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CHAKOTAY FOUND SEVEN OF NINE STANDING IN HER Borg cubicle. It chilled him a little every time he saw the thing, in that it was a remnant of the ship's transformation. As the first officer approached the cubicle, Seven of Nine noticed him and stepped down. "Commander Chakotay," she said. "I understand you wanted to see me." "I am told you are the officer in charge of personnel," said the Borg. "That you prepare the 'duty assignments.' Is that the correct phrase?" "That's right," he replied. But inside, he was wondering why Seven of Nine was suddenly interested in duty assignments. Unless . . . The Borg blinked. "I'm finding it difficult to spend so much time alone," she said. "I'm unaccustomed to it. The hours don't pass quickly." Chakotay couldn't help but sympathize. He knew how great a loss it had been for Seven of Nine when she was disconnected from the Borg collective. "Also," she said, "I had a sense of accomplishment among the Borg. I wish to experience that sense again." "I can understand that," Chakotay said. "How can we help?" But even before the Borg opened her mouth, he had an idea what her answer would be. "I have been considering the matter carefully," Seven of Nine told him. "I would like to request a duty assignment." It was just what the first officer had expected. He mulled over the ramifications before he spoke again. "Did you have something specific in mind?" he asked. The Borg blinked. "Yes." Then she told Chakotay what it was. He sighed. Why couldn't she have asked to help Neelix in the mess hall? Or to take a shift in astrophysics? "I'll see what I can do," he told Seven of Nine. The corridor outside the turbolift was empty except for B'Elanna. Abandoning any pretense of decorum, she sprinted down the hall as if the devil and all his demons were after her. That is, she thought wildly, the devil of my father's people. Klingons didn't really have such a thing. As B'Elanna approached the doors to engineering, she had to decelerate to give the metal panels time to slide aside for her. Naturally, they did this with the most agonizing slowness. Then, with what she estimated as seconds to spare, the lieutenant burst into engineering. As she stood there, illuminated by the brightly pulsating warp core, she wondered where everyone was. Instead of the four engineers she had expected to see, only two were present - Carey and Vorik. Both of them were sitting at consoles, performing diagnostics in accordance with standing orders. Carey looked up at her. "Ah. Morning, Lieutenant." After a moment, his brow furrowed. "Say . . . are you all right?" "Fine." B'Elanna breathed. "Why?" The redheaded man shrugged. "You seem to be perspiring. I thought it might be a symptom." She returned his stare. "A symptom of what, Mr. Carey?" He shrugged again. "You know, the thing that's got Nicoletti and Chafin under the weather." Suddenly, understanding dawned. "Wait a minute. You don't know about Nicoletti and Chafin, do you?" B'Elanna shook her head. "No." "They are ill," Vorik interjected. He swiveled his chair around to face his superior. "The Doctor informed us a moment ago." Annoyed, B'Elanna tapped her comm badge. "Torres to sickbay. Are you there, Doctor?"
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