DISCLAIMER: I do not own these characters. They are the property of Paramount.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Borg baby challenge by IvanovaDV- A Voyager mystery revolving around the missing Borg baby, starring Seven as the detective and the rest of the crew (who do not remember the infant) as the suspects. SPOILER- Collective.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Tina LaMarch
Seven stepped out of her regeneration alcove. She checked the status of the children. Each had another two hours remaining. The tall blonde ex-Borg made her way to Sickbay.
"Please state the nature- Seven. What can I do for you?" The doctor preened in the presence of the stately woman.
"Doctor, where is the infant?"
"Infant? There is no infant on Voyager, Seven."
"When we encountered the Borg cube we gained custody of Rebi, Azan, I'cheb, Mezoti and an infant. The others are currently regenerating in Cargo bay 2. The infant should be present here in Sickbay."
"I clearly remember the other children you mentioned, but Seven, I have no memory of an infant."
Seven moved swiftly into the Doctor's office. Accessing mission logs and medical files for the littlest members of the ship's Collective, she ascertained that the Doctor was correct. To the best of his knowledge, there was never an infant. Seven turned to find the Doctor behind her using a medical tricorder.
"Seven, have you been experiencing headaches, unusual sounds, any other symptoms I should be aware of?"
Seven felt her jaw setting. "Doctor, I am not ill. I am perfectly rational. There was an infant."
"I understand that you believe there was a baby Borg, however there is no evidence. I have no record of one."
"I must speak with the Captain."
"I will call her down. I think it would be better if you remain here for the time being so that I can monitor you properly."
"I am sure Mr. Neelix will be able to watch them while we talk with the Captain. Or if he cannot, I am sure he can give us the name of someone who could. Why don't you sit on the biobed over there, while I call down the Captain."
"Don't Doctor me Seven. You believe there is an infant aboard the ship. The evidence indicates otherwise. Until this matter is resolved one way or another, you will remain in Sickbay. Is that understood?"
The Doctor watched as Seven walked to the biobed at the far end of Sickbay. Looking concerned, he called Neelix and the Captain. He began to pore over the readings from the scans of one of his only friends.
Captain Kathryn Janeway's brows drew together in concern. "A baby? Seven believes that a Borg baby was brought on board?" Janeway rubbed her forehead. "Was it too much? Giving her the children to mentor?"
"I am not finding any indications of a malfunction in her implants nor any organic imbalances. I would like to run a scan of a few of the crew members who supposedly had access to this infant, Paris, Ensign Wildman, you and I would like Lt. Torres to go over my program. While I find it unlikely that there was an infant, I would like to rule out an other possibilities."
"And in the meantime, what about Seven?"
"I will continue to run diagnostics. I will approach Lt. Torres to help with that as well. It may be the effect of a discrete field for which medical equipment is not designed to scan. Perhaps Lt. Torres and her equipment may see something I cannot."
Janeway sighed. "Poor Seven. This week has been long enough without the additional stress of this. Do what you have to Doctor. Keep an eye on her until we know more."
"Understood. As long as you are already here Captain, perhaps we should start the other scans with you."
Janeway held up her hands. "I am just going to talk to Seven and then I have to get back to the bridge. Start with the others. Call me if you find anything in their scans."
The Doctor sighed dramatically as the Captain went out to talk to Seven. "Yes. God forbid you should actually see the business end of a medical tricorder Captain." He tapped his comm badge and summoned Ensign Wildman for testing.
"Seven? This is probably a stupid question but, how are you feeling?"
"I am operating within acceptable parameters Captain."
Janeway sat beside Seven on the biobed, laying her hand on the blonde's shoulder. "We don't know exactly what is going on Seven. We won't just stand by. We are going to find out what is happening. The Doctor and B'Elanna are going to be going over everything to try and find out the truth about this infant you believe we rescued from the cube."
Seven looked at her mentor for several long moments. "The children were placed in my care Captain. I wish to return to my duty."
"I think for now it's best to do as the Doctor wants."
"He is afraid that I am mentally unstable and may cause harm to the children."
Janeway rubbed her forehead. "That is one of the possibilities, Seven."
"Their development is of great importance to me. I would not cause them harm."
"Seven, look at this from our point of view. You've made a claim for which there is no evidence. We want to believe you but..."
"You believe I may be mentally unstable as well."
"Captain, thank you for your concern. You should return to your duties to the ship. I will be adequately cared for in this environment."
Kathryn Janeway stood, straightening her tunic. "If you need anything Seven, call on me."
For the first time, Seven felt a flash of anger at her mentor as she watched her walk away.
The Doctor was in his office. He was trying to get his ducks, or guinea pigs and lab rats in a row. Samantha Wildman and Tom Paris would both be reporting for examinations following their duty shifts. He made one more call..
"I need you to report to Sickbay at your earliest possible convenience Lieutenant. I need your assistance in a medical situation regarding Seven of Nine."
He heard a sigh over the open line. "Fine. Let me finish rebuilding this unit and I'll be there in say, two, three hours."
"Thank you Lieutenant. Doctor out."
'Great,' thought Torres. 'What's Barbie Borg gone and done now?'
B'Elanna entered the Sickbay to find it empty. "Computer activate EMH."
"Please state the nature of th-" The Doctor looked wildly around. "She's gone. Computer, locate Seven of Nine."
"Seven of Nine is in Sickbay."
The Doctor walked over to the far biobed. Picking up a comm badge he called for Security.
"What's going on Doc?"
"Seven of Nine believes there is a Borg baby missing from the crew complement and she apparently has decided to go looking for it Lieutenant."
"Baby borg? There were kids, but I don't remember there being a baby."
"Precisely. We need to find Seven, and then Lt. Torres I would like you to help me. If you and I between us cannot find any anomalies that would indicate the presence of this infant, perhaps Seven will face this delusion."
"So now I am a Borg counselor?" B'Elanna snorted.. "Fine. Tell the security guys to look for her the best they can, I will set the computers to look for anomalies in the data and try adjusting sensors, look for Seven my way."
B'Elanna headed for Engineering cursing mentally unstable drones all the way. After setting her parameters, she waited. It didn't take long to get a 'ping.' "Torres to Doctor."
"I think I spotted her. I am going to get her."
"Perhaps we would be better off sending Security."
"Not just no, but hell no. She is into my ship's guts. If she feels threatened by Security's presence she might rip whatever she is playing with out. I'll talk her out of there."
"You don't think she'd be threatened by you?"
"She knows I want to eviscerate her when she plays with my ship, but we are straight with one another. It's a dynamic. Just keep the boys out of the tubes, Doctor." The dark haired half-Klingon closed the line and pulled herself into the Jefferies tubes headed up.
B'Elanna pulled herself into a horizontal tube on Deck 6. She spotted Seven with her tubules buried into a computer node. "What in Gre'thor do you think you're doing to my ship Borg?"
"I am attempting to localize proof of the existence of a Borg infant aboard Voyager. I believe that what I have found that points to the child's presence in Sickbay."
"Let me patch in and you can show me what you found."
B'Elanna looked at the data scrolling by. She looked up at the expectant blonde. "What is this?"
