Forget Me Not
"What the hell is this? This planet is supposed to be uninhabited." B’Elanna stated with a frown as she walked slowly around the strange object. It was a tall cylinder without any obvious decoration or function. There was no indication that it had crashed on the planet or that it had now, or ever, possessed a propulsion system. Yet here it was, in the middle of dense jungle on a planet devoid of intelligent life.
Just as Tom was about to comment, B’Elanna reached out and touched it. With a sharp echoing report, the object flashed once. Since his back had been partially turned, Harry only caught the flash in his peripheral vision. He turned to see both Tom and B’Elanna staggering as their vision adjusted.
"What was that?" Tom yelled as his eyes teared up. B’Elanna said nothing, but the steady growl was enough to tell the two men what she thought of the brightness of the light.
Since Harry and Tom were further away when the object flashed, both recovered quickly. It was when they approached the still squinting B’Elanna that they realized something was wrong.
"Lanna. Hey, are you ok?" Tom asked gently.
"C’mon Maquis you’re scaring us." Harry added, as the small Klingon’s growling increased.
It seemed that as her vision cleared and she was more able to refocus on her surroundings, the engineer became more agitated. The fact that she was also a Klingon meant that agitated was an understatement. As the growling got louder, both men got more nervous.
With a look and a confused shrug to Harry, Tom moved closer.
One swift punch later and Tom and Harry began what would become two exhausting days of staying just ahead of a raging Klingon warrior.
Tuvok stood in front of the large table in the conference room and gave his report. "The lieutenant has had a two day head start. To make matters worse, since touching the object a multiphasic tachyon field of unknown design has blanketed the area. Not only communicators and transporters, as Mr. Kim and Lieutenant Paris, discovered, but all devices. Shuttle craft are also inoperable in the field. Scans are ineffective, but one would assume the object is responsible for this phenomenon. The disturbance covers a circular area extending 50 miles in any given direction from the objects assumed position."
"So, B’Elanna is still inside the range of the object? If she were to go any farther we’d be able to spot her and transport her back, right?" Tom asked, more to hear himself talk than anything. No one bothered to answer him. He still felt guilty about not being able to bring B’Elanna back to the ship. It had taken him and Harry two days of almost constant travel to reach the edge of the dampening field where they could contact Voyager. What the object had done to B’Elanna made bringing her back by themselves impossible. Both men had the cuts and bruises to prove that. It didn’t stop either of them from feeling guilty though.
The EMH took Tuvoks place to continue with the briefing. With a quick nod and surprisingly understanding look to Paris, he began, "I must say that it has been quite difficult to determine what has most likely happened to Lieutenant Torres, since she is unavailable for examination. However, in my usual brilliant style, I am confident that from Mr. Kim’s and Lieutenant Paris’ statements, I have discovered the nature of the Lieutenants condition."
Even Seven had to suppress the urge to roll her eyes at the dramatic pause. The doctor continued in his usual oblivious manner. "The device has inflicted almost total amnesia. Based on the running battle our two heroes had with the Lieutenant, I would guess that she has reverted to a mental state similar to Klingons of the Middle Era. Lieutenant Torres will not return to Voyager without a fight."
"Is it possible that she will recover her memories on her own?" Janeway asked. "I understand that traumas causing memory loss usually reverse themselves in short order."
"That is a possibility." the EMH conceded, "but those are traumas involving injury. With this device as the culprit, I would guess that she’ll remain a feral, Middle Era Klingon warrior until we can catch her and bring her back for treatment."
"Klingons were little more than savages at that stage of their evolution." Tuvok observed calmly.
"What you are dealing with is a wild Klingon, with a conquer or kill idealism and no memories to identify friend from foe. She may carry some residual identifiers but that is doubtful. I would guess that to her we are all the enemy and she will try to kill anyone she feels is a threat to her. I would also guess that since her memories will, to her, begin in the area of the device, she will be found somewhere near it. It is unlikely that she will leave the area of the tachyon field on her own any time soon." the EMH finished with less smugness than usual. Even he knew that the chances of saving the fiery, now feral Klingon were not good. Until her memories could be restored, she would be little more than a very dangerous animal.
