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"Oh, Captain," Harry said. Kathryn turned around to face him.
"What is it now!" she yelled angrily.
"Well, remember that away mission with the shuttle crash and the misunderstanding," Harry said quietly, air quoting the last word with his fingers.
"That narrows it down," Jessie muttered.
"So?" Chakotay said with little interest.
Harry flinched. He was used to Kathryn's, but Chakotay's cold attitude felt insulting. "They're following us," he said in a neutral tone.
"I am in no mood for them," Kathryn spat. Chakotay took a couple of steps backwards as a precaution.
"They're hailing," Harry said.
"Lets get this over with," Kathryn said.
The viewscreen was changed from an image of a strange ship, to a stranger still looking alien with horns on his forehead and shoulders.
"Voyager, give us back our treasure!" he yelled.
"I dont know what you're talking about," Kathryn said surprisingly calmly and even with a hint of a smirk.
The alien glowered, "the coffee, Janeway. Don't think we weren't aware of your reputation. Return it now."
"No, why should I?" Kathryn said huffily like a child who had been told to clean her room.
"Uh because it's ours," the alien said.
"Duuuuhhhh not anymore," Kathryn groaned before flipping him off and turning her back on the screen. "I'm sick of your ugly face, now go away."
"Er, Captain. Maybe we should give back what's theirs," Tom suggested nervously.
Kathryn dropped into her chair and slouched over the left side with little care. "Maybe you should stop thinking anyone gives any crap about what you say Paris. All that comes out is a waste of oxygen."
The alien snarled at her, "Janeway, this isn't over."
"I thought I was pretty clear on the ugly face, go away comment Harry," Kathryn said casually but with a dangerous side eye directed toward Opps. Harry swallowed hard and promptly turned the viewscreen off.
"They're powering weapons," James reported from Tactical.
"Torpedoes," Kathryn said.
James frowned at the readouts he was getting for trying. "We don't have any left."
Hearing that flicked another anger switch in Kathryn's head. "What did I tell that logical prat about the fricking torpedoes? Just lobbing them around like they're flipping snowballs or some crap. For god's sake, just use Seven. She wants to be useful after all."
James shrugged, looking indifferent. "Sure." No one else objected either. He worked for a few seconds. "Transport complete."
Kathryn smiled smugly, "now that we have something bigger in our torpedo tubes, it's time to shoot out the garbage. Fire."
"Direct hit," James said a few seconds later.
Kathryn looked up at the viewscreen to see a Seven shaped dent in the alien ship. She wasn't surprised to see the most damage was around the chest area. The sight of her flailing about made her laugh hard.
Nobody though knew why she was laughing. All they could see on the viewscreen was the alien ship occasionally firing energy weapons toward them. Chakotay watched her with great worry. Everyone but James were averting their wide eyes away from her. He hovered over the weapons controls with a raised eyebrow. "So erm, about their powering weapons," he said over the top of the ship shaking.
Chakotay sighed into his hand. Kathryn still laughed while wiping a few tears from her eyes. "Phasers, target their weapons array," Chakotay ordered.
James nodded and did what he was told. The shaking stopped after a couple more.
"They're hailing again," Harry said.
"On screen," Chakotay said. The viewscreen activated again.
"You may have beaten us this time but we'll be back," the alien grumbled.
"No you won't. We don't do continuity around here," Tom said.
Harry sighed, "if only that were true."
"Drat, we'll be back in Season Two," the alien said. The viewscreen was turned off.
"Finally," Kathryn sighed. She pushed up out of her chair to make her way around to the turbolift. Something dark reddish purple with a touch of gold caught her right eye, forcing her to get a proper look. To her annoyance it was Seven standing at her usual spot. "What? She's still here?" She swung around to glare towards James who looked confused at her back. "You lied to me. Got my hopes up for nothing. You're grounded."
James waited till she was in the turbolift and the doors were closed before allowing himself to laugh nervously. "I was joking about the head on the spike."
Chakotay shook his head.
Morgan swiped the cold, clammy hand from her cheek. "Gross. Don't touch me. I'm not your daughter."
The Borg Queen stared at her coldly like she was inspecting her. "But you are. All of my drones are my brothers and sisters, my children," she said in an airy and chilly voice. She circled the girl all while keeping her eye on her. "We are family."
"I have a family," Morgan spat back in disgust. "You're not it. They are why I'm here. You'd better leave them alone."
The Queen's grey eyes sparkled as they remained locked on her. "Of course," she said flippantly. "They are long gone, far away even with the aid of their new toy."
"Ok fine," Morgan said sharply, while inside she panicked. The realisation of her predicament kicked in finally. "Why did you want me here so badly? Don't you have billions of slaves already?"
"We can talk about this tomorrow my dear. You must be tired. I've made a bed up for you," the Queen said, gesturing to an empty alcove.
Morgan grimaced, her eyes widened and moved side to side. "A bed? Are you off your popper?"
The Borg Queen frowned toward her. "What is that, some kind of slang for medicine?"
"Yeah sure," Morgan said, rolling her eyes. "I'm not taking a nap with you around."
"You speak like a true individual. Such insolence and peculiarity," the Borg Queen said. "You are unique."
Morgan instinctively took a step backwards after a quick glance over her shoulder. "I told you, you should've grabbed Seven if you have a problem with that."
The Queen smiled at her. "On the contrary. Your individuality, your uniqueness will add to our perfection."
"That's why you kidnapped me?" Morgan said.
"That is why we put you there in the first place. You believe that the temporal anomaly incident was an accident. Did you really think we'd not look for you?" the Queen said.
Morgan's eyes flew wide open, her jaw threatened to do the same. "What the hell does that mean? The anomaly? Did you do something to it, to lure us there?"
"No, you are correct that it was created but not by us. We took advantage of it. The Tolg thought they could harness its power. We preyed on their greed," the Queen replied.
"Why?" Morgan asked.
The Queen turned toward the empty alcove. "It has been a long couple of sleepless nights for you..."
"Yeah and whose fault is that?" Morgan grumbled.
"You cannot stay awake forever. You can either wait for your Human weakness to overcome you at any time, or you can control it and regenerate as we do," the Queen said.
"No," Morgan muttered.
"It will help order your thoughts. Once your cycle is complete we will continue our conversation," the Queen said. Morgan stared at the alcove nervously. "Comply," was said gently with a hint of authority.
Morgan tried to swallow the lump in her throat, but all it did was make it throb all the more.
Many crewmembers had been tasked with moving the remaining Borg debris that was of little use. Tom grumbled under his breath as he was the only one having to clean the powdered metal and fire damage soot from the floor, with only an old fashioned pan and little brush.
Chakotay watched him, hoping it would distract him at least. Even when somebody treaded into one of the piles of dust Tom had collected, thus kicking it everywhere including his face, he couldn't manage a smile.
Tuvok stood in front of the first officer with his back to all this. "Lieutenant Torres wants to run every test she and her team can think of before we integrate it into our systems. I agree with this assessment, however in the circumstances..."
"We're no good to her in a million pieces. It's fine," Chakotay mumbled.
Tuvok nodded. "In addition, sensors detect no Borg activity within our sensor range or subspace telemetry."
"They'll probably be halfway across the quadrant by now," Chakotay said.
"They wanted only her. There's got to be a reason for it," Kathryn muttered from nearby. The two men turned their heads in her direction. She folded her arms across the station opposite the alcoves, staring at them coldly, Chakotay was surprised they weren't ice blocks by now. "Is this why they continuously bothered us? Why?"
Chakotay and Tuvok were not sure if she was even talking to them. Merely talking aloud towards herself. Chakotay thought to approach her slowly and carefully. "Kathryn," he said softly.
Neelix approached, even he knew better than to trouble the Captain now and targeted Tuvok instead. "Commander. We've cleared out most of the debris, but before we vaporise it I'd like to melt down the larger fragments. All sorts of goodies in there."
"Oh god, you're not going to cook it are you?" Kathryn hissed without even looking at him.
Neelix flinched briefly and carried on as if nothing happened. "Um the metal contains compounds that could be useful to us."
Tuvok nodded, "very well, proceed."
"Um, right erm..." Neelix started to stammer and shift uncomfortably. Tuvok looked at him, puzzled. "About the wall of alcoves. They require a lot of power, thirty megawatts each. Maybe we could..."
"Hook you to one of them, what a fine idea," Kathryn snapped, this time she did look at him. Neelix melted into a puddle. It took him a while to collect himself so he could run away.
