A Fire of Devotion: Part 4 of 4: Hotter Than Hell: Chapter Five

Chapter Five

Seven of Nine was taking her time doing some routine maintenance to her alcove while at the same time listening to Naomi and Icheb while they worked on an educational jigsaw puzzle.
“The point of the puzzle is to learn something about genetics,” Icheb said.
“I’ve just been looking for pieces that look like they go together,” Naomi said.
“Which would be valid if we were doing this for fun,” Icheb said, “but-”

The sound of the door to the cargo bay opening distracted both children, and got Seven’s attention as well. Chakotay entered, saying a quick hello to the kids, before going behind a stack of cargo containers.
“Sir?” What is that?” Icheb said. Seven turned to look and saw Chakotay pulling a bottle of light green liquid out of a case he had pulled out from a nook in the wall and had to stifle a laugh.
“Antarian cider,” Chakotay said. “And not the replicated stuff. There are only a couple of bottles left, and I don’t want Neelix getting his hands on them.”
“Then you should store them with the salvaged Borg components,” Icheb said.
“That is a good advice,” Seven added. “Neelix never inventories those containers. Says they, and I quote, give him the creeps.” She rolled her eyes, and Chakotay laughed.
“Not a bad idea, but if he hasn’t found my little hidey-hole by now I doubt he-”

The ship shuddered, violently enough that only Naomi, who was already sitting down, didn’t almost fall over.
“Torres to Seven of Nine,” B’Elanna’s voice said over the comm, “I could use an extra hand down here, the warp core is destabilizing, and your cargo bay’s closer than Todd’s quarters.”
“I’m on my way,” Seven said.
“I’ll make sure the kids get to Sam’s quarters before I go to the bridge,” Chakotay said.
“Thank you,” Seven said, leaving the cargo bay at a jogging pace.

“It’s a spatial rift of some kind,” Carey said, monitoring the console right next to the one B’Elanna was frantically working on.
“Please be more specific,” B’Elanna said.
“It’s emitting high levels neutrinos and chronitons,” Carey added, and B’Elanna groaned.
“Not another temporal anomaly,” she said. “I have had it up to here with time travel.”

“Where do you need me?” Seven asked, and B’Elanna nearly jumped. She’d been so focused on the warp core she’d failed to hear Seven come up behind her.
“I can-”
B’Elanna didn’t get to finish her thought as another violent shudder triggered an alarm sound, one she knew all too well.
“We’re losing containment!” B’Elanna yelled. “Everyone out!”
Seven ignored the order and went straight to the console by the warp core.
“I believe I can-” Seven started to say, but after another shudder, sparks of electricity surrounded the warp core, and one bolt shot out from the core itself, and struck her in the shoulder.
“Seven!” B’Elanna yelled, running to her side. She slapped her comm badge, looking down in worry at Seven, whose face was glowing on one side, a side that seemed to be aging rapidly right in front of her. “Torres to transporter control, beam Seven of Nine directly to sickbay, now!”

When Seven’s eyes fluttered open, she saw the Doctor standing over her with a medical scanner. Her first thought was that not listening to B’Elanna’s evacuation order had been a blunder.

“Lie still,” The Doctor said when Seven tried to get up. She winced, not sure where she was hurting, possibly everywhere.
“You were transported here,” The Doctor said. “Your body was in a state of temporal flux.”

“That sound’s problematic,” Seven said, the pain rapidly fading.

“I should say so,” The Doctor said. “You had the liver of an eighty-year-old woman, and the kidneys of a twelve-year-old girl.”
“That was just my breakfast,” Seven said.
The Doctor laughed. “Seven, since when did you develop a sense of humor? Was it before or after you put on that uniform?”
Seven frowned.
“Are you sure I’m the only one in temporal flux?” she said. “I’ve been in a standard uniform for nearly three years now.”
The Doctor tilted his head in confusion.
“Well, at least the primary problem has been solved,” he said. “I was able to create a chroniton-infused serum that brought you back into temporal alignment.” He closed the medical tricorder and sighed.

“Anywhere else,” he said, “that would’ve earned me a prestigious award. Here on Voyager on the other hand…”
“You can always include it in the next data package to Starfleet,” Seven said.
“What are you talking about?” The Doctor said.
Seven had a bad feeling about where all this was going, but she had to ask.
“Doctor, what stardate is this? Humor me,” she said.
“51386.4,” The Doctor said. “Why, what stardate do you think it is?”
“Well, when I was injured,” Seven said, “it was 54468.1.”
“You mean you weren’t injured in the pirate attack?” The Doctor said. “They stole my mobile emitter, among other things.”
“No,” Seven said, telling The Doctor what she knew about the anomaly that had hit Voyager, and her being struck by energy from the warp core. “That’s the last part I remember. Then I woke up in this bio-bed.”
“Another temporal anomaly,” The Doctor said, rolling his eyes. “Figures. You know, if this ship hadn’t been through so many strange things the past few years, I’d be starting a psyche evaluation right now.”
“So you believe me?” Seven said.
“No reason not to, not yet anyway,” The Doctor said. “That does raise the problem of how to get you back to your own time. I wonder if this is why I haven’t been able to contact the bridge.”
“Perhaps I can figure out what happened from the bridge,” Seven said. “Do a ship-wide scan for chronitons. The whole ship was hit, not just me. You may be right about that being the reason internal comms are down.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” The Doctor said. “I’d help you but…” He gestured to the empty container where he normally kept his mobile emitter when he wasn’t using it.

“If it’s any consolation, Doctor,” Seven said, “you’ll be getting it back soon.”

“Oh, well, that’s comforting. Thank you,” The Doctor said, smiling.

Seven stood up, feeling shaky for a brief moment, but within seconds was able to walk normally and headed for the door. She quickly made her way to the turbolift and told it to take her to the bridge.

She realized that if she was three years in the past, she would have to be careful who she spoke to. She didn’t want to risk altering the timeline any more than her mere presence here already risked. She knew, thanks largely to Captain Braxton of the Relativity, that the space-time continuum was not as fragile as she’d been led to believe, but she was more concerned about very plausible ship-ending paradoxes as opposed to the apparently impossible universe-ending ones.

As soon as she entered the bridge, she realized something was wrong. And that was before she realized that the bridge crew was staring at her, before she heard the Captain say “Who the hell are you?”
The tip-offs were the Captain’s hair, the absence of several crew members she knew, the presence of crew members she only knew from their files because they had died before she had ever encountered Voyager, and last but far from least, the site of the docking arm of a Cardassian-made space station on the viewscreen.

Seven struggled for the right words to say in response to the situation, so she settled for something Naomi likely would’ve said.
“Oh, shoot.”

The security officers on the bridge already had their phasers out and pointed at her. Not wanting to make things worse than they already seemed to be she raised her hands.
“Answer the question,” Janeway said, the viewscreen image of what Seven could safely assume was the Federation outpost Deep Space Nine behind her. “Who are you?”
“Captain,” one of the other bridge crew said, holding a tricorder, “I’m reading Borg technology inside her body.”

“It’s inert,” Seven said, a brief moment of panic slipping through her calm demeanor. “Look, Captain Janeway, I can explain the situation, but I’m going to tell you now it is unlikely you’ll believe me.”
“I’ll be the judge of that,” Janeway said. “I do find it interesting that you show up just as our systems start malfunctioning.”
“Check your internal sensors,” Seven said, “See if they’re showing any unusual temporal readings.”
“Temporal readings?” Janeway said.
“My name is Annika Hansen,” Seven said, deciding that going by her Borg name as she usually did around people besides Samantha, whom she noticed looking at her from the main science station on the bridge, would be a bad idea. “Formally known as Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix 01. Just over three years from what I believe the current stardate to be given that you haven’t departed DS9 yet, you will encounter the Borg, myself included. I will be the lone surviving drone. You and your crew remove me from the collective, and invite me to join the crew.”
Janeway crossed her arms and frowned.

“Right,” she said.
“Captain,” a human Seven recognized from the files of Voyager’s deceased as Peter Durst said, “environmental controls are fluctuating.”

“That doesn’t prove anything,” Janeway said.
Seven looked over at Samantha. “Perhaps if I say something that-”
“Captain,” Durst said, “we’re being hailed. It’s DS9.”

