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 8

"Captain," The EMH's voice was smooth offering genuine care. "You are in critical condition. I have to warn you your injuries are extensive."

"Understood." The voice was not the powerful husky sound familiar to the Captain of Voyager, it was thready, weakened with pain and hurt. "Imperative…." She breathed hard, trying to formulate each word by each excruciating word. "Speak with Chakotay."

"He's on his way Captain." The EMH answered gently. "Let me tend to the injuries I can until he arrives. Until then I don't want you to talk. And you must save up your strength Captain. Tuvok is here, his wounds were mostly superficial and he will be fit for duty once Kes is finished with him. I heard the Borg have been beamed over by your authorization. I'm concerned but I'm sure you reached an agreement over this."

"Must make it work. We must."

"Trust your crew, Captain." The Doctor gently intoned. "Now please save what strength you have."

Kathryn managed a head nod. Or at least she thought she had nodded it hurt too much to move, each word, each movement pulled so much power, so much energy. Had she even been talking or had she imagined it?

'Seven of Nine,' The Queen's voice seemed isolated from the white-noise of the Hive Mine so much so the young drone knew her Queen was transmitting directives to her alone. One of Many often isolated her Adjuncts from the Collective though the others were aware of this protocol they judged it as irrelevant to their own tasks.

'As Prime you are the eyes and ears of the Collective, of Unimatrix Zero-One. You will act on level of Royal Protocol. Harvest all knowledge with in Voyager's Primary computer core concerning Captain Kathryn Janeway. Access all official captain's logs as well as personal logs kept by Janeway. Transmit all data to the Central Plexus of Unimatrix Zero-One. Comply."

"I understand." Seven of Nine didn't hesitate to carry out the mandates given to her by the Queen. The fifteen other drones diligently continued in converting the cargo bay into a mini-collective cell. Seven moved to the port wall computer terminal. It had limited access allowing the purser or any other crewmember to easily access the cargo manifest.

However using her assimilation tubules and commanding the secondary nodes to activate Seven of Nine was able to directly tap into the main computer core. If any none Borg had been watching they would have seen Seven of Nine 'zone-out'. Her one human eye unblinking, the pupil dilating, as her optical implant switched parameters of visual acuity, allowing Seven to be fully aware of any threat in her immediate surrounding area. Unlike tactical drones or even secondary surgical assimilation drones Adjuncts had the benefit of secondary awareness and thus not placed in a dangerous situation myopic concentration would otherwise have left her in.

Seven's voice track slipped making her sound more mechanical "Access granted, downloading all relevant files of Captain Kathryn Janeway: USS Voyager. Accessing all personal files Kathryn Janeway. Transmitting now, Unimatrix Zero –One stand by.'

It wasn't until Chakotay had stepped into Sickbay that he realized he had just complied with the directives of the thing in cargo bay two. How in the name of the nine hells had she made him obey her? It was unacceptable!

His dark eyes now glowing with racial hate Chakotay stomped into Sickbay up to Tuvok who by now was sitting on the bio-bed with a near accusatory glare. 'How dare that Vulcan allow Janeway to bring those things onto Voyager!'

The current object of the commander's illogical rage was sitting on a bio-bed, being treated by Kes. Chakotay watched the elfin woman labor over Tuvok for a moment longer before he noticed that in another bay The Doctor was diligently working over Janeway. The commander was quick to note the worried expression on the hologram's face. What ever happened to Kathryn it was bad.

Turning his attention back to Tuvok, Chakotay approached the other man. "Glad to see you back with us, Lieutenant."

Tuvok tilted his head. "Thank you Commander. The Borg that transported over with us. Our liaison is the female Seven of Nine what has happened with them?"

"They've assimilated cargo bay two... and they're drawing energy from the secondary power couplings." The accusation was still hot in the commander's words.

"But they've gone no further."

"Not yet." Chakotay crossed his arms over his chest, his eyes boring into Tuvok, "I've sealed off decks nine through thirteen... and posted security details at every access point."

"I suggest we increase security around Sickbay, as well." Tuvok reasoned. "Seven of Nine is a difficult personality and so far Captain Janeway is the only one she has responded to in any positive light. The Collective might have conceded to the Captain's order for the moment but the Interface drone was still very much controlled by the Hive mind, by One of Many."

"Already done." A sharp and reprimanding response. "How far did you get on the weapon?"

"We're ready to construct a prototype."

Kes completing her scan of Tuvok put the medical tricorder down on equipment tray behind her before addressing her patient "You're fit to return to duty, Lieutenant." Kes said in her soft silken voice.

"And you, Kes?" It was the tone of a father inquiring after his child. Vulcans may not show emotions, they repress them but it can not said they do not love their children. And Kes had become very much a surrogate daughter to the logical man. His concern for Kes was deep, genuine and honest.

