DISCLAIMER: The full disclaimer and author's notes can be read HERE.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By H.W.


Chapter 26

The reign of One of Many, née Annika Hansen; Queen of Borg.

Year 00, Month 03, Day 18, Hour 14, Minute 52.

"It's possible, that's not the point," Anidan said confidently. "The point is; why would you?"

"Because we want to change things to a more centralized system," B'Elanna explained. "While simply assigning the first best suited drone to do a job works, it'll work a lot better if first an expert looks at the problem. And then not only fixes it, but also fixes it better than the average drone would, because they have this specialized ability and personal feel for dealing with this or that kind of problem."

"One of the reasons why my inventions worked so good is because I didn't dismiss redundancy, but embraced it. I didn't consider an invention ready unless it had at least two backup systems that would kick in automatically if the main one failed."

"So you think it is better to keep the old system of having every station regulated separately?" Seven asked.

Anidan thought about that for a moment. "Well, keeping the old system is better than replacing it with this new system, but I'm not saying that the old system is good. The Borg don't have redundancy; they have multiplicity. There's a big difference there. They simply have a command station at every warp core and have a team of drones standing by that then does the same thing to every core at the same time. Something they can get away with because thanks to the Borg link, they can perform maneuvers like that at the same time, down to the nano-second. Even though they are a huge distance apart."

Anidan turned to her blueprint design table. It was basically a console with a one meter broad screen that registered the use of special styluses so that Anidan could use it to draw to create blueprints, or write notes at the margins. For someone who was a creator of modern technology, it was a surprisingly old-fashioned design. But the designer said that it worked best for her.

Seven and B'Elanna looked at each other for a moment before looking at Pagsha, who shrugged before whispering softly, "I told you she can come across a bit rude."

"I'm wondering if we should consider ourselves excused," Seven said just as softly.

"It's really not polite to whisper behind someone's back," Anidan spoke up.

B'Elanna looked at the back for a moment before saying in disbelief, "And just what's the reason we're talking behind your back? Could it be that, oh, I don't know, maybe you were the one that turned your back to us?"

"I'm helping you with your problem, for that I need to use my drawing table. Did I say goodbye or something? I don't recall doing that, so I guess that means that we're not yet done, just that 'I' need some time to think 'your' problem through for you."

B'Elanna opened her mouth to reply but then shook her head. "I have a feeling that someone is trying to set borders without first being nice enough to tell us about it. Not nice, Anidan, not nice. If you want an informal working relationship with Seven and me, then be assured that we're all for it. But don't try to push us on the defensive. It might be what you needed to do on your planet where people didn't believe that such a young person like you knew what she is doing. But here you don't need that. We know what your abilities are; otherwise we wouldn't have asked for your help with changing the Borg to begin with."

Anidan turned slightly and pointed at Pagsha. "Actually, she's the one that asked for my help. You merely pulled me back into being an Individual and assigned me a task."

Despite the words, B'Elanna could see a hint of a smile. But before the Klingon could counter, Seven spoke up. "That is actually a very good point. She is right. We never did ask people if they wanted to help us; we merely assigned them the work because we knew that they would not mind doing it. We even did that with Pagsha."

"I don't mind," Pagsha was quick to assured.

"We know that you do not mind," Seven agreed. "Like I said, we already knew that before you became an Individualist drone. But the fact remains that we did not ask you if you would like to do it. The closest we came was when I asked you if being our assistant would be a problem for you because of the fact that you have many different tasks to fulfill. We should also ask people if they actually want to do the work we would like them to do."

"Then from now on we will," B'Elanna agreed. "But to come back to the troublesome boundary setting Engineer here. If you want to set a boundary, how about I set one too? If you turn your back to us, then I'll see that from now on as an invitation to come and look over your shoulder at what you're doing."

Anidan shrugged. "As long as you don't ask me stupid questions like 'why are you putting that there.'"

"Don't worry, I'll save those stupid questions until you've finished the first draft and present it to us. Now, what about that idea of centralizing many of the functions of Unimatrix 01?"

Anidan once more turned to the table, and this time B'Elanna mouthed to Seven and Pagsha, 'I like her.' Before all three of them joined the other woman at the worktable and looked at the simple schematic that was drawn there.

"Well, I think it would be best if you combine the two options like this. You take the..."

The reign of One of Many, née Annika Hansen; Queen of Borg.

Year 00, Month 03, Day 20, Hour 15, Minute 16.

"And when you're ready, you just activate the device by pushing this button."

"Activate," B'Elanna repeated as she looked at the shaft in her hand, then at the small remote control, and then at Doctor Lonika. "Um, this is not really what I expected," B'Elanna admitted.

"I can also do the procedure in the more normal way," Lonika offered. "I just thought that you'd appreciate this more. This is the device two women that wanted a baby normally used on my Homeworld. But the Borg never bothered to keep the information because they had other ways of impregnating a woman if it might be needed."

He hesitated before admitting, "It's not perfect. There's an eleven percent chance that the procedure with this device will fail. But nothing is really lost. It just means that you have to use it a second time on another day, after I reloaded the device once more with your DNA. There will then once again be an eleven percent chance that the procedure will fail. The most tries that were ever recorded was four times before the woman became pregnant. So the Borg are right to dismiss this procedure on the fact alone that there are better options. I personally think that Individualist drones will prefer this procedure though."

"How does it work?" Seven asked as she took the shaft and looked at it.

Lonika lifted an eyebrow before asking amused, "What, the shape doesn't give you a hint?" Then he explained. "The reason why I like for people to use this system is because this shaft is to be used as a sex toy, you are familiar with the kind of toys I am talking about?"

"We have some of them," Seven stated honestly, since Lonika was also the doctor that was responsible for her health and therefore was a person that she had no secrets for.

"Even better, then you're used to having something like this be part of your love life. The use is simple. You start making love, when you are good and ready in your love play you start using the device as a toy."

He looked at B'Elanna. "There is the option of using a harness to wear the device like a normal sex strap-on toy if you prefer, though there is no sensor technology yet to make you feel the use. Now comes the very important part, something you both have to keep in mind. The best moment for impregnation is right after an orgasm. So you make love until my Queen reaches her peak. Then you push the button on the remote that activates the device; I would suggest keeping the remote somewhere in reach since you have to use it with the device being as deep as possible inside my Queen. Once you've pushed the button you will notice that this little light starts burning. Now, this is very important. Do not pull out. You have to stay inside until this light goes out again. Normally this is about one minute, but there have been times where it takes up to three minutes. You'll feel nothing of what the device does, but believe me; the device will be doing its job. So do stay inside until the light goes out. Once the light is out you can remove the device and... well... basically do what you want to. Stop, continue... you can use the device as a toy then if you want, just do not activate it a second time."

"It is a rather... interesting way of doing this," Seven said thoughtfully.

Doctor Lonika nodded. "As said, there are other ways. Cold, clinical, one hundred percent sure to work. But I prefer that my patients use this device for the psychological feeling of it. Activating the device is just a small thing; something that doesn't really interrupt the lovemaking. But the important part is that after the use, you will remember the moment of the conception of your daughter as a time where you made love and where my Princess impregnated you. You will not remember the part of technology being used to create your child; you will merely remember that you made love and that your child was the result of that wonderful encounter, in which my Princess did truly pass on her genes to your child."

"I like it," B'Elanna noted happily while looking at Seven. "Lonika is right, psychologically it will mean a lot to me that I truly am the one that got your pregnant while we made love."

"Indeed," Seven had to agree. Then she asked Lonika. "Do we take this home and use it when we want to?"

"Eh, no. That's the downside to the fact of it still being experimental technology. I mean, it does work, I know that for sure. But we were never able to figure out how to lengthen the shelf life, so to speak, since we're talking about the DNA of one of the partners being inside the device. The device has to be used within one hour after I prepared it for you. And you'll have to use it in a location where sensors can keep track of what is going on. It's a medical procedure after all. So I'm afraid that you'll have to use the device here in sickbay. I was thinking more of one of the two recovery rooms in the back. That'll give you the privacy you need."

Lonika was surprised to see both Seven and B'Elanna smile.

Finally Seven spoke up. "That is actually alright. It is fitting that our daughter should be the result of B'Elanna and me indulging in one of our sexual preferences."

Lonika smiled in understanding. "Let me guess; you like having sex in interesting places." When the two women looked at him he added, "You'd be surprised to find out just how common that is. Just that most people don't act on it out of fear of being discovered."

"That is the price we will then have to pay for having the thrill of possibly being discovered," Seven countered.

Lonika chuckled. "Well, considering that you are the Queen of Borg I don't think that anyone will come arresting you for indecent behavior if someone ever does catch you."

B'Elanna laughed. "Yes, that's something I'd like to see. Kahless, can you imagine some guest finding us and then demanding to see the Captain to object because they found these two women having sex, and whatever will the Queen say to that?"

"That, would be interesting," Lonika agreed. "You'll be able to add sickbay to the list, though I can assure you that you'll not be interrupted here. So, are you going to use this device, or would you prefer the more technical and cold option?"

"We definitely are going to use this device," Seven assured.

"And for when do you want to set up the procedure?"

B'Elanna looked at Seven who merely raised an eyebrow before asking, "Is now too soon?"

The reign of One of Many, née Annika Hansen; Queen of Borg.

Year 00, Month 04, Day 17, Hour 11, Minute 08.

{The risk level is too high,} The Borg replied, driving B'Elanna into frustration.

"I do not see how," Seven took over. "The drones can freely access the Main Data Storage Facility when linked to the Collective. So why should they not be able to do so as Individualist drones?"

{Drones that are linked by definition only access the information they need at that point.}

{Drones that are linked will not access other information.}

"Other information?" Seven repeated. "What could they possibly find that they should not know?"

{There is sensitive data stored in the Main Data Storage Facility.}

{There data can be found like at which frequency our warp cores enter the sonic wave cancelation backlash.}

{Data from the Main Data Storage Facility can be used to destroy ships, including Unimatrix 01.}

{Linked drones do not look for such info.}

{Even if they did, we, the Hive, would know that this information has been downloaded to that drone.}

B'Elanna lifted her arms and then let them drop in a frustrated gesture. "So, we," She started, only to be interrupted.

{An Individualist drone would have the time to research such data and put it to use before they have to regenerate again.}

"Listen," B'Elanna said frustrated. "We need that info."

"B'Elanna is correct," Seven added. "One of the benefits of the Individualist drone system is that people can think freely and work on problems. In order to do so effectively they need direct access to information when they need that information."


{If Individualist drones want information from the Main Data Storage Facility then they can regenerate and access the facility in that way.}

"If they first regenerate then getting the information will become irrelevant to them," B'Elanna growled frustrated.

{We will not tolerate uncontrolled access,} The Borg stated resolutely.

"And we will not accept not getting that access for Individualist drones," Seven stated just as resolutely.

{One of Many is being unreasonable.}

{This new approach of acting as one unit without being united is not working.}

{A new approach is always linked with problems.}

{We first have to see if it truly is an unworkable situation.}

{The results were acceptable until now.}

{We should stop this experiment and unite as one unit again.}

"Ho, wait up there for a moment," Pagsha spoke up, not at all liking where the Borg's reasoning was going. "Where there are individuals there are always rough spots. It is normal, and wanted. Rough spots, if dealt with correctly, help. If everyone merely agrees you still only have one opinion. You need disagreements that then are talked about so that the best idea comes out on top, or even several ideas are combined into one good one. Just because the Royal family and the Hive disagree doesn't mean that the experiment of individuality isn't working. In fact, I even dare say that it proves that it's working."

{Disagreements can be harmful in a case of emergency.}

{A united voice is better suited to deal with threats.}

"And you have that, but this isn't an emergency," Pagsha countered. "If you don't reach an agreement today, it may be tomorrow, or next week. In this situation waiting some time is not that bad. But in case of an emergency you do have that one united choice. That's what the chain of command that was introduced takes care of. Every single Individualist drone knows exactly who's in charge as soon as an alarm goes."

Seven placed a hand on Pagsha's shoulder and squeezed it softly, conveying her thanks in that way. Then she addressed the Hive. "I dare even say that in case of an emergency the chain of command works faster than the Hive in making a decision."


"When there is an emergency the person in command makes a choice and gives an order. Depending on where it is, it can be a Captain, or me, or some President. Within a matter of seconds a person in command can evaluate a threat and react to it. The Hive however first discusses things like you just did. That is not a bad thing; it is something we like to see the Hive do. But in case of an emergency it can be minutes before you reach a decision."

{A single person in command can make wrong choices,} the Hive noted, but still, the undertone of stubbornness was gone.

"Which can be corrected," Seven countered. "The Hive does not cease to exist just because one person made a choice. You can discuss decisions after they are made and counteract them if needed. Also, keep in mind that you will not be placing inexperienced people in these positions. If you do not trust these people to make the right decisions in a case of emergency, then they will not last long in that position even without an emergency that shows their shortcomings."

"Trust, that's what this comes down to," B'Elanna added. "Trust on so many levels. We must trust you to not turn us into mindless drones... and believe me, I didn't at all like that threat about ending the experiment with individuality; I know only too damn well what that would mean for us. You must trust us in the fact that we truly want the best for the Collective."

B'Elanna hesitated before saying softly, "We aren't perfect; we'll make mistakes. We have to trust the Hive to be there for us and point out that we're making a mistake. We have to trust the hive to forgive mistakes we made if the damage is not too severe. But the Hive has to trust us when we say that sometimes you have to take risks. Sometimes you have to make mistakes just so that you know what the results of actions will be and that this mistake will never be made again. And sometimes we have to trust that the Hive is right that sometimes something is not the right thing or the right time to experiment with making mistakes. And we all will have to trust Individualist drones that we give command positions to. And also, we'll have to trust the people that need to access the Main Data Storage Facility."

"But from the other side," Pagsha said hesitantly, "the Borg do have a point. There's very sensitive information stored there. People could use that information to do damage before they have to regenerate again. Or if not damage as such, then maybe to gain power in the Individualist system. Maybe the answer lies in one of those compromises. A drone doesn't go into full regeneration mode to access that information, but they do connect and as they access the information their mind is scanned to see what they want it for. And if it turns out that they want it for something that we cannot allow then, the drone is prevented from entering the Individualist stage again until we can deal with them. I mean, with the right filters in place that mind scan is finished before the drone has finished looking for the information it needs."

"Filters?" B'Elanna asked. "You mean like the kind that decides what is relevant information, or do you also have some other kind of filters... and just what exactly is considered a filter?"

{The proposal of First Officer Pagsha Yahif is acceptable.}

{However we will need to negotiate about proper filters.}

{We consider a filter to be...}

The reign of One of Many, née Annika Hansen; Queen of Borg.

Year 00, Month 05, Day 23, Hour 12, Minute 36.

"How are you doing?" B'Elanna asked.

"I'm fine," Pagsha dutifully replied.

She really didn't mind the questions. After all, she had been told upfront that she was expected to give a status report every twelve hours for the next two weeks. She was very glad though that Seven and B'Elanna had decided to do the 'status report' as a friendly questioning as friends, because some of the things she needed to talk about were quite private. She didn't mind telling them to B'Elanna and Seven, especially not since they were so open to her. But she would have dreaded to actually tell the doctor some of the things she told her friends, especially what she was going to tell them in a few minutes.

Pagsha herself had volunteered to be the test-bed for 'Borg drone new design' as soon as she had seen the new body armor. She really liked her 'new me,' and didn't mind at all going on and on to her friends about the new body armor she wore, or what one of the new implants enabled her to do.

She loved the new body armor. It was put on like simple clothing; pants and a pullover, and then the two parts were connected around the middle to created one whole unit that did indeed look like a simple uniform, as the stipulations had dictated. After having tried a couple of times, Pagsha was now able to put her body armor on in thirty-two seconds, and she was certain that she could get that number down even further with a little training. She had set herself the goal of being able to put on the armor in fifteen seconds in case of an emergency.

Another great thing about the body armor was that it was so comfortable that even off duty she wore the black body armor most of the time. Yet despite all that, the body armor was indeed better than the old Borg body armor. In these modern times most focus on armor was to prevent damage from energy weapons. But the man that had created the armor had figured that, since it was personal body armor; the last line of protection between attack and the body, the risk of being stabbed by a bladed weapon or even some makeshift stabbing weapon was too big to neglect. So a microscopic thin lair of meshed fibers had been added that had the strength to stop pretty much any stabbing weapon and even non self-propelling projectiles fired from firearms. Besides that, the body armor could also withstand several direct phaser's and disrupter hits. All in all more than enough time for a drone to activate the secondary armor; the force-field body armor.

That too had changed. Where Seven's force-field body armor had been incorporated into her abdominal implant, the new armor was a vest of sorts that could be worn under the body armor uniform. Pagsha had only worn that a couple of times to feel how it fitted and how she could move with the armor activated, since it was considered added protection; if a drone were to go into an unsafe environment.

For Pagsha, the line of whether or not to wear it had been simple; whenever, if ever, she was going to leave Unimatrix 01, she would wear the force-field armor as well. Not have at active, but wear it never the less so that it could be activated before someone could fire a second shot. She just didn't like to wear it all the time because wearing it made the uniform body armor just that little bit more uncomfortable. Not enough to not wear the force-field armor in an insecure situation, but enough to not wear it in a secure situation, like Unimatrix 01; like home. So for now she had only worn it the few times needed to test it.

The force-field vest had been a creation of Anidan Dubinak. B'Elanna had not been exaggerating; the woman was a true miracle worker. It had cost Pagsha quite some work to convince Anidan to be a willing Individualist drone, but she had managed to do so. And in the process she had found another friend. Not as close a friend as Seven and B'Elanna, but a good friend never the less.

