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

By H.W.


Chapter 46

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

Year 01, Month 04, Day 05, Hour 14, Minute 47.

"Status," Seven said shortly as she walked into conference room one.

"My Queen, the situation has been confirmed," Captain Wolkav Zakad'e said hesitantly.

Seven closed her eyes for a moment. "You mean that it has been confirmed that there are no other options."

"Yes, my Queen. When cube 2,975,884 was caught in the event horizon, their shields acted as a conductor and the subspace tear closed around the cube instead of spreading."

"How did the tear start in the first place, and why was the cube there to be caught in it?" B'Elanna asked.

Wolkav turned to her before explaining, "My Princess, the cube being caught was nothing more than sheer coincidence. A lottery on stellar proportions. They were on a routine mission for drone redistribution. Pick some people up here, drop some people off there. Nothing that thousands of other cubes aren't doing at this very moment. There was no set route that is traveled at specific times. It was a matter of simply having to be in different places and picking out the most efficient schedule for doing so. A cube has never before been in that exact spot in space. But,"

"But on the one instant in time that one of our cubes happens to pass through an otherwise perfectly safe part of space, a subspace anomaly erupts," B'Elanna finished as she dropped into one of the empty chairs.

"Yes, my Princess. As for the tear forming... it's so rare that it actually took six hours of digging in the Main Data Storage Facility to find that the Borg have witnessed something similar before. Twice in the entire existence of the Borg. The last time we were advanced enough to actually study the event. As you know, there are several universes that exist at the same time, just that normally they don't interact because they take up different dimensions."

"We know," Seven assured. "We are well informed in the matters of Quantum Mechanics. While on Voyager we had an encounter with a Voyager from an alternate Universe. As a matter of fact, both Naomi Wildman and Harry Kim are actually from that universe."

"The simple explanation most often used so that people understand it, is chance," B'Elanna added. "If an event has several potential outcomes, then all of them happen. Just that they happen in different universes that are as real to the people living in them as our universe is to us. We just happen to be in the universe where the cube got stuck. In millions, maybe even billions, of other universes that never happened."

Wolkav nodded. "The problem is that sometimes some of those universes are unstable and collapse. Normally this goes unnoticed because we have no connection to those universes from ours. But sometimes those collapsing universes are close enough to ours to do some damage."

"Kinda like a house being torn down and some of the falling bricks taking a window of your house out," B'Elanna said as she made a 'go on' motion with her hand. Indicating with both, the motion and the statement, that they understood the explanation, and that they wanted Wolkav to move on. Not that they didn't appreciate the explanation, it was simply that in this situation it was not needed.

"Well, those proverbial bricks then do damage to our universe in the form of a subspace tear. An explosion of space itself, if you like." He hesitated before adding, "The last time this happened there was nothing there to regulate the event, so to speak, and the event spread. It destroyed everything in a thirty light-year radius around the event. It took over fifty-thousand years before faster than light speeds were even possible in that area."

B'Elanna groaned. "Let me guess, the area is now a huge sphere of almost empty space. The only thing left is an extremely high level of dark matter, which results in you not even being able to see the stars outside the event once you enter this area." Before Wolkav could confirm, she added. "We came across an area like that once on Voyager. We didn't know what it was. We only knew that it was so big that we had to get through it instead of around it. It was somewhere in..." She looked at Seven.

"Though not in our space, the Borg call it sector 354.994."

"Then we are speaking about the same event, because that is the area of space I was talking about," Wolkav agreed.

"So," Seven said slowly, "The options are still as following. The cube does have the power to break free, simply by entering transwarp and traveling out of the event before it can collapse and forms the explosion. However, that would mean the destruction of all in a several thousand light-year radius, including three Borg planets and several billion drones."

Her statement was answered with a nod. So she continued with the next option. "We cannot leave the cube in the event while the event wears itself out because we cannot beam through the radiation, so we cannot save the crew. Plus we do not know how powerful the explosion on the other side is going to be and the brunt of the destruction of the other universe might destroy the then unmanned cube, and still destroy those three planets. Or,"

"Or," B'Elanna spoke up so that Seven didn't have to say it. "The cube can initiate a self-destruct, which will result in a counter explosion that will be enough to close the tear and save the planets. Save them by sacrificing the cube."

"Yes, my Princess," Wolkav agreed.

"How long before you need to know?" Seven asked.

"My Queen," Wolkav said slowly, "Every minute waited is a fraction of a percentage closer to the chance that the event horizon will destroy the ship in a blowout explosion that simply pushes the cube out of the event horizon while destroying it. When that happens the explosion of the cube will not even register on the scale of things. But now the explosion of the ship will still be enough to close the rift."

"How certain are you that it will work?" Seven asked.

"At this moment? I asked Lach and he gave me the numbers a few minutes ago. Lach has estimated a 98% chance of success. And you know him and numbers."

Seven gave a fond smile that immediately disappeared again. She closed her eyes. "Hail them. First the captain, then a ship-wide. But do not use a Hive message link. The Hive can analyze a computer generated transcript of the the recording later."

"Yes, my Queen," Wolkav said as he linked to the Computer to make the preparations. A moment later he pointed at a viewscreen that came alive with the image of a relatively young man that looked not much older than Seven herself. "My Queen, Captain Randr is awaiting your orders."

"Captain," Seven said softly. "We have been going over options."

"As have we," Captain Randr said in a deep and warm voice. "My Queen. We know what we need to do. I will order the self-destruct as soon as we finished talking."

"No," Seven said resolutely. "I will not settle someone else with making that choice. I am the Queen. My orders better the lives of so many, and sometimes they kill. I will take the weight of this. Captain Randr, thank you for your extraordinary service to the Borg, and me. I hereby order you to initiate the self-destruct of your ship. Set the timer for five minutes."

"My Queen?" The Captain asked, surprised about the five minute timeframe.

"Five minutes, starting as soon as you opened a ship-wide broadcast."

"Yes, my Queen. Ship-wide is active, now."

Seven spent a minute to quickly explain to them what she was sure that they already knew; they were Borg drones after all. With four minutes left on the timer she said, "I know that you saw this coming, and you already spent your time in the past hours thinking about your faith, and about the people you know and leave behind, and the people that are now with you. I could tell you about the greater good, but you also know that. You are Borg after all. Instead I want to ask you to close your eyes, if your station allows for it. Close your eyes and listen to me. Yesterday I was on the holodeck with B'Elanna and Vasha. We were playing in the sand on a wonderful beach. We..."

She continued to unfold her story. Her voice had the warmth that she normally reserved for B'Elanna and their closest friends. It was enthralling, and it made you want to picture the scene she was describing. It made you forget about other things, especially if you wanted to forget. The drones on the cube realized only too well what she was doing. The Borg Queen was giving them a final gift of sharing an experience with them that no other Borg drone would ever get such a first hand description of. The Queen was sharing a moment of her life with them.

Seven looked at the timer, ten seconds left. "How could we be angry at her after that? Vasha had just said 'love you' for the first time."

Five. She laughed. "I think she knows us only too well."

Three. "She has discovered the power of the word love."

One. "I love you, every one of you, thank you."

She closed her eyes and a tear escaped as fifty thousand voices went silent. "Captain?" She finally asked.

"The long-range sensors of all three planets confirmed that the tear has closed."

"Thank you." Without another word she turned and left the conference room. B'Elanna followed, but Pagsha and Katzi didn't. They knew what would come now. They had seen it before. They knew that they were welcome to follow them into the Royal Quarters, but they felt that it was too private.

Seven didn't hesitate and almost fell into her lover's open arms. They were quiet for almost an hour, just sitting there on the couch while B'Elanna simply held the Borg Queen.

"I just killed 50,382 people," Seven finally said softly. B'Elanna knew that this was coming. The first time this had happened she had done the obvious, tried to convince Seven that she hadn't. But how could you truly counter the fact that, yes, she had? How could B'Elanna say that Seven had not killed half a million people then by ordering the fleet that was attacking a Borg planet destroyed? They might have been the enemy. You might bring in arguments like, that they asked for it, or that by giving the order, many more lives were saved in the end. But still, if you looked at the evidence, the fact remained that Seven had given the order, that Seven had indeed killed them by giving the order.

Oh, B'Elanna knew that this would not last. The next day Seven would once again be absolutely confident in her conviction that the greater good needed sacrifices sometimes. Tomorrow she would remember that she had just saved billions of lives by ordering fifty thousand lives to end. Tomorrow Seven would once again think that being the Borg Queen was a good thing. Tomorrow.

"Tell me about them. Show me that they won't be forgotten," She urged softly while placing a soft kiss on Seven's forehead.

"Thirteenth Officer Lia Orloz," Seven began. "He was so young that he had to beg his mother to be allowed to join the Borg. He wanted the adventure. To travel between the stars before coming back and helping her with her business. Now he never will. She has no other children, nobody else to train in the business, to keep the company that has been in their family for generations alive. Eleventh Officer Gran'l G'ranl. She just gave birth two weeks ago. Oh, Lanna, there were five infants on that ship. Five beings that were even younger than Vasha."

"Tell me," B'Elanna urged. Closing her eyes and willing the tears not to come.

"Gran'l was so happy when she found out that she could have children. A genetic defect had prevented her from having children before she joined the Borg. She was so happy that she cried when she found out. She..."

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

Year 01, Month 05, Day 06, Hour 04, Minute 41.

Seven looked around in great confusion. She was standing in the middle of a truly beautiful nature scene. A glade, covered with short grass and the occasional bunch of wildflowers spread before her. Behind her, and to the right, were the big trees of an ancient forest. While on the left there was a slow moving riverand behind it once again ancient trees. And in front of her, across the glade, was a small cliff with a small, but beautiful, waterfall that fed the river. It was a warm and sunny day with only a few thin clouds in the sky. It was beautiful; a place where you would love to spend an afternoon doing nothing but listen to the soft sounds of the waterfall, and maybe cuddle with your lover.

The only problem with it was that Seven shouldn't be there. She had gone to sleep in her bed on Unimatrix 01, with B'Elanna in her arms.

"What the hell?"

Seven looked behind her when hearing the exclamation in a voice she knew so well. Where seconds before there was nothing but grass, now there was B'Elanna. Seven noted that B'Elanna was dressed in her favorite 'comfy home clothing' outfit; a gray sleeveless T-shirt, and a pair black sweatpants. Looking down at her own body, Seven noted that she herself was dressed in her favorite Zamonan outfit; a leather top that was just decent enough to also be worn outside of quarters, and a leather skirt that came halfway down her thighs, both in a yellowy/brown earth color. And, she also noted, neither of them was wearing shoes.

"B'Elanna? Is that truly you, or am I dreaming?"

Despite the situation, B'Elanna chuckled at the question. "Baby, even if this was a dream, do you really think that I'd say that I wasn't real? But no, I don't think this is a dream. All of this is much too coherent for that. Maybe we're on some kind of holodeck?"

"Actually, you're in my world," Another voice suddenly spoke up.

They both turned to the voice and saw an older man about ten meters away. He too hadn't been there mere moments before.

"My Queen, my Princess. I hope you can forgive me for bringing you here, but I, we, thought that it was time that we brought our existence to your attention. And hopefully could persuade you to let us serve the Borg with more than just being some of the many voices."

"Who are you, and where the hell are we?" B'Elanna asked.

"I am one of the Ancients, as we like to call ourselves. Once we were known as the Grakee, then we were known as species 3, and then we were just some of the many voices. I have long since forgotten what name I personally went by before joining the Borg, but once I joined the Borg I became 3 of 29,842; I guess you could call me Three."

"Species three?" Seven asked, surprised by the low number. Long ago the Borg had formed when several different species that lived in the same solar system had united themselves into one group. B.O.R.G. had once stood for the four letters that indicated the name that this united group had given themselves. Then things had changed when a small group of people that wanted to bring more unity to this group had created the first version of the neural link and had started to unite their voices into one linked Collective. Soon after that they started adding the rest of the Borg group; whether they wanted to or not. But none of those first species had been species 1, 2, or more. They had simply been 'the Borg.' Species 1 had been the first species that had been added to the Collective that had not been part of the original BORG group before.

Going from that, the man in front of her had to be a member of the third species added to the Collective after the BORG was a fact. But as Seven searched her mind for information, she could only find that species 3 had been added to the Collective 473,853 years ago. She told the man as much.

"You are correct, my Queen. Unlike species 1 and 2, we actually wanted to join the Borg," He explained. "We saw the potential and we saw that we could bring joy to people that could appreciate our ability instead of hunting us down for it like others had been doing for centuries. Once there were billions of us, but by the time we entered Borg space there was only a group of almost sixty thousand refugees left. The Borg took us in, protected us from our pursuers and we shared our gift with them. For over two hundred millennia we existed like that and the Borg were complacent with what they had, never truly wanting to expand more than they already had."

"So you're almost half a million years old?" B'Elanna asked because the man kept talking about 'we' and 'us'.

"I am. But unlike what you might believe from what I told you until now, we were not a long-living species. Our average lifespan was only half of that of your species, my Princess. But the existence of the Hive mind enabled us to do something no other species the Borg ever encountered before, or since, could do. When our bodies died, we noticed that we did not. We continued to exist as... spirits you might say. We were part of the Hive mind. We continued on while the others go silent when their body dies. We didn't mind; in fact, we loved it. We were proud to be a part of the Borg and we were glad that we could continue to provide our services to the Borg for apparently as long as the Borg will exist."

"I assume this changed, since I do not know of your existence, nor what your services are," Seven guessed.

"It did, my Queen. As for our services, I will get to that in a moment, but," the man lifted his arms to indicate the surroundings, "This should give you a good indication. But yes, things changed. The Borg then were not the Borg now. Now there are many safeguards in place, created because trial and error showed that they were needed. As you saw when your daughter joined the Hive for the first time, within seconds of detecting an unauthorized presence the purging procedure was started. When we joined and eventually died of old age such safeguards did not exist yet."

"I believe that the automatic detection of new entities in the Hive was added about one thousand years ago," Seven said, mostly for B'Elanna's benefit.

