DISCLAIMER: This fan fiction story was written solely for the entertainment of the readers and is not for profit. All characters, including the Starship Voyager, are property of Paramount Pictures Corporation. The sole intent of this story is to enjoy the characters created by the Star Trek Franchise and to expand the program’s fanbase. The producers have given me a great deal of enjoyment with their programs and I hope that my stories can add something back to the Star Trek universe. I write stories borrowing their characters for the enjoyment of the fans and in turn hope to offer them a larger viewing audience. No copyright infringement is intended and this is not for profit of any kind.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Lisa Countryman


B’Elanna Torres looked across the mess hall and sighed. Seven of Nine was sitting at a table drinking her nutritional supplement. She was alone, again. B’Elanna stared, noticing the subtle crinkling around Seven’s eyes as she put the glass down and a brief flash of sorrow, or perhaps loneliness, crossed her face. It was replaced with her cold Borg exterior in an instant. B’Elanna swallowed as her own loneliness hit her like a phaser blast. She had refused Tom’s proposal a month earlier and had broken up with him. Only Tom would think that asking her to marry him in the middle of a race was romantic.

B’Elanna looked back over at Seven and she smiled as she remembered the talk they had shared when Seven had thought she was dying. It had been a wake up call for B’Elanna as well; she realized that all of her antagonistic behavior toward Seven had been because she was so like the Borg. That realization had been difficult, but not half as difficult as the realization that she was attracted to the former Borg. B’Elanna smirked as she let her eyes travel up and down Seven's body. The mess hall was mostly empty, and those who were present were busy watching Neelix as he tried to flambe Cherries Jubilee. He had already scorched off one of his yellow sideburns and the crewmembers were placing bets on how long the other one would survive. Suddenly Seven turned and caught B’Elanna staring.

Seven locked eyes with the young Klingon. Her ice blue eyes flashed with a fire fueled by her fear of scrutiny, but then a different fire flashed…desire. Seven looked away and stood. She hurried from the room, leaving her nutritional supplement on the table only half-consumed.

B’Elanna felt her heart pound as she wondered if the arousal she had seen was real or just some projection of her own feelings. She stood and took her own half-eaten meal to the recycling unit. Of course Seven couldn’t have been aroused, B’Elanna knew. It wasn’t that she didn’t think Seven had feelings. She had seen the depth of her emotion that day in engineering. Seven had been near tears when she spoke of being forgotten. ‘How could she ever think that?’ B’Elanna wondered. Seven was the most memorable person she had ever met. She sighed and went back to her quarters.

Seven hurried to her alcove and stood in front of the Borg technology. It was a tangible reminder of her isolation. It set her part in so many ways. It made her stronger than the rest of the crew and yet it stripped away bits of her humanity. She was too strong, at least physically. The Borg had given Seven a keen mind capable of thousands of calculations per minute, and a body stronger than anyone else’s on board, able to bend deck plating, but her Borg upbringing failed her where it mattered most. Seven didn’t know how to feel. Of course she had feelings, but she had no idea how to process them. She had learned to deal with hurt and loss, perhaps too well. She had lost all of her children except Icheb. Her first son, One, had given his life to save Voyager. It was a noble death, choosing to leave Seven for the greater good. Her other children, Mizoti, Rebi. and Azan had left her as well. They chose to live on a small planet with the survivors of Rebi and Azan’s scattered race. They chose to leave Seven for their own good. Seven wondered if anyone would ever consider her the greater good.

She accessed her private data and pulled up an encrypted file. She smiled despite her sorrow and touched the screen. The image was of the young chief engineer, B’Elanna Torres. She was beautiful and brilliant and Seven thought that they had shared something in that time in engineering. B’Elanna had hidden her from the Doctor and then asked her to stay when Seven knew she hadn’t really needed any assistance. Seven frowned. She had hoped that the Klingon would talk to her once they were alone again, but she had gone back to her office and left Seven to suffer in silence. B’Elanna Torres could not love a drone, that much Seven knew. She turned off the image and climbed into her alcove. As the green lights flickered over her head she hoped that she would not dream of her lost children and unrequited love. It was a futile wish. Every time she regenerated, B’Elanna Torres filled her dreams, and the dreams always ended the same way. B’Elanna would leave just like everyone Seven had ever loved.

"Captain, we are approaching a small planet," Tuvok said.

"What?" Janeway stood and turned to face the dark skinned Vulcan. "In a dark matter cluster?"

"Yes," Tuvok said calmly. "And it is inhabited."

Janeway raised both eyebrows and a glint appeared in her slate blue eyes. "I wonder what kind of culture would develop in a completely dark environment?" she asked as she rubbed her chin.

"They are warp capable," Tuvok said.

"How can you tell?" Chakotay asked.

"Because they just launched two small ships. They are heading this way at the equivalent of our maximum impulse," Tuvok explained. "They have warp engines."

"Yellow alert," Janeway said as she leaned back in her chair. "Send greetings in all known languages, all channels."

"Aye, ma’am," Harry said from ops. His eyes widened. "They’re hailing us."

"On screen," Janeway said calmly.

"Alien vessel, we are the Cula, please state your purpose in our space," the pilot said in a deep, rich voice. The screen flickered and a dark cockpit filled the screen. The pilot could only be seen in the shadows cast by his dim instrument lights. He lifted his hand to cover his eyes.

"I’m Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager. We’re just passing through." She smiled warmly. "We mean no harm."

"Very good," he said. "Would you like an escort through Cula space? Our dark region can be unsettling for light dwellers. It’s easy to get disoriented."

"Actually," Janeway said slowly. "I wonder if we could meet with your people." She heard Chakotay shift in his chair but ignored him. "We’ve never met anyone who lived in a dark matter cluster and I must admit, I am a bit intrigued."

"Of course." The pilot laughed, deep and lyrical. "Our First Minister shares your curiosity. He is always inviting light dwellers to visit. Allow me to contact him." The screen flickered and the outside view returned. The two small Cula ships were almost impossible to see in the pitch-black space. The ships were made of a black material that seemed to absorb the light from Voyager’s running lights creating pockets of dense darkness.

"Captain, is this wise?" Chakotay asked.

"We’re explorers," Janeway said as she stood. "We have the chance to meet a unique species and I for one am not going to pass it up." She tapped her com badge. "Senior staff to briefing room one." She tapped her com badge again and looked over at her First Officer. "You’re the anthropology buff. Don’t you want to see how a culture develops without any light?"

