AN: special thanks to Romanov16 for finding the awesome quote below and generally being awesome. Check her stuff out and tell her, I sent you. She makes great fan fiction hand helped me though a very difficult week.
And thanks also goes to Linkswisdom over on DA, he was also a great help.
I feel really bad that I wasted both of their time as I ended up going in a different direction for the section of this fan fiction that I had the most difficulty with.
I do not own star trek, and even if I did I wouldn't know what to do with it other than shout at it. I own nothing save for my on delusions.
Conflicting beings and means
'If the seeds of the black earth can turn into such beautiful roses, what might the heart of man became in its long journey towards the Stars?' Chesterton
Chakotay breathed in and out several times as the doors of the turbo lift he just left, closed behind him with a hiss as he tried to compose himself. After more than an hour he was finally approaching sick bay and a step closer to fulfilling the promise he had made to Seven of Nine in the holo deck. However now at the threshold of seeing that promise completes at being summoned to Sick bay, by the former drone herself so they could move forward he found his stride lacking. Each step welt if he was dragging around a ball and chain. Anxiety, nipping at his heels likes a small unpleasant dog.
He would have loved to blame it on the length of the day but he couldn't.
He could have conceived himself that it was guilt over his inaction was what caused his stride to waver and while he had yet to really address that newly added chip to his shoulder and no doubt it played its part. Chakotay knew why he hesitated; he knew why the fist sized tan leather bag which daggled from a small cloth string, he held between his thumb and forefinger. Felt like it weighed more than they had any right to. He just didn't want to admit to it.
He let out a long troubled sigh 'When did I become such a coward?' he wondered taking a moment to lean against a nearby wall.
Not for the first time since agreeing to Seven of Nine's unusual request to use his Akoonha. He couldn't help but wonder if this wasn't one huge mistake, he had being tempted to call the whole thing of or make of some excuse that would make the former drone give up on her plan but like every time the troubling thought bubbled up to the surface, he felt a gulf of guilt and shame open up with in him.
He had done enough today to compromise his morals, or rather he hadn't don't enough to prevent his morals from being found rather wanting and he wasn't going to do let it happen again if he could help it. Gritting his teeth he took a step and then another then one more, slowly steady he begin walking again.
Anxiety still fallowed only few strides behind him like some dark twin, waiting for a moment of weakness to pounce.
The monotony of the corroder didn't help his dower mood, the drape grey walls on either side of him which where only occasionally broken up by sealed entryways to the Jefferies tubes, vents and wall consoles as well as a scant few directional signs indicating the direction of other destinations to be found on this deck. The hallways dark blue carpeting and overly bright over head lighting made the hall look like it went on forever.
Chakotay let out a bitter humourless Lough as he felt a strange kind of ennui for his old Maquis ship the Val jean. At least the dark, cramped confines of his long lost ship would have fit the dark mood that had settled about him like a funeral shroud; if not reflected the actions the Voyager crew had taken.
Or in his case inaction, he had done very little to rain in Kathryn's impulsive drive to destroy the Omega practical. Not that he didn't think it wasn't dangerous, it most certainly was. It was possibly the most dangerous threat the galaxy at large had ever faced since project Genesis or the doomsday weapon that Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise faced nearly a generation ago.
Now though after the adrenalin had past, while he still thought the destruction of Omega was ultimately necessary, the means and actions they used to achieve their ends left Chakotay feeling ill at ease.
A dyeing alien civilisation had harnessed Omega in the hope that it would save their people. Omega was their only hope and Voyager had taken it from them and they hadn't even had to common courtesy to leave something behind that could help, recycling tech, power systems even warp technology. They could have left anything, that could at the very least buy the aliens sometime but no, Voyager had done what it had set out to do and once that dark deed was finished they had run with their tail between their legs.
'Spirits dame it' Chakotay mentally cursed as he punched a nearby wall, pain lanced up his arm and into his shoulder, he ended up hurting his hand far more than the unyielding metal of the wall. Kathryn had gone so far as to proclaim that while Omega was a threat that the prime directive was null in void. 'Why did none of us, take that opportunity to simply trade some of our own Technology in exchange for Omega or at least give them something anything that could help?' Chakotay shook his head wistfully.
"Hindsight is twenty, twenty" He murmured darkly, reflexively rolling his shoulders as he cast his mind back to his last shift on the bridge, the pain in his hand fading to a dull ache as he did so. It had being mostly quite as the Voyager picked up speed and once again and continued on its journey as if the ship itself wanted to put the whole shameful affair behind it as much as the crew had. There had being some inane batter between Tom and Harry but it seemed as even those light hearted men couldn't to lighten the mood or seemed to want to. Even Tuvok was noticeable grim perhaps even shaken by what they done, which said a lot for the normally reserved Vulcan. In the end there was very little to occupy his mind as time had ticked away to the end of his shift.
A shift he was supposed to share with Kathryn but she never dined to show up, perhaps the captain had felt as much guilt as he did. Perhaps she also wished they had done more now the smoke was clear but it was too late. Voyager had left behind nothing in its wake but a people doomed to fade away as their world burned around them and their resident former Borg, the young troubled women that Kathryn had put so much time and effort in saving was left with more questions than answerers as a new door had being opened up for her only for it to slam into her face.
He grimaced as a dark thought he had being trying to suppress, reared its ugly head. 'Perhaps Kathryn hadn't considered any of this? Maybe Kathryn feels justified in her actions' Chakotay shook his head, he knew her better than that but still he couldn't blame her if she choice to justify their actions today for the greater good.
"The greater good" He spat the words his voice icy. How many times and how many people had used that excuse. Though maybe, maybe just this once those three words that had course more harm than any other possible combination had throughout history where right, just this once.
No there was no justification.
Just hard choices
The scope of everything, the fate of a world versus the fate of every world, every space fairing people be they good or evil was too big to wrap him to wrap his head around.
Maybe if he and Kathryn had hashed things out as they normally would after having to make so many hard choices. Then maybe these dark thoughts that buzzed around his head like flies wouldn't have found manna from heaven on which to feed and multiply. He considered for a moment, that it may have being better if he had sought Kathryn out instead of Seven. Just so that he could knew for sure he wasn't alone with these thoughts but he hadn't.
He had checked in with the one person on board he tried his best to avoid whenever possible. Now he of all people had to pick up the pieces, it was his people spirits the former drone, was interested in. If only to try and seek the answers she had being denied.
He shook his head ruefully "I've come this far and I've promises to keep" Chakotay murmured under his breath with grim finality. After everything he had failed to do today he couldn't fail in this too. While he was reluctant to allow Seven actress to his Akoonha and through it the realm of his people spirits not to mention other far more legitimate concerns he couldn't go back on his word.
He cast his eyes down to the leather bag that dangled from his hand as the doors of sickbay sensing his approach they slid open.
Chakotay steeped though the open doors and into sick bay and found himself quite glade he wasn't greeted by the Doctor lessening to or practicing opera. Not that he begrudged the Doctors tastes or his interests it was simply since Seven had being kind enough to warn him that the Doctor was planning to 'treat' the crew to a concert in the near future. He had thought it perhaps best that he avoid being inundated with the Doctors enthusiasm, which could be cloying at the best of times if only because of its shear quaintly, if he could help it.
His nose wrinkled a bit as he took in his first breath of Sickbays air, it was a degree or two cooler than the rest of the ship, the faint smell of antiseptic drifted lazily in the air. He never cared much for sickbays, medical centre's or hospitals not after his mother had suddenly collapsed form an aneurism and died shortly after when he was little older than fourteen. These places of healing and wellness always brought back bad memories for him.
