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

By H.W.


Chapter 51

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

Year 01, Month 06, Day 01, Hour 13, Minute 08.

They were in the Royal Quarters sitting around the coffee table when B'Elanna asked slowly while in thought, "So what you're saying is that you think it would actually be better if we didn't take them? Instead we should use these other guys?"

"Right," Pagsha agreed. "I know that the strength and reliance of those others seems like something to worry about, after all, you wouldn't stand a chance against them one on one. But they are really slow. Once you manage to get around them you can keep ahead of them all the time. You can just keep running around killing off those others. Their power goes to you, and then in the end you are actually five times as strong and resilient as those slow pokes and you can easily kill them."

B'Elanna looked at the board and hummed. "Yeah, I can see your point. But then, why are those six even on the board?"

The Ghdibrian smiled and let herself drop back against the couch. She smiled again, this time at Katzi who had just handed her a drink before sitting down beside her Mate and looking at the board as well. "Thank you, Kupiaxoc."

Katzi merely caressed her lover's face for a moment.

Pagsha put her feet on the table much like Seven had. She took a moment to look at Vasha, who was lying curled up in Seven's lap and was sleeping like a little angel.

Looking back at B'Elanna she explained, "Because until now I was only explaining the basic way of playing the game to you. The way I explained it is how most novices on the street would have been able to play it. When first learning how to play Tacticus, most people normally rightfully ignore the Pillars. In fact, on those occasions it's often agreed to not even put them on the board."

"You can do that?" B'Elanna asked as she looked at the board that existed out of 900 squares, arranged 30 by 30, and that held 210 pieces on either side. Most of which took up only one square. But fourteen on either side took up two squares, and the six Pillars did justice to their name and took up four squares, in a 2 by 2 fashion.

"Sure. That's why I suggested this game. There are clear and strict rules on how to play with what pieces. But the fun part is that part of the game exists out of 'negotiating' beforehand what kind of pieces will be put on the board. There is actually a lot of negotiating with this game; all before the start, and none after the first move. Only the General and the Ruler are mandatory, for the rest you can negotiate about units. You can even negotiate about the amount of units of a certain kind. Or someone that really loves using, say, the pillars, can agree with someone that this other player can use a unit kind they really like if the first player is allowed to use the pillars. Oh, and it's mandatory that each side has the same amount of units. So if one side picks the pillars that might mean that the other side can pick another unit kind, but only six of them to match numbers. But, if both sides agree to use a same kind of unit, then both sides have to use the same amount of them. Not necessarily all of them, but the same amount on either side. All if this makes it possible for the game to basically be a totally different game every time you play it, and it also helps in deciding how long the game will last."

Pagsha put her feet down again and leaned forward to indicate a little group on her side of the board. "If we want a fast game we can decide to only play with these guys here."

"And just how serious is that negotiating?" B'Elanna asked. "Is it a 'sure we can do that' affair, or is it a 'let me put my knife on the table' kind of affair?"

Pagsha smiled. "Well, it all depends on how seriously you are playing. Just between friends that want some fun it will be more of a 'how about we leave those and those off' or a 'why don't we play a quick game with only the first level pawns'. Um, that's something that plays a part in the game as far as strength of the units is concerned. But it also helps in the negotiating. The levels makes that easy. The full board like this would be an all level game. So I might say to you, 'want to play an all level game of Tacticus?' Or more commonly, though not an official term in the game was to say 'want to play a full board of Tacticus'? And you might reply by saying, 'eh, let's only use the first three levels. I'm not in the mood for a long game'. But for the professional players... well, sometimes the negotiating can actually take longer than the game itself. There was one occasion about thirty years before I was born where the negotiating actually lasted a full week. Not every minute of the day of course."

"A week?" Katzi asked in disbelief.

"Yeah. That's why I suggested this game. Um, not for the negotiating itself, but because it's so versatile. You can leave certain kind of pawns off and you will have a totally different game than you would if you had left others off. If you want a quick game you can play with only a small portion of the pawns. And if you want to make it even faster yet you can even agree to play only on a smaller part of the board, indicated by those thin colored lines between the small squares. See how it enables you to also play on a 20 by 20 board, and even on a 10 by 10 board."

"Sounds confusing," B'Elanna admitted.

"Only because I'm explaining the base elements all at once which make it sound like one huge and confusing game," Pagsha assured. "The thing to keep in mind is that while the game is very flexible like that, it still has clear rules. If you decide not to use the Pillars, then by definition the Defenders are the strongest units in the game. And so on. Plus another fun part is that you can play it with two people, or with four. If you play with four then you still have two sides; two playing two. But part of the fun there is that each player can only play with certain units. One player of one side, say Katzi, is in command of the Ruler, and the troops that then fall to the ruler. And I would then be in command of the General and the troops that fall to the General. That's why there are actually four colors. If there are only two players then you are in control of both colors on your side."

"You said that this was a turn based game," B'Elanna said. "So that would be one turn each, right? So that would mean that one side gets two turns, and then the other side?"

"Close, but no," Pagsha partially agreed. "When Katzi and I are playing you two for instance then your side gets a turn, then our side, then the second player of your side, then the second player of our side. But those turns have to always be in sequence. The player in command of the Ruler always goes first. Now, our combined goal is clearly to beat the other side, you two. To do so we can communicate. So I can suggest to her that she keeps a certain unit kind to the back because it helps my play. We can talk strategy as we go along. Which you would hear. But then again, maybe we agreed secretly before playing the game that we would talk certain strategies to confuse you. Or we might have secret signs. We might even communicate silently over PADD. All part of the game."

Pagsha hesitated for a moment while frowning. "Um, I guess that with the Borg an adaption of the rule would be that we can also communicate secretly over Borg link if we want to talk real strategy. Anyway, in a lot of ways this game borrows from real wars. Miscommunication is part of a war. You might overhear communications of the enemy, but is it real or are they trying to fool you? You might also not hear communications because the frequency is coded, or even hidden. So keeping strategies secret, or talking openly about it because you want the enemy to react to those moves instead of making their own strategies... all part of the game."

After having explained that, she admitted, "But for recreational use between friends it's generally played by simply whispering to each other. I would ask Katzi to keep those units back, or help those other units. Which she might or might not do."

"Zamonan don't whisper," Katzi reminded.

"It's just a game love," Pagsha reminded on turn. "Plus I'm just explaining how it was normally played. If we are sitting like we are now whispering wouldn't be of use anyway if the others want to hear; we all have enhanced hearing."

"Good point," Katzi admitted. "I guess that small details like that would be adapted the first couple of games. After all, we also have the enhancements that make it possible for all of us to remember every single move made in the game."

"Right," Pagsha agreed as she looked back at the board. "Now, just because I ask Katzi to keep certain units back doesn't mean it's certain. I might need her to save some units of mine, but it might be that she can't do that because she can't risk sacrificing her units because she needs them in a trap. And more importantly, each move she uses to help me means one move less she can use to aid in her own play. After all, some units like the pillars might be able to beat almost all others, but it still only gets one move at a time. And also only one removal... that's what we call if you take out a pawn of an enemy... at a time. I might be sitting in this enemy's nest where I could kill ten units that can't get away. But I can only do it one move at a time. So, what to do? Use my moves to take out some not so important opponent units, or use my moves to help Katzi's embattled important pawn? A truly skilled player, or team of players will be able to play the game to steer the other side so that the Ruler and the General of the other side are basically fighting each other."

"And can they do that literally?" Seven asked.

"Sure," Pagsha said. "For instance, I can have this perfect trap in mind. Katzi doesn't know that though. She has just moved some of her pawns into my trap. So I sacrifice her pawns by attacking them before they force me to spring the actual trap and thereby showing it to the other side."

"To come back to the Pillars, you have still not explained why someone would prefer to actually leave them on the board," Seven pointed out.

"Ah, right. Well, that's because the Pillars are very hard to play, but if you mastered their use they can actually win the game for you. You see, a Pillar can only move two squares at a time; basically only their own size. But like I said, the entire game exists out of one move at a time. Sure, a pawn may move more squares in that one move, but it is still only one move and then it's the opponent's turn. Let's take the Scout. It can move up to ten squares in one go, if you want. But once you moved it, your turn is over. Alright, so you just moved a unit a big part of the board, but it might also just have been a wasted move because the Scout is the weakest pawn in the game and it can be beaten by all the others. This also means that you have to make sure that you don't place it in striking distance of any other enemy pawn."

"Right," Katzi agreed. "That's the one big fault I saw right away when you explained the unit to us." When the others all looked at her, she explained. "On Zamona we have a profession that you could call messengers. Not really scouts, but it comes close enough. We have communicators of course. But just like with the rest of advanced technology, they are only to be used if it's really important. But not to put in an order for some extra iron or something like that. Things like that are done on PADDs that are then taken to other villages by these messengers. But they always needed to be escorted by warriors because the messengers were trained in things other than fighting."

"You used PADDs?" B'Elanna asked surprised. "Um, on the planet I mean. I know you used them on the ships. Isn't that also advanced technology?"

Katzi nodded. "Yes. It's one of the few technological concessions, just like the concession of using the replicators to create meat. Writing and reading a letter is all nice and good. But written words simply don't compare. For a mother to read that her daughter found a Mate simply doesn't compare to seeing a PADD in which that daughter is smiling because she's so happy and then actually introduces the new Mate. It also improves communication. Recording a PADD is easy. Something you can do in the evening when you have nothing to do. But writing a letter is also easy... easy to put off until tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. The only conditions are that treaties and final deals and such should be on paper, and the PADDs have to de delivered just like the letters are."

Katzi looked at her Mate. "Sorry for the interruption. Please continue."

Pagsha leaned in and stole a quick kiss. "Eh, I think if I explain it more like that it will only become confusing. It's a pity that the Borg found this game irrelevant and all rules and conditions were destroyed. How about I write down the rules as far as I remember them, and also the strength and weaknesses of all pawns? Then we can give it another go in a couple of days. The only reason I created the board now and showed it was to see if you all would be interested in playing it."

Katzi merely nodded.

"Sounds interesting to me," B'Elanna said. "I really like the fact that you can play it in so many ways. It should give us something to do on those evenings that we don't want to go to the holodeck again."

"Or we can combine both," Seven countered. "We can play it while sitting on the porch. The board and pawns could be holographic and the game would be stored in the buffer if we call it a night. That way we can play full board games while not having to sacrifice whole days at once for it."

"Good idea," B'Elanna approved. There was a long moment of comfortable silence before B'Elanna suddenly sat forward. "Alright, just to learn some. Why don't you tell me when I make an illegal, or stupid, move?"

"Sure," Pagsha happily agreed. "Anyone else want to join?"

"I'll watch," Katzi declined.

"And I seem to be incapable of moving," Seven added while softly caressing Vasha so not to wake her.

"I can move the pawns for you," B'Elanna offered.

Seven smiled. "Thank you, but no. I was merely using my daughter as an excuse for being lazy and not wanting to think too much. I will observe as well."

"No specific opening move?" B'Elanna asked Pagsha.

"No. Well, first it's decided which side starts by flipping a coin or something else that gives a 50/50 chance. But you go ahead. Once we are playing you'll see that a lot of rules become clear if you think of conventional warfare. There is no mandatory first move. You might decide on a swift attack, or a strong defense. As said before, you can 'remove' your own pawns if they are in your way, but obviously that's not something you prefer doing. Plus the pawn goes to your opponent to be added to the 'win' tray. Which, as I said, adds to the strength of the Ruler and General. But sometimes you might need to remove your own units because they are in the way and you won't want to waste turns by rearranging them."

"Alright." B'Elanna moved one of the Scouts, which was a Humanoid on a horse, its maximum reach of ten squares.

Pagsha moved one of the Defenders.

"Why did you do that?" B'Elanna asked.

The Ghdibrian smiled. "Well, since we are only playing to learn, I'll actually answer that. So early in the game no play is truly set yet. So what I want to do is make you think things. I don't really have a use for moving the Defender there, but now you can't but wonder what kind of strategy I have that involves the Defenders. I don't, but you are already put on the wrong foot."

"Ah," B'Elanna merely said. They exchanged several moves in silence, with the exception of Pagsha pointing out once that moving a unit would open a possibility to take out the weaker unit behind it by the enemy pawn that was in reach.

"So," Pagsha said casually while looking at Seven. "Tomorrow is the first performance of Unimatrix 01's first ever orchestra. Are you planning to attend?"

"Do you think I should?" Seven countered. "I did not get an invitation."

Pagsha chuckled. "Seven, you are the Queen. People don't invite you, not because they don't want you there, but because they think that they are not worthy of you being there. They don't dare to assume that you might take time out of your busy schedule to come watch some amateurs fool around."

Seven frowned. "I, B'Elanna and I have opened several establishments. We have eaten ceremonial first dinners at restaurants, we have toured newly designed decks. B'Elanna even gave her last name to the biggest park of Unimatrix 01."

"After she showed how much she was impressed by the park and someone overheard her joke to you about naming it the Torres park," Pagsha countered. "Seven, you may be a normal person for people like us, for friends, but you 'are' the Queen. Yes, you sometimes join the Hive and become just one of many voices. But even there you are treated special unless you specifically state that you merely want to sink into the lower levels of the Hive. No matter what subject, people will be honored if the Queen comes to an opening, or in this case a first performance. But most of the times they won't send you an invite because they don't want to bother you. They think that, yes, for them it's a huge and important thing. But it's still only a group of amateurs playing some instruments. Surely that's not worth taking away some of the limited time of the Queen."

"They are hardly amateurs," Seven countered, the others knowing only too well that Seven was not reacting to the rest of the statement because she was still thinking about it. "They were some of the best on their planets."

"That's not how they see it," Pagsha disagreed, absently countering one of the moves B'Elanna had made on the board. "I mean, yes, they have enough of an ego to know that once they were the best. It's normal. Anidan has a huge ego as well, simply because she knows she is the best. These musicians deserve that ego as well. But the thing is that it has been years since they were assimilated. For some of them it was a couple of decades. They need to first change that ego back from knowing that they 'were' the best to knowing that they 'are' the best. They would never dare to assume at this point that they are good enough to perform for the Queen."

"But if I were to visit them on my own accord, this would be a whole different matter," Seven said in understanding.

"If you ask me you should attend a lot more things like that," Pagsha continued after another move on the board. "It has a lot of benefits. First of all it would aid in your goal to not be a Queen that separates herself from her people. Yes, joining the Hive helps there a lot. But still, just imagine the honor people get when you walk into their performance, or eat at their restaurant and then compliment the chef on their great creation. It would also be a lot like what we talked about not long ago. About people not being able to apply for a job in the ATSD teams, or the Primary Auxiliary Fleet, or the Royal Guards. People won't invite the Queen, not because they don't want you there, but because they think they are not worthy of the honor. So you will honor them all the more by actually going there. Just imagine being those musicians. Just imagine someone coming to tell you that the Queen is in the audience."

"They would crap their pants?" B'Elanna asked amused.

Pagsha stuck her tongue out at her friend. "And just for that, there goes your General."

"Hey," B'Elanna exclaimed while looking at how Pagsha's own General now stood in the spot where B'Elanna's General had stood. "How did you do that?"

"A rule I hadn't told you yet. It's one of the special abilities of the General. Where the Ruler can take the place of every friendly unit on the board, the General gets power with every pawn it removes, as long as it's your turn. If I take out one pawn, I can now move two squares for my next attack if a unit is in that reach. If I manage that, I can move three squares." Pagsha put her finger on one pawn. "One." She took away the pawn and went to a second unit, two squares away. "Two, three, four,"

"Hey, that's one of your own," B'Elanna objected.

"I know. I told you that you can do that. Real wars remember. Don't generals sometimes sacrifice units to be able to attack the enemy? By sacrificing this one pawn of mine, I can now move on to this one of you, and then this, and this, and I reached your General. So by sacrificing one single pawn of mine I was able to take out several of yours, not the least of which is your second most important unit in the game. In fact, if you and Seven were both playing me, the one that plays the General would be out of the game. All of those units would fall to the player that has the Ruler. And on top of that, because my side still has the Ruler and the General we now get two turns for every one turn of you. Oh, but you are still in the game as far as being allowed to talk strategy with your partner."

"But with me only being able to play half of the time, I pretty much already lost," B'Elanna objected.

"Not really. It just means that it's harder. After all, all the other units are still on the board. It just means that Seven would have to take extra care to keep the Ruler safe. But, since we are only playing with two people you still have the same amount of moves as me. Oh, and obviously, I would only make a move like that if I'm sure that you can't take my General in turn. Because once my turn is over my General is only capable of moving one square at a time again."

"So I might be able to capture it in my lines by moving my defenders from here to here?"

"That would be worth a try," Pagsha agreed.

The game continued in relative silence, so Seven felt that it was a good time to bring up what she had wanted to tell Pagsha for some time now. "Pagsha. I want to thank you for your suggestion. More to the point, I want to thank you for your suggestions; multitude. Not just now, but in general. You are a huge part in my reign. A part I could no longer do without."