The group that beamed down to the bleak clearing at the forests edge was a very sober bunch. It had been decided that the best option would be to get to the object first. From there they would split into two teams. The first, consisting of Seven and the captain, would try to identify and deactivate the thing. With the protection of Borg implants, Seven would be in charge of the device, until it’s safety or lack thereof could be positively determined. The hope was that once turned off , B’Elanna’s memories would be restored. Barring that, it would at least free them to scan and transport B’Elanna directly to the ship, without the need to physically hunt her down. The second, much larger, group had the daunting task of trying to find and contain B’Elanna. Armed with old fashioned ballistic weapons converted to fire a tranquilizing agent, they hoped to capture the small woman without injury to themselves. If they could catch her, which was doubtful, they could hopefully help her without the need to shut down the strange object.
Seven and Janeway looked around the assembled group. As the captain, Janeway felt it her duty to lead the group that would be searching for Torres. Knowing that the relic had the greater importance at the moment grated on her nerves. She wanted to bring her engineer back, not stand around while Seven examined the object. Harry and Tom had begged to go as they felt it was partly their fault that B’Elanna was in this situation. Every one knew it wasn’t and deep down they knew it too, but she was their friend and they needed to be doing something to help. Tuvok and Chakotay had tried to argue their case but someone needed to run the ship until the rest returned. The remainder of the group was made up of junior officers and other volunteers, Neelix among them. It was a testament to B’Elanna’s popularity that they had to turn many away.
"Ok. Let’s get this party started, shall we?" commented Janeway. "Our first objective is to find that artifact. Let’s go." and with that, the group started into the dense forest.
There were few trails to speak of, only those left by the large deer like animals that roamed the continent. Most were overgrown and useless to a large party. Tom and Harry, in their rush to get clear of the field and B’Elanna’s wrath, had been fortunate in stumbling across a more often used path. This time, the group was not so lucky and after three days, they had only managed to travel 30 miles of the 50 it would take to reach the object and hopefully B’Elanna as well.
"This was a whole lot easier when we were going the other way." Tom mumbled to no one in particular.
"That’s because we don’t have an angry Klingon chasing us all the way." observed Janeway wryly, as she stopped yet again to wipe away the sweat on her forehead.
"I think I like the doctors word better. Feral. She wasn’t so much angry as aggressive." Piped in Harry as he took another swipe at the undergrowth with his machete.
"Yeah, violently aggressive." Tom shot back. "I still have the bruises to prove it."
"Me too," Harry replied. " But, I’ve been thinking about it. She could have killed either of us a dozen times, instead she just kept after us until we were able to beam out. The scans showed that she didn’t leave the dampening field. The minute we were gone she probably just turned around and headed back. It was more like she was protecting her territory or something."
"That was probably a part of her human side. Klingons aren’t known for patience. They wouldn’t simply chase away a threat. They’d want it dead." Janeway, tossed in. "This time we won’t be leaving and her reaction may be totally different than it was when you two were simply trying to get away."
"I have researched Klingons of the Middle Era." Seven offered. "They were violent and territorial. It was during this era that the Klingons first began to ally themselves to the various houses. Any threat to ones house was dealt with severely. Humans of the corresponding era were much more diverse, but generally most lived within a system of extended family groups, clans or tribes if you will. They were also territorial but not as violent, unless threatened. I believe that the Lieutenant is displaying a mix of both behaviors."
"In other words, since she didn’t kill Tom and Harry when she had the chance, she probably won’t try to kill anyone unless we make her feel threatened?" Janeway asked
"Than is correct. While she was behaving aggressively by human standards, she was not truly violent the way a full Klingon would be in this situation." Seven affirmed.
"So now we just have to find her and see if that theory holds up." Tom joked.
"As long as we find her before she finds us. I don’t want to be caught off guard." Harry added.
"She has already found us." Seven calmly supplied.
