DISCLAIMER: You know the drill
. Voyager and the whole crew belong to Paramount, et. al. (except for Ensigns' Bennett and Leon).
In the future, this FF will depict a loving relationship between women. It also includes psychological trauma and imagery. If this bothers you, please read elsewhere.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Sara Crusade
Seven opened her eyes while still kneeling on the floor. Her head felt dizzy and she felt the urge to vomit. Trying to get oriented, Seven took a couple of deep, ragged breaths and did an internal diagnostic on herself. Her systems seemed to be operating within normal parameters, however she felt an intense ache in her chest. Seven of Nine forced herself to stand, and staggered toward the closest workstation, leaning on it for support. Clutching the workstation with her right hand, Seven slowly turned, scanning the cargo bay for anything unusual. Her chest still ached, and Seven brought her left hand up to it, holding it there, while she directed her gaze to Icheb's alcove. She was surprised to see that he wasn't regenerating, and was not present in the cargo bay.
Believing there to be a logical explanation as to Icheb's absence from his alcove and workstation, Seven focused her attention on her internal chronometer to determine the current time. She found herself becoming slightly troubled when she concluded it was 0500 hours. Icheb's normal regeneration cycle didn't end until 0600. Something just didn't feel right, and although the Astrometrics Officer was not known for her powers of intuition, she couldn't help but sense that there was something wrong.
"Computer, state the time," Seven commanded.
There was no response from the computerized female voice of Voyager. Seven repeated the command with more force.
"Computer, respond! What is the current time?!"
Again, Seven's query was met with silence. Seven felt an unusual rise of bile in her throat, and she hardened herself for one more query of the ship's computer.
"Computer," Seven's voice faltered ever so slightly, "locate Icheb."
The computer responded with a chirp and then emotionlessly stated, "Unable to comply."
"Captain," Harry stated, "I have launched the probe."
Captain Janeway nodded slightly and continued to look at the forward viewscreen.
"Harry, how long before the probe reaches the anomaly?"
Harry scanned the ops station instrumentation and responded, " Captain, we should begin reading telemetry in about one minute."
"Keep me informed. Have you made any headway with the computer?"
"I've initiated a ship-wide diagnostic. The results should be in momentarily," Harry stated.
Just then the ship's computer returned with results of the diagnostic.
"Diagnostic complete. The ship is operating within acceptable parameters."
"Harry," Janeway responded questioningly.
Ensign Kim scanned the ops console for any detail that would explain the computer's earlier malfunction. With a crinkle of his brow, and a half shrug of his shoulders, Harry addressed Captain Janeway.
"Captain, the diagnostic doesn't show any malfunction. I don't know what to attribute the breakdown to."
"What about the infrared emissions from the interstellar dust?"
"The diagnostic doesn't show any interference from the emissions or elevated neutrino levels." Harry looked at his Captain with an apologetic look.
As the Captain was about to respond, the console at the secondary ops station began to beep, and Ensign Bennett's hands glided across the station controls.
"Ma'am, we are picking up readings from the probe." Ensign Bennett continued to look down at her station while reading back the data as it streamed in.
Harry moved over to the secondary ops station beside Ensign Bennett and began to scan the incoming data.
Intently studying the information, Harry said, "Captain, the probe is picking up a vibrational frequency coming from the outer rings of the anomaly. The natural mode of vibration confirms there is a black hole in there . It appears the fabric of space-time is oscillating!"
"Harry, can you measure the black hole?"
"Yes ma'am. It appears to have a radius of 30 kilometers, but the gravitational pull is massive. "
"Captain," Ensign Bennett interjected, "there's an electromagnetic field emanating from outside the event horizon. I'm picking up traces of electromagnetic radiation moving in our direction."
Janeway slowly sat down in her command chair. Her face reflected the woman's intense thought process. As fascinating as the anomaly was, she still had a crew to keep safe. 'The only way to really get into the heart of that space giant,' considered Janeway, 'is to have Astrometrics pull it apart.'
"Harry, I want all the incoming data transferred to Astrometrics. I want Seven on this immediately."
