End Game redux
See part 1 for info
End Game redux
See part 1 for info
"If we start now we might not be able to stop."
With heavy-lidded light blue eyes Seven looked upon the petite woman she held securely and lovingly in her arms. "I am willing to take that risk."
Kathryn Janeway's heart thumped near painfully in her chest from hearing the naked desire in Seven's soft voice. Her own desire caused heat to suffuse her small frame and for her own voice to lower huskily. But as usual her sense of duty won out. "I'm not."
Overwhelming disappointment made Seven's embrace loosen abruptly and she barely caught Janeway in her grasp again to prevent the captain from falling awkwardly onto the gray carpeted floor. Though the move was counterproductive in her wish to comply with Janeway's denial of what she knew they both wanted. The captain was now pressed tightly against Seven and both women gasped at the warm contact.
"I am sorry I am unable to comply, Captain." Despite Seven's words, she smiled minutely before her full lips descended once again upon Janeway's.
Janeway's deep throated moan of pleasure caused a shiver to run down Seven's back. The impromptu kiss Seven had initiated after their working dinner couldn't compare with the overwhelmingly passionate kiss they shared now.
They had been seated on Janeway's couch under the viewports sharing theories about the multitude of neutrino emissions. Seven had made a comment that she had thought mild, but when Janeway had released a full-bodied laugh she couldn't prevent herself from leaning over and covering Janeway's smiling lips with her own. Never having kissed anyone in such a way, Seven had been nearly overwhelmed by the rush of emotions and the way her mind had seemed to shut off to everything except for the feel of Janeway's lips moving against her own. That was until Janeway had gently, but firmly ended the kiss. But this kiss, this kiss was something else entirely. It held a promise for things to come.
"Captain Janeway to the Bridge."
Reluctantly, Janeway once again ended the kiss as she tapped her combadge. "On my way. Janeway out."
"My apologies, Captain." Seven still held Janeway in her arms, her warm breath brushed against the other woman's lips, and she certainly didn't sound remorseful for her actions.
"It's disingenuous to apologize when you aren't truly sorry, Seven." Janeway slowly moved out of Seven's arms though her hands lingered on Seven's forearms. "Besides, I wasn't entirely dissuasive. Now was I?"
"No." Seven smiled brightly. Perhaps they will not have to wait until Voyager returned to the Alpha Quadrant after all. The thought of Kathryn Janeway as her lover sent shocks of arousal hotly through her body.
"Perhaps we need to... speak about this more thoroughly once this situation with the neutrino emissions is taken care of." Janeway led the way from her quarters and was acutely aware of Seven's close proximity. "But until then... And Seven, please call me 'Kathryn' when we're not on duty. Okay?"
"Of course," Seven smiled brightly before she followed her captain. "Kathryn."
"Maybe Nebula Soup should be added to Chell's menu." Tom knew it wasn't an especially funny joke, but he thought his captain could have at least smiled just a bit. He turned back in his chair as he piloted Voyager slowly towards the outer edges of the massive orange and yellow nebula.
"Captain." Tuvok's even voice, devoid of emotion, still hinted at a sort of urgency. "There is a rift opening four hundred parsecs away. I am detecting chronoton emissions."
"All stop. Shields up. Ready weapons." Janeway moved from her chair to stand next to Tom at the helm. She crackled with invisible energy. Her slate gray eyes watched the small blue tear in time and space as it increased in size. The last time she had seen a temporal rift Captain Braxton had come through in an attempt to destroy Voyager, so she was appropriately wary of what this rift could bring.
"A vessel is coming through the rift!" Harry's eyes went large as he saw the signature being emanated from the ship. "It's Federation!"
""It's more than that. It's the Delta Flyer." Tom had a bemused expression as he looked up to his captain and was almost disappointed when her expression showed no sign of shock. In fact her eyes were narrowed in suspicion.
Harry had managed to calm his excitement to make his voice a little less shrill. "Captain. They're hailing."
Gasps were kept to a minimum and strangely it seemed that Commander Chakotay wasn't at all shocked by the strange pair that appeared on screen. Despite their aged appearances their identities quickly became obvious. Their presence here and when, less so.
"Captain Janeway, you must move Voyager away from the nebula before you are detected." Icheb's voice held just the barest hint of urgency and just enough authority to make Janeway bristle.
"You might become captain someday, Commander, but until then I'm the one who gives the orders." Janeway didn't appreciate how her hard commanding tone and force ten death glare didn't seem to affect Icheb nor Naomi very much. "I want t to know what's in that nebula."
"We'll explain everything. Just please, move away from the nebula." Naomi's voice was much more evident in its fear and urgency than Icheb's and Janeway couldn't help but be affected by how very far her captain's assistant had come. "Please, Captain Janeway, trust me, trust us."
Captain Janeway's hands rested on her hips, her slate gray eyes flashed a warning to the duo on the viewscreen despite their identities, and her jaw tightened in aggravation that yet again she was being pulled into one of these godforsaken time paradoxes. Without taking her narrowed glare off Naomi and Icheb, Janeway uttered her decision in a low, husky voice that the two time travelers relished hearing. It was nowhere near as worn or broken as Kathryn Janeway's voice sounded twenty-six years later.
"Take us away from the nebula, Mr. Paris. Warp Six." Janeway listened as Icheb gave the order to someone off screen to match Voyager's course and speed. So, Janeway thought regretfully, this wasn't the end of it. She could already feel a massive headache beginning to take root behind her eyes. She really despised time travel. No good has ever come from it. "Now, I want you to tell me what the hell is going on here."
Naomi smiled before she answered. "We've come to bring Voyager home."
The Borg Queen's chamber was drenched in green light and the Collective's voice. "We will pursue and assimilate."
"No. They have yet to compromise our security. And we know nothing of the time travelers. Let them continue for now. I will keep my eyes on them."
The Queen smiled ever so faintly. She would have to pay Seven a visit soon.
Miral knew she had never seen anything more beautiful than a vivacious, wholly intact Captain Kathryn Janeway. Even when stormy gray eyes narrowed suspiciously when they fell upon her, Miral felt warmed in Janeway's presence. She had never seen her more full of life or look as stunning as she did at this moment. This was the woman she had never known. She had been born too late to see her in such a lovely way. Miral blushed faintly when her daydreaming was interrupted by the Doctor.
"This is Miral Paris approximately twenty six years from now." The Doctor's voice held some awe as he looked at the fully grown woman who had yet to be born in their time. It had been easy enough to compare DNA between the two Naomi Wildmans and the two Ichebs. He had to take a sample from B'Elanna in order to conduct Miral's.
