And A Child Shall Lead them Part VIII


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The next morning Kathryn awoke to the comfort of warm supple flesh beneath her face. She opened her eyes and gazed at the porcelain profile of her fiancé. Sevens features were smooth and fine, her gold and silver implant shadowed delicately by the movement of the passing stars. Her chest rising and falling gently as a slow smile appeared on her lips. She rolled to her side lazily and gazed into the deep blue eyes staring back at her, the soft flecks of gray dancing against the soft glow of the room.

"It is impolite to stare at me while I am sleeping," her smile broad and lazy, "I have noticed you have always indulged in this deviant behavior."

"I wasn't staring, I was simply admiring your beauty." a mocking smirk crossing her delicate mouth.

Deep rich laughter erupted from Sevens throat "You are a poor liar." her arm, swooping Kathryn into her arms, moving her body closer to hers.

"I am not, I happen to be a very good liar." Kathryn nipping playfully at her nose.

Seven captured her mouth, her kiss lingering and sweet, Kathryn's face flushed as the desire began to rise. "Hmmm, Darling I can't be late today again. What will the crew say?"

Seven smiled ruefully against Kathryn's lips "They will say that I am most efficient at satisfying your insatiable appetite."

Kathryn kissed her deeply, her hand reaching under the covers and finding Sevens nipple and rolling it deftly between her slender fingers. Seven leaned into her hand, her body arching and pinning Kathryn with a muscular leg. She began moving her hands languidly along Kathryn's body. Reaching her buttocks and pulling her closer while deepening the kiss.

She gently rolled Kathryn on her back and knelt over her stealthy, raking her body hungrily.

"Oh no you don't, I will not be late for duty again.." Kathryn said, attempting to escape the determined young woman. Seven trapped her with the full weight of her body, as Kathryn's attempt to squirm from underneath her fueled Seven on. She captured Kathryn's nipple in her mouth, raking her teeth gently, jumping immediately on the other nipple and feasting on it hungrily, the erect nipple betraying Kathryn's resolve. "Damn traitors..." she breathed, the electrical sensations forcing her to groan. Seven smiled warmly as she continued her assault.

Kathryn surrendered without further fanfare as the warm sensations overwhelmed her senses. Seven moved slowly placing a trail of soft warm kisses as she proceeded downward. Taking an excruciatingly long time arriving to her destination, Kathryn's body demanded more. She reached the top of her mound and nipped and suckled lightly, Kathryn's hips undulating, as she licked her parched lips, a deep groan escaped her mouth, as the warm tongue made contact with her sensitive nodule.

She raised her hip upward, pushing Seven deeper into her, her teeth raking gently and causing Kathryn to shudder. She latched onto her swollen nodule forcibly, suckling deeply and happily, drinking the sweet essence of Kathryn. She inserted her finger, finding her inner slick region, her teeth raking over the sensitive bundle of nerves. Kathryn moaned incoherently when she inserted the second digit, and began a slow rhythmic motion. As her gifted mouth continued its fast and gentle assault. Kathryn was caught between the rough sensations of Sevens mouth and the painfully long strokes of her hand.

The contrasting sensations driving her to pure madness, as the first wave consumed her and racked her body. She moaned loudly, her face tossing from side to side, her body trembling. As Kathryn began climbing down, Seven intensified her assault the second wave catching Kathryn off guard.

The wave of pleasure returned with a vengeance, bringing Kathryn to incredible heights. The assault, was more than she could handle and in an effort to prevent herself from slipping into unconsciousness. She abruptly pulled away, leaving Seven completely startled, a blank expression on her face, replaced by an obvious look of disappointment, as she suddenly found her meal taken away.

Kathryn regained her senses and seeing the young woman's face, let out a throaty laugh, as she pulled Seven onto her. Her mouth locking onto Sevens and providing her with a very thorough kiss, the taste of her own essence lingering on Sevens mouth. "I'm sorry darling, I didn't mean to do that. It's just the sensations were a little too much for me." Kathryn placing gentle kisses along the side of her face.

"Indeed." a very smug sneer prominent on her face.

Kathryn smirked and added dryly "Well you don't have to be so damn smug about it!"

"I wasn't aware you could be such a coward Kathryn. I will make it a point to be more lenient on you when next we make love." the young Borg smiling teasingly.

"You realize of course if it wasn't for the fact that I'm already late for duty. I would take a distinct pleasure in wiping that smug look off your face. There wouldn't be enough soundproofing in the universe, to muffle your screams under my direct tutelage."

Kathryn locked onto Sevens mouth and kissed her deeply, the young Borg felt faint and woozy. Kathryn pulled away and noted the far away expression on her lovers face, she smiled and whispered threateningly' "However, I will have the opportunity of proving that to you later this evening..." Kathryn eyed her menacingly. Seven blinked and swallowed deeply, while Kathryn smiled triumphantly, her threat having an obvious affect on her lover.

"I am afraid I will not be able to join you." Seven taking several more swallows, realizing Kathryn had every intention of seeing through her threat. "I have already promised B'Elanna I would meet with her this evening." her face relaxing at her viable excuse.

Kathryn smiled ruefully, with no intention of letting Seven escape so easily. "Now who's being the coward? However I suspect you will eventually be returning to our quarters, I'll deal with you then." Kathryn locked roughly onto Sevens mouth again, not releasing her until she felt her collapse underneath her. With a satisfied smirk plastered on her face, she stood and entered the ensuite, leaving Seven behind lying on their bed and gasping for air.

Seven was still attempting to recuperate while her mind processed Kathryn's words carefully, "Our quarters". A warm sense of belonging enveloped her. She remained that way, until Kathryn exited the ensuite, already dressed and roughly towel drying her hair.

She looked at Seven in amusement, seeing the soft lines on her delicate fine features. "A penny for your thoughts?" Kathryn's voice was soft.

Seven was startled from her reverie, a slight blush touching her cheeks "Kathryn?" Seven at a loss as to what Kathryn meant.

She chuckled lightly, aware Seven was unsure of her question. "What were you thinking?" Her eyes tracing over the long slender figure proudly displayed on her bed.

Seven turned a bright crimson red, Kathryn adoring her more for it "I......I was thinking of what you said"

"Really?" Kathryn, taking a sudden interest in the wrong direction.

Seven blushed profusely now, the look on her lovers face well known to her by now. "You are impossible Kathryn, is that all you ever think of? I believe B'Elanna is correct in stating I have created a monster." Kathryn took a sudden interest in Sevens statement, crossing to the edge of the bed and sitting down, her hand sweeping over Sevens form by its own fruition.

"Have you spoken to B'Elanna of our private affairs?" A slight concern reaching her blue/gray eyes.

Seven noted the sudden change in Kathryn's appearance, concerned, she continued tentatively "We were discussing the differences of how men and women embark on their sexual encounters. Did you know that human female's fake achieving orgasm when being sexually intimate with a male? I am curious has this ever happened to you? B'Elanna felt I was not being truthful when I told her you assisted me in achieving climax nineteen times during our first encounter"

Kathryn opened and shut her mouth several times, in a quandary as to which question to lie too first. Though secretly she was quite proud of her self "Nineteen times? Well I did lose count somewhere along the line. Still nineteen times? God Kate, you're good, real good. It's a wonder Seven survived" Realizing this was rapidly heading into a direction she had no desire to venture into, she immediately decided to take control.

"Honestly Seven, you choose the most inopportune times for philosophical discussions. Now get out of bed and get ready you're already late as is." Kathryn expelling a long sigh of relief. A fact that did not go unnoticed by the observant young woman, who quickly decided to file it away as something to readdress in the future.

"As you wish," she added dryly, her tone making Kathryn aware she wasn't being fooled. As she rose from the bed, Kathryn caught her by the hand and kissed her softly, an attempt at distracting Seven from her thoughts. "Now tell me darling, what were you thinking of earlier?"

Sevens eyes softened and she kissed her gingerly on the mouth, releasing herself from Kathryn's hold she headed in the direction of the ensuite. Tossing her head behind she whispered breathlessly, " I was simply processing the wonderful feelings you emoted in me, when you stated 'our quarters' and not yours." her eyes letting Kathryn know she just lost the battle.

Kathryn's rich laughter rose effortlessly from her chest, filling the room completely, shaking her head in defeat, she rose and headed to the outer suite of their quarters. "You are an impossibly brazen hussy, do you know that?" Kathryn quickly exiting, leaving a trail of laughter in her wake.

She entered the bridge in a rush, attempting to disguise her second day of reporting late. She wanted desperately to avoid any lingering conversations with Chakotay. Knowing he would never let her live this one down, she crossed the bridge and sat in her chair. Graciously accepting the offered cup of coffee from Nicoletti.

"Thank you Ensign, you're a godsend." her eyes smiling warmly at the Ensign. Nicoletti was momentarily confused, still she smiled warmly in return, enjoying her Captains new demeanor. Secretly thinking, "God, Seven has worked wonders with our dear old Captain." She crossed the threshold of the bridge and returned to her station. Taking the opportunity to look at the Captain more than once. Noticing the softness of her fine features and the vibrancy of her eyes.

Kathryn continued downloading the bridge reports from the Beta shift, quickly absorbing the information. Their status peaceful and unobtrusive, the current expanse of space they were traveling through unremarkable and bland. Looking side long, she glanced at Chakotay speculatively, surprised he remained quite thus far.

