DISCLAIMER: Star Trek Voyager and all who sail in her belong to Paramount/Viacom and no infringement of copyright/trade marks is intended. The Dungeons and Dragons Roleplaying System is owned by Wizards of the Coast and no infringement of copyright/trademarks is intended. The only thing I would like to lay claim to is the original D&D character used in this story.
WARNING: This story deals to some extent with the subject of rape, and although by no means graphic reader discretion is advised.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
PAIRING: Seven/female

Arana's Tale
By Kudara

Chapter 5

I turned back to Seven after the Captain had left, “Milady, could you tell me more about how this ship works? How do the doors know that someone is approaching? And how did the doors to these quarters know that I was approaching, whereas they did not open for you?”

The doors had been intriguing me all day, I had first assumed that they must be magical but after the discussion with the Captain as to what spells I could cast and what they did I reevaluated that assumption. I was beginning to think that these people did not know anything about magic at all; they did however seem to know a lot about building interesting things.

Seven paused a moment then began to explain how the doors on the ship worked, which lead to her explaining what sensors were and how they detected the approach of people on the ship. At my insistence she told me how to allow her to enter my quarters if I was not there.

When she finished and I had changed the door settings I caught her looking at me with what I thought was curiosity. “Milady?” I asked.

She raised the brow with the curious metal jewelry about it and I glanced at it momentarily, “You look as though you have a question you want to ask me. Pardon me my forwardness if I am wrong.”

Seven stared at me in a manner I was becoming familiar with, a steady direct stare that I admired for its unflinching honest appraisal. “You have not inquired about my implants.”

I was puzzled by the word, “Implants? You mean the metal about your eye and hand? I assumed they were jewelry of a type, I see I was incorrect. If I have offended you through my ignorance Milady, I apologize for any hurt I caused.”

“You have not,” she assured me. Seven paused for a moment and then seeing that I would not press her for details, began a dry unemotional recital of how she came to have her implants. I was happy I had sat down on the couch next to her for her story stunned me.

Taken as a six year old by a people known as the Borg she had been ‘assimilated’ as she called it. Her explanation of assimilation was too technical for me to fully understand but one thing was clear, a person who was assimilated lost their ability to think of themselves as an individual and became part of a group mind. She had grown up in something called a maturation chamber which apparently speeded the process of growth such that she was fully mature in half the time it would normally take.

When she came out of the maturation chamber the Borg had replaced her left arm and eye with mechanical devices. Seven explained that she had mechanical devices throughout her body, even in her blood, and she would not be able to survive without them now. Before the Captain had freed her from the Collective, which was another name for the Borg I gathered, she had served the Borg Queen as her tertiary adjunct.

She seemed quite calm as she told me that she had assisted while she was a Borg in the assimilation of several species, wiping entire worlds of their populations. Yet I understood why she was telling me, there was a tension in her, and she refused to meet my eyes until she finished telling me of how she had met Captain Janeway and been subsequently unwillingly separated from the Collective.

My heart ached for her, apparently there were some on board who blamed her for her actions while she had been a Borg, and now she would not accept my friendship until I knew of her past.

I had run into the same attitude myself; there were those in the Order that blamed me for my slavery and the use my body had been put to. I had come to understand that there would always be those that for whatever reason, would blame the victim for the crime that they had suffered.

At some point in the story she got up and turned to look out the windows as she spoke, standing motionless with her arms behind her back as if she were standing at attention.

When she finished she turned to look at me with that wonderfully direct look. I met her gaze trying to let her see that I held none of her past against her. “I am saddened that you have had such an experience in your life Milady. It is a miracle that you were freed from the Collective by Captain Janeway and were able to save my life today.”

“If I had not been assimilated I would not be present on Voyager to save you. I would still rather have not been assimilated Arana.” Seven stated.

“Milady that was not my intent, my intent was to show that even out of tragedy blessings may be found. I most humbly beg your pardon for my ill phrasing.” I said earnestly and with no little anguish.

“I believe the human saying is ‘every cloud has a silver lining’.” Said Seven. She still had not responded to my apology and I realized that the subject of her past must still be too painful for her to take a philosophical view of it. Not surprising, I berated myself for my clumsiness, since for her it was only a few years ago whereas my past was now over ten years ago.

“Milady, I should not have spoken so. Your pain is still too fresh to take such a view of it, unlike mine which is old and scarred over. It was never my intention to cause you pain. Milady, what penance must I do to return myself to a state of grace with you,” I beseeched her.

Seven looked surprised by this statement; I believe it took her a few seconds to work out what I had said. “You have not hurt me Arana; therefore there is no need for penance. Your statement was accurate. If I had not been assimilated I would not be in the Delta Quadrant to assist Voyager with building the Astrometrics Lab. I would not have been on duty and I would not have gone through the wormhole to save you.”

Seven paused and I did not speak yet, sensing that there was more she wanted to say, “Several times my Borg implants and assimilated knowledge have saved members of this crew and Voyager. Yet many of the crew still resent and fear me for being Borg.”