Her unsettled mind could not be concealed but like the Captain herself, Kes was determined to hang on to the strength she had and face her dangers, to reach out and accept the help of those who cared for her. She tried to hide her uncertainly but it came out in a tremor as she spoke. "I'm... all right. The visions have stopped... for now."

Tuvok could only nod and accept the answer Kes had given him. She clearly didn't want to discus it further, perhaps because of the wafting rage coming from Chakotay or fear of invoking the power of the aliens. Whatever it was would have to wait for another time. Kes had already made the decision the topic and conversation was over by moving off into the labs readying it no doubt for the upcoming surgery on the captain.

The EMH moved from Janeway's bedside, worry on his face hadn't left since he saw her lying prone in the cargo bay. Huffing out an unnecessarily breath, he faced the two officers and Kes. "The plasma burns to her thoracic region I can treat... and I've already stopped the internal bleeding." Four heads turned to look at the too still body of their Captain. When the EMH spoke again his voice was grave holding little hope for the future. "But her neural injuries are going to require some creative thinking."

Chakotay could only gaze at his friend's broken body. Had the drones done this to her? He was right, he should have simply killed that female while he had the chance, now matters were worse.

Tuvok had believed the question had been directed to him and thus answered "Before we beamed out, an alien energy discharge struck very near the Captain."

"Well, it appears to have disrupted all her neuroelectrical pathways. I'll have to induce a coma to protect her higher brain functions. But I must tell you... unless I can repair the damage, she may never regain consciousness."

This was devastating news. The EMH had announced the very possibility of the loss of Kathryn Janeway.

Chakotay turned to Tuvok his lips curling into a snarl "Make sure those Borg stay put!" his rage was back ten-fold. "I want tactical updates every twenty minutes."

"Aye, sir." Tuvok answered in the clear tones. "Shall I resume working with them?"

Chakotay glanced toward the injured Janeway once more. "Stand by for now." 'How can he ask that? They brought this to us. They did this to her. Work with them? No Tuvok we should exterminate them and take our chances alone.'

Tuvok headed for the door. His worry for his captain was vast as space it self, but he wondered if the true danger to the ship wasn't the Borg drones but a single man bent on vengeance. One name asserts itself into the Vulcan's mind and it wasn't Chakotay. 'Ahab must hunt his whale but at what cost to the crew and ship/'

"The Captain wishes to speak with you. Please keep it brief." The EMH demanded not only attention but adherence to the time limit of visitation. Time was not an ally and death ready to snatch away the leader of Voyager's crew.

Chakotay's only indication of compliance was a nod of his head. Soft steps took him to the surgical bay, to Kathryn's side. Monitors were over her hovered over her head keeping a full diagnostic on her state. Glancing at them Chakotay saw her life signs were thready at best.

This brave woman who had fought for her crew, faces numerous obstacles and power-hungry governments was now so fragile, a tiny thing really, her face pale against the blood and soot on her tunic, the bruises marring her face.

She was barely conscious, but fighting to stay alert for a moment longer. When their eyes met, the commander had seen the fire, the determinations to make the alliance work still burn. Acid bit his gut with a ten-megaton nutron warhead.

They hadn't spoken privately since their argument in the briefing room when she had conceived the idea of an alliance with the Borg. It had been a painful moment then to. In that briefing room their friendship had been at stake for in that moment Kathryn learned her first officer, her friend had no faith, no trust in her. He told the story of the Scorpion and she had listened. Now with Sergeant Death ready to arrest her, Kathryn paused in the grim knowledge she was the fox and she had been stung but the scorpion was not the Borg. It had become a bitter acrid taste in the back of her throat. And now so near that silent sleep she must taste it again.

"The Doctor... explained... my condition." Each word was a struggle. Fighting to stay conscious was exhausting; fighting to make sure Chakotay understood was ripping any strength she had left. "You're... in command."

"I understand."

Trembling, tears of pain fell from the corner of her eyes trailing soft wet lines along her cheeks. "They'll push you... threaten you... anything they can... to get their way..." It was a warning, a pleading sound of desperation. Swallowing hard, only made her words a rasping cough. "But they need you... they need this... alliance." Her hand reached up clutching at his tunic, gripping it as tight as she could, Chakotay had to hold it there for she only had an infant's strength. Her eyes now dark with pain looked deep into his own, into his soul and found that even now the man was trying to underscore her own position.

"You have to make this work..." Her voice was the sound of dry leaves on sandpaper. She swallowed hard against the fear he would do just the opposite. His sting would kill them all, "I want you... to make this work." Friend, Captain she pressed her will. If it was her dying wish she made it. "Get the crew... hooommme." Her eyes closed, gone now.

