DISCLAIMER: The story and characters belong to Paramount, etc. They are so not mine and no money is being made from this and no copyright infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is very much an AU; I wanted to reveal that TPTB are impotent when it comes to understanding of what makes a good interaction and a powerful bond. For some reason (no offense to any men on the list) a lot of male writers think powerful women always must engage in fragile-ego futile pissing contests. (Men who write for CSI have done the same thing there as well.) It is true just because there are strong females doesn't mean they have to have slumber parties and be members of "we're woman in a man's world so we have to bond club" either. However I'm playing B'Elanna as a true Maquis someone who sees atrocities and fought against it. I want to play her as if she had seen first hand Cardassian Concentration camps and 'in the like of' Stockholm syndrome refugees freed from those nests of horror. I want to write her as I think she might have reacted to Seven given her background.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 2: B'Elanna isn't rebelling against her Klingon self in fact she embraces it despite her past is the same as it is in Canon. No declawed Klingons here!
SOILERS: Directly for Scorpion I-II, The Gift, Day of Honor, off-hand First Contact, previous seasons of Voyager and all Borg related episodes of the Trek series. Time line and canon are a little off but you are fanfic readers and can adapt.
WARNING:please take careful note there will be mentions of pain and torture as B'Elanna recalls the things she had seen in the Cardassian concentration camps, bearing in mind Voyager Canon as well as Jean-Luc's torture at the hands of a Gull it isn't too hard to believe the crimes they committed against another soul. I have used much of what I heard from survivors of the camps in Germany, documentaries as well as what is available on the net. Please bear in mind I am not trying to exploit this dark history but use the information in this story as writers of the show have done in the past to shed some light on the troubling context. We must remember.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Elizabeth Carter
Tuvok tilted his head when he saw the Captain emerge from sickbay, he might have just as well scooped her into his arms and gave her a bear hug with that very small tilt of the head. "I am pleased to see the rumors of your death were greatly exaggerated."
"So am I Tuvok." Janeway touched the arm of her old friend. "We have a lot of work ahead of us and not a lot of time to do it."
"Indeed." Janeway allowed a brief smile, "I need you to bring Seven of Nine to the Bridge, once I give the word. Just you - no other guards."
"You intend to work with the Borg?"
"That was the original agreement. Events have been altered and none to my liking. We'll talk later about what needs to be done. Right now the only hope we have is to use the megaton warhead and torpedoes we designed. You, B'Elanna and Seven of Nine will make it happen."
"Aye Captain." Tuvok's stance told Kathryn everything she needed to know. The Vulcan was clearly gratified to see command back in the proper hands. "What of the commander?"
"For now the brig until I give further notice."
Again he nodded and it was no surprise to him Janeway had ordered Chakotay incarcerated. But he knew Kathryn Janeway long enough to know there was more to this order than she was letting on or would until she was good and ready to. The Tigress was back in the house.
Whoops, hollers and applause erupted as soon as Janeway stepped out of the turbolift onto her Bridge. Despite her iron resolve the Captain felt tears touch the corners of her eyes overwhelmed by the open joy her crew had for her recovery.
Harry was smiling so widely Janeway was sure his head would split in two, Tom punched the air and punched Kim in the arm. B'Elanna moved so quickly up to the captain Janeway was taken by sheer surprise as the speed of the Klingon. Only sheer effort of will stopped Torres from embracing her captain, instead she squeezed the other woman's arm and smiled.
"I have no doubt you will sail with the Black Fleet Captain, but not today."
It was one of the greatest honors a Klingon warrior could say to another, more so if that warrior wasn't Klingon.
"No not today, B'Elanna." leaning closer she whispered, "Thank you." Her hand lightly touched on the other's shoulder before she moved to her chair. "Report."
It felt good to say it. To feel the comfort of her chair, her bridge. It didn't take long for the senior officers to bring her up to speed on the ships status and how it had been achieved. The why she had held off for the moment. Time was pressing.