Janeway wasn't sure why but she didn't like how Miral, Icheb and Naomi looked at her, as if they were seeing a ghost. It made her uneasy, but she pushed it aside as she moved closer to the woman that was to be her goddaughter.
"Now that the Doctor has confirmed your identities I want answers." Janeway placed her hands on her slim waist as she looked at each of the time travelers one at a time before she stopped on Miral's large brown eyes, which were staring up at her. Of all of them Miral gave her the most pause, though she chalked it up to the girl not being born yet. "Starting with why you're here at this particular moment in time."
Janeway already had a headache and it was only growing worse. When they had allowed the Delta Flyer to dock in Shuttlebay 2 there had been strict rules. Senior staff members only. The trio was to have no weapons. Tuvok had seen to all of this. They had been divested of their weapons before they had been transported directly to Sickbay so the Doctor could verify their identities. Janeway, having just arrived moments ago now observed these people from the future, experienced a twinge of loss for the all too brief quiet that this section of space had allowed her and her crew up until now.
"You found the way home, Captain." Icheb took the lead as he stood very stiffly next to Naomi by the surgical bed. "There are hundreds of wormholes in that nebula. There is only one impediment to you utilizing one of them to return to the Alpha Quadrant. That nebula is occupied by the Borg."
"The Borg?" Janeway's headache just grew tenfold. "Of course, it had to be the Borg."
"There are worst things." Naomi voice was nothing like Janeway would have imagined. It was harsh and lacked any warmth. Janeway couldn't help but wonder what had happened to make her captain's assistant so cold. "We've brought technology that will get you past them. Use it, Captain. Get your crew home. Like you promised."
A chill passed over Janeway upon hearing the accusatory tone Naomi employed. Perhaps she should be wondering what she had done to make this adult Naomi Wildman so callous. Her attention was turned to Miral, who out of the three seemed to be the least aloof.
"Captain, the weapons systems and the armor technology are perfect for defending against the Borg." Miral smiled pleasantly as she said the next part. "You've saved us from the Collective more times than I can count. This is how you did it. They never stood a chance against you."
Janeway was definitely unsettled by the clear warmth and affection Miral had for her. She didn't know why it made her uneasy, only that it did. She tried to smile in return, but her attention was diverted to the Sickbay doors that had opened to emit the woman who instantly made her heart beat faster in her chest.
Any iciness fell away from both Icheb and Naomi the moment Seven entered the Sickbay. Janeway realized something in that moment. Something had happened to Seven. A pain filled her chest at the thought. She noticed Miral wasn't nearly as affected. That gave her another clue as to the timeline of events. What had happened? Despite temporal laws, a very strong part of her desperately wanted to know. So she could prevent it.
Seven nodded uncomfortably at the attention she was receiving before her gaze fell on Janeway and she felt warmth fill her chest. She handed Janeway her report. "I have scanned the modified Delta Flyer. It is impressive."
"Would we be able to integrate some of the shuttle's systems into Voyager's?"
Seven's eyebrow rose in a clear question. "I believe so, Captain."
"Here be Borg, Seven. If we want to use a wormhole we're going to have to get past the Borg." Janeway looked over the report and had to admit she was impressed by the innovation her future self had apparently implemented. "They claim the technology on their shuttle will enable us to do just that."
"The technology is impressive and in theory would be effective weapons against the Borg." Seven knew the transphasic torpedoes and ablative hull armor would be especially useful. "Do you plan to integrate their technology with ours immediately, Captain?"
"I do, Seven." Janeway swept over the trio. They looked relieved. Uneasy again she turned back to Seven's reassuring presence. "Have them work with you and B'Elanna. But, Seven, I don't want knowledge of their presence to be widespread."
"I believe the correct expression is 'the cat is out of the bag'." Seven smiled minutely at the adorably annoyed expression Janeway possessed.
"Well in that case, you three, I don't want a word spoken about the future. Do you understand me?" Janeway appreciated their quick responses of the affirmative. "Good. Work with the engineering team. I want those modifications up and running as soon as possible. I don't like being next door neighbors to the Borg. Keep me posted on your progress. Dismissed."
Seven led the way out of Sickbay and stopped for no one. Icheb and Naomi quickly followed, but Miral lingered for a moment and caught Janeway's eye. Miral smiled with relief and something else Janeway couldn't quite identify. Finally, the unsettling woman left.
"Amazing isn't it?"
"It certainly is something, Doctor." Janeway complimented him on his efficient work before she too left Sickbay to go to the Bridge.
Despite their identities and their seemingly altruistic mission to get Voyager home, there was something not quite right with these future versions of Icheb, Naomi, and Miral. Janeway felt it crawling over her uncomfortably. They were hiding something. Janeway just wasn't sure if it was malevolent or not. She wanted to assume since they were Icheb, Naomi, and Miral that what they were hiding was either not important or something pertaining to the Temporal Prime Directive. She knew it wasn't the former and apparently the three had little regard for the temporal laws, so what was it? Her intuition was rarely wrong and it was telling her loudly that something wasn't right here. But what?
Janeway passed through the Bridge swiftly, leaving it to Chakotay, before she entered the quiet solitude of her Ready room. With a soft sigh she settled into her desk chair and opened her personnel computer. She was pleasantly surprised to see a message from Seven until she read what it said: I do not like how they look at me.
"You and me both, Seven."
Janeway sent a quick message back saying she understood and that they could discuss it later, over dinner. She smiled at that as she reviewed Seven's report on the new Delta Flyer's technological advancements. She had to admit they were impressive. Janeway was beginning to feel hopeful, despite her aversion to doing so. She knew she shouldn't believe that just because they had some futuristic technology that the Borg weren't an issue. There hadn't been any readings of Borg activity, but of course the nebula would mask any ship signatures. It was a risk, but with the help of those time travelers they might actually pull this one off.
"Captain's personal log, Stardate 54973.4. We've begun to outfit Voyager with the upgrades taken from the Delta Flyer from the future. Once the major modifications are completed we will reverse our course and go back to the nebula. Although I have certainly had strange experiences in my career, nothing quite compares to seeing future versions of Icheb, Naomi Wildman, and Miral Paris helping to adapt technology that hasn't been invented yet. End log."
"Are you completely freaking out right now?" Tom stole covert glances at his daughter who was speaking with Seven about warp core modifications. "Because I am."
