Disclaimer: Star Trek belongs to Paramount/CBS. No copyright infringement is intended.

Alive by Photogirl1890

This story is rated T. It contains violence, threat, depiction of injury and moderate language.

A/N: A big thank you to Alpha Flyer and Delwin, who both provided some much-needed advice on this one. Any mistakes are entirely my own. Feedback is welcome.


"Computer, activate holodeck program Torres two one six."

"The program is active."

"Disengage safety protocols."

"Warning. Disengaging safety protocols presents extreme risk of injury."

"Override."

"Acknowledged. Safety protocols have been disengaged."

Hefting the bat'leth in her hands, B'Elanna admires its balance. It is an elegant, yet brutal weapon – perfect for her needs. She runs the tip of an index finger along the razor sharp blade, welcoming the sting. As she wipes the blood on her sleeve, two Cardassian soldiers emerge from the darkness of the cave before her.

The first is young, but tall and muscular. This one, she will kill for Nelson.

Nelson had also been young, only sixteen when B'Elanna had first met him. But he hadn't been naïve; he'd lost his innocence to the Cardassians. In the Maquis he'd gained a family, though the one he'd lost at Setlik III could never be replaced. B'Elanna had been a part of that new family.

The Cardassian youth creeps toward her, brandishing a machete. With arrogant eyes he looks her up and down and sneers.

It's intimidating, the way he towers over her. But his high centre of gravity is his handicap. B'Elanna is lighter on her feet and dances around him. She cuts and slashes with the bat'leth as he parries.

When she slips on a patch of gravel, the youth presses his attack. His blade makes contact with her shoulder, slicing the skin as she falls onto her back. The heavy bat'leth flies from her grasp.

Overconfident, he raises his weapon and prepares to strike the fatal blow, aiming the tip of the blade at her throat. She unsheathes the d'k tahg from her utility belt in a swift, fluid motion and plunges it into his thigh. The unexpected pain distracts him long enough for her to roll away as he tips forward onto his knees.

Yanking the bloody d'k tahg out of the Cardassian's leg, B'Elanna spins around and plunges her blade down into the back of his neck, just above his armour. The force is sufficient to sever his spinal cord. It's too merciful an end. She doubts that Nelson was killed so clinically.

The second Cardassian is older. He's been observing the proceedings closely, sizing up her fighting abilities. Today, this second Cardassian carries a spear. Hastily, she gathers the bat'leth from the ground.

She tells herself that this one is for Li Paz, the veteran of the Bajoran resistance who'd given up a comfortable life of farming to return to the fray against his old enemy. Li Paz, the master of hand-to-hand combat, who had helped B'Elanna hone her skill with edged weapons.

With the advantage of a long reach, this Cardassian keeps out of range of her bat'leth. But B'Elanna has a kut'luch on her belt, which she draws and flings toward him with practised precision. He ducks just in time and it flies over his head, clanging in the dirt behind him.

Ditching the bat'leth, she takes advantage of his loss of poise to grab the shaft of the spear. They wrestle. He is stronger, but does not match her ferocity. She twists the pole, forcing him to release it, lest he break his wrist.

His wrists should be the least of his worries. She bashes him around the head with the blunt end of the spear, hearing a snap as a facial ridge breaks. Instinctively, he reaches a hand to his face and doesn't see her flick the spear around and thrust the business end into his guts and out the other side.

Li Paz would be proud of her.

The Cardassian falls to his knees with the spear still protruding from his body and looks up at her like a supplicant in prayer (or more fittingly, like a pig on a spit). She watches as he heaves his last breaths, his eyes close and he crumples.

B'Elanna catches her breath, pulls her d'k tahg out of the first body and retrieves the thrown kut'luch, placing the weapons back in her belt. She picks up the bat'leth and waits for the next challenge.

Another two soldiers slink out of the shadows - the hulking brute, and the officer. These two are unarmed. The officer mocks her and makes lewd suggestions.

B'Elanna drops her bat'leth to the floor. She knows the risk she takes with the holodeck safeties off. These holograms are programmed with personality subroutines based on the traits of known Cardassian war criminals. She knows how they treat their prisoners before they kill them. Especially Klingons. Especially women.

But she feeds on the danger, draws strength from it, her senses heightened by the surge of adrenaline coursing through her veins.

The officer stands back, waiting for his subordinate to subdue her for him. B'Elanna miscalculates the brute's speed, and he has her backed up against the dank cave wall before she knows it, her arms pinned.

His tepid, rank breath makes her gag. She stares into his cold, lizard eyes and brings up a knee to smash him in the groin. With a grunt, he backs off enough that she can use her fists to pummel him. They bounce uselessly off his plated chest and she's too short to reach his head. He counters with a right hook, sending her reeling. Stars explode in her vision and she suspects her eardrum may be perforated.

