X&G: The Lost Years
Time and Space
Disclaimer: The characters in this story are not mine. They belong to the PTB who own "Xena: Warrior Princess" and "Star Trek Voyage". I have merely borrowed them to play with, and returned them undamaged to their rightful copyrighters. This story is not for sale or profit of any sort. It does contain woman to woman love themes and is explicit. If you dislike the subject matter, don’t read it. If you live where it is illegal, move then read it.
Author’s Note: X&G: The Lost Years is intended to be a series of stories that fill in the 25 year time period that Xena and Gabrielle spent on ice. If encouraged by readers I will submit additional stories. Hell, even if not encouraged, I intend to submit additional stories. If you have suggestions along those lines, send them to me at Maryeic@aol.com .
The tall, imposing blonde pulled the level to maximum power and felt the hum of the machinery pulse through her taut body. It took all of her skill to grab the images from the unstable stream and coax them into materializing on the platform ten feet in front of her. Finally, the two shapes solidified and her hand relaxed on the controls. Then her lips parted, ever so slightly, in uncharacteristic surprise. She tapped the communicator above her breast.
"Captain, I have successfully transported the objects."
"Understood." Came the quick reply. "Report."
"It is difficult to say." She scanned the two containers with her ocular implant. "Two female humanoid forms. Computer shows they are alive. But they are frozen."
"I’m on my way."
Janeway appeared a moment later, striding into the transport room and casting a quick smile at the young woman. She went immediately to examine the new arrivals. The ice blocks that encased the pair were translucent and even through the ornate carving of the crypts she could see the figures within quite clearly. "I see what you mean, Seven. It does appear to be two frozen women, but you say there are life signs?"
Seven nodded. "Faint but definitely there. Whoever they are, they are alive." She stepped forward and joined the captain. "Look at the odd accouterments they are adorned in. The Borg never assimilated this species. Do you know of them?"
Janeway smiled. "They are human, Seven. Two young women from an early earth culture. Greek, if I know my history. And their clothing appears to be made of leather."
"Oh yes. Animal skins."
Janeway patted Seven’s shoulder. "Sort of. A bit more refined than that. Look at the detail on the taller one. Unless I miss my guess, she is a warrior."
Seven picked up the frozen chakram that adorned one of the crypts. "A religious symbol?"
"Probably not. I’d say it’s more likely a weapon of some sort. Like the staff that the smaller woman is holding."
Seven nodded. Weapons were plain enough to understand but the rest was a mystery. Janeway turned to face her companion. "Send them to sick bay. Tell the doctor to revive them if possible. In the meantime, I need you to complete your analysis of our replicators. The crew continues to report malfunctions." She tossed her hands in the air. "And I still can’t get a decent cup of coffee."
Once the bodies had been removed to sickbay, Seven summoned a clean up crew and then as commanded set off to debug the replicators. It did irritate her that the crew needed to ingest such a wide array of food items. The replicators had no difficulty producing the nutrient wafers that she required and taste, after all, was irrelevant. However, she was willing to ensure that the Captain could get her coffee. Life would not be very pleasant, she had been informed repeatedly by the rest of the crew, until Janeway got a decent cup of coffee.
Janeway sat in her ready room pouring over a book she had finally located in her modest library. She found it almost physically painful to review the images of Earth…home. She ran her fingers over the pictures of verdant hills and sunlit beaches as if to soothe the familiar ache in her heart.She had been to Greece twice as a cadet. What she had once found quaint and charming now seemed remote and unreachable.
She took a sip of coffee and nearly retched. The tepid liquid bore little resemblance to coffee and she spit it back into the cup. " Seven, please fix the replicators. I will be eternally grateful." She muttered to herself and then smiled as she conjured images of how she might express such profound gratitude if only she might find the courage. A rap on the door terminated her musing. "Enter."
Seven marched directly to the table, the Captain indicated a chair, and while Seven preferred to stand, she sat down so as to be at a more even eye level with the Captain. "The doctor says our visitors have been revived and are in good health other than somewhat disoriented."
"I know, I spoke with him. He confirmed my suspicions that the two women were associated with Greece. Ancient Greece, apparently, although the timeline is difficult to pin point."
Seven looked at the cup in Janeway’s hand. "May I inquire if the coffee now meets with your approval?"
Janeway set the cup aside. "Not just yet, I’m afraid. Keep working on it. I would be very grateful." She blushed in spite of herself and avoided the inquiring gaze of her companion. Clearing her throat, she continued. "Tell me how you came upon our guests, Seven."
"I was in biometrics when I detected a signal at the edge of our sensor range. It was vague and unorganized, more like a thought wave than a teleportation beam…"
"Thought wave?" Janeway repeated curious. "How do you mean?"
"It was an oddly structured signal. In referencing my databases, the closest signature was that of a thought wave. Intrigued, I pursued the signal. Normal calibration couldn’t capture it so I improvised."
Janeway chuckled. "I’ll bet you did. So this means that you can read our thoughts now."
"No, Captain. I cannot read thoughts unless you are capable of sending them into space and apparently time with great emphasis. Whoever originated that signal was highly emotional and extraordinarily powerful."
"That would be Ares, God of War." Announced an unexpected voice. "Powerful, emotional and don’t forget deranged."
Seven and Janeway spun around to find the source of the new voice. Leaning in the doorway of the ready room was a tall, dark-haired woman. The very same they had transported little more than three hours earlier. Janeway and Seven rose to their feet but did not leave the table.
"I am Captain Katharine Janeway. This is Seven of Nine. She’s the one who, ah, rescued you. And you are?"
The warrior woman straightened to full height and in a softer tone introduced herself. "My name is Xena. My friend, Gabrielle, and I are in your debt, it would seem." She crossed the distance to the table as she spoke. "It isn’t often that we are the ones rescued. The doctor explained some of what has happened. You found us floating in space and brought us onto your ship, is that correct?"
"More or less." Janeway extended her hand. "We were just discussing that. It would seem we discovered you not merely in space but time as well. At any rate, welcome. Perhaps you can help us determine precisely what has transpired to bring you here."
Xena stepped forward and peered into Seven’s face. "What are you?"
Seven’s hand shot up to her ocular implant and she bristled. "I am… I was…Borg."
Xena cocked her head. "I thought you were Seven of Nine."
"That is my Borg designation. My… human designation is Annika Hansen. But I am Borg and as such I am called Seven of Nine."
Janeway stepped in. "It’s a long story."
"Apparently." Xena shrugged. She took the seat that Janeway indicated for her and drew a long breath. The first objective, she confirmed to herself, was to determine the parameters of her situation. "So you have nine crew on this space sailing vessel?"
