DISCLAIMER: Yes, Paramount owns it all - I am just having some fun
with their characters.
SERIES: This story is a sequel to Resistance
PAIRING: B'Elanna/Seven (eventually!)
FEEDBACK: Yes please, I wouldn't post otherwise.
Par-Haln looked round furtively. He had checked the room before he entered to ensure that there would be no witnesses but had been unable to secure the doors before attacking Seven and B'Elanna without attracting attention to his behaviour from his intended targets. Satisfied that no one else had been drawn to the room by the sound of the energy blasts, the administrator hurried to a nearby console and punched in a series of commands to lock every door to the engineering facility. He worked frantically, knowing that time was against him. Once the area was secure, he scampered across the room to check that both women were no longer a threat to his plans but in a sellable condition. A quick examination revealed that Seven had a cut across her cheek where she had landed awkwardly, but was otherwise stable. Par-Haln could detect no additional injuries to the hybrid engineer.
Par-Haln knew that Voyager had been monitoring the women's every movement and was certain that they would contact them as soon as they registered the energy discharge. Fortunately, there had been enough communication between the ship and its crew for the administrator to prepare for the transmission. As he heard the communicator chirp on B'Elanna's chest, he took a small device from his pocket and positioned it over his larynx. Using a remote controller, he made a few adjustments and then answered the ship's hail.
"Torres here." The vocal modulator worked perfectly, and Par-Haln's voice sounded exactly like the brunette's.
"We have registered two pulsed energy discharges Lieutenant. They appear anomalous to your surroundings. Are you aware of the phenomena?"
"Yes. One of the consoles overloaded and caused a cascade discharge. We managed to rectify the problem after the second blast. Everyone is fine though." Par-Haln hoped that whoever was talking to him did not want a more detailed explanation; it had been difficult enough to think of that solution.
"The console appears to use an unusual form of energy. Perhaps it is fundamental to the cause of the Mahalarian power problem."
"I don't think so. But I'll keep it in mind as we continue. Unfortunately, the discharge has meant that we've lost communication with Ensign Kim." Par-Haln hoped that he had used the correct designation and mentally berated himself for not checking beforehand. "We're going to have to go down and meet up with him to complete all the adjustments."
"Understood Lieutenant. Do you wish us to suspend monitoring your movements temporarily?"
Par-Haln's eyes widened in triumph. He had been expecting to have to set up an elaborate barrier to fool the ship into thinking the two women were moving around naturally before suddenly disappearing. He could now move ahead more quickly. "Yes please. I'll let you know as soon as we're done."
"Acknowledged. Voyager standing by."
As soon as the link was broken, Par-Haln punched the air in relief. There was now a very good chance that he would get away with his plan and become a very rich man in the process. There was still a lot of work to be done however. Before removing the vocal modulator, he used the link to the emergency Bunker.
"Hey B'Elanna. How's it going?"
The Malaharian recognised Ensign Kim's voice and replied in what he hoped was a suitable tone. "Fine thanks. There was an energy discharge here earlier but we solved the problem. We're nearly done but one of the circuits affects the door mechanism to the bunker. If it jams shut don't worry; we'll be working on it."
"Thanks for the warning. You should see this place; it's great. There are all sorts of."
"I'm sure it's wonderful," Par-Haln interrupted impatiently. "You can give me a tour when we're done. I'm going to work on that circuit now. Are you ready?"
Harry sounded hurt but Par-Haln no longer cared. With a series of quick inputs he locked the bunker door and placed an encrypted security code on it. "Do you still have an exit?" he asked innocently.
"Nope. The doors are locked. The good news is that the internal air supply has kicked in so we have no problems breathing."
"Good. I need to help Seven. I'll be back in a minute." Par-Haln was abrupt but tried not to be so rude as to arouse the young ensign's suspicion. He left the communication link, satisfied that Harry had been suitably duped, and went to one of the storage areas in the rear of the facility. Inside a large container was a tall coffin-shaped crate. The administrator activated the anti-grav circuitry and then gently pulled the crate out and guided it over to where the two women still lay. He removed the lid and set up the internal conditions for the transport crate. They were often used for carrying livestock or precious cargo as artificial environments could be created for the duration of the journey. Once loaded, they were still light and easy to manoeuvre so Par-Haln would not waste time and energy getting the cargo to the spacecraft that would take the two women to the Moderator. He deliberately made the decision to only use one anti-grav crate so that any search for two people would not be associated with two cargo containers.
