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.

I Am Borg
By Kudara

Part 1: Phoenix

Chapter 3

Love, comfort, acceptance, a gentle voice, and the sensation of a hand that brushed her forehead soothingly; Seven was dimly aware of being comforted as the pain that had wracked her body faded away and she fell into a deep healing sleep. When she woke again she was aware of floating in a warm thick liquid, how or why she was floating inside the tank did not concern her for some reason and she looked around in mild curiosity at her surroundings.

She was floating freely in some type of liquid filled tank; a breathing mask covered her nose and mouth. Through the thick fluid she could see the outlines of a moderately sized room. The walls, ceiling and floor were made of large cream-colored sandstone looking blocks, intricate designs ran along molding at the top and bottom of the room's walls. A large clear door ran from floor to ceiling directly in front of her tank which gave her an excellent view of what she knew were the inner temple grounds.

Dimly she wondered how she knew this but the thought faded and she simply watched the play of the sunlight through the branches on the grass, feeling peaceful and slightly tired. The deep green of the grass and the golden sunshine made a pleasing contrast and she fell asleep wishing that she could be outside enjoying what looked like a beautiful day.

Never did the words efficient or irrelevant run through her mind, and she did not even consider why not. She was completely unaware that she was gently but firmly being prevented from thinking about certain things until her mind and body healed from her ordeal.

The next time she awoke she found that she was no longer in the tank, but lying on a soft small bed, and a light sheet was all that covered her. She stretched and looked sleepily out the door and noticed that it was dark outside. She became aware that she was hungry and she sat up in her bed to look around. A small table was now beside the bed and upon it she saw a glass full of some type of orange fluid and a bowl that contained what looked like different types of fruit.

Seven picked up the glass and sniffed the fluid, the rich smell of fruit filled her senses and she took a small taste of the liquid. It was rich and sweet but with a faint sour after taste that quickly faded. She decided she liked it and took a larger sip. Examining the bowl, she chose an oddly shaped oval fruit that smelled nice and began nibbling upon it. The flesh of the red skinned fruit was light blue in color and had a pleasantly creamy texture and sweet taste.

Between the juice and fruit Seven soon felt pleasantly full and with one last look outside at the dark grounds she snuggled back into her bed, pulled the sheet back up over herself and fell back into a pleasant sleep.

The next morning she awoke and sat up then smiled, the sun was shining outside and she wanted to explore the gardens this morning. A childlike sense of curiosity gripped her and she swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood up. Her reflection in the doorway caught her attention and she stared at herself curiously then looked down at herself. The silver lines that covered her torso enthralled her; she noticed them on her arms and hands as well, and lifted her forearm for closer inspection. The silver lines were about as wide as her smallest finger, a design of gold and deep blue chased along its length. Looking up at the molding in the room, she realized that the designs on her arm were the same.

She touched her stomach, remembering dimly that she used to have something like this before, but it hadn't been as nice as what now adorned that area. She looked at her hand and noticed that a silver line ran down the top and bottom of each finger and covered the fingertips. The lines from her fingers met and curled in a simple interlace design on the top of her hand and palm then continued in a more complex interweave pattern on either side of each arm. The silver lines on the top of her arm crossed over the top of her shoulder and split to run down the front and back of her shoulder then met again under her arm to continue down the sides of her torso. The lines on the bottom of her arm ended in a triangular pattern that covered the area of her armpit.

The design on her abdomen ran along the width of her torso; the lines sweeping in an arching flowing design that almost but not quite met the pattern that ran down her sides. The design ended just beneath her breasts, and then met in two silver lines that ran between her breasts, then separated out to either side into smaller silver lines that arched gracefully across her upper chest and ended just beneath the collarbone near her shoulders on either side.

The twining pattern on her sides continued down the outside of her hips and legs, ending in a delicate spiral around her anklebone. The design on her abdomen ended just above her groin and arched around and down the front of her hips and down the front of her thighs, there it widened and ran down the front of her thigh to the tops of her feet. Turning around she noticed that the design on her abdomen and front of her legs repeated across her backside.

Looking at her face she gently touched the silver pattern that ran around her left eye; turning her head she noticed a smaller silver pattern on her right cheek near her ear. She could hardly feel the difference between her skin and the silver, a slight raise between the two and the smooth metallic feel of the narrow silver bands. The lines around her eye were finer than the ones on her torso; they formed a delicate arching pattern around the eye that she found pleasing.

She realized belatedly that she was nude and looked around the room for clothing, she noticed a new piece of furniture in the room and walked over to investigate it. Opening the two long doors on its front she found clothing hanging inside the upper part and drawers of underclothes at the bottom. Curiously she examined the tops and pants and various wrappings that she knew were meant to fit around her wrists and waist. She put on a set of underclothes and then picked a sapphire blue shirt and black pants to wear.

The top was flowing and loose in the body and upper sleeves, made of a thick material that felt soft against her skin. The sleeves narrowed in at the wrist and she chose matching blue wrist wraps to wear with it. The wrist wraps were meant to look as if they were made of narrow bands of cloth what wound around her lower forearm and wrist but they were actually all one large piece that wrapped around and adhered to itself. The black waistband was about five inches wide and made to be worn in the same manner. A set of matching black calf length flat-soled boots completed the outfit.

When she was done she looked at herself in the door way and admired the way the wrist and waist wraps caused the shirt to blouse gracefully, the pants were tight fitting but not skin tight and narrowed at the calf to meet the boots without any blousing effect. A one-inch banding formed a collar at the neckline of the shirt that ended in a V, which showed the skin of her throat and some of her chest.

Once dressed she realized that she was hungry again and she went to the table to grab up a few fruits from the bowl before opening the doorway and stepping out into the temple gardens to explore. She found that the inner temple gardens were laid out in a cross design, with formal flower gardens at the center and ends of the crosses, in between the gardens where stone walkways bordered by green grass and trees. Her room exited into the garden midway between the middle and one of the branches of the cross.

She spent the day admiring the different flowers that comprised the garden and resting on the grass in the shade of the trees. Several of the trees were fruit bearing and she knew which ones were good to eat from her experiences with the fruit in her room. The fruits ranged from sweet to tangy and some of them were very juicy, causing her to frequently need to wash her hands in the fountains that dotted the area. Somehow she also knew that the water pouring out of the fountains was good to drink and throughout the day she slaked her thirst by drinking from them.