It was as I had thought then; the primary sources of her pain were the people who blamed her for her actions while she was a Borg. The ones who would not see beyond her past to the person she was now. I wondered that they could not see the gentle good soul that shone out so strongly from her eyes?

I knew what my penance must be, and I hoped that by sharing my past and experiences I would help her understand hers better. “I am familiar with the experience of being held accountable for things that I had no ability to control. It is very painful to have one’s peers, who should understand that you were the victim, blame you for what happened.”

I paused for a second gathering my thoughts, “Milady, the things I am about to speak of are still painful for me to remember even though it has been over ten years since they occurred. I would ask you to keep in confidence the details of what I am about to relate to you.”

Seven’s full attention was on me and I met her gaze directly, “You wish me to not relate what you will tell me to anyone not even Captain Janeway?”

“I shall most likely tell Captain Janeway myself at some point, you may share what I tell you with her if you feel it necessary. I would ask though that you do not speak with anyone else Milady. I still feel shame at some of what I was forced to do, I would not be comfortable with many people knowing the specifics of my childhood.” I replied to her acknowledging that in many ways I was still not completely healed from that time, perhaps I never would be.

Seven nodded, “I will comply. I will only tell Captain Janeway if she requires the information.”

I nodded and began speaking, “My mother was captured in one of the many raids between Aglarond and Thay while she was pregnant with me and sold as a slave. Because of her status when I was born I was a slave as well. Despite that I was not unhappy as a very young child. Our master was not an unkind man to his slaves and we had enough food, clothing and shelter. It was fairly unusual state for slaves in Thay as I had the mischance to learn later.

My master owed another man a large sum of money and to pay it off he sold me and two other young female slaves to the man, I was twelve years of age at the time. My new master took all of us as body slaves, something I pray my old master did not know of before he sold us to such a use. I lived as such until I was bought at the age of sixteen by a priest of Ilmater and freed. That past is the reason I became a priest of Ilmater myself, and eventually a Champion of Torm.”

I paused and looked up at Seven, my eyes had fell away from hers at some point during my recital and I could tell that she was thinking, “I have searched my memory and I cannot find a reference to the term body slave. Clarify… please,” asked Seven.

I nodded, “It speaks well of your culture that you do not know the meaning of the term, Milady. A body slave’s duties include bathing and dressing one’s master as well as taking care of their physical needs.”

Seven tilted her head to the side then I could see she understood the meaning of my words for a fleeting expression of anger crossed her face, “This behavior was permissible?” definite tones of anger were apparent in her clipped words.

“I was a slave, Milady. My master could do whatever he pleased with me, a slave has no rights they are only property in Thay,” I explained. Seven frowned slightly and I continued with my explanation, “What I have just told you I do not consider private information, you may share it with others if you feel it necessary. The specifics of my situation I would prefer you not to share except with Captain Janeway.”

Seven nodded sharply, obviously still angered, “Slavery is not permitted on Federation member worlds. Your world does not seem a very civilized one.”

I smiled at her, “Faerun is a mixture of contrasts, Milady. In most kingdoms slavery is forbidden, in some, such as Mulhorand, slaves have certain rights. It was my misfortune that I was taken to one of two kingdoms where slaves have no rights. Some kingdoms in Faerun are very civilized and some are barbaric.”

I proceeded to tell her some of the details of my existence, the beatings, and the parties. I finished speaking of that part of my past and said, “Those are the details that I would prefer not many other people know, the memories still pain me even now. I do not know if they will ever not pain me to think of them.” I paused and examined Seven’s face, it was paler I thought and I could see disquiet in her eyes at what I had told her.

I had not told her of my past for her pity though so I continued. “When I first began my training as a paladin there were many who thought I was unsuitable because of my past. They thought I had shown weakness because I let myself be used the way I had. I suppose they thought I should have found a way to kill myself instead of living. Some of them still resent me and do not understand how Torm could have chosen me to be one of his Champions. They do not understand that it is my past and my compassion for those who still suffer that is my source of strength.”

I continued speaking, “I understand how it feels to be blamed for something you had no control over, the outrage over being blamed for being a victim. You were a child when you were taken and your ability to control you own actions stripped away from you, as was I. Indeed I had more control than you did, I at least could have chosen to kill myself. You did not even have that option open to you. I do not blame you for anything you did while you were a Borg; it is your actions now that you have control over them that matter.”

“You have found a ‘silver lining’ then,” Seven stated unemotionally. Her eyes though told a slightly different story, they were darker then they had been and looked at me solemnly.

“Yes I have several silver linings. But sometimes, Milady, I too wish that I had not lived through the things I did. If I had not thought I doubt I would be the person you see before you today, I could not be... that past has too thoroughly shaped the person I have become.” I did not drop my eyes from her eyes as I said this, and I could see that she understood my meaning. I thought I saw some resentment there as well, which I could understand, it was not something I wanted to hear either when I was younger and my memories fresher.

I could see that my words were not persuading her as I had wanted, so I took a different tactic. I held out my hand for her left one, the one with the exoskeleton banding as she had called it. Hesitantly she held it out and I gripped it with my own marveling at how flexible the banding seemed to be, how it was not rough to the touch at all though it was ridged and that it was the same temperature as her flesh.

