To the Winner

Chapter One

"Captain we are being haled by the Garians," Harry said looking up from his station.

"On screen," Janeway said sitting up.

"Hello and welcome to Garia. I am minister Tuplac, and I welcome you to our planet. You are cleared for landing on platform beta Z in five hours," the alien said.

"It's good to talk to you again Tuplac," Chakotay said smiling. "I look forward to meeting with you."

"Will you be joining us as well Captain?" Tuplac asked.

"I am afraid not minister. I have already made plans to stay at the Trodaz resort. I heard it was quite lovely this time of year."

"You have heard correctly Captain," Tuplac said smiling. "I hope you enjoy our resorts."

"So Chakotay. Who will be joining you?"

"I will be putting an away team together shortly, but you should expect B'Elanna Torres the chief engineer, Harry Kim the opps officer, and Seven of nine the astrometrics officer."

"I look forwards to meeting you all," Tuplac said as he closed the link.

"I know I said you could pick your own away team Commander, but Seven and B'Elanna? Are you sure you know what you are doing?" Janeway asked.

"I have everything under control Captain. It is about time those two started getting along, and this is the perfect way to do it," Chakotay said smiling.

"I hope you know what you are doing Commander," Janeway warned. "If those two create a problem planet side then you will be the one to pay for it."

"I'm sure that everything is going to go smoothly Captain," Chakotay said standing up. "If you will excuse me Captain I will assemble my away team."

"How about it Harry? Do you feel up to some exploring?" Chakotay asked.

"Sure Commander," Harry said smiling.

"Meet me in transporter room two in one hour," Chakotay said leaving the bridge.

Chakotay first made his way to astrometrics. "This should be easy enough, Seven usually follows orders pretty well," Chakotay thought as he entered astrometrics.

Seven turned around from her work to see Commander Chakotay enter. "Hello Commander," Seven said stopping her work.

"Seven meet me in transporter room two in forty-five minutes. We are going planet side," Chakotay said getting ready to leave.

"I do not wish to leave Commander. I am running a sensor scan of the planet," Seven said as she returned to her work.

"You will be able to examine the planet first hand on the away mission," Chakotay said.

"I do not wish to be part of this away mission. There is nothing on the planet I find of interest."

"This is an order Seven, I want you in transporter room two in time to leave, unless you want the Captain to find out you aren't following orders again," Chakotay threatened.

"I will comply," Seven said as she saved her work.

"Good," Chakotay said as he left astrometrics and made his way to engineering. "So much for the easy part," Chakotay thought. "Now how do I convince B'Elanna to go as well? I'm sure I'll think of something," he thought smiling.

Chakotay entered engineering not really looking where he was going. A large group of the engineering staff was standing in a circle, so he decided to find out what was going on. Chakotay pushed a couple of people aside as he made his way to the center of the circle.

"What is going on here?" Chakotay asked looking around.

"What the hell?" B'Elanna shouted as she ran up to Chakotay and pushed him out of the way.

A second after B'Elanna pushed Chakotay a red beam of light shot out of the machine the engineering crew were working on and struck B'Elanna.

For a moment B'Elanna just stood there and blinked a couple of times. Her head felt strange, it was like her brain had been asleep, and it was only now that it was beginning to wake up. She was able to remember conversations she had years ago in perfect clarity, like it only happened a few moments ago.

"Are you okay?" Carey asked B'Elanna.

"Yeah, I'm fine," B'Elanna said as she began to look herself over. Everything seemed to be in place and she was breathing normally.

"What the hell was that B'Elanna?" Chakotay asked from the floor.

"That was an experiment that took six ours to set up, which you ruined in less than six seconds," B'Elanna said remembering the cause of the accident.

"Watch your tone B'Elanna," Chakotay said standing up. "I am still your commanding officer."

B'Elanna was seething. Chakotay came into engineering and completely ruined her experiment, and didn't even have the decency to apologize. She didn't know when it started but over the last couple of years Chakotay had become a little too vain. He was always throwing his weight around and expecting people to bend over backwards for him.

"What do you want?" B'Elanna asked ignoring his earlier comment.

"We're going on an away mission, meet me in transporter room two in half an hour," Chakotay said getting ready to leave.

"What are you talking about? I'm not going. I have to set up this experiment again."

"This is not negotiable B'Elanna. I need you on that away mission," Chakotay said as he left engineering.

"Don't worry about it," Carey told B'Elanna. It's going to take us a while to set up the experiment again. We should have it ready for when you come back from the away mission."

