THE THUNDERBIRD
By Morticia

Disclaimer: They belong to paramount, not me, and I'm too poor to sue anyway

Part 5

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Captain's Personal Log, "The Thunderbird," : Day 16.
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Okay, I'm stupid. I admit it.

The whole purpose of re-programming the Doc had been so that we could fly the ship 24 hours a day.

Because we were still saving fuel we hadn't changed to a 24 hour shift so it never occurred to me to simply banish him to the Bridge while Tom and I slept, rather than ask him to turn himself off.

Blame the stress of the Hyperian's customs search, for me not thinking about it before the night I went ballistic, and the considerable distraction of being caught with my pants down and my cock in Tom's throat for not thinking about it afterwards.

I was in such a state of embarrassment that I couldn't think straight and once the Doctor and I started to argue we were like a couple of posing cockerels, neither willing to concede or compromise.

Tom was in a state of shock, I think, otherwise he would have knocked our heads together then and there. As it was, he waited until breakfast before presenting me with a new duty schedule that solved all of our problems.

As I read his proposal, it occurred to me that I would never have made such an error when I was the First Officer of Voyager. When I said as much to Tom, he just grinned and said he preferred the new and improved casual Chakotay.

I can see his point of view. I am a lot more relaxed now that I am not constantly responsible for a crew of 150 people. On the other hand, with only 6 people to juggle, I should be able to do it with my eyes shut.

The truth of the matter is that I am doing most of my thinking with my cock at the moment. Having been unexpectedly given a second chance with Tom, or is that sixth or seventh chance in reality, he gets all of my attention. I don't even want to think about any of the other members of our crew. I definitely don't want to waste any time thinking about Trabor.

Not exactly admirable behaviour for a so-called Captain, though.

I need to get my act together now.

We are orbiting Ceranus VIII, a small mining outpost that was colonized back in the 23rd century and became prosperous because of its immense wealth of latinum deposits.

A heavy defense shield kept us at bay until the residents checked our registration and our bona fides came back as legitimate. They have a huge problem with pirates, not surprisingly. They seem unconcerned by the fact that we have a "mad" pilot and a "drunken" engineer. All they needed to know is that we are honest.

Of late, legitimate off world trade has been virtually impossible for the inhabitants and their standard of living has deteriorated accordingly. Ceranus has little in the way of arable land, and since people can't eat latinum, the inhabitants are the richest people that you can imagine starving to death.

That's an exaggeration, of course. There are always black-market traders willing to arrive there and trade foodstuffs in exchange for exorbitant prices. The Ceranians are a captive market and have little choice except to pay. The traders won't offer them passage off world though, because of the fear of being scanned by pirate vessels. If a Ceranian lifeform is detected on board, it is almost a certainty that there is sufficient Latinum to make an all-out attack worthwhile.

The traders still take a risk in coming though, so their greed is perhaps understandable. To one extent, you could say there's no harm in it, since Latinum is plentiful and has no commercial value on Ceranus so the traders are simply exchanging much-needed food for something that has no tangible value on the planet below.

The other side of the coin though, is that the Latinum has a high cost in lives. If it were easy to mine, it wouldn't carry it's high universal value. The lodestone that bears the latinum vein is notoriously fragile, crumbling at the first touch of a mining phaser. As the mine shafts are sunk further into the ground, the risk of a cave-in grows exponentially. There are few families on Ceranus who have not given up sons and daughters to the brutal vengeance of the earth.

The other, more insidious danger is the fact that Latinum dust corrodes lungs. After twenty or thirty years down the mines, the miners are virtually crippled. Without lung replacements they are unable to even walk without gasping for breath and the medical facilities on Ceranus are several decades out of date.

Several dozen inhabitants have already signed up with us for transportation off world. Our main problem, though, is that Latinum weighs so much.

We had counted on a dozen passengers per trip, but the weight of their bullion in our cargo bay would virtually cripple us. We need to be sleek and fast. The main reason few people offer to transport people off Ceranus is that they won't leave without their Latinum, but the moment we leave orbit there will be a flotilla of pirate ships waiting to capture us.

Tom and the Doctor have run endless simulations through the computer and whichever way they try it, we can't carry more than six people at a time. Allowing for the idea of carrying one person free, the other five will have to be charged a substantial amount to make up for the fact that we will have to use our Heran shields, that drain fuel at an alarming rate, and still run like hell, just in case.

