I am Borg - Part 3 - Chapter 8

By Kudara

Disclaimer: Star Trek Voyager and all who sail in her belong to Paramount/Viacom and no infringement of copyright/trademarks is intended.

Rating: PG

Feedback: Always welcome, feedback is what encourages me to keep writing. Please let me know what you like and what you dislike about the story.

Revision History: 02/08/05

Summary: AU Equinox encounter continues.


The Captain froze for a moment then cocked her head to the side slightly and regarded her Chief Engineer steadily for a second from her chair. Then placing her hands deliberately on her desk, she rose to her feet, stood, and refocused her attention on the woman standing in front of her.

In a low, deliberately calm voice she asked, "What causes you to think that Lieutenant?"

B'Elanna replied with a question "You read my report on their engine modifications?"

Janeway nodded silently, came around the desk and leaned back against it, standing closer to B'Elanna, while she continued speaking.

"I asked Commander Burke about the Equinox's engine modifications. The question sent his physiological readings the roof, heart rate, eye dilation, pore size and skin flush levels all increased suddenly. All consistent with high levels of stress, but he didn't look stressed, and he told me that it was an experiment they had tried that didn't work." B'Elanna paused.

"But you don't believe that," Janeway said, and it was more of a statement than a question.

"No Captain, I don't. One, I know what things look like when their in the middle of being worked upon. Granted their engine room isn't in the best shape but nothing was taken apart, nothing showed any signs that they had been working on it at all. If I could figure out what they were using for fuel I bet I could get that engine working." B'Elanna paused again then asked Janeway, "And two, who tries unproven engine modifications in the middle of an attack? His explanation doesn't make any sense."

Janeway nodded looking thoughtful, "Maybe he just didn't want to admit they had made such a poor judgment?" she asked.

B'Elanna hesitated, she didn't want to accept that answer, but she couldn't argue that it might be true. "Maybe, but…" she trailed off, shaking her head.

"Was Seven present as well?" asked Janeway.

"Yes Captain." B'Elanna replied.

"Did she agree with your interpretation of his reaction?" Janeway asked beginning to slowly pace.

"She concurred," B'Elanna assured Janeway and then groaned as she caught the small smile on the Captain's face at her use of Seven's mode of speaking.

Janeway's lips twitched, then she grew somber again. Looking at directly into B'Elanna's eyes she said, "People can react intensely to a question for reason's other than their lying, so it's not quite enough for me to accuse them of hiding something. But your suspicions are certainly enough to make me cautious. I'll inform Chakotay and Tuvok to look for any discrepancies in the information they are giving us."

"And the ship's systems?" asked B'Elanna.

"That will be harder, but I think we can do a few things to make sure they don't abuse their welcome." said Janeway with a reassuring look.

B'Elanna stilled as Seven contacted her with information from the most recent shield scans. "Damn." she breathed out.

Janeway stopped her slow pacing and gave her a sharp frown.

Before Janeway could rebuke her for her language B'Elanna said "The aliens have begun attacking our shields."

Janeway's communicator activated, "Seven to Captain Janeway,"

Janeway stared at B'Elanna for a second then replied in an even tone. She listened as Seven informed her of the situation with the shields, never letting on that she already knew. "I'll be right there, Seven."

The Captain cut off the communicator channel and was silent for a moment. When she started speaking again her voice was quick and decisive "You're supposed to be over on Equinox, go ahead and transport over. Be discrete, but look for anything which might tell you why they modified their engines." Janeway commanded, then before B'Elanna could turn and leave, she suggested with a level look, "Maybe you should start by seeing if the computer core is recoverable."

B'Elanna grinned fiercely back at her, "I'll do that Captain."

Seven finished informing the Captain of her findings careful to not reveal that she was aware the Captain already knew due to B'Elanna's presence. Commander Tuvok was aware of the interlink, but Commander Burke was also present in Astrometrics, so maintaining the deception was necessary. Seven completed her preparations and initiated continuous thermographic scans of Voyager's shields while simultaneously listening to the conversation between B'Elanna and Kathryn.

