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The Pursuit of Perfection

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Summary: Everything changes for the crew of Voyager when they find a strange red-haired human woman alone in the Delta Quadrant. Willow/Seven

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Star Trek > VoyagerLegacyWeaponFR15836,130912524,0178 Oct 118 Nov 11Yes

The Guardian

Captain’s Log, Stardate 51904.7: We’ve detected a transmission coming from an M-class planet three light years from our current position. The transmission is, for all intents and purposes, an invitation to anyone wishing to deal in good faith with the senders, who call themselves the Topara. It’s certainly a pleasant surprise, after encountering so many hostile and xenophobic species in the Delta Quadrant, but I still intend to approach their world with caution. While it could be a trap, my gut feeling is that these people truly do mean well.

“We’re approaching the Toparan world, Captain.”

“All stop, Mr. Paris,” Captain Janeway instructed her helmsman. “Tuvok, what can you tell me?”

“Sensors indicate a technologically-advanced civilization, approximately on par with current Federation standards. I am detecting several orbital satellites, but there are no indications of any ships within the vicinity of the system. There are no ground-based weapons or shields that I can detect.”

“Sounds like a pacifistic society,” Chakotay said from the seat to Janeway’s left. “It does seem strange that they’re in such a welcoming mood considering all the hostile species around.”

“They could have defenses we can’t detect,” Janeway said skeptically. “Still, they might have resources we can trade for, and who knows? We might actually be able to make some friends for a change. Hail the surface.”

A few seconds later, a signal chimed from Tuvok’s control panel. “They are responding.”

Janeway smiled to herself. “On screen.” Standing up, the Captain took in two figures in flowing navy blue robes. They had green skin that was closer to blue than it was to an Orion’s pigmentation. They had no hair, and they had pointed ears that were far larger and less elegant than a Vulcan’s. White eyes with no visible pupils stared out from an otherwise normal humanoid face.

“Welcome to our home, good travelers. We are the High Clerics of the Topara People, and we honor our welcome guests,” one of the robed men said. I think it’s a man, anyway.

Janeway smiled, feeling a bit puzzled if she was honest with herself. “My name is Captain Janeway, of the Federation Starship Voyager. We are honored to be welcomed so openly, though I must confess to a bit of hesitation. You know nothing about us, and yet you open up to us so freely.”

“An understandable concern, considering the many dangers of this region of space, Captain,” the other figure said, and this one sounded distinctly female. “Our planet is protected from those who wish us harm. We take it you detected our transmission? If you had hostile intentions, you would have been unable to locate our world.”

The male cleric spoke up again. “We do not know what means of transportation you have, Captain, but we do not have any means of space travel. We only launch a few satellites once in a great while to ease global communications. You are, however, most welcome to visit our world. We must request, however, that you arrive unarmed.”

“You come from a ‘Federation,’ you say,” the female cleric said. “That suggests a multitude of worlds and species. We are always seeking to broaden our knowledge of the universe. We would be honored to learn more about you and your people, Captain.”

Well, isn’t this a nice surprise? “We would be honored to learn about you as well, High Clerics,” she said, unsure if that was the appropriate way to address them. “Our charter is to seek out new life, and we do it gladly. We have technology that allows us to transport directly to the surface. Would that be acceptable to you?”

“Most assuredly, Captain,” the female cleric replied. “Please, if you can detect where we are standing, do come to us. With your permission, a group of Seers will join us to greet you.”

Seers? Are they a precognitive race? They’re not unheard of, but even still… “If I may ask, High Clerics, how do your ‘Seers’ differ from normal Topara?” Janeway asked a touch too eagerly. Such a gift in an ally could be useful.

The male cleric smiled gently. “Most Topara are Seers, good Captain. The clerics of our world are those born with gifts other than sight. The Seers are just as they sound: they are the ones who can see.”

Janeway was a bit taken aback. “Oh, my mistake.” That makes a strange amount of sense. “Please expect us shortly. I just need a few minutes to assemble the team that will accompany me.”

“Of course, Captain. Take all the time you require. May Peace go with you.” Both clerics bowed before terminating the transmission.

Chakotay turned to Janeway. “They certainly seem friendly. And awfully sure of whatever they claim is protecting them. I wonder what sort of power, if any, these clerics have.”