“Is it safe for you to show me these assimilation tubules you spoke of?” I asked and she nodded frowning slightly. Seven made as to draw her hand away from mine but I shook my head and she stared at me questioningly for a moment, and then out of the back of her hand extended two slender metallic tubes. I looked at them curiously and raised my other hand to touch them looking at her inquiringly as I did so. Her eyes were wide as I asked, “May I touch them Milady.”

Seven nodded hesitantly and finished raising my hand to touch the tubules, which were very smooth and slick feeling. I debated the next move I wanted to take, wondering if I it was wise, and then shrugged internally. If she accidentally assimilated me I would trust the Doctor to remove the implants as she had told me he had done for her.

I slipped off the couch and knelt in front of her and brought her metal covered hand to my lips and pressing them briefly against it. I could feel the tubules against my throat as I did so and I paused there for a moment then looked up at her. She was standing there with an odd look on her face, her left brow was raised and in her eyes I could tell she was wondering if I was perhaps mad. “Milady, I trust you with my very life, without any reservations.”

I could see the wonder in Seven’s eyes as she looked at me and I noted the tubules slowly retracting back into the back of the hand that I still held. I released her hand reluctantly and stood up waiting to see if she would say anything. She still stared at me silently and I gave her a wistful smile and almost without my volition I found my hand reaching up to gently touch the metal about her eye. Surprised by my own action I shook myself and dropped my hand back to my side and said “Milady, I would never intentionally hurt you.”

Seven seemed to shake herself out of whatever emotion had gripped her since my action and she replied, “No one has ever touched my assimilation tubules without fear except for the Doctor when he examines my implants. And he cannot be assimilated.” She said the last with a clear tone of wonder. Then proving that she was wise she said, “Apology and penance accepted Arana, though they were not necessary.”

My stomach choose that moment to grumble loudly in displeasure at its empty state and I gave her and embarrassed look. “Perhaps it is time for you to show me how to find the mess hall Milady.”

The seriousness that had been between us after my tale had been broken by the rumbling of my stomach and now Seven looked amused as she said, “I understand that Mr. Neelix’s attempt at tonight’s dinner was considered acceptable from the comments I overheard earlier. Hopefully it is true; his attempts at cooking are often spicier than most of the crew appreciates.”

“Indeed,” I commented, “then dinner will be an adventure everyday.”

Her mouth twitched briefly and I felt rewarded for my attempt at humor. I felt a sudden sense of caution as I considered some of my more recent actions, then she turned and I couldn’t help but notice the graceful way she moved, the elegant line of her neck, and the outline of her face. Suddenly I inhaled sharply as I realized that I was rapidly becoming very attracted to my rescuer.

Seven stopped her movement toward the door and glanced at me, raising a curious brow. Her gaze shifted suddenly to an analytical one that made me slightly nervous given where my thoughts had so recently taken me. “You are… attracted to me,” she said suddenly.

I paused surprised and wondered if my thoughts had been so obvious, Seven continued, “Your eyes dilate when you look at me, your body temperature rises 0.3 degrees whenever this occurs and your facial capillaries expand.”

I straightened my shoulders and took in a deep breath, “Yes Milady, I am attracted to you. I hope I do not offend you or break any cultural taboos by doing so. If I have I ask that you forgive me.”

Seven paused for a moment examining me, “You do not offend me and you have not broken any cultural taboos. The Federation is accepting of relationships between people of the same sex.”

“I am not surprised; any organization that would put a strong woman like Captain Janeway in command would be an enlightened one.” I commented thinking of how many men I had met that could not have dealt with the Captain because of their prejudices against women.

Seven considered my statement and nodded; she gave me one last searching look then directed me to follow her into the corridor. I noted that she did not comment whether or not she found my attraction to her acceptable or not, but was uncertain how to interpret her silence on the matter. Once we were in the corridor she stopped and demonstrated to me how I could ask the computer for directions. On our way to the mess hall she tried to explain to me what exactly the computer was that she spoke of so often.

I know I did not clearly understand her explanation, the best I could do was understand that it was some type of entity that operated certain things on the ship. I finally admitted that I probably needed more background information before I could comprehend what she was trying to describe to me and she glanced at me and agreed.

We waked through a set of double doors with round cutouts midway down their length. Inside the room were several tables, one wall had windows like those found in my quarters. To the right behind a tall bar stood and odd looking man. His hair was crested as a bird, and his eyes were yellow. He had an odd facial structure with a ridge running from the corner of his eye upward and around the top of his skull bracketing his crest-like hair. A central ridge ran from his forehead into his hairline and his cheeks sported a sprouting of hair on his lower jaw line that ran back to his ears.

“Mr. Neelix,” Seven greeted the odd looking man. Who looked up and smiled at us, “Ah Seven, and you must be our new guest Champion of Torm Arana.”

I smiled in return, “Yes, Mr. Neelix, please call me Arana or if you are required to be formal Champion Arana.”

