See parts 1&2 for info
See parts 1&2 for info
Kathryn Janeway grimaced at the coppery taste of blood on her tongue and the throbbing bruise left by Kashyk, all of which did nothing to encourage her to open her eyes. She groaned against the painful fatigue she felt throughout her body, deep into her bones, which made even the slightest movement agonizing. Janeway let out a cry of pain when she was hoisted to her feet by strong, rough hands. She stumbled due to her own exhaustion and because of the metal shackles around her ankles and attached by a sturdy, thin metal rod to her handcuffed wrists. Despite the near debilitating pain she felt throughout her body, Janeway eventually recovered her equilibrium. Her eyes opened slowly to face the chamber's harsh green light. The smirking person that met her created an ice-cold chill that shook her petite form.
"Regina?" The name was forced between Janeway's lips on a sharp gasp of disbelief and horror. She wasn't prepared when metal fingers grasped her chin harshly that caused a fresh rush of pain through her body. Her already shaky balance was destabilized and it was only her captors' unyielding hold on her arms that kept her on her feet. Janeway couldn't turn her face away from Regina despite her repulsion to the countenance before her.
Thick silver eyes seemed to penetrate Janeway to her very core. The sickly green-lit pallor of Regina's face took away from the natural beauty the woman possessed, but Janeway still recognized her features. What was less recognizable was the way in which the hairless, blue-veined skin of Regina's scalp was pulled tightly back by smooth black tentacle-like cables that connected to a silver metal port at the top of her head. Janeway forced her eyes to lower to take in the sickening reality that Regina's form was more technological than biological. From Regina's bare collarbones down was all a metal construct; a black and hard facsimile of a petite feminine form.
"Leave us." Regina's voice was as cold and metallic as the hand that still held Janeway's chin.
Janeway barely prevented herself from falling upon the harsh metal floor when the two eerily quiet and masked beings had relinquished their firm hold on her arms. Blood pounded soundly in her ears and she felt her heart beating rapidly within her chest as Regina continued to bore into her with a prosecutorial glare.
"I can smell her on you." Regina removed her hand from Janeway's strong chin before she pulled the woman to her metal body that elicited a cry of pain. She took pleasure in that sound. "You are supposed to be mine."
"And you're supposed to be dead." Janeway thought perhaps that wasn't the smartest thing to say as Regina's already harsh hold on her arms grew tighter and more painful. The truth was she had never been frightened of Regina for herself, only for others. It didn't differ now for her concern was solely centered on Annika.
"Unfortunately for you I'm not that easy to kill." Regina's voice was cold, but soft and her warm breath wafted across Janeway's face as she moved her own closer. "Though I do give you high marks for trying."
"What do you want, Regina?" Janeway wondered if it was adrenaline alone that kept her voice strong and her stance stubbornly erect as she faced off against the woman that elicited complex emotions within her. A part of her wanted to rejoice in the fact that Regina was still alive despite the extreme danger the woman posed. She felt some of her deeply held guilt being to lighten. And regret that Regina was still alive and as dangerous as she was two years ago.
"My goals have not changed." Regina's gray lips were turned up into a smile though her eyes lacked the warmth to make it anything other than a cold grin. "Just my methods in achieving them."
"What have you done?" Janeway's voice was low, raspy, but had a glint of threat in her deep timbre. She ignored the pain in her body as her stormy eyes met Regina's full on. "Tell me!"
Janeway felt the air rush out of her lungs as she fell hard onto her back atop the cold, unforgiving metal floor. Crimson colored blood spilled from the cut on her lip and mingled with the dried remains of the strike delivered by Kashyk that had rendered her unconscious. She groaned aloud as she rolled onto her side and tried to regain her breath.
"You do not demand things from me." Regina stood high and imposing above Janeway with wrath clearly displayed upon her features and real threat in her voice. "There are only a limited number of reasons why I'm keeping you alive. I should kill you for what you did to me."
"I did what I had to." Janeway managed to stand, though on unsteady feet. "You were responsible for so much death, Regina. So much pain. I couldn't let you kill any more innocent people."
"They aren't innocent." Regina voice took on a scornful, frustrated tone as she moved slowly, fluidly around the stiffly standing Janeway. "How many times do I have to explain that to you? They're vermin who are standing in the way of us taking our rightful place as rulers of this planet. Why can't you of all people understand that? We're not Homo sapiens, we're homo superior. It's evolution. The survival of the fittest."
"I know you, Regina." Janeway stood very still, but her sharp gray gaze followed Regina's movements. "This isn't about the next stage of human development, of taking our 'right place'. It's about you. How... damaged you are. How hurt. The immense pain you have always carried with you. What your parents, what you went though is unconscionable, but the people who you hurt today won't take away that pain."
Janeway tried not to recoil when she felt cold metal fingers run along her back. It wasn't until she felt a warm draft upon her upper back that she was informed of how sharp the metal nails on Regina's fingers were. She bit off a gasp as Regina used a gentler touch to outline the pale white scars that marred her back.
"You know nothing of my pain. The animal who inflicted these wounds was not your father. Or your mother. I killed them both. That's what you do with dangerous animals."
"They're not animals. They're people. No matter what they've done."
"You're still so unbearably self-righteous. Superior. Well I have the power now. You have none." Regina moved to stand in front of Janeway before she placed a metal hand on top of the device that negated Janeway's abilities. She smirked as her mirrored silver eyes lifted from Janeway's upper chest to stormy troubled eyes. "How does it feel?"
Janeway's shackled wrists prevented her from touching the source of her weakened state. It was a device that was obviously crafted by Regina. The similarities to the regeneration alcove they had built together were evident in its physical makeup and the green-lit power signature. Janeway had to admit it was a brilliant device. One that seemed to be created solely to debilitate her and it had succeeded. Regina always did have an aptitude of fully understanding people's abilities especially Janeway's.
"Is that why you're holding me here? To gloat? To make me suffer for what I did? So be it. Just don't-please, don't hurt anyone else." Janeway's thoughts immediately went to Annika. She knew how vindictive Regina could be and worried for Annika's safety far more than her own.