“Whatever the case may be, they seem quite a bit like us. Explorers, only they want the galaxy to come to them. Not a unique case, but interesting enough. Harry, have Lieutenant Torres and Mister Neelix meet me in Transporter Room One. Have them dress for a diplomatic mission. Tuvok, you too. After changing into dress uniforms, that is.”

“Pardon me, Captain,” Chakotay said, “but do you honestly intend to take B’Elanna with you on a first contact mission?”

Janeway put her hands on her hips and let her lips form a smirk. “The Topara are interested in meeting new life, just as we are. B’Elanna certainly qualifies on many fronts.”

Chakotay smiled. “Just be careful.”

Janeway nodded. “You have the bridge, Commander. Tuvok, let’s go.”

Before heading to the transporter room, Janeway decided to make one final stop. Arriving in Astrometrics, the Captain found Seven of Nine taking detailed readings of the planet below.

“I hope I haven’t caught you at a bad time, Seven?”

“No, Captain. I am gathering data regarding the Topara defensive capabilities,” the former drone said without turning around.

Janeway cocked her head with a small smile. “They seem peaceful enough.”

“Do not be deceived, Captain.” Again, Seven did not turn around. “Species 297: Topara. Probes of the planet indicated a post-industrial society with minimal aggressive technology. A single cube was sent to assimilate them 370 years ago. It was destroyed shortly after its arrival in the system. After analyzing the force that destroyed it, three more cubes were sent. The adaptations were not successful, and they were also destroyed. No Borg vessel was ever able to locate the Toparan home world after the destruction of those three cubes.”

“What are you saying, Seven? That these peaceful people, who show no signs of even having any weapons, were able to defeat four Borg cubes so quickly?”

“Yes, Captain. The Borg spent years analyzing the force that destroyed our vessels, but after several inconclusive analyses, the Topara were designated as an inefficient use of resources. They were ignored in favor of other species who added to the greater whole of the Collective.”

Janeway found herself smirking despite herself. “In other words, the Borg found someone who they couldn’t touch, and decided it was best to leave them alone instead of taking a wild gamble.”

Now, Seven did turn to look at Janeway. “The Topara have technology capable of destroying the Borg. Or they had that capability almost four hundred years ago. They have remained hidden since then. Do not assume that because a species is hostile to the Borg that they will be your allies.”

Seven looked at the Captain now, her eyes traveling up and down. “You intend to initiate first contact with the Topara?”

“I do, Seven,” Janeway said. Seven’s words certainly led credence to the Toparan claims that only friendly species could find them. “Care to join me?”

Seven raised a skeptical eyebrow. “Captain?”

“You’re no longer part of the Collective, Seven, and you can only learn so much about a civilization by scanning them from orbit. From what they’ve told me, hostile people can’t approach them. So, unless you’re planning to assimilate them, you could have a chance to see things that no drone has ever witnessed.”

Janeway could see the gears turning in Seven’s head. She could almost hear the young woman’s fear of the Topara vying with her curiosity. One thing that the Borg and the Federation had in common was a yearning for knowledge. Janeway hoped that the chance to study the galaxy without hurting anyone would convince Seven to remain on Voyager. She’d been getting a bit touchy lately about her evolution as a human, but Janeway knew that Seven was still a person deep down.

Finally, the tall, blonde woman inclined her head. “I will join you, Captain. Do you mean to depart now?”

“Yes. Are you ready, Seven?”

“No. But, I will adapt.”

The transporter beam deposited the away team in an open-air garden with a number of Topara walking about. Most wore dark blue robes, and to their left was a small console at which the two High Clerics were standing with smiles on their faces.

“Welcome to Topa,” the male cleric said warmly. “I am High Cleric Yorei, and this is High Cleric Teya,” he said, gesturing to his companion, both of whom bowed their heads.

Janeway smiled. “I’m Captain Kathryn Janeway. With me is Lieutenant Commander Tuvok, Lieutenant B’Elanna Torres, Ambassador Neelix, and…” Janeway was unsure of what to call Seven. Aside from little Naomi Wildman, she was the only member of the crew without any sort of rank. “…and Expert Seven of Nine,” she said eventually. It was as good a descriptor as any, given the woman’s expertise in any number of subjects.

“Such different names,” Teya said. “Are you all from different species?”

“Mostly, yes,” Janeway said with a smile. “Mister Tuvok is Vulcan. Mister Neelix is Talaxian. Lieutenant Torres’s mother was Klingon, and her father was human. Both of my parents were human, as were Seven of Nine’s parents.”

