By Elizabeth Carter
Seven sensed her time in prolonging the inevitable induction into the Royal Protocol was quickly coming to a close. She would have to move quickly. Looking to her meshed left hand, Seven thought about the pathogen she was carrying and the plans to gain access to the Central Plexus. That plan was no longer a clear option as it had once been because of Miral's presence. However, the Borg, and even ex-Borg, were, if anything, adaptive, and the young woman had began to formulate another plan of attack. Be'tor and Lursa would prove as useful to Seven as Mizoti had to the queen.
Before either of the Klingon drones could move there was a silver streak of armor flinging itself at them. Before even Miral could react, Lursa was flung at the older Klingon with careless ease, and Be'tor found herself in strangle hold similar to the one Miral had been in a few days before, but what Seven didn't do to Miral then, she did to her captive now.
Be'tor spun around, trying to resist. Being Borg, she should have known better. The tubules snaked out of the back of Seven's wrists and plunged into the pallid gray neck.
"Comply!" Seven snarled the order as a true Klingon warrior battle cry.
Miral moved into a Maj'dok fighting stance but stopped when she saw Be'tor move toward her sister and catch hold of the drone before Lursa could neutralize Seven.
The blonde turned fast toward Three of Five and said nothing as she high blocked his clawed left hand with her own gauntleted left wrist. As quick as a thought, a blade slid out from behind the tubules. Seven didn't think, she reacted. The drone's hand was neatly severed, the clawed pincher clattering loudly and twitching on the hard metallic floor of the assimilation chamber that had been used as a cellblock.
Borg adapted, even the wounded. To Three of Five the lose of a limb was irrelevant; he would not be stopped from carrying out his directives. He was, after all, a drone of Unimatrix One.
"Resistance is futile," Seven snarled as the tubules found a home in the neck of Three of Five. He jerked once, then fell silent and unmoving, waiting for orders.
Like a feline, Seven moved to Lursa and once more plunged her tubules into the drone's neck. The pathogen would minimize the power the Central Plexus had over them and would virtually sever the drones from the Hive Mind. It was only because of Seven's unique nanoprobes, generated out of the Royal Protocol that placed her in the linage of Queenship, that they now saw her as the Queen.
Miral turned fast, keeping her eyes on the two Klingon drones, but they didn't move. "Stick Girl, what did you do?"
"Adapted," the blonde said easily. "Three of Five, One of Seven, Two of Seven are now under my control."
"How?" Miral was intrigued with the power that her daughter-in-law had over the three drones.
"I can explain fully later, for now all you need to know is that I was able to override their programming with my own via a pathogen. It will soon spread to the other parts of the Diamond once these regenerate."
"This is what you were going to do with that whole Royal Protocol thing, wasn't it?"
"Yes. I wanted to introduce the pathogen into the Central Plexus. Simply put, I would make Maquis out of the drones closest to the Queen. They would turn from her to me, and if they don't adapt they are deactivated. This wouldn't affect the whole Collective. Not yet, but it's a start. The pathogen would also specifically target the Queen's cortical node and download the Vinculum. That is my own design for the pain she gave my wife."
Miral didn't think that Annika Hansen did the revenge thing. She simply didn't seem the type. True, she had cut the hand off her father without thought, not out of vengeance, but simply to stop a threat. Then it was over and done with. Seven seemed to be the sort of warrior who would defeat an enemy and move on without thinking more about it, much like someone swatting at glob flies. The mantel of revenge somehow didn't fit the blonde, and yet it was a very Klingon thing to do, especially in the name of family. Vengeance was something Miral might have expected out of her daughter, not Stick Girl.
Then again, once in a rare blood moon Miral had been known to be wrong.
"There is an old saying: to win the game, learn the software. I say, change the rules of engagement and don't tell the opposition you did," Miral said, agreeing to Seven's plan.
"The way of the Maquis." The younger woman tweaked her lips into a hint of a smile.
What Seven didn't tell her cellmate was that she had no true concept of how long the directives would work. The Queen would surly know by now that three of her drones had been altered in their programming. And for the moment, The Queen couldn't order their deactivation. But once more, the young woman didn't know how long that would last. She had to get Miral off the Diamond. Time wasn't going to be Seven's friend and it looked like it wouldn't be for a long while.
