DISCLAIMER: Star Trek not mine, no profit made, just playing. That oughta cover it, right?
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Anyway, I've done something I really shouldn't, and tried my hand at some technical stuff along the way here, please ignore it as it's all from my imagination and I am _not_ a technically inclined dragon. It's just meant to be a bit of framework for the story itself, so it's not that important anyway.
Also, in case anyone wonders about it... my little wonder ship is a bit inspired by a ship called "The Sun Crusher", I believe, from an old Star Wars book. The rest is me. ^-^
By Carola "Ryûchan" Eriksson
B'Elanna wasn't allowed to remain motionless in her shock for long. Janeway got them all moving out of the cave within moments, watchful for any Drones that might not have been collected. What met them as the exited the cave was the Borg Cube raining down heavy fire, not on Voyager itself, but at the ground around it, then the Cube cut through the planet's orbit, presumably to enter a transwarp conduit at soonest possibility.
On the planet, the ground around Voyager collapsed with great tremors, throwing Janeway and the others to the ground with the impact. Janeway immediately realized what the Borg had tried to do, not harm the ship but rather stall it from attempting to follow. Now all the people outside the ship, as well as supplies and equipment even if they just took the bare essentials, would take some time to get inside by shuttle. It must have seemed an overly cautious measure to the Borg, as even with the upgrades Voyager would need quite some time to catch up with the Cube, and the Borg had no idea the ship had been so radically modified it could reach those speeds.
The Hybrid suddenly came to a landing in front of the group, and as it's doors opened to urgent cries of 'Here Captain!', Janeway felt carefully optimistic.
The Hybrid. In accordance with Seven and B'Elanna's calculations, the little ship was far faster than Voyager even without the slipstream drive, and it would not need to wait while Voyager loaded up people or equipment. Not to mention that it would not be the first time she mounted a rescue attempt in a small vessel to free Seven from the clutches of that damned creature.
Her mind was still running angles and attack plans as the ship hurriedly delivered them to Voyager where the doctor was waiting to tend to them.
"Lanna can handle me, you go heal Kate!" Miral snarled at the doctor who had caught sight of her bloodied form and decided to start with her. Then she snatched the dermal regenerator from the doctor's hands to trust at B'Elanna, but the still somewhat shocked woman didn't seem quite able to focus. Instead Sam Wildman stepped up, accustomed to assisting the doctor, and dealt with Miral's injuries.
"Captain, your arm is broken in two places! What happened?" The doctor sounded horrified at the damage.
"She was holding me when the Drones came for me. The Captain would not release me, so the Drones broke her arm to take me." Mezoti spoke quite quietly compared to her usual assertive manner.
Chakotay had joined them, and Janeway spoke to him seriously while the doctor fussed over her arm. He frowned and shook his head at her.
"Captain, you can't be serious... give us a few hours to pack everything up and Voyager will go after Seven, but you can't just-"
"Chakotay, I will not be contradicted on this." Kathryn warned him darkly, there would be no debating or challenging her authority at the moment.
Behind them Tom Paris had finally arrived to Sickbay, all crewmembers with some medical training summoned to heal all the injured, while the others were already struggling to get all the necessary things back onboard. He attempted to offer his assistance to Miral, in a gesture meant to help soothe his Captain's ruffled feathers, but the Klingon snarled at him and told him to go help someone who needed it. Even the usually gentle Sam Wildman had a cool expression on her face as she informed him that she had Miral's injuries well in hand, to his surprise. It was a treatment he had been getting a lot lately from all kinds of people onboard. He really needed to think of a way to rectify this situation.
Icheb was also present in Sickbay, having just had his injury treated when the group came in, and the boy was standing with his sister, looking pale and shaken to the core. Suddenly B'Elanna's eyes focused on him.
"Son, what is a 'transcendence' about?" She asked the boy with a quiet intensity that silenced the others around her.
Icheb swallowed hard and Mezoti's lip quivered a little, sending a message of dread to the other members of their family that were gathered there.
"The transcendence is when the Queen acquires a new corporeal form. The female Drone chosen for her similarities to the Queen has been prepared since assimilation, perfected, for the purpose of receiving the essence of the Queen. During the transcendence that Drone will merge with the consciousness of the Queen and eventually be absorbed into her, and the old husk will be discarded." The boy spoke hollowly, as if trying not to think of his Seven in the context of that horror. "That is regrettably all I know of the transcendence."
"That does it!" Janeway snapped into the silence with a resolution of solid steel. "I'm not ordering anyone to join me, but I'm taking that ship and going after her. You have the Voyager in the meantime." Directed at Chakotay, who knew better to say anything at this point. "Get everything together that you can, then leave this planet before the Borg decides on a repeat visit."
"B'Elanna and I will need some of the heavy weaponry, and someone to..."
"Those boxes in Engineering, right?" Miral said and headed for the door. "I'll grab them and your bat'leth, Lanna, then meet you at the ship." She was gone before anyone had the chance to answer.
"Captain, you'll need a good pilot for the job..." Tom spoke up, straightening his posture a bit and giving his most serious look. "You need the best."
"You're right." Janeway said absently. "Tal, would you?"
The young woman looked frightened but set her jaw determinedly. "Yes Captain!"
"I'm not ordering you to..." Janeway pointed out, oblivious to Tom's openmouthed expression of shock. "I can't even ask you as your Captain."
