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DRASTIC ACTION

By Shayenne

Instructions for reading: Please insert tongue firmly into cheek and leave it there until the end. And of course Paramount own Janeway et al, and they would have done this to her if they had thought of it first.

Happy Belated Birthday, Brianna! I'm really sorry about Crewman Gilles.

Rated PG-13

I think it was during our fifth year in the Delta Quadrant that the drone, Seven of Nine, irreparably broke down. I can't say that I was upset about it; other than the fact she picked a very inconvenient time, I was rather pleased to wash my hands of her. Her habit of suggesting the exact same solution to a problem that I was already considering meant that the crew tended to attribute our successes to her, rather than to me. No one likes a know-it-all, me least of all. I'm the captain; I'm the one who's supposed to be brilliant.

So when her implants started degrading and her organic components went into failure, there were quite a few of the crew who quietly looked the other way and whistled. Oh, we made a very public show of trying to fix her. Medical solutions, engineering fixes, reprogramming her neural pathways, we tried it all, albeit rather half-heartedly. But, it seemed that Seven needed the collective in order to survive. One by one, the others gave up trying to save her, and returned to more interesting problems, such as playing Captain Proton.

But I didn't give up, as I could see in Seven the answer to a problem that had bothered me for a while. If my solution worked-and I am a skilful holoprogrammer, so I didn't see why it wouldn't-it could finally be the way of keeping Chakotay under control.

After everyone else had given up on Seven and left her to rot, I moved in. I managed to construct a holo-Seven, a virtual shell that fitted around her existing, degrading body, and I downloaded her memories from her cortical implant into it. I added a few necessary personality subroutines-something that the original Seven of Nine was sorely lacking. On the pretext of trying to duplicate it, I borrowed the EMH's mobile emitter. In fact, B'Elanna and I had succeeded in reproducing it already, but we hadn't told him that. It gave us an edge of control. I duplicated another mobile emitter myself, and attached it to the Seven of Nine clone, disguising it as one of her implants so that no one would know it was there.

The experiment worked amazingly well. No one questioned me when I announced that I had fixed Seven of Nine and she was returning to active duty. So we had Seven back-at least, we had a fully functional, duplicated Seven with some personality adjustments. I was never sure what happened to the actual Seven of Nine-I think she just quietly rotted away inside her holographic shell. Once, I found an implant in the turbolift; it was lodged between the deck plating and the wall. I guess Seven was dropping them all over the ship as she degraded like six-week-old Leola root stew.

But it took longer than I expected for Chakotay to respond to the hologram. Yet, this was why I had "saved" her-I needed her to snare Chakotay's interest. In theory, it shouldn't have been too difficult. Chakotay was male, virile, and should have responded to Seven's more obvious assets. And I wanted him to fall for her, at least on a superficial level. There was no chance of him falling in love with her, any more than he would have fallen for the EMH. But if he were seeing her, he would keep his pants zipped around other women. There would be no more Rileys, or Seskas, or Kellins.

I made one brilliant failsafe in the holo-Seven. Once we were back in the Alpha Quadrant, once Earth appeared on the viewscreen, then the hologram would simply delete itself. Then, I could move in and claim Chakotay for myself.

I had underestimated Chakotay's stubbornness. It took him two more years to respond holo-Seven's advances. In the end, I took to tweaking her program weekly when we were supposedly playing Velocity on the holodeck. But when holo-Seven's advances took on the subtlety of a shuttle crash, he finally asked her on a date. After that, it was smooth sailing.

They hadn't been dating long when Admiral Janeway arrived out of the blue to bring Voyager home. I seized the opportunity-her plan seemed a good one and there was every chance it would work. Seeing the drone with my property had galled me more than expected, and so I gladly passed up on the opportunity to explore a few more nebulas if it got us home sooner.

The admiral took the opportunity to inspect holo-Seven while she was on board. I'd seen her peering intently at the hologram, and once I caught her tweaking holo-Seven's portable emitter with a probe. I asked if she thought it needed adjustment, but she assured me it would work just fine when the time came.

Over coffee, I asked the admiral if her holo-Seven had held up until she returned to Earth and enabled the admiral to claim Chakotay, but the answer was unsettling. She said the program was a brilliant success; so brilliant in fact, that her Chakotay had married his holo-Seven. I remarked that it didn't say much for Chakotay's powers of observation if he was able to marry a hologram without realizing it. The admiral rolled her eyes and agreed, but offered no explanation.

"The experiment worked too well," said the admiral. "Chakotay fell out of lust and into love, and I had to get him back."

The knife of pain twisted in my guts, taking me by surprise. That was the point of this, wasn't it? Keep Chakotay occupied with something safe, so that he would be available to me when I was ready for him. But love...

The admiral continued, " So, I removed the competition. As Earth wasn't going to appear on our viewscreen anytime soon, I changed the programming so that holo-Seven would 'die' after her next away mission. The adjustment suceeded, and she 'died' in the arms of her husband, Chakotay."

"And did you reclaim Chakotay?" I asked.

