By Elizabeth Carter
Seven looked at the tall frosty glass of her nutritional supplement but made no move to take it in hand. B'Elanna watched with an amused smirk. 'She looks so cute pouting like that she reminds me of Spike when told to eat her cauliflower and brussel sprouts.' Aloud the young Klingon chuckled. 'Just like her ahhhh my poor Seven "
"What do you find amusing?" Seven broke into the mirth.
A silver implant went up. And a heavy sigh escaped. Before she could rise, Lanna placed a restraining hand upon the left mesh-covered hand.
"You're kinda all pouty like Spike."
"Borg do not pout." Seven said coolly.
"But you're not Borg Sev you're ex-Borg, former-Borg. Sev you're more human than cybernetic. And humans pout." 'Boy she really is sensitive '
"Adults do not pout." Seven tried again.
"Sure they do. Only WE call it brooding. Same thing."
"You would brood too, if you went from gourmet to this what did you call it goo?"
Seven ducked her head. She didn't want to admit that was all it took to make her yield. Taking the glass, she decided just to drink it down as quickly as she could, but as soon as the flavor hit her tongue, blue eyes flashed in surprise. "It tastes like banana pancakes!"
'It takes so little to make her happy.' B'Elanna grinned 'Easier than Tom ever was. And easier on the eyes Bad B'Elanna! Bad B'Elanna!!! You don't want to sound like those crewmen .'
The smile widened on the alabaster face. "You programmed the replicator to make the supplements...palatable. Banana pancakes. They have become my favorite meal."
"Well yeah I mean there's no reason you have to eat something nasty "
"Thank you. It was incredibly thoughtful of you." The smile was wider.
B'Elanna shrugged, feeling a little embarrassed, but she returned Seven's smile. A smile she could gaze at forever. 'She's so beautiful when she smiles and she doesn't know it.'
"Seven, I've been thinking. You can eat leeolah root stew..." The ex-Borg made a sour face causing the Klingon to chuckle. "Yeah, me too. But it's more solid than a real stew, but you can consume it. And when you were Borg you could consume um bio-matter."
"Yes." Seven arched an eyebrow. Which meant, 'where are you going with this?' "Yes when my former Unimatrix crash landed upon a planet, we were forced to hunt and slay an animal for bio-matter. We ate it around the campfire."
"Okay good. My point, Sev, is that your body might be finicky right now and sensitive, but with a slow introduction to more solids, and I think you will be able to eat like the rest of us."
"I could consume banana pancakes?"
"I will comply." Those blue eyes were now twinkling. "I have found that consuming food is not irrelevant, now that I have tasted . 'the good stuff' as Naomi would call it."
B'Elanna chuckled. "Well if I had to eat that goo I would have said same thing about 'consuming nutritional supplements'. A constant diet of that, and I wouldn't find any enjoyment in food either."
"So you said in Chakotay's quarters, you really don't have very many things? Why not?"
"I had no place to put them. Acquiring personal items seemed illogical and ill-advised in such surroundings. I have my parents' records from the Raven " The last bit was said with unmistakable scorn. "Drawings by NaomiWildman, my PADDs containing repartees of songs... and a holoimage of the twins, Mizoti as well as One."
Seven looked away unable to maintain both dignity and eye contact. B'Elanna recognized that expression. It was one she carried herself when she thought of her departed friends in the Maquis and now, since the ordeal with the Barge of the Dead, even her mother. It was the expression of loss, pain and even regret.
The young Klingon placed a hand upon her shoulder, just squeezing it. Words were not necessary; all was conveyed in that small touch.
Lieutenant Amanda Rothery was more than puzzled at the reports she gained from the Cargo bay's traffic. Naomi Wildman was a frequent visitor, which was not on the whole something to take a great deal of notice of. After all, the bay housed her best friend. There was activity from both the maintenance crews and Engineering; also nothing to make an issue of as it was common traffic for the bay.
What was uncommon was that for two days Seven of Nine had not entered the area at all.
Though considering that the surveillance scans in front of the Torres quarters, Amanda could figure out why. Seven had been spending time with her Lieutenant.
Another uncommon note was an entry from the one of the bridge crew. Who ever it was had taken pains not to be noticed. That caused it to be noticed. The Lieutenant had a strong hunch as to whom it was that violated protocol and went to investigate. She would not go to the Captain with half speculative evidence. She knew her captain well, and Janeway did not like unfounded speculations and reports that were not complete.
Naomi Wildman missed seeing her friend, Seven. More than that, she was worried for her. Seven hadn't been herself in the last two and a half days. The child decided to do what Seven would respect. Blunt confrontation. If Seven was sick or feeling bad because of the fight that had happened a couple of days ago in Engineering, Naomi wanted to help. Seven always took a couple of days to get over the more fiery arguments. No one but Naomi knew how deep Seven could be affected. Well Mommy knew, but she really didn't count. Naomi wanted to make Seven feel better. Someway, somehow the seven-year-old Katerian would make it right.
Sitting in Seven's alcove, the child looked up to the ceiling of the cove and frowned. After sitting in the Alcove off and on from the time she knew Seven, Naomi was familiar with every nook and cranny of the Borg device. What caught her eye was a bit of metal that didn't belong. Being as tall as Seven, the ex-Borg would have never noticed it. But from the perspective someone standing only 48 inches tall, she saw it clearly.
"Curiouser and curiouser." She would never be able to reach it without help. Naomi, as with all children, was inventive. Taking an anti-grav device she locked it onto one of the storage containers, as she was too weak to lift it unaided. She then moved the containment unit in place with a mighty heave sending the floating box to the alcove. She turned off the anti-grav device and waited for the box to land hard. She then crawled up onto the box so that she could reach the "alien" metallic button-thing on Seven's alcove.
Amanda chose that moment to enter the cargo bay. What she saw made her go into a dead run.
"Naomi Wildman!" She snapped.
