Arana – Book 1 - Chapter 18
Disclaimer: Star Trek Voyager and crew belong to Paramount/Viacom and no infringement of copyright/trade marks is intended.
Disclaimer: The Dungeons and Dragons Roleplaying System is owned by Wizards of the Coast and no infringement of copyright/trademarks is intended. The only thing I would like to lay claim to is the original D&D based character used in this story.
Rating: (M +16).
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Revision History: 02/02/06
Summary: Unimatrix Zero drones remember their individuality; Seven begins her weapons training.
After our conversation with Tyr and Mystra, Seven and I discussed the information we had received, and began drawing up a list of what skills Seven would need to learn before we were sent to Toril, ignoring for the moment the question of how and when Mystra would give Seven the ability to manipulate energy. Many of the items on the resulting, and rather lengthy, list Seven could learn partially by study, and then practical usage, but some of the skills, such as horseback riding and weapon's training could only truly be learned through hours of practice. Finally Seven insisted that I go to bed, while she finished her data analysis in preparation for the start of the mission in the morning.
The next morning I stayed with the children, seeing to their safety, while Voyager engaged the Borg Cube in an elaborate deception that would hopefully end with Janeway, Tuvok and Torres, assimilated, but not actually part of the Collective thanks to the Doctor's neural suppressant. The Borg Queen would assume that the three were no longer a threat, and now ignored, they could go about their sabotage and spread the virus that would give the Unimatrix Zero drones the ability to retain their individuality even when they were not regenerating. As soon as they were done, they would then bring down the Cube's shields and Voyager would retrieve them. At least that had been the plan; whether or not it succeeded we would know in two hours.
As the two hour mark came and went, with Voyager still under red alert, I became more concerned. I had been in enough battles to know that plans seldom worked out as envisioned, especially when there were as many unknown factors as this one had included.
A sudden lurch of the floor underneath my feet almost threw me against the console where I was studying, only my reflexes saved me as I threw up my arms in time to stop myself. The violent pitch that followed, however, succeeded in tossing me to the floor.
A sharp cry from Azan impelled me from where I was lying on the deck, lightly stunned from the impact, to my feet and then to his side. The dark haired boy was lying face down upon the floor, one hand clasped to his forehead. "Azan?" I questioned him urgently, as I kneeled beside him.
"My head has been damaged," he whispered as he rolled over, his hand pressed against his forehead just over the brow of the right eye, between his fingers bright red blood welled and flowed.
Another sickening pitch and lurch of the deck threw all of us against the floor once more. "Everyone stay down, and find something to brace against so you won't be thrown around," I ordered, taking a quick appraisal of the other three children, and visually checking that they were unharmed.
I turned back to Azan, "Let me see how bad it is," I said gently, crouching beside him. His face was paler than usual, but I suspected it was more the shock of the injury than anything else. He removed his hand and I was able to see the long gash in his forehead about a half inch above his eyebrow. "How are you feeling? Nauseous? Dizzy?" I asked him.
"Yes," he replied quietly, not sounding at all well.
I looked into his eyes, used my hand to shade them, and then removed it to see how his pupils reacted. They did not react equally, his right one remaining dilated for a moment longer than it should have. "You have a concussion as well," I noted. I considered my options, I could, of course, call for a transport to sickbay, or attempt to walk there with him and the other children, not a good option considering we were under attack, or I could simply heal his injury myself.
"Remove your hand once again Azan," I instructed him gently, he looked at me curiously but did as I requested. Gently I placed my fingers upon the edge of the wound and murmured, "Elessa." I felt the energy being drawn out of myself, setting the skin of my fingertips tingling where they touched Azan's skin.
"I felt something," Azan exclaimed, as I removed my hand and examined his now undamaged skin.
"A tingling sensation, maybe it seemed to itch?" I asked, smiling, recalling my first experience with being healed by a priest.
"Yes," he smiled, "it felt odd." He rubbed his forehead where the injury had been, "You healed it," he sounded surprised.
"Yes I did," I answered distracted, noting that everything had been calm for a few minutes. "Icheb, can you tell what just happened?" I asked the dark haired young man.