"Commander." her tone edging him on, an attempt to get it quickly over with.

"Captain." his voice stiff and constrictive.

Kathryn immediately turned the concern sweeping her features. For a moment she was taken aback, Chakotay's face ashy and gray, a definite strain evident in his eyes. "Commander are you feeling well?"

Chakotay straightened his posture, a poor attempt at disguising his discomfort. "I'm fine Captain, I had a rough night, that's all" his answer short and missing its usual warmth.

"Well I disagree Commander, you're looking rather ill today. Report to sickbay immediately. That's an order" Kathryn well aware of Chakotay's aversion to doctors. She stood promptly not allowing him the opportunity to rebuff and headed in the direction of her ready room.

"Tuvok, you have the conn." the order a reminder to Chakotay there would be no room for argument. The door to her ready room hissed softly behind her. She entered and immediately sat at her terminal, her fingers flying effortlessly over her terminal. With a deep resignation she downloaded the daily communiqués from Starfleet.

Making a mental note to refrain from being late for the Alpha shift anymore. Her two infractions with Seven caused an inconvenience to the rest of her crew. B'Elanna was forced to cover for Seven in Astrometrics and Chakotay was obviously ill. As she began the process of accessing the first Starfleet file, she noticed its security seal was breached.

She felt a rising anger at the implications, a personal pet peeve of hers surfacing. Since an early childhood Kathryn despised having any of her personal files read without her permission. She recalled vividly the furious battles in the Janeway household between her and her sister Phoebe. Who showed positively no scruples at all when it came to reading Kathryn's' personal diary. Her sister constantly invading the sanctity of her privacy and forcing Kathryn to throttle her on more than one occasion.

She quickly scanned the file and noticed it came with a high security code attached. Her mind quickly working through the list of members on Voyager who had access to her codes. Seven immediately came to mind, but the time stamp on the file cleared her automatically. The Borg having an iron clad alibi, she happened to be pleasing her Captain at the time.

The list was rather short, the only other members were Tuvok, as Chief of Security he would have that privilege, Chakotay and B'Elanna her Chief Engineer who was capable of manipulating the file during its download. Biting down on her anger she quickly tapped her comm badge.

"Janeway to Lt. Torres," her anger resurfacing lightly.

"Torres here Captain." the Klingon responded, slightly out of breath.

"Lt. I need you in my ready room in ten minutes is that clear" a statement and not a question.

"Aye Captain on my way" B'Elanna turned to Seven questionably who was in the Jeffries tube with her. The two women were replacing a defective conduit panel.

"What was that all about?" B'Elanna handing the laser probe to Seven.

'I do not know, however I did notice a tone of anger in her voice." the young Borg feeling concern for her friend.

"Yeah well I don't know what it's all about, but I swear I haven't done anything." The Klingon added defensively.

"I recommend that you quickly make haste. You now have 6 minutes and 24 seconds to report"

B'Elanna swallowed deeply and quickly scampered down the tube, ignoring the stares of startled crewmembers as she plowed over them in her sprint to the ready room. She arrived one minute and 54 seconds late, screeching to a halt in front of the door, her body impacting against it. She slapped the chime to the Captains ready room, attempting to collect her breath, as she wiped her brow, a streak of grime appeared from her soiled sleeve.

"Enter." the voice crisply snapped

B'Elanna entered and was immediately struck by the temporal gray eyes baring down on her. She swallowed deeply and mentally reviewed her recent course of actions, some which might be the root of her recent state of woes. There was little doubt in her mind that Janeway was pissed. Her eyes a stark gray as, her fingers strummed the desk in front of her loudly, Janeway looked at the chronometer by her station. B'Elanna took an involuntary breath inward, pondering how Janeway could have learned of her impending Blackjack game so easily.

"Your late Lt." Janeway not appreciating the Klingons indiscretion.

"I'm sorry Captain, I was in jeffries tu_" Janeway's hand cut her off, the Klingon sweating profusely and suddenly aware her situation was worst then she originally thought.

Sliding the datapad across the table, she silently indicated for B'Elanna to pick it up. Allowing the Klingon a moment to peruse the data, her eyes scrutinizing B'Elanna's features, waiting for an indication of guilt. "I'd like to know why the security code on that communiqué was broken." her voice becoming dangerously low.

B'Elanna looked up from the pad, her startled expression an indication she was not the offending party. "Honest Captain, I had nothing to do with this. All of the files I downloaded this morning were not compromised," her two hearts beating as one again as she realized, for once she was totally innocent.

Janeway noted the subtle changes in B'Elanna's demeanor and determined the Klingon was telling the truth. "Fine." Tapping the comm link she ordered Tuvok into her ready room, gesturing to B'Elanna to sit down. B'Elanna immediately obeyed, as her curiosity began to get the better of her.

She was able to recognize the file Janeway was questioning as being one of a large data download from Starfleet she addressed this morning. Silently cursing Seven for having been late again for her shift. "That damn Borg, if it wasn't for her I wouldn't be in this mess" The Klingon crossed her hands in front of her chest and realized it was far from over.

Though she was exonerated, there was no doubt in her mind, she would be dragged into it one way or another. The chime to her ready room rang. "Enter!" she barked, her tone laced with frustration and anger. Her usual suspect exonerated from the indiscretion. Silently Janeway was hoping Tuvok was not involved in this matter at all. It was rare when she had to put Tuvok in his place and though she was capable of doing it, it was something she never quite relished.

Tuvok entered and espying B'Elanna sitting in the chair he breathed outwardly, wondering what kind of trouble the volatile Klingon got herself into now. It was quite evident the Captain was not happy. "Captain, you wanted to see me?" his voice not betraying his frustration at having to handle a possible B'Elanna indiscretion.

"Yes Lt. Commander, I did." Tuvok stiffened slightly, the use of his title an indication of Janeway's ire, his logical mind detecting the situation with B'Elanna was worst than what he thought.

Janeway handed him the same datapad she offered B'Elanna and again awaited a response. "I do not understand Captain, this is a high level communiqué addressed specifically to you from Starfleet"

"That it is and you will notice the file has been accessed, however it was not by me"

Tuvok immediately turned to B'Elanna his eyebrow rising, an indication he was not at all pleased with B'Elanna.

B'Elanna noticed his scrutiny and immediately spat out, "Sorry to disappoint you Tuvok, but I had nothing to do with it." her brow creasing further into a frown. Offended that she was the obvious choice when something went wrong.

Janeway attested to B'Elanna's innocence, "I concur"

"I see, I stand corrected Captain, I assumed Lt. Torres was responsible for this matter"

"Yeah, well sorry I ruined your day, Tuvok." the Klingon re-crossing her arms in front of her chest angrily.

"That's enough Lt." Janeway added tersely, not at all pleased with the unfolding events. "Well that only leaves one other person with the authorization codes to do this. I thank you both for your time. You're both dismissed." Janeway was left wallowing in her anger a while longer.

B'Elanna rose from her chair and in a huff exited the ready room, still seething from Tuvok's insinuations. "Tuvok sure has a knack for crawling under my skin, that logical and unemotional pompous Vulcan. I swear, he can be as bad as Seven was in the beginning and speaking of the Borg" she whispered under her breath, "Have I got a bone to pick with her." B'Elanna determined to set Seven straight about her recent lack of ethics relating to her job. 'Leave it to her to suddenly start showing up late for work, this is all her fault' . She entered the turbo lift and ascended to engineering, her mind still reeling with anger.

Janeway contacted sickbay, determined to speak with Chakotay, the process of elimination leaving him as the only person left. "Janeway to sickbay" she was growing weary of the chase, realizing it was her own anger that prevented her from thinking rationally in the first place. It would have been easier for her to derive her answer had she called them all in her office at once.

"The Doctor here, Captain, go ahead"

"Doctor, I need to speak with Commander Chakotay, when will you be releasing him?"

"I already have Captain, but not back to duty. I've ordered him back to his quarters"

"Is there something I should know?" Janeway momentarily alarmed.

"No, not really, It's nothing that a good nights rest won't cure. He'll be able to return for tomorrows Alpha shift"

"Understood Doctor, Janeway out." Janeway holding her hand on her hip, her face reflecting mixed emotions.

B'Elanna returned to engineering determined to Speak with Seven, her anger still present. She was ready to climb into the tube, when she was sent crashing to the floor by Seven of Nine. Who was simultaneously exiting the tube in a most unladylike fashion, her body landing full force on top of B'Elanna's, B'Elanna expelled a harsh breath from the impact.

"Humph, damn Seven, what the hell do you think you're doing? And get off me you damn Borg!" B'Elanna responding in a pained grunt, her anger momentarily forgotten.

Seven stared at her in wide-eyed fear, her breath coming in short rasps. B'Elanna was ready to pounce on her when she noticed the fear in her face, the right sleeve of her biosuit torn to shreds. Her right arm punctured and bleeding profusely.

"What the hell happened to you?" B'Elanna immediately removed Seven from her and examined her arm. The wounds penetrated deeply, she was able to see clear to the bone. Sevens blood gushing freely from the wounds, her face pale and ashy, she suddenly felt faint and collapsed, B'Elanna catching her easily.

