DISCLAIMER: Star Trek Voyager and all who sail in her belong to Paramount/Viacom and no infringement of copyright/trade marks is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Stardate: 52668 (Note: events of Dark Frontier have occurred)
KLINGON WORDS: A glossary of Klingon words used can be found HERE
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Seven followed Altea and Jorunn out of the feast hall and back into the building she had bathed in earlier. Though it was late, it was still light outside, as the sun did not set till almost midnight during the summer. Thus the building was still dimly illuminated as they entered it.
Altea looked at the two of them and directed a stern look at Jorunn who quickly replied, "I won't, not after hearing her tale. I promise I won't take advantage of Annika, Altea. I suspect she wouldn't mind me holding her tonight though." The last was said with a questioning look at Seven.
Seven looked at the two concerned women then into Jorunn's eyes and saw gentleness and sympathy there. "I would like company tonight, Jorunn."
Altea came over and hugged Seven and then kissed her briefly on the cheek saying, "If I do not see you tomorrow, I hope everything turns out well for you Annika. You are a strong woman; you will find a way to defeat the Queen. I hope the people of your ship realize what treasure they have in you." With that she turned and left, leaving a bemused Seven.
Jorunn came over and wrapped her arms around Seven's waist and leaned her head against Seven's chest, tentatively Seven put her arms around Jorunn's waist as well and when Jorunn stepped closer and wrapped her arms tighter, Seven followed suit until they were pressed against each other. Seven closed her eyes for a moment and just absorbed the sensation; she had never been so physically close to another person before.
Jorunn felt very nice in her arms, Seven took a moment to analyze the two times she had been physically close to men and realized how different the two situations felt. She had also never been as aware of her body with a male, Seven tried to analyze what she was feeling. She was very aware of Jorunn's body pressed against hers, of her breasts pressed softly against her, of where her stomach, her thighs, her arms and hands rested against her. She had never been aware in this manner of Ensign Chapman or of the Doctor. They had simply been physical bodies that she was in close proximity too.
Finally Jorunn stirred and said, "We should go to sleep Annika."
Seven nodded and looked at the narrow cot in the dim room, wondering how the two of them would fit comfortably on it. Jorunn grinned at her and said, "Lie down and I will arrange myself around you Annika. It will be more comfortable than you think."
Seven pulled the fur and woolen blankets down and slipped into the bed lying on her back and then waited. Jorunn slipped into bed beside her and laid her head against Seven's chest, laying on one of Seven's arms as she did so and pulling the covers up against the cold night air.
Seven knew something of sleeping like this, she could faintly remember running into her parent's room on the ship and seeing her mother resting on her father like this. Seven turned slightly and using the arm beneath Jorunn pulled her closer and wrapped her arm around her shoulder.
Jorunn chuckled, her breath warming the hollow of Seven's throat, "You do adapt quickly don't you."
"I remember seeing my parent's like this," admitted Seven. "Now I understand why they liked to hold each other in this manner."
Jorunn gripped her tighter and Seven could feel her nod against her chest. Seven asked quietly, "I would like to kiss you again Jorunn."
Jorunn groaned and said, "Annika I promised Altea "
Seven said, "I did not agree to anything," somewhat petulantly.
Jorunn laughed, "You are not making this easy on me are you, very well but we stop when I ask Annika."
Seven smiled and said, "I believe the correct expression to say at this moment would be 'turn about is fair play'."
Jorunn pondered the unfamiliar saying and then chuckled, as she understood the meaning, "Very well then, I guess it is your turn to tease me."
With that she lifted herself up and raised her head and looked into Seven's face waiting. Seven paused a moment and brought her free hand up to touch her face, memorizing it. Then she slid her hand around the back of Jorunn's head and gently pulled her face toward her.
They kissed for several minutes; Seven learning many new things about what one could do with lips, and teeth. Finally they pulled back from one another both of them breathing slightly more heavily and Jorunn looked at Seven seriously for a moment then said, "I know I'm going to regret this but there is one more thing you might want to learn about kissing Annika. But we will have to stop soon or I will not be able to sleep tonight."
With that she brought her lips to Seven's again but this time she paused and with her tongue delicately traced the line of Seven's lips before pressing her lips against Seven's. Seven had stilled at the first touch, amazed at the sensations that it triggered. Her breathing and heart rate increased rapidly as did her body temperature and eye dilation.
All these increased yet again as Seven felt Jorunn's tongue press against her lips seeking entry into her mouth, reflexively Seven relaxed her lips and let Jorunn do as she wished.
Seven was surprised at the rush of arousal the feel of Jorunn exploring her mouth with her tongue produced, now she understood why Jorunn had said they would have to stop afterward, as it was Seven wasn't sure she would be able to fall asleep the way her body was reacting.
Jorunn pulled back and looked at Seven, "You are so beautiful Annika."
Seven pulled her back into another kiss, and practiced the technique Jorunn had just demonstrated to her. A groan from Jorunn rewarded her when she stopped and she could feel Jorunn's heart pounding against her. Both of them were breathing heavily and Jorunn lowered her head to Seven's chest again. Seven tightened her arms around her and they both concentrated on relaxing again.
"Annika, I I hope you find joy without sorrow. I want you to find happiness, you deserve it." said Jorunn.
Seven knew that Jorunn did not expect her to be there in the morning, this then was goodbye. "I want you to be happy as well. I will always remember you Jorunn, and everyone I have met. I will always be able to think of you and see you and remember everything."
"Everything?" asked Jorunn.
"As if it had just occurred," confirmed Seven.
"Describe to me when you first saw me," asked Jorunn.
Seven began to describe in painful detail the scene when she had first saw Jorunn and after a few minuets of it, Jorunn laughed and pleaded with her to stop. "I believe you, you see everything in your memory perfectly don't you? I have heard of one other person with a memory like yours, they could recite everything they had ever seen or heard.
Seven nodded and could feel Jorunn smile against her chest and they fell silent. In a moment Jorunn asked, "What do you feel for Kathryn Edwardsdottir?"
Seven wondered at the question, "She is as a mother to me."
"Ah, you sound as though you admire her greatly," said Jorunn.
"I do," said Seven.