Sometime in the afternoon Seven wandered back to her room and laid down for a nap, while she slept her new cortical node received information about her exoskeleton and implants. When she awoke in the evening she sat up and looked at her hands examining what she now knew was a complex poly-deutonic alloy matrixed with a complex organic material. No longer would she have to worry about her implants being rejected by her immune system, all of her implants were now comprised of a metallic-organic matrix that her immune system recognized as part of her own body instead of alien.

She also knew that she could control several different aspects of her exoskeleton, including the color. Given time she could 'request' for it to change color and it would change to a blue with silver and gold markings as well as a red with gold and silver. She could also overlay the top with a thin organic layer that mimicked her skin to hide the exoskeleton all-together. All of these processes took time and she closed her eyes and instructed her exoskeleton to begin the process to change to blue. That done she knew it would be an hour or so before the process was complete, while she waited she tried to remember what else she knew about her exoskeleton.

Slowly more information came to her; she 'remembered' that her exoskeleton was part of a complex supportive structure under her skin. Her bone structure was now entirely supported by more of the metallic-organic matrix, poly-deutonic and tritanium alloy support rods ran around the bones in her limbs to her exoskeleton to ensure that her flesh could not be crushed between the exoskeleton and reinforced bone. Fine metallic-organic filaments ran through every inch of her skin, muscles, and organs, which supported, reinforced, and improved their function.

A different metallic-organic fiber worked in conjunction with her nervous system, increasing the speed of her reflexes, and her sensory capabilities. These fibers interacted with her exoskeleton, allowing it to be an extension of her skin. In fact her exoskeleton was dense with sensory fibers, allowing her to process information about her environment that she would be otherwise unable to sense. These fibers also ran through her brain, interacting with her cortical node and increasing her brains synaptic speed as well as allowing her to process information more quickly.

As before…Seven paused and wondered what she had been before but there was no memory of what she was before now. She remembered her name, or names, she knew she was Annika Hansen and also Seven of Nine. Though she could not remember why she had two names. She was troubled by the lack of memory for a moment, but it faded, and she continued with her self-examination. She no longer wondered how she knew that she had bio-organic chips, embedded within her major muscle groups, which interacted with the metallic-organic fibers to both feed the muscles with energy and cleanse waste products away. Or why she also knew that behind her left eye was a large implant that stored information for retrieval and controlled her exoskeleton and nanoprobes.

She also knew that it was redundantly backed-up by other implants in her chest and legs. If for some reason the main cortical node malfunctioned it would shut down and the other implants would take over its functions. Implants scattered throughout her abdomen interacted with specialized organic fibers in her mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines allowed her to efficiently process several different types of organic and inorganic matter as 'food'. Pretty much anything that wasn't highly caustic or poisonous could be used to fuel her body.

Faced with a lack of ingestible substances she knew she could modify her exoskeleton to take in energy from her environment as well as break down non-organic materials by secreting various acids or enzymes, the resulting non-organic sludge could then be absorbed by her exoskeleton and used to fuel her systems. It wasn't the most appealing process, reminding her of several insect species methods of digestion, but it would allow her to stay alive in otherwise barren environments.

Finally she realized that she could control her body temperature by using her exoskeleton to either cool or heat her body. This was usually controlled without her thinking about it by her cortical node but she could also consciously control her body temperature.

Seven glanced at her hands and realized that enough time had passed for her exoskeleton to modify its color; she smiled and stripped off her clothing, admiring the blue metallic bands that now adorned her body. Feeling tired and hungry she realized that the fruit on the table had been replaced and there was a new glass of juice on the table. After she ate she decided to lie down and rest.

Seven slept but her eyes fluttered as she began remembering her past, she relived her childhood remembering her parents and her life aboard the Raven. She remembered when the Borg had come upon the disabled Raven, how she and her parents had been assimilated. She remembered being Borg and the united mind of the Collective, then being severed from the Collective by Voyager's captain Kathryn Janeway. She recalled her experiences on Voyager up to the point where the Mularan guard had fired upon her.

Seven awoke with a start, looking around her at the simple room, she was now aware that she had suffered some type of major trauma. Looking down at herself she absorbed once again the information about her new exoskeleton and implants. She brought her hands up for examination realizing that she no longer had a Borg arm, momentarily she missed the functionality of the limb, then she realized that she knew how the banding on her hands could adapt to provide much of the same functionality.

Suddenly she grasped the fact that she actually had two organic arms again. Wondering, she stared at her left hand, running her thumb over her fingers and comparing the sensation to the same action with her right hand. They were identical, the feel of human skin and warm smooth flexible metal. Concentrating she identified the sensations felt by her exoskeleton, the identification of oils and slight perspiration, a measurement of heat.

Accessing her cortical node she went over the specifics of her exoskeleton again, this time admiring the efficient design of it. Her torso was not supported from her spinal column but rather a complex radial waffle shaped array of rods that supported and protected her internal organs. Her spinal column was reinforced throughout its length and solidly covered with a flexible poly-deutonic-organic coating what was perforated to allow nerve bundles to pass through. It would take significant pressure to collapse her poly-deutonic and tritanium alloy support structure.

A small smile graced her features and Seven said, "Efficient." in an approving tone to the empty room as she finished reviewing what she knew about her new physiology. Seven turned her attention to her new nanoprobes and realized they were no longer Borg either; they were vastly improved and had several safety measures to ensure that they could not be removed from her and used for other purposes. If she did not administer them through her exoskeleton or specifically program them to remain active outside her body they would automatically become inactive and break down within 30 seconds of being removed. Several new programming options were available to her from her cortical node that had previously only been possible in using external methods.

Seven pondered all the physical changes wondering how they had come about, she remembered looking out from the regenerative tank and guessed that she had been damaged by the Mularan guard somehow but why she had ended up in the main temple of Mulara instead of the Sickbay on Voyager she had no idea. Seven remembered the previous day looked outside and found herself once again admiring the garden. It was not a sensation she was entirely comfortable with, obviously she had been malfunctioning yesterday, yet the memory of it remained and with it the emotions that she had experienced.

Seven stood and stared down at her exoskeleton, she remembered that she had thought it beautiful; today she thought it aesthetically pleasing. Considering her response again she glanced down and agreed with yesterday's assessment, her exoskeleton was beautiful. It combined form and functionality in a manner that appealed to her sense of perfection.

