Revolution II: Road to Restoration

Author: MJB (,
Series: Revolution #2
Characters: Tom Paris
Codes: crew, AU
Genre: adventure, AU
Rating: PG-13 to RRating: PG-13, R
Series: Star Trek: Voyager, VOY
Warnings: violence
Archiving: Permission given on request.
Available at (linking allowed)

Warnings: less than graphic violence, less than happy people.

Sequel to Revolution. The aftermath of the failed mutiny.


The strength of a ship depends not only on the sturdiness of its structure and the strength of its systems, but also on the soundness of its crew. The crew of the smallest ship is what keeps it afloat on the rockiest of seas. When a vessel is destroyed, it is because the metal shell gave out, not because of anything short of devotion from its crew.

But when the crew of a ship is shattered, ripped apart by betrayal, and the ship is only damaged, will it still survive?

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? True, maybe, if applied to something that benefits from being hurt. Like a muscle, which will ache and burn after being used excessively, but will strengthen and grow from the painful work. Muscles allow people to function, but it can be hard for one to accept such a concept in life.

Arguably, it doesn't even apply in some situations.

Certainly, it means nothing to the participants in a carefully planned uprising, which proved to less carefully planned than thought.

And therefore, a failure.

By all accounts, a failure which should have been a resounding victory. All the components were in place for the Maquis to trounce the Federation. Scoundrels versus a good, upstanding loyal crew, with the battle conditions favoring the Maquis. Or so they'd thought. Being outnumbered, outgunned, and fighting on the enemy's turf would hardly seem advantageous, but it truly had looked that way.

The Maquis always fought like that, relying on the emotion behind fierce and persistent, if meager, forces. And it was usually an effective, brutally quick strategy. A detailed strategy, with meticulous planning. One which normally didn't deteriorate at such an unbelievably fast-and unstoppable-rate. Reading of the opposite forces was usually good enough that it was possible to predict and hopefully prevent reactions that would threaten the completion of their mission.

A very big error would be to underestimate their enemy and be woefully unprepared to react to the retaliation.

They made a very big error.

If they had the patience, they would probably be able to identify the point at which the tables turned. Or, they might produce a variety of answers.

When Janeway stopped being totally oblivious.

When the entire Federation crew was given weapons.

When they had to cancel Plans A and B.

When Plan C didn't work.

When they decided to take on Captain Janeway in the first place, one of the more bitter ones might respond.

Bitter being one of the most common emotions among those who fled the scene of their failed attempt to take Voyager. All know better than to be openly resentful of the mastermind behind the entire thing. And most know to better than to internalize the anger and blame, making oneself completely miserable.

Which is why it's preferable to cover those feelings with more rage at the victors of this conflict. The Starfleet crew is to blame for the failure of the mission against the Starfleet crew. Pretty simple. Pretty self-explanatory. Pretty frustrating. And from this anger grows the desire to return and try again.

And win this time.

Because Maquis missions don't end with half being forced to flee and the others being left in the lap of their enemies, to an unknown fate.

The only way anything like that happened was if the mission wasn't over, and they were planning on coming back and finishing what they failed to complete the first time. And whether or not they'd originally thought they'd need an encore doesn't really matter. The Maquis won't accept that they went through the pain of the loss of their comrades and the humiliation of being defeated just to be taught some lesson in humbleness and resilience.

They are, however, perfectly willing to accept that the pain they feel will soon be transferred back on to those who caused it.

The concept that they shattered the crew of Voyager is entirely ignored by the Maquis, who for the most part never considered themselves part of the Voyager crew and were with this effort trying to remove those who they did consider Voyager's crew: people in Starfleet uniforms.

The winners of this conflict might have a slightly different perception of on what that battle was supposed to do, besides force the Maquis to retreat. But again, it's far more pleasant to dwell on the emotions stirred up by the fight, than think about what actually happened.

Most of these emotions are actually very similar to the feelings contained by the losers of the battle. Maybe a little less shame and finger-pointing, but anger is the prevalent emotion, again.

It could be because it is better to hate the Maquis for daring to revolt, than to think about why the Maquis thought they'd win or why they came so close to actually winning.

Well, it wasn't *that* close.

Close enough to disable the Bridge.

Close enough to gain control of Engineering, even if temporary.

Close enough to hurt *a lot* of Starfleet crew.

Close enough to shoot the Captain.

All of which are very close, actually.

And they all serve the purpose of heating the anger of the Starfleet crew.

Whether or not every individual Starfleet member will admit to feeling betrayed by the violence instigated by people wearing more or less identical uniforms, they do. Even if they never liked the Maquis, it was pretty much accepted that they had given up being terrorists. Even if they never trusted the Maquis, this kind of brutality was not on their minds. And so this crew is shattered, by betrayal and fury.

It's not very safe to be a Maquis prisoner on Voyager now. Those who were left behind because they were wounded, unconscious, or otherwise unable or unwilling to retreat now reside behind force fields in the Brig, overlooked by guards who, if it were a democracy, would certainly vote for a few public executions.

Ironic, how much the Maquis appreciate Starfleet regulations now.

Unmentioned is the Starfleet crew who fled the fight, neither participating in the attempted coup or defending against it. It's probably less dangerous to be one of them than one of the captured Maquis but not by much. Desertion ranks a little bit lower than mutiny in terms of ways to enrage the Voyager crew. Punishment is coming, the unfortunate few understand, but not before the mutineers who escaped are returned to the ship to face their own punishment.

Those without weapons played a part in fracturing Voyager, by their faithlessness in her strength.

In addition, there are those who never picked a side to win. Or maybe they did pick a side, but didn't take actually take part. And maybe the furious crew could construe that they did indeed take part.

There are only two people who fall under the last two categories, one under the former and one under the latter.

Only one remains on Voyager, one very lonely, very scared, very paranoid woman.

Samantha Wildman's heart had finally resumed a close to normal rhythm after-well, if one was counting the months of nervousness and anxiety leading up to the current situation, then a very long time. And if one was just counting from more recently, then just a week.

A week of glancing over her shoulder, fully expecting to see a team armed guards ready to take her into custody.

Worse yet, every time she heard footsteps behind her, the thought would surface that it had to be the Captain, hurt and infuriated upon discovering Sam's prior knowledge of what had occurred. Sam hadn't quite decided what Janeway's reaction would be, just that it would probably be between utter disappointment and violent anger. Either way, it ended with her spending the rest of Voyager's journey in the Brig, next to the actual conspirators. Maybe Naomi could visit weekly.

And while she harbored an incredible fear of the scenario, a part of her was wondering just *who* would be her potential neighbors. Unable to leave Sickbay due to critical patients-not that she would dare to check the inhabitants of the Brig if she could-Sam could only guess who had been caught and who had escaped.

If Ken had been caught. If Ken had been able to escape. If Ken had been killed.

His death, she had convinced herself, was unlikely. She'd personally put all the fatalities into the Morgue, and he hadn't been among them. Which didn't mean that he hadn't been disintegrated by weapons fire or caught up in the vacuum when the Shuttle Bays opened, or any of the other awful methods of obscure death that she was imagining.

Methods of death that certainly might have included being treated by an incompetent Acting Chief Medical Officer, had he been brought to Sickbay.

For when it wasn't her own mind concocting frightening ideas that sent her heart pounding, it was the explosion of sound from various medical monitors, alerting her that another patient was near death or dying.

She didn't think there could be a worse feeling than what she felt while leaning over a critical patient. It was surreal to know that the person before her was not part of a holographic medical exam, and that even though it was the life of a very real person at stake, there was no EMH to step in. Not too mention the incessant mental mantra of stricken guilt, blaming herself for the patient's injury and possible death.

She didn't even feel close to normal once the latest medical crisis was averted, because she new there would only be a matter of time until the poor Ensign on bio-bed 4 tried to bleed to death from the aorta again. She finally gave in to the part of her that was trying to assert some medical expertise-and maybe even some courage-over the side that was petrified of performing that kind of invasive surgery by herself.

It was after that surprisingly successful procedure that she was sitting in the CMO's chair, peaceful for the first time. She'd finally finished confirming to the computer that despite what appeared to be the EMH's last activity before he disappeared, the entire crew was not unfit. It had probably been an effort on his part to halt the violent mutiny, but he'd been interrupted before he could finish. Not that it would have worked, anyway.

Among her other thoughts was the one that she might be Voyager's permanent Chief Medical Officer, if the EMH's program could not be found or salvaged or replaced.

It was an overwhelming thought, comforting only in the knowledge that Voyager's only Doctor certainly would not be put in the Brig.

After that hope entered her mind, she apparently fell asleep, for when she opened her eyes to locate the voice calling her name, her face was pressed against the desk.

She peeled herself off the desk, climbing out from behind it. As she got to the doorway of the office, blearily rubbing her eyes, she saw who was calling for her.

Harry Kim was standing in front of the entrance, putting no weight on one leg and being unsteadily supported by a smaller crewman.


Tom Paris should have been enjoying the feeling of pilot controls beneath his fingers. He should have been reveling in the feeling of freedom on board the empty shuttlecraft. Empty of vicious Maquis and Starfleet crew, empty of anyone planning on hurting him in one way or another.

There was a side of him that was thrilled to have finally made it off Voyager, after the long time spent on board the insufferable ship. That side wasn't concerned, at the moment, with the fact that he'd escaped Voyager in a very different way than planned, leaving the ship under circumstances he'd never imagined.

That part of him was significantly happier than the side of him that was actually dealing with reality.

The side that was very much aware that he'd launched from a ship in the midst of a failed mutiny. Launched side by side with the escaping losers of said mutiny. The troubled side of him knew that his course was not all that different from the Maquis' course. He also knew that he had no real idea what conditions on Voyager were now, just that he'd left Harry, Neelix, and Naomi and her mother there. He realized that unless Voyager was completely crippled beyond repair, she would be chasing the escaped Maquis as soon as possible.

Hell, even if Voyager was crippled beyond repair and Janeway was still alive-which she had been the last time he had checked-Voyager would still be coming after the Maquis. The crew would just get out and push.

It was these worries that haunted him, overcoming his ability to be pleased with himself for finally getting away.

He really, really wished he'd escaped without the Maquis right behind him. They'd ignored him, after hailing his shuttle moments after launching from Voyager. He hadn't responded, and they hadn't persisted.

Which was a really good thing, considering what they might have responded with.

