DISCLAIMER: Voyager and its characters are the property of Paramount Pictures.
CHALLENGE: Written as part of the 1001 Nights Challenge - betrayal.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Scheherazade Stories--#60Betrayal
Ensign Tom Paris sat alone in the mess hall before a cup of Neelix's panacea for all ailments, that Delta Quadrant delight, leola bark tea. Noting the dejected helmsman sitting by himself again, Neelix had hurried out with the steaming cup and a few cheerful words. He'd been just as quickly dispatched back into the galley by Paris's unrelenting churlishness.
"Well," the ever-optimistic Talaxian had ventured before admitting defeat, "I hope you'll feel better soon, Mr. Paris." Then he'd set the cup down and gone back into the galley, more upset at Tom's black mood than embarrassed by being so rudely rebuffed.
Paris choked down a swallow then pushed the offending beverage away. It tasted like gall. His mood blackened further as B'Elanna Torres and Seven of Nine entered the mess hall together, so engrossed in each other that they didn't notice him as they found an empty table at which to share breakfast before beginning their shift. Knowing smiles and longing looks followed the two oblivious women as they made their way to their table. Paris was humiliated to notice the quick, uncomfortable glances some of the crew shot his way as they became aware of the dicey geography of the tables and the suddenly emotionally charged atmosphere of the mess hall.
Oh, now this was intolerable! Resentment began to burn deep in the pit of his stomach as he watched the lovers. They seemed unable to peel their eyes away from one another and only reluctantly looked up to acknowledge Neelix, who'd hurried over to welcome them and offer them breakfast and tea. Then they nearly blinded him with their smiles, delighted as they were in everything and everyone, the natural extension of their delight in each other.
He was about to beat a hurried retreat and report a few minutes early to the bridge when his attention was arrested by the entrance of Captain Janeway into the room. He watched as she scanned the faces and, as her glance settled upon the two women sitting more closely than their circumstances would seem to warrant, smiled. She made her way over to the table and sat down with them, smiling more broadly than she had in weeks. Swearing savagely under his breath, Paris pushed himself from his table and stalked out.
If he'd wanted to make an impression upon B'Elanna by his outraged departure, it was lost upon her and the women with her. They'd not even realized he'd been in the mess hall.
As the days since B'Elanna had dumped him wore on, the loss of his girlfriend to Seven of Nine rankled more and more. And yet, the target of his anger was neither of the two women. Rather, it found its focus in Captain Janeway. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that, had it not been for her inexplicable decision to split up the crew and press on for the Alpha Quadrant, he wouldn't be looking at parting from B'Elanna forever. At least if they would remain one crew, he'd have the chance of working on her, of making her see reason. This thing with Seven was just some misguided, temporary insanity. Some left-over sentiment from their time shared on that planet. Oh, sure. It was probably quite a ride, being with Seven, the hottest thing this side of Alpha Centauri. Paris had to admit he'd been seething with jealousy for both women. But B'Elanna'd get over it. It was nothing like what they'd had-what they'd still have if it weren't for Janeway.
What the hell was she thinking? She was jeopardizing the entire crew of Voyager and their chances for survival! She really needed to be stopped. But, he knew, there was no getting her to see reason once her mind was made up. Stubborn bitch. Thought she knew what was best. And because she was Captain, she could have everything her own way. Well, not this time! He scowled at the image of Janeway chatting and smiling with B'Elanna and Seven in the mess hall.
Grinding his teeth, he entered the bridge and took his seat at the helm, saying nothing. Commander Chakotay's eyebrows shot up at Paris's unusual silence. He glanced over at Tuvok, whose own expressive eyebrow rose in silent acknowledgment of their mutual recognition of Paris's behavior.
Chakotay mentally sighed. He knew well enough the reason for Paris's surly mood. The whole ship was abuzz about B'Elanna and Seven. Frankly, he was glad the crew had something to talk about other than their imminent separation into two groups, those who would leave to stake a claim on the planet they were approaching, and those who'd take their chances with Voyager and her ongoing search for fuel. Paris was the one wild card in the deck, though. Not now, Tom, Chakotay thought. Come on, buddy, keep it together till we get settled on the planet. He stirred uneasily in his chair, unable to quell the worry over what a hot-headed helmsman scorned might do.
