“You do not bow for me. You bow for Her.”
Seven turned her icy glare from Two to the large Cargo bay door that opened with an audible compression of air. The rapid thumping of her heart threatened to burst forth from her chest and it was difficult for her to intake air. Her blood ran cold even as it heated her cheeks and throbbed loudly in her ears. Seven’s legs felt unstable and the hands still clutching her rifle were shaking. Her breathing became erratic as her chest rose and fell in quick succession. Her head went fuzzy as her mind tried to come to terms with what her eyes were telling her, which was that Kathryn Janeway was walking towards her.
A number of tactical drones that had once been members of a Klingon colony in the heart of the Delta Quadrant moved their lumbering, metal-endowed forms in order to accommodate the petite woman’s entry into the circle that held the Starfleet officers captive. As she drew closer Seven knew whoever this… thing was, it was not Kathryn Janeway. There was a cruelness to the way this being looked upon them, how it smiled with one corner of its lips turned up in a grotesque mimic of how Kathryn had smiled when amused or smugly victorious. The warm, sultry voice Seven so longed to hear was obscene sounding coming from such a distorted image of her beloved former captain and the woman she had been in love with.
“Welcome home.” The Borg Queen’s smile grew wider, toothier, as she took in the awful collection of horrified faces one by one.
She began with Chakotay, whose dark skin had grown pale and he looked as if he might become sick at any moment. Next to him stood members of the Hazard Team she had brought over to discern whether any of the Federation’s weapons could prove troublesome. She was pleased that none did. Even Seven’s ingenious weapon had its weakness and she had found it quickly, efficiently. B’Elanna Torres and her husband, Tom Paris, had similar expressions of disbelief, as if they couldn’t quite trust what their eyes were relaying to their brains. The Queen couldn’t fault them for that. She supposed they had thought her dead. Destroyed by that irrelevant being who she so resembled. She passed over the rest quickly, deeming them unimportant.
Finally her dark blue eyes reached the individual she wanted most. Her gaze drifted across Seven’s features focusing particularly on her lush, full lips, which caused her fingertips to tingle. The Queen tingled in other places as she thought about Seven’s mouth and the wonderful possibilities for how it could pleasure her for hours. Her observation took in Seven’s lithe, but voluptuous body and imagined it naked and writhing beneath her hands as she allowed Seven to receive pleasure by her generous touch. The Queen nearly laughed at the disturbed look Seven had on her features when her eyes made the long journey back up the lean, curvy body to her face.
“What the hell are you?” Chakotay finally found his voice, though it was rough and pained.
“Isn’t it obvious?” The Borg Queen spread her arms as she presented her form to them. “I’m your queen.”
On the surface she appeared very much as Kathryn Janeway had looked when she had been alive, though there were some visible dissimilarities. The Borg Queen was leaner, her hair was longer and a darker red, but the most noticeable difference was her skin. She had never been exposed to the rays from various suns, or the cruelty of war and battle, which left her pale and unblemished. Her milky white skin was almost unnaturally pale and gave her an otherworldly appearance, almost as if she was a vampire. Her deceptively diminutive form was covered in a facsimile of the prior Borg Queen’s mechanical body. Instead of metal she was encased by a solidification of her nanoprobes that created the appearance of a shiny, black skin-tight bodysuit.
Seven heard the click of a tritanium bullet sliding into the chamber of Chakotay’s gun even as she maintained her unrelenting watch of the insidious being. Her skin felt hot and her body began to quake ever so slightly from a fury that raged like an inferno within her. How dare they? Seven knew she would make the Borg pay for this perversion, for the being before her was so painfully beautiful.
“Release us or you die.” Chakotay pointed the muzzle of his rifle at the person—no, thing that so resembled Kathryn that it caused a sharp pain to enter his chest and hot tears to spring to his eyes. He angrily spat out his order. “You’ve got ten seconds to call off your drones!”
“Oh, Chakotay, always so quick to put your finger to the trigger for a man of peace.” The Borg Queen’s look of derisiveness cut Chakotay to the quick, but he maintained his determined pose. Her expression quickly shifted into that of an entreating smile as she moved, sauntered really, towards him and his shiny gun. “Go ahead. Shoot me.”
The end of the rifle was almost touching the pale sternum of the Borg Queen’s chest. She could feel the air current swirl around the trembling gun and her smile grew. “Come on, Chakotay. Do it.”
