I could probably continue this forever especially with the new character but...
Taken Chapter 17
The Delta Flyer was configured to crew four so there was plenty of room for Sheldon to amble around and putter with things while the shuttlecraft was in warp.
Sometimes he slept, mostly in the command chair so he could hear any alarms, for a few hours at a time. Sometimes he sat back and just reviewed all the things that had happened to him since the Harvester Probe had taken him.
Most times he mulled over Seven of Nine, fading One of Two, and analyzed almost every conversation, every event, everything in their relationship, searching for the key that would unlock her heart again. He appreciated his eidetic memory more than ever before.
He sensed that Seven was perturbed by the attention he gave Crewman Barnes but she was an apt pupil and he had forgotten how much he enjoyed teaching. He removed her from the mission roster rather than further aggravate his personal situation, something that wasn't fair to Crewman Barnes. He would have to make amends somehow but that was a concern for another time.
Seven wanted something she couldn't have and it was something that he couldn't give her. She was slowly eroding her bond with him and if B'elanna was correct, she thought that his desire for a child outweighed his love for her.
He finished eating replicated mac 'n cheese and ran his eyes over the various sensors and instruments again, just as he did at least 6 times each minute. It was subconscious and Tom had drilled it into his head that it was best to detect problems in his shuttle or outside in space as early as possible.
The proximity alarm chimed and sensors indicated that a large craft was approaching his position on an intercept course. He dropped out of warp and shut down all power except those vital to survival and hoped the Kirgon Pirate cruiser would miss him. That's what he thought it was. This was one of their hunting grounds near Demos IV.
Sheldon plotted an escape course that would allow him to outmaneuver the Kirgon ship and allow his superior speed to carry him out of harm's way. He'd know what he had to do in the next 8 minutes.
"Drat. I hate being right all the time. Just once I wish I'd been wrong." It was a Kirgon spacecraft and in 3 minutes he'd know if his 'possum' ploy worked.
The Delta Flyer was built of new alloys that reduced its sensor signature to that of a small asteroid or meteor and he and Tom had tried various maneuvers and power configurations to reduce it even further.
Thirty seconds. The Kirgon vessel slid by, almost colliding with the Flyer. It passed within 150km of the Flyer, a near-collision in space-faring terms.
He waited a full 20 minutes before setting course for Demos IV. He wanted to see his friends again, trade some items for those potato-things for Neelix, and then set course for home.
The pirates had been here. Where before there had been small cob homes with thatched roofs that reminded him of the Hobbit movies now there were smoking ruins and trampled fields. The market place had been looted and there were no apparent survivors.
The Demosians were tall and slim but males were handsome and women were invariably beautiful. The humanoid Demosians were spread out on their planet and Sheldon knew it might be weeks or months before the massacre would be discovered and in the meantime, the Griffons would ravage the dead.
He used the phasers on the Flyer to carve a shallow trench in the soft ground as a mass grave and then set about placing the bodies in it. His hatred of the Kirgon pirates grew geometrically with each shattered body he gentled into the earth.
He found the infant in one of the buildings that was almost undamaged. He was moving the body of a young woman when he found her cub that she'd shielded with her own body. It squalled when he picked it up but he had no clue what to do with it. He just knew he couldn't leave it to die.
The woman had been called Alira and she'd been among those who nursed him back to health after his run-in with the Griffon. She was one of several Demosians that he'd come to consider friends.
He had no idea what to do with the pale cub so he wrapped it in its mother's cloak and carried it to the Flyer. Neelix had incorporated his database into Voyager's so he ran an inquiry about Demos IV.
The staple diet was the potato-like tubers he'd liked and Sheldon hoped that a nutrient-enriched puree of the tubers would sustain the baby. He mentally scrubbed 'cub' and substituted baby as soon as the small being that seemed to be all eyes latched onto his finger and wouldn't let go.
Sheldon searched through the marketplace and found several of the tubers and brought them aboard the Flyer and sacrificed one for analysis. "Well, baby, it appears that the Replicator can produce an unlimited quantity of these potato things and that's good. Let's see what else Uncle Neelix has on file."
'Baby' kept him busy on his flight back to Voyager. Between feedings and diaper changes ('Good Lord, how can something so tiny produce something so gross!') and playtime, the two-day return trip seemed over before it began.
He rigged a sling from Alira's cloak and tucked Baby into it and then popped the hatch and descended to Voyager's flight deck. It was early Gamma shift and he knew Seven would be sleeping so he recorded his report and made his way to the mess hall to discuss the feeding of Baby.
"Welcome back, Sheldon. I – Is that a Demosian cub? Where is its wet-mother? Sheldon, the cub needs its – "
"Dead. The entire settlement you told me about. Except for Baby here. I couldn't allow her to perish, Neelix, I just couldn't!"
In his heart, he knew Sheldon was right but he also knew that the Old Man had no idea just what he was in for if he kept it.
"If you keep it – "
"Her. She's female. I would appreciate it if you wouldn't refer to her as 'it' in the future. And if Janeway says 'no' then I'll ask her to drop us off at Demos IV on her way by. What kind of people would abandon a child?"
Neelix patted him on the shoulder and went to find something to feed his foundling. What kind of people indeed.
She started to fuss and Sheldon glanced at the chronometer and then fumbled in his messenger bag and removed a 'baby bottle w/nipple' he'd replicated and modified to allow for the pureed tubers to pass. He was sitting back in the rear of the mess hall in his usual spot watching the passing parade of red-shifted stars and rocking his little girl to sleep when Seven burst into the mess hall and spotted him. Tom Paris had awakened her with news of his return.
"Sheldon Cooper, I must speak with you." He looked up at her and saw nothing of One and everything of Seven of Nine. Her posture was rigid and he expected this to be one of their last conversations as husband and wife.
"So sit down and talk. I'm fine, thank you for asking. I assume you are in good health also? That's sarcasm, by the way, Seven of Nine, in case you didn't catch it."
"I – I want to talk with you about our collective and the disharmony that seems to have pervaded it. Sheldon, I wanted to speak with you before you left but I missed you and so I've spent these past 4 days trying to – "
"If you wish to end our collective, One of Two, just say so. Quit beating around the bush. If you're not happy then I'm not happy and I can't seem to make you happy any more so, yes, end it. I'm sure Harry or someone else – "
"There is no one else who can make me happy but you. I do not wish to end our collective. I am trying to apologize for my behavior and you keep – what is that you're doing?"
He opened up the sling and turned it so that Seven could see what he held.
"One, meet Three, if you are in agreement. If not, Seven of Nine, then say 'hello' to my daughter." Huge blue eyes stared back at her and then reached out and grabbed Sheldon's finger and thrust it into her mouth.
"Does she have a personal designation?" She wanted to reach out and touch it but he obviously was waiting for her answer.
"Not yet. I thought perhaps her mother might like to name her." 'C'mon, Seven, don't be so dumb!' He waited, watching the emotions flit across her face but she didn't say anything.
"Did you bring its mother back with you? Another souvenir, perhaps?" Even Sheldon Cooper could detect the bitter sarcasm in her voice.
"Ah, sarcasm. No. I buried her mother on Demos IV, Seven of Nine. I meant – "
"Katheryn. I have always liked the sound of it. Katheryn Cooper. Yes. Are you in agreement, Two? Resistance is futile."