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

By H.W.


Chapter 41

"Come in," Si'zaG said, only to be surprised by Anidan walking into the living room. "Oh, you. Um, look, I'm really sorry about what happened. I, really didn't mean to,"

"Si'zaG," Anidan interrupted. "It's been explained to me."

She stepped closer to the clearly nervous woman. "And after it was explained to me, I regenerated for half an hour and asked others of the Siill for some advice and more detail on what 'this' is."

"And, now, now you are here," Si'zaG stated the very obvious.

"And now I'm here," Anidan repeated. "Before I step closer to you again, tell me, do you mind me being here, would you like me to leave?"

Si'zaG shook her head at the question. "No, you'll do just fine; I'm just worried if you truly know what you are getting yourself into."

Anidan stepped closer and softly touched Si'zaG's face with her hand, glad to see the golden skinned woman lean into the touch. "I'm here while knowing fully what this bonding call, as your people call it, is. And, Si'zaG, I'm here with my eyes and senses wide open to ask you to let me in. Please, let me into your life. Please, give meaning to my life. Please, let me feel why life is worth living. Please, let me love you."

"You, you say with your senses wide open, what about mine?"

"You can open all your senses as well. Do you really think that I would want my Bond to hold back on being all that she is?"

A split second after saying this, Anidan had to shake her head because it felt as if a shockwave had traveled through her brain. Then as her mind cleared, she noticed the difference. She saw that same look of wonder on Si'zaG's face that had been there on the holodeck, and she realized that she wasn't completely alone anymore in her mind.

'You are in here with me?' Anidan thought.

'A part of me is,' Si'zaG agreed in thought as well. 'Just like a part of you is in my mind now. It's kinda like the Borg communicator when you use it to speak to one person, except we'll also feel each other's feelings.'

'That's what they meant when they said that I had to be prepared to share every minute of my entire life,' Anidan thought in understanding.

'Do you think you can handle that?' Si'zaG asked.

'As my friend Pagsha said; does it matter?' Anidan answered with a broad smile. 'Once we are bonded we'll both change, and I'll absolutely love the fact that you are in my mind every minute of the day, even if I would hate that now.'

'Would you hate it now?' Si'zaG persisted, only to then explain, 'We will change, yes, but that's not a 'no matter what' thing. It's a give and take kind of thing. If you would truly hate it, then we would change to where I actually don't like being in your mind and will do it less and less. Maybe I would find some totally rational excuse that makes us both feel that it's alright... like that I don't do it so that you can surprise me from time to time.'

'I see,' Anidan thought in understanding before giving the matter some more thought. Then she smiled again. 'I think that you don't need to worry about that. I, just like the rest of my species, find it extremely rude if a telepath enters my mind without permission. That doesn't mean that we are dead set against it, just that we don't want it done without us giving our permission. I think it's a pretty safe bet that I would give permission to the person I'm sharing my life with, don't you think? In fact, seeing that we are talking mentally now, I would say that the whole permission thing is a non-issue between us.'

'You were worried about us being incompatible?' Si'zaG asked with a shy smile as more of Anidan's mind opened up for her.

'Well, we are from different species,' Anidan reminded.

'I know,' Si'zaG said as she opened a very particular and very interesting part of her mind for Anidan.

'Oh my,' Anidan thought amazed. 'You can actually do that?'

Si'zaG winked and asked, 'You want to try and see what that feels like?'

Anidan could only nod her head enthusiastically, making Si'zaG laugh out loud.

Then Anidan took that last step and took Si'zaG into an embrace. 'But I will only make love to my Bond partner.'

'I would like that,' Si'zaG agreed. 'I would like my first time to be with the person that I am already fully bonded with. But come to bed with me now. I have heard that bonding can be so powerful that it can knock someone off their feet. I think it would be better if we do this lying down.'

'Alright,' Anidan agreed as she reluctantly let go of Si'zaG's body, and instead took hold of her hand and let herself be led to the bedroom, and onto the bed.

'Are you ready?' Si'zaG asked as they were both lying down and looking into each other's eyes. 'This is your last chance to back out.'

Anidan took a deep breath before nodding and thinking, 'I'm as ready as I'll ever be, and I'm not backing out. I had to get used to the idea of how fast this goes, how random this is. But now I thought about it, and now I think that I won the jackpot in the biggest lottery every held; and I'm keeping my prize for the rest of my life. Bond with me, make us one. I want this, I really do. I want you.'

She placed a kiss on Si'zaG's forehead before putting her own forehead against Si'zaG's. 'I really, really do want you. Even without this bonding call, I think, no, not think; I know. I know that I would have fallen for you. All this means is that it went a little faster than it would have if I had waited for the realization of what was in front of my eyes to work its way through my dense head. I like you, I really do. Now make me love you.'

'I like you too. I'm really glad that you reacted to the bonding call. And now, we will be one.' With that Si'zaG let go and that part in her that needed to be united with its second half reached out to Anidan and fused with Anidan's soul.

Anidan felt the change, felt something merging together inside her. It was as if a fire had been lit deep in the core of her being, and its warmth started to spread all through Anidan's body and soul. Mere seconds later Anidan's life had changed for good and she knew that she had made the best choice of her life.

"This feels incredible," Anidan said in a mix between a laugh and a giggle. "So this is what it feels like to be alive."

Si'zaG closed in and took her time to share a long series of kisses with her partner. Then she let her hand drift over Anidan's side until it was resting on the Engineer's behind. She used that hand to pull her partner closer until their bodies were touching from head to toe. 'So, you want to see now if we truly are compatible?' She was surprised by the answer she got.

'Would you mind if we did that tomorrow? This feels so wonderfully incredible, and I want to relish it before I experience even more incredible things.'

'That's fine with me,' Si'zaG assured. 'In fact, I think that's a great idea. This does feel great. I knew the stories of what it would feel like, but it doesn't compare to actually feeling it.'

She closed her eyes and let out a happy sigh. 'You make me feel so good. I'm sure the others think the same when they bond but I must be the luckiest Siill that ever lived.'

'I love you,' Anidan thought as she kissed her bond partner. 'More than I ever thought it was possible to love anyone or anything.'

'And I love you,' Si'zaG assured as they continued to kiss. 'More than anything else that has ever been in my life.'

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

Year 00, Month 12, Day 05, Hour 13, Minute 22.

"Kahless, if I only had a holo-recorder right now," B'Elanna grinned.

"B'Elanna Torres," Seven warned, but never the less leaned against her lover who had just sat down on the couch beside her. Truth was, Seven knew and understood only too well why her Mate made comments like that. For Seven, proper seating or standing positions had strangely enough also always been the most comfortable. As she had told people on Voyager so many times; she preferred to stand. It was true. She preferred to stand, or if seated she preferred to sit straight. Well, there also was something to be said for snuggling with B'Elanna and sitting in whatever position allowed for the most contact and comfort for as long as possible.

So, to see Seven sitting as she was now; slouching so much that she was almost lying on the seat of the couch, which was only made possible because her feet were resting on the coffee table, it truly was a rare sight to see. But at the moment this position was comfortable. With the mass of her belly centered above her spine instead of hanging down or to the side, the position was actually very relaxing to her. True, it did result in a little shortness of breath. But since she wasn't doing anything else than talking that wasn't a problem at the moment. Well, she had to admit, there was probably also the blessing of having her skeleton strengthened by Borg implants. Or else, she was sure, she would be suffering from terrible backaches right now instead of the dull ache that could easily be ignored.

And talking about blessings. There was of course also the blessing of her wonderful Mate. Despite the occasional remark or joke, which B'Elanna knew she could make because Seven's hormones were regulated to perfection, the Klingon had taken to pretty much serving every need the blonde had.

It was her way of sharing in the pregnancy, B'Elanna had explained. Seven had the task of carrying Vasha around and having to suffer the bodily strain of that, so B'Elanna was the one that always got up to get the drink or the snack. B'Elanna also was the one that now happily indulged in taking her good time to bath her Mate. Something, the Klingon had admitted, she wouldn't mind continuing to do after Seven had given birth. Strangely enough, B'Elanna liked washing Seven because it relaxed the Klingon... Well, it sometimes also turned her on, but that was beside the point because that was fun too.

But the best thing about B'Elanna taking care of Seven was that she knew just how far to go. She took care of her lover, but didn't bug her by asking time and again if Seven wanted this or that. Seven had a mouth; she could ask. It was simply that B'Elanna was all too happy to say 'sure' and get whatever the blonde had asked for. Perfect.

Seven looked over at the other two people that were in the Royal Quarters at the moment; their friends Pagsha and Katzi. Seven realized that the two were spending more and more time with her and B'Elanna, and they didn't mind at all. The Royal Quarters had been the place to be truly themselves, to relax and not be the Queen and Princess of the Borg. And instead of being an intrusion into that, Pagsha and Katzi had become an aid in that. With them around to provide distractions it was a lot easier for Seven to truly forget that she was the Queen of Borg, and just be a person sharing a good time with her Mate and their friends.

Seven was sure that B'Elanna also felt this way, because they had talked about it. As the Klingon had said then; the best way to remember that in the end you are just another person instead of some grand figurehead, was to have people around that treated you as just another person instead of as that grand figurehead.

Seven smiled when she saw how Pagsha and Katzi were snuggling. With them snuggling was normally more along the way of Pagsha pretty much crawling into her lovers lap and being engulfed by two hugely muscled arms.

Katzi's new training was showing there as well. The woman's body was still only one huge muscle flowing into the next one, her breasts were still very small because her body simply didn't have the fat reserves to make them more prominent than the A cup size she had. But the new training had resulted in Katzi now having to also use the small muscles that most people didn't even know they had. The result of these small muscles that were often beside, under, or attached to, the bigger muscles, being trained as well was that some spaces between big muscles had filled up a little. This didn't take away from how imposing the woman was, or from how much her huge muscles made her stand out between other people.

But if you dared to look longer, or were privileged to be able to look a lot longer as Katzi was making love to Pagsha, or the other way around of course, then those small muscles resulted in a smooth flow of skin where there were no hard edges to be found around the most prominent of muscles. Instead there was a sensual flow of lines that Katzi loved to have, Pagsha loved to touch, and Seven and B'Elanna most definitely loved to see.

But there was more to Katzi, an angle that nobody had expected. Seven saw B'Elanna, Pagsha and the Senior Staff, as her advisors; people to bounce ideas of and see what they thought. Though Katzi did give her opinion on things from time to time, she most certainly wasn't thinking about the problems like the others. Most of the time she was just sitting in meetings being slightly bored and just asking or suggesting something when it popped into her mind.

But there was the slight issue of there not being a single person of a warrior society serving in the Senior Staff. B'Elanna might be part Klingon and a person who embraced things like honor and the fact that sometimes a battle really was the best thing to resolve a problem. But she had grown up away from any real Klingon influences, between Humans who had only taught her that Klingons were people that fought and killed without thinking and were best to be ignored.

So in meetings it had been Katzi who had spoken up when things came up that had to do with some of the warrior species in the Collective. Someone to say, 'what do you mean, why would they do that? Isn't it obvious?' Someone to explain why a warrior would indeed consider 'that' simple statement an insult. Without any of them truly realizing that it was happening, Katzi had become somewhat of a Warrior representative. Not someone to represent them no matter what, but simply someone to explain things, to make people understand why something as simple as a piece of metal called a sword can be more important than life in some situations.

Seven wondered if she should make an official position for that. Apparently the Hive didn't mind some allowances being made for the Warriors in the Collective; they had hardly ever objected to changes made. And if the Hive objected, Seven had seen their point and tweaks had been made until both the Hive and Seven were satisfied with the end result.

But then she decided not to. She doubted that Katzi would want such an official position where she would have to represent a way of thinking all the time instead of just speaking up when something came to mind. And she also didn't want to give others ideas. If there was an official Warrior representative, then surely there must also be a Telepathic representative, and an Aquatic representative, and... No. At least not yet. At the moment they were still making changes. Now she didn't need a group of people bringing forth ideas all the time. Oh, she knew without doubt that there would be some good ideas... between the thousands of bad ones.

"But it is something to think about for a later time," She said thoughtfully.

"What?" B'Elanna asked confused, making Pagsha and Katzi look in their direction as well.

"I apologize, I was just thinking, and one of my thoughts made me speak out loud."

"Well, it wasn't that loud, or else I didn't have to ask 'what'." B'Elanna joked. "Care to share?"

Not really knowing why not, Seven told them what she had been musing about.

"You are right," Katzi said, "As much as I would appreciate the offer, I like my way now a lot better. But be assured that if I do think something needs pointing out in the future, I'll do so."

"I am glad to hear it," Seven said with a nod. "However, I do think that it is something to keep in mind for later. For in a few years when we are finished with making changes to the Borg and things shift more to maintaining a status quo instead of changing things. Then a council could be set up,"

"With no power other than making suggestions," B'Elanna interrupted.

"You do not yet know what I was going to suggest," Seven accused mildly.

"Doesn't matter. Councils are a great thing to have, just don't give them power. Just look at the Klingon council. All of them care more about their power base than about making decisions that help the Klingons. Councils also have the tendency to try and take more and more decision making away from the Queen if you let them. We don't need such people in the Collective because when we're done with making changes the Collective itself will be the balance to the Queen; the ones to say 'no we don't think so'."

"True, and that is why I was just about to say that they would have no decision making authority, before you interrupted me," Seven noted amused. "I was thinking more along the line of having such representatives that can bring specific concerns to the front, like Katzi did when she pointed out to us that we need to give the Zamonan that are in the Collective now the opportunity to keep training. If not because we might need their abilities, then to allow them to keep their way of life."

"Well, you could actually extend the offer you made to the Siill," Pagsha suggested. "They have a representative on Unimatrix 01 now, an Ambassador. When the time comes and you want to give people the chance to speak for their species you can at that point expand on that. Also install a Zamonan representative, and then on like that. Obviously with as many species as there are in the Collective it would become too much to give every species their own representative, but some could double up."

"Double up?" B'Elanna asked amused.

"Yes. For instance, if we had that Zamonan representative, we don't need a representative for the few Klingons we have in the Collective because they could talk to the Zamonan representative which are enough alike to understand their grievances. That way you might bring the number down to several hundred representatives."

"Oh, that might work," B'Elanna agreed before looking at Seven. "That might then also take some work away from the Queen. I mean, the Hive takes care of managing the things that are Borg. Then this council could talk about the more personal things that the Hive finds irrelevant and they discuss it amongst themselves. And when they then go regenerating at the end of the day, the collective and the Queen find out what they talked about and then the Queen can agree with suggestions they have, or chose which one she prefers if they have several conflicting suggestions for the same thing. The Queen is still the main decision maker, but a lot of things that are really just boring stuff are already talked about by others and the Queen just has to say 'alright' without having to figure it all out herself."

"Which would leave more time for the Queen to focus on things she wants to give her full attention," Seven said, liking the idea. "However, this is indeed only something to implement after we are finished with changing the Collective to a point where such a system cannot be misused."

"Though you might build a little on it already," B'Elanna suggested. "I mean, we already have the Siill representative. While I'm not suggesting that from now on we give every new species their own representative, you could do it with some important species."

Seven thought about that for a moment. "We could, if we indeed keep the number low for now. In fact, in that case we might actually make the offer to the Zamonan to have a representative after all."

She smiled at her friend before assuring, "Not you Katzi."

"The Zamonan have been an important part in our changes," B'Elanna agreed. "Even with the Siill we were able to basically say, 'look at the Zamonan, that's what we're suggesting for you as well'."

"And I have a feeling that it will not be the last time we will do so." Seven looked back at Katzi and asked, "Do you think the Zamonan would welcome such an offer?"

Katzi grinned. "Knowing them, my guess would be that they would turn it into one of those time projects, but this time for the Regents. Like being the representative for one year before going back to being Regent of their territory on Zamona. Either way, I assure you that they'll love the offer."

"I will send out a message to the Zamonan Queen tomorrow," Seven decided. "But we will leave it at the Siill and Zamonan representatives for now."

Checking her internal chronometer, Katzi spoke up, "Well, if you excuse me, it is time for my afternoon training."

As Pagsha moved off her lover so that the Zamonan could stand up, B'Elanna asked, "Hey, you already had your training with your teachers this morning, so what's it going to be now?"

"Well, since this is the part where I'm allowed to do my own training in on-duty time, I was thinking of doing some endurance training."

B'Elanna got up as well. "Would you mind some company? I feel a bit edgy."

"You don't show it. Either way, you are more than welcome to join me." Katzi thought for a moment. "In fact, maybe a nice run would do, since endurance is the only thing you can beat me in as it is."

"Funny," B'Elanna growled, before admitting, "But shamefully true."

Katzi merely shrugged. "Different kind of muscle makeup. I'll never be able to outrun you, but I'll sure be able to beat you into a pulp if I happen to catch you. Neither you nor I can have it both ways. But that doesn't mean that I can't race you for some endurance training."

Then she looked at Pagsha. "Care to join us, my Mate?"

"Sure. In fact, if you are truly going to run I think I might literally join you, for a while at least. I think I might manage a few kilometers or so before my body remembers that I normally don't join in the training."


B'Elanna took Seven's hand and helped her lover to her feet.

Once standing, Seven added, "Then I guess that I am coming as well, and I will do the wise thing and man the refreshment stand."

"We could go for a swim in some lake after the running," B'Elanna suggested. "That would be nice and relaxing for all of us, including you my love."

"A very good idea," Seven could only agree.

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

Year 00, Month 12, Day 09, Hour 03, Minute 47.

The cry brought smiles to the faces of everyone in the room, and even tears to two of those faces.

"She's beautiful," B'Elanna assured as she brushed away her tears and came closer to see what Lonika was doing. She quickly looked to her side where Lonika's aid was taking care of the aftermath of childbirth. Trying to be as unobtrusive as possible while she cleaned Seven up and then took care of refreshing and rearranging sheets where needed.

