Future's Present
by Hellsbabies

Part 3
posted  November 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


 
 

I sit on the stump frozen with fear. I open my mouth to scream for my parents, but nothing comes out. My brain tells me to get up and run to the house, but I can't move. I just sit staring into her glazed eyes. Her glistening skin is glowing from the sunset as she rakes her eyes over me. My heart is pounding so hard my chest is beginning to hurt. Finally, I am able to speak.

“What the hell are you doing in Indiana ?” I ask in a shaken voice.

She gives me a slow, almost seductive, smile.

“Do I need a reason to visit family?”

“You're not my family! This is not real. My parents destroyed you. YOU'RE DEAD!” I scream as I am finally able to stand up.

She stands up in front of me and I become frozen again.

“That is your parents' perception. I can never be destroyed. Your parents have been lying to you... Erin . It was Admiral Janeway, from an alternate timeline, who attempted to destroy me...and it was you who destroyed my Collective.”

“Me? What the hell are you talking about?”

“The dreams you have been experiencing are my way of showing you the truth of what occurred 17 years ago. I find it distasteful that Admiral Janeway and Seven of Nine would hide the truth from their daughter.”

“I wasn't even born 17 years ago. Apparently, you are the one lying.”

She reaches up with her right hand and lightly rubs my cheek. I flinch, but still am not able to move.

“You are your mothers' daughter. You possess Seven of Nine's arrogance and Admiral Janeway's self-righteousness. You are perfection. Now I know I have made the correct choice in choosing you.”

“Choosing me for what?”

She drops her hand from my cheek.

“You will assist me in reestablishing my Collective and help us assimilate humanity,” she states in a very soft tone.

I look away from her in disgust.

“I will never help you. Leave my parents and me alone. We have done nothing to you.”

She cups my jaw and forces me to look at her. Her tone hardens.

Captain Janeway took my favorite drone from me. If I can't have her, I will take her daughter.”

She lets go of my face and softens her voice again.

“You are a unique individual, Erin. The only child born to a Starfleet admiral and a Borg drone. You will be a valuable asset to the Collective. Your distinctiveness will be added to our own.”

I start to feel my body shiver from fear. She looks at me with a subtle smile.

“Don't be afraid, Erin . You will never disappoint me the way you are destined to disappoint your parents.”

She steps closer to me and raises her left hand to my neck. I can see assimilation tubules emerge from beneath her gloved knuckles.

“Do not resist,” she smiles. “Resistance is futile.”

I feel the tubules pierce my neck and everything goes black...

I hear voices around me. I can't quite make out what they are saying. Suddenly, I feel a hand lightly brush my face and I feel soft lips kiss my forehead. I catch a whiff of lightly sweetened scent that is unmistakably my mother's.

“Mama?” I instinctively say while trying to come to the surface of what feels like a dream state.

“I am here, Erin .” I hear her say as she places a kiss on my cheek.

“Sweetie, open your eyes.” I hear my mom's voice above me.

I feel my eyes flutter open and see my mom leaning over me. My mother is on her knees beside me. I swallow as I look around and realize I am lying on the couch in our living room. I must have a confused look on my face, because my mom smiles at me.

“We found you behind the barn, lying on the ground. Do you know what happened?” she asks.

“I don't...” I begin to say as it all starts coming back to me. I quickly throw my hand up to my neck to feel for the marks from the Queen's assimilation tubules. I feel nothing.

“ Erin , what is wrong?” my mother asks with concern.

I don't respond to her, as I am trying to process what really did happen behind the barn.

“Kathryn, she must have hit her head. Contact Starfleet Medical!” my mother exclaims.

“Seven, honey, calm down. Let's give her a chance to collect her thoughts,” my mom tells her calmly.

My mom sits on the edge of the couch with her arm resting on the back as she leans over me.

“ Erin , do you know what happened outside?”

I realize I'd better answer before my mother goes into convulsions.

“I'm, um, not really sure.”

I actually do remember everything that happened, but I am afraid to tell them. They are going to freak, especially my mother. I know I have to do it, though, in case the Borg Queen really does exist and is after me. Maybe it would be better if I told my mom first, and then let her tell my mother. She has a way of keeping my mother calm whenever there's a crisis concerning me. But, in this situation, who is going to keep my mom calm?

I decide that maybe I should just tell them both and get it over with. I sit up and my mom moves over to allow me some room. My mother gets up and sits down next to me. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. Here goes nothing...

I begin by telling them of the dream that has been haunting me for the last two months and I finish by telling them about my visitor that appeared behind the barn. The entire time I am talking, I don't look at either one, but I know exactly what expressions are on their faces.

“...I blacked out and next thing I knew I was on the couch just now.”

