Janeway Redux - Part 16

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Submitted by halfofone on Tue, 16/12/2008 - 23:31.

Star Trek Voyager

Janeway/Seven of NIne

Part 16 - A new alliance

Tue, 16/12/2008 - 23:00

15 or R

TITLE: Janeway Redux AUTHOR: halfofone
FEEDBACK: Constructive feedback welcome.
SUMMARY: Janeway gets remade and returns to find her old ship. She needs Voyager and the crew but can they trust her? This part opens in the same time frame as where we left part 14, five years after the events of Counterpoint in season 5.
SPOILERS: Some Season 4 and Season 5 spoilers.
ARCHIVING: If you want ... I would quite like to know where.

TPTB are many. In a perfect world I would be one of them but it's not and I'm not. No infringement of copyright/trade marks or other intellectual property is intended. This story was written for fun and not profit.

Warning: This story includes same sex relationships between women. If you are offended by this or it is illegal where you live or you are underage then please read no further.

Full warnings, credits and disclaimers can be found in the contents page and chapter 1.

To all those readers who against the odds have kept on at me to finish this - keep going a little longer.

===Voyager's ready room===

Chakotay watched Janeway carefully; she had confirmed his suspicions. He and the crew of Voyager were pawns in a game between two poker players with everything to lose. Janeway had risked Voyager many times before but at least then he had never doubted her commitment to her crew and her determination to bring them home. This time it was different. This woman was a stranger almost. He needed to know her better and to get some understanding of her new allegiance.

"It's a remarkable achievement for an outsider to climb so high within an organisation like the Alliance. Revolutionaries are usually extremely suspicious of anyone new, jealous even. It must have been very difficult for you in the early days."

"Actually after a few misunderstandings I progressed reasonably rapidly in the Alliance ranks." She grinned almost mischievously. "I had some advantages."

Kraal snorted. "Insanity being one."

Janeway shrugged and smiled. "Some people might have called it that. Good luck and good friends would be my explanation and there was the opportunity - I had skills and experience that were in very short supply - but mostly circumstances were on my side."

Nithqref shook both heads and gently, so it almost came as whisper within the minds of all those present, added 'The brave make their own good fortune Kathryn.'

"Very true," said Chakotay. "So how were you received by the Alliance?"

Janeway demurred and shook her head "But I would like to hear some of your adventures first," she said with a charming smile. "I have talked enough."

"There's plenty of time. After all we will have your company for the next two weeks, I think everyone here would very much like to hear more about your journey and adventures," Chakotay argued equally pleasantly.

"I would very much like to know more about Seven of Nine and your children," Neelix agreed enthusiastically.

Janeway smiled warmly at the small Talaxian but there was now a sadness in her eyes.

"It has been probably the happiest time of my whole life but I shall begin at the beginning. Kraal and Nithqref, I am sure will correct me if I get things wrong."

==Five years earlier==

The Fearless lay in high orbit above the light side of the barren cold planet, a tanned brown rock glowing in the light from its distant star.

Janeway regarded the small dead planet on the view screen.

"It doesn't look very lively."

"On the surface there is nothing. Surface temperatures are 100 degrees below zero. The Alliance headquarters are located in caverns fifty miles beneath the surface and heavily shielded from the curious."

The speaker was a tall, middle-aged, well-built humanoid male of mixed Devore/Brenari origin. Janeway knew a little of his history from her discussions with Nithqref. Dafed had no telepathic abilities but the laws against miscegenation in the Devore Imperium were absolute and his parents were imprisoned as a result of their liaison. Their fates like most other people taken by the Devore were unknown but death could be presumed. Dafed had escaped with a sympathetic Devore uncle and been brought up in a remote part of the Imperium where folk were more interested in your bank balance than your heritage. As a baby, Dafed was adopted by a wealthy Alliance family of the Malinko clan and had found his way in that half world of rebellion, insurgency, terrorism and plain old organised crime. He was now a senior ambassador within the Alliance which was a testimony to his intelligence and his survival instincts.

"We must send a identification signal or they won't send the transporter co-ordinates," he advised. "The safe transport areas are changed daily. Old transport zones are filled with supplies and garbage which can lead to very nasty transporter accidents."

"Do it," said Janeway. She betrayed neither by look nor gesture any of her concern about the upcoming contact. Nithqref and Kraal had briefed her as fully as they could on the shifting political sands of the Alliance but the Borg invasion had destabilised the old structures of command and control. Several major political leaders had died or been assimilated leaving dangerous power vortices within what had been a fairly chaotic structure to begin with and the fact was that no-one on board the Fearless could be sure of what awaited them here. The Alliance was a loose consortium of a few dozen free worlds whose systems of government ranged from democracy to dictatorship and a much larger group of factions that came from worlds occupied by the Devore.

