STAR TREK: VOYAGER
An Original J/7 Voyager Story
2007 by Patricia L. Givens
Rudbeck's Prize October 2007
Disclaimer #1:This story is an original work of fiction set in the pre-existing universe of Star Trek: Voyager. As such, many of the characters and references used within belong solely to Paramount Pictures. I have borrowed them for the purpose of creating this scenario and promise to return them unscathed, and smiling, as soon as I am done. No gain, monetary or otherwise, is expected from their use and no copyright infringement is intended or should be inferred.
Disclaimer #2:All original characters and storylines contained herein belong to the author. (Like anyone else would claim them! ) This story may be archived upon request with the stipulation that it must be posted exactly as it was written, with all disclaimers intact.
Disclaimer #3:This story depicts a loving relationship between two women. If this bothers you then please feel free to tell me so I can print it out and put it at the bottom of my cat's litter box (He deserves a good laugh too!). If you are under 18, then please share this with a friend (You'll be moving out soon and will probably need the toaster oven). If this is illegal where you live then we have obviously traveled back in time so please don't tell me about it. I hate temporal mechanics…
Who To Blame:Thanks must go out to Ky (Who is now a refugee from the Hyphenated Semi-Colonic Militia), Andrea and aw61 for being my Collective.
This one is dedicated to Rudbeck, because she did win after all… I hope this is true to your ideas.
No naughty Ensigns were harmed during the writing of this story. However, one did get a firm spanking from all the women on the Janeway/Seven Faction…
To all that makes us unique!
"I love you, and because I love you,
I would sooner have you hate me for telling you
the truth, than adore me for telling you lies.
"Regeneration cycle complete."
Seven of Nine stepped down from her alcove in time to see the doors to Cargo Bay 2 slide shut. She cocked her head to one side, a small smile playing about her lips.
"Computer, locate Captain Janeway."
"Captain Janeway is on the bridge."
Seven frowned, a small furrow of confusion appearing on her forehead. She was used to catching the Captain's backside as she left the Cargo Bay right as her regeneration cycle completed. Janeway's habit of standing in the shadows and watching her as she 'slept' was well known to her. It was, in fact, something she found oddly endearing if completely out of character for the staid, by-the-book Captain of the Intrepid Class Starship.
In some ways, the fact that it was so completely out of character made it all the more intriguing and, for lack of a better word, charming.
She had often considered asking the fiery redhead about her propensity to so often end up where Seven herself was, but that would undoubtedly end up leading to one of two scenarios. The first would be that she would embarrass the Captain, something she was loath to do. The second would be the Captain offering her assurances that she was merely checking on her wellbeing out of the responsibility she felt for every member of her crew. And the fact that she was merely another member of the Captain's crew was something she loathed to hear.
Seven sighed. No, it was better just to leave things as they were and enjoy the Captain's presence without her knowing she was aware of it.
Going to her terminal, she accessed her personal agenda for the day, slightly confused to find the board already up and running but then, Cargo Bay 2 was hardly her own private space. Adding a few final details to her planned activities, she shut down the board and headed on her way to Astrometrics.
Captain Kathryn Janeway sat in her command chair listening idly to the chatter on the bridge. Tom was regaling them with yet another tale of Captain Proton while Harry interjected good-natured insults in regards to his friend's performance as the protector of the universe. Chakotay laughed along with them while Tuvok listened in with a vaguely disapproving expression on his face.
Janeway smiled. The conversation wasn't exactly the correct discourse for a bridge crew by Starfleet standards but it wasn't as if much else was Starfleet standard out here in the Delta either. Protocol would survive a little banter here and there.
"So, what do we have on the agenda today, Commander?" She smiled at her first officer.
Chakotay held up a PADD with a grin. "Crew rotations."
"That time of the month again already is it?" She nodded, giving up a sigh of mock weariness. "Well, let's get to them shall we? You have the bridge, Mr. Kim."
Her First Officer followed her into the ready room, accepting her offer of coffee with a nod before folding his large frame into a chair across from her desk. She joined him with her own cup and held out her hand, taking the PADD from him to look over the list of requests as she sipped at the hot beverage, enjoying the slight burn and the bitterness of it as it coursed down her throat.
"These all look fairly standard." She set the cup down as her eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "Except this one. Ensign Rudbeck is requesting a transfer to Astrometrics. Why don't I recognize that name?"
Chakotay thought for a moment. "Rudbeck… ahh… Anne Rudbeck. She was Maquis. Had a talent for communications, if I recall."
"Not according to this." Janeway passed the PADD back to him. "It shows she excelled in astronomy and science at the academy before leaving to join the Maquis. Why do we have her in Maintenance?"
"I have no idea." He looked at the screen with no small amount of confusion. "The aptitude she showed for communications alone should have her on a higher rotation. How did she slip through the cracks?"
The Captain sighed. "Maybe she wanted to slip through them. The fact that both of us needed a moment to remember who she was indicates that she's been a peripheral entity up until now. It could be she has decided to step up and fulfill a bigger roll that she didn't feel she was able to handle before now. Either way, I'm sure Seven would welcome her expertise. Assign her to Astrometrics on Seven's shift and let's see what she can do."
"Aye, Captain." He grinned at her. "You want to tell Seven or should I?"
Janeway drained the last drops of coffee from her mug before throwing him a wry look. "I'll do it. We haven't been arguing much lately. I guess we're overdue. I'll be in Astrometrics."
Seven felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up as the doors to Astrometrics slid open. The corners of her mouth curled into a small smile as she spoke, her hands never ceasing their movement across the data screen. "Captain, is there something you require?"
"Good morning Seven." She could hear the smile in the Captain's voice as she moved to stand beside her. The presence of the smaller woman at her side radiated a heat that seemed impossible for a being so small. "I wanted to talk to you about the duty shift rotations this month."
The Borg stopped and turned to face her. "Yes, Captain?"
"We've discovered that Ensign Rudbeck possesses a high aptitude for astronomy and science and we believe your department will benefit from her assistance."
Seven's face grew solemn. "You believe my efficiency to be inadequate."
Janeway held her hands up. "That isn't what I said, Seven."
"Then why do you deem it necessary to provide me with assistance?"
"You have often stated that Tal Celes did not perform her duties adequately and since she has been reassigned to Biometrics I thought you would welcome another hand to help out."
"I was unaware my performance has been lacking."
Janeway reached out and placed a hand on her arm. "Your performance is exemplary, Seven. But you cannot be expected to run this whole department by yourself. Especially if we've found a crewman that could not only aid in your endeavors but also benefit from the time spent working with you."
"I see." Seven's tone was cool, remote. "How long is this duty rotation to be in effect?"
"For the moment we'll place her here for the standard monthly rotation. Once we see how it works out then we'll make a decision as to whether to assign her here permanently or not."
The blonde turned back to her console, entering the information slightly more forcefully than necessary. "I assume that I am to have no input in this decision."
"Of course your opinion will be taken into consideration, Seven. You are the head of Astrometrics." The Captain gentled her tone. "All I am asking is that you give her a chance."
Seven nodded stiffly. "Of course, Captain. I will do as you request."
Janeway bit back a sigh. For some reason the difference between an order and a request seemed to escape the younger woman. She was about to explain it to her when the doors slid open again to admit the Ensign in question. The Captain looked at her speculatively. She was human, slightly shorter than herself with an athletic build, a thick crop of short black hair and wide, dark expressive eyes.
"Ensign Rudbeck reporting for duty, Captain."
Seven turned to meet the newcomer and felt herself stop cold as her thoughts spun strangely in her mind. "Anne?" She said softly, looking almost as surprised as the Captain did by her use of the woman's given name.
"Hello, Seven." The Ensign gave her a wide, sensual smile, her eyes sparkling with warmth that made the Borg's heart catch briefly in her chest.
Janeway blinked, looking from Seven to Rudbeck and back again. "I take it you two know each other?"
Anne turned her bright smile on the Captain. "Oh, we've seen each other around."
What the hell? Janeway swallowed her confusion and forced a smile. "Well then, I'll let you two get down to work. Seven, meet me in my ready room at 16:00 hours. I'd like to go over your scans of the upcoming sector before the end of your shift."
"Of course, Captain." The Borg said quietly, never taking her eyes off the black haired beauty.
The older woman cast one last look at both of them, feeling something dangerously close to jealousy wind its way down her spine. "As you were then."
Once the Captain had gone, Anne slid up next to the much taller woman, looking up at her through dark eyelashes. "You look wonderful today, Annika."
Seven began to correct Anne's use of her human designation but found that it felt… familiar for some reason. "My appearance has not been altered, Ensign Rudbeck."
The shorter woman smiled at her sensually. "I thought we agreed that we wouldn't worry about titles when we were alone? And just because you haven't changed your appearance doesn't mean you aren't lovely."
The Borg felt her heart rate increase, a reaction that had only ever occurred when she was in the company of one other individual. She found it disconcerting. "Thank you. You… look lovely as well?"
Anne slid her hand down Seven's arm. "I'm glad you noticed."
Seven shivered at the touch. Suddenly she felt the need for some space, as quickly as possible. "Anne, could you take these projections to Lieutenant Torres in Engineering? She has been requesting them."