For the first time since that heated argument in the briefing room Chakotay felt conflicted. His ardent beliefs against the loyalty to this woman now slipping ever closer into the badlands between life and death. Even his loyalty to Janeway could not shake the foundation of his doubts about the Borg alliance.

With more harshness than he had intended he removed the hand he had been previously holding against his chest and placed it back near Kathryn's side.

Her words could be the last words she would ever speak, and in his heart Chakotay wouldn't lie to himself. He had no intention to follow them.

How unfair it was of her to give this last desperate order when he couldn't do it. He couldn't bring himself to work with the mechanical soulless beasts. 'I will give it a shot, but then we are going to do things they way we should have before she dragged us this far.'

He could have been standing for long stretched minutes after the Captain began slipping into the bleak darkness of a coma. In truth it was only seconds between the last word Janeway had said and the EMH walking up to him and pushing him out of the way.

"I must begin."

Chakotay paused only for a breath watching the Captains' eyes fall shut. The formerly compassionate Maquis Captain come Starfleet officer Chakotay, driven by a single, mindless purpose. Soulless. Heartless.


"Unimatrix-Zero One download complete. Janeway-data stored in neuro processors of cortical node of Prime-drone Seven of Nine Unimatrix Zero-One."

It was the Hive mind that responded.

For a moment Voyager's crew believed somehow they had been transported off Voyager into depths of a Borg cube. The glowing white orb that had been seen earlier when extracting the captain and Tuvok now became apparent in its function. A miniature central nexus through which the interface would control the hive. Cargo bay two had become a scaled down Collective.

Together, weapons at the alert, they moved stealthily toward their destination as yet out of sight. Something moved shadow against shadow.

Chakotay studied his transformed surroundings; the great cavern that had been cargo bay two was now dimly lit and swirled with mist. Beads of moisture glittered upon the black cables and conduits that made up the cybernetic jungle. The bulkheads, ceiling and decks had been honeycombed with a handful of alcoves where drones slept. Organic tubing connecting them to more dark machinery. Two drones moved about, intent on various tasks designated to further adapt the room to their use. A Borg Cancer on the virgin depths of Voyager. The Borg were raping the small vessel.

Chakotay couldn't shake this flagrant idea from his mind. 'How can she ask me to do this. How dare she ask me…a dying breath holding me…'

Once more Rothery and Samuels flanked him and B'Elanna, again both with phaser rifles poised, fingers flagging the triggers waiting, watching following the Commander and Lieutenant as he stepped further into the now Borg reservation.

He came here to get a better sense of what he has dealing with... because at this moment he was undecided about what to do. Follow orders or follow his gut. He waits watching the female drone… the one the Captain called Seven of Nine turn from a Borg console and move to confront him. Chakotay was more than pleased to see Rothery and Samuels both place their fingers on the trigger of their phaser-rifles.

B'Elanna hand wasn't anywhere near her sidearm. Her eyes took in the sight before her in awe. The Klingon inside her growing more and more antagonistic, the engineer in her, appalled at what the Borg have done to her ship.

It would take hundreds of man-hours to revert the cargo-bay back to its original specifications. On the other hand her little inner child wanted to take everything apart to see how it worked, many functions of Borg technology fascinated Torres.

Her mouth opened to an undignified 'o' when she first clapped eyes on the form of Seven of Nine. 'a warrior.' The Klingon judged and at the same time felt regret that she could not respect the Borg drone as an enemy for the Borg were without honor.

'Is that really fair? This drone... ordered her ship to be sacrificed to save Voyager, just as the Maquis had decided to do when faced with the Kazon.' Torres reflected what had happened three years ago. 'Liberty' had been sacrificed in the battle of her Caretaker array, so that Voyager and the Maquis would live, so that the Ocampan would live.

'Intriguing...what would she look like without the protruding eyepiece? Kah'less she carries herself well. She is confident in whom she is where she is and this is a warrior that won't back down. Chakotay is a fool to underestimate her. He has no clue how to handle her…' B'Elanna watched the drone closely as she moved like a queen on a chess board countering Chakotay's lesser move as a knight. And as a knight one was never sure how it would move. That unpredictability was dangerous and when your opponent was the Borg downright deadly.

'Seven of Nine, tactical projections indicate that the war will be lost by the time the alpha quadrant vessel has reached the end of Borg Space. Instruct Janeway of this new data. Instruct her to reverse course, to convene with a sphere forty light years from your current location. You will rejoin the vessel with the altered nanoprobes. The sphere will open a fissure and enter realm of Species 8472 and deploy the revised weapons. The spheres drones have already assembled twenty multikinetic neurogenic mines, we need only the nanoprobes. Voyager will be deemed irrelevant once Janeway has given us the weapons and nanoprobes. If they do not comply alternative protocols will be engaged. The Borg must prevail.'

