By Elizabeth Carter
The Quadrants were at each other's throats baying for blood. Tempers were heated, it was a plasma fire waiting to burst. War: it seemed to be whispered about upon the lips of everyone, out-world colonist, Federation and Imperial civilian, refugees fleeing the Dominion war and soldier alike. However it was not just the flare battles of the Dominion which rallied the Quadrants. Nations were striking at nations. Every leader was clamoring for answers. The question, the birth of the new Borg. The Maquis Borg as they were now called.
Early reports indicated that 'Maquis' Collective did not ignore that which was once deemed irrelevant or inconsequential to the familiar Borg. They only ignored the more insignificant things, paying little attention to it, but they would no longer ignore a possible target. The Maquis Borg didn't even bother with phaser fire anymore they simply deployed the jellyfish-spider drones. The tactical drones did the rest. If a species was not worthy of assimilation, it was destroyed. They would conquer what they desired. The first to feel the strike of the Maquis Borg had been the Cardassians, and for a while the Federation and the Klingons were content to allow it. After all the Cardassian Empire had allied itself with the Dominion, and having the Swarm strike Dominion, Breen and Jem'Hadar vessels was beneficial to the war effort.
Even the Collective could not withstand the Maquis-Borg and they seemed of all races encountered targeted the hardest. In fact when the new Borg went out their way to hunt down and re-assimilate their cousins, even when in an altercation with other ships. Reports from surveying ships reported the chrome-vessels attacked the familiar black-green cubes until the entire vessel was crawling with the Swarm. When the jellyfish-spider drones left their selected victims, a new chrome vessel was left behind, and drones converted into the Maquis-Borg. They were the superior model and so the familiar Borg complied with the upgrade.
Planet-side attacks were much the same, the Swarm came in surrounding everything, resembling insects over a dead body, crawling over buildings and infesting them and converting them with enhanced nanoprobes, the indigenous populations died or were assimilated. So far seven colonies had fallen to the Maquis-Borg. The colonists assimilated, their homes, every building converted into Borg domains. The atmosphere had been altered to high concentrations of methane and fluorine and carbon monoxide. New Borg colonies were established where launching platforms were created for further attacks in the system. The Maquis-Borg were even more unstoppable than their cousins.
For this reason Captain Jean-Luc Picard had been deliberately summoned to evaluate and contain the situation, as well as lead a fleet of Starships to face the new Borg. His expertise with Klingon politics would make him invaluable.
Throughout the Great Hall of High Council on Qo'noS a huge, windowless, high-ceilinged chamber housed the finely rendered statues of the Empire's greatest warriors. They loomed over the throne in the center of the Hall, it was here that Chancellor's great cloak adorned with a dozen different metals was draped over the back. The air felt stale, reeking with the musk of the assorted drunken Klingons, and the overwhelming stink of bloodwine, it seemed to permeate every molecule within the hall.
Gathered in the grandness of the Hall were a host of warriors from various ships, each of them heated in expounding their own theories as to the appearance of the new Borg and the skirmishes that had broke out along the Neutral Zone. The crews of the ships had gathered no only to be given orders to hunt down the new Borg by the Chancellor himself, but discuss what they knew or thought they knew. It got to the point the hall was a roar with arguments and accusations. It wouldn't be long before the warriors started to prove their argument in a more physical manner.
"Enough!" Bellowed the deep voice of Chancellor Martok. The chancellor was covered neck to toe in heavy medal covered cassock that signified his most high office. Where Gowron was ever-political, the one-eyed general was a Warriors' warrior. He was the best the Empire could offer and so it was only natural that the best lead the Empire.
He stood before the assembly, his single eye looking at each warrior in turn. "The battle is never over as long as one of the enemy yet lives." The words originally spoken by Kah'less, now quoted by Chancellor Martok. "Do not think we will allow this slander of honor to go unchecked, but there is a greater enemy than this new Borg."
