DISCLAIMER: See Part 1
When she finally reached engineering she had to decide on a course of action. The direct approach would be a 'go directly to jail card' as Tom might have put it. But it could prove to be her only option, for, no matter how good she was at improvisation, there was no way she could sabotage the engines from the Jeffries tubes with only a tricorder at her disposal.
The matter was further complicated by the fact that there were now four people working in Engineering trying to undo the damage that Seven had wrought. B'Elanna sighed, in retrospect maybe it had not been such a good idea for Seven to disable the engines.
Even at warp 1.7 the Resolution would be some distance away before the Risan 'cavalry' arrived to help them. On the other hand had Seven not succeeded, that distance from the planet, and subsequently the time before support was likely to turn up, would have been greatly increased.
As she contemplated how to tackle this situation she suddenly had the urge to smack herself on the head. Why the hell had she not thought of this before! She could have dealt with this problem from the shuttle deck instead of wasting valuable time crawling to engineering.
Damn! She could kick herself for being so stupid, but now was not the time for self-condemnation. She couldn't afford to waste more time. She un- slung her rifle from her shoulder and took careful aim. It had been at least four years since she fired a weapon but with this rifle it would be difficult to miss her target. At least under ordinary circumstances. This time however, she had to aim with the help of the exographic sensor and, even though she had grown quite comfortable with the device during the last few hours, targeting a very specific area was not something she had ever done before.
Activating the bullets' micro transporters with her tricorder, she took very careful aim a few moments later, counting herself lucky that she was an engineer and knew precisely where the weak spots of a warp engine were located. At the same time relying on that the people working in engineering having very healthy levels of self-preservation otherwise she was killing herself along with everybody onboard the vessel.
Snorting, to herself she just knew that these cowards would not even try to erect a containment field around the warp core when the alarms started going off. She was betting that they would eject the core within 30 seconds. That would effectively shut down the Resolution completely. It would also create one hell of a diversion and they would most likely blame the entire thing on Seven's earlier sabotage of the engines.
And when everybody was busy dealing with his or her problems B'Elanna could start looking for other incriminating evidence against the Orion syndicate.
For a short time anyway, her first concerns were for her friend.
Okay, there it was, the matter-anti matter converter. Pop a bullet into that and it would set off a chain reaction that would do some serious damage. The Klingon made her shot, and then fired another immediately after just to be certain, and all hell broke loose on the Resolution.
Alarms blared, people in engineering were shouting, panicked and over the top of the chaotic noise a male computer voice stated: "Warning, core breach imminent. Two minutes until warp core breach. Warning, core breach imminent "
A terrifying thought suddenly hit B'Elanna. What if Seven's encryption codes made it impossible for the ship's engineers to dump the warp core? Why the hell had she not taken that into consideration? How stupid could she get?
Readying herself to jump out of her hiding place to rectify her mistake, she held her breath while one of the Resolution's engineers gave the order to dump the warp core.
His commands worked without a hitch and the core was quickly ejected into empty space. The explosion it made was enough to rock the Resolution severely and B'Elanna was thrown around violently in the confines of the maintenance tunnels.
Realising she would be sporting quite a few bruises within the hour, as well as a nasty gash on her head from hitting the wall none too lightly, B'Elanna nevertheless felt as though she could weep with relief.
Not able to suppress a very heavy sigh of relief B'Elanna continued to berate herself for her stupidity. Her number one objection to helping Seven had been that she did not want Miral to grow up without both parents, and now she had nearly orphaned her daughter herself.
Then a devilish little voice inside her head said: 'But it worked '
It had indeed and better than she had hoped. A grin appeared on the Klingon's face. No sense in crying over spilt milk, at this point all that mattered was that her idea had paid off pretty well.
Moving back through the Jeffries tube, and growing heartily tired of all the crawling, she figured the next thing for her to do was locate either Villamer or Talarum's quarters. Should they have any records of their plans then undoubtedly they would keep them in their private rooms. And if not, it was as good a place as any to start searching.
When the alarms and klaxons started to sound, Seven's questions as to what B'Elanna was doing were partially answered. And when the shock wave caused by the exploding warp core rocked the Resolution she knew precisely what the Klingon had done, if not exactly how.
A satisfied expression appeared on her face and Seven decided that, as everyone was undoubtedly busy trying to figure out what was going on, now would be a good time to join the fray herself.
Under the belief it would be a simple matter to sever the bonds that kept her tied to the chair, Seven surged forward.
