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 5

0600 hours was a dark and grim time to call a senior staff meeting but a necessary evil. The staff looked as if they had each gained a margin of sleep or at least rest but no more than that. Janeway's heart went out to them as this marked her third day with no true rest.

Around her stood Chakotay to her right and Tuvok to her left. Beside him were Tom, Kes and Neelix who from time to time patted Kes's hand.

Next to Chakotay was B'Elanna and the Doctor. Harry's presence in the room was glaringly empty. Janeway stared at the chair he typically took for a moment before she addressed her people.

"I have found a possible way out of our Gordian knot. And we're going to do it just as Alexander did. The unconventional way. Only our sword will be the Borg themselves. I propose we make an alliance with them."

That set off a bomb. Voices clamored and rose in stunned disbelief. Their captain had done it, she had finally gone insane.

"An alliance... with the Borg?" Paris uttered disbelieving the words he had just heard, his face gaping open mouthed.

Circling the room as a mistress of her realm, Janeway held her hand up silencing the room, "More like... an exchange. We offer them a way to defeat their new enemy and in return, we get safe passage through their space." She paused, fixing the Doctor with an approving stare as she continued to define and defend her idea. "In developing a treatment for Harry, the Doctor has found a way to attack the aliens at a microscopic level."

This was the photonic physician's cue not to explain but to shed some perspective on her blank wall with reflective light. "It's still in the experimental stages, Captain. I've only made a few prototypes."

"Nevertheless, if we teach the Borg how to modify their own nanoprobes... They'd have a blueprint to create a weapon to fight the aliens."

"In theory... yes." The Doctor seemed hesitant,

The Captain's attention now turned to B'Elanna, "It's clear from the Borg database that they know practically nothing about 'Species Eight Four Seven Two'."

Of all members around the table only the young Klingon grasped what her captain was thinking 'How very Maquis of her.' She was more than intrigued with what her captain was proposing and smiled her support allowing Janeway to know she knew where the Captain was going with her alliance idea. "That's right. The Borg gain knowledge through assimilation. What they can't assimilate, they can't understand."

"But we don't assimilate." Janeway smiled pleased that her message was getting through to at least one member of her crew, and heartfelt it was the young woman, holding up a finger she spoke as she often did emphasizing her words with her hands. "We investigate. And in this case, that's given us an edge. We've discovered something they need."

"The Borg aren't exactly known for their diplomacy. Can we really expect them to cooperate with us?" Neelix thought about all the trades negotiations he had to make on the behalf his new ship and this was the strangest possible the most deadly one.

"Normally, the answer would be no. But if what I've learned from the aliens is true... the Borg are losing this conflict." Kes added.

"In one regard, the Borg are no different than we are... they're trying to survive. I don't believe they're going to refuse an offer that will help them do that." Janeway concluded

At this point Tuvok was still doubtful of this scheme and wasn't above to pointing it out. "What makes you think the Borg won't attempt to take the information... by assimilating Voyager and its crew?"

All but B'Elanna and the Captain herself nodded their heads and murmured about the validity of this obscene idea.

"That won't get them anywhere." This time her mega-tone full attention was held on the EMH. "Doctor, you're the only one on board with full knowledge of the nanoprobe modifications. I want you to transfer all of that research into your holo-matrix."

"Certainly." The Doctor easily agreed after all he was the only one aboard Voyager that could not be assimilated.

"You're my guarantee. If the Borg threaten us in any way, we'll simply erase your program."

If a hologram could become faint he would have, clearly he had not expected that reason to transfer all the data into his holo-matrix. Suddenly that too was a very very dangerous idea. One he didn't agree with yet had no choice but to comply.

Seeing the look on the photonic man's face Janeway tried to be a bit more reassuring, "It won't come to that... it's in the Collective's own interest to cooperate. Voyager's only one ship... our safe passage is a small price to pay for what we're offering in exchange."

This time no one spoke they were all too engrossed in considering their Captain's mad idea which from what she explained seemed to be the only valid one they could have and yet survive. If only the Borg would play nice.

Deciding she had given them enough time to adjust to the idea, and to the idea it wasn't up for negotiation they were to just do it, the Captain once more caught the attention of her crew. "B'Elanna, assist the Doctor with his transfer. Mister Paris... locate the nearest Borg vessel, and lay in a course. They shouldn't be difficult to find."

"Yes, Ma'am." He was still apprehensive and clearly didn't want to do what she had ordered. He gave a disconcerted look to Chakotay but the bear of a man didn't move and hadn't said a word during the whole of the briefing. Guess mutiny was out then.