"It is a mockery of who we are!" growled. Rodek. "The Federation dogs laugh at us. They challenge the fundamentals of what makes us Klingon, what makes us warriors!" Rodek was in truth Kurn also a son of Mogh, a false name invented by Worf to protect his brother, when Gowron cast Worf out of the Empire for opposing him during the raid on Cardassia.
"The Borg proclaim those they are about to conquer jeghpu'wI." Drek Son of Martok grumbled. "We rose to strike against Cardassia, this is Starfleet's dishonorable way to try and tarnish our names, our houses. How can you think we will sit back and allow it?" the younger Klingon spat, his dark eyes never leaving the scarred face of his father.
"The Borg might be created for combat but they do not have the heart of a warrior. We will retain our honor and increase our glory in the battles we will take with the metal constructs, but I tell you again, they are not the true enemy." Martok said. "You would have us chase glob flies, when the true enemy is the lies the Quadrants now believe. There is no proof the Federation is responsible for this deception. I will not be made a fool or have the honor of the Empire stained by the foolish actions of her warriors. We are a proud race and we will go on being proud."
"The Federation is not responsible." Worf's baritone voice boomed, supporting the Chancellor.
"So says the lap-dog of Starfleet," Dorrek son of M'Raq countered. He was backhanded faster than the eye could blink by his elder brother Klag who a few years ago had befriended Commander Riker when he served for a time aboard the I.K.S. Paugh which was the first time a human had served officially with the Klingon Defense Force.
"You quibble like an old woman! Be silent," ordered Klag. "Worf son of Mogh, you will tell us what you know."
"He IS Starfleet!" Drex growled, "His word can NOT be trusted."
Worf swiftly strode forward, his hand striking Drex as it had the day he bested the young warrior on the promenade of DS9, and took his d'k'tahg from him. And once again Worf had claimed the younger warrior's blade and held it to his throat. "You live because I allow it." Worf's voice was chillingly calm. "Never question my honor again, Drex or you die."
Rising the acting Ambassador grunted his disgruntled acknowledgement of Klag's order, "Nine weeks ago Miral daughter of Prasba was captured by a Borg ship that disappeared into the Delta Quadrant where five years prior the USS Voyager and a Maquis vessel were lost. Only recently has Starfleet been able to communicate with Voyager, a fourth of its crew are Maquis. They are led by Kathryn Janeway who has faced in battle the Borg Queen and conquered. She captured and liberated a drone. Not any drone, this one was special to the Queen, in fact she was to be the next in the line of succession to dominate the Collective."
"Who is this Janeway?" Dorrek asked though it was clearly a rhetorical question. If commanders in the Klingon Defense Force had not heard of a Starfleet captain they were of no concern.
Worf decided however to answer the question. "Several years ago Kathryn Janeway had been summoned by Starfleet Command to hunt down a Maquis Raider in the badlands. It was accepted that she was forced to rescue them and use the rebels as a part of her crew rather than have them held in the Brig. But now there are those in Starfleet who doubt Janeway's loyalties. They started looking a little closer to Voyagers crew manifest, Maquis rebels as crewmembers, a Borg drone destined the next Queen as an Astrometrics officer."
"This Janeway lives dangerously. She had Borg crew members?" commented Commander Kurak.
Worf recognized the female from when she was on the Enterprise working with a Ferengi named Dr. Reygia on a metaphasic shield. The project had coast the Ferengi his life, Dr. Beverly Crusher nearly lost her job and Kurak's honor was brought in to question with suspected murder, which of course she was innocent of.
"Janeway not only stole a would-be Queen, but she 'liberated' adolescent Borg children and the father of Seven of Nine." Worf continued his account, "According to Chakotay, formally a Maquis Captain, now first officer of Voyager communicated via Project Pathfinder, that this Seven of Nine infiltrated the Queen's own vessel and with an engineered retro-virus created by the Maquis Chief Engineer, destroyed the Queen, and incited what is known as Royal Protocol. Seven of Nine was initiated by the Collective to become the new Queen. Only she severed herself from the ship before Royal Protocol could finish. According the commander's report Seven had been recently inducted into the Maquis, by one of its own warriors and accepted by her junior officers. This chief engineer of Voyager is also daughter of Miral."
