DISCLAIMER: Yes, Paramount owns it all - I am just having some fun with their characters.
SERIES: This story is third in the R series, following Resistance and Retribution
WARNING: This bit is dark! Even by my standards. It's not graphic but the undertones, well - let's just say 'disturbing' is probably not strong enough. However it's not gratuitous, and it is to develop the story.
FEEDBACK: Yes please, I wouldn't post otherwise.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Rebelgirl

Part Two

The walk down the corridor was done in silence. Guards flanked each prisoner and there were further guards to lead the way and follow behind the two women. Only the syncopated footfalls and the creak of the guards' leather armour made any sound as it echoed through the long corridor.

B'Elanna quickly gave up trying to steal glances to her lover. The guard that separated them was proving to be an effective barrier and he managed to emphasise a feeling of isolation that was slowly creeping through the dark engineer. An icy feeling of dread was filling her as the distance to the Moderator's workshop steadily decreased. It was by now a familiar journey for her, but she wondered if Seven recalled the layout of the prison and if the tall blonde realised exactly where they were headed.

Instinctively, the engineer looked round again, and her lip curled in barely restrained frustration as once more, she was denied a view of Seven. Sighing loudly, B'Elanna focused on the next corner, trying to mentally prepare herself for what could happen once they got to the Moderator. She knew it was a futile exercise; no amount of Vulcan meditation or Maquis single-minded objectivity would stop her from reacting to whatever he did to Seven. She was also honest enough to admit to herself that she would rather be injured herself than see Seven get hurt. After the emotional display that had occurred on her return to the prison cell, the brunette was convinced that Seven felt the same way. B'Elanna knew the Moderator well enough now to know that it was exactly that reaction he was hoping to provoke.

As the door to the Moderator's domain neared, B'Elanna adjusted her path to walk up to it. She was surprised when she careened into one of the guards flanking her and realised that they were not headed for the rooms where she had been tortured. She looked up at the guard and frowned as he gestured for her to continue, shoving her on roughly as her footsteps faltered in confusion.

"Keep going, filth," the tall man ordered.

B'Elanna stumbled slightly, but the change in pace gave her an opportunity to see Seven at last and she gave the taller woman a reassuring smile before recovering her footing and continuing on the journey.

Seven saw B'Elanna stumble after being pushed and automatically quickened her pace to close the distance between them. Immediately, the men reacted and forced the distance to increase once again. In the few seconds that the blonde had been able to see her lover however, she had seen B'Elanna smile at her. She instantly returned a similar gaze, amazed that even under such difficult circumstances, B'Elanna was still more concerned with Seven's well being than her own. The Astrometrics officer was experiencing similar thoughts. She was well aware of the layout of the prison, her eidetic memory giving her perfect recall, and had been quietly dreading each step that took them closer to the Moderator's room.

She could only imagine what B'Elanna was going through, having already made the same journey on several occasions. She was having enough difficulty maintaining her own composure and focus. The closer they got to their destination, the more worried she became. She knew that there was every chance she would do something rash and dangerous if she witnessed B'Elanna being tortured. She dismissed any fears for her own safety. She would endure anything if it deflected the Moderator's attention away from her lover. Seven knew that B'Elanna would have the same feelings, but Seven firmly believed that she had already suffered enough. Her concern for the older woman escalated as she saw the door that led to the torturer, and she had been as surprised as B'Elanna when the guards led them past.

Her determined resoluteness to maintain control had wavered slightly when she saw the brunette engineer stumble and she stepped forward, trying to minimize the distance between them and try and reduce the feeling of isolation that had been steadily seeping through her. The guards quickly intercepted the manoeuvre, and within seconds, the distance between them was restored. Seven calmed herself by surveying the corridors carefully, trying to glean any sort of clue to their whereabouts, as they were now heading deeper into the penal complex. Seven had not been here before and she was determined to catalogue anything that could help with their survival.

