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The Perils Of B'Elanna

VC: The Perils of B'Elanna
D'Alaire — 30 Sep 1998, 8:33 PM

This takes place in the time gap following the trial/bank robbery

The smoke had long cleared, rolled away over the blackened plain. And there she sat not really looking at it, actually looking at nothing. Just sitting.

The fire had destroyed so much, but finally directing her eyes to the corral again, she knew they'd been lucky, too. She'd been lucky. Frisco still whined for the burns on his shoulder, Kona was still skitterish. But they were alive.

She still didn't know where that strength had come from, how she did it. It was a like some demon spirit that'd invaded her, and it frightened her. She'd felt no fear running into that burning barn, felt a power in her like none other when she jumped across to Miss Kathryn, throwing her out of the way of the falling beam...The beam that killed that evil wench, Seska. Where did that power come from?

It was hard to be near anyone lately. Things were starting to settle into a grueling daily shift of trying to repair the destruction they were all working so hard to undo. Like everyone, Tom was about beat down by the concern for the cattle and the horses--and when he wasn't exhausted,
he was short-tempered.

They'd argued again that morning.

He'd taken Frisco's injuries hard, she knew, taken the burning of the only home he'd known as a personal affront. B'Elanna understood. It was her home, her horses, too.

They lost fifteen good mounts, buried them in the blackened field without tears or anger. Or at least she hadn't cussed or moaned. Unlike the others, though, she didn't know how to react. She only knew how to keep working. Somehow during the time, she'd been labeled a rock of strength.

She didn't feel like one. She just felt confused.

Watching Kona and Frisco was hard for her. They were such noble creatures. She and Tom had raised them both from colts, knew them as well as they knew each other. It was only an idle thought at first that they should be put together. Yet once Tom got a hankering for the idea, it stuck in his head like glue. And he pestered B'Elanna until she agreed.

Well, maybe she'd favored the idea from the start--she just didn't like knowing Tom was right at the time.

They'd made good mates, got on great--though Tom had tricked her into thinking at first they hadn't taken to each other. Later, Annie had told her that Frisco had actually taken a particular glee in getting himself a mate, and Kona was more than happy to oblige. From then forward, they were inseparable.

But now, tragedy had disturbed them both. She could almost feel their fear, their nervousness. Often in the corral, they played or flirted with each other. After the fire, they were distracted, staying close but hardly paying attention to each other, until Frisco would rub his shoulder somehow and whine--causing Kona to jump and brurr. Or he'd, for no reason, start bucking, hurting himself more and causing his mate to run off.

They were at it again. Frisco was shaking his head violently. Kona was whinnying, pushing up on the fence. The other horses were avoiding them.

Puffing a breath, B'Elanna stood up from the coal-scarred ground and reached into her pocket for some carrots she'd plucked from the back garden. She offered it to both of them, whispering sweetly to them, but Kona backed off, reeling her head. Frisco all but ignored it. He was in pain. Kona was scared. B'Elanna grit her teeth lest she cry.

She couldn't take it anymore. But she still didn't know what to do. She reached back on her belt to get her to get her knife. Thinking it wouldn't be as much a chore for them to nibble the food again, she cut the carrot down. In the heavy sun, the knife blade glinted, shocking her eye...

Then she got an idea.

RE: VC: The Perils of B'Elanna, part 2
D'Alaire — 30 Sep 1998, 8:40 PM

Tom walked into the kitchen, slapping off his thick leather gloves on his dusty jeans before tucking them in his back pocket, oblivious to Kes' raising her eyes at the mess he was making. He helped himself to some water, looked over to Chakotay.

The foreman was taking a rare break. His hat was over his head as he leaned way back in the chair. Had it not been for the waterglass he balanced with a finger on his lap, Tom would've sworn the man was sleeping. "'Bout time you came in for a while," the older man said. "That sun 'd fry an egg on the dirt."

Tom grimaced. "Yep, I've noticed. --Hey Kes, seen B'Elanna?"

Kes smiled knowingly at her brother's attempt to be casual, but she kept her voice neutral. "She went out to the corral to check on Kona and Frisco a few hours back. I guess she's still there. Frisco's wounds looks like they're starting to heal, Tom. That--"

"You sure? I didn't see her when I came in." Tom finished his water. "Maybe she took them down to the river."

"Don't see how," Chakotay said. "Both those horses 're skitterish as the bijiminies. They won't take to saddles again yet."

Tom blew a breath. "Well, she's got a way with them, lately. Frisco don't even know me, anymore, but she's been handling him."

Chakotay raised the brow of his hat with his waterglass, turning a look at the young man. But his original comment died before he voiced it. Tom looked right hurt lately, looked it then. The foreman knew how much the young man loved that horse...not to mention his girl. "Frisco'll come around," he said, and offered a reassuring nod when Tom looked his way. Chakotay grinned a little. "And so will B'Elanna. Give 'em all a little time, Tom."

Tom seemed to slump a little, but he finally nodded, trying to grin. "Guess I'm about tuckered out..., and yeah, I guess I'm worryin' too much."

"Does B'Elanna know that?" the foreman asked, pretty much certain she didn't. He leaned back again, pulled his hat back down. "Cause if she don't, I reckon you'd best let her know. Maybe give her a hand 'stead of standing on it."

