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It was back. The hate, it burned deep. She had forgotten. The years of work and the minutia of life on Voyager had dampened it, but now it was back like an inferno wanting to envelope everything in its path. Looking around her, even her sight was affected, everything seemed tinged with red. She could hear her blood pumping through her veins, her heart beat like a tattoo of loathing. I hate you, I hate you, I hate you. It sang until she wanted to scream at them. ‘You destroyed me and my life, you took me from him.’ All these years of searching for that missing part of herself, her humanity, it had always been there. The Borg had not taken it from her; she had found it through the Borg and Unimatrix Zero. They or more rightly, she, had taken it from her, and now they had taken it away again, and Axum was light years away, unattainable, out of reach.

She had been to visit the captain in sickbay under the guise of bringing a report. Janeway had the audacity to think that her experience of being removed from the collective could have been anything like Seven’s wrenching from all that she’d known and loved. She’d been almost overwhelmed by the desire to grab one of Janeway’s pillows and hold it over her face until she stopped struggling. A small smile had quirked at her lips as she experienced the moment in her minds eye. That would have been too easy; Seven wanted her to suffer as she had. She wanted her to feel the anguish, to bleed internally from deep wounds to her heart that could never be healed. She wanted Janeway destroyed; and the absolute beauty of the situation was that Janeway herself had given Seven means to her own destruction.

The ‘bridging of minds’, that had allowed them to visit Unimatrix Zero had also given her access to Janeway’s thoughts and inner feelings. Janeway wasn’t aware of Seven’s probing but she’d gleaned information that could gut Janeway and destroy all her hopes and dreams. The added bonus was that if her plan was successful Janeway would have no-one to blame but herself and guilt is such a lonely and destructive emotion.

You see Janeway loved the Commander, or rather, Kathryn loved Chakotay.

Seven had always been aware of their close friendship, and the Commander had always been very solicitous towards Janeway but she’d never spent time analysing their interactions. She knew from the meld that there was no relationship beyond close friendship. Janeway would never breach protocols or defy regulations, but she now knew of Janeway’s hopes for them on their return to the Alpha Quadrant. During the entire time they were melded, thoughts of the Commander hovered close to the surface of Janeway’s mind, almost to the point of distraction. It might have been touching if it wasn’t so pathetic. The depth of Janeway’s feelings made the plan so simple, all Seven had to do was to steal the Commander away from Janeway; to make him fall in love with her and destroy Janeway’s dream of love, life and family with her ‘angry warrior’. Seven decided that using some of the scenarios she found in the Captain’s mind would be the ultimate irony. Her fantasies involving the Commander were elaborate and deeply romantic; they would be useful in Seven’s plan of seduction.

Seven knew in a detached way that she was attractive to the opposite sex. The way male crewmembers’ hormone and heart rate levels rose when she was in close proximity, made her aware of the affect she had on them. She found their reactions unpleasant and distasteful but she would use all of her attributes to attain her objective; the mental and physical destruction of Kathryn Janeway.

She knew this would not be an easy task, her brief meld with the Commander years ago when she was initially severed from the collective showed that his feelings for the captain also ran deep, but Seven was patient and time was on her side. Janeway would never risk a relationship with a crewmember while captaining Voyager, and there was no likelihood of them getting ‘home’ in the immediate future. Seven smiled to herself as she began to plot the path to Janeway’s destruction.

Later that evening, Seven entered sickbay. “Doctor might I spend some time with the Captain?” Looking with feigned concern at the sleeping form of her Captain, she turned again to the Doctor. “She is recovering is she not?” The Doctor was touched by Seven’s obvious concern for her mentor.

“Yes Seven, the Captain is well on the way to recovery. I think she’d be pleased to know you spent some time with her, the Commander was in earlier but he had to return to the bridge. She’s sedated at present as I have just removed the last of her cybernetic implants, she shouldn’t wake until the morning. I was going to deactivate myself, but don’t be concerned, I’ll automatically be reactivated if there are any problems.” He placed his tricorder on the work table. “Goodnight Seven. Don’t hesitate to summon me if you’re worried.” He looked at her and smiled. “Computer deactivate EMH”

“Goodnight Doctor” The Doctor disappeared and Seven stepped over to the side of the biobed.

The plan was simple, Seven had programmed some of her nanoprobes to affect specific areas in Janeway’s brain. Once the nanoprobes had assimilated those areas, Janeway would not remember or feel her attachment to Chakotay. Her own indifference would bring an end to Chakotay’s hopes of a relationship with her and in his dejected state he would be more receptive to Seven’s advances. Once she had established her relationship with the Commander she intended to reverse the procedure. Janeway would then realise what she had lost and be bereft, having let the love of her life slip away.

Seven stood over Janeway in the darkened sickbay and felt a slight tingle of excitement in the pit of her stomach. Administering the nanoprobes was simple; a quick injection with her assimilation tubules and the job was done. No-one would be any the wiser.

The first stage of her plan was successful. However, it was almost over before it began. Her cortical node, a small node situated in her forehead that maintained all her cybernetic implants, malfunctioned and she came close to death. Much of the regret she felt about leaving this life was in regard to not seeing her plans come to fruition. Janeway and the Doctor fought the odds and made numerous attempts to save her. She almost felt a flutter of remorse when Janeway risked so much to find her a replacement node, putting the ship and crew in danger. In the end Icheb saved her by giving her his cortical node as a replacement. The Captain spent many hours in sickbay watching over Seven and Icheb. It seemed that the emotions she would have expended on the Commander, she was now directing towards Seven, much as a mother would care for a daughter. It gave Seven a thrill when she realised how intensely her eventual betrayal would affect Janeway.