'Be careful,' she instructed B'Elanna as she transported over to the Equinox.

'There's more Voyager crew over here than Equinox, I'll be fine. And if they did object to me poking around for answers in their computer core we would pretty much confirm that they had something to hide.' commented B'Elanna.

'True,' acknowledged Seven. The slight noise of opening doors caught her attention and she glanced toward them. She was momentarily surprised to see Captain Ransom enter with Captain Janeway, but controlled her reaction and hid it quickly. Seven was not sure what the Captain was planning, but she knew that Kathryn was more than capable of investigating their suspicions while appearing to trust the Equinox officers completely.

During their regular morning briefing they had gone over the information Captain Ransom and Commander Burke had provided them on the aliens. I had not been as much as Seven had hoped, but it had included bio-scans of the aliens.

The bio-scans indicated that the aliens could not live for long outside of their own space. They had also given Seven the information she needed to modify the shield scans she had been conducting to include thermographic data. What the information from the Equinox had not answered was the one question they had been most interested in, why the aliens had been attacking the Equinox in the first place.

Nodding to the two Captains Seven began briefing them on her findings. In the ensuing discussion Seven brought up the alien's inability to remain in their space thinking that if they could find some way to hold them for a few seconds that they might be discouraged from attacking them.

As soon as she mentioned the possibility she noticed definite physiological changes in the two Equinox officers. A look passed between Captain Ransom and Commander Burke and Seven wondered if the tightness of Ransom's jaw indicated he was angry, as it did with Janeway.

Burke turned away from his Captain, and Seven noted he appeared to be even more tense than before, though anyone without enhanced senses would be hard pressed to noted the minute changes. "You use a net." he offered.

Seven looked at him curiously waiting for him to continue.

He hesitated for a slight second, and his eyes flickered over toward his Captain, but he did not look directly at Captain Ransom, who was standing over to the side staring steadily at him. "A multiphasic force field to be exact, we wanted to see what we were up against so we built a small chamber that could keep one of them trapped for several minutes." Oddly enough the man relaxed after saying it, as if speaking it had relieved whatever internal stress he had been under.

"If we build on that we might be able to create a lattice work of multiphasic fields around each ship." said Janeway, her voice revealing her excitement.

Burke glanced at his Captain and Seven's senses sharpened as she detected renewed signs of stress just before he asked the man inquiringly, "Rudy?"

Seven was surprised, Captain Janeway only permitted a few people to call her by her first name, and that was permitted only in private settings.

"That's up to Captain Janeway," the man replied.

Seven looked back at her Captain, who was watching the proceedings with a calm face. "We need to look at that chamber."

Burke opened his mouth as if to speak but a sudden movement by Captain Ransom drew everyone's attention. Looking directly into his First Officer's eyes he said, "That won't be possible," his eyes flicked back to Captain Janeway, "It's in the research lab and that area of the ship was flooded by thermionic radiation during the last attack. It will be days before anyone can go in there."

Indeed, thought Seven quietly to herself, noting the man's steadily increasing tension level. 'B'Elanna, Captain Ransom states that their research lab was flooded with thermionic radiation approximately 45 hours ago. Can you verify this?' Left unspoken but understood between them was the question of whether or not B'Elanna could do this without raising any suspicions.

There was a long moment of silence then B'Elanna replied, 'Wouldn't it be easier to do it from Voyager?'

'Not while Captain Ransom and Commander Burke are present,' replied Seven with a touch of humor.

'I'll see what I can do. But you may just have to wait until they are gone. It would be pretty obvious if I left what I was doing to go take readings outside the research lab right now.' B'Elanna answered.

Seven sent back her acknowledgement, not bothering with putting it into discrete words, and knowing that B'Elanna would understand.