Not wishing to waste any more time he swept gaze over that space quickly in search for the former drone. She'd said she would be here when she contacted him almost as soon as he had finished checking in with the department heads after his bridge shift had ended. He still wasn't sure as to how Seven had known the exact moment he had finished his customary rounds, it wasn't like it was an official duty.
Walking the length and breadth of the ship and having a chance to talk to the department heads and most anyone else that he thought might need to hear from their commander or a friend was just something he chose to do after his bridge shit, a ritual of sorts.
However he was fairly sure of one thing he didn't really want to know how she had timed her comm. Call so precisely.
He found her quickly, not that she was ever hard to find. He had long ago noticed Seven had this way about her that drew attention, even when she was a full drone decked out from head to toe in cruel Borg implants and armour and there by all rights should have being as indistinct as any Borg drone. She simply stood out, even when she didn't mean too.
It wasn't as if Seven was some social butterfly or prima donna, that demanded to be in the spot light for the sake of her ego, the opposite was true. As despite the busk edge to her mannerisms and precise manor of speech, she never once in nearly the year after she had come onboard seemed to seek any kind of recognition for her work even the most minor of complements seemed to bemuse the Former drone. He suspected given how awkward she could be around people even those that call her friend. Though those where few and far between. That Seven would wish for nothing more than to disappear into the back ground, that behind her direct and blunt nature she wished for nothing more than to disappear.
However her vary nature and personal straight which even he had to admit was formidable, made that imposable, sometimes if he didn't know better he would say she was shy.
The women herself sat on one of the more advanced mobile bio beds that had being positioned not only towards the back of the bay but rested in the semi circular alcove that usually served as the isolation ward for the sick bay. Through that and its other numerous other functions reminded for the moment on standby, if the harsh dull amber lighting strips build into the back wall of the small space was anything to go by.
Chakotay swallowed as Seven's piercing sky blue eyes settled on him as he entered to room proper and walked past the three more standard bio beds and bank of consoles that emerged from the wall to his immediate right without paying them much mind.
Like with the light offered by the holographic fire place in Leonardo da Vinci's works shop her tall athletic form was haloed by the ambient light of her surroundings. However the light in this case was far less kind to her, the harsh amber glow highlighted her metal eyebrow, the small semi star burst implant just below her left ear and the semi gauntlet like implants that ran along the fingers off her right hand, from tip to wrist crises crossing in several area's as they fallowed the bones and veins of her once human hand and disappeared beneath the sleave of her maroon bio-suit.
While he had gotten as used to Seven's presence and appearance as much as anyone could be expected to especially since he had being exposed to the twisted mindscape of former drones like Riley's and her Co-operative when they had implanted a Nero transceiver in his spine to save his life but also the full exposure he had received when he had linked to Seven to server her from the full might of the Collective to prevent her from assimilating Voyager on the behest of her former masters.
The hash lights of the inactive isolation alcove reflecting of the cruel metal scars that still anchored to her form. Served as a equally hash reminder of the inhuman things that had being done to her and what she had in turn under the will of the Collective done to others. For a moment he could recall every armour plate, every pipe and implant that had covered her from all illumined by the same hash light that bathed her form, now when he had woken in sickbay after they had being both knocked out by the strain of what he had to do to her.
Her mental scream of rage, hate and loss as they had torn her from the only life she had known for over eighteen years lingered in his mind as she slept.
That wasn't even to worst of it, in the last moments of their link, her scream, her accusations of betrayal and lose had come from his mouth as their minds merged. For no more than a heart beat they had neither being Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix zero one or Chakotay. They had being both and neither.
Some day Chakotay hoped that he may even come to terms with that, someday he might even talk to Seven about it, but he doubted either would ever come to pass.
'I'm such a coward' Chakotay berated himself as he approached Seven whom sat calming on the bio bed unaware of his inner struggles. The Doctor sensing his approach scowled and put away his instruments. The holo-graphic doctor was a full foot shorter than him, bolding with a thin layer of receding black hair. He had watery grey eyes and a wrinkled care worn face. With the expectation of the light blue uni-form shirt and jet black pants that were as much a part of the Doctor as his medical programming. He was a near perfect recreation of his creator, one Lewis Zimmerman and according Kathryn whom had met the famously prickly man, claimed the Doctor shared a great deal of his creator's personality.
"Oh your here at last commander" the Doctor stated tersely as he snaped close a medical tri-corder he had being using to scan Seven moments ago. "If you'd please hand over your...meditation device so I can insure it will neither posse of threat Seven's health and will not establish a Nero link between the two of you." The holo-gram asked offering up his free hand.
Chakotay gritted his teeth slightly as he sensed a note of arrogant dismissal in the Doctors tone but didn't wish to call him on it. "Of course Doctor" he retorted as he handed over the small leather bag. He knew he didn't really had the right to summon any amount of righteous indignation towards the Doctors dismissal as when he was a younger man the holograms scepticism would have being his own. The truth of it until about a decade ago he had all but rejected a great deal of his people's beliefs and customs as he tried so hard to be a modern man. It was one of his greatest shames that only after the decimation of his planet of birth and the murder of his farther that he tried to recontact with that part of himself after years of neglect. It wasn't until even more recently he felt that he could really recommit his heritage and faith without feeling like he was not worthy of them. It seemed ironic that only now so late in life and so many years he was finally able to start to live up to the promise he had once made his father and himself. The demands of his heritage and his future did not need to be at odds.
"Just please be careful with my grounding items, some of them are very old and all I have left of home" Chakotay stated as he saw the Doctor pull out a long black feather from the small leather bag, a slightly bewildered look filled the holo-gram's wricked face as he examined the feather.
'Grounding items?' The Doctor mentally echoed dubiously as he rolled his eyes as he careful put the feather back into the bag and retrieved the commander's mediation aid from the small leather bag. He had only seen it once or twice before and like those times he was slightly taken aback by it. The device's was small about the size of a large apple and fit neatly into the palm of his hand, its outer shell was completely smooth he could see no sign of a seam or any indication that the device hadn't being crafted out of a single object.
If he was a less sophisticated individual, he may have thought it to be made out of dark brown marble given the naturalistic shades of brown and amber that ran like veins across its surface. It wasn't offcourse Commanders Chakotay's colony may have limited their usage of stranded federation technologies, or at least the more superfluous ones but they weren't backwards enough to make the technology they did use out of rocks. It was more likely that it was made of some kind of metal or plastic.
The only brake in the otherwise completely smooth suffices where three indentions each one no bigger than a thumb pad. He couldn't call them buttons or switchers in the traditional sense, more like parts of the devices structure that where slightly softer and mutable than others.
"Of course commander, I'll be just a moment as I run a few tests" The doctor told the other man coolly trying to hide his quite annoyance that Seven had approached Chakotay about exploring this avenue of her humanity. Especially without consulting himself first, while he may not in principal approve of religion or spirituality, he understood that Seven may need to understand these aspects if she was to regain her humanity. Still he disliked being this far outside his wheel house.
"That your time Doctor" Chakotay said as he watched the Doctor walk over to the far side of the sick bay and began his work. His addition returned sharply to the former drone as she let out a restrained sigh. Irritation flashed for a moment across her pail features a sharp contest to Seven's resting expression of chilly indifference. It had taken time to learn how to read to former drones moods and expressions they she so rarely allowed them surfaced but he as he they had interactional as sparse as those interactions where he was able to pick up a que here and there. "I take it the doctor has being less than supportive?" Chakotay inquired after he was sure the Doctor wasn't listing in.