As soon as the words were out of Seven’s mouth, the whole party stopped to stare suspiciously into the dense forest. As they stared, there was the muted hiss and whisper of captain and crew alike bombarding Seven with questions of ,"when", "how long" and "where the hell is she."
"She is approximately 100 meters to the northeast at the present moment. She is not currently within my visual range. I have had visual contact three times, so I am sure that there will be opportunity to do so again. She has been pacing our movements since shortly after we broke camp this morning." Seven supplied in her usual cool manner as she scanned the area ahead with her eyepiece.
Katherine Janeway leveled a force ten glare at the former drone. "Why didn’t you tell us as soon as you noticed her presence this morning?"
Where most would cower under the famed glare, Seven merely raised an implanted brow. "I was gathering data. While I had researched the two cultures for possible clues to the Lieutenants behavior, I felt that observing her, however indirectly, would yield more information. I would also like to point out that our current location is counterproductive to attempting to apprehend Lieutenant Torres." Seven added, to placate the captain. She might be indifferent to the captains glare but, Borg or not, even Seven knew that glare to mean that she had overstepped herself.
"Has it occurred to you that B’Elanna has also had all day to observe us?" Janeway barked at Seven, as she raked her fingers through her damp hair.
They were all hot and sweaty. Three days in the jungle without the usual luxuries technology could provide, had taken their toll. Tempers had already shown signs of fraying in the heat and now Seven calmly informs them that Torres had been stalking them all day. After looking at the small group Janeway made her decision. "Ok, there’s nothing we can do about this now. Weapons ready everyone. From here on in, we move with extreme caution. We’ll work out a guard rotation when we stop for the night. Seven, Tom, you two take point and keep an eye out for a good place to stop, it’s going to be dark soon."
Seven and Tom barely spoke as they moved through the dense wood. They were about 20 yards ahead of the rest looking for the best trail. The going was speeded greatly by a machete in a Borg enhanced hand. That had been the main reason Janeway had put Seven in the lead with Tom. She could cut through the dense brush and wood with little effort. The rest of the group could easily and quickly, follow the trail the ex-Borg made.
Tom could stand the silence no longer. "She’s closer isn’t she?"" He asked the tall ex-drone.
"Yes she is. Her position is now approximately 51.27 meters to the northeast." Seven answered, as she easily sliced through a tough tangle of branches blocking the path.
"When Harry and I were here last, she seemed to focus her attacks on me more than Harry." Tom noted almost absently, as he took a turn cutting through a rubbery branch before stopping to lean against another and take a short break.
"I am aware of that, Tom. That is why the doctor was willing to concede that B’Elanna retained trace recognition patterns." Seven answered. Now that they were out of earshot of the captain, Seven felt comfortable being informal with her friend.
"Well, she remembered me alright." Tom mused, as he rubbed his still sore shoulder. "She didn’t seem to remember Harry though. Odd isn’t it?"
"Not really. You had once been in a physical relationship with her, Harry has not." Seven answered.
"True. But he is her friend. As a matter of fact, he was friends with her before I ever was and before the two of you finally buried the hatchet and stopped trying to kill each other." Tom mused.
"We never tried to kill each other. We merely disagreed, often and with vigor." Seven defended with a small smile.
"That is one way of describing it." Tom said with a laugh. "How close is she now?"
"She has moved another meter closer." Seven answered.
In an abrupt change of subject, Tom asked, "So how is it that you can function in this, when we can’t even get a tricorder to work?"
"My Borg systems are mostly internal and all are shielded." Seven answered. "I assumed, and the doctor agreed, that it would be unlikely that the artifact would affect Borg implants."
"And if you were wrong?" Tom asked, though he already knew the answer.
"I would have collapsed the moment I entered the field." Seven answered with a small grin.
Tom just rolled his eyes. "Borg! It figures."
"I would have recovered immediately upon being removed from the field, as did your communicators." Seven reminded him, as they began moving forward again.
After a few minutes, Tom stated, "She’s moved back again hasn’t she?"
"Yes she has. I did not know that you were also aware of her presence." Seven replied.
