DISCLAIMER: I do not own these characters. They are the property of Paramount.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Tina LaMarch
B'Elanna picked at her dinner. Miral was asleep and Tom, rather than being home pleaded exciting chapter. The half-klingon stood and walked over to the tv she had so labored over for him. She couldn't believe that she was playing second fiddle to the damned holodeck again. Actually, she was third fiddle. Even when he was here he was immersed in the stupid television.
She thought longingly yet again of the 30 seconds she had full plans for divorce before she found out about her pregnancy. Tom had indicated that he was fully vested in their relationship and their child and she fell for it. Damn his charm. She was smarter than that. If something didn't change she was afraid they would hit the point of being unable to preserve their friendship.
B'Elanna drew her fingers across the top of the television. She ran her hand thru her dark hair as she looked around their quarters. She had wanted this to work. She didn't want her baby to grow up the child stuck in the middle when it all fell apart like she had been. Maybe, just maybe it would be worse for her daughter to grow up child to a child. It was hard enough to come home alone, she set herself up for it. Miral never asked for this. Would Tom only see her when their interests meshed? If that were the case, maybe divorce would be the right thing for everyone.
B'Elanna sighed heavily. This was not what she wanted to be doing on her night off. She had to talk to Tom. She tapped her comm badge. "Torres to Neelix."
"Neelix here Lieutenant."
"Was wondering if you had a couple hours available to watch Miral?"
"Unfortunately, I am unable to. Samantha needed a sitter for Naomi as well. Shall I send them down?"
"Please. As soon as possible. Thanks. Torres out."
B'Elanna sighed and went to get her jacket. She looked over Miral, stroking her back. "Going to make this right, one way or another, baby."
The door chimed and B'Elanna opened it to find Naomi and Seven.. B'Elanna blinked and whispered loudly, "You're the sitter?" Naomi smiled up at the former Borg.
"Seven is a great sitter. She plays Kadis Kot and replicates really good mac'n'cheese."
"I believe Naomi, that the Lieutenant is concerned with my ability to mind children uninterested as yet in Kadis Kot and mac'n'cheese."
Seven's silver implant rose over her eye as she regarded B'Elanna. "I assure you, Lieutenant that I have studied texts on child-rearing and have on occasion assisted Neelix in watching both Naomi and Miral during a meal rush." She looked at the half Klingon. "I find however, I am more successful in 'sitting' if I am in the same room as the child."
B'Elanna shook her head and stepped back from the doorway. "Right um right. She is
asleep so I don't think there will be any problems. If she gets hungry, there is a bottle made up and ready and the changing table is in the bedroom. I will be back in a couple hours."
B'Elanna looked at the tall blonde and wondered at the weird twists of fate that would make someone as distant as the Borg babysitter material. "Thanks," she said as she went out to find her wayward husband.
B'Elanna stood outside Holodeck 2 staring at the door. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but maybe confronting him here was a bad idea. Then again, this place was Paris's mistress. B'Elanna unlocked the door with her command codes and walked in. Somehow, she was not nearly as surprised as she thought she would be when she found out that the Holodeck was not his only mistress.
"Ensign," she said to the panicking red-head as she tried to grab for her clothes in the black and white environment of Chaotica's Harem. "You have 10 seconds to leave before I lose my famous temper." Tom's date broke a ship speed record getting out, without even taking time to pull on more than her tunic.
B'Elanna grabbed Tom's arm as he tried to leave. "Not you flyboy."
She pinned him to the wall with a heavy hand to the chest as she looked him over trying to figure out what she saw in him. She growled. Tom paled.. "I came here to ask for a divorce. I was willing to at least hear you out if you thought you might be able to change my mind. Right now, you better thank your lucky stars that I don't want to have someone else watch Miral while I am in the brig. Your shit will be in the hall in a couple hours. I suggest that you stay the hell away from me until I calm down or next time I may just say 'The fuck with it.' and kick your sorry ass. Got that helm rat?"
Tom nodded as B'Elanna released him. His knees gave out under him but his soon to be ex-wife didn't see. She was already halfway out the door.
B'Elanna leaned against the bulkhead and covered her eyes. She took a shaky breath. Wrapping her arms around herself, she slowly started moving toward her quarters.
B'Elanna walked in to find Seven holding Miral against her shoulder as she sang a lullaby. Naomi looked up from the picture she was drawing. "Lt. Torres, you are back early."
"Indeed, Lieutenant." Seven moved closer, examining B'Elanna's face. "Are you well?
Would you like me to call sickbay for you?"
"I'm fine," said B'Elanna more gruffly than she intended. She took her baby and held her. "Thanks for watching Miral."