The voice was so abrupt and so sharp that Naomi became startled. Her brief fright almost made her lose her balance. She clutched the side of the Alcove to give her support and stared at the acting Chief of Security.
"Hey, kiddo, you okay?"
"Yeah. You scared me." Naomi breathed a little steadier.
"Sorry about that." Blonde eyebrows rose into unruly golden hair. "So what are you up too?"
"Well something's wrong with Seven's alcove. Maybe that's why she's acting weird. Like that time she downloaded all the data from Voyager data banks before. You know?"
"Yes, I remember." Amanda smiled. "But why don't we have Seven look at it." The young officer was never squeamish about Seven or the alcoves, but having a child playing with them caused alarm-bells to go off. "Come down from there. I'll even catch you if you jump."
Naomi looked at the odd addition to the alcove, and to her it looked like some sort of node from Sickbay. "Just a minute I want to see this."
"Captain's Assistant Wildman." Amanda sharpened her voice to that of dressing down a junior officer. "You will comply with your orders now. Snap to it and get down from there."
Naomi filled with pride having been addressed as a crewman rather than a mere member of the ship's complement. "Yes ma'am." She said with self-importance. "But let me just take a look at this." The small hand reached up for the device she was sure belonged in sickbay.
"Request denied. I'm going to count to three young lady and if you don't get down, I am going to pull you down," Rothery said sternly. Though privately Amanda was growing more concerned. Because the cargo container was end-to-end Naomi was out of reach for the young woman to just to pluck her down and return her to the earth well floor. Naomi would either have to climb down or jump.
"Okay just a minute "
"Just a sec... I am only looking ."
Naomi reached up and touched the device. It was enough to make a connection between the wires of the device and the alcove. Sparks flared, striking the girl in the face and chest. She screamed out as fingers of errant electricity struck her in the chest causing her to fly back. Rothery caught her before the girl landed. Both landed on the metal floor of the bay.
B'Elanna's combadge beeped loudly. "Engineering to Lieutenant Torres."
A caramel hand slapped the badge "What is it Carey?"
"Chief there was an EM flux in Cargo bay two; it had some rebound effects in Engineering . Close that down!" The last bit was obviously given to someone other than B'Elanna.
"So much for two days off. Come on Sev." B'Elanna moved away from the table leaving her meal of pasta salad half eaten.
Amanda spun around, holding the very still child to her body. She wasn't breathing.
"No Naomi! No! Don't you do this!" The blonde ordered. She lay the child down onto the floor, tilted her head back and with one hand she pinched the button nose tight then clapped her mouth over the child's own, breathing life back into the tiny lungs. She pulled away, her large doe shaped, dark chocolate eyes glistening in tears as the girl was still not breathing. She pushed upon the little chest then began the CPR once more. "Naomi!"
The tiny breath flooded out in a fit of coughing.
"Good Girl!" Amanda cheered. "Good girl!"
The tiny half-Katerian took in greedy gulps of air. "That wasn't fun."
Amanda kissed the child's forehead and could not help but give a smile of relief. "We'd better get you to Sickbay."
"Amanda?" Naomi whimpered. She tried to be brave like Seven like B'Elanna. But she couldn't help the tears that fell. "My back hurts so much "
The acting Security-Chief frowned. "Computer emergency site to site transport to sickbay Naomi Wildman and Amanda Rothery."
The computer chirped its compliance and soon the familiar blue shimmering light encased the two females. Their bodies would rematerialize in Sickbay.
In Engineering, B'Elanna and Seven arrived and quickly sprinted to the controls where Carey was standing.
"Report." Both said at the same time. Had it been any other circumstances, it might have been cause to laugh. But now was not the time.
"There was an EM surge coming from the power relays that connect to the Borg Alcoves. I don't know what it was, but it was enough to generate 10,000 v of electricity. Seven it was a good thing you weren't regenerating." Carry shivered thinking what could have happened.
No one had to explain it to either the ex-Borg or the Chief. With the Borg implants and nanobites in Seven's blood, the power would have been augmented. That much power coursing in the enhanced body would have been equivalent to 200,000 v per cubic cm surge. She would have died. The circuitry would have fried and there would be no way to repair the damage to the implants. Had she only been human, she might have withstood the 10,000 v, but not the overpowering flux.
B'Elanna wanted to know why such a thing would happen. She was after all the one to align the power to the Alcoves. After all these years nothing had gone a miss. This was not supposed to happen. Something must be wrong at the source.
As if she was telepathic Seven nodded her head. "I'll go there now and investigate."
"I'll be with you in a moment. I am getting some readings. Run a diagnostic, Sev."
The blonde nodded. As she was about to turn on her heel, an alarm went off. The console in front of B'Elanna sparked. The Klingon backed away but not before it exploded. Seven was standing close. She reacted faster than anyone could have expected. She took hold of B'Elanna, talking her to the ground.
"Ooouuffffff!" B'Elanna coughed out as the air went whooshing from her lungs when the ex-Borg landing on top of her.
On the bridge, the voice of the Doctor piped over the comsystem. "Captain."
"Doctor, what can I do for you?" Janeway answered softly.
"There has been an incident in Cargo Bay two with the Borg Alcoves. I think you should come down to Sickbay ." There was a pause. "You better hurry."
At the helm, Tom Paris only smiled widely as a field of stars streaked by.
Janeway tore into Sickbay expecting to see Seven of Nine on a bio bed. What she didn't expect was to see Samantha Wildman hovering over her daughter. "Doctor report!" The Captain demanded. The EMH's summoning sounded dire and Janeway wanted answers.
The Doctor was buzzing around the child, running a dermal regenerator over her body as her mother continued to hold her hand. "There was an explosion in the main alcove. Naomi was electrocuted. There was some respiration failure, but she'll be fine now, thanks to Lieutenant Rothery's quick action." The holographic physician reported. "She also suffered two and three degree burns on her hands and abdominal region. And she suffered three slipped discs. Her major organs were not damaged as they were well oxygenated. Thanks to my superior medical knowledge and skill I suspect out littlest crewmember will have a full recovery. However I want to keep her over night for observation."
