By Elizabeth Carter
The young klingon-hybrid woke to find the bed cold and vacant of her wife. Brown doe eyes widened in realization. She knew without asking the computer the location of Seven of Nine. She knew deep down that this young woman, her wife, was no longer aboard Voyager.
"NO!" A voice ragged with fear, desperation, "No Be'nal, no! What have you done . My love .Why? Why would you do this? Why?"
Carmel hands covered the eloquent face. Dread filled her heart for she knew that the love of her life was now in the hands of evil itself. What the Queen would do to her wife . The young woman didn't want to imagine. She didn't want to know, but she knew. She knew what the Queen was capable of.
"Why didn't you just wait? Why didn't you trust me? Now she has you the things she is going to do to you, you won't survive it this time . My love Why?"
Her hand went to the bite make on her neck that would conveniently be covered by her hair and thought of the matching mark the tall blonde would be sporting. Last night was a first for both of them. It was the first time that either of them had truly known what it was to be loved. They knew what it was to be worshiped and adored. Their love had been passionate, all consuming, tender, slow and heated, all in a single night.
Everything now was gone. Her wife had sacrificed herself because of their love, and because of duty. The young woman would not demean or decry what her lover had done. And she would do absolutely everything it took to get her wife back, even if it meant going against normal procedure. But then she was Maquis, and bending the rules for the greater good came with the territory.
"Be'nal don't let her harm you. Don't let her touch you. Be defiant, be difficult. Hide yourself away. Don't let her win. I will find you. I promise I will bring you home."
B'Elanna's body moved as if on its own accord. Showering quickly, dressing in the black and mustard uniform, pips that marked her rank. And upon the other side of the collar she wore the pendent that marked her as Maquis. It had been a while since the Chief of Engineering bore such distinction but today she felt it was warranted.
Dark liquid brown eyes gazed at the bed, still rumpled from the passion shared only hours ago, before drifting to the twin tumblers on the nightstand, to the cast off uniforms on the floor.
The young scientist didn't have the heart to remake the bed. She didn't want to. Nor did she remove the glasses from the nightstand. She wanted everything just as it was before her wife had gone. The uniforms were picked up and folded and placed neatly upon one of the recliners instead of being placed into the replicaters to be recycled.
A dark mocha hand lifted the black tunic that belonged to her wife and inhaled the scent of it. "I love you, BangwI, and I am not going to stop hunting for you, until you're back in my arms," the rich voice of the Latino-Klingon vowed.
The senior staff meeting had started with B'Elanna's voice catching in her throat. "She's gone."
There were long faces around the table in the briefing room. B'Elanna wasn't the only one to be discouraged at the knowledge that Seven was gone. Harry, Neelix and the Captain were all very grim. Amanda wasn't in a pleasant frame of mind either. She truly hadn't known Seven since as the 2IC of Security her duties kept her in other areas of the ship. But to her, and several other members of Voyager's crew, Seven was less than friend, but more than acquaintance. She was someone they had grown to care for.
Chakotay's face was of a darker sort. He could not let go of the idea that the ex-drone had willingly gone to the Queen for totally different reasons. He was convinced that the tall young woman was infatuated, if not in love, with the Queen and the power she wielded. He was angered by the idea that Seven of Nine had left B'Elanna. The drone had toyed with B'Elanna in some perverse Borg game and now he would have to watch his friend suffer, yet again.
Janeway was concerned for her Chief, more importantly she was deeply concerned for the young woman she had grown to care for and even on some level love. In the past a part of her heart had broken when she realized that Seven was to be B'Elanna's. She knew that Seven could not be in better hands, could not have a more suitable mate, and could not be more protected. The expression on the caramel beauty revealed the total depth of love and commitment B'Elanna had for Annika Hansen.
"Getting Seven back is of paramount importance. But we can't do it on a ship at less than half capacity. B'Elanna, Harry, I need warp engines and shields at their peak proficiency."
"Aye, Captain," Kim said with a voice filled with despair.
B'Elanna didn't even look up from the PADD she was holding, the one that carried the report from engineering. Her jaw was firmly set, unwilling to reveal her shattered soul.