The free worlds had ususally remained free for three reasons. Firstly they were extremely distant from the Devore centres of power; secondly they were unremarkable in terms of resources; and lastly they had not given the Devore any excuse to invade. The last factor meant that the involvement of the free world leaders in the Alliance had to be very circumspect, so in practise the soldiers and active leaders in the Alliance were drawn from the peoples whose worlds had already been occupied and who had little more to lose.

Refugees from the Devore conquests had spread out across the sector in a great diaspora. Living hand to mouth on many of the more lightly occupied worlds or trying to carve out an existence on much harsher formerly unoccupied planets, these refugees provided the backbone of the Alliance recruitment. They survived because the area of space occupied by the Devore Imperium was enormous and hard to control even for the mighty Deveore adminstration and the actual status of the occupied worlds varied enormously. Some worlds were completely under Devore control with big local Devore administrations and regiments of soldiers; many more planets were garrisoned by the Devore but the local adminstration was carried out by the native population under the control of a Devore military governor; an even larger number had notional autonomy as long as they paid their taxes. Devore representation on this latter group of worlds was restricted to 'ambassadors' who reported any signs of rebellion or resistance to Devore rule. If the situation on any planet got too out of hand the Devore would send in their 'inspectors' to crush any resistance. Nonetheless many illegal and stateless people were able survive and even prosper on these worlds. Additionally, many planets and moons off the 'beaten track' were uninhabited and could be used as bases by the Alliance. Some of these bases, like the one that the Fearless was orbiting, lay quite close to Devore occupied space and consequently had to be extremely well hidden. A casual scan wouldn't see anything and a more detailed look would probably only suggest wildcat mining. There were hundreds of thousands of such small operations constantly shifting between planets, moons and asteroids and the Devore could not investigate more than a small percentage.

A beep from the communication sensor indicated that Dafed had received a reply from the Alliance base.

"They want to board us," reported Seven.

"Not unreasonable," Dafed confirmed.

"Signal back that we will accept a welcoming committee," Janeway ordered.

"They will be very suspicious," said a dark skinned, softly featured woman standing next to Dafed.

Ertha was another very senior Alliance ambassador. She came from H'ronor, a world now destroyed by the Borg and even to the two humans it was clear that this dignified old woman was hanging onto her composure by a thread. She moved as though a great force opposed her and every step taken and every word uttered was a painful labour.

"Hopefully they will accept your word and Dafed's that we are genuine," Janeway responded reassuringly.

Ertha gazed at Janeway and her dark eyes seemed to allow no light to escape as though her sadness would swallow everything.

"In these times I would not hope."

Janeway had to put aside her sense of compassion as seconds later, six armed persons materialised on the bridge. They were all from the same species of weedy rattish beings. Kraal grunted disapprovingly and Seven of Nine's eyes narrowed as she recognised them as like the beings who had betrayed her to the Devore.

"What are these Cantori scum here for?" Kraal growled at no-one in particular. One of the Cantori stepped forward, waving his weapon dangerously at Kraal who didn't blink or move.

"Shut it!" yelled the boarder staring up at the huge Parath who towered at least four feet above him. "Parath pig. Everyone will drop their weapons and return with us."

"Who is everyone?" enquired Janeway.

"Everyone on the ship," yelled the apparent leader turning his attention from Kraal. There was a touch of relief in his voice as he took in the less intimidating physical presence of Captain Janeway.

"All of us! Are you sure?" asked Janeway coolly. She wasn't impressed by the boarding party. If this was the best the Alliance could field then Ertha was correct and there was little hope. However now was not the time for critical appraisal. "There are about ninety people in our crew and we have some two hundred Devore personnel and marines under guard in the hold. We can't just leave them here alone. We have only just captured this ship - it would be a shame to hand it back - and of course the Devore would destroy your base which wouldn't make your commander happy."

"Someone has to stay here and fly the ship" added Arrin the pilot, grinning. "You boys don't look space-worthy to me."

The boarding party gaped stupidly at the assortment of creatures around them and then at each other. It was obvious that they didn't know what to do. There was some hurried scuffling and muttering together before their leader mumbled into his communicator.

"Er Colonel. It's me. Umm it's a little more complicated up here than we was told. There are quite a few more than we thought...like a hundred or so of the buggers and they claim to have a couple of hundred Devore prisoners." He hesitated looking around and then said "and Colonel...some of them look like they might be with that new lot, the Borg." After a few seconds listening to his commander the Cantori escort snapped off the communicator and spoke with more authority. "The boss says you are to kill the prisoners and your leaders will accompany us to the surface to be interrogated by the representatives of the mighty Remo."