"Fine," B'Elanna said relenting as she went to get ready for the away mission.

Chakotay was already waiting with Harry in the transporter room when Seven arrived. "Who is the other member of the away team?" Seven asked.

As if in answer to her question the doors opened again to admit B'Elanna Torres. She took one look around the room before her eyes settled on Seven. "You can't be serious."

"Look, I need the two of you to be civil to each other. It's high time the two of you learned to get along," Chakotay said. He didn't have to say it but everyone that heard him knew it was only so he could put another feather in his cap. If he could make Seven and B'Elanna stop fighting he assumed people would respect him more.

"If you put us both on an away mission together it will most definitely cause an international incident, one that you will have no one to blame for but yourself," Seven stated.

"For once I have to agree with the Borg," B'Elanna said smirking.

"I have already told you that this was not up for discussion, and if anything does happen the two of you will be held responsible. Now everybody on the teleporter," Chakotay said moving onto the pad.

B'Elanna and Seven eyed each other warily before they stepped onto the teleporter as well. Neither of them knew how they were going to survive the trip without at least an argument.

As soon as the away team materialized they were greeted by minister Tuplac. He greeted them all warmly. "Welcome to Garia. I have arranged a tour of our stadium. You are just in time for the Lodqu'sa."

"Lodqu'sa? What's that?" Harry asked with a friendly smile.

"It is an ancient competition that goes back thousands of years in our culture. Traditionally it was held when two people had a deep personal conflict with another. A win is decided by either points, knock out, or surrender." Tuplac summarized for them.

"Your competition appears barbaric for a species as advanced as yours." Seven replied bluntly, earning her a glare of embarrassment from Chakotay, and Harry's cheeks to redden.

Surprisingly Tuplac didn't take offense to it, in fact he laughed. "Forgive me, I am not explaining as well as I could be. The Lodqu'sa is not about war, but rather peace. It was traditionally fought by Kings of equal power, and political strength. This way one person gets a few bruises, instead of thousands dying for a cause they truly don't believe in."

"You're very similar to democratic government aren't you?" B'Elanna asked. "What possible reason could you have to continue with this competition?" B'Elanna also earned a glare from Chakotay. He considered himself to be the explorer of different cultures, and to put it simply he was getting jealous.

"It is now mainly out of tradition that people compete. When one province has a dispute with another they usually wait for the Lodqu'sa. We have found a way to eliminate the physiological effect of the competition, so it is mostly out of honor that the defeated abides by the wishes of the victor." Tuplac explained.

"Physiological effect?" Chakotay asked curiously. 'This could be the perfect way for B'Elanna and Seven to get along.' He thought.

"Yes, we have discovered that a micro organism effects exists in the oxygen of our planet. We have not figured out how they came to exist, yet they are able to form mental connections with individuals, that last up to a maximum of one year. They are of course perfectly harmless in this day and age." Tuplac said as he noticed the nervous glances of his guests. "The connection is easily dissolved with carboxacide, which is an odorless gas we mix with the oxygen in the stadium after each competition. Neither one will harm any of you. Your doctor has examined both, and agrees with our doctors." Tuplac placated them.

"So there are no negative effects at all?" Chakotay asked, as a plan began to form in his head.

"No actually we find the residual effects quite positive. Both competitors gain a better understanding of their adversaries, and in the long run get along much better with each other. More often than not the competitors become life long friends." Tuplac added.

"Can anyone compete?" Chakotay asked.

"The competition is intended for everyone." Tuplac said, not understanding where this was going.

"What are you planning?" B'Elanna asked, not liking this new direction to the conversation at all.

"How would people be entered into this competition?" Chakotay ignored B'Elanna.

"It is not difficult. I or anyone else with my position in government would only need to authorize it. Are you planning on entering?" Tuplac asked curiously.

"No, no, B'Elanna and Seven are going to be." Chakotay said with a smile. "This is just what they need to get along better."

"I will not comply." Seven said firmly. This was followed by, "What the hell are you on Chakotay," from an agitated B'Elanna.

"You will not use that tone with me Lieutenant. I am your commanding officer and you will do what I say." Chakotay said firmly.

"I feel I must warn you, this is not something to take lightly, but if you need my consent you have." Tuplac said finding the man's behavior a little strange, but who was he to find fault with the customs of another species.

"Are you sure about this Chakotay?" Harry asked. "This is just the kind of thing the Captain warned you about."

"I know what I'm doing Harry." Chakotay dismissed the younger man.