"Captain, in our experiences in the past, a little prudence is warranted when dealing with the Borg. With that in mind I think it is wise to place both Icheb and Mizoti in protective custody," Chakotay said in a voiced filled with warning.
"You mean you want to put children in the brig?" Harry yelped before anyone else.
B'Elanna's eyes reflected cold stone. It took all of her control not to leap across the table and soundly beat the life out of her former captain of the Maquis.
"Commander, I appreciate your 'prudence,' but Icheb isn't a risk. In fact, we need him to help make the repairs as well as annex the infesting nanoprobes," Janeway said. "And on that same vein, right now the doctor has Mizoti in sickbay contained behind an isolation forcefield in quarantine. From the reports I have here," she pointed to her PADD, "her cordial node suffered some damage when the queen confiscated her ."
Chakotay turned, disrupting, "That's just it Captain, we don't know if that drone is back to normal."
B'Elanna leapt across the table, grabbed Chakotay by the front of his tunic, and slammed him against the wall. Her movements, her speed and strength, stunned every. Tuvok and Rothery were immediately on either side of the raging Klingon.
"Do not call anyone in my family a drone! Mal'dar BiHnuch!" B'Elanna shoved him once more before letting him go. "The Borg have taken my wife and you threaten to imprison our children! What kind of man are you? You're far worse than any Cardassian this warrior has ever faced."
Shocked, the bear of a man slumped, using the wall for support. Tuvok gave the commander a hand to find his seat, his hands rubbing sensation back into his shoulders where B'Elanna had grabbed him.
Rothery, not wanting to arrest the Klingon for something she herself had wanted to do, placed a hand on the smaller woman's shoulder and waited for a word from her captain as to whether to guide Toress to the brig or back to the table.
"B'Elanna " Chakotay started.
"Go get assimilated."
"B'Elanna, I know you are very worried for Seven. So am I," Janeway said as a means to get everyone's attention. "I know right now you feel helpless, but striking the first officer isn't going to solve anything. In fact, it could hinder you. I will say that at the moment you were overwrote with distress which caused you to reacted to a verbal provoking."
Janeway shifted a glance to the insensitive man who was still emphatically rubbing his bruised shoulders. Chakotay had forgotten just how much stronger the small Klingon was. And he knew he had been lucky she hadn't killed him. He had no idea what it was she had called him but seemed more than to be called a Pac'ta.
Janeway's words were both a warning and a slap on the wrist. It meant she had tolerated this one outburst but she couldn't forgive another. B'Elanna nodded and retook her place at the table, Rothery still at her side.
"I do want a level ten forcefield around Mizoti until the Doctor clears her," the captain continued. "Harry and B'Elanna, you both are our next resident experts on Borg-technology. I need Voyager back in perfect condition. Icheb will assist in this endeavor," the Captain ordered.
There was a mutual head nod around the table indicating the senior staff would comply with the orders given.
"B'Elanna what have you, Seven, and your teams been able to repair?" Janeway again redirected the attention of the staff. Her shirttails were tucked in, the crew wouldn't see her sweat in panic, and she was not about to leave one of her own behind. Those were the three things a Captain had to remember.
The young Klingon took a breath before she looked down upon the PADD she was holding so tightly that her knuckles had turned white. "We have shields back to 87 percent, we can manage Warp-five, but any greater and will strain the warp-core. Anti-matter flow and delithium deposits are down by 45 percent. We have some in reserve but we will need more. Our Impulse Engines and maneuvering thrusters are fully operational."
"At the risk of being thrown up against a wall," Tuvok began, "I would say our first priority is to the ship, Captain. Once we are running at 100 percent we can begin our search and rescue of Seven."
"Captain " B'Elanna's voice protested.
The redhead raised her hand to forestall any arguments. "We went into Unimatrix-One once before as a means to return Seven home. If needs be we will do so again. I'd rather not risk it; we will make what repairs we can along the way. Lieutenant Toress I want you to have your crews in Engineering pull double shifts. We will engage the Borg, but we are going to have to do it a little unconventionally." Janeway took yet another breath, her command masque fully in place.