Miral's face darkened as if she had read Seven's thoughts. "Do you think you can get me to board some escape pod and leave you behind, Stick Girl?"
Seven cut a glance to her drones, then back to Miral. "By force if necessary."
"You don't know Klingons very well despite being married to one, Stick Girl. A warrior does not let a friend face danger alone."
"You do not know the Borg ..Resistance is futile."
"What the hell does that mean?" Miral snapped.
Seven moved close as if to privately converse with Miral, "It means that I have plans to neutralize the Queen and you are not a factor of the equation. In fact, your presence will endanger you."
As quickly as she had dispatched the drones that were now converted, Seven slid behind Miral and placed a hand upon the older woman's neck. In an instant the Klingon fell from the pressure of a Vulcan nerve pinch.
"You two," Seven designated Be'tor and Lursa, "take custody of Miral. Your prime directive is to keep her completely from harm. Failure is not an option."
"We will comply," the twins voiced.
"There will be a Federation vessel tracking the Diamond, USS Voyager. Transport Miral daughter of L'Naan to that ship as soon as it is in range. Then you will go to your alcoves and regenerate."
"We will comply," they said once more.
Be'tor took up the unconscious Klingon and placed her on one of the beds used to assimilate victims. Here she would stay until Voyager was found on the sensors.
Looking back to Three of Five, for a moment Seven saw the man that was Magnus Hansen. She was silent as she watched him reattach his severed limb. He must have collected it when Seven incapacitated Miral. He flexed the clawed hand once more, making sure it was functional before he turned his attention to his new Queen, waiting for new directives.
"Your new designation is Magnus," Seven said, her voice clipped, cold, and devoid of emotion. "Comply."
"This drone is Magnus "
Seven sucked in calming air and left anything that flashed in her mind unsaid. She could not waste the time or the energy, for the moment, on the trauma of being reunited with her Papa right now. She had to get Miral off the ship, stop the Queen, and escape herself. Once more time was her true enemy.
"What the hell do you two think you are doing?" B'Elanna Torres roared as she materialized within the transporter alcove.
Naomi and Mizoti swallowed hard, each took a step back, lower lips quivering as they faced a very enraged Klingon.
B'Elanna stepped closer to the retreating girls. "You high-jacked a ship "
"Technically it's kidnapping," Mizoti boldly corrected.
B'Elanna glowered at the interruption. "You're AWOL and you abducted an officer!" Her arms were folded imposingly across her chest.
Mizoti looked to her partner in crime, then back to B'Elanna, and in a very Seven-like stance she said. "We might be AWOL but but you are my Mor. I can not abduct my own parental unit."
"And this makes what you did acceptable?" B'Elanna was still angered, but Naomi, being more accustomed to hearing the dreaded 'mother's voice', heard a distinctive worry behind the anger.
"In a word, yes," Naomi said, now as bold as Mizoti. "We have to get Seven back, before the Queen does something horrible to her! And we didn't want to wait for the grown-ups to do something. So we decided to do something ASAP, and with Kellein we are both covert and efficient. Isn't that the Maquis way of doing something?"
"What about the damage to Voyager?" B'Elanna waved a hand, generalizing their home. She wasn't about to let them off the hook that easily, despite the fact she shared their sentiment about getting her beloved wife back home safely.
The girls gave a nervous look at one another.
"WELL!" The arms that had been across the chest were now balled into fists and resting upon hips.
"Um .um .se see the...the the thing is ." Naomi shifted from foot to foot. "It wasn't permanent damage. And it isn't like they are priority systems I mean, Harry and Itch can get everything back in order in no time."
"Mor," Mizoti put a resting hand upon her Klingon mother's arm. "Please, lets go get SoS'oy please .. Mor. Kellein can keep cloaked and as an added precaution she can masque herself to appear as another ship's configuration. Right now we are camouflaged to appear as the Diamond's sensor ghost. The Queen won't know we are here we we can transport SoS'oy and ..we can even knock the Diamond out of commission like Kellein's mother did. Then we just warp the Grethor out of here."
B'Elanna moved past the girls to the bridge and looked at readouts flashing by on the sensors at tactical, ops and helm control.
"Mizoti to tactical, Naomi to Ops," B'Elanna ordered crisply.
