DISCLAIMER: See Part 1
B'Elanna's rage finally got the better of her. She was seeing through a red haze as she flung herself at the retreating Ferengi.
"B'Elanna no!" yelled Seven but it was too late. The Klingon hit the force field and was thrown back, quite effectively. Seven was instantly at her side but the dark haired woman did not notice her, immediately scrambling back to her feet.
The shock had penetrated her fury and she started thinking clearly again. Those dogs had killed Tom! They would be smart to start writing their wills because time was running out for them. Their deaths would be long and painful. Afterwards, she would feed their remains to the meekest Targ she could find.
Suddenly, something else Nunk had said penetrated her awareness. Tom had been killed because Seven loved her?
For a moment her anger directed itself at the Borg. That was until she noticed Seven looking worriedly at her. Still sitting at the same spot where she'd been thrown a moment earlier.
Seven loved her? The astonishment she felt at this revelation momentarily made her forget her anger. The Ferengi lied! It was too preposterous to be true. A fantasy designed to toy with them. It had to be!
Just then Seven looked her in the eye. What B'Elanna saw in the clear blue gaze made her pause. A mass of feelings flickered across the ex-borg's features before Seven retreated behind an emotionless mask. Guilt, sorrow, anger but also.
`O God, she loves me,' the anger that had threatened to direct itself at the Borg an instant before drained away. In fact, at that moment, her anger was almost completely gone. Replaced by. Replaced by what? `I cannot deal with this right now,' thought a confused B'Elanna. Too much was happening simultaneously. There would be enough time to handle this later. When they got out of here she would. well, she did not know what she would do.
Exhausted, she leaned against the wall and slid down till she sat next to her friend.
"I am sorry, B'Elanna," whispered an equally worn out ex-drone.
"It's not your fault, Seven," answered B'Elanna tiredly. She really did not want to talk at that moment, but Seven obviously needed to. And there was no retreat possible from their current positions. Damn those dogs.
"I am responsible for your husband being killed, you were kidnapped because of me. I have damaged you. How can you say it is not my fault?" Seven wanted to believe the words she heard, but she could not.
B'Elanna looked at Seven again. What she saw touched something inside her, even though she was only remotely aware of it. She raised herself so that she was squatting next to the blonde, tentatively putting her hand on Seven's shoulder.
"No Seven, listen to me. Those dogs tried to kidnap you before and they were willing to kill Voyager's entire crew. THEY killed Tom. They have no conscience. Surely you know that."
Seven did not look convinced.
B'Elanna sighed inwardly. Why could her life never be easy? Just a simple existence with friends and family, was that really too much to ask for?
"Seven, I know I treated you pretty badly when we were on Voyager. But I never lied to you. You do know that, don't you?"
Confused, Seven nodded. Like herself, B'Elanna was scrupulously honest. Of course she knew that. It was one of many things she admired about the Klingon.
"Then believe me when I tell you that you are not to blame. Those verengan petaQ are." B'Elanna almost spat out those last words. "I mean it Seven, those goons are to blame and they are going to pay dearly for it."
Seven believed B'Elanna did not blame her, and it relieved her no end, but she still blamed herself. The Klingon saw her friend struggle with herself and wished she could do more. Her anger, simmering while she was trying to comfort Seven, reasserted itself fully.
There was a way to make Seven feel better about herself, and that was to get even. Looking around their small holding cell, B'Elanna slowly took in their surroundings. With all that had been happening to them, she had not had the opportunity to really do so before.
The room in which they were being held had not been designed as a holding cell. It looked very much like her old quarters on Voyager. It was approximately six metres long and four metres wide. The room held no furniture, only two standard sized consoles; one near a window with blinds and the other in the centre of the room. The room was brightly illuminated, but the well-lit décor was not designed to raise spirits. The carpeting was grey, as were the walls and ceiling.
