The Final Straw

By Seema

Disclaimer: Characters and places belong to Paramount. They would hate this storyline anyway.

Author's note: Look Ma, no angst! Coincidence? I think not. This one is for Rocky, incidentally; I owe her at least this much.


It happened suddenly. One moment she was there, focusing her sharp analytical eye on everything and everyone and then the next moment, dead. Just like that. Dead.

"I didn't think Borg died," Harry whispered nervously to Tom as they awaited the Captain. "Don't they just get spare parts or something?"

"What I don't understand is how a replicator could kill anyone," Neelix said. "Sorry, B'Elanna."

"It wasn't me," B'Elanna muttered. Tom moved slightly to the side; B'Elanna, when angry, had a nasty right hook and Tom often found himself the undeserving victim of said right hook. "The replicators were functioning within parameters. Not only that, I had Icheb run a diagnostic last night. He had them operating within one micron of specifications. There was nothing wrong with the replicators. Nothing at all."

"It's all right, B'Elanna. No one is blaming you," Tom said soothingly.

"Where is the Captain?" Tuvok asked. He rapped his fingers nervously against the table. They had been waiting for forty minutes. Forty minutes since the untimely death of one Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct to Unimatrix One. "Commander?"

Chakotay had found Seven's body. Apparently, something had gone disastrously wrong in her alcove during the night and she had felt the need to regenerate in Chakotay's quarters. At some point, she had awoken, gone to the replicator and while getting a glass of water, had been shocked so severely that her abundance of implants had all short-circuited, causing a mass shutdown of all biological and mechanical processes.

"The Captain said she was on her way but had some things to take care of first," Chakotay said morosely. The doors to the conference room opened and everyone looked up eagerly; however, it was not the Captain, merely the Doctor. His expression was uncharacteristically downcast, his manner subdued.

"She's dead," the Doctor reported somberly, even though the crew was already aware of this fact. However, the EMH couldn't miss an opportunity to display his theatrical fortitude and he played his moment well. The Doctor braced himself on the table, resting all of his weight on one holographic hand. Tom Paris swore he thought the Doctor was crying; of course, Tom would never verbalize this observation.

"There was nothing I could do," the Doctor continued. "I'm sorry."

Chakotay gulped, B'Elanna's eyes widened, Harry sniffed, Tom coughed, Tuvok blinked and Neelix slumped. The Doctor sat down between Harry and Tuvok.

"She was so beautiful," Neelix muttered. "Those curves..."

"She could fix anything," Harry declared. "Anything at all."

"So much promise," the Doctor whispered, his voice cracking ever so slightly. "She put the rest of us to shame with her talent, energy, and intelligence."

"How will we ever get home without her?" Tom wondered

"I miss her sense of humor already," Neelix said.

"Oh please. What sense of humor?" B'Elanna asked. "And besides, we did fine before she came on board and we'll do fine without her now."

Beside her, Chakotay sighed heavily and Tom looked horrified.

"B'Elanna!" Tom exclaimed. "This isn't the time to be insensitive. Seven was a valuable member of this crew. Her loss will be deeply felt, especially for the younger males on-board. You know that morale went up whenever Seven entered the room."

"But everyone paid attention to her. No one even remembered Kes," B'Elanna pointed.

"Kes who?" Neelix asked.

"See what I mean?" B'Elanna asked. "Ever since that Borg babe came onboard, it's been Seven this, Seven that. Before Seven, I was the best engineer on this ship."

Harry's eyes widened even more.

"You're right," the ensign said. "Before Seven, no one could handle a hypospanner better than me." Harry took a look at B'Elanna and hastily amended his remark. "Other than you, of course."

Now Tuvok looked as disturbed as a Vulcan possibly could be. He leaned forward, keeping his expression even, and his voice carefully modulated.

"Prior to Seven's arrival on Voyager, I possessed the greatest sense of logic and accuracy on the ship," he said.

Chakotay sniffed some more. B'Elanna looked over.

"Chakotay?" she asked.

"It's always difficult to say good-bye to a member of our crew. It doesn't get easier," the first officer said. His eyes appeared watery, but none of the assembled commented on the obvious; Seven and Chakotay had been spending a lot of time together in recent weeks, an odd occurrence in itself.

"They have nothing in common," B'Elanna had told Tom and Harry. "What could they possibly talk about?"

Tom and Harry looked at each other and Harry, clearing his throat, had offered,
"Maybe they don't talk, B'Elanna."

B'Elanna put her hand over Chakotay's, stroking the top of it lightly.

"I know," she said gently.

They sat in silence and then Harry suggested that someone hail the Captain once again.

"I'm sure she's on her way," Tom said.

"Maybe we should go get her," Neelix said. "I'm sure she's taking Seven's death very hard. You know how much time the Captain spent with Seven."

More heavy sighs; yes, this would be hard for the Captain. Silence fell over the room. The senior staff of Voyager continued to wait.


Kathryn Janeway sat on the floor of Chakotay's quarters, the spare parts of the replicator spread around her. She had to work quickly before Tuvok began his investigation. Quickly, she soldered several wires together and attached the small power source to the contraption. She eyed it carefully, pleased with her work.

Fixing replicators were easy; any first year cadet at the Academy could accomplish the task. It was even easier to rewire the replicator to produce a short spark of electricity during the matter materialization process.

But ever since Seven had come on board, Janeway had been unable to fix a single replicator; every time, the pot roast or something else burned. No matter what she did, Janeway was unable to get that damn replicator to function properly. And it had all begun when Seven arrived. Coincidence? Janeway didn't think so.

The frequency of burned dinners increased proportionally with the number of times Chakotay came to eat; in fact, Janeway only burned food when Chakotay was to be her guest. And at the same time, the Captain had noticed that Seven of Nine, on her endless (and rather boring) quest to become an individual, had been focusing her attention more and more on the First Officer. Coincidence? Probably not.

And then there had the matter of exactly whose ship this was. Sometimes, Janeway found herself a shadow in the background while Seven took command of everything and everyone, often doing it perfectly and precisely, especially during those crucial negotiations with the Braga.

Janeway realized that her special reclamation project had turned into a nightmare. Something had to be done, and quickly. Unfortunately the Tsunkatse plan didn't work, the Borg plan didn't work, and the malfunctioning implants, well that had gone to pot, thanks to Icheb's generosity.

And now that Seven had turned her attention to Voyager's First Officer, Janeway knew the situation was desperate.

The plan had been so simple: rewire the modulation of the replicator to emit a short burst of energy when it detected the presence of nanoprobes. No one would ever suspect the Captain of causing the malfunction; it was common knowledge to everyone that Janeway had lost much of her scientific knowledge and skill around the same time Seven of Nine appeared on Voyager.

Janeway sighed in satisfaction as she replaced the repaired part into the replicator. No evidence whatsoever now. She straightened her appearance quickly, checking her hair in the mirror, and swiping her lips with her favorite shade of coral. A deep breath, a squaring of the shoulders, and she was in the corridor, briskly making her way to the conference room, where she knew the senior staff, including Chakotay, awaited her.

She passed crewmembers, all of whom were careful to offer up their sincere regrets on the untimely and tragic death of Seven of Nine. Janeway blinked many times, thanked them for their concern over Seven, and tightened her lips into a straight, narrow line. The Captain was, everyone would later agree, the epitome of elegance and grace in her mourning.

Only when she was in the turbolift, away from the curious eyes of the 140 - oops, 139 - crewmembers who served her, did Kathryn Janeway allow a smile to cross her lips.

~ the end ~

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