The Chief sighed staring at her daughter. She handed Miral back to Seven. "Actually, I have a lot to do in the bedroom. Would you mind hanging out with Miral while I take care of things?"
Seven nodded and returned to sit in the chair next to Naomi's perch on the couch.
B'Elanna walked over to the replicator and ordered up a large sack. She went into the bedroom. Seven and Naomi looked at one another as they heard snarling words in Klingon and the occasional thump muffled by the closed door to the bedroom. Seven's comm badge chirped.
Samantha Wildman called to let Seven know that she was coming to pick up Naomi. Seven packed up Naomi's activity bag as Naomi finished her picture. "Seven, would you give this to Lt. Torres?" she asked. Naomi thought Lt. Torres looked upset and she wanted to give her something to make her feel better. Seven nodded and walked to the door of the quarters just as Samantha arrived.
Naomi locked her hands behind her back in a pose reminiscent of her hero. "Thank you Seven. I look forward to our next game of Kadis Kot."
"As do I NaomiWildman. Ensign Wildman, NaomiWildman, have a good evening."
As the door slid shut Seven moved to place Miral in her crib. She looked apprehensively at the bedroom door. It had been quiet in there for several minutes. Seven entered the room to find a large pile of clothing in the middle of the bed and a miserable half-Klingon weeping quietly on the far side.
Seven was not particularly comfortable with physically touching others, but she was at a loss as to what to say to B'Elanna. They still were not particularly close, though the animosity of their early days was gone. Seven respected B'Elanna immensely, her honesty, her sense of honor, her passion. The former Borg had hope of one day being a friend to this remarkable individual and she was surprised to find herself feeling pain at the sight of B'Elanna's pain.
She moved to B'Elanna's side, kneeling down she placed her hand on the brunette's shoulder. B'Elanna slipped to her knees and wrapped herself tightly around Seven now sobbing loudly.
B'Elanna gradually realized that she was crying on Seven of all people. She got up and moved around the other side of the bed wiping her eyes and stuffing the sack. "Sorry Seven. Didn't mean to get you all soggy."
B'Elanna gave a bitter laugh. "I soak your shoulder, you get to call me B'Elanna off duty."
"B'Elanna? May I help you?"
"Got a baseball bat and a jones to knock Paris out of the park?" B'Elanna huffed as she hefted the bag of Tom's crap.
Seven's eyebrow shot up in her 'I haven't a clue' expression. B'Elanna led them out of the bedroom and opened the door of the quarters. She tossed the sack into the corridor. Coming back into the living room, B'Elanna ran her hand through her hair and ordered up another sack.
Finished tossing items into the sack, she opened the door and started heaving the rest of Tom's crap out. Seven stood quietly watching her, her hands folded behind her back. As the tv followed the last of Tom's comic reprints, Seven went to the replicator. She ordered up a mug of blood wine and placed it on the table beside the door. B'Elanna saw it and looked at Seven.
"um, thanks." She took a shaky breath. B'Elanna quaffed the beverage and went to sit down.
"Would you like me to go, B'Elanna?"
"Do you want to go?"
"I am uncertain of the appropriate actions in this situation. I wish to remain to help you, but do not wish to do the wrong thing in my ignorance. I have no wish to see you further injured."
B'Elanna looked at Seven. "Sit."
Seven sat primly on the edge of the couch. She looked at the Chief. B'Elanna looked up. For a long moment she stared into blue eyes. She placed her hand on Seven's. "Thank you Seven." She opened her mouth to speak again and closed it. "Seven, did you know that he was cheating on me?"
"I was aware that he flirted with other women. It was distasteful and I felt it impugned your honor, but felt that I had no basis on which to challenge his actions."
B'Elanna's eyes slid closed. She could feel the salt building behind them again. "For future reference, Seven, if I ever get so stupid as to marry someone like that again, you have my permission to kick their ass for being a jerk and mine for being stupid."
"I will comply, B'Elanna."
B'Elanna let out a harsh laugh. "I know you will. You and I have our differences, but I know sure as two and two is four that you will do that for me." She wiped her face with a sleeve. "You are a better friend than I knew." B'Elanna stood to get a refill on her blood wine. "Can I get you something Seven?"
"I do not require . No thank you, B'Elanna."
"I am kind of tired Seven, I think I need to get some sleep."
"In that case, I will go regenerate. If you should require me further, B'Elanna, please do not hesitate to contact me."
"I'll do that. Maybe we can have lunch together?"
"I will comply."
"Seven? Thank you, you know, for watching Miral, for being there for me. It meant a lot."
"I am pleased to have been of assistance. Good evening, B'Elanna." Seven left, leaving B'Elanna to her quiet quarters.
