And a Child Shall Lead Them, Part V
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Kathryn returned to her ready room mentally and physically fatigued. Her depression deepened by her confrontation with B'Elanna regarding Seven. She faced one of the hardest personal decisions of her career. The Doctor wanted to place Seven in stasis, as a last resort in preventing her imminent death. Chakotay disagreed, he felt spiritual forces were at work and Seven should be accorded a release of her soul over stasis.
For Kathryn neither choice offered an acceptable outcome. She ascended the steps to the alcove of her ready room. A cup of coffee in her hand, idly staring into the expanse of space. She lost herself in the hypnotic trance of passing stars.
Fleeting images of the past three months haunted her. Her shoulders sagged under the weight threatening to crush her soul. Her scientific mind unable to reconcile with the spiritual ramifications.
At first, she was enchanted with Michael the existence of a higher being almost plausible. Elusive the childhood teachings borne of faith bestowed by her mother. Her scientific mind prevailing, not looking elsewhere as advised by Michael. Her logical mind battling for control of her faith. "Soul" the word foreign and soiled. "Is there such a thing? Oh Seven, what do you believe in?" Her tortured inner voice calling for the answer.
Kathryn's science failed Seven. Her nanoprobes grew dormant, rejecting the Borg technology that kept her alive. Her human physiology reasserting itself to an unusual extent, becoming pronouncedly dominant and incapable of sustaining her whole.
Kathryn tormented by the tragic irony. The human aspect Seven fought against vehemently once, would in the end be her demise, the integral Borg essence abandoning Seven in her hour of need. Kathryn groaned inwardly "Seven, can you ever forgive me" the tears flowing freely down her face.
The chime to her ready room rang disrupting her pained thoughts. She wiped the tears from her eyes "Enter"
Tuvok entered, if he was aware of Kathryn's tears he made no indication. Kathryn turned away and returned her gaze back to the stars.
Her voice raw and raspy "Are you here as my friend, or as a Senior Officer?"
The Vulcan climbed the stairs to the alcove, standing close behind her. In an uncharacteristic subdued tone, replied "I am here as your friend"
She let out a short laugh and turned to face her friend "You always seem to know when I'm in most need of a friend"
"I like to believe that in the twenty years we known each other. I have come to understand the difference"
"Oh my old friend" her voice beseeching and melancholy. "What do I do? My heart is telling me to fight for her, not give up hope. And yet the scientist in me realizes the futility of it all"
"Perhaps Captain, there is not a logical scientific solution to this. Though it is illogical, perhaps it is simply a matter of faith. I have watched your career for a number of years. You are a great Captain, though your strategy at times is illogical. It has been your faith in their eventual outcome, which has allowed them to succeed. This matter should not be any different"
"Somehow I believe there's a compliment in there somewhere. Still when Seven first came to us, I told her l would make the decisions for her. Until she could prove to me she was capable of making her own. I had no right, Tuvok, just as I don't now".
"Captain, You are incorrect in your assessment. It was you that taught Seven how to embrace her humanity. She lived as a Borg for 18 years, assimilated at the age of six. I doubted your ability to succeed; yet it was your faith. Which allowed her to overcome and adapt as a human. She learned to trust you, to have faith in your decisions"
"That only serves to make my decision harder. How can I objectively speak for her? How can I be certain she would find this life acceptable?"
"There is no way for you to ascertain that. You must remember the concept of having a soul, is purely individual. Seven did not share this belief. Therefore Commander Chakotays, argument is irrelevant in her case. He presumes she would pass to a higher existence. That is not the case in this matter. Seven existed and functioned as a conscious being. Omega is a molecular mass of perfect energy, not a conceptual omnipotent being of flesh and spirit.
Kathryns shadowed eyes reached out to Tuvok in relief. "I never really thought of it that way. I am sure if it was any of us. She would place us in stasis, regardless of our beliefs. If it meant it would allow her time to find a solution."
"That is a correct statement Captain. Your decision is not an easy one. However, you must consider her logical thinking in this matter. She would expect you to make the correct decision. As I am sure she would respect you for it."
"Somehow, I seem to remember a different experience."
"Captain, Seven may have not always agreed with you. However logically she could not refute the outcome of your success. You taught her not all solutions require a logical conclusion. Some are based on the faith of strong individuals."
Kathryn felt her face flush, embarrassed by Tuvoks analogy "Thank you, Tuvok, You really are a good friend."
"It is a documented 21st century medical fact. A person in a catatonic state is cognizant of their surroundings. I myself have visited Seven often. I find though she is unable to respond to me, my presence may offer her comfort."
"Your quite fond of her aren't you?"
"Her intelligence and logical approach to her duties are admirable qualities. She reminds me of my daughter and I think of her as one."
Kathryn swallowed a lump in her throat. The emotions building and threatening to overflow. For Tuvok to admit his affection for Seven as a daughter was a great compliment coming from the Vulcan. His openness of his feeling towards Seven shamed her. "I wasn't aware of that."
'It is not a fact, I want known"
"I see, I love her you know?" The words finally said a heavy weight lifting from her heart.
"I have been aware of that fact for quite sometime. As I have been aware of her feelings for you."
"Am I that transparent?"
"Kathryn you must remember. There is no one onboard Voyager who has known you as long as I. In the past twenty years I have come to learn much about, just as you have come to learn much of me."
"I just don't know what to do about it. A part of me wants to hold her and never let her go. Another wants to run to the furthest region of the Delta quadrant and get away."
Tuvok sighed, detesting getting involved in Kathryn's romantic matters. "It would be illogical of you to return deeper into the Delta quadrant, since we are now only five years from reaching home. I might also like to point out, you have already broken more protocols than any other Captain in Starfleet history, in an effort to achieve this."
Kathryn let out a bark of laughter, her first in three months "Is that some sort of compliment? However I disagree, Captain James T. Kirk still holds that dubious honor."
"I believe you stand corrected Captain. Your recent acts have propelled you to the number one position"
"Oh My, What is Starfleet going to do to me."
"I would assume that they would make you an Admiral. Since that appears to be their efficient method of dealing with errant Starfleet Captains."
This time Kathryn laughed heartily her eyes beaming with tears "I'll make sure to invite you to the ceremony."
'I would be honored to attend", his eyebrow rising in a devious way.
"Thank you Tuvok, You truly were a help to me. Now if you'll excuse me I have to see the Doctor."
