Part 26

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Naomi Wildman let her mother pull her on to the transporter pad, but not without dragging her feet a little. She wasn't about to be completely cooperative, she was still tired and irritated from being dragged out of bed to visit the Doctor when she wasn't even sick. And not being allowed to see Tom. Her mother couldn't stop talking about finally getting off the ship. She didn't see what was so exciting about shore leave. And she didn't see what was so bad about being on Voyager

Her mother picked her up and Naomi's field of view widened to include the rest of the people in the transporter room. It seemed that a lot of people were excited about shore leave. She saw Neelix enter, struggling under the weight of some kind of stove. He was followed by one of the Maquis-Chell, she thought his name was-holding a little bag. Other crewmembers were loitering around the transporter room with their various baggage. All of them looked pretty happy to be going on shore leave, too

She was jostled as nearly everyone in the room moved collectively on to the transporter pad. She heard her mother whisper into her neck, "We're almost safe, sweetie." Naomi didn't know what her mother was talking about. She heard the buzz before she felt the tingle of the transporter beam envelop her.

The next thing she saw was green. Rather, a lot of green things. Green bushes, green grass, green trees, and sky which was hardly blue. She felt her mother sigh. With a lot of relief, it sounded like. She was lifted down and set on her feet on the ground. Her mother walked over to the stack of equipment and began opening cartons.

"Help me, Chell."

Chell walked over to where she was. He began to follow her lead, at a considerable slower pace. Naomi took one of the empty cartons her mother had set aside and sat on it. This is going to be boring, she thought. She rested her head on her arm and watched Neelix join her mother and Chell at the task.

"I wonder what's happening up there," Neelix said softly, looking up at the cloudy sky.

"I prefer not to think about it," replied her mother, completely focused on opening another carton.

Naomi stared up at the sky, wishing she could see Voyager.

Chakotay felt strangely calm. He'd just been informed that the first batch of people had been beamed down for shore leave. B'Elanna had sent him a transmission telling him all was well and ready for action in Engineering, under the guise of a repair report. He knew he should still be nervous. They'd compensated for the alterations in the duty schedule, or so they thought. They couldn't be sure. He wasn't sure that Janeway was showing him her full hand. And he sure as hell didn't like thinking that every Star Fleet crewmember had a phaser, while his own people did not. That wasn't completely true, B'Elanna had managed to supply half or so of the Maquis with phasers she had been accumulating in preparation. When she ran out of those, she handed out some typical Engineering repair tools, altered to produce a beam similar to one produced by a phaser.

He'd seen her making them a while back. They did some nasty damage, from what he'd seen on the practice targets. Truth was, they were probably better than phasers were. More importantly, they didn't look suspicious clipped to the Maquis' belts. His hand inched up from his thigh to touch the one attached to his belt. Despite the fact that he knew what it could do, it didn't feel nearly as comforting as a phaser would have. It was going to have to do. He found himself wishing again that Janeway hadn't armed her people: that tiny little complication was going to make what should have occurred with minimal violence into an incredibly savage ordeal.

Oh well.

He reached over and touched a button on the command console. It sent a message to B'Elanna in Engineering.

If repairs are done, resume normal activity.

But she would read it as: If there aren't any problems, start.

It was a surprisingly small motion to begin a momentous event.

In sickbay, the EMH concentrated on removing the delicate instrument from Tom Paris' throat. His unconscious patient might have been disturbed by the Doc's ability to perform surgery while distracted by something else entirely. The Doctor placed the instrument in a nearby tray. As he began to regenerate the tissues, he wondered why Captain Janeway had been so secretive and worried when she told him to prepare for mass casualties. She wouldn't tell him what kind of casualties, either. Probable phaser injuries, possibly stabbings and other injuries usually sustained in hand-to-hand combat, was all that she would say. And she suggested he treat patients with Star Fleet insignia first. Actually, it sounded like it was an order.

In Engineering, B'Elanna Torres was called to her station by an incessant beeping. She activated the message from the Bridge. She read the message, feeling the adrenaline build up in her veins. She called another Maquis over.

"Let's get started," she hissed.

Part 27 | Index page