Kathryn sighed and yet her eyes sharpened in the general direction the two remaining men were in. Both of them looked on in concern, but not only for her sake. They knew how far she would go in a usual situation. This was personal though, and Chakotay could not shake off the image of the Borg cowering beneath her heel.
Kathryn tapped away at her computer determinedly, barking commands now and then. Her eyes darted rapidly, scanning the screen for anything useful. Her cup of coffee sitting next to her had long since gone cold.
"Computer run an analysis on all subspace fluctuations," was the last order before the door chimed. "What?"
Tuvok edged in carefully, he knew to stay at the door. "A member of the crew has requested an appointment with the Captain. I told her that you were occupied but she was insistent."
Fortunately for him Kathryn kept her growing intense gaze fixed on the computer for now. "Right, it's not like you're the Security Chief who should logically be a firm hand. You know what, tell them to stick their appointment up their a..." Kathryn's voice rose, and so did her chin. Before Tuvok was hit by the deathglare of the year, she spotted a small figure peeking out from behind his legs. Her rage blew away quickly.
"Request granted, send her in," she said eventually.
Tuvok glanced down at the child to make sure she was still okay with seeing her. The little blonde girl gave him a nod. He scurried out.
Naomi walked up to Kathryn's desk holding a PADD, with her eyes still wide from the rant she overheard.
"Erm permission to submit a proposal for your review," she said.
"Proposal?" Kathryn questioned.
"It's a rescue operation for Morgan," Naomi replied. She handed the PADD over to Kathryn.
She had a quick look at it while murmuring, "I hope this has a lot of Borg shooting in it." Naomi wisely chose to not answer that. She waited patiently. Kathryn finished reading the first paragraph and looked up with a smile. "You wrote this yourself?"
"Yes ma'am. You see if we change the long range sensors to her cortical implant frequency, maybe we could find her," Naomi replied enthusiastically.
"The Delta Quadrant's massive, and she could be thousands of light years from here," Kathryn said tiredly, but not without a small smile. "At least you've tried and it's better than the lure them back here with Seven plan."
Naomi pulled a face, "that's silly, was it Tom?"
Kathryn's eyes shifted from side to side, she cleared her throat and tried to look like a picture of authority instead of shifty. It wasn't going to fool anybody. "Yes."
"What if we boosted our deflector range with power from the main deflector," Naomi suggested with her eyes lighting up.
"That's not the pr..." Kathryn said sharply, but cut herself off to avoid upsetting her. She smiled sweetly at the little girl. "It's not that simple, but I appreciate the initiative. Great job Crewman."
Naomi's brightened eyes began to wobble. Kathryn worried she did still manage to upset her. Then the bottom lip was pushed out and she looked like her mother had told her no desserts today. "You won't give up, will you? I don't want Kiara to be sad."
Kathryn flinched at the thought. She hadn't told her yet. Too soon, she thought. Then she wondered how Naomi found out, and if she did then it was possible Kiara already knew. "Did someone tell her, I'll ring their..."
"No. I asked for her, Seven told me. Told her didn't know," Naomi answered.
Kathryn's eyes narrowed, "neck ringing's still on." Naomi increased her puppy dog stare by ten, it was super effective against her rising temper. She walked around her desk to crouch down beside the girl so her head was level with the girl's. "There are a few things you need to learn about being a starship captain. Get one of those shirts that don't need tugging everytime you stand up. Don't suffer fools, they're slappable."
She leaned in closer to whisper the last part in the girl's ear. "And never abandon a member of your crew." Once she pulled back the girl grinned, which made her smile as well. "Unless they're a blonde bimbo with I'm perfect mummy issues in a stupid skin tight catsuit," she said flippantly.
"Huh?" Naomi said, blinking curiously.
The computer on the desk rescued them both. Kathryn hurried over to it and swivelled it around so they both could see it. The data on the screen gave her a sense of relief for a moment, then the anger began to bubble beneath the surface. Tempering it for now she glanced at the child standing next to her. "Take a look. What does this look like?"
"Sensor logs," Naomi answered.
"Yes, but these," Kathryn said, waggling her finger at a certain part, "aren't random fluctuations. They're Borg comm signals. These were directed at my quarters yesterday."
Naomi stifled a gasp for now, "does that mean they talked to Morgan?"
Kathryn studied the screen intently. Her head lightly shook absentmindedly. "It certainly looks like they tried."
Morgan awoke and the first thing she saw was a drone in her face, his arm raised near her ear working on something. Her instinct was to immediately shove him away. Once she did she saw the Queen watching her directly ahead with a small smile.
"Good morning," the Queen said as the drone shuffled off to do something else.
Morgan hurriedly stepped down from the alcove whilst checking her neck and face for any new implants. To her horror she felt one on her neck, round and small.
"I wouldn't, if I were you," the Queen said on approach. "It's a neural processing adjunct. Designed to increase synaptic efficiency. One slight tug and you will be dead within a second."
Her fingers remained, circling around the new implant. It made her shiver. "What happened to wanting me for my uniqueness? I don't want it."
"You prefer to remain small?" the Queen asked.
"I'd prefer to be nothing like you," Morgan stuttered in panic and anger.
The Queen stepped closer, not breaking eye contact. Her voice lowered to a whisper. "Don't be afraid. We won't turn you into a drone. You're much too valuable the way you are, but you've left humanity behind, try to see past their petty emotions as well. Fear, anger, vanity, they've corrupted you," the Queen said. Her hand raised to caress her cheek once more.
Morgan cringed and pulled back to avoid it. "Cut it out!" she snapped. "You're not making any sense. I was never Borg, I've always been me. You want an individual but without the emotions? Why bother with me at all? Even Seven has that vanity crap you're talking about."
"Isn't it obvious? You're going to help us assimilate humanity," the Queen smirked.
Morgan froze for a moment, then looked at her angrily. The Queen ignored it.
"We failed in our last attempt to assimilate Earth, lousy Enterprise E," the Queen muttered.
"Uh huh?" Morgan said with a bemused expression. Before she could say anymore the Queen continued muttering angrily to herself. Morgan rolled her eyes. Doing so she noticed some of the drones nearby glancing over with worry, only to go back to work when they noticed the girl looking at them. Morgan was certain she saw one of them quickly hide a rolled up piece of large paper in between a crevice in between consoles.
"Anyway, as I was saying," the Queen huffed. "We failed in our last attempt to assimilate Earth and we won't succeed the next time unless we understand the nature of their resistance."
"Wasn't it an android that ruined your plans?" Morgan asked.
The Queen ignored her again. "You must be our eyes, let us see humanity."
"Would you let me go if I told you that Humans think assimilation sucks?" Morgan asked.
"No of course not. That's far too simple, the second part would be rather short then," the Queen replied.
"The second what?" Morgan mumbled. "It's the reason they resist. Isn't that what you asked for? I imagine we're not the only ones."
"You misunderstand. We require far more knowledge than that," the Queen said.
"If it's knowledge you want, why didn't you assimilate me? It's a lot quicker," Morgan snapped. "Oh and while we're on the subject, how did you manage to recover from melting?"
"You grew up on a Borg vessel as an individual. You have a unique perspective. We do not want another drone. We want you," the Queen answered.
Morgan shook her head stubbornly. "No, you never bothered Tani. If you wanted some Human perspective ninny who'd do as you told her, Seven would've been better. You wanted me, so far you've given me no good reason why."
"Shut up, you're here now and you will help us," the Queen hissed.
"Why should I?" Morgan said defiantly, arming her very own Janeway skunk eye.
The Queen wasn't fazed one bit. To her annoyance the smirk reappeared. "How many cubes should I send to pay Voyager a visit?" Morgan flinched, her face drained quickly. "One, ten? A hundred? It's your choice."
"Zero," Morgan mumbled as she looked down at the floor. She did not want to see the resulting smug face on her kidnapper. The ship shook slightly. "What's happening?" she asked.
"Our vessel is heading for sector 034," the Queen replied.
"Why?" Morgan asked.
"Does assimilation come to mind?" the Queen asked. Morgan gave the Queen another angry look. "Do not concern yourself yet, it is not Earth. Our presence is not required but I thought the experience would be a rewarding one for you." A small monitor appeared out of nowhere. It showed a large planet.
"How many people are there?" Morgan asked.
"Three hundred and ninety two thousand," the Queen said with a flourish. Morgan couldn't break away her gaze from the planet's image, no matter how much it made her tremble. "You're experiencing anger, a human impulse. You've forgotten what it means to be Borg. We will add their distinctiveness to our own."
