End Game redux
My first try at a dark story
End Game redux
My first try at a dark story
Title: The Long Dark Coffee Time of the Soul
Author: Captain Katie
Rating: Very NC-17 for sex between two consenting women, swearing, violence including torture and threats of sexual violence, death and destruction
Setting: A different take on Endgame (sans all the Seven with Chakotay crapolla)
Summary: On Stardate 53317 Captain Janeway was abducted by the Kellidians though eventually she was rescued. What if she was brought back to Voyager not so safe and sound? My first truly dark story.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns anything relating to Star Trek, and the writers, and actors/actresses own some of the words especially Kenneth Biller and Robert Dohetry who wrote the teleplay for “Endgame”.
Warning: This story includes torture and major character death (Seven et al.), but that’s what the reset button is for, right?
Feedback: Yes please!!! Katie_x@hotmail.com
Her good looks coulda
sailed a ship
But her will alone coulda sunk it – Rilo Kiley “Close Call”
The sleek silver shuttlecraft streaked in bold colors of blue, green, and red as it dropped out of warp into the emptiness of space. The only sound within the vessel was the steady breathing of the three occupants inside, which clearly bespoke their commitment to their mutual mission. A mission all three knew they would never come back from. The quiet was broken by a male voice filled with resolution and purpose.
“Computer, activate the chrono-deflector.”
26 Hours Earlier
The lone occupant of the well-furnished penthouse apartment only half listened to the newscaster as he spoke of the USS Voyager’s “triumphant return to Earth”. It had happened a decade ago, but at times to her it felt as if it had occurred only yesterday.
“…the tenth anniversary of their return, we take a moment to recall the sacrifices made by the crew—”
“Computer, end display.” Kathryn Janeway’s low, husky voice was a mixture of warmed velvet and cold, hard steel even when she was alone, her only orders to her monitor. She took a hearty drink of the amber colored liquid contained within a metal mug that was slightly bent out of shape as she moved slowly, carefully to her windows. Though she peered out of the transparent aluminum she wasn’t giving much attention to the beauty of the San Franciscan nightscape. No, her thoughts were solely on one person. A woman. Her former crewmember. Her almost lover.
Janeway drank the last of the liquid that burned as it made its way down her throat before she set the empty mug indifferently on a nearby end table. With a grunt of effort she settled her petite form onto her couch. A holopic she had brought out earlier rested next to her. She knew it was perhaps masochistic to keep the image, but she didn’t have the strength to delete it. It was a photo of her almost thirty years younger and foolishly happy. Next to her younger self was the most beautiful woman she had ever known. It wasn’t just the remarkable physical appearance of the woman who gazed adoringly at Captain Janeway. No, it was always Seven’s heart that Kathryn had found the most beautiful, precious. With an uneven inhalation of breath she activated the screen.
“I do not understand the purpose of a ‘get well’ party if I am already well.”
Kathryn’s lips turned up slightly into a smile that was both blissful and filled with pain. She hadn’t known Seven’s feelings then. Hell, she hadn’t entirely known her own. All she had known when she had requested Neelix to throw a party for Seven in the Mess Hall was that her relief and joy had been monumental. The Doctor had successfully replaced Seven’s failing cortical node with the one Icheb had selflessly sacrificed. So Seven was still with them, alive and safe.
“Well, then it’s a ‘glad that you’re well’ party.”
How blind she had been to not have seen how Seven’s eyes sparkled with amusement, with love and affection.
Naomi Wildman’s voice preceded the end of the video. “Captain! Seven! Smile!”
“I’m sorry, Seven.” Kathryn’s voice was a mere whisper in the dark vastness of her apartment as the tips of her fingers brushed across Seven’s image. “I’m sorry I didn’t take you to Bloomington. I’m sorry you never saw the Grand Canyon. I’m sorry that I couldn’t save you.”
The hot flow of tears only came after she had flung the PADD against the far wall of her apartment. The image on the rectangular display faltered until it finally vanished to be replaced by blackness. Despite the damage she had caused the PADD the picture still remained in her private, highly secured, database. Kathryn also knew that a year from this date she would call up the image again. She would think about what she had lost. Of what could have been. If the fates had been kinder to Seven. If they had been kinder to her.
Janeway braced her right hand on the handle of her cane as she removed herself from her couch. Despite her visible limp she still moved with strength and grace.
“Coffee, black.” Janeway knew she would never give up her beloved brew despite the Doctor’s wish for her to switch to something milder, like tea.
Uncaringly, she took a large drink from the metal mug and decided that the pain caused by the hot liquid would awaken her senses even quicker. She had, reluctantly, a party to prepare for.
“Here’s your drink, Captain.”
The bright smile that lit Admiral Janeway’s elegant features was well-practiced and a person who hadn’t known her for over thirty long years like the man before her wouldn’t have been able to detect that it was put-on.
