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

By H.W.


Chapter 61

Seven took position behind the podium and started to speak. "I would say 'good day', but I have a feeling that you will not perceive it as such. Instead let me introduce myself. I am One of Many, née Annika Hansen; Queen of Borg. I came here under good faith to normalize the Borg/Federation relationship, only to be attacked unprovoked. As a security measure we took the step of occupying Earth on a temporary basis. Please do not try anything foolish. At the moment there are over half a billion Borg drones on Earth; you would not be successful in resisting. And even if you were, that would only result in us bringing in more drones. If need be until each and every person on Earth is outnumbered two to one and literally has two guards standing beside them at any moment. Rest assured that this is only temporary and that we will hand control of Earth back to you as soon as the situation has worked itself out."

"That's what the Cardassians said as well."

Seven guessed that the Bajoran who had mumbled those words had not expected that Seven could hear her, but Seven chose to address it nevertheless.

"Someone here in the front just pointed out; 'That's what the Cardassians said as well'. I do not know if they used the same exact words when they occupied Bajor. But let me assure you that there is one big difference between us and the Cardassians."

Knowing that everyone could see her because of the huge viewscreen, Seven lifted her hand and extended her assimilation tubes. She figured that since the Federation didn't know about the new ways of the Borg, she might as well use the horror image that most of them had about the Borg.

"If we truly wanted to control Earth we would not have to occupy it; after thirty minutes of mass assimilation you would be doing it for us. We would not need to leave drones here to keep you under control; you would gladly follow our every command, including the one of assimilating the person standing beside you. If we wanted Earth that badly, it would now be considered ours."

Then she placed her hand back on the speaker podium. "But we do not want that. The Borg Collective has changed. We are no longer the evil you all perceive us to be; but we can still be a deadly threat if provoked. Please do not provoke us. You will be in control of this planet again soon. Until that time you are free to move around on Starfleet headquarters and Academy grounds, but not to leave those. You are free to use communications to contact other people to let them know that you are still alright. But also know that all these drones you see around you have the order to stop any form of resistance; with deadly force if need be. Please, do not try to be a hero; you would only die a fool."

Seven looked at the sea of people for a moment before fixing on a person about twenty rows into the mass of people. "Admiral Alynna Nechayev, could you join me please; I believe we have a few things to discuss."

Seven stepped away from the podium and Nechayev slowly came closer. She reached them just in time to hear Seven address one of the Zamonan commanders. "Be kind, but firm. If our people need to defend themselves, do so in whatever means necessary. But this is considered a friendly encounter. If someone is killed by one of ours, a mind scan will be performed and the person will be punished accordingly if there is reason to."

"Yes, my Queen," the Zamonan ground commander of the assigned district assured.

Dismissing the commander, Seven looked at the blonde admiral in silence for a moment. From the files she had on Federation personnel, Seven knew the woman to be fifty-five years old, driven, determined, and someone that was consider cold, aloof, and distanced. In short, Seven realized, a woman she would come to either like or hate; with no middle ground. But then, that didn't really matter. One could work very well with people one hated, as long as both sides acted professional. "Admiral, please walk with me."

Knowing that she didn't have much choice, Nechayev did so.

"I must admit that I'm surprised to find you here on Starfleet headquarters grounds, and yet not participating in talks with the Borg Collective. Would you mind explaining to me why the Commander-in-Chief of Starfleet would opt to have two admirals negotiate with me, very poorly I might add, instead of doing it herself?"

Nechayev clearly looked confused. "It's what you asked for yourself," she finally said with a frown. "You had Janeway here clearly state that you did not want to talk to me because you knew that I would be an 'insecure factor' since I have a personal reason to hate the Borg."

"You do?" Seven asked, then she looked at Janeway, "And when did you state that? I was present when you talked to Admiral Paris."

"I never did say that," Janeway assured. "Why would I? Besides, Admiral Nechayev is in the end my direct commanding officer. I can't tell her to stay away; at the best I can suggest it."

With that Seven looked back at Nechayev. "We need a place to talk, do you have suggestions? And please, not again a place with phasers and gas emitters in it."

Nechayev actually stopped walking. "They took you to one of the high security rooms? That was not the plan."

"It seems that more questions come up with every word we speak," Seven noted. "Please, suggest a location to talk."

"Actually, if I may suggest one," Janeway spoke up. "Not far that way is a nice place where Starfleet people often go to eat lunch. It's a nice day out, and you have enough security with you to clear out the area so that nobody can hear what we talk about. There are tables there that are big enough to seat all of us, even the guards if you want to."

"That would do, if you want to stay outside," Nechayev agreed.

Not much later they were sitting at one of the tables. Pagsha had opted to sit beside Seven and B'Elanna, while Katzi had set down beside Janeway, who was sitting beside Nechayev. That way Katzi could look past Seven and keep security in her mind while the other three Royal Guards had taken position behind Seven. The Advanced Tactical Security Detail under command of Maindi, that had not left Seven's side ever since exiting the corridor, had now once more taken up their protective circle a little further away from the table so that they could provide security, but not crowd the people at the table.

"Very well," Seven started. "Admiral, you said that it was not the plan to bring me to what you call a 'high security room'. Why not?" Seven thought that she knew, but she needed to be sure if there were at least some intelligent people in Starfleet.

"What's the use?" Nechayev asked. "We know that the Borg are technologically highly advanced. You have body armor that our phasers can't get through, and it's a known fact that Borg drones can be in outer space without a spacesuit. So what's the use in bringing you into a room that has Phasers in it and cyanide gas? You just hold your breath and beam out."

"Admirals Hendricks and T'Lara seemed to think that it was enough of an insurance that I was on Earth and 'secured' for the Borg to be at their total mercy."

Nechayev just looked at her in disbelief.

"She's right," Janeway added.

"That's total nonsense," Nechayev said dismissively. "Even if we had you in our power here, the Borg could one-up us by simply threatening to destroy Mars and our colonies there if we didn't free you. Or what about destroying our moon? Without the moon, and the resulting lack of tides, Earth would be condemned to a slow death. Look, I honestly don't know what got into Hendricks and T'Lara, but I can tell you that this was not done at my command. We have a war going on with the Dominion; the last thing I want is to pick a fight with the Borg as well when I might be able to prevent that by nothing more than play nice to their Queen."

Seven was able to hide her amusement, barely, but B'Elanna smirked. Then the Klingon asked, "Then I assume that you also claim that you have no knowledge of your fleet up there, or about them attacking our ship?"

Once again Nechayev looked at Janeway.

"True," Janeway assured. "Hendricks is the one that gave the order for attack."

"I'll have those morons court-martialed," Nechayev said furiously. "Of course I knew about the fleet; that was on my order. You can't hold it against us to be prepared."

"We do not," Seven assured.

"But I can assure you that I had given Hendricks the very clear order that he was only allowed to attack when you had made the first move; hostile move that is."

"Very well, then please explain what you mean with you having a personal reason to hate the Borg. And you said that Kathryn clearly said that I did not wish to speak to you?"

"T'Lara showed me the recording that Paris made. In it Kathryn clearly stated that I should not be seen during negotiations; that was one of your demands."

"I said no such thing," Janeway assured.

"And I can confirm that," Seven added. "I was there during that conversation. For some of it I was off screen, but I never left the room. And it is also impossible for her to have contacted Starfleet after that because first of all we would have picked up the signal, and second of all with the MIDAS array having powered down after the transmission, Voyager could only have contacted Starfleet with the help of Borg technology. I assure you, no such signal was sent. Your personal reason?"

"My personal reason for hating the Borg?" Nechayev asked. "Easy, during the battle of Wolf 359, a family member of mine was killed by you."

"Not by me; by the Borg," Seven corrected. She knew what Nechayev meant, but still wanted to make it clear that she herself had nothing to do with it.

"Same difference," Nechayev dismissed.

"I disagree. During the battle of Wolf 359, I was still a Borg drone that was under the full control of the Hive mind, which in turn was controlled by the old Queen. I am sorry for your loss. However, I do not consider myself responsible for it. We are no longer the Collective that we were then. That Collective was under the control of a Queen whose power had made her believe that she was an omnipotent being. Well, she did not literally think that, but over time I have found that this is the easiest way to explain to people the kind of mindset that Queen had in general. With me the Borg Collective has changed. I am still in control of the Collective, but now because they give me that control. The Collective has changed to where individuality is now once more appreciated. They have come to realize that individuality does not by definition mean the end of a united Borg Collective; that in fact individuality can enhance the united feeling of the Collective."

Seven hesitated before explaining, "In the Collective there are billions of people that have assimilated others; me included. The Collective has destroyed thousands of cultures by turning species into drones that did not care about their former culture. Planets had been destroyed, wars have been started; billions have been killed. In short, people were right to call the Borg Collective an evil unlike any other. But we do not have omnipotent powers, we cannot turn back time. What happened is in the past. We can either feel shame and crippling remorse for those actions that we had no control over, or we can take the Borg Collective as a fact and use it to better the life of trillions. I have decided to do the latter. The past has happened, and while I will express remorse for pain that people had to suffer, and apologize for that pain. I will not apologize for actions of the Collective that were made before I became their Queen. For better or worse; all of them were needed to result in where we are today."

"And just how was Wolf 359 needed, other than 40,000 Federation people being killed?" Nechayev asked bitterly.

"Wolf 359 made the Federation aware of the Borg. If Wolf 359 had not happened, Voyager would not have been prepared for the Borg when they met them the first time and would have been assimilated or destroyed then. The information of Wolf 359 prevented that. It is because of this that Voyager survived to the point where Captain Janeway could form a temporary alliance with the Collective in the battle with the Siill. And it is this that resulted in me becoming part of the Voyager crew. This in turn resulted in me meeting my Mate B'Elanna Torres. Who on her turn was able to convince the Borg Collective to let me have my individuality as Queen. This in turn resulted in us being able to change the Borg. This in turn resulted in us now talking, instead of you now being a Borg drone. One of Earth's scientists from the past once said; to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That statement is outdated since we now know that the reactions can be bigger than the original action. At Wolf 359, 40,000 people died, and because of that today the four billion inhabitants on Earth were not assimilated."

"Now, why don't we discuss something just as interesting," B'Elanna asked. "You keep coming back to Wolf 359. If you feel that Seven is responsible for that, then should we hold you responsible for your attack on Unimatrix 01? If you had managed to destroy our home, you would've killed two billion drones."

B'Elanna smirked before continuing. "You say that you didn't give the order, but as Commander-in-Chief you're responsible for all Starfleet actions. So, should we start trialing you for the attempted murder of two billion people? Or should we stop the pissing contest and simply say that all that happened until this minute is in the past, and we go on from here?"

"I'm listening," Nechayev said after a moment of hesitation.

"Actually, if I may point out," Pagsha spoke up. "I think that the situation with Admirals Hendricks and T'Lara needs more attention. Nobody in the position of command can be that stupid. Admiral Nechayev just had a good point. They have a war going on, so why do their best to pick a fight with someone that's not coming for that fight? We have almost fifteen thousand species in the Collective. And even the few species that never had a single war in their history still have, because of person to person reasons, a version of the saying, 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend.' So,"

"So," Seven said in understanding. "Why try to alienate a potential 'friend?' Why do the best to not just turn us away, but instead even try to get us hostile towards the Federation? Why not instead get down on their knees and appeal to our conscience? Why not have some of B'Elanna's Academy teachers be present to greet us, and then in a 'by the way' manner talk about the war and just how much the Federation is in need of help. Why not plead to the fact that I, the Borg Queen, am Human, and how the Dominion wants to destroy all of Humanity?"

"The way there were acting you would be forgiven to think that they were working for the Dominion," B'Elanna noted. "That could be the only winner from their behavior. Either we would've had enough and just left; depriving the Federation of a powerful ally. Or in the best case scenario for the Dominion we would even have decided to start war on the Federation."

"At which time the Dominion could come in and try to get in contact with us so that we could join forces to destroy the evil Federation," Pagsha added. "If they had been working for the Dominion then all of this would at least make some kind of sense. I mean, let's think for a moment. Forget about alliance, friend, or enemy. The last anyone here in the Alpha Quadrant knows we are a ruthless, cold, and emotionless evil that is set to destroy or assimilate all. The only counter to that knowledge is the contact Kathryn had with Admiral Paris. If we are that evil force, then why poke us like Hendricks and T'Lara did? If we truly were that evil, they could have provoked us right into simply destroying, or at least assimilating, Earth."

"Where are they now, by the way?" Nechayev asked. "If you didn't know things that you can only know by them having done as you said, and the fact that Captain Janeway was present, I would never believe any of this. Hendricks and T'Lara have a perfect track record."

But only moments after saying this, Nechayev frowned.

"What?" B'Elanna asked.