"You bet your life I am. But frankly I'm too busy to think about it obsessively right now." B'Elanna moved swiftly around her work area as she ordered a crewman to install new relays and another one to update the inductor capacitance before she turned back to her husband. "What are you doing here anyways? Shouldn't you be on the Bridge?"
"What's wrong with a pilot asking for a systems report from the Chief Engineer?" Tom knew his innocent look wasn't being bought in the least. "Okay fine, I was just, you know, curious. And I wanted to check up on you."
"I'm fine, Tom. The back's fine, the ankles are swollen but manageable. Plus I already know I have a healthy baby girl." B'Elanna placed one hand on her stomach as she gestured towards where Miral was working. "She's over there redirecting the plasma flow to our regulators."
"God, it's weird. Isn't it weird?" Tom had to smile though. Miral was amazing. She looked just like her mother and from the sound of the disgruntled yells, acted like her too. Instead of being intimidated he was elated.
B'Elanna's full lips were pulled into a broad grin as she observed Tom's affection gaze. "Already the proud father, aren't you? You know you're pretty sweet for a Starfleet flyboy."
"And don't you forget it." Tom placed a soft kiss upon his wife's lips before he pulled back, kneeled down, and placed an even gentler kiss on her raised belly. "I love you, Miral."
"Get back to work before I kick you out." B'Elanna held Tom's hand tightly despite her words. "This might be it, Tom. We could really be going home."
"You don't sound too happy about that."
"Oh no, I'm perfectly happy. It's just, I got used to the idea of raising Miral on Voyager and now I might end up delivering her at Starfleet Medical instead of Sickbay." B'Elanna pulled a face at that. "I want the Doctor to deliver our daughter, Tom, not some stranger."
"I don't think you have to worry too much about that. You'd have to decompile his program to keep him away." Tom snuck another glance and was startled when he saw Miral staring back at him before her eyes quickly dropped away. "It must be so weird for her too."
"You know you could go over there and talk to her." B'Elanna didn't add that she had made it a point to stay as far away from Miral as she could. She wanted to know nothing of her daughter. Frankly she wanted to be surprised by life. "I'm sure she doesn't bite."
"Well, if she's anything like her moth-ouch!" Tom rubbed his arm where B'Elanna had punched him in jest though it still smarted. "No, too weird, I'll go back to the Bridge now. Thanks for the report."
B'Elanna gave Tom's hand a warm squeeze before she let it go completely. "Anytime, Flyboy."
"Do you find their interaction disturbing?"
Miral tore her eyes away from her parents who looked so young and vital to her so that she could face Seven. A woman she had never really known since she had been far too young to remember her. All she knew of Seven was through stories that everyone she knew except for Janeway would tell her.
"No, it's just-they're so in love." Miral averted her eyes from Seven as she continued on the warp core modifications. "It's nice to see that's all."
"Are they not 'so in love' in the future?" Seven knew she shouldn't be asking this question, but she was curious. She wondered if she and Kathryn were still 'so in love' in their future.
"They are, I guess. They're just really busy with work. Mom's gone to Qo'noS half the time while dad is always busy at the shipyards." Miral shrugged as she tried to shake off her sadness that her parents were rarely affectionate. She wondered if it was her presence.
"I see." Seven really didn't, but she could detect reluctance from Miral to continue on the conversation. "We have made excellent progress. It is getting late, I suggest we begin again tomorrow."
"Do you have a date, Seven?" Miral nearly bit her tongue to keep the words from falling out, but she couldn't seem to be able to stop herself. "With Captain Janeway?"
"Yes." Seven raised her occipital implant at Miral's knowledge. She felt both uneasy, but also relieved that Janeway and she had a future together, a romantic one. "We are to have dinner together."
"That's nice, Seven."
As Seven watched Miral depart under the pretext of getting a spare hypo spanner she wondered why Miral's voice had sounded so sad.
"I want you to explain to me exactly how you of all people could be involved in this." Admiral Janeway's voice was hoarse and threatening as she looked at Captain Kim with more anger than he had ever seen before. "Then I want your pips on my desk."
"You." Fury caused Janeway's cheeks to flush red as she turned towards Barclay and pointed her finger accusatively. "I don't want to hear a word from you."
The Doctor stood in a far corner and shifted uncomfortably. He knew he had done the right thing by telling the Admiral of Icheb, Naomi, and Miral's plans, but he still felt guilty. It had especially pained him to have to tell the Admiral that Miral was part of the illegal operation at all. And now Reginald and Harry were receiving the brunt of Janeway's wraith because the trio of outlaws was on the other side of the galaxy and existing decades earlier.
The Doctor's intricate puzzle had fallen into place after he had recovered his audio files and thus his memories of Miral, Icheb, and Naomi's visit. He had replayed the files to Admiral Janeway, who had become angrier with each passing word. Then he had divulged the inclusion and cooperation Reginald had provided and then how Harry had allowed the Delta Flyer to go.
Doctor Joe remained very quiet, but he knew he would not escape censor. He should have come to her immediately but he had hoped Harry could take care of it without her knowing about it. Yes, he was going to get his very soon.
"Admiral, I admit their methods are reprehensible." Harry hadn't known about how the Doctor had been reprogrammed, but in truth it didn't surprise him and he still probably would have let the Delta Flyer go. "But their intentions are noble."
"What intentions? They are trying to change history. Do you realize how dangerous that is?" Admiral Janeway ignored the fact that there was a temporal paradox named not-so-lovingly after her. "Not to mention the laws they've broken."
"What would you have us do, Admiral?" Harry knew his tone was bordering on suicidal, but he thought what he had done was right. He wanted her to understand that this was for her. It was all for her. But he couldn't. He wouldn't put that weight upon her even though he could already see it crushing down on her.
"There is no us, Mr. Kim." Janeway's eyes narrowed considerably as she looked upon the man who had been like a son to her. "You are suspended until your fate is decided by a review board. You will remain in custody until then."
Harry stood very slowly as he tried to look his former, beloved captain in the eyes. He couldn't and he knew she had seen his aversion. Deeply ashamed, he didn't struggle when he was flanked by Starfleet security. "I'm sorry, Admiral."
Admiral Janeway heard the door slide close before she turned her eyes away from her clasped hands to look pointedly at Barclay. "As for you, I can't tell you how disappointed I am in you. For helping them carry out this misguided mission of theirs. What were you thinking?"
"I wanted to save you." Barclay would have never let his love for the Admiral show in usual circumstances, but these were anything but usual. He was about to be arrested. He understood and accepted that, but he wanted Janeway to know he regretted nothing. "I'm sorry you're disappointed in me. But I'd do it again. They're going to put the family back together, Admiral, your family. And I wish them success in their mission. They're going to save you. And Tuvok. Chakotay. And Seven."