"Come on before she changes her mind." Naomi tugged the disbelieving Norkadian out of her shock.
"What makes you so sure that I will not turn this vessel around and head back to Voyager?" B'Elanna said, staring at the girls with a glare that would have put Janeway's 'Force 10' to shame.
"Because .Seven needs us," both girls said in unison.
The woman looked at the children, her mind screaming at her that it was far too dangerous for them to accompany her, for if she failed she knew what would become of them. They would be taken, assimilated, controlled by the Hive Mind, and they would lose all that they were.
"I am sorry," she said in a hushed tone.
What happened to Annika Hansen because her parents refused to listen to reason would not happen to the girls.
"Kellein, send a subspace transmission to Voyager."
"B'Elanna! Please!" Naomi rushed the young Klingon and took her hand.
Mizoti took the other side and grabbed her Klingon mother's arm. "Mor Mor don't send us away!"
** Communications open, B'Elanna.** Kellein's voice announced
"Captain, transmission coming through," Harry said from ops.
"From the shuttle?"
"No, the Diamond."
Janeway rubbed the bridge of her nose, forcing back the sudden headache that pounced in her mind. She truly had no desire to talk to the Queen. She didn't want to hear the threats, the badgering, or the gloating. For a group of emotionally suppressed people, the Queen had an abundance of emotions. She forced cortical inhibitors within all of her drones, castrating them from their emotions, but she could swim in all the emotions she desired. And the Borg claim that there is no disparity within the collective.
"Lets hear it," the redhead said.
Harry nodded and patched the communiqué through.
**Captain Janeway.** The voice was wavy as if someone was speaking through a metallic tunnel filled with water.
"That isn't the Queen!" Harry exclaimed, relieved to hear B'Elanna's voice no matter how strange sounding it was.
"Lieutenant, do you have custody of our adolescent fugitives?"
** Yes Captain, and I am going to transport them back home.**
"Wait a minute . Lieutenant, you will report back with the Kellein. That's an order, B'Elanna."
**Captain, we both know I am not going to leave my wife in the hands of the Borg. I am already here. Kellein and I are going in alone. The other shuttles are not ready for flight. Captain, we cannot miss this window of opportunity. We've been tailing the Diamond for two days because they cannot engage transwarp drive. **
Aboard the Diamond, the Queen had been monitoring subspace frequencies, but so far the thorough searches for any vessel other than Voyager had turned up empty. Even the faint trace of plasma the sensors did pick up turned out to be Borg impulse power signatures.
Any space faring being knows that all ships expend fuel, ionized gas to be precise, otherwise called plasma. If one could trace the plasma then the source could very well be the cloaked ship. And having heard the transmission, the Queen now knew that B'Elanna was aboard a cloaked ship and pursuing her wife in a futile effort to rescue her. If this Kellein fired while cloaked it would be all the easier to track her, because, the Queen reasoned, the enemy would not be able to maintain a full cloak while engaging in a firing solution. The Diamond was in no danger, for such weapons, after all, the Borg adapted. Once the Kellein was revealed she would order its assimilation.
The Queen's worry, however, centered upon her estranged mate, her beloved Prime. The arrival of B'Elanna Torres would cause Seven to become even more difficult to contain. B'Elanna brought hope to Seven, and the Queen wanted her Prime to feel forsaken by hope, by her wife and her Voyager collective. The Queen was well aware that she had lost three drones to her Prime; it did not bother her as much as it pleasured her. Whether Seven realized it or not, she was exhibiting the training she had been given in the maturation chamber twenty years ago. Seven was becoming more like the Queen and thus a full equal to her.
A glimmer of humor spread across the ashen face as she thought how bitter it would be for B'Elanna to see her wife already inducted into the Royal Protocol. But first she would have to break her favorite by using Seven's greatest weakness, her heart. Since the induction into the Voyager Collective, Janeway had made Seven weak and small, but the Queen was about to return Seven's empowerment.
The Queen wasn't the only one listening to the subspace transmission traffic. Seven monitored the Central Plexus from the remote computer terminal in the safety of the Assimilation chamber.