"Understood ma'am, but I want to do this."
B'Elanna stood up. "I'll go prepare the Hybrid for takeoff and see if I can chart the direction of the transwarp conduit. But first..." She turned to the children, hugging and kissing them both. "I'd like you to stay with Sam and Naomi until we get back, OK?"
"And be sure of this, I _will_ get your mom back... there's just no way I'm going to let anything take her from me now." B'Elanna swore to them and hugged them again, hard, before leaving.
Moments later the four women were entering the Hybrid, fending off the doctor and hoping to take off before Tuvok arrived to protest and want to come up with another plan, which would take time they could not afford.
As Miral carried the weapons onboard, B'Elanna stopped her momentarily.
"Mom..." B'Elanna said quietly. "You shouldn't do this."
Miral sighed. "It doesn't matter Lanna, if I don't go now, I'll still be going once everything is packed up. Might as well be now."
Janeway looked at them strangely. "What are you talking about at a time like this? Why shouldn't Miral..." Her eyes widened as comprehension dawned. "...oh."
"You... you think you might..." Janeway was even paler than before, and she had trouble getting the words out.
"We don't know if whatever brought Mezoti and myself back to life will still hold outside the planet." Miral tried to say it gently, but Janeway still closed her eyes in pain. "If I have to die again I'd just as soon find out now, with you, than hours from now when Voyager leaves and neither of you are there."
"Also..." She said, pushing past B'Elanna to place the weapons inside. "this way perhaps we can have a warning so something can be done for the little one."
Miral was right, and B'Elanna and Janeway knew there was no stopping her from coming with them, so with pained expressions they stepped inside, sealed the door, and began manoeuvring out of the Shuttledeck.
Tal Celes and B'Elanna piloted the ship and tracked the Borg vessel's flightpath as Janeway and Miral both sat by the third station, Janeway holding Miral's hand in a death grip.
Upwards they went, through the atmosphere... past the atmosphere, passing by the two tiny moons that circled the planet... and rising. Miral looked grim and Janeway's grip on her still wounded hand was hard enough to draw blood, though neither of them noticed.
B'Elanna locked onto the probable trajectory of the Borg Cube, and with a grim expression, punched the Hybrid into it's high speeds. Silence reigned.
Then after a moment, Miral drew a shaky breath.
"Kathryn? Kate?" Miral said gently, trying to snap Kathryn out of staring at her so hard that Miral feared Kathryn would start seeing the inside of the hull right through Miral's head. "I think... I think it might be allright. I'm still here."
B'Elanna whispered a thanks to Kahless.
Kathryn made a little sobbing sound and squeezed the hand she was holding a little tighter. Then she noticed that the hand was bleeding, and took a closer look at both of Miral's hands.
"Miral!" She gasped, making B'Elanna jump in her seat. "Your hands! You didn't let anyone heal them?"
"It's allright Kate, it doesn't matter. I can wield a bat'leth anyway." Miral tried to assure her, but Kathryn would have none of that.
"You just sit still and I'll fix that. I know B'Elanna has a fully stocked medical kit in here somewhere."
B'Elanna didn't listen to Janeway's odd scolding of her mother, or Miral's curiously meek answers, pouring herself instead into the ship's sensors, looking for that elusive Cube.
'Just hold on, love.' B'Elanna thought to Seven. 'I'm on my way.'
Seven was standing surrounded by the Drones that had brought her aboard the Cube, though they stood a distance away from her and made no attempt at restraining her. There was no need.
Seven stood quite still.
Around her she felt the activity of the Cube, of Drones performing their assigned tasks in perfect synchronization, no deviation, no conflict, no hesitation... only unity. She heard the voices of the Collective echo in the back of her mind, in that place that she had fought for so many years to learn how to accept the silence. It was... disconcerting.
Part of her would always long back to this place, always feel the lure of the Hive. Feel the seductive pull of green light and humid air. Here was no confusion, no self-doubt, no self-loathing, no feeling inadequate for not fitting in. Here no-one looked down upon you, made you feel like an abomination, like an outcast, unworthy, unclean, unforgiven... unaccepted.
A Drone serves or does not exist.
A part would always call the Collective home. But most part of her, of the individual Seven of Nine, would fight the Borg with her entire being. Since her last encounter with the Queen, Seven had in secret done something that was very risky... she had made subtle changes in her own cortical node, to ensure that even though she heard the voices, the thousands of voices speaking as one, she would not lose her own in them. She had told no-one of this procedure, indeed if she had, the doctor and the Captain would have stopped her as it could have lead to her deactivation. Her... death.
Now she was glad she had done it. The voices echoed in her mind but did not overtake her, would not overtake her. She would remain Seven of Nine, not Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix 01, but daughter of Kathryn, mother of Icheb and Mezoti, lover of B'Elanna.
It was the purpose of all things Borg to seek perfection, and Seven had retained that drive. She would try for perfection in all that she did, even if she realized it was futile. Omega could not be achieved, rationally she knew this, she accepted this, and still found the struggle to better oneself a worthwhile cause although true perfection could not be reached.
But she had found perfection, unexpectedly. Perfection was a half-Klingon engineer with a brilliant mind and a passionate nature. Perfection was achieved in a pair of brown eyes and a loving smile.
Seven had found Omega, and it was B'Elanna's heart.