"It's nothing," Nechayev assured.

"Admiral, strange things are going on here," Janeway reminded. "'Nothing' might actually be 'something'."

"Well," Nechayev hesitated. "Look, I just don't want to sound as if I'm trying to find excuses."

"Try me," Seven suggested.

"It's just that Hendricks made some bad choices lately. All explainable, and all understandable... but still. But more interesting, I had to give T'Lara a reprimand last week for neglect of duty. Was it someone else it would not be worth mentioning. We all have those reprimands; even I get them from time to time from the Federation President. But we're talking about T'Lara: a Vulcan. For her getting such a reprimand is like a huge insult. Yet there was no real reaction. Well, not that you see much reactions with Vulcans, but still."

"What if they were working for the Dominion for real?" B'Elanna wondered. "As I said, that's the only explanation that makes sense."

"No," Nechayev said resolutely. "I know both of them for years, and on top of that they both have passed their annual test with our Betazoid councilor for years."

"But what if it's not them?" B'Elanna reasoned. "We're talking about a species of shape shifters. And your annual test is just that; annual. That's a damn long time to do stuff if they had been replaced shortly after their test."

"We have put security measures in place to prevent that," Nechayev reminded.

"Security can be bypassed," Seven countered. "But we can find it out within one minute. If they truly are Changelings than it would make even more sense because then you have another option to add to the mix. Not only that we destroy Earth or align ourselves with the Dominion because of apparent Starfleet actions, but maybe the one we did; beam them to the ship for safekeeping. How about that for an option? A changeling taking over the position of Borg Queen and be in control of the Borg Collective."

Both Nechayev and Janeway blanched at the mere suggestion.

"It would not work," Seven assured, "But just like you, they would not know that. If this option is viable then they would assume that they would be beamed to a holding cell, where they can first act like they were Borg that were placed there by the escaped Admirals. And once out they could search me out and take my place."

"And why would this not work?" Nechayev asked worried.

"Because we have no holding cells. We have no crime in the Collective, not even something as simple as petty theft. This because people know that they would not get away with their actions; their mind is scanned every seventy-two hours. So in the rare occasions where we have to confine people because of outside influences, like now, we simply hold those people inside the transporter buffer until we can deal with them further. We felt that this is a good option because there they do not notice the passing of time, even if we have to hold them as a pattern for weeks. This is also why we can easily check if they are shape shifters; we can simply have one of our doctors analyze their pattern."

Seven paused for a moment to let them contemplate that. "As you see, even trying to get into position to take my place is basically impossible. And even if this was not the case, we still have our implants. Even as I speak, I am connected to the Hive mind. If I were killed so that others could take my place, the entire Collective would know. The same if they managed to hold me prisoner in some secret location. Either I could let the Hive know over my link, or they would still know that something is wrong if the changelings managed to interrupt my link. I sincerely doubt that they would be able to mimic the implants, and have things like our neural link work. And even if they managed all of that by some miracle, they would be found out the first time they regenerated."

"Good point," Nechayev said relieved. "Even Odo can't mimic something as simple as a communicator; he has a real one with him all the time that he absorbs into his body if he changes shape."

"Our best doctor, doctor Lonika, just had a look at the transporter buffer. He told me that he needs more time for a detailed analysis, but he could tell me that on a DNA level the beings in the buffer are neither Human, nor Vulcan."

Seven hesitated before adding, "My personal guess is that they are indeed Changelings. You might want to give us a scan of Constable Odo to do a comparison to be absolutely sure."

Despite the situation, Nechayev smirked. "I guess that this is the time for me to tell you that I don't believe you; why should I?"

It was B'Elanna that answered. "You don't have to believe us. Frankly you don't have a choice. If we say they're Changelings, you need to act like they are, even if you really think they aren't. Cold, but true; two people sacrificed to potentially get the help of the Borg in your war. I think that even the real Hendricks and T'Lara, if they're still alive, would want you to take that chance."

Nechayev nodded. Each and every Starfleet officer was assumed to be willing to sacrifice their life in the line of duty if it was needed. She knew that she herself would be the first to step up and say 'kill me' if it was assured the help of a party that could help win the war.

"I'm a bit surprised that they didn't take your place, Admiral," Pagsha noted. "If they managed to get into Starfleet command, then why not go all the way to the top?"

"Actually, I'm surprised that they would go as high as the full Admiral level," Nechayev countered, deciding to believe these people on the fact that Hendricks and T'Lara were not what they had presented themselves to be. It was the only thing that made all other parts make sense.

"Why?" Pagsha asked confused.

"Well, to answer your question of 'why not me' first; because unlike if they were to replace your Queen here, I'm a one time deal. If they were to replace me then, yes, they would get their hands on all kind of interesting information, but they couldn't use it. I have information that only I, the Federation President, and one or two people that were affected know. If the Dominion were to use that they could get away with it once because then the choice would be between the people I just mentioned. But use a second piece of information, then you know right away that either I or the President is to blame because now those other people are no longer in the picture since it's on a different subject and it concerns other people. On top of that if I, or the other higher admirals, make a big mistake once then we're done. While they don't have as much power, in Starfleet it is actually the Captains, Commodores, and Rear-Admirals that can get away with the most screw-ups. I, if I make a mistake I'll be 'politely' asked to resign; leave Starfleet entirely. But if a Rear-Admiral messes up, he's demoted to Commodore, and if he messes up there he's demoted to Captain. And Captains on their turn have an autonomy that even Commodores and rear-Admirals no longer have."

Nechayev pointed at Kathryn before adding, "Take Captain Janeway here. I know from her files that were sent to us over the last months that she's made some choices that deserve a court-martial. Yet when all is said and done she'll probably end up with a range of commendations and maybe even a promotion to Commodore or rear-Admiral. Why? Because out there she was Starfleet. For years her voice was our voice. She did right, and she did wrong, and in the end the balance is positive. But if an Admiral makes a wrong choice today, they have to give explanations tomorrow. In other words, we don't get the luxury of time to make good choices that balance out our bad ones. With us every bad choice is evaluated on a one on one basis while the good ones are merely us doing our job."

Then Nechayev looked back at Seven. "If you don't mind, I would like to have custody over them."

"I am sure you would," Seven said amused.

"So what are you planning to do now?" Janeway asked, having a feeling that Seven would only hand over the two impostors when, and if, she was ready.

Seven thought about the question for a moment. "I would say that this is simple. It seems that both sides want the Borg in the war. I am going to do just that."

"And on what side?" Nechayev couldn't help but ask.

"On our own side."

"Don't you just love it when she gives answers like that," B'Elanna asked with a chuckle. Then looking at her Mate she asked, "Care to be a bit more precise than that?"

"Not now. Once we are back on the ship we will be having a meeting with the Senior Staff and walk through options. But I can tell you that as far as I am concerned the First Fleet will see some action soon."

"The First Fleet?" Janeway asked.

"One of the changes we made to the Borg," Seven explained. "Before, cubes were assigned a task depending on who was the closest. While in emergencies we still do that, we created the 'First Fleet' as an armed force that will be sent in to deal with conflicts if we do have the luxury of time. It exists out of cubes with advanced weapons and shields."

"And just how many cubes are we talking about?" Nechayev asked.

"The First Fleet exists out of 50,000 cubes. Each of which carries a Primary Auxiliary Fleet of two bioships, and also a Secondary Auxiliary Fleet of one sphere. And each cube is manned by 100,000 drones."

"You're firm believer in overkill aren't you?" Nechayev asked in disbelief, trying to wrap her mind around the fact that someone could actually so casually call fifty thousand ships, and five billion people to a conflict... and then call it the 'First' fleet; indicating that there was even more that could be called upon. Starfleet herself had once boasted a very proud number of four thousand starships. But that included all ships bigger than a shuttle, and not counting the ships already lost during the war.

"Actually, I think that the word 'overkill' is exactly the point," Seven noted. "I am a firm believer in showing people that I do not merely give empty words. I believe that by showing that I truly do have the forces to simply overrun, destroy, or suppress, then maybe people are more inclined to talk and make sure that such a scenario can be prevented."

"And just how long will it take that 'First Fleet' to get here, and just what exactly are you planning to do?" Nechayev asked.

"The First Fleet arrived seventeen minutes ago. As soon as the Hendricks imposter told me that we were going to talk about the surrender of the Borg, the signal was sent for them to come here. There are only two reasons why you do not know about their arrival. First, because you did not have access to sensors. And second, even if you had, Starfleet are not the only ones that know cloak technology. But unlike you we do not hide the fact that we have it; it is a very convenient technology."

"So what are you planning to do with them? You already have Earth occupied," Nechayev noted.

"As I said, plans will be discussed with the people I rely on for advice. But my idea at the moment is that I intend to level the playing field, so to speak. One of the reasons why this war is still going on is because both sides firmly believe that they can win. I intend to make it clear that winning is no longer an option. Now the option is to decide if they want to go down in history as losers, or as people that negotiated their differences."

"Meaning?" Nechayev asked.

"Taking the Federation as an example?" Seven asked.


"For the Federation this means that as soon as I consulted with my Senior Staff, and the Collective in general, about just what exactly we want, and as soon as I contacted the other parties, for the Federation the war with the Dominion is over. From that moment on you have the Borg to deal with. Either you agree to conditions and the Borg take over the protection of the Federation, or you do not agree and the Dominion will be the very least of your problems."

Having made that clear, Seven explained, "All the other parties will get the same offer. From the information I have, I understand that this war is not as much about what you want, but about what you do not want. For instance, I believe that the Federation would be content with the Dominion retreating to the Gamma Quadrant and consider that their territory. What you do not want, and why you are fighting this war, is for the Dominion to take over territory here in the Alpha and Beta Quadrant. For the Dominion it is more about their paranoid mentality of 'what you control cannot hurt you'. They want to control the Federation so that it cannot get into a position where it can hurt the Dominion in the Gamma Quadrant. I will make it very clear to them that they will never be able to control the Borg, so they might want to consider settling for our assurance that we will make sure that others will not hurt them without suffering the wrath of the Borg Collective."

"You do realize that the Dominion oppresses the people in the Gamma Quadrant, right?" Nechayev asked.

"And you know that your allies, the Klingons, actually enslave the species of one of the planets in their solar system, right?" B'Elanna countered. "Or how about the other force you flirt with? You want the neutral Romulans to enter the war on your side. If they were to offer their alliance to you, would you decline it because the Romulans that live on Romulus' sister planet Remus are considered second class people, or that they actually also enslave the original inhabitants of those planets? Please, don't play fake righteousness with us just because it makes for a good argument; we also know the other sides."

"Besides," Seven added, "With the Dominion there is the rather interesting paradox that the more faithful a species is to them, the freer they are left. Under the 'oppressing' Dominion there was, and in fact still is, a thriving economy going on and territory is securely protected. Which makes cargo ships more secure than they are in the Federation. It is when species object to the rule of the Dominion that the Dominion becomes... forceful... with them. In many ways living under the Dominion is more liberal than some of the constricting Federation rules. This because in the Dominion there is only one absolute rule; the Dominion is in control. The rest can be talked about. With the new way that we now do things in the Borg there has also come a way of doing business with species that control other species. For instance, we do not say that we do not want to have anything to do with the Klingons because they enslave a different species. Instead we would work with the Klingons, introduce other options, which will result over time in the enslaved species no longer being needed as slaves and also becoming a free species of the Borg Collective. They may not become free within weeks, months, or even years, but the point is that eventually they become free. Where before they would have continued on as slaves for many centuries more."

"You said that your... help... for the Federation depends on whether or not we agree to certain conditions. What are those conditions?" Nechayev asked.


Chapter 62

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

Year 01, Month 12, Day 10, Hour 11, Minute 18.

Seven looked at the two Borg drones behind the force field. One of them, the man, was banging against the electronic barrier despite the pain this must cause. Both of them were insisting loudly that they should be let out, that the prisoners had escaped and locked them in instead.

"Have you looked at the room around you?" Seven asked. "Admirals Hendricks and T'Lara, this is our version of a secure negotiating room, though we have no need for weapons and gas emitters built into the walls. The floor, ceiling, and walls are lined with the same force-field as the one that is preventing you from reaching this part of the room, just that we have covered those by a thin shielding system so that you can walk around and lean against walls without it hurting."

Once again the result was a protest of innocence.

"Plus," Seven continued, "You made some vast mistakes. First of all Borg drones do not pound the force field. Instead they use an internal communicator to call for backup. Second, you made the mistake of copying drones that are still permanently linked to the Hive. They do not show your kind of behavior. In fact, they do not make a single move that is not governed by the Hive. If they had truly been captured, and had not been able to contact the Hive to let them know that they cannot perform their job, then they would have merely stood still until they would be retrieved or they would finally get a message over Borg link. In other words, you would actually be incapable of moving and talking right now."