I look at my mom and her face is white as a sheet. I can see her jaw clenching as she looks away from me. She stands up and walks over to the window, keeping her back to my mother and me. I look over at my mother and see tears filling her eyes as she looks at my mom's back.

“Kathryn?” my mother says in a small cracked voice.

I can see my mom's body shudder from behind. She still won't turn around to look at us as she speaks.

“Seven, take Erin upstairs and pack some of our personal belongings.” She pauses and I can hear her swallow. “I'll contact Starfleet Headquarters and make arrangements for us to stay there until we can figure out exactly what is going on.”

My mother doesn't say a word as she gets up. She places her hand on my arm to prompt me to stand up. I look at her and tears are rolling down her cheeks. My heart sinks to my stomach when I meet her eyes. She leads me up the stairs as I look back and see my mom going over to her desk to activate the viewscreen.

We reach the top of the stairs and my mother turns around and places a kiss on my cheek. Tears are still streaming from her eyes.

“I will pack your hygiene items. You will need to gather any personal belongings from your room that you wish to take.”

I nod to her and walk to my room. I begin packing up some of my clothes and my PADDs for school. I look over one that contains the information I have collected about the Borg for my IS report. As I glance at it, a feeling of hatred and anger comes over me. I throw the PADD across the room and it splinters into pieces as it hits the wall. I feel hot tears roll down my cheeks as I plop down on my bed and put my head between my hands. I sit there for several minutes trying to compose myself. As I sit there, I can hear my mother crying uncontrollably from her room. I have to stay strong for her. My mom isn't going to be able to deal with two of us going into hysterics. I hear my mom coming up the stairs and walking into their bedroom. I get up and open my door wider to hear what they are going to say.

“Seven, it's going to be all right. Starfleet is sending a shuttle to take us to headquarters,” I hear my mom say in soft voice.

“Kathryn,” my mother says, sobbing, “she will take our child away from us!”

“No, she won't. I won't let anything happen to her, honey.”

I turn away from my door and walk back to my closet to continue packing. I had no idea this would happen when I decided to tell them about my dreams and my ‘hallucination' about the Borg Queen. They never did confirm whether the Queen was telling the truth about an alternate time line where Admiral Janeway and myself destroy the Collective. I guess now is not a good time to ask. Maybe once we get to Starfleet Headquarters and things settle down, they will talk to me about it.

As I am securing my duffle bag, I hear the distinct sound of a shuttle landing next to the house. I take a look out the window and see several Starfleet officers emerge from the shuttle and begin scanning our property. I pick up my bag and walk down the hall to my parents' bedroom. They are sitting at the foot of their bed with my mother cradled in my mom's arms. I lightly rap on the doorframe to announce my presence. My mom looks up and smiles at me. I know she is just as upset as my mother, and the smile is just a way to diffuse it.

“The shuttle's here,” I tell them quietly.

“Okay,” my mom says.

My mother untangles herself from my mom's arms and begins picking up their bags. I walk over to grab one. Before I sling it over my shoulder, my mom places her hand on my arm. I look over at her.

“ Erin , this isn't your fault. We're going to be all right.”

I look into her eyes and nod. She steps forward and gives me a hug. For some unknown reason, I start crying again. I hardly ever cry, but tonight I can't seem to stop myself. In fact, I am crying so hard on my mom's shoulder that I can see my tears landing on the back of her Starfleet uniform. I drop my bag and wrap my arms around her as if I am clinging to her for dear life. She rubs my back to try to soothe me.

“I'm scared, Mom,” I croak out in a whisper.

“I know you are, sweetie. But you have to stay strong for me and your mother, okay?”

I let go and just nod my head in response. My mother comes over with a cloth and wipes my face off.

“ Erin , I know you have a lot of questions about what's happening. You deserve answers to those questions, so when we reach headquarters, we'll explain everything,” my mom says as she brushes the hair from my face.

“How long will we have to stay there?” I ask.

“I don't know. I spoke to the doctor, and he wants to run a diagnostic on your implants to be certain none are failing, but I don't believe that's the problem. As unlikely as it seems, I believe the Borg Queen still exists and is looking for retaliation for what happened 17 years ago. If that's the case, we'll need to remain under secure conditions until we find out where she is and how she has been able to communicate with you.”

“So is it true that you and I destroyed the Borg?”

My mom opens her mouth slightly as if she is going to answer, then suddenly closes it. She takes in a deep breath, and it's obvious she is thinking about what to say to me. Finally, after several seconds, she answers.

“Yes.”

My heart sinks to my knees and everything around me seems...unreal. I shake my head in disbelief.

“How is that even possible?”

“ Erin ,” she responds as she places her hand on my left shoulder. “I promise, once we get to headquarters, your mother and I will explain everything. Right now, we need to leave and get you to a more secure place.”