"The great Kathryn Janeway pleading?" Regina's cold voice was filled with scorn and contempt as her lips pulled into a sneer. "Whom are you begging for? Your students? Your comrades? No, I know the girlfriend. How... sweet."
"Leave her alone." Janeway was surprised that her vehement words caused a soft chuckle to emit from Regina.
"I won't hurt her." Regina stopped close behind Janeway, her warm breath wafted across the back of other woman's neck as she whispered the next part. "I created her."
Annika took a bullet to the chest as she stalked quickly towards the Oval Office. The young security guard continued to fire until the soft clicks of his gun indicated his bullets had run out. He shook as he tried desperately to reload his gun while keeping his wide blue eyes on the advancing metallic-looking woman.
"We're here to help." Annika tried to smile reassuringly, but the guard had obviously been overwhelmed by the situation and started to fire at her again. With the back of her hand and as softly as she could she knocked him out cold. "Poor guy."
In a series of purple flashes of light and energy Harry Kim transported yet another guard to a more secure location in case the White House became ground zero for the destruction of the United States of America. It was beginning to look inevitable now with the massive coup d'état Hayes was perpetuating after seventeen hundred federal arrest warrants were issued including his own. Annika kept herself fortified by the mission of seeing to the President's safety and somehow finding Kathryn Janeway. It was what kept her going. And she had to admit at least to herself that the latter was more of a necessity to her, but she couldn't find Kathryn on her own. She needed people like Nechayev. So she pressed on.
"Stand behind me." Nechayev's eyes turned white as blue electricity sparked from her hands.
The wall of the outer office crumbled and fell away from the onslaught of wind and devastating electrical discharge. Bullets fired by the twenty-two black suited men and woman who were the President's secret service detail were contained within a small vortex of wind and rain until ten minutes had passed and the bullets in their guns ran out. The mini-hurricane dissipated into a trickle of silver bullets upon the blue-carpeted floor of the Oval Office.
"I am Alynna Nechayev. I come in peace on behalf of Kathryn Janeway and the United Federation of Metahumans." Nechayev's eyes were still white in case her words did not ease the trigger happy Americans before her. "I am here to protect your President Bacco."
"Stand down." Bacco emerged from behind a throng of Secret Service men and women. Her order was immediately obeyed though her security detail maintained highly anticipatory of an attack.
"Madame President, we can transport you and your staff to a secure location. We should do this immediately." Nechayev motioned for Harry to open a portal.
"We're not going in there!" Phiri's high-pitched voice was louder and more repulsed than she had meant it to sound. The purple light that formed above the presidential seal was like nothing she had ever seen and frankly she would have been happy not see it now. "I mean... that's, that's crazy. Isn't it?"
"It's kind of crazy, yeah." MacDougan's smile reached his eyes as he carefully took Phiri's trembling hand in his. "But I'm willing to trust it. I'm pretty sure if they wanted us dead we would be."
"That's what I love about you, Fred, your unceasing optimism." Kant rubbed his sweaty palm over his forearm nervously as he looked askance at the glowing purple specter in the middle of the Oval Office. "I'm not going in there. We have no idea where it goes. It could be a trap."
Piñiero looked to the President who also seemed doubtful of the portal to who-knows-where. She thought she also saw a hint of curiosity as well. "Madam President?"
As the White House shook to its very foundation from the war that was taking place outside President Bacco felt a sharp sense of failure but not regret. She had chosen to stand on her principles and to veto Hayes' bill. She would do it again despite the dire situations her beloved nation was in. She looked at the group of metahumans before her and found nothing but urgency for her well being in their expressions, in their eyes. Her instincts were telling her to trust and so she did.
"All right. We'll go with you." Bacco looked pointed at her anxious staff. "All of us. Now."
Harry nodded and tried to look stoic and confident. "Link hands, hold on tight and follow me."
Annika felt relief wash over her that the President and her staff were now secure. That relief was quickly replaced by dread. The walls of the Oval Office were quickly losing structural integrity. A final blow from an unknown weapon made the walls give way completely. Despite her apprehension she stood strong and sure with Nechayev, Stadi, and Vorik.
The influx of charging militants were pushed back by winds that swept them off their feet and several yards away. The respite provided the small metahuman cadre to enter the fray unencumbered by shots being fired at them, for the moment.
Annika could smell the burning of the air as lightning shot from Nechayev's hands and molten rock flowed from Vorik's which impacted several small, but heavily armed attack jeeps utilized by the Friends of Humanity. Men screamed as they leapt from the vehicles.
"It's about time you guys got here." B'Elanna easily tossed a red-faced and cursing member of the FoH at Annika. He collided into her metal figure with enough force that he fell unconscious onto the grassy lawn.
Annika rolled her eyes at the unnecessary fun B'Elanna was having even as she felt a great sense of relief that she would be fighting alongside her.
B'Elanna grabbed the barrel of a rifle even as it shot a bullet into her side and used the butt of it to smash in the black mask of her assailant and with that his nose and consciousness as well. She used the same weapon to bludgeon two more would-be attackers. She wasn't even out of breath as she spoke loudly to overcome the cacophony of the battle. "Kes and Tuvok are trying to locate Janeway."
Annika wasn't comforted by B'Elanna's words. She wanted Kathryn found now. She needed to know if she was all right. And if she wasn't Annika wasn't sure she would be able to pull her punches as she was doing at the moment.
A roar sounded high above her emitted by a streak of black and orange. Annika turned quickly to see Neelix, in the form of a massive and powerful tiger, as he leapt upon two unpleasantly surprised black-garbed men.
"Don't worry, Annika. We'll find the captain." Neelix's reassuring smile displayed large teeth and his usually nasally voice was made lower by the growl that seemed to constantly rumble deep within his feline form. His smile had barely faded before he shape shifted into a creature Annika had never even imagined before. It looked like a mix between a massive red-scaled dragon and a powerfully beaked brown-feathered hawk.
