'Seven, what are you doing?' When she got no answer, B'Elanna sighed and started to crawl through the jefferies tube once again. 'Stupid Borg efficiency,' she mumbled. 'Probably too busy figuring out complex equations to tell me where she is.'
After a few more minutes crawling along, she emerged into a junction where she was surprised to find Seven crouched down, pouring intently over something in her hand.
'Seven?' She called.
The blonde jumped like B'Elanna had touched her with a live wire, and the engineer was surprised to see shock clearly expressed on the ex-drones face when she turned to face her. 'I have found this.' Seven said, carefully handing B'Elanna what appeared to be a medical tri-corder.
'What's this doing all the way up here?' B'Elanna asked. Seven merely shook her head; she did not know.
'You should examine the data stored there, Lieutenant,' Seven said, and B'Elanna noted with interest the disbelief that Seven was openly expressing.
'What's got into you, Seven?' She asked as she tapped in the commands to enable her to read the data stored on the errant tri-corder. 'Anyone would think you'd seen a '
She trailed off, her eyes widening as she watched the information stream past on the tri-corders little screen. Then, when her shock had abated, she threw back her head and laughed, a reaction that obviously took Seven by surprise.
'I do not see how this is funny, Lieutenant,' she admonished, frowning almost imperceptibly.
'Oh Seven, I'm not laughing at the contents, I'm laughing because this is obviously one of Tom's sick jokes gone wrong. He must have left this here to freak us out.' She chuckled as she spoke, shaking her head from side to side. 'Listen, here's what we'll do - we won't tell him we've figured him out, and we'll pretend to be really shaken while we think of something to trick him with!'
'It is not a joke, Lieutenant Torres,' Seven said, speaking quietly and keeping her eyes locked on B'Elanna's.
'What?' The half-Klingon said. 'Of course it is Seven! How could this possibly be true?' She tried to maintain her sense of levity, but the shear sense of certainty that Seven was projecting was starting to shake her resolve. Then, after a pause, she grinned again.
'Well done, Seven! You really had me there! Has the Doc been trying to get you to develop your sense of humour or something? 'Cause if this is your idea of a joke Well, just keep trying, okay?' She chuckled again, but Seven expression didn't flicker.
'Have you forgotten, B'Elanna, that my ocular implant can detect irregularities in space-time?'
B'Elanna shrugged. 'No, of course not, but what's that got to do with anything?'
'B'Elanna, look at the date on the data in the tri-corder's memory.'
Slowly, B'Elanna obeyed, scowling slightly as her eyes scanned the information. 'That's not possible.'
'It is.' Seven disagreed quietly. 'Temporal travel is not impossible: you know that is not.'
'I know,' B'Elanna gruffly acquiesced. 'But I don't believe this.' She waved the offending tri-corder around.
'Scan it,' Seven suggested softly.
B'Elanna scowled at her again and pulled out her own engineering tri-corder, snapping it open and waving it over their find slowly, and then with increasing urgency. 'That's not possible,' she maintained, scanning it again and again.
'Why do you constantly deny something which you know from experience to be entirely possible?' Seven questioned.
'Because, if you were any less certain, would you want to believe what this tri-corder is telling us?' B'Elanna countered, her voice holding the hint of a growl.
Seven paused, and then shook her head. 'No. I would not.'
Just for the hell of it, B'Elanna scanned the medical tri-corder once again, expecting and receiving exactly the same result as had obtained the first five times. 'Seven,' she murmured, looking at her tall blonde colleague, 'we have a problem.'
we have a problem.' B'Elanna placed the medical tri-corder down on Janeway's desk and looked sidelong at Seven before saying, 'Open it up.'
Captain Janeway balked at the commanding note her Chief Engineers voice held but did not say anything; to be spoken to like that must mean that this was important. She opened the tri-corder and accessed the data, and then she gasped.
'This isn't possible,' She said, looking at B'Elanna, then at Seven, then back again. Both her officers were wearing almost identical worried expressions, although Seven's was harder to detect.
