By Elizabeth Carter
" Seven Annika ." B'Elanna started slowly, her mind swirling around the words she was trying to coherently convey. "Listen to me, don't slip back ."
"Bella?" There was the secret softness to the voice that only the Klingon had ever heard in the ex-drone's voice. "What is it?" The enhanced hand stroked the caramel flesh.
"I thought for a moment ."
"I became as the Queen?"
The brunette nodded.
"I have not, but since the ship has been partially assimilated it will respond with greater proficiency, using the 'command voice' of the a Borg Queen."
"I have to admit, Be'nal, it was a little more than disconcerting to hear those words falling out of your lovely mouth that easily."
"It was not my intention to frighten you, Be'nal."
B'Elanna smiled, not for the reassurance, but for the name. Not even John Toress had used Klingon words. Be'nal . BangwI, it felt good to hear the words of Klingon passion uttered in such warmth and love. Even though Tom Paris had promised to learn the Klingon language he never followed through. After the incident with the Barge of the Dead, Tom felt his involvement was over and he had moved on, or rather back, to Captain Proton and his 65 'Vet."
Seven made B'Elanna want to embrace her Klingon heritage because the language, when spoken by her beloved, was so beautiful. The image of Annika / Seven in the hybrid Klingon-Borg armor was a sight to behold and something B'Elanna would forever see in the theater of her mind's eye. Everything Klingon wasn't overstated after all.
It was odd, but more and more Seven .no Annika had been using Klingon endearments. 'Not so odd, Lanna girl. The woman loves you...'
"You are smiling."
"Yep, I am." B'Elanna stroked the blonde hair and took it out of the aster bun. She always loved it when Seven wore her hair down. She was so beautiful. "Seven of Mine . Thank you." B'Elanna's smile turned into a knowing grin.
As expected, the silver arch of the ocular implant went up. B'Elanna had to stop herself from laughing because she had known what her wife's reaction would be. Again the thought stopped her.
'Kah'less's sword, I have a wife! A Wife! midelaos'
"Seven of Mine, I want you to give me an honest opinion, not conjectured based on the facts, but what you think and feel however illogical."
"Very well," Seven said, her voice reflecting the uncertainty of relying on emotion rather than what she was most familiar with -- logic and reason.
"The Queen. This isn't typical behavior."
" No, it is not. I find it both unsettling and disquieting that She would pursue me." Seven agreed to the non sequitur of the Borg.
"I can understand, Nic. No one likes to be hunted "
"No, Be'nal, that is not the cause for my discontent. Yes, I am loath to be hunted as she pursues me, but she is going against the logic of the collective. This is not the Borg way. This is personal. It is nefarious. And this is why it is disconcerting. What will be the fate of the Borg if the Queen pursues personal wants? This serves no purpose for the collective, no logic that I can fathom."
"Then it's time to stop thinking like a Borg and think like a Maquis. We need a preemptive strike to make this hunter the prey. She is going to have to be on the defensive for once. Let's see what this little ship can do."
"Bella, it is yet underdeveloped. Though her shields are as adaptive as a Borg vessel her offensive capabilities are nearly imperceptible at this time. Bella, we can not engage the Borg."
"Not offensively, not the Starfleet way, no. But, Annika, it's time you started to think like a Maquis. After all, you are married to one."
To this Seven smiled. "Does this make me Maquis by default?"
"To tell you the truth, Seven, I think you'd fit in better with the Maquis than with Starfleet. Hell, you've already rebelled against the Borg and you're not exactly the model Starfleet officer. You've gone up against Janeway as many times as I have."
Again Seven smiled.
"Then I will be Maquis. Tell me, Be'nal, how do you wish to proceed to defeat the Queen in Maquis style?"
"We use all this little baby's defensive capabilities," B'Elanna said as she took position upon the chair at the helm that seemed to have grown out of the ship's floor. Seven took the next station that looked for all intensive purposes to be opps and tactical.
"Okay, bring her under cloak. We need to get as close as possible without being detected," B'Elanna commanded easily.
"Understood." Seven's hand moved to the com-panel, but before she could engage the cloak the ship felt as though it hiccupped.
"I will comply." It was if Mizoti was speaking. No not the Norkadian nor Naomi. The voice was somewhat younger. "We are cloaked."
"Oh!" B'Elanna blinked. "Um great .Annika, you want to explain?"
"The ship is sentient, B'Elanna. We must treat her as such. It is expected that she will take over many aspects of helm control."
"Oh crap, that's all I need is a ship that thinks it's smarter than me." B'Elanna spared a thought to Dreadnought.
"Look you," the Engineer addressed the vessel. "I am the Captain and you follow my orders. Got that?"
"Annika is Queen," the vessel quibbled.
"I did not program it to respond that way, I assure you," Seven defended. "Why do you say that I am Queen?" This last statement was addressed to the vessel.
"It is so. My assimilation is complete."
"Nic?" B'Elanna cocked her head slowly, her dark eyes questioning.
"You forced me to assimilate the mothership, so it is plausible then that the infant ship would also be assimilated. I am the Prime, I have the nanoprobes of Royal Protocol. It is likely that this ship misinterpreted the data and mistook me for the Queen."
