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


Part 11

Chakotay had known what Kathryn had meant when she had said that word in sickbay. She had called on the betrayal of officer to officer, First mate to Captain friend to friends. She had called him scorpion because his sting had paralyzed her, had nearly cost them their lives and the ship. When she said it again she told Chakotay that they not the Borg would become the scorpion and sting the lone drone, before the collective would command her to do the same to them.

In truth they were all scorpions.

This particular scorpion had taken over the 'nest' of the Drone. The neuro-transceiver device the lost drones had attached to him while he was stranded to form the 'colony' into a unity was now back on his neck just behind his right ear.

Just as he had been linked before, his eyes were open when he used the device to send and receive messages from the mini collective. This time he formed a direct link to Seven of Nine by using her own alcove.

"You're human... a human individual..." His mind sent softly, gently assuredly like a programmer in a cult to convince a potential member in joining their group… their 'family.'

*Do not listen!* The Queen's sharp voice struck out against the intruding voice. "You are Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix Zero-One. You are the Prime of the Queen!*

The EMH wasn't aware of the power struggle Chakotay was having against the Queen as he was taking the bio-readings. But he didn't like what he saw on the medical tricoder readout. He turned to the Klingon engineer. "His link is stable, but it won't be for long. You must hurry!"

B'Elanna only nodded letting the doctor know she had heard him. Her entire concentration was consumed by the Borg computer interface. "Just a few more seconds." She managed to say before returning desperate attention to the complex systems of the Borg database.

Seven of Nine was still hooked to the console. Her face contorted in confusion , pain and fear. What her mind's eyes was seeing was something the Borg had buried, had deemed irrelevant. For the most part emotional connection had been sent to the Vinculum. But she was an Adjunct she was allowed to retain some memories as were all Adjuncts designated for Royal Protocol.

"I can see your memories... you remember being human." Chakotay's voice echoed hollowly in her mind. The intruder forced her to see a little girl with flowing sun touched golden hair running on a green lawn giggling and laughing as all children do. So little. So human.

"We are Borg." An acclamation made out of desperation.

All eyes were now on Seven of Nine, the Captain standing particular close, a guardian a warrior, a queen.

'I see a young girl... a family...' Chakotay's tiny voice taunted, with flashes of the past.

The child barely more than a babe in arms running up to a woman with wheat gold hair, beside the woman a man with blue eyes and sandy blonde hair. The man picked her up and swung her around. A name… a name was on his lips… 'Annika.'

*Irrelevant now. We are Borg. Our Thoughts are one. One order. One voice.* The Queen reassured her suffering drone.

'Annika your name is Annika!'

*Seven of Nine. Your designation is Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix Zero-One.*

'Annika, a little girl' he meant to show her a small child, a child who was not a threat a little girl not a full grown woman that she was now. He wanted her to see the child not a Borg warrior the Queen willed her to see.

*You are our Prime. Annika is irrelevant.*

Janeway watched Seven of Nine's expression change from uncertainty to one of cold denial. The tactic wasn't working. The scorpion sting wasn't strong enough. Not yet.

"Irrelevant. Your appeal to my "humanity" is pointless." Seven hissed.

He was sweating; his body ridged from needle sharp pain running down his spine into his mind, for a moment Chakotay felt as if his head might implode from the intensity of the headache. He couldn't hang on; the Queen's influence was too strong.

The pain in his face was mirrored by concern in the Doctor's "He's losing the link!"

"Initiating power surge - now!" Torres belted out just as she hit the final command in the data-com system.

From behind Chakotay's right ear there was a crackle of electricity and the hum of energy building. The EMH was forced to hold Chakotay by both arms to support him. His body stiffened, then there was a loud pop.

Seven pulled in two directions her mind tormented with memories, switched to preserving herself, her free hand feverishly tapping commands into the console. She wanted to be free of the tin voice, to go home, to be with the Collective.