"No," said Janeway firmly. "We are not killing anyone and if your commander wants to meet me then he will have to come up here first." Responding to internal prompting from Nithqref, Janeway then said "If you don't agree, we will take this ship to the headquarters of the Helfi and see if they are interested in defeating the Borg and the Devore Imperium. And why are clan Remo deployed in this base. Where are the council of the Alliance?"

"We are providing security for the council. You have to be cleared before you can meet anyone important..."

"We. Are. Important," said Dafed emphatically and stepped foward. "I am Ambassador Dafed and this is Ambassador Ertha. We have vital information and we must speak with the Council soon. Instruct your commander to arrange an immediate audience. If anyone wishes to verify our identity before we disembark then would they please send a security officer with the appropriate clearance. You may go."

Before the Cantori had a chance to argue the six rattish beings found themselves back on their base transport-pad in front of a rather irritated looking colonel.

Back on the Fearless, Janeway smiled at Seven. "Nicely done Seven."

"This vessel has a superior transport technology Kathryn. You should congratulate its designer. The sensors locked on to the source co-ordinates when they transported aboard."

"Next time they will send someone senior," Dafed announced and smiled tiredly. "They would not risk anyone valuable the first time with an unknown force such as this ship."

He was right. Ten minutes later the colonel in charge of base defences beamed aboard and after a few minutes of introduction he politely requested that the two ambassadors and Captain Janeway should accompany him back to the surface.

"We should go," said Janeway impatiently as soon as the colonel had withdrawn from the bridge.

"Kathryn do you not think we should leave this to Nithqref," Seven suggested quietly.

Janeway frowned and said slightly petulantly, not liking the idea of being sidelined, "No. I want to meet them myself. I will go with our ambassadors."

"I was not aware of being your ambassador Captain Janeway," said Ertha slowly with a hint of the steel she must once have possessed.

Janeway knew that she needed Ertha and Dafed's support if she was to get any hearing. She stepped forward to take one of the older woman's hands. Ertha was clearly unused to such familiariy and pulled away slightly but Janeway kept a firm hold of her hand. Janeway ignored Nithqref's urgent warning as she lifted their joined hands so that everyone present could see the faint tracery of metal lines threading away from the small implants. A few glanced at their own marks and scars as Janeway declared "If I seem presumptuous ambassador then I apologise but all of us here are now of a brotherhood, a brotherhood which we did not seek but which has chosen us. We are going to change history together ambassador. There are worlds to save and civilisations to rebuild and this ship and this crew will be the start."

After a moment of silence Kraal thrust his fist in the air. "The Alliance and Janeway."

A second later the rest of those present, apart from the more dignified Ertha and Nithqref, duplicated his gesture and cry. Janeway acknowledged the salute. She was getting the hang of this world. Ertha nodded at the captain and the old lady's body seemed to straighten a little as though losing some of her burdens. She took her place next to Janeway and Dafed moved to also stand beside the human.

"I will go with you," stated Seven unexpectedly.

"Not this time Seven. I need you to stay with the Fearless - but if anything happens I'm relying on you to get me out of trouble," Janeway responded with a disarming grin successfully not giving in to her irritation.

Seven was not disarmed.

"I will not comply."

Janeway did not hide her shock well. She turned to her companions who were variously amused or disapproving. Kraal was snickering openly.

"If we may have a moment please," Janeway said calmly though her face betrayed her irritation. Seven followed Janeway into the adjacent briefing room. When the door slid shut Seven spoke immediately.

"I will not change my mind Kathryn. I will go with you."

"Seven, nothing is going to happen to me down there. These people will be falling over themselves to get our help. There is nothing to worry about."

"In that case there is no reason for me not to accompany you. Surely they will be 'falling over themselves' regardless and I can ensure no harm comes to you."

Janeway fell back on being captain. "Seven I am not asking you, I am giving you an order."

This tactic was worse than useless which Janeway realised almost before she finished speaking. Seven raised her eyepiece and pronounced haughtily.

"Kathryn, you are not captain here."

"I may not be captain Seven..." Janeway stepped closer and lightly held onto Seven's elbows. She looked steadily into the Borg's blue eyes, "...but do this for me. I need you to follow my orders at least in public."


"Because you're right. I'm not really the captain and because of that I cannot afford to be diverted, nor to show weakness. There is nothing holding the allegiance of this crew except the perception that I am the leader on this ship - they have accepted me as 'The Captain'. Without that acceptance, you and I have no protection and I would have no power to keep you safe."

Seven eyes were troubled. "Does the same need not apply to me, to keep you safe. I cannot endure losing you again Kathryn. I could not function."

"Nothing will happen I promise."

