The shuttle shuddered as it screamed through the atmosphere, the outer hull heating up with the friction

FF: Seven's Heart – part 1

Author: Miss Widget ()

Pairing: B'Elanna / Seven

Disclaimer: Star Trek Voyager belongs to Paramount/Viacom and sadly not to me and no infringement of copyright is intended.

Notes: This story is about a life threatening situation and outcome and also a first time story. Please be kind as this is my first venture into Voyager fanfic.

Thanks: My thanks go to Em for taking the time to beta this for me.


- Part 1 -

The shuttle shuddered as it screamed through the atmosphere, the outer hull heating up with the friction. The glow, at first a dull, sullen red, brightened quickly to an almost incandescent white.

"B'Elanna, what is our status? B'Elanna? Lieutenant Torres?" The tall, blonde ex-Borg called out to her companion, worry just barely noticeable under her usual cool tone. "Lieutenant!" she barked, worry now definitely audible as she struggled to keep the speeding shuttle at the optimum angle for re-entry into the planet's atmosphere.

A moan sounded from behind her, followed by ominous silence. Risking a quick glance behind her, Seven of Nine, formerly the Tertiary Adjunct to the Unimatrix Zero One and more recently the Chief of Astrometrics onboard the Federation Starship Voyager, saw the Chief Engineer slumped over her console, the only thing keeping her in her seat being the emergency harness. Blood was flowing from various cuts and contusions, a worrisome lump and the large accompanying bruise on her right temple.

"Shields at 40", the dulcet tones of the shuttle's computer at total odds with the red emergency lighting, flashing warning lights on numerous control panels and sparks from damaged consoles.

The totally unexpected micro meteor shower hidden behind the leading edge of an ion storm had wreaked havoc on the shuttle. Seven and B'Elanna had been trying to skirt the edges of the storm on the way to the planet that was their destination, hoping that the extra time wouldn't cut too badly into the time needed to mine the dilithium that was the main objective of their present away mission. The shuttles for science and exploration vessels, such as the Intrepid-class USS Voyager, were built tough but the combination of disasters had battered the poor craft as Seven and B'Elanna had battled valiantly to hold the shuttle together and on a course for safety.

Communications had been the first system to fail, followed in rapid succession by navigation, all the exterior sensors and for a brief, very worrying moment, the shields and life support. B'Elanna's quick thinking and Seven's steady hand had quickly gotten those two areas up and running again. Seven had managed to get the sensors up, using the console in front of the pilot's seat to divert power to where it was needed. B'Elanna had clambered to the back of the shuttle, taking down covers and digging into the innards of the shuttle, before managing to get the shields bolstered and a bit more power to engines, but not before being ricocheted around the cabin, various loose tools turning into dangerous projectiles as the shuttle bucked and jolted through another wave of the storm. The blow to her temple had happened just as everything came back online and she had strapped herself in. A bloody hyperspanner rested in her lap, blood glistering on it in mute testimony.

Seven took in the scene behind her in seconds before returning her attention to the task in front of her, trying to safely land the severely damaged shuttle.

"Shields at 30. Power at 70 and falling."

Seven's hands were steady on the controls, smoothly adjusting as much as she could with the damaged systems to the outside turbulence. She scanned as best she could, the uninhabited planet's surface filling her view screen, looking for the optimum place to land.

"Computer, extend landing gear. Prepare for impact." Seven's cool, unemotional voice gave the commands, not reflecting one iota of the terror screaming in the depth's of the ex-drone's mind or the bone-deep fear that B'Elanna was gravely injured.

"Unable to comply. Landing gear inoperable. Shields are holding. Power is at 50 and falling."

The turbulence increased as the shuttle screamed through layers of thunderstorm clouds. Seven's grip tightened on the controls as several different landing areas flashed across a screen in front of her and were as quickly discarded as unsuitable for a crash landing with no landing gear. She finally settled on the last option, a large lake near the centre of the smallest continent, just south of the equator. Scans showed that the flora and fauna in the area could support human life and that there were no serious threats. Several types of large life forms were detected, most with herbivorous tendencies. If they were stuck on the planet for an extended period of time, they should be able to survive off the land before being rescued by Voyager. The lake would offer a water landing, a safer option than crashing on land.