He sized up the two women and decided to put the blonde in first. She was taller and had a larger frame. He positioned the crate next to Seven so that he would not have to carry her too far. Par-Haln braced himself and pulled the woman into a sitting position before putting one arm under her knees and the other behind her back. Quickly, he picked her up and dumped her unceremoniously into the crate and then took a moment to straighten her limbs and make her at least look a bit more comfortable.
He guided the container effortlessly over to where B'Elanna lay and picked the smaller woman up; grunting in surprise when he found out that her size belied her weight. Struggling slightly, he put the other woman into the crate, wedging her in beside the taller woman before adjusting them both so that they were face to face with arms wrapped over each other.
The administrator smiled lightly. From the little interaction he had witnessed, the two women were clearly close. At least their final journey would be together. He took a moment to consider the fate he was sending them to. He knew that the Moderator was a cruel and malicious man and that he did not want them for altruistic reasons. The Moderator's home planet had a reputation for xenophobia and he had heard horror stories of torture and brutality exacted on unsuspecting foreign travellers. The administrator suspected that this was the case with Voyager and its people, but he had not heard of the Moderator pursuing his victims before. Something extreme must have happened to provoke him into seeking retribution so vehemently. Par-Haln suspected that if he reneged on his deal, he too would be on the list for revenge; his dealings with the man made him nervous in the extreme.
The administrator made a series of minor adjustments to the internal life support mechanism. The two women would be transported comfortably but remain unconscious for the duration of the journey. He then ripped off his voice modulator and threw it in with them so that he would not have to get rid of any evidence later, before replacing the lid of the crate and securing it. Prior to leaving the laboratory, Par-Haln put the emergency room door on a timed release, allowing him enough time to get his cargo safely to the transport ship and return to his quarters to set up an alibi. Finally, he unsealed the doors and scanned the exit route to ensure that it was clear. Satisfied that he would leave with his goods undetected, he guided the crate out and headed for the freighter dock.
Harry sprinted up the stairs and back to the main engineering area. He and Vir-Tehn had completed the modifications while they had been waiting for the doors to open and had been unable to re-establish a comm. link with Seven and B'Elanna. At first it hadn't bothered the young ensign, but when the doors were released and there was no request for communication from his colleagues, Harry began to wonder what was going on.
He burst through the doors to an empty room and looked round frantically. "Seven? B'Elanna?" He paced round and searched each of the smaller labs that were situated off the main area. Idly, he tapped in a few commands on a nearby console and was surprised at how few of the alterations had been made. The two women had clearly been diverted by something else to the extent that they had no longer been able to continue with the original plan. The tall raven-haired man paced again, trying to seek any clue as to their whereabouts. He knew that both Seven and B'Elanna were prone to spontaneous actions when working and it was highly likely that they had found another problem and had left the area to deal with it, but Harry was certain that B'Elanna would have told him where they were going, especially in light of recent events on the prison planet.
Frustrated at his lack of success in locating the women, he circled the main console once more before tapping his communicator. "Kim to Voyager."
"Good to hear from you again Mr Kim. How are things progressing?"
Harry was surprised to hear Janeway's gravelly tones over the comm. He wondered if she had been fretting over sending B'Elanna and Seven on the away mission and had been unable to sleep. "Captain, I've finished the circuitry adjustments in my area but I can't locate Seven or B'Elanna. Did they tell you where they were going?"
There was a slight pause before the Captain responded. "B'Elanna told me they were joining you to continue the repairs. They should be with you."
"No. There was a problem with the doors and we had to wait for them to release them. They never mentioned going down there." Harry looked at Vir-Tehn, subconsciously wanting him to confirm his statement and was gratified to see the young man nod his head in agreement.
There was a longer pause this time. "We can't find them on short range scans. Are you sure they haven't gone to the shielded area?"
"Positive." Harry responded instantly. "There's only one route in and out of that area. We'd have passed each other. Captain, something's wrong."
"Agreed Ensign. Start looking again and we'll extend our scans. In the meantime, I'll contact Par-Haln and see if he knows what happened to them."
The tall Asian nodded despite knowing that the Captain could not see him. "Yes ma'am."