I look back and forth between her and my mother for a moment. I finally nod my head and pick up my bag and one of my parents' bags.

My mom picks up another bag and we walk out of their room and down the stairs. My mother keeps a death grip on my upper arm, as if she's worried that I will disappear if she lets go of me. We walk outside to the shuttle. The pilot meets us at the end of the porch and takes our bags.

“Is this all of your gear, Admiral?” he asks my mom.

“Yes, Ensign. That's it for now.”

“We'll leave a security team here to continue scanning for anything unusual,” the ensign tells my mom.

“I hope you don't intend to just leave them here,” my mom says with furrowed eyebrows.

“No, Ma'am,” he explains. “Another shuttle is on its way. Headquarters will keep open comm links with the security team at all times.”

“You may inform the security detail there is an adequate amount of food in the stasis cabinet in the event they require nourishment,” my mother tells the ensign.

My mom turns away from my mother and the ensign, while holding her lips tightly pursed. I can see her eyes water and her face turn a light shade of red. She is doing her best not to burst out laughing. I have to bite the inside of my cheeks to keep from doing the same. My mother is always trying to feed people. As a result of her many lessons on human social customs, she's decided that it's rude to fail to offer food to anyone who enters our home, even if they are here to scan for the Borg Queen.

“Um...yes, Ma'am,” the ensign says in surprise. “I'll inform them.”

Great...now we are going to have a bunch of Starfleet personnel raiding our kitchen.

I start to take my seat and as I'm about to sit down, I see Maggie standing in the shuttle doorway, wagging her tail.

“Mom, what about Maggie?”

“Sweetie, we can't take a dog to headquarters. The security team will be here to keep an eye on her.”

As the shuttle doors begin to close, I can hear Maggie whimpering.

“Bye, Maggie,” I say to her before the doors close. “I hope you don't get assimilated.”

“Erin!” my mom says in a stern whisper. “That's not funny.”

“I'm not trying to be funny. I just don't want anything to happen to her.”

“Maggie will remain unharmed,” my mother assures me as she secures our bags in the back of the shuttle.

I sigh as I sink back into the shuttle's bench seat. Suddenly, my head begins to pound again. Damn! This is worse than the one earlier. I close my eyes briefly, and when I reopen them, everything around me has a green haze over it. I glance over at my parents and see my mother looking at me with concern.

“Are you alright, Erin ?” she whispers to me.

My mom turns around to look at me in response to hearing my mother's question.

“I have a headache,” I tell her. “And everything looks...green.”

My mother grabs a tricorder out of the shuttle's med kit and begins scanning me.

“Your implants are misaligned,” she says matter-of-factly, but with a hint of horror.

I look into my mother's large blue eyes as my headache begins to subside and my vision returns to normal.

“She really was trying to assimilate me,” I say, more to myself.

My mother averts her eyes briefly before looking back at me and giving a slow nod. I glance over at my mom and see her still securing our gear, while listening to my mother and me. She has a sad, worn look on her face.

Suddenly, I see what the former officers of the USS Voyager saw every time they engaged in battle. I see the command face of Captain Janeway come out. Harry Kim told me once that my mom's command expressions as an admiral are different from those when she was a captain. He said her “admiral command face” is not as severe or intimidating.

My mother sets the tricorder on a nearby console and takes a seat next to me. I look over at her and see the worried look on her face. I loop my arm through hers and rest my head on her shoulder. She leans into me and places a kiss on the top of my head. She lifts her arm up and wraps it around me, allowing my head to rest on her chest. I can hear her heart beating fast. She is experiencing the same emotions I am: anxiety, fear, and anger. I close my eyes and try to relax before we reach San Francisco .

As the shuttle lifts off the ground, my mom takes a seat on the other side of me. I feel her rubbing my back to try to soothe me. As I sit here wrapped in my mother's arms and feel my mom comforting me, I realize that no one in this universe can have more loving parents than I do right now. I know they would do anything to protect me. The Borg Queen wants to take me away from them, but she will have to kill me to do it.

I begin to drift off to sleep, but force myself to wake up. I am exhausted from the worst day of my life. I'm afraid to fall asleep, though, because of the Queen's threat. So I just continue to rest my head on my mother's chest while attempting to keep my mind active enough to avoid sleep. Finally, my parents begin to talk, breaking the silence in the shuttle.

“Seven, how are you holding up?” my mom says in a low voice. Obviously, she thinks I have fallen asleep.

“Not well, Kathryn,” she replies back. I can hear her voice rumble in her chest. It's comforting, even though her reply isn't.

“We'll get through this. I'd sacrifice my life to keep you and Erin safe,” I hear my mom tell her.