"What was your father's name?" asked Jorunn.
"Magnus," answered Seven.
"So you would be Annika Magnusdottir," said Jorunn.
Seven shrugged, "I do not use my father's name."
Jorunn smiled against her and said, "Perhaps Annika Kathrynsdottir would suit you better?"
Seven thought and replied, "I would like that."
They stopped talking after that and their breathing slowed and evened as both of them slipped finally into sleep.
B'Elanna rolled over and glanced at the time, why was engineering calling her at 0400 hours? She found her communicator and tapped it answering, "Torres to Engineering this had better be good." The Ensign on the other end stammered out something about spatial and temporal distortion readings coming from inside the ship. B'Elanna woke up quickly at that point and asked if they had pinpointed the readings. The Ensign answered that he had not been able to contact Seven and Crewman Celes was on her way to Astrometics.
B'Elanna frowned, "Computer locate Seven."
"Seven of Nine is not in her quarters," responded the computer.
"Torres to Seven," B'Elanna opened a communications channel. Silence followed.
"Computer scan quarters of Seven of Nine for bio-signature," B'Elanna said.
"Bio-signature not present," reported the Computer.
B'Elanna was putting on her uniform at this point and paused to say, "Computer scan Voyager for Seven of Nine's bio-signature."
B'Elanna finished dressing and ran a quick brush though her hair and was headed out the door when the computer reported, "Seven of Nine Bio-signature not found on Voyager."
B'Elanna paused and tapped her combadge, "Torres to Celes."
"Celes here," came the response. "Is that distortion on Deck 9 Section 11?" asked B'Elanna.
"How did you know Lt. Torres? I just managed to narrow it to Deck 9," she responded.
"Seven's not in her quarters nor is she on Voyager, I suspect that this distortion is the cause," responded B'Elanna, and then closed the channel.
"Torres to Janeway," B'Elanna grimaced over waking the Captain but knew she would want to know what was happening.
The groggy reply came, "Janeway here."
"Captain, Engineering detected a slight special and temporal distortion and contacted me about it earlier. Crewman Celes has narrowed the source to Deck 9. I had the computer search for Seven since Engineering could not find her and she's not on Voyager. I suspect the distortion is the cause," explained B'Elanna.
She was standing outside of Seven's quarters and waited for the Captain to respond, "Go to Seven's quarters and wait there, Tuvok and I will be there in a moment."
"Will do Captain, I'll see what readings I can get from outside her quarters," answered B'Elanna.
B'Elanna had been taking readings and had noticed the distortions fading until they seemed to disappear. On a hunch she asked, "Computer scan quarters of Seven of Nine for her bio-signature."
"Seven of Nine is located in her quarters," came the reply.
B'Elanna grimaced, "Mulara," she muttered.
Tuvok came up followed by Janeway and Torres reported, "The distortions have faded and I had the computer scan for Seven again. She's back in her quarters. I strongly suspect Mulara had something to do with the distortion and Seven's disappearance."
Tuvok raised his eyebrow at this statement. Janeway looked at her appraisingly and said, "It wouldn't surprise me, I didn't really expect her to just leave Seven alone after what happened. Let's see if Seven knows the reason for the distortions."
Janeway rang the admittance chime to Seven's quarters and a few moments later Seven opened the doorway looking at them with an indecipherable look. She said, "Captain I appear to have been out of my quarters."
B'Elanna noticed that Seven was wearing her Mularan clothes, her hair was done up in a braid that was wound into a knot at the neck. It was an unusual hairstyle, but it looked good on her. Sniffing curiously she detected an odd fatty soapy odor drifting faintly from Seven, as well as the smell of blood? B'Elanna knew it was not Seven's, it didn't smell right, but where was it from?
Seven looked at her and said, "I am sorry for the odor, the last time I bathed I used a soap made from animal fat and potash. I will use my shower as soon as possible."
"Its not that, it's the blood I smell. It's not yours " said B'Elanna.
Seven looked down and lifted up a booted foot and examined the bottom, and indicated the tread. "I believe my boots are the source Lt. Torres, I stepped in some blood earlier."
Janeway looked at Seven oddly but didn't comment on the statement instead she said, "Engineering detected a spatial and temporal distortion coming from your quarters. Where were you Seven?"
Seven moved from the doorway and invited them in saying it might be better if they sat down while she explained and would they mind if she took a quick shower and changed clothes before she spoke to them? Janeway nodded her permission and they waited on Seven's couch while she took a quick shower. When she emerged from the bathroom she was dressed in her Starfleet uniform and was busy combing out her hair.
Seven sat down and began braiding her hair saying, "I thought I was experiencing one of Mulara's dreams, until I woke up and determined that physical evidence suggested that I had actually been to ninth century Norway."
"What type of physical evidence?" asked B'Elanna.
"Blood on my boots and pants which I had not cleaned off earlier, the residue of the specific soap I used, and my hair was as it had been braided and arranged for me. All of these along with your statement indicate that I was not dreaming but was actually physically there," responded Seven.
Seven related her experiences in what she identified as mid ninth century Norway, starting with her appearance on the hillside. She told of how she had decided to help the group of women and children, and of her battle with the raiders. Seven paused for a moment and then told them somewhat abashedly of how she had gotten wounded during the fight by one of the raiders.
At that point Janeway insisted that the Doctor come to Seven's quarters and make sure she was as fully healed as Seven thought she was.
Seven took the opportunity to comment to B'Elanna in a quiet aside that the blood she had smelled was likely from the raiders as the ground had become covered with it during the fight. B'Elanna glanced over at Janeway who thankfully hadn't heard the comment and caught sight of Tuvok's raised eyebrows.
B'Elanna was surprised at Seven's matter of fact acceptance of her killing. But then B'Elanna remembered the cold, angry look on Seven's face as she told Janeway that the raiders had planned to rape the women and kill the younger children and realized Seven had no regrets about the raiders deaths. B'Elanna thought frankly that she would probably not have felt any guilt about killing animals like them either.
B'Elanna glanced from Seven's Bat'leth to Seven wonderingly, she had never seen Seven sparring with the weapon, only doing her katas. Obviously Seven was more practiced than she thought since she had managed to take on ten experienced warriors and win. B'Elanna resolved to get Seven to describe the fight in detail later, she wanted to know exactly what moves Seven had used.