"BangwI .I knew sooner or later you would come for me," the blonde whispered. "The girls have taken Kellein .." the young woman couldn't help but admire the gusto the children had. Still she was a bit concerned that in their bravado they hadn't clearly thought things through. Fortunately, her beloved was with them and from the transmissions she was going to send her daughter and Naomi back to Voyager. There could be no better opportunity to save Miral.
All Seven would have to do was to order the Klingon drones to piggyback a carrier wave of a transporter signal along with the data stream of Mizoti and Naomi when they were beamed over to Voyager. Instead of two signals coming to the Transporter Room there would be three. Seven decided it was extremely fortunate her girls had decided to highjack Kellein or getting Miral off of the Diamond would be more than difficult.
As a Borg she didn't have to vocalize her orders, Seven merely had to send a subspace thought to the neuro-processors of Be'tor and Lursa and she knew it would be carried out.
**B'Elanna, I appreciate your feelings on this, trust me, but going in alone is far too dangerous. I can't allow it.**
"Captain, when Seven of Nine was rescued the first time, it was only you within the Queen's chamber because you wouldn't risk anyone else. We have a plan. We simply engage it now rather than later. Captain, to wait longer will be futile and we will lose our chance to get her back," B'Elanna said as she stared into the main viewer showing her the bridge of Voyager.
"With Neelix and his ship, Rothery piloting the Delta Flyer, Baytart taking the helm of Voyager, and Chakotay on the Areowing, I will not be alone. But I need to be as covert as possible. We both know this." B'Elanna folded her arms over her chest, defying any protests the fiery captain could utter.
Pablo Baytart was an excellent pilot and flew the majority of the Gamma shifts. He had often joked that it was his juggling that kept his fingers nimble and his mind sharp enough that he could fly circles around Paris.
Amanda Rothery, since her youth, had been shoved into a cockpit of pod-racers and single man fighters on the ruins of New Hope, battling other cadres for this scrap of territory or that. She was not as confident behind the controls of Voyager as she was a smaller craft. Amanda had stated this more than once to her captain who would not listen to her protests. Now she would be in her element.
Neelix who had managed to avoid the Collective and maneuver around the small Borg scout vessels would be an added distraction. He was, in his own right, a very brave individual, even if his demeanor was that of a concierge rather than a warrior.
Captain Janeway must have followed this line of reasoning, for the young Klingon could see the resolve in the steel blue eyes. **Alright, Lieutenant, we'll play it your way.**
"Thank you, Captain. And Captain, I think that once all the parents are together punishment concerning out little pirates can commence. However, I am beaming them over now, and suggest for the time being that they be confined to quarters until alternative measures can be taken."
**I'll take that under advisement, Lieutenant.**
B'Elanna turned back to the girls who looked both disappointed and fearful of what sort of punishment a Klingon, a Borg, a captain, a Talaxian and a Human could devise. In seeing their disappointment, the young woman said, "I never said I am was going to take you with as I go on this rescue mission. I only said I wasn't going to turn around and return to Voyager. What kind of mother do you think I am to place you in direct harm? Sorry, but Klingons do not deliberately put their children in danger."'
"But Klingon children our age are taught martial arts," Mizoti argued.
"Yes, Mizoti, they are, but you do not have that training."
"I am Borg!" the child nearly yelled.
"You are now my daughter and you will COMPLY!" came a growl.
Mizoti looked down, shifted her feet, and then looked back up. With a new resolve in her hazel eyes, she replied, "Qa'pla, Mor."
As Seven disengaged the tubules from the computer terminal within the assimilation chamber she knew she was running out of time. Voyager and a small squadron of her shuttles would soon be on a rescue mission. Seven knew she had to gain the Queens' attention soon. Granted, she would never have all of it, but she could gain enough of it so the pathogen could work its way though to the Central Plexus without the Queen realizing it until it was too late.
Looking behind her she saw that Miral's prone body shimmered in the green light of a Borg Transporter. The tall blonde smiled, thinking that despite the fact the Queen had intended to use Miral as a weapon, instead she had given a weapon to Seven.
"Seven of Nine .," summoned the voice of the Queen, a secret malice in its echo as it filtered throughout the cube, "come. It is time .."
Miral opened her dark eyes to find herself staring up at a blanket of white. Her nose stung with unmistakable sharp scent of filtrated air, and humans. Snorting as if to clear her nasal cavity of the tang of human, Miral rolled over and was on her feet faster than the humans could react.