"Oungh," came the surprised exhalation as the bonds did not give way. The movement hurt quite a bit as she forcefully rebounded into the chair. Trying and failing again, Seven struggles to free herself became more frantic.
Suddenly a male Seven had not seen before entered the room.
"What the hell did you do to my engines?" he demanded angrily of Seven.
Guessing, correctly, that this man was Talarum, the former Borg deemed him unworthy of a reply. She stopped her struggles and looked passively at him.
His blond shoulder length hair hung in front of his eyes and Seven could barely make out that they were brown. A small nose above average lips made for a pretty unremarkable face.
The male grabbed Seven by the collar of her overalls.
"I asked you a question, Borg! What did you do to my ship?"
Seven simply smirked in his face, completely un-intimidated by the man's anger.
Talarum was now positively radiating fury and for one moment it looked like he was going to hit his captive.
"You are going to regret this, Borg. You are so going to regret this." hissed the man. Letting go of Seven he was about to say something else when he was interrupted by the ship's intercom.
"Bridge to the captain."
Obviously irritated Talarum quickly walked to an intercom unit inside the room, spurred on by the urgency in the speaker's voice.
"What is it Veslek?"
"Sir, sensors have picked up several vessels. At their current speed they will intercept us in approximately two hours."
Smothering an oath Talarum asked a question he already knew the answer to. "Can you identify the vessels?"
"Yes, sir. According to their warp signature they are Starfleet vessels."
"Dammit," he balled his fists, throwing an angry looked at Seven. "How many?"
"Two sir, our files have identified them as the USS Saturn and the USS New Sydney."
Talarum threw another angry look in Seven's direction. He knew that his own associates would not be able to reach them in time to help. With full knowledge that the Resolution couldn't fight off two Starfleet vessels on her own, Talarum decided to cut his losses and abandon ship. He started barking out orders.
"Contact Villamer and have him meet us at the shuttle deck in half an hour with the Borg. Veslek, prepare the shuttle, we are getting out of here. You are piloting."
Veslek was one of the few people in his crew who knew that they were members of the Orion syndicate. And of those few, Veslek was the only Talarum trusted. The man had helped him out of a scrape or two in the past and after that he had started to rely on him more and more.
"Aye sir, I trust you will be joining us as well."
Talarum did not bother to hide the irritation he felt at such a stupid question. "Of course, I just need to get a few things from my quarters and then I will join you there. Now get moving. Oh, and shut those stupid sirens off, I can't think straight with all that blasted noise."
"Aye sir," said Veslek again.
Talarum turned to Seven again and repeated: "You are going to regret coming here bitch. Count on it."
At that he turned around and hurriedly left the room.
Seven let out a sigh. It had not been as easy to control herself as she would have liked. Before, she had been under the impression that she could free herself from the chair whenever she desired but this was not the case. Now she was truly helpless. She was completely dependent on B'Elanna for her rescue and could only wait and hope that it would come in time. And that B'Elanna did not get hurt in the process.
B'Elanna had quickly managed to find Talarum's quarters although she was unaware they were his. The layout of the Resolution appeared to be similar to Voyager's as far as the engineer could determine she had gambled on the fact that the most luxurious quarters would be on deck three, where Captain Janeway's quarters had been located on Voyager.
Keeping tabs on Seven she knew she did not have much time to rummage through the rooms. It had been difficult and time-consuming to gain entrance to the room and then access the computer files, but she figured she had better move her ass over to the shuttle deck in case Seven needed her.
In fact something quite urgently pulled at her to leave these rooms immediately. Not really understanding where those feelings came from B'Elanna decided to heed them and moved towards the door.
Before opening the door the Klingon hybrid used the ETS again to check out the hallway and found a solitary male making his way directly to the quarters she was about to exit.
Frustrated at the delay, but recognising that it would not pay for her to get caught, the half-Klingon woman hurriedly looked around for a place to hide.
Even though the room she was in was fairly large, the furnishing were rather Spartan. The only two places that would conceal her out of line of sight of the man about to enter the room, were a couch and a stylish desk in one corner.
Deciding on the couch, which would give her a better view of the quarters, B'Elanna rushed behind it.
Talarum approached his quarters he in thought. It had seemed such a simple plan when the Ferengi had first approached him with it. The Borg had been in the Alpha Quadrant for four years now and it would only be a matter of time before they would get their hands on the nanoprobes. Their scientists had hypothesised that careful harvesting and adaptation of the nanoprobes would ensure a long and vital life.