Seven looked out the door and knew that if she went the opposite way from the direction she had taken the previous day she would find a bathing pool. Seven grabbed up a few fruit to eat for her morning meal then paused as she fully realized something, she would never need to regenerate again as her new implants and exoskeleton did not require it. Once again a small smile graced her features and grabbing a robe from the dresser to slip around herself she walked with light steps out into the garden.

Following a small path through broad-leaved plants she found the hidden bathing pool. Soap, shampoo and towels were laid out next to it and Seven realized that her needs had been anticipated, though she had seen no other person in the garden besides herself. Somehow she knew that she was still alone in the garden and that she would not be interrupted while she bathed.

Settling herself into the warm water she looked around at the profusion of growing plants and the small stream that meandered away from a tall waterfall that was only a few meters away. She guessed that the water from the waterfall would be the perfect place to rinse after she was done with her bath. Seven laid back in the soothing water and relaxed, realizing as she did so that until yesterday it had been an unfamiliar sensation. She found herself distracted by thoughts that this was an inefficient waste of time but at the same time something in her now recognized that perhaps a bit of inefficiency could be tolerated now and then.

Letting the thoughts of her current inefficient use of time drift away she consoled herself by thinking that she had nothing better to do anyway besides looking around the garden again. Eventually she sat up and began washing her hair and body then she exited the pool and walked over to rinse herself under the waterfall that was obviously designed for this purpose. The water was cool but not unpleasantly so and she stood under it for a while, appreciating the feel of it after the warmth of the bathing pool.

Once done with her rinsing, she toweled off and put back on her robe and walked back to her room. Walking over to the dresser she chose a cream-colored shirt and dark red pants along with dark red boots to wear. Seven considered the different wristbands and waistbands and chose cream wristbands and a dark red waistband. Closing her eyes for a second she concentrated on initiating the change in the color of her exoskeleton from blue to red. Glancing at the door of the dresser she realized it was mirrored on the inside and she looked at her reflection. She noticed a comb and several hair clasps were now inside the dresser.

Seven glanced around the room, wondering if someone had come in, but she saw nothing else that appeared to have been touched. Seven reviewed what she knew of the being called Mulara. It was entirely possible that things were being transported directly to various locations in anticipation of her needs, though why Mulara would take an interest in her she did not know. Seven knew from the Borg all the myths surrounding Mulara, she was aware that very few people were allowed into the area where she now found herself; the high priestess of the Mularan religion and those who were called the 'reborn'.

Uneasily she realized that since she did not belong in the first group that meant that she must belong to the second, the reborn, those who had died violently and unjustly and had been brought back from the dead by Mulara. She knew that several days were missing from her memory, what had happened to her during that time? And why had Mulara taken an interest in her?

The second thing she realized was that the reborn in Mularan mythology always ended up playing an important role in Mularan history as peacemakers. Seven wondered uneasily if she would be required to do the same and how Captain Janeway would react to what she would probably see as a violation of Starfleet's Prime Directive.

Shaking herself out of her thoughts she grabbed up the comb and combed her hair, and then she chose one of the hair clasps that looked as if it were made from a dark red wood that matched her pants and bound her hair back at the nape of her neck with it. She looked at her reflection and was vaguely dissatisfied with it; she unbound her hair then tried combing back only the hair above her ears and fastening that. Now the hair clasp rested midway down the back of her skull and held tightly the hair from the top of her head and above her ears. The lower half of her hair was left free, examining herself in the mirror Seven decided she liked the look and nodded in satisfaction.

Suddenly she heard the sound of a polite knock on the door and turned to see a Mularan woman standing outside her door, awaiting her acknowledgement before entering. Seven glanced at the woman's dress and recognized the high collared heavily embroidered robe of a high priestess.

Seven walked over to the door and opened it, looking curiously at the Mularan woman. The woman smiled at her and said, "I am High Priestess Analea, I have been sent to answer some of your questions and to see how you are recuperating."

Seven nodded and said, "I am Seven of Nine, what am I doing here and why have my Borg implants been replaced?"

Analea replied, "Perhaps we can walk in the garden and I will answer your questions?"

Seven nodded stiffly, "That is acceptable."

Analea's mouth twitched and she turned and walked toward the garden area asking, "What is the last thing you remember Seven of Nine?"

Seven followed her and strode swiftly to catch up to where she could walk beside the woman and replied, "I remember being hailed by a Mularan guard, when I turned he had his weapon drawn and he fired at me. I assume that he succeeded in firing upon me."

Analea nodded and said, "The rest of your memory will return to you in time when you are healed enough to remember it. Suffice to say events happened that caused your death, Mulara intervened and brought you to the inner temple and brought you back to life. All of the reborn are gifted in different ways; your gifts are your new implants and exoskeleton. Your Borg cortical node and abdominal implant were badly damaged and needed to be replaced as it was, so Mulara decided to replace everything while you were healing. Do you like them? I thought they were beautiful when they appeared on your skin."

Seven asked, "You were there when I was healing?"

Analea nodded, "Yes I was there when the guardian brought in your body and placed it in the healing tank. Then the guardian placed its hand on your face and you glowed for several minutes. When the guardian removed its hand from your face, you were breathing again and all your Borg implants had disappeared. Your new exoskeleton showed up a few hours later."

Seven thought about this then asked, "Am I being held here? Why was I not transported back to Voyager?"

Analea paused and looked at Seven and said, "Well Mulara has put up a force field around this entire area. So I guess the answer for now is yes you are being held here, but it's just until you are completely adapted to your new implants. I've seen the schedule of the High Priestesses that are supposed to meet with you, and it only continues for a week. I would guess that you will be completely healed by that time and free to leave. Think of this as an enforced convalescence, not a prison Seven, you were injured so badly that you died just three days ago." The last was said softly and earnestly to Seven.

Seven sighed and said, "I will comply. May I contact Voyager while I am… convalescing?"

Analea looked confused and said, "I don't know how, there isn't any communications equipment in the inner temple and Mulara has already made it clear that only High Priestesses will be allowed to enter and exit the inner temple while you are healing." Analea tapped her chin for a few seconds then said, "I can give them a message for you; I will be visiting Voyager later today to give them an update on your condition."

Seven inquired, "What will you tell them?"

Analea said, "I don't know yet, we haven't talked about how you are doing after all. Do you have any more questions for me? If not I want to find out how you are doing."

Seven wondered, "Am I considered to be one of the reborn?"

Analea nodded and waited, suspecting that there would be another question.