"Protocol, okay. It's all good to be politically "
"No, Royal Protocol does not engage in diplomatic situations. It is the protocol that engages the programming that initiates the induction of the new queen."
"Oh," B'Elanna remarked, needing to say something but not knowing what she wanted to say. "Okay fine I still get to be captain."
Seven titled her blonde head. "Vessel, you will comply with all orders Lieutenant B'Elanna Toress gives."
"I will so comply."
B'Elanna rolled her eyes. "We can't keep calling her Vessel."
"Then give her a designation, Bella," Seven said.
"Name, BangwI. A name not a number."
The ex-drone flashed a very brief smirk. "Then I have a name. She will show us a new way in which to defend and protect ourselves. She will show us the way in which to defeat our enemies. I will call her Kellein."
B'Elanna's mind drifted to the time she had spent in the Klingon monastery. The old tales resurfaced. Kellein, daughter of Vath'rag, told Kah'less how to defeat his enemies and how to make the first Bat'lath, the sword of Kah'less.
"Kellein it is," B'Elanna nodded. "I like it." She winked. "Between you and me, Love the Bat'lath was always clumsy and overstated."
"That is because you use a sword not forged for your unique stature," Seven pointed out.
"Unique stature? What do you think, I'm short?"
"Your stature is perfection, B'Elanna," Seven said placidly.
To hear Seven of Nine, formally of Unimatrix Zero One, say that anything about B'Elanna was perfection was high praise indeed. The young hybrid thought it definitely perfect the way she fit to Seven's taller body. She could easily nuzzle into the ample breasts without altering her stance. Yep, perfect.
The women turned their attention to the scan screens aboard the newly commissioned Kellein. Ahead of them the fluctuating nebula generated by the dead mother ship still hung in the void of space like smoke after cannon fire. Clearly marked were the configurations of Voyager and the Borg Diamond. The stalekmate was evident, but the Borg Vessel clearly had the upper hand.
B'Elanna navigated the metallic stingray closer to Voyager.
"Scans show Voyager has lost significant power to shields, she has no weapons and is running on auxiliary power."
"Auxiliary power?" B'Elanna frowned. "That means my engines are down." The words were growled. "That bitch took out my engines!"
"Bella, Voyager is intact. Whatever 'that bitch' did, you and I can repair. But we need to get aboard her first," she logically and coolly pointed out.
"Yeah, you're right."
Plans changed. B'Elanna had wanted to strike the diamond but with so much damage to Voyager, she knew Janeway would need both her and Seven to return.
"Communications monitored on broadband. Shall Kellein patch it through?" the aquatic young voice of the ship asked.
"Yeah, let's hear what they have to say," B'Elanna nodded.
Captain Kathryn Janeway had a sinking feeling that whatever it was the Doctor had wanted to say was critical to their situation. She knew from the reports coming in that Mizoti was one of the casualties. The bold Captain also knew that that little girl was connected somehow to this same circumstance.
Serendipity is a strange phenomenon, for just as Janeway was going to go down to sickbay to personally investigate the bizarre circumstances surrounding sickbay, the Doctor off line and the warning about Mizoti, when the doors to the bridge opened and none other than that same little girl walked out.
"Mizoti Hansen," Janeway sternly addressed the child. "You are not supposed to be on the bridge."
"We are the Borg," the child said, though it was not in her voice. It belonged to none other than the Queen.
Chakotay rose to his feet, as did Janeway. Tuvok aimed his phaser at the girl as Rothery spun around and went for her sidearm only to discover she didn't have one since as a helmsmen she no longer carried a phaser as she would have had she still been 2IC of Security. Despite the fact of the enhanced strength of the little Norkadian, Amanda was confident that she could subdue the child if needs be.
Janeway read the unasked question in Amanda's dark eyes and with a very slight shake of the head indicated for the pilot to remain stationary.
"Your technological and biological distinctiveness will be added to our own. You will be assimilated "
"Standard Borg for hello," young Harry Kim commented with dry wit.
"Captain, I don't know how, but she accessed ship wide communications," Kim added.
"I know you are monitoring communications, Seven of Nine," the emissary of the Queen stated without emotion. "You have forty-eight hours in which to comply with this single ultimatum. Voyager will be destroyed from the inside out as the ship is infested with nanoprobes. By a single command they will shut down all priority systems starting with life support. As you all know, tactical drones can survive the vacuum of space. They will have no difficulty in assimilating what is left of Voyager thereafter."
Mizoti stepped forth and looked the captain dead in the eyes.
"A testament of my sincerity Janeway," The girl's eyes blinked.
"Captain!" Harry screamed, just before the klaxon sounded.
"Warning! Artificial gravity on decks four, five, and six have shut down," he and the computer announced simultaneously.
Mizoti blinked once more.
"Warning! Life-support on deck eleven is inoperative," the computer calmly announced.
Janeway bolted to her feet. "Harry, Tuvok!"
"Captain we Opps control offline." The young ensign's spirit was deflated.
Tuvok's hands frantically danced across the panel in front of him desperately trying to reroute auxiliary power to deck eleven. Mizoti watched him blandly as if he was but a flea to scratch.
"Minimal life support restored," the Vulcan said after three minutes of frantic effort.
