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 2: Into Captivity


Chapter 3


Stardate 52179.4 (March 5, 2375 10:45 am)

"Damn it Seven will you just listen to me for once!" B'Elanna yelled agitatedly as she tried to snatch the geological tricorder from the Borg.

The two of them were standing at the bottom of an almost sheer cliff face, and had been tasked with locating the titanium deposits that Voyager's sensors had indicated were present upon this L class moon's surface, while Voyager orbited the nearby planet and Tuvok lead the search for dilithium.

"I can hardly fail to hear you Lieutenant," was the dry reply.

"Listen Borg, I don't need your superior attitude today. I just want to get this done so we can get out of here, and I can get away from you, as much as you want to get away from me, ok?" growled the half-Klingon who was unsuccessfully trying to tug the tricorder from Seven's grip.

"Agreed," Seven replied, abruptly letting go of the piece of equipment.

B'Elanna stumbled backward, unprepared for the sudden capitulation. Regaining her balance she glared at the blond trying to figure out whether or not the other woman had meant to embarrass her. Sighting what she was certain was satisfaction in the blue eyes she was about to erupt in fury when Seven suddenly straightened.

"Lieutenant I hear something," the blond stated, her head cocked to the side.

They both froze for a second as humanoid shaped figures appeared on the hillside above them. Squinting upward they reflexively reached for their phasers upon noting that weapons were pointed at them. Neither of them, though, saw who stunned them into unconsciousness, for they had not realized there were yet more figures behind them.

Covered entirely from foot to head in coal black armor, the humanoid figures approached the two unconscious Voyager members, spread among them were strange insect-like metal robots vaguely reminiscent of Earth's preying mantis. Oddly, each of the humanoids was the exact same height and build, as the others, or at least appeared so in their armor.

"Check them and make sure they are uninjured, then transport them aboard." ordered one of the figures in an unmistakable feminine alto. Silently two of the figures knelt beside each of the prone women and began carrying out the instruction.

The one examining Seven made a surprised sound and exclaimed, "This one's part cybernetic."

One of the robots turned toward the figure and a rectangular area upon its front, previously unnoticeable as it was the same silver color as its body began to glow yellow.

"Kristen, silence!" ordered the first figure, with unmistakable overtones of both command and urgency in the tone.

The figure looked toward her and then followed her gaze to the robot. Seeing it she hunched her shoulders slightly as if anticipating a blow and quickly turned back to her task, but silent now.

As soon as the two captives disappeared, the figure, apparently the leader of the group, reached up and pulled off her helmet, revealing an elegantly beautiful countenance, russet hair and steel grey eyes. Her face revealed a deep frown and she sighed heavily.

The figure next to her also removed their helm, revealing yet another woman. This one was blonde with blue eyes. "They will survive, we did." she said in a low voice.

"Yes," the russet-haired woman answered shortly and glanced about quickly. "But it was, and still can be hell, and we just condemned those two to sharing it." she finished in an almost inaudible whisper. With that she abruptly replaced the helmet of her armor suit and in a loud voice ordered, "Clean up everything, and get rid of their shuttle. Our orders are for there to be no trace of them left anywhere."


Chapter 4


Stardate 52192.8 (March 12, 2375 9:00 am)

The white lights above her stabbing painfully into her eyes were what goaded B'Elanna into sluggishly awakening. Groaning she immediately shaded her eyes with a hand and looked around. The room she was in was maybe eight by eight feet square, with unpainted metallic walls. Tentatively she sat up, noting that the thin mattress and metal shelf she had been laying on, and what looked like a lavatory in the corner, were the only objects in the otherwise barren room.

"Stupid Borg, bit late on the warning," she groused uneasily wondering where the blonde was being held and if she was uninjured, "So much for superior hearing."

She would have continued this monologue as she pondered whether or not the stun she had received could have damaged Seven's Borg components if not for movement drawing her attention. She tensed prepared to take any opportunity to escape what was obviously a cell, a section of the far wall, which had up until now had not appeared to have an opening, recessed and then moved upward. Through the opening came what B'Elanna at first thought was some insect looking alien, but upon a closer inspection she thought it was more likely it was some type of robot.

