Future's Present
by Hellsbabies

Part 2
posted  October 2004

 
 

Disclaimer:  The characters of Star Trek: Voyager are the property of Paramount.  No copyright infringements are intended and no profit will be made off this story.

Feedback: hellsbabies@msn.com


 
 

The afternoon drags on until it's finally 1545. Time to go home. I walk out of the school after telling my friends I'd see them tomorrow. I then walk down the sidewalk to Starfleet. My mom usually doesn't get off work until 1600. I go into the lobby and walk up to the front desk. The young woman behind the desk sees me and smiles. Her name is Nena and she is a Betazoid with beautiful long dark hair and gorgeous dark eyes. I always watch myself around her, because I know Betazoids are able to sense others' emotions and I would be embarrassed if she picked up on what I want to do to her.

“Hello, Erin .”

“Hi, Nena.”

“Waiting for your mom?”

“Yes.”

“Hold on, and I'll let her know you're here.”

Nena activates the screen in front of her and waits for my mom to respond.

“Admiral, your daughter is here.”

“Fine. Tell her I will be out front in 10 minutes,” I hear my mom say.

“Very well, Admiral.”

Nena shuts the communication screen off and looks at me.

“I'm sure you heard. Ten minutes.”

I smile and nod.

“Thank you, Nena.”

I start heading for the front door. I would stay and kill the ten minutes talking with Nena, but as I said before, I don't want to spend too much time around her and my dirty thoughts.

I get outside and sit down on a nearby bench. Before too long, a female cadet named Andrea joins me. I made friends with her last year while waiting for my mom. One time I decided to wait for my mom on one of her late days, and I met up with Andrea on the other side of headquarters. We ended up making out for the entire hour. She gave me a hickey the size of Texas on the back of my neck. Luckily, my hair covered it up, or else my parents would have shit themselves if they saw it. That was our one and only little escapade together, because Andrea got engaged not long after that to some guy. But that doesn't stop her from coming over to flirt with me.

Andrea has no idea that I'm only 15 years old. She knows I am a senior in high school, so she probably thinks I'm at least 17. Unfortunately, Andrea won't be here when I attend the academy next year, since this is her last year.

“How have you been, Erin ?” Andrea asks me in a sultry voice.

“Not bad,” I reply. “I haven't seen you in a while.”

“I've been doing my best to avoid you,” Andrea says with a giggle.

“Oh?”

“In six months, I'm going to be a married woman. I need to start behaving myself.”

“That's too bad,” I tell her teasingly. “I was really hoping we could get in one last session before you go into lockdown.”

Andrea gives me a seductive smile and runs her hand up my arm.

“Well, my six months aren't up yet. Maybe we can work something out.”

Andrea runs her hand up to the back of my neck. I can feel all the little hairs stand straight up. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. This woman is really turning me on. Suddenly, I feel her tongue lightly lick my earlobe.

“Oh, shit!” I say in a whisper, as I grasp the edge of the bench with my right hand.

Suddenly, we are interrupted by the familiar husky voice of my mom.

“ Erin !” she calls over from the sidewalk.

My eyes fly open to see her standing there with a stern look on her face. Andrea gets a look on her face like she just got caught with her hand in the cookie jar. I jump up, grab my stuff, and say goodbye to my ‘friend', who is now standing at attention next to the bench. I jog over to my mom, who is glaring at Andrea.

“Sorry, Mom. I didn't see you come out,” I say, trying to be nonchalant.

We start walking down the sidewalk toward the transporter station.

“ Erin , I want you to stay away from that girl. She is far too old for you.”

“We're just friends. I was only talking to her.”

“Talking to a friend doesn't include her feeling you up during a conversation.”

“Mom!”

She holds her finger up to me.

“I mean it, Erin . That cadet is 22 years old. You are only 15. She shouldn't be touching you that way.”

“The age difference between you and Mother is greater. How is that any different?”

“Your mother and I are adults. That is the difference. It's against Federation law for adults to engage in any type of sexual activity with a minor. And you are a minor and will be for another three years!”

“Mom, it wasn't like that...” I try to argue.

“ Erin , I am not a fool. I could see what was going on. If I see anything like that again, you will remain seated in the lobby, with security watching you, until I'm ready to leave. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, Ma'am,” I reply in defeat.

Great, now I've pissed off both of my parents today! Sometimes I wonder if my parents ever regret having me.