Harry acknowledged Janeway's command and set about transferring all the data to Seven's workstation in Astrometrics.
Believing the computer malfunction to have been an anomaly itself, given the negative results of the ship-wide diagnostic, Janeway called for her Chief of Astrometrics again.
"Janeway to Seven of Nine." As before, there was no response, so Janeway tried again.
"Computer, locate Seven of Nine."
"Seven of Nine is in cargo bay two."
"Computer, what is Seven of Nine's status?" Janeway felt like she was trapped in a time loop.
"Seven of Nine is regenerating."
'Great,' thought the Captain, flustered.
"Computer, deactivate regeneration cycle." Janeway caught herself holding her breath as she waited for the computerized response. No longer feeling confident in her ship's central computer system, Janeway heard herself think, 'unable to comply.'
"Unable to comply."
Remembering she had sent security after her Chief of Engineering, Janeway hailed her security team for a report.
"Captain," responded a male security officer, we have been unable to access Lieutenant Torres quarters."
"What do you mean 'unable to access' her quarters?! Use override codes! Break the door down just find a way in! Have I made myself clear?!"
"Ensign, send another security team to cargo bay two. I will meet them there. Janeway out."
B'Elanna forced herself to stand and walk to her bedroom, wanting to distance herself from the sofa where she'd cried herself to sleep. As she walked the short distance, the Engineer looked down at her stomach, remembering how swollen it had been in her dream. Her left hand absently reached around in front of her to stroke her taut belly, as B'Elanna reached for the controls of the replicator with her right hand. B'Elanna felt emotionally drained and numb after her nightmare and was so focused in thought that she didn't initially notice that nothing happened when she input the commands for a fresh uniform.
Regaining her concentration and realizing the replicator did not respond to her command, B'Elanna input the data a second time. When there was still no uniform fabricated B'Elanna let out a low growl and hit the bulkhead above the replicator with her fist. 'Stupid machine,' B'Elanna thought to herself. Deciding to forgo the new uniform for the time being, she grabbed her comm badge off her nightstand and decided to redirect her anger at Tom, for failing to come home last night.
"Computer, locate Ensign Paris."
"Ensign Paris is in his quarters."
Remembering that she had her husband's comm badge in her possession B'Elanna growled again and then decided to settle on a different tactic. Calling on the ship's Doctor, the Raven-haired woman determined she would find out if Tom had returned to sickbay to recover his property.
"Torres to the Doctor". There was no response. Sighing deeply, the Chief Engineer tried again.
"Lieutenant Torres to the Emergency Medical Hologram." Again, her query was met with only silence. Increasing the timbre of her growl, B'Elanna complained out loud to the empty room.
The agitated half-Klingon clipped her comm badge to her sage green tank top, and then headed out the door of her quarters, flexing her arm muscles as she clenched and released her fists. She headed through the corridor to the turbolift, en route to engineering.
Frustrated, Seven of Nine headed for the entrance to cargo bay two. Unable to locate Icheb, her young Borg charge, Seven had accessed the computer from her workstation in the cargo bay. There had been no data explaining the central computer's failure to comply with her commands to locate the young man, so she had attempted to contact Lt. Commander Tuvok, whom Icheb was last known to be with. Unable to elicit a response to that query either, Seven believed the most efficient course of action would be to go to engineering in search of a solution to the computer malfunction. As she reached the cargo bay doors, the tall blonde tapped her comm badge one more time, although she knew her attempt was illogical and would be in vain.
"Seven of Nine to Captain Janeway." Seven headed out the door and down the corridor toward the turbolift, even as she awaited a response. When none was forthcoming, the ex- Borg drone headed for main engineering.
Once inside the turbolift, Seven of Nine commanded the lift to take her to deck 11. She thought about the dream she'd had, and pondered it's meaning. Her eidetic memory allowed her to retain vast amounts of information, and even to play experiences back verbatim, however she did not have the resources to identify the meaning of the images in her dream. 'I will have to discuss this matter with the Doctor at a more convenient time,' Seven thought to herself. Meanwhile, she tried to reason away the lingering feelings of discord, and fear she felt as a result of her dream.