Somebody had spruced his shuttle up very nicely, and he had no doubt the Maquis acquired shuttles were equally improved.

Regular Starfleet shuttles did not come equipped with such massive firepower, and nor were the shuttle systems designed for enduring years of travel, which they appeared to be now. Shuttle Medkits weren't stocked as extensively as the one stored in the back. Starfleet shuttles certainly weren't manufactured with cloaking devices.

Which the Maquis controlled shuttles definitely had.

He'd yet to be able to find a cloaking device installed on his own shuttle, to his great dissatisfaction. He guessed it was hidden somewhere in the shuttle systems, disguised as something else. That was how the Maquis back in the Alpha Quadrant got harmless merchant vessels though check points, only to have them turn into unseen weapons of assault once past.

For now, he was reduced to tracking the Maquis ion trails with his sensors, feeling incredibly exposed.

He didn't think that the Maquis were going to attack him, after paying him no attention whatsoever for the past week. Of course, the Maquis preyed on what their enemies didn't expect, so he wasn't going to take his eyes off them.

He knew very well that he could alter his course, head a direction that would take the Maquis significantly away from their chosen path if they wanted to follow him. He stayed on course, still feeling the incredible need to keep an eye on the Maquis, just to watch his back.

That was assuming the Maquis had a chosen path; he knew he didn't. Tom wasn't going anywhere, he was just going *away*, wherever that might prove to be. The Maquis, however, were probably heading somewhere in particular, even if 'somewhere' was just randomly chosen coordinates.

All of that meticulous planning by Chakotay, of course.

Tom wondered just how Chakotay felt about losing, which brought a grin to his face. The grinned dropped as he began to realize that although Chakotay was probably thoroughly pissed off by the results, he probably had been prepared for them. Hence the improved shuttles.

The Maquis hadn't been planning on launching the Starfleet crew off in these improved craft, in all likelihood. The shuttles had been the Maquis' escape clause.

Eyeing the small sensor blips that were the Maquis ion trails, Tom wondered just where in Chakotay's plan the escape clause was. And where the re-try plan was in relation. He may have only flown one actual mission with Chakotay's Maquis, but he knew Chakotay's style and giving up wasn't.

Tom doubted if the fight for Voyager was anywhere near over.


There was nothing like the atmosphere in craft fleeing the scene of defeat. It felt like deja vu to Chakotay. He'd experienced it with many of the same people, back in the Alpha Quadrant. The difference was defeats by the Cardassians and occasionally Starfleet and other anti-Maquis Federation allies weren't nearly as disheartening as being defeated by Janeway. That woman triumphing over their efforts was an enormous blow.

He was glad, though, that his people weren't acting as if this was a crushing situation. They were acting pissed, bitter, and wounded-which many of them were-but not vanquished.

Henley was stomping around the small craft, pretending to be checking on the wounded that she had already treated days ago, but really, Chakotay could tell, only pacing restlessly. She occasionally stopped to swing open the Medkit and remove an instrument and swipe it over someone. Then she returned to her path, winding around the legs and other extended limbs of the other passengers. Finally, getting more than a little annoyed with her incessant wandering, Chakotay sent her a fierce glance, communicating that she should plant herself somewhere.

Henley received the look with the smoothest of reactions; a quirked eyebrow and a small, temporary pout. She slowed her stride to a stroll, without disrupting her determined walk, and slid nonchalantly into the seat beside Ken Dalby. Her Medkit swung with the motion of her body, falling forward and striking Dalby in the knees.

Dalby yelped softly, scooting away from her and nearly falling off the bench.

"Sorry," muttered Henley, hauling the Medkit to the side of the seat.

Chakotay watched Dalby deliver an irritated look to Henley-who barely managed to look apologetic-as he moved back into the center of the bench. Dalby's eyes dropped then, to scan the sensor readings before him. Henley craned her neck, peering over his shoulder.

Chakotay found it slightly amusing that upon having her roaming shut down, Henley would turn to Dalby's method of distracting himself from whatever frustrations he was feeling. All the Maquis were, of course, frustrated and trying their damnedest to keep it from seeping into the atmosphere, making the already uncomfortable feel of the craft completely unbearable.

Dalby, it seemed to Chakotay, was feeling considerably worse than the others were. The stricken look on his face, tight lips and hunched brow communicated far more than just disappointment at losing, or even sadness at the loss of so many of their comrades.

He looked heartbroken.

Well, he looked like he was trying desperately to avoid looking heartbroken.

For all of Dalby's beseeching for Sam and Naomi Wildman's safety, it had always seemed like a nervous performance to Chakotay. Perhaps it wasn't. It appeared Wildman was more to Dalby than a warm body to bed, and her daughter more than just the offspring of the warm body.

Chakotay made a small mental note to keep an eye on Dalby. He had never given any indication of disloyalty so far-his failure to kill Tom Paris appeared to be incompetence not disobedience. They were in pretty deep for Dalby to suddenly decide that he'd made the wrong choice. Still, relationships had odd effects on normally reliable people.

Ironically, Dalby's distress seemed to be improving his performance. He was watching the sensors like a hawk, focusing on the small blip that was the other shuttle.

It had launched with the Maquis, but taken a slightly different course and gone to warp instantly.

At first, Chakotay had hoped fervently that it was B'Elanna-who hadn't been heard from since she reported that she needed to get to Sickbay. He had full confidence in her ability to escape, but it was not to be, at least on that shuttle.

They'd hailed the shuttle, but received no response.

Dalby wasn't even able to read any occupants before the other shuttle raised its shields, and he promptly wanted to blast it to pieces. After it didn't respond to their hail, that want grew.

That was the general desire of most of the Maquis, fresh from battle and not ready to stop fighting.

Chakotay overruled them all, knowing that whoever was on board would certainly be able to retaliate with the improved weapons systems of that shuttle.

A battle so close to Voyager could only lead to the Maquis shuttles getting damaged, and even if the other shuttle was destroyed, he couldn't risk the chance that one or more of their acquired vessels would be lost or harmed.

They just didn't need to give Janeway the additional advantage of damaged ships.

That wasn't even considering the other options, like Voyager suddenly coming alive and taking part in the battle.

No, it was better to put as much distance as possible between them and Voyager, while planning their second attempt to take Voyager.

An eye, of course, was kept on that mystery shuttle.

It didn't do anything to identify it as friend or foe.

It didn't do anything, period.

With only a slight difference from their course, it stayed steady.

Dalby watched it, and Chakotay found it easy to believe that despite their cloaked ships, whoever was inside that shuttle was watching them.


Harry Kim gripped tighter to the crewman holding him upright, which probably wasn't the best way to counteract the wobbling, because the arm around his shoulder loosened and nearly dropped while his supporter grunted and struggled to hold him up. Given a choice, he wouldn't have chosen someone so slight in stature to half-carry him, Harry thought, and then decidedly agreed with when the arm did slip off, sending him lurching to the floor.

His leg jolted agony up his spine as he landed, his vision blackening. When it came back, Samantha Wildman's face was above his. She was pale, with deep dark circles under her eyes, concern being expressed in a ragged, exhausted voice. She slipped her hands under him; somehow managing to draw him up while the man he'd fallen half on top of pushed from below. Somehow they managed to lift him on to the nearest bio-bed. Sam whipped out a hypospray, pressing it into his neck. It hissed, and the pain began to subside.

Now she was scanning his leg, a focused expression creeping over her face. Finally, she snapped the medical tricorder shut, setting it aside.

"What'd you do, Harry?" She asked, tiredly, turning and walking towards some medical equipment.

"He fell," supplied the former human-crutch, lingering at the door.

"Yeah," Harry confirmed to Sam. To the crewman by the entrance, "Thanks for helping me here. Can you finish the repairs without me?"

"We're almost done, so yeah."

"Good. Watch your step," he called to the crewman's back as the door slid shut.

"Right," the half-amused voice trickled back.

Sam walked back holding what looked like a leg brace. She grasped his leg and drew it straight, sending a muted signal of pain up Harry's body. He hissed, teeth clenched.

"Where'd you fall?"

"The Jefferies Tubes. We were repairing some of the blown circuits. I fell down one of the ladders."

"You broke three bones," Sam said, setting the instrument over his leg from his ankle to upper thigh, not noticing his grimace as he began to feel the uncomfortable sensation of bones knitting.

She seemed almost distracted, hardly interested in his injury, simply performing the necessary treatment automatically and she was definitely exhausted.

"I was lucky the hatch to the next deck was closed. I would have fallen further," he said, trying to drown out the slight buzz of the instrument clamped onto his leg with his voice.

"Why'd you fall?"

"I missed the next rung with my foot and then just fell."

"Oh." She stared at the contraption around his leg for a moment, then looked up as if his response had triggered a delayed reaction.

"How long has it been since you slept, Harry?" She asked, her face still listless but her tone sharp.

"Why?" Harry replied, perfectly aware that he was thwarting the question.

"Because," she began, a quality to her voice somewhere between sarcasm and exasperation that still managed to communicate her total understanding of the situation. "I was wondering if you're another one of the many people who are ignoring their health and physical needs-such as *sleep*, endangering themselves and Voyager."

Sam stared at him blankly, clearly awaiting a response.

"Many?" he asked.



"Tuvok, for starters. I tried to explain to him that victims of close range phaser blasts do not leave Sickbay within thirty-two hours, if that," Sam let out an irritated breath. "He was able to justify it, logically, of course, somehow. Which is something considering how many people with injuries like his left without even bothering to act like that were listening to me."

She checked the progress of the procedure, adjusting one of the clamps around his calf.

"Joe Carey, too. He's risking permanent side effects for leaving with a half-treated head injury. And you can tell him that the Medkit he swiped when I wasn't looking is only going to reduce the pain in his head, and only coming back here is going to get rid of it. And then there's you," Sam finished matter-of-factly.

"Joe's really needed in Engineering," Harry told her earnestly. "It's a mess. And Tuvok's coordinating everything that's involved in getting the ship back on its feet and ready to go after the Maquis. *I* was fixing some of the damage done to the Jefferies Tubes. The Maquis wrecked a lot of systems by having fire-fights up there."

Sam deactivated and began swiftly undoing the clasps of the device on his leg.

"Repairing Voyager won't do any good if the entire crew is ready to collapse from exhaustion and untreated injuries," Sam snapped.