After scanning the room, B'Elanna turned her attention to their prison. Now, she noticed what would have been instantly apparent had their situation been less stressful. They were being held in the left side of the room, away from the window, and their cell had all the signs of a makeshift job. There were three force field emitters. Two were located to the side of the force field, against opposing walls. The third was located on the floor.
B'Elanna looked at Seven, or more precisely at Seven's Borg-enhanced left hand. She felt a grim satisfaction take hold of her when she heard Seven say,
"You have a plan."
It wasn't a question.
"Do you think this room is bugged?" B'Elanna asked Seven softly unwilling to reveal her idea to concealed listening devices.
Glad to focus on something different for a change Seven answered: "They appear very certain of themselves, therefore it is unlikely they have taken such measures. They are fools."
B'Elanna grinned wolfishly, "My thoughts exactly. Now here is what we are going to do."
The hours passed. After B'Elanna explained her idea to Seven there wasn't much for either of them to do. The Klingon did some exercises, as much as their cell allowed, and Seven settled herself in a corner again. Her emotions were a mixed up jumble, she was not quite certain how to handle. She had taken B'Elanna's words to heart, finding comfort in them. She wanted to talk more to her friend, as much as she wanted to avoid it. She wished she could read the Klingon's thoughts and find out what B'Elanna felt for her. Things were just so very confusing at the moment.
The door whooshed open and B'Elanna immediately stopped her exercise. Sharing a quick look with Seven, they retreated to the back of their cell.
Their plan depended on making sure the Ferengi continued feeling confident and so they avoided doing anything that might raise suspicion. B'Elanna had figured that sooner or later they would be fed again and that would be their opportunity. As luck would have it Yeggie did indeed carry two trays loaded with food.
Yeggie had been ordered by Nunk not to talk to their prisoners anymore. However he could not help but gawk at the two beautiful females. Laughing stupidly at his captives in the mistaken belief that this would be aviably charming alternative to conversation, he quickly walked in that peculiar Ferengi gait towards the closest console and programmed a small part of the force field to open. Without any comment he bent down to place the food on the floor and started pushing the trays forward.
Like lightning both B'Elanna and Seven shot forward. B'Elanna dove to the floor swiftly grabbing Yeggie's wrist in an iron-like grip through the opening. The startled Ferengi began screaming like a pig being slaughtered, the sounds hurting the Klingon's ears so much she almost let go. But even though the Ferengi pig tried to pull his arm free, she held it locked in place.
At the same moment B'Elanna dove to the floor so did Seven. As swiftly as her friend had grabbed her target, Seven thrust her left arm through the opening. Her Borg assimilation tubes sprung forth and quickly found their way to the force field emitter on the floor. Within seconds she had disabled its power source and a large part of the force field went down. It was more than enough for the two of them to escape their prison.
Unfortunately for Yeggie, the force field in front of his face did not disappear. In her anger B'Elanna made good on her earlier promise to herself. However, lacking a bulkhead she tried to pull the Ferengi through the force field instead, knowing full well it would only knock him out. Within moments his squealing stopped. To B'Elanna, the reverberating thud as he hit the floor sounded very satisfying.
By then Seven was moving towards the door and was through it before her friend had a chance to react. Uttering an oath, B'Elanna scrambled to her feet and hurried after her.
`What had gotten into the woman? Seven was not normally so impulsive, was she? The gods only knew what or who else was on this vessel. They needed a plan before rushing out.'
Reaching the door in three rapid steps she was about to step through when Seven beat her to it, coming from the other direction. Barely avoiding a head on collision with the shorter woman, Seven grabbed B'Elanna and swung her to the right. That way she effectively set her friend on the floor next to the door.
"What?" said a confused B'Elanna. Seven urgently gestured for her to be quiet and hurriedly positioned herself against the wall at the left side of the door.
B'Elanna took the hint and remained motionless when the door opened yet again.
"What is going on here Yeggie? What is it with all the screaming?" Nunk asked but he did not enter the room. Unbeknownst to the women, he held a weapon in front of him.
Very aware of the Ferengi's keen hearing, B'Elanna and Seven dared not even breathe lest they give away their positions. Not that the haughty male had overly impressed them but they would not make the mistake of underestimating him.
