by Suz suzvoy@tesco.net

Disclaimer - "Oh behaaave," Austin Powers said as he was assimilated by the Para-Borg.

This story was written on the train back from Karma's house, after spending the weekend with her, Rebecca, and Claire from JetC8. We didn't get much sleep.


It was a curious experience, knowing that no help was on the way. No saviour was going to come rushing to their aid, no metaphorical white knight was going to break down the equally metaphorical door and carry them away to safety like some kind of damsel in distress. How little reality actually resembled fairy tales.

Kathryn coughed, trying to ignore the pain in her chest and the man who was smiling weakly beside her as they both leant against the cold rocky surface.

It was most definitely an undesirable position to be in. They had been surprised and hopelessly outgunned by the group of aliens who had earlier so eagerly welcomed them to this planet. They didn't even know the name of the species who had attacked them - only that for some reason they wanted them dead. Possibly another xenophobic species who were against contact with 'outsiders' and thought that all aliens were impure.

This was all speculation. After beaming down to the planet the only words they heard from their persuers were shouts, threats or their equivilant of swear words. Lack of high ground or any reasonably defensive position had forced them into this cave - possibly the second least defensible location after open space. They only had one phaser between them and no tricorders. His com badge had been lost somewhere during their scuffle to get away and hers was practically useless now as they had lost contact with Voyager the moment they had beamed down to the surface.

Kathryn had never been a person who particularly believed in predicting the future, foretelling or magic. But somehow she knew that she was going to die in the cave. Did this happen to everyone? Just before they died did they know it was going to happen, or was it a surprise? There was no way to know and Kathryn honestly couldn't say if she preferred having that knowledge or if she would have preferred ignorance. One good point about having the knowledge was that she could try and prepare for it, but she wasn't sure where to start.

How do you prepare for death?

Chakotay seemed to be doing a pretty good job. Although it was admittedly small, he kept smiling at her despite their grim circumstances. He barely seemed concerned about the loss of his own life, and as egotistical as it sounded, she was willing to bet good odds that he was more worried about hers.

It had to do with his beliefs of course. He was a spiritual man with a profound respect for life. Did he believe that once his mortal life ended he would move into a spirit world? She knew he had a spirit guide, but she knew so little else about his beliefs. Was he at peace because he believed he knew what to expect? Presumptious of her to think that, perhaps. The only way to know was to ask but she didn't want her last words to him to be about religion.

Kathryn had never considered herself to be a religious person - she was a woman of science. Did that mean there'd be nothing when she died? No heaven, no hell, no afterlife. But if she was religious, would there be? Did it all come down to what you believed?

Of course it did.


His voice.


"I have an idea."

They heard voices then. Angry. Quiet but getting louder. They would be here soon and Kathryn had long ago lost the capacity to move more than her arms. Chakotay continued talking.

"Your phaser can be set to-"

"-overload. Yes. I know."

Throughout the exchange she kept her eyes fixed on her boots which she could see thanks to the low supply of light that had refracted through the caves. Raising her right hand which held the phaser, she tapped commands with her left. The power bar began to glow ominously.

She coughed and paused her work for a moment.

The power bar continued to glow.

Continuing, she stopped when there was only one button left to push. She had to time this just right if they were going to take any of their attackers with them.

Resting the phaser between them, she studied the weapon before looking at Chakotay and smiling. "Mind if I use your shoulder as a pillow?"

"Not at all," he replied, trying to move himself closer so she could lean against him.

The voices were louder. They were almost there.

Lifting the phaser up, Kathryn closed her eyes briefly to try and take with her the feel of his body against hers, something she had never let herself experience.

Holding out the phaser to him, she waited for him to realise what she wanted him to do. As with everything, they would do it together.

Movements were heard at the entry to their section of the cave.



"It would have been nice you know. Just once."

"Just once," he agreed, his voice quiet.

She smiled as the aliens entered the cave, taking satisfaction from the fact that this time she and Chakotay would be taking *them* by surprise.

The smile was still on her face as she rested her hand on top of his as he pressed the button.

There was no pain. There was simply sunrise on New Earth and the sound of birds singing in the trees.


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