The Cube dropped out of the transwarp conduit into normal space. A few beats, then it began to slow down. Seven knew this meant docking would soon commence, and in a very short while, she would be taken to the Queen.
And she would be lost.
Flanked by a number of Drones, Seven of Nine was escorted from the Cube she had been travelling in, into the Queen's own vessel. Although this vessel was new, Seven knew every twist, every turn, every corridor, by heart and would have needed no guide to show her the way to the Queen's own chamber. She had walked those corridors before, in an identical ship, in the same green light and humid air, and Seven never forgot.
Strange how even as she was being led to her doom, the slightly misty hallways felt more welcoming than a certain cavernous cargo storage bay onboard Voyager. But the memories of curling up barefoot on B'Elanna's couch, or snuggling in B'Elanna's bed, was all she needed to remind herself just where her true home was.
All too soon Seven found herself in the Queen's chamber, watching with barely concealed dread as the Queen herself assembled before her eyes. With a final hiss of artificial limbs attaching, the Queen stepped forward to bestow Seven's face with a lingering cold caress, the black eyes boring into Seven with an intensity and strange desire that made Seven's soul tremble.
The Queen smiled.
"Welcome, Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix 01." The Queen's voice was soft.
With a rumble an entire wall drew aside, revealing a room Seven had never before seen. As she watched a set of eight Drones of a kind she had not encountered before entered, taking their places along the walls as a construct slowly descended from the ceiling. It appeared somewhat similar to the machine that would lower the Queen and assemble her body, only it connected to what looked like two alcoves moulded to near bodyshape and tilted until the heads of each alcove would connect to the lowering apparatus.
"Welcome to your destiny."
The Drones grabbed Seven and dragged her over to one of the alcoves, despite Seven's sudden struggles, and almost before she knew it she was fastened securely to it. The Queen walked calmly over to the other alcove and placed herself in it as one of the strange Drones interfaced with the apparatus. Another pair of the Drones approached Seven and to her horror opened her artificial eyepiece and cortical implant, connecting it to an interface to the machine. Searing white light flooded Seven's synapses.
"We will be One." The Queen breathed.
And Seven screamed.
Aboard the Hybrid B'Elanna, Janeway and Miral had silently prepared for battle. The phaser rifles B'Elanna and Janeway would carry had, besides quite a punch, a variable setting that would allow them at least a handful of effective shots before the Borg would have adapted and rendered the weapons useless. B'Elanna once again cursed the fact that she had not worked on developing better weapons, specifically hand to hand weapons to use against the Borg, because a handful of phaser shots was not much against the Borg.
She did carry a shard of the hull plating that they had put on Voyager tucked into the waistband of her pants, a slightly ragged sliver that had been unusable on the hull itself, but that she had kept around with the intention of doing a few experiments with it later. Now she had wrapped a piece of cloth around the dull end, thinking to use the piece as a makeshift dagger if it came to that... whatever it took, she _would_ get her lover home.
Miral was carrying B'Elanna's bat'leth rather than phasers, stating honestly that the bat'leth would serve her as well as the other weapons might, and that she would feel more comfortable going into this battle with a Klingon weapon in her hands. The others had not disagreed.
While the other three prepared for when they would board a Borg vessel, hopefully cloaked by their new biodampeners, Tal Celes would remain inside the Hybrid, ready to take off at any moment. The idea of being all alone did not sit well with the nervous young woman, but she knew the plan and would perform her part to the best of her ability.
That was when they came within sensor-range of not one but two Borg vessels.
B'Elanna cursed loudly, fearful that they would not know which one Seven was on board and choose the wrong one, which would be catastrophic for all of them. Then Janeway recognised the readings of one of the vessels as the Borg Queen's own ship, and said with absolute certainty that it was were Seven would have been brought. It seemed logical, upon a moments consideration, so they decided to aim for that vessel first.
They would only have seconds once the Hybrid came out into normal warp speeds near the Borg vessels. The Borg would detect them immediately and react so it was up to Tal to be faster.
Everyone aboard the Hybrid held their breaths as Tal Celes' face grew grim, and with a punched command, brought the little ship into the Borg ships' visual range.
Spinning the Hybrid as the Borg Cube fired, Tal Celes narrowly avoided getting the ship hit, then slammed the little vessel with all their momentum right into the centre of the Cube. The four women onboard held on to their respective seats as the Hybrid lived up to it's creators' expectations, with a deafening grinding of metal and quite a few explosions in it's wake, cut right through the much larger ship.
Tal remained calm at the helm, holding the ship steady on the course she had laid in, until the Hybrid had cut a bleeding path through the heart of the Borg Cube and entered the vessel that was linked to it. Then she pushed the Hybrid forward through the Borg Queen's ship carefully, until she reached the open area all Borg vessels held within for storing captured starships. Once there Tal reduced the speed at once, angling the little vessel up at a remote corner against the Borg ship and attaching it there, coming to a standstill. She then started up the cloaking device and internal dampeners, trusting the ship's construction to keep it invisible to the Borg that was now fully aware of their presence, but would not be able to tell where they were.
"Ensign Tal Celes, you are a damned fine pilot." Janeway said barely over a whisper, grasping the young woman's shoulder as she looked at the ship's readings. "And when we get back to Voyager, you'll make a fine addition to the alpha shift."
And far away from them, after slightly more then nine months bound to a planet that had seemed so idyllic but then was proven to hold hidden dangers, the U.S.S. Voyager took to the skies.