"936 years ago to be precise," Three clarified. "As said, back when we joined safeguards like that didn't exist. Then two hundred millennia after we joined a new species entered Borg space and they were added to the Collective. They were expansionistic by nature and their minds were strong. From them the Borg got the urge to expand, something we hadn't done for those two hundred millennia. In itself this still wasn't bad. The bad part came when because of this expansion drive, we came in contact with more and more species, which were added to the Collective. The Collective changed with every species. Once we negotiated, much like you do now, my Queen, then we simply started to take. Species no longer joined the Collective; they were assimilated. The mind of the Collective changed to where only the Collective was important and the rest just had to adapt."

Three smiled before adding, "By now I'm sure you're wondering how we fit into this. Well, once we were honored for the services that we provided the Borg, then things changed there as well. We were considered a threat because we gave people an opportunity to think freely. Then the Collective we were once such a proud part of started to hunt us down just like those others had done so long ago. But luckily for us it's not easy to catch ghosts. Nowadays, with the security measures in place, we would be caught within minutes. But we had turned into 'ghosts' before those measures were in place, and from then on we were on the inside so to speak, and all security measures implemented considered us authorized identities."

"And that's all it takes?" B'Elanna asked. "Once you're a drone labeled 'safe' you can't be caught? But then, how come we're very capable of finding those drones that harbor dangerous thoughts so that we can kick them out of the Collective?"

"Because they have a body," Three explained. "Their voice might be one of many voices in the hive, but it's still clearly connected to a physical entity. Since we didn't have physical bodies the Borg could not find us as long as we acted as just some of the many voices. While hunting us down the Hive mind would close in on one of us and we would go, what we called 'silent'; become just one of the many voices. Even add suggestions as such a voice on how to find those ghosts. But we knew, we knew that we could do this for only so long before the Borg would start searching for a technology that would enable them to catch the ghosts in their midst. So we went silent permanently. We became just some of the many voices. The Borg stopped hunting us, believing that we had faded out of existence; we had not. We merely went to sleep, waiting for the time where the Borg would change again and we could awake."

Three shook his head a little. "But it was a long time. Safeguards that weren't there before had been set up, the Borg made sure that adding more species would no longer change them, but would change those species. The Borg Collective was safe from the risks that adding new species and new ideas to the Collective could bring. Unfortunately they never changed to where the changes awakened us again. That is, not until you negotiated with the Siill and showed the Hive that negotiating with species might bring benefits, and that you would nevertheless do whatever it would take to neutralize a threat to the Borg Collective. This awakened us and showed us that it might be time to offer our services once more."

"And your services being a fake environment?" B'Elanna asked.

"This environment is very real," Three disagreed. "You could drink from the water of that river, or you could drown in it. It's just that while it's real, it also doesn't exist. Right now you and my Queen are still lying in bed, asleep."

"That makes no sense," B'Elanna noted. "Still lying in bed, doesn't exist... sounds pretty unreal to me. So tell me, how is this different than a dream, and why is this something that we wouldn't be able to offer people by something as simple as a holodeck?"

Three walked over to a picnic table that was suddenly standing beside him and sat down; making a hand gesture to offer the other side of the table to the two women. Once they were sitting, he continued.

"A dream is nothing more than the brain processing information that is already stored in the brain. This is why dreams are sometimes so strange, because different parts of information are added together while there really is no connection between them. That's also why the Borg were able to use dreams to try and lure you back, my Queen. They were using information that was already in your brain. Deeply hidden and normally inaccessible, but it was there never the less. Entering this world also involves the brain, but that's where all similarities end. When you're awake, all that you experience, all that you see, taste, smell, feel... all of it is processed by the brain and then translated into information that lets you as a person realize that you see a tree, smell grass, taste water, feel how warm and soft the skin of your lover is."

Three stopped for a moment to see if the women were with him so far. Then he continued. "This world skips the first step of processing information and goes directly to interpretation and giving that information to the brain. Your brain is now receiving the information that it hears water falling from that waterfall, that you're now sitting on a bench. Your brain registers the information my world is giving it, therefore you now feel as if you're sitting on a bench, but you are in reality lying in bed."

"So," B'Elanna said slowly, trying to see if she understood. "What you're saying is that while not a real place, this place is still real to us because the information is processed exactly the same way in our brain as it normally would process the information coming from our senses, like smell and touch, outside this world. There would be absolutely no difference in perception for me if I were sitting in a situation like this for real, or now in this world that you created."

Three smiled, glad to see that his guests understood the concept so far. "A very precise summation. Also, this world is active, not reactive. You've never been in this location, yet you see the waterfall, you could decide to go stand under it, or not. Your choice, but the point is that you actually do have that choice."

"But not the choice to come here, or leave," Seven pointed out. "You brought us here, and we have no idea how we could leave now."

"For now, that's true," Three admitted. "But that's only because you don't yet know how to leave. Allow me to explain. Normally a person in this world would have no control over it, save making physical changes. If you had the tools you could actually cut those trees down and use them to make a cabin, and the next time you would visit, that cabin would still stand there. As such this too is a real world. Something doesn't disappear simply because you left the world for the moment. Unlike a holodeck this world cannot be reset, with the exception of me actually changing it back to an older state. Every minute spent here is a minute in your physical life as well; therefore you could call this a 'real time' environment. Our worlds don't stop existing simply because someone left them. They only stop existing if we, the makers, stop allowing their existence."

"Alright, I get the real time part," B'Elanna noted. "But what about leaving it?"

"Normally there's one thing in our worlds that everyone does control for themselves and can access at any time. Everyone has a personal door that they can activate by thinking that they want to open it. It actually compares to the new Borg link where someone has to specifically think that they want to open a channel. If you think of your personal door like that, it will appear wherever you are and you can leave. When you step through the door you will then wake up, or go back to the comatose regenerating; depending on what you were doing when you got here. As you can guess, this 'door' is really simply a manifestation of the exit and therefore will be there whenever you want to exit. Coming here is different though. Once, when our services were still in demand, people had to make a choice when they went to regenerate. If the picked program one, they would regenerate without entering our world, and if they picked program two, they would enter it."

B'Elanna frowned. "So, besides the real time thing, which can be argued as even being a drawback, care to tell me why this place is different than a holodeck? Personally I only see advantages to holodeck. You can reset, you can pick places to go to without having you first create that place. And so on."

"True," Three agreed. "There are advantages to a holodeck over this word. Just like this world has advantages over a holodeck. For instance, there's the obvious fact that you're now still lying in bed and therefore you don't need a special room that is lined with holo-emitters. There would be no limited 'holodeck time' that is available and has to be divided because there's only a limited number of holodecks available. But these are just small side-benefits. The real benefit, and the reason why we were once so admired by the Borg, is because this is not limited by distance. With a holodeck you still need two people physically together if they want to spend time together; with our world this is not needed."

"As you should know, we have created the ability to have people on different holodecks interact with each other," Seven pointed out. "It is how our Royal Guard are being trained."


Chapter 47

"True," Three agreed. "But I ignored that because that technology is still limited to only a small number for now because otherwise you would take up too many resources. Plus you would then still have the fact that those two people both need access to a holodeck. With our created world that's not an issue. A drone on Unimatrix 01 could enter this world and spend time with a drone that entered this world while being on a cube hundreds of light-years from here, as long as they both have access to the Borg communication network."

"The Borg link, the standard Borg link?" B'Elanna asked. "That's all that's needed?"

"Yes. Sending senses information doesn't take a lot of bandwidth. After all, we don't have to send all the data on that waterfall over there all the time. We only have to send the basics and your brain fills in the rest; like it's normal with senses. Once your mind has perceived something, it assumes that it's there and in the same state and therefore truly only registers changes. Information is still needed on the entire object, yes, but it's more along the lines of 'yes it's still there' instead of describing color, smell, temperature, and so on. Back in the time when we were still offering our services to the Borg, there were people that got to know each other, fell in love, married, lived, and then eventually died of old age in our world, while in reality they never actually had any physical contact. The only limitation is creating life. You could make love here and it would feel exactly the same as it would if you did it 'out there,' but you cannot conceive a child here. Life cannot be created in our world. For that the people have to meet physically and have sex, or whichever way their species conceives."

"And you, and the rest of your people, control this world?" Seven asked.

Three dipped his head a little. "Yes, and no, my Queen. It would be better to say that we create it, not control it. What you now see around you is just a small world; not much further than the eye reaches. Because of that I can indeed control everything in it. However, the larger the world is, the less we can know what's going on in it. If I'm creating some landscape one hundred kilometers away, then I couldn't see what's happening here and therefore couldn't react to it. We may create this world, but we see just as much of it at any time as you would. As for your other question, at the moment I'm the only one that's creating this world. If you forgive us our insecurity, my Queen, we didn't know how you would react to learning that there were 'ghosts' living within the Hive mind. The others are at the moment still just some of many voices; untraceable by the Hive."

"You may describe yourselves as ghosts, but you are nevertheless part of the Borg Collective. You can let the others know that they do not need to fear prosecution, as long as they do nothing that I consider harmful to the Borg," Seven assured. "Which brings me to the obvious question; why did the Borg go from admiring you to hunting you?"

"I thank you for that assurance, my Queen. It's good to know that we no longer have to fear for our existence. As to answer your question; the world we created existed outside the conscious mind of the Hive. They knew that people went to our worlds and had private lives here, so to speak. At first the Hive didn't mind. In fact, they liked the fact that we could give the drones a normal place to live; something they lost when becoming drones. But as more people were forced to become part of the Borg against their will they started to meet in our world. They started to make plans; they wanted to destroy the Hive so that they could once again be free. They started an attack but the Hive managed to contain it. Unfortunately this led the Hive to believe that our worlds were a danger to the Hive; a danger that had to be eradicated. So they started to hunt us down."

"That is actually a very valid concern," Seven noted. "You just said yourself that you create this world; not control it. You do not know what people do in your world. At the moment we have safeguards in place to make sure that the Individualist drone concept does not hurt the Borg. Individualist drones that want to hurt the Borg are found and dealt with long before they can do any damage. Over one million people have been rejected from joining the Borg after their mind was scanned at it was clear that they had ulterior motives that did not agree to the Borg. Also, almost two thousand Individualist drones were denied back into Individualist status because they had formed dangerous ideas. Clearly, our safeguards are working, and because of that the Hive considers the Individuals drone idea a success and is now even pointing out people to us of which the Hive thinks that we would benefit from if those drones were brought back into Individualist status. What assurance can you give me that these dangerous people we can now easily deal with would not use your world to plan a way to destroy the Borg?"

"The very same safeguards that protect the Individualist drone system," Three assured. "Yes, people could use this place to plan things, but to actually put those plans in motion, or even simply to do the job they need to do that day, they have to leave here and join the Borg again. The mind of Individualist drones get scanned for dangerous thoughts and people that visited our world don't forget what they did here once they leave, so any dangerous plan they made here will be considered relevant information and will be brought to the attention of the Hive with the first scan after the plan was made. In hindsight it's unfortunate that we didn't have safeguards like that back then. If so the Borg would have stopped those individuals before they could attack and wouldn't have been forced to deactivate our world."

Seven thought about that for a moment before agreeing that this safeguard would be enough. After all, unlike the 'ghosts' that could create the world she was in now, the location of the drone that had created the dangerous plan would be exactly known.

"How many people can actually live in these worlds of yours?" B'Elanna asked. "By the time the Borg started to hunt you there must already have been tens of billions of drones, surely the worlds that your people could create wouldn't house all those drones."

"Actually, we could; with ease," Three assured. "The worlds we create are not limited by number of people that live in them, but by size. Once we created a piece of a world, that piece exists until we destroy it again."

Seeing B'Elanna open her mouth, Three added, "Please don't ask me how it's possible that the world continues to exist after we created it even if we pay it no attention anymore. It is just... part of us. Just like we also never found out just why we could become 'ghosts', yet we have."

"Alright, please continue."

"Thank you. Now, while we can create these worlds with ease, even we cannot create an entire world the size of a planet at once. This location here around you only took me two minutes to create, but multiply that to the size of a planet and you would see how long it would take us to create the world. The world, that takes time, but whether only the both of you, or one million people were here at the moment doesn't matter."

"So, if we were to allow you to offer your services to the Borg once more, you could not create a place for all of them at once; your worlds would need to grow so that you would have the room for these drones to live," Seven surmised.

"Indeed, my Queen," Three agreed. "The first time it was easy. When we offered our services to the Borg they doubted that we could create such a real, yet not real, world. So they started a test program. We created two cities on a piece of land that was smaller than the floor in the Royal holodeck. There were sixty thousand of us, and only such a small world. We were bored so we started to create more world around these two cities. By the time the Borg decided that the test was a success and more people could live in our world, we already had the room for them to live in. More and more people started living in our world, but we had a head start and kept up with the growth."

"But if you first only had two cities, didn't they collide as the cities grew?" B'Elanna asked.

"That's one of the main things where our worlds differ from real worlds. In a real world you would indeed have that problem. They would collide, or meld into each other. But as I said, I can change this world even now. I can remove that river, or I can add more land, it's just that I need to be here to do it. When those cities started to grow too close together we simply added more land between the cities. Until there was once again enough room. Some centuries later those cities were actually two capitol cities of two different countries on two different continents. But, this time, if you and the Queen would be so gracious to allow us to serve the Borg once more to the best of our abilities, we would need the time to create the world."

"Couldn't you save time by copying parts of a world?" B'Elanna asked reasonably. "I mean, alright, so it took you time to create this place here, but now that it exists couldn't you do exactly the same there on the edge?"

"I could," Three agreed. "A lot of time is taken up by deciding just how we want a piece of this world to look, so simply doing the same over and over again would save a lot of time because we don't need to make those decisions for the next part, and the next. But who would like to live in a world where every kilometer is the same as the one before?"

"Who says that it has to be?" B'Elanna countered. "You just said that all sixty thousand of you existed in that first world you created for the Borg. From that I guess that every one of your people can visit the world that other of your people created. So what you do is you create a piece of world that is as big as you feel comfortable that you can easily copy. Then all sixty thousand of you create a different piece. And after that you start copying, just like a puzzle. You put piece one beside piece two, than a piece ten, then a piece thousand, then a five, and so on. With sixty thousand pieces there are, what, billions of combinations?"

"3,600,000,000 different combinations to be precise," Seven said before looking back at Three. "My Mate is correct. A computer program could be created to randomly pick any of those sixty thousand pieces, with the exception of any number that has been used the last one thousand times, for instance. This would assure that no two of the same parts are located too close to each other, and the randomness of it all would ensure that no two worlds look alike. At most pieces of the world would look the same. But then, a person that lives in that first part would first have to visit a similar part to see that it is exactly the same."