“Thanks, Admiral.” Captain Harry Kim took the drink with a smile as he tried not to let any discomfort show on his worn features.
After all these years he was still strongly affected by the visible signs of the horrors that had befallen this indomitable woman. Despite the impressive advances of modern medicine she still had a limp, though the silver metal cane was nowhere to be found Harry noted. He really wasn’t that surprised. Even now he was well aware that she didn’t want to show any perceived weakness in front of her crew, former or otherwise. Harry was ashamed of himself and hoped he wasn’t flushing too noticeably for he wasn’t quite strong enough to look Admiral Janeway in the eye. She had only one organic eye, the other was a synthesized cortical implant designed by the Doctor. Though her left eye looked exactly like her other, the scarring around the socket indicated that a violation had occurred, an unthinkably painful violation. Harry took a large drink as he regained his composure.
“How’s Tuvok been?”
Harry regretted his question even as it was falling haphazardly from his mouth. The Admiral’s smile vanished and a rather haunted look passed over her features and both her eyes turned a stormy gray. This display only lasted a moment and suddenly she was the grand hostess once again, her voice light and carefully controlled. She sounded sympathetic and compassionate, but not sad or distressed.
“He’s not well.” Janeway placed a gentle hand on Harry’s shoulder as she led him away from the bustle of people in her living room. “I try to see him at least once a week.”
“I’ll try to go see him soon.” Harry relished the contact, but he knew the hand on his shoulder was only perfunctory. The impenetrable mask the Admiral wore was well-fitted.
Janeway smiled softly as she let her hand fall to her side. “That would be nice, Harry.”
“I—I’m sorry I didn’t make it to the funeral.” Harry’s dark eyes were cast down as he shook his head. Chakotay had died of congestive heart failure when Captain Kim’s ship, the USS Rhode Island, had been at the edges of the Beta Quadrant.
“You were out on a mission.” Janeway’s hand was back on his arm to lend comfort, strength, and absolution. “We all understood why you weren’t there.”
He wondered who was more surprised him or Janeway when he embraced her small frame almost too tightly. “It’s good to see you, Admiral.”
“Harry…” Janeway ended the embrace gently, but firmly. “It’s a party. Go find yourself another drink. And bring me one too.”
Harry quickly moved off to comply with her order. He didn’t know why he had hugged her. It was as if something was telling him that this party, this celebration of ten years being back home, would be the last time he would see his beloved former captain. He shook off the odd feeling as he ordered a whiskey for his Admiral and a double for himself.
Janeway’s heart nearly stopped when she saw blonde hair and pale blue eyes. She regained her calm once it became obvious that the voluptuous blonde on the Doctor’s arm wasn’t a ghost.
“Doctor, I’m glad you could make it.” It was a lame statement, but she was still a bit rattled at thinking Seven had somehow miraculously appeared in her apartment.
“Admiral Janeway, I’d like you to meet my blushing bride, Lana.” The Doctor’s grin was almost too big for his face and Janeway couldn’t help but smile in return.
“Lana, it’s nice to meet you.”
“It’s an honor to finally meet you, Admiral.” Lana shook Janeway’s hand enthusiastically, but not in a ridiculous sort of way. Her smile seemed sincere. “Joe has told me so much about you I feel that I already know you in a way.”
“Joe?” A glimmer of amusement caused the blue in Janeway’s eyes to become more prominent but not to the point of penetrating through the gray haze entirely as she crossed her arms over her chest. “After thirty-three years… Joe, hmm? It’s a fine name, Doctor.”
“Thank you, Admiral.” The Doctor might as well have been a puppy just given a treat as a reward his grin was so broad. His eyes shifted to the kitchen area and Janeway knew his attention was no longer on her and she was grateful. “Mister Paris! Ambassador!”
With a shake of her head, Janeway watched the Doctor and his wife as they greeted Tom Paris and B’Elanna Torres. She moved towards the front of the room and had to smile when she heard Tom exclaim the name ‘Joe’ in utter shock. She stopped in front of Reginald Barclay, a man who had not been lost in the Delta Quadrant but who had become a honorary member of the Voyager crew due to his unceasing efforts in getting the starship home.
“May I have your attention, please?” Barclay waited until the din of multiple conversations faded away and all eyes were on him. A decade ago he would have shifted uncomfortably from the attention, but these were his friends… his family. “Ten years ago, on this date, this crew returned home from Starfleet’s longest away mission in history.”
Soft, almost polite, laughter sounded before Barclay continued his toast.
“Twenty-three years together made Voyager’s crew a family.” His hand pressed to his chest, which assisted him in stifling the welling emotions that showed clearly in his earnest voice. “One that I am so very proud to have been adopted by, so if you’ll please join me in raising a glass… to the voyage.”
“To the voyage.” The gathered partygoers replied in unison as their glasses rose to the occasion.
“And to those family members who aren't here to celebrate with us.”