"The materials were supplies needed for stabilizing the infant when she was first brought aboard Voyager. Is there any other need that you believe these supplies could be used for? Not the cut sustained by the ensign earlier in the shift, nor a burn on Crewman Douglas later in the shift."
B'Elanna stared thoughtfully at the screen. "There is something hinky here. We need to hide you better Seven. The others will think you planted this, unless one of them did something. We need to keep you loose."
"Lt. Torres? You believe me?"
"You have bats in your attic to keep pissing me off the way you do, but I don't think you could ever plant shit even to back up a delusion. Besides, instinct says there is something funky going on here. You keep digging. I have to go screw with some sensors." She started removing the patched in monitor and backing out.
"Lieutenant, thank you."
"Thank me when we find out what's really going on, Seven.. Keep looking."
"Doctor to Torres."
"Did you get Seven out of the Jefferies tubes?"
"She must have set a watchdog program. She was out of the section before I could get there. I'll set a tracker to watch for the same profile to pop up again. In the meantime, I'm going to run through your program and the transporter logs."
"Understood. I will inform Security to continue searching. Maybe they will have better luck. Doctor out."
B'Elanna went into her office. She struck her comm badge. "Torres to Harry Kim."
"Harry, do me a favor and run through the sensor sweeps for about 24 hours on either side of our run in with the Borg cube."
"Looking for anything in particular Maquis?"
"MMmmmm, narrows it down. I'll let you know if I spot anything."
"Great. Thanks. Torres out."
B'Elanna bent over her desk console and started bringing up the Doctor's program.
Seven opened the Jefferies tube in the upper section of Cargo Bay 2. She looked down at the four children who were sitting at small desks that had been installed for them. She saw Captain Janeway enter.
"Captain," greeted I'cheb. "How may we be of assistance to you?"
The Captain sighed. "I believe Mr. Neelix informed you that Seven of Nine was in Sickbay for treatment. She has left without authorization. We are deeply concerned for her well-being. She may come to see you children and I want you to notify Security immediately if she does. It is imperative that she receives treatment. Do you all understand?"
Rebi, Azan, and I'cheb immediately assented. Mezoti stepped up to the Captain. "What is wrong with Seven, Captain?"
"It is not appropriate to discuss that with you Mezoti. Just know we are going to do everything we can for her."
"You have given her custody. She has taken on the duties of seeing to our welfare therefore she is in point of fact our surrogate parent. As her family, it is entirely appropriate that you discuss her well-being and her treatment with us."
"I find that I agree with Mezoti in this, Captain."
"As do we."
"Nevertheless children, I'm ordering you to report Seven of Nine should she approach you and you'll remove yourselves from her presence for your own safety. Her current medical condition will not be discussed with you. Continue your studies." The captain turned on her heel and left the cargo bay.
Seven took a ragged breath. She looked down at the children for another minute before she withdrew from the cargo bay.
Seven had her tubules buried in another data node when she heard a sound behind her. Turning, she saw Mezoti approach. "Do not move Seven of Nine."
"Mezoti, what are you doing?"
"I am here as a representative of your children. It is my intention to help you in whatever manner I may."
"The captain ordered you to report me. I will not have you disobey orders Mezoti."
"The captain ordered us to report you should you approach us, which is why I ordered you not to move. It is in the best interest of our collective that this be resolved quickly. What is the nature of your illness, Seven and why are you avoiding treatment?"
"The captain and the Doctor believe I may be suffering from mental illness. I remember a Borg infant rescued from the cube. They have no recollection of that event nor is the infant recorded in the logs."
Mezoti's face took on a curious twist. "Why did they not ask us about the infant? It was taken aboard Voyager for treatment. We were told that the child had stabilized but when there was no further mention of her, we assumed that the child had terminated."
"You remember the infant."
"As do the other children..."
"Yes. We will inform the Captain immediately."
"No. Lt. Torres has pointed out that any evidence that would be brought forward through me would automatically be suspect. The fact that we are now aware of the fact that the Borg enhanced memories differ significantly is because of our conversation. You will report to Lieutenant Torres. Perhaps she can identify the reason why our memories match one another's but no one else's."
"I will comply." Mezoti crawled forward toward Seven, wrapping her arms around the surprised former Borg before crawling off toward the closest access hatch.
It was several minutes later when a slightly grubby young Borgling stood at ease before Lt. Torres's desk. "What can I do for you shorty?" asked the engineer.
"You can scan me, Lt. Torres. Seven of Nine feels that the fact that we children also remember the baby is significant and wishes you to determine if there may be a reason why we remember when the others of the crew do not."
"My inbox just isn't big enough for a day like today. Come on Shorty, we have work to do."
The Doctor was tempted to pull out his holographic hair, but there was little enough of it as it was. His scans of Tom Paris and Samantha Wildman revealed no more information than Seven's scan had. This meant that one of the few people who approached him with something like affection was showing signs of a nervous breakdown. There was no justice.
"Lt. Torres, what can I do for you?"
The half-Klingon came in with her hand on the shoulder of the young Borg female, Mezoti. "I was just wondering if Borg memory works differently from organic humanoid memory."
"Yes. While Borg technology mimics the memory process of a human in many respects, it is fundamentally different in terms of format as well as the back up process. Why?"
"'Cause the kids know about the baby."
The Doctor looked down at the little girl. "You told them about Seven."
"Nah, you know as well as I do that Borg get their teeth in they don't let go. You guys get all vague about Seven, course they are going to investigate."
The Doctor went to his office to get his tricorder. "Let's get you up on the biobed Mezoti. I want to look more closely at your memory buffers."
Mezoti took a step toward the biobed. She turned and walked back to the engineer. She threw her arms around B'Elanna who after a moment patted her affectionately. "Thank you Lieutenant for your help with Seven of Nine's situation. I approve of your presence in her life." Mezoti backed up patting B'Elanna's arm. She turned and walked away.
"Anytime Shorty," B'Elanna laughed and walked out of Sickbay. She started back down to Engineering. Her comm badge beeped.
"Hey Maquis, would an unknown third party at the time of our visit to the cube and an unaccounted for surge in lower band emissions shortly afterwards count as different?"
"You are a prince among sensor geeks. Send the info down to my console."
B'Elanna silently debated whether to talk to Seven or the Captain first. She patched into one of the nearby panels. 'Maybe I better talk to one of the ones who actually remembered the baby first just in case the fox gets into the hen house again.' She located Seven of Nine and started climbing through the tubes to where the Borg had stashed herself.
"Either I am getting way too damned good at sneaking around or you are way too deep into that mainframe for words."
"B'Elanna. Conspiracy, aiding and abetting your escape? If I am going to the brig you're gonna use my name. Did you happen across the sensor data that Harry sent me while you were dipping?"
"I was just becoming aware of the data. If there was another ship there, why would they take the infant and why cover it up? Why would the children and I remember and no one else?"
"I brought Mezoti to the Doctor. I figure he could puzzle out the last bit. Personally, I am not worried about why the other ship took the baby. I want to get her back."
Seven looked at her like she'd grown another head. "You have evinced no prior interest in the children much less their well-being, and you have no memory of the infant at all. Why are you interested in returning the infant to Voyager?"
"She's important to you Seven. Sue me for giving a shit. 'Sides, it'll get you out my Jefferies tubes."