It bothered Seven of Nine that she could feel so vulnerable due simply to mental images created during her regeneration cycle. She was drawn back to her heighten sense of fear and paranoia when navigating the starship alone through the nebula, as the crew slept in stasis. Seven didn't like to feel vulnerable, or any loss of control. It didn't blend with the persona she's developed on board Voyager of being Borg. As a Borg she could adapt, use reasoning and logic to facilitate answers to any problems. As a human, she needed companionship, and the approval of those she served with. Seven preferred her mask of impenetrability.
Seven's thoughts were interrupted when the turbolift halted, opening doors to an incoming passenger. She looked up from her introspection to see B'Elanna Torres.
"Seven," the Chief Engineer stated curtly.
Seven of Nine shifted her weight slightly on her feet and tilted her head a bit, now focusing her attention on her turbolift companion.
"Lieutenant Torres ," Seven responded, leaving an appropriate pause in case the Chief had more to say.
Instead, B'Elanna commanded the turbolift to take her to main engineering, on deck 11. She then stared straight ahead at the lift doors. Seeing the former Borg drone reminded B'Elanna painfully of her dream, and she felt her right hand protectively clutch her stomach. A feeling of nausea swept over the half-Klingon, but she forced herself to maintain an appearance of self-control so as not to indicate she was in distress. Her mind played back Seven's proclamation to her in the dream, "You have made it perfectly clear that you are incapable of loving anything Borg, and this child is clearly part Borg. Therefore you are not fit to parent her." Guilt then added to B'Elanna's burden, and feeling Seven's gaze upon her, the dark-haired woman turned slightly to face her.
Seven's mind flashed back to her dream, and she recalled the look on B'Elanna's face as the dream B'Elanna pulled at Seven's legs and pleaded for help. Seven felt a stab of pain in her chest again, and then directed her attention back to the Chief Engineer standing beside her. Seven noticed that B'Elanna's pulse rate increased and she seemed to become paler in the face.
Both women began to address the other at the same time, "Lieutenant/Seven ," and Seven bowed her head in concession, giving B'Elanna the chance to speak first.
"Look Seven, I'm sorry I was such a targ's ass yesterday. I've just really been stressed. And now I can't get my damn replicator to give me a uniform, and my stupid comm badge won't work!"
Although she felt owed the apology, Seven of Nine felt uncomfortable trying to process what it meant to her to have B'Elanna give it. She believed the Chief Engineer to be an honorable woman, but felt reticent to accept the apology easily. Instead, she glanced down at the smaller woman's casual attire, and then back up to her face noticing a slight swelling to B'Elanna's eye lids, and the beginnings of dark circles under her eyes. Seven responded to the part of B'Elanna's narration that she felt comfortable addressing.
"I have also been experiencing difficulties with my comm badge, and was on my way to engineering to attempt to locate the source of the problem."
B'Elanna furrowed her brow and was about to speak, when the turbolift halted, announcing the arrival at its destination. When the turbolift doors opened, B'Elanna began to exit the lift automatically. She knew this ship like the back of her hand, so moving about the starship didn't require any thought on her part. Just as she stepped out into the corridor, B'Elanna came to a sudden stop, and gaped at the corridor ahead. Seven came along beside her, and stood with her back straight and her hands behind her back, as if her Borg stance of superiority was a shield against the unknown.
Lingering in the air from the deck to the ceiling, fog permeated the corridor. It billowed like gray smoke, obscuring all views in any direction. It had a chill to it, and reminded B'Elanna of the low-hanging fog that used to encircle the forest she and her father camped in during the autumn season on Earth.
Both women remained silent, listening for any clues to what would cause such an abnormality on board the ship. They were greeted with nothing but silence. B'Elanna heard only her own blood pulsing in her ears with a loudness that was deafening. B'Elanna wasn't even sure if she could still hear the hum of her warp engines. Seven strained her Borg-enhanced hearing to maximum, and didn't hear a thing.
"I don't understand it Seven, I don't hear anything no crew members, nothing." B'Elanna continued to stare into the quagmire.
