Future's Present
by Hellsbabies

Part 4
posted  March 2005

 
 

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.

Note: A huge thank you to Xee for being my beta reader and offering helpful suggestions and encouragement to keep at it until this story was complete.

Feedback: hellsbabies@msn.com


 
 

Part 4

Three days have passed since my parents and I had to leave our home and stay at Starfleet Headquarters. Even though the doctor had originally said it would only take several hours to realign my Borg implants, it's turned out to be days. Apparently, Starfleet has determined the exact coordinates where the messages from the Borg Queen were coming from, and several vessels have been dispatched to that location. I'm not sure what they are planning on doing once they do find the Borg Queen, and to be honest, at this point, I really don't care. I just want to go home.

A chirp from a nearby console grabs my attention. I look over and see my mother working on something. She has stayed with me the entire time we have been here. My mom has spent quite a bit of time with us, but she does leave every few hours to monitor the fleet's progress and to attend meetings with the other headquarter officers. Right now, she is in the above-ground section of headquarters, getting herself a cup of coffee and lunch for my mother and me.

I am sitting on the couch of our little room, which we have taken over in sickbay, looking over my PADDs from school. My mom made arrangements for an ensign to collect my homework assignments each day. The school has no idea what is going on. I believe they were told I was sick because I have received several letters from my friends, which were included with my homework assignments, telling me to ‘get well'. Even though it has only been a few days since I've seen them, I miss them as if I haven't talked to them in a year. I find myself re-reading several lines of my PADD and determine that I just can't concentrate. Cabin fever. That's what I have. I put the PADD down and lean back on the couch as I close my eyes.

“ Erin , you must finish your studies,” I hear my mother say.

I open my eyes and see her still standing at her console. Sometimes I swear that she has eyes in the back of her head, because she didn't even have to turn away from her work to know that I had taken a break from studying.

“I can't concentrate on anything right now,” I tell her.

“Very well,” she says with a sigh, while still working. “Once Kathryn returns with our meal, you will eat and then resume studying. Perhaps you will be able to ‘concentrate' then.”

“Perhaps,” I reply as I lean my head back on the couch.

I take a closer look at my mother's face and see that she is totally worn out. I have never seen her look so tired before. I feel sympathy for her. She has been through a lot over the past few days. In fact, I think this whole experience has been more emotionally draining on her than it has been on my mom and me.

I think most of her distress comes from having to relive the memories of what happened to my counterpart. The first morning we awoke here, I realized that the nightmares I have been having over the last two months were actually memories. Including the fact that my mother assimilated my counterpart. I questioned her as to how she could do such a thing, and it sent her into a frenzy. I said some very disrespectful things to her, which sent her running from sickbay crying. Needless to say, my mom jumped all over me and made me feel about two centimeters tall.

After my mom had ripped me a new one, she left sickbay to find my mother. As I sat alone, I began having another wave of ‘memories', which made me realize that my counterpart left my mother no choice but to assimilate her so she would have the ability to transmit the virus that destroyed the Collective. Even now, days later, I still feel awful for the things I said to my mother. I know it was a very hard and traumatic thing she had to do.

I was so enraged at the time that I told my mother she was no better than Icheb's parents and she used me as a ‘weapon' to destroy the Borg. That's when she fled sickbay in tears and my mom grabbed me by my shoulders and shook me. She asked me what the hell was wrong with me. I may be bigger and stronger than my mom, but at that moment I was scared shitless of her. It was the first time in my life that I actually thought she was going to slap me.

An hour later, my parents came back to sickbay and I immediately ran up to my mother and hugged her. I told her how sorry I was and that I didn't mean any of the things I'd said. She forgave me and requested that we not speak about that incident anymore. She told me that remembering that moment was more unpleasant than remembering her own assimilation by the Borg when she was six years old. I told her I understood and attempted to offer reassurance by telling her she did the right thing. I don't think my words were much comfort, but my mother took it all in stride.

Things have been somewhat back to normal for us since then, and we've agreed not to talk about that particular incident again. Unfortunately though, the doctor had to bring it up this morning and my mother started to become unraveled again. The doctor told us that he believes I am experiencing the memories of the original Erin due to the fact that my mother had injected her with her assimilation tubules. My mother had made that statement the first night we were here, and the doctor basically just confirmed her theory.

When a Borg drone assimilates an individual, their tubules extend and puncture the individual's neck. When this happens, the tubules extract some of the individual's DNA, along with memory engrams, before injecting them with nanoprobes. This is how the individual's knowledge and distinctiveness are distributed throughout the Collective. When my mother injected my counterpart with her tubules, she essentially sucked in the other Erin 's memories of her life. These were stored in my mother's nanoprobes and ended up being passed along to me during her pregnancy. They were lying dormant in my system, until I received my call from the Borg Queen.

Even though the doctor came up with an answer as to how I could have memories of another life, he is still baffled as to how it is all possible. My mother confirmed his belief and admitted that she, too, did not understand it all completely. I'm guessing that since she is the only Borg drone to have become pregnant and actually pass down Borg implants and nanoprobes to her child, she has no other frame of reference as to what process actually takes place when a drone gives birth.

Of course, I always have to ask the bigger question, like why did I receive the memories and experiences of the other Erin, but not those of any of the other individuals my mother assimilated when she was a drone? Or maybe I did receive them all, and they're still lying dormant somewhere inside me, just like the “other” Erin 's memories were until the queen summoned them. Probably only the queen herself knows for sure. I think Borg physiology is fascinating, but at the same time, confusing and complicated.

I hear the sickbay doors open and see my mom enter, carrying two stacked containers of food in one hand, and a large cup of coffee in the other. Walking in behind her is a blonde woman, who by the insignia on her collar is an ensign in the Special Forces brigade of Starfleet. It's the only group in Starfleet that allows junior officers to have security clearance to enter this Omega section of headquarters.

The ensign is carrying two large cups, which I assume are our drinks to go with lunch. My mom sets the containers of food down on a nearby table and motions for the ensign to do the same with the beverages. I watch the young woman set the cups down, and then she turns toward me and gives me a smile. I smile back and can feel my face flush. She is a very beautiful woman, and I can almost swear she is batting her eyelashes at me. Maybe being stuck in sickbay isn't so bad after all.

“I brought you soup and a sandwich, Erin ,” I hear my mom say to me.

“Um, okay. Thanks, Mom,” I reply while keeping my eyes locked with the gorgeous ensign.

“I had extra onions put in your sandwich,” she says as she lifts the lids from the container. “I know how much you like onions.”