Janeway moved up to the bio-bed, concern flooding gray-blue eyes. Samantha had yet to let go of her sleeping daughter's hand, as she feathered back the red-gold locks of hair from the angelic face. "Samantha?" Janeway said in a hushed tone. She placed a gentle hand upon the mother's shoulder trying to convey both her concern and her strength.
Lieutenant Rothery was still standing back her arms folded over her chest, her dark eyes never lifting from the girl. "I should have taken her down Ma'am."
"Taken her down?" Janeway frowned. "What happened in there?"
"Naomi said she saw something abnormal with the alcove. That was why she was standing on a storage container. She was a bit out of my reach but I should have forced her down. Been firmer She was trying to disengage the device. I think when I first startled her she must have trigged the alcove and activated it " Amanda stopped winced as her emotions betrayed her, though she did not outwardly allow herself to tear up, she had to take a moment to breath. When she started to speak again she had told both the Captain and Samantha what exactly had happened in the Cargo bay.
It was then the doors to Sickbay opened and Seven was helping a limping B'Elanna into the room. "What happened?" The Doctor was beside himself that the crewmembers went off and injured themselves. "You two haven't been at again have you?"
That earned him a glare for two sets of eyes one ice blue, one coffee brown.
"A console exploded in front of the Lieutenant as a result from a feed back loop from a power fluctuation from the Borg alcoves. We have yet to determine the cause " Seven explained. She would have gone further into detail but seeing Naomi asleep on the bed she stopped and stared.
"Why is Naomi here? How was she damaged?!" The ex-Borg demanded in a voice that was unmistakably motherly. Logically if the child was in Sickbay she was damaged. But the cause was not as apparent.
The Captain skirted around the bed and took Seven by the arm as Amanda helped B'Elanna onto the bio-bed. The fiery Klingon sported several burns, a few lacerations, and bruises. Seven had similar injuries. It was evident that the young woman cared little about her own fate as her blue eyes never lifted from Naomi's still body.
"What happened?" The young ex-Borg looked to Amanda for answers. And for the second time that day, the acting Chief of Security relayed the story of the alcove.
"I saw the power flux." B'Elanna commented. "If that blast had hit Seven it would have fused with her, the overload of power would have killed her." Her face winced as she thought of Seven laying dead on the floor of Cargo Bay Two. The electrocution was as if the child had been hit with a bolt of lighting. She had for a moment died, but she was now living and though in some pain she would recover. B'Elanna hated to admit it but even with all her skills she may not have been able to repair Seven's Borg circuitry and implants after the blast.
It was then the young Klingon thought of Spike's dream. Where a rat had hurt Seven and not even B'Elanna could repair the damage. Precognitive dreams. B'Elanna berated herself for not taking the girl more seriously.
Seven hadn't moved from B'Elanna's side, but her eyes never left Naomi.
"Sev, go to her." B'Elanna said giving her companion a gentle nudge.
Blue eyes looked to the disheveled image of B'Elanna. Like Seven herself her hair was in disarray, and she had burns upon her chest and face. The Doctor was treating B'Elanna and the Captain moved to aid the young ex-Borg, but Seven would have none of it. She moved like a specter to the biobed that contained little Naomi.
Samantha looked up when she saw Seven approach the bed. Her own blue eyes filled with ice and distain. "You! This is all your fault!" Samantha roared. "You Borg You stay clear of my child! Its all your fault all your fault. If it wasn't for you and those damn alcoves, my little angel wouldn't be hurt!" Samantha screamed.
Seven paled. "I I "
"GET AWAY FROM HER!" Samantha snarled.
"I am sorry I am sorry " Seven lamented.
"Ensign!" Janeway snapped. "I know you're worried about Naomi but this isn't Seven's fault."
"I I I am so sorry "
"Yes it is! It is her fault! Naomi favors Seven over me she's trying to assimilate my child and when she couldn't have her she... she " Samantha wept and turned back to Naomi.
"I am sorry " Seven backed away, feeling as though she'd been shoved. Her heart hammered in her ears and the sense of spinning intensified into a sickening whirl. Tears glistened in her crystal eyes. She tried to understand but the only thing she knew was that Samantha was right. It was her fault. Not thinking only reacting Seven bolted from sickbay.
Seven couldn't face the idea that it was her fault that Naomi nearly died. But it was. It was the fault of Borg technology. Technology that would not be aboard Voyager if it wasn't for Seven's presence. Seven needed the Alcove to help her survive. Therefore it was Seven's fault, all her fault, that Naomi was hurt. In some twisted logical way it made sense to the young woman. So much so she accepted it without doubt.
Seven made it to Cargo Bay Two without encountering anyone, by the time she made it, the tears were falling freely from a single blue eye as her Borg eye was incapable of shedding tears. Seven saw the dark alcove and rage filled her.
"I HATE THE BORG!" she snarled. Her breath came in large gasps. Shivering in rage and despair Seven drew to the alcove with all the loathing pent-up for her lost life. The alcove was the symbol of everything Borg. Everything she was. The intensity of being lost whipped Seven around, blurred her sight, choked off her breath. Everything was whirling. Reality had come off its hub and careened toward a crash.
Rage became fire. Seven wanted to know flame, wanted to be fire. She was an inferno. Her enhanced hand struck out at the panels of the alcove denting the dense metal. The deuterium held no resistance to her enhanced strength that was fuelled by pure hatred. Each strike, each shredding of metallic bulkheads was cursed by the epithet "I hate the Borg! I hate the Borg!" She was blind to the blood that now oozed freely from her lacerated hands. Roaring her agony as though to drown out the clashing inward voices, Seven flung herself at the Alcoves again and again tearing at it as if she imagined it was the Borg Queen herself. But the alcove's weight and solid construction were too much for even her reckless strength. Finally she was merely holding to it because it was solid and cold against her forehead. It alone did not spin and she had to hold to something. Gasping, shuddering uncontrollably, eyes blank and mind adrift Seven fell into the darkness.
