DISCLAIMER: Nothing Star Trek belongs to me and so on, and the other nuts at VJB made me do it. *grins* Naturally, it's B'Elanna/Seven, and it's a sequel to the story "QUEEN", so perhaps it would be a good idea to have read that first.
By Carola "Ryûchan" Eriksson
I watch. I observe. Sometimes it feels as if though that is all I do lately, but I also understand that someone must do this, too. Someone has to remember it all for posterity, and who better than I? My memory is impeccable.
Where to begin? Ah, of course. Aboard the Borg vessel where the rescue group that came to save Seven of Nine were confronted with the new Borg Queen in the body of their lost crewmember.
Captain Janeway, always having stood firm in the face of whatever obstacle the journey through the Delta Quadrant had thrown her way, always the picture perfect Captain in full control of her faculties... barring a small slip here and there, of course... lost. She raged, begged and even wept, when faced with the loss of her young charge. And I felt as if though I wanted to do the same, if it had been possible.
Seven of Nine was a friend, more than that, someone very important to me, and this time she was beyond my ability to help her.
One might wonder why a holographic doctor was chosen to go with the small rescue group on this dastardly mission into Borg clutches, but the superior skills and abilities my nature gives me aside, there were at least one member of this rescue mission whose presence was more questionable than mine. Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres.
Aside from being a brilliant engineer and absolutely vital to Voyager's future, the Chief of Engineering was well known for her utter contempt of Seven of Nine, their clashes of wills legendary aboard our ship. And yet B'Elanna did not just offer to come, she demanded it.
Perhaps a bit of background on the good Lieutenant would be in order here, just a smidgen of insight from one that has known her all his admittedly short life. Well, just a shred of insight on her relationship with Voyager's resident Astrometrics officer then.
B'Elanna is someone I consider a good friend, even if our bickering might seem to indicate otherwise. We both share a love for good gossip, and she was a great support to me in my early days after activation, when I struggled with my own nature. Of course, in time I came to the realisation that it was not quite so much myself that the good Lieutenant came to see when she dropped by in Sickbay upon occasion, although I dare say she enjoyed our bantering as much as I, but instead it was Kes that drew B'Elanna there.
I don't know if B'Elanna ever realized this, but I have suspected that much of the initial aggression and aversion she had towards Seven stemmed from the subconscious feeling that Seven had replaced Kes, B'Elanna's good and perhaps only real female friend besides the Captain, and then replaced B'Elanna herself. B'Elanna does not like to lose, even if it's only in her own mind, and so she kept Seven at a distance.
It saddened me, I'll admit to as much, for I thought Seven would have benefited greatly from B'Elanna's friendship and aid in regaining her humanity, like I once had, and with two such brilliant minds I was sure they would have much in common. It wasn't until much later on, after I had resigned to the fact that these two would never be able to stay in the same room without at least a minor verbal brawl, that I was hit with the insight that B'Elanna's obvious dislike hurt Seven.
It wasn't Seven's odd questions about Tom Paris, nor the fact that during our lessons in dating, the only species whose mating rituals she specifically asked about were Klingons, and it was not when she asked me why I had not added all crewmembers into the program she was to use to select someone to take on her first date. I honestly thought the last question was spawned by the fact that I had not added Tuvok and a few others of the male crewmembers of Voyager to her program that I thought already 'spoken for', as the expression goes. I should have been more perceptive than this.
No, the day I realized that Seven would have wished for B'Elanna's friendship and was hurt by the obvious disdain our illustrious engineer held for her was a simple, ordinary day, when I was meeting Seven in the messhall. She had worked in Engineering just previously, and I had already heard that she and B'Elanna had ended up in another row, and I admit I was preparing to ask her all about it when I saw an expression flash through her eyes that I hadn't noticed before. It was such a sad, hurt and longing look it completely derailed me from pursuing this latest gossip, and instead I turned my head to see who my young friend was watching.
