"Where the hell is it?" My eyes drift over to my coffee table, darting from corner to corner and not seeing the glint of gold. I tap my chin with my index finger in frustration. This day is not turning out to be a good day, not that I don't have my share of good and bad days here in the Delta Quadrant, but never have I started out the day like this.
"Captain…are you alright?" The voice startles me out of my mutterings and I look up. Seven stands in the doorway to my ready room, having failed at knocking.. Again.
"I'm fine Seven. What do you require?" I use her cadence of speech to annoy her and grin as I see her eyes narrow at me. The light blue of her iris's pale a shade as they stare at me. Twirling in my desk chair, I stare at her with my best command expression. She barely blinks. The battle of wills ensues yet again. Just what I need right now. I sigh, look back over at my coffee table and wave my hand for her to get on with it.
She nods her perfectly chiseled chin. "The Astrometric report. You said yesterday you would approve it and get it back to me during Gamma shift. I still do not have it…Captain," she arches her eyebrow at me. "I require it now to complete my early Alpha shift report. While scanning the region, I found an M-class planet capable of sustaining life. I need to check the report to confirm."
"That's nice." I lift my eyes and watch her standing military straight, hands folded behind her back. Always at attention, waiting for her orders to be obeyed, she never relaxes.
Shaking my head, I say, "I have bigger problems to contend with."
"I am not aware of any immediate problems. All systems are functioning within normal parameters." Her head tilts to the side in that inquisitive way she does when she requires me to confirm a question she already knows the answer too. So arrogant.
I sigh again and meet her drilling gaze. "It appears that my favorite coffee mug is missing."
"Would you like me to contact Commander Tuvok and notify Security?" she lifts one perfectly sculpted eyebrow in question.
"Over a missing mug? No..no. I'm sure it's around here somewhere." I wave around the room in demonstration.
"Can you not replicate a new one?"
"It won't be that one. I've kept it since we left Earth. It was a going away present from..Uh," I realize I can't define my relationship with my best friend and sometimes lover Gis. Not to Seven anyways. She's likely to start naming statistics of homosexual relationships and embarrass me. So instead I say, "a good friend. She gave it to me the day I graduated from command training."
"I am…sorry than Captain. I will assist in the search. What does the mug look like?"
How to describe the mug to Seven?
I stick to simplicity, and say, "It's gold coated with my name engraved on the bottom."
She shuts her eyes for a minute then opens them to gaze at me, still standing straight as a yard stick. "I recalled the image and will begin searching for it immediately. You have checked your cabin?"
"Of course. I looked high and low for it."
"I will be off shift in three hours, twenty-two minutes, and five seconds. I will come to your cabin and assist. Two eyes are better than one, I recall the analogy." My mouth opens to protest but she spins around and marches out the ready room doors before I can stop her.
"Damn pushy Borg beauty," I mutter in the now quiet atmosphere of my 'office' aboard Voyager. "What time is it?"
A feminine computer voice answers, "thirteen hundred hours and eleven minutes."
"Thank you," I say. Then I shake my head at the ridiculous behavior to thank the computer. Damn my traditionalist upbringing, complete with perfect manners.
Propping my feet up on my desk, I lean back in my chair, close my eyes, and remember the day of my command pinning. The images of Gis in her dress uniform, her short haired mussed from my fingers running through it minutes before the ceremony flow through my mind. If I inhale deeply, I can almost still smell her lingering scent of Bergamot and peach, her favorite cologne. She cut off contact with me the week before I left for the Badlands on Voyager.
She was upset when I agreed to marry Mark. And she should have been. I treated her horribly and it broke both our hearts. Guilt floods me as I remember that I never got to apologize to her. I had planned to do so when I returned from the trip. Sequestered away on Utopia Planetia, awaiting the departure, I realized I missed her and not Mark.
Now, it's a moot point. It's been five years since our departure for the badlands and she no doubt has moved on with her life. And forgot all about me, about us.
Melancholy settles over my shoulders like a scratchy, cheap blanket; my only constant companion nowadays. With the exception of Seven. Tapping my commbadge, I say, "Chakotay…Seven has located an M-class planet. We are due for shore leave. Have her get you the confirmed location as quickly as possible then set in a course at Warp 6. We all could use a day of rest."
"Aye Captain. We'll contact her right now."
"She just left here to get the report squared away. Give her at least a minute or two to get back to Astrometrics."
"Yes, Captain. Good day then."
"Good day Chakotay," I murmur and end communication. Using my feet, I push myself over to face the window of my ship. Hugging my arms for comfort from my own thoughts, I watch the stars streaking by outside Voyager as we travel towards the M-class planet at Warp speed.
Visitor in the Night
My shift is finally over.
