(PG)
by Delta Story
October 2010


Written for VAMB's "Secret Drabble/Ficlet" Exchange - 2010

Thanks to Quantumsilver for a most excellent beta job. Any remaining errors are solely my own.

Disclaimers: The following tale is based on plot bunnies presented in these three novels: "Before Dishonor" by Peter David and "Full Circle" and "Unworthy" by Kirsten Beyer


~*~

Life would be so much better if she could only get those voices out of her head.

That is, if she had a life. Did she even exist? Where was she? Images and words and sounds jumbled through her brain as she strained to remember, to grasp onto some form of reality.

But there was no reality; there was no now or then: that is what existence was within the Q Continuum. Then she remembered - she was in the Continuum.

But the voices had followed her into the Continuum: the voices that had seduced her, mesmerized her, and ultimately destroyed her. Wait - the voices hadn't destroyed her; her own blood had been her downfall, awakening the beast within the strange Borg cube that feasted on the red fluid dripping from her hands and then finally devouring her, its walls oozing around her like molten lava, cold and merciless, ever calling with a billion-billion voices.

Yet one voice rose above the din of the chorus, its lilting message summoning like a deity to its prophet. The voice wrapped itself around her, at once providing comfort and warmth in its familiarity; yet at the same time, it smothered her with its seductive charisma.

"Kathryn Janeway, you are finally here; I've been waiting for you."

The icy voice chilled Janeway to her core. The Borg Queen! How could she be... here? The last thing she remembered was taking Lady Q's hand and then they were in the midst of a swirling cloud of nothingness. Lady Q faded into the ever-changing patterns, leaving her alone with the maddening cacophony of voices.

Janeway looked around and saw nothing. She held up a hand but nothing was there; she kicked into the miasma around her but saw no foot, no black trousers, no Starfleet boots could be seen to indicate her angered action.

"Really, Janeway, is that any way to welcome a friend?" The voice dripped with counterfeit concern.

Janeway tried to orient herself, attempting to locate her old foe while calling out to the entities which had brought her here. "Lady Q... Q... I don't know what sort of charade you're trying to pull off."

"It's difficult to communicate with invisible beings, isn't it?"

The voice came from behind Janeway, as if the speaker was right next to her ear. She spun around and found herself nose to nose with her most formidable opponent. It was the Borg Queen.

No longer invisible, each of them had taken on the physical form that personified them in their previous meetings. Janeway struggled not to react defensively. She squeezed her arms to her sides and kept her tone tempered, her voice controlled. "What are you doing here?"

"This is where I always come after I am destroyed," responded the Borg Queen, her lips curling into a snarling smile. "And since you have 'died', I presume that's why we are here waiting together." She reached over and ran her gloved hand down Janeway's cheek. "I must say that you look quite well, considering everything you've gone through." Janeway felt as if she had been branded by the devil, although the touch left no pain. But the Queen's words burned and stung.

"What do you mean this is where you come when you are destroyed?" Janeway queried.

"Oh, come now, Janeway; surely you can figure it out - you're an intelligent woman." She sighed. "You know that I have 'died' several times: Picard and Data saw to it once, and you yourself did the deed not once but twice! And yet I reappeared. How else could you explain it?"

The expression on Janeway's face morphed from puzzlement to partial enlightenment to horrible realization. "The Q! You are brought to the Continuum, revitalized and placed back into the Borg."

"Such a bright girl!" the Queen sneered. "I knew it wouldn't take you long. Why do you think the Q always seem to know about the Borg? We've been working together since before you humans learned how to walk on two legs or use your thumbs. It's our way of keeping this part of the universe on its toes."

Janeway snorted and shook her head. "That's too simple a solution. But why am I here? Why are you telling me all of this?"

Another voice entered the conversation. "Really, Janeway; do we have to spell it out for you? Put it into a Starfleet procedure manual?"

Janeway whirled at the sound of Lady Q's voice. "Yes, I believe you do," Janeway said as her eyes narrowed at the presence of Q's partner.

"I should have known you would demand more of an explanation," Lady Q sighed, exasperation in her voice. "We might as well be comfortable for all of this." With a swoop of her hand, the void around them disappeared, replaced by a white wooden gazebo in the middle of a well-landscaped garden. Under the vine-covered structure, three chairs circled a table. "Since you are the one who needs comfort the most, Janeway, this is made according to your memories."

"I do not sit," the Borg Queen snorted derisively. "Only humanoids need such irrelevant luxury."

Lady Q brushed off the Queen's comment with a flick of her hand. "Very well; you can stand. But I have grown to appreciate some of these human luxuries. Besides, it makes talk so much more pleasant." She sat and silently nodded an invitation to Janeway, while the Queen stood rigid behind her assigned seat. "Now, Janeway, you have asked why you were brought here; I guess, despite your despicable frailties, you deserve an answer."

"So nice of you to condescend to my level," Janeway snipped back.