'I understand.' Seven transmitted back to the Hive Mind. Janeway might not like sailing through Borg space on her own, but there were priorities. This new data altered the agreement but still Voyager would not be targeted for assimilation as long as Janeway complied.

"Where is your Captain?" The female demanded, not paying any notice to the looming guards just waiting to blow her head from her cybernetic shoulders.

"In our medical bay." Chakotay answered, he was about to say 'dying because of you people, but instead he chose another word. "...recovering. You'll be dealing with me, now." No since on giving this female thing any sort of headway in thinking she was now in power.

Seven considered the male before her. His heart rate was elevated, his pulse twice the norm for a specimen of his age, build and weight. Perspiration seeped from the pores of his body near his ears. 'He is speaking falsehoods.' She concluded. Janeway's was Queen she said - was this unremarkable male her Prime? As an Adjunct she saw very few redeeming qualities in the male. He might have made a good first-wave tactical drone. They tended to have a very short life span considering First-waves were the drones sent out into a location to set the stage for the influx of assimilations drones.

'Janeway must not be a very demanding female if this is her Prime… First Officer Commander Chakotay' Seven of Nine echoed the thoughts of One of Many whose thoughts were one with her own Prime's.

"Circumstances have changed." Seven said pushing past the male to the center of the new mini-hive in the mirror of the Queen's own central –plexus when she merged with her body.

"I'd say so." Even the commander's anger was dry and colorless.

"The loss of our vessel requires that we modify our agreement."

B'Elanna inwardly grimaced; this wasn't going to be good no matter how it played out. But the finger was off the piece and the move set.

Chakotay cut her off, fearing the words of the captain were right. He wouldn't let them push him, badger him, threaten him. Once they did then he'd turn back to his own instincts and follow his heart. "I've been giving that some thought." He pinned the young drone trying to browbeat her into submission as if she were some cadet. "I'm willing to let you stay on board... and we'll continue to work with you on the weapon. Once we're safely out of your territory we'll give you the nanoprobes, shake hands and part company." This was the captain's idea, and so he laid it on the line. His voice flaccid despite his hate for these… people… these things.

"Insufficient. Our latest tactical projections indicate that the war will be lost by then." Seven informed the lesser human of what the Collective had related to her. "The nearest Borg vessel is forty light years away. You will reverse course and take us to it."

Taken aback the commander shook his head, "Even at maximum warp, that's a five day journey in the wrong direction. We're supposed to be heading out of Borg space... not deeper into it."

"There is no alternative." Seven responded evenly. Borg resolve now slipping. She wanted to deal with Janeway not this small individual.

'Why? Why would the Borg demand that? There has got to be a reason Chakotay and myself can't see… what gambit are they playing? The Borg just don't do things this way…the deal! It must be with the agreement of something bigger. If we turned Voyager might be irrelevant. Why? What is the move?'

"Look..." The commander's voice became firm "I'll honor the original agreement, but I'm not turning this ship around. It's too dangerous."

Seven of Nine had had enough with talking to the small human. Frustration filled her body, menace her voice. "Denying our request... is also dangerous."

Chakotay glowered facing her willing the female drone to back down.

His spine stiffened in tense concrete, thinking of Janeway's warnings of his own need to follow his own path... then: "I'll think about it."

"Think quickly." Seven ordered darkly. Apparently she had decided the conversation was over for she turned from him and resumed her work on the Borg computer interface.

Dumbstruck that he had been cast aside as irrelevant after such a threat the commander strode for the exit, Rothery and Samuels having to sprint to catch up to him. "If she takes a step out of this bay… kill her." He snapped. 'I gave it a try Kathryn. I knew it wouldn't work, I told you so. Now I'm doing what we should have done before.' He fisted the commands on a terminal on the wall leading away from the Cargo bay.

"Chakotay to all senior staff, briefing in five minutes. Chakotay out."

B'Elanna stayed rooted where she was, watching the proficiency drone study them. 'Denying our request is also dangerous… they mean this literally, it isn't a mere threat. Borg don't understand duplicity.' Turning from Seven of Nine to her commandeering officer, B'Elanna did what she was known for speaking her mind.

"Chakotay… I think maybe we should…"

"Anything you have to discuss 'Lieutenant' can wait for the briefing."

"Fine. I'll meet you there."

At the conference table in the briefing room, backlit by the strewed strings of stars in warp, Chakotay watched predatorily as Tuvok, B'Elanna padded into the room eyes dark and resolute from the earlier conversation. Tailing her was Neelix, the elfin faces of Kes and Harry Kim bought up the rear.