"Don't' you dare say her name." Janeway's voice rumbled in a deep and painful place within her. She shook visibly from the anguish and fury fighting to get out. "You need to leave. Now."
Barclay said no more as he left the Admiral's office. Security was waiting for him outside her door and he sighed, resigned to his fate as he was led away.
The Doctor watched silently as the Admiral regained her ironclad composure. He thought maybe she had forgotten he was still there until her soft voice filled the otherwise quiet room.
"I need chronexaline, Doctor. I need it now."
"Admiral, it's nice to-"
"I don't have time for pleasantries, Commander." Janeway stood in front of Tom's desk with no less authority or intimidation than she had possessed twenty years ago. Tom thought perhaps she was even more imposing. "I need the Alpha Flyer for a mission."
"A mission?" Tom's light blue eyes went wide, but he was proud that his voice was kept fairly even. "But the multiphasic torpedoes haven't even been tested yet, Admiral. Not to mention the chronodeflector. We don't even know if it works so-"
"It wasn't a request." Janeway moved swiftly towards the door as she dismissed Tom's confused and hurt expression with a simple order. "Have it ready within the hour."
Tom watched the Admiral leave without so much as a look back. His voice was low and sardonic as he said his own response to the bracing and short conversation. "Aye, aye, Admiral."
He alerted his staff to have his latest experimental ship ready for Admiral Janeway's use as soon as possible before he contacted his wife at the Klingon Embassy. He knew she was busy with the assassination of a prominent Klingon inventor and his staff, but he needed counsel.
"Tom, I'm really busy, can this-"
"Admiral Janeway's taking the Alpha Flyer on a mission." Tom wasn't surprised to see B'Elanna's eyes go wide at this. It was a rare thing for Janeway to go off planet much less on a mission.
"What?" B'Elanna spoke to someone Tom couldn't see, dismissing them before she turned her attention fully on him. "A mission? What the hell's going on?"
"I have no idea. She just came here, demanded the Alpha Flyer be ready for her, and left. Something's obviously up." Tom thought of the one person he knew that could get through to Janeway when everyone else failed. "Do you think Miral might know what's going on?"
"I don't know. She's still just an ensign. An admiral's mission isn't really under her purview." B'Elanna considered contacting her daughter but thought better of it. Miral was close, perhaps closer to Janeway than anyone, but she still didn't think her daughter would be privy to what the Admiral was up to. Then B'Elanna thought about the Alpha Flyer, the ten-year anniversary, and Seven. "Tom, you don't think..."
As though he could read her mind Tom shook his head. "No. No way. She would never do that."
"Then what is she doing with it?" B'Elanna's instincts were telling her something was wrong. But she couldn't very well tell her husband to go against the orders of an admiral, especially not Admiral Janeway. Besides she had always trusted Janeway and now was no different.
"You know, B'Elanna, I kind of wish you were right."
"I know." B'Elanna thought of Seven again. And Janeway. What had happened to both of them over twenty years ago. "Me too."
"What can I say to convince you not to this?" The Doctor held the hypospray filled with chronexaline nervously in his hands as he watched Admiral Janeway pack for her mission. Suicide mission more like it, that's what he thought but did not voice. Not in so many words at least.
"I think you know me better than that, Doctor." Janeway pressed the last of her uniforms into a small suitcase before she sealed it. "Harry was right about one thing. We need to keep this in the family."
"At least let me come with you." The Doctor didn't add that he wanted to be there to monitor the Admiral's health. Despite the fact that if the Admiral was successful in making it to Voyager she would have his excellent care despite it being twenty-six years in the past. He was somewhat reassured by that knowledge. He was an excellent physician always.
"Sorry, Doctor." Janeway didn't look apologetic as her voice grew stern and unwavering. "This is my mission. I need to do it alone."
"You can't blame your-"
"They're doing this because of me!" Janeway's words were sharp, filled with self-recrimination. She took a calming breath as she softened her tone. "I need to fix this before the whole timeline unravels. It has to be me."
The Doctor didn't dare hint that he thought it might be all right if the timeline was changed. He liked his matrix just the way it was. "I understand, Admiral. And I know I can't talk you out of this. I just-I'm sorry. For everything."
Admiral Janeway was silent as she looked at the Doctor. Really looked at him. Of course being a hologram he hadn't changed in appearance since the first day he was activated, but he still looked aged to her eyes. Tired perhaps. She knew he worried about her. They all worried about her. Well, now they could stop. This was a one-way trip for her. She thought perhaps he understood that as well.
"You saved my life, Doctor. You have nothing to apologize for, especially not to me." Admiral Janeway hesitated only for a moment before she embraced the man who had pieced her back together over twenty years ago. "There's nothing in the universe that says life has to be kind."
The Doctor couldn't remember a time he had been embraced in such a way by this woman and he cherished it as he whispered earnestly in her ear. "I love you, Kathryn."
Janeway kissed the Doctor's cheek before she retreated. She couldn't say the words. There were none forthcoming, but she hoped he knew she felt the same. Somewhere deep within her was a woman still capable of loving another. At least she hoped there was.
"Goodbye, Admiral. And good luck." The Doctor watched Janeway use her personal transporter to go to the Utopia Planetia shipyards. He watched until the last blue shimmer had faded away in the midday sun's rays. He wasn't a spiritual man, but he spoke to any higher power that might be listening. "Please, be kind."
"How are the modifications coming along?"
"Commander Icheb and Lieutenant Commander Wildman are efficient. I'm confident the implementations will be completed within the next twelve hours. They were, after all, initially built for Voyager's specifications." Seven's flat tone bespoke her discomfort as did the small muscle that jumped along her jaw line.
Janeway set her wine glass on table, forgotten, as she laid a reassuring hand upon Seven's. "What's wrong?"
"I was initially impressed by Icheb and Naomi's maturity. They are quite capable engineers." Seven's icy blue eyes shifted as she tried to order her thoughts, her feelings, and her intuition perhaps. "I was proud of them."
"But you aren't anymore?" Janeway thought she understood what Seven was trying to say. She felt something similar, but she allowed Seven to speak uninterrupted.
"I am unsure. They are... cold, standoffish." Seven derived comfort from Janeway's touch and her words were infused with more certainty. "And yet they continue to stare at me. I am unable to identify their expressions, but find them unsettling."