"You cannot promise that."

"You must trust my judgement Seven, that I will do the best I can to keep us both safe. We have to win these peoples' trust both here on Fearless and in the Alliance at large. If they betray our trust then you have my permission to come in all guns blazing to save me. Is that a deal?"

Seven considered the offer. "It will suffice but if the circumstances dictate I will stop at nothing Kathryn."

"That is the most comforting thing I have heard in weeks." Janeway smiled warmly up at her Borg and was more than a little surprised to find herself suddenly pinned against the wall of the briefing room to say goodbye.

"Damn you learn fast," Janeway gasped when she was able, grateful for Seven's strong arms supporting her as she was pretty certain her legs would not be any use at all.

"I do not want you to forget to be careful so I must remind you of what you might lose."

"Lesson learned Seven. Now I don't want to go..."

"...but you must."

A few more heated seconds and Seven released her captain. Janeway straightened her clothing and led the way back to the bridge to rejoin the landing party. A few very amused and curious faces and an abrupt silence greeted them, suggesting that there had been some quickly halted discussion.

"Whipped!" Kraal coughed loudly to disguise his insult.

Janeway scowled at him but was unable to reply as Seven stuck to their bargain and the hum of the transporter removed Janeway and the two ambassadors from the bridge.

Janeway re-materialised to see the same rag-tag group of Cantori guards aiming disruptors at them. Several other persons were standing behind them. Janeway stepped forward and raised her hand peaceably but the Cantori started yelling and screaming.

'Not again. Seven will never let me forget this,' was Kathryn's last thought as the blast of a disruptor caught her in the chest.

==A prison cell==

When Janeway woke up lying on her side on some kind of bed, she drew a shuddering breath and groaned at the pain. After a few moments of just lying breathing, trying not to make any noise she carefully opened her eyes, and without moving, tried to make out where she was.

'Standard issue cell,' she concluded taking in the small empty room, gray walls, low ceiling, single light and forcefield emitters framing the space where a fourth wall should be. 'I'm alive then.'

"You are awake," stated a possibly female voice.

"That depends on who is asking," Janeway replied.

"I am your interrogator."

Janeway could just make out a shadow standing beyond the force-field, behind a bright light that effectively prevented her from seeing the features of the speaker.

"Where are Dafed and Ertha?"

"Not your concern. Are you Borg?"

"No. Where have you taken them?"

"You are a spy of the Devore or a Borg spy."

"Are those my only choices?"

"Your ship has been captured and all your crew killed or taken for questioning. Several have confessed to being spies. You will confess also."

Janeway did not react, hiding the fear that clutched at her as she remembered the words of one of her trainers from Starfleet Academy. 'Torturers will lie to you. They want you to believe there is no hope. Believe nothing they say.'

The ex-Starfleet captain replied strongly "We are not spies. We captured a Devore ship and came here to help the Alliance."

"The ship is not Devore in design and you bear Borg markings. You are lying. You are Borg or an agent of the Borg."

"The Borg don't use agents. Our ship is a Farini design, built for the Devore. It is a prototype...as am I. The Devore are experimenting with new weapons and new armour for their soldiers to fight the Borg. We escaped from a Devore experiment - I and the rest of the escaped prisoners on the my ship are the experiment. Let me speak to your council - we can use this technology to help you defeat the Borg."

"You will speak to no-one except me until you have confessed to being a spy and fully revealed all relevant information. Then you will be tried and executed."

"Not much reason to confess then is there?"

Her interrogator did not reply. Moments later Janeway had the strangest sensation as though a thought had flittered through her mind but she couldn't quite catch it, like a tune you can almost remember but can't quite hear. Then she realised what it was - the interrogator was probing her mind but trying not to be noticed. Remembering what Nithqref had taught her, Janeway relaxed and allowed the foreign contact although part of her wanted to resist the subtle invasion. It would speed things up, she mused grimly though the delicate presence creeping through her mind, almost below the level of consciousness, was akin to the sensation of insects crawling on her skin.

Her interrogator sniggered. "That thought is most unpleasant," she said aloud. Several long uncomfortable minutes passed before there was a little gasp and then a stronger unfamiliar curse.

"You are telling the truth." The interrogator sounded almost shocked.

Janeway did not bother to speak, assuming that the telepath would know what she was thinking anyway. The telepath's next words confirmed this belief.

"I apologise for your treatment but we have to be careful initially. Some Devore are specially conditioned to resist telepathic contact. The element of fear makes it easier to enter the subject's mind. You have to admit Captain that your story was a little hard to swallow."

"When can I meet the council?"

"I will have to take this to my commander and it will be his decision."

"Not acceptable! Surely you can see that this is vital information. There's no time to lose."