Trabor, Neelix and Harry suggested we forgot about the free ride and gave everyone a slight discount. Sue, The Doctor and Tom got upset because there are a fair number of Ceranians who are now too frail to mine and have no family to support them so the wealth that they collected earlier in their lives is rapidly shrinking just to put food in their bellies. They do not have enough Latinum left to live as well as their compatriots in the Federation , but at least they will have access to decent medical facilities. Their savings, carefully spent, will allow them to have a frugal but decent life.

So the deciding vote is mine, and as the Captain I have to make my decision based on all of our welfare, rather than my immediate urge to agree with Tom.

It is his ship, after all, yet he hasn't put his foot down and tried to use that to sway the decision in his favor. He's playing fair. So I will too.

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Chief Pilot's Personal Log, "The Thunderbird," : Day 18.

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It sucks to be noble.

This is what I get for allowing a democratic vote on my own ship.

My own husband voted against me.

That's not strictly true, I guess, since he actually proposed a compromise. Four trips with full fee paying passengers until we have earned enough profit for the re-fit, then we can afford to substantially reduce our profit margin and carry some free passengers.

It makes sense because the people in the front of the queue are the richest. It also means we can re-fit faster and carry our passengers in more comfort. (Not to mention the bonus of Chak and I getting back into our own quarters faster)

So why am I so pissed off?

Because I had this stupid idea that Chak would simply let me have my own way.

For the last few weeks he's been thinking with his cock and I have been twisting him around my little finger. I knew it wouldn't last indefinitely, of course, but I think I had hoped it would last a little longer.

On the other hand, I fell in love with Chakotay because he's such a strong person. I don't really think I'd like him to be under my thumb all the time. Command suits him better than the role of love-sick fool.

It was nice while it lasted though.

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Op's Officer's Personal Log, "The Thunderbird," : Day 20.

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I hate them.

Ceranians, I mean.

I can't believe I bothered to argue with Chakotay over his decision to charge them all for passage.

Hell, if I'd known what they would be like, I'd have suggested we charged them double.

They do nothing but gripe about the accommodations as though they'd rather starve to death on their dust ball planet than share a bathroom.

They hate the food, and believe me, Neelix's cooking has improved a hell of a lot since he lost his access to Leola Root.

They think that because they have enough Latinum in the hold to buy each of them a dozen yachts the size of the Thunderbird, that we should treat them as if they were visiting dignitaries rather than refugees.

I don't care if they shit Latinum, manners cost nothing.

The only thing that is making this trip bearable is the fact that we are making a whole heap of credits and Chakotay has finally confined them to their quarters with the threat that if he sees any of them again before we reach Deep Space 3, he will space them.

I really think he means it too.

I never thought I would ever see him lose it like that. Hell, when the guy explodes he does it with finesse. The Ceranians almost wet themselves at the look in his face, and I almost came.

Yeah, me. Straight Harry Kim.

God help me if Sue ever reads this entry, because believe me, I love her more than my own life, but in that moment as I watched Chakotay's eyes turn into blazing black flames, I was so turned on by the sight that I got a hard on.

I always understood that Tom and Chakotay loved each other, and I never denied that they are both attractive looking men, but I never actually thought about what they did in bed together. My mind always skittered uncomfortably over the idea of two men fucking each other.

Tom confided in me months ago that Chakotay was the "top" in their relationship and although I tried not to think about it too much I always kind of shuddered at the thought of my best friend letting another man do that to him.

Okay, so I'm a prude, maybe.

But this morning, when I finally saw the dangerous beast that lurks under Chakotay's calm exterior, I nearly creamed my pants.

So, I guess I'm saying that Tom's a lucky man after all, and I'm just glad that I finally understand why Tom loves Chakotay in that way. Somehow it makes a difference. Means that I can be a better friend to him. If he ever wants to discuss that part of his relationship in the future I won't blush and fidget uncomfortably like I did in the past, I'll discuss things properly with him.

Tom and Chakotay are no different than Sue and Me.

I understand that now.

So something good came out of what happened this morning, even if Tom was so badly hurt by those bastards that I saw him almost cringing under the helm at their cruel words.