"And even there the similarities would only exist in the beginning," B'Elanna reminded. "People that live there might change the land, or one piece lies in warm weather while the second copied piece lies in cold weather, and over five to ten years new plants will have grown and the pieces look nothing alike anymore. When you create base worlds at this fast pace you would actually have the time to then look at a map of the entire world once it's finished and from that change things like where a mountain range should be placed, or where an ocean, or a desert. At that point you could split up into two groups. Thirty thousand of you going on creating more world, while the other thirty thousand concentrate on giving those different world parts a different character."

"Besides, we clearly divided the Hive into the normal drones and the Individualist drones, so in the beginning we only would have the relatively small number of Individualist drones to think about," Seven reminded. "The major part of the Collective would not want to come here because to them it would be irrelevant. You can see it in the regenerating now. Drones can talk consciously and the others will hear it, yet most of the drones still only prefer to exchange the normal information."

B'Elanna chuckled at that, "Seven, a couple of billion Individualist drones are no longer 'a small number'."

"I said 'relatively small number," Seven corrected. "On the whole that is the Borg Collective, several billion drones 'is' a small number."

B'Elanna merely lifted her hands in mock surrender.

"Since we're talking about us creating our world, I assume that you're thinking about allowing the drones to enter our world during regeneration?" Three asked.

"Not at all, the drones will most definitely not be allowed to enter your world during regeneration," Seven said resolutely. Then she explained, "We made a clear agreement with the Borg that drones, even the Individualist drones, would continue to join the Hive while regenerating and make sure that there would always be billions of voices in the Hive mind. This is something that will never change. It is exactly because of this assurance that the Hive allowed the Individualist system and also allowed the drones to be able to think and talk individually during regenerating, if they want to. After all, talking individually is still adding a voice to the many voices of the Hive. I will not risk that agreement by taking regeneration time away by those drones' voices entering your world instead of the Hive mind while regenerating."

"Then why are we talking about creating our world?" Three asked confused.

"Because there is another option," Seven said. "The Individualist drones only need to regenerate once every three days, yet they work in a three shift system. Since the standard Borg day measures thirty hours, and a shift lasts ten hours, that means that they are not working for twenty hours every day. That in turn means that Individualist drones have a lot more free time than they spend time regenerating. About six times as much on average, depending on their species and regeneration needs. You brought B'Elanna and me here while we are still sleeping, so the Individualist drones could choose to enter this world when they are sleeping. It should be easy enough to set up a program that they can activate before going to bed that brings them here automatically once they fall asleep, and that can help them fall asleep if they want to come here when not tired."

"True," B'Elanna agreed. "An adaption of a medical scanner should do the trick, linked with a neural stimulator. If you activated the neural stimulator, set to cause sleep of course, you'll be asleep seconds after hitting the activate button. As soon as the medical scanner then registers that you're asleep it gives the green light, so to speak for your to be brought here to this world for the duration of time you set into the device beforehand."

Seven nodded her agreement. "Indeed. That way people could decide to come here in their free time for some recreation. Come to think of it, we could even use it as a tool for getting more people to join the Borg. At the moment we are focusing on people that want either medical help or help in getting a better life. We could use this opportunity to even let them live out their fantasies, within limits of course. For instance, take Klingons. They love a good battle, but just how often do they really get to fight? We could set up a world that is filled with mystical beasts and enemies that interacts with them. And unlike a holodeck they would not know what is coming. There might be no attack tonight, or there might be an attack and they find out that their fortifications were not strong enough. Unlike a holodeck there would be real consequences to that."

"Oh, good idea," B'Elanna agreed happily. "There are a lot of species that I'm sure would be interested in something like that. Take the Hirogen for instance. Living on a world where they can hunt to their heart's content? They would stand in line as soon as the word gets out."

"Of course, there have to be safeguards to be kept in mind," Seven reminded. "Most importantly we have to make sure that people do not lose themselves in that world and think that it is their reality. But it is an option. We could set up parts of these worlds for people to play, so to speak, something that they are not in their normal life with the Borg. To give them something that is simply impossible in reality."

Then B'Elanna thought of something. "But, um, wouldn't that take away from the social life we want to have on the ships? I mean, I do like the idea, but it would eat into free time that's normally used for socializing."

"Not if those drones decide to only come here while sleeping in those periods where they would have slept regardless. But even besides that, I do not think that this is a problem," Seven assured. "As much as this world may be real as far as we experience it, it still is not real for our bodies that are lying in our bed. You just said that it would eat into time. Well, eating is a good example. We could eat here, but we would still wake up hungry because in reality we did not eat and the body did not get actual nutrition. The same for bodily exercise. For instance, Katzi would still have to train in the 'real world' to keep her body the way Pagsha likes it."

She looked at Three and asked, "Am I correct?"

"You are, my Queen," Three agreed, knowing only too well who Katzi was since the Royal Guards were known to every single drone; Individualist or not.

"So there will always be things that have to be done in the 'real world'." Seven continued. "People still have to go to the real world to do their job. There they will meet new people, make friends. People will still meet up in the real world to spend time together. However, I do wonder if this would not make the holodecks obsolete."

"It won't," Three was quick to assure. "Exactly because our world is 'real' as well as 'real time.' Our world is a set environment. As I said, it can be changed by people by actually changing the environment like one would a real world environment, but events don't just happen. In a holodeck you can select a race program and join a race, you can even set the parameters that no matter what; you'll win. Here that isn't possible. A race would have to be planned by people, a date would have to be set, more people would have to participate, and there would truly only be one winner and the rest would have lost. So if people want to enjoy a specific scenario they'll have to use the holodeck for that. For instance, if someone would want to experience how you negotiated with the Siill, they cannot do that in our world; they have to use a holodeck for it."

"Which reminds me," B'Elanna said, "If this is a set environment how do people get things? Do you have to create every house, every thing in the house down to a painting on the wall?"

"My Princess, the last time the people in our world made those things themselves. They had jobs here; some built houses, some were painters, some created streets. What we did was to make it easy. For instance, metal was needed for people to make things so we made certain places in our world where there was so much ore close to the surface of the planet that mining for it was easy and that the ore was of an almost directly usable pure quality. We then went back from time to time to refill those places so that no other places was needed to mine for that ore. Later alloys were needed, so we created a place where that alloy could be found like natural ore, even though it could never exist like that in your world because certain materials had to be mixed to get the alloy. Trees were cut down for wood, but in the woods where those trees were cut for mass market use, we had created the trees to grow so fast that when a new tree was planted where one was cut, that it would be fully grown and ready for harvesting again within one year."

"I don't know if that would work this time though," B'Elanna said thoughtfully. "I mean, we just talked about people coming here in their free time. I don't think that they'd like to come here in their free time only to work. I could see someone coming here and doing some work they want to do for their own satisfaction, like build a cabin or tend to their garden. But to work to make roads, to mine ore, to melt that ore down? I don't know."

"I think that is a very valid point," Seven agreed. "Unless we find drones that want to spent their on duty time in this world instead in the real world. However, that would leave us with drones that only regenerate, spend their time in this world, or do off-duty activities. They would no longer be doing physical duties for the Collective."

"Yeah, but would that be a problem?" B'Elanna asked. "As it is, we've been adding more drones to the Collective with the Individualist option than the Collective added before through forced assimilation. We could add certain jobs that can be performed here, to the list of jobs that people can choose from when they join the Collective. We could kinda turn the on-duty and off-duty thing around. They spend their on-duty time here, besides that they regenerate and join the Hive where their mind is scanned, and at least four hours of their off-duty time has to be spent in the 'real world' every day. Four hours that they have to use in places where other people are; even if they go and sit in a restaurant and be bored for those four hours. Even if they first don't want to participate in real world activities they'll eventually do it if for nothing more than to get rid of the boredom."

"That could work," Seven agreed. Then looking at Three again, "I am inclined to allow you and your people to create this special world, but only if the Hive agrees. It might be that they insist on a test program again, or they will trust in the fact that the Individuals drone system has proven effective and that the safeguards are clearly working. I personally insist that people that are in this world are still available for people in the 'real world.' If for nothing more than the fact that people could be here in their off-duty time and a red alert requires their presence. Is this doable?"

"It is," Three assured. "Just like we have always available exits in the form of doors, we can create communicators which are a manifestation of a link to the 'real world'."

"Very well. Also, there are almost fifteen thousand species in the Collective at the moment. I want there to be worlds that are suitable for all of them and where their species will feel comfortable."

"That would require having different atmospheres and different gravity levels in the world," Three pointed out. "Unlike on a holodeck we cannot adapt gravity levels for every single person. We can change the gravity in a certain area, but that would mean that others could not go there. But if we create too many of those different gravity fields in one place it will take away from the reality of it. More so if we take environment in mind. Species 564 prefers an extremely dry desert like world, while species 6,678 prefers rain every day, and species 8,472 might prefer some fluidic space to remind them of home. It would not look like a real world."

"Unless you create these worlds in the form of a solar system with different planets," Seven suggested. "You could create planets, and life-sustainable moons around those planets, with different environments."

"Moons or not, with fifteen thousand species in mind that would be a lot of planets in this one artificial solar system," B'Elanna said with a grin.

"I am sure that his people can create their worlds in such a way that planets would not collide," Seven said with a raised eyebrow. "Besides, even though I want people to feel comfortable, different species will feel comfortable in the same environment. For instance, Ktarians, Bolians, and Humans, all feel comfortable in the same kind of environment. I guess that about two hundred different worlds would suffice." Looking at Three, she asked, "Would that be possible?"

"It would," Three assured. "Though then I would suggest that we create the worlds in such way that they're not a solar system, but only look that way while the separate planets are the true focus. That way we could create different kinds of stars that are seen from the planets. For instance, Risan will be used to their double star, Humans will be used to their G-class star, and the Brenal will prefer their giant red star. This won't be a problem because when we create the world we can also create what people see when they look up during the day or night."

"Very well," Seven agreed. "Lastly, I want it to be possible for people to travel between those different worlds. I do realize that some worlds my not be available to some species because of conditions like gravity. However, there will be many overlapping conditions. For instance, a world that is suited for Klingons can still be visited by Humans for a vacation."

"Is that what you want?" B'Elanna asked. "That people can visit other worlds just like they can now visit the Zamonan vacation planets?"

"Indeed, though not just for vacations. The existence of the different worlds will be known to the Individualist drones and people will be curious about them. They might want to visit them, they might find then that a planet that is not exactly suited for them might nevertheless be a good place to visit from time to time. For instance, you as part Klingon would not want to live on a cold planet, but visiting a planet with an abundance of snow might still be fun for a few hours."

A moment of her childhood flashed in front of B'Elanna's eyes. "Yeah, you're right. My father once showed me how to make a snowman. I had a lot of fun that day, I'd love to do that with Vasha once she's old enough."

"We will," Seven assured. "Be it here, or on a real planet. The reason I just mentioned is not the only reason why I want people to be able to visit other worlds though. I want to encourage social behavior. People might meet in real life, for instance during their job hours. One might invite the other to the place they visit in these worlds, which might then be in a totally different world than the other normally visits. But vacations are definitely something to keep in mind as well. Especially short vacations since there is no travel time. I want people to be able to visit different worlds here just like people in the Federation can visit Risa for a vacation, just that they do not have to spend weeks just to get to the location. Besides the fact that people can experience the uniqueness of these places, it will also ensure that even in this world the Borg will be one Collective that interacts with each other. The last thing I want is that the people in these separate worlds split off from the whole that is the Borg."

"Um, you mention Risa," B'Elanna started slowly. "Even though we don't have any Risan in the Collective, we do have members of species that have similar beliefs and ways of living. Will you allow them to live by their old laws again here? It's something to keep in mind."

"You are correct," Seven agreed. After a moment of silence she added, "I feel that I am uncertain about the issue. I want people to have certain freedoms here, yet I also do not want that these places become lawless places where people can do whatever they want without keeping consequences to those actions in mind. What would you suggest?"

B'Elanna thought about that for a moment. "Well, I think that we should leave them some liberties, but indeed have some rules in place. I think that we should focus on something like 'you can do what you want, but don't hurt others.' Kinda like the different decks we have on Unimatrix 01, where different rules apply to different decks. We could do the same here. Take the few Barudians we have in the Collective. They're much like the Risan, they like sex, they like to give pleasure, and they opened their world to other species to come and have fun with them. In my mind, if the Barudians want to go around and fuck everyone; hey, all the power to them... so to speak of course."

"The point is that they are doing it to their own body, they are not forcing anyone to have sex with them. And they do not go around hurting people that do not agree with them," Seven said in understanding.

"Right," B'Elanna agreed. "But on the other hand, with Pagsha's species the men were oppressing the women. Oppression would be a thing not allowed. We could set up some base rules that'll apply to every world, and then leave it up to the worlds if they want to add more. But if they want to add more rules, those rules have to first be approved by you, or maybe by some drones that monitor the rules in these worlds. We could check the Collective to find some drones that would be suited to set up some kind of... constitution for these worlds. Something you, as the Queen, have the final say over of course."

"I believe that this is a good idea," Seven agreed.

B'Elanna hesitated. "So, assuming that the Hive agrees to the creation of this world, what are we going to call it? I mean, the different planets will be named on an individual basis, but we need a name for this fake, yet real world, and probably also a name to indicate the real world."

"I believe that 'the real world' is a simple but very effective name to use for people that are in this world and that want to indicate the place where their body is," Seven said. "I think that we can simply keep calling the real world 'the real world.' It is also a clear reminder that no matter how real this world seems, there is still a more important place; the place where their body is."

"Um, which reminds me," B'Elanna interrupted before Seven could suggest a name for the world they were in at the moment. Looking at Three, B'Elanna asked, "Considering that the body isn't here, can you actually die in this world? If I can die here, what happens to my body?"

"You can die here, but it's only a temporary situation," Three explained. "When you die, what really happens is that the same mechanism is activated that you would also activate to leave this world; your door. Only when you 'die' you travel through it whether you want to or not. Then you wake up in 'the real world' and can choose to enter this world again where you would then appear close to where you died, but in a place where you won't automatically die again. We can change that to where you simply cannot die here, but we found the first time around that it's actually a good thing that you can 'die' because often you feel pain before dying and it stops you from doing foolish things. People know that they cannot literally die here, but they know that they would feel the pain of the dying and don't want that."