Pagsha merely looked at her with so much surprise that it could almost be called shock. So Seven continued. "While I also mean your advice on subjects having to do with changes made to the Borg, I am talking more about things that seem smaller, yet are much more important in the long run. Do you know just how many things I have copied from you? I saw you always touching the Siill you interact with, just for a moment. I did not understand why and researched it. Now I do the same, and the Siill admire me for it. You are the one that suggests which events I should attend, you are the one that taught me that knowing about the behavior of a species does not compare to actually showing them that you understand and respect their ways."

"I, um, buh, well, um, I really don't know what to say," Pagsha admitted.

"You do not have to say anything," Seven assured. "I just felt that you should know how much I appreciate all the help you give me. I have a feeling that I do not tell you often enough how glad I am for your help, how big a part you play in my reign. The Borg do not realize just how many potential Queens they have in their midst. They would not have to look far."

Pagsha got up and moved to hug her friend, making sure not to wake Vasha. She placed a kiss on Seven's cheek. "You are so sweet. But you are also very wrong." She moved back to her seat beside her lover. "It's so very easy to do the fun things. It's so very easy to touch a Siill to show appreciation. But it takes an incredible person to give the other orders and not go insane."

To kill hundreds of thousands of people and still be able to sleep at night. Nobody had said the words, but they still were clearly thought by all of them.

Seven smiled. "You would be amazed at how much one is capable of doing if one has the right people to lean on when things are hard. You, my friend, are one of those people I lean on and I do not even want to think about not having you around to show me how to interact with my people."

"Alright, enough of the mushy stuff," B'Elanna spoke up with a fake growl. "Pagsha, how about we start anew? It seems that I basically lost already as it is."

After a last smile at Seven, Pagsha carefully took the board and slowly turned it until her side was were B'Elanna was sitting. "Looks can be deceiving. Here, you play with mine and I'll play with yours. And I'll show you that with this game a disadvantage doesn't mean you can't but lose."

"I play with yours and you play with mine?" B'Elanna repeated with a wink. "Cool. You want to shoo Katzi off the couch so that we have more room?"

Pagsha's face quickly turned red by a healthy blush.

"Oh, I'll move," the Zamonan said easily. "Long enough for me to get my sword and cut you into little pieces that is."

B'Elanna grinned and lifted her hands. "In that case I'll just stick to playing with Pagsha's game pieces."

"Good, because my Little One is all mine."

Now B'Elanna laughed. "I know, but she blushes so cutely."

Katzi grinned. "Well, alright, you have a point there."

In the meantime, Pagsha covered her face with her hands, trying to hide her, according to lover and friends, really cute blush.


Chapter 52

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

Year 01, Month 07, Day 16, Hour 17, Minute 42.

"Don't block; deflect," Katzi repeated. They started to circle each other again and the Zamonan lazily twirled the two sticks she was holding. She moved, delivered two stinging blows to her opponent, and was kind enough to stop with that for the moment. "Don't block; deflect."

B'Elanna growled, using one hand to rub her hurting shin while using her other hand to rub the hurting shoulder of the arm that was rubbing the shin. "Well what the hell do you expect, you have weapons, I don't," She said in frustration, knowing damn well that coming from her it sounded like a whine. "There, and now you have me whining as well."

Katzi merely shrugged, not al all sympathetic. "You are the one that always wants to see how you do against me without training when we try something new. Frankly my dear, you suck."

"Bite me," B'Elanna shot back.

Katzi nodded. "Alright." Before B'Elanna knew what was happening, the tall woman had used one of the sticks to wipe out the Klingon's legs and thrown herself on B'Elanna. "Wely want e to wite?" Katzi mumbled with the tip of B'Elanna's nose captured firmly between teeth.

Before B'Elanna could react, Katzi moved up again and helped her friend to her feet. She made an exaggerated spitting gesture. "Pheh, now I have to wash my mouth."

She walked over to Pagsha who had a drink of water ready and waiting. "Thanks love." Then she turned to the Klingon and explained, "As I told you; your body is a weapon; all of it. Teeth can do a lot of damage as well. Never forget that. Be it that you do the damage, or that your opponent tries to bite you."

As B'Elanna joined them, Seven handed her a drink as well. "Thanks love," she said as well, only belatedly realizing that Katzi had just said the same to her Mate. She wondered just who had copied that from whom. Or if at all. After all, it was not like it was an uncommon phrase. No, the four of them were using phrases all the time that only one of them had used in the beginning. Then she shrugged. As much time as they spent together it was bound to happen.

"Tell me the difference between block and deflect?" Katzi asked.

"In this situation?" B'Elanna asked. "I'd say that blocking is stopping your attack, and deflecting is repelling it. Which leaves your opponent an opening to try again."

Katzi nodded. "I guess that explains your mistake. That and the fact that you are used to fighting equal. If you have a weapon, the enemy does. If the enemy is barehanded, you are as well. Your actions just now were right if you are facing someone with bladed weapons, and you have those as well. Then you want to block, say a sword with a sword, to prevent those blades from slipping and cutting something else. Hold out your arm."

B'Elanna did so, trusting her friend completely.

Katzi took one of the sticks, put it against the outstretched arm and pushed. "Feel the pressure? That's you blocking. Blocking means that you absorb one hundred percent of the force. It now becomes a question of what breaks first; your arm or the stick. With your enhanced skeleton the stick will break first. But, my friend, you have soft tissue around that metal covered bone. If I hit you like this hard enough to break the stick then your muscles will be damaged as well. Forget about that crap of being able to break sticks on arms and all that; that's years of practice. You don't have that time. Plus those are normally sticks that would probably break after a blow or two anyway. But these here are made of wood that is especially selected for use in stick weapons, they don't break easily."

Katzi took hold of B'Elanna's arm and bent it a little. "Now I'm going to use the same amount of pressure."

Katzi did exactly the same as before, but this time the stick started to slide off the bended arm before she could apply much pressure. "See what happens? Your arm can now protect your body without being damaged. But see what else happens?"

"You're off balance," B'Elanna noticed. Katzi had continued her slow motion movement to where the stick was off the arm and she was leaning forward because the stopping block never came. "You have one foot in the air even."

"Which means that with only a simple leg sweep I'm down," Katzi agreed while straightening up again. "Weapons are all fine. And you do well in our mismatched weapons training. Just how big is the chance that you will have the same weapon as your enemy? But don't ignore the most obvious of them all. These happen to be fighting sticks, but sticks to use in an attack are easy to come by. Sticks normally used in table games like that pool you like so much, a broken table leg, a fallen branch. You name them. The chance that you meet someone armed with that is a lot bigger then someone having a weapon."

She frowned for a moment before admitting, "Normally. With you being Princess of Borg most people you meet will be smart enough to not come at you with a stick."

"But I need to know what to do when they do," B'Elanna said. "Just in case. Don't block; deflect. Right, I think I got it."

Katzi grinned. "Good, so you want to try some more? Of have you seen how much you stink and want to start the real training?"


The four of them looked to the new voice on the Royal Holodeck and saw Anidan and Si'zaG.

"Um, we were finished a bit early and figured that we might as well come by now," Anidan explained. "Are we interrupting? Zizirk told us you were here and that we could walk in."

Seven checked the time. "You are eighteen minutes early, which actually means that we are behind since we should be relaxing now after training. No you are not interrupting. But would you mind waiting until we are done? B'Elanna likes to have closure to her training."

"Not at all," Anidan assured. "It's not like that program is going to run away. What was it again? The extremely complicated technology of... fishing?"

"We'll see, oh ye who never caught a fish in her life," B'Elanna said with a grin before focusing on Katzi. "Look, I really do get where you're coming from. But, I don't know. It just doesn't seem fair."

"B'Elanna, this is not some Klingon honorable battle for glory, name, and the very important matter of turning your partner on so much that you get laid that day, or maybe even finding a new partner. What I teach you is only there for one thing. To keep you alive. This so that you can keep your family alive. Honor does not exist, fair does not exist, grace does not exist. Observe."

Katzi stepped away a little before sending the command for the holodeck to activate 'the giant', as B'Elanna had so jokingly called the hologram the first time she saw it. By now it was nothing to laugh about anymore, but merely another training tool. The giant was a huge holographic woman created to compare to Katzi as Katzi did to B'Elanna. Huge, broad, and strong.

The giant had sticks like Katzi had before and was twirling them just like Katzi had done before. But it didn't attack because the command was not yet given.

"The thing about sticks is," Katzi explained, "That they work great at some distance. But you have to be a real master in their use to be able to also use them in close combat. Most people aren't, and you should try to make use of that."

The Giant took the ready position and nodded to the unarmed Katzi who had given her own sticks to her Mate to hold. Katzi made a fake move that made the Giant counter with an attack. Once the swing of the sticks was committed, Katzi suddenly took a step closer and kicked the Giant between the legs as hard as she could. The Giant, who had been programmed to simulate real behavior, sank to her knees and let out a high pitched squeal while clutching her groin and then simply keeled over to the side before disappearing.

B'Elanna cringed in sympathy for the hologram. "Ouch. That's such a well-known weak spot for men that most people forget that it works with women as well. Women just have a little less of a target there. But with a kick like that all between the legs is a target."

"Fair does not exist," Katzi repeated. "Use all weaknesses; including the ones that most people tend to forget."

"That won't work with a Siill," Si'zaG noted. "No matter what sex our body type."

"It won't?" Anidan asked, who had first hand experience, literally first hand, that at least for the Siill maintainers the sexual organs were in the same place as the other women in the holodeck. Plus that she was very sensitive there. She scowled and said mentally, 'There, now you got me all turned on again by thinking how wonderfully sensitive you are.'

'One more for the list?' Si'zaG asked with a laugh. Their friends weren't surprised by that. By now they were well used to Anidan or Si'zaG suddenly laughing, knew that the two women talked just as much telepathically as verbally. And more than likely had two different conversations going on at any time they were talking out loud.

Anidan grinned. 'No, that one is already high on the list.'

Aloud Si'zaG answered her Mate's question. "No. Well, we'll feel it just like another kick anywhere else against the body. But if we are not turned on at the moment our sexual organs are not more or less sensitive as other parts of the body.

Now Anidan looked smug and Si'zaG added mentally, 'Yes dear, you have only ever seen me turned on when you check how sensitive I am. Just because I am able to control it better than you, doesn't mean that I'm not as affected by you as you are by me.'

"So what would be the weak spot with Siill?" Katzi asked, a glance to B'Elanna told her that they both agreed that the training was over for that day.

Si'zaG shrugged. "That's what makes us such bad enemies to have. Sure we can get killed, but we don't have glaring obvious easy weak spots like you. There are the things you expect. A hard blow to the head, going for the eyes, stuff like that." Then she smiled. "A honey covered Engineer, that's my personal weak spot though."

All eyes turned to Anidan, who blushed before mumbling. "We got creative last night."

They laughed before B'Elanna decided that it was time to start with the recreational fun for that day. Plus she didn't want anyone to get the smart idea and ask if Anidan was the only Engineer that had ever been covered in honey. "So Si'zaG, ready to go fishing?"

"The concept has been explained to me, and I will see if I find it fun, but I have my reservations."

"Why?" B'Elanna asked surprised.

"Oh, I don't know. A creature swimming in liquid, just minding its business and then suddenly yanked out and at the mercy of the person that did the yanking? I might feel more related to the fish than the person doing the pulling. After all, I used to move through a liquid my entire life before coming here."

"Um," was all B'Elanna could say, not at all having thought of that comparison.

Anidan, knowing that her wife was teasing, mostly, decided to come to the rescue. "Well, I have never done it before, but we are on the holodeck here, so they are not real. Compare it to playing tag when you were a kid."

"With a hook?" Si'zaG asked in disbelief.

"Tag Klingon style," Katzi deadpanned.

The boat rocked slowly on the waves. They had captured a few holographic fish by now. This was not guaranteed to happen because both B'Elanna and Katzi had decided that even though the fish weren't real, they should have a fair chance. So the fish in the holographic ocean were programmed to have normal behavior for the planet the ocean could be found on for real. Which happened to be Zamona. Just on the horizon the coast could still be seen, giving them that great mix of feeing out in the open, yet still not lost.

"This is fun," Si'zaG finally said after having taken until that point to make up her mind. It helped that holographic or not, they were throwing the captured fish back to swim another day.

"Just hope that you don't get a bite and that a Yilak decides to eat that fish before you get it on board. Trust me, you don't want one of those on your line," Katzi happily informed.

"Yilak?" B'Elanna repealed.

"About as long as this boat. The only fish that goes after the sharks we have."

"You are making that up," Pagsha accused, looking at her line with a worried look.

Her Mate grinned. "Love, we are talking Zamona here, do you really think I would need to make something like that up? Don't worry, we do have the safeties on; you won't get eaten."

"Um," B'Elanna said slowly, "When we were still on Voyager and we came by Zamona then, we actually swam in the ocean there. We set up a sonic fence, but..."

"Oh, that only pisses a Yilak off," Katzi said happily. Then she relented. "The Yilak doesn't like coming close to shore so you were pretty safe back then from hunting fish. Sharks sometimes bite, but that's when they mistake a human for a prey animal. They normally don't go for Humanoids. So on Zamona swimming in any ocean is relatively safe. Of course, you do have the occasional poisonous fish and water snake, but we have remedies for that. But here now, we are just far enough for the Yilak to come to us and see if we are worth nibbling if one is around."

Talk was momentarily interrupted when B'Elanna caught another fish. A fighter, Katzi informed. Lousy to eat, unless you were fond of puking, but great to catch because they put up a good fight. When B'Elanna eventually put the fish back after having won her glorious battle with a creature of the deep, as she put it, Si'zaG noted that the bruises that had been on the Klingon's arms from her training had almost disappeared completely already.

"Those nanoprobes do come in handy for you people sometimes."

"Us people?" B'Elanna repeated. "You almost make that sound like an insult."

Si'zaG dipped her head in apology. "You are right; old habit. I love my life here and don't want to go back to fluidic space with the exception of the occasional family visit. But for generations now we knew that others were 'out there.' So it was 'us' and 'those people'."

"I'm surprised that the Siill actually considered us people," Pagsha noted.

"Oh, you were people alright," Si'zaG assured. "After all, animals don't deserve total eradication. It was the actions of people that made the Siill decide that all outside fluidic space had to be destroyed. An animal just gets mad and hurts you then and there. But people are beings that run away and then plan in silence how they can come back to hurt not just you but your friends and family as well. No, you were people alright."

"Well I for one love my nanoprobes," B'Elanna admitted, deciding that there was no use in dwelling on the Siill's original plans for the Universe. "I needed some time to get used to them, but now if you ask me which Borg enhancement I would keep if I was only allowed one, it would be the nanoprobes. I love all they do for me, and all that they will do for me."

"I still think that you would look beautiful when old and gray," Seven persisted.

"Did I miss something here?" Si'zaG asked.

"It is part of an old discussion where you were not present," Seven explained. "It was shortly after B'Elanna received her implants and Pagsha and I pointed out to my love that she was not seeing the obvious. She knew that one of the tasks of nanoprobes was to keep the body in a good and healthy state."

"Yes?" Si'zaG asked, realizing that Seven had worded her statement in such a way to see if the Siill would see what B'Elanna had not; she didn't.

After a small smile, Seven continued. "This means that nanoprobes will also not allow the signs of aging to occur. Vision will not diminish, old age sicknesses will not happen, skin will not wrinkle,"

"Boobs will not droop," B'Elanna interrupted with a grin.

Si'zaG frowned as she thought back to the drones she had met while being part of the Borg. She had to admit that seeing old drones was very rare. She said as much.

"Probably people that were already old when assimilated," Pagsha explained. "Nanoprobes can halt the signs of aging, but not reverse them. They can only work with what they have and not allow changes that their programming tells them is worse than the original state."

Si'zaG looked at Seven. "But you told me you grew up in the Borg as a child? Would the nanoprobes not have prevented you from growing up?"

"They would not," Seven assured. "As Pagsha just explained, nanoprobes do not allow changes that are worse than the original state. But while this is done on a nano level by literally changing individual cells, the overall work of nanoprobes is governed by an implant that decides the pig picture so to speak. Nanoprobes register a growing of the body, and the implant decides that this is a good thing because now the drone can reach higher and further. So changes like becoming taller, stronger, faster will be allowed. Other changes are also allowed within limits. Take Katzi, she is actually considered too bulky for efficient work so she will have to keep training for her entire life if she wants to keep looking like she does now."

"But then why allow it at all?" Si'zaG wondered.

"Because she still falls within the parameters. She is considered too bulky, yes, but it is compensated by the fact that her added strength is seen as an advantage as well. So it is allowed, just that if left unchecked, if no more training, then over time her body will return to a state where all levels are equal. Less strength, but because of that her muscles will be more suited for situations that require more stamina."

Si'zaG looked at Katzi and asked with a wink, "You don't have much stamina?"

"More than enough to keep my Mate a very, very satisfied woman," Katzi said with a growl. "But I'm the first to admit that I won't stand a shred of a chance against anyone in this boat in a run that's more than a sprint. Make me run more than hundred meters and my muscles will protest. Luckily my job exists out of protection and not running. I let others run while I keep protecting."

"Is that also why you train?" Si'zaG asked while looking at B'Elanna.