Seven hesitated for a moment as she connected to the Hive. "Plus I notice that you were not able to remove the two drones you copied. The real drones 8,463 of 5,674,347, and 94 of 3,394, are at the moment working on deck 591. No doubt doing the job that they were heading for when you saw them walking by."

Seven sat down at the table that protruded into the part where the prisoners were now located. She knew from observation reports that the prisoners had tried to move the table, without success. This was of course because what looked like a simple, if thick table, was actually a piece of advanced technology that was an integrated part of the force field wall in the middle of the room.

"Please sit down," Seven offered as B'Elanna took position beside her while Pagsha and Katzi decided to stand. Seven placed a PADD that she had been carrying on the table and pushed it towards the prisoners. To their amazement it simply slid through the force field.

"Constable Odo was so kind to give us translated pieces of your language. From that your language has been analyzed by our computer. That information should be readable by you. Please feel free to talk in your native language. There is a universal translator in here, and with your language already being added in text, it should only take a few words to find the pattern to translate your speech as well."

The PADD had been caught by the woman, but it had not yet been looked at. Seven was curious why beings that could take on any form they wanted, within certain limits, nevertheless tended to stick to one gender. Female changelings could depict themselves as men, yet they preferred to take the places of women. The same with male changelings. She knew that it was a question to be asked at another time. Maybe it was something in their DNA. Just because they had decoded the changeling's DNA code, didn't mean that they understood it all... yet.

"That is a decoding of your DNA, which we obtained while you were stored in our transporter pattern buffer." Seven noticed that now their eyes went to the screen. "It is quite impressive I must say. Longer than the DNA code of any species in the Collective, save one. The Siill DNA is about twenty times as complex as yours, and a multitude of that compared to Humans. Your DNA data proved interesting reading to some of our scientists. Constable Odo already asked for a copy; we declined reluctantly."

"Why?" The woman said.

"I assume that you were Admiral T'Lara?" Seven asked.

"I was," the woman agreed before shifting back to the form of the Vulcan. Clearly the man objected to that. She ignored him and asked again. "Why did you decline?"

"Because we feel that he might feel obliged to hand a copy to Starfleet as well. We believe in the overall good intentions of Starfleet, but that does not mean that there are not a few individuals in their midst that hold grudges and see chances, while not realizing that they are chances they should never use. For instance, look at the PADD."

They did so and saw that the information changed without them even touching the device. "That Borg link you talked about?" T'Lara asked as on screen one part of the DNA was selected and zoomed in on.

"Indeed," Seven agreed. "While we did not research your entire DNA yet, now that it is decoded that is merely a matter of time. This is the most interesting part our scientists have found so far. See those three base pairs?"

T'Lara nodded.

"Those are the part of your DNA that controls your shape shifting ability. Observe." A rendering of electronic devices came into the screen.

"Those represent some of our nanoprobes that have been especially adapted for DNA modifications," Seven explained. "Their scale to your DNA is not correct, but this way you can observe the process."

The little machines started to work, started to make changes to the DNA. Once finished, Seven explained. "Like this you would no longer have the ability to change. You would be a solid, like you prefer to call Humanoids."

She had shocked them, she could clearly see. It was one thing to fear that someday someone might try tampering with your DNA. It was an entirely different thing to see that someone had, and already knew how to take away the essence of that what made you a changeling.

"Observe," Seven said again. The nanoprobes started to work once more. Parts of the DNA were shifted around, at one point it almost looked like two parts were welded together. "Not a correct representation of the actual work," Seven explained. "However, it is very effective in getting across what happens."

"So?" T'Lara asked once the nanoprobes moved from the screen.

"That leaves you still able to shape shift. However, it removed your need for rest. At the moment you have to return to fluidic form at certain intervals or else you die. Like that this would not be needed. With those changes you can keep every form you want for an indefinite amount of time, limited only by your natural lifespan. Or you can shape shift. It does not restrict that ability."

Again they were clearly shocked. The man, Hendricks for now, Seven decided, lifted the PADD with shaking hands and merely looked at the screen.

"So you can change one strand of DNA," T'Lara finally said. "But that doesn't mean,"

"Surely you can think further than that," B'Elanna interrupted. "Imagine millions of those nanoprobes in your body. You saw how quick the change was made, and that wasn't even real time; it was slowed down so that you could see what's happening. I guess that it would take about two or three hours to change every single cell in a body of, say your size."

"So what's this, the carrot and the stick?" T'Lara asked. "Isn't that what you people call it? Do as you say and we get a present from you, but if we don't do as you say you will condemn us to a fate worse than death."

"Not as such, we basically just wanted to see if you're really as stupid as you portrayed those admirals to be," B'Elanna said bluntly. "So pretend that you're smart for a moment and now guess. Why would we show you that we can remove your need for being in a fluidic stage for a certain time?"

"I would say that my guess was pretty much right on," T'Lara persisted.

B'Elanna sighed. "Look, pretend for a minute that we aren't out to destroy you all. In fact, you've seen the forces we have with us, and that's just for a start. Do you really want us to go and visit your Homeworld to see if we can find someone else to talk to there?"

"We do not blame you for trying to involve us in a conflict with the Federation," Seven pointed out. "In fact, we compliment you on your initiative. We understand that you are at war and that you should try every advantage you can get; it is your duty. Please, do not push us to the 'or else' area. First impressions are hard to conquer later on."

"I think we already said enough," Hendricks, who still looked like a Borg drone, said. Which prompted T'Lara to speak up again.

Seven knew this behavior, she had seen it often enough in meetings with representatives from species. It was a battle between the people in charge, and the people that realized that stubborn old-fashioned thinking was the last thing that was needed at the moment. Seven guessed that Hendricks was actually considered the senior of the two, since the changelings didn't have real ranks between themselves. They had... seniority.

"Just for the sake of argument," T'Lara said immediately after Hendricks had spoken up. "It's not hard to guess that we would welcome the fact of not having to return to a fluidic stage, as long as we don't have to give up the actual ability of being able to do it. This so that we can still participate in the great link. So offering us the ability to achieve that would be a good show of good faith. Along that line, showing us that you can prevent us from shape shifting ever again, and then assuring us that you won't hand that information to our enemy, would then also show that you have nothing but the best intentions."

"While at the same time still reminding us that you can hurt us much more than Starfleet ever could," Hendricks added, for the first time also admitting that he was also a changeling, even though he still looked like a drone.

"And that," T'Lara agreed.

"I cannot blame you for being suspicious. It is also part of your genes, we found out," Seven said. "You cannot but suspect that someone wants to hurt you. It was an interesting thing to find out, and it explains much about you. But tell me, how can you come out of this with your head held high if you are not even willing to say 'I am listening' when faced with the fact that this conflict is over? For let there be no mistake about that. This conflict 'is' over. The only question now is how it is going to end for you. I would prefer that it would end with the Dominion being in charge of the territory that it controlled before this conflict began. However, if your side is not willing to listen to reason then I will react. For as long as needed. Even if that means that we have to destroy your planet and hunt down every Founder alive to make sure that they will not be so for much longer. This conflict 'is' over. Tell me, how do you want it to end?"

"Or more to the point," B'Elanna added, "How do you want the undisputable outcome to play out? Do you want to still be in control of your territory... mostly. Or do you want to be... well, no more actually."

"We can't talk for our people," T'Lara pointed out. "We have certain people that are our representatives."

"They are not here now," Seven reminded. "While you cannot make choices for all of your people, you can listen to us and then show them what you saw when you link with them after we release you."

T'Lara tapped the PADD. "I want to see if this is real, or if this is nothing more than a nice cartoon."

B'Elanna spread her hands a little in a 'sure, no problem' gesture. "Who wants to go first?" Then she smirked. "Of course, we'll make sure that the changes will not be passed on to others when joining in the link. We'll make sure that your cells can only be changed one on one by our nanoprobes."

"We're not stupid," Hendricks spoke up. "You just showed that you can make it so that we can't change anymore. Do you really think that we'll let you mess with us willingly and then go and link and infest the others? No, we'll not work along with your plan. We may not be able to stop you from doing things to us, but at least we'll know and we'll not link with others."

T'Lara looked at Hendricks for a moment before slowly standing up. She changed once again. She kept most of T'Lara's features, but angles of the face became more flowing. Her hair clearly became part of her body, and her coloring, including her clothes changed to the orange brown that was so characteristic of the Founders, if they weren't mimicking anyone.

"I want to see if you can do as you say. If you can truly change whether we can shape shift, then you already have a weapon in your position that we don't want to face. My name is Shyra, and I am your volunteer."

"And which one do you want?" B'Elanna asked. "The change that stops you from changing, or the one that removed the need for a rest stage?"

Shyra merely looked at her.

"Just checking," B'Elanna grinned.

Changelings didn't like it when others had the upper hand, so she decided to surprise them. "I want to check both actually... but I would prefer it if the change that removed the need for a rest stage is done last."

"If you do this none of us want anything to do with you anymore," Hendricks said as he stood up and moved away from her.

"Then so be it," Shyra said, now even more determined. "But at least I will be able to tell you for sure if they can truly change our DNA. Unlike others, I am not a coward."

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

Year 01, Month 12, Day 19, Hour 09, Minute 30.

The Klingon Chancellor Gowron sat in his Chancellor's throne, overlooking the audience room of the Chancellor's palace on Qo'noS. He felt a definite twinkle of... anticipation, since Klingons would never be nervous. He was flanked by two standing men. General Martok on one side, and Worf, Martok's second in command, was standing on the other side of the throne.

"Are you sure about this?" Gowron asked while looking at Worf. "You've dealt with the Borg a few times while serving on that Federation ship. I'm surprised that you aren't urging us to take the war to them."

Worf bristled at the comment. "That's the point. I've seen them up close. Shoot one and he just keeps walking. Cut an arm off and he uses the second one to fight you. You might be able to kill one or two, but there are one or two thousand standing right behind him to take his place. And that's before. Now they have species 8472 working for them. I reported about them to you earlier. Believe me, I wasn't kidding then. One of those ships is capable of taking out every single ship in our fleet, and they have thousands of them. And on top of that it seems that they vastly improved their shields. As I told you over subspace when I was heading here, hundreds of Federations ships, including the Defiant and the Enterprise, did less damage to those shields than a hand phaser does to one of our ships' shields."

He shook his head. "Today is not a good day to die. Especially when they aren't here looking for a war. Let us wait with fighting until they give us a reason to."

Gowron snorted. "You act like we can trust them, just because the message they sent said that they came with good intentions."

"I never met their Queen," Worf said thoughtfully. "But I've met their second in command, their Princess, several times. A Klingon Human hybrid that takes things like Honor very seriously. I would strongly suggest treating them as equals if not even superiors, and we might even get out of this with the glory of the Klingon Empire being enhanced."

"We'll see," Gowron said slowly.

A soft gong sounded, letting them know that their guests had entered the building. There had been a small debate before about just who would welcome them at the palace's door. Reluctantly Worf and Martok had agreed with Gowron that it could not be one of them because that would give an impression of cowering to the superior force. And Klingons did not cower.

Not long later the door of the audience room opened and the Speaker of the High council entered. He had been the one selected for the job of welcoming the Borg party. His title sounded impressive enough to probably appease the guests, while at the same time it was unimportant enough to not look too eager to the Klingon people. After all, when all was said and done the Speaker was merely the person that took the minutes of meetings where people talked whenever they wanted. It was the Speaker's job to then bring all that was said, shouted, and boasted, into something of an order in a document that could then be read at least with some coherency in it.

He looked flushed, Gowron noted. And he was hurrying. The Speaker never hurried, except for when taking minutes.

"Ah, um, Chancellor I um, eh," The Speaker stopped when his words were starting to be drowned out by the sound of marching in the great corridor that led to the chamber they were in. Being a Klingon, Gowron had heard many marching groups. But this sounded different somehow. The rhythm was there and so precise that one could count the steps of the group. Yet there was something of an extra beat to it, as if three steps were made in the time normally used for two.

The Speaker had only opened one of the big wooden doors. They were heavy enough for even Klingons not to bother with opening the second door unless ceremonies were being held. But now the second door was pushed open not too softly. There was enough force behind the push to let the door open all the way and even bounce back from the wall a little.

Gowron sat up straight when he saw what had opened the door. A group of huge three-legged creatures entered the chamber while surrounding what looked like a Human woman that was so small that she only measured half the size of the creatures. No, Gowron couldn't help but notice, not Human. Facial and body features were just that little bit off for being a Human. The twenty three-legged creatures fanned out across the room, ignoring the Klingons while taking up strategic positions. Doors and windows were covered. As were the places mirroring those locations on the other walls. This way the creatures standing there had a clear line of sight through the windows and doors if they would be opened.