"I do not detect any sounds either, Lieutenant. Perhaps we should attempt to reach the bridge. The upper decks appeared clear of the fog, and with our comm badges defective, we should discuss the matter with the Captain."
"Lead on." B'Elanna and Seven both turned back to the turbolift. B'Elanna commanded it to retrieve them, however there was no response.
"What the hell is going on here?!" B'Elanna felt her way to the emergency access hatch to the right of the turbolift, and pulled the door off. The fog made it almost impossible to see her hand in front of her face, so B'Elanna let her fingers guide her to the operating system for the turbolift doors. Seven stood by watching B'Elanna, although she wasn't able to see much either, even with the enhanced vision from her cortical implant. The Lieutenant used her hands to feel around inside the access hatch, but wasn't able to detect any obvious malfunctions. She tried to get the doors of the turbolift to release and open, hoping to be able to get back into the well lighted turbolift, but her efforts were to no avail.
Turning back to where she believed Seven of Nine to be standing, B'Elanna sighed frustratingly.
"Looks like we'll have to forge ahead."
"Given the circumstances, I concur." Seven turned back around toward the corridor, but found that the fog seemed even thicker now, and she was starting to feel disoriented.
B'Elanna turned the rest of the way toward the corridor as well, and placing her left hand on the bulkhead, began to walk slowly into the chilling mist. Seven fell in behind the shorter woman, and guided herself slowly down the corridor.
"Main engineering should be just up ahead on the left." B'Elanna continued to walk cautiously toward her department. She could sense Seven following behind her, and could hear her breathing in the silence. The pulsing in her own head had seemed to quiet down.
They traveled at their slow and cautious pace for quite some time with B'Elanna's hand gliding against the bulkhead in search of the doors to main engineering. It was a frustrating exercise for the Chief Engineer, as the bulkhead was layered with control hatches, and her touch had to remain light in order for her hand to rise and fall with the textures of the wall. Yet for all the access panels and control hatches she'd felt, she never seem to come upon the doors to engineering.
B'Elanna stopped abruptly in the corridor, wondering if she'd missed her mark, or hadn't yet reached it. The fog had her disoriented as well, and with no sounds to follow, she couldn't gauge her whereabouts. As soon as she stopped, the unsuspecting Astrometrics Officer following behind her ran smack into B'Elanna's back.
"(Ooomph) Hey, watch it," B'Elanna curtly demanded. Seven backed up, and gave the Chief space.
"If I could 'watch it' Lieutenant, I would not be following along behind you."
"Look," B'Elanna said exasperated, and then rolled her eyes at herself for her choice of words. "There's a protocol for this, let's follow it."
"Starfleet protocol states that, in the event of a fire or any circumstance where there's heavy smoke, the person bringing up the rear holds on to the person in front of them. So just grab the back of my shirt."
Seven reached for the back of B'Elanna's tank top, but inadvertently brushed the shorter woman's right shoulder. B'Elanna's skin felt cold to the touch, and Seven immediately drew back her hand in response to the touch. B'Elanna, misunderstanding Seven's retraction snapped angrily.
"I know we don't particularly get along, but let's try to get through this!"
"I'm sorry, Lieutenant Torres. I did not mean to touch you. However I am concerned about the temperature of your skin. You feel cold."
"Yeah, I am. But I'm more concerned with the fact I can't find engineering. We should have reached it by now." B'Elanna sighed in frustration.
"It is possible you missed it."
"Well yeah, Seven in this fog from Hell! But I'm sure I didn't miss it." B'Elanna was feeling agitated, and her demeanor expressed it.
"Then I suggest we continue to move forward. It is possible that the fog has disoriented us and hampered our ability to judge distance." Seven gently grabbed hold of the back of B'Elanna's tank top, and followed her as they continued to press forward.
They'd gotten about eight meters when a red alert klaxon sounded. Through the dense fog, reflections of red light played in the shadows, creating an eerie, doomsday appearance. B'Elanna stopped walking and tensed at the sound. Seven continued her grip on B'Elanna's shirt, but maintained her distance.