Lady Q sighed as she swatted at some sort of insect that flitted into the gazebo's shelter. "I don't know what it is with you organic bipeds, but Q finds you fascinating, especially you, Kathryn Janeway." She sighed again. "I know I should be jealous - and I'll admit that I have had my moments when I wanted to throw you out into the thirteenth universe. But because of his and our son's attachment to you, I've decided to play along with his whims." She nodded her head towards the bio-cyborg across from her.

The Borg Queen took up the story. "As much as it pains me to say this, there is no way that we will ever be able to assimilate the Continuum, even though they are the definitive of perfection." The Queen sighed deeply before continuing. "In fact, they could destroy us with a click of their omnipotent fingers. I presume they haven't because they have come to admire our persistence and they seem to share some sort of appreciation with a species such as yours, Janeway. They do seem to enjoy seeing how far you humans and others like you are willing to go to preserve your species and cling to your way of life."

Janeway became more confused than ever. "So just what does this have to do with me?"

"Such an impatient, spoiled creature!" the Queen scolded. "Don't you mean to ask how all of this will benefit your people? After all, I thought you put your life on the line time and again for them."

Janeway counted silently to gain control over her thoughts. "All right. How does this affect humans... and all races of our galaxy?"

"It's Q and his infantile games - such immature behavior from an omnipotent being," the Queen spit out. "It seems that he has deemed that whenever I meet 'death' that he will resurrect me, if you will, so that the game can go on - the game of Borg versus the galaxy.

"For some reason, he finds that the animosity between you and me makes the game all the more fascinating to him, so he's decided that you should not remain 'dead'."

It took Janeway a couple of seconds to comprehend the full implication of what the Borg Queen had said. She jumped to her feet; her eyes widened and darted back and forth between the Queen and Lady Q. "What? Are you saying that Q wants to revive me, just as he has done with you so that his 'game' can continue? This is insane!"

"No, it's Q," the Queen smiled beatifically."And he usually gets whatever he wants."

Janeway looked at Lady Q with astonished disbelief. "Do you actually let him get away with doing such things?"

Lady Q sighed. "My dear, if he's happy, I'm happy. And believe me, there's nothing worse than a miserable Q, especially if you must live with him for eternity."

The Borg Queen walked around to Janeway and purred into her ear. "I'm sure there are any number of things left to be done in your world if you were still alive. Don't you want Starfleet to find out what is causing the disturbances with the Borg? I know I do, and together we could forge a formidable partnership in overcoming this common enemy."

"Been there, done that and it's definitely not an experience I want to repeat... ever again," Janeway seethed, her eyes fiery with anger.

"Then think about your crews, past and present," the Queen continued. "They are confused, even feel betrayed at the twist of events following your demise. Wouldn't you like to set the record straight, how it was not anything that you did but rather what you had been transformed into? You don't want to go down in history as a traitor, do you?"

Janeway closed her eyes against the hot tears of anger. She was not going to let the Queen wear her down; she was not going to succumb to the temptations of this mechanical siren. She remained stoic and mute, not giving the Queen the benefit of a response.

The Queen droned on, but Janeway refused to listen to her.

However, one word suddenly rang out from the Queen's verbal barrage. "Chakotay ... there's Chakotay. You never got to that rendezvous with him in Venice, did you? He nearly died from grief, you know. That's what happens to a sensitive man like him. All those years of nothing and suddenly a glimmer of hope from you, Janeway. But you let him down, just like you always have. Don't you see? Q would let you go back and set things right."

Janeway's hands flew up to her ears, covering them, refusing to listen to what the Queen bantered about so lightly. "No, no!" she heard herself say. Was she screaming or whimpering? "Don't you dare bring Chakotay into this; I refuse to let you use him as bait!"

A smirk slithered across the Queen's face. "Oh, my. I think I've found your weak link, haven't I? Of course, in my next 'life' I could just assimilate him and have Q bring him here for you. But that wouldn't be as much fun, would it, dear?" With a malevolent sneer, she chucked Janeway under the chin.

"All right, ladies, I think each of you has expressed her point of view sufficiently," Lady Q interjected diplomatically. "Let's take a break before either of you does something that you might regret. I'm sure after some refreshment, we can resolve this situation more easily."

An elegant silver coffee and tea service, complete with delicate china settings, poofed into existence onto the table. Lady Q placed the cups onto saucers. She smiled benignly as she poured a dark, aromatic beverage into the cups. "As I recall, Kathryn, you are rather partial to coffee."

Chakotay. Coffee. The two chinks in Kathryn Janeway's armor.

Janeway paused momentarily before she took the filled cup from Lady Q and then she uttered the fateful words. "All right. I'll do it."

Lady Q squealed with delight as the Borg Queen sneered her approval. "You won't regret this, Janeway."

"I already do," the auburn haired woman replied resolutely, but defiance flamed from her eyes.

And suddenly, all the voices in her head stopped. Kathryn Janeway knew she had made the correct decision.



~ the end ~


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