With a game plan firmly in mind, Seven quickly plotted the course, hoping that the Navigation system would hold out until they had landed. The turbulence eased off as the shuttle passed through the thunderstorm system and the flying smoothed out. Keeping a worried eye o0n the power levels, Seven quickly unbuckled and hurried over to B'Elanna. Up close, the damage she had suffered was worse than she had feared. Whipping out a tricorder and scanning the half-Klingon, Seven's heart almost stopped beating as she realised the massive amount of internal damage. B'Elanna's secondary systems were just barely keeping her alive.

"Power at 40 and falling."

Seven ran some quick calculations and realised that they would just reach her landing area, with no power to spare for any fancy manoeuvres. She had 10 minutes, and made the most of her time. She used the emergency medical tricorder to mend as much of the damage to B'Elanna as she could, and then grabbed the emergency packs and evac suits from their storage units. It was a risk moving B'Elanna, given the severity of her injuries, but Seven believed that the added protection of the evac suit might just make the difference between life and death.

As quickly as she possibly could, Seven unstrapped B'Elanna and eased her into her suit. She then carried B'Elanna to the co-pilot's seat and securely fastened her safety harness, securing her emergency pack to the back of the seat. She then roughly shoved herself into her out evac suit, her eyes rapidly flitting between the Nav control screen and the console showing the power readings.

"Power at 20 and falling."

Seven scrambled for her seat, tightening straps with one hand as the other tapped at the console in front of her, setting off the distress beacon. That would give Captain Janeway something to home in on when they scanned for them.

"Seven of Nine to Voyager … Seven to Captain Janeway." One last-ditch effort to hail Voyager located on the other side of the ion storm. No reply.

"Power at 10 and falling."

At the computer's soft toned warning, Seven's grip tightened on the flight controls and she focused all of her attention on the upcoming landing. A comment once made by Tom Paris briefly surfaced. He had once joked that there were no such things as bad landings. If you walked away from it, it was a good landing. Seven really hoped that this would be a good landing.

"Power has failed."

With that final warning, the shuttle went dark as all the systems shut down, the only one still running being that of life support, running on the emergency power supply built in for just this type of situation. The shuttle immediately started dropping towards the planet's surface, as propulsion was lost.

Assimilation tubules erupted from the back of Seven's Borg-enhances left hand, punching into the control panel in front of her. Using the final flickers of power remaining, Seven bypassed the safeties and routed the power from life support to the flight controls. Once done, she finessed the flaps of the shuttle, heading it straights for the lake in a very controlled glide. She bled speed as much as she dared, not wanting to fall short of the lake. The lake represented the best chance of walking away from the crash landing to follow. With one last glance at the unconscious beauty at her side, checking that her helmet was secured and that she was adequately strapped in, Seven brought the shuttle down.

The shuttle skipped across the surface of the lake, velocity being lost with every skip, further damaging the already wounded hull, causing it to start to give with the pressure. The two passengers inside were tossed about, the safety harnesses the only thing keeping them from forcibly being flung around like rag dolls. With one final skip, the shuttle came to rest about 150 metres from the opposite shore, and immediately started to sink.

Seven shook her head, slightly dazed, and it took her a moment to realise that time was rapidly running out. Quickly releasing her and B'Elanna's harnesses, she strapped both emergency packs to her back, and then gently carried B'Elanna to the emergency hatch, holding her as if she was the most precious of gifts. And to Seven, she was.