What happened next occurred so quickly Seven wasn’t sure anyone else aside from her and the rest of the cybernetically augmented drones had even detected it. Not even a second after Chakotay’s finger pulled the trigger the bullet was absorbed by a black tendril that erupted from the Borg Queen’s chest while she back handed him. He flew a good distance before a large cargo container broke his momentum with a sickening crunch.
“Chakotay!” B’Elanna’s attempt to go to her friend’s aid was effectively stopped by a strong hand around her throat. She struggled fiercely to break the Borg Queen’s hold as she swore loudly.
“Shh shh.” The Queen’s lips were turned up into a smirk as she lifted B’Elanna into the air and pulled her close to her. Her hunger was beginning to emerge, but it was stifled when she heard Seven’s protests.
“Release her.” Seven aimed her TR-116 rifle at the Borg Queen’s head despite how it pained her to see Kathryn’s visage looking back at her. The Queen smiled and possessed a hungry look in her blue eyes and upon the elegant features Seven had once thought so beautiful. Those features now seemed terrible to her, wrong somehow. Deep down she knew she preferred the mechanical being that had possessed Kathryn’s features and little else. This near perfect façade was too much for Seven. For she found herself both drawn to and repulsed by this being.
“No.” The Queen’s voice was low, gravelly and teasing as she looked at Seven with a taunting grin. “I don’t think I will.”
B’Elanna’s protestations were silenced as the hand around her throat tightened, but were perhaps made up by the loud, desperate ones her husband was making.
Tom felt numb as he joined Seven in aiming his rifle at the disturbing being whose mere presence along with what it was doing to his wife, caused his breathing to become labored and sweat to breakout across his brow.
He barely caught B’Elanna when she was haphazardly tossed his way. He groaned as he fell onto his back, his weapon clattering to the floor, but his arms held what was most precious to him and that was what was important.
Multiple rifles fired at the Borg Queen, but not a single tritanium bullet could penetrate the green tingled force field she had erected around herself. If they had been thinking logically they would have wondered why the tactical drones had allowed them to keep their weapons at all. This unformed question was quickly answered.
Black tendrils shot out in multiple directions from the Borg Queen’s midsection. Each tendril moved swiftly through the air undeterred and unstoppable in their mission. Rifles were ripped from hands as Starfleet officers were hoisted into the air by obsidian colored tentacles. The Queen’s smile grew as she relished in the sounds of their horrified screams.
Seven’s jaw clenched tightly as she tried valiantly to remove herself from the Queen’s hold even as she was being reeled in so to speak, moving closer and closer to the source of the tendrils that moved as if they themselves were alive. In mid-air Seven had no traction to cling to in order to pull herself away from the Queen. Her struggles were doing nothing but draining her of her strength.
Seven had been a member of the Collective for eighteen years. She thought she knew the Borg. She realized how very wrong she was. She had never seen anything like this before and it caused fear to grow like an infection throughout her body. It caused an icy feeling to settle in the pit of her stomach and her breathing to make the rise and fall of her ample chest more prominent.
“What are you?” Seven was surprised by how steady her voice was. She was a mere two inches away from the Queen’s smirking countenance and murky abyss that was her black moving torso where the tentacles sprouted from.
“You know who I am.” The Queen had brought Seven close enough that she could smell her scent, feel her warm breath, and hear the blood moving in her veins. She brought a hand up that was divested of its black covering before it touched Seven’s face. The warm flesh of the Borg Queen’s palm touched Seven’s cheek in what appeared to be a soothing gesture. It had the opposite effect on Seven.
Seven turned her head to try to escape from the agony the Borg Queen’s touch caused within her. The feel of that hand, of Kathryn’s hand, upon her in such a way was creating a pain in her chest that was quickly overwhelming her.
“Do not touch me.” Seven’s voice held that pain and it was said with malice, a threat plainly instilled in her low tones.
“I thought you wanted me to touch you, Seven.” The Queen’s hand became firmer in its touch as she moved her lips closer to Seven’s ear. “I’ve seen your dreams. I know what you desire most.”
“You know nothing.” Seven’s dismissal was said between clenched teeth as she willed her body to deny that it craved Kathryn’s touch even if it was from a false facsimile.
“I know what sounds you have me making in your dreams, Seven.” The Borg Queen’s hand moved so that the pads of her fingers brushed over Seven’s lips and dipped into the hot, moist depths of her mouth. “Give yourself to me and you’ll hear them in reality.”