Over the next few months Seven concentrated on ways to spend time with the Commander and to insinuate herself into Chakotay’s life. Torres was a problem though. She was a close friend of the Commanders and Seven was one of Torres’ least favourite people. So when B’Elanna noticed Seven’s interest in the Commander and his in her, she made her displeasure known and felt. Seven overheard a discussion between the two. They were in engineering and were not aware of her presence. B’Elanna was upset and berating the Commander. “What do you think you are doing, she is as cold and unfeeling as a goddamned machine? What in Kahless name do you see in her – apart from the obvious? If that is the reason I am even more disgusted.” B’Elanna’s angry voice could be heard over the hum of the engines.

“Give me a bit of credit B’Elanna, there is more to it than that, she is not as unfeeling as you think. She has come out of herself over the last few months and I can see the woman she could become. It is fascinating to watch and I am frankly enjoying being part of the process” Chakotay defended himself.

“Don’t be fooled old man. With Seven there is always an agenda. I can’t believe you would prefer that automaton over the Captain.” B’Elanna was getting very irate.

“There is nothing about preferring anyone. The ‘Captain’ is not interested in anything that might be construed as a relationship. She is more distant than ever and doesn’t seem interested in even maintaining our friendship.” He shrugged and sounded sad. “I am getting older B’Elanna, and time is running out. I want the things you have; a partner, a family, a life shared. Kathryn won’t allow those things to happen with her so I have to move on. Seven is interested in me and to be honest I am flattered, I won’t deny it, but if I have a chance of a life even if it isn’t with Kathryn, I have to give it a go.”

“I am sorry Chakotay, I know you deserve all those things but with Seven? I just don’t trust her and I don’t want to see you or the Captain hurt. Be careful my friend, and know that Tom and I will always be here for you.”

“Thanks Be’, I will take things slowly, don’t worry.” Chakotay moved away and headed for the exit. Seven moved out from behind the bulkhead where she had been eavesdropping, B’Elanna saw her and the two were locked in a heated glare until Seven with a slight smirk moved to follow Chakotay.

Seven suggested to Chakotay that the reason for B’Elanna’s bad mood was her pregnancy, and her feelings of insecurity regarding motherhood. She also suggested that perhaps she was a little jealous that he was looking at forming a relationship; which, of course meant he would not be there for her as he had been in the past. Chakotay was surprised by Seven’s insight and began to look at her in an even more favourable light. He was lonely; Kathryn seemed to require his help and presence less and less. She had become distant and disinterested in his life. It hurt and angered him that she would be so dismissive not just of his feelings but that she felt so little about their friendship, something, he thought she treasured. So much for not being able to live a day without him. He had become superfluous and his bitterness was starting to eat away at the love he felt for her.

As it turned out the Commander himself was the reason for the biggest fracture in the command teams’ friendship when he became a victim of the mad Vedic Teero Anaydis and led a Maquis mutiny. It took many weeks before the look of betrayal left the Captain’s eyes. During the whole debacle Seven had stayed surreptitiously close to the Commanders side. She had convinced him that she had no allegiance to Starfleet and saw the excellent sense of a Maquis rebellion. She alluded to logic when convincing Chakotay that adherence to the prime directive was slowing their progress and they needed to take advantage of any and all opportunities as they arose. One couldn’t be concerned about the ramifications of their influence on species that they would never see again. Chakotay had been frighteningly simple to convince. Her ‘piece de resistance’ had been to plant the seed of an idea with Chakotay. The intent was to test Tuvok’s loyalty to the new Captain by killing the old Captain. Only she, in her non brainwashed state, could see the poetry of Janeway being murdered by her oldest friend on the orders of her dearest friend and love. Seven could almost see the fire in Janeway’s soul doused by the order from Chakotay to Tuvok to fire the phaser.

Of course the mutiny was quashed and life slowly returned to normal, or for what passed for normal on Voyager. However, serious damage had been done to the Captain and Chakotay’s friendship; he could not get past the guilt and Kathryn remained elusive and detached. These fractures in the relationship of the Command team led to a pervading fragility and loss of ease in both their working and personal relationships. He started spending more time with Seven and other crew members in Sandrines and the mess hall. The Captain just spent more time alone. A veil of unhappiness began to shroud the Captain; she smiled less and less, spent more time in her ready room and less time on the bridge especially when the Commander was there. She even began to appear less robust. Her estrangement from the Commander was having the desired effect as far as Seven was concerned. The rest of the crew were worried, but at a loss as to what to do.

On a routine mapping mission, Seven, Ensign Kim and the Doctor were taken hostage by the Lokirrim, a race of beings at war with photonics. She had a very disconcerting time having the Doctors matrix downloaded into her cybernetic implants. The loss of control that the Doctor imposed upon her as he vicariously enjoyed the tastes, smells and sensations of being an organic being; the overindulgences and the arousal he felt whilst in her body disgusted her more than she could ever have imagined. She realised that if she was going to enter into an intimate relationship with the Commander she would have to overcome her abhorrence to the basics of sex and intimacies.

On her return to Voyager she hunted through the holodeck directories for any programs that involved sex or sexual situations. The list was extensive and contained various combinations and types of sexual interplay. She was only a voyeur watching the different programs and storing relevant information for later use. After watching hours and hours of erotic scenarios she was none the wiser as to why any species, human or otherwise, would want to be involved in an activity that required such degradation and lack of control. It also appeared to be incredibly unhygienic.

The final nail in the coffin of the command teams relationship came in the shape of a man called Jaffen. An alien worker on a planet called Quarra, where the entire crew had been put to work after being abducted and brainwashed. Without the constraints and demands of command the Captain had in a short time become happy and carefree. She met a fellow worker called Jaffen and in a matter of a week had decided to move in with him and embark on a long term relationship with this virtual stranger. Chakotay had finally rescued the Captain and crew from the planet but the damage was done. He felt betrayed; he’d waited patiently for her for close to seven years, but she’d taken up with this man in a matter of days. He’d been tempted to leave her on the planet; she’d seemed so happy, happier than he’d seen her in a long time. Kathryn was very subdued on her return but she assured him that she was not sorry that he’d come for her. He accepted her answer, but was pleased there was someone on board that was glad he was around; he’d go down to Cargo bay two after shift and see Seven; the thought made him smile.