Seven continued her story as the Doctor transported over and upon being filled in about the nature of the injury, began scanning her. He commented on the amount of natural meat and alcohol she had consumed and with a comment about the wisdom of eating them, checked her for parasites as well. "Well if you had any your nanoprobes have already taken care of them as well as healing your injury," the Doctor concluded, "What did you eat anyway?"
Seven quirked her lips and replied, "Sea-trout, beef, pork, and red deer along with cabbage and onions and bread made from oats and barley. The dinner was more pleasant tasting than I had thought it would be."
"And the beverage?" he asked.
"Mead," Seven replied, "It was rather sweet. I did not get drunk from it Doctor."
"No you wouldn't get drunk, you might have been slightly affected by the alcohol though," the Doctor replied.
Seven looked thoughtful but did not argue further with him. Janeway inquired if he was finished and when he nodded she asked him to return to Sickbay. He grumbled but obeyed. After he departed Seven continued her story. She told them about the village, meeting Eric Haroldson, and the feast she had attended later that evening. Janeway paled when she related that she had told them about her past with the Borg and about Voyager and the events she had experienced.
"I'm sorry Captain, I thought I was dreaming. Dreams sent by Mulara are very vivid and difficult to tell apart from reality until you wake. I did not realize I was breaking the Temporal Prime Directive," apologized Seven. "I do not believe though that Mulara would have sent me there if it negatively impacted the timeline. Perhaps the information was quickly forgotten or the tale changed beyond recognition."
Janeway looked at Seven intently, "You may be right, they would not have been able to understand most of what you were talking about. Do you know why Mulara sent you to that time?"
Seven nodded and was silent.
Janeway said gently, "Do you want to tell us or should I talk to you alone?"
Seven sighed and said, "You would have to tell the senior staff what I learned anyway for the safety of the ship. The Borg Queen will not give up trying to reclaim me. I was sent to hear a statement made after I had told my tale. One of the men at the feast commented that the Queen wanted me to be like her, that she wished me to be her 'Heir' as he put it. The word is inaccurate, the idea however is not. I realized when he made the statement that he was in essence correct, I meet all the requirements to be one of the drones designated to take over the position of Queen if needed."
Seven watched as they stared first at her and then at each other after she had made the last statement. Tuvok spoke up then and asked, "What are these requirements?"
"That the drone be female and of sufficient intelligence, they must be assimilated by the Queen while immature and thus requiring time in a maturation chamber, and be capable of acting as an individual," said Seven.
Janeway said, "But you were not captured by the Queen were you? Where your parents were captured was along way away from the center of Borg space."
"Correct, Captain, my parents were assimilated when we were captured, I was not however. I remained unassimilated until we reached Unimatrix One and the Queen assimilated me," replied Seven.
Janeway said, "Why have you never told me of this?" in a slightly hurt tone.
"I did not remember it until I remembered everything after I died. Even then it was not clear to me until tonight, all of those memories are from before I was a drone, they are not like the memories that are stored in my cortical node," explained Seven.
Janeway nodded understanding and asked, "What do you remember from when your parents were captured?"
Seven though back and tried to remember, hesitantly she began. "I remember the drones materializing on the ship, they overpowered my father first and assimilated him, my mother was assimilated next as she stood in front of me."
B'Elanna noticed how Seven's body posture had changed, she was slightly hunched and her arms were crossed protectively over her chest. The Captain was trying to catch her eye but Seven was staring fixedly at the floor as she spoke, not seeing her concern. B'Elanna could tell the Captain was torn between maintaining her professional distance in front of them and comforting Seven whom, B'Elanna knew, she thought of as her daughter.
B'Elanna got up from where she had been sitting and went to sit beside Seven where she tentatively rested a hand on Seven's back. Seven paused and looked over at her in slight surprise. B'Elanna was prepared for Seven to reject her touch as she had never touched her in a friendly way in the past. B'Elanna was a bit ashamed to remember that the only time she had ever touched Seven was to push or pull her out of her way in Engineering. However, after an intent look, Seven said nothing but relaxed and even placed her hands back down on her thighs.
Seven was surprised by B'Elanna's touch, it reminded her of Jorunn when she had come to comfort Seven in the feast hall. Seven looked into B'Elanna's eyes, tying to discern what the woman was thinking but saw nothing except perhaps concern. Seven realized she had her arms crossed protectively and loosened them, carefully placing her hands on her thighs before continuing. "The Borg beamed us up to the cube and led us all to an assimilation chamber. Two drones stood on either side of me; I believe to make sure that I did not attempt to escape. The cube must have begun traveling into Borg space at that time."
Seven paused again not really wanting to remember the next part but forcing herself to continue, "Thankfully the sedative effect of the initial assimilation held and neither of my parents experienced any pain as they underwent secondary assimilation."
B'Elanna frowned trying to remember but Janeway was faster, "You were there while they were fitted with Borg implants?" B'Elanna noticed the horrified look on the Captain's face right before Janeway got up and moved to the other side of Seven and took one of her hands.
Seven glanced over at the Captain as she sat down beside her and took one of her hands. Seven smiled weakly at her and returned the pressure before continuing, "Yes, I did not know of course at the time what the implants were, I think I was in a state of shock at that point. The operation must have went on for an hour or more as they installed their optical, cortical and aural implants and amputated one of their arms and attached a Borg limb."
Seven paused and then continued, "When their secondary assimilation was completed they were sent to regenerate, I was allowed to sit on the deck nearby. I believe I slept for a time, when I awoke my father instructed me to stand and follow them. They lead me to where the Queen was located. I remember seeing her for the first time when she was lowered into her Borg body. I remember I was unsettled but not afraid. My parents were there and I knew they were drones now, they did not look at me but they were my parents and I found their presence reassuring. I believe that was her intent. She walked around me and told me that I was special; I was intelligent enough to have been brought to her instead of being assimilated by a drone. She then reached out and touched my cheek and raised my head and bended down, I remember noticing that her pupils were silver. She commented that she was impressed that I was not afraid, and then she assimilated me. I dimly remember being carried to the maturation tank afterwards and it closing over me. I remember nothing after that until I was released from the chamber twelve years later and received my designation."