Something popped in the back of her skull, a sizzling crackle of energy surged through her body. Pain. Agony so much pain!!!

The alcove whined from the building power hit a fever pitch where Torres was working over the conduits of the work station. Another crackle of surging power, energy from overpowered circuits run along the walls until it made contact with Seven's alcove and Chakotay's link. The surge blew out the neuro-transceiver in a shower of sparks.

Seven of Nine screamed in a pain she had only felt once before during her assimilation into the Collective. Implants in the back of her neck exploded in a spray of sparks and tendrils of electrical energy.

On the second breath, her body fell hard to the deck in a boneless heap. Tuvok and Rothery move into position, taking custody of the body.

"Her connection to the Collective has been severed," said Tuvok as emotionless as ever.

"Get her to Sickbay." Janeway commanded not without compassion. "Bridge to Doctor. Report."

*Commander Chakotay's going to be all right. Although he may wake up with a bit of a headache.*

Janeway acknowledged, "Get him to sickbay. Tom, plot a course out of Borg space. Maximum warp."

"Ma'am." The helmsmen didn't have to be told twice. Eagerly he plotted the most direct course that would take Voyager the hell away from cybernetic purgatory as fast as possible.

'Pursue course…"

"Negative." The Queen overrode the Hive Mind. "Sleeper Cell protocols now in play. Seven of Nine will remain with Voyager Collective."

"One Drone can not survive alone."

"She will survive. She is unique. She is Prime," The Queen settled the voices of the Collective. She was One of Many; she was the Borg, the Beginning and the End. She was the voice of the Collective. "The Borg will not fully pursue our Prime. Voyager is not a target for Assimilation."

"WE will comply."

A feathered quill tip was dipped in a pot of black Indian ink with a calligrapher's careful precision. A soft scritching of nib on heavy cotton rag stock followed. Words penned on the paper flowed in an eloquent cursive that would reveal the writer a person of great confidence and command.

'Captain's Log, Stardate 51003.7.

Three days, and no sign of Borg or bio-ships. We appear to be out of danger... but the entire crew is still on edge... and so am I.

Janeway sighed slowly, her breath caused the flame of the candle on the writing desk to flicker slightly. Here in this solitude, of Da Vinci's studio Janeway meant to find her peace. The ambient sound of horses hooves clicking on cobbles outside the windows of the studio were a comforting sound. As was the moody warm glow of the candlelight.

The captain dipped the quill into the inkpot once more but paused in her writing when she heard the footfalls of her first officer climbing the stairs of the studio's loft.

"Am I interrupting?

Blue-gray eyes lift from the paper to Chakotay now standing at her side, a data PADD in one hand. At first Kathryn kept her tongue long enough for the First Officer to second guess his decision to bring the Captain the information he held. They had yet to truly speak to one another. In fact in the past three days, Chakotay had seen very little of the Captain she had even sent him to Beta shift for the time being. Officially it was to 'help oversee the repairs of Voyager and maximize senior officer supervision.' The truth, neither one was ready to confront the elephant sitting in the room each time they were in the same vicinity as the other.

Professionally they had seemed to have worked out the kinks well enough that get Voyager out of danger and disconnecting Seven of Nine from the hive Mind but they still hadn't spoken on a personal level. The friendship had been stretched thin like butter spread over too much bread.

"Not at all. Just finishing up my Log." Janeway said at last.

Noting the paper and quill he smiled ruefully "The old-fashioned way."

"I wanted to get as far away from bio-implants and fluidic space and..." she lifted up the quill, twirled the feather between her fingers, "…this feels more... human somehow."

Chakotay took the moment to hand her the PADD. "I hate to spoil the mood, but you might want to look at this Engineering report."

Taking the PADD she still said nothing, making Chakotay do all the work.

"It'll take at least two weeks to remove the Borg technology from our systems." He took a breath "B'Elanna did note that the power couplings on Deck Eight work better with the Borg improvements."