"Indeed," Seven looked at the smaller woman curiously.
B'Elanna suddenly got nervous. "So, um, we have data to back you up now. I say you and I head up to the Bridge and talk to the Captain. We give her what we found, then we go track down the little peanut and being the heroic types we are, we bring her home to grow up with her brothers and sister. Sound good Borg?"
"It is a very good plan, B'Elanna."
B'Elanna tapped her comm badge. "Torres to Kim."
"Go ahead Maquis."
"Need you to play with the sensors some more. Do what you can to try to figure out which way the extra ship went and figure out how to rig the sensors in the shuttle to follow their trail."
"You owe me big, B'Elanna."
"How 'bout I don't embarrass you at pool tonight?"
Harry laughed. "That's a start. Kim out."
B'Elanna looked at Seven. "Figured we should cover as many bases as we can before we go to the captain."
"A commendable course of action."
B'Elanna snorted. "You thank me, you compliment me? Let's hurry and get the peanut home fast before you make my head too big to fit in the shuttle."
"So what you're saying is that the infant was kidnapped and someone was just very thorough in covering their tracks." Captain Janeway slid back in her chair. B'Elanna and Seven had come into her ready room while she had been reading reports. Janeway called Security but B'Elanna had persuaded her to post them outside the door until she could say what she need to say.
B'Elanna explained the odd sensor readings and the grocery list of Borg baby supplies sent to the Sickbay. Seven added that she had found other points in logs which when examined closely, indicated the possibility of editing. They told Janeway about the other children and their own memories of the infant. At this point, Janeway held up her hand.
"Janeway to the Doctor."
"Doctor here Captain."
"Seven is here with Lt. Torres. They are saying that the Borg children remember events as Seven does."
"Yes, they do."
"Their memories have not been altered?"
"Actually, they have."
The captain looked sharply at Seven. "By Seven?"
"No, no, of course not. I believe the same individuals who altered the memories of the entire ship altered the memories of the Borg on board as well. They apparently did not account for the multiple redundancies of Borg systems."
"You said there was no indication of tampering with memories.."
"The method used was very sophisticated. The only record is in the Borg memory itself. I only found it when I was specifically looking for it. I doubt any lesser physician could have seen it. When the Borg systems were regenerating it found the memory discrepancy in the primary set of memories and upon checking the redundancies found that the error was there and so simply overwrote what it felt were corrupted memories."
"Is it possible for the rest of us to reconstruct those memories?"
"No. Not at this point."
"Thank you Doctor. Janeway out."
"So now we know the baby is real, what do we do about it?" Janeway rubbed her head. It was better that Seven wasn't mentally ill, but this would set a whole new set of issues for her to deal with.
"We go after the bastards that took her."
"What the hell do you mean no?"
"B'Elanna, have you seen the number of repairs we still have going on? We are in no fit shape to go after anyone. I am as angry about all this as you are but we need to be smart here. There are a lot more lives at stake here than a Borg infant."
"So we take the shuttle, small team, in and out."
"And when they wipe the memories of the assault team or worse? We lose good people and a shuttle we can't afford."
B'Elanna was about to replay when Seven put her hand on her arm. Seven inclined her head. "A logical course of action Captain. The infant was unlikely to survive, and is particularly unlikely to continue to survive away from those with experience with Borg systems."
Janeway sighed. "I'm sorry Seven. I am glad you understand. Why don't you go on down to the Cargo Bay and see to the children. They've missed you. Dismissed."
Janeway stood and walked over to the windows. It was the hardest part of the job, saying no to the people she cared about.
B'Elanna waited until they were in the turbo lift before going off. "What the fuck Seven?"
B'Elanna waited until they were in the turbo lift before going off. "What the fuck Seven?"
Seven calmly hit the e-stop on the lift. She turned to the volatile half-Klingon. "The Captain has to think of the whole ship, B'Elanna. It would have been illogical and pointless to attempt to move her from her decision. I simply plan to ignore her."
B'Elanna stared blankly at the former Borg for a long moment before laughing. "She is going to be pissed."
"I do not intend that however I have decided that her current regard for me is an acceptable loss. B'Elanna, I want to ask something of you."
"Sure, Seven. What?"
"When this began the Captain and the Doctor both of whom I have long regarded as friends assumed almost immediately that I was mentally incapacitated. You allowed me the opportunity to show you differently. Our relationship has often been volatile but you treated me with honor and allowed me my dignity. It is my wish that you take the children for the time I am gone and further, continue upon my incarceration in the brig, an event which is likely to occur upon my return."
"Wow Seven. I mean, wow. I'm honored, more than honored. There is just one problem.... You are not going without me."
"The infant is not of concern to you. You will not do brig time for an issue that it mine to address."
"This peanut of yours is everyone's concern. We don't leave people behind. Besides, I am just starting to get used to having you around and you need your back watched. Neelix is a good guy. He and the others will take good care of the kids while we are gone. Don't give me that look Borg. You know better than anyone that resistance is futile."
Seven regarded her silently. She nodded. "Acceptable. We will inform the children of our intent." She restarted the lift down to Cargo Bay 2.
The children stood around Seven and B'Elanna as they outlined their plans. "We can be of assistance," asserted Mezoti.
"You will be of greater help to me in remaining in safety. I will be less effective if you are endangered by our attempt to locate and retrieve the infant."
Mezoti looked like she intended to argue the point. B'Elanna kneeled down and took her hand. "Come on Shorty. I know you're upset right now. I would be too. Seven's gonna be ok. I'll make sure of it. We will find the kid and bring her back. I don't know who took her and why but one way or another we'll get her back."
"You will ensure the safe return of Seven?"
"On my honor."
"Acceptable." Mezoti hugged the half-Klingon. "We will ensure that you are not stopped."
"We will not be caught. After all, tractor beams often fail when ships are as badly damaged as Voyager has been."
"Remind me not to piss you off Shorty." B'Elanna smiled.
"It would be inadvisable," offered I'Cheb.
Seven looked at the children. "Continue your studies and listen to Tuvok, Neelix, the Captain, and any who are appointed temporary guardians while we are away. Be assets to the Voyager Collective. We will return as soon as we are able."
"Oh yeah, and kids? She's gonna miss you." B'Elanna stood wiping off her knees.
"Will you?" asked Mezoti.
Seven found herself in her second hug in one day. She placed her hand on the top of Mezoti's head. Mezoti released her and the other children followed suit, quickly hugging the slightly flummoxed woman before returning to an at ease position. B'Elanna grinned.
"Come on Seven. We've got mighty big heroics to pull off. A baby to save, a shuttle to steal, unknown life forms to piss off and time's a-wasting." B'Elanna led the way to the Cargo Bay door. Seven looked back to see four Borg children regarding her. She gave them a nod before exiting.
B'Elanna gathered up her sack of gear and her Bat'leth. She made her way to the shuttle bay. She spotted Seven next to the door with two large containers. B'Elanna's eyebrows shot up at the sight. "Planning to bring down an intersteller empire while we're out?"
"I merely prepared for the greatest number of possibilities that I was able to."
"Uhn huhn. You are carrying your own damned stuff Borg." B'Elanna opened the door. She shot back over her shoulder, "You know we'll probably have to reinforce the shuttle to carry all that shit."