Mizoti smiled. "The rest of the ship is just as easily disabled, captain. Those on deck eleven live because I have allowed it. The nanoprobes can and will deactivate the systems."
"Captain, she speaks the truth," the chief of security proclaimed. Scans show nanoprobes have infested all systems. We can not neutralize them .yet."
"Resistance is futile. Only the deliverance of my Prime will save Voyager." The Queens voice echoed throughout the Federation ship. "Comply."
*I will comply*
It was Seven 's voice coming over the communication system. Now everyone on the bridge rose, staring out at the main viewer.
*Restore Voyager as it once was and I will comply.*
*Be'nal, No!* The second voice was recognizably B'Elanna Toress.
* You gave me forty-eight hours, after that time I will surrender myself to the Borg. But you will restore Voyager, now. COMPLY!*
"Agreed," the Queen said.
Mizoti fell to her knees, whimpering, her hands cradling her head "SoS'oy! SoS'oy! It hurts so much!" She curled into a fetal position. "SoS'oy!"
Janeway and Rothery knelt at the girl's side. The older woman cradled Mizoti into her arms, "Your mommy will be back soon, Mizoti." She feathered back the stray locks of auburn hair.
"Captain, a moment ago that girl was the Queen," Chakotay warned.
The dark eyes of Amanda reflected the same worry. If Mizoti was controlled by the Queen from such a distance, what would stop the child-drone from assimilating the captain. More specifically, assimilating her lover.
"Only as a mouth piece. Now she is a girl, and she is Seven's daughter." The Captain said, cradling Mizoti as she stood up. "You have the bridge."
"Captain " the first officer protested again.
"Chakotay, unless we figure something out to defeat the Borg in forty-eight hours this little girl's mother will give herself over to the Queen."
"Yes, Captain." The large bear of a man was defeated. "Of course."
"Captain we have opps control back." Harry's voice was shaking.
"Good." Janeway headed towards her ready room with the precious cargo in her arms.
"Request permission to accompany you Captain, in the capacity of security," Amanda called out.
Looking at the bridge crew, Janeway knew and read their concern that Mizoti was still under the Queen's influence. It was a fear Kathryn shared herself. "Granted."
The long legged blonde bolted to her feet and was at her captain's side instantly. She didn't look back to see Ensign Baxter take over the helm.
"Nononononono and a dozen times no," growled the Klingon. God, Sev...Annika, she wants you. God, it's so fucking apparent. Annika she is in love with you. She *wants* you. Yes, as Prime and she will do whatever it takes to get you. But this isn't, as you said, in the best interest of the collective. So why is she doing it at all? Answer: She wants YOU my love. *YOU*."
"She is disillusioned. Even if I was available, I would not comply with her desires. She has redeeming qualities, yes. But she is far from perfection. I married perfection." The blue eyes confirmed her words. "She cannot compete. She is only the queen, she is not my wife."
B'Elanna, for the moment, was utterly without a voice. What do you say when the soul you love tells you without actually saying it that you are the world, the universe, to her? 'There is nothing you can say,' thought the shorter woman.
Galileo, step aside. The Earth may not be the center of the universe, but for an ex-drone, one of thousands ......one of millions of drones, perfection was found in the hybrid B'Elanna Toress, Spanish Klingon. She was more perfect than the Omega Molecule
To Seven of Nine, to Annika Toress, there was but one soul that mattered most above all and whatever price must be paid, even if it was her own lifeblood, Seven of Nine would gladly pay it to insure the safety of the woman she had married. B'Elanna Toress was Seven of Nine's grail
It was most unfortunate that the Queen of the Borg viewed Seven of Nine tertiary adjacent Unimatrix zero her own grail
"B'Elanna, understand that I have no intention of remaining aboard he Queen's vessel. Just as she attacked our home with nanoprobes, it is my intention to do the same to the diamond. Even if she opens a transwarp corridor, I will sabotage her vessel before we merge into Unimatrix One."
"That's too risky."
"For me? No, Be'nal. I am the only one qualified to do so. My love, did you not say this operation must be dealt with in the style of the Maquis? I will show you how efficient a Maquis I can be."
Captain Janeway laid her precious cargo down upon the sofa within her readyroom. As of the moment there was nothing sinister at all in the girl's presence. There was nothing about her to indicate that a moment ago the Queen of the Borg had used her as a mouthpiece. No, it was more than that this tiny child had been used as a Trojan horse.
"Seven will not be able to cope with all of this. First her sons die, then her daughter is taken over by the Queen ." Janeway feathered the locks once more from the cherub face of the little Norkadian.
Amanda didn't know if her captain, her lover, was speaking rhetorically or to her. The dark eyes of the young blonde studied the form on the couch. Right now Mizoti looked like the innocent yet mischievous and insatiably curious child that Voyager had bidden goodbye to in the transporter room just months ago.
Had Janeway been aware that Seven would have suffered the pains of child loss, had she been aware that the twins would die, that Mizoti would be used as a Trojan horse, the captain would never have tried to contact the races the drone-children belonged too.