Nunk wearily took a step forward. He strained his ears to their limit, yet could not hear a thing other than Yeggie's breathing. Then he suddenly saw his cousin lying on the floor and a jolt of fear went through him. He concluded that his former captives were no longer in this room and took another cautious step forward.
At that moment B'Elanna started to breathe again. The sudden sound caused Nunk to turn his attention to his right. It was the moment Seven had been waiting for. With one swing of her powerful left arm she took revenge for all this petaQ had put them through.
In his surprise, Nunk reflexively triggered his weapon, but mercifully the beam went wide of B'Elanna. It did destroy the second console near the window, but neither B'Elanna nor Seven cared about that.
Shortly after, Nunk and Yeggie were safely stowed in the same place the women had been held only moments earlier. Seven had fixed the energy emitter and it was working perfectly again.
The former captives had done a quick but thorough search of the vessel they'd suddenly been taken to. The two Ferengi were the only other occupants on board a small cargo vessel.
Besides two cargo bays, the vessel consisted of an engine room, two sets of crew quarters, a small mess, bathing facilities and the bridge. The two women had indeed been held in one of the crew quarters which the males had turned into a makeshift prison.
Currently, the two of them were sitting on the bridge. The set-up was very much like the Delta Flyer. The helm was situated in the front right with an extra station to the left. An engineering and ops station were behind them.
Taking the helm seat, B'Elanna checked their present position and heading. To her surprise they were heading for Risa, the pleasure planet. At warp 8.5 they were only eight hours away from their destination. For a cargo vessel, this little ship had some pretty powerful engines.
With a quick command B'Elanna switched off the engines. She turned her seat to the left where Seven was sitting. Without having to ask, she knew Seven had already accessed the same information she had.
"Now what?" she asked the former drone.
Seven looked her over intently and for some unknown reason the Klingon found herself getting hot. For a few moments she had forgotten the things she had recently found out about Seven. About to say that she had meant what to do after their escape, and nothing else, Seven spoke first.
"I suggest we take a shower?"
B'Elanna blinked; that had been the last answer she expected. She looked herself over, and then did the same to Seven, and grinned. When the two of them had dived to the floor to escape their jail, they had slid straight into the food trays. Only now did she notice that the food, which had been intended to be eaten by them, had instead ended up all over them. Luckily would have it, it had been a cold dish of some description. However the odour that it was starting to emit was definitely reason for a shower.
B'Elanna grinned, "Right, a quick shower. Then we decide what we are going to do next."
After the shower and some palatable food, B'Elanna sat down in front of the helm again. Wasting no more time, she started programming a course back to Earth. As her fingers flew over the navigation controls, they were suddenly stopped by Seven who put her hand on top of B'Elanna's.
"Seven, what are you doing?" Fearing yet again that the former drone was about to start a conversation she was by no means ready for, she slowly extracted her hand from under Seven's. `Jeez B'Elanna, since when did you turn into such a coward?' The Klingon-Human hybrid was starting to feel a bit disgusted with herself, and not a little confused, because how she was reacting to the Borg did not feel bad at all. And her husband had only been dead for eight weeks! Still confused, she turned her attention back to her controls only to find Seven's hand still there.
Noticing B'Elanna's reaction Seven could not stop a flash of pain from shooting through her. B'Elanna's saw this, and it made her feel like an absolute pig.
Seven felt the last sliver of hope for any possible relationship with the love of her life fly away. It hurt more than she had ever thought possible. However it was not the time to focus on that now. Later, she would cry and deal with her emotions, but not now.
The reason she had stopped the Klingon from changing their course had not been to start a conversation about her emotions. She said, "We cannot go back to Earth just yet."
Not expecting this reply, B'Elanna frowned. "What do you mean? Of course we are going back. We have to let everyone know we are all right. I want to see Miral and we have to take those Ferengi swine into custody. Besides, I do not want to go to Risa simply to alert Star Fleet. We'll just be detained there for days, being questioned by every officer and their aunt. Sorry, but I would just as soon go through the red tape back on Earth. At least there, Miral and Doc will be close by."