Seven was in pain.
It wasn't physical pain, because she could no longer feel her body. Or rather, where she was she could feel endless thousands of physical forms if she wanted to, but she could no longer tell which one had been her own. At the moment it didn't matter much anyway.
She had been linked to the machine, and the machine had connected her Primary Cortical Node directly to the Queen. In a blinding, searing moment Seven was faced with all that which was the Queen, as the Queen truly was, the ancient parasite that had dwelled in many forms, held unlimited power and knowledge, the very heart of all that which is Borg... and Seven shattered.
For a moment.
Then Seven was herself again, intact but in pain as the process in which the Queen's essence would absorb her and replace Seven's soul with itself slowly tore deep gashes into her. She seemed to have lost the connection to her body in that strange place, but there was something else as well.
For every moment that passed, more of the Queen became her, and she the Queen. No longer was she an errant Drone severed from her Collective. No longer was she a Drone with the Hive mind speaking in her head. No, now she _was_ the Hive consciousness... the mind that decided, the will that drove them, the voice that spoke from millions of lips.
Seven tried to fight it, hence the pain. The Queen raged inside her, not understanding what could cause Seven's resistance, what had caused what should have been a swift procedure to halt and then resume at such a slow rate.
Seven realized what it was, the alterings she had made on her cortical node was interfering with the process, granting her a tiny handle to hold on to as all else was swept away. As Seven knew this, the Queen knew it as well, as their thoughts were one. Perhaps the Queen could have done something about it once she knew, but there was no time. Through the interlinked Hive consciousness came the information that a small vessel had dropped out of transwarp nearby and was tearing right through the Borg Cube.
Seven's heart sang 'B'Elanna', knowing her lover had come for her in their ship.
"They will be too late." The Queen sneered in Seven's mind and another part of Seven fell to the power that was the Queen.
Driven to her spiritual knees, Seven knew the Queen was right, she would not be saved. But even so, Seven would resist. Deep inside herself Seven found an image of her loved ones, of B'Elanna, the children and Janeway, and held it up as a shield, or perhaps an anchor. Seven would resist.
Because B'Elanna was coming for her.
B'Elanna, Janeway and Miral crept along the corridors of the Queen's vessel. The biodampeners they were wearing only distantly resembled the original technology created by the Hansens, and as such the Borg should not be able to detect them. Still, there was much activity going on around them, Drones most likely looking for them, so they treaded very carefully.
It had gone well so far, but the closer they got to the Queen's chambers, where Janeway suspected Seven would be held, the more tactical Drones were gathered, and it was coming to a point where they would have to fight their way in. Problem was, once they started fighting the Borg would be able to pinpoint their location, and then even more Drones would be coming their way. Even with the best of luck, the perhaps ten shots that B'Elanna and Janeway had between them would not get them to Seven, free her, and cut a path back to the Hybrid.
Finally they came to a junction. One way was where they needed to go to reach the Queen, but it was heavily guarded. The other paths led to other parts of the ship, but none offered a way past the Drone guards. It was time to fight.
The phaser rifles was strong enough to fell Drones left and right, but to get through them the number of usable discharges was reduced to two for them each. And now Drones from all over the ship would be converging on their location for sure.
Miral straightened. "I'll cause a diversion."
"Mom, no, you-"
Miral silenced them with a small gesture. "I said a diversion. I'll draw their attention away from you for as long as I can, then I'll hide and sneak my way back to the Hybrid." She managed a small loopsided smile. "Today may be a good day to die, but living is the greater challenge."
Then Miral reached out and grabbed Kathryn's face in her hands, pulling her in for a quick but deep kiss.
"Ahh, you know..." Miral told them with a little grin as she let go of Kathryn and hefted her bat'leth. "...I love a woman in uniform."
Before they could blink, Miral had dashed down the corridor with her bat'leth at the ready. She disappeared around the corner, and a moment later her voice echoed in the ship as she belted out a mighty warcry.
B'Elanna, fighting the tears in her own eyes, gave the teary Kathryn a rough push in the direction they were headed, biting down the urge to scream as her sharp hearing brought her the sound of her mother's strong voice calling out 'I am Miral of the House of...', announcing her identity to her enemies in a battle that the older woman believed would mean her certain death.
Offering a silent prayer to Kahless not to take her mother from her a second time, B'Elanna shifted her rifle, hoping it would not be to late for all of them.
By the time B'Elanna and Janeway reached the Queen's Lair, B'Elanna could barely hear anything over the thunder of her heart. It took but a moment for them both to realize that the room was empty, and that there was another room where a wall should have been according to Janeway's memories. In the centre of that room was a painfully bright light, partially obscuring the two female forms attached to it and starkly outlining the dark forms of the guarding Drones against its brightness.
B'Elanna was already running towards them when she saw one of the female forms buck and strain against some kind of restraints, and she was only vaguely aware that a cry of rage tore from her lips. She didn't bother to try and aim her rifle, she would try to barrel her way through instead.
Fortunately Janeway always had a tendency to keep a more level head in moments of crisis, so she stood still and took aim, using her two last shots to eliminate two of the Drones in B'Elanna's path. The half-Klingon used her momentum and the butt of her rifle to shove a third Drone away from the bucking woman as she reached her side, then spun around and threw her rifle into Janeway's arms, pulling out the makeshift dagger for herself.