"B'Elanna Torres," it spoke in a completely unemotional and flat tone. "Your orientation will begin now. You have been selected to be the 150th member of the human female combat unit. These are the rules you will follow."

B'Elanna interrupted this speech with a short bark of astonished laughter, "You kidding right?"

"You will display no hostility toward the instruction and monitoring units such as this unit and all other mechanical units used to oversee your training. You will display no hostility toward the other members of your combat unit, their hostages or your hostage. You will not attempt to escape, or discuss attempts to escape. You will not resist or protest any action or instruction given to you. You will attempt all tasks and procedures assigned to you to the limits of your abilities." It continued ignoring her comment. "A warning of a rule violation will be indicated for a period of five seconds with the activation of the warning panel on the front of the unit." A large square area on the unit lit and glowed yellow as it said this. "The warning panel will change from yellow to red if this warning is ignored and a rule violation will be recorded."

Fists on hips, she stood in a cocky stance attempting to show that she was not intimidated by any of this. "Really," she caustically remarked after it appeared the robot was finished. "And exactly how do you think you will make me follow any of them?" she readied herself for the expected threats.

"Any violation of these rules will result in a corrective action upon your hostage." the machine finished.

B'Elanna paused, "Hostage?" she asked with a sinking sensation that dried her mouth and a hit of uncertainty colored her tone.

"Your hostage has been implanted with nerve inducers which are activated remotely. Activation of the implants will occur in fifteen second increments. Excessive application may result in neural damage to your hostage. If at any time your hostage becomes permanently damaged both of you will be terminated." It recited, apparently in response to her question though B'Elanna was not certain.

Before she could gather her thoughts it spoke again, "For the completeness of your understanding you will now be subjected to a typical activation."

Before she had completely registered the words, all thought ceased, as she was bombarded with the most intense pain she had ever experienced in her life. Sensations of blistering heat searing her flesh, cold freezing her entire body into one unmoving mass, severe physical injury such that she thought she was being cut all over, all piled in upon each other, and all at the same time. Then suddenly, after what seemed an eternity it ended, leaving her gasping, and curled in a fetal position on the cold floor. Breathing in though her mouth, she tried instinctively to prevent herself from vomiting in reaction to the nausea the pain had caused.

"Your nerves were just stimulated by a bioelectric field. That was the only time you will experience what your hostage will experience during a corrective action. All the rules are now active." The robot intoned in its flat voice.

B'Elanna did not really hear it, she was still reacting to the pain she had just experienced, and her first reaction was pure unadulterated fear that the pain could happen again. Then she grew angry, it was both an instinctual and learned reaction, lashing out drove the fear away. It showed what or who ever was hurting her that she was not helpless that she would defend herself, that hurting her would result in a swift painful retaliation. Retaliation had almost always protected her from further injury.

With a snarl that might have included an insult, though if it did, it was not pronounced clearly enough to tell, she levered herself off the floor and attacked.

She lashed out with her fists and tried to shove the robot off its legs. It did not move, it did not even attempt to defend itself. The panel on its front glowed yellow, but B'Elanna could not see it, nor did she see it change to red before going inactive.

"A fifteen second corrective action will be taken upon your hostage." It said as its only response.

The voice did not penetrate the fog of rage B'Elanna was experiencing except as noise.

"A second fifteen second corrective action will be taken upon your hostage." It said after a few more moments of fruitless attack.

Finally the voice penetrated, and B'Elanna paused. "What?" she said confused, only now realizing how much her hands hurt from trying to damage the device.

The hot rage which had invigorated her quickly faded, replaced by a cold, sickening sensation in her stomach. "What?" she asked again, hoping that she had heard incorrectly.

"Two fifteen second corrective applications will be taken upon your hostage as a result of your hostile action against this instructor unit." It answered her.

"You can't…" the panel glowed yellow but B'Elanna did not register the meaning of it before, "do that!" flew out of her mouth and it switched to red. Belatedly she recalled that the colors indicated a rule violation and realized that she had broken another one.

