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And a Child Shall Lead Them, Part I
She stood silently facing the large window of her ready room, staring into the vast expanse laid out before her. The coffee she held tightly in her delicate hands was cold, having been poured four hours ago. Her shoulders normally squared and straight, were slightly hunched as a familiar ache throbbed painfully, a constant reminder of the guilt she carried.
Captain Kathryn Janeway was a strong intelligent woman with a commanding presence that far exceeded her small frame. Her rich auburn hair hung loosely to her shoulders, she raised her hand and tucked a few strands lightly behind her ear. When Janeway was excited, her eyes turned a compelling deep blue with flecks of gray. Janeway at 43 was a formidable Starfleet Captain with a brilliant mind for science and engineering.
Throughout the years, she rose through the ranks effortlessly in Starfleet, gaining the respect and admiration of her crew and peers as she went along. However, today was a day filled with remorse and self-loathing, a day of second-guessing, her past decisions and difficult choices. She stared silently as Voyager continued its journey back to the Alpha Quadrant. Its’ silvery form glided seamlessly through the dark expanse.
"How many times have we stopped and started this journey in the past five years?" she contemplated frowning deeply.
She returned her aimless gaze to the stars as they sailed passed. On any other day she would have reveled in the beauty lain out before her. At the tranquil comfort that they provided, knowing that this was where she belonged. Aware with every fiber in her soul that this was the core of her existence. On any other day, she might have noticed how the stars embraced each other in a lover’s dance, placing trails of soft feathery kisses on velvet necks as they parted.
She looked down at the cup she held firmly in her grasp, her fingers white and numb from holding it so tightly. Raising the cup to her lips she swallowed the familiar brew, a mechanical response, gone was the pleasure she might normally derive from its taste.
Its trail ran cold as it made its way languidly down her throat leaving behind a bitter taste in its path. She grimaced, surprised that she could allow herself to feel even that. For a second she considered replicating a new cup, but then quickly pushed the thought aside not wanting to give into the comfort it could give.
Her classic face was pensive the lines of worry etched deeply in her brow. The normally bright deep blue eyes were a dark steel gray. The color was a stark warning to her crew that she wished to be left alone. She shivered slightly against an imaginary chill, its coldness threatened to envelop her into its firm steel grip and devour her very essence.
"Computer raise temperature 4 degrees" her voice raspy and raw.
"Temperature raised 4 degrees," the even feminine tone of the ship related.
She placed her cup down on the coffee table and took five tentative steps towards the couch. Sitting down she nestled her back against the cushions, leaning her head backward, her right hand came instinctively to cover both eyes, while her left arm wrapped tightly around her chest.
"Soul," she repeated the word repeatedly. It sounded foreign and incomprehensible to her. A singular concept that was beyond her reach. "Come on Katie, the inner voice was dark and brooding. "You know what a soul is. For God’s sake you still have one don’t you?"…Well don’t you?" the voice, contrite and razor sharp.
Janeway winced and clamped down hard on the voice before she allowed her thoughts to revisit the encounter with the beings.
"How long has it been, three months?" Three months that she would give her life to undo. "What was it Seven said? Seven was Voyager's Astrometrics Officer. "They are inferior. Voyager and you are far superior. " The words spoken in that familiar and detached tone.
"Inferior." The word constantly reverberated in her head, the constant dull throb of the migraine unable to drown it out.
Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct to the Unimatrix 01, former of the Borg Collective. Severed four years earlier when Janeway formed an alliance with the Borg in a war against species 8472. Seven of Nine, all six feet of her was the epitome of complete womanhood. She dressed in a brown skin-tight biosuit, which only helped to accent her curvaceous form.
She was a living testimony of beauty and strength with cat like grace and an equally profound and brilliant mind. Her hair, white-blond was pulled tightly back into an efficient bun. Her skin was pale almost translucent, a contrast to her full rich wine colored lips, and her eyes were a deep icy blue.
Her left eye was framed by a gray metallic implant and on her right cheek just slightly above her jaw, but directly below her ear, another metallic starburst adorned her face. A stark reminder of her assimilation by the Borg she bore with little vanity.
Assimilated at the age of six, former human designation Annika Hansen. She served as a Borg drone for 18 years before being severed by Captain Kathryn Janeway, the woman responsible for forcing her to rejoin humanity and embrace the life she lost when she was assimilated.
Seven grew up in a cold sterile Borg collective without love or compassion. Human frailties were inefficient and irrelevant, systematically removed and tossed aside by the Borg. Seven turned to Janeway as a friend and mentor, a guide who assisted her, as she slowly adapted to humanity.
It was Janeway’s patience and logical reasoning, that often helped the young Borg understand the complexity, that came with being human.
To say that Seven was openly received among Voyagers crew was an understatement. Janeway often found herself at odds with her First Officer Chakotay in regards to Seven.
Chakotay didn’t trust the Borg and wanted Kathryn to let Seven return to the collective. With the utmost conviction, he stated that Seven would one day betray the Captain and Voyager. However, time proved Chakotay wrong, and Seven chose to remain with her Voyager collective, saving it's crewmembers on more than one occasion.
At first, Janeway made concessions when Seven blatantly refused to accept the Starfleet command structure. Their public disagreements and Sevens open defiance for Starfleet protocol was precariously balanced with late night philosophical discussions.
Eventually Janeway slammed down hard on the Borg. As she explained passionately that not always could she be her friend, that there would be times, when she could only be her Captain. The Borg eventually understood the meaning behind those words and in time came to respect and care for her Captain.
The two women formed a unique bond. Kindred spirits destined to intertwine without fully understanding why, discovering friendship and a mutual respect, while assisting each other in adapting to life on Voyager.
Janeway would never allow herself to form an intimate relationship and never with a member of her crew. A situation, that could readily compromise her command of Voyager. To Janeway, personal attachments could only bring infinite complications that would eventually undermine her command.
Over the past six years that Voyager had been stranded in the Delta quadrant, the Starfleet Captain suppressed the most basic of human emotions and led a solitary self-exiled existence. She managed to form close friendships with her senior staff members, valuing their opinions and concerns.
Janeway once considered having an intimate relationship with her First Officer, Chakotay, and for reasons she never explained to him, she spurned the promise that it could bring.
There was also Lt. Commander Tuvok, a Vulcan, and senior security officer, who was a cherished and very old dear friend. They shared a long tenuous friendship that spanned over 20 years and Janeway respected him highly.
Janeway was meticulous in setting the boundaries of all her relationships, including those within her friendship, systematically rigid in drawing the lines.
However, with Seven it was different, for Seven’s lack of experience in human interaction enabled her to cross those lines effortlessly. Often leaving a very infuriated and confused Captain Janeway in her wake. With a defiant act or prolific argument, Seven could move and stir emotions in Janeway as no other before. Forcing the older woman to re-evaluate her thoughts and at times alter her command decisions.
Janeway was an eloquent speaker and brilliant diplomat, yet Seven had an undeniable way of exasperating the Captain and leaving her completely speechless on many occasions.
However there were still some who viewed the young Borg as cold and indifferent. One member in particular was Voyagers Chief Engineer, Lt. B’Elanna Torres. Torres was a Klingon-Human hybrid, with a fiery temper and superb engineering skills.
Torres, found Seven completely infuriating and annoying at best. The Borg had a knack of rubbing Torres the wrong way and their often-hostile arguments were legendary among Voyagers crew. Torres often referred to Seven as "The Captains Pet Borg or Ice Queen"; something Seven openly ignored much to B’Elanna’s dismay.
Torres was forced to admit that Seven was brilliant and more than once succeeded in blowing her out of the water. Hell when you got right down to it, if something ever happened to Torres, Seven would be her obvious replacement.
A month earlier a run in with three renegade vessels left Voyager with extensive systems damage and Janeway had every intention of avoiding any future encounters. Her engineering department was over worked in their attempt to return Voyager to her present state.
Still, Voyager was experiencing sporadic outages in minor systems that sent Torres into a torrid of Klingon expletives.