"Look, let me make it simple for you ladies." Chakotay threatened. "You will participate in this competition or you will spend a week in the brig for not following orders from a commanding officer, alone… and with only each other as competition." He threatened.

"I will be filing a complaint against you when we are aboard Voyager." Seven said.

"When this is over you're going to be thanking me." Chakotay said condescendingly.

"I will get you back for this." B'Elanna promised, but she also didn't want to spend a week in the brig with Seven, which she knew she would have to do because no matter what happened it would still be considered disobeying orders.

"When can they start?" Chakotay asked with a smile, knowing that he'd won.

"The competition will start in just a few minutes, if you wish you can be the first." Tuplac offered.

"That would be perfect." Chakotay smiled, while B'Elanna, and Seven glared at him, and Harry looked at the three of them in worry.

"Are you absolutely sure about this Chakotay?" Harry asked as they watched B'Elanna and Seven walk out into the stadium. "I really don't think that the Captain is going to like this." He really didn't want to be around for the Captain's reaction.

"You worry too much Harry." Chakotay said with a laugh. "Seven did fine in the Tukatse tournament, and I know that B'Elanna can fight from her Maquis days."

Chakotay finished just as B'Elanna walked out from the north entrance to the tournament. She had taken off her jacket, and was now only wearing her uniform tank top.

Seven walked out from the south entrance wearing her customary blue bio-suit.

As the symbolic gong was struck the fight began.

Both combatants circled each other, each taking in their opponent, looking for any advantages they could take, and any mistakes they could capitalize on.

Almost a full minute later Seven was the first to strike. She moved forward with a quick jab to B'Elanna's nose.

Everyone could see the surprise in Seven's eyes when not only did the punch not work, but B'Elanna caught the fist in mid air, and with a twist and a spin Seven found her arm locked behind her back.

Seven rolled forward, forcing B'Elanna to let go of her arm as the wind was knocked out of her, at which point Seven quickly put some distance between them to figure out what to do next.

The punch was only meant to test B'Elanna's defenses. She should not have been able to actually catch her fist.

B'Elanna was quick to her feet, too quick from Seven's perspective but she couldn't worry about that now.

Seven had barely any time to react as B'Elanna cut down the distance between them in less than a second.

Even though B'Elanna had a shorter reach than Seven she was able to grab her arm again and put enough force into a hold that it forced Seven to her knees.

Seven wondered where B'Elanna's new strength and speed had come from because no matter how hard she tried even with her implants enhancing her strength B'Elanna's grip was like iron. She could not even break the hold.

As Seven was pondering this B'Elanna released the hold and swept Seven's feet out from under her so she landed on her back.

In the next instant B'Elanna was on top of her and had Seven's arms pinned to the ground by her head, and watched as Seven struggled to break her grip.

Finally after a few moments B'Elanna leaned down until her face was only a few inches from Seven's. "Do you surrender?" She said unable to hold back the smirk on her face. She had finally pulled one over on the Borg.

Seven let out an audible sigh as she turned her head to the side. She obviously could not break B'Elanna's hold, she could barely move as it was. There was only one logical conclusion. "I surrender."

A blue spark of light flashed in between them for a second before they felt the carboxacide fill the air.

It was supposed to break the connection, but it only seemed to make the connection stronger. Finally when the air was cleared B'Elanna picked Seven up in her arms and walked towards the exit.

Chakotay and Harry were on their feet in an instant, and met them at the exit.

Seven was still in B'Elanna's arms, and didn't look like she would be leaving anytime soon.

Tuplac was also right on their heels as they met the two women.

Neither woman was saying anything, but it seemed obvious that something was wrong.

"The mental connection did not break." Tuplac said as he figured it out. "This is not possible both our doctors agreed."

"Two to beam directly to sick bay," was the only thing B'Elanna said as Seven tapped her comm. for her.

The doctor was just preparing for his own shore leave when he noticed Seven and B'Elanna appear in front of him.

"Good lord what have the two of you done now?" The doctor sighed.

"Are you hurt Seven?" The Doctor asked when he noticed that B'Elanna was carrying Seven.

"Something happened on the planet." B'Elanna said for Seven. "You need to examine both of us."

"What happened specifically?" The Doctor asked. "I need to know all the details."

"Chakotay ordered Seven and me to compete in the Lodqu'sa competition. Tuplac said that that the carboxacide was stop us from forming a mental connection, and it didn't work." B'Elanna summarized.

The doctor took out a tricorder and began to scan them both as he grumbled about Chakotay's complete lack of sense, but abruptly stopped as he stared at his tricorder in shock before replicating another one and scanning again only to end up with the same results.