We walk the rest of the way to the transporter in silence. The transporter station is busier than usual for some reason. In fact, it's so busy that Gus doesn't have time to make one last hit on my mom before she goes home. We transport to Bloomington and are greeted by Bailey again. A thought just occurred to me. What if Bailey says something to my mom about my mother transporting to San Francisco today? My mom would want to know why she was there. My mother usually doesn't go alone, and when she does, she tells my mom that she will be going. Oh shit! We need to get out of here. I start walking to the hovercraft fast, leaving my mom behind.

“Erin!” my mom calls to me.

I stop and turn around to look at her.

“Why are you walking so fast?” she asks.

“I, um, need to go to the bathroom, so I want to get home,” I lie.

My mom approaches the hovercraft and begins sliding into the operator's side.

“Why don't you just use the facilities in the transporter station if you have to go that badly?” she asks.

Yeah, Erin , why not use the transporter station facilities? Then I think of something my mother once said.

“I prefer not to use public facilities. I'd rather wait and use the one at home.”

I get into the hovercraft. My mom shakes her head and grins.

“You sound just like your mother.”

The hovercraft lifts off the ground and we head for home. Once we land on our driveway and my mom shuts the engine down, I step out of the vehicle. I start walking to the house and am suddenly trampled by our dog, Maggie. I put my PADDs and cooler down on the edge of the porch and squat down to pet her. She brings me her ball to throw. I pick up the slimy thing and throw it for her; it nearly lands in the cornfield. My mom starts walking into the house. I stand for a minute and make sure that Maggie finds where I threw her ball. She finds it and picks it up. I grab my things and walk into the house.

Of course, I see the same daily routine when I walk in. My parents are standing in the living room, hugging and kissing on each other like they've been separated for 20 years. I can't help but roll my eyes. They finally break off their little display. My mother walks over to me to take the cooler back into the kitchen.

“ Erin , go upstairs and clean up in preparation for dinner,” she says.

I nod to her and start making my ascent up the stairs with my PADDs in hand. Just as I'm almost to the middle of the staircase, I hear my mom say something that stops me dead in my tracks and makes my heart sink to my knees.

“Sweetheart, did you go to San Francisco today? Lt. Davis said he thought he saw you walking past headquarters earlier this afternoon.”

F-U-C-K! Here it comes! My mother never lies, at least as far as I know. She's going to tell her the truth. It seems like time is standing still.

“Yes, Kathryn. I had to go to Erin 's school.”

“Is everything all right? Erin didn't say anything happened today.”

“Everything is fine, Kathryn. Erin dropped one of her PADDs in the living room this morning. I thought she might need it for class, so I took it to her.”

Oh my God! She actually lied to my mom!

“Well, maybe I should get her a tote to carry her PADDs in. That way she won't lose them,” my mom said.

“Perhaps,” was all my mother said before she walked into the kitchen to start making dinner.

I glance down toward the living room and see my mom sitting on the chair pulling her boots off. She has no clue that my mother just lied to her. I start to breathe again after realizing I had been holding my breath the entire time.

I walk up the stairs and into my room. I put the PADDs on my desk and sit down on my bed. I can't believe I heard my mother tell a bald-faced lie to my mom. And it was all because of me. So not only did I manage to upset both of my parents today, I now have my mother lying to my mom to cover up for me. This day isn't going so well.

It all started with that damn nightmare about the Borg Queen. Ever since I started having that dream every night, my daily routines have been a little off. I don't understand why I keep dreaming about the same thing, night after night. The Borg and the Queen no longer exist, so why would I be dreaming about them now?

Maybe I should contact Tuvok and ask him if he can guide me through a Vulcan meditation to help me figure out what all this really means. I remember hearing my mom say that one of Tuvok's meditations helped her sort things out when she was faced with a difficult situation. She also said something about talking to her animal guide with the help of her former first officer, Chakotay.

I haven't seen Chakotay in a quite a while. His wife, Tessa, took care of me at her childcare facility one or two days a week when I was little. My mother normally stayed home with me, but sometimes she needed to run errands and dragging me along would have been too much. I also think she would drop me off at Tessa's because I got on her nerves and she needed some time alone. One time, when I was five, Chakotay came to the day care and took me fishing. I had a good time that day, but my mother was mad as hell when she came to pick me up. She said I reeked of the river, and fishing was an irrelevant sport. Chakotay apologized and was forgiven by my mother. Tessa and Chakotay used to come over for dinner a couple times a month. Then, a few years ago, they decided to move to the Tejora colony and start a family of their own. We only see them once a year now, if that.