All but Chakotay moved for the exit each of them ready to carry out the orders of their captain. B'Elanna and Kes had faith in their captain, she had gotten them out of many scrapes before and many with a slightly maverick approach that would have made James T. Kirk proud and Jean-Luc Picard stand back and consider before he had to make the hard choice. He had made a similar choice at Wolf 359 and became Locutus.

It wasn't difficult to see the troubled expression in the normally wooden façade of the First Officer. Sighing inwardly Janeway confronted the man gravely, "You were awfully quiet."

"I didn't want to say this in front of the others." He rubbed the tattoo over his right eye with his thumbnail before meeting the steel-blue of his captain, "But I think what you're proposing is too great a risk." There he had said it. He had thought once she had taken a rest she would see reason, would see clear to his way of thought.

"How so?" Janeway put her hands on her hips challenging him.

It was a dangerous place Chakotay now balanced on the edge of a knife. He had to choose his words carefully, taking a tactful approach if he wanted to do what he thought was the best course of action.

"There's a story I heard as a child a parable... I never forgot it..." He swallowed as he pulled forth the narrative of his youth. Now it was he not the captain pacing the room like a bull locked in a pen. "A scorpion was walking along the bank of a river, wondering how to get to the other side... when suddenly he saw a fox. He asked the fox to take him on his back across the river. The fox said 'No... I'll get halfway there, and you'll sting me, and I'll drown.' But the scorpion assured him... 'If I did that, we'd both drown.' The fox thought about it and finally agreed. So the scorpion climbed up on his back, and the fox began to swim." Again Chakotay paused waiting for Janeway to grasp the moral. "But halfway across the river, the scorpion stung the fox. As the poison filled his veins, the fox turned to the scorpion and said 'Why did you do that? Now you'll drown, too.' He waited a moment perhaps for effect, "'I couldn't help it', said the scorpion. 'It's my nature'."

As she had with Da Vinci Janeway pondered the words thoughtfully, until she considered everything. For a moment Chakotay was convinced he had gotten through to her, that she would succumb to his will and not order this obscene alliance.

"I understand the risk... and I'm not proposing that we try to change the nature of the beast." She leaned her weight on the conference table deliberately making her body-language that of the superior power. "But this is a unique situation. To our knowledge, the Borg have never been so threatened that they're vulnerable. I think we can take advantage of that."

Almost angered Kathryn didn't follow is path Chakotay shot back mindful to keep the fullness of his anger out of his voice. "Even if we do somehow negotiate an exchange... how long will they keep up their end of the bargain? It could take months to cross

Borg territory... we'd be facing thousands of systems... millions of vessels." He moved further from her the table between them as if to distance himself from the idea of the alliance was even possible.

"But only one Collective." Janeway deftly sidestepped his challenge "And we've got them over a barrel." She circled around the table coming to face him, reestablishing the dance of dominance. "We don't have to give them a single bit of information... not until we're safe. We just need the courage to see this through to the end."

"There are other kinds of courage... like the courage to accept that there are some situations beyond your control. Not every problem has an immediate solution."

"You're suggesting we turn around." Janeway allowed her anger to shine.

"Yes!" He snapped "We should get out of harm's way... let them fight it out. In the meantime, there's still a lot of the Delta Quadrant we haven't explored... we may find another way home."

Like a tigress Janeway circled the table coming face to face with Chakotay showing him she was not impressed with his alpha-male posturing, " Or we may find something else. Six months, a year down the road... after Species Eight Four Seven Two gets through with the Borg." She waved her hand indicating the vastness of space outside the bulkheads "We could find ourselves back in the line of fire. And we'll have missed

the window of opportunity that exists right here... right now!" She was determined to see this to the end, she had no doubts it would work it wouldn't be easy she had no delusions about that but she knew in hear heart in her mind it would work.

Chakotay wasn't backing down either, once more he baited her, challenging the woman. "How much is our safety worth?"

"What do you mean?"

"We'd be giving an advantage to a race guilty of murdering billions. We'd be helping the Borg assimilate another species... just to get ourselves back to Earth. It's wrong!"

"Tell that to Harry Kim." Janeway all but snarled. "He's barely alive thanks to that

species. Maybe helping to assimilate them isn't such a bad idea... we could be doing the Delta Quadrant a favor."

"I don't think you really believe that. I think you're struggling to justify your plan... because of your desire to get this crew home is blinding you to other options." His voice sounded petulant even to him but he was losing the argument. "I know you, Kathryn...

sometimes you don't know when to step back!"