She tugged the brace off his leg and set it aside. She ran a scanner up and down, not meeting his eyes. Harry stared at the top of her head, trying to understand that Sam was simply stressed from having dealt with the injured, and trying to deny that a small part of him was thinking the she had other reasons for wanting to delay repairs by reducing the workforce. Reasons having to do with protecting the escaped Maquis, among whom, he thought, was Ken Dalby.

"How does it feel?" Her voice interrupted his thoughts.

"A little stiff."

"That's normal." She set the scanning instrument aside. "Though I wouldn't go climbing any ladders for the next, say, six hours."

Sam crossed her arms, stepping to the side of the bio-bed.

"Got it?" She asked in much the same tone that she probably used to tell Naomi to go to bed.

"Yes," he replied. "Perfectly."


Harry started to scoot off the bio-bed when Sam stopped him, pressing a hand lightly against his shoulder.

"Harry, please don't think that I don't want you to help speed up repairs, I just..."

Sam sighed deeply, closing her eyes momentarily, then meeting his eyes again.

"I'm just not enjoying being the only doctor on Voyager, and having to try treat patients who need the EMH or at least someone better trained than I."

"There's no one else," Harry began, feeling his suspicions soften as he stared into her drawn face and shiny eyes.

"No, Harry, I know that. I know you don't have time to try to find the EMH, or even if his program still exists. But the crew is over-extending themselves and having accidents like yours because they're too tired or in too much pain to concentrate, and I'm getting a little stressed. And you were here to yell at." She squeezed his shoulder. "Don't take it personally. I still want you to go get some sleep, though."

"I will," Harry agreed. Almost as an afterthought, he asked, "When was the last time *you* slept, Sam?"

Sam almost smirked. "That's not important, Harry. As acting CMO, I have access to every single stimulant in the medical database."

She nearly cracked a smile.

"But, it was at the EMH's, er, my desk. Right before you walked in here."

"Neelix to Sickbay," the Talaxian's voice cut through almost before Sam stopped speaking.

Sam's hand left Harry's shoulder, darting to her comm badge.

"I'm here, Neelix. Is Naomi-"

"Naomi's fine," Neelix interjected before she'd finished the question. "The Captain just informed me that the power supply to the Mess Hall has been repaired. I want to get down there so the crew has something better to eat than those awful rations. Do you need me to take Naomi with me, or can you or someone else come and watch her? She's taking a nap, but I suppose she can sleep in the Mess Hall."

Sam's hand dropped from her communicator, rising to rub the bridge of her nose in an utterly defeated motion.

"Neelix, I can't leave Sickbay. I guess you'll have to take her with you. She's going to have a fit when you wake her, though."

Sam's drawn face resurfaced as her arm lowered and her hand slid down her face. Her dreary expression changed as her eyes alighted on Harry.

"Hey.... Hold on, Neelix."

Sam closed the line, grasping Harry's shoulders with both hands.

"Harry, would you please? Naomi hates having her schedule disrupted, and I don't want her any more upset than she already is. She's napping, so you can sleep on my bed. Would you mind?" Sam asked hopefully, withdrawing one hand and fidgeting with the single pip on her collar.

"Sure," Harry said, relieved to see a look of gratitude sweep over Sam's face, replacing the despair.

"*Thank you!*"

She opened the comm line, confirming to Neelix that he was free to leave and that Harry was on his way. Harry rose from the bio-bed, feeling the slight awkwardness in his repaired leg. He took a few tentative steps toward the door, testing his balance.

"Thank you so much," Sam repeated.

"It's no problem," he assured her. "Have you told Naomi what happened?"

Before Harry's eyes, Sam's entire demeanor changed, her posture stiffening.

"No. Not really. I haven't seen her since we got back, been too busy here," Sam drew out, her gaze focused somewhere behind him.

She wrapped her arms tightly, nervously, around her waist, still not making eye contact.

"Naomi's pretty intuitive, so she knows something bad happened. Neelix told her that the Maquis left, but not much more. I was waiting to explain it to her in person, not over the comm line, so that she could ask me questions," Sam finished, her distant gaze finally flickering to Harry's face. "Not that I can answer them."

Sam's eyes dropped then, moving to follow her hand, which was tracing the edge of the nearest bio-bed, while the other stayed pressed tightly against her stomach.

"I tried really hard to explain the Maquis and Starfleet situation to her, that merging into one crew wasn't that easy but that Voyager made it work. After this," Sam shook her head, tilting it to glance at Harry again. "I'm not really sure what I'm going to say. I think, maybe, that this kind of betrayal from the Maquis might be more traumatizing than being on Voyager when they were trying to take the ship would have been."

Harry could feel the sympathy well up in his chest, as Sam tried to tug the edge of off the bio-bed with the hand that wasn't still clutching herself.

"It's going to be tough," he agreed, searching for words that might provide some sort of encouragement. "But, you're a good mother, Sam. I think you can help Naomi understand it and deal with in a healthy way. You'll know how she feels, considering your relationship with Ken Dalby."

That was probably the wrong thing to say.

Sam's eyes darted to some distant spot on the far wall, her face drawing even tauter than before.

"Yeah," she said quickly, her fidgeting hand freezing in place on the bio-bed rim. "Goodbye, Harry." Forcibly, she looked back at him. "When you get to my quarters, Harry, I really want you to sleep. Naomi naps for a very long time, and you'll hear her if she has a nightmare. Just sleep and you'll build up some more energy." A tentative, lighter tone tried to come into her voice, "My bed's really soft, Harry. Probably because Naomi likes jumping on it."

Her gaze was already travelling away from him before she finished speaking. The last comment, meant with levity, came out heavy and dead.

"I promise I'll get some sleep, Sam," Harry said softly.

He turned to go, but before he got near the door, it was already open. A whirling flash of gold security uniforms surrounding a single blue science uniform tumbled into Sickbay.


The blur of colored uniforms transformed into four security guards grappling with one struggling Maquis prisoner. For such a slight young man, Gerron was managing to retain a lot of mobility while being gripped by four much larger men who seemed to be trying to hold him in place.

It looked to Harry like there was an electrical current running from the hands of the security guards holding Gerron's right side to the grip the other two had on his left side, sending Gerron into writhing fits.

It seemed to be a quiet eternity of just watching Gerron struggle. Harry wasn't quite sure what to do, even as he began moving towards the five to help. He knew he wouldn't exactly be much help, considering Gerron wasn't even staying still enough for him get a secure hold.

Time had stilled before Harry's eyes, and now it jumped back into motion, broken by the sharp feminine gasp from behind Harry. Seconds later, Gerron jerked free, breaking away from the security guards and practically flying past Harry. He forcefully brushed Harry's shoulder in either his haste to get away from the security guards or from some perception of Harry as a threat. Whatever Gerron's intention, the blow succeeded in knocking Harry off balance.

His recently healed leg did not take kindly to the shove, refusing to bend on cue and sending Harry toppling to the floor. One of the security guards nearly stomped on his hand as the four rushed after Gerron. Harry pulled his arm back from where the boot sole landed only a second before it would have been too late.

Forcing his stiff knee to bend, Harry pulled himself up, wincing at having made yet another impact with the ground in so short a time.

The four security guards had formed a semi-circle around Gerron, but had not yet seized him.

As he got to his feet completely, Harry saw why.

Standing beside Gerron, in a distinctively defensive and aggressive posture, was Samantha Wildman. Gerron was half-clinging to her, bright fearful eyes darting from each of the men surrounding them. Harry saw now, for the first time, why Gerron had been brought to Sickbay in the first place. Before, he hadn't been still long enough for Harry to discern anything to be wrong with him.

Now, Harry could see a distinct layer of sickly sweat over Gerron's paler than usual skin, and it didn't seem to all have been produced by exertion. There was a very large developing bruise running from his chin to his temple on the left side of Gerron's skull, accompanied by a fresh, bleeding gash on his forehead. . There wasn't anything observably wrong on Gerron's torso, but he was hunched over, the one arm that wasn't frantically clutching Sam Wildman wrapped protectively around his stomach.

Gerron suddenly looked very young. He *was* young, Harry knew that. But he had never seen Gerron when he wasn't skulking around looking like he had unpleasant intentions, not desperate and fearful like this.

And he certainly didn't look like enough of a threat to require the presence of the four hulking security guards.

Sam, looking somewhere between shocked and angry, with her formerly gray face rapidly flushing, was barking orders at the security guards to get the hell away from her patient.

The security guards were slowly backing away, protesting that their orders from Tuvok were to stay with him.

Sickbay had been deathly quiet before the five new arrivals entered; now it was almost deafening.

Somehow, over the din of Sam screaming and the security guards screaming right back, Harry managed to make his voice heard.


Three of the four security guards turned to look at him; two drawing their weapons from their belts as if he was some kind of threat.

Sam glanced at him momentarily, not having any more time because that was the instant Gerron chose to pass out. She rushed to re-position her arms to catch him as he collapsed. Harry had no idea where she got the strength to both catch Gerron and then hoist him smoothly on to the bio-bed that Harry had recently vacated. Gerron wasn't that big, but was definitely bigger and heavier than Sam. The strength apparently came from the same place the rage that was on her face did.

It was probably a combination of the two that allowed her to forcefully shove the fourth security guard away, as he began approaching the bio-bed perimeter. Harry didn't think that she actually caused the guard to stumble backwards, considering that he probably outweighed her by two hundred pounds of muscle and was nearly two feet taller.

All the same, he backed up, indicating to his three companions that their duty could more or less be accomplished from fifteen feet away, now that their prisoner was unconscious.

"Harry," called Sam.

She was quickly activating various equipment, face still crimson with fury.

"I need your help. Grab that medical tray next to you."

Harry picked it up, walking quickly past the security guards to deliver it to her. He felt uncomfortable kinks in his leg snap as he moved. As he extended it towards her, she didn't look up, hunched over the medical console. Her hands darted rapidly over the keys and the medical arch rose from the sides of Gerron's bio-bed to close over him.

"Hand me the neural-"

She glanced at him, seeing the clueless expression fall over his features before she even finished the name of the instrument.

"End of the tray, Harry. Little square things that go on your forehead."

Feeling ashamed of his medical ignorance, even though Sam didn't seem to care, Harry picked the small instrument and pressed it into her hand. Sam quickly centered it on Gerron's forehead, making a small sound of concern as she noticed the cut right beside it for the first time.

Sam returned to the console, and Harry stood beside her. The medical scanner began to scroll information down the screen at an unbelievably quick rate. It was a blur to Harry; not that he could understand it any way.