Tom Paris told me once that there was a rumor going around the ship for the first few years after Voyager got lost that my mom and Chakotay were sleeping together. From what I know, it was just a rumor, because I know how my mom is when it comes to being in command. She follows every rule, regulation and recommendation that Starfleet has on the books. I know one of the recommendations is that a commanding officer should not fraternize with his or her crew. She must have followed this recommendation when she captained Voyager, because I can't imagine that she would ignore it to sleep with Chakotay and then follow it for the last four years when my mother was on board.

It's a strange triangle between my parents and Chakotay. Chakotay had the hots for my mom for a long time (information supplied by B'Elanna Torres), my mom had the hots for my mother, my mother had the hots for my mom, and then my mother dated Chakotay.

Apparently, Chakotay and my mother had the same apple in their eyes, but they ended up turning to each other. Maybe they used each other. What I mean is, maybe Chakotay thought my mother was the closest person to my mom, and my mother thought Chakotay was the closest person to my mom, so they each decided to be together, since they couldn't be with the person they really wanted.

One thing I've never figured out is exactly when my mother and Chakotay broke up, and she and my mom got together. The only thing they tell me is that they got together when Voyager returned home. Normally I wouldn't question this, since to me it's irrelevant, but I remember hearing B'Elanna say something about how happy she was when my parents finally got together. She said she was in the mess hall when she heard the news. Now B'Elanna was the chief engineer on Voyager, and she hasn't stepped onto a ship since they returned. So I have to assume she was in Voyager's mess hall when she heard this.

Something else she said that stuck me as peculiar was something about an admiral being on Voyager just before they got home. Where in the hell would an admiral come from in the Delta Quadrant? As soon as she mentioned this, her husband, Tom, interrupted and started talking to me about 20 th century history. He knows I like reading books about that century, and he also knows he can always grab my attention with it. I talked with him for an hour about the subject, but I never forgot what B'Elanna had said, because what Tom doesn't know is that I have an eidetic memory.

I look over at my PADDs sitting on my desk. I need to work on my report again tonight, but I'm almost afraid to, in fear of having another bad dream. I lie back on my bed and close my eyes. I begin thinking about my dream. It seemed so real. I could actually feel the process of assimilation. I felt so terrified seeing my mom lying there next to the Borg Queen. It was the only time I had ever seen her so helpless. My mind suddenly floats back to B'Elanna talking about an admiral onboard Voyager. Wait, I think I remember my mom's uniform in the dream. It was a Starfleet uniform, but a little different from the ones worn now. Was she wearing an admiral's uniform?

A rap on my bedroom door interrupts my thoughts.

“Erin...” my mom begins to say as she walks into my room. She is stopped short as she glances around my bedroom with a shocked look on her face.

One thing I didn't mention is, I am a slob. I have clothes, PADDs, books, and everything else under the sun piled up in my room. I know it's just plain laziness to not put things away, but I do have a system and I can find anything I need in an instant. It isn't so awful that one couldn't walk around in here. I have a path from the door to my bed and another path from my bed to the closet and desk. My bedroom is at the end of the hall, so my parents rarely come in here. My mom hasn't been in here for a few weeks.

“Erin Hansen Janeway!” she says, obviously still in shock. “Has your mother seen this room?”

“Yes,” I say with a half-laugh. “She was in here today.”

I point to a small stack of clothes that are neatly folded on the table next to the door. My mother used to come in on a daily basis to ‘try' to clean up my bedroom, but over time she gave up. Now she won't even walk in here. Sometimes, when I am sitting at my desk, I will hear the door open and see just my mother's arm slide in the door to place laundered clothing or other items that I have left around the house on that table.

My mom looks down at the pile of items by the door. She bends down and picks up one of the many pieces.

“What are you doing with a coil spanner?”

I sit up partly on the bed and lean back on my elbows. I have to think for a moment to remember that our neighbor gave me the spanner. I've collected so many odds and ends that it's difficult to keep track of where I acquired them, and who gave them to me.

“Mr. Wendt gave me that. It doesn't work, though.”

“Then why don't you recycle it?”

I shrug. I like collecting little pieces of equipment because sometimes I can use different components from each item to create a new item. When I was twelve, I modified a tricorder to scan our yard and transport any wild animals out of the yard and into the fields beyond. It's nice to be able to lie in the grass and not have to worry about snakes and spiders crawling around.

“I may need parts from that one day,” I tell her.

My mom rolls her eyes and shakes her head with a smile. She holds the spanner up and shakes it at me.

“This needs to be kept in the barn, not on your bedroom floor.”

“Mother will recycle it if I keep it in the barn,” I explain to her. “If I keep it in my room, I know she won't see it, since she doesn't come all the way in here any more.”