"What the Hell is going on now?!" B'Elanna felt herself developing her fight or flight response, but she didn't move, realizing she had no enemy to fight, and no where to run.
In the distance, the sound of boots pounded on the tightly woven carpet in the corridor. It sounded as if crewmen were running, but B'Elanna wasn't sure why they would be running unless it was to take cover or retrieve weapons. Seven strained to see into the fog, past the shadows of red swirls, in search of the crewmen she and her companion heard down the corridor. Even the ex-drone's cortical implant was not enough to see anyone else.
"Hey! Can anyone hear me " B'Elanna called out to the disembodied sounds in the corridor. She had hoped someone would hear her, and explain to her and Seven what was going on, but there was no response.
"Perhaps the ship is under attack." Seven spoke as analytically as possible. She refused to give in to her mounting feelings of fear, as they were inefficient in finding a solution. Seven knew that, if the ship was under siege, she was partnered with one of the most adept fighters on board the ship. Failure was simply not an option.
"Maybe you're right. We need to get to safety, Seven, and find a weapons locker. I don't have a damn phaser on me, and I have no clue where we're at."
B'Elanna began walking along the corridor with her hand resting on the bulkhead. She was frustrated, and a little scared, but she would never show her weakness or give up her control. She'd barely stepped two meters when she tripped and fell forward, landing on her hands and knees on the deck. It happened so quickly that Seven had not been able to let go or correct her balance before she fell also. Seven tried to stop her fall with her hand on B'Elanna's back, but she tripped over B'Elanna's feet as she descended and headed for the deck just to B'Elanna's right side. The Engineer growled, but thrust her right arm out in front of Seven in order to ease her fall.
Seven bristled at the expletive and stood up as quickly as she could while she waited for her companion to right herself from the floor. Seven felt her chest tighten, and she flashed back to Main Engineering the day before when B'Elanna's affront made her feel small and inconsequential. The darker woman's earlier apology no longer seemed relevant, as it meant nothing in the face of another insult.
B'Elanna felt behind her to find the offending obstacle that interrupted her sure-footedness. She was quite surprised when her hand retrieved a phaser rifle. As she stood up, she turned around to face Seven in the fog to show her their good fortune, when she was pressed against the bulkhead by Seven's hands on her shoulders.
"I do NOT appreciate your continued insults and insinuations that I am less than you."
"Hey Borg, back off," B'Elanna snarled as she jerked herself out of Seven's grip, while holding the phaser rifle diagonally across her upper body.
B'Elanna continued, "I didn't say a damn thing to you." Remembering her use of Klingon profanity when she initially fell, she added, "I swore when I fell because I was pissed off. But it wasn't directed at you, Seven."
Seven stepped back, away from the compact woman. She assessed her internal feelings and focused in on her increased blood pressure and rapid heart rate. 'This must be what shame feels like,' Seven thought to herself, feeling badly that she had shown aggression toward the Lieutenant over a misunderstanding.
"I was in error," Seven said weakly.
B'Elanna felt a pang of compassion hearing the emotion in the ex-Borg's voice, "Let's just forget about what happened. We've got a phaser rifle now, and we need to keep moving." B'Elanna didn't want to 'kick' Seven while she was down. She knew how that felt from her own past experiences. B'Elanna silently cursed the fog that Seven wasn't able to see her face so that she would know the Engineer earnestly felt bad.
"Agreed," Seven replied, reverting to her Borg mannerisms. She waited for the Lieutenant to check the newly acquired weapon, before proceeding down the corridor. When B'Elanna was satisfied that the rifle was operative and fully charged, she took her lead position and Seven fell in behind her, taking hold of the sage colored tank top again.
As they began working their way down the corridor, B'Elanna noticed a small break in the intensity of the fog. Peering through it she saw what looked like the other turbolift entrance on deck 11. She started moving to her right, crossing the corridor and heading for the lift when Seven gently pulled back on the tank top.
"It is not wise to let go of the bulkhead and step into the fog. Why are you are deviating from our plan?"
B'Elanna pointed to the turbolift doors and started moving toward them again.