Seven asked, "Will Mulara expect me to act in some way to change Mulara? Captain Janeway will not be pleased if I am required to do so as it breaks several Federation laws and directives."

Analea replied, "No you will not be expected to do something for us, some task may yet be expected of you but it will not be for my people."

Seven nodded and then stated, "I am functioning within acceptable parameters High Priestess Analea."

Analea chuckled and said, "Mulara said that you would say so, I'm pleased to see that she was right. I'm more interested in what you think of your new implants and exoskeleton. I see that you have figured out the process to make it change in coloration." Analea pointed at Seven's hand where the exoskeleton had just changed from blue to red.

Seven looked at her hand and noted that the color and nodded, "I have tried all the modifications except for the modification that covers them with a layer of skin. I shall try that next, but I believe I have mastered this skill."

Analea nodded, "How do you feel Seven, are you in any pain at all, any signs of a headache or any aches?"

Seven shook her head and said, "There are no signs that my body is rejecting the implants, the organic matrix is functioning as expected. My implants are all functioning normally."

Analea nodded and asked, "And how are you feeling, Seven? What's your emotional state?"

Seven said, "Feelings are irrelevant."

Analea shook her head, "No they are not; feelings tell us a lot about our state of being. Feelings can indicate whether you are stressed, or feeling threatened by something, they can even indicate illness. Now, how are you feeling?"

Seven sighed, "I am feeling well, it is peaceful here. I am starting to feel bored though; perhaps there is something I could study?"

Analea grinned at Seven and said, "Your boredom will soon be over, today is your last day of complete freedom, and starting tomorrow you will have a succession of teachers. You need to learn how to increase your strength; right now you are not much stronger than a normal human. But that can be changed and tomorrow you will start learning how, as well as learning how to properly gauge and control your strength. I think it's time for me to be going today, why don't you experiment with your exoskeleton more. Have you tried solar and thermal energy gathering with it yet?"

Seven leaned her head over to the side and then shook it saying, "I have not attempted that as yet."

Analea smiled, "I suggest combining it with sunbathing, you could use some color to your skin. I'm sure there are some towels…" A folded towel suddenly appeared in her hands in a shimmer of golden light and Analea laughed, "Such as this one right here, that you can spread out and use." With that Analea handed the towel to Seven who bemusedly accepted it.

Seven said, "I do not have specified attire for sunbathing." as she unfolded the towel.

Analea shook her head and replied, "Once I leave there will be no one else in the garden, take the opportunity to sunbathe nude. I do occasionally when I have the chance." With those parting words she turned to leave.

Seven called, "My message for Voyager." Analea paused and looked back inquiringly. Seven paused for a moment, "Tell them I am feeling well." Analea's mouth twitched and she nodded to Seven and then continued along the path.

Seven watched her leave then shook out the towel and accessed her cortical node seeking information on how she was to absorb solar and thermal energy. As she absorbed the information she absently began undressing, folding her clothes and neatly laying them on the grass by the towel.

Seven lay down on the towel and found herself enjoying the feel of the sun on her back and the sensation of the occasional breeze. Luckily something woke her before she experienced the condition known as sunburn first hand, and she rolled over onto her back. An hour later she sat up and gathered the towel around her, picked up her clothing and walked the short distance to the waterfall. There she cooled off under the stream of water, satisfied that she understood the thermal and solar energy conversion process satisfactorily.

Chapter 4

High Priestess Analea stepped off the transporter platform looking curiously at the two people waiting for her, from the memories Mulara had shared with her from Seven she knew that the red headed woman who radiated confidence was Captain Kathryn Janeway, and the taller man with a tattooed design around his eye was Commander Chakotay. Seven had an interesting relationship with the Captain; and Analea briefly wondered if the woman knew just how much Seven looked up to her and tried to emulate her.

Janeway smiled and greeted the High Priestess, "Welcome aboard Voyager High Priestess Analea, I understand you have news for us about Seven's condition?"

Analea nodded, "I do, and some issues that Mulara wants addressed before Seven can be returned to your crew. Mulara was most unhappy about some of the things she found in Seven's memory."

Analea noted how Janeway's face tightened for a moment in a frown but then the woman sighed and nodded.

Janeway replied, "Certainly, I haven't been too pleased about some of the things I've found out about Seven's experiences either. Shall we go to my Ready Room?"

Analea nodded wondering how Janeway would react to some of the criticisms Mulara had about Janeway's treatment of Seven. Squaring her shoulders she resolved that she would make sure all of Mulara's concerns were dealt with before Seven stepped foot aboard the ship again. The young woman she had met this morning was so innocent and unknowingly open. Behind the words and mask of the Borg was a very sensitive and loving person.

Analea moved through the ship with a sense of familiarity from Seven's memories, though she had no intention of letting the Captain know just how much she knew. They had reached the Captain's Ready Room and Janeway politely offered Analea a seat before taking her chair. Commander Chakotay took another seat and they both looked at Analea expectantly.

"First I have a message from Seven for you, she said to tell you that she is feeling well." Analea chuckled as she watched the two Starfleet officer's faces and explained "I had to explain to her that feelings were not irrelevant when it came to her health. I'm fairly sure she wanted to convey that she was not in any pain or discomfort."

Janeway asked, "How is she doing medically? Has she fully recovered from her injuries?"

Analea replied, "She is recovering fairly quickly; she still doesn't have all her memories back yet. She remembers being fired upon at the space station but she doesn't remember anything past that point yet. It will probably be tomorrow or the next day before her mind is fully healed. The injuries to her body, though they were extensive are already fully healed. I suspect Mulara is deliberately suppressing the remaining memories until she feels that Seven is capable of handling them."

Janeway frowned, "Mulara is capable of suppressing memories?"

Analea said, "Mulara is a goddess; I know you think of her as a higher energy being but really, what difference is there between the two words? Mulara is a powerful being; suppressing Seven's memories until she is prepared to face them is a trivial task for her."

Janeway replied, "I didn't mean to offend you; I just have issues with Seven's mind being tampered with."

Analea frowned, "You did not offend me. If Mulara is suppressing Seven's memories then she knows that it would harm Seven if she were to remember them now. Give Mulara the benefit of a thousand years of experience Captain, she is acting in Seven's best interest."

Janeway considered Analea's words and reluctantly nodded, it wasn't like she had much of a choice anyway. There appeared to be no way that Voyager could penetrate the force fields surrounding the temple, they were just too powerful. Seven would not be returned to them until Mulara decided to let her go, and that meant persuading her High Priestess that Seven should be returned to Voyager.