“On screen,” Janeway said. “If she moves, stun her and take her to the brig.”
The face of a Trill woman in Starfleet blue appeared on the viewscreen. “Voyager, this is Lieutenant Dax. I’m picking up some strange readings from your ship.”
“I would imagine so,” Janeway said. “We suspect sabotage.” She looked at Seven before turning back to face the viewscreen. “We suspect there may be Borg involvement.”
“I don’t think so,” Dax said. “I’m picking up signs of temporal flux throughout your vessel. Have you had anything show up on the bridge lately that could be from your past or future?”
Seven couldn’t see Janeway’s face, but she imagined that the Captain looked shocked.
“We have someone here who claims to be from Voyager’s future. Say’s she’s an ex-Borg drone that I rescue several years from now.”
Dax went from serious to ecstatic in less than a second.

“Really?” she said. “Okay, this I have to see. I’d suggest locking down the ship for now, I see from our manifest you have a few people who haven’t boarded yet. I’ll beam myself directly to your bridge, just to be safe.”
Janeway sighed. “Very well, Lieutenant. Mister Durst, contact Mister Kim, Mister Paris, and Miss Stadi. Tell them to stay where they are for now.”
“Aye, Captain,” Durst said.
“Excuse me, Miss… Hansen you said it was?” Samantha said.
“Yes,” Seven said, worrying about where this was going.
“I can’t help but notice you keep looking at me,” Samantha said. “Why is that?”
“Good question,” Janeway said. “While we’re waiting on Lieutenant Dax, perhaps you could tell us more about your story. Not that I’m buying it just yet, but-”
Janeway was cut off by the sound of a transporter beam, and smiling Lieutenant Dax materialized right behind the Captain’s chair.
“Welcome aboard, Lieutenant Dax” Janeway said.
“Thank you,” Dax said. “I was hoping I’d get a chance to see the inside of one of the new Intrepid-class ships. And please, call me Jadzia.”
Jadzia looked at Seven.
“This must be our time traveller,” she said.
“If she’s telling the truth,” Janeway said.
Jadzia ran her own tricorder over Seven, who was feeling a little put out by all the scanning of her body going on today.
“Borg nanoprobes, but inert, and harmless far as I can tell,” Jadzia said. “Just how much of your original implants are left?”
“Under twenty percent,” Seven said.
“Amazing,” Jadzia said.
“Can you confirm her story?” Janeway said, sounding impatient.
“That? Oh, definitely,” Jadzia said. “Her body is full of chronitons. That explains the readings I got in Ops. And to think, Benjamin made fun of me when I said I wanted to add chronitons to the list of particles we routinely scan for.”

“That only confirms she’s travelled through time,” Janeway said. “Not that she’s a future crew member.”

“As I was saying before I was interrupted, Captain,” Seven said. “I believe I can prove that I know by telling you something that couldn’t be easily found in the ship’s records.”
“Perhaps you can start,” Janeway said, motioning towards Samantha, “by telling me why you seem so fascinated in my xenobiologist.”
“Sam and I,” Seven said, pausing to decide how much she should say. She was certain she wasn’t in a stable time loop. If Sam, or the Captain, or Lieutenant Anderson who currently was pointing a phaser at her back had met her prior to the encounter with her cube during the Species 8472 conflict, there would’ve been some sign. “We’re close.”
“How close?” Janeway said, stepping forward, trying to look intimidating, and succeeding as far as Seven was concerned.
“Good friends,” Seven lied, hoping it was convincing. She decided to add some truth to it to give it an air of credibility. “She was among the first of this crew to welcome me. There was some… trepidation when you made the decision to integrate me into the crew. Not everyone was as trusting of me at first as you, Sam, or Lieuten- Ensign Kim.”
Janeway failed to hide a small smile at that. Seven figured that the Captain was thinking she was right in picking Harry for her senior staff. Seven glanced at Jadzia, who was giving her a look that suggested she did not believe Seven and Sam were ‘just friends’ in the future, but thankfully she kept that to herself.

“Okay,” Janeway said. “Let’s say I buy your story. How did you end up here?”

Seven proceeded to tell Janeway about the anomaly that Voyager encountered, leaving out the name of the chief engineer as this Janeway only knew B’Elanna Torres as a member of the Maquis, and one she hadn’t met in person yet at that.
“And you’re saying that sickbay is in a different time period from both yourself and the bridge?” Jadzia said. “That actually makes sense given my readings. It also explains the serum running through your body. Your doctor infused it with chronitons? That’s brilliant. If we’re going to help you fix this we’ll need to replicate more of that serum. I think it may be the reason you’re passing through the ship without being affected by the anomaly. Or, further affected, I guess I should say.”

“Hang on,” Janeway said. “I’ll admit her story sounds plausible based on what both of you are telling me,” she looked back and forth between Seven and Jadzia to make it clear who she was talking about, “but I’m going to need more to go on before I let someone with Borg technology wander around my ship.”

“I don’t think I should be the one doing the wandering,” Seven said, as she tried to remember the name of Voyager’s CMO prior to them being pulled into the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker. “If I were to go with you to have Doctor Fitzgerald make more of the serum, I’d likely only end up in the time period sickbay is in.”
“Probably only you would though,” Jadzia said. “If I were to go I’d end up in sickbay as it is right now in this stardate.”
“So I would have to take her word for it,” Janeway said, “and let her leave the bridge unescorted? I don’t think so. I’m not ready to rule out some kind of Borg plot here just yet.”
“Oh like the Collective could come up with anything that clever at this point,” Seven muttered without realizing she’d done it. “I apologize for the outburst, Captain.”
Janeway narrowed her eyes, but not in anger. “What do you mean by ‘at this point?’ Are you referring to seven years from now, where you say you’re from?”
“Yes,” Seven said, wondering just how much about the Borg Degradation theory she should share. She realized that by now any hope of avoiding changing her own timeline had long since gone out the airlock, but decided to be concise anyway. “The Borg Collective, to put it simply, is slowly collapsing. By my time, they are already slower to adapt and regenerate, and are making increasingly bizarre tactical blunders. We’re at the point where the site of a Borg cube doesn’t even fill the crew with dread anymore.”

“Ooh, tell me more,” Jadzia said.
“No time,” Janeway said. “My ship is still malfunctioning, and you, Miss Hansen, seem to be right at the center of it all. I’m going to take a huge risk here, but I want you to get back to your sickbay, whichever year it’s in, and replicate more of the serum. I want a vial for myself, and enough for two guards and-”
“One for me,” Jadzia said.
“Lieutenant-” Janeway started to say, but Jadzia raised a hand to cut her off.
“Captain,” she said, “Pardon the interruption, but I’m a Trill. I have literally hundreds of years of experience to draw from. One of my prior hosts has even dealt with time travel before. I sincerely believe you’ll need me if we’re going to set this right, whatever this is. In addition, your ship is still docked to DS9. That means this technically falls under our jurisdiction.”
Janeway clearly didn’t appreciate being interrupted, something that would still be true seven years from now, but Seven could tell that she knew Jadzia was right. Seven would be grateful for the help. If it weren’t for this Trill, Janeway likely would’ve ordered her taken to the brig by now, and if the path to the brig passed through an area of the ship that was even further back than this, perhaps at Utopia Planitia while the shop was unfinished…

“Environmental suits may be advisable as well,” Seven said. “Until we know just how many areas of the ship are affected, and in what time periods there are, there’s a risk we could enter an area during a period when life support was not turned on, or damaged, or worse.”

“Good thinking,” Jadzia said. “Perhaps once we know more about the anomaly we can find some way to map the ship, figure out what areas are in what time periods. The only ones we know for certain are the bridge and sickbay.”
Janeway sighed.
“In that case,” she said, “the fewer the better. More people just increases the risk. Get enough serum for myself and Lieutenant Dax. But before you do that, figure out what time period engineering is in.”

“Right,” Jadzia said, “the warp core was where all this started when it struck Ensign Hansen.”

“Right away, Captain,” Seven said. “I suppose you’re not going to allow me a phaser?”
“Of course not,” Janeway said. “Why?”

“Because even before I joined the crew there were… incidents.”

Seven patted her belt where a phaser would be attached had she been given one, and sighed. At least she had an emergency breather unit with her, though if any section of the ship she entered was exposed to vacuum she could still be harmed, even if she stepped back in time.
If I am fortunate, she thought, engineering will still be in my timeline and B’Elanna can give me more information to work with.
She also wondered how she was going to explain to the Captain some of things she would be seeing once they were traversing the temporally fractured ship. Seven had a feeling that Jadzia Dax would likely take it all in stride, but Janeway would be a different, especially once she knew about the Delta Quadrant, the Maquis crewmembers, Neelix, and so much more. Seven respected the Captain, but she would’ve had to be naive to think that Janeway would be anything but overwhelmed by the information.