Janeway ignored the uncomfortable shifting perpetrated by her former senior staff. She ignored the sympathetic, near pitying eyes that were turned her way for only a moment before they were cast down and away. Even the Doctor’s new wife wouldn’t look directly at her. She studiously ignored how Reginald purposefully brought attention away from her and told an ill-advised joke in order to lighten the mood that she felt responsible for so successfully dampening. She wasn’t surprised, but was still relieved that no one followed her out onto her balcony.
Not physically at any rate. Three pairs of eyes followed the silver-haired Admiral’s departure from the party.
“Do you still have any remaining doubts?”
Ensign Miral Paris pulled her dark sympathetic eyes away from where Admiral Janeway had just exited through the sliding doors of the balcony to look determinedly at the half-Ktarian, half-human Lieutenant Commander who stood closely to the right of her. “No.”
“Acceptable.” The dark haired Commander to Miral’s left took a small sip from his champagne flute more to look inconspicuous than to actually imbibe the bubbly liquid. The bright lights of the apartment glinted off the dull gray metal implant that butted up against his left eye and prominent forehead ridge. “Korath has promised to have the device completed tomorrow at twenty-two hundred hours. We will meet at sixteen hundred, next to the Voyager monument. Do not be late.”
Miral nodded her head in compliance. The motion seemed satisfactory to Icheb and Naomi and with a few departing looks they left her alone in order to mingle with their fellow voyagers.
It was true that when Commander Icheb and Naomi Wildman had come to her with this… mission of theirs two months ago her first instinct had been to dissuade them or to inform her parents. She had not been able to do either. And now, after seeing the evident distress her beloved godmother was still experiencing; the anguish and loss that showed acutely in her slate gray eyes that rarely if ever shifted to blue, Miral was finally convinced that despite the protocols she would be breaking it would all be worth it. Their family would be whole again. At least that was the plan and Miral knew that if Icheb and Naomi were involved it was a plan that would either be successful or all three would die in the attempt.
Miral took in the partygoers with a look that seemed to convey a reluctant goodbye. Her dark eyes found her parents in the crowd. Tom Paris and B’Elanna Torres were talking, seemingly happily, with the Doctor and his wife, Lana. It didn’t go unnoticed to her that both her parents and the Doctor were stealing glances towards the balcony door as if their eyes could will the matriarch of their family to return to them. Not only from the cool evening air, but also from the Admiral’s own pain and sadness.
Miral tore her eyes away from their infuriating inactivity. She moved swiftly with grace and power through the crowd before she pushed the door open and stepped out onto the balcony.
Admiral Janeway’s firm dismissal stalled on her tongue when she saw who had interrupted her solitude. It was a pretty well known fact that Janeway could deny her goddaughter very little.
“Admiral, I apologize for—”
Janeway forestalled Miral’s words with a motion of her left hand. “Don’t apologize unless you mean it, Ensign. Come, sit with me.”
Obediently, Miral took a seat next to the Admiral on the well-worn wooden planks of the porch swing that seemed somehow fitting despite the modern surroundings. Miral knew it had come from the Janeway farm and she had always thought it somewhat magical because of that fact.
“I’m glad you could make it.” Janeway’s voice caught only a little, but enough for her to pull away from revealing her own emotions. “I know your parents are looking forward to spending time with you.”
“Well, I happen to know an Admiral that can pull a lot of strings when she wants to.” Miral smiled with good-humor though the pain in her chest was beginning to be too much for her.
This quite probably would be the last time she would ever see this incredible woman and that almost shattered her resolve. Miral wanted to reveal everything to the Admiral, but knew that what she was about to do with Icheb and Naomi would right a lot of the wrongs in Janeway’s life that could return the blue to the Admiral’s eyes. In Miral’s mind that was worth the aching in her chest.
“I know I—that we haven’t seen each other too often as of late, but I—” The Admiral’s right hand was sure and steady as it clasped Miral’s left hand tightly, earnestly. Moisture determinedly contained formed in Janeway’s eyes. “I want you to know how very proud I am of you.”
Before she could stop herself, Miral held Janeway’s hand between her own and brought the Admiral’s slim hand up to her lips. If it was anyone else she would have been ashamed of the tears that fell from her dark brown eyes. But this was Kathryn Janeway. Miral felt no shame for displaying her great love for this woman. She cried harder when Janeway’s hand escaped from hers in order to cup her face lovingly. The Admiral brought her other hand up so she could wipe away Miral’s tears as she whispered soothing words.
“I—I’m sorry, Admiral.” Even as she said these words, Miral fell into Janeway’s offered embrace.
“What did I say about making apologies you don’t mean?” Janeway’s voice was kind, comforting, with no reprimand in her tones despite her words. She held onto Miral tightly as if this would be the last time she would see her goddaughter.
After Miral’s sobbing had subsided, Janeway carefully pulled away from the embrace in order to look at the other woman directly. “What’s wrong, Miral?”