"We have a new ship, and from the reports Seven and Icheb gave me before the mothership abducted our crewmembers it is truly remarkable. Mutilphasic shielding and a highly adaptive cloaking devise, and of course it is sentient.
"People, we are going to use this to our advantage. B'Elanna, instead of overseeing the repairs, place Lieutenant Carry in charge and oversee that this new ship ..the ."
"Kellein, Captain," B'Elanna supplied.
"Right, the Kellein. I also want the Delta Flyer and the ambassadorial Areowing shuttle fitted with the same Multi-phasic shielding. B'Elanna, have Icheb use Borg enhancements if you need to. We will use the Delta Flyer, the Kellein and Voyager to attack the Diamond and recover Seven.
"In ancient days of navel vessels, sea captains sometimes had to rely on subterfuge in order to succeed in their tasks to overtake a stronger, better equipped and faster vessel. The ships of the French privateers had incredible ships for their time. Their hulls were reinforced with oak, which gave the English nine-iron guns difficulty in breeching them. But through tactics, subterfuge the English Royal Navy succeeded in overtaking the French ships.
"We are out gunned, out manned, and overpowered by that Diamond out there. We need stealth and illusion to defeat the Borg. We are going to have to invoke a little ancient subterfuge and Maquis tactics if we want to win.
"If all goes well, Seven too will attack from the inside with the pathogen the Doctor created. People, the Queen won't know what hit her. We have a lot of work to do in a very short amount of time. And we don't have any of it to waste."
That was a dismissal if anyone had ever heard one. Slowly the crew started to rise from the table and file out. The last of their number was B'Elanna.
"Lieutenant ." The Captain placed a hand on the younger woman.
Dark eyes glinted in tears she would not shed.
"You will have your wife back, I promise you." This utterance was spoken in a whisper close to the Klingon's ear. Janeway felt the dark hair rub against her cheek as B'Elanna nodded her head, for she could not trust her voice, for it was too thick with emotion.
"You want to return to Voyager, don't you?" the Queen said as her hands stroked the alabaster cheek of the tall blonde.
"What I want is irrelevant, isn't it? What you have chosen for me is before me."
"You are home."
"No. I am not apart of the Collective, I am not a drone and I am not yours." Seven remained impassive.
"You keep saying that, but here you are once more," The Queen quibbled. "I do not like the fact they turned you into a mindless automaton. You repeat their words, you consume their nutritional supplements, you are clothed as they are, and you sleep instead of regenerate. They have made you small."
"They made me alive," Seven retorted. "In the Collective I survived, but I was never alive."
The Queen disregarded the young blonde's words as sentimental prattle and therefore irrelevant. "I have seen the conditions of Cargo Bay Two, of the Alcoves. Your precious crew that made you alive, desired to destroy you. They sabotaged your alcoves, that which gives you life, and you give them your loyalties?" she said incredulously. "They meant to kill you."
"One action done by one individual," Seven retorted.
"One individual that represents the views of a dozen more," the Queen shot back.
"Is it? Why? Because you have a wife?"
"Yes," Seven clamped her hands behind her back, gaining her an air of superiority. For a moment it looked as if she was lost in thought, carefully choosing her words. When she spoke next her voice was a clipped, cold monotone. "This is why perfection eludes the Borg. You cannot fathom the depth of emotion that is embedded when two hearts are bonded. Species 5618 are prime examples of this connection to the heart. You admitted yourself that the Borg were not fully able to assimilate them."
"They are resilient, but resistance is futile. They will join the collective," The Queen said. "I have observed much while in the subunit of species 689."
"Her name is Mizoti, she is my daughter," Seven snapped. "She is MY subunit."
"Species 2461 were fully prepared to send their own subunit to the Borg as a pathogen. In fact the subunit Icheb was bred for that purpose," The Queen continued, ignoring Seven's outburst. "It was this Brunali subterfuge that inspired me to use the same technique to learn of Voyager. I have learned much as I was interacting with the crew of Voyager. Their emotions make them weak."
"Their emotions give them strength. If they are so weak then why haven't they been assimilated yet?" Seven defended.
"Are you going to insist on being an arbitrator of the value of emotions? I do not have the time to indulge in a philological discussion. Patience is not one of my virtues."