"I think I understand, Seven. Miral also stares at me. It's like we're ghosts." Janeway wondered if perhaps twenty-six years from now they were. She squeezed Seven's mesh covered hand tighter. She wouldn't allow herself to think of a future without Seven. They had just found each other. "I know it's unsettling, but let's try to give them the benefit of the doubt. They shouldn't tell us anything about the future, more than they already have, so it's unfair for us to speculate about their intentions."
"Do you believe they are here only to help get Voyager to the Alpha Quadrant more expediently?"
"Even twenty-six years older, Seven, we know these people. It's Icheb and Naomi." Janeway purposefully left out Miral, but a daughter of Tom and B'Elanna who was an ensign for Starfleet could probably be trusted. "I'm also apprehensive, but I'd like to believe they're trying to help us with no ulterior motives."
Seven nodded her head in acceptance, even though she wasn't completely pacified. Janeway's warm hand that moved from her hand to her cheek felt pleasurable and distracted her from her unease. Seven supposed that was the point and she was more than happy to comply with Janeway's wish to change the subject.
"It's getting late." Despite her soft words, Janeway didn't move her hand from Seven's cheek. "We have an important day ahead of us tomorrow. A busy, busy day. We should probably get our rest."
"Indeed." Seven held Janeway's hand tighter against her cheek as she moved her lips closer to Janeway's until they were kissing.
Reluctantly, Janeway pulled away from Seven's lips. Her voice was low and husky from arousal and regret. "Maybe you should go regenerate."
Seven tried to understand Janeway's insistence that they wait to be intimate until they reached the Alpha Quadrant, but she couldn't. She wanted to make love to Kathryn now, but she deferred to the other woman's wishes and so she pulled away from the warmth Janeway's petite form provided. She stood with Janeway before she walked slowly to the door.
"Sweet dreams, Kathryn."
"You too." Janeway hugged herself as if she were cold as she watched the doors close behind Seven. She fell heavily into her chair a moment later. "I'm an idiot."
Janeway didn't know why she wanted to wait. They had already embarked on a romantic relationship. A glorious relationship, so why was she insistent upon waiting to make love? Perhaps, she reasoned, it was because she didn't believe she was deserving of too much happiness until her mission was completed and Voyager and her crew were home. Safe and sound. And hopefully that day was soon coming.
As Janeway began to clear the dinner plates her door chime alerted her that someone wished to gain entry. Her heart immediately started to beat faster as she almost hoped it was Seven coming to sweep her off her feet and carry her to her bed where they would make love until morning watch. Who was behind the door surprised her.
"Naomi." Janeway smiled politely at the woman standing stiffly in the doorway. "I'm sorry, Commander Wildman, what can I do for you?"
"You love her." Naomi's expression was inscrutable, but her tone was cold and harsh. "Then show her."
Janeway was both confused and highly offended. Her words left her in an angered breath. "I beg your pardon."
"Time is a precious thing, Captain. Don't waste yours."
Janeway stood in her doorway and watched Naomi's swift departure. She felt like she had just been stunned by a phaser. After a pause, she retreated back into her quarters with a cold feeling clenching at her heart. They obviously knew something tragic regarding Seven and it took all of her willpower not to drag the three of them into her Ready room and find out everything. Janeway tried to reassure herself that by tomorrow Naomi, Icheb, and Miral's odd behavior would be the least of her problems. She needed to creep by the Borg and get this crew home.
"Computer," Seven's voice was unemotional despite the smile she couldn't brush away from her lips. Dinner had gone quite well she thought. She could sense Kathryn's arousal. "Begin regeneration cycle."
As Seven assumed her usual regeneration position, the noise of the Borg alcove powering on preceded the metal tingled voice that seemed to fill the Cargo bay from no discernable source. "Seven of Nine, it's been far too long."
Seven's eyes abruptly opened. Even though she knew she was still regenerating onboard Voyager and not in the Borg Queen's chamber, she felt fear clench her heart. "State your intentions."
"You've just received three visitors from the future. Tell me why they're here."
"That is none of your concern." Seven's eyes blazed with the hatred she felt for this being. It colored her angry tones as well. "I am no longer a drone. I do not answer to."
"I know Voyager is planning to enter my nebula." The Queen's silver eyes brushed over Seven's lithe frame sensually despite her hard tone. "I suggest you heed my advice and alter course."
"Why are you telling me this?"
"You were always my favorite, Seven, despite your betrayal. I know how much you care for the Voyager crew... and its captain." The Borg Queen's lips curled up into a knowing, cruel smile. "Imagine my surprise when I discovered you are taking that imperfect being as your mate. Now imagine if I were forced to assimilate Janeway and her beloved crew. How would you feel then?"
Seven's cheeks were flushed as a mixture of anger and fear made her feel sick and desperate. "Voyager is not a threat to the Collective. They simply want to return home."
"I don't object to that, but if they enter my nebula I will destroy you."
Seven's consciousness was abruptly returned to the Cargo bay before she cried out in pain when an electromagnetic surge caused her to fall to the floor and swiftly rendered her unconscious.
"Warning: Regeneration cycle incomplete"
"Seven, can you hear me?"
"Kathryn?" Seven slowly opened her eyes to see the Doctor and Captain Janeway peering down at her with concerned expressions. "What happened?"
"Your cortical node was exposed to a low-energy electromagnetic surge, while you were regenerating." The Doctor tried to not let his unease show as he couldn't help but see the warm and affectionate looks being exchanged between the captain and Seven. "Do you recall anything amiss?"
"The Borg Queen." Seven tightened her hand on Janeway's wrist mostly to help reassure her that she was indeed fine but also to relay her concern. "I was to deliver a message. She said she would assimilate Voyager if we attempted to enter the nebula."
Janeway's heart thumped painfully in her chest at how easily the Borg Queen could get to Seven. That would definitely be something the Doctor and Seven would need to stop, but in the meantime she had to solve this crisis. "Seven, do you have any idea why this nebula is so important to her?"
"It's irrelevant." Icheb's voice was uncompromising as he, Miral and Naomi approached the biobed having entered Sickbay in time to hear the captain's question. "She will not be able to make good on her threat."
"You are overconfident." With Janeway's assistance, Seven moved into a seated position upon the biobed. Seven's icy blue eyes were narrowed and her voice was impatient. "The Borg Queen is unrelenting."
"We've seen more action with the Borg than anybody on this ship." Naomi actually rolled her eyes before she crossed her arms over her chest. "I think we know what we're doing, Seven."