"You are welcome, Captain" the Vulcan turned and left.
She lingered in her ready long enough to compose herself. She entered the ensuite and ran cold water over her face, brushing her teeth in an effort to dispel a previous taste of bile. She raked her fingers through her hair and contacted the bridge. After turning the conn over to Chakotay, she entered the turbolift. Ascending to Sickbay her spirit lighter and allowing her to relax.
She inhaled a deep breath releasing it slowly. Entering Sickbay her command mode back on, she paused. Lying on the biobed, was Seven, her pallor ghostly white. Kathryn was stricken, not expecting the dramatic physical changes. She tapped B'Elannas shoulder, who was sleeping by Sevens side. "B'Elanna, I need a few moments alone with her"
"I'm not leaving her side, and don't think you can make me"
"It's not what you think B'Elanna. I just want a moment with her. I'm not sure she can hear me, but I'd like to try"
"Why the sudden change?"
"You presumed too much. I never said I would let her die. How could I?" Kathryns voice contracting, and choking with her emotions.
B'Elanna noticed the Captains pained expression. "But I thought that, I thought you agreed with Chakotay"
"For a moment I considered his argument. But you might say a friend helped me see the light"
"Captain, I..I didn't mean to be so harsh and disrespectful. It's just that, nobody in there was willing to defend her, other than the Doc. I know we didn't always see eye to eye, but she deserves better than this"
"I know your heart was in the right place, B'Elanna, though I disagree with your approach. There was some truth to your words. In all honestly it was Tuvok that finally convinced me."
"She loves you Captain. You should have heard the way she spoke of you."
"I realize that, and I will always regret my behavior towards her. I just hope I have the chance to tell her one day."
"Don't give up on her Captain, she's a fighter our Borg. She would never give up without a fight."
"I have no intentions of giving up on her. If I have to spend, the rest of my life looking for a solution. Then so be it, but we'll do it together."
"I hope you have the chance to tell her that"
"So do I, now if you don't mind. I'll contact you when the Doctors ready."
"Thanks Captain, I'd really appreciate that"
"B'Elanna, did Seven ever mention what Michael told her?"
"No, she never did. But whatever it was, it made her very happy."
"I see" her voice low and wavering.
"Captain, is there something wrong?"
'No, No there is. Do you know where Tom Paris is?"
"He went to the Mess hall an hour ago. He's been helping me keep Seven company."
"I see, make sure you being him with you when I call."
"Understood, and Captain?"
"About my resignation, well I' er."
Kathryn waved her hand "All forgotten Lt., I never filed the paperwork. You can pick up your pips up from my office."
"Thank you Ma'am" B'Elanna exited Sickbay, her concern lighter by Janeways visit.
Kathryn sat in B'Elannas vacated chair, her hand clasping Sevens. Sevens hand was cool to the touch. Her breathing labored and her face pale and fairer than normal. Kathryn brushed away wisps of hair from her face. Her fingers tracing her jaw, resting lightly on her lips. She brushed a light kiss on the back of Sevens hand. Her eyes closing, squeezing back the wave of tears.
"Tuvok says, you can hear me. I want you to know that I am here for you. I am terribly sorry if I hurt you. You mean the world to me and I just want to see you get better. You have to be strong and not give up. You and Tom will one day be together and happy. Know that I will always be there for you. I love you and always will."
Sevens breathing continued labored, her eyes fluttering in REM state. She was sitting in a field, bleached golden by the sun. She held her daughter, the child gurgling happily. Her eyes a deep blue like her mother's. Her lashes long and golden, she had a delicate dimpled chin. Her unruly curls of strawberry blonde swept into a bonnet. She placed her tiny fist into her mouth and suckled hungrily. Then reached out and grabbed Sevens chin. Seven looked adoringly at her child and placed a feathery kiss on her head.
Though Seven heard Kathryns voice she could not respond. Her tongue and limbs heavy and unable to respond to her command. A single tear rolled down her face, Kathryn catching it in her finger. She swallowed the lump in her throat, threatening to choke her. She called out to the Doctor after hailing B'Elanna and Tom Paris.
"Captain, I gather you've made your decision."
"I am obligated to inform you once again. I ethnically can not end her life. Clinically she still has brain and motor functions. I will not perform murder.
Her voice on edge, leveling her eyes to his. "No one is asking you too, Doctor. If you would, I am ready to inform you of my decision. As Captain, I am ordering Seven of Nine placed in stasis. She will remain that way until a viable solution is found."
The Doctor opened and closed his mouth several times, all along assuming the other. " Well then, I'm glad we agree Captain."
"Yes well, I'm sure there are those rare occasions" She added tersely, annoyed with the Doctors abruptness. "How long will it take and when can you start?"
"I should start right away. I can complete the preparations in 20 minutes."
"Then proceed Doctor, B'Elanna and Tom are on their way down. Please wait until they arrive before you begin."
"Will you be remaining as well Captain?"
"No I don't see the need. Please inform me when the procedure is complete."
"Humph, well yes, I'll make sure to do that."
"Is there something on your mind Doctor?" losing control of her anger at the holograms impudence
"Well frankly Captain, there is. I would think you would want to remain. After all you are her Captain."
"Doctor, it seems you have a misunderstanding of me. Apparently, you feel I am accountable to you in some way. However, I assure you Doctor it's the complete opposite. Nor am I required to explain myself either, is that understood?"
'Yes Captain, I apologize. I just thought that as one of Sevens friend you would be present."
"Not that I have a need to explain myself to you. Nevertheless, I have already said my good byes. So if you don't mind Doctor, just inform me when the procedure is complete."
"Yes, Captain" the sting of Janeways words knocking the wind out of his sails.
B'Elanna and Tom were entering sickbay as Kathryn exited.
"Captain, is everything OK with Seven?" a concerned look towards the biobed from Tom.
"Everything is fine Tom. The Doctor is ready for her now. You may want to hurry and say your good byes" Kathryn staring into the clear blue eyes of Paris. Envy and regret crossing the features of her classic face.
"Aren't you staying?" Tom's brow rising at the Captains strange look.
"No, I've already stayed long enough. Take good care of her Tom, you'll never regret it."
"Captain? Yes Ma'am I will, I mean she's my friend" his face visibly confused and searching.