Gowron noticed that there was still the sound of marching in the corridor, and a few seconds after the first group a second entered. Once more twenty of the big creatures, accompanied by an almost Human looking woman. She was a head bigger than the first woman, but still dwarfed by the huge creatures that had to duck their heads to enter through the door. Again strategic positions were covered. But since the most important places were already taken care of, this group took position beside the creatures of the first group.

They kept coming until five of the groups had entered. Then there was a change and two women entered, who were clearly guarded by the four other people that were forming a square around them. After them, following the square of guards came two more women. This time it was clear to see that neither of the women outside the square was Human. Gowron blinked his eyes for a moment. Yes, one of them, the dark blue haired one, even had a tail. This group came closer until they were standing at a respectable distance from the Chancellor. Clearly someone had informed them about what was considered too close or too far and thereby would show disrespect.

Gowron wanted to make a comment about the creatures lining the walls, but was stopped by the sound of more marching in the hall. Once more five of those teams entered. By now, with over two hundred people lining the walls there was not much room left. But the hall was big enough for them to stand side by side. Finally the sound of marching died down and two of the creatures of the last group closed the door after the Speak quickly moved out, and took position in front of it. He looked at the creatures lining the walls, occasionally speckled with a woman standing between them... all of them were women he noticed.

In fact, since he had no idea what gender the creatures were, there were only two people of whom it was clear that they were men, and those were part of the square of four people that was still surrounding the two women that were clearly the main focus of this exhibition. For he was sure that it was exactly that; an exhibition. Those people standing against the walls didn't seem to be carrying weapons, which was a statement all by itself. They didn't carry weapons because they didn't need them.

The four guards in front of him had weapons though; each was carrying a different kind. His eyes came to rest on the tall woman who clearly preferred blades. She had a long knife, or short sword, tied to each leg. Gowron even saw the hilt of some kind of sword peeking over her shoulder.

Apart from that the only other person that was carrying any weapons... or at least any weapons he could see... was the half Klingon standing in front of him. She too had two knives strapped to her legs, but he dismissed those as nothing more than decoration. They looked way too fancy to ever be any real use in a fight.

Not wanting the Klingons to get the wrong idea, Seven spoke up. "My greetings to you. I am One of Many, née Annika Hansen; Queen of Borg; Seven to friend and enemy. I apologize for the excess amount of guards. However, I know how important weapons are to Klingons .So it was either increase my guard detail, or have all Klingons I might get into contact with disarmed. And I mean all weapons, including the d'k tahg."

She saw three hands travel to the ceremonial blades. "You do not need to say 'over my dead body', since we know that this would be the reaction of any honorable Klingon. And since dead bodies is what we want to prevent, we opted to increase our guard detail instead."

"You sound like you don't trust us," Gowron growled.

"It is an interesting thing," Seven said thoughtfully. "You know what I have discovered in my negotiations with different species? That the more they say 'you can trust us', the less we actually can. I know that the Klingons are an honorable species. But honor can also bring unwanted effects, like some challenging someone to a fight because that person felt insulted by a simple comment. Like a Targ being the ugliest thing that ever lived. I believe that was the last trivial case we saw on your news broadcasts before we became the news."

Gowron stood up and moved closer. "Challenges are a part of Klingon tradition."

"Which has, and I am sure will for a long time to come, served the Klingon Empire well," Seven countered.

Worf, having spent most of his life with Humans heard the important part in that sentence; for a long time to come. The Borg Queen was telling them from the beginning that they were not expecting the Klingons to give up their way of life merely because the Borg had showed up.

Gowron on the other hand was unfortunately used to Humans that like to speak sentences with double meanings because they were sure that the Klingons were too stupid to understand the insult in apparent compliments. "Then maybe we can settle these negotiations with a challenge? See who's side will have the upper hand in the coming conversations?"

Seven lifted an eyebrow in amusement. "Are you implying that you want to challenge me to a battle? I can assure you, that would be extremely unwise of you."

Gowron waved a hand at the ATSD teams standing against the walls. "Why? Because you have a couple hundred guards surrounding us? They would not be allowed to interfere in a challenge fight."

Seven shook her head a little. "Wrong. You see, I am the Queen of Borg. Even if I wanted to answer a challenge, they would not allow it. My security is paramount for them. They will protect me, even if I do not want that protection. These guards surrounding us would interfere and not care in the least about Klingon Honor. However, that is not the reason why you might want to rethink challenging me. The reason is because since I cannot fight myself, you would be facing my Champion."

Seven stopped for a moment as Katzi stepped forward to stand at her side. "Allow me to introduce. This is Katzi of Erdania Village; my Champion."

Gowron looked up and into the eyes of the imposing woman. In the back of his mind he realized that it was actually the first time as far as he could remember that he had to look up to look into the eyes of a woman. Despite being clad in a black uniform, he could clearly see the bulk of muscles playing under the fabric with every move the woman made. Gowron had expected a sneer or a growl, something imitating. But she merely stood there looking down on him... and looked all the more imposing because of that. He realized that it was not her two meter tall and very broad frame that made her imposing. No, it was the very same thing that made those guards against the walls all the more imposing because they weren't carrying weapons. This woman didn't need to try and look even more intimidating than she already was, simply because she was absolutely certain that she was the best, period.

B'Elanna spoke into the silence that had fallen as Katzi and Gowron stood looking at each other. "Before you bring up the dishonor of having to fight a guard, let me point out that besides being guard, and besides being my Mate's champion, she's also family. She is considered a mother to our daughter."

Katzi pulled one of the machetes out of its sheath. She flipped the blade into the air a couple of times, always catching the handle again without even looking at it. "I understand that Klingons prefer bladed weapons. Would this do? Or do your prefer unarmed combat?" Katzi asked casually as she caught the deadly blade once more with an ease as if she wasn't even trying. "Your choice." She shrugged, catching the blade again while doing so. "I'm easy that way."

Gowron knew that a true warrior never showed his, or her, full ability even before the battle started. You always wanted an unknown advantage. If the woman... no, warrior... if the warrior was showing off her prowess with the short blade, Gowron was sure that he didn't want to face her when she switched to the long blade clasped to her back.

Luckily the words of the half Klingon had given him an out. "A mother to your daughter?" He smirked before turning and moving away while making a dismissive hand gesture. "Far be it for me to break up a happy family with a premature death of a daughter's mother."

He moved back to his throne and sat down. "I would suggest moving to the side hall so that you can sit down, but I don't think you would agree because your security detail wouldn't fit." He used a finger to make a circle in the air to indicate the room and the Siill warriors that were lining the walls. "So how about I have a table and some chairs brought in here instead?"

After Seven had nodded her agreement, Gowron used his communicator to give the orders. Then he introduced General Martok. "He is the Commander of the Klingon armed forces." Then he indicated Worf. "And this is Worf, his second in command."

"We have met," B'Elanna pointed out. "I'm Two of Many, née B'Elanna Torres; Princess of Borg. B'Elanna for short."

She made a small waving gesture behind her, and the two women that had been outside the guard's square stepped closer. "This is Pagsha Yahif, Royal advisor, Mate to Katzi and also a family member."

"Another mother to your daughter?" Martok asked amused. "Just how many mothers does your daughter have?"

"Four direct ones, and billions of indirect ones," B'Elanna deadpanned. Then she smirked before indicating the other woman. "And this is Anidan Dubinak, Chief Engineer on Unimatrix 01."

"What, no mother to your daughter?" Gowron couldn't help but ask, even though he knew that the four mothers had already been mentioned. At least he assumed that the blonde Queen was the second part of 'our' when the half Klingon had talked about 'our daughter'.

"She is one of those billions of indirect mothers," Seven pointed out. "She does see our daughter a lot though, since she is a close family friend who we love to spend time with."

"And why are you bringing an Engineer along to these meetings?" Martok asked. "Besides her being a friend of course. But I think that if that were the only criteria needed, then this hall would be more crowded than it is now."

"You are correct," Seven agreed while the door opened and a few Klingons brought in a table and some chairs.

Seven hid her amusement when seeing that each and every one of them suddenly got a whole different body language, once seeing what was lining the walls of the hall. Where before they were clearly annoyed, to say the least, to be proud Klingons that were stuck with such a mundane task like carrying a table or chair, only one look around the room made them suddenly be very glad that they were only delivering a table or chair and then could leave again.

"However," Seven continued as she sat down at the now placed table. "We have discovered that the Borg are generally more technologically advanced than other species we have contact with. As a result of that talks tend to drift to technological talk quite quickly. So when we are having a friendly meeting, we simply have Anidan join us because she is our technological expert."

"In friendly meetings?" Gowron asked as he sat down as well. Normally nobody sat down before the Chancellor, but he decided not to comment on that. He had a feeling that the Queen of Borg knew this and had set down before him deliberately. Either to see if he would challenge again instead of wanting to talk, or to remind him that even though they were on Qo'noS, she as Borg Queen wielded a lot more power and therefore had the right to sit down before the Chancellor. Gowron had a feeling that he didn't want to challenge her on either point.

"So you think this will be a friendly meeting?"

"I am hoping it will be," Seven agreed. "Though Klingon society is far from perfect, we see a big potential in it. We believe that the Klingon Empire will be capable of extraordinary achievements once they overcome internal struggles, House feuds, and class discrimination. If even in peace time the Klingon Empire would show some of that unity that until now only war times hinted that they can have. In short, we want to help the Klingon Empire to grow from a blossom to a bloom."

"For such a technologically advanced species, you sure seem to rely on your guards a lot," Worf pointed out. "We could have smuggled a bomb in with this table."

"And kill yourself in the process, Worf?" B'Elanna asked amused.

"We might have decided that today is a good day to die. Kill you, and all of your guards here. That would be a good price for our lives."

"That's one thing where the Klingons and the Borg differ tremendously," Anidan spoke up for the first time. "Even though Klingons have cloaking technology, you prefer for security to show. If you take guards along you want them to impress. As Seven pointed out in the beginning, these guards are only here because we didn't want to force you to give up all your weapons. Especially those where you would rather die before giving them up. But don't think that this is all the security we have."

She knocked on the wooden table. "Take this thing. Solid wood, weighs 62.8 kilos. It's made of Granik wood that was cut down over three hundred years ago. Oh, and there's a wood maggot living in this leg here, at the bottom of the leg. You might want to look into that. Since this table is so old, the maggot must have come from an infected source of fresh wood."

Now she knocked on the leg at her side of the table to indicate the table leg in question. Then she explained. "You've seen the size of our ship. Hell, it's a bright day out, if you go out now and look up you can even see it outlined against your sun. We have a lot of room up there to pack a lot of powerful scanners. And if you really want to know, the closest thing you can find around here that can be used as some kind of explosive is your red granulated mustard in the kitchen. Though that explosion would only be strong enough to cover us all in mustard."

"Anidan can be quite direct," B'Elanna said amused. "It's one of the reasons we love her. I think she'll appeal to your Klingon directness; you'll like her. So how about we stop the pissing contest and start talking?"

Gowron hesitated for a moment. Then he smirked and nodded. He slapped the table forcefully before folding his arms and leaning forward a little onto his elbows. "Alright, enough pissing for now, let's talk."


Chapter 63

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

Year 01, Month 12, Day 23, Hour 12, Minute 01.

Seven let her eyes drift across the large conference room. She had to admit that she wouldn't want to be in the position of some of these people. There were mortal enemies sitting beside each other because they found out that something even more dangerous had decided that the time for playing was over.

Her eyes stopped for a moment at the table of the Founders. Apparently the Hendricks imposter had been right. They had not seen the changeling called Shyra again ever since beaming them over to a Dominion ship. The following interactions with the Dominion also indicated that Shyra had apparently been ignored at best. At worse... who knew? In the end a show of force had been needed to show the Dominion that they were outmatched.

The Dominion had felt safe in the Gamma Quadrant, apparently forgetting that the Gamma quadrant was quite close to the Delta Quadrant and that Borg ships could reach them within days, at most. Twenty wings of cubes, two hundred cubes in total, had dropped out of transwarp close to the Founder's Homeworld. A single bioship had decimated the shipyards within a minute, after the cubes had beamed everyone off the shipyards despite shields being raised. Then the bioships had started to do flyovers of the pool that was the great link and had sent a polite message asking if they wanted to talk before weapons would start firing. Only after that were the founders willing to talk.

Seven checked the time and decided that it was time to start things moving. She stood up and felt eyes gather on her. In seconds the hum in the room had died down.

"I would like to thank the Bajoran government for lending us the use of DS9 for this meeting. A meeting that will end with something I propose calling 'the treaty of Bajor'. You will notice the distinct lack of words like Borg, surrender, peace, or capitulation. The reason is simple; I want all of you to be able to go home and give your own spin; how you were the ones that have ended up with the best deal and therefore decided to end the war. Look around you."