Seven had long ago realised that she loved the feisty Chief Engineer, the only person other than the Captain and Naomi Wildman who was honest in her dealings with the ex-Borg. B'Elanna Torres didn't hide her feelings and opinions behind a mask, acting one way to her face and vicious nastiness whispered not so quietly behind her back. Seven had always known exactly where she stood with the engineer, and had acted accordingly. Their legendary animosity had resulted in some spectacular fights, almost verging on outright violence. This often resulted in being called into the Captain's ready room for a reaming out. This was usually followed by a lecture on the proper behaviour expected from Starfleet officers in general and her senior staff in particular. Her disappointment was also made clear. After 2 years of this, it had almost become a game, both enjoying the vigorous give and take of their arguments; of heated discussions with the only other person who could actually understand the intricacies of engineering they most often were in disagreement about. B'Elanna's fire and passion pitted against Seven's cool logic and researched results. So far, neither one had managed to best the other for long. And somewhere along the way, the animosity had given way to grudging respect and admiration had grown until the two combatants had become the best of friends. They had much in common, after all. All these feelings had continued to deepen and develop for Seven, until she couldn't imagine her life without B'Elanna, her best friend, her love. It was an undeclared love though. Seven was terrified of losing her friendship with B'Elanna, didn't want to risk the uncertainty of telling B'Elanna of her feelings and possibly being rejected. Seven had no idea if B'Elanna had similar feelings for her and didn't want to experience the same pain and rejection that B'Elanna had experienced when Tom Paris had ended their relationship. No, in her mind, it was better to remain as friends.

Seven quickly collected the phasers from the weapons locker, strapping them on and releasing the emergency hatch located in the ceiling of the cabin. By this stage the shuttle was two thirds under water and sinking fast. Water was already gushing on through small breaches in the outer hull, hurrying on the sinking of the shuttle.

After checking that B'Elanna's evac suit was not punctured and that her helmet was still securely sealed, Seven eased B'Elanna, the emergency packs and herself out onto the roof of the shuttle. The sight of the broken, blackened hull shocked her for a moment as she realised just how close to total disaster they had come.

After one last check on the still unconscious B'Elanna, Seven manoeuvred towards the stern of the shuttle, as it was sinking at a more rapid rate. With B'Elanna resting on her back, Seven slid into the water and started a steady, determined backstroke for the shore. The going was slow, and exhausting, and Seven's nanoprobes worked overtime to combat the exertion Seven was putting her body through.

Seven eventually felt her foot brush against the bottom of the lake and gratefully stood up. She checked on B'Elanna for the nth time, worried about her continued lack of consciousness. She should have started reviving already. With B'Elanna safely in her arms, Seven sloshed the last five metres to dry land, her eyes seeking a safe place to set up camp. Having come ashore close to a stream that fed into the lake, she followed it a short distance and came across a small clearing in the forest that surrounded the lake. Deciding that this would do for the moment, Seven gently lowered B'Elanna to a soft, mossy spot. She then detached the emergency packs from both of their evac suits, undid both of their helmets and dug out the medical tricorder.

A look of horror crossed her face as she realised that B'Elanna's condition was worsening. While there was not more internal bleeding, B'Elanna had a bad concussion, numerous ribs were cracked or broken, as well as her left wrist. One of the broken ribs had punctures a lung. Luckily B'Elanna's Klingon physiology had caused that lung to shut down, her secondary pulmonary system kicking in. Her one kidney was beyond repair and the rest of her organs were severely bruised. And this was after being mended as much as was possible with the basic equipment available on board the shuttle. B'Elanna's body was in deep shock and was on the verge of shutting down totally.

While Seven's mind scrambled, looking for a solution, she made B'Elanna as comfortable as possible and proceeded to set up a rudimentary camp. The Starfleet issued emergency shelter was quick and easy to set up and two or more could be joined together to make a larger shelter. Once everything was set up to her satisfaction, Seven brought B'Elanna in to the shelter and settled her into one of the sleeping bags, after stripping the damp evac suits off both of them.