Seven did encounter a few crewmembers on her way to engineering, but some of them seemed to disappear as she passed them. That confirmed that the serum The Doctor had created was allowing her to move back and forth during the as yet unknown number of time zones Voyager seemed to be fractured into. She recognized the few people she saw as being alive in her time period, so she was able to at least peg sections of this hallway as probably being in 2377, but that was not a guarantee engineering itself would be. She reached the door to engineering, entered, and quickly found several Kazon weapons pointed in her face.

“Dammit,” Seven said.

“Who the hell are you?” a Cardassian woman said.

Safe to assume that’s Seska, Seven thought. I’ve heard about her.

“You’re not the first person to ask me that question today,” she said aloud. “I seem to be in the wrong timeline, so if you’ll just excuse me…”

“Grab her,” Seska said to the two Kazon closest to Seven.

“It was worth a shot,” Seven muttered, finally having to admit to herself that while not the worst, this was easily the strangest day she’d had since becoming an individual again.

“I don’t recall seeing you around before,” Seska said. “I think I’d remember a cyborg wearing Starfleet blues. Is that Borg tech on your eyebrow there?”

“Very astute,” Seven said.

“And you said ‘wrong timeline,” Seska said. “I’m guessing you’re from the future then. Here to stop us perhaps? You should’ve come sooner, it’s already too late for the Voyager crew. This ship belongs to the Kazon now. Thanks to me.”
“That won’t last, trust me,” Seven said. “You’re right about me being from the future though. One where you already lost. Since Cardassians tend towards fatalism, how about you just accept that, and let me get back to my job?”
Seska laughed.
“I like you,” she said. “I’ll still probably have to kill you, but I like you. So, tell me what I want to know, and I’ll make it quick and painless for you.”

“You’ve already figured out the most important part,” Seven said. “If you want specifics, this takeover of yours was five years ago from my perspective, before I joined the crew.”
Seska frowned.
“You expect me to believe that Janeway and her people are going to be able to reclaim this ship from the backwater planet we dropped them on?”
“She had help,” Seven said. “Not that I’ll tell you who or how. It isn’t that I’m worried about changing the timeline, this isn’t that kind of anomaly I’m dealing with. I just don’t feel like it.”
“I’m getting the impression you don’t like me very much,” Seska said. “Well, I won’t pretend to be some kind of hero, I know what I am. But I would bet that the people I betrayed to get here would still exaggerate.”
“They didn’t need to,” Seven said. “My step-daughter almost died on that planet you left her and the crew on. That’s reason enough for me to not like you.”
Seska’s expression was solid for a few moments, but then suddenly she laughed again.
“Little Naomi is your step-daughter? I never figured Ensign Wildman for that kind of woman.” Seska looked Seven up and down. “Though I can’t say she has bad taste.”

Seven suddenly felt the urge to hop in the nearest sonic shower and use the highest possible setting. The Kazon around her were chuckling, though at what she had no idea. She found nothing about this situation even mildly amusing.

“Enough banter,” Seven said, “If I don’t solve the problems caused by this anomaly, the ship will be destroyed, in all time periods. That means you and the Kazon here dying too, erased from history.” Seven didn’t actually know if that was the case or not, but considering her knowledge of such anomalies, knowledge gained both as part of the Borg collective and through practical experience aboard Voyager, she was approximately thirty-three percent certain that was a possibility.

This thought seemed to give Seska pause. Seven knew Seska didn’t like losing, based on what she had been told, and she had already told her that Voyager would be retaken. But non-existence probably didn’t hold any appeal to her either.
“We should just kill her,” one of the Kazon said. “This is obviously a fake story. Time travel isn’t possible.”
“It is,” Seska said. “Starfleet has a whole division of officers dedicated to dealing with the ramifications of it. The Department of Temporal Investigations.”

Seven saw that the Kazon who was talking to Seska was distracted enough to have lowered his weapon, and wondered if she’d have the chance to take advantage of it when Seska started talking to her again.
“It also helps your case that your temporal anomaly could explain why internal communications aren’t working. I was thinking sabotage at first, but if that were the case I doubt even a Starfleet officer would be dumb enough to just waltz into engineering unarmed.”

“That’s the second time today a malfunctioning system has actually benefitted me,” Seven said. “I suppose that’s somewhat ironic.”
“It’s certainly the reason I’m not letting them kill you. Yet,” Seska said, putting a strong emphasis on the word ‘yet.’ “I don’t believe you that this anomaly will destroy the ship, but I’m not foolish enough to think it won’t cause a problem for us at all. So, whatever it was you were planning to do in engineering, do it. But I’ll be watching you very closely, and if I see one sign of treachery from you, I’ll let my friends here kill you.”
“Fair enough, I suppose,” Seven said. She got up to follow Seska to a nearby console, wondering how she was going to get out of this when one of the Kazon made a tactical error. He grabbed the shoulder of her uniform and shoved her forward. Seven normally had excellent balance, but seeing an opportunity she allowed herself to stumble which put her in the position to grab the rifle of another Kazon. In one swift motion, she yanked it away from him, turned around to shoot the one who had grabbed her, and make a break for the turbolift. She regretted killing the Kazon, but as their weapons didn’t come with a stun setting, she had no choice. After all, if she survived and set things back to normal, that guard would likely live again and be one of the ones who escaped when Mahj Cullah and the others abandoned Voyager once Tom Paris and the Talaxians managed to disable the ship.
“Sickbay,” she said, as the turbolift door closed just in time to prevent Seska from shooting her herself. As the lift rose, the weapon faded away right in her hands, presumably falling to the floor in the timeline she’d grabbed it in. Seven sighed, but accepted it.

The Doctor paced back and forth, unsure what to do. Seven, or at least the Seven from three years in the future, should’ve been back by now. And why hadn’t anyone from the bridge noticed that communications wasn’t working? He hated not being able to figure it out for himself, but with the stolen mobile emitter not yet retrieved he literally had no options.

He also wondered if maybe he was wrong to take Seven at her word. He’d scanned her pretty thoroughly while she was unconscious, so he knew her Borg implants were functioning, and there was no sign of any chemical imbalances in her brain that could be causing delusions or hallucinations.

He heard the door open, and stopped pacing to see Seven step in, looking she’d just been running.
“What happened?” The Doctor said.

“I ran into Seska and the Kazon in engineering,” Seven said. “So we know when that part of the ship is in at least.”
“That was-”
“Yeah, I know how long ago it was. The bridge is even further back than that. Up there Voyager is still docked at DS9.”
“So,” The Doctor said, “you’re saying the anomaly that caused your injury has somehow fractured Voyager into multiple timelines?”
“That as good a way to put it as any,” Seven said. “I need you to replicate more of that serum. Two vials. One for Captain Janeway and one for Lieutenant Dax.”
“DS9’s science officer. She’s going to assist the Captain, or rather the past version of the Captain, and myself in correcting this issue. That serum is the reason I’m able to pass through each timeline.”

“I’ll get right on that,” The Doctor said, immediately getting to work. “I’ll have to infuse the hyposprays themselves too.”

“Of course,” Seven said, feeling foolish for not having considered that herself. She looked down at her uniform and comm badge. “Come to think of it, how have I been able to pass through the timelines without losing what I’m wearing?”
“I had injected you with the serum well before you woke up,” The Doctor said. “Perhaps it had time to seep through your pores?”
“Do you have an approximate guess how long? I’d rather not-”
“See the Captain au natural? That would be awkward. I’ll see what I can do.”
“Work quickly please, Doctor,”
“As quickly as I can.”

Jadzia ran her tricorder over the hyposprays Ensign Hansen had given her.
“This serum is amazing,” she said. “I had no idea your Doctor was so brilliant.”
“I’m sure he’d be happy to hear you say that,” Hansen said.

“Fitzgerald never struck me as the egotistical type,” Captain Janeway said. Jadzia saw Ensign Hansen look awkward for a very brief moment before collecting herself.
Fitzgerald isn’t their doctor in the future I’m guessing, Jadzia thought. Dead? Replaced? Maybe not relevant, but I should hang on to the information for later.

