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.
"Besides, with Voyager maintaining a continuous transporter lock on us, what can go wrong?" Seven asked teasingly.
B'Elanna shook her head. "Never tempt luck," she warned, a small grin on her face taking the sting from her statement. Seeing that the remaining technician was absorbed in his work, she brushed her lips over the taller woman's for a second time. The women kissed languidly for a few moments, making the most of their solitude. B'Elanna pulled away as the kiss began to deepen, but allowed her arms to hang loosely around the slender waist of the younger woman. "We'd better get on. I have no idea how long Harry is going to be away, and if he walks in on us, he might just end up with a coronary."
Seven smiled. "I suspect that he will be violently surprised, no matter how we break the news to him."
The shorter woman nodded sagely. "Well I'd rather he heard the news from us and before it becomes common knowledge."
"Does this mean that you're ready to announce the change in our relationship to the rest of the ship?" Seven's heart began to hammer furiously.
"To be honest, I don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to hide it anyway. Everyone in Engineering knows that something's up. Half of them think I've made it up with Tom, and the others think I've found a foolproof way of killing him. As soon as the divorce goes public, the speculation will begin. Much as I'm tempted to fuel the fire over who it could be, I'd much rather show everyone just how much I'm in love with you."
Both women flushed as B'Elanna finished, the Klingon had not meant to be quite so vocal and Seven was delighted by the older woman's declaration yet embarrassed to be the subject of such an impassioned statement. "Thank you. I still find it difficult to express my feelings; it is just one facet of my humanity that I need to continue working on. But it will be a relief not to have to deal with being covert as well."
"I don't mean to make things any more complicated than they already are," B'Elanna continued, hugging the woman more tightly. "I wanted to protect you from all the gossip and rumours, but I guess it won't make much difference. Once everyone knows, it no longer becomes a topic of interest."
"You sound like you have prior knowledge of this procedure," Seven remarked, leaning back to look at the raven-haired woman.
"Didn't you know that I used to be one of the biggest gossips on the ship?" B'Elanna appeared genuinely surprised.
"Used to be?" probed Seven, a small grin on her face.
"I won't have time for gossip now," the engineer confided. "I'll be too busy with the love of my life."
Her final comment sparked a broad smile from the blonde ex- drone. "I'll have to make sure you don't go back to your old ways then," Seven responded teasingly.
"No arguments from me. Now, come on. Let's get to work." With that, B'Elanna released her hold on Seven and returned her attention to the power problem.
They worked steadily until there was nothing left to do but implement some of their ideas. However, there was still no sign of Harry.
"I did not realise that Kel-Phia lived halfway across the planet," Seven complained somewhat petulantly.
B'Elanna barked a short burst of laughter. "Oh I suspect she lives close. It's just that Harry can't tear himself away. He's probably giving her family a potted history of the crew of Voyager."
"And what interest is that to them?" Seven mused.
"I don't think Harry much cares what's of interest to them, as long as he gets to spend a bit of time with Kel," B'Elanna answered.
Seven smiled. "I can understand that sentiment," she said. "Perhaps we should begin the tests without him."
"He'd be mortified," B'Elanna protested. "But I'm sure he'd understand." She looked up and called the remaining technician over. "We think we might have come up with a solution to your power supply problem," she told him, smiling when she saw his face light up in undisguised pleasure. She held up a hand to try and temper his joy. "We're not quite there yet," she amended. "We need to do a series of tests but can't begin them until we know what we can and can't use."
The technician nodded. "Yes, I anticipated your requirements. I have a test circuit in the laboratory next door, along with a series of load circuits that should emulate the power drains we currently experience."
Seven nodded approvingly. "Good work. Do you have a monitoring station so that we can make comparative results and correlate the data we obtain?"
Vir-Tehn blinked as he got to grips with Seven's request. "There should be adequate workstations in the laboratory." He pointed to a doorway to the right of the main chamber. "It's just over here," he told them, already making his way to the door, obviously expecting the two women to follow.
Seven looked at B'Elanna nervously. "Are you happy to continue our work in there?" Secretly, the Borg was anxious about leaving the spacious engineering chamber that she was now used to working in. She had no idea what was behind the door, and that lack of knowledge gnawed away at her, producing a deep-seated insecurity.
