DISCLAIMER: Star Trek Voyager and all who sail in her belong to Paramount/Viacom and no infringement of copyright/trade marks is intended.
VIOLENCE WARNING: This story deals with captivity, please be advised that punishments are described that deal with technically induced physical pain.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Nine Months
By Kudara

Part 7: With Child


Chapter 24


Stardate 52798.37 (October 19, 2375 9:48am)

B'Elanna watched Seven, trying desperately not to smile, much less snicker, at the blonde's expression. Seven was in the process of changing Heather's diaper, and the look on her face was a mixture of intent concentration and… B'Elanna couldn't decide whether or not Seven was actually holding her breath, or just trying not to breathe in too deeply. Whichever, it was clear that the blonde did not consider the fragrance arising from the infant to be a pleasant one.

Mary, Elizabeth and Maria's oldest, was sitting near Seven and watching with an openly disgusted expression. Mary had been fascinated with Seven since their first day, and B'Elanna knew that the two of them frequently played together. The half-Klingon thought that their relationship was similar to that which Naomi had with Seven when they had been on Voyager.

"Just wait, someday you will have one of your own, and you won't be able to sit over here watching." Janice Young said next to her ear, as she sat down beside her. "Hmm, actually now that I'm thinking about it, it's not really fair for her to be learning everything. I'm sure you aren't planning on treating her like the little wife, and letting her take care of all the child raising?" the raven haired woman asked with a raised eyebrow, and a hint of challenge in her tone.

B'Elanna felt an immediate surge of anger at the suggestion, "Of…" she paused noting her tone and took in a calming breath. "Of course not," she answered with forced calm, feeling slightly ill at the thought of what could have happened had she not caught herself. B'Elanna looked down at the table, certain that Janice's eyes would hold censure for her momentary lapse. Instead she felt a warm hand grasp her shoulder, and gently squeeze it reassuringly. Meeting the dark eyes, she only saw understanding and concern in them.

"You need to be over there with her," Janice said in a gentle tone. "It's very easy to just go along with everything, and not realize what the roles are you're settling into, but you're the one with the freedom to choose how supportive you will be. If you don't want to play some type of stereotypical head of household, it's up to you to make the effort to you to show Seven that your equal partners."

As she finished speaking, Janice's dark brown eyes flickered past her toward the wall of the room where the infraction indication panel was located, and she breathed out a relieved sigh. Suddenly B'Elanna realized, with an inward chill, just what the Janice had willingly risked by being so honest with her; she had to have known that there was a good chance that her words might be taken as a protest against their treatment. The half-Klingon's eyes searched out Janice's partner, Brenda Allen. The weapons specialist was holding Jessica, their child in her lap, and there was no mistaking the relieved look on her face.

Glancing around quickly B'Elanna realized that several people, including Elizabeth and Maria, Christina and Nancy, and Amy and Lee were watching them as well. It didn't take a genius to realize that they all knew, or guessed what Janice was talking to her about. She almost asked the raven haired woman why she had been the one to talk to her instead of Maria, when her eyes fell upon Janice's dark haired child Jessica. Jessica who was only three, and then it made too much sense. All the others had children who were already implanted with the pain inducers; Janice was the only one of the three counselors who would be risking only herself, instead of herself and her child.

B'Elanna still distinctly remembered the day she had found out that her suspicion that the children were used as hostages in addition to their mothers was correct.

Christine had not been her usual self for a few days, usually she was fairly upbeat, but she had been particularly solemn, even depressed lately. B'Elanna had asked her what was wrong during a quiet moment.

"Carol's turning five in a week," Christine had answered bleakly.

B'Elanna had stared at her, confused; before she could ask anything more, Lisa Stewart had come over and pulled her away. In a low tone, the red-headed former Mountie had informed her tersely, "Five's when the pain inducers are implanted. Fortunately until the children are older, their only activated for five seconds at a time."

B'Elanna shook her head, pulling herself back to the present. "Thank you," she said in a low voice to Janice, trying to convey deep appreciation for the risk the woman had run to make her aware of what she had been doing. Janice was right, she had been sitting back and letting Seven learn everything, as if the half-Klingon had no need for the same information.