Sam, however, understood it perfectly.

"Broken.... punctured... lacerated... concussed...!"

Sam turned, mouth agape, cheeks flushed blood red and eyes blazing, to the security guards.

"Just what the hell were you trying to do? Kill him!?" She spat the accusations with fury.

The one who she had shoved responded, seemingly barely affected by her reaction.

"He resisted," he said, calmly.

"Did he?" Sam mocked as her eyes slid into slits and darted sideways.

It was apparent to Harry that she was contemplating saying something else but was holding her tongue. She apparently decided against it, physically turning away from the men.

"Get out of Sickbay," she commanded coldly, pulling a regenerator off of the tray Harry was still holding and leaning over Gerron.

"We have orders to stay with him," stated the same insolent guard.

"You have new orders," Sam snarled, without looking up. "From the Acting Chief Medical Officer, who outranks you all. She says get the hell out of her Sickbay before she reports you to Tuvok for brutality."

It took a very short amount of time for the four men to consider her words.

"We'll be outside," the only vocal one of the four told Harry, choosing to not look at Sam.

"Just get out," Sam ordered.

The four quickly retreated out the door.

The door slid quietly shut, almost drowned out entirely by the loud, emotion-filled sigh produced by Sam.

"Thanks, Harry. You can just put the tray down on the instrument table right there," Sam said, quite pleasantly if hurried, in stark contrast to the harsh voice she'd been using for the past ten minutes.

"And Harry, once you get to my quarters could you comm Tuvok and tell him that I would like to see all the injured Maquis? Somehow, I think the brig guards are only bringing in the ones who are at risk of bleeding to death internally."

The harsh tone began to creep back into Sam's voice.

"Sure, Sam. I'll tell him."

"Thank you. And don't forget to go to sleep."

"I won't," Harry promised.

He exited, awkwardly stepping around the four security guards crowding around the other side of the door.

"We had to end up with the Maquis whore as the only Doctor, huh," the same dolt commented casually as Harry walked by.

Harry didn't answer.

He found himself troubled.

The four faces of Samantha Wildman flashed before his eyes in rapid secession. She'd been exhausted, slow in movement and pale in complexion, when he'd first walked in. There'd been a little anger when she talked about the stress she was under, but she'd remained with an almost gray complexion. When he'd brought up Ken Dalby-which he now knew not to do-she'd turned into an anxious, distant and disconnected person, who wouldn't make eye contact. And when Gerron had clung to her, there had been full-blown rage, with her cheeks inflamed and eyes blasting. Rage that had faded into medical competency and blood that had drained from her face.

Harry wasn't sure what to think. She was obviously hurting, at the loss of Dalby and by the destruction of Voyager's peaceful life. Before arriving in Sickbay himself, he'd heard some concerns from other crewmembers who returning from visiting the injured, that the only doctor on board was the lover of one of the people who had inflicted so much damage to Voyager. He couldn't, however, associate Sam with any kind of destruction. He couldn't see her supporting the Maquis, even if half of them were gone. She felt betrayed, he was sure. He couldn't believe she was feeling anything else, even if Gerron ran to her like she wasn't wearing a Starfleet uniform.


Tom peeled himself out of the helm seat, grimacing as his stiff muscles strained and his joints popped. One bad thing about being the only pilot-hell the only person-was that he didn't have any down shifts. And with his paranoia-justifiable, yet paranoia all the same-he didn't want to leave the sensors for the bunk in the back for a while or even the sonic shower for a few minutes.

He was, however, hungry enough to head to the replicator and bring back some dinner to the helm. Or he was until the sensors started beeping like crazy. He dropped back into the chair instantly, having only half risen in the first place.

There was something off to port. Something made of titanium and not moving, with either no life signs or shields. As his shuttle got closer, the object became visible, looking like some kind of primitive satellite or probe.

It was inactive, Tom's sensors reported, and it looked to be dead.

Satisfied that it wasn't going to come to life and do something nasty- like shoot at him-Tom stayed on course. He resumed his plan of getting dinner, rising from his seat. He stretched as he walked over to the replicator, trying to kick the kinks out of his legs. He approached the replicator.

"Paris984," he told it. "Tomato Soup. Hot."

The dish shimmered into existence, smelling delicious before it even finished appearing. Tom reached for it, mindful of the computer's warning of its heat. He picked the bowl up, careful to keep his fingers away from the heat radiating from the bottom of the bowl and seeping through the saucer it was set on. Really not in the mood to burn his hands, Tom held the edges of the saucer.

All his precautions really were very wise and safe; they just couldn't help that it was the instant that he was holding boiling soup that his shuttle started to shake. It lurched backwards, sending everything not attached to the shuttle falling in that direction.

Tom honestly barely felt the scalding liquid as it sloshed over his hands and then his uniform, past the very first moment of fiery pain. So intent was he to find out what the hell had just happened and to get back to where he might be able to retaliate. He let the tray drop and shatter on the floor. He put the pain out of his mind, fully expecting that worse things were on the way if he didn't get back to the helm.

He stumbled back to the helm, hands stinging and the alarms of the computer going nuts ringing in his ears.

The dead satellite had come to life.

A tractor beam extended visibly-and his sensors confirmed that's what it was-holding his shuttle immobile.

Tom pressed his hands against the helm controls-the burned pads on his fingers exploded in pain at this-and proceeded to try every trick he knew to shake a tractor beam's fix.

The only thing he succeeded in shaking was the shuttle, so violently he nearly fell out of his seat.

He gave up on the idea of breaking the hold through piloting methods.

He'd just blast it into little pieces.

He sent a mental thanks to whichever Maquis had improved his shuttle's weapons, not that whoever it was had had any idea that he or she'd be helping him in the long run.

He targeted the center of the probe; the area that his sensors said was emitting the beam.

Tom fired.

He didn't have time to observe the damage.

The shuttle exploded in blinding light.

The blinding light faded to solid red.

The red lifted like a curtain as he opened his eyes.

Oh, shit.

Somehow he'd ended up sprawled on the floor near the helm. Except for the residual flashes of light every time he blinked, the shuttle cabin was eerily dark. The computer was off, realized the part of his mind that wasn't completely stunned and in significant pain. Tom glanced down at his hands, which were sending jolts of pain up his arms again. His palms were blistered and bloody. The soup definitely hadn't done that.

But the helm had, apparently, when it exploded beneath his fingers.

Clumsily, Tom stumbled to his feet, without using his hands to push himself up off the floor.

Orally, he confirmed the computer's deactivation.



Tom felt a cold shiver run up his spine, a welcome yet frightening guest to the heat radiating from his arms.

The satellite-probe-whatever the hell that thing was had gone dead again. The tractor beam was gone but Tom still couldn't move with a dead shuttle.

Something wet dribbled off his chin, and without thinking he raised a hand to touch it.


He'd bashed his face in to the floor as well. For the first time he noticed the taste of blood coating his lips.

Feeling helpless, Tom moved to the back of the shuttle where the medkits were. If nothing else, he could treat his burned hands and torn face and wait for whoever had activated the satellite to come and get him. He wouldn't be completely helpless when they came.

Unless, of course, the Maquis came across him first.


There were still phaser blast holes on the corridor walls. In places, the rug was burned completely away. Half of the crew quarters' doors had been reduced to mangled pieces of metal after the Maquis had locked them inside. It made Voyager look so much more like a helpless vessel of castaways than the powerful starship it was.

It disgusted her to see the damage as she walked the halls.

She knew, of course, that it was far more important to fix the structural damage, to revive the failed systems, and to heal the injured than to patch minor scrapes for being eyesores.

But it turned her stomach, every scorched mark a reminder of one of her crew who had fallen, shot by one who had pretended to be one of their own, until such time that they thought they could wrench control of Voyager away.

A time that should never have come.

And hadn't, really, for what the Maquis did-* tried to do* failed miserably for they seemed to have thought that her crew would just cower and surrender.


If you didn't count the cowards who had fled rather than fight for the ship, that is.

And she wasn't counting them, not as part of her crew.

Every leader, every captain, learned from mistakes.

Her mistake was blindness, allowing infiltrators to enter her crew, serving along side them only to turn and try to destroy them. She had been so unseeing up until the very commencement of the attempted mutiny, even now she couldn't think of why she hadn't felt the uprising coming as quickly as it had, and why she hadn't known that certain members of her crew were so cowardly as to flee.

She did have inklings of ideas, but they repulsed her.

When she had demoted Jenny Delaney, among the others who had fled, the woman had been crying silently. It wasn't so odd that one would cry at a demotion and formal reprimand with the threat of future confinement but that Delaney was staring straight at her the entire time, as opposed to most of the others who wouldn't even make eye contact.

It was very easy to read the blame in Delaney's eyes: blame for not preventing the mutiny attempt -that badly injured Megan Delaney, incidentally-and made Jenny Delaney decide that it was necessary to drop her Starfleet duties and flee Voyager.

That accusation existed in the silent faces of everyone who had fled Voyager; everyone who didn't want to recognize their own cowardice.

She'd really wanted to toss them all into the Brig, just to quench her desire to punish them. She'd realized, though, with a little conference with Tuvok, that it wasn't that simple. Despite her loss of trust in them, they were needed on Voyager. With the sheer amount of crew who'd been lost-the Maquis, the injured, and the dead-Voyager had to use every last man they had. Everyone who wasn't in the Brig or in Sickbay was working around the clock to repair Voyager, she'd seen to that.

And everyone in the Brig or in Sickbay knew exactly why.

The Maquis in the Brig didn't need to be told why, although she'd made a point of visiting the Brig for that exact purpose.

They didn't seem to know how to react. It was plain to see that they'd lost a great deal of their fusion with the absence of Chakotay. Half of the Maquis glared silently at her, others flung whispered obscenities towards her, and still others looked away fearfully.

They all reacted to her intention to capture Chakotay and the other escaped Maquis in pretty much the same way. One collective smirk.

She'd left the Brig, even angrier than before if that was possible. She was heading to the Bridge, her eyes catching every scorched mark on the wall.

There was even one in the turbo lift.

She already seen the battle scars on the Bridge. Someone had had the sense to clean up the bloodstain besides Tactical. She didn't know where the burned patch on the floor a few feet in front of her chair came from, but she couldn't take her eyes off of it.

As she sat in her seat, listening to Joe Carey's report on Engineering, her gaze gravitated to the mark on the floor.

