It took only a few seconds to locate Dilos and Koron sitting with a group of higher ranking officers. They were lounging in comfortable overstuffed chairs grouped to the side of the door they had just entered. Unlike the rest of the room, this small area seemed to be the calm in the storm. Droma disappeared into the crowd while B’Elanna and Brevis took seats with the senior officers. Seven smoothly moved behind B’Elanna’s chair and took up her usual Borg stance.
Both Dilos and Koron gave the tall blond an appraising look. Within seconds all of the officers were looking at Seven with varying degrees of interest.
"She’s not for sale." B’Elanna stated bluntly, looking directly at Dilos for a moment before glaring around the group.
"Easy warrior." Dilos said calmly. "Earlier some of us wondered if you’d be interested in selling her. She wasn’t wearing your mark then. Now that she is... well, we’re just enjoying the view."
*Mark?"* Seven questioned through their listening devices. To the staring men, she seemed as if she were completely ignoring their presence as she looked around the room with an air of boredom.
*The earrings. They think they’re my mark. My personal symbol.* She quickly told Seven under the guise of considering Dilos’ statement. To Dilos and the group in general, she stated. "The view you are welcome to enjoy. Just be sure you don’t touch. There are some things I don’t share, ever."
Dilos laughed uproariously at that. He knew he would not likely share the tall beauty if she were his either. He also knew his chances of winning her through combat were nil so there was nothing left to do but relax and enjoy the evening. "Bring our new friend some ale." he shouted to a passing junior officer who hurried to do his captains bidding.
*They believe my wearing a smaller earring matching yours is proof of your ownership.* Seven stated in a tone that was both commenting and questioning.
While Seven continued to ask questions sub-vocally through the earrings they wore, the Bidelli bombarded B’Elanna with more questions about the Kazon.
It was one of the strangest nights B’Elanna could remember.
Junior officers brawled in small pockets all through the room.
Senior officers traded stories sitting comfortably in the calm center of the storm.
And she and Seven compared notes and observations through it all using the devices disguised as earrings they both wore.
It was while they were moving from the seating area to the dining room that it happened. As they were working their way through the crowd of junior officers the man just behind Seven called forward. "I still say it’s a shame she’s not for sale."
Ardon had been eyeing Seven and making sporadic comments all evening and each rejection had only served to increase his interest. The more he’d drank the more vocal and frequent were his comments.
B’Elanna, walking in front of Seven, merely rolled her eyes and said nothing. She’d already repeated every variation of ‘no’ she could think of. A split second later the man had pulled Seven around and with one arm around Seven’s waist, had her breast in a tight grip. "A real shame." He leered.
"Let go of me" she shouted loudly enough for those nearest to hear. When B’Elanna turned, so did most of the senior officers. Those junior officers nearest had also heard.
With a jolt of pain, Ardon found the hand on the woman’s breast taken in an iron grip. With a slight twist she pushed and he was forced to let go his hold around her waist as he stumbled back. His scream of rage as he tried to rush forward was heard by all.
So was his scream of pain as B’Elanna’s fist found his stomach. Another fist to his jaw and the man stumbled back into a pair of junior officers who had to grab him to keep him from falling.
Seeming to ignore the Ardon, she turned to Seven who was standing stiffly to one side of the rapidly forming circle staring at the ground. Not caring what the watching Bidelli thought, she gently lifted Seven’s chin with two finger until eyes met. "Are you hurt?" She questioned gruffly.
"I am unhurt." Seven replied calmly. "Behind you." she whispered urgently. Ardon had recovered and shaken off the two men holding him up.
B’Elanna turned and motioned Seven to get back. Taking two quick steps forward she prepared for his attack. But rather than swinging at B’Elanna as expected, he ran around the small woman towards Seven. B’Elanna kicked out and sideways just in time and the big man crashed to the floor at Seven’s feet. Seven looked nervously at B’Elanna. As a slave she was not allowed to defend herself. Though she had the built in Borg strength to easily handle Ardon, she had no choice but to stand still and let B’Elanna deal with the drunken man.
B’Elanna had no such problem. The man had been irritating her with his innuendos and comments all evening. He’d gone too far and now was her chance to do something about it. Moving forward she grabbed him by the collar and hauled him to his feet. A punch to the jaw sent him reeling back.
"That slave assaulted me." Ardon shouted around his swollen lip as he once again found himself being held up by the men who formed the edges of the impromptu arena. Pushing away from the men he once again moved forward.
"My slave defended herself. You had no right to touch her." B’Elanna countered as they began to circle each other.
"Slaves do not have the right to defend themselves." he countered angrily as he once again tried to move towards Seven.
B’Elanna circled back to cut off his route. "No one touches her but me. As my body slave it’s her duty to defend herself from anyone who dares to touch her without my permission."
"Then give me your permission. Give me a night with your slave and I’ll forget that she tried to assault me." Ardon offered with a drunken grin.
There was no way she was going to send Seven off with this man for even a minute. Knowing that she was very much a stranger here and hoping to find a way to settle this without having to kill him, she scanned to crowd for Dilos. "Where’s Dilos?" She questioned to the room at large. Maybe the Captain of this ship would offer a solution. Looking to where the muttering and pointed fingers directed, she turned away from Ardon. The instant she was distracted, Ardon attacked. With a roar he grabbed her arm and spun her around. His first punch put a cut in her cheek and his second grazed the first of her four ridges causing the skin there to split as well. As she dropped to one knee he laughed out loud and turned to his real quarry. Without a backwards glance he rushed toward Seven once again.