The tension rose more than a notch, the air in the room stifled and purgatorious. Both at an impasse neither one backing down each circling the other, mouths tight and drawn anger flaring as in inferno. Ice burned in Janeway's eyes, instead of raising her voice it turned into a soft growl, "Do you trust me, Chakotay?"

"That's not the issue." Chakotay waved the silly notion out of the air.

"But it is." The captain's voice still low and dark filled with icy fire. "Only yesterday, you were saying that we'd face this together... that you'd be at my side." They were almost nose to nose, her eyes filled with the hurt of his betrayal and iron resolve.

"I still have to tell you what I believe. I wouldn't be any good to you if I didn't." He shook trying not to be conditioned by the hurt he saw reflecting back to him, because of him.

"I appreciate your insights... but the time for debate is over." She took a step back with out stepping down, it was very clear her First Officer had no true faith or trust in her after all. "I've made my decision." She took in a breath of settling air. "Do I have your support?"

"You're the Captain... I'm the First Officer. I'll follow your orders." Once more he tried not to sound wounded and petulant trying to shift all blame on to her. He opted for defiance "But that doesn't change my belief that we're making a fatal mistake."

"Then I guess I'm alone, after all." There was a deep sense of regret in her voice. Steeling herself once more, the command mask in place her tone now became formal and absolute. "Dismissed."

Chakotay almost snapped a salute instead he turned a perfect military 180 leavening the briefing room to the captain where she indeed stood alone.

"Damn it!" she snarled once she was alone. She had no need to feel as if she had to justify her decision it never crossed her mind she had to justify it for it was the right course of action.

Once more her First Officer had shown he had absolutely no faith in her abilities as a Captain. She wondered how many more times in the past he had revealed his true nature. Just who was the scorpion here? Wasn't the former Maquis captain just as much of a scorpion as he made the Borg out to be? How was he going to sting her in the back and cause them both to drown?

Voyager's crew had grown accustomed to the blue and white marbles of worlds, worlds rich, lush and green or as red and orange as Vulcan, worlds of brimming life. What they saw now no one had the words to paint the description. The only recognizable orb was a glowing sun all else was beyond reality.

Voyager had sailed into a Borg solar system, worlds hung in orbit, lifeless, colorless, beautyless. A Darkness settled. Leaden Janeway thought—and course scarcely draw the next breath. The only fleet zipping about were dozens of cubes. Any one of them could annihilate Voyager without so much as a blink of a cybernetic eye.

Nine billion lifeformes on the planet. All Borg. A single Borg could bring Voyager to its doom and her Captain had deliberately set out to find them.

Chakotay gave a smug look to the captain as if he knew he would see regret reflected in her eyes, and a submission that told him he was after all right. What he saw made him sour and discordant. He saw defiance of fear and an iron will as unyielding as that of the Borg.

Torres was once more at ops rather than in engineering, waiting for orders for her valiant captain. Her appreciation for Janeway's courage had gone up several notches, in her heart she knew Kathryn Janeway would prevail she would have the Collective complying with her. There was no doubt in her mind - the younger woman was simply eager to see how it was going to be done.

Tuvok had known Janeway for a long time, and he knew she was one of the most stubborn humans that had ever crossed his path. The only other captain he had served with who was as was Sulu. He too was maverick and bold and he had pulled his ship out of several scrapes and near misses when all hope had otherwise seemed lost. Captain Sulu had ordered his ship to go into the Neutral zone, cross into Klingon space when they were still hostile to the Federation to aid in the rescue of his own former captain. Tuvok had learned that sometimes the erratic behavior served the needs of the many no matter how illogical it was to proceed. He would support Janeway in her crusade for this alliance.

"There are three planets in this system...inhabitants... all Borg. A vessel is approaching." Tuvok announced

"All stop. Shields up." Janeway commanded her voice as steady as it had ever been.

To the outside observer it might have looked like two chess pieces facing each other, sizing each other up. Clearly Voyager was a hundred times smaller but a thousand times filled with more sprit.

"They're hailing us." Tuvok said.

"Open a channel." Janeway already knew what they would hear, but it was irrelevant, it would always be the same thing.

"We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile."

Voyager lurched upward and back, like a boxer stuck in the jaw.

"They've locked onto us with a tractor beam."

Undaunted Janeway straightened her tunic, turned to the massive cube, "Borg vessel, this is Captain Janeway of the Starship Voyager. I have tactical information about 'Species Eight Four Seven Two.' I want to negotiate."