"Darkly?" he asked sarcastically as he stood.

"Harry, you have the bridge. Tuvok, you’re with us." Janeway headed toward the briefing room.

"I have never heard of a species called the Cula," Seven said from her seat at the end of the conference table. "Nor have I ever heard of a species living inside a dark cluster."

"I wonder what kind of technology they use for power?" B’Elanna asked as she leaned forward. "We know it can’t be solar."

"We’ll find out soon," Janeway said. "I want everyone to look over the data the Cula sent us. It’s a detailed description of their languages, customs, myths, and history as well as the philosophies of their nine major religions."

"And what did they ask for in return?" Seven asked. The implant over her left eye raised slightly.

"They asked for our language databases and our historical data, and anything else we thought might help them learn about us," Janeway said. She smiled. "Sounds like they are just as interested in us as we are in them."

"Predictable," Seven said as she scanned the data padd.

"What?" Chakotay asked.

"All of their religions speak of the light as being the seat of evil." Seven looked up. "I believe they are afraid of the light."

"Makes sense," Chakotay said. "We fear the dark because we thrive in the light."

"How will we see them?" Seven asked as she continued scanning the files.

"What do you mean?" B’Elanna leaned over and looked at Seven’s padd. She had chosen the seat next to the beautiful Borg to avoid staring at her. Experience had proven that when she sat across from Seven, she would get distracted. She would find herself staring into the abyss of Seven’s eyes and couldn’t find any motivation to climb back out.

"Here," Seven said. She pointed at the padd. "This describes their planet as being dimly lit. It says that the only natural lighting comes from the bioluminescent algae that grows on all of the vegetation."

"How do the plants grow?" B’Elanna asked. She gently gripped Seven’s fingers and pulled the padd closer.

Seven swallowed and tried to steady her breathing before she could speak. "The planet emits low-level gamma radiation that feeds the plant life." She stared at B’Elanna, noticing the way her ridged brow wrinkled as she concentrated.

"Is it dangerous?" Chakotay asked.

"Not in these levels," B’Elanna answered. She continued holding Seven’s fingers and reached over with her other hand to click through the information. "We can handle exposure to it for a few weeks without any cellular damage. It will, however, scramble holographic signals."

"And just where did you get your diploma, Doctor Torres?" The holographic doctor sighed dramatically. "I won’t diagnose your warp core and you stay out of the medical field."

"Is she right?" Janeway asked as she shot the Doctor an icy glare.

"Well, yes," the Doctor admitted. "But I am the Chief Medical Officer."

"I won’t charge you for the consult," B’Elanna quipped.

"Enough," Janeway said. "Let’s get an away team together." She looked around the table at the eager faces and shook her head. "We can’t all go," she said with a wry grin. "B’Elanna, Seven, I’ll need your technical expertise. Tuvok, we’ll need security, and Doctor, well, we need a medical advisor, but with that gamma radiation, you won’t be much good. Looks like Mister Paris will be going along for the ride."

Chakotay cleared his throat.

"Commander?" Janeway asked.

"I am the resident expert on alien societies," he pointed out.

"Indeed?" Seven asked. "How many cultures are you familiar with? I have the stored cultural practices of twenty two thousand four hundred and eighty nine civilizations."

"Umm." Chakotay blushed.

"After we make first contact, we’ll see about bringing you down to the surface," Janeway promised.

"Yes, ma’am," Chakotay said quietly.

After a brief discussion with First Minister Darmon, Janeway agreed to come down by shuttle. The gamma radiation made transporters dangerous and it also would also disrupt the com signals. Darmon was a charming man with a rich, smoldering voice. He even made sure to talk to Voyager from a well-lit room. He wore small goggles to protect himself from the bright light and apologized for not showing his eyes. He explained that the Cula culture considered eye contact a necessary show of respect. He also explained that he was unaccustomed to dealing with bright lights and that they hurt his eyes. Janeway graciously asked him if her away team should wear night-vision goggles so that they could adapt to the Cula world without asking their hosts to use artificial lighting. He declined, saying that his engineers were working on the problem.

They flew the Delta Flyer down to the Cula homeworld and parked on a vast lawn in front of the First Minister’s estate. The Gamma radiation made ship to ground communication impossible, so Tuvok was careful to keep Janeway well in sight at all times.

"It’s beautiful." B’Elanna spun to take in the full effect of the dark planet. The ground cover and all of the abundant plantlife gave off a slight greenish blue glow making the world look like it had been bathed in moonlight. "It’s like a fairytale," B’Elanna added as she touched one of the broad leaves. It sparkled as a tiny shower of shimmering dust floated to the ground. "Fairydust," she whispered.

"You must be careful." Seven moved alongside her and took her hand. She examined the glowing dust coating B’Elanna’s fingers with keen interest. "You might have been injured." She tried to ignore the heat radiating off of the Klingon’s skin but finally decided that it was hopeless. B’Elanna’s Klingon physiology put off more heat than anyone Seven had ever met and the warmth intrigued her. It also aroused her but she would never admit that.

"Greetings Voyager," Darmon said as he walked gracefully across the lush grass. He moved like a cat, his muscles poised and graceful, and his eyes quickly darted over each of the away team’s faces. He approached Janeway and bowed, clasping both of his hands to his chest. "Most humble greetings, Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Starship Voyager."

"Thank you," Janeway said. She smiled and waited for him to rise.

Seven finally released B’Elanna’s hand and moved to Janeway’s side. "Most humble are we to be greeted by such an honored host," Seven said smoothly. She bowed until her face was parallel to his and then stood up as he did the same.

Darmon laughed and smiled at Seven. His eyes sparkled, and even in the dim lighting, it was obvious that he was a handsome man. He had jet black hair and sharp, rugged features that looked completely human. "Welcome," he said with another dip of his head. "I am most impressed," he told Seven. "We are required to use the ancient greeting. Most travelers are unable to decipher the ancient texts. Your computer linguistics must be impressive."

"I did not use the computer," Seven said as she looked over at Janeway.

"Seven is our own linguistics program," Janeway said smoothly. "Thank you for having us, First Minister."

"Captain, I am an old man. You are doing me a tremendous favor by visiting and letting me meet enchanting people." He looked over at Seven and raised his eyebrows. "It helps pass the dark cycles."

"Perhaps we can enchant each other," Janeway said.