B'Elanna looked back to her daughter. Lonika had placed Vasha in one of the medical units. It would take care of clamping and then removing the umbilical cord, and at the same time clean the baby. The Klingon laughed when she noticed that through the entire process, which only lasted one minute, Vasha kept wailing her small lungs almost out of her body.

Lonika removed the child from the unit and handed it to B'Elanna, who promptly walked the two steps that would enable her to give Vasha to Seven.

"Sensors say that she is in perfect health," Lonika assured before moving away to give the two other people in the room a chance to come closer.

Pagsha and Katzi moved on his gesture to come closer and joined Seven and B'Elanna in looking at the new life in Seven's arms.

"She is beautiful," Pagsha pointed out. "Have you counted all the toes and fingers already?"

"Counting toes and fingers is an illogical thing to do. Lonika assured that she is in perfect health," Seven pointed out. Seeing her friend's tolerant look, Seven admitted with a smile, "Yes I have. She is very vocal."

"She will settle down soon," Lonika assured from a step away.

"Now we can begin the blame game," B'Elanna grinned. "Now we can say that she must have this or that from Seven or from me. Because the crying she must have from Seven."

Seeing the raised eyebrow, B'Elanna added, "Klingon babies don't cry at birth; it might give away the location to an enemy."

Seven merely rolled her eyes, but Pagsha said what Seven thought.

"But there's no way that she might have gotten that from your half Human side, right?"

"Nope," B'Elanna happily assured. "Remember Klingon DNA is me, Human DNA is my love here."

"That is not true in all cases, and you know it," Seven pointed out. "Now stop trying to blame me while there is nothing yet to blame for and instead hold your daughter."

"Yes my Princess," B'Elanna dutifully agreed as she took her daughter in her arms. Then wanting there to be no confusion, she added, "I love you babe. Sorry for teasing you right after you had to go through labor. That's kinda new for me as well."

Now Seven laughed. "Just be glad. During the three hours of my labor my implants could no longer regulate my hormones. If I was not Borg you would have had to deal with that for weeks instead of only three hours."

"You can be glad as well," Pagsha pointed out. "Had you not been Borg, your labor could have lasted a lot longer than only three hours. In fact, three hours is damn short."

"Eight hours is the average for the active stage of childbirth of a Human for the first child," Seven agreed.

An idea struck B'Elanna and with an evil grin she turned to Katzi. "Here, you want to hold her?"

"Um, no," The tall woman said as she backed away a little.

"Come on, she is just a baby, she can't hurt you."

"No, but I might squish her," Katzi pointed out.

"B'Elanna Torres, stop tormenting our friend," Seven warned.

Katzi thought that she was safe when she saw B'Elanna hand her daughter back to Seven. The truth was, children had never been Katzi's thing. And there was also that other thing. She still remembered vividly the time when she was twelve years old and she had been given a baby to hold for a moment while the mother went to pick something up she had forgotten in her hut. Katzi honestly had tried, but the baby had suddenly kicked, Katzi had lost her grip, and the baby had fallen out of her arms; hitting the ground head first.

The crying had been ear piercing, and it was only years later that Katzi realized that it had actually been a good sign that the baby could cry. Still, since then she had never again been given a baby to hold, and she also never had felt an urge to hold one. Let them grow up until they could walk and move themselves from point A to point B. Then Katzi would be more than willing to interact with them.

"Pagsha, do you want to hold her?" Seven asked.

"Sure," The Ghdibrian said happily as she reached for the crying baby. To the surprise of the other women, Pagsha sat down on the floor, the baby still held securely in her arms.

"Join me," Pagsha said while looking at her Mate.

Katzi sighed, having a feeling that she knew what her Mate was doing, but she sat down beside her lover nevertheless.

With a smile, Pagsha simply handed Vasha to her lover, giving the Zamonan the choice between taking the baby, or crudely refusing her lover's offer. "Here, now you can only drop her a little bit, and onto your legs."

"You are in sooo much trouble my love," Katzi threatened. But then she winked and added, 'And I expect you to make it up to me later."

She looked down at the crying baby that was cradled in the crook of her arm. "Well hello there Little Princess." The crying didn't stop, but did lessen some in volume. "Hmm, I don't like how Little Princess sounds. How about Sprite. You like that? You know, with us, Sprites guard us when we are out in the woods, they keep up safe. They are said to be small and fragile, kinda like you, but they are creatures not to be trifled with."

"Not to be trifled with huh?" Pagsha asked as she took Vasha back so that she could hand the child back to her parents.

"Yep," Katzi agreed. Strangely glad to not be holding the baby anymore, and at the same time missing the small presence in her arms. "Sprites are extremely kind, always ready to help a person in need. But if you piss them off they won't hesitate to rip you apart with their magical powers."

"Do you believe in these creatures, are they real?" Seven asked as she took her daughter, wanting to know more about the creatures so that she could decide if she should mind her daughter having such a nickname.

Katzi stood up and joined her lover who was standing at the bed. She took a moment to take in the wonderful scene of her friends with their newborn daughter.

Seven was sitting up and holding her daughter in her arms, while B'Elanna was standing beside the bed, one hand continuously playing absently with her Mate's hair, while using her other hand to touch her daughter's head, hands, feet... simply not being able to stop touching the miracle that was their daughter, their flesh and blood. Though B'Elanna was participating in the conversation, none of them mentioned the silent tears that were occasionally rolling down the Klingon's face.

That was alright, Katzi decided. That was one of the downsides of growing up in a warrior society, sometimes people didn't even show emotions when they really should. She was glad to see that apparently B'Elanna was ready to be a mother first and a warrior second.

Answering Seven's Question, Katzi explained, "I believe in them as much as I believe in our Gods. I have never seen any real proof that they exist, but there have been some situations that make me believe that there's something in the woods that takes care of the warriors, if they are lucky. Take my own accident. Everyone, even the Borg doctors, say that I should never have survived that fall. So, was I lucky, were the gods watching out for me, or did a Sprite save me? Personally I like the idea of Sprites because they are so unknown. The tales just say that they exist. But how many are there? The Gods have names, and characters. Over half of them I don't even want to watch out for me. And for the rest, just how presumptuous would it be for me to hope that, say, our Patron Goddess is watching out for me? But Sprites? We don't know how many there are, just that they live in the woods, if they truly exist. Chances are a lot better that they just happen to be around when you need them than the chance of one of the Gods being around."

"Little Sprite, huh?" B'Elanna repeated. "I like it. A benevolent creature that loves to help you... and won't hesitate to kick your ass if you mess with it. Fitting for a new Borg Queen, don't you think hon?"

"Indeed," Seven agreed. "Very well, I will condone the nickname, however, her name is Vasha, period."

"Yes, my Princess," B'Elanna assured tolerantly, knowing only too well that her love was not one for nicknames. With the occasional exception of course.

"My Queen," Lonika interrupted politely, "Should I inform the Hive of the birth of our Princess, or do you want to do this yourself?"

"I will do that, thank you."

And so, Seven connected to the Hive to let them know that Three of Many was now born.


Chapter 42

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

Year 01, Month 01, Day 10, Hour 18, Minute 03.

B'Elanna was pacing through the living room with Vasha on her arm. She was bouncing the baby up and down a little while telling her a story. B'Elanna loved this time before Vasha's evening nap. She and Seven took equal care of their daughter, but they had decided that, until no longer needed, the time before the afternoon nap would be for Seven to spend with Vasha. While the time before the evening nap was for B'Elanna. Not that the other would leave, but they would hold back and not interact too much.

It was a good mix of interest for their child, and self interest. They had their own time to fully indulge in spending time alone with their daughter, and they also had their own time in which their partner was taking care of their child and they could concentrate on some 'me' time without feeling guilty.

Seven smiled when she heard the story that her lover was telling their child. B'Elanna had an interesting approach to telling stories. She didn't bother with fairytales or, since she was part Klingon, battle stories. No. B'Elanna knew that her voice, and especially the tone of her voice, was the most important thing. So the Klingon told things of her life, lowering her voice or throwing it, all depending on what was needed to make a life's tale sound like a fairytale.

"So then your Momma came in and started changing things without telling me. Ooooh I was so mad at her. But I kept my cool..." B'Elanna very pointedly ignored the snort coming from her lovely Mate. "...and asked her why she did that."

B'Elanna turned and paced in the other direction. She quickly looked at Seven and noticed that the blonde had put the computer unit aside and was now sitting back and was also listening fully to the story. B'Elanna decided not to comment on how Seven was sitting; it would have been an old comment by now.

While being pregnant, Seven had discovered the benefits of slouching on the couch with her feet on the coffee table. Now she was no longer pregnant, but the position was still comfortable for her if she wanted to do nothing else but talk, or watch her Mate with their daughter.

B'Elanna winked at her lover while continuing with her story. "Your Momma didn't like me very much back then."

With a smile, Seven lifted a hand and wiggled it back and forth.

"She was only pretending of course," B'Elanna smoothly corrected. "But she told me that it was none of my business. Of course Mamma got really mad at Momma for that. So I did something really, really bad. I tried to hit your Momma. But your Momma just grabbed my hand and told me that my activity was truly unproductive. Of course, what your Momma didn't know was that by doing so she made me instantly wet."

"B'Elanna Torres," Seven warned right away.

"Come on, baby, Vasha is one month old. She can't even understand a word I'm saying, let alone actually knowing what being wet means."

B'Elanna set down beside her lover and placed Vasha on their touching legs. "You did, you know? You simply grabbed my hand and held me in place; turned me on like crazy. Guess what I thought of that evening when I got home and had time to do something about being so turned on."

"We talked about that event some time ago and you told me what you thought of," Seven reminded. "Right before I asked you to show me, which you did." She treated B'Elanna to a kiss before adding, "In fact, I would not mind at all if you showed me again tonight."

"Deal, but only if I can have my way with you after that," B'Elanna happily agreed. "In fact, I'm really in the mood to use our Zamona toy and take you bent over the kitchen table."

"I would really like that," Seven assured. "But for now, how about you finish your story to Vasha before we put her to bed?" Then she admitted, "I do not want to wait until tonight. I want to see you touch yourself now."

B'Elanna laughed. "Babe, you're almost as easy as Pagsha."

"Which you like very much," Seven countered.

"I sure do," B'Elanna happily agreed. Then she looked down at their daughter. "Alright, how about I finish that story? Want me to finish the story?"

"Na," Vasha replied as if on cue.

"I believe that Vasha just told you 'no', Seven joked.

"Very funny," B'Elanna replied before focusing on her daughter again. "Momma doesn't think you want me to finish the story. Want to play a game instead?"


"That would be yes," Seven couldn't help but tease her lover.

"Seven," B'Elanna playfully growled. Then she asked her daughter playfully. Story?"


Now the grin slid of B'Elanna's face. "Game?"


"Fuck me!"

"B'Elanna Torres, watch your language," Seven warned in outrage.

"Forget about that," B'Elanna said dismissively. "Babe, I think you were right. Vasha really was telling me no."

"Beloved, Vasha does not yet have control over her motor functions. She cannot tell you 'no'; it is impossible."

"Not if she has a sound she can make that means no to her, and a sound that means yes to her," B'Elanna disagreed. She lifted Vasha into her arms again. "Here let's test it some more. Vasha, would you want Momma to hold you?"


"She also said 'ga' to playing a game," B'Elanna reminded. "Want to play a game with Momma?"


"That is just a coincidence," Seven persisted.

"Alright, Vasha, want to go to bed?"


B'Elanna merely looked at Seven.

Seven took her daughter. "Vasha, do you want the wall to hop over the door?" Seven asked, deliberately talking gibberish to prove her point. But instead of saying 'ga' or 'na', Vasha just looked at her. Seven looked back at her lover. "Maybe it is in your voice, in how you ask the questions."

B'Elanna nodded. "We can test that. Vasha do you want the wall to play with you?"

Once again there was only silence.

"Do you want Momma to leave?"


"Do you want Momma to sing?"

"Ga." This time the sound was even accompanied with a waving of arms.

Seven and B'Elanna merely looked at each other in silence for a long moment. Feeling Vasha becoming restless in her arms, Seven focused on the most important issue at the moment at took and deep breath before starting to sing to her daughter.

"Alright, that was positively creepy," B'Elanna admitted once they were back in the living room after having put Vasha to bed.

"Creepy?" Seven repeated.

"Well, not in a 'damn I'm scared of my own daughter' kind of way," B'Elanna was quick to assure. "More of a, 'I never heard of that being possible and how the hell do we deal with this' kind of way."

Seven sat down on her favorite spot on the couch. "I connected to the Hive while you were fussing with Vasha."

"I didn't fuss," B'Elanna objected. "I tucked her in and told her that we would be back in a few hours so that she could spend the evening with us."

"As I said, when you were fussing with her," Seven persisted. B'Elanna merely stuck out her tongue this time. "And I discovered that the ability of coherent perception and speech at an extremely young age is a Human ability. Not to be confused with my photographic memory by the way, nor my instant recall."

So it could have come from both our Human genes," B'Elanna surmised. She dropped down besides her lover. "It's not a Klingon thing?"

"It is not. Such an ability has never been registered with Klingons. Klingon babies have other abilities, like not crying at birth and their motor skills developing very fast compared to Humans. Vasha did cry at birth, I assume that the Borg decided that crying was irrelevant since we are not in a battle. However, I would not be surprised if Vasha will have the quicker control over her body that Klingon babies do."

"Ah, so we'll need to change diapers for a shorter time," B'Elanna asked, deliberately producing an overdramatic extremely happy and brilliant smile that made her Mate laugh.

"That too," Seven agreed. "But to the point of extremely early communication, this must be something Human. While the vast majority of Human children follow the same pattern, within certain tolerances, some have abilities that do not compare to most Humans. The most known ones are the two abilities that I do have."

"Yeah," B'Elanna agreed. "A photographic memory and instant recall are so well known that almost everyone wishes at some point that they were born with it. But in reality only few are, especially with a combination of the two."

Seven put her arm around B'Elanna's shoulder and pulled slightly. Getting the hint, the Klingon moved until she was laying on the couch with her head resting in her lover's lap.

Once B'Elanna was comfortable, Seven continued. "There are quite a lot of reported abilities of Human children that are outside of the normal range. Of course, on the scale of all of Humanity it comes down to less than one tenth of a percent at any time. In regards to what we saw today, I found files in the database of an interesting case from the end of the 20th century where a family had triplets. All three of them had the ability to speak at a very early age. The parents even persisted that the triplets were already talking right after birth. That is not confirmed because they did not have any evidence. However, when the babies were two months old their special abilities became known and news crews came to report on the children. They even featured in a few scientific programs."

"They really could talk that early?"

"There is footage of trusted video sources of that time that actually showed one of the children telling the parents that they needed to be cleaned and diapers to be changed. Obviously the sentences were basic, and not as elaborate as the one I just used, but it was clear communication in which even an outsider that saw the footage for the first time would understand what the baby meant."

"So, are you telling me that Vasha will be telling me stories in a few months instead of the other way around?"

Seven thought about that for a moment. Then she shook her head slightly. "I am not dismissing it, but I doubt it. That case was so well known exactly because it was such an extreme case, more so because it involved three babies."

"Which were triplets, so they all shared the same DNA," B'Elanna interrupted. "If one can do it, I'm not really surprised that the other two can as well."

Now Seven nodded her head. "I agree. Obviously I cannot tell you what the case will be with Vasha, however I assume that for a long time the communication will be basic. She will be able to talk coherent sentences long before most other Human children would, but intricate sentence constructions will be another matter. After all, a lot of how people talk is also social upbringing. Just look at the difference between you and me. You like to shorten your words like letters are on a budget and you want to save by using as few as possible, while I prefer to leave the language in the way it was meant to be used and use words properly."

B'Elanna laughed. "Whaddaya mean? I ain't never used no language wrong. It's you that's always doing it wrong like."

Seven groaned, right before tickling her lover's very reachable side.

"Hey, cut that out bitch," B'Elanna objected as she squirmed under the attack.

Seven did so, changing her attack from a tickle to a loving caress, but never stopping with moving her hand over B'Elanna's body.

"So, your educated guess is that until she learns that sometimes words are added simply for the sake of the flow of a sentence, she will keep it to basic, use as few a words as possible?" B'Elanna guessed.

"Indeed. In fact, in the beginning we might have to translate for her. Take today, now we know what 'ga' and 'na' mean. So now we know that she answered a question, but even Pagsha and Katzi, who spent the most time with Vasha besides us, would merely assume that they are baby sounds."

"We'll need to tell them tomorrow," B'Elanna immediately noted. "They should know so that they too can understand our extraordinary treasure."

"We will," Seven assured. "However, in the mean time, B'Elanna Torres, you need to keep this in mind as well. As of today you need to watch your words in front of her. No more proclaiming that I made you wet, or that I am fucking stubborn."

B'Elanna chuckled. "Well, you are. But you're right baby. I'll watch it. I don't want Vasha to answer a question with 'fuck yeah' any time soon."

"Very well, with that settled, you promised to show me something," Seven suddenly said, changing the subject. Her daughter's abilities was something to keep in mind, but not something that were of need of occupying their every free moment for the next few days. Vasha was their daughter, this unexpected ability was part of her, they would accept it and go from there; as simple as that.

"You're right," B'Elanna happily agreed as she started to move.

Seven used her second hand to hold her lover in place, her first hand never stopping with moving over that wonderful caramel colored skin that she liked to touch so much. "No, I like you like that. Stay and show me."

"Well, it isn't really the position I was in," B'Elanna pointed out as she nevertheless softly started to squeeze her breasts through the fabric of her shirt. "I was so turned on that I didn't bother with lying down, you know?"

"I know, from your first demonstration," Seven agreed. "Call it, call it artistic license."

"Oh, I like being artistic for you," B'Elanna happily agreed before starting to treat her lover to a sexy and satisfying show.

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

Year 01, Month 01, Day 12, Hour 22, Minute 43.

Somewhere in the Delta Quadrant.