His eyes flitting back and forth between the two Captains, Burke looked uneasy but offered, "The design schematics should be in our auxiliary database."

Burke and Ransom exchanged a quick look, then Ransom looked at Janeway, "We can go over now and see if its there, if you would like to accompany me."

Janeway gave Ransom a brilliant smile, "That would be wonderful," and nodded toward him. Just before they cleared the doorway Janeway turned back and said to Tuvok, "As soon as I get back I'll go over last weeks security review." She gave him one of her lopsided smiles, "I've got some concerns about your proposed suggestions, so please don't implement any of your defense improvements before we have a chance to discuss them."

Tuvok stood absolutely still for a moment, "I would not Captain." He replied carefully.

Janeway stopped smiling, stepped back into the lab and touched his arm lightly, ignoring the fact that the Equinox officers were watching her curiously. "I'm sorry Tuvok, I know you wouldn't. I was just teasing you. You're always very thorough in your suggestions, and I think some of those went all the way back to Devore space."

Tuvok raised an eyebrow at the Captain then inclined his head. "I took no offense Captain."

Janeway stared at him for a moment intently, then nodded and turned to follow Captain Ransom out.

Seven suppressed a sigh of relief, estimating a 95 probability that Janeway had just successfully informed Tuvok that she suspected the Equinox officers were attempting to deceive them, and that he was not to reveal any details of Voyager's defenses.

The Devore comment would be a clear reference to Janeway's deception of Inspector Kashyk, the Devore inspector who had attempted to trick Captain Janeway into telling him the location of a wormhole that telepathic refugees were using to escape detention by his government. Instead, he had found himself to be one deceived by Captain Janeway, and the refugees sheltering on Voyager had gotten away safely.

Seven found herself admiring the Captain's quick thinking and Tuvok's calm reaction to her statement. Though Tuvok did turn in daily security reports, Seven doubted there was a weekly security report, or if there was it probably didn't contain any defensive suggestions. Recalling Janeway's skilled deception of Inspector Kashyk, Seven almost felt sorry for the Equinox officers…almost.

Seven's attention was drawn away from her thoughts by Tuvok speaking, "I must attend to some security matters, I will return as soon as I am able."

Seven nodded silently in reply and as he left the room she returned to monitoring the progress of the latest set of shield scans. Commander Burke remained in the room and from what she could tell he was examining the Astrometrics lab with great interest.

'Their right this place is flooded with thermionic radiation, I'm reading 97.898 Sieverts of radiation, and I've got to move I can hear someone headed this way.' B'Elanna's mental voice intruded then faded quickly.

Seven noted the information and sent back wordless thanks. Returning her attention to her console she began analyzing the information from the latest set of scans, ignoring for the moment the presence of Commander Burke, and wondering how long it would be before Captain Janeway and Captain Ransom recovered the information on the multiphasic chamber Equinox had developed.

Seven was not particularly patient by nature, and the combination of possibly getting access to information that would allow her to protect Voyager, while having to wait for said information left her feeling rather irritable.

'Quit pacing,' B'Elanna's mental voice almost caused her to physically jump in surprise.

Seven was confused, 'I am not pacing, I am analyzing the current shield scans.'

'You feel like your pacing, it's very distracting.' replied B'Elanna, and Seven could clearly sense overtones of amusement in the communication.

'I am sorry,' Seven hesitated then admitted. 'I am awaiting information from Kathryn.' Seven proceeded to relate to her wife all that had happened since she had informed the Captain of the alien's attacks on Voyagers shields.

'Damn, she's good,' B'Elanna's admiration was clear as she responded to Seven's relating of the conversation between the Captain and Tuvok. 'Now I understand why you wanted me to verify that the research lab was actually flooded with radiation. Captain Ransom certainly didn't seem to like Max telling us about that multiphasic chamber did he.'

'That was my conclusion as well,' agreed Seven. The unmistakable feeling of being stared at drew Seven's attention and she glanced over at Commander Burke. He was staring at her curiously, and upon noticing that she had noticed, he flushed slightly.