So much for telling Seven that they would both adapt, she had been hanging back and letting the blonde do all the adapting, B'Elanna thought to herself harshly. Her eyes were drawn toward the other side of the room where Seven sat now holding the freshly changed infant. The blonde was watching the half-Klingon with a slight frown upon her face, and B'Elanna didn't know whether or not the blonde's enhanced hearing was good enough for her to have overheard the conversation, or whether Seven was just curious as to what she and Janice were talking about. B'Elanna got up, planning to go over to Seven, apologize for her behavior, and ask the blonde to teach her what she had learned.

"Hey, B'Elanna," Janice's voice made her pause for a moment, "Don't be too hard on yourself, I don't think many of us managed to escape falling into that habit at one time or another. How do you think we knew to look?"

She turned, looked back at the raven haired woman and nodded, her face softening once again in gratitude. It did help to know that others, people she was coming to respect, like Elizabeth and Christina, had done the same. Striding quickly across the open area she gave Seven a self-conscious smile, as she sat down facing her, straddling the bench seat of the table. "Hey," she said softly to the blonde.

Seven raised her optical implant and smirked at the half-Klingon as she replied, "You have come over to learn more about the care of infants?"

B'Elanna had to fight the impulse to squirm, "You heard."

"Yes," Seven replied. "And Lee and Janice have discussed the subject with me previously. As I informed them then, I have very little memory of my own parents relationship, and only was aware of your and Lt. Paris's relationship on Voyager. Thus, I have no standard against which I can form any judgment of the nature of our relationship. I was not even aware of the roles they described to me, until they informed me of them."

"Oh," B'Elanna replied briefly, still considering what Seven had just told her. "Well, I should have been doing more than I have been. I don't want to have that type of relationship, I…" she trailed off, rather confused herself about how easily she had fallen into such an old fashioned stereotypical role.

"Have you ever held an infant before B'Elanna," Seven asked after a long moment of silence.

B'Elanna stared at her for a moment in surprise, and then shook her head slightly at herself. It shouldn't really surprise her anymore that Seven was willing to forgive and move on; it was one of the character traits she admired most in her lover. She could guess that Seven had decided her silence meant the discussion was finished, and it was now time to remedy the stated problem. "No, I haven't. Naomi's really the only child I've ever been around for a long period of time as an adult, and I didn't have any close contact with her."

Seven nodded, "Karen," she addressed Heather's mother who was busy playing with her older child Evelyn. "May B'Elanna hold Heather? I will instruct her in the proper method."

"Of course," replied Karen. A smile formed on her face, and she shifted so that she could watch the proceedings.

B'Elanna recalled most of the discussion that Seven had gotten into with Lee and the others over how to hold a child, and was able to persuade the blonde to skip over most of the lecture. Finally, Seven instructed her to move very close, and once the half-Klingon was standing almost toe to toe, transferred the infant into B'Elanna's arms.

"Expecting her to make a break for it?" asked B'Elanna, amused as Seven stepped back.

"She has become very active in the past week, and this is the best method to ensure her head is supported properly at all times." Seven replied calmly.

Almost as if to helpfully prove Seven's point, Heather choose to stretch at that moment, pressing her head and heels down and almost lifting her entire body, then she relaxed and gurgled. Suddenly, B'Elanna could see the point to Seven's care; it would be very easy to make a mistake if the child chose to do that while changing hands.

This was the first time B'Elanna had seen an infant so close, fascinated she examined the tiny hands and fingers that waved and grasped the air. "I think she's looking for you," she commented to Seven, noting that the child seemed to be looking in the blonde's direction.

"Doubtful, her eyes are not developed enough," answered Seven. "She can only focus on objects eighteen inches away or less."

'Great watch the kid start yelling at the scary looking Klingon,' B'Elanna thought as she tentatively lifted the child and lowered her head. Immediately Heather turned her head and looked up at her, verifying the blonde's words. "Hello there," she tried out softly, finding it somewhat startling to realize that the child hadn't been able to see her face before; she hadn't known that very young children were so near sighted.

Heather stared at her and B'Elanna got the distinct impression that the child was evaluating her, maybe making up her mind whether or not she was interesting or scary. B'Elanna couldn't help but smile at the serious look on the child's face. To the half-Klingon's fascination, the child took in a deep breath and let it out, smacked her mouth open and closed twice, then suddenly smiled up at her sweetly and raised her arms toward B'Elanna's face. Curious as to what the child would do, she lowered her face toward the waving hands.

The warning, "B'Elanna," from Seven came a moment too late; Heather had already grabbed two handfuls of wavy brunette hair.

