Homecoming | Chapter 27 of 32

Author: Christie Golden | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 2320 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter 16

SEVEN WENT ALONG QUIETLY, though anger and confusion smoldered inside her. She feared for her aunt’s safety if she failed to comply and knew that it would not take long for Admiral Janeway to hear about the incident. Seven had done absolutely nothing wrong, and despite repeated queries, none of the guards would tell her what she was charged with. She had stayed at Irene Hansen’s house from the moment she arrived home. Whatever she was accused of, it was false, and surely she would be released soon.

She held her fair head high as they marched her down a corridor to a holding cell. She paid no attention to the other prisoners, but heard a gasp and a cry of “Seven!” Turning, she was startled to see the Doctor imprisoned in a cell across the corridor.

[195] “You two know each other?” one of the guards said. “Well, you’ll have plenty of time to chat.” He keyed in a code and the forcefield dropped. Seven stepped inside. There was a hum as the field was reactivated. The two guards left.

“Seven, what’s happened?” the Doctor cried. “Why are you in prison?”

“I do not know. They will not tell me what I am accused of. What are the charges you face?”

“I’m not sure what exactly, but they think I’m somehow connected with the holographic uprising.”

Seven arched a blond eyebrow. “Are you?”

“Of course not!” he huffed. He glanced away from her, though, as he added, “I did speak to the ringleader, I admitted as much. And I was working on a holonovel based on a holographic revolution, but it was purely a work of fiction. I am beginning to think that Starfleet and the Federation have changed a great deal from the institutions with which we are familiar.”

“I am utterly unfamiliar with them, and had I known what awaited me I believe I might have left Voyager before it returned to Federation space.”

“A sentiment I’m beginning to share,” said the Doctor. “I’ve spoken with Admiral Janeway. I’m sure she’s doing everything she can to—”

Seven followed his shocked gaze and realized why he had stopped in midsentence.

When she saw Icheb shuffling slowly toward her prison cell, two armed guards poking him in the back, Seven couldn’t completely stifle a cry of alarm. He ran to her and she hugged him, then stepped back to stare [196] at his swollen face. Fury raged in her and she whirled on the guards.

“He is only an adolescent boy,” she cried. “Was it necessary to enact such violence upon him?”

The guards bridled and started to speak, but Icheb spoke first. “Seven, they didn’t hurt me.”

“Then who did?”

He looked away, unable to meet her fierce, protective gaze. “Some cadets at the Academy. They said something about me being Borg.”

“The boy requires medical assistance,” the Doctor snapped. “You should have attended to his injuries first.”

“There was nothing life-threatening,” said one of the guards. “Don’t worry, you’ll both be seeing the doctor here soon.” Without further comment, they stepped outside and the forcefield crackled as it snapped back into place.

“What happened, Icheb?” asked Seven. “Please explain.”

Slowly, haltingly, Icheb recounted the incident. Seven and the Doctor listened without interrupting. She pressed him on the Borg comments, but Icheb could recall nothing of substance. Seven latched on to the one thing that might provide enlightenment.

“Tim said something about overhearing a message his father received,” she said. “What is his father’s occupation?”

“I do not know for certain,” Icheb said. His voice was slurred because of his swollen mouth. Seven again felt a rush of anger. It was uncharacteristically cruel of Starfleet security not to have treated Icheb’s wounds.

[197] There might not be anything life-threatening, but he was deliberately being permitted to suffer, and it infuriated her.

“Tim has never been allowed to tell us much. His father works for Starfleet security, possibly on a very high level. It could be that he received information about a Borg attack that has not yet been made public.”

Seven had come to the same conclusion, but it made little sense to her. If there had been a Borg attack, the expedient course would be to immediately mount a counterattack. Nothing would be gained by keeping such knowledge secret and not acting upon it. That was a certain path to assimilation. But if the Borg were somehow involved, she suddenly knew why she had been accosted in her own home, forcibly and probably illegally removed, and why frightened cadets would turn so viciously on a friend. Fear of the Borg was a dreadful thing, and unfortunately, a logical response to a profoundly dangerous threat.

She changed the subject as she examined his face. “The security guards were correct, though it was hardly a qualified medical assessment,” she said. “I do not believe that you are damaged beyond repair.”

His bruised mouth curved into a smile at her choice of words, and almost at once he winced from the pain. Seven felt a pang, but did not change her expression. It would not assist Icheb to display excessive pity for his condition.

“The body’s not what hurts so bad,” he said softly, barely loud enough for her to hear.

She knew exactly what he meant. “It is difficult [198] when those we have come to care for appear to have turned against us,” she said. It was not fair for Icheb to have to have suffered this even once, let alone twice in his short lifetime. First his parents had betrayed him, and now his youthful colleagues had physically damaged him.

“Do you think they’ll let us go?” he asked.