Janeway examined Seven closely and asked, "Are you ok Seven? I don't think I would have asked you to tell all of us if I had known what all you had witnessed."
"I am ok, it is easier to speak of this since I have related it once already. When I realized I was one of the designated drones I became somewhat upset. Jorunn comforted me and reminded me I was free. I found that her assistance enabled me to recover quickly and without using my nanoprobes. Also, B'Elanna reminded me of Jorunn when she came over to offer comfort," said Seven thoughtfully.
B'Elanna was embarrassed about having it stated so clearly but she was also curious, who was the Jorunn that Seven mentioned. "Who is Jorunn? And what did she do?" asked B'Elanna curiously. From Janeway's interested look B'Elanna could tell that the question had been on the Captain's mind as well.
"Jorunn is was the daughter of Eric. She came over like you did Lt. Torres only she sat closer and placed her arm about my waist, she also held one of my hands like Captain Janeway is doing," explained Seven.
Both B'Elanna and the Captain blinked at one another and then looked at Seven. Janeway asked, "You were comfortable with her being that close?"
"Why would I not be?" asked Seven.
Janeway paused searching for a response and finally settled on, "You have always seemed uncomfortable with people touching you in the past Seven, it just surprised me when you described how Jorunn interacted with you."
"I was comfortable with Jorunn touching me after we discussed the parameters of how and why she was doing so," commented Seven with a slight flush to her cheeks.
Janeway stared at Seven, B'Elanna stared at Seven, Tuvok raised an eyebrow at the statement.
Seven listened to the silence and waited to see what would happen next, she did not particularly feel like talking about the things that had occurred between Jorunn and her yet, at least not in front of so many people. And she was feeling somewhat sad at the thought of not seeing Jorunn again; holding her in her arms as she fell asleep had been more than pleasant. It had chased some of the loneliness Seven always felt away, if only for a while.
Finally Janeway glanced at Seven and noticed that she was looking unhappy and decided not to press the issue with B'Elanna and Tuvok present. She would ask Seven later when they did not have an audience exactly what she had meant by that statement. And why bringing up Jorunn made Seven unhappy.
Janeway gripped Sevens hand and when she looked up smiled at her reassuringly. "Are you tired Seven?" she asked.
Seven looked at her oddly and said, "No I am not tired, I must have fallen asleep for awhile after Jorunn and I stopped talking. I will be able to function normally today."
Janeway smiled and said, "It sounds like you and Jorunn became good friends during the time you were there."
Seven considered this and replied, "I hope so I came to care for her and I will always remember her with affection. I told her I hope she lived a happy life." Seven paused and continued, "She wished that I would find joy without sorrow, and said that I deserved happiness." Seven looked at Janeway and asked, "Does that indicate friendship?"
Janeway nodded, "Yes that was a very caring thing for her to say. I believe you would not be wrong to call her your friend."
Janeway paused and then said, "Tuvok will you search the database and see if there is any evidence of Seven's visit? Lt. Torres, quick thinking in identifying what the anomaly was and why it occurred. I will see the both of you at the briefing later this morning."
B'Elanna and Tuvok knew a dismissal when they heard one and they both rose and left Seven's quarters leaving her along with the Captain.
After they had left Kathryn said, "I'm sorry Seven I shouldn't have had you describe that, I had no idea you had seen your parents be fully assimilated."
Seven nodded and then said, "I told Altea my name was Annika, I think I would like it if you called me Annika as well."
"Altea, Jorunn, Eric all these names, would you tell me about all these people you met Annika?" asked Kathryn.
Seven smiled and Kathryn found herself smiling back. "Jorunn said I should try to smile more, she said I looked even more beautiful when I did."
Kathryn looked at Seven quizzically, "She's right, would you like to tell me about her?"
Over the next hour Kathryn was by turns concerned, angry, then amused and finally she hugged Seven when Seven related their conversation after the last kiss. Kathryn asked, "So how do you feel about her Annika?"
"I am was not in love, maybe I could have been had I stayed longer. I came to care about her and I was very attracted to her," said Seven. "I feel lonely now though, falling asleep with her in my arms was comforting, I did not feel alone. I know I will feel alone tonight and I will miss her."
Kathryn looked over at Annika and saw slow tears roll down her face. Kathryn pulled her into her arms saying, "Oh Annika you have been through a lot tonight haven't you."
Seven cried for only a little while and when Kathryn asked, "She really whispered that in your ear right in the feast hall?" Seven chuckled, and mimicked the tone Jorunn had used, causing Kathryn to start laughing. Seven admitted, "She had to do it twice before I realized what she meant, and I choked on a mouthful of mead when I did. It was her stroking a hand down my back and along my thigh as she said it which finally made me realized what she actually meant."
Kathryn stared at her wide eyed and shook her head, Seven remarked, "Altea had somewhat of the same reaction when I told her that I had agreed to allow Jorunn to tease me if she didn't embarrass me in front of everyone." Seeing the curious look on Kathryn's face Seven related the tale of what Altea had said to her in the feast hall.
They talked some more and Kathryn marveled at how relaxed Seven Annika seemed. She had been shocked when Annika calmly described how Jorunn had touched her while checking out her injury, and even more shocked when Annika related that she realized that Jorunn was attempting to seduce her and let her continue out of curiosity and the realization that she was reacting to Jorunn's touch. Annika did admit that she probably would not have been so willing to let the situation progress if she had been aware that it was real instead of just a dream.
Then as Annika described the rest of the evening Kathryn realized that she had enjoyed Jorunn's attentions. That the promise that it would stop if Annika asked had made her willing to just experience her reactions to Jorunn, and her innocence allowed her to experience them without embarrassment. Kathryn also realized that though Jorunn might have started the evening with the intention of seducing Annika she did not end it that way. Kathryn suspected that Annika had stolen her way into Jorunn's affections just as Jorunn had Annika's.
Annika paused and asked, "Do you mind that I told her I would prefer Annika Kathrynsdottir instead of Annika Magnusdottir?"