"Currently it’s more like 148." Responded the amused captain.
Xena studied the two women for a moment. The Captain was clearly the dominant one of the pair and attired in male clothing. While the one known as Seven was dressed in such a way to accentuate her female form. "Ah, I get it, she is your seventh…"
"No, no." Janeway stopped her. "She isn’t my seventh anything. As a Borg she was the seventh member of a nine person unit."
Xena nodded noting that the Captain was not entirely truthful. "Uh… ah, I see. Too bad she was so badly injured." She motioned to Seven’s hand and eye. "She’s really quite pretty."
Janeway smiled. "On that we can agree. However, those are not wounds, Xena. They are enhancements of a sort."
Seven had had enough of being discussed as if she wasn’t present. "What do you call those items?" she asked coldly indicating the sword and chakram.
"These?" Xena retrieved the sword and chakram and held them out in front of her. "These are my enhancements."
Janeway stifled a laugh, just as Gabrielle entered the room. In contrast to Xena’s stoic demeanor, the smaller woman seemed insecure and tentative.
"Please, come in…Gabrielle, isn’t it?" Janeway welcomed her. "We were just starting to get acquainted." She arranged the four of them around the conference table and continued the process of discovering who the newcomers were. Xena sat comfortably draped across a chair, but Janeway noticed that Gabrielle’s attention was riveted on the passing stars at the window.
"We are not in Greece." Gabrielle murmured. "We are definitely not in Greece."
"Yes, we are in space." Janeway confirmed. "Only don’t be alarmed, we have done this for hundreds of years."
"We are not even in the quadrant of space that Earth occupies." Seven declared.
Gabrielle looked despondently at Xena. "Ares!" Xena muttered by way of explanation. "Who else."
"By the gods!" Gabrielle sighed.
"You literally mean the Greek gods, don’t you?" Janeway cut in. "Forgive me, but you both speak of them as if they were, well, actual beings. We know them to be myths."
Xena looked at Gabrielle and they both laughed. "Then you don’t know them."
"That would be explained by the fact that your gods would have been invented about three thousand years ago and were specific to an Earth culture that while influential in human development was primitive in nature." Seven’s words were not intended to be confrontational, but nonetheless, they were not well received. Xena glared menacingly and Janeway sighed.
"Your gods then are different?" Gabrielle inquired.
"We do not have gods." Seven responded. "We rely on science."
"What type of god is science?"
Janeway really wanted to move on. "Science is the accumulation of facts, knowledge. It is our way of experiencing and controlling our environment. Science is the way we created this ship and all of its capabilities. In time you will understand what we mean."
Xena leaned into Seven’s face. "How long did science take to create this ship?"
Seven pulled slightly back. "Twelve weeks from schematic to operational status."
A superior smile spread across Xena’s face. "Ares could create this ship with a snap of his fingers."
"Hypothetically!" Seven sneered. "There is no record of a god ever having conjured up a space ship."
Gabrielle placed her hand discretely on Xena’s arm. "Perhaps we can debate all of that some other time. For my part I would simply like to…"
The room lurched suddenly. "Janeway to the bridge!"
Gabrielle looked around for the source of the disembodied voice. "Science?" she asked.
"Tuvoc." The Captain explained. "Excuse me." She and Seven rose and swiftly exited the room.
As the room pitched again, Gabrielle squeezed Xena’s arm. Xena enfolded her with the other arm and kissed her forehead softly. "Whatever has happened to us, Gabrielle, I promise we will be alright." She comforted her beloved companion, though, not at all convinced she could keep such a promise. Gabrielle nodded, aware of the small deception, and gave Xena a wan smile.
A vessel appeared beyond the ready room window and the two women watched as beams of light jutted from the vessel toward their own which rocked in protested. Sirens began wailing and a red light blinked ominously. Together, they walked to the window and watched. More shafts of light jutted from their own vessel and in a brilliant flash, the distant vessel disappeared from view.
"Perhaps I have underestimated this science." Xena mused. There was something comforting about what she had seen. Battle. Even here in this strangest of places. The familiarity of battle gave her a sense of comfort.
Instantly the red light and sirens ceased. "With a snap of his fingers," Gabrielle whispered, also sensing the familiarity. And suddenly she too did not feel all that far from home.
The door opened and B’lanna Torres entered. "The Captain asked me to escort you to your quarters."
Gabrielle stared at the woman’s forehead. "Enhancements." Said Xena by way of explanation. Then turning to B’lanna, "I am Xena and this is Gabrielle."
"Yes, I know." Said their appointed guide. "I’m B’lanna."
Expecting a number as a designation, Xena frowned. "I’m not familiar with that number. Is it higher or lower than Seven?"
B’lanna blanched. "It is my name. I have no number." She was not going to explain her position relative to the Borg.
"So then you are not part of the Captain’s nine concubines." Xena nodded in understanding. "Perhaps she finds your enhancements less attractive."
B’lanna reddened in anger. "I am certainly not a concubine. I am in charge of engineering."
"You have your own concubines." Gabrielle acknowledged. "Sorry, we haven’t worked this place out just yet. No offense."
B’lanna gave them both a menacing glare. "Just follow me."
The suite was spacious and sterile. Xena bounced on the sofa, declaring it surprisingly comfortable while Gabrielle strolled from room to room touching every object as if wandering through a bazaar. "There is a bed in the other room," she mentioned not at all casually. "And did you see the water room?"
Xena followed her lead. They took a shower together using the soap as an excuse to enjoy the curves of each other’s bodies. Then moved still wet to the bed where they found love making as pleasurable in this reality as it had been in ancient Greece. Drifting off to sleep, Xena was content to exist in any world that had both battle and sex.
Gabrielle curled beside her warrior and fell toward sleep feeling safe and yet disquieted by a longing for home. "Perhaps the gods are gone," she thought, reflecting on the Captain’s words. "But then so are my family and all the people we know and love." She tried to recall her last distinct memory, but all was blurry. She had no recall of any recent event. As for a baby named Eve, the twilight of the gods, the events that had placed her and her warrior princess in icy crypts…these were things of which neither had any hint of memory. They were events removed somehow even from their dreams.
"I hear you have nine concubines." B’lanna said sarcastically, joining the assembled staff at the Captains hastily called meeting in the conference room.
Janeway blushed. "Nine what?"
"And that my enhancements are too unattractive for you to include me in that group." B’lanna dropped into a seat at one side of the conference table.