"I don't know what's going on here Seven but I lost Engineering, found a phaser rifle, and now we have a turbolift nearby. If we can access it, I'd really rather take the turbolift to the bridge than crawl through Jeffries Tubes."
Seven released the tension in her hand and followed B'Elanna cautiously across the corridor. The red alert klaxon still sounded and lit up the fog, but now it seemed to aid the two women in finding their way to the turbolift. As they approached it, the doors slid open quickly, and B'Elanna and Seven entered. The doors slid closed just as fast, and they found themselves in a well lit lift, with no fog. The Chief of Engineering commanded the turbolift to take them to the bridge, and they stood in silence facing toward the front, as they prepared for the unknown
When the turbolift opened, Seven of Nine and B'Elanna Torres saw that the bridge was enveloped by the same fog that had consumed the corridor on deck 11. It hung in the air in patches of thickness, not evenly dispersed as in the corridor. There appeared to be less dense pockets of fog, like mist, hanging down by the deck where visibility was somewhat better. It was deathly quiet, and they stood on the periphery of the bridge as their eyes adjusted. B'Elanna stood in front and to the side of the tall blonde, with her phaser rifle poised and ready for action. They had just barely stepped off the turbolift when phaser fire erupted from the area in front of the helm, aimed in their direction.
Acting instinctively, Seven pushed B'Elanna down onto the upper deck just behind the secondary ops station and covered the Lieutenant's body with her own. With the turbolift gone they had no place to retreat to, and continued phaser fire kept them pinned to that location. Unsure as to whether or not it was safe to get up, Seven, feeling protective of B'Elanna, remained on top of the Lieutenant's back longer than what was actually warranted before she finally rolled off her. To Seven, it had been a natural response to the situation. But more than that, Seven couldn't help remembering the big brown eyes of the deer in her dream after it was struck down by lightening. Infused with her memory, she averted her gaze from the darker woman's as she moved away.
"Uh, thanks Seven," B'Elanna whispered. She had chosen to stand in front of Seven in a protective stance on the turbolift, as the half-Klingon was the only one of the two armed. The last thing B'Elanna expected was to find Seven trying to protect her.
Seven felt somewhat self-conscious having landed on top of the Chief Engineer, but not wanting to portray her discomfort, she ignored it. She also determined she would ignore the other strange feeling she had in the pit of her stomach that had developed while she was lying on top of the compact woman. Instead, she used her discomfort as a catalyst to scan the bridge and assess the situation.
Enhancing her focus with her cortical implant, Seven scanned the upper deck from where she now crouched next to B'Elanna. She could hear phaser fire continuing from the bow of the bridge, and saw the deadly lights as they whizzed by on both sides of them. The fog was abundant, but it seemed smoke was also thick in the area; a result of the starship's computer components damaged by the fire-fight.
"Can you tell how many there are Seven?" B'Elanna had a touch of concern in her voice, but tried hard to mask any worry she was feeling. "I thought there was just one, but there seems to be too much fire for one person." It occurred to the half-Klingon warrior that they were badly pinned down if more than one enemy was firing upon them. Only B'Elanna had a rifle, and they could easily be advanced upon on either side of the bridge.
When Seven didn't respond right away, B'Elanna looked over at her, and was taken aback by the look of mortification on Seven's face.
Seven's Borg persona slipped immediately into place, and she turned to face the Engineer.
"There appears to be at least one crew fatality on the bridge."
"What?!" B'Elanna reacted stunned. "I didn't see any bodies when we got here." B'Elanna began to look around the upper deck more intensely. She gazed past Seven, to her right, to determine the validity of the ex-drone's observation, not really doubting her, but wanting to. She could barely make out a dark shadow on the deck, rounding the corner toward the science station. Then she looked to her left, at where the ops station was. She gasped when she saw the lower portion of a body lying crumpled near Ensign Kim's station.
"Harry ?" B'Elanna whispered an entreaty to the body, hoping that it might respond and spare her some pain. There was no response. B'Elanna turned and slumped back against the secondary ops station. Seven watched B'Elanna as she appeared to capitulate to their enemy, and then just as quickly as she seemed to give up, she noticed a look she'd never seen before cross briefly over the warrior's face.