Torres squeezed her powerful frame into the narrow Jeffries tube, wiping the sweat that formed on her brow, across her shoulder.
"Kahless, it’s hot in here." she grumbled.
She was currently tracking an obstinate short, which kept burning out plasma cells, faster than she could replace them. The burned out cells were responsible for preventing the replicators from come back on line.
"Janeway to Lt. Torres."
Startled, Torres cursed inwardly
She angrily slammed her comm badge. "Lt. Torres here."
"Lt., When was the last time you went off duty and slept?"
Torres rolled her eyes in frustration, annoyed at being disturbed for such a frivolous question.
"You have got to be kidding me right? God doesn’t she have anything better to do? She grumbled inwardly.
Torres hated being interrupted when she was in the middle of fixing a problem, but before responding to Janeway, she slowed her breathing and forced herself to answer without inflection. Something she knew Janeway would notice immediately.
"I’m fine Captain, I’m running diagnostics on some plasma cells that keep shorting out the replicators."
Janeway considered Torres’s response the thought of consuming another Talaxian dinner made her stomach churn. Voyager found itself again at the mercy of the ships Talaxian Chef, Neelix. His culinary cooking skills reminded Janeway of the time she spent in a Cardassian prison.
Janeway grimaced involuntarily in disgust, recalling how she scraped better tasting insects off the prison walls. A slight shudder shook her body. "One thing was for certain, she sighed, Neelix made a better trader then a cook any day of the year". Something that she would never voice aloud for fear of offending the cheerful Talaxian.
With a regrettable sigh, Janeway made a command decision. Torres had been working non-stop for the last 18 hours and it would not do Janeway any good to lose her best engineer to exhaustion.
"Not good enough Lt., consider yourself logged off duty as of now." Her voice took on a low tone. A warning to the engineer that there was no room for argument.
"Aye Captain, Torres out"…. For a minute, B’Elanna considered disregarding the Captain’s order. "After all, it wouldn’t be the first time." She snorted.
Brooding and suppressing another Klingon curse, Torres slipped out of the jeffries tube and headed for her quarters.
"Now I have to suffer another one of Neelixs’ dinners" she grumbled. "Kahless, there wasn’t enough hot sauce in the entire Delta Quadrant to make that crap remotely edible."
Torres made a mental note to stay away from the Messhall for the remainder of the day. It would do her no good to face the angry crewmembers, many who would level looks her way strong enough to peel the paint off a ship's hull.
"I never should have said I’d have the damn replicators back on line by 2200 hours to that big mouth Paris!" She cursed herself for never knowing when to keep her big mouth shut.
At one time B’Elanna and Tom Paris were lovers. The blond haired blue eyed helmsman and B'Elanna engaged in a passionate torrid love affair that abruptly ended in a jealous Klingon rage. It was not until recently that Tom and B’Elanna began acting civil to one another, much to the relief of the rest of the crew.
"He probably has a damn betting pool going on the replicators. Now I’ll never hear the end of it and he’s probably using the inside information I gave him."
Suddenly a cruel smile played upon on her lips, "He’s going to loose his shirt on this! She chuckled, "Hmm… I wonder if I can get Nicoletti to place a quite bet for me?"
"Yep, things were beginning to look up for after all" with that she contacted Nicoletti and agreed to meet in her quarters, contemplating all the way there her sudden windfall of good fortune.
Janeway sat in her ready room regretting deeply removing B’Elanna from duty.
"After all, we are talking the replicators here" she chided herself.
"Do you rally want to subject yourself and the crew to another Neelix lab experiment? "And the coffee? Oh My, it does bring a new meaning to the term, "To Die For."
Her eyes twinkled, turning a bright blue, a warning that something was about to unfold. She sat up and rubbed her hands together, her inner voice warning. "You Know B’Elanna’s going to freak."
"Oh shut up." she commanded. "Besides who’s the Captain here anyway?"
Convinced that it was the right thing to do for the good of the ship. She set about her plan. She slapped her comm badge.
"Janeway to Seven."
"Seven here, Captain."
"Seven are you very busy?"
"I am running calculations on the L class system we have entered Captain, How may I help you?"
"I’m glad you asked Seven," she said with the hint of a smile, " Meet me in engineering and, Ah, Seven bring your tools."
"On my way, Seven out."
Turning over the conn to Chakotay, Janeway headed towards the turbolift, her hands clasped behind her back. There was the hint of a swagger in her walk and as she turned around, the last thing she saw was the bemused look on her First Office’s face.
"I wondered what she’s up now?" he sighed shaking his head in amusement and returning his attention back to the screen in front of him.
As the turbolift descended to engineering, Janeways thoughts turned to freshly replicated cups of coffee and how close to heaven she would be.
Janeway entered engineering and there was Seven of Nine, tools in one hand and pressing keys on the terminal in front of her with the free one. Without turning, she acknowledged Janeway’s presence. Her Borg enhanced hearing detecting Janeway's footfalls before she entered. "Captain."
"Seven" Janeway nodded slightly. The glint in Janeway's eyes warning of a conspiracy, she moved in front of the terminal that Seven was accessing to look at the Borg.
The cool Borg tilted her head slightly to the left and her left brow rose slightly. Seven recognized the look in her Captains eyes and a sudden feeling of dread crept over her.
"How would you like to help me fix the replicators?" slamming down her best command mask in case the Borg attempted to ignore her request.
The Borg noticed her Captains command mask and hesitated before answering, her inner voice stating "resistance is futile".
With a deep reservation she answered, "I’d be more than happy to assist you Captain" then ventured more cautiously. "But if it can wait until morning Captain, I can assist Lt. Torres. I’m sure we will be able to find an efficient means of resolving this problem." Then thinking it wise to add "Lt. Torres has requested I notify her prior to making any repairs in engineering" she added distastefully.
"She’s got you there Katie" the little voice injected mockingly. "Damn, she’s just not going to make this easy, is she?" Janeway sighed, changing her strategy, she proceeded to use her body language to effect an advantage.
Janeway moved and immediately invaded Sevens personal space. Making sure to adjust her shoulders, Janeway stood directly in front of the Borg. Instead of holding them straight in her usual manner, she dropped them slightly and leaned in close, knowing the subtle change would affect the young Borg.
The affected was immediate. Janeway heard the young woman take in a slow deep breath, her ample chest rising softly. Janeway raised her head amazingly slow, tilting it slightly to her left, then locked onto those impossibly Ice-blue eyes.
Janeway was a master at effectively using body language and Seven never stood a chance. The Borg was out of her league. "Another useful trick for a Starfleet Captain to know, god she’s so easy." she joked to herself.
Janeway held her gaze intently for a few moments disciplining her self not to speak. Knowing this would have a powerful affect on Seven. When she felt Seven begin to exhale gently, she released her gaze on the young women.
Then without skipping a beat, she quickly moved in for the kill, before the young Borg could regain her senses. "Another excellent execution, God I’m good" She stifled a smile.
"Well ah, yes, Seven I guess we could do that." "However, " Janeway took her time to pause here. "I think the problem we’re having may be in the primary replicator array."
"It’s possible the fluctuations are causing interference and giving false readings" she continued, quite proud of herself "resistance is futile Seven," she thought inwardly. "You know it’s probably something only your cortical implant can detect." Lowering her voice to a husky timber hoping the young woman would bite.
The Borg while processing everything the Captain was saying was also processing the different changes occurring in her body. With a clinical indifference, she noted her ragged intake of breath when the Captain stepped into her personal space. She also noted that for 6.4 seconds, she forgot to expel her breath, which left her slightly light headed.
Her pulse increased significantly by 7.5 beats and for some unexplainable reason, it took her 10.7 seconds before she could answer. In Addition, she felt tiny electrical pulses shoot down her spine when the Captain's voice took on a low husky timbre. Seven determined her nanoprobes were not functioning to acceptable levels and would have to speak to the Doctor of this at the end of her duty shift.