But things had not gone as planned. Not only was he about to lose his ship but, thanks to the Ferengi, his connection to the Orion syndicate. Starfleet might not be able to prove anything against him and Villamer but he knew that from now on he would be under constant scrutiny, not only from Starfleet but his Orion associates as well. Members of the Syndicate did not make mistakes such as this and live to tell.
His only ace was that he had the Borg in his possession. The extraction of her nanoprobes would ensure his future in more ways than one.
However before he abandoned ship and went into hiding, he could had to complete a few things to ensure he could run his business in exile. It was imperative he download the information about his slightly less than legal projects into his PADD and erase all trace of the data from the ship's computers.
Not wasting any time, he entered his rooms and walked directly to his workstation. It did not take long for him to complete the transfer to his PADD however, just as he was about to order the computer to delete all record of the files in question, files he heard something hit the floor.
Without hesitation he grabbed his phaser, hidden directly behind the workstation, and fired in the direction from which the sound had come.
B'Elanna cursed silently, manoeuvring behind the couch had loosened the tricorder clipped to her tunic, causing it to fall to the floor. Realising she had given herself away she simply acted and, rising to her feet, aimed her weapon at the man with every intention of ordering him to surrender.
But the male responded as quickly and fired wildly in her general direction. Unfortunately, one shot grazed her left side. Not immediately aware of this B'Elanna dived to the floor and used the only option left to her.
She did not miss, despite the awkwardness of shooting the rifle at such close distance. Several bullets went straight through the human's legs, and he fell to the floor with a loud scream, his phaser landing near his head.
Becoming aware of the fact that she had been hit B'Elanna simply clenched her teeth and hastily made her way to her adversary, who was reaching for his weapon that lay just beyond his reach. With a snarl she kicked it away.
"Who are you?" asked the man, barely maintaining consciousness, his tone revealing utter defeat.
B'Elanna recognized the voice as belonging to Talarum. 'Not bad,' she started grinning.
"I am Seven's partner and when you kidnapped her I became your worst nightmare. You would do well to remember that!"
The half Klingon did not bother to conceal the satisfaction in her voice and the last thing the male saw before he passed out was the terrifyingly fierce expression on the woman's face. He welcomed oblivion.
Despite her hatred for the human male B'Elanna could not find it in herself to let the sleazebag die, also there was the small matter of closing her own wound. It would do neither her nor Seven any good if she were weakened due to blood loss.
Cursing at the loss of precious minutes she walked to the room's replicator. About to verbally order a dermal regenerator she changed her mind at the last minute. Entering her order manually instead, she stripped off the top half of her coverall, eyeing with distaste the left side of the material that was now soaked with blood.
The phaser shot had really only nicked her and, in her opinion, it was not bleeding that hard, but the condition of her clothing made the wound appear more serious than it actually was. Not to mention the fact that it made her garments stick to her skin, a feeling she had never enjoyed..
For a second she considered replicating new clothes but immediately shrugged it of as unimportant.
Kneeling down beside Talarum she fixed his wounds just enough to stop the bleeding. Since her medical knowledge did not extend much beyond the use of a dermal regenerator it was all she could do.
And when she used the regenerator on herself a minute later she was glad the doctor was not there to comment on her skills. They still were not much better than those of a first-year student nurse.
After doing the best first-aid she could on herself and Talarum she replicated the necessary materials and secured her still unconscious opponent to his workstation, his hands fastened behind his back and his mouth gagged. She did not truly believe he posed any threat but she was not willing to take the chance. It would not do for him to give verbal orders to the computer and call for help when he woke up.
Even without Seven's ability to keep track of time, sometimes she believed the Borg woman had an inbuilt chronometer, B'Elanna knew time was running out. She had to get back to the shuttle deck.
Crawling through the Jeffries tubes again was not an option, she was too far away. Simply walking through the corridors wouldn't work either. After a warp core breach, red alerts and two Starfleet vessels in pursuit security would definitely be on their toes.
That left only one option. An unauthorised transportation would surely set off more alarms but, if she timed it just right it would also create a useful diversion. That would help her and Seven to disable Seven's guards, grab a shuttle and get the hell out of there. Maybe she could programme the transporters to initiate a few false transports that would certainly confuse the Resolution's crew.
B'Elanna put the ETS to her eye again to check on Seven. Ascertaining that her friend was still alone and in the same room, she sat herself behind Talarum's workstation. She accessed it to try and determine how difficult it would be to activate the transporters from there.