"A third fifteen second corrective action will be taken upon your hostage as a result of your protest."

B'Elanna finally managed to snap her mouth shut before she said anything else and stared at the metallic insect in growing horror. Forty-five seconds of that, someone was going to be subjected to forty-five seconds of what she had just experienced because of her temper. Her mind immediately protested, she was not the one who was going to hurt someone, the machines were the ones doing it. But her gut and emotions did not waver, someone, and she had a strong suspicion who, was going to suffer because she couldn't control her anger. After all, it was an easy guess, there had been only one other person with her when she got captured.

'She'll never believe that I didn't do it on purpose', B'Elanna though, resentment against the former Borg rising as a defense against the acute guilt she was feeling. It was weak and hollow though, and quickly faded away.

The entirety of the right wall of her cell suddenly lifting upward startled her and she jumped slightly before realizing what was happening. B'Elanna closed her eyes for a few moments after she realized who was standing in the other cell, and wished with everything she was that everything would go away and she would be aboard Voyager. 'This can't be happening,' she said to herself silently.

When she opened her eyes Seven's blue ones met her own, puzzlement in their depths. B'Elanna found herself unable to meet them, knowing what was about to happen to her crewmate and instead stared at the ground.

"Lt. Torres are you injured?" asked the blonde, her normal cool patrician tone overlaid with a hint of concern.

"Seven of Nine," spoke the robot, interrupting Seven. "You are B'Elanna Torre's hostage. You have been implanted with nerve inductors that will be activated in fifteen second intervals as a corrective action when either of you commits a rule infraction. The rules you will follow are…" it repeated almost verbatim the same rules as it had given B'Elanna with the change that Seven could not show any hostility towards B'Elanna.

Hearing the rules, they didn't make sense to B'Elanna. If she did something wrong, Seven would be the one hurt, and if Seven did something wrong…Seven would still be the one that would get hurt. Why wouldn't they punish her instead if Seven did something wrong.

"For instructional purposes your nerve inducers will be activated for the typical correctional period now." The robot said in a completely flat emotionless tone.

Seven immediately dropped like someone had stunned her. B'Elanna let out a protesting noise then slapped a quick hand over her mouth and jerked her head about to stare in fear at the robot. Thankfully it did not react and B'Elanna exhaled in relief. A whimper of pain drew her attention back to Seven, and her gut clenched in sympathy, as she watched the woman curl up against the agony she was experiencing.

'It's got to be fifteen seconds,' she thought frantically, even as she tried not to think of the additional time periods her actions had added. A whimper and then an unmistakable sound let her know that not only was it over, but that Seven had proven less effective than she in suppressing the nausea that followed.

B'Elanna didn't really want to see, she always found it unsettling when Seven was less than the Ice Queen, Miss Perfection, Miss Borg Princess. It poked little pricks in B'Elanna's surety that Seven would never be able to become human, and that she would betray them once again just like she had twice before.

Chakotay, until he had to do what the Captain ordered, had been very vocal about why Seven shouldn't be permitted to join the crew. The two attempts to get them assimilated by the Borg along with Seven's lack of remorse over her past had made up B'Elanna's mind about Seven during the first few weeks of the drone being aboard Voyager.

The others had since made all sorts of excuses for the Borg's behavior, but she would not, and she would not change her mind about the drone. But times like these when she saw Seven, weak, hurting… human, always brought up questions and doubts about her early decision. And reminded her that not only Seven could be just as vulnerable as anyone else, but that she was also a fellow crewmember and perhaps deserved better treatment than B'Elanna had ever shown her.

"Three rule violations were incurred; the first corrective action will now take place."

B'Elanna who had finally looked over noted somewhere through the emotions and thoughts that were sweeping through her that Seven had jerked in reaction to the words just before the pain hit and her body contracted in response. "I'm sorry," B'Elanna found herself whispering. She knew it was a completely inadequate response to what the woman was experiencing, but it was the only thing she could do.

