DISCLAIMER: Star Trek Voyager and all who sail in her belong to Paramount/Viacom and no infringement of copyright/trade marks is intended.
VIOLENCE WARNING: This story deals with captivity, please be advised that punishments are described that deal with technically induced physical pain.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Nine Months
By Kudara

Part 5: Meeting the Others


Chapter 18


Stardate 52562.64 (July 25, 2375 08:45am)

B'Elanna ran her hand up the side of the boot sealing it closed around her ankle and lower calf. Straightening, she absently checked her appearance, black, on black, on black. Black undershirt under a black shirt neatly tucked in at the waist, black pants with a black silver-buckled belt that were bloused into black boots, the only thing left was to run a brush though her hair.

Satisfied with her appearance, she turned and left the bedroom. Entering the main living area, she smiled as she saw Seven wiping her hands dry after washing the last of their breakfast dishes. Seven hadn't noticed her yet, and B'Elanna took a moment to admire the blonde. Her long, golden hair was gathered up in a pony tail at her neck, and hung to just blow her shoulder blades. She was wearing white today, and the cottony material of the long sleeved loose fitting top clung only to her full breasts, elsewhere it hung loosely and swayed with her movements. The white pants were made of the same material as the shirt, and clung to her hips and rear then fell to just above her ankle, on her feet were a pair of white loafer style shoes.

Seven finally noticed her standing there, and quirked one metallic brow at her in a silent question. "Just admiring how beautiful you are," B'Elanna said in a candid tone, as she began walking toward Seven, grinning at the now somewhat embarrassed, but smiling blonde.

Ever since the night she had apologized, things had become more relaxed between them. Seven smiled more frequently, she initiated physical contact such as hugs and kisses more often, and sat close enough to B'Elanna that their thighs touched instead of keeping an inch or so between them. She also talked more freely, and with less pauses to consider what she was about to say.

It had been enough of a change that B'Elanna was dismayed that she hadn't noticed that Seven hadn't been completely relaxed around her before. Of course, Seven had been relaxed compared to how she had acted around B'Elanna aboard Voyager, but now it was clear that Seven hadn't been as relaxed around her as the half-Klingon had thought she had been.

"Thank you, B'Elanna," Seven replied, after a short silence.

B'Elanna could tell the blonde still didn't feel entirely comfortable with the compliment, but when Seven met her gaze, she could see that the blonde did accept it. She didn't know if Seven accepted that she was beautiful yet, but the blonde did seem to accept that B'Elanna thought that she was.

The doors to their quarters opened and B'Elanna turned, immediately wary and alert, the training robot was ten minutes early and she didn't know why, or what it wanted.

"B'Elanna Torres, phases one and two of your training have been completed. You have been assigned to Alpha Squad, Primary Leader Elizabeth Janeway…"

B'Elanna gaped in surprise at the name, wondering immediately if there was some familial connection with Captain Kathryn Janeway.

"You and your hostage will now follow me to Alpha Squad's Community Room where you will meet Alpha Squad and their hostages." The training robot finished.

B'Elanna immediately turned to look at Seven, the blonde appeared frozen, eyes slightly widened, face tense as she stared at the robot. "Seven," the half-Klingon called, and held out her hand. Seven jerked out of wherever she had gone to, and looked over at her. She could see that Seven took a moment to compose herself, then the blonde nodded to her and came over, accepting the reassurance of her outstretched hand.

After their discussions over the past few months, B'Elanna knew that Seven strongly disliked meeting new people. There had been too many times that she had been seen only as a Borg, and treated with hostility and fear, for her to approach such a situation with anything but dismay. Unfortunately, Seven's response was to put up a façade of unemotional detachment and superiority, almost a polar opposite of B'Elanna's anger and aggression reaction. Both reactions, however, were usually equally good at provoking just the response they had expected, thus doing a fine job of justifying their going into it expecting such a response.

Fortunately for them both, B'Elanna had some experience with changing such reactions, having been quite bluntly informed by Chakotay during their first year in the Delta Quadrant, that as the Chief Engineer, she had to stop going into situations with such an attitude, or she would loose her post. Not that well meaning councilors and teachers hadn't pointed out in the past that going into a situation with an aggressive attitude usually provoked an aggressive response, they had, she just hadn't had such a good reason to stop the behavior before.