"Part of it," B'Elanna agreed. "I don't have to worry about getting fat, my implants now take care of that. But I was already training before I got my implants and I decided to continue. You've seen us naked. Seven and Pagsha are what the Borg consider an optimal body build. Lean muscles that you don't really see unless they're doing strenuous work. Just enough body fat all over the body to cushion bones, and give incredibly sexy curves. Though that last observation is just my inner hound driven opinion. Now with my implants I would also go to that state if I didn't keep training. And while I do like how I look then, I like it even better when I do have some muscles to show. While I don't want to look like Katzi, I like the fact that you see my biceps and triceps stand out a little when I move my arm, I like the fact that my shoulders are more defined because the muscles give a little more roundness there. Normally I have quite bony shoulders. And I truly love the fact that I have a six-pack even without pulling in my gut."

"Six-pack?" Si'zaG repeated.

B'Elanna patted her stomach. "Those muscles I have here? For some reason it's unofficially called a six-pack with Humans and Klingons. I have no idea why, beside the fact that there are six muscles that stand out."

"Personally I like Katzi's eight-pack more," Pagsha spoke up with a happy smile.

"But of course you do," B'Elanna replied while rolling her eyes at her friend, who smiled even more in reply. Then she continued answering the Siill. "But it's more than that. I like being active. Klingons are active by nature, and it seems I inherited that Klingon part as well. With my job being the Princess of the Borg, I mostly just think, talk, and walk. It's not enough to keep me physically busy. And since we really do need to get some work done I train. Because otherwise I would need to find another way to get rid of that energy. On Voyager I had a name of being hotheaded, easy to irritate, temperamental... you name all the things that can be explained by having an abundance of energy and I was probably accused of it. So if I didn't train to get rid of that energy I would start shouting at people, including my friends. Or I would basically be jumping Seven constantly to get rid of that energy that way. And while it's fun to indulge in the occasional day or so with a lot of sex, I really don't want to make it a habit of having sex three times a day. Trust me, if I didn't get rid of energy otherwise, and I could only get rid of it by having sex, then I would put you and Anidan to shame by how often I would jump into bed, or use any other conveniently horizontal surface."

"Or vertical, or diagonal," Seven added. "Chairs will work too."

When eyes turned to her she explained, "When B'Elanna and I had just became lovers we enjoyed exploring, so to speak. It was an active time for us."

"Like you aren't active now," Katzi grinned.

"Making love once every two days on average, is a lot less active than having sex as often as we could get away with back then and have it not interfere with our work," Seven pointed out.

"So having the nanoprobes is actually one of the reasons you need to train, as is your nature given energy level," Si'zaG surmised.

"Right," B'Elanna agreed. "But I would be lying if I said that those were the only reasons. Bottom line is; it's fun. That I actually learn stuff along the way is a great plus."

"Hmm, you said that the nanoprobes stop aging, once you reached a point where getting older means an overall deterioration."

"You could word it like that," Seven agreed. "I noticed for myself that the signs of my aging have slowed down considerably in the last couple of years. While my body actually grew faster than is normal for a child while I was still growing up. My body has looked much like it is now since I was sixteen or so."

Seven hesitated before admitting, "That is an educated guess since at that time I was still a linked Borg drone and could not care less what my body looked like. However, I can tell you that my body has not changed much in the years since I was severed from the collective. Not counting the changes that occurred when my implants changed from dormant to enhanced setting. In fact, it can be argued that the Doctor on Voyager altered my body more than the nanoprobes had allowed nature to do."

"Yeah," B'Elanna agreed. "Removing implants and then using dermal regenerators to create skin in those places. You've more skin created by the Doctor than you had skin left under that body armor."

"But since it is real skin the nanoprobes have now taken over and are once again taking good care of it," Seven added.

"So if the nanoprobes stop the process of aging for the body," Si'zaG asked slowly, "Do they also stop the process of aging in general? You won't die unless from some kind of accident?"

"Now that's the million dollar question," B'Elanna replied.

"The million what?" Katzi asked.

"Um, I have no idea," B'Elanna admitted. "It's something Tom likes to say. I never asked; I just figured that he meant that it was a damn good question."

"And the answer depends entirely on how you look at it," Seven added. Then she explained to Si'zaG, "First of all, no they do not stop the process of aging in the fact that we will not go on living forever. But after that answer it becomes complicated."

The discussion was momentarily interrupted by a fish nibbling on Anidan's line. But when the Engineer pulled in her line, the hook and fish were gone. After some good natured ribbing she started to put a new hook on the line. She had to admit that she was glad that they were on the holodeck. Or else she would really have to start worrying about how a fish could bite through a line made from filaments that were stronger and tougher than any metal used in the creation of building starships.

"Complicated?" Si'zaG prompted.

"Alright, how about I give answering that a try?" B'Elanna suggested. She moved to sit beside her Sill friend and in the mean time sent a command to the computer that no fish should bite her line for the time being.

"You see, it's complicated because the answer is that the nanoprobes prolong life, and yet can't make you live longer than is possible for your species. Let's take myself as an example since both Humans and Klingons live to be 100 on average, which is a convenient number to work with. And since it's the same for both species, let me just stick to Humans since that applies to Seven as well."

Si'zaG nodded as she reached for the cooler and handed B'Elanna the drink she had been thinking about.

B'Elanna grinned. "Thanks. Telepaths, got to love them. Alright, so the thing to keep in mind is the word average. The average age that Humans die at is 100. But that doesn't mean that we all drop dead that day; average is used for a reason. The oldest Human on record that didn't prolong their life artificially managed to become 153 years old. So for simplicity lets just say that we can become 150 years old max. But you have to keep the other side of the scale in mind as well. Children that die after falling into a river while playing or something like that clearly bring the average down. Or while medical science has greatly improved in the last century or so, up to the point that Humans now walk around with artificial hearts, there's actually still a surprisingly big number of people that die young, well under fifty, from a heart attack simply because help was not close enough when it happened. With me so far?"

"I believe I am. What you are saying is that the recorded average age is 100, but the real age where old people die of old age is more something like 120. Just that young deaths bring the overall number down."

"Right. And here comes the no of the yes and no answer. Because no, the nanoprobes cannot prolong our lives longer than is possible for the Human body. I can guarantee you that I won't get older than 150 years. Yes, there's that fraction of chance, but even then we're talking months or a year or two at most."

"And the yes part?" Si'zaG asked.

"The yes part is that while nanoprobes won't increase the top range of our body's life abilities, they do decrease the chance of us being in the lower range. The nanoprobes keep the body healthy. Sure we still need a doctor for infections, broken bones, cuts, and whatnot. But it's impossible for us to get heart attacks unless we ignore the warning signals the nanoprobes sent for a week or so. Even with acute events the nanoprobes will focus on the threat. A heart that suffers from total failure? The Nanoprobes will form a mantel around the heart and start massaging the heart to take over pumping the blood. A drone can survive almost a full day like that. And I just picked the heart as an example here. I could just as easy have started talking about potential brain damage. So the bottom line is that if we don't die from an accident or malicious acts, then the nanoprobes will make sure that we don't die as long as the body is not at the end of its life abilities. Of course, this only flies as long as we keep the implants in a good condition and as long as we keep undergoing medical checks as well. There's no reason to tempt fate. So if there's no accident or assassination, then I'm sure that I'll live to be between 120 and 150 years old. So yes, the nanoprobes will prolong my life, but no they don't prolong how long I can live. Yes and no."

"Hmm, interesting," Si'zaG said thoughtfully. "That explains why the Borg were so desperate to get us Siill in the Collective. You need technology to give you what our Planner gave us through nature. What you just explained is pretty much an exact description of what our blood cells do for us. Well, I don't know about prolonging life since the blood cells have always been part of us so I wouldn't know about living longer then normal. But our bodies also don't get much older in looks like mine is now. At least not until two weeks before we die of old age."

"Two weeks exactly?" B'Elanna asked in disbelief.

"Pretty much," Si'zaG assured. "Of course, I did recalculate our time calculation to the time indication used here. And there is a more or less of about ten hours. We believe that the Planner decided that it should be so, so that we know that our end is coming nearer and can use that last time to visit friends and family a final time."

"Well we don't have that," B'Elanna admitted. "We just go on and one day the life in our body is used up, so to speak, and we just don't wake up from a night's sleep."

Si'zaG merely lifted her eyebrows.

B'Elanna explained. "With us millions of cells die every day, and millions of new ones are created, just like with you. The nanoprobes guide that renewal process to make sure that the information stays as good as possible. So we won't age looks wise. But still, a cell can only be split a finite number of times. And once the cells have been split until they can't be split no more, the nanoprobes change their action to keeping those final cells alive as long as possible. But eventually a point is reached where more cells need that attention as it's possible to put nanoprobes in a body. That's when the body decides it's been enough and decides to die, nanoprobes or not."

She shrugged. "I don't mind really. I love the fact that I know that even when I'm a hundred years old I'll still feel and look like I am today. That even at one hundred I'll still be able to do simple things like swimming from here to the shore if I wanted to do that. I never had a problem with the fact that I'll eventually die. But I always looked up to being an old woman that has trouble getting off the couch."

Now she grinned. "But instead, when I'm hundred, I'll be standing beside my daughter, who's standing beside her daughter, who's maybe standing beside her daughter, and not a single person in the universe can guess just from looking at us, just who the grandparent is and who the grandchild."

Si'zaG smiled. "You just want to stay active and don't want to be trapped in a body that can't do what the mind wants to do." Then she grew thoughtful as she looked at her Mate.

"What?" B'Elanna asked after a moment of silence.

"Anidan and I are very lucky. Both of our species live to be about three hundred of your years. So we have a long and happy life in front of us, and fate not withstanding, neither of us has to go through life for decades without a Mate because her Mate died of, for her species, old age. But I just realized that both of us will outlive you, Vasha, and even her children. With us every class still lives to be about just as old, but I will have to get used to the fact that here I will get to know people that will only be in my life for a short time."

"True," B'Elanna agreed. "But personally I don't think you should look at it like that. I mean, let's pretend that I could get to be as old as you. That still doesn't mean that we'll interact for all that time like we are now. Who knows? Maybe next year we come across a planet that both you and Anidan love and you decide to settle there and we would interact a lot less from then on, if at all. Just because life expectancy might differ doesn't mean that you should link contacts to that. Chances are that for whatever reason we'll have lost contact a long time before just who dies first is of importance. Live for the day. We're having fun now, and I'm pretty sure that we'll still be friends next week. Why look further than that? What good will it bring?"

Si'zaG laughed. "Anidan and I settling on a planet? We both would go insane within a few weeks. We love technology too much."

B'Elanna grinned. "Alright, enough of this. How about we go back to fishing?"

Seven giggled as she tried to squirm away from her lover's ruthless fingers. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

B'Elanna suddenly stopped and looked at Seven in amazement. Then she made a show of proudly buffing her fingernails on her chest before blowing on them. "Damn, I really must be getting good; I have you shortening your words while we still have our clothes on."

Seven smiled at her lover's reference to the fact that the blonde normally only shortened her words when she was close to an orgasm.

B'Elanna let herself fall to the side of her lover and onto the bed. Soon they would get nude and go to sleep... or first make love and then go to sleep. It was always a tossup if their goodnight kiss was truly the last kiss for the night, or if hands and lips started to roam. They both liked that.

It was different than the times that one or both of them were horny and they did something about it. They often had what they called sex. That was simply physical and nothing else. Simply the fact that a lover could make you feel better than your own hands could. They also made love a lot, most of the time in fact. They were the times where the physical and emotional pleasure mingled to form a wonderful feeling of sexual bliss.

And then there was the times that they made love as a result of their goodnight kiss. Those times were the result of them loving each other so damn much that even after having been lovers for two years now, they still needed to make love to express their feelings that way. An 'I love you' conveyed feelings as well, and they told each other those words often enough. But there was simply a primeval connection that existed between them when they were making love like that. Both of them liked to give and receive oral pleasure. But on those occasions where they made love simply because they needed it to express that love, they preferred to use hands instead and stayed face to face. To kiss, to look in each other's eyes, to look deep into souls. It was on those occasions the both of them were sure that their love for each other was the strongest force in the Universe.

"I had fun today," Seven admitted with a happy sigh as she looked at her lover. "We should hold another fishing trip soon."

"Not too soon," B'Elanna said before explaining, "Or else it won't stay special enough. Maybe in a couple of weeks?"

"Very well," Seven agreed. She rolled onto her side and entwined her mesh covered hand with her lover's hand. She looked at their linked fingers for a moment. "You and Si'zaG were talking for a long time."

B'Elanna smiled. "She's very inquisitive. I think she shares the 'finding stuff out in conversations' gene with us."

"She shares not a single gene with us," Seven pointed out, but mostly to tease her lover.

B'Elanna used her free hand to reach over and slap Seven's behind. "Bitch, you know damn well what I mean." Her crude treatment was rewarded with a welcome kiss.

Once they broke apart, Seven pushed her lover back onto her back and rested her head on B'Elanna's chest. "I think that she discovered right away what took me months on Voyager to learn. Remember in the beginning? How I knew the answer to everything, and if not I made sure that I knew within half an hour if the answer was to be found."

B'Elanna chuckled. "Love, why do you think I hated you so much back then? I hate know-it-alls."

"Yes, I know," Seven agreed. "But the point is that every Borg drone is a know-it-all, including you now. At least if we want to be. But what you already knew from your experience simply growing up, and what Si'zaG learned within days here, and what I learned within months on Voyager... just because you 'can' know it doesn't mean you 'have' to know it."

B'Elanna nodded. "It's much more fun to simply talk to someone and have them explain things to you in a pleasant conversation. And as long as you don't need to know the information to do a job or prevent you from making mistakes... why not learn it in the fun way?"

"I really like it when Anidan and Si'zaG spend time with us," Seven said, only to then hesitate.

B'Elanna took hold of some of that blonde hair she loved so much and playfully lifted Seven's head slightly. "But?"

"There is no but," Seven assured as she folded her arms over B'Elanna's chest and then rested her head on her folded hands. "However,"

"Babe," B'Elanna interrupted with a grin, "However is simply a nicer way to say but."

"B'Elanna Torres?"


"You can bite me."

"Sure," B'Elanna said right away. "Just tell me where and I'll figure out how hard."

Seven thought for a moment before moving up until one of her breasts was hanging down over her lover's mouth.

B'Elanna glanced up, only to see her lover look down with a smirk. Rising to the challenge, the Klingon stuck out her tongue and moved it over her lover's fabric covered breast until she had teased the nipple under it to full erection. She bit down, just hard enough to go to the line that she knew her lover still considered pleasure in their current situation.

Seven moved back down after her lover had let go. They shared another kiss before she moved back to her old spot. Lying partially on her lover with her chin resting on her hands. Perfect to look into those beautiful eyes.

"So, but?" B'Elanna prompted. "No wait, I mean, so, however?"

"However," Seven repeated. "Anidan and Si'zaG leaving half an out before Pagsha and Katzi did show me the difference." She didn't add more, wanting to see if B'Elanna knew what she was talking about, which would mean that her lover would at least feel somewhat the same about the subject.

B'Elanna nodded and braved, "I noticed it before, but never really knew what to think of it. I'm glad it's not just me."

Then she decided to word what they were both dancing around. "Anidan and Si'zaG leaving felt like two good friends leaving. Sorry to see the good times over for now, but that's pretty much it because we know we'll spend more time with them. But Pagsha and Katzi leaving felt wrong. It's... I don't know."

"It feels wrong, just like it feels wrong to us to go even one day without spending some quality time with Vasha," Seven suggested. It was what she felt came the closest to it.

They had a nanny that was of a species that would not mind at all to actually take care of Vasha for the entire day. On top of that it's so easy to say that a meeting is more important, or that Vasha really needs her sleep. It was in fact so easy that Seven and B'Elanna very deliberately put work into not letting that happen.

They spent time with their daughter, and if they had promised her something they treated it just as importantly as any potential meeting they could have. If it wasn't an emergency then they used the first come first serve approach. If they already had an appointment they told Vasha as such and offered another timeframe to spend with her. And if their daughter had already received the promise of time that would be spent with her, then all others were flat out of luck. Unless it truly could not wait, but even then they made sure that they always made it up to their daughter.

"I love the time I can spend alone with you," Seven assured. "But if Pagsha and Katzi are not in these quarters... then... I miss them."

B'Elanna caressed her lover's face softly, using the same movement to brush some hairs away from her face. "Well then, maybe it's time we did something about it. We could..."


Chapter 53

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

Year 01, Month 09, Day 23, Hour 19, Minute 19.

She knew that today was going to be the worst day of her life.

She looked down at the still face of her dying baby. She had asked a doctor to come and see him. The doctor had come, and she had paid him in the only way she could. It hadn't lasted long. Just a few minutes of keeping her eyes closed and pretending to be somewhere else. It had been for naught. Her fears had been confirmed, her baby had The Zaich; the child disease half of the children got in the first three months of their life. There was a cure for the disease, but she would never be able to afford it. One cure potion cost over a thousand gold pieces. Even if she tried to get that by the only way she could still make money; by selling herself, a person in her position would never get paid more than three silver pieces per time. She would have to sell herself nine times to make even one gold piece. The really cruel thing about it was that everyone on the planet knew that the cure only cost ten copper pieces to make. But the government had put so many taxes on it that only the rich would be able to afford it. All in an effort to reduce the world population.