B'Elanna slung her gear into the storage space of the shuttle. She went forward and stopped in her tracks when she spotted Harry. Seven joined her. "Um Harry? What are you doing here?"
"I was setting the sensors so you could track that ship. Oh, and I am coming with you."
"You don't even know where we are going."
"Rumor mill says there's a missing baby."
"The rumor mill is, as usual, efficient."
"No shit, Seven. Starfleet, this isn't an authorized mission."
"Figured that when I saw you guys sneaking into the bay with no comm badges. Don't think either of you would be doing this if it weren't the right thing."
"If you were so hot on doing the right thing why didn't you join the Maquis?"
"I make this uniform look good," Harry said powering up the engines. "So we gonna go or what?"
Seven went forward. "If you find the time you will undoubtedly be spending in the brig acceptable, I am certain we can use your help. You are an adequate officer."
"K. Thanks, I think. Being in the brig will cut into my losing betting pools, but I think I can live with that." B'Elanna put her hand on Harry's shoulder.
"Thanks Starfleet." B'Elanna moved forward. "Show us the trail Harry."
"On forward now Maquis. So did you guys plan on how to get the shuttle off Voyager?"
"We're getting a little help from some friends."
"Only way to do it." Harry smiled. "Ready when you are ladies."
B'Elanna piloted the shuttle out of the bay and made tracks as soon as they were clear. She looked over at Seven. Somehow, when she woke up this morning, she never saw herself risking throwing her career away on the Borg but, coming to that point, she had not one regret.
"On our way home, remind me to stop at the cube again." Seven's implant raised. "What? We were so busy doing the whole save the babies and our own rosy red asses thing we forgot to steal the transwarp coils."
"Indeed. Perhaps if we bring such a peace offering when we return, the captain will be more lenient on me."
"Um, and us?"
"I intend to tell her I forced you and Harry to join me." Seven input a course correction.
B'Elanna snorted. "I can see her buying we forced Harry, but in case you hadn't noticed? She has a pretty good idea how pig headed I am."
"No offense Starfleet. Not implying you're weak willed or anything. Just um.....resistance is futile?" B'Elanna grinned as Seven's implant went up again.
"Fine be that way. I have the back trail going to a system about two and a half hours ahead of us. Going to go back and get us something to eat. Sandwiches ok for everyone?"
"I do not require-"
"I swear to Kahless Seven if you say that again. It's just not polite. Say, 'Yes Harry thank you' and if you don't want to eat it give it to me." B'Elanna growled..
"And interrupting me is polite."
"Interrupting you is keeping me from killing you."
"Yes Harry, thank you."
"Better. Me too Harry."
B'Elanna sighed as Seven looked at her thoughtfully. "What?" asked B'Elanna, a bit more forcefully than she intended.
"I irritate you."
"Just when you do shit you know makes people unhappy like blowing off nice gestures and playing with my warp core without talking to me.."
B'Elanna shook her head. "You really freak me out some days Borg. What does the system we are headed to look like?" B'Elanna accepted her sandwich from Harry and thoughtfully chewed as Seven outlined the different possible locations for the ship to have headed.
The sensors spotted the large orbiting station above the gas giant. It was ugly. An amalgam of styles slapped together. There were numerous small ships. "Great. Why do I have a feeling this is the kind of place with forty bars, no daycare and at least four guys with bristly guts and big guns named Spike?" B'Elanna groaned.
"You have been places like this before, B'Elanna?" Seven asked looking at her curiously.
"About once a month, when I was with the Maquis." B'Elanna turned in her chair. "Harry, you are in charge of keeping the engines warm. These folks don't mind stealing but I bet they get a mite touchy when people steal back."
"You two going to be ok down there?" Harry asked concerned for his two friends.
"I don't know Harry, between my knowing how to be around dark siders and Seven being able to punch through duranium, I think we'll be able to hold our own. Just be ready to bolt. Hang out at transporter range and look, you know, inconspicuous until we find out what the deal is. Seven, we have got to do something about that outfit."
Seven looked down at her biosuit then up again at B'Elanna, raising her implant. Following B'Elanna into the back of the shuttle, she caught various items of clothing being tossed at her. "I figured you wouldn't be ready for the whole dressing for the environment thing so I brought a couple of things for each of us. I can just change out of my shirt, but your biosuit has got to go."
"My biosuit is perfectly acceptable."
"Um yeah, it is, if we want to look like walking red flags. Seven, lose the suit. It is time to go low profile."
Seven reached back, opening the seal of the biosuit and pulled it to her waist. B'Elanna spun away. "Wow. So I am thinking that the Doctor hasn't gotten to the modesty portion of your social lessons.."
"He has spoken of it, but I found it pointless, it is inefficient to worry about such things."
B'Elanna sucked in a huge breath and let it out slowly. "B'Elanna are you well? Your heart rate..."
"Yeah I know exactly what my heart rate's doing. I'm fine." B'Elanna shucked her tunic and her shirt. She threw on a rough hooded shirt with patched elbows and small grease stains on the cuffs. Pulling down the hood, she turned to check on the former Borg. She found herself sucking in another breath.
Seven's hair lay loose on her shoulders and Seven was in a blue green tunic layered over a hooded shirt. Her magnificent figure was only slightly obscured by the outfit. When Seven looked up from pulling her boots back on her blue eyes seemed faintly amused. B'Elanna reached over and pulled the hood up onto Seven's head.
"What is B'Elanna?"
"Trying to make you blend in anywhere Seven. Let's grab some weapons and get the heck out of here."
"Some days I really hate being right all the time," said B'Elanna quietly as she looked around. "This is every dive station and dusty piece of crap pirate hangout I have ever seen."
Seven pulled out the tricorder and began a scan. B'Elanna stepped between Seven and the rest of the station. "Seven? I know the Borg decided subtle was irrelevant but could you maybe try to reclaim it for me? I don't want to get shot at before supper."
Seven's implant raised. "Very well, B'Elanna. I will try for you. I am reading three sources of Borg technology on this station. Two are active." She folded the tricorder and put it in her tunic.
B'Elanna looked around. "Start with the closest. Try to keep your implants out of sight as much as possible. I don't think they took the peanut for her ability to say 'goo goo.'" Following the blonde as she climbed a staircase up to the upper level of the main complex, B'Elanna shook her head. 'Just like old times.' Her eye caught the movement of the Borg ahead of her. 'Maybe not. Bad B'Elanna! No naughty thoughts about Borg butts. Work to do.' B'Elanna's fingers tightened around the top of the dagger in her belt as she watched for trouble.
They walked across the catwalk to a dimly lit drinking establishment. Seven turned toward B'Elanna. "The Borg technology is located in the rear of the establishment. As you are the expert on subtle I thought perhaps you might lead the way." Her implant raised.
"Fine. Just watch my back Borg."
"This time will not be the exception B'Elanna."
They moved into the bar. B'Elanna took in the sight of a guy leaning next to a door to the rear of the establishment. She turned to stand almost nose to nose with Seven. "Guy on the door is a guard. He's too lumpy, well armed. I will try to draw him off. You hang at that end of the bar and try to slip through when he's not watching."
"I will comply."