“That is not an option, Kathryn. I could not tolerate losing you any more than I could tolerate losing Erin .” She pauses. “She stole 18 years of my life and I have learned to accept that, because it led me on a path to meet you. If you and I had never met, we would never have married and had Erin . I would never change what has happened in my life.” She sighs, and I can feel her kiss the top of my head. “But I will not allow her to harm our daughter or you. I will take a shuttle and scour the universe until I find her, if that is what it takes to remove her from our lives!”

I can hear my mother's voice crack, and I know she is crying again. I can also feel her heart beating faster under my ear. I haven't seen my mother cry so much in one day since my grandma passed away. This is definitely the worst day of my entire life. I can feel my mother softly crying, her tears falling into my hair. My mom presses into my back as she leans over to give her a kiss. This seems to help calm my mother. I see her left hand go up to wipe the tears from her face. I then feel her lay her head on mine as my mom leans her head on my back. My mother lifts her right arm up and encircles both my mom and me with it. I feel so safe right now that I wish this shuttle ride would never end. I relax and let my mind start drifting...

“ Erin , wake up. We are in San Francisco ,” I hear my mother say softly.

I open my eyes and see the Golden Gate Bridge out the shuttle window. So much for trying to stay awake. I sit up and rub the sleep from my eyes. I look at the chronometer at the front of the shuttle and see it is almost midnight. I hadn't been aware of the time until now. I start wondering how long I was lying behind the barn before my parents came out looking for me. As soon as we are settled at headquarters, I will ask them.

The shuttle enters a secure docking bay at Starfleet Headquarters. As soon as we are docked, the rear door opens to reveal a full security detail awaiting us. My parents and I get up and begin collecting our gear. As we walk out of the shuttle, one of the security officers approaches my mom.

“Good evening, Admiral,” he says

“It's more like good morning , Lieutenant,” she shoots back to him with a grin.

“Um, yes Ma'am. We've been ordered to escort you and your family to the medical bay. Would you like a hand with your belongings?”

“No, thank you. We can manage,” my mom replies as we begin walking with our parade of Starfleet security.

We make our way through the security doors and down the long hallways. I have never been in this section of headquarters before. I think we are in the Omega section. I've heard that this section is underground and cannot be scanned or detected from anywhere on Earth or in space. Most civilians and junior officers don't know about this section, or if they have heard about it, they think it's a myth or an exaggeration because of how secretive it is. I only know about it because I once heard my mom tell my mother that she had to work down here one day, and that she hated it because there were no replicators for her to get a cup of coffee. I've also heard a couple kids at school talk about it. They have parents who are Starfleet admirals and captains, so I assume that's where they got their knowledge.

After several twists and turns though the corridors, we finally reach the medical bay. As soon as we walk in, the EMH greets us.

“Admiral, Starfleet security contacted me and asked me to meet you here,” he tells my mom.

“Did they tell you why?” my mom asks.

“They said it was classified and the situation would be explained to me once you arrived,” he said with a sigh. “Looks like some things never change.”

“How's that, Doctor?” my mom questions with raised eyebrows.

“Voyager's EMH is always the last to know. I have to rely on gossip and hearsay to discover what's going on...”

My mom closes her eyes and rubs her forehead with her hand briefly before holding the hand up to the doctor.

“Doctor!” she says in a stern voice to stifle his ranting.

The doctor opens his mouth as if to get one more rant in, but thinks better of it and closes his trap quickly.

“We are here because of Erin, Doctor,” my mother begins to explain.

“Oh?” the doctor replies as he looks at me with concern.

He grabs a medical tricorder off a nearby table and begins scanning me. Almost immediately after his scan begins, his brow starts to furrow.

“Your implants are severely misaligned,” he says in astonishment. “Were you trying to interface with your mother's alcove again?”

“No,” I say with a sigh.

A couple years ago, I developed a fascination with my mother's regeneration alcove. For some reason, I wanted to be able to regenerate the way she does once a week. I tried reprogramming it to be compatible with my implants, but because I don't have a cortical node like my mother, it didn't work. Instead, it threw my implants all out of whack and cost me a visit to the doctor.

When my mom asked me why I was playing around with my mother's alcove, I told her I just wanted to know what it felt like to regenerate. She told me that if I messed with it again, I would know what it feels like not to be able to sit down for a week. That was her way of saying, ‘leave the alcove alone or I'm going to beat your ass'. She's never hit me, but in drastic situations, she'll threaten to. She was concerned about my safety and the fact that if I damaged the alcove, there is a limited number of replacement parts for it. Even though my mother only has to regenerate for 6 hours a week, she would die if the alcove no longer functioned properly. Needless to say, I don't even walk into the room in our house where it is kept now.

“I believe Erin 's implants are misaligned because the Borg Queen has attempted to contact her,” my mother blurts out.

The doctor stops scanning and looks at my mother with astonishment.

“The Borg Queen? But, I thought...”