Patting him in his arm, she smiled a crooked grin. "Don't worry Tom, You'll understand one day and thank me."
'Yes Ma'am if you say so. Still confused he turned to the Klingon. B'Elanna are you ready?"
B'Elanna's frowned, finding the whole scene weird. "Yeah, sure Tom, let's go."
The couple entered sickbay, Janeway watching after them. Her shoulders sagging when the door hissed closed. Breathing deeply again, the pain in her heart heavy, she knew she was doing the right thing. Seven belonged with Tom, not her. She returned to her quarters, replicating a scotch and soda. She removed her uniform and changed to a tee shirt and sweats. She selected an antique book of poems and settled in the couch. Sipping her drink she searched for a particular poem. Finding it she began to read it, memorizing each line.
A dazed Tom and B'Elanna entered Sickbay, searching each other for answers. "What the hell was that about?" B'Elanna asked a puzzled expression on her brow.
"Beats me, was it just me? Or was she throwing Seven at me?"
"It sure as hell looked that way to me. What the hell is going on Tom? Are you trying to make a move on Seven?"
"Honestly Lanna, I have no idea what the Captains up to. I don't want Seven like that it's you I want. I mean we've been so good together lately. Well I thought that.... We."
"You thought what? That I would forgive you and take you back?"
"Yeah something like that. I know I don't deserve you, but lately it's all I think about. Well it's kind of given me hope" Tom looking intensely into B'Elannas eyes.
"Yeah well. You've always been buddy, buddy with the Captain. Maybe you said something to her about Seven."
"That's just not true, Lanna, you have to trust me. I'm not lying to you. Seven is just my friend, I don't think of her that way. She's always been, you know so cold, you've said it yourself."
"Yeah, well I was wrong, and she's my friend. So, don't think you can talk about her like that. If you ever do anything to hurt Seven, on my Klingon soul, I'll hunt you down and kill you slowly."
Tom turned and grabbed B'Elanna by the forearms. The Klingon flexed her powerful arms at his touch. "I promise you, I don't have feelings for Seven like that. Moreover, I would never do anything to hurt her. I know it's you I love though I don't deserve it. I was hoping for another chance, let me prove it to you. I really mean it this time, Lanna" His puppy dog eyes pleading.
B'Elanna relaxed in his grip, believing him, melting under his eyes. "Yeah, well don't think it's going to be that easy. You have a long way to go, Tom Paris" she growled at him.
Tom's eyes lit up, embracing the afforded opportunity. He smiled his crooked boyish grin. "That's what makes it all the better"
B'Elanna snorted "Yeah well, only time will tell. Come on let's go say good bye to Seven."
They walked into Sickbay and neared Sevens biobed. The Doctor entered the last of the stasis data in a pad. He was patiently waiting for Tom and B'Elanna to arrive. Still feeling chastened by Janeways words he was more amicable.
'Lt. Torres, LT. Paris, I will leave you alone for a moment. Try not to take to long, she isn't faring well."
"Sure Doc, we won't take long" B'Elannas voice softening, looking at Seven."
"All right you bitchy Borg, don't make a liar out of me. You have to hang on, don't give up. Then we can go over our strategy again. I miss fighting with you so hurry back. Otherwise, I'll have to start fighting with Paris again. And that isn't as much fun" She gently released Sevens hand, placing a chaste kiss on her forehead. " Come back to us soon" Tears pooling B'Elannas eyes.
Tom swallowed hard, concerned over B'Elannas threat. He made a mental note to avoid irritating B'Elanna. 'We all miss you Seven and we will be here for you. Thanks for fixing the replicators for me. I know you don't know this, but I had a pool on them. And Well, I won a lot of replicator rations on it. And when you come back, I owe you half. Bye Seven, you'll be in our prayers"
B'Elanna shot Tom a grievous look, remembering too well the bet. "You had to mention that didn't you?"
"What?" Tom genuinely perplexed.
'Never mind. It's a long story" she spat at him.
The Doctor moved to the biobed and transferred her to the stasis chamber. He was entering the command sequence, engaging the computer. All three noticed the tear falling from Seven's human eye. B'Elanna let out a strangled cry. Tom cradled her gently in his arms. "It's alright Lana, she knows we love her' his voice cracking.
The stasis chamber engaged sending Seven into a cryogenic sleep. The frost beginning to form, freezing the tear in place. B'Elanna was sobbing softly, Tom's eyes watering. They held each other for a long while before departing.
"Doctor to Captain Janeway."
Kathryn sat in her quarters, the book a gift from Justin in her lap. The tears staining the frail antique pages. Her mind wandering and lost in thought.
The hail brought her back. "Janeway here Doctor. Go ahead" her voice distant and soft.
"The procedure is complete Captain. Seven is safely in stasis."
"Thank You Doctor. Keep me informed if anything changes. Janeway out."
Kathryn returned her attention to the poem finding solace. She memorized each verse, the words powerful and touching. The author renowned for his writings of the macabre and not poetry. Yet, the words written before her existed now, for Kathryn only.
She placed a marker on the frail page and stood. Crossing to her bedroom ensuite, she drew a bath. Hoping to find comfort in its warmth, she poured various oils and scented powders and undressed, lowering herself slowly, her body adjusting to the heat. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back. The tears falling easily, her shoulders shaking violently. Hours later emotionally exhausted she stood and toweled herself dry. She dressed in regulation Starfleet pajamas and slid the coverlet from her bed. She laid in the dark for countless hours, sleep eluding her.
The hours passed with her tossing and turning, haunted by the images of brilliant blue eyes and half smiles. She touched her lips, remembering the velvet feel of Sevens. Her heart clutching in her chest a mournful moan escaping. "Oh Annika, Tell me how to bring you back. I do love you, I always have. We are so close to home and yet I feel so far away without you. Oh God, why hath thou forsaken me?"
Finally realizing the futility she rose from bed and dressed in her uniform. She walked the decks of Voyager and before she realized it, she appeared in Sickbay.
The medical EMH appeared "Please state the nature of your, Captain. Is something wrong?"
"No, I just can't sleep, I thought I'd come down and check on Seven."
'Well, she's in stasis, but you can see her if you want"
"I'd really like that Doctor."
"Of course Captain, She's over there. I'll leave you alone."
"Thank you, Doctor."
