By Elizabeth Carter
They were coming.
This time the cybernetic menace had a new weapon, and new directives something more devastating than themselves. Their objective was the same, conquer by adding the distinctiveness of technology and biology of the "jeghpu'wI to the Collective.'
That word alone caused a stir in the Alpha Quadrant. jeghpu'wI: it was Klingioness for a concurred people something more than slaves but less than citizens. Freewill was expunged not with the cold directives of the Hive Mind of the unaltered Borg, but with the ancient ideals of warriors. It was an honor to be apart of the Collective, those newly assimilated were given directives that a drone must work to attain what is wanted or need. Survival must be earned, victory must be earned. If a drone ignores duty, acts dishonorably or is disloyal, it is nothing. Duty was to the Collective. Loyalty was to the Hive Mind and it was honorable to act in the interests of the Collective. It was the duty of every Drone to Assimilate. It was the duty of every drone to bring a level of perfection to the Collective.
The difference with this new directive of the 'Maquis' Collective was that they did not ignore that which was once deemed irrelevant or inconsequential to the familiar Borg. Granted they would ignore insignificant things, paying little attention to it, but they would no longer ignore a possible target. If a species was not worthy of assimilation, it was destroyed. They would conquer what they desired. The 'Maquis' Borg became a warrior society. Adapted and evolved, the new motives of the 'Maquis' Borg seemed to be more Klingon than cybernetic mindlessness. And this frightened the Federation.
The Collective was mighty foe before because they were a unit, each drone apart of a greater whole. It was the same now, but something had altered them, a drone in battle would not abalone one form its Unimatrix, nor would it allow one of its Unimatrix to go to battle alone. What was a greater shock was the new weapon the Borg employed.
Thousands of them came from a single cube. The weapons were a hybrid of spiders and jelly-fish. Black-emerald metallic spindling tentacles trailed behind them as propulsion, but they were more than that. Once they were locked on target the tentacles started to disassemble it as well as assimilate it. Biological or mechanical it was all irrelevant, what mattered was the opposition was concord.
Those that faced the Borg Swarm and actually survived to tell the tale, reported all the same thing. The Swarm came by the thousands their kinetic ballistic force ripped holes into the hulls of ships. Then like a jelly-fish they struck the nero-pathways of the ships systems disabling it, just before they started to either assimilate it or tear the ship apart, hull by hull, deck plating by deck plating, rivet by rivet. Biological entities were either assimilated, or torn apart by those same tentacles flesh by flesh, muscle by muscle, bone by bone. And what the Swarm did not finish, tactical drones did.
Reports also indicated that the Swarm drones were made up out of heavy metallic alloy that had cloaking capabilities. Add to this they were as adaptive as a typical Borg, but more than that, they seemed to be able to simulate astrological phenomena, and the signatures of vessels. How the Borg came to posses such capacities could only be guessed at.
"They are as intelligent as glob flies, but they do have an adaptive CPU." Keillien said.
"They are made up out of the same element you are," B'Elanna smiled as she ran her tricorder over the chromed surface of the 'torpedo'."Sweet." The engineer thought the design of the weapons were unique. In fact it was an extension of the ship much like the quills of a porcupine that could be easily dislodged. However the shape conformed to the look of jellyfish. The tentacles would both propel the head of the torpedo and strike the target with astronomical kinetic force it would then like a spider scurry over the hull of the target tearing it into scrap at the same time send a paralyzing EM surge into the nero-systems of said ship.
"Yes. They are an effective weapon, as with myself they can simulate astrological phenomenal as well as the matrix of a ships signature so they can go undetected. They adapt to their targets and learn."
'Sounds like the Borg adaptation of my own version of dreadnought.....Kah'less what a weapon.' the small engineer said to herself. "Okay Keillien, lets take a test flight, you up for that?"
'It is boring here," the sentient vessel responded."I am most excited to go out."
