By Elizabeth Carter
Janeway waited in her quarters for Amanda to arrive. The young woman was nearly as bad or perhaps as good as Seven about being punctual. Janeway barely had time to take off her uniform jacket when the door chimed.
"Captain." The tall blonde flashed a shy smile and nodded her head.
"Amanda " Janeway breathed heavily and gestured for the younger woman to sit next to her at the small table. "I know what I've asked from you in the last few days. Asking you to go against protocol and everything you learned as a Starfleet officer, for that, I am sorry. I want to make it clear I am making these decisions based on the fact that justice sometimes precludes law I have to order you to obey."
"Ma'am " She nodded. With this single command, Janeway took all the blame onto herself. Frustration was always Rothery's greatest enemy; when she felt helpless, outmaneuvered, she acted without thinking. She was not about to allow her captain to take the fall. "The security of this ship, her Captain and her crewmembers are my priority. My duty as a Starfleet officer is to apprehend a criminal. I find no conflict here. It's just not the Tuvok sanctioned way to do it. My assignment was pretty clear. Find the assailant who premeditated an attack Seven of Nine and consequently assaulted Naomi Wildman."
With those words, Kathryn had been absolved, just as Amanda had been relieved of responsibility for the unorthodox method of hunting down a fugitive.
As Kathryn rose once more from the table, she turned to her companion and asked: "So tell me how did you set up B'Elanna's quarters?"
Amanda told her about the bio-reader on the medical tricorder and how she tapped into the security sensors. If someone, any one who had fully human DNA, entered the Chief's quarters, they would be sent to the isolation tank in Cargo Bay One. The scanners were also to re-check the readings against the combadge of Tom Paris and his DNA bio-readings. And if there were site-to-site transporter activity from the Torres quarters to Cargo Bay One, only Amanda would know about it. However, should say someone with Klingon DNA signatures enter the room the scanners would not register a threat.
"B'Elanna should know about this of course." Amanda said finishing her explanation.
"Of course." Kathryn set the platters of Risa Lo-main and orange sauce chicken before them. "I remembered this was one of your favorite meals when we first met."
Amanda chuckled and flashed a full smile at her captain. She hadn't the heart to tell Kathryn she couldn't stand the Risa twist on Lo-Main. The only reason that Amanda had eaten the dish when still a teen was that Kathryn had introduced her to it, saying she had always liked it. Now Amanda thought the gesture so endearing she couldn't tell this woman she absolutely hated the meal.
"Thank you." She looked up from underneath always-unruly blonde bangs. "That's very thoughtful."
"Speaking of thoughtful." Kathryn said in her smoky voice. "How is it that you learned how to do that little trick with the sensors and tricorders?"
"Tuvok had me learn Maquis tricks. And I picked up several things along the way as I studied Ninjetsu. A few things from New Hope." Amanda shrugged. "The rest is applied science. No big deal."
"No?" Kathryn smiled. "I am impressed." She stretched out a hand and allowed it to rest upon Amanda's long fingered hand.
"Kath " Amanda dropped rank using the old name she used to call Kathryn. "Why would you want to play Velocity with the helmrat er Paris?"
Kathryn dropped her gray-blue gaze to the plate of food in front of her. Then she slowly rose and went into her bedroom. Coming back out she held a small black box. Amanda recognized it immediately. It was protection sleeve for a Holodeck program card. "I'm... not the person you think I am."
"I don't know about that." Amanda intoned. "I know you."
"No, you don't."
"Kath whatever is in that matrix it doesn't matter. And you have nothing to justify to me. Not what is on that not Michael Sullivan... nothing a lright? I know who you are. I also know what you are capable of when you see those you care about hurt. It is our nature to want to lash out at the enemy who hurts our family "
Kathryn remained silent.
"And that's why I can't let you go through with it."
"I swore a pledge along time ago when I took up the mantle of becoming a law enforcer more than just a security officer to protect and serve my Captain. Even if that means protecting my Captain from herself. You have not the capacity for vengeance Kathryn you are not a killer. Your sense of duty and honor will not allow it. You would bear too much guilt afterward. Kath, you don't send a Samurai warrior to do the job of a Ninja."
Tom Paris smirked a satisfied leer as he stood in front of B'Elanna's quarters. He knew that B'Elanna would be mortified if anyone knew she sometimes slept with the ragged purple plush targ. She would be horrified, if say, the Klingon home world received a transmission with one of the Empire's daughters behaving like a child and sleeping with a stuffed animal.
Now, he had already programmed a Holodeck simulation of B'Elanna sleeping with it and took a holoimage to be viewed on Neelix's morning vid-transmissions on exciting things aboard Voyager. The little hedgehog would not realize that he was assisting Tom in his quest for vengeance, but there wouldn't be a screen aboard Voyage that wouldn't have a picture of the proud Klingon and her purple targ. The targ in question, Tom decided on a whim would assist Voyager's energy reserves and be recycled.
The bitch had broken his jaw and nose and allowed the Ice Queen to threaten to assimilate him. For that she would be made to pay in kind. With a sedative in hand, he would even the playing ground. B'Elanna would become as weak as Nomi Wildman once he injected her with the hypospray and thus be unable to put up any amount of resistance to his "taming of the shrew."
They were on a break how dare she put restrictions on him! She had put an end to him relieving himself with the holograms. What was good for the Captain was good for any crewmember. They were only protons; it wasn't like the images were real, and so infidelity couldn't count.
Megan Delaney had been drunk and slipped. She had said it was a one-time thing and had made plans to make it up to Harry. Harry was a weak little man who obviously couldn't keep a woman satisfied. Tom had every intention of ensuring that B'Elanna knew just what she was giving up. Injecting the turtlehead with what was in the second hypo would ensure she was more than willing to have sex with him. Her libido would be hypersensitive and demand to be quenched. Tom would take that proud Klingon down a few pegs and make her beg for it.
His revenge would be complete.
B'Elanna had obviously not bothered to change the codes to enter her quarters, for he entered the rooms with little resistance.
Stepping across the threshold, he heard a small sound like the chirping of a tricorder, then felt the familiar tingle of the transporters.
"What the fuck?"