“To use a number for a name… Forgive us, Captain. We are not blessed with sight. What reason would someone have for such a name?”

It was Seven herself who responded. “I was assimilated by the Borg as a child. Captain Janeway severed my link to the Collective and took me with her.”

Janeway had to stop herself from wincing at Seven’s words. Not only had she confessed to being Borg, which would have to upset these people, but her phrasing of Janeway’s actions sounded harsher than they seemed in the Captain’s eyes. Seven joined us. Did I really take her?

“You were Borg?” Yorei said, obviously alarmed. Again, Janeway hoped this wouldn’t turn into a diplomatic incident.

Teya, however, surprised her. “And as a child, too. We know what the Borg are, but we are protected by the Guardian. And now you have confirmed that you are humans. Truly, this is a momentous day! We only need a Seer now to confirm what you have told us!”

Janeway was taken aback by the pure joy in the High Cleric’s voice. “You’ve had contact with humans before?”

“The Guardian has been waiting almost four centuries for Her kind to come for Her. She knew it was only a matter of time before Her people ceased to bicker amongst themselves and cross the void of space. If this is the fulfillment of the prophecy, then we will have to adapt to life without Her.”

“I’m sorry,” Janeway said, feeling lost. “Are you saying that you worship a human woman? A woman who has lived for almost four hundred years here on your world?”

“In a sense,” Yorei said. “Come with us. We must introduce you to the Weaver. He is the chronicler of our history, and he is a Seer. He will explain everything.”

Janeway was grateful for B’Elanna’s silence, as well as Neelix’s. As much as the Captain admired them, they could be overly verbose – in very different ways – and right now, the Topara had more interesting things to say.

They followed the High Clerics up a flight of stairs onto an elevated walkway with a wall on one side. Stretching the wall was a vast tapestry that seemed to go on forever. At the end they were at, a clear creation myth played out in colored fabrics, and as the High Clerics had said, it seemed to tell the entirety of Toparan history.

Eventually, they came to a third Toparan, who stood waiting, hands clasped in front of him, a smile on his face. Unlike the High Clerics, his eyes had dark red pupils and black irises. “Can it be?” he said, evidently awestruck. “Another human, at long last!”

“Call it two and a half,” Janeway said with a chuckle. B’Elanna growled something behind her. “Most of our crew is human, and we are on a long journey home.”

“You must tell them of our history since the Guardian came to us, Gleffen,” Teya said to him.

“Of course, High Cleric,” the Weaver – apparently of the tapestry – called Gleffen said. “It begins right here,” he said, gesturing to the work of art on his right. He pointed at black shapes in the sky.

“The Borg came. They sent small ships, scouts for what our clerics told us was a scourge like no other. We had no defense that would prove adequate, so we attempted to flee.”

He walked a few steps and gestured to a shining blue thing surrounded by robed figures. “The Clerics opened a portal to another world, hoping to allow our people time to flee while they held the way open.”

Janeway stood in awe as she listened to – and watched – the tale unfold. The Clerics of Toparan society had some sort of psychokinetic power, it seemed. To open a gate based on force of will… There were stories of species that could do such things, but they were few, and even fewer of those stories were accurate. And that wasn’t counting non-corporeal beings like the Q.

Weaver Gleffen continued the story. “But the other side of the portal was already occupied. A world called Earth, so far away. Before any of our number could cross, we were intercepted by those called Slayers and Watchers. They guarded their Earth against threats from Beyond, which they feared we were. The Slayers carried weapons that we had not seen since our Darkest Age, and we were afraid.”

Janeway saw a picture of women – No, more like girls – wielding bladed weapons. One with blonde hair held a wicked red weapon that looked like a combination of an axe and a scythe with a sharp point on the handle.

“But they did not rush in and attack us. They merely guarded their side of the rift while they sent the most powerful of their number to seal the rift,” Gleffen said as he gestured to an image of a red-haired human woman in flowing green robes.

“We pleaded with them to grant us sanctuary, but they would not listen. They feared us and knew not that we were harmless.

“And then the Borg came.” Gleffen pointed to what was obviously a Borg cube looming in the sky. “The one the Slayers had sent to seal the rift felt the power of the Borg, and She knew with certainty that we were truthful. She looked and saw our civilization, and She told us that She would not let it perish.

“She remained here, on our world, while others with Power sealed the rift behind her. She trapped Herself here and destroyed the first of the Borg invaders before they could take any of us, but not before they made their intentions clear.”