The grouchy Engineer was someone that could be short to the point of rude, but once you realized that this was the result of spending years to get people to do things the 'kid engineer' had thought up, you could see past it and see the real person. A warm and caring person with a nice sense of humor. Pagsha had been especially glad when Anidan had told her the day before, that the Queen and the Princess weren't that bad after all. Which had been Anidan talk for admitting that she liked them.

Anidan had also worked on the implants Pagsha now had. They were the improved implants that Seven had gotten, and now Anidan had even been able to improve the improvements. Like the force-field body armor. Instead of having the armor implanted in the drone, Anidan had come up with a universal connection system. At the back of the neck of a drone there was now an implant that was directly linked to the drone's cranial implant. The advantage of that implant was that now new 'implants' could be designed to be attached to the drone's body with a vest or straps, depending on where on the body the 'implant' was needed, with a connection made to the implant in the neck. If then the drone needed to do a different job that it wasn't equipped for, the whole 'rebuilding' of the drone was nothing more than having them put on a different harness.

Pagsha was also the first drone to use another of Anidan's creations. Seven and B'Elanna had decided that it would be a hard sell to say that the Borg had changed, while every single drone still had assimilation tubes that could turn entire worlds into drones, but on the other hand they had to agree that the tools in the tubes could be very convenient for drones. So Anidan had taken a good look at them, and changed them. They were now called access tubes. They could still be used to access computers or other components. They still had the drills that could drill through metals as strong as Duranium, but they no longer had the ability to actually assimilate someone. They no longer had the tubes that could bring nanoprobes from a drone to the victim.

Because of the improvements Anidan had made, and the medical touch Doctor Lonika had added, Pagsha looked nothing like the normal drone. Gone was the abdominal implant, in fact, gone were most of the implants... at least for the eye. Pagsha still had an artificial hand, but thanks to the wonderful combination of Engineer Anidan and Doctor Lonika, the hand looked just like her other hand. No metal to be seen on the outside, with the small exception of the two small disks that were the covers of the access tubes. But seeing that they were just big enough to allow the access tubes to come out, the two small disks didn't take away from the 'real' look of the hand. In fact, all other implants that normally could be seen on a drone's body had gotten a similar treatment.

The only thing of which one could still see that it wasn't real was the eye. To change the eye to look exactly like a normal eye, the quality of the eyepiece would have suffered too much, and that while Anidan had just changed the design. Not that vision was better, but she had been able to give the eyepiece the full color range instead of only the green the Borg had used. The result of the work between Anidan and Lonika had been an eyepiece that had normal eye proportions, at least on the outside of the head. The only difference was that if you looked a little closer you didn't see a pupil, but you could see the lens of the camera that the eyepiece actually was.

Pagsha had decided that she actually liked it. She liked the fact that she was part of the Borg, and the eye was a small but clear reminder. If you looked at Pagsha now, you wouldn't expect that she was a Borg drone, but if you looked more closely, looked her in the eyes, there was this undisputable evidence that, yes, Pagsha was Borg. When talking to Seven about how glad she was that her abdominal implant was removed, Pagsha had been floored to hear that Seven had no intention to have anything changed about the implants she had. She was fully intending to keep her abdominal implant, as well as the hand she had now, and all the other implants. Pagsha's question 'why' had been answered by B'Elanna. Seven was Seven, and those implants were part of her. As simple as that.

Pagsha could see the point, and she assumed that she might have thought the same way if she had been part of the Borg so long. But Pagsha had only been part of the Borg for two years, and she admitted that she like having her body back to looking like it did before she was assimilated... with the exception of one thing that looked slightly different now.

The night before she had spent almost an hour just to look at herself, naked, in the mirror. She was glad to no longer be bald; that she had her rich darker, but still deep blue, hair color back. Her face was once again made of soft angles that were accented by her narrow jaw line. One caramel brown eye that was offset nicely by the gray metallic 'eye' on the other side. And a narrow nose that tipped up at the end ever so slightly added to the face that was just the right mix between beautiful and cute.

Full and firm breasts that were just a shade smaller in size than Seven's, but seeing that she was ten centimeters shorter than the blonde, Pagsha's breasts actually looked a little bigger than Seven's. Pagsha's nipples were a shade darker than the caramel color of the eye, making the brown of her nipples stand off nicely against her pale skin.

Her abdomen was slender, which she liked a lot. Before she had been assimilated she had actually been overweight, but after two years in the Borg, her fat reserves had been brought back to the 'most efficient level'. Which basically translated to being slender, but not skinny. Not overweight or underweight. No, she was... just right. Pagsha loved it. More so because she knew that thanks to her intestinal implant, she would never again have to worry about her weight.

She had turned around and looked over her shoulder to check the reflection. There too she liked what she saw. A nicely shaped behind, slender legs and a now once again blue haired tail. The tail was also full of implants on the inside. That was basically the story for her entire body now. She still had a lot of implants, but almost all of them were on the inside of her skin now. Her body looked as flawless as it had done before being assimilated, and so did her tail. It looked as it had always done, including the little fluff of long hair on the tip. She had always been proud of the extra fluff of longer hair because it was a rare trait to have with her species.

Then she had turned back around and looked at her equally blue pubic hair. Doctor Lonika had asked her if she wanted her hair growth to be stimulated there as well, and she had decided that she did. That way she could let it be, or remove it if the mood ever struck her, but she doubted that she would ever actually remove it. No, she liked her pubic hair, liked to play with the short hairs as she built her way up to some very nice self-pleasure.

This had brought her to her sexual organs. Doctor Lonika had warned her before he had removed her body armor that her entire sexual organ had been removed by the Borg. This because of the type of drone her species had been used for. He had assured her that he could repair the damage; rebuild her sexual organ. But that because it was a rebuild there would be certain changes from what she had been used to. He had been right.

She had first felt herself and had noticed subtle differences. Folds had felt different, her lips... She had gotten curious to the point that just seeing herself in the body length mirror hadn't been enough. She had replicated a hand mirror and sat herself on the edge of the bathtub so that she could have a closer look. She had explored her lips, had slipped a finger inside, exposed her clit... taken in the changes. Again she had decided that she liked the changes. She had changed, yes, but it had been for the better. Just like most women, she had always thought that it would be nicer if this or that was different... and now it was.

It had been as if she had sat down with Doctor Lonika and had told him exactly what she wanted. She had wondered for a moment if maybe she wasn't just trying to justify the things the Borg had done to her, because they had indeed done things to her that most would dread. But for Pagsha... the Borg had freed her, made her part of something she actually wanted to be a part of. And now she was even making friends inside the Borg. She also didn't just have a front row seat to some of the most important changes made in the history of the Delta quadrant; she was actually making some of those changes. Her suggestions and ideas had been used.

She, First Officer Pagsha Yahif, Individualist drone one, was making history every single day. So yes, maybe she was making excuses for the Borg, but... The idea had been going through her mind as she continued to almost mindlessly explore herself. That was, until she moved a finger directly over her clit and bolted upright as if hit by lightning. She had never been 'that' sensitive down there. Forgetting about the looks and wanting to experience the feel, she had moved to her bed and explored some more.

Where before firm pressure on her clit had been needed to rub herself to orgasm, now a soft touch was more than enough. Now she finally understood how oral sex could feel good. Now she could believe that a tongue really could apply enough pressure to please. She had spent the next two hours just exploring herself, seeing exactly how much pressure was nice. To her utmost delight she achieved an orgasm not just once like had been normal, but four times in those two hours. At the end she had simply lain in her bed and giggled. She had learned so much during that time. From the fact that her nipples too were more sensitive now, to the fact that she could actually reach an orgasm from being entered. Life, Pagsha had decided, was good.

"My status report is the same as it was twelve hours ago, but... there is a point I want to bring up that doesn't really have much to do with my implants or the armor."

"Go on," B'Elanna encouraged.

"Well, last night I was checking out the changes to my body and, um, that ended up with a whole different kind of self exploration... if you know what I mean."

"I do," B'Elanna assured and couldn't help but grin when suddenly Seven joined them at the table. "Hey, I thought you had important 'Borg stuff' to do?"

"I have, and I am," Seven agreed as she sat down beside her Mate. "The transmitter Anidan designed is working extremely well, which enables me to do my 'Borg stuff' right now, while still listening to what Pagsha has to say. Being able to multitask is very convenient at times."

"And here I thought you were just being nosy about all the naughty things Pagsha has to say."

"Well... that too," Seven agreed with a smile in the direction of Pagsha.

"I'm sorry to disappoint you, but the naughty stuff has already been told. I indulged in a little self exploration and I enjoyed it. The reason why I'm actually mentioning it, is because Doctor Lonika must have gotten something wrong when he rebuilt me down there. I'm now about four times as sensitive there as I had been before."

"And you want him to change that back?" B'Elanna asked.

"No, oh no. No no no no, that's just fine as it is."

"I have a feeling that she actually enjoyed it VERY much," Seven said amused when she heard how often Pagsha said no.

"I did, it was great," Pagsha agreed. "But it did get me thinking. As more drones are brought back into Individualist status, more and more things need to be rebuilt. The hands with some, the face with others, arms, legs... sexual organs. You name it. Now, the Borg do have the technology to rebuild pretty much an entire body, but the thing is... I consider myself lucky. I now look a little different down there, and I like the changes. But what if a drone is rebuilt and doesn't like the changes? What if I hadn't liked the sensitivity I now have? Or the size comparison between my inner and outer lips I now have? Then there is a big chance that I would have blamed the Borg for mauling and disfiguring me."

"A very valid point," Seven agreed. Seven never really had to deal with this because her sexual organs had never been changed by the Borg. The only thing that came even remotely close was the stopping of hair grow all over her body, including there. For the rest, she had been so long part of the Borg that things like her artificial hand were just... her. It belonged to her like her real hand did. It had been one of the reasons why she had dreaded the removal of the old abdominal implant. And why she had been secretly glad to have a new abdominal implant... at least after she had found out that B'Elanna didn't mind one bit that she had it and that it most certainly didn't interrupt their lovemaking.

"Seeing that you are at the moment our expert on having part of the body rebuilt, do you have an idea how to handle this?"

"Actually, yeah I do. It came to me last night after... you know. With new drones that join the Collective it's easy, with them we can simply say that this or that part has to be removed in order to do this or that. The new implants would make this a lot easier. Take the hand. For most drones the removal of the hand might still be needed, simply to make room for things like the access tubes and the drills. But there we could use the old hand as a template and make the artificial skin that covers the new hand look just like the old hand did. It will look and feel just like their old hand, just that now there are some very handy tools inside it. But for the drones that are already part of the Collective that isn't possible since obviously the old hand is long gone. So my suggestion would be... let's turn it into something positive. Before we start changing them back, before the old body armor is removed, we sit them down and go over things. We tell them, 'since your hand was removed we will replace it with a new implant that looks just like a real hand, but would you like to use the opportunity to change something?' With the hand, this change might be more along the lines of an extra tool the drone would like to have, even though the new job doesn't really call for that tool. But with the face, or sexual organs... Take myself; I always felt that my inner lips were too long down there. Now they aren't. A Doctor could have set me down and I could have designed 'it' exactly how I like it. Lips longer, shorter. Be tighter, not so tight. Be more sensitive... especially that one. If I had gotten that option alone, that with the new um... it..."

"B'Elanna and I like to use the word 'pussy,' Seven helpfully said.

"Right. If nothing else, if I had only gotten the option of my... pussy... being as sensitive as it is now... I would have jumped for joy. I wouldn't have minded being changed; in fact, I would have loved it. Which I indeed do now." Pagsha sighed before adding, "The only problem is that if we were to do that, every drone that is brought back into Individualist status would have to actually see a doctor, take up a lot of time of a doctor instead of the changes simply being done by a medical drone."

"That will not be a problem," Seven assured. "B'Elanna and I already agreed that it would be better if later on certain people would guide drones into Individualist state. This could be part of that guiding."

"Why would you need to do that?" Pagsha wondered.

"At the moment we are only bringing drones into Individualist stage that do not mind not being connected to the Hive at all times. Even Anidan did not mind not being part of the Hive at all times. The problem we had with her was that she did not want to be part of the Borg at all. We were lucky that you were able to convince her to be that part that is so important to us. But eventually we will reach a stage where drones will be brought to Individualist stage that do not want that, or at least first think that they do not want that. For those we need people that can help them. When I think back to how brutally I was ripped from the sanctuary that was Borg and thrust into being an individual against my will... how my counseling basically existed out of being told to just deal with it. I do not wish that onto other drones. It will be easier for such drones because when they leave the Collective they know that they will be not leaving the Collective for good. The first time they leave it, it might be nothing more then only an hour which will be immediately used by the right people to prepare the drone for a longer period as an individual the next time."

"So that's the reason why things are going so slow; you simply don't yet have the people to make it go faster," Pagsha guessed.

"What do you mean with 'slow'?" B'Elanna wondered.

"Well, it's just that, you were already part of the Borg for three months before you even created the first Individualist drone; me. Now we are almost three months further and there are still only a little over two hundred Individualist drones. I mean, you could simply give an order and millions or even billions of drones would do it. You could have quarters created for thousands of drones in mere days; you could have thousands of Individualist drones in mere days. Why only two hundred?"

"Pagsha, have you ever rolled a snowball down a mountain?" B'Elanna asked. "Did you notice how easy it was? How it kept going in a straight line, picking up more and more snow, and also picking up any twigs and leaves that were lying on the snow?"

"Well, actually, I've never seen any real snow; we just didn't have that were I lived. But I do know what you mean."

"What we're doing now is preparing that snowball. Sure, Seven could give an order to millions and it would be done. But the thing is that if you have big projects, the chances are that you miss the small details. What we are doing is making slow changes, picking exactly the right people for certain jobs, all to make sure that once that snowball starts rolling, it rolls just like we want it to."

"There is also the fact that we simply cannot do certain things on a too large a scale yet," Seven added. "For instance, take the access tubes you now have. The Borg did not mind that because you are only one drone and there are still plenty of drones left to assimilate people if it is needed. But if I were to suddenly have all drones give up the possibility to assimilate, the Borg would never accept that because this would harm the existence of the Collective. Where would it get its new drones? We first have to find a way to actually get people to join the Borg willingly to prove that getting new drones will not be a problem before the Borg will agree to removing the assimilation tubes of all drones."

"Same goes for that force-field armor," B'Elanna added. "I think that all in all the Borg will go for it being a 'vest' that goes below the normal body armor. But there will always have to be a certain number of drones that will have an abdominal implant like Seven does. A group of first responders if you like. A group that can't be caught without the armor since the armor is part of their body. I'm thinking of the drones that will be used to guard bases and stuff. Those that will react first, so that the other drones do actually have the time to put on their force-field body armor."

"Or the guard drones that will accompany you if you leave this ship," Pagsha added in understanding.

"Or the drones that will accompany us for our protection if we leave the ship," B'Elanna agreed. "The point is that we do things now on a small basis so that once we are sure that they work we can let them go on without them taking up too much of our attention."

"Ah, I see," Pagsha said while nodding her head a little. "I was just curious." Then she frowned. "Um, on the subject of getting new drones... just where will you get them? I do know that you sent out an order to the Collective to stop assimilating people and for now only study new species from a distance. But that's soon not going to be enough. Sooner or later new drones will be needed."

"Doesn't the breeding program take care of that?" B'Elanna asked.

"It does, and it does not," Seven said, confusing the hell out of B'Elanna. "The breeding program is designed to keep the numbers of species up to a certain level. This means that at any time only a relatively small number of that species is bred; anything between ten thousand and a million. Compared to the total size of the Borg Collective this is a quite small number. We do not have the ability to breed enough drones to make up for all the drones that are lost each day, if by nothing more than dying of old age."

B'Elanna shook her head with a little smile when hearing the last part. "You know, that's one thing I never thought of when thinking of the Borg; drones dying of old age. Well, I see a two way approach here, one that will add the numbers now, and one that ensures the numbers in the future. Maybe even to the point of no longer needing a breeding program."

B'Elanna placed a hand on Seven's belly to indicate the two month old embryo growing inside. "Don't you think that if the Borg Queen can have a baby, it's only fair if drones can as well? We want Individualist drones to feel at home in the Borg, to create families. Well, part of most families is to sooner or later have a child. I say, let's give them the opportunity to have that child. That way you get a whole generation of new Individualist drones growing up in the Borg. Drones that don't know any different than the fact that the Borg is home. A home where they will find work, where they themselves fall in love, where they have children, and so on."

"This is the long time approach you talked about," Seven said in understanding. She knew that it would take a lot of time to first have the Individualist drones that would also first have to fall in love, first start a family, and after all that actually want to have a baby. And even then it would take years, depending on the species even decades, for the baby to grow up to the point where they could willingly join the Collective as an Individualist drone.

"It is," B'Elanna agreed. "The short term approach is to find species that actually want to join the Borg."

"I think that this will be quite hard," Pagsha spoke up. "You have to remember that the Borg are considered evil and ruthless by most. You may say that you are bringing changes, but why should they believe you? You would have to offer them some incentive, something that makes them take the risk of joining the Borg."

"Bribe them, you mean," B'Elanna asked to clarify. "Maybe offer them some of our technology."

"Bribing a government will still not make the individual people join the Collective willingly," Seven pointed out. "It would only result in governments pressuring unwilling individuals into service for the Borg."

"Maybe," B'Elanna agreed thoughtfully as she looked at how Pagsha was absently playing with the long hairs on her tail. "And maybe not," She added when an idea came to her. "Pagsha, you said that your tail was full of implants? What has changed because of them?"