"Mayday. Mayday. Please anyone, I need assistance, I,"

{Warning. Core-breach imminent. Evacuate.}

He slapped at the console, muting the alarm, until the next warning cycle would start. He hadn't been able to figure out how to switch it off completely.

"Please, anyone. Mayday, I," This time he stopped talking when he saw a green light flash across the engine room, and then it was gone. It had happened so fast that he wondered if he had imagined it. He decided to turn back to the more important thing of staying alive.

"Mayday. Pl..."

His words trailed off when suddenly there were two flashes of green light. Only this time they didn't disappear. Instead they seemed to solidify until two people were standing in Engineering with him. Both were clad in some black uniform.

He quickly sank to his knees and cowered as low as possible, as he had been trained to do all his life. He glanced up from the corner of his eyes; a little trick he had learned over the years to pretend that he was keeping is head down but nevertheless could see the beatings coming.

One of the two strangers, a woman judging from the ample swell in the chest area, walked over to the warp core. He saw her smash her hand into a console, breaking glass and metal alike. Then she pulled her hand back out, holding a piece of wire.

{Warning. Core-breach immin... core regulator has been deactivated. Core is in auto-power-down sequence. Condition Gamma is now in effect. End of all alarms.}

The second stranger, a man he guessed, turned to him.

"Greetings. I am Gryndi Waneel of the Borg Collective. This is Fliana Ree'lk of the Borg Collective. I apologize for the destruction of your console, but we scanned your ship and deduced that it was the quickest way to stop the core-breach. Once you have repaired the panel your ship will be usable again. Though I would strongly suggest that you build in a reversed core regulator, so that the next time, the core automatically shuts down instead of trying to regulate to the point of explosion."

"I, I would not know how to do that," He admitted from his place on the floor. "I, I also don't know how to fix the panel, honorable master."

He saw the man named Gryndi frown for a moment, and he knew that the stranger must have started to put the pieces together.

"What is your name?" Gryndi asked as he helped the cowering man to his feet.

He went with the motion. He knew how touches felt, how to interpret them. He knew that the gentle help up would have turned into a carless lift off the floor otherwise. He realized that there was tremendous power hiding in that misleadingly thin arm.

"I am called Boy, master."

"Boy?" Gryndi repeated. With his free hand he reached up and pulled off the bandanna that had been drawn down far enough to cover 'Boy's' forehead. Gryndi nodded when he saw the branding, and his guess confirmed. "You're a Grak slave. What are you doing alone on a ship?"

Boy saw that the woman turned to them and the two strangers looked at each other for a moment. Then the woman nodded and turned back to the panel.

"Fliana will start repairs. I ask again, what are you doing alone on a spaceship? Grak slaves are considered property. Where is your master, and what were your services? Clearly you are not the engineer of this ship."

"My mistress is dead, master. Four days ago she and the engineering slave took the shuttle down to a planet. She had debts to pay, but couldn't meet them. She was sure that she could stall for more time. Next thing I know I hear a message on the news channel that my mistress paid off her debt with her life and all of her possessions now belong to the creditor."

"She was killed for her debt and the killer claimed all her possessions," Gryndi clarified. "A somewhat unusual but not uncommon practice in Grak territory."

"Yes master," Boy agreed. "I assume that this is why the Engineer slave didn't come back, he is now property of the new master."

"As are you," Gryndi pointed out.

"Yes, master," Boy admitted. Then he added with a blush, "But my mistress often teased me by telling me that she would hand me to the new master when we were traveling to the destination. She told me some of the things the other master likes to do with pretty boys like me, as she called it."

He was at that, Gryndi had to admit as he looked the slave up and down for a moment. Now, knowing that the young man was a slave, and seeing a surprising absence of marks on his body other than the slave branding, Gryndi made the connection. There was a certain kind of slave that was always punished in such a way that beatings never left a mark on the skin. "You're a sex slave."

"Yes master. That's also where my name comes from. My mistress bought me six years ago and called me boy then. She never called me otherwise since then."

"Six years with the same mistress? That's impressive for a Grak sex slave. Normally they're sold on after a year of two."

Boy blushed deep red when admitting, "My mistress liked the fact that I can... perform, on command. And please for as long as she wanted to be pleased."

"The repairs are complete, for now," Fliana spoke up. "Obviously this panel is beyond use, but I rerouted controls to that panel over there. Crude, but effective. You'll be able to continue your journey in approximately one hour. The core needs to cool down first and you cannot rush that."

"And we'll be spending twenty minutes of that time with you," Gryndi added. "Our ship was underway to another emergency call, so we were beamed over here after it was considered safe, since we knew how to prevent a breach. Another mode of transport is already underway for us."

"You're leaving me here?" Boy asked amazed. He could not believe that these masters would not hand the property back to the Grak government. After all, neither ships, nor slaves, were that cheap. And there was a new master waiting.

"We are. We have no ties with the Grak, other than the fact that a few of them are in the collective after having been assimilated twenty-one years ago. Therefore the law that property must be returned to its owner does not apply to us. As far as we're concerned you're free to continue your course to your destination."

"I don't know what my destination is," Guy suddenly wailed. "When I heard the news I came down here to prepare the ship for boarding by the new owner. Just to clean up a little. I accidentally bumped that console there, fell forward and hit that console there, and suddenly the ship announced 'autopilot initiated' and off it went."

"Where would you like to go?" Gryndi asked. "We can set a course for you."

"Anywhere as long as it's away from Grak territory," Boy said, his voice full with hope.

Once more the two strangers looked at each other in silence for a moment. A moment that lasted longer than the last one had.

"We just connected to the Hive," Gryndi said, knowing that the young man would not know what that meant, but it needed saying to explain the next part. "You're in luck. The Queen is regenerating at this moment and she reacted to our query herself. She decided that you're only alive because of our intervention. Therefore we're not taking property away from an owner; you're already lost to them. Because of that the Queen has granted us clearance to offer you a home in the Borg collective."

"A home? You mean that I would have to service your Queen?"

"We all serve our Queen, but she is not in need of anyone but her Mate to provide the kind of services you provided to your mistress," Gryndi said amused.

Having made a last check of the systems, Fliana joined the other two. "The systems are now set to automatic. I added a nano scanner that will warn me if a problem occurs. We could wait somewhere else. Maybe someplace where we can sit down?"

That last was said with a glance at Gryndi, who happened to be her best friend, but nevertheless also her commanding officer.

"A good idea. How about the bridge?"

Knowing the outlay of the ship from the original scan, Gryndi started to walk. Boy followed him, with Fliana at his side.

"So why was your mistress traveling with only two slaves on a ship that is suited to transport fifty people, at least."

Boy looked at her, seeing the friendly smile she was giving him, he blushed. He may be a sex slave... or may 'have been' a slave as it seemed, but he had never lost his shyness. Probably because his mistress had never cared about anything but having him perform for as long as she had need. To actually have a very attractive woman grace him with a friendly smile was very new to him. More so because she was of a species he had never heard of. Her looks stirred a weird feeling in his stomach that he had never felt before, but he liked it.

"Because my mistress fell on hard times since she killed her husband in a duel. She challenged him because she felt that she should be in charge of his business. She won the fight, but she vastly underestimated what it took to run a business. She started to borrow money to make up for losses. The household once had almost a hundred private slaves. Things never got better. Slaves were sold, property, smaller sub-businesses, all went to pay loans only so that her credit rating stayed good and she could get new ones. Her company is nothing more now than just a known brand name with nothing to back it up. She was living on this ship for the last two months after she sold the house."

"And yet she kept a sex slave," Fliana pointed out.

Boy lowered his eyes. "The more she lost, the more, um, active she became. If she was having sex she was not thinking of other things."

"And you delivered whenever she wanted to forget," Fliana said in understanding.

They moved on in silence.

"So if I won't be servicing the Queen, who will I serve?" Boy asked as they entered the bridge.

"As I said, we all serve the Queen," Gryndi reminded. "But you must move away from thinking as a slave. We don't have slaves in the collective." He chuckled. "Or depending on who you ask we all are slaves that are told what to do and how to do it. We all work for the Collective, but..." an idea for a simple explanation came to him. "You basically can see us as a Collective of your former masters. They have jobs, they work for people, they report to superiors. We're much the same. Only we don't have slaves working for us. We have a lot of technology that takes the place of jobs that are done by slaves with your species. With you, slaves cook food, with us it's created by machines. With the exception of a relatively small number of people that work in restaurants because they actually like to create food."

"And, um what if people want," another blush, "my kind of services?"

"The Borg have holodecks that can be used," Fliana spoke up. "They create artificial people that act and feel like real people. They can be used for mindless sex. But a lot of species, including mine, don't do that for different reasons. For them there are other options. The fact that we have so many species in the Collective helps. There are several species that are extremely sexually active, and they don't mind sharing their surplus with other species, so to speak."

Boy digested that for a moment. "You mean, if they want sex and someone of a different species also happens to want sex... why not? But isn't, um, compatibility a problem?"

"Not as much as you would expect," Fliana assured. "Nature, or omnipotent beings, depending on your beliefs, long ago decided that the Humanoid form has certain benefits. Sure, there are species that simply are incompatible, but in eighty percent of the cases things... fit. Sometimes some creativity is needed, but that can be part of the fun. In fact, personal preferences as to what one considers pleasure is much more restricting than the humanoid body itself."

"Fliana, maybe you should switch seats with me," Gryndi suddenly said with a chuckle when the undertone of the conversation of the other two registered with him.

Fliana looked at him in surprise and then her cross shaped pupils dilated a little. "Um, yes, that might be a good idea actually."

"What did I do?" Boy asked.

"Nothing other than not having a Mate at the moment," Gryndi assured amused as he sat down in the chair that Fliana had just vacated.

Boy looked at Fliana who treated him to a smile. He immediately blushed, again.

"Maybe," Fliana started, only to be interrupted from a beep of a panel to the side of the bridge. She got up and walked over to the panel. "A starship is heading in our direction." She hesitated for a moment as she used her link to the Hive to reference the style of the ship. "I believe it to be a Grak Enforcer class ship."

Boy started to shake.

"I bet that they picked up your mayday as well," Gryndi guessed.

"No. They'll take me back. I knew it was too good to be true."

"Our Queen did offer you a home in the Borg collective," Gryndi reminded. "Do you take the offer?"

Boy gave a helpless laugh. "Oh I would love to. But you aren't going to stop them. We don't have weapons powerful enough to put even a scratch on their hull, while they can blast us away with one shot."

Fliana stepped away from the console and kneeled in front of the still sitting Boy. She opened one of the pockets of her tool belt and took out a small oval shaped medallion. There was a symbol on it that reminded Boy somewhat of a hand that was squeezing something between thumb and three fingers.

"I was given this when I joined the Borg, before I got my implants. It's an external Borg communicator. I kept it as a good luck charm. You can give it back to me tomorrow. Welcome to the Borg Collective, Boy Ree'lk."

Boy took the communicator, but his eyes never left those beautiful golden colored eyes with those fascinating cross shaped pupils. He blinked, realizing that Fliana had just given him a last name; her last name.

"Promise me that you'll give it back to me tomorrow," Fliana prompted. "I have a few things to explain to you, my Mate."

Boy nodded. He felt himself move closer to her, but she moved away just before their lips could touch.

"You're a troublemaker, my friend," Gryndi said with a shake of his head. "Go man the con station."

Fliana laughed as she got up and did as she was ordered. As she reached her friend she whispered in his ear, "At least he won't disappoint in bed. Plus he's really cute, incredibly nice, and has a delightful blush. Be glad, now you can stop growling at those suitors hanging around the department after having found out that you have a Siill in your department that needs bonding."

"Well, yes, that's a plus," He admitted before asking, "I do wonder why you didn't just pick one of them." Privately he was glad that he already had a wife when Fliana entered the bonding stage. It had resulted in him not being affected by the Maintainer that had been put under his care, and therefore he had been able to get to know her simply for the wonderful person that she was. A great friend to have.

"Because they are too stupid to first read up on us Siill. We will bond with whoever fits base criteria, yes. But the first contact should not be forced. A selection should happen naturally, as by accident."

"Like coming across a nice guy that has no clue about the bonding," Gryndi said in understanding.

"Yes, for someone that isn't of my species. Or if the person is of my species then someone I'm working with in daily life, or that I meet on my way to my job in daily life. All is fine, just not someone that very deliberately searches us out because they've heard that we're in need of bonding. After the first innocent contact is made, then they can run after us all they want and we even applaud them for knowing what they want. But the first contact should be something to think of fondly when thinking back to how we met our Mates."

Gryndi nodded in the direction of the console. "Let's talk later. My Mate is cooking today."

Fliana merely smiled brightly as an acceptation of the invite. It wasn't the first time she would have dinner with her friends. She had hardly sat down when she noted, "They're sending a message." Fliana played the message over the speakers.

"This is Kral, Third Constable of the Hio sector. We received your mayday. Its identification code told us that your ship is reported as missing property. We will board your ship and take control over it as soon as we are in transporter range."

"Oh no," Boy cried. Yet despite his almost paralyzing fear he noticed that the two strangers didn't seem to be impressed by the statement.

"Open a channel," Gryndi ordered. When Fliana nodded for ready, he spoke, "Third Constable Kral, This is Gryndi Waneel, Fifth Officer of the Borg Collective. We too responded to the mayday. We prevented this ship from being destroyed because of a Warp core overload. This ship has no value to us and you're welcome to claim it as soon as one of our ships arrives to transport us. However, as long as our ship has not yet arrived we declare this ship sovereign territory of the Borg Collective and any attempt of boarding will be seen as an act of war."

There was a long silence before a reply came back. "Borg? My second has heard the name somewhere once, but it doesn't really mean anything to us. If it doesn't take too long we are willing to wait for you to leave."

There was a short pause, and then the next words were spoken with a certain smugness. "But our sensors are picking up a slave tracking device, and along with the missing property report for the ship there was a mentioning of a missing slave. So I'm afraid that we really will have to board the ship to secure that property before you can be on your way."

"Oh well, it was worth a try," Gryndi said before signaling that the channel should be opened again. "Constable, I'm afraid I can't allow that. The former slave, called Boy, would have been killed in the explosion of this ship if we had not intervened. Therefore our Queen has granted him sanctuary and Boy is now considered a member of the Borg Collective."

"If you don't hand him over you will be destroyed," Came the expected reply right back.

"That is an unacceptable proposition. I would strongly urge you to refrain from any forceful acts against us. That would be extremely unwise. We are Borg, and the Borg protect their own. You don't want to face the retribution our capture or death would cause."

"I am getting tired of your bluffing. You will be boarded, we give you ten minutes to decide how you will react to that boarding. Be smart and don't cause problems. Kral out."

"Oh no," Boy cried. "You should, you should hand me over. You don't want to anger Enforcers. They get... mean when irritated."

Fliana came closer and caressed his face, making Boy look up into those confident eyes. "They gave us ten minutes."

"Yes, and,"

"And," Fliana interrupted, "We only need nine."

"For what?" Boy asked confused. Her proximity affected him, called to him. He felt himself move again, only to feel warm fingers being placed over his lips.

"You will see. But that means that I have about eight minutes now to explain something to you." She glanced at Granada who nodded in agreement. "You feel a very strong attraction to me."

Boy blushed when hearing that confident statement. He nodded shyly.

"You see, I am of a species called the Siill and..."

"We're being hailed," Fliana said from her place at the com station. She kissed her Mate, who was sitting on her lap. "Mind getting up and letting me do my job?"

Boy merely nodded as he got up. He was still so nervous that he was shaking slightly, but having been told that he now had someone that was going to share his life with him, or more to the point, he with her since she already had an established workplace, home, and friends, had taken his mind off the threat outside the ship. His new Mate had merely told him 'trust me', and he had found that he did.

"Your time is up," Constable Kral said over the com. system. "Are you going to cause trouble or did you wise up?"

"From your reaction I assume that you did not spend the last ten minutes wisely and do some research on the Borg?" Gryndi asked.

"Stop your stalling. Drop the shields or we won't even bother with boarding and simply destroy you."

Gryndi sighed. "Constable Kral, you leave me no choice. I hereby inform you that if you continue to insist on an altercation with us, we will retaliate in kind."

"You and what army?" Kral snorted dismissively.

"That would be me and this army," Gryndi replied. At the same time as he said this, areas of space around the two ships shimmered and ten huge blocks appeared apparently out of nothing. They dwarfed both ships in size. "Constable Kral, take this message back to your leaders. It comes directly from our Queen. We are the Borg. We protect our own. If you ever again come across a Borg drone, do realize that any act of violence against that drone will be considered an act of war against the entire Borg Collective. I would strongly advise that you recommend to your leaders to research the Borg and decide if they want to anger us. Also, we recognize the sovereignty of your territory, but as of today any slave found outside your territory is granted sanctuary by the Borg Collective, if they wish it. Gryndi Waneel, Fifth Officer of the Borg Collective, out."

"What, what are those?" Boy asked while looking at the viewscreen. "I have never seen anything so big."

"Those are the standard ships of the Borg Collective, called cubes," Gryndi explained. "This is the seventy-eight wing."

Boy quickly did the math and asked amazed, "Are you telling me that you have almost eight hundred of these ships?"

"Try several million," Gryndi corrected. "This is a new approach that our Queen introduced. She believes that if you have numbers, use them. The Borg have numbers. The Queen believes that if you show up with a force big enough to win a war, people will be more inclined to listen to suggestions instead of actually starting that war. This situation now is a good example. We also have smaller ships, but if one of those had come to take us home, then the Enforcers might have been tempted to try force. Now they are sitting over there on that ship peeing their pants and wishing they never tried to show their superiority by asking me 'you and what army'."

"This is called a wing? You said?" boy asked.

"It is. They are assigned to sectors so that they can give first response in situations like this. If a bigger force is needed then a fleet will arrive. A fleet exists out of one thousand cubes. With the exception of the First Fleet. They are designed as the Borg's main defense force and therefore they exist out of fifty thousand cubes."

