DISCLAIMER: See Part 1
A sense of foreboding descended upon Seven as she approached her objective; Talarum's pleasure space yacht, the Resolution. Something was going to go drastically wrong. For a moment she contemplated giving up on the entire thing.
Irritated she shook her head. Since when did she fall prey to superstition? Their plan was sound and had a good probability of success. Naturally there was always a chance things could go wrong but both she and B'Elanna were aware of that. She checked her readings again. So far, it seemed, their approach appeared to be completely undetected by both the Resolution and Risan Planetary Control.
It had been her idea to inform Planetary Control of the contraband being smuggled aboard the Ferengi's ship, so that their attention would be elsewhere. B'Elanna had argued that it would also probably alert Talarum, Villamer and their cronies. However Seven had realised this and had timed the message so that it would be sent just as the boarding of the Resolution began. By the time their enemies learned of her escape, she would already be aboard their vessel.
They had really been fortunate in acquiring this ship. B'Elanna had outfitted it with the same sensor-dampening field as had been on board the cargo freighter, rendering the ship virtually undetectable. They had tested it out with the freighter's sensors, and it had worked nicely.
No, at this stage detection was not her biggest worry, infiltration was. She had fully functioning transporters available and with the Resolution docked as it was, its shielding would be no problem. However there was no telling what other security measures were on board.
The Resolution was docked at the end of the west-docking pylon of a small orbital space station. From the Ferengi's database Seven had learned that this space station and several like it served as transport stations for unloading and restocking the space vessels docking and visiting Risa.
No other vessels were anywhere near the Resolution. Seven recognised that the vessel was aesthetically pleasing as far as ships went. Only slightly smaller than Voyager and having the same basic form. There the similarities ended.
Nunk's file had supplied them with no details of the security arrangements on the Resolution, nor had it given a schematic of the ship. However, it had provided them with Nunk's verbal description of the vessel. Everything on board had been designed with luxury in mind. The vessel had three holosuits, two swimming pools, a massage parlour; the list was endless. It was basically a mobile holiday resort, up to and including the staff.
Seven had chosen to transport into the crew quarterdeck. It was the uppermost level, situated well away from the areas in which the owner and guests spent their hours, therefore she had surmised that it would have less through traffic and be frequented by fewer security personnel.
She was hovering under the vessel now, she should still be undetected, unless someone happened to look out of a nearby porthole at that exact moment. Positioning her ship immediately under the Resolution, at about half a metre's distance, she programmed it to remain stationary, and initiated transport.
As she dematerialised her last thoughts went to
`Take care Bey, I want you back in one piece.'
Re-materialising in an unfamiliar room Seven quickly looked around. She had transported herself directly into someone's quarters, which were presently unoccupied. She hoped the room's owner would stay away long enough for her to finish her business in there.
The room was very small. Just large enough to contain a single bed, a well-padded chair and a few personal effects belonging to its regular occupant. In one of the walls was located a built-in replicator and computer console.
With two strides she made her way to the computer panel and called up the ship's schematics. It took only a few seconds to memorise the layout of the vessel. With her eidetic brain she could now recall every detail revealed by the computer. Shifting through the newly acquired data she determined were the engine room was. The best way to ensure the villains would not go anywhere was to make certain they could not go anywhere.
The schematics revealed that, like most vessels, the Resolution had an extensive maze of Jeffries tubes through which she could make her way to engineering. The trick would be to get to the entrance to the maintenance tunnels undetected. The chances that she would not encounter anyone on such a busy ship were small. Maybe it was best to just walk trough the corridors as if she belonged. With a little bit of luck the crewmembers would assume she was a new crewmember or just a visitor. Surely that would not be an uncommon occurrence on the pleasure planet. Seven rarely spend much of her time worrying about her looks but she had enough experience in her humanity now to know that most humans found her appearance aesthetically pleasing. And also knowing humanity a bit made her assume people would 'know very well' why she was there regardless of what she was wearing.
She took a look at her outfit. After the dive through food filled trays had ruined her own clothing, she had replicated a plain green coverall. She hoped that if she did run into someone it was nondescript enough to avoid drawing attention to her.
But luck was once again with her. Although the walk to the Jeffries tube entrance was over two hundred meters long, she did not encounter anyone.
The sense of dread she had felt earlier returned. She could not believe things were this easy. Irritated she shook her head, where did this feeling come from? It was not based on anything that could be logical explained. Maybe she should just be thankful that everything was going smoothly so far.