"I'm sorry I was just curious about…" he paused obviously searching for what term to use.

"My exoskeleton," Seven replied calmly.

Burke blinked once, and Seven got the impression he was surprised by the term.

"Oh," He paused again. "I thought it was…" he looked uncomfortable.

Seven raised a metal encircled brow inquisitively.

"A tattoo, actually." he seemed to regain his confidence. "It's very beautiful by the way."

"Thank you," Seven replied politely and turned back to her work then waited patiently wondering how long it would take him to ask her for more information. After a few seconds of continued silence Seven noticed him start to shift uneasily as he stared at her. After 46.79 seconds of silence Burke finally spoke, but it was not to ask her any more questions about her appearance.

"How long will it be before the latest scans are complete?" he inquired.

Seven hesitated for a moment, computing the amount of time until the scans completed and the time she would need to complete her analysis. "One hour thirty-seven minutes Commander."

He rubbed his hands together and Seven noticed he looked rather pleased, "I think I'll go visit your mess hall in that case. We've been on emergency rations for the past few months and the thought of eating actual food…"

Seven considered warning the Commander for a fraction of a second. Neelix's culinary creations had certainly become more palatable with her assistance, but that simply meant the majority of the meals served were now edible. It only took a moment for Seven to decide that she would not speak unfavorably about Neelix with this man, especially as she suspected he was deceiving them. "Enjoy your meal Commander," she said politely with a nod in his direction. He nodded in return and exited the lab.

Seven waited two minutes and then verified that he was on his way to the mess hall. She wanted to scan the Equinox research lab, but she knew that it would slow the current scan of Voyager's shields. Uncertain whether or not to do so, she turned to her wife for guidance, 'B'Elanna I am alone now and can scan the Equinox's research lab, but doing so will delay the current shield scan by 15.34 minutes. I am uncertain whether I should proceed or ask the Captain.'

Seven could feel her wife weighing the possible outcomes of each decision exactly as she had done earlier, and wondered whether or not she would come to the same conclusion.

B'Elanna replied after a few moments 'The Captain needs to make that decision.'

Seven sighed in relief; ever since they had begun their abridged version of command school she had gained valuable insights into the duties and responsibilities of Captain Janeway. It had made her much more sympathetic and understanding as to why many decisions needed to be made by the petite Captain.

During one of their discussions, Janeway had stated it quite bluntly one night, "If I'm going to be court-marshaled for a poor decision, I would like to at least have been the one who made it."

'We are in agreement then,' Seven responded to B'Elanna and in reply received a quick

flash of amusement and affection from the half-Klingon.

'Speak of the devil,' B'Elanna's mental voice was low and Seven had the impression she was distracted. 'She's right here, I'll see if I can't get her away from Captain Ransom long enough to ask, or at least let her know she needs to contact you.'

Seven was momentarily occupied with deciphering the meaning of the colloquialism B'Elanna had used. She was fairly certain that B'Elanna was not inferring that Kathryn was either evil, or a supernatural being. From her wife's usage of the phrase it seemed to refer to the fact that Captain Janeway had appeared shortly after they had been speaking about talking to her. Satisfied that she had correctly deciphered the meaning of the colloquialism Seven noted the phrase and usage in the linguistics portion of her cortical node database and awaited further communications.

While she waited, Seven continued analyzing the data from the thermographic scan currently in progress. Seven was pleased to see that the information indicated that the alien's attacks had not increased in intensity and that Voyager's shield's were not degrading any faster than the first scan had indicated.

'She says to go ahead.' B'Elanna's message interrupted into Seven's concentration.

Seven responded 'Understood,' and promptly diverted some of Astrometrics resources from scanning Voyager's shields. One minute and 15.8 seconds later Seven began receiving information from her scans of the Equinox. Puzzled she inquired of B'Elanna, 'You were standing by the research laboratory door when you scanned for thermionic radiation?'