B'Elanna touched Seven's arm. "Ok, let's have some fun." Seven looked down at her arm a moment before taking up a station at the far end of the bar.
B'Elanna strolled up to the guard. She leaned casually against the wall on the other side of the doorway. "Hey big guy."
The guard's eyes barely flicked to her.
'Course not. That would be too easy.' She dug up every cheesy line that had ever been used in her presence. "Hi. I'm a thief and I am here to steal your heart." She trailed a finger on the guard's shoulder. She smiled in what she hoped was a beguiling manner.
The guard looked at her. Looking her up and down he turned to her. 'Can't believe that actually worked.' She moved closer and motioned with the tips of her fingers to the waiting Borg.
B'Elanna was grinding her teeth. Flirty was not her strong suit. She was pulling pages out of Paris's book right and left and the guard was eating it up. She was just getting nauseous. The guard looked past her.
An arm snaked around her waist and someone nuzzled her neck. It took everything B'Elanna had in her not to jump at the unexpected contact. It took everything in her not to jump when she realized it was the Borg. "mmmmmm," hummed Seven. "Time to go sweetie. We have some traveling to do."
"Oh Kahless, gotta go, bye." B'Elanna rapidly left the drinking establishment with the Borg in tow. She spun around once they were away from the entrance. "What the hell was that?"
B'Elanna quietly screamed into her hands. "Just tell me you found something, I mean besides the urge to fuck with me."
"Indeed. I found a deactivated drone. It had been dismantled and portions of it had been placed in cargo containers. It had apparently been harvested."
"Well, that explains a lot."
"I do not understand B'Elanna. If they are harvesting Borg why an infant? It is not fully developed in any way and there were several others present that could also have been taken for farming, myself and the children."
"If you are farming, would you want a cow that could and probably would fight back? They hook the baby to a regeneration system of some sort then they get an endless supply of the lightest weight and most useful part of a drone, the nanoprobes. They would never have to worry about the baby assimilating anyone, never have to worry about it working out a way to contact the Borg, or its birth family. Peanut's a blank page."
"Why do you keep calling her 'peanut.'"
"I've never seen a baby that didn't look like one to me," B'Elanna answered shrugging.
Seven's implant rose. "If your estimation of the character of the denizens of this station is correct, then most likely the two remaining sources of Borg technology are the buyer and the seller. I cannot imagine anyone of a piratical nature trusting anyone enough for quick turnover."
"Ok, so which is which?"
"Both are on the outer edges of the station. Neither is far from the ship we followed here. Our best option is to simply investigate each in turn."
"After you. Hey, where did you pick up that nuzzling thing?"
"One of the romance fictions you had on your desk in the engineering office. I was curious."
"I am almost afraid to ask what else you've been picking up."
Seven's cybernetic implant rose slightly and the corner of her lip quirked. "Don't be afraid, B'Elanna."
B'Elanna and Seven climbed through the narrow passage to another section of the station. This one had several large areas apparently used for storage. There were doors to separate sections and many of the doors had guards on them. 'Trusting bunch.' Seven stopped when she came to T-intersection.
"The two signals appear to be at opposite ends of this corridor. Perhaps we should split up and....."
"Not a chance, no way, no how. I promised on my honor that I would get you back to the kids. We stick together."
Seven tilted her head. "I understand. Then perhaps we should start to the left. It is a somewhat weaker source. In all likelihood, the buyer has functional regenerative equipment and possibly other drones. The seller probably has only the infant and the regenerative bassinet."
"Fair enough. Give me a second to make sure Harry can hear us. Personally, I want to know right up front if we'll have a beam out or a really long run."
Seven waited patiently as B'Elanna spoke to Harry. She was distressed by the situation, but was very happy about the company of the volatile engineer. She had long wanted to make a friendship of it. B'Elanna's reaction, first to her nakedness, then to the nuzzling, made Seven think there was a possibility of more.
"Seven?" B'Elanna whistled. "In there?"
"Yes, B'Elanna. I was assessing the situation."
"Pretty freakin' good situation I guess, you almost smiling and all. Harry says he will keep a lock on us and if we step out of range or something he will stay on the same place he last read us, watch for us. We just have to go out the way we came in."
B'Elanna palmed her phaser. "Hope for subtle, plan for all out war. Ready?"
"Indeed." Seven palmed her own phaser and led the way to the storage space on the left corridor in which a Borg presence could be found. It took several minutes to get close. They glanced around the corner to the door. Two guards, no waiting.
"May I suggest subtle is out B'Elanna?"
"Indeed." B'Elanna stuck her tongue out at the Borg before firing on the guards. Seven's implant shot up as she fired on the second guard. There was a muffled thump as he hit the ground. "What do you think Seven? You want to get all friendly with this lock?"
The tubules shot from Seven's wrist. "I also have access to several visual monitoring devices. There are a half dozen men. Two of them are in direct contact with the infant."
B'Elanna sucked in a breath. "So the question becomes how do we go in without them a) killing the peanut or b) running off with her before we take care of the others."
"OK Seven, tell me you can see a ventilation duct, a back door, a window, an open sewer grate....stop me anytime now."
"There is the local equivalent of a Jefferies tube. Would that be sufficient?"
"Any of those guys watching it?"
"No. The two close to the baby appear to be scanning it, the remainder divide their attention between the main door and the cards in their hands."
"Perfect. Where's the access?"
"Twenty meters down this corridor."
"Grab a grunt and let's get going."
"What you don't think someone might find these guys lying here and think 'Gosh that's odd?' If we stow 'em somewhere maybe their boss will think they went for coffee or something."
"I will comply."
The two women dragged the guards into the tube access and then crawled down the length until they found the access to the storage unit. B'Elanna scanned the door and nearby panels. "No proximity sensors, no alarms for opening it.... You know for thieves, these guys kind of suck for security."
"I will be sure to leave a note detailing for them all the ways you have found them inadequate, B'Elanna."
"You do that Seven. I will get the bassinet guys first. You get the card sharks. We'll meet somewhere in the middle. Ready?"
Seven placed her hand on B'Elanna's arm. "Whatever happens in the next several minutes, I want you to know that I am grateful for the lengths you have gone to both for me and for the 'peanut.'"
B'Elanna gave the former Borg a crooked smile. "Anytime Seven. Let's finish this. I got a transwarp coil to steal and an angry captain to placate before I get some sleep."
B'Elanna led the way out of the tube. Sliding down behind some crates, she got in position for clear shots at the two monitoring the infant.. Looking to her right, she saw Seven doing the same for the other four.
Seven shot her a look. B'Elanna nodded. They stood together and fired.
The first couple of bad guys went down almost immediately. B'Elanna and Seven worked on picking off the others as B'Elanna tried to get closer to the bassinet. Two of the goons fired at Seven at the same time. B'Elanna took out one. Seven narrowly avoided being struck by the phaser fire from the first but took a hit from the second.
"Seven!" yelled B'Elanna as she fired a couple of clean shots at the goon pinning Seven down and ran for the bassinet. She scooped up the infant and ran for cover as phaser fire struck the floor near her feet. "Don't hit the kid," yelled one of the goons. "Hold 'em for Barl!" B'Elanna skidded behind the crates where Seven was.