A few moments later, "I sent a message to Seven after I was not able to find any information. She sent this back." Icheb stepped back from the console so that I could read the message.
Seven's note was brief and to the point, Tuvok's medication had failed, and the Borg Queen had obtained Voyager's command codes. When Voyager attempted to rescue the three, the Borg were able to drop Voyager's shields using the codes, and Chakotay had been forced to order a quick retreat before the ship was captured. Voyager would have to be repaired, and the codes changed, before another rescue could be attempted.
"Well, I guess we have time to go to my quarters so Azan can change into fresh clothing," I declared, looking at the blood spots on the boy's shirt, and considering it might be best that he change before Seven saw him.
Three hours later, Voyager shook once again, but not as violently as before, and whatever battle the ship was engaged in was over quickly.
Thirty minutes after that event, Seven walked into the science lab, "I apologize for not personally checking on you earlier," she said to the children, "But I knew Arana would see to your safety," she smiled at me warmly.
Mezoti helpfully assured her, "Azan got hurt, but Arana healed him."
Upon hearing this Seven crossed immediately to Azan, kneeled in front of him and began looking him over carefully.
"He cut his head on one of the consoles, Milady. It was a simple matter to heal it," I assured her.
Icheb commented, "Azan also had a concussion, Arana healed that as well."
I loved Icheb for his truthfulness, his honesty, but at this particular moment, as Seven began peppering Azan with questions, I wished that he had kept that particular detail to himself. I walked up behind Seven and rested a hand upon her shoulder, "Milady, I healed that as well, he is fine." Seven looked up at me, her blue eyes questioning, and I smiled reassuringly at her.
"I am not damaged anymore," Azan spoke up, glancing between us.
Seven examined him for another moment, "Very well, but if you begin to not feel well let me know immediately," she instructed him. Looking back up at me she said, "Thank you, Arana."
"It seemed the simplest and safest thing to do, Milady," I commented.
She stood, and began telling us what had happened during the past few hours, "We have successfully recovered Captain Janeway, Lt. Cmdr Tuvok and Lt. Torres. Unimatrix One was also destroyed, Captain Janeway ordered the interlink frequency disrupted to prevent the Borg Queen from using it to deploy a nanovirus the Borg developed that was capable of killing all the drones with the mutation. After it was destroyed, a Borg sphere in control of one of the former drones assisted us in attacking the Cube and recovering them."
"They are in sickbay?" I asked her.
Seven nodded, "The Doctor is already beginning the process of removing their armor and implants. The process will take several hours."
I smiled, "If the Doctor will let me help, I might be able to assist in their recovery."
Seven raised her brow, intrigued, "Perhaps, after the implants are removed it will take them several days to fully recover; your assistance should shorten that time."
Several hours later, after we had eaten and the children had begun their regeneration, Seven and I went to the holodeck for our first training session.
Standing outside the holodeck, I paused, uncertain as to which program to run, "Have you given any thought as to what type of weapon you would like to use?" I asked Seven. I knew most sorcerers used weapons such as a dagger, staff, mace or Morningstar, weapons that were fairly easy to learn how to use, but I didn't know if she was interested in using one of those weapons.
"She wants to use a set of these," Q appeared suddenly beside us, he held up a set of oddly shaped, dark-handled knives in midnight-black sheaths that were embossed decoratively, but did not bear the mark of any deity.
It only took me a moment to recognize what they were. "Kukri," I exclaimed in surprise and dismay, "Milord, I cannot teach Seven how to fight with that weapon, for I do not know how to use them." I paused, "Though I have fought against someone that was skilled in their use, and know that they can be a deadly weapon in skilled hands, capable of both effective offense and defense."
As I remembered the thief that had attacked me one dark rainy night in the seedy depths of Waterdeep's Dock Ward, I regarded the weapons Q was holding with respect. On that night, over five years ago, I hadn't known enough to respect the oddly shaped knives the thin, greasy-haired thief was using. It wasn't until he proved how capable they were of not only parrying my longsword, but also of cutting a rather deep gouge into my shield that I recognized how much danger I was in. Fortunately, the arrival of my fellow knights caused him to flee, but I had never forgotten the night, and had taken the time to learn something of the weapons he had used so efficiently.
