Just as the two met back in the main room, the doors slid open to reveal Harry half dragging Tom through the doors. Tom was badly bruised with an open cut on his cheek. Right behind them were two big Bidelli soldiers. They were obviously angry as they followed the men into the room.
"What the hell is going on?" B'Elanna practically shouted as her mind went into overdrive. Giving Seven a quick look she was grateful for the Borg attitude that kept Sevens shock from being obvious to all. Praying that the woman would stay out of it she glared at the group.
"This one,"said the larger of the two Bidelli with a nod to Tom, "dared to disrespect us."
B'Elanna glared at her two friends. Harry seemed unharmed while Tom was leaning heavily on Harry for support but looked more banged up than truly hurt. He had taken the brunt of the punishment. By the look of the bigger of the two Bidelli at the door it was clear which one they had tangled with. By the glares he was directing at Tom it was also obvious who he had the biggest problem with.
"What happened?" she asked gruffly. She pointedly pulled out the painstick she'd used earlier.
"He was in my way. I told him to move." Tom grumbled. He did not seem to notice B'Elanna as he tried to glare through a swollen eye at the Bidelli soldier.
She did not resist the very Klingon urge to growl.
One simple act of disrespect and Tom had put the whole group in danger... again.
They could have easily killed him for that disrespect and thought of it as nothing more than doing B'Elanna a favour as a guest on their ship. Now she just had to hope Harry and Seven could trust her enough to go along with what she was about to do.
If Tom was going to insist on acting like a child then he deserved a lesson in just how many rights a slave did not have.
Using the tip of the painstick to lift Tom's chin, B'Elanna repeated. "You told?" she pushed up harder forcing Tom to stand unaided. A quick almost imperceptible nod and Harry stepped away and over to stand beside Seven.
"Yeah. I told him..." the rest was cut off as B'Elanna's fist made contact with his already swollen eye. A stomach punch driven by Klingon strength sent him to the floor.
"You don't 'tell' your betters anything, slave!" She growled as she kicked him out of the way.
Two quick steps and she was facing the larger of the two Bidelli solders. "You damaged my property." she stated bluntly.
"I disciplined a slave. As was my right." the soldier returned just as bluntly.
"It is not your right to touch my property." she growled as she stepped closer. She wanted to go kick Tom one more time for good measure. She was about to challenge a man whose whole ideology was the survival of the fittest, just to protect a 'slave'. She knew she would win. The Bidelli she was challenging knew she would win, and that didn't matter in the least. If she didn't do this just right, she would lose face and quite possibly all their lives in the bargain.
The soldier, though bigger had just hours before seen this small woman easily beat the ships second. He wavered between backing down and his own indignation. "If this piece of trash were better trained I would not have needed to damage him."
Seven had instantly understood what B'Elanna was doing. Though Harry had enough trust to hold his place and not interfere, it was Seven who understood the risk. If B'Elanna was seen to be weak or soft, especially towards those deemed inferior by the standards of the Bidelli caste system, she would lose all the status she had gained by fighting Koron.
"Mistress?" she asked as she stepped forward. "Perhaps this is a misunderstanding?" she stopped a pace away and waited with her head bowed.
The painstick was still in her hand, so she used it to lift Sevens chin as she had Toms moments ago. The difference this time was that the touch was infinitely more gentle... A fact that was not lost on the two watching Bidelli. Once she met B'Elanna's waiting gaze, the stick seemed to move away of its own accord.
B'Elanna waited until Seven met her eyes before speaking. 'Might as well establish who the favourite is' she thought. Out loud she grated, "What is there to misunderstand? He damaged my property."
"These soldiers do not know that Tom has recently come into your possession. It is also possible that they do not share the Klingon custom that a warrior may only discipline his or her own slaves." Seven lied calmly.
B'Elanna wanted to kiss Seven for that bit of quick thinking. Now she could pass it off as a cultural difference and risk nothing. She turned to the largest soldier once again. "My slave has a point. I didn't think to mention, that one," said with a sneer in the direction of Tom who had just finally caught his breath and was struggling painfully to his feet. "is still very much at the beginning of his training."
"Yes, they are difficult to train at first." The big man agreed. He knew he would have lost a fight with this woman so he was as happy as B'Elanna that a better solution had been found.
"Especially this one." B'Elanna grated before moving on. "Klingons don't touch another's property without permission, that includes slaves. If there are any more problems I would prefer that I be informed and I will administer the punishment myself."
With honour intact on both sides, the man was only too happy to cooperate. "It is not like that with us. I supposed we value our property differently. But, just so there are no more misunderstandings, I will inform the rest of the crew."
"That would be a good idea." B'Elanna agreed.
"Now that this is settled, may I show you to the banquet? It will be starting soon and you might enjoy a chance to meet the rest of the officers under better circumstances." With a grin he held out his hand. "I am lieutenant 2nd class Brevis and this silent one is my assistant Droma."
The smaller man, who had silently remained by the door during the entire confrontation, finally came forward and shook hands with B'Elanna. Without having said a word, he then retreated back to wait by the door.
"I would be happy to let you guide me to the food." B'Elanna said with a grin, "But first there is one small matter to attend to."
Looking to where Tom had just risen to his feet, she moved over to stand in front of him. "Don't think I've forgotten about how this whole thing got started." she said to him a split second before she activated the pain stick and drove it into his stomach. With a shrill scream Tom dropped back to the floor he had taken so long to rise from. He kept screaming as the pressure of the painstick against his stomach kept him from trying to rise or even roll away.
Just as Tom hit the floor, Harry was stopped from rushing to help Tom by Seven's hand on his arm. "She has to do this." Seven said quickly in his ear before Toms screams drowned her out.
Harry did not fully understand, but he knew Seven never lied. He also trusted B'Elanna with his life. He forced himself to remain seemingly calm while one friend tortured another with a Klingon Painstick only a few feet away.