DISCLAIMER: The story, and characters and anything and everything else concerning Star Trek belong to Paramount etc, they are so not mine and no money is being made from this and no copyright infringement is intended, absolutely none what so ever. This is just a fanfiction using the characters that were created by some wonderfully imaginative people, brought to life by some wonderfully talented actors purely for entertainment. Oh yeah another note this story depicts a relationship of a loving and sexual nature between two consenting adult women.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

A Mile
By Elizabeth Carter

Part Eleven

Captain Kathryn Janeway sat at her chair in her ready room studying the data PADD in her hand, lifting her steel-blue eyes once as she watched Amanda Rothery standing before her in parade rest, not moving. The only way Janeway even knew the officer was alive was by the slow, steady rising and falling of her chest.

Finally she set the PADD down on her desk and gave her full attention to the 2IC of Security. "You want to tell me what happened on the Wysanti ship?"

"You have my report, Captain." The doe brown eyes looked above Janeway, never looking at theat the captain directly.

"Umhum." The redhead took in a breath. "You want to try again?"

"It's in the report, Captain." Rothery repeated.

"This could cause serious problems," the CO admonished.

"I saw what I saw, Captain, and reported my findings," Rothery said. The young woman knew her Captain was having a hard time with what she had reported, and the security officer couldn't blame the woman behind the desk. After all, it was against everything the Captain knew about the woman in question.

"You violated protocol," Tuvok said from behind his second-in-command.

"There wasn't enough time to enact proper protocol, sir."

"Lieutenant," Tuvok reminded his junior officer, "the proper protocol when dealing with a hostage situation is to stun both captive and aggressor, and then separate them."

"Yes, sir. But as I said, I did not have enough time to act." She felt the need to defend herself before her CO.

"But you said Seven of Nine was ambushed. If you didn't have enough time, how did you know that she was ambushed?" The Captain countered. "Were you frightened? Did you hesitate?"

"I did not hesitate Captain, nor was I a coward. There was simply not enough time to act within protocols. Besides, Seven's reactions are faster then mine, despite her compromised health. From the angle of the bodies I quickly ascertained Seven was ambushed. I grew up on New Hope, Captain, and I know what an ambush looks like. Seven neutralized the threat to her before I could get there to fully assist." Rothery hoped that her explanation would satisfy her superiors.

Chakotay had indicated that the Hirogen hunters had their hearts ripped out of them. The Captain knew that Seven's actions were probably self-defense, but the brutality of the neutralization indicated retribution. Knowing that the Hirogen had killed Rebi and Azan, Kathryn couldn't blame the young woman. Hell, Janeway herself had been willing to hunt down a live drone to take its cortical node to heal Seven. Had she pursued that course of action it would have been homicide.

"If that is your official report, then you're dismissed." Captain Janeway said.

"Yes, Ma'am." Rothery tilted her blonde head, turned a full 180', and with perfect military precision left the Ready Room.

When she had gone the Vulcan Tactical Officer turned to his long time friend. "Captain?"

"You heard the report," Janeway stated. "Seven was merely protecting herself." Both officers knew that perhaps that was not fully the case. Fortunately no one on the away mission had reported anything that would indicate otherwise. No one on Voyager had committed sociopathic, multiplehomicide.

Tuvok glanced to his Captain once more. There were times even when a Vulcan could not read the thoughts of a long time friend and captain. This was one of those moments. Knowing Janeway as long as he had this came as quite a shock to the man.

Kathryn stood and straightened her tunic before she spoke. "There is another issue." The captain was ready to change the subject. "Admiral Paris has requested holographic visitation rites to see his son. Lieutenant Barkley has been able to transmit the data as we had with the Doctor. We will receive the program within three hours. Since Seven is out of commission and this is sensitive data, I will be handling it myself. But I want you there when the information is downloaded into the matrix of Mr. Paris' holographic incarceration."

"Of course Captain." The dark head tilted.

"Become my Benel, Annika Hansen. Marry me." The words echoed deeply within Seven's mind, penetrating her heart with disbelief and denial and yet awe, wonder and overwhelming, uncertain joy.

The ex-Borg said nothing; she stared blankly at the smaller woman who was still clutching her arms. A month ago this fierce woman was not the woman who was holding her now. Her breath burned in the blonde's lungs. Surely B'Elanna could hear the thudding of Seven's heart. Seven was positive it would beat hard enough against her ribcage that it would burst from her chest, reinforced bones or not.

B'Elanna could almost read the disbelief in Seven's blue eyes. Not that she could blame the woman. A month ago they were at each other's throats. Literally. But B'Elanna had to be truthful with herself. In fact, she was drawn to Seven, had been attracted to her for a long time. The Klingon in her knew this, and started the chase, the pursuit wanting to take Seven and claim her. It was the human side that railed. That threw up protests. What would people think if she started dating the drone? The tall blonde was a Borg and Borg were evil; they were heartless, cold and mindless. The human-side warned her, "watch the others, see how they hated the drone? And they would hate you even more, mongrel child, if they saw you become not only a friend to that drone but her lover." The Klingon and human within battled, and despite the fallacy of human nature to hate what was not understood, B'Elanna started the courtship ritual.

Seven in her own way bumbled into the traditional courtship dance and started fighting back, showing the Klingon just how suitable a mate she was. Strong, fierce, intelligent, and, yes, beautiful. The Klingon thrilled when she was bitten on the cheek. The human was disgusted. The Klingon wanted more, the human backed off pouting. When Seven was dying, the Klingon wanted to protect the one who was already seen as her mate. The Human said, "be compassionate."

The inner dance, the inner battle raged for months. Then the human saw a six year old frightened child being captured, fighting for her life, screaming out to her parents who seemed to have deaf ears. She saw a babe griped by the Queen and assimilated. A child who had no hope of escaping, a child torn from all she knew. Her humanity raped from her. The end result was a drone with no will of her own. A drone like a computer program ordered to act and do the bidding of the Queen, a drone with no will or conscience. The human roared at this injustice and saw what the Klingon had already seen, a woman she wanted to love and be loved by. The human realized she wanted to make a life with this other. Seven had suffered as B'Elanna had as a child; Seven knew ridicule and fear just as the Klingon had. While B'Elanna was accepted now, others still scorned Seven for things that were beyond her control.

Do you loath a person born blind? It was not logical to loathe a being who exhibits more melanin in their epidermis then another or the lack there of. Why hate a soul because her mother was of one race and her father another? Why try and destroy that which is different? These are things beyond a soul's ability to control and yet they are blamed for it. This was the truth that caused the human to stop and collapse under the weight of the futile battle and give in to a more powerful element than hate. The human surrendered to her heart, acknowledging a love deeper then she thought she would ever feel. And she started to grow a bond with Seven that went beyond friendship or love.

B'Elanna placed her hands on either side of Seven's alabaster face, noting that it was growing paler by the moment. "BangwI, please don't answer right now. You have suffered so much in this past month more then anyone's share in a lifetime. And you have far too much stress right now to even think of a yes…. Or a no." The Klingon's love for the former Borg drove her to protect the shapely woman. "But let me share your burden with you. My shoulders are strong Annika; let me help you with this pain. Let me carry it now," pleaded the engineer.

With the pad of her right thumb B'Elanna wiped her beloved's eye. Oddly the hybrid commented to herself that Seven's left eye was like a full Klingon's. It had no tear ducts. The only reason B'Elanna could cry, unlike purebred Klingons, was that she had tear ducts. Why that bit of information popped into B'Elanna's head at that moment she couldn't tell. Perhaps it was the brain's failsafe, when something is emotionally overwhelming the gray matter kicks in and redirects one's thoughts to something distracting, if only for a moment.

