Last Hope
By Biku

Ja'an A'lh'a'zar decided to drown her sorrows in a glass of Talaxian ale. She paid the barkeep (no tip) and concentrated on forgetting. She had a lot to forget, and the sooner the better.

Suddenly she heard laughing, clear from the other side of the bar. She looked over, about to yell for quiet.

The group was a bunch of young, what were they called, humans? laughing and joking over their ale. They looked so happy, so carefree. Then Ja'an recognised this particular group. They were from the starship Voyager, which was supposedly from the other side of the galaxy. They were so far from home...just like Ja'an herself.

Maybe I can go to their home with them. I don't have a home. But they do. And they don't know enough about my people to not let me, she thought, her hope rising.

She decided that she would ask them. Why would they refuse her? A poor refugee...they were always helping people like that, from the stories they told. She picked out one of the group, a light-haired...male? that seemed to be enjoying himself. She stood up, brushed off her non-descript uniform. She would much rather have worn the emblem of her people, but it would be too provocative. She sauntered over, trying to look helpless and at their mercy. It was hard: her people had never been good at 'helpless'.

"Excuse me," she said to the light-haired one. He ignored her, too busy talking to his crew mates. "Excuse me," she repeated. He still ignored her, wrapped in his conversation. She tapped his shoulder, feeling her anger grow.

The human whirled around. "What?" he demanded, obviously irritated at being disturbed.

"I had just heard some stories about your--" Ja'an started.

"Is this woman bothering you?" came a gruff voice behind her. Ja'an whirled. It was the bouncer she had seen earlier. He was built like a brick wall, and probably had the intelligence to go with it.

"Actually," said the light-haired one, "She is."

"Then allow me to take care of her," said the bouncer. The human nodded, and went back to his fun and games. The bouncer did his job, and Ja'an found herself outside and in the rain.

She was furious. Furious and plotting. He obviously likes the company of his friends, she thought. So that's where I'll get him. I'll make sure this is the last time he has any fun with them.

Paris, Kes and Kim laughed the whole way from the bar to the port. Paris couldn't remember the last time shoreleave had been this relaxing.

Suddenly two thugs walked out of the alleyway. "Stop," he/she/it stated. Since it was big enough to stoop in a shuttlecraft, the trio complied. Paris and Kim checked for phasers, and then remembered they didn't have any.

Ja'an stepped out of the shadows. " So," she said with a smile, "I see we meet again. But now, it seems, I have your attention."

Paris tried to place the face. Then he recalled the woman who had bothered him in the bar.

"Is this some kind of revenge?" he said slowly.

"Yes. Actually, my species is well-known for revenge. That's why I have no home here, and that's why you were my last hope. My last hope--" her voice trailed off. "I have no hope. I am alone, and unloved. I want you to feel the same way."

"Hold on," Paris started to say, but the hired goons pulled out very obvious weapons.

"One of your friends will die," Ja'an announced, "And you get to chose who. Oh, and if you refuse to choose, both will die."

Paris was stricken. Choose between his friends? How could he do it?

On one hand, there was Harry Kim. His best friend. Loyal. Always there.....

Then there was Kes. Also loyal, also a good friend, also the love of his life.....

Kim was Ops...Kes was the only living doctor...who was more important?


"I choose Harry," he said, his eyes closed, praying to every deity that he knew of that Harry would understand....

The gun fired.

Suddenly phaser fire rang out. The two thugs were dropped immediately, Ja'an soon after. Harry lay on the ground, pale, even as Tuvok ran up. Kes did an examination of Harry.

"He'll be okay." she said. "Apparently they thought the thighs were vital to human physiology."

"Harry," Paris whispered. "You know why--"

"Yeah," Harry mumbled. He avoided Paris's eyes. "Yeah." he turned his head. Paris closed his eyes.

"I won," mumbled Ja'an. The shot had been set to stun by Human standards, kill by her peoples'. "No matter what, I have had my revenge."

And she closed her eyes, and went home.

The End