"Sure Annika. I'll be right back."
When Anne had gone, Seven leaned heavily against her console, trying to get the thoughts racing through her mind under control. Images of the young woman seemed to surface faster than she could process them, all of them becoming increasingly personal in nature. For some reason that she could not fathom, she had been noticing the Ensign for some time and only her close proximity had reminded her of it.
Willing herself to focus solely on the work at hand, she felt the images recede until she could once again concentrate on her spatial scans.
The Ensign was an enigma that would have to wait.
Janeway left Astrometrics sorely vexed. First, Seven had been offended by the addition of Ensign Rudbeck to her department, then she had practically fallen all over herself when the young woman appeared. Ok, falling all over herself was a bit of a stretch but the fact that she knew the woman's first name and seemed to look at her in stark appreciation were both extremely unusual occurrences.
Making her way to the mess hall, she stepped up to the counter. "Neelix?"
The jovial Talaxian smiled broadly when he saw her, setting a mug on the counter that he filled to the brim with coffee. "How are you this morning, Captain?"
"I'm fine, Neelix." She smiled at him. "How are you?"
"Doing well. Just getting the last of the breakfast customers taken care of."
Janeway looked at him thoughtfully. "Neelix, do you know Ensign Rudbeck?"
"Rudbeck… Rudbeck." He scratched his chin. "Short? Black hair?"
"That's the one." The Captain leaned in closer, lowering her voice so that only the two of them would hear. "What do you know about her?"
"Not very much. She's quiet. Keeps to herself a lot."
"Has she ever come in here with Seven?"
"Seven?" He shook his head. "Not that I can recall. Is there something wrong, Captain?"
"No, no, not at all." She patted him on the hand. "Just trying to get to know everyone as well as I can."
"Well, if I hear anything I can certainly let you know."
"Thanks, Neelix, but I'm sure I'll run into her more now that she's no longer in maintenance."
"All right, Captain. Have a good day!"
Janeway took her coffee and headed for the turbo-lift. "Deck Four." She wasn't sure why but her wanderings were taking her directly to Cargo Bay 2. As she neared the doors, she was startled when they slid open to reveal Ensign Rudbeck just leaving.
"Ensign?" She looked at the young woman quizzically. "What are you doing in the Cargo Bay?"
"I didn't mean to startle you, Captain. Annika forgot one of her PADDs and she asked me to run up here and get it for her."
"Annika?" Janeway's eyebrows shot up.
"Oh," Anne looked contrite. "I forgot she prefers that you call her Seven." The young woman held up the PADD. "Well, I'd better get this back to Astrometrics, unless there's something else?"
"No, you're dismissed." The Captain watched her go and then entered the Cargo Bay. Unsure what she was looking for, she went to the console and found it dark. The Alcoves hummed quietly and the rest of the room looked undisturbed but she couldn't shake the feeling that she was missing something.
Frowning to herself, she headed back to the bridge.
Chakotay took one look at her face and raised an eyebrow questioningly. When she inclined her head towards her ready room, he followed her in silence until the doors slid shut behind them. "I take it the conversation did not go well?"
The Captain sat down with a sigh. "Actually, it didn't at first. But when the Ensign showed up, it was like they were old friends."
"Old friends?" Her First Officer couldn't keep the skepticism from his voice. "With Seven?"
"Exactly!" She leaned back in her chair and placed a hand on her forehead. "I don't understand it. It was like all of the fight went out of her as soon as she laid eyes on her."
"Love at first sight?" He blanched at the glare that earned him. "Or maybe not. What do you think is going on?"
"I have no idea. But I intend to find out. Get me all of Ensign Rudbeck's service records, from both the Maquis and Starfleet databases. Something's… off. And I intend to find out what it is."
Seven glanced up as the doors to Astrometrics slid open, her gaze becoming immediately concerned when she saw the unhappiness apparent on her friends face. "Anne?" She reached out and put her fingers under the smaller woman's chin, using them to lift her face, gasping softly when she saw the dark eyes were full of tears. "What is wrong?"
Anne sniffled, her lower lip trembling slightly. "It's the Captain."
"The Captain? What has occurred?"
"She doesn't like me, Annika. She never has."
Seven felt a fierce protectiveness flow through her. "You must be mistaken. Captain Janeway treats all of her crew in a fair and consistent manner."
"Didn't you see the way she looked at me this morning?"
The Borg thought back and truthfully the Captain had seemed a little off with the Ensign.
"I just ran into her on the way back here and she treated me like a bug. I swear, Annika, she's jealous of how close we are."
"Why would Captain Janeway be jealous of our friendship?"
Anne's face became angry. "Because you're her pet Borg! She's apparently the only one that's supposed to have anything to do with you. You don't know what I had to go through just to get her to give me a chance to work in Astrometrics. I studied advanced astronomy at the academy but she had me assigned down in maintenance. Why do you think that is? If Chakotay hadn't gone to bat for me I'd probably still be flushing out plasma conduits."
Seven felt confused. Her thoughts seemed to swim with images of Anne again. After sifting through them, she could find no reason why the Captain would harbor animosity towards the young woman. She was friendly and vivacious, and if she was honest with herself, very pleasant to be around. "You must be mistaken." She was astonished to find herself wrapping her arms around the smaller woman. "I will speak to the Captain on your behalf."
"No!" Anne returned the hug tightly. "That will only make her angrier. I think for the time being our best course of action would be to keep our friendship between us. I don't want to give her any reason to pull me out of Astrometrics. Not now that we are finally getting to work together like we always talked about. Promise me, ok?"
The blonde looked down and felt herself falling into the darkness of the young woman's eyes. "Very well, I will not broach the subject with her for the time being."
The Ensign sniffled one last time and then smiled up at her before standing on her tip toes to kiss her gently. "Thank you, Annika."
The kiss electrified Seven, causing a cascade of images to flood through her mind of them engaging in that same activity before. Bending down, she brought their lips together again, enjoying the feel of the mouth on hers and sighing when she felt a shy tongue reach out to touch her own briefly.
"Now." Anne pushed her away playfully. "We better get some work done or we're both gonna be on the Captain's bad side."
"Agreed." Seven smiled at her and turned back to her work.
Captain Janeway frowned at the PADDs before her. They contained Ensign Rudbeck's entire history, both with the Maquis and on Voyager. They clearly outlined her proficiency in astronomy and communications, including commendations from her professors at the academy for outstanding work before she resigned and joined up with the freedom fighters.
The records of her service to the Maquis before she came to be aboard Chakotay's vessel were rather limited, but contained the same kinds of glowing praise as her Starfleet records did.
Apparently, her abilities and contributions only became muted once she joined the crew of Voyager. From that time forward, there was next to nothing, aside from receiving adequate personnel ratings, up until her request to be transferred to Seven's department.
It was like she was a ghost lost in the machine.
How could both she and Chakotay have missed her potential? It just didn't make sense.
When her door chimed several hours later, she looked up, rubbing her eyes. "Come."
Seven of Nine strode purposefully into the room, coming to stop before her desk where she stood patiently.
"Seven." The Captain smiled. "What can I do for you?"
"It is 16:00 hours, Captain." Seven raised one eyebrow. "You requested my presence to discuss our scans of the upcoming sector."
"Oh, right, I'm sorry. I didn't realize it had gotten so late." She stood and went to the replicator to get a coffee. "Can I offer you something to drink?"
"I do not require liquid refreshment at this…" Her voice trailed off and Janeway turned to see her looking down at the PADDs strewn across the desk. "Why have you accessed Ensign Rudbeck's personnel files?"
Janeway felt her hackles rise. "I beg your pardon?" She said coolly.
"Why are you studying Ensign Rudbeck's personnel files?" Seven looked at her keenly. "I can read upside down, Captain."
"While I am sure that you can, Seven, it is not for you to question my activities regarding another crewmember."
The Borg looked her directly in the eyes, her chin jutting forward slightly. "Even when those activities are inappropriate?"
The Captain moved to stand toe to toe with the angry young woman. "Again, my decision to peruse the Ensign's personnel files is none of your concern. Your behavior is bordering on insubordinate, Seven."
"And your behavior is bordering on harassment!"
"Seven!" Janeway's countenance changed from angry to concerned. "What is wrong with you?"
"I could ask you the same question, Captain. Are you so threatened by my personal interest in Anne that you feel the need to investigate her covertly?"
"Threatened?" Janeway reached out only to be shocked when her hand was batted aside. "Seven what has gotten into you?"
The younger woman looked as though she would become violent for a moment, then all the fight went out of her, leaving her looking very young and very confused. "Captain?" She seemed to fall back slightly. "I do not believe I am functioning correctly."
"I would say that's an understatement." The Captain reached out again, relieved when Seven accepted the hand on her arm. "Come on, we're going to sick bay."
She led Seven quietly through the bridge, shaking her head at Chakotay's questioning glance.
In the turbo-lift, the younger woman leaned on her heavily and the Captain felt herself give into the tenderness she felt for the Borg, reaching up to brush back the strands that had come loose from the normally elegant bun.
She was grateful to find sickbay quiet when they arrived, leaving Seven to rest on a bio-bed as she went into the Doctor's office.
"Captain?" The Doctor looked up at her concerned face from where he sat behind his desk. "What's wrong?"