"I've never seen anything like it," the Doctor said in dismay.
Kathryn nodded, feeling some sympathy for the hologram. She had similar difficulty too. "Yes, but I have confidence that you'll be able to figure it out."
The Doctor's brow furrowed. "What? You don't know?" Kathryn stared at him similarly.
Chakotay shook it off and took the opportunity to continue his own report. "The Hansens' logs mentioned a Borg hierarchy, comparing the Collective to a bee hive..."
"Papa found the tactical drone!" Seven's voice chimed in from outside. The Doctor shook his head in quiet judgment.
Kathryn sniggered, "papa."
"Erm, yeah it turned out his hunch was right," Chakotay said. "The tactical drone had received direct commands from this Borg Queen. I thought to analyse the comm signals."
"I suggested that!" Seven's voice complained.
Kathryn rolled her eyes while the Doctor continued to shake his head.
Chakotay tapped at the computer on the desk beside them. Once done he swivelled it around to show the Captain. "Look at the transpectral frequencies."
"They match the ones that were sent to Morgan," Kathryn said.
"Not exactly. The variances you observed in the higher spikes, they're another signal hidden amongst the noise," the Doctor said.
Kathryn looked on, impressed. "You figured it out already?"
The Doctor frowned once more. He shook his head rapidly, "no, I recognised it the nanosecond I clasped my eyes on it."
"Then why claim you'd never seen it before!" Kathryn snarled at him.
Seven's voice once more dared to chime in, "they're not commands anyway. They're a hive mind! You said it wrong."
The Doctor pointed at the door with a knowing look. "That's what I meant."
"Oh I know," Kathryn groaned tiredly. "Have you got any Valium on you? She's one whine away from humping my leg."
Chakotay bit his lip to try not to laugh. The Doctor's jaw meanwhile dropped. Kathryn didn't register either of them and kept a straight face.
"What kind of signal are we talking about Doctor?" Chakotay asked to hopefully change the subject back.
"To put it in laymen's terms, it's to stimulate pathways in the brain linked to memories while the subject is sleeping. It's most effective whilst in REM sleep as it makes them more..." the Doctor replied.
"Vivid?" Kathryn questioned.
"Susceptible to manipulation. Harder to detect too, unless you're me," the Doctor said proudly.
"The Queen can talk to any drone with an interplexing beacon," Seven's voice rang through again.
Chakotay glanced at the door then to the Doctor with a frown of concern on his face. "Does Morgan still have hers?"
The Doctor worried about what Kathryn would do to him if he answered. Still, he had to. "Since she was from a disconnected Borg Sphere, from a future now non existant timeline, removing it seemed low priority compared to the implants that were painful or damaging to her."
Kathryn didn't delete him on the spot like he thought she would. Instead she wandered to the window to stare out into the stars. "What do we know about this Borg Queen?" she asked. The Doctor thought now was the time to escape before anything happened.
"I don't know. The Hansens never got the chance to find out," Chakotay replied quietly for Seven's benefit. If she was still outside.
"Well, it's as I thought. Morgan was contacted by her, she threatened her to get her to leave," Kathryn said plainly. "As soon as she started having nightmares, I should've done something. I knew something was wrong. I didn't follow my gut. I let my daughter go."
Chakotay passed her a look of sympathy, even if she couldn't see it. "The threat was probably if you don't, we'll assimilate Voyager. That would include her. It's not your fault."
"What's running through that Collective mind of yours? You've got thousands of species to choose from. Billions of individuals. Why her?" Kathryn ranted, her voice sharpened on the final sentence. "You could've assimilated us all. Why violate her dreams? Why threaten her like this? Is it a game, a sick game?"
Chakotay dared to take a few steps forward, hoping he could calm her down. Before he could she swung around, a newfound determination had burned into her eyes.
"I want you to keep studying the Hansens' logs. Compile a list of every single gadget they used to spy on the Borg. Assemble anyone other than Seven to assist you," Kathryn said. His eyebrow raised. "Oh fine, use Seven if you need her. It's petty not to."
"Oh really?" Chakotay teased her. Kathryn narrowed her eyes slightly. "Look, if you're planning on using their methods to find and rescue our daughter, you should remember one thing."
"What?" Kathryn wondered.
"As brilliant as the Hansens were, they made one mistake," Chakotay said. Kathryn opened her mouth to reply. "And I don't mean having a daughter."
Kathryn huffed once. "Oh Chakotay, as if I'd say that." An awkward silence followed as Chakotay tried to resist commenting on that, and Kathryn knew as much. "Fine, what was it?"
"They became overconfident. You know where it got them," Chakotay answered.
"Don't worry. I'm not going to bring Kiara along and start beaming Borg drones in front of her, giving them stupid nicknames like Junior or Needleface," Kathryn muttered.
Chakotay couldn't manage it this time, he laughed. "You couldn't just say we won't make the same mistake?"
"I did," Kathryn said in a confused voice.
"This will be a long range tactical mission. It may take days, even weeks to find our missing crewman. So if anyone has a gag or some tape, I'll be forever grateful," Kathryn said whilst pacing.
Tom looked on in shock. "That's no way to handle a sarcastic know it all, and I'm not going near him to apply it." Someone tossed Kathryn a roll of very wide black tape. She smiled at the helmsman darkly, that's when he realised who she really met. He gulped the air, giving him the hiccups.
"Lieutenant Torres is equipping the Delta Flyer with the transwarp coil we borrowed. We'll be able to use the Flyer to track down the Sphere that abducted Morgan," Kathryn continued.
"Uh, how?" Harry asked.
Kathryn's hands shot to her hips. Everyone braced themselves. "Isn't it obvious?"
Tom couldn't resist, he had to answer this one even with his hiccup attack ongoing, "yeah Harry. The sphere will obviously be fly-eh-ing in a straight line, making it dead easy to follow-eh them. We'll even catch them up be-eh-cause they stopped for gas and sandwi-eregh-ches. We'll blast them with the rereh power of friendship, rescue the damsel in the dis-reh-tess in the nick of time. Scedaddle and still have plenty of trans-er-erp time to get ten years closer to Earth."
Harry tried to keep a straight face, it brought tears to his eyes. "Oh of course. It's so simple."
"If that's not sarcastic and know it all, I've been doing my whole life wrong," James sniggered.
Kathryn's eyebrows both raised briefly, then her eyes rolled to one side. "Mmmhmm," she managed to say behind tightly sealed lips. She breathed in a bit before continuing, her voice slightly sharper than before. "Using the Hansens research we have equipped the Flyer with some special shielding that will hide it from the Borg. We'll need to modify the bio dampeners that Seven suggested since they were soooo useful before."
Seven held herself back for the time being.
"Giggles will pilot the shuttle. Doctor, you'll come along to help Morgan if she needs medical treatment. We'll need someone at Tactical who knows Borg weaponry and would be able to handle a Borg encryption code or two," Kathryn said, actually looking toward Seven for once. She raised her hopes. Kathryn swung around at the last second. "James, this sounds like the perfect job for you."
"What?" Seven snapped.
James smiled in Kathryn's direction, "you already asked me to go an hour ago."
Kathryn smiled deviously back, a mischievous glint in her eye matched it. "And now it's public."
Seven's eyes looked ready to fall out at any second. The Doctor had been standing beside her the whole time, he quickly side stepped a couple of times to get away.
"Anyway I'll be leading the away team. The rest..." Kathryn continued as if nothing happened. Jessie put her hand up. "Yes, what is it, hurry, I don't want to forget my speech."
"Can I come?" Jessie asked.
"She only wants to come because he's-her going," Tom said as he pointed at James.
Jessie pulled the Borg arm out from behind her back and raised it up to threaten him with, the Doctor gasped in horror.
"I'll be quiet," Tom squeaked.
"I've been looking all over for that!" the Doctor whined at the same time.
"I know. Anyway, I thought you'd need all the Borg help you can get," Jessie said. Seven's cheeks flexed, eyes managed to bug out even more. She tried to shake it off and scoff.
"Yes, that would be most helpful, thank you," Kathryn replied sincerely.
Seven's jaw almost fell out. "What?"
"Ooh, maybe you should have volunteered first Barbs," Jessie teased.
"Yes, now the seats are all taken. Too bad. I'll continue my speech," Kathryn said. Everyone silently groaned. "We will need tactical support when we return, that's why I'll need Commander Tuvok at his post. Until I return you will be taking orders from Commander Chakotay. Let's get started."
