THE ALLIANCE
by Robert Morganbesser

CHAPTER 2: PARTY

The USS Voyager, NCC-74656, an Intrepid-Class vessel had, at one time been the cutting edge of Federation technology. That had been six years ago. Now, while she was still top of the line, the years away from Starfleets extensive series of yards and repair depots, had forced the crew to replicate, replace and rebuild. Fortunately, there were enough space-going races in the Delta Quadrant and the ships replicators were good enough to keep the ship well supplied in trade goods.

Recently, the ship had discovered an asteroid belt in an uninhabited system circling a dying class-J star. In one of the asteroids, they had found an amazing discovery: 12 metric tons of natural dilithium crystals. The ship had pounced on the find, waiting to see if as was all too usual, they were trespassing. But for once, nothing had happened. The crew had been able to retrieve and refine the dilithium. After refining, the 12 tons had become 2 tons of some of the most perfect dilithium even B'Elanna had ever seen. Once several of the crystals had been set in the dilithium matrix, ships engine output had actually increased by 2.4 percent. Happily on their way, Captain Janeway had given permission for a party.

Neelix, resplendent in a Talaxian (his homeworld, long behind them) welcoming robe of so many colors it would make a rainbow grimace with despair, met each member of the crew as they entered. Even Tuvok, who had been the last crewmember to actually set aside his dislike of the energetic little alien, had arrived. As Neelix glanced around the crew lounge, he noticed only two of the crew was missing - The Doctor and Seven of Nine. Pausing to hand out another tray of Vulcan canapés (a bluish cheese on a red vegetable based cracker, they were quite popular with the crew) he wondered where they were.

In Sickbay, the Doctor was admiring his handiwork. For a while now he had thought that his good friend Seven's collection of uniforms set her apart from the ship. Unknown to her, he had asked the Captain permission to make her a regular uniform. The captain, after deliberation decided that Seven were not only a member of the crew, but also a valued member. After speaking with Chakotay, whose time with his Maquis had given him a more than usual open mindedness about the affair, agreed. It was high time that Seven graduated to a new uniform.

The Doctor turned his back as Seven removed her blue jumpsuit. Skin tight, it contained sensors that kept watch on her Borg implants and made sure she was taking some of her nutrition in energy form. As she removed the uniform, she looked at the Doctor. "Is there something wrong, Doctor? Why have you turned away?"

Back to her, the EMH replied, "Well Seven when a woman undresses in front of a man, unless they are... involved, it's polite to grant the woman some privacy."

"I do not understand." Seven said. "When you did surgery on me to remove my implants, did you not see me nude? Why is now different?"

The Doctor listened as she fastened her new uniform closed. "Well, Seven, seeing you when I'm doing my duty is one thing, now is personal time. I don't want to..."

"To embarrass me?" Seven completed his sentence. "I have no false modesty Doctor. Along with Naomi Wildman, you are my closest... friend on board Voyager. I do not feel uncomfortable in your presence. Either way, I am finished. How do I look?"

The Doctor turned. Seven stood there in a regulation Starfleet jumpsuit with only one difference. The Doctor had created a new designator for Seven. Since she was equally at home in either the sciences or engineering departments, rather than having either designator, she had both. A strip of mustard split the green of science neatly. Seven turned her head slightly and raised a brow. "Well?

The Doctor hesitated before answering. "Seven, it's you. How does it feel?"

Seven crossed the distance between them. "It is more comfortable. Looser. The side pockets will be efficient for carrying tools." On impulse she leaned forward and kissed the EMH on his forehead. Surprised, a shy smile lit up his face. "Why, Seven. Thank you."

Seven smiled a quick lifting of her full lips. "I have been studying human behavior again. Small personal gestures go a far way with them. I am pleased that it made you happy."

The Doctor pulled at his collar, a programmed response since he was photons and forcefields, currently held together by a bit of 29th century Federation technology, he said, "Have you ever..."

"No," said Seven. "You are the recipient of my first kiss. Did I do it correctly?"

The Doc smiled broadly and offered Seven his arm. "Very well done. Now, I believe the party has already started. Shall we go."

Seven put out her arm. She hadn't lied. The Doctor was her favorite, with Naomi Wildman a close second. "Yes, I believe we shall be fashionably late."

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