Arriving at the entrance to the Jeffries tubes, she quickly opened the door and crept inside. She needed to climb down the ladder nine decks and then crawl trough the tubes to the end of deck six. After that she would somehow have to overwhelm any crewmembers that were on duty, and sabotage the engines. Then if everything was still going according to plan she could proceed with the next phase of the operation.
Her internal chronometer told her it had taken over an hour to reach the engine room. Carefully she opened the hatch. Spying through the little opening she saw nobody around. She opened the hatch wider. Still no personnel.
Once more the feeling of dread descended on her. Was it typical for a vessel of this size to have nobody on watch when they were docked? It certainly hadn't been on Voyager. She realised she was not on Voyager, had not been for years, but in her opinion any Captain worth his insignia would have someone on watch in Engineering at all times. It was, after all, the nerve centre of the ship.
Musing like this was wasting valuable time. Getting out of the tube, she knew from her memory of the schematic just where she wanted to be. It also helped that most engine rooms were of a standard design. The warp core was in the centre of the room, with all the other consoles and engineering panels located around it.
She positioned herself in front of the panel that contained the controls of the warp core, her assimilation tubules immediately accessing the warp core systems.
"How nice of you to finally join us, Ms Hansen." A male voice from behind her stated. Seven, who had more or less expected to hear it ever since she came on board, did not turn around. Instead she concentrated on disabling the engines.
"Uh-uh, we cannot have any of that," the voice sounded almost amused. Before the stun blast hit Seven she thought irrelevantly, 'what is it with captors and amusement?' At least she had managed to complete what she had set out to do before she succumbed to unconsciousness.
Seven came to in a very luxurious room. She was lying in a reclining chair, unable to move. Moving her head she saw the restraints that held her in place, two simple looking straps but made out of a very strong material. Even though it would be difficult for her to free herself, she did not think it was impossible with her Borg enhanced strength.
However, for now it was necessary to play the helpless captive. She began to examine her surroundings. The room was the epitome of opulence. Expensive looking sofas were dwarfed by the large area. Portholes were draped by lavish curtains and ancient 19th century oil lamps dimly lit the room. Real books lined the walls and a lush red carpet covered the floor. Sculptures and paintings dotted the walls.
"Ah, sleeping beauty has awakened," came the cheerful voice again. Seven craned her neck as far as she could but could not see the owner of the voice.
Her captor chuckled and moved from behind the reclining chair to stand in front of Seven. The man was of medium size, with black hair, brown eyes and a goatee. The man smiled at Seven but the expression did not reach his eyes.
"My name is Villamer, but I suspect you knew that already."
Seven looked at him a few moments before answering. "No I did not. The Ferengi's logs only gave me your designations not your descriptions."
"Ah, obviously we were correct in our assumption that those foolish Ferengi would prove incompetent, and lead you straight to us."
"You were expecting my arrival?"
"Of course, our profilers predicted that the Ferengi's plan had a fifty percent chance of success. That meant an equal chance of failure. Barring failure on Nunk's part we were ninety-eight percent certain you would manage to find out about us and would come after us. It all fits your personality profile. And on the off chance you would decide not to come after us, well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Ms. Hansen you have made me and Dylan very happy people indeed."
Now Villamer smiled a real, satisfied, smile. "However we had not allowed for you alerting Risa's authorities. When we found out about that we had to make haste to get away. By alerting them you made a mistake, we knew by that you were on your way to us, but I must say I was impressed with your entry on the Resolution. We did not even notice you were on board until you triggered an alert upon opening the Jeffries tube hatch. All we had to do is follow the path of the alarms you set of and within minutes we knew what your destination was. We cleared engineering and all security had to do is wait for you to make your presence known there. And yet you almost managed to disable our engines."
To himself Villamer thought, 'Veslek made a mistake in letting that happen.' The man Talarum had hired to captain his ship and to arrange their security had never made such a mistake before. And Villamer could not help but wonder why he had done so in this matter. Even a green behind the ears Starfleet recruit would have known to hide his people in engineering itself. There were plenty of consoles to hide out of sight of the Jeffries tube hatch from which the Borg woman could make an appearance. If such was even necessary, you could not look through the hatch, all Veslek had needed to do was wait outside the hatch wait for it to open and pull the Borg out. Of course it paid to take extra precautions where a Borg was concerned but to wait for over a full minute outside engineering just did not wash with Villamer. And even though Veslek's records so far had been spotless this was definitely a mistake that would be investigated when they got home. To bad Talarum had almost a hundred percent faith in the guy.