But as she had destroyed the Caretaker to protect the Ocompa, Janeway had contacted the homeworlds of the children with the idea that she was doing the right thing. Of course, at the time she had no idea how much emotional investment Seven had with the kids. All she recalled was that Seven of Nine, in the very beginning, had requested that Chakotay reassign their care to someone else. All she knew was that the races of the children had lost their loved ones and deserved to know their lost lambs had been found. Had Kathryn Janeway understood the attachment between the Borglings and Seven, perhaps things would have been different.
Janeway had no idea that the twins and Mizoti thought the redhead so detested the Borg that she didn't want the children aboard because they were once part of the Collective. Nor was she aware that the strength of the bond between Seven and Mizoti was as strong as Kathryn's own to Gretchen Janeway.
Mizoti would rather be with the twins, would rather suffer abuse at the hands of strangers, than be totally separated from those she loved. Since she was only six when assimilated, Seven was emotionally immature at the time of her severance from the collective, but she and the children had connected to each other and, yes, I was tearing them apart to send them in different directions throughout the galaxy. Kathryn hadn't realized that at the time. She just saw lost children who the Borg had snatched and thought the races should have a chance to have their own back. Janeway never considered the trauma the children would go throught to be so separated from each other and from Seven.
Touching the soft skin of the girl, Kathryn felt sick inside. This child had been beaten, because of Borg-speak, by the hands of those who where supposed to be her protectors. This wasn't the occasional trip to the woodshed for the occasional spanking. This had been out right abuse. The girl had been placed in the hands of strangers, had watched her brothers die at the hands of the queen of the Borg. all because Janeway had insisted on contacting their races.
The days following the departure of the kids had been hard on Seven. So hard in fact that she nearly died because of it. Then Icheb had come forward and nearly scarified his life to save the life of the woman who had become his mother.
Mizoti and the twins would have been safe aboard Voyager, and never been in the position to be killed or used as a Trojan horse. Seven would not now be threatened into giving up her life to save not only Voyager but the kids she had taken as her own.
A shadow descended upon the redhead's soul just as it had when she caused her crew to become lost in the Delta Quadrant in the first place, and just as it had when they were traveling in the dark void and she sank into depression. Now once more depression threatened to take her.
Mizoti, the twins, and now Seven would suffer for her choices.
"SoS'oy," Mizoti whimpered in her sleep.
"She will be with us soon, little one," Kathryn said as she caressed the soft cheek of the little girl. "Just hang in there." Sighing, Janeway tapped her combadge. "Captain Janeway to cadet Hansen."
"Hansen here, captain. Go ahead." Icheb said.
"Cadet, I need you to report to my ready room and collect your sister."
"Aye, ma'am." There was a pause. "Captain, I thought she was in sickbay."
"I'll explain later, Icheb. Just report here."
"Aye, ma'am. On my way."
"Kath?" Amanda said as she knelt beside the woman she loved. She had seen the array of emotions spread across the smaller woman and knew the abyss her lover was staring at.
"Those choices are behind us, behind you. We have to deal with the now. Not the woulda, coulda, shoulda's."
"How did you know, Mandy, what I was thinking?"
"I know you." It was a simple answer. "You enjoy your guilt too much, Kath. I had to watch from afar as you allowed the void to take you over when we were trapped in the null-space. Well ,not this time. We need you to lead us. We can't do it alone."
Janeway rolled her steal blue eyes.
"Right now Seven and B'Elanna are out there trying to figure out how to get a one up on the Queen. When they return to us they will need to see your confidence." Amanda reached to cup the face of her lover. "The Queen took the choice away from you. Why do you think she used this child to deliver the ultimatum? Why do you think she had the entire ship know about it? Because there are those on this ship that still do not trust Seven, that still recall Wolf 359, and they blame Seven of Nine for that. They will take her and jettison her out the nearest airlock to the Queen if they have to and I am not just talking about the Equinox crew here, Kath."
"Who?" Murder shown in the blue orbs.
"I don't have specific names, but I do know that resentment of Seven's new rank, of her position as head as astrometrics, and the general rumor that you share your bed with her has some of the personnel in the lower decks ready to jump her. Paris wasn't an isolated incident, Kath. And I have a feeling that somehow the Queen knew this, and is using it. The Queen is assuming that her threat to destroy Voyager if Seven isn't returned is enough to stir a mutiny. It's human nature to self-preserve even at the cost of an innocent."
Janeway didn't like what she was hearing. She didn't like the fact that she knew this to be true. "I don't do well backed into a corner," the willful captain said.
Amanda nodded. "Now that's my Captain."
The redhead smiled. What ever it was she was going to say died on her lips as Icheb Hansen entered the readyroom
'Like mother, like son .' She softly chuckled.
"Captain?" Icheb's brown eyes widened when he saw his little sister on the sofa.
"What happened? Why is she here? She's supposed to be in sickbay. Why did the doctor let her go? She ."
"Slow down, cadet." The command voice was back in Janeway.
"We all heard what the Queen said, what you may not know is that she used Mizoti to say it."
"Then Naomi was right. She said Mizoti was more Borg than Borg."
"Why wasn't this brought to my attention!" Kathryn barked.