I'm half listening to my mom as she sets my lunch up for me. The ensign and I are still gazing at each other and exchanging subtle smiles. Then I hear my mother say...

“Kathryn, onions give Erin gastrointestinal upset.”

I whip my head around and look at my mother in horror. I hear the ensign snicker and I can feel my face turn beet red.

“Mother!”

My mother gives me a look as if she doesn't understand why I am so mortified. My mom lets out a chuckle as she hands the ensign the empty containers to return to the messhall.

“Thank you, Ensign,” my mom says to the woman.

“You're welcome, Admiral,” the ensign says as she turns to leave.

I keep my eyes averted from the ensign as she walks out of sickbay. Once I hear the sickbay doors slide shut, I glance up at my mother, who is looking at me with her ocular implant raised.

“Why is your face flushed?” she asks me.

“Because you embarrass me, Mother,” I tell her as I pick up my spoon and begin stirring my soup.

“You were embarrassed because I stated in the presence of the ensign that onions give you gastrointestinal upset,” she says bluntly.

“Yes,” I say with a sigh. My mother can really be trying on the nerves some days.

I give a brief glance up at her and see that she has taken her customary stance with her hands linked behind her back. She looks at me with a tilt of her head, as if trying to figure out what I am thinking. Maybe she'll give up and let this go.

“You wished to engage in sexual relations with that young woman,” she states.

Oh no! She's not going to let this go. I put my soup spoon down and take a peek at my mom. Maybe she can end this line of questioning. Instead, I find my mom sitting on the arm of the couch next to me, sipping her coffee and trying to hide the smirk on her face. Apparently, she thinks all of this is amusing.

I look back over at my mother and see that she is still standing there, waiting for an answer. I feel like saying, Yes, Mother. I wanted to screw her brains out. If you and Mom weren't here I would have ripped off her clothes and done her right on that biobed! But, like a good girl, I just keep my mouth shut.

“Since you remain silent, I will assume I am correct,” my mother tells me. “ Erin , you have more important tasks in life to think about at this time. We will discuss your involvement in sexual activities when you reach the age of twenty-five.”

With that, she turns back to her console and begins working again. I open my mouth to give a response and suddenly feel my mom tugging on my shirtsleeve. I look over at her and she puts her finger to her lips, which is her way of telling me to keep quiet. My mom knows that my mother and I could bicker back and forth all day about this, and she also knows that I would get nowhere in the debate. My mother has her own views on how things should be, and there is no point in arguing with her about them.

I pick up my soup spoon again and begin eating. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see my mom still sitting on the couch armrest, sipping her coffee. She is staring at my mother with concern on her face.

“Seven, when was the last time you regenerated?” she asks my mother.

“It has been several days, Kathryn,” my mother replies, while still working at her console.

“Maybe you should return to the house for a few hours,” my mom suggests. “A security detail is still assigned there and can keep an eye out for anything while you regenerate.”

I glance up at her as I shove a spoonful of the lukewarm soup in my mouth. My mother takes a deep breath and glances over first at me, then at my mom.

“I would prefer to remain here, with Erin ,” she tells my mom.

“Seven,” my mom says softly. “You are not going to be any use to Erin if you don't regenerate. I don't want to make this an order.”

My mother regards her briefly and raises her ocular implant before furrowing her eyebrows.

“Kathryn, I am your wife, not your subordinate,” she replies. Her voice is harsh, but underneath she sounds hurt.

My mom stands up from the end of the couch and places her coffee mug on the table next to her. She walks up to my mother and begins running her hands over my mother's biceps and forearms.

“Sweetheart, I know you are not my subordinate. I just want you to regenerate for a while. The last few days have been extremely stressful for all three of us, and I'm sure it's taken its toll on your implants. So please, Seven, go home and regenerate. I'll go with you, if you'd like.”

My mother's face lightens from the scowl she has been wearing for the last few minutes. She glances over at me briefly before turning back to my mom.

“Someone should remain here with Erin …”

“The doctor will keep an eye on her,” my mom interrupts. “I will tell him to contact us immediately if anything should happen.”

My mother averts her eyes and I can tell she is contemplating all the various situations that could occur in her absence. My mom must also realize what she is thinking, because she lifts her right hand up to my mother's chin and lightly brings her face down to meet her eyes.

“Seven, everything will be alright,” she tells her softly.

My mother takes in a sharp breath as she looks into my mom's eyes.

“Very well, Kathryn,” she says with some defeat.

“I'll inform the doctor,” my mom says with a smile. She runs her hand up my mother's cheek and practically stands on her tiptoes to give her a peck on the lips.

My mom walks over to the doctor's office, leaving my mother standing in our little room, looking at me with concern.

“I'll be okay, Mother,” I try to convince her.

“Once you have consumed your meal, you must return to your studies,” she informs me.

“Yes, Mother.”

“ Erin , you are not to leave this room under any circumstances. If anything should occur, you will inform the doctor immediately.”

“I understand.”

She approaches me and gives me a kiss on the cheek. She starts to walk away, but suddenly turns back towards me.

“I recommend you remove the onions from your sandwich. They will cause you grief later this evening.”

I just nod to her. I feel like telling her that it's not the onions that will cause me grief, it is her. I love my mother dearly, but she can be a pain in the ass sometimes. After several minutes of my parents telling the doctor of their plans, my mom comes over to say her goodbyes and attempts to reassure me (or herself) that nothing will happen over the next few hours.

“I'll be fine, Mom. Just please take Mother home,” I say in a desperate whisper.

My mom chuckles as she smoothes my hair and places a kiss on the top of my head. She walks over to my mother and they both leave sickbay together. I finish my lunch (including every bite of onion) and lean back in my seat. I close my eyes briefly and my mind starts to drift. I'm suddenly so tired. Maybe I'll just take a little nap before continuing with my homework…

We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile.

A jolt wakes me from my slumber. At first, I think it must have been part of my dream, but when I stand up and another jolt throws me off my feet, I realize it's no dream. I hear a loud siren sound and the red lights around the perimeter of the sickbay bulkhead begin blinking. The security team stationed in sickbay begins scampering to the different consoles, entering codes as fast as they can.

The doctor comes running out of his office, heading straight for me.

“Doc, what the hell is going on?” I ask him as I get back on my feet.

“Headquarters is under attack,” he explains to me as picks up a cortical monitor and places it behind my ear.

“It's her , isn't it?” I ask softly.

“Yes. I've remodulated this cortical monitor to scatter your pattern. With any luck, it will prevent the queen from getting a lock on you.”