Seven decided she needed to practice her seductive skills before approaching the Commander about starting an intimate relationship. She wrote and elaborate holoprogram with various scenarios, many of them gleaned from the Captains own fantasies. Unaware of a Borg failsafe mechanism built into her cortical node which inhibited drones from feeling higher emotions. Seven spent many hours experimenting with these scenarios. The emotions these evoked were all very new to Seven and eventually caused an overload in her cortical node and severe neural shock. After recovering in sickbay she begged the Doctor not to inform the Captain of her problem and promised to consider a reconfiguration of her cortical node so she could experience these emotions without danger to herself.

Circumstances again worked in her favour several weeks later when the Captain assigned Seven and Chakotay to attend a conference on warp field dynamics on a nearby planet. The shuttle crashed beneath a barrier on the planet and they were trapped there for several days. The time she spent on the Ledosian planet with the native Ventu allowed her to exhibit her nurturing side. She nursed him when he was injured and cared for the young primitive girl when she was hurt in an explosion. It was fascinating; she could see his opinion of her change consistently but gradually the longer they were stranded.

He was warming to her, she could tell. It was almost time to put her skills and knowledge to the test.

The next few weeks were a time of great emotional turmoil for all the crew. The loss of Neelix hit everybody very hard. They were happy for him in his new life but missed his presence. Annoying as he could be sometimes, he had an uncanny knack for knowing just when the crew needed a boost in morale or a change of scenery. His loss was deeply felt particularly by the Captain; he’d become something of a confidante for her as her estrangement from Chakotay had deepened. As a result she became more and more isolated from her crew.

Seven decided it was time to push the commander. Emotions were still running high and the Commander had virtually cut all ties with the captain outside of work, so Seven invited him to lunch in the mess hall. They had a pleasant time; Seven was at her most charming. Men, she thought were extraordinarily simple to manipulate. Their second date was an evening at Sandrines ostensibly to play pool, but Seven was keen to gauge the crews’ reaction to seeing her and the Commander together. Their reaction was not warm, to say the least. B’Elanna’s glare could have melted titanium. Fortunately Chakotay seemed oblivious to the crews’ stares and whispers. Most of the crew seemed thoroughly disappointed and uncomfortable. Many were not sure what to say or where to look.

At this point B’Elanna decided she had to do something; the Captain was wasting away before their eyes. She’d lost weight, and was obviously not sleeping. She spent most of her on duty time in her ready room and her off duty time in her quarters alone. She rang the chime on the Captains door and they slid open to reveal a darkened room. “Captain are you in here?” B’Elanna squinted waiting for her eyes to become accustomed to the lack of light. “Captain?”

“I’m here Lieutenant. Computer increase lighting to 25%”

She was sitting on her couch looking out her window at the passing stars. “What can I do for you Lieutenant? If there a problem in engineering, Tuvok is on the Bridge and I’m sure he can handle whatever it is.” She continued to stare out the window and had not looked at her guest.

“Actually, I came to see you Captain. We’ve all been worried about you. You haven’t been yourself over the last couple of months and I was wondering if maybe you needed to talk to someone, or perhaps I could help in some way. We don’t like seeing you like this and frankly we’re concerned.” She was starting to babble, so took a few breaths waiting for a response.

“Thankyou for your concern Lieutenant, but I’m fine” She still hadn’t looked at B’Elanna.

“Captain, permission to speak freely?” Kathryn nodded. B’Elanna steeled herself. “You’re not fine. Have you looked in the mirror lately? You look like hell.” This got Kathryn’s attention and she turned sharply to look at B’Elanna. “Ummm…, no offence Captain.”

“None taken I’m sure.” She turned away again. “Look B’Elanna, thankyou for coming to see me, really I’m fine, just a little tired. It’s been a long haul and a last few months have taken their toll. I just need to get some more rest; which, I might add, I was trying to do when you arrived. Tell all concerned that I’m OK and I’ll see you at the senior staff meeting tomorrow morning. Goodnight Lieutenant.” Kathryn turned to her window again. It was a definite dismissal. B’Elanna considered trying to push the matter but realised there would be no point. “Goodnight Captain, and if you do decide you need to talk you know where to find me” B’Elanna turned and walked out the door, feeling even more ill at ease. Where was the passionate, driven woman that had been their Captain, the woman in there held no resemblance to the person she’d come to respect and admire over the years. It was very worrying and Chakotay didn’t seem the least bit interested or concerned.

Seven’s seduction of the Commander was proceeding as planned.

Their third date she decided should be somewhere they could be alone. Seven spoke to Neelix during one of their subspace kadis-kot games and he suggested an appropriate third date would be a picnic. She found it irritatingly elaborate, but the Commander seemed charmed. Things were moving along nicely. The Commander appeared completely captivated by Seven’s quirky sense of humour and her burgeoning sexuality. He invited her to dinner in his quarters; she saw this as a very positive sign. She coquettishly beamed herself to his quarters carrying a large bunch of flowers. While he was standing there still bewildered by her sudden arrival she grabbed him and kissed him hard. She moulded her lips to his and tried to make the kiss as sensual as she could whilst tamping down her disgust at the mingling of saliva, the taste of his mouth and the smell of his breath. Her enhanced Borg senses making it very difficult to ignore all these sensory inputs. She imparted her practiced line – found in one of the holodeck simulations – about getting the first kiss out of the way as the anticipation is uncomfortable. He was entranced, smiling at her indulgently. The second kiss was initiated by the Commander and was, as far as she could gather, a very passionate kiss. She feigned breathlessness and then out of the blue came the Captain’s voice calling everyone to the bridge.

They made their way to the bridge together. The Commander spent much of the time in the turbo lift looking at her admiringly. She smiled shyly in return. Her plan was almost a total success. She just needed some evidence of his commitment to her, and then she could eradicate the nanoprobes and watch the suffering of the Captain as she assimilated her loss.