"Are you telling us this Cha'ko'tay's own junior officer is a daughter of the Empire?" Klag managed to keep the surprise out of his voice. "And she deliberately created this new Borg?"
Kurak also a Chief Engineer was intrigued, she would enjoy speaking with this B'Elanna about her accomplishments in engineering, especially considering she was out in the Delta Quadrant with limited resources and creating a new type of Borg with a drone destined to be a Queen.
"I doubt it was deliberate." Worf commented. "More like a byproduct of Seven of Nine's initiation. Her beliefs were assimilated by the Hive Mind when Royal Protocol was instituted, because of the virus the Collective could not declare it irrelevant and so they adapted to it."
"This Seven of Nine is Borg, what do you mean her beliefs?" Martok demanded.
"Commander Chakotay reported that Seven of Nine and B'Elanna Torres have taken the Great Oath. He said that Seven of Nine joined the Maquis Resistance, she was sponsored by B'Elanna and several members of the Maquis." Worf said.
"Bah!" Rodek spat, "She is no Klingon if she takes a Borg to her bed."
Lieutenant Toq however was almost grinning. "And they created the new Borg, to dominate the Delta Quadrant for the Empire."
Worf glanced at the eager young male. He had first encountered the youth in the Carraya system. They were the descendants of those who had survived the Khitomer massacre. He and several others were prisoners in a Romulan prison camp. Worf had gone there because he had heard Mogh was one of the survivors, he was not. The prisoners were living in peace with the Romulans, the children knew nothing of their heritage until Worf told them. Toq and several of the children who wished to go back to the Empire were allowed to leave, the camp was kept a secret, the kids were "survivors of a crash years earlier" Toq entered the Defense Force to honor his lost heritage and Worf. He was as all young enthralled by heroic stories. Apparently the story of B'Elanna was now among them.
Worf himself had to admit he was intrigued by B'Elanna daughter of Miral. Martok was the head of his house. And he knew Miral, a female with exceptional spirit and will. She was, despite Klingon sexism, allowed to command a ship. No allowed wasn't right word she had earned the right to command and was well respected. He had seen a picture of Captain Miral's daughter. Worf thought her a most beautiful sensual female he had laid eyes on. Her beauty surpassed even Kah'lar, and Deanna Troi's.
Martok knew he had to regain the floor, before the heated tempers erupted into a brawl. "We will live up to the ideals of Kah'less. The war against the Dominion is on a scale not seen in generations, for a millennia. We will be victorious, we will not abandon the course of honor. I want proof whether this rise of new Borg serves the Empire or threatens it. If they serve the Empire they are nothing more than the likes of a disrupter.
"We are Klingons, and we must make our Empire strong again. We are winning the war with the Dominion but our greatest resources are nearly depleted, we have lost many fine warriors and we can not allow the Romulans to benefit from the division amongst the Borg, we must use this opportunity that has been given to us. If B'Elanna daughter of Miral has indeed retaken the Borg and made it in the image of the Empire, then she will be remembered in song for generations to come in high glory in the Empire.
"The greatest foe is the unknown, do not trust this new manifestation of the Borg, so far their conquests have only benefitted the Empire, the Cardassians quiver in fear of them, the Jem'Hadar fall easily to them, in this wake it had created hundreds of possibilities for the Empire to expand. If they strike our allies in the Federation we will engage them but we will adhere to our honor, our word and not break the accords of the treaty and strike out against the Federation. Let the Maquis Borg crush the Cardassians into ashes, let them wipe out the Romulans, Breen and Changelings, its like using a Quantum Torpedo we will use them as a weapons resource. You must be ever vigilant, let us go to glory!" Martok's words fired the passion within his warriors. Martok was correct it was a waste to fight against a great wave when you stand in its wake. But to ride the wave, to use it to bring glory to the Empire.