Miral turned her head quickly. Her keen warrior's eyes saw four doors, two that led to turbo lifts, one to a ready room, and another obviously to a briefing room. She turned her eyes to rest upon the occupants of the bridge. She took inventory of possible adversaries: four Humans and one Vulcan. Next to her were two children, one she recognized as Katerian, the other she didn't have a clue as to what she might be.
Her presence aboard the ship was as much of a surprise to the Starfleet officers as it was to Miral.
The red head stared for a moment before she spoke. "I am Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager. May we inquire as to who you are?'
"Captain, she is not Borg," Harry said.
"Oh, you have to use your sensors to figure that out?" Miral snapped sardonically.
Chakotay opened his mouth, then snapped it shut, then opened it up again. "Are you wouldn't happened to be related to B'Elanna?"
"I am her mother," Miral said, folding her arms in such a way it was as if it was the Chief Engineer standing before them only twenty years older. "Miral, daughter of L'Naan of House Prasba." Miral assiduously remained on guard as she continued to speak. "Where is B'Elanna?"
"She's on Kellein," Mizoti said boldly. "She's going after SoS'oy."
Now that word caught the Klingon's attention as she turned to regard the alien child. "SoS'oy? You must be Mizoti."
The child stood proud. "I am Mizoti, daughter to Seven," she paused to consider if she should say Hansen or Torres. "Of House Torres ..I think ."
Miral laughed. "You are a female so you trace your lineage matriarchally, Wa'Hom, so you are of House Prasba as well."
Janeway's expression softened a little as she regarded B'Elanna's mother. "Mrs. Torres ."
When the Klingon growled, the bridge officers became defensive, waiting for what, they did not know. Second Lieutenant Baytart wished it was Rothery seated at the helm rather than him. Juggling knives and flaming clubs was one thing, juggling the Klingon protocols was quite another. In fact, the warriors of the Klingon Empire always scared the life out of him, so much so he had to strain from not losing his lunch.
"I am no longer mated to that Pa'taq. Do well to remember that. My Mate is Chancellor Martok. You will call me Miral or Captain." The Klingon's voice dropped several octaves, indicating the dangerous threshold the Captain had blundered into. You only received one warning from a Klingon warrior, and if you were stupid enough to ignore it, you started regretting a lot of things in your life rather quickly.
Kathryn knew enough about Klingons to not try their already tenuous patience. "I apologize. B'Elanna has kept her sir-name. I meant no offence, I didn't want to seem too forward in simply using your given name, Captain Miral."
Miral accepted the mistake for what it was. Humans always felt the need to use a sir name. Having lived half her live amongst them Miral understood their dilemma when meeting a person with one name and a desire to offer respect.
"Captain Janeway, Stick Girl Seven is in danger. That Tin Bitch who thinks she's a queen is going to put my daughter-in-law through something called Royal Protocol. We have to intercede." She looked to the bridge personnel once more. "Do not tell me you are sending only one shuttle after the Borg?"
Janeway shook her head. She knew she had a lot to tell Miral but not a lot of time. "Actually, we are deploying a small squadron right now. Commander Chakotay is piloting a vessel "
"Then I am joining you." The aging Klingon pointed to the first officer, giving him no alternative but to comply with her wishes.
"Did you think I would not know what it was you were doing, Seven?" The Queen said as she neared her errant drone.
"Irrelevant," Seven said. "She is gone and I am still here, but not for long."
"You have too much faith in your wife, Seven."
"And you underestimate her, as you have me. You can not defeat me, Queen of the Borg!" Seven spat as the former Magnus Hansen delivered his daughter to the Queen. "I defy you!"
"Brave words. I have heard them before. From thousands of species across thousands of worlds, long before you were born. I know your weakness. You have allowed the small ones to contaminate your perfection with the ideals of guilt, shame and remorse."
"The quest for humanity is not imperfection. It is not weakness."
The Queen trailed a mesh covered left hand over Seven's abdomen, cooing into her ear, "In their collective state, the Borg are utterly without mercy driven by one will alone: the will to conquer. They are beyond redemption beyond reason."