A frown appeared on his face as he continued talking to his captive, "As it is we are only able to achieve warp 1.7. We left the docking station as soon as you were on board but we aren't making good time. I don't suppose you would be willing to enlighten our Engineers as to just what you have done?"
"No." smirked Seven, pleased she had accomplished this much. It was more than she and B'Elanna had counted on. They had relied on Seven reaching Engineering but not on doing any actual damage. As it was, the former Borg had even managed to lock the Resolution's engineers out of all the engine's systems with Borg encryption codes. She doubted any engineer unfamiliar with Borg systems would be able to break them. In fact she believed B'Elanna Torres was one of the few unassimilated people in the Alpha Quadrant who could manage it unaided. She wondered how the Klingon was doing.
Villamer shrugged. He had not expected an affirmative response to his request. And he knew better than to threaten or coerce this woman into helping him. His profilers were clear enough on that fact. Besides he was confident enough that the ship's engineers would be able to get the engines back to peak efficiency in no time.
"How long have I been unconscious?" asked his captive, causing him to stop his pondering. For a moment he considered not answering the drone's questions. Then he shrugged to himself, what did it matter? The woman was not going anywhere.
"Long enough for us to find some answers to our questions. By the way thank you for returning our vessel to us. We loaned it to those bungling Ferengi figuring we would loose it. Quite ingenious, how you outfitted it with sensor dampeners to fool our instruments. I am certain our employers will be eager to adapt that particular trick. We only found the ship because we knew there had to be some way for you to get on board the Resolution. It is now safely back on our shuttle deck. And to answer your question, you have been k.o. for approximately three hours."
Three hours! What was B'Elanna doing?
"Now, Ms. Hansen, please relax and take it easy. In a few hours we will begin with the extraction of your nanoprobes."
Seven merely raised her eyebrow and stated baldly. "You will not succeed in this endeavour."
Now the pleasant expression dropped from Villamer's face. "And just how do you think you can stop me Borg? You think we did not take your Borg enhanced strength and skills in consideration? I will remind you of the fact that you are not dealing with Ferengi now."
Seven grinned evilly at the man, visible relaxing herself. 'That may very well be but I doubt you have taken my Klingon's strength in consideration.'
For a moment Villamer was taken aback by Seven's reaction, then he dismissed it. The Borg was just trying to throw him off balance. Without a backward glance he walked out of the room, leaving Seven to worry about B'Elanna, unable to do anything other than think about B'Elanna.
B'Elanna decided she had waited long enough. She had been able to monitor Seven via both an open sub dermal comm. link and an exographic targeting sensor, enabling her to keep an eye on her friend at all times.
The use of a sub dermal communicator was not new to them. They had used it on Voyager several times and it had not taken them long to replicate one for each of them and, with the help of a simple dermal regenerator, embed them. The exographic targeting sensor was something B'Elanna had discovered while selecting a weapon from the Ferengi's collection. One of the projectile weapons she had inspected had come with a few extras, one of which was the exographic-targeting sensor; the other, bullets with micro-transporters attached to them.
At first the Klingon had not known what the ETS was for, though she quickly determined it was meant to be placed in front of her eye. Curiously she had done so and, on activating it, she had found that she could look through several layers of deck plating. After a little practise she easily found Seven, who was still on the bridge. Realising she had found her weapon of choice she had grabbed the rifle and taken it with her.
At that very moment that same rifle was lying next to her, pressed against her body in the tight space she was lying in. For the past three hours B'Elanna had lain in a very compact compartment in the Ferengi's smuggler's vessel. Not the most comfortable of places but it hid the Klingon well.
With the comm. link placed directly behind her ear and the ETS over her eye she could follow nearly everything that happened to her friend. So far everything had gone according to plan. Seven had made it even farther than they had anticipated before getting captured. It really was a shame she had not been able to completely disable the engines. That job was now on B'Elanna's shoulders.
Realising that taking on the entire crew of the Resolution was too big for just the two of them they had decided to sabotage the vessel as much as they could. Figuring that the Resolution would make a run for it as soon as the Ferengi failed to contact them, Seven had felt it would be the most logical approach.
By sending three separate messages to Risa Planetary control they were fairly certain help was on the way. The chances of all three messages being intercepted by agents of the Orion Syndicate were small. B'Elanna felt more confident knowing that help was probably on the way. Even Risa had Starfleet personnel stationed on it.
B'Elanna had agreed to wait in her compartment till she knew Seven was captured. It had taken an exhaustive amount of persuasion on Seven's part to convince the Klingon to do so. If their opponents believed they had captured their objective they would be less likely think to look for someone else, giving B'Elanna more freedom of movement.