Kathryn moved to the stasis chamber and touched the panel. It was cold to her touch and unfeeling, unlike Sevens warmth. Seven lay motionless, the panel maintaining the temperature. Her life signs in a deep hibernated state, barely registering. She sat for a while just holding the chamber, mumbling words of love. She remained that way for hours, rising only to leave at the start of the Alpha shift and with a heavy heart, she exited sickbay.
Seven of Nine was in an open meadow the snow falling. It was late noon and the sun was keeping her warm. She could hear Kathryn calling and searched frantically for her. She called her name several times, Kathryn not answering. The sun was beginning to set, and she felt a chill in her bones. The wind was beginning to blow harsh. Lifting the blanket of white snow from the ground, she knew she was lost and could not find her way back.
The inclement weather preventing her from gaining her bearings. She tried using her Borg enhanced implants, but the cold affected them. They were malfunctioning, preventing her from finding Kathryn. She called out again, her voice muffled by the wind. She was feeling helpless and lost and began to cry, falling to the ground.
Janeway entered the bridge, the Alpha shift already present. She noted the slight course adjustment on their flight plan. Voyager skirting around an ionic nebula four light years away, noting the change in course. She entered her ready room, turning over the conn. She was going through the latest reports from Starfleet. When the chime to her ready room rang.
Chakotay her burly first officer entered. "Kathryn, I heard you placed Seven in stasis."
"That is correct, Commander" Chakotay grimaced, expecting Kathryn to be less formal.
"I just wanted to let you know that I stand by your decision."
"Chakotay, In this case it wouldn't matter. I do not intend to let her go that easily. Not without a fight, she means to much to Voyager."
"Is it just Voyager, or you?"
"Not that it's your concern, but it doesn't matter. Seven risked her life for us on more than one occasion. The least I can do is find a way to bring her back."
"Kathryn, can you be so sure you did the right thing? She was struck down by Lucifer's light Michael was unable to save her. What makes you think you can save her? It is possible you have placed her soul in jeopardy. By not allowing her to pass and cleanse her soul, you've damned her."
Kathryn's anger flared and she controlled her breathing. "Tell me Chakotay, what makes you think, that isn't what Lucifer wants? Has it occurred to you that by letting her die? We would be playing into his hands? Can you be so sure your right?"
Chakotay frowned considering Kathryn's words carefully. "I can't say that I am, but I guess I lack your faith."
"Maybe, or perhaps we have our different beliefs. I would like to think we're capable, of learning to respect those differences and leaving it at that."
"I think that's a wise decision" Kathryn nodded her head in agreement. Realizing they reached a crossroad, each taking a different path.
Harry Kim's voice came over the comm. " Lt. Kim to Captain Janeway, we need you on the bridge."
Janeway rose and headed to the bridge, followed closely by Chakotay.
'What is it Lt.?"
"I don't know how to explain this. But it appears the nebula has changed its course."
Kathryn stepped closer to the viewscreen. Her hands held firmly on her hips. A large purple and blue ionic cloud in view. The cloud expanded several miles long in a circular shape. "Are you sure, Lt.?"
"Yes Ma'am, we're still on course, the nebula has adjusted its course to match Voyagers."
Tuvok entered commands in his panel "The Lt. is not mistaken the nebula has altered its course"
"Tom, alter our course, heading 247.5, get us away from it."
"Aye Captain, altering course heading 247.5"
"Captain, the nebula is altering course again" A puzzled Harry looking from his terminal, his hands entering commands.
"Tuvok, run a scan, find out what's going on."
"Tom, alter our course heading 297.3"
"Altering course, 297.3"
"Captain, the nebula is gaining speed and closing. Sensors are indicating a class 6 nebula."
"Harry open a channel, all frequencies. Turning to look at Chakotay, "It won't be the first time we found intelligent life in a nebula."
"Nebula, This is Captain Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager. Please state your intention."
"It's not answering to hails" Harry raising his head from his terminal and looking at the Captain.
"Captain, the nebula has increased speed, impact in 10 seconds" Tuvok stated flatly.
Janeway crossed to her command chair " Shields up, Red Alert."
Chakotay was keying commands in his pad 5 seconds to impact" the red klaxon glowing.
"Brace for impact" Janeway barked to the bridge
Tuvok continued the countdown "4, 3,2,1" Voyager was engulfed in a purple blue haze. The violent affect never occurring, the bridge viewport displaying the nebula-absorbing Voyager.
"Report, Tuvok what's happening."
"Captain, the nebula has made contact and penetrated our shields. There are no reports of system failures. All systems are on line. Sickbay is reporting no injuries or casualties."
Janeways stood "What is it, Tuvok what are our sensors indicating?"
"Sensors indicate we are in a class 6 nebula. Intriguing, we should have sustained system wide damages. Yet Voyager has not been affected."
Janeways eyes became glazed, deep in thought "Lt. Kim scan the bridge for the Omega parent"
Harry startled, keyed the commands into his terminal "Scanning the bridge, scans indicate the Omega parent is not on the bridge"
The bridge was washed in a blue and purple haze. The nebula engulfing Voyager, emitting a sense of peace and serenity. Janeway turned to Chakotay and Tuvok, her face quizzical and searching. Silently they conveyed the sensations the nebula emoted. Janeway scanned the faces of her bridge crew their faces were smoothed, relaxed and complacent.
"Stand down Red Alert" aware the nebula meant no harm to them.
"Standing down red alert" Chakotay tapping the command, his eyes shifting to the viewport.
"Lt. open a ship wide comm" Harry Kim responding quickly.
"Crew of Voyager, This is Captain Janeway. A class 6 nebula has boarded us. It is an intelligent life form and we will be initiating first contact. Stand down and await my further orders. Janeway out."
Tuvok felt a familiarity in the nebula presence. He quickly adjusted his sensors.
"Captain, sensors indicate the nebula is the Omega parent.
"Harry make the adjustments to the translator. It's time to initiate first contact."
"Aye Captain, making adjustments now" before Harry could complete entering the sequences.
Three angelic beings materialized in front of the viewport on the bridge. Their wings fully expanded and their forms hovering, not touching the ground. The first to materialize was Michael, his gaze found Janeways and he smiled warmly. He positioned himself to the lower left of the viewport. On the lower, right of the viewport another being appeared, dressed like Michael his hair brown and long, his robe a vibrant aqua with gold sequins. To the upper center of the screen the third being materialized. His hair a golden blonde, the robe a rich sapphire blue and gold.