"Fifty thousand of those, in one fleet?" Boy walked closer to the viewscreen and focused on the view that showed the Enforcer ship that now looked as small as a toy compared to the huge ship behind it.

"It's a new development," Gryndi explained. "The Borg Collective has gone through incredible changes in the last year. I for one like it. With the last Queen, individual drones were irrelevant. In a situation like now, we would have simply been considered dead and a ship would not even have bothered coming for us. Now every single drone knows that even if alone on a mission somewhere, the Queen will never consider them expendable. Sometimes sacrifices need to be made, we all know that. But if in any way possible, a Drone will be saved at all acceptable cost. If need be an entire army will come to the defense of a single Drone. Now, with the new Queen, every single drone in the Collective knows that no matter where they are, a drone is truly never alone."

Boy turned away from the viewscreen and looked at Gryndi. "There must be thousands of people on those ships."

"The wings and fleets have a standard crew of fifty thousand drones per cube. With the exception of the First Fleet, they have more drones per cube because the troops might be needed for ground maneuvers."

"And, and you're telling me that even if you were not here, they would have defended me, risked their own lives for me?" Boy asked in a whisper.

"They would," Gryndi assured. "After all, you accepted the Borg as your new home, so now you're Borg as well."

Boy's knees buckled and he dropped to his knees. "Half a million people. For me. To protect me." He moved further onto the floor until he was lying in a fetus position and was crying without restrain.

Fliana rushed to him, but Gryndi stopped her by grabbing her arm. "He's alright. I've seen this behavior before. I met my wife like this actually. As you know, she is a Ghdibrian. She was brought back into Individualist status in the same group as me. She, she didn't have an easy life before being assimilated. Being the twelfth wife of an abusive and tyrannical husband. She behaved in this same manner when she realized: no more. She was no longer property, she was no longer to be beaten for the smallest thing, or even simply because her husband felt like it. I happen to be the one that took her in a hug and comfort her, things went from there between us. He's alright, honestly. Just look at his hands."

Fliana did so and noticed that Boy was clutching something tightly to his chest.

"The communicator you gave him," Gryndi explained. "His symbol of freedom. Now go and comfort your Mate while we get off of this piece of rust. So that we can be brought back to our ship, and his new home."

Boy felt arms move him. He went with the motion. And as a green light started to form around him, he cried freely in those arms that now were his new home.


Chapter 43

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

Year 01, Month 01, Day 18, Hour 10, Minute 36.

Anidan glanced up, looking at the woman that was sitting across from her. A work table was between them that was way too big for Anidan's liking, it put them too far apart. She chuckled. Maybe that was a good thing. Like this, they could actually get some work done.

She leaned back, and only moments later she put her feet on the table. Finally she spoke up. "We should make this official."

The woman looked at her over the edge of the large format Engineering PADD. 'What?'

'This,' Anidan answered also mentally. 'You working here in my lab instead of your own office.'


'Because I get a lot more done with you here.' Anidan smiled. 'With you sitting across from me I can look up and just look at you for some time. You help me take my mind off things, so that I can go back to them a moment later with a refreshed look.'

Si'zaG walked around the table and straddled her Mate's legs, while putting her arms around Anidan's neck. "I have my own office for a reason," She said, deliberately talking out loud because she knew her Mate loved to hear her voice just as much as she loved the mental conversations. So Si'zaG liked to switch between them, so that her Mate would never know what treat she would get next.

"I'm not saying that you should give it up," Anidan objected, also talking out loud. She loved this little game and always played along. "At least not as such. I have an office attached to this lab. I use it for conferences, and to shout at people light-years away that are too stupid to follow my simple blueprints."

"Simple?" Si'zaG repeated, lifting her eyebrows in mock challenge, making the lines of the Y pattern on her face bend in what Anidan found an incredibly cute way.

"Well, they should be, for people that can connect to the Hive and look things up."

'Just like you connect to the Hive for the smallest thing, right?'

'Hey," Anidan objected, also mentally. 'I regenerate now, I join the Hive. I look things up.'

'Just that it's something of a last resort.'

'Well, yeah. So call me stubborn, but I like to figure things out myself.'

"You are stubborn," Si'zaG reacted immediately.

Anidan merely stuck out her tongue, only to decide that her tongue could be used for much more fun things as her Mate leaned in for a kiss. Once they broke apart, Anidan explained. "But neither of us spends a lot of time in our office. So why don't you move here, work wise that is. We can both use the office if we need it, and for the rest we both can work here."

Si'zaG pretended to think about it. "Well, if I'm working here I could keep an eye on you to see which things that you are stealing away from my department."

Anidan had the decency to look sheepish. "I stick them back eventually. I just take them out and play with them a little."

'I know, that's why I let you get away with it. But it's not really what our Queen set out for us.'

"Why not? We are only enhancing a base concept, I do that every day; it's my job even. Besides, what Seven doesn't know won't hurt her."

"The only problem with that is that I, as Queen, can know everything if need be," Seven suddenly spoke up, having heard the last line while entering the lab.

"Busted," Anidan merely said as Seven and her following entered. Anidan frowned. "We really have to come up with a name for you."

Si'zaG moved off her Mate's legs and took a position beside the chair, one hand still resting comfortably, even slightly possessively, on Anidan's shoulder.

"A name?" Seven asked. "I already have a name."

"That's not what I mean. You, your Mate, and your two friends there are almost always running around together. We should have a name that we can use to indicate you as a group, instead of just having to list all your names. It's going to happen sooner or later anyway, you know? As more Individualist drones talk about you in their off-duty time, eventually someone will tire of referring to you as 'Seven, B'Elanna, Pagsha, and Katzi,' and instead simply make up some group name. It might be better if you start it yourself so that you at least have a name you like. I mean, 'Seven and friends' doesn't do justice to the fact that one of those friends it actually your Mate. Or Seven and entourage isn't really fair to them either because they are more than just staff or followers."

"I and B'Elanna, and Vasha, who also is with us sometimes, are considered royalty by the Borg. So would 'the Royals' not cover this need for a single name to refer to the group?" Seven wondered.

"Do you consider Pagsha and Katzi royalty as well?" Anidan countered. "Besides, I don't like how it sounds. Ah, I know. This is pretty much the same, just sounds better. On my Home planet, the President and his family were called 'the First Family'. That sounds a lot less aloof than 'The Royals'. After all, as much as you want a name that you like, you also don't want people that really like you to pick a name that makes it easy to start, well, worshiping you or something. After all, a lot of them are being brought back into Individualist stage and now realize that the god they have been worshiping for millennia is in fact simply a species like the Q, or even simply a long living species with nothing more than telepathic and telekinetic abilities. It might be very tempting for them to shift focus to you. You want to be their Queen, not their living God."

"That's an excellent point," B'Elanna had to agree. "A lot of the Individuals drones admire you for what you did and do for them. We want them to admire you, yes, but not worship you. I think that 'the First Family' is a good name."

"Katzi and I are still not part of that family though," Pagsha pointed out.

"No, but you run around with them all the time," Anidan countered out. "Besides aren't you so close as friends that they consider you family?"

It was a blunt statement, so natural for Anidan. But it was also one that required making a choice. Yes or no. Simple one word answers, but they would have huge implications. It would make their friends become closer yet, or it would tell their friends that there would always be that one line between them.

"That they are," Seven finally said.

"The both of them," B'Elanna added while placing a hand on Katzi's shoulder. Conveying the message that she was included in that honor because she was considered that close, and not merely because Pagsha was considered that close and Katzi was simply included by proximity.

"The First Family," Seven repeated, seeing if she liked the sound of it. "It sounds informal, approachable. Like people that you can have a normal conversation with if one of them happens to address you. I like it."

"Me to," B'Elanna repeated her former liking for the name. "And it fits. Considering that you, my Mate, are One of Many, I'm Two of Many, and Vasha is Three of Many. We are 'the first' of Many. So, the First Family. Fitting. More so because if other people than Pagsha and Katzi are with us, it can still be used to refer to the group as a whole. After all, as good a friends as Katzi and Pagsha are, they aren't the only ones. I happen to know a certain Engineer that accompanies us almost all the time when we leave Unimatrix 01. At that point she too would be part of the group that is simply referred to as 'the First Family.'

"If you like I can go regenerate and share the information with the Hive, my Queen," Si'zaG offered.

Seven gave her a small smile in recognition of the offer. "Thank you, but that will not be necessary. This is not life of death information. The next time any of us regenerates on schedule will be soon enough for the Hive to find out about the new, and informal, designation."

"Alright, with that taken care of, why are you here?" Anidan asked.

"As polite as ever. I knew I liked you for a reason," B'Elanna grinned. "One might almost expect that you're trying to cover the fact that we caught you making out."

Though none of them mentioned it out loud or even over their Borg communicators, the minds of all of the First Family members flashed back to the time where two of them had been caught by the other two while doing a lot more than just making out. That had been fun.

"I don't see what there is to cover up," Anidan said with a shrug. "You allow infractions of protocol, up to a level, as long as the work gets done. This actually helps me do my work."

"Which is why my Mate and I have decided that I will work in her lab from now on, and we will share her office," Si'zaG added. "With you approval my Queen."

"Seven," Seven corrected. Then she looked over to the closed door of the office, and back to Anidan while lifting an eyebrow. "Will I see a report next that proposes making the door to your office sound proof?"

Anidan rolled her eyes. "Fine, forget about it. And just for the record, this is a lab. It, and the doors, are already insulated by blast proof material in case of an accident that voices its objection by a loud explosion. I don't need to put in a request for soundproofing; it already is. And second of all, I'm the damn Chief Engineer on this ship. Do you really think that I would bother with official channels instead of just doing it myself?"

Seven placed a hand on Anidan's shoulder. "Easy. I was only teasing. I know that it sometimes surprises people that I can actually tease. But my friends know, and put up with it. You are my friend, are you not?"

Anidan hesitated. She looked up and was surprised to see a trace of concern in those blue eyes. Finally she smiled. "Yeah, I am. Sorry, you just caught me by surprise there."

"We merely have to get to know each other a little better," Seven assured. "Find out where boundaries are, and find out just how far we allow our new friends to push them."

"I, I would like that," Anidan said hesitantly. She knew that she already shared a friendship with Seven, and also with B'Elanna, but she had a feeling that she had just been invited into a whole new level of friendship. "And about Si'zaG also working here?"

"You do what you think works best for you. And just for the record, actually, off the record, I do not care in the least what you do in that office, on, or off, duty. As long,"

"As long as by the end of the day the job is done," Anidan interrupted, starting to realize why Seven said that line so often to people. It wasn't necessarily that she was reminding them that she wanted the job to be done no matter what. It was more that she was telling them that she wanted the job to be done, on time, and didn't really care what they did along the way in regards to personal life, as long as that criteria was met and no rules were broken. "So, what can I, or my Mate, do for you?"

"Believe it or not, but I can actually come to see you without demanding that you conjure up some technological miracle in the next hour," Seven pointed out.

Anidan opened her mouth, only to close it again after a moment of hesitation. "Funny," She finally said.

Seven smiled. "We were in this sector and decided to see if you, the both of you, are interested in an early lunch. We have a meeting later, hence an 'early' lunch."

'Are you up to that?' Anidan asked her Mate mentally.

'Sure, it's not like they bite.'

Anidan laughed, ignoring the looks from the First Family. 'I wouldn't be too sure. I have seen them in other clothing than those uniforms and I have seen some interesting marks.'

Then she addressed the others. "Sure, lunch would be good."

"So what was this about me not knowing things?" Seven asked as she licked some sauce off a finger.

Anidan sighed. "Look, it's just that your plan isn't working." She frowned. "Well, it does work, but... Seven, since I'm madly in love with the person who is now in charge of the things I once controlled, I have no problem with saying now in hindsight that you were right. I had to give things up. Ignoring the wonderful benefit of the fact that I now work with my Mate, simply because I have less to do, I have more time to spend on the things I want to work on instead of things I need to work on. Absolutely, now I say that you were right, and I thank you more than I can even start to say, that you forced me to split up my department."


"But the problem is that now that I have the time, I started working again like I used to. Before I got so busy that I had to schedule everything, my mind sometimes wandered as I was doing boring stuff that nevertheless needs doing to make great inventions. I might be working on my pet project of transwarp, but my mind would drift to a new design for a communicator. Now I have time again, now my mind wanders again. And that wandering is not restricted by just who's department that communicator is part of. So sometimes I 'steal' stuff away from Si'zaG's department. I start working on something that according to your new rules I really shouldn't be touching, but I don't bother to note with the Hive that I'm working on it. Or, I shamefully admit, even ask or tell Si'zaG that I'm going to play with her stuff."

"And why not?" B'Elanna asked. "It's not that it's a huge hurdle to cross. We made it clear from the beginning that Engineering and Maintenance are considered equally as important, but that Maintenance should hand things back to Engineering if Engineering needs to work on something."

"I know. I, I guess it's for the same reason that I sometimes use a spanner as a hammer. My hammer is in the tool rack, only five steps away. But my spanner is right within reach. So you simply reach for the spanner for those few taps you need to make on some stubborn housing of a device, or whatnot. No matter how small the hurdle is to go and take that hammer, it's still a hurdle. Same here. I don't really need to ask for permission to take those things, I know that Si'zaG would love to hand them back to me as long as I don't keep taking without giving back. I know all of that. But still it's like, 'hey idea; do'. And frankly that's what I need. I don't want to be difficult here, but honest, that's how I got some of my best ideas. I get an idea, now, and I'm working on it five seconds later, right after I dropped everything else."

Seven nodded. "I have to think further ahead then only today. I also have to think of the time where others are in charge of your departments. Therefore I will leave the rules as they are because they are very clear to follow, for someone that is used to connecting to the Hive that is. However, I will condone your stealing, as you call it, with the clear demand that on the scale of things you do not start taking more than you are giving back to Maintenance."

"I won't," Anidan assured. "I simply play with it for a while. After that time I either succeeded in what I wanted to do, or it's clear that it's a long term project that needs to be in my department permanently, at least for the time being. At which, as according to your rules, I shift something else I can part with over to my Mate's department."

"Very well, in that case I will ignore your infringements of the rules," Seven paused for a moment before adding, "Which will not be the first time I might add. How is your regenerating going these days? I do know that you finally join the Hive again."

Anidan used the fact that she had food in her mouth as an excuse to think about the question for a moment. "Not long ago I told you that I see the Borg as my new home now. It was a statement. Something one says to make a point. Like saying that one would rather die than do something. Everyone knows that you would do it instead of dying if it comes down to it. Everyone knows it's just a statement. But when I got to my quarters I started to think. Yes, the Borg is my new home. But what kind of home is it if I can't trust the people I live with? I took the step to try and trust the people I live with."

"However, the amount of time you regenerate has not changed," Seven pointed out.

"No," Anidan admitted. "But the reason why it's so little has, plus how I do it. Seven, I'm the only person in the Collective that's allowed to regenerate like you can. Now the reason why I regenerate consciously has changed back to what I once told you as an excuse. Now it really is because I can use that time to work instead."

She smiled. "That is until my Mate tells me that it's time to call it a day. But the most important part is that now when I do regenerate I actually join the Hive and join in the conversations. Honest, Seven, it's all fine now. But as much as I have made my peace with the Hive, I simply find it a waste of perfectly good time to just join the Hive while I could be making stuff instead."

Seven glanced at Si'zaG who gave her the smallest of nods.

"You know," Anidan started to point out, "If I didn't trust my Mate completely, and on top of that her mind has no secret for me anymore, I would almost think that you slipped her into my area of work to spy on me. The way you are trying to communicate without me seeing it."

Seven clearly bristled at the words, but before she could say anything, Anidan grinned. "I can tease too. It's not too funny if you are the one on the other side, is it?"

Seven closed her mouth with a snap before letting out the breath she had taken to speak. After a long hesitation she finally spoke up. "It is not. Unless you are so comfortable with the person that is doing the teasing that you automatically assume that the comment is a tease instead of a bite."

Anidan picked up a new piece of food, for a moment looking at how it moved. She glanced at her Mate who had ordered for them. "Do I want to know what this is?"

"No you don't," Si'zaG said resolutely.

"Alright, just checking," Anidan popped the wiggling item in her mouth; trusting her Mate completely. "Hmm, good." Then she looked back at Seven. "So, are you trying to tell me that we should spend more time together, get to know each other?"

Seven considered that. "Maybe what we need is to spend more time together while talking about other things than your work."

They both realized only too well that the words were very measured. She wasn't necessarily saying that they had to spend more time together, just that they could use some of the time they spent together in a different way.

B'Elanna leaned forward a little. "Well, now that we have Si'zaG making sure that you actually use some of your time for a private life, how about we fill some of that in?"

"Meaning?" Anidan asked slowly.

"Meaning," B'Elanna picked up, "Anidan, I don't know what Katzi thinks, but I know for sure that Pagsha, Seven and I, consider you a friend. So why don't you stop playing grouchy and from now on accept the invites we give you to do fun stuff with us. Sooner or later we'll tire of asking you, you know?"

"The only problem with that is that I don't play grouchy; I 'am' grouchy," Anidan pointed out. "That is part of me; take it or leave it. I'm even grouchy to Si'zaG half the time. Just that she accepts it because she truly feels how much I love her even when I'm grouchy to her. So if you want me to hang around your social events you better get used to having a grouchy and boring spoilsport hanging around those events."

B'Elanna grinned, liking a challenge. "How about you come to our social events from now on, and we make it our life's mission to actually get you to have some fun?"

Anidan snorted. "Good luck. I don't do parties."

"No, but from now on you'll be at them," B'Elanna grinned.

"I will," Anidan finally relented. "At least at the parties of some people."

"Am I one of them?" Katzi spoke up. "Pagsha insists on us having a little party tonight to celebrate the fact that I concluded my first training section."

Now Anidan smirked, finally giving in completely. "I might as well. It's about time I truly get to meet the Mate of one of my friends."

"Maybe even make one in the process," Katzi offered.