"Good. I want to see what these weapons can do, come on girl let's see what you've got." B'Elanna moved to helm control and started to enter the commands that would give pilot control over to her.
"I will comply."
"If I didn't know better Keillien, I'd say your Seven's daughter."
"She is the Queen." the tone was flat as if B'Elanna should have already known.
"She assimilated me, her matrix commands her designation to be recognized as the Queen of the Maquis."
"I think you're a little confused." The engineer commented, "The Maquis is a resistance cell, against oppression and the Cardassian hoard and the strangle hold of the Federation. There isn't a Queen, there have been leaders. The Queen belongs....well to the Borg."
"Affirmative," the ship responded. "Which is Seven of Nine ben'el of B'Elanna Torres."
B'Elanna didn't give the matter much more thought, after all the ship was young. Besides the point Seven had a couple of times commented that she wanted to belong to the Maquis and since the marriage she had adapted the role with gladness. And B'Elanna was more than pleased to have her lover with her in the Maquis. Keillien must have picked up on this during the small tenure of connection she had with Seven during the assimilation. The Queen bit made since too since both Sochlings and Naomi concerned Seven of Nine Queen of the good Borg. All three of them. Well perhaps four if Magnus Hansen recovered.
"Whatever you say, Keillien. We've got a job to do." B'Elanna said dismissive-ly. Now her mind had focused on her wife. That look in those blue eyes when she saw her father laying on the bio-bed was going to haunt B'Elanna forever. There was fear, loathing and a sadness that B'Elanna felt her heart seize painfully in her chest until she could only gasp for breath. She had cursed the Captain for once again turning Seven's world on end.
"Well we are all finished here." The doctor said as he lifted the dermal generator from the bare rump of a grumpy Klingon. "I will advice you that a shower stall was not designed for sexual intercourse." Thinking he was rather amusing he added, "especially the more athletic coarse approach to sex the Klingons are known for."
"Said the man who has no penis," B'Elanna shot back, "not even a photonic one. Of course you can only fantasize about a good lay with my wife, the captain and myself."
"You can leave my sick bay, Lieutenant." the EMH grumbled as he moved around the curtain. "In fact you can all be discharged." With that he was about to deactivate himself when he got a call from the Captain.
'I have medical emergency I want a force ten bio-hazardous isolation force shield erected.' the voice of the captain came over the intercom.
"I understand Captain, who is my patient."
"A deactivated drone of Seven's acquaintance, I want you to start rehabilitative surgery at once doctor..' Janeway answered cryptically. "Expect a full security contingent, Janeway out."
Every eye was starring at Seven of Nine who wore an expression of complete befuddlement.
'Janeway to Seven of Nine.'
Seven still locked in a world of stymied wonder she tapped the combadge at her chest uttering the words of acknowledgment. "Seven here."
"Seven make your way to sickbay, I'll be there shortly, there is someone there you need to greet."
'Your father.' the voice of Janeway sounded confident and pleased.
Seven wavered on her feet in the hearing of the drone's identity. B'Elanna responded immediately taking her wife into her arms and resting her up against the biobed.
"Stick Girl you going to be okay?" Miral was on the other side of the bed, her hands resting upon the long back of her daughter-in-law.
"I am functioning within acceptable parameters." Seven said automatically. 'I am Borg I will adapt. I have to adapt....'
At that Miral extended a very concerned look to her own child who was shaking her head. "Kah'less what was that woman thinking?" the hybrids words were cut off by Seven's trembling form. Not hesitating B'Elanna engulfed her beloved into her arms holding the blonde tightly against her own chest.
"I am weak." Seven muttered. "I am having difficulty in adapting. Why should I feel such...fear...in...B'Elanna do not leave my side."
"I wont babe, your Bella is right here." B'Elanna cooed rubbing her wife's back in tiny circles her own mother once had done when she was babe-in-arms.
"I'll be here too, Stick Girl. And seeing one's parent after so long will do that to you. Trust me, seeing my own kid was a shock to me it isn't a weakness."