The next morning:
Seven woke with numbness in both shoulders. On top of that she felt what Naomi called pins and needles in both of her arms. She had yet to open her eyes, the pain and numbness was obviously from the incident yesterday. She felt restrained; the Doctor must have felt she would try to damage herself once more for she could not move.
She felt absolutely stiff all over.
Seven lay there upon the bio-bed with her eyes still closed in that wonderful state between full wakefulness and sleep, as the words of B'Elanna echoed repeating over in her mind:
'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.' Seven remembered the touch of B'Elanna's hand as it trailed down to the abdominal implants and rested with fierce possessiveness. 'Nothing of you, BangwI, is evil nothing. Know this. And you never forget it.' Seven sucked in a shock of air. She had not dreamed those words. She couldn't have . "Please don't let me have dreamt those words "
"Sev?" B'Elanna raised her head. Worry reflected in dark chocolate eyes as she stared at the woman she had pledged her love to. "How are you feeling?"
A flood of feeling came back to Seven's shoulder when B'Elanna pushed herself upright.
"Stiff." Seven answered immediately. "But I am functioning." She shifted a bit and realized that there had not been restraints to hold her down, but a slumbering half Katerian on one side and on the other, a hybrid Klingon.
When she tried to sit up, the young woman was rewarded with a shock of pain. Her face betrayed her as she relived her hurt, though she had not voiced it.
"Bella " Seven was absolutely confused. "I " she winced hating the feeling of being mentally lost. She felt great shame as well. Shame for being Borg. Shame in the terror she had felt. She felt shame in everything save one. But that one thing was a cause of fear. Because the words spoke by B'Elanna last night had to have been a dream.
"Hell of a day yesterday."
Seven tilted her head down, her hair now loose, made a convenient curtain to hide behind. "Indeed it was."
"You scared me." B'Elanna's hand reached out for Seven but the pale figure flinched.
"A common emotional response to the Borg." She said darkly.
"No." B'Elanna nearly snapped. But there was an unmistakable authoritative tone to her voice. "It's a common emotional response in seeing someone you love with all your hearts try to tear herself apart and almost succeed." B'Elanna leaned in taking Seven's face gingerly between her own darker hands. "So maybe it's true what they say about blondes."
If Seven was befuddled before, she was now utterly confused.
"Blondes are supposed to be stupid."
Seven narrowed her blue eyes. "What has the color of hair follicles have to do with the intelligence of an individual? I do not see the relationship. I am not stupid."
"No, BangwI, you're not. You're impressionable. Naive about most of the outside world, but you are defiantly not stupid. And you are certainly NOT emotionless."
"You you called me BangwI "
"Yes, I did." B'Elanna's words were now uttered in a whisper.
Seven tried to process everything. She was terrified of what B'Elanna would do once she found out she was in love with her. They had for two days been closer than any lover could have been, and they had founded a friendship. Perhaps one that had been there before, only covered under very defensive hostility.
"Seven I love you " she traced the angular features of the woman who held her hearts. "I have for a while... but you were supposed to be the Captain's I was jealous of it. Jealous of you, too, I mean, I guess before you, even with Kes on board, I was used to being Voyager's favorite daughter then things changed. And I remember the feeling of when I was a kid alone and not being human."
"B'Elanna you are half human," Seven pointed out, not understanding B'Elanna's own self-hatred for the Klingon half of her genetic makeup.
Dark wine lips curled into a half smile. "I know. But for a long time it wasn't enough Seven you don't get it. I was so ashamed of my Klingon half that I thought if ever I was to have child of my own I would probably have her genetic makeup manipulated so she didn't look like a Klingon hoping to spare her the same ridicule I grew up with."
Seven looked horrified.
B'Elanna shook her head. "Not now. I don't think I would want that. Not since the Barge of the Dead." She smiled then. "Look, Seven, my point is that hating a part of your nature is, well, futile. Not only do you hurt yourself, but you hurt those who love you."
Nothing of you, BangwI, is evil nothing. Know this. And you never forget it. Those words rang in Seven's mind.
"When Samantha told me that... well when she slipped and spoke of your love of me. I reacted "
"Angry " Seven concluded.
"You'd think that." B'Elanna said in such a way Seven knew she meant the word you as a rhetorical you and not Seven personally. "But no. I was confused. Then I was confused by the confusion. I thought I should be angry. But I wasn't. I was stunned. Because, well, we never had the heart to hearts you had with Janeway or apparently Samantha."
She stopped when she saw Seven flinch in the utterance of the name. B'Elanna took Seven's hand into her own and kissed it. Before continuing. "I was excited too, that... well someone like you would be... could be interested in me Finally I just let myself feel." B'Elanna smiled warmly "When I saw you on that floor " B'Elanna paled in the remembrance of the blood and the motivation that had made her beloved act out such violence. "I realized with dread... I could lose you. I just found you and I couldn't lose you. Seven try to believe the words I spoke yesterday I was never more certain about what I feel in my life. Or about who I feel them for. I do love you, Seven."
"No." Seven whispered.
B'Elanna jumped up as if struck. Her dark eyes narrowed in fear, then rage, then back to fear again. Then pain. She felt her hearts beating with utter dread. Seven was telling her the love she had wasn't real. That there could not possibly be a love between them.
Seven shifted trying to move without waking Naomi who was snoring little kitten snores. Somehow Seven found her feet; B'Elanna was backing up away from the tall blonde.
"No?" B'Elanna gritted through clenched teeth, for her hearts had swelled in her throat "No?"
Overcome by her weakness, Seven quickly found herself on her knees clutching the bed her body shuddering. "Bella... not please I have to say this."
"What, that you don't think I can love? That I am playing a game? I just found you and and you "
"Bella!" Seven pleaded. "qamusha's ." She announced her love in Klingonese.
B'Elanna went to Seven's kneeling form, helping her back onto the bed. "Then why did you say no?"
"Not to your love... never to you to the designation."
"I want you only you to call me Annika." Blue eyes looked deep into dark brown. "You said I was your Annika I want to be your Annika."
B'Elanna's reaction was instantaneous. She gave Seven a bear hug causing the younger woman to whimper out in pain. "Oh! I am sorry Sev Annika." B'Elanna said the name with such privileged reverence. "I didn't mean to hurt you. Your ribs are still sore."