Icheb was startled. "Cap Captain, the Doctor, B'Elanna, Neelix and I assumed it was because Mizoti was abused at the hands of the Wysanti as well as seeing Azan and Rebi die at the hands of the Hirogen hunters. We did not think to check her for a carrier wave. The doctor was going to run a few tests, but I had to return to my station when we broke into battle."
"Captain." Rothery redirected the redhead's attention. "The Doctor did hail the bridge earlier."
He had, but Kathryn had cut him off thinking it was a casualties report. "He must have discovered the truth. And the Queen neutralized him before he could reveal it. She must have infected Voyager with the nanoprobes in sickbay."
"That is a logical assumption," Icheb agreed.
"Lieutenant, take two security persons with you and Icheb and Vorik from Engineering . I want a firewall now."
"Icheb, take Mizoti to sickbay. Have Neelix watch over her. Then assist Lieutenant Rothery. Also, see if you can't get the Doctor back on line. His knowledge of this will be invaluable."
At the same time Janeway had been talking with Rothery:
"Commander, there is a new vessel decloaking off starboard flank," Tuvok announced.
Voyager's shields were still only thirty percent operational. It would not survive another firefight.
*Voyager, Toress and Seven here. Request permission to board.*
The viewer now showed the unique and aerodynamic stingray configuration of the alien vessel.
"Lieutenant?" Chakotay didn't hide his surprise as he watched the orange vessel hovering along side Voyager's flank.
*I'll explain later,* The Klingon said.
"Very well, permission granted. And ladies, it's good to have you back."
No one mentioned the point that Seven was only going to be aboard Voyager for forty-eight hours before she yielded herself to the Borg ultimatum.
Moments later Seven and B'Elanna finished briefly explaining the new ship in the shuttle bay that was sharing space along side the delta flyer. They had further explained the dying mothership and its altercation with the diamond, its desperation to hide the newly born infant and the cause for the anomaly that was at this time disputed. Then when B'Elanna reported how Seven have partially assimilated the sentient vessel it was easy to explain the ship's connection to Seven, that it had imprinted upon the former Borg.
" ..are you telling me we have a 'baby' ship in our shuttle bay that thinks its mother is Seven?" Chakotay was hard pressed to believe such rhetorical nonsense.
"At least her Queen," B'Elanna said. "Look, we have more important things to discuss. Like Seven being handed over to that bitch. And how I won't let it happen."
"As of yet we have no alternative," Seven countered.
"We could trade that devilray in our shuttle bay," Harry said.
"No." Seven shook her head. "Unacceptable. Kellian's mother did all that she could to insure that the Borg do not assimilate species 342. Nor can we allow this to happen. Adaptive shields and cloaking device can not be assimilated as apart of the collective. It would advance their power beyond comprehension."
"Be'nal, I am seriously thinking that maybe we should."
"B'Elanna, no. The Borg."
"They already have adaptive shielding, Seven," Amanda said.
"Yes, but not an adaptive cloaking device. Nor can the Borg create a special anomaly that renders vessels defenseless and blind. You have witnessed through the mother just what minor defensive capabilities it has. Those same defensive capacities turned offensive and the Borg would become more of a threat then they already are. The cloaking device alone is unique in that it can mimic not only spacial phenomenon but it can also adopt the signatures of other vessels in a camouflage. Imagine several thousand cubes in the Alpha quadrant that read as friendly vessels."
Everyone at the table was silent.
"Seven's right." Janeway reluctantly agreed. She no more wanted to hand her protégée' over to the Queen than did B'Elanna.
Kathryn frowned. Since her two officers had temporarily switched bodies, Seven and B'Elanna had become close. They had seen life through the other's eyes, and had been privy to what it was to be the other soul. Yet now the two younger women seemed even closer. Still that word, Be'nal . From what Klingonese Janeway did know, it sounded an awful lot like an endearment, yet a bit more than that.
'Be'nal I heard that once...where . Kah'less and Lakara .It was an opera I saw once on DS9 .Be'nal .wife.' Janeway was pleased with herself that she had recalled that bit of trivia . 'Wife! Wife!?' "Wife!" this last time she said the word aloud. "Seven. B'Elanna you your not married?!"
"We took the Oath," Seven said in her typical blunt monotone voice. "It was something I was going to request that the ships manifest change my destination to be known officially as Seven Toress. I have adapted to Annika Toress as well, but I will allow only my Be'nal to address me as such."
The whole table was utterly speechless. Every face, save for the Vulcan's, all the eyes, grew wide in astonishment. An arched eyebrow, however, did indeed rise up.
It was, for the captain, bittersweet news on so many levels. For a moment Amanda Rothery saw the flash of near jealousy in those gorgeous steel blue eyes becauseB'Elanna had taken Seven as her spouse. Amanda was no one's fool, She knew she was second choice compared to Seven of Nine. But she had loved Kathryn Janeway for some time, since she was a mid-teen newly rescued from New Hope. Of course it was Kath who had saved her back then, and perhaps it was a Nightingale thing back then, but now it was so much more. Rothery had always felt something for Kathryn Janeway, even when she was involved with Tasha Yar aboard the Enterprise before Janeway requested that Amanda serve aboard Voyager.