Just as the doctor finishes his sentence, I feel a tingling sensation go through my body. The image of the doctor running toward a nearby console becomes hazy. She's attempting to transport me out of sickbay.

I keep my eyes focused on the doctor, even though he is fading in and out to me. Suddenly, I see an image of another room. It feels cold and dark. There is twisted metal everywhere, consoles are exploding, and a viewscreen shows a fleet of Starfleet vessels firing weapons. I feel a presence behind me, and just as I turn around to catch a glimpse of the queen herself, I am transported back to my little room in sickbay.

“Doctor!”

“You're back, Erin !” he exclaims as he grabs my arm. “We need to get you out of here.”

The doctor pulls me through the sickbay doors and down the corridor. Shots are continuing to be fired at the building, causing power circuits to shower sparks in the corridors.

Eventually, the doc lets go of my sleeve and I find myself following him in a dead run. As we turn corners and pass secured doorways, I have no idea where he is leading me. The sounds of explosions fade as the only things I can hear are my heartbeat and the sounds of the security detail running behind us.

Suddenly, the doctor comes to a complete stop. I slam on my own brakes, coming within millimeters of his back. I glance around his balding head to see that the corridor in front of us has collapsed. The doctor whips around to face the officer in command of the security detail.

“Lieutenant, can you transport us to the brig?”

The large, dark-haired lieutenant checks a nearby console on the bulkhead and turns to the doctor, shaking his head.

“It's still too risky,” he replies. “If we try transporting her, her pattern could be picked up by the Borg vessel. This section is even less secure than sickbay.”

“Then what do you propose we do?” the doctor asks with a touch of panic in his voice. “We can't leave Erin out in the open like this.”

The lieutenant enters some commands into the console. Within seconds, a force field goes up around our location. The lieutenant turns back to the doctor.

“That should buy us a few minutes while my team clears away this debris.”

The doctor thanks him and pulls me back from the large pile of conduits and pieces of bulkhead blocking our path. The security team scurries over to the pile and begins pulling pieces out to make an opening. I can't believe all this is happening because of me. I lean my back against the wall and sink down to the floor. The doctor crouches down next to me and places his hand on my shoulder.

“It's going to be alright, Erin ,” he tells me. “Once we get you to the brig, she won't be able to detect you.”

“Why the brig?”

“She must not have picked that section up on sensors, because there is no damage to that area. At least, that's our assumption.”

“How could she even have known about any part of this section of headquarters? I thought it was supposed to be designed to conceal anything.”

“We don't know,” he says with a sigh. “I wish I could give the answers you need, but to be perfectly honest, I don't understand how the Borg Queen could even be alive now, let alone how she knows your location.”

I wrap my arms around my knees and rest my head on them. Why is this woman…or whatever she is…so intent on having me join her? It's not my fault that her Collective was destroyed by me and my mom's future selves.

I feel like crying right now, but I hold the tears back. I have to stay strong…that's what my mom is always telling me. I drown out the noise of the security detail clearing the debris from the corridor by letting my mind drift back to our house. I want so badly to go home. I want to play ball with our dog, lie in the grass in the backyard, and stare up into the sky at the stars and the occasional shuttle passing overhead. I want to sit on the porch at sunset and watch the moon become brighter as the sky darkens. Most importantly, I want my parents. I hope I will be able to see them again. I know I've taken them for granted, but if I could just go home, I would never do it again.

“Doc?”

“Yes, Erin.”

“Where are my parents?”

“I contacted them as soon as the attacks began. They were on their way here when we lost our communications array.”

A horrible image of my parents' shuttle being destroyed on their way back to Starfleet enters my mind. I can only hope it's an image of irrational fear, and not a premonition of what's going to happen. I wish they were here.

“We're all clear, Doctor,” I hear the lieutenant say.

I look up to see him go to the console and release the force field. The doctor helps me to my feet, and we begin making our way through the clearing in the debris. Just as we step out on the other side of the opening, I feel a tingling sensation again. I scream to the doctor, but I am not sure if any sound is coming out of my mouth. The last thing I see is the doctor reaching his hand behind my ear to adjust the cortical monitor and the lieutenant at a console attempting to disrupt the transport, but they are too late….

“Welcome home, Erin .”

The haziness clears from my eyes and I see the Borg queen standing in front of me. I look around and see the same room I was in before. The consoles are no longer imploding. Smoke is seeping out from them. The viewscreen shows hundreds of Starfleet vessels in attack formation around this…whatever we are on.

“What do you want from me?” I squeak out.

She walks around me, as if I am her prey, with a subtle smirk on her face. Her glazed eyes rake over me, as if she is scrutinizing my appearance. Finally, she stops in front of me and places one of her gloved hands on my cheek.

“I have waited so long for this moment to arrive,” she says softly. “Erin Hansen Janeway, you will be the Borg's savior.”

I turn my head away from her in disgust. She takes her hand off my cheek and I can swear I can almost hear a sigh of aggravation escape her lips.

“I know you feel the need to resist me. It is a natural reaction, one which every individual has experienced during their assimilation into the Collective. I did not bring you here to harm you, Erin. I wish to help you, just as you will help me.”

“How could you possibly help me?” I lash out at her. I can feel my face redden from anger. “You've done nothing but cause trouble for me the last few months.”

“Any difficulties you experienced in the past were brought on by your own ignorance and fear,” she states in a mild tone. She takes a sharp look at the view screen, causing me to look as well. The Starfleet vessels have remained motionless in attack formation, with a view of Earth in the background.

“They have poisoned your mind, Erin ,” she says, still glaring at the view screen. “Admiral Janeway and Seven of Nine have raised you to embrace your human side and to deny the Borg within you.”

She glances back over at me with that filthy smile again. “I will help you by allowing you the freedom to use the Borg technology you were born with. You will never again have to be ashamed of who you are.”

“I'm not ashamed of who I am,” I tell her. “My parents did not raise me to hate the Borg. If they did, they would have taught me to hate myself, as well as my mother. You shouldn't make assumptions about my family.”

“I have made no assumptions,” she tells me. “Several days ago, you told Admiral Janeway how you felt when individuals made distasteful comments about the Borg in your presence. I know you felt shame as well as anger.”

“You've been spying on me and my family?” I ask with disgust. “You can't do that!”

The queen smiles at me as she passes by to walk over to a console and enter commands. The reality of the situation suddenly hits my brain like a plasma storm. I know from my research on the Borg, and what little information I could get out of my parents, that the queen does not ‘enter' commands into a computer. She mentally delivers them to her drones, and they carry out the commands. But seeing her actually do the work herself is my confirmation that she is truly alone. She has no drones to carry out her commands, but why?