“I have insufficient data to predict their response,” Seven replied. “I was, however, in communication with Commander Chakotay at the precise time that security came to Aunt Irene’s house. It is likely he will attempt to intervene on our behalf.”

“And Admiral Janeway knows about my situation, at least,” added the Doctor. “I’m sure she’ll find out about you two as well.”

“Commander Tuvok stopped the—” Icheb obviously couldn’t bring himself to say the negative words “attack” or “beating,” so he said no word at all. “He stopped it, so I know he knew what was happening.”

“So, Commanders Tuvok and Chakotay are aware of the situation. It is likely that they will notify Admiral Janeway. Do not get too comfortable, Icheb,” she said, attempting to tease. “I do not think we will be here for much longer.” She looked over at the Doctor, expecting a witty confirmation of her statement, but he said nothing. And she saw doubt in his dark holographic eyes.

 

Icheb was permitted to see the doctor first. He returned looking whole and healthy once more, his injuries healed. But the way he carried himself communicated to Seven that the wounds he had incurred at the hands of [199] his new collective of cadets had gone far deeper than mere damage to his flesh. Outrage flashed through her as she thought about it. Starfleet cadets were supposed to be the finest representatives of their generation. They were supposed to be tolerant, compassionate, protective of the weak. And yet, how viciously they had turned on their own at the mere thought of a Borg threat.

She still had not been told why she and Icheb had been incarcerated. They were treated well enough, and she was more pleased and moved than she wanted to admit that they were able to talk with the Doctor. Seven knew she had to present a strong, confident front for Icheb’s sake as well as her own. He was watching her now more intently than ever he had before, and she needed to do all she could to reassure him. Having the Doctor to talk to helped her to maintain her proud, fearless façade, and she was grateful.

One of the guards approached and deactivated the forcefield. “Please come with me,” he said.

“Where are we going?”

“You’re to see Dr. Kaz.”

She glanced back at Icheb, who gave her the first hint of a smile that she had gotten from him since the entire absurd and unjust affair began, and went quietly.

 

Dr. Jarem Kaz was a Trill. He turned to look at her with large, friendly blue eyes and a smile that appeared genuine. He was tall and well built, approaching middle age. His spots were quite dark and were clustered closer to the hairline than was usual with his species.

“Please, come in and sit down,” he said. Seven eyed [200] him, trying to take his measure. Since Icheb had given her a reassuring smile while she was being led to see him, Kaz was therefore someone she was inclined not to negatively prejudge.

Her initial positive impression of him was further heightened when he turned brusquely to the lingering guard and said, “Thank you, that will do. I’ll take care of her,” and all but pushed him out the door. When the door hissed closed behind the guard, Kaz sighed and shook his head. He turned back to Seven.

“I’m Dr. Jarem Kaz,” he said.

She didn’t answer.

“You aren’t monitored here,” he said. “Not that I expect you to speak freely, but I wanted you to know.”

Seven lifted a golden eyebrow. “Thank you,” she said stiffly.

“I must apologize for the red tape that kept Icheb in pain for so long,” he said, picking up a medical tricorder and beginning to scan her. “There’s no excuse for that. I’ve recommended that he be allowed to speak to a counselor if he chooses. I understand that the people who beat him so badly were fellow Starfleet cadets.”

Seven said nothing to confirm or deny his statement. He paused, as if waiting for her to speak, then continued.

“Bad business, that. Fear makes people do cruel things, things they’ll be ashamed of later.”

“Such as bringing in Federation citizens and holding them without charges or counsel,” said Seven.

Kaz nodded and sighed again. “Such as that,” he agreed. “Well, if I keep running my mouth, then they’ll probably toss me in with you.”

[201] She looked at him hard. “Is that truly a possibility?” she inquired.

He laughed. “No, I’m just teasing you.” He looked at his tricorder and frowned. “It appears your ocular implant is out of alignment.”

He approached with a tool but she ducked back. “How do you know how to correct it?” she demanded.

“I’ve read everything the Doctor has reported on you and Icheb,” he said. “I’ve only just finished, which is one of the reasons I’m unforgivably late in seeing you. I should have been allowed to see Icheb sooner, though; his injuries had nothing to do with his being Borg.”

“He is no longer part of the collective,” Seven said, “and neither am I.”

“I understand the difference,” said Dr. Kaz. “I won’t try to adjust this if you don’t want me to. The misalignment is minor and it’s not a vital implant.”

Seven thought about it. Jarem Kaz struck her as a good person, better than she had expected. Only the Doctor had actual experience adjusting her implants, so even with someone she trusted, it would be a risk. She did not think that Kaz would attempt to harm her in any way, and even if he did, she would be able to react before he did any lasting damage.

“You may proceed,” she said at length.

“Thank you,” he said, and began his adjustment.

“Perhaps this will eliminate the unusual sensations I have been experiencing,” said Seven.

“What kind of sensations?”

“It is a slight hum,” she said. “Almost like voices, but not quite.”