"We will see." Anidan hesitated before asking, "So what is this training you passed? Or is it some super secret thing you can't tell me without killing me afterwards."

"Oh I can tell you," Katzi assured. She playfully stole an item of food of her Mate's plate. "You're on the right track actually. Master Gwenia decided that I reached a point where I don't need her lessons anymore."

"Master Gwenia?" Anidan repeated. "Doesn't ring a bell. But then, I don't know who trains you, or what you get trained in."

"She's a highly trained assassin," Katzi explained. "But she wasn't training me in becoming an assassin. Simply because of my body I would make a lousy assassin. It's hard to hide, and on top of that easy to recognize."

"So what was she training you in then?" Anidan wondered.

"In how to recognize the clear signs of being an assassin. She also trained me in being able to maim and kill if need be."

Anidan nodded. "I can get the last. You don't want a guard to be distracted by something as silly as a conscience at the wrong moment. But picking out assassins will be damn hard. Isn't the whole point of them that they blend in? As you said, you would make a lousy assassin simply because of your body. A 'woman of average size' is a lot more general description than 'it was this huge woman that had to duck her head when running through the door'."

Katzi chuckled. "True enough." She took a sip of her drink to wash down the food in her mouth. "Sorry. You see, Master Gwenia has studied many species to see how they behave when killing out of conviction. That's the important part. There are only a few people that kill because they want it for their own pleasure. The rest kill because they think it's the right thing to do, or because the voices told them to. For them you can see clear signs that give them away; all driven by the fact that they do have a conscience and don't want to do the killing, but feel that they have to for the greater good."

"Sweating on a cold day?" Anidan guessed. "A serious face when everyone else is cheering? Hands in their pockets?"

"Those are the clear signs," Katzi partially agreed. "But I have learned to not count on that. For instance, that person might actually be a scapegoat that's been put in place to take focus away and hide the real assassin. Or they might not be waving and smiling simply because they have a spitting headache and really should be seeing a doctor. But they didn't want to miss that chance to for once in their life to actually see the Borg Queen."

"Hmm, I guess," Anidan had to admit. "Yeah, I guess that if I didn't interact with the Queen as often as I do, I might decide to go see her before going to see a doctor. A doctor can wait for half an hour. So where is this party, who will be there, and at what time?"

"On the Royal Holodeck," Pagsha spoke up. "As for who will be there... how about we keep it small and stick to the people sitting at this table? At eight this evening?

"How about inviting ZAn as well?" Katzi suggested. "He's a hoot, I think he would be great to liven up a party."

"You just like to stand close to him and intimidate him by towering over him," Pagsha accused.

"Well, that too," Katzi happily agreed. "But I think that he would still be fun to have at a party. And a partner would also be welcome then I guess, if he has one."

"He does," Seven spoke up. "He is really close to a woman that works in his department."

"What? A woman?" Anidan asked surprised.

"Yes, what is wrong with that?" B'Elanna asked confused.

"Because he's as queer as they come. I swear, there must be something in the replicators here. I've never met so many gay people as I did here on this ship. Hell, just look around this table."

There was a moment of surprised hesitation before B'Elanna started to laugh, quickly followed by the rest. "You're one to talk. As far as I can see, you have a woman for a Mate as well."

"Oh, no, I don't count. I consider myself as straight as can be," Anidan objected. "Before I bonded with my wonderful Mate I never, even once, had any urges to have sex with a woman. Sure I appreciated the female form, but when it came to what gender I wanted in bed, there was never a question. And since it's irrelevant now either way, I consider myself one hundred percent straight. Just that straight or gay stopped existing for me the second I went from being straight to being bonded."

"You just lost me," B'Elanna admitted.

"We Siill don't have a gender preference," Si'zaG explained. "Once we bond we change mentally to fit with our Mate. If Anidan had been a man, then I would have changed to like all that she could give me as a man. I would even have been glad that she was a man instead of a woman. But since she's a woman I now like all the benefits that having a female partner brings, and I thank the Planner every single day for choosing her for me. She is my perfection, she is all I could ever have hoped for. It's the same for her. Now that she is bonded with me gender is irrelevant. In fact any other stimuli but me is irrelevant. So, if you really want to hear her preference for a gender, then I would agree with her and call her straight because that was her preference, extremely strong preference, before her preference was changed from straight to Si'zaG."

"Hey, wait a minute," B'Elanna said when hearing something very interesting. "What do you mean with that any stimuli but the Mate is irrelevant?"

"It's part of the bonding," Si'zaG explained. "Once bonded there's nothing but our Mate that can stimulate us in an erotic way."

"But the Mate can stimulate all the more," Anidan added. "Never before did a smile mean more than friendliness. Now Si'zaG smiles at me and my stomach does a flip."

"So are you telling me that you wouldn't care less if every single person in this restaurant was running around naked?" B'Elanna persisted.

Anidan chuckled as she looked around. "Well seeing some of them, I might start laughing." Anidan frowned when she saw the other women looking at each other. 'What's going on?' She asked Si'zaG mentally.

Si'zaG smiled. 'Well, I'm not digging, but from the waves they are giving off, I would guess that we just gave all the right answers without any of us knowing that the questions were being asked.'

"Well, if that's the case," B'Elanna continued, after having gotten approval of the others, "Then maybe the both of you might be interested in spending more off duty time with us."

"What's with the conspiracy hush?" Anidan asked, referring to the fact that B'Elanna had lowered her voice.

B'Elanna chuckled. "Funny. Alright, here's the deal. Pagsha, Katzi, Seven and I share an interest in watching how others have sex, and being watched by others as we have sex. We're lucky in the fact that we also share something else. We like to watch, but don't want to share. Now, if you know that we watch each other on a regular basis, I think you won't be surprised to find that this also translates to a casualness in things that don't involve sex. For instance, if the four of us are on the holodeck we don't bother with swimwear. Why bother to cover up when the others have seen those bodies do a lot more than just swim? But as casual as we are with each other, we wouldn't want others to see us nude, let alone see us do more. That doesn't mean that we don't want to share time with others, just that we don't want to trade off our casualness for being with others either. At least not all the time, not when we're simply on the holodeck because we had nothing else to do."

"So, we would actually be interested in having some extra friends around during those times when we are merely enjoying casual time," Seven added. "People to have fun with, people to play beach games with, who also just do not care at all about the fact that the people they are playing with happen to be nude."

Anidan chuckled. "At least now I know one thing for sure that some people are gossiping about."

"They are?" Pagsha asked with a blush.

Anidan shrugged, deciding to not play the joke further, considering how much her friend was already blushing. "I don't know, I can just tell you that I wondered occasionally, before I met Si'zaG and things like what others did became irrelevant to me. Look at it this way, as long as it's not brought into the Hive it means that it's all filtered out as irrelevant. Which means that even if people wonder, it's not in malice but simply the nature of people; to talk about things that are a lot more interesting to talk about than what they want for dinner."

'You didn't answer the question though,' Si'zaG pointed out mentally at the same time. 'Are we interested in spending more social time with them, as they call it?'

'How about you decide that?' Anidan countered while actually still talking out loud to Pagsha. 'I'm already a friend of theirs, so the only change for me would be that I have to be more social. Maybe not a bad thing since the Borg truly are my new home. I met my Mate here. Maybe it's a good thing that I also start having real friends here instead of what I had on my Homeworld; people I called friends but that I only spoke with about my job.'

'I like them. I wouldn't mind getting to know them better.' Si'zaG continued mentally while Katzi started to talk in some kind of reaction to the other conversation going on out loud. 'But, don't you worry that they want the same from us? To watch us, um, you know.'

'I don't think so. I think that it's more that they like to have company when they are having a good time. Company that won't stop talking and start gaping if they decide to kiss. Or maybe even fondle a breast.'

'Or kiss and fondle a breast,' Si'zaG added amused.

'Or that. Or for that matter, company that simply will get up and go and do something for themselves if a playful kiss escalates to something more.'

'You think that might happen?' Si'zaG wondered. 'They know that we are talking by the way. Or more to the point, they guess it without having talked about it over private Borg link.'

Anidan laughed, and seeing the lack of reaction to that told her how right her Mate was. "Oh how I love being Mated to a telepath," she said out loud, having a feeling that private conversations weren't needed anymore. "And yeah, it might. After all, doesn't an innocent touch between us often lead to a lot more?"

"Yes it does, but we do something about it in private."

"Oh, we won't hold it against you if you beam to your quarters for a while on occasion," B'Elanna assured. "Or for that matter, since we're on the holodeck a lot of those times, you can simply enter a command for a privacy wall and sound dampening. Besides, we don't have sex all the time. If we know up front that we're going to the holodeck to have some fun, of the sex variety, then we wouldn't even invite you to share that time with us. It's really mostly for situations like I just talked about. Swimming in the buff, or just lying around under the sun. We would love to have more friends around when we play on the holodeck. If you want to be nude as well it's up to you; it's more about us not having to restrain ourselves for the sake of modesty."

"We could give it a try tonight," Si'zaG suggested. "No wait, you were thinking of inviting ZAn."

"We can invite him for an hour or so," Katzi suggested. "Or we invite him soon for something else. I just suggested him to make the party more fun."

"I'm in the mood for a party," B'Elanna pointed out. "So why don't we simply have a party tonight. Then to see if Si'zaG and Anidan are comfortable around us if we're a bit more... casual... they join us the day after tomorrow. We have nothing planned after that four o'clock meeting. We could goof around on some beach then."

"I like that suggestion," Seven approved, and the others joined in the approval.

"Alright, with that settled, what's this about ZAn and a woman?" Anidan asked. "I mean, come on, I have seen him checking out guys you know?"

"ZAn does have a preference for his own gender," Seven agreed. "But that does not mean that he dislikes women. He likes them just fine, he just does not want to have sex with them. He found a perfect counterbalance in Loina, the woman we are talking about. She challenges his intellect. She is someone that he can talk with for hours, and that has the same passion as him."

"So they can literally talk for hours about the benefits of one shade of blue over the other shade of blue," B'Elanna interrupted. "Plus she's of one of those species that see sex separate from a relationship. So, the two of them are close, spent almost all their time together. Just that when she wants sex she goes out and finds the first person that says yes. And he? Have you seen him ever do more than just check out cute butts? His work is his ultimate lover. I guess you could call ZAn and Loina lovers that simply skip the whole sex part of the relationship. Maybe roommates is a better word, just that they aren't living with each other... yet."

Pagsha leaned forward a little. "Alright, since today is a party that's safe for others to attend, who else? We have eight people now in total, assuming that Loina is coming as well. Who else?"

"How about we leave it at that?" Katzi suggested. "I'm in the mood for a good barbeque party, and eight people are just right for that. Enough to sit around one table, and diverse enough to have stuff to talk about for hours."

"Alright," Pagsha relented. "But one of these days I'm throwing you a huge party."

"How about when I finish the next training you can throw me a huge party for becoming a Royal Guard in the first place? I never did get around to celebrating that, and back at home it's one of those full day party kind of things. Then we can invite the whole Senior Staff and entourage, and that's just for starters."

"Deal," Pagsha happily agreed.

"But for now," Seven spoke up. "I am afraid that we are expected at a meeting."

"And it's time for me to get back to work," Anidan agreed. They got up and parted with a 'see you at the party tonight.'


Chapter 44

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

Year 01, Month 02, Day 00, Hour 12, Minute 15.

The Senior Staff of Unimatrix 01 had a staff meeting twice a week to discuss the state of affairs on Unimatrix 01. But two times per month this staff meeting was different. Then Seven and B'Elanna would join the meeting and the things discussed were not just about the ship but could be about all things Borg. Seven valued the input of her Senior Staff and even without joining the Senior Staff meetings, Seven often called on one or more of them individually to give her their opinion on certain issues. One could say that over the last year the Senior Staff had also become Seven's unofficial advisors.

Captain Wolkav was the person that sat in the chair at the head of the table. He was the one that led the meeting. But the Senior Staff meetings had always been loose and people could speak up to ask questions or give opinions. Common courtesy and, if needed, Wolkav's guiding presence assured that everyone got the chance to present their report without too much interruption. At the same time everyone got their chance to ask the questions they wanted to ask on reports of others. This didn't change as such on those times that Seven and B'Elanna were present. The only thing different was that mostly it was Seven that made the final decision on matters concerning the Borg in general, while Wolkav made the final decisions on things that concerned only Unimatrix 01.

"And lastly, now that we have so many of the Sill in the Collective and therefore a much wider spectrum, I'm glad to announce that the situation didn't change," Doctor Lonika stated happily. "We now have members of every class in the Collective and with all of them the implants hold. The only thing the body fights are the nanoprobes, but we knew that. We merely tested it to see if this was the case with every class; it is. But as far as the other implants are concerned we are only sometimes hampered by body build, but we are working on that."

"As you know, in the beginning the neck implant didn't hold with the Siill warriors," Anidan spoke up. Though this was also part of her report, she mentioned it now because she felt it fitting to add this bit of information while talking about the Siill warriors. "But I think I have managed to adapt it so that we now have a version that does hold with the Siill warriors. Two hundred of them are testing it as we speak and none of them has reported any problem. I think that I'll be able to report with the next meeting that we did it, but I can't guarantee that now. I'm certain, but I just can't give you a guarantee yet."

"We do not want a guarantee from you," Seven assured. "We get guarantees from testing, from you an 'I'm pretty sure it will work' is all we need."

"Well, as I said, I think I managed to adapt it. So yeah, I'm pretty sure. Though, if you want to get technical you can't really call it a neck implant anymore since with the Siill warriors it's actually located at the front right under the throat. Of course this means that we'll have to adapt the different kinds of 'vests' to make sure that the connection is actually at the front. But seeing that the vests have to be changed anyway to fit the Siill warrior body physique this won't be much of a problem."

The 'vests' that Anidan was talking about were the name that had become normal use under the Individualist drones for the contraptions that could either be put on like a vest, or strapped to the body. Then a connector, to be able to control the different parts of the vests, could be plugged into the neck implant so that the Drone's cranial implant could control the vest, just as if they had been implants that had been part of the Drone's actual body.

"I'm glad to hear that," Chief of Security Lachakivediras spoke up. "I've something to discuss concerning the Siill warriors, but it can wait until it's my turn to give my report."

"Do you have anything else to add, Lonika?" Wolkav asked, remembering that the doctor had said 'and lastly.'

"No, I'm done, thank you for asking."

"Alright, then Lach, go ahead," Wolkav said, using the much shorter name that the Senior Staff normally used to address second officer Lachakivediras Horchakanven of security.

"Thank you. As I was saying, I'm glad to hear that an implant is ready that enables the Siill warriors to wear the vests. There have been Siill warriors in security for two months now, and I've been using them in different ways to see where the best potential lies. I found that the best potential actually lies in a Siill/Zamonan combination. They're both warriors so they can understand and appreciate each other's mentality. The main difference between them is that the Siill warriors don't want to be in a commanding position, because they are not Ruler class. They want to get orders and then fulfill them. The Zamonan on the other hand are very independent and have a tendency for liking to be in control, especially their warriors. I've found that those two work extremely well together if you put one Zamonan in command of a group of ten to twenty Siill warriors. Both sides really like that situation. I think we should make use of that. Leave security generally as it is, with members of almost all Borg species serving in it, but on top of that have special security details existing out of this Zamonan/Siill mix. Those teams would them be specially trained and be used in insecure situations or other special situations."

"You mean things like normal ship or planet security would be done by normal members of security. But if someone were for instance able to overtake a Borg ship we would send in these Zamonan/Siill special teams to retake the ship?" Wolkav asked.

"Yes," Lachakivediras agreed. "Situations like that. Or if Seven and B'Elanna go somewhere and more than the Royal Guard is needed to secure the place, then one or more of these teams would be sent in."

"Which would make being a member of these special teams a high-risk position," Pagsha noted.

"It would," Lachakivediras fully agreed. "But that high risk is something that actually appeals to both the Siill and the Zamonan. I think that if we were to create such teams without having the Siill and Zamonan in mind, that they would still be the first to apply for it."

"What do you think, Si'zaG?" Seven asked, only to add with a small amused smile, "I think it is safe to say that you are our Siill expert here."

"Well, talking about our warriors, I can assure you that they will love it. They want to do things like that; guard and if needed take the fight to the enemy. I think that the only problem there is that you have to make sure that the Zamonan that are teamed up with them aren't of the 'kick ass first and only then take names' mentality. Or else they won't be able to control the warriors and instead be pulled into their wanting to fight the enemy. But if the Zamonan are mentally strong enough, then they can hold our warriors in check and they would be excellent teams. Our warriors want to be told what to do, even if they are told to stand down and merely guard. They won't resent that order or the order giver, for they know that this too is needed. It might not be what they prefer to hear, but they will still like the fact that they have gotten a clear order and can fulfill it."

Si'zaG glanced up to the person who was leaning against the wall in a corner of the room. "Except for Katzi, who I know because she is a friend of mine, I don't know any of the Zamonan personally. But I do know from regenerating that about twenty percent of the Zamonan warriors would not be suited for leading a Siill warrior team; the Zamonan themselves would be too eager to fight. But if they have anything near the mentality that Katzi has they would be perfect to command a Siill warrior team."

"We could set up a test program that also tests the things that would normally be filtered out as irrelevant when regenerating," Lonika suggested. "If Zamonan want to join those special security details they have to agree to undergo such scanning. If they pass they can be put in charge of such a team but if they fail they can still opt to join one of the other security details, just not one of these special teams."

"On what timescale would you estimate that these teams could be ready?" B'Elanna asked.

"The teams I used to test how well they work together are basically already ready for these kinds of special duties," Lachakivediras said thoughtfully. "They'll only be out of operation for the day that it will take the Siill warriors to receive the implant so that they can wear the vests. But in general, when starting with a new team, I would say that it can be ready in one month. After that I would prefer if they train together for some time yet so that the Siill and the Zamonan become comfortable with each other and truly become one team. But that can be done on location."