My mother interrupts him by explaining, word for word, exactly what I have been experiencing for the last couple months. The doctor looks horrified as she concludes with what occurred behind our barn earlier in the evening. One thing I love about my mother is that she is very precise when telling a story. Once something has been told to her, she gets every detail right when she has to tell the story to someone else. Most people will turn events around and maybe add a few details of their own.

The doctor looks back and forth between my mom and my mother in disbelief as he hears of my encounter with the Borg Queen. He is the only hologram that I know of who gets so expressive. If someone didn't know any better, they would think he is flesh and blood just by his actions and the emotions he displays.

“I see,” he finally says.

He looks back at me with what appears to be an almost sympathetic look on his face.

“ Erin , why don't you lie down on this biobed,” he says, gesturing to an examination bed behind him. “I want to run a more detailed scan of your Borg implants.”

I glance over my shoulder at my parents. My mom gives me a nod with a small smile as my mother reaches her hand up to brush a lock of hair from my face.

“We will remain here with you,” she reassures me.

I take a deep sigh and walk over to the biobed. I hesitate for a moment, as I look at all the components attached to the bed. I hate getting on these things. I hop up on the bed and lay down. As soon as I do, the doctor activates the scanning shield to go over me. My parents come over to the bed and each one takes a place on either side of me. I've never told them how much I hate being enclosed in these beds, but I imagine they've picked up on my reluctance to get on the bed, and have realized my phobia.

I can't see the doctor by the foot of the bed, but I can hear him rustling around and punching commands into his console. Sometimes, I can smell the doctor. It's not anything like a human's smell. Instead, it's like the smell of an old fashioned light bulb that has been burning for a period of time. I asked my mom about it one time, and she scolded me because she thought I was being sarcastic and implying that the doctor has ‘body odor'. She told me holograms don't have any kind of odor. But my mother later confirmed that what I smelled was real, because she can smell it too. When I told her that my mom didn't believe me, she explained that she and I have Borg-enhanced olfactory receptors, while my mom does not. Her example was...

“Kathryn does not possess the olfactory sensitivity you and I have, Erin . Her Starfleet uniform footwear is one example. When Kathryn arrives home and removes her boots, you and I find the odor offensive, whereas Kathryn claims that she does not detect any odor and fails to understand why I wish to place her boots on the porch.”

Sometimes, I like having Borg-enhanced senses. It allows me to see and hear things that ordinary humans can't. Even having heightened olfactory receptors is a bonus. I can determine whether a girl is interested in me or not. With my enhanced senses, I can actually smell when a female is getting aroused.

The only down side is that my parents are both female and I can smell them. Once I get a whiff of one of them, I leave the room. Shortly after, I will hear them go into their bedroom and close the door. They act like I don't know what's going on when they do this, and I pretend not to know. I don't want to discuss it with them. Most of my friends actually think that their parents don't have sex anymore. Maybe their parents aren't as obvious about it.

A couple weeks ago, I accidentally walked in on my mom in the bathroom. She was completely naked, getting ready to step into the hydro shower. She had her back turned toward me, so all I saw was her bare back and ass. I normally would just say ‘excuse me' and close the door, but that day I stood in shock just staring at her bare ass. She had a hickey in the shape of a number ‘7' on one cheek and a number ‘9' on the other cheek. I can only speculate about what was being used as the ‘of'. It was amusingly horrifying. I quickly closed the door and went back to my room. It took me a while to shake that image from my mind. Later that morning at breakfast, my mom got a pained expression on her face when she sat down on the dining room chair. I felt like telling her, ‘that's what you get for letting Mother brand your ass!' but of course I kept my mouth shut. Some things are just better left unsaid.

The scanning shield that surrounds me suddenly comes down. I lift my head up slightly from the biobed to glance at the doctor. He turns from his console with a worried look on his face. He glances back and forth between my parents and me. He finally looks to my mom.

“I can realign Erin 's implants, but it will take several hours,” he says softly.

“Did any of the scans indicate that she was receiving messages from the Borg?” my mom asks.

The doctor hesitates slightly and licks his lips, as if his mouth is dry. I think he's interacted with flesh and blood beings for so long that he has picked up on normal responses to situations and emotions.

“Yes,” he says. I hear my mother gasp and my mom inhale deeply. “Her neural processor has been activated, which from my understanding of Borg physiology, indicates the Queen was attempting to give her instructions.”

“You are correct, Doctor,” my mother states. “The neural processor enables drones to receive instructions and messages from the Central Plexus, which is controlled by the Queen.”

My mom's expression hardens. Her command face has made another appearance. “I want to determine the precise location where those messages originated.”

“Admiral, you don't intend on taking matters into your own hands again, do you?” the doctor asks with a raised eyebrow.