"What hasn't?" Pagsha asked with a smile. "It's much more maneuverable, much more flexible; I can move it consciously... Before, the movement was just the basics. You know; wiggle back and forth, move it up so that I wouldn't sit on it or..." A slight blush. "Get it, um, dirty when I had to use the facilities. But now?" Pagsha moved her tail up so that more than just the tip could be seen by the two women sitting across the table from her.

"I can move it like this; I can move it in any shape I want." This was demonstrated by Pagsha first forming an S form with her tail before curling it around her arm. "I can now actually hold on to something... which is the reason why the Borg didn't remove it. They changed it so that I can use it as a basic third arm."

Pagsha pointed to the glass with juice that was standing in front of her, offered to her by B'Elanna before the conversation had begun. "A little thinner than that is the max though, thinner and I can't curl my tail around it tight enough to hold. And not to forget, it's much stronger than it was."

She moved the tail under the table and managed to lift the table slightly on her side. "See? They changed so much about it... and I love it."

"And you baby, you told me that the Borg replaced your spinal cord with the Borg equivalent?"

"They did," Seven agreed. "That is a standard step when someone is turned into a drone. It was also the reason why the Doctor on Voyager would not have been able to remove this abdominal implant; the Borg spinal cord passes through it with this design. It could of course be removed here because we are now with the Borg, but we already talked about me keeping my implants."

"We did, but that's not why I'm asking," B'Elanna said. Then she winked at Seven. "Besides, I would really miss your abdominal implant. No, what I want to know is, is there anything about the humanoid body the Borg can't recreate?"

"There are a few species where some part of their body cannot be recreated because of their biological distinctiveness, but overall there has only been one thing that the Borg did not succeed in recreating; life. That is why the breeding program is literally from conception. There have been a few attempts in Borg history to switch to getting new drones by basically building them, but eventually they all failed because they missed that once special ingredient; life. If you are suggesting that we... build... drones, I am sorry to say that it will not work."

"Don't worry baby, that's not what I mean either. Pagsha said that we would need an incentive to get people, the individual people, to join the Borg. Borg implants could be that incentive. Imagine I told you right now that you had a bad heart and only had one more week to live, but that there was an option which made it possible for you to live on and die of old age. How many years of your continued life would you be willing to give? Would you be willing to give two years? Three? Four? Five? Would you be willing to serve some years as a Borg Individualist drone if you knew that because of it, you can still live seventy more years? Or what about if you had lost an arm in an accident? Would you serve time in the Collective if that meant getting an arm again, an arm that looks and feels just like a real one?"

Seven and Pagsha looked at each other for a moment, both of them imagining the idea. "You know," Pagsha finally said. "I'd be willing to spend some years for that."

"Yeah, but how many?" B'Elanna pressed on. "It can't be too long or else people won't do it despite the gains, and it can't be too short because then they won't even contemplate staying longer. I mean, the real additions you don't get from the people that only serve a few years; the real additions you get from the people that serve a few years and in that time find a life here that they want to continue, find friends here, family. The real additions are the people that thought that they were only going to spend a few years, but that end up willingly spending the rest of their life."

"I believe the time frame the Federation uses is suited for this," Seven suggested. "You sign up for four years when entering Starfleet. After that time is served you continue to stay in Starfleet until you yourself retire from service."

"Yeah," B'Elanna agreed. "I think four years is a good time. Five sounds just that bit too long."

"You will have to make some exceptions for certain species," Pagsha reminded. "For the average humanoid four years is a not too big a part of their life, but there are species that live a much shorter life."

"Good point," B'Elanna said. "Take the Ocampa; they only live for seven years on average. If one of them would have to serve four years, they would actually be serving more than half their life."

"We could still keep the four years," Seven said, "but ad a condition that the initial serving time may only be a certain percentage of the average lifespan at most. The average lifespan of a human is one hundred years, which means that four years of service is four percent. We can set the line at four years of service, or, say, five percent of the average lifespan of their species if the four years is more than those five percent of their life, unless they want to serve longer. Any drone is welcome to serve as long as they like, which will eventually result in what we want; people joining the Borg as a career move. So if an Ocampa joins the Borg they would only have to serve 102 days unless they want to stay longer."

"I don't know, wouldn't that make them joining useless?" B'Elanna wondered. "I mean, before their training is done, their duty time is already over."

"You are forgetting that they are joining the Borg, not Starfleet," Seven reminded. "True, there are certain tasks they could not perform because getting to the location alone would be a waste of time. Or because training them how to be able to command in an Individualist chain of command would take too long. But they could perform a complicated task like maintaining a warp core because as soon as they regenerate the first time and they join the Hive, they could be taught the task we require of them."

"You're right, I didn't think of that," B'Elanna agreed.

"What I am more concerned about is the perception of fairness," Seven went on. "Would it not be perceived as us being extremely unfair to people if we would only offer the Borg implants to people that agree to join the Borg? What if someone does not want to join? Are we going to let that person die, even if we could have saved them?"

B'Elanna thought about that for a moment before finally saying, "Life isn't fair. If we want to do this, we have to stand our ground baby. We can't just give the implants away, if we did we would be back to the point of why should they join, they would get the implants anyway."

"And let's not forget the resources," Pagsha added, fully agreeing with B'Elanna. "Implants cost resources to make; it would be foolish to just give those resources away without getting something back in return. And also, if the Borg hadn't showed up that person would have died either way. At least we would be giving an equal chance to all. On our planet we had waiting lists for certain organs to be transplanted. Since the men were considered worth so much more than the women, men always were put on top of the list and women were only helped if there were no men needing the help. We didn't have a choice; we just had to accept it. Or what about species that are capitalistically orientated? There the help would go to the rich while the poor would suffer on. We would on the other hand say to everyone equally, 'sure we'll help you, but we do want something in return.' And that something would be a commodity that every one can pay, time out of their lives."

"All that leaves us with though, is the bad stigma of the Borg," B'Elanna said. "At the moment some of those people would choose to die because they would think that they would be turned into mindless drones. We need proof. We need to find a species that's willing to have people join the Borg and that after some time those people are indeed let go again with the implants that make it possible for them to live on. If we manage that, then there is even the chance that people will join that are physically perfectly fine, simply because they want some of the benefits the implants bring."

"Or simply because they want a better life," Pagsha added. "I have to tell you, if the Borg had showed up at our Homeworld and asked us if we had wanted to join them instead of simply assimilating us all, I'm willing to bet that most of the women would have joined just to get away from being treated as nothing more than property."

"We will have to decide how to approach species on a species individual scale," Seven said. "Take indeed your species, Pagsha. Yes, most of the women would have joined because for them life was a hell, but I have a feeling that most men actually liked it that way and seeing that they also formed the government, they would have tried to stop the women from leaving."

"I think that in cases like that you do have the benefit that you can throw the weight of the Borg around," B'Elanna said with a grin. "Here you show up with the moon size Unimatrix 01, already scaring the crap out of them. But still they bravely go, 'nope, we aren't letting them go.' You suggest to them that they think about it a little more and that you'll be back the next day to talk some more. And the next day you show up with Unimatrix 01... and about a thousand cubes and tell them, 'now, why don't we sit down and work something out here.' And you know what the best part is? Because they indeed get scared and something is worked out, there were no recorded threats, no assimilations. At any later date you can honestly say to everyone, 'but they willingly agreed to that.' But yeah, you're right that every species might need an individual touch. Just that you don't necessarily have to take no for an answer."

"You might have a point, but I want to use that approach as a last resort only," Seven said with a tone of resoluteness.

"As it should be," B'Elanna assured. "I'm just mentioning it, as I said, to indicate that 'no' isn't necessarily always the end of it. But as I said, right now we need a species whose people willingly join the Collective. To make it extra interesting for them to do so, I think that we should offer this first species an extra deal; something like... instead of four years of service they only have to serve one year of service."

"Why?" Pagsha asked.

"Two reasons really. First of all the short time will entice people to take the deal, despite the bad name the Borg have. Second, with only one year of service it would mean that in one year's time we already have the proof that we really do let them go again if they want. That year will also give us time to prepare the Borg more."

"It will have to be a species that has had no negative interactions with the Borg," Seven pointed out.

"I know," B'Elanna agreed. "Actually, the Zamonan come to mind. They have had no interaction with the Borg since they've always been able to hide from the Borg thanks to their dampening field technology. Even though they live in old fashioned villages, they know about modern technology. They are a warrior orientated society, but don't go looking for a fight. And they might just be adventurous enough to take the chance. Not even for the implants, but simply to see something else before going to live the rest of their life in nature again."

"The Zamonan are a good choice," Seven agreed. "More so because we have had dealings with them before. It will be a good opportunity for us to leave Unimatrix 01 for the first time, and me to meet someone as the Queen of Borg. Not only will it be a good species to deal with, this will also give us a chance to see just how much the Borg really are willing to trust us. Will they really let us off the ship?"

"If they don't let us go off Unimatrix 01, we might as well quit trying to change the Borg because they will never agree to any of the bigger changes yet to come," B'Elanna agreed.

Looking at Pagsha, B'Elanna added with a grin, "But if the Borg do let us go it'll be a great experience for you. You'll love the Zamonan."

"Why?" Pagsha wondered.

"Lots of muscles."


Chapter 27

The reign of One of Many, née Annika Hansen; Queen of Borg.

Year 00, Month 06, Day 02, Hour 09, Minute 05.

"I must admit, the last time I saw you, never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that I would be talking to you six months later... just with the small difference that the talk would be from Queen to Queen."

"And I must admit that six months ago the thought was far from my mind as well," Seven agreed.

Queen Erda of the Zamonan realm nodded her head slightly. Never in her forty-eight years would she have dreamed of meeting the Borg Queen, at least not like this. She pursed her lips. "And not just any Queen you are, no; the Queen of the Borg. Talk about raising through the ranks quickly."

"It was more a case of direct appointment," Seven said before adding, "I apologize for the guard drones. I do not want to give the impression that I do not trust the Zamonan."

Of course, Seven wisely didn't add the other security measures that had been taken, like the entire area being scanned and the position of every person in a thousand kilometer radius being continuously monitored, or the transporter lock on Seven and B'Elanna that had been established the moment they left Unimatrix 01. Or...

Queen Erda waved her hand dismissively to her side, in one-and-the-same gesture dismissing Seven's words and also indicating her own guard standing close by. "Guards are a part of royal life; you would be foolish not to have them. Now, down to business. I assume I don't have to introduce my Mate to you, nor Regent Dasia?"

"You do not, but allow me some introductions. You already met my Mate B'Elanna. I am introducing her again to let you know that her position changed as well. Seeing that she is my Mate, she is now Two of Many, Princess of Borg."

"Princess," Queen Erda greeted.

"Please, it's still B'Elanna."

"And this is our assistant, First Officer Pagsha Yahif," Seven continued.

"Pagsha is fine," Pagsha was quick to add.

"Pagsha," Erda said in greeting before gesturing to a door to her side. "Please accompany me to the meeting room."

Erda preceded them to the other room and once they were sitting at the table, Zamonan at one side, Borg on the other, guards behind them, did she continue. "I thank you for sending a message to Dasia to let us know why you were coming. It did soften the shock of seeing Borg ships actually stopping in our sector this time. I must say that I'm intrigued by your proposal, and I'm certain that there will be a considerable number of Zamonan that could benefit from your offer."

"I am glad to hear that," Seven said, pleased that the conversation was apparently going a lot smoother than she had expected.

"However, I had a different kind of cooperation in mind."

And then maybe it wasn't as smooth. "We are always open to suggestions," Seven said with a dip of her head.

"Good. I was actually thinking more along the lines of the Zamonan joining the Borg Collective."

Three proverbial jaws hit the table when hearing that.

"Good to see that even the Borg Queen can be shocked," Erda said with a laugh. "Actually, I'm talking about joining on a limited basis."

"I have to admit that I am quite surprised by your offer. Pleasantly surprised, but surprised never the less," Seven admitted. "May I ask why you are willing to go to such a far reaching commitment while you gave Captain Janeway much tougher negotiations on a deal that was basically already worked out?"

"Kathryn was talking for a ship far away from home that wanted things from us, without being able to give us something really worth anything in return. We didn't gain anything from that other than some luxury supplies that none of us really needed. One could say that we dealt with her out of kindness or even charity. But you now, as Queen of the Borg, can give us a lot. This means that we must be willing to give a lot in return as well. But let me tell you my concerns first so that you understand my offer. Frankly, the encounter with Voyager opened my eyes. We've always been hidden behind our dampening fields. Secure in the knowledge that if nobody can see us, nobody can harm us. But the encounter with Voyager proved us wrong. As you know, the shuttle that B'Elanna was in almost literally ran into one of our ships; it's the way B'Elanna found us. While we do have the space ships to protect ourselves against several ships the size of Voyager, sooner or later there is going to come the day that someone comes across us that has the technology to see through our dampening field, and has the power to overpower us. Or someone that doesn't have that technology, but does have the power and also happens to run into one of our ships."

Queen Erda hesitated before adding, "Besides that we have also not been blind to the threat that the Borg pose. We know about their tendency to assimilate to get new technology. Until now they hadn't found us, but now they know about us. But even if you hadn't brought them here, what if they were to assimilate a species that happens to have scanners that go through our dampening field? The Borg would come immediately to assimilate us to get the knowledge of that very same dampening field that has been protecting us until now. But now, with you being their Queen, we can give the Borg what they would take then; our technology, and after that time we are no longer of value to them because they already have the most interesting thing about us. The only thing they could use us for then is as drones. But why would they come back into territory they've already been in to get drones when they can assimilate new species and get new drones and new technology?"

"Valid points," Seven agreed. "However, the fact that the Borg already know of you is no guarantee that they will not come for you. True, they would prefer new species that also bring new technology, but if they need drones and have not located a new species, they would go back to the planets where they know potential drones still exist."

"But it would not be their first choice," Erda persisted. "But there are also two lesser, yet never the less not unimportant reasons for joining the Borg Collective. First, I realize only too well that you're still in the stage of having to prove yourself and your new ideas to the Borg. If we join, that will be an enormous boost for you. You can say to the Borg 'see, it works' and you can say to other species 'see, these Zamonan were only too happy to join.' By ensuring your success, I also insure that the Borg don't become a threat to my people again. The second reason is... as you know from your last visit, we keep the number of people that live on our planet low by colonizing other planets. The problem with that is that sooner or later those planets will fill up. I estimate that in about fifty years the other planets will have as many inhabitants as our Homeworld here does. At that point we would either have to go out searching for new worlds again, which would mean traveling outside this sector, since we already explored this sector and there are no livable planets left, or start allowing more people to live on the planets. But, if the Zamonan joined the Borg, people would stay on your ships, settle on other planets, our problem of overpopulation would be gone."

"That it would be, if enough people join the Borg," Seven agreed. "You were talking about joining on a limited basis. What basis exactly?"

"First, the Zamonan keep the control over the territory we now have; no Borg telling us what to do and how to do it. In short, we keep our lives as we have it now. You're welcome to open representative buildings on our planets so that both our lower level representatives have a place to meet and talk. You'll get free and total access to any and all technology we have. And any Zamonan that wants to join the Borg can do so. In return we expect to keep the control I just talked about, including there still being a Zamonan Queen; me. Besides that we would also get the protection of the Borg. Seeing that our joining the Borg would make this part of space part of the Borg territory, it is only fair that the Borg take over protecting it from threats from outside that territory."

"To do so at a satisfactory level we would have to pass through your space to patrol it, maybe even establish a base in your sector," Pagsha pointed out, remembering that Seven had told her before that if something came to mind she should speak up.

"Not a problem," Erda assured. "In fact, there are three planets left where we can't settle. You are more than welcome to establish a base there, or use any of the moons. I have heard that the Borg are very exceptional at terraforming planets and moons to their needs."

"That's a very generous offer of you," B'Elanna noted.

"That's a smart offer," Erda corrected. "If you have a base so close by you will be directly there if a threat does ever come. And if the Borg go the other way again..."

Erda shrugged. "Really, I have no illusions about being able to offer any real resistance. If the Borg have a base on one of our moons, or have to come here in ships; the only difference is that we might be assimilated a few hours later."

"If you think that way, would you mind if we open a base on one of the moons and besides that also terraform those three planets?" B'Elanna asked.

Seeing Seven also look slightly in her direction, B'Elanna continued talking to Erda but was at the same time also explaining to Seven and Pagsha a little plan she had just formed. "You see, eventually we want to reach the point where we have the Collective filled with people that want to be there, people that see being part of the Borg as a career move. But people like that you need to give a vacation from time to time. A vacation away from the ship or the planet they are on. Seeing that you have no problem with the Borg being so close to you, we could use those planets as vacation planets, after they are terraformed of course. Those planets would still be under your rule, still be Zamonan territory, just that Borg come there for a vacation."

"Our control, our rules?" Erda asked to clarify. "Again, no Borg intervention of how to run things?"

"Your rules," B'Elanna assured, before adding, "Well, with the exception that those planets would be open to all Borg, regardless of gender. And, of course, that we would appreciate it if the planets could actually be used for vacation."

"What kind of vacation are we talking about?"

"What would, and wouldn't, be allowed would be covered by Zamonan laws, so we are talking about vacations you deem satisfactory for the newly terraformed planets. All we ask is that you be reasonable and of course allow the vacations to take place in your territory."

"I'm sure we can work something out," Erda said confidently. "Seeing that they are planets that will be terraformed, we'll have to see up front what kind of vacation planets would be suited for the climates that can be created on them so that the terraforming can be done with ideas in mind. Forests, beaches... I can tell you up front that since they'll be under our control, the environment will have as much importance as it does on all our other planets."