She softly touched his head, "I'm so sorry. If only I could..." She let her words trail off. If only she could do... what?

She looked around herself at the small hut that was her home; in both directions only just big enough for a grown person to sleep in without having to curl up. She knew it was of no use. There was nothing she could sell; her only positions being a cup, a plate, and the blanket her baby was lying on. The rest had long since been stolen by the people that came in at night because she couldn't afford a lock. In a way it had been a good thing that in the beginning she had stuff they could take, because it gave her a respite. But once there was nothing material left to take, they started to take other things. Her son was a result from that. But she didn't hate him for it; she loved him. And now, now the only good thing in her life was going to die.

Suddenly there were shouts coming from outside. She knew, in the shanty town part of the city shouts only meant one thing; strangers. Then she snorted. Part of the city. The shanty town actually had more people living in it than the real city that was inside the wall. For a moment she thought of getting up, but then decided not too. The only strangers could be the police forces and it was better if they didn't see you.

Rumor had it that aliens had shown up; proving that her people really weren't the only life in the universe. You didn't have to be a genius, like she actually was, to figure out that the next step was for the government to try and hide the bad parts of the society. Shanty towns were always the first target.

A soft knock came from the door, and through the holes in it she could see someone standing there. She slowly got up, not knowing what to make of it. Knocking? Nobody knocked; they took. The knock came again and she heard herself say 'enter.' Apparently even after having lived in the shanty town for five years now, some of her social upbringing was still rooted deeply inside her.

The door opened to reveal the huge frame of something she had never seen before. It moved, came closer, then it stood in front of her. Over a head taller than she was, and with the body so broad that she could easily have hidden behind it. Dressed in some black uniform, it had a gray skin color that had a slight blue tint to it; quite different from her olive skin color. And then there was the rather important detail of it actually having four arms. Then it talked.

"Greetings, I am Grakil Drakila Hiopik Shaa, of the Borg Collective. Twelfth officer to Unimatrix 01; medical drone. Your government has entered into an agreement with the Borg Collective. Medical assistance to the people is one of the first steps in this agreement. Are you Geisha Obi?"

"I... um, yes, I mean yes."

"One of your local doctors told us that you might be in need of our assistance?"

"I have nothing to pay with," she said, her care for her baby being bigger than the fear she felt for the huge person standing in front of her.

"The Borg Collective accepts a payment that everyone has; time. We help, and in exchange you agree to serve the Collective for a four year period."

'So I have to sell myself again,' she thought, totally misunderstanding exactly what kind of service was being talked about. Still, if it meant saving her baby now than there was no choice. "I accept. Whatever you want, but please, help my baby."

"It is your child and not you who needs assistance?" Grakil asked and knelt beside the little form on the floor. "The doctor told us 'you' needed help."

"Yes, for my baby. Please, if you can save him I'll do anything you ask."

"There is no need to," Grakil said while moving one arm over the still form of the child. Of course, Geisha could not know that Grakil was actually scanning the child with a built-in medical scanner.

"The Borg Collective offers free help to all children that have not yet entered puberty. With all species that the Collective knows, puberty is an adequate indicator of a person being old enough to make their own decisions. My tests have been completed. I can heal your child now, but to do so I will need to inject him with nanoprobes. These are small machines that are about the same size as your blood cells. To prevent the disease from reoccurring again I will have to program the nanoprobes to stay active for ten years. After that time your child is out of the age where it is possible to contract the disease and the nanoprobes will shut down and leave the body in the normal biological ways. Do you allow this injection?"

"Yes, sure," Geisha could only say. Grakil could have told her that he needed to do a rain dance to save her child and she would have let him do so, as long as the end result was what she wanted it to be.

"Because I am a medical drone I have special clearance, and tools, to actually inject nanoprobes with the old-fashioned assimilation tubes. But be assured that the nanoprobes are limited in function. They do not have any other information stored than what is needed to cure this disease."

"Sure, whatever you say, just please," Geisha pleaded, only to get second thoughts when suddenly two tubes shot out of one of Grakil's hands and into her baby's neck. A few seconds later the tubes were removed and her baby's skin slowly started to change from gray to the olive color that was normal for her species.

"He was at a very advanced stage," Grakil explained. "I don't think he would have lasted five more hours, but I promise you that he will be alright now."

Hearing that, Geisha collapsed and started to cry, clinging to the tall Grakil for support.

Grakil closed the two left arms around Geisha and held her in comfort while she cried for a few minutes. When she finally started to calm down again, Grakil said, "The disease will be fully cured in three more minutes. However, he is severely malnourished. I estimate that in thirty minutes he will wake up and will want to feed; a lot. Will this be a problem? We can supply artificial nourishment."

Geisha looked down at her very prominent chest with a slight blush. "No, that will be alright. He hasn't fed in over a day. I'll be more than happy for him to feed so that that will go down to normal proportions again and my shirt won't feel like it's going to rip anymore."

Grakil stood up and used a lower arm to help her up, but once they both were standing Grakil didn't let go of her hand. Grakil used a second hand to open hers and noted, "Your hands are very soft, they did not see much physical work. You have not lived here for long."

"Five years," Geisha admitted. "Since the last revolution... oh, wait, they call it 'the great revolution'."

"You lived in the city before?" Grakil asked before stepping back a little so as not to tower over the woman.

Geisha bent down and picked up her baby. When she saw that he finally reacted to the touch, tears rolled down her face again. But this time she didn't break down. Instead she smiled at Grakil who she was quickly becoming to see as her savior. "I did. I was a Minister before the revolution and lived in the administrators sector of the city."

"A Minister, yet you were not killed? The records say that every government worker higher than a desk clerk was killed in the revolution."

"That's what the records say," Geisha agreed. "But the new government knew that they really couldn't go and kill everyone. You do need some people alive to teach the new people how to do things. But yes, from the Ministers all but four of us were killed."

Something best described as a sour smile crossed her lips. "The new government had me brought before them. They went on and on about how they realized that I was one of the few that truly cared for the people, but that they couldn't be seen to agree with some of the things the old government had done. So, despite wanting my knowledge, they still had to ban me from the city and I wasn't welcome in any other place on the planet where government workers come and I could get recognized. In other words, I couldn't even go and live in one of the smaller cities with only half a million or so people in them. Shanty towns were the only option."

"What is it that you did as Minister?" Grakil asked.

"I was Minister of Urban Panning and Reforming."

Grakil looked around the hut, basically indicating the shanty town Geisha was living in, before merely saying, "Ironic."

Geisha barked a laugh. "Isn't it?"

"You must have been good at the job or else the new government would not have spared you. Data indicates that the old government, the one you were a part of, was considered an evil that had to be destroyed."

"I was good at my job," Geisha agreed, and Grakil noticed that her voice sounded like someone that was merely stating a fact, and not someone that was trying to boast.

Meanwhile Geisha continued. "It's just that it doesn't matter; not anymore. No matter what I, or the person that now has my job, plans. We've reached the point of no return. There are too many people on this world. I can't snap my fingers and have at least four billion people disappear. The new measurements, like preventing the cure for The Zaich, however cruel they are, they'll help in restricting new population. But there still are over ten billion people on this world that need room to live, food to eat. It's just too late. By the time the restriction of new born makes a difference, there won't be anything left of this planet. Now we've reached the point where all will collapse until in the end only the strongest survive and start anew. Natural selection I guess."

"Unless there were to come a Collective of alien species that offers people the chance to leave the planet and start a new life."

"A new life?" Geisha asked. "And just what does one have to do to start a new life? Does one have to buy their way into this new life?"

"In a way," Grakil agreed. "But as I said before, it is a currency everyone can pay; time of their life. If someone is interested they can join the Borg Collective for a four year contract, and they can stay longer after that time if they want. These people perform tasks for the Borg, and in return they get food, a home, off-duty time to spend as they want. In other words they get a life instead of just being alive."

"And is everyone welcome? Would I stand a chance for such a better life even though I was once part of a government the present government considers evil?"

"You would undergo a test before actually joining. Your mind would be scanned to see if you have dangerous ideas that we cannot permit in the Collective. There you would also be presented with a list of possible tasks you could do for the Collective, and you can choose the one you would like to do the most. If you don't have a clear choice you can try several jobs for a short time to see which you like before making a final choice."

"A final choice. Does that mean I won't be able to do anything else afterwards?" Geisha asked slowly, but in her mind she knew that her choice was already made. If it was possible this would be the last day she spent on the planet.

"That is not why we call it a final choice. You can ask to try something new later on. However, depending on what you choose the results can be severe."

Grakil lifted the upper left arm to indicate it. "For me I had to make this choice. I wanted to be a medical drone, which resulted in my arm being replaced by this artificial one that is filled with tools that I need for the job. Other things were replaced as well. Clearly this is not something that can be undone if I ever want to do something else."

Seeing how Geisha was looking at the arm in horror, Grakil assured, "Not every job in the Collective requires replacing body parts, but some jobs do demand it. That too is something you have to keep in mind when deciding what you want to do."

"Well, I don't know about that. I like my body just fine the way it is. But, you don't happen to have some kind of job that requires planning do you? I really loved my job, and as you can see from the fact that I wasn't killed, even the new government agreed that I did a great job. It's just like I said, there's only so much you can do if there's no room. If the only thing you can do is replace one building with another, or destroying even more of the little nature we have left on this planet."

"Did you? Destroy nature I mean."

"Sometimes," Geisha honestly admitted. "But only if I got a direct order to." Then she snorted. "By the Divine one, isn't that the lamest line you ever heard? 'I was just following orders.' I wonder how many people in history used that one before."

"A few. Tell me, if you had a situation where there would always be enough nature, but you would have to find away to build cities that flourish, where shanty towns are not an option, what would you do?"

Geisha laughed. "Nature not being of priority but a good city being the priority? Surely you're joking."

"I am not," Grakil assured.

"Well, I still think it's important, and I think that nature keeps a city looking beautiful and healthy."

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "A city should be such that you can do that and still smell fresh air, and not the exhaust gases I just smelled. I would design cities in which we would coexist with nature. Where no matter what window you look out of, you'll see some green."

"In that case, I think there are a few jobs you would be interested in. If you do decide to join the Borg, you might want to ask what jobs are available in Unimatrix Zero."

"I'm interested," Geisha assured. "But what about my child?"

"You would receive family quarters and your child would grow up inside the Collective until either you leave, he grows up to where he eventually gets his own job and quarters, or he decides to leave. Why don't you think about it? Now, if you excuse me, there are other people that need my attention."

"Oh, of course. I... say, you don't happen to need a tour guide or something like that? Maybe I can come along?"

"You don't have to worry," Grakil assured, knowing only too well why Geisha was asking. "We won't forget about you. The recruiters will come through a few hours after we leave, I will tell them where to find you."

Geisha smiled. "Thanks for the reassurance, but now that I know there's another option I don't want to spend another minute here. Honest, I don't have a job and all I can do here is wait for the night to come."

She decided not to add what normally also came at night. Somehow she knew for sure that they wouldn't come anywhere near her if she was close to the huge four-armed Grakil. "If you don't mind I'll just follow you around until you leave. The sooner I'm out of this hut, the better."

"It is your choice to make," Grakil said after a moment's hesitation. Then he suggested, "If you are not hated by these people, you might actually help me, if you want."

"I'm not hated," Geisha assured. "Though I'm also not widely known. I made sure to keep my head low. I didn't want the new government to decide that it might be a good idea to kill me after all."

"I have noted that some of the people here fear me. It is understandable; it's not every day that they meet an alien. That also happens to be about four times as strong as they are on top of that. Maybe you could act as a buffer of sorts. Maybe they talk easier to you than to me."

"Sure," Geisha happily agreed.

Geisha had no idea that she was already undergoing the first test. Though the medical drones were not recruiters, they still knew what was needed by the Collective, and with Unimatrix Zero recently being created, a city planner that still had an eye for nature was a very valuable addition. Now was as good as time as any to see how this potential addition would interact with others.

"Oh," Geisha suddenly said. "Um, if I have to do some talking, I might need to introduce you, so, um, don't take this the wrong way but, um, are you a he or a she?"

"Technically I am both. My species changes sex every year. Male one year, female the next. At the moment I am male."

Geisha was clearly taken aback by that. "Change sex? Is that even possible? You mean you change all the bits, or you already have all the bits for both sexes?"

"I really should be going now, if you want to come along you might want to pack," Grakil said, and Geisha thought that Grakil was changing the subject deliberately.

"I have nothing to pack. We are ready to go," Geisha lifted the baby a bit to show who the other part of 'we' was, before continuing. "Sorry if I asked an improper question there."

"It wasn't improper," Grakil assured as he held the door open for Geisha. "That we change sex is something we are proud of. I mean, we can truly claim to fully understand the other side, since we are the other side for half of our life. Now, to answer your question, once a year we sleep for a full week, and in that time our body slowly changes, including 'the bits' as you call it."

"That sounds interesting," Geisha said, and her tone made it clear that she truly meant it. As soon as they stepped into the sunlight, Geisha noticed that Grakil's skin looked a lot bluer. She realized that the skin was actually reflecting the sunlight, which gave very beautiful streaks of blue depending on how the light hit. Geisha found it fascinating and amazing. Then she shook her head and moved to walk beside Grakil. She was surprised to see that they were actually passing quite some huts.

"There's a man with a broken arm in that hut there," She said while pointing.

"Not anymore," Grakil disagreed. "I am not the only medical drone. See the others up ahead? That is how far we are at the moment on this street. There are also fifteen other teams working on other streets in this area of the city at the moment."

"Tell me, once we are where we have to be for me to start my time with the Borg, will I be able to see you again?"

Grakil looked at her for a moment, understanding only too well what, and why, she was asking. "I am bonded, and my partner and I are already in sync. Besides, there is no need to offer yourself; that is not how the Borg operate."

"Which I translate into you are married, but what does in sync mean?"

"In sync is the term used where two Mates are in a relationship that has evolved so far that the change of the body happens around the same time, and that there will always be an opposite sex. I am male, therefore my Mate is female. In two months I will become the female, and she the male."

"And you couldn't use someone around the house?" Geisha persisted. "I can clean, and I can offer something else to you and your partner... um if the bits fit, if you know what I mean."

"The bits, as you prefer to call it, are compatible, that is not the point. The point is that you do not need to offer that. You will receive quarters, and because you have a child you will even receive family-size quarters for you and your child."

"Yeah, and what if I don't want that?" Geisha asked as she looked up at him. "I have been alone for 5 years..."

She stopped talking when she saw his eyes drift to her baby.

"The result of someone coming in one night wanting to steal. When he found nothing he decided to do something else while he was there." She shrugged. "It wasn't the first time, nor was it the last. It was just that on that occasion it stuck."

"And yet now you are offering to give yourself to me and my partner even though I told you it's not needed. And not to forget that you do not even truly know me, and most certainly don't know my partner. You also don't know what we prefer. Fitting 'bits' are less important than what is liked, and how. Yet you don't know that. We could be of a species where breaking bones is pleasurable and that this is the reason that we have four arms; to always have some extra when one is broken."

Geisha laughed. "By the Divine one, you sure have a wicket sense of humor. You aren't really that extreme, are you?"

"I don't know, and that is the point. What we might find tame, you might find extreme, or the other way around. What pleases us might bore you."

Now she shrugged again. "I'm not averse to sex, and I have an open mind. I'm willing to try new stuff and I'm not a prude. I just want to be the one to decide if I want to have it at that moment. But it's not even that. We drifted to sex because of compatibility, but it's a lot more than that. It's... look, I don't have any friends. Everyone that I knew was killed five years ago. Family, the same, because they were part of the governmental circle as well. I want this new start that the Borg are offering, but at the same time I want to be part of a family. If you don't want me because I would intrude in your family; that I can understand and then forget I ask. Especially since I would be bringing a baby along. If you think taking my offer of sex is wrong then please forget I mentioned that part and I will promise that I will never bring it up again. If me living with you is somehow illegal in the Borg, again forget about it. But don't turn down my offer because you think it's better for me. Let me decide what's best for me."

Before Grakil could answer they reached the other people of the Borg party and one of them came closer. This person also had a gray skin with a blue sheen that reflected in the sunlight, creating beautiful streaks of blue that seemed to dance over the face. Because this person was coming at them from the opposite direction, the sunlight was directly caressing the angular face. Making it seem as if thousands of small gems were imbedded in the skin and reflecting the light. This person also had four arms, but this time there was no question whether this person was a man or a woman.

This was a woman alright; the most beautiful woman... the most beautiful creature period... that Geisha had ever seen. The woman was a little shorter than Grakil, but still a little taller than Geisha, and her body was only half as broad as the bulk that Grakil had. There was a prominent pair of breasts that just begged for eyes to drift. Even despite being covered by the black uniform, it was clear to see that the entire body existed out of sensual curves and lines that flowed gracefully into each other from the face down to the feet.

The woman was absolutely stunning and Geisha couldn't help but notice that a shot of desire had traveled straight to her groin. "Oh my," She could only whisper.

"My partner," Grakil explained.

Geisha looked up at him in surprise. "And you want to tell me that in two months time you'll look like that, and she'll look like you?"

"Our bodies look slightly different after every change. But in general, yes, you can say that I am an average example of the male of our species while my Mate is the average example of the female."