With a deep sigh, I move my PADD's from my desk and toss them into my briefcase to take back to my empty cabin. "Oh the glitz and glamour of a Starfleet Captain," muttering to myself, I walk to the turbo lift. My eyes slide over to watch Chakotay as he sits in his Officer's chair, shoulders tossed back and head facing the view screen. Our eyes meet as he turns his head to watch me walking. My eyebrow raises in question and he smiles then shakes his chin. Five years of command together has cemented our translation of each others body language. Smiling at the two of us, I step into the turbo lift and say, "deck three." The turbo lift jumps under my feet and I close my eyes for the quick ride up. Far too soon, the doors flip open and I step out into the hallway of deck three, turning right to head towards my home away from home.
My fingers punch in the lock code automatically and I enter my cabin. The lights are lowered and the atmosphere is quiet. Sighing with pleasure, my feet carry me over to my couch. The cushions look so soft and they beckon me. I relent and sprawl down on them face down, my briefcase falling to the floor with a thud. "Oh couch," I mumble against weaved cotton coverings. My eyelids close and I allow my body to relax for the first time since this morning.
I am so very tired, mentally and physically. Peace and quiet has become my refuge and I relish it with every breath of stagnant air conditioned air I take. Darkened points dance across my closed eyes and I feel my body beginning to fall into sleep.
A warm hand touches my shoulder gently.
"Hmmm, go away," I softly whine and turn my face away from the figure touching me. Inhaling a deep breath, I smell peach. "Gis?" my relaxed brain connects the scent with my earlier memories.
"No Captain," a soft feminine voice says from close by.
I open my eyes and turn my head. Standing beside me is a tall silhouette. "Seven?"
"Yes. I am here to assist." She leaves her warm hand on my shoulder. The touch comforts me and alarms me. Seven never touches me unless I am 'damaged' as she says.
"Assist with what?"
"Your lost coffee mug."
Sitting up, I meet her twinkling gaze. Her eyebrows raise up in the low lights. "Lights, brighter by thirty percent," I command and close my eyes until the lights are brighter. Opening my eyes, I see Seven in her bio-suit standing beside my couch and looking at me with a puzzled expression on her pale features.
"Uhm.. Feel free to look around for the mug, but I'm telling you, its not here." I stand up and stretch my arms above my head. Impromptu nap interrupted.
"Stay out of my bedroom drawers and closet. But look everywhere else if you want." With a nod of her head, she walks around my cabin while I head into my kitchen to fix something to eat. My stomach is growling and demanding food. "Are you hungry?" I call out.
"I do not require food at this time," came the immediate low toned response.
"Okay then," I mutter and head to the replicator to get a turkey sandwich and vegetable soup. Nutritious and filling. I always feel like vegetable soup when I feel the weight of my command bearing down heavily upon my shoulders.
"Did you find it?" I carry my dishes over to my table and sit down, glancing over frequently towards my bedroom and where Seven is still lurking about. Probably looking through my closet even though I asked her not too.
"I do not see it Captain," she shouts from inside my ensuite.
"We'll find it later. Come and sit with me while I eat dinner."
She marches through my doorway and stands at attention. "What do you require Captain?"
"I don't require anything. I would like your company while I eat dinner. Please sit with me?" She moves towards me slowly. I sigh and glance up at her as she stands beside me. Pointing to the chair in front of her I say, "sit down and keep me company," I use my command tone and she immediately grabs the chair and sits on the edge. Her hands wrapping around the edge of the material tightly.
"You won't fall off Seven."
"I apologize." Blue eyes meet mine briefly, then she looks away and down at my steaming soup. "You feel the need for comfort. Are you upset over the loss of your coffee mug?"
My eyes blink and I drift down to stare at my bowl of soup. "Why.would you say that?"
"You only consume the dish known as vegetable soup when you are upset."
I am intensely flattered and slightly embarrassed she observes my eating preferences as closely as she does. I wonder what else she knows about my preferences?
"I'm feeling distress over the loss. It is very special to me and cannot be replaced," I mumble as I pick up my spoon and take a timid bite of my replicated soup. My eyes flutter shut as I savor the taste of the broth, using my taste buds to identify the spices used. Hmm, tastes a bit salty
. But I dip down for another spoonful anyways, my growling stomach still needs to be filled with some form of food.
"Captain to the bridge." I drop my spoon back into my bowl dejectedly.
"Be right there," I shout and sigh. Another supper abandoned before I even have the chance to consume it.
"I will accompany you Captain." Seven stands up from the table, waiting at attention for me to hoist my tired butt back to my feet.
I nod. "Yes, I'm sure I'll need your expertise."
With a quick push, I am on my feet and tossing my napkin onto my full plate. She turns and leads the way out of my cabin. I follow her silently out the open doors and down the hallway to the turbo lift. Standing side by side while we ride the turbo lift down to the bridge on Deck One, my eyes dart over to watch her. Blue eyes meet my side glance and we both quickly look forward once again.
"I am sorry your meal was interrupted," she softly says as the turbo lift halts and I step out first.
Turning my head to glance at her, I say, "don't worry about it. It's become routine by now."