Tom lowered himself into the helm seat slowly, savouring the moment for as long as possible. He let out a relaxed sigh once he was done. "Feels like I've been waiting for this moment my whole life."
At the station behind him to his left, Jessie watched with a look of disgust. She then looked to James on the opposite side of the shuttle. "I thought we were gagging him. That's the only reason I volunteered."
Tom rolled his eyes and grunted. "Hey, I'm not super keen on seeing you two making out on my shuttle's consoles again either."
Jessie looked ready to explode at any second, she was even trembling. James looked on with worry. Neither of them had to wait long. "It was a hug!" Tom smacked his lips together to prove a point. "Fine, a cheek kiss. Just friends do it. We were alone, you walked in. Only thirteen year old twats laugh at that."
Tom sniggered obnoxiously as Kathryn entered the cockpit with the Doctor behind her, James glanced over his shoulder. "Where's the black tape?" Jessie snapped.
Kathryn sighed hesitantly, "oh, I knew I forgot something." She turned around to go back. The Doctor was still in the way of the door with little room to move out of it.
"Please. If I hadn't come in, that just friends quick cheek kiss hug would've turned into a full on sno..." Tom chuckled.
"What were you saying before Tom? That you're so happy Morgan was kidnapped, as you can now finally take the Flyer for a transwarp spin," James interrupted.
Tom turned very, very white in a matter of seconds. Kathryn's eyes widened as much as Seven's normally would. The entire shuttle was quiet. Eerily quiet.
"Well played," Tom squeaked.
James smiled, then looked back at Jessie mouthing the words I know to her. She sniggered quietly.
Kathryn meanwhile walked up to stand in between them. A phaser was quickly dumped onto James' console. "Be my guest."
"To gag him or...?" James asked.
Kathryn shrugged, "use your better judgement. I trust it's the right one."
Tom swallowed a lump in his throat. He quickly started the Flyer up in a blind panic, "coil is online. Transwarp powering up, which only I know how to do might I add."
"Pull lever to go?" James said.
Tom narrowed his eyes and muttered, "imbecile, as if." He leaned forward to block the view of him pulling one of the levers.
The Delta Flyer lurched forward harshly, it shuddered for a few minutes. "Compensating for idiot boy racer turbulence," Jessie muttered while tapping on her console quickly. The shuddering was reduced.
"We're at critical velocity. Flux capacitor is charged and ready," Tom reported. He looked smug about it, "bet you didn't know that part."
James and Kathryn rolled their eyes in disgust. The Doctor shook his head and sat down near the back.
"Yes, you're a very clever boy with B'Elanna's cheat sheet there," Kathryn said in a patronising tone. "Now go."
The shuttle suffered further tremors as the view outside eventually changed into a bright green tunnel. The sight of it, coupled with the shaky launch left Jessie a little light headed, the heat drained from her skin. Kathryn noticed her absent minded hand press on her stomach, and was about to comment when she heard the Doctor groan behind her.
"Tom really, you couldn't have had a toilet break before we left?" Kathryn snapped harshly. Tom had his back to everyone so was naturally confused. "Even the hologram's affected by it."
"What, what's my fault now?" Tom snapped.
James shook his head, equally confused as him. "I'm not following either..." he then noticed Jessie as well. "Jess?"
"I'm fine. Motion sickness, I'll get used to it," Jessie mumbled.
The Doctor overheard, so he tried to get up. His matrix objected similarly to her. "It seems my matrix isn't accustomed to extreme velocities. I will need to adjust."
"I'll take a look if you want. Sooner the better," James said. He didn't wait for an answer, he got up anyway and hurried to the back. Kathryn took his seat.
"Oh I dunno, if I have to be sick I'm in the best seat in the house," Jessie said.
Horror shot onto Tom's face when he remembered which station she sat at, "don't even think about it."
"There's the Sphere's trail," Kathryn smiled. "You should be getting the co-ordinates now."
"That was fast," Tom said. His hand reached for a different lever. The shuttle swerved violently. James had been looking at the Doctor's mobile emitter during it, he stumbled a bit into the wall, grabbing something a little too late. The Doctor felt his matrix flip upside down, while Jessie hoped her stomach wasn't doing that. Tom quickly ducked down just in case.
"You know, it's almost like you're trying to get everyone to hate you," Jessie mumbled through her nausea.
"This is quite fun," Tom said with glee.
James recovered, he had a sheepish look on his face as he tossed something in his hand to the floor. "Oops."
The Doctor's head snapped toward him in a panic, "oops?"
"Full speed ahead," Kathryn said, ignoring everyone's comments.
"Not you Doc," James replied. Two more taps to his emitter and he was done. "Try that."
The Doctor attempted to stand. Satisfied his matrix wasn't going to fall to pieces, he walked over to tend to Jessie.
Kathryn sighed, for a moment there was peace in the Flyer. That was until Tom frowned and glanced over his shoulder. "Wait, what was that oops about then?" The Captain growled.
Three Borg ships, two cubes and a small diamond shape, entered orbit around a planet. An armada of alien vessels hurried toward them to stop them.
Vasts amount of information lined the screen in front of Morgan; images, text, diagrams. She wasn't paying any attention to them, only looking in the general direction in a daze.
"We've arrived, are you ready?" the Queen asked on approach.
Morgan felt her arms trembling at the thought of what was coming. She tried to hide it by rolling her eyes and tightening her fists. "What do you want, a clap?"
"Tactical weakness?" the Queen asked. Morgan turned around to see her expression when she shrugged with little care. To her disappointment there was not even a flicker in the Queen's eyes. "Tactical strength?
"Oh!" Morgan said with faked enthusiasm, her eyes wider than usual. "I know this one. They have a weapon that can actually damage you. Too bad," she said with sarcastic pity.
"How do you suppose we adapt?" the Queen asked.
Morgan pretended to think it over, the Queen's eyes drilled into her. "I dunno, self destruct?"
"Thirty nine vessels are approaching our position. They're firing weapons," the Queen said. The ship trembled. She stepped closer to the girl, eyes locked on. "We will be destroyed, you included," the Queen said. The ship shook again, a station nearby exploded.
"Yeah and?" Morgan said with a tired sigh.
The Queen still wasn't fazed, she even smiled a little. "Triaxillating our shield geometry will absorb their phaser pulses." She titled her head slightly for a couple of seconds. "Adaptation complete. They're no longer a threat."
Morgan froze, dread began to sink in. The helplessness made her feel sick.
"See, resistance gives you nothing but pain," the Queen said. "Go to the primary assimilation chamber. You'll monitor the bio-extraction process."
"What?" Morgan stammered, eyes widening so much they stung. This time she couldn't hide her tremors. "No! Go duck yourself."
"Cute," the Queen smirked briefly. "You're correct though, I'm pushing you too quickly. You can assist with the repairs to our shield matrix instead."
Morgan's shoulders fell, no longer able to hold the tension in any longer. Her fists remained clenched for now. She didn't want to do the repairs either, but at the very least she could get out of the Queen's sight for now. That thought reminded her; as long as she was around Borg she'd never escape that.
"Whatever," she tried to say with some attitude. It came out as a mumble. The best she could do now was leave behind one of her mother's deadliest glares as she walked out of the chamber.
"Morgan," the Queen said softly. The sound of it brought the teen's shoulders back up high, she hesitantly looked over her shoulder to find the Borg already turned around and staring. "Be efficient."
Morgan gave her one more glare and she stomped out of the chamber. The Queen smiled in response.
Many corridors away Morgan fiddled with one of the terminals. Anguished screams of pain echoed everywhere, each one made her breathe in much more deeply and quickly.
A drone walked up to her and it tried to do some work there. She groaned and was only just moving away when the console exploded. Instead of point blank in the face, she fell sideways to the deck.
As she tried to pull herself up two drones approached her and pulled her harshly to her feet. Her whole body flinched. Memories of needles coming for her neck flashed back into her mind. In those few seconds between being grabbed and elbowing one of them then making a run for it, they healed the burn mark on her face and walked off unscathed. She barely had time to move.
Morgan hurried away from the scene, eager to escape the sounds. All she could see though was drones escorting lines of people in the direction she was going. Turning on her heel she fled in another direction. Every drone could potentially grab her and take her back to the Queen, or worse, so she told herself to walk normally.
She turned a corner, what she saw there stopped her dead. Starfleet crewmembers mixed in with some of the aliens. Amongst them she saw a boy who looked like Craig. He managed to push a drone out of the way and run in her direction. He definitely was him, what she didn't get was how. Did the Queen assimilate Voyager anyway despite what she did?