Kathryn smiled, "No, I do not Annika. I wish that you didn't resent your parents so much that you don't like to use Hansen but I do understand. If you continue to feel that way after another year we can discuss whether you would be willing to be Annika Janeway."
Annika responded with a brilliant smile and a nod.
"Do you feel alright about coming to the senior staff meeting or did you need some time off today to think about last night?" asked Kathryn.
"I will be fine Captain," said Seven with a smile.
Janeway nodded and then asked, "Did you want to start using Annika with everyone or did you want me to use it?"
"You for right now please, I would prefer to still use Seven while on duty." Seven explained.
"Alright, we had better get headed up to the bridge or we will be late for the meeting," said Janeway as she rose. Seven got up as well and the two of them headed to the bridge together.
Seven and Janeway entered the briefing room together, Tuvok had left the seat nearest the Captain's chair, in which he usually sat, empty apparently for Seven. He had two padds in front of him and when they had sat down he handed a padd to both of them. Janeway raised an eyebrow at him, as the rest of the senior officers especially Chakotay were quite curious as to what was going on. Only B'Elanna had an idea of what was going on and she had adamantly insisted that the Captain be the one to brief everyone.
"I have restricted access to these documents to your command code Captain until you have time to review the information I have found and come to a decision about it," Tuvok stated as he handed the padds over.
Janeway replied, "Good thinking, Seven and I will look these over after the briefing and come to a decision about them. Now, to fill everyone in on the cause of the spatial and temporal distortion that was detected early this morning at 0345 hours. The location of the distortion was Seven's quarters, undoubtedly Mulara was the cause of the distortion which sent Seven to mid ninth century Norway for several hours."
She paused and then continued, "Seven believed she was dreaming as she has experienced very vivid dreams ever since her death on Mularan." Janeway paused and looked curiously at B'Elanna who had straightened up with a thoughtful look on her face. "You have something to add Lt. Torres?"
"I believe I know why Seven was certain she was dreaming. Mulara sent her there to hear a certain statement. Seven would not have knowingly broken the Temporal Prime Directive, but in order to hear what she did she had to break it. I believe that Mulara influenced her to believe it was a dream so that she would tell her story instead of either remaining silent or making something up," said B'Elanna.
Seven nodded, "The thought had crossed my mind as well Lt. Torres. I do not understand now why it did not occur to me to consider the possibility that it was real given some of the events. I do not remember even once thinking it was anything but a dream at the time."
Janeway nodded, "I suspect you are right." She went on to give a brief explanation of what had occurred during Seven's trip to the past. If anyone thought it curious that the Captain was the one telling the tale instead of Seven they did not mention it during the brief. When Janeway revealed that Seven had told her life story to the gathering at the feast hall eyes widened but still no one dared to interrupt the Captain.
By this time Chakotay was looking back and forth between the two wondering why exactly the Captain was protecting Seven from questioning by giving the brief herself.
Finally Janeway related to them the statement that Seven had apparently been taken to the past to hear. That she was one of the drones designated as a possible Queen and it was not likely that the Borg would quit trying to reclaim her.
"How high a priority would the Collective place on reclaiming you Seven?" asked Chakotay.
Seven frowned slightly, "I cannot say, Commander. No designated drone has ever escaped the Collective. I do not believe it would be a high priority task though. It is likely that the Borg would only attempt to reclaim me if I came into close proximity of a Borg ship."
Janeway broke in, "We can discuss the implications of this later after Seven and I have reviewed the data Lt. Cmdr Tuvok located. Now, lets move on to the departmental briefs."
Chakotay, Paris and Kim stared for a moment at the Captain then looked back to their padds. Thirty minutes later after the departmental briefings were done Janeway dismissed the meeting after requesting Lt. Torres and the Doctor to keep the information they knew about the incident to themselves until further notice.
With that Janeway dismissed everyone but Seven, who accompanied her to the Captain's Ready Room. As they walked through the bridge area Janeway was heard to ask, "Would you be interested in breakfast Seven, I'm starving."
Seven smiled slightly, "Coffee perhaps and some Quara fruit would be nice."
Janeway crowed, "Ah ha, another convert, I knew you would like coffee," as they disappeared into the Ready Room leaving the officers on the bridge staring after them with expressions of surprise.
Seven watched as Kathryn replicated two coffees and the some fruit for the both of them. Before she could start reading her data padd Seven asked a question that had been puzzling her, "Captain why did you give the brief instead of me? I assumed that I would be the one giving the brief since I of course am more familiar with what occurred."
Kathryn said, "I wanted to make sure that certain questions were not asked until I had a chance to go over things with you. I know your briefs are very through and there are some things you told me about that I didn't want certain officers there to hear about. Your personal life does not need to be part of the ship's gossip."
Seven considered her words and realized that she had not informed Kathryn of the extensive research she had conducted into the topic of human sexual behavior and cultural expectations about that behavior. "I have conducted research as you suggested, including a through work by Uahae Aayhea, an Andorian researcher on human-nonhuman relationships written to assist the non-human with understanding human cultural beliefs and mannerisms relating to human sexual behavior. I believe I have a better understanding of what is considered private knowledge and what is considered public knowledge now. I would not have included any information about what Jorunn and I shared at the briefing. I understand it is considered part of my 'personal life'."
Kathryn looked at her oddly for a moment then with a snort laughed quietly for a moment. Seven straightened wondering if she was laughing at her but Kathryn quickly explained, "I'm not laughing at you Annika, I'm laughing at myself. I used to hate it when my mother was overprotective of me, and yet here I am doing the exact same thing to you. I felt so helpless and angry when you were on Mularan knowing that I had failed you, I guess I've been overcompensating since you got back."
"You should not blame yourself Kathryn for what happened on Mulara, you did not have time to rescue me," said Seven.
Kathryn responded pensively, "Intellectually I know that Annika, I still feel as though I failed you."
Seven felt at a loss as to how to respond to Kathryn, finally getting up and moving to sit next to her and then taking one of the older woman's hands in her own. As Kathryn looked at her in surprise and smiled, Seven said, "I do not feel that you have failed me Kathryn.
"Thank you, Annika," said Kathryn.
The two were silent a moment then Kathryn gently pulled her hand free and picked up her padd and began to read. "Oh my," she immediately said.