Chakotay and Tuvoc shifted uncomfortably in their chairs. Janeway coughed, embarrassed in spite of the inaccuracy of the accusation.
"I take it that our visitors haven’t quite figured us out yet." Janeway managed to explain studiously avoiding Seven’s quizzical stare. I’ll make sure that they learn what ‘Borg’ actually means at the first opportunity."
The room was suddenly filled with nervous shuffling. Janeway, detecting a snicker, eagerly changed subjects. "The vessel that attacked us gave no warning, is that correct?"
"Yes, Captain." Tuvoc replied. "It had been traveling on a parallel trajectory and had not responded to our overtures on any frequency. The vessel was considered non-hostile until it slowly veered near enough to open fire."
"What initiated the change in trajectory?" Janeway asked.
"It appears to have coincided with the moment that Seven transported our guests aboard. However, the vessel was in an entirely different area of space at the time. Although we were unable to determine the identity of the vessel, there is no other apparent connection between the vessel and the two women." He paused briefly. "Have you been able to determine who or, perhaps I should say, what they are?"
"Assuming you’ve discounted the ancient Greek warrior hypothesis," Tom Paris snickered. "The crew is buzzing with Xania and Gerbil rumors."
"It’s Xena and Gabrielle." Tuvoc corrected him.
Janeway turned to Seven. "What have you and the doctor concluded from your analysis?"
"They appear to be human females displaced from an ancient Earth culture. I observed them as they entered their quarters, they showered, copulated and then went to sleep."
Chakotay smiled. "Nothing unusual there," he offered.
Janeway shot him a stern glance. "Have you analyzed their clothing and weapons?"
"The scanner recorded them as dating to over 3000 years ago, carbon based." Seven continued. "They originated on Earth and are consistent with Greek technology. Only the object called a Chakram is unique and it only by its design."
Chakotay couldn’t resist. "So we have two women warriors from the Greek isle of Lesbos."
Janeway shook her head. "And a mysterious vessel that attacked us soon after we took them aboard."
Chakotay again. "Perhaps it was piloted by homophobes."
Janeway’s glare told him instantly that enough was enough. "Well, assuming we take them to actually be displaced Greeks, the question is: what do we do with them?"
"Maybe they can cook?" B’lanna offered. "I can’t see them as much use in engineering. And the replicators are still malfunctioning."
Janeway looked wistfully at her empty coffee cup. "Perhaps."
"We could determine their capabilities and then decide what to do with them." Tuvoc suggested. "It is not likely we will find an earth colony in this quadrant where we could deposit them."
"Or," Janeway decided. "We could just ask them what they would prefer to do. I get the impression that these are smart, capable women who won’t want to lounge around the kitchen all day. Though it would be nice if one of them could make a decent cup of coffee."
B’lanna looked at the momentary distress that crossed Seven’s face and smiled. So much for Borg superiority, she thought with no little satisfaction.
Xena settled into the sofa and sighed. She would have liked a sharpening stone at that moment to distract her from the boredom of the last few days. The crew had taken them throughout the ship, explaining in painful detail every aspect of the vessel. They had been pleasant, but disdainful nonetheless. Xena felt as if she were perceived as a child and a not very bright one at that. She had begun to fantasize about drawing her sword and demonstrating some of her many skills, but she would settle for a sharpening stone and a place to make a decent campfire.
Gabrielle on the other hand seemed consoled by the whole experience. Of particular interest to her was the fact that they could understand and communicate with all the various people or in some cases beings on the vessel. Seven had explained that something called an "universal translator" instantly interpreted whatever language was spoken. That’s how they could understand the crew of Voyager
It did not, however and unfortunately, enable them to read any language. The ship controls all had strange markings that were anything but Greek to Gabrielle. This was some sort of safety restriction, Seven had explained. No one could board the ship and operate it. They could merely communicate.
On their own, Xena and Gabrielle had learned the history that had taken place since their time in Greece. Gabrielle had been truly depressed to learn the continued war and cruelty that was the story of humans. And worse, that such was the lot of nearly all other beings in the vast universe. The warrior princess, however, had not been surprised.
"Well, have you decided what you’d like to be when you grow up?" Xena queried in a bored voice. "I believe I’ll stay a warrior myself. There is still plenty of aggression in the universe. Perhaps they can send me aboard some intruding vessel and I can hack away."
Gabrielle offered a look of sympathy. "I will write for a while, I think. There is a lot I need to sort out and writing is my best way of doing that. Tuvoc said that he could make the Holodeck look like home for us if we would like that. Something about the Captain, Tuvoc, Seven, and Chakotay donating their Holodeck time to us. I told him we would try it tonight. It would be nice to sleep under familiar stars again, don’t you think?"
Xena nodded slowly. "Yes, even if they aren’t real. It would be nice to feel at home again."
The room was suddenly filled with red light and blaring sirens.
"Yes," cried Xena, adrenaline coursing through her limbs. "No," thought Gabrielle sensing her planned evening evaporating.
Xena moved quickly to the corridor beyond their quarters and watched several crewmen rush by. Then in a manner similar to the gods, two beings appeared in the hall. They were huge and armored and preceded by a nasty smell. One of them turned toward Xena with some sort of metal weapon in his misshapen hand. Xena chuckled and jumped, catapulting herself behind the two intruders
"Shall we?" she jeered as they turned to charge. Her sword slit the leader from head to tail and he fell into a pile. She spun and pushed the sword behind her impaling the remaining intruder. She felt him shudder and savored the familiar orgasmic rush as she pulled back her sword.
The lights returned to normal and the sirens ceased. B’lanna arrived an instant later. Stowing her weapon, she looked at the two corpses and then at Xena.
"Nice job!" she said. "How did you manage it so easily?"
"She has many skills," Gabrielle informed B’lanna, stepping from the doorway where she observed the entire event.
For the first time, Xena noted respect in B’lanna gaze. "I would appreciate learning more about your fighting techniques sometime," B’lanna told her. "I, too, have a warrior side. It has been quite a while since I’ve been able to use hand to hand skills."
Xena smiled at the offer. She had already concluded that the females on this ship were warriors. B’lanna, the Captain even the or perhaps especially the Borg. It felt good to have one of them acknowledge Xena as an equal in this regard at least.
"Who were they?" Gabrielle asked.
B’lanna rose from inspecting the bodies. "They were raiders. We’ve encountered them before in this quadrant. This is the first time they have been able to board our ship. They steal technology from their victims. Apparently they have come upon a transporter since we last had to deal with them. This is not good news."
"Did you destroy their vessel?" Xena asked.