Seven waited for a few seconds as some did so, but others never looked away from her. "You will see all the parties that have an interest in this conflict, not just the ones that are actually at war at the moment. The Breen are here because the Dominion was negotiating with them for an alliance. The Romulans are here because the Federation was negotiating with them. This war was far from over; but all the closer to escalating. Well ladies and gentlemen, let me be clear. As of this minute the war 'is' over. Now your only choice is just how much futile resistance you want to offer the Borg, and how many of your people you condemn to death for no reason. Please, do not believe that you have any say in whether the war is over or not; your only say is about how much you want to bleed."

Seven gestured with her hand to the table where the Dominion representatives were sitting. "Some of you needed more persuasion than others to come here. At the moment there is a planetbuster located above the Founder's Homeworld. They know, only one command from me and the planet and most of the Founders will be dead."

A mumble went through the room; clearly this was news to most.

"If pressed, we will act," Seven assured. "But we prefer to work in different ways." Now she indicated the table that held the Klingon party, under command of General Martok. Then she pointed to the table with the Romulans, under control of Praetor Hiren. "As an indicator of this other way, I present to you the Klingon and Romulan Empires; both have agreed to become Vassal territory of the Borg Collective. Their territory should be considered Borg territory as of this minute. Both parties have also showed an interest in having people enter the Collective as Individualist drones. Ladies and gentlemen, it seems that both the Romulans and the Klingons see the Borg not as a threat, but as an opportunity. I hope that the rest of you will do the same."

Seven waited for a moment. She knew that all of them were expecting a 'but', and she wasn't going to disappoint them. "But let me be clear, besides those opportunities there is also assurance. Assurance to the ones we protect, and the ones we might need to protect our friends from. If need be we will bring in millions of cubes, millions of bioships, trillions of drones, to protect our partners. That, ladies and gentlemen is what you are facing. And let me assure you that this is not an empty threat. All of you must have picked up our First Fleet as it passed through your territory. There is an old Sol saying; a picture says a thousand words. This picture actually said 50,000 words. All the same word; cube. And ladies and gentlemen, there is a reason why it is called the 'First' Fleet. It is up to you if you see this as the biggest opportunity in your recorded history, or as the worst day of that recorded history. For it can be both, depending on how you act."

Seven indicated the table holding the Federation representatives, headed by the Federation President, Min Zife, and the Commander-in-Chief of Starfleet, Alynna Nechayev. "Others are not as reluctant to be here as the Dominion is, but are nevertheless still sitting on the fence about how they want to interact with us. Let me be clear to all of you. When this treaty is over, you will have made your choice. Even a non-choice will be considered a choice. If you strive for autonomy, we are willing to give you almost entire autonomy in the territory that was considered yours before the war. But territory that was gained in the war will be returned to the original owner."

Seven looked at both parties for a moment. "To both the Federation and the Dominion I say: you can have your autonomy, and I give you my personal promise that the Borg Collective will prevent the other party from infringing on things having to do with your territory. But you 'will' have to live from now on with the knowledge of knowing that the border guard between your territories does have the power to destroy you in one hour flat, if provoked. Do not provoke us. Instead work with us to turn this into a situation where you all can live in peace and prosperity."

Seven let her eyes drift across the room. "For the next two days I will hold meetings with various parties. That is your chance to tell me what you want, and what you would have a problem with. For the two days after that, I will be the mediator in talks between two parties at a time while they work out problems. And for the two days after that we will once more gather as a group and details of negotiations will be presented to you all. This so that people that were not part of the negotiation between certain parties can nevertheless speak up if they have a grievance. I know that normally one would only give a little while at the same time saying that they would never accept things that in reality they would accept. All in a simple matter of trying to get the most out of the deal. Ladies and gentlemen. I just proposed six days of talk. On the seventh day a treaty will be signed. Do not hold out trying to get more. Especially in the one-on-one talk with me, be honest. It is only when I know your true concerns that I can try to keep them in mind while talking with others. Are there any questions?"

After a moment of silence, the Federation President spoke up hesitantly. "Even if we reach agreements here, some of us, like the Federation, still have to get the agreement ratified to make it legal."

"Unacceptable," Seven stated resolutely. "These negotiations will not differ from others in the fact that details will have to be worked out over weeks, maybe even months. But details can still be worked out after the main treaty is signed, in which you will declare your general intentions. For instance. Part of the treaty will be that the Dominion will retreat... I mean pull back their overwhelming forces that could easily win the war... all depending who is explaining it to whom, to the Gamma Quadrant. However, in the detailed negotiations to be done later, it might be agreed that they will be allowed to have a starbase in Federation or Bajoran territory so that they can monitor the Federation, and maybe serve as a base of interest for the merchant ships that use the wormhole to travel to the Gamma Quadrant. Where, of course, those ships have to abide by Dominion law."

Seven let her eyes drift around the room before continuing. "But let there be no mistake. When this conference is over a treaty 'will' be sighed. Do not take the fact that I allow you to negotiate your points as a sign that you actually have the choice to ignore the Borg Collective."

"Then let me ask this," Major Kira Nerys, one of the Bajoran representatives spoke up, "You say that it's our choice on how we interact with the Borg, and for the parties at war, whether to continue. But what would happen to a party that's neutral in the war, and decides that they want nothing to do with the Borg?"

"Like Bajor?" Seven asked. "As long as you are not involved in hostile or clandestine activities against the Borg or any of our allies, then you would be left alone. However, because both the Klingon and Romulan Empire will become Vassal territory of the Borg Collective, you would not be allowed to enter that territory. Nor any of the formerly neutral territories between different parties for that matter. This because the Borg Collective now claims that as our territory. As we speak Borg cubes are going to those territories and placing the beacons."

Seven smiled before adding, "And it depends on just how... annoyed... the Collective is with you, in just what way we will react to infringements on our territory."

"There's always is neutral territory between factions," Kira objected.

"Not anymore," Seven disagreed. "It is not my fault that there is a tendency in the Alpha and Beta Quadrant to leave a piece of unclaimed territory between factions. It is also not my fault that you like 'no-man's-lands'. Now there is no longer such a thing. We claimed those lands."

"But that means that a Bajoran ship can't even leave Bajoran territory to go to a friendly party like the Federation," Kira objected hotly.

"That depends on just how much Bajor would get along with the Borg Collective, would it not?" Seven countered. It was almost as if she and Kira had practiced this conversation, which was not the case. Yet the Bajoran was asking all the right questions to make it clear to the others that even if they wanted to stay well away from the Borg they would not be able to do so, unless they wanted to be isolated to only their own planet.

"For instance," Seven explained, "Since the Klingons are getting along with the Borg so exceptionally well, and are actually part of Borg territory as of now, they could travel back and forth to, say, Cardassia without even having to ask permission, from us at least. But on the other hand, if a Cardassian ship were to try and travel to Qo'noS without documented permission, they would be intercepted, and depending on how nice we feel we might even ask them to explain themselves before we destroy the ship."

"You're not leaving us much choice here," Dukat, the Cardassian representative said, clearly not pleased at all.

"That is the point," Seven noted dryly. "We all know that there are too many parties in this to play nice to everyone and cater to egos. I am cutting through all of that. You 'will' come to an agreement, and the more stable that agreement is, the less the Borg will have to act as your guardian."

"So to come back to that Borg territory between factions," Kira spoke up again, and by now Seven was sure that the Bajoran was doing it deliberately. "If the Dominion and the Federation reach that deal, and the others, like the Cardassians, agree that they will not try and pick wars with others, then you would not deny travel between factions?"

"We would not," Seven assured. "We would monitor, and we would make sure that the treaty would be upheld. But other than that we would not interfere. Save of course if it concerns our Vassal territories. We will protect them with all we have if needed, but we will also make sure that they do not misuse that situation."

"So you would not permit the Klingons to occupy Bajoran territory, even though they are your vassal and even if we were to have no ties with the Borg at all?"

"That is correct," Seven assured. "But if it is you who started the problems," Seven didn't finish the statement, knowing that it would not be needed.

"So when we have those one-on-one talks with you, can others also bring up the issue of becoming a Borg Vassal?" Kira asked with a small grin.

"They can." Then Seven asked slightly amused, "Why do I get the feeling that the Bajoran representatives would be interested in such an option?"

Before answering, Kira looked to her side at the Bajoran First Minister, and her former lover, Shakaar Edon. He gave her the smallest of nods and she continued. "We might, if it would be very clear that we might join the Borg, but not dissolve into them. We Bajorans have always been explorers at heart, and always had a peace loving nature. While admirable, this is also a bad combination because sooner or later you run into people that decide that you are weak and that they can occupy your territory. It would be nice to be sure that we don't have to worry about that, and at the same time could go and explore the universe. Or at least the Borg territory."

"We will talk about this more in our negotiations," Seven assured. Then she once more looked around the room to see if there were more questions. When nobody spoke up she continued. "Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your time. In half an hour I will start talking with the first party. And since the Bajorans seem to have a few questions, we will start with them."

Seven gestured to the other side of the table. She was in conference room one of DS9, and waited for the Bajoran delegation to sit down before doing the same.

When hearing someone mention conference room one in passing, Seven had been amused to hear such a familiar name and had commandeered the room as hers for the duration of the talks. Her determination for using the room had only increased when she was told that the room was normally only used for staff meetings. Most definitely not fit for political negotiations. But they had some ambassador class conference rooms a mere deck away.

Seven had liked it, liked the no frills, all business room. It was good, she had decided, to remind the people she needed to talk to that they were there to talk, not to get pampered. The only concession to diplomacy had been to have the Federation and Bajoran flags on the wall removed. Leaving those would have sent a wrong impression of favoritism.

Seven truly didn't have any favorites in this conflict. Because when all was said and done, it was far away from her home and all parties involved had shown both moments of great leadership, and great stupidity. She would not have minded if this conflict had resulted in a clear victor that ruled all the territory. At least that would have simplified these negotiations. But on a more basic level people were dying. People that never had seen someone from the other side were told that they were an evil and had to be destroyed. People were killing and being killed for nothing more than the fact that a few people that were in change had an ego that was too big for their own good. And that, Seven had decided, was ultimately the reason why she was here. Because that was going to stop.

'Well,' Seven corrected herself mentally, 'That is not correct, I do have favorites here; the ones that are able to talk without letting their ego get in the way.'

There were three chairs on her side of the table; one for her, one for B'Elanna, and one for Pagsha. Katzi had found a middle ground between being the Royal Guard, and someone that occasionally mentioned something in conversations. Seven and the others always sat on the side of the table that was to the wall, giving a clear view of the door. So Katzi took position against the wall with the other Royal Guards where they could oversee the room. But unlike the other Guards, Katzi was not linked to the Hive during the talks. She had chosen her position so that she basically stood between Seven and B'Elanna. This was easy to give suggestions. And not to forget, despite the fact that Pagsha was her Mate, Katzi's job was it to protect Seven and B'Elanna, in that order.

The Bajoran party existed out of three people. First Minister Shakaar Edon, Major Kira Nerys, and, Seven had been informed, some lawyer. She decided to ignore him unless he spoke up. She had a feeling that he was merely there because he had more knowledge of Bajoran laws. Apparently they didn't realize fully yet that these were the kinds of talks that worked the other way around. Things were agreed upon, and then after that the laws were formed around it to make it legal.

"I was surprised to hear that Kai Winn was unfortunately too sick to attend these meetings," Seven opened. "How about we start this off by you giving me the unofficial, but real, reason why she is not here?"

Shakaar and Kira looked at each other for a moment. "Off the record?" Shakaar finally asked.

Seven shook her head. "Apparently you do not yet grasp fully how this works. There is no on or off the record in these negotiations. Not until the final formal documents have to be signed. There will be no records of just which party was the most difficult, or how easy others were. Though the Klingons and Romulans did get a jump on you there because records will show that they already agreed to become Vassal territories of the Borg before the negotiations began."

Seven saw them relax a little and added, "I assure you that records are not needed while negotiating with me. I am Borg. I have a photographic memory and instant recall. I know each and every word you said and will say during these negotiations; I do not forget."

Well, she did actually, but not things like this. But because Seven was Borg, she did have the ability to 'flag' information as no longer important. Then there was a chance that she would actually forget those things. But as the fact that Seven still remembered some of her childhood proved, apparently not that much information was forgotten.

The Bajorans lost some of their just found ease and Seven prompted again, "The Kai?"

"As you probably know, we Bajoran are a very religious people," Shakaar began. "Because of that, the position of Kai as our spiritual leader is very important. So much so that a person that is Kai must also have a fondness for the power that comes with that position. Kai Opaka was a great example of how this should be done. She used her influence to better and even save countless lives. Kai Winn however, she likes her power more than she should. When she found out about the Borg, and especially when she read the information you sent over, she felt that Bajor's fate would be corrupted because with you spiritual leadership is not even second place; it is nonexistent."