Janeway caught the flying rifle with surprising ease for a starship Captain who by rights should not be used to participating in combat situations, as she raced to join her friends. Another Drone was downed before the remaining five hesitated in their approach, leaving Janeway only too aware that she had no more than one shot left.
Seven convulsed in her restraints, seeming unaware of B'Elanna's presence where she tried to make Seven answer or at least look at her. The Drones, after their momentary hesitation, began moving towards them again, and although B'Elanna's fingers flew across the controls, she had no idea how to disconnect Seven from the machine without risking to hurt her further. She, too, was aware that they had only one shot left.
Janeway shifted her stance from where she had been aiming the rifle towards the Drones, suddenly looking completely calm. She cast a contemptuous glance towards the supine Queen, sneered darkly, then threw the rifle up to her shoulder and took aim... at the center of the glowing machine.
The explosion that followed the last phaser discharge of the rifle threw Janeway off her feet and B'Elanna across Seven's reclining form. The Drones around them froze.
A groan worked its way past Seven's lips, and B'Elanna scrambled to her feet just in time to see a pale blue eye open and swivel around before briefly closing again. While Janeway struggled to her feet B'Elanna tore off the things connected to Seven's cortical implant, then used her dagger to cut open the restraints. As Janeway and B'Elanna both pulled Seven's unstable form upright they heard the hiss of the interface detaching from the Queen as well.
They stumbled towards the other room as quickly as they could, although Seven was all but unable to walk, all the while looking back to keep the Drones in sight. They saw them begin to move, two of them walking over to the Queen, helping her back on her feet, still none of the Drones came charging after them.
They picked up speed after leaving the Queen's chambers, no longer bothering to look back and with Seven regaining just a little strength in her legs. As they raced through the corridors as fast as they could, they occasionally came across Drones, but those Drones appeared frozen, most of them never moving at all, and the few that did made no move towards them.
Not stopping to look a gift horse in the mouth, the three women pressed on, B'Elanna noticing the signs of her mother's passage in places but not daring to stop and try to find Miral until she first had gotten Seven and Janeway inside the Hybrid.
Finally they reached the place where they had cut an opening to the hidden vessel, and were preparing to contact Tal to have her open the hatch when they saw that it was already opened. Filled with dread, B'Elanna left Janeway to carry Seven's considerable weight on her own as B'Elanna instead took a better hold of her makeshift blade and prepared to ram it into whatever would come out of the ship. Then she reached out and pulled the door open further.
Miral, injured and panting, swung around to plunge the remains of the broken bat'leth in her hands towards whoever was opening the hatch she had been closing, just as B'Elanna surged forward. Mother and daughter froze, mere inches from maiming one another.
Tal Celes broke their trance as she rushed forward, opening the hatch completely and helping Janeway to pull the stumbling Seven inside. Quickly the hatch was closed, and Tal and Janeway settled themselves in place to pilot the Hybrid away from there, trusting the care for Seven and Miral to B'Elanna.
Miral hesitated briefly, then claimed the third station for herself as B'Elanna pulled Seven down on the floor with herself to hold on to her tightly. Tal disconnected the Hybrid from the Borg vessel, decloaking in the process, then swung through the available open space before aiming the little ship to cut a way out.
Because the Hybrid did not have the added force of momentum this time, the passage out through the Borg Queen's vessel was rocky and slow, shaking the people inside the Hybrid in their seats and making B'Elanna hold Seven even more tightly. By the time they were halfway through the Borg Cube the tiny vessel had managed to pick up a little speed, just enough for Tal to change their course slightly, allowing Janeway to open fire on the Cube's core from the inside.
The Hybrid was thrown sideways as the Borg Cube exploded around them, but then the resistance was gone. Tal wasted no time in punching in her commands, throwing the Hybrid into full speed back the way they had come.
Only B'Elanna noticed how Seven convulsed as the Borg Cube was destroyed.
"Captain..." Tal Celes' voice was tinged with increasing alarm, but still she remained calm at the helm. "...a Borg vessel is following us."
Janeway was already hard at work at her station, going over the sensor readings. "Don't worry Tal, neither the Hybrid nor Voyager should be visible on Borg long range sensors anymore, we'll just cut the engines and pull up the cloak, and they should pass right by us." Her fingers flew across the controls. "An encoded message sent across subspace in the direction of the planet should alert Voyager so they can get out of sensor range as well."
"Chakotay will know where to rendezvous with us..."
"No..." On the floor where Miral and B'Elanna were using the medical kit to do what they could for Seven, although that was very little, Seven stirred and grabbed B'Elanna in an effort to sit up.
"No Captain..." Seven's voice was strained and rasping, and it was clearly an effort just to speak. "...the cloak cannot help the Hybrid now."
"Easy, love, easy." B'Elanna breathed, steadying Seven and biting back the sting of tears at seeing the usually so strong young woman so undone. "Why won't the cloak work now?"
"Because..." There was a long moment of silence, in which Seven closed her eye painfully, the other being little more than a gaping area of circuitry and tiny flashing lights at the moment, then opened it to gaze sadly into the distance. "...I am here."
The others looked at her, clearly not understanding her meaning.
"I..." Seven's voice faltered and her face twisted for a moment. Suddenly she shoved B'Elanna away as her features grew hard and cold as ice. She sneered at them for a moment, then spoke with a voice not her own, echoing and familiar. "I am the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile."