"It's Seven. She's behaving extremely erratically."
The Doctor glanced out the window, taking in the blonde's confused expression with worry. "What is she doing?"
"She seems to be unusually attached to an Ensign that I just assigned to her department this morning. When I first informed her that the woman would be working with her, she was completely against the idea. But as soon as she met her, she began acting like they were…"
"Involved." The Captain said the word like it left a bad taste in her mouth. "Personally."
"I see." He looked at Janeway thoughtfully. "Is there any chance they might be?"
She pinched the bridge of her nose between her fingers. "I suppose it's possible, but I find it highly unlikely. She was so adamant about not wanting Ensign Rudbeck in her department and then did a complete 180 on the subject. Then there is also her behavior towards me."
"You?" He picked up a medical tri-corder.
"Yes. You know that Seven and I are close." She raised her hands helplessly. "But she attacked me verbally when she found out I was looking into the Ensign's past. It appeared as though she was close to striking out at me…physically."
The Doctor's eyes widened. That was completely out of character for Seven. He was very aware of her affinity for the Captain. At times it almost appeared as though the Borg harbored feelings for the older woman. "Let me do some scans." He walked over to Seven, a carefully pleasant expression on his face. "Hello, Seven. How are you feeling?"
The Borg looked up at him, confusion apparent on her face. "I am unsure, Doctor." Her voice was quiet, small. "I am not operating within my normal parameters." She looked up as Janeway joined them, shame filling her features. "I have been most unpleasant to the Captain."
"Alright." He smiled at her reassuringly. "I'm sure we can figure out what is going on. Why don't you lie back on the bio-bed."
The young woman complied docilely, causing his concern to double. He ran the tri-corder over her entire body, and then localized his scans over her head. "Wait here, Seven."
Janeway followed the Doctor over to his console where he downloaded the information into the computer. His brow furrowed as he read the results.
"What is it, Doctor?" Janeway stepped closer, looking at the scans over his shoulder.
"Seven's cortical node has been hyper-stimulated." He tapped the controls, pointing at the screen. "Look at these memory engrams. It almost looks as though her cortical node has malfunctioned, causing several of them to be stored over the same areas as other memories. It's no wonder she's behaving erratically. Her thoughts must be running all together, conflicting with each other."
"What's causing it?"
"I won't know until I can do further research." He glanced back at the young woman in concern. "I think the best thing for her now is to regenerate. It could help to bring some order to the chaos going on in her mind and it would definitely be better for her cortical processes to be limited for the time being. I would recommend a full eight hour regeneration period while I go over these results." As they rejoined the Borg, he said gently "Seven, there seems to be a discrepancy in your eidetic memory. The Captain is going to escort you back to Cargo Bay 2 where I want you to regenerate for a full cycle while I go over your scans more thoroughly, alright?"
Seven nodded, sliding off the bio-bed and allowing Janeway to slip an arm around her waist protectively. "You will contact me when you know more?"
"Of course." He assured her. "Just go rest for now."
She nodded, walking silently with the Captain until they reached the Cargo Bay. The older woman helped her up onto the dais and reached for the controls, only to have Seven's hand stop her hesitantly.
"Captain… I am… I am…"
"It's alright, Seven." Janeway said gently. "It isn't your fault. We'll figure it out."
The Borg nodded, closing her eyes as the Captain began her regeneration cycle. Janeway stood beside her, looking up at the Borg's beautiful features for several long minutes before she sighed.
She knew what she felt for the young woman went beyond friendship, beyond being her mentor and the fact that she was suffering was more than she thought she could bear.
She would figure out what was causing the problem. No matter what it took.
Seven smiled, sitting up in bed to hold the sheets modestly around her chest. Anne looked up at her, reaching out to run her hands through the Borg's pale mane of hair.
"I love you, Annika."
"I love you as well, Anne."
The smaller woman sighed, sliding out of bed to reach for her uniform. "You know we're going to have problems if we stay here on Voyager. People aren't going to like that we're involved."
"People?" Seven looked at her in confusion. "Why would anyone be concerned?"
"Because you used to be Borg, Annika. None of them can see beyond that. They still think you're some kind of monster. They don't know you the way I do."
"They will adapt."
"Will they?" Anne sighed. "As much as I love working with you, I wonder why the Captain finally allowed it? She has been so against it up until now. I can't help but wonder what her personal agenda is."
"Why do you believe the Captain will be unhappy with the natural progression of our affiliation?"
"Haven't you seen the way she looks at you? She wants you all to herself. She doesn't want to share you with anyone, even as she isn't willing to give you the things you need."
"Captain Janeway has always been very supportive of me." Seven replied, but part of her began to doubt her own words.
"That's what she wants you to believe. But think about it, Annika. Really think about it." She finished dressing and handed the Borg her bio-suit. "Come on, let's go get some breakfast before our duty shifts."
The two of them left the Ensign's quarters, holding hands lightly as they headed for the mess hall. As they were arriving, the doors slid open and the Captain walked out into the hall. She took one look at their linked hands and her face went cold.
"Seven. Ensign." Her voice was like steel. "This behavior is completely inappropriate. I would expect more professional behavior from two officers on my crew." She leaned in closer, her eyes full of anger. "If they wish to remain officers, that is."
"Regeneration cycle incomplete."
Seven stepped down from the dais, her eyes flashing anger as she took in the empty Cargo Bay. "Computer, locate Captain Janeway."
"Captain Janeway is in her ready room."
Seven strode purposefully through the ship, her anger only growing stronger as she entered the bridge. She stalked passed Commander Chakotay, not even looking at him to enter the ready room without announcing herself.
"Seven?" The Captain looked up at her in alarm, her coffee mug halfway to her lips. "Why aren't you regenerating?"
"I discerned your intentions behind assigning Ensign Rudbeck to my department." She said coldly.
Janeway leaned forward in her chair, carefully setting her coffee aside. "What are you talking about, Seven?"
"You assigned the Ensign to my department so that you could then cite Starfleet protocol against Senior Officers becoming involved with subordinate officers as a reason to keep us apart."
The older woman paled. "Is that what you think?"
The Borg straightened, her hands going behind her back as her face took on a look of disgust. "You desire me, and yet you will not allow yourself to act on that desire due to your own adherence to a Starfleet principle wholly irrelevant here in the Delta Quadrant. And yet, even though you will not allow yourself to act, you seek to prohibit my involvement with Anne by placing us in the same situation. I find your actions reprehensible."
The Captain stood, holding on to her patience by the thinnest thread. "Seven, you are not well. You will return to the Cargo Bay and complete your regeneration cycle as the Doctor ordered."
"I am not a member of your crew." The Borg spat. "I have followed your orders only because I chose to, not out of some sense of duty. I owe you nothing and I will not allow your jealousy to dictate the course of my interaction with Ensign Rudbeck."
Without another word, Seven turned and left the ready room.
Janeway moved to follow her and then stopped herself, trying to allow herself time to cool off before speaking with the young woman again.
Seven headed directly to the crew quarters, not stopping until she found herself standing in front of Anne's door. She punched in a code, allowing herself admittance to find the beautiful young woman curled up on the couch reading a book.
"Annika?" Anne stood immediately, walking over to her to cup her face in her hands. "What's wrong?"
"You were correct, Anne. The Captain placed you in my department to then use Starfleet protocol to keep us apart. She will never allow us to be together while we remain on Voyager."
Rudbeck sighed. "What do you suggest we do about it?"
The Borg placed on palm against Anne's smooth, pale cheek. "We should leave this vessel. Immediately."
"How would we do that?"
"I am Borg." Seven looked down at her. "Assemble any items you wish to take with you. It will be simple for me to over-ride the commands on a shuttle craft. Once we are away from Voyager, we can decide where we wish to go."
The Ensign looked torn for a moment, and then her face cleared, a bright smile replacing her worry. "You're right. We need to be together. Let's go."
Captain Janeway stepped out of her ready room, her anger and worry apparent on her face as she slid into her command chair.
"Captain?" Chakotay looked at her in alarm. "What's going on?"
She had just opened her mouth to answer when Harry spoke.
"Captain! We have an unauthorized shuttle launch, bay one."
Janeway stood. "Who is it?"
Harry scanned the vessel, his eyes widening. "It's Seven of Nine and Ensign Rudbeck."
"Seal the bay!"
"I can't, Captain! Seven's locked me out with a Borg encryption code!"
She turned to the view-screen to see the small craft sliding away from them. "Lock on a tractor beam!"
Harry punched his console. "No response!"
Janeway turned back to the screen, watching helplessly as the shuttle went to warp. She looked at Kim.
He shook his head. "They're gone, Captain."
She stared at the empty space in front of Voyager, her heart catching painfully in her chest.
Anne glanced over at the beautiful drone beside her, taking in the pale complexion and console lights reflecting off the implants still adorning her face. "We made it." She said in wonder.
"Yes." Seven's lips curved into a faint smile. "Did you doubt we would?"
"Well, I had my concerns. Captain Janeway can be pretty wily when she needs to be, even if she was idiotic enough to get us stranded out here in this God forsaken quadrant.