"Again, it's for you to decide," B'Elanna assured. "But if you want, a Borg representative can meet with someone of the Zamonan at that time to give you some suggestions, since that representative will know the general likes and dislikes of the species in the Borg."

"We will appreciate the input," Erda assured. "So do we have an agreement?"

"Not quite yet," Seven said. She knew that she needed the participation of the Zamonan greatly, but not at any cost. "What you just talked about, especially the protection of you space is an ongoing situation. It seems only fair that the reciprocation counteract is ongoing as well. You talked about having representative buildings on your planet; we want the option of joining the Borg to be a continuous option. If six months from now a Zamonan has an accident and needs our assistance, we want that to then still be a possibility. We want it to become standard. If there is nothing left the Zamonan healers can do, then the healer actually tells the wounded Zamonan, 'I cannot help you any further, but if you want I can contact the Borg representative for you'."

"A fair request," Erda said, having a feeling that the healers would actually like having such a huge 'last resort' at hand.

"And one more thing," Pagsha said, feeling that there was room to press something else through. "My Queen wants all joining to the Borg to be on a voluntary basis, but we know that how something is presented can add to just how many volunteers there are. What we also want from you is an assurance that you will put this in the best possible light so that people will actually volunteer to join the Borg even if they aren't hurt."

Erda needed to think about that for a moment. Finally after a few minutes of silence she spoke up. "Alright, how about this? The tour of duty for Zamonan that join the Borg will for always be that one year minimum you are offering now, longer if they want. As your Queen and Princess were told last time, we have an exchange program in which people can change places for a year with people on one of the other planets to see what life is like there. The joining of our space program is pretty much the same. Both programs are completely voluntary, yet about ninety percent of the Zamonan do join both programs somewhere during their younger adult years. We make sure that we have enough volunteers by selling both programs as an adventure."

Queen Erda smirked before adding, "As you probably can guess; adventure sells with the young ones. We would add a third program to that of which we would be just as enthusiastic; join the Borg for a year. If we can get the same participation level of about ninety percent, and I'm sure we can, this would give you a continues stream of Zamonan joining and leaving the Borg. You could have hundreds of thousands of Zamonan in Borg service at any time, and yet it won't affect the amount of Zamonan on the planets because after that year they come back again and join the planetary life."

"Unless they decide they like the life with the Borg and decide to stay," Seven pointed out. "In that case the number of Zamonan on the planets would actually decline."

"Easily solved," Erda assured. "If too many Zamonan decide to stay with the Borg, we simply start becoming less enthusiastic in 'selling' the program to the young ones. The number of participants drops, which means less people that join the Borg and more people that stay on the planet without even ever having tried the life of the Borg. I'm certain that by being more or less enthusiastic about the program, depending on the situation, we can get a steady stream of Zamonan in the Borg that we're both happy with. You get your Zamonan, and we keep the level of people we want on our planets."

"An ongoing deal like that could be beneficial to you in more ways than just getting new people to join," Regent Dasia spoke up for the first time. She had been the only Regent chosen to join the negotiations because she had a good knowledge of Seven and B'Elanna.

"First, it would be a deal that continues to stand, that continues to prove to people day after day, after day, that the Borg really do let people go again when the term of service is up. Secondly, it would prove to people that the Borg now stand by the deals they make. You told me yourself how you, Seven, joined the Voyager crew. How the Borg had made a deal with Voyager, only to break it the second it wasn't needed anymore. But if you have a standing deal with us, a deal that you honor and keep to, instead of just simply assimilating us all... it would prove more to people than you could ever do yourself by saying 'trust me.'"

Seven looked to both her sides first, getting a short nod from B'Elanna and Pagsha in turn, before looking back at Dasia and giving her the smallest of smiles. "You have a very valid point. Very well, we agree to your conditions of this negotiation, if you agree to ours. I am certain that we will have more negotiations at a later point to deal with situations like resources, or certain jobs your space ships could perform for us. But those are not of importance right now and I do not want to cloud the main agreement with them."

"Sounds good to me," Erda agreed. "Basically, you get the people you need, and we get to keep our life on our planets as we have it now, and the security provided by the Borg. If you agree, we can now end the official part of these negotiations and move on to dinner. During which, I'm sure, there will be some totally unofficial talk about things like those resources and those ships."

"Dinner sounds like an excellent idea," Seven agreed.

The reign of One of Many, née Annika Hansen; Queen of Borg.

Year 00, Month 06, Day 04, Hour 13, Minute 12.

She wanted to die.

It hurt. It hurt so damn much. Every day, every minute.

To her it was the proof that irony truly was the ultimate bitch. Here she was paralyzed from the neck down, not being able to feel her own body... and every square millimeter of it hurt. You could cut off her arm and she wouldn't feel it, but she did feel the needles, the fire, the crawling ants.

Phantom pains, the healers had called it. At first she had hoped that this meant that her feeling was coming back... but that hope was quickly dashed when the healers had softly explained to her that phantom pains normally meant that feeling wouldn't come back, that you only got phantom pains when the nerves had been damaged beyond repair.

It hurt. It hurt so damn much. Not only the physical pain that she wasn't feeling yet still felt, but also the emotional pain. She had been one of the best sword fighters in the province. Her bow skills had been a little less, but still above adequate. One of the strongest, if not the strongest Zamonan on the planet. She had won the yearly wrestling contest four years in a row. She had been the best wrestler her village had produced in, well, ever. And now all she was, was a 'had been.'

Death would be so welcome, but unfortunately the Zamonan didn't believe in mercy killings. So here she was. Suffering pain every minute of the day, waiting for the day to come that life would leave her. But there was that bitch irony again. Because she had been so healthy before, she would continue to live for many a year yet. She wanted to cry, but she didn't. She was a warrior, and the only fight she still had was to keep the tears from falling. She prided herself on the fact that this was a battle she had won every day yet. But...

It hurt.

Voices. Voices were good. Normally it meant people coming to see her. People that would keep her mind off the needles, the fire...

"She's in here," Dasia said, before entering the building. They took a moment to look at the woman on the bed.

"Nice muscles," Pagsha spoke up after a moment. When she saw both B'Elanna and Seven roll their eyes she was quick to add, "No, I mean, for someone that has been bedridden for four months she still looks like someone that has been working out every day."

"Oh, but she did indeed lose some muscle mass already," Dasia said. "You should have seen her before. She was one of our most promising warriors, only hampered at times by her youthful recklessness."

"How old is she?"

"Twenty two," Dasia said. "Though she sure had built up a reputation."

Pagsha could not believe that this mountain of a woman was only twenty two years old, that this huge woman was actually three years younger than Pagsha herself was. Pagsha knew that the Zamonan had an average lifespan equal to her own species and also equal to the species that Seven was, so she knew that twenty-two was considered young. Sure, the face did look youthful, but that body. She had to be at least a full head taller than Pagsha and B'Elanna, and muscles covered her entire body. There were no clear fat reserves to be seen; even her breasts looked small; about the size of a cupped hand. And the woman still looked like that after four months of lying in bed: amazing.

"I'm still amazed that B'Elanna was able to floor her, and break her jaw back then," Dasia continued, oblivious to Pagsha's thinking.

"Well, she was touching Seven, and I did kinda see red because of that," B'Elanna admitted. In hindsight, when Katzi had come to apologize, B'Elanna too had wondered how she had managed to take Katzi out with one blow. That was until Seven had reminded her that it hadn't been 'just one blow.' She had tackled Katzi to the ground and then had started swinging at the woman; getting a couple of good hits in before Seven had been able to stop her. It had been the last blow that had broken the jaw.

"She was touching Seven?" Pagsha asked. "In what way?"

"In an improper way if you don't know if the person is bonded," Dasia explained. "She had put her hand on Seven's behind. See, the problem is that Katzi has a little bit of a name as a womanizer. She has slept with... well, I don't know actually; I stopped counting after fifteen. Anyway, she was sure that she could also bed this blonde stranger and didn't take much effort to find out if she was bonded."

"And I took exception to that," B'Elanna added.

"Is she trying to speak?" Pagsha asked when she saw the lips of Katzi move.

"Actually, she 'is' speaking," Dasia corrected. "She can move her lips, but can't make any sound. I have learned to read the words she is saying so if you don't mind I'll be her voice for you. And right now she was saying that we should really stop talking about her as if she isn't here. I agree with her, and I apologize to you, Katzi."

Looking back at the three women with her Dasia gestured to the side of the bed. "If you stand there she can see you."

"Why?" Dasia voiced for Katzi a few minutes later. The question had been a reply to the statement that if Katzi wanted, the Borg would heal her. Give her her mobility back, her feelings. Her body would feel as it had before; gone would be the needles and the fire. Returned would be the normal sensations of touch and feeling warmth and coolness. And unlike the others she didn't even have to serve in the Borg for a year. They would simply heal her and that would be it.

"Because we owe you a little thank you, and this is a perfect way in which we can say thanks," B'Elanna explained. "You see, back then, Seven and I hadn't actually made the step yet of seeing each other as Mates. But your actions, and us having to answer questions made us realize that, yes, we were Mates. I have no idea how long Seven and I would have gone on without taking that step, but you forced us to take it right there, and we are both glad we did. We know that you acted selfishly; wanting Seven. But the fact is that we still are thankful that you did."

Then she added with a grin, "And I personally can't blame you for wanting Seven; I can only compliment you on your taste. Just that I didn't like the way you went about acting on that want."

"I will take the deal," Dasia voiced when Katzi spoke after a minute of silence. "I will join the Borg for a year, just like the others."

"Why serve?" Seven asked.

"Because I owe you a thank you as well. Your Mate knocked some sense into me. After she hit me I realized that no matter how much I liked the girls, I shouldn't just assume that they like me too. We both owe each other a thank you, which means that you helping me without any action from my side would be nothing more than charity. I don't want charity. I want to earn the help I will get. I will spend that year with the Borg."

"If that is really what you want, then you are more than welcome," Seven assured.


Chapter 28

The reign of One of Many, née Annika Hansen; Queen of Borg.

Year 00, Month 6, Day 12, Hour 19, Minute 23.

Seven, B'Elanna, Pagsha, and Anidan were walking through one of the public meeting areas on their way to check out one of the recent restructurings; the place that Anidan would soon be calling her new workplace. B'Elanna saw a lone figure sitting at one of the tables and hesitated.

"Why don't you go ahead? I think I see someone that I need to talk to for a moment."

Seven saw where her Mate was looking and asked amused, "Should I send for a doctor?"

B'Elanna grinned, "Neh, she isn't touching anything that's mine. Go on, my Princess, I'll be along shortly."

Pagsha also looked at the woman sitting at the table; still liking what she saw. And as she followed Seven and Anidan, she nodded to her self as she made a decision. She knew that a lot of people preferred to wait until they were with someone they loved. She wondered why. It wasn't a guarantee. You could think that you loved somebody more than life itself, only to find out that they were playing you to get you into bed. Pagsha preferred her way. She would much rather lose her virginity to a woman she knew for a fact was very experienced, and new exactly what she was doing. And on top of that, had a body that made Pagsha wet just by fantasizing that she was allowed to touch it.

Pagsha nodded once more. Yes, if things went anywhere close to the way she preferred, then the next day she would know what having sex felt like.

"May I sit down?" B'Elanna asked as she put a hand on the back of a second chair at the table.

Katzi looked up in surprise. "Oh, sure. Sorry for not seeing you; I was thinking."

"Of home," B'Elanna said in understanding. "Having second thoughts." It wasn't a question, Katzi realized.

"No, yes, well... kinda but not."

Katzi stopped talking and B'Elanna waited patiently, giving the woman time to put her thoughts into words.

Finally the Zamonan continued. "I have no second thoughts at all about what I did, about taking you up on the offer of joining the Borg. I'm amazed at what I've seen so far and I do like all the new things. If you would make me the same offer again I would still choose for serving. I don't mind that part. It's just that... other things. Like waking up and smelling nature. Here all is filtered. If you take a deep breath you don't smell anything, with the exception maybe of temporary things, like how I smell you now. But as soon as I go to my quarters the only thing I smell there is myself."

Though it was on the tip of her tongue, B'Elanna decided not to voice the comment about if the Zamonan was implying that B'Elanna stank. Being half Klingon, with the full Klingon sense of smell, she knew only too well what the Zamonan meant.

Oblivious to the thoughts of the other woman, Katzi continued. "At home I would walk out the door and see trees all around me. Here I walk out of my door and only see metal plates. At home I could decide to leave the path and just go off into the forest. Here I can't leave the path because those tracks are corridors."

"You don't see trees, that's true. And you also can't leave the path at any moment," B'Elanna agreed. "But you can still walk around. Just because you don't have to be in a certain part of the ship doesn't mean that you can't walk there. I know, it sounds like a weak excuse. All I'm really saying is that you don't have to stay in your quarters or sit around in some meeting area all the time. Walk around, get to know the ship."

"That won't make me forget about home," Katzi noted.

B'Elanna nodded her agreement. "It won't. But it will get you acquainted with the ship and it will help you in starting to see this as your second home. Believe me, I know where you're coming from. When I moved from the colony I grew up in to Earth so that I could join the Academy I obviously traveled on a starship. It was my first time. First I was exhilarated. I love technology and being able to actually travel on a starship was like a dream come true. That is until I went to my assigned quarters that night. It was just a smaller room, no luxury at all."

B'Elanna chuckled. "It was only later that I found out that on a starship of any kind, having a room for yourself 'is' luxury. In fact, it's one of the reasons I became so good at my job. Very early on at the Academy I already decided that I was going to be a Chief Engineer on a starship because as Chief Engineer you always get assigned single quarters. Anyway, on that ship I had the same experience as you. I woke up the next morning in that strange room, walked out onto a strange corridor and realized in dread, 'is this my future? To be stuck in some heap of metal? What have I done?' But I was stuck on that damn ship for two weeks, so just to pass the time I started to explore the ship. It didn't happen overnight. In fact, I can't really tell you when it happened. But I can tell you that by the end of that trip I was sorry to leave the ship because I felt at home there. It was on that trip that I realized that my future lay between the stars."

To her own surprise, Katzi realized that her somber mood had somehow disappeared during the story. Enough so that hearing that last sentence made her laugh. "Boy, were you in for a surprise."

B'Elanna laughed as well. "Yeah, somehow I didn't quite expect that this future included ending up in the Delta quadrant, meeting this irritating blonde that became my Mate, and becoming the second in command of the Borg on top of that. But nevertheless, I was right. My future did lie between the stars."

"Talking about your Mate," Katzi said hesitantly.

B'Elanna lifted her hand to stop the Zamonan from continuing. "Listen, time wise that's not so long ago, but events wise that's ancient history. So much has changed since then. For one thing you said that you learned that you had to treat potential Mates differently."

"Treat potential conquests as women and not as things to use," Katzi corrected amused. "I won't lie. Between that event and me breaking my back two months later, I managed to get two women in to bed; both more than once. I didn't stop my womanizing, but I did stop deliberately hurting their feelings afterwards. Besides, it all changed once I broke my back. I have moved on to wanting other things. Not that I won't take the opportunity if it presents itself, but it's no longer a priority for me."

"As I said, so much has changed." B'Elanna grinned. "And as for wanting Seven... well, as I already told you on Zamona, I can only really compliment you on your excellent taste in women. I didn't like the way you handled it, I can't fault your taste. I'm just lucky enough that I was there first; mine."

Katzi lifted her hands in mock surrender. "All yours."

B'Elanna extended her arm halfway across the table. "As long as that's clear, how about we put this behind us and start looking in front of us? I could use a warrior as friend. Someone that knows that honor is more than just the word. Someone that knows that a blade has more meaning than just a thing with a sharp edge."

Katzi looked at the extended arm for a moment before clasping it. "It is my honor to accept your offer and I extend the same offer to you."

The reign of One of Many, née Annika Hansen; Queen of Borg.

Year 00, Month 06, Day 14, Hour 20, Minute 48.

Pagsha looked around her and nodded. She was in the first ever restaurant to be opened on Unimatrix 01. It had opened a mere three days before with Seven and B'Elanna being served the ceremonial first meal. Pagsha liked the restaurant. It had a nice and welcome atmosphere and she loved the Keldian food. All in all a perfect setting for a goodbye dinner. Because of that fact Pagsha was sure; it would be a goodbye dinner.

"Any suggestions?" Katzi asked.

"Try the Gilkad soup, but don't order anything else at the moment. Don't be misled by the word 'soup.' It's actually very filling, and if you are still hungry afterwards you can order a second round; that's normal with Keldian food."

"Alright, I'll try that," Katzi said with a smile as she activated the choice on the PADD; placing the order. She put down the PADD and smiled at Pagsha. "So here we are."

"Here we are," Pagsha agreed as she put down her own PADD after making the same selection. She took a moment to look at the woman across from her.

Katzi liked to wear her black hair relatively short. Bangs that stopped just above the eyes, and the rest of the hair just as long, but combed to the sides and back. Surprisingly flawless skin of a sexy light brown chocolate color. Gray eyes, a slightly hooked nose, and a wide jaw. Pagsha would describe Katzi's face as handsomely rugged. No, Katzi didn't have the most beautiful face Pagsha had ever seen, but the thing was that the face fit the woman perfectly. Katzi was a tall woman with broad shoulders. A beautiful face with fine and delicate lines would have looked just plain wrong. Pagsha decided that she really liked the strong angles that made up Katzi's face. Which made her even sadder that things would be over even before they could have really begun. She really would have liked to make a life with this woman, but she had no illusions of that ever happening. She sighed and braved ahead.

"Katzi, let me get right to the point so that we can enjoy dinner without having to wonder... Can we still be friends? I like you, and I would like to spend more time with you, but if you normally move on all the way if you move on, I'd like to know that."