When the face of the aged Admiral Janeway appeared on the view screen there was a collective gasp. Seven was stunned and suspicious of the older woman’s motives, could this incarnation of the Captain be aware of what had happened to her all these years ago. She decided to wait and see what hand the Admiral would play and how it would affect her plans.

It was obvious to Seven that the older Janeway still had feelings for the Commander. The way she watched him and the hunger in her eyes was disconcerting to say the least. The Commander was intrigued with this older and less rigid version of his captain. The Admiral treated Seven with affection but there was a sense of sorrow about their interactions; she interpreted this as meaning that the Admiral was unaware of the part her nanoprobes had played in the relationship between herself and Chakotay. She had succeeded with her plan in this Janeway’s past, but would she succeed in the current Janeway’s life.

After the arrival of the Admiral, Seven was assigned to look over the technology on her shuttle to assess it’s compatibility to Voyager’s systems. She arrived in Sickbay while the Doctor was comparing the Admiral to the Captain in an attempt to verify her identity. Seven was watching the Doctor carefully as he scanned the Captain. She excused herself to go about her work; she knew from the look on the Doctor’s face she’d been exposed. The Captain was sitting on the biobed watching the Doctor “Is there a problem Doctor?” His look of worried consternation ringing alarm bells.

“I’d like you to stay for few more minutes while I recheck these results. There’s something on your scan that’s unusual. I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about. Just let me compare it to your last brain scan and see if I can determine what it is.” The Doctor made his way to his office and requested Commander Chakotay’s presence in sickbay. If his suspicions were correct, and he hoped they weren’t, they would explain many of the crews’ worries about their commanding officer’s strange behaviour over the last few months. Chakotay arrived in sickbay and was confronted with the strange vision of two Kathryn Janeways, the older one smiling at him and the younger one indifferent to him. He nodded to both and made his way to the Doctor’s office. “What’s the problem Doctor? Is the Admiral not who she says she is?” The Doctor looked troubled and confused. “What? Oh no Commander the Admiral is definitely an older version of our Captain. That however is not the problem. Have a look at this.” He brought up a display of the Captain’s scans. On the current scan in random places throughout her brain there were dark spots that were not on the older scan. “What the hell are those?” The Commander demanded.

The Doctor looked very distressed. “They’re borg nanoprobes.”

“They’re what? Nanoprobes? How in gods name did they get there? I thought you’d got rid of all the borg implants from her assimilation?”

He went to hit his comm. badge to ask Harry to scan for Borg cubes or transwarp signatures, but the Doctor stayed his hand.

“They’re specific borg nanoprobes, designed for a specific purpose. They belong to Seven of Nine. They’re her nanoprobes.” The Doctor looked very distressed.

“Why would Kathryn have Seven of Nine’s nanoprobes in her brain? Did they get there by accident in Unimatrix Zero? It doesn’t make any sense.” He was very worried about his Captain and friend, and couldn’t understand how or why this had happened, but deep down there was small seed of dread burning a hole in his conscience.

“They are very specific Commander” the Doctor continued “They have been programmed to affect particular parts of the Captain’s brain.”

“Which parts?” Chakotay’s heart was starting to hammer and his chest felt tight. He already knew the answer. He didn’t really want to hear it but knew he must.

“It seems they were programmed to affect specific areas of her brain. They damped her feelings and made her forget certain emotions. It would explain her sudden change of character over the last few months. What I don’t understand is why?” the Doctor was genuinely baffled and distraught.

“I think I know why” he growled, anger and shame was warring within him, he wanted to go to Seven and demand an explanation, but Kathryn’s wellbeing was more important at present. Seven could wait. “Can you reverse the process Doctor?”

“Yes, quite easily in fact. The same technology we used on Species 8472 can be used to destroy them. I’ll go and synthesize the modified nanoprobes now. Do you want to tell the Captain or should I?”

“I’ll tell her. This is going to be very hard on her. She’s invested an enormous amount of time and energy on Seven of Nines return to humanity. She’s like a daughter to her.” He suddenly realised what he’d been a party to. He, Kathryn’s best friend and confidante, had been embarking on an affair with a young woman who was tantamount to her own daughter. The realization was like a gut punch, almost doubling him over, he felt sick to his stomach. What had he been thinking? Obviously he wasn’t, well not with his head anyway. B’Elanna had tried to warn him. Spirits what had gotten into him? Perhaps he should have the Doctor check him over as well. It would be so much easier if he could blame it on assimilation but he knew it wasn’t so; he only had himself to blame. He walked out of the Doctor’s office and prepared to tell the woman he loved of her ‘would be’ daughter’s betrayal and his part in it. He was heart sick and so ashamed.

The Admiral was now sitting on the other end of Kathryn’s biobed chatting with her about the crew. They both looked up as he entered. He could not hide the distress he was feeling. Kathryn looked at him with concern. “What is it Chakotay? It must be serious by the look on your face. I can’t be dying; the Admiral’s presence here is proof that I live for a few more years at least.” She gave a small smile to try and lighten the mood.

Chakotay walked over to her and took her hand. She tried to pull away, but he wouldn’t let her. “Chakotay you’re scaring me here. What the hell is the matter?”

The Admiral made a move to get off the bed. “Commander, I can leave if you prefer to speak to the Captain alone?”

“No, stay Admiral. This concerns you as well.” He looked back at Kathryn, only now registering how thin and unwell she looked. How could he have been so stupid, his eyes started to well with tears? He took a deep breath.

“Kathryn your brain scan shows something that shouldn’t be there.”

He watched her swallow and the Captain’s mask drop into place. “Is it some sort of abnormality, tumour? I’m sure the Doctor can fix it; he can can’t he? If not there must…..”

Chakotay interrupted. “It’s not organic, there are nanoprobes; specifically Seven of Nines nanoprobes in certain parts of your brain. She must have injected them into your system some months ago, I don’t know when, but…..”