B’lanna shook her head. "No. They boarded but didn’t fire at us. There were two other intruders in engineering. Once we took them out, with your obvious help, their ship fled." She looked up at the warrior woman. "It is not our directive to fire unless fired upon."
Xena could tell that B’lanna didn’t agree with this concept, but a loyal warrior, B’lanna abided by it anyway. "Then they will be back." Xena asserted.
B’lanna nodded. They were on the same frequency on that, she thought. Xena was indeed a warrior.
Seven entered Janeway’s quarters and carried the cup to the table beside the seated captain. Setting it down gingerly, she straightened and said, "Try this. I believe it may be the coffee you are desiring." If so, she would program the replicators with the information Gabrielle had given her, Seven thought hopefully.
Janeway picked up the cup, breathed in the aroma approvingly, and took a tentative sip. Her face brightened and she felt a sensation of relaxation spread throughout her weary body. "Not bad, Seven. Good, in fact. Now that is indeed coffee." She smiled as she lifted the cup to indulge in another drink.
Seven felt satisfaction warm it’s way through her. It pleased her to bring happiness to the captain, though she didn’t really comprehend exactly why. Janeway’s smile filled her with a sense of happiness.
"Thank you, Annika." The captain said in a tender voice. Her eyes were illuminated with some emotion that Seven found unfamiliar and compelling.
"You used my human designation."
Janeway patted the cushion next to her on the sofa and waited for her beautiful companion to sit down. "I think of you as Annika more than as Seven." She explained. "You ceased to be Borg in my eyes many months ago. It is my hope that you will see yourself as more human than Borg one day too."
Seven remained quiet for while. "It is simpler to be Borg. Technology is complex, but straightforward. "Human" is not very technical or straightforward. When I attempt to behave "human" I get…confused."
Janeway slid closer to Seven and took the young woman’s hands into each of her own. "These are so representative of you." She said. "This hand with the implants is cold, efficient and protected. And this hand is warm, supple and vulnerable, completely human. Yet both are you."
Seven looked into Janeway’s eyes. "It is uncomfortable to be human."
"But it has its rewards, Annika." Janeway told her. "It is worth trying."
"I do try." Was the halting response.
"Yes." Janeway smooth a rare stray hair away from Seven’s forehead. "I know you do. It pleases me that you do."
"I want to please you." Seven looked away momentarily. "Doing so pleases me."
Janeway could feel her heart racing. Merely the touch of Seven’s hands was intoxicating. She wished fervently for words to tell the woman how much she loved her. Just then, Seven’s eyes turned toward her and moved slowly across Janeway’s face. It was not the Borg who was studying her, Janeway realized; it was the human.
Annika’s hands gripped hers gently. Her face flushed and a faint smile appeared. "Katharine," she asked. "Would it please you to copulate with me?"
Katharine felt herself nodding.
"In the manner that I observed Xena and Gabrielle?"
Again Katharine nodded. "It would please me greatly." She said softly. "Only it is not copulating when two people genuinely care about each other, Annika. It is called making love."
Annika lowered her eyes. "I have no experience in such things." She apologized.
Katharine’s lips pressed gently against Annika’s cheek and then she whispered. "None is required."
Xena poked the fire and added another log. It had felt wonderful to stand in a stream and catch fish again. She knew that Gabrielle had similarly enjoyed cooking the fish and together they had eaten and laughed and been home again. The world within a world that Tuvoc had created for them was magical. The smells, the feel of the air, all familiar, all so very nearly real. More real at that moment than the ship within which it was encased. Gabrielle opened a second bedroll and smoothed it upon the ground. "Do you suppose we could just stay in here…out here…whatever."
Xena chuckled. "Yes, I suppose we could. Tuvoc could conjure up evil warlords for me to dispatch and you could break your ankle from time to time so things would seem normal." She ducked the playful slap before it landed. "But…"
"But." Echoed Gabrielle. "We would know it wasn’t real."
"Yep." Xena settled onto a flat rock and hefting the sharpening stone happily she began to stroke her sword. "We would know."
"Do you think Ares sent us here?" Gabrielle asked after a long period of silence. "Is it possible?"
Xena set down the sword and moved to the bedroll to sit beside Gabrielle. "I have pondered that a lot. Seven said that she found us in a signal that looked like a thought wave. I believe that means Ares’ mind released a thought about us. Maybe he did think us here. Maybe he has that much power."
"She also said that it was emotional." Gabrielle added. "But we were enclosed in icy crypts when they found us."
Xena nodded. "That explains the emotion, I think. Ares was grieving. Perhaps we had died."
"If so, most likely he killed us." Gabrielle quipped. "It wasn’t exactly the first time either of us had died."
"Maybe he was preserving us somehow, Gabrielle." Xena folded her arms across her chest. "Maybe the emotion was regret." She paused, wondering if regret wouldn’t seem more unlikely an act for Ares than transporting them across time and space. "At any rate, does it matter now?"
"Not really," was Gabrielle somber answer. "Not unless one dreams of going home again." She was losing the battle between homesickness and exhilaration at a new adventure. She could sense herself edging toward the unfamiliar territory of despair.
"We are here for a reason, Gabrielle." Xena enfolded her bard in strong arms. "Everything happens for a reason." There was no equivocation in Xena’s voice, even as she felt Gabrielle’s tears stream down her shoulder.
"The same thought had occurred to me." Janeway turned from the monitor she had been engrossed in and smiled at B’lanna. "I believe Seven is already pursuing the theory, although she hasn’t mentioned it officially."
"Any chance our guests could assist with it?" The engineering chief inquired.
The captain’s smile broadened. "Now that surprises me. I didn’t think you viewed Xena or Gabrielle with…shall we say respect."
"Xena is a skilled warrior, Captain. Whether she or the little blonde have other abilities, remains to be seen. However, they might know something about how they got here. Something we could use to get back."
Janeway rose from her desk and stood beside the window watching the streaking stars pass. It was an obvious hope: the mechanism that had transported the two Greeks to them might be used to transport all of Voyager home. If they could identify that mechanism. "Or they may know nothing at all." She said wistfully after a time.
"Remember they are from over 3000 years ago. We have no idea how much of that time was spent in transit." Unfolding her arms, she turned back to B’lanna. "After all, we have only 72 more years before we return to Earth using the current method."
"It was meant as a joke." Janeway chuckled. "Lighten up, B’lanna." She was in a good mood this morning. Even the craving to be home was diminished enough for her to be light hearted about their situation. She had Annika to thank for that. And much, much more. "See if you can assist Anni…er, Seven with her investigation."