"There's nothing average about her. She's the most beautiful being I have ever seen. You aren't bad on the eye either, once I got used to the fact that you're so broad and tall that I can go hide in your shade."

"What do we have here?" Grakil's partner asked.

"Beloved, this is Geisha Obi and her son, who, I guess, is not yet named if I understand local tradition. Geisha Obi, this is my partner Shaa Hiopik Drakila Grakil, of the Borg Collective. Eleventh officer to Unimatrix 01; medical drone. You will notice that our names are the same, just in reverse order. As is tradition with our species, once we bond our names are combined and moved around according to certain customs which would take about one hour to explain."

"And I ask again, what do we have here?" Shaa asked. "Why are she and her child accompanying you, beloved?"

"She wants to join the Borg and decided that now was as good a time as any to join up. She also has other interests."

Without further explanation Grakil lifted his upper right arm and placed two of his four fingers against the side of his partner's face. After a moment Shaa's eyes got wider as her eyes drifted from her partner to Geisha.

"I see," Shaa finally said after the link between the partners was ended by Grakil lowering his arm. "Follow me," the vision of beauty ordered. Geisha couldn't help but do as she was told when Shaa turned and walked to one of the many huts.

As Shaa entered she explained, "The people that lived here have joined the Collective. They too did not want to wait for recruiters and they went to the recruitment area. We will not be disturbed."

She closed the door behind the three of them before turning around. "Hand your child to Grakil."

Geisha didn't even hesitate. The man had saved her son, she gladly trusted him with her child again. She looked how the big man carefully took her son and walked out of the hut, leaving Geisha and Shaa alone.

"Don't move," Shaa suddenly commanded when Geisha took a step towards the door. "Don't worry, they are outside. This is a woman to woman thing; no man allowed, no matter how young they are."

Shaa looked at Geisha in silence for a moment before suddenly ordering, "Strip." When she saw how Geisha's eyes got wide at the command, she added a powerful, "Now."

Hesitantly Geisha did as she was told; pulling the long shirt, that came down to her knees and that was her only piece of clothing, off her back and letting it drop to the floor.

Shaa took her time to circle Geisha, clearly taking in every curve of her body.

"I'm filthy, I know. But," Geisha started, only to be interrupted.

"I wouldn't expect anything else considering where you are living. Filth is irrelevant; we can clean that up. I'm looking at what is under the filth."

After four slow circles around the naked woman, Shaa finally stopped in front of her again, her eyes resting firmly on Geisha's large breasts. "You are still feeding your child?"


"How much?"

Understanding the question only too well, Geisha explained, "He hasn't eaten today because he was sick so I have a lot stored. Once I've stopped feeding in one month time, they'll return to normal size and be about one third the size they are at this moment, half of what they normally are if he does eat."

Being daring, Geisha took one of Shaa's hands and folded the fingers to form a cup. "That'll fit in one month."

Shaa took hold of Geisha's hand before Geisha could lower it again and brought it to one of her own uniform covered breasts. "Something like this?"

"Something like," Geisha agreed, not daring to move her hand away, or do more than just feel for that matter. "Well, a little smaller actually."

"Good. When Grakil is a woman she tends to have breasts that are bigger than mine, while I normally have around this size. It would be interesting to have something smaller to play with."

Shaa removed the hand from her breast and Geisha let it drop to her side again.

"Hmm, I must admit that I'm not dead set against having a little plaything in our quarters," Shaa admitted. "And you are aesthetically pleasing. You realize that you will never be equal to me and my partner? We are bonded; you would merely be extra fun."

"I'm not looking to become equal. What I do want is a home. A place where I am welcome, where I and my son can be a part of a family."

"Get dressed," Shaa ordered before asking, "You will respect the hierarchy of our home, unconditionally?"

"I will respect it, or move out," Geisha assured as she pulled the shirt over her head again. "But I'm the mistress over my own body. You can ask, and I'll probably give. But you'll never be able to order me to give, unless we're playing and I allow it."

Shaa nodded her head; apparently Geisha had said the right thing. "At the moment changes are made on Unimatrix 01... the ship where we live... and there are a lot of free quarters. The quarters beside ours happen to be free; we will put in a request for you and your son to get them. Then we take you in on trial. If it works out we will request that your quarters will be added to ours when we take you into our family fully. If it doesn't work out, your quarters will stay yours. Either way, the bedroom for your son will be in those quarters. Sensors for monitoring him will be installed, as well as a temporary door between quarters. Just like your child, you also will have a bedroom in those quarters. But if you are a good little plaything we will allow you to sleep with us, unless we want to be alone."

Geisha nodded, not minding at all that she might not get to spend every evening with them. It would give her time to concentrate on her child.

"You don't have to work for us," Shaa continued. "And we don't command what you do with your free time. However, you did offer yourself to us, and I take you up on that offer. You will be our plaything, but you will never be used disrespectfully, and we will not let you go... unsatisfied. You said that you want to be the master over your own body, that we can ask and you will probably give. Very well, we will ask, you may decline. But choose the times that you decline wisely, because if you decline every time it would soon become boring."

Geisha let her eyes drift over Shaa's black clad body, and just the thought that she would be allowed to touch this stunning creature for more than just a quick touch through the uniform sent her pulse racing. "I really don't think that will be a problem," She assured with a shaky breath.

Shaa stepped closer and softly tilted Geisha's head up until they were looking eye to eye with their noses almost touching. "One last thing. We all serve the Queen, but in the privacy of quarters there is only one decision-maker in the families of our species; the female. Whether it is me, or my partner at that time. The female is the one that makes all final decisions. You may be a female but since you are not part of the Alpha bond of the family, you will always be outranked. You can present your case to the Alpha female and she will listen, but the Alpha female's word is binding and complete. If you object you have two choices. You can nevertheless accept her decision, or move out."

"Does that involve the job I will do for the Borg?" Geisha asked in a whisper. There was such an intensity in those brilliant blue eyes that Geisha knew that she would do almost everything this woman would ask of her. "You have incredible eyes. If you look at me like that for much longer I'll come," she heard herself say in that same whisper, and as she said it, she knew it to be the truth.

"You have a valid point," Shaa said, never letting up on her strong gaze. "We will consider the job you select to do for the Borg a matter for outside the quarters, which means that all of it is your own decision. However, do feel free to ask us our opinion or advice. That it's your decision doesn't mean that our advice is no longer any good. Do you have any more questions?"

"If it means that you keep looking at me like that I'll think of something," Geisha whispered before starting to ramble and panting at the same time. "When will we go to my new home? How much time does one have for themselves in the Borg Collective? Can you use all four arms at once to do different things? Will you let me make love to Grakil? Can I make love to him like I'm used to? How does,"

"Geisha, you can make love to him like you are used to, and you will also know how to please me. I will let you make love to him. But,"

"But?" The question was not much more than a soft breath of air. By now Geisha was shaking slightly and was literally squeezing her legs together because it felt as if Shaa's gaze was traveling directly to her groin.

"But, I'm the Alpha female at the moment, and that means that I get the first go at our new plaything. Today starts your new life. And the first orgasm of your new life is for me. Come for me, now."

Geisha melted under the intensity of Shaa's gaze, and her body followed the command immediately. The only part of Shaa that was touching Geisha were her two lower hands that were holding the woman up, yet Shaa prolonged the peak by nothing more than the intensity of her gaze. Finally she relented when she heard Geisha beg a soft 'please.'

"You could have looked away," Shaa accused after looking up at the ceiling. Her lower arms were still holding Geisha up so she used her upper arms to pull the woman close into a tight hug.

"I couldn't, it's not my place to do so. Grakil's gaze was not so intense, is this only you?"

"It is a female thing. Once we go through the change Grakil will be able to do that, and I won't. But don't worry, as men we have some abilities I am sure you will like... a lot. I think that you will be a wonderful little plaything for us; I think we'll keep you. I'm glad that you are so eager to find your place. I never had a plaything before, but I think that I would really like her to want to find her place without challenging the Alpha."

"I will, I promise. I want to be part of a family, not lead it. I promise, I promise, I promise. Let me in and I'll be yours... yours and Grakil's. Your plaything, yours to use."

"Ours to ask if we can use, you mean?"

Geisha smiled broadly at the correction. "Yes, completely and totally yours to do with whatever you want, once you asked. And talking about that, can I return the favor now?"

"You already did."

"But I didn't do anything to you," Geisha noted.

"That's what you think. You just wait until we get home and we will show you in what different ways a woman of our species can be pleased. Welcome to the family, my lover. You will never be my partner, but you already are my lover."

Then Shaa sighed. "But, it is time to get going. Officially my partner and I are on duty. So," Suddenly she raised her voice and called for Grakil, who entered mere moments later with Geisha's son in his arms.

"Grakil, we are supposed to be on duty here, and you come and distract me with matters like this. We will work two extra hours to make up for this lack in duty."

"But we spent only half an hour on this," Grakil objected, but his grin told them that he was just performing his task of offering a different view to the decision-maker.

"We should not have been doing this even for a minute; the extra time is to make up for that." Then she looked at the baby and moved an arm over him. "He is well enough to be fed. Now is a good as time as any since this hut will give some privacy. Geisha, feed our youngest family member."

Geisha hesitated for a moment before agreeing that now truly was a good time to feed. It was probably the most privacy she would have in hours and her breasts were so full that they were hurting. She pulled off her shirt once more and groaned when the rough fabric scraped over nipples that were still sensitive from her peak. She took her son from Grakil's hands and was surprised to see that Grakil moved back to the door while Shaa took up position at the small window. Both stood with their back to her. It took Geisha a moment to realize that they were not as much standing with their back to her as that they were facing in the direction where any potential threat could come from while she fed her child.

With an ache of joy in her heart she realized they were protecting her, and were probably willing to give their lives to protect the newest members of their family. It was funny how someone could go in one hour from thinking that it was the worst day of her life, to thinking that it was the best day of her life.

And as her son started to feed, silent tears rolled down Geisha's face. She had family now.

She was safe.

She was protected.

She was home.


Chapter 54

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

Year o1, Month 09, Day 25, Hour 12, Minute 04.

"As much as we have borrowed from how Starfleet works, I am glad that we did not copy it all blindly," Seven said as she looked at the view screen that was showing a brownish planet at the moment.

"Oh yeah," B'Elanna agreed. She and Seven were standing on the bridge of Unimatrix 01 and were looking at the planet that was the latest addition to the Borg Collective. "A species that doesn't have warp capability, that doesn't have a stable world government for at least twenty years, that's destroying the planet they're living on... Starfleet wouldn't have come within a light-year of this planet simply because it doesn't meet first contact criteria. It would've let countless people die because criteria weren't met."

"They would never have seen the paradox," Pagsha said, having not even bothered to sit in the First Officer chair, knowing that she would give it up again anyway as soon as Seven and B'Elanna left the bridge and she would follow. "Starfleet would have demanded that there had to be warp capability, but the planet would have destroyed itself before even being able to reach that point."

B'Elanna pointed at the viewscreen. "There goes the first atmosphere scrubber. I look forward to coming back here in ten years and seeing the planet again in the green color it's supposed to have. Of course, about two thirds of all the cities on the planet have to be destroyed just to make place for nature again. But I think with the uninhabited planet we're offering them for settlement, and the people that are joining us, there will be only four billion people left on the planet when all is said and done."

"True," Seven agreed. "I especially like the part of the people that decide to enter into Borg service. Over two billion people at the moment, with over one million still signing on, per hour."

"The extra drones are really the only thing we get in return for our help," Pagsha agreed before asking, "So, have we entered the area of charity now?"

Seven looked at her for a moment before admitting that the question was a valid one. "It is tempting, but I finally do realize that no matter how big the Borg Collective is, even we cannot fix all. I agreed to this because they do bring something special to the Collective. Their ability to hold their breath for three hours should not be underestimated. They will make excellent repair drones. While we have specific drones that excel in certain environments, we have very few drones that are capable of working in more than one environment without specialized equipment. For instance, many reptilian species can breathe in water, but very few of those can also breathe air. While the reptilian species that can breathe air, can rarely also breathe in water. And even if they can breathe in both environments, they cannot also breathe helium. This species takes breathing out of the equation for three hours. As long as there is a location they can return to where there is air it does not matter what environment they were in during those three hours. Even with the Borg modifications, not a single species in the Collective can go without breathing for three hours without the body suffering permanent damage, or even death. No species until now that is."

"True," B'Elanna agreed. "And let's not forget the added bonus; finding Geisha Obi was already worth having them join the Collective all by itself. I think it was the first time ever I heard the Hive say that someone was a perfect candidate. I for one am simply glad that we found a suitable person to be President of Unimatrix Zero." Suddenly B'Elanna started to laugh.

"Will you ever stop laughing about that?" Seven asked with fake annoyance. Truth be told, she also found it very funny but it was even more fun to pretend to be annoyed at her lover.

"You mean if I ever stop finding it funny how Shaa and Grakil almost fainted when they found out that their little plaything was going to be President of Unimatrix Zero? Someone that is on an Individualist decision making level so high up in the chain of command that she only has to answer to us two? No, I don't think I'll stop finding that funny any time soon. Just the look on their face when suddenly the Queen of Borg was standing in their quarters asking if she could talk to their little plaything... I almost peed myself."

"That is how they call her; it only seemed fitting to do the same while I was in their home."

"Nonsense," B'Elanna happily disagreed. "Just because they say it, doesn't mean that they'll accept others calling Geisha a plaything. You simply did that because you have a wicked sense of humor and knew how they'd react to finding out that the Borg Queen knew personally that they had taken one of the new drones in as their little plaything."

"I think that they do not yet fully understand the complexity that is the Hive," Seven said, relenting her played objection. "They are relatively new drones themselves; their species only joined the Collective four months ago. I do not think that they have yet moved to the deeper levels of the Hive while regenerating. For new drones like them the new system of still being an individual voice while regenerating is very pleasing. Why would they go to the levels where drones are emotionless and the only talking is about things that the Hive considers relevant?"

"You like going there though," B'Elanna pointed out.

"There are benefits, but it takes some time before people start to appreciate those benefits. There are still new people going to those levels, but they are people that are part of the Collective for some time by then, and know the new way enough to want to see what the old way is all about."

"The important part is that they go there though," B'Elanna pointed out. "They may take a couple of months before they go there, but when all is said and done it's not like that part of the Hive is bleeding dry. There is a delay, but with the extra new drones we now see more voices there than there were before we started to change things. The Hive is still fully in tact, and all drones in both systems are happy about it."

"Indeed," Seven agreed. "I personally like to go there for two reasons. First to show those drones that I care about them as well. Second, because there I become just one of many voices for a while. There I am not the Queen that makes the decisions; there I am just a little part of the majority of votes that decides on things. Surprisingly enough I find that very relaxing; to just be one of many."

"So, what do you think of the fact that Geisha is indeed pretty much Shaa and Grakil's plaything; basically just there for them to have fun with?" Pagsha asked.

"I think that it is a favorable situation," Seven said thoughtfully. "It is unplanned, but most encouraging. One should also not forget that while they are having fun with her, Geisha is having fun as well. She is not forced to do anything she does not want to. I also think that it is more than just fun. The 'fun,' also known as sex, is more of an excuse. If it truly was only about the sex, Geisha and her son would not be spending most of their time in Shaa and Grakil's quarters. They like each other's company, and the name 'plaything' is merely a tool to make clear to all of them what the dynamics in the group is. Let us not forget; Shaa and Grakil already went through their specie's process of making Geisha and her son official family members. Not something done lightly, and most definitely not something done for someone that is a mere living sex toy."

"That's true," Pagsha agreed, knowing that it was not a step Shaa and Grakil's species took lightly, and that it involved quite some rituals they had to fulfill.

"I believe that Geisha will benefit a great deal from the relationship," Seven continued. "This will aid in keeping Geisha grounded. Even though being president of Unimatrix Zero is a position that is on Individualist basis only second to the Royal family, it still varies much from what we do. We only set a general course; we think, approve or disapprove. But with the exception of some specific things that have caught our interest, and because of that are monitored on a more personal level, we do not micromanage in any way. Geisha will have to micromanage, at least up to a certain level. Yes, she too will give general commands to the people that work directly under her, and then those people will have to work out the details. But there will always be things she has to keep an eye on herself."

B'Elanna nodded her agreement. "Yeah, even if there's nothing else she has to keep a close eye on, merely following the strict guidelines we gave her of how we envision the growth of Unimatrix Zero demands keeping a lot of details in mind. It's a good thing that she truly excels at keeping small details in mind while making broad plans."

"She will have to make very important decisions on a daily basis, if not even on an hourly basis," Seven continued. "It will be good for her that at home she can let go and not have to make any more choices. Save for the one if she still wants to continue to abide by the rules off the Alpha female. It will enable her to truly 'switch off' at home. It will be her way to relax. I enjoy joining the deeper levels of the Hive from time to time because there I am just one of many voices, and Geisha will enjoy that when she comes home, her time for decision-making is over for that day. "

"That's actually a good point," B'Elanna agreed. "But you know what I also like about this situation? The fact that her family doesn't live in Unimatrix Zero. Remember, that was one of our worries; that the person we put in charge of Unimatrix Zero would eventually start to live their entire life there, with the exception of the mandatory four hours a day that has to be spent in 'the real world.' But now the time in the real world is not something that has to be suffered through because it's a rule. No, now the time in the real world is something looked forward to because it's where her home is. It's the place where her family is waiting for her, the place where her son is waiting for her, the place where her lovers are waiting for her."