Gingerly, the older woman reached up and tenderly kissed her beloved upon her lips. It caused Seven to tremble. Not with passion, but as a response to the profoundness of the love she felt radiating from her BangwI.

"B'Elanna." Seven whispered the name. The blonde dropped her eyes, unable to look at this woman who had so enthralled her. "I am uncertain on how to progress from here," she admitted.

"Hey, It's okay. You have a lot on your plate," replied her love.

When the young engineer saw the ocular implant go up she knew Seven had missed the metaphor. Having lived in Seven's body and knowing her little secret, about knowing a few idioms but yet not others, almost made the Klingon chuckle. "I mean you have a lot to deal with." She placed a hand upon the very ample bosom, feeling the warmth of skin beneath the scrubs Seven was wearing. She also felt the thudding heart beating madly beneath her touch. "And there is no way I am going to let you go through this alone."

Seven met blue eyes to brown and for once in her life she knew the completeness of self, of what it was to be human. And it had taken a hybrid Klingon to show her the way. "I do not think I could survive this alone," she admitted shyly.

B'Elanna winced when she noticed that Seven was retreating back into her more formal speech, losing the easy and relaxing communication she had so recently adopted. Behind the Borg shield, Seven thought herself protected, safe and secure. She could not have been more wrong. Of all the life forms aboard Voyager, B'Elanna was the only one to know what it was to hide behind the shields of the fiercer self. Borg coldness or volatile Klingon; it was exactly the same.

"You don't have to," B'Elanna reiterated. She knew she would have to pull a lot of reserve energy to prevent Seven from slipping back into her familiar protective shell. The shield Seven hid behind was as real as the tangible armor she had worn almost twelve hours ago. The strange thing was, the feeling of Seven's Borg shielding would have once irritated B'Elanna, where now it shouted out *Red Alert*. Of course none would have thought it, but the Klingon respected the cold reserve of the ex-drone because she seemed impervious to the world and strong when she was frightened. The human part had been jealous over that, while the Klingon respected the reserve. It was a very confusing process and when at war with yourself you often lash out at what is causing that battle to take place.

B'Elanna was sick of that war, sick of feeling that she wanted to hate everything because it was expected of her. It was a game she had no desire to play. There was a deeper and more dire battle to wage. The engineer needed to save Seven from losing her grip on everything around her. When a parent loses a child, reality ceases to make logical sense, and everything spirals out of order. For a soul like Seven it was more then terrifying, it was paralyzing. Chaos was not something Seven dealt very well with. Her inner self, the being still manipulated by Borg-nature demanded she make order out of it all. And when the human failed to bring order to chaos the Borg asserted herself.

Seven looked down once more and then cast a glance at the little girl still sleeping on the bio-bed. The tall woman moved just enough to touch the darkening locks of blonde hair with her mesh-encased hand. She would be almost a brunette when she was older, Seven mused. What happened to Mizoti on that ship, the blood the death, the destruction, became a trigger for Seven, pulling out something she struggled to regress for so long. But now it overwhelmed her.

"Species 5618…human…" Seven murmured.

B'Elanna wasn't even sure her lover knew that she was still in the room.. But from her experiences with deep trauma it was best to allow the person to speak, even if what they say doesn't follow a logic that can be comprehended. It was simply a part of the healing process, a 'get it off your chest' sort of thing.

" Exobiologists Magnus and Erin Hansen were the first humans to study the Borg on an interactive level. They were the first humans to be assimilated, despite the paradox. A decade prior to U.S.S. Enterprise-D's first encounter with the Borg, the Federation had some knowledge of the existence of the Borg, based on encounters with species that had been assimilated.

"That knowledge was not made public among the Federation because it was not seen as valuable at the time. The cube-shaped vessels had been seen, but there was no information of what the cybernetically enhances "species" looked like nor any knowledge about their culture. Thus the Federation council sanctioned the Hansens' petition to investigate the Borg on a nonintrusive exobiology expedition on Stardate 32611, regardless of Starfleet's concern. There were several security issues that arose concerning top-secret files in section 31. The Hansens left DS4 and directed their course toward the Delta Quadrant."

B'Elanna listened. It floored her that the Hansens were the first humans to be assimilated. She studied Seven with a new awe. At the age of six this woman had been one of three to be assimilated. The young Klingon knew her lover's parents had disobeyed a direct order to return and had thus served their child upon a silver platter to the Queen.

"Eight months after the expedition started, there were orders to return. The Hansens were unconventional and disregarded Starfleet Command's direct orders. They had, in that course of action, severed all alliances with their colleagues. They crossed the Neutral Zone in their pursuit of science. The first time they were scanned by a cube they were seen neither as a possibility for assimilation nor a threat and were thus ignored. The Hansens took this opportunity to start their own studies.

"The Hansens tracked the Borg Cube through the relatively nearby region of space for three months. So intent on knowing all there was to know about the Borg, the Hansens were foolish when they entered a transwarp conduit and found themselves in the Delta Quadrant, the native territory of the Borg. The Hansens designed a variety of new technologies to allow themselves to study the Borg up close without being detected. They developed multi-adaptive shielding to make the USS Raven virtually invisible to Borg sensors, and bio-dampeners to camouflage themselves when they beamed aboard a Borg ship."

B'Elanna recalled encountering that last bit of technology when the Voyager crew had gone to "liberate" a transwarp drive. The bio-dampeners created a field around the body that simulated the physiometric conditions within the vessel. She thought it rather ingenious. In fact, the Hansens had been able to collect 10 million teraquads of data using this method. There were approximately 9,000 log entries made by the Hansens that Voyager now had.

"Two years had passed in this fashion. They were always so busy. Their daughter was more like a pet then a child to them. I was four when we left DS4. I had just turned six years old when everything changed. A subspace particle storm damaged the Raven and caused its multi-adaptive shielding to go off-line for 13.2 seconds, long enough for the Borg to perceive the vessel as a threat.

"What the Hansens didn't realize was that the Queen was already well aware of the Raven, their research, and their child. All attempts to hide would fail. The warp-trail wasn't effectively hidden in the nebula, and because the Queen had decided to "tag" her own object of study, they could not escape. So when the Raven entered B'omar space and crash-landed on an M-Class moon orbiting the fifth planet of a yellow dwarf the Queen laid claim to her "catch." She had designed it all: the failed systems aboard the Raven, the chase through the nebula, the crash landing on the moon."

B'Elanna wrapped her powerful arms around the too-thin waist of the woman she loved and laid her cheek against the long back. She recalled the memory. Annika was trying to get her parents to stay with her. But Erin had forgotten her only child's sixth birthday. A father could forget, but not a mother. The memory was vilely painful. Then the visit from the Queen, and her threats. The young Klingon recalled it all when she was taken by Seven's virtual memory. B'Elanna shuddered from the recollection. She wanted to tear the Hansens apart because they pushed their daughter aside, because they thought her being difficult and problematic. The girl had been trying so hard to tell her parents of the danger, of the Queen and her threats. But they thought the child was fantasizing and making things up.

"I was four when I was taken from everything I knew to be safe. You know I even had a childhood friend on DS4. I cannot recall her name but she was a Klingon. She was only there for a little while herself, but she was my only friend. And I was forced to leave her. Her mother made me feel what it was to have mother. I was six when my world was torn apart once more and the mother I did know was ripped from me by an unloving being that wanted me. All that I knew to be safe was gone. Eighteen years latter I was again ripped from what I knew to be safe and protected, from that strange maternal hold the Queen had on me, from a being that thought she knew what was best for me. And she severed me from all I knew.

"Now almost two years latter, my world changes again. What is supposed to be safe and protected is not." The meshed hand had feathered back the locks of hair on the sleeping child. "This time I am the mother, and like my own, I have failed."