Blue-gray eyes studied the viewer, amazed the ship was even able to function in fluidic space. Voyager's stream lined shape took on the image of a creature moving through green dark depths of the ocean, making ripples pass around the ship as it moved through the matter stream.
Hitting her combadge, the captain moved forward in the nest stage of the plan. "Tuvok, it's time."
It was obvious Tuvok had neglected to share with their Borg guest that the Captain had been restored to health and active duty. The surprise on her face was clearly evident. And for a moment the captain could have sworn she saw relief reflected in the one human eye.
"Captain Janeway." Seven of Nine's voice was reserved as it had ever been but yet, under it all it was almost a caress as if the Queen had just spoke the name of Locutus.
"I've relieved Mister Chakotay of his duties, and confined him to the Brig." Janeway responded in such a matter of fact detail, the Borg felt immediately at ease. From their time in the cube, Kathryn had made her observations and knew how to push the Borg. She had to intone in mannerisms and speech the Borg Queen and the Drone reacted favorably. Well as favorably was a Borg could. "I'm back in command."
"And you understand the situation?"
"Completely." For a moment no one moved, Janeway only stared at the young drone before her, then: "Tuvok... give her the nanoprobes... work with her... build as many warheads as you can... and start modifying our weapons systems."
Once more mild surprise found a home on the Borg's young face. She hadn't expected this. Janeway understood the will of Collective; she had the perfection in nature to become an Adjunct. The Queen had wanted Picard, wanted Locutus, Data but they were not the perfection the Queen needed but perhaps Janeway was. The Queen wanted a counterpart, an equal. That was not Seven, not fully as an adjunct she had serviced the Queen's needs but she was a Prime. Her function had been delicately cultivated to become the host of the Queen's consciousness if circumstances made it thus. With Janeway at the Queen's side, Seven decided nothing could stop them.
These thoughts were as long as the space between taking breaths when speaking. Janeway had the Borg's full attention now. "I suggest we think about enhancing our defenses, as well. If we're going to fight this battle... I intend to win it."
"We are in agreement." Was all Seven could say. This far from the Collective, their voices so distant her emotions were exerting themselves; it was something she was uncomfortable with. But at the moment she had no choice but to force herself to adapt to the strange sensations and work with the Voyager collective as their Queen demanded.
Janeway had said she was Queen on her ship and this was something Seven responded favorably to, understood and acted upon. The Collective so far away Seven pulled on the voice of Janeway to ease the distance she felt from her familiar.
"Good. This is the plan: we engage the aliens here, in their space. We show them what they're up against... if they have any sense of self-preservation, they'll back off... pull their ships out of the Delta Quadrant." The Captain gave each crewmember and Seven a potent look "That's provided the weapons are effective. If they aren't...." Once more she looked at Seven and again her voice took on the edge the Queen might have taken though the words would not have been hers. In fact they were dry and flippant "It's been nice working with you."
The crew had had their share of surprise, disbelief rage and utter shock in the past week. This was one of many. The Captain knew her people would react to the sudden change just as they had, but now was the time for action not reaction. Her hand flicked the switch on her chair that would open a channel to all decks. "We've got to get this ship armed and ready in under two hours." Her eyes stayed on Seven of Nine, she straightened her tunic, steeled her shoulders back her voice the purr of a tigress "We're going to war."
Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix Zero-One was unique. She was unique when the Borg first discovered the Raven. A small child, defiant despite her fear confronted the Queen when presented and humorously tried to over power the Queen by mimicking a Klingon warrior. Annika hadn't been afraid. So tiny so small. Resilient and unique. The Queen had personally assimilated the child during the second phase of the procedures.
The Queen was unique amongst the Collective. She held onto her individuality on a level of hyperawareness. She was both collective and individual. In this state of mind, the Queen could and did act of her own violation. It was the Queen who ordered the creation of Locutus instead of another drone. It was the Queen who had started the gradual seduction and assimilation of Data. And it was the Queen now who chose another course of action in the name of the Collective.