"I agree with your assessment Captain. It is accurate that my cortical implant will not be impaired and I can accurately detect fluctuations by .0001 %". " Her breath came in short rasps.
"Why Thank you Seven" Janeway's smile unfolded to cover her entire face. "So will you help me?" Knowing full well that Seven would comply.
"I will comply," came the crisp response.
Together they walked to the same Jeffries tube that B’Elanna was in earlier. Handing her tool pouch to Janeway, in one graceful cat like move Seven lifted herself into the tube and positioned herself carefully. She extended her left-enhanced Borg hand and offered it to the Captain for assistance.
Janeway smiled and without hesitation accepted the offered hand. She was taken completely by surprise as she found herself lifted effortlessly into the tube. Janeway marveled at the strength that the young Borg possessed and became slightly excited over the gesture.
She allowed Seven to hold her shortly, while she shifted herself into a comfortable position in the small confines of the tube. Janeway could still feel the heat that Sevens hands radiated on her waist where she gently held her. Her body’s reaction overpowering her strong willed mind her desire rising slightly which further shocked the Captain. Janeway's face suddenly flushed as she dispelled the reaction to thatr of the deplorable heat in the stifling Jeffries tube.
Seven eyed her suspiciously noting the sudden change in Janeway’s appearance.
"Captain, are you alright?" She asked innocently.
Feeling unexplainably embarrassed, Janeway responded quickly, her mouth suddenly dry. "I’m fine Seven, why do you ask?" Regretting the question the moment it left her lips.
"You appear to be mal-functioning" She hesitated and then continued.
"Your respiration has increased considerably and I noticed your face has changed in its appearance" Stating the obvious.
Suddenly feeling cornered and very uncomfortable, Janeway forced herself to swallow and answer blandly. "Really Seven I’m fine, I just, well I find it rather warm in here. I guess the sudden change affected me somewhat," she allowed.
"Indeed, "came the quizzical response. "Captain, I can continue this without your assistance if you are not functioning properly".
"That’s quite all right Seven, I will adapt, as you were".
For some reason Seven felt that the Captain was not being completely truthful and decided to keep a watchful eye on her. It was not unusual for the Captain to push herself even when she was ill. "The Captain did not appear to be functioning at appropriate levels, in fact she appeared to be on the verge of fainting." Seven having fainted once was certain she looked just like that before it happened, a part of adapting to the human collective that she found quite distasteful.
As Seven continued the process of trouble-shooting and seeking out the elusive defiant circuit board. Janeway found herself having to occasionally edge herself closer to Seven. She relaxed her heartbeat to an easy rhythm and focused to the task on hand.
Janeway caught Seven glancing at her and the obvious concern on the Borgs face startled the Captain. She decided to ignore it not wanting a repeat of their previous conversation. She was still reeling over what had transpired and the strong sensations that Sevens touch induced. Unable to reconcile that perhaps she had deeper feelings for the young Borg then she assumed.
Janeway spent hours meditating and learning self control techniques over the years. The lessons suited her well now in the Delta Quadrant as she disciplined herself to ignore the natural impulses that she felt.
Janeway was passing Seven the laser probe, when the device suddenly slipped from her sweaty grasp and tumbled downward, threatening to spill to the deck below. Both women instinctively reached for the probe and Janeway suddenly found her face pressed against Seven’s generous breast.
The softness of the ample breast against her cheek both shocked and thrilled her; aghast Janeway bolted upright and felt a sharp pain radiate through her skull as her head met a conduit panel.
"Ouch, damn" her hand reached up to massage her head.
Seven reached towards Janeway and grabbed the back of Janeway's head to assess the damage. For the second time in as many minutes, Janeway found herself pressed against those gorgeous breasts. Her face tingled as she felt their warmth and she could feel Seven's heartbeat emanating through the biosuit.
The Captains face rose and fell with the rhythm of Seven’s breathing.
"Seven, really I am fine", her voice muffled and irritable as she attempted to dislodge herself from Seven's chest.
"Captain, You have suffered a contusion to the back of your head, you should have the Doctor examine you immediately". Seven reached for her comm badge, but Janeway's hand reached out and stopped her.
"Really Seven I’m fine, it’s only a little bump. Honestly, it looks a lot worse than what it feels", Janeway's voice was edgy and harsh.
Seven eyed the Captain wearily before resigning to her request, "As you wish Captain".
Seven now realized her earlier assessment of herself was incorrect. She was not malfunctioning. Having studied 60 gigaquads on human sexuality she concluded that what she felt earlier was desire. It was a logical conclusion and one that seemed to please and astound her. She found the sensations were exhilarating and was disappointment at its loss when the Captain moved away.
Janeway felt the heat rising in her face and knew that it must be a lovely shade of red by now. Attempting to regain some of measure of self-dignity, she adjusted her position and moved as far from Seven as she could. Janeway was quick to note the confines of the tube made it very difficult and the look of disappointment on Sevens face tugged at her heart.
Assuming it was her harsh tone that upset the young Borg she quickly added.
"I’m Sorry Seven I didn’t mean to get upset with you. It’s just that confined places irritate me."
"I understand Captain, there is no need to apologize. I was not offended by your manner." "Indeed at least we were successful in retrieving the laser probe."
"Yes, well then I guess the pain was worth the effort, Seven."
The two women took a moment to collect themselves before resuming their task, each preferring to retreat to the quite comfort of their personal thoughts.
"What the hell was that all about!" Janeway pondered, as the fear touched her heart and clouded her blue gray eyes. "My God, I’m acting like a school girl after her first kiss, This is ridiculous! My God, Seven, I don’t ever recall being attracted to a woman before, God, It has been a long time". With that Janeway resolved never to think of it again and felt the familiar coldness cover her heart.
For the rest of their time in the tube Janeway made it a point of avoiding any physical contact with Seven. Seven on the other hand was making it very difficult for her. Without warning, Seven would subtly move and gently touch her. Each touch sent electric shock waves through the Captains body.
The Captain began to wonder if Sevens actions were intentional, "Now who the hell is using body language, one thing’s for certain Seven is an apt pupil." The little voice mocked.
After replacing the defective circuit board, the replicators were back on line by 21:54 hours. By then, Janeway was in need of a cold shower and something a lot stronger than coffee. The incident in the Jeffries tube had exhausted the good Captain more than any velocity match the two have ever played.
The awkwardness that Janeway felt earlier passed and once they exited the Jeffries tube, she allowed herself to relax and quickly resumed their easy banter.
"Well Seven, Good work I knew you could do it." Janeway smiled placing a hand on Seven’s shoulder as they walked out of engineering.
"How about joining me for dinner in the Messhall?"
The joy Seven felt at the Captains request radiated through her body and rewarded her Captain with a rare smile.
"That would be most acceptable Captain" Not wanting to end the pleasurable mood with the Captain, she quickly added. " I find that it will be a more pleasurable experience and a remarkable improvement over Mr. Neelix’s specialties."
Janeway eyed the Borg suspiciously and noting the young woman’s smile, she threw her head back in a throaty laugh.
"You know Seven, if I didn’t know any better, I would say you’re developing a sense of humor."
Seven sarcastically pointed out that the Borg had no such use for humor, causing another peal of laughter to come from her Captain. The Borg was quite pleased that her attempt at humor elicited, such a response from her Captain and for the second time in 5.2 seconds, Seven rewarded her Captain with a rare Borg smile.
It was in the Messhall that B’Elanna Torres found the object of her blood rage. Storming over to where both women were seated, the half Klingon either chose to ignore Janeway or was too bent on exacting her revenge on Seven to notice.
"WHAT THE HELL DID YOU THINK YOU WERE DOING?" she fumed, the steam rising from the collar of her gold and black tunic. Without affording Seven the opportunity to respond, she continued, her voice a threatening growl.
"I’ve told you a million times, not to touch anything in my department, without clearing it with me first." " You have bucked my command for the last time you Borg bit_ _."