Cold fury held him fast, a fury that shrieked there was no choice. He could not surrender again; become one of 'them' again. He would follow his own nature and because he couldn't help it, he had to protect Voyager as he saw fit.

In the midst of the mental maelstrom, a small and rational voice asked, 'Are they the scorpion or are you? Are they influencing you?' No he shook his head at the silent question. He had not heard the Collective's whisper since he had left that planet and saw the drones die. No, this insistence on circumventing Janeway's power of alliance was his own, born of rage he had believed gone for years since they had been stuck out here in the Delta Quadrant.

He had not felt this rage in a long time. The last had been facing down a squadron of Cardassian troopers who had held Bajoran slaves hostage. Babies plucked from their mothers arms had been maliciously bashed against the walls of the prison until their little skulls had shattered spraying blood and brains on the stones. It wasn't Cardies now, it was a villain far more evil. One that turned babies into monsters.

His anger hadn't been done it had merely burrowed deeper and there grown to monstrous size until its eruption with this final encounter.

"Sit." He commanded and waited until everyone found a chair. "I know we're all on edge, all worried for our Captain and now with Borg on the ship things have gone from bad to worse. This wasn't a contingent of the Captain's plan for the alliance.

"The Borg had stated they wanted to alter the alliance, it is as I predicted they will not adhere to the agreement. That female drone claims that the Collective will lose their war with Species Eight-Four-Seven-Two if we don't turn around and meet up with one of their vessels Forty Thousand light-years away. When I told her I'd think about it she stipulated it would be dangerous for us not to comply with her. A five day trip back into the heart of Borg territory. It's too risky. With those drones and the nanoprobes on board, we might as well have a bull's-eye painted on our hull. We're a prime target for Species Eight Four Seven Two. We'd never survive another attack."

"What's the alternative?" Neelix hesitated to ask the question he knew everyone around the table had been wondering.

Dark brown eyes studied each member of the senior staff, cataloging who would side with him, who would not. The Commander knew what he was about to propose would be controversial, but he was in command now. And he not Janeway would be calling the shots.

"I'm going to end this alliance... here and now!" Definitely a knight's move, striking in way one had overlooked: the sting of betrayal. Ignoring the gasps, stutters and mutterings of the crew, Chakotay plugged on, their concerns were irrelevant they would see that in time. See the wisdom of his course. "Mister Paris... in your estimation, how long before we clear Borg space?"

"According to long-range sensors, the concentration of Borg star systems is decreasing. I'd say another week... ten days." His eyebrows furrowed, this wasn't good, in the pit of his stomach he knew this was going to turn out bad. You don't go against the captain. Not when she was hanging on a thread of life just to make this alliance work.

Harry pounced on the idea quickly, "If we avoid the regions of heavy Borg activity, there's a chance we could slip through."

"Exactly." Chakotay smiled knowing he had one to support his decision. Not that he needed it as he was in command but it felt good to know he had backing in case things got very strained. "We're going to drop the Borg off on the next uninhabited planet... give them the nanoprobes, and take our chances alone. They can wait for a Borg Ship to pick them up, and finish the weapon."

A shadow came over B'Elanna's face, one that only faintly veiled the horror and pain…one that fell over the face of every crew member who glanced up surreptitiously at the Commander's words, then just as quickly looked away.

"But... the Captain made an agreement. Isn't it worth a detour to keep the Borg on our side?" Neelix didn't even try to hide the unrest. Never before had he been asked to so blatantly go against the Captain. He had sworn allegiance to her, right now he was being asked to betray her and that was a line he wasn't prepared to cross.

"I've asked myself that question a hundred times... and if I thought the Borg could be trusted to uphold their end of the bargain, I'd say yes." Clearly the commander's mind was set.

"They did sacrifice their ship to protect Voyager... isn't that an indication that they're committed to this alliance?" Soft spoken Kes asked not of the commander but of the others within the room.

"These are Borg... whether they "sacrifice" a thousand drones, or a million... it's no loss to them. They don't value individual life. But the Captain made an agreement and they might be pushy but they are being reasonable with their demands. Seven of Nine seemed pretty adamant we turn around. Better their ship as a target than ours. Still they might have an ulterior motive here." Torres played the Devil's advocate. She wasn't on her former captain's side, but she wasn't blind to the dangers of the Collective either.

"That may be true... but the bottom line is they died to save us. We can't just ignore that." Tom pointed out.

"They were protecting the nanoprobes... they don't care what happens to us." Torres flicked the light on the truth of the small fact.

"I'm with B'Elanna. The Borg are just stringing us along until they can take what they want..." Kim said.