The look of hurt confusion on Kathryn’s face made it impossible to go on.

“It must have been an accident. Surely they’re not Seven’s, they must be from my assimilation during Unmatrix Zero? There must be some mistake. I don’t believe you, show me the scans. Now Commander.” She was covering her dismay with anger. How could Seven do this to her? She loved her like daughter, there had to be another explanation. She made her way to the console to review the scans. She turned to the Doctor. “What does this mean Doctor, what parts of my brain have been affected?” The presence of the nanoprobes was undeniable, she just couldn’t grasp why.

The Doctor look equally distressed. “They are aimed at certain emotional and memory centres, ones associated with deep feelings and relationships; they were programmed to block memories of these feelings and emotions. Your withdrawal from the crew and specifically the Commander over the last few months was programmed into you. You had no choice but to pull back from friendships and of course have no memory of them. Your isolation was inevitable.”

The Captain looked shocked and pained. “She did this on purpose. Why would she want me to forget the people I care about?” There was noise from the other bio bed. Chakotay swung around and looked at the Admiral; there were tears in her eyes. A look of despair on her face, her shoulders sagged, her face dropped into her hands and she sobbed “Oh God no,no,no, not all these years, please no” Chakotay moved away from the console and towards the Admiral.

Kathryn turned to see her older self fall into the arms of Chakotay. She was sobbing and trying to talk at the same time. “It all makes sense…You married her….I performed the ceremony….nearly killed me. Said you didn’t love me anymore….. was young and beautiful…… you wanted a family…..I was too old…….sad, bitter old woman. I was too late, you were gone, Tuvok insane, oh God …. . all those years….oh God help me” She cried harder, gripping and clutching at Chakotay.

“Doctor we need you over here!” Chakotay held the distraught woman and watched his Kathryn over her shoulder.

The Doctor came in assessed the situation and quickly gave the Admiral a sedative. Chakotay laid her gently down on the bed that Kathryn had vacated. The Admiral clutched at his hand. “You married her, my Chakotay. You loved her not me, but it was wrong. She made you so unhappy. You were never the same.” She was drifting into sleep. “…Lost my angry warrior. Love you… always loved you.” Her eyes closed as the sedative took effect.

He looked down at this older version of the woman he loved. He gently wiped her tears and tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. How could he have even contemplated loving someone else? He wanted to scream, to hit something or someone. He looked up and Kathryn was staring at him. She was very disconcerted by her older self’s confession. She felt nothing for Chakotay or anyone for that matter, there was this whole foggy area within her. All she really felt was dismay at the thought of Seven’s betrayal.

The Doctor spoke up. “The modified nanoprobes are ready Captain. Could you lie down please?” He continued speaking as Kathryn moved to the other side of sickbay lay down on the bed. “I’ve included a mild sedative to relax you Captain. It should take about a half an hour for them to completely eradicate Seven’s nanoprobes from your system. You’ll most likely have a headache when you wake up, but we’ll deal with that when the time comes. Just relax.” He pressed the hypospray to the side of her neck and injected the contents. Her eyes closed.

Chakotay looked at the Doctor for reassurance. “She’ll be fine Commander. A couple of days of rest, a few good meals and she’ll be back to her determined, stubborn self. No doubt she’ll want to leave here the minute she wakes up.”

“Thankyou Doctor. Keep an eye on them both. I’ve someone I have to see. Computer what is the location of Seven of Nine”

“Seven of Nine is in Cargo Bay two” He tapped his comm. badge. “Chakotay to Tuvok”

“Tuvok here Commander” Came the prompt reply.

“Tuvok can you meet me outside Cargo Bay two and bring a security team. I’ll explain when I see you.” He took one last look at the two women he loved more than life and walked out the door.

He was in the turbo lift on his way to deck eight trying to contain his anger at himself and also at Seven. What in Gods name had made her do this, what was she trying to achieve? He didn’t know how he was going to retrieve this situation, what a fool he’d been. So easily flattered, his choice in women was almost as bad as Harry’s. He stepped out of the turbo lift just as his comm. badge beeped. “Tuvok to Commander Chakotay” He tapped his badge. “Chakotay here, what is it Tuvok?”

“There has been an unauthorized shuttle launch, it is Seven of Nine”

“Get a tractor beam on it Tuvok. Don’t let her get away” He jumped back into the lift and headed for the Bridge.

He rocketed out of the turbo lift. “Have we got that shuttle Tuvok?”

“We are unable to get a lock. She has reconfigured the shields to repel our tractor beam.” Tuvok was tapping at his console. “Commander, I am also unable to lock targeting scanners to transport. She is moving out of range.”

“Tom, follow her, don’t let her get away. Increase to warp 8, and stay with her” Chakotay took his seat and started reading information from his centre console.

Suddenly the ship shuddered and dropped out of warp.

“Our warp field has collapsed, and our impulse drive is offline” Tom was frantically trying to get the ship to move. “We only have manoeuvring thrusters. Sorry Commander there’s nothing I can do.”

“Bridge to engineering, B’Elanna what the hell is going on down there?” Chakotay leapt out of his seat watching the viewscreen as the shuttle jumped to warp and disappeared.

“I have no idea but it looks like Seven sabotaged the warp and impulse drives. It’s going to take some time to reinitialise the core and the relays for the impulse drive are fried. She knew what she was doing. There’s no way we are going to be going anywhere soon. petaQ!” The link closed with more klingon swearing and yelling.

“Harry keep that shuttle on sensors as long as you can. Tuvok call any off duty personnel to help B’Elanna in engineering. We will decide what to do when the Captain is up and about. I am heading back to sick bay; call me if you need anything. The bridge is yours.” Chakotay headed to the lift.