B’Elanna glared at the alien. She didn’t like the way he was leering at Seven. B’Elanna had excellent night vision, courtesy of her Klingon side, and she did not like the hungry look Darmon gave Seven.

"Come, let us go inside." Darmon extended his elbow to Janeway. She linked her arm through his and they went toward a large black building twenty meters away.

"You don’t like him?" Tom asked as he moved next to B’Elanna.

"I didn’t say that," B’Elanna responded. She slowed her pace and waited for Seven and Tuvok to catch up.

Tom sighed and hurried to catch up with Janeway.

"You do not like Darmon," Seven said as she fell into step with B’Elanna.

"He was leering at you," B’Elanna said curtly. "I didn’t like it."

Seven raised both eyebrows.

"Don’t be so full of yourself," B’Elanna snapped. "I’m just looking out for my crew." B’Elanna blushed.

Seven’s implant caught every nuance of B’Elanna’s expression in the bluish lighting. She wondered if it was anger that darkened the Klingon’s cheeks or if it might be something else. She sighed and pushed that thought aside. B’Elanna couldn’t be jealous because she didn’t think of Seven that way.

The away team felt much more comfortable once they were inside the great hall. It was lit with soft reddish-orange lamps. The light allowed them to see clearly and it didn’t seem to bother their hosts.

"First Minister, thank you again for this wonderful greeting," Janeway said as she sat at a long table. There were glowing flowers decorating the black linen tablecloths and tiny specks of light would float to the table when someone walked past.

"It is our pleasure." Darmon cleared his throat and dipped his head. "I would now like to introduce the commander of our Sacred Guard, Natash." He held out his arm and a stunning young woman walked over to him and took his pale hand. "She is also my daughter," he whispered proudly to Janeway.

"Sire," Natash whispered as she smiled shyly. She was almost six feet tall and had jet black hair and emerald green eyes that sparkled in the red lighting, and she had a figure that rivaled Seven’s. She looked over at Janeway and bowed. "An honor, Captain Janeway." Natash’s voice was sexy and low, more like a purr than speech.

"The honor is mine," Janeway said. "This is my crew." She turned and Tom Paris bumped into her trying to get to Natash. "This is Ensign Paris, my helmsman and medic," she said as she gave Tom a look that warned him to keep his libido in check. "And Commander Tuvok, my chief of security." She pointed to the Vulcan. "And Lieutenant Torres, and Seven of Nine."

"I am charmed," Natash purred. She nodded to each member of the crew politely, but when she got to Seven, her eyes lingered. She walked away from Janeway and moved closer to the former drone like she had missed lunch and Seven was dinner. "Seven of Nine?" Natash asked with a crooked smile.

"Yes," Seven responded. She linked her hands behind her back and tilted her head to one side and studied the woman in front of her. She found Commander Natash quite striking. Seven blushed.

"You are like the other Humans, but you have these adornments." Natash reached up and stroked the implant on Seven's cheek.

Seven’s eyes widened as her pulse quickened. Only B’Elanna’s touch had ever caused that kind of reaction before.

"I thought it might be facial jewelry," Natash said quietly as she leaned in closer to Seven. "But now I see that it’s Borg."

Seven nodded, unable to remember how to speak. Natash’s fingers traced the starburst implant. There was no fear or revulsion in her eyes and Seven had the urge to lean into the beautiful woman’s touch.

"What do you know about the Borg?" B’Elanna moved forward and actually bumped Natash back.

Natash smiled at B’Elanna. "My apologies, I did not mean to offend." She clicked her heels and bowed to Seven and then B’Elanna. "I was curious and did not mean to interfere." She pinned B’Elanna in her gaze. "How long have you two been mated?"

B’Elanna’s mouth dropped and she heard her blood rushing through her veins. If Kahless were listening, he would have heard the young Klingon’s prayer asking him to strike her dead so she wouldn’t have to look into Seven’s eyes.

"We are not mated," Seven said bluntly. "Voyager’s crewmembers are repulsed by anything Borg."

"Have you encountered the Borg?" Janeway asked from behind Natash. She made a note to talk to Seven and ask her if someone on the crew had said something to upset her. Seven wasn’t usually so open when speaking to strangers.

"Once," Natash said casually. She turned and smiled at Janeway. "They were persistent. Several of our people ended up with implants after the encounter."

"I would like to meet them," Seven said.

"My dear, that was two thousand years ago." Natash frowned when she saw the look of sadness cross Seven’s face. She picked up Seven’s Borg hand and gently squeezed it. "Perhaps you would like to read their tribal tales?"

B’Elanna had the sudden urge to grab Natash and punt her across the room. She felt a growl rising in her throat but she clamped it down. She flinched when Natash looked over at her and the Cula commander’s eyes narrowed. Natash had heard the half-growl.

"What are tribal tales?" Janeway asked.

"Each family keeps a record of its members. They record their lives. We value heritage above all else." Natash smiled. "I would be happy to show Seven the tales for the assimilated Cula.

"Daughter," Darmon said quietly. "Do not meddle in the affairs of others." He narrowed his eyes and glanced over at Seven. "If this young woman wishes to explore our tales, then I will have a historian assist her."

"I would enjoy your daughter’s assistance," Seven said sincerely.

"Very well." Darmon dipped his head and then looked over at Janeway. "Captain?"

"Tuvok, go with them," Janeway said. She noticed the sad look in Darmon’s eyes.

"Why don’t I go with them," B’Elanna offered. "I mean… you are the captain. Tuvok shouldn’t leave you unprotected."

"I’m sure you and Mister Paris can baby-sit me," Janeway said with a smirk. She didn’t like the hostile energy B’Elanna was aiming at Natash and the last thing she wanted was a brawl in the Cula’s library.

"Seven?" Natash bent her arm and offered Seven her elbow.

Seven smiled briefly and linked her arm through Natash’s. She shivered when she felt how cool the Cula woman’s body was but decided that it made sense considering they had evolved without any sun to warm their world.

Darmon cleared his throat as he led Janeway back to the table. They sat and talked, comparing notes and answering questions. The Cula were an open and friendly people and Janeway found Darmon’s lyric voice captivating. He seemed equally charmed by her, laughing and clapping his hands when Janeway told him about the sunburns she had endured as a child. He explained that as a child he had often got glitterburn from swimming in the warm springs that were common on his planet. The Cula homeworld was dotted with hot springs that helped warm the planet with vast stores of geothermal energy. These hot springs were teeming with bioluminescent algae and could cause a slight rash if you were exposed too long. Janeway laughed until tears ran out of her eyes when Darmon told her about Natash’s first glitterburn and how she ran naked through the Parliament building. It had taken six guards and four senators to catch her. Natash had been six years old.