“Champion Arana, I like the sound of that,” the man said with a large smile. “I guess you’re here to try my wonderful Leola root stew, I’ve cut down quite a bit on the spices. The crew doesn’t seem to appreciate spicy food.” Mr. Neelix said in a low voiced aside to me.

“I am certain that it will be delicious Mr. Neelix, I happen to like spicy dishes, helps one stay healthy,” I assured him with a smile as he handed me a tray with a large bowl of thick soup and a wedge of some type of bread.

“Seven are you having some as well or just your usual nutritional supplement,” Mr. Neelix asked.

“My nutritional supplement will be adequate Mr. Neelix,” Seven assured him.

I hid a smile and wondered what a nutritional supplement might be, within a few moments Mr. Neelix returned with a brownish looking liquid in a tall glass and handed it to Seven.

“Please choose a place to sit,” Seven encouraged me. There were only a few people in the mess hall and I choose a seat next to the windows and eyed my stew keeping in mind Seven’s comment.

Tentatively I tried some and found that it was actually tasty, not particularly spicy at all compared to some of the cuisine of Faerun. Seven eyed me as I began to eat with more enthusiasm and I smiled at her, “It is rather good Milady, what is that you are drinking?”

“A nutritional supplement, I find it an efficient way of attaining my nutritional needs. I find Mr. Neelix’s cooking often too difficult for me to digest.” Seven admitted.

“You have a sensitive stomach, Milady?” I inquired.

“No I do not, it is just Mr. Neelix’s choice of spices that seem to disagree with me,” Seven explained.

I nodded and out of the corner of my eye noticed Mr. Neelix approaching, “You seem to be enjoying my stew, Champion Arana,” he commented beaming.

“Indeed Mr. Neelix, it is quite tasty. I find it very similar to Calishite cooking,” I assured him.

“I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of the Calishites,” he admitted after a short while.

“They live near the Shining Sea in a very hot and dry land, their cooking is often quite spicy.” I informed him.

“The Shining Sea?” he questioned.

“It is on Faerun, the realm I come from Mr. Neelix,” I answered. I was growing to like him, he looked odd but I could see that he had a good soul and had a deep desire to help others.

I could tell that the few others in the mess hall were also interested in our conversation, for the conversation level fell to almost nothing while I was speaking. “Well, you will have to tell me more about their cooking sometime Champion Arana.” Mr. Neelix informed me.

“I shall look forward to discussing it Mr. Neelix,” I assured him and politely rose while he left. I noticed the noise level in the room increase as our conversation ended, as those around me started their conversations again. Seven noticed it as well I could see as she glanced around with a slightly disapproving look.

I chuckled lightly and Seven turned and stared at me curiously, “It’s natural to be curious about a stranger, it’s actually reassuring to me to see that it holds true here.”

“It is familiar,” said Seven nodding.

Suddenly I heard a comment from one of the men at the table, “She’s a Borg, can you imagine what it would be like to bed her, she’d probably give you an efficiency report afterward. I agree though she’s got the looks to be a hot lay.”

I glanced at Seven and saw the tightness around her mouth indicating that she had heard the comment as well and found it offensive. I got up and walked toward the two men. They stopped their conversation as I came up to them and looked at me in surprise.

“It is considered impolite in my culture to speak thus about any woman, perhaps I should inquire with Captain Janeway as to whether or not such behavior is considered acceptable here?” I asked them sternly. They gaped at me rather like landed fish and I crossed my arms over my chest and stared back at them levelly.

Finally one of them spoke up, “No Ma’am it is not, and I apologize… You don’t have to contact the Captain over this do you?”

I stared at him for a moment, “I am not the one you offended with your ungentlemanly behavior. Therefore I am not the one you need to apologize to.”

The man, who had not given me his name, swallowed noticeably and stared at Seven then at me. Finally he got up and went over to her, “I apologize for my words, Seven. I won’t do it again.” He glanced at me but I looked at Seven and he looked back at her.

Seven looked at me for a moment before turning back to him then said, “Your apology is accepted Crewman Geran.”

I waited until he had come back to his seat and nodded to him then focused my attention on the remaining male who had been avoiding my eyes. “I believe an apology is called for on your part as well…” I waited for the unknown male to answer then glanced at Crewman Geran.

He hesitantly said, “Gerald it won’t hurt you to apologize.”

Gerald replied, “I’m not apologizing to the Borg.”

I shook my head and asked Crewman Geran, “What is this man’s last name Crewman Geran.”

“Gerald,” he hissed urgently at his friend who got up and headed toward the door.

I tapped the badge as Captain Janeway had taught me,“Champion Arana to Captain Janeway,” I spoke calmly. The unnamed crewman paused and looked at me shocked; apparently he had not expected me to follow through on my statement.

Shortly the reply came back with a curious tone, “Captain Janeway here Arana, what is it?”

“A matter of discipline Captain, it concerns a Crewman Geran, who has apologized for his insulting words, and another crewman who refuses to give me his name. I am uncertain how to proceed since the second crewman will not apologize for his unmannerly conduct and continues his insults,” I explained to the Captain.

“You are in the mess hall Arana?” she asked.