Before he could get insulted, Tom realized that Chakotay Torres had somehow given Tom his permission. Or is he? Sounds like it. "I reckon you're right," he said, eyeing the man. He poured another glass of water, gulping it down fast, before turning to the back door. Grabbing his hat, he looked back. "Much obliged, Chakotay."

The foreman didn't move. "You heard me, Janeway, git. You're interrupting the only sleep I've gotten today."

Tom grinned and left without another word.

But when he got to the corral, B'Elanna, Kona and Frisco were nowhere in sight. Maybe she did get them down to the river, he thought. He almost turned to go down the hill to search her out--he knew her usual route--but a couple of the ranch hands called out from back yonder. Tom sighed hard, looking one more time down the hill to see if she was still in sight, before turning back to what he knew was just another problem cropped up.

RE: VC: The Perils of B'Elanna, part 3
D'Alaire — 30 Sep 1998, 8:44 PM

Somehow, B'Elanna got Frisco to town. Mounted on Kona, easing her all the while, the mare wound up being easier to handle than the whining stallion. B'Elanna almost lost her temper with him a couple times, when he nearly yanked Kona--and thus her--down once, and started bucking such a frenzy that she had to let him go and get it out of his system.

Nevertheless, she did get them into town, crossing the now emptied fairgrounds slowly but surely. Squinting up to the sun, she knew the usually short trip had taken her a couple hours.

As she neared the mainway, she found to her horror something grossly missing. Jumping down from Kona and tying both horses by the water troth, she raced down to Garak's shop, bursting through the doors and straight to the owner.

"Garak! You seen Madame D'Alaireux's wagon?"

"Of course!" Garak said cheerfully as he sewed on a lapel. "She moved yesterday."

"Where'd she go off to? What direction?"

Garak turned a doleful look to the girl. "Such a fuss for such a love young lady. Why don't you come look around? I have a lovely bon--"

"Please! I don't want a dang bonnet! I want to find that wagon! Garak, it's important."

He sighed dramatically through his smile, crooked his head southward. "She's moved the wagon across Lookout Point, near the creek. Timmy has been here only today--picked up a new suit made from the finest--"

"Thanks," B'Elanna said shortly and spun back around.

She took the horses around on the back path to the point, having enough trouble as it was with them without braving the mainway. And she was sorry she'd had to stop. Frisco seemed not to need much rest to get his energy back. He bucked and brurred the entire way up the hill.

By the time they got to the creek and B'Elanna slid off an increasingly skitterish Kona, her shoulders were right tense enough to touch her ears. She let them drink again, let herself have a break, too, as she looked down at the clear water.

Somehow, an idle grin found her as she stroked the mare by her side. Just up the way a bit, she thought, I rode quite a stallion, all right. She reached up and touched the remainder of the bite on her jaw, healing, but still there. It was one small scar on her face she didn't mind, even if Tom was gone mad as--

"Frisco!" B'Elanna yelled as the stallion bolted off suddenly, jumping the water without a problem and taking off through the woods, disappearing seconds later. "D@mn!" She knew Kona couldn't--wouldn't--catch him in her condition.

Grabbing her mare's reigns, B'Elanna pulled the peevish horse up stream, hoping mightily the wagon was up there. Kona yanked back stubbornly, and B'Elanna growled at her. "Don't you go fussin with me, 'less you ever want to see your mate again!" And with a sharp tug, they were off again. "I swear, this 's been the worst dang fortnight of my life," she muttered as she stomped over the mossy rocks, urging Kona over them with yet another sharp pull.

The going was slow yet furious, but she managed to speed them both as soon as B'Elanna saw the wafting smoke of a campfire, and soon after a clearing--and the wagon. "D'A! That you up there?! D'A!"

Madame D'Alaireux came around the wagon, Maker and grinds in hand. She put both down at the sight of the desperate girl coming up the rise. "B'Elanna."

"You gotta help me! Frisco's done gone off and Kona can't go after him!"

The lady met B'Elanna halfway and helped her soothe the mare to the wagonside. "We'll take Navarre," she told her. "Come. Frisco will not have gone far, I hope." Dropping her weapons to the ground, she ran around to where her Arabian stood at the ready, freeing him with a

RE: VC: The Perils of B'Elanna, part 4
D'Alaire — 30 Sep 1998, 8:49 PM

With a jump and a pull on his neck, the woman had mounted his bare back, and held a hand down to the diminutive horsewoman. B'Elanna grabbed her hand and got on behind her, not a little uncomfortable at first for the lack of a saddle. But a second later, Navarre had jumped the creek effortlessly, and with a kick and a click, he took off in a hard gallop into the woods.

"Keep your head down!" Madame D'Alaireux shouted back to the smaller woman, who held on tight as the Arabian deftly wound his way through the woody terrain.

B'Elanna couldn't help but think that woodlands were the horse's natural running space, he managed them to well--and Madame D'Alaireux wasn't scared at all about riding though them, either, and bareback on top of it. B'Elanna never doubted her horsewoman's skills, but knew this ride was right foreign.