"Negotiation is irrelevant. You will be assimilated."

'Typical' Janeway allowed the small scathing thought even as she turned to the Vulcan who gave a slight nod back in recognition of the silent order.

Torres too took the cue from the Captains gesture and sent the Doctor's 'cure'. Once more she watched as the Borg nanoprobes assimilated the alien cells, hoping beyond hope this was going to work.

The Borg remained silent, no more threats, no assaults. They were perfectly still. Apparently they chose to study the data stream Voyager had transmitted to them. In her mind B'Elanna knew from her experience with the distribution node that the Entire Collective would by now have this intriguing material she had sent them.

Janeway once more addressed the cybernetic menace. "Borg vessel... what you're receiving is a sample of the knowledge we possess. If you don't disengage your tractor beam immediately... I will have that data destroyed." Her voice was as cold and steady as it had been when confronting Chakotay an hour before. "You have ten seconds to comply."

"Their tractor beam is still active." Tuvok said after eleven seconds passed.

"We know you're in danger of being defeated... you can't afford to risk losing this information. Disengage your tractor beam." Janeway addressed the looming mass.

They all expected something, the tractor beam cut off, Borg transporting over, a barrage of Borg weapons deploying. What they didn't expect was exactly what happened.

Janeway was transported from the bridge of Voyager presumably to the Borg vessel dominating the space directly in front of the pristine white bow. The last time a Starfleet captain had been whisked away in such a manner it was Jean-Luc Picard.

Janeway felt the familiar buzz of a transporter beam. The Borg had opted to snatch the Captain rather then deactivate their tractor beam. They had not planted her in an assimilation chamber or a in a nest of alcoves but upon a very narrow catwalk hanging over a bottomless abyss of metallic green haze. A tiny figure among the thousands of inactive drones if it had meant to startle her, intimidate her for a moment the Borg had succeeded.

Kathryn stared straight ahead at cavern alcove after alcove, catwalk after catwalk a city of Borg. For a moment Janeway was left with the image of the Borg's dazzling gate and experiencing a decidedly unaltruistic sensation at the image.

Composure back into place Janeway prepared to face off the greatest threat the galaxy had ever known.

"State your demands." The voice boomed through out the cavernous chamber. Beneath Janeway could have sworn she had heard one voice amongst many, one voice distantly feminine, it had grown briefly louder than the multitude.

Still awed Janeway faced the hive, standing her ground. Her opening gambit appeared to have been successful. At least a line of negotiations had been opened. Willing or unwilling was irrelevant. Confident but not overly so the captain of Voyager stated her demands just as the Borg had commanded. "I want safe passage through your space... once my ship is beyond Borg territory, I'll give you our research."

"Unacceptable. Our space is vast. Your passage would require too much time. We need the technology now." Again the underlying feminine voice was there this time distinctly louder than the others. In the voice was the tiniest hint of desperation.

"If I give it to you now, you'll assimilate us."

"Species Eight Four Seven Two must be stopped. Our survival is your survival. Give us the technology."

So the scorpion speaks. But unlike the insect Chakotay spoke of the Borg were not duopolistic, it was not a trait they understood however they were notoriously stubborn. Reading everything she could about Locutus, Janeway had come to understand a great deal about the Borg.

"No." She said as if speaking to a petulant child. "Safe passage first. Or no deal."

The Borg actually seemed to 'think' over this ultimatum. "Your demand is unacceptable."

Janeway hesitated she already knew this was going to be extremely difficult but she wasn't so pragmatic to believe she would get her way directly. "All right... then I'll take the first step... but you're going to have to meet me halfway."

Once more the Borg paused for consideration. Of course the 'give-take' ideals of negotiations was something they were completely unprepared for and unaccustomed to. The Hive mind had ordered Drones to become active in order to seize the alpha quadrant vessel however… there might be more effective methods at hand.

'They are actually thinking about it!' Kathryn was a bit astonished she had reached this far. 'Thank you Locutus.'

"State your proposal." The Collective demanded after its two minute contemplation.

Janeway let out a gust of air. 'So far so good.' "Let's work together... combine our resources. Even if we give you the technology now, you're still going to need time to develop it." She allowed her words to sink in before finishing her proposal trying to sound as logical as efficient as possible. "By working together, we can create a weapon more quickly. If you escort us through your space... we can perfect the weapon as we…."