"Torres to sickbay, I'm bringing Seven in, you better get a hold of the Captain." The Klingon made a site to site transport, materializing in sickbay with Seven in her arms. The doctor rushed over immediately and assisted B'Elanna in placing Seven on the biobed.

"What happened?" he spat out accusingly.

"I don't know, she came rushing out of the jeffries tube that way".

"Well, it appears she's been attacked by an animal, judging from the bite wounds I'd say it was a canine. You better inform security, we don't want a wild dog running around and attacking crewmembers"

"Yeah sure Doc, but will she be okay?" B'Elanna concerned over the amount of blood all over the biobed.

"Well if you move out of my way I'll be able to assist her more properly." he pushed the upset Klingon from his path.

B'Elanna glared at the doctor not appreciating his manner, with a huff she slapped her comm "Torres to security, report to jeffries tube 37, Seven was attacked by a wild dog, it's in the tubes. Doctor did you contact the Captain?"

"Of course I did, she's on her way" the doctor continuing to run scans over Seven.

The Doctor examined the wounds with concern, immediately retrieving a vascular regenerator and repairing the damaged nerve and muscle tissue. Satisfied with his work he passed a dermal regenerator and sealed the wounds. An arrogant smile pursing his lips.

"Why is there so much blood?" B'Elanna silently wandering if there was any left in Sevens body.

"Because she suffered multiple bite wounds. When a dog attacks and bites their victims, they shake them violently back and forth. It's their method of incapacitating their prey, unfortunately it causes severe damage to the nerves and tissues. Still it is strange, how did a dog come onboard Voyager without being detected? The last planet we encounter was Va'laria and that was more than nine months ago. I doubt an animal could have survived or gone undetected all this time, it is curious though. Well I imagine security will have to handle that matter"


Kathryn was headed towards Chakotay's quarters when she was summoned by sickbay. The doctor informing her Seven was injured and being transported to sickbay by B'Elanna. Kathryn's stomach was tied in knots as the turbolift took far too long to reach deck 13. She exited the turbolift and rapidly walked down the long corridor, taking the time to quell her pounding heart, the blood rushing to her ears.

The doctor was unable to inform her of how Sevens was injured, but it occurred to Kathryn that if B'Elanna was transporting Seven to sickbay, then it meant that she was unable to arrive there by her own means. Her mind spun wildly, the thought of losing Seven distressing her to no avail. The encounter with Lucifer was still fresh in her mind, as she vividly recalled the lifeless form of Seven on the bridge.

The doors hissed open and Kathryn slammed her command mode on, her fears barely detectable.

"Lt., Doctor, Report." her eyes glued to the prone figure on the biobed, Sevens blood spread liberally throughout sickbay. She forced her face to remain stern and in command, as she felt her heart slip slowly to her feet.

"Seven was attacked by a dog in the jeffries tube." B'Elanna blurted out unintentionally, inwardly groaning, as she noticed the flash of fear crossing Kathryn's eyes.

The doctor eyed B'Elanna tersely, exasperated with the Klingons callous outburst. "Yes..well.. as the good Lt. has pointed out," his eyes daring B'Elanna to interject. B'Elanna immediately focused her vision on the deck floor, silently cursing herself for being so insensitive.

"It appears Seven may have been attacked by a canine while replacing a conduit panel in jeffries tube 37"

"A dog? How is that even possible? Voyagers internal scans would have picked up it immediately"

"Well I assure you it was most definitely a dog, judging from the puncture wounds I'd say he weighs at least 60 pounds, give or take a few. Nonetheless she'll recover fine, she's lost quite a bit of blood, but a little rest will remedy that"

"Is that why she passed out?" B'Elanna inquired in a soft unlike Klingon voice

"No, I'd say it was a combination of both fear and the loss of blood. Her heart rate and respiration was extremely high, as well as her pupils being completely dilated. No, I'd say it was mostly fear. If you'd like, I can revive her now"

"If you wouldn't mind Doctor" Janeway moving closer to the biobed, her own heart rate dropping significantly. Her eyes scanning over every part of her fiancés body, assuring herself that Seven was fine. Mentally anguishing over what kind of animal could have caused such a tremendous amount of fear in Seven. The young woman was one of the most courageous, fearless persons, Kathryn had ever met. Never thinking twice about placing herself in peril for the sake of another crewmember, or thinking of the dire consequences it could have on her own life.

The doctor placed the hypospray to Sevens neck, the soft hiss releasing and bringing her back to consciousness.

Seven eyes blinked several times, momentarily unsure of her surroundings, she abruptly rose, her eyes wide with fear. She found her shoulders being firmly pushed down again, the warmth of the touch familiar and comforting. She followed the length of the arm securing her firmly and the fear began to subside as she gazed into the concerned face of her fiancé.

"Kath....I mean Captain," Noticing the looming figures of the Doctor and B'Elanna behind her. Her friend nervously shifting from one foot to the other.

"It's alright Seven, you're safe now. Can you tell us what happened to you?" Janeway's voice filled with warmth and compassion.

Seven swallowed deeply, the rising fear choking her "I am at a loss as to how to explain"

A flash of worry crossed Janeway's eyes, the fact that Seven was genuinely frightened was bad enough. Her obvious distress in providing an explanation was worst yet. "Why don't you start at the beginning"

Seven swallowed deeply and shook her head "At 05:30 hours I awoke to find you staring at me and we began to make lo...."

"Not that far back Seven." the Captain flushing slightly. B'Elanna snickered quietly in the background and Janeway turned and stared at her forcefully, the Klingon freezing in place. The Doctor feigned a lack of interest, his eyes glimmering with amusement. Janeway sighed inwardly. 'Honestly, Seven can be too literal at times'

"What I meant is starting with the jeffries tube"

Seven suddenly realized her fear caused her to make a faux pas, "I am sorry Captain." her voice flat. " After being summoned by you, Lt. Torres departed." Seven sneaking a look to her friend, recalling Kathryn's earlier anger against the Klingon.

"I continued the installation of the replacement conduit panel, I was alone. As I was completing the installation, I was able to detect the sound of what appeared to be a wounded animal. As I crawled further into conduit number 543, I was attacked by a member of the canine species. He tore into my right arm and was attempting to drag me further into the conduit. I attempted to defend myself, when I.." Seven stopped briefly, "When I attempted to grab the animal I failed, it did not have a physical form." Sevens cortical implant rising, the golden silver hue flashing against the soft lights.

Kathryn shook her head, trying to comprehend the full meaning of Sevens story. "Could it have been an alien life form?"

"No, it was an animal, I can assure you of that. What I am saying is that it did not have a solid form."

Kathryn turned to look at B'Elanna, the Klingons face frowned and she was visibly perplexed. "B'Elanna did you manage to see anything?"

B'Elanna failed to answer right away, a sudden chill drifting down her spine. "No Captain, when I returned Seven was already exiting the jeffries tube. In fact she landed on top of me"

"And there was nothing following her?"

"No captain, there wasn't." the Klingon looking at her friend speculatively.

Slapping her comm badge, "Janeway to security, report."

"Tuvok here Captain, we have been unable to locate any life forms in the jeffries tube. I have a team sweeping the area now and they have reported no signs. Voyager's internal scanners have indicated there are no animal life signs onboard Voyager"

"Tuvok modify the scanners to search for any energy signatures emitting from the tubes"

'Understood Captain"

"Janeway out"

She turned to the Doctor. "When will Seven be able to return to duty?"

"A few hours rest and she should be fine. However she should eat something to replenish her lost blood supply. If you like Seven, I can recommend the appropriate nutrients"

"That will be acceptable, Thank you." Seven responded warmly, her eyes staring at Kathryn intensely. B'Elanna and the Doctor turned and exited together allowing the two women a moment alone.

Kathryn waited until they were alone. "Now, how are you really? You gave me quite a scare you know." the shadow of concern returning to Kathryn's classic features. Her hand placed comfortably on Sevens forearm.

"I am better now, still I can not understand why I became so frightened. I have become weak" Sevens frowning lightly, her face looking incredibly adorable to Kathryn.

Kathryn chuckled lightly her mood improving as Seven regained more of herself. She gently brushed the back of her fingers across Sevens cheek. "I wouldn't call it weak. As a matter of fact, I believe I would have been hard pressed not to be frightened myself, If I were in your situation"

"You are attempting to make me feel better." she accused.

"Yes, yes I am, I consider that my duty as your fiancée. I wouldn't have it any other way." her hand rubbing Seven's forearm affectionately.

Seven's mood lightened, the reminder of their new engagement warming her, the fear subsiding slowly. "It is a comfort to me in knowing that." they remained staring at each other for a few moments longer.

Janeway pulled herself away. "Come on you, I am sure B'Elanna won't mind going to the Mess hall with you. I have to return to the bridge"

"I understand. Kathryn?"

"Yes, my love?"

"Thank you." Kathryn smirked, her smile lighting her features, the softness to them returning.

Janeway exited sickbay feeling more secure now that she knew Seven was fine. She focused to the problem on hand the tracking of an elusive threat that may or may not be an animal. She entered the turbolift 'Deck 3" the computer recognizing her voice and obediently following her orders.

She exited the turbolift, her face focused and determined, the thought of an unidentified life form onboard concerned her. The safety of her crew was paramount and taking precedence over her personal concerns.