They cleared the woods in little time, and spotting the wild running stallion, Madame D'Alaireux eased Navarre only near enough before letting out a loud, flutish whistle. The stallion stopped, crooked an ear, but turned and bucked again. Licking her lips, Madame D'Alaireux helped B'Elanna down from her steed before sliding off herself.

"Hold Navarre here," she ordered quietly as she moved away, "and say nothing. Allow me."

B'Elanna watched as the strangely dressed woman approached Frisco, who still bucked and shook his head. Then the woman began making sounds, gurgled whistles and brurrs, odd, but animal-like...and it struck B'Elanna--I've heard those sounds before...

The woman then held out her fist, her thumb and pinkie extended as she turned it before the stallion's view. Frisco shook his head, neighing. Oops, she thought. Wrong continent. Trying again, she whistled some more, steadily making her way closer.

Slowly, the stallion calmed, regarding her and the sounds she had not stopped; slowly, Madame D'Alaireux took the loose rope into her fist. A few more steps, and she held the face of the ailing creature in her hands, looking into a sad, dark eye.

B'Elanna watched, almost in shock. Frisco has stopped skittering entirely, and was nuzzling his nose against the lady's neck. She heard the woman whisper, "I know, I know."

In the glint of the afternoon sun, B'Elanna thought she saw tears on the woman's face. But by the time she led a sedated Frisco back to her and Navarre, her face was dry again. With a finger to her lips, Madame D'Alaireux moved aside Navarre, lacing her fingers together to give B'Elanna a leg up to the Arabian. As B'Elanna rode, the lady walked swiftly beside the stallion, leading him with little whistles and kind caresses. They were otherwise silent.

RE: VC: The Perils of B'Elanna, part 5
D'Alaire — 30 Sep 1998, 8:50 PM

Nozawa rattled the bells and yelled out, "Come on in, y'all. Miss Kathryn's got vittles and cool drinks!"

And they did come in, from the field and pasture, ready and willing for a break from it all. From every direction, it seemed, the ranch hands gathered, happy to take some lemonade and biscuits and shade under the tree.

Miss Kathryn circled round them all with the pitcher, stopping occasionally to pat an arm or tell them a kind word. Truly, she was grateful for her hands. She'd have sunk for sure without them. And all the while, she put up her bravest face. She knew she had to--for them. If she faltered, it'd only lead to chaos.

Eventually, Tom and Chakotay had made their way back from the west pasture, dirty and dusty as before and twice as hot. They gladly took their drinks too, tried not to drink too fast.

While he tipped the lemonade into his mouth, Tom's eyes perused the yard, intently searching. Unobtrusively, he stepped around the tree, looked again. Finally he looked back to his mother and Chakotay. "Y'all seen B'Elanna?"

Miss Kathryn shook her head. "Maybe she's still in the corral. You know how she is. She won't take a break so easily."

But Tom was shaking his head even before she finished. "I looked in the corral twice. She might've taken Kona and Frisco down to the river--but she should've been back by now." He saw Chakotay squint a little at that, and Tom knew he was right. He look at his mother again. "Maybe I aughta check and see if she's there. Way Frisco's been acting, I'd be lying if I said he wouldn't bolt."

Kathryn took a breath. Clearly, her boy was troubled, and looking again at the mark his girl had put on his cheek, she knew Tom wouldn't let up until he knew B'Elanna was back. Finally, she gave a nod. "Go," she said simply.

Chakotay eyed the young man as he finished his drink and set it on a nearby table. "Tom," he said suddenly, and thought his decision through a few more times before Tom turned back. "My horse is saddled up. Go ahead and take him....And tell B'Elanna she best get back here 'fore sunset."

Tom smiled. "Much obliged, Chakotay. I will."

As Tom skipped off to the Forman's horse, mounted him and gave him a firm pat, Chakotay gave Miss Kathryn a look. "You think somethin's happened? Maybe I should go with him."

"I need you here," Miss Kathryn replied, a little coolly, then sighed. "She's probably just off wandrin', being as she's had a bee's nest of a corral to deal with. She probably just needed some time alone." She refilled Chakotay's glass without his asking. "I know the feeling," she finished and turned away.

RE: VC: The Perils of B'Elanna, part 6
D'Alaire — 30 Sep 1998, 8:55 PM

B'Elanna cut down some more kindling and threw them on the fire, watching, still amazed, as Madame D'Alaireux smooth the balm over Frisco's shoulder, her long fingers careful not to hurt the beast. For the first time since the fire, Frisco was completely relaxed, docile to the woman's ministrations.

Beside him, Kona grazed, a little nervous still, but a bit calmer after taking some herbs from the fortune teller--not to mention some sugar.

B'Elanna herself couldn't help but relax, too. She almost couldn't recall the last time she had. She could smell the rich scent of the cedar on the fire, hear the crackle of the burning wood. The quiet brurrs of the horses were not unpleasant, either. Taking in another deep breath of air, her eyes drifted to the trickle of the stream not fifteen feet away.

Then she heard a rustling behind her, and turned only to jump a little at the sight that greeted her. "D'A!" she breathed in a loud whisper.