"You ok Seven?" B'Elanna breathlessly inquired as she juggled the baby and her phaser.
"My arm is at 79%. I am still func-"
"Try 'I'll live B'Elanna.'" B'Elanna tapped the communicator against her chin. "Harry, Harry!"
"This must be a dead spot in the structure. We will have to go out the way we came."
"Great. Aren't these guys shot yet?"
"That is the last.... Except for those who appear to be entering now."
"Take the baby and get in the tube, I'll be right behind you."
Seven took the infant and moved into the tube. B'Elanna took several potshots at the incoming bad guys in an attempt to pin them down long enough for Seven to get clear.
She pulled back under heavy fire and secured herself in the tube. She crawled after Seven until she saw the blue light at the edge of her vision that heralded the transporter.
B'Elanna yelled for Harry to get them out of there and swept up the baby. She pushed Seven's hand aside to take a look at her shoulder. She sighed. "Thank Kahless it's not worse, Seven. We don't have what we need to fix it here, but we'll get you right as rain when we get back to Voyager." B'Elanna had her fingers on the slightly crispy implant.
"Don't scare me like that again Seven," she said quietly. Her eyes met Seven's blue ones.
"B'Elanna, you might want to get up here. We're picking up some company."
B'Elanna went forward followed by Seven. They slid into their chairs and tried to work out how much trouble they were in.
"B'Elanna think we can outrun them?"
"Pirate ships and smugglers don't stay intact by being slow," replied B'Elanna. "We'll give it a try and just be ready for anything."
"Hope for subtle and plan for all out war," replied Seven as she began reinforcing the shields.
"Somebody has been a real bad influence on you woman." B'Elanna grinned as they leapt to warp.
After some rough riding at the maximum sustainable warp, they lost the last of their pursuers. "Finally," sighed B'Elanna. "Stupid thieves 'n' stuff"
Seven regarded her curiously from her seat beside the small folding crib that she had stowed in one of the two never ending travel containers she had originally loaded on board.
B'Elanna slid out of the chair to kneel beside the baby. "How is she Seven?"
"The infant appears to be stable. I naturally wish to get her to Voyager fairly quickly to ensure her continued stability."
"Harry, how long?"
"You guys still want to make a pit stop at the cube to try to pull that coil?"
B'Elanna looked up at Seven. Seven nodded. "Yeah Harry."
"Give me an hour to get us there. How long we're there depends on whether you are as good at your job as you think you are Maquis."
B'Elanna snapped her head up to meet Harry's grin. She allowed herself a smile of her own. "Oh Starfleet, you are so going down the next time we play pool."
"Assuming the captain ever lets us out of the brig."
"What and miss out on making us scrub conduits? Where would the fun be in that."
"She'll probably have her beloved former chief engineer polishing the hull with a sonic toothbrush."
"Her favorite former overeager ensign for red carpet for VIPs."
"Overeager?" Harry huffed. "Fine, be that way Maquis."
B'Elanna turned to look at the former Borg who was looking faintly amused. "And whatever will she do to you my fine Borg?"
"She has labelled me mentally ill, denied me the opportunity to rescue the peanut thus leading me to be trapped in a shuttle with her 'beloved former chief engineer' for several hours. As I am not Starfleet, I hardly think there is a greater punishment she could devise and carry out." Seven quirked her implant as B'Elanna's jaw dropped. Harry roared with laughter. B'Elanna recovered to punch playfully at Seven's good shoulder.
"I definitely need to keep an eye on you Borg."
Beeping erupted from Harry's board. "Got something on sensors."
"Never a dull moment," replied B'Elanna under her breath.
Harry's fingers flew over the console. "It's a ship. Looks similar to one of the ones that was following us."
"Perfect," breathed B'Elanna. "What's it doing?"
"I think it's pulling freight."
B'Elanna swung around to look at Harry. She swung back. "Hell no. Check them out when they come closer. If they took my coils, by Kahless we are gonna go round and round." Seven's implant shot upward as she regarded the upset half-Klingon. "Fine. I won't put us in danger, I won't put the kid in danger. If they have the coils, and don't fire on us immediately we try to buy them. Ok Borg?"
"That would be acceptable."
B'Elanna shook her head muttering about people who can't keep their grubbies off her Borg bits.
As they drew closer, Harry confirmed that the ship before them had been salvaging at the cube site. Seven was fighting interference with her sensor arrays to try to pick up the unique 'scent' of transwarp technologies. B'Elanna hailed the ship.
A small and very angry looking grey skinned alien glared out of the monitor. "What do you want."
"We noticed that you were running heavy and we were looking for a deal."
"Got anything worth our time?"
"Send us a list of your trade goods."
The alien closed the line. "Nice guy," muttered B'Elanna. "Meet all the best people in this quadrant." She turned to Seven. "Anything?"
"There is still a great deal of interference."
"Try to work it out fast. I don't want to be hanging here if the guys behind us decide it's worth tracking us. Harry cobble together a list of trade goods, starting with the shit in Seven's cases. Don't make it sound so good that these guys start to eye us for easy pickings."
"You got it."
B'Elanna picked up the infant who was sleepily smacking her lips.. "Well peanut, let's hope we get you home soon." She cuddled her to her shoulder, rubbing the baby's back. "I can't keep calling her peanut. You got a name for her yet Seven?"
Seven looked up briefly from her board, smiling slightly at the sight of the tough Klingon cuddling the infant. "I have been considering many options. I find Arachis to be appropriate at this time although I have not made a final determination."
"It's beautiful. Does it mean anything?"
"Indeed. It means peanut."
B'Elanna grinned at the baby. "Arachis." She kissed her forehead and sat back. A list came over from the other ship. "Crap. Nothing good." She rubbed her forehead ridges and turned to look at Seven. Seven shook her head.
"There is no sign of the transwarp coils."
"B'Elanna, they are powering up their weapons."
"Haven't known them long enough to piss 'em off. Must have heard from the other bunch. Let's go."
The tiny ship was shaken by fire across their nose. "Just once I would like Plan A to work." B'Elanna put the baby down and started re-routing auxiliary power to the shields. "Fire on them Seven. Give them something to think about until I can get us to speed again."
Seven's fingers flew over the fire control panel. "Shields at 75% and they are hailing us."
"We will destroy you if you do not surrender your ship and cargo to us." B'Elanna made a cutting motion to Harry.
"A few years in the Delta Quadrant and all the unfriendly types start to sound alike."
"I have a direct hit on their nacelle."
"Seven, I could kiss you."
"I would suggest we wait until we are away."
"Huhn? Uh right. Going to warp."
"Hey guys," said Harry as they streaked onward toward the remains of the cube. "If you guys kiss, can I get a picture?" He held up his hands against the sudden glares. "It's just it would be the first pool I win."
B'Elanna snorted. "How much does Paris stand to lose?"
"I'll take it under advisement."
Harry laughed as Seven gave B'Elanna the full implant salute. "What? I spend all day playing hero and I can't take five minutes to think about being petty and selfish?" B'Elanna grinned.
Seven shook her head and pretended not to think about kissing the half-Klingon whether for fun or profit or something else. It had been a very challenging day and it wasn't over yet.