“I think we can safely use these, Captain,” Jadzia said, handing one to Janeway, and then injecting herself with the other.
“We should wait a few moments,” Hansen said, “Otherwise your uniforms will likely not cross the barrier with you.”
“I’m more worried about losing my phaser than my uniform,” Janeway said.
Ensign Hansen actually smirked a little, the most human expression the ex-Borg had shown yet since Jadzia had met her.
“It would be awkward though, Captain. Doubly so if my wife were to see me walking around with two naked women.”
“You’re married?” Jadzia said.
Hansen winced. “I shouldn’t have mentioned that.”
“You said you’d only been free of the collective for over three years in your timeframe,” Janeway said. “And you’re married already? That seems awfully fast.”

“I’d rather not discuss my personal life,” Hansen said. “We should focus on the mission.”
“I agree,” Jadzia said. She remembered the way that Ensign Hansen had glanced several times at Ensign Samantha Wildman, the ship’s chief xenobiologist. And now Hansen was saying she had a wife in the future. Jadzia put two and two together fairly quickly, but decided to keep it to herself.
Janeway cautiously pressed the hypospray to her own neck, then handed it back to Ensign Hansen.
“How long should we wait?” Janeway said.

“Approximately seven minutes,” Hansen said.
“In the meantime,” Jadzia said, “I can see about modifying Voyager’s sensors to see if we can map these temporal barriers.”
“”We’ll have better luck with that if we can get to the astrometrics lab,” Hansen said. “It’s been upgraded by my time. Enhanced using Borg technology. Mister Kim and I designed and built it shortly after I joined the crew.”
Jadzia felt her smile growing. A chance to work with Borg technology up close and personal without risk of assimilation was too good an opportunity to pass up.
“Lieutenant,” Janeway said, “I get the feeling you’re enjoying this way too much.”
“Is it that obvious?” Jadzia said. “I mean, come on Captain, are you honestly going to tell you are aren’t at all excited about the prospect of being able to time travel on foot? No one from the Federation has done that since the Guardian of Forever was destroyed by the Tholians.”
“History that in all likelihood only our ex-Borg over here is going to remember,” Janeway said.
Jadzia nodded, and looked at Hansen. “Ensign, how good’s your memory?”

“Photographic,” Hansen said.
“When you get back to your time, write everything down about this mission and send it to me. Don’t leave out any of the juicy details. I imagine I am going to enjoy reading it.”
“Very well, Lieutenant Dax,” Hansen said.

“Since I’m going to be finding myself in multiple futures,” Janeway said, “I’ll need a thorough briefing on what I might run into.”
Ensign Hansen sighed. “Captain, over the course of the next six years you will average anywhere from twenty-four to twenty-six ‘incidents’ a year, and it is unknown how many of them we’ll encounter. In addition, there may be areas of the ship that would be in my future, in which case my knowledge would be useless.”

“Are you suggesting we wing it?” Janeway said.
“Frankly, yes,” Hansen said.
“While we’re waiting,” Jadzia said, “what’s the situation in engineering?”
Hansen sighed, heavier this time.
“It’s in the hands of an enemy race you haven’t encountered yet,” she said. “I managed to escape, but just barely.”
Janeway’s eyes went wide. “And you didn’t think to mention this sooner?”
“I did not,” Hansen said, looking down at the floor. “I apologize for my error, Captain.”
Janeway rubbed her forehead.
“Maybe you should’ve brought enough serum for a full security detail,” Janeway said.
“The Kazon are ruthless, Captain. That would likely only get some of your people killed,” Hansen said. “Guerilla tactics are more advisable.”
“I can help with that,” Jadzia said. “I’ve been a soldier before. Several times.”

“Let’s save that for last, then,” Janeway said. “We don’t even know if we can fix the problem from there. Let’s focus on mapping the barriers first.”

“Aye, Captain,” Jadzia said. Ensign Hansen nodded her agreement.

“Pardon me,” Ensign Wildman said, “but I figured I’d run a scan while you were talking, and it looks like the serum has already begun to affect your clothes and your equipment.”
“Good thinking hon- Ensign,” Hansen said. The bridge suddenly grew very quiet.
“Excuse me?” Wildman said.
“We should get started, Captain. I’ll lead-” Hansen said, but Ensign Wildman grabbed her shoulder.
“Oh no,” she said. “Did you just call me ‘hon’? What are we in the future? The truth.”
Hansen looked at Captain Janeway as though she expected the Captain to intervene. Instead, Janeway merely crossed her arms.
Ensign Hansen sighed and pulled a small metal ring out of her pocket and handed it to Ensign Wildman.
“I think you’ll find your birth date etched on the inside of that,” Hansen said.
Ensign Wildman shook her head, refusing to take it.
“No. I don’t believe you. I’m already married. My husband and I are trying to have a baby. I wouldn’t just dump him for some ex-Borg drone.”
“You didn’t dump him, Sam, it’s not like that.”
“What? Are you saying he’s dead?”
“Then what? What happens seven years from now that I’m married to you?”
“I-I don’t think I should say. I’ve already said too much about the future as is.”
Jadzia felt very uncomfortable, and started to move forward to intervene before the situation got any worse, but Hansen continued.
“I’m sorry, Sammy, but-”
The slap was so loud, Jadzia reflexively winced.

“Samantha!” Janeway said in shock. “You’re out of line!”

“I’m sorry, I just-,” Ensign Wildman said to Ensign Hansen. “I don’t know you. You have to be lying. There’s no way I would just leave-”
“Ensign Wildman, that is enough,” Janeway said. “You’re dismissed. Go to your quarters and calm down. That’s an order.”
Ensign Wildman didn’t reply. She simply turned and headed for the turbolift, appearing as shocked by her own outburst as everyone else was.

Jadzia was closest to Ensign Hansen, so she stepped up to her side.
“You okay, Annika?” Jadzia said, hoping she wasn’t being too familiar with the Ensign.
“No,” Ensign Hansen said, her facial expression shifting into one of grim determination. “Let’s fix it.”

Seven exited the turbolift so quickly that Captain Janeway and Lieutenant Dax had to jog to keep up.
“I’m sorry, Ensign,” Janeway said. “What happened on the bridge was just uncalled for.”
“It’s alright, Captain,” Seven said. “Once this anomaly has been dealt with, that will not have happened.”
“She doesn’t do anything like that in your timeline does she?” Jadzia said, and Seven stopped and glared at her. “I’ll take that as a ‘no.’”
“The Sam of this time is new to high-stress situations, and I revealed something I shouldn’t have. She was clearly overwhelmed.”
“She’s a Starfleet officer,” Janeway said, “she should know better than to lose her cool like that.”
“If it’s any consolation, Captain,” Seven said. “based on her record this incident is an outlier.”

“An outlier that left a hand-shaped red mark on your face,” Jadzia said.
“Please discontinue this line of conversation,” Seven said forcefully. The Trill science officer mercifully stopped talking. Seven was starting to get annoyed at Jadzia’s personality; what some of her colleagues aboard Voyager would’ve called ‘perky.’ In Naomi it was charming, but from a Starfleet officer it wore out its welcome quickly.
While walking Seven passed through a barrier and found herself in a section of hall that, unlike the area behind them, was clearly in red alert mode. She spotted the two crew members lying unconscious before Janeway did.

“I’m detecting an active neurogenic field,” Jadzia said, her tricorder already out.
“This could be the telepathic pitcher plant, or it could be the time aliens invaded our dreams,” Seven said. “Either way, they will be fine.”
“We’ve got to get them help,” Janeway said.
“We got out of both those situations without any losses,” Seven said. “Bumps and bruises from people falling against walls when they went to sleep, but nothing requiring surgery.”
“I’d love to know how,” Jadzia said. “Later of course. Put in your report.”

“It’s really important for you to remember this, isn’t it?” Janeway said to Jadzia.
“I’m not unsympathetic,” Jadzia said, “I understand that this is likely a stressful situation for you two, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find this mission exciting.”
“Isn’t there enough excitement living next to the Alpha Quadrant’s only stable wormhole?” Janeway said.