"Report!" she barked her eyes a stark gray.

Tuvok lifted his gaze from his panel "Sensors have been unable to detect any lifeforms other than those accounted for. I have modified the ship's sensors for variant energy readings. I have also included that of the Omega strain, sensors are indicating no energy signatures"

"Tell me Tuvok, how can a dog suddenly appear on Voyager without being detected? Attack a crewmember and then suddenly disappear?" Her face grew pensive, the problem running through her analytical mind.

"I am not sure if I can answer that question Captain. Is it possible the animal was a manifestation of Sevens mind"

"I assure you Tuvok, the wounds that Seven received are not part of a manifestation. Something definitely attacked her"

"Harry I want you to run some scans, let's make sure that nothing beamed on board in the last 72 hours"

"Aye, Captain" the young Ensign tapping the command sequences into his panel.

"Tuvok, I want security to perform a deck by deck sweep. It's possible the animal is on the move. I'll be in my ready room and I expect a report in two hours. You have the conn, Tuvok"

"Aye Captain, understood"

She entered her ready room and sat in her chair accessing the panel in front of her. She began searching Voyagers database in an attempt to determine if another Starfleet vessel had a similar encounter. There was something about the whole situation that simply didn't make any sense. Her scientific mind went into overdrive as she momentarily forgot about Sevens injuries and began her research.


Chakotay returned to his quarters after being released from sickbay. His head aching, the buzzing tone returning in his ears. The doctor examined him and, found nothing wrong and instead ordered Chakotay to rest. He lay down in his bed and fell into a deep sleep. The darkness enfolding him and driving him further into its depths.

The first figure appeared it was not a full form but a transparency, it swirled and whispered to the others. Their transparent forms joining the first. The voices whispered and shouted above him, a name older than time, each voice distorted and in different tones and levels. They continued swirling above his sleeping form of Chakotay, until one by one they struck him. The brilliant force of light absorbed into his body, until the many became one.


Janeway was sitting in her ready room, rising from her terminal she walked to the replicator, tapping the keys softly, a black cup of coffee appearing. She raised the cup to mouth and swallowed deeply, the familiar brew warming her. She walked over to the upper sanction and settled comfortably in the sofa.

Her mind digesting the files she downloaded earlier, Voyagers database unable to uncover a similar incident. She was taking her second taste of coffee when she was summoned to the bridge. Tuvok's voice coming over the comm link.

"Captain Janeway to the bridge" the summons startled her, the coffee spilling on her tunic, she cursed silently and rose. Grabbing a linen napkin and wiping the front of her tunic she headed towards the bridge. The door hissing closed behind her, she stepped up to Tuvok's duty station, still wiping the remnants of the spilled drink.

"You found something?" her hands smoothing the front of her tunic.

Tuvok's hands were keying his terminal, stepping to the side as Janeway moved next to him. "I believe I may have found what has caused the incident in the jeffries tube" Janeway looked at the display in front of her, her face flexing as she read it.

"How is this even possible? A holoprogram?"

"I assure you Captain, the data is correct, our scans indicate it was a holoprogram"

"How was it able to materialize outside of the holodeck? The only program capable of doing that is the doctors and even he can't do that without his emitter"

"That is correct, however its matrix is consistent with one which was programmed by Commander Chakotay"

"How long ago and when was it last accessed?"

"It was designed five and a half years ago as a recreational program. The holoprogram indicates various other wild species as well. I believe the Commander was attempting to recreate a forest. The computer indicates it was last accessed by the Commander four months ago. The program has not been accessed since then"

Kathryn frowned, not caring for the implications at all. "I want you to delete the program from Voyagers database. I'll inform the Commander myself. Tuvok, run a system wide diagnostic of Voyagers computer system. Take the Holodecks offline and place them off limits for the time being, on my orders. Contact Seven and B'Elanna and use Harry if you have too, but I want to know how this happened. The least thing we need are holoprograms running loose on Voyager with their safety protocols off. I'll be in Commander Chakotay's quarters if you find anything."

"Aye, Captain." Janeway exited the bridge and headed to the turbolift entering and exiting on deck three. Her mind in overdrive, the challenge of a problem fueling her on. She approached the door to Chakotay's quarters and activated the chime, her request going unanswered, waiting a few moments longer, she activated the chime again.

'Enter." the voice low and strained

Kathryn stepped into his quarters, the soft music of distant native drums playing. Chakotay was dressed in civilian clothes, a long earthen colored tunic, with intricate designs in olive and soft blues.

"Captain, You wanted to see me?" his eyes dark and more relaxed.

Yet there was something different and Janeway took the time to study his face carefully. There was a deep intensity in his eyes a flash of anger crossing them. The flash not going unnoticed by Janeway, she squared her shoulder and stood straight. Her command mode put firmly into place, the edginess not retreating, Janeway suddenly felt uncomfortable in his presence.

"Chakotay, I wanted to make sure you were feeling better"

"I'm fine Captain, there's no need to worry, I guess I haven't been getting enough sleep lately." the steeliness in his voice attempting to deceive, the buzzing returning in his ear.

Kathryn eyed him suspiciously and noted a touch of untruthfulness in his word. Unable to pinpoint the cause "I see, nonetheless I wanted to make sure myself" her eyes searching his and looking for a clue.

"Captain?" Chakotay, continuing his deception his lip curling slightly as he paid notice to Kathryn's stare.

"I received a communiqué from Starfleet this morning, I found the security seal broken. I was wondering if you know anything about that?" Her eyes watched him intensely.

Chakotay flinched slightly, barely detectable, Kathryn's astute senses picking up on it. "I was accessing some files this morning. I wasn't feeling very well, it's quite possible I may have downloaded it to my workstation in error"

Kathryn breathed in deeply her concern rising as she quickly processed Chakotay's obvious deception. "Very well, I'll allow that this time, however please ensure it doesn't happen again. There is something else, Seven was attacked by a wild dog earlier today while working in a jeffries tube. We determined it came from one of your holoprograms, Chakotay 2345-7, I'm sorry but we had to delete it from the database." Kathryn watched as the anger returned and flashed quickly through his eyes. His frown scowled deeply, she noticed he tried to quell the rising anger before responding.

"I see, I haven't accessed that program in four months. Do you know how that was possible?" his eyes gleaming.

Kathryn noticed he failed to inquire about Seven, something Chakotay would normally have asked first. "No, I can't say that we do, however we're still working on it"

"Well, if that will be all Captain, I think I'm going to lie back down again" Kathryn dipped her head and turned, the hairs on the back of her neck standing.

"Yes of course, well make sure to get some rest. Good night Chakotay"

"Good night Captain" his eyes glowing with anger as he watched her retreating figure exit.

B'Elanna and Seven were in holodeck two, the panel removed from the wall, B'Elanna running scans and cursing under her breath. The sudden order to run thorough diagnostic on the holodeck programs forcing her to cancel her impending Blackjack game.

Sevens fingers were flying effortlessly across the panel, accessing the program codes and running Borg algorithms to test the integrity of the coding sequences for the Holodeck. The last eighteen hours spent in intense troubleshooting and code reviews all proving futile. Harry Kim stood over the second panel and ran a counter set of diagnostic programs against Seven and B'Elanna's sequences. Each test proved negative, the answer as to why the holoprogram was able to leave its program parameters eluding them.

B'Elanna cut her finger against the panel, the blood flowing freely. "Damn!" the Klingon losing the last of her patience. Seven moved to B'Elanna with the dermal regenerator in her hand. She aptly healed the offending wound. Eyeing the Klingon with distaste. "You must try to be more careful, this is the fifth time you have injured yourself"

B'Elanna shot Seven an evil glare, the fact that it was her blood flowing freely, was evidence enough of her clumsiness. "This is crazy, we've run every test imaginable four times and we still can't find anything out of place. This is a waste of time" the Klingon grumbled.

"Perhaps you only feel that way because you are running out of fingers to cut" The young Borg chucked lightly, Harry snickered and kept his eyes on his panel.

"'What and that's suppose to be funny, you stuck up Borg?"

"I was not attempting to be humorous Klingon, I was simply stating a fact" Seven smiling deeper.

"Yeah, well who asked you anyway? How is it that we had to wind up with the only Borg filled with useless facts" B'Elanna snorted, laughing at her own joke.

Seven stepped away from her terminal and walked over to B'Elanna standing an inch away from her. "You are quite cute when you are angry" a mischief gleam lighting her eyes.

"So help me Kahless Borg, if you try to kiss me again, I'm going to ram this laser probe down your throat" Harry's head shot up from his terminal, gaining a new interest in their playful banter.

"Actually, I was wondering how adorable you would look as my maid of honor." Sevens smile wide and beaming.

B'Elanna's jaw dropped, her hand lowering the laser probe she threatened Seven with. "What did you say?" Harry stared wildly, his mouth wide open.

"I am asking you to be my maid of honor." Seven amused by B'Elanna's evident shock.

"You mean to tell me the Captain proposed to you?, When...How... I mean why didn't you tell me sooner?" the Klingons eye wide in astonishment.

"I was going to tell you sooner, however you were summoned by the Captain. And I did not have the opportunity to do so"

"Yeah well that was over eighteen hours ago. So come on Borg spill it, when did the captain propose to you? How did she do it? Did she get on one knee or what? When's the wedding. What are you planning on wearing, heh, heh, I guess it won't be white" B'Elanna's questions coming out in a rush.