The raven-haired Klingon looked at Seven carefully. "To be honest Seven, I'm actually quite scared to go in there," she admitted candidly. "But the logical part of my brain keeps assuring me that we have a transporter lock on us and that unless I start to confront my fears head on, I'm never going to function like an officer again." Strangely, it was just as much a sense of duty that was driving the Chief Engineer, as any personal need. "Just be on your guard," she added somewhat unnecessarily.
Seven nodded mutely and assisted the smaller woman as they gathered the equipment they needed to commence the tests. Slowly the two women closed the distance from their workstation to the doorway to the laboratory, watched by a concerned Vir-Tehn.
Sensing their discomfort, but confused at its origin, the young technician allowed the door to open widely and set the illumination to maximum so that the light rapidly consumed any sinister shadows. He walked through the door and made his way purposefully to a bank of terminals and began entering a complicated series of instructions.
After a second's hesitation, B'Elanna stepped through the door, her dark chocolate eyes scanning every corner for a hint of a threat to their safety. Exhaling heavily, she nodded to Seven and quickly moved over to Vir-Tehn's workstation. "Some of this equipment is a little unfamiliar," she told him after looking over his shoulder for a few moments. "Do you want to give us some instruction?"
Delighted that the two women appeared to have dealt with whatever mental demons they had, the young man nodded vigorously. "Certainly. Can you both see?" Getting a pair of affirmative nods, he began his tuition.
Par-Haln tugged at the collar of his tunic nervously. "I'm sorry but only one of the people you describe is at the Port. She is looking at our power problems." He stared at the image on the screen and swallowed, his mouth dry.
"That is not good enough," the image complained; the deep timbre of his voice echoing throughout Par-Haln's chamber.
"There really is nothing else I can do. You can't expect me to demand their presence," the dark-skinned man complained.
"You boast that you have the best supply port in the Quadrant. That there is nothing that you cannot supply. Are you reneging on your claim?" The navy-blue eyes of the trader glowed ominously.
"No, no, no!" Par-Haln was anxious to reassure his buyer. "But these are powerful people. I can hardly wage a war against them."
"No, that would be foolish in the extreme. But you agreed that you would supply my demands. How do you propose to fulfil your bargain?"
Par-Haln scratched his head noisily as he glanced at his monitor. "I need more time," he hedged.
"Time is too precious a commodity. You're wearing my patience." The image appeared agitated and fidgety, opening his mouth to begin another round of abuse.
"Wait." Par-Haln held up a hand to quell the trader's tirade. "There's been another transport. To the engineering facility." There was a long pause as the official scanned his data terminal. He looked up at the screen excitedly. "Another one matching your description has joined the first."
"Excellent." The man shook his long blond mane of hair out of his eyes. "But I want all three." Suddenly his voice became steely with venom.
Par-Haln shook his head. "When I spoke with her, there was no hint that she would come planet-side. She's the captain of the ship. There's no way I could possibly force her to come down."
"Captain?" The Moderator pounced on the official's words.
Par-Haln nodded nervously. "That's how she announced herself."
"Of course. I remember." He paused for a long moment, his eyes de- focusing as he lost himself in thought. "This could still work out," the blue-eyed man mused. "And I could get a new ship into the bargain."
Par-Haln frowned. "Do you still want them?"
"Yes, of course I still want them." The Moderator's tone returned to irritated disdain. "I want all three." His voice hardened and began to rise in volume as he returned to his obsession. "After what they did, I won't stop till I get retribution. But I've just changed my plans. I want you to deliver the blonde and brunette as per our agreement." He paused slightly at the thought of the two women. "I need them smuggled out and en route here as soon as possible. And I need you to cover their tracks long enough for me to prepare for their rescuers. Two days should be enough."
"But their ship! It will outrun any freight vessel I have," Par- Haln objected forcefully.
"Then you'll just have to hide your work carefully. Set up some decoy trails. You've done plenty of smuggling in your time Par- Haln. How else could such a weak fool gain the position you have?" The Moderator sneered at the official.