"Captain Janeway you should understand one thing about the Alliance - it is like a very large rambling mansion with many hundreds of rooms. Not all the rooms have connecting doorways and sometimes you must go the long way to pass from one room to another."

Then her interrogator was gone, silently leaving her mind and the room.

"I don't believe this," Janeway fumed aloud to the unyielding grey prison walls.

For the next two hours Janeway complained in vain. Occasionally she heard footsteps and voices but her calls to be heard were ignored. She was dozing fitfully on the spartan prison bed when a disturbance brought her to complete consciousness. A loud familiar voice was berating someone. Janeway strained to hear the words.

"Are you an imbecile? Does the Alliance now depend on fools and half-wits for guarding prisoners? This borg prisoner is an absolute priority and you must find room for her now! There will be no excuses at your court-martial."

After a short discussion, in which the unfortunate jailor had to hear his mental health, maturity and competence unfavourably compared to various specimens of invertebrate as well as threats to his future career and child-bearing capabilities, Janeway heard a hiss, probably the sound of a force-field deactivating, then a thud and a yelp.

Kraal's familiar voice then said with booming cheerfulness "Very sorry old chap but you do remind me of a particularly nasty crab my Aunt cooked up and that's a little more nostalgia than I can stand."

Seconds later Seven of Nine was standing at the entrance to Janeway's cell. She took one hard look at the captain still seated on her bed apparently seeking an explanation. Janeway shrugged resignedly. Before Janeway could say anything Seven had jammed her assimilation tubules into the control panel and the force-field went down. She covered the distance to Janeway in two strides and raised the captain from the bed, kissing her thoroughly. After a moment the ex-drone relented.

"We are here to rescue you however blazing guns were unnnecessary. We used covert methods," she stated with a touch of smugness.

"So I see. Thank you," Janeway gasped breathlessly, "but we are not yet out of here."

Seven seemed unconcerned by this and Janeway again found herself unable to speak.

"Come-on ladies," growled Kraal, "and can you desist from such public displays of affection until after I have had my breakfast."

Janeway and Seven followed Kraal out of the cell and along a row of similar cells until they passed the unconscious jailor who did look remarkably like a crab.

"Is everyone safe? Dafed and Ertha?"

"Everyone is in an acceptable condition. The only exception was you. The representatives of the Remo clan would not disclose your whereabouts even to the Alliance council."

"Why me?"

Seven looked at her and Janeway was surprised to see the Borg's expression was almost amused.

"Apparently you are unique and worth a substantial ransom plus several political concessions."

"They must have been disappointed then."

"I was impressed by their perceptiveness."

"Very funny Seven."

Kraal snorted. "The truly amusing part was that some people actually did think your skinny ass was worth paying for. Dafed had already raised the cash from another clan leader who can't wait to meet you."

"So why the rescue?"

Kraal counted on his fingers: "We didn't think you would be too pleased to be purchased; being indebted to a particular clan might be a problem and who's to say that the new lot wouldn't auction you off again; we have a war to fight and Nithqref thinks you might be of some use; the Remo might not have stuck to the deal even if they got everything they asked for, and they asked for a lot, and finally Seven decided that she was going to get you herself with or without our help."

Janeway felt her eyes mist. She took Seven's hand ignoring Kraal's disapproving glare.

"I don't deserve you Seven of Nine."

"I believe we have covered that in previous discussions. That is a false assertion Kathryn which I do not think you truly believe."

"Maybe but I love you and nothing makes me happier than knowing that despite my faults you seem to love me too."

Kraal was now making gagging gestures.

"I think that Kraal wishes to leave Kathryn," said Seven but the ex-drone still took her captain back in her arms again. Kraal groaned.

"Ladies we really need to escape now."

The two women drew apart and followed the grumbling Parath away from the detention area. Minutes later Kraal was hailing the Fearless.

"We have her. Tell the Helfi they can save their paltry ransom."

"The council of the Alliance want to meet Janeway now. Ertha has arranged a safe conduct and we will beam you directly to the council chamber."

Kraal looked to Janeway for confirmation and she nodded her agreement. After the tranport had completed Janeway at last found herself standing in front of the Council of the Alliance.

==Voyager five years later==

Kraal broke into the Marshal's narrative at this point.

"We realised that something had happened to Kathryn within a few minutes of the transport. The Remo clan are some of the most self-serving and dishonest scum in the entire alliance and one of them took it on himself to demand a ransom almost before Janeway's molecules had left The Fearless. No doubt he wanted to be paid ahead of his fellows." Kraal snorted disapprovingly. "The Remo are a disgrace but this one was a greedy fool and made a bigger mistake than usual. He contacted us twice and the second time Seven of Nine latched onto him and pulled him aboard The Fearless where he was interrogated by old Nithqref there."