My mom sighs and gingerly places the spanner back in its original spot. I know it bothers her to see such disarray, but the way I look at it, this is my space and I should be able to keep it any way I want.

My mom stands back up and leans against the doorframe with her arms folded across her chest. I really have no idea why she decided to come to my room, but I can only hope it's not to question me about my mother's ‘trip' to my school today.

“Was there something you wanted to talk to me about, Mom?” I finally ask.

“Yes,” she says with a small smile. “I know you'll be out of school for break in a few weeks. I was thinking it would be nice if the three of us took a vacation. Maybe spend a couple days at the Mars caverns and another few days on Kawita Island.”

I love diving in the caverns of Mars. My mom always makes sure to take me a few times a year. And Kawita Island is the most beautiful place in the Xaltan system. It's located on the planet Zyrillia. The island is completely surrounded by waterfalls, and the only way on or off is by transporter. I really enjoy going there because my parents always let me have my own hut, which, of course, is more for their privacy than mine.

“There's something you need to do before we can go,” my mom says as I look at her questionably. “You need to clean this room!”

I nod my head and laugh. So much for keeping my space the way I want it.

“Okay, I'll clean it,” I agree.

“By the looks of things, you'll need every bit of the next few weeks to get it straightened up.”

“I'll do a little each night,” I promise her. “Tonight, though, I've got to work on my report for my interstellar species class.”

“Oh? You didn't mention that you were doing a report,” my mom says. “What are you doing it on?”

“The Borg,” I say matter-of-factly.

I have to bite my lip to keep from laughing when I see my mom's eyebrows shoot so far up that I think they are going to come off her forehead. It's not that we totally refrain from speaking about the Borg, but we usually only discuss them in the context of my mother's experience. We hardly ever talk about the Collective itself, although my mom is more open to discussions about the hive mind than my mother.

“Wouldn't you rather choose a species that the Federation would be more likely to come into contact with?” my mom asks.

“You don't want me to do my report on the Borg?”

“No, sweetie, it's not that,” my mom begins to explain. “The Borg can be an uncomfortable subject for a lot of people. Many people throughout the Federation lost family members and friends to assimilation.”

“But I'm part Borg,” I argue. “And so is Mother. She was even a drone who may have assimilated some of those people.”

My mom turns her eyes away. I can see her jaw clench slightly and her hands tighten around her biceps. I know she wants to end this conversation, but at the same time continue it so she can get her point across.

“Erin,” she continues as she looks at me. “Drones in the Collective had no control over their actions. Your mother lost her individuality and was controlled by a single consciousness.”

“Just like every other drone in the Collective,” I spat back.

“Yes, I know, but not everyone can see it that way. When it comes to the Borg, most people react with fear and apprehension. They tend to forget that the drones who assimilated their loved ones were once like them.”

“That's why I want to do this report, Mom,” I explain. “You told me once that ignorance leads to fear.”

My mom tilts her head slightly as she looks at me questionably. She makes her way over to my bed and takes a seat next to me. I sit up and look into her troubled face.

“Erin, has anyone said or done something to you or your mother in regards to either of you being Borg?”

“No,” I reply with some surprise. “Sometimes I think people forget we are Borg, because I'll hear negative comments made about the Borg and I'm standing right there in front of the person saying it. And that really bothers me.”

“I'm sorry, sweetie,” she says as she brushes the hair away from my face. “Sometimes people just don't think about how hurtful their prejudice can be to others around them. I guess this is similar to what our Cardassian neighbors in San Francisco had to go through.”

When we lived in San Francisco, we had a Cardassian family living next door to us for a while, a husband and his wife with two children. The kids were always getting picked on because of a war that took place long before they were even born. My parents always told me to treat them with respect and warned me not to get involved with the other kids who were making fun of them. I tried making friends with the kids, but I think they had suffered so much ridicule that they just couldn't trust anyone outside of their family. They ended up moving away after living only six months in San Francisco.

“Well, things aren't that bad,” I tell my mom. “Everyone is very nice to both Mother and me. The Borg were following their own agenda, just like every other species. It may sound strange, but I almost feel as if the Borg are misunderstood.”

My mom lets out a chuckle as she puts her arm around my shoulder and pulls me toward her. I place my head on her chest and wrap my arms around her waist. She gives me a light kiss on the forehead.

“In that case, I think educating your classmates will assist them in understanding the Borg,” she says with a smile in her voice.

“Maybe,” I say with a half laugh.

Suddenly, I can feel my mom lean into me, and her head rests on the top of my head. I hear her take a deep sigh, almost one of relief.