"Among other parts of my anatomy, yes."
"Seven?" a tiny voice squeaked from behind. "Oh Seven Seven you're awake! I got so scared for you. The doctor and B'Elanna had to put you back together." Naomi rushed around the bed hugging her friend close with all her little girl strength causing yet another utterance of pain to come out of the lips of the ex-Borg.
"I hurt you." Naomi reacted as if burned.
"I am functioning."
"It is all my fault." Naomi said, "You got hurt. I knew there was something wrong with the alcoves. But I couldn't remove it before I fell. I should have warned you Seven."
"No sweety it isn't your fault." B'Elanna said gently.
"She is correct." Seven echoed. "You are blameless."
"The only one to blame here is that petaQ Paris."
"Bella!" Seven said sharply.
"Huh?" Then B'Elanna looked over to the smirking Naomi. "Oh!' She blushed a little. "Sorry Spike. Look that um word it's a grown up word. You shouldn't repeat it."
"Like Mum said shit was a bad word. Just after she said oh sh "
"Naomi!" Seven narrowed her eyes causing the child to wilt. B'Elanna thought if Janeway had competition for a force ten glare, it was in Seven of Nine. And it was a very mothering snap of the name that even had the fiery Klingon wanting to bow her head to the presence.
"I was only giving an example." Naomi murmured slowly. "Sorry."
"It's okay Spike." B'Elanna soothed the child. "But better not repeat those kinds of words okay?"
"Sure." Like all children everywhere she didn't get why it was okay for someone of another age to say a curse word. Adults were so weird. "Seven are you going to be okay functioning in normal parameters?"
"Given the appropriate amount of time. Yes."
This seemed to cheer the child. "I got scared. I saw a lot of blood before my Mum made me leave."
"I am sorry." Seven said seriously. She looked down. She had no more words to say. In fact it looked like she wanted to be anywhere but where she was. B'Elanna took note of the sudden "Borg" shielding and took Naomi down off the bed.
"Spike sweetie, look, Seven needs her rest, and I bet you're starving. Maybe we should summon the doctor so he can check you and have your mother come and get you. Unless, you want to spend the WHOLE day in sickbay."
Naomi wanted to stay near her friend Seven, but she hated sickbay. It always smelled like medicine. And she was hungry. And sickbay was boring if Seven was gong to sleep the child justified her wanting to leave and smiled to B'Elanna.
Seven flashed a very slight look of relief to her beloved and sat upon the bio-bed. In truth, she felt as if she could sleep. She was in some pain and her body felt as if it hadn't regenerated in weeks. It was all she could do to stay conscious. Laying down, she decided she would just close her eyes for a moment.
The EMH popped on line and smiled pleasantly to Naomi. "Well Miss Wildman. It is good to see you up and around." He took a medical tricorder from a counter and started his examination of the wee one. "It seems, due to my fine expertise, you have made a full recovery"
Two pairs of eyes rolled, one pair belonging to a hybrid Klingon the other to a half Katerian.
"Spike, I am going to see to Seven, okay?"
"Sure." Naomi watched as B'Elanna padded over to the bed with curious eyes.
B'Elanna pulled the mylar blanket over Seven's body. Trying to keep her warm and comfortable. She feathered back the long golden locks of hair with one hand as the other traced the intricate designs of the Borg-enhanced hand. Showing Seven that B'Elanna was not repulsed by her Borgness. Right now Seven needed reassuring; she needed her confidence back.
The Doctor bobbed up and down on the balls of his holographic feet regaining the child's attention. "I think it's safe to say you can be released." He took off the bio-emitter from the child's neck. I'll make a record of it and then summon your mother to come and collect you."
"Thank you doctor." Naomi tilted her head in the best Captain's Assistant manner she could muster.
She cast a glance over to Seven who was soundly sleeping upon the bio bed and dropped her mouth as she saw B'Elanna place a feather soft kiss upon Seven's lips.
"Whoa!" She gasped.
The Doctor looked to what had gained the child's attention. "Oh yes, quite a new development. It seemed that, in no uncertain terms, B'Elanna Torres had proclaimed her love of Seven of Nine, and claimed our Seven as hers."
"Wow " Naomi beamed thinking that Seven's wish to be able to love the Chief of Engineering came true. Well the little Katerian thought B'Elanna was very worthy of her friend. And besides, B'Elanna, who was also her friend, needed someone like Seven in her life. Seven would love her without question, without reserve. B'Elanna would never be hurt again, not like she was with the helmrat. Naomi wasn't a fool. She knew Mommy and Neelix bickered, but they always made up, (and for some reason Naomi was always sent to stay with Seven on a cot in the Cargo Bay when that happened.) and she figured, Seven and B'Elanna would have the same hiccups as Neelix called them but they would be together, nevertheless. She only hoped they all wouldn't have hiccups on the same night because she would have no idea where she would stay if that happened.
It wasn't Samantha who came to Sickbay to collect Naomi. It was Neelix.
"Ready to go sweetie?" The cheerful furry little man smiled warmly.
"In a minute." Naomi skipped over to the bio-bed and placed a kiss on Seven's brow before hugging B'Elanna. "I am glad you two are together."
Dark eyes widened in surprise. "Um thank you, Spike. So am I." B'Elanna looked down at the sleeping Seven. Feeling for the first time a flood of emotions she hadn't felt in a long time. Emotions she had wanted to feel with Tom. But he had never once stirred her the way Seven had. Even when she fought with either one of them, Seven managed to ignite the flames of her Klingon blood, that Tom couldn't even cause a spark. The bitter truth was that B'Elanna had settled with Tom. There was no settling with Seven.
"When you two get married, can I be a flower girl? Or do they have flower girls in Klingon weddings?"
"Um " was all B'Elanna managed to say.
Neelix hurried and scrambled his "adopted" daughter out of Sickbay.
"Um " B'Elanna repeated.
"Moving quickly aren't we?" The Doctor had a superior smirk upon his holographic face. "Planning a wedding?"
"My, I never knew you to be speechless B'Elanna." The Doctor was now gloating.
"Oh switch off." Apparently B'Elanna wasn't speechless after all.