With the motivation of losing the posting she was so proud of obtaining, the assistance of Lt. Cmdr Tuvok, and her general high regard for Chakotay, she had stepped back, and taken more than the token effort she had taken in the past. Finally, she had acknowledged that how she behaved in situations affected the behavior of others, and that going into a situation expecting hostility often provoked just that response. But even with her determination to change, it had been a slow process to adopt a less aggressive style, and to learn to use Tuvok's meditation techniques to control her anger instead of letting it have free reign.

She had been proud of her success, until Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct to Unimatrix One came aboard and forced them into a confrontation with Species 8742. The day that she had been forced to corporate with the drone in installing the Borg upgrades necessary to survive the confrontation had been distinctly unpleasant. The Borg's chilly, dispassionate stare, as she turned the engineer's engine room into a mishmash of Federation and Borg technology, had infuriated B'Elanna. She had lost her temper more than once, as Seven of Nine invaded and took over her territory with cool aplomb, and treated the engineer and her entire staff as if they were her personal drones to order around.

When they had succeeded in driving Species 8742 back into fluidic space, she had thought it would be the last she would see of the arrogant Borg, until Captain Janeway decided to rescue Seven instead of returning her, and had separated her from the Collective. B'Elanna had honestly intended to given Seven a chance, but she had seen no apparent change in Seven's demeanor, no sign that the woman regretted her past at all, and little to no change in the way the Borg treated others. She had decided that the Captain had been wrong, they might have taken Seven out of the Borg, but they couldn't take the Borg out of Seven. And B'Elanna had stubbornly held by that decision until they had been captured, and she had been forced into controlling her angry responses to keep the former drone from being punished. It was only after a month of close contact with Seven that she finally saw that the woman's Borg mannerisms were just the blonde's way of protecting herself.

After Seven's recovery from the robots attack, and their newfound friendship, they had begun discussing some of the ex-Borg's experiences aboard Voyager. These discussions often touched on Seven's distance from the crew, and her inability to figure out how to bridge that distance and show them that she had changed. Over the course of a few of these talks, it became apparent to B'Elanna that Seven had always felt defensive and wary around Voyagers crew, and that the blonde hid behind her Borg mannerisms when she felt unsure, and B'Elanna suspected, afraid.

Eventually, seeing the parallels in their behavior, B'Elanna had taken the opportunity to tentatively point out that perhaps reacting to others in a very Borg like manner, might possibly increase the chances that others would only see her as Borg. After considering B'Elanna's words, Seven had been quite dismayed that she had fallen into such self-justifying circular reasoning and actions, but had been at a loss, as to how to rectify the situation. Falling back on her Borg past, and silently declaring her emotions irrelevant, was the only way Seven knew to control her emotions when they threatened to overwhelm her. The candid admission had surprised B'Elanna, and not knowing what else to do, she had attempted to explain Tuvok's meditative techniques to Seven, but they had been designed to help her deal with her anger, and Seven's problem was slightly different.

Glancing down at the blonde woman holding her hand tightly, B'Elanna wondered how effective Seven was finding the techniques. Prior to and during the treatments a few weeks before they had been working on them almost nightly, but more recently they had found other, more interesting, things to do in the evenings.

B'Elanna smiled at the thought of those things, then it faded as she took in the tenseness of the woman walking beside her. She certainly understood why Seven would be tense, not only were they about to meet people that might see her as Borg, but they were about to meet those that had captured them in the first place. She wasn't too certain what she felt about the upcoming meeting either. Even though she knew the other prisoners had only captured them to protect their own hostages, she still couldn't quite dismiss the anger she felt toward them for obeying the order, and thus being partially responsible for the things that had happened to she and Seven since then.

"Seven," she said softly to get the blonde's attention. When the tense, emotionless face of her lover turned toward her, "I thought you were going to give people a chance to see you?" she asked gently. The expressionless mask shattered completely at these words. B'Elanna cursed herself for being so thoughtless. She should have realized that Seven veneer of control would be brittle and thin, given the stresses of the past few months. Seven's anxiety was clearly visible now, and she stood unmoving, striving to regain control over her emotions.