It was, of course, none other than B'Elanna Torres, who had just stepped in through the doors of the messhall and was now talking and laughing with Harry Kim.
It wasn't until I, aboard a Borg vessel, restrained by technology especially designed to keep my holographic nature in check by none other than my brilliant former protégé, stood helplessly by and watched as this shell that had once been Seven of Nine grabbed B'Elanna Torres and kissed her so intensively it would have caused a loop in anyone's matrix, that I finally understood the truth.
Seven must have loved B'Elanna for a very long time. And she was left without anyone to speak to about these undoubtedly confusing and painful feelings, because we all just assumed her emotional progress was miles from reaching that stage. In retrospect it all seems like it was so obvious, yet I didn't see it in time. Perhaps I just didn't want to.
Equally as shocking as this revelation to me was the fact that B'Elanna so abundantly responded to Seven's touch. In fact, the moment I witnessed together with the others was so intimate, despite being just a kiss, that I wanted to be able to turn my head aside, to offer these young lovers some small privacy for their feelings. I couldn't, and then the moment was over. Seven stepped back, and showed us all that she was not Seven anymore.
No, what stood in front of us was the Borg Queen. And I would have wept had I been programmed with that function.
The Borg Queen made threats using the voice of my dear friend, to all of us but to B'Elanna specifically, then she had us taken away. Somehow the new Queen would honour whatever bargain Seven had made, and spare us this once. The next time we met, the crew of Voyager would not be as fortunate, I felt sure.
I was already inside the Delta Flyer, holding the Captain's collapsed form while Tom started the engines, when we heard B'Elanna's cry and became aware that she had broken loose. We tried to go after her, but the Drones that had escorted us forcibly returned us to the shuttlecraft and closed the door. Then the clamps that held the Flyer to the Borg ship came off, forcing Tom to take the ship up and away before we would crash.
I don't know the specifics of what happened as we tried to steer the Flyer into a position where we could get B'Elanna, more then that B'Elanna will swear that she was being herded towards that particular ship by the Drones. All of a sudden this big ship starts up nearby, and Tuvok orders us to exit the Borg ship, and Tom does.
No sooner had we and the ship B'Elanna was piloting cleared the Borg vessel before it jumped into transwarp, leaving us stunned and rather lost. We docked the Flyer in the larger ship's shuttlebay, then made our way up to the Bridge and B'Elanna. I had no time to consider my own feelings at the loss of Seven, because it was all I could do to try and hold the Captain together and try to snap B'Elanna out of the stupor she was in.
The following days back at Voyager would prove much the same way. I tried to help the Captain in what way I could, and strangely, or perhaps not so strangely all things considered, she seemed to draw some strength from my presence. I have come to realize that in a way, and certainly in the eyes of Kathryn Janeway, she and I raised the person that Seven of Nine was, together. I'll admit that the thought of being Seven's father figure rather... disturbs me, but that too is something that I've made my peace with over time.
B'Elanna drew back from everything onboard, spending all her time on the new ship, in fact it seemed she had moved her things there too. Chakotay told me to leave her be, and so I did, although it gratified me to see that Icheb stepped in to look after my old friend. Perhaps he had known of his maternal figure's feelings towards the Lieutenant, or perhaps he just saw someone that needed a friend.
It was Icheb that brought to my attention something that I am ashamed to say that I had not noticed during the encounter with the Borg Queen... that she had used her tubules on B'Elanna.
B'Elanna had been impregnated.
I don't know why, for what purpose the Borg Queen would chose to make B'Elanna carry her child, although perhaps it has something to do with the genetic makeup of them both. Certainly one would expect a child of Seven and B'Elanna to be exceptionally intelligent, for one thing, perhaps there was something there that the Borg Queen wanted. It would explain why we were all let go, as well, if she needed B'Elanna to carry this child to term before assimilating it and everyone else.