"Captain on the bridge," Chakotay shouts and stands up from his chair to watch me approach him. His eyes flicker to Seven then back at me. A dark eyebrow raises and a smile lifts the corner of his thin lips. It's his 'what's going on between you two' expression. He gives me this look everyday now. I shake my head at the silent query of something between Seven and I, not that I would tell his nosy butt anyways.
Seven takes her position behind the command chairs and looks down at her control panel, fingers flying over the buttons. "Captain…a Borg cube is within range of our sensors."
"Borg," I shout. "Are they approaching?" I look to Seven. "We aren't even in their territory."
"With all due respect Captain, the Borg have no defined territory," Chakotay points out. Always the optimist, he is.
I want to punch him sometimes, I swear.
"They appear to be sedentary. Hovering not far from the M-class planet."
"Run a scan and determine how many drones are on board that vessel. I want tactical and weaponry reports immediately."
"Captain it is a ship from the Unimatrix complex," Seven helpfully clarifies.
"Could it be the Queen?" Fear settles in the pit of my empty stomach, churning it until I feel nauseated.
"It is possible. I will run scans for her frequency now." A scowl crosses Seven's face as she reads the control panel in front of her. "Captain..the Queen is on board. Along with four other drones."
"Have there been any transports between Voyager and their ship?" I turn to watch Kim at Operations running a diagnostic on the transporter records. I hope he tells me no but experience has taught me to be cautious and not assume anything.
"There was a transport from our ship at ten hundred hours this morning. An object was transported from Voyager to the Borg vessel." My eyes lock onto his wide brown as he reads the details on his panel and looks up at me.
"An object was taken from your quarters Captain." The statement processes with a sense of dread. "My mug," I mutter under my breath. Seven hears me and nods slightly. "Damn…what does a Borg want with my coffee mug?"
"I do not know," Seven says softly. "I will find out." A fast flicker of her fingers then she looks back up at me.
Wait a minute?
"How did they penetrate our shields without us knowing?" I ask. Glancing into the serious blue eyes of Seven, I sense she knows the answer but is reluctant to say. "Seven?"
"The Queen is able to penetrate any frequency of shielding and remain undetected. It is how she survives. She will take what she wants."
"By stealing in a covert manner," a roll of my eyes and I plop down in my chair to think. "Sneaky Borg bitch," I mutter under my breath. Chakotay laughs as he hears me talking to myself. Turning my head, I give him my best 'shut up or you'll lose it' glare. He quiets down to allow me to think in peace.
"Or by setting a trap." Seven's flat tone breaks through my thoughts. I turn to glance up at her and notice her perfect eyebrow arches as she gazes down at me.
"I always did enjoy a good cloak and dagger situation. Mr. Paris, take us towards the planet at Warp three. Steady as she goes." I tap my commbadge and say, "all free Senior staff…to the conference room."
Cloak and Dagger
I'm the first to enter the Senior staff conference room. Seven follows close on my heels, her warm breath tickling the back of my neck. If anyone other than Seven walked right on my heels, I'd turn around and elbow them in the stomach. But I like Seven at my back. Her presence puts my jumping nerves to ease.
Immediately I go to the replicator for a fresh coffee, I have a feeling this is going to be a long
meeting. Lifting the generic silver mug to my lips, I breath in the steam and sigh. My eyes flutter shut to relish the peace for just a moment longer. I've been out here, trapped on Voyager for so long, I've almost forgotten what real coffee smells like. Even replicated coffee smells good to me nowadays.
Seven stands beside the table in her pose of arrogance and authority.
My eyes find hers across the empty conference room. The normally Ice blue color of her eyes is dark and her pupils are dilated. Either she's feeling frightened by this whole situation or she's feeling something else entirely. I only wonder what could be flying through that super enhanced brain of hers.
Swallowing the coffee, I move over to take my seat at the head of the table. I use my free hand and point to the chairs, gesturing for Seven to take a seat. She nods and instead of taking her normal spot at the back of the table, usually as far away from me as possible, she takes the seat right beside me.
Out of the corner of my, I see her staring at me with an odd expression on her face. Over the course of our friendship, I have been able to identify most of her expressions and the confusing emotions she is feeling at the time. But this expression, I have no frame of reference for. I'd almost say, she was gravelly upset over something, but Seven doesn't get upset; she often gets angry and physically violent.
"Seven," I softly say to get her attention, "what are you thinking?" Those blue eyes lock onto mine in challenge.
"I am confused," she mumbles, pauses to catch her breath, "I do not understand why the Queen would want something of such a useless nature." Her beautiful lips tip down into a frown. "What will she gain by taking such an inanimate object."
"I wonder that too. Do you really think she might be setting a trap for us?" Taking a drink of coffee, I think for a minute then say, "she's probably still mad over that taking you thing."
"Yes Captain. You did 'take' me. But Borg are not vengeful nor deceitful," she says, blatantly pointing out the difference between Borg and Human.