B'Elanna found her legs carrying her over to the Borg, who was curled up on the floor. Kneeling beside the woman but not touching her B'Elanna hesitated uncertainly, not sure if she could do anything to help. The only indication B'Elanna had that Seven's punishment was over was when she weakly groaned and started vomiting again.

"The second corrective action will now take place."

B'Elanna barely managed to bite back a protest as Seven's body stiffened again. She felt miserable, sick, and as close to tears as she could recall feeling since she left the Academy. This time there was no indication it had ended before the robot announced the third corrective action and B'Elanna frantically felt for a pulse afraid that she had just caused the other woman's death. Finally, over her own panicky rhythm, she felt it, it was not as strong as it should be, but thankfully it was still there.

"You will now be shown to your living quarters." The robot turned and proceeded out the opening that it had entered from, leaving B'Elanna staring after it. "Seven," she asked questioningly and tentatively shook the shoulder of the blonde. "Seven, you have to get up," she said more forcefully hoping to get a response.

Biting back a heartfelt 'damn it,' just in case the robot took it as hostility toward itself or Seven, B'Elanna turned Seven onto her back and grasping her under the arms began awkwardly pulling her along after the robot. She would be damned if she would let Seven be punished again. The Borg might get herself punished, but she would not be the cause of any more, B'Elanna swore to herself as she dragged the woman up the hallway trying to catch up with the robot.

Thankfully the living quarters it mentioned were not very far away from the where they had been held. As B'Elanna pulled Seven through the door to what was apparently to be their new prison, she looked around curiously. Stopping only after pulling Seven several feet into the room she lowered her to the floor.

The room she had entered had cream colored walls and royal blue carpet, looking about she spotted a couch with a low table in front of it. One corner of the room was sectioned off by low cabinets, and she thought it was probably a food preparation area. There were two open doors, through one of them she could see a bed, through the other a toilet and what appeared to be a bathtub.

'Nice, but still a prison,' B'Elanna thought coldly. Looking around again she started to notice the things what were missing. There was no replicator unit that she could see, nor a communication device or a console. Glancing at the area she had identified as a kitchen earlier she realized with dismay that they would apparently have to prepare their own food.

A low groan from the woman on the floor next to her drew B'Elanna's attention back to her fellow prisoner. Glancing down at Seven, she grimaced, noticing with distaste that the Borg had dragged her head through her own vomit and it was now smeared across one side of the woman's face and in her blonde hair. 'Which she wouldn't have if it weren't for your temper,' her internal voice noted. B'Elanna's shoulders twitched upon this unwelcome reminder and she looked away from the prone woman.

Movement drew her attention and she glanced over and watched in concern as Seven curled up into a tight ball on the carpet but did not make any other sound. Just before B'Elanna decided to ask if the blonde was alright, Seven brought her fully human hand to her face and began to wipe her cheeks. 'She's probably trying to wipe off the vomit,' thought B'Elanna trying to ignore the idea that the other woman was crying, which only made her feel guiltier.

"I would appreciate it if you would make the effort to," Seven started speaking in a voice that was shaky, but still held plenty of cold arrogance and more than a hint of anger.

"Seven!" B'Elanna interrupted in concern as she noted the robot react.

"Control your temper." finished Seven.

B'Elanna did not bother to reply as she stared at the ominous red panel. Dully she noted that one, the Borg had just done the very thing she was complaining to her about, and two, the robot interpreted hostility pretty liberally. Apparently any statement that sounded the least bit hostile or argumentative was an infraction of its damned rules.

"Rule violation incurred, corrective action will now take place."

Seven's head whipped around toward the robot and B'Elanna could not possibly interpret the expression there as anything but stark fear. Then Seven stiffened and slumped to the floor, her torso twisted about awkwardly. Lurching forward, B'Elanna finally moved and knelt beside the blonde. When Seven began dry heaving afterward, she helped her roll over and tentatively placed a hand on the Borg's back, uncertain of whether or not the ex-drone would understand, or even want her sympathy.