To add to the building sense of dread, the lighting along the new corridor was poorer, and both Seven and B'Elanna suspected that it was a deliberate attempt to intimidate them further. B'Elanna admitted to herself that it was succeeding.

Out of the gloom, a set of double doors became visible and unconsciously the women slowed their pace, picking it up again at the insistence of the guards who prodded them in the back with their weapons. The tall man that led the way was also the one that opened the doors, pushing them with a dramatic flourish before standing to one side and gesturing them to enter. His act of opening the doors allowed the light from the room to flood the corridor and B'Elanna and Seven squinted until their eyes adjusted to the change in luminescence. Once again, they were nudged forward and they stepped into a large, white walled room that had been subdivided by a thick, transparent polymer barrier. On one side of the window wall, there was a set of workbenches with white cloths draped almost elegantly over them. Each table displayed a variety of shiny hand-held implements and Seven could only guess what their purpose was. There were four distinctive sets, seemingly marked by a colour-coded panel displayed on the wall above them. Seven had a deep sense of dread that B'Elanna was already aware of their functions as she heard the engineer draw a sharp intake of breath.

In the centre of the other room was a large dark brown chair, shaped to make any occupant lie almost recumbent. On the arm rests and foot of the chair were wide straps and there were other restraints spaced evenly along the frame of the chair. Above the chair was a cluster of illuminations that spot lit the chair starkly, and Seven suspected would be extremely uncomfortable to look at for long periods of time.

Seven turned her attention to the section of the room in which they currently stood. It too had stark white walls, but on the rear wall, facing the window was a series of metal and leather bindings, all with adjustable fastenings. From her initial inspection, the ex- drone deduced that it would be possible to restrain every limb securely, as well as the torso, head and neck, assuming that the detainee was a humanoid biped.

Seven had barely formed that conclusion before being seized by two guards and led to the restraints. Her eyes widened and immediately she resisted their grip and tried to pull free. She succeeded with one of the men and managed to backhand him with vicious satisfaction. Without even waiting to watch him fall, she turned her attention to the other guard but was distracted as another man swung his rifle at her face. Instinctively, she ducked away from the blow and returned a punch aimed at the centre of his face. She was satisfied to hear a definite crunch as her fist landed and see the man's head snap back, a look of pain etched across his broken features.

Seeing that Seven had been grabbed, B'Elanna immediately sprung into action and swung a fist at the guard closest to her and sent him flying, before leaping at one of the men holding her lover. She got no further than gripping his shirt before she felt a jolt of energy course through her and she fell instantly to the ground, her muscles trembling as she felt the effects of the agonising blast.

Seven heard B'Elanna cry out and was instantly focused on her lover. She saw her convulsing on the ground and immediately struck out at the instigator of the punishment. Even as she connected, she felt an impulse of energy wave through her, and she too fell to the ground, clenching her teeth as the shock ripped agonisingly through her implants. Unable to resist further, Seven found herself hauled to her feet and dragged over to the restraints. The tall ex-drone was spun round roughly before being shoved against the wall by two of the guards. A third guard quickly fastened the torso restraints before concentrating on her limbs, splaying her legs wide before securing them at the ankles, knees and thighs. He then forced her arms out horizontally and flat against the wall before tightening the straps and metallic cuffs at her wrists, elbows and shoulders.

The guard then straightened and looked at his captive malevolently. Seven noted dispassionately that her blow had indeed broken the guard's nose. He paused for a moment, staring at her with his face just inches from her own, and then unexpectedly head butted her.

Seven's head snapped back at the blow, hitting the wall and adding to the pain her head was already experiencing. She felt a warm trickle moving slowly over her lip and realised that her nose was bleeding. She raised an enhanced eyebrow at the guard. "I hope that satisfies your macho ego. Though drawing blood from someone who has no way to defend herself seems a hollow victory."

The guard snarled, his dark blue eyes blazing with fury and he drew back a fist to strike Seven again. His anger rose as he saw no reaction from the captive woman, but his eyes widened suddenly and he let out a yelp of surprise as he collapsed to the floor.