I laugh. "I seem to recall you getting pretty mad at me your first night aboard Voyager. In fact, you threatened to kill me. Remember?"
"I remember everything," she responds mysteriously, but then turns her pretty eyes away from me to stare at the door to the conference room with that funny expression once again on her face. Even after all the time we've spent together, she is still a puzzle to me. One day, I'm going to figure her out.
Thudding footsteps echo outside the conference room door. I look over and away from Seven, and watch as the Senior staff enter the room and I've lost my opportunity to probe further into what might be bothering Seven. For some reason, I want to ease her discomfort. I always want to make her comfortable, even when she pushes me away. With a shake of my head, I focus on the staff members, putting Seven out of my mind for the moment.
"Please take your seats and we'll get started," I say loudly, and focus on the moving bodies as they take their seats.
I look to my Operations officer, Harry Kim and ask, "I need to know how she got in here. Give me a full transporter report for the time period during the unauthorized transport."
He looks at Chakotay then to me. An uneasy feeling settles in the pit of my stomach. "Just spit it out," I bark, feeling a sudden headache coming on. Maybe caffeine will stop it.
I take a big swallow of my coffee and stare at Harry over the top of my mug. He squirms in his seat then says, "well Captain, the records seem to be missing."
I sputter and choke. "Missing? How can the records be missing?" I scream around coughs. I look around the table and each member is staring intently at the table. "So we really are having a cloak and dagger situation," I mutter and take another swallow to ease my dry throat.
"We're looking into it," Chakotay booms out, probably hoping to take my focus off my Operations officer. Chakotay is the superior, and essentially responsible for any mishaps that might occur with the records. "It appears there was a complete transporter copy taken from the computer."
I look to him and meet his dark eyes. "Why would she take a complete record?" I raise my eyebrow and say, "well?"
Tuvok answers, "it would be my understanding Captain, that she is fishing for a record of our activities the past few weeks since the transporter keeps a cache on a thirty-two day cycle."
"Captain, I recommend we stop our course toward the Borg ship until we have a better understanding of what her motives are. I will run assessments and get a better idea." His eyes dart over to Seven. She is still gazing around with that confused expression on her face. Poor Seven.
"Seven, I'm going to need your assistance on this."
I watch as she looks up at him, her puzzled expression fading to one of stern aloofness. "You have it Commander," she says in a flat tone. The Borg is back and the woman is gone in the blink of an eye.
Looking over to the other end of the table, I see Torres watching Seven also and want to divert her attention from Seven so I say, "Lieutenant Torres… Status on the Warp Core? If we're going near the Borg, I want assurance we won't have an engine stall mid-way?"
"Running smoothly Captain. I was about to do maintenance, but I should put that off because it.. Stalls the engines as you say, and we're dead in the water until the cycle completes."
"Mmmh, yes. Let's wait for that maintenance until we know a bit more on what the Queen wants."
"Well let's figure this out. I want to meet her at O'Eight hundred. Dismissed," I bark.
The staff jumps up and starts to flee out of the conference room. Seven hasn't moved. Maybe she's sick?
My hand stretches out and clasps her wrist. Her skin is colder than normal and her normally pale face is paler if that's possible.
"Seven, are you feeling alright? When was the last time you regenerated?"
"I do not need to regenerate yet Captain. My nanoprobes keep me well," she immediately answers in her 'brook no arguments' voice. Her eyes avoid meeting mine. She is so stubborn.
I squeeze my fingers to get her attention. "Whether you need to or not, I would like you to. It's going to be a long next few days, and I need you at optimum performance." I smile at her to take any bite out of my words. Then I throw in the gauntlet. "I need you for this Seven."
"I find that unlikely Captain. You need no one." She lifts her eyebrow. "Is this mug so important to you, that you would risk your crew?" she asks, her blue eyes dark and on fire. "Because she will take everything of importance to you. Do not forget that Captain." The anger in her tone makes me draw my hand back from her arm, and instead I fold it together with my own, binding my fingers together. I want to touch her and soothe away the pain so evident in her voice, but I've overstepped my bounds.
"I've already told you that it's important to me. To me, it is irreplaceable. But more importantly Seven, we need to know what the Queen is playing at. I need to know if she is after you again, and is using this as a trap to draw us in. We could be in a lot of trouble here."
She is silent for so long, I start to think she might not have heard me. "And am I, also irreplaceable? If the Queen is after me and takes me again, would you come after me or leave me to the collective?" Her voice is timid and quiet, not at all like the arrogant Borg of just a few moments ago.
Is that what's bothering her?
"Oh Seven." My hand reaches out, needing to touch her. She jerks away from my hand then stands up. Her blue eyes stormy and mysterious, the surface shimmering in the soft light of the conference room. It looks like she might be about to cry.
I blink in surprise.
"I have work Captain. I trust you to figure it out." She stares down into my eyes, then she marches away from me without another word.
