Seven barely caught Tom in time. The pilot had been about to jump up and go over to congratulate B’Elanna on her win against the bigger Koron. This had been what B’Elanna had quietly warned Seven about. If they were going to pull this off, Tom would need careful watching.
With a meshed hand on his shoulder, she leaned forward and whispered. "If you move before the Lieutenant tells you, she will have no choice but to administer a punishment for disobedience."
"She won’t do that." Tom whispered back as he again made to rise.
The pressure of a Borg reinforced hand slowly crushing his collarbone made Tom reconsider. When he looked to Harry for help, the tall Asian whispered harshly. "Sit down Tom." With both of his fellow ‘slaves’ against him he decided that perhaps staying put was the best option.
Once Tom settled back, Seven and Harry exchanged a look. With Tom to deal with, this charade was going to be incredibly difficult to maintain. Neither were looking forward to the next three weeks waiting for Voyager to find them.
Koron picked himself up off the floor with a growl. He’d been beaten fairly and he knew it. He did not have to like it. Now he had to face the loss of his most valued possessions.
Dilos however, had no such problem. He had realized at the beginning of the fight that Koron was no match for the small fierce woman. He counted himself lucky that he had not issued the challenge himself. He knew he would have had no better chance of winning than his officer had.
"Congratulations Warrior. You have beaten one of my finest officers in fair combat." Dilos stated as he walked over to B’Elanna. "His possessions will be delivered to your vessel immediately, though I regret to inform you Koron has no slaves. Once that is done we will feast in your honor. It’s been a long time since the Bidelli have found such a worthy ally as yourself. Afterward, we’ll see about getting your ship fixed." With a grin he clapped the small Klingon on the back. He was not surprised when his hand met solid resistance. Trying not to react to the stinging in his hand, he once again silently thanked his gods for keeping him from issuing today's challenge.
"You’ve seen the size of my ship. I have no place for more possessions. Koron can keep his things." B’Elanna answered. "As for a feast, fighting always makes me hungry." B’Elanna stated with a grin. When she slapped Dilos on the back she was rewarded with the sight of the huge man wincing slightly.
Koron, on hearing this, suddenly became a lot happier about losing. Still, honour demanded that he do something. "I doubt that we have the necessary technology to repair your ship." he observed. At B’Elanna’s rueful nod, he continued. "Since you will not take what you have rightfully won from me, perhaps you will take my hospitably instead?"
At the engineers questioning glance he clarified. "Until your ship catches up to us, I offer you my quarters. You might as well enjoy the use of my possessions since you have declined to take them outright. You will be comfortable, I assure you."
"Thank you Koron," B’Elanna replied. "I wasn’t looking forward to spending the next three weeks stuck in a shuttle with minimal life support and no weapons."
"Then it’s settled." Dilos announced. "B’Elanna Torres of the house of Miral, will be our honoured guest until Voyager arrives. Koron you will move into the junior officers area and you B’Elanna will take Koron’s quarters."
B’Elanna, with status granted and Koron, with honor restored, amiably followed Dilos across the huge room to the exit. As they passed Harry, Tom and Seven, B’Elanna signaled for them to follow.
At the signal Seven quickly returned B’Elanna’s jacket and other things, then moved to walk behind the hybrid, closely followed by Harry. Tom decided it was a good time to congratulate the small woman. Clapping her on the shoulder, he enthused. "That was great B’Elanna. You really..."
The rest was lost as the man found himself flipped onto his back. Looking up, he was greeted by the sight of a Klingon pain stick pointed inches from his chest. Still not taking the hint, he tried to rise.
B’Elanna’s thoughts raced. He’d agreed to this charade and he knew what would happen if the Bidelli saw through it. Remembering her promise to Harry and Seven, she threw each of them a quick glance. The understanding she saw in their eyes gave her strength. She would see this through no matter what the cost. Toms foolishness had brought then into this situation. Tom would just have to deal with the consequences.
Having no choice, B’Elanna turned on the device. Tom screamed as a jolt of pure pain raced through him. She found it hard to feel sorry for him.
After a long moment of watching the sandy haired man writhe in the deck, B’Elanna turned off the pain stick. A quick nod to Harry and Tom was quickly hoisted to his feet and pulled to the rear of the small procession.
"Impressive." Dilos muttered.
"It keeps them in line." B’Elanna muttered as she glared at Tom.