"Well 'daddy-dearest' kinda liked to smack Annika around when she got a little 'difficult'. The last time was just before the Borg attacked the Raven. She tried to tell her parents the Queen had painted her as a target. They were arrogant and careless and served their baby up on a friggin silver platter. Trust me I know. This sudden appearance of 'papa' isn't something that will be welcome." B'Elanna explained. Her mind of course recalled the memories she had had when she was within Seven's body and had inadvertently accessed the locked away memories of Seven's assimilation. During the explanation she had to concentrate on the telling it as a third person rather than first person. For having accessed those memories B'Elanna's mind had imprinted upon it as if they had been her own memories rather than Seven's
The unconscience body of a tall male entombed in black Borg armor appeared on the biobed even as they were talking. The doctor ordered the forcefield erected and simply walked through it as he was after all only light and protons.
"So this is your father, Seven?" The EMH said as if this was an everyday occurrence.
Seven hadn't answered. Her blue eyes widened, starring at the figure on the bed. She could still the scarring of the wound she had delivered to him when she had been aboard the diamond. Those cerulean orbs had not lifted from it. Yes her father had on occasion abused her but this was her father and she still cared for him.
The Borg had certainly abused Seven and yet a part of her was still very protective of them, and she cared for the Borg even knowing their directives inflicted pain on others. She had not considered them evil. The concepts of good and evil were inefficient next to the order of omega, and the quest for perfection.
But caring about someone did not necessarily dictated one wanted to be near or otherwise interact with them. Seven had no desire to ever be with the Borg or her father and mother again. Now she had no choice. The Queen had made Seven go to the Borg. Janeway had made Seven be with her father.
Flight or fight instinct took over. Seven started backing up away from the prone inert figure on the biobed.
"I'm damaged, B'Elanna." Seven slipped into Borg speak. "I..."
"Its okay baby. Annika.....Nic...BangwI, I'll protect you." B'Elanna engulfed her wife's trembling body into her very strong arms and turned Seven around so she was now facing the opposite wall. "I've got you. Focus on me, on our daughter....everything else is irrelevant."
The doctor of course had assumed Seven's reaction was of a worried daughter. "Not to worry Seven, I'll have your Papa up and running in no time." He smiled then went back to work on trying to remove the Borg implants encasing Magnus Hanson.
"Stick Girl, you are the only survivor of your house. Tell that photonic thing, stop. It is your right, girl. That thing on the bed isn't your father, he died a long time ago."
Seven looked up to Miral with wide eyed wonder. It was plain to see the thought had never occurred to her that she could have the procedure stopped. Mizoti brash and impetuous as all children are marched up to the biobed stopping just short of the forcefield.
"I order you to stop! I speak in the name of my mother, who right now can't speak for herself."
"Mizoti..." The doctor stopped then looked up to Seven with questioning eyes. "Seven? Is this true?"
She nodded a meekness never before scene on her flashed in the blue depths of her eyes. "He can not be activated."
"Why?" The doctor looked back to his patient. "Seven, I know there are difficult memories to deal with but obviously you have a caring family to help you through it. I am sorry Seven but I have to complete my task of saving this life. " he pointed to the drone formally known as Three of Five. "He suffered a great deal of damage and was taken prematurely out of his alcove. A drone can be deactivated for seventy-three hours and the Borg can still save their life. This medical knowledge is valuable. Add that to the fact that Mr. Hanson here is a medical-drone is invaluable. I have to try and save him. I am sorry Seven but your father doesn't have a living will, I can not, not try to save him. You were saved, as were your children. Seven don't worry it will be fine you see. You are Borg you'll adapt."
"She shouldn't have to!" B'Elanna roared. "That is her goddamn father and if she dost want 'extraordinary means' to save his worthless arse than her wishes have to be observed.