Seven felt a momentary twinge of anger at hearing Janeway disparaged in that manner, but it was lost quickly in the feel of the smaller woman's lips against her own. When they broke the contact, she leaned her forehead against the other woman's, asking quietly, "Do you have any thoughts as to a destination?"
Anne looked down at her with her dark, hypnotic eyes. "Oh, I have an idea or two."
Without warning, she pressed a hypo-spray to the Borg's neck, watching in satisfaction as the much larger woman slumped in her chair.
The smile on her face turned into a sneer. "I very definitely have an idea or two."
Janeway stood quietly on the dais of Seven's alcove, her eyes closed as she tried to sort out her thoughts. What the hell had happened? She went through her memories of the past two days carefully, examining every interaction, every nuance of conversation until she thought her head would explode.
Her eyes flew open to find the Doctor standing in front of her. "I was just trying to make sense out of all of this."
"I think I can help." He led her over to the computer console, pulling up his data from Seven's scans. He pointed at the screen. "These are Seven's normal memory engrams." He pressed in another command, causing a second set of readings to overlay the first. "These are the results of my scans. What do you see?"
Janeway bent closer, studying the screen. "The synaptic patterns don't match!"
"No, they don't. I wouldn't even have noticed it except that two of the engrams have the exact same time index. Meaning Seven would have had to be experiencing two distinctly different set of circumstances at the same time."
"How is this possible?"
The Doctor sighed. "All I can come up with is that someone has been feeding false memories directly into Seven's cortical node."
The Captain's head came up. "Something like this happened before; when she downloaded too much information directly from the data banks, throwing her thoughts into chaos!" She turned back to the alcove and started to run her hands over and behind it. Her eyes closed as her hand came in contact with something attached firmly to the back of one of the contacts. Pulling, she ripped out a rectangular box. "A Borg data node."
The Doctor took it from her and connected it to the computer console through an interface that looked as though it had been added for just that purpose. He frowned in anger. "This is how they did it. They falsified memories and uploaded them directly through her alcove. This would have to have been done by someone extremely intelligent. Someone well versed in science-"
"And communications." The Captain ground her teeth. "Ensign Rudbeck."
Anne closed the stasis drawer, sealing Seven's unconscious body inside. With a snarl of disgust, she tore the Starfleet uniform from her body and threw it to the ground before slipping into the comfort of her Maquis uniform.
Moving back to the fore compartment, she sat down in the pilot's chair and accessed the communications array, sending out a signal to the ship she knew was waiting for her several sectors away.
She smiled when the signal was answered and the view screen lit up with a familiar face. "Darius." She greeted.
"Rudbeck." The alien, a member of the decimated race that Seven would have referred to as Species 116, smiled back at her. "Do you have the Borg?"
"Yes, I do."
Darius leaned forward, his eyes glittering with malice. "Is she alive?"
"Alive and in stasis, as we agreed." Anne stared at him in distrust. "Do you have my ship?"
He nodded. "It is prepared, complete with its own quantum slipstream drive. If you do have the Borg and she is alive as promised, meet me at the coordinates I am transmitting to you now. We will make the exchange. You will be back in the Alpha Quadrant before the week is out."
"Acceptable. See you very soon." Rudbeck closed the link and relaxed back into her chair. Everything had gone perfectly. In a week she would be back home, telling everyone who would listen how the stupidity of one woman had caused the loss of Voyager and its entire crew.
"The Klingon's were right." She smiled to herself. "Revenge is a dish best served cold."
Captain Janeway slammed her hand down on the Astrometrics console in frustration. Beside her, Harry Kim jumped slightly, unused to seeing emotional outbursts of any kind from his commanding officer. He had seen her upset before, over the loss of a crewmember, but this all out fury… that was new.
"Are you telling me we can't find anything? Even on long range sensors?" Janeway breathed in deeply, pulling her temper into check. It wasn't Harry's fault that Seven was so good at hiding their trail.
"Not about the shuttle. But I was thinking." He turned to her. "The shuttle is short range; they couldn't be planning on using it to go very far. If Rudbeck is planning to do something… unsavory… to Seven, then she is going to need help. It doesn't matter what memories Seven believes are real, once Rudbeck begins to show her true colors, she will defend herself."
"You think the Ensign planned on meeting up with someone else." The Captain pursed her lips. "That was my thought too."
"What I can do is a wide scan on the upcoming sectors to see if there are any ships holding their position somewhere nearby."
Harry changed the search criteria. "Going over each sector of space is going to take a while."
"And me standing here breathing over your shoulder isn't going to help?" She asked dryly then held up her hand as the Ensign began to disagree. "It's alright Harry. I'll go and see if the Doctor and B'Elanna have been able to get any information off the data node."
She left him in Astrometrics and made her way up to Sick Bay to find her Chief Engineer cussing a colorful streak as the Doctor looked on.
"Problems?" She asked.
"It's the way Ensign Rudbeck had this thing set up. The woman is a rutting genius when it comes to communications. If she wasn't a psychopath, I wouldn't have minded having her working for me." The Klingon motioned towards the screen where the she had the data from the node displayed. "Not only did this thing download whatever she programmed into it, it uploaded a good deal of Seven's memories as well, making it a pain in the ass to determine what is real and what is fiction."
"Why is that important?"
"Because we were hoping the false memories would somehow give us a clue as to where they would be heading." The Doctor chimed in. "But now we're stuck having to check each memory separately to verify which ones are false. It's a painstaking process."
"Can I help?"
B'Elanna glanced at her, wondering how to phrase the next comment correctly. "I think so. You 'know' Seven better than anyone. Maybe if you took a look at some of the memories we've been able to decode so far, you can give us some help weeding out the real ones."
"I can certainly try. Where do you want me to start?"
The Doctor handed her a PADD. "Go over these to begin with. The ones marked with an asterisk are real. If you can verify one, just add an asterisk to it."
Janeway thumbed the screen and began scrolling through the data. Most of the entries were pretty dry. Seven's memories of Astrometics, bits and pieces of her duty shifts, and conversations that seemed benign; then she came across something interesting.
It was Seven's internal musings over the actions of someone else. The thoughts seemed jumbled and disjointed, tinged with what seemed to be almost a sense of longing. Something about being watched and not knowing why it was happening but that the feelings it evoked were strong and positive. She was enjoying the attention and was confused by her own reaction to it. What she was describing seemed like an intense infatuation of some sort. She was pulled to this person, wanting to touch them, wanting to be touched by them. Wanting to know… what her lips felt like?!
Janeway swallowed, flushing slightly as she realized the same thoughts had wandered through her own mind on more than one occasion where the Borg was concerned.
"I think I found something." She handed the PADD to the Doctor and B'Elanna. "That seems rather out of character for Seven don't you think?"
"I should say so," The Klingon frowned. "Let me dig a little deeper into it."
Minutes passed as B'Elanna reconstructed more of the memory engram. When she finally looked up again, the Captain was surprised to see her cheeks were slightly red. The Doctor merely cleared his throat and went back to the other data.
"Uhm," B'Elanna handed the PADD back to her. "No, that one's real."
"Real?" She raised her eyebrows. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, she describes the woman she's thinking about right there." The Klingon seemed to hesitate then sighed. "I don't think Rudbeck could ever be considered a 'fiery redhead with an invigorating glare'."
The Captain paled. "Oh." She accepted the PADD back. "I'll… just move on to another one." But she found herself reading over the rest of the information B'Elanna had translated.
Seven was frustrated over her inability to control her body's responses when the person was near her. Her memories seemed to run in a self-perpetuating loop as she tried to quantify the feelings with external data. Her thoughts ran the gamut from wanting to stand close enough to 'breath in the scent of her hair' to 'the fire that grew exponentially when she touches me'. Through it all were references to the persons command position and sense of duty that seemed to always keep her just out of reach, but close enough to leave her wanting more.
Janeway realized she was holding her breath and released it quietly. Her heart was thudding in her chest and her palms were moist.
Seven thought of her this way?
"I think I have something." The Doctor's voice brought her out of her reverie. "It's a memory of a friendly sector of space."
"Why is that so unusual?"
"Because we haven't reached it yet." He smiled in triumph. "I think this memory was implanted make her choose a trajectory that would take them through that sector."
"Transfer the coordinates to Astrometrics." She slapped her commbadge. "Janeway to Kim."
"Harry, The Doctor is sending you some data. Plug in to coordinates and search that sector thoroughly for any ships waiting out there."
"Understood, give me a few minutes."
Janeway pushed her own curiosity aside to run through the rest of the memories on the PADD. Aside from a few additional entries that could only have been about her, the rest were all about Seven's duties and research activities.
"Go ahead, Mister Kim."
"I found something. There's a ship maintaining its position about a light year from here, on the other side of a small moon. I can't tell the make of the ship, but I did discover one interesting thing about it. It's running a quantum slip stream drive."
The hair on the back of Janeway's neck stood up. "Arturis." She whispered.
"Captain?" B'Elanna was looking at her curiously.
"Arturis. The alien that took Seven and Myself hostage, the one that disguised his ship to look like a Starfleet vessel. His race invented the slipstream technology."
"But he was assimilated."
"Yes, but he did mention that there were a few other surviving vessels out there. And if he hated us enough to get himself assimilated during the course of his revenge…"
"Then others of his race might feel the same way." B'Elanna finished.