Seven stared at her in wide-eyed wonder, B'Elanna never taking the moment to breathe. She twisted her lips in exasperation, for a moment wondering if she made a wise decision after all. "Which question would you like for me to answer first?" her voice inflecting her impatience.

"All of them start from the beginning. On second thought strike that, start from how the Captain asked you to marry her" The Klingon wanting to cut to the heart of the matter.

"We were in her quarters and she was dressed in a black...." B'Elanna rolled her eyes and quickly interjected. "Yeah, Yeah never mind that get to the point Borg"

"If you do not wish for me to tell you exactly how it occurred then why do you ask?"

B'Elanna let out a long breath of exasperation "So help me Kahless, if you don't stop being so literal all the time I'm going to hang you from the bridge. Just stick to the facts Borg"

"I see.." Seven added tersely, "Very well if you insist."

"Yes I do, now if you don't hurry up and tell us I'm going to wring your scrawny little neck" B'Elanna's jaw clenching, her patience reaching its limits.

"Yeah Seven, how did the captain propose?" Harry's interest in the conversation peaking.

Seven pursed her lips again realizing the odds were now against her. "Well if you will stop interrupting me Klingon I will be able to tell you" B'Elanna shot her an evil glare

"She proposed to me on the sofa and before you ask, yes she did get on one knee. She also gave me an engagement ring, it belonged to her grandmother on her fathers side. It is a blue diamond sapphire the same colors as Kath...I mean the captains eyes. Afterwards we went into the bedroom and she removed my clothing and we proceeded to make lov.."

B'Elanna waved her hand in the air cutting Seven off "Alright you can stop right there, that's more than what I needed to know."

"Actually I'm rather interested in hearing the rest" Harry added sheepishly, his face warm and flushed.

B'Elanna snorted rudely "Yeah right in your wildest dreams Starfleet. Don't you dare listen to him Seven, he's nothing but a little pervert" Harry turning a crimson red.

"So have you and the captain set a date yet?"

"No, we were going to discuss it later this evening. We did not have the opportunity to discuss it any further. As we moved on to other things" B'Elanna blushed profusely well aware of what her friend meant.

"Yeah well don't wait to long the Captain might change her mind. The captain and Seven getting married, Kahless this is going to be fun. When are you going to make an official announcement?" the Klingons eyes twinkling with mischief.

"Kathryn will be announcing it to the crew tomorrow at Neelix's party. B'Elanna Torres, you must promise me you will refrain from speaking of this until Kathryn has made the announcement. She would be very disappointed if the word was let out before she could announce it"

"You have my word Seven" Harry Kim chimed in immediately, beating B'Elanna to the punch.

"Ensign Kim, I thank you, but it is not you whom I am concerned about"

"What? Are you accusing me of not being able to keep my mouth shut?" B'Elanna in obvious shock

"Yes that is precisely what I am doing"

'Honestly Seven you have some nerve, you have no faith in me at all" B'Elanna attempting to look wounded.

"That is an incorrect statement. I have a strong faith in your abilities as an engineer. It is in your ability of keeping quite that most concerns me"

"No wonder you and Tuvok like each other so much, you're both alike, suspicious and pompous. However you have my word I'll keep my mouth shut, there are you happy?"

"Yes, thank you, but somehow I suspect it has more to do with you being afraid, of what the Captain would do to you if you should. I am curious why did she call you to her ready room this morning?"

B'Elanna's face suddenly lit up a reminder of what her original intentions were in the first place. "I'm so glad you asked, seeing how its all your fault I was in trouble in the first place"

"Indeed, how so?" Seven at a loss for words.

"It seems the new little habit you've recently adapted of showing up for duty late, put me on the hot seat. Due to my generous nature of covering your Borg butt, while you're doing the wild thing with the Captain. The captain thought I was responsible for breaking into a high level file from Starfleet"

"I do not understand, why would she believe you would do something like that?"

"Maybe because like you, she seems to think I'm the ships troublemaker"

"That has nothing to do with it, you would never do something like that" B'Elanna stared at Seven in outrage, the Borg exonerating her of espionage, while in the same breath accusing her of being the ships troublemaker.

"You know Seven, you really need to brush up on the compliment department. But for the record, I will forgive you this slight indiscretion. However see that you and Janeway limit your playtime to the midnight hour"

"I will try"

"Yeah you better"

"Do you know what was in the communiqué?" Seven fishing for answers.

"No, but it was for her eyes only and don't ask me anymore. I'm still pissed at you over that. You should have seen Tuvok when she called him in. He already had me judged and found guilty, that pompous Vulcan"

"I do not understand, why would the Captain call in Tuvok?"

"Cause she thought he did it. Kahless she really is touchy about her privacy isn't she?"

"Yes she is. Was is Lt. Commander Tuvok that accessed the file?"

"No it wasn't, so that only leaves Chakotay. But I don't know if the Captain talked to him. But damn was she pissed, I've never seen her so mad. Actually that' s not true"

"You have not answered my question" Seven changing the subject an edge of concern in her voice "Will you be my maid of honor?"

"What a silly question of course I will. I can't wait, we're going to pick out a wedding gown to end all wedding gowns" Seven blanched and swallowed harshly, realizing she may never get married if B'Elanna was going to assist her in choosing a wedding gown.

"I was thinking of having Kathryn assist me"

"You really don't know anything about wedding traditions do you? Janeway can't help you, besides the responsibility falls under the bride's mother and the maid of honor. So since your mother isn't here, that only leaves me as your only family" slapping Seven in the back 'Kahless, this is going to be fun"

Seven blinked the look of shock evident on her face, inwardly thinking "Perhaps I should have researched this further before asking B'Elanna to be my maid of honor" a slight shiver swept through her as she envisioned B'Elanna replicating a 100 wedding gowns.

Harry's voice cut in, a hint of excitement present "I think I found something" the two women moved quickly to his terminal and looked at the data on the panel in front of him. "Right here, do you see it?"

Seven pushed Harry over B'Elanna standing closely behind her, watching her fingers typing rapidly into the terminal. "I do not believe this may be the cause. However there is a pattern to the energy fluctuations"

B'Elanna stared intently behind her "See if you can clear up the distortion, we might be able to track where its coming from"

Seven continued entering commands into the panel, the wave becoming clearer and more distinct.

B'Elanna pointed quickly "There see that? It seems to have a pattern, the spatial spectrum is shifting phase here, watch it"

"Where do you think it's coming from?" Harry attempting to get a better view as the two women commandeered his terminal.

"It is coming from inside jeffries tubes 37, tunnel 543, where I was attacked"

"We better let the Captain know. Lt. Torres to Captain Janeway"

"Janeway here"

"Captain, we think we found the problem"

"Go ahead Lt. I'm listening"

"It seems to be a defective co-efficient emitter array in jeffries tube 37. Seven and I will take a look at it"

"Good work Lt. Janeway out"

The two women headed to the jeffries tube and began the process of repairing the co-efficient emitter. The repair being completed without further incident, exhausted and irritable they returned to their prospective quarters. Each having a sense of completion and satisfaction, in having tracked down the defective device.

Nine months elapsed and Voyager was forced to stop in an effort to replenish their supplies. The entire crew buzzed over the up coming nuptials between their Captain and Seven. An outpour of congratulations and services offered by the crew for the impending wedding. The crews' morale lifted over the thought of celebrating a wedding, the fact that it was for their captain marking the occasion as momentous. They were anxious to reach the planet surface, each member wanting the time to shop for a wedding gift.

An away team was assembled consisting of the Doctor, B'Elanna, Seven and Tuvok, with Janeway leading the negotiations. Seven and B'Elanna were excited hoping to find the time to shop for the up coming wedding. They assembled at the transporter pad and waited to be beamed down to the planet Fn'enhgia. An M class system located at coordinates 4.20x540 mark 5 in the Delta quadrant. The Fn'enghians were a peaceful and technologically advanced society with a strong reverence for their ecology.

Anyone seeing Fn'enhgia for the first time was hard pressed not to admire its natural beauty. The lush green and orange foliage elegantly displayed with various flowers and trees of blues, lilacs, reds and yellows. An abundance of wild life living in harmony with the Fn'enghians, birds holding a special significance among them.

The government existed of a ruling body of twelve, a representative from each of the regions existing in their system. The Fn'enghians were advanced scientists and doctors focusing on maintaining the perfect balance between their planets natural resources and their own technological advances.

Though their way of life appeared simplistic, homes made of natural elements, their garments of purest silks and cotton, they were far from being primitive. The planet boasted an energy source not present in any other system Voyager ever encountered. A natural element flowing freely from rich underground springs. The water from the springs was incapable of sustaining life in its natural form. However The Fn'enghians managed to harvest and decompose its molecular structure and developed a highly stable natural energy source.

As the Fn'enghians progressed in their medical and technological advances. The ruling body of government ensured their advances did not disrupt the natural balance of their homeland. Their laws were strict and heavily enforced to ensure the delicate balance was never compromised. To the Fn'enghians all life was held sacred regardless of its function in their society. The animal and natural life forms held as sacred as a Fn'enhgia life.