B’lanna noted the splash of color that illuminated the Captain’s face momentarily. You should blush, she thought. I am no assistant to a Borg. "I would prefer to work on my own theories, Captain. May I enlist the help of Xena instead?"
"There is no point in two separate investigations. Work with Seven, but by all means ask Xena to assist in whatever way she can. Gabrielle too if she’s agreeable to it."
B’lanna nodded and took her leave. "Great!" she muttered to herself as she made her way to biometrics. "I get to work with the Blonde Borg and the Blonde Bard. There’s got to be a blonde joke in there somewhere."
She paused along the corridor in front of the lab to commlink the Greeks’ quarters.
"Ah, yes? Hello?" came the confused reply. The blonde. B’lanna thought rolling her eyes. She instructed them to meet her in the biometrics lab and as insurance gave them directions on how to get there. Then bracing herself, she went in to ‘assist’ the Borg.
"Good morning, B’lanna." A beaming Seven greeted her with stunning cheerfulness. "Are you fit?"
"I’m not sure," B'lanna replied displeased by Seven’s unusual greeting.
"Are you in need of the doctor?" Seven seemed truly concerned.
"No, no. I’m fit, er, fine. Thank you." With effort, B’lanna quashed the mounting irritation at all this cheerfulness. First the captain, now the Borg. Yuck. "The Captain asked me to work with you on determining the precise transport mechanism used by our Greek guests."
Seven smiled. "How is the Captain?"
"Are you kidding!" The Borg blushed, B’lanna was certain of it.
"I was merely attempting what you call small talk." Seven donned her Borg persona for the first time since the previous evening when she had been most wonderfully human.
"Well, don’t." B’lanna snapped. "I’ve had all the cheeriness I can stand this morning. Let’s get down to work."
The door opened just then and Xena and Gabrielle entered playfully kicking each other’s butt and laughing.
"Oh, god!" B’lanna ran both hands through the back of her hair.
"Which god?" Gabrielle needled her. "I thought you all didn’t believe in gods."
"I believe…I believe I have a headache." The engineering chief responded settling in a chair at a nearby table. She closed her eyes and sighed audibly. Suddenly her head was jerked forward and a pinch at her neck made her go rigid.
"Better?" Asked Xena, bending around from behind her.
To B’lanna’s amazement the headache was gone. "Yes, actually. How did you...?"
Xena chuckled. "I have many skills."
Despite intermittent bursts of jocularity, the foursome made progress over the next hours. Seven’s preliminary analysis of the t-wave as they took to calling it showed that it traveled at a speed well beyond the warp scale. It was nearly instantaneous in ability to move about the cosmos. Emitted from Earth, it had stopped at exactly the edge of Voyager’s scanning range.
"What do you make of it?" B’lanna asked almost rhetorically.
"We were sent here." Gabrielle responded. "As we told you before. We already figured that out. What we don’t know is why."
Seven ventured a reason. "It is possible you were being banished or punished, or even kidnapped by some extraordinarily advanced species."
"We prefer to think we were being saved." Xena told them.
It was Gabrielle, the bard, who told the two scientific women of a world they had never guessed at. The year in India and the look at their future reincarnations they had been given. She spoke of villains like Alti and Calisto who could bend time and ignore what was to be known as the laws of physics. She explained ambrosia and amazons, Elysian fields and Hades. Then once the skepticism on their faces had turned to a rather begrudging interest, Gabrielle told them about the gods: Aphrodite, Artemis, Hera, Hades, Zeus and especially Ares. Then for a long time, the room was silent.
"I cannot accept any of that as reality. B’lanna said at last. "There is not one shred of evidence that such things exist or ever existed."
"Except for the evidence that Xena and Gabrielle are here and the t-wave that brought them was measured and recorded." Seven cited without emotion. "Resisting to accept that as reality is futile."
"But gods? Come on." B’lanna ridiculed. "They were thought here by some ancient, imaginary Greek god."
"Ares is still my best guess." Said Xena, twiddling her chakram.
B’lanna looked at the warrior derisively. "He was the god of war who kept causing you trouble, right? So he finally just thought you out of his hair." Turning to Gabrielle she asked. "That is, did he have hair?"
Gabrielle raised her eyebrows. "Yes, but no enhancements." Her eyes stared at B’lanna’s forehead.
Xena laughed out loud much to B’lanna’s discomfort. "You asked for my opinion and that’s it. Ares sent us here. He’s probably sitting around congratulation himself even now. This is likely one of his tests. It’s been four days. I’m surprised he hasn’t shown up to see how we are doing already."
B'lanna scoffed. "Maybe he forgot where he put you. Or maybe as the last three thousand years of history indicate, he is a myth."
"Or maybe," Gabrielle quiet voice suggested. "It wasn’t Ares, but someone else."
"Enough! Enough cheerfulness, enough fantasy, enough bullshit." She stormed over to the operations console and began pressing keys. "Seven, what have you got about the vessel that attacked us right after we transported these two?" Joined by the Borg, B’lanna sought to reaffirm her grip on what she considered sanity by focusing on scientific data.
Xena steered Gabrielle out of the lab and headed them to the holodeck.
She asked for evening even though it was barely midday, started a campfire, caught two fish and arranged the bedrolls while Gabrielle cooked. The two of them moved through the familiar rituals of their interrupted lives seeking their own version of sanity.
"So if not Ares, then who?" Xena asked at length. She had mused about which god Gabrielle suspected, but had given up and decided to just ask.
Gabrielle handed Xena a plate and settled down beside her with one of her own. "I just don’t think this was an act of war or hate." She explained as they ate. "I think you got it right when you said we were saved. Something back there, where we were, is happening. Something bad and I’m sure Ares was involved. But this has the feeling of something good, of well, love."
Xena put down her plate and pulled Gabrielle close beside her. She wrapped her arms around her and kissed her tenderly on the forehead.
Suddenly there was a clap of thunder and the sound of distant voices, angry and menacing. Xena jumped to her feet and grabbed her sword.
"Sorry for the ill timed interruption." B’lanna explained. "I was hoping you might have time to demonstrate a few of your battle techniques."
Xena lowered her sword. Gabrielle pointed to the sky with its two suns. "Apparently we have lost Greece again." The bard sighed.
"Ah, yes." B’lanna flashed a self-conscious smile. "I changed the program on you. This is a planet called Lyron. Rocky terrain, as you see, two suns and inhabited by a rather nasty species of humanoids. They are preparing for battle just over that ridge."
She pointed to the north. "I created this program as a relaxation. Hoped you might like a little exercise."