"And I'm moving on?" Katzi asked, somewhat amused by the fact that for a change, the 'let's move on' talk was given to her instead of she being the one giving it.

"Katzi, I knew exactly what I was getting in to when I approached you the day before yesterday. I knew that I'd be nothing more than just another notch on your belt for you; another conquest. But that's alright. I wanted to experience what it was like to make love, and I'm glad that the person who taught me was someone that knew exactly what she was doing. You were great, wonderful... it was so much more than I had even expected."

"Why thank you," Katzi said amused. "But let me assure you, you weren't that bad yourself. Inexperienced, yes, but you can be inexperienced and still damn good. In fact, I was very happy to hear you ask 'can we do that again tomorrow' afterwards. You know, you are partially right; I knew you would be easy."

It was blunt, but true. But Katzi figured that if Pagsha could admit that she had slept with her to gain experience, she herself could admit that she had slept with Pagsha because the woman had practically begged her to sleep with her.

"If I move on I could have fun here," Katzi continued. "I have a feeling that with more and more Borg drones becoming Individualist drones this place is a dream come true for me. Women, lots of women, to have fun with. And not just that, also lots of new species. I could not only have a belt with notches for women I slept with, but also an entirely different belt for women of different species I slept with."

A little nod in Pagsha's direction. "I already managed one. Yes, I could have a lot of fun here on Unimatrix 01." Katzi was quiet for a moment waiting until she had eye contact with Pagsha before asking softly, "But what if that's no longer what I want?"

"What do you mean?" Pagsha asked confused.

"My accident made something clear to me," Katzi said, breaking the eye contact and lowering her eyes for a moment.

When she looked up again there was something in those eyes Pagsha hadn't seen before, something she liked a lot though.

"Pagsha, including you, I have slept with forty-eight women. About half of which I've slept with more than once. But you know... when I was lying in that healer's hut... I was alone. Some friends came to see me when they could, but I didn't have a partner. Someone who would just sit with me because of nothing more than the simple fact that she wanted to spend time with me, no matter what my condition was. I never knew how lonely my life was. I..."

Katzi looked away. She had always been so good with words, why was it suddenly so hard? She forced herself to look up again, look into those open eyes, never seeing any difference between real brown and artificial gray, only seeing concern and confusion. "I was so damn alone. I shared my bed with so many, but when it came down to it I was alone. Pagsha, I don't want to be alone anymore."

"Wha... just what are you saying?" Pagsha asked, not daring to hope that she was hearing what she thought she was hearing.

"Last night... I saw something in your eyes..."

"My eye you mean," Pagsha corrected.

"Your eyes," Katzi corrected back. "I saw something I liked a lot, something I wouldn't mind seeing every day. Pagsha, I know I'm not the easiest person to trust, having slept with every woman that winked at me. But if you give me the trust to not stray, if you believe me when I say that I would really like to try and make things work with you, if you can do that... I promise you that I'm yours, and yours alone. I'm not going to tell you that I'll be yours forever; I can't look into the future. Who knows, maybe we start hating each other's guts in a few weeks. But I promise you; as long as we are in a relationship you'll be the only woman I'll make love to."

"Or have sex with?" Pagsha asked.

"Or touch, or be touched by, in any sexual way at all," Katzi said, wanting to be very clear.

"I find it interesting that 'you' are asking 'me' to be in a relationship," Pagsha said with a smile.

"Don't you know?" Katzi asked, smiling as well. "The best of warriors always fall for the innocent ones. Pagsha, I know you would like to have a relationship with me. I'll be honest with you, I have seen that look in your eyes before; enough times to make it a double digit number. I never cared before... No, that's not right, I did care. I got a thrill out of knowing that they wanted me but couldn't have me anymore because I decided to move on. I have played with women, hurt them, broke hearts... I'm sick of it. All the games. All the mindless sex. When it came down to it, when I needed someone..."

She stopped speaking when the words got stuck in her throat. Never before in her life had saying words hurt so much. She wanted to look away. Away from those concerned eyes across from her. She didn't. She knew that she had to go on, for the both of them.

"When it came down to it, when all I needed was someone to kiss my forehead and tell me that it was all going to be alright... I was alone. Please Pagsha, I don't want to be alone anymore. I want you in my life. Please don't think that I want just anyone and you just happen to be a convenient person. I want YOU in my life. I want there to be an 'us' when I speak about me. And I want that other part of that 'us' to be you. What do you say? Do you want to give it, us, a try?"

Pagsha couldn't believe what she was hearing. She had been raised with the idea that a relationship was a marriage with a man that she had to share with over at least ten other women. But here was a woman, the woman of her dreams even, asking her, almost begging her, to be in a two person relationship. Asking her, begging her, to be part of a two person 'us.' There was no question in Pagsha's mind about what her answer was.

"Do I ever. Yes, most definitely yes," Pagsha agreed with a broad smile. "You know, I thought that this was going to be a goodbye dinner, instead it turned out to be a..." A frown. "A..."

"A commitment dinner," Katzi supplied helpfully.

"Commitment dinner?"

"Yes, with us Zamonan, if we get interested in someone, we commit ourselves. Don't worry, it's nothing too hefty. It just means that I'm yours and your are mine... And that anyone that also wants to start a relationship with you better be prepared to go through me first, because as long as you don't break off the relationship with me, I have the right to kick some sense into anyone daring to go after you."

"My, doesn't that sound possessive. Does that mean that you are all mine too? That I can call you mine in front of others?"

"It does, and you can."

Their food was brought out and with a smile they started to eat. "So does that mean that after dinner you'll go home with me and teach me a couple of more things?" Pagsha asked with a wink.

"It would be both our pleasure," Katzi said, returning the wink.

They ate a few minutes in silence in which Katzi noticed that Pagsha's eyes were drifting all over her body. Even though she had gotten the black body armor uniform, Katzi was off duty and at those times she still preferred to wear her Zamonan leathers, and the short skirt and halter top left not much to imagination.

"Will you do me a favor?" Pagsha finally asked.

"If I can, sure."

"As long as we are in a relationship, could you keep looking like that?"

"This?" Katzi asked, looking down her own body. "Well, actually, I was thinking of trying to get back to the way I was."

"More muscles?" Pagsha asked excited.

"A bit, more like getting them more defined," Katzi said, amused when she saw an expression starting to form on Pagsha's face that she had seen the night before as well. Pagsha was getting excited.

"But you don't go into those bulky muscles that serve no real purpose, right?"

Wanting to test her theory, Katzi put down her spoon and flexed her bicep, making the muscle stand out. She moved the index finger of her other hand over the muscle from beginning to end.

"No, see how my muscles are still covered just enough to give nice slopes where the muscles begin instead of those hard corners? I like that, and I want to keep that."

The finger moved to the underside of the arm while she flexed her arm a little differently to make that muscle stand out. "No, I want to concentrate more on the harder to train places like here..." Another finger move. "...And here."

Seeing the look on Pagsha's face Katzi started laughing. "We're supposed to be eating, wipe away that drool will you."

Pagsha grinned. "I can't help it; I like muscles."

"You really are easy, aren't you? All I'll ever have to do is flex my arms or stretch my back and you'll be all over me. Now tell me, why would I even try talking up another woman to get her to sleep with me when all I have to do with you... is get naked? Just say 'let's go to bed' and start to undress and you'll be right there, helping me undress even faster."

Pagsha laughed at the question and statement. "You're right; I'll doubt that you'll ever be able to take your shirt off without my hands being all over you."

Then she frowned. "Um, about the easy. I don't want you to have the wrong impression."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean that as an insult or anything," Katzi was quick to say as she moved her now empty plate aside. "I won't,"

"No, that's alright. You're more than welcome to say that. In fact, um," A small blush. "I kinda like being easy for you." A deep breath. "I just want it to be clear that I'm only easy for you. Please don't think, or worry, that I'm going to be just as easy for others. I," Pagsha stopped talking as their empty plates were removed.

Neither of them had any real interest in more food, but both of them had a feeling that the conversation they had now was best finished in a safe place, a place where they wouldn't give in to urges they both had at that moment. So a second round of food was ordered. Katzi settled for the fruit bowl while Pagsha chose the dessert platter. Once they were alone again, Pagsha continued, head lowered a little and looking up at Katzi through her eyelashes.

"Since we're going to try and make this work, let me tell you something. You are my fantasy come to life, literally. When I touched myself before, I fantasized about this female warrior. Muscles all over her body, but muscles that are from real training, not just for show. Tall, with broad shoulders. Likes to take charge in the relationship, but doesn't boss me around. Firm, but caring and understanding. You know, when my Queen and Princess were looking for an assistant, the Borg had my character traits listed as; pragmatic pacifistic but unyielding protector, docile but determined. The Borg were right. I don't like to fight, but will fight for what I believe in. I don't want to be in charge, but do want to be able to stubbornly stick to something I believe in. I want someone to take charge, I want a partner with dominating tendencies, but that would never think of wanting to actually control me. As long as you're that to me, with keeping in mind that if I give my final say on something that it really is my final say, even if you don't like it. If you give me that, you better believe me that I'll always be easy for you. If you want me, whenever you want me, you'll have me."

"Even if you're not really in the mood?" Katzi asked surprised. She was used to having Zamonan lovers, of whom even the non-warriors were used to deciding for themselves if they were in the mood for some fun. Katzi had prided herself on the fact that she had been able to make more than enough of them change their mind about whether or not they were in the mood. But never before had she met someone who was willing to give herself so completely, someone that was almost certain to at all times react positively to her amorous advances.

"Even if I'm not really in the mood," Pagsha affirmed. "After all, just touching you will put me in the mood."

"Deal," Katzi said decisive. "But one condition. If you're..." Katzi wiggled her hand back and forth... "Eh, not really in the mood, I still get what I want, but if you're really for real not in the mood, you tell me and I'll promise you I'll stop." Katzi grinned before adding. "Of course, you will have to make it up to me at a later time when you are in the mood."

"Oh, I think I'll like that," Pagsha said, already looking forward to the tall woman having her way with her on a regular basis. "But to be clear. That's what I want privately. When I'm on duty, I'll take my responsibility seriously and as that First Officer, I'll have no problem with ordering you around if that's needed."

"And I wouldn't want to have it any other way," Katzi assured before asking, "But do you really want such a... dominant partner in your life? I mean, it's easily said here, and it might even be what you fantasize about, but fantasy is fun; reality can be harsh."

"Yes, most definitely yes. As I said, I don't want someone that tries to boss me around, but someone that takes charge. I don't want to get asked 'what do you want to do today?' I want to get asked, 'I'm thinking of us doing this today, sound good?"

"As long as you're being kinda asked and get the opportunity to say that you don't feel like doing that, right?"

"Right. So, are you up to taking charge?"

Katzi grinned, she actually loved the idea. "As you just said; yes, most definitely yes."

She looked down at her bowl of fruit to pick one to nibble on, but after a few seconds her eyes still hadn't come back up. Finally she spoke up, her eyes still on the bowl of fruit. "About me training again, there's one effect it has on my body besides building my muscles It removes fat from my body... my breasts will get even smaller."

Finally she looked back up into the eyes across from her. "I know you liked to play with them."

"Smaller, or small to the point of basically nonexistent?" Pagsha asked, amazed how the self-confident woman across from her could turn so insecure in mere seconds.

"Smaller," Katzi said. She picked up a fruit about the size of her fist and used the table knife to cut it in half from top to bottom. "Before the accident, which is the stage I want to get back to, my breasts were about this big."

Katzi handed the half fruit to Pagsha. "Only wider of course. I won't have a lump like that. I'll still have slopes, just not much of a mountain, if you know what I mean."

Pagsha looked at the fruit for a moment before looking back at Katzi and running her tongue across the roundness of the half fruit in a way that made Katzi look around to see if others had seen the overly suggestive sight; apparently nobody did.

"That's alright," Pagsha assured. "Still plenty to play with, especially since the real things will be peaked by those very tasty nipples of yours."

"So you don't mind? Getting my body the way I like it, and keeping it like that, will take continues work. It would eat into any times we are off at the same time."

"That depends."


"On whether or not I can watch you train, and have my way with you after seeing your muscles move has made me horny like there's no tomorrow."

Katzi laughed at the remark. Oh it was going to be fun spending time with Pagsha. More so because finally here was a woman that didn't mind at all if Katzi spent hours training... as long as she could watch. "Oh, I think I'd really enjoy such a nice end to my training, my Little One."

"Little One?" Pagsha asked before grinning, showing Katzi how much she liked the sound of the endearment. She picked up one of the smaller desserts, bit off the tip and then spent a moment to use the tip of her tongue to liberate some of the cream inside. Seeing how Katzi was looking at her tongue move, Pagsha made a little show of slowly swallowing the cream.

"Now," Pagsha finally said. "Are we going to finish this food, or are we going to get out of here for an entirely different kind of dessert?"

As an answer Katzi stood up and offered Pagsha a hand. "Shall we?"

"We definitely shall."


Chapter 29

The reign of One of Many, née Annika Hansen; Queen of Borg.

Year 00, Month 6, Day 16, Hour 9, Minute 3.

Seven, B'Elanna, and Pagsha, looked at Anidan who was pacing back and forth in front of a presentation screen.

"The thing is that I can only guess how things will work. To be sure we need to test them so that we can see how they work and if I can maybe improve the item before it is used on every Borg ship or planet."

"You have been doing tests with drone ships," Seven noted.

"Yes," Anidan agreed. "But that only takes me so far. The size of the ships are normally still in the shuttle range so I can't test things that simply won't fit on the drone ships. For instance, I can't test an improvement to the code four, or bigger, warp core simply because they are bigger than the drone ship."

"So what do you suggest instead?" Seven asked.

"Well," Anidan said slowly. "Obviously a cube is the most common Borg ship. So just as obviously most of my bigger inventions or improvements are destined to be installed on cubes. I would suggest we use them for testing as well. On my Homeworld, when something had to be tested with ships, be it water, land, air, or space, we would often use something we called X ships. The X being short for Experimental. So I would like it if we could do that with cubes too. If there is something that needs to be tested in real settings, after I did all the holodeck tests, then one of the new cubes that is being built at that moment is designated an X cube and the new system is then installed there. That way the system is tested under real circumstances."

Seven looked at B'Elanna and Pagsha for a moment to see if one of them wanted to comment, also showing them that way that she wasn't resolutely against the idea. So if they were, now was the time to speak up.

B'Elanna wasn't against the idea either, but she did have a few things to point out. "The problem with experiments is that sometimes they go wrong. There is the potential of something going wrong on those X cubes and them being destroyed in the process."

"That chance always exists," Anidan was forced to admit.

"Even though the Borg don't use money and don't have to pay for things in that way, those things are still expensive," B'Elanna continued. "Resources harvested, time spent to build it. And let's not forget that the average cube is manned by 5,000 drones standard, and can actually be manned by up to 180,000 drones. So wouldn't it be better if instead we build some computer operated shells of ships that the experimental device can then be built into?"

Anidan shook her head. "I thought of that one as well. It would still not be a real test. Of course, if you want it could be an extra step in between inventing the devices and installing them on cubes. But for a real test you need a real and fully operational cube. As you know, any body in space creates its own gravity field. We never notice it on ships because the artificial gravity we use is much stronger in comparison. We don't notice it because the artificial gravity counters it, but even when we are simply walking through the corridors, the own gravity of Unimatrix 01 is actually pulling us all ever so slightly to the center of the ship. The problem is that not all places on a ship are exposed to that artificial gravity. We have parts on this ship where artificial gravity is pulling a person walking through a corridor to the left, while the natural gravity of Unimatrix 01 is pulling the entire corridor to the right. We just don't notice it because the structure of the ship prevents the corridor from actually moving to the right."

"Your point being?" B'Elanna asked.

"My point being that this real gravity also influences certain things that have to be kept in mind with certain devices."

"Like the pressure operated trigger in transwarp coils," Pagsha spoke up. "Those are regulated by the change in real gravity; the faster a ship moves, the more real gravity shifts to the back and the more the sensors register pressure, giving you an extremely precise reading of your real speed."

Anidan, who had actually invented the transwarp coils the Borg used in recent years merely shrugged. "It was a simple addition. And best of all because real gravity is always there, it's a way that always gives you the right readings unless the coils are broken beyond use."

Then she looked back at Seven. "But it's much more than that. For instance, the warp core of a cube gives a very faint hum just like all warp cores. That hum resonates throughout the entire ship; the reason why you still hear it even if you are as far away from the core as possible while still being in the ship. Such frequency can also affect other devices. I can test, say a new atmospheric regulator until I'm blue in the face..."

Anidan hesitated for a moment before grinning, "Well, if I was blue in the face it would mean that the device is not working, wouldn't it?"

The others laughed at the sudden humor coming from the otherwise so serious Engineer.

Then Anidan continued. "But then the device is installed on a cube and the warp core frequency would then be just at the right level to shake the device to bits. Or what about stresses? 5,000 drones walking around in a ship puts certain stresses on that ship. We need these stresses to see if they affect the devices."

"I can see your point," Seven agreed. "However, the risk is still a factor."

"Maybe we can have the Individualist drone system help," Pagsha suggested. "We could staff those cubes with drones that are interested in technical things; staff the cubes with technically inclined species. And on top of that have those drones be drones of which scans have proven that they will know how to act directly and fast in case of an emergency."

"Would escape pods change the cube too much?" B'Elanna wondered. "Otherwise we could compensate for the higher risk level by make the cubes easier to evacuate if needed."