Her favorite drone her prime would be sent out into humanity to experience them. It was a conceived idea birthed from the re-assimilation of the drone that had been designated by Picard's collective as Hugh and utilized by Lore, Data's android twin.
Seven of Nine would have a remarkable experience amongst Janeway's Collective. She had been deliberately chosen for this task, Chosen to become the interface, chosen to join Janeway's Collective. The Queen would never surrender Seven of Nine easily. But the needs of the Collective outweighed the needs of a single Drone or the Queen's own will.
The Collective had failed in their first attempt to assimilate Earth, and they wouldn't succeed the next time unless the Collective understood the nature of their resistance. The Queen had chosen her favorite to be the Collective's eyes. To let them see humanity. For this to happen Seven of Nine had to have a human perspective. And there was only one way for that to happen.
Personal and official captain's logs had allowed the Queen to understand the pragmatic Captain of Voyager. She knew the females predilection to collect 'strays,' her moral oath that bade her she must take responsibility for them and aid them in their own personal growth in humanity. a canine beast names Molly, human Amanda Rothery, Klingon-human hybrid B'Elanna Torres, Ocampan Kes, Talaxian Neelix and even the crew of the lost Maquis ship had been collected, assimilated into Voyager's collective or into Janeway's' own Unimatrix.
The Queen had examined the parameters of probability and acted accordingly. Seven of Nine would be sent into a position that would make Janeway sever the Adjunct from the Collective and assimilate Seven of Nine into her own.
The Queen would miss the song she shared with Seven of Nine, but the severance would have to be allowed if the Borg would prevail. For this protocol the Queen felt a bit of regret, for her favorite would remain ignorant. The humans would send her into an unending spiral of pain and loss. If Seven of Nine could survive she would become the greatest weapon against humanities resistance.
"I send you my beloved Prime but destroy her Kathryn Janeway and you will never reach the Alpha Quadrant.
The Borg was in Engineering.
The very idea of modifications being done to Voyager bristled B'Elanna's last nerve. "Look first things first you are only going to do what is precisely necessary to make a stand against our enemy, got that? This isn't going to be some Borg collectable."
"The agreement is for the nanoprobes in exchange for not being assimilated. It was not the Collective that altered the agreement."
"Yeah well don't hold any grudges because of what the commander did to your friends."
"The drones were not friends. Friendship is irrelevant as are grudges." Seven of Nine coolly informed the chief.
"So you don't care if your colleagues got sucked out the airlock."
"You are in error. The drones were significant. Their knowledge and experiences will be added to the Hive Mind. They are a part of Collective, they are not forgotten."
The Klingon thought about what Seven of Nine had said to her. "What about the sacrificed cube?"
"The needs of the Collective outweigh the needs of a single cube or a single drone. They complied with the knowledge the Collective had the best chance of survival if Voyager remained undamaged."
"In the Defense Force it's said the greatest honor a warrior could have is to give his life to defend their ship, their captain in the service of the Empire. Is this how you people see it?"
"An elementary comparison," Seven of Nine said. "Concepts of honor are irrelevant. Only the needs of the Collective are paramount."
B'Elanna snorted in disgust. "This is why you make for unsatisfactory enemy. You don't give a damn about honor, duty it isn't enough to be formidable."
Seven of Nine didn't answer nor rise to the bait. "I fail to see the relevance of this conversation Lieutenant Torres. Do not engage in frivolous discourse. Eighty-nine point seven minutes remain to fulfill the specifications in the modifications."
B'Elanna steadied her mind, and her anger. Voyager was her ship, Engineering was her territory and she didn't take kindly to having it seized by the drone. Unlike Chakotay however Torres decided to take the Janeway approach.
"Fine, work not talk suits me."
"The plasma intake manifold has now been fully modified and the autonomous regeneration sequencers are now in place. You will now reinitialize the antimatter reaction."
"Not yet, Seven of Nine, you will comply with my orders. Make the modifications to the hull armor and to the shield matrix. I want it modulated exactly like a cube, so it adapts quickly and uses the nanoprobes as a deterrent so if any zombie ship latches on it will get a good dose of those little reprogrammed bugs. As you're doing that I will reinitialize the antimatter reaction. It's called multitasking, I'm sure you're familiar with the concept being Borg and all."