Janeway straightened her shoulders, "I apologize if I sounded like I thought she wasn't High Priestess Analea."

Analea said, "Apology accepted Captain, now about Mulara's concerns. Her primary one is Seven's living arrangements. Mulara finds the idea of Seven living in a cargo bay repulsive; it makes Seven sounds like a piece of machinery that is stored away until needed. Mulara feels that it contributed to the problems that Seven has with the Voyager crew."

Janeway winced, "I had already considered that myself, I should have noticed it months ago and taken steps to change her living arrangements. When Seven came onboard as the representative of the Borg they set up their alcoves there, when Seven was severed from the Collective it just made sense not to move them and let her use the area. I should have considered that it was not really an acceptable arrangement for her though. There are a few empty quarters she can use; we just need to figure out a way to move an alcove into one of them. My Chief Engineer is working on trying to figure out how to modify one of the quarters for Seven already."

Analea was surprised that the Captain had already taken steps to address the issue; perhaps Seven's admiration of the woman was not misplaced after all. Analea replied, "That is excellent news, but you do not have to move an alcove for Seven's use. Mulara replaced all of her implants; she does not need to regenerate using Borg technology anymore. Indeed she cannot use a Borg alcove; the interfaces are just not there."

Janeway looked nonplused for a moment and then said, "Maybe you should fill us in on these changes."

Chakotay spoke up then, "Maybe I should let B'Elanna know that she doesn't need to work on modifying the alcove anymore." Janeway nodded and Chakotay tapped his combadge, "Chakotay to Torres."

A moment later the reply came, "Torres here." Chakotay continued, "You can stop working on the modifications of the Borg alcove for Seven's quarters; we just got news that she no longer needs it to regenerate."

A distinct sigh came over the combadge, "And I just figured out how to successfully modify the alcove to work in her quarters. At least I won't have to figure out how to fit the thing in there now. Thanks for letting me know Commander."

Chakotay smirked and replied, "Of course B'Elanna." and tapped his combadge to end the conversation. Janeway and Chakotay shared an amused look for a moment then turned back to the Mularan High Priestess.

Analea said, "Now about the issues between Seven and the crew."

Janeway grimaced to herself, this Mularan High Priestess was entirely too well informed. Janeway could tell this was going to be a long day.

The next morning Seven awoke with a dry mouth, she now remembered waking up in the cell and the guards coming for her. She also remembered them shooting her with phasers when the cell's force field dropped. For a moment she wondered if the combined fire had been what killed her, but that didn't feel quite right. With a sickening sensation in her stomach she felt sure that what she didn't yet remember was frightening.

Seven got up and found a fresh glass of juice and fruit awaiting her, this morning however there were new fruits available and with some curiosity Seven examined the greenish smooth skin of the fruit before she gingerly bit into it. The flesh inside was starchy in texture and had a sweet, bread like taste to it. Seven decided that she liked the taste as she finished the first and picked up another one to eat on her way to the bathing pool.

Seven had just finished dressing after her bath when she noticed Analea outside the door with her hand poised to knock. Seven nodded to her and Analea dropped her hand and opened the door instead.

Analea smiled at Seven and asked, "How are you doing this morning?"

Seven stood stiffly with her hands behind her back and said, "I remembered more of the events leading up to my death while I slept. I am experiencing some… distress over what I do not yet remember. Why I should experience distress over what I cannot remember? Perhaps I am malfunctioning."

Analea examined how the young woman was standing and said, "You are not malfunctioning, what you are feeling is probably anxiety, it usually manifests itself as elevated blood pressure and heart rate often accompanied by a mild nausea and muscle tension. Your body is getting ready for a possible threat so it's dumping endocrines into your system, which cause the physical symptoms. It's a typical response humanoids have to situations that they find threatening but the threat isn't obvious."

Seven considered what Analea said and responded, "Memories cannot threaten me, this response is illogical. I am malfunctioning."

Analea said, "No you are not; you know that the memories are of the events that lead to your death. That's reason enough for you to feel anxiety over remembering them. What you are feeling is understandable Seven; I would be concerned that you were malfunctioning if you didn't feel anything."

Seven looked puzzled, "Clarify…please."

Analea nodded, "You are human Seven, it's normal for you to feel anxious about remembering exactly how you died. If you didn't respond that way then something would be wrong with you. Now we should go over the healthiest way of dealing with situations in which you are feeling anxiety and there is nothing you can do about the situation that caused it. In this case there is nothing you can do to either prevent or hasten when you will remember, it will happen when your mind is healed enough."

Seven nodded and said, "What is the proper protocol for dealing with anxiety?"

Analea chuckled for a moment then with a more serious demeanor said, "First accept the emotion, that validates your response. The reason for this is you let your body know that you recognize it believes there is a threat situation, usually that automatically causes the body to relax when it knows its message has been received. The second thing is for you to try and relax. That lets your body know that it doesn't need to continue to stay prepared for a threat. The second step is very important; you can wear yourself out if you allow your body to stay in a prolonged state of threat preparedness. In your case your cortical node will process your attempt at relaxation as instructions for it to limit your biological response; your nanoprobes will start to break down the excess hormones in your system. I know that your Borg systems automatically attempted to limit your biological responses, but your new implants will allow you to control whether or not you wish your responses to be limited or not. The only time they will automatically act is when your implants determine that your biological response is damaging your health."

Seven nodded and proceeded to comply with Analea's instructions, she found it odd at first to 'accept' the feeling of anxiety but after a few moments she realized that oddly enough the act of telling herself that it was ok to feel the way she was, did in fact cause a lessening of the emotion. Perhaps Analea was right and her body needed to know that she had received and understood the message that it thought there was a threat. Seven realized that she had no idea how she should 'relax' and asked, "How should I relax?"

Analea had been expecting the question, "There are several methods, meditation, breathing techniques, and exercise are the most common. Do you know anything about any of those already?"

Seven said, "Lt. Commander Tuvok has shown me how to perform Vulcan meditation techniques but that requires a candle."

Analea nodded and replied, "Perhaps I could teach you some breathing techniques which do not require anything; you don't even need to have privacy which I believe is required for most meditation techniques."

Seven nodded, "Please proceed."

Analea said, "If it helps at first close your eyes, take a deep breath and on the exhalation think of breathing out the anxiety, when you inhale concentrate on relaxing your muscles. It shouldn't take but a few of these for your cortical node to activate your nanoprobes to take up the excess endocrine. It won't do it for long but it that should be long enough for the physical symptoms to ease."