"Well I don't think the Borg are evil." Naomi said blatantly to Neelix as they walked down the corridor heading now to the mess hall. The girl had managed to worm a great deal of information out of Neelix about why Seven had been in sickbay, edited for the child of course. The girl had figured out for herself that someone had meant to hurt Seven. From B'Elanna's words, she also knew who was to blame for it. The helmrat, Tom Paris.
Naomi was told only that someone thought the Borg were scary and evil and wanted Seven a little hurt but the Captain and acting Chief of Security Amanda Rothery were handling it. Naomi however had an important job. She was, as the Captain's assistant, to help make Seven feel better.
Naomi had more thoughts on the subject of the Borg. "I think they are kinda like the Doctor when the Captain of the Equinox turned off his... his... um ethical subroutines. I think the Borg's subroutines are just switched off. If they were on, they wouldn't be the way they are. Besides the only Scary Borg I know of is the Queen. Seven, and One, Mizoti and the twins, Rebi who was cute and Azan, and Icheb they aren't scary one bit."
"Well, no, they weren't scary. But Naomi there was a time when you thought Seven was scary and she was going to assimilate you."
"Yeah well that was when I was a kid." She shrugged. "Besides I am going to be the flower girl or maybe even Seven's maid of honor at their wedding."
Neelix stopped dead in their tracks. "They are getting married."
"Well sure." The child said with absolute conviction of belief. "Seven is logical. That is the logical conclusion of their declared love. You and Mum will get married soon. So, Seven and B'Elanna will too. And I am going to be in the wedding." Naomi shrugged a little. "Neelix I'm going to go to our quarters and get something before I eat, okay? There's something important I have to do."
"Sure sweetie, you go ahead." Neelix nodded. It wasn't strange for the child to wander the corridors of the ship alone. "But you stay clear of exposed electrical wirings."
Naomi shuddered. "Trust me I don't want to do that again."
"Good girl. Now hurry back."
"Oh, it won't take long Neelix. But it is important that I take care of this."
The furry Talaxian nodded, chuckling to himself. It was adorable when a child thought something trivial to an adult was very important. She probably wanted to make a get well card for Seven and had gone to retrieve her crayons and paper.
Naomi Wildman walked with determination down the hall with a look that should never be upon a child's face. The look of pure hatred.
Naomi Wildman marched into Astrometrics and found young Icheb standing in Seven's normal spot going over the grid of space ahead of them searching through Seven's findings of collectable resources. A day and half ago, Seven had assured him that Engineering would comply with her idea of alternative energy reserves. In fact, she said, B'Elanna Torres would most definitely comply.
"Icheb!" Naomi almost snapped. "I want to talk to you."
The teen was taken by surprise by the young girl who was normally always pleasant and filled with curious smiles. He liked her and felt quite protective over her as he had with the other children before they left Voyager.
"In private." Naomi grabbed his arm and pulled him over to a corner. Megan Delaney, who saw the whole thing, thought it was cute. She gathered Naomi must have a crush on the lad and snickered as she went back to work. With Seven in sickbay because of the incident in Engineering (as no one was told the truth of Seven's injuries), she was assigned to help out in Astrometrics.
"You seem angered NaomiWildman." The boy stood in a very Seven like stance with his arms clasped behind his ramrod straight back.
"Yeah, I am." Naomi scowled. "I want your help."
"What can I assist you in?" He tilted his head.
"I want you to assimilate Lieutenant Paris."
"I can not comply."
"Well why not?" Naomi stomped her foot, and folded her arms over her little body.
"It is forbidden by both the Captain and Seven of Nine."
Naomi's scowled deepened. "Well, I am the Captain's assistant and that out ranks the Astrometrics officer's assistant. So I say you can assimilate him."
"That is logical. But I cannot comply with your request. May I ask why you want Lieutenant Paris assimilated?"
"Because he's mean and he hurt Seven. He is the reason why she's in sickbay and why I got hurt and why the alcoves blew up, and why Lieutenant Torres got hurt."
"Indeed." Icheb frowned. He knew only that there was an incident in Cargo Bay Two and that Seven and Naomi were hurt. Lieutenant Rothery forbade him from entering the Cargo Bay until the investigation was over.
"Yes indeed! So if he was to become a Borg by you. He would be a good Borg and he would have to do what Seven wants him to. She is a girl and the Queen was a girl so Seven is the Queen of the good Borg. And he would have to comply with her orders because he would only be a drone."
Icheb thought about it and to a point he had to agree with the hybrid Katerian. Seven was indeed the Queen of the "good" Borg. All the ex-drone children including One had always done as she wished. She was, therefore, the Queen of the ex-Borg.
"You have a sound argument. But I still cannot comply."
"If Seven of Nine is the Queen of the "good" Borg, then she out ranks the Captain's assistant. And her orders stand. I apologize. I cannot assimilate Lieutenant Paris. I assure you NaomiWildman that if he is found guilty of the crimes you spoke of, then acting Chief of Security Lieutenant Rothery will see to his apprehension. And thus he will be Court Martialed."
"Are you sure?"
"I am 98.5 percent positive." Icheb intoned.
"But if he was a drone, then he can never hurt anyone again because Seven would be his Queen and she doesn't hurt anyone." Naomi pointed out. "So he couldn't either."
"NaomiWildman, if Seven of Nine orders me to assimilate him, I will," the teen said with some conviction. Privately he wanted to do more to TomasEugeneParis than to assimilate him. If the man had indeed been the assailant against his maternal figure his Queen as Naomi called Seven, then he wanted to see him hurt. And that shocked the lad, for this was an emotion he had never known before.
"Well fine." Naomi's was still put out but at least she had Icheb's promise that if Seven gave permission to assimilate Tom Paris then he would. And the Borg, in Naomi's experience, at least with those aboard Voyager, always told the truth. Icheb felt the oddest thing in the world when Naomi reached up and kissed his cheek. He just remained absolutely motionless. "Okay, I'll talk to you later."
"As you wish." Icheb felt a rush of emotion fill him. Now, more than ever, he wanted to protect NaomiWildman. He now understood what Neelix meant about being a 'big brother.' If this was what the Talaxian felt for his own sister, Icheb liked it. He wanted to do more "big brother" things and thought to seek out Neelix as to what he should do. He also felt as if he had severely disappointed NaomiWildman in regards to her request. He would, therefore, remedy it by asking the Captain's permission to assimilate TomParis. But he had a dilemma. If Seven of Nine was indeed the Queen of all ex-Borg...did a Queen out rank a Captain of a starship? Perhaps Neelix could assist him with this as well.
