With no other alternative to keep visions of Mandakorr's assimilation
from hauntingly coming back to him, Harry Kim gratefully beamed down to the
planet, into the Besarian Sciences Complex. With directions provided by
various Voyager crewmembers, he eventually found B'Elanna Torres in an
energy-processing chamber on Sub-Level 61.
'Permission to join the fun,' Harry said, arms open wide, as he entered
From her spot on the floor amidst a wealth of tools and tricorders, the
half-Klingon, half-human engineer looked up from the communications beacon
sitting before her. 'Nothing fun about it, but I'll take any help I can
get,' she shot back at him. 'Including yours, Starfleet.'
'Give me a break.'
It had been a long while since Harry had heard her call him that.
'Starfleet.' The informality of their working relationship washed over him,
and it felt good.
'What exactly are you up to with this?' he asked.
Wiping her forehead, she used her other hand to swat the side of the
four-foot high projectile. 'This, as you well know, is a standard-issue
Class Three Communications Beacon.'
'Class Three?' He rubbed his palm across the unit's metal surface.
'With a mission of this importance, shouldn't we be using a Class One?'
'Because, my good friend, the fine folks back at Starfleet Engineering
designed a Class One Communications Beacon only for prime efficiency,' she
explained. 'As a matter of fact, they designed it so efficient that I've
been able to learn the following in just a matter of days. First, I can't
modify the propulsion converters for compatibility with the requirements of
Twelfth Power Energy. And, second, there isn't enough extra space between
the turbine and the housing to plug even a few extra nanites, let alone a
'A computer core?'
'We have to put the information the Doctor is retrieving from Seven's
Borg programming in there somewhere, Harry,' she said flatly.
'Why not upload into the beacon's own computer core?'
Grimacing, B'Elanna reached for a tricorder, flipped it open, and
performed a diagnostic scan on the unit. 'Well, that was my idea, but the
captain's first fear was that the Borg programming might somehow become
active, once in the core, and it might assimilate the probe. I mean, who
knows what's going to happen when we combine Borg secrets AND Starfleet
technology with this Twelfth Power Energy anyway? This isn't just Federation
science we're using here, so everything we're doing has to be ... what's the
word Tom uses? Oh, yeah. Hot-wired. That aside, the captain's second fear
was that there wouldn't be enough memory. She wants us to copy as much data
from the ship's logs as possible into the core, as well. You understand?
Let Starfleet Command know where we are and where we've been. Those kinds of
things.' Finished with the tricorder, she set it on the floor. 'So, I have
Tuvok configuring a flight program for the beacon. Early estimates predict
that itself is going to take up a tremendous amount of memory.'
Harry nodded. 'Okay. All of that said, what about using a Class Two
Pushing aside her tricorder in favor of a silver phase-welder, she glared
at him. 'Why, Harry Kim,' she began, 'aren't you positioned on the Voyager
bridge at ops? Don't you know your own ship's inventory?'
Feeling inadequate, he slapped his forehead. 'We're fresh out.'
'We modified the last one as a countermeasure in that shoot-out with the
Brekklekaw Pillager, a few light years back,' she said, applying her
phase-welder to a spot inside the beacon's internals that lay out of his
sight. Dancing blue sparks lit the beacon's interior. 'Don't you remember?
Harry, it was your idea. If the captain could have, she would have pinned a
medal on you for thinking that quickly. What? Are you down here looking to
work some other miracle, or are you just pining for sympathy? In either
case, forget it. You're losing it, Starfleet, and you're going down fast.'
'I did forget all about that,' he admitted. 'The Brekklekaw Pillager ...
that was some engagement. I thought, technologically, we had met our match.'
Casually, he sat down on the floor next to her. Pushing around some of
the ship's equipment spread out on the tile, he finally picked up a coupling
stabilizer and began fiddling with its settings.
'So,' B'Elanna announced, 'all I'm left with is this Level Three
Communications Beacon. Make sense to you now, Starfleet?'
He mock-saluted her, coupling stabilizer in hand. 'Affirmative,
'We're going to need to realign the power distributors,' B'Elanna
counseled, removing the phase-welder from the beacon and setting it on the
tile. 'Narrowest settings possible. As we only need to produce and contain
a microburst of that level fuel, I'd definitely want the output matrix on the
thinnest possible degree. I trust I can leave that to you. Harrison needs
me over in the Generatrix master linkage corridor. As long as you can stay
focused on completing the task at hand, then we've got a deal.' She smiled
at him. 'Welcome to the fun.'
'No problem, B'Elanna.'
'We don't want this beacon reduced to survival kindling from Twelfth
Power Energy.' She reached over and took the coupling stabilizer from
Harry's hand. 'Think you can handle that?'
'Whatever you say, lieutenant,' he chirped.
Stopping what she was doing, she turned to consider him. 'You're being
Harry shrugged. 'I'm trying to ... help the team.'
She glared at him. 'Then give me your opinion, Harry,' she ordered, 'not
That was more like B'Elanna.
'I'm not ... I'm not sure how to respond,' he said.
'Voyager to Kim,' she teased. 'Are you there?'
Smiling, he nodded at her.
'What you're saying makes perfect sense,' he finally chimed in agreement.
'At Twelfth Power level, a fraction of energy over our mechanical tolerances
would cause this beacon to light up like a warp core breach.'
Sitting on the floor, she crossed her arms and studied his expressionless
face for several moments. Finally, she tilted her head and said, 'I'm not
ship's counselor, but you don't have to be a Betazoid to see that there's
something bothering you.'
Unsure of himself, Harry stared at the floor. He shrugged.
'What's on your mind, Harry?' she asked.
He replied, 'What makes you think there's something bothering me?'
Looking up, he studied her face. He realized that, of all his shipmates,
B'Elanna's smile was the slyest. 'Don't try that programmed response on me,'
she answered curtly. 'You haven't been yourself for days.'
'Is it that noticeable?'
'To use your words, it's written across your face as bright as a warp
core breach.' She placed her hands on the tile and leaned closer to him.
'Now, I have many jobs to do. This place is falling apart, and I haven't the
slightest idea why. We have this beacon that has to be prepared for launch,
by captain's orders, in less than two days. That's when she wants us off
this rock and back on course for Earth. So, if you catch my drift, ensign,
my time is precious. Start talking, and you can consider it an order. Now.'