Seven's clever mind had come up with a possible solution. It was very risky, and she wasn't sure if she could do it, but he alternative was unthinkable. She was no doctor, and even if she was, she did not have the equipment to perform the necessary surgeries. What she was, was Borg. And as a Borg, she had nanoprobes that healed any injury that her body sustained. Her body at the moment had numerous cuts and abrasions that were already more than half healed. After having gone through all the possible options she could think of, only one remained. The only option was to assimilate B'Elanna. To give her the ability to build her own nanoprobes and heal herself. The process would have to be very carefully done as Seven only wanted to partially assimilate her. Just enough to give her what she needed. Too much would tip the precarious balance that was B'Elanna's life.

Seven was terrified. Added to all the uncertainties that Seven faced was B'Elanna's reaction to her assimilation. B'Elanna's opinion on being assimilated was well known. She felt great horror at the thought, and had stated on numerous occasions that she would rather die than be assimilated. Although, to Seven's recollection, B'Elanna was more horrified at the thought of having her free will stripped away, being forced to do things that she would never willingly do. Seven searched her eidetic memory, going through all the discussions that the two of them had ever had about the subject, trying to decide if she had the right to do this. Seven balanced B'Elanna's life on one side, and all the possible ramifications on the other and decided that even if B'Elanna hated her as a result and wanted nothing more to do with her … well, at least she'd still be alive to do so.

Determination flashing in her eyes, Seven reached out with her left hand and gently brushed strands of dark hair out of B'Elanna's face and softly traced the ridges on her forehead. Her hand briefly caressed the soft cheek, before settling just over her collarbone. Seven set the tricorder to continuously scan B'Elanna every couple of minutes and took a moment to take in the beautiful features before her.

Taking a deep breath, Seven focused her attention inward towards her cortical node, and set about programming the assimilation nanoprobes for a partial assimilation. She discarded the instructions that called for all unnecessary implants, keeping only those needed for the production, maintenance and control of the nanoprobes. This meant that B'Elanna would have to have her own cortical implant, which Seven modified so that the Borg Queen would never be able to access it and that no Borg would be able to control B'Elanna through it. That would hopefully reassure B'Elanna, having taken care of the possibility that her free will would be taken away from her. The other implants were also modified, built to be powered by the bioelectricity of B'Elanna's own body, hence no need for regeneration.

Once Seven was certain she had done the most she could with regards to the reprogramming of her nanoprobes, she made one last scan of B'Elanna's body. B'Elanna was steadily worsening. The assimilation would have to be done immediately. After taking a moment to centre herself, Seven slowly lent forward and gently brushed her lips against those of B'Elanna.

"I love you, my warrior. Please keep fighting. I need you. Please!" With those heartfelt words, Seven's assimilation tubules erupted from the back of her hand and snaked towards B'Elanna's neck. For one, eternal, moment, Seven looked in to her beloved's face, then the tubules punched into B'Elanna's neck. For the first time, Seven saw a reaction from B'Elanna as she flinched slightly from the pain. The grimace quickly eased off her face as the reprogrammed nanoprobes poured into her bloodstream, releasing a mild painkiller, and busily setting forth to build the necessary implants. Seven kept a worried eye on the tricorder, keeping a check on B'Elanna's life signs. They were fluctuating slightly, her heart rate up and her brainwaves more active. The rest of her life signs were stable, which was a good sign. At least the nanoprobes weren't worsening her condition. The last instruction she had given the nanoprobes were to take the necessary materials from her body, so as not to deplete B'Elanna's diminished reserves.

Seven could feel the slight drain on her systems, her nanoprobes quickly working to balance it out. With one last scan of B'Elanna's body, Seven withdrew her tubules, watching with satisfaction as the holes they had created quickly scabbed over. She knew then that B'Elanna's nanoprobes were well established and were well on the way to fixing the damage to B'Elanna's body. Already Seven could see the pallor of B'Elanna's face fade, the ashen tones returning to the normal caramel colour that so fascinated her. The tricorder had shown that the healing process was progressing satisfactorily and Seven dropped back onto her sleeping bag, suddenly weak in reaction to the whole situation. The only visible reminder of B'Elanna's assimilation was a small starburst implant that gleamed just above her left temple, giving access to B'Elanna's cortical node.