Annika barely registered the barrage of bullets that struck her metal form harmlessly as shock caused her to stand frozen with her mouth agape. It wasn't until B'Elanna shouted for her to get her head in the game that Annika could finally pull her large eyes away from Neelix's literally alien form.
A roar of rage emitted from Annika as she saw whom B'Elanna was fighting. It was the same hideous man who had impaled Janeway with a bony spear that had nearly cost the woman her life. B'Elanna had several of Culluh's razor-sharp spikes in her body and Annika could see that the poison was having a devastating effect on even the seemingly invincible B'Elanna Torres.
A volley of bony projectiles bounced off of Annika and she nearly smiled at the look on Culluh's boned face. She did smile when her metal fist smashed his expression in. Annika helped pull Culluh's spikes from B'Elanna's body before she helped the blood-drenched woman from the red-tinted ground.
"Don't pretend you didn't enjoy that." B'Elanna grinned toothily as she wiped blood from her lips. Her wounds healed completely while Annika smiled agreeably in response. A grim look soon overshadowed B'Elanna's jesting. "Things have gone to hell."
"What do we do?"
"Take them out and not get killed in the process." B'Elanna pulled Annika to the ground as a shock grenade whizzed past them and collided with one of the assault jeeps. The militants within the disempowered jeep came out of the armored vehicle firing their rifles at the military men and women guarding civilians while still trying to fight off members of the Obsidian Order.
Annika followed B'Elanna to where Billy Telfer was standing in defense of the crowd of protestors both pro- and anti-metahuman and their would-be protectors. The air around Billy shimmered and sparked when hit by gunfire and attacks by members of the Obsidian Order alike.
"I'm not going to be able to hold them off much longer." Billy's voice shook from the strain of his continuous force field generation and sweat streamed down his boyish face.
"Stay with it, ZeroG." Lyndsay pushed her way through the throng of combat-dressed men and woman. "The evacuation vehicles will get here in ten minutes and an air strike is on its way."
"An air strike! Are they insane?" B'Elanna ignored the angry and scared shouts of the crowd as she took in the battle-laden streets. "We need to get this situation under control. Now. We can't keep pulling our punches anymore."
"The captain wouldn't want that." Billy's voice indicated that he didn't care for that idea either.
"She's not here is she?" B'Elanna's voice was a low growl and her hands were tight fists in front of her. "We need to end this fight as quickly as possible. And we won't be able to do that unless we take them out as fast as we can and yeah that'll mean a few people will die. But if that air strike goes bad there'll be a lot more deaths before this thing is over."
Annika turned away from B'Elanna's argument with Lyndsay and Billy to take in the battle. Chakotay, in full wolf form, was obviously restraining himself though he was able to take out three heavily armed men though he received a few damaging shots to his thick hide in the process. And it seemed that for every one militant he took down three more came after him. As his coat was matted with his own blood his movements were slowing down.
Tom was zooming like a comet low enough to the ground to intercept shock grenades and other projectile armaments. Annika worried he wasn't moving as quickly as she had seen him fly before nor was his flaming trail as bright and powerful as it usually was either.
Massive uprooted trees were Celes' weapons of choice. She used their heavy weight and large limbs to swat away cadres of militants and vehicles alike. But like Chakotay, the assailants continued to go after Celes.
It would be easy, Annika supposed, to go along with B'Elanna's seemingly logical suggestion. The Friends of Humanity and the Obsidian Order were certainly not caring about the increasing death toll. Annika was almost ashamed it wasn't her conscience, but thoughts of Kathryn that caused her to vehemently disagree with B'Elanna. She was at least partially aware of what Kathryn Janeway had been forced to endure and to suffer through at the hands of humans and yet she always maintained a non-lethal protocol when it came to dealing with threats. Annika didn't know how the fight would turn out, but she had to believe that they couldn't lose their humanity trying to win it.
B'Elanna's loud and colorful suggestions as to where Annika could put her humanity were drowned out by the arrival of three shuttles suspended above the ruined White House.
Annika's heart sank and fear caused an icy lump to form in the pit of her stomach as she took in Lyndsay and B'Elanna's wide eyes. "What is it?"
Lyndsay's lips pulled up into a half grin before she smiled completely and turned her wide hazel eyes to Annika. "It's the cavalry."
Before Annika could ask what the hell that meant her attention was diverted to the fact that all the guns held by the Friends of Humanity and even the U.S. military were wrenched out of hands and pulled high into the air. The person responsible for the display of magnetism was finally revealed as a side hatch opened in one of the small aircrafts. He was a dark featured man who looked to be in his late thirties garbed in a black combat suit with dark teal piping that matched the visible magnetic field surrounding him, which facilitated his flight. Many of the people on the ground scattered as the massive ball of mangled weapons fell to the grassy lawn.
"Ah, Americans do love their guns." Julian Bashir descended to the ground along with the three shuttles. Nechayev, whose electrical storms had finally abated, soon met him.
Annika thought the Russian director seemed to have regained her haughty demeanor after the people from the landed shuttles began to roundup both members of the Friends of Humanity and the Obsidian Order. The latter provided more resistance, but were subdued by a series of stunning phaser fire.
Sirens filled the mid-day sky and with it Annika began to feel the situation was finally coming to an end except for one vital part. Kathryn Janeway was still nowhere to be found. She wondered if the others were being over-confident or that she wasn't being confident enough in Janeway's capabilities. B'Elanna's almost disappointed but mostly grudgingly relieved expression was the last thing Annika saw before her perception turned green.
"My God, Regina, what have you done?" Janeway's voice was quiet due to fatigue and the icy fear she felt throughout her petite frame.
"Two years ago I found her on the verge of death, comatose, after a car accident." Regina smiled cruelly as she slowly ran her cold, metal fingers across Janeway's face as if they were lovers. "She was powerful, but untested and unknown to the UFM, a perfect subject for the acceleration process. I had the ideal specimen for my purposes until your intervention."
"What you and Moset did was-"
Janeway cried out in pain when Regina lifted her off her feet by a hard, metal hand around her throat and pushed her against a nearby bulkhead.