“I was able to tolerate the Borg intimidating me or even our crew on Voyager, because we had the capability to defend ourselves,” my mom tells him as she squares her shoulders and juts her chin out. “But I will not stand for her terrorizing my daughter. I want every means necessary to be used to find her. I don't care if she's in the Delta Quadrant, the Alpha Quadrant, or anywhere else in the damned universe. If Starfleet won't cooperate, then I'll go to the Presidio and fire up Voyager myself to find her.”

“Admiral!” the doctor blurts out in shock.

He glances back and forth between my parents, and a look of realization comes across his face. I assume he understands that my mom is serious about her plans. When it comes to my mother and I being threatened in any way, my mom does not take things lightly. In fact, she gets a little crazed. Once, when they were on Voyager, my mother was coerced into rejoining the Collective. She did it to protect my mom and the crew from assimilation. My mom refused to accept her sacrifice and personally walked into the Borg Queen's chamber to save my mother. I'm not sure whether any other Starfleet captain that would be that obsessed with getting a crewmember back.

A long time ago, the Federation flagship, the Enterprise , was taken over by the Borg. Captain Picard saw one of his crewmembers lying on the deck, half assimilated. The crewman reached out to Picard and asked for help. Picard took a phaser and shot him. The only reason I know this is because Picard's former first officer, William Riker, and his counselor, Deanna Troi, have a son, Joshua, who is a year older than me. Josh came across some of his mother's files on Picard, and in them were the counseling sessions Deanna had with the captain about this incident. I guess he had nightmares about the fallen crewman, and it took a couple years of counseling to help him deal with it. Josh told me all this during the summer when the three of them came to our house for dinner.

I know that if it had been my mom who stumbled across an assimilated crewmember, she would have risked her own life to save them. Especially if it had been my mother. Of course, I'm sure that Captain Picard wasn't head over heels in love with any of his crewmembers that were captured by the Borg. At least my mother had my mom's love in her corner.

“What of her...dreams?” I hear my mother ask with hesitation.

I sit up on the bed and look at the doctor intently. Maybe he has the answer as to why I continue having these nightmares. My parents still haven't mentioned a word as to how my mom and I could have destroyed the Borg two years before I was even born. Hopefully, the doctor can shed some light on this mystery.

The doctor opens his mouth to speak, but is quickly stifled by my mom's hand in the air.

“Seven,” she says quietly to my mother as she approaches her. “I think we need to have a talk with Erin before going any further.”

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

“Very well, Kathryn,” she says before turning to the doctor. “Doctor, could you give us a moment to converse with Erin .”

The doctor nods to her and as he does, the light reflects off his bald head. It's almost blinding. He takes a couple of PADDs from his console and walks into the physician's office on the other side of the room. I remain sitting up on the bed as I glance over at my parents.

“Erin,” my mom begins as she leans on the bed with one hand. “Your mother and I need to talk to you about how Voyager got home.”

She hesitates as she rubs her chin lightly with her other hand.

“We are actually living in a third time line, which Voyager created,” she begins. “In the original time line, it took Voyager over 26 years to get home. Over the course of those years, many of the crewmembers were killed in various battles and away missions...including your mother.”

A sick feeling comes over me suddenly. My mother was killed! I glance over at her and see her looking at me with uneasiness. I feel myself unconsciously shaking my head as tears fill my eyes. My mother immediately steps closer to me and begins smoothing my hair back from my face.

“How were you killed?” I ask in the smallest voice I've ever heard come from my mouth.

My mother inhales sharply and glances over toward my mom before fixing her large blue eyes on me.

“I was critically injured during an away mission. My injuries were too severe for the doctor to repair.”

I avert my eyes from both of them. I can't tolerate hearing of my mother's death, even though she is standing next to me. My mom must have gone though her own personal hell in that timeline.

“Were you two married to each other then?” I blurt out without even thinking.

“No,” my mother sighs. “I was married to...another individual aboard Voyager.”

My head snaps around so fast toward her that I think it's going to fly off my neck.

“Who else would you marry besides Mom?” I ask her, as if she has betrayed my mom and me.

My mother turns her gaze to the floor briefly and then glances up at my mom. My mom remains standing next to the biobed, but her head is turned away from both my mother and me.

“I married Commander Chakotay in Voyager's original time line,” my mother says with some hesitation.

“Oh!” is all I can say. Chakotay! I know my mother dated him briefly, but I would have never imagined that she would want to marry him, in any time line. My poor mom. It must have been really hard for her to see the one woman she loved marry her first officer. In fact, I'll bet she had to marry them since she was the captain of the ship. I glance over at my mom and see that she still has her eyes averted. I can see her jaw line tighten and release. She only does this when something is upsetting her or stressing her out. Suddenly, I feel anger creep up on me. I glare back over at my mother.