They beings remained alert and waiting for someone. In the center of the viewport, a presence began to emerge. The face first appeared of a bearded middle age human male. Wearing a thorny crown and dressed in a white and blue cotton robe. His eyes an impossibly crystal blue, with dark curly hair. Before his form solidified it morphed into an ancient appearing man, with a long white bearded. He wore a brilliant crown of gold, but was dressed in the same cotton robes. His eyes the same crystal blue, as before, before solidifying the image morphed into a ghostly apparition. A ghostly form of a male wounds apparent on his wrist and feet. The process was a continuous loop, the being never assuming one form for long. There was a golden aura surrounding the being, bathing the bridge in it's glow. His face regal and knowing, displayed love and compassion.
The winged angels protectively hovered close to the being, flanking him on both sides and from above. Their hands resting on the hilt of their swords. Their eyes continuously scanned the bridge restlessly. The being viewed the bridge with familiarity, absorbing the essence of the humans before him.
He settled on the form of Kathryn Janeway, who rose from her chair. She stilled her body and relaxed her breathing. His eyes met hers, their essence changing from fire to sky. Smiling, his face gentle and knowing, he spoke to her.
"Kathryn Janeway, I have eagerly awaited you."
"Who are you?" her mouth suddenly dry and wavering, growing dizzy from the affect of the changing being.
"I am that which you deny. I am many to all. I am but one" his voice gentle and lyrical.
"Does your race have a name?" her scientific mind not wavering.
"I am but one, I am the Alpha and the Omega"
"Are you saying, you are what many call God?"
"You see, yet you do not. I am many to all and still but one"
Janeway sighed her impatience bubbling. "I'm sorry, I don't believe in the existence of a Supreme Being. I'm a scientist, I believe in what I can hold and prove with science."
"Yet, your faith in others can not be held and proved. Can you prove the existence of faith with your science?"
"To some degree yes, I have seen faith work wonders."
"Then you believe in the existence of faith? Even though you can not hold it in your hands or prove it's molecular component with your science?"
"Yes, I would say that's correct."
"Then in turn you believe in me. I do not require your acceptance of me to exist, Kathryn. It is your faith in others that brings me closer to you."
'I have never reached out to you, even in my worst times"
"It does not mean that I was not there. I have been with you since the beginning. Just as I will be with you at the end. It is your faith that holds you close to my heart. Do you believe you are here in the Delta quadrant by accident?"
"No I don't, it was more by choice. I choose to destroy the caretaker's array in order to save the Ocampas. It had nothing to do with fate."
"You are here, because I will it so. Imagine the computational probabilities of a scout vessel like Voyager, being in that moment of space, at that exact moment in time. The probabilities are astounding, even for a scientist."
"So what you're saying, is that you deliberately stranded us out here. That you are the reason we have been kept away from our loved ones for six years. Moreover, what of all the good people I lost out here. Whose families will never see them again?"
"You still look but you can not see. What of all the countless number of lives your crew saved. Were they not just as important? Do your families love you any less, than they did before? If you were to die would the seize to love you?"
"It still doesn't give you the right to decide that. Nor should those families have been denied their loved ones."
"Would you have decided differently? All life is precious, but it extends past the biological form."
"I don't regret any of my decisions. However I regret the lost of life my decisions have caused"
"How many of you here on Voyager, regret saving entire species? Has this not been a small price to pay for the greater good?"
"There isn't anyone onboard Voyager that regrets those decisions. However the loss of a life, of any life is never acceptable."
"Has that always been the case Kathryn? Where there not those among you. Who would have sentenced the Ocampa to their deaths? Would Voyagers compliment be what they are today, if not for you? For your faith in them, are you of the belief life can not exist outside of the human form?"
"I'm not sure if it does, I would like to think it continues, perhaps in a higher consciousness. However it offers little comfort to those, that will never see their loved ones again."
"Then perhaps it is for you to teach them. It was through their great sacrifice, entire civilizations were allowed to continue their existence. It was but a small price to pay for the greater good. Find comfort in knowing they are with me now. They exist in the comfort of my love, that I would never abandon them. It is I who pays homage to their great sacrifices."
"And what about Seven? Will you pay homage to her?"
"You have met the Carrier of Light, do you believe him to be evil?"
"Not in the biblical sense, no. However, he is responsible for Sevens injuries. I can't say that I'm fond of him."
"Do not be fooled Kathryn. Just as good exist, so does pure evil."
"Then why not destroy Lucifer? If you are God, why do you allow him to exist?"
"Because I love him, as I love all. Lucifer is the most beautiful of all my angels. Your ancient text, are wrong in his depiction. Understand instead what makes him the beast and in the end it is you that will prevail'
"What of Seven of Nine. Will you help her?"
"I am here now to correct what has been wronged. I am here because she calls to me. Your journey is not at its completion Kathryn. In time, you will turn the key that will save hundreds of civilizations. Annika is a very important part of that key. You must help her unlock the mystery."
"Turning to Michael the being whispered. "Michael being the her to me."
Michael bowed to his master and dematerialized from the bridge.
"Why the cryptic game? Why not state your intentions?"
"I assure you it is not a game. I have made my intentions clear. It is for you to seek the truth within yourself. You must learn to have faith in the part of you that exist as a woman. Not as a leader, Michael has grown fond of the lovely creature. It was his compassion and love for her that brought me here. However, know this Kathryn, Lucifer is aware of Annikas existence. He sees that which is veiled to you. You must never underestimate him, but learn to understand, so that you may defeat him."
"If you are Supreme Beings, how am I to defeat him?"
"You have fought constant battles, you never should have won. Yet, how is it that you still exist? The answer has always been there, learn to accept it for what it is. Science can not prove some things. Yet their existence in undeniable"
Michael re-materialized holding Seven in his arms. He reached out, caressed her implant, and gently placed a kiss on her lips. The blue light emanating from his hand, he turned to his master and held her out to him. The three angels resumed their positions. Sevens body suspended in front of them held by the golden aura of the being.
As the being nodded, each angel emitted an arc of energy from their eyes. The three forming a triangular spectrum of light and striking Sevens form. The energy forced her body to arch upward, as it floated and spun in the air. Her form straightened upright and assumed the position of a crucifixion. Each angel's light force striking in three different parts of her limbs.