What could possible shake a Borg cube?! Nothing Voyager had without depleting her full weapons ordnance. The Borg ship shuddered so violently Janeway feared internal injuries if not whiplash.

Another crackle of energy, another eardrum shattering K'BOOM rocked the cube.

"What's going on?" Janeway ordered the Hive as if they were her crew out of years of command habit.

Unlike her crew she didn't receive an answer to her order. Another jolt nearly sent Voyager's captain over the railing and into the emerald abyss. Kathryn managed to catch onto the railing and pull herself back onto the gantry.

'Critical damage to shields at power sector one-one-one. All drones coordinate repair immediately.'

Without knowing Janeway hazarded a guess as to what had slammed into the cube and it wasn't Voyager.

Voyager's crew watched transfixed at the viewscreen's display of the monstrous and ungainly Borg cube surrounded by a dozen tiny bio-ships - a leaden, lumbering beast attacked by a pale-luminous swarm of insects, insects that packed an impressive sting. Shimmering bursts of EM fire lit up the surrounding blackness, leaving scorch marks of the Borg cube's dully gleaming pewter hull. The cube took another hit and another, taking Voyager with it.

Chakotay picked himself off the floor for the third time, the last impact had sent the Maquis off his feet on a back and up diagonally, then with a jerk slammed his body back down onto floor. "Where did that ship come from?" he barked.

Tuvok had managed to remain in his chair but not without great Herculean Vulcan strength to make it so. "A quantum singularity has appeared twenty thousand kilometers

away." He paused only to read the incoming INTEL, "The bio-ship is heading directly toward the planet."

"The Borg shields are weakening... we might be able to break free of the tractor beam." B'Elanna announced quickly over the drone of activity.

"Can you lock onto the Captain?" Chakotay hoped knowing it was futile. He felt a bitter taste of acrid blood in his mouth and spat it out. Thinking he would never face Kathryn again in a debate, from this he would never have the satisfaction of seeing her admit he was oh so right about this fracking alliance.

"Not yet." Tuvok answered in a mildly annoyed voice which was Vulcan for seriously pissed off. Not even Torres' 'skeletal lock' would work this time brilliant though the maneuver was.

"Commander - nine more bio-ships have just come out of the singularity!" Paris' voice squeaked.

Aboard the Borg Cube Janeway was having an equally rough time of it. Her muscles screamed at her for her desperate hold on the railings so she wouldn't be flung to her death.

"We have made our decision." The Borg said

"I just bet you have." She whispered and to her horror she found she was almost amused by their sudden announcement. Before she could truly respond in question she was jarred once more as the ship trembled with power.

Dazzling bursts of crackling tendrils of lightning phaser-fire converted to form one massive bolt of energy. It missed the ship! How could it miss a target as large as a Borg cube?!

Astonished the bridge crew watched, and realized with mixed awe and terror as they realized the true target hadn't been the cube but the Borg planet.

Defeat was too near. Blast after blast relentless unmerciful, unrelenting blast the necrotizing bio-ships assaulted the Borg planet.

Shockwaves rippled across the surface of the pewter sphere and the planet exploded in a titanic blast. A roar of an inferno rushed into space in a flood of detritus of death and debris. Out of the maelstrom two ships emerged. The behemoth cube and on its leash a tiny federation vessel roared past narrowly avoiding destruction.

Left with only high impulse the two ships soared past until they finally became lost in a sea of stars light years from the battle field.

"We will comply."

Four days ago Voyager was a flood of furious work as the crew of Voyager had prepared the small Intruder-class vessel for its voyage into the 'Northwest Passage,' much of that preparation had saved the little ship.

Still linked to the mammoth titanic limping along in space Chakotay wasn't about to relax his watch.

Only moments had passed since the destruction of the Borg world and the narrow escape, and Chakotay had enacted emergency action. The torpedoes were now ready for launch, Ops and tactical working in collusion to dig in and delay any foothold the Borg might seize.

Chakotay turned back to the screen, watching, waiting. Stealing himself for the inevitable. He was vaguely aware that both Paris and Tuvok had returned to their stations after reprogramming the torpedoes. The Vulcan scarcely took his station before he barked out his new orders.


"Photon torpedoes ready and waiting."

"The Borg shields are off-line. I've got a lock on Captain Janeway."

Janeway? Alive!

Chakotay spun around to his klingon officer of all the things he had prepared for that was not one of them. The Captain was alive and unassimilated. How in the name of the nine hells had she pulled that off? "Get her out of there and break us free of the Cube. Stand by all weapons.