"It didn't take us above an hour to track down where they were holding her and the only real problem I had was preventing Seven of Nine from disembowelling the little toe-rag."

"Seven is very protective," Janeway said sadly. "She has never let me down."

==Five years earlier==

"Welcome Janeway," said a tall unearthly beautiful woman who extended her hand gracefully towards the human. Janeway wasn't sure if she was meant to take it or kiss it. The woman smiled brilliantly.

"I have been waiting for this moment," the woman continued, "and if not for the intervention of your friends I was prepared to pay a substantial fee however perhaps this is for the best. You are rather shorter and less impressive than I imagined." Janeway withdrew her own hand sharply. Sniggers and gasps from onlookers did not improve the captain's mood.

The alien woman grinned cheekily obviously not in the least concerned about Janeway's reaction. "Nithqref made you sound like a super being. But I should introduce myself first before I am rude. I am..."

"...Maefen, leader of the Helfi and the current president of the council," Janeway interrupted and held out her hand again with an almost friendly smile, still irritated but determined to show that she was not ignorant. "I am sorry to disappoint such an important representative of her clan."

Maefen smiled and briefly brushed her fingers against Janeway's. "You are not responsible for your stature. I must..." The alien woman's voice trailed off as her gaze fell on Seven of Nine and whatever she had being going to say was forgotten as she looked the former Borg up and down, her eyes running shamelessly over the contours of Seven's body.

"Who are you?" breathed Maefen. Janeway scowled furiously. The Captain really did not like this woman.

"I am Seven of Nine, formerly of the Borg Collective" the ex-drone replied unhesitatingly as she raise her eyepiece expressing her curiosity at the intensity of the stare. There were several gasps from the assembled council members and a few stepped back defensively, their hands going to their weapons. Maefen was surprised too and could not quite hide it.

"I..I had not quite realised that the Borg could be so attractive."

"My physical appearance has reverted to my original human form. I retain little of the outward appearance of being Borg, though unclothed it is…"

"Thank you Seven," Janeway interrupted before Seven could begin describing her unclothed form. "Seven was a valued member of my former crew and is a good friend. She has severed her link to the collective. She is no longer a Borg."

Janeway was aware of both Seven and Kraal starting to speak and having no wish to be contradicted about any of her statements she hurried on. "I am extremely anxious to know about the current status of the war. I believe we can help you." Maefen was still staring at Seven in a way that grated on Janeway's last nerve. "The current status of the war?" she prompted again while trying to resist the impulse to punch out the glamorous alien.

Maefen seemed to hear her at last. She stared down at Janeway from her intimidating height. "The war goes badly," she admitted. "The Borg are overwhelming the sector though they are mainly concentrating on the Devore systems at present but we have lost many worlds too. We will be able to gather our forces while the Devore are trying to defend their main systems. The Borg fleet is heading for Devore Prime where most of the Devore fleet is now waiting. With luck the Devore will weaken the Borg sufficiently and we will be able…"

Janeway shook her head. "It will not be enough, if the Devore with all their resources and military might cannot manage it, the Alliance cannot defeat the Borg alone. And with every victory the Borg grow stronger as they acquire more drones, ships and resources."

"So how or perhaps more importantly why are you going to help us? Perhaps you enjoy lost causes. Or perhaps you have a price."

"I want to stop the Borg. The Fearless is just one ship and although we have technology that might defeat the Borg we need to implement on it on a very wide scale. I cannot do this alone nor with just the help of the Alliance."

Maefen stiffened. "What are you trying to say?"

"You must help the Devore," said Janeway.

"You are mad!" Maefen's deep blue eyes darkened angrily.

"It is the only hope. The Devore are the only people with the resources to defeat the Borg. You need them and they need you or more specifically they need the Fearless and the crew of the Fearless. With our technology and the combined forces of the Alliance and the Devore, we might be able to win."

Maefen laughed but she was still angered. "You are certainly arrogant little one and presumptuous. However you do not understand the situation. Our many peoples will not join the Devore under any circumstances. The Borg give us our chance for freedom from centuries of oppression. At worst we will simply be replacing one oppressor with another."

"No. You don't understand the Borg. They do not oppress or subjugate peoples, they assimilate entire species and remove them from the Universe. Your people would not exist as subjects or slaves, they would become Borg. All of them. There is no resistance to this."

"What about your friend here, Seven of Nine. She has escaped the Borg."

"I did not choose to escape," Seven interrupted. "Captain Janeway liberated me by force."

"She took you against your will."

"I had no will," Seven explained starkly. "Just the will of the collective. I could not decide to escape any more than your hand can decide to leave your body."