"No " Seven couldn't breath. She felt as if her chest was constricted. All the haunted dark words uttered by Starfleet's finest now echoed into her mind as they had several months ago in Cargo Bay Two when Seven had fallen into self-mutilation. The Queen was relentless in her desire to dominate Seven.
''It is my opinion that the Borg are as close to pure evil as any race we've ever encountered. This is what all species that have encountered us have said. It is what they think when they encounter you Seven of Nine." The Queen's lips pressed close to Seven's ear. "The imperfect beings see the Borg as mindless drones. They would wish you dead. All imperfect beings want you dead, Seven of Nine. Hear their words. You know them well. Individual thought and free will do not exist " The Queen countered.
The tall blonde shivered under the battering of dark images forced through her mind. The Queen had activated a loop in her endemic memory, taunting the human until the words became a funeral dirge she could not exorcize from her mind.
"Mindless drones most lethal enemy evil heartless cold without redemption beyond reason no will of their own no individuality Do you know what Starfleet will do to you, Seven, when you return to the Alpha Quadrant? They will arrest you. . . They will interrogate you, just was the Doctor did aboard the Equinox. Yes, my Mate, I know of that time. I know how you suffered so in their hands. I know of what Thomas Paris did to you in Cargo Bay two. I know what you did to yourself! I know what THEY caused you to do to yourself! And, oh, you suffered from their words, from their hands. They hate you, Seven. They will go on hating you. You have no place in their collective. Your place is with me. It always has been, my mate."
"Here we go crew," Chakotay said over the communications systems as he maneuvered the areowing shuttle out of formation, diving out fast to the port side of the Delta Flyer and cutting fast between Neelix and Voyager.
"Razzle Dazzle, Commander," Amanda commented. "Heads up for incoming ordinance. Neelix, don't let them get a lock. And stay the hell out of Voyager's firing solution."
"Roger that, Lieutenant," Neelix responded.
"Cut the chatter," Janeway ordered from Voyager, "Go in hard and fast. We have to buy time." The fiery redhead would say no more knowing the Borg were monitoring their communications. She had three women out there she cared deeply about and she wanted them all home safe. Somehow, knowing that Miral Torres -- or rather Miral of House Prasba -- was playing gunner aboard the areowing made Janeway feel more secure, as if they had a secret weapon against the Borg Queen and her drones.
Four vessels wove in and out with no apparent pattern, at least not one the Borg were familiar with from among the Federation attack patterns. All save one: Razzle Dazzle, simply because it was a chimera of assault coming in from all sides. This swarm attack was, for the Borg, pure chaos.
Five ships formed their individual firing solutions and deployed at will. Of course the fifth ship was cloaked, making her even more lethal. Phasers on rotation, photon torpedoes, and seismic charges were all released, striking against the impenetrable shields of the Diamond.
The Borg fought back, undaunted and striking hard and fast against its smaller predators.
Amanda put the Delta Flyer through a wild series of dips, circles and turns, then finished with a straight out run while uncapping a firing trigger and squeezing the plunger. Phasers ripped into the hull of the diamond-shaped ship, causing it to spiral back even as Neelix let loose four torpedoes.
The squadron's only directive was to buy time for B'Elanna to extract their missing crewmember. Phaser bolts burst from the Delta Flyer, tracing lines all around the Borg ship, which cut a snap-roll to the right and down. Amanda stayed with it, trying to line up another shot, but the Borg were adapting. Amanda snap-rolled one after the other, each time coming out near one of her comrades in hopes to confuse the Borg.
B'Elanna gently urged Kellein, and the ship complied easily with her commands. First a fast dive, then a barrel roll back up, and banked to the right to avoid any stray phaser bolts.
"Kellein, we have them now." The young Klingon's declaration was accented by a sudden flash and a jarring buck as the sonic charge detonated distantly behind them.
"What was that!" barked Neelix.
"A seismic charge," Amanda answered. "It had to come from that living ship. It's B'Elanna!"
The Diamond bucked, pieces flying, as the other four ships concentrated on one area, slamming hard into it, but their efforts seemed to have little effect. The Borg were adapting too quickly.