Fortunately, she falls in the direction of the discarded bat'leth, which she grabs and swipes one-handed at her opponent's legs. Clipped by the blade, he stumbles. B'Elanna scrambles to her feet. Now with a two-handed grip, she chops at his neck and decapitates him, managing to avoid most of the blood that jets out from the severed arteries.

The head rolls toward the officer, who is now looking decidedly less lecherous. The body lands in a heap at B'Elanna's feet. She kicks at it in disgust, blinking rapidly in an effort to dispel the dizziness that threatens to overcome her.

That was for Sahreen. Sahreen never complained and would have given his last breath to protect his comrades. According to Sveta's letter, he had done just that.

The Cardassian officer starts to retreat. B'Elanna drops the weighty bat'leth again and follows him with haste. Cornered, he swings a fist at her head. She feels her cheekbone crack in the impact. Another blow grazes her mouth and she tastes the metallic tang of blood. With a ferocity that can only come from her Klingon genes, she hurls herself at the Cardassian, the weight of her whole body knocking him into the cave wall. Despite being winded, he manages to seize her left hand in his larger one and bends her fingers backwards. Screaming in agony and rage, she slams her ridged forehead into his, dazing him.

She deftly hooks her foot behind his knee and he tumbles, hitting his head on a rocky outcrop on the way down. He is knocked out cold. A dark stain spreads down the legs of his uniform. She curses, hesitates for a moment and then crouches, proceeding to pound his motionless face with her good hand until his nose is pulped and her knuckles are raw. His gurgling diminishes then stops altogether.

That was for Meyer, the skilled tracker and tactician, who'd always found them an exit strategy, even when all seemed lost. Meyer, who had hunted and kept them fed when they ran out of stolen ration packs in the fetid jungle, on an unnamed hellhole in the DMZ. Meyer would have died on his feet.

She remembers the other friends she's lost: Atara and Roberto, dead; Sveta, in prison; Hogan and Bendera, killed in the Delta Quadrant. Maybe next time she'll program a full squad of soldiers, rather than just these four.

She sinks to her knees, cradles her shattered fingers with her other, battered hand and glances down to the gaping laceration on her shoulder.

Bruised, bleeding and surrounded by death, she feels alive.

###

Part of her wants to do it all over again.

Another, more insistent part of her wants to curl up in a ball, in a dark and silent room.

Neither of those are viable options - not right now.

"Computer, end program." The rasping voice that utters the command seems to emanate from another's throat.

The bodies and the cave dematerialise. The spatters of the Cardassians' holographic blood disappear from her clothes and skin. The smells of shit and sweat are gone.

She gathers herself and grabs the duffle bag that she's brought to the holodeck. Last time, she used a site-to-site transport to get to her quarters without being seen in the corridor, covered in her own blood. It's a perk of the job that the chief engineer can access the transporter logs and cover her tracks, but she can't risk it too often.

With her better hand, she pulls the dermal regenerator out of the bag. The open wound on her shoulder is the priority; it needs closing up before she loses too much blood. Next, she treats her fingers with the osteogenic stimulator. There's no time for a full treatment cycle – she can finish the job later. The main thing is that she can use the hand and the visible bruising is removed. She waves the devices over her other, more superficial injuries, to remove the swelling from her knuckle-kissed lips and knit the cracked cheekbone. Finally, she presses a hypospray of terakine to her neck. The cleansing pain is an unaffordable distraction when there are duties to perform.

She peels off her sodden clothes and stuffs them into her bag with the medical tools. Pouring some water from her canteen onto a towel, she cleans herself up as best she can, then puts on a fresh uniform. She could really use a shower, but she's already pushing it to get to her shift on time.

Taking the last piece of essential kit from her bag, she wonders if this time she's gone too far. But the face that stares back at her in the handheld mirror is presentable, the analgesia kicks in, and she's numb again.

###

Carey doesn't comment on her tardiness as she breezes into engineering. He hands over charge of the department and her shift begins. She spies Jor and Tabor on the upper level in jovial conversation, Jor's hand on the small of Tabor's back. A memory intrudes. The Maquis raider Val Jean preparing to leave Marva IV on what would be its final mission. Jor kissing Nelson goodbye and promising she'd see him soon; Tabor loitering off to one side.

Dalby and Jarvin stand by the warp core, debating the read-out on a console display, the same way they reviewed Meyer's tactical schematics in that underground bunker on Veloz Prime. Dalby, itching for a fight; Jarvin, cool and collected.

A warning alarm bleeps on a nearby workstation. B'Elanna thinks on the past no further.

"Vorik! Hand me that hyperspanner."

Another tool, fit for purpose. There is work to be done.