Janeway decided not to argue any further. "Do you know of any individual Borg cubes in this area that we can use to demonstrate what the Alliance can offer to the Devore. Even a small defeat might slow the Borg down and give us time to negotiate with the Devore."

Maefen was obviously reconsidering her view of the human though whether favourably, Janeway could not tell. She was watching Janeway with the fascination that you might show when confronted with an exotic, if repellent, insect. A long moment stretched out

"Bring up the tactical display," she said suddenly. A minion standing at a command console swept his hands over the controls and a very pretty three dimensional graphic showing about forty star systems expanded in the centre of the room like a firework exploding in slow motion. Maefen led the way towards the display. "We are the red dot at the centre. The green dots are the last reported location of Devore ships while the blue represent Borg vessels. The arrows represent their vectors of movement."

"How recent is your information?"

"Between two and six hours. Our movement maps are a mixture of direct observation and information stolen by our spies and then the information is extrapolated until new information is received."

Janeway considered the display. A large group of blue dots was heading away from the red dot towards a large group of green dots. There was one other group of green dots and blue dots in close proximity and then a small sprinkling of dots at a variety of locations. She considered the single blue dot closest to the red dot, separated by a large cloud of stars.

"Can we look closer at that one," she asked, pointing. The technician nodded and the display shifted to zoom in on the lone blue dot. A distinctive triple star could be seen . Kraal gasped and swore.

"What is it?" Janeway asked.

"That Borg ship is closing on my home world which is unfortunately also a major Devore military stronghold. There are several hundred million Parath on that planet and many millions of Devore. The Borg ship will be there in less than one day. Where are those lily-livered defenders?"

As if to answer his distress two green dots appeared near the triple stars.

"How many hours travel from here?" Janeway asked, a sudden sense of urgent and manifest destiny was overtaking her as she watched the stuttering blue dot not apparently moving at all in the representation of the vast spaces of the Devore empire although she knew in reality the cube was moving at many times the speed of light.

A white line appeared, tracing a route from the Alliance HQ to the triple star. Kraal groaned.

"Nearly five days at warp eight, even in the Fearless we would not catch them."

"Why could we not take the more direct route?" Seven asked pointing at the cloud of stars.

"That is the Haroun nebula."

"Yes I realise it is a nebula."

"It is not a nebula, it is the Haroun nebula," Maefen corrected. "It has only been traversed once successfully in a hundred years. Many ships have been lost there."

"How was the one successful?" asked Seven.

"No one knows. It was a prison transport ship that had been attacked and gone off course through the nebula. The crew were in stasis and the instruments were too badly damaged to reveal what had happened."

"Could we reach the Parath home world in time if we took that route?"

"Technically yes but actually no because as I have just told you no-one survives the nebula." Maefen was impatient with her guests.

Kraal took in Janeway's set mouth and wrinkled brow as she concentrated on the tactical display. "Kathryn you cannot be serious. It would be suicide."

"I agree with your friend," said Maefen. "We would be wasting a valuable resource even attempting a traverse."

"I am something of an expert in nebulas, badlands and uncross-able wastes. Voyager attempted several traverses which we were told were impossible." Janeway looked up from her study and smirked. "We can do this. I have seen something exactly like this before." She took in the varying degrees of disbelief, anger, resentment and fear that was drawn on the many faces looking at her.

Seven of Nine was studying the detailed astrometric data about the nebula that the efficient technician had displayed. "A traverse is feasible," she said bluntly and looked into Janeway's eyes without a trace of fear or doubt. "Kathryn will succeed." Janeway felt her heart swell. Seven believed in her and Seven loved her and with that knowledge Janeway could do anything. Janeway turned back to face Maefen with confidence.

"This is our chance to make a difference: to give both the Borg and the Devore pause, to turn the tide of the war and we can save Kraal's home world too. Is that not worth some risk?"

Maefen shook her head, "if you wish to lose your life Captain then go and find your way across that nebula but we cannot risk a single warship including yours."

Janeway raised an eyebrow. "I am not asking you to risk a single warship. We would need three to engage a Borg cube."

"You are both insane and impertinent! I have no time for this nonsense now. I will decide your fate later and if you can serve any useful purpose though at the moment I can see none. In the meantime you are not permitted to leave this base. Now leave before I have you all imprisoned."

"I guess we know who is small in stature now," sneered Kraal drawing a large and ornate broad-sword. Janeway's people had already flanked their leader, silently directed by Nithqref who stood either side of Janeway and Seven.

Ertha, the elderly H'ronor ambassador who had been standing off to one side now moved to intervene and no-one attempted to stop her or interrupt and for the first time there was respect and deference in Maefen's posture. She even bowed a little to the old lady.