Q handed the knives to Seven with a flourish and a short bow, "I believe these are for you," a small smile played about his mouth.
Seven accepted them curiously, and drew one from its black sheath. Gleaming in the light, the dark silvery blade revealed lighter silver and blue highlights as Seven examined it, and was not immediately recognizable as any metal I had seen before. The blade itself was approximately fourteen inches in length, narrow near the guard-less hilt, and then broadening and curving forward, its greatest width near the tip and then slightly recurving and forming the point. The curved weapon was edged only on one side, the inward curving one, while the outer edge had a thick spine capable of blocking all but the heavier of weapons.
As Seven examined it closely, I thought I saw a symbol etched upon the blade, but then she turned the blade and it was gone again. "Milady would you turn the blade more slowly, I believe there is a mark upon it." Seven glanced at me with a raised brow, but did as I asked, and this time I could see it clearly, when the light caught the blade at precisely the right angle the sigil of Mystra, a river surrounded by seven stars, could be seen upon it.
"And as for a teacher, why I've already thought of that," Q said smoothly with a charming smile, and indicated the door to the holodeck, "If you two lovely ladies will just step inside..."
I eyed him dubiously, wondering just what he was planning, however, even though his manner was roguish, I sensed he had no ill intentions. Seven and I glanced at one another, her brow was raised questioningly, and I shrugged, seeing no reason why we should not do as Q asked.
I stepped forward smartly, making sure I was through the doors before Seven entered. Looking around alertly, I examined the environment. We had stepped from the corridor into a clearing, sunlight shone in fitful beams through the dense canopy of trees and tall bamboo onto ferns and other plants I did not recognize. Once the doors had shut the illusion of being surrounded by a jungle was complete.
Movement caught my eye; a man had just stepped out of the jungle into the clearing. His deeply lined face spoke of a life lived out in the sun and weather, the skin almost the color and texture of fine leather. His dark eyes examined us, or rather Seven, for she was the main subject of his interest, as intently as I was examining him.
"This is the one I am to train?" he directed his question to Q.
Q nodded, "Yes she is, U-Thet-Myaing meet Annika Hansen." Q smirked as Seven glared at him, "The ingratitude," he exclaimed, "Here I am serving as but a poor delivery boy, and she looks like she wants to use those knives on me!" Q sniffed self-pityingly.
Seven gave an irritated sigh and turned back toward U-Thet-Myaing, "Annika Hansen was my name before I was assimilated by the Borg, I prefer to be called Seven."
"Very well, Seven. Let us begin your training," he beckoned her forward. "You may lay your kukri on the mats for now," he instructed as Seven stepped toward him.
Once Seven had done as he requested and was standing in front of him he continued, "I will be training you in the Burmese Fighting Art known as Bando, once I am satisfied you have mastered the basics, I will begin training you in the use of the kukri."
"I was trained, however unwillingly, in Tsunkatse, a Delta Quadrant martial art," Seven informed Thet-Myaing.
"Yes, and the stance, blocks and kicks you learned will serve as a good basis for your training, but I will not be teaching you how to strike target sensors on your opponents." He remarked dismissively. "I will be teaching you how to survive and win an encounter where an enemy or enemies have managed to close with you, and intend on capturing or killing you. By the time your training is complete, you will have a decent chance of walking away from such a situation instead of being the one lying dead on the ground, or perhaps even worse, tied up awaiting the tender treatment of your captors." His face was as grim as his words.
I inhaled sharply, that had been one of the reason's I had not been eager to take Seven with me on this search for information, the fear that she might fall into the hands of either Bane or Lovitar's priests.
Seven glanced in my direction, her eyes haunted, and I knew she was remembering the 'tender' treatment I had received. Her face hardened, and she turned back to him, resolve in every line of her body. "Then we should begin my training."