Analea watched as Seven immediately closed her eyes and began breathing deeply, she could see the blond woman's posture relax after a minute and knew she had been successful. Analea continued, "Sometimes you won't have time to fully understand why your body is reacting to something as a perceived threat for whatever reason. If that's the case you might want to use the meditation techniques to help you figure out why you reacted later in the day when you have some time and privacy."

Analea said, "Now I am just the first of your visitors for today, remember I told you that yesterday was your last day of full relaxation?" Analea said the last with a small grin and Seven gave her a small smile and nodded. "And I told you that you would learn how to increase your strength as well as learning how to control it?"

Seven nodded and Analea continued, "Think of your muscular system as having safeties like your nanoprobes, by default you will be limited to normal human strength and reactions. Automatically during times of stress you will be 20% stronger and faster than a normal human, not really enough for you to have to worry about accidentally harming someone. Your enhanced strength will only be available when you concentrate in a particular way. This information should already be in your cortical node." Analea looked inquiringly at Seven not entirely sure how this was supposed to work but she had been assured by Mulara that Seven would understand what to do once she was told to access her cortical node.

Seven accessed her cortical node as she had been instructed thinking about accessing enhanced strength, suddenly information flooded her mind about exactly how she would have a 'normal' or resting state and an enhanced strength state. The fibers in her muscles and the nerve fibers that enhanced her muscular reactions were normally inactive, they would become active only when instructed by her cortical node, when they were activated they would greatly increase her muscular strength and reflexes. Seven wasn't sure how strong or fast she would be but it the information in her cortical node indicated it would be significantly more than her 'normal' state.

Seven nodded to Analea and said, "I have successfully accessed the information; I understand how to initiate the fibers in my muscles and nerves for enhanced strength."

Analea nodded pleased and pulled out a data pad, "Here are some exercises for you to do, I believe you already understand how to perform all the exercises listed?"

Seven scanned the list and nodded to Analea "I know how to perform the listed exercises, why must I exercise though? In the past my nanoprobes ensured that I remained in good physical condition."

Analea answered, "And they will continue to make sure that you remain in good physical condition, but you need to exercise to train your nervous and muscular fibers how to function in your enhanced strength state. Also the amount of fibers is directly related to how much you use your muscles and reflexes, the more you exercise the more fibers will be created until you reach the maximum level. Before you ask I don't know what the level is, I only know that there are only so many of the fibers that can be integrated into your muscles and nerves without actually harming you. Also, you don't have to access your enhanced state to exercise; only about one out of every five exercise sessions should utilize it, the remainder should all be done at your normal strength."

Seven nodded and said, "When should I begin this exercise protocol?"

Analea grinned at Seven and replied, "No time like the present, remember to monitor your hydration levels and drink when you need to. Oh and make sure you exercise today in normal state, tomorrow you will want to exercise in enhanced state." With that Analea nodded to Seven and turned and walked away.

Seven looked back at the data pad, scrolling through it quickly and memorizing the data contained on it, when she looked back up she began what was called the 'Warm Up' which appeared to be a sub-routine of her exercise protocol.

A few hours later Seven completed her exercise protocol, it had proven to be quite interesting giving her a chance to experience how her exoskeleton acted to moderate her body temperature and how her new nanoprobes reacted to physical exertion. Seven realized that she needed to eat; she had used up most of her energy reserves in the past two hours and needed to replace them. The feelings of hollowness in her stomach and the desire for food she identified with some regret as hunger, it was not a sensation she had felt when she had her abdominal implant. Seven wasn't sure she was pleased with these particular new sensations.

Seven walked back to her room and found a fresh glass of juice awaiting her along with a fresh supply of fruits. She chose one of the greenish bread tasting fruits to eat along with her juice. After she ate she realized that she was tired, frowning Seven hoped that she would regain her previous levels of Borg endurance. For now though she gave into her body's needs and lay down on the bed for another afternoon nap.

Seven's sleep was restless as information flooded her cortical node preparing her for the next stage of her physical training. Information equal to one year worth of training in unarmed martial arts, as well as training in several different melee weapons and ranged weapons were added to the wealth of knowledge already in her cortical node. As the information was processed Seven absorbed the knowledge as if she had actually spent the time practicing each skill.

When she awoke Seven sat up abruptly trying to sort out all the information that she had suddenly acquired. Seven was finding what had occurred during her sleep unsettling; it seemed that every time she slept she either remembered something or received new information. Seven closed her eyes a moment and accessed her cortical node, all of her Borg gained information seemed to be there as well as everything she had experienced during her time on Voyager. All the information she had been receiving lately about her implants and now various forms of combat was entirely new to her. Seven reviewed the information available to her and decided that Mulara was making the new information available when she decided Seven needed it. Which logically meant that… Seven's thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door.

A Mularan woman stood at the door, she was not dressed in the traditional robes of a Mularan High Priestess but in clothes that were similar to the ones Seven had been wearing while in the temple.

Seven opened the door and the two of them stared at each other for a moment before the Mularan woman said, "Greetings, I am High Priestess Kayaln. I am your unarmed and weapons trainer."

Seven studied the other woman for a moment then replied, "What is the purpose of this training?"

Kayaln smiled tightly and said, "To train you to use your muscles and reflexes, nothing like the possibility of being hurt to inspire a person to move as quickly as possible."

Seven arched her new cortical node pattern around her left eye in response to the comment, but merely replied, "Indeed." It was a useful response when one did not agree with a statement but did not feel inclined to argue that she had picked up from Lt. Commander Tuvok.

Kayaln snorted and answered, "You need to do something that will require strength, agility and quickness. Unarmed and weapons training is the best way to incorporate all of that into an activity that can be useful and, dare I say it… you might even find it fun… I do. I understand you play Velocity with your Captain correct?"

Seven wondered where the Mularan had learned this fact but she nodded in agreement. Kayaln said, "That's weapons training even if it doesn't appear to be, it combines accuracy, agility, quickness and strategy. And I suspect you consider it a pleasurable activity. This will just be more of the same. I will also give you some phaser training to improve your accuracy if you would like."

Seven considered Kayaln's words and had to agree with them, Velocity was a very demanding sport and she enjoyed her matches with Kathryn even if the older woman won more often than not to Seven's disgruntlement.