"Leave her alone," B'Elanna snarled. She had recovered enough to swing a foot round and kick the guard in the back of the knee and now she sat up, ready to defend herself again.

"I think that will be enough for now." The guards immediately straightened to attention as the Moderator's cool tones cut through the tension.

The blond man strode through the doors, a look of anger clearly etched on his features. "Pick her up," he ordered abruptly, nodding at B'Elanna. He walked over to where Seven stood immobile. "Seven. An interesting denomination," he mused as he studied the woman before him.

"I doubt you have any interest in my background," Seven replied coldly, her eyes flicking between her interrogator and B'Elanna.

"Oh but I do," the Moderator disputed. "You have bionic implants all over a humanoid frame. I wonder at their purpose. I suspect that they are stronger than any biological material, but that then leads me to consider how I can exploit its weaknesses. It's not the same as conquering a person's spirit, a person's will. But I think it could have possibilities." He ran a thumb gently over Seven's top lip, wiping away the blood that had leaked from her nose. His smile widened as he heard a growl from behind him but he didn't turn round. "You know," he whispered conspiratorially, "I think I'm going to have a very satisfactory day today."

Seven immediately struggled, straining against the bindings that kept her secure against the wall.

The Moderator ignored her and instead turned his focus to B'Elanna. "Feeling protective? Isn't that sweet," he mused with a smile.

The Klingon tried to leap at the torturer, but the guards holding her arms tightened their grip, and another stood next to Seven, aiming a weapon at her temple.

The Moderator gestured at the guard threatening Seven. "I suggest you calm down. Everything you do now could potentially have an affect on your," he paused a beat, "friend."

B'Elanna snarled. "And why should I bother? You'll do what you want to do anyway. Let's just bring things to a head now, shall we?" As soon as Seven had been restrained, the stakes had changed for B'Elanna. Now that the ex-drone was in direct danger from the Moderator, the time for games and meek obedience was over. B'Elanna was pragmatic enough to know that it was over for the pair of them. But she was damned if she'd let the Moderator get off on making her or Seven suffer any longer. The Klingon would rather fight her way to death, and she now had every intention of doing just that.

She tensed an arm and then relaxed her other arm, fooling the guard into tensing before she broke his grip and elbowed him in the face. B'Elanna then dropped down and kicked out a leg to topple her other captor. With grim satisfaction, she noted the Moderator backing away towards the door, a look of fear on his face at last.

She swung a fist at another attacker, and then looked for her next opponent, determinedly not looking at Seven so that she was not distracted. Unfortunately, it was to be her undoing, as the guard threatening Seven simply re-aimed his weapon and shot her in the back.

Prepared for the electrocution this time, B'Elanna tried valiantly to fight its effects. She managed to take out another man before she felt a second blast and this time could do nothing to stop her body from collapsing onto the floor. The pain reverberating through her system paled and was replaced by a far deeper emotional pain as she heard Seven cry out her name in anguish.

B'Elanna felt her arm pulled roughly behind her back and bindings placed tightly round her wrists. But she was still determined not to kowtow to her captor. "Just kill us. You'll get nothing from me," she vowed, her voice little more than a threatening growl.

"Well, wouldn't that be a shame. Especially now Voyager is on its way. Surely you want to try and hang on for rescue?" the Moderator asked, his confidence returning now that both women were secure.

"Why? So you can murder us in front of Janeway and cause her more torment. I don't think so," the brunette demurred.

The interrogator sat down on his haunches next to B'Elanna. "You have no idea how much you excited me with just this little display," he cooed. "I never realised how much fight you really do have left in you. You can't ask me to give you up so soon? Not when there's so much more for me to do." He tucked a strand of hair behind B'Elanna's ear in a sickeningly loving gesture.

"Take your hands off her," Seven called out, straining at her bonds once again.

The Moderator looked up and noticed with satisfaction that the woman's bindings had small bloodstains where she had damaged herself trying to escape them. "Not yet, my dear. Be patient, it will be your turn soon enough."