The doors swoosh shut as she leaves me. "Dammit," I curse, but there is no one here to listen. My stomach growls as I stare out the window, watching the stars streak by. I can't be bothered right now with mere bodily functions. I ignore the growling and continue to sit in my chair at the head of the table. The place of honor. I sigh as I realize that I should get up and go get some rest, but my mind is whirling with too many troubling thoughts. I stay seated.
I need to check on Seven,
is my last thought before darkness takes me.
In The Shadows
Dim green light echoed off the dark walls as I open my eyes. I blink away the fog, trying to see any identifying shapes, but the darkness shrouds my vision. My only point of focus is the low green light, flashing in a familiar pattern.
The room is warm, and I start to sweat underneath my uniform jacket. My hands move forward to unzip the fabric, but they are restricted. I am captured and bound. Seven warned me of the Queen's skills, but I paid her warnings no heed. Perhaps I should have. I'm not sure where I am at, but I get the feeling that I have been here before.
My eyes flick down to my chest to look for my communicator, but it is gone. I have no way of contacting the ship, and they have no way of tracking my location.
"Shit," I mumble as I shake my arms, trying to estimate any extra room to slip from my binds.
There is none. The bindings are tight and unbreakable.
Each movement of my wrists is painful as the sharp metal cuts into my soft skin. I stop moving and listen for my captors. My nostrils flare as I try to waft a scent of their presence.
"Ahh Captain Janeway… We meet again," a strangely familiar feminine voice says not far away from me.
Sweat pools in my lower back, warm and sticky as I sit on the hot metal floor. The warm liquid trickles down my arms and coats the scrapings on my wrists left from my struggling against my bindings.
My eyes dart over in the direction of the voice, but no one is there. An eerie and awfully familiar shiver wracks my spine. I stand up and prepare for battle. My feet itch inside my boots and my heart begins to race.
I feel dizzy with anticipation.
"Who's there?" My voice is strong, but inside I'm shaking. I know who is there. The cloak and dagger games over the last few days suddenly makes sense. My missing mug and my argument with Seven. The fates have woven my thread and it is intertwined with this race of murderers.
I inhale deeply, accepting my fate and close my eyes. Memories of those few hours on the Borg cube crowd my brain in a rush. Blue eyes the shade of a Summer Indiana sky haunt me behind my closed eyelids. Seven.
I have disappeared from my ship. There is nothing to do now but watch and wait for the drones to come and assimilate me.
I shiver with each echo as I hear the rhythmic footsteps on the metal floor. Slow and sauntering toward me, like a jungle cat about to devour her prey. And I am prey, bound here in the darkness and sequestered from my crew.
With the darkness shrouding the approaching feet, I'm unable to distinguish how many drones are approaching. My knees start to shake, following right along with the prickling of my neck hairs. My heart thuds faster within my chest.
"Did you miss me?" the eerie voice continues as if I didn't speak. "Oh, Captain. I missed you."
Anger toward my kidnappers course through me, drowning out my fear. "Did I say I missed you?"
My heart is racing as she gets closer to me. I'm too young to die of a heart attack. "Sneaky Borg"
The low light reflects off her metal exoskeleton and nearly blinds me. I close my eyes and avoid my most feared predator. The feet stop inches from me.
I dare not open my eyes and look up. I know she wants to see my fear, my anger toward her, it's what I would want if the roles were to be reversed. A warm hand clasps my chin and pulls my face up. I jerk away, but the grip holds strong.
I relent and raise my eyes.
I'm looking into the dark eyes of the Borg Queen.
"You have been missed dearly." The warm fingers stroke my cheek in a gesture meant to be affectionate, but it is anything but to me. I don't want her touch, her hand so similar in temperature and texture as Seven's.
Bile rises up my throat as I remain still and resist the urge to vomit.
"As you miss Seven of Nine I'm sure," I husk, putting a hint of confidence to my tone. My knees shake as her eyes glimmer with her victory over me. Physically I'm trapped, but this is a battle of wills, and she will not defeat me.
"Seven is mine," she shouts. "You took her and made her a human
. You made her believe being an inferior being would make her feel, and make her enjoy her existence." The vehemence in her voice shakes me to my core. "You made her yours when she belongs to me."
"So you do miss her. You feel for her, don't you?" I taunt her, but still I refuse to look at her and meet her dark, hateful gaze. She wants to see how afraid of her I really am. I know her Borg systems right now are measuring my vital signs. I am not afraid. I'm not!
I'm lying to myself. I am afraid for my life and that of my crew members. To try and mask my fear, I think of Seven, of all the joyful things Seven has brought to my life aboard Voyager. I imagine her reaction to my abduction and resist the urge to smile, knowing she will find me. She is the only one I trust to battle the Borg Queen for my rescue.
My heart slows down and I breathe deeply, imagining it is Seven's scent that I am inhaling and not this she-automaton.