[202] Kaz froze for an instant, then continued. “Is it anything like you experienced when you were joined with the collective?”

“No,” said Seven promptly. “We were linked clearly to the hive mind. There was no confusion whatsoever. If there was any attempt by the Queen to give instructions they were, as a friend of mine would say, crystal clear. This is much fainter, much more incoherent.”

“Do you think someone might be trying to activate your implants?”

Suddenly realizing what he was asking, Seven grabbed his wrist.

“Seven, you’re hurting me,” said Kaz quietly, making no attempt to free himself.

She loosened her viselike grip but did not release him. “Why are you asking such questions?”

“You told me you were getting some kind of reception with your implants,” he said. “I was merely theorizing.”

“There is something going on with the Borg,” said Seven, knowing she should wait until she had legal counsel, but also suspecting that that might take a long time. “This is why Icheb and I were brought here. Tell me what is transpiring. I have no cause to love the Borg, Dr. Kaz. My loyalties lie with Admiral Janeway and what she represents. I would be pleased to assist, but I resent being thrown into prison without even knowing what I am accused of.”

“Let me go, Seven,” said Kaz. She did so, and he took a step back, rubbing his reddening arm. “You understand that I am bound by orders,” he said.

“I do,” Seven replied.

[203] “I have determined from examining you that you are not ... not what they think. That you are not doing what they think, nor is Icheb. I will do what I can to release you. But you’re going to have to assist me in return.”

“How?”

“I will tell the guards that you are not well and that your situation needs monitoring. That any time you wish to see me, day or night, you must be allowed to do so. And I want you to promise that you’ll come talk to me if anything changes with your implants.”

She eyed him. “You will be forced to tell them what you know,” she said.

“I will,” he said. “But the more I know about what’s going on with you, the more I can help you.”

“Why do you want to help me?”

“I told you. I’ve just examined you and I know that you’re innocent of ... what they suspect. I wish I could say more, but I have my orders, as I have said. I know I’m asking you to trust me based on nothing, and it’s your call.”

Seven reached to touch her facial implant. “You have not corrected the problem,” she said, slightly accusingly.

“I have indeed realigned your implant,” he said, “but it would seem that’s not what’s causing the problem.”

She was silent; then she rose. “If you have completed your exam, I should return to my cell.”

His blue eyes searched hers. Finally he said, “Very well. I will call your guard. Remember what I’ve told you, and be careful what you say and whom you trust.”

* * *

[204] Seven assumed that the two guards would escort her back to her cell. Instead, they took her to a turbolift, which, after a long interval, opened directly into a small, dark room. Seven threw her shoulders back. She knew what was about to happen.

One of the guards prodded her with a phaser. She stepped forward. Immediately the doors hissed closed behind her. She was in utter darkness.

“Seven of Nine,” came a cool male voice in the darkness. “I imagine you know what you’re here for.”

“I am here to be interrogated,” she said, keeping her voice as cool and unemotional as that of the stranger in the dark room.

“And why do you think that is?”

“I have no idea. I submitted to a full debriefing when Voyager returned to Federation space. I will be amenable to answering fully and honestly any questions you have for me, despite the fact that you are holding me with no charges.” She lifted her chin, although it was too dark for anyone to see the defiant gesture. “I have nothing to hide.”

“Brave words. But I think they’re lies. I think you know something you’re not telling. And I think I know how to get that information out of you.”

Hands came out of the darkness. Several of them, all strong. Seven struggled instinctively but they overcame her. She was shoved into a chair. She heard a clang and felt metal close about her body, leaving only her head free.

“If you do not resist,” came another voice, this one soft and feminine, “this will not hurt. I have no desire to cause you pain.”

[205] Out of the darkness came the touch of fingers, curiously warm and gentle. They positioned themselves on her skull. Her mind slid open like a door and she felt the Vulcan’s presence inside.

“And of course,” said the first voice, chuckling a little, “we all know that resistance is futile. Don’t we, Borg?”

The Vulcan dove deeper into her mind. As if from a great distance, Seven heard the Vulcan’s emotionless voice recite details from Seven’s life as if reading from a not-very-interesting report.

After a time, the interrogator probed more deeply, into things Seven did not wish to share with strangers, and she felt the first few flickers of pain.

And when the Vulcan began to speak about the ravens, Seven started to scream.

 

Little Kevin Johnson whimpered in his sleep. Above him, a small mobile revolved, emitting soft nursery music. Inside his crib, the toddler tossed and turned. Beneath tightly shut lids, his eyes darted back and forth. His cheeks flushed, then paled, then flushed again. But he did not awaken.

Inside his body, racing along his veins, something alien went about its programmed duty. Microscopically tiny, perfectly constructed machines came to life, replicated, latched on to blood cells. With each passing second, more and more of them appeared and began systematically replacing human anatomy with machine.

And on his soft, fragile baby’s cheek, a spidery Borg implant erupted.

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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