'That's exactly what I said, and then I scanned it.' B'Elanna said as she lay her own tri-corder down on the desk, and the Captain perused its contents quickly. Then she sighed.
'I know you two are getting along better now, and don't get me wrong, I am happy for you both but if this is some sort of practical joke that you two have cooked up, I will most definitely not be amused.'
'It is not, Captain,' Seven said calmly. 'The tri-corder is saturated in chronoton particles that place it exactly one week hence in Voyagers present timeline.'
'Then this data is true?' The captain said, the sudden realization that it might be making her pale slightly.
'We think so, Captain. It's possible it was faked, but why would someone do that?'
The Captain dropped her eyes to the data once again, her mind slowly starting to swim with the enormity of what she was reading. 'Are you telling me ' she read the data again, in case her eyes were playing tricks on her. She found she could not finish the statement, her breath taken away by what she was once again reading.
'Yes, Captain,' Seven confirmed. 'We think that what the tri-corder is showing us has not been faked.'
'Basically,' B'Elanna continued, 'That tri-corder was used in several post mortem examinations.'
Janeway struggled to comprehend the scope of the situation, shaking her head from side to side as she felt a huge sense of responsibilty for her crew, 'You're saying that...in one week...all these people will be dead?'
Once the data in the medical tri-corder had been transferred to padds, the entire command staff was assembled and they all shifted through the extensive medical sensor readings. It soon became apparent that none of the people scanned had been alive at the time, and the readings reflected this, showing estimated time of death, cause of death and more. They soon realized that the readings on the tri-corder were not all from a week from now. The first reading - the first death - was unbelievably shown to already have happened; according to the data, the body had been scanned at fourteen hundred hours that afternoon, and the time of death had been estimated at oh six hundred that morning. It was already thirteen forty hours. They shook their heads and tried to contact the person in question, but got no answer. Finally, Janeway decreed that they would go to her quarters.
That was how they discovered the body.
They had rushed to Gabrielle Allyns' quarters, but had been too late. She was dead when they found her, the cause of death matching that shown on the data exactly - head trauma, caused by a blunt instrument, and definitely not accidental.
That had driven home the fact that the data could actually be true, and a pall settled over the senior staff as they contemplated that fact. It was possible that someone could have killed Gabrielle, faked the readings and left the tri-corder in the jefferies tube as a way to get attention, and Tom Paris was the staunchest supporter of this theory. Seven remained absolutely convinced, however, that the readings were true.
Although she could not show bias, Captain Janeway was secretly leaning towards Seven's theory - something in her gut was telling her that they were on the edge of something big, and they had to stop it /now/.
'Tuvok, send security teams to guard each of the other names on the list,' Captain Janeway said, her face pale and tight. 'I want round the clock security on each of those crewmembers.'
'Yes Captain,' Tuvok said. 'Shall I disclose the reason for the guards?'
Slowly, Kathryn shook her head. 'I don't want this getting out yet. Think of something, Tuvok, but don't tell them the truth - you know that on a starship, panic spreads very quickly. I want to be able to investigate this quietly, with a minimum of fuss. Hopefully, we'll get it all sorted out before anyone knows anything is wrong.'
'Won't that be difficult to achieve when you inform the crewmembers of Gabrielle Allyn's death?'
Janeway sighed and rubbed her eyes. 'I'm not going to tell them details, Tuvok, although I wish I could. I hate being dishonest with my crew.'
'I understand, Captain,' Tuvok said, and then he was gone.
Captain Janeway sighed again, feeling the loss of a crewmember keenly as she tried to hold her captains mask in place. She rose quickly, wiping the unshed tears from the corners of her eyes, and picked up the data once again, scanning the information she now knew by heart.
B'Elanna and Seven walked in silence, the half-Klingon a half step behind her taller companion as she had been ever since they had left the turbo-lift. She was alert and tense, her eyes scanning the faces of the crewmembers they passed as she watched them for any sudden movement.