She turns from the console and looks at me.

“You must abandon your ideas of ‘rules and regulations', Erin . Once you have assisted me in re-establishing the Collective, you will find all your requirements and desires will be met without the need for frivolous human concepts of ‘right' and ‘wrong'. You will find life within the Collective…satisfying.”

Satisfying? How can assimilating millions of individuals against their will be satisfying? Maybe she means the satisfaction of doing whatever the hell you want. The Borg are obviously the most self-centered species ever to exist.

The ship suddenly begins to shudder. The queen quickly studies the view screen and tilts her head, as if she is being humored. I follow her gaze and see that one of the Starfleet vessels has locked onto the queen's ship with a tractor beam.

“They believe our ship is damaged and unable to defend against them,” she states as she looks back at me. “Why do you suppose they have used a tractor beam, instead of firing weapons at us?”

“They know I'm here and don't want to risk injuring or killing me,” I tell her with a smirk.

“Young Erin, you still have much to learn,” she says with a smile. “They do not wish to risk the destruction of Admiral Janeway's daughter, not you. I have studied human behavior for many years, and I know of their hatred for the Borg. Many on that vessel do not care for you as an individual. Their only concern is to avoid the repercussions of destroying the admiral's only child.”

“I don't believe you,” I respond with some hesitation. I glance back at the screen and see all the Starfleet vessels maintaining their positions. Maybe the queen is right. Maybe the senior officers on all those ships are only here for show. I'm sure there must be some other aggressive approach to getting me off this ship besides a tractor beam. But then again, who would want to be the one to say, ‘Sorry I blew up your daughter, Admiral Janeway.'

I'm beginning to believe that the Borg Queen knows what she is talking about. Humans do have a strong distaste for Borg. There are times I have felt people just ‘tolerated' being around my mother and me. Perhaps if it weren't for my mom, we might have been run out of the Alpha Quadrant.

Suddenly, I feel eyes on me. I look over to see the queen's gaze on me. She is manipulating my thoughts. She is willing me into believing that the humans on Earth do not care what happens to me because I was born part Borg. But I know better than that, and I need to stay in control of my own individual thoughts.

The queen quickly whips her head toward the view screen. I can see her eyes narrow before she turns and begins entering commands into the console again. Suddenly, I hear a whining throughout the ship and see that the tractor beam, which was holding us in position, is being deflected back. The Starfleet vessel where it originated from gets thrown backward, away from the queen's ship.

The queen's ship begins to shake as the propulsion system comes on line. This ship is in very bad need of repair and is actually a genuine piece of crap. I grab onto a nearby support strut as the engines begin powering up.

“What are you doing?” I yell over the loud engine sounds.

“It is time to take you to your new home, Erin ,” she replies in her monotone Borg voice.

Fear takes over my body. For some reason, being on this ship didn't seem to bother me when I could just look over at the view screen and see half of Starfleet's vessels surrounding us. Now I realize I was being over-confident in thinking they'd be able to rescue me in time.

The queen has initiated the transwarp drive. I take one last glance at the view screen and catch a glimpse of a small spacecraft emerging from the larger group of Starfleet vessels. It's too large to be a Class 2 shuttle, and definitely too small to be a commissioned Starfleet ship. I focus harder on the unique design of the small craft's hull. It's the Delta Flyer.

“Mom!” I yell as the queen's ship thrusts forward into the transwarp conduit she has created. I lose my grip on the conduit I have been clinging to and fall back onto a large structure behind me. I feel a warm liquid run down from my forehead to my cheek. I wipe my hand across my face and see bright red blood on my fingers. I look back to see what I've hit my head on. It looks like a large regeneration alcove. I assume it's the queen's alcove.

I quickly climb to my feet and look back at the view screen. The Starfleet vessels are gone, including the Delta Flyer. The only view now is the inside of the transwarp conduit, with its various shades of green. I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest. I know my parents were on the Flyer, and I know now that they will never be able to find me. My life as I knew it…my existence…is now over.

With no control over my body, I fall to my knees. As childish as it may sound, I want to scream, ‘I want my mommy'. I have to keep myself together, though. Show no fear, but of course that's easier said than done. I picture my parents on the Delta Flyer when the queen's ship went into transwarp drive. My mother was probably getting ready to beam herself onto the queen's ship with phaser rifle in hand, and my mom was probably barking out orders at whoever was piloting, which I assume was Tom Paris, since it was his ship. Starfleet let him keep the Delta Flyer when Voyager returned to Earth, because he was the one who designed it and kept pushing my mom to let him build it. I'm surprised the damn thing can even get out of Earth's atmosphere, because it's been collecting dust for almost 20 years.

Drops of blood fall in front of me onto the grated deck flooring, drawing my attention. I suddenly feel a gloved hand lift my chin. I close my eyes tightly. This is it. She is going to assimilate me now.

After several seconds, I feel a warm glow run across my forehead. I open my eyes and see the queen running what appears to be a Borg version of a dermal regenerator over my forehead.

“You are damaged,” she says softly. “I am repairing you.”

I look up into her pale, glistening face as she runs the dermal regenerator over me. Her eyes are so glazed that it is difficult to tell what color they actually are. I wonder what species she was before she became Borg. She doesn't really resemble any Alpha Quadrant species that I know of, but then again, it's hard telling with all that Borg technology surrounding her.

She stops running the regenerator over me and pulls my face closer to hers to look into my eyes.

“You are curious about me,” she remarks, as if she can read my mind.

I just nod. She has pulled my head so far back it almost feels like I'm going to choke. I don't think she means to cause me discomfort; I just think she doesn't know her own strength. A spark of light from her command console catches my attention. The queen follows my gaze and quickly removes her hand from my chin. She walks over to the console and studies the display screen. Suddenly, she turns back to me.

“The primary matrix is overloading,” she says in her usual matter-of-fact tone. “You will assist me in repairing this vessel.”

I slowly rise to my feet and glance around at all the different screens and command panels. I look back at her and shake my head.

“I don't know how to repair this ship,” I tell her.

“You will know what to do once you begin.”

I glance around at the ship's systems again. How could I possibly know what commands to enter? The only vessel I have been on is a shuttle, and I certainly wasn't allowed to operate any systems on that. One of my parents usually piloted the shuttle whenever we took trips off Earth. They always took care of any malfunctions that might have occurred during our flights. One time I did talk my mom into letting me take the conn for a brief time on a trip to Mars, but just as I was ready to take over, my mother stepped in and protested. She said I was too young to fly a shuttle, and I would learn proper techniques when I entered Starfleet. I think she was afraid I was going to crash into something.

