A Fire of Devotion: Part 1 of 4: Louder Than Sirens: Chapter Six

Chapter Six

Two weeks later…

“So, that made, what, our third encounter with the Hirogen in the past month?” Neelix said as he set down a tray of various snack foods on the mess hall table where Tom Paris, B’Elanna Torres, Joe Carey, Vorik, and Chell were seated.

“That is correct,” Vorik said.
“At least we don’t have to worry too much about being overwhelmed by them,” Chell said, already reaching for the food. “The reports I read said they are very nomadic and spread out. This past month seems like more of an oddity than common occurrence as far as they are concerned. They might be more dangerous overall, but I don’t really feel any more concerned about them than I was over the Kazon or the Vidiians.”

“You know,” Tom said. “With the benefit of hindsight I’m starting to wonder how the Kazon were ever able to hurt us as much as they did. Put bluntly, they were kind of stupid.”

“Seven of Nine once told me that the Borg actually considered them unworthy of assimilation,” Neelix said. That elicited a laugh from everyone at the table, except for Vorik, who raised an eyebrow.

“Ouch,” B’Elanna said. “I wonder if the Kazon they encountered were actually insulted by that.”
“Next time I see her,” Carey said. “I should ask Seven if any other races were ever rejected for assimilation like that. If it turns out the Kazon are the only ones so far that’ll only make that story even funnier.”

The sound of the door to the mess hall opening caught Neelix’s attention, and he turned to look at who was entering.
“This might be your chance to ask, Mr. Carey,” he said.
“Seven! Sam!” Tom yelled. “Care to join us?”
Seven of Nine and Samantha Wildman, who had walked into the mess hall holding hands, looked at each other. Samantha shrugged, and Seven nodded, and the two took seats next to the others at the long table.
“Neelix, do you have any of those Creterakian onion rings left? Those were amazing,” Samantha said. Seven nodded, smiling slightly.
“Indeed,” she said. “Among the many food items I have sampled since my removal from the collective, I’d say those by far have been the most appealing.”

Samantha frowned. “Uh, excuse me? How many times have I cooked for you?”
Seven tilted her head slightly. “Four. However, I would point out that I cannot give a fair assessment as to the taste of those meals, given my biases towards the preparer.” Neelix wasn’t entirely sure, but he thought he saw Seven winking at Samantha when she said that.
“Good save,” Tom muttered. Neelix had to suppress a laugh at that one. Samantha simply sighed, shaking her head slightly.
“I’ll find some way to make you pay for that, Annie.”
“I look forward to it,” Seven said.

“Maybe you should start using those onions in your cooking, Ensign,” B’Elanna said. “If we have any left that is.”
“I’m afraid we’ll have to wait on that,” Neelix said. “The next crop is already planted in aeroponics, but it’ll be months before they’ll be full grown, let alone edible. And the batch I had from before has already been used up. Even I’m amazed at how well the dishes I used them in went over. I am glad I was able to get a decent supply of seeds before Kes threw us to the other side of Borg space.”

“It might be possible to replicate more,” Seven said. “I do not know of any inherent trait to the onions that would prevent the taste from carrying over.”
“Eh, it’s not the same,” Carey said. “I mean, I know most people can’t taste the difference between organically grown and replicated food, but I always could.”
“Most of the time I can’t,” Chell said. “Except for fruits though. For some reason when it’s fruit I can always tell.”
“I can usually tell with Klingon food,” B’Elanna said. “Though maybe it’s purely psychological, who knows. I don’t think anyone’s ever gotten around to really studying that.”

“While on its face,” Vorik said. “That would seem to be a waste of time and resources, history has shown a number of hugely beneficial technologies, medicines, etcetera that were accidentally discovered while in the process of researching something unrelated. Perhaps we should conduct such a study ourselves.”
“Hmm. I don’t think that would work,” Neelix said. “We’d need a large sample size of people who didn’t grow up on replicated food. Right now, you only have me, but after four years I think that if there ever were any differences, my palate has already adapted.”
Vorik’s eyebrow went up. “That is an excellent point. I had not considered that.”
“It’s not a bad idea,” B’Elanna said. “But let’s table it for now. Maybe we can think of another approach to it later on. It’s not high priority though.”
More people began entering the mess hall. Neelix stood up, and straightened his apron.
“Well, it’s been fun chatting with you all, but it looks like it’s back to work for me,” he said.

“So,” Tom Paris said, shortly after Neelix had left the table. “I’ve been meaning to ask. How is Voyager’s newest couple doing?” He motioned towards Samantha and Seven. The two simply looked at each other, both of them smiling. Seven let out a small chuckle, a noise that up until now only Samantha had ever heard. Samantha rested her chin on her hands.
“We are doing fine Tom, thank you,” she said. “And that’s all you’re getting out of me.”
“And me as well,” Seven said. “Suffice it to say, I am quite satisfied with the current situation.”
“Well don’t do too well,” Tom said in a joking tone of voice. “If you two beat me and B’Elanna for cutest Voyager couple we might have to have you killed.”
“You could try, Mr. Paris,” Seven said, completely deadpan. “My senses and strength aren’t what they were when I was a drone, but they are still considerably higher than a normal human’s.”
Samantha sipped from her cup of coffee, then added. “Besides Tom, you say that as though we don’t already have you outclassed.”
B’Elanna laughed so loud that crewmembers at the other tables stopped what they were doing to look towards them. Vorik sighed slightly.
“I doubt I will ever truly understand human humor,” he said. Chell shrugged.
“I rather like it actually,” he said. “Better than Bolian humor even, and we can be pretty damn funny when we want to be.”

“Well, while you four have your little contest going,” Joe Carey said, standing up. “I believe Mr. Vorik and I have work to do in engineering.”
“We would be early,” Vorik said. “But I see no reason not to start now.” He stood up as well, taking one last drink of his tea before following Carey out of the mess hall.

Seven of Nine turned her head to look at Samantha as the two walked down the corridor, hand in hand, towards astrometrics.
“While I am 99% certain it was all in jest,” she said, “we aren’t actually involved in any competition with Lieutenants Paris and Torres are we?”