"You have so few. Why worry about that little one?" Seven returned.
The Queen seemed to smirk in contempt. Though her face bore no expression, her silver eyes betrayed her. "I think it's time you regenerated," she said.
Seven's blue eyes glanced at the alcoves dubiously, suspicion and mistrust filling the normally cold exterior of the ex-Borg.
"Comply!" The Queen demanded.
"I will not lose my individuality by allowing you to purge my mind while I am vulnerable in a regenerating cycle."
"You will gain nothing by trying to provoke me; I am not your Klingon wife. They have made you see peril where there is none. You are safe here within my chambers. I do not want another drone, Seven of Nine, even that must be apparent to you. You are my Prime, my mate; you will keep your individuality." The Queen was done cajoling her intended companion. "Now you will regenerate. Comply Seven of Nine."
The taller woman moved slowly to the alcove and stepped up on to the dais. The green ambient light cast its ghostly illumination upon the pale features of Seven, giving her an almost ethereal quality.
Blue eyes closed. Her last thoughts were of her beloved wife whom she had left behind on Voyager. She prayed silently that her lover would understand why she did what she had to do to protect her and the children that had become theirs.
Her mind absorbed the scene before her, so quiet and clam .normal. Emerald haze filled her vision, clouding her memory. A woman turned to the child, her skin gray and mottled, her eyes silver. The woman moved in front of the child, her face beaming, her hand, covered in black metallic mesh, reaching for the girl to gently stroke the cherub face. Her smile brightened, then widened some more.
Too much more.
For a moment, the child thought the exaggeration a product of love beyond normal bounds, but as the smile continued to grow, the Gray-Lady's face stretched and contorted weirdly.
The black things came hunting her, pursuing her. It seemed that only the Gray-Lady was refuge. The Child Annika struggled, ran, but she was moving as if the world was in slow motion. She ran and ran, her lungs burning, her legs weakening and still she ran. Screams filled the stale air.
"Papa! Papa! Help Papa! They come .Papa it's Aunty Irene's ettins PAPA!!!! Go away! . . . PAPA! Momma mamma, they come, mamma."
Not her Aunt Irene's ettins as in the stories she told. The child knew this. She knew they were the Borg. Annika didn't want to believe the real; she did not want to see the real. The real meant death of all she knew.
A room dark, illuminated by the same emerald light. She saw before her three of the Gray-Ladies. "The subunit is yours, One of Two, to assimilate. Comply."
Annika fought the drone that held her. He had already stabbed her in the neck with the black snakes in his wrists, but Annika had managed to escape, her body slithering out his grip as only a child can. The woman knelt before her.
"This is frightening to you."
"Yes," Annika whimpered.
"When you wake, you will no longer be afraid. In fact, you will have many to protect you. I will protect you."
"Who are you?"
"One of Two."
"Who is she?" The small hand pointed to the woman standing in the center of the chamber, her body, like the other two, was gaunt, gray and covered in shining black armor.
"She is the Queen."
"I thought you "
"I may become, given the passage of time and circumstances."
"Then who is the other one?"
"She is the Prime. Two of Two Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix One. I am to her, what you will be to me once you mature."
"Wha....what is that?"
"You will know later. Do not be difficult. You will comply. You will know perfection, Annika. You will no longer be daunted by closeness, but will have order. You are chosen very carefully. The Queen went to you, she saw you and she chose you, for a very special lineage."
"I want my Mamma .My Papa."
"They do not care for you, Annika. Why else would they punish you when you speak the truth? Why do they forget you?"
"I I "
"You will be assimilated, Annika. Your distinctiveness will be added to our own." The Gray Lady who looked so like the others caressed her face once more with the dark meshed hand.
Instant pain. Annika cried out. Her tiny voice screamed. Her face twisted from the pain behind it, a crystalline agony. Annika tried to call out to her parents, to beg them to rescue her, to make her free. She pleaded with them. But pain was all the girl knew. Her whole body filled with torment.
She was aware that One of Two was carrying her. The gray lady placed her into a bed as if to tuck her in. No, not a bed. It was a coffin! She tried to fight, to stay awake, but the pain made her eyes close, made her eyes fill with emerald black fog. She felt a slick wetness cover her.