Reflexively B'Elanna tried to lift her head, only to figure out that the child had an amazingly good grip on her hair. Heather gurgled in delight. "Oh you think this is funny do you?" B'Elanna asked the infant, amused herself at the predicament she found herself in.

Seven's metal wrapped hand appeared in front of her face, fingers waving gently. Heather immediately focused on the new object within her field of vision, and after only a few seconds released the half-Klingon's hair in favor of trying to grasp Seven's fingers.

"Infants are attracted to shiny or brightly colored objects," Seven stated. "I should have warned you that she enjoys grasping hair, I have learned to keep mine out of her reach."

An uneasy quiet descending over the room caused them to look around. It only took a few seconds for them to notice the robot that had just entered the room.

"Brenda Allen and adult hostage, B'Elanna Torres and hostage, you have one minute before you must accompany this unit." It stated.

"I'll take her," Karen came up with Evelyn following her closely.

B'Elanna was busy looking at Seven who was staring at the robot with an odd expression. Hearing Karen's voice the blonde turned back around and watched as B'Elanna handed Heather to her mother, then stared at the half-Klingon's face keenly. "Seven?" B'Elanna asked, confused as to what was going on, and why the blonde was reacting this way. Off in the other corner of the room she could hear Brenda and Janice reassuring their daughter as they left her in Maria's care.

"It is time, I am to be impregnated," Seven stated, her voice calm. Only her stormy blue eyes betrayed that she was not as composed as she appeared to be.

B'Elanna stared at the blonde dumbly, and then looked around only to receive confirming nods from those near them. The half-Klingon didn't doubt that they were right; this would be a procedure whose pattern they were familiar with.

"We must go B'Elanna," Seven tugged on her hand gently.

B'Elanna stared at her frozen, it hadn't really been real up to this point, it had been something that was going to happen in the nebulous future, not now, not today. She wasn't ready to think of herself and Seven as future mothers.

"B'Elanna, I cannot carry you," Seven whispered urgently and gently placed her hands on the half-Klingon's face.

With an initial lurching movement B'Elanna grabbed one of Seven's hands and started walking, joining Brenda Allen and Janice Young who were already standing near the robot.

Her shock lifting, B'Elanna looked curiously at the other couple who were to go with them. There were three other women pregnant at this time, and apparently Seven would not be the only woman joining their ranks, Janice would be as well.

Brenda Allen was as striking looking as her partner, straight black hair, dark brown eyes, high cheekbones and a darker complexion like Maria and B'Elanna's. The half-Klingon had heard that the woman was of Native American descent, but had not talked much to the leader of the second rifle squad.

As they came up Janice held out her arms, and Seven unhesitatingly accepted a brief hug from her. B'Elanna was surprised; she hadn't realized Seven and Janice were so close. "Don't worry we will all be sedated for the entire procedure," she reassured them.

B'Elanna nodded to her, letting out a relieved breath; all types of nightmarish scenarios had been running through her mind ever since she realized what was going on.

The robot began moving and the two couples followed it out the double doors.


Chapter 25


Stardate 52839.09 (Nov 3, 2375 6:30am)

Standing silently in formation, their weapons and gear stacked along the left wall, the women waited in their black tactical suits in Alpha Squadron's training hall. B'Elanna, who was standing with rifle squad one, was going on her first real mission, and didn't know whether or not she was more excited or concerned at the prospect.

A training robot had come into their bedroom approximately ninety minutes ago, and wakened her and Seven. It informed them that B'Elanna had an hour to prepare for a mission and she would return in approximately twelve hours. Then it had left their quarters as abruptly as it appeared.

Slim as ever, and as yet, showing no signs of her pregnancy, Seven had elected to remain awake and join the brunette in her bath. Before B'Elanna had left, the blonde had instructed her in a severe voice, "You will ensure that you are not injured, B'Elanna." and then kissed her passionately.

Motion to the right of her, distracted B'Elanna from her thoughts of earlier. Elizabeth Janeway was striding along the right side of the formation toward its front. The half-Klingon guessed the unit leader had come in from the doors at the back of the room, the ones that lead to the briefing area and classrooms.

When the russet haired, grey-eyed woman reached the front of the formation she paused for a moment, her eyes running over them. "As you already know we are to go on a mission today. We do not know whether we are facing multiple units or a single unit, and have been given no information on the battle location. Communications and Electronics Specialists, we will be counting on you today. We will need as much information as soon as you can provide it. Everyone stay on your toes and keep sharp, and keep an eye out for each other."