Seven nodded cautiously to Kayaln and asked, "Mulara provided the information on several different schools of unarmed martial arts and several different types of weapons, correct?"

Kayaln nodded, "That would be correct, I know that you learned some unarmed martial arts and basic knowledge of how to handle various weapons. I will be training you in unarmed martial arts, which will by the way include how to attack opponents that have weapons. Something I think that may someday prove useful for you to know."

Kayaln smirked at Seven and then with a more serious demeanor said, "What I need to know from you is which weapon would you like to concentrate on? Sword, staff, axe, or Klingon bat'leth. I can teach the sword, staff and axe, the bat'leth I can give you some instruction on how to use it, but Mulara will have to provide a teacher if you choose that weapon. No one on Mularan knows how to use it, which is not surprising since we hadn't heard of it before Voyager visited."

Seven glanced at Kayaln wondering what she meant by the statement that Mulara would have to provide her with a teacher and out of curiosity she said, "Teach me how to use the bat'leth… please."

Kayaln laughed loudly, "Somehow I knew that was the weapon you would choose when Mulara let me know which weapons you had to choose from. Let's start with the training I can teach you by myself. We will start the bat'leth training tomorrow. If you will follow me Seven, I will show you where the training area is located."

Seven frowned slightly and said, "I have noticed no training area, nor any other doors besides the one leading to this room. Where is this training area?" Seven had followed Kayaln out into the garden as she was speaking and followed the Mularan woman into the garden.

Kayaln replied, "I believe this is a new area, it's past the path that you take to go to the bathing pool."

They walked past the path leading to the bathing pool and Seven looked in surprise at a path that had not been there earlier this morning. They walked up the new path and came to a pavilion like structure. In the middle of it was a large square that was covered with firm matting. To the side of it was a low table with a candle, it reminded Seven of the table in Tuvok's quarters. This was obviously the new training area. Seven asked, "This structure was present before my arrival in the inner temple garden?"

Kayaln shook her head and answered, "No there is an indoor training area in another part of the temple. This is entirely new."

Seven asked, "How did you know it was here? How does Mulara 'speak' to you?"

Kayaln smiled at Seven, "Oh not in words, I'm sorry if we have been implying that we are actually spoken to, she talks to us in dreams. I learned about this when I was dreaming about teaching you; we walked from your room and up the new path and this was here. In the dream I mean, that's how I knew it would be here now."

Seven frowned slightly and said, "When I regenerated I never dreamed, will all my dreams now come from Mulara?"

Kayaln chuckled kindly, "No some of them will just be dreams, and you will know the difference. Mulara's dreams feel different, maybe it's because you remember them perfectly when you wake up. Normal dreams usually are hard to remember once you wake."

Seven continued to look puzzled but nodded to Kayaln.

Kayaln continued, "Ok I want to see your katas, run through them please."

Seven nodded and bowed politely to her teacher before taking the mat and flawlessly running through the katas that she had been 'taught' during her nap.

It took some time and when she was done Kayaln said, "Nicely done, each move looked very powerful. Remember though that martial arts moves are about more than power and force, they are also about grace and beauty. Your actions should flow from your soul to your body, from your body into the world. Ideally the way you perform your katas should be a reflection of your soul. And I know you have a beautiful soul Seven, Mulara would not have made you one of the reborn otherwise. What are some of the things you think are perfect Seven, and what are some of the things you think are beautiful?"

Seven looked at Kayaln curiously but was willing to answer the woman, "When I saw the Omega Particle I saw perfection, I also saw beauty. I think my exoskeleton is beautiful. I think many of the flowers in this garden are beautiful." Seven paused and continued thinking, "I think that the Lt. B'Elanna Torres is beautiful, and Captain Kathryn Janeway is beautiful."

Kayaln fought to keep a smile from her face and nodded seriously, "What is it about the things and people that you have mentioned that elevates them into beautiful, instead of merely being pretty?"

Seven looked confused for a moment then her face fell into a Borg mask and standing stiffly upright she put her hands behind her back and questioned, "Clarify."

Kayaln examined the woman in front of her and sighed inside. It was not the best time to turn this into a conversation about body language but it needed to be done. Kayaln said, "In a moment, right now we need to address something else. The way you are standing now, do you mean to be telling me that you are arrogant, prideful and perhaps there is something about my question that offends you?"

Seven's mask fell for a moment and she glanced at Kayaln in pure confusion, "I am standing in a manner most comfortable for me. How can my way of standing say anything?"

Kayaln tilted her head to the side and said, "Your abdominal implant and banding… that was the most comfortable way to stand with it?"

Seven replied, "Yes."

Kayaln nodded, "But you don't have an abdominal implant now. Have you ever studied human body language Seven? Humans and for that matter Mularans react instinctively to many things, the way you position your body when you interact with people is part of the conversation. The stance you are in now is usually interpreted as prideful and arrogant. The only time it would not be interpreted that way is if you were officially standing at ease, and even then I don't think that's Starfleet's at ease stance."

Seven looked confused and dropped her hands from behind her back, now she looked entirely uncertain what to do with them. Kayaln's heart went out to the woman and she said, "Seven, look at me. I'm not telling you this to make you feel uncomfortable. I'm supposed to teach you, and that includes teaching you about how to interact with your chosen Collective. No one has told you about body language I gather, and it's put you at a disadvantage when dealing with others. Body language adds to your verbal communication, it can support your verbal communication, be neutral to it, or it can negate it. I suspect you have often unsuspectingly negated or altered the meaning of your verbal communications."

Seven continued to look confused and Kayaln said, "Here watch me when I ask you to explain something. Hopefully my thinking about this won't mess me up; it's not something I think about consciously."

With that Kayaln assumed a neutral stance, arms down loosely by her sides, shoulders square towards Seven but not rigidly so, posture upright but not stiff. "Seven, could you explain why the Omega Particle represented perfection to you?"

Seven observed Kayaln's posture and mimicked it before replying, "I experienced a…moment of clarity when I watched the Omega molecule stabilize, and it seemed to be watching me. It was… perfection."

Kayaln said, "Ah, such moments of perfection are difficult to describe. It was more than how the molecule looked; it was how you felt about the experience of looking at it. I was shown this Omega particle, at first it looked simplistic, yet the more I examined it the more I realized that behind the surface it was very complex. The harmony of the whole molecule, how one part flowed into the next, made the complex appear simple. That is what I saw in the Omega particle."