"No, no," the madame said, and gestured the intruders in. "Come, friends. I have Java and grits." She finished applying the balm and wiped her hands, slowly drawing away from the stallion. B'Elanna had gotten to her feet by the time she returned to the campfire. Placing her fingers on the girl's shoulder, she grinned. "Do not be afraid of those who are your own, B'Elanna. It is time."

B'Elanna glanced to the lady, then back to the four people who had entered, all of whom stared hard at her at least once. Their faces were set into what was as near to frowns without being angry, and their strides were confident. Their weapons were like Madame D'Alaireux's, the cloth of their outfits like hers, too. But unlike her, their hair was brown, the dusty ringlets grown out long and flowing freely well past their shoulders. A couple of them had thin, leather-bound braids within those locks. If not noble looking, they were at least...unique. Yet only as they approached, and she got a good look at their faces, did B'Elanna recognize what the woman beside her meant.

"Klingon Indians?" she whispered, "All the way out here?" She looked beside her again. Her eyes darted up to the wrinkles above Madame D'Alaireux's head--Not wrinkles, B'Elanna suddenly realized, but much faded scars. They were different, enough so that she at first hadn't recognized. The ritual markings.

Madame D'Alaireux smiled. "Come, B'Elanna, and take some Java with us. It is time."

B'Elanna was too shocked to say no.


The Indians all sat around the fire watching Madame D'Alaireux prepare the drink as they boasted of their conquests. The stories circled--one of the men told the tale of the skins taken from the Borg Indians after the Picard Massacre, but spoke of his own glory gained with in his people's tumultuous council. Another spoke of the fulfillment of a blood oath in a glorious battle. Another told how he took fifteen Romulan Scalps with his own hands after losing his brother in the disgraceful massacre at Khitomer. The one woman said nothing, but examined B'Elanna with a curious smirk as the others spoke.

"But we defeated them in a sweep," the last man said, smiling through teeth that looked as if they'd been filed into points. "I ripped the scalps from two braves and tied them on my mek'leth, so my enemies would know what awaited them!"

Even Madame D'Alaireux grinned at that, putting the Maker, now prepared, on the fire.

Though a little galled by the detail they went into in describing their glory, B'Elanna did listen intently. These were stories she'd only heard in passing, adventures of her mother's people that she couldn't help but be intrigued by--even if she knew she couldn't live like they did.

"And you, B'Elanna?" asked K'mpec, seemingly the leader of the band, as he ran his callused fingers over the handle of his bat'leth.

RE: VC: The Perils of B'Elanna, part 7
D'Alaire — 30 Sep 1998, 9:00 PM


Mogh grinned at the girl. "Yes, you. What honor have you achieved in your battles?"

B'Elanna's mouth opened, and she looked over at Madame D'Alaireux, who only returned a look that expected an answer. "You need only answer honestly, B'Elanna," the fortune teller said. "They know well you do not live the life of a Klingon Indian."

"Well," B'Elanna said, "that's the truth. I reckon I just do what I have to do to get by, keep things right."

"Do what you do?" the Klingon woman grinned, speaking for the first time. "What does that mean?"

"It means that I've gotten by just fine," B'Elanna returned shortly.

Koloth snorted. "As have your horses?" he asked, challenging her openly. "They looked more suited for carrying children at the fair than--"

"Don't you spite my horses!" B'Elanna snapped. "I almost got myself killed getting them out of that barn! And Miss Kathryn, too!"

K'mpec's brow rose. "Yes?"

"Dang straight!" B'Elanna shot back. "The fires coulda ripped my skin off--you see what they did to Frisco there." Blowing a breath, she shook her head bitterly. "Seska--a Cardassian. They've been after the blood of my people since I can remember. And she's been after my pa since she slithered her way into his life. They've laid waste to everything they've touched."

"They have tried to disgrace you," Mogh pointed out, and spit on the ground. "They seek ruin but no honor!"

B'Elanna gave a terse nod. "She lit the fires that burnt up the Delta Q--and I know she had help. There's no other way it could've spread so far so fast. They lit it all up--for spite. They killed Mama, now they're killing my own again. I should've taken those b@stards out when I had the chance--I should've seen they were up to no good! But nobody knew Seska was one of them until it was too late." She bent her head, growling at the fact the woman had been so close, in her fists' reach, all the while plotting their destruction. "And now she's dead. Oh that I could find out who helped her! I'd..."

She stopped, shaking her head again.

The Klingons all stared at her, a little surprised at the girl's sudden passion, but pleased nonetheless.

"My horses," B'Elanna continued, seething. "My Kona, and Frisco--they're the finest on the ranch, reduced to what you see. Fifteen of my horses--dead for their spite, and three of them just colts! Plus the rest of the damage."

Koloth glared at her. "There is no honor in their deaths."

"There's no honor in the Cardassians," B'Elanna replied.

K'mpec squinted as he steadily regarded the young horsewoman. "Do you not wish to vindicate them?" he asked, meeting her gaze when it turned to him. "Do you not hunger for vengeance--to bring honor to your disgraced dead?"

B'Elanna sighed, more to herself. "I don't live like you do, K'mpec."