"No!" Seven's features twisted again, and she clutched at her head with both hands. "NOO!"
She collapsed into B'Elanna's arms, trembling violently. B'Elanna looked at her mother, horrified and frightened beyond anything she had ever felt before, a tear spilling over and trailing a burning path across one cheek.
"Captain." Tal said quietly, around the huge lump in her throat. While it was true that Seven had intimidated Tal like no other in the past, Tal had an incredible amount of respect for her superior, and during their time on the planet, she had come to like her as well. "These readings... a vessel is approaching us from the other direction."
Janeway tore her eyes away from her broken child, quickly wiping the tears away, and examined her controls. "It's Voyager." She thought for a moment. "No time for subtlety then, for either of us. Aim us towards Voyager and open hailing frequency."
After a moment, Tal lifted her head and looked at Janeway in some surprise. "Captain, Ensign Paris is at the helm of Voyager, and he has an idea."
"Is it workable?" Was all Janeway wanted to know.
"Yes Captain, I believe so." Tal sounded surprised, though perhaps the surprise was more along the lines of what the manoeuvre entailed than who had come up with it. "It is based on something Ensign Paris showed me in a competition once... it will be close, and you will all need to hold on tight, but if we can execute this, Voyager will be ready to beam you aboard."
"I will remain with the Hybrid, and..." Tal hesitated and glanced over at Seven. Janeway caught the look and nodded.
"I understand. Don't tell me the details, I'll trust your judgment on this." Janeway barked over her shoulder. "Find a way to strap yourselves in, now!"
The U.S.S. Voyager and the Hybrid were set on a collision course, with the Borg Queen's vessel on a course directly following the Hybrid.
The little ship wrenched as Tal threw it out into normal warp speeds directly in front of Voyager. The speed of both ships should have made a collision inevitable, and Janeway felt her heart rapidly climb up in her throat the very moment she saw Voyager loom in front of them.
Then Tal Celes brought the responsive little ship down, hard, the move jarring them all hard against their restraints, the Hybrid going down deeply underneath the larger shape of Voyager. Voyager also moved, veering as sharply to the right as the ship's mass and propulsion would allow.
In front of them the Borg vessel exited a transwarp conduit, also on a collision course with the two other ships.
The Hybrid, having cleared Voyager with the smallest margin possible, jerked straight up behind the starship, climbing so hard and fast that the vessel surfaced above Voyager upside down. The gravitational controls could not completely cancel out the savage forces at play, throwing the people aboard hard into their harnesses... then Miral, B'Elanna, Janeway and Seven was caught by Voyager's transporters, and the force of the Hybrid's mad climb were replaced by a hard landing on the floor of Voyager's Bridge.
Inside the Hybrid Tal Celes gritted her teeth against the pressure as the Hybrid soared above Voyager just as the larger ship grazed shields with the Borg vessel, narrowly escaping crashing into it. Then Tal brought the ship down again, sending the small craft tearing through the Borg vessel like a bullet.
The Hybrid cleared the Borg vessel and Tal managed to engage the auto controls to level the ship out and out of the way, just before she fainted.
Behind her the Borg vessel suffered several explosions before it and Voyager turned and faced one another, much like combatants in an arena, waiting for the signal to start their duel to the death.
On Voyager's Bridge, B'Elanna and Seven got to a semi-upright position just in time to see the Hybrid exit the Borg vessel accompanied by Tom's quietly muttered praise of Tal Celes and a series of explosions.
Seven stumbled forward, despite B'Elanna's strong hold, before steadying herself against the side of a consol. Seven's single eye was fixed on the viewscreen.
Tom brought Voyager about, facing the crippled but still functioning Borg vessel, orders being issued from both Chakotay and Janeway behind them, but Seven never heard them. A shiver ran down her form, and B'Elanna spoke to her, but Seven did not hear her either.
Suddenly the speaker system on the Bridge sparked to life with a familiar, well-modulated and utterly terrifying voice.
"Return." It intoned with a strange lilt. "You cannot run away."
"I am you as you are me. We are One. Distance means nothing. Return."
Seven made a strangled little sound, much like a sob, and grasped the consol with both hands. B'Elanna still held her tightly and felt the deep shivers that wracked Seven's body, even if they were scarcely visible on the surface.
"You cannot prevent the transcendence. Return."
Schooling her features not to show the horror she was feeling, Captain Janeway took a step forward to address the creature that had become something of her own personal archenemy.
"You're hardly in a position to make demands. Stand down and release Seven of Nine, and we will let you live." Janeway was glad to hear that her voice held firm as always, because her insides felt as though they were frozen with fear for the woman she saw as her daughter.
She was ignored.
"The transcendence cannot be stopped. You know this."
Janeway saw how Seven's head lolled forward at the words, and turned to make a cutting motion at Harry Kim. "Cut the transmission! Now!"
Harry Kim just shook his head helplessly as he struggled to obey, but he couldn't get a lock on how the sound was transmitted to Voyager's speakers, much less block that transmission.
"It has already begun. Return."
On either side of Voyager two Borg Cubes suddenly exited transwarp conduits to flank the Starfleet vessel in silent menace.
"Do not attempt to resist. Return to me." The voice softened. "Return and I shall give Voyager a chance to run away. It will be futile, but it will be more than they have now."