Samantha snorted out a quick laugh.
“No, no, oh god no,” she said. She looked up briefly. “Though, we probably would win. If we were. Just sayin’.”
“Would that still apply had I not changed into my current outfit as opposed to the one I was given when I first came aboard? That, ‘hideous silver cat suit,’ I believe you called it?”

Samantha gave a clearly exaggerated shudder.
“Never mention that outfit again,” she said. “Seriously, what was the Doctor thinking when he designed that thing?”

“I did not think to ask,” Seven admitted. “At the time it seemed irrelevant. Though now, I wonder what I would look like in a proper Starfleet uniform.”
“I bet you’d look great. Especially in science blues like mine. In fact…” Samantha stopped walking, and began to remove her Starfleet issue jacket.
“Here, let’s see how this looks on you,” she said. Seven stood still while Samantha put it on her.
“It’s a bit tight,” Seven said.
“Well, I am shorter and less, um, endowed than you. But I think it looks good on you. We get one that’s more your size, and I bet you’ll look fantastic.”

“You aren’t that much shorter than me, but I see your point. I shall speak to the Captain at the next opportunity,” Seven said. “For now though, I must attend to my duties in astrometrics. I shall see you tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow? Why- oh, right, you need to recharge in your alcove, I forgot it had been that long already.”
Seven smiled as she handed Samantha back her uniform jacket. The two continued walking down the corridor.
“Are you on the bridge today?” Seven said.
“Tomorrow,” Samantha said. “I don’t actually remember who has that station today, but as for me, I’ll be in the lab.”
“Very well,” Seven said.

“Oh, and before I forget,” Samantha said. “Naomi has started a new holonovel that she’s really into, so don’t be surprised if she doesn’t drop by to see either of us today.”
Seven nodded. “One of us should make sure she remembers to eat a proper meal today,” she said.
“Today shouldn’t be too busy. Perhaps we’ll have time to go together.”
“I’ll need to run it by the Captain first, but I see no reason why that can’t happen.”

Once they reached the door to astrometrics, the two shared a quick kiss before parting ways for the day. “I love you,“ Seven whispered into Samantha’s ear.
“Love you too,” Samantha said before turning to walk away. Seven quietly watched Samantha until she’d turned to go down another corridor, then proceeded to enter astrometrics.

What are they doing? Seven of Nine thought. She looked at the results of her recent long range scans. They were weeks away even at high warp, but she’d spotted several Hirogen ships, clustered together. While her knowledge on the race was far from extensive, this behavior seemed atypical.

She was entering a note on her PADD to look into the matter further when Captain Janeway entered astrometrics.
“Captain,” Seven said with a polite nod.
“How are things going down here, Seven?” Janeway said.
“Fine. There are some anomalous readings I’ve found, but we are still too far away for enough data to form a hypothesis. I imagine within a few days we will be close enough to acquire the needed data. I would’ve included that in my daily report. May I ask why you’ve come to astrometrics in person?”

“I’ll be frank with you, Seven. I have some, concerns, regarding your relationship with Ensign Wildman.”
“Concerns?”
“Seven, I understand that over the past few weeks, you’ve risked burning out on several occasions, waiting until the last moment to recharge in your alcove.”
“That is an exaggeration Captain,” Seven said. “The ‘last moment’ as you put it would already be too late, as by that time I would likely be falling unconscious and therefore unable to enter the alcove under my own power. I admit that of late I will go long enough between recharges that I will be tired and not operating at peak efficiency, and I will even admit that I do this in order to maximize the amount of time I can spend with Sam. But I am not endangering myself, or this ship, with my actions.”
Captain Janeway simply stood there for a moment, looking stern.
“Well,” she finally said. “I appreciate your honesty. I must admit, I was expecting you to deny what you were doing, or even make excuses for it. Honestly, I should’ve known better. And you are right that I exaggerated, but not as much as you think. I’ve spoken to the Doctor, and he shares my concerns.”
“I could request an alteration in my schedule, if that would allay your concerns Captain.”
“That would be the pragmatic thing to do, Seven, but there is another option you’re not considering.” The Captain looked even more stern as she stepped closer.
Seven suddenly felt worried. She’s not going to ask me to end my relationship, she thought. Not after she’s refused to interfere with the relationships of others on the ship.
“What are you suggesting?”
“Seven, did you know that as a member of this crew you’re entitled to a thing called a ‘day off?‘ It would allow you to allocate your time more effectively without risking your own safety. This ship has a crew of almost 150, many of whom have at least some expertise in the field of astrometrics. I know none of them know this exact system as well as you and Harry Kim, but-”
“I see your point Captain,” Seven said. “I will take your suggestion into consideration.”
“Do that,” Janeway said. “As for today, I think that barring any unforeseen circumstances, I can let you take off from your shift an hour early. On the condition you use that time to recharge. I’d rather not get in between you and Samantha, Seven, but if this reckless behavior continues I might not have a choice. And trust me, I’d hate to be put in that position. The two of you seem happy together. Let’s keep it that way.”
“Is that an order, Captain?”
“Very much so.”

“Understood.” Seven took in a deep breath. “Captain, while you’re here, I’d like to discuss the possibility of obtaining a proper uniform.”
Janeway didn’t respond for several seconds. Seven was about to repeat the question when Janeway finally spoke up.
“Let me guess. A blue one, like Samantha’s?”
“How could you possibly know-”
“I overheard Samantha talk about how she thought you’d look better in a regular uniform a few days ago in the mess hall. I’ll take that into consideration. Honestly, I’m surprised you never asked sooner.”

Seven had to admit to herself that she wasn’t entirely sure why she hadn’t said anything about the jumpsuits she’d been given since coming aboard, but decided that the Captain didn’t need to know about that particular error.
“May I return to my duties, Captain?”
“Carry on, Seven.”

Seven of Nine awoke in sickbay, wearing an unfamiliar outfit, and feeling very sore, as though she had been recently injured. The Doctor was standing over her, leaning in close to whisper to her.