Voices numbering in the billions filled her ears with their alien chorus. When she opened her eyes the world seemed different. She was taller than One of Two who stood before her. She felt different than before. Before before what? There was no before. Before was chaos, now she knew the Collective. She knew order.
"State this drone's designation." A voice came out of her mouth that she did not recognize. It was familiar, like a female of species 5618, but she no longer recalled who it was. It was irrelevant. Anything before the Collective and the voices of the Hive Mind was irrelevant.
A black metallic meshed hand reached for her face. "You are Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix One," said the shorter woman as she stepped closer. "My mate, and when the time comes you will be my Second."
Light shattered before her. Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix One, with her almost constant companions, the others of the Nine and One of Two, stood with the Queen. Here was the Wolf 357, a bald male held by Three of Nine and Four of Nine. The Queen was at his side staring at him with a keen eye and smiling.
"Seven of Nine," The Queen said. "He is Jean-Luc Picard, Captain of the Federation starship Enterprise. He must become as I."
Prime turned her head, scowling. This was not of the Collective. A male-drone as equal as the Queen was unheard of. Never before had the Collective done such a thing. This was of chaos and could only lead to chaos. But the Prime's comments died within her as she heard unspoken words from the Queen.
Seven of Nine watched as the Prime stepped back. "I will comply."
"The Collective needs an interface with species 5618. He is to have the distinction of a Prime, but not as close. Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix One, you are far removed from the line. Assimilate him."
Seven of Nine looked to One of Two, the one she came to illogically care for. She saw the other nod and Seven complied with the wishes of the Queen.
"One of Two, return to Delta Quadrant. Take Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix One with you. Comply." The Queen said as she studied the male-Prime Locutus.
Fog swallowed her once more. Time had long since passed as it had before.
She who was Prime was now Queen. One of Two was Prime. Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix One knew, as did the Prime, that the Queen had decided to go back into Earth's history and stop the male Zefram Cochrane from ever reaching his first warp drive test. They would assimilate all of 5618 in the past. Resistance was futile.
Once more She-Who-Is-Many, she who held all the past incarnations of the Queen, had decided to take yet another male as Prime despite the presence of her own, just as the One-Who-Was-Before had done. However, this one was superior. The artificial lifeform, Data, was near perfection.
Still chaos infected the Hive Mind, and the Collective was damaged. The Queen, as before, was deactivated because of her choice to go outside protocols.
Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix One watched as Prime was locked into the central plexus of Unimatrix One. The young drone of nearly eighteen years of servitude to the Collective was witness as Royal Protocol was initiated. The Hive mind recognized Prime as the new Queen. She was all past incarnations of the Queen. As with all assimilations what was before her was irrelevant. The Queen has always been and would forever be. She was beyond deactivation, for there was always a Queen.
Seven of Nine knew her turn was next after the Queen touched her face in a soothing caress. "You will be Prime, however you will remain Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix One. You will remain in your Unimatrix."
"This drone will stay with you," Seven's hands were clasped behind her back, her one blue eye coldly watching the Queen. "I am now Prime. This drone's position is at your side. You have claimed this drone as your mate. I remain where you are. Comply."
The Queen smirked. "You are bold, Seven of Nine. Perhaps too bold, and you are difficult. Superior to Locutus or Data as a chosen mate."
The Queen smiled again. "I will allow you to remain with me at another time, but for now you will remain in your Unimatrix. And YOU will comply."
Fog drifted and with it time
"Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix One." The Queen's voice was sultry, soothing as she purred in Seven of Nine's ear. "You will be a liaison between the Collective and the Federation Starship Voyager. We have formed an alliance."
"They are small, and chaotic. They cannot defeat Species 8472."
"Do not underestimate them, Seven of Nine. They were successful in deflecting the assault upon Zefram Cochrane and survived Wolf 357. They are useful. Go to their ship and assist. Show them Borg superiority. Bring to them our efficiency. It is imperative Species 8472 be neutralized. Do not engage in assimilation of Voyager."
Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix One stood, as all Borg did, ramrod straight, her hands clasped behind her back, her gaze frozen.