Seven grew absolutely still for a moment, then she straightened and took a small step out of B'Elanna's arms.
"You forget yourself." She stated calmly towards the viewsceen. "I am you as you are me." Seven's voice grew hard and menacing. "I am the Queen."
The collective gasp of shock heard on the Bridge was worthy of the Borg themselves in terms of synchronization at those words. Seven took no notice.
Seven tilted her head slightly in the direction of first one Cube, then the other. When she spoke her voice had gone cold and echoed with the faint trace of thousands of emotionless voices speaking along with her. "Destroy her."
The people on the Bridge of Voyager watched in disbelief as the two Cubes swerved and zeroed in on the Queen's vessel. A heartbeat later, and both Cubes opened fire.
The Borg Queen's vessel fought back, having the best equipment of all Borg ships, but it was crippled and the unified attack of the two Cubes would eventually overpower it. Seven watched it all with a cold, remote expression.
"NOOO!" The voice of the Borg Queen cried over the speakers, real fury tingeing it. "Cease!"
"Destroy her." Seven spoke up again, calmly, softly... very reminiscent of the Queen herself.
The Cubes froze in place, no longer firing upon the Borg Queen's vessel, but also not turning against Voyager. As the struggle for control raged between the two wills of the Collective, no Drone would move, not until one will was stronger and emerged victorious.
"You are one, alone." The Borg Queen sounded strained. "I am all the Queens before me, the will of the Collective, the essence of Borg. You cannot win."
Seven began bleeding from her nose, clearly from the strain of whatever internal war she waged against the other creature, but her voice was still quite calm.
"I am an individual. I am one. But I am not alone."
"My will is that of an individual. The will of a mother. The will of a daughter. The will of a friend." Seven glanced at B'Elanna once, briefly. "The will of a wife."
"My will is stronger, and I will defeat you."
Seven closed her eye and searched within herself for that part of her that had prevented the transcendence from immediately erasing her soul, that small anomaly that she had created with her own hands. She found that part and infused it with all that she had come to know about being an individual and all the feelings she had experienced, for good and bad.
Holding onto this part of herself firmly, Seven then looked into herself to find the part that was the Queen, the part that was the heart of the Collective.
"Existence as you know it is over. Resistance is futile." She spoke clearly in the direction of the viewscreen.
Then Seven took that glowing piece of individuality, and drove it with all of her indomitable will into the heart of the Collective, shattering that which held the Borg together.
The Borg Queen fought back, with all the strength and desperate determination of a dying beast, but Seven held onto her unyielding will.
On the Bridge of Voyager, Janeway and the others watched in stunned silence as explosions appeared all over the Borg Queen's vessel, and then the two Cubes started slowly drifting.
Over the speaker system a scream rang out, but it was drowned in the chilling cry of agony emitted from Seven's lips. B'Elanna, unconsciously echoing that cry with a horrified one of her own, followed Seven as she crashed to her knees clutching her head.
Blood was pouring not only from Seven's nose but also her ears, mouth and human eye, as her mind was caught in an inhuman pressure so great it seemed to want to implode her cranium.
With a white-hot blast of unbearable pain, the individuality and will of Seven of Nine, the new Queen of the Borg, seared through the synapses of the Hive mind... and dissolved it.
On the viewscreen the three Borg vessels collided, with an impact that caused a huge explosion in the Borg Queen's vessel which in turn took the other two ships with it in it's fiery destruction.
And on the floor of the Bridge of the starship Voyager, the unconscious form of Seven of Nine stopped breathing.
It took the doctor two and a half weeks to restore Seven of Nine, and even then the young woman was considerably weaker than normal. Her eyepiece replaced and her optical implant once more covered in it's sleek metal arch, Seven looked much like herself. It was on the inside she bore the scars of recent events, some so deeply that B'Elanna feared her love would never fully recover.
But surrounded by her family, her children and her lover, Seven herself had a lot of optimism for the future, considering events a fair price to pay for the safety of her loved ones. It took some time, but for each passing day Seven seemed a bit more like her old self, except perhaps a bit softer around the edges in her interactions with the children and others, and a few recurring nightmares. In no time at all it seemed, Seven was impatiently requesting to leave Sickbay and instead stay with B'Elanna in her quarters.
Both Voyager and the Hybrid came through the ordeal in fine shape, indeed the only ones injured since leaving the planet, besides Seven herself, was B'Elanna, Janeway, Tal and Miral, Miral being the worst injured from her battles aboard the Borg ship, while Tal had gotten a mild concussion and B'Elanna and Janeway had an assortment of minor injuries and scrapes.
It wasn't until Janeway gave her report of events to Starfleet command that they would all truly begin to grasp what had happened.
Not only had no Borg activity been registered anywhere that Starfleet knew of during the two weeks that Seven spent mostly unconscious, but a handful of confused messages had come in from Starfleet personnel that had been reported lost during Wolf 359, then a Cube had contacted a deep space vessel. For all intents and purposes it seemed that the Collective had been broken, and most Drones that had not been Borg for too long were remembering who they had been before.
Although Seven, through Janeway, cautioned that they could not be certain that the other Borg Queen had been destroyed, and therefore the Borg with her, the Federation still celebrated it's ultimate victory over the Borg.