“Nothing. It’s nothing.” Miral knew how close she was to blowing her cover, but she knew the Admiral wouldn’t push her too much since she would just suspect that once Miral was ready to tell her what troubled her she would. And usually the Admiral would be right, but not this time. There would be no later time for them. Only an earlier one.
“I, of course, know that’s not true.” Janeway didn’t pursue the issue. Miral was as stubborn as her mother and would only reveal her troubles when she was ready. The Admiral could wait.
“Do you remember when I threatened to break that Klingon first leader’s arm at last year’s diplomatic summit when he said your demeanor was disrespectful?” Miral thought back at the brash man who had dared speak to Admiral Janeway in such a manner.
“Well… I was a bit rude.” Janeway’s smiling countenance was anything but remorseful.
“Why didn’t you let on to him that you knew Klingon?” Miral, glad that her tears were only dried remnants, smiled broadly as she awaited Janeway’s answer.
“It’s always interesting to see what is said by a person when he thinks you can’t understand him. I have to admit… some of those words I didn’t know. But I don’t think my mother would have approved of being part of his tirade.”
“Indeed.” Miral’s grin broadened even more as she settled against the back of the porch swing. She allowed the Admiral, as per the usual, to set the pace of their movement. Comfortable in their companionable silence Miral could only think of one undeniable truth.
I’m going to miss you, Admiral.
“How many false alarms is this now?” Captain Kathryn Janeway’s blue eyes sparkled with mirth as she crossed her arms over her chest.
“Three or maybe it’s up to four now.” Chakotay’s grin mirrored that of his captain’s as he thought about all the late night/early morning sickbay calls Tom and B’Elanna have made in this, the last month of their pregnancy.
“Well, one thing’s for sure, that baby is just as stubborn as her mother is.” Janeway pointed her finger in emphasis as she stood from her desk.
“True.” Chakotay’s broad smile showed off deep dimples as he watched his captain move around her desk to the replicator to order a ‘coffee, black’. “And if that’s the case we could be in some real trouble.”
Janeway nodded in hearty agreement as she took small sips from her metal coffee mug. Her eyes closed in appreciation as the hot, bitter fluid grazed briefly across her tongue.
“There’s actually a betting pool to guess the actual birth date and time.” Chakotay followed the captain to the upper-level of her ready room and took the seat next to her on the couch beneath the windows. His dark eyes sparkled with mirth that matched Captain Janeway’s own delight that showed clearly in her blue eyes.
“Hmm, is that so? Tell Harry to put me down for twenty-three hundred hours, make it… next Friday.” Janeway leaned back against the couch cushions as she relaxed her petite frame and enjoyed the respite from space battles and trade agreements. The area of space Voyager was traveling through at the moment was peaceful, almost dully so. But something kept Janeway’s spirits high. More specifically, someone. “Is there anything else?”
“Crewman Chell has requested to take over the Mess hall full-time. He’s actually prepared a sample menu for your perusal.” Chakotay handed the PADD to Janeway and watched happily as humor lit her features and warmed his chest.
“Oh my, if Mr. Chell’s cooking is half as bad as his puns we’re going to be in trouble. ‘Chicken warp core done blew’? Janeway looked up at her First Officer with a mixture of mirth and skepticism. “‘Plasma leak stew?”
“Not feeling adventurous, Captain?” Chakotay gently took the PADD back from one of Janeway’s finely boned hands. “His ‘red alert chili’ sounds pretty safe. Care to join me for lunch?”
“Actually, I already have plans.” Janeway studiously ignored the disappointment that flashed across Chakotay’s dark features as she smiled diplomatically. “How about a rain check?”
“Of course, Captain.” Chakotay smiled but internally he felt overwhelming curiosity as to what these plans were and whom they were with.
Seven used several meditative techniques learned or rather assimilated during her time as a Borg drone to calm herself. Her anxiety was unacceptable to her so she overcame it as efficiently as she could, despite how her icy blue eyes shifted sporadically to the large metal doors of Cargo bay two.
Stiffly she brought her knees to the floor that she had already covered with a thick blanket of red and white squares. Seven set the carefully filled wicker basket next to her as she tried to move her long slim legs into a more comfortable position. Despite the fact that she has been severed from the Borg Collective for nearly four years, she still wasn’t as flexible as a humanoid with no internal metal implants. She found an acceptable position by tucking her feet in behind her.
A wave of uncertainty was felt as Seven brought the bottle of Chateau Picard from the basket. She was well aware from her extensive research into human romance that wine was often times reserved for romantic dinners when it involved only two individuals. A part of Seven wanted it to be obvious that intimacy was precisely her intent, but another part, a part of her born from fear and insecurity didn’t want to be so blatantly obvious.
As she poured the red wine into two glass flutes she realized she had no more time to contemplate if her intentions would be discovered or not for the object of her desire stepped into the dimly lit Cargo bay.