Megan, who had not heard the discussion between the youngsters, did see the kiss. She snickered and shook her head. "Definitely cute Little Naomi's first school girl crush." She chuckled again. "Too cute." She reflected on her first puppy-love crush it never went anywhere with the boy other than a kiss on the cheek, but the memories were filled with warm-fuzzies. And of course the comment "I can't believe I liked him then " Megan Delaney was glad that Naomi's first crush was on a good boy like Icheb. Seven definitely had done wonders with him. Poor kid had his own crush on Seven. But then so did half the ship, including her sister.
Thinking of Seven, Megan hoped the enigmatic woman was going to be okay. From the rumor mill, she took quite a hit from the blast in Engineering and was in critical condition. Perhaps Harry could enlighten her on the Astrometrics officer.
The Doctor had released B'Elanna from Sickbay, but with a warning that though she was not on light duty, she should take it easy. The Captain had given her and Seven two days off prior to the incident, she still had a day left. And B'Elanna was taking advantage of it to be with Seven. No, not Seven Annika. B'Elanna was the only soul aboard Voyager given the privilege to call the young blonde by her given human name. B'Elanna felt more than privileged, she felt honored.
Her Annika was asleep allowing B'Elanna a moment of time to return to her quarters to get out of her uniform, shower and change into civvies. She wore a favored black leather jacket. Her Klingon physiology was accustomed to warmer temperatures so she would throw on her Maquis leather jacket when not on duty. She would return to sickbay afterwards. Besides she wanted to pick up a few things first. Seven and young Icheb needed alcoves to regenerate. B'Elanna was going to see that their needs were met.
The fact was B'Elanna didn't know what to do. She was worried for Seven for her Annika. The former Borg had died twice on the operating table and gave no outward signs of getting better. Granted, the Doctor had said she would need 72 hours to heal properly; still B'Elanna was beside herself with dread.
She needed to keep her mind and hands busy. Sitting on a chair next to her love, B'Elanna could keep a sharp eye on her as well as come up with schematics for a small transportable alcove. Seven's idea of a Naquada generator to power the alcoves was brilliant. Using that as a foundation, the Klingon began her designs. With Icheb and Harry Kim, they should have the new transportable alcoves ready in no time.
Icheb shared quarters with Vorik, who said they might share quarters, as the nature of the former Borg and Vulcan were similar. It was an amiable situation for both of them. If the teen had a transportable alcove, then he may not feel as isolated from the crew. During this troublesome time, Lanna was gratified to know the boy had someone as cool-headed as Vorik to look out for him.
Time had passed and it seemed that Seven had visitors every ten minutes: the Captain came in, Chakotay, Harry Kim, Icheb, Naomi, Samantha, and Neelix. Amanda visited briefly then departed with the same distracted look in her eyes that Kathryn held. Even Tuvok guided by Vorik came in for a few minutes then left as the fires of Pon Farr took him once more. Both Delaney sisters, Susan Nicoletti, Chapman and Carey had also popped in to see how the ex-Borg was fairing.
There wasn't an hour that passed that B'Elanna didn't lift her eyes from the PADDs to check on the woman she loved. Since this morning, Seven had yet to awake. Several times during the day and into the night, the Doctor checked on Seven's vitals. He was very worried.
"She's not improving, is she?" B'Elanna asked darkly.
"No. In fact, she is deteriorating." The Doctor sighed a holographic sigh. "The fact she slipped into coma concerns me."
B'Elanna stood up taking the sleeping woman's hand. "Is she going to die?"
"No, I don't think so." The Doctor said. "But I am not going to tell you not to be worried. You would do that anyway."
B'Elanna looked at Seven, her dark eyes glistening. Seven was the strongest person she had ever encountered. And yet, she was so fragile. Perhaps the equating of ice and Seven was true. Ice had the power to sink ocean-going ships, and yet an icicle was easily shattered. It was also one of the most beautiful sights when the sun hit just right and creates prisms of jeweled light.
"I am not giving up on you." She said softly. "You had better not give up on you either, BangwI." She traced a finger along the silver ocular implant over Seven's left eye.
She kissed the soft full lips, lips she wanted to kiss her back. But that would have to wait. As it was, she was content to feel Seven's breath upon her skin. The young Klingon frowned; Seven's skin was cool to the touch. Pulling the blankets over the still form of her lover, B'Elanna turned to the Doctor. "I want to try something. The Borg cubes the humidity is at 92 percent and they are at 31.1 Celsius." She smiled slowly. Thinking that the cubes aren't that much different than Qo'nos, temperature wise.
"Excellent idea Lieutenant. I'll place a bio-field up and we can change the environment to better suit Seven's needs." The Doctor silently berated himself for not thinking of it sooner.
A flash of pink-red illumination flared indicating the force field was in place. Within the containment field the temperature was raised and humidity increased. The reaction in Seven was almost immediate. She seemed to relax even in her coma.
"You feel better?" B'Elanna whispered to her beloved knowing she wouldn't answer. She kissed the soft lips once more, wanting Seven to know she was loved, that she had someone to come back too. Looking to the doctor, B'Elanna addressed him once more. "Doc, a person in a coma it's theoretically possible that they are aware of the presence of others. Right?"
"Yes. Often the presence of loved ones and close friends will help them revive and recover faster," the Doctor answered gently.
B'Elanna knew that Seven's olfactory sense was keener than even that of a Klingon's. That being realized, the young Klingon took off her leather jacket and covered Seven's torso with it. Because B'Elanna had to leave in order to start inventing the mobile alcoves, she didn't want Seven to think she was abandoned. Her scent, B'Elanna hoped, would help Seven come around or at least comfort her. It was ironic that she needed Seven's help to create the alcoves and she wasn't able to give it. Placing a parting kiss on the pale brow of the woman she loved, B'Elanna moved away from her and headed for Cargo Bay Two.