She only heard the words she had heard repeated by other, words she knew renowned members of Star fleet felt keenly. Captain Jean Luc Picard of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D had said 'In their collective state, the Borg are utterly without mercy driven by one will alone: the will to conquer. They are beyond redemption beyond reason.'
"I am so sorry!"
'GET AWAY FROM HER! Naomi favors Seven over me she's trying to assimilate my child and when she couldn't have her she... she ' Samantha Wildman who was once her friend
"Naomi... its my fault my fault I am so sorry ."
Of the U.S.S. Endeavor Captain Amasov, had said, 'It is my opinion that the Borg are as close to pure evil as any race we've ever encountered.'
"I don't want to be evil!"
'We did them a favor. They are mindless drones.' Tom Paris sneeringly commented to Harry Kim.
"I AM NOT A DRONE I AM NOT... I AM AN INDIVIDUAL!!! I AM!"
Individual thought and free will do not exist mindless drones most lethal enemy evil heartless cold evil without redemption beyond reason No will of their own no individuality Ice Queen without redemption evil they assimilate the ship and we fall back they assimilate whole worlds and we fall back the fault of Naomi Wildman's injuries The line had to be drawn HERE!
"I am sorry!"
B'Elanna swallowed hard. She knew Samantha was stricken that her child had been hurt but it wasn't Seven's fault. The young ex-Borg wasn't to blame. But Seven would take the blame. She would never question that it was not her fault.
Moving away from the fussing doctor, B'Elanna came to stand beside Samantha. "You know Seven would never bring harm to that little girl." Teeth gnashed together. "Seven loves that child as if she was her own." B'Elanna swallowed hard. "If Naomi favors Seven its because Seven is an older sister a favored aunty she would never even conceive of replacing you! And Seven gave herself up to that frigging Queen because Naomi was threatened with assimilation, just like the rest of us. Seven gave herself up so that wouldn't happen."
"I know." Samantha said slowly.
"You have no idea what its like for Seven to have that constant reminder of her past! None of you do." B'Elanna snarled. "I am sorry Captain but not even you do as her surrogate mother. It's it's like having to be friends with your rapist for crying out loud! It tears her part she was such a little girl so tiny when the Borg took her. Seven would never hurt Naomi! Never " B'Elanna swallowed her rage, her pain. The first hand knowledge of Seven's memories flooded her own. "Seven trusted you Samantha you told me when I had to be her that she wept on your shoulder because of her encounters with me. I know you're scared for Spike. I could never fault you for that. No one can. But it was an accident Seven isn't to blame. Seven loves and cherishes Naomi." B'Elanna continued to defend the woman that had come to mean so much to her.
"Lieutenant, I'm not so sure that it was an accident." Rothery said.
"Now see here!" The Doctor piped up. "Lieutenant Torres if you would please sit down, I must see to your ribs they are severely bruised and..."
"Not now Doctor." B'Elanna hissed.
"As the CMO I must insist ."
"Computer deactivate the EMH!" The young Klingon roared.
"Now wait just a damn minute!" But the balding hologram dissipated into nothingness.
"That was rude," the Captain said but in truth she really couldn't fault the small Engineer. "Amanda, what do you mean you don't think it was an accident. Surely you don't think Seven would "
"No Captain, not Seven. Actually I think the attack was meant FOR Seven."
B'Elanna's caramel skin paled. "Sabotage?" She looked to the sleeping girl to the weeping mother and to the bio bed that should be holding Seven of Nine.
The tall blonde nodded. "Naomi said just before the electrical explosion that she noticed something that didn't belong. As I said she was reaching for it when she was shocked. Captain, I don't have the proof right now, but I know it was a direct assault on Seven. Only it hit the wrong victim."
"Do you have a suspect?" Janeway folded her arms. She was appalled that someone on her ship would do such a horrific thing.
"I believe I do. But I have no concrete proof." She stepped closer to the Captain. "I think we need to talk." If Tom Paris had indeed succeeded in harming Seven Why go for the kill when you can go for the pain?
The redhead nodded, understanding the need for discretion.
"Seven " B'Elanna uttered and started for the door.
"Lieutenant!" The doctor's voice called out as he came back on line. "You still need medical attention."
"Not now." B'Elanna stifled a grunt of pain as she left Sickbay. She didn't think any more she went on a gut reaction and darted out of the door to follow the tracks of the woman that somehow made a home in her hearts.
"But " the Doctor pouted. "You need medical attention!"
B'Elanna wrapped her arm around her body wincing with each movement as her ribs reminded her they were still bruised and in pain.
"Oh by the gods Sev just don't do something stupid ."
The corridor was far too long. The turbo lift ride took forever .
"My fault all my fault... the Borg! Without redemption without humanity... evil " With blind determination she started to tear at the implants in her own body, as they were a defective part of her. "Please I forgive me "
A mesh hand ripped into flesh and metal. "Remove the defective circuits that's what the Queen said tear it away I am sorry I am sorry "
She must die criminals died. Evil must be eradicated. Seven would comply. Her meshed hand gouged into her flesh futilely ridding herself of the hated Borg taint. It was the Borg that had hurt the innocent life of NaomiWildman.
B'Elanna rushed into Cargo Bay Two and reeled as her senses were assaulted with the thick metal tang of blood. It was so overpowering her Klingon nature reared its head as if she was upon the killing field of a battleground.
Blood pooled around Seven's body. The smallest of whispers came from the younger woman's form. "I am so sorry "
"Oh Seven... what did you do?"
"Evil... the Borg are evil." She uttered. "I hate the Borg I hate the Borg " she wept.