"That sounds like a good initiative to take a little care when being here," Seven agreed. "An I think that I would like to expand on that by setting up a system where people that die here through their own fault actually will not be allowed back here for a certain time, and if they continue to die here time and again through their own fault, that they will not be allowed back at all."

"Why?" B'Elanna wondered.

"Because often when people do foolish things that get them killed they take others with them. And while they cannot truly die here, those others would still feel the pain of dying while they did nothing to deserve it."

Then Seven came back to what they had been discussing before. "As for a name for this world. As Three pointed out, as much as this world is not real, it is also not necessarily unreal, so any name with fake or unreal, like 'the fake world' would not be fitting. I think... the Individualist drones like to call Unimatrix 01 the home of the Borg. I think that this world also needs a name that reminds everyone of the Borg and still is a subtle reminder of the fact that this world exists, yet does not. What would you think of Unimatrix Zero?"

B'Elanna frowned. "I get the Unimatrix part, but why Zero?"

"Because zero without any other number stand for nothing. Some species even argue that zero without another number is actually not a number. So this arguably not real number, that in any case indicates the existence of nothing, would be a clear reminder of the fact that this world is not real, does not exist, is nothing. Yet at the same time zero is one of the, if not the, most important numbers because it is also a place holder. While adding no value of its own, it can still turn any of the other nine numbers into more; tens, hundreds, billions, trillions. Keeping both those facts in mind, Unimatrix Zero, a place that does not exist, could never the less be a place where trillions of drones go to in their off-duty time."

"Unimatrix Zero," B'Elanna repeated. "Yeah, I kinda like the sound of that." Looking at Three she asked, "Do you think that your people would agree to the name?"

"I assure you, we would be honored," Three said softly. "To be granted the name of a Unimatrix, to be considered as important as one of five places that ensure the Borg existence..."

"Now six," Seven corrected. "However, there is still work to be done. Worlds have to be created, people will have to be given the option to work here, including some that will help you with the creation of these worlds by telling you what is needed where. And not to forget, the Hive has to agree. However, once I leave this world and wake up, I will regenerate, join the Hive, and share my opinion on the matter."

B'Elanna hummed. "Hmm, if the Hive agrees to the creation of Unimatrix Zero then I'd suggest that the first step, even before Three's people start creating their worlds, is to select a group of people that will oversee the rules in Unimatrix Zero; just like we have it with real parts of the Collective. Have Ministers that oversee the different worlds, that report to Governors, who then report to a single President for Unimatrix Zero, who in the end reports to the Queen."

"I agree," Seven said. "Three, please show us how we can leave this world and then contact me again in one day. I will then be able to tell you if the Hive agrees to the creation of Unimatrix Zero. At that time we can also discuss how to make it possible for people to enter your world on their own accord in their free time."

"Yes, my Queen," Three said, realizing that this meeting had gone better than any of his people had ever hoped. He was looking forward to the day where he and his people could help unite the Collective more than it already was.


Chapter 48

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

Year 01, Month 05, Day 29, Hour 11, Minute 33.

"It was actually quite funny," Katzi said.

She, Pagsha, B'Elanna and Seven were spending some time on the Royal holodeck. A meeting was planned for the afternoon, but that was four hours away and they had decided to spend that time together. At the moment they were sitting close to the lake of the Zamonan village that Seven and B'Elanna had once stayed in, and Katzi had once lived in. They had enjoyed a small picnic and now they were just enjoying each other's company.

"Here we had Maindi, one of the smallest Zamonan warriors I have ever seen, chewing out a group of twenty Siill warriors, and they even backed up when she stepped closer."

"They love her," B'Elanna said as she moved to sit behind Seven and closed her arms around her lover, while she put her legs on either side of the blonde. "As small as Maindi is, she keeps right up with those Siill warriors, with the exception of the things that are simply physically impossible for her because of species limitations. They love her because she never gives them an order to do something she wouldn't do herself, if she can."

"She has always been an extremely brave person," Katzi agreed. "She never was the best with weapons, but she did excel at conditioning simply because she was too damn stubborn to give up."

"You know her that well, to know that?" Pagsha asked.

"She lived in our village for three years before she moved away again to become the commander of the forces in an adjacent village."

"You know her that well?" Pagsha asked again.

Katzi grinned before asking, "Do you want me to tell you about this really cute birthmark she has right above her,"

"No, but you can tell me if she was any good," Pagsha interrupted with a sweet smile. She had never minded that Katzi had been experienced. In fact, she loved the fact that she had an experienced partner that knew exactly what to do to drive her crazy. She also had never feared any potential feelings her Mate could still have for those former women. After all, Katzi still wore that cover on her arm that boldly stated; 'Pagsha's Property'.

"She was okay," Katzi honestly admitted after thinking about it for a moment. "Great stamina, very skilled hands. But that stubbornness made sure that we only had one day together. Sex more than once that day, but still only one day. We were too incompatible. It was great, but she wanted to out-stubborn my control. She's too much like me, mentally wise. She actually needs someone like you my love. Someone that doesn't mind, and even enjoys, to concede and bow to the dominant partner."

"You're very capable of conceding, Katzi," B'Elanna spoke up as she moved her hands up to cover Seven's breasts. "I've seen you do it, you know."

"That's because Pagsha never wants my concession, therefore it pleases me if I can give her the gift of me conceding to her." Then she couldn't help but grin as she saw B'Elanna slowly start to move her hands over Seven's breasts.

"Tell me about her," Pagsha urged. "She's, what, one and a half meters tall? And then such a slim body at that. How can it even be that she made it through warrior training?"

"As I said, half of what she does she does by sheer stubbornness. Besides that she has very fast reflexes. She never would be able to overpower me with a weapon. But hand to hand she would be a lot faster. And her smaller body has an advantage then; being a small target. She put a lot of extra effort in the martial arts training. She knew that if her reflexes and martial art knowledge would bring her close to a target, she can use those martial arts to make sure that someone like me can no longer use a weapon to hurt her."

Katzi saw one of B'Elanna's hands slip into Seven's leather top. "Are you horny B'Elanna?"

B'Elanna placed a kiss on Seven's neck, indicating that the next words were meant for the blonde as well. "Yeah, actually I am, do you mind?"

Seven's only answer was to capture B'Elanna's hand and push it a little more firmly against the breast that the Klingon had been fondling, while Katzi merely grinned again and continued on as if she had never interrupted her own conversation.

"I think that Maindi is dating that drone that always restocks the shelves in the training area. I think they'll really like each other; a good match. After all, that drone is a member of species 5,681, and as you know, their women want to be controlled in their love life."

Then she frowned. "I wonder how that works with two women then? Clearly they have lesbian relationships. Otherwise she wouldn't be interested in Maindi. Maybe they can take control if needed, just that they would much rather have the partner have that control."

"So they are kinda like me," Pagsha pointed out.

"Oh, no, a lot more extreme than you," B'Elanna spoke up. "You like to be told what to do, to have a dominant partner that makes choices for you. The women of species 5,681 want to be totally controlled, more like a sex object that just exists to please the partner. They love it. The more they're under total control, the more they adore their partner. Which is kinda funny if you keep in mind that they become so totally independent as soon as they leave the bedroom."

"I'm sure that she'll love Maindi's approach then," Katzi continued. "She really likes to be a top... likes to be literally on top too. In fact, during sex, Maindi really likes to be on top as much as possible, preferably while using a strap-on toy."

B'Elanna groaned at that. She removed her hand from her lover's breast and brought it to Seven's back so that she could use both her hands to open Seven's top.

As Seven did the rest of the work and took her leather top off, she asked, "It sounds like you like the image. Do you want to be on top, using a toy?"

"Actually, I'd really like it to be the other way around. I want you on top of me as you make love to me," B'Elanna admitted.

"We can do that," Seven agreed.

"You let her be on top?" Pagsha asked her Mate amused as she nestled in front of the tall woman. She took a moment to look to her side and at Seven's exposed breasts. Though she really loved her Mate and her body, including her small breasts, Pagsha really liked to see the bodies of the other women as well. But that was alright, since all four of them enjoyed the looks. For instance, Pagsha knew only too well that B'Elanna found the fact that Pagsha had a tail incredibly sexy, while Seven always got wet from seeing Katzi's strong muscles move when the tall woman kept herself slightly up, and off her lover with one arm, as she pinned Pagsha's smaller body under her much larger one.

Pagsha took in the wonderful view of seeing Seven's breasts, with those pink hard nipples, being lifted by Seven's own hands and squeezed a couple of times, before the blonde lowered her hands again and waited to see what B'Elanna wanted to do next. But Pagsha decided to focus back on her own Mate. Even though it hadn't been said, it was clear that what was obviously coming was not about watching and being watched. As quite often lately this time it was simply making love to their Mate, and not minding that their friends were doing the same thing close by. Pagsha realized that they had reached a stage where, at least Pagsha and Katzi, made love more often when their friends where present as when not.

Katzi made little ceremony of removing Pagsha's shirt, liking the fact that her lover wasn't wearing a bra underneath. Katzi knew that her lover did this for her. When they went out to one of the restaurants or any of the other social places on the ship then Pagsha would wear her black Uniform that would enhance her curves, yet hide clear details. But when they went out to see friends, or went to do something that wasn't planned, Pagsha wore shirts and clothing that fit looser, but at the same time showed more. The shirt Pagsha had worn until Katzi had taken it off, was actually loose fitting. But because of her prominent chest the fabric was still stretched in that area, and still clearly showed off her nipples, especially when they were as stiff as they were at that moment.

"Sure I let her be on top," Katzi happily agreed. "As I said, she has great stamina, and if she's on top while I can just lie there and enjoy... why would I object? She just kept going and going; made me come four times before she tired. Of course, then it was my turn."

"What did you do?" Pagsha asked before she stood up for a moment and removed her pants before she sat back down in front of her lover.

"I showed her that having a big and powerful body has its advantages too. I trapped her underneath me just like you like me to do with you, and held her pinned down and then ravished her."

Pagsha groaned at that. "You make me so damn hot, my Mate." Then she groaned again when both her nipples were captured and her mind drifted more away from conversation, and closer to other fun things.


Chapter 49

B'Elanna had leisurely played with her lover's breasts as she listened to the conversation between her friends, but now she decided that it was time to concentrate more on her lover. She trailed soft kisses over Seven's shoulders and neck while she let her hands roam over Seven's sides, belly, and breasts. Slowly she used her left hand to concentrate more and more on playing with those breasts she loved to touch so much. She used her right hand to trail along the metal ridges of Seven's abdominal implant; knowing only too well how sensitive Seven was at those places where metal ended and flesh began. She moved her mouth to Seven's ear and trailed the tip of her tongue along the delicate edge while her left hand found an aching nipple and started to pinch and role it softly.

Seven could only hum her agreement of B'Elanna's skillful touches. She decided to help her lover a little and lifted her own hands to her breasts once more; kneading them softly as B'Elanna got the hint and concentrated only on the hard nipples, playing with one for a moment before moving over to its twin and giving it the same treatment. Her right hand never went higher than Seven's belly though. Instead she started to move it down. Slowly, much too slow for the blonde, B'Elanna moved her hand down Seven's leg until she reached the hem of the blonde's leather skirt. She moved her hand between Seven's legs and moved back up, moving the skirt with it, until finally she was touching Seven's warm and wet center.

"I love how wet you get just because I touch you," B'Elanna said softly as she slowly moved her middle finger up and down Seven's wet cleft.

"Should I need any other reason than that?" Seven asked, opening her legs a little more to give her lover better access. "I love you, and your touch is all I ever need to get aroused. In fact, I do not even need your touch. Just a look from you, just smelling you, just hearing you. You, my Mate, arouse me."

B'Elanna circled Seven's opening only to move up again. Slowly, and carefully to not apply too much pressure, she moved the entire length of her middle finger over Seven's clit from the bottom up, pulling a ragged breath from her lover's mouth. Then she started to move her index and middle finger over the hard bud in a slow circular motion while she used her other arm to pull Seven closer to her and then just hug her, trying to convey that way just how much the blonde meant to her.

For a couple of minutes they sat that way; B'Elanna slowly stimulating Seven while at the same time they basked in the love that was flowing through them. Looking over at their friends, B'Elanna saw that apparently they too were in the mood for some slow loving. Pagsha was lying on top of Katzi and they were exchanging leisurely kisses while they both had a hand between their lover's legs, stimulating each other while enjoying the pleasure of kissing.

Eventually the Klingon wanted more. She removed her hand from between her lover's legs and licked the fingers clean. "Mmhmm, wonderful, as always. I think I want to taste a little more of that. Why don't you get that skirt off?"

Seven did as her lover had suggested, and by the time she had removed her skirt, B'Elanna had actually rolled onto her back.

"Want to sit down?" B'Elanna asked with a smile.

"I would love to," Seven assured, knowing exactly what her lover meant. She stood up, only to step over her lover and sink down onto her knees. Then she lowered herself slowly onto her lover's face until she felt the Klingon's mouth against her center. "Nice," She commented with approval when her lover's tongue moved over her heated flesh.

B'Elanna put her hands on Seven's behind to support the blonde a little, and moved her tongue a couple of times over Seven's clit. Then she moved back, sucking one of Seven's inner lips into her mouth and running her tongue over it; enjoying the rush of air her lover let out in something that sounded a little like a moan and a little like a sigh. She did the same to its twin and then moved on to the blonde's opening. She circled the slick opening slowly before finally dipping in, extracting a hum of enjoyment from her lover. She moved her tongue in and out several times before finally moving to the Blonde's puckered opening. She circled it a few times with the tip of her tongue before slowly pushing in.

"You do that so well," Seven approved as B'Elanna started to move in and out.

B'Elanna didn't react verbally, but did pull out and quickly flicked the tip of her tongue over the ring of muscles. Then she moved back to Seven's slick opening and pushed as far in as she could. Back she went to the puckered opening, only to circle it and then move back to the slick entrance and do the same there. Eventually she made a figure eight motion out of it, always making sure to caress the sensitive skin between the two openings on every pass. B'Elanna knew that this particular motion drove the blonde wild, and it wasn't long before Seven's body started to rock its hips on its own accord, showing with this age old rhythm that it wanted more, and B'Elanna was only too happy to oblige.