"No!" B'Elanna snarled.

This sharp growl caught the attention of the Doctor who was in his office going over the medical logs of Mizoti and Seven. He came barging into the main section of sickbay, ready to reprimand B'Elanna for upsetting his patients. But he stopped when he saw B'Elanna forcefully turn Seven of Nine around and hold her tightly in an embrace. Upon seeing B'Elanna take Seven into her arms in an extremely intimate fashion, the photonic physician retreated back to his office. He was beginning to realize that it was the bond between them that was holding Seven together. With no counselor aboard there was no one that Seven could turn to. Not the Captain, not Chakotay, not Samantha Wildman and not even himself. There was only B'Elanna.

The doctor remembered the time before their love was declared; Seven had retreated to Engineering when she was dying. She had turned to B'Elanna and poured out her heart. There was only B'Elanna. And even then the volcanic engineer had protected the tall blonde. She charged to the front and defended her, helped her and covered for her. And there was only B'Elanna who was trusted unconditionally. And it was the same now, and so it was that the Doctor would leave the two alone in this moment.

"No Annika. You didn't put those kids in danger. They were taken from you. They should have been here safe with you, but you followed orders and you allowed them to go because… because you loved them. Think about it BangwI, right now Mizoti is here and she can't be taken away from you like that again. I'll even go to Chakotay to make sure those documents are drawn up," B'Elanna whispered as she trailed her own hand across the brow of her beloved. "And I'll make damn sure no one will ever take her or Icheb from you."

Something flickered in Seven's electric blue eyes. "Be their god-mother. I trust only you." With confidence she continued, "If I am deactivated, I do not doubt the Captain would once again dismiss them and send both Mizoti and Icheb away in 'light of their best interest.' But if you were to be their second-guardian, the Captain would have no dominion over them and I would know they would be well cared for." Looking directly into the engineer's eyes, the ex-Borg stated, "Even if we are not now lovers, I would ask you to do this because I trust you. I have always trusted you, B'Elanna Toress."

The words had an impact on the hybrid that she had never expected. She didn't even think about it before she gave her answer. "Of course I will, Annika." She reached up and kissed Seven not upon her lips but upon her brow. A part of B'Elanna screamed at herself that Seven has seemingly lost faith in the Captain. Janeway had a hold on Seven that was more than a little curious and more than difficult to describe.

But if the hybrid thought about it, for eighteen years the Queen had decided to mold Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix 01into her own image, into what the Queen wanted, so that the human drone would become perfection. The child, now an adult, would be the perfect embodiment of what it was to be Borg. Seven would be a perfect host for the Queen to dominate and blend with if and when it was necessary.

Janeway had decided to mold Annika Hansen, former Borg drone into *her* own image, into what the captain wanted so the former Borg would become perfection. The Borg, now liberated, would be the embodiment of the Captain's own achievement in restoring Seven to her humanity. Annika, newly restored to humanity, would be the perfect mate if and when Janeway decided to make a claim.

Both women had lost. They had lost to a third woman, one who had decided to challenge Seven/ Annika on every level. Who never cut her any slack just because she was the golden-child of Voyager. They lost her because they wanted Seven to be what they perceived to be perfection. They lost her because they forgot a little thing like freedom. They lost her because B'Elanna had dared Seven to feel free. They lost her simply because Seven/Annika's heart and devotion had never been theirs to take. The former Borg's heart and devotion were given to another, someone who never thought it possible to receive such a treasured gift.

"Annika, BangwI, just know that I love you. And right now it's okay for you to let your guard down. Let me be the strong one in this. I told you before I am strong, so you let go and let me hold you up."

A golden head only nodded.

A gentle mewling sound wafted from the biobed. It caught the immediate attention of mother, godmother and doctor. Seven was at Mizoti's side instantly, her hand reaching out to stroke her daughter's cheek.

"Mizoti, you area aboard Voyager, in sickbay. You are safe," Seven said in the warmest tone B'Elanna had ever heard her lover use.

The girl's black and blue eyes flittered open. "Seven? Seven of Nine!" It was not a shout, for the child's voice was scratchy and barely above the decibel of a whisper but it was filled with incredulity. "I…." Cough "knew you would come. I. . ..I told them you would come." Mizoti flashed a small smile of relief.

Seven adapted to her role as mother quickly. She acted in a behavioral pattern she had seen SamanthaWildman act with her own subunit. She leaned down and kissed Mizoti's forehead. " I am here. You are safe now." She used the back of her mesh- encased hand to brush lightly against the soft skin of her daughter's cheek and with the slightest smirk that a mother gives her daughter, "You will heal now. Comply."

That same smile, ever so slight, flashed across the little girl's cherub face. "Yes, Seven." Her tiny hand reached up and took Seven's and held it tightly within her own and pressed it against her chest. "Stay?" she asked, her green eyes looking deeply into her hero's.

"I will not leave," the mother reassured her daughter. "Not even a direct order from the Captain will move me from your side, Mizoti."

This seemed to satisfy the child's dire insecurities. For the smile that was before ghostly in appearance was now more apparent. B'Elanna watched silently and wondered whether someone who had not known the truth, would ever doubt that this woman was truly Mizoti's mother?

"I just knew you would come." The girl repeated herself. "I just knew it. All I had to do was call to you; Seven, and you would come for us. The boys did not think you would come for us because we were so far away. But I knew. I knew you'd come for us. "

"Of course I would." Seven murmured once more assimilating the tone of voice Samantha Wildman used with Naomi. With her free hand she feathered the locks of hair back, and placed a second kiss upon the brow. "I love you."

The fight started. It hadn't taken long. As soon as B'Elanna saw the Hunters she pounced. The Hirogen ship was a mangled wreck, and Janeway had ordered a salvage operation. B'Elanna was the first to volunteer to gut their engineering section. Then she saw the survivors of the battle. The young, passionate Klingon didn't care how they had managed to survive, she just knew they had. Too bad for them.

Upon seeing them B'Elanna hadn't pretended she didn't see them. In fact she was glad she had. She tapped her combadge. "I see them. Initiate Toress protocol Theta-one."

Two of the hunters approached the lone figure, signaling to yet another two behind her. As she turned a Bat'lath appeared in her hands. "Can always count on the Maquis." B'Elanna sneered at her prey; thanking Kah'less she had had the foresight to prearrange for her former rebel friends to beam her sword to her.

"My mother always told me a Klingon does not postpone a matter of honor." She swirled the blade equally in her arms.

"A Klingon of Voyager," hissed the hunter before her. " A worthy prey."

The distraction didn't work.


Before he knew what hit him the Hunter behind B'Elanna went down. She had nailed him with a left arched swing of her sword that connected with his right cheek. He staggered. Shaking his head he went down on one knee. An exposed gel-pack burst open as he landed on it and its liquid soaked into his britches.

Then WHAM!

B'Elanna's knee came up and caught him in the nose. It was like someone exploded a hand grenade in his face. It was all stars and birds, swirling around in his head. She didn't know how he was going to breathe out of the thing. It looked like hamburger, but she really didn't care. Breathing wasn't going to be a primary concern of his. Finding his head would be.

B'Elanna swept her sword upward and sliced the second attacker in two as if he was a sapling. The quicksilver blade moved past the third. He was about to laugh at the puny female's use of a sword that was obviously too much for her to handle when something moved in his stomach. He was more than surprised to find his entrails laying by his boots before he fell.

The Hirogen on her left rushed her so quickly the Bat'lath was flung from her arms. The Klingon recovered just as quickly. The Hirogen's dagger was held high, but B'Elanna caught the dagger's blade in her bare hand. Red-violet blood dripped from the Klingon' s hand to the metal grating of the Hirogen engine room as she yanked the weapon free from the hunter's grasp at the same time head-butting him. He tripped over his headless brother, allowing the advantage to be fully given to B'Elanna. She flipped the dagger in her hand so the blade was parallel with her arm. The next instant she had backhanded the Hirogen across his face. A moment latter a black ribbon of blood oozed freely from his throat.

