CUP – Chapter 11

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

By mizvoy

Part 11: Repercussions

March 2379 (the next day)

The search for Chakotay began immediately after Seven of Nine was found dead on the operating table in the cybernetics lab in San Antonio. Voyager’s EMH, whose ethical subroutines had been altered by his patient, declared her dead and then calmly called the authorities, reporting her demise without so much as a catch in his voice.

“I warned her that this procedure had less than a twenty-five percent chance of success,” he told the security team that burst into the treatment bay twelve minutes after her demise, “but she insisted that we go ahead. I don’t think she cared if she lost her life in the process.”

Just over a year had passed since their return, which meant that any news about the Voyager crew received Federation-wide attention. Add to that fact the scent of scandal that surrounded any “suspected suicide,” and the press was sure to make this the lead item on every broadcast. But first, the next of kin, in this case Chakotay, had to be notified.

A reporter who spent his day lingering around the security desk in San Antonio just happened to hear the call come in from Voyager’s EMH. He was anxious to scoop the rest of the news corps and quite disgusted when his initial posting could only say that a member of Voyager’s crew had been found dead in a San Antonio cybernetic laboratory. That was more than enough, however, for the underground network was buzzing with rumors about the probable identity of the deceased. When Fednews showed Starfleet personnel walking up to the homes of Seven’s relatives later that day, there was little left to say. Right or wrong, most of the public had deduced who had died long before her husband had been located and informed.

Janeway and Chakotay had not intended to be gone except for a few hours, and so had left without telling anyone of their destination-except Seven of Nine. She had mentioned their location to B’Elanna Torres, but the authorities knew nothing of their chance conversation in the waiting room of the transport station. And, in any event, the nor’easter had made communications impossible in the Lake George area, which meant that some of the more scurrilous reporters had an equal chance to track Chakotay down before Starfleet found him.

By the time the sun rose on the east coast of North America, Fednews was running the following leading story on every news channel in the Federation—”Voyager Crew Member a Suspected Suicide—Husband AWOL.”

The Voyager crew mobilized. When B’Elanna was informed of what had happened, she suspected that Seven had gone ahead with her ill-conceived plan to remove her remaining implants. She made several attempts to reach Janeway at her office, her home, and finally the cabin at Lake George. When all three efforts failed, she contacted Tuvok, at Starfleet security, and let him know what Seven had told her of Chakotay’s whereabouts the previous day.

“It was Seven who died, wasn’t it?” she asked the Vulcan, who answered with the usual Security doublespeak, confirming her suspicions. “What a waste.”

Meanwhile, in the dark, cold cabin at Lake George, Janeway and Chakotay slowly awakened. The fire had burned down to charcoal, leaving the large room icy cold and lit only by the weak early morning light that filtered through broken clouds. Embarrassed by the intimacy of their sleeping arrangements, they quickly pulled away from each other.

“Are you all right?” Chakotay asked as Janeway disentangled herself from the blanket and stood up to stretch.

“I have a headache the size of a shuttlecraft and a few aches and pains, but nothing serious. How are you?”

“About the same. I’ll feel better once I’m up and moving.”

She glanced out the window at the thin cloud cover. “I don’t know if we’re between bands of storms or if the system has moved on. Once we get the emergency system online, it won’t take long to have enough power for the replicator-unless you’d prefer another ration pack?”

“No, thanks. Nor do I want to be around while you’re suffering from coffee withdrawal. I’ve seen you in that condition.” Chakotay laughed at her scowl and stood up, folding the blanket as he studied the hearth. “First, I think we need warmth. I’ll get the fire going again.”

“I’m making a quick trip to the bathroom,” Janeway called as she disappeared dawn the hallway. “See if we can get a weather report on the emergency receiver.”

Chakotay worked at rebuilding the fire and then finished replacing the sofa cushions, leaving the sofa close to the hearth so they could return with breakfast and warm up while they ate.

“Success,” Janeway said as she passed through the room. “I got the solar panels online and even managed to find a battery pack with residual power for the kitchen. I left it in there for you. I’ll see about the emergency receiver.”

“Aye, Captain.” He made a quick trip to the bathroom and then headed for the kitchen, thinking that they should put their clothes in the ‘fresher or replicate something to replace them.

He spent the next few minutes getting the battery pack installed so that the replicator would work, and then he made a large pot of coffee and a platter of fruit and croissants. He could hear the emergency communication unit come online a few moments later, just before Janeway returned to the room.