After a long and restless night, B'Elanna rolled out of bed. She took care of Miral's needs and after quieting her, went back in the bedroom to get herself together. She got on a fresh uniform and brushed her hair until it threatened to just give up and migrate somewhere less stressful. B'Elanna grabbed a pair of data PADDs shoving them in the pocket of Miral's day bag. Picking up her daughter, she made her way to the Mess.
She was struck by how quiet the place got when she walked in. "Anyone in my business this morning?" she muttered under her breath. Neelix bustled up and swept Miral and the bag out of B'Elanna's arms. She barely had time to grab her PADDs out of the side pocket.
"I have a special breakfast all set for you B'Elanna. The stasis plate on the end."
"Thanks Neelix." B'Elanna turned as she felt a hand on her elbow. "Starfleet." She looked at her friend, Harry Kim. She shook her head and grabbed her plate. "So how many versions are there now?"
"Four. One from Ellie, three from Tom. You ok?"
"Great. Never better."
"Good to hear, because you look like shit. Come on, I have us a table."
"Why aren't you hanging out with Tom?"
"Tom is my friend, but I know better. You are too accommodating when it comes to his crap. If you tossed him out, it was for a good reason. 'Sides, he has half the females on the ship licking his wounds." Harry laughed. "Sorry not really funny."
"Kind of funny."
"Why didn't you call me Maquis?"
"Surprisingly enough, Seven was there for me."
"Aside from the being in the vicinity part, no surprise. She likes you even if she doesn't show it well."
B'Elanna's fork stopped halfway to her mouth. She had to admit, it sure seemed that way.
'Senior Staff meetings are fun. Everyone looking at me like my dog died and my house caught fire. Even Seven, which is just weird. Tom looks beleaguered. Wonder what version of this he is selling now? 'Oh Evil B'Elanna tried to kill me and I was all manly and strong and said no we need to get a divorce, no more blah blah blah.'' B'Elanna choked off a snort.
Captain Janeway shot her a look as she closed up the meeting. "Dismissed everyone, B'Elanna, please stay."
'Mmmmmm more fun.'
Captain Janeway turned her chair to face B'Elanna's.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"Other than put in the request for the divorce, no."
The captain sighed and rubbed her forehead. She stood and came around the table to place her hands on B'Elanna's shoulders. "I hope you know you can come to me B'Elanna. Anytime. You mean a great deal to me."
"Thank you. I just need some time."
"The door's open. I want you to finish up the system review today and then take a few days off. It's not like you haven't earned it a dozen times over the past couple months."
"I don't need the time off. I want to work."
"So you can bury yourself, the same way you do. Please B'Elanna, take the time off. Take care of yourself and Miral. Don't make this an order."
"B'Elanna, you want me to make him scrub conduits?"
B'Elanna snorted. "Thanks but I hope to come up with something better."
The captain put up her hands. "As long as I don't officially know about it. Now go get those reports done so you can go spend time with Miral. I'll send the divorce documents to you tomorrow for perusal."
B'Elanna finished up the first draft of the report before looking up. Checking the chronometer she found that it was 1300. She informed Vorik that she would be taking a long lunch and went to Astrometrics. Walking in she found Seven leaning against a console.
"Seven?" She touch the Borg's shoulder. "Seven?"
Seven's head came up. A moment later she stood straight and regarded the half-Klingon engineer. "Lt. Torres, I apologize. I was unaware of your presence."
"Are you ok?"
"I am operating within acceptable parameters. I am simply experiencing ," the Borg hesitated momentarily, "a headache. May I be of assistance Lieutenant?"
"We were going to lunch. Maybe we should stop off at sickbay, you look a little pale."
"It is a headache, Lieutenant. Nothing more. If you do not wish to have lunch with me simply say so," Seven snapped off
B'Elanna bristled. "You know what Borg? You may have done a passable imitation of a human being last night, but today you are back to the same pain in my ass you always were." She turned to go. She actually got as far as the doorway. She sighed and turned. "I'm sorry. Snapping like that, I mean. I do want to have lunch with you.."
Seven stood at ease. "I apologize as well. I am unused to headaches. I will endeavor to control my outbursts in the future."
"'Cause you have so many of them. Don't even worry about it. C'mon Seven. There is a nutritional supplement waiting with your name on it."
B'Elanna and Seven entered the Mess. When the conversation died down at their entrance, B'Elanna shook her head. "Don't even want to know."
"Know what Lieutenant?"
"Lunch counts as off-duty Seven, it's B'Elanna.. I don't want to know what they were talking about before we came in."
Seven regarded her companion, nodding her head. "Would you like me to get our trays while you visit with Miral, B'Elanna?"
"Sure, only none of the pasty stuff for me. Real food."
"I will comply." Seven moved off toward the food as B'Elanna went to the corner where Miral was sitting in her crib.