Thet-Myaing's dark eyed gaze was, I thought, judicious, weighing Seven's attitude and determination. When he nodded abruptly, I was not surprised; Seven was not one to shirk away from a duty just because it was dangerous and unpleasant. And besides, in this case it seemed as if there was little choice, either we sought out Bane and Lolth's plans on our terms, or they would eventually be able to seek us out in either plane.
Q placed a hand on my sleeve, and inclined his head, drawing my attention to a trail that lead away from the clearing on our left. After a moment of watching Thet-Myaing and Seven, as he corrected her stance and began going through the first motions of a training kata, I followed Q.
"I believe your time would be better spent doing some training of your own, instead of watching hers," Q commented as we entered another clearing. "Not that I don't doubt you would find that enjoyable," I could hear the sly amusement in his tone, and frowned reprovingly at him.
"This is your knight?" a man's voice came from my right, an older bearded gentleman, his long graying hair tied back, stood there eyeing me doubtfully.
"Champion of Torm, Arana, Milord," I introduced myself with a courteous bow.
He frowned, "I'm no noble, Master-at-Arms, Johannes Liechtenauer at your service, Madam."
My interest was piqued by his title, "I beg your pardon, Master Liechtenauer, for any offense given."
His mouth twitched, "Well she's certainly well enough spoken to be a knight," he commented to Q.
"Oh, yes, courteously spoken, chivalrous, noble, self-sacrificing," Q rolled his eyes, "a true paragon of all the knightly virtues, reminds me of Tyr every time I'm near her."
I was overwhelmed at the compliment, though I knew he did not entirely mean it as such, "Milord Q, you honor me too greatly, I am humbled you would consider me worthy of comparison to My Lord Tyr."
Q's mood turned suddenly heated, "Yes you are, but unlike him you're considerably easier to kill! I'm hoping Master Liechtenauer will increase the chances of you living long enough to find out what Bane and Lolth are up to, and maybe knock some sense into that thick head of yours, your nobility and self-sacrifice won't do anyone any good if it gets you killed." He glared at me, and sharp underneath his outward anger I sensed his concern.
I stared at him, confused both by his outburst and the emotion behind it, "I will do my best to learn all that I can from Master Liechtenauer, Milord," I promised him sincerely, after a heartbeat's hesitation.
"Yes, well," Q appeared to be somewhat embarrassed, but covered it quickly with his usual bantering manner, "I believe you will find these to be of some help in that." Q snapped his fingers and I suddenly found myself dressed in my armor and equipped with my longsword and shield. "Oh, and Arana, time flows differently here, you have five hours until you need to leave." With that tidbit of information he snapped his fingers and disappeared, leaving with the Master-at-Arms.
"Well," commented Master Liechtenauer, "Let's evaluate your level of training shall we?" A huge bear of man dressed in full plate armor stepped out of the forest at these words and drew his sword. "If you would practice with my assistant," Master Liechtenauer requested mildly.
Five hours later, after another brief visit by Q during which he returned my armor to my room and admonished us to return each day for training, Seven and I stepped out of the holodeck, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that we stumbled wearily out of the holodeck. I hadn't been as sore and bruised as I was at this moment for years, and I knew Seven had faired no better. I stretched, wincing as my left shoulder protested the movement vigorously. Much to Master Liechenauer's surprise, I had been able to knock down his muscle-bound assistant on more than one occasion by battering into him forcefully, but doing so had definitely taken a toll on me.
"You are injured," Seven noted in concern.
Noting the stiff way she held herself and the bruising just beginning to show on her left cheek, I raised my eyebrow, "No worse than you, Milady."
Seven stated reluctantly, "We should go to Sickbay."
We stood unmoving, considering the idea of braving Sickbay looking as we did with Captain Janeway and Cmdr. Tuvok present. "Or I could just heal us," I offered tentatively, "Captain Janeway and the others are probably asleep, I would not want to wake them unless it was absolutely necessary." I knew we needed to inform Captain Janeway of the meeting with Tyr and Mystra, and the information we had received, but I didn't feel as if it were a good idea for it to happen so soon after their mission and implant removal. Tomorrow, depending on how they were doing, would be the earliest appropriate time.
"You are correct, we should not disturb them," Seven agreed in a relieved tone. "Shall we proceed to your quarters?" she inquired, glancing at me uncertainly.