"The title," commented Seven.
"Yes," responded Kathryn, "I guess I am your foster mother aren't I?"
"Do you mind?" asked Seven hesitantly.
"Everyone knowing that I think of you as my daughter? No, and it's better than some of the other rumors floating around," commented Kathryn.
"You are speaking of those that think we have an intimate relationship," Seven said calmly.
Kathryn looked at her in surprise, "I didn't know you had heard those, but yes. At least this will lay that fallacy to rest."
Seven finished reading the 'Saga of Annika and her foster mother Kathryn Edwardsdottir' far quicker than Kathryn. The Vikings had obviously been much impressed with her description of Kathryn's actions. Seven waited patiently for Kathryn watching her intently to see what her reactions would be to some of the more heroically phased passages.
Seven was surprised when Kathryn didn't comment on any of the phrasing but looked up at her with sorrow in her eyes. "Oh Annika why didn't you tell me your father was on the Queen's ship," said Kathryn.
Seven flinched and looked away for a moment then said, "There was no time, and there was no other sound tactical choice but to destroy the Queen's ship."
"And afterwards? Why not tell me then Annika. We must have seemed so insensitive. Is that why you were still working that night?" asked Kathryn.
"I I did not want to tell anyone," Seven said, "I am not certain he was present on the Queens ship when it exploded."
Kathryn looked at her penetratingly, "But you are almost certain, aren't you."
Seven glanced at her and nodded.
"What are you feeling Annika?" asked Kathryn. Seven stood up at the question and looked out the window at the stars streaking by with her arms crossed. Kathryn thought for a few moments that she would not answer her but finally she started speaking.
"He they should have left after they had a year's worth of data. They knew what would happen if our vessel was detected, yet they stayed. Because of them I was am Borg, I remember all those I assimilated remember killing men, women, children because they were deemed unfit for assimilation. Seven had started pacing as the first few words and was now making angry passes across the Ready Room floor, her voice rising as she spoke. Then she stopped and turned and looked at Kathryn. "All because of their curiosity," said Seven in a low angry tone.
She paused and then started speaking again, "I do not know what I feel about his death. I am relieved he is no longer a drone that he is not assimilating others. I I do not know what I would say to him if you had saved him from the Borg. He was my Papa I loved him and yet I was I am still angry at him."
Kathryn got up and walked toward her and put an arm about her waist and hugged her, "I can see why you would feel that way. I've never asked if you could remember the things you did while you were a Borg, I guess I wanted to believe that you wouldn't clearly remember them. But I never asked maybe because I didn't want to know that you did."
"There is a difference in the memories and the one's I have of events since I became an individual. They are " Seven paused as she tried to find the words to explain, "I feel removed from them... I know that I was the person doing the action but they do not have the clarity and focus of my memories of my time on Voyager."
The two stared out into space for a few moments silent then Kathryn sighed, "What do you think of releasing the Saga? I'm a bit embarrassed about how they portrayed me, but I'm more concerned about you being comfortable with the crew reading it. I don't know how many have ever considered events from your perspective, and I don't know how you feel about them knowing about your father's death."
Seven said, "I am uncertain, perhaps it would be useful to get the opinion of others, perhaps Lt. Cmdr Tuvok and Lt. Torres."
Lt. Cmdr Tuvok had stated two main reasons to release the Saga, the first was that the Saga was public information; the second was that he thought it might be beneficial for the crew to know what Seven's view of events had been.
B'Elanna had been honored that Seven had wanted her opinion on whether or not to release what the Norse had written about her tale. Janeway had called her to her Ready Room to read the Saga while Seven took the opportunity to catch up with some work in Astrometics. She had thought it would be interesting to read something from Seven's perspective, and it had been. It had also been disturbing; she had not really considered the fact that Seven had essentially lost 12 years of her life while in the maturation chamber.
With a sense of shame she remembered the day that she had angrily asked Seven if she ever felt guilty about assimilating others, she had thought that Seven's reply of "guilt is irrelevant" indicated that Seven did not care about those she had assimilated. After Seven was found innocent on Mularan she had realized that Seven had been answering her question precisely and honestly. Guilt was irrelevant when you had no free will; it was rather like asking a weapon if it felt guilty over being used to kill someone.
What she hadn't realized until now was that Seven did have strong feelings over being used in such a manner, the Saga made it clear that she felt anger and remorse and B'Elanna suspected a strong sense of helplessness over her past. B'Elanna had never really equated being assimilated with being enslaved, but the Vikings had interpreted what she had said with a sorcery that enslaved both body and mind. After considering it B'Elanna thought that perhaps they had come closer to the truth than her more technical understanding of the process.
B'Elanna had always thought the Borg had broken the alliance just like Chakotay had predicted they would when Seven had tried to assimilate the ship. What she found interesting from the Saga was that from what Seven related, the Borg had not been breaking the alliance at that point. There had been no alliance in the Borg's viewpoint, Chakotay had already broken it and Janeway's actions in helping the Borg while in fluidic space were, she thought, deemed 'irrelevant.'
B'Elanna had always held it against Seven that she hadn't been more grateful when they had freed her from the collective. That she hadn't made more of an effort to fit into the crew. She had blamed her for trying to contact the Borg right after they had freed her from the Collective. B'Elanna had never considered that Seven had not seen herself as rescued at all, from what B'Elanna had read kidnapped would be more accurately how Seven had seen their actions. Kidnapped and forced to try to fit into what she had obviously seen as a chaotic and confusing group of people who made no effort to understand her except for Captain Janeway and Harry, B'Elanna added.
"Finally Annika came to cherish herself as an individual and to understand why those around her thought so highly of it. Yet she did not feel welcomed by the crewmates of her ship, though she risked her life no less than they did in battle they would not accept her, not seeing past her mannerisms and way of speaking that were foreign to them.