“Erin, I want you to know that I am so proud of you,” she says with sincerity. “You are very intelligent, and the way you look at life is a gift. Many people don't have that ability, myself included. I think you are going to make a fine Starfleet officer one day.”

She pulls back to look into my face. I just give her a grin, but inside I feel guilt pour through my body. If only she knew how close I am to not getting into Starfleet. She would be devastated to find out how badly I've been screwing up.

Telling my philosophy instructor that his ideas were targ-shit was mild compared to the trouble I've gotten into at school over the past two months. The first incident was the most severe and was the beginning of my principal keeping a close eye on me. About a week after I started having my recurring dream of the Borg vessel, I got into a physical fight with a Vulcan kid at my school. It started when he told me I was being illogical. For some reason, I snapped and started punching him in the face. He fought back pretty well, because Vulcans are trained from an early age in the martial arts. I think I won, though, because of my Borg-enhanced strength. I remember at one point during the fight, I had the kid on the ground, punching him. My friends, Brian and Talis, were trying to pull me off of him and were screaming at me to stop, but I couldn't. I just had no control over my actions anymore.

Finally, reality sank in and I stopped punching him. He was lying on the ground, unable to defend himself any longer. I looked down at my hands and arms and saw nothing but red and green blood splattered all over them. The school security picked me up off of him and practically carried me to the office. My mother was called and arrived at the school in what seemed like a matter of minutes.

The principal suspended me for two weeks before my mother took me home. She used the dermal regenerator on me to get rid of any evidence of the fight. She decided not to tell my mom and convinced the principal to keep the incident off of my permanent record. As for the Vulcan kid, his injuries were not as bad as we originally thought. My mother took me to his home, where I made a formal apology to him and his family. Fortunately, they were gracious enough to accept the apology and not pursue the matter any further.

Those two weeks were awful, though. It was difficult to hide the fact that I was suspended from school from my mom, especially since we transported back and forth to San Francisco together each day. I had to go with my mom in the mornings, pretend I was going to school, and then as soon as she went into Headquarters, make a mad dash back to the transporter station to go home. In the afternoons, I would transport to San Francisco just to wait for my mom and transport back home with her. My mom never had a reason to suspect anything, until one day Bailey mentioned to her that I had come back home that morning. She questioned me, and I had to lie and say I left one of my PADDs at home.

I am still surprised to this day that she never found out. Many of the kids at my school have parents in Starfleet and know my mom. Maybe they just didn't want to embarrass her by bringing up how horribly her daughter had acted. Now here she is telling me how proud she is of me. I don't know how much more of this I can take.

“Kathryn! Erin!” I hear my mother call from downstairs. “Dinner is prepared!”

My mom releases me and pats me on the knee before getting up.

“We'll be right there, Hon,” my mom calls back to her.

My mom walks toward the bedroom door, stops and turns around to face me when she realizes I am still sitting on the bed.

“Come on,” she says, smiling. “You know your mother hates it if we're late to the table.”

I just smile and nod.

“I'll be down in a minute,” I tell her. “I just need to get cleaned up.”

My mom gives me a nod and walks out of my room. I stare at the doorway for a moment and take in a deep breath. Suddenly, my head begins to pound, which is unusual because I never get headaches. I decide to ignore it as I get up from the bed and walk down the hall to the bathroom. I run the faucet and splash cold water on my face. The pounding in my head begins to subside as I dry my face off. Must have been a fluke that my nanoprobes didn't pick up in time.

I walk downstairs and go into the dining room. My parents are already sitting down at the table eating.

“You are late,” my mother states, looking at me with her ocular implant raised.

“Sorry, Mother,” I say as I begin taking my seat.

I sit down and see that my plate is already dished up for me, of course. I'm surprised my mother doesn't insist on spoon-feeding me like when I was a small child. Pot roast, mashed potatoes, and green beans. My mother's cooking is perfection. The food she makes tastes so good that sometimes I overstuff myself with seconds and thirds. I wonder where my mother learned how to cook. I know she didn't learn from the Borg, and I definitely know she didn't learn from my mom.

A month ago, my Aunt Phoebe took my mother out for the day to go shopping, leaving my mom and me alone here. It got to be dinnertime and my mom “thought” she would make dinner for the two of us. It was so awful that Maggie wouldn't even eat it. The meat tasted like it was marinated in cat piss. We ended up going into town and ate dinner at a restaurant. I haven't attempted cooking yet, but I hope that I didn't inherit my mom's kitchen skills.

“Seven, have you given any more thought to Admiral Smith's offer?” I heard my mom ask.