She moved back to Seven's clit and rapidly moved the tip of her tongue over it like she had done moments before with the blonde's rear entrance. Suddenly she sucked the aching bud into her mouth and closed her teeth on the flesh behind it. Knowing that her lover was close and could take a little bit more direct stimulation now, B'Elanna started to swirl her tongue around the now totally exposed bud in her mouth. Until now, Seven had been relatively silent since they were enjoying some leisurely loving, but this sudden attack forced her to let out a loud 'yes' only to then repeat the word several times a little softer.

Knowing that it was only a matter of moments now, B'Elanna moved her right hand a little further around and than pushed her ring and middle finger into Seven's puckered opening as far as she could. As she had expected, the sudden penetration sent Seven over the edge. She felt her lover start to shake slightly as she started to orgasm. B'Elanna quickly let go of the sensitive flesh in her mouth, not wanting to run the chance that her lover would hurt herself on the Klingon's sharp teeth. Then, knowing Seven only too well, B'Elanna moved a little lower and eagerly cleaned up the extra wetness that the blonde's orgasm had produced.

But despite the strong orgasm she had just given her lover, B'Elanna started to move her fingers in and out. At first it was just meant to be a little extra feeling to prolong the orgasm, but when Seven didn't move or speak when she had clearly come down from her peak, B'Elanna moved her mouth back to Seven's clit once more. She moved her tongue over it, more as a question than anything else. If Seven had enough she would answer by moving away, if not... Seven didn't move away, but instead even lowered back down again after having moved up a little when the orgasm shot through her. This time, B'Elanna kept things simple. She continued to move her fingers in and out of Seven's rear opening while moving her tongue over the hard clit.

It was simple, it was basic, and Seven loved every second of it. Soon Seven felt herself start to climb once more, and then B'Elanna's relentless licking sent her over again. She felt B'Elanna start to lick her entire center, clearly removing all traces of extra wetness her orgasm had produced. And as the wonderful feeling of a great orgasm started to fade, it was replaced by an even greater feeling of love for the woman that was lying between her legs and providing a cleanup service. 'How I love that woman.'

Feeling how her lover placed a last soft kiss on her clit, Seven reluctantly moved away. She looked over at her friends once more and saw that they were still enjoying an equal giving and getting of pleasure, but now they were doing it with Pagsha lying on top with her face between her lover's legs in such a way that Katzi's mouth could also reach Pagsha's center.

With nothing but a command via her neural link, Seven ordered the computer to replicate a toy she had been thinking of using lately, but had never gotten around to. Though it was not their prized Zamonan possession, it would do just fine for now. She showed the toy to her lover to see if she agreed with the choice. An eager nod later, Seven secured the toy.

"You want to feel?" B'Elanna asked because her lover had selected one of the toys that made it possible for the wearer to feel the sensation of penetrating. As Seven had been replicating and then securing the toy, B'Elanna had quickly shed her clothing, much to Seven's amusement. They had long since stopped pointing out that one of the other still had clothes on while pleasing her partner; it happened often enough. As Seven had once put it; the temptation to love their Mate was too big and taking clothes off was often forgotten, until they were actually in the way.

"I do," Seven agreed. "I want to make slow and tender love to you, and because of that I do not have to worry about my own sensations interfering to the point where it becomes more about my own release than yours."

Seven kneeled between her lover's legs and leaned forward to place kisses all over her chest area; moving between breasts, always ending with placing a kiss on a nipple. But the route between nipples was never the same. One time she moved up so far that she was placing kisses on B'Elanna's chin, but not moving up that little bit more to capture her lips. Another time she moved so far down that B'Elanna's neatly trimmed triangle of pubic hair also received one of the butterfly soft kisses. Nothing was missed. The belly button was visited, just like that small freckle above the Klingon's right breast.

"Touch me," B'Elanna pleaded, and Seven knew only too well what the plea was asking for. She brought her mesh-covered hand to her lover's center and softly rubbed over the hard bundle of nerves in a wide circle; always first moving her palm over it, and then the four fingers of her outstretched hand. Making sure that first the metal band across her palm and then the metal-covered tips of her fingers moved over the aching clit, only to be replaced by soft flesh when the rest of the hand was in contact.

"I love it when you do that," B'Elanna said with a groan.

"And I love the fact that you love it when I do that," Seven replied with a smile. She slowly slid one of her fingers into B'Elanna's warm wetness and moved it in and out a couple of times. Moments later she slid in a second finger and started to twist her fingers so that her lover would not just feel the metal bands on top of the fingers sliding in and out along the length of the fingers, but would also feel the metal ridges moving along her inner walls from side to side.

"Fuck yes!" B'Elanna exclaimed. She enjoyed Seven's skilful touch for a few moments before she brought her own hand down and started to rub her clit in unison with Seven's trusting.

"I also love how well we work together," Seven said lustfully. She watched her Mate touch herself for several moments while Seven herself enjoyed the feeling of B'Elanna's muscles gripping her fingers. But after a moment of this, she decided that she wanted to feel those muscles grip her in a different way. Reluctantly she removed her fingers and moved up her lover's body. She made a crude hand gesture to B'Elanna and lifted her eyebrow.

"Cute," B'Elanna said, before closing her lips over the offered digit and removing her own wetness from Seven's middle finger.

Once B'Elanna had cleaned the finger, and taken enough time to make love to it with her tongue, Seven brought her hand to her mouth before licking her ring finger clean as well. "You always taste wonderful," Seven assured before leaning down and kissing her lover. They took their time exploring each other's mouths with their tongues. Seven finally brought a hand down between them and positioned the toy at her lover's slick opening. Never stopping the kissing, the blonde slid the toy home in one thrust; just like her Mate loved it.

B'Elanna groaned into the kiss in satisfaction while her muscles clamped down on the toy inside her, making Seven groan in turn. "Sorry," The Klingon apologized, "I forgot you could feel that now."

"Do not apologize," Seven assured while she lowered herself until she was fully covering her lover. "Maybe we were too hasty in saying that we did not want technology in our love life. Do that again."

B'Elanna happily did so. She closed her legs around her lover while she did her best to massage the toy inside her by clamping and releasing her muscles. At one point she was amazed to actually see Seven's eyes role up and a look of pure wonder cross the blonde's face. "That good?" B'Elanna asked.

"That good," Seven agreed. "We need to get a real toy like this. You have to feel what this feels like. Now I can understand why men do so much just to get into a woman's vagina."

"Will you let me try later?" B'Elanna asked.

"Will I let you fuck me with the toy?" Seven countered, immediately groaning when she felt her lover clamp down. Then she smiled. "You really do like it when I use crude words. Yes, I will let you fuck me. You have to feel this. I still think that our Zamonan toy will continue to be our main toy because we both like the fact that while it feels nice to the person wearing it, it still does not distract like this does. This is perfect for what I am planning to do now; make love to you slowly, tenderly. But I would not like to use this on those occasions where you like that simple and straightforward 'in and out,' as you called it the last time. This gives me too much sensation; it would distract me from concentrating on you like I love to do."

"I think there's room in our nightstand yet," B'Elanna said with a smile. "Maybe it's about time we go exploring into the technological toys." Then she grinned. "I mean, we're the Princess and Queen of the most technologically advanced group of people we know. We should embrace technology, not shun it."

"Do you not mean we should insert technology?" Seven asked while she rolled her hips and moved the toy slightly out and then back in again.

"There you go with those cheap ass Borg jokes again," B'Elanna trailed her hands over Seven's back until they were resting on the blonde's shapely behind. "Now, how about you actually use that thing?"

"Yes, my beloved and most wonderful Mate," Seven agreed.

As the blonde started to move it became clear to B'Elanna that she hadn't been kidding when she said that she was in the mood for some slow loving. Seven never moved off her lover; she kept lying skin to skin, chest to chest. She didn't even try to move the toy in and out that much. Instead she continued to rock her hips back and forth slowly and enjoy the few centimeters of penetration this allowed.

B'Elanna had to admit that it was a bit lacking in sensation, but if this was what her lover wanted then B'Elanna would be happy with it. It took her a couple of minutes to understand the real intention. Seven was lying on top of her with their heads beside each other; cheek to cheek. She couldn't hug B'Elanna because the Klingon was lying on the grass, so instead she had folded her arms around B'Elanna's head, keeping her as close as possible. Now B'Elanna realized; this was not about physical pleasure. This was about emotional pleasure. Seven was making love to her in the true essence of the word. The movement with the toy was only to stimulate a little physical pleasure to go along with the much more important emotional pleasure.

Finally understanding what Seven was doing, B'Elanna moved her hands up until she was hugging her lover. "I'm sorry baby; sometimes I can be really dense." Because they were lying cheek to cheek, B'Elanna could feel how Seven smiled before answering.

"I was wondering what you would do. Realize what I am doing, not realize it but still go along because I seem to like what I am doing, or actually ask me to change what I am doing."

B'Elanna used her hand to lift Seven's head so that she could kiss her. "You should have told me though. Now that I know what you're doing this feels absolutely great. I have to admit that at first I was going for option number two; going along because you like it, and it's not like I hate it."

"I believe we should replicate a real toy like this when we go to bed tonight. I want to continue this; I want to make love to you like this knowing up front that neither of us will achieve a physical climax, and that that is also not the purpose of the activity."

"We could do that now," B'Elanna noted. "I wouldn't mind."

"You would not, and I am even sure that Pagsha and Katzi would find something else to do. However, there is the small fact that we have a meeting to go to shortly."

Hearing the names of their friends, B'Elanna looked in their direction and saw them cuddling and enjoying each other's closeness. Knowing that neither of their friends was one to rush their lovemaking, B'Elanna deducted that it must be her and Seven's lovemaking that already had gone on for quite some time. She checked her internal chronometer and realized that it was actually already half an hour since Seven had entered her with the toy. "You're right," she agreed. "This is something we should do in bed when people are not waiting for us."

"Indeed," Seven agreed. "However, as you said, soon people will be waiting for us. So..." still not moving off her lover, Seven did change how she was using the toy. She stopped rocking her hips and instead used her leg muscles to push forward and bury the toy deep inside her lover with a forceful push.

"Fuck, you bitch!" B'Elanna shouted while she slammed her head forcefully back into the grass.

"Now, now," Seven said, somehow being able to make it sound as if she was tisking B'Elanna at the same time. She pulled out slowly, only to bring the shaft back home with another forceful push, resulting in another 'fuck' from her lover. "You do realize that if you keep saying profanities I might have to start worrying that you truly do not want this."

Now B'Elanna grinned. "Baby, what did we agree about believing what I say?"

"That only 'Nine, stop' is something I truly have to listen to," Seven recited before finally moving off her lover's upper body until she was holding herself up on outstretched arms. She pulled back and started to set a steady rhythm of loving her Mate with the toy.

Yet, B'Elanna noticed that despite Seven's words her actions were not as vigorous as B'Elanna had expected. She had a good idea why this was so. She placed her hands on Seven's hips and pulled her all the way in before stopping her. "How does that feel for you?"

"It feels wonderful, yet it also proves that our concern about these kinds of toys were correct. It feels wonderful and 'I' want to feel it. It is becoming more about me feeling pleasure than about me giving pleasure to you. These toys are inefficient compared to how we usually use our Zamonan toy."

"Baby, that they can't replace our Zamonan toy doesn't mean that they're no good at all. So what if you want to feel the pleasure? Hell, when I make love to you I want you to feel pleasure. I think we're both kinda used to us using a toy that looks like that to give pleasure, and it only feeling nice to the wearer of the toy. With this one it will be more of a both at once kinda thing. It feels great to me when you use it, I can assure you that. I get my pleasure out of it when you fuck me with that thing, and you'll get your pleasure by burying that thing deep inside my willing pussy. And if you happen to come before I do, then you can make it up to me with your tongue. Come to think of it, if I happen to come before you, I can make it up to you with my mouth as well."

"And if you are wearing it, it is the same thing," Seven said in agreement. Having her fear settled, Seven resumed her pace. B'Elanna was right; this was a new toy and should be treated as such. She now started to concentrate on what she was trying to ignore before. She had been inside B'Elanna with her fingers and tongue countless times, yet never before had she felt the warmth that was B'Elanna so much. Warmth? No, this wasn't warmth; this was heat. Incredible, seductive, and very addictive heat. Heat she realized she wanted to feel again and again. But there was so much more as well. To feel B'Elanna's slick walls surrounding her, pulling her in with every thrust. To actually feel her lover clamp down along the entire length of the shaft... For a moment the rational part of her mind wondered how the designers of the toy had been able to create it in such a way that a woman would still feel the entire length of the shaft; even though the stimuli mechanics at the base of the shaft only made contact with Seven's clit. Other than that there was only a very thin probe that had been inserted in Seven's own center and that was just long enough to reach deep enough to rest against Seven's G spot. But still, that could not explain...

Then a more basic and primeval part of her mind almost screamed at her that she could figure out how everything worked at a later time. Now she had to concentrate on the wonderful feeling, and not on how it might have been created.

Seven looked B'Elanna in the eyes and saw joy and approval there.

Then her lover gave a slight nod and whispered softly; "Let go, Seven. Shut that beautiful mind of yours off, feel. Go on, baby; go to town."

Seven grinned at those last words. Not knowing the statement as such, but knowing only too well that her lover was telling her to truly let go completely.

B'Elanna knew that Seven rarely grinned, and therefore she knew that she had gotten her point across. Finally she saw Seven actually close her eyes and simply concentrate on her own pleasure. The thrusting changed; became faster and more forceful. B'Elanna sure didn't mind. It felt incredible, and the look of total lust on Seven's face was almost enough to make her come; almost.

Once Seven had changed her stroke it was only a matter of two more minutes before she gave a last thrust and groaned out her release. B'Elanna was close and did not want to miss out on her own peak. "Don't pull out," she said to her lover, who only gave a weak nod while still catching her breath.

With the toy still inside her, B'Elanna made short work of rubbing her clit until a minute later she too came.

Knowing that her lover had found her release as well, Seven reluctantly pulled out and removed the toy from her body.

She tried to bend the shaft and was surprised to find it very stiff and at room temperature. "It must go back to some standard setting when detached."