The Queen’s fingers were quickly replaced by her tongue as she plundered Seven’s mouth and pressed their bodies tighter together. When Seven bit her, hard, to remove her from her mouth the Borg Queen moaned with pleasure deep in her throat and increased the pressure of her lips upon Seven’s mouth.
“Stop it!” B’Elanna screamed with fury as she tried to rip the burning black material from her body. Like her shipmates, she was still being suspended in the air by the tentacles that projected from the Borg Queen’s torso. “Leave her alone!”
The Borg Queen pulled her lips reluctantly from Seven’s mouth to smile smugly. She could practically feel the rage within B’Elanna through the dark tendrils that were as much of a part as her as an arm or leg.
“B’Elanna Torres, what you fail to understand is that I am now your queen.” The Borg Queen extended her control over her vessel and caused one wall of the Cargo bay to become like liquid tar. Her tentacles pushed Seven along with the Starfleet officers to the wall and bonded them to the black substance securely before she retracted her tendrils back into herself. It was a disquieting image.
“As amusing as your anger is,” The Queen placed her hands upon her hips in a grotesque mimic of their beloved former captain, “It is irrelevant. You are mine now. To do with what I will. In time you will cherish me as you would a god. For that is what I will be to you.”
The Borg Queen maintained her genial air as she moved closer to the still struggling and argumentative woman. The bonds around her grew tighter, which along with the Queen’s firm hand on B’Elanna’s chin helped to still the half-Klingon’s struggles. The Borg Queen licked her lips before she pressed them to B’Elanna’s, whose resistance crumbled for just a moment before it was renewed with a rage that seemed boundless.
“You will love me. Desire me.” The Borg Queen quieted B’Elanna’s curses with a black band that sprouted from the wall and wrapped around the other woman’s mouth. “As you desired Janeway.”
The Borg Queen brushed her hand across B’Elanna’s tear-streaked face before she moved to the riotous man trapped next to his wife.
“Oh, Tom, do you still dream of being inside Janeway?” The Borg Queen’s hand pushed sweat-drenched strands of blonde hair from Tom’s forehead as if he was a sick child and she his caring mother. “Do you thrust into your wife and pretend it’s your captain finally succumbing to you? Did you not think Janeway was aware of the hologram? Oh, the things you had your hologram say and do. It disgusted her to see an image of herself so denigrated, so… needy. But late at night she would touch herself thinking of what you wanted to do to her.”
Tom’s eyes filled with rage and disgust from what the Borg Queen’s words had just revealed about himself and about Kathryn Janeway. He didn’t want to believe it. He didn’t want the others to believe it either. He couldn’t bear to look at anyone. It was true that he had crafted a hologram of Janeway, one late night, when he had been drunk, lonely, and feeling incredibly deprived. After the first time he had sworn to himself that he would never open the file again. But night after night for a year he had succumbed to the siren call of that hologram. She had whispered things to him during those nights. She had told him how much she needed him, wanted him, was proud of him. Tom felt himself getting sick with what the others must think of him. What he thought of himself. And far worse, what Janeway had thought of him when she had apparently found his program.
“She lies!” Seven’s voice rose to a volume no one had ever heard before as she raged against the filth the Borg Queen was speaking and the physical bonds that held her. “She tricks you. Do not believe her.”
“I’ve never lied to you, Seven. And I’m not lying to you now.” The Borg Queen ignored the others as her dark blue gaze locked onto Seven’s incensed features. “Don’t you see how corrupt these beings are? How they covet and desire things so selfishly? If you only knew the darkness they hold in their hearts you would not resist the inevitable. You will join me freely. For I can give you what you desire most.”
“You know nothing of what I desire.” Seven’s voice was vehement as she fought against her bonds in an attempt to get at the Borg Queen who stood so close, too close. “I will defeat you.”
“Do not deny the truth of the situation, Seven.” The Queen’s gaze on Seven’s was unrelenting. Her voice remained even, but determined. “You have lost already. Your failure to destroy the Borg on this vessel gave rise to a new Collective, a new queen cloned from that wretched human. We will not be stopped.”
“You’re small, weak!”
“Austin!” Jurot looked at her lover with fear in her dark brown eyes. “Don’t.”
