And Then . . .
Ensign Perez sneered at the data padd he was holding, the grim facial expression marring an otherwise angelic visage; he had managed to evade more than his fare share of demeaning duties thanks to his boyish good looks but, with his rotation in engineering, his luck had come to an end.
"Slave driver," he mumbled. "Thinks I'm some kind of pet targ," he complained to the uninterested world around him. "It's inhuman."
Crewman Chen, who had been trying to finish his meal in peace, made the mistake of asking just who Perez was complaining about.
"The Klingon, who else." Perez shoved the data padd in the other man's face. "Thinks she can work me into the ground."
Chen had only a sparse knowledge of engineering but, despite her renowned temper and workaholic tendencies, he had never heard any complaints about the chief working her people to death. Sure, if there was an emergency, she expected everyone to put in triple the effort, on half the sleep, but when the lives of everyone aboard depended on you being able to run for the hills, it was expected.
"I'm sure she's not asking any more from you than she is from the others," he tried to placate, but Perez was hearing none of it.
"She thinks she can get away with anything, just because the captain's too soft to put her in the brig where her kind belong." Perez's voice rose and soon half the mess hall was listening in to his ravings. "A proper Starfleet officer would never have tried anything like this."
An unhealthy murmuring started in the background and more than one person present had to restrain themselves from approaching the irate man and making him eat his words; Seven of Nine, however, appeared less inclined to deny the impulse and smoothly inserted herself between Perez and an embarrassed looked Chen.
"Ensign," Seven interrupted. "I believe a proper Starfleet officer would know better than to cast aspersions on his superiors in such a manner." She wrenched the data padd from his hand and quickly scanned it. "This is a standard duty rotation," she intoned. "I can therefore only assume that your grievance arises from, what I believe is termed, laziness."
"Now listen here . . ."
"No. You listen." Seven's voice took on a cold tone reminiscent of her earliest days aboard Voyager. "You will not disparage Lieutenant Torres in this fashion ever again. Do you understand me?"
Perez looked towards Chen for assistance but the other man was nodding his head in agreement with Seven's command.
"No ma'am," Perez replied grudgingly.
With undue care Seven placed the data padd on the table in front of Perez and walked, serenely, out of the mess hall.
"Then," said Crewman Doran, "Seven slammed the data padd into his chest and stormed from the room." She smiled conspiratorially at the group gathered around her. "I even heard her swearing under her breath in Klingon as she did it."
"She threw the data padd at him with such force that he ended up flat on his back in the middle of the mess hall, Seven standing over him like some wild woman, demanding that he apologise to the chief or else she'd assimilate him where he stood."
"Her tubules were at his throat and if it hadn't been for a team from security she would have assimilated him there and then," Ensign Craig lowered her voice, more than aware that the chief was nearby, and not wanting to find herself on report and facing her boss's wrath. "That's when she started shouting at him in Klingon and threatening to tear him limb from limb if he so much as looked at the chief the wrong way."
"Perez ended up in sickbay," Harry informed the others on the bridge. "The Doc doesn't know if he'll make it."
"She killed him where he stood." Jennifer Delaney told her sister. "Blood and guts everywhere, and Seven cursing like a Klingon sailor on shore leave." Her voice dropped to a whisper. "I heard it's all part of some weird Klingon mating ritual and, according to Jefferson in security, we're lucky Seven didn't take out the entire mess hall while she was at it."
"Blood was dripping down her face and people were running screaming in every direction, but Seven just walked in, as calm as you like, and backed the chief up against the barrier to the warp core, before she laid the mother of all kisses on her."
"They were tearing each others clothes off, and swearing oaths in Klingon," Tal Celes confided, her cheeks rosy red as the images danced before her eyes. "I'm not sure, but I think they took 'The Oath' right there, on the floor of engineering, with half of the alpha shift looking on." Her eyes misted over. "Isn't it romantic?"
B'Elanna walked into Astrometrics, an amused and mildly confused smile on her face; ship's scuttlebutt would have it that she'd just spent the last two hours in the throes of passion, and although amused at the thought, she was curious to know exactly how she'd ended up married to a bloodthirsty former Borg and putting on a show for all the voyeurs who obviously lived on the ship.
"Hey, Seven, can I have a word?"
Seven refrained from mentioning that the lieutenant had already had a number of them, although the thought was written clearly on her face. "Yes, Lieutenant, how can I assist you?"
"You can start by not killing every idiot who talks about me behind my back." B'Elanna's smile rose at the sight of confusion covering Seven's face. "And the public displays of affection have to stop." She rethought that. "At least all those involving nudity and copulating on the floor of engineering."
"And don't, under any circumstances, force me to take 'The Oath' while in the company of others. It is a . . ."
"Sacred ceremony only to be witnessed by those to whom Kahless has given the blood urge to mate," Seven finished. "I am well aware of the intricacies of Klingon mating rituals."
"Good." B'Elanna looked about the room, determining that they were, indeed, alone. "Now come over here and give me a kiss, before I'm forced to break one of my own rules and make a naked spectacle of us both."
With the barest hint of a smile, Seven obeyed the demand, her confusion replaced by the familiar and more than welcome feel of her lover's arms encircling her body.
Unseen by the two, otherwise occupied, women, Tal Celes crept from the room.
"And then B'Elanna ripped the bio-suit straight down the middle and . . ."
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