They survived mainly by trade, their advance technology and medical achievements highly treasured by the surrounding systems. As an ancient people they were well respected and revered among their planetary neighbors. To have a Fn'enghians as a friend was to have a friend for life.

Janeway and the away team beamed down to the given coordinates, their bodies materializing against the backdrop of a natural waterfall. The daughter of the Fn'enghians government trade commissioner greeted them.

The team watched, as she walked elegantly towards them, her frame small and delicate. She had long brown hair flowing freely, wisps of waves catching with the wind. Her skin was smooth and ageless, the complexion a honey amber with proud cheekbones. Her clothing consisted of sheer fabrics made of delicate silk, multi-layered and hugging her figure seductively.

Her ears were pierced and long blue and yellow feathers held together with wooden beads were proudly displayed. Her eyes black like the night with an inner brilliance shinning outward, she focused intensely on Seven as she approached. Her forearms adorned with the same colored feathers, intertwining with a delicate silk string.

Janeway and B'Elanna noticed the woman's interest in Seven as she neared. B'Elanna shaking her head and muttering in a low voice "What's up with her, she's staring at Seven like she was the last meal on this planet?"

Janeway felt a sudden flash of jealousy rise and quickly quelled it, surprise that she would allow her insecurities to surface. She smiled crookedly and under her breath muttered back "That will be all Lt." gazing at Seven peripherally.

The woman smiled as she neared her face light and warm, her eyes never leaving Seven. "Greetings crew of Voyager, I am Envoy Pooran and I will be assisting you in your negotiations. Welcome to Fn'enhgia" dipping her head elegantly, her eyes still on Seven.

"Thank you Envoy Pooran, I'm Captain Kathryn Janeway, allow me to introduce my crew. This is Lt. Commander Tuvok my Chief of Security, Lt. Torres my Chief Engineer, Voyagers Doctor and Sev.." Janeway was abruptly cut off.

"Seven of Nine, former human designation Annika Hansen, your Astrometrics Officer. I am sorry Captain I didn't mean to startle you. The Fn'enghians are a thorough race, we take the precaution of scanning the databases of all vessels entering our air space. It is a measure we use to ensure our visitors will honor our laws before we grant them entry into our planet. You must understand here on Fn'enhgia all life is sacred and all who come here must honor our laws. I apologize if you are offended" Pooran eyeing B'Elanna with amusement.

B'Elanna blushed and tugged at the neck of her color, avoiding Pooran's eyes. Janeway stifled a smile and immediately set to blank out her thoughts, her face difficult to read.

"No offense taken, we on Voyager are committed to the same ideals. The Federation mandates that we respect all life forms, as a scientist myself I take a personal interest in this"

Pooran shifted her eyes to Janeway suddenly intrigued with the formidable woman. Her dark eyes staring intently into the inner region of Janeway's being. "Then you will understand and appreciate what my people are trying to do here. For thousands of years we have existed as one with the world around us. Our own scientist are committed to developing new technologies that do not harm our environment"

"I assure you we understand completely and applaud your brilliance at having achieved this goal so effortlessly" Janeway's diplomatic charm coming on full force, her eyes brilliant and vibrant.

Pooran stared at Janeway a moment longer before answering "That is most gracious of you to say captain and I welcome the opportunity of showing you our way of life. Perhaps you will permit your crew to visit us as well. They will find our natural resources a welcome comfort from their many months of travel in space" her eyes shifting to Sevens eyes.

"I thank you for your generosity in extending your hospitality to the rest of my crew. I'm sure they would more then welcome the opportunity for shore leave. I'll have my first officer make the necessary arrangements. If you can provide us with information pertaining to your laws, I'll ensure my crew will respect them while visiting here" Janeway's smile beaming.

"That can be easily arranged Captain, I will make sure our engineers transfer the data to Voyagers database immediately

"We'll be looking forward to it"

"If you will follow me I will take you to my father, he is anxiously awaiting you and I am afraid I have detained you long enough, please forgive me"

"No need to apologize I've enjoyed our talk" Janeway dipping her head in turn, her arm sweeping outward and indicating for Pooran to lead the way.

She turned to her away team, B'Elanna, Seven you're with me, Tuvok see if you can help Chakotay in arranging for the crew's shore leave. Doctor I want you to meet with their medical staff and see if we can replenish our supplies" Janeway ignoring Tuvok's look, knowing he was not in accordance with leaving her unguarded.

The three women were lead to a large circular building made of stone. The inner chamber was cool and dry, the stones were of various colors and radiated a warm orange glow. They were lead to a room were large pillows made of satin and silk where thrown on the floor. A low stone table elegantly hand carved in the center. There was a decanter made of silver and filled with a cool blue fluid, chalets made of silver in each place setting. Next to it was a silver platter containing a variety of fruits and nuts elegantly displayed. Pooran indicated for them to sit themselves and departed their company, headed in the direction of a smaller chamber to the back.

Pooran entered the small chamber and sitting in the center of the floor in a lotus position was a man. He wore a hooded silk robe covering his elegant features and his form.

"They are here?" his voice a lyrical whisper

"Yes, the young Borg creature and her mate"

"They do not suspect anything?"

"No, they are not aware of who we are"

"You have done well, leave me now"

"As you wish" she bowed elegantly and exited the smaller chamber through a back door.

The man rose and as he did his form began to shift, his features adapting those of the Fn'enghians. His long hair becoming short and a light brown, his eyes changing to a dark black and the whites suddenly appearing. His nose becoming longer and finer and his lips changing to a dark brown. His pale complexion darkening to an amber honey, his wings retracting and disappearing.

He rose and headed to the outer chamber where the three women were patiently awaiting his arrival.

B'Elanna was shifting from one cheek to another, finding it difficult to get comfortable, the room becoming warm. She reached over and selected a lilac colored round fruit and sniffed it before consuming it, a rich wine juice sliding down the sides of her mouth.

Her two companions stared at her in horror, she glance up wiping her chin with her sleeve and caught their expressions.

"What? I was hungry" her voice immediately defensive. Janeway merely screwed her eyes, Seven bowing her head slightly and shaking it.

"It's customary Lt. to wait for your guest to arrive before you proceed to pounce on the food like a wild targ" Janeway attempting to correct her slight indiscretion.

B'Elanna stared at Janeway blankly, the thought never entering her mind. "Yeah, well why would they put it there if it wasn't for you to eat?" B'Elanna attempting to justify her indiscretion.

Seven rolled her eyes "Perhaps next time you should have your nutritional supplement before embarking on an away team"

"Yeah well did you get a load of Neelix's idea of a nutritional supplement this morning? I wouldn't feed it to a targ" she spat determined not to be embarrassed.

"B'Elanna Torres, it has occurred to me you have no concept of the word shame"

"Sure I do Seven, it would be a shame to waste a fine meal like this. Besides it's not like anyone's going to know, I already ate the evidence" the Klingon replied smugly.

Janeway chuckled lightly the Klingon never seizing to amaze her with her talent for twisting things around. Seven merely snorted in disgust. "You are hopeless, Klingon"

"That may be so Borg, but at least I'm not hungry any more" Janeway stifled a laugh, silently enjoying their playful banter.

"Ladies, please try to behave yourselves and remember why we are here" Janeway's voice becoming more commanding.

"Aye Captain, understood" B'Elanna eyeing Seven through hooded lashes smiling with mischief.

"Yes Captain" Sevens lip curling to a smile and briefly glancing at B'Elanna, a strong desire to burst out laughing consuming her.

Janeway eyed Seven suspiciously and in a low warning voice "Se-ve--n"

"Aye Captain" the smirk falling off of her face, as she shifted her eyes to the floor.

Then man entered the room elegantly, his form long and lean taking long strides as he crossed the room. His face was handsome and dark. He locked onto the form of Seven and swept his eyes across her, honing in on her cortical implant, a distant look crossing his eyes.

He turned his vision to Janeway and absorbed her features into his mind. He tilted his head at the three women and smiled broadly, a flicker of bright white teeth shining. "Captain Janeway, I am Commissioner Rp'heal, it is a pleasure to meet you"

"Commissioner Rp'heal it is a pleasure to meet you. I'd like to thank you and your people for offering us a most gracious welcome" Janeway's own brilliant smile rising to the surface. B'Elanna breathing in deeply in disgust.

"Ah, Lt. Torres I see you have tried our lianaac fruit. But I am afraid you will not be able to remove its stain from your sleeve. You must permit me to offer you a new garment in exchange" B'Elanna blushed profusely, her face turning crimson red. Janeway stifled a smile, while Seven chewed on her lower lip.

"That won't be necessary Commissioner" she moaned softly, the Klingon feeling embarrassed.

"Ah but I insist, it is the least I can do" his smile warm and rueful.

He sat down and began the lengthy negotiations, the Fn'enghians able to supply Voyager with their list of supplies. After four intense hours of haranguing over prices, they settled on an amount. Janeway contacted Voyager and made the necessary arrangements for payment and the receipt of goods.

They roses and shook hands vigorously, Rp'heal taking the time to compliment Janeway on her keen negotiation skills. The Captain returning the compliment and feigning modesty.