Seven titled her head slightly "The Doctor..." she uttered her voice stranded before stopping and collected herself which she did by brushing a few dozen strand's of blonde hair behind her ear where they'd escaped from her hair do, those strands were just not cooperating today. "Has raised concerns and objections about my sudden interest in the using your Akoonha to go on a spirit quest... " Seven paused again as she saw Commander Chakotay grimace. While she was not fully able to understand ever nuance of the expression those around her had every day. Something in the back of her mind sensed that the Commanders frown was not one of disapproval in the Doctor's sudden unsupportive attitude at least fully; on some perhaps primal level she was aware that Commander Chakotay was equally uneasy about her interest. "It would seem that in this instance you and the Doctor are for once share similar objections" She stated, her brow line wrinkling.
Chakotay was taken aback by the accusation she levelled at him. Clearly she was upset, no doubt the Doctor had being pestering her to take a step back from the course she had set for herself. The holo-graphic man had never being the most accepting when it came to things outside his wheel house, any kind of spirituality or exploration of that subject being foremost among subjects he dismissed out of hand and no doubt he had railed against Seven wishing to use his Akoonha to explore what she experienced with Omega. Having being on the relieving end off more than one of the Doctors dismissive arguments he knew well how infuriating the holo-gram could be and how short tempered one could become afterwards. Still that didn't explain her insight only her justifiable anger at the idea that he would also try to talk her down. Through his sparse interactions with Seven he had considered the possibility that much like himself, Seven had a some natural affinity for reading peoples expressions and moods. She just lacked the contest and experience to see beyond that and her temper no doubt rosed by the Doctor had made her react. "I won't lie to you Seven...what you say is true..."
"If you had changed you mind Commander, you only required to inform me when I comm'ed you"
"Seven wait it's not..." Chakotay sputtered brokenly as she slid off the bio bed in a signal smooth almost mechanical motion, her eyes narrowed as she stopped suddenly in her tracks with all the fluidity of a un oiled clock coming to an halt. "Your right Seven I was having doubts...I even thought about calling this all off...more than once" Chakotay admitted shame filling his features as he rested a hand over his right eye and the tribe tattoo sticked in black ink that rested above it. "This isn't an easy thing for me to admit but I..."
"Feared that our link might be established..." Seven stated matter of fact. "I...share that concern, it is part of the reason we are here is it not?"
"No...I mean yes but... but" he stammered until she said sunk in "Wait you do?" Chakotay asked elated by her telling him that but also hit somewhat out of left felid by her admission.
"Yes..." Seven admitted to slowly "You must understand Commander that I am still in some ways, Borg but... I am no longer as determined to return to the others as I once was."
"Seven" Chakotay said his voice barley a whisper, unconscious reached a hand out to her to touch her shoulder to comfit her. Before he realised what he was doing and pulled it back to his side, if she was any other women he would have done what his unconscious mind thought to be the right move, if she was any other women. He would have comforted her in any way he knew how but she wasn't, she was Seven of Nine and there was some barriers that they couldn't cross, yet. The moment seemed to hang in the air like early morning fog and then the moment passed as he opened his mouth to speak once more "How long have you felt this way...and have you told Kathryn any of this yet?"
She shifted from one foot to the other, her normally controlled facade slipping if only for a heartbeat, feeling suddenly bashful around the commander. 'Perhaps Omega has affected my mind in some subtle way, it would certainly explain a great deal about my actions since then'. "I have not informed the Captain as of yet." her human hand drifted up seemingly acting upon its own will rather than hers and hovered just above where her heart would be for the span of a few heart beats before she forced the disobedient limb down to her side once again. Annoyance flicked across her pail features that she had mimicked such a common mannerism without meaning to, bothered her on some fundamental level.
Chakotay nodded emphatically. "Your secret is safe with me, but if I may say so...I'm very happy to hear you say that" he tried to ignore the look of surprise he saw fill her face. Not that he blamed her for it they had never being close and that was unlikely to change in the near future. "But the link being restabilised isn't the only reason why I was worried..." he lot out an exasperated sigh "how am I going to explain this?"
"Explorations are unnecessary commander" Seven told him "If you do not wish to allow me to use your Akoonha, then I will respect your decision."
He let out a humourless snort "You really would let me off the hook like it's no big deal wouldn't you?" Chakotay asked rhetorically ran a tan hand through this dark hair. "No I will help you Seven" He told her with emphatic certainty. "It's just I have a long and very complicated history with my people's faith...our spirits. There was a time when I started to reject them out right, seeing them as nothing more than silly superstitions of a back ward people more oppressed with remaking the past than moving forward." He let out a bitter laugh as he leaned against the bio bed Seven had vacated. "It's taken me a long time to realise there is more to it than that... I suppose there might always be a part of me that's conflicted. A part of me the wonders have I made the right choose and I don't want to lead you down the wrong path...this even if it works and give you some insight...it's not a quick fix Seven nor is it easy" he told her solemnly.
"I understand you're meaning commander and I shale temper my expectations." Seven informed him curtly.
"Ahem!" The Doctor cleared his artificial throat "I'm not interrupting anything am I?" the hologram asked as he tried to suppress the shards of jealous that had suddenly scrapped together like pieces of broken flint inside him. He had already being unnerved to say the least by Seven's strange and sudden interest in using Chakotay's mediation device.
It certainly did no favours to his ego that within the few minutes it took him to analyse the mediation aid to see if it was at all compatible with Seven's remaining implants while also insuring there was no risk of a mental link being reforged between her and Chakotay. That as soon as he turned around to inform the pair of his findings. It had seemed to him that Chakotay had effortlessly engaged Seven in a fully flowing conversation.
If it had being anyone other than the Commander the Doctor may have felt a need to jump for joy as it was. As getting Seven to engage with the crew beyond a handful of brisk and all too brief conversations had being a challenge as herculean as returning to Earth, even He and Captain Janeway had trouble getting the former drone to talk to them at times.
He bristled at seeing Chakotay have such a deep an effortless conversation with Seven after mouths upon months of the other man either ignoring the former drone or being among the loudest of her detractors.
He tried to tell himself that it wasn't jealousy that made his photons heat up but rather protectiveness of Sevens still fragile and burgeoning humanity and anger toward the commander as he should have being helping out from the very start. Chakotay had being to one that had freed Seven after all, the only one that could have related to having a collective of others in one's mind but Chakotay hadn't once step forward. Not once spoken for her or offered a listing ear. The Captain and himself had done all of those things and more, 'it's a little late to offer a helping hand now commander' the Doctor thought darkly
"No doctor" Chakotay stated perhaps a little too quickly as he saw Seven slip her normal expressionless mask back on, any humanity that may have shown through in a moment of rare vulnerability and connection slipping away as easily as water from and open hand. "What's the word? Chakotay asked "Neither one of us what to take a trip into each other minds if we can help it" he informed the other man succinctly as he watched something dark flicker across the doctor's face before it disappeared from view like a mole popping up from its den only to borrow back down again.
"Yes that...yes" The Doctor sputtered; with effort he pushed the darker more unpleasant parts of his personality back into place. He had let this line of thought get the better of him once a long time ago and it had nearly cost him everything, his friendship with with his former assailant Kes, his standing with the crew and even his own existences. He had vowed to never let his own personal Mr Hyde out into the day light again. Despite the assurances of B'Elanna and others that he was free of his darker self created out of his own misguided to improve himself. He still felt like his dark self was always at his back just waiting to pounce. "Yes...the scans offcourse. I'm happy to report that it's perfectly safe for Seven to use your device, if anything she might have more compatibility with it then you do Commander" the hologram proclaimed, smugness replacing his adjuration.