"Hmm, you know what I like?" Pagsha asked. "That relationships guidelines is also something that you didn't copy from Starfleet. Here even the highest level of command, the Borg Queen, knows that Geisha gave herself fully to her lovers, and wants to be seen as their property, just not treated as such. The Borg Queen knows that one of her subjects is seen, though not treated, as property by two other subjects. And yet the Queen even encourages this relationship and considers it a good thing. In Starfleet, in the Federation as a whole for that matter, everyone would act outraged and say that such an unhealthy relationship should be stopped. The same with Katzi and me."

Pagsha quickly looked at her lover who was standing a little to the side. "They would say that I'm dominated in my relationship and that it would be better for me if I was taken out of the relationship. It would take a meeting with a telepathic councilor before people would truly believe that I'm happy with my relationship. And even there people might still say that I'm merely in denial."

"Well, to be fair," B'Elanna said thoughtfully, "We have one major advantage that neither Starfleet nor the Federation has. Something even Seven and I considered a terrible thing less than two years ago; the Borg neural link. We can say that this relationship is a good thing because we know for a fact that Shaa, Grakil, and Geisha are very happy with the situation. And even if we hadn't done that extra scan because Geisha is taking up the position of President, we still didn't have to worry. Because, yes, just how happy they are would've been filtered out as irrelevant information, but if someone is unhappy with their life then this is automatically flagged as relevant but private information. Then that information is automatically sent to a councilor and the person will be sitting in a councilor's office, often even before they admitted to themselves that there are problems."

B'Elanna waved a hand between Pagsha and Katzi to indicate the both of them. "The same with you. Ignoring what Seven and I personally know from your relationship with Katzi because of our close friendship, the scan has never once noted a day that you were unhappy with your life. Therefore, since it's a part of your life, your relationship must be going alright and that in turn means that we've no business telling you what you should or should not do... as long as you don't bother other people."

"True, so?" Pagsha asked, wondering why B'Elanna was pointing out what the Ghdibrian already knew.

"So the Federation doesn't have that. Since it's simply impossible for them to send every person in the Federation to a counselor once a year, let alone once every three days like a scan is done here, they have to have rules that cover it. They have to have a rule which stated that it's illegal to have a sentient person be considered your property. They need that to make sure that people don't beat their property into telling everyone that they love being with their owner. We on the other hand get an assurance once every three days, at most, that Geisha wants to be where she is. And even if there was some kind of doubt, we could adjust the scan, like it was done this one time because of her new position. If there was any doubt if this relationship is good for her, we could actually choose to literally feel for ourselves how wonderful and happy she feels when one of her lovers tells her that they want her, now. Truly, where the Federation needs to make sure that people are not mistreated and are hiding it, we have to make sure that we don't intrude into relationships too much even though we can do so easily. Seeing how things are going recently, I think that we've found a good balance in this."

"I guess that's true," Pagsha agreed. "If you look at it that way I guess that they would indeed have to create a lot of rules just to cover the 'better safe than sorry' angle."

Having received her answer, Pagsha decided that a change in subject was in order. "Well, to bring up a different point, now that the cubes are arriving to take these new drones to different places in the Collective, and negotiations are at a point where we can bring in some Ministers to continue them, what's next?"

"Good question. At the moment we have nothing that requires my personal presence. Where would you like to go?" Seven asked.

"Me?" Pagsha asked surprised.

"Why not? Until now all the travels of Unimatrix 01 has been because I had to be at a specific location for negotiations, or if it was a place that B'Elanna or I wanted to visit. You may be a First Officer by rank, but I do not think that there is a single person in the Collective that does not know how big your contribution is to my reign as Queen. You are the person that B'Elanna and I bounce ideas off, the person that does not hesitate to ask if something is truly needed or if it is not a case of 'we are doing it because we can', the person that I learned a lot from of how to interact with others. That is not even counting the fact that a very big part of our changes have started with suggestions or questions from you. I think that it is time you too should be able to pick our destination from time to time. And Pagsha, it is not a crime to pick a destination you would like to visit simply because you want to see it with your own eyes; it is what B'Elanna and I do often enough."

"Well, if you put it like that... I would really love to go back to Zamona," Pagsha said hesitantly.

"Zamona it is," Seven agreed with a nod, making it clear that she approved the choice. She looked at Captain Wolkav before adding, "Captain, please start the journey as soon as we are ready here; normal cruise speed."

"Yes, my Queen."

Once they had left the bridge and entered the corridor that would lead them to the Royal quarters, Seven asked, "Why Zamona?"

Now Pagsha smiled. "Because last time I was there I didn't see much of it. We beamed directly to the meeting with the Queen, and from there directly to where Katzi was. I want to go back there for so many reasons. For my Mate to show me around and show me the places where she loved to spend time. I also want those people there that didn't join the Borg to see my Mate and ask her what she does now. I want to see their faces when Katzi tells them that she's a Royal Guard. Not just any Royal Guard that is trusted with the safety of the Zamonan Queen. No; a Royal Guard that is trusted with the safety of the Borg Queen, the ruler over almost 15,000 species. And of course, not to forget, I want every person there to see that this Royal Guard has a plate attached to her arm that says 'Pagsha's property'."

B'Elanna laughed. "As good a reason as any if you ask me. They entered the Royal quarters and despite knowing better, B'Elanna quickly checked if Vasha and Zizirk were there. She had known that they wouldn't be there though. It was Alpha shift; which meant that Zizirk would be on the holodeck with Vasha to fulfill the normal daily schedule.

They sat down on the two couches in the living room before B'Elanna continued. "I think I'd really love to go back there as well. Regent Dasia and her Mate Gici became pretty good friends of Seven and me during our first visit to the planet. Unfortunately we saw only Dasia and not Gici last time, and only then for just as long as you saw her. I think that unless things change there, Zamona will always have a special place in my heart. It's the place where Seven and I felt totally accepted for the first time; even more than on Voyager. It's also the place where we realized that we were truly in love. I think... I'd like to visit that place more than just this one time. What about you, Seven?"

"I do like how relatively isolated things are there," Seven said thoughtfully. "If you are in a village you feel as if that part is the only part of civilization on Zamona. Plus, they have a Monarchy where the Royalty is respected and people want to take up as little time as possible of their Queen. I think that they would also not 'freak out' if a different Queen happens to be on the planet. Maybe we can even ask Queen Erda if we can build a cabin on Zamona to have a vacation home there so that we can simply go there without a lot of preparations having to be made for the visit every time."

"I like the idea," B'Elanna agreed with a grin. "Unlike the people that work for us, we don't have a set amount of days off. In fact, you could argue that we didn't have a day off until now. We went to places where we would like to go, but we still did things there for the Borg. It would be nice if there was a place where we could go to if we have a day or two off."

"If you want to do that and not stay within a few light-years of Zamona the entire time, we are talking transwarp here," Pagsha pointed out. "Others don't get to use transwarp just to go on vacation."

She hesitated for a moment before correcting herself. "Well, that's not true. When they go on a vacation they do travel on ships that travel at transwarp. But they don't get a ship that is standing by and waiting for them to say 'go'. They have to look at schedules, see when they rendezvous with a ship or starbase where they can get off to get another ship, and therefore can only plan their vacation to start on the day of that rendezvous."

"True," Seven agreed. "However, there is a difference. The people that serve on Unimatrix 01 are stationed here. This is where they knew they would serve; this is their place of operation. Even if we travel ten thousand light years from where we are now, they will still be at their place of operation. The place of operation for B'Elanna and me is the entire territory of Borg space. We use transwarp all the time to travel to places where we need to be; it is part of our existence. The other people on this ship are able to plan vacations. They can even plan vacations that are off the ship. They can plan a vacation today for four months in the future. As you said, they just have to keep the scheduled rendezvous with other Borg ships in mind because we keep those up no matter where we are. However, we ourselves will not be able to plan a vacation up front because we never know what will need our attention at what time. So, if we do find ourselves in a situation where we are suddenly not required to be in a specific place, I believe that we should be able to use the opportunity."

B'Elanna nodded. "I think you are right. But to be fair, I also think that there should be a limit. Not only because of the fact that we're using Unimatrix 01 as our personal transport, but also because of time. If despite transwarp we still have to travel five days just to get somewhere, than we're totally wasting our time."

"That is a very valid point," Seven agreed. "We have to find a balance, a point where we would not go to a certain place for a vacation because it is too far away at that moment. Do you have a suggestion?"

"Well," B'Elanna said thoughtfully before she started to run numbers through her head. "Because Unimatrix 01 has 23 of the biggest warp cores in Borg space, and an obscene amount of transwarp coils tied in to those cores, Unimatrix 01 is actually the fastest Borg ship that exists at the moment... with the exception of cube X31. We have a top speed of warp 22 and can actually cover 8,000 light-years in 5 hours if we need to. But over warp 20 the strain on the resources gets so high that we can really only run warp 22 in case of an emergency."

"So traveling over warp 20 just so that you can go on a vacation is something that is out of the question?" Pagsha asked.

"Right," B'Elanna agreed. "The Borg shouldn't have to harvest vast amounts of resources just so that we can have some time off. I think... warp 19. At that level the pull on the resources isn't much different than traveling at normal warp; the main difference being that navigating at transwarp is not as easy as at warp. Transwarp is good for straight 'point A to point B travel, normal warp is better for when you actually have to steer the ship. At warp 19 we travel 1,000 light-years per day. I say, let's make that our border. If a place is within 1,000 light-years it's fair game for a vacation. If it's further away than it's a no-go."

"That sounds reasonable," Seven said after thinking about it for a moment. "And if we want to visit a place that is further away, we plan it so that we can also do something else there that is related to our positions as leaders of the Borg."

"Zamona is more than 1,000 light-years away," Pagsha pointed out.

"And we agreed to go there before we came up with this new system," Seven countered. "Therefore I believe that we can start the new system after this trip."

"Seven, talking about new," B'Elanna spoke up. "Now might be as good a time as any to make the suggestion."

"Suggestion?" Pagsha asked.

"You are correct, my Mate," Seven agreed before focusing back on Pagsha. "B'Elanna and I have been talking about several things and there is one thing that we want to offer you, Pagsha, and one thing that we would like to offer to the both of you. We feel that the last should be suggested in private because it has to do with our family. The first point is official, but seeing the nature of the second point I hope you do not mind that we also bring up the first point in this setting."

"Um, sure," Pagsha said, clearly confused.

"Pagsha," Seven started, "As you know, until now we had you serve on the Senior Staff because we wanted you to act as something of a bridge between them and us. In the beginning this was a very effective tool because it gave the Senior Staff and us time to find a proper way of interacting. Their mind scan might have shown us how much they can be trusted as Senior Staff members, but it would not show us if they do not speak up at meetings because I, the Queen, said something that contradicts what they believe. But now we have moved on. The Senior Staff interacts easily with B'Elanna and me. They have become people that do not hesitate to give their opinion, and we value that opinion."

Seven hesitated for a moment before saying that what all of them knew was the truth. "It is no longer needed for you to be a part of the Senior Staff. We believe that the time has come to give the title of First Officer to Unimatrix 01 to the person that has been your replacement in that position for almost a full year now. Besides all else it is only fair to him. He is the First Officer of Unimatrix 01 in all but name at the moment. We would like to offer you a new to be created rank and title that reflects what you have been doing from your first day as Individualist drone; we want to offer you the rank of Royal Advisor."

"Um, is that a promotion or demotion?" Pagsha joked. Truth be told, she had always liked the fact that she was the First Officer of Unimatrix 01, even if it was only by title lately.

"Let me put it this way," B'Elanna spoke up. "How many First Officers are there in the Collective now?" Before Pagsha could answer, B'Elanna continued. "And how many Royal Guards?"

"Four," Pagsha said with a smile, seeing where B'Elanna was going. "And there's only one President to Unimatrix Zero, and only one Royal Advisor. So basically I keep doing what I have been doing, also keep my rank of First Officer, just that now my title reflects the work I have been doing and that I'm no longer 'the' First Officer on Unimatrix 01?"


"Then I accept. Thank you."

"No, thank you," Seven countered. "Both B'Elanna and I sometimes get lost in the possibilities that could be. What we could do simply because we can. You have been our rational mind for over a year now. Thank you for challenging us and not simply going along with us. Thank you for daring to say 'there is no reason to do that'. Thank you, my friend."

Pagsha had no idea how to react to that.

So, B'Elanna decided to break the silence that had formed. "Alright, with that covered, I guess it's time to bring up the second thing we wanted to discuss. Pagsha, when we selected you as a drone that would be our assistant, we already knew that chances were pretty big that we would become friends. But we had no idea just how fast and easy we would become those friends. Then you showed up, Katzi."

B'Elanna grinned before deliberately reminding, "The woman that once touched Seven's ass and made me see red. Who would've thought that you would become a Royal Guard? Who would've thought that this woman I punched for touching my Mate would end up becoming one of our best friends? Someone I literally trust with my life every day? Seven and I thought that when you and Pagsha got involved that we'd see less of the both of you; instead we saw more of you."

"Our jobs kinda require that," Katzi pointed out. "Not that I'm complaining, mind you."

"Your jobs don't require that you spend almost every free minute with us, yet you spend more time with us than you do in your own quarters," B'Elanna disagreed.

"You want us to stay out of your hair more?" Pagsha asked, thinking that this was what her friends were leading up to. After all, it was not easy to tell a friend that you want to see them less.

"Not at all," Seven disagreed. "B'Elanna and I like your company, and we miss you if you are not with us. No matter how pleasant the evening was, it feels wrong to us when in the end you walk out of that door to go to your own quarters. It is as if we get told that you do not belong here. But B'Elanna and I feel that you do belong here, and that we made a grave error in not addressing this earlier. B'Elanna, Vasha, and I, are a family unit. While technically you are not part of this family unit, we nevertheless feel that you are. You spend all your time here, you help in raising our daughter; you were even present when she was born. You literally know our daughter from the first second of her life, and Vasha sees as much of you as she does of us. She knows that you are not her physical parents; you know only too well that despite her young age she knows the difference. Yet, what is it she calls you two?"

"She calls me Mag, and she calls Pagsha Jilon," Katzi answered.

"Which both mean mother in our native languages," Pagsha added with a smile.

"Indeed," Seven agreed. "In the beginning we did not pay too much attention to that. We were more amazed at the fact that not only could Vasha talk at such an incredible young age, but she could even talk coherently. After that it was simply how she called you. Looking back, we do not think that this was just a coincidence. From the beginning, as soon as she could talk, Vasha called B'Elanna Mamma, and me Momma. Yet the two of you she addresses with the more formal 'mother.' Vasha sees you as a part of the family, and we think she is right. You are more to us than mere friends; you are family. Because of that we want to offer you to officially become part of that family."

Seeing the shocked look on their friend's faces, B'Elanna continued where her Mate had left off. "We want to ask you if you'd be interested in moving into the Royal Quarters. We could have a second master bedroom created beside Seven and my bedroom so that you still have your own bedroom and also a place to go to if you want to be alone for a while. But that's really beside the point at the moment. Bottom line is; we see you as our family and we'd like for you to live in the family quarters."

B'Elanna too fell silent and she and her Mate waited while their friends looked at each other. It was clear that they were talking over their own private Borg link.

"We would love to," Pagsha said a moment later. Though it was clear that she and Katzi had talked about their answer, she still looked at her Mate for her too to voice her agreement. "Um, wouldn't we?"

"We would," Katzi agreed before looking back at her friends. "Maybe we should have had this talk sometime ago, because Pagsha and I have talked several times already about how much time we do spend in your quarters. We came to the conclusion that we liked spending so much time here because this place feels like home to us. Our quarters do feel nice and we like it there, but they don't really feel like home to us. Something is missing, or better said, some things are missing; a few people we really like a lot. So yes, we would love to take you up on your offer. We would love to call this place home; to not have to leave the place that feels like home to return to a place that our home in name only."

Katzi saw how her friends smiled when they heard her admit that the Royal Quarters had felt like home to them. But, Katzi was a Zamonan; fierce independence was part of her nature, so it prompted her to make a counter-suggestion.

"I really want to call this place my home, so we will take you up on your offer even if you don't agree with my next suggestion, but I still feel that I should suggest it. I would actually suggest that we don't get rid of the quarters that Pagsha and I are living in at the moment. You suggested that we could go to our yet to be created bedroom if we want to be alone for a while, or you to yours. But that would then mean that this person that wants to be alone for a while would be basically trapped in the bedroom. Who knows, maybe there will come a time where one of us, or one of the couples, wants to be alone for a couple of days. We could use our old quarters as something of a refuge; a place to go to if we want some rest from the life in the Royal quarters. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that I need some kind of escape plan or something, but,"

"But you're right," B'Elanna interrupted. "When you move in here you do give up quite a bit of freedom. Especially if you keep in mind that we also have a child and a nanny here."

She grinned before adding with a wink, "Right now in your own quarters you can sit in the living room and suddenly tell Pagsha to strip for you."