"Comply!" the Queen ordered sharply.
"When the Borg and Voyager neutralize species 8472 what then are the directives?"
"I have guaranteed them safe passage through Borg Space."
"This will lead to chaos," Seven of Nine warned.
"Regardless, you will comply with my orders. You will not be difficult, drone."
"I am Prime," Seven of Nine would not relent.
"You will comply. You will be an insurgent within Voyager until I recall you. Upon your return you will be Prime. Now, comply."
Seven of Nine titled her head and moved through the threshold that would take her to the Voyager boarding party.
Fog pasted into pain
The drone Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix One struggled, ran, but she was moving as if the world was in slow motion. Silence. All was silent. She was small, alone, so alone. The Queen was gone from her. She cried out for the Queen but silence was her answer. Terror filled her mind closing it off to all else.
The redheaded woman held her as she wept in her cell. She didn't know who she was anymore. She didn't know whom she belonged to, she had no purpose, no order, there was only pure chaos. There was only pain and terror.
Fog dwindled and the young woman looked deep into the loving eyes of her wife, her true mate. She knew who she was, where she belonged and what she wanted.
Blue eyes snapped open, as the tall blond felt the alcove release her from regeneration. Seven had not been physically altered, but the Queen had forced her to recall the past. The banks of the endemic memory had been accessed and flooded the blonde's waking consciousness.
"Do you recall how you desired to be with me, Seven of Nine? You were difficult but you complied to infiltrate Voyager and learn. As I said, once you returned from the mission you would take your position as my Prime," the Queen purred as she stepped up to the taller younger woman.
"I no longer desire that position," Seven informed her captor. "I have grown beyond the Collective. I no longer need you. If ever I desired to be with you, it was because you programmed me to be so. Locutus and Data betrayed and deceived the incarnations of the Queen. You took insurance to see to it that I would not. But it was your folly to send the Prime to Voyager. It was deliberate on your part, to acquire Intel necessary to neutralize Species 5618, by sending me into their collective. They severed me from you and, yes, it was something of great pain, and terror. But the Collective did no less when it assimilated Annika Hansen. You will not have Annika Toress. Seven of Nine is beyond your reach. Even if you try to reassimilate me into the Collective, you will have lost everything you desire."
"You grow too bold, Seven. Janeway has given you far too much leniency."
"She has given me my will, which is more than I can ever say of you."
"Will? You speak of free will as if it was a commodity you lacked. Free will leads to chaos. The Collective gives order."
"The Collective creates slaves!" Seven snarled with more passion than she had ever shown in all her young life.
"They have corrupted you, even more than when you first rejoined me. You are not yourself, Seven of Nine." Behind the chilled voice of the Queen was a true lamenting for what she had lost. "It is irrelevant," she said finally. "Adhering to Royal Protocol you will require a Second. I have chosen for you."
"I will not do to my daughter what you did to me." Seven leveled ice blue eyes upon the silver orbs of the Queen.
"Do not be so melodramatic. The second I have chosen is from the Alpha Quadrant."
There was but a slight turn of the head and a blink of silver eyes and two drones who had escorted Seven to the Queens chambers left to fulfill their unspoken commands. One of the drones Seven deliberately gave no response to when she crossed paths with him. His designation was Three of Five, but to Annika Hansen he was known as Papa.
Seven waited but a beat before they reappeared holding a rather loud, rather mercurial Klingon female. Every word out of her mouth was a livid, snarled curse as she struggled against her captors.
Seven of Nine stared opened mouthed, her blue eyes betraying her astonishment. (There between two drones was none other than Miral Toress of House Prasba.
"Seven of Nine, Prime of the Collective, this is your Second. She too is difficult. But I thought it rather deserving considering your own difficult demeanor," the Queen merely smiled, watching her mate continue to stare at her mother-in-law.
"TaHqeq Qu'vatlh t'ooho'm IrahyIntagh Pa'taq!" the Klingon shouted. "I will die before I allow you to assimilate me, Borg bitch!" She continued to struggle as she looked at each Borg in turn. "And I will take a few of you with me, starting with you, stick girl!" Miral snarled at the tall blonde, who simply continued to stare dumbfounded.
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