B’Elanna wasn’t charmed. She spent her time pouting as she milled around the room or stood near the Captain with a protective scowl covering her dark features. When she heard Darmon talk about Natash she went to get some punch.

"I apologize for my daughter. She is young and doesn’t hide her affection well," Darmon said as he watched B’Elanna leave. He had picked up on the Klingon’s jealously as soon as the away team had arrived.

Janeway stared at him, her jaw gone slack.

"Perhaps she hides it better than I thought." He smiled and sipped his punch. "Golden hair is very rare on our planet," he explained. "And Natash has always been smitten with it. Besides, your Seven seems very intelligent, another attractive quality."

"Your daughter… likes Seven?" Janeway looked at the door where Natash had taken Seven.

"She is most honorable," Darmon promised. "We do not allow offworld couplings. Natash is enjoying a harmless flirtation. She would never take it further."

"Seven doesn’t know that," Janeway said dangerously. "Seven has no experience with romance and a harmless flirtation might hurt her more than you can know." Janeway sighed as she remembered the look on Seven’s face when Natash had stroked her implants. The captain had mistaken it for surprise, but now, she realized it had been arousal.

"I believe your officer is as interested as Natash," Darmon said slowly.

"That’s the problem," Janeway said. "I should go get her."

"You are only here for a few hours, what could happen?" he asked innocently.

"Seven isn’t known for her patience. She sees something she wants and she takes it." Janeway raised both eyebrows. "What would that do to your rule forbidding offworld couplings?"

"Couplings?" B’Elanna asked. She had two glasses of punch in her hands, which she promptly dropped. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"There seems to be a bit of a cultural misunderstanding," Janeway said. She cringed when Tom walked over sporting a huge grin.

"Did you see the way Seven was checking out that Natash woman? She’s hot." Tom noticed Darmon standing next to the captain and the helmsman had the good grace to blush. "Sorry, but your daughter is beautiful."

"She is," Darmon agreed. "But she also knows the dangers of interspecies mixing. She would never endanger your crewmember."

"Endanger?" Janeway felt her heart rate double. "What are you talking about?"

"Our species cannot mix with others," Darmon explained. "It has unexpected results, especially with humans."

"You’ve met humans before?" Janeway demanded. "Why didn’t you tell us that in the first place."

"We thought you knew," he said honestly.

"When? Where?" Janeway asked.

"In the old time," Darmon said. "Before the great wormhole collapsed."

"Wormhole?" Tom’s eyes widened.

"It was at the edge of our space," Darmon said. "It led to a system full of light. Most of our explorers were too frightened to go into such evil. The last one who did disappeared and we never heard from him again."

"Well, who was he?" Tom asked.

"He was Cula’s greatest pride and greatest shame." Darmon’s voice dropped. "He explored many worlds, but he was taken over by greed and then hate. His beloved was killed and he went mad. He was Lord Dra of Cula."

"Dra of Cula?" Janeway asked. Her eyes widened. "How do your people feed?"

"Like any other. We eat." He pointed to the fruit lining the tables.

"Do you drink blood?" Janeway asked.

"Blood?" B’Elanna yelled. "Geeze, are they part Klingon?" she asked with a disgusted sigh. She hated the bloodletting heritage she came from.

"Only during mating," Darmon said. "And that is where the problem lies. Our bonding has rather unpleasant effects on offworlders."

"Dracula?" Janeway said, feeling like a fool for even thinking such things were possible. "Did he mate with offworlders?"

"Yes," Darmon said. His eyes showed his shame. "And much sorrow followed in his path."

"You’re vampires?" Tom grabbed his neck and jumped back.

"Are you saying that you just sent Seven off to be some interstellar vampire’s next meal?" B’Elanna growled and ran for the door.

"She would never mate with your crewmember," Darmon said as he hurried after B’Elanna.

"I’m not willing to take that chance," Janeway ran after B’Elanna.

"Don’t leave me here all alone!" Tom yelped. He ran toward the door, dodging the pale skinned Cula guests.

"Fascinating," Tuvok said when they entered the vast hall of records. He went to the data banks and opened the files and saw family records going back tens of thousands of years.

"Help yourself," Natash said with a smile. "Seven? I think the records you want are back here." She led the former Borg to a smaller room off to one side. "These records are of the adorned ones," Natash said. "They were a distinguished tribe."

"Indeed?" Seven sat at the large wooden desk and accessed the files. She touched the screen and smiled when she saw the images come up. Three men and two women were in the first image; all had Borg implants marring their faces. She opened the file and her smile widened. "She was known as Four?"

"Yes," Natash said as she leaned across Seven’s shoulder to open another file. "She was a great leader. She helped bring peace to our world."

Seven felt a rush of warmth spread through her body where Natash’s breast brushed across her arm. "Do you desire me?" Seven asked in a shaking voice.

"Very much so," Natash said as she knelt next to Seven and took her hand. "But it cannot be." She kissed Seven’s palm and her eyes slid shut. She inhaled the clean scent of Seven’s skin.

"I am drawn to you," Seven whispered. She reached out and cupped the dark haired woman’s cheek. "How can this be?"

"My people have a somewhat hypnotic effect on those we are most suited for," Natash said sadly. "It speeds up the initial bonding and fuels the flames of desire."

"If we are most suited for each other, why can we not be together?" Seven asked logically. She looked into Natash’s eyes and heard their hearts beating as one. She tilted her head and wondered how this could be. She was Borg. She did not suffer from human frailties like attraction. ‘Except for B’Elanna,’ her heart whispered.

"B’Elanna?" Natash whispered.

"Are you a telepath?" Seven asked. She wasn’t surprised or angry, just curious.

"No," Natash said slowly. She rolled her head on her shoulders to relieve the tension building there. "Only with our Bloodfire mates." She looked into Seven’s eyes and reached up and traced her jaw. "Never with strangers."

"Then how do you explain this?" Seven climbed out of the chair and knelt beside Natash on the floor. "I am drawn to you," she whispered as she leaned forward, wanting nothing more than to taste the other woman’s lips.