"Spare me your self-righteous recriminations." Regina's warm breath wafted across Janeway's pained face as she pressed her unforgiving metallic body against her. "You have never seen the world realistically. We are at war with the humans. We have been since they first became aware of our existence. It's a fantasy to think we can ever live in peace with them. They're animals that we should rule over."
"That hate will lead us to a world war." Janeway's body was far too exhausted to struggle within Regina's grasp. She barely had enough energy to speak.
"It's already begun." Regina enjoyed the flush of anger that reddened Janeway's cheeks and the worry that inspired stormy gray eyes. She pressed her cold, gray lips to Janeway's with a passion that seemed incongruent with her inhuman form. She bit Janeway's bottom lip before she retreated from the other woman's unresponsive lips. "You are mine now."
"That's what you've always thought, Regina, and that's why I never could be." A determined glint infused Janeway glare with steel. "I will resist."
"It'll be futile." Regina dropped Janeway to the steel plated floor unable to face the repulsed expression upon Janeway's features and unwilling to show it. Janeway landed on the deck with a groan and with a pain that soon took away her consciousness.
Regina moved to her control console in the center of the circular green-lit chamber and after inputting a series of commands the transportation apparatus glowed green before it deposited a surprised Annika Hansen.
"Kathryn!" Annika overcame her confusion quickly upon seeing Janeway bloodied and unconscious, crumpled on the floor with metal shackles on her wrists and ankles. Unaware and uncaring of anything but getting to Janeway, Annika sprinted across the metal deck to kneel next to the fallen leader. Annika watched with worry constricting her chest as Kathryn's eyes fluttered but resisted opening completely. "Oh my God. Kathryn?"
Annika shattered the titanium restraints as carefully as she could so as to not further damage Kathryn's vulnerable body. She absorbed the metal surrounding her right hand before she gently brushed away strands of blood-soaked hair from Janeway's sweat-drenched face.
"You've performed well." Regina saw that Annika had seemed to forget her presence because the other woman jerked upon hearing her voice.
"What have you done to her?" Annika's right hand was balled into a fist even as the metal plating recovered it. Fury and worry warred within her, but as she saw the inhuman looking woman approach Annika's anger won over.
Annika yowled in pain as her fleshy fist collided with Regina's black metal midsection. She cradled her hurting hand and looked at her pink flesh as if it were foreign to her. "How?"
"A power negator." Regina held up a green-lit circular device as she drew closer to Annika. She picked Annika up by her throat and held her close before she plunged two writhing tubules into her neck. Green energy coursed into Annika's body from Regina that caused her to scream out in agony and confusion as her mind, her consciousness, her individuality was taken over by the awesome will of Regina McQueen, known to others as the Borg Queen.
Kathryn Janeway awoke slowly as if from a bad dream. She groaned aloud since the pain in her body indicated that fallacy was just wishful thinking on her part. A soft hand on her cheek was comforting and Janeway opened her eyes despite the harsh green lights of the chamber. She was relieved to see Annika smiling gently before her.
"Annika? You're all right." Janeway grasped the other woman's shoulders as she was helped to sit upright against the hard metal bulkhead. Warm, moist lips against her own muffled her gasp of surprise. Janeway allowed the pleasurable touch until it became more aggressive than comforting. "We need to get out of here. To contact Chakotay's team."
Annika hid her disgust at hearing Kathryn utter Chakotay's name and instead helped Janeway to her feet. Her hold on the weakened woman was broken when Janeway saw the downed body of Regina McQueen. Janeway knelt next to the unmoving form with a disturbed and saddened expression that broke through her attempts to maintain an impassive façade.
"What happened?" Janeway kept her lowered, stormy gray eyes on Regina's still features as she used a gentle hand to brush over pale eyelids. A pain of which she hadn't felt since she had been forced to stop Regina's plans in Iceland nearly two years ago caused her chest to constrict and tears to cloud her sight.
"She attacked me." Annika knelt next to Janeway and put an arm around the bereaved woman before she pulled her to her. "I didn't mean to kill her. I guess I just don't know my own strength yet. I'm sorry."
Janeway nodded absently. She appreciated Annika's words but found little comfort in them. She took one more moment to mourn her oldest friend and fiercest enemy before she stood up with grace despite her weakened state. "Come on. We should go."
"I was so frightened." Annika increased her hold around Kathryn not willing to allow extensive physical distance. "I wasn't sure if you were all right."
"I am." Janeway turned so she was facing Annika with a gentle smile of reassurance.
"I'm glad." Annika gently placed her lips upon Janeway's. The kiss escalated quickly and Janeway could only resist for a few moments before she gave into the passionate embrace. It soon became more passionate and into something that couldn't be finished onboard Regina's sphere. Janeway ended the kiss and placed a hand on the other woman's upper chest.
"I'm glad too. That you're all right." Janeway smiled and it began to reach her eyes. "We should really go. Rejoin the others."
"The others are fine. We've won." Annika's hold on Janeway wasn't hurtful, but it was unyielding even when Janeway tried to move away. "They're probably celebrating right now."
"Perhaps, but arrangements need to be made. Damage assessed. I need to talk to the President." Janeway tried once again to extract herself from Annika's hold, but with a grunt of frustration she ceased her actions. "Annika?"
"Of course. I'm sorry. You're probably right." Annika dropped her hands reluctantly to her side. She maintained an even expression as she watched Janeway make her way to the central control panel.
"I can't get into the system. It's all encrypted." Janeway nearly banged her hands upon the console in frustration. She couldn't even deactivate the power negator that kept her powerless. "We'll have to do this the hard way I guess. I need you to destroy this device."
Annika frowned as she looked at the green-lit circular piece of technology that rested upon Janeway's upper chest. "I don't want to hurt you."
"I've been through worse. Besides the doctor can heal whatever damage is done." Janeway smiled reassuringly as she placed Annika's hand on top of the green-lit device. "Please, do it."
Annika contemplated her hand and the piece of technology beneath it for a long moment before she made her decision. "I'm sorry, Kathryn, I can't. I won't intentionally cause you harm."