I tried to talk to B'Elanna about my fears, pointing out that not only was there an abundance of nanoprobes present in the fetus, but according to my calculations the child will most likely be born with a few implants. Not much, as the metal that those implants would be built upon would have to come from the nanoprobes themselves, which in turn would derive their building material from the iron in B'Elanna's bloodstream, but it might be enough to cause a serious threat not only to B'Elanna herself, but to the crew of Voyager as well.
B'Elanna threw me across the Sickbay, which for those that knows Lieutenant Torres is merely her way of saying a firm 'no'.
Others spoke to her about the infant, but B'Elanna had made up her mind to keep the child. Icheb and Nelix supported her wholeheartedly, and I decided I would too, after having pointed out the danger and heard her decision in the matter.
We were all still reeling from the news of our resident half-Klingon engineer in the family way with none other than our lost Borg genius, when we came upon something quite unprecedented. Given that during our years in the Delta Quadrant we have all become rather blasé about the unknown and unexpected, that is actually saying quite a lot, too.
A Borg transwarp conduit, just lying there as if waiting for us, open and unguarded in space. There were no signs of Borg vessels nearby, and what was even more shocking, the slowly collapsing tunnel lead all the way back to the Alpha Quadrant. We just couldn't believe our luck!
There was no time to debate it, Chakotay gathered the senior officers for a quick meeting, informing us all that we were going to take a chance and try to reach the Alpha Quadrant with this unexpected gift. B'Elanna was present, a rarity for the days after our encounter with the new Borg Queen, and she told the rest of us in no uncertain terms that this was Seven's doing, her way of getting us all home, and that B'Elanna was not going with us.
I think we all realized then that it was indeed Seven, our Seven, that had done this for us, and while others contemplated on whether or not it would be safe, or tried to argue with an increasingly agitated B'Elanna to come with Voyager, I could only think of one thing. This meant that Seven was still there... still alive somewhere inside the Borg Queen, and still fighting for us.
I couldn't leave her behind. I told the others as much, and requested that my program be transferred immediately to B'Elanna's vessel. There were protests of course, I was a crucial part of Voyager's crew and would be missed, but if they managed to reach the Alpha Quadrant, medical help would be easy for them to find. Not so for the pregnant B'Elanna, nor for Seven who deserved better than be left behind, abandoned. Especially by me, whom she had fought for in my own hour of need, and forgiven for the transgressions I'd made towards her time and again.
I was uploaded into the other ship's computer and was quite busy installing myself into it's systems, so I was not present for the drama that played out on Voyager just previously to the departure towards the Alpha Quadrant. Therefore I did not see the Captain break down, again, and her struggle to remain in the Delta Quadrant in search of Seven, nor was I present when Commander Chakotay administered the sedative that knocked Captain Janeway out and ensured that this Captain would remain with her ship. I do believe that Chakotay was made to pay for that particular piece of defiance once the Captain regained her equilibrium, but that is another story that I was not around to witness.
I do know however that a group from Voyager followed B'Elanna, among them Icheb and Neelix, opting to try to rescue Seven before attempting any trip home. That is how I ended up on the ship that eventually got named the Huntress, serving under Captain B'Elanna, if you can imagine my tempestuous friend in such a position.
We were few in the beginning, but the ship was designed to make do with a small crew if it came to that, so we did allright. Then a series of very strange coincidences began occurring, and I do not know quite what to think of them.
The other ex-Borg children, Icheb's siblings as it were, was returned to us through some very far-fetched and bizarre circumstances. We were all glad to see them, though none so much as Icheb and B'Elanna. Who would have thought that our volatile chief had such maternal instincts? But she took the children in, settled them in quarters as near her own as she could, and without really noticing it herself I think, made the five of them her own little family unit.
I have seen B'Elanna quite often in her new role as parent and provider, and she does very well in it. I have seen her carry the sleeping Mezoti to bed, soothe the little one's fear and Icheb's worry for Seven, and I have seen her surrounded by her adopted children, all of them with their hands on B'Elanna's belly, feeling their young sister as she kicked her mother from the inside. She truly does quite well, and I feel that Seven would be happy to know how well her loved ones take care of one another.