Janeway paced the bridge in a vain attempt to ward off the frustration that was building inside her. It had been over an hour since they had discovered that B'Elanna and Seven were missing and there was still no trace of their whereabouts. Par-Haln had dispatched a number of patrols to look for them but had not had personal contact with the away team since leaving them with his engineers. Both Vir-Tehn and Kel-Phia confirmed that the women had been in the main research lab when they had left. Janeway had refrained from commenting on Harry escorting the young technician home, and had instead concentrated on the more important issue.
The auburn-haired woman found herself standing in front of Tuvok's tactical station again. Forcing herself not to sigh, she looked at the tall Vulcan steadily. "I think I've waited long enough to give the local authority time to deal with the situation. Assemble a security team and go down and assist in the search."
Her tone was hard and brooked no dispute, yet Tuvok felt compelled to point out Starfleet guidance. "To act so soon could be viewed as a display of aggression and may trigger a diplomatic incident."
"I don't give a rat's ass about diplomacy. I have two people missing and the longer they're gone, the more danger they could be in. I want answers Tuvok. And the only way it looks like we're going to get them is for you to go down there." It took all of Janeway's self- control to keep her voice from shaking.
"We're being hailed, Captain." Chakotay's voice was a welcome distraction from the tension.
"On screen," Janeway ordered as she strode back to her seat.
Par-Haln's face was immediately projected onto the oval screen at the front of the bridge. "Captain, my officers have searched everywhere. Your engineers are no longer on this planet."
He was rubbing his hands together nervously, but Janeway couldn't tell if it was through nerves or genuine worry. "Well they're not on board Voyager Par-Haln. Are you telling me that they've been kidnapped?"
"I cannot say Captain. This has never happened to us before. I don't know what to say."
Janeway stood slowly and took a pace towards the main view screen. "I am sending a team down to conduct their own investigation. I can't accept that they simply disappeared from under our very noses."
"Certainly Captain. You are most welcome to come down. I will assist you in any way I can."
Janeway bit off a sarcastic retort and chose instead to snap a nod in his direction. "I want full co-operation Par-Haln. We'll be looking for any clue as to their whereabouts." She flicked her head towards the ensign at Ops and the link was broken. She turned back to Tuvok. "Look everywhere Tuvok. I want them found."
The dark-skinned Security Chief nodded his acquiescence before turning towards the turbolift. Janeway stalked off the bridge and into her ready room without another word, knowing that Chakotay would step into the command mantle while she tried to calm down. Her mind was racing with conjecture, probable answers and, most compelling, a continuous barrage of guilt. She had forced B'Elanna to go on the trip and had guaranteed her safety. Seven had gone at B'Elanna's request, but Janeway had been prepared to send her anyway, so that both women could overcome their demons after the last disastrous away mission. And yet, Kathryn had not had the guts to go down to the port herself. She hid behind Starfleet regulations and assigned the task to Chakotay. The Klingon Chief of Engineering had seen through her immediately but Janeway continued her plan and now both women were once more in danger.
Janeway knew that she would never get used to losing crew. There was a personal responsibility for every serving officer on her ship. But Seven and B'Elanna were different. Both women were like daughters to her. She had given guidance, solace and support to both of them when they joined the ship. She prided herself that both of them were comfortable enough with her to argue or contradict her opinion. In fact they both often overstepped the mark, but Janeway valued their opinions and candour. And now she had let them down. Again.
Shaking her head as if to rid herself of her thoughts, Janeway came to a decision and slapped her comm. badge. "Janeway to Tuvok."
"Go ahead, Captain."
"Make room for one more member of your away team. I'm coming with you."
Par-Haln shifted his weight nervously from foot to foot. He anticipated that the crew of Voyager would want to search for their missing comrades, but he did not think that they would be this thorough. Despite dropping hints that there were many transports that left the port in a continuous stream, the investigation team appeared to be intent on examining every last micron of the research facility and engineering laboratories. He felt confident that he had done enough to cover his tracks, but couldn't help but wonder if their advanced technology would reveal a flaw in his plan. He was surprised that the captain of the ship had materialised with the others. It had always been the plan that they would trace the two engineers to a ship headed for the Moderator's planet and the administrator had falsified documents at one of the export docks to provide a lead, but Par-Haln did not want his part in the abduction uncovered.
"The residual traces of the energy bursts Voyager registered appear to have no correlation to any of the energy sources available in these laboratories," Tuvok stated, staring at his tricorder.