"Starfleet will use the Borg as a launching platform to break the treaty with the Empire, are we to ignore this?" Drex asked of his father. "We use the Maquis Borg to benefit the Empire and the Federation can say we broke the word of the treaty."
"We know Starfleet has sent Picard to battle the new Borg, to stop the flood of their reach. They fear this unknown foe, I say we defeat the unknown and each of you face the foe and be triumphant." Klag said.
"The Borg are cyborgs commanded by a Queen." Worf said with knowing, as he recalled the battle during First Contact when the Queen herself had taken over the Enterprise, Data and engaged in combat against Picard. "If B'Elanna commands the Maquis Borg Queen, this is a benefit to all of us and would be used for tactical advantage."
"The Federation would seek this no doubt." Martok started to think. If Starfleet commanded Voyager, and Voyager was commanded by Janeway, who commanded B'Elanna then Starfleet not the Empire would have the power over the Maquis Borg. This could not be allowed to happen. "Worf, as a member of the Empire and of my House, you will go to this Project Pathfinder and demand to speak to B'Elanna. She is after all the daughter of my mate, I will have the right to speak with her. Make it happen."
Worf knew that Martok had preformed the right of R'uustai for B'Elanna and taken her as his daughter, which was far more than adopting her into his House. The younger male bowed his head acknowledging the Chancellor's orders. And Martok was correct, he did have a right to speak to his "daughter" as any other parent had done since the success of Project Pathfinder opened communications to the Delta Quadrant.
"But what is it?" Mizoti starred at a slice of rokeg blood pie and pipius claw sitting on her plate. Like all apprehensive children she poked at it with her fork and looked up to see her Mor trying not to snicker at her plight.
The Torres-Hansen family were all seated in the mess hall to partake of an afternoon meal of traditional Klingon dishes, that Neelix had started cooking on a regular basis in honor of Captain Miral. It was actually Seven's idea to embrace the Klingon's cuisine on the behalf of her mother-in-law. In fact Seven was adapting to Klingonsium with greater efficiency than she had her humanity. The only other culture she could have easily found a place was Vulcan, but that was not her path.
To B'Elanna it amazed her how much of a Klingon heart Seven truly had. Miral loved it. Save for when on duty, the household spoke almost exclusively in Klingonese. In private within their own bedchamber Seven would speak in Spanish with her wife. B'Elanna turned around of course and was learning how to speak the Swedish language of Annika's Nordic ancestry. Seven's willingness to share apart of her ancestry meant so much to B'Elanna and so the young engineer wanted to return the gesture. Besides there was a quality of eloquence and strength to the language that appealed to B'Elanna.
Nine weeks had passed since the death of Seven's father, and the destruction of the diamond. At long last the total revitalization of security systems had been installed into the matrix of Voyager's central computer. Synthetic voices, false security codes could no longer be used to bypass secure firewalls.
Much had changed in the nine weeks, including the growth of Kellian. The living ship now sailed along side Voyager for it had outgrown the shuttlebay. After feasting upon the potent power of the diamond Kellian had grown eleven times her original size. She was now nearly the size of Voyager's saucer section. This of course fascinated both B'Elanna and Seven both as scientists and engineers.
They were going back to Kellian once they had finished their lunch. B'Elanna was becoming more and more amused watching as Mizoti and Naomi picked at their foods. Icheb like many a growing teenage male decided whatever was on his plate was irrelevant he was hungry and started to devour his lunch.
"It wasn't until Seven snapped her name that the B'Elanna realized that she had yet to stick a fork into her own plate. "You will all cease in these diversionary tactics to avoiding consuming your meals! Commence eating. Comply!" Seven ordered, her voice a hybrid of a Klingon-mother and Borg-queen.
The girls, Icheb, B'Elanna, and even the entire complement in the mess hall turned quickly from the distractions and started to hurriedly consume whatever it was they were eating, lest the mother-Klingon / Borg-queen in Seven do something other than growl at them. Miral let out a barking laugh, thinking it was the funniest thing she had heard and seen in a while. Of course having heard the order given in her native tongue made it all the more comical for the aging Klingon.