When the heaves subsided, Seven remained where she was, on her stomach, her elbows supporting her upper body, and head hung down towards the floor. She was breathing in shallow gasps and when B'Elanna leaned over to see if she was alright the brunette stopped mid-motion as she saw one, and then another tear trace paths down the blonds cheeks and drip to the floor.

'Not so perfect now,' B'Elanna noted, almost dispassionately, as she took in the straggles of hair that had escaped from the blonde's usually neatly secured hair. As she watched the drops fall onto the carpet and slowly absorb into it B'Elanna realized that she hadn't been so unsettled by Seven since the vinculum incident had caused all the stored personalities in Seven's cortical node to become active and overwhelm Seven's personality. Seven's screams in the background of the Captain's communicator as she struggled to shut down the device that was the source of the woman's pain had been disturbing, interfering with the concentration she needed to accomplish the difficult task.

"You and your hostage will now bathe and cleanse yourselves."

The robot's mechanical drone jerked B'Elanna's attention away from where she had been almost mesmerized by the sight of the ex-drone's tears, and the unwelcome emotions of guilt and sympathy, they brought up inside her. B'Elanna arose and began to move toward what looked like the bathroom, after a few paces she realized that Seven hadn't moved yet.

Looking back uncertainly she paused, "Seven?" she asked uncertainly. Glancing over at the robot anxiously she added, "You need to get up, Seven." After another second she saw Seven take in a deep breath and then finally get up off the floor and stand upright. B'Elanna glanced briefly at the Borg, then back again curiously as she noticed that Seven's eyes had not met hers. Staring directly now, she waited for a moment, but Seven kept her head averted and stared at the floor.

B'Elanna frowned slightly, wondering what was wrong, but was more worried that the robot would decide that they were disobeying it if they didn't start moving towards where it had ordered them to go. She entered the bath room and looked around curiously, the single tub was triangular in shape and filled one corner of the room, there was a single sink and a single toilet all colored white. The tiled floor was blue, the same color as the rug in the main room.

Walking over to the tub she discerned from the metal faucet where water should fill it and began turning the knobs on the faucet and testing the resulting water flow with her hand. Finally satisfied with the temperature she straightened and glanced over at Seven who had entered behind her. Seven was staring at the rapidly filling tub, the expression on her face would have seemed more in place had it been filling with highly corrosive acid, rather than the harmless water that was filling it.

"Seven?" B'Elanna asked puzzled.

"There is no sonic shower." Seven answered after a moment.

"No," B'Elanna replied slowly, trying to figure out what was wrong with the Borg. Seven did not say any more, just continued staring at the filling tub. In a few seconds realization struck and B'Elanna stated, "You haven't taken anything but a sonic shower have you?"

"No, Lieutenant, I have not." Answered Seven, sounding reluctant, her voice lower, and softer than normal. "It is inefficient to waste the ships energy on water when the sonic setting is superior." Seven's voice gradually returned to its usual tone by the end of the statement.

B'Elanna gritted her teeth fighting against the instinctive irritation she always felt at hearing the smug tones. "It's just different Seven, just as good at getting you clean. Most people find that they actually like it better when they have the choice." Since she was staring at Seven when she said this, B'Elanna noticed the Borg's eyes widen for a moment before the blonde dropped her gaze to the floor and turned her face partially away.

"Yes, Lieutenant." Again Seven spoke in a lower, softer voice.

B'Elanna frowned wondering what was going on in that blonde head. Noting the water level in the tub, B'Elanna reached over and turned off the water flow. Trying to ignore the presence of the other woman she began stripping. In a few moments, out of the corner of her eye, she couldn't help but notice that Seven had finally moved and was taking off her biosuit.

Stepping into the tub, B'Elanna allowed herself to luxuriate in the simple feel of the warm water surrounding her. As Seven had noted, it just wasn't power efficient to replicate water for bathing on Voyager, and they hadn't had that luxury in the Marquis either. Thus it had been too many years since she had last done this.