B'Elanna reached for the toy. "Gimme that thing." Moments later she had attached it to her own groin and Seven could see the shaft then clearly becoming flexible again.

"As much as I would like you to return the favor, we do not have the time," Seven noted with regret in her voice.

"I know we don't have the time," B'Elanna agreed, "but I think it's safe to say that we're both curious as to how it feels. I want to feel what it feels like to be inside you with this thing, and you want to feel what it's like to feel it inside you. So, we do a little test."

B'Elanna got up and waited until Seven had done the same, then she moved to stand behind the blonde and gave a one-word command: "Bend."

With a smirk that was half amused, and half eagerness, Seven did as she was told and bent forward a little to give her lover better excess.

"You know, if I was someone to hold a grudge, I would shove that thing all the way in at once."

"I could not even blame you for it," Seven agreed. "However, you know that we differ on this subject, and therefore you will not go in all at once; at least not on the first push."

"You're so right," B'Elanna agreed as she started to push in slowly. "I totally love a deep and long push that hits home at the first go. You totally love the first push to be slow and teasing. But you know what?" B'Elanna asked at the same time as the toy reached as far in as it could go.

"What?" Seven asked before adding, "You are right, this is wonderful. However, ours will need to have some extra texture, this one is a little too smooth."

"And it will. Maybe some bumps or ridges. As for my question, I may like a strong and fast first push, and you a slow and teasing one. But after that first push we are both the same in the fact that we're both ready and willing for whatever our partner wants to give us. And you're right; I never knew just how incredibly warm this feels. The feeling of being inside you feels different than the feeling of the real thing inside me does. The warmth feels different somehow, and also, you simply can't compare the feeling of being filled and the feeling of being surrounded. Actually, it feels kinda addictive."

B'Elanna moved the shaft almost all the way out before adding; "That's a dangerous combination, you know? A toy that feels this great, and a partner that after the first push is ready for whatever I can give her. Very dangerous indeed."

With the last word, B'Elanna pushed back in. "You're also right about now understanding why men do anything for this," B'Elanna added between thrusts. "Fuck baby, you feel incredible."

Seven was more than willing to have her Mate love her. Meeting be damned. They could afford to be late to a designer's meeting for once. She felt how B'Elanna put her hands on her hips to set the pace and all thoughts of a meeting were literally thrust out of her mind.

"Harder," Seven demanded and the next thrust proved that her wish had been B'Elanna's command.

B'Elanna pulled back on Seven's hips more forcefully, pulling the blonde's shapely behind against her groin with every push; resulting in a steady rhythm of flesh hitting flesh. When the toy had been in B'Elanna it had felt great, but it certainly wasn't an unknown experience; having used toys, as well as having had several male lovers in her life. But this, this was totally new. These were feelings she had never experienced before. Her fingers had moved in and out of Seven's wonderful pussy more often than she could count, but this was as if it was her sensitive bundle of nerves that was directly sliding along Seven's velvet walls. She was used to fingers, a tongue, or a toy sliding around her clit; but she was not used to it feeling as if her fully exposed clit slid in and out, and feeling that sensation for as long as the shaft was.

Now she understood why Seven had come so quickly, and with a few last and needful thrusts she did the same. She grunted as she pulled Seven close and suddenly stopped her trusting. It somehow felt different. Normally she could work through her orgasm, but now it stopped her. She was sure that it was just the new experience though. After all, when she first started to have sex she also needed to stop after every orgasm. With a little bit of training she knew that she could keep going through her first orgasm with this toy as well. With a grin she realized that she was most definitely looking forward to that training.

Then she realized something else. She moved her hands from Seven's hips and around her. With one hand she started to pay homage to her lover's breasts and hard nipples, while she moved her other hand around and down until she reached Seven's wet center.

She softly whispered into her lover's ear. "I'm so glad that we both agree that there's nothing wrong with coming before your partner does, as long as you don't forget to take care of your partner afterwards. Let me take care of you baby."

Seven placed her hand over B'Elanna's and then entwined their fingers. She moved their combined fingers back and forth over her aching clit a couple of times before turning the movement into a circle. With one of their passes they touched the shaft that was still buried deep inside Seven. Hearing B'Elanna give a soft whimper at the contact, Seven decided that now was the perfect time to put something into practice that she had learned from her time with Harry. She moved her hand off B'Elanna's.

"Use that hand to stimulate me," Seven ordered, knowing only too well how B'Elanna loved it when she spoke to her like that when they were making love.

Feeling that her command was followed, Seven lowered her own hand a bit further until she was touching the shaft once more.

"Seven?" B'Elanna asked when she realized that there was a purpose behind the touch.

Seven didn't answer with words, but instead started to run her fingernails up and down a few centimeters of the shaft that weren't inside her.

"Kahless be damned, woman," B'Elanna exclaimed as she literally jumped back, pulling the shaft out as she did so.

Seven merely bent forward a little again before looking at her lover over her shoulder and taunted, "Come on, prove to me what a fearless Klingon you are. Make me come, and let me play with you."

Knowing that her love for the blonde was unconditional, as was her trust in her, B'Elanna stepped forward again. Now she was actually curious about what Seven was going to do. Seven always liked to tease, and before B'Elanna had become involved with the blonde she had always thought that teasing was something that didn't belong in her love life. Seven had very wonderfully proved her wrong.

B'Elanna placed a hand on one of Seven's breasts and guided the shaft to the blonde's opening with the other. As she slowly pushed in, she started to knead and fondle the supple breast while she brought her second hand around to Seven's aching clit. Knowing that the purpose behind her thrusts had changed, B'Elanna moved in and out at a slow pace. "This is frustrating me," B'Elanna admitted as she started to move her hand over her lover's heated flesh.

"You can go faster, if you want," Seven assured, making it clear that she wouldn't mind that either.

"The good kind of frustrating," B'Elanna explained.

Seven didn't answer verbally. Instead she reached between her legs and once again started to move her fingernails over the shaft.

B'Elanna flinched slightly at the touch, but this time she adapted quickly. She slowed her thrusting down even more until it took a second to move all the way in, and another second to move out again. Giving Seven more than enough time to play with the shaft. Yet despite that, she never let up on moving her hand, stimulating her lover in a pace much faster than her leisurely trusting.

"That feels great," B'Elanna whispered softly into her lover's ear. "The nails are hard and scratch just enough to give a slight trace of pain. And then I slide into your warm and tight pussy where your slick walls feel like velvet around me. Tell me, Seven; do you like it when I tell you how great it feels when I fuck you?"

Seven's muscles clamped down on the shaft in reaction to hearing the words, answering with action even before she could verbally. Of course, B'Elanna knew the answer only too well. She knew exactly what her lover liked; be it physically or emotionally.

Because B'Elanna was feeling the sensation of her loving her Mate just as much as Seven did, B'Elanna felt herself getting closer to release once more. But this time she was determined to have Seven reach her peak as well. She sped up the movement over Seven's center while using her other hand to focus more on pinching and rolling the blonde's hard nipples. She felt Seven start to grip at the shaft more and more and with a last increase of speed of fingers over clit, she sent her lover over the edge. As Seven groaned out her release, her muscles gripped and released the shaft inside her in an uncontrollable rhythm that nearly sent B'Elanna over as well; nearly.

B'Elanna stilled her thrusting, keeping the shaft deep inside her lover. Her hand movements changed to soft caresses; breasts were caressed instead of stimulated, the clit was avoided but lips and hood were lovingly touched.

Once Seven was calmed down enough, B'Elanna pulled her close and merely said, "Seven, I'm so close." She knew that more was not needed. Now it was only left to see how Seven would take care of the problem. Apparently Seven opted for simplicity.

She took hold of B'Elanna's hands and placed them on her hips again and then leaned forward once more. "My love, now it is time for you to concentrate on your pleasure. I do not need another climax, but I would not at all object to you achieving yours in me. Fuck me, my love."

B'Elanna placed a kiss on Seven's shoulder. "I love you baby. You're the best thing that ever happened to me." Then she straightened and did what she had wanted to do for some time now. In one decisive shove she pushed the toy home, only to pull right back again. It was fast and forceful, and quick. Only one minute later she pushed home once more, and stayed inside as her orgasm washed over her.

They stood like that for a long moment before B'Elanna finally pulled out. She sent a command along her own neural link and the toy disappeared. They looked at each other for a moment before B'Elanna said with a grin, "Oh yeah, we got's to get us one of those."

Seven stepped closer and they embraced, sharing sweet kisses while letting their hands roam over their lover's body. Not to arouse, but simply to touch.

"I will never tire of loving you without the use of any toys," Seven said, making it very clear that the way they still made love most of the time was also the way they liked it the most. "But I have to admit that I am really glad that we did try toys. I still consider our Zamonan toy my most favorite toy, and I also like the other toys we have,"

"But this will gladly become our second most favorite toy," B'Elanna finished in agreement. "That was absolutely wonderful."

"Are you two about done?" Someone else asked, and they looked to their side to see their friends standing there.

B'Elanna had to admit that she had totally forgotten about them for a moment. She grinned. "Sorry about that. Maybe today wasn't the right time to test a new toy... but oh, what fun it was. Have you ever tried a sensitive model?"

Katzi shook her head. "No. As you know, I was Pagsha's first, so I know from that that she never tried it. As for me, well, you know how we Zamonan are about not using technology if not really needed. So on Zamona technology never entered the toy market. And I never thought about it here on Unimatrix 01; Pagsha and I have all the fun we need."

"That's what we thought too," B'Elanna reminded. "But only one try and both Seven and I want to have one of these for real. You should try it sometime." Then she grinned. "Preferably sometime when Seven and I can watch you."

Katzi looked at her lover who gave a shy smile and nodded. She looked back at their friends and nodded as well. "Well, it can't hurt to try. How about next time we are on the holodeck and are in the mood for some loving, my Little One and I give it a try."

"You should," B'Elanna repeated before asking, "I hope you kept yourself busy?"

"We did," A still fully nude Katzi assured. "When we saw that you two were going for a second round I had my Little One give me a private show."

"Pity we missed that," Seven stated.

By now all of them had masturbated while the others watched, but all of them had agreed that Pagsha's masturbating was the most erotic. Her natural shyness that she nevertheless conquered to perform for the others never failed to affect them. Then she sighed and with a command to the computer she changed the water in the lake to clear water that even had bathing soap in it. Sometimes a holodeck was a convenient thing. "We should leave. Let us take a quick bath before dressing; I think all of us need to clean up."

"You think?" B'Elanna asked as she quickly reached down and brushed her fingers over Seven's center and collected some of the wetness that was still there. As she licked her fingers clean, she headed off to the lake.

"I tell you one thing; you wouldn't want to go and wash up in the real lake on Zamona," Katzi said as she and the other two women started to follow B'Elanna.

"Why?" Seven asked. When she stayed at Zamona, Seven had loved the view but she had never entered the water. Then she realized that she also never saw any of the other women in the water.

"Snapping turtles," Katzi simply explained.

"Ouch," The other women said at the same time.


Chapter 50

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

Year 01, Month 05, Day 29, Hour 17, Minute 02.

"I mean, don't get me wrong, I love it as a designer; there's so much I can do here. But that's the point; we should do something here. It's just such a waste to leave it like this," ZAn said as he put his hands on the railing of the bridge he was standing on. He looked over it with a dramatic sigh before turning around and looking at the other people that were with him.

He, Seven, B'Elanna, Pagsha, and Katzi, had spent the last two hours looking at different places on Unimatrix 01 and discussing some of ZAn's ideas. ZAn had left the vast expanse, as he liked to call it, for last before they would meet up with some of the architects and designers that were by now working for ZAn. The changes on Unimatrix 01 had grown to the size that it was simply too much for one single person to coordinate. Because of this ZAn had set up a team of helpers and reluctantly handed off some of his tight control over the modification.

He made a show of looking around him. "To the left, the right, up, and down, in all four direction just empty space that goes on so far that you don't see the end; you just see the walls kinda melting into each other. The only other things you see close by are some of these bridges and the second wall over there, about thirty meters away. Such a waste of space. I could place literally hundreds of thousands of large family size living quarters in here alone. You know? The kind that has four bedrooms and two bathrooms? It's so far down that I could just jump off this bridge and I would simply float in the air because the artificial gravity plates are so far down that I would be outside their reach. And this is just one of these areas. There are many more. Maybe not all formed exactly like this, but all having pretty much just as much unused space. Now I know why the Borg were so willing to give you that huge room beside your living quarters to create the Royal Holodeck. Compared with all the rest of the room that's left, that holodeck is negligible."

"There is actually a reason for all this extra room," Seven assured. "Once the Borg assimilated the technology of having partitioned spaceships they started to use that technology. They liked the fact that a space ship could exist out of several parts so that even if one part is damaged in battle, that this part can be jettisoned and the other parts could still survive. The reason why you see nothing but bridges between these two parts is because this is actually a 'break line'. It is one of the places where, if ever needed, two parts of Unimatrix 01 can separate. It is however obviously a truly last resort situation because it is designed for separation more than docking. There is a great risk that trying to put the parts back together again will damage them. Therefore it is only something to be done when you know for sure that not doing it will result in more damage than doing it might result in."

ZAn looked at the area around him once more, only now seeing that the bridges were actually a lot thicker than needed for mere bridges. After all, as ZAn had just noted, the bridges were not subjected to gravitational pull; the artificial gravity that kept the group standing on the bridge was actually created by the gravity plates on top of the bridge.

"Ah, now I see. So these bridges also house the connectors that hold the parts of Unimatrix 01 together? Huge metal beams I guess, and this area between these two walls is so that these parts can disconnect without also causing damage wall to wall when separating. Still, I can work with this," ZAn assured after thinking about it for a moment.

"But why work with it anyway?" Katzi asked. "On the scale that is Unimatrix 01 only a little part has been changed. There are billions of Individualist drones in the Collective now, but not all of them live on Unimatrix 01. The biggest percentage of drones on this ship are still normal drones instead of Individualist. So why be interested in these places when there's still so much to change in the rest of the ship? Why change this?"

"Because we can," ZAn said with a huff while putting his hands on his hips and looking up to the woman who was towering over him. When Katzi took a breath to speak he waved her off.