Craig almost ran into her, his eyes widened in further panic on recognising her too. "Morgan, we've got to get out of here."
"How did you get here? Why?" Morgan stuttered. Drones caught up to them. "Watch out!" she screamed.
Craig clutched her arm and ran around her, pulling her with him. No matter where they went, drones seemed to activate and head for them. The pair stumbled backward as their last possible route was the assimilation line. Morgan felt her arm pull back, she swung around in time to see tubules pierce Craig's neck.
"No!" Morgan cried. She felt the assimilation tubules going through her own. Everything went blank.
She woke up to the sound of an explosion. A quick scan around she found she was lying on the deck, near the console that exploded. She felt her neck, there was no new implants or anything else Borg like. She tried to move but the pain in her face stopped her from moving too fast.
Two drones walked up to her like before and pulled her to her feet. One healed the burns on her face. As soon as they moved away she ran back the way she had came.
She finally reached a small room. She stopped at the door way. One drone was busy attaching a mechanical arm to an alien. There was another drone standing guard. There were three other aliens standing near by, looking like they'd given up all hope, staring blankly into space. Resigned to their fate.
A console outside exploded. The second Borg drone walked out to repair it. Morgan quickly turned to the side so he'd have room to walk by her.
The sight of the man on the table, his severed arm, the operation. At first all she could feel was revulsion. It quickly turned to anger. The image of Craig, the Starfleet officers. The Queen was still toying with her, probably because she was being difficult. It was all she had.
That realisation flipped a switch in her mind. It was all she needed. She lunged for the lone drone with all her might.
When she had walked out of the Queen's chamber, she was disgusted, terrified. The tables had turned. She walked back inside with newfound confidence.
"Congratulations," the Queen said with her back still on her, as if she could sense it.
"What for?" Morgan asked.
"Assimilation is complete," the Queen replied.
Morgan walked halfway and stopped, her arms tightly folded. "I suppose you'll want me to go out for the banners and balloons."
"I see you're still drowning in ignorance. This is a wonderful moment for them and us. They've been reborn with a greater purpose," the Queen sneered, she turned to face her. "We've delivered them from order into chaos."
"Yes, hearing billions of voices in your head, twenty four seven, that sounds very orderly. Had any suicides lately?" Morgan said angrily.
"You cling to sarcasm because you are afraid to see the truth. Those people are already adding to our perfection. You can feel their distinctiveness coursing through us, enhancing us. Stop resisting, take pleasure in this," the Queen said as closed in.
"I won't, I'm not as disgusting as you are!" Morgan snapped.
"There is that anger again, you are using it to hide your real feelings of guilt, compassion and sympathy. They're all irrelevant," the Queen said.
"No they're not, they're only irrelevant to boring, ruthless and disgusting people like you," Morgan said.
The Borg Queen seemed distracted for a second. "We've overlooked something, a ship. Ten lifeforms." Morgan's confidence took a hit, she tried not to let it show. A holographic screen appeared in front of the Queen. It showed an alien ship flying away from the carnage. "How do you suggest we proceed? Destroy the vessel or assimilate it?"
"Or let it go. You've got thousands of new slaves already, you've learned everything they know. What's the point?" Morgan said as calmly as possible.
"As usual our thoughts are not one. If those people escape then this species will survive and continue to resist us. But that was what you're hoping for wasn't it?" the Queen asked.
"Resist you? One ship, a few people. You're pathetic," Morgan grumbled.
The Queen's dark smile returned, unnerving her. "Did you have fun? Those drones you incapacitated to save ten poor wretched souls? It made you feel superior, didn't it? You judge yet you are no different."
"What?" Morgan said quietly, once more shaking as before.
"You forget; we are one, so I see everything. I know you masked those lifesigns, transported them to that ship. I detected them," the Queen whispered.
On the screen a Borg Cube flew up to the ship and a tractor beam was placed on it.
"What the hell are you doing?" Morgan snapped.
"I'm sorry that this has to be so painful for you but you are a difficult pupil. Abandon your human frailties, they are the cause of your pain," the Queen said, her voice breaking.
"Just let them go!" Morgan yelled desperately.
The Queen stared at her for a couple of seconds. On the screen, the tractor beam was released.
Morgan looked on shocked. The Queen smiled at her and she walked away.
The Delta Flyer dropped out of transwarp and entered the massive Borg complex. In comparison the shuttle was a speck of dust. It didn't ease the tension on board.
"Holy crap," Jessie whispered. Tom nodded in silent agreement.
"Report," Kathryn said as she leaned over the back of James' chair.
"There's thousands of Borg structures and ships, give or take," James answered.
"There's a cube heading our way off the port bow," Tom panicked. He didn't have to say it, they could all see it through the front window, taking up the entire thing. The massive Borg Cube flew above them, the shuttle briefly shuddered.
"Did they see us?" Kathryn wondered.
James triple checked to make sure, "no, their course didn't change, no other ships are coming."
"Any sign of our sphere?" Kathryn asked.
"Yes ma'am. Its ion trail leads directly into whatever it is," Tom said.
"Plot a course, minimum thrusters. Begin scanning for Morgan," Kathryn ordered. James nodded and kept his head down. She meanwhile turned to address the Doctor at the back, working on something. "How's it coming?"
He waited a bit before answering, "I believe I've isolated the translink frequency for Morgan's interplexing beacon. All we need now is a message."
"I have a task for you," the Queen coldly said while walking toward the dead centre of the chamber. "We are planning a new form of assimilation for highly resistant species. I want you to program the nanoprobes."
Morgan huffed through her nose, turning her head away from her. "Yeah, I'll get right on it."
"Your knowledge for the target species is invaluable," the Queen said.
A holographic human man appeared wearing only his knickers, Morgan saw it in the corner of her eye and whispered, "eew pervert."
"Species 5618; Human. Warp capable, physiology inefficient, below average cranial capacity, limited regenerative abilities," the Queen said, circling the near naked hologram. "Creative, obnoxiously sneaky, suffer from delusions of grandeur, lying manipulative scum snorting coffee in between breaths," her voice rebounded to bitter ranting by the time she was done.
Morgan stared at her trying badly not to laugh or smirk at her. She had to turn her head away once more. "I see, I get it now," she said quietly.
The Queen didn't hear or chose not to reply to that. Her voice was back to her usual cold calmness. "Our previous attempts to assimilate them were all direct assaults, they failed. So we've created a more effective strategy."
"More than one ship?" Morgan muttered.
"No. We need something far more subtle. A detonated biogenic charge in Earth's atmosphere will infect all lifeforms. Assimilation would be gradual. By the time they found out what was happening, half their population would be drones," the Queen said.
The funny image of the bitter Queen of the Borg ranting about her mother was ancient history. What she suggested horrified Morgan she had trouble getting her words out. "What's, why bother? It would take years. It's far more likely to be caught and stopped. You'd have to get close to do it, so it couldn't happen."
"I'm sure taking pity on a poor orphaned teenaged girl, the only survivor of Voyager, will have no trouble getting through the door, so to speak," the Queen smiled.
Any remaining colour drained from Morgan's face, making her paler than any of the Borg there. "What, but you said... Detonate a charge."
"The delivery system is still a work in progress. For the moment interface with the central alcove, you may work on the virus there," the Queen said.
Morgan shook her head, her folded arms were less defiant and more like a scared self hug. The Queen quietly approached her, looking her straight in the eye.
"Why do you resist? They abandoned you. Twice," she hissed. Morgan tried to look away but she followed her every move. "You do not belong with them, you are merely a copy to them. I know better. You've surpassed them, you are but one step away from perfection. I can help you. They cannot. This is but another assimilation, no difference."
"It is to me, this is my species you're talking about here. I'm not going to help you destroy them," Morgan said angrily. "Or anyone for that matter."
"There you go again. My species, I'm not. I don't," the Queen groaned. "There is no me, there is only us. One mind."
Morgan rolled her eyes to the left, then to the right. "I have a task for you. I want you to do this. I detected them. I see this." The Queen's stare turned even colder somehow. "Practice what you preach, hmm?"
"You're merely imitating your foul mother. You sound like a mindless automaton. Comply, or we we will bring Voyager here and make you watch, starting with your family," the Queen said harshly.
"Go ahead, it won't get you anywhere," Morgan said.
The Queen wavered briefly. "I beg to differ, their..."