“Do you know what I did to Kohlar, to Jaffen, to that pathetic little Ventu girl?” The Borg Queen pressed herself against Austin Chang as she began to burn his skin with the black liquid emerging from her torso. “I ate them. Devoured them whole while they kicked and screamed and begged for death. I slowed my feasting when they did. I wanted them to feel me digesting them.”
“Juliet.” Chang gritted his teeth against the pain of having his flesh torn away by the black liquid moving across his body. “I love you.”
The explosion was deafening and shook the ship around them when Chang detonated a plasma charge attached to his belt. It killed him instantly. There was nothing left except a fiery fissure in the black moving wall to which he had been attached.
The Borg Queen had screamed in agony as the explosion ripped her apart. The floor of the ship shifted and turned into a thick black pool, which she fell into in two separate parts. The wall that held them captive shimmered away and merged with the black liquid and covered the disassembled Borg Queen completely. Her drones fell to the floor unmoving in their deactivation.
“Come on, Juliet, we have to go!”
“AUSTIN!” Juliet Jurot struggled to break Telsia Murphy and Alex Munro’s hold on her as she was being hoisted bodily up the rungs of a Cargo bay ladder to escape the black pool. “Let me go!”
“He’s gone, I’m sorry, Juliet.” Telsia’s arms around Juliet were unrelenting as she finally got her up to the scaffolding. “God I’m sorry.”
“Enterprise to Captain Chakotay.”
Tom hit the combadge on Chakotay’s chest since the captain was still unconscious from the blow the Borg Queen had delivered him. “Twelve—eleven to transport and then get us the hell out of here, Captain.”
The transportation from the Einstein to the Enterprise seemed impossibly slow to Tom who just wanted to escape the black abyss and the looks B’Elanna was giving him.
“He’s hurt. Transport him to Sickbay.” Tom’s sense of responsibility kicked in and his voice was steady and authoritative. “Juliet, I’m going to have Astall trans—”
“Get your hands off me!” Juliet jerked away from Tom’s touch as her tears washed over her face and her grief colored her tone. “You’re a sick bastard. You know that!”
“Come on, Juliet.” Alex held Juliet close despite her tense form as she and Telsia left the transporter room without so much as look in Tom’s direction.
A cold feeling settled in the pit of Tom’s stomach from their averted gaze. He ignored his discomfort as he turned to Harry, Lyssa, and Vorik. “We need to get back to Voyager.”
Tom was the last to step on to the dais. He wanted to reach out to his wife, but she was too busy trying to console Seven as they exited the transporter room and he really needed to get back to Voyager. “Four to transport.”
“Get the ship secured, Lieutenant. Vorik, I want the warp core back up and running.” Tom ignored Harry’s worried features as he led the way out of the transporter room. His eyes didn’t make eye contact with anyone as he stalked to the turbolift.
Enclosed in the lift with Harry and Lyssa next to him he tapped his combadge. He wanted so much to contact B’Elanna but instead he hailed Captain Picard. “How soon will your warp functions be restored, Captain?”
“Within thirty minutes. Voyager?”
“We’ll make it in that time.” Tom wiped his sweaty palms on his pants legs as he said the next part. “Captain, do you have weapons?”
“Good. Blow them out of the water. Paris out.” Tom clenched his hands into tight fists and took a deep breath before the turbolift doors opened to the Bridge. “I want that viewscreen operational, Lyssa, and I mean now. Harry, get our weapons online. Full power to the shields.”
“Shields are at seventy-two percent.” Harry’s voice betrayed nothing of the inner turmoil he was feeling. He needed to talk to Tom, but he knew now wasn’t the time.
Tom fell heavily into the captain’s chair as he watched the viewscreen come to life. Though he didn’t have the authority to tell Captain Picard to do anything the man had obviously agreed with his command. Tom watched with fire in his chest as the Enterprise and the Gorkon descended upon the Borg fleet and opened fire. The Ledosian and Overlooker vessels were dead in the water in much the same fashion and reason the drones had fallen. Without a queen to guide them they were nonfunctional. Tom’s features were lit orange and yellow as the dozen of explosions filled the region of space above Ha’Dara.
“We have weapons.”
Tom smiled cruelly before he hunched forward in his chair. “Target the Einstein and fire.”
“Torpedoes away.” Harry watched the small ship, which had been the catalyst to this whole mission, explode in a brilliance of yellow and blue light and energy. Voyager shook around them, but maintained its ground. Harry didn’t feel satisfaction or vindicated. He felt exhausted. “It’s over.”