"Exactly. Mister Kim, transfer the coordinates of that ship to the bridge, then get up to your station. I'm on my way."
When she reached the bridge, Janeway slid into her command chair. "We have a course that will lead us to a ship maintaining its position a light year from our present location. Rudbeck has a twenty hour lead on us but that shuttle can only travel at warp six. I think we can do a little better. Mister Paris, set a course. Maximum warp. Engage!"
The first four hours went by with excruciating slowness, but when they were only twenty minutes out, Janeway leaned forward in her chair. "Bring us out of warp on the far side of the moon. I don't want whoever is manning that thing to know we're here just yet."
"Do we have a plan of action, Captain?" Tuvok asked calmly.
Janeway smiled. "Yes we do. We just need to find out what their status is when we arrive."
When they finally dropped out of warp, she turned to Kim.
Harry checked his monitors. "Their engines are offline, but their shields are up, as are their weapons."
"Tuvok, I need you to target their shield generators, their weapons, and their core. I also want their outgoing transmission blocked for the time being. I'm going to transporter room one. Have a full security team meet me there."
"Aye, Captain. Ready when you are."
Janeway headed to the transporter room, stopping only long enough to outfit herself with a phaser rifle. She stepped up onto the dais with the waiting security team, slapping her commbadge. "Alright, Tom, you bring us around the moon. As soon as we're in range, fire. Once their shields are down, we're going to transport directly onto their bridge. Arturis was able to operate his ship on his own. We're going to have to hope this vessel is running on a skeleton crew as well. Let's do it."
Janeway held her breath as Voyager came about. She heard the phaser fire faintly and then smiled when Tuvok's voice came over the comm. "Engines, shields, weapons and communications are offline, Captain."
The security team appeared on the bridge of the other vessel, fanning out to cover their position from all directions. There were four members of Species 116 present. One of them turned to her with a sneer on his face as he reached for his phaser.
She leveled her rifle directly at his face, remembering that the chest didn't seem to be the best target. "Try it." She snarled. "I'd rather take you alive, but trust me when I say I won't feel too badly about stepping over your dead body to reach the controls of this ship."
The aliens face fell as he relaxed back into the command chair. "Captain Janeway." The hate in his voice was the only confirmation she needed that they were in the right place. "You are an annoying little being."
"Thank you." She threw him a feral grin. "Let me assure you the feeling is mutual. As I am sure you are aware, your engines and weapons are offline. You are no match for Voyager, no matter what you try at this point. So you have a choice. Help me secure the return of my crewmember and I will release this vessel back to you. By the time you repair it we will be long gone."
"Or, I'll get her back myself and you can spend however long it takes to find the nearest authorities in Voyager's brig after I blow your ship out of the sky."
The alien considered his choices for a few moments. "What do you want me to do?"
Rudbeck checked the computer console. They were only minutes from rendezvous and she hadn't gotten a response to her hails as of yet. She had just started inputting a course change when the computer beeped at her. Smiling, she opened the channel. "Darius. I was becoming concerned. You didn't respond to any of my messages."
"My apologies." The alien smiled back at her through the view screen. "This little moon seems to give off an electrostatic charge of some kind that interfered with our sensors. We had to move off slightly before we received your incoming transmissions."
"So everything is in order?"
"Yes, my dear. You are cleared to dock in our hangar bay. I will have my men waiting for you to take possession of the Borg. Once I am satisfied with her condition, you will take control of your new vessel. It is small but for a trip as short as yours will be, it will be sufficient."
"Excellent." She leaned back, enjoying the feeling of success. "We'll be docking in ten minutes. Rudbeck out."
True to his word, she found the docking bay doors open and she slid the small shuttle inside, unconcerned when the doors closed behind her. She could see a small contingent of well armed security in black uniforms waiting for her as she set the vessel down.
Opening the outer door, she stepped down, the grin on her face fading when she found herself face to face with Captain Janeway, who was holding a pulse rifle trained on her midsection.
"Ensign Rudbeck." Janeway's smile was broad, but nowhere close to friendly. "How good to see you again."
"Wish I could say the same." She spat. "For a stupid woman, you have an inordinate amount of luck."
"It didn't take luck to find you, just a crew that takes care of its own." She motioned to Tuvok, who had transported over with his full security team. "Take her into custody. I want her transported directly to the brig. Post a four man detail on her around the clock."
Brushing past the irate Ensign, she hurried into the shuttle, frantically searching for Seven. The Borg was nowhere to be seen. Moving to the aft section, she opened the stasis drawer, letting out a long sigh of relief when she found Seven inside. She looked up at the Vulcan with a grin. "She's alive. I'm going to transport the two of us to sick bay. Stay only as long as you need to disable the ship fully. I don't want this vessel moving for at least a week."
Tuvok nodded. "An hour should be sufficient."
The Captain tapped her commbadge. "Janeway to Voyager, two to beam directly to sickbay."
The Doctor muttered in frustration as he stepped around Janeway to continue his scans. The Captain had refused to budge from Seven's side since they had arrived. "She is in perfect physical health." He closed the tri-corder. "The sedative Rudbeck gave her should wear off in an hour or so. The effects of the implanted memories are a different matter."
"How so?" Janeway looked at him in concern.
"They can't be removed the same way they were placed, there's been too much cross contamination. We're going to need to work Seven through this situation slowly by getting her to recognize which of the memories are real and which are false."
"Any suggestions on how we do that?"
"When she wakes up, she is going to be angry. She will still consider herself in love with Ensign Rudbeck. I think that you would be the best choice to try and reach her. You have the most experience with her on a social level. Plus, you seem to occupy a deeper place in her memories than the rest of us. But you will have to be patient. She isn't going to like you much at first. I also think it would be best if she undergoes a full eight hours of regeneration before you begin. With the data node disabled, it may help her own memories to move closer to the surface." He looked down at the prone form. "I suggest you transport her there now, we should be able to stand her in her alcove and once the cycle begins, the unit will do the rest."
"Agreed." Janeway escorted a small security detail to the Cargo Bay to meet the transport. Between the three officers, herself and the Doctor, they got the Borg on her feet and engaged her alcove. She ordered two of the detail to stand guard outside of the bay and dismissed the others.
Alone with the Borg, she stood quietly, taking in the beautiful features of the woman she had come so close to losing, for the first time allowing herself to feel the emotions she had held in check for the last two days.
She had been content to live with wanting Seven, with quietly offering her support and friendship to the young woman as she rediscovered whom she was. But now that she knew her feelings were returned…
With a sigh she lowered herself onto the steps of the alcove. Leaning back, she closed her eyes and, without meaning to, drifted off to sleep.
"Regeneration cycle complete."
Seven of Nine opened her eyes looking around in confusion. The lights were too bright… the room too large. Cargo Bay Two? Voyager?
She stepped down from her alcove, almost tripping over the form at her feet. Glancing down, she took in the sight of the Captain in full uniform, sleeping on the steps before her. For a moment, her thoughts whirled in chaos. Images of Anne sped through her mind but they were interspersed with other images and feelings as well. They were very strong and left the Borg feeling torn between anger and longing. She knelt down to study the face of the woman sleeping before her.
Janeway blinked, her eyes full of sleep, a beautiful smile gracing her lips as she stared up at the face above hers. "Seven."
The Borg swallowed. That smile… She shook her head. "Why have you returned me to this vessel? What have you done with Anne?"
The smile disappeared as the older woman rose to her feet. "She's in the brig."
Seven drew herself up to her full six feet, her chest swelling in anger. "Why?"
"She kidnapped you, Seven."
"She did not. I went with her willingly. If you believe her proper place is in the brig, then that is where I belong as well."
Janeway stepped closer. "No, it isn't." She laid her palm on the Borg's arm, gratified to see a small tremor travel through Seven's body. "What do you remember after you left the ship?"
"Anne and I evaded your tractor beam and engaged the warp engines. I thought I had succeeded in masking our warp trail. Apparently I failed."
"Oh no," She smiled. "You succeeded in that part of your adventure. Go on."
"We were sitting together and I inquired as to whether she had any thoughts as to a destination. She replied that she 'had an idea or two'."
Seven's forehead furrowed in confusion and she shifted uncomfortably. Her voice was soft when she responded. "I recall nothing else until I awoke here, in my alcove."
"Do you know why?"
The Borg's memories shifted to an image of Anne coming closer to her, of soft lips touching her own. There was the impression of a hand coming towards her quickly. Unconsciously, her own came up to cover a spot on her neck. "Something…"
"Yes." Janeway looked at her gently. "She injected you with a sedative. That's why you don't remember."
For a moment, Seven looked lost. Then her eyes cleared and she glared at the older woman. "I do not believe you. Anne loves me. She would not have done such a thing. You would say anything, to keep me aboard this vessel."
"Seven, do you remember the conversation we had when we first met?"
"I demanded that you not engage us in further irrelevant discourse."
The Captain smiled. "No, not when I met the Tertiary Adjunct to the Unimatrix Zero One. I meant when I met you."
"We were in the brig. I had betrayed you." She blanched slightly. "I informed you that I would betray you again. To which you responded 'I've met Borg who were freed from the collective. It wasn't easy for them to accept their individuality, but in time they did. You're no different. Granted, you were assimilated at a very young age, and your transition may be more difficult, but it will happen.'"
