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 Three

B'Elanna cradled Seven's head in her lap and gently pushed a strand of hair away from her face. She blinked back her tears determinedly as she scanned the younger woman's body once more. Seven's left arm was dislocated at the shoulder and lying by her side at a sickening angle. B'Elanna had tried to move it but Seven had protested weakly, crying out in quiet pain even as she tried to move her body away from the touch. B'Elanna knew that it would have to be set soon, but decided to wait until Seven was more aware of her surroundings and could prepare herself for the procedure.

There were lacerations, abrasions and friction burns all along the tall woman's slender frame. Both of her wrists had been badly damaged, along with her ankles and a nasty cut that ran right across her chest just under her clavicle. Seven also had dark bruises to her face and jaw, indicating that she had been struck many times, and B'Elanna suspected that they had been inflicted upon her when she was unable to defend herself.

B'Elanna had nothing to clean or treat Seven's wounds, despite repeatedly requesting medical supplies. She could do nothing but sit with Seven as the younger woman's body began to recover from the ordeal. The Klingon hybrid could only make assumptions as to what went on, as no one had told her the facts. She knew that Seven had been restrained against the wall. The lacerations and abrasions indicated that the young woman had struggled desperately to escape her bonds, but B'Elanna was confused as to how Seven had sustained all the bruises.

The Klingon hybrid sighed. She too would have attempted to break free from the restraints had she been witness to the Moderator experimenting on Seven. B'Elanna knew that Seven had a clear view of the torturer's arena, and she had made a deliberate effort not to struggle when she had been led to the examination-style chair.

She had been left alone once she had been secured and had felt her pulse rate accelerate in anticipation of what was to come. She swore to herself that she would not cry out and make it any harder for Seven to bear, but she was honest enough to doubt how long she would be able to keep that promise.

When the Moderator had eventually shown, he had run his hands over her body lightly in a sickeningly familiar way; he had begun every episode of torture in the same fashion. But for the first time, he actually asked her if she was ready. B'Elanna had frowned at the time, wondering why he had changed his routine, before realising that he was actually speaking to Seven. Composing herself, the Klingon hybrid detached her thoughts away from her body and willed herself to remain totally passive as the Moderator began in earnest.

To her surprise, her ordeal had been mercifully short. It appeared that some hidden signal stopped the Moderator's ministrations abruptly and she was left alone, strapped to the chair and bleeding as the tall blond man stalked out of the room. It was some time before two guards came in to release her from her bonds and manhandled her from the chair and back to the holding cell. When she was thrown inside, she immediately saw Seven, crumpled and barely moving on the floor of the cell.

Seven shifted slightly, moving her head so that she could look up and face B'Elanna. "Are you damaged?" she croaked brokenly.

B'Elanna shook her head in awe. The ex-drone's first thoughts had been for her, despite the incredible amount of pain she must be in. "I'm functioning within acceptable parameters," she replied dryly.

Seven smiled slightly before a rasping dry cough racked her body. "I cannot say the same," she admitted candidly.

"I kind of guessed that by looking at you." B'Elanna spoke softly and lightly, trying not to alarm the young woman, even as she stroked her cheek adoringly.

"I cannot feel the digits on my left arm," Seven continued. "My shoulder is dislocated and would appear to have trapped the sub- clavicular and brachial nerve."

"I know. I'm going to have to re-set it. But that means inflicting more pain on you," B'Elanna told her regretfully.

"It needs to be done. And the sooner, the better."

"I was waiting for you to recover a bit first. Are you sure you're up to it?"

"I have little choice in the matter if I wish to retain the use of my arm," Seven replied candidly. "Can you construct some sort of sling in order to assist you with the manoeuvre?"

"Yeah, I'll use my jacket," B'Elanna told her. "You think you can sit up?" At Seven's nod, the engineer assisted the blonde into a sitting position and retrieved her jacket that had been used as a pillow for Seven.