The dagger was spun around like a toy in B'Elanna's hand. This time she raised the blade high, and slammed the dagger into the shoulder of the Hirogen, pinning him to the bulkhead, the hilt buried deep into bone.

'Warning! Allotted hours near expiration.' The Computer's monotone female voice chirped out.

"Computer end program. Do not save," B'Elanna ordered as she leaned down over her knees catching her breath. For three hours she had been running the simulation, trying to work out the frustration and feeling of helplessness brought on by the death of the boys.

Flexing her wounded hand B'Elanna gathered her Bat'lath and her self-composure and left the holodeck. After a quick detour to her quarters to change and repair the wound in her hand, she was off to find her love.

Icheb stood in the hub of Astrometrics, his jaw defiantly set. He was beyond frustrated. All scans for the Hirogen ship had come up zero. They were not in the area. The boy knew fear and despair when Seven had been dying. He was so desperate to save the woman he loved, the woman that was his mother in every sense of the word, that he caused his own cordial node to reject him.

He had known loneliness when the other children had left him, and he had known anger because he believed they had abandoned him and, more importantly, Seven. Now he knew despair and loathing. Despair because his brothers had been murdered. Loathing because he wanted vengeance. He wanted the blood of the Hirogen. If he could only find them he could make them pay.

He had gone to sickbay and seen his mother standing near Mizoti's bed. He had watched her shed tears and seen that Seven was losing herself in the despair of all she had lost. He was gratified to see B'Elanna there at his mother's side every free moment she had. B'Elanna was the strength Seven needed in this dark moment.

Icheb wanted to make it better, wanted to make it right. He wanted to be a proud warrior like B'Elanna and claim the right of vengeance for his family. But the only thing he could contribute was to watch over Mizoti.

Icheb frowned when he discovered a blip on the telemetry scans. There was an odd signature of a ship on the long-range sensors. Its markings resembled that of species 9342 non-humanoid. They were indigenous to the Delta quadrant and had eluded the Borg for the most part. He had also picked up a sensor ghost with a Borg signature. Perhaps the Collective was pursing the alien ship in attempts to assimilate the elusive prey.

He decided to record the scans and report his findings to the captain when he had more concrete evidence. However, the scans of the Borg Sphere would be sent up to Tactical. His knowledge of the Collective would indicate that Voyager was not going to be marked for Assimilation since species 9342 was a higher priority.

It wasn't until two days after the Wysanti massacre that Mizoti was more responsive than a few words. She had been released to Seven's care as the child needed to regenerate. The best place for that, the young woman argued, was not sickbay, but Seven's own quarters. The ex-Borg had been ordered to work only half days. Had Mizoti not been in need of her, Seven would have disregarded the orders and worked her typical 18 hours.

The stress had taken its toll on Seven, so much so that B'Elanna was growing more and more worried. By the third day the young Klingon decided to intervene. She had checked the sensor logs and discovered that her love had not eaten since Mizoti was rescued. That made the young woman wonder if Seven had even slept. She knew the ex-drone could go seventy-two hours without regeneration. Of course if she slept and ate Seven need only regenerate six hours a week. Time to take matters into her own hands.

"I do not require nutritional supplements at this time." Seven snapped irritably.

"Well good, because I am not going to feed you that goo. Now sit down," B'Elanna ordered as she directed Seven to a chair at what was fast becoming their table in the mess hall.

"Mizoti needs me."

"Itch is with his little sister," B'Elanna countered.

From a corner Kathryn and Amanda were watching the entire scene. "Looks like some fireworks are being playing out," Amanda smirked as she bit into her steak.

Janeway flashed her dinner companion a warning look, but the blonde across from her only smiled wider and chuckled.

Seven stood ramrod straight, hands clasped behind her back. "I am leaving."

"No!" B'Elanna growled. "You are sitting that cute ass of yours down in that seat and you are going to eat. And you will comply, Blondie."

Seven gritted her teeth.

"Don't you take that tone of look with me. Sit down," the Klingon snarled.

"I will not comply," the tall blonde replied.

"Oh yes you will." B'Elanna balled her hands upon her hips. "You promised me you'd let me be your strength in this whole mess. So you will comply."

"I have told you I do not require nutritional supplements." Seven remained immobile.

Kathryn started to rise, her natural affinity to charge to Seven's defense compelled her to step in and intervene. But a long fingered hand on her shoulder caused her to pause. "Kath, let them have this out. Besides, look at Seven. In the past month don't you think she's lost weight?"

"You noticed?" Kathryn's voice betrayed her.

Amanda chuckled. "Look. Before Seven decided to wise up and wear a uniform, those bio-suits didn't hide much. It's hard not to notice. I think B'Elanna trying to fatten her up is a good idea."

"You should talk," Kathryn said over the rim of her silver coffee mug, noticing that Rothery was as thin as the ex-Borg.

The younger woman shrugged. "Just let them have this row. They need to get it out of their systems."

"Seven doesn't need the added stress," Kathryn murmured more to herself than her companion.

"Hey 'Mom,' your little girl is all grown up now and she can handle herself," Amanda said quietly. Kathryn cut a glance to the blonde sitting across from her and then to the one now confronting the fiery engineer.

"Sit down, BangwI." B'Elanna's tone became softer and Seven found herself wanting to comply. She sat but had the resolved expression that she was not going to eat.

B'Elanna's dark rosy lips curled into a smile. "Neelix, you know what we talked about earlier?"

The furry chef wrung his hands and grinned widely. "Yes. Yes, of course." His forever-cheerful voice took the attention of those in the Mess Hall. There wasn't a person within that wasn't curious as to what their Chief Engineer had orchestrated with the Talaxian, Seven amongst them. The blonde almost had the expression she was going to be deliberately difficult out of her own sense of pride.

Of course that was before she smelled fresh banana pancakes.

"There you go, Seven." Neelix gleefully set the stack of hotcakes before her. "Enjoy." He patted her on her arm then scurried back to his beloved kitchen.

B'Elanna was grinning from ear to ear. "Resist that, BangwI."

"Has anyone ever told you, you do not 'play' fair?" Seven said inhaling the delicious scent of her meal.

"I am Maquis. Of course I don't play fair." The smaller woman reached over the table and placed a kiss upon her love's full lips. "You are so stubborn. But hey, that's one of the reasons I love you."

There was not a pair of eyes that had not gone wide from what they had witnessed. A pair of steel-blue orbs could only stare in utter awe.

"Eat your pancakes," B'Elanna ordered.

Seven's arms wrapped around her daughter's frail body, the blonde's lips brushing lightly against the child's forehead as Seven had seen Samantha do a hundred times with Naomi. And each time Seven offered Mizoti material touches it became more and more natural. Little hugs, little pecks upon her forehead, and now the cuddles became second nature. In truth Seven was amazed how easily she took to motherhood, to nurturing Mizoti. What wasn't a surprise was that she took great joy in it. And if there was ever an over protective mother, Seven was understandably it.

With the aid of Icheb, B'Elanna and Samantha Wildman, the over protective mother need not worry for her child's welfare. She was secure in the knowledge that Mizoti was safe. In fact the child was now able to sit up, move around a bit and consume solids. With her improving health, Seven's own demeanor seemed to be steadily rising in morale.