In the delirious happiness that followed, official channels worked in surprising directions for the crew of Voyager. Almost before they knew it, the Maquis onboard were not only pardoned for whatever criminal charges they had waiting for them in the Alpha Quadrant, but officially instated in Starfleet with the ranks they held on Voyager. It took Janeway and Chakotay nearly a full week to go through the small but individual ceremonies they performed as they replaced Maquis insignia with the pips of Starfleet on all involved.
All except for B'Elanna Torres.
Seven and the four women involved in her rescue were hailed as heroes by, it seemed, most of the Alpha Quadrant, and as such Starfleet pushed for promotions for them. Janeway would have to wait for hers until Voyager's return to the Alpha Quadrant, but the knowledge alone that such a promotion awaited was it's own reward for Voyager's inimitable Captain. Ensign Tal Celes was promoted to junior Lieutenant as well as first pilot of Voyager, and B'Elanna Torres received the rank of Lieutenant Commander, much to her own shock and disbelief. Seven and Miral, as they were not Starfleet officers, were another matter.
Seven stated when asked that the only reward as well as the only change in rank that she desired, was the one that was scheduled to occur exactly six weeks after the events with the Borg.
It was the day that she and B'Elanna would be married.
To both young women's chagrin, the small and private ceremony they had intended to have was blown completely out of the water. Not only would many of Voyager's crew participate, followed by a huge party, but they were under orders to send a live feed of the ceremony itself to the Alpha Quadrant where countless of individuals would witness their union.
The newly minted Lieutenant Commander Torres was practically shaking in her dress uniform when the day arrived, nearly fainting twice and, it seemed, quite unable to speak in more than monosyllabic words. Miral, dressed in Klingon armour since she would stand with her daughter, laughed and assured the worried Mezoti that things were as they should, and that she would not let B'Elanna forget to say the important words that would bind her to Seven.
As Kathryn would have to perform the ceremony, and the doctor had been roped into handling the holofeed to the Alpha Quadrant, Seven had chosen Icheb to stand with her during the ceremony. Mezoti, with Toby draped around her shoulders as, in all the commotion, they had simply forgotten to let him off the ship before leaving the planet far behind, and Naomi performed the function of flower girls... although it took some convincing Mezoti that littering pieces of dead flora on the ground where her soon-to-be-official parents would walk was not an insult or a stupid and irrelevant protocol.
Amazingly enough, as soon as B'Elanna faced Seven in front of their Captain, all of her nervousness disappeared along with all the spectators. All that was left was Seven, the love of B'Elanna's life, and their pledge to spend the rest of their lives together.
Directly after completing the ceremony Chakotay approached them with the documents that would make Seven and B'Elanna Icheb and Mezoti's parents, as agreed upon beforehand. Then the cheers began, and the holodeck changed from the scene chosen for the ceremony itself, to the one that Neelix had picked for the party.
The newlyweds were presented with a set of unexpected gifts from their family and friends. Janeway and Chakotay presented them with the Torres family quarters, having managed to shift around some things until a suitable family quarters could be arranged for them. Icheb, Harry and some of the crew from Engineering presented the newlyweds with the first Borg bed, ensuring that Seven would no longer need to leave their quarters to spend time regenerating in Cargo Bay 2. Little Mezoti's needs for regeneration were less, and as such she just needed the small portable unit that Seven had been connected to during the time she had spent unconscious in Sickbay, and would probably learn to rely completely on sleep with time. The gift from Miral caused B'Elanna to blush and immediately hide the gift back into the box, refusing to tell anyone what it was.
After quite some attempts att convincing, it was obvious that Seven would not indulge a large part of the female guests in the tradition of throwing the bouquet, so B'Elanna was instead besieged until she caved in. Embarrassed, B'Elanna hurled the bouquet over her shoulder quickly, not wanting to draw it out. It turned out that the one that had been fast enough to react had been none other than Janeway herself, who then found herself with a bouquet in her hands, and a flirtatious Klingon woman in a dashing uniform sidling up to her suggestively. Grinning, Kathryn gave Miral the flowers, then grabbed her lover and twirled her out on the dancefloor to join Seven and B'Elanna in a waltz.
B'Elanna glanced at her mother and Janeway as they danced, and smiled indulgently. She wondered briefly if her mother would dare to propose to Janeway eventually, or if they would wait until Voyager had reached the Alpha Quadrant, which would likely be the time when Janeway might consider herself able to propose to Miral. B'Elanna hoped it would not take that long, both women deserved happiness, and now that she had finally gotten used to the idea she could truly see how perfect the two were for one another.
On the other side of them B'Elanna saw Naomi instruct a slightly stiff Mezoti on how to dance, while Icheb was temporarily rescuing the embarrassed and bewildered Tal from the overly intense affection and attention showered on her lately by the Delaney twins. Those were B'Elanna's kids now... who would have thought?
B'Elanna's attention returned to the woman in her arms. Her beautiful, wonderful Seven. Her wife. The loving and adoring smile that came to her lips unbidden at the sight of her love was mirrored exactly in Seven, the two of them unable not to gaze at one another with absolute devotion.
Life was good in the Delta Quadrant, B'Elanna decided. Indeed, life was very, _very_ good, and her heart was full. A happy little laugh escaped her lips as her beautiful wife pulled her even closer for a kiss, then B'Elanna twirled them both across the floor in jubilant celebration.
And although the Alpha Quadrant might have been far away, B'Elanna and Seven had come home.
Return to Voyager Fiction
Return to Main Page