Finally a slim ankle and calf appeared in her peripheral vision as Seven entered the tub. Giving into curiosity B'Elanna allowed herself a quick glance at the other woman. Her attention was immediately caught by the two inch round metallic looking implant prominent on Seven's thigh. 'Armor attachment,' her mind supplied immediately. She was familiar enough with Seven's physiology to know that the Borg had a similar implant on her opposite shoulder and that what she was looking at was the remains of where Seven's body armor had been attached. Though the Doctor had removed most of Seven's implants, these remained as they were an integral part of the skeletal reinforcements that had been made to Seven. She remembered the Doctor saying that he could cut them off near the bone, but they would simply regenerate themselves, so he had left them.

B'Elanna had thought that it would be more unsightly than it was, not that it was beautiful to look at, but it wasn't as scarred or ugly looking as she had thought it would be. Looking away before she could note more than the fact that the Doctor had regenerated the hair down there, as well as the hair on the blonde's head and not left her bare, B'Elanna glanced around for something to begin washing with.

Two white ovals of some substance and washcloths were stacked on the edge of the tub. Grabbing one of the objects she sniffed and confirmed that it was some type of soap. Lathering up her chosen cloth quickly, she began washing only to finally notice that Seven was watching her openly and intently. B'Elanna stopped and debated what she could say without provoking a response from the robot, but before she could decide Seven took the remaining cloth and soap and began lathering them up.

Drawing in a calming breath, B'Elanna continued washing. After a few moments she couldn't help but notice Seven was still glancing occasionally at her, and B'Elanna felt her temper begin to heat up. How could the Borg not know that she wasn't supposed to stare! B'Elanna had of course stopped washing, and as she finally looked directly at Seven she noted that the Borg had stopped as well, and was holding her wash cloth in the same way she was.

'She's mimicking me,' B'Elanna finally realized. Then, 'How can you not figure out how to do something as simple as bathing?' B'Elanna shifted her gaze and stared at the wall for a few seconds, calming her temper. "Seven you just keep using the wash cloth like you have been; just continue until you've washed everything." B'Elanna hesitated, taking a calming breath she continued in a level voice, "It's considered rude to watch someone when their bathing."

B'Elanna breathed out a small sigh of relief when Seven immediately turned her head away.

"I apologize, Lieutenant." Seven sounded rather subdued.

B'Elanna was surprised, it was the first time she could recall Seven ever apologizing. "Uh yea," she finally replied. Returning her attention to her cleaning, she finally asked, "Didn't your mother ever bathe you when you were a kid?"

After a few moments only punctuated by the sounds of their cleaning Seven replied, "I do not recall Lieutenant. The Raven was only equipped with sonic showers, I do not remember much of my childhood while on Tendara Colony."

B'Elanna continued washing for a few moments before asking, "How old were you when you left?"

Seven glanced at her for a moment before answering, "I do not remember precisely, Lieutenant. Three or four years old."

B'Elanna stood up to continue washing and was not at all surprised when Seven did the same shortly afterward. When she finished she sat back down and wet her hair and began washing it, not wanting to have to explain the process to the Borg. When Seven finished mimicking her, B'Elanna looked over at the ex-drone verifying that Seven had cleaned all the vomit from her face and hair.

Satisfied with what she saw she stood up, stepped out of the tub and grabbed a towel, wrapped it around herself and took a second one from the stack to dry her hair. Stepping out of the way she glanced out of the corner of her eye as Seven struggled with her own towel. B'Elanna sighed, exasperated that she was the one having to teach the Borg something so simple, after a few seconds, "Like this Seven." She waited until the other woman looked over and rewrapped her towel, making her actions obvious.

Hiding her head under the towel as she dried her hair she scowled. Seven had caught the expression on her face as she demonstrated, B'Elanna could tell by the way she had stiffened and looked away and flushed slightly. B'Elanna didn't want the twinge of guilt she had experienced when she realized that she had caused Seven to feel embarrassed about not knowing how to do something so simple as how to wrap a towel about yourself.