B'Elanna had waited right up until the moment Seven was shot down. That was something they had not taken into account and the Klingon's heart had skipped a couple of beats in panic. Thankfully someone in Engineering said that the Borg woman was only stunned and ordered her moved someplace else. Not willing to waste any more time B'Elanna started to remove the panel she lay behind. Hidden there only to give the impression Seven had arrived at the Resolution alone, B'Elanna thought, and after two hours of doing nothing, it was time to come out. Nobody had discovered the smuggler's vessel yet.
If the engineer had come out of hiding a few seconds earlier she would have been spotted. However just as she was about to do so the vessel was moved and she quickly withdrew behind the compartment panel.
Growing pretty stiff by this time she decided to play it safe anyhow and remain where she was just a little longer. Which was just as well. Shortly after the ship was landed on a shuttle deck, the cargo room was cursorily checked. B'Elanna thanked whatever god was out there for finding the exographic sensor. With that little device she could keep her eye on everything even if it meant she had to temporarily take her eyes off Seven.
Even though the search of the smuggler's vessel was perfunctory it was a while before B'Elanna felt safe enough to venture out of her hidey hole.
When she finally did crawl out she took a few moments to loosen up her cramped muscles, and decide what her best course of action would be. She had already located Seven and would regularly check up on her friend. However she would also need to scout ahead which meant she could not keep her eyes on Seven the entire time.
For a second B'Elanna contemplated simply beaming into Engineering but with the exographic sensor she quickly determined that there were several people present now. And where they had intended for Seven to be captured they had also agreed that B'Elanna should avoid detection as long as possible.
By now B'Elanna had surmised that the Jeffries tubes had detection sensors in them. How else could those people have known just were Seven was headed. They had been waiting for her, of that there was no doubt in the Klingon's mind. She prayed she would be able to disable the alarms. The maintenance tunnels where still her best option of getting around the ship undetected.
First things first, slinging the rifle onto her shoulder the Klingon checked the shuttle deck as thoroughly as she could. A man and a woman were stationed near the exit, both intently bent over a console. Having also located an entry to the tubes B'Elanna figured the risk of detection was minimal. The entry hatch was practically next to the vessel but, with several metres of empty space between, there was always some risk of being spotted.
Just before exiting the vessel the Klingon took one last look at Seven. The former drone was still unconscious; she looked almost angelic, lying there as she did.
'Right, Torres!' she thought to herself, 'payback time.'
She reached the entry hatch without being seen by either crewmembers, the 24th century F16 incarnation hid her from their view. She quickly ran her tricorder over the entryway. Sure enough there was an activated detection sensor hidden in the hatch itself. Well not really hidden, it was a pretty standard security device, requiring her to enter a specific code to open the hatch without setting off any alarms.
She wondered why Seven had not run across one of those but shrugging, she decided she should not waste any time on that. The half-Human did not have many tools to work with, but she had an unbelievable affinity with all types of machinery, and she was also a master of improvisation. A few quick commands on the tricorder and the small device sent out an electronic signal, the hatch automatically opening without setting off any alarms. Hurriedly she crawled into the Jeffrey's tube, remaining undetected.
Slowly moving forward it did not take long before she spotted the next detector, but she dealt with that one just as easily. As she progressed further towards the engine room she forgot how much time had passed and, because of the silence in the Jeffries tube, she was slightly startled when she suddenly heard a male voice directly in her ear.
"Ah, sleeping Beauty has awakened. My name is Villamer but I suspect you knew that already."
Followed by Seven's crisp reply: "No I did not."
B'Elanna let out a sigh of relief as she realised Seven was awake. Good, now the evidence collecting could begin.
The reason Seven had let herself be captured was basically a simple one. All the evidence they had, implicating Villamer and his people they had was from the Ferengi's logs. Which was in and of itself pretty circumstantial. Even if the authorities should arrest Villamer and Talarum it would only be the Ferengi's word against theirs. It simply was not enough to get a conviction in the courts.
For the same reasons there was also the possibility that the authorities would not issue a search warrant for the Resolution based on those logs. Especially not if the Orion syndicate had a hold over them.
Not even certain that their opponents had computer files of their actions on board, they had determined the need to collect the evidence themselves. The moment Seven had boarded the Resolution a minuscule recording device had started to log every word spoken in her vicinity.
B'Elanna took a few seconds to listen to the conversation and quickly started smirking. They were collecting evidence al right. Straight from the horse's mouth.
Berating herself for wasting time in this manner she quickly resumed her crawl through the maintenance tunnels.