Tom sat back in his chair and tried to relax his muscles, but he knew Harry was wrong. It was far from over. They still needed to contact another Resistance cube to get them home. And he needed to talk to B’Elanna.
“Come on, Seven, we need to get to the Bridge.” B’Elanna could feel Tom’s eyes on her, but she had other things to attend to than her husband’s guilt and shame at the moment. Seven was shaking in her arms. She breathed easier when they were alone in the turbolift and so she released her hold on Seven.
“It wasn’t her, Seven, it wasn’t Janeway.” B’Elanna knew her words were as much for her benefit as they were for Seven’s. The Borg Queen sure as hell looked like Janeway, sounded like her too. Hell she even smelled like her. Felt like her. B’Elanna felt sick that she had fallen into that kiss for even a second. That her blood had pumped hotly in her veins from the firm touch the Borg Queen had maintained on her chin to keep her in place. “It was a trick. A sick Borg trick.”
“No, B’Elanna Torres, it was not.” Seven left B’Elanna in the turbolift when the doors opened to the Bridge.
B’Elanna stood very still, dazed, but she shook it off hastily before she followed Seven out of the lift.
“Blow them out of the water. Paris out.”
B’Elanna pushed away the feelings threatening to surface from hearing her husband’s incensed voice. Instead she stood with Seven slightly behind where Captain Picard was seated.
“I suggest you do what he said, Captain.” Seven’s features betrayed nothing as did her voice. Her tone was even, cold, unfeeling. The truth was she wanted to see those vessels destroyed more than anyone else. She wanted her vengeance at last. “The Borg are resilient. Even without their queen they pose an imminent threat. They will adapt without her.”
“Queen?” Picard’s confusion didn’t last long as he made his orders in a full-bodied tone. “Lieutenant Choudhury, full power to the shields. Destroy the Borg convoy. Fire when ready.”
“Aye, Sir. Shields are up. Torpedoes are away.”
Picard’s attention was diverted from the destruction displayed on the viewscreen by Seven’s voice. “Captain Picard, we must speak with you.”
“Of course. My Ready Room.” Picard nodded his head to Worf to take his seat and the Bridge before he led the way to his office. “Shouldn’t you two be in Sickbay?”
“I am uninjured.” Seven’s stance was ramrod straight as she held her hands behind her back. A small muscle beneath the starburst implant on her cheek moved before she spoke as impassively as she could. “The Borg Queen has evolved since our last encounter. She appears fully human, but apparently has the absorption capabilities the Borg Cube in the Alpha Quadrant had possessed. She is also a genetically modified clone of Kathryn Janeway.”
“My God, Seven, I—why would they do such a thing?”
“Because the Borg hate Kathryn Janeway and because of me.” Seven’s voice was held perfectly even by sheer will power alone. “You and I, Locutus, have become an obsession for the Borg Queen. I have become an even greater one to this incarnation.”
“She was luring us here. She wanted us to find her so that she could capture you.” Picard thought it was all very simple now that the Borg Queen was a factor. “But you destroyed her. Again. How?”
“Ensign Chang detonated a charge attached to his belt.” B’Elanna’s voice contained the reverence deserving of such a brave and selfless act. “He took the Borg Queen with him.”
“His commendable service will not be forgotten.” Picard placed a warm hand on B’Elanna’s shoulder and purposefully ignored the tears that filled her eyes as he addressed Seven. “With General Korok’s ship destroyed we must contact another Resistance vessel to take us back to the Alpha Quadrant. Seven, work with Admiral Nechayev in making contact. She is already on her way.”
“Yes, Captain.” Seven didn’t like the idea of working with Nechayev, but she understood the purpose for doing so. The mission was completed, they wanted to return home. The Admiral had the ability to create an official Federation alliance with the Resistance and Seven was the natural ambassador as she had been with General Korok.
“Commander Torres, I’d like you to be the Enterprise’s liaison with Voyager.” Picard knew Captain Chakotay was still recovering in Sickbay and the unstable tone Paris had used unsettled him. “If they require any assistance tell them we’ll send whatever they need.”
B’Elanna crossed her arms over her chest, but nodded her compliance. She moved to Seven’s side, her eyes questioning and concerned.
“I will be fine, Commander.” Seven tried to smile reassuringly, but it looked more like a grimace.