'Where the hell is Miss Unemotional?' she fumed. Helpfully her inner voice noted, 'probably feeling somewhat stressed over being subjected to five of those sessions, and having the person who despises her the most able to subject her to them anytime she wants.' Suddenly the lowered voice and refusal to meet B'Elanna's eyes made sense.

Curious, she lowered the towel and glared aggressively at Seven. It was only after Seven paled alarmingly and stood absolutely still with her hands by her side and actually started trembling that B'Elanna thought beyond her curiosity. Suddenly feeling small and very mean, she turned away from Seven. 'Why the hell did I do that?' she asked herself. She had always thought of herself as a fairly nice person, despite her temper. Yet what she had just done was hardly nice, and went right into being downright cruel, considering the situation.

Glancing back over at Seven, B'Elanna noted that the woman had yet to move. And the look on her face was one of….hopelessness, B'Elanna decided finally with a sick feeling in her stomach. "I'm sorry Seven, I shouldn't have done that." B'Elanna offered tentatively.

Seven finally looked at her, uncertainty written across her face. "Lieutenant?" she finally questioned.

B'Elanna did not particularly want to explain further, but she did. "Glaring at you, I shouldn't have done that." Before the Borg could reply, she turned and left the room, heading back into the main area. She needed to get away from the other woman, from looking into Seven's confused, frightened eyes, from the guilt that she felt over what she had just done, and how she had just acted like the bullies she despised when she was a child.

Clothes, she needed to put on some clothes, hopefully there would be something she could find to wear besides her uniform. Entering the second room off the main area she stopped and stared at the one piece of furniture that filled it, namely the one bed.


Chapter 5


Stardate 52196.55 (March 13, 2375 5:47 pm)

Trying to ignore the stinging pain in her hands, what felt like a pulled muscle in her shoulder, and several other aches and pains, B'Elanna reluctantly followed the robot down the hallway toward the room where Seven waited. It was not the original robot, that one had stayed with Seven, but a second one which was apparently in charge of her training. The light panel on it had gone to red not just once, but twice during the day.

'I tried my hardest, if only I hadn't slipped,' B'Elanna thought dejectedly as she remembered the hours of physical exercise the robot had put her through. It had been on the obstacle course where both corrective actions had been incurred, once when she slipped when trying to crawl over a wooden wall, once when she fell from a rope swing.

"Lt. Torres!" Seven's surprised exclamation caused B'Elanna's eyes to shoot up from the carpet where she had them firmly glued upon entering.

B'Elanna looked toward the sound, and was surprised to see Seven standing in the food preparation area, and apparently cooking. "What?" she started to ask, puzzled, then realized what had surprised the blonde. She was currently wearing quite a bit of the obstacle course in the form of the mud that coated her from head to toe.

"Cooking time has completed, utilize the protective hand covers to remove the cooking dish from the heating unit and place it upon the unit's surface. Once this is completed power off the heating unit. In approximately 20 minutes the meal will be cool enough to consume." The robot standing in the room intoned.

As Seven followed its instructions B'Elanna watched surprised, then as the aroma reached her, she sniffed appreciatively. Whatever Seven had been cooking, it certainly smelled better than many of Neelix's creations and B'Elanna was rapidly becoming aware of how hungry she was after her exertions. There had been a pause at midday for some type of ration bar, but that small meal certainly hadn't been enough for the entire day.

"You will now tend to your injuries and bathe before consuming the food item. You have until 2200 hours, at which time you will rest upon your sleeping surface."

The robot quieted after this pronouncement and B'Elanna looked at it in surprise; the night before they had been directed where, and what to do, during the entire evening. Apparently tonight they were being given a relative amount of freedom.

"You are injured Lt. Torres?" Seven inquired as she came toward B'Elanna.

B'Elanna did and didn't want to show the blonde her injuries. Part of her felt they were insignificant compared to what the Borg had experienced because of her, part of her wanted to show Seven them as proof that she had tried, tried the best she could. Finally she opened her hands and held them up for Seven's inspection.

Seven's touch surprised her, she had expected the Borg to take firm hold of her hands and twist them the way she wanted, but the touch was light and gentle. With a slight shiver B'Elanna realized that Seven was primarily using her optical implant to examine her hands. B'Elanna wasn't certain what Seven was seeing, but was certain that the Borg was able to see a lot more than she could.

