Sunday, November 12, 2023

"Who I Am"

By Christina Moore


The confrontation with Ja-Nareth had been … unpleasant. She hadn’t expected it to be otherwise.

Reflecting on her reaction to his challenge—“…does it ever bother you—even for a fraction of a second—that you are personally responsible for ending thousands, if not millions, of lives?”—the emotions she had experienced and how she had expressed them, Annika Hansen came to the realization that while her past as a drone and the actions she had taken during those years should not be held against her, they were undoubtedly a part of her. Her experiences while a part of the Borg Collective as Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero-One, remained in her memory, much as she had come to wish she could forget.

Annika Hansen, the six-year-old girl whose parents’ arrogance had overridden their duty to keep her safe—the memories she had regained from her short life before assimilation—was a part of her.

Seven of Nine, most often just “Seven” to the Voyager crew, had been reborn, in a way, when she was liberated from the Collective and forced to relearn how to live her life as an individual. Captain Janeway had suggested at the beginning of her journey that she use her birth name, but she had lost her connection to that little girl a long time ago. Seven of Nine was the “designation” she was familiar with. It was … comfortable because it was the only name, at the time, that she remembered.

Starfleet had recognized her services to Voyager and her crew by granting her application for a commission, backed by the recommendation of not only Captain Janeway, but the entire Voyager senior staff, a vast majority of the crew, and the evaluations that had been conducted by Jean-Luc Picard and the head of Starfleet Medical’s psychiatric division. Their caveat had been that she had to use her birth name, as they weren’t about to put a designation from one of the Federation’s greatest enemies on the roster. She had agreed to the condition, but…

…it didn’t feel right.

A moment before she had walked away from Ja-Nareth, she’d made the statement that she wanted to “…do whatever is within my power to demonstrate that Annika Hansen is no longer Seven of Nine.” She’d refused Chakotay’s offer of a position on his staff because she’d realized after their return that while the crew had helped her to accept and even embrace her humanity, and she truly appreciated them for it, she needed to prove—mainly to herself, but also to Starfleet—that she could function without them. Serving with Chakotay again would have been easy. It would have been comfortable.

It would have been a step in the wrong direction. If she was going to prove to Starfleet Command that a former Borg drone could be trusted, could be a functioning and reliable officer, then she needed to find out who she was without a member of her “new collective” at hand to rely on. And that meant a billet on a new ship full of people she’d never met before, strangers whose trust and respect she would have to earn just as she had with Captain Janeway and the crew of Voyager.

In the five weeks she had spent on the runabout Gladden, traveling from Earth to Starbase Echo, she’d managed to make new two new friends. The Vulcan security officer, Inel, had appreciated her efficiency and lack of emotionalism. The Sivaoan scientist, Sharp Smile to-Catsland, was so eager to make new friends herself that she had declared her new shipmates were her friends before she’d even begun to know them. Captain Murphy had been respectful, Dr. Nir’ahn and Counselor Roijiana compassionate, and she believed her subordinates in Stellar Sciences admired her to varying degrees. She had made friends among the Alphans after their moon had crossed through a dimensional barrier. She’d been pleased to inform the various Voyager crew members with whom she’d communicated in the last couple of months that she was “doing very well” among her new shipmates.

Captain Murphy called her Lt. Hansen, or just Hansen. Sharp Smile and Maya Verdeschi called her Annika. Captain Janeway and the Doctor called her Seven. Annika was who she had been, Seven was who she had become. Hansen is who Starfleet wanted her to be.

Why could she not be who she wanted to be?

Well over an hour had passed with her staring out of the viewport in her quarters after walking away from Ja-Nareth, going over their confrontation in her mind. Going over her years on Voyager, the months of her accelerated academic training, and the weeks she had been aboard Messenger. One thing had become clear to her: she needed to take firm control of her life, starting with her identity.

With that in mind, Annika Hansen left her quarters and sought out her captain, who happened to be having a conference with the ship’s counselor. This suited her, as she would appreciate the psychiatrist’s point of view. She presented her thoughts to them in a clear and concise manner, and the pair nodded occasionally, asking for clarification now and then, and when she had done, they looked at one another.

Roijiana looked back at her after a moment and said, “And what conclusions have all your reflections brought you to?”

Drawing a breath, she replied, “Although I conceded to the demand, I was not pleased to be forced to use an identity that I could not remember to placate the delicate sensibilities of others. However, I have found that I do like when my new friends address me as Annika. Further, I went by Seven of Nine for four years, and as I stated to Captain Janeway from the start, it is the name I am most familiar with. I have concluded that in order to become the most proficient Starfleet officer I can be—the best individual I can be—the choice of who I am should be my own. I intend to integrate who I was with who I became to be who I am… and the first step will be to change my name to one of my choosing.”

“Command might fight you on it, Lieutenant, but I will fully support you being who you want to be,” Captain Murphy said. “What name do I put on the crew manifest?”

“I wish to be known as Annika Seven.”