She tickled little Miral's foot. Seeing the smiles she picked her baby up and walked over the table where Seven had placed the trays. She frowned slightly in confusion as she noticed a decided lack of goo on Seven's side of the table. "Seven? Why aren't you drinking supplement number whatever today?"
"The doctor and the captain have indicated that I should wean myself off the supplements and attempt to ingest what you would refer to as 'real food.'"
"Well, I suppose Neelix's unique take on cuisine could be called 'real food' so let's dig in." B'Elanna grabbed her fork and took a mouthful. "Maybe I was hasty," she said as she swallowed. "Hey, you didn't eat any."
"I felt it was prudent to wait until I ascertained your response to the food."
"Indeed." Seven looked up as Neelix approached the table.
"So, ladies, how is it? I thought a little touch of burrin oil on top would give it a little kick." Neelix grinned at Miral, who was waving her arms.
"That's the hot stuff right?" asked B'Elanna.
"A discerning palate, B'Elanna."
"I don't mean to upset you or anything, but Seven's stomach might not be up to this."
Neelix gasped. "Of course, you're right. Why don't I fix you both a nice bowl of corn chowder. Non-spicy and of course tasty as well."
"Thanks Neelix, you're a life saver." Neelix swept up the trays and wandered back to the kitchen.
B'Elanna looked back at Seven. Her eyes were closed and she was so still that B'Elanna could barely make out her breath. B'Elanna reached across the table to touch her shoulder. Seven jumped in her seat, the hand that had been holding onto the table crushed the edge.
"Still hurting?" B'Elanna asked. "You know Seven, you and headaches are never a good combo."
"You are correct. Perhaps I should consult the doctor."
"Neelix, we need those to go. Let me put Miral down and we'll go."
"It is not necessary that you accompany me."
"I invited you to lunch and I am not letting you out of my sight until you eat something. Deal with it Borg."
Seven looked like she was going to protest further until her eyes slid shut. A moment passed before she nodded minutely.
B'Elanna walked Seven to Sickbay. As they entered, Tom came around the corner. "Where is the Doctor?" growled B'Elanna.
Tom, realizing that proximity was a bad idea stood well back. "St. Andrews, I think. He'll be here in about 20 minutes. What the problem?"
"Seven's got a headache, Tom. Why don't you let the Doctor know she's here?"
"This is unnecessary B'Elanna. I will simply return when the Doctor is available."
"B'Elanna? She's calling you B'Elanna? Boy, you two got buddy buddy."
"Shut up flyboy! You Seven, will sit. Call the damned doctor."
Tom backed into the office, hands in the air. B'Elanna guided Seven to the nearest biobed. B'Elanna leaned against the wall muttering until the Doctor showed up a few minutes later. "What took you so long?"
"Impatient Lieutenant? Now what is so catastrophic that it could not wait for my eagle?"
"It is nothing Doctor, simply a headache."
"Headaches are common enough, but strangely enough, not common in Borg. Any headache could be an indication that something else is happening. How long have you been experiencing symptoms, Seven?"
"I experienced one brief headache two days ago, another yesterday, and a series of headaches today."
The Doctor looked up from his medical tricorder. "And this is the first I have heard of it? Seven, you know better." He shot a dark look at the half-Klingon as she should have known better as well. She shot a dark look back. "Well, I suppose better late than never. Let me go analyse this data and we will fix you right up." The doctor walked over to the computer with as much dignity as plaid knickers and a polo shirt would allow.
"Lieu- B'Elanna, thank you for accompanying me. I am sure you have work to do."
"Dismissed Lt. Torres," B'Elanna smiled. "Gotcha. I don't want to poke my nose in where it doesn't belong, but you'll let me know when the Doc gives you a clean bill of health, right?"
Seven's implant rose.
"I am taking a beating on the whole eating lunch with you thing today. Just want to know when I'll get to reschedule. Had this whole brain-picking thing planned, ya know."
"Indeed. I will inform you when my brain is once again available for picking."
B'Elanna finished up the reports and signed out of Engineering.. 'Three days off,' she inwardly groaned. 'Least I will catch up on my reading, plus bonus, I get to scour every bit of Tom out of my quarters.'
She reached to the sky stretching as she walked to the turbo lift. "Torres to Seven."
"How are you doing?"
"I am functioning within acceptable parameters."
"You're not telling me anything."
"I have no wish to discuss my current health, Lieutenant."
B'Elanna sighed and rubbed her ridges. "Fine. Are you busy tonight? Maybe we can make that lunch a supper. You can look over my projects PADDs and tell me all the places I went wrong."
"You usually react violently to that Lieutenant."
" and I might tonight, but I don't want to be alone with my thoughts right now and really don't want to deal with anyone's pity. Ok?"