'Yes, why?' B'Elanna responded with prompt inquisitiveness.

Seven glanced over the data again verifying it, 'Because I now read 98.187 Sievens. I will attempt to ascertain why the radiation is increasing instead of decreasing as would be expected from the information Captain Ransom gave.'

B'Elanna did not reply, but Seven sensed a sharp curiosity from her as she waited for Seven to gather more information.

Seven narrowed the focus of her scans, attempting to ascertain the reason for the increased radiation. Analyzing the incoming information Seven felt a cold sensation settle in her middle, and noted absently that she was having an adrenal response to what she had just found. 'Three EPS conduits have been rerouted to Equinox's research laboratory; I believe they are the reason for the increasing thermionic radiation.'

There was absolute silence from B'Elanna for a full second, then a rush of anger, 'I can't believe it, we run into another Federation ship and they turn out to be honorless p'taqs. Kathless, but Kathryn isn't going to like hearing this.'

Seven could only agree with the last statement, 'No, she isn't,' being well aware of Kathryn's dislike of being lied to. Hearing the doors open behind her Seven identified the person entering the lab before she completed her movement to clear the information from the Equinox scan. Seven glanced over at the Captain verifying that she was alone.

'The Captain is here, I will show her the information now.' Seven informed B'Elanna.

Before Seven could speak Janeway held up a PADD she was carrying, "The information on the multiphasic chamber." she announced.

Seven stepped back from the console slightly, and accepted the PADD from Janeway. She didn't look it immediately, instead she said in a low voice, "Three EPS conduits on the Equinox have been rerouted to their research laboratory, I believe they are the source of the thermionic radiation." Seven indicated the console displaying the information and Janeway promptly stepped over to scan over the data herself.

After a few seconds she looked back up, but not to look at Seven, instead she stared blankly at a readout on the wall, her face tight and Seven heard a small minute sound she would swear were the Captain's teeth grinding together. No, the Captain did not like hearing this news at all, but then they had known she wouldn't.

Janeway turned abruptly toward Seven, "Make the shield modifications your top priority. I'll get B'Elanna back over here to work on it as well, we need those modifications as soon as possible." The Captain's voice was sharp and abrupt, betraying her anger. "Encrypt all of the information from your scans of the Equinox and send it my Ready Room."

Seven had straightened almost instinctually, at the tone of Janeway's voice and clasped her hands behind her back, "Yes, Captain," Seven replied.

The Captain turned and headed for the doors.

"I am sorry," Seven said in a low uncertain voice to her retreating back, feeling troubled about being the source of the information that had made Kathryn so angry.

The petite red haired woman stopped abruptly and turned to look over her shoulder with a puzzled expression. Then noting the Borg like stance, which had become so unusual for Seven after what had happened on Mulara, and realizing what Seven was apologizing for, she turned around and walked back to the ex-Borg. Her face softened and she placed a comforting hand on the taller woman's arm. "You have nothing to be sorry about. You and B'Elanna were absolutely right to bring your suspicions to me. I'm not angry with you, I'm angry at them for lying and hiding something from us." She squeezed Seven's arm under her hand gently and waited.

Seven's face cleared and she nodded her understanding, realizing in dismay how she was standing, Seven flushed slightly and dropped her hands to her sides.

Kathryn decided to just ignore the obvious change in Seven's stance, not wishing her to feel any more uncomfortable than the blond woman already was. "I need to brief Tuvok and Chakotay," she said, still gripping Seven's arm lightly.

"I'll transfer the information now, Captain." Seven assured her, feeling more confident now that she understood the source of Kathryn's upset.

Kathryn nodded, gripped the arm she still held reassuringly one last time then released it and turned briskly. Seven saw her command mask settle over her face and watched as Captain Kathryn Janeway exited the lab.

As she encrypted the data from the Equinox and forwarded it to Janeway's terminal in her Ready Room, Seven contacted B'Elanna and informed her about everything that had occurred in the past few minutes.