“They hailed you,” Seven of Nine said from behind Janeway.

Gleffen made a gesture that Janeway assumed was holy to him. “Yes. They spoke with one voice that was many, and they told us that we would become like them. But the human proclaimed Herself our Guardian, and She protected us.

“The Borg came again, the next year. This time, their cubes numbered three,” and he pointed to the tapestry where three cubes hung in the sky, though they seemed small next to a light emitted by the red-haired woman. “The Guardian protected us again, but it cost Her. She glimpsed into the mind of the enemy, and she was stricken with horror. She turned Herself to stone to allow Herself to heal.

“For the next century, at each equinox and at each solstice, She would emerge for that day to take in the changes in our world. After one hundred years, She had healed, and she had grown stronger. But she could not delay the passage of time. She held onto the belief that others of her race would grow to explore and would come to Topa in time. So She set herself in stone again, emerging four times a year, all the while casting Her magicks to protect us.”

Gleffen gestured and walked along the path, showing the progresses in Toparan technology over the years, and the sky now glowed. The red-haired woman, now clearly made of dark stone, stood prominently in many features. One showed her as a woman, meeting an alien species that Janeway did not recognize.

“Yes, fortune smiled on us that day. A race of friends came to us at the Autumnal Equinox, and the Guardian was witness to it. We celebrate all days as holy when we meet new species, but days such as this one are truly extraordinary.

“And now, you are here at last, to take Her home,” Gleffen said with glee. “I only regret that you will not be here to see this addition to the tapestry. Earth must be far away, and you will need to make from here with speed. But the Guardian will help you, I am sure of it.”

“Thank you, Weaver Gleffen,” Yorei said to him. “We will take the Captain and her friends to see the Guardian now.”

“Be safe on your journey, good friends!” Gleffen said happily with a bow of his head. “Do take care of our Guardian.”

“Thank you, Weaver,” Janeway said neutrally, but internally she was terribly confused. A human woman had beaten back Borg cubes with what the Topara called magic. And based on the weapons that the so-called ‘Slayers’ had been using, their portal might have opened to a time in Earth’s past. Warrior women were one thing, but magic? That was just preposterous. Unless it was a future Earth in which humans have evolved such powers. The possibilities were either very many or very few. It was unlikely, however, that the Topara were lying. They’d have had no way of knowing that Voyager was even out here, after all.

Descending another flight of stairs, the Captain followed the two High Clerics into the garden-temple that they had visited earlier and walked further down a central path. “There is one final test,” Teya said carefully. “The only thing that can awaken the Guardian, other than a change of the seasons, is the touch of another of Her kind. Or so She has said. Come. She awaits.”

A small altar waited up ahead, surrounded by flowers and carved stone. Atop the dais was a dark gray statue of a woman – more like a girl – sitting cross-legged. She looked happy and peaceful. And she was definitely human.

Janeway was awestruck. Here was a human face thousands of light years away from where any humans should be. Was this all some sort of scam? Or a trap? Or was it really what the Topara said it was? Could this really be a woman with some sort of extraordinary power? And if it was, should the Captain be the one to make such a potentially dangerous decision?

“Captain,” Tuvok said, as if to remind her of her responsibilities as a Commanding Officer.

“Yes, Tuvok, I know. Thank you,” she said in a clipped voice. “Seven?” Janeway asked. “Would you care to do the honors?” she asked, looking to her newest crew member. In all likelihood, nothing would happen. But if it did, well, Tuvok had a point.

Why was the Captain asking her, of all people, to be the one to touch the statue? This power was just as likely to harm Borg as it was to respond kindly to humans. Seven knew that the Captain followed certain protocols very strictly, but she was usually one to risk herself for things she saw as important. Seven's lack of rank and standing in this matter served to drive home to her just how much she didn't fit in on Voyager.

“No,” she said flatly. “If the Toparan claims are true, and I do not see why they could not be, then such a person would be incredibly dangerous. I refuse to take that risk just because I am the only other full-blooded human present.”

“Oh, come on, Seven,” Neelix said brightly. “This is an amazing opportunity! An attempt to explore your humanity some more! Go on, just touch the statue. It can’t hurt you.” And with those words, Neelix pushed the ex-drone forward towards the altar. The heels that the Doctor had added to her biosuit did not help her balance.