Now that she and Kathryn had become lovers, Amanda knew happiness, even knowing she was second choice. But she was pleased that Seven had found love, and the private selfish part of her human soul was thankful it wasn't with Kathryn. But Amanda's love for the redhead went deep, so deep that if Janeway had won Seven of Nine's heart Rothery would have graciously stepped aside. Seven and B'Elanna together was for Rothery both a shock and then again not so surprising as they complemented each other so well.
"Married?" Harry stammered. "Um, wow! Congratulations."
"Indeed." Tuvok said in the most excitant exclamation a Vulcan could give without expressing emotion.
"That was abrupt," Chakotay said.
"Well, Klingons and Borg are not known for patience, Chakotay," B'Elanna offered by way of explanation. "Why do you think the typical marriage oath is set up the way it is?"
Janeway had many thoughts running through her head. The first was that she felt left out. She had wanted to bless this union with her presiding over the ceremony. The second was that the young couple should have a proper honeymoon, they should be rejoicing, not worrying over the fact that Seven was about to hand herself over to the Borg Queen. A look into the dark eyes of the chief engineer and Kathryn's respect for the woman went up ten fold. B'Elanna was remarkable. She was showing the face of an officer when the love of her life was about to be sacrificed. 'Not on my watch,' Janeway said to herself. She wasn't about to allow this couple to be separated for long if at all.
"Congratulations are a bit mild," Kathryn said. "I wish the news was under better circumstances. But I am so pleased the two of you have found this happiness. May it be with you for a very long time." She flashed a large grin to the young lovers. "And to insure the two of you have a good long time together, we have to stop this threat. Seven, can you reverse the nanoprobes The Queen set upon us? They are, after all, from Mizoti, a prepubescent drone and as you said you are the Prime. Your nanoprobes must be dominate."
"They are, and in most cases, yes, I could create and 'anti-virus' to the nanoprobes infestation and perhaps mine can override those of a typical drone. But we must first establish if the nanoprobes are indeed Mizoti's or if they are a deliverance from the Queen."
"I can't believe they used that little girl as a Trojan horse," Amanda nearly snarled. "That doesn't even sound Borg like."
"It is not typical behavior," Seven agreed with the other tall blonde.
"Then if they are acting illogically perhaps we can press this to our advantage," Tactical officer Tuvok stated.
"Only it isn't the Borg, it is the Queen that's all eschew," B'Elanna said. "She is the one acting strangely, not the Borg."
"Even better," Janeway echoed her tactical office's thoughts. "If she is irrational then we can use that as a weapon."
"You forget," Seven interjected. "This irrationality is part of the reason I must go to her. She has infested this ship with her nanoprobes which can destroy Voyager piece by piece. B'Elanna can replicate my nanoprobes and together we can program them to seek out and destroy the Queen's, however it will take longer than the prescribed allowance of time."
"Seven, we are not going to allow you "
"Captain," once more Seven interrupted. "You are forgetting the fact that I told the Queen I would comply and go with her. You must utilize that time when I am with her to neutralize the threat she has inflicted upon us. While aboard her vessel perhaps it is I believe the term is 'turn about is fair play?' Captain we must do this not the way of Starfleet but a more guerilla style of warfare. That means Maquis tactics."
Once more there was quiet contemplation around the table.
"Agreed," Janeway finally said. "We do this as covert as possible. We will harvest nanoprobes from Seven, replicate them and have them programmed to seek out and destroy the Queen's. After the mission parameters are met I want those nanoprobes deactivated."
"Captain, you can't think of handing Seven over to the Queen!" B'Elanna snapped.
"No, of course not, but we need to stall her," the Captain remarked.
Seven remained silent. She knew that anything but her presence aboard the diamond would not stop the Queen. She sat quietly, sensing the tension in her wife. Now was not the time for Seven to speak of sacrifice. The intense expression playing upon the Klingon's face she knew all to well. As a new member of the Maquis, Seven knew what must be done in the time remaining. She would do what it took to insure the survival of Voyager, and calm her wife so she would not do something rash and self-destructive. She also had the new ship to think about. The capabilities of such a vessel could get a rescue party in and out of Borg space without a problem. Given the time it would take to reach the space using a transwarp conduit, yet another innate ability in species 342, the vessel, Kellein, would have time to mature enough to engage in the quick maneuvers.
"The only way to stall her, Captain, is for me to go aboard her ship. Voyager is not in any condition to engage the Borg. Kellein is too weak yet to engage in a firefight as well, however given sufficient time both vessels will be battle-ready. Aboard her ship I might be able to reverse the perimeters of Royal Protocol."
"Seven I doubt diplomacy will work here," Janeway said
"Not diplomacy, but aggressive negotiations." Seven slipped a slight smile. It was an expression she had learned while in the body of B'Elanna nearly three months ago. "Royal Protocol is the procedure that initiates the Prime into the new Queen once the former Queen has been deactivated."
"Wait. You will become the Queen?" Chakotay snorted, not liking the idea at all.
"Yes, and no, Commander," Seven said. "I merely will play the "vinculum" to the Queen and spread chaos amongst order for a time. I merely intend to exploit this new found weakness in the Queen's demeanor." Seven's blue eyes rested upon her wife then on her captain. "For now we have no other alternative. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." Seven turned to look fully at B'Elanna. "Or the one."