Chakotay felt his lips twitch slightly with irritation at the Doctors self satisfied explanation "That's good to hear Doctor..."
The doctor continued oblivious to the fact that the commander had so much as uttered a peep "There are fascinating commonalities between..."
"Doctor!" Seven exclaimed perhaps louder than what was necessary but she needed to prevent him from going on an overly long explicit tangent on any commonalities he found between her Borg implants and the commander's device especially as she saw agitation flicker across Commander Chakotay's tan face. "I do not think the commander requires that information." She stated emphatically.
"Oh right" The Doctor said somewhat apologetically as he realised his mistake. "Anyway...there should be no risk of the link being established either, however I would like to monitor Yours and Commander Chakotay's brain activity just to be on the safe side..." He said "Now where did I put those bio scanners?" he wondered as he cast his gaze about the sick bay his wrinkles scrunching up in concentrated.
He nodded his thanks to Seven for spaying him one of the Doctors lectures. "There on the equipment tray on the other side of this bio bed Doctor" Chakotay pointed toward the tray in question.
"I would forget my head if it wasn't screwed on" The Doctor said bashfully "I trust being monitored won't be an issue commander?" He asked as he retrieved, two small round black and silver disks from the tray.
Chakotay let out a long forlorn sigh. "None that I think of..." He told the other man. "So long as you don't let anyone pull that medicine wheel nonsense on me again..." he added shaking his head and letting out a ruefully laugh. The Doctor obvious didn't appreciate his poor attempt at a joke if the tutting noise he made was anything to go by. "It's a long story, I'll tell you it some other time if you like" he offered when he saw Seven shoot him a questing look, she must have aware that his tribe had never traditionally practiced or adopted that particular ritual.
"I would not be opposed to a firsthand accounting of whatever event you are referring to Commander." Seven informed him, her human eyebrow razed in mild curiosity.
"In my defence, it was Lieutenant Torres that insisted on it...and besides it ended up getting us out of that dark matter nebula before the Korma sucked the crew's neural energy dry" the Doctor's interjected.
"That's true" Chakotay admitted though pursed lips. 'When we get back to earth I'm going to have a word with whatever joker attached that to my tribe's cultural index'
The Doctor walked over, a black shiny disk ringed in sliver held in both of his hands. "These will inform me immediately if there are any problems..." he said as he handed the commander and Borg the small disks. "Just place them on your necks when you're about to start...though I just had had a thought" The hologram admitted sounding pleased with himself "If you interact with the commander's device here Seven, I can mentor you and be easily to hand if anything unforseen happens..."
Chakotay took a step forward when he saw a flicker of apperception flash across Sevens face "It's up to Seven where she...interacts with my Akoonha, Doctor" Chakotay informed the other man, annoyed at the Doctors dismissive and presumptive aptitude. "It's best we do this where ever she is the most comfortable"
The doctor waved his hand dismissively "All the better than, I can't think of anywhere Seven would be more comfortable than here commander" He said as he turned around "Isn't that right Seven?"
Chakotay never liked to consider himself, a petty man but he'd be lying if he said in all honestly he hadn't taken certain about perverse enjoyment in watching the Doctor deflated like a balloon after Seven had informed him that she wasn't as comfortable with in sick bay as the hologram had assumed.
The Doctor had being so put out by that revelation he had not elected to come with them to Seven's destination of choice, Cargo bay two. Chakotay couldn't help fell a little gratitude for that turn of events as the hologram's arrogance and presumptions were wearing on his last nerve. Through any gratefulness he felt evaporated when he saw that Seven was more than a little crest fallen over having accidentally offended the Doctor.
While they headed into the bowels of Voyager and towards the closest thing Seven had to quarters. He tried to reassure her that the Doctor was likely more embarrassed than anything else.
Before he could elaborate more they had reached their destination, Cargo bay two's heavy gun metal grey doors stood waiting. "Lady's first" He said stretching out a hand towards large gun metal grey double doors.
"As you wish" She said her voice more subdued than her normal tone as she steeped within the sensor rang of the cargo bay door which slid open with gratifying efficiency.
Chakotay let out a sudden breath as he dutiful fallowed her, the Nero implant which had once saved his life but would be anchored to his spine. Chose that moment to set a small shock as if the spiteful collection of metal and wires wanted to send him running off into the depths of Voyager, braking his promise and leaving Seven's request unfulfilled. He grunted auditable as his free hand rose up to his neck if only to check that the dammed thing hadn't sported. It hadn't offcourse the dammed thing always acted up when he least expected it. Though he considered the possibility if only for a moment that despite the Doctors assurances to the contrary the thing reacted in the prance of Borg technology and there was no ware on board with as high a concentration as Cargo bay two
Almost taking up the entirety of the wall directly to the right of the door he'd just entered through, five identical Borg alcoves protruded from the wall. Almost as if they had grown from the metal and wiring within like strange metal cancers rather than being built, each had a small step that lead up to a platform were a drone or rather in Voyagers case Seven would return to have their cybernetics and remaining organics recharged removing the need for sleep and eating, though in Seven's case as her biological systems restabilised themselves or where regrown by the Doctor she now had to partake of that later and in theory the former too though the former drone professed that her regeneration cycle was more efficient. Each machine was in full half a head taller than a fully grown man.
A small data screen was attached to the outer pine like frame work that encaged each alcove, their glassy surface's filled with sickly green Borg script. The inside of each alcove was a mess of black, silver and bronze coloured pipes, wires, tubes and other esoteric machine parts. A single large glass disk, ringed in sliver produced from the spin of the machine at about head height, green volts of lightning crackled were contained within the body of each disk.
A low rhythmic hum emanated from the machines.
However beyond the line of Alcoves there was little evidence Seven had done anything to the large cavern like space of the cargo bay to make it her own. To say she lived a Spartan life style with minimal marital attachments was an understatement.
The little she seemed to possess was half hidden toward the back of the cargo bay, a standard storage locker which she had undoubted reproposed to store her cloths, a cracked body length mirror and three large suit casse sized greenish grey crates that had seen better days. These where the only items with in the cargo bay as for as Chakotay could tell, that Seven didn't seem to want anything to do with if the dust and grim that had collected on them was any indication, which contrasted with rest of the cargo bay which was immaculate.
Even the six metal frame shelf's that took up the rest of the cargo bay packed full to the brim with cargo containers, boxes, creates and drums of ever shape, size imaginable were spotless and well organised which such reverence to efficacy it would sorely set such a high example that any quartermaster with his salt would struggle to match.
Chakotay knew the reason why the three half hind crates were seemingly the only imperfection in sevens otherwise ordered realm, those boxes continued the few remnants of her Parents ship the Raven, they had managed to salvage which was when all was said and done was very little.
What was perhaps worse was save a picture or two, all that remained were her parent's and her life before they were assimilated was their data stored within the Ravens aligning computer core. While that would normally be a case for celebration that Seven or any freed former drone had this much personal information to call upon, a distressing amount of the recovered data that he had skimmed through was dedicated to research into the Borg. It was little wonder though she rarely if ever spoke about them, that Seven resented her parents for the foil of what was clearly and oppression.
"Commander, I am ready to start when you are" Sevem informed him. She inwardly hoped that unlike the Captain and the Doctor, Commander Chakotay would not pressure her into familiarizing with her parents data any more than she already had.