“What-”

“Remain calm, and stay quiet,” the Doctor said. “There’s a Hirogen working in the bio-lab, he might hear us. What do you remember?”
Seven thought about it.
“I remember,” she said, pausing to make sure she was correct in what she was about to say. “Sam, and Lieutenant Paris and I were planetside, testing handheld weapons that Kovin was going to trade with us for. He wanted to show me, something, some modified rifle I think. It overloaded, hurt me. I was concerned that Sam was going to try and injure Kovin. I required the use of a dermal regenerator.”
“That was nearly a month ago,” the Doctor said. “Three weeks ago there was an attack. The Hirogen overwhelmed us. You have no memory of the simulations on the holodeck?”
“What simulations?”

“The neural interface must be interfering with your memory.”
“Neural-?” Seven said, still feeling a bit light-headed.
“The devices the Hirogen had me put in some members of the crew, to alter their memories before putting them in one of the holodecks. It makes you believe you’re a character within the program.”
“Why am I in sickbay?” Seven said, though the sore spot on the back of her skull gave her some idea.

“You were wounded in the World War II simulation. The Hirogen have me patching up the crew when they get hurt and send them right back, or to another simulation. Half the crew are locked up in their quarters, the rest are fighting for their lives in these simulations.” The Doctor grabbed a device off the tray next to him and began working on Seven’s ocular implant. It was a familiar enough process that she didn’t even flinch, though she did wonder why he was doing it at that moment.

“This has been going on for nineteen days,” he continued. “But, I have found a way to disable your interface. I’ll be sending you back into the World War II simulation, but this time you’ll have an advantage.”
“How so?”
“I modified one of your Borg implants. Within seconds of being brought back to the holodeck it will jam the interface’s signal. Your objective is to find a control panel inside the holodeck and engage the bridge access relays. Harry and I will be able to deactivate all the interfaces, and we can get the crew back, which will give us a chance to retake the ship.”

Seven was about to ask how that would work, but she heard the sound of heavy footsteps. Without being prompted, she pretended to still be unconscious.
“This is the last one,” the Hirogen said. “Install it in her, then help me replicate more.” Without waiting for a reply, she heard the Hirogen walk away.
“I have to sedate you now,” the Doctor whispered to her a few seconds later. After that, she felt the familiar press of a hypospray against her neck. before she lost consciousness, she realized something very important that she’d forgotten to ask the Doctor, but the sedative kept her from saying it aloud; Samantha and Naomi, are they alive?

When Seven became aware again, she was wearing different clothing again, and was standing on a stage, an audience in front of her and piano music slowing to a halt behind her. She was disoriented for a second, but then remembered what the Doctor had told her. She made a show of touching her temples and wincing.
“My, my apologies, I, don’t seem to, I need to sit down.”

She went over to the bar, grateful she recognized it as such. She saw Tuvok behind it, cleaning glasses.
“I require a glass of water,” she said.
“Make it a quick one,” she heard Captain Janeway’s voice beside her say. She turned to face her.
“I am ill,” Seven said, hoping she sounded convincing.
“I promised the commandant you’d be singing ‘til midnight. I’m planning to get a lot of information out of him tonight.”
“I understand that is inconvenient timing,” Seven said, managing to stop herself from reflexively calling Janeway ‘Captain.’ “But I-”
“I don’t care if you’re dying, get back out there.”
“I would like to,” Seven said. “But whatever is wrong with me, I am, I have forgotten the words. I do not even know what song I was singing just now. I am hoping it is temporary.”
“Bullshit,” Janeway said in a harsh whisper. “You’ve been a problem these past few days de Neuf, and I’m about ready to execute you myself. You keep this up we’re going to be exposed, and the Nazis will gun us all down. Is that what you want?”
“Not at all, but I am no condition to be of any assistance to you right now.” Seven grabbed at her own stomach, and covered her mouth, attempting to fake illness the way that Naomi had showed her once. “Excuse me,” she said, heading towards what she believed was the establishment’s bathroom, but Janeway grabbed her arm.

“Be here tonight, or else,” she said. Seven nodded.
“If I’m not dead on the floor,” Seven said.

When he heard the door to sickbay open again, he feared the worst. One crewmember had already died during these last nineteen days, and he didn’t want to lose another. He was surprised to see Samantha Wildman walking in, the Hirogen medic that he’d had to put up with since the simulations began right behind her.
“According to the ship’s records this one has training in biology. She will assist you, since you keep complaining about being overwhelmed,” he said, giving Samantha a light shove.
“I tried explaining to him Doctor,” Samantha said, “but he doesn’t seem to get that my training involves working with animals, not with sentients.”

“It will do,” the Hirogen medic said.
“I suppose she’ll have to. How well did you do on your first aid exams at the academy, Ensign?” the Doctor said.
Samantha sighed.
“I didn’t fail,” she said. “Beyond that, I’d rather not think about it.” She looked behind her at the Hirogen medic, who was now in the Doctor’s office, looking at information on the console wall behind the desk.
“Doc, is Annik- is Seven okay?” she said, lowering her voice.
“She’s alive,” he said, not wanting to say anymore in case the Hirogen came back. “As for now, I think I should give a refresher on the basics. Just leave any major injuries to me and my ‘friend’ over there.”

He walked over to her, handing her a PADD with information about how to treat minor cuts, sprains, dislocations and the like.
“How’s Naomi holding up?” he asked.
“She puts on a brave face,” Samantha said. “But I can tell she’s terrified. I’m just glad the Hirogen have been leaving her alone.”
“Children do not make good prey,” the Hirogen medic said, re-entering the room.

“Well,” Samantha said. “There’s that at least.”

Seven stood with her hands behind her back, as ‘Katrine,’ Janeway’s character in the simulation, pointed to the map on the table, speaking to her, as well as the characters being played in this simulation by Tuvok and B’Elanna.
“You’ll maintain position here,” Janeway said. “twenty meters from the front doors. Arm yourself with a submachine gun and watch for any sign of trouble.”
“We’ve observed a twenty-second break in the guard rotation at 4:15 a.m,,” Tuvok said, looking at Seven. “That should give you and Katrine time to enter the building through a storm window on the eastern wall.”