Those in the room were loath to admit that Seven of Nine was correct. For the time being, there was no alterative but to die or to hand Seven over to the Queen. The tall blonde then took her wife's hand and said, "DujDaj HubtaHuIS hegh 'e' tul Hoch tlhIngan."
B'Elanna's breath caught in her throat at the sound of her mother tongue being spoken with such passion.
"Qu'Daj ta'taHvIS Hegh'e' tul Hoch tlhIngan," Seven continued.
"My duty is to you, BangwI, and this ship. I took the Oath to a daughter of the Empire. How could I not act or behave as a wife of a Klingon warrior?"
"I don't want you to die. I could care less if a warrior thinks it's the greatest joy to die for this ship or in the line of duty," B'Elanna snapped.
"Be'nal, HubtaHuIS hegh 'e' tul Hoch tlhIngan," Seven countered.
Those around the table who did not understand the warrior's tongue could still catch the idea of what it was Seven had just said. Before it was the hope of every Klingon to die in service to the ship, to die in the line of duty. Now from the word Be'nal they understood what it was Seven had vowed. She would hope to die in defending her wife. What greater gift for a woman to lay down her life for her friends?
"Seven, you " Janeway stopped as she saw the resolve in the young woman's eyes. She cleared her throat, which was thick with emotion, before she continued. "I think for now you should report to sickbay. Mizoti is there and she needs you. And though it has yet to be fully determined we believe that is one of several points of infestation of the Queen's nanoprobes. Another adjunct point is Cargo Bay Two, Holodeck Two and the Messhall."
"Why not the Hansen quarters?" Chakotay said.
The very protective Klingon engineer did not overlook the aggression in his voice. Her dark eyes trained on the commander, almost daring him to disparage Seven. Frustration and anger welled in her and begged for an outlet.
"Because I would be more than aware of their presence," Seven said.
"Then how come you weren't aware of them inside Mizoti." Once more Chakotay challenged the ex-Borg.
Seven thought for a moment. She picked up a glass of water that was on the briefing table. "Could these same water molecules ever be returned to this glass, just as they were before? No more, no less? In precisely the same configuration?" Then she poured the water into the pitcher that is also on the table
"I get it. So the Queen's nanoprobes have blended with Mizoti's?" Harry asked.
"That is a theory, yes," Seven said. "They could have disguised themselves with the same configuration as the nanoprobes already contained within Mizoti. But I suspect the Queen merely reprogrammed Mizoti's to carry out specific orders. She wasn't carrying extra nanoprobes. That would not be an efficient manor in which to incite the protocols the Queen wished to carry out. Rather she would, as I said, reprogram Mizoti's."
"The question now Seven is whether can you can re-reprogram her?" Kathryn asked.
"Yes, I can," Seven assured.
"Then I suggest that you begin immediately." Hidden in those words were also the words of a woman encouraging a mother to care for her daughter. "And Seven .Qapla."
Icheb was still in sickbay trying to get the EMH back on line and Vorik was trying to contain the site of the nanoprobes when the door opened admitting Seven and B'Elanna.
The smaller woman squeezed Seven's arm to convey her love before she went to the Vulcan engineer to check on his progress. She took over the project, as she was a leading expert on nano-technology. The only other one aboard Voyager that had this expertise was of course the ex-Borg. After overseeing Vorik's progress she checked on Icheb. Again her experience was superceding, but she didn't want the young man to feel as if he was incapable of the task set before him.
Seven's attention was on the girl sleeping on one of the biobeds. Neelix, who had been watching over the little Norkadian, had stepped back to allow mother and daughter a moment of privacy. Naomi, too, was at Mizoti's side as she was the girl's best friend. Like Neelix she, too, gave Seven and Mizoti some privacy.
Seven placed a hand upon Mizoti's cheek, rousing her out of the world of slumber.
"SoS'oy!" Mizoti exclaimed loudly before bolting upright, her arms spread wide, wanting, needing, to be held by her mother. Seven willingly complied.
"I am here, Mizoti," Seven said in a voice that typically only B'Elanna had ever heard.
"Oh SoS'oy, I think I did ."
"You were controlled by the Queen, Mizoti. The Queen used you as a Trojan horse in a two fold manner. She used a carrier wave to overwrite your consciousness in the cortical implant. She also reprogrammed the nanoprobes within your body to infect Voyager and assimilate it. As you were unable to stop this action you are not at fault."
Blunt and to the point. Had any one expected anything less?
"Voyager . It's not assimilated?" Mizoti looked at the familiar whiteness of Voyager, dreading to see green and black
"No. Though, in fact, she has revealed the power she wields over us at the current moment. That however will not be long lasting."
Mizoti looked to B'Elanna, her brother and Vorik, all working together at a computer terminal in the office of the CMO. The girl knew that B'Elanna and her mother could stop any threat coming from the Borg Queen, as they had done so in the past.
"Are you in pain now?" Seven questioned.
"I'm functioning within acceptable parameters," the girl answered. Her smaller hand would not let go of the silver meshed hand of her mother.
Across the room B'Elanna softly chuckled to herself at hearing Mizoti's response. She was indeed Seven's daughter. She stole a glance and saw Seven stroke the girl's little back as the child was now embracing the tall blonde.