Two lights struck her wrist and the third her crossed feet. The force of the energy lifted her higher. Her head lowered, it fell to her left side. It appeared as if she was actually being crucified. One light of aqua struck her right wrist. A light of green struck her left wrist. While a light of blue struck her crossed feet.
Blood began to trickle from her left side just below her breast. Beads of sweat in blood forming on her forehead. Janeway rose in concern and found herself frozen. Though she wanted to move, her body would not respond to the commands. The being's force holding her in place. He morphed and solidified into the bearded middle age man.
Wounds appearing on his hands and feet, he held his hands up. A brilliant golden light of red and gold emanated from the wounds. It struck Seven in the heart and mouth. Within seconds, she began to breathe. The breath expelling in a choked gasp. Michael moved behind her, the lights dissipated and he caught her in his arms and held her.
Seven's eyes opened and fluttered lightly. "Captain, I am not functioning properly. My electrolytes are low and I am weak." Her breath was shallow and warm again. The Borg implant over her left eye was different. Instead of the stark gray metallic color, it had a hue of silver and gold.
Kathryn walked to her and stopped within an inch, her eyes turning their warm blue. Smiling deeply she looked into Sevens eyes. The warmth generating through Kathryns features.
"Welcome back Seven, you're going to be fine. I will have Harry escort you to Sickbay. I'll see you as soon as I can" Her voice soft and wavering, she nodded to Lt. Kim. Who moved towards Seven and escorted her out. Kathryn watching her retreating figure until the turbolift doors closed.
"I want to thank you, she means a lot to Voyager. Will her Borg implant remain that way?"
The being smiled and nodded "She is not what she was, but she is more. I have left my seal upon her. Let those that bring harm to her, bare witness. For I am, the Alpha and the Omega and they shall feel my wrath.
The being flashed into a bright light, the angels following suit. The energy forces joined into one light and disappeared. Voyager's crew withdrew their hands from their eyes. The brilliance of the joining lights blinding them, before disappearing.
Janeway turned to Chakotay, his face in awe. He opened his mouth to speak, then closed it. "I can't wait to see your report" the only words his mouth could form.
Janeway snorted, and shook her head. "I am not sure if I'll be able to write it" she responded the evident shock still present.
"I found the entire experience quite intriguing. Though they are obviously beings of energy, the computer did not register any of their readings. In fact the computer data on the nebula has been deleted from our databanks" Tuvok stated flatly.
Tom Paris turned in his chair, his eyes wide in disbelief. "Remind me to be nicer to Seven. No offense Captain, but I'd rather have you mad at me then them"
Janeway lowered her head and laughed aloud. "I agree Lt., maybe we should put out a ship wide memo. Chakotay, you have the conn, I'll be in Sickbay"
"Aye Captain, and Captain?" Janeway turning to Chakotay "Yes, Commander"
"Can you tell Seven we love her" A look of amusement in his dark eyes.
Janeway snorted in laughter "Kissing up so soon, Commander?" she raised her hand "Just kidding, I'll make sure to let her know."
She headed to the turbolift, stepping in. "Deck 13" the turbolift ascending to her request. Kathryn felt lighter in spirit. The splendor of seeing Seven again taking her breathe away. If it was possible, Seven was more beautiful than before. Her heart was beating furiously, the joy overwhelming. The turbolift taking forever to reach deck 13.
She exited the turbolift hurrying down the passageway to sickbay. On her arrival she found Seven swatting at the Doctors scanner. A deep scowl creasing her beautiful face.
"Seven, stay still, I can't get an accurate reading. If you keep fidgeting" the doctor buzzing frantically around her.
"I have told you, I am functioning at acceptable levels now. Please cease your examination."
"Seven, I'm the Doctor here not you. Now for the last time sit still."
Kathryn smiled ruefully, at the harmless display between the two. "Seven, let the Doctor finish" Her arms crossed in front of her. She leaned against the doorway, a crooked grin on her face.
Seven shot Kathryn an evil glare, which only caused Kathryn to smile harder.
With a forced resignation she sighed "Yes Captain, I will comply"
"Thank you" A forced reply from a completely exasperated Doctor. He continued the examination, Seven flinching when he neared her cortical implant.
"There now that wasn't so bad, was it?"
"It is acceptable" her eyes rolling at the Doctor. Kathryn covering her mouth and stifling a laugh.
Turning to the Doctor, Kathryn forced on her command mode "Doctor, how is our patient?"
"Yes, Well I can tell you the experience did not improve her disposition. However her nanoprobes are operational and her bio signals are at 100%. Aside from the gold and silver coloring to her implant, she has never been better. She should be able to return to duty in 48 hours. How did her implant change color anyway?"
"Doctor, it's a long story, you'll have to wait for my report."
"Humph, well it seems I'm always the last to know. Do not forget Seven, there will be no need for you to regenerate in your Borg alcove any longer. Furthermore, if your Borg hand gives you any more problems see me immediately. Your more human now than you've ever been."
"I have an edict memory Doctor, there is no need to remind me."
"As I said, her disposition remains the same" the Doctor quickly turned and walked away, leaving the two women alone.
Kathryn tilted her head to her side, raking Seven with her eyes. "My God, she is exquisite." The crooked grin still on her face. She pushed off the doorway and entered, closing the distance between her and Seven. She stood against the biobed her leg making contact with Sevens thigh.
"You gave us quite a scare. I am glad your back, we missed you." Kathryns voice low and husky.
"Thank you, I have missed you and Voyager as well" Her eyes seeking Kathryns and locking on.
"Do you remember anything?" Kathryn turning and leaning backwards into the biobed.
"I remember feeling cold and lost. It was like being severed from the collective" Seven noticed a dark shadow crossing Kathryns eyes, before turning blue again.
"I see, it could be you remembered being placed in stasis" Kathryn lowered her head and thought pensively. Her arms crossed in front of her. She felt the tight muscular thigh against her. The heat a welcoming feel against her own.
"You were in a coma and your nanoprobes became dormant. Your life signs were failing and you were dying. The Doctor recommended stasis and I agreed with him. I made the decision as your Captain. It was the right decision. I just hope it was not anything against your wishes. I do not think we have ever discussed this before. I'd like to know what your thoughts on it are."