Seven nodded. "As Katzi's training is proving; training over long distance is very doable. We can send such teams already to location, like you suggest. A benefit of that would also be that during the time they are being trained they also have time to get to know the area they have to work in."

"Seven?" Katzi said softly. She preferred to speak up like this if need be. By speaking softly she was also telling Seven that it was about something that Seven could ignore for the moment if she wanted to. Seven had done that on a few occasions where the ongoing conversation felt more important. But though Seven might not react, she would never forget, and before the day was over she had always asked Katzi what she had wanted to say. If it was more important, Katzi would become more vocal while speaking up. It was a simple system that they never talked about. It had simply developed.

"Yes?" Seven asked.

"My long distance training works, yes. But it's not doable on a large scale. One subspace transceiver is taken up for every master that trains me on the holodeck. I guess that Anidan could work on it so that it won't take up the full transmitter ability, but it will never be doable on a large enough scale to train teams on a regular basis. Plus, even if you could manage to do that, there are only so many trainers to go around. Even if long distance training would take up nothing more than the bandwidth of a subspace message. You are still stuck with the fact that one trainer can only train one group."

"That's a good point," B'Elanna agreed. "I'm making huge strides in my martial arts training simply because Katzi is training me one on one. She catches every little mistake I make and corrects me. But could she do the same if she is training a hundred people at once? Let alone if those hundred people are actually in five different places. No, quality will suffer."

Lachakivediras nodded. "I must agree, long range training is not possible for a large scale. Not if we want one on one quality training. So training on location is not possible after all. Not until we have a large enough number of trainers that is."

"But do you even need that personalized training?" Katzi asked. "I know that it sounds good, and it also sounds like something you would like to offer to people. To be trained so directly by masters sounds by definition like an honor. But is it really needed? You have to keep in mind that you are starting out with Zamonan warriors that are already trained, and the Siill warriors are basically born with fighting abilities in their genes. They don't really need the kind of training I'm getting. They don't need guidance. What they need is someone to show them that something is possible, and then show them how to do it. You could record the trainings of the first teams in a holoprogram and then create hologram trainers from that. After all, each team gets the same training, right?"

"That's the plan," Lachakivediras agreed.

"But wouldn't that still leave the problem?" Pagsha asked. "Only that you now shifted it from a limit of trainers to a limit of holodecks. Unless you want to build a holodeck big enough for group training on every location where such a team is sent to."

"Not if we keep in mind that people actually have to get to their location," B'Elanna pointed out. "Those teams will be transported to their location by a Borg cube. They can use the holodeck on the cube while on route. And once there the cube can stick around for a while if the training isn't finished yet."

"We can try that," Seven agreed while looking at Lachakivediras to see if he agreed as well.

The Chief of Security nodded before continuing with his original report. "Because the Sill as well as the Zamonan are only part of the Borg as Individualist species, I would actually prefer to use that fact; have the teams be not linked to the Collective. Except for when they regenerate of course. During this month of training the entire team can also be instructed in how to use different kinds of vests the best way. The hard part there will be to get the Siill warriors to where they use weapons instead of just running at the enemy and taking them on in close combat. I want the teams to be able to fight at a distance as well, but that they excel even more in close combat."

"What about the rest?" Si'zaG asked. "Let me use an educated guess and say that there are two million Zamonan in the Collective that are suited to lead and would like to do the job. But because half of my species is coming here we are talking about billions of Siill. We already have over 250 million Siill warriors in the Collective as we speak. That alone is a mix of one Zamonan on 125 Siill warriors. But you were talking about having teams of one Zamonan on ten to twenty of our warriors, so, what about the rest?"

"A very good question," Seven agreed, indicating that she was also very curious about the answer.

"Despite the size of the Collective, situations where such special security details are needed are limited," Lachakivediras said. "I believe that two million of these special security details spread throughout Borg space will be enough. So we'll have enough Zamonan to lead these teams, but that's not my reason for the suggested number of teams. More of these special teams won't be needed because in other situations normal security will be more than enough. I would say that the Siill warriors that aren't part of these teams would best be suited for guarding ships, starbases, and planets that are located on the border of Borg space. Places where we sometimes have to suffer attacks and raiding from people that think that the Borg are either an evil that has to be defeated, or by people that believe that if they're able to get away that the Borg won't care much about their raids."

"That, and on the new colonies we establish," Pagsha suggested. "Since only Individualist drones are settling there at the moment, they can use some mental security. It's a very nice feeling to be part of the Borg Collective and knowing what can come to your aid if needed, but still. It would be very comforting to this new colony to know that there are, say two thousand Siill warriors stationed in the colony."

Pagsha hesitated before continuing. "You all know how my species lived before we were assimilated. When brought back to Individualist stage, a lot of women from my species would still want strong warriors around to be sure that they are protected. Protected not only from outside forces, but also from people that want to bring the woman's status back once more to being considered property. It's nice to know that the Borg wouldn't allow this, but it would be very comforting to see the Siill warriors walking through the colony, to know that help is nothing but a shout away."

"If they cannot be part of the special security details. the warriors of my species would like to have positions where they feel truly needed," Si'zaG agreed. "Security on a ship might be needed, but it still might not give a personal feeling of being personally needed. Our warriors would prefer positions where they feel that they make a difference there. They would like to be the security in a situation like Pagsha just said. To be walking through a village knowing that it's secure because of them. Not because they are Borg, but because they, Siill warriors, are there and making it secure."

"Very well, Lach, you can start creating and training these special teams," Seven approved. "And for the reason Si'zaG just pointed out, try to find 'interesting places' to station the remaining Siill warriors. Si'zaG, do you see any potential problems with any of the other Siill classes?"

"Not really," Si'zaG said after a moment of thought. "With the other classes I think that the normal way that the Borg assign drones will fit here as well. The Ruler class will be very suited to be in command obviously, so you might see them being suggested for command over colonies, planets, ships, or even whole sectors. The same with the other classes. Maintainers like me will automatically drift to positions where they can do just that; maintain. You did say that you wanted to implement the Maintenance department as a standard all over the Borg territory; that you'll always find an Engineering department working besides a Maintenance department. I think that you might want to leave some room for people there. Our Maintainers will love that position and I think the Borg will like them there because they are extremely suited for those positions. Basically it will be the same with the other classes as well. They'll prefer to do work in a specific direction, and the Hive will find that those drones are very suited for... work in that specific direction."

"Thank you," Seven said with a nod. "I will have a talk with F'loR later on and see which positions he thinks the other classes would best be suited for."

Si'zaG smiled. She really liked how Seven kept Si'zaG's preferences in mind. How her friend knew only too well just what the limit was of what Si'zaG was comfortable with deciding on. Saying that the others of her class would really like to work in Maintenance was not hard, and it was obvious that the warriors of her species would like to feel needed wherever they were assigned. But deciding on what the other classes would probably like was something else entirely. For that the input of her brother F'loR, someone of the Ruler class, would be much more beneficial.

"Alright, Lach, since we were with you, anything else you want to bring up?" Wolkav asked and started to move the meeting along again.

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

Year 01, Month 03, Day 21, Hour 11, Minute 08.

{Unspecific designations should not be encouraged.}

{Unspecific designations lead to inexact recordings of situations.}

{Inexact, yet clear.}

{Allowances have to be made for unlinked drones.}

{Unspecific designations should be allowed if the designation is meant as a reference, and not meant as a precise recording of which drone did what.}

{This discussion is irrelevant, we are already using unspecific designations for millennia.}

The Hive did not immediately respond to that, so the voice that had spoken up last explained.

{If a cube of the First Fleet is destroyed, do we not still call it the First fleet, even though this designation no longer reflects the group makeup we gave that designation to, and therefore it is no longer correct according to the argument of this discussion?}

{If three drones join the Collective, they are called One, Two, or Three of three, if the first drone dies, do we not still call the second drone Two of Three?}

{Unspecific designations are being used more than specific designations according to that argument.}

{Then the discussion should not be if we should allow general use of them, but on how we can use them and still keep proper track of all things Borg.}

{For this argument it has been accepted that unspecific designations are being used and that we will accept the continuing use of them.}

{We could monitor... One of Many has joined the Hive mind.}

"Unspecific designations?" Seven asked as the recorded parts of the discussions going on at the moment were uploaded so that she could join them and know what had been discussed and what points had already been conceded, at least for the discussion. Of course, this was only one of several million conversations that were going on in the Hive at that time, she just reacted to it because it was the most interesting one.

At the moment Seven's body was in her quarters, in the regeneration room. Ever since B'Elanna had started to regenerate as well occasionally, even though for her chosen implants it wasn't strictly needed, they had decided to add a small room that was connected to the bedroom that had several regeneration alcoves. This so that Seven, B'Elanna, and Vasha, could all regenerate at the same time if they wanted. Of course, Seven didn't strictly need the alcove since she could also regenerate consciously with the tubes that connected to her back. But she did use the alcove when B'Elanna regenerated. It somehow turned regenerating into a family affair.

"The Hive is gossiping about us?"

{The Hive is discussing the recompense of unspecific designations.}

{The designation of First Family was merely a trigger since it is a designation which refers to something that should be known, but is not.}

{The indicator of First Family clearly points to One, Two, and Three of Many, yet it has been made clear that the name should be used to indicate the group the First Family is traveling with.}

{It is a contradiction; the First Family is traveling with the First Family.}

"That is actually a valid point," Seven was forced to admit. "However, we felt that the First Family had more value as a designation to indicate the group. For instance, if we visit a planet then the group exists out of us, people we selected for that trip because we think they can advise us on the subjects we are going to discuss, security, potential aids, and several other people. It is easier to indicate that this whole group is mobile, for instance by saying that the First Family is now planet side. We felt that this was acceptable because if the Hive truly wants to indicate only me and B'Elanna, or me, B'Elanna, and Vasha, then the Hive can refer to us as the First Two or the First Three."

{Then the designation First Family should not be used to actually indicate the First Family.}

{This is a contradiction.}

"It is not," Seven disagreed. "After all, this group is only referred to as the First Family if the First Family is actually traveling with this group. So the designation of First Family is valid, just that the argument that the designation is not precise enough is also valid. I would suggest to do as I just indicated; to use the title of First Family to indicate the group, and to use the title of 'the First Two', or 'the First three', if you want to truly indicate me and B'Elanna or us and our daughter."


{However, the First Family was merely an example used.}

{The discussion on whether unspecific designations should be used is still not settled.}

"True," Seven agreed. "And while that discussion is ongoing, allow me to start a new one."

She waited for a moment as strings of thought shifted in the Hive. The discussion on designations became merely one of millions going on while a new line of discussion was created. "I came here today to introduce,"

"Lo," A new voice spoke up, interrupting Seven.

But then, this was Seven's own fault since she had decided to join an ongoing discussion for a moment instead of keeping the agreed upon time in mind.

{Unauthorized identity detected.}

{Initiate Purging procedure.}

"Belay that," Seven interrupted. "This identity has authorization to be here. Hive, allow me to introduce my daughter to you. This is Vasha Borg; Three of Many."

For the first time since... well, ever as far as Seven could remember, a hush fell over the Hive. For a few seconds not a single discussion was being held. Then slowly the discussions started again. But Seven could feel that the discussions continued because they were important to the Hive, but that at the same time all of those drones were also monitoring several other discussions going on; and every single one of them was monitoring the new discussion Seven had started.

{Two of Many has joined the Hive,} One of the many voices noted.

"Did our little terror already shock them into silence?" B'Elanna asked when she noticed that the Hive was a lot quieter than normal. Quieter being a relative description with millions of discussions going on of course. "Sorry for not being here earlier, but I wanted to make sure that Vasha was truly alright body wise before I joined."

"I believe that the Hive was not expecting to hear from her for several years yet," Seven noted. Then she explained to the Hive, "Vasha already has the ability to follow discussions, though her ability to reply is still very limited at this point."

"Of course, the fact that a three month old baby can reply at all is a huge feat," B'Elanna pointed out amused. "At least for a Human or a Klingon. Seven and I discussed at just what time we should let her join the Hive for the first time. Then we decided that age really isn't the factor. No matter what, connecting to the Hive for a first time will be an onslaught. I mean, just look at the new drones that connect. It takes them months to get comfortable, and only a hand full of them start their own discussions in those first months. So we decided that we would approach it from the other side. Vasha will from now on join us when we regenerate and join the Hive. But we've put a filter on the device that allows her to connect. For the moment she can only follow this discussion. Once she becomes comfortable with following one discussion in the Hive mind, we'll open a second channel on the filter, and so on. We'll ease her into the Hive one discussion at a time, so to speak."

{I wouldn't have minded that,} One of the billions of listening voices spoke up softly.

{Such a filter could be used to let new drones get acquainted with the Hive.}

{It would prevent new voices from being overwhelmed and therefore staying silent.}

{New drones are not like Three of Many; they need all the Borg information at once.}

{New drones start off by being eased into the Collective, such a filter could be part of this procedure.}

{Certain decision channels could be active and be the first channels that new drones contact to, channels that will answer questions they always have.}

{It would cut back on the same questions being asked time and again in other discussions where they should not be asked at that moment.}

"And that's actually a good point to discuss in a new discussion channel," B'Elanna interrupted. "Why don't we stick to Vasha here?"

Apparently the hive agreed, and the discussion about being eased into the Hive continued, just on another channel where the information was now part of the background noise for Seven and B'Elanna. They still knew what was being discussed, still heard every argument. Just that now it was more part of the subconscious. Just like a conversation someone once had long ago and only happened to remember at that point.

"Vasha, meet the Hive," Seven introduced. As she did so she noticed a shift in the voices. Though communication in the Hive existed only out of voices, and no visual input, it almost felt as if millions of voices were shifting closer for a 'look' while millions of others shifted away. Seven realized that a few years ago she would have been one of the last. Before she got to know and interact with Naomi, Seven had always felt that interacting with young voices was irrelevant. They simply had to do as they were told. And now, mere years later, hearing a young voice say a single word could be her greatest delight.

"Lo," Vasha said again.

"Her vocabulary is very limited," Seven pointed out. "B'Elanna and I will interpret her replies for you. 'Lo' leans hello."

{Hello my Princess,} One of the more daring voices spoke up. {Welcome to the Hive.}

{Has Three of Many joined to monitor the communications?} Another voice asked.

"She does not," Seven assured. "We merely want her to start connecting to the hive at a young age so that it will feel perfectly normal to her; a part of her."

"Though, you might find that Vasha is very inquisitive," B'Elanna added. "The answer to one question often leads to another question."

"Wha Hiv?" Vasha spoke up.

"And that is the question that brought us here now," Seven explained. "We were talking about the Hive and Vasha asked us what the Hive was; wha Hiv, meaning, what is the Hive. We decided that instead of merely explaining it, we would show her."

{We are the Hive,} One of the voices said, stating the obvious. To them the Hive needed no explaining; the Hive merely was.

When Vasha didn't reply to that, another voice tried. {The Hive exists out of the trusted voices in the Collective.}

{In the Hive information is shared, orders are given, data is analyzed.}

{After some changes proposed by our Queen, the Hive is now also the place where voices communicate with voices in other areas of the Collective.}

{Where friends go to meet with each other if they cannot do so in person,} another voice added with some hesitation. It knew that the explanation would explain things, but it almost sounded as if it was unsure if this new angle to the Hive should be discussed so openly.

"Which we promote," Seven added. "There is no limit on bandwidth in the Hive, so why not allow for these extra communications? As long as the personal chatter is kept separate from the core workings of the Hive."

"Wha Colv?"

"What is the Collective," Seven translated.

{The Collective is all things Borg.}

"Colv Hiv?"

"So the Collective is the Hive?" B'Elanna spoke up. It hadn't taken much work to interpret the last question since it was pretty much the same question that came to her mind after hearing the two explanations. The only difference was that she knew the answer.

{The Collective is not the Hive.}

{The Hive is part of the Collective.}

"That is confusing," B'Elanna warned.

There was a moment of silence, on that discussion channel, and finally one of the more daring voices spoke up, trying to explain.

{The Hive exists only out of the trusted voices in the Collective, therefore it is part of the Collective but it is not the Collective as a whole.}

{The Collective is all things Borg.}

{A planet is part of the Collective.}

{The Royal Family is part of the Collective.}

{A cube is part of the Collective.}

{Nanoprobes are part of the Collective.}

{The Hive is part of the Collective.}

{It is because of this that we consider a hostile act to a single Drone a hostile act against the entire Collective.}

{Drones are part of the Collective, and their thoughts when they regenerate are part of the Hive.}

{The Hive does not exist as a physical place, with the exception of transmitters, receivers, and other communication technology.}

{Yet it exists because the Collective exists and the Drones in that collective regenerate and join the Hive like you are now.}

Vasha was quiet for a moment while absorbing this. During that time the Hive made several other examples of the difference between the Collective and the Hive. Suddenly she asked, "Trust, no all?"

"Oh, boy," B'Elanna spoke up. "Seven, remind me to never get into an argument with her, and instead simply only say 'because I said so'."

Seven knew only too well what her lover was talking about and asked the question that both of them had understood. "Vasha asked, 'Why only 'trusted' voices, why not all voices? After all, all of them are part of the Collective, so they should also be part of the Hive when regenerating."

She hesitated for a moment before admitting, "I added some reasoning to the question. I am obviously not sure if she actually thought exactly that, but we are quickly learning not to underestimate her because she is a baby."

{Some voices cannot be trusted in the Hive because they would change the Hive.}

{Some voices are not advanced enough to be part of the Hive, since deductive reasoning is not part of their biological distinctiveness.}

"No good."

"I think that means more something like 'not fair', B'Elanna explained. "She doesn't see why voices should be excluded.