B'Elanna had seen the uplift in her BangwI's spirit. Granted, she and Seven had been unable to spend time together alone, but the young engineer couldn't complain. She was allowed to see a side of Seven none had been able to see. No, Naomi had seen this side as had the Borglings. The side of a woman who was loving and attentive. Seven seemed to be becoming accustomed to a more relaxed state. Her aster bun was gone, and the golden mane hung free about her shoulders. She smiled a little more, especially when Mizoti was awake and responsive. B'Elanna watched her BangwI for several days and realized this wasn't Seven of Nine she was observing, it was Annika Hanson.

Right now the young Klingon was watching as her lover was tucking Mizoti into the depths of her own bed as the girl had yet to have one of her own. Considering the child had spent most of her time in the trumble bed regeneration unit, it had not been a priority.

"Seven, will you sing my favorite song? And change the words so it's about me instead of a human child?" Mizoti looked with her green eyes, somehow making them twinkle in the ambient lighting of their quarters. Her small hands took Seven's larger one between her own as she trailed her fingers across the distinctiveness of silver exoskeleton and flesh.

B'Elanna perked her ears up in full, unadulterated interest. It wasn't often that the engineer heard her love sing, but when she had heard her it was a sweet voice that she loved dearly. Even when still adversaries, B'Elanna was willing to admit that Seven of Nine was angelic when she sang. She could willingly listen to that voice for hours, days---years on end.

"Mizoti." B'Elanna sat near the mother and child, her white teeth flashing a smile. "So what's your favorite song?"

The girl snuggled deeper into Seven's arms, feeling once more insecure. "It's called 'Stolen Child.' It's an old earth song. But I asked Seven to change it so it's about me not a human boy." She felt important knowing that her mother would compose a song just for her. "Only a couple of things are changed, but Seven says that it will not disrupt the harmonics."

'Well if that isn't an appropriate title,' the young Klingon pondered. Both her lover and the little girl were both stolen children. "I'm sure it won't." B'Elanna smiled encouragingly as she lifted her gaze to the tall blonde woman. "I'd love to hear it myself."

"Please, Seven?" Mizoti looked with pleading green eyes.

Seven looked to Mizoti, then to B'Elanna, then back to Mizoti once more "If I comply, will you regenerate?"

The child nodded.

"Very well."

B'Elanna clapped her hand over her mouth to keep herself from laughing. Both Mizoti and Naomi had this tall, proud ex-Borg wrapped around their little fingers. 'Hell, maybe I should try the irresistible cute ploy next time I need my stubborn woman to comply with orders…'

Despite her promise, Mizoti wasn't about to let go of her hold on Seven. She was so insecure that the only time Seven had been able to get away was the six hours the child spent regenerating. The girl was desperate to be either in the same room as her hero or held by her. Of course that seemed to be only four hours a day as the rest of the time the girl was sleeping.

B'Elanna had moved to give mother and child a bit more room on the bed, but she lingered when she heard the soft dove set tones of her lover.

When dips the rocky highland
Of sleuth wood in the lake
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats
There we've hid our fairy vats
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries

Come away oh Norkadian child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand
For the world's more full of weeping
Then you can understand

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light
By far all off furthest rosses
We foot it all the night
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till moon had taken flight
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles
Whilst the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep

Come away oh Norkadian child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand
For the world's more full of weeping
Then you can understand

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above glen car
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams
Leaning softly out from ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams

Come away oh Norkadian child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand
For the world's more full of weeping
Then you can understand

Away with us she's going
The solemned eyes
She'll hear the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Since peace into her breast
Or see brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest

Come away oh Norkadian child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand
For the world's more full of weeping
Then you can understand

For she comes, the Norkadian child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand and hand
For the worlds more full of weeping
Then you can understand.

Mizoti had a wide, tender smile upon her face as she laid her head upon Seven's lap, still possessively clutching her mother's hand.

"You promised to regen----to sleep." Seven reminded her daughter.

"But I am not tired." Then came a yawn that swallowed up anything else that had been said.

"Not exactly convincing there, Zot." B'Elanna chuckled.

The child cocked her head. "My designation….." she winced inwardly, as a child does when they expect to get struck. "I mean…my…name isn't Zot."

"No, but I'm bad at giving people I care about nicknames. Ask your brother Itch. He and I had this discussion. I call your SoS'oy Sev or Nic… Spike for Naomi."

Mizoti smiled. "You care about me?"

B'Elanna moved once more from the chair she was sitting in to the bed and opened her arms indicating the eight-year-old girl should crawl into her embrace. "Absolutely. You're very special to me and your SoS'oy."

"My SoS'oy. . my mother was killed by the Borg." Mizoti said bluntly.

B'Elanna lifted her eyes quickly to Seven. The former Borg flinched and ducked her head. B'Elanna quickly reached out her hand and took Seven's into her own.

"You're mistaken Zot, your SoS'oy is right here. Biologics are irrelevant, if you think about it. Captain Janeway is Seven's mother, and Seven is your mother." B'Elanna decided to counter the miniature ex-drone with logic.

Mizoti saw what could have only been deep pain when she had denied Seven the maternal title. She had longed to call Seven a maternal designation. But she had not been given the affirmation that she could comply.

"You are not angered with me?" The child suddenly asked the woman she desired to call 'Mother'.

The question so blindsided Seven that she blinked, frowned, and then shock her head ever so slightly. "Why would I have such a reaction to you?"

"Because I left Voyager. . . I left you." Mizoti mumbled.

"It was your choice." Seven said, not hiding the pain she had felt when the children left her. The twins and Mizoti had left her for a normal life, not one tainted by the Borg.

Mizoti looked down. "That was an error."

In an unconscious manner of mimicking Janeway, Seven used two fingers and lifted the girl's chin, meeting blue eyes to green. "That error has been rectified. You are where you belong now. I am not angered with you, Mizoti."

With a little nudge from B'Elanna the Norkadian child found herself going into Seven's strong arms. The woman's long limbs wrapped around the tiny frame. "I thought you might be displeased with me. You let Icheb call you by a maternal designation . . .but you didn't say I could."

B'Elanna decided to take matters into her own hands. "You goofed, Blondie! You work at being a mom to Mizoti and then forget to tell her that's what you want her to call you? I bet'cha even forgot to show her the adoption papers that were drawn up. Right?"

"Adoption papers?" Mizoti turned, looking with hope beyond hope at Seven. "You are going to adopt me?"

Seven nodded. "Yes. Is that what you want?"

'Kah'less, for Borg they are definitely insecure. It is so odd how they can be so confident about their skills, their abilities, but when it comes to personal, meaning of life stuff they go all self-doubting. It's like they have no inner confidence.' B'Elanna watched the interaction between the two.

"BangwI, of course she wants it" the Klingon answered, becoming irritated by the emotional dance they played. For two beings accustomed to being blunt, straight to the matter of things, they could sure dance around a subject.

The Queen allowed a fraction of her consciousness to pull from the Hive Mind. She was fully aware of the billions of voices spread across the quadrants. She was aware of the hounded even now becoming assimilated. She was aware of the Dominion War now being waged in the Alpha Quadrant and those in the Gamma Quadrant. She was fully aware of the plight of the Changelings as a cube passed one of their vessels and assimilated several of the Jem'hadar and obliterated the Changeling female aboard it. She was aware of the irrelevant wars waged in the Beta quadrant as several Cubes had engaged in confrontations, adding their distinctiveness to the Borg's own.

The Queen was aware of a child being cradled in her adoptive mother's arms as she was being sung to in a voice that carried perfect harmony and pitch. A voice with such control over harmonics that it made the smallest most deeply buried part of the Queen long to hear it once more, as a part of her personal Unimatrix, as she had heard it only three and half years ago. It was the one voice amongst billions she missed the most.