"I didn't actually say that. For some reason they respect the Captain. Seven of Nine responds to her, I think we can use that. And I don't like going against the Captain's orders. I'm going on the record here. I think we should find out why they want to go to that ship. The drone said it would be dangerous to ignore their request; we need to take that at face value. Turning the ship around and meeting up with another doesn't exactly sound like the Borg thing to do. Does it?" When no one answered the Klingon's question she continued.

"They could try and take Voyager where they are at right now in cargo bay two. But instead they want us to go back to some ship forty light years from here. That isn't the most efficient method. Maybe they are actually adhering to the Captain's alliance. They are losing the war, so they want to face off their enemy mano eh mano. Let them and in the distraction we zip out of there and let the two maniacs go at each other. When the dust settles we'll be long gone."

"Oh come on they are going to use us for what they want and if they can't get it they will take it." Kim argued venomously.

"I'm not certain the Captain would agree with you. As long as we posses the nanoprobes, we still maintain the advantage." Tuvok's calm diplomacy brought more discord. The Captain. She might be dying right at this moment, had fought to save Voyager, had faced the Collective with her plan and it was working. If Chakotay's plan failed then they knew their Captain had died in vain. "Lieutenant Torres has brought up an interesting argument. I believe the Captain would do as they ask because it is as Lieutenant said it is an 'un-borg' request."

"You're right, Tuvok..." Chakotay nodded his head, but then shook it in the next breath.

"If she were here, she'd probably say our best chance was to do what they're asking." He paused reminding them that it wasn't Janeway they were dealing with now, and he had never trusted the alliance. "I just don't see it that way. I'm in command, now... and I have to do what I think is best for this crew." Reestablishing his position as alpha male, the great bear of a man turned his focus on each individual crewmember.

There wasn't an officer in that room that felt comfortable with what was going on. For many of them it was too akin to mutiny but they were officers of Voyager. Janeway's ship and they would hold themselves beyond reproach.

"Tom, scan for the nearest uninhabited planet... and set a course."

"Aye, sir."

I must caution you, Commander... the Borg may not go quietly." Tuvok gave his last argument. He was not pleased, his arched eyebrows forming a 'V' which was Vulcan for pissed off.

"We'll see." Chakotay dismissed the security chief's words as nothing more than posturing on the Captain's behalf. Did none of them understand? He not them had been connected to the Hive. They had no idea what it was like. None of them - and he would disobey the Captain again and again if it meant keeping any of the crew from becoming assimilated, to keep himself free.

Tuvok nodded, his teeth working against his jaw. "Commander I'm going on record stipulating I disagree with these orders that counter the Captain's directive."

"Do what you have to do Tuvok. Bring that female drone to the Ready Room." It was difficult to keep from sounding like a monarch, but that was what a captain of a ship was. It was how Janeway carried herself. "My mind is made up. The discussion's over. Dismissed."

The crew one by one moved for the door, carrying out orders because they were good little soldiers. They had protested the captain's idea over the alliance but by the Great Bird of the Galaxy had made it work. Some how, some way Kathryn Janeway had made the alliance work.


Now alone, B'Elanna Torres daughter of Miral of the house Presiba turned with challenge in her deep dark eyes.

"Chakotay… you've been against the captain this whole time… Tuvok is right, the Borg won't go quietly, for some reason the female drone listens to Janeway…"

"I don't recall asking you Lieutenant for your opinion. I said dismissed." All the bitterness, all the rage welled up in him at that moment, and no doubt revealed itself upon his face; B'Elanna recoiled from it, her eyes wide now with somber awe at the depth of his fury.

"Put me on report. Might want to note in there I am defending the Captain of this ship. I know what they did to you Chakotay, but you weren't erased, you weren't assimilated like Jean-Luc Picard. You were on the edge but they didn't take your soul. You abandoned it when you gave up your honor."

"Honor? You're a fine one to talk about honor, have you forgotten what is to be Maquis?"

"I haven't. But you have and you're a fool. I wouldn't be any good to you if I didn't point that out to you. Right now you can't afford to put me in the brig because you need me. You want to later, fine. At least I stood for the honor of this ship, our captain and the word we promised."

"We didn't! SHE did. She went against me!"

"She's the god-damn Captain!" B'Elanna roared, her own rage close to the surface, so close Chakotay felt fear take his breath, she was far stronger than him and if she frenzied in the blood fury he would not be able to subdue her. "A stain on the service record is better than a stain on a warrior's honor. I won't go to Gre'thor because you demand I follow your orders over Janeway. I AM Maquis. And I am Klingon. Don't make me chose between the honor of my soul and your friendship. I am a daughter of the Empire who is a Maquis Warrior more than that Janeway earned my trust and my oath. You better remember what that means… Scorpion."

Without laying a hand on him the small Klingon warrior pushed past the former captain of the Maquis. "I'll be on the Bridge."