I open my eyes and stare into pools of black inches away from my cheek. "Why have you taken our transporter records?" My eyes remain locked on her. "What use will they be to you?" Bitch.
She laughs. "I needed them. It is not your concern why." Sweat drips down into my eyes. I blink it away and keep watching her. She taunts me with her dark eyes and her strong, titanium-filled body.
"You love her as a human would love. Don't lie your Majesty. Jealousy is a petty human emotion." I snort. "You're not human now, are you?"
The fingers caressing my cheek slide over and grip my face in a hard clasp. A gasp escapes me. "You stole from my ship. That is my concern."
"As you stole from mine. We are equal now. Seven is on your ship and now…you are on mine." She releases my face then steps back away from me. "Enjoy your accommodations, Captain. You will be here for a while."
I watch as she fades into the shadows. I listen for any movement nearby. There is none. I am alone once again. My knees clanged on the metal floor as I sank down. I hope Seven comes for me.
Warm tears coat my cheeks as I stare at the empty room.
Step Into The Spotlight
Minutes become hours as I sit on the cold floor. The tears dried awhile ago and now only crusted salt remains caked on my hot cheeks. My wrists are bound and sore from my pulling and tugging, trying desperately to free myself from the metal.
It is futile.
"Ha… resistance is," I mutter to the empty room. My throat hurts and I long for a drink of water. Mere human needs that the Borg can't be concerned with. Only yesterday, I was sitting in my quarters having dinner with Seven, and now, I've been Captain-napped.
"Seven, come get me," I softly plea to the floor, as if it will somehow open up and release me from my misery.
Closing my eyes, I picture blue skies the shade of Seven's eyes and imagine the two of us sitting beneath a tree, on a picnic in the holodeck, arguing over the nature of individuality. I'm not usually one to believe in the power of the psyche, but sitting on the hard floor, the realization that I might be left here to spend my days with the Queen, I think hard about Seven, imagine every moment we spent together, and hope some kind of telepathic message gets sent back to her. Rationally, I know its not likely to happen, but I have to hope or else I might give up.
The pulsing low-lights taunt me, tempting me to close my eyes and sleep. Perhaps that is the Queens intention, to get me relaxed then to do whatever she intends to do with me. Maybe she plans to assimilate me or probe my body.
I inhale deeply, fighting the exhaustion blanketing my body, and the panic rising within over my helplessness. It doesn't matter what she intends to do with me, only that I'm here and bound. I am at her mercy; she's a cat with a new toy mouse.
The scent of harsh metal mingles with the scent emanating from my body. I stink from the sweat that constantly drips from my pores and soaks into my uniform. I want nothing more than to shed my clothes and get the scratchy fabric off my skin, but with my hands bound, I am unable. Hopefully, the Queen is offended by my smell, a smile tugging my lips at the thought. Maybe if she becomes so offended by it, she'll send me home. Ha, not likely.
Great. Now, I'm going nuts and talking to myself," I mutter to the dark walls of my little corner cell, sighing at the silence that follows my voice, and listening for any other noises that might indicate company is coming.
Soft footsteps clang on the metal, a slow easy rhythm, seemingly sauntering forward toward me.
Remaining still until the steps stop before me, I hold my breath and look up.
"Tell me Captain, do you miss Seven?" The Queen stands in front of me, her dark eyes intense as they glare down at me. "Now that you are down here all by yourself with nothing to occupy that calculating brain of yours. I am sure you must think of her. After all, you have just the darkness to keep you company along with your thoughts."
Struggling and then gasping, I eventually am standing, though it was a difficult task without the use of my hands, but I'm not about to have a conversation about Seven while sitting on my butt at my captors' feet. "I miss her as I miss my First Officer. She's just a crew member." Oh, who are you kidding Kathryn? Shut up!
"I think you are lying?" she says as she steps forward, grabbing my shoulders roughly, making me raise my eyes toward hers. Her eyes are dark pools of truth as they stare into mine. No doubt her Borg systems have read my body signs, and know how much I'm kidding myself, how much I'm lying.
Of course, I miss Seven. How could I not?
"If I'm lying then so are you. You've kidnapped me in the hopes that she is going to come after me, and you can't stand the fact that she will come after me, your Majesty. Whereas, she left you, never planning to return to your collective
…She abandoned you."
"Enough," she growls, grabbing my uniform and yanking me up high and off my feet.
I smile at her as I look down into her angry eyes. The urge to kick her with my dangling feet is so strong, my foot starts to swing before I can stop it. But my muscles halt immediately at the look I receive, swirling deep within those dark uplifted eyes. "Do you really believe that you can persuade her to stay once she arrives to rescue me?" I laugh. "If you do, then you're a bigger fool than I first thought. Perhaps, the biggest fool."
The hand grabbing my shirt starts to shake ever so slightly. "I said, enough," a deep command, issued from electronically pathways that pass for her heart. "It is you, who is the fool. You believe she will come for you? That she cares for you?"