So far this was just like a training mission, and B'Elanna was anticipating the order to move out that usually came after Elizabeth's briefing. Instead, the doors at the end of the hall that led to the outside opened and a robot entered. Elizabeth turned sharply and moved to the right a few steps before facing the formation once again.

The robot stopped at the place Elizabeth had just vacated and began speaking. "This unit will now inform you of possible infractions during this mission and their results. No discussions or attempts at escape will be made. You will obey the designated unit and rifle squad leaders. You will obey any directive given to you by one of the instructional units. Any infraction will result in a corrective action upon your hostage or hostages."

So far the normal spiel, B'Elanna thought, then it continued, "As a reminder human females can withstand between six to ten corrective actions at once before sustaining permanent damage. Female children between five and eleven years can withstand four to seven corrective actions before sustaining permanent damage. Pregnant females can withstand three to four corrective actions before chance of aborting the fetus rises above fifty percent, at seven corrective actions the chance is one hundred percent. Any permanently damaged hostage will be terminated. Any one of you without a surviving hostage will be terminated."

B'Elanna felt a chill sensation in her stomach. As always, just when things had been going peacefully for a few days, and she was tempted to relax enough to almost forget the constant danger Seven was in; she was forcibly reminded of their true situation. What the robot had just related was the most specific information she had heard about exactly how many of the corrective actions their hostages could survive. Of course it was also her first actual mission; from Elizabeth's action, B'Elanna could guess that the speech was standard procedure.

She was surprised that no one had ever mentioned this information before, but glancing at the tense, pale faces around her, she immediately guessed that it simply wasn't a topic they wanted to think or talk about. Or they might have assumed that she already knew. Their captor or captors weren't popular topics of conversation, it was too frighteningly easy to step over the invisible line that had been drawn, and incur a punishment for their hostages. And that was something that none of them wanted to happen.

The robot did not say anything further and B'Elanna wondered what would happen next, she had asked Christina once how they got to their mission sites. The Squad secondary leader had informed her that sometimes they used a large transport shuttle; sometimes they were transported into a large bay within some type of ship. Feeling the tingle of a transporter beam for the first time in eight months she waited impatiently for the transport to finish.

Bare metallic walls, it reminded her strongly of the cell she had first found herself in when she was first captured. Looking around at the walls she could see no obvious opening, only ventilation duct openings approximately thirty feet up the walls. Otherwise the room was bare except for the women and their gear.


Chapter 26


Stardate 52840.11 (Nov 3, 2375 3:26pm)

Failure, the taste of it had seldom been as bitter for B'Elanna as it was today. There had been four other units on the flat, marshy, humid, bug infested, practically coverless location they had been set down in to fight. Elizabeth had reminded them, and in the case of B'Elanna told her, that all such past battles had been ones where every unit fought for themselves. So the best thing they could do would be to take on one unit at a time, but became rapidly apparent as soon as they engaged the first unit that this mission would not be like the previous ones. Instead of only thinking of their own unit, all four units had coordinated to fight against them.

Three of the enemy units had been a motley collection of Delta Quadrant natives, the third had been a unit of Kazon males. B'Elanna hadn't been sure what sect they belonged to, she had never paid much attention to the fine details of the Kazon, only despised them for attacking Voyager so many times that first year. Thankfully, every unit's weapons had been modified so that they could only stun, not kill. As any of the combatants fell, they were quickly transported out, presumably for medical treatment.

In the end, though they had fought fiercely, and used what little cover there was to their advantage, the superior numbers of their enemies had finally overwhelmed them. B'Elanna had been among the last thirty or so to fall, she woke still covered in muck, on the hard floor of the same metal walled bay they had first transported into. Gingerly rising she checked herself for any injuries and was relieved to find none, either she had not been injured, or she had already been treated.

The other women of Alpha squad were sitting or standing about in small groups, the cavernous bay which should have echoed with sound was strangely quiet. Looking around, she spotted her favorite fellow Communications Specialist, Sabrina sitting with her back pressed against a wall. The two of them had talked and joked around with each other enough that B'Elanna considered the woman to be a good friend.

"What's going on, why is everyone so quiet?" B'Elanna asked as she came up to Sabrina.