Engineering was functioning normally finally, despite significant water and fire damage. It could sustain warp and engage in battle. There were still a few questionable systems. The Maquis had raised hell by having shoot-outs in the Jefferies Tubes. The remaining systems would probably be up by the time they encountered the Maquis.

At maximum warp, starting now, and considering the fact that the Maquis had almost a week head start but also that the Maquis had only shuttles, Voyager would be close to the Maquis within two days, optimistically .

And then the escaped Maquis would wish very badly that they never tried to take Voyager away from her rightful Captain.


"That's awfully destructive," mused Ken Dalby as neutrally as he could, not lifting his eyes from their spot on the sensor screen.

"That's the point," snorted Henley from her seat beside him.

Ken could feel the eyes of every Maquis in the shuttle land on him, and he was more than certain that although the small shuttle view screen only showed a few of the passengers on the other shuttles, they were all listening to him.

"What I mean," he asserted, looking up, "Is that if we pick up from that point in Plan E Voyager is going to take a real beating. If we go through with that, it's going to be so much work to repair it all. It's not very far from destroying Voyager completely."

Chakotay stared at him, hard.

"There is a great amount of destruction in that scenario," he admitted. "How would you suggest we change it?"

"We don't use all of the step from Plan E. Localized destruction in Engineering and the Bridge. Less mess for us and it probably will kill everyone there."

Ken heard the murderous intent of his last words ring in his own head.

Henley shook her head, "That might be possible if we were on Voyager, like we planned it. There's no way to execute such specific attack measures with photon torpedoes from the exterior."

Over the comm link, Jarvin's voice sounded as if he were standing right next to Ken.

"We don't even know if anyone activated any or all of the charges."

Henley sank backwards in her seat.

"We didn't think we'd need them. Plan C was supposed to have worked," she muttered. "It wouldn't have been a priority."

There was a heavy silence, the discussion of attacking Voyager deteriorating into the depressing reasons of why there had to be this discussion in the first place.

Chakotay cut into the stillness curtly.

"Let's think it over. Think what we can do, not what we can't."

For a moment there was only the familiar blips as the other shuttles disconnected from the comm channel. Then, simultaneously, everyone moved, turning back to monitor his or her station.

Ken started to glance down at his screen. He felt Henley move closer and peer over his shoulder. He resisted the urge to elbow her away, her closeness bothering him. Chakotay had made her sit down after her incessant pacing made everyone nervous, and inexplicably she had decided to practically sit on his lap.

He forgot all about Henley when he looked down at his screen.

The other shuttle was dead in space. No shields, no life whatsoever.

Nothing, the sensors said, should have caused that.

There was some sort of antique satellite off to port of the dead shuttle, but it was inactive and harmless, the sensors reported.

Ken spun around in his seat, jostling Henley and nearly knocking her off.

"Chakotay, I think you should see this."

Chakotay rose and walked over to Ken's station, drawing the other Maquis' attention. He looked down at the screen, quickly assessing the information.

"What happened?" He asked, concern in his voice.

"The sensors don't see anything that should have disabled it," Ken reported.

"It could be a trap," suggested Henley. "Waiting for us to come up to it so it can attack. How old is this trick?"

"It's too obvious," replied Chakotay. "And stupid. The odds aren't even in its favor. It's only one ship."

"And its not supposed to be able to see us," Ken added. "We're cloaked."

Chakotay stepped back to the center of the floor.

"Power weapons on all shuttles. If it moves, destroy it."

He paused.

"Have you been able to identify the occupants, Dalby?"

Ken glanced downwards.

"One human male, with normal life signs."

Chakotay nodded, his face unreadable.

"Steer clear of that satellite," Chakotay ordered the helmsman.

"It's dead," said Henley.

"And how old is that trick?"

Henley smiled a little, scooting back on to the seat.

Suddenly, she spilled on to the shuttle floor, though Ken knew he hadn't touched her. Everyone in the shuttle was jostled in place. Chakotay gripped the top of a chair for support.

"What happened?"

"Cloaking device is disabled," Ken reported.

"Weapons are down," added Henley, scrambling urgently back on to the seat.

"The other shuttles are reporting the same thing."

"I want to know what did that," Chakotay ordered, striding over and holding tightly to the back of Ken's chair.

"Not the other shuttle!"

Ken stared at the sensor readings, which were refusing to tell him where that jolt had come from.

Behind him, he heard deafening noise and indiscriminate phrases shouted at Chakotay from the shuttle's various stations.

What he did hear was that the cloaking device was decidedly not going back up and none of the shuttles had access any longer to their weapons systems.

He blocked the ruckus out, and then he found out just what the hell had done that.

A ship. A very big ship. In exactly the same location that the ancient satellite had been only moments ago. Well, the satellite was still there; actually, it was part of the ship. If in fact that was a ship and not a space station.

"Chakotay..." he called.

At the same time, a Maquis at another station shouted above the din:

"We're being hailed!"

The sound dropped, everyone silencing and turning expectantly to Chakotay.

Chakotay looked at Ken's sensor screen, face dark and serious.

"Open a channel."

The view screen blinked from the sparkling stars to the dark interior of, apparently, the bridge of the massive ship. The Maquis shuttle was deathly quiet, its occupants alternating from staring at the screen to staring at their commander.

Henley's hushed whisper sounded awkwardly loud as she stared frightfully at the sensor readings and murmured,

"Technologically superior and *huge*, Chakotay. Be nice."

"Weapons wise," Ken clarified, softly. "We might be able to outrun it, though."

"If it wasn't shooting," Henley added.

The humanoid that appeared on the screen was remarkably indistinguishable, gray with a brown ridge where there might be a nose.

"I am the rear quadrant Defensive Minister of Pelora. You have entered the Peloran Empire's space. It is forbidden to travel our space disguised as you were. Such devices are not utilized in this space, nor are weapons. Identify yourselves and purpose."

Chakotay stepped confidently forward, and Ken could swear he had the same charismatic expression he wore when they weaseled their way past inspection points back in the Alpha Quadrant.

"Greetings, Minister. I am Chakotay of the Maquis."

There was a definite change in atmosphere when Chakotay identified themselves as something they'd been pretending for the longest time not to be. Ken saw the faces of so many people light up that he couldn't help but smile as well.

"We are travelers from very far away. Please forgive our accidental infraction of your laws. We were merely protecting ourselves. We are peaceful and of course will abide by your laws."

The Minister was not convinced.

"Explain your purpose here."

Chakotay tried again, visibly moving into the persuasive persona that usually worked so damn well.

"We have no distinct purpose. We are travelers and explorers."

"And refugees," muttered Henley, soft enough to avoid being picked up by the speaker yet loud enough that Chakotay sent her a stern glare out of the corner of his eye.

The Minister's eyes shifted, a motion that Ken had seen enough times on enough border guards to know that it meant, "I still don't trust you." Every Maquis had seen the expression before, and with it there was the distinct feeling of discouragement setting in.

"Are you affiliated with the shuttle that arrived a while ago?" Continued the Minister.

It was easy to tell from his demeanor that being affiliated would probably not get on his good side.

"No," said Chakotay instantly. "We are from the same place, but have no alliance with it."

This pacified the Minister.

"Very well. You may proceed into Peloran Space, but you will not be able to activate your disguise or your weapons."

Chakotay nodded affably, although Ken was beginning to see tension in his back. The view screen blinked back onto space. Chakotay ordered the helmsman to proceed, his order nearly drowned out by Henley's explosion.

"No *weapons*! No cloaks? Chakotay-"

"I don't like it either," Chakotay interrupted, speaking to everyone. "We'll get out of this space as soon as we're able. But, for now, at least, we know that Voyager won't be able to attack us here, and I got the feeling that the Pelorans are the ones detaining the other shuttle."

"Why?" Wondered Ken, out loud.

"It must have done something to upset them. And we're not going to upset them to find out what it takes," responded Chakotay, turning to stare out the view screen.


Tom Paris had a hell of a time wrenching the Medkit open with the condition his hands were in. Once he got the regenerator out and working though, the relief was indescribable.

And if he concentrated on the physical relief then he didn't think as much about how scared he was.

Nothing had happened since that satellite thing had blasted his computer off-line.

Not a damn thing.

He kept waiting for the aliens who had activated the satellite to show their faces, but they didn't.

He kept waiting for the Maquis to discover he was an easy picking and blast him away. But they didn't, either.

Keeping an eye on the view screen-his only way of observing now-he continued working on his hands until the burns and scrapes were mere memories.

It had been only ten minutes since he'd pried himself off of the floor, but Tom could feel every second that was slowly ticking silently by. He almost felt like he was being watched. Which was why he felt the need to look like he was doing something else entirely as he carefully pried the bulkhead off the wall to see if he could manually mess with the components and bring the computer back up, all without touching the controls-which were completely destroyed at the helm-and which he didn't trust not to conduct another blast to his hands.

Not that he didn't think that the same incapacitating shock could be directed through the exposed electronics, but going for the components instead of the control panels seemed a tad bit sneakier.

The sudden hum of the computer and the intensifying light made Tom jump out of his skin.

Because he hadn't touched anything yet.

He turned around slowly, almost expecting to see someone already standing in the shuttle.

There was no one.

Not inside the shuttle, anyway. Through the view screen, he could see a massive ship that definitely hadn't been there when last he looked. He couldn't take his eyes from it as he crossed from where he had been standing to the front of the shuttle. One of the consoles chirped, but he couldn't look away from that huge ship. Or maybe it was a space station. Either way, it was giant.

It kept chirping, insistently, until Tom backed up and finally tore his gaze from the screen.

The ship, the enormous ship, was hailing him.

Apparently their logic was shoot first, then talk.

Tom dropped into the nearest chair, reaching over and activating the comm channel. He was facing away from the screen, as the chair had been turned away from the screen. He heard the screen activate as he began to swivel, the oddest feeling of fear and anticipation taking over his body like being doused in cold water.

The screen blinked from the view of the gigantic ship to a dark room, with a single nondescript occupant. Tom stared at the decidedly non-threatening alien, a slight figure with gray skin and a patch of skin resembling a roach instead of a nose.

It probably wasn't the wisest thing to do, considering that the alien had a much bigger ship-which was actually attached to the so-called satellite that had blasted him, the slightly damaged sensors were only now reporting-superior technology, and seemed to be quite good at damaging ships with inferior technology.

Tom did it anyway.

"What the hell is your problem?" He demanded before the alien could speak.