"That is not the question," the Klingon woman said. She leaned forward and stared, albeit with a little smile, at B'Elanna. "Have you wished to see them pay for their acts of dishonor? To stand for what is right--as you seem to like to do? It's only a question."

"Do you not wish to shed their blood for the blood they took like cowards in the night?" Mogh asked.

"Do you not want to revenge the attack of your people? The massacre of your innocent ones?" queried Koloth.

B'Elanna had closed her eyes as the questions circled her, feeling her chest grip with the pressure she'd held within for so long, and didn't know what to do with. But they stopped, and her eyes opened. They were all glaring at her, awaiting her answer. In the corner of her eye, Madame D'Alaireux seemed oblivious as she prepared the Java service.

K'mpec was getting impatient. "Do you want to bring honor to your dead, B'Elanna?"

B'Elanna sucked in a breath. "Yes."

RE: VC: The Perils of B'Elanna, part 8
D'Alaire — 30 Sep 1998, 9:08 PM

The Klingons grinned, and for a minute they were silent, all looking at each other with eyes that knew the other's heart. Finally, K'mpec spoke again, straightening as he put his hand down on B'Elanna's.

"We will join you, fight by your side, share the glory of your honor."

"But Seska's dead--died when a beam fell on her in the barn," B'Elanna muttered between her teeth. "If she had any allies, I wouldn't know where to find them."

Mogh grunted. "Your enemy died without honor--leaving you honorless."

"There must be a way to find out if others were responsible," the Klingon female said.

"I wish I could. But I don't know..."

Madame D'Alaireux turned from the fire then with her tray of demitasse cups, full and steaming. "Java, anyone?" she smiled.


She glowered at her mother as she gurgled a whistle, calling two horses to her. "It is time to go."

"But I don't want to be Klingon Indian!"

"You already are," said the woman, looking down to her stubborn child with a scowl. "You bear the marks of my people already! You will accept it and return to the ritual grounds!"

"You've made me into a freak!"

"I have made you into what you cannot avoid being!"

"I won't go through with the ritual again! Never! I won't go, Mama! I won't make it worse than it is already!"

"You would disgrace our house? My family?!"


Madame D'Alaireux watch with keen eyes as B'Elanna's head dropped back, the cup perched precariously in her hands. She said nothing, but waited.

A plain of long grass, flying over...and the caverns west of Valek Gulley...Down, down...A field of horses yonder...

"Ha! I haven't killed them, but I might as well have! Soon, we will watch their destruction! My revenge will be complete!"

B'Elanna grit her teeth, felt her body grow hot with fury. She could almost feel herself reaching out to the traitorous woman's throat...

She deceived us, hid like a coward....first the mask, then lit the fires...And the tracks back to their hideout burned too...

B'Elanna drew a deep breath. Her eyes opened. "The Cardassians," she breathed with a clenched jaw. "There's a tribe on this side of the range--they helped her set the Delta Q up in flames."

The Klingons grinned. "There will be honor done to your dead," K'mpec growled approvingly.

"Dang straight." B'Elanna looked at them, her eyes clear and bright for the first time in a fortnight. "And for Mama, too."

K'mpec let out a growling yell and jumped to his feet. "Then we will waste no time! To battle!"

B'Elanna got to her feet as the others did, but as the warriors went to their horses, tied in the nearby bushes, she realized she had no mount. She swung back around to find the lady's curious grin. "D'A, I know I'm already beholding to you, but could I take Navarre? I swear, I'll treat him as--"

"You will take Frisco," the madame cut in, bracing her friend by the shoulders. B'Elanna shook her head an opened her mouth to protest, but the other woman continued first. "As much as you need honor, I feel he needs it, too. His shoulder is protected by the balm. You must take him, B'Elanna."

B'Elanna glanced to Frisco, who had suddenly perked at the sudden activity. One of his eyes found her own Somehow, just somehow, that horse knew, he was telling her....Taking a breath, the lingering Java stirred B'Elanna's heart, and all her senses, except maybe the common one, told her the fortune teller was right. "Got a saddle?"

RE: VC: The Perils of B'Elanna, part 9
D'Alaire — 30 Sep 1998, 9:11 PM

Within minutes, B'Elanna was mounted on the stallion. She turned to thank Madame D'Alaireux when she saw the glint of steel being offer up to her. "Oh, no thanks," she said. "I prefer my pistol."

Madame D'Alaireux hooked the mek'leth onto B'Elanna's belt anyway. "You will need it," she said assuredly, and gave Frisco's flank a pat. "Go. Go now. Thank me later." She met the young woman's eyes. "Qapla', B'Elanna Torres."

The Klingon woman had just mounted her mare when B'Elanna brought Frisco up to join them. After snorting at the men's usual battle bravado, she gave the younger lady by her a clever grin. "That an awful big bug bite you've got, B'Elanna," she said and winked. "Who's the lucky mosquito?"

B'Elanna scowled at first before she got it, then she smiled. "Tom Janeway, Miss Kathryn's eldest son."

"Ah, youth. Nice when they're willing isn't it? I had to chase my mate around for a while before he bucked off. Of course, then he got all traditional on me. Then I bolted. But I changed my mind again." She laughed at that, strangely gentle.