Morgan locked on with her own stare and even closed the gap between them with a few steps. "You won't. You know it as well as I do. Threatening them is the only way you can control me." She smiled, "and you still can't."
"Your resistance is nought but hope that they will rescue you. Once that is vanquished..." the Queen said smugly.
"Bring them here and you'll lose your only hold on me. You think I'll stay, think I'll hold back with them gone?" Morgan said with another step forward, her stare turning more and more Janeway like. "I won't help you and I think that was never what you wanted. Not really. A lowly Human bested you and you can't handle it. Let me tell you, I'm much more of a pain in the ass than her."
To her annoyance and worry, the Queen reacted with disinterest. "Very well. If you will not co-operate, then I'm sure Janeway will appreciate being assimilated by her very own daughter. I don't know why I didn't think of it before."
The entire chamber of drones stopped what they were doing to surround them. Morgan flinched, they all stared in her general direction.
The Queen made the final step forward, they were almost nose to nose. "Ignorant child. Did you think you were the only one of use to us?"
Morgan's mind instantly leapt to Kiara. Anger and fear turned her into a shivering wreck with constantly balling fists. "No, you can't. She's... I won't let you."
The smile that appeared on the Borg Queen's face disgusted her it was so malicious. "You really know nothing, don't you? Don't be afraid," she whispered.
"I'm not afraid of you, heartless bitch," Morgan stammered.
"You are one of us," the Queen said.
Another voice echoed inside Morgan's mind. It was familiar, comforting, it gave her the hope she desperately needed. "Morgan, we're coming for you, try to hang on."
"Mum," Morgan merely mouthed.
"What did you say?" the Queen snapped, her eyes flared.
"Nothing," Morgan replied. The Queen grabbed Morgan's chin with her right hand. It was immediately slapped away.
"Janeway!" the Queen barked, hatred spewed from every inch of her.
Kathryn once more stood behind James, watching what he was doing carefully, both her arms resting across the back of his chair.
"I've got her. There's a large structure about six hundred kilometres away," James said.
Kathryn patted the chair as if it were his shoulder. "Good job. Tom set a course."
"Already on it," Tom responded.
"She's here," the Queen growled. Her manic marching around in circles was making the drones all dizzy. "Close. She thought that I wouldn't notice the blatant message to one of my own?"
"It's through subspace. It doesn't tell you where she is whatsoever," Morgan said.
The Queen wasn't listening. "We can't detect her vessel. But I'll get her. I will," she said within a croak. Her next stomp off was toward a particular drone. "You, it's your fault. You and your showoff wife. Your precious daughter told her, didn't she?"
The drone's eyes slipped barely to the left. Still, the Queen spotted it. "Again?" she barked in contempt. Half of the drones moved to surround them both instead, the rest seemed to miss the memo and only moved when they did. "Take him apart, I'm tired of this." Two of them dragged the first drone away kicking and screaming.
"Connection issues?" Morgan said smarmily once he was gone.
"Hmph. No matter. We assimilated this multi adaptive shielding your mother stole. We will adapt," the Queen sneered.
Morgan's brief smugness was instantly wiped away.
Tom glanced up, his face turning an interesting pale green. "That cube's altered course, coming right for us."
"They found us. Re-modulate the shields, evasive maneuvers," Kathryn ordered.
While everyone hurriedly worked, the shuttle rumbled for a couple of seconds, then stopped. Tom sighed in relief and wiped the sweat from his brow. "Oh, false alarm. It's gone."
Kathryn rolled her eyes. She rewarded him for that with a nice slap across the back of the head. He whined like a child and rubbed it with a pout on his face.
"James, have you got her location narrowed down yet?" she asked.
"It looks to be a small ship buried inside the structure. She seems to be in the centre of it, a large room with a few lifesigns," James replied, twisting his face for no reason Kathryn could see.
Jessie though frowned with worry. "Is it like a diamond?"
"Wishful thinking?" Tom snickered to himself. It didn't go unheard. Jessie glared into his back.
James nodded, "yeah, you could say that. It's familiar, not sure why."
Kathryn turned her attention to Jessie, "why? Something we should know?"
"I think I do. It's like command central, in a way," Jessie replied with distaste. It eased the confused expression on James' face, but it did nothing for hers.
"Command central, so like the Queen Bee's Ready Room?" Tom questioned.
"I hope for your sake you're not comparing," Kathryn said dangerously.
Jessie scrunched her own face nervously, gritting her teeth. "Could be. My memory of it is hazy."
"Better than mine," James commented.
Kathryn shrugged it off as if it were nothing. "Can we transport Morgan out?"
Jessie glanced up at her to shake her head. "We're too far."
"Say no more," Tom said. "Please."
The Borg Queen's lips curled as she turned her back on her captive. "We have their ship. Federation shuttlecraft. Four lifeforms, one hologram."
Morgan scoffed. "Yeah right. If you captured them you'd be cackling evilly and have already beamed her here for me to watch. I don't buy it." The Queen clenched her jaw, fire had replaced her eyeballs. "What's wrong, is she besting you again?"
The Delta Flyer gently approached one of the many huge structures. They came to a stop so close they'd see people in the windows if there were any.
"Nope, still can't. It must be too heavily shielded," Jessie said.
"Can we beam into one of the adjoining corridors?" Kathryn asked.
"We could do," James replied.
"Time for the bio dampeners," Kathryn smiled.
The Doctor was on the case, he quickly brought out two devices from a case. Kathryn walked over while gesturing her finger at James. He knew that meant to join her. Jessie didn't look too happy about it. The Doctor wrapped the first device around Kathryn's forearm first.
"Hold this position. Jessie take Tactical until we return," she ordered. Jessie edged out her seat unenthusiastically to swap over. "Keep a weapons lock on that room, standby to fire on my command."
Jessie was barely an inch away from sitting on the chair when she froze. Instead she swung around to look behind her with a glare so strong Kathryn was a little envious of it. "What? I'm not shooting while you two are still there!"
James quickly turned aside to not only grab a couple of phaser rifles, but avoid the stare. The Doctor huffed as he missed him by a matter of seconds. He moved to compensate.
"Fine, I'm sure Tom will do it," Kathryn said.
Tom turned his chair around looking deeply offended. "Hey, she's not touching my helm controls."
Jessie shuddered, looking disgusted. "No I don't really want to do that either."
Kathryn sighed, not out of impatience like anyone expected, but understanding. She shared a brief glance at James who still knew better than to look in Jessie's direction right now. "It shouldn't come to that."
"Maybe I'd be more helpful over there with you," Jessie suggested.
James couldn't help it, he glanced over to her anyway. Jessie's glare was long gone, worry was in its place.
"If we run into trouble, we might need you here," Kathryn said. By her tone her mind was more than made up, she was ready to go. James handed her one of the rifles, or tried to. She shook her head and pointed at the one he chose. "No, I always take that one."
"They're the same," James said plainly. He shrugged and swapped them.
"Energise," Kathryn ordered.
Moments later the pair were strolling down one of the many Borg corridors. James kept an eye on any Borg drones that passed by or were slightly close. Kathryn only kept her gaze trained straight ahead, she only was looking for one.
She didn't see the Borg forcefield coming until she hit it. "Damn it. Is there another route, preferably a quick one?"
James quickly looked down at a tricorder in his left hand, "I doubt it'll matter. They'll probably be in all possible ones." He didn't have to look up to see the expression that told him to check anyway.
While he was doing that a drone walked by like they weren't even there. It also acted as if the forcefield wasn't either. Kathryn stared after him. "Only Borg can walk through them. Of course."
"Yeah makes sense," James mumbled. He gave her the tricorder to try and touch the forcefield himself. It bounced his hand back too. "Nope not Borg enough."
Kathryn wasn't put off though. "I didn't think you would be. I've got a better idea."
"Does it involve further Borg slapping?" James asked with a smile.
Kathryn chuckled, she turned her head toward him with a twinkle in her eye. "That's Plan B. Did the Doc give you the subdermal probe?"
"I'm..." James hesitated. "Not sure. He listed off some Hansen inventions and I only grabbed the ones I think I understood." He checked his pocket to fish out a few items.
Kathryn shook her head as she took one of them. "Lucky guess," she smirked.
The Delta Flyer hovered on the holographic screen in front of the Queen and Morgan, the latter tensed.
"It's not too late to save them," the Queen said, she turned to look at her captor. Morgan folded her arms again and she gave the queen an icy death glare. "As you wish."