The dark skinned woman looked up at her question, and the half-Klingon was dismayed at the despondence in evidence on the usually smiling face. Dark brown eyes met hers, the woman's skin usually a warm mocha, had a dull cast to it that alarmed B'Elanna. She made as if to speak then paused, to B'Elanna's surprise she reached up and placed her hand over B'Elanna's mouth for a second, then removed it, looking at her solemnly.

B'Elanna clamped her mouth shut and nodded silently, understanding that she wasn't to blurt out something she, or Seven, would regret.

"More often than not, there is a punishment for loosing." Sabrina stated quietly.

B'Elanna gritted her teeth together against the protest that so desperately wanted to be said. Breathing deeply in her agitation, B'Elanna joined the dark skinned woman, sitting down beside her. What exactly did their captor or captors want, it had been four against one, her mind protested. 'To win obviously,' she answered herself silently.

More and more she was becoming certain that this was all some type of game that was being played with them as the pieces. Team against team, only today the other teams had decided to defeat them first before most likely starting in on each other. B'Elanna knew from what had been said about past missions that both Alpha and Beta Squads usually completed these missions successfully. If she was right then it would make sense that the other units had decided to take them out first.

Question was, were the other units prisoners like themselves? Or competing for something else, like money? Was anyone else being played with, and manipulated like they were? Or had they just gotten some psycho competitor. Not that she could ever verbalize any of her questions; any whisper of such sentiment would certainly be counted as an infraction against their captor's rules.

Looking around she now understood why everyone was silent and depressed. "Padma is three right?" she asked Sabrina in a low whisper, not wanting to be insensitive to the women around her that she knew had older children.

Sabrina nodded, her eyes acknowledging that yes, at least that was something to be thankful for. Then she went back to staring at the floor silently.

B'Elanna watched her for a moment longer, knowing that her friend adored her partner Anuyha and their child, Padma. Unlike B'Elanna and Seven, before they were captured Sabrina and Anuyha were both aware they were homosexual, and had been in same sex relationships. Sabrina had been 'out' as she called it, which B'Elanna had learned meant that she openly acknowledged her sexual orientation, but Anuyha had not.

Even though they had lived in the United States for several years and Anuyha had been born there, her family was very traditionally Indian. Anuyha had been born to her parent's late in their lives, after they had given up hope of ever having a child. Her name even reflected this, meaning something unexpected but pleasant and valued. Anuyha knew that she was attracted to other women, but had hidden it, not wanting to hurt her parents or their hope for grandchildren. She had been planning a wedding to a kind and handsome young man, whose family were close friends with her parents, when she had been taken.

Sabrina, unlike herself, had been able to keep her temper and a quiet tongue after being subjected to the typical punishment session. From what her friend had revealed, Anuyha had been very frightened at first, devastated at learning that her family was long since dead, and had looked to Sabrina, who was older, for reassurance and comfort. It had only taken them a few weeks to realize they were attracted to one another, and they had been lovers from that point on. Now, one had only to see the way Anuyha's face lit up when she saw Sabrina in the evenings, to know that Sabrina's love and adoration of the Indian woman were returned in full measure.

B'Elanna's thoughts of her friend and her friend's relationship, brought the half-Klingon full circle to her own relationship with Seven, and her emotions for the blonde. She was pretty sure that she loved the former Borg. B'Elanna shook her head, staring at the smooth metal of the bay deck, she had no idea if they were even moving, she couldn't hear an engine, she couldn't even feel a vibration, as she had been able to almost anywhere on Voyager. 'Voyager,' she thought, 'if anyone had told me there that I would fall in love with Seven of Nine I would have either decked them or fallen down in laughter.'

Cold, dispassionate, remote, arrogant as hell, oh yes the blonde could certainly be all of those. Yet, she was also very passionate, tender, and loving, she could even do a passable humble for a few minutes, if the occasion really called for it. B'Elanna had to be honest with herself, the reason she had fallen for Seven was because the blonde was all of those things. Seven challenged her, she was intelligent, strong, proud, and both the Klingon, and the human, in B'Elanna found her attractive.

A transporter beam interrupted her thoughts, and the next thing she knew she was sitting on the floor of the Squad's training hall. There were a few moments of confusion until Elizabeth called out, "Form up." In seconds they found their places, and stood apprehensively waiting to see what would come next. B'Elanna noticed that Elizabeth was standing off to one side of the formation, instead of in the center, indicating that the Squad leader expected a robot to appear and address them.