"Well." Kathryn pressed the heel of her hand to her forehead and sighed in resignation. She knew she could never force Annika to do anything against her will. That wasn't who she was. "That makes things a little more difficult doesn't it?"
"I suppose it does." Annika tried not to look too relieve as she watched Janeway brush her hand over her strong chin while she contemplated what to do next. "What do you want to do?"
"There should be escape pods on board that can be released without tapping into central command." Janeway smiled when she managed to force open a weapons locker. She extracted two compression phaser rifles that were nearly larger than she was. "We just need to get to them without running into any of Regina's drones."
"Don't worry." Annika smiled as her metallic armor surrounded her more smoothly than Janeway had ever seen. It was fluidic and graceful. When it was finished the green lights of the chamber shone off her silver metal body that was both beautiful and powerful. "I'll protect you."
"I believe you." One corner of Janeway's lips moved up into a lopsided grin. She hefted the two rifles so they were braced against her small frame. "Let's go."
Janeway led the way from the central chamber into the mass of green-lit corridors of dark black metal grids. Her slate gray eyes moved keenly across the terrain even as she wondered why it seemed that no one was aware that she had escaped and that Regina was dead. Her worry shifted when she fell to the unrelenting metal grating as the ship shook around her.
"What the hell!" Annika had maintained her footing and ran to the nearest console, input her command codes and brought up a holographic screen. "Damn it!"
Annika more felt than saw the rifle pointing at her. She smirked as she turned to face Janeway completely. "Surprise."
"Regina." Janeway's grip on the weapon in her hands was as firm and strong as her resolute expression. "How?"
"I told you Annika was preserved for my purposes." Regina within Annika's form lifted her hands in a presentational manner. "This is that purpose."
"But how did you-you underwent Moset's method." Janeway was sure of her assumption, but she was still appalled by the implications. Regina's assimilation capabilities had become something completely different than merely expertise and mastery of all things technological into the biological. "You can't do this, Regina."
"I already have." Regina moved towards Janeway but stopped when she heard the plasma chamber within the rifle charging up. "My body was dying. I required a new one. Annika Hansen was reengineered to fulfill that requirement. And would have if you hadn't gotten in my way in Reykjavik. It took more than a year for my nanobots to form a corporeal vessel for me. In that time the Obsidian Order maintained Annika's comatose state until I was ready to send her out into the world. To be saved. By you; old reliable Katie. You fell for her right away. Like I knew you would. I also know you can't kill me now. Knowing that your Annika is still in here... with me."
"You're insane." Janeway also knew Regina was right. Her hands were shaking, only a little, but noticeably nonetheless. She cursed aloud at Regina, but more at her own unsteadiness.
"True. But I'm also right." Certain Janeway wouldn't fire at her or damage her even if she did Regina moved closer to the armed woman with a smug smirk on her lips. "Go ahead. Fire. I dare you."
Janeway's moment of hesitation was through and she fired the compression phaser rifle. The ruby red streak of energy destroyed the surrounding technology until Regina knocked the weapon from Janeway's hands that also sent her crashing to the deck. Janeway remained on the metal grated floor as the damaged sphere quaked powerfully around her.
"I won't be stopped! Not this time." Regina stooped down to pick Janeway off from the floor despite vehement protest against such an act.
She cried out when Regina pressed her palm to the device upon Janeway's chest that caused a surge of pain through her already weakened body. She fell limp in Regina's metal arms and tried desperately to cling to her consciousness as she was being carried through the interior of the sphere shaped ship steadily even as it shook around them.
"Kill whoever comes onboard." Regina needed only to relay the message to one of her drones to ensure that all of the mechanical minions onboard her vessel would carry out her orders. The technological beings that appeared to be masked and hooded men armed with phaser rifles began to disperse throughout the ship.
"Regina." Janeway's ability to keep her eyes open and her voice above a rasp was only due to her indomitable will. Her consciousness was fading away fast; she knew it and feared what that could mean for her country and her mission. "Don't. Please."
"The country is burning." Regina's voice was soft as if she was soothing a scared child as she brushed a metal encased hand across Janeway's damp forehead. "And in the ashes will rise a new world order. Controlled by those rightfully chosen by evolution. I shall be their Queen. Those who oppose me with be dealt with swiftly with death."
"Then... you should kill me now." Janeway moved her face away from the cold metal palm. Her voice was determined but rasping. "I will... do everything in my power to stop you."
Regina ignored the pain in her chest caused by Janeway's words. She brushed them away as irrelevant. She was determined to believe that Janeway had no power over her. And that in time Janeway would adjust to the new situation of metahuman superiority. That she would adapt.
"I won't kill you, Kathryn." Regina gently deposited Janeway into the co-pilot seat of a two-person shuttle before she placed a hand against the other woman's lower abdomen. "You will be the mother of our child, who will be more powerful than any who came before and will usher in the new era of metahumans."
"No." Janeway's repulsed reply was mild next to the disgust she felt chilling her to the bone. "You can't be serious."
"Oh yes. You see you were always meant to be mine." The metal encasing the face before Janeway pulled away in shards to reveal Annika's smirking visage that seemed wrong and grotesque to Janeway. Even more so when full lips pressed roughly against her own unresponsive mouth. "Not that I need your permission, but it would be better for you if you did not resist. You will realize in time that I'm the one with the power. Not you. Not ever again."
Janeway recoiled from the wild look that Regina forced to be on Annika's features. It was a mixture of lascivious want and crazed glee. "I'm not your mother, Regina."
Regina's head snapped back as if she had just been slapped in the face and was more than ready to return the favor. She didn't though. She merely brought the liquid like metal over her features once again and restrained Janeway with the chair harness and belt before she moved to the pilot's chair. The small shuttlecraft hummed to life as Regina initiated flight procedures and it was then Janeway knew it was now or never. The UFM troops were obviously closing in on them for Regina was more agitated than she had ever seen her. As covertly as she could Janeway eyed the large silver spikes that sprouted from Regina's forearms.
Regina pushed the shuttle as fast as she dared through the metal gridiron of her vessel because she was well aware that the UFM was not going to allow her to live even if it took one of their greatest leaders with her. "Sphere zero-zero-one, initiate self-destruct sequence, set for thirty minutes, enable."