She was still reeling from the vindication of the tri-corder data, and every time she closed her eyes she saw Allyn's body slumped over her desk, the back of her head a pulpy mush. She swallowed hard and her eyes settled on the back of Seven's head for a moment.
'Seven,' she began, 'aren't you scared?'
'No,' The ex-drone replied. 'Why should I be?'
They paused as Seven inputted the codes to open Cargo Bay two and they both went inside as B'Elanna said, 'Well, I you're the data '
'You're inquiring as to whether am I concerned about my apparent demise?'
'Well yes,' B'Elanna acknowledged, nodding slightly.
Seven turned to the half-Klingon, and B'Elanna was surprised to see a smirk playing at the edges of Seven's full lips. 'Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.' The ex-drone said.
B'Elanna stared at her for a long moment, and then started to laugh. 'You have been working on your sense of humour,' she said, smiling at the blonde.
'Indeed,' Seven said mildly as she watched the engineer laugh, her blue eyes crinkling with contained mirth. 'I am glad you find it palatable.'
B'Elanna finished laughing and nodded, 'I needed that,' she said finally. 'Thank you.'
'You are welcome. It was my pleasure,' Seven responded.
'Practicing your manners as well, Seven?' B'Elanna smiled. 'You're doing well. Keep it up and I might even enjoy your company one day,' she said it with a playful grin that let Seven know she was only joking, and the other woman responded in kind.
'Perhaps I will stop practicing then,' she said, affecting a solemn tone.
B'Elanna let out a snort of laughter and then the doors of Cargo Bay two swished open and a security detail appeared.
'Looks like your bodyguards are here, Seven,' B'Elanna said finally, her smile gone as she realized why they were there, which only served to remind her of the data once again. 'I'd better get going and leave you to your work. Bye Seven.'
'Goodbye, B'Elanna,' Seven called, watching as the dark haired woman left the Cargo Bay.
B'Elanna paced, punctuating each muttered curse with a footstep and marching up and down her quarters, scowling fiercely and occasionally glancing at the padd she held in her hand.
It was twenty two hundred hours, and she should have been asleep as she had an early shift in the morning, but somehow the information the padd held kept her from her bed, making her anxious and angry. She glanced down the list of names once again, determined to find out what was going on before the other twelve entries became a reality. Some of the names she knew very well, like the last one: Seven Of Nine. According to the tri-corder data, she died exactly one week and one hour from that very moment. Twenty three hundred hours, one week from today.
B'Elanna gritted her teeth and threw the padd into the wall in a fit of rage. Though she would have laughed at the idea a few months ago, Seven was now a close friend - they worked well together and enjoyed each others company, focusing on the similarities instead of the differences between them. They still had arguments, but they lacked the animosity that had dogged them before - now, their clashes were merely heated discussions, and they'd say so to anyone who asked.
B'Elanna even admitted to herself as she paced that she enjoyed working with Seven - the woman was smart, a quick worker, a brilliant thinker, and now she had quite a sense of humour too, something B'Elanna couldn't help but think she had helped to nurture, which was a thought that gave her a small burst of pride.
She stared at the broken remains of the padd and sighed; she knew she would not be able to sleep tonight. She picked up her jacket and left her quarters.
Soon she was ensconced behind a work-station in the laboratory, determined to prove without a shadow of a doubt that the tri-corder was not from the future, but an elaborate hoax that some sicko was trying to play on the hapless crew of Voyager. She was halfway through trying yet another test when the doors swooshed open and in marched Seven, her guards on her heels.
'Lieutenant,' Seven said, surprised to see the half-Klingon, it seemed.
'Seven,' B'Elanna said, nodding in greeting. 'What are you doing here?'
'I I ' For the first time that she could remember, B'Elanna saw that Seven was flustered, and she stepped in to save the drone further embarrassment.