"As a Borg when a drone became defective. They were severed from the collective death was irrelevant. However, I am no longer Borg and death is no longer acceptable. I have and will always have faith in your decisions. I thank you for not losing your faith and making the right decision. My recent experiences with these beings have allowed me to accept other possibilities. I no longer believe life ends when the human form seizes to function. I am now aware there is a transition. One merely ascends to a different level of consciousness."
Kathryn viewed Seven with awe and reverence. "I don't think I have ever heard it so eloquently said. I find this experience has proven there are things that exist outside of the realms of science. I would like to think the lessons I've learned, will heighten my awareness and make me a better person."
"Then we have both learned important lessons" Seven gazed lovingly into Kathryns eye's. Her breath catching at the sight. Both of them swept up in the swell of emotion. The spell was suddenly broken by the booming voice of a boisterous Klingon. Tom Paris following closely behind her.
"Seven" the Klingon running to Seven and lifting her off the biobed into her arms. She hugged her fiercely before letting her go. Sevens breath returned upon being released from the powerful hug.
"B'Elanna Torres, I would never think I would be happy to see you again" Seven smiling gratefully at her friend.
"Yeah, I have a way of growing on you, don't I. Hey look at you with the new implant. Did you have to pay extra replicator rations for that?" Pointing to Sevens cortical implant.
Seven touched her implant remembering the color changed. "I did not, but you must help me in finding ways to spend mine. I believe Tom Paris has promised me half of his winnings from the betting pool on the replicators I fixed."
Tom Paris let out a defeated sigh. "Jesus, Seven you heard that?" The Klingon elbowing Tom playfully in the ribs. "You should have known better, she has an edict memory. Its pay off time buddy and mama needs a new pair of shoes."
Janeway took the opportunity to excuse herself and leave. "I don't think I should be hearing about this. Seven, the Doctor has given you two days off. See that you take them, you have a lot of work waiting for you"' Janeway turned to exit.
"Kahless, Seven. You remember that? You were in a coma."
'I remember everything that was said, by all those who visited me". Her gaze was following the retreating form of Janeway. She noted the slight stiffing in her shoulders as she exited.
"Did we interrupt something?" B'Elanna leering at Seven with a wag of her brows.
Seven returned her attention to the Klingon. " I believe the correct phrase is. Your timing has a lot to be desired."
B'Elanna let out a loud snort, slapping Seven in the back. "God, Seven you're getting really good at those metaphors. I cannot wait for our next lesson. Have you ever played poker before?"
Tom looked at B'Elanna "Is there something you want to tell me?"
"What," B'Elanna making a poor attempt at looking innocent.
"You know what. Don't try to play stupid with me. I know you B'Elanna Torres"
"Honestly Tom, I don't know what your talking about" her quick reply a little to defensive.
"Oh yeah, well see about that. Seven of Nine as a superior officer I order you to comply."
"That is so low, don't you dare Tom Paris or so Help me Kahless, I'll wring your scrawny neck."
Tom merely shot B'Elanna a defiant boyish grin. Seven watched the exchange between them with amusement. Aware during her time in the coma the two resumed their previous relationship.
"Seven, I order you. Is something going on between you and Captain Janeway?"
Seven smiled before answering. "I will comply" B'Elanna letting out a disgruntled breath, crossing her arms in front of her and huffing.
"There is nothing going on between the Captain and I."
Tom was shocked, not expecting the answer. He knew Seven wouldn't lie. He turned his head to see the devious triumphant grin on B'Elannas face. "There are you satisfied?" her teeth showing off her full smile.
"I know you two are up to something. I can feel it in my bones" Tom not willing to surrender so easily.
'Yeah, well Seven won't lie. Anyway, I think this calls for a celebration. Lets all go to the Messhall and see what Neelix can offer."
B'Elannas two companions agreed and the three proceeded to their destination. Tom ahead of them as the two women walked arm in arm. B'Elanna leaned into Seven and whispered quietly. "Gee, Seven I believe that was your first lie."
"But I did not lie. There is nothing going on with the Captain and I, at least not at this moment" her lip curling up to a dignified smile.
B'Elanna stared at her friend in slight disbelief, a conspiratorial grin on her face "Seven, you never seize to amaze me. Kahless it's good to have you back, I missed you."
"And I have missed you B'Elanna. However, I do not believe I will miss your Klingon warrior stories. I found they are quite boring and unimaginative."
B'Elanna stared at her in disbelief and snarling playfully "You just lack imagination, then again I can't expect much from a dumb Borg drone. Besides if you weren't so lazy and have woken up. Maybe I didn't have to bore you."
Seven's face lit up with her smile, remembering warmly B'Elannas devotion during her illness. "I believe it was your stories that prevented me from regaining my consciousness. I found my mind became laden and numb."
B'Elanna let out a hearty laugh slapping Seven in the back. "Kahless I missed you. It's good to have you back" Sevens face beaming with her smile.
Tom, B'Elanna and Seven sat in the Messhall enjoying their meals and conversation, occasionally interrupted by well wisher's welcoming Seven back. Captain Janeway kept the ship wide comm link open, during the arrival of the divine entities. Everyone onboard was aware of Sevens special relationship with the deity.
Neelix, the cheerful Talaxian morale officer arranged a party in her honor for the following evening, a prospect that in the past would have bothered Seven. However, since her return there were subtle changes in her character. She found she was looking forward to the experience.
"So Seven, have you thought about what you're going to wear?" asked Tom, a forkful of apple pie halfway to his mouth.
"One of my biosuits of course" Seven flickered her eyes in obvious distaste of the sweet dessert.
"Kahless Seven, you can't wear the same old thing. You're the guest of honor you have to be dolled up. You know show some skin." B'Elanna explained playfully.
Seven dropped her fork, the utensil clinging loudly against her plate. "B'Elanna, what does a child's recreational device have to do with my attire?"
"Child's recreational device? B'Elanna turning the words in her mind. "Toy, do you mean Toy?"
"Yes, I believe that is the correct designation."
"What toy, what are you talking about?"
Seven let out a snort of impatience. "You mentioned I must get dolled up. I do not think I will find the attire appropriate for me. Naomi Wildman has such a toy and its attire is, well rather tattered."
"Kahless Seven, Honestly I don't know why I bother to talk to you. You're the most infuriating dense woman I have ever met. I don't mean for you to dress up like a doll. I mean for you to look like a doll" B'Elanna rolled her eyes noting Sevens dazed expression over the term. "You know, Knockout, gorgeous, beautiful, aesthetically pleasing!, I swear you're hopeless. Do you see what I have to deal with" Turning to Tom, who only nodded his head silently, not wanting to be caught up in the middle of their confrontation.