'I'll put Vorik in charge over here and come right over,' B'Elanna replied and Seven caught overtones of intense curiosity from her lover.

Seven smiled to herself in the empty lab, knowing that B'Elanna was anticipating the challenge of modifying the chamber design from Equinox as much as she was. Even though it was a necessity that they complete this task quickly, both of them looked forward to the mental stimulation of solving a complex problem together.

Once B'Elanna had informed Vorik that he was now in charge of the Equinox repair effort she continued, 'I don't think we are going to be able to get any information from their computer core. It's just too damaged. Right now it can't do much more than run basic ships functions.' Seven noted the frustration in her wife's mental voice with concern. 'It would have been so much easier if I could have found out what they were hiding from it.' B'Elanna finished, her disappointment strong through the interlink.

Seven could not think of anything to say that would make her B'enal not feel disappointed. It frustrated her, as she understood completely why the half-Klingon was upset, since she reacted in the same manner when circumstances caused her to not be able to fulfill the Captain's wishes. Finally, she did the only thing she could, send her feelings of support through their interlink, and let her wife know that she understood.

While she was waiting for B'Elanna to arrive, Seven started loading the information obtained from the Equinox into Voyagers computers. Choosing one of the side consoles she displayed the information obtained on it, and then went over to view it. Just as she was beginning to examine the energy field data, B'Elanna entered the Astrometrics lab with Commander Burke.

"The latest shield scan should be done," Burke was saying as he entered Astrometrics.

As B'Elanna stepped around the main console to join Seven he stepped up to the main console and examined the readouts. Burke switched his gaze from the console to Seven and said in a puzzled tone, "I thought you said the scans would be completed by now?"

Seven felt a flutter in her stomach and recognized it as fear, as she wondered how to explain why the scans were just finishing instead of being completed. Taking a breath to calm herself, Seven searched her memory for past events that had caused similar delays. "A power diversion has delayed the completion of the current scan, it should be finished in two minutes." she stated and was pleased to hear her voice remain steady and calm.

'Good save,' B'Elanna's mental voice was warm and reassuring, and felt remarkably like a brief hug.

"Oh." Burke replied briefly. Something passed over his face, and Seven thought he was looking at her a little more coldly, and perhaps suspiciously, but she was not certain.

"Yea, sometimes someone thinks that just because she has an in to the Chief Engineer that Astrometrics can have all the extra power available." B'Elanna interrupted in a teasing tone, smiling at Seven, and drawing Burke's attention away from her.

'I know you don't, but go with it. He looked suspicious.' B'Elanna instructed silently, as she made the statement aloud. Along with the unspoken words was a mental image of what B'Elanna wanted Seven to do in reaction to what she had just said.

Following the instructions, Seven raised an eyebrow at her wife, expelled her breath in a low huff, and turned back to the data on the multiphasic chamber, acting as if she were now ignoring the half-Klingon.

A short bark of laughter from behind her let her know that she had succeeded in eliciting the reaction from Commander Burke that B'Elanna had desired.

"Nice energy matrix, who developed it?" B'Elanna turned and looked inquiringly at Max, keeping her tone and gaze light, as she checked to make sure he no longer looked suspicious.

Burke hesitated a moment, "Gillmore and I did."

"Not a bad job, Max. Maybe you're a better engineer than you thought." B'Elanna grinned at Equinox's First Officer teasingly.

Burke snorted and placed his hands on his hips as he regarded the half-Klingon, "Not good enough. I thought about creating a lattice work of multiphasic force fields to cover Equinox, but I couldn't figure out how to get it to work."

B'Elanna nodded and turned back to the console to examine the data from the Equinox. She tapped one fingernail against the metal edge of the console as she examined the information trying to figure out what about it seemed familiar.