With that fraction of concentration she afforded herself, the Queen of the Borg listened to the sweetness of tone as the voice continued to sing. Then the words and their meaning, however irrelevant, made the Queen almost sneer. Seven of Nine was her stolen child. Janeway had stolen the Queen's human child and had tainted that perfect mind, and now that perfection was marred by chaotic pursuits.

Since that day when Seven had come back to her for only a moment the Queen thought she had seen in those blue eyes her Omega. Her Seven was with her once more, had allowed the Queen to touch the object of her desire. The Queen was always tactile, especially with her favorite. Perhaps if she had been as tactile with Seven of Nine as she had been with Data, her beloved drone would be with her now instead of in Janeway's collective. Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix 01's voice would be for the Queen's pleasure. Janeway had committed the ultimate crime, she had stolen the Queen's own Omega when she had taken Seven that second time. Then she had done so again with Unimatrix 0.

The Queen was weary of being generous. In fact, her generosity exhausted her. Seven cowered before her and the Queen was frightening. She had re-altered time and manipulated the quantum physics of temporal paradox. She had bargained with immature species to insure they massacred the Wysanti training vessel so that Seven could have custody of the female Norkadian, thus insuring that the female would become Seven's own assimilated subunit. And she had done all this for her beloved drone Seven of Nine. Frankly the Queen felt exhausted from living up to such expectations. Still, it was worth the effort, for even now the Borg Matriarch was pleased with the results of her plan. If she wanted Seven back where she truly belonged, the Queen needed to understand why Janeway's Collective had such a hold upon her drone. No, not her drone. The hub of the Collective didn't want Seven as a drone. The former Borg's uniqueness was an aspect of her perfection. Seven was almost her equal. Seven was. . .her mate. And Seven would be hers once more. Her mate would resist, but the Queen delighted in that.

Mizoti rubbed her forehead trying to massage away the dull ache she had been feeling since she had returned. No, that wasn't exactly true. She had felt the pain a week after the training mission on the Wysanti vessel.

"Zot, you okay?" Naomi asked, looking with concern in her large expressive eyes. She had adapted to the nickname B'Elanna had give her playmate just as Mizoti occasionally called Naomi Spike.

The young Norkadian nodded, "I am functioning within…" she sucked in a sigh. "I am fine."

Naomi cracked a crooked smile and reached out to pat her friend's hand, but Mizoti flinched. Naomi's smile turned into a scowl. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing. It's your move." Mizoti turned her attention back to the Kadis-Kot board.

"Yeah? Well, I don't believe you. Borg and ex-Borg don't lie. What's wrong?"

Mizoti looked into blue eyes and picked up a green disk from the tabletop and turned it over and over in her hand.

Naomi felt so bad for her friend. She didn't know what it was to lose a family member. Everybody she knew, everybody she loved, lived on Voyager. She had never experienced lose, not like that. There was a time she had thought her mother gone. Then she had felt fear and loss again when Seven was taken away by the Queen during Operation Fort Knox. But she never knew this permanent loss.

"You can not tell my SoS'oy."

Naomi knew that Mizoti had taken to calling Seven by the Klingon word for mother. Privately the little hybrid thought it was pretty 'cool' that Seven was her friend's mom.

She always knew Seven would make a great mom. When Mizoti asked Naomi to keep her secret, the older child inwardly winced. She didn't want to keep anything from Seven. But she was torn, also wanting to be a good friend to Mizoti. And Naomi knew that if she didn't comply, then she would never find out what was bothering her playmate.

"Okay, I promise I won't say anything."

Mizoti continued to turn the colored disk in her hand ad looked away. "When you say things in error what is the punishment protocols your mother initiates?"

"Like if I say a bad word?" Naomi shrugged. "Well, sometimes she just says my whole name in a mad voice. 'NaomiSamanthaWildman!! Shame on you'." The girl shrugged once more. "She threatens to make me eat soap but usually it's just my name said in a mad voice. But I don't say a lot of bad words. I did once in Seven's presence." Naomi looked down. "She never said a word about it, she raised the ocular implant, you know, like she does, set her jaw and then went back to work. It's funny, but I felt really bad, and Seven never said anything. I've never felt that bad when my mom says my whole designation and Seven never said anything and I felt worse. I said I was sorry I said the bad word and Seven kinda smiled. You know those little smiles she has."

Mizoti nodded. "I know that look." The girl tried to smile. "That is not what I meant."

"Oh." Naomi shifted a little, stretching her legs. Then in a quick movement she picked up a red disk and started nervously turn in over and over in her hand. "So this isn't about a bad word, right?"


"Come on, Mizoti. What is the malfunction? You are not working in acceptable parameters."

When Mizoti flinched again Naomi knew something was very wrong.

"They hit me," the Norkadian said in a hushed tone. "Every time I would utilize the familiar speech patterns of the Borg. . . when I would 'slip,' my foster parents would hit me because they didn't want me to sound like a Borg."

"What!" Naomi shifted upon her knees. "They hit you?"

"Yes." Mizoti looked up, her eyes wide. "You can never, never tell!"

"But Mizoti …. You have to."

"Why? The Hirogen on our training mission killed my foster parents. It's irrelevant now. And my SoS'oy is so sad because Azan and Rebi are dead. Please, this would hurt her more. You can't tell," Mizoti begged.

Naomi sucked in a breath. "But she loves you."

"I know. But you promised," Mizoti pleaded.

Naomi looked down at the chip in her hand and then to her dear friend. "Seven's super smart. She'll figure something is wrong."

"No she won't. I won't let her. And you can't either. Comply," the young girl demanded.

Naomi bit her lower lip, not liking this, but she had made a promise. "I will comply. But you know Seven is going to figure something is off, if not her then B'Elanna and Icheb."

"Maybe not," Mizoti said as she rubbed her forehead once more. The headache was getting worse. "They will probably think it's because I miss my brothers. And I do. I wish they weren't dead. But I am not sad the Hirogen attacked us. If they had not I wouldn't be back with my real mother. I just wish Azan and Rebi could be with me, too." She looked down almost embraced that she was crying.

Naomi moved on pure instinct. She gathered her friend into her arms and let Mizoti cry on her shoulder. "Hey, you know what? You're safe now. Seven, B'Elanna, the Captain, me. . . .We'll make sure you're safe always, okay. You're home."

Even as the days past with Mizoti growing stronger and stronger at least physically, it was of no surprise that she had sunk into a deep depression. Naomi, Neelix, Icheb B'Elanna and especially Seven did all that they could to insure that the little girl didn't be come lost within herself. Seven even went to the extent of allowing Mizoti to spend a great deal of time within Astrometrics, as the child didn't want to be far from her at all. The little girl became almost totally dependent upon her mother that Seven began to worry.

Mizoti had always been a free sprit and Seven had to smile at the thought that Mizoti was a bit difficult. It was something SamanthaWildman had called the Mother's Curse. All mothers curse their offspring that one-day they would have a child of their own that was just like them. For millenniums it was the only proven curse that all cultures possessed. Anyone so cursed was inevitably doomed. Apparently this curse was quasi-transferable, for Erin Hansen, Kathryn Janeway and the Queen of the Borg had all proclaimed Seven to be most difficult. Apparently Seven was thrice cursed for they all must have wished Seven to have an offspring such as herself. And oh how Seven longed to have that difficult, free spirited child back. The young mother no idea on how to manage a child lost in despair and travesty. The only thing Seven thought she could offer was herself and her attention.

Naomi tried to be there for her friend included her in games, such as the Adventures of Flotter and kadis-kot as well as other activities. Naomi so distraught in what to do about her friend that she sought out her mentor and one of her two favored people aboard Voyager. Neelix was always there for her, always ready to talk, to help her along her path of life. He always listened to her and never treated her like a baby. Neelix to Naomi's mind was her daddy. She had a biological father back on Earth but she didn't know him and quite frankly she didn't care too Voyager was her home.