Seeing that the robot was drawing away from them, B'Elanna bent and picked up Seven in her arms, startling a surprised exclamation from the blonde, as she wrapped her arms around the taller woman's neck. "Can't stop moving." she explained, noting that she had at least startled Seven out of the anxious expression she had worn. "They can't treat you too badly you know." she reminded Seven. "And I'll be with you, no matter how this goes." she hugged the blonde more tightly to her. Their eyes met, blue ones searched hers questioningly. Resolutely she met them, trying to let the other woman know that she meant what she said, she would be with, and for her.

Seven took in a steadying breath and nodded. "I wish to walk now," she informed B'Elanna.

Silently the half-Klingon paused for a moment and slowly released the blonde, letting her slide down her own body until she was standing on the floor once again. Swiftly Seven lifted her face, and going up on her toes, she pressed her lips against B'Elanna's, and whispered, "Thank you," then turned and walked after the robot.

B'Elanna quickened her stride for a few steps to catch up with her, and reclaimed her hand. Seven glanced over at her, and a small smile graced her lips in response. They were rapidly approaching the end of the hallway, as the robot approached the doors; they opened revealing a large room beyond them.

B'Elanna gasped shocked, a sound mirrored by the blonde beside her, she had been expecting to see several other women, but not all the children. Tall women dressed in black uniform's like hers' stood beside women of all different heights, dressed in variations of the same outfit Seven wore. All of the couples had a child, or in some cases children, B'Elanna noticed looking at the couple that stood in front of all the others.

The half-Klingon guessed that the woman in the black uniform stood six foot and three inches tall, the same height as herself. She had russet hair and piercing grey eyes, and was beautiful in the manner of those classically elegant. Suddenly B'Elanna was certain that she was looking at Elizabeth Janeway, and if the woman wasn't related to Captain Kathryn Janeway, B'Elanna would eat gagh, which she detested, willingly. Her hostage was a much shorter brunette, caramel skinned woman, and B'Elanna felt a moment of kinship, as she realized that the woman was of Hispanic heritage like herself. The smiling generous mouth, and crinkles at the corner of dark, bright, merry eyes betrayed a warm disposition at odds with the more intense, poised, grey-eyed presence at her side.

The two women stood beside one another, the taller with a hand resting on the shoulder of a brown haired girl perhaps six or so that meet the half-Klingon's look unabashedly. Beside her was a smaller russet haired girl, obviously much shyer, who held onto the shorter woman and peeked uncertainly at the two newcomers. Behind the lead couple stood the rest of Alpha Squad, and taking a quick head count B'Elanna could see that there were well over one hundred couples, and their children present in the room.

The robot had continued moving forward until it stopped a few meters in front of the lead couple. "Elizabeth Janeway, Alpha Squad Leader. Electronics and Communications Specialist, B'Elanna Torres, has completed training, and has been assigned to Alpha Squad. Alpha Squad orientation for the new member will begin in two hours."


Stardate 52562.68 (July 25, 2375 09:05am)

B'Elanna and Seven had belatedly followed the robot, and now stood just inside the room listening to it. As soon as it had finished it turned and headed back toward them, and as they rapidly moved out of its way, it moved pass them without any further communication, and left via the same door they had entered, leaving them with the others.

Seven's grip on her hand tightened as almost all eyes in the room focused on them. "I'm here," B'Elanna reminded her in a low whisper as she moved closer to the blonde woman.

The silence stretched on for a moment longer before it was broken by the piping voice of the brown haired child standing in front of Elizabeth Janeway, "Mama, she has pretty stuff on her face."

B'Elanna couldn't help but smile at the comment, even as she uneasily wondered how the two women would react to it. Scanning the faces of the crowd of women, she was surprised to note that she could see no hostility apparent in anyone, only curiosity and a few friendly smiles.

"Yes, she does," the tall brunette agreed, while watching them intently.