“Sometimes,” Jadzia said, “but I’m over 300 years old. I get bored easily.”
Seven hated to admit it, but she found Jadzia’s argument somewhat reasonable. Didn’t make it less annoying, but she decided that as long as the Trill could remain professional when it counted, she wouldn’t make an issue of it.
“Astrometrics is just this way,” Seven said. She soon entered the lab, and saw two gold-shirtedofficers with their backs to them. One of them turned around, and without having to ask, she realized who it was.
“Naomi?” Seven said.
“Hi, Seven,” adult Naomi said.
“Good to see you again, Captain,” the other officer said, and Seven looked and was shocked to see that the male officer was an equally grown-up Icheb. “It’s been far too long.”
“Icheb” Naomi said, “Temporal prime Directive, remember?”
“Right, I apologize,” Icheb said.
“I’m sorry, I’m afraid I don’t know you, ma’am,” Naomi said, looking at Jadzia.
“Jadzia Dax, DS9,” Jadzia said. “So how do you know Ensign Hansen, or Seven as you just called her?”
“She’s my step-mom,” Naomi said.
“Wait,” Janeway said, “is your mother Samantha Wildman?”
“Yes,” Naomi said. She looked back at Seven. “Icheb was starting to think you wouldn’t show up, that we’d used up all of our contacts to get Voyager out of mothballs for nothing.”
“Now who’s violating the Temporal Prime Directive?” adult Icheb said jokingly.
“Wow,” Seven said, overcome with emotion. “You two have grown so much. How far in my future is this?”
“Seventeen years since you told us we’d need to be here,” Naomi said. “Don’t worry though, this isn’t a stable time loop, not really. Past Janeway and Lieutenant Dax here won’t remember anything once we’ve fixed this.”
“Well, comforting to know we succeed,” Janeway said,
“It would be ill-advised to get complacent,” Seven said. “Assuming certain victory is often the first step to total failure.”
“Agreed,” Naomi said. “You never mentioned anything about a Trill officer coming with you and the Captain before. This could mean this is actually not your first time through this.”
“Well, that’s disturbing,” Jadzia said, and Seven was inclined to agree with her.
“I’ll understand if you can’t tell me but, is there a reason I or Sam couldn’t be here?” Seven said.
“They didn’t want to, actually,” Icheb said. “You didn’t feel it was necessary, and Samantha thought seeing the younger version of you would be, and I quote, weird.”
“Besides, what would Mom do with two Seven of Nines here?” Naomi said.
Jadzia opened her mouth to speak, but Janeway gently elbowed her in the arm.
“Don’t,” Janeway said, pointing at Jadzia.
“I wasn’t going to say anything,” Jadzia said.
“Sure you weren’t,” Janeway said, leaving Seven wondering just what they meant.
“Anyway,” Naomi said, moving over to one of the lab’s consoles, one that looked bigger than when Seven has seen it last, “what happened was a chronokinetic surge interacted with the warp core. It shattered the space-time continuum aboard ship. Thirty-seven timelines to be exact. The lab is the only one I know for certain to be in your relative future, Seven.”

“I’m sorry, I have to ask,” Janeway said, “why does she keep calling you Seven?”

“Because, I largely chose to continue going by my Borg designation after leaving the Collective. The transition to individuality was difficult, though Samantha helped a lot in that regard. Generally, I only allow her to call me by my birth name, Annika, though there’ve been circumstantial exceptions. I used it on the bridge out of concern that going by Seven of Nine would not make you inclined to believe what I’m telling you.”
Janeway nodded. “I’ll admit it, that was a fair assessment.”
“So, are we calling you Seven for the rest of the mission,” Jadzia said, “or are we still going with Ensign Hansen? I don’t want anyone to get confused.”
“We’re travelling through time, I think it’s a little late for that,” Janeway said.
“I hate to interrupt,” Naomi said, “but there’s still the matter of fixing the ship.”
“Perhaps if we can find a section of the ship that’s still in the time frame of when the incident occurred,” Jadzia said, “we can prevent the strike from happening in the first place.”

Naomi and Icheb shared a look.
“What is it?” Seven said.

“The initial impact point is gone,” Icheb said. “There are parts of the ship that exist in the immediate aftermath, mere hours, but the moment itself, and just before, if you tried to go there you’d end up in open space.” He called up a schematic of Voyager on the lab’s screen, and pointed to where he was talking about.

“Well, shit,” Seven muttered.
“Language,” Naomi said, stifling a chuckle.
“All these years and I still can’t escape that,” Seven said, but not with any anger.
“So what do we do then?” Janeway said.
“We don’t know,” Naomi said sadly. “All Seven told, or will tell us, is to put you on the right track and tell you which area of the ship to avoid; the one that’s exposed to vacuum.”
“Also how many timelines there were,” Icheb said.
“Right, that too. “
“Thirty-seven,” Seven said, “Understood. Thank you, Naomi. Icheb. I’m happy to know you’re both going to grow up okay. And that Sam and I are still together after twenty years. Though I know better than to assume it will always be easy.”

“Few things worth doing are easy,” Naomi said. “You and Mom taught me that.”

“We should get going,” Janeway said. “We still need to figure out to fix this. I’m just glad to know we can.”
“Even if it takes multiple tries, apparently,” Jadzia said.

Seven gave her grown up children a big hug before following Captain Janeway and Lieutenant Dax back into the corridor.

They said ‘get Voyager out of mothballs,’ Seven thought. I suppose that means the ship does make it to the Alpha Quadrant sometime in the next seventeen years. That’s comforting.

“Where to next, Seven?” Janeway said.
Seven let out a long breath. “I do have an idea, but I’m certain you won’t like it.”
Janeway crossed her arms. “I’ve not liked a lot of things today. Try me.”
“When a Borg cube travels through a transwarp corridor,” Seven said, “the temporal stresses are extreme. To keep the different sections of the cube in temporal sync, they project a chroniton field throughout the vessel.”
“That doesn’t sound too bad,” Janeway said. “Why did you not want to suggest it?”
“It would require specially designed conduits. I would need Borg technology to create them,” Seven said.
“According to you we already use Borg tech in astrometrics,” Janeway said.
“The map the kids- Naomi and Icheb showed us shows me where I can obtain the necessary resources,” Seven said, suddenly sounding nervous.

“Ensign,” Janeway said, “Why. Is This. A problem?”
“Cargo bay 2,” Seven said. “During the time when it was occupied by the Borg. Including myself, when I was still a drone.”
“You don’t want to meet your past self,” Jadzia said, “and be reminded of your time as a drone. I can empathize with that.”
Janeway sighed. “I don’t think we have much of a choice, but before we go you’re going to tell me exactly why the Borg are using one of my cargo bays.”
Janeway listened as Seven told her in broad strokes about the Borg conflict with Species 8472, Janeway’s alliance with them, and how Seven was the lone drone to survive when the first officer vented the cargo bay into space after Janeway was briefly incapacitated. Janeway took note that Seven took great care not to say the name of the first officer, leading her to wonder if something bad was going to happen to Cavit in the future.
“I see,” Janeway said. “I’m starting to question my future self’s judgement here.”

“Sounds to me like you, or rather future you, made the right call, Captain,” Jadzia said. “Assuming Seven of Nine here isn’t exaggerating, Species 8472 was xenophobic, aggressive, able to destroy whole planets with just a small fleet… The Borg were definitely the lesser evil there.”
“I suppose I shouldn’t judge,” Janeway said, “seeing as I wasn’t there. Or won’t be there. Whatever, let’s just go to the cargo bay and see if we can get what we need. Just be ready to run if we need to.”
The trio made their way quickly to cargo bay 2, passing the unconscious crewmembers from earlier once more before heading down a different corridor. Once inside, Janeway nearly gulped at the site of one of her cargo bays looking more like the inside of a Borg cube.
“What has happened to this vessel?” a drone said, approaching them while all the others continued about their business as if three Starfleet officers hadn’t just wandered in.
The drone looked very familiar, as she looked at Seven.
“You are me, but no longer a drone. Explain.”
“This is going to get confusing,” Seven said, looking uncomfortably at the Borg drone she used to be.

Seven, or rather the Seven from the future, straightened her uniform and proceeded to explain the situation in a very clipped, Borg-like manner to her past self. Janeway feared that past-Seven might attempt to assimilate them, but instead she went to a Borg computer console and began entering information.
“Your plan is sufficient,” past-Seven said, “though you will need to create a powerful field once the conduits are stored throughout the vessel.”

“We’d need to get to engineering,” future-Seven said. “And that will mean a direct fight with the Kazon.”
“That should not be difficult,” past-Seven said. Janeway thought for a moment that the Borg drone sounded smug, but that couldn’t possibly be right.

“Once it is done, it will force Voyager back into temporal sync,” past-Seven said.
“Temporal sync with when?” Jadzia said.
Future-Seven manipulated a few controls herself. “It’ll essentially be a hard reset, to the moment of the original chronokinetic surge. I’ll have six to seven seconds to try and counteract the warp core reaction.”
“That’s not a lot of time,” Janeway said.
“I can do it,” Future Seven said, sounding more certain than arrogant.