A cold steel threatening voice reached out from behind the Klingon, sending chills down her spine. It was powerful enough to slice through the Klingon's rage and make the hairs on the back of her neck stand on edge. Realizing too late who was Seven’s dinner companion, a sudden sense of doom crept over the Klingon as she slowly turned to face the Captain.
"Lieutenant!" The voice was low and dangerous, her eyes locking on with a Janeway force ten glare.
The Klingon cringed and swallowed deeply, "Captain, I didn’t know….", but before Torres could continue Janeway cut her off.
"That is an understatement Lt., both of you will accompany me to my ready room, where we will continue this discussion", Am I making myself clear, Lt.?" a statement not a question.
"Yes, Captain," Torres stammered, silently wondering, how the hell she could get herself out of this one. "Damn, where the hell is a red alert when I need one?" she wondered.
Janeway stood and left the Messhall with her two senior officers in tow. Noticing that the crewmembers brave enough to have remained finally breathed and resumed talking as they departed.
Janeway was furious and it showed in her walk. Heading to the turbolift, her pace was fast and clipped, forcing the two taller women to hasten theirs in an effort to keep up. Seven and B’Elanna avoided looking at each other while walking side by side. Their heads remained lowered staring at the deck as they followed.
Janeway did not wait for the doors of the lift too fully open before storming in and knocking over a dazed Ensign Hickman, in her wake. Janeway shot him a force 10 glare that turned his legs to jelly as he quickly slipped by the Captain and stammered an apology.
"Bridge, Janeway barked. The turbolift recognized the command and ascended to the bridge. Janeway stepped down crossing the bridge, her face was stern but controlled, as she headed directly to her ready room. Seven and Torres feebly fumbled behind her, a poor attempt at keeping up.
Before entering the ready room, she barked to her First Officer, "We will be in my ready room and I do not wish to be disturbed, Understood, Commander." A statement and not a question, her voice low and dangerous.
"Understood," Chakotay's voice rose a few octaves lined with fear. He exchanged a quizzical look with Tuvok, who responded by raising his left eyebrow and a shrug of his shoulders.
Only one person on the bridge was aware of the kind of trouble the two women were in. However, she had no intention of sharing it with the others, having spent an entire half-hour attempting to calm down a blood raged Klingon.
At least she thought, "I managed to dissuade B’Elanna from using "that Klingon sword of hers, whatever it’s called" she sighed.
Nicoletti returned her attention back to her duties, regretting dreadfully getting involved with B’Elanna in the first place. Her latest scheme cost Nicoletti three weeks replicator rations on a stupid bet.
Janeway spun around before the door closed, holding her two senior officers in place with her glare. B’Elanna suddenly felt the room extremely hot and shifted restlessly from one foot to the other. Seven on the other hand, was cool and stood at full attention, her hands clasped tightly behind her back.
Janeway swept her hand motioning to them both and ordered "Sit." The two young women immediately sat and did their best to avoid eye contact.
B’Elanna slouched low in her seat, her eyes cast downward and her mind spinning a mile a minute. She was quickly devising her defense, one that would deflect the attention away from her and redirect it on the Borg. Her mind fast and furious, immediately formulated a defense, her posture improving dramatically, as she sat up higher and her eyes took on a definitive sparkle.
Janeway detected the subtle physical changes of the Klingon and concluded that B’Elanna came up with a plan "That was fast she thought." Knowing that the Klingon had a penchant for manipulating Starfleet regulations to her favor, Janeway was curious to see were it would lead.
"Lt. Would you care to explain what I just witnessed?" she allowed, implying to the Klingon that she now had the advantage, Janeway's voice was even though firm.
B’Elanna grateful for the opening, thought her luck was beginning to look up. Collecting her thoughts, she mentally went over her plan, one more time before answering. "First a quick apology for my little outburst, then I direct the Captains attention back to her Pet Borg, O.K. I can do this" she convinced herself.
"Well you see Captain, I, er, ...FirstIwanttoapologizeformybehaviorinthemesshall", rushing quickly through her apology and speaking low. "But I’ve given Seven strict orders not to make any modifications in engineering without my prior approval first." Her voice gained strength and conviction. "Now I find that she’s made changes to the replicator systems and never cleared it with me first."
"Look Captain, this isn’t the first time Seven has openly defied my direct orders. And frankly I don’t see the purpose of having a Starfleet Command Structure, if she refuses to follow it." On a roll now she continued. "Astrometrics reports to me and her refusal to follow a direct order is insubordination at the least."
"Now that’s rich," Janeway thought quietly, "So that’s her plan blame Seven, I have to admit she is creative."
"Something Captain I might add you’ve accused me of in the past," added the Klingon for good measure.
Janeway paused, allowing the room to grow silent again, saying to herself "Nice touch Lt." Covering her mouth to hide a rueful smile.
"Seven, Janeway snapped, Can explain your actions? did you defy the Lt.’s orders?" her question startled the young Borg.
Seven was completely perplexed as she stared intently at the Captain, unsure of how to proceed. B’Elanna was feeling smug her confidence building. "Kahless the Borg is so transparent, I wonder if she plays poker?" She snickered.
"Captain? I, - I, do not think that I un-der-stand your question", the hurt evident in the young Borgs voice.
Feeling guilty for dragging Seven into this little drama, Janeway softened her response.
"It is very simple Seven, please explain what you have been doing since, Oh let us say 1800 hours" Knowing the Borg would take her literately.
" I See, I understand Captain." The realization finally settling in of what the Captain was implying, Seven began recounting her events in a crisp monotone voice.
"From 1800-1830, I was in Astrometrics were I performed 4025.5 new calculations regarding the recent energy anomalies, present in this L class system at headings 1.245 x .0743". B’Elanna rolled her eyes up in frustration, her arms crossing in front of her chest as she let out an audible "Humph" in protest.
"At 1830:21 seconds, I was summoned by you Captain and ordered to report to engineering with my tools. At 1830:54 seconds, I was present in engineering and awaiting your arrival."
B’Elanna's face drained of all its color, an inward groan escaped "The Captain ordered her to fix the replicators, Oh shit this is bad. Kahless, today is a good day to die," invoking an old Klingon mantra. "Damn and I lost 3 months replicator rations to boot, this has not been my day."
"That’s enough Seven, you are dismissed". Janeway cut Seven off, before the Borg could reveal that she informed the Captain of B’Elannas order, orders that Janeway belayed.
"Captain," Seven stood and nodded her head slightly before leaving.
Janeway watched Seven leave lingering a little too long on the Borgs long lanky form, an act that her Chief Engineer noticed.
"That was strange, she thought, God, Janeway wants the Ice Queen? talk about frostbite". Of one thing, the Klingon was certain and that was that her continued existence relied heavily on her keeping her mouth shut. Something, that would prove very difficult for Voyagers biggest gossipmonger.
Janeway turned her full attention back to B’Elanna, who suddenly found the room entirely too small and excessively hot for her Klingon physiology. Janeway stifled another smile, enjoying the obvious discomfort that she caused the Klingon, she decided to further throw the Klingon off her game.
"Lt. Is something wrong?" daring the Klingon to attempt another deception.
Opening and shutting her mouth several times, B’Elanna stammered.
"Captain… I….," Janeway held her hand up preventing the engineer from continuing.
"Lt. I do owe you an apology I ordered Seven to assist me in repairing the replicators. However Lt., …" her voice became dangerously dress down low. " I’m not in the habit of asking permission before making repairs on my ship." Nor will I sit idly by while one of my Senior Officer’s decides to make a public spectacle of herself in the mess hall. Not only were your actions unacceptable, as a Senior Officer I expect you to lead by example and that means conducting yourself in an appropriate manner as dictated by Starfleet. I will not tolerate any public display of uncontrolled anger. Nor will I allow you to subject the crew to it. Unless of course the rank of Ensign and a few days in the brig is more to you’re liking. Do I make myself Clear Lieutenant" A statement and not a question.
B'Elanna promptly stood up to attention. "Yes Captain," keeping her head forward and eyes lowered.
"Dismissed Lt., the voice placing emphasis on the word dismissed.