Par-Haln stared miserably at the trader, knowing that he was in an untenable situation. The Moderator had far too much information on him. If he revealed the man's plot, he would be exposed for the pirate he was, and would very likely be exiled off the planet. He was far too used to his luxurious lifestyle to give it up. At the same time, the most powerful ship he had ever seen was currently in orbit round Mahalar. He would have to work very carefully indeed in order to cover his tracks and appear innocent in this fiasco. But that meant going along with the Moderator's plans so that he would not be upset enough to uncover his true nature.
"I'll have them dispatched today," he agreed miserably. "But I expect full payment."
The Moderator laughed mirthlessly. "I don't think so. You originally agreed to deliver all three to me. I've had to adjust my plans in order to snare one myself. You'll get one half of the original price. And only once you've delivered." His tone hardened noticeably.
Par-Haln's eyes widened in astonishment. "Half? But that's robbery. It should be two-thirds at least," he protested.
"Consider it a penalty for not being able to fulfil our original agreement."
"But it's not my fault that they didn't all want to visit the port. And there's no way that I could force them to either. Have you not seen their ship?"
"Not first hand, no." The Moderator, knowing that he was at an advantage, relaxed slightly and smiled wryly. "And as you hadn't either, you should not have let greed get the better of you and agreed so readily to the deal I set up with you."
The administrator seethed with frustration. "Half now," he tried. "And the balance on delivery. I don't trust you to keep the bargain as you have already reduced the payment."
"Ahh, trust. Such an interesting element when trades are negotiated. You'll get your payment on delivery. If I send a courier with a down payment, there is every possibility that it could ruin the plans. You'll just have to trust me." His smile widened slightly, revealing two rows of even sharp teeth.
The Port Administrator stared at the blond man as he contemplated his options. He realised that he did not have many options at all and nodded disconsolately. "I'll send a message when they're on their way on this channel. It's encrypted and piggy-backed on general transmissions so it won't be detected by Voyager."
"Ensure that it isn't. And I look forward to trading with you again." The Moderator's smile turned predatory before he cut the link.
Par-Haln rubbed his face anxiously. There was much work to be done before he could ship the Moderator's cargo out, and there was little time in which to prepare.
The first series of tests resulted in depressing failure. Despite their calculations, the load circuitry couldn't cope with the alterations and several circuit pathways were blown. It took time to repair the test circuitry and make calibrated adjustments. Both Seven and B'Elanna wistfully voiced how much easier life would be if they could utilise Star Fleet technology. However, both knew the Prime Directive and acknowledged how disastrous it could be if their technology got in to the wrong hands. Despite the long hours they had already put in, Seven and B'Elanna continued to work the problem along with Vir-Tehn.
"Damn it. I know we can crack this," B'Elanna fumed, hitting the console in frustration.
"It is merely a matter of adjusting the power flow output and altering the tolerance of the capacitance relays," Vir-Tehn told her confidently.
Seven smiled. "If it were that simple, B'Elanna and I would be back on Voyager by now and Mahalar would already be enjoying the benefits of an efficient power system."
Vir-Tehn frowned. "But that has always improved power output before," he protested, his confidence waning.
"And that's the heart of the problem," B'Elanna commented wryly. "You've been making small adjustments for so long without dealing with the root problem, that there is nothing left in reserve. What we really need to do is re-calibrate the relays and sensors to their original configurations so that the new power injection doesn't overload the circuitry." She sighed heavily. "But that is going to take some time."
The young technician shook his head. "No it won't. We have all the original configurations on the database."
"That will be very helpful, but will not eliminate the need to perform all the safety checks on each circuitry bank that has been adjusted. Over time, their stress tolerances alter, particularly when they run at maximum. We need to ensure that they will not fail when we return the links to their normal parameters," Seven explained patiently.
"But that could take hours," the Mahalarian exclaimed.
"We know," B'Elanna groaned, but she couldn't keep the grin from her face. She knew they were close to solving the problem and the excitement was coursing through her veins. The thrill of solving problems was the reason she loved engineering, and she knew she would never tire of chasing after the solutions. "Just think how you'll feel when we get this up and running," she enthused.