"Warriors!" sighed Gabrielle. "You two run along. I believe I’ll just stay here awhile." Then to Xena whom she could tell was brimming with anticipation of a good fight. "Try not to get killed. You are my only link to…" she paused. "Just try not to get killed."
"Not to worry." B’lanna informed the bard. "I have the safety on which prevents us from receiving any injury."
Gabrielle mouthed a silent ‘thank you’ even as she noted the look of disdain on Xena’s face and watched the pair move off to encounter whatever lurked beyond the northern ridge.
"So you come here to relax?" Xena asked as they crept along an eight-inch ledge.
"Yes. Gets the juices flowing." B’lanna replied.
Can’t argue with that, thought Xena. "Tell me about our enemy."
B’lanna secured a toehold on the sheer cliff rising above them and hoisted her self up. "One and a half meters tall, sort of wolf like, keen intelligence. They hunt in packs."
"Little guys." Xena laughed. "They don’t sound too fearsome."
"They have ten inch fangs." B’lanna mentioned amicably. "And are armed with phasers and other lethal weapons. A bit more advanced than an ancient warlord, Xena."
"We shall see." Xena scampered up the cliff arriving ahead of B’lanna and extending a hand back to her offering assistance.
B’lanna frowned. "Okay, so you’re fast."
A flash of light shot just millimeters over Xena’s head and the nearby rock face exploded. She flattened against the ground. "I take it we’ve arrived."
B’lanna laughed. "This way." She crawled through a crevice in the rocks, and removed the weapon she had secured to her back. It was a long curved double blade with razor sharp spikes at each end. "My other enhancement." B’lanna joked. "It’s called a batleth. Just an updated version of your primitive sword."
Xena pulled her sword from its scabbard and hefted it fondly. "It’s not the size, its what you do with it." She had already spotted two of the creatures crouched directly behind boulders ten meters to the left. Four others were in motion flanking them on either side.
"I count six."
B’lanna nodded in agreement. "Want me to show you how it’s done?"
"Not really." Xena stepped into the clearing beyond their purchase point, sprang into the air with an ululating sound that froze all life forms within a 100 meter radius and landed behind the two creatures moving to their left.
B’lanna, feeling in danger of being outclassed at her own game, dashed forward and raised her weapon to dispatch the two enemy who had been lying in wait. A whooshing sound sped past her and the enemies’ heads fell from their toppling bodies before she could strike. Another ululation and the smack of a sword on her right told her that the remaining enemies were down as well. Lowering her weapon she turned toward the approaching warrior.
"Nice warm up," Xena said. "Got anything more challenging?"
B’lanna smiled. "Computer, Program Kazon 12." The environment turned to forest misted in early morning. "Something a little more challenging." She said taking cover behind a fallen trunk. "No more hints."
Xena stood motionless, every sense focused on assimilating data. Then she leapt right, plunged her sword into the chest of an enemy warrior and crouched behind a tree. Looking back at B’lanna she smiled, drew her chakram and sent it to dispatch two other men who had been approaching the engineering chief. B’lanna stood defiantly. "Those were mine."
"You didn’t call it." Xena tweaked her.
B’lanna moved swiftly to Xena’s side. "Look, maybe you’ve had some experience…"
"Took on the entire Persian army once."
"Well, I took on the entire Federation of Planets."
"That does sound impressive," Xena chortled. "By the way, I won. Did you?"
B’lanna sighed. "Not exactly."
"So that’s why you play with the safety on."
B’lanna returned Xena’s smirk. "Safety off!"
They crisscrossed the forest heading back toward the south, when a scream pierced the silence. Xena’s heart was in her throat. "Gabrielle!" She cried and raced toward the campsite.
"Oh shit!" muttered B’lanna trailing close behind.
The three men held Gabrielle against a tree and laughed at their acquisition’s distress. Their intentions obvious, Xena used the chakram to slice off the arm of the man holding a knife to Gabrielle’s throat. Then in short order, Xena and B’lanna killed the remaining men.
Gabrielle raised a bloody hand. "What was this about a safety?"
"Sorry you’re injured." B’lanna said apologetically.
"Just my finger." She showed her right hand to Xena. "My middle finger." Xena’s eyes widened in horror. "It’ll heal in a few days." Gabrielle sneered at her warrior. "Or maybe a week…or two."
"It’ll heal in less than ten seconds." Seven announced from the sidelines. "If you three are finished fooling around, come with me... please…" She turned toward B’lanna and shook her head. "Computer, end program."
Janeway listened with some fascination to what had transpired in the Holodeck. She liked the warrior woman. She admired her cool headedness and obvious courage even in what had to be a most difficult situation for the warrior and her companion. Xena never seemed depressed or discouraged, as if unwilling to accept the loss of her previous world as a permanent situation. It was the stalwart warrior conviction that inspired Janeway’s optimism that there might be a solution for them all.
"I dropped them off at sickbay on our way here." B’lanna told the Captain. "It was a deep cut, but hardly worth Xena’s profound concern."
Janeway gave Seven a knowing glance, both of them understanding immediately the nature of Xena’s distress. Seven smiled and lowered her head. B’lanna eyed the Captain and the Borg quizzically, then got it. Out of commission, she thought, and displayed a slight smile of her own. Then she looked again at the Captain and the Borg and yet another bit of insight occurred to her. The cheerfulness explained to her satisfaction, she broadened her smile. In spite of her normal ill humor regarding emotions, she approved.
"Tuvoc says that a vessel identical to the one destroyed when Xena and Gabrielle were transported aboard has been detected barely within scanner range."
"Are we to expect additional Greek warriors?" B’lanna queried.
Janeway opened her mouth to respond then fell momentarily silent. "I almost said no.," she said at last. "But given what’s happened so far, who knows? At any rate, the vessel needs to be identified especially if we can establish a link between the vessel and our guests arrival."
"Yes, Captain." Seven agreed. The soft glow in her eyes melted through Janeway like a caress. "I will do my best."
"I know you will, Annika." Janeway said tenderly.
B’lanna felt awkward and turned to leave.
"B’lanna." Janeway called after her. "Can I count on you to assist in the investigation?"
The engineering chief quickly agreed. "I think I can rise above my battered ego to do some brain work." She acknowledged. "Just don’t ask me to face the invincible Greek for a few hours." She laughed and headed toward biometrics, leaving Seven to follow when she was ready.
Xena sat on the edge of the bed, gently holding Gabrielle’s hand. It looked good as knew: not the slightest indication of the injury the bard had sustained. "Miraculous!"
"You find my finger miraculous?" Gabrielle teased.