Seven of Nine's detached voice became detached. "I am a proficiency drone."
"Of course." B'Elanna smiled knowing she had scoured a hit against the Borg having used their superiority complex against them. The captain had been correct about approaching the Borg like playing a game of Velocity, you had to be faster and more cunning than your sparring partner and more precise with unsuspected moves.
"You are a chaotic individual." If there was emotion in the voice it would have been considered a sneer.
"And your point is?" B'Elanna shrugged indifferently
"It is contrary to the efficacy as an engineer. You would make an excellent annexation drone."
B'Elanna eyebrows formed a 'v' of a frown, "Thanks, I think."
"Most of your species become excellent sentinel or negation drones."
B'Elanna starred at Seven of Nine for a moment before speaking, "A lot of Klingons become drones?"
"They are difficult to assimilate. Despite its futility they resist with great tenaciousness. Once assimilation is complete they've left behind their trivial, selfish lives and they've been reborn with a greater purpose. We have delivered them from chaos into order." Seven admitted. "They adapt well to analyze obstacles impeding the Borg and nullifying them. Others assess defensive measures classify and overcome targets and obstacles. Your culture adapts to service ours."
B'Elanna didn't know how to respond to that or even if she could. She simply absorbed the information. For a few the next half hour things were silent between them but questions burned in the Klingon's mind.
"Chakotay said you started this war."
"He has drawn the wrong conclusions. Borg do not make preemptive strikes against potential hazards. Once a threat is established, however, resources are allocated both swiftly and efficiently."
B'Elanna considered the drone's words against that of a man who was her friend for many years and she found herself siding with the Borg. Seven of Nine was right, the Borg never started wars intentionally, but they did incite them by their actions in seeking out new civilizations and new technology in their pursuit of perfection.
"I just hope this threat is nullified swiftly and efficiently. They are worse then you people are. With the Borg you know where you stand; these flesh-eaters just want to kill for the sake of killing. Necrotizing psychopaths are far worse than assimilating crazed toasters."
This time it was Seven of Nine that became stymied by the other woman's words. It didn't help her to clarify matters since she had lost contact with the Hive Mind and the Queen. The Queen was ever dominating in her mind and it was disconcerting that Seven could only just feel the presence like the lingering thought of a long past dream but nothing more. Without the Queen present, Seven felt herself feeling small and disconnected.
B'Elanna watched the drone become exceptionally silent and for a moment it looked as if the other woman had experienced some sort of electrical shock, her entire body shuddered for a spilt second then returned to normal. B'Elanna's paternal grandmother would have said it was as if someone had walked over her grave, some how B'Elanna doubted that was the case here. The Borg didn't get spooked by boogymen or hidden shadows of fear.
Seven felt the emotional inhibitor rip through her body, shutting down higher emotional responses of anxiety and fear and desperation. A trained response made the proficiency drone become conditioned to return to relevant matters of hand.
"I have completed the modifications to the shield matrix." Seven announced as if the past few minutes hadn't even occurred. Fear was irrelevant as was uncertainty. She was Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero-One and she would soon be reunited with the Collective, with the Hive mind with her Queen. She would feel the Queen's touch once more and feel the empowering sound of the Collective.
For the past week it seemed Voyager had been in a constant state of red-alert. Now was of no exception. Senior staff manning their stations with precision of three years of cohesive team-work.
Janeway glanced at the vacant Commander's chair but she would never allow herself to feel regret for what she had to do, what she had ordered. Her regret was in the knowledge that she could never fully trust the man again. His betrayal was a paralyzing sting and would have killed them all.
The image her first officer became what he had warned her was the true nature of the Borg brought the Captain's attention to the chilling figure of Seven of Nine. The young cybernetic woman was working at Tactical with Tuvok, her enhanced acuity and knowledge of the advanced weaponry would give Voyager the edge it needed to prevail.