Janeway considers the implications of the Borg technology now fused with her ship, shrugged, "Leave them." Knowing how her first officer wanted to kill the drone too she was almost surprised that he hadn't taken the incentive in this situation as well and murdered the lost drone as she continued to remained in a coma. "How's our passenger?"

"The Doctor says she's stabilizing... her human cells are starting to regenerate."

Janeway looked thoughtful, gauging his response for hidden messages, waited for his 'sting' because he was only following his 'nature'. She half expected a sermon they should destroy 'it' before 'it' destroys them. "I wonder what's left under all that Borg technology... if she can ever become human again."

The captain left the writing table to take the warmth of the holographic fire, the flames highlighting the reds in her mane.

"You plan to keep her on board? You should just terminate her."

He hadn't disappointed her. Janeway knew he would want Seven of Nine destroyed. She had to make sure he wouldn't betray her orders on this as well. We pulled the plug... we're responsible for what happens to her now."

"She was assimilated very young... the Collective's all she knows." He leveled his gaze on Janeway just as he had when she had first brought up the idea for an alliance. She had made a grave error then and she was now. He had to make her see that. "She may not want to stay."

"I think she might. We have one thing the Borg could never offer..." her voice a soft purr of dominance and human concern. "Friendship."

The word hangs in the air. A clear reminder of what was now on the scales between the two of them. Their relationship has been strained by this adventure and it's not clear exactly where they stand. Once more the silence became very awkward, forcing Chakotay to become defensive as he tried to excuse his actions or at least the reasons behind what he had done. "I want you to know... going against your orders was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do."

Speaking with her hands as she was want to do, Kathryn confronted the issue head on. "I understand. And I respect the decision you made." This couldn't have been a greater surprise to Chakotay if she had tried but she wasn't finished, "even though I disagree with it. What's important is that in the end, we got through this... together. "She paced in front of the fire, her eyes now glowing with the reflection of the photonic flames. "I don't ever want that to change."

Chakotay nodded woodenly "Agreed." He did what he felt was right, and he would never apologize for it, they both knew it.

The captain moved to the fire and faced the former Maquis commander nose to nose. "Good. And Chakotay never fuck with my ship or my orders like that again. Or it will be you out the airlock." Her voice became a deep resonating smoky snarl. "Don't ever try me again."

He stood frozen; she had drawn the line more than that she had him but the figurative scruff of the throat as she-wolf dominating the alpha-male of the pack. She was top bitch and there would be no challenge of that position or that authority ever again.

"I think it's time we get back to our Bridge." Her voice softened once more, the voice of the Captain he knew and respected. She no longer had to show him his place, he knew it and would not contest it.

"No argument there." He managed out of a tight throat glad he still had one to speak with.

In stark contrast to the warm glow of the Da Vinci studio simulation Seven of Nine lay on the surgical bed in the harsh ambient light of Sickbay. The past three days, there were no sign of consciousness in the former proficiency drone. One might have thought her features peaceful if not for the Borg implants marring such a beautiful face.

Kes looked down at the lost soul, her hand tentatively not out of fear but out respect reached down and touched the torpid figure. Three days in a coma caused deep speculation with the crew and their captain what was to come when Seven of Nine eventually woke up?

"I know you will feel fear, and desperation to find your center in world that you don't understand and won't be willing to understand you, but the captain will help you Seven of Nine. You have to trust her. She's helped me in ways I could never imagine and I think …. I hope I have helped her. You'll be good for her." Kes smiled warmly at the memories she had made on Voyager with the Captain, the roads they had taken together.

"She's a hard woman, Seven of Nine, I suspect you know a thing or two about such women, being close to the Queen as you were. I know how close you were to her, what you mean to her and what she means to you. I can see it in your mind. You just have to trust the Captain." Her lithe hand stroked the bald head tenderly as if touching a broken abused child.