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Chief Pilot's Personal Log, "The Thunderbird," : Day 20.

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I can't stop crying and if Chakotay finds me like this he'll probably go crazy again and really throw the Ceranians out of the airlock. I'm hoping that if I write it down, I'll get it out of my system before he comes to bed.

I know everyone's pissed off with them for being so rude, but the truth's still the truth, isn't it? No matter how much good manners should hide it.

I am a cripple.

For the first time I have been seriously considering the artificial legs that the Starfleet Doctors suggested. Sure, I'd be half-machine but at least I would be able to walk like a real person.

Hell, what a stupid thing to think, let alone write.

I am a real person. And Chakotay loves me.

Not that I was in any doubt on that score. The day he turned his back on Angel and chose me instead was the last day I doubted his love. I admit to wondering whether that love would last given the handicap of my disability, and since it's only been three weeks since we set off in the Thunderbird we have hardly stood the test of time yet.

Today though, when he stood on that bridge and ripped shreds out of our passengers for daring to voice out loud their doubts about being flown by a crippled pilot, I kind of fell in love with him all over again.

He was literally quivering with anger. Bristling like an enraged targ.

He was magnificent.

I swear even Harry nearly swooned at the sound of Chakotay's warm treacle voice raising into such volcanic fury that the bridge shook.

When Chakotay is angry, he goes quiet, his voice drops almost to a whisper. When he is furious though, he could topple a mountain with his wrath.

That's why I'm crying really, I think.

Not because of the insensitive cruelty of the Ceranians' words, but the way that Chakotay leapt to my defense.

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Chief Pilot's Personal Log, "The Thunderbird," : Day 42.

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This is my first log entry for three weeks, which says two things, I guess.

Firstly, I've been so fucking tired that I haven't even given a thought to my diary. When we arrived at DS3 with our first passengers from Ceranus VIII we discovered that there was a time slot available in the repair bay due to a cancellation. The Chief Engineer offered to knock off the deposit already paid on the time if we committed ourselves to having the refit during the free period.

The difference meant that we only needed two more trips to afford the re-fit and although we would be pushing the Thunderbird to her limits, not to mention ourselves, the offer was too good to refuse.

So for the last three weeks Chakotay has had to pick me out of my chair at the end of each day and physically put me in bed where I have immediately gone out like a light. So much for all that palaver over the privacy of our temporary quarters. The only time we have had for sex has been in the bath each morning.

I love sex in the bath though. The water gives me buoyancy and I feel like an equal partner in our coupling.

I'm hoping that Chakotay will agree to the "minor" modification I have made to the re-fit plans. I worked out that if we had the starboard wall in our quarters moved back 30 centimeters to expand the bathroom, we can replace the bath with a full size Jacuzzi and still have room for me to maneuver my chair around the sink and toilet.

Of course, I am out of favors with him at the moment, which is the other reason for this entry.

Jem screwed up. Big time.

In his favor, he at least waited until we docked yesterday for our refit before blowing it. For the last five weeks his behaviour has been impeccable. It was only when we disembarked into the station guest quarters that he lost it.

I should have known better, I suppose. I had even gone as far as dumping the liquor on our first stop at DS3 to prevent any temptation. The Thunderbird is a dry ship. Besides, with the drugs that Jem has been taking to repair his liver damage, an overdose of alcohol could kill him, and he knows that.

To be safe, I had arranged room service for him so that he didn't need credits and had advised the management that if they served him a single alcoholic drink that I wouldn't pay for any of our rooms.

Then, I forgot about him.

Hell, I hadn't fucked Chak in a bed for three weeks and we were long overdue some R & R. We spent all day yesterday in bed, went out for dinner, returned to bed, went out for breakfast, returned to bed and we didn't get up again until lunchtime.

It was only when Chakotay went off this afternoon to answer some questions on the blueprint of the re-fit, that I thought to call by and see how Jem was doing.

I found him passed out on his bed, snoring heavily and stinking of whiskey.

I panicked. I knew that if Chakotay saw him like this he would be finished on the Thunderbird. So I floated off to the station sickbay to purchase a couple of hang-over hypos and then rushed back. The first hypo at least woke him up and then he puked all over the bed which at least got some of the alcohol out of him.

"For fuckís sake, Jem. I told you Chakotay would have your ass if he caught you drinking. Where the hell did you get credits for the whiskey?" I yelled at him.