"Good morning my little pretty one." The furry man greeted his adopted daughter as she wandered into the mess hall. "What can I get for you this morning?" He smiled as he patted her on the shoulder.

"I needed some help Neelix." Naomi said bluntly.

"Oh this sounds serious." The bunched up his orange fluffy eyebrows.

"It is." Naomi sighed. "Um… I have a hypothetical question."

"Okay." The Talaxian guided his charge over to a table and sat across from her. "Tell old Neelix what the trouble is."

"If you um…hypothetically know something is wrong with someone, but they asked you not to say anything, but …. they might need help how do you make it happen. The help that is."

Neelix nodded thinking for a moment. "Is this …hypothetical person in any immediate danger?"


"And if this help isn't administered soon will they be come more hurt?"

"Maybe. It isn't medical, it's stuff of life stuff." Naomi commented.

"I see." Neelix knew the girl he adored was referring to Mizoti. "It is my experience Naomi that if you were told something, hypothetically speaking of course, this person is asking for help, but they may not know how to. So you have to be discrete about getting them help. Sometimes you have to break the spirit of the promise in favor for the word of the promise."

Naomi looked to her father figure with renewed hope. "An example. . . Seven is ill but she doesn't want the Captain to know because she knows the Captain would be very worried. However if say someone else was told that was not in the promise, then you kept the word of a promise, the Captain wasn't told by you… she would have been told by this third party. Does this make any sense?"

"Makes a lot of sense Neelix. Thanks." Naomi leapt up off her chair and kissed Neelix on his furry cheek. "Oh by the way Seven is in love with B'Elanna not the Captain. So if she were sick she probably wouldn't want B'Elanna to know." The girl gave a lopsided grin.

"Oh my mistake." Neelix winked. Then in a more serious tone, "Naomi…does this hypothetical person…. hurt more than what she says she does?"

Naomi nodded.

"I see. Then perhaps hypothetically by asking me advice you have helped this hypothetical person."

"I never thought it of it that way." Naomi commented. "I don't think I like the Wysanti if they whack kids because they don't speak like they do." The Katerian shrugged. "I don't see what's so bad to use Borg-speak." She allowed a slim smile to come across her cherub features in asking Neelix what she should do, she had told him about Mizoti.

Neelix patted the slender arm of the girl. "Don't you worry Naomi, you go along and do what you were doing. Be a very good friend to ….er.. this hypothetical person. And old Neelix will see to everything."

"Thanks Neelix." The child wrapped her arms around the man who would be her father, then scampered off. "Today is Mommy's day off and we're taking Mizoti to play with Flotter. Do you want to come?"

"Absolutely, we'll make a day of it." The furry man winked.

"See you in a little while. Mizoti is coming over to our quarters as Sev.. . " she stopped as smiled as she thought of her best-friend in a new light "her mom is the Briefing room."

Out of pure habit Seven was inputting data on a PADD as she walked briskly down the corridors of Voyager to the briefing room. She was so absorbed in the reports of the Borg activity scanned by Icheb that she was almost taken by surprise when she arrived on the bridge. The pneumonic doors swooshed open revealing a nearly empty briefing room.

The only other individual in the room was B'Elanna. With a massive grin the Klingon slipped the PADD right out of Seven's hand, gaining a very disapproving huffed sigh from the ex-drone. "B'Elanna I was working on that! Return it."

"You know you're cute when you're pouting." B'Elanna teased.

"I am not pouting Lieutenant…" Seven fixed the woman she loved with piercing blue eyes.

"Lieutenant is its?" B'Elanna wrapped her arms around Seven. The taller woman had taken to wearing specialized Starfleet uniforms after B'Elanna's introduction of the covering. The blue and black accentuated the clear blue of Seven's eyes, so much so that the young Klingon felt herself falling deeper and deeper into them.

"Are we not on duty?" Quibbled Seven.

"Then I suppose me doing this would be against regs." B'Elanna nibbled along the alabaster column of Seven's neck, her tongue flickering out tasting the starburst implant, causing the ex-Borg to moan despite herself. "And doing this would most certainly be in violation of protocol, Seven of Mine." B'Elanna captured Seven's full lips in demanding passion. When her tongue slipped between her beloved's lips to run along the velvety smoothness Seven lost all self-possession.

"Def…defiantly….not …." Seven's hands encircled B'Elanna's trim waist holding her firmly. Seven's own kiss become dominating as she enticed B'Elanna to open her mouth accepting her probing tongue. ". . . in. . .in. . . adherence to protocol." Seven moaned as she started to suckle B'Elanna's lower lip. Had the blonde not been holding B'Elanna up, the Klingon's knees would have buckled.

Bella felt Seven's lips curled into a smile as the taller woman, slipped the PADD out of her hand. She laid a kiss upon B'Elanna's jaw line and moved back ever so slightly.

"You are a cheater Seven of Mine." The Klingon moaned.

"You take liberties BangwI. Seven of …. 'Mine'.. ? I had not yet agreed to your proposal of marriage." Seven said with a smirk teasing the corners of her mouth, she gently kissed B'Elanna once more. "However after The Oath, that is a more than apt designation you can utilize… my intended Be'nal."

Neither woman noticed that the Captain chose to enter the briefing room drinking her coffee. She would have said something about the public display of affection when she had heard Seven's proclamation. At the same time Seven had mentioned marriage and The Oath Janeway had sucked a swallow of coffee down the wrong pipe.

"Captain!" Both women chorused, when they heard the hacking and sputtering.

"Are you alright?"

"You are damaged Captain."

"No…I am fine." Kathryn tried to regain her composure after choking upon the hot liquid. She set her mug down on the table then turned back to the women. "Only thing damaged is pride." The Captain cleared her throat. "Seven…did you just accept B'Elanna proposal for marriage?"

"Yes." The ex-Borg stated matter of factly.

B'Elanna must have just realized that Seven has said yes because she gave out a large yelp of glee and compressed Seven into bone-crushing embrace. Had Seven not had the Borg enhancements she would have had broken ribs from the strength of B'Elanna's arms.

"qamusHa SoH B'Elanna, JiH'oh BangwI."

The smattering of knowledge Janeway had of the Klingon language, she knew Seven had told her Chief of Engineering that she loved her, and that she was her's. Kathryn felt a minor pang of regret that she had never been bold enough to cast away the regulations and proclaim her love. But a greater part of her was overjoyed. Despite the odds stacked against her Seven had found happiness and love. And B'Elanna…..had found her equal. Kathryn also knew she'd not have to worry about Seven, Lanna would be there to protect her.

"Then let me be the first to say congratulations." Janeway placed a hand on both young women's shoulders to hug them both. "This is wonderful news."

"Thank you Captain." Both women chorused. Neither had separated from each other, and so this was how the others found them when they came in.

"Are we conducting Staff meetings differently?" Chakotay said as he moved to his seat.

"What's with the group hug?" Harry asked.

Seven wanted to explain it wasn't a group hug but she had accepted B'Elanna's desire to be wed. But she had no idea how the others would take to the news. They may look down upon B'Elanna for wanting to marry a former drone of the Collective.

B'Elanna felt the Borg-Armor go up and she would be damned if she let her love pull back into herself. A firm hand on her back, B'Elanna uttered in a hushed tone she knew Only Seven could hear the whisper. "You are the woman I love Annika, besides I'll be the envy of everyone aboard as I managed to take into my heart and my arms the woman half the ship desires." B'Elanna winked. "I am not ashamed of our love BangwI."

Seven's apprehension seemed insignificant next to the power of the love she felt coming from her beloved. "Ah well hugs are expected when you proclaim you're getting married." B'Elanna said boldly.