"I’m not. But I do have a theory of my own and it fits that she’d back off once we got moving again." Tom replied mysteriously.
"And what is this theory?" Seven asked.
"I’ll tell you later." Tom answered and would say no more.
For the next two days the group was shadowed by B’Elanna. Except for Seven and her enhanced senses, no one else caught sight of her through the dense cover. It was a very nervous group that finally moved into the clearing that marked the center of the disturbance. Right where it had been left, was the alien device. They wasted no time setting up camp and preparing for the next part of this unpleasant trip.
The groups that went out to look for the hybrid returned to camp later that day in a frustrated mood. Harry and Tom had each led a team into the dense woods. With each taking a direction, they had spent the afternoon searching the forest for the now feral engineer. They had found footprints and other evidence that Torres was in the area, but no one had seen so much as a glimpse of the woman.
"I felt like a first year cadet out there. Earlier today, I heard a noise and spun around. By the time I got my weapon untangled from the brush, the bird had flown out of sight. If that had been B’Elanna, she could have killed me ten times over before I got it free." Tom complained as he plunked himself down beside Harry.
"What do you expect," Harry mumbled. "We don’t even have a single tricorder among us. There are no trails and by the time we cut through this damn undergrowth, we’ve made enough noise to tell her exactly where we are. She’s small enough to slip around most of what we have to hack through and if anything does get in her way, she has the Klingon strength to rip it apart."
"Now that you put it that way, I’m almost glad that we didn’t find her." Tom joked weakly.
Everyone gave him a look but no one said a word. The truth was, joking or not, everyone was getting worried. Now that they were actively hunting the hybrid, they were quickly discovering that this was going to be a very difficult job.
Seven and Kathryn were in no better a mood. They had spent the entire afternoon examining the strange device. Seven had done the actual examining while Janeway had stood, weapon ready, on guard over the device and Seven. No one could touch the device yet. Seven would not be rushed, as she used her enhanced senses to learn as much as possible about the strange device. Janeway was itching to simply use the butt of her rifle and smash the thing to pieces. Until they could at least deactivate it they were stuck here. There was no way the captain was going to lose one of her crew to this.
"Is there anything I can do to help, Seven?" Janeway had asked for the tenth time.
"You can aim your weapon towards that clump of bushes." Seven replied calmly as she nodded towards the clump in question.
"B’Elanna?" Janeway whispered, startled.
"She has been observing us for the last ten minutes. In the last two minutes she has moved 10 meters closer to our position." with a quirk of her brow, Seven added, "She is growling."
Janeway didn’t have to be told twice. Feeling a new respect at how sensitive Seven’s enhanced senses were, she turned and aimed. Before she could even bring the butt of the rifle to her shoulder, the rustle of the bushes told her the Klingon had moved out of range. She hadn’t even managed to catch a glimpse of her.
The next two days was more of the same. The groups assigned to catch Torres fumbled blindly through the forest. B’Elanna easily evaded them. The only one able to detect the hybrid was Seven, who informed the captain each time the small woman came close to their position as they tried in vain to deactivate the device. Seven had found what seemed to be access panels on the artifact but had so far not found any way to open the device. Seven, with her shielded Borg implants, was still the only one allowed to touch the device, but now she could at least begin the serious work of figuring the thing out.
The search team became more frustrated and Torres became braver in approaching the clearing. Janeway felt useless as the Klingon easily moved out of range each time Seven detected her presence. She ordered some of the searchers to remain in camp but Torres still easily avoided them.
"You are mistaken!" Seven hissed at Tom as they sat around the small campfire. It was night and the tired group had, had as little success as the day before.
"I’m not and you know it." Tom insisted with a small grin.
"Mistaken about what?" Janeway inquired wearily from her place across the small fire.
"I was just telling Seven something I noticed today. She thinks I’m wrong. I know I’m not." Tom answered, while Seven glared at him menacingly.
"This isn’t the time or the place Tom." Harry said meaningfully.