"They've isolated our shields again," Jessie stuttered.
Tom tried to talk through the lump in his throat, it came out as a croak, "three vessels this time. They're definitely coming."
"Re-modulating, make sure you move slightly when I give you the ok," Jessie said.
"Not gonna argue with Captain Jessie right now," Tom muttered.
The Doctor could only stare at the cubes in fear.
On the screen, the Delta Flyer shimmered out of sight. The Queen glared at the monitor as if it were at fault.
Morgan smirked, "they're not stupid."
"It's time for a more aggressive approach," the Queen said.
The shuttle shook violently.
"I thought they couldn't see us," the Doctor stuttered.
"They can't, they're firing blind," Tom said.
Kathryn injected a sleeping drone with the probe. She stepped back and gestured to James. "Wake him."
James patted both of his pockets, mouthing how? She shook her head with a I don't know. He rolled his eyes and stepped up to join the drone on the raised alcove. He tapped in something on the small panel beside the arm.
The drone woke up and stepped down. James did as well and readied the tricorder.
"Ah, good. Now it..." Kathryn said cheerily until it wandered off in the opposite direction to the forcefield. "Son of a bitch."
James sniggered, "yeah, I saw that coming a mile off." Kathryn groaned and was ready to take on Plan B herself when James handed her the tricorder. "Get ready."
"For what?" she asked cautiously.
James didn't answer, he followed the drone to her shock and concern.
Everyone clung on as the Flyer was rocked many more times, triggering sparks flying everywhere.
"It's not working anymore. They keep adapting to every new frequency I put in," Jessie said, frantically tapping the console in between her left hand dabbing her brow.
Kathryn shook her head, her eyes had rolled up and remained there.
The Borg drone she had probed now was on the other side of the forcefield, looking dazed as it stumbled onto its feet.
James walked back to join her and stared at her curiously.
"Field modulation 324.95," she said in monotone. Her eyes were sharp, clearly annoyed.
"What?" James asked innocently. Kathryn sighed, she pointed at her neural dampener. James walked over to work on it. "It was only a push, he didn't see me."
"Mmmhmm," she said with judgement. He shrugged it off, then pulled back as he was done. "Okay. Let's do this." She walked toward the forcefield and straight through it. The dampener though wasn't happy about it, it sparked before going off.
James cringed, "hang on, I'll join..." His hand flew to his own.
"No!" Kathryn snapped. "Someone needs to disable the shield matrix around that room. I trust you can handle that without anymore pushing and slapping?" James answered with an unsure murmur. "I'll pretend I didn't hear that, be careful." She hurried off.
James sighed, "you too."
No sooner had she gone, a trio of drones turned into his corridor and began to walk toward him. A slight head turn over his shoulder and he smiled, the rifle raised.
His whole head was sweating, Tom could barely see through the rain.
"We are the Borg, you will be assimilated..."
"Resistance is futile," the Queen said. On the screen one of the Borg ships had put a tractor beam on the Flyer. "You have failed them."
"You," Morgan growled in fury, she took a swing at her. The Queen grabbed her wrist in time.
"We thought you'd be an asset to us, we were wrong. You are weak," the Queen said.
"Get your hands off her!" Kathryn snarled as she entered the room, phaser rifle pointed at the Queen.
"Janeway!" the Queen hissed. Morgan pulled her arm away from her.
"Call all of them off or I'll destroy you." Kathryn icily said.
The Queen tried to hold back her rage, "your weapon is useless."
"Don't be so sure. I've got someone here who'll have already torn down the shields around this room," Kathryn said.
The Queen smiled maliciously, "oh him, yes. It's always nice to have a backup..." She turned her head robotically toward Morgan, "plan."
Kathryn set her deathglare to pulverise while taking a few steps forward. She tapped her commbadge. "Janeway to Flyer, status."
"Jess has targeted the chamber, Captain. We're ready for your order," Tom's voice replied.
"Let her go or I'll give the order to fire," Kathryn said.
"You'll be destroyed as well, along with your daughter," the Queen said.
"Better than being one of you," Kathryn said. Drones approached her. "Jessie, torpedos full spread, fire on my command!"
The Borg Queen closed her eyes briefly, sighing impatiently.
"They've released the tractor," Tom's voice said.
"Hold your fire, beam us out of here," Kathryn said.
"The shield's gone up again. I can't beam you out," Jessie's voice stuttered.
Kathryn exchanged death glares with the Borg Queen. In the corner of her eye, her daughter stood tense and unsure what to do. The Captain only directed her eyes toward her, "Morgan, can you shut them down here?"
"Don't listen to her. This is the same woman who dumped you into an escape pod, the same one who shrugged and let you go. You are not Kiara, she has her daughter already. She does not care about you, only your potential," the Queen said.
"Fine assimilate us, because it worked so well the last few times," Kathryn grumbled.
The Borg Queen's eyes narrowed. "I knew it. I knew you were responsible. How did you do it? A virus that disrupts the interlink frequency, planted in your own children. You are... pitiful."
Kathryn bit her lip to avoid laughing, "yeah sure, whatever. I did that."
"Then the solution is clear. You will assist the collective as drones," the Queen said. Most of the drones in the room moved in closer to Morgan and Kathryn. "Assimilate Janeway first."
"Mum, target the power node above the central alcove, it'll disrupt her command interface," Morgan said quickly.
The Queen glared at her. Kathryn eagerly fired her phaser rifle up at the central alcove, it exploded. Seconds later Morgan and Kathryn beamed away.
The Doctor scanned Morgan as she sat at the back of the shuttle.
"Welcome back," he said with a smile.
"Thanks," Morgan said gratefully.
Kathryn hurried back to standing in between Tactical and Opps. Jessie squeezed past her to retake her previous console, James walked around behind her to get to Tactical. The shuttle shook from weapons fire to make it a touch harder than it already was.
"Three vessels closing fast!" Tom shouted.
"Evasive maneuvers until transwarp's ready to go," Kathryn ordered.
Another hit got James worried, "weapons are down."
"Where's Seven when you need her?" Kathryn mumbled, confusing everyone in more ways than one.
"Transwarp in six, five, four, three," Tom said, his hand hovering over the lever.
Two cubes and the diamond chased the Flyer, which danced around their weapons fire. A few managed to land. The shuttle glowed before shooting off into the green corridor. The small diamond ship gave chase, hopping straight into the conduit along with them.
"One of the Borg ships is right behind us, it got into our conduit right before it closed," James said.
Kathryn grunted, "of course they did. Keep us on course."
The shuttle shook as torpedos hammered the shields. One made Tom's panel scream at him.
"Direct hit to the port nacelle, we're venting plasma," he stammered.
"Hang on, re-routing power," Jessie said from her previous station.
Tom shook his head, "it's not enough. I'll need thirty more teradynes at least or we'll lose transwarp."
"Reroute some power from life support," Kathryn said.
"Captain!" the Doctor snapped.
Kathryn threw her head back over her shoulder, "I don't know why you're the one panicking. It's not going to kill us immediately." She turned back. "Do it."
Jessie looked uneasy, "right."
Chakotay had barely moved from his spot in the middle of the bridge, staring at the viewscreen, waiting for any sign of the Delta Flyer. B'Elanna kept a watchful eye on him, previously at the Engineering station, now in Seven's usual spot. In Tom's place at helm, Craig sat, hoping he wouldn't have to do anything too complicated.
"Commander," Tuvok's voice broke the ice. "Sensors are picking up transwarp conduit off our port bow, distance thirty thousand kilometres."
"Battlestations," Chakotay ordered. The lights dimmed as Red Alert began.
"How long until we reach our rendezvous, Tom?" Kathryn asked.
"Ten seconds," Tom replied.
"The Borg vessel?" Kathryn asked.
"Right behind us, they're trying to lock on a tractor beam," James replied.
Morgan tried to get up so she could help, another weapons blast knocked her back into the seat. The Doctor clicked his tongue disapprovingly.
"Shield modulation should deflect it," Jessie said. She nodded when it worked.
"Five, four, three.." Tom said.
"Yes, we get the point!" Jessie snapped.
The shuttle left the conduit and re-entered normal space. Voyager waited for them directly ahead.
"They're through," B'Elanna said.
Chakotay breathed a huge sigh of relief, "Voyager to Delta Flyer. Report?"
"We've got her back but that Drama Queen is right behind us."
Chakotay resisted a smile for now. "Tuvok torpedoes full spread, aim them at the conduit's perimetre."
"Commander?" Tuvok said with an eyebrow raise.