Captain Kathryn Janeway stood before a sealed containment unit in Cargo Bay One. At her side was Amanda Rothery. A solid bulkhead was placed over the confinement field shielding Tom Paris from all would-be viewers. His combadge had been deactivated by security command the same way had Paris been in the brig.
"Captain, there is going to be problem with the prisoner. The evidence is damning. And there are those who know what happened or derived their own conclusions..."
"Let me guess, they all want a piece of him."
"Yeah." The blonde nodded slowly. "It concerns me."
Janeway knew that if Amanda Rothery was concerned about something, it was something big. She was cool and rational and wasn't one to become overly concerned about issues. Yes, she became excitable about projects, but she wasn't a loose cannon. Thus when she said she was concerned you could guarantee that the risk levels were more than high. After all, a week before Tuvok went into Pon Farr, Amanda admitted she was concerned for the Vulcan. Her speculations proved true when the fires of the ancient fever overcame the Chief of Security. Amanda had Janeway's full attention.
"Captain with the evidence I've gathered, you have enough to Court Martial him. But what to do with him after the trial? Here in lies the question. Put him in the brig for life? His crimes are severe. Premeditated aggravated assault, with the evidence you can convict him on intent to kill. Premeditation for aggravated sexual assault and aggravated assault on a minor." She tried not to, but the mention of the last two she flinched as her own memories of her childhood crept forward. Distracting her errant mind she said, "There are the minor charges as well: trespassing, blackmail, petty theft, possession of an illegal narcotic, conspiracy and Conduct unbecoming of an Officer."
Kathryn sighed thinking many of these charges had Tom Paris in prison before. It shouldn't surprise her that he had committed several of them again. But it had. Perhaps she had too much reverence for the Paris name. After all Admiral Owen Paris was the polar opposite of his son. He was a man of note and honor; one would think the son to be the same. Tom was not.
"Long ago in maritime history, crewmembers that had done such things were marooned. If not executed outright, drawn and quartered, or keelhauled, or forced to walk the plank."
Amanda frowned. She was worried what her Captain would do and more to the point when Paris's crimes were made public what it would do to the ship and its morale. There were, for some unknown reason, Tom Paris fans. And his demise would upset the ship. She would have none of them undermining the power of the Captain. But if they did indeed follow ancient custom, Janeway would be more feared than respected. This wasn't a Romulan vessel nor was it Cardassian; Amanda was determined to see that the Captain would not gain the image of a power monger or a tyrant. But Paris had to be made to pay for his crimes. On the counterpoint, Rothery was filled with vileness by the thought that she had to protect him from the would-be assailants wanting vengeance. Perhaps an accident playing Velocity should be arranged after all.
"Captain, I have an idea."
"He of course needs to hear the accounts of the crimes against him; however he needs to sweat a little, more than spending the night in confinement. I know Paris's type. He postures, he is arrogant and egotistical and he is a coward above all. He will become the solution to our dilemma as what to do with him."
"He isn't suicidal if that's what you mean" Janeway wasn't sure she liked where this was heading.
"No, that is not what I mean to say." Amanda said quietly. "Do you trust me?"
"Enough to follow my lead?"
"Amanda I've known you for a while you have never given me cause to mistrust you. Go ahead; I'll take your lead."
The tall blonde nodded her head and sighed heavily. Then she moved over to the com-panel at the side of the containment unit, punched a few commands that allowed the shield to lift.
"About god-damn time!" The helmsman snarled. He moved forward but stopped when he saw the blonde security officer point a phaser on him.
"On your knees, cross them at the ankles!"
"Captain..." Tom whined and stepped forward.
Rothery powered up the phaser. "This is set to kill, Paris. On your knees, now," clipped, cold and dark came the orders. Tom Paris did as he was told. "Cross your ankles and put your hands behind your head. Do it now."
"I strongly suggest you comply, Mr. Paris." Janeway commanded in her dark smoky voice.
"You are being charged with trespassing, blackmail, petty theft, possession of an illegal narcotic, conspiracy, Conduct unbecoming of an Officer, sabotage, and premeditated aggravated assault with the intent to kill, premeditation aggravated sexual assault and aggravated assault on a minor that resulted in death."
"Minor? What? Who died?" Tom stared at the acting Chief of Security
"The sabotage upon the Borg alcoves resulted in the death of Naomi Wildman."
"Oh God" Tom paled. "She died? How?"
"In Cargo Bay Two, Naomi Wildman found where you had tampered with the alcoves, when she attempted to remove the device she received a 10,000v shock that resulted in her death."
"Captain I never meant for that to happen " Tom uttered. "Oh God "
"Seven of Nine died on the operating table due to extensive injuries directly related to the sabotage in the Borg alcoves. B'Elanna Torres was severely injured due to the same sabotage. She is also the victim of your intentions to drug and rape her with the narcotic that is in your possession," Rothery said, her voice filled with ice.
Tom attempted to stand, to plead with the Captain, but as soon as he moved, Rothery quickly outmaneuvered him with a foot sweep that had the man sprawling to the ground. She grabbed his arm as he fell, pinned it behind his back with a wrist turn-out and as he was face down on the floor hyper extended the elbow. "I assure you any more pressure will result in a broken arm." She leaned down growling. "You were told not to move."
"Let him up Lieutenant." Kathryn called her attack off. Rothery moved quickly aside allowing Paris to sit up. This time he did not move. He had never seen anyone move as quickly as Rothery and had no desire to see her move like that again.
"The murder of a child and an officer poses an interesting dilemma in the area of law enforcement," commented Janeway. "I don't need to point out that Naomi's death has stirred the crew of this ship. Many are calling for your blood, Tom Paris."
He said nothing.
"Captain, in Katerian justice, the execution of the slayer of a child is called for," Rothery said. "B'Elanna Torres was accosted, she could call for his blood. Again well within the Rights of the Klingon Empire. In the Borg Collective, a defective drone is placed off line and dismantled, again a death sentence. It is logical to carry out the traditions of those who where victimized to honor them. We have enough evidence to convict, Captain."
"True. However we will uphold the law of Starfleet. Move the prisoner to the brig, where he will await trial."
"And Lieutenant try to keep those who want to kill him at bay." Janeway added for theatrics. "We don't want him dead before the trial."