"Yes... I think we are" he told her, chiding himself once again for his wondering attention, what she did with the last few scraps of her previous life was none of his business. "Seven before we start I think there are some things we should go over"
"Of course commander"
"First of is...Could you just call me Chakotay while where doing this." He asked bringing up the hand holding the small brown leather bag to indicate his point. "If you want this to work, you need to be as relaxed and I don't know about you but chain of command and relaxation don't exactly go hand in hand, so please no ranks for the rest of tonight." Chakotay suggested as he sat cross legged on the floor and opened up the small brown bag her had brought with him. "Since this is your first time doing this and you don't have grounding items yourself we'll use some of mine but if you want to do this again you'll have to find your own." He told her evenly as he carefully removed each item from the bag. First was a small picture frame which had seen better days as had the picture within.
Chakotay stared at the family photo for a long moment as his gaze swept over each face in turn. His father's face was filled to the brim with a playful cheeky grin; he could see a barely restrained glint of mischief in his father's dark eyes. He could never make it through a single photo without looking like he had some cunning plan cooked up that he could wait to unease.
He was always slightly taken aback by how familiar his father's eyes where to his own, they were so similar it was almost eerie like looking into a mirror but the refection staring back was slightly off as if small but very deliberate mistakes had being made. His mother wore her own smile smaller than his father, restrained with a hint of wry humour twinkled with her own gaze as if she was aware of some joke that no one else was. He felt a stone of guilt solidify with in his chest as he searched for any sign of the aneurysm that would strike her down only a few months after this photo was taken but there was no sigh nothing he could have seen that would have indicated that year would be her last. He tore his addition away from his mother's face to focus now on the last living relative he had his little sister Sekaya.
Always the little spit fire Sekaya had stuck the tip of her tongue out at the lost moment of the photo. It always amused him to think that his annoying little sister so full of life in those days would change so radically, becoming one of the most responsible and caring people, he knew. In only a few years time she had become one of the most respected advocates for their home and the other colonies within the DMZ while also pursuing her art carrier.
Chakotay bit his lip the try to stop his mind form focusing on that time of his life, knowing it would lead him to dark places and he couldn't risk that at the moment. He put the frame down as he retrieved the last four items from the small leather bad. The next items where his original Starfleet uniform pips like the picker frame they had seen better days, their once golden surface was cracked and tarnished.
"As you wish..." She agreed impassively while watching the commander ready each item, though she flinched slightly when she saw him pull out a long back feather, not unlike the plumage of the avian that she had seen in when her mind had being under the influence of the Borg homing signal.
"Seven are you ok?" he asked having noticed her go stiff as a board, then upon seeing where her gaze was focused he cursed himself as a fool for bringing out his raven's feather.
"It is nothing an irrational reaction" She said trying to reassure him but it was clear that the Commander had more questions but wishing to not linger on the subject she decided to elaborate as succinctly as she could "One of the delusions induced by my proximity to the Borg homing signal located on the Raven was the manifestation of a avian with similar plumage" Seven pointed to the black feather. "It is of no concern, please continue"
"If you say so...all right next thing to do is for you to sit" Chakotay informed her deciding not to press the former drone on details it was clear she wished to avoided talking about what she had experience.
"I prefer to stand" Seven stated as she cast a glance down towards the floor, she was unused to sitting on chairs as it was, sitting on the floor was an entirely different beast.
He let out a humourlessly snort "I'm afraid that's not an option...well innless you want to end up on your ass. Trust me on this one Seven" Chakotay rubbed his back as he recalled when he strand during one of his first spirit quests. "You'll end up on your ass anyway; you might as well cut out the middle man"
"Very well" Seven obeyed the commander's instructions and slowly lowered herself to the ground and crossed her legs, unconsciously mimicking his style of sitting. Her form fitting bio-suit made the process more difficult than perhaps it needed to be as it was never being designed with this activity in mind.
"All right then. Try to push voyager, your work everything else out of your mind" Chakotay instructed her. "Just for the next few minutes try to relax and concentrate on your breathing."
"You're doing great Seven" Chakotay complemented as he watched her sternum rise and fall while also trying to keep his gaze away from her amble breast's which thanks to her tight bio suit were hard to ignore at the best of times now with Seven's chest rising and falling with her steady mechanical breathing they where double difficult to ignore. Not for the first time he wondered why the Doctor had designed her garments to be so explorative even if she didn't wish to where a star fleet uniform there were surely better options. "Now here's the hard part, I want you to focus on, just one memory or experience when you've feet the most contacted."
"Contented?" Seven echoed her voice soft as she continued to keep her breathing steady. "I'm unsure if I have such a memory"
He felt his heart sink at Sevens simple admission and any ill thoughts he had moments ago vanished "I know it's going to be hard for you Seven but you just have to find one!" he told her sympathetically "Doesn't matter if it's here on Voyager or something from your child hood" Chakotay elaborated
"I shale try com...Chakotay" Seven stated doubtfully, her brow furrowed as she tried to recall any memory that could possible fit within the commander's suggestion. There were few times on Voyager as much as she had grown to accept her newly found individuality and the unique qualities of the crew and her few friends but she could not say in all honestly she had ever being content here, at least not as of yet. While she briefly considered her experience with omega but she was unsure if that was a wise chose. The fact that no matter how she felt in the moment the after math of its destruction had poisoned any memory she had of it, with regret and loss. She couldn't relay on her experience with the Borg either while she could recall ever waking moment of her eighteen years of being a drone, there had never being contentment there either. Just order and drive the never ending quest to fulfil an ultimately imposable goal.
That left only the scatted and vague memories of her childhood as the only place she could turn, her clearest ones where of her time on the Raven but they were hardly content. The strongest memories she could recall of that time were usually tinged with fear or loneliness. Though there was one thing that seemed to give her younger self joy even in the bleakest of times. It wasn't so much a memory but a collection of notions and feeling all focused around a single object, a small antique music box which had a small clockwork ballerina within. She recalled vague memory of contentment whenever she wound the small key to being the music. A rare smile filled her face as she recalled how much she loved watching the small clockwork figure go through its dance routine. The clockwork ballerina arms stretched out, her leg lifting from its resting position as she began to spin. Sometimes when her parents were distracted she would try to copy the ballerinas movements admiring the figures grace.
Like a single strand of string being pulled from a tight ball of yawn, she fallowed the memories back to their source. She recalled how she once had an obsession with the elegant dancers, their grace, straight and beauty appealed greatly to her to the point she wished she was one. "I believe I found what you speak of Chakotay" Seven said dreamily for once seeing the value in the memories she retained from her child hood.
He couldn't help the beaming smile that filled his face to the fullest at her admission, he knew from his own exposure to her mind that she had so few recollections of ever being human so anything she could recall was a blessing and what could only be a pleasant memory which where rarer for the former drone than stable worm holes where for voyager. "That's great Seven, now hold out you hand" Chakotay insisted he beamed at her as she reached her human hand out. He pressed his Akoonha into her waiting hand and guided her fingers to the buttons. "Now press these" he took a breath as Seven pressed the buttons "and repeat after me"
"I am far from the sacred places of my grand fathers, I am far from the bones of my people, but I ask that you to watch over me and guild me now even in distant place...A-kop-chee moya"
Gingerly she opened her eyes and found that she was no longer with in the cargo bay or even within Voyager at all. The atmosphere of the place was the first thing to become readily apparent to her as her sensors stretched out to take in her surroundings.