B'Elanna closed her dark eyes willing the pained expression of Seven far from her, she need to focus the fire stirring in her belly. She was Klingon and she would take vengeance upon the only thing she could the Borg. Janeway would have to wait. But the captain would get her comeuppance for the deliberate pain she suffered on B'Elanna's wife.
B'Elanna's true anger with Janeway was that, Seven idolized the captain. True Seven would disobey orders, she could be very difficult and she would outright refuse to comply but even in all of that Seven would do everything possible she could for Janeway. Seven loved Kathryn Janeway deeply, it might not be romantic love, but Seven's love of the older fiery woman was plan for anyone to see. Janeway had taken Seven from the Borg, the only 'family' she had had for nearly twenty years and Seven still cared for the captain. Force her eldest child into danger and Seven still loved Janeway. Granted Icheb was safe and sound where he was now but still....Janeway had forced his departer in the first place.
She had ordered the littlest of the Sochlings away and Seven still loved her captain, her sons died because of that order and Seven still loved the captain. This last thing... Seven complying with Janeway trying to thrust an unwanted presence of Magnus Hansen onto the lanky blonde stirred a fire so deep within B'Elanna, the Klingon doubted it would ever burn out completely.
And so B'Elanna's only recourse was to take her anger out on the diamond. The thing was B'Elanna was just as fiercely loyal and come just as fiercely to care for Janeway and that was what truly pissed her off.
Seven hadn't moved from her spot, it was as if she had become rooted to the deck platting of sickbay. Her blue eyes starring at the figure on the bed. She had not known how long she had been there but it was long enough for Captain Janeway to return from the away mission.
Upon seeing the superior expression of triumph upon their captain's face B'Elanna for the first time since the time of the Caretaker wanted to give into her rage and wipe that smugness form the other woman's face. 'This is why I hated Starfleet self righteous pac'ta, them and the lapdogs of the Federation.'
The triumphant expression on Janeway way fell almost instantly when she saw her young protege. Material instincts drove Kathryn forward touching Seven's arm. The former drone gave no indication she knew she had been touched, none at all. She simply stared at the figure on the bed, her blue eyes screaming the pain her heart was feeling.
"He's going to be okay." Janeway said misinterpreting the young woman's body language. "Our Doctor will see to it, do worry Seven."
"Why?" the blonde uttered so silently Kathryn wasn't so sure she actually heard the voice.
"I don't know Seven, but you have your father back." Janeway answered under the assumption that Seven was asking the great cosmic question why do things happen they way they do.
"Why did you bring him here? I don't want him here."
"Seven?" The Captain laid a scrutinizing gaze upon the form Borg. "Care to elaborate?" her tone that was of giving an order. Seven was about to open her mouth to comply when B'Elanna gripped her wife's pressure on his arm.
"You don't have to answer that Annika. Its personal a Captain has no business interfering with the personal life of her crewmates. Come home with me Be'nel, I'll take care of you." The message was loud and clear and more than that it was one hundred percent correct.
Janeway opened her mouth to say something but snapped it shut watching as her chief engineer escorted her astrometrics officer out of sickbay. She saw only briefly was Rothery stepped out of the shadows offering her own brand of silent support for her lover.
"I can understand," Miral said watching the same pair leave her child and daughter-in-law. "I wouldn't want some honorless pa'tac back in my life either, espcially one that I would only associate pain with. Sometimes its better to leave the dead, dead. Stick...my daughter-in-law said goodbye to her father a long time ago. Now she is faced with a thing that has her father's face."
Again Janeway opened her mouth to say something but was stopped by Mizoti. "Captain? If I do something that makes you angry....will you make me go back to the Wysanti?"
"What...why would you ask that sweety?' Janeway was now kneeling in front of the Norcadian. Her own steel-blue eyes be-spelled by the hazel eyes of Seven's daughter.
"SoS'oy loves Mor...not you...mot like that. She must have made you angry so you brought her papa back to punish her." The child found the blue carpet of sickbay immensely fascinating.