Xena enfolded the hand between her own two. "I find the whole hand, the whole person miraculous." Then she enfolded the bard in her arms and kissed her passionately.
Gabrielle returned the kiss and began unlatching the warrior’s armor. Piece by piece, clothing dropped to the floor beside the bed and skin pressed against skin, breath against breath, as they sought to kindle fires ever hotter. Xena’s hands roamed Gabrielle’s breast and thighs encouraged by the bard’s gentle, approving moans. Bracing her knee between Gabrielle’s thighs, she arched her back and took in the view of Gabrielle’s naked, blush-tinged body.
She ached to hear Gabrielle repeat her name as she was wont to do while coming. She teased a nipple then suckled it gently then harder until Gabrielle arched into her eagerly and clamped her wet opening hard against Xena’s thigh. And then as Xena moved rhythmically back and forth, suckling, pressing ever more ardently, Gabrielle came in an explosion of ecstasy and trembling and a throaty ‘Xena, Xeeennaa’ uttered as if an answered prayer.
Xena pressed down against the bard’s still trembling thigh and moved seeking her own release and as it neared, the firing of lights and pleasure increasing in her brain, she felt her self tossed on her back and the thigh removed. For a brief instant, Xena feared she was to be inexplicably denied release, then hands moved about her breast and waist and lips kissed her labia.
The warmth of Gabrielle’s breath against her clitoris cascaded waves of pleasure throughout Xena’s body. She raised her arms above her head and swayed her hips in encouragement to the almost sacred lips and tongue that pleasured and explored her womanly secrets.
She wanted, needed so profoundly that she demanded satisfaction, but each time she neared it, Gabrielle relented and let her slip back into the throbbing need without the release she promised. Xena begged, whispering at first, then loudly, nearly sobbing, ‘Please, Gabrielle, please…I need you’ and the bard licked playfully at the swollen vulva.
Then the miraculous hand caressed Xena’s dark triangle of hair and inviting it in with words and swaying hips, a finger moved inside her. Thrusting hard and deliciously fast, then faster as Gabrielle’s tongue sucked the clitoris. Xena’s body arched upward, her mind ablaze with light and a pleasure never before experienced with anyone but Gabrielle.
She came, clamping tightly about Gabrielle’s hand, moaning loudly, joyously.
She came time and again until she was too exhausted to move. She let Gabrielle play a little longer with her breasts, using her lips to playfully tease, kissing Xena lightly. She heard Gabrielle laugh teasingly, and with her last bit of strength pulled her down to her chest and held her fast until they slept.
"Aphrodite." Gabrielle said softly some time later after taking a long, relaxing nap. Stroking the hair near Xena’s ear, she went on. "I believe Aphrodite sent us here. After all, they say love is the greatest force in the universe."
"Bingo! My little love muffins." An ostentatious flash from which stepped a pink chiffon clad goddess with a radiant smile followed the familiar voice.
Aphrodite glanced discretely about the room while Xena and Gabrielle pulled on their clothing. "I love what you’ve done with the place. She laughed exuberantly once the pair was modestly covered.
"Thanks." Xena said sarcastically.
"You should thank me, warrior babe." Aphrodite quipped. "Bad times at the real homestead, I assure you. You two love birds were put on ice by my battle brained brother and I just couldn’t let that happen."
"Right you are." She smiled at Gabrielle. "Beauty and brains, darling. And to think Ares is always asking what Xena sees in you. There are none so blind as those who will not take a good look."
Xena cleared her throat of the irritation that was building there. "So you took it upon yourself to figure we couldn’t handle the situation, whatever it is, and exiled us on a space ship? How dare you."
"Get a grip, Xenakins." Aphrodite sat down between the two women. "You had it pretty much figured out except for you unwholesome obsession with my brother. You credit him with every thing, you know. You’re not exiled here. As you yourself said, you are here for a purpose."
"Care to enlighten us?" Xena asked with a slight frown.
"It’s too too perfect." Aphrodite declared. "Ares saves you from death. I save you from Ares. And – ta da – you save a ship that has two of my favorite gal pals. Everybody gets home safe and sound and in love. All it took was my brilliant idea and a bit of, shall we call it, SHOWmanship, or shWOMANship from you two. Once Annika observed you two together she became open to the possibilities that a lovesick Captain so wanted to explore with her. That’s all it took. That and Gabrielle’s ability to make a decent cup of coffee using a bit of Greek chicory."
Gabrielle grinned, remembering Seven’s request to explain ‘coffee’ and what its proper characteristics should be. She had taken her to the galley and shown the Borg how to make a good cup of coffee. The Borg had taken the cup and disappeared for the evening. She chuckled. "So the coffee was for the Captain."
"Exactamundo." Aphrodite confirmed. "Coffee as an aphrodisiac. I always thought so personally. Of course I did add a little something to the java while it was in transit." She fluffed her chiffon. "And my putting the replicators on the fritz temporarily was another act of genius don’t cha think?"
Xena sulked. "Then our being here has nothing to do with my warrior abilities like killing those intruders the other day. I didn’t save the ship or stop a war or anything like that. We were here so that Gabrielle could make coffee!" Her voice was reminiscent of a small child jeering ‘that’s not fair.’
"All’s fair in LOVE and war, warrior princess." Aphrodite reminded her. "Besides what’s wrong with Gabrielle being the hero for once? And you did play an important role in the demonstration phase, if you remember." Xena nodded just slightly consoled. "And remember, nobody’s home yet. There’s still work to do."
Aphrodite put an arm about the shoulders of each woman and drew them near so she could whisper her plan. "Warrior babes," she began. "We are going to need…"
Xena slipped behind the bulkhead and watched as Seven proceeded past her to the captain’s cabin. Janeway had retired for the night about 40 minutes earlier and from the look on Seven’s face, the pair would be occupied for quite a while. Xena entered the lift and headed to the bridge where she knew she would find a small nighttime crew.
They hardly acknowledged her as she stepped onto the bridge, all three crewmen preoccupied with their specific duties. Xena peered at the huge screen in front her and strolled casually as she waited for the exact moment to strike.
"Lieutenant, I am getting a reading of a ship just at the edge of our scanners."
Tuvoc turned from the captain’s chair and went over to check the reading. Xena flashed a fake smile as he passed her.
"The vessel has changed heading and is approaching. Prepare weapons." He resumed his place at the captain’s chair and touched his communicator. "Tuvoc to Janeway."
"Yes," came the throaty response. "What is it Tuvoc?"