"Great. I am going to pick up Miral. Drop by whenever you are done."
"I will comply."
B'Elanna had Miral out on the playmat when the door chimed. "Come," B'Elanna hollered at the door. "Thank goodness it's you."
"String of well-meaning types came by earlier. Had me ready to commit hari-kari. Only difference between this and post-funeral shit is I'm not buried in casseroles."
"Is that a Klingon tradition?" Seven's implant quirked.
B'Elanna's eyes narrowed. "That was a remarkable imitation of a joke Seven. Can see I am going to have to keep on my toes tonight. Will you play with Miral while I play with the replicator?"
"Of course, B'Elanna." Seven sat Indian style on the mat. She picked up Miral who immediately went for the shinies on Seven's face. B'Elanna smiled and turned to the replicator.
"Listen, Seven?" B'Elanna hesitantly said. "I get from earlier you don't want to talk about the headaches, but I just wanted to let you know that if you change your mind, I'm here. I mean, I got you all soggy last night. Seems only fair."
"Thank you B'Elanna. I will keep both your offer and your debt in mind."
B'Elanna snorted. "Ok, sandwiches and soup sound alright?"
"That will be acceptable."
B'Elanna began placing dishes on the table. She pulled a PADD out of her stack on the coffee table and set it next to one of the plates. Kneeling beside Seven, she lifted Miral into her arms and put her into the high chair next to the table. Tilting the chair back, she gave Miral a small bottle. "Dinner for three." She waved at the seat where the PADD was and said, "Come on Seven, while it's still hot."
She pointed to the PADD as the former Borg sat down. "I was working on a power redistribution idea. If I can iron out the bugs, maybe I can lower that weird 'backwash' effect we are getting in the secondary systems. Maybe we can even free up some more power."
"Astrometrics could use another .3% increase."
"There you go Borg. Keep my mind off Tom by making me want to kill you before the end of the first course."
B'Elanna turned to check on Miral's progress with the bottle. She heard a high pitch whine and turned toward the blonde in time to see the PADD's screen shatter under Seven's thumb. "Seven?" The Borg's eyes were closed tightly. She levered herself out of the chair.
"I apologize B'Elanna. I must report to sickbay." Seven's normally even tones were laced with anxiousness.
"Let me get Miral and we'll ."
"No! That is unacceptable." Seven left before B'Elanna could finish speaking.
B'Elanna stared at the door, not knowing what to do.
B'Elanna ran her fingers through her hair. Seven obviously didn't want to talk about what was happening to her but losing control like that could be dangerous. B'Elanna wanted to respect Seven's wishes, but not when what Seven was doing felt eerily similar to B'Elanna's death wish period in the Holodeck. "Computer, locate Seven of Nine."
"Seven of Nine is in Cargo Bay Two."
"Right. Lt. Torres to Harry Kim."
"Starfleet, wanna help me out?"
"What do you need?"
"Come sit with Miral, I have something to take care of."
"Not something I can be charged with aiding and abetting for?"
"No, just please hurry."
"On my way, Kim out."
As soon as Harry arrived, B'Elanna was out the door and into the turbo lift. "OK Borg, not talking, that's your prerogative. Not talking and not getting the help you obviously need, now that is where I'm gonna step in." She stalked her way to the Cargo Bay and walked in. "Listen here Borg! I have better things " She ran to where the former Borg was curled in a fetal position at the base of the alcove. "Shit. Computer- Medical emergency, two to transport to sick bay."
"Please state the nature of the . Really now this is getting ridiculous. I gave her permission to go back to her station if and only if she reported further symptoms." The Doctor waved the tricorder over the semi-conscious drone.
"What the hell is wrong with her?"
"She requested privacy, but it appears that the problem has escalated to the point where I may need your assistance Lieutenant. Help me get her comfortable and then join me in my office. We'll call down Captain Janeway and talk."
Several minutes later, they were gathered around the monitor in the Doctor's office. "I done what I can to stabilize her but that will not last long. Seven is headed for systemic failure."
"What is causing it and how do we stop it?" The captain looked concerned. Her gaze kept drifting to the blonde on the biobed.
"It is her transceiver. When I originally assessed the frequency, it appeared to be 'noisy' as it were. I thought that this was the source of Seven's headaches. I made adjustments which appeared to reduce the noise. I gave her orders to report any further difficulties. Obviously, she did not. She in all likelihood would not be in her present condition if she had."
"She is receiving a signal that is overriding all filters and is sending her cortical implants into disarray. The headaches are merely the first sign. It's almost as if the signal is a virus, destroying her defenses and attempting to overwrite the programming of various cranial features, but most disconcertingly, the node. Between the filtering I have instituted and the work of her own implants, she is fighting the effects but it is strictly temporary."