B’Elanna forced herself not to run out of the ready room "Damn, I really blew that one, I didn’t even see it coming. This is just great, I lost 3 months rations, I owe the Borg an apology and worst of all I’ll have Janeway on my ass for our duration in the Delta quadrant. I need to get good and roaring drunk" she moaned as she dejectedly headed towards her quarters.
The following morning the entire senior staff was present in the ready room for the weekly staff meeting. Seven was reporting her findings, on the anomalous energy readings that she first discovered and continued working on into this mornings Alpha shift. The lack of sufficient data caused her usual cool demeanor to falter in a most UnBorg way.
"I have detected two energy readings, coming from the same location, on the second L class planet." "My long range scans are ineffective, in identifying the exact nature of the second signature." The frustration rising and clipping each word.
"Data so far is detecting one Borg signature, a cube, it is off-line. The data also indicates the signature is 33.2 years old". The mention of the Borg got every ones attention.
"However, she proceeded doubtingly, there is also a second signature being emitted from the same location, data indicates it too is 33.2 years old. I am sorry Captain, but I am unable to identify it at this time." The last said with difficulty coming from the proud Borg.
Torres let out a loud snort and was stopped dead in her tracks by a force ten Janeway look. Still feeling the sting from last night’s dress down, B’Elanna tugged restlessly at her collar and forced her eyes back to the data pad in front of her.
"Your saying the cube has been laying out there for 33 years."
"33.2 years, Yes, Captain" correcting the Captains minor error.
"Seven, prior to this when was the last time the Borg swept through this sector?"
"Exactly 352.3 years ago."
Janeway continued her mind absorbing the data that Seven was giving her, "Are there any other Borg signatures?"
"No Captain, my scans detect the three Borg drones, were severed from the collective and that they have not been functioning for 33.2 years. Their receptor signals have also been neutralized."
"Well, that might explain why the Borg haven’t returned for them" Janeway added dryly.
"That is quite possible Captain, I recommend we send an away team to the planet surface"
‘Hold on Seven, I don’t want to rush into anything just yet", "Tom how long before we can get close enough for transporter range? ",Janeways attention turned to the ships helmsman.
"At our current speed we should be within range in about 9 hours, Captain", the blond helmsman replied."
"Good that should give us some time to assemble an away team"; "Seven I want you, B’Elanna and Harry with me. Maybe we can salvage their transwarp drive."
"Tuvok see what you can come up with weapons, we’ll also need two security officers escorting the team, I need you up here in case we have to beam out quickly."
The Chief Security Officer arched his brow, an indication that he was not pleased. "I can adjust the phaser modulation frequencies and increase their power, but, if I may point out Captain, you will only be able to use it once before the Borg adapt" he added sarcastically.
"That’s quite alright Tuvok a few shots is all we need," if it was possible for a Vulcan to show emotion Janeway was sure his arched eyebrow conveyed disgust.
Chakotay took the opportunity to voice his concerns, "Captain, why don’t you let me lead the away team."
"Not a chance Commander," cutting him off immediately, "I need you here with my ship, besides this mission calls for a scientist and you know I can’t pass up a challenge" brokering no further argument.
"Seven, I want you to work with Harry and B’Elanna see if you can increase the scanners in Astrometrics and find out what the second signature is, We’ll meet back here in 16:00 hours. Chakotay, put us on yellow alert, Tuvok, I want you to begin systematically scanning the system for any Borg vessels" Janeway's command mode was in full force as she snapped orders to her staff.
"It does sound intriguing why are there two signature emanating from the same source?" Spoken more to herself then the crew. "Seven, have the Borg ever assimilated this sector?"
"No Captain, the four L class planets in this sector are uninhabited and the nearest lifeforms are 25.2 light years away. "Species 3452, Human designation Ba’Krad unworthy of being added to the collective." She stated quite flatly.
"Weren’t they the lucky ones," breathed Tom Paris. Seven merely raised her left eyebrow and wondered why humans were so inclined to state the obvious.
"I see, now that is interesting" Janeway added, curiosity lacing her voice. " Stay on it and let me know as soon as you have something."
Seven nodded her head in acknowledgement "Understood."
Janeway stifled a smile. "Anything else? I want everyone alert and Tom work with Tuvok make sure to layout a course to get us out of here quickly in case we do encounter the Borg."
"B’Elanna, how are we in engineering?"
"All systems are back on line, engineering is operating at 100%, Seven completed the last of the repairs yesterday."
Tom Paris turned to Seven and graced her with a boyish grin, grateful to the Borg for saving his proverbial butt on the replicator pool. The Borg merely returned his smile with a quizzical expression, unaware of the Paris betting pool on the replicators.
"Everyone has their orders, Dismissed".
The senior staff rose and spilled out of the conference room, Seven remained and waited patiently to speak with the Captain alone.
"Seven is there anything else?" Janeway was secretly hoping it would not lead to a conversation regarding the Jeffries tube incident. Her command mask was on in full mode and ready to deflect anything of a personal nature, something that she was painfully aware would never stop the Borg.
Seven noted the command mask and stiffened slightly before answering.
"Yes, Captain, about last night." I wish to discuss certain emotions I experienced and I find that I am at a lost as to their meaning."
"Well so much for the command mask trick, she noted warily" Janeway took in a deep breath and braced herself. "God, where the hell is a red alert when I need one" she asked desperately.
"I see, well then why don’t you accompany me to my ready room and we can discuss it there." Janeways mouth went suddenly dry, as they entered the ready room. Janeway headed directly to the replicator and punched in a few commands, a cup of black coffee appeared.
"Can I offer you something to drink Seven?" Knowing the Borg would decline in her usual manner.
"I do not require liquid refreshment at this moment and then carefully added, Thank You."
Janeway smiled at both Seven’s predictable response and her attempt at human pleasantries. She sat down in her chair and motioned for Seven to sit.
"I prefer to stand," the Borg stated standing at attention with her hands behind her back.
The Captain not preferring to give the young Borg the upper hand, added dryly, "I prefer that you sit" her voice commanding and forceful. Janeway had every intention of controlling this situation.
Seven complied and sat directly in front of Janeway, her back was perfectly straight against the back of the chair and her hands were clasped firmly in front of her.
"Now Seven what exactly are you confused about?" not wanting to mince any words.
Seven's face became clouded "I do not understand why you asked me to explain my actions to Lt. Torres, I find that it was confusing, since it was you that ordered me to assist you in the repairs".
Janeway let out a long sigh of relief "I see, you’re confused as to why I asked you the obvious instead of letting Lt. Torres know that I ordered you to make the repairs from the beginning."
"Yes, that is an accurate statement, I found it was illogical of you not to immediately make Lt. Torres aware of the situation", she added contritely.
"Well Seven, sometimes there are things that I’d rather not make known. In this case, it did not matter what Lt. Torres was privy too, I found that her behavior was unacceptable. I expect my Senior Officers to conduct themselves appropriately and when they fail to do so, It is my duty as their Captain to correct it. I do not want you to think that you can openly disobey a Senior Officer’s order. In this case, you did not. A Senior Officer must learn to lead by example and controlled leadership if they expect to earn the loyalty and respect of their crew."
"I see, so in this case it was appropriate of you to deceive the Lt.? She questioned.
"I would not say that I deceived Lt. Torres, what I did was redirect her attention to the true nature of the problem, which in this case was her reaction to what she perceived as your disobeying her command. In both cases she was incorrect and what I wanted to correct was her method of addressing the situation."
"I understand, although I find that it is more effective when one is direct and to thew point. I find that your logic, though flawed, was acceptable in this particular situation. Still I do not believe it is something that I wish to adapt."
Janeway curled her lip into a crooked grin "And that Seven, is what makes you truly unique, nor do I ever expect you to be anything other than direct if not abrupt in your dealing with us."
"That is acceptable Captain, and I hope never to disappoint you. However there is something else that I wish to discuss, it has to do with what occurred in the jeffries tube".