Kathryn's fingers lifted Mizoti's chin. "I wanted to bring Seven her family back...I would never intentionally hurt your mother, Mizoti. You know that."
The girl didn't answer.
"My SoS'oy need me." the girl clammed up and darted out of sickbay as quickly as her little legs could carry her.
Miral shrugged. "You'd think she was genetically Lanna's wa'hom. Lanna dealt with difficult things in the same way, it's the human in her. However it's a good thing she is running to someone rather than away from some one."
"I had meant only goodness out of this." Kathryn's voice betrayed a meeker side of herself, one only Amanda Rothery had ever heard.
"Isn't there a human saying Captain about the road to hell is paved with good intentions? Of course Grethor has a road paved by the same thing." Shrugging the older Klingon left presumably after her family, leaving the captain alone with her security detail, the drone and the EMH.
"Captain..." a hesitant voice of the holographic doctor broke through Janeway's wall of guilt. "Maybe we should get Seven back in here."
"Why? What's wrong?" the captain stepped up to the forcefield, her guards and Rothery. The latter placed her own hand upon her lover's arm.
"Captain....."there was a hesitation in the doctor's voice. "He was prematurely extracted from the alcove. A drone can be deactivated up to severity-three hours before they can not be restored. The amount of damage this dron....Mr. Hansen sustained was critical. Seven knew exactly how to deactivate him and she did so quick and painless. He hadn't suffered when he went down. He was placed in the medical alcove to be restored..."
"And when I ordered his extraction," Kathryn swallowed. "I sentenced him to death."
"I am sorry Captain. But ironically had remained with the Borg he would have had a chance. I can't save him. The degradation of his systems is too much for me to recover. He might have an extended span of life if Seven were to donate her nanoprobes and a sustained time in an alcove, but even then he would be in a coma. The shock to his cortical node un-repairable Its failing Captain and unless we get a knew one there isn't even a remote chance I can save him."
"And with the node?" Rothery asked for her Captain. "We have a whole ship of parts out there, just waiting to be harvested."
The photonic doctor shook his head. "The retro virus introduced in to the Borg will not give a viable donor. And its unethical to harvest from an unwilling host." The Doctor pinned the Captain having to go against her wishes before on this same issue when Seven was dying. Janeway had been willing to catch a live drone removes its cortical node all so Seven could live and be damned the consequences.
The Captain just stared at the pale figure on the bed. All she wanted to do was to give Seven her family back. But she had forgotten to look at the people surrounding the young woman. A wife, two kids, a goddaughter, a mother-in-law....and even a 'sister' in Samantha Wildman, an uncle in Neelix and even a maternal figure in the captain herself. Seven had her family.
"Can he be revived?" Janeway asked.
"Yes, but he will be in severe pain, and the chances of him being cognizant are ten to one, Captain." The doctor said. "And with he being Borg, I can not give him anything to numb the pain."
"Can we return him to the Diamond?" Janeway was desperate.
"No. Once again the retro-virus will have contaminated all the ships systems. He might have had a chance to adapt to the virus had he remained on the diamond. To transport him back would surly kill him and it wont be the swift kind death Seven gave her father, it would be brutal. As a physician I will not allow it. Captain he is essentially a prisoner of war. He had certain rights amenable to him."
"Of course." Janeway could only nod. "In that case doctor keep me posted, I'll be in on the bridge. Rothery your with me."
"Aye Captain." the lieutenant answered and tailed after her captain leaving the doctor and drone alone. Her dark eyes betrayed her deep concern for her lover. From previous experiences Amanda knew Kathryn would go into a downward spiral of guilt and dispar. Just what they didn't need post Borg encounter.
B'Elanna wasn't the only one reflecting upon so recent a memory. Kathryn Janeway lamented over the decision she had made. So much so she had not thought twice over the decision to destroy the Borg diamond, or Torres' request she had the new recovered shuttle assist in carrying out those orders.