It saddens me to think that Seven is not here to see this for herself, it is truly a horrible theft from someone who has already been robbed of so much in life.
The children was the first to arrive, but far from the last to be added to the Huntress crew list. That Hirogen thug that manhandled Seven in the Tsunkatse tournament somehow found his way here, and rather than what I would have expected... and maybe even suggested... B'Elanna did not cleave him in two with her bat'leth. Instead he and his son joined us in our quest to save Seven, and although I do not trust these barbarians, B'Elanna seems on a surprisingly friendly footing with them. I suppose that I must admit that these particular Hirogen are a little better than your average, run-of-the-mill, hunt obsessed and corpse defiling Hirogen, if only slightly.
In comparison, I have a much easier time accepting Mr Kurros, the former member of that Think Tank that plagued the Delta Quadrant until Captain Janeway, with the help of Seven, outsmarted them. Mr Kurros is now his own man though, and quite a gentle and softspoken fellow that has done a lot of good for this crew. It amuses me to see how this brilliant man has attached himself to Mr Neelix, and how eager he is to learn from our friendly Talaxian all that he can, whether that be about cooking, the many cultures that Neelix has encountered, or just how to get along with people. Curiously B'Elanna had a much harder time accepting Mr Kurros onboard her ship than those savage Hirogen, but then again she is half-Klingon so it is not so surprising.
The crew roster grew dramatically after we encountered a severly damaged Borg Cube which, as luck would have it, contained only liberated Borg Drones, severed from the Collective and regaining their individuality. Only a small part of the original number aboard the ship were still alive, and if they remained on the Cube they wouldn't be for much longer. So the Huntress welcomed them, and suddenly we had a crew of no less than sixty-three.
A fair number of those former Drones turned out to be Klingon, and I worried what that might mean to B'Elanna. Especially now that her pregnancy was taking it's toll on her, making her even more snappy than before, except with the children of course. Amusingly enough they all adore her and would gladly rip their own limbs out of their sockets if she asked them to. It is quite a sight to see our slight Captain, with her growing belly, rave and rant with a group of huge warriors that all look like scolded children as she threatens to all but put them across her knee. On the other hand a simple word of praise from her makes them all walk so much taller, that I am left wondering if this is some kind of Klingon behaviour that I haven't heard about. Could it be respect for their Captain maybe, or the fact that B'Elanna is pregnant, or perhaps, given Klingon nature, just the fact that B'Elanna's temper is on a steady burn that none of them can match? If not, then I would conclude that this is based on their time as Borg Drones, and that worries me, for their sake. Do they perceive B'Elanna to be their new Queen, or is it perhaps that her emotions run so hotly and so closely to the surface, after their time deprived of any emotions at all?
Their arrival brought something else to our group of intrepid freedom fighters, and that was an idea to introduce a different kind of virus into the Collective. Kurros, Icheb, B'Elanna and myself have all worked hard to come up with one that works, one that could very well mean the end of the Collective as we know it. The only problem was that the Queen is different from other Drones, and as such the virus would not work on her.
That was when we were contacted by representatives of Species 8472, whom offered their aid in modifying and administrating the virus so that the Borg Queen would be eliminated and Seven freed. They are a quite fascinating species with much advanced knowledge in biological matters, and with their help we perfected our secret weapon. B'Elanna, however, decided to deliver the virus herself, which I, while as her physician I have protested, can quite understand.
The Huntress was aimed at the heart of Borg space, finally zeroing in on the prey that it had chased in a roundabout way since the beginning... we knew the Borg Queen would be there, thanks to our new allies. It was these allies, Species 8472, that got us into the heart of Borg space without being detected, as well.
Kurros, Neelix and I were left with the children onboard our shuttlecraft, as B'Elanna led the others into battle with the Borg.