"Of course, Milady," I started walking in the direction of my quarters, "Would you like to use the shower in my quarters as well?" I asked.
Seven hesitated a moment, giving me a surprised look that turned thoughtful, "Yes, I believe I would," she agreed.
As soon as we entered my quarters I stopped, gazing curiously at the inset in the window unit that contained my bed. The last time I had been in this room the metal surface beneath the bed had been one unbroken area, now there was what appeared to be a thin drawer that extended the entire length of it. "Curious," I noted going over to it, "I was not aware that any changes were to be made to my room." I pulled on the handle and it slid outward smoothly, revealing the same padded surface as was used for my bed.
I glanced inquiringly at Seven who shook her head, frowning, "I was not aware of any scheduled modifications to your quarters either."
I continued pulling what was obviously an extension out from under my bed, when it was completely extended it swung upward and clicked into place, forming one larger double bed. Seven knelt beside it and glanced underneath, as I watched curiously, she pulled on something under it and a support swung down.
Seven stood, and stared at what was now a double bed, "The design is efficient," she noted approvingly. "Perhaps the Captain authorized the modification after our announcement?" she did not sound very sure of her statement, even as she made it.
I began to reply that she was, most likely, correct, and then stopped. The more I thought about it the more unlikely it seemed, Captain Janeway had given her permission to us, yes, but she hadn't been very enthusiastic about it, concerned that I would not be staying. The only one who had seemed pleased to see us together had been Q, and Tyr and Mystra, who had seemed to take the relationship as an established fact.
"Actually, Milady, I do not think Captain Janeway or Lt. Torres knows about this modification. I suspect it was done by Q." I offered.
Seven's eyebrow winged upward in surprise, then she looked at the bed speculatively, "Q has been very helpful to us." She turned in my direction and winced, reminding me abruptly of the original reason for us coming to my quarters.
"My pardon, Seven, let me take care of your injuries," I stepped up to her hand placed on hand on her cheek, over the bruise there, and the other on her shoulder. Her eyes closed and she turned her face to rest more fully against my hand. A warm feeling suffused my body as I looked upon her face nestled so trustingly in my palm, "Elessa," I whispered tenderly, and felt my entire palm tingle against her skin. Seven's eyes opened startled, her gaze met mine, and she gasped. Whether in surprise at the feeling, at something she saw upon my face, I did not know, or really care at this moment, my attention was focused on the inviting softness of her parted lips. I pressed my lips against hers, enjoying the feel of their fullness against mine, and as she began returning the kiss unreservedly, I did not know if the tingle in my lips was due to the fact I was still healing her or from her effect upon me.
Long moments later, stifling my moan of protest, I pulled reluctantly away from Seven's lips. Caressing her cheek I could see that it was now unblemished, with an unwilling sigh I dropped my hand away from her face. "How do you feel?" I asked her.
A smile grew upon her lips and I blushed, discerning easily the reason for it. As my color increased so did her smile, until at last she took pity upon me, "I do not appear to be damaged anymore." She hesitated, "Arana, I felt something."
"A tingling, or itching sensation?" I grinned, remembering Azan's comment earlier.
"That as well, but not only that," Seven replied, "I believe I felt your emotions for approximately four seconds." Her voice, her eyes, reflected her wonder at the experience.
I drew in a breath, "Oh," I exclaimed softly, I had forgotten about that side effect to healing. "That happens sometimes when the healer and the one being healed have strong feelings for one another."
"You have very strong emotions for me," Seven stated, watching me closely.
I nodded, "Yes I do," I answered simply. I could see the confusion on her face, "I am falling in love with you," now it was my turn to hesitate, "And I believe the emotions I sense from you indicate that you feel the same toward me."
Seven drew in a breath, her eyes, bright with emotion, met mine and she silently nodded. Her hands came up and cupped my face, "When we finish this process of falling in love, we will feel even more strongly about one another?"
"So I understand from all that I have heard and read, though I have never experienced this strong a feeling for anyone before," I admitted.