Ertha was angry. Her usually dark eyes glowed like red coals against the black skin of her face. She did not pull her punches. "You worthless child. We are losing everything. You have seen the reports: whole planets, species and cultures not merely decimated as is the practice of the Devore but lost wholly and completely without hope of survival. You are afraid to risk three ships. Maybe you hope that if you hoard every ship that perhaps you can protect your own pathetic and seedy little empire and count everyone else well lost. Maybe you think you can bargain just as the Alliance has bargained for years. Give away a little here, a little there. Do you think the Borg are like you or like the Devore? Cutting deals, making accommodations, trading with the devil, surviving on expediency? I wish I had died with my race rather than witness our final defeat at the bidding of our own cowardice."

"Ertha, you know I respect you but…"

"If you respect me then trust me. I knew your parents Maefen and neither would have hesitated to try and save that world. It may be that we will not succeed but there is no alternative but to try. Many Parath families live in slavery because many sons and daughters have taken up our cause despite knowing what will happen to their families. You must not reward their suffering with forgetting them at the time of greatest need because you would not risk three ships!"

Janeway kept her face immobile despite her desire to grin at Maefen's discomfort and humiliation. Kraal was showing no such restraint and his smirk near split his face in two.

Maefen knew she had lost but how to concede without all loss of face remained. "I will consult with my colleagues in private," she said quietly. "You will have our decision in one hour. In the meantime I suggest you prepare for action in case we decide to attempt the rescue."

==Five years later==

Kraal was grinning again at the memory.

"It was splendid. That woman had no choice but to concede even if she did pretend to consult with her colleagues. It was well known that her colleagues on the council did exactly as Maefen said at all times."

"I take it," said Chakotay, "that the crossing of the nebula was a success."

Nithqref inclined both heads. "Thanks to Seven and Arrin our pilot although the remembrance of Arrin's face is still to be treasured when Seven explained to her exactly how she would pilot a ship at high warp speed, through a star field and ion storms, without sensors and with most of the crew in stasis, towing two other ships with a tractor beam."

"And the battle with the Borg?"

"Was magnificent!" crowed Kraal. "I have never enjoyed anything more including my wedding night. Though that may be because I do not remember my wedding night. Those poor little Borg didn't know what had hit them. That was the first time they had a taste of their own medicine. We boarded their cube while our sister ships distracted them. We took them apart. Literally. We even captured the cube. The Devore lost a ship but that was before we arrived."

"It was interesting and very effective," Nithqref commented more restrainedly. "Kathryn used the Devore Controller Goff to negotiate with the Devore commander and handed over all the Devore prisoners as a gesture of goodwill which neither the Alliance nor the Devore could quite understand. But Goff knew a good thing when he saw it and he was quite a loyal ally to us after that. A truce followed between the Devore and the Alliance. While the Devore and the Alliance negotiated and rebuilt their forces using the technology we had obtained,the Fearless and her squadron continued to mop up small Borg forces and it was enough to make the Borg hesitate. When the Borg came back the Devore and Alliance legions took them apart. We didn't lose a single ship. And that was the end of the first Borg war."

"Did the Alliance and the Devore keep their truce after the Borg war."

"On and off. The war had weakened the Devore and they did not have the political will to take back Alliance gains. Kraal's home planet and several others came back under Alliance control and remained with them. Also many of the free worlds openly joined the Alliance after the war. The Alliance fleet was hugely strengthened by the large number of Borg cubes we captured and the Farini also managed to get over their hatred of Janeway at least to the extent of equipping the Alliance with more vessels like the Fearless.

"What happened to the Farini," Chakotay enquired, curious about the fate of the designer of the Fearless, Morvius and his daughter Atara.

Janeway avoided his gaze for a moment. "I'm afraid it did not end well but I must attend a meeting on the Revenge in twenty minutes so that story will have to wait for another day Captain." She at last met his eye and her grey eyes were bleaker than moorland in winter. "Morvius betrayed me once too often."


( categories: Janeway/Seven )
Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 10/01/2009 - 23:18.

Thank you for persevering. Part 16 was definitely worth the wait. I was hoping the new year would bring a new segment and I was so pleasantly surprised to find it.


halfofone's picture
Submitted by halfofone on Sun, 11/01/2009 - 08:35.

Yeah I suppose it is perseverance but no more than all the kind readers such as yourself who have stuck with it. Thanks for commenting. Part 17 is rolling along and is more romantic, well as romantic as I get anyway.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 03/01/2009 - 11:21.


halfofone's picture
Submitted by halfofone on Sat, 03/01/2009 - 14:27.

Glad you like it and thanks for the encouragement. I am beavering away on part 17.