B'Elanna noticed that, then examined the woman's ritual marks. She'd thought before they weren't all that deep, and was sure of it after getting a better look. "You're not full-blooded Klingon, are you?"

"No. My mother was just a hot tempered redhead out of Federation City. But I've chosen this life...not to mention, my mate sort of wrapped me up in it, too. But that's another story." She eyed B'Elanna again, adjusting her horse's bridle. "A little advice? Don't let 'em hold you too tight, but keep 'em near enough that they don't forget you're there. --And bite them a lot. They'll squirm, but they like it." Before B'Elanna could respond, she added, "I'm actually a little jealous. Worf never bit my cheek....bit everything but that, though."

"Mister Rozhenko?" B'Elanna asked. "You're his mate?" The other woman nodded with an inward grin. "But I thought he was--"

"B'Elanna! K'Ehleyr!" K'mpec barked. "Are you females going to gossip and chatter, or are we going to achieve glory in our battle?"

"We're coming!" B'Elanna called back, then, more hushed, "crabapple."

Koloth's horse jumped up on his hind legs with a loud neigh as he brandished his mek'leth. "It is a good day to die!"

K'Ehleyr rolled her eyes and smirked. "Charm city it ain't," she told B'Elanna, "but it's better than sitting around the fire sewing pelts." Suddenly she kicked up her horse. "Hyah!"

B'Elanna, still grinning at the woman's quip, took off straight after her. Within seconds, Frisco had overtaken them all, galloping at full charge, like a bullet in the cool night air. Feeling the wind in her hair and Tom's fine steed, somehow powerful and vibrant again beneath her, B'Elanna laughed aloud and rapped the reigns. It was a glorious feeling. It was good to feel free again.

RE: VC: The Perils of B'Elanna, part 10
D'Alaire — 30 Sep 1998, 9:23 PM

Tom Janeway was in more than a huff by the time the sun started touching the peaks of Pinnacle Point. B'Elanna was nowhere to be found. He'd searched all the way down to the Big Coffee, only figuring to go back again, skimming the river and finally heading towards town.

She wouldn't have taken them there would she? he kept asking himself as he made good speed up the trail. But he had no other options by then. When he got to town, Tom looked down the mainway, and not seeing either B'Elanna or their horses, he went around the back way to Widow Wildman's.

"No, Mister Janeway," the widow answered him, shielding her small eyes from the setting sun, "I ain't seen anything--though I did hear her hollering and a horse going loco. I don't know where she was off to, and it's right likely she's well gone, anyway. It was a few hours ago, at least."

Tom nodded. "Much obliged, Mrs. Wildman. At least you've heard her. That's more than I've gotten all day."

Twenty minutes later, Tom was tying the Forman's horse to a branch, giving the horse a firm pat as he peered over to the camp. The fortune teller was there, sharing what looked like a little chat with Kona. He couldn't hear the words, but he couldn't help but stand back at first. Kona was looking...normal. She wasn't brurring or shaking at all, and her eyes had cleared up.

Madame D'Alaireux giggled a little and gave the mare a kiss on the bridge of her nose, to which the horse neighed affectionately. Without looking back, the woman paused, taking a breath. "You are welcome to join me, Mister Janeway. Kona and I were only having an understanding about the colt."

Tom grinned a little. "Much obliged, Ma'am." He came in, a little cautiously, still looking for B'Elanna. When he came near, he also noticed Frisco was nowhere in sight, either. "Actually, Mrs. D'Alaireux, I'd be more obliged if you might tell me where B'Elanna's at. She been missing most the day."

"Come and join me by the fire," she said, passing him by and lowering herself to sit--giving him no choice but to join her. "The ropes of your existence stretch outward, Tom Janeway. You and that which is yours must balance on that thin path. This place will soon no longer hold you."

Tom furrowed his brow. "What do you mean?"

Madame D'Alaireux's dark eyes sparkled with the light of the fire, though only ironic mirth had touched her face. "You will have to move on," she said simply. "In order to survive, you will have to walk a thin path, unbalanced and yet strong in intention. The ropes of this existence are unbound, and now are outstretched. You and yours must follow it to the end, Tom. It is your destiny."

Tom nodded, though he hardly understood what the strange woman was talking about. "Yeah, reckon so. Look, I don't mean to be uncivil, but I really do need to find B'Elanna. Her daddy's gonna be sick with worry, as it's gettin dark. It'll be pitch black by the time we..." He stopped when the woman started laughing. "What?"

"B'Elanna is following a path she had avoided, she has been for some time. When Timmy returns from Quark's, I'll send him to the Delta Q to tell them you and she are safe."

"Me?" Tom eyed her suspiciously. "You plan on holding me here, ma'am?"

"You are the only one doing the holding, Tom. You are here for your mate. And you will see her soon. You will take her and Frisco home, soon. But not yet."

Tom suddenly remembered. "Frisco? She's off after Frisco?!"

"Not after," she corrected. "She rides your stallion in glory this night."

"What?!" Tom jumped to his feet. "Where'd they go? Are you wacko? Letting her go off with him all wild like that?"

Madame D'Alaireux didn't move. "Sit, young man."