It had only been an hour since the incident in sickbay, Torres must have managed to calm Seven down enough to be confident in leaving her behind. Of course Seven had her youngest and her mother-in-law there as a support group so the distraught young Bog would be able to manage a couple of hours without her wife.
Commander Chakotay was in full compliance the Borg ship should be destroyed. And since the drone Magnus Hansen could not be salvaged..healed...than it..he...should be sent back to the dimand as well. To be buried in space as it were.
Janeway refused after all the drone wasn't quite dead yet, and she could not consciously send a 'prisoner of war or a refugee' to their deaths.
'I want to target the diamond, I promised my wife I'd protect her, she wants that frigging thing destroyed and that is exactly what I intend to do.'
B'Elanna's words still encoded in her ears. The captain knew that if she did not allow the hybrid Klingon she would hijack her own ship the Keillien and do the job herself. And if she didn't because of duty Captain Miral would do the deed herself. And so Janeway allowed the young engineer to leave with the unique living ship.
From the front viewer revealed the Keillien disembarking from the shuttlebay. In moments the Diamond was bombarded with what looked like silver metallic jellyfish. A swarm of weaponry left the 'mouth / weapons array' of species 342, with a single mission.
They were coming.
The crew of Voyager watched in fascination as the 'torpedoes' bombarded the diamond with quantum kinetic energy, shredding holes in the hull. There were dozens of them forming a single flight path, so closely that they looked to be a single writhing entity rather than dozens of single spidery-metallic jellyfish. Once they struck their target, the spindling tentacles of the metallic jellyfish clung to the hull and preceded to rip apart the ship.
"Captain," Harry Kim said from Ops. "This is amazing, um..lack of a better word jellyfish torpedoes emanate an EM surge that effectively shuts down the ships systems. It'd be devastating on a ship like ours that uses nero-circuitry."
"Very much like the jellyfish they resemble. When I was twelve I can remember being stung by a jellyfish swimming in the Atlantic." Chakotay said. "My whole body sized up and I was paralyzed. Would have drowned if it wasn't for my grandfather."
"In this instance it is not a biological organism the 'jellyfish' sting but vessels, efficient and effective." Came Tuvok's report.
"And they make short work of it to." Rothery stared at the view from her position at the helm. "Holly Hannah, would you just look at that thing, they don't stop!"
A head of them the metallic jellyfish had breached the hull of the diamond and spider-walked into the gapping fissures their metallic claws and created.
"Damn...what could stop them?" Amanda whispered, thinking how could one evade such a swarm?
"Hopefully the Keillien." Janeway said with a little less confidence than she would have preferred.
The bridge crew continued to stare as the diamond was 'dissembled' from the inside out, leaving behind a debris field several kilometers long. The swarm changed trajectory and headed directly for Voyager.
"Voyager to Keillien, stand down your weapons!" Janeway bellowed.
'Keillien here, Captain. Weapons are impotent and are awaiting pickup. They are renewable.' B'Elanna answered. 'We are on our way back now.'
"Good to hear Lieutenant." Janeway smiled briefly. "I want you to take one of the 'jellyfish torpedoes' to engineering and dissect it."
'Jellyfish torpedoes?' the smirk was in the voice of Torres.
"My idea Maquis. Come on they DO look like jellyfish." Harry defended himself.
'Good name. I'll get on the dissection momentarily Captain, Torres out.'
"God I swear she picked up Seven's bad habits after spending time in her body." Chakotay said. "B'Elanna knows better than to sign off before being dismissed."
"And who's idea was to make the body switch happen in the first place Commander?" Janeway abolished not allowing her first officer to rant about prodical when he himself broke prodical with his unorthodox and unsanctioned method of punished months earlier.
"Pot calling the kettle black, got your point, Captain." the large bear of a man tried to smile to fain away his uncomfortable situation. He had suffered many an uncomfortable situation in the past few days, one of which still remained in sickbay. A situation of course he had to place in his official reports for Starfleet.
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