"There are thin wooden objects imbedded in your palm, and various organic substances are present in the wounds." Seven announced. Meeting B'Elanna's gaze she continued, "They will need to be removed and the wounds cleaned or they will become infected."

"Splinters, their called splinters, and yes I know. I'll go see if I can't find something in the bathing room to get them out." B'Elanna mumbled.

Seven nodded, let go of her hands, and stepped back. Shaking her head slightly in bemusement over Seven's actions B'Elanna stepped into the bathing room and started rummaging around for something with which to dig out the splinters. Finally finding a forceps looking instrument and a pin she washed her hands and started attempting to pull out the bits of wood.

"Lieutenant," Sevens voice from the doorway startled her and B'Elanna jumped slightly before looking over. Seven looked hesitant but resolute and B'Elanna wondered what the Borg could want. "I believe I would be able to remove the 'splinters' with less continuing damage to yourself than you would be able to by attempting to do the task yourself."

B'Elanna stared at her uncertainly, frowning slightly she asked, "How's that?"

"I would be able to use both hands, and you are damaging the hand holding the forceps by pushing the splinters in it deeper as you are gripping the instrument to remove them from your other hand." The Borg stated in a steady voice, but B'Elanna could see by the stiff way she stood and her clenched hands that Seven was not quite as calm as she appeared.

Silently B'Elanna handed the instruments over and held out her hands, acknowledging that the blonde had made some good points. She smirked at the Borg's surprised look, apparently Seven had not expected her to capitulate so easily.

"I will attempt to remove them with as little discomfort to you as possible," Seven assured her seriously and lowered her head to study the smaller woman's hands.

"I know," B'Elanna replied immediately, and without thinking.

Seven's head jerked up and her blue eyes searched the half-Klingon's brown ones. B'Elanna was surprised at herself, but acknowledged silently that she did know Seven would try not to hurt her, it just wasn't in the blonde's nature. Arrogant, superior, cold, aloof… Seven might step over all of her ego, but the blonde had never ever tried to physically harm her. Well, never if B'Elanna didn't count the one day that the Borg while still a drone had complemented her on her engineering knowledge then offered to assimilate her so she would be less emotional and more efficient.

B'Elanna was amazed to see a slight flush of color in the Borg's cheeks before Seven bent her attention back to the task in front of her. The blonde woman was as good as her word and in fifteen minutes or so she had pulled all the slivers of wood out of B'Elanna's hands with much less pain than the half-Klingon had thought possible.

"Thanks," B'Elanna said softly when the Borg was done. Feeling unsettled by the blonde's deft, gentle touch, B'Elanna turned and started stripping off her muddy clothing, reminding herself as she did so, of all the times the Borg had shown herself to be cold and unemotional, and not the quiet, gentle caring woman she had just seen.

Turning back around to start the water flowing into the tub, she stopped in shock as Seven stripped off the blue colored loose tunic and drawstring pants she had been wearing since going to bed the night before. Seven's skin was intensely reddened in a large welted area across the top of the shoulder and down the back.

"What happened to you?" she asked.

Seven stopped with her back toward B'Elanna, still facing away from the half-Klingon she answered, "I was heating water for the pasta noodles in the meal I was preparing and tipped the water onto myself when the first correctional action was taken. My nanoprobes have healed most of the damage done Lieutenant. It should be fully healed in another few hours."

'Mostly healed…' B'Elanna thought staring at what she knew was probably still a very painful burn. "I did the best I could, I slipped, it was wet." She defended herself weakly.

Seven turned her head enough to meet B'Elanna's eyes. "I did not doubt that you where attempting to complete the tasks assigned you to the best of your ability, Lt. Torres."

Seeing nothing but sincerity in the blue-grey eyes, B'Elanna could only silently nod, but it did not make her feel any less guilty as her eyes drifted back to the painful looking burn that marred the blonde's pale skin.

Part 3

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