“Seven?” Captain Janeway’s heart skipped a beat as she walked into the vast gray room. Her eyes took in the red and white checkered blanket, the wicker picnic basket, the two filled wineglasses and especially Seven of Nine.
Seven stood to greet her with a wineglass extended and a small, almost tentative smile barely brushing her full lips. Her icy blue eyes watched as the captain made her approach and her acute hearing picked up on the rapid movement of Janeway’s heart. Seven thought, hoped that she was not alone in her feelings. By the way that Kathryn Janeway’s eyes were a bright, rich blue color, a surprised but delighted smile played on her lips and the way her fingers brushed perhaps purposely against her own when the wineglass was accepted with a soft, husky ‘thank you’ Seven thought perhaps she was not.
“Oh, Seven, this is wonderful.” Janeway settled her small frame onto the blanket while she took small sips of the hearty red wine. “I hope you didn’t go to too much trouble.”
“I did not.” Seven’s smile was so small that someone not so attuned to her as Janeway was might have missed it. But since the captain was nearly hyperaware of Seven’s moods, her facial expressions and varying tones of voice she felt warmed by the look. Too warm, she worried.
“I’m glad.” Janeway cursed how low her voice had fallen, how husky and affected it sounded. She couldn’t help it though. The way Seven was offering her pieces of warm bread, smoky cheeses, and succulent fruits were all quickly becoming aphrodisiacs to her. The captain was observant enough to notice she was probably not the only one feeling the effects of such a romantic, beautiful, little lunch. “This is all so perfect, Seven. Thank you.”
“You are welcome.”
Seven and her beloved captain spent the next forty-seven minutes discussing their uneventful mornings over brie, wine, and bread in lieu of speaking of each other, themselves, or their relationship. Neither spoke of their want, nor need for one another. Their desire was left unspoken. Their love, affection and devotion, those too were left unsaid. There would be time, both of them assumed. There was always time.
“My condition is worsening, Doctor.”
The holographic CMO of Voyager was again amazed at the impassivity common to the Vulcan people. Commander Tuvok might as well have been giving a report on how many gel packs were in storage as opposed to the fact that he was suffering from a neurological condition akin to the now cured Alzheimer’s Disease that had inflicted humans until 2042.
“You’re right. I’m detecting lower levels of neuro-peptides.” The Doctor prepared a hypospray as he decided the best way to broach a perhaps sensitive topic. “I understand that you’d like to keep this… private, but maybe, perhaps it’s time to tell the captain of your condition.”
As the Doctor pressed the hypospray to Tuvok’s neck he could have sworn he saw a muscle in the Vulcan’s jaw twitch. “I will inform Captain Janeway if and when my disorder begins affecting my duties, Doctor.”
The Doctor nodded sympathetically and with reluctant acceptance. “Understood, Commander.”
“That’s enough talk about my love life, now I want to hear about yours.”
Seven’s hand almost dropped the small red disc she was about to place onto the hexagonal kadis-kot board. After she successfully made her move, one that she knew would soon lead to her victory, Seven eyed the Talaxian nervously. Neelix’s good-humor and warmth projected effectively in his broad smile and mirth filled eyes through the medium of the panoramic screen of the Astrometrics lab.
“I—” Seven could feel heat suffusing the capillaries in her cheeks and hoped the blush wouldn’t be too evident. “Do not have a love life.”
“Oh, is that so?” Neelix’s sharp teeth were clearly displayed in his broad grin as he wisely didn’t pursue the issue too bluntly. “Well, at least tell me how the picnic went. Did the captain like it?”
“It was… well received. It was an activity we both greatly enjoyed.” Despite Seven’s earlier denial she felt that the lunch she had instigated and planned for the captain earlier in the day had gone quite satisfactorily. Seven knew it wasn’t technically a date, though she thought it was a foot in the right direction, as the Doctor would say. “Thank you for the suggestion.”
“Glad I could help.” Neelix’s smile became almost painful to his cheeks and he thought perhaps he would burst from the excitement he felt that his much loved Captain Janeway was finally seeing what was right in front of her.
Seven, a woman he suspected had been quite taken with the formidable leader of Voyager for several years now, was finally to a point in her development that she knew who she wanted and would work to form a relationship. Neelix knew despite how Seven brushed off his observations that love was in the air that she wanted a romance between the captain and herself as much as he did. Neelix suspected a whole lot more. He had always been aware that Seven and Captain Janeway had a special bond. He had always known that the indomitable captain would never, ever give up trying to help Seven regain what had been stolen from her by the Borg. What he hadn’t suspected until his weekly correspondence with Seven was that the former Borg drone had fallen in love with her teacher in humanity. Neelix thought nothing was more romantic or fitting and if he could do something to help it along he would in an instant.
“What is that?” Neelix looked concerned as a loud beeping sound assailed his senses.