Seven considered her words and nodded, "You are correct, it is a very complex molecule, yet in its stable state it forms a harmonious whole that is beautiful."

Kayaln held up a finger and said, "Remember what we just discussed about the Omega particle, after I finish going over some more information about body language we will go back to it and I will explain what it has to do with your katas. Now the stance you are in is a basically neutral stance. Lets go over why, one your arms at your sides indicates that you are not defensive. Crossed arms are usually a sign of defensiveness especially when they are crossed over the chest area. A straight but neither too relaxed or tense posture indicates that you are attentive but not expecting an attack. Your shoulders are square facing me, which indicates that you are paying attention to what I am saying."

Seven stared at Kayaln incredulous, "You are interpreting this all from how I am standing?"

Kayaln nodded, "Yes I am, I'm convinced that in both our species social body posturing predated the development of speech. With the development of speech our body language's influence relative to spoken language decreased. However, we still instinctively use it to communicate certain things like how we are reacting to what the other person is saying, what we perceive our social position is relative to the person we are speaking to, and the level of threat we think the other person represents. So crossed arms are usually defensive, they indicate that the person feels the need to protect the torso, while dropped arms indicate that you aren't feeling threatened, and arms behind the back indicate that you either think the person is no threat to you, or in the case of a military stance, that you will initiate no threatening actions. However, I have noticed that for some people crossed arms represents a fairly relaxed stance, so it differs from person to person." Kayaln crossed her arms in a relaxed pose to demonstrate what she meant for Seven.

Seven looked thoughtful and crossed her arms under her breasts, trying to mimic Kayaln's new pose, instead she succeeding in supporting and uplifting her chest and framing it perfectly. Kayaln's eyebrows rose and she decided that the body language the woman was projecting was other than what she had intended.

Seven's face went from thoughtful to uncertain, Kayaln's reaction was not what she was expecting. The Mularan woman had a decidedly odd look on her face as if she were deciding how to react.

Kayaln took a breath and said, "Seven with your build you need to cross your arms higher up on your chest, you should never cross your arm's underneath your breasts like that unless you are intending on making what would be considered to be a sexual display in any culture where women had secondary sexual development such as Mularans and Humans. In our culture the level of vulgarity would depend on the place and person that you did that to. A spouse or lover depending on the circumstances would probably consider it amusing and most likely an invitation."

Seven's eyes widened and she flushed slightly as she hurriedly crossed her arms again, this time higher up on her chest. Kayaln nodded and said, "You're slightly tensed up so I would interpret this as slightly defensive." Seven took a few breaths and relaxed her stance. Kayaln made a suggestion, "If you are going for a relaxed look try arranging your hands so that your fingers rest on the outside of the arm and your thumbs are tucked under your arms to hold your hands there. One hand out, one hand tucked under looks more defensive than both hands outward. Both hands tucked under looks very defensive if you were wondering."

Seven made the suggested change and looked down at herself saying, "Captain Janeway often uses this form of body language. This would be interpreted as defensive but not threatened?"

Kayaln smiled and replied, "Very good, that would be how I would interpret that stance." Kayaln continued, "I think that's probably enough social lessons for right now, lets go back to discussing what the Omega molecule has to do with katas. You said that the Omega molecule's harmony makes it beautiful, I said that I thought that its harmony made it appear simple; we both agreed that it was actually very complex. Now to how this applies to your katas, your soul recognizes harmony of form as beautiful. Do you agree or am I incorrect?"

Seven thought about what Kayaln had said and replied, "Harmony of form can be interpreted to be beautiful, it is what I find to be beautiful about these gardens. Harmony of form with function is what I find beautiful about my exoskeleton."

Kayaln nodded and looked at Seven and stated seriously, "Then let your katas show harmony of form with function. Concentrate on making every move you make harmonious with its form and function. You know what attacks and defense moves the katas practice, make sure that the moves reflect their purpose. In that way they will show harmony with function. They should also reflect harmony of form, move precisely and with intent, and make sure you flow from one move to another. Your soul has a desire for perfection, bring it forth to your mind then show it in your body as you perform your katas."

Seven looked at the Mularan woman uncertain as to how to go about accomplishing what suddenly appeared to be an insurmountable task.

Kayaln interpreted the look correctly and said, "Start with a meditation of the Omega particle. Then strive to bring your passion for perfection into your performance of the kata. Remember that perfection is a goal; it is not going to be reached in one session. Strive to do your best every time you practice is all that I ask. Now meditate and when you are ready start your katas again. And do not forget that the Omega molecule is the most powerful known in the universe."

With Kayaln's instructions fresh in her mind, Seven went over to the side of the pavilion where she could see a convenient low table with a candle and lighter set on top of it. Once there she knelt and lit the candle with the lighter and stared into the flame. She strove to clear her mind as Tuvok had taught and then she accessed her memory and watched again as the Omega molecule stabilized and she saw perfection.

She held the memory in her mind and looked into the molecule, realizing that Kayaln had been correct, its harmony made appear simple, yet it was an incredibly complex structure. Seven strove to understand how this might apply to her katas and decided that she would have to be very precise and detailed yet harmonious in how she performed each move. If she succeeded the kata should look simple on the surface, yet when a more detailed examination was taken the complexity of each move should be seen. Seven was still uncertain how to accomplish the task however.

Seven recalled that Kayaln had said that each move should reflect its purpose, and she should move precisely and with intent while flowing from one move to another. Perhaps if she concentrated on accomplishing that first, she would see how to accomplish the other. With this in mind she ran over the katas, focusing first on the purpose of each move of the kata. Each move had a purpose, as an attack, a defense or a mixture of both. Then Seven thought about how she could make each move flow more into the next, when she had performed them before each move had been very distinct. Now she understood that she needed to move continuously from one form to the next.

When she thought she was prepared to try again she blew out the candle and went over to where Kayaln standing saying, "I believe I am ready to try again."

Kayaln nodded saying nothing and Seven walked onto the mat and began her katas again from the beginning. When she was done Seven looked over to Kayaln and was pleased to see her teacher looking back at her with a smile. Kayaln said, "Much better, each move showed that you understood its purpose. You did not pause between them this time but kept your flow from one to the next, that is how it is supposed to look. Now let us spar for a while and I will see if you can put that knowledge into practice."

They sparred until Kayaln called a halt for a break for water and food, then Kayaln started explaining to Seven how to react to armed opponents, another hour passed by before Kayaln finally called it a night.

Chapter 5

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