No one had, as yet moved, though B'Elanna could see increasing numbers of the women looking back and forth between Elizabeth Janeway, the woman beside her and their children, and Seven and she. It was the shorter Hispanic woman that broke the silence first, picking up the young girl clinging to her, she stepped forward with a friendly smile. "I'm Maria Rodriguez, the tall, silent one is Elizabeth Janeway," the woman at her side smirked, rolled her eyes and followed her, ushering along the older girl. "And this is Ruth, and my oldest one is Mary." She continued the introductions.

"Hello," Elizabeth greeted them.

B'Elanna examined the tall brunette intently as she returned the greeting, her grey, calm eyes meeting the half-Klingons unswervingly. They held both sorrow and resolve, and as the half-Klingon dropped her eyes to the child standing in front of her she felt the last of her anger at the woman drained away. Somehow she didn't doubt that their captor or captors were more than willing to use the two children as hostages in addition to Maria, and that changed everything.

"B'Elanna Torres, and Seven of Nine," she introduced, and as if this had been some type of signal the rest of the women began to come forward. Directly behind Elizabeth and Maria, were two blue eyed blonde women, with matching blue eyed blond girls, who looked to be the same age as Elizabeth's children. They introduced themselves as Christina Myers, Secondary Leader of Alpha Squad, and Nancy Miller, the children were Carol and Rebecca.

As the remainder of the women closed in around them and began introducing themselves, their voices a mixture of tones and strange accents. Seven stepped closer to B'Elanna and gripped her hand tightly. Glancing over she could see that Seven was rapidly becoming increasingly nervous and afraid as the crowd around them grew.

Before B'Elanna could say anything Maria spoke up, "Ok, everyone back up some. There will be plenty of time to introduce everyone later. Let's give them some room."

As the half-Klingon turned and wrapped Seven in her arms she could see the women pause at Maria's words, and look at them intently. She over heard whispered and murmured comments, "She's scared," "We're overwhelming her," and even one, "I don't blame her, I'd be ready to run if this many people came up to me all at once too." Slowly, with disappointed, but understanding, looks they dispersed, leaving only two couples, Elizabeth and Maria, and Christina and Nancy, and their children.

"Is that jewelry on your face?" asked Mary, boldly curious after a moment.

"Mary," Maria said chidingly. B'Elanna noticed Elizabeth's mouth twitch in a smile before she hid it at the child's blunt question.

B'Elanna loosened her arms as Seven turned in them to face the child, she stiffened defensively, "No, they are Borg implants." the response was flat and unemotional.

The four adults eyed her intently, slight puzzled frowns apparent on Christina and Nancy's faces. The child, Mary, had a very obvious frown on her face at the tone of the reply.

B'Elanna stiffened uncertainly, wondering what would happen next, and wishing that this topic hadn't been brought up so quickly. Seven feeling her response, glanced back and up into her face, her blue eyes held a certain amount of wariness, and the half-Klingon realized that the blonde expected her to disapprove of the way she had responded. Ever so slightly she tightened her arms around Seven, and tried to convey her acceptance of how the ex-Borg was feeling, and her understanding of why the blonde had reacted the way she had.

She wasn't aware of how successful she was being, of the way it showed in her face, or the thoughtful looks being directed toward them from the two couples, as they stood staring into each other's eyes. Finally Seven drew in a deep breath, and B'Elanna could see the renewed calmness in her eyes, before she turned to face the other two couples once again.

"We don't know who, or what, the Borg are," explained Elizabeth Janeway as soon as they looked toward her again. "But, I'd guess from your response that your pretty use to getting hostile reactions when people find out about your implants." Her voice was quiet and even as she spoke, and her countenance was kind, and maybe even sympathetic as she spoke to Seven.

"You are correct, the Borg are feared and hated by most." Seven replied warily.

The taller blond woman spoke up, "So how did you get the implants?"

Before B'Elanna could interrupt Seven replied, "I was assimilated as a child along with my parents, and was Borg until severed from the Collective 18 months, 13 days, 6 hours and 23 minutes ago by Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager."