Anidan turned to the presentation screen and brought up the schematics of a standard cube. "Well, it depends on where you put them and how big they are," she finally said. "But I do think that if put in the right places they would not influence the outcome of tests too much. Meaning only on such a small level that if the test has been passed than the chances are small to nonexistent that there will be problems if used on a regular cube."

They looked at Seven to see what her decision would be. After thinking about it for a moment, Seven nodded. "Very well, you will have your X program. However, I want those cubes reused. We staff the cubes with technically inclined personnel; I also want to keep them busy after that first round of tests. So cubes will be designated X cubes and major changes will be made to them as you need them. But once the cube is in use they will also be used for doing tests on things that can be done by simply building something on a ship that does not require changing the structure of the ship."

"Hey, I'm all for that," Anidan assured. "It will give me the perfect chance to have smaller things tested. There are a lot of things that the Borg already use that I think can be improved. Also, the major tests in the beginning... even there we can combine a few things. I mean, if a cube has a new warp core design that needs testing, that doesn't mean that we can't also use that same cube to test a new tractor beam."

"True," Seven agreed. "Very well, time to move on to the next point."

The reign of One of Many, née Annika Hansen; Queen of Borg.

Year 00, Month 06, Day 17, Hour 13, Minute 04.

"You wanted to see me, my Queen?" Katzi asked.

Seven was slightly surprised by the way Katzi addressed her. The 'my Queen' had become common for the Individualist drones, so that wasn't a surprise. What was a surprise was that Katzi, as a Zamonan, called her my Queen.

"Please sit down." Once Katzi had done so, Seven continued. "You are free to call me One of Many if the title 'my Queen' causes conflicts with who you see as your ultimate commander, me or Queen Erda."

"I know, my Queen. I will go back to calling Queen Erda 'my' Queen when I leave the Borg."

"Well, in that case, the reason I called you. You regenerated yesterday. Was everything to your satisfaction?"

"It was. It's a little like going to sleep, but different. More like some kind of lively dream in which you learn stuff. But it wasn't the first time I regenerated."

"I know," Seven agreed.

It had been Seven herself that had brought up to the Collective that simply thrusting people into being a Borg drone might be a counteractive procedure, even if some time later they would be brought out of the Collective again because they were designated to be Individualist drones. Seven had pointed out that suddenly bening totally severed from the Collective could be traumatic for a drone, which meant that suddenly being thrust into being a full drone could be just as traumatic.

So it had been decided that the first month of service would be a gradual joining, unless of course it was a short living person of who would serve less than a year in the Borg. In that month they would only regenerate the normal timeframes and the rest of the time they would explore their new living and working environment, and they would study what kind of jobs there were to be done in the Borg.

Seeing that these new people would join the Borg as Individualist drones it was considered convenient if they could do a job they actually liked doing. When the month was over they would have to hand in a list of in what priority they would like to perform what tasks. If there was still room in the job they wanted to do most they would be appointed that task. If not then it would be seen if the second favorite job was available, and so on. Katzi was still in that stage of only having to regenerate and exploring her environment.

"You have been told that whenever you start regenerating your memory is scanned."

"Sure, and everything deemed irrelevant is filtered out," Katzi said. "My Queen, if this is about Pagsha and me,"

"Rest assured, whatever transpired between Pagsha and you has not been uploaded to the Hive mind. Anything B'Elanna and I know on the matter we know from Pagsha herself. But since you brought up the subject, Pagsha told us about your commitment to her. I am pleased to hear that. B'Elanna and I consider Pagsha a very dear friend, and we are glad to hear that she has found someone that fits all her wishes so perfectly. I merely regret that you had to break your back in order for that to happen."

"I'm not," Katzi assured. "If I hadn't broken my back I would never have met her, at most I might have seen her walking through the village. Meeting her... it was well worth those four months of pain."

Now Seven smiled. "And I am also glad to see that what Dasia said is true; if a Zamonan falls, she falls hard. But no, Pagsha is not the reason I wanted to see you. The reason I wanted to see you is because yesterday there was for the first time something in your mind scan that caught the interest of the Borg, and that was brought to my attention."

"Really?" Katzi asked while she shot a quick look to the corner of the room, where B'Elanna was in deep discussion with Third officer Anidan Dubinak. "Um, what did I do?"

"Rest assured, there was nothing about your scan that was considered harmful. If there was, the last thing that would happen would be that you would be brought to me like this," Seven said. "It is not a wise move to, for instance, bring someone in front of the Queen that has formed ideas about killing the Queen. But, the protection of the Queen has been on your mind. The scan has shown that you think it unwise that the Queen, me, is being protected by whatever drones happen to be available for that job at the time."

"Well, yeah, I have been thinking about that," Katzi agreed. "At home, we also don't just let anyone guard the Queen; we have the Royal Guards, which are especially trained for the job. I think it would be much better if you also had Royal Guards of sorts; certain drones that are always the same drones. That way you could have those drones be especially equipped for the job, and it could be Individualist drones that could be trained for the job so that they also know how to do it if for some reason the link to the Hive is interrupted. Also, sometimes protection requires creative thinking, and let's face it, creative thinkers connected drones are not. You..." Katzi stopped as Seven lifted her hand a little.

"Very well thought out arguments, but there is no need to try and convince me. The Borg, and B'Elanna and I, already agreed this morning that there would indeed be Royal Guards created. Four drones will be selected which have the sole purpose of mine and B'Elanna's protection. If the situation calls for more protection than four drones, regular drones will be added. I just wanted to let you know that we appreciate your interest in our wellbeing, and we thought that you would like to know that it was indeed your idea that sparked the sudden creation of a Royal Guard."

"If you are creating a Royal Guard, I would like to apply for the Job... if that is possible," Katzi spoke up quickly.

Seven looked to her side and just like she knew she would, she saw that B'Elanna had focused her attention on the conversation as well.

"Anidan, would you mind if we take a little break?" B'Elanna asked.

"Not at all, seems that you have a rather interesting situation going on over there. Should I leave?"

"I don't think it's needed. Feel free to use the replicator to get something to drink." With that B'Elanna joined Seven at the table Seven always used to talk to people.

It had been a very conscious choice. There would be no throne, no Royal conference room. Discussions would simply be held in a relatively basic nondescript room for now, and once the bridge was finished, the same conference room would be used that the Senior Staff used for all its meetings.

"Since we agreed in the beginning that the Borg could have a say in our protection, the Borg will decide on the drones that are best suited for the position," Seven meanwhile said. "However, if you really want we can enter you as a suggestion from our side. I am sure that the Borg would let that weigh in heavily and would have to find something unsuitable about you to not take you as one of those drones. But I am wondering if you have thought this through. Your own idea was that the drones could be specially equipped for their task; the Borg did take that idea. If you were to become a drone slotted for Royal Guard there would be substantial modification made to your body, not all of which would be reversible if you do leave the Borg."

"Fair enough," Katzi agreed with a nod. "What changes are the Borg thinking about?"

Before Seven answered she went rigid for almost a second. Since Katzi had seen Pagsha do the same, she knew that Seven had just connected with the Hive mind.

"The list is actually quite extensive," Seven said before starting to mention the list. "There are the obvious implants like the cranial implant, the nanoprobes, the strengthening of the skeleton by a layer of Duranium. The lungs would also be strengthened, but not replaced, in an effort to make it possible for you to breathe different air mixes. Your hearing would be enhanced, but this does not entail any changes to your hearing as such. There would be an implant placed between your ears and the brain, basically an amplifier. Your strength would be increased by approximately one hundred percent. One eye would be removed to be replaced with an artificial one. After all, the night vision and zoom options are capabilities that greatly enhance guarding abilities."

"That doesn't sound too bad," Katzi said. "The eye, would I get an eye like Pagsha has?"

"You would."

"You know, just a suggestion, but you might want to look into giving that thing a color. Mind you, I don't mean coloring the entire lens, I know that doing so would negatively affect the 'eye.' But I don't see any reason why the gray metal couldn't be painted in the color of the remaining eye." Katzi smiled a little sheepishly. "Um, I guess that it wouldn't be a problem with me, since I have gray eyes anyway."

Hearing the talk about the implants, Engineer Anidan came closer. Seven indicated the fourth seat at the table and Anidan sat down besides Katzi.

Seeing that these important women were apparently interested in what she had to say, Katzi went on. "I know that it doesn't change the look of the 'eye,' and that's also not the point. Pagsha actually likes the reminder. She likes being part of the Borg, and every time she sees her reflection, she sees that reminder; she is Borg. But, well, it's the simple things. Like... I like to look her in the 'eyes,' like to tell her what I see in her eyes, but I can't even tell her that I like looking into her brown eyes. I have to tell her that I like looking into her eyes, or I have to tell her that I like looking into her brown and gray eye. A little bit of color could change so much."

"A thin layer of paint over the metal parts wouldn't be a problem," Anidan assured. "We could ask someone what color they would like when we talk to them about implanting the eye."

"Well, if the artificial eye is needed for the job of Royal guard, I'm willing to do it," Katzi said, not wanting to stray too much from the talk about the job she wanted. "Pagsha told me that the artificial eye feels just like the real one once did. And that there's no difference at all in what she sees with the eyes, with the exception that the artificial eye has some very handy functions she can switch on. Like the night vision and the zoom, and the thermal imaging."

"Actually, Katzi," Seven said. "What I have told you until now were the less intrusive adaptations. Your entire digestive system would also be removed, right after the stomach. You would still be able to eat like you do now, but right after leaving your stomach the food would be turned into energy by the implants."

"Can't have the guards leave their post to go take a leak, now can we?" B'Elanna said, making the reason blunt, but very clear.

"You mean I would never have to... again?"

"Never again," B'Elanna said, before grinning. "If you and Pagsha are into it, the cleanness can be very convenient."

"I see," Katzi said. It still didn't sound too bad. Never having to use the toilet again sure didn't sound that bad to her.

"You would get an abdominal implant like mine," Seven continued. "Considering that the sole duty of these drones is to guard, they will have to have the abdominal implant instead of the vest so that the force-field body armor can be activated at all times with nothing more than a thought, instead of first having to get the vest and put it on."

"I see," Katzi said again, now in a completely different tone. She looked at Seven's abdomen, as much of it as she could see over the table edge, and tried to see the metal bands below her clothing.

"Here," Anidan said separating the two parts of her body armor and pulling up the upper part to just below her breasts so that Katzi could see the abdominal implant. Even though Anidan had designed the force field body armor vest, she had opted to use the new abdominal implant; though her choice was more driven by convenience than protection. With the abdominal implant Anidan could do the same as Seven; regenerate in a conscious state, with the tubes attached to her back, giving her more time to work on projects. Considering the improvements she had brought to the Borg during her Individualist state, the Collective had agreed to this special way of regenerating for her. The only condition being that one regeneration cycle every month she would regenerate by joining the Collective. Anidan had agreed.

Katzi looked at the implant for a moment, fascinated by how the bands seemed to move with every breath Anidan took, despite the fact that the bands looked like solid metal. "It looks like it's imbedded in the skin. Doesn't it restrict your movements?"

"The bands are indeed implanted in the skin," Anidan agreed as she lowered the uniform. While she connected the two parts again she continued to explain. "The bands pass through the entire upper and lower layer of skin, but don't go into deeper layers of flesh. There are supports going from the bands to the bones of the body, but they strengthen the body; not limit it. The biggest parts of the implant, like the force field generator, is located in the back; under the skin. To make room for that a part of the spine is removed. But the good thing is, where the old implant did indeed limit your movement quite some, this one actually increases you movement. It makes you more flexible."

"But it doesn't really affect the muscles, I can still keep those as I have, and train them?" Again a sheepish smile. "Pagsha seems to like them even more than I do."

"You can," Anidan assured. "And you indeed have to keep training. Otherwise the muscles will return to normal condition, which is pretty much what I have."

"Alright, I'll do it," Katzi said confidently.

"Katzi, there is one more thing," Seven said before looking down at Katzi's left hand.

"The access tubes?" Katzi asked having a feeling that this would be part of the requirements.

"Actually more than that. The Borg decided that the Royal Guard drones should have a weapon that is attached to the body, like the abdominal implant is, so that the Guard drone can not accidentally misplace the weapon, or lose it in a hostile situation."

Seeing the confused look on Katzi's face as the woman was wondering just where they could put a weapon, Seven clarified. "Your left lower arm would be completely amputated right below the elbow. An artificial arm would be attached that does have the access tubes, but more importantly, also has a phaser imbedded. The room for the phaser and the needed energy cells is the reason why the entire lower arm has to be artificial."

Katzi paled and with open mouth she looked at her left arm. She slowly folder her fingers into a fist before finally just as slowly turning the fist left and right so that she could look at it from both sides. All the time taking in the play of the shifting muscles in the arm. She had trained her entire life to have her arm look like that. Her arm. Her flesh. Could she literally give up a part of herself to get the job? But then she wondered. If it was possible for her to get the job, could she really give up the job just to save her arm? She was applying for a job that might one day mean that she would have to give her life to do her job. Her life. Was it worth part of her body to get the job that she would be willing to give her life for?

Finally she placed her hand flat on the table and looked up with unwavering determination. "Whatever it takes."

"What does this weapon arm look like?" B'Elanna asked.

"The Borg have several weapons that can be attached to amputated arms," Seven said. "Despite that, I believe that none of them would really qualify because all of them mean the actual replacement of the hand with the weapon. However, the loss of a hand would be unacceptable for a drone that might need both hands to prevent someone from harming me. I believe that the actual design of the weapon arm will, once again, be up to Anidan."

"Well, I don't think it be that much of a problem really," Anidan assured.

In fact, in her mind she had the rough idea already worked out. That was one of the reasons why she was such an excellent Engineer. She not only saw how things looked, but also how they could look. If someone described something to her, or she thought of something, then that was immediately translated into a basic image in her mind. She 'saw' how it looked and then only had to figure out how to get to that stage. The weapon's arm was easy in comparison to some other things. Now all that was needed was for her to sit at a table and think about just what components to use.

"Give me a couple of hours in my workshop and I think I'll have a working prototype for you."

"In that case, what are you thinking about?" B'Elanna wondered.

"Well, first to reassure the tall one here, I think that the looks won't suffer much. Lonika will be able to make the outside look and feel just like your real arm. Except if you squeeze it too hard, you'll feel the metal structure inside instead of the bones, of course. But if you hold it normally, like if someone... a certain woman we all know for instance... were to just hold your arm, it will feel normal to her. Same goes for those muscles she seems to like so much. You'll still see those muscles move that you were just looking at when you move your arm like you just did. Only that you will know that they aren't real. With the regular maintenance intervals the artificial skin and muscles can be changed to reflect the trained state the rest of your body is in. After all, you don't want an arm with my muscle tone on your body. It would look weird and make it very obvious that the arm isn't real. So all in all the arm will look just like the one you now have, but there will have to be two metal parts on it."

"Why?" Katzi asked.

"As Seven said, there must be room for the weapon and the energy cells. Which means that those will be permanently inside the arm. Any maintenance of that will mean cutting the artificial skin. But I have a tool to fix that skin, which I'll give you. Kinda like a dermal regenerator. You'll be able to 'heal' the artificial skin with it, if the damage is not too big. The energy cells will obviously need recharging. While normal charging to keep the cells full can be done during regeneration, there must also be a way of charging the cells without regenerating. In case you used the weapon and the situation is still not secure enough to go regenerating. So I was thinking of having an access point... a plug if you like... close to the elbow on the underside of the arm, since the energy cells will be placed to the back of the arm. The weapon itself is a little bit trickier. You will have to be able to use it without shooting your own hand off. So I was thinking more like there being a bigger point on the upper side of the arm, right above the wrist which can open up and where the weapon's head can come out. By placing it close to the wrist on the upper side of the arm, you can point the weapon by pointing your arm at the target and holding your hand down; no shooting off your own hand."

"How big a point?" Katzi asked.

"I don't know," Anidan said in a tone that sounded annoyed. "Look, I'm just making this crap up right here on the spot."

Remembering what Pagsha had said about how short, to the point of rude, the engineer could be... but that she wasn't really like that, and also remembering that this woman was actually a friend of her lover, Katzi gave her a small smile before asking, "An estimate. An educated guess from you is all I need."

Anidan scowled before suddenly lifting her eyebrows as if realization had struck her. "You have been taking lessons from Pagsha, haven't you?"

"Lessons? Let's just say that the Little One did talk about her friend."

"Little One?" Anidan asked.

"An endearment," Katzi assured. "I think it's a fitting one for a woman of who the top of her head comes just to the underside of my chin."

"Right," Anidan said with a grin. "Actually, fact is the head of the weapon needs to have a certain size, smaller and physics demand that the effect of the weapon also gets smaller. Add to that the feed line for the energy to the head, and you'll see that I'm not talking about literally a point. More like..."

Anidan took Katzi's hand from the table and folded away the fingers until only the ring and middle finger were still standing. "Rough estimate, since I really only am thinking this up right here, I would say a rectangle about the size of those two fingers. Beginning as I said just above the wrist and going up."

"But that thing is normally inside the arm if not used? So I assume that there is some cover over that place, which means that on my arm you just see the rectangle, a rectangle that folds open so that the head of the weapon can come out when I activate it? Does that mean that I can have the cover decorated? Engraved, painted?"

"Well, yeah, I guess. As long as the engraving isn't too deep, otherwise the cover plate has to obviously be made thicker. But don't expect me to do that for you. I'll make the cover plate and give you specs on how deep any engraving is allowed to be. What you do with that info is up to you. I'm not going to waste my time on crap like engravings... what did you want to put on there anyway?"

"I was thinking of some Zamonan symbols, maybe some scene from our history... but you know what? I think I just got a much better idea."