Vir-Tehn's face lit up as he considered her words and she knew that he too was bitten by the engineering bug. With a bit of luck, she might be able to impart a little background knowledge and basic discipline that would ensure that this sort of problem would be less likely to occur in the future. "Then the sooner we continue, the quicker we'll finish," he stated, practically hopping up and down with excitement.
"I concur," Seven commented. "But do not let haste impede accuracy."
B'Elanna laughed. "That's it Seven, make sure he stays on level ground. However, I do agree. Let's get on with this."
"Need a hand?" All three of the lab's occupants jumped as a fourth voice entered the conversation.
"Hey there lover-boy. Outstay your welcome?" B'Elanna teased Harry good-naturedly.
To the young Asian's horror, his face went crimson. "No. But there was a family meal and Kel-Phia's parents invited me to dinner. I couldn't very well refuse, could I?" He grinned apologetically.
"Apparently not," Seven replied archly, lifting an enhanced eyebrow. "However, now that you are here, you can make up for lost time and start the safety checks."
Harry nodded enthusiastically. "Show me what needs to be done," he invited.
They worked steadily and methodically for over an hour and once again made good progress, splitting the safety checks between them and working in pairs to check the adjustments.
"There is one other large bank of circuitry in the main laboratory and a back up module in the emergency rooms," Vir-Tehn told them after completing another safety check.
"Emergency rooms?" Seven queried.
"Yes. We built a secure room to house back up circuitry for all the main power grids in case anything untoward happened to the primary generators."
"Quite right too," B'Elanna lauded. "Where are the rooms?"
"Across the main square, but they are sited several metres below the surface as an added protection. They are heavily shielded. Nothing can be transported in or out unless it is carried through the main doorways. The shielding also hides the rooms from scans."
"So it remains secret. How do you communicate?"
"We found an ancient method of running physical circuitry underground from the rooms to specified points around the port. It is not a very flexible method and introduces a number of delays, particularly when we make repairs or refinements but normal methods cannot get through the shielding."
B'Elanna looked nervously at Seven for a fraction. "Sounds a little isolated."
Harry immediately realised the implication of working in the emergency rooms. "Why don't Vir and I go and do the adjustments underground while you finish off the bank in the main lab?"
Both women looked at him gratefully. "Thanks, Starfleet. You just can't shake off your chivalrous nature can you?"
"Nothing chivalrous about it," Harry countered. "I just love the thought of secret bunkers. Brings out the kid in me." He smiled mischievously.
Seven frowned but there was a twinkle in her eyes. "The child in you is barely concealed at the best of times, Ensign. Who are we to deny you another opportunity to release it?"
Harry stared at her for a moment. "I'll take that as a compliment, I think," he decided. "Is there a link we can use between the emergency rooms and the main lab?"
Vir-Tehn nodded. "It is over on the main console. I will show you how it works."
When they were fully conversant with the old style technology, B'Elanna called Voyager once again. "Harry is going with a technician to an area of the power facility that could affect our scans," she explained somewhat cryptically. "Just wanted to let you know in case you got worried that you couldn't track him." The Klingon could see the relief on Vir-Tehn's face. He had not wanted the back up area publicly broadcast.
Fortunately, Tuvok picked up on her discretionary tone. "Understood Lieutenant. I have halted scans on Ensign Kim. Please inform me when he rejoins you."
"Will do." The brunette turned to the technician. "Voyager's stopped monitoring Harry so if someone else is tapping in to what we're watching, they won't get a clue as to the location of your secret bunker."
"Thank you for your understanding." Vir-Tehn smiled, his violet eyes shining brightly. The two men left the engineering laboratory quickly.
From the way the technician glanced around furtively, B'Elanna guessed that he would take a circuitous route to ensure that they were not followed easily. "I think that they might be some time," she decided as she continued to look at their exit.
"Then perhaps we should begin on our own work," Seven suggested. When B'Elanna made no move, the tall ex-drone looked at her lover with concern. "Are you functioning correctly?" she asked, hoping that her more formal questioning might prompt a smirk.
It did not. B'Elanna hugged her arms tightly round her chest but did not turn to face the younger woman. "This is ridiculous. I feel so useless," she muttered angrily.