It was heavy and still, slightly stale with an undercurrent of old sweat, sawdust and just a hint of moulding cloths. Her eyes took amount to adjust to the lighting which bathed her and the strange place where she found herself. The former originated from complex lighting fixtures made from of floating crystal or glass that hung from the ceiling, called chandeliers. 'Wait how do I know that?' Seven queered mentally unsure as to how she was familiar, brow fallowing as she searched though her memories since coming upon Voyager but found no origin point for her insight and considering her eidetic and nearly perfect memory was perhaps slightly alarming. She tried to dismiss it as irrelevant bit it continued to trouble her, was this something that she had recalled from her childhood before her assimilation? It wouldn't be the first time she recalled something so utterly irrelevant from her brief childhood nor would it be the last.
Pushing the thought to the back of the mind to be dissected later she stood as her eyes finished adjusting. She seemed to be standing on the centre of a wooden stage which was backed by deep red currents. To the fount of the stage was a sea of empty chairs that stretched off into the darkly lit cavernous space beyond even what she could see as if the space went on forever. Every signal chair as for as she could tell was identical, well worn red cushions built into dark oily wooden frames.
Long walk ways ran up and down the rolls of chairs like that game she saw the offspring of Ensign Wildman playing with Mr Neelix once in the mess hall, the Childs mother whom she had being working with at the time. Informed her it was a human game called tic-tac-toe and its primary prepose beyond entertainment a concept that even now she had difficult understating the prepose off, was meant to encourage strategic and tactical thinking as well as shape recognition.
Seven turned her gaze away from the sea of chairs and back to her more immediate surroundings. A number of props where scatted the around the otherwise barren stage. A mirror which nearly matched the one she had salvaged for her own needs though this one remained uncracked, a few plan wooden chairs surrounding a table and a grand piano pushed to the side of the of the stage. She didn't know why but the piano seemed vaguely familiar to her though she couldn't place it.
It was only then once she became acclimatised to the strange space she found herself in that she remembered where she pulled the mental recreation from. Her parents and aunt knowing of her obsession with ballerinas had taken her to see a Ballet as a going away gift just before she and her parents left on their misguided voyage. Though looking around Seven knew it was not a pure representation of the little she recalled of that going away gift, her unconscious mind had overlade the parts that where lost to her due to the passage of time and the flawed recall of a Childs recollection. Here and there her mind had filled in the gaps in the theatre with those the Doctor had enthusiastically showed off in some of her social lessons when he tried to install with in her an appreciation for art.
A breeze of cool air ruffled a few strands of her hair that had come loose of her normally controlled helmet of gold locks, she brought up her hand to return the way word strands and gasped audible as she only then realised it wasn't just her location that had changed but her as well.
Shock at the change temporally overcame her normally dismissal of her appearance, her hand she had used to brush her fly away locks with, her Borg hand was completely free of metal scars. Reflexively she touched the spot where the implant that replaced her human eyebrow would be and found nothing there save a fine band of gold hairs.
Acting on impulse she approached the mirror and saw both her eye brows now matched and the small star shaped implant on her check was also gone.
As far as Seven could tell she was completely human "I do not understand...where are my implants...I cannot function without them" she exclaimed her natural Swedish accent braking though as her normally controlled none accented manor of speech fell away like leaves from a tree.
"Var inte vara orolig lite ett" (this means do not be afriad littel one) A masculine voice exclaimed, to then be ocompained by the sound of feathered wings flapping,
Seven turned sharply a chill run up her apparently unaugmented spine as she turned to see the apparent speaker image from out of the darkness as if it had being born of shadow. A large ink black avian glided gracefully from one of the hanging chandeliers where it had perched moments ago, having no doubt observed her since her arrival.
The bulky avian perched on top of one of the plan wooden chairs and eyed her coolly. The bird's eyes were as blue and clear as the icy water. Yet there was a sad world warier aspect within those blue orbs as if the avian had seen far, far too much in its long life yet there was also warmth with them as well, the warmth only a grandparent or elder could posses for a beloved new addition to their family. Its board tail fanned out for moment to arrest its movement and its glossy dark plumage glistened. Scars ran across its curved beak and across much of its face. "You have nothing to fear least of all from me. The implants that help sustain your form in the wakening world are still there but here you have no need of them, thus they are not here." The bird explained its voice was deep and clearly male, caring a familiar almost familiarly accent to Seven's naturally voice, which she rarely let free.
Seven backed away from where the bird had landed trying to keep as much distance between the dark avian and, herself as possible, while remaining on the stage. Her heart thumped against her rip cage at seeing the creature that had being present when she was pulled back to derelict ruin of that that remained of her human life. "I am not afraid" Seven told the bird, unwilling to cower to a mere avian, defiance supplanting fear as her heart steady, the shock of the avian return and her apparent transformation . "I take it you are my sprit guild? State your Designation" She demanded tersely as her confidence returned.
"Always so direct" the avian mussed ideally "But I am the one you seek, Annika. Know that I am Olov"
Her eyes narrowed and nostrils flared upon hearing her human name, she took a determined almost changing step forward "My Designation is Seven of Nine, you may call me..."
Olov regarded the stubborn human with a gaze as icy as her own "That may be what you wish to be called in the wakening world" Olov interjected not allowing her to finish the thought. "But here you are Annika, the daughter of Erin and Magnus. You were named for your Grandmother whom wished more than anything to see your birth but her time had come to an end while you were still in the womb. I know you're feeling on your parents and I do not begrudge you them" the bird told her knowingly as he ruffled his feathers a hint of anger had wormed its way into his otherwise glacial voice. "But I will not allow you to dishonour yourself or their love for you here."
She titled her head her brow caressed with bewilderment, this was not she was expecting when she asked commander Chakotay for the use of his Akoonha. Her research into the process had informed her that when she met her spirit guild that it would not be a straight foreword affair and the commander himself had admitted as much when they had left sickbay nearly an hour ago. Describing them as cryptic which had concerned her as she was not used to obfuscation, however as of yet Olov at the very least was not, rather the avian was forced more on her parents and family history than the reason she had sought this experience out in the first place. "I fail to see how referring to myself as a designation that I am more familiar could be considered dishonourable to those that are responsible for its acquirement. As for my grandmother by your very own admission she died before I was born"
The bird scaped his beak against the top of the wooden chair he perched on "And thus you think your rejection of it would not cause her harm and heart ache?" He asked his dark feathers standing on end "Consider this Annika." He pursed for a moment so that he could hop down from the top of his chair and onto the table. "Your captain Janeway and the crew of Voyager have accepted and honoured your request to retain at least part of your Borg designation, despite the link it creates back to your existence within the collective, being little better in their eyes than a slave that has kept their chains despite being now free of restraint. Is it so difficult to be pay that favour back and honour those that loved you and still do, now that you are free of both false forests and iron?" Olov requested as he smoothed his ruffled plumage.
"Perhaps that is not un reasonable request" Seven murmured frowning, for a moment a image of threes and lush green growth pressed into her mind though she could recall no details other than that. "Very well, you may address me as you wish" she conceded as she pushed the image out of her thoughts unsure off their exact origin, she had being too a few planets with frosted regions during both her time with in the Collective and while on Voyager. There was no need to decorate any more of her
"That is good" Olov preened "Now my little explorer what brings you to seek my wisdom?" he chucked sly mirth oozing from his avian features "I know of course... I am merely being Rhetorical. You must forgive a old bird his mirth but I had feared you would never seek me out not after I was required the act as your Sheppard when the ghosts of the past called out to you"
"You were required to Sheppard me...!" Seven barked her brow fallowed resentment flashing in her eyes. "Who or what demanded that of you? What give you the right to expose me to that I had already accepted my individuality and that I would not be allowed to return to the Collective so long as my doing so would in danger the Voyager and her crew..." She vented any thought of restraining her emotions fell to the way side as her face flushed in anger and resentment, her eyes blazed with cold fire.