"I am descended from the Borg in our history," Natash said. Her mouth was dry and her eyes lidded. "Perhaps that is the bond." She dug her hands into Seven’s hair and released it from the tight bun. "Seven?" she whispered as she leaned forward and pressed her body into the former drone’s. "You must stop me. This is wrong."

Seven’s eyes flashed and she saw the caged desire behind Natash’s eyes. She would never see that look from B’Elanna. Pain and passion mixed as Seven leaned down to capture Natash’s lips. She moaned as she felt Natash’s cool mouth open and her tongue caressed Seven’s lips.

"We should stop," Natash said as she pulled back and rested her forehead against Seven’s. "I feel the Bloodfire."

"And I want to feel it," Seven whispered. She looked into Natash’s eyes and felt drawn, like Natash was the Borg queen beckoning her, except Seven came willingly.

Natash shook her head as she felt her body burn

Seven leaned down and kissed Natash’s neck, whimpering when she felt the Cula woman’s flesh warming beneath her touch.

Natash stood, and picked Seven up in her arms as if she were a feather. She placed her on the table and climbed on top of her. Their kisses deepened and both women began moaning in ecstasy.

"I want to feel the Bloodfire," Seven whispered. She wasn’t sure what it was, but if it involved more of the bone-melting kisses, she wanted it.

Natash growled. She was dueling with her body’s need for the woman on the table under her and the knowledge that it was wrong. Yet, it felt so right. She already shared Seven’s thoughts. That could only mean that they were a true match. Besides, she rationalized, the ancient texts said that the assimilated Cula were immune to the change. Surely Seven would be as well.

Seven slid her hand under Natash’s shirt and smiled when she found the Cula woman’s skin hot to the touch. Her fingers made their way up until they moved across Natash’s nipples. Seven groaned as she felt the peaks stiffen in response to her touch.

Natash closed her eyes as she felt the Bloodfire flare. She shook as she began kissing Seven’s throat. All rational thought left and only the Bloodfire beast remained. She opened her eyes and looked down at Seven and smiled.

Seven quirked a brow at the woman leaning over her. Natash’s eyes had changed from green to gold and she had sharp fangs replacing her incisors.

"I do this to you?" Seven asked in a shaking voice. She ran her hands through Natash’s hair and arched up into her heat.

Natash nodded. ‘It does not frighten you?’ Natash asked with her mind.

‘You show me your arousal,’ Seven answered in her mind. ‘No one has ever wanted me before.’

"Then they are fools," Natash whispered. Her blood boiled and she leaned down and bit Seven’s delicate throat. She was careful to barely break the skin and not leave a bruise. She suckled from her neck, her heart pounding with Seven’s. Seven tasted slightly metallic, and Natash knew it was the Borg nanoprobes she had read about in the ancient texts. She smiled knowing they would protect her lover.

Seven’s mouth fell open, but no sound escaped. She felt like she was flying, soaring into the clouds. She moaned as Natash eased back and kissed her. She tasted her own blood but it didn’t seem strange. She looked into Natash’s golden eyes and pulled her closer. "Will you love me?" Seven asked. She had never dared to ask that of another, not even B’Elanna who she had thought held her heart. She looked into the golden eyes above her and she was lost.

Natash ripped her uniform top open, baring her abundant cleavage. She leaned down and rubbed her breast across Seven’s lips.

Seven took Natash’s nipple and drew it into her mouth. Passion overpowered her and she rolled over, pinning Natash to the table.

"Are you certain?" Natash pushed Seven up and snarled.

Seven nodded, her eyes lidded.

Natash took her razor sharp thumbnail and slit a small gash across her breast.

Seven fell forward and drank from her lover. She was aware of some distant call of her heart whispering B’Elanna’s name, but the pounding of Natash’s pulse drowned it out.

"How could you let them go off together?" B’Elanna yelled as they hurried across the dark grass.

"Natash knows the rules," Darmon assured her. "Besides, your Seven of Nine would not just fall for a stranger would she?"

"No," Janeway said. "But she was acting strange. Do your people have any… telepathic ability?" Janeway felt ridiculous asking, but she had just met a species of vampires, so she figured she should ask.

"Only with our Bloodfire mates," Darmon said. His eyes widened. "Natash’s mother is descended from the Borg tribe."

"And?" B’Elanna yelled.

"And… that may act as a bond." He broke into a run. "Your people do not handle the change well," he said as he ducked under a tree branch.

"Would Natash break your law by bonding?" Janeway asked as she sprinted

to keep up with him.

"If her body goes into the Bloodfire she will not have a choice," he said grimly.

"If she touches Seven…I’ll kill her," B’Elanna said as she ran alongside Darmon.

"If they bond… you may have to kill Seven," Darmon said. "We control the change. In humans, the change controls them." He stopped as they came to the front of a huge black marble building. "Perhaps her Borg physiology will protect her," he said as he opened the door and saw Tuvok leaning over a computer screen.

"Captain, this library has the most detailed family histories I have ever encountered." Tuvok looked up from the screen on his table.

"Where’s Seven?" Janeway demanded. She put her hand on her knee and leaned her weight on her arm trying to catch her breath.

"She and Natash went to the ancient text room." He stood. "Seven went of her own accord."

"That’s what we’re afraid of," Janeway said. "You and Tom go back to the shuttle and get ready for take off. Hurry!"

Darmon ran to the back of the library with B’Elanna on his heels. He opened the huge doors and stopped in the threshold.

"Natash!" he yelled. "No! Daughter, what have you done?"

"Seven?" B’Elanna shoved him aside and felt her heart run cold. Seven had her biosuit pulled down around her waist and was kissing Natash. Natash’s shirt was on the floor next to the sturdy table. Seven had the Cula woman pressed to the table and was running her hands over the other woman’s exposed flesh with skilled familiarity.

Seven lifted her head and spun. She hissed at the intruders. Her human eye had turned gold and she had sharp fangs that glistened in the dimly lit room. Her lips were deep red, kissed with Natash’s blood.

Natash sat up, but didn’t bother to cover her exposed breasts. Her gold eyes flashed dangerously. "Leave us," she growled and then bared her fangs. "We are in the bonding."

"Like hell you are!" B’Elanna jumped onto the table and grabbed Seven’s arm. She yanked with all of her strength but Seven batted her aside like a bothersome fly. "Seven, get away from her," B’Elanna begged.