B'Elanna didn't go directly to the Bridge after leaving Chakotay in the briefing room, the fury grew electric as it traveled down her spine, moving her feet in one swift dangerous step to the next.

Tuvok had watched her leave, the Klingon had grown physically taller, broader, as if the heat of anger had caused her physically to expand, in her dark eyes, fire burned - a sight to evoke fear in any human being.

Only Tuvok could possibly hope to withstand a physical confrontation with a pissed off Klingon. "Lieutenant Torres." His voice deliberately soft, calm.

B'Elanna didn't want calm she wanted to frenzy, to explode in her rage. "It has come to my attention there was an altercation in the briefing room after we were dismissed."

"He sic you on me Vulcan?" The Klingon growled softly, slowly. "If he were any other man I would have killed him where he stood."

"In defense of the captain and this ship no doubt." The Chief of Security deigned to interpret. "The captain is fortunate to have officers she can 'trust.' Officers she may need to act on her behalf because she is unable at this moment."

"Are you saying what I think your saying Tuvok?" B'Elanna looked at him her anger now morphing into shock.

"I will only note in the security log the chief engineer chose the more honorable path and defended the captain against the actions of a fellow crewmate despite rank."

Tuvok had just given the diminutive chief engineer a 'get out of brig card free card'. B'Elanna only stared at him her mouth gaping.

"I am also sure that our Morale Officer, Medical-technician, and Helmsman would concur in their logs should an inquiry be made on the first officers entry marking the incident. I am unsure of our Operations Officer, though I am positive his logs will not reflect poorly on the Chief Engineer."

"Thank you Tuvok… Lieutenant."

The Vulcan only tilted his head. "I am only recording the observations I have made, Lieutenant. Nothing more. Though the captain will be made privy to them."

"Yeah well thanks anyway." She swallowed hard. "I want to check on Kath… the Captain."

"I understand." The Vulcan was worried too though it wouldn't show on his carefully schooled face.

Before B'Elanna stepped into the turbo lift she called attention of the other officer. "Tuvok? The Borg you said won't go willingly I think maybe we should think about securing Engineering but with the things as they are I'm stationed on the Bridge."

"Commander Chakotay is waiting now in the Captain's ready room for Seven of Nine. When he is finished I will approach him on the subject. And the prudent course of action."

The beginnings of sorrow crackled in B'Elanna's mind like arcing plasma. The Klingon's heart felt as if a cloying poison had bitten deep stealing her strength. It wasn't poison, far from it. It was watching the doctor and now Kes working on bringing Kathryn back from the lands of the dying.

'You have a power in you that few I have ever seen possess. Hang in there babe. You've got to pull through this. Don't give up.' B'Elanna implored her will though silent commanding heartache.

'He's betrayed you.' The young Klingon looked down at the polish of her boots, remorse filling her strong striking olive features. 'He has lost the honor of Voyager; he is betraying all of us. You made it work! You made the Collective bend to your will and he's fucked it up Kath. I wanted to tear his heart out, only I don't have a targ to feed it to.' B'Elanna swallowed the hard lump that rose in her throat threatening to choke off her air.

'He is an affront to the Maquis! I am shamed he was my captain. You pissed me off, you're Federation, Starfleet all the way, but you have honor! You always keep your word! Your heart is Klingon!'

B'Elanna watched the EMH silently for the next few seconds as he finished with the surgery. Only then did their eyes meet.

"You can have a few moments, Lieutenant but the Captain is unconscious and more than likely she will not be aware of your presence." The hologram tried his best bedside manner.

"How…how is she" B'Elanna managed to croak out.

"She will live. That is all I can tell you right now."

B'Elanna only nodded, the movement allowing the photonic physician to know she had comprehended his words.

"Kes?" B'Elanna answered more faintly than she had indented.

"B'Elanna you don't have to be an empathic telepath to see what you feel for Kathryn. Come here. Let me help you." The voice of Kes was so hypnotic, satin on silk.

"Whaa… how… I…" B'Elanna never felt at easy with someone who could dive into her mind.

"I don't think this would work if there wasn't pure trust between two souls. But I can allow your essences to touch briefly." the elfin face smiled warmly, her golden hallow of hair making her become more angelic in the Klingon's eyes than she had ever seen her before. "You won't be able to 'talk' to her but she will feel your closeness and the care… the love you carry for her."

B'Elanna didn't move.

"I could help her heal, the touch of love often sooths a pain medicine can not heal."

"What do I have to do?"

B'Elanna's words still fresh in his mind; the rage like lava Commander Chakotay steeled himself to face the figure of his enemy. B'Elanna had all but threatened mutiny, threatened to kill him, she had defiantly challenged him. And she was right, he needed her at the moment but he was tempted to throw her in the brig on sheer principle she had dared oppose him.