"Do you not wish to get revenge on the people who did this to us?" countered Seven.
B'Elanna started to say that they already had the Ferengi, even though she knew full well whom Seven referred to.
She already had the two Ferengi who had murdered her husband. The sooner they were handed over to the proper authorities the sooner things could get back to normal. Argh, that was not what she wanted to do at all. She wanted to fling herself at the people who had caused her so much pain. What she wanted was to rip the hearts out of the Ferengi's associates, to break one bone for each tear they had caused her little daughter to shed. The rebel Maquis she had been so many years before wanted to take over from the dutiful, rulebound woman she had become. But the simple truth was she could not in good conscience endanger herself. She had Miral to think about.
Seven waited patiently for B'Elanna's response. She knew about the woman's devotion to her daughter and sympathised with her. Nevertheless it was of the utmost importance that they go to Risa. They would go to Risa! She would brook no argument on that. Her only regret was that there was no safe place to drop the dark-haired hybrid off before reaching Risa. She had unwittingly endangered the woman once, and now she was going to do it knowingly. She could not see any other choice. She realised that once she convinced B'Elanna to go, the feisty engineer would not keep to the background.
"I am sorry Seven but all I really want is to go back home."
"I realize that. It is not my intention to keep you away from Miral. However, we are near Risa now. I have just looked through the Ferengi's logs. I know whom they were going to meet and I know where. We now have an excellent opportunity to catch them in the act."
"Seven, there are proper authorities for that. Let them cope with this mess."
Seven wanted to sigh in frustration. Where was the Klingon warrior eager for a fight when you needed her? "They will be alerted as soon as we have contacted the authorities. We will not be able to find them again."
B'Elanna started to waver. Those vermin had not done the actual kidnapping but they were undoubtedly involved. Hell if it had not been for them none of this mess would ever have happened. Anger started to replace reason again inside the Klingon. She wanted, no. needed to get the bastards. Then an image of Miral flashed through her mind and with it her anger subsided to manageable proportions.
"I thought you were a warrior, not a. a. a lapdog." Seven did her best to infuriate the Klingon, to get her fighting spirit into gear. However, she was not very successful. Not only was it difficult for her to even pretend irritation with B'Elanna these days, it also hurt Seven to intentionally antagonise the beautiful Klingon.
After a very brief flash of annoyance B'Elanna shook her head. It really was impossible for her to get angry with Seven at the moment. "Sorry Seven, but that strategy won't work."
B'Elanna was even mildly amused at Seven's attempt to get her cooperation. Several years ago, the smallest comment from Seven had been enough to set her off. Now a deliberate attempt was only cause for a brief surge of irritation.
Seven's expression became even more serious. "Then maybe this will. They have already made it clear, through the Ferengi, that they were willing to kill for my nanoprobes. What is there to stop them from trying again? What if they use you against me again? Or maybe even Miral? What if the next time they don't send a couple of incompetent Ferengi? We have to stop them now, once and for all."
She had B'Elanna now. The Klingon nodded her head in submission. The idea of someone possibly hurting her daughter to get at her friend, frightened her more than she cared to admit. Seven was right. They needed to go after these people and take them out of business. Now that she had made that decision she was ready for action.
"Okay, you've convinced me. What do we do next?"
Seven nodded, glad it had not taken that long to persuade the Klingon to cooperate. She turned towards the ops-station and beckoned B'Elanna to follow.
"The Ferengi were truly careless. They did not even bother to mask the identities of their `associates'. The names of their contacts are Talarum and Villamer. Both Humans and it is also apparent they have connections with the Orion syndicate."
B'Elanna took a deep breath of air: 'The Orion syndicate? They were going up against the most powerful crime organisation in the Quadrant?' The adrenaline kicked in and a determined smile appeared on her face. It really had been a long time since she had faced such high odds. And this time she would do so with the smartest, most beautiful woman in the galaxy at her side. For a second B'Elanna faltered. `Where had that thought come from?'