{Species 13,852.}

{Excellent tactical drones, extremely violent when not linked.}

{They want to kill all that are not part of their clan, including the rest of their species.}

{Adding their voices to the Hive would affect the Hive, make our thinking more violent instead of tactical.}

{Their thinking would affect us and make us more inclined to kill all living beings that are not Borg.}

{We would destroy ourselves over time because we would not be adding new drones, instead we would be killing all potential drones.}

{As linked drones they do not care about their violent tendencies so they make good drones, but we cannot add their voices to the Hive.}

{Species 9,629.}

{Excellent worker drones.}

{Physically the strongest drones in the Collective.}

{Long living; average lifespan 3,000 years.}

{Unsuited to be part of the Hive because they have no voices.}

{They have a humanoid form, but they do not register as sentient life by any standard of any species that was once added to the Collective.}

{It are the Borg implants that make them think rationally at all, yet even then that rationality is only enough to follow commands and do the most basic of work tasks.}

{Cleaning a building area falls inside their abilities, but cleaning a plasma conduit does not, not even when linked.}

{Their brain makeup is too basic.}

{They are incapable of complex thoughts.}

"No good," Vasha stated.

"I believe that this should be seen as a 'not fair'," Seven added. Then she explained to Vasha, "And I agree. However, those drones are part of the Collective so we must deal with them. But I agree with the Hive that they cannot be added to the Hive. Yet we also cannot simply let them go. Take species 9,629. When they have Borg implants that at least order their brain a little, they want to be part of the Borg and do appreciate the changes. Yet if they do not have those implants, being part of the Borg is the last thing they want. That includes drones that were linked and where the implants were turned off to see what the reaction was. The Hive and B'Elanna and I disagree on how to handle those species. The Hive wants to continue using them, we want to stop that today. We reached a compromise in which species like them will be phased out of the Collective. Meaning that the drones that are now part of the Collective will stay in the Collective, but no new drones from those species will be added."

"Now," B'Elanna spoke up, "We're actually here to introduce Vasha, and not to talk about the structure of the Collective. So, anyone want to come say hi directly instead of just talking as one of the voices of the Hive?"

Once again there was a shifting, and once again Seven couldn't really blame them. Before, before she was stranded on that starship and had to deal with that annoying child that wouldn't leave her alone, she too would have been one of the voices that were drifting further away. Far enough away to not really be noticed, yet close enough to still catch what was going on.

Kahless, as B'Elanna liked to say, that child had annoyed her. Had droned on and on with talking about stuff that nobody in their right mind should ever care about. Talk and talk and talk. Seven, who had been well used to hearing millions of voices at once had asked, or told, her to be silent so often that Seven had actually lost count. Yet the next day she would be back, acting like Seven was her best friend ever. Seven had contemplated assimilating her, locking her up in some room... maybe with food so that she wouldn't starve, maybe. She had even told her as much. But the child had merely laughed, said that it was a good joke. Had been back again to annoy her even more. Seven had often felt like killing her.

God, she missed Naomi.

"Well that was interesting," B'Elanna said once they had finished regenerating and had put Vasha to bed. "What were you thinking about after that whole Hive Vs Collective discussion? You drifted off there for a moment and had your private link set to 'please don't disturb'."

Seven smiled and kissed her lover before moving into the kitchen. She loved those little messages B'Elanna had come up with. It had been somewhat of a game between Anidan and B'Elanna. Anidan had once again tweaked the Borg Communicators. Not much, but it had been an interesting change. After having been interrupted one too many times for something not really important to her but just important enough to contact her despite a privacy notice on the link, Anidan had added the feature of being able to create your own messages. Instead of privacy codes, which were still there and could be used if truly needed, a person could now add messages that people would automatically get if they tried to contact you.

"You know that does not count for you," Seven reminded. "For you there is only one message; most welcome."

B'Elanna shrugged. "I know, don't worry. But I figured that since I was busy anyhow, why bug you? And now that I'm not busy I'll bug you. So, where had you drifted off to?"

"Join me on the holodeck? We can stay on the porch, I just want to see some nature."

"Sure," B'Elanna agreed, knowing that the question wasn't an evasion of the topic.

Though they thought in the beginning that they might not even have the Royal Holodeck built, or if they did that they wouldn't use it much. Fact was, they did. They spent some time there almost every day. Though a lot of that time was simply sitting on the porch that was created outside the kitchen exit to the holodeck and which was part of the standard setting. Or they went there so that Katzi and B'Elanna could play... train... some.

Katzi took the challenge of training B'Elanna seriously, and because of that B'Elanna loved every minute of it. That they also had a lot of fun and that Seven and Pagsha teasingly called it playing didn't matter. After all, maybe it was. They had fun... so what was wrong with that? Fun was good, and in the meantime B'Elanna was becoming quite lethal with those blades.

"When I felt how the Hive interacted with Vasha, I thought back to the time when I had just joined Voyager. How Naomi was bugging me all the time."

B'Elanna sat down on the swing bench and chuckled. "She was like a pit-bull; grabbing on and not letting go. How long did it take her?"

"Pit-bull?" Seven asked while looking out into the woods.

"A dog from Earth. They were almost extinct at one point because they were made illegal to have and/or breed in most countries. That's before people got their act together and decided to let the dogs, that are sweet and gentle by nature, be and instead go after the assholes that kicked and beat them into wanting to bite everything. They were known back then for not letting go once they had bitten down. Just holding on. And they had a high jaw pressure too."

B'Elanna chuckled. "Of course, their ferocious image pretty much stopped once Humans came into contact with the first Targs and suddenly decided that pit-bulls were really nice doggies to have around. Anyway, the reference from back then still stands. Biting down, grabbing on, digging in, like a pit-bull simply means stubbornly holding on to something and not letting go."

"In that case Naomi would have made an excellent pit-bull. To answer your question, it took her two weeks before I begrudgingly admitted, but only to myself mind you, that it was not so bad to have her around. Two months more before I considered her a friend. I remember one night just before regenerating. It suddenly hit me then; I had a friend. The first friend in my entire life. Even before I was assimilated I did not have friends since my parents felt it more important to chase after the Borg. I miss her. I miss all my friends. It is good to hear through the Paris family that they are alright. Yet, I miss them and I wonder if I will ever see them again."

"We'll see them again one day," B'Elanna promised.

She held out her hand and then pulled Seven down beside her once the blonde had taken it. She winked. "Can you imagine Naomi with Vasha? Vasha's mind, and Naomi tall enough to reach pretty much all a grownup can reach? Unimatrix 01 would be under lockdown within an hour."

"Doubtful," Seven disagreed, then she smiled, her Mate having been very capable of getting her out of one of her rare fits of gloominess. "Two hours."

"What? Are you kidding me? No way." B'Elanna made a show of closing her eyes and trying to picture the scene. "Now, Naomi would come in to see Vasha. Then Vasha would talk and suggest that Naomi pick her up... just to hold her of course. And well, once out of that crib she would suggest..."


Chapter 45

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

Year 01, Month 03, Day 27, Hour 10, Minute 00.

Anidan stepped away from the alcove at the same moment her Mate did. Now that Anidan was joining the Hive again while regenerating, and especially since the Hive had changed and now also allowed for irrelevant conversations with people that didn't mind joining in, they had taken to regenerating at the same time if duty allowed it. Lucky for them they were both head of a department and therefore worked on the same Alpha shift. So regenerating at the same time was more the norm than a rare occasion.

She took the two steps that brought her to her Mate, who had also taken two steps. They kissed, like they always did after regenerating, not that they needed an excuse; they liked kissing. They liked kissing, hugging, necking, making love, holding hands, talking. There really wasn't anything at all they didn't like about each other. Even the things that would normally have bugged them to no end, maybe even would have ended the relationship under different circumstances, were really cute if their mate did it. It was good to be Mated.

Anidan cupped and then squeezed one of her Mate's breasts a little, while moving her other hand to that perfect butt. She pulled her lover close. Felt her, smelt her, drank her in. A gentle caress traveled through her mind and spread out until it had reached the tip of every nerve ending in Anidan's body. Giving a strange, but wonderful, sensation of a full body kiss.

"I love it when you do that," Anidan noted when they finally broke apart.

Si'zaG smiled. "I know, that's why I do it. Hi there my wonderful Mate."

"And hi to you babe. It was fun talking to your parents."

They started to walk to their living room. Holding hands, because they could.

"They really like you," Si'zaG noted. "Not that it matters of course. They know that since we are bonded I feel more devotion to you than to my family. Such is the way the Planner made the Bond between Mates. But I really like that you get along so well."

Anidan shrugged. "I think it really helps that one of them is a builder and the other an engineer. Even if we have nothing else to talk about, we still have that. We can always talk shop. Plus I think they were quite proud of the fact that you managed to snatch yourself the Chief Engineer of the Queen's home ship."

'Snatched?' Si'zaG asked mentally. 'Let me guess, my mother.'

Anidan laughed. "Yes. While your father was keeping you busy, she and I had a little chat to see if I was worthy of a greeting as a family member next time. I think I passed the test."

Si'zaG groaned. "Well, despite that, I'm sorry that you couldn't meet them in person. They like being on the other side. They only hopped over here to talk to you, us, after hearing that I'm bonded now."

'Maybe we can go visit them in a few months,' Anidan suggested mentally. 'Take a couple of days vacation and hop on a cube that goes there. We could use one of the shuttles for me to live in once we are there. I could visit your old home in a spacesuit; it can handle the pressure and provide me the oxygen I need.'

Si'zaG trailed her fingers over her lover's face, making sure to connect to the right spots when doing so. A Vulcan mind-melt was nothing compared to a Siill's touch if they wanted. They were mental powerhouses, and if they were touching you directly that telepathic power was quadrupled. When touching you they could stop a beating heart with a mere suggestion of a thought. They could burst the veins in your lungs and let you drown in your own blood. They could make you scream in agony. And they could...

Anidan moaned when the pleasure of an almost sexual peak washed over her, keeping her on that edge for far longer than a normal orgasm ever could.

"You are such a wonderful person, my Mate. Thank you. But you don't have to leave the shuttle, we can enter it and my parents will still feel at home... ish."

Anidan didn't answer, but her thought was clear to read.

'You want to see where I grew up,' Si'zaG thought with a smile. 'You want to leave the shuttle and see things from the very same spot where I looked at the very same things. You want for my parents to be as comfortable as possible, even though it means that you won't. Oh my wonderful Mate. Open your eyes.'

Anidan did so. Si'zaG had her on that blissful razor's edge, all Anidan needed was that small little push. All that she needed, apparently, was to see those golden colored eyes look back at her with an incredible intensity. Anidan saw the depth of those black cross shaped pupils and willingly drowned in them. She came with an intensity that only Si'zaG had ever been able to give her. No former lovers had ever been worthy of standing even close to Si'zaG's shadow; let alone in it.

Si'zaG didn't remove her fingers from her lover's face, though she did stop sending the sexual stimulations to Anidan's brain. She knew what would happen when she stopped controlling her lover's body, so she prepared by pulling her lover against her with a strong arm around her back.

Finally she removed her hand. Immediately Anidan's knees buckled, and only Si'zaG's secure hold kept her up. Si'zaG moved her to the couch and gently sat her down. Not a word was said, or a thought was read, while Anidan just sat there trying to calm her body down and Si'zaG merely sat on the low table and watched her with a knowing smile.

A couple of minutes later Anidan could finally speak. "Wow, that... wow. Damn I'm so glad that I told you the last time that you could do that whenever you wanted."

Si'zaG Laughed. "As I asked you then, you really want me to do that when I see you working and get hot and bothered because of it? How about I only do it when we are alone?"

Anidan nodded happily.

"Of course, that doesn't mean that we'll stop making love the other way. You taste way too good for me to stop licking you, or for me to stop sucking your nipples, or,"

"You want me to get hot again?" Anidan asked. It was interesting between them, because that question was never a real question. It was more of a warning that Anidan was actually getting excited, be it again or for the first time. This because Anidan was always hot for Si'zaG; a side effect of being bonded.

Si'zaG had assured her that they would eventually learn to control their urges, to which Anidan had countered, "Why bother? We behave in public. Why should we stop making love in the privacy of our home at least twice a day, only because others don't? We can stop doing that when we no longer feel these urges. But for now I enjoy them way too much."

Si'zaG didn't put up much of a fight. Truth be known, she enjoyed it to. And since the matter of sex... if, how, what kind, with who, where... seemed to be pretty much up to the people themselves on Unimatrix 01, as long as they didn't bother other people and abided by the rules in effect on the deck they were on, why not?

In fact, Anidan had reacted to some good-natured teasing from B'Elanna by saying that for Anidan and Si'zaG, sex was a hobby. A hobby that they kept to the privacy of their quarters. Unlike certain people that she could mention, but wouldn't.

"And I so like that hobby," Anidan said, reading Si'zaG's thoughts. "That answer shut her up though, didn't it?"

"It did," Si'zaG agreed. She got up from the table and joined her Mate on the couch. She pulled her lover into her arms before continuing. "I'm glad that they are so comfortable with us around. I like the friendships that have formed." The reference to the comfortable was because on the day Anidan had given that answer, Anidan and Si'zaG were in swimwear while the other four women were nude. "I had fun playing in the water. It reminds me of fluidic space a little."

"Just that you can't breathe water."

"True," Si'zaG agreed. "But then fluidic space is all around us so we can't play games that rely on the water's surface, like sailing. Though I don't think that people would classify it as a game."

Anidan shrugged. "It's considered a sport on many planets. But then, it's about having fun, about winning in some cases, about teamwork. Sounds a lot like a game to me."

"Just that normally it's not done nude," Si'zaG pointed out. "They are nude a lot."

"Because they know it doesn't bother us, or affect us," Anidan pointed out on her turn. "It's not like they try and find excuses to be nude. It's just... well occasions where clothing is nothing more than covering up in case someone might see you. They know they don't need to cover for us. So, sailing, swimming, lying on the beach... all stuff where normally you only wear a bathing suit, or something like that, just to cover up your body so that others don't see it. But other than that they wear their clothing if we are around, don't they? They wear clothing if they are having a barbeque. Or if they go wandering in the forest, or any kind of activity where having your boobs wave all around is a nuisance."

"True," Si'zaG agreed with a smile. "But if this is so, then why do we wear bathing suits on those occasions?"

Anidan hesitated before admitting with a grin, "Because I'm a prude. And you wear clothing too so that I won't feel like a moron. I know you Siill don't worry much about clothing. Your warriors are nude all the time as it is, even now. Not counting the security vests and stuff like that. And for the others like you, clothing is normally a cloak. And even then it's only worn on rare occasions like ceremony."

"And on duty if it's very likely that we'll meet people we don't already know," Si'zaG added. Seeing the confused look, she explained, "Clothing speaks too. From being on Unimatrix 01 I now know that most non-telepathic people assume that telepathy is the answer to all, but in some cases talking is better. Why do you think we have a mouth?"

"To eat with?" Anidan asked amused.

Si'zaG opened her mouth, then closed it, to only then open it again and admit, "Good point. Alright, why do we have vocal cords?"

Anidan turned in those strong arms and winked. "To scream my name of course."

"Funny, but true occasionally. No, I'll you why. Sound travels clearly. If you close your eyes and I talk, you can still pinpoint where I am, pretty much, simply by where my voice is coming from. But,"

Si'zaG switched from talking verbally to talking mentally, 'Is it just as clear now? Since you can only hear me telepathically but not the other telepaths close to our quarters, you might be able to make a good guess. But now picture being in a place where there are hundreds of telepaths around you. Just who 'called' your name?'

"I see, and I see your point." Suddenly Anidan slapped herself against her forehead. "Duh, now I get it. Now I know why the transmitters have such a problem with translating your language. It's because you are used to talking by having fluidic space travel over your vocal cords and the sound you produce is automatically designed to carry through liquid instead of air."

"Is that important?" Si'zaG asked, confused by the sudden change in subject. Confused, but not surprised. Anidan had the tendency to jump to other things when she thought of something. It happened sometimes, and it was simply part of Anidan.

"It means that I can calibrate the translator database so that you and all of your people can talk in your own language instead of having to use the Borg language. I know that for people that are here permanently, like you, it doesn't matter. But it does matter for people that only jump to this universe for a moment, like your parents."

Si'zaG kissed her Mate. "You are so sweet."

"Hush, don't let it get around," Anidan grinned. "Anyway, to come back to the clothing, I guess that with 'clothing talks too', you mean that you can use it to indicate the difference between, say a Maintainer and an Engineer? Especially since they look pretty much alike body-type wise."

"Right," Si'zaG agreed. "Here you would call the clothing we had a uniform, even though it was just a cloak. But it talked. Not with the obvious things like color, since in green/brown space everything is by definition a shade of green and brown. No, our clothing talks with the weaving pattern."

Si'zaG indicated a flowing line in the air with her finger. Up, down a little, up slightly, down some more, up slightly, down a lot, and then back up to the starting height. "That's the pattern worn by Maintainers like me." She made another line. "And this is the sign for the influence level I have."

"Influence level is kinda like ranks with us, right?" Anidan said in understanding. She noticed that the finger had stopped once again on the same height as where it had started. Indicating that the patterns could be repeated time and again all through the fabric.

"Right," Si'zaG agreed. "Now, to come back to us spending time with our friends. You are the one for whom keeping her clothes on in situations like that is the most important; why?"

"I don't know," Anidan admitted. "I don't like people seeing me nude, looking at my body."

"As you said, it's not like they run around the ship nude. Just on those occasions where they are alone, or with their two friends that couldn't care less if they are nude." Si'zaG made a show of looking at Anidan's body, which was at that moment covered by the Borg uniform. "You know what I have discovered here though?"


"That clothing can enhance eroticism. You see me naked every day, seeing me naked can turn you on if I want to. But seeing me actually in that bikini has made you hot every time I put it on, every single time. Three times we made love because just seeing me like that made you burn."

Anidan smiled. "Yeah, sometimes I look at you then and," She growled.