“Erin,” the queen says, snapping my attention back to her. “This vessel will be destroyed if we do not maintain its systems. You must comply.”

So now it's a choice of assisting the queen in maintaining this death bucket, or being blown to bits along with her ship. Either way, I am sure I am going to face my own destruction, but I have to decide whether I want to get it done and over with now, or wait until we reach our destination.

Never give up. It's not over ‘til it's over. I hear my mom's words echoing in my head. She's repeated those phrases to me several times over the course of my life, whenever I was up against a tough situation. Of course, none of those situations were matters of life and death, like this one. I think about my parents and what they would do in my place. They would keep themselves alive as long as possible.

I slowly nod to the queen to acknowledge that I will comply. I might as well get used to following her commands, since my destiny is obviously to become her drone. She gives me a hint of a smile before turning back to her console. It's not a smile of happiness; it's a smile of victory. She is winning.

I instinctively walk to another console and begin entering commands to stabilize the primary matrix. How in the hell do I know how to do this? At first glance, all the different consoles and buttons looked confusing. None of the interfaces are labeled, but now that I am actually standing here, everything makes sense. Maybe the queen is somehow transmitting this knowledge to me, or maybe it's just something I inherited from my mother.

After several minutes, the vessel's systems begin to stabilize. I take a peek at the queen to see that her attention is focused on her own work. I quickly enter a command to scan for any vessels that might possibly have entered the transwarp conduit with us. Nothing. Of course, I didn't have my hopes set on it, but it never hurts to look.

Another screen shows me that we have already traveled over 20,000 light years from Earth. We are in the Delta Quadrant. Suddenly, as fast as we started out on this little journey, we stop. I look up at the view screen to see a hazy orange cloud surrounding us. I can faintly see pieces of debris floating by.

“Where are we?” I say more to myself.

“We are currently located in grid 986,” the queen says, with a hint of distaste in her voice.

I take a closer look at the screen and at some of the debris passing us. I could almost swear it looks like pieces of Borg ships. The orange-colored cloud surrounding us is so thick that the debris is not visible until we're right on top of it.

“We are in a nebula,” I whisper to myself.

“Yes,” the queen says, even though I wasn't addressing her. “This was once the location of a Borg transwarp hub, until its destruction 17 years ago.”

Seventeen years ago? This is the nebula where Admiral Janeway and the other Erin destroyed the Borg! Voyager destroyed the transwarp hub she is speaking of, and used it to return to the Alpha Quadrant.

“Why did you bring me here?”

“This was once believed to be the end of the Borg,” she states, staring at the view screen with her glazed eyes. “I intend to make this the beginning of a new Collective.”

I glance over at her before looking back at the view of clouds and debris. Revenge. That is what this is all about. Millions of drones were destroyed here, and the virus that the other Erin released was transmitted to the billions of drones outside this nebula. The entire Collective was wiped out because of one person's action, and that one person was…me.

I feel my body begin to quiver with fear. She is going to make me pay for what Admiral Janeway and the other Erin did to her Collective. She will create a new Collective, and it looks like I will be her first drone. I take a deep breath and lock eyes with the queen.

“You are going to assimilate me now,” I state.

She gives me one of her evil little smiles as she begins walking around me. My body becomes so tense that it causes shooting pains from my neck to my lower back.

“No,” she says finally as she stops in front of me. “I do not wish to turn you into a drone. You will maintain your individuality. It is required so that you may become my successor.”

“Your successor? Are you planning on retiring?” I ask sarcastically, causing the queen to give me an amused look.

“You have developed your mother's sense of humor,” she states as she stops in front of me. “Many would find your words an annoyance. I find them to be the foundation of your humanity. You will one day look upon humans through my eyes, and your knowledge of their emotional language will be beneficial in their assimilation.”

“I don't understand,” I say with confusion. “You want me to take your place, form a new Collective, and assimilate the human species?”

“Yes,” the queen states condescendingly.

“Why do you need a successor? And why me ?”

The queen steps closer to me, in fact so close that I almost think she is going to kiss me. I pull my head back instinctively. She is invading my personal space, which causes me to become very uncomfortable. I begin to tense up even more when I feel her gloved hand run lightly down my left arm. I am almost willing to bet a Ferengi's bank account that this woman is attempting to seduce me.

“As I have stated before, you are unique,” she begins as she is looking me up and down. “You are the first individual to be Borg by birth. Your internal implants give you an advantage to create and control a new Collective.”

My internal implants give me an advantage? I study her face for a moment, looking for any indication of what she could mean. I find it unreadable, reminding me of my mother's face sometimes. Why would my inherited Borg implants be more of an advantage for the creation of a new Borg Collective over any other individual she could assimilate? Unless she can't assimilate!

That's it! She can not assimilate. That's why she is alone without any drones. A leader can not survive without their subordinates. That's why the vessel we are on is so badly neglected and in need of repair. That may also be why she is in need of a successor…

“You are dying,” I accidentally say out loud.

The queen steps back from me and links her hands behind her back. Obviously, I have stuck a bad chord with her.

“We have had enough discussion for now,” she states. “You require rest. I have designed a unit specifically adapted for your personal regeneration requirements.”

She motions towards a darkened corner of the room. I hesitantly step forward in the direction of her hand and see…a bed. Or I should say, more of a Borg version of a bed. The bed itself looks more like a cot used by Starfleet cadets on their first deep space training mission. The head of the ‘bed' looks like it is integrated with the large control panel behind it. Conduits run from the top of the panel to beneath the thick canvas-like material, which acts as the mattress.

“Do not be frightened, Erin ,” she softly says as she steps closer to me. “This regeneration unit is designed to provide you with nutrients which your human physiology requires.”

Food. This is the Borg Queen's version of having dinner guests.

“The nutritional tubules will transmit supplements into your existing implants. You will not be harmed,” she assures me.

I step closer to the ‘bed' and take one last glance at the equipment it is attached to. I reluctantly take a seat before swinging my legs up and laying my head back. The unit is hard as a rock. Not that I should be surprised, since comfort is irrelevant here.