"Captain Janeway, if you've had as much experience with the Borg as we have you would share our confidence." Miral realized out of the three she had the softer touch. She just hoped she could convince the captain or else Icheb and Naomi would resort to their more extreme methods. Miral purposefully kept her tone soft, positive and open. "I've seen you best the Borg Queen under much more dire circumstances than these."
"That doesn't put me at ease, Ensign." Janeway didn't like to be handled, undermined or be made a fool. She certainly didn't like being talked down to, so her tone held a sharp edge to it. "It was one thing when we thought we had the element of surprise, but now that we know the Queen is monitoring us, I'm not sure-"
"There is little guarantee that the Borg Queen will not try to assimilate Voyager even if we do retreat." Icheb was losing patience. He was already postulating plans in his mind as to how to best commandeer the ship for the duration it took to get past the Borg and send Voyager home. "This is your best opportunity to return this vessel to the Alpha Quadrant."
"Captain, we wouldn't be standing here today if you hadn't developed technology and tactics that could defeat them." Naomi tried to lighten her tone in an attempt to convince the captain, but she like the man standing next to her was formulating alternate plans as well. "We don't need the element of surprise, we need those upgrades online and for you to order Paris into that nebula."
"What is your decision, Captain?"
Janeway chaffed at Icheb's tone, but she knew she had to make a choice. She stood straighter and her voice was clear and commanding. "We're going to maintain course. We'll stay at red alert and maintain continuous scans for Borg activity. Check in with Lieutenant Torres and then I want you three on the Bridge. Dismissed."
Seven watched with anger in her eyes as the trio departed from the Sickbay. "They are insubordinate."
"That's an understatement." The Doctor cleared his throat before he made a hasty retreat upon the glare the captain gave him. "I, uh, I'll just be in my office."
"Seven, I don't like this." Janeway smiled when Seven placed a comforting hand on her hand. "What could have happened to them, to make them this way?"
"I am uncertain." Seven could almost see in Janeway's stormy gray eyes her desire to find out. "It would be against the Temporal Prime Directive for us to uncover the events that led to their behavior, would it not?"
"This whole damned thing is against the Temporal Prime Directive." Janeway seated herself next to Seven on the biobed never losing contact with Seven's touch. "But I can't turn my back on this, despite the consequences. This crew deserves to go home."
"Then we will utilize a wormhole within the nebula and return this vessel to the Alpha Quadrant." Seven did not concern herself with questions regarding the Temporal Prime Directive. As Borg she had seen time much like space, an area to be transverse and modified. She understood the captain's trepidation, but selfish or not she wanted Voyager in the Alpha Quadrant sooner rather than later. "You are bringing your crew home today, Captain."
Janeway tried to smile, but her voice was regretful. "I just wish it was under different circumstances."
"Engineering to Captain Janeway."
"Go ahead, B'Elanna." Janeway moved slowly away from Seven as she instilled determination and steel into her voice.
"We're ready to bring the new modifications online."
Janeway looked at Seven and felt fortified by her confident expression. "Do it."
"Armor integrity at ninety-seven percent."
Janeway couldn't believe they were actually going to make it this time. The ablative hull armor Icheb, Naomi, and Miral had brought from the future covered Voyager like a shell and protected the small ship from the firing power of two massive Borg cubes. Nothing would stop them, they were going home.
"Maintain course, Mr. Paris." Janeway knew she didn't need to tell the man what he already knew. The coordinates had already been set and Tom would soon be piloting Voyager on a course home.
"Aye, aye, Captain." Tom smiled brightly as he watched them travel further into the vast, dense nebula. He rocked minimally in his chair from ineffectual weapon's fire from the two Borg cubes on a parallel trajectory with Voyager. His fingers twitched in preparedness for when his captain ordered them to fight back.
"The Borg are attempting to adapt." Seven's voice was perfectly even, but Janeway could detect a hint of nervousness from deep within the seemingly impassive tones.
Janeway shook as another volley of Borg firepower hit Voyager. "Status."
Tuvok had been impressed by how well the armor had held up, but even the best Federation technology could fall to the Borg. He was seeing it firsthand now. "Port armor integrity is down to seventy-two percent, sixty-eight percent."
"Attack pattern alpha one, Mr. Paris." Janeway's hands held onto her chair as she shook from the impact of two more hits. "Tuvok, target the two cubes and fire the transphasic torpedoes."
In her chamber the Borg Queen stood with an uncharacteristically worried expression on her pale, green-tinted features as she watched two of her cubes explode. The two cubes had only taken one hit each from weapons fired from Voyager but of unknown specifications, but she knew where they had come from. The future.
After the third, fourth, and fifth cube were destroyed in the same manner and just as quickly the Borg Queen ordered her ships to retreat. They had to regroup in the nebula's core or all could be lost.
"Hull armor strength is holding at twenty-two percent, Captain."
"How far are we from the centre?" Janeway turned in her chair to look at Seven, who was manning the secondary tactical control station behind her.
"Less than one hundred thousand kilometers." Seven's hands upon the console stilled as her eyes went wide. There upon the viewscreen was the pinnacle of Borg technology. Her voice held wonderment as her icy blue eyes met Janeway's. "Captain..."
Janeway turned away from Seven to take in the glowing blue and orange planet sized construct, which had a massive and intricate Borg network attached to it. She'd never seen anything like it. Borg cubes swarmed the black metal network before they disappeared into what the Voyager crew had mistakenly thought were wormholes.
"Seven, can that be what I think it is?" Janeway stood slowly as she felt her heart thump rapidly within her chest and heard the pounding of her blood in her ears.
"You are correct, Captain." Seven was brought out of her reverie quickly and began rerouting scanners from the Astrometrics bay to her console so she could get as much valuable information she could. "It is a transwarp hub."
Janeway moved slowly away from her chair to stand next to Tom. Her stormy gray eyes were wide and shifted rapidly from one aperture to another. "I remember you telling me once that there were only six of these in existence."
Seven felt uneasy for she suspected she knew what Janeway was thinking. She kept her eyes on Icheb, Naomi, and Miral and she worried that they knew as well. "Yes, Captain."
"Mr. Paris, take us out of the nebula. Now." Janeway took one last look at the glowing hub before she turned to return to her chair. She wasn't surprised when Naomi and Icheb stood in front of her and blocked her way.
"Complete the mission." Icheb had such a look of disgust on his face that Janeway had to look away, though Naomi's expression wasn't much better.
"What are you doing?" Naomi gestured to the viewscreen even as they exited the nebula. "This is the road home."
"Tom, take us to warp four-"
"Dad, don't listen to her." Miral stepped up next to her father with a pleading looking on her countenance. "I'm sorry, but she has no idea what will happen if we don't get Voyager home today. Please, listen to me."