“The worst of the weather has passed,” she reported as she sat down and poured them both a large mug of coffee. “We can replicate new clothes and hike to the transport station as soon as we finish eating.”

“I can’t believe we were caught so unprepared for the bad weather.”

“I guess after the dangers of the Delta Quadrant, we can’t imagine that anything really bad can happen here,” Janeway concluded. “We learned our lesson the hard way.”‘

They heard the Fednews chime announcing “breaking” news, growing quiet to listen. The reporter’s voice was barely discernable as she said, “Whether it was Voyager’s former drone, Seven of Nine, who was found at the facility has yet to be announced, nor has it been officially labeled a suicide. Rumor has it that Voyager’s Emergency Medical Hologram reported the death to authorities. Of course, none of this will be confirmed until the next of kin is notified.”

Janeway and Chakotay stared at each other in astonishment, too shocked to speak. They were still trying to come to terms with what they’d heard when they heard someone pounding on the front door.

“Hello? Anyone home?” The shadows of their visitors blocked out the light coming in from the porch. One man cupped his hands around his eyes and peered through the window. “Hello? This is Starfleet security!”

Janeway tore her eyes from Chakotay’s face and pulled her robe tighter around her. “Come in. The door isn’t locked.”

Now that they had her permission, the two officers opened the door and stepped into the foyer, their eyes wide with shock when they saw that the occupants were dressed in robes and slippers.

“Commander Chakotay?”


“I’m Lieutenant Kirk Maguire from Starfleet Security. It’s my unhappy duty to inform you that your wife, Annika Hansen, died last night at the Starfleet Cybernetic Research Lab in San Antonio, Texas.”

“Seven of Nine,” Chakotay corrected him, his face ghostly pale. “Her name is Seven of Nine.”

At that moment, two other strangers appeared at the front door. One was Joe Whitby, the man who had been on duty when they’d arrived the previous day. The other was obviously a reporter of some sort.

“I told you,” Whitby announced as the reported snapped pictures. “This is that poor woman’s husband. He’s been here since yesterday, shacked up with that woman.”

Chakotay pushed past the Starfleet officers and ripped the holoimager out of the reporter’s hands, smashing it onto the floor with a furious roar.

“Shacking up,” Whitby repeated, joining the reporter as they made a hasty retreat out of the house and into the drizzle. “And his wife was such a nice lady.”

Three days later

The apartment was lit only by the reflected light of the moon, so Janeway waited just inside the door for her eyes to adjust to the darkness. Chakotay was there-he had allowed her to enter-but he hadn’t answered her hello and his exact location was impossible to determine in the poor light. To her knowledge, he hadn’t talked to anyone nor had he left these rooms since he had beamed out of the Lake George cabin. He’d decided to seclude himself rather than accompany Janeway to San Antonio.

She detected the shadowy figure of a man lying on a sofa that had been situated in front of the huge windows that overlooked the Montana forest. The floor behind the sofa was littered with a variety of empty liquor bottles, broken plates and glasses. From the smell, there was also half-eaten food in the debris.

She took a deep breath and steeled herself for a confrontation. The last three days had been difficult for her, almost beyond endurance. She had spent most of it fighting to dispel the scandal surrounding Seven’s death, defusing the speculation about why she and Chakotay were found alone in a secluded cabin, and defending Chakotay for his assault on the reporter and for his subsequent disappearance.

Chakotay should have been with her, should have added his voice to hers, but he had retreated instead. She’d made up a dozen excuses for his absence, explaining that the shock of Seven’s death was just too difficult to bear, that he was grieving in private, that he would come forward soon.

The truth was that no one knew for sure where he’d gone or whether he’d return at all. She’d finally tracked him to this apartment in the mountains of Montana by having Tuvok use his contacts in Starfleet security to trace his steps. This cabin apparently belonged to a friend he’d known in his academy days.

“You’ve been here all this time?” she asked, waiting a moment for him to reply before she began to pick her way through the trash. “I thought you were going to meet me in San Antonio.”

“You said we shouldn’t be seen together.” His voice was rusty, as if he hadn’t spoken in days. “You said that we had to avoid each other if we were going to convince the public that our being together was a result of the weather and not a romantic rendezvous.”

“We can be together in groups.” She reached the back of the sofa and looked down at him. He was wearing filthy jeans and a stained flannel shirt; judging from the stubble on his chin, he hadn’t shaved in days. Wrinkling her nose, she could tell that he hadn’t showered, either. “I just meant that we shouldn’t be seen alone together.”