Hopefully she’s not letting her desire to see her family again cloud her judgement, Janeway thought.
“Your plan is inefficient,” past-Seven said. “There are only three of you to place the conduits around the ship. If you would allow us to assimilate you into a small collective, you could assimilate others and complete the task more quickly.”
“No,” future-Seven said forcefully.

Past-Seven looked at her future self quizzically, but did not press the issue.
“We will begin construction of the conduits immediately,” past-Seven said. “You will obtain more of the chroniton serum in order to carry them through the ship.”
Janeway didn’t like being ordered around, but she also didn’t like the idea of being assimilated, so she took the high road.
“We’re on it.” She motioned for future-Seven and Jadzia to follow her out of the cargo bay.
“We’ll need to head to sick bay then,” Seven said. She sighed. “I must inform you that Doctor Fitzgerald will not be the one you meet when you get there, Captain.”
“I assumed as much,” Janeway said. “Jeff’s good, but there’s nothing in his record to indicate he’s that good. Who’s my CMO in your timeline?”
“The Emergency Medical Hologram,” Seven said.
“Wait, what?” Janeway said.

“I’ve replicated these belts to resist the effects of the temporal barriers, just like the hyposprays,” The Doctor said, as Captain Janeway and Lieutenant Dax adjusted theirs. “Anything you attach to them should be able to pass through the barriers with you with no problem.”
“You know,” Jadzia said, “it’s a shame DS9 isn’t equipped to handle an EMH. I had no idea you were so versatile.”
The Doctor beamed with pride at the compliment. “Normally we’re not. Most of the Mark I’s ended up doing menial work-”

“Doctor?” Seven said, “Temporal Prime Directive, remember?”
The Doctor rolled his eyes. “Before today, Seven, I don’t recall you ever caring about that. Besides, you said yourself this plan would reset everything, so the Captain here wouldn’t know about the Delta Quadrant or-”

“Delta Quadrant?” Janeway said.
The Doctor winced. He looked back and forth between a shocked Janeway, and an annoyed Seven of Nine.
“Ooh, the plot thickens,” Jadzia said.

“I figured there had to be a reason why we don’t have a real doctor in your timeline, Seven,” Janeway said.
“Now just a minute-” The Doctor said defensively.
“But what’s this about the Delta Quadrant?”
“I’ll explain along the way,” Seven said to Janeway, though she was glowering at The Doctor the whole time, as if to say “This is all your fault.”

“I thought we were going to split up,” Jadzia said. “Wouldn’t that get this done faster?”
“Faster, yes,” The Doctor said. “But remember Lieutenant Dax, most people on this ship either don’t know you at all, or know you as being on DS9. Going by yourself could lead to questions at best, being tagged as an intruder at worst. That would definitely slow you down.”
“He’s right, Lieutenant,” Janeway said. “It may take longer, but it’s for the best. Seven knows what we might be running into out there, and if we end up in the past again I’m the only one who can vouch for her.” Janeway finished clipping her belt. “Let’s get back to cargo bay 2, get those conduits, and get to work.”

Seven opened a panel and began installing one of the conduits, Captain Janeway helping her, while Jadzia worked alone on another one at the end of the corridor.
“Can I ask you something?” Janeway said.
“Of course, Captain,” Seven said.
“I started off with a crew of 153,” Janeway said. “I already know I lost my doctor, and my nurses apparently. I’m guessing I lose my first officer the way you dance around using any names when the subject comes up. When we get pulled into the Delta Quadrant by this, Caretaker, you called him?”
“That is correct,” Seven said, feeling uncomfortable with where this was going. She’d had to tell the Captain that Voyager was in the Delta Quadrant, no thanks to The Doctor, but she’d kept details as spare as she felt she could get away with, and place strong emphasis on the fact that Voyager was in regular contact with Starfleet now and that a combined thirty years of travel time had been shaved off the journey, with hope for more ever-present.
“How many people do I lose?”
Seven sighed. “Many Starfleet vessels suffer casualties,” she said. “But you’ll gain new crewmembers as well.”
“Like you,” Janeway said.
“Like me,” Seven said. Janeway opened her mouth to say more, but a loud buzzing noise distracted her. Seven did not recognize the noise, but when she turned around and saw its source, she recognized it all too well from the ship’s logs.
“Run!” Seven shouted as the macrovirus flew towards them.
“What the hell is that?” Jadzia said, nearly stumbling as she rushed to her feet. Seven didn’t say anything until they passed through a temporal barrier, the macrovirus disappearing as it tried to follow.
“A macrovirus,” Seven said. “They infected the ship some time before I joined the crew. I never saw one in person before though. It is exactly as disturbing as Sam described them to me.”
“Had I not just run away from one,” Jadzia said, “I would say you were being ridiculous.”

“I can understand that,” Seven said. “Though really, that could apply to any number of phenomena I’ve encountered both as a Borg drone and as a crew member of Voyager.”

“It sounds to me like it’s one disaster after another on this ship,” Janeway said, shaking her head.

“It can seem like that at times,” Seven admitted, “but you and your crew will get the opportunity to study things no Alpha Quadrant species had ever seen before. If nothing else, consider the countless lives you likely saved by stopping Species 8472 from continuing their incursions from fluidic space. Incursions that were the Borg’s fault, I might add.”
“I’m not sure having to clean up the Borg’s mess is something to be proud of,” Janeway said. “We’re not done with this conversation, I still want to know what happens to my crew. But we should keep going. The next junction is in holodeck 1.”

“I want a copy of that program,” Jadzia said, smiling as the three them left the holodeck and went back to being in full color. “Captain Proton, right?”
“Yes,” Seven said, “it’s one of Tom’s programs, modelled on early twentieth-century Earth science fiction.”

“Tom?” Captain Janeway said. “As in Tom Paris?”
Seven nodded.
“What does he end up doing on the ship once we’re stranded?” Janeway said.

Seven seemed reluctant to answer. Jadzia was frankly getting annoyed at the constant tension there seemed to be between these two, so she stepped between them to cut off the conversation.
“Where is the next location for the conduits?” she said.
“Transporter room 3,” Seven said.
“Remember, send me a copy of that program,” Jadzia said. “I especially liked the boxy robot.”
“You mean the one that grabbed me?” Janeway said. “If you ask me Mister Paris’s tastes are not exactly sophisticated.”

“Better a boxy robot than annoying British children,” Jadzia heard Seven mutter under her breath.
“What was that, Ensign?” Janeway said, narrowing her eyes.
“Nothing, Captain,” Seven said, clearing her throat and leading the way to the transporter room. When they got there, Seven was initially relieved to see B’Elanna Torres and Lieutenant Ayala, but once she registered their Maquis garb, and their angry looks at Captain Janeway, that relief quickly vanished.
“What the hell’s going on? Why can’t we contact the bridge?” B’Elanna said to Janeway.

“You’ll have to ask her,” Janeway said, pointing a thumb at Seven.
“Since when do Starfleet captains let ensigns tell them what to do?” B’Elanna said, looking like she was ready to hit somebody.
“Captain, meet your future chief engineer,” Seven said as she removed the necessary panel.
“What?” both Janeway and B’Elanna said at the same time.

“There’s a temporal anomaly affecting the ship, B’Elanna” Seven continued.

“Do I know you?” B’Elanna said.
“Not yet,” Seven said.
“This is ridiculous,” B’Elanna said.
“It’s been that kind of day,” Janeway said. “Seven, care to explain to me why I have Maquis in my transporter room?”
“Are you serious?!” B’Elanna shouted. “You’re the reason we’re stranded here!”
“If we could just all calm down-” Jadzia said,.
“Shut it, Starfleet!” B’Elanna said.
“Hold on,” Janeway said. “Seven, I want an honest answer from you. Is she right? Am I the reason Voyager ends up in the Delta Quadrant?”
“The Caretaker is the reason you’re here,” Seven said. “You and the Maquis. The Caretaker also took the ship Lieutenant Commander Tuvok was embedded on.”
“Seven, enough dancing around the issue,” Janeway said. “I want to know how many people I lose after Voyager leaves DS9, and we are not leaving this room until you tell me.”
“My god, you’re actually telling the truth,” B’Elanna said to Janeway. “That means you can fix this. You don’t have to destroy the array-”
“Once we’ve repaired the damage,” Seven said, cutting B’Elanna off, “time will reset to where I am, seven years in your future. I’m sorry B’Elanna, but you’re going to be in the Delta Quadrant for a little while longer.”
“Don’t talk to me like we’re friends.”
“We are friends,” Seven said. “In my timeline anyway. For instance, I don’t hold it against it you that you decided to simulate a near death experience because you believed it was the only way to save your mother’s soul from the Barge of the Dead the day before my wedding.”
B’Elanna was suddenly speechless, sharing glances with Ayala and the other two Maquis in the transporter room.
“That’s clever,” Jadzia said to B’Elanna. “I could see Kang trying to pull a trick like that.”
“The conduit is in place,” Seven said. “We should continue.”
“You still haven’t answered my question,” Janeway said.
“Captain,” Seven said, “I don’t see how the knowledge would be of any use to you, given that once we’ve undone the effects of the anomaly you won’t remember any of this anyway. Your guilt over your decision to destroy the Caretaker’s array is irrelevant.”