RE: VC: The Perils of B'Elanna, part 11
D'Alaire — 30 Sep 1998, 9:32 PM

"No way!" he retorted. "Tell me where--"

"As I am the one who knows how to find her, I'd think it'd be wiser if you had a seat and do this my way." She reached forward and unscrewed an hourglass-shaped metal canister. "Come and rest. B'Elanna must free her soul from the ropes that have tied her--as they had tied you. Sit, Tom. When the moon crosses the Pleiades, you shall go."

With another squint her way, Tom did as asked, and as the woman went about her chore. "Funny it was me that convinced B'Elanna to go see the fortune teller. She thought it was a bunch of nonsense."

Madame D'Alaireux grinned. "Sometimes it is," she admitted. She packed the brown powder down in the center of the Maker, screwed the top back on. "But B'Elanna is different."

"How so?"

She sighed, placing the Maker on the fire. "When we came across Qwai-chang, and let him travel with us, I knew he would lead me to her somehow. To confess, I came to Voyager City for B'Elanna."

Tom was intrigued then. "You been traveling a long way?"

"Yes. I left the Klingon reservation at Cha'Kago some time past. I was not born there, and lived many different lives. I was put upon this path, as I was able to see the importance of my being here."

"But why B'Elanna?"

"I felt her presence and a need to answer that," the woman answered. "Now she answers her own soul's callings, and to the souls that call to her."

Tom gave her a long look. The Maker sputtered and steamed, and he put one question aside for another as she served their drinks. "That's Java, huh?"

"It will show you her path. Do not be afraid. You will not find B'Elanna without it."

"But I thought you said you knew where she was."

"I only said I had the means. Now drink, Tom. Drink and see."

With another encouraging smile from the fortune teller, and after she herself took a sip, Tom took the demitasse and tasted........

First light of dawn touched the violet sky as the five warriors rode hard over the plain. Their sound was a near earthquake of hooves and hollers as they descended into the gully of Cardassian enemies. Blades rose and the warriors all came at the ready, riding their horses into the field of battle.

B'Elanna surpassed them all, grabbing her pistol as she rounded the first barrage. She shot--click!--"Cr@p! No bullets!" she snarled, then remembered the saber on her belt. Wielding the strange weapon in her small hand, her eyes shot out to her enemy again and she clicked loudly. Frisco whinnied and jumped to a gallop into the thick of the mass.

Behind and around her, the Klingons' war cries echoed, and B'Elanna added to them, crying out as she swung the blade full circle and into the skull of one of the Cardassians, chucking him off his steed as she whipped past, then she brought the mek'leth to the ready again for another willing corpse.

She spun around, ducking the fall of another under her blade, then hopped Frisco over others killed by her comrades before slicing through the gut of another before his tomahawk was even halfway down. Ducking and reeling Frisco around again, the Cardassian hit the ground with a thud.

Then, in the corner of her eye, she saw another glint, and heard a yell all too familiar--like a lion's growl. B'Elanna spun the steed around and saw her. The fire that died on the Delta Q lit anew in her heart.

"Seska," she growled, then yelled, "You're dead! I saw you die!"

"Ha!" the evil woman across from her spat. "Did you think the likes of you could get rid of me? That I wouldn't haunt you, hide in the deepest recesses of your soul?! I'll have my revenge for eternity!"

"The h*ll you will, you treacherous b*itch!" B'Elanna shouted and thrust her boots into Frisco's sides--"

Tom's eyes flew open and he shot a glare to Madame D'Alaireux, who only grinned and said--"Go."

RE: VC: The Perils of B'Elanna, part 12
D'Alaire — 30 Sep 1998, 9:39 PM

The horse almost bucked him when Tom stopped suddenly over the rise and heard the primal battle yell. His eyes found the field of waste and war, saw the other Klingons there, goring their victims with their half-moon blades one by one with bloody glee, then saw B'Elanna in the thick, riding out of the dust cloud formed in the wake of the circling horses, charging hard through the throng to one who waited, tomahawk raised.

"$#!&!" he breathed and kicked the steed into action, charging his horse down the sandy hill and into the dust cloud.

B'Elanna's sights were pinned on Seska, eyes black and wide with rage, and a furious grin broke across her face. Spinning the grip on the mek'leth, she cracked the reigns with her other hand. The evil woman let out a yell, setting her horse to charge. B'Elanna growled loudly as she whipped the mek'leth around.

The tomahawk flew downwards into the center of her sight and B'Elanna whipped the mek'leth around and struck the metal with her own. Seska's weapon flew away and behind her as they passed. She yanked Frisco's reigns, reeling the stallion around in a jump. Seska had turned, too, glaring at the woman, yanking another knife from her leg holster.

"Hyah!" B'Elanna cried and charged the woman again. Swinging the mek'leth around again, she found her target with a ragged holler--burying the long blade into the woman's chest, splitting a straight line down to her sternum. Seska flew from her horse, as did B'Elanna when her hand failed to let go of the blade. Together they hit the dirt, a dust halo forming around them.

And the gully silenced.

Through the thick dirt cloud, Tom sped through, then yanked back on the reigns once through. He felt a gulp in his throat. Both B'Elanna and Seska had been unsaddled, both sprawled on the ground. The mek'leth lay buried in Seska's chest, the pool of blood sinking quick into the hard ground. B'Elanna's hand was reached out towards it, as if she'd just let it loose.