"B'Elanna?" The blonde stepped closer, knowing that the Klingon was berating herself but unsure why.
"As soon as my safety net is threatened, I start to panic. How in Grethor am I ever going to be a reliable officer again?"
Seven understood immediately what B'Elanna was referring to, and that her anger was directed inwards. She made a point of emphasising the first word of her answer. "We will have to keep persevering with our inner demons and heightened distrust. But the more often we work through this, the more comfortable it will become. And my difficulties are not nearly so considerable with you by my side."
The brunette turned and smiled weakly. "You're right, of course," she told her softly. "And it should be me standing here offering you support and strength."
"We support each other, and you give me strength with your presence. Come on. Do not dwell on what we cannot alter. We should continue our work here."
The engineer sighed. Seven was quite right, and to remain so focused on the task ahead was admirable. Rather than be a distraction as she had first thought would be the case, Seven had turned out to be B'Elanna's stanchion and she was grateful for her presence. "You're right, of course," she told the taller woman, stepping closer and leaning in to drop a chaste kiss on Seven's lips. "What would I do without you?"
"I never want you to find out," Seven replied, returning the kiss with slightly more pressure before breaking away. She turned to the main console and began running a series of diagnostics. "We have much to do, Benal."
"You know, Harry's not the only one with a curiosity for secret rooms and hidden machinery," B'Elanna mused as her fingers began to dance over her workstation.
"So, you are a child too?" Seven teased.
"Definitely. I think I might have to make him give us a tour when we've finished."
"And what makes you think that I have any interest in ancient and undoubtedly dusty machinery and equipment?" Seven asked archly.
"Because you have the same amount of curiosity that I do. You just hide it better," the engineer replied confidently.
"How did you reach that conclusion?" Seven temporarily halted her work to stare at her lover.
"Well for a start, no-one else on Voyager built an incredibly powerful Astrometrics room that provides massive and complex details on the journey ahead, to the side and behind us. If that isn't sheer curiosity, I don't know what is," B'Elanna replied sagely.
Seven smiled widely. "That, I cannot deny," she commented. "And I doubt that any protestations that it was logical for Voyager's safe passage will hold any weight with you."
"Absolutely right. Everyone else might buy that line, but I know better. No-one puts that sort of effort in without having a personal interest."
Both Seven and B'Elanna spun round instantly at the interruption, hands resting on their phasors.
"Forgive me, I did not mean to startle you." Par-Haln held up a hand placatingly as he approached. As he saw the tension leave the two women's shoulders he moved toward them more confidently. "I merely wished for a progress report."
"We're getting there slowly," B'Elanna answered. "We have a number of circuits to reset and perform safety checks on, but I think we could have the problem solved within a few hours."
Par-Haln clapped his hands together in delight. "Oh, that is wonderful news. You truly are a most knowledgeable people," he praised.
B'Elanna shrugged off the compliment. "A lot of this work was sheer persistence of trial and error. I've been making a log of the work we've undertaken. Hopefully your technicians will be able to follow it and maintain the power regulators more successfully in future."
"You are too kind," the administrator gushed approvingly. "But where are my technicians and Harry Kim? And who is your companion?"
"I am Seven of Nine, or more commonly just Seven," the Borg introduced herself. "Ensign Kim has accompanied Vir-Tehn to perform adjustments on the back-up circuitry. We are finishing the work here."
"They've gone to the underground bunker?" Par-Haln queried sharply.
"Yes." For some reason, Seven felt the need to defend Harry's movements. "Without working on the emergency power, the overload problem will not be solved."
"When did they go?" Par-Haln seemed almost distracted, walking away from Seven and B'Elanna slightly.
"Not long," B'Elanna supplied. "Maybe ten, fifteen minutes."
Par-Haln spun suddenly and discharged his weapon straight into Seven's chest. She was thrown back into the workstation before slumping to the ground, unconscious. B'Elanna only had time to remove her phasor from its holster before she too received an energy bolt. Her body was thrown across the lab and landed in a crumpled heap several metres away.
"Then I don't have much time," Par-Haln mused darkly.
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