"Then why did B'Elanna say that they did?" Janeway mused, studying her own instrument. "And if they didn't originate within the power supplies here, where did they come from?"
"An alternative source. Perhaps a weapon of some kind," the Security Chief speculated.
"If they were shot at, why did B'Elanna cover it up? All she had to do was give the word and we would have transported them back to the ship."
"She could have been coerced into the deception. She or Seven could have been threatened and the only safe option was to follow orders." While Tuvok relied on logic and research to establish the facts of an incident, he had worked with humans for long enough to know that conjecture and unsubstantiated theories were often required to be vocalised during the process. It had taken time, but he had come to value the speculation as it often prompted other ideas and notions that, although they had no basis in fact, often provided a route of investigation that uncovered more information.
"If this assumption is correct, we need to find the perpetrators of the deception. Is there any evidence of anyone else being present here?"
"Tricorder readings indicate that the only other bio-signatures present belong to Mahalarians. A forensic search of the area might reveal an alien presence that is not normally detectable but I doubt it. I can run a number of diagnostics to establish which Mahalarians were here but we will have to interview everyone that is implicated in order to establish their motives for being present."
"Wait a minute." Par-Haln easily made his voice sound indignant. "Are you implying that a Mahalarian has something to do with their disappearance?"
"At the moment, there is no evidence to the contrary," Tuvok pointed out calmly.
"Why that's preposterous! How dare you? We have prided ourselves on our neutrality for decades. No one would put that in jeopardy. I suggest you investigate elsewhere." The administrator puffed out his chest in an unconscious effort to look bigger and more imperious.
Janeway was having none of it. "You promised us total co-operation. We're investigating the facts that are right in front of us. If you have any other theories though, I'd be happy to hear them." She made the invitation sound like a threat and was grimly satisfied to see the man swallow nervously.
"Well you seem so hung up on something happening in here that you are excluding other possibilities," the administrator said finally, his voice strained. "Such as?" Janeway prompted menacingly.
"Well, supposing the energy discharge did originate from in here. They fixed the problem, and then left the lab for the emergency rooms as they said they would. What's to say that something didn't happen on their way to meet up with Harry Kim and Vir-Tehn?"
"That is a possibility," Tuvok admitted with a short nod. "I will allocate a number of the team to investigate the theory."
"Don't bother," Harry interjected.
Janeway turned round, surprised at the vehemence in the young ensign's tone. "Why not?"
"We were locked in the bunker by a malfunction that originated from this room. As soon as the door was released, we got out. B'Elanna and Seven wouldn't have bothered to come down to us unless they knew they could get in. We would have seen them on our way up."
"Unless they were abducted as soon as they left the lab," Par-Haln pointed out reasonably, and was secretly satisfied to see the young man nod reluctantly in agreement.
"None of this answers a question that keeps nagging me," Janeway commented tightly.
"Why?" She threw her hands up in the air. "Why were they taken? I have to assume that they have been taken, or we would have found them by now. But who wants them? If they've been kidnapped, where's the ransom note? None of this makes sense." She pinched the bridge of her nose as the tension across her forehead built again.
"They may have been taken in order to exploit their superior technical knowledge. There are many races that use this port who require faster, heavier, more efficient cargo ships," Par-Haln suggested tentatively. "They may have been taken not to extort a ransom, but to gain knowledge."
Janeway nodded slowly. "That's a possibility. But I thought that you kept everyone segregated so that there was no conflict or trouble."
"We do. It is standard practise. But gossip knows no boundaries. If it became known that there were engineers present that were working on our power problems, an issue that has been well known and unsolvable for some time, there may have been an opportunistic move made against them."
"None of this speculation helps, Captain," Tuvok intervened quietly. "I suggest that we finish our investigation here and then widen the search."
"No. We need to be searching now. If they have been taken, I don't want the trail to go cold. Leave your team here to complete their task. I'll assemble more teams to search the ports themselves. There may be clues there that will lead us to their whereabouts."
The Vulcan nodded and returned to his work with no further preamble. Janeway slapped her comm. badge and looked up unconsciously as she spoke. "Janeway to Voyager."
"Go ahead Captain," Chakotay prompted.
"I need more teams down here to widen the search. Detail a number of parties and section the areas. I want no stone left unturned."
"Understood. Have you got any priorities?"