The hairless skin on the forehead of the alien shot up, indignation obviously not the reaction he was used to.

"I am the rear quadrant Defensive Minister of Pelora," the alien began, flustered.

"And I'm Tom Paris, pilot. What the hell did you do to my ship?"

"You violated Peloran law by attempting to damage my vessel," replied the Minister, gaining composure.

"And what about holding my ship? That's legal?"

"It's standard procedure when two or more related vessels proceed separately to the Peloran border."

"I'm one ship, Minister," Tom said, well aware that the alien was talking about the Maquis.

"I know that," snapped the Minister, offended. "You were followed closely by several disguised ships, of identical making."

"I *didn't* know that," lied Tom smoothly. "When that satellite-which I thought was a satellite, not a ship-detained me I thought I was in imminent danger and defended myself. I didn't know it was that it was a border procedure. I didn't even know this was a border," Tom finished truthfully.

The Minister looked exasperated, but not quite to the point of blasting Tom's shuttle again.

"You're transgression is forgotten, providing you abide by our laws if you are allowed to enter Peloran space."


The alien looked at relieved as Tom felt.

"Then, identify yourself and purpose."

"Tom Paris, pilot," Tom repeated.

And I'm fleeing the scene of a really ugly mutiny-no, that didn't sound very good.

"I'm going home. To the Alpha Quadrant."

"As you have no hostile intentions in Peloran space, you may proceed. However, you will be escorted by one of our ships to ensure your compliance to our laws. You cannot utilize weapons in our space."

It sounded to Tom like he just got a free escort of protection from the Maquis.

"Good," Tom said.

The Minister seemed to scowl, cutting off the comm channel.

From somewhere a smaller ship appeared on Tom's sensors. Smaller than the gargantuan, but bigger than Tom's tiny shuttle. Bigger than Voyager, by a bit. Tom felt the jolt as it extended another tractor beam and latched on to him. He could repair the helm in the time it took for the Peloran vessel to propel him through Peloran Space.

And he wouldn't have to worry about the Maquis.

Hell, maybe he'd just sleep.


Harry Kim couldn't help but notice all the damage in Voyager's corridors. There were phaser streaks one every wall, a minimum of one every meter. Half of the doors had huge holes in them from when their occupants tried to escape the locked quarters by blasting their phasers. The carpet was also wrecked, burnt and shredding. If he looked long enough he could imagine it served as a timeline of the attempted mutiny. Smooth, clean and normal, to slightly singed and dirty, to completely unrecognizable, blackened until he could see the plating on the floor.

On his way to Samantha Wildman's quarters, he mentally assessed all the destruction. He'd have to make up repair assignments for all the cosmetic damage, eventually. Once all the system repairs were done, and that wouldn't be for a long while.

He did a double take as he neared the Wildman's quarters. One of the adjacent quarter's entrances was completely mutilated. Not only were the doors mangled by a piece of the doorway had been broken off, and the other half hung down like a broken branch. It didn't even resemble what the quarters of a starship of Voyager's caliber should look like.

Harry reached Sam's quarters. Her door was actually intact. But then again, she and Naomi had been on shore leave during the mutiny. No one had been inside to fight his or her way out.

Hoping not to wake Naomi, although there was nothing he could do to quiet the door controls, he tapped in the appropriate sequence to open the door.

The doors slid smoothly, and thankfully quietly, apart. It was pitch black within, and when the doors slid shut blocking out the light from the corridor, Harry couldn't see a thing. He squinted into the darkness, waiting for his eyes to adjust.

He still couldn't see anything.

"Computer," he whispered, wincing at the loud beep of recognition. "Lights at twenty percent."

The lights instantly rose, illuminating the previous darkness.

Only seconds later, Harry heard the light patter of a child's feet, followed by the small shadow that entered the room moments before Naomi did.


"No, Naomi. It's me, Harry."

"Oh." Naomi's face drooped. "Where's my mom?"

"She's in Sickbay," Harry explained, noticing that although in her pajamas, Naomi didn't look to have been napping recently.


Naomi crossed her arms over her chest, her face squeezing into a distinct pout.

"Yeah, Sweetie. She has a lot of patients. She has to take care of them."

Harry walked further into the living area of the quarters.

Unconvinced, Naomi scowled harder.

"She's been there forever. I thought the EMH was supposed to be Voyager's doctor."

Feeling somewhat intrusive, Harry took a seat on the sofa. Naomi, still plainly unhappy, climbed up and took a seat besides him.

"We can't find the EMH, Naomi. Without your mom, there's no one to help the injured."

"What happened to the EMH?" asked Naomi, staring at him.

"We don't know. The computer won't run his program," Harry told her honestly.

He hadn't had that much time to search the annals of the Sickbay files for the Doc's program before being reassigned. He still couldn't believe that the Maquis would delete the EMH, however much resistance he was providing. No one in the Maquis had substantial medical training, and Torres, among many others, could certainly have programmed him into a loyal Maquis doctor.

Remembering his promise to Naomi's mother, Harry got up off the coach and headed to Sam's comm station. He called up Tuvok's station on the Bridge, knowing that there was nowhere else the Vulcan would be. He relayed Sam's request to Tuvok, who had no discernible reaction, only nodding and assuring it would be taken care of. He thanked Tuvok, cutting off the comm link and returning to the coach where Naomi was still sitting.

"When is my mom going to come home?" asked Naomi, plaintively.

"Pretty soon," Harry reassured her, although he honestly didn't know how long Samantha needed to monitor her patients.

"Oh," said Naomi, obviously not believing him. She leaned against the back of the couch, looking a bit sleepier now that her hopes of having her mother come had been dashed.

"Did the people in Sickbay get injured when the Maquis left?" She asked innocently, looking at him from half-closed eyes.

Unsure of just how much Naomi had been told by Neelix or for that matter how much Sam wanted her to know, Harry was tentative to respond.

Naomi took his silence as an affirmative to her question. Her eyes were closing faster now, and Harry took the pillow from the space between them and put in his lap. Naomi practically collapsed on it, confirming that she hadn't been napping at all. As she curled up on it, Harry could barely hear her murmuring as her face pressed into the pillow.

"I guess Mom wanted to go on shore leave so badly 'cause she knew people were going to get hurt when the Maquis left," muttered the child as she drifted off. Then she raised her head, eyes barely open, and said loudly and clearly,

"Computer, lights off."

In the darkness, Harry Kim sat frozen at what Samantha Wildman's daughter had just accidentally revealed.


Maybe fifteen minutes after Harry left Sickbay, Tuvok commed Sam Wildman. He told her that she should be receiving the untreated injured Maquis within the hour. He sounded perfectly neutral, of course. She'd managed to calm down significantly since Harry left, but heard the hoarseness in her own voice and knew Tuvok would too. She'd thanked him for his quick response, not letting on that she was thanking him for being the only person on board whom she could truly trust to not be seeking further revenge against the Maquis. Moments after Tuvok cut the comm line, O'Donnell from the Brig reopened it. He only spoke a few words, telling her that he was beaming in the injured Maquis one at time. He was curt, speaking sharply like he'd just been chastised.


She turned around to face the bio-bed that she'd cleared, checking the set up of the medical equipment. She hadn't actually treated any conscious Maquis yet. She'd had far more Starfleet patients than Maquis, but the Maquis patients were in far worse condition than the others, and thus far unconscious. Sam picked up the medical tricorder and flipped it open, watching the figure on the bio-bed shimmer into existence.

It was B'Elanna Torres, stretched out on her side, facing away from Sam. Even from the back, Sam diagnosed a grazing phaser blast to the shoulder, which looked to be a few days old. Torres reoriented to the room, sitting up quickly and surveying Sickbay. She glanced over her shoulder, noticing Sam for the first time. She didn't move, just sat there, her lack of reaction making Sam suddenly become nervous. More nervous, anyway. She didn't quite know what she'd been expecting Torres-any Maquis-to do, but to sit quietly and wait for medical treatment was not high on the list.

She circled the bio-bed, running the tricorder over Torres. Another phaser wound, this one to the upper torso. Maybe the Maquis got worse injuries because they didn't stop after being shot once. Torres mutely extended her right hand into the tricorder's path. Sam first stared at the tricorder screen, which said Torres had broken her wrist, rather badly at that. When Sam raised her eyes from the tricorder to the actual injured body part, she saw the massively swollen limb that had to hurt terribly. Forgetting the identity of her patient momentarily, she found herself speaking almost sympathetically.

"How did that happen?"

"Vorik," responded Torres, making direct eye contact for the first time. "And Paris shot me twice."

Sam turned away, reaching for the equipment tray. Over her shoulder, she felt obliged to retort.

"Someone shot Vorik, too," she said, remembering his ugly phaser wound.

"That was Henley," replied Torres, an almost amused innocent tone to her voice. "Not me."

She winced when Sam took hold of her wrist, regenerator in hand. Sam could feel Torres' eyes on her as she held the regenerator over the injured wrist.

"So, where's the EMH?" Torres asked, staring at her outstretched hand.

"That's a good question. If you asked enough of the Maquis, you might find out."

"Oh," said Torres, an inexplicable look of mirth falling over her face.

Torres' apparent amusement at the Doctor's absence irked Sam enough that she was less than gentle in rotating Torres' wrist. If Torres noticed the aggression, she ignored it.

"Is Ken in the Brig?" Sam asked finally, avoiding eye contact.

"No," Torres said smoothly. "He must have left with Chakotay."

Sam continued her ministrations with the regenerator, her mind slowly processing the information. She wasn't sure, actually, how she felt knowing that Ken wasn't on Voyager.

It eliminated the dangerous temptation to go down and see him, which she obviously couldn't do.

And it increased by tenfold the desire to want to know where he was and if he was okay.

As if reading her mind, and if not that certainly reading her face, Torres smirked.

"Don't worry, Janeway's made it clear that's she's going to bring them all back." Torres' lips curled. "You can probably arrange to share a cell."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Having prior knowledge of a mutiny and keeping quiet about it is frowned upon by Starfleet, *Ensign*."

Torres met Sam's eyes, her own wide and knowing.

"I was-"

"You don't have to explain yourself to me. You helped us out. Thanks."

Sam dropped Torres' arm, backing away.

She returned to the tray of instruments, putting down the regenerator.

"If you take off your uniform and get into a patient gown, I'll treat the other injuries."

