Captains log; Star date… shall we say One. The first of a new day for friends both old and young. Starfleet has implemented a fleet wide transporter solution to purge our young officers of the Borg infection. The world saving effort developed by our new head of Starfleet Medical Branch; Admiral Crusher, who also managed to spearhead technology that privately scans for other irregularities. In constant need for information, our Changeling adversaries kept, yet did not kill, many of their targets; from the lowest of ranks to the very highest.
—Captain William T. Riker
CaptainTuvok leans forward in his chair. His hands clasped atop the table before him. Commander Hansen, former Borg drone sits across from him, lax against the back of her own chair, eying him with both trepidation and admiration.
"You disobeyed a direct order from your Captain. As a result, Starfleet command has ordered me -"
Seven of Nine cuts him off with a wave of her hand, and swivels in her chair. "Let me make this easy for you," shaking her head as she speaks. She knew this was coming.
Tuvok merely arches a quizzical eyebrow.
"Clearly my judgement.. my.. instincts….don't fall in line." Her voice cracks with the last three words she utters. "…And that is why…." she sighs. "I am resigning from Starfleet."
Captain Tuvok raises chin and pulls out a recording module, places it in front of Seven and sits back.
"Your officer review." His voice is stoic and emotionless. A stark contrast to Seven, who scoffs and rolls her eyes.
She presses her lips tightly together and leans forward, tapping the module to activate it. She listens mildly annoyed as Captain Shaw describes how frustratingly his dealings with Commander Hansen had challenged him. Her recklessness and lack of protocol being at the forefront of his consternation. Until his tone lightens. His eyes soften and he surprises her suddenly, calling her brave. Loyal. He expresses his admiration for the world she is going to create, stating the rules she breaks had been broken to begin with. She listens as he recommends promotion to Captain upon their return.
A single tear slips from her right eye and falls quickly down her cheek.
"Resignation Denied, Captain."
Seven stares at Tuvok in amazement. Her friend. She almost laughs through her next few falling tears at his almost imperceptible, but very tangible smile.
She nods as she rises from her chair, extending a hand towards the Vulcan. He slowly stands and clasps the offered hand, almost knocking her off her feet as he pulls her towards him firmly and Whispers into her ear.
"She's somewhere in the Cerulean Sector. Out of Federation territory. Our last intelligence was 5 days ago. This is all I am able to offer you. Any action you take using this information cannot be connected with Starfleet. Do you understand?"
His tone was too quiet for human perception, but Seven's Borg enhanced hearing picked up every word.
Pulling back slightly, she dips her head in acknowledgment, his eyes almost pleading with her.
"Thank you, my friend," she says, and quickly drops his hand, leaving the room and Tuvok.
"You can't be serious!" Raffi Musiker huffed out in frustration. "The Cerulian Sector?!"
Seven ignored her, rummaging through what little personal effects she possessed and throwing some old Ranger clothes in a small carry all bag. "I have to try!" Seven hissed, whirling around to face Raffi, almost in a challenge.
"That area of space is dangerous, Seven." Raffi tried to reason.
"And?!" Seven was growing more and more irritated.
"Look," Raffi tried. "Let me go with you. We can take Crash too, and…"
"No!" Seven cut her off, grabbing Raffi's arms and squeezing almost painfully. "No one associated with Starfleet will be able to help me." She dropped her head, still holding onto Raffi's biceps. "I can't do what I need to do while worrying about other people. This is something I have to do myself." She paused, taking a few steps back. "And I HAVE to do it." Her voice was raw and dripping with every possible human emotion.
"Why?" Raffi asked after the lump in her throat cleared.
Seven looked at her like she had two heads. "Because!" She shouted. "It's FUCKING JANEWAY!" Her voice broke, but she squared her shoulders. "The woman that liberated me from the Borg. The woman that risked life, limb and ship to keep me safe, many times to the near destruction of everything she held dear. For years, guiding me, helping me, teaching me." Tears began to fall unbidden down her cheek. Even her left eye brimmed with tears. "Who do you think helped me escape Bjayzl?!" Seven's chest ached. "For Christ's sake, Raffi, she helped me find Icheb after he'd been taken, and…" Her throat constricted as a sob ripped through her body. "She had him awarded the Starfleet medal of valor."
Raffi took a step towards her ex-girlfriend, now dear friend. Her intention was to embrace the wrecked woman before her, but all she could do was offer a sad smile and a nod. "Go."
Seven wiped her face with the back of her hand and spun around quickly. She was out the door in three long strides, leaving Raffi stunned. "Good luck," her voice ragged and cracked.