"I'm sorry, Miral." Tom couldn't bear to look at this adult version of his daughter pleading with him. "She's the captain. Warp four."
Tom felt his face flush hotly. He was ashamed that his own daughter would try to stage a coup. He took his cues from Chakotay as Janeway took on Naomi and Icheb.
"You were going to get Voyager home, today." Naomi's dark green eyes burned with anger as she criticized Janeway. Her voice was shrill in the stilly silent Bridge. "That was your way back!"
"Oh yes, I realize that." Janeway wasn't one to be intimidated, so she pressed her palms into her waist as she stood toe to toe with Naomi Wildman. "But it's so much more than that, isn't it? That's why you wouldn't tell us what laid in the centre of this nebula. Why the Borg Queen wanted us to leave this area immediately. She's scared. And she should be. Seven, I want a complete analysis and report within the hour."
"No!" Naomi pulled two small phasers from underneath her tunic and held one on Janeway and the other on Tom.
"Naomi, what the hell are you doing?" Miral unconsciously moved in front of her father, her dark eyes wild and her blood pumped hotly through her veins. She felt fury build like a volcano about to erupt within her when Icheb also pulled a phaser from his tunic. This hadn't been part of the plan.
"Go back to the nebula, Paris, complete our mission." As calm as Icheb's voice was, Naomi's was strangely calmer.
"You're all so naïve." Naomi ignored the pain she felt in her chest from the repulsed look on Janeway's face. What she was doing would benefit everyone and then she would never exist. Naomi would grow up unsullied by the evils that existed within the universe. She would be absolved of her sins. "You have no idea what will happen to you all unless you do what we say. Now."
Naomi had forgotten how fast Seven was. That was until she was divested of her phasers and thrown to the ground with Seven's foot on her chest. Icheb wasn't as easy to pin down, but his phaser had fallen from his grasp when Naomi had been knocked to the ground. A simple, but quick phaser shot from Tuvok rendered Icheb unconscious.
Naomi's eyes were cold and cruel as they looked up at Janeway with disgust and hatred. Her eyes were on the captain but her words were for Seven. "I don't know how you could have ever loved her. She's weak."
"You will be silent." Seven increased the pressure of her foot upon the chest of the young woman who had been her best friend. "Comply."
"Take them to the Brig." Janeway was too furious to be embarrassed that her relationship with Seven would now be fodder for rumor and speculation. Besides she had much more pressing matters to attend to than saving face. "I want continuous scans for any Borg activity. We just shook up a hornet's nest. Now let's find a way to tear it down."
"We need to tell them." Miral sat dejectedly upon one of the gray benches in Voyager's Brig. "Then they'll understand why we need them to go back. Why they need to go home now."
"We should take the ship and drag them back to the Alpha Quadrant." Naomi absently rubbed her chest where Seven's heel had left a dark purple bruise. It was more who had given her the bruise than the actual physical pain that caused Naomi to wince.
"I concur, except that there is little means for our escape." Icheb looked around the cell they were being held in, analyzing it for a weak spot. He found none technologically, but he thought of another vulnerability he could exploit. "Miral, you must reason with Janeway."
"She doesn't even know me." Miral already knew this was a bad idea. She was well aware that Icheb didn't want her to actually try to talk to Janeway; he just wanted her to facilitate their escape. "Why don't you talk to Seven?"
Naomi's voice contained only traces of remorse, but enough that Miral knew the other woman had been affected by Seven's aggression towards her. "I doubt she'd want to talk to either of us now."
"Fine, I'll try to 'reason' with her. All right." Miral stood and moved swiftly to stand before the force field. She decided she'd use a line from one of her father's old fashioned programs to get Ayala's attention. "Guard, don't I get my one phone call?"
"So what you're saying is that it's impossible to destroy the transwarp hub and still get back to the Alpha Quadrant."
Tom had somewhat spaced off when Seven and Captain Janeway had started talking about conduits and interspatial manifolds, the Queen and her central nexus, and exit apertures and torpedo yields. His attention was regained when Seven stated plainly that they would either have to destroy the hub here in the Delta Quadrant and give up their imminent chance of getting home or they could go back, use one of the conduits and return to the Alpha Quadrant within the matter of hours, but be forced to leave the hub intact.
Seven chaffed at the term 'impossible', but she had to concede that it was near impossible and definitely highly improbable that they would be able to destroy the hub and return to Earth.
"Ayala to Captain Janeway."
"Go ahead." Janeway was well aware that Ayala was manning the Brig and so her headache reemerged powerfully.
"Ensign Paris requests an audience with you, ma'am."
Janeway was careful to avoid looking at Tom or B'Elanna as she added a hard edge to her voice. "Please inform Ensign Paris that unless she has information that can help us destroy that Borg transwarp hub, I don't feel much like talking to her."
"She says that she does, ma'am."
Janeway pressed her fingers to her temple and tried to stave off saying something unprofessionally snarky. Instead she stood from the table and answered as impassively as she could. "Fine. Have a security detail escort her to my Ready room."
Janeway moved swiftly to the door and ignored the worried looks being given to her. Especially the one from Seven. She knew she'd have to speak with her about the Borg Queen, Icheb, and Naomi later. She stopped in the open doorway so she could deliver her final order of the meeting. "Find a way for us to destroy that hub. The sooner the better, people."
Tom, like the others, watched the captain leave. He could tell she was none too happy about the "request" his daughter had put in, but it did appear that Miral was a bit like him and B'Elanna after all. As Chakotay brought the meeting underway once again, Tom was confused as to where the conversation was heading.
Tom's brow crinkled as he looked at the woman who was now leading the tactical planning of destroying the Borg hub. "I thought you said it would be impossible, Seven."
"It is. But Captain Janeway is quite accomplished at making the impossible possible, Lieutenant Paris." Seven's voice was quiet, even, but held just enough emotion for the others to notice and wonder about. Seven, of course, knew why her voice was so earnest. She wanted to do this, get Voyager home, for the woman that she loved. "We will succeed."
"Coffee, black." Janeway turned with her silver metal mug filled with her preferred beverage in hand as her door chime sounded. "Come in."
Janeway carefully held her features neutral even as she gripped the cup tighter in her hands. She had wanted to give Icheb, Naomi and Miral the benefit of the doubt but now she just wanted them off her ship. They had betrayed her confidence, used her and her crew, and there was little else that could make Janeway angrier than that.