B'Elanna rushed over and took Seven into her arms. It was then she saw for the first time the true extent of her injuries. It looked as if the woman had tangled with a rabid Targ and lost. "Oh God " B'Elanna looked at the abdominal implants. The tears in the flesh and metal Seven had tried to remove the fused metal from her bones. There was so much blood loss. So much damage. "Oh Seven what did you do?" Tears pooled in the dark eyes.
"My fault... so sorry... so sorry..."
"No honey it isn't your fault it was an accident." B'Elanna's hand came away sticky with Seven's blood as she tried to feather back matted locks of blonde hair. "Computer medical emergency. Two to transport directly to sick bay."
"State the nature of the med " the Doctor stopped short when he saw Seven's bloody form cradled in the strong arms of the Klingon.
"What happened?" Three voices chorused. Janeway, the Doctor, and Rothery.
B'Elanna looked over to Samantha. "Apparently she thinks it's her fault that Naomi was hurt she tried to destroy the Borg 'infestation.' Starting with the Alcoves then finally herself."
"That's self-inflicted?" Janeway couldn't believe what she saw.
Amanda was astonished. Seven had been gone for only a half an hour
The Doctor ran a medical tricorder over Seven's shuddering body. If a hologram could pale, The Doctor would have. "Help me get her on to the bio bed."
In a fireman's' carry the Doctor and B'Elanna moved the shattered body of Seven onto the bed.
"Doctor how... how bad is she." B'Elanna demanded.
"Eight broken ribs, a collapsed lung, heart, kidney and liver damage, third degree burns to her chest, and hands. Her left hand has severed tendons, seventeen broken bones, her right fairs no better, with severed tendons and ten shattered bones. And she has several abdominal lacerations that go to the bones and grafted implants, as well as extensive internal bleeding. Not to mention the extensive blood loss. She's in critical condition."
The doctor pushed the young Engineer away from the bed. "Please I need to do surgery right away. Or we may lose her."
"No!' B'Elanna sniffed. "I just found her I am not allowing her to die."
"Lieutenant I am not about to allow her to die. Now please I need to get to work."
Samantha moved to B'Elanna's side and eased her away from the bed. She looked at the uniform front that was stained dark with Seven's blood. "The Doctor will take care of her." Samantha then looked at Seven's bloody mangled body, feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt. The young mother knew it was her words that drove Seven into the self-destructive mode. She had no idea on how to make it up to her, but she was going to try.
Janeway hadn't moved. She stared at the body of the woman she loved Seven was so much a part of Kathryn. Her blue-storm eyes held the same exact expression that Samantha did when she looked upon Naomi. That same helplessness mothers have when their child is beyond their capability to heal them to make it better.
Amanda wrapped her arm around her captain and escorted the older woman away. "Captain "
"Lieutenant. You find all the evidence you can " She turned her blue-ghost eyes to the young blonde. "However you can."
"Aye Captain." Rothery nodded. Her long fingered hand was still on the small of the Captain's back. "I promise you I'll get to the bottom of this."
"My fault " Seven murmured from the bio-bed. "I hate the Borg my fault I am sorry Naomi I am so sorry I am sorry "
There was a hiss as the Doctor injected Seven with a sedative and she became still.
B'Elanna wouldn't leave Sickbay. She paused watching as the Doctor proceeded with the extensive surgery. The self-inflicted wounds as well as the injuries taken from the exploding console and the destruction of the alcoves had taken its toll on the young woman.
"Lieutenant I need your help." The doctor sounded worried.
B'Elanna's skills as an engineer and her knowledge of Borg technology were essential to the surgical process that was needed to save Seven's life. Time was not their friend. Both the doctor and B'Elanna fought a seemingly futile battle to save Seven's life. Twice Seven needed to be resuscitated on the operating table.
B'Elanna wasn't the only one who refused to leave. Janeway waited, watching, praying. Samantha Wildman sat near Naomi's bedside, praying, berating herself for what she had caused to happen. From all the arguments and fights that the Chief of Engineering had had with Seven none of them had made her react in such a volatile way. Seven had wept yes, she had fumed but she had never resorted to self-destruction. Seven had resorted to self-mutilation because Naomi had been hurt. A child of innocence. A child hurt because of Borg technology. A child not unlike Annika Hansen so many years ago had suffered.
Seven was bound and determined to insure Naomi: a sister, a niece a sort of surrogate daughter would be safe. All it took for Seven to fall was the heated words of a mother. It was obviously apparent that Kathryn Janeway was not the only one who held such a reverence for guilt. Seven of Nine had plenty of her own. Samantha Wildman wasn't one to easily give up on her own guilt, either. Because of what she had said, of what she had accused Seven of, the younger woman had sought to end the torment.
"Seven you get better Naomi needs her kadis-kot partner she needs her best friend her aunty she needs you Seven she loves you " Samantha looked down at her folded hands and wept silent tears. 'So do I I need my sister back I am sorry Seven I didn't think I know your heart and I didn't think I am sorry. Seven...'
Lieutenant Amanda Rothery, Acting Security Chief because Tuvok was still in the throes of Pon Farr had been given strange orders. But she would follow them. Captain Janeway had ordered the investigation of the assault and sabotage to be done in complete secrecy. Once more Amanda was not to make an official report. All information was to be written upon a data PADD and handed directly to the Captain.
Also Amanda was not to have anyone assist her in the investigation. The young blonde officer had a hunch as to why. If the evidence was correct and how could it not, Rothery had an idea that the Captain might wish to do more than to confine the assailant in the brig. Aggravated assault on a minor - and attempted murder - was enough to lock Tom Paris in the brig forever. It was becoming clear that the Paris boy should never have been let out of prison. Rothery would have questioned anyone else but Janeway. She would never have complied with the orders she received save from Janeway.