Another blue eyed alien standing at the Captain's side was the second edge Janeway commanded. Kes' telepathic abilities intoned a state of hyperawareness could be an early warning system to the brave crew of Voyager.
B'Elanna wasn't on the Bridge but back in the place where she was needed most. However the captain's thoughts went out the young warrior who had a very special place in the red-head's heart. A place Kathryn Janeway shared with no other, and spoke to know one of. 'Qapla, B'Elanna!' Janeway wished her Chief Engineer.
"The Borg modifications are complete." Harry announced the excitement tainting his voice brought a stiff smile of approval from the captain.
"Bring them on-line."
For the past two hours Voyager's engineering crew, Astrometrics, Operations and Seven of Nine had labored to enhance the small scout vessel in preparation to win a war it had little hope in surviving.
Now there was hope. The entire hull thanks to nanotechnology had adapted and reformed the white pristine titanium plating into the mottled emerald glow of a Borg vessel's fortifications.
Janeway couldn't help but take a new pride in her ship. The Borg technology so far activated had turned the sleek shark into a muscular, aggressive war-hound.
"Torpedo launch tubes active... hull armor engaged... shield enhancements stable." Kim verbally check-marked his list of activated controls.
From his station Tuvok began his own recitation. "Bio-molecular weapons are ready... thirteen standard photon torpedoes and one class ten, armed with a high-yield warhead."
The captain nodded her approval, then took her seat, gesturing that Kes take Chakotay's. Toggling the com-panel on her command chair she opened a channel that would allow her to address the entire crew of Voyager. "All hands, this is the Captain. Ready your stations... seal all emergency bulkheads... and prepare to engage the enemy. Stand by for my orders."
Outside the scope of Voyager's sensors green waves of matter slid apart as water, two bio-ships 'swimming' furiously after them as agile as eels, their propulsion systems undulating effortlessly in the fluidic space. They were born here; this was their realm, their space and they ruled it as sharks rule the seas.
Two bio-ships became four, gliding tougher, hunting, searching, moving in and out of the 'pod' around each other, surging forward with intent. They had scented their pray.
"Four bio-ships just entered sensor range." Paris said in righteous terror.
"Battle stations." A Valkyrie stood in the guise of Captain Janeway. The Borg could not have her ship, her crew, and neither could the necrotizing aliens.
"I've got a visual!" Harry shouted over the red-alert klaxon.
The ops control had shifted the main view to reveal four bio-ships in the distance darting straight for Voyager's aft.
The terrible, insectile buzzing in Kes' mind nearly made her deaf to the red-alert klaxon. She shook her golden head, clamping her hands around her ears, grimacing in pain.
"I can hear them..." The Ocampan gasped, nearly weeping. "They want to talk through me " The rage, the horror if it, was overwhelming, She was losing herself, her identity, her essence.
Blue eyes met blue eyes, "They say we've contaminated their realm." Kes choked, every word a razor in her throat.
For making First Contact the Academy had never trained its graduates to handle such an occurrence as the one they were facing now. Knee jerk reaction was to go in the defensive,
"Tell them... we had no choice. We were only trying to defend ourselves."
Kes reached the strongest of the minds in the swarm but trying to get them to understand was daunting. There was so much anger and aggression it was terrifying in its intensity for them to listen. She was glued in place in too much pain and horror to move. "They say our galaxy... is impure. Its proximity is a threat to their... genetic integrity."
Janeway's jaw worried her teeth, her eyes of ice glaring at the screen boring a figurative hole in the duranium plating. "Tell them we have a weapon... a devastating weapon that can destroy them at the cellular level." So much for the passive talk-your-way out method, now it was time to become offensive. "If they don't stop their attacks on the Delta Quadrant... we'll be forced to use it."
"Your galaxy... will be purged!"
Janeway shifted uncomfortably, to hear such malice from the normally sweet natured Kes was an abomination.
Four bio ships pulsed in baleful glowing green-amber light, weapons charging for a full out assault. Two ships split off from the formation, like wolves going in for the kill each flanked Voyager's nacelles, and opened fire. Energy tendrils flash widely through fluidics space conduction like electrical charges through water. Target hit!