Seven of Nine had left the Titan without anyone detecting her. Her Borg encryption codes masked her transport to a hidden vessel in a nebula a short distance away. Tuvok had provided her the information of where it was located in a coded message, and had even stocked provisions. He was endangering his career, but if there was anything definitive about the crew who brought Voyager home, it was their fierce loyalty to one another, even all these years later.
She masked her warp trail and was on her way towards the Cerulean Sector. It was a thirty-six hour trip at warp 8. She spent the time training in sparring techniques and meditations, the latter a suggestion from Tuvok as well. Balance is the key to perseverance, he had told her.
She found it unsettling at first, but then started to feel the energetic centering and peaceful calm it offered. She even began feeling like she could sleep. Which she did. For 8 straight hours. She hadn't needed to regenerate more than a few times a year now, and sleep was her main source of rejuvenation. Lost in thought, and a little self awareness that mildly frightened her, she jumped when the computer notified her of the proximity to Cerulean space.
Taking a seat at the con, she ran some scans. There was a decidedly void area near the center, and five small M class planets around the outer perimeter. Janeway was on one of those planets, she knew it like a magnetic intuition. Each planet would have been ideal for Changelings to hide, torture or kill any hostages they still kept, Janeway being their top ranking captive.
The scans revealed four of the five planets were populated, and one only held a small colony of equine animals and a plethora of avian creatures. Seven found this intriguing, and focused her attention on the unpopulated planet. Why would a perfectly habitable planet be devoid of humanoid life? It was odd, and it tickled Seven's instincts.
Masking her approach with a Starfleet banned cloak, she entered the atmosphere and her console lit up like a Christmas tree, all of a sudden registering about 45 humanoid life signs.
"Gotcha!" She muttered through gritted teeth.
Descending through the atmosphere at an achingly slow pace, she looked for a place to land. The terrain was rough, but her sensors spotted a patch of land that offered a flat surface and high hills surrounding, which would offer protection. Her landing struts out, she set the ship down and launched an internal atmospheric satellite. Within moments she had a layout of the encampment and infrared of the area. Most of the life signs were a glowing blue, which indicated Changelings. However, two forms were a dim, almost gaunt red. Humanoids. Their life signs were barely registering.
Seven quickly tied her hair back, shrugged into her Ranger jacket and pocketed several knives and a few explosives. She clipped two phasers to her belt and hoisted a disrupter rifle on her hip.
"Computer, initiate transport to the following coordinates." Her clipped voice sounded foreign in her own ears. After she keyed in the destination, she pulled the rifle up, ready to fire. "Energize!"
Darkness surrounded her as she materialized in a moist, stale corridor. Her occipital implant adjusted immediately and her night vision activated. She saw everything clearly, but with a green hue. There was piping along the ceiling and conduits going all along the walls, leading to a door at the end of the passageway.
Slowly, she made her way towards the door. Her enhanced hearing peaked when something clicked behind her. She knew the sound well: a phaser being set to kill. Without turning, she flung the riffle over her shoulder, upside down, and fired. She heard a gasp, then a thud as if something heavy had crumbled to the floor.
When she reached the door, she pushed gently, slowly increasing the pressure until it finally gave way, screeching as it was shoved open.
It was a very small room, four cells with bars made of a soft but durable alloy. Seven crept inside, grabbing hold of one of the bars, testing it with her metal tipped fingers. It was pliable, and she would be able to bend them, but it would take all her strength. She needed a plan to open the doors without exhausting herself.
She heard a beeping off to the left as she walked further inside. Glancing over, she saw it was a locking panel. It appeared to control all four cells. Using her enhanced vision, she peered deeper, beyond the surface and into the circuitry. She almost laughed at the simplicity of the design.
Lifting her mesh covered hand to the console, she injected her assimilation tubules into the mechanism. Within moments, all four cells opened at once. The first two were empty, save for some discarded bowls and a dirty teddy bear. She tried to ignore the shiver that flooded her body at the sight.
"Who's there?" She heard a timid, quiet voice call from the third cell. Seven froze. She knew that voice. It wasn't the voice she'd been hoping for, but it was familiar and she felt a pang in her chest.
Seven grabbed the cell door and opened it all the way, peering into the dark. "Hello?"
"Seven?!" The voice almost cried. Seven gasped as she watch the thin, tall form of one of her most cherished friends step into the dim light that flowed in from the single lightbulb in the center of the room.