It had been Kathryn who had delivered Amanda from the hell she was in when she was still so young. Janeway had been only a commander at the time, during their first encounter. New Hope like New Paris had been a lost human colony surviving a post apocalyptic warzone. It was here that as a young woman Kathryn had saved the starving, scrawny and very feral thirteen-year-old girl.
Amanda had since grown into a fine young woman. And in honor of her savior the blonde had entered into Starfleet. Now thirty-three Rothery served aboard Voyager. Her loyalty to Kathryn was unshakable. And so she would do as the Captain had asked her to do without question.
Cargo Bay Two had been sealed on the Captain's orders pending an investigation of the faulty Alcove. Rothery slipped on protective latex gloves so that she would not contaminate the crime scene. The bay still had the heady under scent of blood. It was something Amanda would never forget. On New Hope it was almost a constant companion as was its brother, Death.
Going over the wreckage of the alcoves Amanda suppressed a shudder as she realized just what a pissed off ex-Borg was capable of. The extent of the damage was impressive to say the least. Shredded metal strips, chucks of bulkhead, bits of broken glass, ruptured gel packs and blood littered the floor.
"That woman can do some damage." The tall blonde said to no one in particular. Having been there when Naomi was hit, Amanda at least had an idea of what she was looking for. A bit of technology that belonged in a medical kit, that's what Naomi had said. Using a tricorder Rothery scanned the immediate vicinity for anything that was not Borg design or Borg enhanced Starfleet technology.
The young officer was if anything utterly thorough. She had taken three hours to go over everything in the Cargo Bay before her search found a charred husk of a field unit defibulator. At least she knew now why the alcove exploded.
Naomi had indeed triggered the alcove when she slipped. The activation caused a "live-wire" to be exposed so when Naomi touched it she connected the device to the alcove and thus the powerful discharge flooded through her.
With proof of a deliberate attack in hand Amanda analyzed it for trace DNA. Though she already had a suspect in mind. They all did. Proving it was another problem. Well it would have been for any other security officer who wasn't Vulcan or Rothery.
Amanda though having a difficult personality was very intelligent. Janeway had hand picked her for her expertise in Crime Scene Investigations as well as her skills in the fields of martial arts. Janeway also wanted to make sure her first rescued stray had a fair chance. Amanda Rothery was a maverick when it came to the field of law and investigations. She preferred to work alone rather then with a team. She took leaps and bounds in logic that irritated the most stalwart of Vulcans. But she was good. Very good in what she did. So Janeway let her have her way - when it came to law enforcement - most of the time.
"Okay I have the motive. You were humiliated. So you thought to get a little revenge." Amanda started pacing the wreckage of the Cargo Bay. "Seven first. She struck you first. You wanted her to suffer. You didn't expect it to kill her though did you?" She narrowed golden eyebrows, rubbing her forehead "Nor did you expect a child to find out what you had done. You wanted hurt her like she hurt you. Once Seven was down you would go after B'Elanna. But for her, you wanted something that would destroy her honor something close " Dark eyes widened with the light of understanding. "You think Seven was hurt not Naomi you don't know that the little one was hurt do you? Now you think you're free to move on to B'Elanna " She stopped her in her pacing. "You just hung yourself with a rope Paris I've got you."
She left the Cargo Bay and headed for deck nine section twelve. B'Elanna Torres' quarters. The scanners were still in place that overlooked the threshold. Tapping into the com-panel by the door. Rothery overrode the protocols with security codes and entered the room.
She turned and reimput encryption codes into the computer panel giving the computer discreet but very specific orders. Taking the medical tricorder she sequenced the bio-reader she reconfigured it to admit a small EM pulse. She then linked it up to the com-panel at the door. In essence she set up a booby trap. If anyone wearing the combadge of Tom Paris or carrying his DNA or who was fully human would be transported site to site to a small enclosed and very secluded area. Not exactly a legal procedure, as it bordered on entrapment. However anyone entering the Torres' quarters without B'Elanna knowing it was trespassing. Whatever Tom Paris planned Amanda was absolutely positive that it would happen here in B'Elanna's quarters.
After all it was here that the fiery Klingon felt the safest and here she would let her guard down as well. Tom would take advantage of that fact and use it against her. It was also one of the best places to humiliate a proud Klingon was to count coupe against her in her own territory.
It had taken the young officer almost four hours to finish her investigations in the Cargo Bay and the set up in the Chief Engineer's quarters before she was through. Rothery didn't have to ask the computer where her Captain would be. Knowing Kathryn she would not have moved from sickbay. Not until Seven was free and clear.
Four hours later.
"Doctor report." Janeway commanded.
Those that were gathered in Sickbay were Kathryn Janeway, B'Elanna, Samantha, Naomi (but the girl was sleeping once more.) Amanda, Chakotay (who was almost constantly rubbing his tattoo), Neelix (who was ringing his hands) and Harry Kim (who might have turned blue from holding his breath so long).
The holographic man straightened and took in an unneeded breath of air. "The Borg modifications made at the cellular level include the installation of biosynthetic glands and microcircuit fibers, which infiltrated her body, actually helped save her life. Seven's DNA was at least partially rewritten when she was assimilated, and there are structural changes in the brain's motor pathways, this acted as a fail-safe device against the damage. Ironically this would have been severely damaged had the EM surge from the alcove taken her, instead of Naomi." The Doctor began his lengthy explanations. "The implanted neuroprocessor, which contains a memory chip, stores all the information and instructions received from the Collective, is just below the ribcage. It was this bit of technology that Seven had attempted to remove but had thankfully failed.
"I would recommend that she undergo regeneration to encourage the production of white blood cells and the restoration of the nanoprobes but that option isn't readily available now. She will need at least three days to recover enough to release her from Sickbay. And I want her on medical leave for four more days. And I think she'll need some counselling. Unfortunately we do not have a ships counsellor "
"I don't understand why she would do something like that." Kathryn whispered with truth and confusion.