WHAM! Janeway felt as if her head had been slammed into by a sledge hammer. Seven of Nine buckled and was sent to her knees as was Kes Even those sitting felt their bodies lift, chucked hard to the side in an avalanche of disorientating pain.
Aft computer terminals both engineering and science stations blew out. Sparks popped and crackled unleashing the automatic extinguishing system for electrical fires.
The ship shuddered once more, another hit. Voyager was crippled. Inside her the crew felt the desperation and terror and the stomach-churning certainty that the whole galaxy was trying to kill them.
"Shields and weapons are off-line!" Kim called out. His voiced clogged in a thick throat.
"I'm re-routing emergency power to the launchers..."Tuvok said quickly.
"They're coming around for another assault." Paris's hands danced over the flight controls as he spoke, "I've lost thrusters. Son of a "
"Bio-molecular warheads are charged and ready." The Vulcan's steady voice interrupted the rant of the helmsmen.
This would be the moment of truth. Everything they had suffered the dangers of the alliance the Borg and the rift of distrust now swamping the captain from her first officer, now they would know if it had all been worth it.
Voyager's Borg-afied hull gleamed emerald power as it open up is artillery cells, its firing solution trained on the armada blasted a staccato barrage of photon torpedoes. It was a high high-octane "gatling gun" effect tearing through the pooling emerald of fluid space. Gaping holes tore through into the bio-ships hulls like bullets hitting living tissue.
No not holes the bio ships absorbed not only the shock of impact but the entire torpedo, swallowing it up like some leviathan gulping down a shipwrecked sailor. No damage!
No damage. But they worked so hard, sacrificed much, fought the thin blade of friendship, loyalty and trust. It didn't work! Who could it not work?
Two more torpedoes, two more ships, two more absorptions of the weapon. And again nothing. No kaboom, no implosions, no sparks. Nothing. The enemy was still coming.
"Direct hit on all four vessels. No effect." Tuvok reported it was a struggle to keep emotions at bay; he was Vulcan he would not succumb even now.
Kim was another story, his body trembled. "They're charging weapons!" But he was a Starfleet officer, who would stay his post, he would fight. He would die a soldier's death.
Bio-ships charged Voyager from all sides closing in for the kill. The Federation vessel was dead in the water. Their weapon's array blinding in radioactive glow, they were ready to fire. Suddenly they fell back, their prey forgotten. Their trajectory became suddenly erratic... listing and rolling... and then bursting from its hull Borg technology! Tubes and nodes and projections breaking out at an astonishing rate... until finally the Borg implant infestation begin to dissolve away and the bio-ship exploded in a blast of fire and organic debris!
The shock wave of debris and expanding gas rocked Voyager like a rutting bull elephant: Paris fought the control yoke, barely keeping the ship out of a tumble that would have smeared them across fluidic space.
Two more bio-ships ruptured in explosions of Borg implants before imploding in necrotizing shrapnel.
Voyager whirled, nearly flipping a 180' before thrusters righted the vessel's position. The surge rippled its effect throughout Voyager's systems; screens, com-panels and lights flickered in protest. Smoke billowed around blowing out circuits. Atmospheric scrubbers drained smoke from the bridge but the effects would be lasting, lungs burned from the caustic fumes.
There would not be a single crew member who would not complain of minor whiplash, lost fillings or insides turned to jelly. To B'Elanna in Engineering she felt as if her stomach had turned to jelly and gobs of serpent works were bathing in it. She was trying to keep her ship together as it was falling apart around her ears.
The Klingon knew deep in the marrow of her bones they would not have lasted this long had it not been for the Borg upgrades.
On the bridge the situation was the same. Janeway ignored the needle sharp headache gnawing over her right eye and knew it was the onset of a migraine. She was already seeing halo's around her crew members and the Borg drone. It wouldn't be long before the dancing lights came and voices became hollow and metallic as if those speaking to her were doing so in a culvert.