Together, the two women talked through the procedure before attempting it. Seven was pallid and could barely focus on the task, and her condition worried B'Elanna. "Are you sure you're ready for this?" she asked again.

"My state of readiness is irrelevant, the procedure must be carried out," Seven replied. The ex-drone cried out in pain as B'Elanna manipulated the limb but she bit it back determinedly before almost sobbing with relief as the initial pain subsided. Gingerly, she wiggled her fingers before bending her arm up to rest across her abdomen. "Thank you," she breathed huskily.

B'Elanna gently moved them to one of the bunks. She helped Seven to sit down before manoeuvring her own body behind the blonde so she could act as a cushion. She adjusted Seven slightly so that they were both as comfortable as possible as she leant against the cell wall. "Did it work?" B'Elanna worried.

"I believe so. The joint is still painful but it is not as severe as before."

B'Elanna gently smoothed back an errant strand of Seven's blonde hair before running her fingers over the younger woman's face, tracing, but barely touching the livid bruises that marred her skin. "What happened?" she asked softly.

Seven swallowed. She felt exhausted and knew that it was a result of her body trying to repair the wounds that had been inflicted upon her. She was unable to look at B'Elanna without twisting her neck, and that action was still too painful after the shoulder manipulation, so Seven gave up and instead concentrated on a small spot on the wall opposite them. It took a moment for her to compose her thoughts before she spoke. "The Moderator told me that if I could free myself from my restraints, he would stop torturing you."

"You didn't get these bruises from the restraints," B'Elanna pointed out calmly, though her heart was racing.

"When I freed myself, I attempted to gain access to the room you were being detained in. It took several guards to block my progress."

B'Elanna could only imagine the force required to stop Seven when she was in full flight. It must have been one hell of a battle, and B'Elanna cursed herself for not being able to assist her.

"Do not weigh yourself down with misplaced guilt," Seven spoke again, interrupting B'Elanna's thoughts.

"What are you, a mind reader?" B'Elanna retorted not unkindly.

"I merely assessed what I would do should our situations have been reversed and came to the conclusion that I would be frustrated at my inability to assist you," Seven replied honestly. "Guilt should be placed firmly with the Moderator and his lackeys," she continued.

"I know, but I hate seeing you like this," B'Elanna admitted.

"I could not stand by and watch you tortured," Seven whispered hoarsely.

B'Elanna heard the raw emotion in the younger woman's voice and she gently hugged her. "Shhhh," she calmed her gently. "I love you," she murmured as she kissed Seven's head.

"I love you too." The reply was automatic, but equally heartfelt. Seven relaxed into B'Elanna's arms and drew on her partner's strength. She was dreading the next encounter with the Moderator. She had a horrible feeling that it was going to be more of the same, and if he took up the challenge again quickly, she would not be in a fit state to fight back. Seven hated the feeling of helplessness that was beginning to flow through her. She had been given a demonstration of her own limitations, both through the difficulty she had in breaking the bonds and then the subsequent altercation with the guards. The Astrometrics officer had radically altered her thought process regarding their incarceration. For the moment, every second spent with B'Elanna was precious and not to be squandered. Hoping that Voyager would somehow come to the rescue was futile. All she could do was deal with the present. And the present meant savouring the Klingon's closeness, even as she assessed the chances for their survival.

Seven felt her eyelids drooping, but she fought to stay awake. She needed to be alert for when the Moderator returned. However, B'Elanna's comforting embrace and soothingly whispered words added to her drowsiness. She felt the engineer run her fingers gently through her hair and realised that she was fighting a losing battle. "I should remain alert," she protested, mumbling slightly.

"You should rest," B'Elanna corrected softly. "You need to let your body recover."

Seven blinked suddenly. "Are you damaged, B'Elanna?" The injuries she had suffered had caused a tremendous amount of pain, and her mind was wandering, as her body tried to deal with it. She unknowingly repeated her enquiry.