He arrived back in sick bay just as Kathryn was waking up. He moved to her side and waited for her to open her eyes. She looked up at him and smiled, it was the first real smile he had seen in months; it just confirmed what had been happening to her and how she’d been affected. A wave of self loathing over took him, he should have realised something was wrong. He tried to smile back but it was strained. Her smile however quickly faded to a grimace. “My head, what has he done to me. Doctor, I need something for my head please. Now!” Kathryn was trying to sit up.

“Captain please remain lying down, if you don’t want that headache to get any worse. I have an analgesic for you.” The Doctor pressed the hypo to her neck. “There that should help in a few minutes.”

“Thankyou Doctor” She rubbed at her temples. “That’s working already, can I leave now?” She smiled again at Chakotay. He smiled back.

“Captain I would like to keep you here for observation for an hour or so, then you may go back to your quarters and rest for the remainder of the day”

“I’ve work to do Doctor,” She looked at Chakotay as he raised his eyebrows and shook his head. “which I’ll delegate to my trusty First Officer while I rest in my quarters.” The Doctor harrumphed and moved into his office muttering about how Captains made the worst patients, and why should he have to put up with them he was a Doctor not a lion tamer.

Kathryn rolled her eyes at Chakotay then looked over at the other bio bed “How is she?”

“Still sedated, she probably won’t wake for a few more hours. Kathryn, how do you feel? Do you remember what happened?” Chakotay moved closer to her side.

“Yes I remember.” She looked away embarrassed, she knew they had to talk but her emotions were in turmoil at the moment. “To be honest I don’t feel quite up to talking about it right now and especially not here with the Doctor’s ears flapping. How about we talk later after we have things under control? OK?” She swung her legs over the side of the bed took a deep breath and the Captain returned. “Now, how is my ship Commander. Now is as good a time as any for a report.” God he loved this woman.

He was tempted to come to attention but smiled gently instead. “The ship is one piece. However, warp drive is down and impulse is off line at the moment, both are under repair. Shields and weapons are fully functional as are environmental systems. Not long after you were sedated; Seven stole a shuttle and took off at high warp. Harry is tracking her but she’ll move out of sensor range soon.” He softened his stance and looked at her. “What do you want to do? Should we pursue her or just let her go?” Kathryn frowned.

“I want to know why she did this, what she was hoping to achieve.” She looked up at him with deep hurt in her eyes “I’d like you to go down to the Cargo Bay and download all her logs from the last few months. Let’s see what she has been thinking and planning before we make any decisions.” She was rubbing her temples. The headache was back with a vengeance. “I’ll leave the ship in your capable hands while I follow the Doctor’s orders and rest.”

“Shall I bring the data from her logs here to you or would…..?” She was looking at him with raised eyebrows. “Ok stupid question. Try and get some rest and I’ll see you soon with her logs”

She gave him a nod and lay back down on the bed, her head was throbbing again. She opened her eyes to see the doors close behind Chakotay as he exited Sickbay.

She had a lot to think about, most of it involving a certain First Officer whom must now be well aware of her feelings for him. The Admiral was pretty overt about her feelings, and Kathryn’s had come rushing back with the removal of the nanoprobes. Maybe it wasn’t too late after all and if the Admiral’s plan to return to the Alpha Quadrant was successful, a whole new life awaited her.

Then she remembered Seven and her betrayal. It cut her deeply. Seven must have hated her so much. She usually was so detached and controlled it was hard to imagine her feeling this anger and contempt as deeply as she must have. What Kathryn couldn’t understand was why? Maybe her logs would enlighten them. Perhaps Chakotay had been right in the beginning about her inability to find her humanity. Chakotay’s fable about the scorpion came to mind. Perhaps betrayal was too deeply ingrained in her nature and she was irretrievable from the beginning. She took a calming breath. It didn’t help her head. It felt like it was about to explode; the pain was pulsing behind her eyes. “Doctor are you there?” She had to keep her eyes closed; even the dim lighting was exacerbating the agony. “Doctor, where the h….”

“I am right here Captain no need for expletives. I take it your head is causing you some trouble.” She felt the cold metal on her neck, a comforting hiss and then the slow receding of the pain. “Thankyou Doctor, I do appreciate everything that you’ve done.” The Doctor must be devastated; he’d held Seven very close to his heart. She turned towards the EMH “Doctor, are you alright? This must have come as shock to you as well.”

He gave a sad smile. “I am not sure what to feel Captain. I, like you, don’t understand why she’d do this. It seems so out of character, she seemed very happy here and was progressing so well with her socialisation. I hate the thought of her out there on her own.” The Doctor seemed close to tears.

“I’m sorry Doctor, we are all feeling very upset at the moment. I think I’ll rest for a while, that analgesic seems to be working.” She was close to tears herself, and certainly didn’t want to cry in front of the Doctor. She closed her eyes to avoid anymore talk. She must have dosed off because the next thing she knew Chakotay was at her bedside with a padd in his hand. “Hi there” her voice was very rough from sleep. “Pass me that water will you please. Thankyou” She took a few sips. It did help her throat but also was a convenient delaying tactic. There are some things you really just don’t want to know. Chakotay didn’t look happy and that did not bode well. “Ok Commander what do you have? Do they explain her motives” Kathryn was indicating the padd.

“Do you want to read it or should I just give you the overview.” Chakotay wasn’t happy at all. Angry was more like it. He’d been manipulated more times that he cared to admit. He felt like a fool.

“The general gist of it will do for now. I’ll read the full report when my head is better.”

He blew out a breath. “It was revenge. She blamed you for the loss of Unimatrix Zero and her lover Axum. She intended you to suffer the same fate.” He was having trouble looking at her.

Kathryn decided to help him out. “She wanted me to lose the person I loved, much the same way she had lost her love. I took Axum away from her; she was taking you away from me. Did she succeed?” She looked him steadily in the eye. Now was not the time to be coy.