His howl of triumph was drowned out by a shout of surprise as B’Elanna tackled him just inches from his target. Straddling the man’s chest she punched again and again until the blood ran from his mouth. When he tried to push her off, she batted his arms away as if they were not even there. In a very short time Ardon offered his surrender.
Even the most drunken of the soldiers were suddenly sober as they watched yet another of their senior officers easily beaten by this small dark woman. The silence in the room was total.
With a disgusted sigh she pushed away from Ardon and rose to her feet. Seven had found her way to Dilos, or perhaps it had been the other way around. Nevertheless she moved to where the two were standing.
Dilos was grinning broadly. "Nothing like a good fight to work up an appetite." He’d never liked Ardon and sometimes regretted his people’s custom of appointing rank and position through combat. Ardon was as stupid as he was arrogant, but unfortunately strong enough to keep his post. Maybe a good beating would teach him some manners.
Before B’Elanna could answer, Ardon did. "I conceded this fight to you. But, I still demand the woman. She assaulted me and I will not stand for a slave daring to attack me." Climbing painfully to his feet, he ignored the blood flowing freely from his mouth as he once again advanced on Seven.
Even the junior officers now looked at Ardon with disgust.
"He has no honour." Dilos muttered in a tone that would make a Klingon proud.
This time he was not intercepted by a Klingon fist ... he was intercepted by a Klingon pain stick pressing into his chest.
For a full minute no one moved except Ardon who screamed and writhed on the floor.
"If you try to touch her again, I’ll kill you." B’Elanna said calmly once she turned the device off and returned it to its sheath. With a final grunt Ardon passed out. Turning to Dilos she waited to see if her actions had just cost them everything. She was surprised to see a look of complete understanding.
"Even among our people, a body slave may not be touched by another without permission. When he lost fairly after trying to attack you from behind, it only served to seal his fate. Ardon deserved this and most would have killed him for it." Dilos assured. Considering the matter settled he turned to the watching junior officers. "Ardon acted without honour. Tomorrow a tournament will be held." The sudden cheering drowned out anything else he might have said and with a wave of his hand the group moved into the dining area.
"That was too easy." B’Elanna whispered sub-vocally as they once again moved towards the dining area.
"Ardon broke Bidelli custom and lost face to an outsider. By their laws, you had the right to kill him for tou...." Seven began.
"If he touches you again, I will." B’Elanna interrupted with a suppressed growl. She did not see Seven’s look of surprise. "I still think it was too easy. Stay alert just in case."
"Yes, B’Elanna." Seven replied though she expected she would be very alert for the next three weeks even without B’Elanna saying it. .
As soon as they entered the dining room, B’Elanna was struck by its resemblance to the ancient Roman mode of dining. Divans were arranged along the walls with the center area cleared. Small, low tables were drawn up so the diners could either sit or recline comfortably while eating. Almost everything seemed to be done in shades of red. The imagery of fire and blood was hard to miss.
Tapestries and paintings depicting scenes of various battles lined the walls while the collection of weapons hanging from almost every clear space in between rivaled what B’Elanna had already seem in the ships arena. Servants dressed in plain blue waited patiently, one behind each of the low couches. Obviously this was not going to be the boisterous free for all in the other room where junior officers elbowed their way through to tables heaped with platters of food. As each one took their seat the servant quickly poured a drink and efficiently moved a small table forward on which to rest their drinks and plates once the meal was served.
No matter where one chose to sit, the rest of the room was clearly visible. With that in mind, B’Elanna quickly picked a couch as far away from the noise of the junior officers in the other room as possible. Again she marveled at the luxury and comfort of the senior officers on this ship.
A toss of a pillow taken from the couch, a curt nod and Seven knelt on the floor in front of the couch.
As soon as B’Elanna took her seat, Seven turned.
"I will tend to your wounds." she announced cooly an instant before she reached for B’Elanna’s belt and the pouch she knew contained the medical kit. Kneeling as she was, she could easily reach the now seated Klingon.
"It can wait." B’Elanna announced gruffly, though the reminder made her cuts sting all over again.
"You are still bleeding. I will tend to them now." Seven rejoined with Borg ice, as her fingers found the clasp on the pouch.
Grabbing Seven’s hand she gave the blond a steady look. *They’re staring.* she told Seven sub vocally.
*I am merely attempting to stop the bleeding and heal your wound.* Seven rejoined as she tugged her hand out of B’Elanna’s grip. Aloud she said. "I have no wish to see you suffer needlessly. I will heal your wounds now."
"Then heal them." B’Elanna answered with a growl as she let her hand drop. *You just openly rejected one of their officers. Now, you’re being overly familiar and ignored an order from me.* B’Elanna told Seven as she began the scan. *A slave would never dare to act like this.*
*A slave holding sufficient favour would be allowed to behave in this manner.* Seven rejoined though her eyes had gone wide at the realization that she had just crossed one of the invisible lines in this charade.
*In private yes, in public only rarely. By the look on their faces, it isn’t something that’s considered acceptable here at all. The only reason they accepted you pushing Ardon was because I’d already said I wouldn’t share you and I was able to step in right away.* B’Elanna said. *Relax. Just keep treating my cuts.* B’Elanna said when it looked like Seven was about to pull back. *As long as we don’t offend their customs too much, I don’t think they’ll question how I treat you.*
"I am finished treating your cuts my lady." Seven announced over the mumbling in the room. *I sense there is a ‘but’ to your last comment.* she added as she handed the medical kit back to B’Elanna to put away.
In the guise of putting the kit away, B’Elanna answered. *The ‘but’ is that I can either punish you or put on a little show for our hosts. I really don’t think you want to find out what a pain stick feels like.*
And before Seven could react, she found herself being kissed senseless by a very skilled engineer.