"I inquired if I would become autonomous, independent. You said that you 'hoped' so. I asked if, once that had happened, you would allow me to return, should I choose it. You said 'I don't think you'll want to do that.'"
"Was I wrong, Seven?" She slid her hand up to the Borg's bicep. "Do you want to return to the collective?"
Seven looked down, replying in a small voice. "No."
The Captain nodded. "And do you remember when you downloaded too much information into your cortical node and you thought that we were all conspiring against you?"
This time Seven actually flushed in shame. "Yes."
"I asked you to trust me. Did you regret doing so?"
"All I am asking, Seven, is that you trust me once more, just long enough to let me present my case to you; long enough to allow me to show you all the evidence we have against Ensign Rudbeck."
"And if I still wish to leave with her?"
Janeway smiled. "I don't think you'll want to do that."
Seven studied the small woman before her, her emotions and memories fighting against themselves. She began to deny the request, only to stop short as she recognized the smell of lavender emanating from the Captain's body. It was a scent that was attached to many of the memories she was trying to work through. "Present your evidence." She said tersely.
The Captain reached out to the console behind her to grab something and hold it up. "You know what this is."
The Borg nodded. "It is a data node, but it has been altered in some fashion."
"Yes, it has been fitted with an interface that allows it to be connected with a Starfleet data terminal. Rudbeck used it to design and download false memory engrams directly to your cortical node through your alcove."
Seven's eyes widened slightly. "That is not possible."
The Captain handed it to her. "Check it for yourself."
The younger woman took it over to the computer, her eyebrows rising as she saw the two connected perfectly. "This proves nothing."
"Run the program."
"No," Seven stepped back. "You are lying. You have created this node to deceive me."
"How would I do that, Seven?" Janeway held her hands up. "Communications isn't my area of expertise. Ensign Rudbeck's is."
The Borg looked down at the node suspiciously and then activated it, her confusion as to its contents apparent on her face. "Anne has no reason to do such a thing."
"You just recited to me from memory when you and I first met. Tell me, can you do the same thing regarding Anne Rudbeck?"
Seven focused hard on her memories of Anne, but they all seemed to swirl together, colliding with each other in a fashion that made it impossible for her to discern the specific moment when she had first encountered her.
Janeway slid her arm around the Borg, steadying her, fairly certain Seven wasn't even aware that she was swaying slightly.
"When we caught up to the shuttle, it was docked in the bay of a very specific type of ship, one with a quantum slipstream drive that was manned by four members of Species 116."
"Species 116… the same species as Arturis?"
"Yes." She looked directly into the deep azure eyes, trying to convey her honestly through that connection. "You were in stasis, where Rudbeck placed you after she drugged you."
"That is not logical. Anne loves me. She has to be aware of the situation that occurred the last time we encountered Species 116. Why would she take us there?"
"According to their captain, Darius? She was going to trade you for a shuttle outfitted with a slipstream drive. She was going to trade you for a way home."
"For what purpose did this Darius wish to acquire me?"
Janeway swallowed back the bile that had immediately risen in her throat. "It was his intention to exact his revenge from you, Seven. I recorded his confession. His intent was to remove your implants, one by one, while you were conscious and when there was nothing left but your human components, he intended on keeping them in stasis, until he could find a way to return them to the collective, so that you could be assimilated all over again."
Seven paled, her hands beginning to shake. "No. Anne loves me. She would not give me to an individual who wished to perform such atrocities upon me."
"We caught up to Darius' ship and disabled it, Seven. We have logs of the entire event that you can examine. You will see that I am telling you the truth."
"Show me these logs."
Two hours later, Seven looked up. The logs were real, as far as she could tell and the amount of precision necessary for falsifying them would have been staggering.
But how could it be true?
"How did you know where to look for us?" She asked.
"The Borg data node. B'Elanna, the Doctor and I went through every bit of data on it. It was a big job. Rudbeck deduced that it would take us longer to find anything of value on it if she downloaded your real memories into it to tangle up with her false ones, but eventually we found an engram containing information about a sector of space that we hadn't even visited yet. I assume she put it there to make you more apt to go in that direction. Once we had the coordinates, it was easy to scan that area and find the ship waiting for you there."
"I wish to see Anne."
Janeway gave her a long careful look before finally nodding. They exited the Cargo Bay, the two security officers following them closely to take up their positions outside the brig. As soon as Seven stepped inside, Anne stood up from the bench and came to the edge of her cell, stopping just shy of the force field that held her there. "Annika!" She placed her hands over her heart. "Oh thank god. I thought she had done something awful to you."
Janeway rolled her eyes, using all of her formidable will power to keep herself from dropping the force field and knocking the woman senseless. "Tell her."
"Tell her what?" Rudbeck growled at Janeway. "That you can't stand the idea that she could care for anyone but you? That it drove you so crazy you followed us, disabling our shuttle and knocking her unconscious when she tried to keep you from hurting me? She was going to kill me, Annika! She would have shot me right then if Tuvok hadn't stopped her."
Seven stared at the young woman. "Why did you take me to Species 116, Anne?"
"Species what?" The black eyes filled with tears. "Oh, Annika, they're brainwashing you. I don't know anything about a Species 116. All I know is that we wanted to be together and she couldn't stand it."
The Borg raised her hand slowly, extending it towards Anne. Then she dropped it and looked at Janeway, her face contorted with emotions she did not understand.
"That's enough." The Captain growled. She motioned to one of the security guards, whispering something in his ear. "Seven, go with Ensign King. I'll catch up."
Seven allowed herself to be led away, leaving Janeway to glare at Rudbeck, who began to smile as soon as the Borg had left the room. "Nice try, Captain."
"Why are you doing this?" Janeway paced outside the cell. "You've been caught and while you may be able to play on Seven's fragile state of mind, you're never going to convince me or any other member of this crew to allow you to get near her again. You've lost. Why won't you let her go?"
"Why?" Rudbeck laughed, her voice cruel. "None of this was really about her, although I can't say I care much for the Borg bitch. But she matters to you, and that I do care about. I may not be able to use her to get what I want, but I can make sure she never trusts you again." She sat down casually on the bench, drawing one leg up comfortably. "You might be able to fool the rest of this crew, Janeway, but you don't fool me. I've watched you. The way you act when you're around her, the way you look at her. The way you endangered us all to go after her when the Borg Queen came and took her back to where she belonged. Your interest in Seven goes way beyond being a mentor. You love her. Losing her trust, her closeness… it pains you. I can feel it… rolling off you in waves. I may not ever be able to kill you, but if you think I'm going to give up any chance I might have to hurt you, you're stupider than I thought you were. She'll want to come and visit me. If you deny her that right, then she will assume I am telling her the truth. I win. If you let her, I will take every opportunity I have to ensure she continues to hate you. I win. Face it, Captain," She sneered. "You've lost her."
Janeway studied the woman for a moment, her face composed. Then a smile slowly appeared on her lips.
Rudbeck flinched, suddenly realizing that she had been very, very foolish.
The Captain turned to the young man at the console behind her. "Did you get all of that, Ensign?"
"Yes ma'am." He smiled. "Recorded every word."
Janeway faced her again. "You know, in all my years in command, I have found one thing to be true. Love and hate, they may be at the opposite ends of the spectrum as far as emotions go, but they both have a tendency to trip you up when you indulge in them. You're inability to resist taunting me, goading me… that was your hate talking. And I knew I could get it to say so much more than you wanted to. Thank you."
Without another word she left the brig, the sound of Ensign Rudbeck's anger propelled body bouncing off the force field was music to her ears.
Seven stared down at the PADD in her hand. She had watched Anne unknowingly confess three times and each time it had cut through her like a knife. She refused to cry, but her jaw twitched where she ground her teeth together to keep the emotions from overcoming her. "I have been foolish."
Janeway joined her on the couch in her own quarters. She had requested Seven be taken there from the brig so that they could talk in a private environment. "Seven, it wasn't your fault. Rudbeck manipulated you. She messed with your mind… you aren't to blame for any of this."
"That is not what I was referring to, Captain."
"Allowing myself to believe that anyone could come to care for me in such a manner was foolish. I am Borg. That is all anyone ever sees."
The Captain felt her heart break. If she only knew… "Seven, that's not true. You are a wonderful, incredible woman. I'm so sorry that she put you through this."
Seven looked down. "Captain, it is late. You must sleep. I wished to ask if I could impose upon your hospitality just this once. I have no need to regenerate and the thought of spending the next several hours in the cargo bay, where people can come and go at will… is not appealing."
"Of course you can stay here. In fact, I would prefer it." She went to the closet in her bedroom and pulled out a blanket and an extra pillow. "Just make yourself comfortable on the couch and if you feel the need to talk, about anything, please wake me. I know how hard this must be."
"Thank you. Goodnight, Captain."
She laid her palm briefly on Seven's cheek. There were so many things she could say at that moment. And every one of them scared her to death. "Good night, Seven."
Three hours later, Janeway sat up in her bed. No matter what she tried, she could not get her mind to shut off. She was consumed by thoughts of the woman who was currently occupying her couch and while most of them were sincerely concerned with Seven's welfare, she had to admit that several were also startlingly lascivious.