"Sorry to wake you, Captain." He apologized looking at Xena as she inadvertently laughed. "But we have detected a change in that shadow vessel. It is approaching at high speed." He glanced again at Xena who poised innocently at the side of the room.
"Issue red alert, Mr. Tuvoc. I’ll be right there."
The instant the siren started and the red light came on, Xena took her Chakram and flipped it toward the pilot console. It careened from station to station leaving sparks and cries of dismay in its wake then returned to her deft one handed catch.
Simultaneous to Xena’s activity on the bridge, Gabrielle strolled around the transporter room looking curious and bored at the same time. The technician eyed her from time to time, but let her wander as the crew had been ordered to do. She drew ever nearer to the console. When the siren for battle stations sounded, she reached over and pressed the precise button that Aphrodite had instructed her. The transporter went dark and the technician stared at her in disbelief.
"Oops!" she giggled and charged out of the room.
Xena found her own exit a bit more challenging. The chakram disarmed the phasers from all three crewmen before any could fire and she had to use the pinch on Tuvoc to escape to the lift. First disabling him until the doors opened, Xena quickly released the pinch and escaped, leaving the mystified Vulcan to attend to his disabled ship.
Xena and Gabrielle arrived simultaneously at the cargo bay where Aphrodite flashed in to retrieve them. It was almost perfect, but B’lanna was more clever than they had anticipated.
"Greeting earthling!" Aphrodite said as the engineering chief dashed toward them. "I come in peace." Then she waved her hand and B’lanna’s weapon disappeared.
Seven and Janeway appeared in time to hear the last remark.
"If you come in peace, why is my ship disabled." Janeway demanded.
"Chill out, la capitana." Aphrodite smiled. "I had to turn things off for a few minutes, that’s all. Besides, a bit of stray static electricity and you people shoot at things. Found that a trifle unpleasant last time I approached."
"Engineering is down and the bridge reports all systems off line." B’lanna told the captain. "Except for life support."
Janeway looked at Seven who swallowed and then shook her head absent any suggestions. "What is it that you want?" Janeway asked feigning confidence.
"Adoration, a new temple, flowers twice a day." Aphrodite sighed. "The good old days. But of course that was so last millennia for you scientific types. So never mind."
Gabrielle touched Aphrodite’s hand and gave it a squeeze. "I promise flowers, Aphrodite, twice a day for a week, if you’ll just take us home."
"Aphrodite?" Exclaimed B’lanna. "It can’t be."
"Yes it can, sweetums. Who do you think brought you and Tom Paris together? Interspecies work is an art, you know. Wouldn’t hurt you to pick a few flowers for me now and then." Aphrodite laughed out loud as B’lanna’s mouth dropped open.
"By the gods." Murmured the former scientist.
"Exactly." Said Gabrielle.
"Can you truly transport Xena and Gabrielle back to earth?" Janeway asked. Her voice was laded with the emotion of hope. "Can you transport Voyager as well?"
"I don’t think you’d fit into ancient Greece too well, Captain." Aphrodite reached out and touched Janeway’s shoulder. "I know how you wish to be home, just as I know of your feelings for Annika." She squeezed silent endearment. "Look at it this way, Katie, you have your Borg must you have the moon as well?" She sighed knowing that no one on Voyager would get the reference to Betty Davis and Now Voyager. Ah well. Fold time and you are bound to leave some things out.
She winked at Seven who took Janeway’s hand to comfort her. And then the three travelers, like Janeway’s fondest hopes, were gone. In a brilliant flash, Xena, Gabrielle and Aphrodite were back in the obscure vessel at the edge of Voyager’s scanning range.
"Another space ship?" Gabrielle fairly moaned.
"I must be present in a place to issue a, what did you call it, a t-wave. This is my personal chariot, ladies. Welcome aboard." Aphrodite told them. "Now close your eyes and click your heals together and say ‘there’s no place like home, there’s no place like Greece.’"
"Wait." Xena threw a hand up. "You told us you would send Voyager back to Earth, didn’t you. You can’t just leave them there."
"Au contraire, my sensitive warrior," Aphrodite contradicted her. "I did help them out. Like giving them the love of their lives is not enough. Home is after all where the heart is. We are headed back to the Greece we know and love. Theirs is a different path. Now close your eyes."
A tremendous roar filled their ears and when they opened their eyes, the green fields of Greece stretched out before them. The campfire and bedrolls were in order and it was as if they were once again in the Holodeck. But, taking a deep breath and spreading her acute senses wide around her, Xena confirmed they were home.
Gabrielle opened her hand and found a folded note. ‘Much has changed, Gabrielle. I have done all that I could returning you to a safer time than that which you left. In doing so I have moved you past the twilight that claimed nearly all of us. Only love and war live on." Gabrielle put the note unshared in her pocket.
"I liked the Captain." Xena was telling her as they settled into the camp. "She was like me."
"You mean the dominant one?" Gabrielle said sarcastically. "The top as they say?"
"Well," said Xena with a sheepish grin. "Yes the top."
"Oh, Xena," Gabrielle laughed. "You have so much too learn. Come here, let me welcome you home the proper way." She grabbed the warrior in a fierce hug and initiated love making in a most unbottomlike manner. Not that Xena minded in the least.
"Captain. Captain!" Paris’s voice was high pitched and emphatic. "Look at these readings. It can’t be. But it, it is."
Janeway rose from her chair and walked toward the pilot console. Her head was still spinning from the unexplained noise that had swept over the vessel moments earlier. She was tired and shorn of the hope that they would be hastened home. She wanted nothing more than to return to her quarters and dissolve in Annika’s arms. But she needed to make sure that the ship was operating normally again, though she doubted normal would ever have a true meaning for her again.
"What is it Tom?"
He pointed to the console. "According to this, we are 71 light years from where we were a moment ago." His voice trembled. "We are exactly one year from the Alpha quadrant…from home."
Her hand touched the console as if to see if it were real. "One year!" She smiled and then laughed. "Confirm these readings, Mr. Tuvoc. Then report. Mr. Paris, put some champagne on ice. I believe we are going to need it. I’ll be in my quarters."
Seven closed the note that had mysteriously found itself in her hand. ‘You have one year to become comfortable with being human, Annika. I have sent Voyager nearly home. That is my gift. But love is the greatest gift that one can receive. And that is my real gift to you and Katharine. To paraphrase yet another unassimilated species, love long and prosper. Aphrodite.’
Janeway rushed into the room and before she could speak a word, Annika grabbed her in a fierce hug and initiated love making in a most unbottomlike manner. Resistance was, of course, futile. Not that Janeway minded in the least.
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