I watched that battle from afar, saw how Species 8472 deployed their own ships as a diversion that would allow the Huntress to reach it's destination, with a ruthlessness that made truly worried about these new allies of ours. There is something about them, underneath the charming and pleasant surface they offer in negotiations, that leaves me cold to to the heart of my matrix, and I can't help but wonder if we just made a big mistake. Did we just help eliminate the only shield we might have had against these creatures? I hope not.
But that was a concern for another day, and I watched as the Huntress sailed through practically unscathed in the great battle that was being waged. It appeared from my point of view as if the Borg were deliberately avoiding to hit or intercept B'Elanna's ship, and I thought I could see Seven's hand in that. Whatever the reason, the Huntress reached it's goal and B'Elanna's team boarded, hunting for the Queen herself.
I don't know what happened then, I only know that shortly after the Huntress had made contact, Species 8472 retreated, and the small group onboard the shuttlecraft with me all waited anxiously for what felt like a very long time for something to happen.
A transwarp conduit opened up not far from where our shuttle was, and while Icheb and myself were still frantically pouring over the readings to see what it was for, the Huntress shot away from the Borg vessel at high speed, heading for us. Moments later B'Elanna hailed us, and we were urged to get aboard the ship as soon as possible.
Kurros determined that it did not seem as if though B'Elanna had been assimilated, and we set out to do just what we had been told, and that was when we saw how all the Borg vessels behind the Huntress began moving apart. Not just one or two, but _all_ of them.
No wonder the Huntress was coming in at high speed, I could only assume by it all that the mission had failed and we needed to run for our lives.
There was no time to grieve, once again, the loss of Seven, or even ponder why this surefire method had failed, instead all our concentration went into piloting the shuttle back aboard the ship. Once we were inside, the Huntress charged into the transwarp conduit att full speed, the strange entrance tossing the ship slightly with the forces at play.
We were already running for the Bridge, all of us, when B'Elanna contacted me over my combadge, swearing at me in three different languages and telling me to get my, ah, well, backside up there. I honestly don't know why neither of us thought to use transporters, instead I left the children with Neelix and used my photonic nature to increase my speed to somewhat faster than human.
I was prepared to enter the Bridge to the sight of many wounded, perhaps even my dear friend herself or her unborn infant, which was what worried me most, but I wasn't prepared for what waited for me.
Yes, there were wounded on the Bridge, one or two so badly that they by rights should have been in the ship's sickbay and not on the Bridge, but that wasn't what surprised me. Instead what did surprise me was B'Elanna, held upright by our friendly ship Hirogen as, just as I arrived, her water broke. She was still gripping the pale, metal-adorned, hand of none other than our Seven of Nine, who was being carried by one of B'Elanna's burly Klingon warriors. Seven convulsed in his arms, and for a moment I was frozen, unsure of which one of them to treat first.
Then I came back to my senses and did a quick scan of B'Elanna. I needed to get her to sickbay immediately, and ordered them to carry her there if need be, which ironically would be just what Icheb did after encountering her in the corridor outside the Bridge. B'Elanna, as I recall, was quite embarrassed and still swearing, but Icheb ignored it and carried his second mother quite safely to where she had to go.
I on the other hand, quickly examined Seven, then had them carry her to sickbay as well. The convulsions were side-effects of what the virus did inside her, and we had little recourse but to let it work itself out and hope our Seven would come out intact. Kurros came through for us once again, rigging up a device he had been working on previously, so that it would help make Seven's struggle easier, but that was all we could do. B'Elanna demanded I halt the birthing process so that she could wait for Seven to be there with her, but since her water had already broken, I was reluctant to do so. The children gathered around, waiting to see what would happen first, the birth of their baby sister or the return of their mother.
B'Elanna entered labour mere moments after Seven's eyes opened and cleared, and with the help of Icheb, the weak and barely conscious Seven moved over to the other biobed to hold B'Elanna during the birth of their child.