Then Seven punched a button at the ops station and her attention was drawn to the Ferengi's logs.
An hour later B'Elanna got tired of reading about the Ferengi's grand schemes of capturing Seven and incidentally herself. She recognised that the logs contained enough information to send dozens of people to Federation correctional facilities. So many people had been involved.
"All right Seven, now we know why, who, when and where. This just leaves the how. How do we handle this? We cannot just approach them and knock on their doors to announce ourselves."
Seven simply raised her eyebrow.
"Come on Seven. Not even I would be stupid enough to go in there blind. They are the Orion syndicate. They probably have the best security money can buy. It's not as if they won't know we are near the moment this vessel enters Risan space. Hell, this ship does not even have anything in the way of weapons."
Seven just smirked as she made her way to the helm. Activating the engines, she laid in a course for Risa. With the smirk still playing on her face she turned to B'Elanna. "I do not know the how yet but we still have seven hours, twenty-one minutes and eleven seconds to come up with a functioning plan."
B'Elanna rolled her eyes but Seven's smirk was contagious and she started laughing. "Well then we had better hurry, by now those eleven seconds are up. Keep an eye on things here will ya. I'm going to check out the rest of the ship. Maybe I can find something useful."
The first thing B'Elanna did when she arrived at Cargo Bay One was check the shipment manifest. The goods listed there appeared to be harmless. For some reason the engineer did not believe that if she were to check the cargo pods she would actually find what was recorded on the inventory.
Only one of the pods was listed as empty. She surmised that it was the cargo pod in which she and Seven had been held when they had first been transported to the Ferengi's ship.
For a second, B'Elanna played with the idea of transporting the Ferengi to that dark place, but thought better of it.
The bay was mostly empty. The majority of the pods present were located at the far end of the hold. Making her way to the first pod B'Elanna's eye fell on a tricorder that was hanging among several other tools on the wall. The fact that it was Ferengi technology was no problem for B'Elanna's quick mind.
Stacked two layers high in a single row along the back wall, it was a simple matter to scan the pods with her tricorder. According to the tricorder there was nothing in them. However the cargo manifest maintained that they were full of agricultural tools. B'Elanna had a hunch that something inside the pods was preventing the tricorder from registering anything useful. Briefly she wondered what type of dampening field was in use, but did not have time to check it out.
Sighing, she decided to just use more forceful methods. Taking out Nunk's phaser, which she had appropriated, she simply destroyed the locking mechanisms. When she opened the first pod she saw the largest supply of Romulan Ale she had ever seen. The pod above contained the same contraband. 'Well boys,' she thought at the imprisoned Ferengi, 'You have just bought yourselves an extra year in the Federation penal system.' Other than this the ale was of little interest to her and she quickly continued her search.
Most of the pods proved to contain goods that were of no consequence. However thirty minutes into her search, nearing the end of the first bay, she finally found something useful.
`And here I was thinking the ship had no weapons on board.' With some amazement B'Elanna looked in the pod she had just opened, almost every type of hand weapon known to her was on display. Just like in a jewellers' shop window. She even thought she recognised some projectile weapons. She wondered exactly how the Ferengi had managed to hide this bounty from Earth's security measures. Never mind that. B'Elanna was reasonably certain that they could make good use of some of these weapons.
Finishing her search of the first cargo bay, the Klingon found a communication panel and contacted Seven. She gave a brief run down of what she had found so far. In return, Seven told her that she had been studying more of Nunk's logs and that she had learned what type of vessel Talarum owned. It could prove significant in any plan they made.
To save as much of their remaining time as possible, Seven urged B'Elanna to check out Cargo Bay Two as soon as possible. Agreeing, the woman made her way to the upper bay via a small iron stairway.
Cargo Bay Two was empty except for a small spacecraft. B'Elanna was no spacecraft designer, but through her work over the years she'd attained enough experience to recognise a vessel built for speed, and lots of it.