The room was quiet for 0.033 seconds before, voices called out in praise and congratulations. Harry Kim and Chakotay each gave the young woman hugs. Even Amanda embraced the newly engaged couple. Tuvok who was not given to physical contact titled his head with his offering of congratulations.

"This is most unexpected but welcome news. May your marriage be long and prosperous."

"I thought the tradition response was mate until your blood boils." Chakotay grinned causing both women to flush.

The Captain was simply grateful she wasn't drinking her coffee at the time or she would have choked once more.

"And here I thought the toast was mate until the bed brakes." Kim chuckled.

"Hey!" B'Elanna belted out.

"We have not consummated our union yet." Seven said bluntly.

B'Elanna tuned and tucked her head in the amble bosom of the woman she loved her face beat red. "Oh God."

The others only chuckled at the young engineer's plight.

"You know that little thing we talked about a while ago, Sev? You know that little discretion thing? Now would be a good time to use it." B'Elanna muttered.

Seven looked to the woman in her arms. "I did not mean to unsettle you, B'Elanna."

"Its okay." The Klingon said softly.

The Captain took a look at the wooden box she had placed at Seven's normal chair at the table then back to the tall blonde. In light of the news of the impending wedding she almost decided to forgo the presentation. But it had been put off for several weeks now and if she didn't do it, it may never be done.

"B'Elanna if you could untangle yourself from your fiancé would you retrieve the box on the table?"

Dark eyes rose and looked at the mentioned item and a large smile found itself as she recognized it.

"No problem Captain." She stepped back from her beloved, and moved around the table to take the box in hand. She returned to the Captain's side as she handed the older woman the item in question.

"Under Starfleet protocols covering battlefield conditions. I Captain Kathryn Janeway do hear by give you Seven of Nine… Annika Hansen the field promotion to Lieutenant." The redhead smiled widely as she placed the pips onto the gray collar of Seven's turtleneck. "Congratulations Lieutenant Hansen."

Seven was absolutely speechless.

B'Elanna was beaming with astounding pride. She grabbed the lapels of Seven's blue and black tunic and forcefully placed a kiss upon the full lips of her beloved, even as the other officers in the room applauded Seven's promotion.

"You deserve it baby." B'Elanna said for Seven's hearing only.

"Now that we have taken care of some pressing business," Janeway interrupted with good humor there is some ship's business that needs to be addressed. Three days ago Icheb discovered Borg activity near the Hirogen hunting grounds. They have yet to discover us. I'd like to keep it that way. They were in pursuits of what he classified as species 342. Seven can you shine some light on them? Icheb's report indicated he knew very little."

All eyes turned to the tall blonde. "Species 342 is a bio-mechanical lifeform. A living ship if you will, which had a true symbiotic relationship with their crew. Their hulls are covered in a heavy metallic liquid alloy that refracts senor readings and is highly adaptable. They have phase-shifting capabilities, trans-warp and slipstream drives. They have been able to elude the Borg for decades. The only successful assimilation had been upon an infant ship. However the partial assimilation was not a success and the ship died.

"What was learned however is that species 342 has a genetic memory, they have empathic with telepathic capabilities. They reproduce exclusively through a process of enhanced cellular mitosis, which means that they are all females. An adult ship is nearly the same size as a Borg Cube. The infants are seventy feet long, 25 feet high and with the wingspan of 175 feet. They grow exponentially until they reach adult hood. It is theorized that their life span is several hundred years.

"The propulsion unit is fueled by organic cold fusion. The digestive juices permeate the nourishment it consumes and interacts on a subatomic level with the cells of the food source thus combining on the cellar level and cause a catalyst causing cold fusion.

The weaponry of Species 342 is rather unique. An EM pulse renders all electrical and computer systems of a craft inoperative and permanently damaged."

B'Elanna was moving from her office to the lift that would take her to the second level of Engineering when she saw Neelix heading her way. "Hey Neelix what are you doing down here? Come to ask if you can cater the wedding?" By now the Engineer figured that the gossip of he wedding between she and Seven had to have traveled at slipstream velocity across the ship.

She had tried to still the young woman's nervousness about what others would think of her with Seven. And B'Elanna simply told her they would be jealous. After half the ship's complement wanted Seven, but were intimidate not necessarily by her Borgness, but by her very dominating personality. The only two people on the ship who could match it was one the Captain and two the resident Klingon who the other half of the ship was intimidated by.

The Engineering crew didn't know what to make of their chief, but they were exceptionally loyal to her and seeing her this happy, they gathered it was an excellent thing. Of course each of them were blown out an airlock when they discovered the reason for this profound happiness was do to the Ice Queen. The two of them were getting married! Who knew?

The furry man looked nervous, which was evident with the wringing of his hands.

"Ah…. I wonder if I might have a word with you in private."

Intrigued B'Elanna gestured back towards her office. Once within the Talaxian fretfully paced the circumference of the room. "Sure."

Once in the office the bright smile that was on her face was beginning to fade. "Neelix what's wrong?" If it was Seven, the Klingon would have been notified. She had threatened the doctor she would realign his matrix if he kept her in the dark about anything that would be detrimental to Seven. Doctor patient confidently be damned. B'Elanna loved Seven deeply and if something was wrong she wanted to know. All the Doctor would have to say was that Seven was in need of treatment in sickbay and the word of his Hippocratic oath was honored.

"Neelix what is? What's up?"


"Neelix!" The Klingon hybrid was not known for her patience

"B'Elanna have you noticed some peculiar behavior in Mizoti?"

"Well yeah she's going to be a little displaced for awhile. The poor kid saw her brothers die, she was nearly killed and she gets new mom. It's must be overwhelming for her."

"B'Elanna… Naomi and Mizoti were talking. And well Naomi found out that Mizoti's foster parents abused her."

"What?" B'Elanna roared.

The Talaxian wrung his hands. "They were displeased because of Mizoti's habitual use of well . . . Borg-speech."

"That is the dumbest reason I ever heard. Seven, Itch and Zot's speech is almost the same as Vulcans." B'Elanna pointed out the obvious.

"The Wysanti are not Vulcan, B'Elanna. I think perhaps they wanted the children to integrate into their society. Their Borg-nature I imagine was less than desirable."

"Seven doesn't know does she?" B'Elanna muttered.

Neelix shook his mottled head. "No. Naomi promised that she would not tell Seven, because Mizoti made her. But she desperately wanted to help her friend."

"But… you're not Seven and neither am I. Cleaver girl." B'Elanna praised the young absent girl. "Thanks for giving me a heads up Neelix. I'll take care of it."

"This has to be handled with some delicacy." Neelix warned. "She may not wish to be forth coming."

"Yeah I know. "

"B'Elanna you may be better suited in handling this than Seven herself." The Talaxian grimaced as he straightened his bold yellow tunic. "I mean given her former life in the Collective, she's lived a fairly sheltered life. She doesn't have the benefits you have had living outside that shelter. I … mean…"

B'Elanna gave him a reassuring slight smile. "I get it Neelix. I'll handle her with kid gloves. I've seen refugee kids come out of Cardassian Death Camps; I think I can handle this. Besides I'm kinda' going to be her second mother. . . I am not going to turn my back on her."

"I will do what I can to reassure her as well." Neelix commented. "Samantha, Naomi and I are taking her to the holodeck to run a Flotter story. I think we'll have a picnic, you know make a day of it."

"Great, it gives me an opening for latter. It will be good for her to interact with others again. Understandably she's been a bit co-dependent on Seven, not wanting to leave her side for long and all, but she needs to be with others too."

"I'll make sure she has a good time today." Neelix said. "Oh and congratulations, perhaps this news will bring a smile to Mizoti."

Part 12

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