I can't with mere words express the feeling when I brought their beautiful baby girl to them, and watched the radiant, loving smile bloom on Seven's features, then be reflected on B'Elanna's. My fiery, proud and standoffish friend wept tears of joy as Seven kissed her cheek and rasped out words of love for mother and child both, and I would have joined her if I could.
Icheb then took his youngest sister over to be examined by Kurros, and inspected by her three other siblings, while I helped B'Elanna with the afterbirth. Seven could not stay conscious for much longer, so we arranged for her and B'Elanna to lie down on the biobed together, as B'Elanna quite refused to let Seven move further away from her than that. We accommodated them, and let them rest while equipment monitored their readings just to make sure nothing untoward happened to either of them. Then it was my turn to examine my godchild more closely.
Little Kathryn Miral Torres is a beautiful and healthy baby girl, with gentle ridges on her forehead, her mother's colouring, and her 'father's' eyes. She has a tiny optical implant over one eye exactly like Seven does, and it quite confounds me why this should be. Other than that, the only visible implant is a starburst on her right shoulder, although my readings indicate that there are more internally. Whatever else this precious little girl might be, whatever she might become in time, I do believe I can say that she is not a threat to anyone. She is just a wonderful child born miraculously from a love that overcame insurmountable odds, to a family that will give her all the love and security that she needs.
It wasn't until the children, Kurros and I were all gathered around the baby crib, cooing at this little miracle, that Neelix informed me that we had just exited the transwarp conduit, and were now in the Alpha Quadrant. Apparently Seven had somehow managed to open a conduit for the Huntress just before she succumbed to the virus' effects, giving those that sacrificed their way home to rescue her another chance to get where they wanted to go. And little Kathryn Miral became the first known baby to have been born during transwarp, a curiosity that thankfully does not seem to affect my godchild's health.
Starfleet arranged quite a welcome, although it was surely more out of precaution than joy at our presence, escorting us the final stretch towards the Earth that I had never really seen. Kathryn was at her home on the north american continent of Earth, not that far from Starfleet headquarters, and it was a fortunate thing. By the time the Huntress was allowed to dock, Admiral Janeway was there, sorting things with Starfleet command almost in passing, as she rushed into the ship's sickbay to cling to her beloved daughters and cry in relief.
I was present for that reunion, and it was I that quite proudly got to present Kathryn Janeway with her tiny namesake as both the little one's mothers were too weak to do so themselves. Kathryn Janeway was quite overwhelmed by everything, but still cooed at her grandchild, hugged her older grandchildren, and in the end hugged her daughters some more before Starfleet officials interrupted the moment.
As I record this we have spent three months on the planet Earth, in the Alpha Quadrant. Well, I have of course visited my father at his station, but for most part I have remained nearby during my friends' transition to life in the Alpha Quadrant. Not to mention a life as celebrities and new mothers of a remarkable bundle of joy.
Finally all the Starfleet precautions and regulations have done their job, and my friends will be free to do what they please, well, in a matter of speaking anyway. Today I am going to attend their wedding, along with so many of our friends from Voyager and the Huntress. Kathryn the elder will walk Seven down the isle, so I have been left the responsibility of caring for Kathryn the younger, as well as taking an artistic shot here and there with my trusty holocamera, of course.
Who would have thought that Seven would have been the nervous wreck before her own wedding, while B'Elanna is the one of them that just can't stop herself from smiling? In fact B'Elanna smiles so widely I fear I shall have to administer a hypospray before the evening is through, or else her face will get stuck like that. But I quite understand, I can't help but smile as well as I watch these two people so precious to me grab onto the happiness they so well deserve, with both hands.
I am the witness, their witness, the witness to a love so wondrous and strong not even the biggest threat the Federation had ever faced could stand against it. I am their witness, and I will carry their story to anyone that will hear it, for as long as my matrix remains.
They deserve no less.
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