The brunette fretted about her lover's condition, knowing that Seven would never normally repeat herself it was far too inefficient. She grimaced forced her voice to remain steady. "I'm fine. And a lot better than I would have been if not for you." B'Elanna caressed Seven's cheek lovingly. "Thank you."

"I have only done what you would have," the tall blonde reminded her. She allowed her eyes to close though, and relaxed totally into B'Elanna's arms.

B'Elanna remained still, even when she was certain that Seven had fallen asleep. She had never seen the young woman look so exhausted and she worried about how seriously Seven had been hurt. She had no idea when the Moderator would return and if he would play the same game again. She wondered how he would manipulate them next time. The only fraction of comfort she could take from the entire situation was that all the time the Moderator wanted to feed off their reactions, he would have to keep them both alive. Her fear was that alive did not mean healthy.

She rolled her head back against the wall and sighed softly. It had been the Moderator, indirectly, that had brought the two women together. It could be him that separated them again, permanently.

Her musings were cut short as the door to the cell was thrown open noisily. Even as she looked up, startled, she felt Seven flinch as she was woken abruptly. Instinctively, she tightened her grip round her lover.

A guard stood in the doorway, grinning maliciously as he pointed his weapon at them. "Get up."

Seven struggled to sit forward, trying to clear her head as well as deal with the pain she was still suffering. Belatedly, she realised that B'Elanna still had her arms looped round her. She squeezed the older woman's hands before pulling on them so that she could stand.

B'Elanna took the hint and released the blonde. She stood up once Seven moved off the bed, watching her carefully, prepared to steady the ex-drone if she was still suffering the effects of the beating she had taken.

The guard gestured at Seven menacingly. "Not you," he told her firmly.

"What?" Seven stepped forward, not comprehending.

"Sit down. He only wants her."

"No. We go together," Seven insisted.

"You're in no position to make demands." He turned his gaze to the brunette. "Come with me."

B'Elanna looked at Seven worriedly.

"Just you," the guard reiterated.

"I'll be okay," the Klingon tried to reassure her lover.

"No you won't. You're not going anywhere without me." Seven was determined not to be separated from B'Elanna again, particularly now that she had seen where and how the Moderator performed his work.

"You're not in a fit state for my attention." The Moderator's smooth tones emanated from behind the guard. "Now please desist this tedious posturing. You know that I will remove B'Elanna to my workshop with or without your cooperation. You need to recover before I can begin my experiments again."

"We are *not* your laboratory guinea pigs," B'Elanna snarled, her temper flaring as she strode angrily towards the tall blond torturer.

The Moderator back-handed her viciously as soon as she got in range and the guard who had stood to one side to allow his superior entrance into the cell, raised his weapon to cover any retaliation Seven might try to exact.

Seven halted her action, leaving her arm cocked in the air as she assessed the threat before her. She then ignored her captors and instead helped B'Elanna to her feet. "Are you all right?"

"Just super," the engineer replied caustically. She regretted the tone the instant the words left her mouth. "I'm sorry Seven." She wiped the blood from the corner of her mouth. "I'm okay," she reassured her.

"Well, now that you've established that she's fine, I suggest you sit back down and continue your recuperation," the Moderator suggested blandly.

Seven's eyes blazed with fury. "I am sick of your games," she spat at him.

"That's unfortunate. Because they're not over yet," the interrogator replied mildly. "Now sit on the bed before I finally lose my patience and resort to real violence." His tone portrayed just a hint of menace, but both women picked up on it.

B'Elanna turned towards the taller woman. "Please, Seven," she requested quietly, not wanting her to be the recipient of any more blows.