"She will appear harsh, and strict that is her nature. It is also her nature to be caring and passionate. She will fight for you when you don't think she will. She fought for Neelix when she didn't even know us that well. She fought against those that took his life, she will fight for you in the same way. She will stand for you against her friends because that too is her nature. You have to trust Kathryn." Kes touched her soft lips to the Borg's forehead. "If I can I will try to help you, but I think my time here is nearly finished, I feel myself being pulled in a different path another direction and it isn't the path Voyager is on. I must make a new journey and so you now will have to take my place with Kathryn. Perhaps even more so. Give her what she wants but is too afraid to take when given."

Soft hands stroked the bald head again soothing as a mother to a child locked in sickness. "You are going to be okay Seven of Nine. You will be. I'm just sorry I won't get to know you better, we could learn much from each other. Be at peace Seven of Nine you are safe now. Just try and remember after the fear takes over you are still safe. You are not alone, even when you feel you are the most alone, you're not."

After the third day of her coma state, the doctor requested that Seven of Nine be moved back into her alcove, least she die in her unconscious prison. Maneuvering the drone however was another matter entirely.

"Moving her from here to cargo bay two will be easy with antigrav sledge or internal transport but manhandling her into the alcove is another problem. You can't just beam her in to recharge. It has to have a personal touch" The chief engineer said dryly to both the captain and doctor. "With that exoskeleton armor it isn't like she is a size three model. Even with my half-Klingon inheritance I won't be able to handle her on my own. One of the Vulcans will have to help if you want to move her once we get her there."

Janeway nodded, "Tuvok will insist on being present during the transport himself, he might as well lend a hand." Janeway answered. "I want her beamed into cargo bay two; there you can position her into place in the alcove while Tuvok supports her."

"Aye, Captain."

Both women unknown to the other found themselves studying the prone form in front of them, both taking in the idea that now they had a Borg drone amongst them.

One saw a rescued human deeply in need of medical and psychological care, the other saw a prisoner of war taken from one cell and placed in another both not of her choosing. B'Elanna couldn't help but think that now Voyager had become Borg after all and had assimilated a person against their will. Still there was a part of Torres that saw a refugee freed from a concentration camp so deeply under the 'Stockholm Syndrome' that she would know little else and fight to get back to her captors. An abused child will often defend the parent that has been hurting them because they can't disassociate the pain from the parent. Seven of Nine would be of the same mentality.

"Permission to speak freely, Captain?

"Go ahead."

Janeway was intrigued what her Chief Engineer might have to say. No doubt the Klingon hybrid would detest the presence of the drone after all the Borg had damaged her baby. And B'Elanna was if anything overly protective of Voyager. Privately Kathryn snickered at the inward thought of the mission briefs she had read where one Montgomery Scott had been tormented and hassled by the Klingons, they had insulted the crew, the captain but when it came to insulting the ship the chief engineer blew a gasket and opened a can of old fashioned Scottish whoop-ass on the Klingons.

The Klingons actually admired the Scotsman for the act of defending his ship and fighting off six warriors. B'Elanna was the same as the Scotty the Miracle Worker… she fought tooth and claw for her ship. Hurt her baby and you were an enemy for life, insult the captain and she might forgive you.

"Captain, have you considered that trying to make her a part of our crew could be something of... ill but well meaning intent?"

"Our First Officer implied something similar. He doesn't believe she will want to join us or that she will want to revert to human after being Borg for eighteen years."

"Maybe it's not going to be on purpose, maybe it's not even conscious! But she will resist, ironic her being Borg and all." The Klingon half-smiled at the joke. Before her coffee colored eyes took on another note of deeper concern. "What she suffered as a kid on her ship and while being a Borg will translate anywhere as incredible abuse."

"B'Elanna, I trust your words above Chakotay's in this matter more than you can know because I know you were in a Death Camp, I know you suffered. You were there a month but I know. And I know you sympathize with refugees but Seven of Nine is not any different, somewhere under all of that Borgness is Annika Hansen. She only forgot.