"We need a way to shield her, or find a way to stop the signal at its source. Either way, we must work quickly. Any ideas ladies?"
The sound of the spanner hitting the wall resounded in the tiny space. Ensign Kim ducked his head around the edge of the Jefferies tube doorway. "You ok, Maquis?"
"No I am not ok. I can't remember the last time I saw ok. I can't make this work."
"You're putting too much on yourself, B'Elanna.. Seven wouldn't expect you to kill yourself trying to save her."
B'Elanna grabbed her head with both hands and groaned. "How the hell is this happening? We can't stop it at the transceiver, the Doctor can't convince Seven's body to reject the signal and can't remove the damned transceiver itself, we can't block the signal in the sickbay, or on a ship level, it just keeps remodulating."
"Its adapting so fast, how do you fight that?"
B'Elanna's head shot up. "What did you just say?
"I just asked how we can fight something that adapts that fast?"
B'Elanna gave Kim a kiss on the cheek. "Starfleet you are beautiful." She shifted past him and dropped her legs down into the vertical shaft. "Go ask the Captain how Plan B is coming. Tell her I have a thought on Plan A."
B'Elanna hurried to the closest turbo lift and ordered it to Sickbay.
B'Elanna walked straight to Seven's bedside. She touched the Borg's hand. Seven's eyes opened. "B'Elanna."
"Hey Seven. How's the head?"
"I am experiencing trouble focusing, accessing my language subroutines beyond Federation Standard, and my ocular implant appears to be malfunctioning."
"Sorry about that Seven." B'Elanna stroked a lock of hair off Seven's forehead. "Listen, I know that it's really hard on you right now, but I have to ask some questions."
"Of course B'Elanna."
"Seven, could this be a Borg virus?"
"The way it's adapting to our attempts to stop its effects. It makes me think of rotating shields and well, you know, Borg adaptive techniques. Could have been created by the Borg or specifically engineered by a species aware of the Borg's adaptive techniques."
"It is logical."
"It doesn't make it easier to come up with a way to fight. We would have to out-Borg Borg and/or really slick Borg haters. On the other hand, it is a clear sign that Plan B, taking out the source is the way to go here. Don't you worry Seven. We'll find a way to make you right as rain."
"B'Elanna? I wish to apologize, for the meals I have ruined, for deceiving you."
"Don't Seven. It's ok. You were out of sorts, and the whole not talking thing? I am the last person on this ship to get ornery over something like that. I do it plenty myself. Just promise me you won't bail on our next meal together."
"I regret that I cannot promise that B'Elanna."
"Don't you give up on me Borg. Not when I finally start liking you."
"You like me?"
"Don't let it go to your head. Listen, I am going to let the Doctor know what we were talking about and then we are going to locate the source and I will personally make it into very very tiny bits. You sleep. I'll be back to check on you later." She turned to go..
"I like you too." B'Elanna didn't bother trying to hide her smile as she walked into the Doctor's office.
Captain Janeway sat looking at B'Elanna. "So we are looking at a some sort of Borg virus boobytrap using a transceiver as the vector of infection?"
"Something like that. I think we should put our resources on destroying the source if we can. Every time we start to make progress shielding Seven from the effects, it adapts and we are worse off than when we started. It would take a lucky break of unbelievable magnitude to give us ways to out-adapt it."
"Harry, you have been working with the team attempting to locate the source of the signal. Any luck?"
"As a matter of fact, I think we've located it. It appears to be located just off the saucer. The location seems to remain in one position relative to the hull. A small subspace distortion is located there. Perhaps to make it harder to take out?"
"A limpet," mused Tom Paris.
"I was just thinking that it could be like a limpet. World War II there were these mines they used to attached to hulls of ships by way of a magnet and a length of cable. Maybe we passed through an area of limpet mines just waiting for a passing cube."
"That is a thought. It certainly wouldn't be the first time that someone has come up with a way to fight Borg without actually engaging them. B'Elanna, I want you, Tuvok and Harry to try and find a way to remove and disarm this limpet, destroy it only if you have to. If you are forced to destroy it, please try to find a way to do it without taking a piece of the hull." Captain Janeway sat back in her chair. "I hope it's not booby trapped, but operate under the belief that it is. Every possible precaution is to be taken."
"Doctor, if we take efforts to shield Seven to minimum so that we can focus on removal of the source, what are Seven's chances?"
The Doctor paused a moment. "Every time we shielded Seven, the new attack would hit her harder. Her systems are not able to keep going the way they are. They are simply being worn down too fast. I would say we are running out of time either way, but at least focusing on the source gives us a more concrete hope of resolution. I will hold back on further shielding rotations for critical situations, but truthfully, we are within hours of losing her either way."