"Coming up on what's left of the cube. Looks like vultures have been doing a little picking since we left it." Harry stood to let B'Elanna take a better look at his monitor. "I think what we are looking for is still there though. It was too well protected and buried too deep for the others. They were probably just looking for quick turnover in case of Borg reclamation attempts."
"Thank Kahless for rampant paranoia."
"Indeed," added Seven to the discussion.
"Ok, got a plan here."
"Because your plans have worked out so well so far B'Elanna?"
"Haha Starfleet." B'Elanna reached over to flick the back of Harry's head. "Seriously, bring the shuttle in close to where I have to go. Try to keep it in the debris field as much as possible. I'll go ev, grab the coils and hopefully be back in a flash. You guys try to keep the cube between you and anyone who might show up.."
"An adequate plan."
"See I rate adequate Starfleet," B'Elanna stuck her tongue out. "Seven, help me with the ev suit? Do my safety checks so I can get out of here faster." B'Elanna led the way back to the suit storage closet in the back of the shuttle.
Seven looked at B'Elanna as she drew on the suit. "I believe it is required to do ev activities in pairs, B'Elanna."
"I know. I just think it would be a good idea for you and Arachis to stay here. I love Harry to death but I think you would be a better choice for navigating a debris field if this goes to hell in a hand basket. Besides," B'Elanna hesitated putting her fingertips near Seven's injury, "I would feel better knowing you had a whole duranium hull between you and trouble rather than one of these stupid suits. I want you safe."
Seven touched B'Elanna's hand. "Thank you." She leaned forward to kiss B'Elanna's forehead before putting the engineer's helmet on. She swiftly completed the safety checks.
"Hurry back B'Elanna."
B'Elanna grinned and saluted before moving toward the transporter pad. B'Elanna went through the now dead portion of cube in which the coil could be found. She checked for the fourth time that she had a tool pouch and compulsively checked yet again that the oxygen in her tank would be sufficient for the job, the hike back, and a side trip to another galaxy if needed. 'Running out of air is bad enough. Running out last time got me with Paris. Oxygen deprivation sucks.'
"I'm here," she announced.
"Ok B'Elanna. Keep an eye out. There are vultures. They are on the other side. I don't think they spotted us, but don't take chances."
B'Elanna rolled her eyes and took out her spanner. "Why didn't I stay in bed?" She began the process of disconnecting the fun bits of the transwarp drive from the non-fun bits.
"Thank Kahless for light alloys," B'Elanna muttered as she separated the coil from the assembly. "Harry, hope you kept that engine turned over, 'cause here I come." B'Elanna waited several minutes. "Harry? Seven? Shit."
B'Elanna started hauling her load out through the corridor she came in. She froze as she saw a light weaving toward her. She backtracked to a branching corridor and stepping over and around debris came to a huge rent in the piece of ship she was in. She wrapped her safety line around one of the projecting cross beams and began to climb down to another level.
Getting a couple of levels down from where she started, B'Elanna started moving in the general direction of her ride home. She found herself staring out at the wrong ship. "Shit." She stepped to one side and pulled out her tricorder. Doing a sweep she noticed that her ride was exactly opposite of her current location. Cursing a blue streak she started walking. She occasionally tried to raise Seven and Harry, but got no response.
B'Elanna found herself looking at another chasm. She tried to rub her forehead ridges but they were inaccessible behind the helmet. Her safety line at the first hole in the ship, she would have to find another way across.
B'Elanna slowly lowered herself over the edge of the walkway she was on. Stupidly enough, she looked down. 'Bloody Borgs and the build it bigger philosophy. If I didn't know any better I'd say the lot of them are having a mid-life crisis.' Taking a deep cleansing breath, she swung herself into the next level.
Lowering herself two more levels, B'Elanna edged over to a set of conduits that still spanned the cube at this point. She lowered herself onto them and prayed that she had lost more weight than she thought last month.. She slid on her belly across the chasm, her eyes only occasionally opening and her fingers questing before her for any protrusion that could rip her suit.
Reaching the walkway on the other side, B'Elanna stood and made sure she had everything. "Gear, check. Suit, check. Oxygen, check. Tricorder......." She looked around and then down. The tricorder was gone. B'Elanna shook her head, threw a gloved fist into the nearest wall and started walking in the right general direction.
B'Elanna was lost in fifteen minutes. If Seven or Harry didn't start talking to her soon, she was going to be in trouble. She kept going thinking she might end up back at the same chasm so she could at least get her bearings, but luck had apparently taken one look at the half-Klingon tucked tail and started running away, yipping all the way.
"Come on guys. Talk to me."
"I'll talk to you," replied an unfamiliar voice.
B'Elanna spun around. There was no one there. "Shit."
"Who the hell are you?" B'Elanna growled into her mike, continuing to look around to see the source of the voice.
"Allow me to introduce myself. I am Barl. You stole my Borg." The voice was calm, deadly calm, the voice of a steel blade.
"Never heard of you and it's our baby." B'Elanna reached for her light and shut it off. She allowed her eyes to adjust to the dimmer light from the suit lights and the only partially functional emergency cube lighting. She strained her eyes for any other source of illumination.
"I would suggest you simply agree to return it. The consequences of continued resistance will be quite unpleasant I assure you."
B'Elanna began moving through the passage to her left. She was cautious, straining her eyes for lights and for anything she could use to puncture the suits of anyone who came after her. "Are you attempting to contact your ship? Futile, completely and utterly. They can't hear you. They will not be able to until you and I come to an arrangement."
"What makes you think they would honor any arrangement to turn over the baby?"
"Nothing. But concluding an arrangement with you would in all likelihood give them sufficient pause for us to kill them should they prove obstructive."
B'Elanna pulled a torn piece of metal free of one of the broken alcoves she was passing. "And I suppose you intend to let us just skip off if you get what you want."
"We are still debating the merits of that. Let's just say the level of cooperation we receive from you in this matter will determine our next step."
'Keep him talking, keep him talking.' "So you're the one who wiped the files and everyone's memories."
"Yes. I admit I am a bit curious as to how you knew."
"Maybe I can tell you about it and we can trade recipes for chaos over beer and baklava."
Barl snorted. "My men are entering the section you are trapped in. I would suggest you not get creative."
B'Elanna tightened her hand on the twisted, ripped piece of metal in her hand and kept going. She came to another of the huge canyons in the torn cube. She almost stopped breathing when she looked upward to see the shuttle overhead.
'So not my day,' B'Elanna thought as she looked up at the shuttle. She could shoot a flare past the shuttle but that would probably get some seriously unwanted attention. She didn't have her line anymore so climbing up and hoping to get spotted wouldn't do the trick. The suppression field that was affecting the communications had to be affecting the sensors and/or the transporter to some extent or they would have grabbed her by now.
Barl was probably hoping that putting B'Elanna in danger would be helpful in persuading the others to part with Arachis without a fight. Can't risk damage to the precious cargo. 'Must be getting one hell of a price on the market to put this much into it. Shit.' B'Elanna swore as she realized one of the side corridors was taking on a lighter shade of grey. 'How do I keep ending up in stupid situations like this?'