“When I was there yesterday,” B’Elanna said, “I saw guards posted at all three stairways, so you’ll have to get to the second floor through the elevator shaft. The command post’s in the main gallery at the end of the hall.”
“Once inside,” Janeway said, “we plant the charges and load the transmitter. We leave in one hour.”
“I’ll make sure that all evidence of the underground here gets destroyed if anything goes wrong,” B’Elanna said. “But, God willing I won’t have to.”
“From your lips to his ears,” Janeway said.
Seven nodded in agreement with the others, then headed over to the table where the explosives for the mission were set up. She took one of the grenades out of the case and looked it over, lamenting that knowledge about such archaic weapons had not been included in the memories the Borg had given her.
At least I know enough not to accidentally blow myself up, she thought.

“Are you having second thoughts about our mission tonight?” Janeway said.

“No. Why do you ask?”
“You seem distracted. Just now you forgot to connect the detonator to the explosives.”
“I did? That doesn’t seem right,” Seven said. She had managed to use her enhanced hearing to eavesdrop on the others. As such she learned that her character in the simulation was an explosives expert.
“First you forget song lyrics, now this? I’m tempted to just leave you behind,” Janeway said.
“Understandable,” Seven said. “But I need to see this through.”
“Good,” Janeway said, loading a clip into a pistol. “Let’s just hope we don’t get anymore screw ups from you tonight.”
Seven nodded, then turned to follow Janeway as she and Tuvok made their way to the Nazi HQ. Once inside, the two quickly made their way in, quietly sneaking up behind the Nazi soldier who was working at the radio on the second floor. Janeway struck him over the head with a blunt weapon.
“Set the charges here, and there,” Janeway said, pointing to two spots in the room. She looked at a piece of paper on the table next to the radio. “This looks like it’s from one of their recon teams.”
Janeway took the headset off the Nazi slumped in his chair and put it on her own head while Seven looked for a control so she could finish her mission for the Doctor. She found it on a bookshelf, and began quietly removing books while Janeway talked to herself about what she was hearing from the transmitter. Soon she had it exposed, and she began pushing buttons and moving isolinear chips.
“They’re moving armored units into the valley,” Seven heard Janeway say. “They must know the Americans are coming! We need to… What is that?”
Not good, Seven thought. “I believe it is a transmitter. I am attempting to disable it,” she said. As she did so she imagined she could hear Samantha’s voice whisper in her ear about what a terrible liar she was.
“You haven’t set the charges,” Janeway said. “You’re trying to send a message to the Nazis.”
“No,” Seven said. She heard a sound that it took her a few seconds to put together. Janeway had taken her gun out from it’s holster.
“Step away or I’ll kill you,” she said. Seven turned to face her. “I told you, no more mistakes. You just made your last-” Janeway suddenly gasped in pain and grabbed at her neck, right where her neural interface would be.
“I can assume you’re back to normal, Captain?” Seven said.
“Seven, what the hell is going on? Why are we dressed like this, and why are we in a room full of Nazi symbols?”

“I’ll explain as quickly as I can,” Seven said, telling Janeway everything the Doctor had told her about the Hirogen and the takeover of Voyager.

“If the Doctor has my link disabled hopefully he’s gotten to everyone else as well,” Janeway said. “Let’s see if we can get this simulation shut down.” Janeway walked over to the control panel and stood next to Seven, but before they could get to work, they heard gunfire outside the window; energy weapons and gunpowder weapons.
“Hirogen hunters,” Seven said after going to the window and peeking outside.
“Internal scanners show thirteen of them on this holodeck,” Janeway said. Soon, more gunfire could be heard, followed by a loud noise.
“Air raid sirens,” Janeway said.
“It would appear that the Americans have arrived,” Seven said.
“We need to clear out of here before they blow up the building,” Janeway said, heading for the exit. Seven followed close behind her. As they made their way out the front door she heard a loud whistling noise.
“Incoming!” Janeway shouted, running faster and diving for cover. Seven followed right behind her as an explosive shell struck the building, blowing it apart.
Catching her breath, Seven looked over at Janeway.
“Are you uninjured, Captain?” she said.
“I’m fine,” Janeway said. “Oh, and Seven?”

“Yes?”
“If we survive this, maybe don’t mention to Samantha that I almost shot you.”
Seven was about to reply that the thought hadn’t even occurred to her, when she noticed that the combat noise had stopped. She looked up, looked back towards the now-former Nazi headquarters, and saw that a large chunk of the holodeck had been blown up as well. From her vantage point she could see into three of Voyager’s decks.
“That’s gonna take more than a patch job to fix,” she heard Janeway say.
“An understatement to put it mildly,” Seven said, noticing off to her side a number of men dressed in American military uniforms, some crew members some not, making their way towards the hole in the holodeck wall.

Samantha was certain she was about to get shot. The Hirogen medic had spotted the Doctor as he was disabling Janeway’s neural interface after the connection had been made and had stopped him before he could free anyone else. He had the hologram at gunpoint, which would be an amusing sight under better circumstances since the Hirogen had already hidden away his mobile emitter. And Karr, the Hirogen leader, was there too, demanding to know who else the Doctor had activated. They didn’t seem to notice her until she tried to slip away, but now they had her standing next to the Doctor, a rifle on her as well.
The sound of an explosion echoed through the hull. Karr ran out, hailing the bridge as he did so. The Hirogen medic kept his rifle trained on Samantha.
“We may not be able to reactivate the two neural interfaces you shut down,” he said. “but at least I can prevent you from deactivating any more. Your Captain, and this Seven of Nine, are not strong enough to defeat us by themselves.”

“I find it best not to underestimate the Captain,” the Doctor said, sounding smug.

Samantha was about to add her own comment about her Borg girlfriend, but the sickbay door opened, and more wounded people, Starfleet and Hirogen, were coming in. The Hirogen medic groaned.
“Let’s get to work,” he said, lowering his rifle. “I’ve already disabled the link to the holodeck, there’s nothing more you can do to harm us.”