"I am not hopeless, it is your inefficient method of providing an appropriate description, for what you wish to say. Your insistence on using colorful metaphors is most inefficient."
Tom snickered loudly, passing a sidelong glance at B'Elanna. B'Elanna shot him a stern look and leaned into Seven. In a low growl, she whispered. "Oh yeah, Well, why don't you go F___ Your___. How's that for a colorful metaphor!"
Seven raised her eyebrow, the Borg implant flexing. "I am Borg, and though the thought has never occurred to me before. I assure you, I would be most proficient if I did. My new Borg implant is efficiently adaptable for such situations" Then with the smuggest expression on her face. She lifted her left enhanced Borg hand and proceeded to demonstrate.
Tom, who was in the process of drinking his coffee, showered the two women from head to toe with coffee. The women jumping immediately out of his line of fire. His face turned a beet red, as the liquid entered his windpipe.
"That is disgusting" an astonished Seven complained, a look of complete disgust on her face.
B'Elanna let out a loud whoop, surprised by Sevens response, her voice booming heartily. In the process, Tom failed to obtain his breath, his face turning reddish blue. He pointed to his back, indicating he required help. The two women ignored him as they continued their mirth.
B'Elanna finally looked at Tom, after what appeared to be an eternity to him. Still shaking from her laughter she turned to Seven. "Should we help him?" pointing to Tom, Tom's eyes wide with panic, the air failing to reach his lungs.
"I find it is quite remarkable, his face has turned the exact color of his eyes. Perhaps we should take a holoimage to mark the occasion" Sevens grinned merrily.
"Yeah we could do that, but then he could drop dead by then. Nah, he's not worth the paperwork, just think of all those reports we'll have to file" With that said she slapped the helmsman forcibly on his back. The impact, slamming his chest into the table.
His faced pressed against the table. He let out an audible gasp, as air quickly entered his lungs. He remained resting, allowing the precious oxygen to enter his burning lungs.
His two companions merely laughed in amusement. B'Elanna finding Sevens rich laughter adorable and recalling how the Borg never expressed laughter before. Sevens expressions caused B'Elanna to laugh harder. The spasms caused her to fold over and hold her stomach. Seven merely pointed to Tom, whose face was a Technicolor wonder. Her laughter rising richly and causing her eyes to tear.
Tom took several minutes to gather himself. His eyes teary, while his tongue hung out the side of his mouth. He suddenly regained his strength and straightened up.
His voice hoarse he whispered "You're both sadist, you know that" abruptly turning and storming out of the Messhall. His two dinner companions folded over in laughter and pointing at his retreating figure.
After several more outburst of unencumbered laughter, the two women gather themselves and continued their conversation from earlier. Wiping the tears from her eyes B'Elanna turned to Seven.
"Kahless, that felt good" Seven nodded her head in agreement, using a cloth napkin to wipe the corner of her own eyes.
"I find that laughter is a most gratifying emotion" B'Elanna merely smiling in response.
"So what do you have to wear?" B'Elanna returning to the question that started their outburst of mirth.
'I only have my biosuits and my velocity outfit. I never had a need for anything else."
"Yeah, well all those replicators rations Tom owes you should help."
"Yes I believe they will. Will you assist me in selecting something appropriate for the occasion?"
"I'd be honored. I can't wait to see the Captains face when she sees you" B'Elanna noted the shadow crossing Sevens face.
"You haven't changed your feeling towards the Captain, have you?"
"No, if anything they have only grown stronger. However I am feeling apprehensive towards the prospect."
"What happened to you anyway? I mean what was it like?"
Seven's expression became deep and pensive, hoping to use the proper words to describe her experience. "It was like being in a room that was made of glass. I could see my form lying on the biobed, but another part of me was outside of my physical form. It was that part of me that was outside of the glass room looking in. I was able to feel your touch and I could process your words. However when I tried to respond, I found the glass prevented me from doing so. I,.. It was most disconcerting, I tried many times but I was unable too. I reached out to you and called your name, but you were unable to hear me."
"Wow, Seven is there well you know, is there life after death?"
"I believe we move to another state of consciousness. One were our physical form is of no concern, not necessary to continue our existence. When I was placed in stasis, I found myself in a golden field. There was snow falling and the sun was able to keep me warm. I was able to hear the Captain calling me. Yet, I found I was unable to locate her. It was most disconcerting to me I became frightened and confused. It suddenly became very cold and the weather more inclement. In the end, I lay down on the ground and my body suddenly froze. It was not until Michael came for me that I was able to feel warm again."
"I know the Captain visited you after the Doc put you in stasis. I was having trouble sleeping and Well, I slipped down to visit you. I stopped and turned around when I saw her leaning over your stasis chamber. She was talking to you and well I felt weird like I was interrupting. So I left before she could see me."
"Perhaps it was then that I heard her calling to me."
"Maybe, what was it like? You know with the angels and stuff. The Captain left the comm link open. The whole crew knows what happened."
Seven nodded her head, a sudden awakening occurring, and the outpour of affection coming from the crew making sense to her now.
"I find it was a most pleasant experience, I believe it was peaceful. I recall suddenly waking from the cold and my body was warm again. Then I felt an electrical sensation flowing through my body. I felt when I was beaten and what I believe is crucified. I could feel my wrist and feet being impaled by nails. Then I felt a sharp pain in my chest, a weapon entering there. I felt the pain when it rose into my heart and pierced it. Suddenly, I no longer felt pain. Instead, I felt a warmth and peace flow through me. My heart began to beat furiously with love for those that hurt me. I was able only to feel compassion towards them. It was a most intriguing experience, I should have hated them, but I found I could not. I looked into the face of Omega and felt as one again. Then when I opened my eyes I saw the Captain and I knew I returned to Voyager."
B'Elanna was at a lost for words, the temporal changes in Sevens features conveyed more than her words. B'Elanna wandered if she could have been as forgiving as Seven could. It warmed her heart to know Seven survived unscathed, if anything she returned stronger and more human. B'Elanna was pleased that she found Seven as a friend. However, most importantly that she came to think of her as her family.
Continued on Part VI (Oh My, this is growing)
Continue to Part 6