Stardate 214875.5 (7 April 2376): Marika, the former Three of Nine, remembers her last days as she lay dying in a grassy field on Bajor.
7 April 2376 1518 hrs
Marika Willkara fell to her knees, joy overcoming her. She ran her fingers through the grass, savoring the cool, sharp sensation. She’d made it.
Behind her, Harry and Annika Kim kept a respectful distance, standing near the Delta Flyer-type shuttlecraft Jules Verne.
Memories began coming to Marika, some of which she didn’t want to remember, but couldn’t hold back.
The ship shook, the lights flickered. Marika rounded the corner, her phaser at the ready. Motion, behind her. She whirled around, firing. The phaser blast stopped, an opaque shield protecting her target.
The Borg had adapted.
Marika ran, her weapon useless. The Borg behind her gave chase. She rounded corner after corner in the seemingly endless corridors, picking herself up when the ship’s sudden shaking would knock her off her feet, dodging debris let loose by the impacts of the Borg’s weaponry on the ship. She looked behind her. Now there were three drones, two of whom hadn’t been Borg a few moments before. Marika rounded another corner, only to run headlong into another Borg drone. She tried her phaser again, knowing it wouldn’t work even as she desperately pressed the trigger.
She turned, but there was nowhere to run. She charged the lone drone before her, but he kept his footing. She tried to dodge him and run past, but he grabbed her wrist. Suddenly, she felt a sharp pain in her neck, which became a burning, coursing through her veins. It spread. Marika’s thoughts turned briefly to her family, hoping they could get off the ship before they, too, were caught. Then, Marika felt nothing. She heard the voices, drowning out her own feeble, solitary mental scream.
"We are Borg," she said.
Marika watched the screen showing the trial of Captain Kathryn Janeway, unable to believe the charges brought against her.
"Captain," said the image of Voyager‘s Vulcan security chief, Lieutenant Commander Tuvok. "I have Crewman Swinn’s sworn statement indicating you did. Is this true, or did she perjure herself?"
Janeway remained silent. After a moment, her first officer, Commander Chakotay, who was presiding over the court-martial, leaned over and said something to her, but the courtroom recorders couldn’t pick it up. Janeway’s head fell, her posture slumped.
"Yes," Janeway finally said, resuming her rigid posture. "Yes, it’s true."
Marika and the others around her gasped in shock. She couldn’t believe it. Captain Janeway, the commanding officer of a Starfleet vessel, had just admitted to heading a ring of saboteurs aboard her own ship! Marika barely noticed as Tuvok again questioned Janeway, establishing two other specific instances of sabotage.
"Marika Willkara," Seven said, "Harry and I have news for you."
"It’s really a good news-bad news-good news situation," Kim said. "The good news is that we can get back to the Federation with the slipstream drive. The bad news is that it could take as long as another six months." Marika’s face fell. "But there’s still good news, Willkara," Kim said quickly. "We know we’ll be back soon, so we can safely put you in stasis." She looked up at him, her hopes of seeing her home, now free of Cardassian rule, rising. "There’s more," Kim continued. "Seven and I are going to get married, and we’d like your permission to wake you so you can attend the ceremony."
Marika was surprised. She hadn’t realized the two were romantically involved. "You’re getting married?" she asked. "How long have you been together?"
"About a year," Kim said. "Seven won’t admit it, but I thought you’d like to know that the idea of placing you in stasis so you can see Bajor again was hers."
"Thank you," Marika said to Seven. "I’d be honored to attend your wedding."
"I will make arrangements," Seven said, "with the Doctor for your stasis unit, as well as your awakening on the day of our wedding." Kim smiled, and he left with his fiancee.
Marika’s eyes fluttered open, and the first thing she saw was Voyager‘s EMH. "Welcome back to the land of the living," he said.
"I take it today’s the day," Marika said, propping herself up on her elbows.
"If you’re referring to the pending nuptuals of Lieutenant Kim and Seven of Nine," the Doctor said, "then you’re absolutely right."
"Well," Marika said, "I could use a change clothes. Maybe a dress uniform? How long until the wedding?"
"Two hours," the Doctor replied. "You’ve been in stasis for quite a while. I wanted to perform a thorough check-up before releasing you."
"Seven," Marika said after the wedding, "you’re looking well."
"Thank you," Seven said. "You look well, also."
"How long have you been pregnant?" Marika asked.
"Two months," Seven replied.
"Willkara," Kim said, approaching Marika and Seven with a young blonde woman that Marika didn’t recognize. "I’d like you to meet Kes." Marika shook the young woman’s hand.
"Harry told me about you," Kes said. "I wish there was some way I could help."
"The Doctor’s done everything he knows," Marika said. "What could you do that he can’t?"
"Kes has telekinetic and telepathic abilities," Kim said. "She moved the ship then thousand light years in the blink of an eye, once."
"I’m impressed," Marika said. "What species are you?"
"Ocampa," Kes said. "I was with Voyager for three years after they were first stranded in the Delta Quadrant. I was also the Doctor’s assistant, before Seven of Nine and the Challenger‘s medical staff came aboard."
Marika awoke from stasis once more, memories of a day spent on the surface of the planet Rrasskarr fresh in her mind.
"How long…?" she began to ask.
"A little over two months," said Kim as he and Annika stepped into view. Her pregnancy, Marika noted, was more prominent than before, although she was now wearing her hair down, and her clothes were a more loose fit.
"Seven," Marika said, "Are we in orbit of Bajor now, or are we at Terok— I mean, Deep Space Nine?"
"Neither," she said. "We are at the Earth spacedock facility. Harry and I will take you to Bajor in the Jules Verne, which has recently been fitted with a quantum slipstream drive. Also, I no longer call myself Seven of Nine. I have reclaimed my human heritage, and have taken the name Annika Kim. You may continue to call me Seven, if you wish."
"Annika," Marika said, letting the name roll over her tongue. "That’s a pretty name."
"Thank you," Annika said. "The Doctor wishes to perform another scan on you before we depart."
The ship’s EMH stepped up to the biobed once more, his mood sour, and waved a tricorder over Marika’s body. He looked at the results, and his mood soured further. "I’m sorry," he said. "You have about three or four days laft. There’s nothing more I can do."
"You did what you could, Doctor," Marika said. Annika stepped over to her once more, a bundle of clothing in her arms, and offered it to the Bajoran woman. Marika took the clothes, and stepped into a private room to change.
Marika lay in the grass, the memories flowing through her. She didn’t notice the Bajoran couple approaching the Kims and the Jules Verne.
"Good, you made it," Kim said. "I don’t know how much longer she has."
"She’s our daughter," the woman said. "I never thought we’d see her again, after losing her so long ago."
Marika’s parents knelt beside her in the grass. Her eyes fluttered open again. "Mama?" she asked.
"It’s all right, Willkara," her mother said. "It’s all right." Tears came to her eyes as the three embraced, not wanting to give voice to the knowledge that, very soon, Marika would die.
"Harry, Annika," Marika said after a moment, "come here, please." The Kims walked over to where Marika and her parents sat in the grass, joining them on the ground. "I don’t have much longer," she said breathlessly. "I can feel myself slipping away. I want you to remember something. Savor every moment. Life is so precious; you’ll never have them again." Her eyes began to droop, and she gasped, desperately trying to say what she needed to say before death claimed her, "Remember that, for me. Thank you, Annika. I love you, all of you." Her eyes closed, and her breathing stopped.
After a few moments of respectful silence, Kim pulled a tricorder from his belt and scanned Marika’s body. He looked to her parents, his eyes alone telling them that their daughter was gone.