"The nanoprobes were successful... if not prompt." Tuvok announced his voice a little harsh due to smoke inhalation. "All four bio-ships were destroyed."
Seven of Nine cocked her head when the humans around her hollered out in whoops of glee and cheer. She knew only that her Queen would be pleased. The Collective would survive.
"I think we've made our point." Janeway's voice took on a cold hard edge, a voice of pure command. A voice that knew it was to be obeyed. Turning to the proficiency drone she issued her orders in the demeanor befitting the Borg Queen. "Now, open a singularity, and get us out of here."
Silently Seven of Nine moved to the remaining science station to comply. She felt a vague relief that Janeway was speaking to her in a manner fitting the Collective will, somehow to the single remaining drone it was curiously comforting. But comfort was irrelevant. And this caused the young woman become slightly disconcerted.
The deflector array powered up as it had before, a ray of pure golden-blue energy shot out from its center. Lazar Scalpel precise fluidic space became rent, as flesh peeling away from the body. Liquid-green masses swirled away from the tear beyond a black 'sky' dotted with luminous twinkling dots. The starfield never looked so good. So real, so normal.
From the quantum singularity slipped a Borg-afied Voyager as if expelled from the green womb. Behind her the rift in space pulled together closing off the other world from normal space.
Cascades of lighting fire struck above Voyager's hull. A miss but near enough to rocket the intrepid vessel into a tailspin. Lioness drove their prey into the maw of the roaring lion. Ambush!
An armada of necrotizing bio-ships awaited them. Too many to count, they had been laying in wait for Voyager's withdraw from fluidic space. All eyes drawn to the picture of Death waiting to devour them.
Janeway braced herself for the fight of her life... turning to the elfin faced Ocampan she asked, "Kes... are you still in contact?
"Tell them if they continue their attack... we'll use the weapon again."
Kes passed the exact words onto the insectoid forms swarming her mind. She heard only roars of rage, not words this time but the cries of battle.
On the Viewscreen, the bio-ships were coming closer closer.
"Evasive maneuvers." Janeway ordered giving up on all communications with the fluidic creatures.
Paris hurried to comply with his captain's orders, no hesitation marring his skills. Voyager banked hard left avoiding the enemy ships first run.
"They're in pursuit." Tuvok called out from Tactical.
"Prepare to fire the high-yield warhead. Aft Torpedo Bay." Janeway commanded.
The Vulcan keyed the sequence into the weapons computer, found a firing solution dead center in the middle of the armada: the best possible locale for deployment that would create the greatest damage allotment.
Paris banked Voyager hard to starboard narrowly missing a dozen bio-ships screeching at them. But Voyager was unable to avoid all enemy fire, one of the tendrils of EM lighting clipped Voyager's saucer section hard enough to send it into another spiral.
"Ready, Captain!" Tuvok called out above the rumbling of groaning engines and din of warning klaxons.
"Do it." Janeway clung onto her armrests so tightly her knuckles had turned white.
Tuvok hit a control.
Like gnats bio-ships swarmed the crippled Voyager moving in for the death blow, so intent on its kill the bio-ships had not a chance to avoid the blast from the aft torpedo tube. By the time they realized this weapon was a high-yield torpedo it would be too late.
Not the typical black two meter case this was a Borg infused torpedo, it was faster and deadlier than anything the Federation had. The crew watched as their hope streaked into the thick of the swarm and detonated in seconds in a series of concentric shockwaves. The massive blast ripped through dozens of bio-ships and expanded into space beyond
Voyager caught in the back wave shuddered again, before inertial dampeners brought the impact under control.
"Thirteen bio-ships have been destroyed... the others are in retreat." Tuvok announced ignoring the fact this voice had been filled with relief.
*Species Eight-Four-Seven-Two have been neutralized. Prepare to rejoin the Collective Seven of Nine."
Seven of Nine felt her own rush of relief to have been touched by the Hive Mind.
"I have regained full contact with the Collective." she said looking to Captain Janeway.