"Well, what are you thinking of?" Anidan urged on. When Katzi told her, Anidan had to laugh. "Alright, I just changed my mind. If you really want to put that on there. I'll make it for you. I'll even take a real break in my off duty time so that I can concentrate on it and make it look like a work of art."

"Deal," Katzi was quick to say.

"So you don't think that the design of the arm will take that much time?" B'Elanna asked, having long since gotten used to the fact that Anidan could create things quicker, and better, than B'Elanna and Seven could on Voyager... combined.

"Not really," Anidan said with a shrug. "After all, it's not like I actually have to design a weapon. I just have to place parts in a different place. I was thinking of using a standard Borg hand phaser as a base and move the parts around to make it work. You know... since I have the length of the lower arm to play with, I can actually use more power cells than the one that is used in a standard phaser. Maybe four, or even five. Which means, clearly, that the arm weapon will have about four or five times as many shots as a standard phaser."

Thinking about it for a moment, Anidan continued. "Hmm, I guess I could also go the other way, use the room to use a weapon that is more powerful than the standard phaser."

"Personally, I think you're on the right track to use the standard phaser," B'Elanna said. Yes, Anidan overshadowed B'Elanna easily with her abilities, but that didn't mean that B'Elanna stopped having ideas. Even now, with the knowledge of Anidan at their disposal, B'Elanna's ideas had brought more than one solution. And if not the solution, at least gave Anidan the idea to work with.

"See, if we know upfront that the situation is unsecure, then the guards can take phaser rifles or disrupters, or any of the hundreds of hands weapons we have at our disposal; heavy weapons taken care of. But, if we are trapped somewhere and have to fight it out, the extra energy cells can be very convenient. Because of those extra cells the guards could hold off threats for five times as long as someone with a standard hand phaser, or even a phaser rifle. After all, a phaser rifle has about as many shots as a hand phaser, just that the shots are more powerful."

Anidan nodded her agreement "Good point. I'll stick to the standard phaser strength with more energy cells."

Then she looked at Katzi when she realized something. "Actually, I just lied; the cover plate has to be about a centimeter longer than I just said it would. With the talk about the weapon I forgot the access tubes also still have to come out somewhere, might as well also put those under the cover and have the cover open if either the weapon or the tubes are used."

Looking at Seven, Anidan added, "My Queen, it really shouldn't be too hard to make. I see actually only two problems and one of those isn't even mine. The first problem is that I will have to come up with some kind of 'trigger' that allows the drone to fire the weapon without having to push some button. It'll have to be a mental command, kinda like the command to activate the access tubes. I have no idea yet how to do that, but I'm sure that it will come to me when I'm building the thing. The second problem is the normal body armor. If the drone is using the normal body armor, it's kinda hard to shoot. Not even only because of the fact that the body armor over the arm prevents the weapon from getting out of the arm, but also because of the not so small fact that the body armor is created for the exact purpose of stopping phaser and disruptor shots. In fact, the drone's own body armor would stop the drone's shot from actually reaching the enemy. But, as I said, that's not my problem. The body armor has to be adapted for that... unless you want the guards to waste time by having to pull up the sleeve of the body armor."

"And give a potential enemy all the time and warning that they are going to do something," B'Elanna added.

"I am sure a solution for the body armor will be found," Seven assured. There was no doubt in her mind that the man that had single handedly created the body armor would be able to solve something as simple as this small problem.

"You know, that whole implant thing isn't half as bad," Katzi said. "Well, apart from the whole arm removal thing."

"That's because you are choosing it and didn't have it done against your will," Anidan said with a trace of resentment in her tone.

"Anidan is correct," Seven agreed. "While you and other new drones will see the implants as an opportunity or even simply convenience, for us... we see it as a violation. For drones like Anidan and me the implants are something that was done to us against our will, something Anidan and I decided to live with now because we know that we are now in a position of preventing others having to go through what we have gone through."

"But the changes we are making will make it at least a little bit easier for old drones to deal with it," B'Elanna said. "The new implants at least bring the visual back to looking like their normal body, and the changes we have made in how drones are brought back into Individualist stage are already paying off. The councilors have really worked out well and most drones do indeed willingly stay as Individual drones. But, yeah, I eventually see a stage coming where people actually simply join the Borg to get implants. Which isn't a bad thing by itself. Even I have been thinking about getting some Borg modifications. We just have to make sure that people don't join just to get our weapons or armor. But, the mind scan everyone that gets onto Unimatrix 01 has to go through should take care of that. We can simply extend that later to wherever someone wants to join the Borg, they get scanned."

"And of course, don't let drones leave the Collective with certain implants when their time in the Borg is up," Anidan added. "Like the weapon arm. We leave the artificial arm, obviously, but we take out the weapon. Maybe put in some very convenient tools to make up for the fact that at one point they gave their arm to serve the Borg."

"You want to get implants?" Seven asked B'Elanna surprised, not at all forgetting that B'Elanna had just mentioned that so casually.

"Yeah, I was kinda thinking about it lately. Sorry about bringing it up here baby. I really wanted to talk to you about it, it just slipped out now because I was using it as an example."

"What implants were you thinking about?" Seven asked.

"Nothing too radical," B'Elanna assured. "More like stuff that is pretty much standard for a new drone anyway. You know, the nanoprobes. The Duranium layer on the bones, which is done by the nanoprobes anyway. The enhanced hearing. Again, nothing too serious since that is nothing more than an amplifier being put between the ears and the brain. Um, what else? Oh, the neck implant of course, if for nothing more than the fact that I then can actually wear the force-field body armor should the situation ever call for it. And now that Anidan has perfected it, the Borg transmitter. I really like the idea that I can use it to look things up in the Hive mind, contact the computer, listen to the Borg voices actually teaching me a thing or two... but also can switch it to the private setting so that I can contact people that aren't actually standing beside me. And not to forget that I can talk to you on the private connection when you're doing your 'Borg stuff' and I'm doing my 'Borg stuff' on different parts of the ship. Oh, yeah, I definitely want that transmitter. And that's pretty much it already. Oh, no, there is one more thing, and this is a have to have. I want that." At the word 'that' B'Elanna had pointed to the implant above Seven's eye.

"Why would you want that?" Seven asked confused. "With the implant's new design this implant has become redundant."

B'Elanna smirked. "Baby, the fact that it's redundant is why I want it. You're the only one in the entire Borg Collective that has that thing because it's a part of the old eye implant. Old drones will still have the full eye implant, and the new drones and old drones that have been brought into Individualist status, have the new artificial eye. So you're the only one that has that thing. I want one too. You know, kinda showing people that we belong together. Who knows, maybe we could make it a Royal Family thing and our daughter can have it too when she's grown up."

"If she so chooses," Seven said. She and B'Elanna long since had the talk about implants for their child, and had agreed that not using implants that could be removed again would be plain stupid. But they would make sure that all implants the child would get would be implants that could be removed without leaving any damage, and only when the child was old enough to choose for herself would she get the option of choosing implants that were permanent.

"If she so chooses," B'Elanna agreed. "But Royal Family implants is something we can discuss later, let's get back to the matter at hand."

"Well, since you are talking about 'hand'," Anidan, spoke up, "I'll need a test drone to fit the arm weapon to when it's completed. Seeing that Katzi here volunteered to become a Royal Guard, I would suggest just fitting her with the new arm weapon. It's simpler than bringing a drone with a fully amputated arm into Individualist stage just so that it can do the same testing that Katzi can do."

"Which also brings us to the point that started this whole conversation," Seven said. "We do not even know if Katzi would be accepted as a Royal Guard. I suggest we find that out first. Katzi, final decision; do you want us to suggest you as a Royal Guard candidate?"

"My Queen, that decision was already final for me. Yes."

"Very well, I will suggest your name now," Seven said, never having left the Collective since she linked to it earlier on in the conversation. A second of silence, and then Seven smiled. "It seems that adding your name is not necessary. You are one of the people suggested by the Borg for the position."

"I am?" Katzi asked, proud to hear that apparently the Borg felt that she was so well suited for the job.

"Even though she hasn't been a part of the Collective yet, except for the regenerating?" Anidan asked surprised.

"Even so. The regenerating has been enough; her mind was scanned, her ideas were evaluated. Katzi is the fourth name on the list of suggested drones. Even though there are more than enough drones that have physical advantages over Katzi, the Hive feels that those physical advantages will be equaled out by the implants. It is Katzi's mental conditioning that makes her a suitable candidate, especially her life's ambition."

"So I got the Job?" Katzi asked, hope written all over her face.

Seven looked at B'Elanna whose answer was a small nod. Looking back to Katzi Seven said. "You got the job, as you call it. Katzi of the Erdania Village, as of now your Borg Designation is Katzi of Erdania Village, Royal Guard drone one. Be advised that as of now you fall outside the chain of command and only answer to One of Many and Two of Many. Your sole task is the protection of One of Many and Two of Many..." Seven looked at B'Elanna for a second and mouthed 'sorry' before looking back at Katzi and adding, "...in that order."

A warm hand on her leg told Seven that the 'sorry' wasn't needed.

"Congratulations," B'Elanna said to Katzi, at the same time squeezing Seven's leg reassuringly. Then she looked at Seven just to be sure and Seven gave her a small nod to indicate that B'Elanna could bring up what she and Seven had talked about earlier that day when they were discussing the creation of Royal Guards.

"She is suited for that part of the task as well, and I have no objection," Seven said. For a moment confusing the hell out of Katzi and Anidan.

"Um, should I..." Anidan asked, pointing over her back at the door. Offering once again to leave.

"Not needed. Besides, we'll probably need your input again soon anyway," B'Elanna assured before looking back at Katzi. "Katzi, there will be four Royal Guards so that if needed an armed square can be formed around Seven and me; giving protection and fire coverage from all sides. Both the Borg and us feel that four guards is enough because if more security is needed, tens, hundreds, thousands, hell millions, of 'guards' can be created by activating drones and having them equipped with a weapon. The Royal Guards are mainly for situations that seem secure but suddenly turn out not to be. Like... well, let's say the negotiations we had with your Zamonan Queen. The situation was secure, but there's always a chance that someone will suddenly pull a weapon, or shoot an arrow, or throw a knife. As I said, that's why there are four Royal Guards, but there are two main posts in the Royal Guard and we're hoping that you'll take one of them."

B'Elanna hesitated for a moment to think which position she should mention first. "The second specific task is the advanced planning of situations. If it's known where Seven and I are going to, this Royal Guard will be the one that plans the preliminary scans, decides if, and how many, extra drones are needed to secure safety. Because this task requires advanced tactical insight the drone that gets that job will undergo special training. If you want, you can be that drone, after having finished the training. But Seven and I were hoping that you would be interested in the first special task. Seven and I know that we'll have to let our guards close in order for them to do their job right. We talked about that when the Borg informed us that they would prefer that we did indeed have a Royal Guard. We also decided that, to make sure that we do at least still have some privacy left, we will select one of the guards that we'll choose every time one of the Guards would be witness to a very private part of our life; a private Royal Guard if you will. This so that our private life is at least only seen by one single other person, and not a different drone every day. We would appreciate it if you would be willing to take that position."

"What exactly do you mean with 'very private part'?" Katzi asked. "Are you talking about being inside your quarters when you're visiting somewhere while the rest secure the outside, or something else?"

"Basically, as private as one can get," Seven said. "If B'Elanna and I are not on Unimatrix 01, you will indeed be with us in the room at all times, every minute of the day. If we do leave Unimatrix 01 you will not have any 'off duty' time until we return to Unimatrix 01. You will never leave our side then. In fact, you are on those occasions not even allowed to leave our side even if I myself ordered you to do so; a condition the Hive asked for. That means that you will be witness to extreme private things like hearing us talk, seeing us naked when we shower, and even, if B'Elanna and I feel that the situation is secure enough, you will see things like extremely private touches between B'Elanna and I, down to us making love."

"Me?" Katzi asked surprised. "I, I mean, I'm flattered. But, hell, only months ago my Princess broke my jaw for touching you, and now you want me that close?"

"It's actually partially that exact point that makes us offer you this," B'Elanna explained. "You see, we don't just need someone that we feel comfortable with; we also need someone that is comfortable with us. We need someone that doesn't cringe when Seven and I kiss, or if I happen to swat her ass playfully. And we need someone that doesn't become uncomfortable when she happens to hear one of us scream out the name of the other. But the problem is that as much as we need that, we also need someone that doesn't get distracted. That can see us naked, but still can focus on her surroundings. And on top of that, also is comfortable with Seven and my banter. Of course, we don't know you that well, yet, but we've seen you with Pagsha, have seen how you smile when we tease Pagsha. We have a feeling that you wouldn't mind the same kind of bantering."

"I wouldn't," Katzi assured. Then she nodded. "Such private and complete guarding is what I would want to do. I promise you that you'll get nothing but absolute professionalism from me." She added that last part to make it absolutely sure that she would be professional and not use the opportunity to enjoy some nice scenes.

"We are glad to hear that," Seven assured. "As already mentioned, if we are away from Unimatrix 01 and even if the situation seems secure, you will still be stationed inside the room with us. Besides that, here on Unimatrix 01, you will be spending your entire on duty time with us unless we excuse you. Whereas the other three guards will do something else during their on duty time here on Unimatrix 01. As already mentioned, you will see things, hear things... in short, you will become part of our lives. That means that we will also ask things of you that have nothing to do with guard duty, but simply because you happen to be there."

"Yeah," B'Elanna added with a grin, making a small show of looking at Katzi's arms. "Can't expect us to lift heavy stuff ourselves when we have you with us, now can you?"

Then B'Elanna became serious again. "Believe me, we won't be using you as some glorified servant; Seven and I long since agreed that we don't want people around us that do every little damn thing for us. On the other side, I won't hesitate to ask you if you can get us some drinks if Seven and I and someone else are planning stuff again and you're just standing around anyway."

"I have no problem doing small things like that for people that are busy while I'm not," Katzi assured.

"Alright then," B'Elanna said with a nod before asking a final time, "Do you think you can handle being that kind of personal guard, or would you prefer if we chose one of the other drones to be that special guard?"

"I shall do whatever you require of me, My Princess, with the exception of commands that endanger your safety. If you give me the privilege of being your most personal guard, please also give me the trust to believe that I know what I'm doing, and believe me when I assure you that I think a situation is not safe. Please, don't put me in a position where I have to fight you to keep you safe."

"You have been studying up on Klingons, haven't you?" B'Elanna asked, crossing her arms and sitting back.

"I have," Katzi agreed. "A proud species of warriors, known for their tendency to bring the fight to their enemies... which is not something I would allow you to do."

"Allow?" B'Elanna asked with a growl.

Katzi took a deep breath, knowing that her next words could ruin everything, but also knowing that if she didn't say them, she would never be able to do her job right. "Yes, My Princess. Allow. As I said, please don't put me in a situation where I have to fight you to keep you safe. If need be, I would overpower you and bring you to safety. You might hate me for it, but the fact would be that you would still be alive so that you have the opportunity to hate me."

"You know something?" B'Elanna said with a growl, only to grin a moment later. "I think we'll get along just fine."

"I'm glad to hear that, My Princess," Katzi said with a small smile, but the relief was clear to see on her face.

"Katzi," Seven said when she heard the woman address B'Elanna. "Considering your new position, please call me Seven off duty, or when we are alone, and Two of Many B'Elanna."

Looking quickly to her side and Anidan sitting there, Katzi said hesitantly, "Yes... My Queen."

"And when we're in company of people that also call us by our first name when we're alone, right Anidan?" B'Elanna added.

"Right, B'Elanna," The Engineer said with a grin. Looking back at Katzi she asked, "So Royal Guard drone one, when would you like to get those implants?"

"Now?" Katzi merely said.

"Well, I did say that I could probably have the design for the arm ready in a couple of hours," Anidan said with a frown. "If Lonika started on the rest first, we can do the arm last. That'll give me about eight hours; that should do it. If the creation of the weapon really goes as smoothly as I hope then I could even have the time to create that cover I promised."

"Katzi, don't you want to talk this through with Pagsha first, or just think about it a little longer?" B'Elanna asked.

"Pagsha loves being part of the Borg, she'll have no problem with me also being a part of the Borg," Katzi said with a certain voice.

Then she was quiet for a moment before lowering her head a little. "Besides, if she can't understand why I have to do this, if she can't understand that this is my life's ambition... then we don't have a chance for the long run anyway."

"And what exactly is your life's ambition?" B'Elanna asked, wondering how an ambition that the woman had for her whole life could make her suited to be such an important part of the Borg.


Chapter 30

The reign of One of Many, née Annika Hansen; Queen of Borg.

Year 00, Month 06, Day 17, Hour 23, Minute 37.

She hesitated in front of the door; it was late. Finally, deciding that she would want to see Pagsha no matter what time it was if things had been reversed, she activated the door chime. Three seconds later the door opened and a clearly nervous Pagsha was looking up at her.

"You're out of sickbay," Pagsha stated the very obvious.

"Yeah, I have to go back tomorrow for some tests, but I was discharged ten minutes and twelve seconds ago." Katzi could clearly see that Pagsha's eyes had come to rest on the Zamonan's now artificial eye.

Hearing the precise time, Pagsha chuckled. "That internal chronometer is a very convenient tool, isn't it? But just wait until you're waiting for something and that same chronometer tells you that only four minutes passed since the last check of the time."

It made clear to Katzi that this had been exactly what Pagsha had been doing. "May I come in?" Katzi finally asked.

"Oh, crap, of course. Please, come in."

Pagsha stepped aside to let Katzi enter. Once the door was closed she continued, "I wanted to come and see you, be at your side when... changes were made, but I guessed that you didn't want me there."