"And we have to excuse ourselves and leave our friends alone for half an hour or so. Speculation is always more interesting than clear facts, the hidden can be more alluring than what is in plain sight. A pair of naked breasts is nice to look at. You can admire the form, how nice the nipples sit on them. But it's plain to see. After that initial appraisal they don't stimulate the mind if you aren't also touching them. But have those same breasts covered and leave just enough to stimulate imagination and they are a lot more tempting. Instead of simply seeing nipples you now see nipples poking fabric up, and wonder about how those nipples might look."

Knowing her Mate well enough to also hear the things she didn't say, Anidan said, "So what you are telling me is... you are getting bored with having clothes on if they don't, but you will continue to do so if I want to keep my clothes on so that I won't be the odd person out. And that you think that they won't care what we look like."

"Close." Si'zaG smiled. "I also won't mind continuing to wear bathing clothes because seeing me in them turns you on, and I like you turned on. And also, they will definitely care what we look like. The first time they see us nude they will look at us. After all, they might be Mates, but they don't have a Siill bond that makes all other people uninteresting to them. If they did, the couples wouldn't watch each other having sex regularly. But that's just it. Think, just how often do you see them looking at each other's bodies?"

Anidan thought about that and then groaned. "I have seen more looks in our direction than in the direction of the others."

"Because they know what their bodies look like. And on those occasions, because of that, they simply see skin. Nothing more. A breast is just a curve covered by skin, it only gets arousing if they get horny. I honestly think that they look at us exactly because we are hiding our bodies."

"Hide under bikinis that still show a lot of skin and make you wonder about those few parts you don't see," Anidan added in defeat.

"Do, do you mind them looking at us?" Si'zaG asked. She knew that the question had never crossed Anidan's mind because the woman was new to being Mated and had lost her eye for all that now happened around her that didn't involve Si'zaG, at least erotic wise.

"No I don't," Anidan assured right away. "Hey, believe me, before I bonded with you I looked a lot more than they did. In fact, they look, I stared. Sometimes for minutes on end, and not those few seconds our friends look at us. On my Homeworld it was perfectly normal for guys to go topless if the weather was warm enough to allow for it, and I lived in a warm region. There was more than one day where I would go to my favorite restaurant with patio, and just look and devour some hunks that were walking around showing off their body."

"And a couple of them even ended up in bed with you," Si'zaG added.

Anidan smiled. "And the funny part is that I bet you a day's work that you guessed that, and didn't even need to read my mind."

"When we are talking like this I don't read your mind, unless you pause to think about something. Because then reading your thoughts is faster than listening to you trying to explain something. But if we have a fluent conversation like now, reading your mind as well would only give me an echo while I hear slightly different worded sentences than what you are talking. It can be... confusing."

"Hey, I learned something new about you," Anidan said happily. "Great. I didn't know that. So, how long of a pause before you start reading my mind again?"

"About three seconds of hesitation. Or if I get a feeling that you are actually thinking about the words you are talking."

"Ah, so that I don't reword my thoughts to make a 'no' sound like a 'maybe'."

"Things like that," Si'zaG agreed. "You know that I want you just as you are; blunt thoughts and all. But I also know that before you were assimilated you lived for decades in a society where telling the truth isn't always a good thing. You are very used to not giving exactly the answer you are thinking. You are blunt, yes, but you often say things like 'let me see if it's possible', when you know it's not. Just so that you can make it look like you at least tried. Now, tell me, are we going to bring our bikinis next time we go swimming?"

"Alright," Anidan relented. "No more swimwear next time. Unless of course it's a situation where we need them to hold our boobs in place while we play in the water, like last time. What did they call that game again? Waterball? Anyway, it consisted out of a lot of jumping around and I have enough in front of me to want to have it confined in situations like that."

"Yes you do," Si'zaG agreed while trailing a hand over one of her Mate's sex swells. "And such fine 'enoughs' they are." Si'zaG smiled. "They might actually be disappointed by you not hiding them anymore."

"Oh, I don't think so," Anidan said while thinking very deliberately about how beautiful she thought her Mate's body was. "And I don't think my view is clouded by love. You really are that hot."

"As are you," Si'zaG pointed out.

"But I ain't having sex in front of them," Anidan said with resoluteness. Only to wink and show that she was just playing the gruff part of the resoluteness, not the resoluteness itself.

Si'zaG laughed and placed her hand once more against Anidan's head. This time she didn't trigger any feelings though, the hand was only meant as an indicator to give meaning to her next words. "Why not? They wouldn't even know that we are."

Anidan took her Mate's hand and placed a kiss on those wonderful fingers. "I was thinking more of those other ways we have sex as well. Like when you use these talented digits on parts lower than my head."

"You have nothing to worry about," Si'zaG assured. "Remember, I'm a very powerful telepath; I can't help but pick up thoughts from people close to me, unless I shut my abilities off. And I can assure you that never once have I picked up anything from them about them wanting to see us, or having us watch them, have sex. They are very happy with the arrangement they have between them. All their needs of watching and being watched are fully met between them."

"You have picked up other things from them though, haven't you?" Anidan guessed. "You have seen memories?"

"I have," Si'zaG admitted. "It's... it are not thoughts that will be picked up by every telepath on this ship. But I am a friend, and the closer I became to them, the more barriers were breached. Everyone has those barriers; it's nature. It's what makes you go from not trusting someone, to trusting someone a little, to trusting them with your life. They welcomed me as a friend, they trust me, so barriers fell and now I pick up stray thoughts from them. Unless I were to shut my senses off around them."

"Which they would never ask you to do because they want people, or at least friends, to be themselves around them. All or nothing. Which means with you, accepting that you have telepathic abilities."

"Yes. It's made easier because they know I don't care. But yes. In fact, one time Seven sent me a direct message. She saw Pagsha and Katzi playing, some mock wrestling, and Seven's mind went back to a time where she had seen them do the same and where it had led to sex. B'Elanna and Seven had watched them, before giving their friends something to watch as well. I was surprised by the fact that the scene I saw was longer than the normal flash I see otherwise. And then suddenly I get this direct and clear thought from Seven. She thought, 'I, we, are still not sure if we should be happy or sad that you do not care about that, Si'zaG'. She deliberately used my name."

"Sad?' Anidan asked.

Si'zaG kissed her. "Well, think about it my love. They like to watch and be watched by their friends. Though they don't want others to join in that little experience, it doesn't mean that they would mind it too much if I actually could enjoy their memories, seeing that I have become a friend that's close enough to be trusted with very private information."

Anidan thought about that for a moment. Though she really didn't care about the sex between their friends, she did wonder about one thing. "Are they any good for each other, sex wise I mean? When I was on my Homeworld I had great sex, and lousy sex. For people not bonded, sex can be a lousy experience."

"They think much like us; that they must be the luckiest person in the Universe. A very lucky person that, besides having the best loving relationship ever, is also getting the best sex that ever happened."

Anidan nodded. "I never was in love before you, but I did hear that love does that to people. Love is blind and all that. You know how we changed to be exactly what the other needs? Well, I heard that for people truly in love, but that don't bond, it's also a little like that. Looks become beautiful to you, even if they are average to others. What you want from sex changes."

Si'zaG tilted her head a little. "Maybe that explains why I never get any true feelings of want for the others from them. They love to watch each other, they even indulge in fantasies of being with the others, but they never truly want to have sex with the others."

"That's one thing I do miss a little," Anidan admitted. "That I can't have fantasies anymore. Mind you, I love what we have. I love it all, I love the fact that we can have sex in different ways. That you can make love to me while we are using our bodies, or by you stimulating my mind like you did before. And how you are even able to make me come with words when I'm on an away mission and I need you. But I can't fantasize anymore, not even about you. I might plan something I want to do, how I want to spend an evening with you, but I can't get worked up just thinking of you touching me. For that I need that touch, I need that thought, I need that wonderful voice of yours."

"Nothing is perfect, my perfection," Si'zaG said with a smile, having used the paradox deliberately.

Anidan shrugged. "It's not that bad really. I mean, if I could still fantasize, it would only mean that I would probably miss something else. You always miss what you can't have. Personally, I'd much rather miss my fantasies than missing some of the things you do to me. Alright, so fantasies are out, but love, you can make me come by talking to me over the Borg link. I'd rather hear your real voice that gets me worked up than just fantasizing about you doing something to me."

"And talking about Borg link, let me change the subject a little," Si'zaG said as she shifted position slightly so that she could easily reach her Mate's head with her now free hand. She slowly started to move her fingers through the hair, massaging her lover's scalp softly.

"Sure," Anidan agreed. "We are just babbling anyway."

Si'zaG smiled when the thought of her Mate that had triggered the comment registered. "Yes, poor you. Actually wanting to talk instead of saying piss off. You are so whipped."

Anidan laughed. "I'm so glad that you find the occasional thought like that funny instead of offensive."

Si'zaG ruffled her Mate's hairs playfully. "That's because reading thoughts is only a small part of being a telepath. I hear you think that you are whipped like a Ran kitty addicted to milk, but I also feel how much you love that, and how much you like being my willing slave."

Anidan blushed.

"Not that kind of slave, love," Si'zaG said amused. "Though come to think of it, that was fun too. We should do that again sometimes."

"I can't help it. I simply get turned on by how strong you are," Anidan admitted.

"And by my voice, and my smile, my touch, my eyes, my... how many things was it on last count?"

"Almost three thousand. Keeping a list of those things is one of my little hobbies. Anyway you wanted to talk about something else?"

Si'zaG nodded. "Ah, yes. I was a little curious about behavior and I was wondering if you could explain something to me. I know that the Borg communicator is one of your pet projects, which is why I never asked for it to be in my department even though it's finished."

"Yeah," Anidan admitted. "It's one of my favorites. I really love the transwarp project, simply because I invented it. I brought faster than light travel to my Homeworld, and I did it with the bang of transwarp that is normally the Holy Grail for species that already have the normal faster than light travel of warp. And then it turns out that it's so damn good that, after assimilating me, the entire Borg Collective use it. It's an invention to be proud of for the rest of my life. But the communicator... I love it just as much. This time it's because it is a wonderful weapon in my mission of destroying the Borg that assimilated me. Yes, it was Seven's changes that allowed for Borg drones to talk to each other, but it was me that made it possible for them to do so privately. It was that communicator that made it possible for drones to talk nonsense talk with their lover light-years away on a mission. And every time a drone is able to say 'I love you' to another drone, the Borg that destroyed my life die a little more."

"Easy there my little rebel," Si'zaG said with a smile. "Who would have thought a year ago that the Borg would admire you so much because you are so determined to destroy them?"

"Irony, you got to love it."

"Especially when other drones give you suggestions on what also could use changing to further your goal, and that every single member of the Hive knows exactly what your goal is."

Anidan shrugged. "I'm not a threat to them because my reasons are irrelevant to them as long as they benefit from my creations."

"True," Si'zaG agreed. "But the reason I brought up the communicator is not the device so much, but the messages you have added. You added fifteen standard messages that people can use that don't want to bother with creating their own."

"B'Elanna has," Anidan corrected. "You weren't there that day because at that point you didn't go with me every time I hung out with them."

"I didn't go with you then because you only talked shop when you hung with them," Si'zaG corrected. "You still do sometimes, but at least now if it happens it's merely a fair and relatively short discussion when something else you were talking about, that has nothing to do with work, triggers an idea."

"Fair enough," Anidan relented. "Anyway, I started with suggesting some messages and as a joke B'Elanna asked me if I also wanted to add messages like, 'my Mate and I are enjoying some quality time, only contact me fully if you want me pissed at you.' I found it actually quite funny because there have been more than one occasion where people pissed me off by contacting me while we were,"

"Enjoying Quality time," Si'zaG offered with a smile.

"Right. So, as I said, it was B'Elanna that came up with the actual messages. 'Please don't disturb' was the second suggestion she made. The one I myself use most was the third suggestion; 'If it's not that important and it can wait until you see me in person, and/or I'm on duty, let it wait'."

"And that is where my question comes in," Si'zaG said. "I noticed that the, um, more creative ones are actually used more than the five simple and obvious ones. 'Busy' and 'available' are used, yes, but the, 'my Mate and I are enjoying some quality time, only contact me fully if you want me pissed at you', is actually used more than the simple 'busy'. Why?"

"Because it's more fun?" Anidan said with a smile. She saw that her Mate was about to answer and waved her off. "Because of Human nature. Or more to the point, Humanoid nature. It's the very reason why people can add their own messages if they want. Yes, 'busy' is obvious. But I might not find it gruff enough. Me being gruff to people is part of my nature. I sometimes even do it to you, my wonderful Mate. I have even told the Queen once, while I was on duty, to stop fucking bugging me. I apologized for it then because I realized that I had gone too far. At that point she was not my friend that I was talking to in private; she was my Queen. The point is that Seven accepted it, as soon as I apologized, without even batting her eyes so to speak. Simply because it's part of my nature and character. People expect it of me."

"True," Si'zaG agreed.

"So when people that know me would see a simple 'busy' they would ignore it because to them it would actually seem like an indicator that I'm in a good mood because it's so tame. So for me a more blunt 'leave me alone if possible' is more fitting. Katzi, being the proud warrior, might actually want to boast a little, and put up a message letting everyone who is trying to contact her know that she should not be disturbed if it's not important because she's training, again. Pagsha... well, I can go on. Point is that the character of a person has a lot to do with how they want to tell the universe that, yes, they can be contacted if needed, but rather not."

"But then why use your... B'Elanna's... messages instead of making their own?"

"Because for a lot of people it's only a matter of just a little bit more. 'Busy' is boring, but using the 'I'm spending quality time' is more fun and fits with a lot of species. Even the ones that don't dare to show a square millimeter of skin in public might use the 'quality time' one because it's so open to interpretation. If we are spending quality time, it might mean that we are screwing around like the possessed, but it might also mean that we are merely having a serious and thought provoking discussion. After all, wouldn't you also call what we are doing right now spending quality time?"

"So along that line, that would also explain two of the other ones I see used a lot. The 'I'm bored, who wants to talk to me' one, and the 'I'm horny, who wants to take care of that' one. Both are invitations for social interactions. It just depends on the species just what kind of activities are considered normal and recreational social activities."

"Right," Anidan agreed. "Especially if you keep in mind that pretty much everyone knows that things like the 'I'm horny' one doesn't mean that you will have sex in the next minute. It just means that the person is open to talk about the subject and that sex might be next if the talk allows for it. I mean, for me, I might actually have used that line before you my love. But if a woman had reacted to that, the conversation would have been over after the first question; gender? And then there's the second question, species, to see if people are compatible and so on. Hell, I think that a lot of those people don't even end up really having sex, but they sure might talk about it. Being able to talk about the subject without actually doing it might be fun too."

"It would?" Si'zaG asked surprised. "Even for people not bonded like us?"

Anidan nodded. "Sure. Let's take my theoretical un-Bonded self. Say I used that message. The first question reveals that the other person is a guy. Great. But the second question reveals that he is a Kreek. There goes the possibility of intercourse because as you know, our two species can't even touch without the acids in our skin reacting and burning both of us. But that doesn't mean that we can't still talk. If I'm frisky enough I might talk to him and explain in great detail just what I would do to him if we only could."

"Ah, that fantasizing thing," Si'zaG said in understanding.

"Plays a part in it," Anidan partially agrees. "Alright, so we can't touch, but we are compatible in regards to the rest of our body. So he can still talk dirty to me about playing with my breasts, or about filling me. Fun talk. Hell, we might then get bored with the subject eventually, but since we are talking we might talk about something else and realize that we have a lot in common. We might even end up as friends."

"So, what you are saying, besides what you are literally saying, is that the other messages are used more because they give a hint of more spice, sexual or not, but aren't really any more defined than 'available' is. After all, available for what? You might be available now, but that still doesn't mean that you are available for a lunch with someone. You might just have eaten a minute ago."


Si'zaG tilted her head a little. "I really do like that you can explain things like that to me. Being a telepath helps with knowing what a person does, but it's of absolutely no use in finding out why a group of people you aren't in contact with prefers to do one thing over another. As far as things like that are concerned we Siill are like newborn babies. We only know how other Siill's will behave for whatever reason."

Anidan laughed. "Love, you are most definitely a babe, but a baby you are not. I would be just as lost in your space. More so even. Hell, even I myself would be lost on most Homeworlds of Borg species before Assimilation happened. I can only guess about behavior because most species do have a range. There are conservatives and liberals in every species, including mine. Therefore I can guess what a person will do, if I know if they are from this or that species in general, but more so if I'm told if the person itself is more a liberal or conservative. But more importantly, exactly because the Borg is a group of thousands of species, billions of people, I can give you an educated guess of the center line of behavior because liberal and conservative equal each other out."

"Well, I still like the fact that you can be my teacher in how and why people do a lot of things here," Si'zaG persisted. "Thanks to the Borg link I can look up all kinds of information on species, but a lot has been filtered out as irrelevant. And that's normally the fun stuff. Yes, I could contact people of that species and ask, but I much rather ask you and get your 'general opinion as far as I know' answer."

"And I enjoy giving it to you," Anidan assured. She reluctantly got up from the couch and looked down at her sitting lover. "Now, we have today off, and nothing planned. Any ideas what we should do with our time?"

Si'zaG smiled up. "You mean besides my standard suggestion of going to bed?"

"Yes, besides that one. Though I won't object too much if you really were to suggest that."

Si'zaG thought for a moment. "How about we see if the First Family has time today to do something that will probably result in nudity being shown, so that we can take care of that before your chicken out and it takes me months to convince you again that us being nude as well is simply a lot more easier?"

"Hey, I don't chicken out."

Si'zaG merely give Anidan a look.

"That much," Anidan added before sticking out her tongue.

"Uh huh," Si'zaG said before continuing. "And once we know what time they are free, we make the choice if I ravish you before or after we go spend time with them."

"Ravish?" Anidan asked happily.

"Oh yeah. Ravish. Nice and slow, and looong. Until you can't walk anymore."

Anidan swallowed. "God woman, you expect me to think about anything else but jumping you after that?"

Si'zaG smiled sweetly. "Who's stopping you? Contacting our friends can wait a little longer."

Anidan pounced.

Part 46

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