"Captain I know that a part of her will want to face it all again to become Annika and another part clearly doesn't. What will happen if it looks like the part that doesn't is winning? I helped in separating her from the Collective; I think maybe forcing her to become human to be one of us isn't in truth best for her."

"B'Elanna I appreciate your view, but I don't agree. The Borg took everything from her, we can give it back, I will have to make some tough calls in the future with her, no doubt but I remain optimistic - besides… from what the doctor told me its already to late to drop her off at some world or give her a shuttle, her human immune system is rejecting the Borg implants, we have an obligation to Seven of Nine now."

B'Elanna nodded feeling her views on the subject become inert. The captain had made up her mind and it was final. "Of course." B'Elanna conceded her protest, "I want you to know Captain, I won't let you down with her. I'll do what I can for her as an engineer."

Janeway's stoic classic features softened into a smile. Her blue-gray eyes became azure glowing with pride for her chief's words and the truth behind them. "I appreciate that Lieutenant." The smile returned, "I have every confidence in you. And I know you feel like the Borg abused Voyager and I know how guarded you are over 'your' baby, but I gave the order that caused Seven to comply and half-assimilate our ship. Try to remember that when you're dismantling the Borg components. And if some systems like our shield matrix and power couplings are improved by the additions then leave them. We can use all the advantages we can get."

"I'll post you regularly what components of the Borg improvements I think we can work with and those I know to be dangerous or incompatible with the crew who aren't drones."

"Good." Janeway nodded her approval.

Taking this moment to address something on her mind the captain moved closer to the younger woman, her delicate hand touched the Klingon's shoulder in a very soft caress. "B'Elanna, I wanted to let you know what you're willing to do for our new member of the family means a great deal to me, But what meant more, what means more is that you took a stance against Commander Chakotay for me. I know you're far closer to him, and he is…"

"You are my captain, Captain." B'Elanna tried to shrug off the feelings burning in her gut from uncertainty of her deeper emotions for the redheaded woman. "I stood for the honor of the ship, of your word to the Collective. He might have cast it off; I couldn't and have continued to live with myself. There might have been a time when I would have chosen to stand with him just because I had issues with Starfleet, with the Federation. But like I told Chakotay, I am a daughter of the Empire; a Klingon warrior defends her ship, her captain, her honor. I won't let him take me down a lesser path because he has personal issues."

B'Elanna looked down at the Borg female in a coma. Then back up to Janeway her own gaze now softened. "You do collect the strangest strays, Captain. Me, Kes now Seven of Nine being our mentor, friend..." B'Elanna paused there for a moment she wasn't willing yet to bring up the fact that Kathryn was something more to her, something deeper.

To defuse her own tension, Torres applied her other well used tactic of dry humor to defuse the conversation "Good thing you had practice with me as a difficult pupil because she's going to be one bitch of a tough shell to crack. You think I had a chip on my shoulder when you first met me, Seven of Nine will have one reinforced with Borg shields."

Janeway chuckled at that, "Maybe B'Elanna. But we will get through to her, I got through to you." Her hand touched the chief's shoulder one more. She moved in closer almost as a lover, "Right here, right now, its Kathryn and B'Elanna." Blue eyes danced as they studied the younger woman, "One thing I know I remember when I was on that bed, was your touch, what you gave me… your words…" a hand caressed a caramel cheek, "Your words pulled me back B'Elanna. The touch of your sprit to mine pulled me back. You should know that." Her voice had always drawn B'Elanna to her on instinctual carnal level had intensified. "You gave me back myself."

They stayed like that for a moment locked in intensity of emotions and thought.

"I… can never repay you for what happened between us on that shuttle Kathryn. But I had to try; I had to let you know. Kes helped me, I don't know if it was some sort of mind meld like the Vulcans, but she allowed for me to touch your spirit. She helped me find you."