“I’m just a call away if you need anything.” B’Elanna’s smile was easier coming despite her trepidation of going to Voyager and her aversion of leaving Seven when the woman was at her most vulnerable. Seven’s hardened features gave her the not so subtle hint that she did not require B’Elanna’s presence at this time. They had their orders. “I’ll talk with the senior staff and get back to you as soon as I can, Captain.”
“Very good, Commander, dismissed.” Picard waited for the doors to slide shut behind Commander Torres before he voiced the assertion that had been at the tip of his tongue since Seven mentioned the Borg Queen’s existence. “You are not responsible for this, Seven. You and I know how manipulative the Queen can be.”
“You are wrong.” Seven’s impassive expression fell away as guilt and anger filled her chest with fire. “It is my doing. The Borg knew of Admiral Janeway’s plan to board the Cube because of me.”
“I don’t understand.”
“We are no longer part of the Collective, Locutus, but we are still connected to it.” Seven now understood fully how she had been made aware of Admiral Janeway’s assimilation by the Cube. The Borg wanted her to be so they pushed the thoughts into her subconscious while she had been regenerating. It was the same manner in which the Borg Queen had violated her when she had been dreaming of being with Kathryn. Seven was mostly human, but she was till Borg and that part failed to keep her thoughts secret. Failed to keep Kathryn safe.
“Seven, it wasn’t your fault. You had no way of knowing that—”
“I doomed Kathryn Janeway. Her image, everything that she is has been mutilated because I underestimated the Borg.” The metal mesh on Seven’s hand started to draw blood as it cut into her fully human one. “We must not make that same mistake again.”
“What are you suggesting?”
“We must destroy the Collective, completely.” Seven’s eyes were wide and filled with purpose. Her voice grew loud and determined as she balled her hands into fists in front of her. “They cannot be allowed to survive.”
Picard had never seen Seven so emotional before and it worried him. What worried him even more was her proposal. “That’s genocide.”
“Yes.” Seven let her hands fall to her sides as she tried to regain her composure with labored breaths. “It is.”
Admiral Nechayev said the same thing that Picard had when Seven told her of her plan to seek out the Collective and destroy it completely. Nechayev’s tone, however, was much more supportive than Picard’s.
“Do you believe the Resistance and Species 8472 would be cooperative in this endeavor?” Nechayev’s suspicion of Seven had not lessened, but if what the former Borg drone proposed could be accomplished she would be a lot more trusting.
“How long before we can contact another member of the Resistance? And 8472 for that matter?” Nechayev chafed at the idea of having to defer to anyone especially Seven but she knew from her dealings with Korok that Seven was the only person the Resistance trusted.
“General Korok provided us with a subspace transmitter and a list of emergency frequencies. It will take time for it to reach the cubes. Many are not close.” Seven knew that could be considered an understatement, but she also knew the vessels commanded by the Resistance would be able to traverse great distances once their messages were received and complied with.
“So, we wait.” Nechayev crossed her arms as her eyes narrowed on Seven’s implants. She was grateful no one had suggested trying to free the drones already assimilated. The Admiral just wanted the Borg dead. She thought Seven did as well. That’s what kept her from throwing Seven in the Brig. “And we come up with a plan to annihilate the Collective.”
B’Elanna ignored the fleeting looks of concern being tossed her way by the Voyager senior staff as she listened to her husband’s flat report regarding repairs that were required before the warp core could be up and running again. She had to admit Vorik was a good chief engineer, she also knew she was better and would be in the engine room herself once she contacted Picard with a list of requests.
She waited until Harry, Lyssa, Vorik, and the rest departed from the Briefing room before she spoke. “Tom, I—”
Fury filled her as Tom pushed past her towards the door. “Not now, B’Elanna, I have a ship to repair.”
Tom didn’t add that he was well aware that he probably had a marriage to repair as well. Despite his guilt, he fixed his wife with a hard glare when she grabbed his arm and spun him around to face her.
“Tom.” B’Elanna tried to look her husband in the eye, but he refused to meet her gaze until she spoke words softly that shocked him into abruptly looking at her. “I knew about the hologram.”
“What?” Tom’s hardened features fell away as shame weighed heavily upon him. “B’Elanna, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“You don’t have to apologize to me, Tom. Not to me.” B’Elanna let her grip on Tom’s arms fall away as she took a few steps back, since she knew he wasn’t going to try to flee again. “I’ll admit I was pretty disgusted with it when Harry and I found it—”
“Harry?” All the color drained from Tom’s face as his voice crumbled. “He saw it too.”