She watched Miral with narrowed eyes as the young woman approached her slowly with Munro and Murphy flanking her. "Captain Janeway, thank you for agreeing to meet with me."
"I'm in no mood to be lied to, Ensign." Janeway took a seat behind her desk, her eyes were leveled on Miral. Her voice was rough and threatening. "If you have something useful to contribute towards our mission of destroying that hub I'm all ears. If not you can wait it out with your cohorts in the Brig. Am I understood?"
"Yes, ma'am." Miral felt the anger radiating off of the captain in waves of heat. She felt an odd feeling wash over her and was unsettled by it. She brushed it away as she tried to maintain her poise. Miral straightened her stance and held her head high as she spoke respectfully to the captain. "I apologize for our deceit and the actions taken on the Bridge, Captain. But what we did was in the best interest of Voyager and her crew. You have to believe me when I say we would never put you, any or you, in danger."
"You three tried to conduct a mutiny on my Bridge." Janeway's voice retained its rigid tone as her lips pulled up into a sardonic grin. "Why should I trust anything you have to say now?"
"Because I'll tell you everything. Why we're here trying to change your future. Please at least hear me out." Miral was unmindful of her two guards as she moved closer to Janeway, her dark eyes were pleading. "Please, Captain Janeway. I just want you to know why we've risked everything to come here."
Janeway felt a twinge of annoyance that she was being affected by the sincerity she could see in Miral's dark brown eyes and the earnestness she saw there. She wondered if her future counterpart was so easily manipulated as well. "Fine. We'll talk."
Miral visibly relaxed but knew better than to smile triumphantly. She was aware of Janeway motioning for the two security officers to remain by the door as she followed the captain up the short flight of stairs to the upper portion of the Ready room. She understood the captain didn't yet trust her enough to be alone with her, but that she also wanted their conversation to be private. Miral sat down next to Captain Janeway on the couch as she ordered her thoughts.
Janeway set her coffee mug upon the low sitting table, forgotten, as she settled into the cushions of her couch. She placed her folded hands upon her lap as she waited for Miral to begin.
"In my timeline, on Stardate 55317 you-my Captain Janeway was abducted by a species called the Kellidians." Miral stumbled over the name due to the sick feeling in the pit of her stomach and the anger in her chest that caused her face to feel hot. "Captain Janeway and Naomi were ambushed on what was thought to be safe space station during trade negotiations and shore leave. They were looking for a birthday present for Seven. Naomi got away, but the captain-she wasn't so lucky."
Miral furiously wiped the hot tears that had fallen as she tried to regain her composure. The warm hand on her shoulder both helped and hindered her attempt. "I'm sorry."
"Just take your time. It's all right. You're safe here." Janeway didn't know what she had expected Miral to say to her, but this certainly wasn't it. She had thought it would be a tragic tale of death and destruction during a space battle. Not her abduction. How, Janeway worried, had she let that happen?
"They held Captain Janeway captive for three days before she was rescued by an away team led by Tuvok. Seven wasn't allowed to go because of what happened to you-to the captain." Miral drew strength from Janeway's touch and it helped to calm her breathing and steady her voice. "You were tortured, Captain. Horribly! For three days."
Janeway felt like she had just been punched in the stomach, but she maintained her calm more for Miral's sake than her own. "It's... unpleasant certainly and I can see how it affects you, but it is something that we as Starfleet officers have to realize could happen to any of us."
"They sent video feeds, Captain. They made your crew watch." Miral stood, her anger no longer allowing her to sit still. She knew her raised voice and abrupt movements were causing Munro and Murphy to hold their phasers on her, but she didn't care. "But the Kellidians weren't the ones who damaged you beyond repair. It was Seven. After you were returned to Voyager she stole a shuttle and tracked down the Kellidians who were responsible. But they weren't defenseless. They destroyed her weapons systems, her shields, she was about to be killed so she destroyed them the only way she could. She collided with their ship. She sacrificed herself for you. And you were never the same after her death."
Janeway didn't want to believe what Miral was telling her, but she knew Seven would exact revenge no matter the costs. She could see it already in how defensive Seven was of her. Seven's death explained why Icheb and Naomi resented her. She had been the reason why their mentor, their friend had been killed. Janeway was too disturbed to speak so Miral continued undeterred.
"My parents told me that you were still recovering in Sickbay when I was born. That when you held me for the first time you said that I was beautiful, perfect. My parents knew you loved me by the way you held me tight and gently touched my face even though you didn't say it." Miral pulled her hand away and stood. She couldn't face Janeway at the moment. It pained her to see the woman she was born too late to have met. She hadn't been alive to see how love and compassion was second nature to the captain, something unable and unwilling to be concealed under layers of pretext and false contentment. It pained Miral to see how blue Janeway's eyes were. "But in all the years as your supposed favorite, never once did you ever tell me that you loved me. Never once."
"I'm sorry, Miral." Janeway truly was, but she knew that if she had lost Seven especially in such a manner it would destroy her. She would be a shell of the person she once was. The unfeeling woman Miral had apparently grown up with.
"Don't apologize unless you mean it, Captain. Besides it wasn't you, not yet, and hopefully not ever. No one could blame you for closing off your emotions, especially not me." Miral felt more composed and fell heavily onto the cushions of the couch. "My mom and dad used to talk about how much you loved Seven. That you'd risk anything for her. That you actually went up against the Borg Queen twice to save her. They didn't know Seven loved you in return until after she died. No one talked about her in front of you, you wouldn't allow them to and after awhile they just stopped talking about her altogether. She became a ghost. And so did you. You died with Seven and everyone knew it, but you kept going. You were the indomitable Admiral Janeway. Hard as nails and uncompromising, even other admirals were intimidated by you. You never let anyone see how much pain you were in, even the people closest to you who already knew how damaged you were."
Janeway licked her lips to get past the dryness in her mouth as she spoke softly to Miral. "I... appreciate you telling me all of this, but that doesn't change the fact that we have to do what's right here. We must destroy that hub. We have an opportunity to save millions of lives by dealing a crippling blow to the Borg. I can't turn my back on that for a future that might never happen."
"They've already started tracking you, Captain. They'll find you." Miral looked at the streaking stars through the transparent aluminum of the Ready room windows as if she could see the Kellidians already following them. "That's why you need to get Voyager back to the Alpha Quadrant now. That transwarp hub is your last hope to prevent my past from becoming your future."
"We have to destroy it, Miral." Janeway's solemn features betrayed nothing of her inner turmoil. "I truly am sorry, but we do."
"Then you've doomed us all, Captain."
(to be continued)