"Species 259," Seven stated, and suddenly B'Elanna made the connection that had been eluding her. Species 259 was an omnicordial life form that inhabited Galactic Cluster 3. The Borg had obtained the pattern duplication design used in their autonomous regeneration sequencers from them. They had also obtained quite a lot of other technology, one of which was an unusual shield matrix whose individual units bore a close resemblance to the one she was currently looking at.

"I believe it will be easier to modify Voyagers security grid generators to emit multiphasic frequencies than to undertake modifications to the shield generators." Seven stated looking over at B'Elanna who was standing almost shoulder to shoulder with her.

B'Elanna considered this for a moment then nodded her head abruptly once. Frowning slightly, she considered the problem before them, and silently cursed Max's presence behind them. She really, really wanted to work on this problem with Seven through their interlink. There, thoughts and images flowed rapidly back and forth between them in a dance of intellect that B'Elanna found almost as stimulating as their lovemaking.

Seven catching the overtones of her lover's mood, if not the actual thoughts, glared at the reflection of the person standing behind them, wishing that the First Officer of the Equinox would leave her alone with her B'enal.

"Species 259? I've never heard of them." came the voice of Max Burke from behind them.

Seven stated coolly, "Their Borg designation. Their designation for themselves is impossible for a humanoid to produce, as they do not communicate by utilizing sound, but by transferring complex chemical structures between communicants. They are an omnicordial life form inhabiting Galactic Cluster 3."

"How do you know that?" asked Burke, surprise obvious in his tone.

Surprised, B'Elanna turned around and looked at him realizing belatedly that the Captain hadn't already explained to the Equinox crew that Seven had been severed from the Collective. Glancing at her wife she thought she understood, it wasn't as if Seven wasn't distinctive now, but with her new exoskeleton she was no longer recognizable as having been Borg. B'Elanna thought that Janeway had probably decided to leave it up to Seven whether or not strangers needed to know her past.

Seven turned smartly and in a voice rather devoid of emotion informed the Commander, "My parents were studying the Borg. They and I were assimilated in 2355; Captain Janeway separated me from the Collective on stardate 51004. On stardate 52668 I was killed on the planet Mulara. Two days later I was revived by an energy being revered by the Mularan's as their goddess Mulara with my exoskeleton and implants as they are now."

'Succinct, brutally succinct. I like it.' B'Elanna informed Seven, trying not to laugh out loud at the shocked look on Max's face. As the shock faded B'Elanna could tell that he was trying to figure out what question he wanted to ask first about the information Seven had just unloaded upon him.

Curious as to what he would ask B'Elanna waited while Seven turned back to the data and began working again.

Burke's attention focused upon B'Elanna, "And yours?"

"Also a gift from Mulara, she believes in equality in a relationship so she gave me the same abilities and knowledge Seven has." B'Elanna replied calmly. Suddenly a sound caught her attention and she stilled, feeling Seven do the same beside her as she noted the sound as well. "Shit, are the shield modifications failing?" she asked turning around and accessing Voyager's shield data from the console.

Seven who had already accessed the shield controls noted that Tuvok and Harry were also interfacing with the controls and were accessing the same information as she. "They are concentrating their attack on the lateral shields. Ensign Kim is already rerouting power back to those shields."

"The auxiliary emitters couldn't react fast enough," B'Elanna finished.

Both of them were currently ignoring the slightly wild eyed Equinox First Officer holding Astrometrics emergency phaser behind them.

"We have to figure out these modifications now," B'Elanna commented tersely, bringing back up the chamber specifications.

Seven stated simply "Agreed." and began working with her.

After a few moments they both identified the sounds of Burke reattaching the phaser in its holding brackets under the main console. "I think I'll see how the rest of my crew is doing after that." he stated from behind them, and his voice clearly revealed the stress he was feeling.

B'Elanna turned her head long enough to meet his eyes for a moment and nod an acknowledgement before turning back and focusing on the equations Seven was working on to modify the security energy grid to emit multiphasic frequencies. As soon as the doors shut behind the departing Equinox First Officer, B'Elanna said aloud, "Computer Seal Astrometrics doors, authorization Torres one omega five one." Then she murmured just loud enough for Seven to hear, "Now lets get this done."