Seven followed Janeway into the Jeffries Tubes, the two of them trying to get back into the holodeck to try and recruit help to clear the way to sickbay. Only one Hirogen lifesign was there, as they’d discovered from the astrometrics lab, but the path was heavily guarded. There was a human lifesign in there as well; Samantha Wildman’s according to the internal sensors.

Seven tried to stay focused on the mission, but she couldn’t help but fear the worst; that Samantha had been put through one of the Hirogen simulations and was injured. The scanners showed her lifesigns as stable, but even if the injury was a minor one, the thought of it was enough to have Seven feeling anger. She did not like feeling anger. She did not like the thought of her lover being harmed. The Hirogen were responsible for both feelings, even if Samantha turned out to be unharmed.
I will make them suffer in ways they can’t even imagine, she thought.

“Seven, you still with me?” Janeway said. Seven hadn’t realized she’d slowed down her crawl through the tube.
“My apologies Captain, I was distracted.”
“I’m sure she’s fine, Seven.” Janeway said.
“Captain, have you secretly been telepathic this whole time, or have I become that predictable?”
“I thought the Borg liked routine,” Janeway said.
“But I am not fully Borg. I would’ve thought the fact of my romantic entanglement with Ensign Wildman made that obvious.”
“Well, you got me there, Seven,” Janeway said. “No, it’s not that you’re predictable. It’s that if it were someone I loved being held hostage by Hirogen, I’d want to tear the bastards apart with my bare hands.”
“A crude but accurate description of my sentiments,” Seven said.
“Here we are,” Janeway said, opening the panel, and climbing out into Le Coeur de Lion. Seven stopped briefly when she heard the now familiar sound of guns cocking.
“Hold your fire,” Janeway said as she crawled out, Seven following close behind her.

Harry Kim walked down the corridor, carrying a kit. The sound of gunfire off in the distance was odd to him, but he strangely didn’t feel too bothered by it. He spotted the Nazi soldier before the soldier had a chance to turn around. Harry gripped his kit tighter, and ran at him, slamming it hard into the soldier’s head. He brought it down again, picturing a Hirogen hunter in his mind as he did so.
“Whoa, ease up there!” he heard a voice behind him say.
Harry turned around, ready to hurl the kit at whoever it was, but saw the face of his best friend.
“Tom?”

“Wrong guy,” Paris said, wearing an American soldier’s uniform, and carrying a handgun. Another soldier stood just behind him. Harry couldn’t quite tell through the grime on his face if he was another crewmember with their neural interface still on, or a holographic character, but both men had weapons trained on him. Harry sighed and dropped the kit.
“Let me guess, you think I’m Japanese right?”
“Why shouldn’t I?” Tom said. “Hell, only reason I didn’t shoot you on sight is ‘cause I saw you killing that kraut there.”
“That? Yeah, well, I’ve had a rough month and he happened to be in my way,” Harry said. And it wasn’t far from the truth. Ever since the Hirogen had taken Voyager he’d had several flashbacks to the Year of Hell, and his anger had been building up, and building. But with the chaos of World War II spilling on to the ship he finally had a chance to get away from the Hirogen and do what he needed to do to retake the ship.
“He cheat you at poker or something?” Tom said.
Harry thought about it for a moment. He’d learned a little about Earth’s second world war in history class as a kid, but he’d learned more since the Hirogen had created the simulation on the holodeck.
“He kept calling me Japanese,” Harry said, scowling. “I’m Korean.”
“Korean huh? Okay, I buy that. So where are you going?”
“I’m on a mission for Katrine,” Harry said, glad he’d paid attention to what was going on in the simulations before the bridge lost all connection with the holodeck.
“You’re working with the French resistance?” Tom said.
“Yep.”
“Mind if I ask why?”
“Long story. Suffice it to say there’s a girl involved.”
Tom nodded, motioning the other soldier to go on ahead of him. “Ain’t that always the way? Well, whatever it is, good luck. Try not to get killed.”
“Thanks. Oh, and by the way, there are some Nazis running around with some heavy armor on, way tougher than the regular kind. They’re some kind of special ops team. If you run into any of them, aim for the head.”
“Aim for the head. Got it. Thanks, Korean,” Tom said, saluting casually as he started off down the corridor. Harry waited for him to be out of sight before continuing on his own way, stopping to give the dead Nazi on the ground one last kick as he passed.

Seven of Nine had been ordered to modify the weapons that the resistance fighters had using Borg technology, so she was doing so. Having snuck her way to cargo bay 2 to grab some gear from her alcove, she was back in the simulation, and had started to work on modifying the grenades when Tuvok, still in character, came up to her.
“Where have you been?” he said, clearly still suspicious that she was a German spy.
“Obtaining supplies. I stole some German technology from the exposed bunker, and I am using it to upgrade our weaponry.” The shockwave of an explosion shook the bar.

“Speaking of the Germans,” she added, “shouldn’t you be at the window, providing covering fire?”

Tuvok glowered at her.
“Very well,” he said.
Seven sighed as she went back to work.
The Captain had better get the other interfaces turned off soon, she thought. It’s one thing to play a character on the holodeck with Sam, but this

Samantha had once again been sure she was done for when the Doctor had disappeared, but the Hirogen medic, to his credit, did not attempt to blame her for it as he’d been looking at her when it happened. Instead he simply ordered her to use dermal regenerators on some wounded Hirogen that had been brought it. She did so reluctantly, but her desire to see Naomi and Annika alive again kept her going.

She heard the jeffries tube door open while the medic was informing the bridge that nine Hirogen hunters had been confirmed dead and that the Doctor was missing. She glanced up to see if he showed any sign of hearing it himself. Unfortunately, it seemed he did.
“Hold on a moment,” she heard him say.

The Captain crawled out, holding a type of gun Samantha didn’t quite recognize. Soon Commander Chakotay came out behind her, dressed in some type of military garb. The Hirogen medic spotted them, but they already had their weapons trained on him.