Having to face yet another difficult female so soon after the confrontation with B'Elanna and his controversial decision all Chakotay wanted to do was take a phaser to the drone's bald head and blast it off. Her smug look, the one cold staring blue eye. Her stance one of pure defiance was enough to push him far over the edge of the knife blade he had been balancing on.

Rothery and Samuels stood near by; weapons at the ready but so far the drone had given them little resistance not even any acknowledgement they were even there.

"Why have you brought us here when it would have been more efficient to use your communications systems, primitive though they are."

"It doesn't matter. I've thought about it and made my decision. We find that this situation will not work. And there is no way we are going to turn this ship around just so you can assimilate us later. WE both know that is what will happen it's in your nature to turn. Therefore we are searching for the nearest uninhabited plant Once we've beamed you to the surface… we'll send down the nanoprobes and all our research."

"Unacceptable." Seven quickly retorted. "We don't have time for…"

"This isn't open for discussion. I'm not turning this ship around. You're getting what you wanted. I suggest we part ways amicably." Chakotay tried to sound friendly and yet commanding. He wasn't going to budge on this he was right, he had been right all along. Now that the captain was out of commission he could lead the ship as was needed. He not the woman would see Voyager to safety."

"Just allow the truth of your heart open, I will do the rest." Kes' soft voice caressed the ears of B'Elanna.

Saying nothing B'Elanna took hold of Kathryn's hand into her own and gently squeezed it. "I'm here Kathryn. Your 'Lanna's here."

Kes saw the warm glow of adoration in the Klingon's eyes. She knew better than to comment on it or the fact the young woman had never openly spoken about the place of affection Kathryn held in her heart. The Doctor might have claimed it was response to the Pon Farr B'Elanna had been forced to suffer because of Vorik attack on the Engineer.

Being Klingon the Pon Farr fed deeply from the fiery passion already burning within. Kathryn Janeway, formidable woman in her own right, had been in the shuttle craft with B'Elanna when the heat of the blood lust struck its hardest. The woman Kathryn had taken the hurting desperate friend into her arms and allowed the passion to flow through them. The Woman Janeway… the Captain did what was necessary to see her chief engineer through a most difficult situation that was not of B'Elanna making or control.

The rest of the crew lead by the belief of the Doctor's prognosis and Tuvok's comment that battle often overrides the sexual needs of Pon Farr, Torres had been able to over come the drive when she had battled Vorik.

The truth happened in the downed shuttle craft in the arms of Kathryn Janeway. The Captain had never spoken of the incident, never used it against Torres, never made light of it and never allowed it to interfere with their professional relationship. Kathryn the woman had allowed the incident to know B'Elanna better, to understand her, to allow a mutual attraction to linger softly as a feathers touch between them. She became fiercely protective of the young Klingon warrior, and had allowed herself to love even if it was a secrete love to grow. A love she had believed she could not act upon.

Kathryn had not flinched, not baulked when she knew she had to avail herself. The blood fire burning and killing B'Elanna.

She had asked only one thing, "What do I have to do?"

"Let me touch you" The words were spoken between clenched teeth, the compact muscular body shuddering from blood fever tremors. "Captain…I'm sorry."

"Right now I'm Kathryn. I can't be the captain right now…B'Elanna. Hear me, there is no shame in this, no dishonor. I care for you and I won't let this destroy you, us or our relationship on Voyager personal or professional." Kathryn moved forward places her hand upon B'Elanna's sweaty neck. "We will do what we have to do to get you through this." Her free hand took hold of B'Elanna clenched fist, and placed it against her breast. "No repercussions, no dishonor that is my oath to you B'Elanna."

B'Elanna pulled herself back from the memory and touched her wine colored lips to the pale cheek of her friend. The woman how allowed herself to be used, allowed B'Elanna to release the sexual desires burning within her. The woman B'Elanna loved. "We will do what we have to do to see you through this Kathryn. I will restore the honor of this ship and you that was taken. This is my oath to you. Be well Kathryn be safe."

Kes stood back watching, feeding the passion in this young Klingon warriors heart to fill Kathryn's own. In that moment Kes knew the captain was aware of the woman holding her hand, kissing her brow. Kathryn would be aware if only in that brief moment of the love she had in the other's heart.

Pulling back, it was the Chief Engineers looking at her Captain. "I have to report to duty Captain. I'll get Voyager out of this fracking mess. Hey after all she's 'my ship' you're just the Captain." B'Elanna smirked.

There wasn't a Chief Engineer worth her or his spanner that didn't believe this axiom. And every good Captain knew it and allowed the delusion to remain after all how could their chiefs become miracle workers if they didn't have a passion for the vessel in their care? Their ships were their babies.

"You can count on me."

Part 9

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