After giving herself a moment to gather her thoughts and emotions, Seven pushed up and after one last glance at B'Elanna, headed outside. There was work to be done before B'Elanna regained consciousness. Seven made a quick list of things that needed to be done before sunset, which would be in the next two hours.

First and foremost, a quick scan of the surroundings. Using her tricorder, Seven scanned for any dangerous creatures in the vicinity. No large creatures registered at all on the tricorder. The shuttle crash had undoubtedly sent all the creatures running and would take a while for them to make their way back. Seven places motion sensors around the clearing, setting them to warn them if anything larger that a Terran housecat came into the clearing. Size did not always indicate the level of danger of a creature. Once that was done, Seven scanned the water of the stream, checking for any dangerous microorganisms. After being satisfied that the water was safe, Seven filled the canteens that came with the emergency packs. The next job was to scavenge for suitable vegetation to eat. The emergency packs came with a four week supply each of emergency rations but Seven had long since come to the realisation that taste was not, in fact, irrelevant and would prefer fresh food, if at all possible. After half an hour, Seven made her way back to camp with her pack full of various roots and fruits. While hunting for foodstuffs, Seven had noted several locations where the local fauna made their way to water. Traps could be set up at a later date, meat being a nice alternative to rations, fruit and vegetables.

The whole time Seven had been away from the camp, the medical tricorder had been set to scan B'Elanna every 5 minutes, and the results of the scan being sent to the tricorder that Seven had taken with her. Because of this, Seven knew that B'Elanna's condition was much improved and that she would soon be regaining consciousness. Seven was both relieved and anxious. Relieved that her idea had worked, anxious because she was not sure of B'Elanna's reaction to what had been done to her.

Setting her pack just inside the shelter, Seven made her way to where B'Elanna was resting. B'Elanna looked much better than before. The cuts and bruises were still visible, but Seven knew that that was because the nanoprobes had started work on the most life-threatening injuries first. Given a bit of time, Seven knew that B'Elanna would be fully healed. Her own injuries had long since been healed. Satisfied that B'Elanna was resting comfortably, Seven set up the cooking unit and set a container of water on it to heat. She wished to clean the blood and dirt off of B'Elanna's face and hands, knowing it would make her feel better.

Going to the stream and scrubbing at the dirt on her own hands and face while the water heated inside, Seven made a list of the things they needed to do to set up a more permanent camp. Salvaging what they could from the sunken shuttle would have to be a priority. Many things from the shuttle could be put to use, though how much of it would be too damaged by the water remained to be seen.

Once she was clean, Seven made her way back to the shelter, noticing that the heated water was ready. Digging out a clean cloth, Seven settled down next to B'Elanna's sleeping bag, warm water and soap at the ready. Seven gently wiped away the blood crusted on B'Elanna's temple, following the blood where it had run down her cheek and along her jaw. The dirt smudged across her forehead and other cheek was wiped off next. Seven took this rare opportunity to examine the sleeping beauty, slowly tracing the four gentle ridges proudly denoting her Klingon heritage. The long lashes hiding the dark depths of B'Elanna's flashing brown eyes, the gentle sweep of her eyebrows, the surprisingly delicate ears. Seven gently rested her hand on B'Elanna's soft cheek, her thumb brushing across the soft bottom lip.

"My warrior. I wish you would wake. I would like to know that all is well with you." Seven's quiet whisper broke the silence, her love clearly audible as her voice broke. A tear slowly made it's way from one bright blue eye, dropping to rest, glistening, on the back of Seven's other hand, clutching at the cloth. Seven swallowed the lump in her throat at the thought of how close she had been to losing her love. After taking a moment to get her emotions under control, Seven continued with her cleaning, first of one hand, then the other, all her attention given over to the gentle cleaning.