Remorse filled the old birds feature "You demanded it of me, my sweating. Your future and your present gave me that right as they hung in the balance...it is not the first time the actions of a raven have being seen as ill omen, my kind are often blamed for our grim nature. But we are nothing more than what nature has crafted us to be. We are carrion creatures living off that which has past to make way for the new and few have welcomed our console." Olov hung his head in shame "You were already being called to by what was past, I protected you as best I could so you knew only a lick of flame and were saved from its heat. Do you bare scars yes" the bird rose his head and met Annika's gaze his own, which was every bit her equal. "Someday I hope you forgive me for the hurt in your soul, for the part that I had to play. But it is better to know a scar than a mortal wound, it is better to know that flame burns before being pulled into infernal."
Seven blinked taken aback, while understand metaphor was not one of her strong suits she could see the reasoning here. "I believe I understand...Voyager will likely encounter the Collective again in the future it is fortunate that the homing single was addressed so my will wouldn't easily subverted and I would be turned on the crew" She elaborated rationally as she pushed the way word emotions that had flared a moment ago back into place, the commander had told her that she needed to remain claim lest the vision quest reflected her turbulent emotions back at her.
"Is that all you understand?" Olov asked mildly "Or are there deeper truths that experience as hard for you as it was brought into the light of day?"
She looked away "Perhaps...but that is not why I came."
"No it is not, but between inspection and completion intent changers a hundred times" the bird informed her, his curved beak opened slightly in an almost avian smile. "However being as direct as you are my little explorer, I'm sure you can ster us back to the subject that brought you here, that made you seek as you have this unthinkable outcome"
"Omega" Seven stated pouring everything she felt and understood into that single word.
Olov nodded sagely and looked up toward one of the chandeliers that hung over the seas of chairs, it detached from its mornings and began to change and sift. Glass, wire and crystal gave way to the manifestation of perfection. Hundreds of pale blue dots seemed to dance and gyrate in perfect formation, creating interchanging three dimensional octagonal patens, each molecule working together without taking away from its partners. Each paten and molecule enhancing the whole as the whole enhanced each individually.
Awe filled Seven's faces she took in the shapes that would be forever burned with in her mind, the sense that she was looking at something greater than herself, Greater than Voyager or even the Collective enveloped her like living fire yet she was not blurt from its presence.
Everything that encompassed Omega a few hours ago rushed back to her.
It was warm, welcoming beyond anything she had ever experienced, she could have spent life times in reverence to it.
She wanted to every part of her yarned to marvel in it complexity. To know again prepose, order and unity everything that she desired it was with her grasp, no more pain, no more confect or confusion all she had to do was stay here and reveal in it forever. She could know a peace.
And yet at the threshold of having everything she ever thought she needed, everything the collective had left her earning for, she couldn't cross over that threshold, she could not reach out and touch Omega. Perhaps because she knew it was an illusion.
Perhaps because she had changed too much, she was no longer the compliant drone she had once being. She wasn't human at least fully maybe she could never be that but she wasn't what she had being and found now in this moment as awed as she couldn't let go of all that she had gained simple for her own peace.
Perhaps it was only because she had let her humanity return as much as she had that she felt anything toward Omega. If she had still being a drone she would never have had this experience never felt they way that she did when she started into Omega and it stared back at her. Yet it was only due to her assimilation and the value the Collective placed on the molecule that she valued it at all. If she had never being Borg and had grown up as any human or other race had, razed by her parents and shaped by the world's they knew she would see nothing of value with Omega. She would value something else.
She thought back to the holo-graphic recreation of Leonardo da Vinci's work shop where she had taken refugee and how she had started at the strange metal idol that had adorned his wall. Something the real man had done no doubt hundreds of years before she was ever born. She cast a glace toward Olov whom sat watching her intently, his blue avian eyes having become reflective pools where perfection reflections of Omega swam but at the same time radiating very similar emotions to the man on the cross.
After what felt like an age she turned her back on Omega, not because she did not value it, not because she didn't still feel the pain of its lose, just as she felt the loss of the Collective. Yet like them she could not go back, not without losing all she had come to be.
Perhaps there could be a time where she felt that she could understand it and be at peace but that was not to be today, she had gained something in the light of Omega but for the moment she could not have it back once it was lost to her.
Yet she didn't feel resentment for that any more. And for the moment that was all that was required
"Our time is coming to an end Annika" Olov stated matter of fact as his recreation of Omega reverted back into being a chandelier and reattached to the cleaning. "You must soon return to the waking world, it does not do well to stay overlong in dreams...that step in your path is over, though you may revisit...it." The avian halted to take a breath full of regret and sorrow. "Walk again the path that you alone must walk and no that even if you never seek me out again. Know that I am always with you my brave explorer and you are never alone"
"I will seek you out again Olov" Seven reassured the aged bird her fear and resentment having long since vanished.
The bird nodded and let out a squawking cry as he stretched his impressive wings out to their full length and with a few beats of his feathered limbs he lifted from the chair that served as his perch and flew into the gloom of the theatre.
Slowly Seven of Nine opened her eyes and found that once again she was back within the familiar environment of Voyager. She felt a slight gang of absence at being parted from her spirit guild and the strange dream like theatre she had visited thanks to no small part due to commander Chakotay's allowing her to use his Akoonha but after being severed from the collective and the loss of Omega it was perhaps a small thing but noticeable none the less. She still felt their lose and a certain longing but perhaps for the first time in as long as she could recall it wasn't quit the burden it had being. She covered her mouth as a long exhausted sigh slipped free from her mouth. An exhaustion that permutated every part of her being with an intensity that she had only felt a few times before. Her arms and legs were numb, her stomach gurgled between her the destruction of Omega and Voyager quick exist to escape the wrath of aliens she hadn't had time to eat.
She spared them moments thought for as she massaged her limbs. In the last moments before Voyager had being able to they left the aliens behind, she had sent a small worm programme data into their woefully unsecure computer cores.
Which would in a few days time long after Voyager was long out of comms rang, unravel and inform the aliens on how to improve a number of their systems along with a map of their local sector of space. Including the locations of several resource rich planetoids and other Stella objects that would be within their reach but were unaware off which would hopeful by enough to by them time achieve warp flight which she estimated at their current rate of development along with her helping had with be achieved in two decades.
It was no garniture of their survival there was every possibility they wouldn't understand what she had given them or they would miss us it but that was out of her hands.
Her eyes fell upon commander Chakotay sitting form then. He had yet to shake of the last vestiges the trance he had had to go into in order for her a novice user to go her first spirit quest at such short notice. Guilt picked up her spine at her unusually request had taxed Chakotay as much as it clearly had. His tan skin was pail, his thick black plaster to his tattooed forehead his breathing slight laboured but was returning to normal with every moment that past.
She mulled for a moment as he continued to steer if she should inform him about the information package she had sent to the aliens they had robbed but as his dark eyes started to flutter open she decided against it if for only for the immediate future. The commander had already secreted her information he shouldn't have and while they were not close and likely to never be so, she knew he was an honest honourable man and that keeping her minor transgression from the Captain was a burned he did not require at least at the moment.
"Commander" she said as way of greeting once she was reasonable sure he had regained as much of his sensors as was necessary.
A tired tight smile pulled at his lips as the world rushed back to him, "I told you Seven, for the rest of tonight call me Chakotay" he reminded her gently.
