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Can You Hear Me?
By SDerkins


Part 2

Lieutenant Tuvok took a sip of his herbal tea. A shadow fell across his PADD so he looked up, wondering who was disturbing him when he was obviously busy. Seven towered over him.

"Seven," he said simply. He was aware of the reports and was curious. "Do you care to join me?"

The tall woman nodded regally and sat down gracefully. Neelix quickly walked to the table and asked the astrometric officer if she wanted anything. She asked for green tea, thanking him politely. Mr. Neelix returned with the requested beverage and left.

Seven took a sip from her cup and sat quietly; content to share the silence and not fill the air with idle small talk. Tuvok studied her features. Seven looked the same as she always did but to his trained eye something was indeed different. Seven of Nine looked at peace. Seven was many things but serenity was not a term he would have used to describe the young woman.

"I understand you are attending sessions with one of the holographic counselors," he brought up without preamble.


Tuvok lifted one eyebrow. Seven wasn't known for chitchat but even that was much too brief.

"Do you feel you are benefiting from the prescribed therapy?" Seven smiled at him indulgently. Although he wasn't prone to whimsical impression he could sense her amusement. He recalled when his own grandmother had looked at him with the same veiled expression.

"Young man, the pursuit of truth can't easily be found with artificial wisdom. Perhaps the Captain should seek her own truth instead of asking for it from others."

Tuvok tilted his head and sat back, intrigued by being called 'young man'. As a parent to children old enough to wed he could not be considered youthful--especially to a human female less than thirty years of age at best.

Before he could ask another question Seven ended their conversation. "I have disturbed your work long enough. I was content to merely share your presence but you are yet to reach the age where silence is its own reward,' she shared mysteriously, patting his hand gently. Seven stood and strolled from the mess hall, leaving a befuddled Vulcan behind her.

Once he believed Seven to be far enough away to not hear his conversation he tapped his combadge. "Tuvok to sick bay."

"Yes, Lieutenant?" the EMH replied.

"I was under the impression that you were monitoring Seven of Nine's regeneration cycle this evening."

"Of course. I have her alcove's monitoring system on my screen now. Is there something the matter?"

"Seven of Nine just left the Mess Hall a moment ago. I suggest you and I meet at Cargo Bay 2 and investigate further."

"I'll meet you there in a few minutes, Lieutenant. Doctor out."

Both men stood there, staring at the former Borg as she was regenerating in her alcove.

The monitors and computer agreed that she had been there since 2153 hours and hadn't moved. The security cameras also showed her in her alcove the entire time.

The doctor let out a holographic sigh. "What do you think is the explanation?"

Tuvok placed his hands behind his back. "Logic suggests two possibilities. One, Seven has somehow falsified the information for reasons unknown. Two, if Seven is indeed in her alcove at the time of the unusual incidents then we have an intruder aboard. The Captain told me that she believes Seven when she disavowed all knowledge of the incidents. Therefore, I would follow the theory of an intruder for now. However, the alleged intruder's actions do not seem to be of a threatening nature."

"So we have a visitor who enjoys flitting about the ship and pretending to be Seven?"

Tuvok thought about it for a moment before replying. "Although I have yet to find a logical reason for its actions I must conclude that Seven's form is taken for a reason. But I do not believe the impostor is trying to convince people that they are indeed Seven of Nine. The behavior is too childlike with the exception of my experience with her. The Seven who joined me in the Mess Hall seemed…matronly."

The Doctor didn't know what to make of that description. He gathered up his equipment and suggested that they meet with the Captain first thing in the morning. Tuvok agreed but contacted the security head on duty and arranged for security to be posted outside of Cargo Bay 2. The intruder might seem harmless but he would still place guards outside of the bay. In the meantime, the remaining security teams would attempt to locate the intruder if it was still aboard.

"Tuvok, you could have at least given me a large cup of coffee before you sprung this on me," Kathryn bemoaned. She sighed once more and walked to the replicator and ordered an extra large coffee. She lifted the hot mug from the device and sat down at her desk once more. "So, tell me what you know," she ordered, her voice still rough from sleep.

The tactical officer related the previous evening's events and then offered his own opinions.

"Any working theories to why they chose Seven to emulate?"

"I do not have enough data to venture an opinion. There could be endless possibilities as to why they chose her and how it was done. But as I stated in my report, I do not believe the intruder or intruders dangerous at this time. However, the intruder did mention you and offered advice."

"Oh?" Kathryn leaned back slightly, her expression light.

"Yes. The exact words were, 'The pursuit of truth can't easily be found with artificial wisdom. Perhaps the Captain should seek her own truth instead of asking for it from others.'"

"Hmmm, in other words, why don't I ask the intruder questions myself instead of letting you and the doctor investigate?"

"That is one possible interpretation, Captain."

"Is Seven still in her alcove?"

"Affirmative. Her regeneration cycle ends in about forty-two minutes."

Kathryn stood up. "Then I suppose I ought to see if I can get some answers." She placed her mug on her desk and headed for Cargo Bay 2.

B'Elanna entered engineering early, hoping to get a head start on realigning the transporter coils. She just needed to fetch her personal tool kit before beginning. She entered the locker area and was surprised to see Seven there. Scattered tools and replacement parts surrounded her. A closer look let the engineer know that the parts had been taken apart haphazardly.

"What do you think you're doing?" she asked angrily.

Seven looked up and smiled. "Hello, B'Elanna." Seven stood and grinned happily, being pleased to see the Klingon woman.

B'Elanna ignored the greeting. She bent down and retrieved one of the delicate replacement parts that were now useless. "What in hell do you think you were doing? This is ruined!"