I could see that Seven was pleased by my answer, "It is difficult to imagine such emotions, but I am interested in experiencing them - for you." Her eyes searched mine for a moment, then she gave me a smile which I returned. I went to cover her hands with my own and winced as my shoulder painfully protested. "You are still damaged," Seven exclaimed as her hands fell from my face and she gently touched my shoulder.
"Yes," I ruefully admitted, "I need to tend to my own injuries, and I believe you wished to take a shower."
While Seven showered, I healed my shoulder and a few other lesser injuries. I was surprised by the loose clothing Seven was wearing when she stepped out of the bathroom. The top was short sleeved, revealing a flat oval shaped implant in her right arm that I had never seen before, and light blue in color, the pants were loose fitting as well and of the same color. I was even more surprised when she insisted that I take a like set in with me to change into after my shower, and it caused me to think that she meant take the invitation Q's modification of the bed made, and sleep here.
Thus, I was not surprised to find that she had made up newly widened bed and was already lying down under the covers upon it when came out of the bathroom. I was just not certain as to what my decision would be, whether to attempt to sleep beside her or insist that I sleep on the floor. Thought much of my thoughts fled at the sight of her laying there, her hair a golden colored halo as it lay loose upon the pillow.
"I have never succeeded at any attempts to sleep since I was separated from the Collective," Seven looked uncertain as she commented, "Perhaps this location and your presence will assist me." I had the impression that she knew that I would object to us sleeping together, but was hoping that she would be proven incorrect.
I suddenly felt rather selfish at not considering why she would want to sleep here, instead of only considering my own comfort, "Of course, if you believe it will help," I replied.
Seven had taken my usual spot, leaving me the side of the bed that was easiest to get out of, I suspected her choice had been purposefully made so that I would not feel trapped, and I appreciated her thoughtfulness. Hesitantly I slid under the covers, and lay down on my back, careful to keep a few inches between us and ordered the lights to dim.
After a few minutes, Seven sighed and I could feel her unhappiness, she sat up and I knew that she was about to offer to leave, "I am sorry, lay back down and let us attempt this again." I entreated her before she could say anything.
In the darkness of the room, I could not make out the expression on her face as she stared at me; "Very well," she finally agreed and slid under the covers once again.
I looked at how she was lying stiffly on her back, "That position is comfortable for you?" I asked her doubtfully. Soundlessly she rolled to her side, still facing me and looked at me inquiringly. I rolled over, mirroring her posture, and moved towards her until my back just brushed against her chest. A bare second later, she closed the gap remaining between us and curled her body around mine, and wrapped her arm around my waist, burying her face into my hair. I resisted the urge to make an appreciative sound at the soft feel of her chest against my back, and how her hips, and her legs pressed invitingly into my body.
"This is comfortable," she whispered in my ear.
I choked back a laugh, it was comfortable, almost overwhelmingly so, but it was also arousing, and I wasn't certain which would win out at this moment.
Sheer weariness was the eventual winner for both of us, and so it was that when the computer brought up the lights and announced the time, it woke both of us from a sound sleep. Sometime during the night, I had sprawled onto my stomach and Seven now rested partially on top of me, her arm over my shoulder, and her hand clasped mine. Her right leg was between mine, and her upper thigh pressed against me rather intimately.
I was startled that being partially trapped as I was had not woken me; years ago I had never been able to allow Alessea to make love to me while I was on my stomach at all, as it tended to cause rather vicious flashbacks. Yet with Seven, though I felt somewhat tense now that I was aware of the positioning, I did not feel threatened by it, or by her. On the contrary, my strongest thought was how achingly aware I was of her thigh where it pressed against me, and how increasingly difficult it was to fighting the urge to press myself more firmly against her.
Thankfully, after a brief hug and a murmured "Good morning," Seven rolled away from me, removing the temptation. "I need to see to the children, we will meet you in the mess hall?" she inquired. Our eyes met, and now I could see that she too had not been unaffected by how intimately we had been lying together when we wakened.
I nodded in reply, and then asked, "We will go to see Captain Janeway this morning or wait until the afternoon?"
Seven frowned, "I will ask the Doctor about her condition and inform you of which is the better time."