Seven's reply received almost matching curious and puzzled responses. Elizabeth tilted her slightly sideways at the answer, a slight frown upon her face, "Maybe we ought to go sit down before we discuss anything more." She motioned toward one side of the room where there were several large tables.

"Hmm, yes I think so," agreed Maria, "And maybe Janice and Lee should come and listen as well." she said watching Seven and B'Elanna perceptively.

"Good idea," agreed Nancy, almost absently as she watched the new couple.

B'Elanna frowned wondering why they wanted to invite the two women mentioned, and why Elizabeth and Christina glanced at one another with almost matching raised eyebrows and knowing looks, after hearing the names.

After sending the children off to play, they were introduced to Janice Young and Elizabeth Scott, more commonly called Lee Scott to cut down on the confusion. Lee Scott was an older woman, B'Elanna guessed she was around fifty. Janice Young was around B'Elanna's age, mid twenties or so, and exotic looking, with almond shaped dark eyes, midnight black hair and light brown skin. She presented a serious, no nonsense demeanor, yet her eyes showed great kindness.

Lee Scott intimidated B'Elanna, the woman practically radiated and odd combination of power, self-assurance, serenity, and kindness. The woman was very petite, standing less than five feet tall and weighing perhaps ninety pounds. She reminded B'Elanna somewhat of Kathryn Janeway, both women exuded power far in excess of their physical size. Short layered brown hair sprinkled with grey framed a strong face that was perhaps more handsome than beautiful, and keen grey eyes studied them intently as they were introduced to her. Staring at the woman curiously, B'Elanna had the distinct impression that she had seen this woman before somewhere, but the where eluded her.

A few minutes were spent on catching up the two new women before Elizabeth turned to them and asked, "So what is assimilation, and who is Kathryn Janeway?"

"Before we get into that there are some questions I'd like to ask," B'Elanna interrupted.

"Of course," Elizabeth nodded, "Just keep in mind that all the restricted topics of conversation are still restricted."

B'Elanna nodded, "I didn't expect otherwise," she said resignedly, no where was free of the robots surveillance. "They have said though that I would find out find out where we are, and why we are here, can you tell me that information?"

"About twenty light years from where we found you," answered Elizabeth. "As for why, I don't know exactly, every month or so we go and compete against other units."

"Other units like this," B'Elanna indicated the other women in the room.

"No, we've competed against no other unit of humans, their always aliens, sometimes all one type, sometimes mixed." Elizabeth replied.

B'Elanna absorbed this information then asked the one question that was still burning in her mind, "Who are you?"

"Col. Elizabeth Janeway, United States Marine Corps." she answered.

"That organization has not been in existence for 262 years," stated Seven.

"What happened 262 years ago?" asked Christine curiously.

"The United States of America ended as an independent nation when it became a part of the United Earth government." the blonde responded, frowning slightly.

"We don't have any knowledge of what has happened there since 2025, all of us were taken between 2000 and 2025." Lee spoke for the first time.

"But, how long have you been here?" asked B'Elanna confused.

"Eight years," replied Lee.

"Seven," said Elizabeth, Maria, Christian and Nancy.

"Four," finished Janice.

"Stasis or cryogenic suspension," theorized Seven. B'Elanna nodded; it was really the only thing that made any sense at all.

"Do you know why it was 350 years before you were awakened?" the half-Klingon asked.

"No, none," Elizabeth shook her head. "Now that we've answered some of your questions, how about my two? What's assimilation and who is Kathryn Janeway?"

Seven, with a few comments thrown in for clarification by B'Elanna explained the Borg structure, their determination to assimilate technologies and cultures to achieve perfection, and then moved on to how nanoprobes were injected into the body, formed an initial set of implants, altered the pathways of the brain and joined the new drone to the Collective. Seven then explained the different types of drones, the fitting of the secondary implants and replacement of organic parts with cybernetic ones suited to the drone's function and the fitting of the body armor.

The women, despite the occasional look of dismay and disgust at some of the descriptions of what happened during the transformation into a Borg drone, seemed to be wholly sympathetic to Seven and what she had undergone. Finally they took turns relating how Seven had been severed from the Collective, and gave the women the short version tale of how a Federation Starship managed to be out in the Delta Quadrant and something about the woman who was it's Captain.