B'Elanna jumped up from behind the ops console with her phaser rifle pointed toward the bow of the bridge.
"No!" Seven grabbed at B'Elanna's arm, but missed as the half-Klingon's lightening fast body leaped into action. Even as B'Elanna started laying a blanket of phaser fire upon the unseen invaders, Seven reached for the woman's shirt with her Borg-enhanced hand and yanked the Engineer ungracefully to the deck.
Still reacting from her state of blood lust and shock, B'Elanna raised the butt of her rifle, prepared to pummel Seven with it. Her need to connect violently was great, and she recognized Seven only as a body in her way. The ex-Borg's hands went up defensively and she grabbed the rifle while it was still in B'Elanna's hands, descending toward Seven's face. She maintained her pressure against the Chief's attack, and held the weapon and the woman steady until B'Elanna's blood lust was broken. B'Elanna centered her gaze at Seven and let out a deep growl. It was meant to warn off the resolute blonde, but Seven did not give up her position.
"It serves no purpose for you to sacrifice yourself in an act of revenge Lieutenant." Seven continued to hold fast to B'Elanna's weapon, even as the woman lowered her arms. B'Elanna stared at the pale woman with a feral look Seven had not seen on her before, and she looked back, keeping their eyes locked and hoping that B'Elanna could not sense her fear. It was an irrational fear, Seven was sure, but it played her none-the-less. As she maintained her steady gaze at the eyes watching her, she thought about what it would be like to lose this woman now and be left alone alone like she had been in the nebula, alone like she felt when first severed from the Collective.
"Lieutenant B'Elanna ." Seven softened her voice as she said the half-Klingon's name. She hoped somehow to calm the woman and bring her back to a state of awareness by using gentling tones. It felt awkward to the Borg woman however, as empathy was not something she shared openly with anyone, except maybe Naomi Wildman. Even with the Borg children, Seven used perfunctory language so as not to appear weak as a role model.
B'Elanna just stared at Seven, as if looking through her. She wasn't in a state of blood lust any more, but still didn't seem grounded to her surroundings. Seven thought it best to attempt to connect with the Lieutenant again.
"B'Elanna ?" Seven spoke even more gently and lightly brushed her human hand against B'Elanna's bare left arm. The Astrometrics Officer noticed again how cold B'Elanna's skin felt, despite her recent rage, and she became concerned. But she kept it to herself, determined to monitor the Engineer privately.
B'Elanna blinked her eyes and focused on the concerned face of Seven. She relaxed her hands, releasing the rifle to Seven.
"Seven I " She lowered her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest.
Seven took the awkward moment to reassess their surroundings. Listening intently she noticed that the phaser fire from the bow of the bridge had stopped. Feeling assured that B'Elanna was not in danger of harming herself at the moment, Seven grabbed the rifle and edged her way around the secondary ops station to reconnoiter the area.
Staying low to the deck, and using the low-lying smoke as cover, Seven peered around the ops station and onto the lower portion of the bridge. Despite her limited visibility, she was able to see the Captain's command chair, and a body lying limp over the side of it. Seven felt her pounding heart drop into her stomach, but forced herself to continue her visual search, gripping the rifle tighter. Through the swirling fog and smoke Seven caught glimpses of the Helm, and the figure that lay slumped against it. A movement caught her Borg enhanced eye, and she stared beyond the Helm, willing herself to see. A shadow shifted against the smoke, seeming to wait for something. Seven couldn't make out what species the shadow belonged to, but at times it had the outline of a Hirogen warrior.
As Seven prepared to rejoin B'Elanna behind the secondary ops station, her attention became focused on an intense light on the bridge. The rays of light hung in the fog, dancing in the rings of smoke and mist. Seven had to shield her eyes from the blinding brightness and then the light was gone. When Seven looked back out to the lower bridge, the bodies were gone. She searched for the shadow, to evaluate the threat to she and B'Elanna, but the shadow appeared gone as well.
To Be Continued
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