"I think I know." B'Elanna whispered. Of all people aboard Voyager she alone could understand self-destructive behavior. She had done so to make herself feel. Seven had done so because she felt too much.
All faces turned to the caramel skinned Klingon.
"Last night I accidentally triggered the memories of her assimilation as a child. I think they were on the surface level when Samantha blew up at her. Captain I think she reacted a lot like well a lost child. She was overwhelmed by both the guilt of Naomi being hurt and those memories."
"So she would try to make the 'bad thing' go away," Samantha said thinking that was exactly how her own daughter would have reacted.
"In fact it was how Seven reacted when she was first severed from the Collective when she and her Unimatrix crash-landed on that planet. She was a terrified youth and reacted. What happened in Cargo Bay Two was the latent reaction of the sprit of a lost child." Chakotay murmured as he recalled a conversation he had had with Seven awhile ago.
"Essentially." B'Elanna agreed. "She probably wouldn't have reacted this way " B'Elanna looked down at her boots, "if I hadn't opened up the flood gate of memories for her."
"I am a lot more to blame then you are B'Elanna," Samantha mumbled. "I am the one that pushed her over the edge. God, if I could just take it back I didn't mean it. I really didn't!" She swallowed bitterly wiping the tears from her eyes.
"Laying blame won't help Seven." Janeway intoned. "Right now she needs us, those that truly care about her to help her through this trauma."
B'Elanna shuddered at the extent of Seven's self-loathing. She knew that the younger woman had a few issues with her past. The way she had reacted to the Borg implants when the drones came aboard demanding Seven undo what she had done to them when they had been separated from the Collective came to mind. Of course forcing them to become linked was not an act of malice but of a child-like spirit terrified of being alone.
The Engineer recalled how Seven nearly baulked when asked the question of nostalgia. And B'Elanna knew why. Having accessed the memories Seven was terrified with the prospect of that the Borg represented. The Borg had stolen everything from Seven no not Seven Annika.
B'Elanna couldn't help but think that had they waited for the third day none of this would have happened. She would have been in possession of Seven's body and she would not have been hurt. The only thing Seven would have done was to curl up as she had in the fetal position and weep. She would have been safe. 'But oh no! I go and be Klingon and jump the gun and insist on a premature switch back. Now it had gone all wrong. Horribly wrong. I am sorry Seven.' B'Elanna bit her lower lip. She had wanted to make everything right for this unique soul and so far as far as the young Klingon was concerned she had failed at every turn.
'I won't fail you again Annika.' B'Elanna vowed upon the honor of her House.
The voice was a hoarse whisper but the young Klingon had heard her name being uttered. Other then the holographic physician, she would have been the only one to do so.
B'Elanna rushed to the bedside, leaning down over the near angelic form of Seven's body.
"I'm here BangwI." B'Elanna's throat was thick with her hearts. "I'm here shhhh. It'll be okay now " The warrior softened her voice until it was almost purring. Her touch feather light as she stroked golden locks of hair away from the alabaster face revealing cerulean eyes. "I'll take care of you." She leaned forward and placed a butterfly kiss upon her forehead. "Get better for me. Hang on my love my Sev I'll make it better I'll make it alright."
"Bella " Seven blinked trying to focus her eyes upon the caramel skinned goddess before her.
"I am here always here." B'Elanna feathered back the golden locks once more as she kissed Seven's cheek near the starburst implant that had somehow escaped Seven's savage attack upon herself. The young Klingon took the meshed encased hand into her own and brought it to her lips. The malleable metal was warm against the rose petal soft lips as B'Elanna kissed it. "I am not leaving you."
"Bella I am sorry I hurt you hurt Naomi."
"You didn't hurt her and you didn't hurt me." B'Elanna said softly. "You scared me you did a lot of damage to yourself BangwI. So much " B'Elanna softly kissed Seven's cheek once more. "You are forbidden from ever hurting yourself. Seven you do anything like that again and it will hurt me." B'Elanna gazed deeply into electric blue eyes. "Annika Nik please you must trust me. When I look at you I see the woman I love. A woman in such pain I won't let you go through that alone. I do love you."
Seven could barely keep her eyes open as she gazed at the woman before her. The right eye glassy with overwhelming emotions, making it seem impossibly blue. "But I am Borg they are evil without redemption why would you? I taint your honor the Borg are evil "
"You're not Borg!" B'Elanna snapped then winced as she saw the woman she had fallen in love with flinch. Leaning over the bed she placed her lips against Seven's ear so she alone would hear. "You are Annika Hansen the woman I love. You were a victim of the Borg now you are mine You are Seven my Seven my Nik. You are redeemed BangwI. There's nothing in you that is evil." B'Elanna's hand trailed down to the abdominal implants that had been salvaged and rested there. "Nothing of you BangwI is evil nothing. Know this. And you never forget it."
Janeway turned from the scene being played out before her, as did the others gathered around. They worried still for the young woman, for her heart that lay embedded in great turmoil and pain. But at least she was responsive. They all clung to the hope that Doctor was right. Given time Seven would make a full recovery from the incident in the cargo bay.
All eyes fell to their captain. Expecting leadership, orders, direction where to go from here. It was the beta shift and therefore only Chakotay was truly on duty. At least he had the bridge to keep himself occupied. Patience had always been his nourishment, his path. He clung to that now in desperation, anxiety was his bane, and something that now he could ill-afford.
"I'd better get back to the Bridge." He said slowly.
Janeway nodded almost dismissively. "I'll keep you apprised of her condition. Go."
The Native American knew his captain well. She was running on automatic, which meant she had a great deal on her mind, as well as contemplation on something that linked her to her darker side.
Not knowing what to say or what to do, the Commander returned to his post.
"Well I think we could all do with a bit of good home cooking." Neelix, ever cheerful Neelix, tried to smile but his orange eyes betrayed his own worry.