B'Elanna unclipped a short cloth handle from one of the small bags tucked in her belt. Pulling it to its full length of three feet she wrapped it around a long conduit that pointed off into the rent. She clipped the ends to her belt. B'Elanna opened the e-valve on her air tank and closed her eyes just as the force drove her up the conduit toward the open sky. 'Please let them see me.' ran through her head just before the conduit came to an abrupt end.
Still going, she drifted past the shuttle as the calm voice in her helmet warned of her serious lack of oxygen. The air already thinner and colder, B'Elanna kept her eyes closed. If they came, she would be safe. If they didn't see her, she'd fall asleep. Either way, Barl couldn't use her.
She felt warm. Cracking her eyes, she slammed them shut again at the light. B'Elanna groaned and forced herself into a sitting position. "You ok?" she heard Harry ask.
"Get used to it. We don't have time for minor fixes right now."
"Where are Seven and the kid?"
Harry finished stripping off his ev suit and tucked it in the cupboard. "Seven is trying to keep the cube between us and the other ship."
"We are going to need to get out. The other ship belongs to the guy that started this whole mess and he is bad news."
Harry started forward. "I for one am always glad to see a cube shrinking in the distance."
B'Elanna wrestled her eyelids open again and followed her friend.. Seven looked at her with concern as she fell into her chair. "We were unable to reach you or locate you. You are all right?"
"Dandy Seven. Now can we get the hell out of here?"
The former Borg edged the shuttle out of the field. Losing their protective dead cube debris field coat, the moment they were clear, they went to warp.
Harry watched the sensors. "Not doing it this time, guys. This ship has got some serious speed to it."
B'Elanna tried to come up with options. Her head was banging which was not helping in the least. The shuttle rocked and Arachis started fussing. "Shields down to 60 guys," Harry said.
"Compensating," replied Seven.
"Evasion would be good," muttered B'Elanna darkly.
Seven's implant went up and she changed course. The shuttle shook again. "Send out a distress call. If we are really lucky the Captain is so hot to put us in the brig she came looking for us." B'Elanna went back to the maintenance panels looking for more systems to raid for shield power. She rerouted every secondary system she could scrounge and kept digging.
"Come on baby, hold together for me," whispered B'Elanna as she patted the bulkhead. She slid the panel back in and moved to the front of the shuttle again.
"B'Elanna, perhaps if you promise the shuttle a hand wash and upgrade it will give us more speed and shields," Seven tossed back.
"Hush Borg! Harry what do they look like for shields?" The shuttle shook again and B'Elanna frowned at the monitors in front of her.
"Better than the last bunch but not great. Probably put all that power they generate into that cloak they used when they took the baby in the first place."
B'Elanna routed more power into the forward shields. "Turn us around." Seven looked at her. "Enough subtle. They'll tear us to pieces if we don't get active."
"All out war then, B'Elanna?"
"Firing everything we have. Keep us on course, Borg. See who rattles first." B'Elanna grinned. The Borg knew exactly how much room they would need to avoid scraping paint. She was willing to bet the other ship was not equally piloted.
The two ships were going straight for one another. Barl's ship folded first. Seven executed a quick turn to stay on the slightly larger ship's tail. B'Elanna stared at her. "Who the hell has been teaching you dog-fighting, Borg?"
"That would be your ex, B'Elanna," stated the Borg as she initiated a tight turn to keep on the other ship.
"Well, at least he got one thing right."
"B'Elanna their shields are down and they are hailing us," Harry called out.
"Yeah, like I trust them any further than Arachis could throw them. Seven keep well back. Open the line."
"Yes," snarled the grey alien with a scar over his eye.
"Not nearly as chatty as you were, big guy. Damaged ship, no shields. It seems it's my turn to negotiate. Dump your core."
"Not wanting you on our asses. Fetching your core and putting your ship back together should take enough time for us to clear out. Dump your damn core before my crew takes that option away from you. You have two minutes to comply." B'Elanna made a cutting sign and turned to Harry. "I don't like this."
"Got a bad feeling myself."
"In your case it's probably gas Starfleet. Let's target their engines. If we don't see them dumping by the minute, forty five second mark we fire."
"You gave them two minutes, B'Elanna."
"So I lied. Bitch to the captain."
"I believe your assessment and tactics to be correct B'Elanna. However, if and when we return to Voyager, I believe we should leave this little detail out of our reports."
Harry snorted. "Honestly, I know don't which one of you is worse for rules."
"Says the guy who's been riding back seat on this the whole way."
"Coming up on time guys."
"Got another ship coming in B'Elanna."
"When it rains it pours."
B'Elanna patted Arachis in her crib. "See kid, you're my luck."
"Two minutes and no core. The other ship is powering up again."
"Play dead to get time for shield repairs. Sucks to be right all the time. Let's start shooting. If they leave, don't follow."
"We're just going to let them get away?" Harry asked.
"More important to get the kid on board." The other ship fired at the shuttle. It turned away and went to warp. "About time something went right."
"If you can call getting slung in the brig right."
"Go replicate some flowers Harry. Give Janeway some roses and a transwarp coil when we get aboard. Guaranteed to melt the most obstinate woman's heart."
"Indeed," replied the former Borg. "I will have to try that." She quirked her implant at the engineer. B'Elanna laughed.
"Voyager's hailing us."
"Put it up."
"Lt. Torres, Seven and Ensign Kim." The captain sounded frosty and the Force 10 glare was still powerful though the monitor made the Captain appear even tinier.
"Hey Captain. In the neighborhood?"
The captain was clearly not amused. "We received a distress call. Do you know anything about it?"
"Yeah but we took care of it."
A tractor beam locked on the small craft. "I hope you three didn't have any pressing engagements." The captain cut the communication short..
"Nope. She's not happy."
"Ya think? Better make that a double batch of flowers. Might as well. Don't think any of us are gonna have replicator rations for a long long time." She picked up Arachis and nestled her against her collarbone. "Kid, you just better remember me and Seven on Mother's day and Starfleet on Father's Day.... we'll be the ones gathering dust in the Brig."
Harry laughed as the shuttle bumped into the bay. B'Elanna passed the baby to Seven as she stood. She led the small group down the small ramp to the floor of the dock where the captain, Tuvok and a small security detail waited.
"Hey Captain. We wanted to introduce you to the newest member of the ship's complement, Arachis." B'Elanna motioned Seven forward with the baby. The captain looked down into the blanket of the sleepy looking infant. She smiled.
The captain shook her head. "What am I supposed to do with you three?"
"We brought flowers and a transwarp coil," offered Mr. Kim helpfully. The captain chuckled.
"I believe, Captain, that our emergency shuttle tracking and recovery drills were a success." Tuvok told Janeway.
She stared at Tuvok for a moment, but just a moment. She wasn't made Captain for being slow after all. "Thank you for your assistance with these drills. Perhaps we should hold off on any further drills until such time as we can analyze the data from this run. B'Elanna, I want that coil up and running yesterday." Janeway and company left the bay.
"We got away with it?" Harry asked..
"Knew you were lucky kid." B'Elanna bent and kissed the tiny head. Paris came into the shuttle bay.
"Starfleet, you feeling lucky too?"
B'Elanna put her hands on either side of Seven's face. She drew her in for a deep kiss. Harry started dancing. "I won a pool, I won a pool."
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