Silently, Janeway thanked Chakotay for remaining calm and perceptive. "Yes. The export docks need to be searched. And I'll need a team to look at exit logs and request permits so we know who left and when, along with their destinations." She glared at the administrator, daring him to challenge her plan and was surprised to see him merely nod his consent to the intrusion.
"I'm on it. All crew members who were on shore leave have returned to the ship. All squads are reporting in periodically and there's a transporter lock on every Starfleet signature."
"Why do I feel that we're shutting the door after the horse has bolted?" Janeway pondered bitterly.
"Ignore that Chakotay. I'm taking Harry and a security detachment to the nearest port. Keep me posted of any developments." Janeway ignored Chakotay's reply and spoke once more to Par-Haln. "As you represent the Port Authority, you can come with us. I'll need full co-operation from the users of your port."
"I cannot guarantee that, Captain," Par-Haln objected. "But I will put as much pressure on them as I can to indicate that they should help you."
"Lead the way then," the auburn-haired woman gestured toward the exit and signalled her team to follow the administrator.
Seven shifted slightly. Her head hurt and it didn't matter how much she tried, she could not open her eyes or get any sort of sense of where she was. The young blonde woman was certain of one thing though. B'Elanna was with her. She could detect her unique scent. She could not see or hear the other woman, yet Seven was certain that she was very close. The Astrometrics officer had the impression that she was lying in a box, but could not get any firmer sensation. It was all very disorientating. Something was very wrong, but she could do nothing to override the heavy lethargy that plagued her body. She vaguely thought about trying to use her communicator, but did not know who she was trying to contact. She realised that she was losing even the faint grip she had on reality and as she succumbed to unconsciousness again, tightened her grip on the warm body that lay next to her; somehow it gave her a feeling of protection and strength. The corner of her mouth twitched slightly into a smile for a fraction of a second. B'Elanna was with her.
Janeway stared at the data padds in front of her. Her anger at the situation and herself was slowly giving way to despair. Each team had reported back a depressingly similar situation. There was simply no trace of the two women. She rubbed her temples as she tried to absorb every fact. She was exhausted. The teams had been working for hours but so far nothing had given them any clue as to what had happened. The captain was acutely aware that as each minute passed, the trail grew colder. It was incredibly frustrating; she had beamed back onto Voyager just a short while ago after almost throttling Par- Haln. Something didn't quite fit with him. He was bending over backwards to be helpful, but Janeway couldn't shake a nagging feeling of doubt she had about him. She mulled over every fact she could remember and tried to unfocus her mind, in the hope that somewhere within its recesses, she might find inspiration and a new approach that would get them the lead they so desperately needed. She was so lost in her thoughts that she did not hear the chime requesting admission to the Ready Room.
She was startled out of her reverie by Tuvok's voice. "Captain."
The auburn-haired woman looked up to see the Vulcan standing in front of her desk.
"I am sorry to disturb you, but there is something you should see, or perhaps more accurately, hear."
"Stop being cryptic Tuvok. We haven't got the time." Janeway was up and business-like in a fraction of a second.
Tuvok raised an eyebrow in response but did not comment. Instead, he led the way back out of the captain's Ready Room and made his way over to the secondary science station on the Bridge.
"After discovering no new evidence in the laboratories on Mahalar, I went back to the only information we do have. I analysed the conversations held between Voyager and the Away Team."
"Have you picked up any background voices?" Janeway was instantly alert and speculating over Tuvok's discoveries.
"Not in the way you might think," Tuvok replied as his hands danced over the console. "This is the last contact we had with Lieutenant Torres." He played back the recording and Janeway cocked her head, trying to listen for anything unfamiliar. She shook her head, indicating that she could detect nothing out of the ordinary.
"When I listened to it, I too could find nothing extraordinary," Tuvok concurred. "I then filtered it and made comparisons. The voice exactly matches Lieutenant Torres' voice modulation."
"So what have you found then?" Janeway was getting impatient again.
"Using a delay filter, I discovered a second voice present that runs fractionally ahead of Lieutenant Torres' voice."
"A voice modulator?" Janeway jumped on the theory immediately.
"Yes," the Security Chief agreed, impressed at his superior's insight. "This is the voice before it is modulated." Once again his fingers brushed over the console and he watched and saw Janeway screw her hands into tight fists.
"Par-Haln," she growled.
"Yes. The evidence suggests that he used a vocal processor to imitate Lieutenant Torres."
"Get him here. Now."
Return to Voyager Fiction
Return to Main Page