Focusing on their interlink, B'Elanna accepted Seven's offer of full integration, for an instance it felt chaotic as she merged with Seven's consciousness. Then the chaos cleared as she focused on the calculations which Seven was concentrating upon. Unconsciously she wrapped one arm around Seven's waist and drew her physically close as well. Within nanoseconds she was comfortable in their merged consciousness and their integrated thoughts focused on their objective.

'Wave pattern…Yea, that looks good…Lets modify the security grid to emit multiphasic frequencies, I think this will work.' For over thirty minutes they traded ideas, discarded those that did not seem promising and focused on those that seemed likely to succeed.

The sound of the seal being overrode caught their attention for a moment, long enough for them to realize, 'Kathryn… the Captain,' and continue their work as the other woman entered.

Janeway had been surprised when she the doors to Astrometrics had not opened when she approached them. Finding her Chief Engineer's seal on them had given her a moment of hesitation before she looked left and right to make sure the corridor was clear before she overrode it. When she entered the lab her first response had been to reprimand the two women standing in a loose embrace before one of the side consoles. Fortunately she caught sight of the rapidly changing screen before she uttered even one annoyed word.

Her breath caught in her throat as she realized what must be going on, Seven had described how it felt to fully open herself to their interlink, how wonderful it was for them to merge their thoughts and work through a problem together. Watching the two she realized that though they had one arm wrapped around the other, each one's free arm was busy entering data rapidly. Quickly she resealed the doors with her command codes and walked closer to the two figures.

Watching she found herself wondering how they managed to each enter in data without one messing up what the other was entering. Janeway focused on the view screen trying to figure out how far they had gotten with developing a defense against the aliens. After a few moments she realized they were currently working out how to modify the security grid generators to emit multiphasic frequencies.

Watching closely as the screen flickered and changed as the two rapidly entered information, Janeway tried to keep up with the modifications the two were working out. The screen changed and focused in upon one grid and Janeway looked with interest upon the equations detailing the frequency and energy emissions of the security grid. The rapid data entry ceased for a moment and Janeway tried to figure out what about the grid was giving them problems.

'Odd……There seems to be no exit from this field once the interspacial rift completes.' for a moment Seven contemplated B'Elanna's thoughts. 'You are correct…' there was a pause. 'The alien they said they captured died then, as it could not return to it's own space…Damn, question is did they mean to, and did they use this before or after the aliens started attacking them…I do not know, but if we modify the wave form in this manner…Yes, that works, it will give them a way to go back to their space.'

Slowly, carefully and with no little reluctance, the two separated their thoughts and settled back into their own individual minds, parting physically as well, though not moving very far apart from one another.

As soon as she reoriented herself B'Elanna said tersely, "Captain, we discovered something that may have something to do with why the aliens are attacking."

Seven pulled up the energy matrix of Equinox's multiphasic chamber while Janeway closed the short distance that remained between them.

When she came up beside them B'Elanna continued while pointing to the matrix, "There's no way out, once the alien appears in our space and is caught inside it can't return."

Seven continued, "Also, I can find no method of shutting down the energy field without collapsing it, which would have the side effect of killing whatever was held inside. We have modified the energy field equation Voyager will be using to allow them to exit back into their own space." Seven brought up the modified energy matrix on the next viewing screen.

Captain Janeway's face tightened, betraying the anger that was building inside, "Well now I understand why Ransom was not happy Burke told us about this." She directed a sharp look at Seven, "We will be able to bring our security grid down normally even with these modifications?"

"Yes, Captain. Bringing down one of the security grids will not harm any humanoid or alien contained inside the energy field." Seven reassured her.

Janeway stood silently for a few moments then from the sudden resolution on her face came to a decision. "I think it's time we got a few questions answered."