"Yes, Captain, if you insist."
It has been speculated that those trapped within their minds are aware of those who love them. It has been said that even in a coma, those trapped often dream. There are dreams and then there are dreams. Words, conversations, places, things and people fall into a seemingly endless repetitive loop. Words that had been spoken before are heard again. It felt like rising through deep, cold water as the dead were said to rise. Her eyes blinked, and she contemplated the newest thing that registered in her mind.
"No." she found herself responding, with the indifference of hopeless distance. It was all a blur, senseless, drifting, nothingness that swallowed her. The world around her became a defused green eerie light. Below her, coiling around her muscular legs, were tendrils of thick mist. The only thing that felt like home was the warmth, the headiness of the air. This was the atmosphere of eighteen years .
Seven refused to believe where she was or what she was seeing. It was impossible. She wasn't aboard a Borg Cube. This couldn't be real, it couldn't. Seven resisted.
"You are home." Came a purr.
Seven knew that voice all too well. Turning she saw the horribly frightening image of the Borg Queen. Her silver eyes shining as she gazed at her wayward daughter.
"Seven of Nine you are home."
"Never!" Seven spat.
"Why? This is where you belong. This is your home. You are mine, not the hybrid Klingon's. What is her designation? B'Elanna Torres?" The queen was both seductive and sadistic. She tilted her head a little and allowed a thin cruel smile to pass across her gray-mottled skin.
"You have no right to utter her designation." Seven defied the powerful image before her. "Never say her name. You will not assimilate her. You will fail. "
"Brave words. I have heard them before. From thousands of species across thousands of worlds, long before you were born. I know your weakness. You have allowed the small ones to contaminate your perfection with the ideals of guilt, shame and remorse."
"I quest for my humanity. That is not imperfection. It is not weakness."
The queen trailed a mesh covered left hand over Seven's abdomen, cooing into her ear "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."
"No " Seven whimpered.
"I'm here, BangwI." B'Elanna's voice came out of the thickness of mist. "I'm here shhhh. It'll be okay now."
"It is my opinion that the Borg are as close to pure evil as any race we've ever encountered. This is what all species who have encountered us have said. It is what they think when they encounter you Seven of Nine." The Queen's lips pressed close to Seven's ear.
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."
"The imperfect beings see the Borg as mindless drones. They would wish you dead. All imperfect beings want you dead, Seven of Nine. Hear their words. You know well. Individual thought and free will do not exist " The queen countered
"You're not Borg!" B'Elanna took Seven's face between her hands "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."
"Mindless drones most lethal enemy evil heartless cold without redemption beyond reason no will of their own no individuality "
"You are redeemed, BangwI. There's nothing in you that is evil. Nothing of you, BangwI, is evil nothing. Know this. And you never forget it."
"Disparity does not exist. I am the Collective. I bring order to chaos. I am the beginning, the end, the one who is many. I am the Borg. You are the Borg, Seven of Nine. You will become the one who is many. You will become the beginning, the end. My equal. Mine" She pushed B'Elanna aside and placed a full kiss upon Seven's lips.
"You are Annika Hansen. My Annika." B'Elanna growled rising back to her feet. "Don't listen to her Hoch'wi. She is nothing!"
My everything B'Elanna had just called Annika her everything
"I want to bring you perfection." The queen smiled. "You are my equal. My counterpart. Superior to Locutus and Data I will bring you perfection."
"I doubt that." B'Elanna snarled.
"That is because she has not been properly stimulated yet." The queen purred, as she traced the full lips of Seven's mouth.
"Well not by you 'Drone.'" B'Elanna flashed a toothy grin. "You are flawed and weak, and delusional." B'Elanna backhanded the queen hard enough to send the cybernetic being sprawling to the metal floor of the Cube. "Never touch my girl again, drone."
Still reeling from B'Elanna's words, Seven turned to the Queen. "You are small, you are irrelevant. You have no power over me!" Annika turned to B'Elanna. "qawIu."
B'Elanna puffed up with pride as she heard the Klingonese from her lover. 'I choose you.' Seven had defied the Queen, defied her fear and chose love. B'Elanna had given her the courage to face what terrified her the most.
Seven/Annika turned to the Queen. "Jithab chojeylaHob."
(I am free; you cannot defeat me) Seven would not allow the terror of what the Borg meant to defeat her. She would not allow terror of her past to overcome her.
Annika smiled to her beloved, gently stroking the darker skin, before she stepped up to the queen. "Go assimilate yourself PetaQ!" in her hand without knowing how it got there Seven held an assassins dagger. She looked at it then to the queen. "I am redeemed. I will not take another life because of the Borg." Seven dropped the dagger. "A line must be drawn here. I will not fall back. I will not comply. I am an individual. How small you have become. I am not Borg. I am an individual."
B'Elanna picked up the Kut'luch and stared directly into the face of the Queen. Dark chocolate eyes glared deeply into silver. "I want you to see who it is that is going to kill you 'Drone'." Moving quickly the knife was drawn across the throat. "Resistance is futile!" The Queen's head toppled off black armored shoulders. The body crumbled to the floor with a metallic clang. B'Elanna wiped the blood off on her sleeve before she discarded the weapon in order to embrace her beloved. "She is the symbol of fear, BangwI. Your fear. I could not allow her to live." The Klingon's strong arms coiled around the thin waist, pulling her lover into her body's embrace. "Besides, it was a matter of honor. Did I not promise to protect you?" She smiled.
Seven closed her eyes, allowing the scent of her beloved to fill her senses. The heady musk surrounded her, comforting her, making her feel safe, protected and loved. She sighed the name of her heart.
The doctor raised his holographic head. He could have sworn he had heard Seven utter B'Elanna's name. But as he checked the readouts on the bio-bed, they had not changed. Seven was still locked in a coma; therefore, she could not have spoken.
"B'Elanna, you've been going at this for almost thirty hours straight." Harry complained as he rubbed the bridge of his nose. "You need rest. I need rest. Hell, even Icheb needs rest."
"Seven needs my help, Starfleet." The young Klingon said as she took a spanner in hand and adjusted the naquada relays. "I am going to finish this."
Harry sighed and looked to his friend and swallowed hard. "Lanna " he put a hand over hers stopping the engineer. "You need rest. I know you're worried about Seven. But she isn't going anywhere."