"Ah," Seven said in understanding, "She feared for her power. But because you fear for Bajor more than for your own power, you decided that it is better to see how you can work with us. And the last thing you wanted was for the Kai to cause trouble. I assume that she is momentarily on some forced vacation at a luxurious resort, which has very high walls?"

"Something like that," Kira agreed.

"It is a shame that she saw obstacles where there are opportunities," Seven said. "While we do not have religious leaders in the sense that they can order things, we do have religious leaders that give guidance in their species. And quite some religions have proven interesting to other species as well."

Seven pointed behind her at Katzi. "Katzi is a Zamonan. They believe in a group of gods, but the Zamonan have a patron goddess that takes care of them specifically, protects them. The belief in this patron goddess is actually spreading quite fast in the Collective. It appeals greatly to women that want to be in control of their own life. They find solace in a patron goddess that teaches to love their Mate, but that their own wellbeing comes first. The Zamonan do not have one united spiritual leader, but if they did, that leader would by now be seen as their spiritual leader by twenty times as many people as there even are Zamonan. The Bajoran faith would not be discouraged in the Collective, as long as your spiritual leader has no illusions of having more power than the Borg Queen."

Kira and Shakaar looked at each other for a moment. Both of them envisioning Kai Winn coming to that conclusion. And while it would not mean having a powerbase in the Borg, it would definitely mean more power on Bajor. If she was the one who had been able to bring the word of the Prophets to the stars... She would be more powerful than the entire Bajoran government rolled into one person.

"Then maybe it's better if Winn likes her vacation so much that she wants to step down as Kai and enjoy retirement," Kira finally said. "Vedek Adami Ro is highly respected and she embraces change, as long as we keep the faith in the Prophets."

"A bit young though," Shakaar reminded. "She's only thirty-eight years old."

"All the better. That way she can potentially be a great and stable influence for decades instead of just years," Kira pointed out. "Plus she always says that people should decide for themselves, just let the prophets guide them. Instead of Winn who is always making a show of interpreting the prophet's wishes and saying that Bajor should do what the prophets wish. At worst Adami might insist that people on Bajor choose their own fate, even if this means not wanting to have anything to do with the Borg."

"And they are welcome to make that choice," Seven spoke up. "At the worst that might result in us not permitting ships to leave Bajor, but at best it might result in Bajor becoming a vital part of the Borg Collective. Though all species in the Collective are equally important to us, we do promote certain species to have a more prominent role in their sector so that they can be the people that oversee that things run smoothly at a localized level. Guide where needed, suggest where needed. The Zamonan have become such a prominent entity in their sector of space. The Siill are such an entity because they are the protectors that all others call on, no matter their species or beliefs. Here there are several species with strong opinions. Klingons, Cardassians, Romulans, Breen. This sector would benefit greatly from a gentle and soft-spoken species that urges people to talk instead of argue. Though not a leader over those species, Bajor could become a formidable guiding force in this sector."

"But," B'Elanna spoke up for the first time, "That's a best case scenario. So let's start with something more basic. Why don't you tell us what Bajor wants?"

"What we want?" Kira asked. It was on the tip of her tongue to say 'let me make a list', but she had a feeling that this would be a very bad answer to give. Luckily she was saved by Shakaar speaking up.

"What we want, is to..."

"... keep our fleet," Nechayev stated firmly.

B'Elanna spread her hands a little. "No problem. In fact, that's what usually happens anyway. Just because starships are antiquated and mediocre at best compared to Borg ships, doesn't mean that they're of no use anymore."

She felt a twinge of guilt when saying that. One of those ships had been her inanimate love for years. And even now that Unimatrix 01 was her inorganic lover, there still was this place in her heart for that first true love. The first true love that wasn't a living person at any rate. That first true living love was sitting beside her and loved her all the more for loving their home so much. But still, she wanted to remind the Federation representatives of just how useless their precious fleet was in comparison with the Borg.

After just the right pause to let the words antiquated and mediocre sink in, B'Elanna continued. "When we reach agreements with species, we often find that it's hard for them to let go of their fleets; the one thing that kept them safe from their enemies for years. Be it in real battle, or merely by the fact of having them and therefore not having to use them. So they normally take over patrolling their territory to prevent pirates and smugglers from finding a home there. We find it a good middle ground. That way they still have their fleets, and we don't need to have more than a handful of ships in those sectors. Our ships are then normally the backup, the ships that respond when the weaker local ships have found a problem. As powerful and fast as our ships are, sensors still have only a limited range. So the local fleets become our eyes and ears."

"Having said that," Seven continued where her lover had stopped. "We know that especially in the Federation there are quite a number of species that are explorers at heart. Even if extensive reports exist, even if those people can look at holo-recordings of places, they want to go there themselves. They want to stand in that spot themselves and breath the air, so to speak. It is a tendency B'Elanna and I share as well. Depending how well negations proceed you could use your own ships to explore parts of space that were inaccessible to you until now."

"You wouldn't lend us a few of your ships for that?" Nechayev asked.

"We would," Seven assured. "However, we have found that in the beginning species prefer to use their own ships. If I may use your Starfleet name for a moment? They prefer to use their own ships so that, even though it is because of Borg influence that they can go to a certain location now, it would still be a Starfleet mission. For some reason a lot of species feel that if those same missions are done on a Borg cube they are suddenly no longer 'their' missions, but merely Borg missions. So we promote the use of own ships for such explorations."

"And let's be honest," Pagsha spoke up. "You want your fleets because you are still suspicious of the other parties, even after our assurance that we would not let them attack you. That too is not new to us. Basically we simply wait in the beginning until governments become more comfortable with the arrangements. It's only at that point that they finally realize that using Borg ships instead of their own is a much better option. Borg ships are better, faster, and on top of that they don't cost those governments a single..." she hesitated for a moment. "I think you would say 'not a slip of gold-pressed latinum'. Whereas building and maintaining their own starships is sometimes the biggest spending of governments."

"You get your ships for free?" President Min Zife asked amazed. Even though there was no use of money in the Federation, officially, you basically still paid heavily for starships. Just that it was in other ways. Food that was grown on one planet to be shipped to another, to be exchanged for certain materials, to be exchanged for... it was a logistics nightmare at times.

"That all depends on your definition of free," B'Elanna pointed out. "We have trillions of drones, all of which do a job for us. Some of those jobs exist out of mining ores on planets, some of those jobs exist out of shipping that ore, some out of refining, some out of using those materials to build starships. So, in the end what did a cube cost us? In the end it cost was nothing else than people doing their job. A job for which they're paid nothing, with the exception of us giving them a home, food... a life."

"That is one of the reasons why we have almost five million cubes in the Collective at the moment," Seven pointed out. Nechayev clearly paled at the number that was so casually spoken. And even the blue skin of the Bolian Federation President changed color somewhat. "We have an effective system in place for building cubes. And while we are not desperate for more cubes, we can never the less use them. They are also convenient vessels for group transport."

"With the Individualist drone system that we introduced, transport of drones has increased dramatically," Pagsha explained. "Before those changes a drone was stationed on a cube and that was pretty much it. Only a few ever moved to other locations. But now we have new drones joining, drones leaving again when their time of duty is over, people going to places for vacations. Group transport has pretty much doubled, and we don't see that slowing down any time soon. So we have already decided to let cube production continue at the pace that it's at now, to keep up with that extra traffic and prevent us ever entering the stage where we need more ships built desperately. We estimate that we'll have an estimate of ten million cubes in twenty years."

"You build a quarter million cubes every year?" Nechayev asked in disbelief after a quick calculation.

"As I said, we have a good system in place," Seven merely replied. "Now, we were talking about you keeping your ships. As my stay on the USS Voyager has proven, Borg enhancements can be added to a Starfleet ship and the crew will still consider it fully 'their' ship. So we would be more than willing to work with you so that you can upgrade your ships with Borg technology."

Once again the winds of the conversation clearly changed and a gleam entered Nechayev's eyes. "You would?"

"Sure," B'Elanna assured amused. "After all, even if we were to upgrade them to our latest technology, you'd still be restricted by available space on the ships. A cube will always be more powerful. Simply because we can afford to have weapon banks that are bigger than the mass of five of your Galaxy class ships all rolled into one heap. Plus, the Siill are our allies, and their Fluidic space is the only known source of stable Omega molecules. And that extra kick, the use of those molecules, is something we won't hand out. Even if we were so stupid that we're willing to do so, part of our agreement with the Siill is that the Omega molecules are only used in places where the Hive, and thereby the Siill as well, can directly stop the misuse of the molecules if someone would ever come up with a really stupid idea. So even if you were to take all of our technology and turn it against us, then we'd simply come by with a few bioships and blast you out of fucking existence."

The blunt statement had the desired effect and Nechayev and Zife once more deflated somewhat. Seven and B'Elanna wanted them eager to work with the Borg, but not too eager. Too eager normally resulted in parties trying to anticipate what the Borg wanted instead of listening to what they wanted.

B'Elanna smiled, and it was a genuine one. "Sure, we're looking forward to helping the Federation in any way we can, share any technology we can."

She leaned forward a little, and Nechayev automatically did the same. "As you know, I was the Chief Engineer on Voyager for over five years before I went to live with the Borg."

'Live with?' Katzi asked over the Borg link. 'You make it sound like you had a choice.'

'Oh, but I did,' B'Elanna assured. 'Seven didn't, I did. I could've stayed on Voyager. Besides, it sounds better than the Hive forcing us. As well as we are working with the Hive now, why hold old grudges?'

'Anidan does,' Pagsha reminded. 'And the Hive like her all the more for it.'

'True,' B'Elanna agreed. 'Which reminds me, Katzi would you mind checking how she's doing in her talks with that Romulan representative? I'd do it myself, but I want to focus here.'

'Over Borg link you mean? Sure. I talked to her about an hour ago while you were talking to those others. She had nothing new to say then, but I'll check to be sure. Those Romulans move fast though. They're already talking to our Chief Engineer, while these people only now realize that we have all kinds of goodies we can give them if they play nice.'

'That's because the Romulans were not yet part of the war,' B'Elanna reminded. 'They see us as an opportunity while both the Dominion and the Federation don't like the fact that we don't side with them in destroying their hated enemy. Now, excuse me while I see about getting my old home back.'

"Yes?" Nechayev asked, wondering why B'Elanna was bringing up Voyager, and obviously ignorant to the conversation that was going on over Borg link at the same time.

"Well, I love that ship," B'Elanna explained. "At the moment Voyager has a rich history. But we both know that now that she's back in the Alpha Quadrant, she'll only be assigned the tasks for which she was originally designed; scout work with a little light exploring on the side. She deserves better than that. What would you think of her and a crew being stationed on Unimatrix 01? Where she'll serve as the flagship of the Federation's representative to Unimatrix 01?"

Nechayev looked taken aback for a moment. Then she said on a hunch, "Let me guess, where she would be staffed by an experienced crew. Kinda like the one that's serving on her now?"

"Kinda," B'Elanna agreed. "Though you might find that some of them will now leave Starfleet. We've offered our friends a home with us, and some of them have already accepted. Tom Paris will become pilot of Unimatrix 01, on the Beta shift."

Nechayev wondered why the fact that Paris would join the Beta shift had been so deliberately pointed out. But seeing the small smile that was playing on all the three seated women from the Borg side, Nechayev assumed that it was some kind of private joke. But the fact still remained that a Starfleet officer was willing to leave Starfleet to join the Borg.

In the meantime, B'Elanna continued. "Harry Kim will join us and has shown an interest in setting up a ship's design department. He feels that the step we now have between shuttle and sphere is too big, and we want to see what he comes up with. Their partners are of course joining them. Crewman Tal Celes will be joining us as well. She'll take on the job of Assistant to Seven."

They had been surprised by Tal's request to somehow work for Seven. Not by her request to join the Borg though. After all, like Tal had once told Janeway; Voyager was not her home; it was merely the place she lived. It was clear that the young Bajoran was finally looking for a home. In the end it had been Pagsha who made the suggestion of Assistant. Though the Ghdibrian originally had started out as Seven and B'Elanna's assistant, Pagsha's tasks as assistant had fallen to the side more and more over time, long before this fact had been recognized by Pagsha becoming the Royal Advisor.

Somehow it had just happened, slowly but surely, pretty much from the start. As more people became Individualist drones, Pagsha was sent on errands less and instead people were simply contacted over the communicator. But as Pagsha had pointed out, it was exactly because of the Individualist drones that Seven now needed an Assistant again. With there now being so many Individualist drones that Seven interacted with, the Borg Queen needed a more focused point of interacting.

