Beth6787

January 2019

"Cruditatum"

Have you ever wondered whether Captain Janeway was wrong when she persuaded her older self that they could "Have their cake and eat it" during Endgame?

Too much cake can give you serious indigestion...

She awoke to find herself crumpled on the floor of the escape pod with her right leg twisted at an unnatural angle underneath what was left of the broken seat. The control panels were still lit although there were as many flickering red displays as those still glowing a reassuring green. The all too familiar smell of aromatic hydrocarbons punctuated the haze surrounding her, alerting her to the fried circuitry. And...she was alone.

The realisation that B'Elanna must have remained behind to manually release the last escape pod was the final death blow to her sanity. Every last one of her former crew, her Voyager family, lost. For what? Her foolish ego. Her idiotic belief that she could go one better than Admiral Janeway. The woman who had survived not seven but twenty three years traversing the Delta Quadrant and another ten back home : meticulously planning her rescue mission with the single objective of getting her crew home at the first realistic opportunity that had presented itself : twenty six years into her past.

She had no defence against the truth. Her arrogance and short- sightedness had led to everyone perishing less than one year since they exited the transwarp hub in Sector 001. Home.

Earth. Now a Borg colony of just over eleven billion former human souls. The last few Starfleet vessels were at this very moment fighting the inevitable on the periphery of what was once Federation space. If they had not perished already. It was only a matter of time...

Time. What she wouldn't give to go back, shut the hell up and follow Admiral Janeway's orders to the letter!

There was nothing to be done now except ensure that her escape pod was nothing more than a faint trail of sub atomic particles by the time the Borg arrived to assimilate their consolation prize. She knew full well that they would have scanned the U.S.S Avenger whilst they were fighting with everything they had. The Borg knew it was her ship comprising almost all her former Voyager crew. She had destroyed their Queen and one sixth of their transwarp hubs. Captain Janeway's short cut home had proved very costly for the Borg and so they had regrouped and re-prioritized. Humanity became their primary existential threat and so they reacted as only the Borg could.

As she worked on overloading what remained of her charred control panel her mind tortured her with images of the past eleven months and nine days. Sitting in her quarters sharing a pot of coffee with the Admiral; their heated exchanges in Astrometrics and in the command conference room; Tuvok's recital of his conversation with the Admiral and his firm belief that logic favoured her original plan...Keep it simple. Focus on the goal. Use the ablative armour and trans-phasic torpedoes solely as a defensive shield to ensure their exit from the AQ aperture in one piece. Leave the Borg alone and they would reciprocate. After all, Voyager was only one Federation starship whose technology was seven years behind the times. Most of her adaptations and enhancements were either Borg inspired using Seven's out of date knowledge of the Collective or gleaned from other races that the Borg had already assimilated knowledge of many years before Voyager's odyssey through the DQ.

But no. She had to go one better. Strike a fatal blow to the Borg. Infect them with a deadly virus that would destroy their collective consciousness and singlehandedly save the galaxy from this all pervasive plague. Except it wasn't quite that simple. As fast as the pathogen mutated the Borg adapted, and then they adapted faster than any virus could replicate, yet alone mutate. Now the Borg were deadlier than ever. And they had learned the lessons she had inadvertently taught them well.

They had compensated for their previous weaknesses. She knew from recent Starfleet Intelligence reports that the Borg Queen had simultaneously been engaged by several Starfleet vessels in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. That meant they had built redundancy into their one Achilles Heel. There were at least a quorum of "Princesses" each ready to assume the role of "Queen" the instant one was lost or incapacitated. Seven had made contact with Axum before she was killed on her covert mission six months ago and he had confirmed that the Borg now had eight transwarp hubs throughout the Milky Way. The three newest with all their exit apertures within the Alpha Quadrant. There was now a Borg corridor to almost every known star system within what had been Federation, Klingon, Cardassian and Romulan space.

The faces of those she had loved and lost appeared to form all around her in the acrid smog as her singed fingers fought with the molten plastic of the melting touchscreen interface. Tom and Chakotay trying to seal the hull breach on the Bridge before the forcefield finally gave out. Harry dragging her into the turbolift and seeing their bodies torn out into space just as the lift doors closed. The lift failing and Harry half dragging her through the Jeffries tubes towards engineering. The distorted cackle that was just recognisable as Tuvok's voice announcing over what was left of the Comm the order to abandon ship. Reaching engineering and ordering Harry and B'Elanna to the last of the escape pods on Deck Eleven. Harry reluctantly following orders and B'Elanna telling her that the only way they were going to succeed in overloading the core and ramming that damned Borg tactical cube in the few seconds they had left was if they worked together. She had been propped up against the warp core control console and B'Elanna had crawled under the core housing when the electrical surge had torn through her chest and flung her through the air. She remembered the searing pain and looking down at the core itself as her back slammed into the ceiling then...waking up here.

They had had less than forty five seconds until the core cascade went critical. How 'Lanna had managed to get her into the pod and eject it before... Bitter tears blurred what was left of her vision and 'Lanna's dead eyes receded into the fog.

Her mind wandered back to her first knowledge of the Borg. As a young, recently promoted Commander Janeway, her ship had been recalled to Earth from their deep space dark energy research mission whilst that battle of Wolf 359 was raging. She had been briefed on Captain Picard's experiences as Locutus and eventually given access to the Enterprise logs of their initial encounter with the Borg courtesy of Q. ...

Q! he was the one ultimately responsible for all this! If it were not for him then the Borg would never have given the Hansens a second thought. Three humans easily assimilated, one a mere child. Had they been of serious interest the Borg would have sent a scout ship to investigate Earth many years before Q's squabble with Jean - Luc placed the Federation's flagship under their cybernetic noses!

Was there time? Did she have sufficient power left? Would he recognise the signal in any case? What did she have left to lose?...

The escape pod's power reserves were at less than ten percent : barely enough to ensure that the explosion was sufficient to ensure that nothing larger than atoms remained. Epsilon particles were the only ones she knew could reach The Continuum. She would have to emit them in pulses spelling out her message in morse code using the force of the final explosion to accelerate them beyond the distortion field generated by the Borg aperture less than half a light year from where the Avenger must have met her end only hours ago.

Gathering the last of her strength as she consciously slowed her breathing to conserve what little oxygen she had left to breathe she meticulously spelt out " Paenitet. Ego tamen culpa. Bona uenia tua superbia. Adjuva nos."

She watched the faint pulses blink on the warning panel as the clusters of epsilon particles conveyed her message through the ether. She just hoped her message was not lost in translation. At least if the Borg did detect it it was likely to appear garbled and allowed on it's way. Latin was an ancient Earth language known to a very few in the twenty fourth century and it was doubtful that they would recognise it in time, if at all. She knew for a fact that Q would be able to read it : she had blindsided him with Latin legalese during the right to die trial of Quinn all those years ago. During that and subsequent encounters she hoped that she had earned his respect. That he admired humanity enough to want to save it from the Armageddon she in her arrogance had rained down on them all...

Those were her last thoughts as her atoms were spread across the cosmos in one final blaze of glory.

THE END.

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