“No Kathryn she didn’t and she never would have, not permanently anyway. I’m sorry, I should’ve been more aware. I look at my history and I’ve always been incredibly gullible. Not very discerning as far as women are concerned.” He took her hand. “Except for one. Can you forgive me for being such a fool?” He bent down and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“There is nothing to forgive Chakotay. I’m not surprised you couldn’t tell the difference between the old me and the nanoprobe affected me. I’ve become so shut down over the years that I find it hard to express my emotions anymore. No more though. Chakotay, I love you, have for years. I really should’ve told you long before this, but better late than never, huh?” She looked up at him, shrugged her shoulders and smiled. “It’s alright if you don’t feel the same, it was just important for me to tell you, for her sake” Kathryn looked towards the Admiral. “But also for me. I’ve kept the knowledge of my feelings deep inside me for so long. They’re long overdue for an airing” She sat up a bit. “I actually do feel better for telling you. You don’t mind too much do you? Is this going to make things awkward?”

“No Kathryn. Not unless you have a problem with me kissing you and telling you that I love you too. I promise I won’t do it in front of the crew but in private it’s going to be a free for all. Ok with you?”

“Absolutely. Do you think I could have one of those kisses now? There is no-one here and I feel like I need to seal this bargain before something else happens to thwart us.” He bent over and touched his lips to hers. It was a gentle kiss that held promise. She cupped his cheek and smiled at him. He tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear.

“That was nice. I am looking forward to that ‘free for all’ later, it sounds like fun.” They both laughed, relieved and happy.

Their laughter woke the Admiral. Kathryn climbed down from the bed with Chakotay’s help. He put his arm around her, mainly to support her but also to keep her close. They made their way to the Admiral’s bed. Kathryn took her hand

“How are you feeling? Would you like something to drink?” The Admiral tried to sit up a bit, Chakotay gave her a hand.

“I’m fine, thankyou. I would like to apologise for my outburst earlier. I must have made you very uncomfortable, I’m sorry.” Kathryn and Chakotay looked at each other then back at the Admiral.

“Actually I think we should be thanking you. If you hadn’t come back we would never have found out what Seven of Nine had done. By the way the Doctor checked you over, there are no nanoprobes or residual damage in your brain. They must have been removed some time ago.” The Admiral looked sad.

“Yes, I can almost pin point the exact moment. It was a couple of months from now, your time, Seven and Chakotay had just told me of their relationship. I didn’t feel a thing. I remember your face Chakotay, you looked so sad, but you said you loved her and wanted to make a go of it.” She blinked tears away. “The next day I was injured in engineering, knocked out when a relay blew. I woke up in sickbay with Seven hovering over me. She asked me how I was and then left. It was then that I realised all that I’d allowed to slip through my fingers. I was devastated. It was only a matter of weeks before you came to me and asked me to marry you and Seven. I was destroyed, but I put on a brave face and married you. I was never the same and Chakotay you weren’t either. You were never happy with her. B’Elanna filled me in several years later. Apparently once you were married Seven must have fulfilled her mission and wanted nothing more to do with you. It was a lonely time for all of us.

Seven died in a fall on an away mission 2 years after your marriage, a tragic death but fortunately quick. She died in your arms. You blamed me for sending her. Our relationship had been strained since your marriage but after this we rarely spoke. It wasn’t until many years later that we managed to mend our fences and establish a kind of rapport. I was with you when you died. It was only on your deathbed that we told each other how we really felt. That’s why I had to come back, to save you all, to save us. I had no idea we had all been manipulated so expertly. She was the consummate actress, but in the end it was my fault. I should’ve listened to you Chakotay right at the beginning when you said to me that she was not able to be rehabilitated. I’m far too stubborn for my own good. Chakotay looked back and forth between the two women and smiled. “You won’t get any argument from me.” Kathryn rolled her eyes and then smiled at him.

The Admiral was looking at the pair in front of her and it wasn’t difficult to see that the nature of their relationship had changed dramatically. She was pleased. Happy that this Kathryn didn’t have to live through the misery and anguish she’d had to endure. Now if they could get the ship home in one piece her life will have had purpose and her younger self could live the life they both should have had. She hoped she would meet her Chakotay after death. He had promised her on his deathbed that he would wait for her and they would travel the after life together. She was ready; they just had to come up with a plan.

After some debate they decided not pursue Seven, her shuttle had gone out of sensor range long before their warp drive was repaired and finding her would’ve been next to impossible. Kathryn felt in many ways responsible for Seven’s unhappiness and hoped she could find her way back to Axum.

In the end the plan they concocted to return to the Alpha Quadrant was brilliant. Not only would they get home they would also strike a crippling blow to the Borg. It was an exceptional plan, devised by two exceptional women.

They would return to the Borg Transwarp Hub they had passed several weeks before and use one of the conduits to get home. The Admiral would be injected with Icheb’s neurolytic pathogen and carry the virus to the Borg Queen. The subsequent havoc would create a diversion allowing Voyager to escape. They would use a series of transphasic torpedos courtesy of the Admiral, to destroy the hub behind them. It was risky but both Kathryn and the Admiral were confidant that they had a better than good chance of succeeding.

The morning of their return to Earth, Kathryn met with the Admiral in her shuttle. She injected the neurolytic agent into her future self and bid her goodbye. The Admiral was content. The outcome of her trip through time had been a success. This Kathryn Janeway would have her Chakotay and not have to endure the years of unhappiness their estrangement had caused. She looked at the face of her younger self. “Captain….I’m glad I got to know you again.” They looked at one another, no words were necessary. Kathryn turned and left. Chakotay was waiting for her outside the shuttle bay, it had been a stressful time and he was there by her side supporting her as always. The plan was in place and if all went well they should be back in the Alpha Quadrant by lunchtime.

Hard to comprehend really and worrying as well. He would rest easier when he knew what the fate of the Maquis was to be and that of the Equinox crew. His greatest concern was Kathryn. She had bent, stretched and in some cases turned the Prime Directive inside out to protect her crew over the years. There was no guarantee that some pompous prig from the Admiralty might decide to make an example of her.