A person to which Seven could say five different things in five minutes and who then would contact the people in question over a period of hours when they were available, instead of interrupting them on off-duty time. A person who could keep track of meetings, and that would start shifting meetings around without even being told to do so if one meeting lasted longer than expected. A person that could take requests for meetings and tell people that today was already booked full and that, unless it was really important, they were the first tomorrow. That way Seven would not be interrupted only to have to say that she didn't have the time at that moment.

But Pagsha liked the work she now had, and had suggested that Seven should take a new Assistant. A real one this time that would really do assistant's work. While she would be in no way as close to Seven and B'Elanna as Pagsha had even started out with, but she would be a great help in taking care of several daily tasks of the Queen.

"Ensign... well, I could go on. Point is that about one quarter of them have already said that they'll move to Unimatrix 01 after leaving Starfleet."

"But maybe they would be more inclined to stay with Starfleet if they were closer to their new home," Nechayev said, seeing an opening and gladly taking it. "After all, if they were the staff of the Federation's representative, then they could also work for the Borg on a liaison basis while the representative is not in need of his or her ship."

"That is an excellent idea," B'Elanna said brightly. It was clear that they understood each other perfectly, and it was now also clear where Voyager and its crew would spend the rest of their lives, if they wanted to spend it there.

"You said that there are now several species in the Borg that have a certain degree of autonomy, care to elaborate?" Zife asked.

"Certainly," Seven assured. "I think it would be best if..."


Chapter 64

"...I will take the position of the Dominion representative to Unimatrix 01," Ano finished.

"That is however not what I asked you," Seven reminded. She was slowly starting to get irritated with the woman. For some reason she had been very reluctant to say her name, stating several times, in several ways, that she was merely called 'the female changeling'. The name of 'Ano' had finally been produced when Seven told her that the next thing she wanted to come out of Ano's mouth was her name, and only her name. Not even accompanied by a 'my name is'.

It was clear that Ano was not irritating Seven alone because over their Borg link, B'Elanna had already started to change that name to Ano-ying.

"I asked you what happened to Shyra," Seven repeated. "And please answer me this time, or else I will be forced to find myself another person to talk to. Maybe Constable Odo would be more inclined to have a normal conversation."

"Odo doesn't represent,"

"What happened to her?" Seven interrupted. She saw that Ano was clearly still not eager to answer. She looked at the door and at the same time it was opened by one of those huge three legged beings that always stood on guard outside the doors of conference room one.

Ano loved the great link, but the technological link between these people freaked her out. It wasn't the first time that she had seen one of those people suddenly follow an order without first having heard it spoken.

"My Queen?" The Siill warrior asked.

"Pli'aF, order a route cleared to the nearest airlock."

"You can't," Ano started, having no problems understanding the threat. She started to change, but then screamed in frustration when her shape shifting was prevented by the thin force field.

It was the same kind used by Borg drones as personal body protection. With the small change that the control for switching it on and off was a remote device that was at the moment tucked securely into a small pack attached to the uniform of the tall woman standing behind the Borg Queen.

It was a crude, but extremely effective, way of preventing a changeling from escaping between cracks in the floor. Or more importantly, from reaching over the table and assaulting the Queen.

The three legged guard stepped out, and another one stepped in. It came closer and started to reach for Ano.

"No! Wait! She is on the Vorta's Homeworld where she is kept under custody." Much to Ano's relief the thing on three legs stopped coming closer. Suddenly it moved away again and took position outside the once again closed door.

"The route to the nearest airlock is still kept free," Seven informed. "You tried my patience for the last time."

"Why is she kept there?" B'Elanna asked.

"Because she is a traitor to our species," Ano said. "She gave in to your temptation and betrayed us all."

"She gave in to our temptation?" Seven repeated. "What... are you talking about her undergoing the changes to her DNA?"

"She is young, weak. She,"

"She saved the life of every founder that joined the great link in the last few years," Pagsha interrupted with a soft voice. "Oh, granted, it was not a deliberate choice. But she still did. When the nanoprobes were changing her DNA they came across something interesting. We didn't tell her this because we wanted to inform your specie's leader first. Do you know what our nanoprobes do?"

"Yes, you first showed us that you can prevent us from changing, and then you bribed her by changing her DNA to where she no longer needs a state of rest. You took away what makes us one. The great link is us joining each other in a state of rest."

"She can still do that," Pagsha reminded. "Just that it's no longer a necessity. A must for rest doesn't make her join the link. She can also rest all by herself somewhere. She doesn't need the link for rest; she needs the link for a feeling of unity. Something you took away from her by imprisoning her. You took that away, not us. But you know what our nanoprobes found when they were changing her DNA? She was carrying a disease. A disease that slowly changes your DNA with every change to another form, including turning liquid for a rest stage. It makes it harder and harder to change. Our guess is that in the next year not a single changeling can change anymore if not treated. And, doesn't that kill you?"

"You are lying," Ano accused.

"I'm not," Pagsha assured. "The problem is easy to cure with our nanoprobes. We cured Shyra while she was undergoing the changes to her DNA. We have isolated the cause of the disease and have found that it's an artificial creation. Since you are in a war we can only guess that it's some kind of biological warfare. From the incubation period we know that you were only infected in the last few years."

"The Federation," Ano accused.

"Could be," Pagsha agreed.

"Or the Cardassians before they switched sides and joined you," B'Elanna suggested.

"They would have told us," Ano defended.

B'Elanna chuckled. "Oh yeah, sure they would. And right after you told them that they could join with you and that they could then rule the Alpha Quadrant in your name, they would tell you that they infected you with a disease? I think not."

"I wouldn't put it past the Romulans either," Pagsha pointed out.

"You have to find out," Ano started.

"We know all we need to know about that," Seven interrupted. "A war is raging, someone found a way to hurt their enemy, they used it. End of story. It does not matter because we can cure you, and we will. We will not stand by and let a whole species die if we can prevent it."

B'Elanna couldn't help but smirk. "Say the people that have a planetbuster pointed at your planet. But that's the famous, 'if you force us to, we will' kind of thing. You really should have listened to Shyra. She seemed like a smart woman. A bit annoying, but compared to some of you we've met by now, she was a real breeze to get along with. If you had listened to her, then maybe we could've talked over a nice drink instead of you now having a planetbuster hanging over your people's head."

"She was bought,"

"She was brave," Seven interrupted. "We made a claim and she basically told us, 'prove it'. And she was willing to take the risk. Not for her own gain, but for her people. You said that she is under custody. Was, and is, she treated well?"

Ano looked as if slapped in the face. "Of course, we aren't like you people."

"And I think that we are done talking," Seven said, having had her patience tested enough. "A cube just scanned the Vorta's Homeworld and found Shyra's DNA. She is being beamed onto the cube as we speak. She will be the Founder's representative in these talks from now on. And if she wishes, then she will also be the Founder's representative on Unimatrix 01."

"You can't just," Ano began.

Now it was B'Elanna who interrupted. "The Borg take outcasts of all species and make them important parts of the Collective. You wish to treat Shyra as an outcast, then I'd say that it's you that elected her as the representative of your species to the Borg."

"I refuse," Ano stated resolutely.

Seven dipped her head slightly. "I apologize."

"You apologize?" Ano asked confused. This was too easy. Then she narrowed her eyes and asked, "Apologize for what?"

"For apparently giving you the impression that you have a say in the matter. You can go now."

At the same time the door opened again and the Siill warrior stepped in.

"Pli'aF will escort you back to your quarters," Seven explained. "When the cube is here with Shyra we consider that a transfer of power and you will be taken back to your Homeworld."

"The others will not recognize her as our representative," Ano said as Pli'aF lifted her up by a force field covered arm.

"Really?" B'Elanna asked amused. "You mean that they'll pick having no representative and being stuck on that rock you call a Homeworld, over having Shyra being their representative and being once more in control over the Dominion's territory in the Gama Quadrant?"

"You are willing to leave us in control?"

"Had you been willing to actually talk," Seven said, "Then we could have reached that point by now. The Gamma Quadrant prospered under the Dominion, and we see no reason to change that, in the broader sense of the term at least. But, now we will discuss the matter with the new representative. Have a good day."

Once the door had closed again, B'Elanna chuckled. "I know that being suspicious and arrogant is part of their DNA, and people like Shyra can't help it. But apparently it's possible for at least some of them to be arrogant by nature and on top of that by will as well."

She looked at Seven. "Do you think that Shyra will be easier to talk with?"

"She was the last time," Seven reminded. "With her I at least get the feeling that her being difficult can still be done in an interesting and somewhat reasonable way."

"I wonder if a changeling can piss her pants?" Katzi spoke up.

"Why?" Pagsha asked confused.

"Because by now Ano-ying there, as B'Elanna so rightfully called her, has been marched a good way to her quarters and must have seen that the way to a certain airlock is truly kept free."

Seven smiled. "As you know, I prefer not to lie if I can prevent it and not cause problems by preventing it. I merely ordered the way to the airlock to be cleared. I never said why and what we plan to do with that airlock."

They all smiled or grinned. Then Katzi informed, "Anidan says that she and the Romulans are taking a break so that the Romulan representatives can talk a few things through with the people behind the scenes. She has a good feeling about the talks and wonders if we want to join her and Si'zaG for something to eat while she tells us about it."

"Food sounds very good right about now," B'Elanna agreed. "The Zamona restaurant on deck seventy?"

"Anidan was thinking more along the lines of accepting that invitation of Major Kira for that restaurant she said we just have to try on Bajor. Sounds interesting and I for one wouldn't mind checking it out." She hesitated for a moment. "But Seven, being your guard I have to insist on a full ATSD team joining us if we beam down."

Seven nodded her agreement. She was by now well used to having at least a full ATSD team with them on the occasional impromptu planet visit. And of course the rest that one couldn't directly see. Like the dampening field that prevented beam weapons from working, and the transporter lock, and the other ATSD teams being put on standby, and... "Why do we not contact the Major and have her meet us there?"

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

Year 02, Month 01, Day 02, Hour 19, Minute 05.

The six days had turned into ten, but Seven had allowed it. Clear progress had been made. The delays had been for necessary reasons, and not merely for the sake of stalling.

The wait for Shyra had been well worth it. She had turned out to actually be a very young changeling; only two years passed the age of being considered an adult by her species. Despite her young age she had been picked for the mission of infiltrating Starfleet. This for one main reason only; she was truly an extraordinary good shape shifter.

When she took the form of someone, she didn't just copy the looks, but the entire body. When she was a Vulcan she also truly had the Vulcan mental abilities. As T'Lara she had even been able to have telepathic contact. When she copied a Klingon she also had the hot temperament of one. It all came natural to her.

At one point she had even asked if she could copy Seven for a moment. Confused, Seven had allowed it. She had figured that since Shyra had already smelled her, had already breathed in her dead skin cells and had thereby already the knowledge of her DNA and the ability to copy it, it was not like Shyra needed her permission to copy her if she truly wanted it. Besides, since the changeling still didn't have the implants it didn't matter much since she still couldn't fool the Borg into believing that she was their Queen.

Seven had been wrong about one thing though; it did matter. After Shyra had copied Seven, had been her for a moment, she knew just how sincere Seven had been about what they had been discussing at that point. She had suddenly agreed and accepted all of Seven's conditions, at least on that point.

But besides that interesting moment, Shyra was a tough negotiator who was reluctant to give on any occasion. Reluctant, but not determined not to no matter what. Talks had turned tough sometimes, but despite that it had been clear that both sides enjoyed the talks this time. Seven didn't know what had happened to Ano, but she guessed that she was patiently waiting for Shyra to leave with Unimatrix 01. It was not much of a guess that she would try to get some of the power back that she had lost when the other changelings learned more and more how negotiations were going. Most changelings now firmly believed that Shyra had been the one that managed to make sure that the Founders would continue to be the dominant power in the Gama Quadrant... under the soft-handed control of the Borg.

That too had been expertly spun. The soft-handed control of the Borg did mean that there now was a power above the Founders. A power that could form that soft hand into a hard fist if ever needed. But as long as the Founders stuck to the agreements made, that hand would form an iron protection against all others that might try to hurt them. 'That what you control cannot hurt you' was the Founder saying. Well, they didn't control the Borg, but that powerful force sure made sure that no others could hurt the Founders. Most Founders considered that an excellent second option. Especially considering the alternative. The planetbuster had been removed, but only to be replaced by a Borg starbase two light-years away from the Founder's Homeworld. The Changelings had smartly decided to see that as proof from the Collective that they were willing to protect the Founders from others.

Seven was once more in DS9's main conference room and looking at the other parties. No, they were no longer 'the other parties'. Now they were her people.

Though old-fashioned, for some occasions the stylus was still used; this was one of those occasions. Seven signed the capture PADD, being the last to set her signature. Then she looked into the room and at the holo-recorders of the gathered news agencies that were present as well. Knowing that her next words would be transmitted to all four Quadrants, Seven opted for simplicity.