“The long-range sensors have detected high neutrino emissions with intermittent graviton flux.” Seven’s fingers played over the controls competently despite the excitement that began to build within her lanky frame.
“Could it be a wormhole?” Neelix’s excitement was evident on his kind features as he watched Seven work. Not for the first time he wished he was back on Voyager, with Dexa and Brax of course.
“Inconclusive. Additional scans must be conducted.”
Seeing that kadis-kot was a far away memory Neelix decided to instigate his own departure. “We’ll finish our game later then.”
“Thank you, Neelix.” Seven smiled softly before her features hardened into deep concentration after the Talaxian’s image was replaced with a star chart. The crescent shaped implant above her left eyes rose as she took in the readings. With no hesitation she pressed her hand to her combadge. “Captain Janeway, report to Astrometrics.”
Captain Janeway was seated at the head of the briefing room table as she watched Seven give her astounding findings to the rest of Voyager’s senior staff. When she had been summoned to Astrometrics Janeway’s heart had started to beat quite quickly in excitement at the prospect of seeing the beautiful woman she had just spent a lovely lunch with, but instead her heart was beating excitedly now for quite a different reason.
“Sensors have detected hundreds of distinct sources within the centre of the nebula creating the abundance of neutrino emissions.”
“So…” Tom’s brow crinkled as if he were desperately solving a math problem beyond his skill. “We’re talking about wormholes?”
“Hundreds of wormholes!” Ensign Harry Kim’s excitement made his voice pitch higher than normal.
“Radiation is still interfering with our sensors.” Seven stood stiffly, her hands behind her back, her eyes moved from Harry to the captain. “If they are wormholes it would be the most concentrated occurrence ever to be recorded.”
“Just think, one of them could lead directly to the Alpha Quadrant.” If Harry Kim was bothered that his enthusiasm wasn’t being unanimously shared he didn’t show it in his broad smile.
“Yeah, who knows?” Tom wasn’t near as excited as his best friend. He was much too cynical to hope for too much. They’ve been disappointed before. “One might lead right into your parents’ living room, Harry.”
“Mister Paris, alter our heading.” Janeway stood as she smiled kindly to Harry. “Ensign, you might want to tell your mother we might need the sofa moved.”
Harry beamed brightly as he nodded. “Aye, Captain.”
Janeway watched as her crew filed out of the briefing room, all but one. “Is there something else, Seven?”
She had been Borg, she was afraid of nothing. At least that was what Seven kept telling herself. But as she stood in front of Kathryn Janeway with her blue eyes ablaze with purpose and carefully controlled anticipation and a smile playing upon her lips Seven knew what she had to do, especially now that Voyager could return to the Alpha Quadrant soon.
“Captain—” Seven frowned. It was unsuitable for her use a title to address the woman before her in this situation and so she used a name that she had never used in the captain’s presence. “Kathryn.”
Her first name falling from Seven’s lips caused warmth to suffuse Janeway’s slim form as her smile grew despite herself. She never knew the sound of her name could affect her to this extent.
“I wish for us to embark on a more…” Seven chin rose in a clear sign of resolution. “Intimate relationship.”
“What?” Janeway’s blue eyes went wide in shock as did her mouth. Whatever she had expected Seven to say to her this certainly wasn’t it.
Uncertain now, Seven’s words began to leave her. “You… do not wish to be in a romantic relationship with me?”
Still completely stunned, the captain barely caught Seven before the briefing room doors opened to allow her exit, or more correctly, her escape. “Seven, wait. I’m sorry. You just caught me off guard.”
“Am I… unacceptable?”
The pain and uncertainty in Seven’s pale blue eyes broke something within Janeway. And Kathryn knew precisely what it was, it was the seemingly unbreakable captain’s mantle that prevented her from even entertaining thoughts about the possibility of having a relationship with Seven. Kathryn’s right hand cupped Seven’s face as the other grasped her bicep.
“No, Seven, you are far from unacceptable.” Janeway’s hands tingled as the left pressed against the fabric of the plum colored biosuit and raised metal and the other touched only soft, warm flesh. “In fact I’d say you’re extraordinarily acceptable. And I would be honored to embark on a relationship with you…”
“But?” Seven’s smile was firmly in place despite the incredulity in her tone.
“But I have a responsibility to this ship and crew. I need to get them home before I can think of myself. About what I want. What I need. Can you, do you understand that?” As Janeway brushed her thumb across Seven’s cheek it was hard to tell for whom it was more tortuous.
“I believe I do. I can and I will wait for you.” Seven held Janeway’s hand to her face before she moved the slim fingers and palm to her lips, which sent shivers of arousal through both women. “If this array is what I propose we will perhaps be in the Alpha Quadrant ‘sooner rather than later’.”
Janeway smiled broadly as she observed the evident affection in Seven’s icy blue eyes. It was seeing the obvious arousal as well that made Janeway wonder about her own sanity. She was not only denying Seven she was surely denying herself as well. She worried that it would be too much for her to bear for very long. “I certainly hope so.”