Seven turned on the table and arched her back. "She will be my mate," Seven said dangerously. "You do not want a Borg," she added and then hissed.

Janeway came through the doorway and stood next to Darmon. "B’Elanna, get away from her."

"I won’t leave her." B’Elanna shook her head and moved closer.

"Go back to the helmsman." Seven lunged forward, her bare breasts bouncing as she gripped the edge of the table.

Natash sat up and climbed off of the table and she pulled her shirt over her head and intercepted B’Elanna. "You need to leave," Natash said as she fought to contain the beast within. She closed her eyes and when she opened them, the irises had returned to green. "Please leave us. We are meant to be together."

"No," B’Elanna said, her voice cracking.

"Seven, you need to come back to the ship." Janeway tried to see some hint of the Seven that she knew. The only remnant of her Seven was the one blue eye. It was an artificial eye that the Doctor had designed to match her human one. That human eye was now bloodshot and the iris was gold.

"You can’t have her," B’Elanna said as she moved closer to Natash.

"She is already mine," Natash said. She closed her eyes and inhaled as she sent out a call to Seven’s mind.

Seven climbed off of the table and swaggered to Natash’s side. "You called, my mate?" She draped her arms over the dark haired woman’s shoulder and kissed her neck. She moaned and slowly licked Natash’s skin and then nipped the pale flesh with her new fangs.

"She’s controlling you!" B’Elanna yelled.

"Let us take her back to Voyager," Janeway said slowly. "If she wants to come back after our Doctor checks her out…I’ll let her go."

Natash and Seven smiled as their eyes locked.

"You can’t do that!" B’Elanna spun and glared at Janeway. She turned back just in time to see Natash lean over and give Seven a smoldering kiss.

"Bastard!" B’Elanna grabbed Natash and shoved her to the floor. She leapt onto the stunned Cula woman and grabbed her by the throat. "You did this to her. You can’t have her."

Seven lifted B’Elanna off of Natash and carried the Klingon over to the wall and pinned her with her feet dangling above the floor. "You dare touch my mate?" Seven hissed and bared her fangs. "I will drink your blood." Her eyes narrowed and she inhaled deeply. "B’Elanna?" she whispered. For a moment her eye faded to blue, but in an instant it was back to gold. "You will pay," Seven said.

Janeway took in a shocked breath. Darmon gripped her arm and shook his head.

"If I have to leave you here, I don’t want to live," B’Elanna said calmly. "Go ahead and kill me." It was true, B’Elanna realized in that brief moment. She loved Seven. Leaving her on this dark planet would be worse than death.

Seven leaned down and inhaled B’Elanna’s scent. She ran her tongue along the Klingon’s throat and paused at the pulse point. "I have tasted your blood before," Seven whispered.

B’Elanna nodded and closed her eyes. She remembered when Seven had been taken over by various personalities during a bout of Borg multiple personality disorder. One personality had been a Klingon warrior who had tried to mate with B’Elanna.

"You do not want me," Seven whispered, her voice suddenly small.

"You’re wrong." B’Elanna swallowed. She felt Seven’s grip relax and her feet dropped to the floor. "I want you. I just didn’t know you could want me too."

"Seven?" Natash asked.

"Natash?" Seven spun and looked at the woman who had awakened her desire. Her golden eye focused on the beautiful woman and she edged toward her. She felt torn as the woman who reached into her mind beckoned her, yet B’Elanna had her own siren’s call. She looked back at the Klingon.

"Let us help you," B’Elanna whispered.

"She loves me," Seven said. She snarled, baring her fangs. "She is not afraid to touch me."

B’Elanna reached out and cupped Seven’s cheek in her hand. "I was afraid you wouldn’t let me touch you," she said in a quivering voice.

"She is mine!" Natash yelled. Her eyes shifted back to gold and she leapt toward B’Elanna.

"No," Darmon said. He moved faster than any cat and intercepted his daughter. "She is an offworlder. She does not belong to you. There is still time."

"Sire," Natash said in a whisper. "Our minds touched."

"She was Borg." He took his daughter’s hand. "She can hear the many voices. That is how she heard your heart’s call. She belongs to that fiery one."

Janeway said nothing. She had no idea what was going on between B’Elanna and Seven, but if it meant that Seven could get back to the ship and into sickbay, she would go along with it.

Seven put her hand over B’Elanna’s on her cheek. She closed her eyes and shook her head. "You cannot want me," she whispered.

"I do," B’Elanna leaned up and brushed her lips over Seven’s.

Seven eased back and opened her eyes. They were both blue. "Do not lie to me."

"Never," B’Elanna promised. She reached down and gently pulled Seven’s biosuit back into place.

Seven caressed B’Elanna’s cheek and turned around. She went to Natash and stopped in front of her. "I cannot stay."

"You felt the Bloodfire." Natash took Seven’s hand and kissed her palm.

"I felt it long ago on Voyager… many times," Seven said honestly. "Every time I thought of B’Elanna."

Janeway swallowed and thought she might faint. Seven had been bitten by an honest to goodness vampire and she was being pulled back to humanity by her love for the half-Klingon, B’Elanna Torres.

"Let her go, daughter," Darmon said sadly.

Natash locked eyes with Seven and their minds met. ‘You take my heart with you,’ Natash said, wrapping her thoughts around Seven’s mind.

Only part of it,’ Seven answered. ‘I leave part of mine here with you.’

Natash leaned up and slowly kissed Seven. She eased back and her eyes were full of tears. ‘Be happy,’ she told Seven in her mind.

‘And you…be happy as well,’ Seven responded with a thought. ‘Thank you for showing me passion.’

"You already knew passion," Natash said out loud. She looked over at B’Elanna. "Good luck." She walked passed the Klingon and out of the room.

"Let’s go home," Janeway said as she cleared her throat.

The Delta Flyer docked and Janeway watched as B’Elanna took Seven by the arm and helped her out of the shuttle.

"Did she get hurt?" Tom ask as jealousy covered his face.

"I am functioning adequately," Seven said slowly. She looked over at Tom Paris and realized that he had touched B’Elanna, known her in ways that Seven had only dreamt of. Seven growled and ran her tongue over her teeth. She was surprised to find that her fangs had returned.

"You okay?" B’Elanna asked. She stopped Seven and looked into her eyes. "Oh, man, we need to hurry," she said as she saw Seven’s human eye turning gold.