“Yes, Captain,” I replied.

“I’ll be down there momentarily, where is this crewman now?” she asked.

“He is still in the mess hall, though he did state his intention to leave earlier.” I asked Crewman Geran once again calmly knowing that Captain Janeway could hear the conversation, “What is this man’s last name Crewman Geran.”

The entire mess hall was now unashamedly staring at the scene in front of them, Seven was one of the few still seated observing the scene intently. My eyes met her’s and I nodded to her gravely, and then focused my attention back on Crewman Geran who finally hesitantly answered me, “Holson.”

“The second crewman’s name is Holson Captain Janeway,” I informed her just in case she had not heard the man’s reply.

“Keep them there until I arrive Arana, Janeway out,” came the reply then my communications badge chirped again indicating that the channel had been closed.

I kept a close eye on my both of them while I waited for the Captain to enter the mess hall. Crewman Holson glared at me and moved toward the mess hall doors again, and I reached out and put a restraining hand on his shoulder. He twisted around trying to escape the hold but I kept my grasp on his shoulder gripping his uniform and he grabbed my hand trying to pry it away. Despite his attempts I was able to easily keep my hold and was not particularly concerned that he would be able to free himself.

Around me I could hear people talking in quiet excited voices as they waited to see what would happen next. I gathered I was providing them with a quite a lot of entertainment. I glanced over to check on Seven wondering what she thought of my behavior. It was expected in the Order of Torm that a Paladin would protect the honor of a woman, but from the reactions of those here my behavior was anything but usual. She nodded to me but I could see the uneasiness in her eyes at the events I had initiated.

The doors to the mess hall opened and Captain Janeway and Lt. Commander Tuvok walked into the mess hall. The Captain looked appraisingly at the situation and said, “You may release him now Arana.”

I nodded to her, “Yes, Captain,” and released the man stepping back away from him as I did so. Crewman Holson turned and glared at me while rubbing his shoulder where I had gripped it. Lt. Cdr. Tuvok looked at Crewman Holson and then at me and I thought I saw an approving look in his eye at the restrained method I had used to secure the stubborn man.

The Captain stood with her hands on her hips and looked around the room, suddenly those who had finished their meals decided they should leave and within a short time there were only a few people left in the mess hall. Those who were left pretended to give their full attention to their meals.

Finally the Captain said to me, “Arana would you explain the situation here please.”

I bowed to her slightly and replied, “Yes, Captain. I was eating Mr. Neelix’s Leola Root Stew when I overheard Crewman Geran reply to a comment made by Crewman Holson in a manner which clearly indicated that they were speculating about Seven in a lewd manner. The commentary was derogatory in nature and loud enough for Seven and I to hear it from several tables away. I would prefer not to repeat what was said in this public setting Captain.” I paused to see if the Captain was agreeable and she nodded sharply to me. The Captain’s face had gotten far sterner as I had spoken and now she was directing a powerfully disproving glare at the two crewmen.

“I walked over and informed them that such behavior was not acceptable in my culture and inquired as to whether or not you would consider such behavior acceptable here Captain.” She shot me a quick look at that and nodded for me to continue, “Crewman Geran replied that you would not and freely apologized to Seven for his ill behavior and assured her it would not occur again. Seven accepted his apology. I then attempted to get Crewman Holson to follow his friends example, as did Crewman Geran, but he refused on the basis that Seven was a Borg and he would not apologize to her. He then attempted to leave and I contacted you, when he attempted to leave again I restrained him.”

In a tight voice the Captain said, “Tuvok will you escort Crewman Holson to my ready room. Crewman Geran, Seven and Arana, you will accompany me to my ready room please.” Her tone did not make it a request but a polite command and I admired her handling of the situation.

An almost simultaneous “Yes Captain” came from the three of us and it was all I could do not to smile. Lt. Cdr. Tuvok escorted Crewman Holson out of the mess hall while the Captain and Crewman Geran waited for Seven and I to dispose of what was left of our dinners. Then the three of us preceded at a quick pace though the ship. I got a brief glance at what Seven identified as the Bridge before we stepped into what I assumed was the Captain’s Ready Room as Lt. Cdr. Tuvok and Crewman Holson were already present.

The Captain took a seat behind the desk and looked at me, “Now if you would repeat what you heard Arana.”

I repeated Crewman Geran’s words to her and watched as controlled anger became apparent on her face at the crudeness of them. I then told her of Crewman Holson’s comment about not apologizing due to Seven’s Borg past.

I was surprised that through all this Crewman Holson had remained silent with a defiant look on his face. I had expected him to verbally protest his innocence, in my experience young men like him seemed to think they had the right to say whatever they wanted about someone they felt they were justified in loathing.

“Seven do you have anymore details to add?” the Captain asked after I was finished.

“About this incident? No, Captain, Arana was thorough in describing what happened.” Seven answered.

I caught the slight emphasis on the first phrase and wondered if this had not been the first time Seven had overheard these two discussing her. The thought made me clench my jaw slightly and give the two crewmen a narrow eyed glance.