"Doctor to Janeway," the doctor said as he tapped his comm.

"What is it doctor?" Janeway asked somewhat impatiently. More than a little annoyed to have her vacation interrupted.

"You need to return to Voyager… we have a situation, and a possible court martial." The doctor added in slight anger.

"What is it?" Janeway asked as the doctor gained her immediate attention. "Was it Seven and B'Elanna? What happened planet side?"

"Believe me Captain. This is something that you really should hear in person." The doctor said.

"Alright doctor, I'll be there shortly." Janeway said as she closed her link.

"Have a seat." The doctor said as he pointed to the bio-bed.

B'Elanna wordlessly sat down on the bio-bed with a silent Seven now sitting in her lap.

A moment later in a blue shimmer of light an irate Chakotay appeared. "What the hell did you think you two her were doing?" He growled. "You just left me down there with the minister looking like an idiot. The brig is too good for the both of you!"

"That is quite enough Commander." The doctor growled. "This entire mess is your fault."

Another shimmer of light appeared, cutting off Chakotay's retort.

"I am almost afraid to ask what happened doctor." Janeway said as she appeared. "Why are you two sitting like that?" Janeway asked as she looked at B'Elanna and Seven. The very idea of Seven sitting quietly in B'Elanna's lap was hard to rap her head around, even though she was seeing it.

"They have to remain like that for the time being." The doctor said. "It will all become clear when I'm finished." He promised.

"I really hope it does." Janeway said noncommittally.

"B'Elanna did anything else strange happen to you recently?" The doctor asked as tried to make results of his scans.

"There was one thing," B'Elanna offered. "I was hit by a concentrated beam of inverse tacron particles, a little while before the away mission started."

"Inverse tacron particles?" Janeway asked. "Wasn't that the new secondary propulsion system I authorized you to study?"

"Yeah, today was the day we were studying the amount of power it could produce." B'Elanna continued.

"How could you get hit with it?" The doctor interrupted. "I know you take more precautions than that." He admonished.

"I did, and Chakotay walked right into the beam as it was about to fire. I pushed him out of the way, but got caught up in the blast."

"Why didn't you report to sick bay?" The doctor asked.

"Chakotay ordered me on the away mission, and I felt alright."

"Well neither one of you is alright, but your explanation at least allows me to make sense of my scans." The doctor sighed. It didn't look like he was going to get much of a shore leave.

"The inverse tacron particles accelerated your cellular growth. I'm sure you've noticed by know, increased mental capacity, overall strength, and possible increased height.

What you probably didn't notice right away was that it used to be uncontrolled and for the most part random."

"What do you mean used to be uncontrolled?" Janeway asked.

"It goes back to the micro organism in the atmosphere of the planet. When it entered B'Elanna's system and she competed against Seven in the Lodqu'sa, for lack of a better word it increased the cellular growth of the micro organism causing a mutation.

The mental connection was altered to the point that the carboxacide could not affect it, as a result a full connection was made, which will last for a year."

"Why the hell where the two of you even competing in the Lodqu'sa. Didn't you know that the doctor only gave you clearance to go planet side? We have no idea what will happen during the competition." Janeway fumed.

"They're not the ones you should be upset with Captain." The doctor said as he glanced at Chakotay. "They were ordered to compete."

"As soon as we figure out a way to help Seven and B'Elanna, we will certainly be having a long discussion about this." Janeway said as she rounded on Chakotay.

Chakotay for his part just nodded quietly as he found a far corner of sick bay to stare at.

"Sadly there's more Captain, because of the mutation, it isn't simply a mental connection, and it's also a physical connection. They both need to be in close proximity to each other, They are both producing a chemical on their skin that the other has become dependant on." The doctor said.

"Well it does explain the seating arrangements." Janeway said as she felt a headache coming on. "So who won?"

"It was B'Elanna." Chakotay said quietly.

"Does this mean that B'Elanna… let me see if I have this straight is in charge of Seven?" Janeway asked.

"Seven's mine." B'Elanna said simply. The mental connection that they now had giving her a large amount of control over Seven, and also instilling the belief that normally she wouldn't have about another person.

"How do you feel about all of this Seven?" Janeway asked, noticing the tone in B'Elanna's voice. It wasn't a declaration of ownership, but almost sounded like a simple fact.

"I am not alone in my mind anymore. All things considered the situation is not entirely unpleasant." Seven said. It was like being part of the hive mind again, never alone, but not dominated by another mind or a collective will.

To Be Continued…