“We’re alone together now,” he pointed out. “Aren’t you afraid your lily-white reputation will be sullied?”

“Stop it.” She reined in her temper and took a calming breath. “You were her husband. You need to step up and take care of things.”

“Why?” He finally glanced at her for a brief moment before looking away. “I didn’t take care of things while she was alive, and you’re probably doing a better job than I would, anyway.”

“You’re making it easier for people to believe that she committed suicide because-.” She paused, unwilling to speculate as to a reason.

“Because her husband didn’t love her enough.”

“Of course you loved her.”

“Because at the moment when she needed him the most, he was with another woman.”

“That wasn’t how it was, and you know it.” She huffed a breath. “You’re just saying these things because you feel guilty.”

“And you don’t?” He sat up and turned to face her. “Not even a little bit?”

“I had no idea that she would try something this dangerous, and neither did you. After all, she was the one who added the protocols to the EMH’s program to protect him from being ‘hijacked’ like this. Remember?”

“The easier to remove them, my dear.” He turned away and slouched against the back of the sofa. “Go away.”

“Chakotay,” she said, violating the silence as she circled the sofa and stood in front of him, “there has to be some kind of memorial.”

He stared at her, taking in the immaculate hair and makeup, the perfectly pressed and fitted uniform, thinking how good she was at carrying on, no matter what. He took a breath and then shook his head. “You do it.”

“I can’t do it, Chakotay! You were her husband!”

“Not really. Not the way I should have been. She knew I didn’t love her the way I should love my wife, and that’s why she died.”

Janeway was so shocked by his words that she was speechless. She sat down on the window sill and stared at him. “What are you talking about?”

“You don’t need to pretend to be surprised,” he continued, glaring at her. “She knew it, the crew knew it, and you had to know it, too.”

“What is this thing that we all know?” she demanded, totally confused.

“You can ask me that?” He laughed, but there was no mirth in the sound. “You know how much I love you.”

She inhaled sharply. “We were fellow officer and good friends, Chakotay. Nothing more. And if the crew, or Seven of Nine, saw our friendship for more than what it is, then I can’t help that.”

Chakotay shook his head sadly. “Your powers of denial amaze me, Kathryn.”

“I prefer to deal with reality, not a pipe dream.” She struggled to remain in control of her emotions. “Seven died because she wanted to be completely free of her Borg implants, to truly regain her humanity.”

“Why would she take such a chance with her life?” He watched her squirm. “Why, except that she felt rejected and alone. She thought by being more human, she could save our marriage.” He laughed again. “What a joke.”

“Save your marriage?”

“She was about to ask me for a divorce.”


“Open your eyes, Kathryn. It was suicide, pure and simple. You know it and I know it.”

“I don’t know it.” She crossed her arms over her chest and narrowed her eyes at him. “We both know that she struggled with depression because of her stalled progress to eliminate the rest of her implants. She was disappointed that she couldn’t have children. She felt trapped by her continuing need for the regeneration chamber. If anything, it was my decision to take her from the Borg that inevitably led to her death.”

“The noble Kathryn Janeway takes all things on her shoulders,” he chuckled, taking another swig from a bottle he’d stashed in the cushion. “You never pledged to cherish her. You never took an oath to forsake all others, not the way I did. She trusted me to be faithful, Kathryn.”

“When were you unfaithful?”

“Oh, Kathryn.” He just smiled at her.

“And, anyway, she trusted me first. She tried to leave Voyager several times, but I always tracked her down and forced her to stay.”

Chakotay wasn’t listening, his eyes were fixed on the stars out the window. “I bet she died for the same reason in the admiral’s timeline, too. Because I didn’t love her the way she deserved-with all of my heart.”

“The admiral said it was an injury that she sustained during an away mission,” she corrected him. “It was an accident.”

“Unless she took a deadly risk like she did now,” he muttered. “Maybe the admiral didn’t change her future after all-a suicide then and a suicide now.”

“You say this was a suicide, but how can you know? She herself told B’Elanna that it was a calculated risk. She told the EMH that.”

“The EMH.” Chakotay shook his head. “Now there’s the guy to feel sorry for. He loved her more than her husband did, and yet he literally brought about her demise.”

Janeway buried her face in her hands at his words. The EMH was devastated over Seven’s demise, grieving over his complicity in the procedure that had killed the woman he loved. Once his ethical subroutines had been restored, Janeway had spent hours with him, assuring him that something would be done to keep anyone else from tampering with his program again. But there was nothing anyone could do to turn back the clock, and she worried that he would descend into a feedback loop as problematical as the one that had nearly destroyed him in the Delta Quadrant.