As before the insectoid machine halted at the front of the formation, "Alpha Squad you failed to complete your mission. Failing to carry out orders given by a training unit is an infraction. Two infractions have been incurred; corrective actions will take place now."

B'Elanna gritted her teeth together and locked her muscles into place, willing herself not to move, not to betray the rage she felt, the desire to smash the emotionless Ha'DIbaH machine standing in front of them into a smoking ruin.

Finally, after what seemed an agonizing eternity, the robot continued, "Training will resume tomorrow. You are now permitted to go to your hostages in the community room." Then it turned and left.

Looking around numbly, she saw the sick horror she was feeling reflected on the faces around her.

"Breathe, get it together, they don't need our anger, fear or regret. Everyone, especially the children are going to be upset, we don't need to be adding to it. Clean and store your tactical suits, and as soon as you're calm you can leave." Elizabeth said in a strained voice, her face pale and tense.

Amy Lewis, who was in formation in front of B'Elanna, turned around, and the half-Klingon couldn't help but notice the tears running down the older woman's face. The sight shocked her; Amy was usually one of the calmest people in the unit. Then she remembered that Amy and Lee's children were seven and five years old, both of the young girls had pain inducers.

Her teeth ground together, keeping the curses that she wanted to utter locked inside. 'Breathe', she reminded herself, no one needed her anger, and Seven certainly didn't need it. Dropping to her knees she placed her hands together as Tuvok had taught her and spent a few seconds in meditation before standing up, and heading towards the area where they cleaned and stored the armor, along with several of the other women. The training hall was empting rapidly; everyone seemed to be regaining a measure of control over their emotions at about the same time.

It only took a few seconds to walk through the sonic cleaner and then a minute or two more to strip off the tactical suit and store it correctly. That task done she hurried toward the common room at a quick jog, out of the corner of her eye she noticed Sabrina come up beside her and then keep pace with her. In front of them were Elizabeth and Christina. Elizabeth reached the door first and opened it.

Noise assaulted them, children screaming, or wailing less stridently, in between the bursts of distress, there was the continual lower sound of sobbing. B'Elanna's feet carried her onward, though it seemed for a moment as if her brain had shut down. In small groups on the floor, mothers held their children, trying to calm them. Her fellow unit members were joining their families, kneeling and embracing their lover and children.

Looking around the half-Klingon searched for a familiar blonde head, finally spotting Seven over in one corner. Karen was sitting beside the blonde holding the infant Heather. Evelyn, Karen's eldest, was leaning against her mother's side. The former Borg was holding Elizabeth's eldest child Mary, and Christina's eldest child Carol. Sitting between the two women were Elizabeth's and Christina's youngest children Ruth and Rebecca.

Sabrina split off joining Anuyha and Padma, B'Elanna, Elizabeth and Christina crossed over to Seven and Karen. Lisa came running up from behind B'Elanna just as they came up to the two blondes seated on the floor, and promptly sat down and wrapped one arm around Karen and pulled Evelyn into her lap.

"Seven?" asked Elizabeth with concern as she knelt, "How did you get the kids? Where are Maria and Nancy?"

"Carmen Ward began having contractions seven minutes, forty seconds ago. Maria, Nancy and Terrie Rivas went with her to the delivery room to examine her. I believe they were uncertain whether or not she was beginning labor or having Braxton Hicks contractions." Seven replied as she let go of Mary and Carol who promptly went into Elizabeth and Christina's arms, followed by their younger sisters. She watched the children her eyes a stormy bluish grey. B'Elanna could tell, from the tension in her body and face, that she was upset. Not that B'Elanna was surprised; she just wished everyone would move so she could hold Seven and ask how she was doing.

B'Elanna was confused at the mention of Terrie Rivas until she remembered the woman was a nurse-midwife.

"She's only seven months pregnant, isn't she?" asked Christina.

Seven nodded, "Yes, the child will be sixty-five days early if she is in actual labor."

"Thanks for taking care of them Seven," said Elizabeth gratefully. Christina quickly followed with her own thanks.

"Could someone move just a bit so I can get to Seven please," B'Elanna finally asked, her patience exhausted.

With murmured "Sorry," Elizabeth and Christina shifted so the half-Klingon could finally kneel beside her lover and pull her into a tight hug.

"Are you alright," B'Elanna asked her face buried in Seven's honey blond hair.