"And you did." Her face shimmered in a brighter glow. A breath and Kathryn pulled back leaving only the Captain to remain. "We have a Borg to move."

B'Elanna swallowed hard as she forced herself back onto the role of Chief Engineer. "I'll get right on it Captain."

"Good. Do it."

Despite the fact Janeway had control over Voyager, Cargo Bay Two still remained alien to the rest of the Starfleet vessel. The transformed surroundings were dimly lit and swirling with mist, just like the environs of a Borg cube.

Janeway had not ordered a refitting of the cargo bay, as it was not yet a priority added to the fact the current environment was more suitable for the healing drone. The doctor had pressed growing concerns for Seven of Nine's continued health. Two more days had passed since B'Elanna and Tuvok moved their 'guest' into the alcove and still she remained in a coma.

B'Elanna trailed her captain but her attention wasn't on her commanding officer but on a tricorder she had been using to monitor the cybernetic implants of the Borg, with a great deal of fascination. She was curious to find out why some components were in a state of entropy while others remained functioning and still others fell into a state of torpor.

Janeway wasn't unguarded in fact she was closely flanked by the ever present Tuvok and Lt. Rothery. Neither security officer seemed to be willing to allow the captain anywhere near the deadly drone without an armed escort. Both of them had their weapon's drawn and pointed at Seven of Nine's head and heart even as Janeway approached the silent figure.

Blue-steel eyes studied the statuesque form in silent appraisal. "So, how's the newest addition to our family?"

B'Elanna looked up from her diagnostics when she heard the voice of the Captain speaking to the Doctor who he himself monitoring Seven of Nine with a medical tricorder.

"At the moment she's stable, but the prognosis isn't clear. Her human physiology has begun to reassert itself. Respiratory system, neurological functions, immune response... But those systems are swarming with Borg implants There's a battle being waged inside her body, between the biological and the technological, and I'm not sure which is going to win."

"Well, it's time we brought her up to date. Wake her."

The EMH nodded as he punched in the commands in the com-panel of the alcove and severed the Borg from her regeneration protocol. It wouldn't be fully enough to rouse her in this state of hibernation so he had to resort to the use of a stimulant. Taking a hypospray epi-pen from his medical kit he injected the carotid artery in the drone's neck.

"Captain Janeway…" the voice filled with contempt suddenly paused in stark fear. Her one organic eye darted about widely searching trying to focus on the unseen. "What have you... The others, I can't hear the others! The voices are gone."

There was intense fear in the voice, fear that B'Elanna in a surreal moment wanted to take away. She moved in closer to the panic stricken woman in the least threatening manner.

"We had to neutralize the neuro-transceiver in your upper spinal column. Your link to the Collective has been severed." Janeway related coldly as if she were the soulless EMH.

"You will return this drone to the Borg!" The fear became a demand. An order. Seven moved to confront the captain but her weight bucked under the sudden nauseating movement.

Both Tuvok and Rothery stepped forward each taking aim but held their fire.

"I'm afraid I can't do that" Janeway said almost callously.

"You will return this drone to the Borg!" a plea of pure agonized terror.

"If I were to turn this ship around and head back into Borg territory I'd be putting my crew at risk. I'm not prepared to do that. Try to understand, you have to stay on board Voyager. But I'm offering you freedom from the Collective, and I assure you we will do everything we can to help the transition." Janeway's voice was now filled with compassion as if she were speaking to a family pet gone feral.

'You have to "stay" aboard Voyager?' B'Elanna scoffed.

The worst thing for a Captain to experience is to be put on a pedestal by crewmember then fall in their sight. Torres, who had pledged her oath of loyalty felt as if the Captain had personally betrayed her, betrayed her honor as well as the Captain's own. A fall from such heights breeds resentment, anger and frustration. The Klingon indulged her anger. 'Who in the hell put you in charge of her destiny? Just like the Federation enforcing their view on everyone. And when you don't turn out like fracking carbon copies they scold you, put you the brig and lecture you until you wish you had a disrupter to disintegrate your brains.' B'Elanna rolled her eyes. 'Offer her freedom in the face of a pleasant prison, just like you did with the Maquis.'