"What are they saying?" Janeway schooled her voice, her features to reveal none of her apprehension that Voyager could still be in a great deal of danger.
Seven of Nine like Kes seemed to look beyond those watching her, her eyes dilating as she sought out more communications with the Collective. Janeway wasn't sure but she could have sworn she saw a look of triumph cross the young female's face.
'The Borg have prevailed. The Collective will see the end of Species Eight-Four-Seven-Two they are retreating."
"All remaining bio-ships in the Delta Quadrant are returning to their realm." Seven of Nine looked at the captain, satisfied if not out right prideful of what happened. "The Borg have prevailed."
'Now you take the Alpha ship, Assimilate Janeway. Her distinctive ness will be added to Unimatrix Zero-one she will become the quadrant Adjunct. Understand they had terminated the agreement when the male refused to comply with the needs of the Collective. That was their undoing. We will send drones to assimilate the others. ' Once more it was the Queen not the Collective speaking to Seven. She had heard One of Many's voice over the Intel the Hive mind had sent to her.
Janeway eyed her guest her inner spirit knowing what will come. The Borg's sting. 'Could it be Chakotay wasn't wrong but what if his actions provoked them still I'm not going to get caught with my pants down.'
"With a little help from us." The voice was sardonic and yet remained aloof. Her blue-gray eyes watched as the tall drone moved to stand near helm control. "Now, it's time you fulfilled your end of the agreement." Kathryn stood face to face with the drone, making the other turn away first from the hard Force ten glare. "Tell the Collective we expect safe passage from here on out. We'll give you a Shuttlecraft... you can head for the nearest Borg ship."
Seven of Nine stared at her, considering her request. And for an instant, it looked like she might go along with it... this was the agreement, as her function as a proficiency drone her task was to evaluate the best optimal pro-action of assimilation of technology and bio-matter. It wasn't efficient for a single drone to assimilate a ship alone. A drone could not function alone. The Collective's order wasn't logical and it wasn't productive.
*You will comply.* the voice of the Queen penetrated and bludgeoned Seven Of Nine's consciousness with such force the drone gasped slightly from the impact. *COMPLY*
"Unacceptable. This alliance is terminated. Your ship and its crew will adapt to service...us."
Seven turned to helm control her and starched out, and twitched as twin tubules snaked out, plunged into the matrix of the console's transparent aluminum surface. Tuvok was a fraction of a second too late to fire his phaser to stop her.
Kim's voice cracked under his urgent yelp. "Captain, she's tapping into helm control. She's trying to access our coordinates!"
"Shut her out." Janeway was the greatest puzzle of all. She had look of pure decision and resolve. Tom wanted to find it reassuring but fear had taken him with the drone looming over him as she was.
Fear passed quickly through Tom, no one was going to take Voyager. No one was going to assimilate him! From a concealed compartment beneath the console the helms withdrew a phaser, aimed and fired point blank range into the chest of the Borg.
The blast should have vaporized her but instead the energy beamed flashed, the Borg's shield had deflected it.
"Resistance is futile." Seven of Nine had not turned her mechanical gaze from the ship's captain.
'I know,' Janeway's mind whispered. She had been waiting for this moment, prepared for it. Ice now filled her own glare; her mouth moved as teeth ground against teeth, her hand struck the combadge, "Bridge to Chakotay." Her lips curled into a tigresses snarl, "Scorpion!"
Seven of Nine had tuned out the others on the bridge, they were irrelevant now, her task was to seize Voyager however futile it was for a single proficiency drone to do so. Her free hand entered in coordinates that would turn Voyager about to the nearest Borg Vessel.
The Collective was whispering as it always hadn't. Then a single voice dominated over the others. It was not the voice of the Queen. Impossible! How could this be, how could that male speak to her.
"Seven of Nine, stop what you're doing." Chakotay's voice hauntingly filtered in her mind.
Seven of Nine faulted, taken aback by the appalling noise in her consciousness. Her human hand rose to her right ear where the neuro-transceiver device was located, something was dysfunctional. Unacceptable!
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