I stare down into her eyes, my mouth still and no longer smiling.
"She is Borg. We do not care for anyone," she says in a whisper.
"No, Seven is a Human. She is Annika Hansen. A human that you kidnapped and manipulated, grooming her to be your protégé. How foolish to think she would not discover her human traits, her individuality just by adding and subtracting a few organs, replacing the missing parts with computer systems. Artificial means of perfection when she was born perfect already." Fingers tighten and pull the wool tighter, bringing me close enough to feel her warm air cycling through her lungs.
I'm edging away at her wall, so I continue, "and maybe you realized the truth midway through assimilation, once you sliced and diced on her, you saw what you marred and now feel guilty over your actions-another sentient trait. You need to realize that Seven, that Annika is not Borg, not anymore… Nor will she ever be fully Borg again."
The hand clutching my uniform releases me, and I slump down onto the floor. I look up at her from my perch at her feet.
I've cracked through her resolve, so I smile and say, "now, who is lying? If you are jealous of me, jealous of what I helped her rediscover, her individuality,
then you care for her. You are in love
"Think what you will, inferior…human. I
can offer her far more than you ever will. I hold the Galaxy in my…hands. It will be hers, and my gift to her. You see, she will
come back to me. She has to."
I laugh as I look into her hooded eyes. "You might have to kill her first. Being an individual means making unencumbered decisions. It means fighting, being strong, and refusing to collapse under the pressure of the wills of others."
"Dead or Alive, she will be here soon. I know it. I've been watching your ship, and they are going to be here soon to save you. How will you feel Captain, watching your beloved die before your eyes? How do you think Seven will feel as she watches you take your last breath?"
"I am her Captain," I say, watching her every muscle twitch. I couldn't trust her not to kill me and then deliver my body to my crew and ship.
"And you love her. Do not lie Captain, your life signs give you away. Love is about sacrifice, is it not?"
I gasp at her words, a sinking feeling settling deep inside to rest against my thudding heart.
"The Captain always makes the greatest sacrifice," she smirks then backs away from me a few steps, but stays near enough to still hear me.
I say to have the last word, "if love is about sacrifice, then perhaps you should consider how much you are willing to sacrifice for Seven. As you'll quickly learn, gifts can't buy affections. They are only freely offered, and never able to be taken nor commanded."
I see liquid pooling in her eyes as we stare at each other. My neck aches and my eyes are growing weary and scratchy. In a soft voice, she says, "when your crew arrives, the truth will be revealed one way or another."
She pauses, then says, "I will have water brought to you. You are becoming dehydrated, I would not want you to die before I get to kill you. Good evening… Captain.
She backs away, our eyes still locked until she turns and disappears from my sight.
"Dammit," I murmur to the empty space the Queen occupied. Crawling over to the nearest wall, I lean my warm forehead against the metal and sigh. "Way to go Captain
Come out, come out, wherever you are…
Noise disrupts my impromptu nap. Opening my eyes, I look around to see what is making such a racket, but all I see is darkness. Even the soft glowing green lights are shut off. The Queen must be punishing me for my parting remarks.
. It's not like I needed to see her bitter face anyways. The one disadvantage to the darkness, is the inability to track the time. Without my chronometer and set ship routines, I'm lost.
What day was it when I was kidnapped? Yesterday, the day before?
Only my growling stomach and stinking uniform can give me an idea. But, I'm still not sure if I slept for minutes, hours or for days; time all suddenly feels irrelevant. My throat feels horribly dry and my uniform is stuck to my back and sides. I try to wipe at my face, rub away the sleep from my lashes, but my wrists are still bound tight.
I sigh. "Dammit…It's hot."
"I know," a soft voice whispers from close by. "And I apologize."
I jump away in reaction.
I close my eyes against the sudden jarring pain in my left hip and shoulder, where I made contact with the floor. "Isn't this just fitting," I mutter, then pant as I try to wiggle around and get back up, but I'm not strong enough to raise myself back upright.
I open my eyes and see two black booted feet that I don't recognize, nor do I recognize the voice. It's probably the Queen playing tricks on me again, her needling me and being cruel.
"Are you all right, Captain?" the voice asks in the same whispered tone.
Gentle hands grab my shoulders, and help to guide me off the floor and up to my feet. My eyes make out her tall shape but not any defining features. Inhaling the fresher air, I smell a faint trace of peaches.
Borg don't wear peach scented things.
"Seven?" I say, my voice deep and raspy even to my ears. I need water.
Almost as if she can read my thoughts, a cool cup touches my lips and she says, "yes. Now drink."
I almost fight her, just to cause her to argue back, but I don't have the strength and greedily gulp the cool water filling my mouth. Soon, the cup is drained and I sigh in pleasure. My throat is still sore, but not from dryness now. "Seven, what are you doing here? How…"
The mug is lowered and one of her hands once again, grips my shoulder, her long fingers squeezing me through the wool of my uniform jacket. "You must be quiet, I will answer your questions in a moment." Her hand slides down my arm to clasp my hand. Then she tugs on the restraints. I hear them break and then the metal clangs as it hit's the floor.