It proved to be tricky, even for her, but not impossible.
She wished she could just transport herself and Seven to the shuttle deck, grab a shuttle and fly the hell out of there. Unfortunately she did not see how she could sabotage the Resolution's transporter systems before Villamer could use them himself to simply beam Seven back. She just could not risk it. She probably could have figured something out if she had more time but that was not the case.
Her eyes fell on the PADD Talarum had been holding and curiously she picked it up. She started browsing through its contents, all the while keeping an ear on Seven. When the contents became clear to her, the Klingon bowed sarcastically towards the unconscious male. "Why thank you so kindly, dear sir, for giving me exactly what I came her for."
She put the PADD under her shirt, wincing as it came in contact with her sensitive left side. Then her attention was drawn back to Seven as she heard voices over the sub dermal communicator.
As Seven heard the distinct sounds of both phaser and rifle fire through her sub dermal communicator her attempts to get out of the chair became frantic. What was happening to B'Elanna? The only thing that kept her from breaking their agreement not to contact each other was the fear it would distract B'Elanna from whatever she was doing.
Seven was discovering that it was far easier to be physically involved in a dangerous situation yourself, than stuck somewhere not knowing what was happening, especially when you were helpless to free yourself.
At that moment a man walked into the room and put something on a small side table that stood close by Seven's chair. The former drone turned a fraction of her attention to the young man but never once let her awareness shift from her half Human engineer. And as the young man just stood there looking curiously at her but saying absolutely nothing Seven ignored him completely and focused on the communicator.
She recognised Talarum's pain filled voice as he asked: "Who are you?"
Never had she heard anything sweeter than B'Elanna's voice when the Klingon answered. However Seven was a Borg and details never eluded her. She could tell from a very slight quaver in her friend's voice, that probably only she would ever pick up, that something was wrong with B'Elanna. And there was nothing she could do but hope it was nothing serious. She would never forgive herself.
Then the Klingon's words hit her and Seven could not stop a beatific smile from appearing on her face as she realised just what B'Elanna had said.
'I am Seven's partner.'
It did not last longer than a few moments before Seven concluded that B'Elanna probably only meant that they were partners in this particular venture. But for a few blissful seconds Seven had experienced true happiness.
Watching as Seven's face expressed such depths of emotion the young man who was still standing by her side became entrance by the woman's beauty. He was supposed to wait here for Villamer and subsequently had ample time to look at their captive.
Veslek wondered what had caused the Borg to smile so angelically. He could say without a doubt that she was the most heavenly creature he had ever seen. He was absolutely captivated by the woman.
As her expression became one of sadness he was actually tempted to try and comfort her, but at that moment Villamer arrived. The man was in an undisguised hurry as he demanded: "Did you bring the items I requested?"
Veslek did not speak, afraid that his distaste for his boss would clearly show through his voice, but simply nodded at the items he had placed on the side table.
Villamer ran his tricorder over the objects, everything appeared to be there. The Resolution's First Officer had passed his little test. Maybe Veslek's earlier stuff-ups were genuine mistakes after all. He had brought all the relevant materials with him himself as well just in case the man thought to double-cross him. He also had a few personal guards standing outside the room as additional back-up.
Finally he turned his attention to Seven. "Well my dear it seems we are going on a little trip in one of the shuttles. I am afraid we can't have you trying anything that would upset our plans further."
At those words he picked up the hypo-spray that Veslek had put on the side table. "This is a very useful drug. It won't make you sleep, it won't drug your mind but you will be unable to resist any orders people give you."
Becoming irritated with the fact the Borg bitch still did not show any fear of him, something that had never happened before, he started to press the hypo-spray to Seven's neck.
Seven might not show her fear, she would be damned before she gave him that satisfaction, but she still felt it. Nevertheless, as the hypo spray touched her neck, she looked her captor straight in his eyes, taunting him.
For a second Seven indeed lost control over her own body, she was unable to even blink her eyes. The sensation lasted only a few moments, before Seven felt she could command her own muscles again. She was confused but decided to wait and see what happened.
Villamer ordered Veslek to untie the Borg. This was the opportunity he had been waiting for. His boss turned around and walked to the door, calling in his guards. Veslek bent over Seven and whispered,
"Please play along until we reach the shuttle. Our chances will be better there."
Seven gave no indication she heard the man, not trusting him one bit. She would do whatever she had to.