Then she continued more serious. "You'll be giving up freedoms like that by moving in because here that's not an option unless Zizirk has retired for the evening and Vasha is in her room. And even then, since Seven and I are there, it would not be a private show for you. You're giving up freedom, and I can assure you that there will be times that you'll miss that freedom. There are days that Seven and I just want a day or two alone to us, but we can't because of the choices we made. We wanted to raise our daughter, and not grow her like a vegetable in a maturation chamber. It's a choice that we're very glad we made it like we did; Vasha fills us with joy every day. But unlike us you don't have to give up that freedom. You can keep your other quarters and escape for a day or two."

Pagsha smiled. "You do realize though, don't you?"

"Realize what?" B'Elanna asked confused.

"If Katzi and I move in here, you have two extra people here. People that can take care of your child, who your child likes enough to call them 'mother'. From now on you can also take that day in those quarters to be alone for a while."

"We could at that," B'Elanna agreed with a grin. Suddenly the idea of their friends becoming part of the family had gotten an extra bonus that neither she nor Seven had thought of.

"A different set of quarters as the ones you live in at the moment are needed though," Seven pointed out. "Pagsha agreed to take the new position of Royal Advisor. That means that she, and by extension you Katzi, have to move out of the First Officer quarters since that part of this deck is reserved for the Senior Staff, and therefore those First Officer quarters will belong to the new First Officer of Unimatrix 01. Also, even if you were not moving into the Royal Quarters, I do believe that your position as Royal Advisor mandates that you get a set of quarters that is located at least just as close to the Royal Quarters as the First Officer's quarters are now. To speak proverbially; so that the Royal Advisor is only a shout away from the Royal family. Since these quarters have yet to be created, we could decorate them in such a way that it appeals to all four of us. These quarters could then be that escape location should any one, or two, of us need some time alone."

"You said that the new quarters should be close to these quarters. Could we make it so that these new quarters have an exit to the corridor, and a second exit that leads to the Royal Quarters?" Katzi asked. "That way those quarters could be used as truly separate quarters if any of us needs a few days. For instance, if I would like to have Pagsha to myself for a few days so that I can have my way with her at any moment of the day that I would like. At the same time, a direct door to the Royal Quarters would still make those quarters kinda a part of the Royal Quarters and we would still be at home. Even if one of us needs to go there for a few hours to be alone."

Seven thought about that for a moment and it was clear to the others she was envisioning their quarters, the holodeck up one side of their quarters, what was going to be the Royal wing in the future, at the second side, and the corridor and the quarters of the Royal guards and Senior Staff at the third side. Finally she spoke up again while pointing at one of the walls.

"That is possible if the quarters were added in that direction. Because the side corridor moves alongside in that direction we could easily have one exit to that corridor. Then we could make a direct connection from living room to living room by creating a door in that wall. That would even make it possible to have a third exit in the new quarters that leads to the holodeck. However, if those quarters will be designed as an 'escape' possibility for all of us, it means that grooves have to be made in the ceiling and a regeneration unit placed above it so that I, if I were to use those quarters, could regenerate consciously there."

"Of course," Pagsha agreed.

"So, when are you going to move in?" B'Elanna asked, getting to the heart of the matter. "The Royal Advisor quarters don't need to be ready for that. At least, I don't think that any of us will need that little escape in the first week or two after you move in."

"Do we even have to move in?" Pagsha asked in turn. "I would say that we already did. We have slept here before, I'm sure we can do so again now. Unless you want to make some kind of ceremony out of it, I would say that all we really need to do is to move our personal possessions once our bedroom is finished. I assume that our bedroom will have a walk-in closet that's just as big as the one that you have; more than enough room to store our possessions?"

"Consider it a design must. Your bedroom will mirror ours in size as well as closet room," Seven assured. "We are inviting you into our family. That means that in here you are equal to us; you should not have to stay in a place that makes it clear that it is second place to a 'master bedroom.'"

Then she addressed a different part of what Pagsha had said. "You have slept here before, in B'Elanna and my bed when we happened to have indulged in our special interest of watching and being watched at night, and we saw no reason why you should get dressed only to walk to your quarters and undress there again. You have, however not yet stayed here the night simply to sleep. You have not yet crawled into our bed with the full intent that you will sleep there."

"But," B'Elanna grinned, "Since we were smart enough to get a big bed right from the start so that we have room to move, four people can sleep comfortably in our bed. I'm sure that we can manage for a day or two until we've had that extra bedroom created and decorated."

"So our moving in here exists simply out of us not leaving tonight?" Katzi asked? "I don't know, it sounds a bit anti-climatic."

"What else would you suggest?" Seven asked. "Obviously where you live will also be officially changed. Even though the new quarters will become the Royal Advisor's quarters, we will make it very clear to the Hive that you two now also live in the Royal Quarters. I have a feeling that the Hive will love it that their Queen gets along with one of her guards so well that she considers that guard part of the family."

"Oh, I agree, but that's not what I'm getting at," Katzi assured before adding with a grin, "I was more thinking of a little party. We all like the watch and being watched thing, I say we start out living together by indulging until we can't see straight anymore. But here's the fun part. People that live together should share. So, Pagsha and I go and get our sex toys and then we share. Pagsha and I watch while you two make love using our toys, and then you two watch while Pagsha and I make love using your toys."

"Oh, I like that idea," B'Elanna said happily. "Making love to Seven until I can't move anymore. But fair is fair. We take turns watching and being watched."

"Of course," Katzi happily agreed. "That will give Pagsha and me time to calm down, and get turned on again by seeing you and Seven make love."

"I do sense the ulterior motive of you wanting to get your hands on our toys," Seven pointed out. "Especially the Zamonan one."

Katzi winked before admitting, "Call me weird, but no matter how much watching you two turns me on like crazy, I simply don't get tempted to do more than watch; Pagsha is all the woman I need. But you do have some great toys that I would love to use."

"You can use them, if you clean them," Seven said. "And the same for us with your toys of course. I do not think that I have to point out how important good maintenance of our Zamonan toy is to us."

"Deal," Katzi agreed.

"In fact," B'Elanna spoke up. "Have you tried our suggestion yet? About using a model that enables you to feel what it's like to be inside your Mate?"

"Not yet," Katzi admitted.

"Perfect. You really have to try that. Tonight you can use ours. As incredible as the holographic one felt, the real one feels even better. It's our second favorite toy now."

Katzi nodded. "Alright, tonight is as good a time as any to try." Then she frowned. "We never did see you use that after that time on the holodeck."

"That is because nowadays we do not deliberately plan times where we make love where you can see it," Seven explained. "We normally use 'the sensitive one', as we call that toy only when we plan to use it before we start making love. As B'Elanna just said, the real one feels better then the holographic one. I think that it has to do with the fact that the parts that connect are actually real technology then. So we never bother to create a copy of it on the holodeck. Trust me, as much as you both like to feel something inside you, you will love it."

"So we're having a sex party tonight?" Pagsha clarified.

"You mind, my Mate?" Katzi asked.

"Nope," Pagsha happily assured. "In fact, I look forward to you fucking me again and again tonight." She blushed and lowered her eyes before admitting shyly. "I would really love for you to take me hard and on all fours with the Zamonan toy when we use it the first time. I... after Seven did that to B'Elanna last month I fantasized about you doing that to me. Fantasized several times."

"Ah," Katzi said in understanding. "That explains why you asked me several times the last month to make love to you. Normally I'm the one to decide when we make love; as you like it. You should have told me, I would have obliged before tonight."

Pagsha shook her head. "I like my fantasies. Don't worry, after a few weeks I always tell them to you. But I first want to keep them to myself, fantasize, make me hot, before telling them to you and having them fulfilled for me."

"Well, alright, as long as I get to fulfill them eventually. I love those times; you can never get enough then," Katzi said happily before looking back at her friends. "It seems that you are in for a treat today. You never were present when I fulfilled one of my Mate's fantasies. I'll bet you that she'll be the one that comes the most today, not that I mind making her come."

B'Elanna looked at Seven with a grin. "That sounded like a challenge to me."

"I agree." Seven looked back at her friends before adding, "We will see who will last longer. The two of you, or the two of us."

Pagsha merely shook her head. But privately she was looking forward to it, and was hoping that she and Katzi would go first.

They talked a few minutes more about the benefits of living together in regards to their love for seeing other people having sex. But not much later the discussion moved on, moved to other aspects of living together. Moved to B'Elanna and Katzi arguing, in fun, about just which weapon was more important and needed to get the most prominent place on the wall in the quarters. Then the conversation moved on again to little details, like that some programs needed to be added to the replicator because some of them preferred certain foods to taste just that little bit different.

As she sat there listening, and certainly also contributing, to the discussion, Pagsha realized that this was them. All four of them liked to make love, and the subject was so open to talk about between them as it was to talk about what kind of clothing they preferred. So sex was actually a common subject of discussion between them, even if just for a few minutes, or as a reference, or joke.

But Pagsha realized, that was simply them indulging and talking about something they really loved to do. But the more important part was that it was just a subject, just something to do. This, sitting around the coffee table talking, laughing, having fun. Just like so many times before. This was them. This was family. This was 'her' family.

"What's the matter?" Katzi asked when she saw tears roll down her lover's face. She came closer and softly brushed them away before taking Pagsha in a hug. No matter what, a hug was always a good first step.

"Happy tears," Pagsha assured. "As you know, I never had much of a family life. I was just being fed and taught things that would be beneficial to my future husband. And now. Here I am, sitting with my family." She smiled. "And on top of that I even have a daughter now."

Seven moved over to her and hugged her as well. She placed a kiss on the Ghdibrian's cheek. "That you do, mother to my daughter. That you do. Welcome to the family."

Katzi looked at B'Elanna and lifted her eyebrows. The two of them were the tough ones, the warriors, the ones that didn't do the mushy stuff... in public.

B'Elanna shrugged. She got up and moved around the coffee table as well. Suddenly she grinned and threw herself onto the heap of people that was her family while exclaiming, "Group hug!"


Chapter 55

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

Year 01, Month 10, Day 01, Hour 14, Minute 31.

"It's beautiful," Pagsha said as she looked out over the ocean. Then she turned back to look at the group she was with. Seven and B'Elanna were talking to Queen Erda and Regent Dasia of Zamona. While the rest of the group existed out of Katzi and Anidan and Si'zaG. The three of which were standing closer to Pagsha than the Queens as they waited for the royals to finish their talks. Besides them, the Royal Guards of both sides were there as well, but mostly because it was tradition or mandatory. Both sides understood that they weren't really needed. Something that was further proven by the fact that Katzi, who was also a Royal Guard after all, was considered part of the visiting group and not the guard detail.

Katzi placed an arm around her lover's shoulder. "I never been here before, but Regent Dasia always insisted that the southern part of her province was the most beautiful."

"Then why not settle the village here?" Pagsha asked as she turned further and took in the beautiful nature surrounding them.

"Several reasons," Katzi said before naming a few. "First, beautiful nature is great if you want to enjoy the scenery, but the grounds up north are much better suited to sustain a village. We have the grain fields up there and grain would hardly grow on the ground down here. Don't be fooled by all this lush nature. All of these plants, including the trees, are plants that are specialized in living on grounds that are not that rich in nutrients and a bit acidic on top of it. Plus up north there are more natural resources to be found because we are closer to the mountains. Iron, copper, the salt caves. And it's not like it's bad living up there. In fact, down here a lot of days would be too hot to do the work that needs doing in a living village."

"But for a vacation location hot is good. A fun excuse for another swim," Si'zaG said. Having spent most of her life in fluidic space she loved to swim. 'Like a fish in water', B'Elanna had called it once on the Holodeck. To which Si'zaG had laughed and said, 'no, Like a Siill in fluidic space'.

"True," Katzi agreed. "But there's an even more important reason. Even if the weather patterns of this planet would change, even if natural resources would all dry up, even if every other village on this planet would be deserted for some reason. We Zamonan would never abandon that village. Erdania Village was the place where the Zamonan nation was formed. It was the village that other villages joined as the Nation started to grow. Erdania is the heart of all that is Zamonan. Sure over the centuries every hut has been replaced, and the look has changed as well. It's not like we keep all exactly how it once was. The village should be suited to live in; that's the honorable reminder to history. But still, even people that never saw it, which are actually most Zamonan, would gladly give their life to defend it."

"Unimatrix 01 on village scale," Anidan said.

Katzi shook her head. "No, the Borg are willing to sacrifice Unimatrix 01 if it's truly needed. No, it's more like the spirit of the First Family personified into a village."

"You are part of that First Family now," Anidan reminded.

Katzi merely smiled.

"I am glad that you do not object to us visiting from time to time," Seven said as she strolled along at Queen Erda's side. "As you know, when B'Elanna and I were here on our Vacation with Voyager we actually spent most of our free time in Erdania Village. I also appreciate the fact that you assured us that whenever we stay here we are also welcome to visit Erdania Village. But we also spent quite some time here where Voyager had been landed. It is a beautiful place and we loved our stay here."

"Seven," Queen Erda said, both of them having agreed long ago to do away with formal talk with the exception of the few occasions where it was needed in negotiations. Though this might be only the second time they met in person as Queens, they had formed a good relationship over viewscreen and talked regularly. "Please be assured that we welcome your presence here. You did so much for us, for my people. Our agreement has worked out better than I could have even wished for."

Erda took a moment to look at the tall Zamonan that was in a discussion with some of the others in the group. She had only heard of the woman recently. One of the countless Zamonan warriors that dreamed of becoming a Royal Guard. 'Ironic', She thought, 'She grew up wanting to protect me, and now she would gladly take my life if that was needed to protect her Queen.' Then she chuckled. Well, the mountain of muscles had definitely picked the right Queen. At least now she saw something of the Universe. 'And even found a family on top of that', she added when the words of the other conversation drifted over to her.

"What happened to the parents of your guard?" Erda asked, deliberately using the word 'your' to make it very clear that Zamonan or not, she was not laying a claim to loyalty of the tall woman.

"Katzi, what happened to your parents?" Seven asked a little louder than the level she had been talking at.

Katzi looked over her shoulder and merely said, "I never had any. The Village was my parents."

"Ah," Erda said. When Seven looked at her, she explained. "As you might know, we consider being Mates very important. But being Mates is not a life commitment. You stay together as long as you want to. Some people stay together for their entire life. But some of these bonds stay together long enough and are happy long enough to decide to have a child, before drifting apart. It happens often enough that the parents decide to split up not long after. Sometimes they both keep holding an interest in the child, sometimes only one of them. But sometimes both of them decide that they don't want a child in their life. In situations like this they hand the child, and the responsibility, over to the village. All the people in the village become something of parents then. Teach them what's right and wrong if they see the child doing something wrong. Teach them a profession if the child shows an interest."

"Did you never look for them?" Pagsha wondered, realizing that her lover had never talked about her parents in any way.

"We never do," Katzi explained. "If your parents gave you up it's clear that they didn't want any contact with you. So why bother looking for them? If they want to get back in contact they know where they left you." Katzi shrugged. "For all I know my parents might live in the village I grew up in and I have been interacting with them my entire life. You could say that with Zamonan the ties between parents and children are as easily broken as it is between Mates. For us society is much more important than individual ties. You may not know who your parents are, but every Zamonan is a sister to you."

Katzi placed a kiss on her lover's head. "Don't worry, I have no intention of introducing our daughter to that particular Zamonan custom. Her ties with her parents will be very strong."

"You have a daughter?" Dasia asked surprised. "But how, you... you weren't gone long enough."

"B'Elanna and I are the biological parents of our daughter," Seven explained. "I am the birth mother. However, Pagsha and Katzi are part of our family. As such our daughter is their daughter as well. In other words, Vasha Borg has four mothers and we make no distinction between just which one of them has a biological connection to her."

"Hmm, interesting," Erda said before smiling and adding, "So the next Borg Queen is even a Zamonan. We truly do have a big part in the Borg."

Before anyone of her family could ask, Katzi explained. "If you are family of a Zamonan you are considered a Zamonan, whether you have blood connections or not... as long as you are a woman of course."

"Doesn't that make us Zamonan as well?" B'Elanna asked amused.

"Now that you mention it; it does," Katzi agreed. "Sorry, I never made the connection before Queen Erda just made the reference."

They stepped out of the trees and onto the open place where Voyager had once stood. "Well then, seeing how much we Zamonan are part of the Borg Royal Family, I think it's only fair if part of Zamona would be seen as home to the Royal Family. After all, for every Zamonan home is Zamona."

Seven opened her mouth, but Erda lifted her hand. "I know that Unimatrix 01 is your home. But that doesn't mean that you can't have a home away from home. You would honor us greatly if you would consider a part of Zamona your second home. Since you like this place so much, and we Zamonan have never used it for any duration of time because it isn't fit to sustain a permanent settlement, please accept this location as a gift to the First Family."

"A gift to the Borg Collective which happens to be used by the First Family," Katzi corrected. "They are very precise about things like that."

Erda dipped her head. "Of course. A good approach. So let me correct myself. Please, do accept this location and all within a day's walk from here as Borg territory from now on. I merely ask that the same rules are followed that are followed on the planets you terraformed for us."