Seven didn't respond for a moment, "I am functioning," she finally answered, her head tucked into the hollow between B'Elanna's neck and shoulder.

B'Elanna nodded; it wasn't as if she expected Seven to be feeling fine after what had just happened. There were around two hundred children in the room, of that she would guess that seventy or so were five or older. She knew that she would have been terrified as a child if she had felt pain like that, no matter how long it was for. Not to mention that all the children would have found it frightening to see their mothers fall down and obviously be in pain. The half-Klingon held Seven tighter for a moment; she had found it overwhelming to walk in this room, the noise, the terror and fright of the children. She couldn't imagine what it must be like for Seven.

"You are permitted to go to your quarters," the flat voice of a robot echoed above the din in the room.

Seven stiffened in her arms at the sound, and B'Elanna looked around surprised, repressing a growl. She hadn't noticed the robot enter the room, her back was to the door.

"If you need assistance stay, otherwise it will be best if we get the children out of this room for awhile and let them calm down," Lee's voice was raised to carry over the noise.

"Is it alright for me to go Elizabeth?" asked Christina a hopeful expression on her face.

"Yea, go ahead," Elizabeth answered her, understanding in her eyes.

"Want to go back to our quarters and wait for Mommy?" Christina asked her two quietly. Silent but empathetic nods answered her. Christina stood, carrying both children easily and moved towards the doors.

"You need to check on everyone?" Lisa asked the unit leader, "We can watch Mary and Ruth for you for a bit if you need us to." As if to dispute her words, Heather who had been fussy but quiet, choose that moment to begin crying. From the mess on the infant's face B'Elanna could guess that Karen had probably just managed to quiet her before the half-Klingon had arrived.

Seven pulled back from B'Elanna, "I am also willing to care for them while you do your duties Elizabeth."

"You sure Seven," Karen asked before anyone else could say anything, a hopeful look on her face as she rocked Heather.

B'Elanna released Seven so she could face the other woman, "Yes," she replied certainly, raising her voice over the infants rising screams.

"I'd rather we got the children out of here," Karen said. Lisa nodded, looking almost as distressed, as she looked at Heather, as the infant was sounding.

"You guys ok with Seven?" Elizabeth asked her two.

"Yes," the two chorused quickly.

B'Elanna couldn't blame them; Heather had a good set of lungs on her, and was obviously very unhappy about something. Hopefully the infant was only hungry or needed her diaper changed; she had noticed that Heather was a quiet child most of the time except in those two cases.

Unhesitatingly, the two girls scrambled back to Seven. Ruth was marginally quicker than her sister, and managed to claim what was obviously a favored spot on the blonde's lap. Mary, who had intended to reclaim her prior spot, stared at her younger sister who was resting her head on Seven's chest and looking at her rather smugly, and begin to pout. Seven held out her hand and Mary took it, allowing Seven to pull her down to sit beside the blonde with Seven's arm wrapped around her.

"I'll be back as soon as I can," Elizabeth commented as Lisa and Karen left with Heather and Evelyn. After receiving nods of acknowledgement from them, the squad leader rose and began making her way around to the couples that remained in the room.

B'Elanna sat down and watched Seven interact with the two young girls. She hadn't realized that the blonde had gotten to be so adept at taking care of children, nor had she known how close Seven had become to these two. Oh, some of her fellow unit members had mentioned that their partners were surprised at how Seven was proving to be such a natural with children, but she hadn't really had the opportunity to really observe the blonde interacting with any of the older children before. Watching the three of them it was obvious that the two girls were comfortable with Seven, and that the blonde was at equally at ease with them.

When Elizabeth came back with Maria about twenty or so minutes later the community room was almost empty. Both Mary and Ruth paused to hug Seven goodbye, before running to Maria.

"Carmen is in labor, the child will be a bit premature, but at seven months she should be just fine." Maria informed them. "Nancy and Terrie expect it to be a fairly quick birth, maybe only four to five hours."

B'Elanna stood up and offered a helping hand to Seven who had been seated on the floor for quite some time. Seven's eyes had widened at Maria's words, "Four to five hours is considered a rapid birth? What is the standard time frame for the process?"

"Well, Mary took six hours, not long for a first child, and Ruth took five. Once they are born and placed in your arms for the first time, you'll know it was all worth it." Maria smiled.

Seven looked at Mary and Ruth for a moment and nodded, accepting the statement.