"So if drones only obey the will of the Collective, how do the Borg decide what to do next?" asked Elizabeth curiously, when they finished.

"The Borg Queen brings order to the Collective, and provides direction to the Borg," Seven answered.

"So you have one person at the top that gets to order everyone else around, and they aren't allowed to even think rebellious thoughts?" asked Christiana. "Sounds like every crackpot dictator's wet dream." she noted sarcastically.

Seven reacted defensively, "The Borg Queen is not a dictator."

Before anyone could respond Lee held up her hand commandingly, everyone looked at her silently. "Do you still think that the Collective can obtain perfection by assimilating cultures and technologies?" she asked in a non-judgmental tone. B'Elanna noticed immediately that her accent was clearly different from everyone else's around the table.

B'Elanna frowned at the question, not liking it at all, Seven didn't like talking about the Borg, not even with her. Those times she had asked Seven had looked so uncertain and miserable, that she had dropped the topic, not wanting the blonde to feel as if she had to answer. Their discussions had centered around Seven's adjustment to Voyager and individuality.

Seven stared at Lee in surprise, she opened her mouth as if to reply then fell silent, and a distressed frown formed as she considered the question.

The half-Klingon frowned as well, wondering why Seven just didn't come out and say that the Collective was wrong. She was certain that ex-drone didn't want to go back to the Borg, and she knew that Seven enjoyed her individuality. But that wasn't what was important at the moment, "Seven you don't have to answer." She glared at the other woman, knowing that if said anymore she was likely to sound angry and get Seven punished. She was aware that the other women were staring at her but she didn't care, she had promised Seven she would be here for her, and she would be.

"I can understand why you would want to hold onto the idea that the Collective was moving towards perfection." Lee said gently, completely ignoring the glaring half-Klingon, "You spent several years of your life obeying their directives, and if the Collective is wrong, then everything you did while with them was futile."

B'Elanna felt Seven tense up at these words and she glanced over at her. Seven's face was very pale and her eyes were fixed rigidly upon the older woman.

Lee continued, "If you hold onto the idea that the Borg are right, then the life you lost, your parents, everyone the Collective has assimilated, all the cultures wiped out have some meaning to them, they contributed to something greater than themselves. But if the Collective is incorrect in their assumption...then it all means nothing." Lee looked sorrowfully at Seven. "If I were in your place I would have great difficulty admitting that as well, anyone would if they were truthful with themselves."

Soft murmurs of conversation went about around them, but at the table where they sat it was pensively quiet after the diminutive woman's words. Maria was the first one to sigh and then quietly nod, apparently agreeing with Lee's words, Nancy followed then Elizabeth and Janice. Finally Christina grimaced, scowled, and looked away, but despite that her face was thoughtful.

"I do not know," Seven finally admitted to Lee.

B'Elanna looked back and forth from Lee to Seven, in dismay. They, meaning Voyager's crew, had been insisting that Seven admit that the Borg were wrong ever since they had severed her from the Collective. Certainly she had held Seven's continuing defense of the Borg's purpose against her, and she knew quite a few others did as well. But she had never considered what they were asking, from this point of view. Looking at Seven's tight, strained face she realized that perhaps they should have, it certainly explained why the blonde had continued to defend the Borg. It changed the meaning of the question from a simple we're right, you're wrong, which was how she had seen it, into something much more thorny and difficult.

Lee considered Seven for a long moment, "Understandable." she finally assured her.

B'Elanna glanced over at Lee, the older woman had a thoughtful look on her face as she watched Seven intently. The entry of the training robot interrupted any further conversation, and as she left with the other black uniformed women, B'Elanna glanced back to see that Lee and Maria had moved to sit on either side of Seven. She felt a moment of alarm that they might continue to press the blonde, but relaxed when she saw they appeared to be concentrating on something that Mary was showing Seven.

The doors closing cut off her view and she looked forward, wondering what was going to happen next, and would she finally know why she and Seven had been taken captive, why she had been taught the skills she had, and what did their captors get from holding them captive.

Part 6

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