I take a deep breath as I reposition myself. I feel like I'm making myself comfortable in my own coffin. I glance over at the queen and see her walking away from my corner and returning to her console. She enters a few commands into the computer before stepping into her alcove in the center of the room. I can hear a whining sound as her regeneration cycle begins. I quickly contemplate what to do next. I could attempt to reactivate the transwarp conduit and take us back to the Alpha Quadrant, but I'm sure whatever attempt I make would alert her and who knows what would happen next. At least I am still alive and not altered in any way.

I feel my eyelids becoming heavy as I try to fight to keep them open. I'm really not sure if I am actually tired or if this ‘unit' I am laying on is causing me to fall into unconsciousness. The image of my parents comes into my mind and immediately I feel a hot tear run down my cheek. I imagine their reactions when they finally reached Headquarters and were told I had been abducted. I imagine them furiously collaborating on a plan to rescue me. Then I imagine the looks on their faces when they saw the Borg vessel I was on go into transwarp on its way out of the Alpha Quadrant.

My parents are my Collective. I went day to day on Earth with them, not caring what the next day would bring, because I knew they would always be there for me. Even though I have been in some trouble over the past few months, I really wasn't too concerned about the future. My parents made provisions to see that I would have had a successful life ahead of me. Even if I hadn't chosen to go down the path they wanted me to, they would have supported me. Hell, I could have dropped out of school, joined a Klingon musical group, and married a Bolian with a bad bowel problem. They might have protested for a minute, but I know they would have accepted it only because it made me happy.

My eyelids become so heavy I can no longer keep them open. My mind begins to wonder into a dream-like state, even though part of me still feels as though I am awake. Maybe this is what Chakotay calls ‘lucid dreaming'.

Suddenly, I feel pressure on my back. I realize it is a tubule connecting with my internal implants. I can feel it push its way through my clothing and attach itself to my skin. It doesn't exactly hurt; it just feels a little uncomfortable. My first instinct is to jump up from the bed, but for some reason I can't move. The only thing I can do is just lie here and hope the tubule is doing nothing more than delivering nutrients to my body.

My mind begins to drift farther away from reality. I am still aware of my surroundings, as I can still hear the sounds of the queen's ship and the humming of her regeneration alcove. The same images from the dreams that have haunted me for the past few months play in my mind. Admiral Janeway and the other Erin Janeway are making their way into this nebula that we are in now. The admiral allows the queen to assimilate her to provide a distraction so Erin can deliver the virus that will destroy the Collective. Soon the queen falls to her death, and the admiral and Erin are left lying on the floor, reaching for each other, as the chamber around them explodes.

Something is different this time, though. I can see a neonatal drone being dispatched out of the chamber in a small vessel and directed away from the nebula. This drone is still in a maturation chamber…alone. The drone is female and has been programmed to emerge from the maturation chamber as the next replacement for the queen. In a distant part of my mind, I recognize that these are her memories, but I am experiencing them as if they were my own.

The neonatal develops into an adult drone in a matter of months, but because of the virus delivered by the other Erin , she is incomplete. While she has most of the standard Borg technology within her body, she lacks the specific nanoprobes needed for assimilation.

Dozens of lives have been lost in her attempt to turn them into drones. She has spent years in her single ship, traveling the galaxy and attempting to re-establish her Collective. Two months ago, her ship came within close proximity of Earth. She picked up three neural transceivers…my mother's, Icheb's, and of course, mine. I was chosen immediately because of my connection to both Voyager's former commanding officer and the drone she severed from the Collective. I speculate that another part had to do with my counterpart's destruction of the Borg. The Borg is definitely not a forgive-and-forget kind of species.

The queen had been studying me for the last two months before she finally transported me onto her ship. She attempted to communicate with and manipulate me. Her actions caused my body chemistry levels to fluctuate so severely, it essentially turned me into a different person. The fights, the insubordinate behavior, and the anger I felt toward other people and myself all came from her. She continually pushed me by forcing me to relive the events of what happened 17 years ago each night in my dreams. She watched me day in and day out. She knew my parents and I took a shuttle to Starfleet headquarters. Her link with me was lost once we entered the Omega section of Starfleet. She spent three days looking for ways to adapt, until she was finally successful. She knew her little secret was out when Starfleet dispatched vessels to her position. She knew that once she was able to pinpoint my location, it was time to bring me to her. And that is exactly what she has done.

Once I was aboard her ship, she sat idle only for show. She played possum, until she saw the Delta Flyer emerge from the fleet of ships. She had picked up on my mother's neural transceiver and knew my parents were on the Flyer. She wanted them to see her ship go into transwarp drive as a way of showing them they had lost and she had won.

I begin climbing my way out of my slumber when I hear a sound come from the chamber above me. I open my eyes to see the queen standing over me. She is entering some commands into the console over my head. Suddenly, I feel a sharp pain go up my spine and into my neck. I try to sit up to get away from the pain, but I can't move.

“What are you doing?” I manage to ask in panicked whisper.

“I am enhancing your biological implants,” she says with no remorse.

She continues to enter in more commands. I am still unable to move from my supine position. My eyes are wide open and I am unable to blink, even as I watch a long, slender, spiral rod come down from above in perfect alignment with my left eye.

“No!” I cry out. I attempted to turn my head away from the device, but it's of no use. I am completely paralyzed.

“I am giving you perfection, Erin ,” she says casually. “Resistance is futile.”

I hear a loud shriek come out of my own mouth as the rod tunnels its way through my cornea and enters my eye socket. I feel hot liquid spray all over my face as I make repeated unsuccessful attempts to move away from the device. The pain is so horrific that all I can think about is dying. Several moments later, the rod retracts and moves back to its original position above me. I realize that I have stopped screaming due to the shock that I am in.

I can feel the queen moving about on my left side, but I am unable to see what she is doing since I now have only my right eye. I can hear and feel the heat of an instrument she is using on my left eye socket. I am unsure what it is, but it seems to alleviate some of the pain. I catch a glimpse of something metallic in her hand and can feel pressure as she inserts it into my socket.

I keep my gaze above me as she continues to give me ‘perfection'. My mind is praying to every god and higher power known to all the Alpha Quadrant species to end my life now. I think of all the billions of individuals who endured such pain during their assimilation into the Borg Collective. Then I think about my mother. She suffered through this exact procedure when she was only six years old.

I feel heat come from another instrument the queen is now using. Suddenly, an alarm sounds from a console on the other side of the chamber. The queen quickly abandons her operation on me and makes her way over to the console.

“Janeway!” I hear her say in a deep, serpentine whisper.