"Will you be remaining a while longer before returning to your ship Captain? I believe my daughter wishes to show you our way of life"

"Actually I was looking forward to it, I am a scientist and I'm rather intrigued by your world"

"Ah, a scientist, then I will summon my daughter for you right away. You will find her well schooled in these matters, she is what we term as a healer. She specializes in the medical field of our abundant wild life"

"I see, I wasn't aware of that"

"You will find Captain Janeway that half of the Fn'enghians are either scientist or healers in various fields of medicine"

"That is interesting, well then, I'm sure I'll be in capable hands"

"I will summon her for you. If you will excuse me" Rp'heal dipped his head elegantly, his eyes scanning Seven briefly before departing.

B'Elanna padded behind Janeway, lowering her voice she whispered quietly "Is it just me or is this whole place overly interested in our resident Borg?"

"It would appear that way. Still you have to remember these people have never seen the Borg. Seven could simply be a curiosity to them"

"Yeah, well they're starting to give me the creeps. So if you don't mind I'm taking Seven with me and don't worry I won't let her out of my sight. But we saw a real nice market on the way here and you have to admit, they sure do know something about silk"

"That will be fine, make sure Ensign Gaines joins me"

"Aye Captain, I'll send him right over" Looking over at Seven who was busy sampling some of the various nuts, B'Elanna called to her "Lets go Borg, times a wasting and we have some shopping to do. I'll wait for you outside so make it quick"

Seven nodded her head and walked over to Kathryn. "Why are you not joining us?"

Turning around and making sure they were alone "I would love to darling, but I can't duty calls"

"I see" Sevens voice soft and hurt

Kathryn breathed in deeply, "Darling if I could join you I would, please don't make me feel bad about this"

"I am sorry, I did not wish to upset you. I would much rather shop with you for my wedding dress than with B'Elanna"

Kathryn leaned into Seven lightly " And I would much rather be with you. However the Fn'enghians have been very kind to us and I simply can't decline"

"Very well, but I am not looking forward to shopping with B'Elanna. I believe she suffers from a compulsive obsessive disorder regarding attire"

Kathryn chuckled lightly, her eyes locking onto Sevens and shinning brightly "I am sure you can adapt, I will see you tonight in our quarters" her eyes making love to Seven.

Seven shuddered, the intensity of Kathryn's stare sending shivers down her spine "I will look forward to seeing you" her eyes raking over Kathryn's form.

"You truly have become quite a flirt. Now hurry up and go, you know how B'Elanna is" Seven nodded and laughing turned to leave, Kathryn watching her retreating figure possessively.

"And Seven? Seven turning her head around to look at Kathryn "Whatever you do don't get separated from B'Elanna"

"Yes Kathryn" the young woman smiling warmly. Kathryn felt a sudden pang of fear as she watched Seven walk away.

Pooran was watching the exchange between the two women as she neared Janeway. Her sudden presence startling Janeway and making her jump.

"I am sorry Captain, it appears I have gotten into a habit of startling you. Please forgive me" Pooran paid close attention to Kathryn's features, noting the subtle changes as the fear crossed her blue/gray eyes and quickly left.

"Its quite alright, however I would like to know more about how your people have managed to maintain such an equal balance in your world"

Pooran detected the sudden change in mood and decided to ascent to the captain's wishes. "I would be more than pleased to show you" She gently lead Janeway out and proceeded to provide her with a thorough tour of her planets ecosystem and scientific laboratories.

Chakotay sat on the bridge, his hands accessing the terminal the buzzing in his ear now drifting to his head. He heard the resonance of multiple voices, their tones low and hissed. He heard as they called his name, driving him to the knowledge. Through the loud buzzing the clarity suddenly appeared, he closed his eyes tightly, the vision returning.

He saw the child her eyes a deep blue, her hair a strawberry blonde. The mother held her lovingly and the child gurgled in her arms. They sat comfortably in a field bleached golden by the sun. The child turned to face him, her eyes unlike a child, but like those of an old and ancient soul. The dark blue orbs observing him with the knowledge of the ancients, drawing him deeper into an abyss. He watched as he saw the jackal near, hidden in the tall blades of the grass. Its teeth bared and the lips pulled fully back. The beast laid low and silently neared its prey, its eyes gleaming with its intent. He leaped into the air and attacked the mother, its teeth baring deep into the soft flesh of her neck. The child fell from her arms as the beast delighted in its kill, the child's eyes staring at Chakotay with knowledge of its own death. In one swift move the beast snatched the child away and ran as the sky turned to dark, a raging storm ensuing. Chakotay opened his eyes and shook his head, a slight snarl appearing on his lips.

The away team beamed back to Voyager B'Elanna and Seven having found their perfect choice of a wedding dress made of fine Fn'enghian silk. Seven and Kathryn were in their quarters, Kathryn cursing under her breath, a long sheer wrap made of a fine woven silk bundled in her hand. "This is ridiculous, how do these women wear this?" her frustration rising, her face contorted and visibly upset.

Seven chuckled lightly, "Perhaps if you would have bothered to have read the instructions the Fn'enghians sent with it you would know". Seven answered accusingly from the ensuite, already dressed in her outfit and placing a delicate brooch made of green and gold feathers on her right breast. The pin holding the wrap firmly in place her right shoulder exposed as the fabric flowed freely over her back. Her left shoulder was covered delicately with a sheer silk wrap in gold and emerald green. Her garment consisted of six finely silk layers of gold and green wraps. Each carefully folded and wrapped hugging comfortably to her body, her navel fully exposed. She walked into their bedroom, the layers flowing freely with her movements, the air catching them lightly and dancing delicately before falling to her form.

Kathryn stared at her in disbelief, her desire rising immediately, the frustration of dressing quickly forgotten. As she envisioned herself removing each layer slowly until she reached the hidden wonders of supple flesh. Her mouth suddenly went dry and she swallowed deeply, her eyes expressing her evident desire.

Seven raised her brow disapprovingly, a smirk crossing her delicate mouth. "You are impossible Kathryn" as she crossed the room to assist her.

"Is there something wrong in me admiring how wonderful you look?" she licked her lips in anticipation.

Seven snorted, Kathryn's attempt to cover her desire failing. She removed the silk wrap from Kathryn's hands and rolled her eyes disapprovingly. The layers of wrapped silk haphazardly placed lending the appearance of a wrapped mummy. "No there is not, however I do not believe you are picturing me with my clothes on" her lip curling to a delicate tease.

Kathryn chuckled lightly "You do know me don't you? Allowing Seven to remove the layered wraps and adjust them correctly. Her garments spun of a beautiful aqua and gold silk.

Placing a brooch of aqua and gold similar to her own, she looked into Kathryn's eyes lovingly and kissed her delicately on the mouth. "Yes I do and it would do you no good to think otherwise" her eyes shinning with intensity.

Kathryn cleared her throat and chaste herself for her lack of control. Something about Seven made her lose complete control of herself. Constantly finding herself at the mercy of her rising desire to be with this beautiful woman. She shook her head slightly a broad smile gracing her classic features. "I will just never win with you will I?"

"No, you will not" Sevens own smile beaming broadly, her eyes shinning with love. Kathryn grabbed her roughly and kissed her intensely until she felt the young woman surrender. She released her abruptly and walked away, Seven swooning and shaking her head to clear it. With a satisfied smirk on her face, she tossed her head backwards "That's just to let you know who's in charge here" her throaty laughter rising as she exited their bedroom and headed towards the door. "Are you coming?" the laughter reaching a higher crescendo.

Seven stood momentarily stunned and after collecting herself she followed the trail of laughter. Inwardly admitting she just lost considerable ground. The two women entered the turbolift and ascended towards transporter bay 2, Kathryn grinning from ear to ear.

They arrived at the planet surface and were greeted by a Fn'enghian guard who escorted them to the banquet hall. Where the Voyager crew was being honored and welcomed. The stone building was huge and also circular, carved of the same stone native to the planet. The room was lit with the warm glow of lamplight a large variety of Fn'enghian delicacies were elegantly displayed among the banquet tables.

Pooran entered the small poorly lit room, the being sitting in the center of the room dressed in his silk robe, his form returned to its natural state. The garment covered his form and features. "The Borg creature and her mate have arrived"

"You must find a way to separate the Borg from her mate. You must prepare her to receive the knowledge without her mate suspecting"

"This may prove very difficult, her mate already senses something is wrong. She has assigned the Klingon to watch her, perhaps we should bring them into the fold"

"We can not, they mustn't know until it is time. The child must be conceived, the war has already begun and we have lost considerable ground. I need not remind you we can not afford to lose this war. You must separate the Borg creature from her mate; she must be given the knowledge. I will distract the Klingon"

"I understand"

"Do you? We can not fail Pooran our master will be unable to assist us. The child must be born she must lead them" the beings voice low.

"I will not fail, but have you considered what Janeway will do when her mate conceives a child?"

"The child will be hers, that is all she will need to know" the being eyeing Pooran questionably.

Pooran lowered her eyes a shadow of concern crossing her delicate features "Janeway is a woman of science as well as her mate, they will not accept this easily, they will search for the answers. I recommend we give them both the knowledge there is still too much that can go wrong"

"Janeway will be to busy trying to protect the young creature to be concerned with finding answers. She is in love with the young creature and will not abandon her. She will do everything under her power to protect her and their child"

"Michael has warned them of the threat to the child. I was able to detect it from Janeway this morning"

"I am already aware of that, the young creature suspects something as well. Still they are not aware of who the enemy is. Has he arrived yet?"