“Yes. I would prefer to wait until Erin leaves for the academy before I proceed,” my mother replies.

“What did Admiral Smith offer?” I ask with my mouth full.

“Do not speak with your mouth full,” says my mother.

“Admiral Smith offered your mother a position as chief designer of astrometrics labs for Federation vessels,” my mom answers.

I swallow my food and look at my mother.

“Why do you have to wait until I'm at the academy?” I ask her.

“It is more efficient if I stay at home while you are still living here. It enables me to complete the household chores while you and Kathryn are at school and work,” she tells me.

Now first of all, you may think it's weird that when my mother talks to me about my mom, she refers to her as Kathryn. She started this when I stopped calling my mom ‘mommy' and started calling her ‘mom'. I'm not sure if she really gives it any thought. Maybe she just doesn't like the term ‘mom'. When I was six, I went through a phase of calling my parents Kathryn and Seven. It lasted for about a month until they finally got me to stop. They told me it was disrespectful for a child to call her parents by their first names. At the time, I didn't mean any disrespect; I just wanted to call them what everyone else does.

Secondly, you may wonder what my mother does all day when my mom and I are at work and school. Well, she cleans, does laundry, and designs schematics for Starfleet vessels. She works from the den that my mom set up for her. She has been doing this for quite a few years, and Starfleet seems pretty happy with what she does from home. She has been a stay-at-home parent since I was born. I thought when I started high school she would go to work, but she wanted to stay here in case I got sick at school or something and she had to come get me. I wonder if she stays home because she knows the school can call her anytime in regards to me getting in trouble. After the past two months, I am very grateful she stays home, because if she didn't, they would have called my mom. If my mom knew about all the trouble I am in, she probably would have had my room converted into a brig.

I finish off my dinner and take my plate into the kitchen. I walk back out to the dining room and begin heading for the stairs in the living room to go up to my room. My mother stops me.

“Erin, you must feed the dog and the felines in the barn. You will also replace the soiled hay and repair the section of fence you damaged four days ago,” my mother orders.

I almost feel like asking her if she wants me to dig a new basement while I'm at it. I know she is implementing my punishment for getting in trouble at school. Since my mom has no clue what is going on, she is sitting at the table looking at my mother as if she has two heads.

“Seven, she won't be able to do all that this evening and get her homework done,” my mom argues on my behalf.

“If she uses her time efficiently, her tasks should be complete within 2.4 hours, allowing the rest of the evening for study,” my mother replies, with a look telling my mom not to contradict her.

My mom looks at my mother for a moment and then at me.

“Erin, you had better get started,” my mom tells me, sipping her coffee.

I open my mouth to protest, but then think better of it and close my mouth. I nod and walk out to the mudroom to put my work boots on. As I am tucking my pant legs into my boots, I can hear my parents talking at the dining room table.

“Seven, you're being a little hard on her. Did Erin do something wrong?”

“No, Kathryn. I have re-evaluated Erin's contributions to this household and I feel she would benefit from taking on more responsibilities.”

“I think she would make a better contribution to this house by cleaning up that room of hers. It looks like a shuttle craft exploded in there.”

Ugh! I wish my mom would stop harping about my damn room.

“Kathryn, I do not wish to discuss Erin's room. I have attempted several times to keep it clean. If she insists on living like a Talaxian ‘junk dealer', then there is nothing I can do to rectify the situation.”

“Sweetheart, it is not your responsibility to clean up after her. Erin's old enough to do that for herself.”

“That is why I have decided to assign her chores every evening. Her room will be the assignment for this weekend.”

“That's not going to give her too much time to socialize with her friends.”

“She has the entire day at school to ‘socialize'. Futhermore, we discussed using stricter protocols with her before she was born. Until now, we have neglected to do so. If we do not begin now, she will never learn the meaning of responsibility and will be negligent in her duties as a Starfleet officer, thus becoming not unlike...the “other” Erin we encountered.”

I heard my mother's voice crack slightly when she mentioned the ‘other Erin'. I stretch out on the floor to peek at them from the bottom of the kitchen doorway. My mother is wiping her eyes with a cloth napkin and my mom is sitting next to her with a very concerned look on her face. She gently takes my mother's hand and kisses the palm of it.

“Seven, our Erin is not going to have the same fate as the ‘other Erin'. We're aware of the mistakes that were made, and for the past 15 years, we have done everything we can to ensure her success,” my mom says with a smile. “Erin is a brilliant, beautiful girl who is respectful, compassionate, and stays out of trouble. We have nothing to worry about.”