"Naomi?!" Seven whispered loudly, both frightened and joyful. The young woman ran towards Seven and fell into her arms. Too weak to stand on her own, Naomi passed out. Seven caught her and cradled her friend in her arms. How old was she now? Seven wondered. Thirty one? Thirty two? Her cranial horns were a reddish brown, symptomatic of her dwindling health. Seven pulled a transporter enhancer and attached it to Naomi's arm. Tapping it twice, she watched as the young woman fizzled away. Hopefully sent back to Seven's ship. She'd have to get the other prisoner, who she hoped was Janeway, to her ship the old fashioned way. On foot, and shooting at anything that got in her way.
Creeping out of Naomi's cell, she approached the last one in the room. Pulling the door open all the way, she stepped inside.
Something in the corner caught her eye and as she got closer, she could see it was a humanoid crumpled on the concrete floor. Their breathing was significantly labored and there was blood pooling around them. Reaching down, Seven touched the fragile shoulder and froze.
The Hair. That unmistakable, although now matted and dingey hair. Seven heard a groan and kneeled on the floor, pulling the figure into her lap. Admiral Kathryn Janeway's head fell back against Seven's knees, face up. Her eyes were black and blue, swollen shut. There was a gash across her cheek and several cuts down the side of her neck. Scanning further, Seven noted the numerous rips in the tattered uniform, exposing ragged scars and bruises.
Seven felt a rage she'd never known and leaned back on her heels as she pulled the fragile form up to her chest and cried into the auburn hair. She smelled of burned flesh and blood.
"Captain." Seven whispered into the once formidable woman's ear. Janeway would always be her Captain. "Can you hear me?" She began to cry.
"Seven?" Janeway's voice was jaded. Disbelieving.
"It's me." Seven pulled her closer. Clinging to her like a lost child who had just found home again.
"Lies!" Janeway seethed, shivering uncontrollably.
"No." Seven spoke firmly. "I'm getting you out of here!" Seven stood in one swift motion, lifting the weakened and frail Admiral easily in her arms. She had mercifully passed out.
Seven strode with purpose. Out of the cell room, through the concrete door and into the hall. Two Starfleet clad, human looking beings stood between her and the exit at the other end. They did not fool her.
Hoisting Janeway into one arm, draping her over a strong shoulder, Seven raised her weapon and fired mercilessly at the two forms blocking her exit. They fell quickly and Seven broke into a run.
She pulled a small explosive from her pocket and tossed it at the exit. It exploded just as she bolted through it, into a bunker full of more Starfleet looking Changelings. She rushed past them before they could react, and fired her phaser at a glass wall, jumping through it as it shattered, the small shards cutting her cheek.
Seven ran faster than she'd ever ran in her life. She knew there were at least 10 Changelings on her heels, but they could never match her speed gifted by the Borg.
Something stung her left calf and she absentmindedly realized it was a phaser blast, but it did not slow her momentum. She rounded the hill that she knew led to her ship and tripped slightly as she ran down the slippery grass. Janeway rolled away from her as Seven hit the ground with enough force to knock the air from her lungs. Quickly regaining her composure, she hooked one arm under Janeway's legs and one under her shoulders, lifted her again and crossed the small field to her ship. She keyed in a sequence and stepped back as a ramp lowered and she jumped, mounting it easily.
"Computer. Execute evasive pattern 47 beta."
The ramp quickly rose, pulling the two women into the ship which quickly lifted off the ground, its cloak hiding them from the approaching Changelings.
Seven laid Janeway on the deck beside Naomi and took her seat at the helm, her fingers flying over the keys as they quickly ascended through the atmosphere. As soon as they were clear, Seven punched the warp activation, heading straight for Federation space.
Admiral Kathryn Janeway awoke with a gasp. Pain seized her body, despite the analgesic coursing through her veins. Her arms wrapped around her chest as if she were afraid she'd fall apart.
Crumpled in a chair in the corner, Seven of Nine jolted awake at the commotion. Her eyes quickly caught hold of Janeway's. Ice blue eyes locked with stormy grey.
Seven unfolded herself and crossed the room almost instantly. She quickly wrapped her arms around Janeway's shoulders and pulled her savior into her body as she climbed onto the bed beside the shaking woman. Their bodies melted together as Janeway dissolved into the embrace.
"Seven." The word was like a prayer, carried on the voice of heaven itself.
"It's me." Seven pressed her cheek against the clammy forehead resting on her shoulder. "I've got you."
Janeway peered up at Seven with soft eyes. "Yes. You do. My Darling, Seven."
Seven pulled her arm away just slightly and reached up with her human hand, pressing it gently against her Captain's cheek.
Seven of Nine smiled, brighter than she'd ever smiled and hugged a now sleeping Admiral Janeway impossibly closer. They fit together like two parts of one whole, finally clicking into place.