The admiral's face lost all expression, like a beach washed clean by the advancing tide. "Of course," she said smoothly. Too smoothly. "That was the point, wasn't it?"

Over the next few days, we were all busy with the plan to get Voyager home. I was working on the modifications to Voyager's shields, so I didn't have a chance to talk to Chakotay about how we would get together once Voyager returned to Earth. But he wasn't around much either, gossip said he was spending a lot of time closeted in his quarters with the admiral. I figured that the admiral was enjoying walking down memory lane with him. She'd never told me any of her past after Voyager, but I had assumed she and her Chakotay had settled down somewhere and lived happily ever after.

The day it all came together was the day we arrived home. I gave the hypospray with the nanovirus to the admiral and she went off in her ship to do battle with the Borg Queen. Voyager rattled and rolled her way to Earth through the transwarp corridor, and the Borg collective was brought to its knees.

Once in the Alpha Quadrant, we were all occupied with the formalities and banalities of Starfleet. I had never noticed before what a load of pompous old donkeys most of them were-or maybe my time of independence in the Delta Quadrant had hardened me, I don't know. Chakotay was very quiet, more passive than usual, but I put it down to worry over the fate of the Maquis. I knew they wouldn't be imprisoned-after all, I would scarcely plan on spending the rest of my life with a criminal-but somehow there was never the time to reassure him.

We had been in the Alpha Quadrant for three days when I passed holo-Seven in the corridor. Then it struck me; the hologram was supposed to have deleted itself once Voyager arrived in the Alpha Quadrant. I frowned; the part of the program linked to the navigational coordinates must have failed. Rather than waste time trying to tweak its program, I decided to employ my backup system. Once holo-Seven saw an image of Earth on the viewscreen, then she would delete herself. I decided to take her to the bridge; that way she would shut down in front of Chakotay-he would then know his girlfriend hadn't been abducted, or gone missing, and wouldn't waste time trying to search for her. So I took holo-Seven's arm and steered her toward the bridge.

Earth filled the viewscreen, as it had done for the past three days, but I scarcely glanced at it. I checked that Chakotay was sitting in his chair, then I led holo-Seven onto the bridge to face the viewscreen.

The delete command worked perfectly and holo-Seven's program shimmered and faded from existence. There was only a dull thud as the mobile emitter hit the deck plating. I turned to Chakotay, finally to claim him for my own-but he wasn't there.

There was only a second mobile emitter resting on his command chair next to a PADD.

*

When I'd finished raging and screaming there was nothing left to do. After all, it was a fait accompli; the admiral had outsmarted me. The PADD gloatingly told me of her plan, and a masterfully clever one it was, I'll give her that.

She had known, of course, about holo-Seven and the plan to reclaim Chakotay. After all, she-I-had come up with it in the first place. But she had the advantage of knowing that when holo-Seven had "died" in her timeline, Chakotay hadn't turned to her. He'd been devastated, and was never the same again. He'd blamed her for the deception, and for his wife's death, and he couldn't find it in himself to forgive her. Shortly afterwards he'd left Voyager to settle quietly on an M-class planet.

The admiral had lost her love. But when the Klingon temporal device fell into her hands, when she had the chance to change time, she took not only the opportunity to get Voyager home early, she also took the opportunity to finally claim Chakotay. All those dinners in his quarters, she smugly related, weren't simply about food. She had seduced him. Flirted with him over the soup and cornbread, kissed him over the vegetable biriani, and fucked him on the table between the bowls of strawberries. And as they lay in his bed, in the afterglow of lovemaking, she told him of my plan.

His wrath had known no bounds, and so he willingly went along with her new idea.

The admiral and Chakotay, if this PADD is to be believed, are now happily living on New Earth. Taking the admiral's enhanced ship, they sailed away together into the wide blue Delta Quadrant yonder. They sent their regrets to the family of Crewman Gilles-an unwilling, but necessary sacrifice who was injected with the nanovirus and forced to take the admiral's place. I had assumed that Gilles had been killed in the rough ride through the transwarp and there hadn't been time to confirm it.

In order to prevent premature discovery, the admiral had altered holo-Seven's program, removing the link with the navigational controls, and programming her to remain away from viewports on the ship. They were gambling on the fact that it would take me a few days to realize, and hence, by then, the admiral and Chakotay would be far, far away. The pair of them had programmed the second hologram - holo-Chakotay - to delete itself simultaneously with holo-Seven.

I managed to trash most of my ready room before Tuvok and Tom charged in to restrain me. Certainly, it will need considerable repair if they plan on turning Voyager into a museum. It was highly ignominious being escorted to sickbay by an armed security detail, and I certainly didn't need the lecture on holographic rights that the EMH delivered. I wish he'd given me the sedative before the lecture.

So now, I have little to do except go along with Starfleet's boring and repetitive inquiry into my actions in the Delta Quadrant. I came up with a plausible reason for Chakotay's absence, and the court martial went better than I expected.

My years in the penal colony in New Zealand will give me ample time to plot how I can return to New Earth.

(((FIN)))

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