I move my arms forward for the first time since my Captain-napping and groan as my shoulder muscles complain at the movement.
Seven taps her commbadge and whispers, "Delta Flyer, two to beam aboard."
The darkness twinkles as spots of light dance before my vision. I grab onto to Seven's arm for support and close my eyes. I smile as her arm tentatively slides around my waist, her warm fingers clasping my hip in a reassuringly strong grip. I relax into the half-embrace and wait.
Cold air brushes over my sweat-slicked skin. I open my eyes and see Tuvok, B'elanna and Tom Paris all staring at me. I'm half annoyed and half grateful to see them all.
Clearing my throat, I say, "well, what are you all looking at. Let's get out of here."
Seven keeps her hold on me and guides me over to the bench at the back of the flyer, hanging onto me until I'm sitting down on it securely, then she takes the seat beside me and buckles me in. I want to laugh at her mothering, but know it might upset her, and that's the last thing that I want to do.
Easing my head back to rest against the bulkhead of the Flyer, I close my eyes and rest, hearing Tom giving commands to get us away from the Borg vessel and also the faint clicking of Seven's belt securing right beside me.
"I am glad that you are okay, Captain," she whispers into my ear, her breath warm against my earlobe and cheekbone.
"Mmhmm. Me too, Seven. Me too."
"I also retrieved your mug for you."
I open my eyes, hearing her shift in her seat. The vision before me makes the hours spent in the Queens nest worth the pain. She is a few inches away from me, the blue of her eyes seem lighter than the last time I saw her, the pupils very dark and wide. I lick my lips, and gaze into her eyes. "You did?"
"Yes," she says, then sits back as the Flyer shakes and shudders, navigating the interstellar objects. Her eyes are still gazing at me. "I set it in the carryall bag."
"Thank you," I whisper, then gaze at her lips.
"You are welcome…Captain." She rests her hands on her thighs. "I was worried." She sounds mildly upset.
A quick glance toward the front, and I give into the impulse to comfort her and grab her wrist, wrapping my fingers around and clasping tight.
She glances at the front of the Flyer, then back to meet my gaze. I whisper, "thank you for coming for me. I thought of you, wished that you'd come for me."
Her throat moves as she swallows her response, nodding rapidly, then flicking her eyes down and at my hand, still wrapped around her wrist. In a whisper equal to mine, she says, "me too."
I close my eyes, but keep my hand around her wrist. The rest of the ride will go smoothly. For once, I'm able to sit back and just enjoy being safe and happy for the next few minutes of the ride until we reach Voyager.
And, I intend to take advantage of Seven's presence, sitting so close to me.
I smile as I feel Seven's Borg hand covering my hand and wrist, the long cybernetic fingers, clasping my warm skin tightly in reassurance.
We dock in Voyager's shuttle bay without incident, Tom easing the shuttle down to the bay floor without so much as a bump during landing. Seven leads me off the shuttle, her eyes glaring at the doctor and at Chakotay as they stand at the Bay doors, obviously awaiting my return.
"The Captain will meet you in Sickbay," she informs the doctor, then tugs me out and down the corridor to the turbo lift.
"You know, Seven, it's protocol to beam directly to sickbay prior to stepping out of the shuttle bay." Her grip on my wrist loosens but doesn't disappear.
"I am aware of protocol, Captain. I wish to speak with you in private, however…and without an audience in attendance. The doctor is as frequent a gossiper as Lt Torres." Seven leads me into the empty turbolift, the doors swishing shut behind us in welcome relief.
Perhaps I am rubbing off on Seven if she's willing to break protocol just to be alone with me.
"I was worried about you," she whispers, standing beside me. "Computer, halt turbolift," she says, turning to face me, head dipping down to catch my gaze.
I meet her gaze. The deep blue of her eyes draw me closer.
"Do not ever leave again," Seven husks, grabbing my wrists with both hands and pulling me close until we stand almost breast to breast.
"It's not as if I had a choice in the matter," I say, our eyes remaining on each other.
"Seven, please ensure that the Captain reports to sickbay for evaluation…promptly," the doctor shouts over Seven's commbadge.
I reach up and with Seven's fingers still holding my wrist, tap Seven's badge to initiate a link back to the doctor. "On my way,"
"Come to my quarters later," I whisper to Seven. "We need to talk, and not about philosophy." I wink at her. "Computer, resume turbolift."
Seven releases my wrists, but doesn't step away."Yes, of course." She dips her head and brushes her lips across my cheek, a ghost of a kiss from her warm mouth. "I will comply."
"Indeed you will," I smirk, then grab her shoulders, pulling her down for a real kiss. She slumps against me, showing me no resistance.
It's good to be back,
I think, kissing Seven with a passion from deep within.
That's it folks