Yeah, that's what you think, Mom. A tinge of guilt runs through me as I listen to her words. My mom thinks so highly of me, but if she only knew what my mother knew, she would be knocking me down off that pedestal.

“Kathryn,” my mother says hesitantly. “Erin is not perfect. Within the last two months...”

Thankfully, the chirping of the communications console interrupts my mother. She was going to tell my mom about what kind of trouble I've been getting into at school. I don't understand it, though. She was so insistent that my mom not know. She said my mom didn't need the stress of knowing what kind of trouble I could get into, on top of her duties as a Starfleet admiral.

I see my mom get up from the table to answer the console. My mother remains sitting in her chair, still wiping tears from her eyes.

Who ever this ‘other Erin' is, she is causing my mother to break down. I've heard them mention another Erin before. From what I have gathered, she must have been a member of the Voyager crew and caused a lot of trouble. I don't understand why she affects my parents so much, though. I always found it strange that they compare me to her and we have the same first name. I know I was named after my grandmother and not after some insubordinate crewmember. I've thought about asking who she is, but my parents always get a deep, sad look on their face whenever they talk about her. They never mention anything in front of me. I always overhear things mostly by accident, and sometimes I eavesdrop on purpose.

I see my mom walk back into the dining room and head towards the kitchen. I quickly get up off the floor and pretend I am still preparing to get ready to do my chores.

“Erin,” my mom calls as she approaches the mudroom door. “Miral Paris would like to speak with you.”

“Okay. I'll be right there.”

My mom walks back to the dining room and I start to follow her, when my mother stops me.

“Erin, do not wear those boots in the house.”

I look down to see that my boots are covered in dried mud with pieces of old hay sticking out from them.

“Sorry,” I say as I dash back to the mudroom and kick them off.

I make my way to the living room with two sets of eyes watching me. I sit down at the console desk and see Miral Paris' pretty face looking back at me. I smile at her.

“Hi, Miral.”

“Hi, Erin. I hope I'm not interrupting you,” Miral says with a smile.

“No. What's up?”

“Well, I wanted to ask if you would be interested in attending an academy dance with me.”

“When is it?” I ask. I can see with my peripheral vision that my parents are beginning to circle like vultures around the living room. They do this every time I get a call.

“It's next month on the 22 nd ,” Miral continues. “Since you'll be going to the academy next year, it will give you a chance to meet some of the cadets and professors. Besides, I know you and I will have a lot of fun.”

Miral says that last sentence a little too seductively. My face turns beet red and I glance behind me to see my mom pretending to read a book and my mother straightening and re-straightening the pillows on the couch. I don't know why they go through all of this when it's obvious that they are eavesdropping. Why not pull up a chair and sit next to me when I talk to Miral? That way they won't have to find stuff to make themselves look busy.

“I'll have to ask my parents,” I say with some embarrassment.

“Okay,” Miral says cheerfully. “Let me know tomorrow?”

I nod and say goodbye to her before turning off the viewscreen. I solemnly turn around to face my parents. My mother is standing in the middle of the living room with her hands linked behind her back and her ocular implant raised at me. My mom is sitting in her recliner, still pretending to read her book.

I glance over at my mother, who is still standing there waiting for me to ask permission. I sigh before asking.

“Can I go to the dance with Miral next month?”

“No,” my mother replies.

“Why not?”

“You are much too young to engage in activities with Miral Paris or any other Starfleet cadets.”

“But, I'm going to the academy next year,” I argue with anger rising up in me. “Am I supposed to ask permission to go to any functions then?”

“We will discuss that matter next year,” my mother states in a matter-of-fact tone.

I look over at my mom, who is rubbing her chin lightly with her hand and glancing back and forth between my mother and me.

“Mom?” I plead in an attempt to get her on my side.

“Erin, your mother is right,” she replies. “You are too young to go on a date.”

“It's not a date. Miral and I are just friends.”

“I don't believe Miral is looking at it that way,” my mom says. “She is a very nice girl, but I think she shows a little more interest in you than what she should.”

I stand up from my chair and take a deep breath. I can feel my face turn red from anger. I am so tired of not being able to do anything besides go to school and come home. Whenever I do engage in any activity outside of school or home, one of my parents, if not both of them, are there. They never let me do anything by myself.

“Fine! I won't go!” I belt out in a voice louder than I intended.

I stomp out of the living room toward the mudroom.

“Erin!” I hear my mom call.

I just ignore her as I grab my boots and jerk them on quickly. I walk out the back door and realize that I use a little too much force in shutting it, because the windows on the back of the house shake. I just keep walking toward the barn.