"Well, I think you have everything in order," B'Elanna complemented the young cadet. "Okay, activate the EMH."
Icheb nodded and typed the command into the com-panel. The body of the balding blue uniformed man blinked into existence.
"Please state the nature of the medical emergency," the photonic physician said. "Oh!" The man turned around. "Mizoti, she is "
"We know, Doc," B'Elanna said. She further explained the ultimatum the Queen had delivered, and the fact Seven planned to comply, and that his help would be needed in finding a vaccine or perhaps a pathogen that would neutralize the nanoprobes that the Queen had used to infect Voyager. She also said that a higher priority was to use a pathogen similar to the one contained within Icheb's DNA to help destroy the Borg. The idea was to do exactly the same thing to the Queen and the diamond that she had done to Voyager.
"You want me to do this in twenty four hours?" The Doctor nearly squealed.
"Yes. Look, Doc, Seven is giving herself up to protect us, so the very least we can do is protect her six. Got it? You don't need to sleep. I want this pathogen done before we run out of time," B'Elanna demanded.
The holographic man nodded. "I'll get right on it."
"I shall assist. It will be more efficient to base this pathogen on my DNA and combine it with the pathogen you had originally created to neutralize us when the rest of the children and I were controlled by First," Icheb volunteered.
B'Elanna clapped him on the back, "Good idea Itch."
"Lieutenant, permission to speak freely."
'God they got him programmed just like a good little Starfleet officer. Gonna make grandma Janeway a happy camper.' "Permission granted, cadet."
"I am pleased to know of the alteration in the relationship you share with my SoS'oy. By what designation do Mizoti and I now call you when off duty? As you are now a parental unit."
"Wow um Boy, you don't cut any corners do you?"
"Nevermind, Itch, it was a colloquial comment. Well, I think once Annika comes back from the diamond we can sit down and discuss it, okay?"
"That is acceptable." The boy titled his head slightly.
What heartened the Klingon was the fact there was no doubt in the young man's mind that his SoS'oy would return where she belonged. She stopped in her tracks and looked to the young man who had suddenly become her son.
"Itch, do you know some of Earth's dialects?"
"Yes, I know several."
"Good. Okay, well, Nic . Your SoS'oy honored my Klingon heritage by using a Klingonese designation for mother, roughly translated into mama."
"Do you wish to be called by the Spanish "
"No, not Spanish. I want the Swedish designation."
"That would be Moder, or Mor. I would say Mor is to SoS'oy as SoS is to mother."
"Mor?" B'Elanna nodded. "Okay, then, that's it. Mor. But if Mor is to um too young for you, you can use Moder."
"Mor is acceptable if it is with you." Icheb said.
"Yeah, I think I can get used to it. Mother is to um well, too close to what I call mine." The young woman scratched the back of her head, shrugging.
Seven lay Mizoti back down, as the child was exhausted. The doctor had come by and run a med-tricorder over her, discovering that the girl's EKG readings were back to where they were supposed to be.
"Are you in any pain, Mizoti?"
"No, not like before," the girl answered.
"Good. I'm going to give you a sedative, and I want to keep you here under observation."
The tiny Norkadian looked to Seven, then back to the doctor. "Do I have to, SoS'oy?"
"Yes, for the night. Then you can return home," Seven said, her hand still within the girl's hold. "If you need medical assistance the doctor will be better suited to treat you here."
"Mizoti, I need to create a link with you for a moment. I must insure that the nanoprobes reprogrammed by the Queen are fully dormant and their programs rewritten," Seven said.
The child nodded again and titled her head. She didn't watch as Seven closed her hand into a fist and caused the tubules to penetrate the girl's neck. For a moment neither mother nor daughter moved. Then Seven flexed her hand as the procedure was completed.
The procedure often took longer, but with Mizoti at complete rest, the reprogramming would commence with little hindrance. She lay back down and again held her tongue as the doctor injected her with a hypo of sedative. Seven kissed the girl's brow and turned her attention back to the matter at hand, the restoration and safety of Voyager.
For the next fourteen hours Seven, B'Elanna and a team of engineers worked to locate each of the sites Mizoti had been forced to infiltrate so they could neutralize the nanoprobes.
A ship wide diagnostic on the molecular level revealed that the federation vessel was indeed overrun with the Borg technology. But as in the time when Seven first came aboard Voyager it had not assimilated the ship. In fact, the nanoprobes lay dormant. But it would be nearly impossible to destroy them all. At each spot Seven and B'Elanna had deposited a new viral form of the nanoprobes to seek out the "infection." Indeed, it would be very much like white blood cells seeking out an infection and destroying it.
Icheb and the Doctor in the meantime constructed a lethal pathogen that Seven would be immune to but it would annihilate a full Borg. The intended target, of course, was the Queen herself. The whole idea was to create a two-prong attack: a pathogen that would activate the chaos of a defective vinculum as well as separate the cybernetic implants from the organic. The affect would be devastating. It might not destroy all of the Borg, but then it need not. It need only destroy the diamond.
Seven would be aboard the diamond at the time and as the Prime she could neutralize Royal Protocol and send the Borg further into chaos. It would take a long time before the Borg could recover from such a blow.
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