She looked up in surprise, realizing that Chakotay was doing exactly that—that he was caught in a feedback loop of guilt from which he had yet to find a solution. She needed to do something to change his thinking or he would sink into a depression.

“Seven just wanted to be human.”

“She wanted to be loved.” Chakotay sat up and rubbed his eyes. “And that’s why she committed suicide. I know it for a fact.”

“How do you know it for a fact?” She stood up straight. “What have you found out?”

“She left me a message.” His eyes were tortured as he slid his hand between the cushions and pulled out a PADD, holding it out to her. “Read it for yourself.”

Janeway’s hand trembled as she activated the screen. It was text only, and her eyes quickly scanned it.

“I’m sorry we disagreed about our first anniversary. I regret that such matters that are so meaningful to you are trivial to me. This is just an example of what is wrong between us, Chakotay. I believe that my nature is unsuitable for marriage. I care deeply for both you and the admiral and understand that she is the one you should be with. Perhaps, once the doctor completes this procedure and I am fully human, the three of this can work things out to a satisfactory conclusion.”

The room was silent as Janeway scanned the message a second and third time. She looked up at him, confused. “I’m the one you should be with?”

“I told you she knew how much I loved you.”

Tears stung Janeway’s eyes. “I don’t understand.”

“She committed suicide because I didn’t love her, Kathryn. How long can you keep denying it?” his temper was raging. “How many different ways do I have to say the truth before it sinks into your thick skull?”

Her head snapped up to look at him, furious at his derisive tone. “You think this means she wanted to die? She says she wants the three of us to work things out.”

“She wrote that before she saw us ‘shacking up’ in the cabin, to use the transport clerk’s colorful vocabulary.”

“But he misinterpreted what they saw!”

“Did he?”

She threw her hands out in dismay. “You know he did! We’re not romantically involved, and we never have been.”

“No, that’s quite true. We’ve never acted on our feelings for each other, but does that really matter in the long run? Even Seven of Nine knew that we loved each other more than we loved her.”

“That isn’t what she said, Chakotay. She doesn’t say that you don’t love her!”

“She saw us sleeping together at the cabin, and what did she do next? She immediately took a risk that was sure would end her life. Can’t you see that it was an act of desperation?” He stood up, towering over her. “As far as I’m concerned, she committed suicide, and you and I are guilty of driving her to it.”

Janeway was rooted to the spot, unable to move as Chakotay turned and walked away. She tried to imagine what Seven might have thought when she’d seen them together in the cabin, wishing for the thousandth time that they’d been awake when she’d arrived instead of fast asleep on the sofa.

“We have nothing to be ashamed of,” she insisted at last. “If she’d only waited long enough to talk to us, we would have explained what happened.”

“She didn’t need an explanation, Kathryn. She already knew the truth.”

“But she didn’t know the truth—she jumped to conclusions, just as that transport clerk did. You should come with me and tell the press the truth, tell them that what I’ve said all along is true.” She stood alone, peering into the darkened bedroom, waiting for him to return.

He came to the doorway, trembling with remorse and self-hatred. “Do you really think anyone believes the truth, Kathryn? They see what they want to see, and they believe what they want to believe, no matter what you and I say. And, anyway, the only person who needs to hear the truth is dead.” He stood there his fists clenched. “You were right, Kathryn. We can never be alone together again, not even as friends.”

Janeway rubbed her forehead, her heart aching. When she looked up, he’d disappeared into the bedroom.

“Chakotay, no matter what anyone believes, Seven deserves to have a memorial service. You need to come out of seclusion and take care of that.”

“You do it,” came his voice from the other room. “I wasn’t there for her while she lived, so it would be wrong for me to play the wounded husband now that she’s dead.”

“Chakotay, please.”

“That’s all I have to say to you, Kathryn. Now, get the hell out of here and leave me alone.”


“Don’t make me throw you out the door!”

“I’ll be back,” she replied as she placed the PADD on the arm of the sofa and walked carefully through the rubbish, looking back as she reached the door. “I’ll come back and we’ll talk this through.”

The next day, when she and B’Elanna returned to bring him with them to San Francisco, they found a cleaning team working hard to clean the carpet for the next occupant.

Chakotay had disappeared and this time had been careful to leave no trace of his destination.