"Harry," he replied.

I think I just closed my eyes in despair. I had deliberately concealed Jemís problem from my best friend, to give Jem a fresh start, so it wasnít his fault that he had given Jem the money for a drink. It was mine. Even so, I couldnít see Chakotay accepting the offer of my ass to kick instead.

"Youíve got to sober up, fast," I told him.

"You really fell on your feet, didnít you?" Gem hissed at me as I administered the second hypospray.

In view of my wheelchair, it took a moment for his comment to sink in and even then I was still a little confused..

"You mean the Thunderbird, or Chakotay?" I asked carefully.

"Auckland," he replied, somehow building a wealth of venom into the single word.

"What?" I asked him, completely bewildered by then.

"I remember you in Auckland," he sniggered. "You were the prison whore."

I stiffened in furious disbelief that he would say such a cruel and vicious thing to my face when I was busy trying to save his ass.

"Thatís a lie, a fucking lie, and you know it. I never sold my ass. Never," I growled at him.

"Oops, sorry. I remember now. You werenít a whore. You gave it away for free. You were just the prison slut. You must have been good though. You never got that pretty face smashed in, did you? You didnít even do your time. Did you do the guards that good, huh? Is that why you got parole? Must have pissed you off to find yourself stuck on Voyager though. But you solved that problem didnít you? Hell, fucking the Commander was a sure fire way of getting a cushy number," he replied.

I just sat there with my mouth open, and my eyes filling with tears. I felt completely defenseless. Even denying his words would somehow give them some form of reality. He seemed to take my speechlessness as permission to continue.

"Donít get me wrong. Iím not dissing you. Fuck, youíve got a talent, why not use it?"

"Talent?" I finally hissed.

"Well, I figure you must be hot. Why the fuck else would he still want you now youíre a cripple?" Jem asked.

It was only then that I realised he wasn't even looking at me as he talked, he was looking over my shoulder and before I could turn to find out who the hell he was talking to, Chakotay moved past me in a blur, picked Jem up and literally threw him across the room so that he hit the wall with a sickening crunch and started to slide down to the floor.

Chakotay gave a bellow of pure rage and stepped forward to finish the job. For a moment of pure terror I actually thought he would kill the engineer. That's when the penny dropped.

"Chak. Please Chak. Don't do it. It's what he wants. Can't you see that? He wants you to kill him," I yelled.

"Good," Chakotay growled.

"NO," I wailed. "I NEED you, Chak," and the terror in my voice finally broke through his red haze of anger. He shook his head slowly, forcing calm over his furious body as he realised that if he killed Jem he would be jailed and I would be abandoned.

I thanked the Spirits, the Gods and any other omnipotent beings that might be listening in that Chakotay was strong enough to control his anger. Most of the time he is as calm and steady as a rock, but when he perceives danger or insult to me, he becomes a cyclone.

"I don't ever want to see your face again," he told Jem quietly.

Jem was slumped on the floor, blood streaming from his nose from the force of his impact against the wall.

"No, Chakotay," I said calmly. "He's our Engineer and when we leave here he will be coming with us."

Chakotay looked at me in complete disbelief.

"You are prepared to keep him after he said those things to you?" he demanded.

"Did you believe what he said?" I asked him quietly.

"Of course not," he spat, his eyes flashing outrage on my behalf.

"Then no harm was done, was it?" I asked. "I know it wasn't true, and you don't believe it's true, so it doesn't matter."

"You're still willing to give him a chance?" he asked me, his face completely puzzled.

"Just give him one more chance, Chakotay. Please," I begged.

"I'll think about it," he replied.

I still don't know what he's going to decide. The fact that he's willing to consider it at all is more than either of us deserved, Jem or me, and to be honest, I am unsure why I am still putting myself on the line for him.

Only there was something so suicidal about the way he had deliberately taunted Chakotay by attacking me that it proves he needs pity more than hatred.

Besides, if I'm completely honest, there was a certain element of truth in his words. But I was a different person then.

There are a lot of things about the pre-Chakotay Tom Paris that I don't like. Jem reminds me of what I might have been if I had never taken that fatal trip on Voyager and I don't like what I see.

When I see myself in Chakotay's eyes though, I am reborn.

TBC