“How could you do that to Mom?” I bark at her.

“Erin,” my mother says gently. “Kathryn and I could not develop a romantic relationship because she was the captain, and I was under her command. My marriage to Chakotay is irrelevant, as is my death. Ten years after Voyager returned home in the original time line, Kathryn's counterpart acquired technology to travel back in time to prevent those events from occurring.”

Floods of memories, which I know haven't occurred within my lifetime, come rushing into my mind.

“That was Admiral Janeway,” I blurt out. “She had silver hair and her personality was...different.”

“Yes,” my mother confirms with confusion in her voice.

I know she is just as confused as I am as to how I am able to remember the ‘original' Admiral Janeway. I glance over at my mom, who is looking at me with wide eyes.

“She's the admiral who was with me when the Borg were destroyed,” I tell my mom.

“Yes, Sweetie,” my mom says. “She is the admiral from your dreams.”

“So why was I there? And how was my presence even possible?”

My mom gives me a small smile. She leans in closer to the bed.

“Admiral Janeway got Voyager home,” she begins to explain. “We dealt a crippling blow to the Borg by destroying the transwarp hub while simultaneously using the hub to reach the Alpha Quadrant. We didn't know that the remaining Borg had assimilated the Admiral's technology and devised a plan to retaliate against the Federation.”

“The Admiral's virus destroyed only the Borg in the hub, not the entire Collective,” I add from my memory files.

My mom nods her head in agreement. She takes a deep sigh and continues with her story.

“About six months after we returned to Earth, your mother came to live with me. From that point, we developed a relationship and eventually married and had a daughter named Erin . She was, in essence, your counterpart from the second time line Voyager created.”

There was once another me? The whole idea of it is fascinating, but also creepy.

“Did she look like me?”

My mom chuckles in her deep, throaty voice. “Yes, Sweetie. She was genetically identical to you. Of course, when your mother and I met her in our time line, she was nearly 30 years old.”

“Then this is the Erin that I hear you and Mother mention sometimes,” I tell my mom. “I've heard you make comparisons between her and me.”

My parents look at each other with surprise on their faces. My mother then turns to me.

“I was unaware you overheard our conversations,” she states.

“I wasn't eavesdropping,” I explain. “Sometimes, I can't control what I overhear.”

My mother regards me briefly before raising her ocular implant.

“I understand,” she adds with a discerning look.

I wonder whether she is recalling all the conversations she and my mom had, which I was not supposed to hear. Or maybe she realizes that I can overhear them when they're having sex.

“In your counterpart's time line,” my mom continues, “the Borg attacked the Federation. Erin was one of the few survivors who escaped from Earth.”

A vision of a wooded area comes into my mind. I see Starfleet officers and their families at some sort of campsite. My parents and I are there. Suddenly, we see red laser-like lights appear in the woods. Borg drones begin circling the site. The family members begin screaming and running. The Starfleet personnel, my parents and myself included, try using their phasers on the drones. After a few shots, the drones adapt and their body shielding becomes impervious to our weapons.

I grab each of my parents' arms and try to get them out of the campsite, but they are older than they are now. If they could only run faster, we could make it. Suddenly, a couple of drones come at us from the side and grab my mom and my mother. Their arms slip out of my hands and I am thrown to the ground. A male drone bends down to grab me, but I fight back. It is quite a scuffle, and I end up pulling his cranial tubes from his head, deactivating him.

“ Erin ?” I hear my mom say, shaking me back to reality. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” I say with a slight shake of my head. I look up at her and my mother. “I seem to ‘remember' what happened. I don't understand...how?”

My mom opens her mouth to say something, but must realize that she doesn't know the answer to my question, because she quickly closes it. She slowly turns her head to give my mother a silent cue to come up with an explanation. My mother averts her eyes briefly before raising her ocular implant at my mom.

“Kathryn,” she says softly. “Perhaps this is a result of my ‘contact' with the other Erin , before she departed Voyager.”

My gaze shifts back and forth between my parents. My mom has a look of near horror on her face, while my mother is obviously doing her best to maintain an emotionless expression.

“What ‘contact' did you make with the other Erin ?” I ask her.

My mother remains silent. It must have been something awful, since she is so hesitant to tell me. So I look to my mom.

“What happened, Mom?”

“Sweetie,” she says as she gently places her hand on my cheek. “We can finish discussing this in the morning. You've had a long day, and I think you need to get some sleep.”

“But I want to know what happened,” I say in a voice more demanding than I intended.

“Erin,” my mother says, stepping closer to the biobed. “Kathryn and I must speak with the doctor. I believe he will run additional scans on you tomorrow. It would be beneficial for you to rest now.”

Damn! Why can't they just tell me what happened? I want to protest, but the look on my mother's face tells me that she will not put up with one of my tantrums. I nod my head with a sigh and lie back down on the biobed. My mom grabs a blanket from a nearby storage compartment and covers me with it.