"The others already said all there is to say, so let me merely add the following. To everyone in the Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Gamma Quadrant, I say with the utmost sincerity; welcome to the Borg Collective."



"I have to admit I never expected that both the Dominion and the Federation would actually decide to fully join as Vassal territories," Kira noted.

As normal, once formalities were over, the party started, and this one was quickly working up to be one to remember.

"Yeah. It was the Zamonan that did it again," B'Elanna agreed. "I cannot begin to count the times where we pointed to them in negotiations. At how they were part of the Borg, and yet their Queen is still firmly in control of their territory. And people basically went 'oh, so that's what you mean'."

"Bajor should be one of the first to see the benefits," Seven added. "I have been informed that now that access to the wormhole is once more open to all, trade is already picking up. DS9, and by extension Bajor, will become the place to make a stop. If not for trade, than for a day or two of rest before or after traveling through the wormhole and beginning the second part of the journey. Are you sure you do not want to stay here?"

"Yes," Kira assured. "DS9 will change. I have a feeling that it'll always be colorful and interesting, exactly because it's at the crossroads. But I heard talk of promoting me to Colonel, and just how long will it be before my government decides that I'm needed elsewhere than where my choice is? No, now I can pick, and I'd much rather take this opportunity and become the Bajoran representative to Unimatrix 01."

Kira sighed before adding, "Besides, now that Odo's going back to his people it's a good time to start anew, in more ways than one."

"As I said the day before yesterday, you are welcome," Seven assured.

Kira laughed. "Well, it's not like you'll run out of room any time soon on that ship of yours. Especially because you keep the representatives to five people per government. So that means that the entire Dominion territory and the entire Federation will be represented by five people each."

"Indeed," Seven agreed.

"The Dominion's pick for a representative surprised us all," Kira admitted. "I have no problem saying that. And that you agreed, especially since she tried to pull you into a war while playing Starfleet Admiral."

"To us that merely means that Shyra was serving her people," Seven reminded. They had decided to keep the events of how Shyra became the Dominion representative on a need to know basis. And frankly, only the other changelings needed to know.

"I see that she has a Kilana with her," Kara noted as she saw the female Vorta standing close to the Changeling. "We never saw much of her line around here."

"Kilana will be a member of the Dominion's representative party," Seven agreed. "I have a feeling that she will be more for the administrative side while Shyra will be more for the decision making side. I understood that Shyra's choice had fallen on Kilana Eleven because she seems to have a great fondness for clerical work. More so than other Vorta; it seems to be a trait special to her... line you said?"

Kira shrugged. "I never liked the Vorta much, but they seem to enhance the Founders. Maybe they'll make a good team."

B'Elanna pointed to another side of the room. "There's the Klingon representative. I understand that you worked with General Martok a lot? Does that mean that you'll get along, or that there will be problems from the beginning?"

Kira laughed. "Oh, I like Martok just fine. I think he'll be a great representative for his people. He's a true Klingon, but he does possess the ability to think before hitting stuff. I'm a bit surprised though that the choice fell on him. I would have thought that he had a future on Qo'noS."

"That's why the choice fell on him," B'Elanna said amused. "Though the war put it on hold initially, there's great tension between General Martok and Chancellor Gowron. It only got worse because Martok's popularity with the Klingons grew and grew with every glorious battle won, while failures were blamed on the Chancellor. Sooner or later they had to clash, probably in some bloody challenge. But now Gowron can be the glorious Chancellor that brought the Klingon Empire to the highest glory it ever had, and all that stuff. While Martok goes off playing with the Borg. Just who's the most powerful? The Chancellor that's in control of the Klingon Empire, or the General that talks directly to the power that makes sure that the Chancellor's in control of that Empire? It suits both men well, and at least for now the tensions have calmed down some."

Kira shook her head. "They are Klingon; give them time."

"Probably true," B'Elanna grinned. "But the fact that most of the time they'll be in different quadrants of the Galaxy will help, I hope."

"We'll see," Kira said. She flashed a smile before changing the subject. "So, who'll be the Federation representative, or are they still arguing about that?"

"They settled on a third candidate," Seven informed. "Seeing how the Commander-in-Chief and the Federation President were becoming more and more stubborn in their choice, I suggested someone instead; making it clear that it was indeed merely a suggestion. Tuvok, a Vulcan I know from Voyager and that I consider a friend."

"Which she told them," B'Elanna added. "And which I'm sure helped in agreeing to the middle ground. Nechayev agreed to him because he has an outstanding Starfleet career, and Min Zife agreed because in the nine years between Tuvok's two Starfleet careers, Tuvok worked on Vulcan for the Federation."

"Ah, pity, I was kinda hoping that the Starfleet candidate would make the cut. I really like Jadzia Dax; I consider her a good friend of mine." Kira noted.

"And she will accompany us," Seven assured. "That is another reason why they agreed to my suggestion. Jadzia Dax will be Tuvok's second-in-command. Of course, it is more the Dax part than the Jadzia part that Starfleet wanted in that spot, but that is really only a side note since they are one person. Tuvok's wife, T'Pel will also be on the team, this appeased the Federation President since T'Pel has a long history of being a Federation Ambassador."

"Any word on my suggestion for my own second-in-command?" Kira asked, deciding to cut to the chase.

"Ro Laren has been located in one of the Cardassian prison camps, as you assumed she would be. She was captured when the Cardassians moved on the Maquis. The report said that she was in reasonably good condition, and that she agreed to come here for you to talk to her as soon as the Cardassians let her go. And yes, that has happened by now. I am curious though why you asked specifically for her."

"Would you mind if I only answer that with, 'I had a promise to keep'?"

"It would make me more curious," Seven said amused. "But I would not mind. The selection of the people is up to the specific governments they represent. My only condition is that they are suited for the position; Ro Laren is."

Kira wanted to react, but hesitated when she saw Pagsha coming their way, holding a tablet with drinks for them. Kira took her drink and saw how the tall guard that never left Seven's side took a moment to simply touch Pagsha's arm as she took her drink. That small movement brought back memories and Kira blinked her eyes to prevent the tears from falling.

"I believe I understand," Seven said softly, having seen what Kira had looked at. "One so easily says 'you are safe with me' to a lover, but just how realistic is such a promise?"

Kira looked at her in surprise for a moment before relenting, "Former lover. We broke up before she went off to fight the Universe and get herself into trouble. The last thing I knew was that she joined the Maquis, and, well, we all know what happened there. So I knew she would be either captured or dead. I was hoping for the first."

Seven understood that a change in topic was needed and pointed to someone that had just walked into the room. "There is the fourth member of the Federation's representative team; Ensign Ezri Tigan."

"Never heard of her," Kira admitted. Then she frowned. "Ensign? For such a team? She looks damn young too."

"She is twenty, just," Seven agreed. "Jadzia picked her, though neither of them knows that, and for the time being I would like to keep it that way."

"Then why tell me, and how can Jadzia pick her and not know it?" Kira asked.

Seven smiled before admitting, "I have found that a lot of people appreciate knowing little secrets; it helps in building friendships. I like you Kira Nerys, and I would like to get to know you a little better. What I just told you will not destroy the Universe if they find out, but it might help in getting us closer."

"Oh, really, and just how close would you like to become?" Kira asked with a sexy purr.

B'Elanna pulled Seven against her in reaction and growled, "Mine." Making both Seven and Kira laugh.

Kira lifted her hands in mock defeat. "Alright, yours, if you explain to me how Jadzia picked this Ezri and doesn't know it... if you know that is."

"Because my Mate here can be very sneaky," B'Elanna explained. "Jadzia had a look at the files of the Federation people that were interested in working with the Borg. Her only task was to sift out the ones that were a flat 'no' for the position. What you, and the rest of the representatives will soon find out, is that Seven never merely looks at some info. Never. She'll also look at things we'd never look at, like how big the file is, when it was saved for the last time, how often it was accessed, stuff like that. Seven looked at the people that made it past the clear 'no', and noticed something interesting. Jadzia had looked at Ezri's file for the longest, and also had come back to it several times. Then, when she asked Jadzia about the names on the list and they reached Ezri, Jadzia admitted that she didn't know the person, but 'something' about the file sounded... right... to her. Seven decided that it was as good as reason as any and suggested in her turn the name to Nechayev."

"Hey Seven," Pagsha interrupted. "I heard someone ask a question when I was getting the drinks, and I thought it was a good one. Now that the Borg, and therefore you, rule this entire galaxy; what's next?"

Seven rolled her eyes. "You know very well that I do not rule the entire galaxy."

"No, but you are the biggest force in all four quadrants now."

"I think that it is interesting," Seven said thoughtfully. "Everyone always says that they control this or that part of space. Yet they all have huge holes in their territory. Even we have that in the territory we already controlled before now. The Zamonan are a good example of that. They lived in Borg space, yet we did not know of their existence because a Borg cube had once passed them and sensors did not show anything. I think that it would be a good idea to truly explore and fill those holes. But for us personally? These negotiations are over, but we have to wait a week or so longer for people to get their affairs in order so that they can join us. Since we are here, we could visit a few places. We could take Chancellor Gowron up on his offer of visiting Qo'noS. I would be interested in seeing some of the sights in the First City, other than the palace that is. Then we could also spend a few days on Romulus, I heard it is a beautiful planet."

"We could make it two weeks and add a trip to Bajor to that," B'Elanna suggested. "I mean, we're practically there as it is."

"Please, if you do go to Bajor, allow me to be your guide," Kira offered right away. Then she grinned and added, "I can show you a few places they normally don't show on official tours."

Seeing the tall guard straighten even more at the words, Kira was quick to assure, "Nothing unsafe. Just more interesting than the museum. Like the Nappian valley where they press the Bajoran spring wine. It's said, and true, that spring wine only get's better with age, but it will never taste better than the first hour after the pressing. It's like... well, I don't know a taste that you know that I can compare it to, but it's as if on feelings I would say it's better than sex, and that drinking it is a truly orgasmic sensation."

"Better than bloodwine?" B'Elanna asked amused.

"Oh, yeah," Kira said in a drawn out way. "I think you'll love it."

"We'll see," B'Elanna said unconvinced. Then she turned to Seven. "Well, we stalled long enough. How about it, my Princess, ready to mingle?"

"Princess?" Kira asked confused.

"Private nickname," Pagsha explained for her friends as the Federation Minister came in their direction. Pagsha steered Kira a little away and began. "Let me explain it to you. You see when B'Elanna and Seven were still on Voyager, before they became lovers, they hated each other. One of the favorite insults for B'Elanna to use against Seven was 'Ice Princess' because back then Seven didn't show her emotions as easy as she does now... as she does now with friends. Anyway, when they moved away from hating each other the 'Ice' part dropped, but the Princess continued. And even when Seven became the Queen of the Borg and B'Elanna is now actually a Princess, Seven still is, and always will be, a Princess to B'Elanna."

The End


And here is where the story ends, kinda.

It seems that I just can't help myself. For some reason my characters end up becoming some of the most powerful mortals in existence in my long stories. :)


Now to come to that 'kinda.'

Will there be a sequel? No. This story is over.

But that does not mean that I won't use it as a base for shorter stories.

At the moment I have plans for two stories.

One of which deals with Geisha Obi. (Remember the urban planner that went from having the worst day of her life to the best day of her life in one hour flat?)

And the second one... well, you probably noticed that quite a few Star Trek people suddenly moved to live on Unimatrix 01. You also might want to know that the 'Wonders of the House of Presba' is one of my al time favorite story series. And on top of that I did have a temptation of having more people in a relationship in this story. So you might see a short story homage coming by that centers around a multi person relationship. And no, B/7 will not be part of that group, other than being the best of friends. It is supposed to be a homage, not a copy. The group makeup will be different, so some of the same will be in there, and also the number of people in the group is not yet clear.

But for now. This is it.

Word count for this story:

After the original first draft: 281,386 words.

And after the last edit: 392,084 words.

In comparison, 'Gone with the Wind' has 423,575 words. (According to Amazon.com)

So that gives you somewhat of an impression how thick a book this would make. :)

But, ewww, almost four hundred thousand words. My fingers hurt. :(

And even though I know that there are other long stories out there, I now boldly claim this as the longest B/7 fan fiction story written by one writer. I don't know how many words the Wonders of the House of Presba series is. But since that's a series, plus it's written by two writers, I still stand by my claim. :D

Only thing I have to figure out now is if that's something to be proud of, or something that qualifies me as mental. :)

Started: Not sure; the earliest file date I can find is 22 September 2004.

Finished: 5 January 2009.

Damn, more than 4 years!

Thank you for reading.

Feedback can be sent to: hw@alias-hw.com


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