The chamber shakes hard, causing some of the consoles, including the one above me, to let out showers of sparks. I feel the tubule imbedded in my back disengage. I am able to move again, but with great effort. I roll over on my side and fall to floor. I bite my lip to keep from screaming from the pain, and taste the metallic tang of my own blood. I bear down and begin scooting across the grated floor on my stomach. I am so weak that my arms can barely pull me forward.

I emerge from my darkened corner of the chamber and catch a glimpse of the image on the view screen. The Delta Flyer. My parents are attempting to rescue me. I have to do something; I can't just lay here. I quickly look around to see a nearby cylindrical console. I scoot myself over to it and force myself to turn over and sit up. I lean back on the console in exhaustion. Perspiration is pouring down my face. I wipe my hand across my brow to dry it and as I bring my hand down, it traces over where my left eye once was. I feel a cool metallic star-shaped piece in place of where my eyeball used to be. I glare over at the queen still standing at her post, oblivious to my movement.

“Bitch!” I snarl at her.

I reach above my head and begin entering commands into the system. I can only hope I am pushing in the right command to deactivate the shielding around this vessel, and that the queen's inability to link directly to her ship might allow my actions to pass undetected. Once I think I have completed the command, I lower my arm and slump over to my left side. If only I was not so damned weak, I could do more.

I feel like everything around me is fading until I hear the sound of a transport. I slowly lift my head to see my mom standing in the middle of the chamber with a phaser rifle ready to fire. My mother is bounding toward the queen, who is standing by her control console glaring at the two of them. Everything is hazy. There are no words exchanged between my parents and the Borg queen. Time seems to be passing in slow motion as I watch my mother struggle with the queen before injecting her with her tubules from her left hand. The queen falls to her knees on the floor and a spark of adrenaline goes through me as I watch my mother grab the queen's head and snap her neck. The queen's lifeless body slumps to the floor as both of my parents watch her emotionlessly.

“Mother,” I hear myself squeak out.

Both of my parents whip their heads around toward my direction. My mother runs over to me and bends down to scoop me up. She lifts me so effortlessly, as if I were a small child. I wrap my arms around her neck and press my head against her chest. The intense pain I have been experiencing seems to dissipate as I listen to her racing heart. She carries me over to my mom, who still has her rifle pointed at the queen's dead body.

My mom glances over at me and a look of horror comes across her face. She locks eyes with my mother as her jaw begins clenching and unclenching. She takes a deep breath and clears her throat before tapping her comm badge.

“Tom, get us out of here!”

“Aye, Admiral.”

 

************************************

 

I look up at the stars in the darkened, endless night sky as I am sitting on the swing on the front porch of our house. Several months have passed since my parents rescued me from the Borg queen's ship. Some days it seems like the whole experience happened a long time ago, and other days it feels like it was just yesterday.

The whole thing plays like a twentieth-century movie in my head. I can still feel the atmosphere of the queen's ship, along with all the emotions I experienced. Fear, apprehension, pain, hatred, and relief when I saw my parents beam aboard her ship. I never experienced such comfort as when my mother picked me up in her arms and the three of us transported back to the Delta Flyer. I remember seeing the shocked looks on Tom, B'Elanna, and the doctor's faces when we rematerialized in the cockpit. They just stood there staring at me, obviously horrified at my appearance. I quickly burrowed my face into my mother's neck, not wanting anyone to see how hideous I had become.

My mother carried me to the back of the Flyer, with the doctor hot on her heels, as I heard my mom give Tom the order to destroy the queen's ship and initiate the transwarp drive. Apparently, the Delta Flyer had previously been equipped with transwarp technology when Voyager was in the Delta Quadrant. Since their return home, Tom had taken possession of the Flyer and had been ‘tinkering' with its mechanics. After my abduction, my parents worked with Tom and B'Elanna to recreate its transwarp capabilities. Unfortunately, when we returned to the Alpha Quadrant, the Delta Flyer burned itself out and we ended up having to transport to an awaiting deep space vessel. Tom is still in mourning over his beloved vessel and vows that he will keep her memory alive by building a new Flyer.

I spent several weeks at Starfleet medical, while the doctor cared for me. I underwent three different surgeries to repair the damage the queen had done to me. One of the surgeries consisted of giving me an artificial left eye. The doctor perfected the new eye so that every last detail looks like my original eye. At first, I was self-conscious about it, but after my friends, Brian and Talis, asked me which eye I lost because they couldn't tell the real one from the artificial one, I became more accepting of it. Not to mention my visual acuity increased by 17% with the new eye.

I hear clattering coming from inside the house. I turn and glance in the window to see my mother clearing our dinner dishes from the table. The light from the dining room lamp gives her a very striking glow. This whole experience has brought my mother and me closer in an unspoken way. When my mother was assimilated by the Borg, she too lost her left eye. She never liked to talk about it, but she did say one time that it was the worst physical pain she has ever experienced. Before, I could only imagine what it must have felt like to her, but now I know exactly how it felt. My mother cried for days after we returned to Earth. She cried because of the pain I had to endure on the queen's ship. I overheard her tell my mom that she wouldn't wish that kind of pain on her worst enemy, and to have her own daughter experience it was unimaginable. My mom could do nothing but let my mother grieve. I don't think my mom really knew what to say to make her feel better. And there are no words to make the memory of such an experience disappear, but only my mother and I know that.

My mother really is a beautiful person, both inside and out. No one would ever believe it if they were told what my mother did to the Borg Queen. The assimilation part was actually the doctor's idea and Starfleet was well aware of it. My mother and the doctor modified some of her nanoprobes to carry the same virus the other Erin used seventeen years ago. She suffered some minor malfunctions from it afterwards, but luckily the doc created an antidote just in case I had become linked to the ‘hive mind' and also contracted the pathogen.

The part that no one would believe is what my mother did to the queen after she injected her with the infected nanoprobes. My mom didn't bother to mention that in her report. She was afraid that if she did, Starfleet would deem my mother as having unnecessary violent tendencies. My mom didn't even mention it to Tom, B'Elanna, or the doctor when we made our way back home in the Delta Flyer. Instead, when my condition stabilized at Starfleet medical, my parents and I made a pact to keep that part to ourselves. I suspect my mom was afraid the Starfleet defense department would somehow get it out of me when they debriefed me after I was well again. But I never said a word about it during my meetings with them.

The only reason why the whole violence thing became an issue is because Starfleet tracked my record over the course of the two months the queen was communicating with me. Even though my principal never put any of my behaviors in my permanent record, it was still recorded in the school's file. One of the worst days, after the ordeal with the queen, was sitting in a conference room with my parents and eight of Starfleet's highest ranking officers, and one of them walks in and announces what was found in my records from the school.