“Meet the Borg.” Reginald Barclay’s tone had all the dramatic flourish he could muster as he stood before his assembled class. The gray garbed cadets could only watch silently as a Borg drone appeared before them. The fact that it was a hologram caused little response other than scholarly interest despite Barclay’s ominous voice. “For this semester, we have the great fortunate to have the woman who quite literally wrote the book regarding the Borg, Admiral Kathryn Janeway as a special guest lecturer.”
Admiral Janeway smiled graciously at the clapping Barclay’s introduction had roused. She braced her right hand on her cane as she stood from her chair and smoothed the front of her red tunic down with her other. She moved fluidly to the podium. By the time her journey was over the mask of professionalism was well in place though she did smile warmly in thanks when she passed Barclay. Her slate gray eyes scanned the class of cadets and she was pleased that only a handful squirmed under her gaze. Actually, if she wasn’t mistaken, one eager looking young man was thrusting his hand into the air quite earnestly.
“Do you have a question, Cadet?” Janeway smirked sardonically.
“In 2378 you assisted the Borg resistance known as Unimatrix Zero—”
“What’s your question?” Janeway didn’t appreciate the smugness in the cadet’s tone. He actually reminded her of a young Tom Paris.
“I—” The standing cadet almost lost his nerve when narrowed gray eyes were pointed directly at him, but he persevered. “When you told the Queen you were liberating thousands of drones, would you describe the look on her face?”
That earned the audacious cadet a few snickers from his classmates and a near pull of the lips from the silver-haired Admiral. It wasn’t really a question that needed to be answered and so Janeway didn’t. Instead she called on a nervous looking woman with long brown hair.
“First, I just wanted to say what an honor it is to have you with us, Admiral.”
Janeway noticed how the young woman blushed faintly and shifted ever so slightly under her gaze and wondered if perhaps being a guest lecturer was really the best idea after all. “Thank you, Cadet, I’m glad to be here.”
“I—a few of us were, uh, talking before class started and we—I was curious. How instrumental was Seven of Nine in the success of the resistance movement?”
The Admiral’s mask cracked ever so slightly before it was quickly restored. Janeway cursed the way her heart thumped painfully in her chest. Her voice was soft, though quite serious as she answered as kindly as she could. “I don’t discuss Seven.”
“I—yes, Admiral. I apologize.”
As the traumatized cadet retook her seat one of Janeway’s aides moved quickly to the Admiral’s side. He whispered a message in her ear that neither the class nor Commander Barclay could hear but they could tell from the Admiral’s expression that it probably wasn’t good news.
“If you’ll excuse me.” No one needed to, so Admiral Janeway left swiftly with her aide following closely behind her.
Barclay watched the Admiral’s departure with a bemused expression, but he quickly regained his senses before he addressed his students. “Let’s talk about nanotechnology.”
“I’m sorry to interrupt your class time, Admiral.”
Janeway took in the concerned look marring the Doctor’s craggy features and felt a wave of worry pass over her that she didn’t allow to show in her expression or her voice. “It’s fine, Doctor. What is it?”
“It’s… well, it’s Tuvok.” The Doctor shifted uncomfortably in his seat as his eyes darted away from the monitor and down before they met Janeway’s again. “He’s been having episodes. The psychologists at Starfleet Medical are frankly at their wits end. You know Tuvok, always working on his logic problems and rambling on about them to anyone within hearing range but this time it’s quite a different matter. I was hoping you could come and see him. He seems to respond to you.”
She had lied to Harry. She didn’t try to see Tuvok at least once a week, in fact it had been over a year since she had last seen him in his degenerate state. It had become too difficult to see him. Became too difficult to look at the physical evidence of how she had failed her crew. How she continued to fail them. They wanted her to be their foundation, their corner stone, their hero. There were days when she could barely force herself from her bed. Often times the pain in her leg, imagined or otherwise, would weaken her resolve to such a point that she thought she would never leave her apartment. But as she had done in the past, so she did now. She carried on. She carried out her duty. She was the Admiral. So despite the fact that it felt as if a knife was being twisted viciously within her chest she nodded her head and agreed to yet another painful mission. Besides, didn’t she deserve the pain?
“Of course, Doctor, I’ll be there as soon as possible.”
“The shuttle is standing by for you at the Oakland shipyard.”
“Thank you, we couldn’t have gotten this far without you.” Miral opened her arms to the man who had become like an uncle to her in the ten years that she had known him.
“Don’t remind me.” Reginald Barclay embraced her heartily as he spoke with sincerity and regret in her ear. “I wish I could go with you.”
“I know. I wish you could too.” Miral disengaged from the hug and fell into line with her two fellow conspirators.