The Captain was looking at Seven appraisingly, “Have you overheard any similar discussions by either of these two crewmen Seven?”

Seven shifted slightly showing her unease, “Yes, Captain. Crewman Holson frequently has such discussions involving such speculations when I am present.”

I noticed Captain Janeway’s face turn from moderately angry to icily furious and I was sure that my face mirrored the emotion. Crewman Geran gave both of us a frightened look and tried to shrink into himself, and Crewman Holson had paled and was starting to look nervous at the revelation.

In an ironclad voice of command the Captain asked, “How long has this harassment been going on Seven?”

I noticed that Crewman Holson flinch at her phrasing right before Seven answered, “It started six months and thirteen days after you separated me from the Borg Captain.”

The Captain looked at her and opened her mouth for a second then shut it, “You and I will discuss why you didn’t bring this to my attention earlier later Seven.”

“Yes, Captain,” came the uncertain reply. I felt sorry for her but I understood what the Captain was feeling. One never liked the feeling as a leader that a disciplinary problem of this nature had been ongoing for so long without anyone informing you.

“Seven, Arana please wait outside. Seven you can take this opportunity to show Arana around the Bridge,” the Captain ordered us. I bowed to the Captain and Seven nodded and then we left the ready room as ordered. I approved, it was seldom productive to discipline someone publicly. I had been forced to do so twice while I was serving as the Senior Knight in charge of training, and it had been a difficult matter for me to decide both times.

Chapter 6

Seven began showing me around the Bridge and greeting what she termed the "beta shift personnel". Seven first named the various stations and then proceeded to give a very basic description of what the person serving at the station did. Having seen how confused technical explanations left me, she choose her words carefully as she explained the stations to me

Finally Crewman Geran left the ready room. He looked a bit pale but nodded politely to us as he left, leading me to believe he had probably received a through dressing down but not an unduly harsh punishment. Seven and I were standing near the Science station as she looked over what she called the "sensor readings". From her description, these sensor readings provided information about the ship's surroundings.

Crewman Holson came out of the Captain's ready room escorted by Lt. Cmdr. Tuvok. I sighed, recognizing from the man's smoldering, resentful gaze that he was more than willing to blame us for his situation rather than himself.

Seven glanced at me as I gazed at his retreating form, followed by that of Lt. Cmdr Tuvok. "You regret your actions in the mess hall, Arana?" I turned to her and saw the uncertainty in her eyes.

"No, Milady. I do not; such churlish behavior cannot be tolerated, especially among a closed community such as this ship. I sigh because the young man cannot accept that he was the cause of his own failing, not you or I. Such a lack of acceptance and the hatred he continues to bear you is very damaging to his soul," I explained "as well as preventing him from changing his behavior."

Seven looked thoughtful at my words. "You are concerned for Crewman Holson, then."

I smiled at her, "I am concerned with his well being, yes. I am, after all, a priestess as well as a paladin."

Seven nodded sharply, acknowledging my words but, I thought, resistant to them. Undoubtedly she would like to continue seeing Crewman Holson in a purely negative light given the history between them.

"I am also concerned with your well being, Seven. Being the object of that type of behavior is… well, unsettling is probably understating the negative emotions that you are feeling as a result of his actions."

"While I find his comments offensive and juvenile, Crewman Holson's opinions mean nothing to me," Seven replied coolly.

I searched her eyes wondering if her words were true, and saw perhaps the barest flicker of doubt in them. If the words had hurt her, she had the emotions deeply buried.

Just then the Captain appeared in the doorway to her Ready Room. "Seven, Arana." She motioned for us to enter and we strode over and entered the room behind her.

"Crewman Holson has been confined to his quarters for a week for breaking Starfleet regulations," Captain Janeway stated. "What I want to know is why you didn't bring his behavior to my attention earlier, before I had to place an official reprimand for sexual harassment in his file, Seven."

"Captain?" said Seven uncertainly, obviously not expecting Janeway's reprimand.

"Seven, you are aware that you are supposed to inform the Captain or First Officer of instances of harassment, correct?" asked Janeway.

"Yes, Captain," Seven replied in a monotone.

I could tell from the tiredness about the Captain's eyes that it had been a long day for her. Though mine had been more devastating, I at least, had the advantage of a few hours sleep; I doubted she had gotten any yet. Currently she was giving Seven a tired, frustrated look; and I gathered that Seven's tone traditionally heralded a less than forthcoming exchange between the two.

Tentatively, I spoke. "Perhaps it would assist the Captain if you explained…," I paused searching for the correct word to get Seven to open up, "concisely why you felt it was not necessary to mention such behavior to her."

Two sets of eyes responded to my question; both of them, I thought, seemed thankful for the diversion.

"Comments about my attire, my mammary glands, and my body shape are relatively commonplace. I would have to report several crewmembers under the Starfleet guidelines. My studies of humanity indicate that this course of action would only increase the prejudice the crew displays toward me," said Seven.

I made an assenting sound, remembering how hard it was for the half-orc squire who had been one of my trainees, not to mention my own experiences with discrimination.

"You have a comment to make, Arana?" inquired the Captain.