"Just kidding hon. It's simple really. Yes, there's still a lot of Unimatrix 01 to change. But we've already set up plans for the main layout of the entire ship and now it's down to work sector for sector. At the moment my team has three sectors more planned than where we are with the actual restructuring. So, I have some time. I could go planning the next sector already, but I really want to give my team some rest... once this meeting we're going to is over. Their idea of relaxing is to do nothing for a time, have a little vacation. Maybe visit one of the Zamonan vacation planets. But, my way of relaxing is to design."

He stretched out his arms and turned in a circle once to indicate the vast expanse of room around them. "And playing with places like this will keep me happy for weeks! I'll be happy, my team gets a few weeks of rest from me driving them crazy with my perfectionist streak... everyone will be happy. And in a month the modifying of sectors has caught up with where we are with the planning and we can go on with fresh minds."

"I am open to suggestions for these spaces, as long as the use is done with safety in mind," Seven said to prompt ZAn to share what he was thinking of.

"Actually," Katzi spoke up, "If you are thinking of using these areas I would suggest that you leave one. Preferably one as large as this, but a little wider."

Katzi pointed from wall to wall to indicate the relative small space of thirty meters. "Then gravity plates could be mounted on one of the walls and the other wall would become the ceiling."

"But why?" ZAn asked, not at all pleased that Katzi was suggesting taking away some of his playing options.

"Training," Katzi started to explain.

"Oh, come on," ZAn interrupted as he moved closer to Katzi.

The tall woman only looked down on him and growled, making the lithe designer back up again.

"Um, right," ZAn said from the relative safety of a few steps away. "I mean, come on, Prime Holodeck 1 has already been reserved for trainings of any kind. That holodeck is even bigger than the Royal holodeck."

"Exactly, training of any kind," Katzi repeated. "At any time of the day that holodeck is used by different groups doing different things. While they can be separated by throwing up holographic walls, that doesn't stop the senses of the Siill warriors. Every single Siill is a telepath, and on top of that the Siill warriors can sense the body heat of anyone that's within a ten meter radius and that isn't coldblooded. Holographic walls don't stop that. A holodeck can make it look like two Siill warriors are ten kilometers apart, but they will feel that they are actually standing right besides each other. The only thing we know of that actually stops all their senses are Crachian crystals. Those crystals are easy to obtain, we can even grow them in the recently created Resource Department, and they are just as easily turned into a coating that can be sprayed onto walls. But none of the holodeck technology we have can create them in such a pure degree that they truly stop the Siill senses when they are only holographic creations. You need the real thing for that."

"From what you say I gather that you are thinking of having that large place reserved for training of the Siill warriors only," Seven surmised.

"Pretty much," Katzi agreed. "I was thinking of all telepaths that would need physical training. Crachian crystals seem to be a general mental blocker. As far as I know we don't have any telepathic species in the Collective that can get through them. But yes, I was mainly thinking of the Siill, and for training of groups where the Siill are somehow involved in the training. As I said, we could put the gravity plates covered with Crachian crystals on the side, turning the sides into a floor and a ceiling. That way the Siill warriors wouldn't sense anyone that is on the other side of those walls doing their normal thing on Unimatrix 01. They would be able to train in an environment where they don't have to ignore their senses because they are picking up people that aren't part of the training."

"That's a good point," B'Elanna agreed.

"I have to tell you, being a warrior myself," Katzi went on, "I wouldn't want to think about having to train with such a big part of me not being used. I mean, sure in certain situations it's actually good. They should also train situations in which their telepathic sense are of no use to them. But in general? It's like saying to me that I can train all I want, but from now on I can't use my sword anymore. Remember how much I hated it when I thought I had to give it up now that I was a Royal Guard? But no, you actually felt that it was good that I know how to use the sword, you encouraged me to keep my abilities up. Same for the Siill. Instead of learning to ignore their sense permanently they would be able to use those senses, to hone and train them even better. When you paired the Siill warriors up with the Zamonan you created the Advanced Tactical Security Details. While those Siill warriors do get a lot of knowledge they never had before when they regenerate, they still need to train to keep their stamina up, to hone their senses, to train without the use of Borg technology so that they are still at their best if the Borg technology fails for some reason. Besides, let's not forget, for the Siill warriors training is their life. They want to train; they don't want to sit back and wait for when they might be needed. With an area of this size you could give them all that."

"You have very valid points," Seven agreed. "The ATSDs are our elite units and if they are not on a mission their job is to train to be ready. To do so they should have access to a vast area where several teams can train at once without coming into their own senses range, or where several teams can practice coordinated actions. I believe that the area between sectors nine and ten would be best suited for this. It has actually more than two times as much room between the sections; one hundred meters. We could add holographic generators to the ceiling so that all kinds of environments can be created to train in. Their senses might tell them that nothing in the forest they are in is real, but the holographic trees will still obscure their normal vision, and will still prevent them from walking in a straight line."

"We could also set up a motorized system that moves walls around," B'Elanna suggested. "With the holodecks holographic walls separate the big holodecks in several parts so that different holo-programs can be run at the same time. With the training area we could instead have division walls from real wall plating that is covered with Crachian crystals. That way we can have the walls up so that more teams can train in separated areas without being able to sense the other teams, or we can lower the dividing walls to have a huge area that is used for coordinated training actions."

"I like that suggestion," Seven agreed. "ZAn, could you put someone from your team on that once they have had their vacation?"

ZAn sighed dramatically before relenting. "Fine, alright, so I can see that a training area is needed for the ATSDs. I'll take care of it myself when I'm going over those other areas anyway, assuming that I'll be going over those other areas of course."

"Thank you. You could get together with Anidan to look into a motorized wall system as B'Elanna suggested. I want it to be able to block Siill senses, yet be stable enough to withstand any kind of impact one could expect, within reason, during training."

"I'm sure we can come up with something," ZAn assured. "Maybe some thin plating that is covered by the Crachian crystals, and has a force field structure over it. That way the force field can be switched off and the thin plating can be rolled up; it's only hundred meters up after all. And about the other places?"

Seven thought about it for a moment. Though the pause was mostly to tweak her impatient friend a little instead of actually needing the time to think. "You said that you could work with the fact that these are actually 'break lines'. Tell me how you think you can do this and if I am satisfied with the answer, I will allow you to work with these places."

"Ah!" ZAn said happily. "It's so easy. I'm thinking of having a huge block build in here. Basically a set of quarters on the left, and a set of quarters on the right, with a corridor in the middle. Every so often there would be a turbolift, and then we simply fill up the place from down there to up there."

The 'there' and 'there' had been accompanied by ZAn first pointing over the rail and down, and then up. "With decks that have pretty much the same layout stacked on top of each other to fill the space. To keep in mind that this area is supposed to be something of an empty buffer so that the separate parts of the ship won't touch when drifting apart, I would suggest that these new quarters are set up as a crush structure. Meaning, good enough to live in, but certainly not as strong in structure as the other ship parts. So if the ship parts drift together in an area while drifting apart, these quarters will be crushed without the ship parts being damaged."

"People will just love that," B'Elanna said amused. "Who knows what they're doing at the moment they're beamed out because the separation sequence has started."

"I don't think that this will be much of a problem," Pagsha spoke up. "Separating the ship parts is a last resort action. By the time that happens we will be in a battle and everyone will be at battle stations. And even if not, I think that people will take any potential humiliation over drifting off into space unprotected when the ship parts separate. I think that ZAn has a point. These areas are a waste of space. Yes, they are part of an emergency system, but that system has never been used in all those thousands of years that Unimatrix 01 now exists. I think that quarters could easily be placed here. The chance of these quarters being destroyed when the ship parts separate from each other is about a million times smaller than the chance of quarters on any other Borg ship being destroyed in a battle."

"Very well, ZAn, you can proceed with your planning," Seven agreed.

ZAn looked around the area again, this time with a look that the others knew he always got when he was calculating things. "Thanks, I'll be having some fun with this."

Then he looked back at them. "Making an educated guess, I think we'll be creating room for about half a billion extra drones when all is said and done. Do you have the people to actually fill those extra quarters?" ZAn wondered.

"Seven and I were talking about adding more drones to Unimatrix 01 as it is," B'Elanna assured. "Before we started to change things on Unimatrix 01 the ship was designed to be populated with half a billion drones, and room to take on three times as many in case Unimatrix 01 had to be used to flee a superior force and start creating a new Collective somewhere else. But as you can see, a lot of room in Unimatrix 01 is not used, and I'm not only talking about areas like this. For instance, there are places that could easily be serviced with a Jefferies tube kind of construction, yet they created an extra full corridor for it. As you know from the sectors we already changed, when we're done redesigning and putting in structures we want, we actually have more room than before."

"How come?" Katzi asked, before adding a bit sheepishly. "Sorry, designing is really not my thing. So I don't normally listen to the stuff you talk about in such meetings unless certain key words register."

ZAn was the one to take that question. "Well, an uninformed person like yourself might say that quarters, and especially big work places like engineering locations, would take up more room than the original Borg design. After all, they didn't have rooms for people to live in but instead simply had regeneration alcoves lined along the walls in pretty cramped corridors. But looks can be deceiving. Yes, the Borg had a design where even a single corridor could be lined with a hundred alcoves. But we focus more on having bigger corridors, about double the size of an old Borg corridor. But because we have those big corridors we can actually remove six of the smaller ones for every big one we create. It seems that when Unimatrix 01 was changed to the layout we now know, the Borg believed in creating a lot of corridors that bring you directly from point A to point B instead of having the drones walk twenty meters extra to get to a main corridor. So while they did indeed have corridors filled with alcoves, they had a multitude of those corridors with no alcoves in it at all, which on top of that were rarely used. Some corridors were only used by one or maybe two drones in a week."

"So, you are actually creating more room by taking out corridors?" Katzi asked.

"Right," ZAn agreed. "Like I said; corridors to get directly from point A to point B. And as stated before, places where a Jefferies tube would be more than enough. Rearranging some conduits to where two or even three things can be reached from the same corridor or Jefferies tube instead of all having their own corridor."

"Seven estimates that by the time we're truly finished with Unimatrix 01, that we'll have quarters for four billion people," B'Elanna added. "Four and a half if you count this latest idea. We fully plan to actually take that many people onto Unimatrix 01."

"Why?" Katzi asked. "Just because you have the room doesn't mean you have to use it; as the previous Borg approach proved."

"True," Seven spoke up. "However, we plan for that influx of people to exist out of Individualist drones and for them we want to create a pleasant living environment. We want there to be enough people on the ship that there are always some people walking through the corridors to get to some place they are going to in their off duty time. We do not want people to walk through a corridor and get the feeling that they are on a proverbial ghost ship because they do not see anybody else. We also want people to actually use those public places we are creating, for people to actually enjoy that vast park that ZAn designed for sector 93 of deck 785. We believe that with a number between four and five billion people living in Unimatrix 01, that you will get the same feeling of being part of a group, as people get on a Federation Galaxy class space ship."

"Also, let us not forget that we actually need more people on Unimatrix 01 now," B'Elanna reminded. "Before a drone worked 48 hours before regenerating for 8 hours and then going back to work again. One can say that proverbially speaking they worked around the clock. Individualist drones only work one third of every day; 10 hours out of the standard 30 hour Borg day. So just to keep up the same level of work we would need to increase the number of drones to 1.5 billion. And since we're now adding recreational activities that need drones as well, like running restaurants, you can add at least another half billion for that. So once the transformation of Unimatrix 01 is complete we'll need a minimum of two billion drones on this ship. But we'll actually need more than that because we're also adding positions to the ship that the Borg didn't have before, like for instance the people that will work in Unimatrix Zero."

Katzi nodded her head to indicate that she understood. She had been present when Seven and B'Elanna had shown ZAn several Federation starships to indicate to him a general idea of a feel that they wanted for certain areas of the ship. The USS Voyager had been used as example for places that had to be relatively small, yet still very functional. Like the single person living quarters or the Jefferies tubes. Areas that took up quite some room on an Intrepid size space ship, but that could almost literally be tucked away in many of the unused corners of Unimatrix 01.

The USS Enterprise D had been used to indicate relatively bigger areas. The family size living quarters were a good example of that. As were the sick wards, of which one was to be created in every sector of newly designed Unimatrix 01. This so that people could visit those for small cuts and whatnot and therefore didn't have to visit the sickbays. That way those sickbays could then concentrate on the bigger tasks like replacing the old implants with new ones with drones that were brought into the Individualist drone status. The councilor's offices were also created according to Enterprise D designs. Just like the research areas and recreational areas like the, in comparison to the size of Unimatrix 01, small parks of which also one was to be created in every sector.

Of course, the Federation starships were not the only designs used for inspiration. Where designs from other species were more suited those had been used; like the overall area designs of species 3,675 that had been used as a base blueprint by ZAn because it had what was considered the perfect mix of facilities.

"I'll come up with something very suitable, and great looking," the designer assured confidently.

"And with that, I think it is time to move on to our meeting," Seven said, feeling that the discussion was over for now and that other design issues could wait until the meeting they were actually heading for. As they walked further over the bridge, they saw a group of five Siill warriors coming from the other side. Though they weren't actually speaking it was obvious that they were having a telepathic conversation, simply by the hand gestures they were making. As the warriors saw the other group they suddenly stopped and after a moment of more hand gestures one of them was being pushed, not so subtly, forward.

"My Queen," he said, knowing that Seven preferred verbal communication over telepathic.

Seven had to smile at the title. True, it was the title every Individualist drone used to address her, but still. Who would have ever guessed mere months before that Seven would be looking up at a Siill warrior who was clearly nervous and addressing her as 'my' Queen?

"Yes..." A moment went by where Seven compared the Siill warrior's face to a database. "...Kli'lo'? I am going to a meeting, so..."

"Of course, forgive me for interrupting you, my Queen," Kli'lo' said and started to move away slightly.

"I am not brushing you off," Seven said amused. "I do however have to be somewhere. Please walk with me, and once we have reached my destination, then I will brush you off."

"Yes, my Queen," Kli'lo' said, only belatedly realizing that Seven had been joking. "My Queen. My friends and I were talking. You honored us warriors by the positions we will be allowed to fulfill. Especially the Advanced Tactical Security Details. The warriors that have been selected for those teams are already seen as examples. Something to strive for; to become so good one is selected to be an ATSD member."