Slipping from her bed, she quietly made her way over to the open doorway, thinking she would just look in on the Borg, to see if she had fallen asleep or if she needed anything. What she saw made her heart lurch painfully.
Seven was sitting on the couch, the blanket clutched between her hands, her shoulders trembling as she cried softly. She didn't look up as Janeway came to sit beside her, but she did move away when she tried to place an arm around her shoulders.
"Seven, what's wrong?"
"Captain," The Borg would not meet her eyes. "I must request your permission to leave Voyager."
"What?" It came out louder than she intended and she immediately gentled her tone. "What are you talking about? After all this, after everything I've shown you, you still wish to leave with Rudbeck?"
Seven raised her chin. "I do not wish to go anywhere with Ensign Rudbeck. You misunderstood me. I am merely requesting a shuttle so that I may leave the ship… alone."
Janeway was floored. "Why would you want to do that?"
The blonde pointed to the Borg data node which was laying on the coffee table, still attached to a PADD. She had apparently been going through all of the information it contained.
"What about the node?"
"It contains my real memories and thoughts as well as the ones implanted by Ensign Rudbeck."
"Yes it does. Why does that matter?"
Seven looked out the window. "Because you know." She drew in a long, shuddering breath. "As does the Doctor and Lieutenant Torres."
The Borg finally met her eyes and Janeway saw the longing she had witnessed in Seven's memories reflected back at her. "Oh." She whispered. She took the younger woman's hand in her own. "Seven, listen to me…"
"No, please." Seven pulled her hand away and stood. "You do not have to respond. I know what you must think of me. You have offered me nothing but kindness and friendship and I have had the audacity to want for more. More that you are not able to give. It was one thing for me to remain silent, it is another for me to live with your silence. It is an unavoidable eventuality that you will tire of my infatuation and separate yourself from me entirely. I cannot stay here and be faced with that outcome, wondering when it shall actually occur. It is better that I leave Voyager, now, then have you ever look on me with pity."
"Seven, sit down."
Something in the Captain's voice caught the younger woman, tore through the anguish she was feeling and drew her back. When she was seated, Janeway took her hand again.
"Listen to me." Janeway swallowed, not knowing where to even begin. If she had her way, she would never begin, but Seven needed honesty, and she was going to get it. "It is true, that initially my only desire was to return your humanity to you, to watch you blossom into who you are now. But my feelings towards you have been changing for quite some time. When I look at you now, I don't see the Borg drone that you were or even someone that needs my help any longer. When I look at you now, I see an incredibly beautiful, intelligent woman. When I look at you now, I see someone that fills me with the wonder she has for everything around her." She allowed her fingers to stroke slowly over across the inside of Seven's palm. "When I look at you now…"
The Borg's attention was complete; every fiber of her being hanging on whatever words fell from the Captain's lips next.
Janeway sighed. "When I look at you now, I see someone that I have come to love, as more than a member of my crew, as more than a friend. I see someone that I want to have in my life, in my heart… in my arms." Slowly, she moved closer, not stopping until their faces were so close she could feel Seven's breath on her cheek. When the younger woman did not move away, she closed the space, pressing her lips against the full ones that opened in surprise.
Not hesitating, she reached out and slipped her hand around the back of the Borg's long, elegant neck, pulling her closer until she could wrap her arms around her. She felt the lips beneath her own open and slid her tongue hesitantly inside, tasting the warmth of Seven's mouth as she moaned softly. When she pulled away, the younger woman was staring at her with wide eyes, a look of shock on her face as she brought her fingers up to touch her lips.
"No, Seven. I don't want to be your Captain right now. Right now I want to be your Kathryn. I want you to be my Annika."
"You wish… for us to be together? For us to… copulate?"
Janeway laughed softly. "I wish for a lot of things from you, but I don't want to copulate. I want to touch you and be touched by you. I want you to kiss me until I can't stand not having your hands on me. But for right now, I'll settle for hearing you call me by my name."
"Kathryn." Seven whispered before pulling the smaller woman against her to take possession of her lips once more. Leaning backwards, she pulled them both down onto the couch, reveling in the feel of the body lying on top of her. Kathryn's lips were possessive, demanding and she felt herself answering that demand with needs of her own. She listened intently to the small noises of pleasure that surrounded her, surprised to discover that many of them were her own.
Bringing her hands up, she moved them across the strong shoulders before sliding down the elegant back hesitating at the swell of the Captain's hips. When the older woman made no move to stop her, she continued, sliding her fingers around the smooth buttocks, pulling against them, feeling the legs tucked between her own pressed harder into her center.
"Seven, stop." Kathryn pulled her lips away, her breath coming in harsh gasps as she tried to control the desire burning through her. "This doesn't have to be tonight. You've been through a lot and I don't want you to regret this later. I just wanted you to know that there will never come a time when I will turn away from you, or look at you in pity. I love you, Seven. I have for a while now and that isn't going to change."
"Kathryn," The Borg raised her hand to run her fingers across Janeway's lips. "Have you ever been informed that you are far too loquacious?" Before she could respond, Kathryn found herself pulled back down, with Seven shifting slightly to allow their bodies to press together more fully. "If I had but known how you truly felt, there would have been no amount of trickery that could have persuaded me to go with Rudbeck. My feelings for you are not new, nor are your advances unwelcome. I wish to do more than merely whisper your name."
Whatever reasonable protests she had been about to utter disappeared as Seven's hands began to explore the rest of her body, sliding up her waist to brush against the sides of her breasts. "If we're going to do more than talk, I can think of a better location."
With a bright grin, the Borg stood, picking her up in the process. Without hesitating, she moved them both into the bedroom where she laid her down carefully and proceeded to remove the biosuit that clung lovingly to her every curve.
Janeway watched in rapt fascination as inch after inch of smooth pale skin emerged. Seven's body was marked by implants in several locations and three bands of metal encircled her waist, but Kathryn thought that she had never seen a more beautiful woman in her life. She untied the belt at her own waist and allowed the robe to fall open. She hadn't worn anything to bed that night and she wondered vaguely if part of her hadn't been hoping that something like this might happen.
When Seven slid onto the mattress, she felt goose bumps raise on her skin, felt her heart beat quicken and a very noticeable ache begin between her legs.
The Borg wasted no time in sliding up against her, slipping her hands inside the robe to brush it back off her body. When they were pressed tightly together, a low sigh escaped from her lips and she merely laid there for a moment, thoroughly enjoying the feel of the warm body she held against her own.
"Seven?" Janeway whispered softly. "Are you alright?"
"I am fine, Cap… Kathryn. I am better than fine. What is better than fine?"
"Yes, I am wonderful."
The Captain laughed. "You certainly feel wonderful."
"I do?" Seven looked up at her, her uncertainty plain in her eyes.
"Yes, you do; the way your skin feels so smooth, like silk." She brushed her fingers down the elegant spine. "The fullness of your breasts…" She brought her hands around to cup them, her pupils dilating as she stared at the rosy nipples before her. Leaning forward, she caught one between her lips, her teeth grazing over it softly as she pulled it deeper into her mouth.
Seven's body went rigid, her entire being focused on the sensation of the Captain's tongue swirling against her. Instinctively, she spread her legs, one of them falling snugly between Kathryn's thighs, earning a slight pause in the motion of her tongue and a soft 'oh' from the contact.
Seven pressed into the warmth on her thigh, gratified when Janeway sighed in pleasure and began to suckle her again. She moved her leg slightly, noting that the hips beneath her moved with her and the skin on her leg became slick with moisture.
Desire exploded within her and she rolled them over, bending her knee so that Kathryn was sitting directly upon it. The older woman leaned back, her fingers closing on the nipple she had released from her mouth as she began to rock gently back and forth. Reaching up, Seven carefully captured both of Janeway's already swollen nipples between her own fingers, rolling them carefully as Kathryn was doing to hers, the noises they were both making pushing her passion further and further until she was sure she would die from the sensations flooding her body.
When Kathryn shifted to press her knee between the Borg's legs, Seven closed her eyes, bright pinpoints of light playing behind the lids as she felt her own hips begin to press upwards. Each movement seemed to make the need for the next even greater, each sensation leading to another and then another until she sat up and grabbed Kathryn, catching her lips in a hard passionate kiss as their bodies continued to move against each other.
Everything was soft, smooth, her muscles slick with sweat, both her own and Kathryn's and a heady scent of lavender and something else, something musky and sweet, reached her nostrils, causing them to flair as a low growl began to emanate from her throat. The growl intensified, becoming a moan of ecstasy as her body began to shake. "Kathryn!" she cried out, feeling the other woman's body began to shake as hers did. They pushed into each other wildly, their tongues tangling together deliciously as a wave of euphoria passed through her, followed by a heated release she had never experienced before. It was all consuming, making her tremble violently, every muscle in her body going rigid as Kathryn's did the same.
They hung together in that precious moment for what seemed like an eternity before tumbling backwards into the bed, the sheets tangled around them, hot and damp from their exertion.
They lay together, panting quietly, trying to gather enough breath to speak.
"Kathryn…" Seven finally whispered her voice thick with emotion. "That was… an orgasm?"