“You,” the Hirogen said.
“There are ten pounds of explosives right under the floor here,” Janeway said. “If you want to live, you’ve got less than three minutes to clear out. Samantha, is there anyone else here?”

“No one alive, ma’am,” Samantha said.

“Good. Captain?” Janeway said to Chakotay, confirming Samantha’s suspicion that Chakotay was still under the influence of the neural interfaces. “Get this man out of here. Sam, go with them.”
“Yes ma’am,” Samantha said. She started to follow Chakotay as he ushered the Hirogen medic out at gunpoint, but stopped.
“Captain,” she said, looking at Janeway. “Is-”
“Seven’s alive,” Janeway said. “She’s with the resistance fighters. Now go.”
Samantha nodded, and headed out. By the time she caught up with Chakotay, she spotted two Hirogen hunters coming around the corner. Chakotay tried to shoot at them, but the Hirogen medic was able to knock him aside. She ran in the opposite direction, feeling a pang of guilt at leaving Chakotay behind, until she heard more gunpowder firearm noises.
“Keep going!” she heard Chakotay yell. She turned briefly to see him running behind her, turning around to fire his weapon behind him. Several seconds later there was yet another explosion.

Seven glanced up when she heard Tom and B’Elanna wincing. Tuvok was also gripping at his neck. Seven actually smiled. She walked over to them, noticing that all three looked confused.
“We’re on the holodeck, and we’re under attack. We must-”

She was interrupted by the sound of the door being kicked in. Soon one of the holographic Nazis entered, followed by a Hirogen in a Nazi uniform, and additional Hirogen hunters, all of them with guns drawn.
“Drop your weapons,” the holographic Nazi said.
Seven did so reluctantly, as did Tom and B’Elanna, Tuvok’s weapon already dropped when his neural interface had shut off.

One of the Hirogen, using a Starfleet communicator, contacted the bridge, while one of the Hirogen lined the four crewmembers against a railing.
“Bridge, this is Holodeck 1. We have seized the building, and found another entryway into the holodeck.”
“Good work Turanj,” the Hirogen’s leader said over the comm. ”Seal that entrance immediately. How many captives have you taken?”
“Four,” Turanj said. “Their neural interfaces have been disabled. I will make the kill.”

“No! They are not prey, they are hostages. I will need them.”
Turanj scowled.
Dissension in the Hirogen ranks, Seven thought. Perhaps this could be used to our advantage.

“Very well,” Turanj said. “You,” he added, pointing to one of the other Hirogen. “Help me seal this hatch.”
“So,” Tom Paris said, “What do you think? Boy or a girl?” Seven turned and saw that Tom was looking at B’Elanna’s ‘pregnant’ body, a creation of the simulation.
“It is a holographic projection,” she said.

“A very realistic one,” B’Elanna said. “I can actually feel the damn thing kicking.”
“I don’t recognize this program,” Tuvok said.
“I do,” Tom said.
“Given your interest in 20th century Earth history that is hardly surprising,” Seven said.
The non-Hirogen Nazi made a loud throat clearing noise to get the attention of the Voyager crewmembers. Straightening his uniform he walked towards them, his eyes focused on B’Elanna.

“What’re you staring at?” B’Elanna said, looking like she wanted to tear the man’s throat out. Given what Seven had learned about the Nazis in both her observations in the simulation and the few things Janeway had been able to tell her while they were calling through the jeffries tubes, she had to admit that she wouldn’t have minded seeing that.
“Stand up,” he said. B’Elanna got to her feet with difficulty.
“You deceived me,” he said.
“Figured that out on your own did you?” B’Elanna said.
“I should’ve known all along. The thought of you carrying my child disgusts me.”
“Yeah well, join the club,” B’Elanna said. The Nazi struck her across the face so hard that Seven found herself wincing in sympathy. Tom immediately leapt up, both to keep B’Elanna from falling over but also to hold her back from striking back at the Nazi, an act that would assuredly get them all killed.
“Pig,” Tom yelled at him.
“I have had the opportunity to interact with pigs on the holodeck,” Seven said, referring to one of Naomi’s favorite programs. “I would not denigrate the animals by comparing them to the Nazis.”
Tom smirked. “Yeah, good point.”
The Nazi who had struck B’Elanna pulled out his gun on Tom, obviously struggling to contain his own rage. Seven tensed to try and tackle him.

“Put the weapon away,” Turanj said. “Now.”

The Nazi looked back at the Hirogen, then back at Tom and B’Elanna, before shoving the weapon back into its holster.

Samantha went back toward sickbay, carefully trying not to be noticed, Chakotay a few steps ahead of her checking to see if the path was clear. The Commander’s neural interface had gone off-line, and Samantha had filled him in on what she knew.
“Any sign that the Captain made it out of sickbay before it blew?” she said.
“I couldn’t tell,” Chakotay said. “I was too busy trying to get clear.”
They reached sickbay, or rather what was left of it. Despite the size of the explosion, and the fact that said explosion took out the sickbay door, there was far less damage than either of them had feared, although many consoles would definitely need to be replaced.
“No signs of bodies,” Chakotay said. “The Captain’s or that Hirogen medic, whatever his name is.”
“Actually, I don’t think he ever said it. I don’t even know if he has one, I’m not up on Hirogen customs,” Samantha said.
Chakotay searched over sickbay one more time.
“Tell me Sam, how did you do on your last hand phaser test?”
“Bare minimum,” she said. “And that was with Mr. Tuvok giving me lessons.”
Chakotay handed her a dropped Hirogen rifle.
“I’ve got it set on stun, so don’t worry about hitting a bulkhead. Come on, this way.”
“I’d really rather go check on Naomi,” Samantha said.
“She’ll be safer once we’ve retaken the ship. Now come on,” Chakotay said. “We’ve still got people in occupied France to rescue. Just stay behind me, and don’t take any shots you aren’t 100% sure of.”
“All right, fine. At least the Hirogen are big targets. If we were having to deal with the macrovirus again I wouldn’t stand a chance of hitting anything.” She looked at the weapon in her hands. “The Hirogen have stun settings?”