The computer's response sounded like a chorus of a million voices. "Self-destruct sequence enabled."
"What the hell are you doing?" Regina's scream of outrage as she tore her right arm from Janeway's grasp was nothing compared to the ear splitting bellow that had emitted from the deepest depths of Janeway. "What have you done?"
Janeway might have been able to answer her if blood wasn't sputtering from her mouth as she convulsed in her chair. Later, perhaps if she were still alive, Janeway would have reconsidered her impulsive decision. Now she had to live with it. Or try to. The metal spike hadn't just destroyed the power inhibitor attached to her chest it had also pierced her vulnerable flesh. The metal sporadically blocked the blood that ooze darkly from the wound and glass imbedded within her body.
"I... have the power." Janeway smiled a bloody grin as the ambient energy of the shuttle and the larger spherical ship imbued her with golden light. She threw up a forceful blast of energy that expelled Regina through the windscreen of the shuttle. She extracted the remaining energy from the shuttlecraft that soon shut it down completely.
Janeway bit off a cry of agony as she pressed her hand to her bloody chest and exited the small vessel by flying through the opening Regina had made. The glow soon dissipated around her, which made her drop to the deck harder and faster than she would have wanted. Puddles of blood followed her as she dragged herself towards Regina's fallen metal form. A part of Janeway actually hoped Regina was dead. On the other hand the thought that Annika would have died as well was more painful than her chest wound and the broken bone in her right leg. Janeway kept moving, now with urgent speed.
Regina leapt to her feet faster than Janeway had expected and it made her land hard upon the deck with a groan of pain. "YOU! You've ruined everything!"
"I know." Janeway would have laughed if not for the pain.
"I will kill you!" It took all of Regina's will power not to let a metal fist end Kathryn Janeway's life. Instead she lifted Janeway from the floor and carried her as she sprinted towards the nearest escape hatch.
"No. You won't. You want me to have your baby." Janeway wondered with the part of her mind not focused on the immense pain she was feeling if she was slowly becoming insane from the aforementioned pain. "You really are crazy. Maybe part... of why I loved you so much."
Regina nearly dropped the woman in her arms both from what had just been spoken and because the ship shook around her due to heavy weapons fire. The surrounding hum of energy that glowed green in the metal gridiron of Regina's ship created a faint light that enveloped Janeway. It was enough for her to blast a forceful stream of energy from her palm into Regina's face, which didn't damage her extensively but did make her drop Janeway. She never hit the floor though. Janeway had just enough energy to fly high above Regina.
"Shut down the self-destruct, Regina. Or we'll die her together." Janeway had one glowing hand aimed at Regina and the other one clutched to her bloody chest in a vain attempt to staunch the bleeding. It also took all of her will to use the energy to keep her conscious and afloat. "Do it!"
"You won't allow it. The sphere's destruction won't just kill you and me. The explosion will take out half of Washington D.C." Regina smiled at the horrified look upon Janeway's features. "I'll disable the self-destruct sequence, but first you have to swear yourself to me. That you will be mine."
"You're not serious." Even as Janeway said it she knew it Regina was nothing if not always serious. "This was your plan all along. My God, Regina, do you actually want to be responsible for so much death. So much pain."
Regina's lips pulled up into a smirk. "I do. From the ashes-"
"These are people! Stop this. I know you can." Janeway dropped to floor though still out of reach of Regina for the time being. "Shut it down and I swear I won't resist any longer. I'll do whatever you ask of me. Willingly. Just... please, don't do this."
"How noble." Regina swaggered towards Janeway who stood very still with a defiant expression despite her offer. "How expected. The great Kathryn Janeway offering herself to me to save humans who would like to see her and her people dead or worse. You would sacrifice your life, your body for these 'people'? Completely."
"Yes." Janeway tried not to recoil from Regina's touch and tried to imagine it was in fact Annika holding her close. She shut her eyes and forcefully relaxed her body as Regina forced her mouth open with her tongue and bruised her lips with rough kisses.
Regina licked Janeway's blood from her lips before she spoke to her ship. "Sphere zero-zero-one, disable self-destruct sequence."
"Unable to comply due to damage to secondary command processors."
The awful look of realization and dread on Janeway's face was matched by Regina.
"Wait!" Regina rushed after Janeway, but she was soon outmatched by the flight speed the other woman employed. She could no longer see Janeway. Only the trail of energy left in her wake.
A somber Janeway stood before the overheating engine with her determined features lit green by the glowing core. Despite her loss of blood, the metal and glass imbedded in her chest, the broken tibia in her right leg, and her own lack of substantial power Janeway was unwavering in her resolve to prevent the core breach or die trying.
Janeway pressed her hands against the transparent aluminum that contained the awesome energy of the engine core and concentrated on gradually draining it of its power. With a cry of pain she fell to her hands and knees when the feedback surge disrupted her absorption. Sweat and blood dripped from her body on to the dark metal grating of the deck as she took the time to take in deep calming breaths despite the countdown to imminent death of more than three hundred thousand people and destruction of the country's capital.
"Did you honestly believe my engines wouldn't be safeguarded against you?" Regina stooped down to pick Janeway up from the deck plating, but was met with a repulsive force field. She tried again, but with more force this time. Metal fists collided into the glowing dome of protection that was quickly losing structural integrity. The strain was evident on Janeway's features even as she projected her force field out to propel Regina away from her.
Regina quickly and easily recovered from being knocked into the nearest bulkhead. She increased the thickness and durability of the layers of protective metal surrounding her as she approached Janeway once again. Instead of trying to break down the force field she merely pressed her hands against it.
"Kathryn, I will survive this explosion." Regina concentrated on extending her metal covering to go beyond her body. Janeway looked with confusion at the tendrils of liquid metal emitting from Regina's hands. "Annika had no idea what she was capable of. I do. You will survive as well... just drop the force field. You can't help these people. Let me protect you. Save you."