I remember feeling like I wanted to dig a hole in the floor of the sixth story room. My mother averted her eyes from my mom. My mom, on the other hand, became outraged at the insinuation that I could have been so insubordinate. The admiral holding the PADD with the data didn't say a word; he just walked over and handed it to her. She began reading it as he explained Starfleet just wanted to know exactly when the queen began communicating with me. He saw the look on my mom's face as she continued reading the report they obtained from the school, and he attempted to theorize that if my mother and the principal would not have ignored my behavior, the events leading up to my abduction might never have occurred. This, of course, outraged my mom even more, but she held back her anger until the meeting was over and the three of us were back home.

Needless to say, my mom was extremely upset with my mother and me for hiding such information from her. My mother tried to forestall her argument by saying she didn't want my mom to become burdened with having to worry about me and didn't want her to think less of me. My mom countered with something the other Erin had told her about my mother covering up for me, and the fact that she felt betrayed because we had both essentially lied to her for so long. For nearly a month after that, it was like walking on egg shells at our house. My parents barely talked to each other, unless necessary. I'm not really even sure if they were sleeping in the same bed together.

Fortunately one weekend, my Aunt Phoebe took me to her house to stay with her overnight. I think she just wanted to get me out of the tension between my parents. I wasn't supposed to return until late Sunday evening, but my aunt got a last-minute call to display some of her work at an art fair going on in France . She offered to take me with her, but I really wasn't in the mood to go to France , so I asked her to drop me off at home before she went. I didn't bother contacting my parents, because I didn't think it would be a big deal. After my aunt dropped me off in her hovercraft, I went in the house and could hear my parents in their bedroom. To be honest, I didn't know at first if they were killing each other or having sex. I quickly realized they were doing the latter and quietly retreated out to the barn to let them do their thing. I sat in that barn for over three hours. I might have sat out there longer if I hadn't gotten so hungry, and the cat and dog food tasted too horrible to make a meal of.

I ended up marching into the house and announced my presence. That quickly quieted their little shenanigans. To this day, I still don't know what sparked their make up session. Maybe they just needed to have time alone together to either talk or scream things out. No matter what method they chose, things have been pretty much back to normal here at the Janeway house. The only difference is that now, every little thing I do is reported back and forth between the two of them.

I continue gazing up at the sky when I hear the screen door to the porch open and close. I look over and see my mom walking over to the swing I am sitting on.

“Mind if I join you?” she asks.

I scoot over as she takes a seat next to me. She looks up at the night sky and leans back with a sigh.

“I spoke to Harry Kim today,” she remarks as she continues to gaze at the stars.

“Oh?” I answer, attempting to sound interested. What else is new? She talks to at least one former member of Voyager every day.

“He is officially being promoted to Captain next week,” she tells me.

Yeah for Harry! It only took him a quarter of a century to go from Ensign to Captain. He probably would have been a Captain years ago if my mom would have promoted him on Voyager.

“He is going to take over the command position on the USS Challenger, since Captain Daniels is retiring,” she continues. “Starfleet also informed him that they are designing a new technically-advanced deep space vessel. It will be the USS Rhode Island, and they have already given Harry the option to command it when it's complete.”

“How long will that be?”

“In about four years,” my mom tells me as she pats my knee and looks over at me. “Admiral Jenson told Harry to start thinking about the candidates he wants for his crew, and his first one…is you.”

“Me?” I say with surprise.

My mom smiles and nods her head.

“The Rhode Island will be completed by the time you graduate from the academy. That is…if you want to go to the academy this fall.”

After my experience with the Queen, I was reluctant to join Starfleet. It made me never want to leave Earth's surface again, but then I began thinking about what I saw on the Borg vessel's view screen. There is so much out there to explore, and when some vessel discovers something new, I want to be a part of it. Harry Kim is handing me the opportunity to do this. Most academy graduates spend months trying to get onto the newest and most technically-advanced vessels, and here I am being offered a position on one before it is even built and before I have entered the academy.

“I want to go to the academy, Mom,” I tell her.

She wraps her arms around me and pulls me into a hug. I know I have just made her day. I close my eyes briefly and give my mom a light squeeze - or at least I thought it was light, until I hear an ‘Oph' come out of her from the air I just pushed out of her lungs. I release my embrace and open my eyes to see my mother standing in the doorway. She walks out to the porch with two mugs of steaming hot liquid. I know one is coffee for my mom and the other is tea for my mother. My mom and I both look up at her as she hands the coffee to my mom.

“ Erin , it is becoming late,” my mother tells me. “You should finish your studies and go to bed.”

“Okay, Mother,” I reply as I stand from the swing.

“Goodnight, Sweetie,” my mom says as I pass by her.

“Night, Mom.”

I begin to walk around my mother and she stops me to place a kiss on my forehead and brush my hair back with her hand.

“Have a good night, Erin .”

“You too, Mother.”

I make my way to the front door and stop to look at my parents. My mother sits down on the swing next to my mom and they immediately huddle close together. I start to turn to go into the house, but hesitate as I contemplate how to ask them about an invitation I received earlier in the week. I decide to bite the bullet and do it, even though I know what the answer is going to be.

“Mom, Mother,” I begin as they both look over at me. I put my head down and begin flicking my thumb nail. “I spoke to Miral Paris the other day, and she said the academy is having another dance next week.”

I look up at them to see that both of them have stone expressions on their faces. Oh, I shouldn't have brought this up, but I've already started, so I may as well continue.

“She has invited me to go with her,” I say in a low voice.

My parents give each other a look. I can't tell if they are mouthing something, or rolling their eyes at each other. My mother looks up at the night sky as my mom turns her face toward me.

“You may go,” my mom states. She holds up her hand when she sees the excited expression on my face. “Under one condition,” she continues as I eagerly wait. “ Erin , you have to clean your room first.”

I nod in agreement, even though I'm not sure how I'll get my room cleaned in one week.

I walk into the house and over to the desk to pick up my homework PADD, which I had begun working on earlier. Lying next to it is another PADD. I activate it and see that it's the official Starfleet Academy application and admission test. I smile to myself as I realize it was obviously my mom who strategically placed it here.

I walk over to the window and see my parents snuggled together swinging on the front porch. I take one more look at the billions of stars in the sky. Another Janeway will climb the ranks of Starfleet, and one day I will have the privilege of being ‘Captain Janeway', exploring unknown parts of the galaxy and meeting new species, both friendly and hostile. I can't wait until that day comes.



 
 
THE END

 
 
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