The room was still as she spoke, her face calm as befitting a warrior but in her voice and eyes everyone could see the pain and loneliness of the beautiful shield maiden. The Earls daughter Jorunn seeing her pain came and sat down beside her and comforted her, as did Altea the Earls cousin. Her pain eased she once again began speaking. "
B'Elanna knew something about that passage bothered her, suddenly she realized what it was. Both she and the Captain had been surprised when Seven had told them that she had not been uncomfortable with Jorunn touching her. And the passage made it clear that not only had Jorunn reached out but Altea had as well, and had comforted Seven as she told the gathering about how difficult things had been for her aboard Voyager. Which meant that two women who barely knew Seven had reached out to offer comfort even through Sevens aloof shell, and no one aboard Voyager had ever tried to do the same that B'Elanna knew of.
'Sometimes', B'Elanna thought to herself, 'I wonder why Seven helps us as much as she does, why is she willing to risk her life for people who treat her so badly.' A bitter bile taste arose in the back of her mouth as she contemplated this and she closed her eyes for a moment then shook her head and went on reading.
B'Elanna was surprised when she read that the Queen had brought the drone of Seven's father out to try and persuade her to rejoin the Borg. Seven had apparently called him Papa when she recognized him and then upon seeing the lack of reaction or emotion in his face had become even more resolved to keep resisting the Queen's attempts to turn her loyalties back to the Borg. 'Something even I could have predicted,' thought B'Elanna, 'Not a particularly smart move Borg Queen.'
Even through the dour mood she was in B'Elanna had to chuckle at the description of Kathryn Edwardsdottir's daring rescue of Annika and her courageous and brave lone confrontation of the Queen. Much was made of Janeway's willingness to risk death rather than let Annika be enslaved again, and also of Annika's acceptance of death being preferable to being made a slave once more.
B'Elanna was almost smiling by the time she read of Voyagers victory over the Queens ship, she remembered the relief when they had successfully collapsed the transwarp conduit and then the elation when the several Borg signatures from the collapsed conduit had turned out to be the fragments of the Queens ship. Suddenly the next sentence wiped the smile from her face as she made a connection that she had missed Seven's father, they had killed him.
"Shield maiden you seem to never have any blessings that do not come with a great sorrow. Spoke Earl Eric Haroldson ."
B'Elanna sighed as she realized how true these words were, why hadn't Seven told them that her father had been on the Queen's ship? She had appeared more icily Borg than ever right afterward and B'Elanna had just put it down to her being exposed to the Borg and picking back up old habits. Now she realized that Seven had been dealing in silence with her father's death while they had been celebrating their victory over the Queen.
B'Elanna read the rest of the story as she tried to sort out the thoughts and feelings that had arisen. The remainder of the story she was familiar with, the events on Mularan, and the revelation that Seven was one of the designated drones.
B'Elanna finished reading the Saga and pondered, she was once again angry with herself for how she had treated Seven. Before she felt ashamed because she had failed to realize that Seven was not an adult and that she hadn't responded in a more mature manner. Now she felt ashamed because they had taken a frightened unwilling woman from the Borg and then failed to give her the kindness and understanding she needed to feel accepted and welcome among them.
B'Elanna sighed and then dropped her forehead into her cupped hands as she rested her elbows on her thighs and tried to think of what to say to Seven about whether releasing the Saga was a good idea or not.
"B'Elanna are you in pain?" asked Seven as she walked into the Ready Room and saw the Chief Engineer with her forehead cupped in her hands. B'Elanna jerked upward and looked at her with an expression Seven didn't quite recognize.
"Seven," B'Elanna said, "I I wanted to tell you how sorry I am for how I treated you. I should have apologized days ago when you first came back on board but I was a coward and didn't want to bring up the past when we seemed to be getting along so well. I should have stopped the gossiping about you, it's my fault that the engineering crew told the Mularans about you." B'Elanna stood and turned staring out the window and wrapped her arms around herself and whispered, "It's my fault they thought they could take you and kill you."
Seven pondered B'Elanna's words and asked, "You told them to share the information with the Mularans?"
B'Elanna turned around and with a spark of anger, "No! Of course not. I meant that I didn't stop the gossiping and the way they treated you. I I just saw that they were standing up for me; I didn't realize how much it hurt you. Or maybe I just didn't want to see what I was doing " B'Elanna turned back toward the window at the last statement.
Seven watched the reflection of her face in the window for a moment and asked, "Why did you want to hurt me B'Elanna?" B'Elanna's form jerked and her eyes met Seven's in the reflection. Suddenly Seven thought she recognized what emotion was in them pain, just before B'Elanna tore her eyes away.
"I Damn it Seven don't you ever want to lash out at us?" said B'Elanna as she turned suddenly and looked into Seven's concerned face.
Seven considered the words and came to a realization, "How have I hurt you B'Elanna?" Seven felt a heaviness in her chest and said in a low voice, "I hurt you when I provoked you," Seven answered her own question, "I apologize."
B'Elanna looked into Seven's face and could only see honest regret there and sighed, she could not let Seven continue to believe that it was all her fault. "Seven sometimes you did hurt me when you were rude to me, but mostly I lashed out at you because I was so jealous of you. Of how smart you were, how beautiful, and because I felt you had taken my place with the Captain. None of which is your fault, Seven, I have dishonored myself by how I acted. I can only try and make it up to you."
Something flickered in Seven's eyes before she said, "You are only willing to be around me because you feel guilty."
B'Elanna noticed how she made it a statement and rushed to correct her, "No Seven, well maybe at first, but not now. Seven, you've let me see more of who you are in the past two days than I saw the past what almost two years now? And I like the person I'm getting to know, I just wish I had known who was behind all that Borg shielding before." B'Elanna made sure that Seven was listening to her before continuing, "I want to get to know who Seven is... I would like to be her friend if she will let me."
Seven found the third person phrasing odd but understood that B'Elanna was asking her if she would allow her to be her friend, "I will let you." Seven hesitated and then continued, "B'Elanna, I do not understand why you are jealous of me, you are as smart as I am, and as beautiful. And the Captain does care about you."
"You think I'm smart?" asked B'Elanna, looking at Seven wonderingly.
Seven took a few strides through the room closer to her and answered, "Yes, your ability to come to the correct conclusion without going through a linear thought process is remarkable. I must work through problems logically to reach a conclusion, you often do not. It is an ability I wish I could emulate."