“What are you doing? Stop!” But Seven found herself stumbling towards the statue, before tripping on a stone and collapsing into the carving. Seven’s hands found the figure’s shoulders and kept her head from smacking into stone.

But when Seven refocused her eyes, she was no longer looking at a statue. A young woman, close to her own age, she guessed, looked up at her. Long red hair and bright green eyes highlighted a smiling face.

Seven stumbled to her feet until she stood on the altar, towering over the sitting human girl. She was smiling, but she would figure out what had happened before too long, and then they would all be doomed.

To her surprise, the red-haired woman, the so-called Guardian just took in Seven, looking her up and down with a happy look on her face. “Pretty woman. Good dream. Sleep now. G’night.” She then fell sideways onto the altar with her eyes closed. She seemed to be resting peacefully.

Lieutenant Torres was failing to hide her laughter from behind Seven. “Well, well. Looks like you have an admirer, Seven. At least until she finds out what you are.”

“B’Elanna!” Janeway said harshly, “not here. Not now. Understood?”

Suitably chastised, Torres sobered up. “Yes, Captain.”

Mentally, Seven took in the situation. The woman was definitely human, and definitely capable of some sort of power beyond the norm for the species. It was also possible that she was another species entirely. Plenty of aliens were very similar in appearance to humans.

Captain Janeway’s combadge chirped. “Chakotay to Janeway,” Seven heard the commander say.

The Captain looked to the High Clerics and excused herself, but Seven listened in. Borg implants in her brain and inner ear gave her enhanced hearing. It could be both a gift and a curse, given the proper circumstances.

“Go ahead,” Janeway said once she seemed sure of her isolation.

“Our sensors just showed us two very unusual things. Another human life sign appeared at your position.”

Seven could hear the glee in the Captain’s voice. “I’ll explain when we get back to the ship. She’ll be coming with us.”

“All right. But you should come straight to the bridge as soon as you all get out of sickbay.”

“What’s the matter, Chakotay? What else did the sensors tell you?”

Seven heard a deep breath that she had learned was generally a herald of ill news. “A moment after our new human appeared, the screens all showed the same thing, and they won’t revert back to normal. It’s Omega, Captain.”

Omega? Here? Particle 010, as it was known to the Borg, was the very embodiment of perfection. Myriad independent parts working as one, a single Omega molecule had the same power output as a Starfleet warp core. If it collapsed and destabilized, it could destroy subspace and prevent warp travel in the affected area. But if harnessed… Seven had stared into the face of a stable Omega molecule a few weeks ago before it had been destroyed, and it had been so intense. It had been as if Omega was looking into her as much as she was looking into it.

And it appeared at the same moment that the Guardian awoke. What does that make her? Captain Janeway had challenged Seven about the Borg’s theories regarding Omega. She had wondered if they were actually beliefs, as if the Borg looked up to something like a higher power. In a way, she was not wrong.

Omega would explain the Guardian’s power. What is she? Seven found it incredibly disconcerting when the most appropriate word in her vast vocabulary seemed to be ‘goddess.’

“Seven? Seven!”

The ex-drone turned her head sharply to see Janeway standing there. “Are you all right?”

She nodded out of habit. “Yes, Captain.”

“We’re returning to the ship. I’ve already explained to the Topara that we will be in orbit for a little while, and we’re taking our new friend with us. We’ll all go to sickbay, make sure we don’t have any alien germs on us, and then I need your help. Omega just appeared here, at the precise moment that you touched that statue. I don’t see how it’s now a human, but it is. Do you have any theories?”

“No, Captain,” Seven lied, refusing to divulge her sudden belief in this woman’s existence as a higher power. Such a belief was a weakness that she would not allow. But Seven could not deny the inadequacy she felt in the presence of what she could only call a goddess.

The Captain sighed. “Well, we have our work cut out for us.” She slapped her combadge. “Janeway to Voyager. Six to beam up. Energize.”

Greetings, dear readers! I do not own Star Trek or Buffy or any of the characters created within those television shows, accompanying comics, etc. This is just my little story playing in two great sandboxes made by others.

This story begins after the end of Season Seven of BTVS, and near the end of Season Four of Voyager. Specifically, after the episode 'Unforgettable,' but before the episode 'One.'

Reviews are always welcome and appreciated. They help me write a better story.

Special Thanks to christytrekkie for beta-reading this chapter.

With all that said, I hope you all enjoy this story! Take care, everyone! ^_^
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