"I'm trying to energize... the Borg are scattering the beam." B'Elanna growled her frustration.

"Compensate." Chakotay ordered needlessly.

Voyager gave a brief shudder. The metal groan of effort made the Chief engineer wince at her poor ship dilapidating condition.

"No effect. It can't be done."

"I don't want to hear what this crew CAN'T do. You're going to make it happen!" Chakotay roared.

B'Elanna jumped back slightly, worry, concern flashed in her dark eyes," Yes sir."

An odd chirp beeped from Tuvok's station. "We're being hailed."

Curious response. Chakotay didn't know if he wanted to hear "You will be assimilated resistance is futile,' but he couldn't ignore a hail. "On screen."

For a brief moment the bridge crew wondered if they would see a Janeway style Locutus. Standing before them,

The gantry was the same but it wasn't a face of a Captain come Borg interface. Stressed but clearly human Janeway stood proud before them. *Commander-cut the transporter beam.* She presented her unflinchable front mainly because she had run out of adrenalin. Her normally austere pony tail was in complete disarray and there were smudges of what might be oil on her cheek but she was very much alive.

"Captain...?" Chakotay stared still agog Kathryn hadn't become one of the Borg. Her orders had further astonished him. He had expected her to say fight.

*Do it.* The crisp order would accept no rebuke.

Chakotay nodded to Torres before turning back to Janeway with a questioning look and a vague hint of disapproval of yet another maverick order.

*I've reached an agreement with the Collective. We're going to help them design a weapon against Species Eight-Four-Seven-Two. In exchange, they've granted us safe passage through their space.* Her husky voice didn't hide the pride she had managed to succeed in the first level of negotiations.

"The Cube is altering course... they're heading toward the Alpha Quadrant." Paris confirmed what the captain had related to them.

*That's part of the plan. We'll work on the weapon en route. Once we're across their territory, we'll give them the nanoprobes.* She paused reading her first officers stone face. Her orders no matter how refutable they might seem to the wooden man would stand. *They appear to be holding up their end of the bargain, I suggest we do the same.*

Once more Chakotay wanted to open his mouth and protest, be it in front of the senior officers and a billion Borg so be it. This was wrong wrong wrong. The Borg could not be trusted! Hadn't it been Janeway that mimicked the voices of Picard and Asimov when she quoted their reports? Hadn't she read Nachaev's standing orders that Borg must be extinguished! Had this woman learned nothing!

Janeway stood before him defiantly. And Chakotay knew he had lost this round. "How do you propose we begin this "collaboration"?" his voice filled with his contempt.

*I'm going to work here, on the Cube. They have technology that'll make the job go faster. I want to take advantage of it.* Janeway chose to ignore his insolence for the moment. Her only concern was insuring this collaboration worked. For now they were safe.

"It's not necessary for you to stay there. We can set up a comlink with the Borg and…" He started as if HE not Janeway were in command.

The auburn head shook and her hand waved him off, *It's part of the deal. I work here.*

The others watched as the tension flooded between them. Both Tuvok and B'Elanna knew the risk Janeway had placed herself in to insure Voyager was safe and they were worried Chakotay would go and do something stupid like try and be a Hero.

The awareness lingered even as the first officer relented, "All right." He was clearly not satisfied with the outcome. "As long as we're cooperating, maybe the Borg would be willing to disengage their tractor beam. We can match their course without a leash."

*I'll propose it.* Janeway said softly almost dismissively. *Mister Tuvok, transport to my coordinates.*


Once more the Captain of Voyager turned her attention to Chakotay, pointedly she spoke in a voice that had made the Borg submit, *We're going to make this work, Commander. Janeway out.* she managed to put his name into bold italicized emphasis and reminded him of his status with a single inflection of her voice. A voice that apparently the Borg were listening to, how could he not?

The screen blinked off and for along moment crew waited for their orders. The next step was up to the first officer. The argument, the battle and the Borg had put everyone on edge. Finally Chakotay turned to the others behind him, his voice uneven and discordant.

"You heard the 'Captain'." When he tried to place emphasis on her name it sounded grating and irritable. His mother would have called him 'huffy.' Already berated in front of the crew his gaze settled on his Maquis shipmate wondering if he could count on her to support him should he need to call a mutiny. For a time B'Elanna had been very supportive of the Captain and right now that was not a favorable trait as far as he was concerned.

Tuvok grew more concerned for the commander's irrationality. Instinctually the Vulcan knew Chakotay would place them in a far greater risk than they were now and that was saying something.

Part 6

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