The happy expression instantly disappeared. "I was just playing. Please don't be mad at me," Seven asked tearfully.

B'Elanna tried to control her angry reaction. Several days ago, Captain Janeway had explained to the senior staff that perhaps Seven was having problems and to be patient with her. But damn it, she was making it hard to be kind. The hybrid woman gritted her teeth and tried to keep her voice calm.

"Look, Seven, you can't tear apart replacement parts and expect the engineering staff to be happy about it. Now we have to use precious reserves to replicate new parts."

Seven looked confused. B'Elanna wondered what the hell was wrong with her. She shouldn't have to explain this to her. The engineer glared at Seven in exasperation.

Seven sniffled. "You're mean. I don't know why she likes you so much. You're always yelling at her."

"What are you talking about?"

"You are always mad at Seven and she only wants you to like her. Why can't you be nice to her?"

B'Elanna looked at Seven. The Borg had finally lost it. She was babbling about herself in the third person. She needed to get Seven to sick bay and fast. She would have to humor her while getting her to the doctor.

"You're right. I have been mean. Why don't we go for a walk and talk for a while, hmm?" B'Elanna hooked her arm companionably around Seven's arm and led her out of engineering.

Outside in the corridor one of the members of security spotted Lieutenant Torres walking with Seven of Nine and informed Tuvok. The tactical officer told him to follow them and keep him informed. At his station, Tuvok had the computer follow the combadge of the engineer to monitor their movements. He then informed the Captain what was happening.

Kathryn was in Cargo Bay 2. She had attempted to speak with Seven while she was regenerating but had gotten no response. She stared at the young woman and wondered what was the imposter was seeking. She decided to intercept B'Elanna and Seven to get her answers.

The Captain asked the computer where she could find B'Elanna Torres and headed for her location. She spotted the pair walking slowly, heading for sick bay she assumed. She walked up to the young women and smiled.

"Hello, ladies. Do you mind if I join you?" Kathryn noticed a look of relief on B'Elanna's face.

"Not at all, Captain. Seven and I were just chatting."

Seven nodded happily, glad that the stern woman was being nice. She reached out her hand and placed her hand trustingly into Kathryn's.

"Where were you headed?" Kathryn asked casually.

B'Elanna shrugged. "No where really, although we might stop at sick bay. I have this annoying splinter that's bugging me," she improvised, holding up her forefinger.

Kathryn agreed and the three women headed down the corridor leading to sick bay. Once inside Kathryn suggested that B'Elanna find the doctor while she chatted with Seven. The engineer nodded and went into the office to activate the EMH.

Kathryn leaned against one of the biobeds and crossed her arms. "So, tell me about yourself," she said, her eyes kind. 'Seven' looked at her and didn't answer.

"I know you aren't our Seven. She's in Cargo Bay 2 in her alcove."

'Seven' squirmed. "You aren't mad at me, are you?"

Kathryn suddenly realized that the being in front of her sounded very young. She felt her maternal instincts kick in. "No, I'm not mad at you," she told her gently. "I just want to know why you're here."

"I'm just playing. We noticed your ship passing by and wanted to look around. We haven't had any ships go by in a long time and your ship looked really pretty."

Kathryn grinned. "Well, thank you. We kind of like it ourselves. So, are there others on board?"

"Yeah, lots of us but there's only one like Seven on board for us to play with. The others can only watch. We take turns when she sleeps."

"You need to use Seven to look like one of us?"

"Well, not exactly. Seven goes to sleep but she's different from everyone else on the ship. She doesn't dream. So we can use a tiny piece of her thoughts to make us like you."

"You use her?"

'Seven' looked perplexed, unsure why the older woman seemed upset. "We asked her if we could first. It's only polite."

"Seven doesn't remember any of this."

The imposter looked confused for a moment, trying to find words that the officer could understand. "Part of her knows. Maybe not the awake part but we asked and she said yes as long as we promised to be good," she explained.

Kathryn thought she understood. She spared a glance towards the doctor and B'Elanna who were listening from the doorway. "I think you mean her subconscious mind spoke with you. Most humans have many levels of awareness. Sometimes we don't always know what other parts of our brain are telling us. We call it intuition and gut feelings."

"Yes, that's what the words are. Are you mad at her for saying yes?"

The captain shook her head. "No, I'm not mad at Seven."

"Why do you call her 'Seven'? Her name is Annika. We think it's a pretty name. We wish she could play with us outside. She's very sad because she has so few friends on the ship," the imposture confessed tearfully. She looked over at B'Elanna and smiled. "Annika thinks B'Elanna would make a nice friend. I'm not sure of all her thoughts but she sometimes wishes she could get a hug. She thinks that would be nice."

The engineer fought back a sudden urge to cry. She didn't know Seven felt that way. All they did was argue. Maybe Seven didn't know how to approach her and picked fights with her for the attention. Sometimes bad attention was better than nothing.

The imposter yawned. "I have to go now. Annika is about to wake up. Good-bye." With that, the fake Seven faded and disappeared.

Kathryn and Chakotay sat at a table, discussing the morning's events.

The first officer chuckled. "Well, at least we didn't have to find an exorcist."

"True, but I was beginning to wonder about Seven's sanity. I'm glad it was something harmless. It was just children at the heart of the mystery."

Chakotay pointed with his chin. "Look at that. Will wonders never cease?"

Kathryn looked in the same direction. She saw B'Elanna place her hand on Seven's shoulder. She couldn't hear what they said but it seemed that the gruff engineer was asking to join Seven at her table. The astrometric officer was eating alone as usual.

Kathryn grinned. "Out of the mouth of babes," she whispered softly.

Part 3

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