“Yes. We were purging files and… you know, it’s not important how we came across it, Tom. What’s important is that’s not who you are anymore.” B’Elanna wondered if Tom was even hearing her, he looked light years away. “Tom?”
“You were the one. You showed it to the captain, didn’t you?” Tom’s color returned in a flush of anger. “You showed it to Janeway!”
“What the hell were we supposed to do?” B’Elanna’s voice rose to match the fury and volume of her husband’s as she slammed a fist onto the Briefing room table. “Don’t you dare try to turn this around on me! Or Harry. It was our first year, Tom, and frankly I thought you were a pig and that hologram proved it.”
“It wasn’t like that.” Tom’s anger left him quickly and he felt drained as he fell in the nearest chair. “It didn’t start out that way anyway. I—I just wanted to talk to her. I wanted her to talk to me. To look at me with pride instead of disappointment and suspicion. I didn’t intend for it to go any farther than that, you have to believe me.”
“You could have stopped, Tom, after the first time.”
Tom looked at his open palms instead of B’Elanna as he admitted his weakness. “It became an obsession, B’Elanna.”
“I understand that. I do.” B’Elanna thought of the time Chakotay had stopped her risky behavior in the holodeck after she had been told most of the Maquis in the Alpha Quadrant had been killed. “And Janeway did too.”
“What did she—how did she react when she found out? When you told her about the hologram?” Tom was almost afraid of the answer despite the fact that Janeway had never once hinted that she knew about the hologram.
“She didn’t say anything to me or Harry except to leave it alone, that she’d handled it.” B’Elanna shrugged. Her understanding of the situation hadn’t become any clearer until today. “I think she already knew about it. She knew a whole hell of a lot more than she let on sometimes.”
“Did she know about you?” Tom hadn’t meant the words to sound as accusing as they had come out, but he couldn’t seem to stop himself from adding an edge to his tone. He was mortified and disgusted with himself that he had been exposed in front of his crewmates in such a humiliating way.
“Probably.” B’Elanna could feel the Borg Queen’s warm, moist lips upon her own before she brushed away the confusing, shameful feelings with a shrug of her shoulders. “It really doesn’t matter anymore though. Neither of us stood a chance. Especially once Seven came aboard.”
“We’re a pair, huh?” Tom held out his hand and smiled when B’Elanna took it. He pulled her down onto his lap as he hugged her close. “I’m still sorry, B’Elanna.”
“Don’t be.” B’Elanna placed a soft kiss on her husband’s forehead before she held his head close to her chest. “It’s in the past, okay? Don’t let the others get to you either. What matters is who you are now. Who Janeway knew you would become. Let it go.”
As Tom hugged B’Elanna close and felt their love for one another intertwine, he couldn’t help but wonder what else Janeway had been aware of and how much the Borg Queen would have revealed. His curiosity was overridden by his relief that they would never find out.
She emerged from the black pool of inky fluid with viscous remnants protecting her modesty, if such a creature possessed it. The oil-like substance didn’t obey the laws of gravity as it shifted across her pale flesh made luminous by the sheen of dampness covering her skin. Her burnished thick auburn hair rolled in waves across her bare shoulders and down a svelte naked back. She was both gloriously beautiful and horrendously grotesque. Like a demon-woman who was possessed with great evil, power, and a delight in what her hand executed.
She cried out in ecstasy as the black fluid erupted like a volcano from the pool she had emerged from. Massive black tendrils, miles long, spread out across the surface of the planet seeking sustenance. The surface was barren so the tentacles dug deeply into the earth and found the inner molten core that would supply plenty of energy to the small, pale being on the surface. She screamed her pleasure loudly, without restraint as her tendrils continued to plunge into the planet’s center.
In a matter of hours the entire planet was covered in black liquid and green lights, which gave it the appearance of being a massive Borg sphere. Soon that’s exactly what it was. The Borg Queen took up residence in the molten core that would have destroyed a lesser being, but she had learned from her mistakes. Though she had the appearance of a small, bipedal specimen she was in fact constructed of a much more durable material than her predecessor that had been killed by a plasma charge. As she forced the planet out of its orbit and turned it into her vessel to seek out those who had tried to destroy her, degrade her once again, she let one individual’s name escape on a breath between her lips.
(to be continued)