Chapter 6 added on 11 July 2000
Disclaimers are in part 1.
Ends Before It Begins
Seven braced herself, expecting backlash from the momentary contact, and then calmly stepped through. The instant she passed through, her shielding winked out, like an old earth light bulb. She made it but her shield matrix had been overloaded, and was now offline. She would solve that problem later. For now, her priority was to deliver the contents of the hypospray to Lt. Torres. Seven found her leaning against the mainframe console, where she had been watching the entire proceedings. With her hair disheveled, clothes dirty and singed in several places, small radiation burns over her hands and face, the Klingon looked sicker than she had ever been, including the time she had been on the Malon freighter or when the "bug alien" had latched on to her. Her alert, penetrating eyes belied her present condition.
"So," she mocked calmly, "you made it through. Come bearing gifts?"
"Yes, the Doctor has instructed me in administering the hypospray. May I proceed?," inquired Seven.
The lieutenant nodded. Seven opened the med kit and took out the first of several hyposprays to come. She lifted it to the left side of Torresí neck and injected the contents. But instead of moving her hand away, Seven brushed the lieutenantís opened collar aside. Seven frowned. A raw burn on her left shoulder had begun to bleed. Lt. Torres pushed her hand away, fixed a cold stare at her.
"Let me, take care of that, lieutenant," Seven said softly.
There was no trace of the usual pretentiousness in her voice. In fact, it sounded very sympathetic. And the look she gave Beílanna with her bright blue eyes was warm, even kind. Perhaps, thatís why for the first time on this mission, Beílanna felt comforted. She sat herself down in one of the chairs, a little resigned, and allowed Seven of Nine to attend to her. Beílanna closed her eyes for they had begun to droop, as Seven moved over her body. She drifted off, listening to the quiet communication between Seven and the Doctor.
The next thing Beílanna remembered was opening her eyes to see Seven walking from console to console. She shook her head to clear her mind, and peered at her surroundings. She could see the away team on the other side of the force-field, experimenting with the various equipment. Seven was busy working with the away team on some sort of disruptor beam. The effects of the gas and radiation were starting to take their toll on her as well. Beílanna leaned forward to stand, but it took a great deal of effort. Her muscles felt so tired and cramped. She steadied her hands on her knees and slowly straightened up out of the chair, fighting the kink in her back doing so. Seven did a double-take when she saw the lieutenant move.
"Lieutenant, you are awake. I have been assisting the away team in finding a weak section within the force-field. They believe they can disrupt the field with a refined, high-energied burst."
"How long have I been out?," asked Beílanna.
"Approximately, one hour fifteen minutes." Seven cut her off before she could object. "The Doctor felt you needed to recuperate. It was appropriate for your body to regenerate at the time."
"Forget it. What can I do now?"
Over the next few hours, the away team worked without much success on freeing the two. The Doctor became increasingly concerned as the health of the two women began to decline, especially Lt. Torresí condition. It became exceedingly difficult for her to perform tasks when she wasnít able to catch her breath. Sevenís own breathing had also become labored. Shots from the hyposprays were more frequent now. Beílanna and Seven were working closely together on the security panels when the Klingon glanced over to Sevenís hand.
"Seven,...hah... your right handís...bleeding," noted Beílanna with some concern. "Iíll get...the dermogenerator and...fix it."
Beílanna grabbed the med kit. When she opened it, she noticed that only two of the hyposprays were still full. As she ran the dermogenerator over Sevenís skin, she found more than one source of bleeding. In fact, Sevenís wounds seemed worse than hers at the moment. And she looked paler than usual.
"Seven, have you...been dosing yourself?"
"Yes, I have, though not as frequently.....My suit protects me more than your federation uniform protects you."
"Seven, you need the hyposrpay...as much as I do. Youíre having difficulty breathing.....You may have injured your lungs!," Lt. Torres said angrily. -cough-cough-
"You have been in here longer than I have, lieutenant,...and have sustained more damage...I wanted to conserve our supplies....Iíve had to administer the sprays with...greater frequency. The scans I ran indicate that the concentration of toxins... -cough- and radiation in this chamber has increased by 25%. Iím sorry, Lt.,...I did not bring a sufficient supply," explained Seven.
"Well, thereís no arguing now...Youíre going to have another dose." -phiss- "Letís see if we can locate the conduit that...links the security system the force-field controls....If we can shut that down, we both might be able...to get out of here."
If things were that simple it might have worked. But time dragged on, and the systems were hard to crack. The away team led by Tuvok took over most of the tasks. By the next hour, Lt. Torres was already too incapacitated to stand and work. She laid on the cavern floor among some packs, gasping, watching Seven of Nine stagger from panel to panel, and at times crawl. Even reassuring hails from the captain and crew could prevent the grim thoughts that were going through the lieutenantís head. She never thought that she would die on some godforsaken planet, separated from the people she cared about. But she was brought out of her reverie by Seven of Nine, giving her another hypospray injection.
"...hhahhah...I have sent the last of the data...to the away team. I can no longer function...in the capacity to assist them....They must proceed from here," Seven informed.
"Seven, -cough- take another dose. Thatís an order," commanded Torres.
"We must conserve the hyposprays....I do not require one at this time," Seven countered, as she moved closer to the lieutenant to conserve their voices.
"Seven, letís face it. -cough- Iím not going to make it out of here....Donít inject me anymore. Save it for yourself....You have a chance at getting out of here,í Torres said with conviction.
"I will not abandon you, Lieutan..., Beílanna," said Seven as she looked into Beílannaís eyes, into a face she had been observing for some time now.
"Iím sorry I dragged you into this," whispered Beílanna, with tears forming.