Torres obliged to that request without speaking any further. In fact, she remained quiet for the rest of the exam, except for wincing when Sam prodded the sore tissue on her belly. Treating Torres' injuries, running completely on automatic, Sam could barely keep from inflicting more. Torres had all but threatened to tell Janeway. Not that Janeway would believe her, Sam calmed herself by thinking. Janeway hadn't even mentioned Ken when Sam had seen her in Sickbay after first being brought back to Voyager.

Of course, she'd been a little occupied then.

After the exam, as Sam was putting away the equipment, Torres scooted off the bio-bed and wandered across Sickbay. Sam turned to watch her, not putting it past Torres to attack one of the sedated Starfleet patients. Or to snatch something and use it as a weapon.

Torres wove around the bio-beds, heading toward the one on which Gerron lay.

She paused by it, leaning over the side. When she looked up, her expression was serious.

"Is he going to be alright?"

"He was hurt pretty badly," Sam replied, not feeling the desire to assure or comfort Torres in any way.

"Would the EMH be able to treat him better than you can?"


Someone had finally alerted Tuvok to the fact that the injured Maquis had yet to be treated. A situation that was in violation of regulation number whatever. B'Elanna Torres didn't know where it said prisoners had to have access to medical care, but it did and Tuvok knew where, so no matter how pissed O'Donnell was, he still had to beam her to Sickbay.

She didn't bother rising from the cell floor, watching O'Donnell's furious face disappear as the tingling transporter beam overtook her.

Sickbay appeared around her. B'Elanna sat up. The phaser wounds to both her shoulder and stomach protested mightily to the movement but she ignored them, peering around and seeing no one, save patients who appeared to be unconscious. They hadn't been that stupid, had they? To beam her into Sickbay without anyone conscious there.

No, they hadn't.

Samantha Wildman, Dalby's paramour, walked out from behind her. She was holding a medical tricorder, making her way to the front of the bio-bed. Wildman looked...odd, was the only word B'Elanna could pick. In silence, Wildman ran the scanner over her. B'Elanna offered her arm out into the path of the tricorder. Looking past her fingers, B'Elanna let her eyes roam around Sickbay. She didn't see the EMH anywhere. Wildman had been training with the Doc for a short while, B'Elanna knew. She had thought that perhaps Wildman had been stuck with her to assure that the other patients were treated by a medical professional, but it appeared that they actually hadn't been able to activate the Doc.

Ha. Morons.

"How did that happen?"

Wildman's voice interrupted. She sounded hoarse and tired, but surprisingly sympathetic. Sympathy was not what B'Elanna had been expecting. This was an interesting development. The Maquis might have an ally who wasn't locked up or light years away from Voyager.

"Vorik," B'Elanna answered, searching Wildman's face for a reaction. "And Paris shot me twice," she added, angrily.

Waking up in a haze of pain and confusion on her Brig cell floor, with the barest memory of Paris shooting her as she rushed him in the Turbo Lift had been an awful experience. She didn't know what had happened to Paris, but she hoped it was very painful and slow.

Wildman turned away, reaching for the equipment tray. She turned her head and tossed a remark completely devoid of sympathy over her shoulder.

"Someone shot Vorik, too."

That wasn't compassion lacing Wildman's words, it was acid.

Oh well. It had been nice to hope, even for a few seconds, that Wildman might be still be on the Maquis' side. Seemed when Wildman no longer had to worry about the violence of the mutiny and whore herself to Dalby for protection, she was perfectly comfortable in a Starfleet uniform. Big shock there.

"That was Henley," B'Elanna pleasantly informed Wildman. "Not me."

Wildman took hold of her wrist, sending lancing pain jolting up B'Elanna's arm. B'Elanna ground her teeth at the sudden reunion with the pain she'd been ignoring for the past week. Upon awakening in the Brig, it had been far more important to determine just why the hell the Maquis had lost while she'd been unconscious than to lie still and experience the agony of a broken limb and two separate festering phaser wounds. Well, she'd been able to do that after the Brig guards had told her to shut up.

Wildman was running the instrument over her wrist, a dark look on her face.

"So, where's the EMH?" B'Elanna asked innocently, watching the instrument's progress and relishing in the relief it was providing.

"That's a good question," Wildman snapped. "If you asked enough of the Maquis you might find out."


At that moment, Wildman fiercely twisted B'Elanna's wrist. That was just nasty. And it *hurt*. B'Elanna chose to ignore it, deciding to wait until after medical treatment to react.

"Is Ken in the Brig?" Wildman was avoiding eye contact, her face as tight as her voice.

She's not supposed to care anymore. Why the hell would she ask?

"No," B'Elanna answered truthfully. "He must have left with Chakotay."

She watched Wildman's face for a reaction. Something flickered across it. A series of somethings followed rapidly.

"Don't worry," B'Elanna said, well aware of the taunting tone in her voice. "Janeway's made it clear that she's going to bring them all back. You can probably arrange to share a cell."

Wildman looked stunned.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Having prior knowledge of a mutiny and keeping quiet about it is frowned upon by Starfleet, *Ensign*," B'Elanna said in the closest imitation of Janeway that she could manage.

Pretty close, apparently. Wildman started stuttering out an excuse.

"You don't have to explain yourself to me," B'Elanna said sweetly. "You helped us out. Thanks."

Since Wildman had switched loyalties, it couldn't hurt to point out that her current side wouldn't like her any more if they knew what side she'd been on a week ago. It would be nice to have an ally not locked up, whether through traditional loyalty or equally traditional blackmail.

Wildman turned away, harshly directing her to take off her uniform and get into a patient gown.

It felt surprisingly good to shed the Starfleet uniform. Actually it hurt very badly to lift her arms above her head, but once she dropped the gold and black garment on the floor, she felt better. Removal of Starfleet uniforms was part of what the Maquis had meant to do.

Definitely not in Sickbay after having been shot and having lost, but it was a small...well, it wasn't a victory, it just felt damn good.

B'Elanna felt much better than she had when she'd arrived in Sickbay by the end. Wildman had remained silent while treating the phaser wounds, and it had given B'Elanna a chance to get a good uninterrupted assessment of Sickbay. She noticed Gerron, unconscious or sedated, laid out on a bio-bed. When Wildman retreated to put away various instruments, B'Elanna got up and made her way over to him.

Gerron was still very pale, the same color he'd been all week. It had taken all week for him to vomit up blood, a serious enough symptom for the Brig guards to finally decide that maybe he was going to die if they didn't get him some treatment. They hadn't been interested in Ayala's and her own insistent warnings of his condition up to that point.

B'Elanna felt Wildman's eyes on her from across the room and raised her head to meet them.

"Is he going to be alright?"

"He was hurt pretty badly," Wildman replied coldly.

B'Elanna looked down again.

"Would the EMH be able to treat him better than you can?"


There was a definite trace of expectancy in Wildman's voice, and without the accompanying contempt and anger, B'Elanna might have been tempted to undo what she had done earlier to the EMH.

As it was, she wasn't.

"Then it's a shame you can't find him."

"It's time for you to go back to the Brig. Get back in your uniform."

"I don't want to ever put that thing on again," B'Elanna said simply.

Wildman audibly smacked the heel of her hand into the console she was leaning against, before storming over to the nearest replicator. She shoved the garment that she got from it into B'Elanna hands and returned to the central Sickbay consoles, then turned her back on B'Elanna.

The transporter beam caught her by surprise, considering she'd only just pulled her head through the clothes and that Wildman had only turned around for a second.


The Mess Hall was nearly deserted. The word had yet to spread, probably, that power had been restored and Neelix was cooking something that tasted marginally better than the rations. A week of eating supplies meant for stranded away teams and Neelix's cooking was more than welcome. At this point, Jenny Delaney would normally have inserted some relatively obnoxious remark about how wonderful it was that Tom Paris was no longer involved in food preparation.

But it wouldn't have been funny in the least.

Instead, she and Megan sat in silence in one of the few intact chair and table sets. It appeared that to the Maquis-or some cornered Starfleet crew-chair and table legs made excellent bludgeoning devices, once broken off. Jenny categorically refused to think about the scene that she might have found here during the Maquis mutiny, but she could tell by the way that Megan's eyes wandered aimlessly around the room that was exactly what Megan was doing.

Megan's arm was firmly folded around her side, where one of the Maquis had struck her with some nasty exploding device. It was long healed, by Samantha Wildman of all people. It could have been Ken Dalby who inflicted it in the first place, but Megan didn't remember and Jenny hadn't gotten there fast enough to see her attacker.

The decision Jenny had made next was the reason it was so wonderful to be alone is the Mess Hall, without the aggressive stares, hateful glances, and spiteful whispered remarks.

They weren't hiding from the rest of the crew, but it was nice to find refuge from them. Okay, maybe they were hiding, but it was really hard to get any work done with the knowledge that someone nearby seemed to be inclined to shove her down the nearest Jefferies Tube hatch. Here, Neelix didn't seem to know what had occurred, and didn't care to ask why her single pip was missing.

Because Captain Janeway had ripped it off.

Except for that, her sister's trauma so recent in her memory, and the demolished condition of the Mess Hall, it might have been a normal day having lunch-more like dinner, now-at a time when there wasn't much traffic.

Except that on a normal day they'd be bitching to each other about their days-specifically the Maquis and how much they hated them.

Now, the mere memory of those conversations induced chills. As did the encounters with Chakotay. Running into Torres-jeez, *mere* days before the mutiny.

It was frightening to think how unaware they'd been.

It was more frightening and disgusting to think about how unaware Captain Janeway had been.

And from the tone she'd used while berating Jenny and the others who had avoided the violence, it was clear that the Captain thought she bore no blame whatsoever.

Although unwilling to get herself in deeper trouble by informing the Captain that she was indeed culpable, she hadn't been able to keep from glaring at her during the demotion.

She hadn't been able to keep from crying, either.

At least Megan was considered to have been involuntarily removed from Voyager, and therefore hadn't been regarded a deserter.

Yes, having been bleeding heavily enough to lose consciousness, Megan hadn't been able to have an opinion on whether or not she wanted to stick around to see if they could be target practice for more Maquis who were in fact very skilled as it was.

Captain Janeway may have distinguished that they were two different people, but as far as the rest of the crew was concerned at the moment, they were one and the same and they were both traitors. The fact that Megan retained her single pip was of unimportance.

No matter what Janeway did to Jenny in the long run-and at worst it seemed to be limited to permanent confinement to the Brig or her quarters-she didn't and wouldn't regret launching in the escape pod.