"As you wish" Seven nodded her acceptance. "Though I feel I should inform you, that it is nearly twenty three hours ship time. I shale however endeavourer to comply with your request of the reminder of tonight"
"If I didn't know better Id call that a joke..." Chakotay chuckled "Is it really nearly eleven?" He asked, Seven reconfirmed her early statement with a nod as she stiffy started stand which looked like a far more difficult prospect than it needed to be due to the limitations placed on her by her bio suit. "That's long time for a spirit quest. Normally they are only a little over an hour, you and your guild must have had a lot to discuss?"
"I am unsure we discussed enough to justify the amount of time that was taken up by is endeavour..." Seven admitted as her attention shifted inwardly, uncertainly rearing its ugly head again "He did however show me a great deal...I am sorry it took up the your entire evening"
"Don't be Seven it takes as long as it takes and id do the same for anyone who asked" Chakotay informed her warmly before decided to take her mind of her unnecessary guilt that he could see blooming behind her sky blue eyes. "Did you say he?" Chakotay queried, when she nodded he couldn't help but snort in amusement from bursting forth. "Figures my guild is female and yours is male, quite the mismatched pair we make? Hum" he asked rhetorically as he slowly gathered up his grounding items and Akoonha and tried to get back on his feet but found his legs were quite uncooperative as they had long since sup come to pins and needles "Help and old Indian out?" he asked as he offered his hand which Seven took after a moment's hesitation and thanks to her enhanced straight took his weight as feeling rushed back to his sleeping limbs.
"Considering the advancers made in medical science and the increases in life human life spans, I do not think you could be considered old by any meaning metric"
"Complements will get you every well Seven" He teased gently as he patted his uniform down.
She tillered her head slightly her human eyebrow arched, "It was not a complement Chakotay, merely a statement of fact" Seven stated, though she regrated her lack of conversational skills prevented her from responding in a way that the commander would find agreeable almost immediate as a frown replaced his precisely jovial expression, and expression she found that she now missed seeing. In her tenuous defence it was unusually for the commander to try engaging her in small talk and attempts at humour. Yet he had done both on more than on one occasion today and she found that she both wanted to respond yet she was unsure as to how. She almost went to apologise but the Commander must have guessed her intent as he held up his hand to halt her before she could ever utter a word.
"Blow a hole in my sails why don't you?" He chuckled reassuringly, he had long ago gotten used to the former drones bluntness even when it had rubbed others occasionally the wrong way. He knew it was just not within Sevens nature to be cruel she just lacked the quest necessary to open up without coming off as busk or rude. His defection seemed to work as he intended as the concern he saw blooming across her pail face melted away. "You know normally I would go over whatever it was your experienced in the quest but I think we are both to tired for that today...but Id would like if we could talk more tomorrow, if you'd be up for that?" he asked hopeful "... I mean I'm no consoler"
"I would not be averse to seeking whatever guidance you can offer Chakotay, my sift ends at twenty one hours ship time" She informed him as she decided whether or not she should ask about asking his assistance in creating her own medicine bundle as she believed the collection of objects commander Chakotay had used to assistant in their spirit quest so she could seek Olov's guidance again. She sensed there was more to be said between herself and her spiritual avian companion but her mind had being too focused on Omega to seek out much anything else out. She disced against it, she would bring it up when they spoke tomorrow, it would perhaps be best to as the Captain had said about Omega 'know when to quit.' At least for tonight
He smiled winningly "Seven I know when you get off work, I am the one who puts out the duty roster, Remember?" he Teased gently this time earning a small smirk from the former drone. He stifled a yawn "Well I better be off, I have an early shift tomorrow..." Chakotay murmured quietly
"Offcourse Chakotay...good night" she said with some difficulty unused to such informality were the commander was involved.
With that he walked out the cargo bay and with him going the brief respite between the gulfs of isolation she felt in the presence of others shrivelled and shrank like a withering fruit on a sickly vine as she was once gain left alone, she stared at the now closed doors for a long moment.
Seven tore her gaze from the unyielding slabs of space aged metal and walked over to the waiting alcoves and being to input the necessary instructions into one of their interfaces. Her fingers halted their tapping for a moment as her eyes wondered over to the three metal crates that hid under her dressing locker. Indulging her third whim of the day she reached down and pulled out one crate and then, proceeded to open it. Inside was row upon row of dater drives and scant collection of belonging that once belonged to her parents and were likely all that remained of their human lived now they where drones and would likely remain that way for the reminder of their lives. She by large ignored the data drives as irrelevant and instead pulled out a small wooden box. She gently placed it on the on a nearby self as she shoved the, create back to whence it come harder than was strictly necessary.
Rising back to her full height she gently turned the ancient metal key built into the contraption five times and then opened the box, inside. The same mechanical ballerina, she had admired as a child whishing for nothing more than to be like her remained, her paint dull with age, her once beatify dress little more than a faded and brittle scapes of plastic and cloth that clung to the dolls frame like fungus to a rotting tree.
The poor state of her child hood treasure stirred something deep inside her, an emotion somewhat like sorrow but not quite. Perhaps it was a kin to a disappointment. On some level thought she had held out a kind of for the lack of a better term, expectation that unlike her own form and the ship that had being the tomb for the life of Annika Hansen and her misguided parents, that this small treasure might be spared the ravagers of time.
Why this mattered to her now after she had left the contents of the Hansen's ship remains undisturbed for months were beyond her. There was nothing to gain from action or to linger of the dashed dreams of a child she could barley recall ever being. Yet before she went to close the music box she halted as, slowly but surely the small ballerina began to turn. The ancient gears by some happenstance still functioned. The dolls movements were glittery, stiff and the musical notes were out of tune and clearly some had long since stopped functioning at all yet she could recall every note and every movement with as much ease as she found the most mundane tasks her duties on Voyager required of her.
She watched in ruptured by the doll went through its set movements, the sense of disappointment abated as a small tight smile pulled at her lips. As the music played and the small ballerina, went through her routine. Seven found that the memory's she had pulled from to find the contentment needed to in bark on her spirit quest fill her mind. They weren't always happy memories she often retreated to her room when papa or mama was scared, they had a close call, they were yelling or angry about something, they weren't all like that. Sometimes she would put on a residual for her parents when they weren't too busy which wasn't often or tell Aunt Rere about her dancing or other interests before the Raven to far home for even the long range comm to reach. They weren't all clear some were little more than impressions no more than single grains of sand on a beach, the part of her that was still Borg. Railed against this indulgence in the past as it had railed against her seeking out the spirit quest and so much else she had done and felt since the destruction of Omega, it was as irreverent as every other memory of her time before the Collective had assimilated her. Even to the crew of Voyager it wouldn't have mattered in the slightest, it offered them no boom of benefit in even the smallest of ways.
Yet for perhaps the first time since she decided to stay on Voyager she didn't feel overly beholden to what was reverent at least in the moment. The questions and feelings brought on by Omega would remain, as would her connection to the Borg and her parents. She may be stiff confected but for maybe the first time that was alight.
AN: That's the end friends Please review I really hope you all enjoyed this
Seven's spirit guild Olov (means heir of the ancestors) in Swedish. I thought long and hard on whether or not to give Seven's spirit guild a Native American name or a Swedish one. I ultimately I went for a Swedish name because it's sort of become the head cannon for a lot of us have that Seven's family originates from Sweden and she herself is Swedish.
Again a very special thank you to Romanov16 without whom this fan-fiction would, never have being completed. Thank you for all your help, words of advice sorry I wasted your time.
Xmen Iliad, the Age of Bronze by Romanov16
Works in progress by Laura Schiller
Chaos and Order by Laura Schiller
Insight by Cojack
And an update of Scifiromance the gift
Would you kiss a brother like that by LMEM