Janeway laughed softly. "I certainly hope so. I know mine was." She laid her head on the Borg's ample chest, listening to the heavy beat of her heart in wonder. "I was right."
"You are wonderful." She kissed the smooth skin beneath her lips, the saltiness of it leaving her wanting more. Tentatively, she slid lower, her tongue slipping between the metal bands on Seven's abdomen lovingly. She caught the scent of arousal that carried up to her from between the Borg's legs and her mouth began to salivate. It was such a lovely scent, light and clean, slightly metallic. Suddenly she wanted nothing more than to lose herself in it and slid further down until her breasts rested comfortably between Seven's legs. She nuzzled her face into the thin patch of pale, fragrant hair, enjoying the way it tickled her cheeks, before moving even lower to kiss the top of her cleft.
The essence she picked up on her lips was heavenly. It was thicker than sweat, slicker, slightly salty and yet so very… Seven. Sighing, she parted the Borg's folds with her lips, finding the swollen bundle of nerves with her tongue.
Seven groaned loudly, her head pressing back into the pillow as her human hand tangled in the auburn hair she so loved. She dug her Borg enhanced fingers into the bed as the Captain's tongue quickened. All of her senses seemed to go into overload. What she had felt before, what had seemed to so totally take command of her entire body, was nothing compared to the sensations Kathryn was evoking with the slow, simple movements of her tongue.
Janeway took her time, knowing Seven would come quickly and she wanted to savor the taste of the flesh in her mouth for as long as possible. When the thighs beneath her began to tremble, she wrapped her arms around them, using her strength to hold them open as the younger woman began to shake. A low moan began above her and rose in its intensity as Seven's body reached its limit and waves of pleasure pushed her over the edge. Moisture flooded against Janeway's lips and tongue and she groaned in pleasure at the taste of it, staying where she was to lap at the juices languidly until she heard a quiet voice from above her.
"Please…" Seven whispered.
Knowing it was enough, she climbed back up the glorious body to wrap the weeping woman in her arms. Kissing away her tears, she smiled. "How do you feel?"
"Loved…" The Borg took Kathryn's face between her hands and stared directly into her eyes. "I love you, Kathryn."
Janeway smiled. "I love you, Annika."
Captain Janeway sat in her chair at the conference table, trying her hardest not to look at the woman across from her. Everything felt normal, unless she looked at her. When she did that, she felt the heat from those bright blue eyes threaten to immolate her and now was not the time for it.
The entire senior staff had been talking heatedly for the last hour and they were no closer to a solution to their dilemma.
"All right." Janeway held up her hand, causing all those present to fall silent. "We need to figure out how we are going to deal with this situation, so first let's decide what we are going to enter into the official records. Tuvok?"
The Chief of Security stood. "Ensign Rudbeck is guilty of inciting insurrection, false imprisonment of an Officer assigned to a Starfleet vessel, of slave trading, of the willful endangerment of Voyager as a whole and Seven of Nine in particular, and of conduct unbecoming a Starfleet officer. Any one of these crimes, once proven, would be cause enough for a Court Martial, were we in the Alpha Quadrant."
"What difference does it make what quadrant we're in?" B'Elanna asked hotly. "Alpha or Delta, the bitch is still guilty."
"Settle down, Lieutenant." Janeway looked at the Klingon pointedly. "There is no question as to Ensign Rudbeck's guilt. Her crimes have been verified and will be entered as official immediately. The problem we're facing is what to do with her."
"Any one of her crimes would earn her a life sentence in a Federation Penal Colony." Tuvok continued. "That she is guilty of all of them, coupled with the fact that she was well aware of the fate Seven would have suffered at the hands of Species 116, brings into play the question of Capital Punishment."
"Death?" Janeway raised one eyebrow. "You're talking about putting a member of this crew to death, Tuvok?"
"The death penalty is not something I have ever been in agreement with, Captain. I am merely presenting all of the avenues available as punishment."
"Well," She shook her head. "I am not about to put someone to death, not without the input of the Admiral's Council and Starfleet approval."
"Then what?" Chakotay asked. "Keep her confined to the brig for the next thirty or forty years until we get home? That smacks of cruel and unusual punishment to me."
"Which is what she deserves!" Tom Paris looked at the First Officer, his disdain clear on his face. "She was going to sacrifice Seven to those butchers just to get herself home a little faster. Cruel and unusual suits me just fine."
Inwardly, the Captain agreed with Paris. Outwardly, she sighed. "We don't have the facilities to incarcerate her indefinitely. Not to mention the drain on the ships resources and personnel to guarantee she stays put. I don't even want to think about the problems she could create should she gain support for her plight as the poor mistreated crewmember. Or, god forbid, she should ever find a way to escape from the brig."
"So we're back where we started." The Doctor pointed out. "What do we do with her?"
Janeway looked across the table. "Seven? The Borg looked back at her and the Captain was gratified that she had curtailed the heat in her gaze, at least somewhat. "You've been awfully quiet. This matter concerns you most of all. What are your thoughts?"
Seven looked at each of the senior officers in turn. "I admit that I am angry with the Ensign's actions. And while I feel that, as the victim of her crimes, I should be removed from having a say in her dispensation, I will offer my thoughts as you have asked for them. The logical course of action would be to terminate her life signs. It would remove any further threat she may pose to this ship or this crew." She took a deep breath. "However, I find that I am not comfortable with the idea that her death would have occurred because of her actions against me."
"So what would you suggest?"
"In my study of Starfleet historical data, I came across one other situation that was somewhat similar to our own. In 2267, Captain James T. Kirk came into contact with a criminal known as Khan Noonien Singh. This individual had fled from crimes he had perpetrated during the Eugenics Wars, which occurred in the latter years of the twentieth century. He had stolen a ship, renamed it the Botony Bay, and placed himself, and eighty-four of his followers into suspended animation. Twelve of the stasis units failed during the three hundred year journey and when Captain Kirk boarded the Botany Bay, his presence triggered the stasis unit holding Khan. However, due to its age there was a malfunction, making it necessary for Kirk to revive him completely to save his life. As the Botany Bay was not a documented ship and the records of twentieth century Earth were fragmented, Kirk was initially unable to discern the true identity of the man he had saved or his crew. He invited Khan to join them, and took the Botany Bay in tow, leaving the 72 sleepers in stasis for disposition when they reached Starbase 12. Along the way, Khan won the affections of the Enterprise librarian, a Marla McGivers. Khan persuaded her to help him revive the remaining members of his crew at which time he staged a coup and took control of the ship. When Kirk refused to join Khan in his quest to create a new colony, he meant to put the Captain to death, but McGivers betrayed him and released Kirk, who then disabled them with the use of an anesthetic gas. By this time, Captain Kirk had discovered that the individuals were in fact genetically created beings known as Augments. Kirk felt that rehabilitation was impossible for them and that incarceration would serve no purpose. Instead he gave them the choice of being settled on Ceti Alpha V, a dangerous but habitable world that Khan chose over the prospect of facing Starfleet justice and a lifetime in a penal colony."
The entire table was silent for several moments as they absorbed her words. Finally, Janeway spoke. "Exile. That's what you're talking about isn't it? Banishing Rudbeck to a world somewhere here in the Delta Quadrant?"
"Yes." Seven returned her look evenly. "Ensign Rudbeck has made her desire to leave this vessel quite clear. If you were to present her with this opportunity, she may choose it over the prospect of spending the rest of her life in prison."
"Not bad." B'Elanna looked at the Borg with respect. "Not only would you be getting her off the ship, but the official records would indicate that she, herself, chose to go. It covers all the bases."
Janeway turned to Tuvok who raised one eyebrow at her questioning glance. "It does seem a logical course of action, Captain."
"All right. Then we put the choice to Rudbeck. She can either accept being put down on a habitable planet, with enough gear and food to get her started, or she can rot in the brig until we get home. Tuvok, will you please present the former Ensign with her choices?"
Four days later, Janeway walked into Astrometrics, smiling when Seven greeted her without turning around.
"Captain, is there something you require?"
"Just to be near you." She stood next to the tall blonde, one arm sliding around her waist as she looked at the planet hanging in the center of the view screen before them. It was a beautiful place, lush with plant life and very few predators bigger than a small cat.
Seven smile. "I trust the relocation is complete?"
"Yes. Tuvok and his security detail deposited Rudbeck and her supplies on her new home ten minutes ago. Most of it went off without a hitch, although there was some creative swearing when she realized that we would not be leaving her any communication devices or weapons."
"She will adapt. She is a formidable being, for one so small. But then, I have come to appreciate that size is not a factor in an individual's strength."
Janeway accepted the light teasing with good grace. "Have you now?" She pressed against the Borg's side. "Your duty shift is over, you know. What do you say to coming back to my quarters so we can discuss this size versus strength argument in more detail?"
Seven gazed at her partner lovingly. "I will comply."
Anne Rudbeck looked up at the sky, watching as Voyager disappeared from view. When it was gone, she began to go through the supplies they had left for her.
Humming quietly to herself, she began to set up the portable habitat she would call home for a while.
At least until she found a way to get back out into space. She never doubted that she would for a single moment.
And the vengeance she would then serve Janeway and her pet Borg would be considerable indeed.
The End (?)