Seven moved over to Beílannaís side. She took Beílanna in her arms and pulled her against her chest, as she leaned back against the packs. Perhaps, she wanted to give the lieutenant comfort, or perhaps, she wanted it for herself, but in any case it was the sweetest gesture that she could have made.
"We make quite...a pair donít we," joked Beílanna, as she took Sevenís hands into her own, and examined their condition.
"Our finest hour," Seven deadpanned. Weary herself, Seven rest her cheek against irrepressible Klingon.
"Commander Tuvok, have we made any progress yet?!," demanded the Doctor.
"We are still analyzing the data that Seven sent us," replied Tuvok as he continued to work.
"Doctor, we are working as fast as we can. We want our fearless leader back just as much as you do," Ensign Johan said calmly.
"Iím sorry, I canít be so cool about it. My two patients are dying in there!"
The two young Ensigns became silent with the last comment. Though they were Star Fleet officers, they were still unused to the tragedies that befall their leaders and fellow crew members. Lt. Torres tended to be gruff and ran a hard schedule in engineering, but she could also be patient and was eager to teach and share her ideas. She rewarded her team generously, and worked hard if not harder than the rest of them. Under her command, they learned more than others in their position on other ships, no doubt in their minds. Seven of Nine had been an odd addition to the crew. She quite often kept to herself and certainly wasnít gifted in the manners department, but she had also saved the crew on several occasions. Her escapades, especially those that involved Lt. Torres, were top of the line rumors and quite entertaining. It just felt wrong that they should lose them both now, despite their efforts.
"I...I didnít mean it that way. I apologize for my outburst. I should be setting a better example. Give me something to do. I canít stare at this tricorder," the Doctor admitted.
"Come help me over here, Doctor," suggested Mitchell.
Despite the injection of another dose, Beílanna was robbed of her breath to speak. She only struggled now to maintain the in and out movements that were once instinctual. Seven felt helpless. She wanted to scream outloud, and beg the captain for some way to beam them away from here. She could only bite back to the tears that threatened to fall, and hope that her arms would keep their strength so that she could her hold onto her lieutenant. Beílanna listened to the heart beat that laid under her. Sometimes she was foolish enough to think that she could hear her own heart beating in tune with Sevenís. But her own faltered.
Beílanna thought back to all the times she and Seven argued. Sure, she felt the borg sometimes made things difficult on purpose, but at least it made her feel something. Because for a time, she didnít think she did. And the things Seven pulled off, like electrocuting that Hirogen fella when he would let them use their communications array, or like the time Seven recorded for a whole month each and every time she and Tom...well, whatever. If it had been her Maqui self that pulled those stunts, you could be sure Janeway would have had her ass in the brig for a few days. And then there were those bizarre moments when Seven affected her in the strangest ways like the time she bit her as the Son of Kavok, or seeing Seven after One died. She couldnít bear to think that Seven would die for her in this stupid place.
"Seven," whispered Beílanna. "Seven,...I want you to save the injection for yourself."
"You donít know what you are asking."
"No, Seven, listen to me......thereís no reason for it anymore....Please, this is my...last request....Give me this honor, please..."
"I canít...." Seven replied, with tears streaming down her face openly, her face contorted in pain. "I canít watch you leave me, alone...." And she lost her voice with the last words. She lifted Beílanna hand and pressed it to her wet face. Beílanna closed her eyes to shield herself from the emotions that were now spilling out from the beautiful borg. She would not back down this time. For Sevenís sake, she would not.
-chirp- "Tuvok to Seven of Nine. weíve found the main circuit link to the force-field. Ensign Suzuki and I are headed to that location. Please hang on."
Seven gasped and turned her head in acknowledgement.
"Tuvok, you have to hurry. They donít have much time. That circuitís at least 60 meters away," the Doctor warned.
Tuvok nodded. He and Suzuki ran through the doorway and disappeared before another moment was lost.
She was pale, clammy, and her heart and lungs were failing her. Seven could do nothing. They spent the last few minutes looking into each otherís faces. They were past the tears now. Beílanna was dying, and still nothing from Tuvok. Sevenís own strength was leaving her. She had tucked her right hand under Beíannaís arm, against her ribs to keep it in place. The only strength left was in her Borg enhanced hand which held the last hypospray, and the last dose.
They ran down corridor after corridor, twisting and turning, and crashing into each other at every corner. And when Suzuki thought they were lost, Tuvok would lift his face from the tricorder and start sprinting again. At last they reached a large cavern which contained a vast array of computers and catwalks.
Mitchell and Johan brought the transporter boosters from the surface to enhace the transporter locks. And if the field was taken down, they would be exposed to a sudden, large blast of toxins and radiation.
"Over here, Commander! This is it!," yelled out Suzuki. He grabbed the edges of the access panel and yanked with all of his might.
Beílanna shook her head silently, pleading with Seven through her eyes not to give her the last dose. Seven had begun to cough up blood. It was over, both of them knew it. Seven put Beílannaís hand against her cheek her cheek for one last time. Beílanna caressed it to signal her final request.
"Tuvok to Doctor."
The Doctor stood up. "Doctor, here!"
"Weíve found the access panel."
"Tuvok, Beílanna dying. If you are going to do something do it now!"
Suzuki pulled the panel out and threw it aside. Scanning the opening, he found the link. Tuvok pushed him away and fired his phaser into the opening. The blast threw them tumbling down the catwalk.
Seven lifted the hypospray, and made her decision.
Just as it had suddenly been established, the force-field fizzled out.
"Doctor to Voyager! Medical emergency! Beam us out!"
As Seven began to move her hand, their bodies dematerialized.
The End ..... for now.