"Yes, Ma'am, Seven's comment reminded me of the difficulties I had when I was the Senior Knight in charge of training. There was a half-orc squire among the recruits. While he did not have the problems with sexual harassment Seven does, he did have problems with being harassed due to his father's race."

"Orc?" inquired the Captain curiously.

"Admittedly a usually warlike and savage race," I said. "The recruit in question was the result of an orc war party that attacked his village. During the raid his mother was raped by one of the war party. Usually such children are killed before birth by the mother through the use of certain herbs. His mother, however, decided to keep her child and I am pleased that she did so. The young man is a credit to the Order of Torm; in all his actions there is gentleness and consideration for others. He did not have an easy time of it early on in the order though."

I could clearly detect the curiosity in the Captains gaze now, and was not surprised when she asked, "So what did you do?"

"Judging others by their race or their social standing is frequently the way of things in my world. However, it is unacceptable behavior in a Knight of Torm. I and the other training Knights spent a week observing the recruits, noting who the ringleaders and instigators were in the young man's treatment. The following week we began each morning reciting the Code of Behavior expected of a Knight followed by a run in full armor and weaponry."

I could see the Captain wince at my comment of full armor and weaponry and I paused a moment to smile slyly. "As we stated to them, it was our hope that the pounding would help the words move from their brains into their hearts. To assist in this, we repeated the words at full volume in the instigators' ears during the runs. After a week, several of the ringleaders had decided that the Order was not the place for them, and the ones remaining had experienced a change of heart." I paused again, then mused, "Perhaps the fact that it was a rainy week and the roads were muddy played a part in their decision making."

At this the Captain gaped at me for a moment, then closed her mouth and gave me a measuring look. Finally her mouth twitched and I could see the amusement in her eyes. "I don't doubt that it did. Unfortunately those training methods are not available to me, and in this situation I think it might actually be counter-productive as it would most likely exacerbate the hostility. However, it does give me an idea."

The Captain continued, "I think it's time I reminded everyone about the relevant Starfleet regulations dealing with the treatment of fellow crewmembers. Apparently quite a few of them have forgotten that Starfleet takes a very dim view of harassment."

Seven had been looking thoughtful throughout our conversation, now she spoke up. "Captain, for some time now, I have been considering experimenting with different styles of clothing. When you first separated me from the collective the esthetics of clothing was irrelevant to me; I simply wore the bio-suits that the Doctor designed. However, I have started to appreciate the appeal of ascetics lately, and I find the design of my bio-suits quite…lacking."

I saw the captain smile at the last word, matching the smile that had appeared on my face as well. I suspected that the majority of the crew would have used a word that was far less polite.

Seven lifted an eyebrow at our smiles and continued. "I believe an added benefit of different clothing would be to reduce the amount of improper comments directed at me, as I have noticed that the form fitting nature of my bio-suits seems to elicit most of this commentary."

The Captain rubbed the bridge of her nose, "Seven, you don't have to change your clothing just because a few members of this crew have forgotten what constitutes acceptable behavior for Starfleet personnel."

"I am not proposing this solely because of this incident. As I said, at first what I wore was irrelevant to me. However, that is no longer the case; the situation is merely an additional reason to begin my experimentation at this time instead of at some point in the future." Seven hesitated and then continued, "The bio-suit technology allows me to function more efficiently. I would prefer to incorporate the technology into whatever I decide to wear."

Captain Janeway nodded. "Do you have any ideas as to what kind of design you want for your bio-suit?"

Seven hesitated for a moment before admitting, "No, I have not decided upon a design yet."

"Ok, how about a jumpsuit over your biosuit? Since the bio-suit essentially has to be against your skin to give any benefit why not just use it as an undergarment and use a jumpsuit over the top?" the Captain asked.

Seven considered her question for a few moments. "Depending on the fabric of the jumpsuit, that should not decrease the efficiency of the biosuit."

The Captain turned in her chair to look at a square object attached to the desk; I realized that it was the same as the one located in my quarters. The Captain had described its usage to me earlier in the day and had called it a console. She tapped out commands on it for a few minutes, then turned the screen around so that Seven and I could see it. Upon the screen was a picture of a uniform similar to the one all the crew wore except that it was entirely black. The garment underneath was white with teal piping around the collar, instead of the grey the crew wore.

"This is a uniform commonly worn by civilian scientific staff on starbases and starships," Captain Janeway commented.

Seven examined the picture and the information displayed along side it. "The modifications you have made in the structure and material will allow me to wear the item over a bio-suit. You also changed the design of the bio-suit to look like a standard undergarment," she acknowledged approvingly.

Captain Janeway looked at Seven thoughtfully for a moment. "If you want to start studying for a provisional commission, I would have no objections to you wearing one of these." She touched her own uniform.

Seven shook her head, "I am not interested in joining Starfleet at this time; the civilian jumpsuit will be acceptable."

Captain Janeway examined her for a few moments longer then nodded briefly. She turned the console around again and spent another few moments tapping away at it. Finally she stopped. "I just authorized the modifications to the standard uniform and authorized you to wear it," she informed Seven. "I also transferred the replicator pattern to the replicator in Cargo Bay 2, and, since I noticed you have access to Arana's quarters, to her replicator as well."