"You will supply us with a subspace transmitter and leave us on the nearest planet. The Borg will come for us." Seven demanded.

"It's too late for that. Your human cells are starting to regenerate. You won't survive without medical care." To B'Elanna the Captain seem to think her words were enough to sway the young Borg-warrior.

"We need nothing from you. We are Borg. We are - ah!" Seven screamed holding her head.

Tuvok not Janeway was the first to react, he used her greater strength to shove Seven back into the alcove using a suppressive hold on his captive. Rothery moved in supposedly for a kill shot but Torres darted in front of her, if they had to neutralize Seven of Nine it wouldn't be a coward's way.

The EMH seemed completely unfazed by his patient's belligerent protests; his primary concern was her body's distress. The medical tricorder wailed in warning over the diagnosis it was kicking out over the HUD.

"This implant is being rejected by the tissue underneath. It's going to have to be removed." The EMH announced as he ran a scanner once over the dying drone's body. Torres waited; if any of her skills could be used she would gladly submit them.

"You will suppress the human immune system!" the fear had edged back into Seven's voice. B'Elanna hated to admit that the fear Seven was experiencing leached over into her own spirit making the Klingon more concerned for the stranger than she might have been for another Maquis.

"I'm sorry, but the process has gone too far. We've got to get you to sickbay." The EMH informed the distressed young Borg.

"No! We are Borg! We are Borg!"

She moved once more and once more Tuvok slammed her body into the alcove this time with an audible crunch of metal against exoskeleton and bone. The Doctor darted in with a hypospray this time filled with a sedative. B'Elanna not Rothery or Tuvok had positioned herself into place and was now holding the drone up.

"Captain… if we give her a shuttle like we were going to before we severed her, the Collective will reassimilate her."

"Or deactivate her for being too far damaged, B'Elanna I know you think me cold, but she is our responsibility now. She won't respect a softer touch, but the command tones of a Borg Queen. I won't abandon her; you have to trust me that I know what is best."

It grated on B'Elanna that her captain who once held a place of honor had taken a fall. Janeway had Seven's best interests at heart but it was Janeway's interpretation of what those interests were. B'Elanna simply could not let it go; she resented the captain for falling from the pedestal. "With all due respect Captain… you sound like a Cardassian warden," The Klingon challenged. "You will do this, we will do this…"

"Excuse me, but the merit of this discussion needs to wait. I have a patient that needs to get to sickbay. Site to site transportation if you don't mind Captain."

"Lt. Rothery and myself will accompany you Doctor."

"She's in a coma Lieutenant she isn't going to assimilate the ship in this state." The EMH protested.

"Nevertheless the drone is still a threat, she will be carefully monitored."

"Captain…" Clearly the holographic physician was taking exception to the tactical officer's insistence of his presence in sickbay.

"Do it." Janeway's blue eyes became a touch grayer, "There are protocols that need to be followed, Doctor. Our security chief will not hamper your efforts to save our refugee's life. This isn't negotiable Doctor, just make it happen."

The Doctor, patient and security detail vanished in the humming buzz of internal ship's transportation leaving the captain alone with the lieutenant. The EMH wasn't the only officer to remain disgruntled.

"B'Elanna…" Janeway took a step closer to the Klingon her hands raised showing she was of no threat. "You know more than I what the effects of being in a concentration camp can do to a victim. You know the consciousness of Stockholm Syndrome. Seven of Nine is now facing this. Like I said in sickbay a week ago, we have to make the decisions for her, help her restore her spirit. To find her humanity. "It isn't going to be easy and at times I have to be detached as you saw me in here. But I will not abandon Seven of Nine. And she is going to need a friend like you. Someone who knows what it's like to be a victim… a survivor of death camps. Seven of Nine might have been alive in the Collective but it was only a survival, her spirit was crushed, her soul entombed so deeply she might as well have been a prisoner in a death camp."


