with hatred…

Tom, forgive me…please.

*** *** ***

"The Enterprise will be able to hunt you down easily," Sisko said. The woman in front of him watched him, anger in her eyes. 

Kathryn Janeway considered the words. Coming from Sisko, it wasn't an empty threat.

Tuvok caught her eye. He seemed to say How about Chakotay and Tom? How about Seven of Nine?

She was not going to comply. 

Instead, she strode up to Sisko and stared at him sternly. "Tell Picard to talk to this---" With a slight grin, she kneeled Sisko in the groin. The man gasped, doubled over in pain. His eyes flung accusations at Janeway who simply smiled grimly.

*** *** ***

Beverly Crusher examined the supine figure on the bio-bed. Her doctor's eyes meticulously picked out external features: the aristocratic face, the implant shaped like a metallic crescent, the Borg hand beside a graceful body. Her feminine side, the one she kept suppressed while she worked as Chief Medical Officer, experienced a rush of pity. 

The half-Borg woman was beautiful. Spirited too. Even under the cold Borg façade, there was the kernel of human spirit that had refused to be snuffed out. She had walked into Sickbay, escorted by the security personnel. She didn't allow the officers to touch her. Instead, they kept a respective distance. 

The sedative knocked her out and she crumbled, her knees weakening first. But before she became fully unconscious, she regarded the doctor with a cold imperious gaze, as if she was saying, "You can't do this. I am Borg."

I have my orders, the CMO thought sadly and picked up the medical tricorder. The array of surgical apparatus gleamed at her, mocking her.

I am sorry.