"What is it?" Janeway asked as she came alongside the two women. "Oh, dear lord, let’s go." She grabbed Seven’s other arm and pulled her down the corridor.

"She needs two women to carry her?" Tom asked.

Seven ripped loose and spun around. She leapt through the air and grabbed Tom by the neck and rode his body to the deckplating. She had her fangs bared and was leaning down to silence him forever.

B’Elanna and Janeway grabbed the fanged Borg and pulled her off of him by her arms.

"She’s one of them!" Tom yelled. "She a freaking vampire!" He backed away, scurrying across the floor, and bumped into Tuvok’s legs and squealed.

"Since she appears to be a vampire," Tuvok said casually. "Perhaps you should refrain from angering her."

Seven hissed as B’Elanna and Janeway pulled her away.

The Doctor was singing a medley of his favorite operas when the doors to sickbay opened. "Ah," he said happily. "Come for your post mission check up?"

"Get over here and help her," B’Elanna yelled.

Seven’s eye had returned to normal but her fangs remained. She looked around the room wanting to flee. She wanted to taste the coppery sweetness of blood.

"What is the nature of the medical emergency?" the Doctor asked as he went to get a tricorder.

"She… was bitten by a vampire," B’Elanna said.

"Oh, of course, I should have guessed," the Doctor said with a snort. "Will the mummy be joining us for dinner? I suppose Mister Paris is a werewolf?"

"Doctor!" Janeway said with a chill in her voice.

"Oh, all right." He turned and sighed dramatically. "Was it the famous Count Dracula or just one of his many minions?"

Seven smiled dangerously revealing her razor sharp fangs.

"Oh dear," the Doctor said. He took step back. "Well, the Borg decorations weren’t good enough? You had to do a little creative dentistry?"

Seven hissed.

"Well, that’s a new look for you," he said as he moved closer. He scanned her. "There’s an antigen running amok in her bloodstream. It’s stronger than her nanoprobes," he said, alarm filling his voice.

"Do something," B’Elanna yelled.

"I’m fresh out of garlic," the Doctor snapped. "What do you suggest I do?"

Janeway looked at Seven and sighed. "B’Elanna, you seem to have a calming effect on her…"

"Ha! Since when?" the Doctor interrupted.

Janeway glared at him.

"Sorry," he said contritely.

"Maybe the Cula can help," B’Elanna suggested. She ran her hand through Seven’s hair. It was still down, and it was falling wildly over her shoulders.

Seven looked over at B’Elanna and licked her lips. Her human eye turned gold and she felt her pulse quicken. She growled deep in her chest and leaned toward the Klingon with a hungry leer.

"That doesn’t look very calming!" the Doctor said as he pointed at Seven.

B’Elanna swallowed as her heart pounded, answering the need in Seven’s gaze. Her breath caught as she felt the heat radiating off of the former drone.

"Maybe you should wait outside," Janeway suggested. "I don’t think we need two vampires on board."

B’Elanna glanced over at Janeway with a confused look.

"I know that Klingons bite when they are… feeling enthusiastic," Janeway clarified.

"I would never bite her," B’Elanna said indignantly. "Not all Klingons do that sick crap!"

Seven leaned down and licked B’Elanna’s neck and snarled. The Klingon’s knees buckled and she grabbed Seven’s shoulder to hold her back.

"Apparently the amorous Borg doesn’t have any objections to a few love bites." The Doctor scanned Seven. "It seems those alien cells are starting to divide. I think she’s going to get a whole lot more vampy any second now."

"Do something," B’Elanna said. She moaned as she felt Seven lean into her.

"I will do something," Seven whispered huskily.

"Doc, I think you’d better hurry," B’Elanna whispered. She was drawn to the warmth of Seven’s body and their breasts were pressing together in a delicious melting of flesh.

Seven’s eyes narrowed and she gently cradled B’Elanna in her arms. "Join me, my mate," Seven whispered.

B’Elanna whimpered, drawn into the call of Seven’s eyes. She almost thought she could hear Seven’s words inside her mind but she dismissed that as insane. "Seven," B’Elanna whispered. She stood on her tiptoes and closed her eyes wanting to taste Seven’s lips. "What the hell!" B’Elanna yelled as she was yanked away.

"I think it’s time we quarantined you two from each other," Janeway said. She pushed B’Elanna toward the other side of the room.

Seven twisted her head around and hissed at Janeway. "You cannot keep her from me. We will become one." Seven pushed past the Captain and pulled B’Elanna closer.

Janeway looked at the Doctor. "A forcefield would be a nice idea."

"Oh, yes!" he quickly went to the control panel. "B’Elanna, get her over there."

B’Elanna pulled Seven toward the safety of the enclosure at the far side of sickbay. "Come on, Seven…I’ll be right with you."

"In every way?" Seven asked with a smirk. Her fangs edged out from under her lips. She ran her hand down her chest and lifted one breast toward B’Elanna and squeezed her nipple.

"Um…" B’Elanna forgot was she was going to say. Her eyes were drawn to the savage display of sensuality. She had never seen Seven express herself sexually and the wanton behavior took her breath away.

"Seven," Janeway barked. "You are not yourself. Get over to that biobed and leave B’Elanna alone." Janeway almost rolled her eyes. ‘I am scolding a six foot Borg Vampire,’ she thought with a shake of her head.

"She is to be my mate," Seven growled dangerously, but some part of the former drone remained. She moved toward the biobed.

"Whatever," Janeway said. "Just get over there."

The door opened and Tuvok came in with Darmon. The Cula statesman was wearing black lensed goggles that obscured his eyes.

"We may have a solution," Tuvok said. He held up a vial of green liquid.

"What is it?" the Doctor asked. He moved closer and rolled his eyes at Darmon. "Count Dracula, I presume? Is this your doing?" He pointed to Seven.

"No," Darmon said, clearly confused. "I am First Minister Darmon. Though… I do feel somewhat responsible for this.

"Well, we don’t have all day." The Doctor held out his hand. "Our resident Borg seems to be going into heat."

"Hey!" B’Elanna yelled at the hologram. She inhaled deeply when Seven grabbed her from behind and kissed her neck.

"Do not let her bite," Darmon cautioned. "If she takes the blood of another, we will not be able to help her."

"Thanks for the news flash," B’Elanna said as she squirmed out of Seven’s hands. It took every ounce of strength to pull away from Seven’s body. B’Elanna was drawn to press against the soft curves of the woman she had so recently admitted loving.