This armour plating is anchored to the skull with over three million microconnectors." The EMH announced after running a medical tricorder over the drone's head. "There's no time to cut through them. I'm going to have to remove the outer layer of the skull itself." He attempted to circle the medical bed but stopped as he tumbled over the Vulcan standing in his way. The Doctor shoved past the other male as forcefully as he could. "Lieutenant, will you please leave the surgical bay!"

"This Borg is a security risk." Tuvok excused his reasons for being a hindrance.

Even Kes was a little perturbed by the absurdity of her mentor impeding a medical procedure. The Doctor pushed around the stubborn wall of Tuvok, his brown holographic eyes glaring at the indignity of his patient had to suffer as well as the doctor's own hampered progress in his attempt to save a live. "She is heavily sedated. I assure you she's not going anywhere."

The Vulcan took a minute step back almost facetiously to spite the EMH.

Photonic eyes rolled, "Thank you." His voice was as sardonic as the step back had been. He turned toward his apt assistant ignoring the Security chief as best as he was able considering the fact Tuvok insisted upon hovering over the surgical bay. "Kes, I want you to anaesthetize her cranial nerves. Twenty milligrams inetrazine."

"Yes Doctor." The elfin faced Ocampan averted her gaze from the drone to a tray of implements across the medical bay, fixed upon the hypospray she needed, even before she could make a move to retrieve the device it teetered up on its own sailed through the air and zinged into her waiting hand. The EMH was gobsmacked. So was the Vulcan standing watch. Rothery herself was a little shocked at the show of telekinetic powers.

"Kes?" It was the doctor who first found he had a voice.

A cascade of golden locks shook, "I don't know what happened. I looked at the hypospray and it just came to me."

Tuvok left his post as watch dog over Seven of Nine, knowing Rothery would have it under control, his concern now lay with a far greater priority. Once before Kes displayed phenomenal prowess with her abilities. And had lost control over them. "Have you been experimenting with your psycho-kinetic abilities?" His voice reproachful as if speaking to a child not his pupil for such a breach of training. He and Kes both knew the dangers of such an act. She had once nearly killed him because of her experimenting. The doctor had begun to run a medical diagnostic with the same tricorder he had previously used on Seven of Nine. Kes tried to ignore him as she answered her mentor. Tuvok had a right she realized in his demand to know if she was doing any extra curricular telekinetics, but the simple fact was Kes knew she was changing, becoming something more than what she was. She was Ascending.

"No, not for months, but I have been feeling a little strange lately. Lots of energy, sleeping less." She said matter-of-factly.

"I can see why. Your serotonin levels are sixty two percent above normal. It's the telepathic centers of your brain." He said reading the screen of the tricorder in his hand. "They're in a state of hyper stimulation like they were a few days ago when you were in contact with species 8472." He said snapping shut the tricorder shut and laying it aside.

"Are they attempting to communicate with you again?" Tuvok was a little more than concerned. They had very little time to generate another couple of warheads with the same yield of altered nanoprobes if this was the case, and Voyager's engineering crew were already dismantling the Borg defensive enhancements.

"No, this time it's different." Kes said assuredly, "I don't feel their presence at all." She set down the Data PADD she picked idly up without recalling doing so.

"Perhaps she's experiencing an after effect of some kind." Tuvok suggested to the Doctor who once again rolled his eyes.

"A reasonable diagnosis, for a security officer." His tongue dripped with sarcasm. Kes chose to ignore the bantering of Vulcan and Doctor "I'll run a full microsynaptic analysis, but it will have to wait." He turned back from Tuvok and Kes to the woman lying on the surgical bed, "We should get back to our Borg."

Part 12

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