"Oh God, here it comes", Janeway's voice croaked inwardly, the color draining from her face. Janeway steeled herself, waiting for the hammer to drop, when they were interrupted by Sevens comm badge.
"Torres to Seven," Seven touched the badge on her left breast. "Seven here."
"Seven, Harry and I are waiting for you in Astrometrics."
"On my way," Seven crisply stated, as she detected the evident look of relief on her Captains face.
"Thank the god’s" Janeway cried inwardly the heavy weight on her chest subsiding. "I’ll have to remember to take it easy on B’Elanna, I’ll only let her squirm a little longer."
"Captain I can not continue our conversation, perhaps we can continue it at another time?"
"I’m looking forward to it Seven," a blatant lie.
Seven turned and exited the ready room and headed towards Astrometrics. In the ready room, a much shaken Janeway was attempting to compose her breathing and pounding heart.
Janeway let out a long breath and quelled the rampant thoughts, swirling in her head, as she quieted her heart. The current situation that she found herself in was one she managed to avoid for six years. It raised feelings that she had no desire to explore and engage in.
Her obligations and duties must always come first just as they had for her father. Ironic, considering she spent her young life growing up in Indiana resenting her father’s absence.
His Starfleet career taking precedence over his family. He passed this legacy onto Janeway. Who resigned herself to living a desolate Starfleet Captain existence? Not cognizant that she became the person she resented most as a child.
Janeway suffered from occasional bouts of depression that started with the death of her father and fiancé Justin in a shuttle crash on a Martian polar Ice Cap. A test pilot run that went horribly wrong when it crashed and began to sink into the ice cap.
She wasted the last few precious minutes in an attempt to try to save them both. Having enough time to only rescue one she was unable to accept the fate, or perhaps deeper yet, unable to decide who would live and who would die.
She saved neither of them and in the end watched them both die before her. The experience plunged her into a deep depression that lasted months. Retreating to her bedroom and refusing to get out of bed, sinking into a dark solitary place and ignoring life.
It was her sister Phoebe's relentless insistence, on pushing Kathryn and forcing her to embrace life again that saved her. This in turn, became the core of Kathryn’s reasoning for closing off her heart. Not to love unconditionally meant never being vulnerable again Never exposing herself to the profound hurt such a love could cause. Subconsciously forgetting the sheer joy and elation of it’s promise.
Shortly before being stranded in the Delta quadrant she was engaged to a childhood friend, Mark. A relationship she controlled and one were she gave less of herself than with Justin. The engagement ended in the form of a Dear Jane letter that she received via a Hirogen communications relay station.
Mark assuming her dead married his assistant that was carrying his child. Though Kathryn was upset, what she truly mourned most was the loss of the crutch that Mark provided. Without Mark’s presence protecting her, Kathryn was forced to fabricate other excuses for keeping love at bay.
Her Starfleet position soon replaced Mark in the Delta quadrant, and she used her position as captain freely, invoking Starfleet mandates at will. In particular was a rule prohibiting Starfleet Captains from fraternizing with subordinates under their command. Rationalizing that a personal affair with a crewmember under her command would affect her judgement in making command decisions.
In Astrometrics B’ElannaTorres, Harry Kim and Seven were re-evaluating their latest calculations for extending the Astrometrics scanners. They hoped that by boosting power to the scanners it would provide further data relating to the second energy signature and determine its origin.
"Seven, I’m not sure this new set of calculations will work, it only give us .03 and we need .06", stated a frustrated B’Elanna.
The Klingon was attempting to be more sociable to the Borg after wrongly accusing her of defying her orders. B’Elanna may not have cared much for Seven, but she was not one to act dishonorably either.
B’Elanna was looking for the right moment to apologize to Seven over the incident.
Though how much Seven would appreciate the gesture, the Klingon was unsure, still it was the honorable thing to do. Seven looked at the set of calculations that the engineer held in the datapad. After perusing them quickly she found the error.
"Your error is here, if we rewire the parallel circuitry on the backup Op.’s Panel we can use it to increase the forward scan polarity by .07%." She stated flatly.
B'Elanna looked at Sevens new set of calculations with interest and was impressed by her recommendations. "Honestly Seven can be quite brilliant at times" she thought to herself.
"Your right if we disable the secondary source, we can piggyback it onto the forward scanner array and that should give us an additional
.04% increase, more than enough to scan the surface"
"That is an accurate statement Lt." replied Seven with a look a mother gives her child when she finally learns her ABC’s.
"Harry," B’Elanna called turning to face him. "You’ll have to go the bridge and manually bypass it there. Otherwise the ships computer will try to reroute the path and we’ll overload the system."
"Sure no problem B’Elanna, I’ll call you when I’m ready." Harry Kim turned and exited Astrometrics glad to be out of there.
Earlier he had tried to get the Klingon to confide in him and reveal what happened yesterday with her, the Captain and Seven. Instead the Klingon turned on him and threatened to slit open his chest and eat his heart while it was still beating.
Usually Harry enjoyed B’Elannas company but her threat scared him and left him feeling a little queasy as he envisioned it’s meaning.
With Harry gone, Torres found the opportunity to approach the Borg and apologize for her behavior the previous night.
"Hey Seven," she ventured cautiously, " About last night and the way I came after you in the Messhall. Well I what…I. I am sorry if I offended you".
"Lt. Torres, Your apology is irrelevant, I was neither offended nor was your behavior different than any of our other encounters" never once pausing from the task she was working on.
"God Seven, would it kill you to just accept an apology. When some one offers it to you? You know, sometimes you can be so obtuse."
"Explain," the Borg stopped working and turned to face B’Elanna.
B’Elanna was becoming exasperated and reminded herself that Seven didn’t mean anything by it, just that sometimes Seven could be so dense.
"Well you see Seven, how can I explain this. Look, I know you really don’t care that I act like a jerk towards you. I mean I call you names and it doesn’t seem to bother you. Nevertheless, yesterday I had no right to behave that way, I was wrong. Therefore, when I offer an apology, it is a way of making us both feel better. It would restore my honor if you would accept my apology, now do you understand?"
"I see, Seven added dryly, You must be very efficient in apologizing since you are often incorrect." Returning her attention back to her terminal.
B’Elanna felt her anger rising and when she turned to confront Seven, she noted a big smile on the Borgs face. Shaking her head and smiling, her anger having subsided, B'Elanna realized that the Borg was being humorous.
"Seven, you never cease to amaze me, every time I think I got you figured out you through me for a loop. That was funny, very funny Seven, I can see Doc’s lessons are paying off" a large grin covered the Klingons face.
Seven continued to smirk and quickly added "I believe I’m beginning to understand why humans find humor entertaining, I find the expressions it emotes are quite intriguing".
Torres belted out a loud Klingon laugh and slapped Seven on the back.
"That’s another good one Seven", the Borg though stinging from the slap on her back found she enjoyed this moment with the usually hostile engineer.
"Lt. Torres, may I ask you something of a personal nature? I find I have insufficient data on this matter and require your expert opinion," her voice timid and less demanding.
"Ah Khaless, here we go and I was actually starting to enjoy her company," she sighed. The part that bothered B’Elanna most about Seven was her delivery; the Borg would just say whatever was on her mind.
"Sure Seven if you think I can help, what is it?"
"I find that I am experiencing certain emotions and I am unsure of how to act on them".
"O.K.," Torres allowed "what exactly is it you’re feeling?"
"I find that I am experiencing certain emotions about some one, I find it very difficult to function in my duties because I am wondering what they are doing. At other times, I find I cannot wait to be near this person and I feel desire when they touch me. I have also noted that this person makes it a point to be near me as well. I am able to detect certain changes in their physiology, which indicates that they desire me as well. Yet I am unsure as to how to proceed with this individual. I know that what I feel is more than physical desire. I believe, it may be possible that what I am feeling is love." She finished her voice raw with emotion.
B'Elanna was floored by the display of raw emotion from Seven "And I called her an Ice, Kahless, did I blow this one" She shook her head in disbelief. She suddenly became aware her mouth was wide open and snapped it shut before clearing her throat and answering.