Captain Janeway was trolling the decks. She hadn't been able sleep anyway, and she'd begun to walk through the ship during the Gamma shift, taking it all in, loving it, all of it, all of what went in to the making and running of a starship. Her ship. The smells-leola root stew in the hallway outside the mess hall, Vulcan meditation oils wafting on the air near Vorik's quarters, the faintly locker- room odors near the holodecks. She chuckled at the thought that such a purified, sanitized environment as a 24th century starship would be so redolent with scent, so evocative of the people and their personalities-their needs, their desires, their joys and sorrows. She'd promised to do her damnedest to make Voyager a good place to work, to live. But she'd had so little time to bring it all about, to set into motion her vision of what a Starfleet vessel could and should be, before their world had been so irrevocably changed.
She paused as she found herself outside Astrometrics, the department she'd created for Seven, the long-lost little human girl, wrested from the nearest thing to evil that she'd ever encountered-indeed, that she'd believed possible. She pictured the beautiful young woman who was emerging from the . . . the thing that the Borg had made her into. She smiled at the thought that Seven was sharing with B'Elanna the one experience that made individuality such a joy, such a pleasure. Then her brow creased with a new thought. Was it guilt that made her take Seven of Nine on as her own personal reclamation project? Was it compensation for her decision to strand them all so far from home in the first place? Did she believe that saving the humanity of one, lone woman could possibly make up for altering the lives of 141 people?
Her people. Her crew. How she believed she'd get them home! How she'd needed to believe that! And now they were facing their most disruptive crisis yet. Ten years. She'd held it together for ten years. But soon the crew would split into two separate camps, camps whose members would never-never-see each other again. For the thousandth time she ran through her options. Had she overlooked something? She began her slow stroll again, her hands clasped behind her back, her head bent in concentration. Could she have arrived at a different solution, one that could have kept the crew united?
Her reverie was disrupted by the sudden awareness of another person approaching from behind her, and the view of arms flung over her head, and the wire around her neck, choking her breath, cutting into her skin, and the futility of her hands plucking at the tightening wire, and the fleeting thought that every Starfleet captain lived with-that the possibility of death awaited at every turn.
But not like this. Not a member of her own crew. Oh, no. Not like this . . . .
Seven of Nine stared at the Borg Queen with a fragile, weakening resolve as she finished her story, her eyes bright with unshed tears. Relating the events of the past few weeks, giving form to happenings she'd not witnessed, imagining thoughts and conversations she'd not participated in, all to keep the Borg Queen entertained and to buy some time for herself and her crewmates, was taking its continuing toll. She'd been sedated by the pair of drones on the previous night. She did not know how much longer she could continue, speculating, extrapolating upon what she knew and what she'd surmised. And while the events she related had actually happened, she could only imagine what must have gone through her crewmates' heads as the incidents transpired, one by one in a series of causally related happenings, moving inexorably from one eventuality to the next. Could no one have intervened to stop it? Could no one thing have been changed to alter the course of events? She'd accessed the ship's logs and the crew's personal logs as things had deteriorated aboard Voyager, trying to get a feel for what was happening. She grasped for an understanding of the raveling of a previously ordered, well-run organization. It still made no sense, and as the immeasurable losses mounted as she told the story of the end of Voyager, she wanted to die, herself.
"Your Captain has been deactivated," the Borg Queen stated baldly. Seven gasped at this new blow. "She was too badly damaged to repair."
"When?" she rasped out.
"Shortly after your arrival, after the destruction of your vessel," replied the Queen.
"After you destroyed it!" accused Seven, her blue eyes flashing with rage.
"You and your crew of weak humans and other deeply flawed specimens were already well on your way to destroying it. We merely facilitated the inevitable, after we salvaged what technology we found useful to our needs, of course," the Borg Queen pointed out.
Captain Janeway! Seven thought, looking away from the Queen, trying to come to grips with the enormity of the loss. She reached out a shaky hand to the bulkhead to stabilize herself, her other hand going to her stomach. She knew that the Captain had been severely injured in the attack against her life, but she'd put that thought aside in the chaos of the ensuing days, during the downward spiral of charges and counter-charges of treason, betrayal, and insurgency. Voyager became easy prey for whoever chanced by, practically dead in space as the crew proceeded to tear one another to pieces. It seemed the ultimate insult that the Borg would be the race that would benefit from Voyager's self-destruction. Seven held herself and closed her eyes at the sheer madness of the ship's ignominious end. Finally she turned haunted eyes to the woman who now held her destiny, her once and future Queen.
"Soon your pain will be over, little one," the Borg Queen crooned. "I have heard what I have wanted to hear, learned what I have wanted to learn. I have but one more question to explore."
Return to Voyager T/7 Fiction
Return to Main Page