Miral painted the target and the areowing torpedoes slid away, diving at the Diamond. Chakotay took up the charge as Neelix tried to evade an onslaught of Borg phasers
"Blast, I'd forgotten what it's like to engage the Borg one on one," the Talaxian commented, the worry filling his throat. Many things could rattle the furry ambassador and the Borg was chief amongst them.
He zigzagged the best his frigate could mange. He knew only that he had to give B'Elanna and Seven a chance to escape. He gave a fleeting thought to the two souls he loved most on Voyager: Samantha and Naomi and with renewed determination let lose his entire ordnance.
The dozen phaser blasts rocketed the three smaller ships. The new shields withstood the test, but they could not hope to withstand the onslaught much longer. Voyager moved to the forefront of the charge once more, leading the squadron into the maelstrom, concentrating all fire power into a tertiary system. It had worked once before with Picard while guarding Earth from the Borg mense. Janeway hoped it would do so again.
The Diamond spiraled end over end as a second seismic wave reverberated against the hull, seemingly jarring every bolt out of place. Kellein had struck again, but this time the devilray ship phased out of cloak and, like a pilot fish on a shark, attached itself to the Diamond.
Voyager roared across the widening battlefield, phasers blasting away, explosions erupting all about it, a scene of spectacular destruction and frenzy. Baytart slowed and banked suddenly, circling the Diamond's emplacement, coming too fast around the back for the stationary systems to swivel. A furious barrage destroyed the defensive position of Voyager, forcing her to move off, but not before it managed to fire a torpedo that shattered the adaptive Borg shields.
As Voyager began to close, the fighters flanking the Diamond banked away suddenly, veering left and right, then turned to engage. The four pilots were up to the task set before them, worming their way through the Diamond's sporadic burst of fire.
It was now up a young Klingon to carry the charge.
The Queen stroked the soft cheek of the taller blonde. "Disparity does not exist here in the Collective. I am the Collective. I bring order to chaos. I am the beginning, the end, the one who is many. I am the Borg. You are the Borg, Seven of Nine. You will become the one who is many. You will become the beginning, the end. My equal. Mine," The Queen cooed.
For a moment Seven was frozen by the hypnotic voice of her tormentor.
"I want to bring you perfection." The Queen smiled. "You are my equal. My counterpart. You are superior to Locutus and Data I will bring you perfection. With your wife you will taste the bitterness of mortality. There you will be forgotten. And when you die, either by old age or by an assassin's phaser, that same gloried Starfleet will place you under their butcher's knives for study, for you are BORG! They will always hate you Seven.
"They will never trust you. Section 31 will see to it. Admiral Necheyev will see to it. She hates you, Seven, and she controls Locutus. What do you think he will do when he lays eyes on you? He will be the first to strike you down! He did it with Hugh and he did it twice with She Who Was Before. And he will do so with you. He despises you, Seven, because you are BORG!"
Seven flashed a toothy grin. "You are flawed and weak, and delusional." With a silver meshed hand Seven backhanded the queen hard enough to send the cybernetic being sprawling to the metal floor of the Diamond, then spat a vindictive, "Never touch this body again, drone."
Seven turned to the Queen, her words frozen as if by the bitter arctic wind when they left her mouth. "You are small. You are irrelevant. You have no power over me! Jithab chojeylaHob." (I am free; you cannot defeat me)
This proud woman would not allow the terror of what the Borg had said to defeat her. She would not allow the terror of the past to overcome her. Seven smiled before she stepped up to the Queen. "Go assimilate yourself, PetaQ!" In her hand Seven held an assassin's dagger. She looked at it then to the Queen. "I am not the woman you see! I am not Borg. I am an individual."
The blonde amazon activated the wrist knife in her left gauntlet and the modified Kut'luch sprang forth. The warrior stared directly into the face of the Queen. Impossible blue eyes glared deeply into silver. "I want you to see just who it is that is going to kill you 'Drone'. I am not Seven Of Nine. I am not Annika Torres. I am B'Elanna, daughter of Miral of House Prasba!" Moving quickly B'Elanna drew the knives across the Queen's throat. "Resistance is FUTILE!"
The Queen's head toppled off the black armored shoulders, even as the body crumbled to the floor with a metal clang. B'Elanna wiped the blood off on her sleeve before she discarded the weapon from one hand and the other slid home into the gauntlet. Her beloved wife was finally free from her nemesis.
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