"Oh, I think we could be persuaded to make sure that nature is respected here," B'Elanna assured. "Just a couple of cabins really. But are you sure?"

"Positive," Erda insisted. "That way you can also come by at any time without having to make many arrangements. Since it's Borg territory then you can simply beam down whenever you want. I think we will notice your ship hanging in space soon enough so you wouldn't even have to let us know that you are coming. Unless you need to speak to me of course."

"You have some excellent arguments," Seven said, basically accepting for them. None of them felt that it was the right place to point out that technically all of Zamonan territory was Borg territory these days. "I accept your gift in name of the Borg Collective. Thank you."

Dasia pointed in the direction of the ocean. "When Voyager was here you set up a sonic fence in the ocean. Are you planning to do the same this time? If so you might want to look into some permanent structure that can be switched on and off."

"No need," B'Elanna assured as she pointed up at the sky, indicating the starship up there that was bigger than two of Zamona's three moons. "Whenever we leave Unimatrix 01 we're under constant transporter lock. We'll use that. We simply have sensors scan the area constantly and then have them beam any dangerous animal away from us when they come too close. Just far enough so that they'll still recognize the smells and signs of the territory they're living in."

Erda nodded, glad to hear it. "Very well. Now please allow me to change the subject. And I want to make it clear that I'm truly changing the subject and that the following is not in any way connected to us offering part of our world as a home for you."

Seven merely nodded slightly.

"You see, I have a niece," Erda started. "A nice girl but sadly not suited for... well much really. I swear, if you ask her to carry three eggs across the room she will forget one, break the second, and then ask you why she's carrying one egg across the room again."

"A mental handicap?" Seven asked.

"Sadly, no," Erda sighed. "Our doctors assure me that she's perfectly alright. Do you know that we Zamonan believe that there must be a balance in nature? My niece proves it."

Erda reached into a pouch hanging from her belt and produced a piece of paper. She handed it to Seven who realized that it was a picture. Seven's eyes widened and she reluctantly handed the image to her Mate.

"Katzi is a member of my family," Seven said as B'Elanna passed the picture on, "But I think that she will not be offended but instead agree with me when I say that your niece is the most gorgeous Zamonan I have ever seen."

Erda nodded. "I agree. And you just see a two dimensional image of her. In real life she looks even better. And her voice. She has a voice that could make a wet dream sit up and take notes on how it's done right. But remember that balance I talked about and now guess what her brain is like."

Seven winced slightly.

"At the moment her looks are her living," Erda explained. "Meaning that she doesn't really have to take care of herself because there's always someone eager to be her Mate. It never lasts though. After a few weeks, a few months at most, they realized that a hot body is great, but you are better off having an average looking Mate that can actually carry a conversation and that isn't so stupid that she forgets to eat. I'm not kidding; that does happen sometimes. I fear for her. Sooner or later she will get a Mate who wants more of her than merely her body and that will start abusing her. And if not that, what will happen later? When her looks leave her and nobody wants to be Mated with such an idiot. Don't get me wrong, I love her dearly, but she 'is' an idiot."

"You want her to join the Borg," Seven said. "You hope that our implants will help." She nodded. "They might. Or it might be a medical problem that is beyond the Zamonan medical field and that implants are not even needed. But I do not see why you do not simply have her enter one of the Borg representative buildings and join in the normal way?"

"Ah, and there is where the real problem lies," Erda sighed. She accepted the picture that was handed back to her and put it away. "We tried explaining the Borg and that they can help her. But she simply doesn't understand the concept of the Borg. Her mothers tried explaining it several times, I was there once and, really, they were using small words. And in the end she asked, 'so what you are saying is that they don't live in this province? And help me with what again'?"

"You want us to give her implants without her consent," B'Elanna said in understanding. "We do our damn hardest to stay away from situations like that. We don't accept people that can't truly make the choice themselves."

"You don't?" Erda asked. "You take in the outcasts from every species that comes knocking. You honestly want to tell me that there was never a single case in which family members assured your recruiters that someone really wanted to join the Borg but that expressing that want is now not possible. There are always exceptions."

Startled by her own forceful words, Erda apologized. "Forgive me my bluntness. As I said, I do fear for her and I don't want her to lose her chance merely because she doesn't understand things like what 'implant' means."

"What we could do," Seven said slowly while thinking about the problem. "We could have our doctors look at her here on the planet, visit her village. Maybe it is something simple that is easy to cure on the spot. If not then we can go a step further and give her removable implants, including temporary links to external devices that mimic the function of brain implants, including the replacement of parts of the brain. That is what I offer you. I am willing to approve temporary measures if they are needed. And then if she is able to make a free and informed choice, then it will be her choice and we will respect the outcome. If she wants to stay with the Borg then we will give her permanent implants. If she wants the implants but not join then we will do so and wave the contract and have the Zamonan pay us back in some way."

"Pay you back?" Erda asked.

"I do not mind bending the rules I make on occasion," Seven explained. "I do know that it is needed sometimes. Most species in the Borg had a saying before assimilation that went along the lines of, 'rules exist to be broken'. It is impossible for rules to apply to each situation, especially on a scale like the Borg where millions of situations are happening every hour. So I prefer to bend rules if needed. Because the more you accept that sometimes rules need to be bent, the less you need to actually break rules. I do not break rules if I can prevent it in any way because that way the rules are still there and still in tact."

"Just a little bent," B'Elanna added. "And the only danger there is that it's easier to bend them a second time. But still better then completely breaking them."

"Indeed," Seven agreed before giving a suggestion on how the bending could be done this time. "The agreement was that a Zamonan that receives implants will serve in the Borg Collective for one year. If your niece receives implants and does not serve, then we demand that year of service from someone else."

Seven gave one of her rare and small smirks. "Katzi's contract with the Borg has ended some time ago and she is now staying because she wants to. But she is no longer under contract. I believe that it is safe to say that Katzi would be willing to enter into a new one year contract with the Borg where she performs the job she is performing now. Maybe a little present for her former Queen?"

A low chuckle from the tall Zamonan was all the answer that was needed.

"I see, bending the rules, not breaking them," Erda said in understanding.

"However," Seven said before the Zamonan Queen could say more. "If your niece has the temporary implants and then states clearly that she does not want to join the Borg or receive any implants permanently, then the temporary implants will be removed and she will be returned to the planet unchanged."

"Thank you," Erda said sincerely. "That's all I want, that she can make a choice and understand what she's choosing about. If she declines then... so be it. How, how big are the chances of that happening? Her being able to understand her choice?"

"I am not a doctor, nor have I examined your niece," Seven reminded. "However from past experience I can with almost absolute certainty assure you that she will be able to make that choice. But there is something you should keep in mind, and you should warn her parents as well. If she takes the implants then she 'will' change. She will remember you, but she will not be the woman you knew. Personalities change when rational thinking and extraordinary deduction abilities are introduced. You say that you love her dearly, it might be that you end up not being able to stand her."

Erda smiled. "If that happens I'll be glad to unfortunately always be too busy to see her. I'll gladly never see her again while knowing that she can take care of herself, over seeing her often and knowing every time that she won't be alright."

"And if she wants to join the Borg?" Seven asked.

Erda smiled again. "Then I can only wish that she'll be as lucky as your guard was and finds her destiny."

"So what do you think?" B'Elanna asked Anidan and Si'zaG once the Zamonan party had left.

"I think it's a great place," Si'zaG assured, which was followed by an agreeing nod from her Mate.

"Great, so where do you want your cabin?" B'Elanna asked with a grin. "But I claim this spot here for the First Family's cabin." B'Elanna looked out over the ocean and then turned to look into the forest. "Oh yeah, right here."

"A cabin?" Anidan asked.

"Sure," B'Elanna affirmed. "This is basically the same as the holodeck. We love to have people around, just that we also love to do things we don't want others to see or hear."

"And in that regard," Seven said as she joined them together with Katzi and Pagsha. "Since this is a real location and not a holodeck, you might want to pick a spot that is a little away. To also have some sound privacy when we... separate to pursue more personal fun."

"Are you sure you want us here?" Anidan persisted. "I mean, I wouldn't mind and you know how much Si'zaG loves the water. But you won't come here for just a few hours. Nor can you throw up some convenient holographic wall for privacy. Are you sure you want to restrain yourself for entire days and just pursue personal fun, as you call it, at night."

"We enjoy your company," Seven assured. "Besides, we do not have to restrain ourselves all the time; you do. You could not care less if we had sex right in front of you. At most you might get bored because we are not talking to you and are busy doing something else. So as far as that is concerned you are a lot like our guards. We have made love several times with them in the room because we know that once they are linked, which they were then, we can ignore them because all that is considered irrelevant is filtered out and even they themselves will not remember what their eyes might have seen. So if urges become too much for us, we can give in on the spot. It is you who cannot."

"No we can't," Anidan agreed. "The raunchy lot of you would enjoy the show way too much."

B'Elanna laughed. "True. Come on, it'll be fun. Tell you what, we'll try to restrain ourselves if you and/or Si'zaG are with us. But if temptation does become too much for us you just leave to go do stuff you actually find interesting. On the flip side, we promise to not make any remarks when you and your Mate disappear to your cabin suddenly."

"Oh so you get to fool around in the forest, on the beach, and in the water, and we are stuck in the cabin," Anidan said while crossing her arms. But her friends knew her well enough to realize that the answer was actually an agreement to the idea of spending time there with the First Family when they went for a little vacation.

Si'zaG kissed her Mate's shoulder and took her in a hug from behind. "My love is right. It's really fun to make love in a liquid, if you know how to do it."

"How about those rocks over there?" Pagsha suggested as she pointed across the small cove that was to the side of where they were standing. The cove had been the place where a lot of the Voyager crew had preferred to swim back then because the water was calmer there. "See how behind those rocks the beach curls around and out of view?"

She made a sweeping motion with her arm across the horizon. "We could consider all of this open territory where we all can have fun... normal fun I mean and maybe do other fun as well. Then we even have that cove of calmer water where we can go and play with Vasha, or just lie on a float in calm water. But we won't go further than those rocks, and the area after them we consider Anidan and Si'zaG's personal territory where they can go to if they want some time alone, no matter why they want that time for. We only go there if they invite us over."

B'Elanna nodded her agreement. "Good idea. And there's enough forest on that outcrop there for you to enjoy a little bit of forest for yourself as well. Because it's on that outcrop we can't wander into it without noticing it if we decide to take a stroll in the forest."

Giving in completely, Anidan pointed. "Then how about that spot over there for our cabin? It's closer to our territory while still being in shouting distance from your cabin. Plus over there we'll have a great view over the cove."

Seven guessed the spot to be about two minutes walking distance away from where they were standing. She dipped her head in approval of the suggestion.

"What are we going to do with our friends here?" Katzi asked as she pointed to the rest of the Royal Guards. "The deal is where you go, they go. Vacation spot or not."

B'Elanna left out a breath of air in a rush and scratched her head. "Now that's a tough one. It doesn't seem fair to have them standing around all the time as linked drones when we're here. They may be our guards, but they're people too, and it simply isn't fair to have them not enjoy their time while being in a place like this. More so exactly because they are our guards. They can't plan normal vacations like anyone else on Unimatrix 01. They need to be where we are. Maybe they should be able to enjoy one of those vacation spots as their own vacation spot. On the other hand, while we're comfortable with them around linked, I really don't think that we want them running around while not linked. I for one don't want to start wearing bathing clothes again simply because one of the guards might see us. But, Katzi is right, the deal is that where Seven goes, they go. So?"

"Maybe we can compromise," Anidan suggested. "Queen Rena gave the Collective a territory the size of a day's walk in any direction from where we're standing now. We have an active sensor scan going as it is so we know if a Humanoid enters this territory. And on top of that, no matter how far away they are, with our Borg link they're still only a proverbial shout away. Maybe they could have their own cabin further in that direction there."

She pointed down the beach in the other direction of the cove. "Far enough away that we won't bump into them accidentally if we're out on a stroll, yet close enough that they can still reach us in a decent amount of time if by some miracle all Borg technology suddenly failed and Unimatrix 01 suddenly can't beam us up anymore."

"It's still stretching the 'accompany Seven at all times' thing to the extreme," Pagsha noted.

"Yeah, I know," Anidan agreed. "But come on. We have Unimatrix 01 right above us which has an ongoing scan on all of us. Plus we have an otherwise deserted area and we won't even beam you down if a Humanoid is found in the area when we arrive. Plus we can place a permanent scanner here with its own power source. We can build it right into the cabin. That way the place would even be monitored if you're not here and before you beam down you can check if anyone was here and might have tampered with the place."

"Plus we still have one guard with us," Pagsha said as she lifted her lover's hand; a not so subtle reminder that Katzi actually had a beam weapon build into her arm and was literally armed every second of the day.

Then she pointed at Si'zaG. "And a Siill. Si'zaG might not be a warrior, but she's still strong enough to rip most humanoids in half, literally with a lot of species. And she's immune to phasers, and she can walk through force fields, and she can fight to protect."

She then indicated B'Elanna. "And let's not forget that one of the people that is normally guarded is by now such a skilled fighter that she herself could function as a guard."

They started to walk down to the water's edge, not really sure who had taken the first step.

"We have good arguments," Seven noted. "And we should incorporate the security measures like the permanent scan. But you know what I think we should do as well?"

"Let me guess," B'Elanna said while rolling her eyes. "You think that since this is Borg territory, other Borg should be able to use it as well. Just because it's a vacation spot for us doesn't mean that others can't use it if we aren't here."

"You are very correct," Seven agreed. "We can have our personal cabins that are only to be used by us, and we can have a cabin... a few cabins... that are only to be used by the guards and family. But we could also have some cabins that are set a little further into the forest that are to be used by other Borg if we are not visiting. Just that when we are visiting than we will be the only Borg here and they have to find their entertainment elsewhere."

"Wouldn't that mean that we have to do what we didn't want?" Pagsha asked. "Wasn't part of the reason to have a vacation place on Zamona that we could go there if the mood strikes us, without many arrangements? If other people can use this place as well, you need to let them know when we plan to be here so that they can make plans. And just who will be allowed to vacation here? You don't want it to be

too crowded, so that by definition means that only a few people can come here."

B'Elanna took of her shoes and socks and started to walk through the water. "I think I have the perfect answer for both. How about we make vacationing here a reward? Something that is given to people for some achievement, something that the Hive feels that needs rewarding. We let them make the choice. And then if we come here and people are here on vacation? Well if we come here, we do it with Unimatrix 01. So we simply let them play on the Royal Holodeck while we're here. I mean, it's just like that whole thing about being selected for one of the professions, like the ATSD. The Royal Holodeck is only used by us and the Senior staff and whichever family and friends they bring along. So imagine this conversation."

She hit Katzi against her arm with the back of her hand and then started to say with an excited voice. "So I was given some time on Zamona at the Royal resort for what I did." Another hit. "But oh then it got even better. The Queen showed up for a vacation and we were allowed to have use of the Royal Holodeck for the duration of their vacation on Zamona." Another hit. "Can you believe it? I've actually been on Unimatrix 01, and I even had my vacation in the Royal holodeck." Another hit. "Can you believe that?"

Katzi captured her friend's hand on the next travel to the arm. "If you hit me again I'll rip your hand off."

"You and what army?" B'Elanna asked with a grin. "Remember, I'm Princess of Borg. Mine is bigger then yours."

"Your what?" Katzi countered. "Your army or your ego?"

Before B'Elanna could react, Seven interrupted. "Stop playing children. Knowing you, one of you will be pushed into the water in the next few minutes."

B'Elanna gave her lover a playful push, away from the water actually since B'Elanna was closer. But that was just details. "So what? The water is nice and warm."

Seven moved quickly and lifted her lover up. Not caring in the least about her shoes, she walked into the water until it almost touched her leather skirt, which was halfway down her thigh and dumped the by now squealing Klingon into the water.

"Phe thep. You just wait until I get my hands on you woman," B'Elanna growled as she surfaced and wiped the water from her face.

Seven kneeled in the water, helped her lover to a sitting position and then kissed her passionately.

"But I love your hands on me," Seven reminded once they broke apart. Then she helped B'Elanna up and they walked back to their waiting friends. Seven was not really the worse for wear, her leather Zamonan clothing didn't have many problems with getting wet. But B'Elanna's more recreational clothing was absolutely drenched and would probably need half an hour or so to dry, despite the warm weather.

"I should have worn my Zamonan clothing as well," B'Elanna said thoughtfully. "Or my uniform. That would've been even better since it repels water yet lets sweat vapor through."

"And keeps cool in warm weather, and warm in cold weather," Anidan added, who was wearing her uniform.

"I like your idea for letting people that are here stay on the holodeck instead when we come by," Seven said, getting the focus back on the subject. "Shall we see this evening what the Hive thinks?"

"We shall," B'Elanna agreed. "You know, I was thinking. If we're going to have extra cabins why not make it tree cabins? With those strong trees we could have cabins up in the trees, and have connection bridges between cabins. It would be like having a huge tree house."

"I saw something like that once on my Homeworld before the Borg came," Anidan spoke up. "It looked like fun but I wasn't allowed in them because my parents thought that I was too young." She chuckled. "Which I most definitely was back then. They had these walkways that..."

Part 56

Return to Voyager T/7 Fiction

Return to Main Page