"B’Elanna talks in her sleep you know" Tom stated out of the blue. "She talks mostly in Klingon. Each of us has their own name. I got curious one time and looked it up."
"Do I want to know what she called me?" Harry asked with a small smile.
"I forget the word, but it meant brother. Her name for you, Kathryn means something close to mother figure, like a favorite aunt. I was just pilot, romantic eh?" then he looked at Seven. "I do remember the word she used for you. It was Bang’wI.."
Without a word, Seven got up and marched to the edge of the clearing. Standing in her usual Borg pose she stood still as a statue facing the thick woods.
"Smooth Tom" Harry hissed. "Why don’t you just go and kick her while you’re at it."
"Both of you better start talking. Now!" Janeway grated. Tom may have been the one to upset Seven, but from the looks on their faces, it was obvious they both knew something.
Harry gave Tom a look that said ‘you started this’.
Tom squirmed under the captain’s glare. "They’re in love with each other." he blurted.
Kathryn didn’t know what to say. She just sat, staring dumbly at her helmsman while Harry nodded in agreement.
"It’s true. But what Tom is forgetting to tell you is that they are still very much at the beginning of things. Seven is unsure of herself, so she’s being very cautious. B’Elanna is afraid of scaring Seven off. She’s going so slow she’s practically moving in reverse." Harry clarified.
"Good lord." Janeway muttered. "This is all we need. Ok Tom, you’ve already said too much. What did you say to upset Seven just now?"
"B’Elanna’s been stalking Seven. She only ever gets close when Seven’s in the area. She can easily avoid us in the forest, but Seven keeps spotting her. She wants Seven to see her." Tom said. "She has residual memories of some of us, just like the doctor said. She may not remember Seven exactly, but she sure remembers her attraction to Seven."
Janeway had nothing to say to that. She knew the two had finally become friends, but this was the first she had heard of anything more between the them. Once this fiasco was over she would be happy for the two. For now, she had an engineer to save. Her practical side took over. "Is there some way we can use this to our advantage? Maybe we could draw B’Elanna out of that damn forest."
Looking over to check on Seven, Janeway got her answer. Not ten feet away from Seven, was their quarry. B’Elanna was standing just behind the cover of a large log. The two were looking warily at each other, neither moving a muscle. When Janeway stood, the movement broke the moment and B’Elanna bolted back onto the dense wood. "I guess that answers that question." she mumbled to no one in particular as everyone watched the small woman disappear as quickly as she had appeared.
Seven returned to the campfire but would speak to no one. She simply crawled into her sleeping bag and ignored everyone as she tried to get some sleep. The rest of the tired group soon followed. There would be time to talk and make plans tomorrow.
Janeway rubbed her temples, as if that would keep back the migraine waiting in the back of her skull. Seven had just announced her intention to go hunt the Klingon, alone. She knew that if Seven decided to do it, there wasn’t much she could do to stop the young woman. "Seven you can’t go out there alone. B’Elanna is just too dangerous right now."
"She will not harm me." Seven returned calmly.
"What proof do you have of that?" Janeway asked. "B’Elanna may have been attracted to you before this happened, but there’s no real way to be sure what she’ll do right now. She could try to kill you."
"I am stronger than she is captain. Should she try, she will be unsuccessful." Trying a different approach she continued. "Captain, I am the only one who has been able to detect the lieutenant. I believe Mr. Paris’ assumption of attraction to be in error, but the truth is that I am the only one she has dared to approach. If I enter the forest, alone, I am sure she will approach me again."
"At least take a tranquilizer gun." Janeway begged. She knew a lost cause when she saw it. Now she had to make the best of things.
"That will be unnecessary." and before Janeway could say more, Seven moved quickly into the woods.
"Tom! Harry!" Janeway barked. "Get everyone rounded up. Now! We have to find Seven as well." Glaring at Tom for giving Seven the idea, Janeway began issuing orders.
Enhanced senses made picking up B’Elanna’s trial easy. Seven followed a meandering path through the dense wood until she found herself in another, smaller clearing. The instant she reached the center of the small glade, B’Elanna attacked.