Janeway ignored the fact that her force field was already failing and that she was nearing a fatal loss of blood and instead focused her efforts on opening herself fully to the massive amount of energy that would be erupting in the matter of a few minutes.
"Come on. Come on." Janeway's voice trembled as much as her arms as she pressed her hands to the base of the engine core unable to get to her feet. Her field extended outward in small incriminates despite loud protests from Regina and the fact that her body was overtaxed already.
"LET ME IN!" Regina's fist banged into the glowing barrier, but to no effect. She felt her frustration and fear making her sick. Her voice became quiet and desperate. "Kathryn, please, you'll die."
"Ten seconds to self-destruct sequence."
Janeway couldn't raise her head, but she smiled despite how shaky her voice was. "It's all right, Regina."
Regina's hands slammed hard against the force field more out of desperation than anger. "NO!"
The explosion was oddly quiet as if all the sound was being sucked into a vacuum. The resulting massive green flare of light and energy seemed to be suspended in time after it erupted from the destabilized engine core. Waves of green tinted energy washed over Janeway which resulted in the instant evaporation of her already ruined business suit revealing a thin, but durable black vest and a pair of skin tight shorts, but even those were being assaulted by the immense amount of power infusing her body.
Janeway screamed as the unrelenting energy assaulted her. She tried to push past the pain, the agony, but she felt it through every millimeter of her body. She was being torn apart and still she kept herself open to the power, to be a vessel for it, even as she began to slip away into darkness. Something deep within her, hidden away from others and usually herself, laid in waiting coaxing her to let go, to allow it reign over her mind and body. She continued to absorb the engine core's power as she finally relented to the temptation, an almost automatic defense mechanism against the overwhelming pain and unrelenting energy flooding her body.
"Magnificent." Regina was transfixed as she watched with awe and pleasure as Janeway's body turned nearly white with power, like a tiny sun.
Tendrils of energy surged around Janeway's crouched form as the last of the engine's power was pulled into her body. Regina couldn't bring herself to look away from Janeway who glowed brightly from an internal surplus of power that could not be fully contained within such a small feminine vessel. She thought Janeway looked like a warrior goddess framed in fire and bathed in beauty.
The sphere shuddered violently around Regina as the emergency power righted the ship with anti-gravity thrusters and kept it afloat. Once her equilibrium was restored Regina moved closer to where Janeway was still crouched on the floor with her hands pressed tightly against the now demolished engine core. Her long thick auburn hair flowed behind her with streams of white-hot energy coursing through each strand.
"Kathryn?" Regina felt uneasy when Janeway didn't acknowledge her and continued to ignore her even as she drew close enough to feel the heat emanating from the other woman. "Kathryn?"
A sound of surprise burst forth from Regina when she landed hard on the deck with Janeway's slight, but powerful body on top of her. Her exclamation of surprise was replaced by a deep throated groan when unexpectedly, but pleasantly, the woman on top of her pressed their bodies together while Janeway's mouth ravished hers.
"S-stop! Stop!" Regina pushed Janeway forcefully off her when her touch began to burn her literally. The damage to the thick metal casing held the evidence of the massive amount of energy Janeway had at her disposal. "What's wrong with you?"
"I want more." Janeway smiled hungrily at Regina as she approached the bemused woman. "I need more."
"This place is creepy." Tom's light blue eyes moved from one dimly lit crevice of the interior of the spherical ship to another. He maintained a mild amount of thermo-chemical energy around him so he was prepared for anything. "Am I the only one creeped out by this place?"
"Shut up, Paris." B'Elanna's keen eyes roamed over places Tom's sight wouldn't allow him to see. She saw nothing untoward and that made her skin crawl. "And keep your blaze down you're lit up like a damned nightlight."
Chakotay and Neelix were growling quietly in their respective animalistic forms as they took up the rear of the eight-person away team. Kes couldn't help but place a soothing hand on Neelix's orange and black furred back in attempt to ease the tension she sensed from him. She felt it from the others as well. It was beginning to overpower her so she forced herself to close her mind to the distracting emotions.
"This is a rather unpleasant place." Doctor Zimmerman's sardonic voice barely hid the fact that he was disturbed by the eerily quiet and vast ship they had found themselves in. It hadn't helped that they had come across dozens of inert mechanical beings that on first glance appeared to be corpses.
Harry's eyes were glued to his glowing tricorder in an attempt to be ready for anything. "The energy surges are coming from beyond that-Get down!"
The wall before them exploded outwardly by a blast that shook the deck plating around them, singed the air and added a smell of burning ozone. Not soon after a silver form was expelled through the opening before colliding heavily into a bulkhead.
"Annika?" B'Elanna rushed with legs faster than those around her to the fallen metal encased woman uncaring of any danger that could befall her in doing so. "Are you all right? What the hell's going on?"
"Kathryn." Regina groaned as she lay immobilized upon the deck while silver liquid-like metal flowed erratically across her pale skin and retracted into her body before it was secreted again.
"My God." B'Elanna didn't know what exactly was happening, but she could tell enough that Annika didn't look good and that worried her. "Where's Janeway?"
"It's all wrong." Regina gripped B'Elanna's biceps as she lifted her upper body from the deck. Her icy blue eyes shifted from B'Elanna's worried features to the fiery creature that appeared in the breach made in the thick metal wall.
B'Elanna quickly turned her head to look over her shoulder at what had caught Annika's attention. In a shocked daze she stood and absently helped Annika to her feet, as unsteady as they were, as well. Kathryn Janeway stood silently with a blaze of fiery white and orange energy emanating from her petite form in waves of scorching heat and light. Her flesh looked akin to the surface of the sun with flares of white-hot energy rippling in torrents across her body.
"Captain?" B'Elanna felt an inexplicable feeling of dread fill her. The stony silence, still features, and immense dispersion of energy made for an intimidating sight. She felt slightly relieved, but embarrassed because of it, when she was soon flanked by the rest of the away team.
"Annika, what hell's going on?" Tom pushed forward and though he wanted an answer from the woman held in B'Elanna's arms his eyes never moved from Janeway's blazing form. "Captain? Are you okay?"
"Tom, wait. We don't know what's going on."