A commotion at the door drew their attention. Linda Smith, from rifle squad one, and Patricia O'Mally entered the common room. Their three year old Brigid, looking very scared and confused, trailed behind them crying. Patricia was also seven months pregnant, and B'Elanna remembered someone saying something about Patricia and Carmen having been impregnated on the same day, like Seven and Janice. The red-headed woman was clutching her protruding stomach with one hand, and hanging on tightly to Linda with the other.

"Madre Dios!, what has happened," asked Maria hurrying over to them.

"I let my temper get the better of me," commented Patricia, looking extremely worried.

"She got mad and said something to the unit in our quarters," Linda explained tersely. "She fell, and afterward she realized she was having contractions."

"Ok, let's get her to the delivery room, Nancy and Terrie are there with Carmen." Maria took Patricia's other arm. Looking over her shoulder at the couple's daughter she asked softly, "Brigid, would you like to stay with Mary and Ruth?"

"Honey, stay with Elizabeth, Mary and Ruth for a bit, while I take Mother to see Nancy ok?" Linda instructed her daughter in a reassuring tone.

Elizabeth knelt and held out a hand toward the frightened girl, who came over silently to her. The girl watched as her mothers and Maria entered the doors leading to the delivery room.

B'Elanna had watched all this silently, feeling particularly helpless and guilty, even though she was certain they had done all they could today, there had just been too many of them, and retreat hadn't been an option.

"The bad thing hurt Mommy," Brigid whispered.

B'Elanna could see Elizabeth's jaw tighten for a moment, it wasn't as if she could actually agree with the child, or at least she couldn't verbalize her agreement. "Your mother will be alright, Nancy and Terrie will take care of her." she said instead.

Thank goodness the children weren't held accountable for their actions yet, no one was certain at what age they would be, just that none of the children were right now. Glancing over at Seven, she realized with a jolt how upset her lover was, it wasn't that obvious, but she could tell from the way the blonde was standing, the tenseness in her body and the severe look on her face.

"Seven?" she whispered in the blonde's ear, concerned.

Seven turned her head and looked at her, and now B'Elanna could see the anger in her blue eyes. Seven stared at her for a moment, and the half-Klingon wondered, with a sinking feeling in her chest, if the blonde was angry with her. But then the former Borg's countenance softened, and she wrapped her arms around B'Elanna and buried her face against her chest.

"You two go take a warm bath together or something, I've got this," Elizabeth said to them understandingly.

"You sure?" questioned B'Elanna not wanting to leave the other woman alone with three children to reassure.

Elizabeth nodded, "Don't make me order you," she grinned.

"Thanks," B'Elanna replied gratefully, she was beginning to think that the stresses of the day were overwhelming Seven's control. She suspected that the blonde had held in her own distress for most of the day, first because of Mary and Carol, then because Mary and Ruth had needed her reassurance. Now the half-Klingon suspected it was all catching up, she knew she was exhausted, after fighting for several hours, and then the emotional horror of the afternoon. She suspected Seven wasn't feeling much better.

They walked slowly back to their quarters, arm in arm, each unwilling to be without the other's support. Seven slowed as they walked by the robot unit in their quarters, and B'Elanna noted with alarm the increased tension in her body, and the way the blonde was staring fixedly at the carpet. Suddenly fearful that Seven was going to lash out, she stepped quickly between the blonde and the machine.

"Don't please," she pleaded with her, dreading the thought of Seven being punished.

Seven stared at her, her face taunt and set, finally the blonde looked away abruptly and nodded.

B'Elanna sighed, relieved, and led the silent woman to the bath room. Breathing easier now that they were away from the provocation of the robot, she began filling the tub. Seven was standing where the half-Klingon had released her, staring at the wall, her face betraying the distress she was feeling.

"I'm sorry, we tried… they cooperated and came against us first…" B'Elanna trailed off, feeling horrible, remembering once again the moment she had walked into the community room, the screaming and crying of the children. She stared down at the floor, within moments Seven's hands were on her face lifting it gently.

"You would not do anything less than all you could, B'Elanna," Seven reassured her before pulling her head down for a long kiss.

When their lips parted, B'Elanna stared down at Seven, thinking how beautiful she was, and of her thoughts before the fighting had started. "I love you," she said in a low, intent voice.

Seven's blue eyes widened, met the half-Klingon's brown ones steadfastly, "I believe that I love you as well, B'Elanna."

Part 27

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