Dark chocolate eyes rested on his. "Harry, Seven is dying. Now either you help me finish the alcove or you get the hell out of the way."
The young Asian man sucked in a deep breath. "And you're killing yourself trying to save her. What do you think she'd say to that?"
"What?" The fire within B'Elanna reared.
Young Icheb stopped his own work and watched the interplay between the adults with some fascination. He understood the lieutenant's drive to finish the alcoves, as he to was very concerned for his mentor. He had come to think of Seven as his maternal figure and cared a great deal for her.
"What do you think Seven would say if she knew you were expending all your energy to the extent of hurting yourself?"
"Seven of Nine would object to it." Icheb said before B'Elanna could say anything. "She would not comply with your deactivation, Lieutenant, to preserve her existence."
"I am not going to discuss this as a committee." she glared at Harry. "Or as a Collective." The glare was now placed for the boy at her side. "I've work to do." Steadying her breath she went back to the components of the mobile alcove.
"Lieutenant, if you require regeneration, I will continue working on Seven's alcove." The boy offered.
"No, that's alright kiddo. I couldn't sleep even if I wanted too. I keep thinking of her lying there so still. I need to keep busy, or I'll go mad. And besides, the work is the only thing keeping me from tearing Tom's head off his shoulders."
Icheb lifted an eyebrow in a very Seven-like reaction. "Lieutenant Torres does not Klingon tradition demand retribution against the crimes of which Lieutenant Paris commented against your BangwI?"
The dark olive jaw gritted hard as teeth ground against teeth. "It does. But if I do that, I'll end up in the brig. Trust me, Icheb, it has taken every ounce of my self-control from seeking that PetaQ out and killing him. Right now the only thing that is saving his miserable skin is Seven. She needs me. She needs to regenerate and the only people on this whole damn ship besides her that can build this alcove are in this room." B'Elanna set her jaw once more. "Now get to work."
The two males looked at each other then back to their companion, both holding their own concern for the woman that was driving herself to the breaking point to save another soul, they were worried for.
"I will comply." Icheb said. "To insist you regenerate is a futile endeavor." He said blandly. "Though Seven of Nine will be displeased when you are not functioning within normal parameters. Ensign Kim and I will simply succumb to Seven's as well as the Captain's displeasure when they discover we were not more insistent you comply. But you are Klingon. Klingons are not known for their logic."
B'Elanna set down the spanner once more and looked the boy in the eye. "Are you telling me that I should take a break so you two can stay out of trouble?" there was some amusement in her voice.
"I would not presume." Icheb responded.
"Really?" B'Elanna sighed.
Harry snickered but dared not look at B'Elanna.
"In another few hours I'll have this finished. We'll get Seven into it, and then I'll go 'regenerate'." Is that acceptable little Borgling?"
"That is acceptable." The young lad said.
B'Elanna snickered under her breath. "You really are Seven's son."
Icheb lifted an eyebrow once more. "If that is so, then may I ask what relation you and I share, if you and Seven my SoS are forming your own Unimatrix?"
Harry stopped his own work on the interior of the biobed alcove to see what B'Elanna's reaction to the question would be.
"I hate to tell you Icheb, but I haven't thought about it." She tried to smooth the words with a smile. "Sorry."
"An apology is not necessary, Lieutenant Torres." With that he went back to work, leaving a perplexed hybrid Klingon thinking about what the boy had said. If Icheb was indeed Seven's stepson then what was B'Elanna's relationship with the teen.
"Icheb what do you think of your Sev your SoS and I being together?"
"It is acceptable." He said with a slight turn of the corners of his lips.
"Sounds like a Borg-blessing to me, Maquis." Harry smirked.
"Guess so." B'Elanna said as she went back to work. "And what about you?"
"Surprising but not. I think it explains the heat and fire between you two. Surprising because well I guess like a lot of us we always thought Seven was the Captain's girlfriend." Harry fixed his gaze on B'Elanna and took in a deeper breath. "Tom well being his best friend aside, he was all wrong for you, Maquis. You were always way too good for him. I am sorry he hurt you. But I am glad you dumped him."
B'Elanna thought of the words. Actually she didn't dump him; they had taken a break from the relationship because they were fighting too much. Their fights were not at all like those she had with Seven, nor were they as stimulating.
Fighting with Seven tended to be centered around protocol almost all of them were centered on protocol come to think about it. Yes, Seven placed fire in the Klingon's heart, but it wasn't the sort of fire everyone thought it was. It was deeper and far more warming until recently B'Elanna had not shown. She suspected they would clash heads in Engineering from time to time. But on a personal level, B'Elanna knew Seven would never treat her as Tom had. B'Elanna would not feel as if she was left out in the airlock if something new came along. Seven would never make B'Elanna feel second or last in her life. She recalled looking at the proposals Seven had drawn up for the energy reserves and thought it would be exciting to work on a project such as those with her BangwI.
"Actually, I think two of the hottest babes on the ship being together is pretty cool. Though I think that now you and Seven are both off the market, you'll break some hearts."
Icheb tilted his head. "Off the market? I was unaware that Voyager engaged in slave-trade."
Both adults laughed. "Icheb, he means now that Sev and I are um formed our own little Unimatrix that we are not available to date others." B'Elanna explained.
"I understand." The boy nodded. "I concur, many crewmembers will be distressed now that you and my SoS are unavailable to 'date' for they would seek to engage such pursuits themselves. I would not be agreeable to anyone but you and perhaps the Captain or Lieutenant Rothery to date my SoS."
B'Elanna blinked. "Um thanks." She smiled. "Then I'm in good company."
"So, Icheb you don't think I'd make a good mate for your... um SoS?" Harry sounded a little wounded that the Borgling hadn't included him in the list of suitable mates for Seven.
"You would not."
Now B'Elanna was curious. "Why?"
"Seven of Nine prefers females for mates as she is a lesbian. You are male, Ensign Kim, therefore completely unsuitable as a mate. Though you are an adequate friend."
Harry just stared. "Oh."
B'Elanna broke out laughing simply enjoying the moment of mirth and the stupefied expression upon the young Asian's face. The poor choirboy had lost out again.
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