The Captain hesitated for a moment and gave Seven an undecipherable look. "Perhaps we need to revisit obtaining quarters for you, Seven." She held up a hand as Seven opened her mouth, forestalling whatever Seven was about to say. "I know the Cargo Bay is the best location on the ship for your alcoves; I think there are other issues that need to be considered, though, besides convenience. But we can discuss the matter at another time."

Suddenly there was a chime at the door similar to the one I had heard earlier in the day when Seven arrived at my quarters. The Captain looked over at the door. "Enter.". Lt. Tuvok and another man entered the room. The new person wore black and red like the Captain; he was an older male, thicker about the shoulders and trunk than Lt. Tuvok, with a distinctive tattoo above his left eye. He held himself alertly, and I could tell he was a warrior. Whereas the Captain radiated energy, he seemed to hold his tightly inside him.

He looked me over curiously for a moment, then held out his hand. "You must be Champion Arana; I'm Commander Chakotay, First Officer of Voyager."

I reached out and grasped him firmly by the forearm; he looked slightly startled at my action, but it quickly vanished and he gripped my forearm in return.

I restrained myself from bowing to him after he released my forearm, contenting myself with a respectful nod. "I am honored to meet you, Commander Chakotay."

He nodded to me, "I look forward to speaking with you further, Arana."

The Captain broke in, "Seven, Arana, I need to speak with Chakotay and Tuvok about this evening's events. Seven, if you would make sure Arana finds her quarters I would appreciate it."

Seven nodded in answer and I replied, "Good evening Captain, may your rest be peaceful. Gentlemen, may yours be peaceful as well."

"Thank you, Arana," replied the Captain with a small smile.

We left the Bridge and headed toward my quarters. Along the way, Seven mentioned that Voyager had four other separated Borg aboard. One, a teenage boy, had been designed by his parents as a weapon against the Borg. He had originally been placed back with his parents, but Seven had found out they were lying about how he had been taken by the Borg. Voyager had returned to find that Icheb's parents had already placed him in danger, and had just barely been able to save the boy and itself from being assimilated. After his parent's actions, the Captain had given Icheb permission to stay on Voyager permanently.

The other three children were younger, and the Captain was hopeful that they would be able to reunite them with their families. I could tell from Seven's tone that she was not particularly happy about this; but I gathered that she was resigned to it. I hoped for the children's sake that their parents were more deserving than Icheb's had been.

By this time we had arrived at my quarters, and Seven followed me inside, continuing her discussion of the Borg children. Currently the children were 'regenerating,' a term Seven quickly explained was their equivalent to sleeping, and which to some extent also provided energy to them that reduced the amount of solid food they needed to ingest.

By this point my internal clock was informing me it was late in the night, and I could not suppress a yawn of tiredness. Embarrassed by the action, I apologized to Seven, "Milady, please excuse my rudeness."

"You are tired and need to sleep," Seven stated. after looking at me for a moment. "I should check to make sure the children are regenerating properly and complete my analysis of the sensor data from today."

I grinned at her ruefully, "I look that tired do I?"

"Yes," Seven answered shortly.

I chuckled, "I will take your advice and sleep then. I look forward to starting my studies tomorrow with you and Lt. Tuvok. What time should I arrive at the mess hall for breakfast?"

"The Borg children and I eat at 0700 hours… If you do not mind their company, we could arrive at your quarters at 0650 and you could accompany us," Seven finished somewhat hesitantly.

"I am honored by your invitation, Milady. I look forward to meeting Icheb, Metozi, Azan and Rebi on the morrow."

I received a slight smile at this, most likely because I had remembered the children's names. Seven stepped forward and stared intently for a moment at my face; I was puzzled but held my silence, wondering why she was examining me so closely. "Your eyes were green earlier, now they are green with gold pigmentation," Seven stated.

I nodded, "My father was a moon-elf and I inherited them from him. I have heard from others that the gold flecks in my eyes disappear when I am extremely fatigued or injured, which is doubtless why you did not see them earlier in the day."

I could see the curiosity in her eyes but after another long look, she simply nodded and said, "Have a good night, Arana," and turned and left my quarters.

"Good night, Milady," I said to the closing doors.

Exhausted I sat down on the bed and thought about what the Captain had said earlier about how to dim the lights. "Computer, dim lights 100%." Obediently the lights set in the ceiling went dark and I was left with the dim light from the window. I sat for a while looking at the streaking stars and tried to comprehend the speed of our passage through space. "Computer, current time?" I asked.

"Current time is 2200 hours," came the reply.

"Computer, wake me up at… 0500 hours." In the dark I removed my doublet and laid it on the ledge above me, and then removed my boots and placed them on the floor beside the bed. I remembered the Captain had said something about replicating clothing to sleep in, but I was used to wearing a shirt and breeches to bed. Finally I laid down in the bed trying to get used to the conforming softness of it, at some point I fell asleep.

Part 7

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