“We'll be here with you,” she tells me as she rubs my hair softly and gives me a light kiss on the forehead.

I nod my head to her as she steps back and my mother approaches me. She pulls the covers up to my neck. I know that I am too old to be tucked in, but it gives me a comforting feeling to have my mother do this again. I turn onto my left side to face her. She gives me a gentle smile and begins soothingly rubbing my back. She used to do this all the time when I was little and had trouble falling asleep.

“Would you like me to sing to you?” she asks in a low voice.

“No,” I say with an inaudible snort.

“Very well,” she says with a smile. “Kathryn and I will be in the doctor's office. We will return shortly.”

I feel my eyelids getting heavy as I watch my parents walk toward the doctor's office together. I see my mom place her hand on the small of my mother's back. She normally doesn't display physical affection outside our home, especially while she's in her Starfleet uniform, but sometimes I think she just can't resist when it comes to my mother.

The image of them disappearing into the office door becomes blurred and the room becomes dark. I can feel myself drifting....

I look over at my parents and see them trying to get away from the drones that have captured them. I begin to run over to them and am stopped short by another drone. I struggle slightly with the drone before breaking her neck. I throw the lifeless drone to the ground and look up to see six more Borg walking toward me. I look at my parents and see their captors extending their assimilation tubules.

“You must go, Erin !” I hear my mother scream at me.

“ Erin ! Run!” my mom's voice belts out her last command.

It feels like time is standing still as I just stand there and watch the assimilation tubules go into my parents' necks. My mom lets out a loud cry before collapsing as my mother winces sharply and falls limply next to her. More drones begin approaching me. I just stare at them, feeling paralyzed. I have an urge to brutally kill them all, but reality sinks in and I realize I would never be able to defeat them all in hand-to-hand combat. I take one last look at my parents lying on the ground before turning around and running into the woods. I run so fast and hard that I can taste blood in my mouth. Tears are running so rapidly down my face that it obstructs my vision.

“ Erin !” I hear someone call in a whispered yell.

I stop and turn around to see a young ensign emerge from the bushes. He had obviously been hiding there. I seem to recognize him from the campsite. He was staying there with his father, who was an admiral. The ensign explains to me that he was on his way back to camp with a bundle of wood he had gathered up. He says that as soon as he got to the edge of the woods, he saw the Borg attacking the camp. He apparently made no attempt to help fight them off, not even to save his own father. Instead, he dropped the wood and took off running. He leads me to a clearing in the woods, in which a small shuttlecraft is waiting.

We begin powering up the shuttle, when four other members of the campsite emerge out of the woods. They run onto the shuttle and inform us that the Borg have assimilated everyone in the camp and are heading for the shuttle. Just as we are able to close the shuttle doors, we see what appear to be hundreds of drones coming from the woods. I quickly override the launching warm up procedures and get the shuttle lifted off the ground. I take one last glance at the drones, which have surrounded the clearing, before accelerating the shuttlecraft. I immediately spot my own parents. They have only been partially assimilated at this point, but their skin is gray and implants have erupted on their faces. I can see them both looking up at me, but with cold, unfeeling eyes. At that point, I realize that my parents no longer exist.

“I promise I will find a way to get you both back,” I whisper to them before activating the shuttle's newly installed cloaking device and jetting out into space.

I open my eyes and glance around the half lighted room. It takes me a moment to realize that I am not at home and I am in Sickbay at Starfleet Headquarters. I am still lying on my left side. Usually, I toss and turn in my sleep, but last night I must have been exhausted to be laying in the same position this morning. I look over at a couch against the wall across from the biobed. My parents are slumped together on the couch, fast asleep. My mom is resting her head on my mother's chest and their arms and legs are so entwined, it's almost difficult to tell whose limb is whose.

Suddenly, images of my dream begin flowing through my mind. No, it wasn't a dream. It was a memory. A memory of the other Erin's life, which I still have no idea how I could possibly...wait, the other dream that I keep having on a continuous basis starts entering my mind. It's almost like a puzzle, and I have to try to find all the pieces to put it together. Or maybe I have all the pieces already.

I was in a shuttle with the other Admiral Janeway. We were docked in Voyager's shuttle bay. We were going to...the Borg hub? My parents came aboard. My mom injected the admiral with a hypospray. It must have been a virus for the Borg. Then my mother approached me and... oh, shit !

I sit straight up in the biobed and take a deep breath. That couldn't have really happened. My sudden restlessness stirs my mother from her slumber. I look over at the couch and see her gazing at me with concern.

“No,” I whisper, more to myself, as I continue looking at her.

“Erin?”

“You assimilated me!”



 
 
To be continued ...

 
 
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