Once I reach the barn, twelve cats bombard me. I sit down on a bale of hay and start petting them one by one. My anger begins to dissipate as I start laughing at the silly antics these kitties will perform to get my attention.

Two of the cats we have now, Tequila and Bootsie, were my grandma's cats. The other cats came from officers my mom has worked with over the years. They would be sent on long assignments and then have to find their cats a new home, since they wouldn't be around to take care of them for a few years. We did have thirteen cats until a few months ago. Captain Thomas, when he got back to Earth after a three-year mission, decided that he wanted his cat, Jeffrey, back. I was glad, in a way, because Jeffrey was mean.

My favorite cat would be Spot. He was Lt. Commander Data's cat. Data was a sentient android who served aboard the USS Enterprise under Captain (now Admiral) Picard. Shortly after Voyager returned to Earth and my mom was made admiral, Data was destroyed during one of the Enterprise's assignments. Captain Picard took care of Data's personal belongings, including finding a home for Spot. My mom offered to take the cat, but my mother wouldn't hear of it. My parents weren't married yet, but they did live together in the apartment in San Francisco. My mother didn't want a ‘feline' in the apartment, so my mom brought Spot to Indiana to live with my grandma.

My grandma let Spot live in the house with her, Tequila, and Bootsie. All that changed once Grandma got sick and we moved in with her. My mother insisted that the cats be booted out to the barn. She always acts as if she doesn't like cats, but I've caught glimpses of her petting a few of them in the backyard, and if one of them gets sick, she will rush them to the vet.

I get up from the bale and begin my ‘chores'. I am continually interrupted by the cats circling my feet and by Maggie jumping up on me, trying to coerce me to stop what I am doing and play with her. After all the animals are fed, I begin working on removing the soiled hay that the cats have urinated on. Mr. Wendt, our neighbor, is the one who farms the land on our property. He picks up the large tote of used hay and spreads it throughout the cornfield. Sometimes on a hot summer day, when the wind is blowing just right, the faint scent of cat urine comes our way. My mother nearly gags when this happens because her sense of smell is so heightened. She practically runs to the environmental filtration system to activate it.

I know it may sound kind of mean, but sometimes I have to laugh at my mother. It's just amusing to see the reactions of a former Borg drone living on a farm in Indiana. With all the assimilated knowledge she has, I'm sure the Collective never prepared her for this kind of living.

I get to the section of fence that is busted up. Now, it's ridiculous that I even have to fix this fence. We don't even use it, so it should just be removed. It was put up years ago to keep some of my grandma's animals contained. I wonder how my mother knew I broke it four days ago. It sits behind the barn and can't be seen from the house. I broke it when I was riding my hovercycle. I thought I could make a sharp enough turn, but unfortunately I misjudged and ran into the fence. After my ‘accident' I went into the house and didn't say a word about it, but somehow she knew what happened and didn't say anything until now.

Sometimes, both of my parents do that. They will know that I broke something and not say anything to me about it. Just as I am about to think that I won't get caught, they spring it on me that they are aware of what I did. I wonder if they do this to see how long it will take me to confess to the crime. I would have thought that after all this time, they would give up on this tactic. It has to be obvious to them that if I think I can get away with something, I'm not going to turn myself in.

I finish fixing the boards on the fence and set my tools down on the ground. I have 10 minutes left on my mother's schedule, so I decide to take the entire time. I sit down on a tree stump next to the fence and watch the sun set over the cornfield. My mind starts wandering with different thoughts until I come to the last conversation I overhead my parents having in the dining room. The ‘other' Erin.

Suddenly, guilt takes over my body and my stomach tightens. Maybe it's my destiny to become like this ‘other' Erin. Maybe I'm not meant to do well in Starfleet. That would break my mom's heart. I can't have my mother lying for me if I get into trouble once I enter the academy. I feel like I am on a downward spiral and I am taking my mother with me. I feel tears stinging the back of my eyes. Just then, I hear light footsteps approaching from behind me. I turn around to see my mother walking up, holding one of my jackets in her hand.

“The temperature has decreased by 6.9 degrees. You should wear this,” she says as she passes the jacket to me.

“Thanks,” I reply as I take it and put it on.

My mother sits down on the stump next to me and looks at the falling sun across the cornfield. We remain quietly sitting together until she breaks the silence.

“Erin, you are becoming a burden to both Kathryn and me. I believe the only way to bring order to your chaos is for you to serve the Collective.”

“What?” I say in shock as I turn to look at her. But when I look over, I realize I am not sitting next to my mother. It's the Borg Queen!

 

 
 
To be continued ...

 
 
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