Kes' words of warning were ignored as Tom continued to move closer to Janeway until he was standing on the other side of the rift in the metal wall that she had made.
"Tom, I'm glad you're here. I need you. Please." Janeway's voice was soft, husky, alluring. She held her hand out to be taken in Tom's, which he did, urgently. She smiled a lop-sided grin when his thermo-chemical discharges mingled with her own energy field.
Tom dropped to his knees as he felt his internal power reserves being ripped from his body. He tried to extract his hands from Janeway's grasp to keep his energy to himself, but he knew he was failing at both especially when he was beginning to lose consciousness.
Janeway cried out in both surprise and anger when Tom and his coveted energy was ripped away from her after Kes delivered a powerful telekinetic blow that sent her flying back into Regina's inner sanctum.
"Tom, are you all right?" Kes crouched down to the fallen man who surprised her with his cocky smirk.
"Hell of a thing." Tom groaned as Kes and Doctor Zimmerman helped him to his feet. In truth what Janeway had just done scared the hell out of him. He felt his energy core reestablishing itself, which allowed a wave of relief to wash over him. "What the hell's wrong with her, Annika?"
"I don't know." Regina, ensconced in the physical form of Annika, wasn't as intuitive as she had been previously. She had to be honest with herself she really didn't know what was wrong with Kathryn. And that unsettled her. "I need to get into the engine room. Now."
"That might be a problem." B'Elanna absently held onto Annika as a golden blaze flared forth almost touching the nine people standing determinedly, but also anxiously in a bent line. "Tom!"
Tom broke rank to stand before the barrage of superheated plasma that emanated from their leader, their mentor, and for some and especially Tom Paris, their savior. He held his hands up and concentrated on not propulsion but protection. He struggled and groaned against the strain of maintaining his blast-field, but nothing short of death would keep him from trying to defend his teammates and friends despite who the person was on the other side of the shield.
He had no idea what had happened to Janeway to make her lash out at her own team or to try to drain him of his power but he wasn't going to give her the benefit of the doubt. If she was under some sort of control he knew she wouldn't want him to. It was hard though, he wanted so much to reach out and help her. She didn't seem as inclined to do the same as she intensified her attack on his protective barrier.
Tom knew he was losing ground when his energy field began to fade in its intensity and shrank in size. He used the rest of his power reserves to shape the field around the fiery form of Kathryn Janeway instead to try to imprison her for as long as his energy supply remained.
Kes stood next to Tom and extended her aid by reinforcing the field he had erected around Janeway. She felt Tom's anxiety that his blast-field wouldn't hold and she knew he had every right to be worried. Their combined forces were nothing compared to the awesome power at Janeway's disposal. Kes maintained her force field even when the orange and red blast-field Tom had formed destabilized completely as the man fell into unconsciousness.
"Harry, get everyone out! Go, Harry, now!" Kes heard the protests but knew they were for naught. The rest of the team knew they didn't stand a chance against Janeway alone. They needed to regroup and get help. She was relieved when Harry formed a purple glowing doorway and reluctantly led the way out.
With the others gone Kes concentrated solely on maintaining her force field. She strained against the mental pressure such a task required of her, but knew it was up to her to at least attempt to get through to Janeway.
"Why are you doing this? The Kathryn Janeway I know wouldn't hurt anyone without good cause, especially her team." There was confusion on Kes' voice because she sensed no other presence, no mind control, or any other explanation for Janeway's behavior. "What is it that you want?"
"Power." Janeway's lips curled up into a hungry grin as her glowing eyes raked over Kes' small form. "Your power. And I'll have it soon."
"No!" Tears sprang to Kes' eyes as she remembered the promise Kathryn Janeway had made to her and the promise she had made in return her first day at the Voyager Institute.
"Kes, if that day were to come; where there would be no other option but to kill you to save you from yourself and to protect others... Yes, I would kill you, without hesitation." Janeway took the small woman's shoulders in her hands and bent forward to look into the violet eyes that were beginning to brim with determined tears.
"And if that day were to ever come for me... I'd expect nothing less from you either."
"I promise. Thank you. Thank you so much." Kes had flung herself at the older woman and cried, grateful beyond words that if she were to become a monster her fate would be swift. "Thank you."
"Kes. You don't honestly believe you'll win this." Janeway's voice was cold and crueler than Kes had ever heard. "Resistance is futile."
"I made a promise to a woman who is the strongest most honorable person I know. And I intend to keep it." Kes' violet eyes glowed brightly as she pushed into Janeway's mind. "You have no idea what I am capable of."
"Let's see shall we?" Janeway smiled toothily as she began to forcefully absorb the psychic energy from Kes' force field into her body. "You're power is becoming mine. It feels good. But I want more. Let's break down some of those walls, hmm."
Janeway's stolen psionic energy pushed into Kes' mind and began to attack the mental barriers Picard had erected in Kes' mind nearly four years ago. When they finally gave way the mental powers that had been blocked for so long remerged with a vengeance.
The metal grates and bulkheads surrounding Janeway and Kes began to melt away as psychically produced fire engulfed Janeway completely. The blue flames flowed over Janeway in unrelenting waves and still the woman maintained her solid standing. She closed her eyes, opened her arms receptively and allowed the pain and the pleasure from absorbing energy she soon made her own.
Kes tried to reverse what Janeway had done, but it was to no avail. She was released and it was overpowering. The energy wasn't just flowing out of her it was being wrenched from her body by Janeway. She threw up a force field around herself to try to stem the transfer.
"Don't resist." Janeway's outstretched arms caused the fiery flames that surrounded her to take on blazing wing-like forms as they curled to surround Kes. "Just let it happen."
"No!" Kes tried to strengthen her protective bubble and to push it outward, but she knew it was futile. If she pushed too much she would lose all control over her nearly released and immense power. Janeway would draw every last bit of her energy and all would be lost. She needed to end this and end it now.
The glowing violet knife-like projectile composed completely of raw and powerful psionic energy struck Janeway squarely in the chest.
"I'm sorry, Kathryn."
(to be continued)