“Now you’re talking like a Borg,” Janeway said, glowering. “I thought you were human now.”
“I am both,” Seven said.
“Okay, now I’m really confused,” Ayala said.

“Ssh,” B’Elanna said.

“If you absolutely must know,” Seven said, “over one dozen Voyager crewmembers are killed by the wave the Caretaker used to bring you to the array. The Maquis vessel that was brought here was destroyed during a battle with the Kazon.”

“The people currently occupying engineering in one of the other timelines?” Janeway said.
“Wait,” B’Elanna said, “there’s Kazon on the ship? Now?”
“Yes and no,” Seven said.
“Let her finish,” Janeway said. “So I assume the Maquis survivors end up integrating into the crew?”
“Correct,” Seven said. “As I said, B’Elanna Torres is your chief engineer. Lieutenant Ayala returns to security division, which he was in before joining the Maquis.” Seven sighed. “And, as you may have guessed, your first officer was among those killed. Chakotay takes his place.”
Janeway’s jaw dropped. She turned to look at Jadzia. “Do you think it would be possible to reset the anomaly so that I can bring Voyager back to my time? To prevent-”

“Wait, hang on,” B’Elanna said. “Even if that’s possible, you realize that means you’d be leaving my people stuck in the Delta Quadrant right? Are you really that damn selfish? Destroying the array was bad enough but-”
“I understand your desire to protect your crew,” Seven said, “and that the knowledge I’ve given you is disheartening. The loss of Cavit, Stadi, Fitzgerald and the others is not something you’ve gotten over, not even in my time. But what about Tuvok? Your oldest friend, a man whose youngest daughter you attended the birth of? You’d be abandoning him.”
“How dare-”
“And what about Species 8472? Without your intervention, they would present a threat to the entire galaxy. You suffer losses over the next seven years that weigh heavily on you, I know this all too well. But you will save thousands upon thousands of lives as well. Including mine. Including my adopted son’s.”
“If I may interject here-” Jadzia said.
“Shut it, Lieutenant,” Janeway said.
“With all due respect, ma’am, no. This argument is moot anyway. I’ve gone over the data, same as you. When we repair the damage and initiate the energy surge, Voyager will reset to the time of the chronokinetic impact. Seven years from my and your time, Captain. I’m sorry, but Ensign Hansen is right.”

The transporter room was uncomfortably quiet for less than a minute, though Seven was certain that it felt longer for everyone else.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” B’Elanna said. “We’re fighters,” she added, looking at Ayala and the other two Maquis. “If you need engineering to do this, and it’s in the hands of the Kazon, well, let’s just say I may not like Starfleet very much, but there’s no love lost with the Kazon either.”
Janeway sadly nodded. “Yeah,” she said softly. “That’s probably not a bad idea. We can rig up some phaser rifles with the serum.”

“Agreed” Seven said. “We’ll get to that once we’ve installed the remainder of the conduits.”
Janeway sighed. “I suppose there’s little point in second guessing a decision I haven’t made yet. I just hope that whatever I did to strand us all out here was truly worth it.”

Janeway had been told that her formerly private dining quarters had been turned into a mess hall by an alien she would meet in the Delta Quadrant named Neelix, so she was prepared to see other people there. What she was not prepared for was seeing it being used a triage. She saw numerous wounded crew members, all of them being looked over by Tom Paris, Samantha Wildman, and a crewman she didn’t recognize.
When Samantha turned to look in their direction, she was surprised to see unrepressed joy on her face.
“Annie!” she yelled, running up to and throwing her arms around Seven of Nine. “Where have you been? When you didn’t show up in sickbay after B’Elanna called for the emergency beam out I was so scared.”
Seven took Sam’s hands in hers and kissed them.
“I’m fine. It’s complicated.”
Sam looked over Seven’s shoulder at Janeway and Jadzia, and frowned.
“Honey,” Samantha said, “why is DS9’s science officer standing behind you? More importantly, how?”

“Time travel, hon,” Seven said with a sigh.
Sam winced. “Ouch. Say no more. I was really hoping we’d never have to deal with time travel again. Like, ever.”
“Don’t worry,” Seven said, “at least there aren’t any anti-Vulcan bigots to deal with this time.”

Janeway wondered what the hell Seven and Samantha were talking about. She glanced at Jadzia who smiled as she watched the couple talking.
“Oh, they are just adorable,” Jadzia said, seemingly to no one. Janeway sighed, and looked around the room, only to gasp when she saw Tuvok lying on one of the cots, looking badly burned.
She went over to him.

“Captain,” Tuvok said through labored breaths, “I am… relieved that you are here.” He raised his hand, and Janeway took it. “I want you to know, it has been an honor to serve with you, and to be your friend.”
Tuvok started convulsing.
“I need help over here!” Janeway shouted. The blue shirted crewmen who has been helping Tom and Samantha rushed over, Seven and Samantha close behind him.
“James, is there anything we can do for him?” Sam said.
“Not without more anti-radiation meds, but with comms down I can’t get enough up here in time,” the blue shirt, James, said.
“Live long, and prosper,” Tuvok said, wincing as he made the Vulcan salute, before his eyes closed, and he stopped breathing.
A steady noise came out of James’ tricorder, and he sighed.
“I’m sorry, Captain,” he said.
“Oh no,” Sam muttered, leaning on Seven.
“You did what you could, Mister Morrow,” Seven said.
“If I’d had more medical training maybe I could’ve done more,” James said.

“Sorry to interrupt,” Jadzia said, “but I got the conduit installed. It was in the galley, like Seven said.”
“We should go,” Seven said. “Sam, keep doing what you can for the wounded. If what the Captain, Lieutenant Dax and I are doing works, everyone here will be fine.”
“I hope so,” Sam said. She kissed Seven on the lips. “Just stay safe.”
“I will,” Seven said. She and Jadzia headed for the opposite exit, while Janeway just stared at her friend’s body.
“Captain?” Seven said. “I’m sorry, but we need to keep moving.”
“Right,” Janeway said. She slowly followed Seven and Jadzia into the turbolift.
“Captain, I-” Seven started to say.
“Save it,” Janeway said grimly. “You’ve already made it clear I can’t keep Voyager out of the Delta Quadrant, and I have to accept that. But I don’t have to accept having watched my best friend die. When we do this rest, you make damn sure you use that six to seven seconds well.”
“Yes, Captain,” Seven said.
“That James Morrow,” Janeway said. “I don’t recall his name being on the list of Maquis personnel Tuvok sent us before he disappeared in the Badlands. Where did we get him?”
“He’s one of the survivors of the U.S.S. Equinox,” Seven said. “It’s a long story.”
“Even if it wasn’t,” Janeway said, “I think I’m tired of details. I know too much already, and I can only blame myself for forcing you to tell me. From here on out, just the bare minimum, please.”
“Understood,” Seven said. “As for what’s next, we’ll need a plan to retake engineering. The conduit in the mess hall was the last one we needed to place.”
“I think I have one,” Janeway said. “But we’ll need more of that serum first.”
“How much?” Seven said.
Janeway thought about it for a moment, and almost surprised herself when the mental images of just who she’d be bringing with her came to mind. Despite herself, she smiled.
“Oh, I think I like where this is going,” Jadzia said.

Why the hell did I agree to be the bait? Seven thought as she found herself once again looking at Seska, and surrounded by armed Kazon. She did exactly as Captain Janeway had suggested, and told Seska the truth about the conduits and the anomaly, selectively leaving out certain details also per instructions.
“So you see,” Seven said, “it’s in both our interests to work together.”