Seven watched as Turanj poured himself a glass of wine from behind the bar. She believed that if she kept focusing on him long enough, she’d find the right opportunity to either strike at him, or at the very least chip away at his confidence in his superior on the bridge in order to create an internal conflict for the Hirogen.
“Synthetic,” he uttered as if the word were a curse. “And undrinkable. I grow tired of this simulation.”
He looked over at the captives.
“I should be impressed at how well you have managed to survive so far,” Turanj said. “You have been good prey. But I can’t enjoy it properly because of all this nonsense.”

“Mein Herr, a word?” the Nazi said.
The Hirogen sighed. “Nonsense such as these holograms. What do you want?”
“Sir, I want to know what it is we are waiting for. Why don’t we just execute these prisoners?”
“Orders. From the commandant,” Turanj said, almost spitting out the last word.
“I have a feeling this is gonna get really ugly,” Tom Paris whispered.
“I second that opinion,” Seven said.

“May I speak freely?” the Nazi said. Seven didn’t hear a reply, and could only see the back of Turanj’s head, but the Nazi continued speaking.
“The commandant has been acting strangely these past few days, questioning German superiority. Perhaps we shouldn’t follow his orders so blindly. Simply a suggestion.”
“You will follow his orders, for as long as I tell you to.”
“I don’t know how much longer I can stand-”
“Are you bored?” Turanj said, interrupting. “Perhaps you would like some entertainment while we wait for the commandant’s orders.” Turanj walked over to Seven and pointed at her.
“You. Sing.”
Is he serious? Seven thought. “I will not,” she said. Turanj responded by pulling out a pistol.
“Sing, or die.”
“Then I will die,” Seven said, standing up, and staring the Hirogen directly in the eyes.
“Seven,” Tuvok said. “You are a valuable member of this crew. Logically, -”
“Logic is irrelevant,” Seven said.

“Seven, think about Sam and Naomi,” Tom said. Seven blinked. She stayed silent for a long moment. Turanj raised the pistol so the barrel was pointed directly at her forehead. Seven had a flash of memory; of Samantha’s body pressed against her own in the sonic shower in her quarters. Then another image, just as powerful but less erotic. The site of Naomi laughing and smiling as she played with holographic representations of a number of Earth animals.
“Very well,” Seven said bitterly. “I will require backing music.”
“I think that can be arra-”
“Bridge to Holodeck 1,” the voice of the Hirogen commander, came over the comm. “I’ve come to an agreement with Captain Janeway. Call a cease-fire.”
“What?!” Turanj said, his weapon hand shaking slightly.
“Captain?” Tuvok said.
“It’s true Tuvok,” Janeway’s voice replied. “Our first order of business is to call off the troops. I want you to find Chakotay, and get him to convince his soldiers to pull out of the city.”
Turanj put his weapon away, much to Seven’s surprise. She had expected him to disobey orders right then and there.

“Aye Captain,” Tuvok said.
“Turanj, order our hunters to end the fighting,” the Hirogen commander said.
Diplomacy works better than I ever gave it credit for, Seven thought. Perhaps I should look into taking lessons on the subject.

“This is madness!” the Nazi yelled, but Turanj cut him off with a raised hand.
“Our civilization depends on this agreement,” the Hirogen commander said.
“Acknowledged. Release the prisoners,” Turanj said. He didn’t sound happy about it, but Seven didn’t find that too surprising as she sometimes felt the same way about following some of Janeway’s orders. Soon all four Voyager crew members were heading out into the holographic daylight.
“That could’ve gone a lot worse,” Tom said, putting his arm around B’Elanna once they were outside. Seven looked back at the door as it closed behind them.
“To use one of your colloquialisms Mr. Paris,” she said. “I don’t think we’re out of the woods just yet. I think Turanj may still be a problem.”

The shooting had already stopped by the time Chakotay and Samantha had reached the unfinished barricade, just in time to meet up with Tuvok, Tom, B’Elanna, and much to Samantha’s joy and relief, Seven of Nine.
“Annie!” She ran forward, dropping the Hirogen rifle. Seven jogged forward herself, the two women throwing themselves so hard into an embrace they almost fell over.
“Sam, I am glad you are uninjured. Is Naomi-”
“Safe,” Samantha said.
Samantha felt a tap on her shoulder, and she turned to see Tom Paris, also in military garb.
“I hate to break up the reunion here,” he said. “but a lot of these soldiers are holograms of 20th century humans, and back then relationships like yours weren’t exactly treated with respect.”
Samantha looked around. Most of the soldiers were focused on their duties, but a few were giving her and Seven looks. Some of them looked disgusted, while others looked aroused as though they expected the two of them to strip naked and have sex right there in the street. She sighed.
“All the more reason to end this sooner,” she said.
“Agreed,” Seven said.

Chakotay came up to them, Tuvok and B’Elanna alongside.
“All right, the order’s been given,” he said. “Now we just wait for the Captain.”
“You know,” Tom said. “I’m not going to lie, if this were a simulation I was running on my own time, with the safeties on and no risk to the whole ship, I’d actually be enjoying this.”
“I find that odd,” Seven said. “given that the death toll in this war, despite being limited to one planet, was larger than that of the Tholian War and the Cardassian border skirmishes combined.”
“Well, when you put it that way-” Tom started to say, when the gunfire started.
“Shit!” Tom yelled as he went for cover.
“Language!” Seven yelled as she followed. Soon all the Voyager crew and a number of holographic American soldiers were firing back at the Nazis and Hirogen who had fired on them.
“So much for the cease fire!” Samantha yelled, as she ducked behind an upturned automobile.
“”I know this probably isn’t the best time for this,” B’Elanna said as she tried to work a 20th century era pistol, “but we’re not just going to ignore the fact that Seven of Nine just went ‘langauge’ are we?”
“You’re correct, this is not the best time!” Seven shouted over the sounds of combat, briefly coming up from cover to fire several rounds at the Nazis.
“You understand that if we survive this, making fun of you for that is almost an obligation,” Tom said.
“Stop teasing my girlfriend and shoot the bad guys already!” Samantha yelled.
“She got it from you didn’t she?” B’Elanna said.