Seven was torn. She did not want to be parted from her lover but knew logically that the more she protested, the more likely they were to get hurt, and at the same time, she knew that B'Elanna was being taken away in order to endure yet more torture. In some ways it would make no difference to the final outcome, but B'Elanna had asked her to sit back down. If she resisted, she would be going against the engineer's wishes and now more than ever, she was determined that there would be no cross words or altercations. There was always the underlying threat that each separation would be the last one and Seven would never forgive herself if they parted on anything other than loving terms.

The tall blonde exhaled a deep breath and forced her voice to remain calm. She closed the gap between her and B'Elanna and kissed her gently on the lips. "I love you," she whispered emotionally before stepping back and sitting down on the bunk.

B'Elanna had to swallow down the lump that had suddenly formed in her throat. "I love you too," she replied hoarsely.

"Yes, yes, we all know how much you adore each other," the Moderator interrupted callously. "But you're wasting my valuable time." Both women stared malevolently at him, but the looks merely prompted him to grin delightedly.

He looked at B'Elanna. "Come with me," he commanded cordially. "Any more time wasting will not go unpunished."

B'Elanna looked back at Seven, unable to keep the worry from her face. "I'll see you later," she vowed solemnly.

Seven nodded firmly, echoing the sentiment but unable to trust her voice with a reply.

B'Elanna allowed herself to be led out of the cell and back down the corridor to the Moderator's workplace. She was once again taken by surprise when she was guided back to the first room the torturer used. The tall interrogator strapped her to the chair himself, using just the ankle, wrist and abdominal straps. He checked each binding carefully, muttering absently as he ensured that the engineer would be unable to escape or avoid his ministrations. The Klingon frowned as she watched him. There was something different again to his method. She found it disconcerting but was determined not to draw attention to her discomfort at the treatment. B'Elanna knew him well enough by now and was sure that he would reveal his intentions soon enough.

The Moderator stood back suddenly and smiled at his captive. "Do you have any idea what it does to me to see you this way?" he asked rhetorically.

B'Elanna swallowed down the rising gorge that his comment triggered and concentrated on trying to remain impassive. She knew that the man fed off reactions, particularly hers, and guessed that he had been left highly dissatisfied after Seven broke free from her bonds so quickly.

Her lack of response did not seem to bother the blond. He circled the woman slowly, allowing his eyes to wander up and down her body voraciously and waited for a few minutes, watching closely for any outward sign that he could feed off. His eyebrows rose slightly and his respect for his prisoner grew again as she continued to display rigid self-control. Eventually, he broke the silence. "It seems that your captain is more resourceful than I gave her credit for."

B'Elanna couldn't help but turn her head to look at him; a mixture of hope and disbelief etched on her features, and was immediately annoyed with herself when she saw him smile at the sudden motion.

"So you *do* feel. But then, I knew that already. Your lovely girlfriend has already given me proof of that." His dark blue eyes narrowed. "However, your captain will be here ahead of schedule, which means that I must bring forward all that I need to do," the man continued conversationally.

B'Elanna's interest was instantly piqued but she bit back the myriad of questions she wanted to ask. Her eyes widened when she saw the Moderator approach one of the workbenches and pick up a medi-jet.

"Don't worry, this will leave your system within hours and will be totally undetectable, even with your superior technological equipment," he commented, nodding his head towards the phial he held in his hand. "However, the effects could go on for quite some time. In fact, I suspect that some effects will be permanent," he grinned maliciously.

"What the hell is it?" B'Elanna was nervous; she found his new approach to her quite frightening.

"If I told you, it would spoil the fun," the interrogator admonished softly. "But don't worry, you'll be fully aware of it when it comes into effect."

With that, the Moderator closed the gap between them and grabbed a handful of B'Elanna's hair. With terrifying ease, he yanked her head over to expose her neck and jammed the medi-jet over her jugular vein.

B'Elanna cried out as the contents of the medi-jet burned its way through her veins. She could feel the tissues round the injection site quiver and her heart suddenly contracted as fear kicked in. She had no idea what he had introduced into her system, but could feel its effects. She was unconscious in seconds.

Part 4

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