"No he has not"

"Very well let us go and meet our guest. We can no longer delay the process" he rose from his sitting position and his form began the transformation into that of Rp'hpeals the Fn'enghian. They exited the small room together, Pooran still in doubt as to the outcome of their plans.

Rp'heal and Pooran entered the room together and immediately sought the audience of Kathryn and Seven. Finding them in the back hall, the two women in an animated conversation with their Chief Engineer and a Fn'enghian scientist envoy named G'briel.

"Ah Captain Janeway we are honored you and your staff were able to attend" bowing gracefully to the three women "Might I add how wonderful you all look in our traditional robes"

Janeway nodded her head and assuming her best diplomatic smile answered warmly "Why thank you Commissioner Rp'heal how kind of you to say. I find that your robes are exceptionally beautiful and the silk is the finest I have ever seen"

"I trust that you did not experience too much difficulty in binding them?"

"None at all Commissioner, your instructions were perfect" Kathryn catching Seven looking at her with a sly smirk.

"That is good" he turned his attention to Seven and flashing his brilliant white teeth "Seven, you are a vision of loveliness, you were borne to be adorned by the finest of silks.

Sevens raised her eye, her golden silver implant flexing "Thank you Commissioner" she slowly moved to stand by Kathryn, the act not going unnoticed by Rp'heal.

Rp'heal smiled ruefully and turned his attention to B'Elanna "Lt. Torres, I have been informed you come from a species of warriors. Were you aware the Fn'enghians were once the fiercest warriors in this system? Our history spans thousands of years and we once made the finest weapons in this galaxy. Perhaps you will allow me to show you them?"

B'Elanna's eyes sparkled finding a sudden interest in the whole affair after all. "Yeah, sure commissioner, I'd love to"

Rp'heal smiled warmly and bowing his head to Pooran, "Captain, Seven, if you would excuse us. I'm sure my daughter and envoy G'briel will be able to entertain you. Captain you must allow the envoy to show you his latest discoveries on harnessing our natural underground springs. As a scientist you would be intrigued in his latest discoveries" Rp'heal eyed envoy G'briel, who quickly responded and eased Kathryn in the opposite direction. Seven and Pooran standing along with Rp'heal and B'Elanna.

Pleased with the outcome Rp'heal turned and extended his arm out to B'Elanna, which she quickly grasped as they headed to the side of the archway slowly disappearing from sight.

Pooran smiled at Seven "I understand from our merchants you purchased a ceremonial bonding gown this afternoon. Am I correct in assuming you will be bonded soon?''

"Yes that is correct" Seven slightly taken off guard.

"Ah, but that is good fortune. The Fn'enghians have a local tradition, that all brides to be bonded must visit the waterfall of everlasting life. It is our peoples belief it will bring much happiness to a new bonding and ensure your line continues. I would be honored if you would allow me to take you there. It is just outside the garden, perhaps you saw it on your way in?"

Seven hesitated slightly, then recalling Kathryn's advice on behaving diplomatically, she smiled warmly in response "No, I did not, however I find that would be most acceptable, envoy Pooran"

Pooran's smile deepened and grasping Sevens elbow lightly she gently guided her outside. The two women walked side by side quietly, wanting to ease the slight tension she detected from Seven, Pooran proceeded to distract her.

'"Have you had the opportunity to study our laws and customs Seven?"

"I have and find that your science is most intriguing and efficient in existing with equal an balance to your world. I find that your world is most aesthetically pleasant. When I was a Borg we would have assimilated your species and added your technology to the collective. However since being severed from the collective, I have embraced my humanity and find I can take great comfort in your wildlife. However I am curious, why is it that the Fn'enghians pay reverence to the aviary species?

"It is because to us they represent knowledge and spirituality"

"Indeed, how so"

"Our species of birds live in perfect harmony with each other. They mate for life and are equal in raising their young. It was by studying their perfection of flight that enabled the first ancient Fn'enghians to gain the knowledge of science. Since then we strive to maintain an equal balance between nature and science.

"I see"

Pooran studied Seven intensely intrigued by the various emotions flickering through her eyes. "It is our custom when we arrive at the fall to pay tribute to all life. The bride to be is then expected to remove her sandals and walk into the waters. I in turn will offer that you and your betrothed will be blessed with the knowledge of the ancients and that your line will continue to exist in harmony with all things. It will give me great honor to represent you "

"This is a most intriguing custom, I find I will be pleased to partake in it"

Pooran smiled warmly, her dark brooding eyes glowing with an inner light. They neared the waterfall and Seven was taken aback by its splendor. The young woman found it difficult not to marvel at the natural beauty before her. The fall though small was filled with an abundance of aquatic bird life of multiple sizes and colors calling to each other. The surrounding area covered with a wealth of green foliage. Large flowers in various hues of pink, lilac and white splashed generously about. There were lanterns burning flowery sweet smelling oils, lit and placed around the entire outer bank of the fall. Their soft yellow glow reflected warmly against the rippling pool of water.

Seven removed her sandals and handed them to Pooran, "What is it that I must say?" the soft glow of the lanterns dancing beautiful shadows across the golden silvery hue of her implant.

"You must say silently what is most in your heart, as you stare into the flowing waters of the fall. I will recite the ancient words of my people while you enter the waters"

Seven nodded and completely captivated by the natural sounds and serenity around her ventured cautiously into the waters.

Pooran raised her hands upwards and began chanting a soft ancient prayer. The birds taking immediate flight, a blanket of downy feathers falling softly to the waters. Seven maintained her focus at the rushing waters of the fall, her mind blanking. The sounds of the water mesmerizing her, as it began to grow louder and louder. Seven saw the waters of the fall part, a bright purple light shooting out towards her, its shape forming into Pooran. Her features were softer and her eyes a brilliant violet, her silk garments made of lilac and gold. She wore a small crown of gold and a pair of white snowy wings arched upwards, her hands reaching out to Seven. Seven reached out to her and found herself lifted into the air. Pooran holding her and embracing her gently and soothing her with her touch.

Pooran cradled her face gently with her hand and lifted her chin to her. Their eyes locking and Sevens soul becoming one with hers. Pooran lowered her head slowly and touched her warm velvet lips to Seven. She deepened the kiss, her taste flowery and sweet. A warm glow of violet light consumed them as she lifted them higher towards the heavens. She tightened her embrace on Seven, Sevens arms falling to her sides, as Pooran held her entire weight. Seven saw the images flash rapidly the knowledge of the ancient being bestowed upon her. They continued their ascent, spiraling upwards the kiss still long and deep.

She felt rather than heard, Kathryn next to her, and startled she let out a strangled cry. Kathryn held Seven in her arms, her stark gray eyes boring holes through Pooran. "Seven are you alright?" Kathryn's voice warm and sweet bringing Seven back home.

"I...I am fine" Seven staring at Pooran, who stood silently behind them, her eyes flashing with understanding.

"What were you doing?" Kathryn noticing the pained look on Sevens face added gently.

"Envoy Pooran spoke to me of a Fn'enghian custom regarding the waterfall. It had to do with couples who are bonding. I...I was following her advice, it is meant to ensure we are blessed in our bonding and our lines continue"

Kathryn's eyes turned a warm blue, her face glowing with a warm smile. "I see" a slight blush touching her delicate cheeks. "You had me worried"

"I'm sorry Kathryn, I did not mean to cause you distress, please forgive me"

Kathryn continued staring into Sevens ice blue eyes marveling at the warm glow. "It's quite alright, now put you sandals back on we need to return to the banquet"

Seven shook her head slightly reaching to the outstretched hands of Pooran holding the sandals. "Thank you Envoy, it has been a most intriguing experience" her eyes unable to meet Pooran's.

After placing the sandals on her feet, the three women walked silently back to the banquet hall. The remainder of the evening flowing easily and unperturbed. After several hours Captain Janeway made her excuses to her guest and beamed back to Voyager with Seven. Kathryn taking the time to remove every layer of fine silk clothing from Seven slowly. The two women enjoying their moment together as they expressed their love for one another until the early morning hours.

The following morning Voyager departed the Fn'enghian airspace returning their course to the Alpha quadrant. The crew grateful for their time spent in the natural beauty of Fn'enhgia as the excitement of the wedding began to run its course.

On the surface of Fn'enhgia Pooran and Rp'heal returned to their natural form. The soft rustle of wings as Pooran crossed the distance to stand next to Rp'heal. His aqua eyes focused and locking deep past the Fn'enghian sky and deep into space watching the retreating image of Voyager.

"It is done" his voice a low whisper

"Yes, the young creature has been given the knowledge"

"And the child?" his eyes never leaving the silvery form of Voyager flowing through space.

"She will conceive the child on the evening of their vows"

"That is good news"

"There is something else, something more disturbing"

The being turned his vision from the deep expanse of space and looked intensely into the violet white-less orbs. "What is it?"

"The birds from the waterfall of everlasting life were all found dead this morning. They were torn to pieces Raphael, the beast within him has grown stronger with the taking of their lives"

The angelic being swallowed deeply his white-less aqua eyes closing. "We must have faith that Janeway can protect her and the child"

(Continued on Part IX)

Continue to Part 9