Seven was running on adrenaline almost entirely by the time night fell in the simulation. In all that time, the shooting had hardly let up, and her crewmates and the American soldiers were surrounded. Not even Samantha managing to retrieve the Hirogen weapon she’d dropped before they’d been completely routed from their original position had been able to turn the tide of battle in their favor.

Seven couldn’t even remember when she had last been in her alcove, but she had to imagine that for her to have lasted this long the Hirogen had probably put her in it in between simulations. She was trying to stay focused on the task of modifying their grenades.
“How’s it coming along?” Chakotay asked her.
“I’m modifying this explosive device to emit a photonic burst. It’ll be harmless to organic tissue.”
“Clever. I thought you didn’t know how to work with 20th century explosives.”
“I am not an expert, and were this not a desperate situation I’d actually be advising against what I’m doing, but our options are limited. This should disrupt all holographic activity within twenty meters.”
“We’ll buy you some time, keep at it,” Chakotay said before heading back to the barricade to continue firing.

After a few more moments, Seven was certain she got it. She shifted up to the barricade, trying to stay low in order to avoid being shot.
“Good luck, Annie,” Samantha said, firing over the barricade.
Seven nodded, stood to throw the grenade, then felt a biting pain in her shoulder, the impact of which made her fall back and drop the grenade.
“Annie!” she heard Samantha yell.
“Sam, stay down!” B’Elanna yelled. There was a noise, and a green light. Through a haze of pain, Seven saw that her grenade did in fact work, but on the wrong side. American soldiers, her crewmates rifles, and all the other grenades and explosives vanished. Tears welled up in Seven’s eyes, but not from the pain.
So close, she thought.
“I’m sorry,” she tried to say, but it was so weak she doubted anyone heard her. Within seconds the sound of gunfire had stopped, and she heard a thick accented voice say the word “Surrender.” And then, as if to add insult to injury, it began to rain.
Who wrote this simulation? Seven thought as German soldiers hoisted her to her feet. The soldiers lined her, Samantha, Tom, Tuvok, and Chakotay against a wall, while their commanding officer held a tight grip on B’Elanna’s arms.
“Prepare to fire,” he said. “Their deaths will-”
The sounds of clanging metal and screaming came from the other end of the street. Seven tried to turn her head to look but it hurt too much.
“Klingons,” Samantha said. “Okay. Not what I expected, but you certainly could do worse for back-up.”
“I think that there was an ancient Klingon blood feud that was running on the other holodeck,” Chakotay said. “Remind me to thank whoever brought them over here. Sam, stay with Seven. Everyone else let’s finish this fight.”
“Aye sir,” Tom said with obvious excitement.
Seven slid down the wall to sit on the pavement, feeling dizzy from blood loss. Samantha had removed her jacket and was pressing it into Seven;s wound to stem the bleeding.
“C’mon Annie, stay awake,” she said.
“Not difficult. The battle is rather noisy. Annoyingly so I would say,” Seven said, wanting very badly to go to sleep.
“Hey, Annie, can I tell you something?”
“Of course.”
“I really liked your hair the way they had it in the simulation.”
“It wasn’t my idea.”
“I know, I know.”
“Sam?”

“Yes?”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
There was a sudden noise, followed by a sudden lack of noise. Seven glanced up to see that all the Nazis, and all the Klingons except for one that looked oddly similar to Neelix were gone as well. She also realized finally that one of the American soldiers she’d assumed was holographic was actually Lieutenant Ayala. How did I not notice before? she thought.

“It’s over,” Chakotay said. “Let’s go.”

When Seven recovered from her gunshot wound, she awoke in a still half destroyed sickbay, both Samantha and Naomi Wildman at her bedside.
“I do hope I didn’t lose almost a month worth of memories this time,” she said.
“No, only several hours,” she heard the Doctor say. “It’s a good thing I got to you when I did, you lost a lot of blood.”
Seven tried to sit up, but found it difficult at first. It took a second try, but she was finally able to survey just how much damage had been done to sickbay while she was back in the simulation.
“It is astonishing that this much damage was caused by centuries-old explosives technology,” she said. She turned to Samantha. “Are the Hirogen gone?”
“Not just yet,” Samantha said. “but we do have a cease-fire. A real one this time. It looks like they’ve accepted a deal. They’ll leave us alone in exchange for holodeck technology. Not sure how I feel about that right now to be honest.”

“I’m just glad they’re going away,” Naomi said. “They were scary, and smelly, and…”
“And they’re gone,” Captain Janeway said as she walked in. “They beamed off and warped away about five minutes ago. How are you doing, Seven?”
“I am not entirely without pain just yet, Captain, but I will recover.”
“Good to hear.”
“Captain,” the Doctor said, “if you don’t mind me asking…”
“Sickbay is a top priority for repairs Doctor, don’t worry, We just need to get some more of our power relays up and running first. We’re going to put down for repairs. We found a small planetoid with the right gravity. We won’t be able to leave the ship since the air lacks enough oxygen, but we’ll be safe.”
“Doctor,” Seven said. “If I’m cleared to leave sickbay, I need to spend some time in my alcove. I’ve not been in for a full recharge for several days at least.”
Samantha sighed. “I was hoping we could spend the next few days together, considering how long the Hirogen had us separated.”
“That time together wouldn’t be very long if I ceased to function properly in the middle of it,” Seven said. “The recharge time is inconvenient but necessary.”
“I would say no normally given your injuries,” the Doctor said. “but I also have fewer biobeds to work with so I’ll go ahead and clear you, but with the caveat that I want Ensign Wildman to check in on you every hour until you’ve recharged and can return to sickbay for a follow up.”
“I can do that,” Samantha said. “Not much use for a xenobiologist when it comes to repairing EPS conduits.”
Seven let both Samantha and Janeway help her out of the bed. She found that she could walk fine so long as she walked slowly, so she kept holding on to Samantha’s arm as she let go of the Captain’s.
“Thank you, Captain,” Seven said.

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