Captain Janeway sighed. "B'Elanna, Harry, I am going to work with Tuvok on using sensors to find out more from up here. We will get any information down to you. You two should plan on having to get more hands on. Doctor, I need some more information from you, so stick around. Dismissed."
Harry and B'Elanna entered the turbo lift after a brief conversation with Tuvok. "You know," Harry started, "you should let Seven know what is going on. She has to be going crazy down there in Sickbay and you know Doc won't tell her anything worth knowing.. I can get the tricorders and sensor packets together, meet you in the airlock."
B'Elanna looked at her friend for a long time. "Think maybe that's a good idea. Thanks Harry."
B'Elanna entered the Sickbay. Tom was hovering over by Seven. She stomped over. "Tom," she said coldly.
"B'Elanna. Hmmmm, I think I have an elsewhere to be. Seven, try to keep your eyes open as much as possible, Doc doesn't want to keep having to jump-start you." Tom wandered off into the office to converse with Sam Wildman who had been monitoring Seven during the meeting.
"Hey Seven, thought you'd want an update." B'Elanna put her elbows on the edge of the biobed, and leaned in. Seven looked at her slightly unfocussed. "Anyway, the source, it's hanging around in one spot just above the hull. Making itself easier for us bust off. That's good. I like easy. I was thinking about your early headaches. Maybe they were pings to determine whether to activate the device or maybe it was warming up or something. I don't know. I just wanted to tell you what is going on." B'Elanna paused and looked at the quiet former Borg. "You know I never asked you what you wanted to eat. I mean I was like 'soup and sandwiches ok?' but really you could have had a mean craving for pasta. When we break you out of here, you choose ok? I'm sorry I'm babbling.." B'Elanna looked down and saw a tear on Seven's cheek. She wiped it away. "Come on Seven. None of that. We're going to be ok. Have a little faith in me here. I'm not going to let you die like this. If you go out, it will be me killing you for fucking with my engines." Seven's implant raised slightly. "That's better." B'Elanna leaned over and kissed Seven's forehead. "Be back before you know it." She straightened up and walked past the office.
Tom leaned out. "So you and the Borg hunh?" His perspective on the world changed suddenly as he ended up flat on his ass.
"Do your job Tom. Keep her alive," snarled B'Elanna as she stalked out of Sickbay.
'Hate this, hate this, hate this.' B'Elanna carefully slid her feet over the hull of the ship. 'Stupid limpit, stupid ev suit, stupid hull, stupid space.' She drew up even with Harry and began removing sensory equipment. The distortion was not visible, but now that they knew what they were looking at, using sensors, it was lit up like a Christmas tree. The distortion was approximately a meter across and about two meters up from the hull. B'Elanna began scanning to determine what, if anything was anchoring the device.
Harry began powering up a device to collapse the sub-space field. They were going to hold off until they got a clearer picture of what they were dealing with, but he wanted it ready and waiting. "You think we'll be able to disarm it B'Elanna?"
"Starfleet, it would give me the greatest pleasure just to blow this thing into confetti. I think wasting time trying to disarm it just gives Seven less chance to get through this."
"Would be cool to have another anti-Borg weapon handy for the next time we run into them."
"This takes too long. It's a good weapon if you have time to stand around, but not if they're on top of you. You see this? These people are good. It anchored to the hull, but the anchor digs in past the hull. Borg try to rip it out, it would take out a hell of a lot more than a couple plates. We got lucky in that it latched on in a relatively isolated area. It's only anchored through a couple secondary conduits. I'll call Carey to reroute around."
"If we collapse the sub-space field, the mass will remain in the same place relative to the hull, right?"
"Let's collapse it so we can see how big this thing really is. I am not getting anymore useful information beyond the edge of the distortion."
"Ok, give Carey another minute to clear the area below us in case it decides it doesn't like putting in an appearance. We'll pull back another 10 meters before we do this. Tell Doc to watch Seven, I wouldn't put anything past this thing." B'Elanna began moving the equipment back.
"B'Elanna, told Doc and Carey just told me the area's clear. Tuvok is on the tac panel and wants to know if the field generators are set for the containment field."
"Tell him to power up. Give me a minute. I have to concentrate here." She manipulated the controls. "Good to go here. Get ready for a good look at this thing."
The containment field flashed blue and then bright white as the subspace field collapsed. There was a power surge and the shield flashed white again. "That's right baby, get it out. We are still gonna disassemble you in the end," whispered B'Elanna.
"Um, B'Elanna? Shield integrity is at 40%. You sure you want to tease it?"
"Come on Harry. Let's get some more readings."
"B'Elanna, I am getting another power surge." The shield flared white. "Shield at 20%."