"Make her drink this," Darmon said. "It will purge my daughter’s blood from her body."

"Vampire snake oil?" The Doctor scanned the green liquid.

"It’s made from complex protein strands programmed to seek out my daughter’s DNA," Darmon said. "Why would I use a snake for that?"

"Well, he’s no Dracula," the Doctor sneered. He nodded as his tricorder confirmed what Darmon had just said. "It might work," he announced. "Frankly, it’s the best chance we’ve got." He walked to Seven and held out the vial. "Down the hatch."

Seven bared her fangs. "I will not." She reached out to B’Elanna. "I had no emotions the way I was. Join me, B’Elanna, and we will be one."

"I’m sure that’s a tempting offer," the Doctor said. "But I think Lieutenant Torres enjoys her sunbathing."

"Will the sun hurt Seven?" Janeway asked.

"My people have no protection from the solar radiation," Darmon said. "The more Natash’s blood takes over Seven’s body, the less she will be able to tolerate the light." He tapped his goggles.

"Fine, then hurry up and drink it," the Doctor ordered.

Seven hissed at him.

"B’Elanna?" the Doctor looked over at the Klingon. He handed her the vial. "She seems to be eating out of your… hand." He raised an eyebrow and leered at her neck where a hickey was forming.

"Give me that." B’Elanna moved back to Seven’s side. "I need you to drink this." She smiled at Seven, though she cringed inside. The one gold eye was quite distracting.

"I need to drink you," Seven purred. She yanked B’Elanna closer and kissed her.

B’Elanna started to struggle but Seven’s lips just felt too good. She whimpered and rested her hand on Seven’s breast with the vial still in her grip.

"Do not let her infect the other," Darmon said.

"B’Elanna," Janeway said. "B’Elanna! Could you try to focus?" Janeway had to turn away; watching the two women in a heated embrace was more than she cared to deal with.

B’Elanna pulled away, whimpering when she saw the desire in Seven’s eyes. "Drink this for me, please," B’Elanna begged. "I can’t stand the thought of someone else’s blood in your veins." She felt her heart lurch. She knew that once Seven returned to normal, she would never look at her with such hunger.

Seven licked her lips and then nodded and took the vial and drank it. She closed her eyes and held B’Elanna to her chest and shuddered. "B’Elanna," she whispered. Her legs gave out and she slumped to the floor.

"Doctor!" B’Elanna yelled.

"What did that do to her?" Janeway demanded.

"It is as it must be," Darmon said solemnly.

"You poisoned her! You said that if a human was infected they had to be killed, so you poisoned her, you bastard!" B’Elanna dropped to her knees and pulled Seven’s head into her lap.

"She’s not dying," Darmon said. "But my daughter’s blood is. She has to have the blood purged by fire."

"Vampire pon far?" the Doctor asked. "Okay, B’Elanna, beat her up like you did Vorik."

"I won’t fight her." B’Elanna caressed Seven’s cheek.

"Well you’re not doing anything else with her," Janeway interrupted. She wasn’t about to condone a Klingon-vampire orgy on the sickbay floor.

"She need only comfort her," Darmon explained.

"Oh," B’Elanna said. She frowned and ran her fingers through Seven’s hair.

"You sound positively disappointed, Lieutenant." The Doctor scanned Seven. "The alien cells are dying."

"Get her to the table," B’Elanna said. She helped the Doctor lift Seven onto the nearest biobed and waited.

Three hours later Seven was resting in sickbay. Darmon had left and Janeway was on the bridge. The Doctor was in his office trying not to watch B’Elanna holding Seven’s hand. Seven’s coloring had returned to normal, but she had not opened her eyes yet.

"Okay, so I’m gonna’ tell you this now, since once you wake up you’ll probably hate me again." B’Elanna took Seven’s hand and kissed each knuckle. "I know you were acting the way you did because of that bite, and I don’t hold it against you. I just wanted you to know that if you ever decide you want to…you know… give me a chance… I will be waiting." She carefully placed Seven’s hand on the silver blanket. "I can’t offer snazzy fangs or animal lust, but I will be yours."

"I do not want fangs," Seven whispered. She opened her eyes and smiled. "As for the animal lust, I think you underestimate yourself." Seven blushed.

"That beautiful blue is back." B’Elanna whispered. She suddenly felt very vulnerable. "The Doctor did a wonderful job with that eye."

"My Borgness repulses you," Seven stated.

"No," B’Elanna said. "I just never realized how much you meant to me until you were gone."

"I apologize. I acted in a manner that was unprofessional," Seven sat up.

"You weren’t exactly yourself." B’Elanna cleared her throat and looked for the Doctor.

"Did you mean what you told me?" Seven asked.

"What?" B’Elanna asked.

"Do you want me…to be yours?" Seven tilted her head to one side. "It is all right if you were lying. I understand that you were trying to save my life."

"Why did you come back?" B’Elanna asked.

"Because, in my disoriented state, I mistook your attempt to save me as the truth," Seven admitted.

"I wanted to save you," B’Elanna said. "But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t true." She looked down at the floor.

Seven felt her mouth go dry. She tried to swallow but it felt as if someone had packed cotton in her mouth.

"You gonna’ say something?" B’Elanna asked as she looked up through her thick lashes.

"Would you like to join me for dinner?" Seven asked.

"You’re not planning on my neck being the main course are you?" B’Elanna smiled and her entire face lit up.

"Certainly not on the first date," Seven said with mock indignation.

"I’d like that." B’Elanna smiled.

"I am sorry you saw me with Natash," Seven said quietly.

"I’ll tell you what," B’Elanna said as she took Seven’s hand. "I won’t worry about your past if you won’t worry about mine."

"It is unfortunate that I did not rid you of your past while I was under the effects of the Cula blood." Her face was impassive but her blue eyes sparkled with mischief.

"I can’t wait until you’re better." B’Elanna ran her hand through Seven’s hair.

Seven tugged B’Elanna closer and gave her a quick, chaste kiss. "We have plenty of time."

"Forever?" B’Elanna asked as she pulled back.

"I gave up eternity with a vampire. The least you can do is offer me the same." Seven blushed.

"It’s the least I can do," B’Elanna agreed. She kissed Seven again and then pulled back and touched her cheek. "And then we can live happily ever after."

The End

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