He looked back down at B'Elanna. "You will continue to fight, my beautiful creature. If you don't, I will simply swap your positions. I'm sure that your *lover*," he emphasised the word maliciously, "doesn't have the same sort of endurance you do, particularly if I remove all her `attachments' first, but if you fail to entertain me, I'll have to test my theory."

B'Elanna's eyes blazed furiously. "Keep your filthy hands off her you sick bastard."

"See, that wasn't so hard, was it?" The Moderator smiled at his captive before standing up. He surveyed the guards coldly. "Get her in there," he ordered, nodding his head to the room opposite. "I need to have a quiet word with my friend Seven."

As soon as B'Elanna had been bundled through a doorway, the Moderator closed it behind them and stalked up to stand just centimetres away from Seven. "So why do you have all these adornments?" he asked conversationally as he ran a finger lightly over her optical implant.

"I was Borg. These implants could not be removed after I was severed from the Collective," Seven answered honestly, her concentration on the other room as she watched her lover being strapped to the recliner chair.

"Hmm, Borg. Fortunately, they passed through this system without detecting our planet. They appear a formidable force," the Moderator mused.

"When I leave this planet, I will inform them of your presence here. Your assimilation would be the first to give me satisfaction," Seven admitted.

The Moderator laughed. "Wonderful. You're threatening me. Doesn't it feel good to have power over people," he confided.

"I derive no such pleasure. Do not presume to compare your pathetic and base feelings to my emotions."

The Moderator's laugh stopped abruptly and he looked at the ex-drone coldly. "I wonder how long you'll cling onto your feelings of superiority," he mused. He looked round and nodded as he saw the guards exit the other room, leaving B'Elanna on display in the chair.

"I've decided to change the rules of the game," he stated as he returned his look to Seven. "Now, I know that you two have feelings for each other. It's a weakness I intend to exploit thoroughly. So here's the first little test."

The tall man walked over to a small table in the corner of the room. Lying in the middle of the table was a small control panel with coloured buttons. "I'm going to see just how strong your Borg attachments are, along with your love for B'Elanna," he continued. "I'm going next door in a moment and you're going to have a premier view of some of the experiments I like to perform on your girlfriend." He smiled as he saw Seven flit her gaze to where B'Elanna lay.

"Now, I'm going to make a deal with you. If you can break free of your restraints, and press the correctly coloured button, I'll stop my `interview'."

"Correctly coloured? How am I to determine that?" Seven frowned in confusion.

"Oh it'll be easy. You see, I had to find some way of guaranteeing that you'll watch my interaction with B'Elanna," the Moderator continued amiably. "So these colours correspond to the colours displayed above the instrument banks in the other room. All you have to do is select the correct colour that corresponds to where the implement came from. That means you'll have to watch me select my tools, and because I'm going to change them frequently, you'll have to watch what I'm doing with them too." The Moderator smiled. "Ingenious isn't it?"

"You barbarian!" Seven exclaimed, already struggling against her restraints.

"Well, you look like you understand the principle," the Moderator decided, watching the blonde woman trying to find any way of gaining leverage against her bonds. "Of course, I don't need to point out to you that the longer it takes for you to break free and press the button, the longer I have with B'Elanna." He walked towards the door. "Oh, and if you just play the percentages and guess, I'll start the whole thing again. I'm not sure how long B'Elanna would last, so try not to make an error." With that, he stepped through the door and locked it behind him.

Seven's eyes widened as she saw him step into the other room and run a finger along B'Elanna's face, before brushing his hand over her body and resting it over her groin as he looked up and into her eyes.

"Ready?" His question clearly applied to both of them, as Seven could hear it over the comm. link.

With deliberate slowness, the Moderator went to a table and selected an instrument. He pointed up to the blue board above the table and nodded at Seven before returning to where B'Elanna lay. It was the last time he looked at the woman as he concentrated on his primary task.

Seven's struggling increased.

Part 3

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