She calmly returned the short slim device to the small holster like pouch at her side all the while hoping Dilos would not want another demonstration. She had known they’d need a suitable device for punishment and that the device would have to be operable in case any of the Bidelli should become interested. She had even suspected that she’d have to use it on Tom at least once. What she had not counted on was that the helmsman would be so overconfident and sure of his boyish charm. Her internal debate was fierce but short lived. Tom had been directly responsible for their being here in the first place. She would keep Harry and especially Seven safe, no matter the cost.
"The feast will begin in two hours." Dilos said as Koron oversaw the removal of his personal effects from the large quarters. "That will give plenty of time to have your slaves bring your belongings here and prepare for the meal," Looking Seven from head to toe he added, "and still have some time to relax."
B’Elanna had been expecting some kind of comment. She didn’t miss a beat. Walking over to where Seven and the two men were standing she casually ran her fingers up Sevens arm. Her fingers slipped into the open seam as she replied in a purring tone. "I have three weeks before my ship will find me. Time to relax isn’t going to be a problem."
Koron and Dilos laughed uproariously at that. B’Elanna didn’t laugh as she felt the shiver that worked its way up Sevens arm following the trail her finger had just made. Her look became speculative as she took note of the fact that Seven had turned her head to the side and away trying to conceal a slight blush.
Both men were still chuckling as they headed for the door. "I’ll send an orderly to escort your slaves to the landing bay so they can collect your things. I’ll tell him to hurry. We wouldn’t want to keep you from your relaxation for too long." Koron said with a grin as the door closed behind him.
The instant the door closed, B’Elanna took her hand off Sevens arm. "Ok, before..." she started only to be interrupted by Tom.
"Hey that was.." he began. B’Elanna interrupted him in turn with a forearm across his throat.
"Quiet!" she roared. "I did not give you permission to speak"
Turning her head slightly she could see Harry’s look of confusion. Seven on the other hand was looking at her with the same passivity she had displayed since they boarded the ship. Tom for the moment was not a problem, he was too busy just trying to breath past the pressure on his neck.
Hoping that Seven understood, she took out a small tricorder from her belt. "Take care of this." she said gruffly tossing the device to Seven.
Seven glanced at Harry. "Do you wish me to also remove any recording devices I may find, my Lady?" she asked still looking at Harry. The Asians eyes widened in sudden understanding. B’Elanna let a small sigh of relief escape. Seven had, with that one question, informed the two men that they were not done with the charade just yet.
"Yes. Bring anything you find to me and let me know once you’ve finished." she replied as Seven began to scan the large living room. It was barely an effort of her Klingon strength to toss Tom across the room. Giving Harry a pointed look she told him, "When the orderly comes for you I want you to engage the seals on the shuttle and then bring our supplies back here. Until he gets here, I want you to keep that fool quiet."
Harry fought the urge to flinch as Tom landed with a thud in the corner of the room. The instant Seven had spoken he’d realized that there was a good chance they were being observed by the Bidelli. Until she completed the scan, he had to stay in character. He also understood B’Elanna putting the job of keeping Tom under control in his hands. If the Bidelli were watching they’d suspect any leniency on her part. Harry would be able to use less harsh measures. Looking up, he saw B’Elanna looking at him with a frown and arms crossed over her chest. He’d been thinking about this latest turn and had failed to reply. Fortunately, they had discussed acceptable behaviors. Quickly bowing his head he said. "Of course my Lady. I will keep him quiet."
B’Elanna glared at the bowed head for a moment for the sake of any possible unseen recording devices. "See that you do." she finally replied before turning and leaving the room without a backward glance.
Helping the pilot to his feet he then gave a small shove and started Tom towards the door to wait for the orderly. When Tom looked about to say something, Harry pushed him none too gently against the wall. A pointed look was all it took for Tom to realize that Harry was not going to move out of character until Seven had completed the scan.
"Well?" she asked gruffly the instant she saw Seven coming from the back rooms of the spacious quarters. She would take the time to wonder about the luxury the officers of this ship enjoyed later. Right now she needed to know if her assumption was right. She also had an idea of her own and was hoping that she could alter one of the Bidelli devices that she was sure they would find.
Seven let a small pile of electronics spill from her cupped hand into B’Elannas. "I have found seven devices so far, my Lady." Ending the sentence with ‘my Lady’ told B’Elanna that the scan was still not complete.
"Continue with the scan. If you need me, I’ll be in the other room." she ordered with a small grin. This deception had one advantage at least. Seven couldn’t argue or dispute any of the hybrids orders.