Briefly B'Elanna thought about contacting Seven again but decided to check the ship out first. Circling the vessel with her tricorder it did not take much time. The sleek ship was approximately five metres long and it appeared that the majority of it was engines.
The ship reminded her of something. Where had she seen it, ah, now she remembered. An old picture of Tom's, portraying an ancient aircraft from Earth's 20th century, what had he called it? An F16 or something?
That's what this machine reminded her of, only much more compact.
Standing under one of the wings, she noticed that this little beauty boasted something the cargo vessel did not. Located on the wingtip was the business end of one very powerful phaserbank.
Climbing onto the wing she opened the bubble canopy. The vessel had two seats situated one behind the other. B'Elanna climbed into the front seat and accessed the controls for information on the ship's capabilities.
A low whistle escaped her as she read the schematics displayed before her. The ship could maintain warp 9.975 for 48 hours straight. Its shielding was better than half the vessels in Starfleet. Suddenly the half Human started laughing. 'All engine indeed!' The little vessel was probably a smuggler's ship. With room for a substantial amount of contraband.
'I hope we can come up with someway to use this baby. I would feel a lot safer in it than onboard this cargo vessel. A lot less conspicuous as well.' At least it was good to know they did have some tools to play with now. All they needed now was a workable plan. 'Maybe Seven has found something else that could be of use in the Ferengi's logs.'
Mik Mikilim was a man rapidly losing interest in his job. When he had first been offered the opportunity to work on Risa he had jumped at the chance. Everybody knew that the most influential people in the galaxy spent their vacations on Risa. If he could manage to establish connections with them his life would be the more exciting for it. And lacking that he was certain he would have a ball with hundreds of beautiful colleagues whom undoubtedly would succumb to his charm.
Gods but he had been one cocky bastard back then. The 'influential' people mostly proved to lack any substance, and the ones that weren't shallow and frivolous were usually gone before he had a chance to get to know them.
However by the time he had come to this realisation he had completely alienated his co-workers. While he had sucked up to the rich folk he had looked down at his co-workers for not wanting to better themselves and now they wanted very little to do with him. He discovered that now he had this reputation it was almost impossible to lose it.
Mik sighed, none of his wonderful dreams had come true. Not even his actual job was very fascinating. It Was Boring.
His job basically consisted of informing incoming vessels of the position of their allocated docking space. The computers were responsible for the actual docking process, assigning ports based on the type of vessel coming in. The reason he passed on most of the information by voice instead of relying completely on the computers was due to Risan policy. The Risan's wanted to make everybody feel as welcome and comfortable as possible. And most species preferred to deal with real people instead of impersonal computers.
When his job had been new it had been interesting enough. Even though his contact with others had been superficial, in his letters to his family he could boast about meeting all kinds of big shots. He had seen admirals, planetary leaders, even Grand Negus Zek had once walked past him. However that had been long ago.
He spent his entire shift alone and nothing of significance ever happened. If he did not get the transfer he'd asked for soon, he would quit and move back to Mars.
Suddenly his console chirped. Checking it, he was surprised to see he was receiving a message. That in itself was not too strange, but this message came from an anonymous source. Nor was it directed to anyone specific, just to Risa Planetary Control. Curiously, and not knowing what else to do, he decided to play the message. Then he could decide what to do next.
The message was scrambled and audio only.
"To Risa Planetary Control. In approximately one hour a cargo vessel will enter into Risan orbit. This vessel, registration number DFEG-4545, carries large quantities of Romulan ale and a collection of weapons of various types. You would do well to board this vessel and apprehend its occupants. The ship's owners are Ferengi who were on their way to rendezvous with the owners of the vessel, Resolution. According to the Ferengi's logs their associates are connected to the Orion syndicate. To prevent their escape I am going after them as you receive this communication. Please send assistance as soon as you hear this message."
Mik replayed the message once to be certain he had heard everything correctly. Then he quickly contacted his superiors.
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