'I knew you weren't as cool as you appeared to be about this whole thing,' B'Elanna said, pulling a face, 'C'mon, you can help. I've tried just about every test I know and now I'm making them up as I go along; I could use your input.'
Seven blinked, and then moved to the nearest work-station. 'You are here testing the tri-corder?'
'No, I'm making a new recipe for peach cobbler,' B'Elanna replied, not lifting her eyes from her work.
'Oh,' Seven said. For a moment she watched the guards make themselves comftable around the room, then she turned her attention back to the engineer. She found that B'Elanna was staring at her, a faint smile on her face.
'Maybe your sense of humour needs a little bit more work,' B'Elanna said, amused. 'Look, I'm here because I refuse to accept that this is the absolute truth. You're here because you don't want to die.'
'I ' Seven took a moment to let this sink in, and then inclined her head. 'Yes. I do not want to cease being an individual. I find that idea lacks appeal.'
B'Elanna laughed. 'You could've just said 'Yes.''
Seven allowed herself a small smirk. 'I believe I would miss these exchanges should I cease to function.'
She looked at B'Elanna, and found the engineer staring at her with an unfathomable expression. They watched each other for what seemed like many minutes, but Seven's internal chronometer told her that it was only sixteen point zero eight seconds. She'd never realized that sixteen point zero eight seconds could last so long. Finally, B'Elanna smiled and said,
'So would I, Seven, so would I.'
'It is real,' Janeway took the tri-corder from B'Elanna's hand and stared at it thoughtfully as she sat in her Ready Room, drinking coffee on her couch. 'You're sure?'
'Absolutely, Captain,' B'Elanna said, her voice tight. 'We tried ever single test we could think of and several more that we made up, plus one we think might have irradiated our feet. It's a long story.'
B'Elanna rubbed her face with one tired hand. 'Seven came into the lab about an hour after I did and we were there pretty much all night.'
'How is she holding up?' The Captain asked, trying to keep her voice level and calm but failing when she detected a faint tremor running through her words. B'Elanna didn't see to notice as she answered.
'She's ok, I think. She's convinced we'll find a way to stop this from happening.'
'And you? What do you think?'
'I think I think someone sent this back to warn us.'
'So we could prevent it from happening?'
'Yes. I think someone found a way to send this back; to try and help us stop it before it started.'
'It's too late for that,' Janeway sighed. She ran her hands through her hair and tried to drag her thoughts away from her dead crewmember.
'How's Harry dealing with it?' B'Elanna asked: She knew the captain had been making regular checks on the young ensign ever since they'd found out he was eighth on the list.
'He's scared,' The Captain said. 'And so am I, B'Elanna. We have to find a way to figure out who's doing this. I've had Tuvok investigating Gabrielle Allyn's murder, but so far he's found nothing.'
B'Elanna's lips compressed into a thin line as she listened to the Captain describing Tuvok's investigation to date - she was honoured that the captain felt comftable enough to share the details and confide her doubts to her, but she really wished she wouldn't. It was disconcerting to she the brilliant Captain Janeway so shaken.
'Don't worry Captain,' she said. 'We'll get through this.'
Janeway smiled. 'I'm glad you're doing all you can B'Elanna, and I'm sure Seven is too. You're very good for her, you know. She's made leaps and bounds in her humanity since you two stopped fighting, and she has you to thank for it.'
Ignoring the unnamed warmth that spread through her chest but basking in the sense of pride she felt B'Elanna smiled slightly and said, 'Well, it's not just one way Captain. She's teaching me a lot too.'
'You're two of the best engineers I've ever had the pleasure of working with, B'Elanna,' The Captain said. 'I'm pleased that you two can work together now too. Between you, I don't think there's anything you can't solve.'
B'Elanna's smile didn't move but her mind was racing - was Janeway pinning all her hopes for a speedy resolution to this on them? Were they going to be the one's with the twelve lives over their heads? 'I hope so, Captain,' She said slowly. 'I really hope so.'
To Be Continued
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