Taking the small devices, she moved back into the dining area and spread them across the small table. "I feel like one of Toms Captain Proton characters." she muttered as once again she reached into the belt at her waist, this time withdrawing a small set of tools. The belt and its assortment of devices and tools had been the one and only thing they’d let Tom help with. With his immaturity and juvenile tendencies he’d had no problem understanding why the leader, or in this case master, would be the only one allowed to carry such important equipment. It had taken him only seconds to program the replicator with the proper parameters. Now B’Elanna had a full compliment of standard equipment in miniature, as well as a few extras, all tucked into the compartments of a slightly bulky belt worn around her waist. Even B’Elanna had been forced to admit that the belt and its amazingly large assortment of equipment could end up being very useful.
She chuckled quietly to herself at the irony of Tom’s childishness actually being helpful for a change as she started work on the tiny devices.
Harry and Tom were still gathering their supplies. The orderly had come for them within minutes of Koron and Dilos leaving the spacious quarters. There were things on the flyer they didn’t really need but wanted to keep close to be sure that the Bidelli didn’t try to copy the technology. The two men also had to secure the small ship and do all the grunt work with no help from the ‘master’ or her ‘favourite’. There was already a moderate pile of various equipment piled against the wall.
"I have removed the last of the devices." Seven stated impassively as she let the tiny objects in her hand spill onto the table beside the ones B’Elanna was already working on.
B’Elanna looked up with a grin. "Good. Just in time too. Sit down." with happy impatience she pushed out the chair beside hers and motioned towards it.
Seven sat and waited to find out what had the smaller woman so excited. B’Elanna seemed to ignore Seven as she continued to fiddle with the tiny bunch of wires in her hand. "What am I ‘just in time’ for?" Seven finally asked.
B’Elanna turned slightly and held up a small bit of metal with almost hair fine wires hanging from it. "You are just in time for this." she exclaimed triumphantly.
"You have disassembled the devices I found earlier." Seven stated. Her look of complete boredom was not lost on the engineer.
The fact that Sevens answer irritated her was not nearly as shocking as the matter of how she quickly moved past the usual anger. Instead of anger at Sevens lack of interest, all she could think of was the ex-drones reaction to the simple touch of her finger tracing up her arm earlier.
Shaking her head to rid herself of that image, she forced herself back to the topic at hand. "This." she stated with more force than necessary, "was one of the audio devices you found already. I reconfigured two of them so we can keep in direct contact with each other."
"We have our communicators for that." Seven reminded calmly.
In the months since they’d began the slipstream project she’d come to know the Lieutenant quite well. B’Elanna had also gotten to know the ex-drone much better than she ever thought possible.
Seven knew that B’Elanna had a reason for configuring the device so she simply waited for the smaller woman to explain. B’Elanna knew that Seven was not belittling or criticizing but merely asking for clarification in a way that was uniquely Seven. Two sentences that would have been the start of an argument months ago, didn’t even cause a ripple as B’Elanna explained.
"Our communicators can be overheard. This is almost subvocal. We’ll be able to talk even in a crowded room and no one will be able overhear." She said with a grin.
"You have produced only two of the devices." Seven observed.
"Only you and I have sharp enough hearing. If I made them loud enough for Tom and Harry it would be possible for the Bidelli to overhear if they were close enough." B’Elanna explained.
Taking one of the small altered devices, Seven examined it carefully. "It will need to be positioned very closely to the ear to be of any use." she stated.
"I know. I should be able to put yours inside the implant under your ear." she replied.
"You do not have an implant near your ear." Seven said with a small grin.
"No, but I do have a new earring." the hybrid replied as she turned her head to show Seven where her device was concealed. A small gold hoop was now looped through the Lieutenants right ear.
"I thought piercing of the extremities was no longer a social practice among humans." Seven commented dryly.
"It isn’t and don’t ask." B’Elanna replied with a grin as Seven focused her eyepiece on the pierced lobe.
Seven decided not to comment and turned her attention back to the subject of the devices themselves.
"There is no space within my implant for an audio device. You will have to find another solution." she stated calmly.
Within minutes, Seven found herself the unamused owner of a much smaller gold earring almost identical to B’Elanna’s.
"I find this precaution unnecessary." Seven repeated with the faintest of whispers. They were testing the devices and they were working perfectly.
B’Elanna answered from the next room just as quietly. "Let’s hope not, but if we do need them you’ll thank me for not trusting our hosts."