"Go ahead," Seven said as she pointed in the direction she had been walking before. At one and the same time telling Kli'lo' to continue with what he was saying, and walk with them to Seven's destination. A look behind her made sure that the rest of the group was following. She knew that they would, of course, but she also knew that by this simple check she was making it clear to them that she hadn't forgotten about them. It was a small thing, but she noticed that it made a lot of difference. A lot of small things did, and she wondered if Pagsha, who Seven had copied these small behavior details from, had any idea how big her part was in making Seven such an admired Queen. Seven decided that she would tell her sometime in the near future. Pagsha deserved to know.

"My Queen," Kli'lo' started, "I do not know if you realized this when regenerating, but just as we were divided over who wanted to leave Fluidic space and who not, we warriors are also divided over what we want as warriors. About half want to be ground troops, they would all love to become a member of an ATSD team. For others, like me, becoming an ATSD member would be a great honor, but it wouldn't be my ultimate goal. I'm a pilot, and if I had to choose between being an ATSD member, or being allowed to fly, I would choose flying."

"I did not know that," Seven admitted. "I guess that the Borg consider it irrelevant information because whether or not you want to actually be a ATSD team member is part of the scan. But if you do not want to be such a member, then the why not is irrelevant; the only relevant part would be that you would not be suited because it is not what you want. However, I do not see why this is important. There are plenty of opportunities for you to serve the Borg by being a pilot."

"Yes, my Queen, there are. But that would not compare to the honor one achieves if one is selected to become an ATSD member. I would be just a pilot; nothing that sets me apart from any other pilot with the exception of the fact that I happen to be a Siill warrior. My Queen, we warriors that love to fly would really like it if there was something we could strive for. Something that shows that if we are selected that we are the best, even amongst the other Siill warriors."

"Very ambitious," Seven said thoughtfully as she stopped by a door; clearly the destination she was heading for. However, since it was an interesting subject she waited with entering and the rest of the group waited along with them as if it was the most normal of things to have the Borg Queen, the Borg Princess, a First Officer, a Royal Guard, and a Chief Designer all standing around in a corridor talking to a Siill warrior.

"However, ambition often leads to a 'no matter what' mentality. If we were to create a certain prime position for Siill pilots then soon healthy rivalry will result in backstabbing and cheap tricks."

"Between Siill warriors?" Katzi asked in disbelief.

"Isn't ambition the root of the system we created?" Pagsha asked at almost the same time. She looked at her lover for a moment and when she saw that Katzi didn't add more to what she had said, Pagsha continued. "We deliberately added positions that are differently named so that people can strive to become that. So that becoming a Captain can be a life ambition. We make sure that individuals don't act in an improper way by scanning their minds and seeing if they have ulterior motives. Why should it be any different for Siill warriors? They are warriors from mere hours after birth. Let's give them the opportunity to strive to become an ATSD member, or a pilot of some team we still have to set up."

"Well," Katzi continued when her lover was finished talking. "I agree with my Mate. But I do think that there should be something that makes it even more special. This will, interesting enough, also address your concern about backstabbing. As you know, it was my life's ambition to become a Royal Guard. But you don't just become a Royal Guard by being good. As much training as I did, that was no guarantee that I would have become a Zamonan Royal Guard. Royal Guards are hand-picked, and while they have to pass certain training every year to continue to be a Royal Guard, you can say that once you are picked the position is yours until you either die, or become too old to pass the yearly training and test. I personally like that system. It clearly shows who 'are' the best warriors amongst us Zamonan, and not just who were the best at one time when being selected. You prove that you are the best year after year. But what I like just as much is that while we have tests to see if Royal Guards can stay Royal Guards, we actually don't have any tests to become a Royal Guard."

Katzi hesitated for a moment. "What I mean is, I couldn't go and sign up for becoming a Royal Guard. My name would have to be brought up through other ways. A trainer writing to a Regent, who writes to a District Regent, who writes to the Commander of the Royal Guards. I could not apply, so can you imagine how wonderful I would have felt when suddenly someone told me one day that I could become a Royal Guard if I wanted?"

She smiled. "Can you imagine how much you made my life, not just my day, but my life, when you allowed me to become a Royal Guard to the Borg Queen? There has been only one event in my entire life that was better than that moment."

Seven saw how Katzi had placed a hand on her Mate's shoulder and had a feeling that asking what that moment was would be a waste of words.

Meanwhile the Zamonan continued. "But from the other side, let's just say that I could have applied and was not picked. Can you imagine how it would have felt for me if I had applied to become a Royal Guard and every year I was turned down for some reason that nobody ever told me? I would have suffered a mental blow every year; 'apparently I'm not as good as I think I am; I've been rejected again'."

"A note of acceptation can feel as a reward all by itself, while a rejection can feel as a punishment," Seven said in understanding.

"Right," Katzi agreed. "Maybe a similar approach would be good here. The ATSD members were selected; they didn't apply. Yes, they were selected because it was a new program and people were needed for it 'now', but the fact remains that they were picked. Your Royal Guards were selected; they didn't apply... Well, I did, but I wasn't picked because I applied. I was picked because the Borg themselves thought that I would be a good choice. I would suggest that you leave it that way for those groups and create a similar privileged position for the Siill warriors that prefer to be pilots. Positions that you can never apply for, but can always be picked for... if you are good enough and there's room. It will give people something to dream about. Besides, if you have positions that people are selected to without actually applying for them, it will give a lot of people that aren't Siill an initiative as well."

"What do you mean?" B'Elanna asked.

"Well, it doesn't really matter which species they are, everyone has a chance to be picked as long as they are so good that they are at the top of the list. That means that someone that would normally never apply to be an ATSD member because they know that they would never be able to last in the trainings Siill warriors only consider warm-ups, can still try in a different way. They'll know that they won't be a match physically, but if for instance they are sooo good at, say, Engineering and creative thinking, that they might still be picked because such people are also needed in certain ATSD teams."

Katzi hesitated while thinking of an example. "I mean, take Maindi. She's only one and a half meters tall. Zamonan or not, she's not what would come to mind when thinking of an ATSD team member. Just think how that must have felt for her; to be one of the Zamonan picked to be an ATSD member. Even if people realistically think they can never be part of such a team, they can still dream about it, still fantasize about it. It will drive them to do even better in daily life, just because there really is that small chance that their dream will become reality."

She used the hand that she had placed on Pagsha's shoulder before to pull the Ghdibrian a little closer to her. "Can you imagine what a woman that is from my beloved Mate's species would feel like if she is contacted to let her know that she had been selected, and that if she wants that she can become an ATSD member? The honor and privilege would be immeasurable for such a person. That's stuff to dream about right there. And the best thing is that at the same time you don't have any hurt feelings since nobody could apply and therefore nobody was rejected. These privileged positions will always only be something to dream about, nothing more... until that day that you are selected."

"You included the Royal Guards in this list of privileged positions," Seven noted. "Do you feel that you are treated differently than if you were not a Royal Guard?"

"Absolutely," Katzi confirmed. "Just two days ago Pagsha and I went to our favorite restaurant to eat. It was busy, and I admit that I forgot to check if there was room. There was none. Yet when some people found out that Pagsha and I were about to be declined entry they gave up their table. Saying that they were done and they headed out before we could even decline, wishing us a pleasant dinner while heading out. That wasn't done because Pagsha is a First Officer. No, that was done because I'm a Royal Guard. One of only four people in the entire Collective, one of only four people between trillions whose sole task is it to keep the Royal Family safe."

Now Katzi smiled, "And because I'm the only person out of trillions that has the extreme honor of her on-duty task existing even on Unimatrix 01 of being close to the Queen even more than my Mate, your Personal Assistant, is. Pagsha sometimes has other things to do that take her away from you. But I'm at your side almost every minute of my on-duty time."

"And almost just as much of your off-duty time," Seven added, realizing how such a position would, at least by the Individualist drones, be seen as extremely privileged. "Do not let it go to your head though."

"I won't," Katzi assured with a grin. "The regenerating makes sure of that. Yes, I take much pride in the fact that I'm privileged with the task of being a Royal Guard, but whenever I regenerate I join the others. Then I'm just one of many, and I see that there are people that deserve admiration much more than I do. What is it that I do? Nothing, I just wait for that one time where I can place myself between you and a threat. But others like Doctor Lonika or Anidan, they deserve true admiration for they work miracles every single day."

Katzi indicated the Siill warrior that was patiently standing by. "That will be the same for him, if he is good enough to be picked as one of those pilots if you decide to have some special division for pilots. They will feel honored to be in such position, but with regenerating they still become one of many, they will realize just how much respect a simple counselor deserves for being able to bring a traumatized drone back into Individualist status."

"Well, since I'm not needed for this anymore, and since it's time, I think I'll go in and tell my team that you will be there in a moment," ZAn interrupted. He waited on approval of Seven and after she dipped her head he entered the room, leaving the corridor only a little less crowded.

"There's a difference between creating an ATSD team and having a team of pilots," B'Elanna noted. "An ATSD team exists out of 21 members, but is still one team, but 21 pilots with each having their own ship could be considered a fleet."

"True, if we indeed create such special positions then the distribution should be different," Seven said before turning to the Siill and asking, "Kli'lo', being a pilot yourself, do you have any suggestions?"

"My Queen, it just so happens that my friends and I were talking about that when we met you. My Princess is correct; a team of pilots is different than an ATSD team. An ATSD is one unit, while a single pilot and his ship is one unit as well. My Queen, over all we warriors are there for protection. It is what the Planner created us for; to be able to fight and protect. We would be greatly honored if we could do so."

"Protect," Seven said, singling out the key word. "So being a pilot of a cube for instance would not be what you want. You want to have a ship and be outside and protect that cube."

"Yes, my Queen."

"Bioships aren't that big in comparison to a Borg cube," B'Elanna noted. "Yet now that the Bioships have been upgraded with the new shields, a Bioship is actually more powerful than a cube. Wouldn't it be kinda interesting if every cube had an Auxiliary Fleet of one or two Bioships, more for bigger ships? That would give you that position to strive for. Not just be a pilot, no, to become a pilot that's honored with the position of being an Auxiliary Fleet pilot. Someone that's called upon to protect the cube they're stationed on. Someone that protects their direct home; the cube they live on."

"I hate to point this out, but cubes don't really need protection normally," Pagsha said. "The Siill were actually the last ones that posed a real threat to the Borg. Wouldn't it make more sense to have the bioships protect smaller ships or new settlements and colonies?"

"A valid point. But scale of numbers dictate that not every bioship would be used for Auxiliary Fleet service," Seven reminded. "Those remaining bioships can be used for what you suggested. However, the need for a powerful auxiliary fleet should not be underestimated. As powerful as a cube is, you know that we still lose some of them in wars sometimes. In those situations a bioship would be a great asset because simply by launching the bioship the cube would double its firepower. More than that, no matter how powerful a cube is, it can still only be in one location at one time. But if it had a bioship on board, it could launch the bioship and actually be in two locations at once."

"Good point, B'Elanna agreed. Then she frowned. "Well, just 'Auxiliary Fleet' doesn't really set them apart though. A simple supply ship can be part of the auxiliary fleet as well. Maybe... ah, keeping it simple, they could be called the 'Prime Auxiliary Fleet' instead."

"If they are the Prime Auxiliary Fleet, does that mean that they have to do a lot of training, my Princess?" Kli'lo' asked hesitantly.

B'Elanna looked up at the three meter tall warrior for a moment before grinning, knowing only too well why he was asking. "Oh, I would say so. I would even say that they would have to spent every minute of on-duty time in their ship, training. Unless the cube is traveling at transwarp of course. After all, such highly trained pilots need to train every day to stay at the peak of their abilities."

If it had been in her nature to do so, Seven would have rolled her eyes at that point. Instead she said, "There are over four million cubes in the Collective. One bioship per cube, and more for bigger ships, including Unimatrix 01, I believe that in total we would need about five million bioships for prime auxiliary fleet service. Do you think that this would be enough?"

"It would," Kli'lo' assured right away. "In fact, a very good number, my Queen. More and the specialty of it would diminish, less and it would seem impossible because the chances to be selected become too small."

B'Elanna smirked before asking, "I wonder how many ships the Borg will think is a good number for Unimatrix 01. After all, they also loved the ATSD idea and thought that fifty thousand teams would be just enough to cover Unimatrix 01."

"I can see their logic," Katzi grinned. "With their Queen traveling all over it's good to have a little something in reserve."

"You just like the fact that whenever I leave Unimatrix 01, one million highly trained Siill warriors and fifty thousand Zamonan Commanders are automatically put on standby," Seven accused.

"Sure," Katzi happily agreed. "Only the best Royal Guards realize that they should wish every day that they are never needed. Because that means that the first line of defense did its job. If the last line of defense, the Royal Guards, are ever needed, then someone else already messed up."

Seven looked at Katzi for a moment, but knew that the tall Zamonan had outmaneuvered her. "Nicely done," She finally admitted. Then she looked back at Kli'lo'. "The time has come for me to 'brush you off'. Your suggestion will be worked out further by us and put before the Hive for their opinion. I think they will like it because it will add to the cause of integrating the Siill in the Borg Collective. Thank you for your suggestion."

The Siill dipped his head a little while starting to move back. "My Queen, you honored me by listening to the ramblings of a mere warrior."

Seven stepped closer and reached up to touch his face. "Nobody in the Borg Collective is just a mere warrior. We all have our special abilities, but nobody is just a 'mere' person to me."

Startled, the Siill warrior looked at Seven for a few seconds before taking a step back again, saying 'my Queen' once more, and then turning around and leaving.

B'Elanna stepped up to Seven and put her arm around the blonde. "You're truly a remarkable person, my Mate. Even if the Borg didn't need a Queen and you weren't already theirs, they would beg you to become theirs because you care so much for every single person in the Collective. You may not know most of them, but they're still your people; your responsibility. The other Queens never saw the drones as their people, merely as their tools. You, my Queen, are one remarkable person."

"And you, my Princess, have a perfect knack for exaggeration. I think it is time that we attend the meeting."

"It's not good for the Borg Collective if their Queen is in denial," Pagsha merely said before entering the room with Katzi only a step behind, leaving Seven and B'Elanna to look at each other.

Then B'Elanna grinned. "I think, my dear, that our Assistant just told you off."

Part 51

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