It seemed not only to Miral but to B'Elanna that Seven's embrace of the Klingon culture was a survival instinct as much as it was to honor it. Nine weeks ago, Seven had nearly reverted back to the solid mechanical demeanor of the Borg drone she was when she first arrived on Voyager. The memories of her father's bi-polar abuse had summoned memories Seven had felt better buried than relived. B'Elanna's silent strength ebbed the emotional walls as water erodes stone, Of course it was only then that the chief engineer had started to see that her wife was adapting more and more Klingon traits.
This setback or whatever it was one wished to title it could be traced back to Magnus Hansen. After Seven had fled sickbay those many nights ago, she had started to erect the Borg walls once more. The safe walls the secure place where she thought emotions irrelevant. Her wife would not allow it so. It was not the warrior way, it wasn't B'Elanna's style to allow Seven to shy from the difficult things in life. Seven failed at dating and yet she dated B'Elanna, her tragic and ill-fated tryst with the Holodeck also a massive failure but the relationship with B'Elanna was forever strong. Her childhood was no one's pleasure, abducted, assimilated and mental raped by the Queen, physically emotionally and mentally abused by her father for which memories were only now resurfacing. It was all too easy for Seven to become the Ice Queen once more.
B'Elanna wouldn't allow it. They had come so far in a relatively short amount of time. Within five days after the switch of spirits and bodies the two had found more than a common understanding of the other, they had discovered love. Within three weeks, they were ready to commit. How and why they came to move so rapidly into a cemented relationship was difficult to say; but B'Elanna knew one certainty, she loved her wife and would fight whatever nemesis she had to for her and that included Seven's own inner demons.
B'Elanna smirked deeply to herself as she watched her family eat. It sank in more and more each day. She had a family, a ready made one at that. 'A wife and two point five kids if you count Kellian as a family member or at the very least a pet. Never-mind said pet is sentient.'
Now that the power systems were restored to security, Seven and B'Elanna wanted to tackle the quantum transwarp and slip stream drives. They had also wanted to see what Kellian was capable of. It would be after their meal that B'Elanna and Seven accompanied by Miral and the two girls would venture out on the devil-ray shaped vessel. Icheb was on duty and thus unable to join his family.
B'Elanna sat back in her chair watching her family eating, and enjoying the very idea she had a family.
"What are you smirking at about girl?" Miral said gaining her daughter's attention.
"I had to come to the Delta Quadrant to find everything. My honor, my family even peace with my mother. ... I don't think there is much for us for me to go back to in the Alpha Quadrant."
"The Empire is in the Beta quadrant, that's your home B'Elanna. You have a place there, serve with the Defense Force. Captain, Kellian for Empire. The Federation...Starfleet isn't a place for your wife and children. We both know this. They will face challenges but the Empire isn't interested in dissecting your family."
The table grew silent, five sets of eyes looked to Miral, and she looked back her own gray eyes, "I defy you to say differently B'Elanna, you know Starfleet. You said it yourself on that damn Diamond, your wife didn't receive a warm welcome aboard Voyager. What do you think they will do to her and the kids once Starfleet gets a hold of her. You're better off in the Empire, even if you're running your own merchant line rather than apart of the Defense Force. Even the Maquis retreated to the Empire, knowing they had place amongst true warriors."
B'Elanna wanted to defy her mother's words, but somehow she knew the older Klingon was right, The Federation would interrogate and quite possibly perform experiment after experiment on her wife.
"Captain Janeway won't let that happen." Mizoti commented. Nine weeks ago the child had been furiously angry with the captain, now however the bold captain was once again a revered woman of strength. Of course to Mizoti no one not even her Mor could take the pedestal her SoS'oy had been placed upon. "And my mothers will never allow the Federation to dissect us. They defeated the Queen, the Federation's attempt to capture my family will be futile."
There would be no refuting that belief.
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