"It should destabilise the matter stream. Anything inside the conduit within a light year of the opening will hit one hell of a road block," Chakotay explained. B'Elanna couldn't help but smirk at his plan.
Tuvok did as he was ordered to. "Torpedoes locked."
"Fire!" Chakotay barked.
All they saw through the glass was the torpedoes flying out of Voyager and over their heads. Kathryn followed them with a disgruntled expression.
"They've hit the opening," Jessie told her.
Kathryn slapped her commbadge, "Voyager, tell Tuvok..."
"We've closed the conduit, no sign of Borg activity," Chakotay's voice said.
Kathryn's face softened in an instant, "good job." Everyone heard the sigh of relief over the other side of the comm. "Clear us for docking, we're coming home."
"Commander, I'm detecting Borg signatures, lots of them," Harry said. "I'm not going to bother counting them as I always get a scolding."
"I thought the conduit had collapsed," Chakotay's brow furrowed in concern.
"It did," Tuvok said.
Chakotay was more worried about Kathryn's reaction to this news than any Borg. Still, he had to tell her. "Captain, we've got company."
"Here they come," B'Elanna said.
On the viewscreen the conduit opened and bits of the Borg ship hurtled out.
"You're right. I do like them in pieces," Kathryn's voice chuckled.
Chakotay smirked and shook his head. "Yeah," he mouthed.
Captain's Log Supplemental: Using the transwarp coil we have managed to travel twenty thousand light years. Seven claimed we've skipped fifteen years of our journey, I think the silly bint must be losing the plot. I've told the Doctor to change her batteries. On another note the aliens that accused us of coffee theft tried to attack us before the flight. Wish I could've seen their faces.
We're still left with many unanswered questions. Morgan's back from her ordeal with the Borg and that's all that matters for the time being.
"You do know you're grounded, right?" Kathryn said.
Morgan chuckled even with Kathryn's straight, stern face. When it didn't let up her laughter faded out. "I pushed a drone into a maturation pod. The kid punched him in the nose."
Kathryn broke out into a full on grin. Proud, with a funny mental image. "How old was he?"
"She. Dunno, 'bout five," Morgan replied.
"Ah, here," Kathryn said while quickly typing something onto a PADD. She handed it over to the girl. "Buy whatever you want."
Morgan smiled sneakily, "I knew I wasn't grounded."
"Oh you were, but rewards for Borg smacking are heavily rewarded and outweigh a lot of misdemeanors. Ask James, keeps him out of the brig," Chakotay joked.
"Fool slapping," Kathryn corrected him.
"Um right," Morgan laughed nervously as she looked at the PADD. Her eyes bugged out at the number written on it. "Oh wow, now I can get that retractable knife."
Chakotay's face turned a little pale, while Kathryn winced and snatched it back. She tried to anyway, Morgan kept a tight hold of it. Her daughter squeaked a little and pouted. "No weapons," Kathryn said sharply.
"But why? You said I could buy what I wanted," Morgan whimpered.
"Almost anything. I don't want you... putting your eye out or anything," Chakotay stuttered, clearly improvising.
"What kind of idiot stabs themselves in the eye?" Morgan huffed.
Neelix's wails were overpowering everyone's conversations when Morgan walked in. She saw his head buried in folded arms, a knife stained with red on the counter and a crewman trying to comfort him. "Oh," she said, hurrying away to find a table.
Craig spotted her and beckoned her over to the already full table of him, James, Jessie, Kiara, Naomi and Tani. As she approached James pulled a chair from the neighbouring table, and the others scooched aside a bit to let her in.
"What's that about?" she had to shout so they heard her.
Jessie cleared her throat before doing the same, "he burnt his jelly and tomato cake. Thank god!"
Morgan hoped she misheard because of the noise and did a triple take. Jessie's face told her she didn't.
Thankfully the noise abruptly ended. A few looked over to find he was gone, likely whisked away to Sickbay.
"Tomato. Cake. Jelly," Morgan said to make sure. The others at the table nodded. "The knife?"
"That's the only bit of this that makes sense. He tried to cut it and yeah, epic rebound," Craig sniggered.
Morgan giggled in relief and at the image. "Oh, at least he didn't put his eye out."
James shrugged, "looks like he did. Handle. Slight bump, tears. Not enough to put him off licking the red goo from the knife."
"Eeew," Morgan cringed. Her disgust didn't last, she noticed the remains of a feast laid out on the table. Sausage rolls, sandwiches, crisps, pizza slices, a few morsels of chips in a bowl, onion rings, cheese, and the almost full bowl of fruit no one wanted. James nodded and gestured his hand out. She took the hint and dug in too.
"Courtesy of the Janeway Hates Mostly Everyone fund," Jessie smiled. She lowered her voice to a whisper, "but keep it to yourself. If anyone asks, we all shared the payment."
"Yeah, mum gave me a month's worth I dunno what to do with," Morgan said.
Kiara looked to her with interest, "did you slap someone too Morgan?" Morgan's smile turned sly. "Aaaw, I want to see."
"Next time," Morgan said with a wink.
"So, how are you?" Craig asked. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Tani nudged him with her elbow. "Oy, no pushy."
"Sorry," Craig cringed and rubbed his arm.
"No it's fine. I... there's not really much to tell," Morgan said, glancing toward Kiara.
"Mummy said you were kidnapped by an ugly batty cow," she said. Most of the table reacted with similar amusement. "Was mad she didn't tell until came back."
Morgan felt a little relieved that she knew. Still, she had no idea where to start or what to even mention. One particular part stuck out the most. "The Borg Queen can throw one hell of a tantrum."
The comment earned her a few sniggers and the kids giggles.
"Did the Tantrum Queen explain why she only wanted you?" Jessie asked. "Not that I wanted that honour or anything."
"I told mum that she wants to assimilate Earth and she needed me, someone who wasn't attached to it," Morgan replied. "But she didn't need me. I think, no I know she has it in for mum and that's why she picked me over you guys or Seven. Or Voyager for that matter."
"Weird," James frowned. "The Borg were never like that before."
"She mentioned disconnect issues. Drones wouldn't respond right away, she had to vocally order people. Probably been happening since you and Jess," Morgan answered uneasily.
"We never did figure that one out, did we?" Craig sighed.
Tani's attention leveled up twice, her eyes were sparkling in James' direction, "oh so you were a Borg drone too?"
"Just for a second or two," James answered meekly.
"The Queen didn't know why it was happening either," Morgan said. "It's odd that it's happened twice."
Tani giggled and batted her eyes, "so we have that in common. I wonder what else."
James was very thankful Craig and Jessie were in between them. Morgan on his other side shook her head at her friend, hoping she'd listen to her.
"Oh my god," Jessie groaned before glancing at the girl. "Get the very awkward hint."
Tani scowled at her back, "he's a grown man now, back off mummy."
Jessie gasped, fire in her eyes she edged out of her seat. "What did you call..."
"You know what's weird?" Morgan quickly blurted out. It worked for the moment, Jessie froze mid getting up with a deathglare on her face. "The Borg Queen knew about my botched assimilation. That future was erased, wasn't it?"
"Hmm, good point. Creepy," Tani said as if nothing happened.
"The translink dream message thing, she was in your head. Maybe that's why," Craig suggested.
James laughed a little awkwardly, still worried about the ticking time bomb sitting next to him. "Maybe, but the Queen would have to know about her first to know to do that."
Craig's face fell. "Oh right, duh."
"I figured with the original sphere vanishing, the Queen wasn't affected by the temporal nanoprobe," Morgan said with a shrug. She finished off the tiny chips remaining, they only made her want more. "Never mind, I'll think about it later. I should get the next round." She stood back up.
Craig smiled up at her, "good plan. I'll help you carry them." He did too.
Kiara's face lit up, "ooh ooh. Time for cakes and ice cream. Choccy biscuits."
Naomi disagreed, "ice cream would melt. Muffins and doughnuts."
"I dunno. Kids are annoying enough without sugar," Morgan said. Both girls took the insult well, smiling innocently in Kiara's case. "Ha, you think I'm gonna fall for that?"
"How about more chips and pizza, they were the popular ones and you didn't get much of them," Craig suggested, disappointing both kids.
"Yeah. If you want something sweet so badly, there's always Neelix's tomato coal cake," Morgan said using an innocent smile of her own.
Kiara's smile turned into a pretend scowl, she followed that with a tongue sticking out. "You're mean."
Morgan giggled at her, "yes we are."
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