B’Elannas mind was going through the list of possible candidates, the truth was she never thought Seven could be capable of lust let alone love. B’Elanna knew that there were many onboard Voyagers, who would give a month’s rations to be the object of the gorgeous Borgs affection. "However for the Borg to be interested in some one?"
Aside from work, Seven had a very limited social circle there was the Captain, Naomi Wildman, the Doctor, Neelix, Tuvok, Harry and Tom. Aside from Seven’s failed date with Ensign Chapman she couldn’t recall the Borg showing interest in anybody, unless Harry was trying to make another pass at her.
"Well have you told this person how you feel about them?" B’Elanna asked tentatively
"No, I do not believe this person would be receptive as to my intentions," her voice low and pained.
B’Elanna suddenly felt sorry for the Borg, it was obvious that this was affecting Seven deeply and she prayed that whoever it was they would not hurt her. The Borg had no experience in matters of the heart and that made her an easy target.
"Why do you think this person won’t be receptive?" she ventured gently.
"Because the Captain has spurned others who have had a romantic interest in her" not realizing the bombshell she just dropped on the Klingon.
"I think that she has determined that as Captain she can not allow herself to love and be love. I also suspect that there is something deep within her that prevents her from allowing such emotions. I am unsure of how to change that flaw in her character" the Borg's expression was pleading.
If B’Elanna was shocked before by Seven admission, she was positively flabbergasted now, her voice screamed in her ears, "The Captain, Oh my God, Did she just say the Captain? Kahless poor Seven, The Captain! I mean I… thought… I… saw …the… Captain… loo--… But Kahless the Captain?"
Shaking the loud voice out of her head she quickly gathered her thoughts, the Klingon suddenly feeling protective towards the Borg.
"Kahless Seven, it’s the Captain you’re in love with? I mean are you sure? God Seven, couldn’t you have picked some one easier to fall in love with the first time?"
"Lt. Torres, In embracing my humanity I have come to understand that certain emotions are at best, things that we can not necessarily control. It has occurred to me that love appears to be one of these emotions. I can not say that I understand how or why it has happened, I only know that it has" her voice wavered.
"God Seven, I mean I don’t know what to say. I mean I agree with you about emotions and well the Captain definitely keeps every one at arms length. In all the time that we have been out here she has never fu_ _, I mean has gotten involved with anyone. I just think its going to be very hard trying to convince her to fall in love with you. I know she likes you and stuff and I have caught her staring at you. But honestly I’m at a loss as to what to advise, I’m not the expert you think, especially when it comes to the Captain." B’Elanna couldn’t help notice the fallen look on Sevens face and found both of her hearts going out to the young Borg.
Seven was crestfallen, "I understand Lt., You are correct, My problem is unique regarding the Captain and I should not have assumed you would have the appropriate knowledge in assisting me with this. I find that although I have the knowledge of 10,000 species and have assimilated 60 gigaquads of data on human sexuality. I have no first hand knowledge on how to pursue an individual that will offer me---- resistance," her cool voice cracked. "I am sorry if I have upset you."
B’Elanna knew that she would live to regret her next decision and maybe it had something to do with her childhood, but she always found herself being the champion of the underdog.
B'Elanna sucked in a deep breath. "Alright Seven, I’ll help you, what assimilated knowledge do you have on wooing and romance? One thing I do know about the Captain, she’s a true romantic at heart."
The Klingon immediately interrupted her "Rule number one, you call me B’Elanna not Lt. Torres if we’re going to be co-conspirators than you call me B’Elanna." "Rule number two, you tell absolutely nobody about this or I’ll wring your Borg neck. I already have the Captain pissed at me I don’t need her hunting me down with a photon rifle."
Seven became delighted and more animated, now that B’Elanna agreed to help her.
"Very well Lt.…." B-’El-an-na, I do not believe that the Captain is the kind to be wooed".
"Look Borg, who’s the expert here? Do you want my help or not?" she asked menacingly.
"Very well Klingon, I will comply" she added sarcastically a smile curling her lips.
B’Elanna snorted loudly "You know you’re a real comic, Okay this is what will do."
Torres was about to continue when Harry Kim hailed them from the bridge.
"B’Elanna, I completed rewiring and power has been boosted by .07 %, you have all the power you need and the scanners are holding".
"Great Harry, Torres out", B’Elanna turned to Seven "Sorry Seven we have to get back to work, but why don’t we have dinner tonight at 2200 hours and we can start planning your strategy".
"That will be acceptable."
Hesitating slightly, unsure Seven would fully understand B'Elanna asked "Seven, I have to ask, have you given it any thought as to what you would do if you fail?"
"I have thought about it and that is why I have approached you to assist me in this matter. You are more knowledgeable and would be able to advise me in a most efficient manner. I would also like to point out B'Elanna Torres that I am Borg and I will not fail."
B'Elanna glowed at Sevens honest compliment " Still maybe you shouldn’t wear you heart out on your sleeve".
"B'Elanna Torres, why would I wish to remove my heart and display it on my sleeve? Surely this will cause me to stop functioning and I will be terminated."
B'Elanna rolled her eyes "Honestly Seven do you have to be so literal."
"It is a metaphor you dumb Borg, it means hold on to your heart and try not to love some one too much it might hurt you in the end".
"I see, but I find that I can not comply. My heart already belongs to the Captain and I love her with all that I am. To offer her anything less would demean and dishonor the great being that she is."
B’Elanna was awed by the feelings so eloquently expressed, and for it to come from Seven left her speechless. For Sevens sake she prayed that Janeway would cave in and return her love. B’Elanna knew that Janeway was hiding her feelings for the Borg and there was no doubt that the Captain would resist.
"Kahless Seven, that’s incredible, I hope the Captain learns to appreciate you."
"Thank you B’Elanna," she whispered her face blushing.
The Klingon enjoyed making the Borg blush, "Gee Seven, you're cute when you blush."
"I am not blushing, she accused, the Borg do not blush."
"Yeah right, come on let’s get back to work."
The two women moved to the terminals, while B’Elanna went over the new calibrations. Sevens fingers flew effortlessly over the panel downloading the slew of information that the new enhancements provided.
The panel chirped and Seven tapped in commands, when the panel chirped a second time B’Elanna padded over to her station.
"Did you find something?" looking over Sevens shoulder.
"I am unsure, it must be an error," her fingers flew over the panel and tapped in more commands. The computer chirped a third time and the results had not changed.
"Is that the Omega molecule data file? B’Elanna asked incredulously. I thought that it was destroyed, is that coming from that L class planet?"
‘It has some properties of the Omega, but it is not the Omega molecule"
"Well how is that possible is this another Omega molecule?"
"No, it is not," Sevens fingers continued flying over the panel,
"However it has the primary principles of the Omega molecule".
"So what your saying is that the Omega molecule came from this?" B’Elanna’s own hands entering commands.
"Yes that is accurate Lt., It appears this is the originating source of Omega," her normal cool demeanor gone. Seven slapped her comm badge, "Seven to Captain Janeway."
"Janeway here, go ahead Seven."
"Captain, I require you in Astrometrics, there is something you must see."
"On my way, Janeway out," Janeway exited her ready room crossing the bridge
‘‘Chakotay you have the conn, I will be in Astrometrics"
"Aye Captain" he watched as she headed towards the turbolift.
Janeway entered the turbolift, "Deck eight" the computer recognizing the command. She entered Astrometrics and found Seven and B’Elanna huddled over the terminal their heads touching and working furiously on the panel in front of them.
Janeway was happy to see her two officers working together instead of trying to kill each other. She approached them not wanting to lose the moment between them.
"Seven, Lt." acknowledging B’Elanna "What do you have?"
Seven moved and allowed Janeway to step in front of her
"I managed to isolate the energy signal originating from the L class planet. I have downloaded the data into Voyager and cross-referenced it to the databanks, Voyager has identified a portion of the energy signature."