He jumped off the steed and fell to his knees beside her. Turning her over and brushing down her crumpled leather skirt, his eyes wildly searched her for injury, but he found none. Wondering how she'd fallen from Frisco's saddle, he pulled her up to rest her head on his knees, patting her dirt-stained face.

He heard a shuffling on the dirt before him, and in the remaining dust cloud, he saw the forms of the Klingon Indian Warriors, grinning fiercely at the two.

K'mpec gave the younger man a firm nod. "There will be no Ak'vok today. We were victorious."

Mogh and Koloth both held their heads high. "Her honor, and the honor of her dead and mutilated, was achieved in her heart today," said one. "The path of a warrior is not hers, but could be if she chose it, said the other.

K'Ehleyr's lips turned up with mischief. "Nice dental impression."

B'Elanna drew a deep breath and opened her eyes. She did not jump, though she wondered how she wound up on the ground. Looking up, she saw Tom staring outward in amazement. As she grabbed his hand in hers, she drew her eyes to the dust cloud, saw the faces of her comrades, fading in the golden fog.

"Qapla', B'Elanna Torres," said K'mpec.

Her eyes went wide as the wind washed through the canyon, churning the cloud into little twisters over the beaten earth, sweeping it around and away. The warriors, unmoved, disappeared as the dust did. B'Elanna could only watch them go, feeling her heart beating through her chest at the realization.

"Qapla'," she finally returned.

RE: VC: The Perils of B'Elanna, part 13
D'Alaire — 30 Sep 1998, 9:48 PM

Tom looked down to her, and didn't ask what'd just happened. But as the rising sun began to heat his back, he did open his mouth to ask if she was okay to stand. Before he did, he felt a muzzle push off his hat and he turned to look up at Frisco. Tom laughed. "Well, I guess you are back to your ol' self, aren't you boy?"

B'Elanna grinned, getting up on her knees, and reached out to pat Frisco's nose. "Dang straight we are, and more," she said, turning a grin to Tom. "I fought for them, Tom. I revenged our dead....and Mama."

He looked to where the warriors once were. "I think so," he whispered. "This is awful strange, B'Elanna, all of this. But I saw from the hill when I came here...You were amazing out there. You'd 've done your mama proud."

"I owed her one," B'Elanna said softly. "And her people, too, I s'pose." Sighing, she brushed off her shirt, glanced up to the azure sky. It'd be another hot, dry day. "I reckon we'd better be getting home."

Tom nodded and offered his hand to her. "I reckon so."

Standing, she turned around and gasped when she saw the field all but empty. The dead, the blood, even the ground digs of the skirmish had partially been buried by the dirt cloud, leaving eerie mounds in the dirt, still and unmoving. She spun around, and saw that Seska's corpse was gone. All that remained was... "What the h*ll?" she breathed.

But Tom suddenly understood. "You've answered your soul's callings, B'Elanna. Madame D'Alaireux said you were, and I've heard tales about it. They say that the souls of the dead can come to protect others. You needed to settle things, and looks like they wanted to help." He shrugged. "Heck, there's no other way to explain it."

"No, I think you're right," she whispered, looking at two glints in the dirt. All the remained was the blood-stained mek'leth, and a d'ktag near to where K'Ehleyr had been standing

B'Elanna turned to Tom and touched the bite on his jaw. She smiled up to him, nuzzled her cheek her cheek into his responding touch. But they said nothing, even as she bent to retrieve the knives.


B'Elanna knew he hadn't left yet, and so wasn't surprised to see him brushing down General Martok. But she noted the horse's packs had been prepared, that he'd be leaving soon. All the better, B'Elanna thought, pushing back the leather-bound braid she wore in her hair. She wasn't used to it yet, but had decided to keep it.

The large, dark man was silent, as she often knew him to be in their acquaintance. So she approached with as many words, and let his black eyes meet hers when she neared.

"I believe, sir," she said suddenly, but assuredly, "this is for you. K'Ehleyr wanted you to have it."

Yet she said no more as she placed the knife handle in his hand. She met his eyes, hoping he wouldn't ask, hoping her stare would say enough. The man glanced to the weapon, then back to her, eyes wider but still silent. Finally he gave her a firm, albeit curious, nod.

She nodded back. "Qapla'."

Worf Rozhenko was left to stare after the horsewoman as she turned and walked away to her ride--a fine, white stallion with Tom Janeway perched atop it, waiting for her. When B'Elanna got near, he leaned over and grabbed her arm at the elbow, easily pulling her up onto the steed behind him. As her leg swung over, the distinctive glint of a mek'leth, hanging off her belt, could be seen.

She wrapped her arms around the man, bending up to playfully nip his jaw. Tom Janeway laughed good-naturedly, then rapped the stallion's reigns, setting them off westward, back towards the Delta Q.

When they were gone, Worf gripped the d'ktag in his fist. He had looked for the blade of Jack Duras for a long time. Now his dead mate's vindication was complete.

Madame D'Alaireux, smiling from the hill beyond, turned and resumed her path.