B'Elanna smiled, "It's usually called intuition. You've always impressed me by your ability to make logical sense of data that at first look is bewildering. While I'm trying to make heads or tails out of it, you've already analyzed it and come up with an explanation and answer. You know, now that we are going to be friends, maybe we could work on things together more often. I bet we would make a great team."
Seven smiled, a full happy smile instead of one of the slight ones she usually used, "I would like that."
B'Elanna could swear she felt her hearts pause for a moment then start again at a quicker pace at the openly pleased expression on Seven's face. She only realized that she was staring at Seven in wonder when the smile disappeared and Seven looked at her uncertainly. B'Elanna said, "Sorry for staring Seven, I've never seen you smile like that before it surprised me, you look different when you smile."
Seven tilted her head to the side and said; "Jorunn said I looked more beautiful when I smiled."
B'Elanna stilled for a moment, "She did? Well I would have to agree with her. It sounds like you two got along well during your time there." B'Elanna knew she was fishing for information, something was informing her that this Jorunn seemed entirely too flattering and friendly for her liking.
Seven nodded, "I believe we were friends before I left, I know I shall miss her." Seven stared pensively at the window before noticing B'Elanna's slight frown. Seven stared curiously at her wondering what was bothering her new friend.
B'Elanna stared at Seven trying to read the emotions playing across the normally controlled face. The sad expression on Seven's face when she said that she would miss Jorunn triggered a reaction that B'Elanna was ashamed of when she recognized it. Jealousy, she was jealous of this Jorunn woman who had comforted Seven and had won her friendship within a few hours of meeting her. B'Elanna noticed Seven looking at her curiously and weakly offered, "Well, you do have one friend here, remember."
Seven's mouth twitched and she replied, "Yes, but I do not think you will be offering to hold me while I sleep tonight B'Elanna. Or giving me lessons on how to kiss." Seven's eyes twinkled merrily as she watched B'Elanna's jaw drop, her pensiveness gone for right now.
B'Elanna stared at Seven in shock, "She tried to seduce you!" she stated, feeling a building anger. At what she wasn't certain, at Jorunn for taking advantage of Seven's innocence, at Jorunn for doing what B'Elanna wished she was free to, or at Seven for accepting another woman's advances.
Seven frowned at B'Elanna catching the anger in her tone, "Yes, she did. It was quite enjoyable. Why are you angry?"
B'Elanna sputtered, "Because she took advantage of you Seven, she "
"Did not do anything to me that I objected to," interrupted Seven.
B'Elanna realized belatedly that she was standing there opening and closing her mouth trying to find a way to respond to Seven's statement without betraying herself and snapped her mouth shut angrily. 'It's not as if you have a right to say anything B'Elanna' whispered her conscious 'you're the one who decided to ignore your attraction to her and stay with Tom, what right do you have to object just because someone else didn't?' B'Elanna ruefully acknowledged the truth of her thoughts; she didn't have any right to get angry with Seven for accepting the advances of another at all.
"I have had several members of Voyagers crew attempt to initiate physical intimacy with me, B'Elanna, and I had no difficulty refusing them. I made the decision to allow Jorunn to continue, indeed it would be difficult for anyone to 'take advantage of me' as you stated, if I did not allow it," stated Seven.
B'Elanna held up her hands in a gesture of surrender, "Ok, ok I get the message. Your perfectly capable of taking care of yourself." B'Elanna decided it was time for a tactical change of subject, "So I guess you want my opinion about releasing this Saga."
Seven was confused by B'Elanna's reaction to her words; she had intended to amuse the other woman but instead had apparently upset her. Perhaps B'Elanna like Kathryn was in an overprotective mode, Seven thought. "Yes," said Seven simply.
B'Elanna looked directly at Seven for a moment, "I think you should. I think it would help a lot of people see who you actually are, and I'm sorry about your father. Why didn't you let us know?" B'Elanna was stunned by the emotions that ran across Seven's face when she mentioned her father, anger, sadness and then a look of weariness.
"I do not want to discuss my father," said Seven stiffly, shifting and fighting to not slip into her old Borg stance.
B'Elanna noted how Seven started to stand with her hands behind her back and caught herself, instead choosing to cross them over her chest. She hadn't really considered what Seven thought of her parents, even though she had heard through the grapevine that Seven had made some harsh comments when she had read their journals awhile back. B'Elanna hadn't really thought about it then, but now after reading the Saga she stared at Seven and considered how the other woman felt about her parents. Parents that, as the Saga put it, took their young daughter along with them on a spying mission.
B'Elanna smiled without any humor and said, "I've always been mad at my father for leaving me when I was a child; I guess you wish yours had left you."
Seven looked at B'Elanna somewhat perplexed by her statement.
"My father left my mother and I because he could no longer stand living with two Klingons when I was a child. Your father took you with him to study the Borg and got you assimilated," said B'Elanna.
"You are asking whether I wish that my parents had left me behind instead of taking me with them," said Seven. She was quiet for awhile, her face both pensive and bitter before she finally said, "I do not know, three weeks ago perhaps I would have said yes. Now though I am unsure if I would trade my life for a different one."
"My father sent me messages while I was at the Academy," said B'Elanna. "I never responded, I didn't know what I would say to him so I just didn't." B'Elanna was aware of Seven's sharp gaze on her as she continued, "Some days I think that if I were to meet him I would want to beat him, other days I don't know ask him why he couldn't love me I guess." B'Elanna felt tears threatening but she continued, "Now of course I probably won't ever have to worry what I would do if I meet him, because he's likely to be dead by the time we get back. And sometimes I'm relieved that I won't have to figure it out." B'Elanna looked into Seven's eyes and saw understanding there.
Seven nodded not trusting her voice and breathed deeply a few times before saying, "When what remained of the Queen's ship exited from the transwarp conduit, I did not feel anything though I was certain he was dead. Since then I have experienced feelings of anger, sorrow, remorse love. Sometimes I am also relieved that I will never have to face my father and ask him why."
The two women looked at each other, both knowing that this was something that they could safely share with each other that few others on the ship would be able to understand. B'Elanna noticed that Seven had lost her fight to hold in her tears and impulsively she walked over and wrapped her arms around Seven who after a startled second returned the embrace. B'Elanna felt Seven rest her head against her shoulder and closed her eyes, feeling her own tears slip down her face.
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