Miral wondered if there had been a time when Icheb and Naomi offered any sort of affection, at least to anyone but each other. Not that their relationship, if it could be called that, was that filled with affection. It was more violent than that, as if they were punishing one another for actions they had not taken when they had been mere children. Traumatized children.
“Have you obtained the chronexaline?” Icheb’s voice was hard, demanding as he ignored the emotional display before him that he deemed irrelevant and inefficient.
“I told you before, I’m only a commander. I don’t have access to experimental drugs.” Reginald Barclay gently calmed his voice and his features. Despite Icheb’s brashness, this mission was going to help a lot of people. One in particular. “I do have a suggestion. The Doctor, he might be able to give you some. That is if you can convince him to.”
“We can’t allow our mission to become widespread knowledge.” Naomi straightened her back and clasped her hands behind her in an unconscious mirroring of her former and very dead mentor. “He will try to stop us.”
“I don’t think he will. Did I? After you explained to me what you hoped to accomplish?” Barclay wished he could embrace Naomi and Icheb in the way he had Miral.
Reginald Barclay wished they would have offered such a sign of affection, of family. But as it were the duo was much more interested in what Barclay could do to facilitate their mission than any sort of feeling of kinship. He tried not to take offense to how he was a mere tool in their eyes. Naomi and Icheb, unlike Miral, had been old enough to remember, to know what had happened to their captain and the subsequent actions and demise of the former Borg drone who had loved her.
“Speak with the Doctor.” Barclay had very little doubt that when every detail of this intrepid plan was laid out to the former CMO of Voyager, the Doctor would hesitate but then concede. He was quite aware from their weekly games of golf that the Doctor was becoming increasingly worried about Admiral Janeway’s emotional well-being.
Seeing no other option unless they wanted to break into Starfleet Medical, which would take too long, Icheb spoke for the group. “Acceptable. We will convince the Doctor of the validity of our mission.”
“Are you three completely insane?”
The Doctor’s wide dark eyes took in the three Starfleet officers before him with skepticism and reprimand clearly displayed on his craggy features that hadn’t changed an iota in the last thirty years due to his construction of photons and force fields rather than flesh and blood. At the moment no one would have been able to tell the difference.
“What you are planning isn’t only against the oaths you took when you put on those uniforms, not to mention a clear violation of a dozen or more temporal laws, but more importantly you are talking about manipulating people’s lives!” The Doctor fell into his chair in an exasperated heap.
He had been pleasantly surprised to have Icheb, Naomi, and Miral as company despite the fact that he was already late meeting Admiral Janeway in the psych ward. Now, after they had laid out their elaborate scheme he wished he hadn’t been delayed by a communiqué from Admiral Pulaski previous to their meeting.
“We are not ‘insane’.” Icheb’s eyes narrowed considerably as he pressed his palms to the Doctor’s glass top desk. “What we propose will improve the lives of many.”
“You don’t know that. You have no way of knowing that. What if you do go back and change history and it ends up being worse?” The Doctor didn’t admit that he couldn’t fathom how the events could have been worse, but he couldn’t allow these three to embark on such a dangerous not to mention illegal mission. “I concede that your intentions are admirable, but that doesn’t make your actions any less wrong. I’m sorry, but I won’t be an active participant in this crusade of yours.”
“Fortunately for us you don’t have to be willing to assist us.” Naomi Wildman moved around the Doctor’s desk to stop quite closely to the man who had delivered her thirty-two years ago. Her dark blue eyes that held danger and dark intent made the Doctor actually twitch with unease.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” The Doctor pulled his eyes away from Naomi to glare suspiciously at Icheb and then Miral, who looked uncomfortable but not actively defiant.
“Give us the chronexaline now or I’ll reprogram you to be a little more… cooperative.” Naomi’s voice was cold, matter-of-fact, and the Doctor had never felt as afraid for another as he was at this moment. He had never imagined that Naomi Wildman would be willing to sell her soul in order to change the past. He had no doubt now that she would make good on her threat.
“Doctor, please, just give us what we need.” Miral was becoming more and more uncomfortable at the thought of manipulating the Doctor’s matrix despite the necessity of having the experimental drug to embark on their mission.
“Et tu, Miral?” The Doctor had such a look of betrayal that
Miral had to avert her eyes. “Fine. Reprogram me.
But know this, you will be committing assault on a superior officer… and
“That’s…” Icheb nodded his head once to Naomi. “Irrelevant.”
Admiral Janeway clenched her jaw, tightened her grip on the handle of her cane and kept her thoughts as clear as she could as she peered through the small window of the institution green door. She couldn’t quite recall how long she had been standing outside Tuvok’s room, but she knew it was probably enough time for the lone occupant within to know she was there despite how he paced agitatedly around the dimly lit room and mumbled softly to himself.
“Admiral!” The Doctor moved quickly down the corridor to greet Janeway with a small, abashed smile. “I’m sorry I’m late. Priority one message from Admiral Pulaski. You know how it is.”