"Some very angry people designed you, didn't they? Harry, get Tuvok to bolster the field the best he can. I am going to have to get closer to find an off switch."
"Be careful B'Elanna. I am reading a couple of systems like I've never seen before. Don't take risks." Harry examined his findings. "Maquis, what do you think this thing would do once it completed its task? I mean, I am not seeing any traditional form of explosive, would it just become inert once it emptied out the cube it latched on to?"
"Those mystery systems might be the explosive packets. It might self-destruct, maybe it shuts down and waits for Borg to come recycling and fires up again. I want to lean toward shut down. Mines are about cost-efficiency as much as anything and what is more cost-effective than taking out two for one. Course I am also seeing angry and angry nullifies logic. What the hell is it doing?"
"It's firing smaller bursts. I think it's trying to work out how our shield in rotating so it can adapt and beat us up here too."
"Fantastic. Going to piss me off and be smart about it. We survive this, Seven is going to owe us a round."
B'Elanna watched lightning across the screen. She found herself thinking again and again of Seven. Seven was depending on this. She cursed the mine's makers for the dozenth time. 'You couldn't have made an off switch with a big sign could you?' "I think this is the trap circuit. That would make this one .."
"Ok, I think I got it. Hate to do this, but Harry, you need to help me lay some charges around the mine. If I am wrong about the disarm procedure, we'll blow this thing to keep it from doing something we all regret."
"Captain is not going to be happy if we scratch the ride."
"I will be the one fixing it anyway. Be worth it to get this leech off my hull."
Harry went to the equipment crate and pulled out a strip of charges. B'Elanna took several of them and they went around the perimeter of the field. B'Elanna took out a set of tools and clipped them to belt cords so she could not lose them as she worked. "Harry, keep a line open to Sickbay. I want to know if anything changes with Seven."
The half-Klingon engineer looked over at her friend as she lay the final charge. "Well Starfleet this will be fun. As soon as the field is down I want you half way to the airlock."
"What about you?"
"Trust me, I screw up I will be passing you on the right."
"Tell me how this is going to work."
"The power for the weapon runs through a single point. I can disable that right off. I will have to fool the internals into going into standby. That will the tricky part."
"Make tracks Harry, 'cause here we go."
The force field shut off. B'Elanna scooted in and disarmed the firing circuit. The device began pulsing.
"B'Elanna! Doc says Seven's convulsing."
"Nuh uhn, you don't get to win." B'Elanna lasered open a side panel and began rerouting circuitry.
"B'Elanna, Tuvok says he sees a power build-up."
"Shit! Gonna have to blow it. Move Starfleet!"
B'Elanna ran as fast as magnetic boots would allow. A beautiful white light bathed the saucer section as the mine and charges exploded. The rest was silence.
"B'Elanna. B'Elanna. Respond." Harry began making tracks back toward the part of the hull where the device had lodged. Coming over around to line of sight, he saw a hole in the hull. Looking around, he saw Lt. Torres at the end of a tether like a Starfleet balloon. He shuffled to the tether's anchor and started pulling. He toggled for the open ship line. "We need transport to sickbay now."
A blue light came and took the two officers away. They materialized in Sickbay. Harry ripped off his helmet and gloves and began doing the same for B'Elanna who was unconscious. With the Doctor's help, they moved her to a biobed. "Get her on her side, Mr. Kim."
"B'Elanna." Tom Paris started forward.
"Mr Paris get back to monitoring Seven. Let me know if her condition changes."
The Doctor ripped the back of the suit. The suit had filled the breach as it was designed to do. There was little it could do for the rather large piece of metal sticking out of Lt. Torres's back. The Doctor tutted. "As if you don't spend enough time cluttering up my Sickbay, Lieutenant. Someone might think you liked it here." He pulled over a surgical tray and began operating.
It was far too bright. B'Elanna cracked her eye. "Stupid lights," she croaked.
"Computer, lights to 60%"
B'Elanna looked over to see Seven standing beside the biobed. "Thanks."
"It is I who should be thanking you B'Elanna."
B'Elanna reached for Seven's hand. "You are doing better, aren't you?"
"I am operating within- I am fine."
"Good. You owe me dinner, Borg."
Seven looked down at B'Elanna's fingers in hers. "I I am uncertain "
B'Elanna tightened her fingers on Seven's. "I know, me too." B'Elanna smiled at Seven.
"We have some serious work, you and I."
"First we are going decompile the Doctor so I can get out of here. I am thinking of making him into a giant pink and purple bunny. Then, you and I are gonna make Paris's life hell."
"And I will be assisting in these plans why?"
"To make me fall at your feet in eternal love and devotion." B'Elanna smiled. "Think you can handle that Borg?"
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