"I could do with some coffee." Janeway said as she looked over her shoulder to the two women that had come into her life as lost strays and had now blossomed into beautiful souls. She would do whatever she had to do to see them protected. Whatever it took. Her storm-blue eyes rested upon yet another stray that became a beautiful soul. Amanda Rothery. This warrior this enigmatic being... would become her means to protect the other two.
"Yeah I am bit hungry... though I am skipping the leeolah root stew." Harry smiled trying as Neelix to raise broken spirits. "I think I am splurging and going for some trout." He turned back to his friend. He would have never in a dozen millennia have guessed that B'Elanna Torres aka Maquis loved Seven of Nine the ex-Borg. But there was no mistaking the devoted love in those dark eyes. 'She must have been in love with Seven for along time I always thought she was the Captain's girl humph Maquis must have too. Jealousy can make you do odd things even snap at object of your affection. Makes sense why they were always at each other's throats Of course they are so much alike '
"Get better Seven." Harry muttered softly as he left sickbay.
Apprehensively Neelix approached the bio-bed. "Um I'll bring something for you to eat Lieutenant." With that he flashed a very nervous smile as he walked backwards away from the bed and followed young Harry.
"Captain " Rothery bent in to her Captain's ear. "I've found the evidence you wanted."
Storm-gray eyes rested upon the taller woman.
"It was him wasn't it?"
"Yes. And I made sure that if and when he tries to enter B'Elanna's quarters he will be beamed directly to a containment cell used to store toxic freight in Cargo Bay One. He will be contained." Amanda said with quiet confidence.
"Thank you." The Captain nodded her approval. Her hand slipped to the small of Amanda's back. "I was thinking once Paris is there, I might ask him to play a game of Velocity with me."
"Captain?" Amanda blinked not understanding why on earth the Captain would wish to play a game of Velocity with the Helmrat.
"Amanda not here."
"Yes ma'am." She tilted her blonde head and said nothing more. Just as she was about to leave sickbay, the Captain's hand upon her arm stopped her dead. Dark eyes narrowed in puzzlement. "Captain?"
"Please meet me in my quarters in five minutes for a more discreet briefing. We can have dinner."
The blonde smiled. "I'll be there."
Kathryn watched her young officer leave then redirected her attention back to Seven and B'Elanna. She stepped up to the right side of the bed and looked at the young woman. Her lids were heavy as sleep demanded Seven comply and give into its demands.
"Seven." The redhead said. "I am giving you a direct order."
"Captain." The voice was still hoarse and almost raw.
"You are going to get better. And you are going to let B'Elanna help you." Storm-blue eyes looked to the fiery Klingon. "And she is to rest too. Even if it means pulling up the next bio-bed."
"Yes Captain." The blonde whispered before closing her eyes allowing sleep to overcome her.
B'Elanna looked to the sleeping form of the woman she had vowed her hearts to. A woman she had just proclaimed was hers.
"You are going to rest Lanna even if I have to make the Doctor give you sedative."
In a knee-jerk reaction B'Elanna almost snarled at the threat she would be taken away from her Seven. But stopped. Logic overruled. Tuvok was good for something, after all. Dark wine lips pulled back into a half smile, "I will comply." She even had the tone down right. Playing Seven of Nine for two and a half days B'Elanna had many of her mannerisms pitch perfect.
"See that you do." The smoky voice of the captain said as she flashed a warm smile back. Saying nothing more, Janeway as the others had done, left Sickbay.
B'Elanna sat down upon the edge of the bed, her hand never letting go of Seven's. She leaned against her beloved's warm body allowing herself to enjoy the closeness. She had almost closed her eyes when she felt a tug at her arm. She looked down to see little Naomi Wildman with deep worry in those angelic eyes.
"B'Elanna?" She whispered as not to awaken Seven. "Can can I lie next to her? The doctor is making me stay here the night and and "
Without thinking B'Elanna let go of her BangwI's hand and picked up the child and allowed her to cuddle up to the blonde. It was then that the Klingon looked to Samantha Wildman.
"I can think of no safer place she would be than with Seven," the Ensign said. "They need each other." Shame filled Samantha's face. She knew the words she had uttered in her fear for Naomi were spoken without thought. But they had done more damage then Tom Paris could ever have done to Seven. She had heard Amanda Rothery's comment about the trap set for the helmrat she may not be able to take the words back, or take the hurt back from Seven, but she could try to make it right.
Besides it was a very unwise person that tangled with a mother when their child was in danger. Wasn't it a grizzly bear that could deliver a very deadly blow when their cub was in harms way? Samantha looked to B'Elanna cradling Seven as Naomi was nuzzled up against her, using Seven's shoulder and chest as a pillow.
"For what its worth B'Elanna I am going to make this right."
The young Klingon hadn't heard the words spoken by Samantha as she had fallen asleep sitting next to the bed. Her raven head had used Seven's other shoulder and breast as a pillow her arm possessively draped over the newly reconstructed abdomen. The entire scene made the trio look very much like a litter of kittens all nuzzled up together.
The Doctor however had heard the words spoken by Samantha. He looked at the data PADD in his hand that held the medical readouts of Seven's latest exam, with some concern in his holographic eyes. He hoped what ever it was the ensign was going to do to "make it right" had every success.
Paris moved through the corridors feeling like a new man. Chakotay had apparently left the Bridge in the middle of Beta shift because Seven was in surgery. Even Harry had gone down to Sickbay because of the damage done to their precious Drone. He knew of course the Captain would be there to make sure her toy was put back together. And rumor had it B'Elanna had rushed to Sickbay to help out.
"She broke my sternum then threatened to assimilate me serves her right whatever happened. Can't blame a man for wanting a little payback. Not even the turtlehead can blame me for taking a little vengeance on the Ice Queen she above all others knows the value of revenge." He smiled to himself as he waltzed to B'Elanna's quarters. "Revenge Sweetheart your Klingon side should really love this one."
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