Katzi chuckled and set down on the couch. "Pagsha, let me give you the first lesson from the textbook, 'how to handle my warrior.' When we warriors get hurt... it only itches. When we're almost bleeding to death... it's just a scratch. And when we have to go through surgery, never will we drop our tough image and actually act like a baby, crying that we want our lover to come hold our hand."

"Ah," Pagsha said with a smile as she sat down beside Katzi. "So in other words, I just have to simply come by myself. Simply ignore your 'it's nothing' and be worried for the both of us?"

"Right, and then go through the motions of me telling you that it's alright for you to go and do other stuff. And finally me reluctantly allowing you to stay... because make no mistake; in reality we warriors want nothing more than to have you right there, holding our hand, telling us how everything is going to be alright."

"I'll keep that in mind and happily override any objections you might have next time," Pagsha said with a grin.

Then she sighed, knowing that it was time to bring up the subject they had to talk about eventually. "Congratulations on becoming a Royal Guard."

"Thanks," Katzi said with a smile before sighing herself and asking, "Pagsha, do you feel that I should have talked with you first before going ahead and getting such extensive modifications done to my body?"

Of course, Katzi didn't have to describe just what the modifications were, since Pagsha's position as First Officer meant that she already knew.

"No, of course not. It's your body, you can do with it whatever you want."

"You are wrong. I told you before; I'm yours. My body belongs to you and you deserve the right to have a say in what I do with my body."

"If that's so, than why didn't you talk to me first?"

"Pagsha, before I answer that, you answer me this question... would you have objected? Is there something that you would have wanted to not be changed? My eye, the arm?"

Pagsha sighed. "No. No there isn't anything. I don't mind, I really don't. In fact, I have a feeling that I'll find it incredibly sexy to see that stomach of yours, those muscles moving behind the abdominal implant. No, there isn't anything I would have asked you not to do. It's just... a girl likes to be asked, you know? I mean, it IS your body, and I do want to have a dominant partner that makes decisions, but a 'what do you think' would have been nice."

Katzi lowered her eyes and looked at her hands. "I kinda did that on purpose. I knew... hoped... that you would accept my choice, but wanted to do it this way so that I could see your reaction. I didn't want to try and convince you to let me do this, because. I wanted to do this and see if you can accept me, without knowing why I did this."

"And why did you do this?" Pagsha wondered. "Katzi, the modifications done to your body... they are the most extensive ones willingly done to any of the Individualist drones. Sure there are some drones that had quite some work done to them to get them back to looking the way they once did. But there it was a matter of the modifications being needed to get them to look again like they once did. So why?"

"The same reason that made the Borg themselves suggest me as one of the drones for Royal Guard; my life's ambition." Katzi finally looked up again and into the eyes of her concerned lover.

"As far as I can remember, back even before I started schooling, I only wanted to be one thing. All the training I did my entire life. All the sweat, the work... the pain. I became so damn good at being a warrior for only one reason. I wanted to become a Royal Guard. I wanted to be trusted with the protection of the life of our Queen. I wanted to be there, stand guard, so that our Queen could live in safety. For all my life I just wanted to be one thing. I wanted to be... a Royal Guard."

"And now you are," Pagsha said, now in complete understanding.

"And now I am," Katzi agreed before giving a small smirk. "It's a slightly different Queen than I had expected, but."

"I think you'll like it, even besides the fact that you always wanted this," Pagsha assured. "The Zamonan Royal Guards... they are mostly just ceremonial. Sure, they might be the best warriors you Zamonan have, but just what are they really protecting the Queen from? The Queen is in complete control, has no internal enemies, and is greatly loved by your people. The only thing that those guards do is protect the Queen from the occasional mental case that thinks that killing the Queen might be a good thing because the voices said so. But your guard duties... you'll be protecting the Borg Queen. You'll be there when she goes and talks to people that might think that killing her is a good idea because the Borg are still seen as a threat. There's nothing ceremonial about your job."

"I can't wait," Katzi said with clear excitement. "Just the idea of standing there, knowing that I'm the one trusted to protect the Queen. Out of trillions of people, I was one of the four names the Borg themselves suggested for Royal Guards. That of all the drones, they trusted me with the life of their Queen... You know, now I finally understand the saying 'better than sex.' I always thought that people that said that were nuts, nothing could be better than sex. But it is. It really is better than sex."

A small grin and a very deliberate drifting of eyes. "Still isn't better than making love though. It beats sex, but can't touch making love."

Seeing Katzi's drifting eyes, Pagsha did the same, let her eyes drift over Katzi's body before shyly asking, "Can I see you? See what you look like now?"

"Sure," Katzi said while standing up and making quick work of stripping out of the body armor she had been wearing. She saw no reason to be shy in front of the woman she had made love to several times already.

"Oh my," Pagsha said as she stood up as well and looked at the tall body of her lover. Her eyes were immediately drawn by the abdominal implant. She placed a hand against it, following one of the metal bands with a finger while letting the rest of the fingers trail along the flesh on either side of the band.

"Oh yeah, I think I'm going to like this," Pagsha said as her finger went from the metal band over one of the so clearly defined abs to another band. "Damn woman, seeing you makes me so fucking hot."

It was at that time that her eyes caught the flash of color on Katzi's arm. Frowning she took the arm and turned it a little so that she could have a better look at the wonderfully decorated cover plate. The colors were words, she realized. And when her brain registered the two bold words in the middle, written in Pagsha's own language, Pagsha gasped and covered her mouth with a hand.

"Oh Katzi."

"I told you, I'm yours."

There, in bold red, for all to see, were the two words that meant as much to Katzi as her new position as Royal Guard.

'Pagsha's Property.'

To most it might seem like an inside joke, but to Katzi it wasn't. To her it was just the proof of something she had said several times already. She belonged to Pagsha.

"I'm yours and don't mind admitting that. I may be the dominant one in this relationship, but I want there to be absolutely no mistake about who owns me. Besides, I found it kinda fitting. I remembered how you told me that the women on your Homeworld weren't allowed to have property. I wanted all to know that you own something that nobody else in the Universe owns; me. I may gave my services to the Borg, I may even die for the Borg if it ever comes to that, but 'you' own me. I,"

"Katzi, if you don't stop speaking right now and take me to bed, I swear that I'm going to jump your bones right here on the couch."

It was later when Pagsha was lying where she liked to lie; in the strong arms of her lover. They were very, very, sated. They were also tired, sweaty, and they really needed a bath to wash away the sweat... and other bodily fluids. But for the moment they were blissfully ignoring that and simply concentrating on the great feeling of being together.

"It's beautiful," Pagsha said as she followed the lines of the boldly written words with her finger.

Normally gray colored Duranium had been polished so much that the cover plate now was shiny silver in color. Pagsha's language was written, and read, from top to bottom instead from side to side, so it had been perfectly suited to spell the two big words that stood beside each other going down and that took up most of the cover. The words had been spelled out by letters made up from hundreds of small wine-red synthetic diamonds that were slightly inset in the Duranium.

Around the four edges there were small symbols that at first glance looked like nothing more than a gold colored border. But on closer inspection one would find that the symbols were actually words written in the Zamonan language. The Zamonan wrote using symbols instead of letters, and these symbols had been engraved in the Duranium and then filled up with gold, giving them their gold color.

To finish it all off the entire cover plate had been covered by a thin layer of transparent aluminum. Making the cover smooth again, and also making sure that the Duranium couldn't dull again and would forever keep the silvery shine, and that none of the diamonds could ever fall out. It was beautiful, but the thin layer of transparent aluminum made sure that the cover wasn't as delicate as it looked. It pretty much could withstand anything a standard Duranium cover could.

"It is," Katzi agreed. "And then to think that Anidan made that after creating the weapon inside. She couldn't have had more than a couple of hours, at most."

"Anidan made this?" Pagsha asked surprised. "Then I guess I have to ask her for a little favor. I want a cover like that too... it would fit onto the part of my arm that's still artificial, so my hand doesn't even have to be changed."

"You want yours to say 'Pagsha's Property' as well?" Katzi asked amused.

Pagsha looked up into the eyes of her lover and smiled. "Very funny. No, I was thinking of something like 'Katzi's Little One.' Something like that." Looking back at the cover she asked, "What does this mean?" While running her finger over the words on the edge.

Of course, since the Zamonan had joined the Collective, and Pagsha had regenerated since then, she now knew the Zamonan language and could read the words. She just wanted to know the meanings behind the sayings.

"Those are two of the most commonly used quotes in Zamonan romance. Spoken by the two most famous people out of Zamonan history; Queen Riella and Weapon Master Raxa. The words on the top and right were spoken by Queen Riella to Weapon Master Raxa while they were still in the courting stage. 'You don't have to move a mountain; just teach me how to climb.' Raxa was a rather... complex person. She had a lot of character traits that could drive someone wild, and quirks that she couldn't let go because they saved her life once. Like never sleeping in a bed when on the move. If not home she liked to sleep on the floor because would-be assassins like to go directly for the bed after sneaking into the room. By telling Raxa this now famous quote, Queen Riella was letting her know that she didn't expect Raxa to change for her, or stop indulging in her quirks. All Queen Riella asked was that Raxa teach her how to understand her. 'You don't have to move a mountain,' meaning, you don't have to try and do the impossible and change. 'Just teach me how to climb,' meaning, just help me understand you."

Katzi used her other hand to lift Pagsha's chin a little so that the Ghdibrian would look her in the eyes. "Pagsha, I had that put on there because that's a promise I make to you. I'm the dominant one in this relationship, I'm the one that takes charge, I'm the one in control. But you don't have to move a mountain; you don't have to fight me if you really want something. Just teach me how to climb. If you really want something, I'll do it. Just tell me what you want, how you want it, and I'll do it."

Then Katzi went on explaining the quotes on the cover. "The bottom and left symbols is a quote Weapon Master Raxa spoke on the eve of the greatest battle in Zamonan history. 'A warrior is always as strong as her heart is.' To rally her troops she told them, 'a warrior is always as strong as her heart is. Know what's in your heart. Know what you are going to fight for. I'm not going to tell you what you should fight for; you decide. Is it the land you hunt on, your home, your family?' While looking over at her lover, Queen Riella, she had added, 'I know what I'll be fighting for. A warrior is always as strong as her heart is, and therefore I'm unbeatable.' That battle was the most decisive victory ever won in Zamonan history. They had been outnumbered by three to one, but they came out winning, having only lost one sister for every ten enemies they had killed."

"And you had that put on there because..?" Pagsha asked.

"Because I needed another quote to make it look like a border," Katzi admitted with a small grin. "And I really like that one. I love the story, and the romantic picture of Raxa bringing home the biggest victory in Zamonan history for no other reason than that she loved her Queen."

"My, isn't that overly mushy for such a fierce warrior like you?"

"Oh, but Pagsha, my love, that's the great thing about having a Mate. It's completely accepted that in the privacy of a home warriors get mushy and say things like 'I love you.' After all, their Mates must get some reward for putting up with the tough warrior crap all the time."

"And here I thought they put up with it for the muscles they can touch," Pagsha said while following the lines of some muscles by placing kisses on them until she had finally reached Katzi's face, where she spent a long moment kissing soft lips instead of hard muscles.

"Not everyone has such a muscle fetish like you do," Katzi said after they broke apart. She closed her arms around her lover and gave her a soft hug.

"Katzi," Pagsha said hesitantly. "Since I regenerated after the Zamonan joined the Borg, I now know 'relevant information' about them. The Zamonan are generally fiercely independent. It is normal even for couples that at least half of their activities they do without their partner. To call yourself my property, that's..."

"Pretty much out there, yeah," Katzi agreed. "On Zamona they would call me hopelessly whipped."

Pagsha took a deep breath before putting her head against Katzi's chest and saying in a rush, "Aren't you moving too fast? We've only known each other for a week."

Katzi pulled her up until they were face to face. "Little One. I'm moving damn fast, yes, but I don't think it's too fast. Here's the deal. I called you my Mate, I think you are. We Zamonan respect the bond of Mate tremendously. When B'Elanna broke my jaw for touching Seven, by law she was actually in her right to do even more to me because I touched her Mate. The term Mate is very important to us, and I really like the fact that even now B'Elanna and Seven still call themselves Mates. They started to use that term on Zamona."

Katzi was quiet for a moment before starting with the 'but' that Pagsha knew was coming simply because of how positive the first part had sounded. "But, as respected as the term is, it's very easy in use. There are no ceremonies. People decide they really like each other and start calling each other Mate. It can be that these Mates spend the rest of their life together, but it can also be that after a few months they decide that they don't want to be Mates anymore. You know what the whole breakup ritual is? People stop calling each other Mates, and correct others if they call them Mates. That's it. You are my Mate, Pagsha. For how long... who knows, we will see that when we get there."

Katzi flexed her left arm slightly. "I have that cover there for all to see that I belong to you, but if need be that cover can be replaced by a standard one in less than five minutes. Yes I'm moving fast, but tell me; why shouldn't I? If things don't work out... we don't have any commitments, we just say, 'it was nice, see ya.' If next week we really don't like being in a relationship anymore, we get out of it with nothing but a goodbye kiss. I'm not in the mood for taking things slow. I'm not in the mood for feeling each other out over dinners and conversations. We have the three main things covered; the rest we deal with if it comes up. I'm the one in charge of this relationship, you are the one with the final say in this relationship, and we love each other. Why would we have to take it slow to find out more? I can find out what food you like when we go eat and you tell me that you don't like that, or really like that."

Katzi softly caressed Pagsha's face. "Pagsha, I love you, I'm in love with you. Do you love me?"

"Yes, I'm in love with you too," Pagsha could only say. There was absolutely no denying that she loved this woman that had become such an important part in her life in such a short time.

"I really like being in a relationship with you, knowing that you are a part of my life. Do you like being in a relationship with me?" Katzi asked.

"Yes. Katzi, I love being in a relationship with you."

"Answer me this; are you my Mate?"

"Yes," Pagsha said with utmost confidence. "And you are my Mate."

"Now, Little One, answer me one last question, are we moving too fast?"

Pagsha smiled and kissed her warrior. "Not at all. We are moving just right."

"Good." Katzi grinned before adding, "But I do think that tongue of yours needs to be punished for saying such silly things."

Pagsha felt those powerful legs below hers spread and hands being placed on her head, pushing her down softly.

"Down you go, let's tire that naughty tongue out so that it can't say more foolish things."

The reign of One of Many, née Annika Hansen; Queen of Borg.

Year 00, Month 06, Day 18, Hour 17, Minute 59.

"Katzi, please come in," Seven said as she, B'Elanna and Pagsha walked passed the Zamonan and into the room where Seven normally always had her meetings with people.

Once they were sitting at the table, Seven started, "Let me come straight to the point. We just had a discussion with the Hive about the Royal Guards. A change has been decided upon. I hope that you will forgive us for changing the rules, so to speak, after you already became a Royal Guard. I assure you that it is nothing more than a case of fine-tuning a system that is new to us."

"A change?" Katzi asked. "In, um, my task?"

"No," Seven assured. "The tasks are still the same. The change is in how the Royal Guards spend their on-duty time here on Unimatrix 01. In regards to you, I told you that you would spend your on duty time in the presence of B'Elanna and me. This is where the change comes in. It has been decided that we want the best to be even better. In other words, the Royal Guards will as of today all follow daily training to better them in fields where there is room for improvements."

They could clearly see Katzi relax. "You know, Seven, telling me that I have to train when I'm on-duty is not something you have to be so serious about. I'll take it."

Then she grinned and said jokingly, "Can we throw in my own training as well so that I don't have to do that in my free time anymore?"

"That's actually something we might want to grant," B'Elanna spoke up, looking at Seven. "Katzi here is an impressive woman. If she's standing behind you in negotiations, being taller than anyone else in the room and with her muscles showing so clearly that people might wonder why the fabric of her uniform isn't tearing... that sight alone will prevent a lot of people of even thinking about reaching across the table to hurt you. She can be imposing and we can use that. So it's only fair that she's allowed to keep that up in on-duty time. Especially considering that here on Unimatrix 01 there is no true reason why she has to spend her on duty time with us, other than it improving the fact that we get used to having her around."

Now B'Elanna grinned. "But seeing how much she's hanging around Pagsha, who hangs around us a lot, Katzi is spending a lot of her off-duty time with us as it is and we're getting used to having her around anyway."

"A valid point," Seven agreed. Then she looked back at Katzi. "Very well, as of today your own training can be done on on-duty time. But only if we are on Unimatrix 01, and this new training will have priority over your normal training."

Katzi grinned. "Thank you. That means that I have more off-duty time to spend with my Little One here."

"But I like to watch you train," Pagsha said with a small pout.

"I am sure that you will still find opportunities," Seven noted amused. She suddenly had a distinct feeling that Pagsha would be taking her breaks at a time when Katzi was training.

"So what training are we actually talking about? And what about the other Royal Guards, will I be training with them as well?" Katzi asked.

"No, the other guards will also be trained, but all of them will receive their own personalized training. As for your training, you will train three hours every day, besides your own training of course. As for what exactly; that will change over time. When you have learned something to a satisfactory level that subject will be dropped and a new one will be added. Of course, there is some freedom for you in this. If you really like one of the subjects you can ask if you can train it further than just a satisfactory level."

"Sounds pretty damn good to me," Katzi said happily. "Be trained during work time and basically get paid to learn stuff. Well, not really paid since you don't do the money thing, but still."

"It's great until you have to train in something you hate," B'Elanna grinned.

"So, what is it that I have to train in to start with?"

"I think it is best if we let your teachers explain that to you," Seven suggested. "They are waiting for you in the Royal Holodeck."

Part 31

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