"A portion, what do you mean a portion, is there more than one signature in the stream?" Janeways hands accessed the computer terminal.
"No," answered Seven allowing the Captain the time to come to her own conclusion.
"My God, its Omega! How is that that possible, unless of course this is the originating parent."
"Agreed Captain, You will note that though this signature contains protons of the Omega molecule, it has other properties as well, that neither Voyagers databanks or I can identify."
"Is it stable?" Janeways scientific mind taking control
"All data indicates it is stable, though weak" the Borgs voice laced with awe.
Janeway turned to Seven and noticed the look of awe on the young Borgs face.
"Very well, How is it that the Borg aren’t aware of this source?" her mind spun at the implications and how Voyager might be able to utilize a stable Omega molecule.
"The two signatures are within 3 meters of each other, it is possible that the cube exploded before the information was added to the collective."
"This is good news, what about the Borg cube is the Transwarp salvageable?
"We can only determine that once we have beamed down and examine the cube."
"Well, it looks like we’ll have to wait and see."
"Captain, what will you do about the Omega parent?" Sevens voice hopeful.
"Beam it on board of course, we can store it in the holodeck as we did last time."
"B’Elanna, I want you to verify the containment field still works in the holodeck, use the new information Seven has and make the proper adjustment for the properties on the parent Omega. Get a hold of Harry and have him assist you."
"Aye Captain on my way."
"Seven, let’s go over this data and see if we can identify some of the properties."
"Yes Captain, and Captain."
"Yes Seven?" Janeway turned to face Seven, leaning into the Borg slightly.
"Thank you," the Borgs heartfelt emotions conveyed.
Janeway looked into Sevens eyes and smiled warmly, locking onto the young Borgs eyes, she thought inwardly, "Oh My, she is exquisite", Janeway's voice screamed and made her head pound, she crossed her arms in front of her and forced the coldness to spill over her heart again.
Her voice dropped to its husky tone, "Oh don’t thank me yet Seven, we may be forced to destroy this one as well." Seven looked at her Captain in horror then tilted her head in acknowledgement.
"Janeway to the Bridge’
‘Chakotay here, Captain’.
"Commander How long before we reach the planet?"
"Three hours at our present speed, Captain."
"Commander, notify me as soon as we're in reach, Janeway out."
"Well, Seven let’s see what we can find," turning her full attention back to the young Borg.
"Yes, Captain, Perhaps I will see perfection for longer than 3.2 seconds this time."
Janeway smiled at her remembering well the young Borgs reaction to her first spiritual encounter. Seven was completely astounded and overwhelmed by the emotions that the Omega molecule stirred in her. To the Borg, Omega was their deity, the ultimate perfection of pure energy to be added to the collective.
The Borg spent thousands of years assimilating cultures in their attempt to achieve total perfection and Omega held that promise. Voyager discovered the Omega molecule and beamed it onboard. Seven worked furiously to stabilize the volatile molecule and failed,
Janeway was forced to order Seven to destroy the molecule.
To Sevens credit she followed the Captains orders and entered the sequence to destroy Omega. However, before Omega was destroyed the molecule stabilized and for 3.2 seconds Seven stared into it’s perfection and found it staring back.
The two women spent the next three hours focused, compiling data and running cross-references to Voyagers databanks when the bridge hailed them.
"Chakotay, to Janeway."
"Janeway here" slapping the badge without looking up from the terminal.
"Captain, we’ll be within transporter range in a half hour."
"Understood Commander, On my way."
"Well Seven, I guess will just have to wait until we get down there to get the rest of our answers."
"Yes Captain, it appears so", she stated flatly.
"Let’s see how every one else is doing." The two women exited Astrometrics and headed towards the turbolift that would take them to the bridge.
Janeway and Seven exited onto the bridge, Janeway stepped down and moved towards her command chair, Seven remained in the aft of the bridge standing over her station panel.
"20 minutes before we reach transporter range, system scans for Borg vessels are negative."
"On screen Mr. Kim, Let's see what we have" Harry tapped the commands on the OP's panel.
"On Screen now Captain" the view screen displayed a small orange and green orb.
"Mr. Paris bring us to orbit and hold."
"Aye Captain, bringing her in."
"I want the away team and Senior Staff assembled in the conference in ten minutes, Commander" Janeway stood and headed towards her ready room, "You have the Conn, Chakotay."
In ten minutes, the away team and senior staff were assembled in the conference room, each person knowing what was expected of them.
B'Elanna and Harry were the last to arrive after they had completed the testing of the Omega containment field. Janeway sat her hands folded in front of her.
"All right, let’s get started. Seven has located what appears to be the originating parent of the Omega molecule. All scans indicate the Borg cube is disable and has been for 33 years. The Omega signature is 3 meters away from the Borg cube. Which means the Borg may have been transporting the molecule before they went down. All scans indicate this molecule appears to be stable. I am bringing it back to Voyager. There may be a way we can adapt it Voyager and use it to find a way home.
"B’Elanna, how did you and Harry do with the Omega containment field?"
"We reprogrammed the Omega containment field according to the new data and put it through its paces, we should be fine Captain."
"Good, B’Elanna once we beam down I need you and Harry to check the Borg cube, See if the transwarp can be salvaged."
"Seven, I want you with me, we are going after the new Omega molecule and beam it back to Voyager".
"Mr. Tuvok, how are we on those weapons?’
"The weapons have been modified Captain and Ensign Gaines and crewman Matthews will be accompanying the away team, they are two of my best men."
"What about the planet’s surface what can we expect?"
"All sensors indicate the air is breathable, no humanoid life signs, we are picking up small animal forms, however the planet exhibits systemic activity every four hours."
"Thank You Tuvok, We’ll just have to deal with it."
" Mr. Paris what did you find in the way of a quick exit?"
"I programmed a safe route through a meteorite field 2 light years away, it’ll be a little tricky Captain, but it should give us some cover and the Borg won’t be able to engage their transwarp drive."
"Good work Mr. Paris."
"Chakotay, I am depending on you and Tuvok to get us out of there safely at the first sign of trouble".
"I wouldn’t have it any other way, Captain."
"Good, stay on yellow alert, Away team report to transporter room 2."
The staff stood up and exited the conference room. Janeway and the Away Team headed towards transporter room 2, armed to the teeth by the time they stepped onto the transported pads. On Janeways mark the transporter engaged, the sparkle appearing and disassembling their forms.
They reappeared on the planet’s surface a meter away from the crash site. Seven and B’Elanna immediately began to scan the area with their tricoders, as security contained the site. Janeways scan, pinpointed were the Omegas signal was located
"Over there," she motioned to Seven, "It’s coming from behind that boulder."
B’Elanna, Harry, get on that transwarp drive, crewman Matthews you’re with them. Seven, Ensign Gaines your with me". Gaines positioned himself in the lead and headed towards the boulder his phaser ready.
The Captain followed with Seven bringing up the rear, both women carrying their phasers at ready. As they rounded the boulder and entered, a small clearing the team stood dead in their tracks.
Surrounded by a green force field, crumpled on the floor was a humanoid life form. A young male adorned in a white and gold tunic that ended at his knees, his chest was covered by a gold breastplate. The skirt of the tunic was pleated and interlaced with the same gold metal plating as his breastplate. On his left hip a long broadsword of silver and gold sat in it’s sheath.
His hair black and wavy fell past his shoulders, a gold metal headband adorned his head and glistened in the sun. Draped across his shoulders and spilling out a long emerald green silk robe with gold markings. Janeway and Ensign Gaines stood in shock. Seven swiftly moved in and began a scan.
"Captain, it appears the humanoid is the Omega signature, the force field must be distorting the readings, I am unable to determine his species."
Janeway immediately snapped out of her reverie and moved towards Seven her own tricoder running it’s scans. "What is he doing here, why didn't we pick him up in our scans?" more to herself than Seven.
"Seven, can you deactivate the force field?"
"I am making changes to the tricoder now I should be able to disrupt the signal" Seven quickly made changes to the device and deactivated the force field.
(Continued on part II)