“Hmm. I agree,” Seska said. “Let her go.”
“You believe her?” one of the Kazon said.
“You ran the sensor scans yourself,” Seska said. “You saw the same chroniton signatures I did. I must admit, Ensign Seven of Nine, that your solution is quite ingenious.”
“I’m glad you are cooperating,” Seven said, waiting for the metaphorical other shoe to drop.

“Oh, I believe in cooperation, so long as it benefits me,” Seska said. “As I said, your plan was ingenious, but it needs a slight modification. Step away from the console.”
“You know,” Seven said, “just once you could try not betraying someone.”
“This isn’t betrayal, it’s a modification, like I said. I will reset the timeline as intended, but I believe I can set it so that it ends up here, and the Kazon and I will still have the ship.” Seska motioned to the two Kazon behind her, who raised their weapons at Seven.
“That is of course,” she continued, “once we get out of you just how Janeway and her crew take back the ship.”

Seven decided to indulge in the kind of smile she normally reserved for her family, but with a slight modification of her own; smugness.
“In the original timeline, or right now?”
“What?” Seska said.
“Now,” Seven said. At that, Jadzia Dax and Ayala from the timeline in the transporter room appeared from the other side of a temporal barrier, rushing the two Kazon nearest Seven, catching them off-guard and tackling them easily before managing to wrestle their guns away from them. The other Kazon tried to rush their position but were hit with phaser rifle fire from the upper balcony by Captain Janeway and a still-Maquis garb clad B’Elanna Torres.
“Kill them!” Seska scream as Seven went back to the console and began preparing for the pulse. More phaser fire came as a pair of Kazon who about to get a bead on Seven were taken out by grown-up Naomi and Icheb.

The rest of the Kazon were quickly neutralized by the other two Maquis from the transporter room, but not before Seska was able to grab both a fallen Kazon rifle and Seven of Nine.
Dammit, how did I let her get the drop on me? Seven thought.
Seska backed towards the main exit from engineering. Seven knew what, or rather who, was coming from that direction so decided not to struggle.

“I want you to replicate more of your serum, Captain,” Seska said. “You will use it on me and my people so we can have access to the rest of your ship.”
“That’s not going to happen,” Janeway said.
“Then poor baby Naomi is going to have to live with only one mom,” Seska said.
“Really?” Seven said. “That’s the best comeback you could think of?”
Before Seska could reply, Seven felt Seska’s grip release as she yelled in panic. Seven turned and saw her past-self easily disable Seska, dropping the Kazon weapon to the floor. Seska tried to fight back, but past-Seven showed no signs of difficulty in holding her at bay.
“Resistance is futile,” Seven said with a smirk. Her past-self tilted her head in apparent confusion, but said nothing.

“Damn, Seska,” B’Elanna said, “your plan must really be shit if even the Borg think it’s a bad idea.”

Adult Naomi walked up to the restrained Seska, and punched her.
“That’s for leaving me and Mom to die when I was a baby,” she said.
“Okay,” Janeway said, “no need for further violence. Secure her and the rest of the Kazon. All the conduits are in place. Seven- er, Ensign Hansen, are you ready?”
“I am. Thank you, Captain.”
“Make it worth it,” Janeway said. “Everyone, once the Kazon are taken care of get back to your timeline, ASAP.”
Jadzia walked over to Seven, and offered her hand to shake. “Remember, I want a copy of your report on this mission. Don’t leave out anything. I wish I could say I can’t wait to read it, but, well…”
“I will,” Seven said. “I promise.”
“If you make it back to the Alpha Quadrant soon enough, stop by DS9 sometime. I’ll treat you and your wife to a couple of raktajinos,” Jadzia said before following B’Elanna and the others back through the temporal barriers.

Janeway was the last to go, walking over to Seven.
“One last question,” she said, “Is Samantha the only reason you stayed? I imagine at some point, at least at first, you must’ve wanted to go back to the Borg. It had to have been difficult for you to transition from part of a collective to an individual.”

“It was,” Seven said, “and while I do still believe you made some mistakes in how you handled it at first, I do believe I would’ve stayed if Samantha hadn’t been there. It just probably would’ve taken longer for me to fit in.”
Janeway nodded. “I can see that. Thank you, Seven. Good luck.”

Janeway shook Seven’s hand before going through the temporal barrier. Seven was now alone, except for some dead and unconscious Kazon, and a cuffed and gagged Seska, the gag having been B’Elanna’s idea.

Seven waited for the others to have ample time to return to their timelines, and initiated the pulse. The warp core began glowing, the glow intensifying to the point where Seven was almost blinded, but within seconds she saw her surroundings change.
“Seven, how’d you get here so fast?” B’Elanna said.
“No time. Reroute power to the deflector,” Seven said, “and set the polarity to the frequency I’m inputting.”

“Why?” B’Elanna said.
“I’ll explain later,” Seven said, “after we save the ship.”

Inside, Seven counted down the remaining seconds she had before she would find out whether or not this worked. Three, two, one…
The ship shuddered, but the warp core did not spark, and there was no leak that require engineering to be evacuated. Seven let out the breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding, and leaned back against a pillar.
“The deflector dish is burned out,” B’Elanna said, “but otherwise we’re fine. That energy burst from the anomaly could’ve really hurt us. How did you- wait, never mind, I think I can guess.” She shook her head. “Stable time loop?”

“Nope,” Seven said. “I’m not sure how to classify it really. I don’t think DTI has a page in the handbook for what I went through today.”
B’Elanna snorted. “I bet they do, but whatever it was you saved us from, thanks.”
“You’re quite welcome,” Seven said.

Ezri Dax read the PADD she’d been handed this morning with the message from Voyager. She’d been surprised to receive it, as no one she knew was on that vessel, nor were any acquaintances of Jadzia’s.
She heard the sound of the chair at the other end of her table in the replimat and looked up to see Julian Bashir taking a seat.
“Sorry I’m late,” he said. “Turns out the Breen delegation is going to arrive earlier than planned, so I needed to make sure the environmental controls in their guest quarters were in place so they wouldn’t have to wear their helmets the whole time.”
“Okay,” Ezri said, going back to reading.
“What’s that?” Julian asked.

“A letter from Seven of Nine,” Ezri said.
“The Seven of Nine? From Voyager? I wasn’t aware you knew her,” Julian said.
“I didn’t,” Ezri said. “But apparently Jadzia did. In another timeline anyway.”
Julian winced.
“Poor Voyager,” he said. “Even all the way out in the Delta Quadrant they can’t get away from all that time travel nonsense. I bet there are agents at Temporal Investigations just climbing over each other to be the ones who get to sit across from Captain Janeway all stone-faced and bureaucratic.
“So, what happened with Jadzia? I’m guessing there’s a reason I never heard this story.”
Ezri gave Julian the summary of what had happened to Voyager, or at least as best she could understand it. Even after being aboard the station for nearly three years, people sometimes still seemed to forget that Ezri was not a scientist the way Jadzia had been. Having access to her knowledge was one thing. Being able to explain it in understandable terms was another thing entirely.

“…so before they ‘reset’ the ship, Jadzia made Seven of Nine promise to send her a detailed report on what happened since once it was all done, she would have no memory of it ever happening since technically it didn’t.”

“And so when the next communication window was open she sent the report here, not knowing what had happened to Jadzia. Have you sent a reply?”

“Not yet,” Ezri said. “You’d think I’d know what to say, I am a counselor after all. I just don’t know how to break it to her. Seeing as it technically didn’t happen for anyone except Seven of Nine I have no idea how well they got along during the mission, but still. I’d hate to be the one to disappoint her.”

“Well, she’s going to find out sooner or later,” Julian said. “It’s probably best that it comes from you. She can take some comfort in knowing that in a way she did keep her promise.”

“That’s a good way to look at it, Julian,” Ezri said. “Thank you. The current window’s already closed, but I’ve got thirty-one days to come up with something. As for the promise Jadzia made in the other timeline, I’m thinking we should keep it, if possible.”

“A double-date between you and me, and Seven of Nine and Ensign Wildman? I don’t see why not. Might be awkward though, I believe Wildman’s ex-husband is a shopkeep here on the Promenade.”

“Oh, no, he went back to his homeworld months ago,” Ezri said. “But far as I know they’re all on good terms so even if he was here it wouldn’t be an issue.” Ezri looked down at her food, and realized she hadn’t touched it the whole time she’d been reading Seven of Nine’s report. “I’d better reheat this.”


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