Kathryn seemed unconcerned about her future but he did not trust Starfleet. He had been witness to their betrayals and was wary. However there was nothing to be done about it at the moment and they would face that hurdle when they came to it, there were far bigger things on the immediate horizon to deal with first.

The plan went off without a hitch, although they did give Starfleet a few palpitations when they emerged from the transwarp conduit in the bowels of a Borg sphere. Kathryn spoke briefly to Admiral Paris and then quietly thanked Admiral Janeway for her help. Only Chakotay heard her, he added his silent thanks and his love and hoped that she and her Chakotay were at last together.

Sitting side by side they both watched the viewscreen as Earth loomed larger and larger on the screen. Kathryn stood up and turned to Chakotay. “Commander could I see you in my ready room” He rose from his seat and followed her.

“Coffee Chakotay? I thought we should save the champagne until later.” She beamed a smile at him.

“Coffee would be fine. Thankyou.” She handed him a cup.

“Come and sit down. We’ve some things to discuss before we’re overrun by Starfleet Brass and God knows who else.” She sat down on her couch and patted the seat next to her. He sat close to her and she took his hand.

“Chakotay I know you’ve been concerned about what’s going to happen once we’re home. Admiral Paris has assured me that the Maquis are free. There’ll be no charges laid and commissions for all the crew will stand. He’s also intimated that any of the ex- Maquis who wish to stay on in Starfleet will be given priority for any position they apply for. Some of us may even be up for promotion.” She looked sideways at him. “How does Captain Chakotay sound?” He was flabbergasted.

“When did all this happen Kathryn? I had no idea. I’ve been worried sick about what was going to happen once we arrived.” He was astounded but also extremely relieved especially for his Maquis crew. He had been willing sacrifice himself if it meant keeping them out of jail. But Kathryn as usual seemed to have things well in hand.

“I’ve been negotiating with Starfleet Command and the Federation Council for several months nutting out this deal. I’m pretty happy with how things have turned out.” He was watching her and he knew there was something she wasn’t telling him.

“Kathryn, what about you? What is this ‘deal’ you are speaking of? Tell me that you haven’t done something stupid.” He knew her too well. She knew she’d have to tell him sooner or later, now was as good a time as any.

“I’ve resigned my commission.”

“You’ve what? Kathryn please tell me this wasn’t part of the deal. You haven’t thrown your career away to save us. The crew won’t stand for it you know. There will be huge fallout from this.” She was smiling at him and shaking her head.

“No Chakotay. It was not part of the deal. In fact they wanted to promote me to Admiral but I declined.” She turned slightly and sat back against the couch, still holding his hand. She let her head fall back. She blew out a breath. “I’m tired Chakotay. Exhausted. I’ve achieved what I set out to do, with a lot of help mind you, but this odyssey is over. I just want to be able to relax, totally, without anything hanging over my head. No responsibilities. This has been an extraordinary seven years and I figure that nothing I could ever do in Starfleet will ever rival it. So, I’ve decided to leave on a high note.” She turned and looked at him. “Can you honestly imagine me behind a desk, shuffling papers and writing protocol? I certainly can’t. I’ve seen a glimpse of the possible future me and, well, I want to take a different path. Can you understand this? You’re not too disappointed that you won’t be an Admiral’s consort?” She had a wicked twinkle in her eye and she waggled her eyebrows at him.

He laughed, again relieved that everything was above board. He sidled close to her and put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. “You’re right. I can’t imagine you behind a desk, you would go crazy in a week, and then proceed to drive all those around you insane. You’re right everyone is better off, it was very thoughtful of you.” She dug her elbow into his side. “Ouch. Well it’s true, you’re a nightmare when you are bored.” He caressed the side of her face. “And no Kathryn I’m not disappointed that I won’t be an Admiral’s consort. I’d be much happier just being Kathryn Janeway’s husband, if she’d have me?” He swung around and knelt in front of her, holding both of her hands in his. “Kathryn Janeway, light of my life will you marry me. An ex-Maquis rebel soon to be Starfleet Captain who loves you with all his heart and soul? Kathryn Janeway will you be mine?” She had this overwhelming urge to laugh, he looked so earnest and solemn. This was how she had always imagined their homecoming and she was so grateful to the Admiral for saving them. Here before her was her life. She leant forward and gently touched her lips to his. She pulled back and placed her hand on his beloved face.

“Chakotay I’ve always been yours and yes I’d love to marry you. I love you.”

“Yes, yes, yes.” He jumped up and grabbed her off the couch and swung her around. Stopping he bent his head to hers and took her mouth in a searing kiss that took her breath away.

“Tuvok to Captain Janeway” They pulled apart and rested their foreheads together. Chakotay was chuckling quietly. Kathryn reached up and put her fingers over his mouth to silence him. She gave him a stern look, but he was almost beyond it.

“Janeway here, what is it Tuvok?” She tried to duck under Chakotay’s arm but he wasn’t letting her escape. She finished up turning in his arms so her back was to his front.

“Captain, Admiral Paris and a delegation from the Federation Council are ready to beam aboard. I thought you and the Commander would want to meet them in the Transporter room.” Chakotay was kissing her neck and nibbling her earlobe. It made it very difficult to think, let alone talk coherently. She held his head to her with one hand to still him.

“That’s fine Tuvok. We’ll be there in a moment. Tell the Admiral I’m looking forward to seeing him.”

“Aye Captain.”

“Chakotay you’re evil.” She turned to face him again. “We have to go, my love. We’ll continue this later, I promise.” He let her slide out of his arms, but she took his hand. “Maybe I can have a quiet word to Owen about a certain ceremony taking place before all the crew leave. What do you think?”

“It sounds perfect. I love you.” He tugged her hand and started leading her towards the doors. “Let’s go and greet our guests, Captain.”

“After you Commander.” He turned to her just before the doors opened. He cupped her face in both his hands and looked deeply into her eyes. “Welcome home Kathryn” Her face broke into a delighted smile, she hooked her arm through his and they marched out the doors.