Jenny could still feel her sister's blood flowing over her arms as it had when she'd held her in the escape pod.

As long as she only felt it as a memory and Megan sat beside her.

The door to the Mess Hall slid open, loud against the silence.

With her back to the door, Jenny had to judge from the expression on Megan's face. Her sister's eyes slid to the doorway, face tense.

Fleeing the ship and then to be found shirking the work would do well to piss off anyone who didn't already hate her.

Megan's face relaxed fractionally. Jenny glanced over her shoulder to see for herself.

The Mess Hall door slid shut behind Harry Kim. Harry was holding a bundled up blanket to his chest. He stopped only steps inside, probably as stunned by the damage as Jenny had been.

He started walking again, shifting the blanket he was holding, heading towards them. As he got closer, it became clear that there was small, sleeping, figure wrapped up in the blanket. Harry looked like he'd been asleep recently, too. The hair on the back of his head was pointing every which way.

On any other day, Jenny would have immediately started teasing him about it.

On this day she waited to see what he said first.

Megan spoke first, rising from her seat to greet him.

"Hi, Harry," she said softly, minding the tuft of red hair peeking out of the top of the blanket.

"Hi, Megan," he answered. Turning his head toward Jenny, in the first relatively kind voice she'd heard since returning to Voyager, "Hello, Jenny."

"I heard that one of you was injured by one of the Maquis."

He was positively the only person besides Sam Wildman to have expressed any interest or sympathy in Megan's injury.

"Yeah. But I'm fine now," Megan said brightly.

He smiled at her.

"Glad to hear it." He glanced back to Jenny.

She held her breath, not really pinning Harry as the type of person to say something like, "I heard you're a cowardly traitor," for example.

"Neelix is in the kitchen?" he asked.

It was a totally innocuous question but it made Jenny really happy.

"I think he went back to the storage area."


He moved on, heading towards the door to storage.


Pablo Bateheart was having a difficult time concentrating on the helm controls. It just felt indescribably different on the Bridge.

Not just because the first officer, among the other Maquis Bridge officers were gone.

Even the tone of the silence that dominated the Bridge had changed. Before it had been respectful and professional, with brief occasional friendly banter between stations. Now the silence was just chilly and cautious.

Cautious because making Captain Janeway's face turn any darker would definitely be a bad thing, if even possible.

So, distracted as he was, Pablo didn't let it affect his performance.

The change in the Bridge atmosphere, disturbing as it was, was significantly better than it had been when the Maquis had been on it last.

It had been mildly surprising to hear the acid exchange between the Captain and Chakotay; that kind of thinly veiled aggression was common between Maquis and Starfleet crew, but the rumor mill had Janeway and the first officer sleeping together.

The rumor mill was very wrong, for shortly after the exchange, Chakotay took it upon himself to shoot the Captain.

Pablo's recollection ended shortly after that, having been hit in the back by someone firing either at Chakotay and missing, or deliberately aiming at him. He'd woken in Sickbay, with many injured colleagues, among them Janeway herself and even Tuvok.

A good number of the Maquis, including Chakotay, had escaped in shuttles, apparently.

They had a good head start, but left easily traceable ion trails.

Janeway had made it unquestionably clear that the escaped Maquis would be captured, no matter what.

Pablo had his doubts about whether they'd be able to bring the Maquis back, even if they caught up to them.

It was while he was thinking what Janeway would probably consider heresy, that sensors reported they were approaching a vessel.

Janeway ordered a full stop and the vessel appeared on the view screen. After a tense pause, Janeway asked if the image was magnified.

It wasn't

In fact, Janeway had to have the image compressed, just so the whole ship would fit on the screen. Tuvok quietly ticked off the sensor readings.

Its capabilities certainly matched its size. Predictably, its maneuverability and speed were impeded by its size, and Pablo thought that if it proved to unfriendly some quick flying might save them. Still, he hoped the Maquis hadn't picked up any alien allies during their flight from Voyager.

He was too immersed in analyzing the helm data to notice who initiated the comm link, but suddenly it was open.

The Captain's typical introduction had already begun, as Pablo raised his head to look the view screen. The alien listening to Janeway was human-sized and gray, with a brown ridge where Pablo had a nose.

Janeway continued speaking. When he was bored and sure he wouldn't get caught-and now was certainly not the time-Pablo sometimes mouthed Janeway's introduction speech right along with her. He knew exactly what she was going to say.

She was doing it now, identifying herself and Voyager, assuring the as yet unidentified alien that they were peaceful explorers. Janeway did, however, have an unusually hard edge to her voice.

The alien spoke then, identifying himself as the rear quadrant defense minister of Pelora. He wanted to know their purpose in Peloran space.

What Janeway said next, Pablo couldn't have mouthed along. If one forgot the situation, it was truly bizarre.

Captain Janeway had been preaching tolerance, understanding, and unification with the Maquis since the beginning. After what had just happened it was predictable that her feelings might have changed, but it was still surreal to hear the words coming out of her mouth.

Janeway rose from her seat and stalked across the Bridge, stopping behind the helm chair and resting her hands on its back.

Pablo felt her grip his chair, rather tightly at that.

"We are pursuing several shuttle craft which escaped from Voyager a week ago."

She started drumming on the helm chair with her fingertips.

"They contain fugitive mutineers. They were a terrorist group we were forced to integrate into our crew and staged an unsuccessful violent attempt to overthrow my command. We believe them to extremely dangerous and wish to take them into custody for our own safety as well as the security of whomever they may encounter in the future."

The alien on the screen reacted to this information.

"Several shuttlecraft entered our space hours ago." The Minister seemed deeply perturbed. "How did this terrorist group identify themselves?"

"They're called the Maquis."

The Minister had definitely heard that word before.

"Minister, may I invite you to come on board Voyager, where we can more intimately discuss the situation?"

"There is nothing to discuss," replied the Minister. "One shuttle is already in custody for firing upon this ship. The occupant claimed to be unaffiliated with the others, but clearly was. We will return that shuttle to Voyager and the others will follow shortly."

"Let us assist you," Janeway said, steadily drumming her fingers near Pablo's neck.

"Unnecessary, Captain. This region was once full of conflict and the Peloran government is dedicated to preserving the current peace. We will not allow foreign conflict to enter our space for it could potentially escalate. I would not have allowed the shuttlecraft to enter, had I known. Once these Maquis are returned to Voyager we would ask that you detour around Peloran space."

Janeway was now tapping the heel of her head against Pablo's shoulder. The rhythm had altered slightly, and Janeway was oozing irritation, if well disguised.

"Thank you, Minister."

The comm channel blipped off, and the Bridge was left in the cold silence.

Janeway removed her hand from Pablo's shoulder, returning to her seat.

"Now," she said softly. "We wait."


Naomi was stirring in Harry's arms, not quite awake but no longer completely asleep. Tom had told him that Naomi was a notoriously light sleeper, but exhaustion seemed to be keeping the little girl down. She'd stayed asleep for four whole hours, and shamefully, so had he. It had been completely accidental. He'd been sitting in the dark, trying to think of ways to turn Naomi's incriminating statement about her mother into something innocent. He'd failed, miserably so. And then suddenly he'd been opening his eyes and cringing at the extremely painful crick that had developed in his neck.

When he checked the chronometer, shockingly nearly four hours had passed. Naomi had still been asleep, but he hadn't been willing to stay seated and concoct further virtually baseless suspicions about Samantha Wildman. He knew Neelix had been on shore leave with the Wildmans. Harry was sure that Neelix could disperse his paranoia.

Or, alternatively, confirm it.

Naomi had barely moved when he slid the blanket beneath her and wrapped it around her. He thought she might wake up when he lifted her, but she only snuggled tighter into his hold. Even the bright lights in the corridor didn't bother her, nor the hum of the Turbo Lift.

She'd started to wiggle while he was talking to the Delaney twins, and he'd had to cut the conversation short. He was almost glad, not feeling that comfortable around the twins.

It was all over the ship what had happened. One of the twins had been injured during the mutiny and the other had taken her sister and fled Voyager in an escape pod.

From their nervous faces and uneasy voices it was plain to see that they had been taking much abuse from the rest of the crew, in addition to whatever punishment Janeway had handed down.

Harry was careful not to add to it. It was very easy to understand panicking under those circumstances. He'd been panicking, too, but had had the sturdy and logical presence of Tuvok to remind him to stay sane. If he'd been Jenny and seen a relative, an identical twin -someone with his own face-injured, he was sure he would have seen the appeal of leaving the ship.

Terror in the face of the mutiny he could understand. Prior knowledge, the ability to warn Voyager and maybe even abort it, he could not.

Naomi continued to stir as he walked into the storage area where Jenny had directed him. Neelix rose from a place on the floor. Knowingly, he wordlessly took Naomi out of Harry's arms. He carried her further into the storage room, settling her onto a makeshift cot set on the floor.

He slid a partition shut, blocking off the area.

"She's really tuckered out, isn't she?"

"Yeah," Harry said. "She is."

"She's been waking up five times a night to see if her mother has come back."

"Sam's pretty busy in Sickbay. It might be a while."

"I know. She asked me to wait for her before answering any of Naomi's questions. That doesn't help Naomi, though."

"Sam's pretty upset with what happened. Especially with Ken Dalby's involvement."

"She has a lot to explain to Naomi," Neelix went on.

She has a lot to explain to everyone, Harry thought.

"When Ken Dalby and Lon Suder tried to kill Tom, she told Naomi that he had fallen down." Neelix smiled marginally. "I guess she'll have to do better than that.

Harry had completely forgotten about the attempt by the Maquis on Tom's life. After the attempt on the Captain's life, as well as on virtually every other Starfleet crew member's life, it had seemed pretty normal for what the Maquis had been doing. And since sometime during the mutiny Tom had simply disappeared-Harry chose to believe that his friend had made it to a shuttlecraft and safely escaped-he hadn't thought of it.

Now his only thought was if Sam had known about the attempt on Tom's life beforehand.

She could not have. She just could not have.

Harry become aware that his mouth was hanging open and he was standing there in stunned silence.

He recovered.

"How long was Sam in a relationship with Dalby, anyway?"

"She never really told anyone when it began, understandably. Only later was she more honest about where she was spending her free time. It was probably under a year."


A year. Sam had to have known what the Maquis were up to. How could you spend a year with someone and not know virtually their every move?

The partition Neelix had closed now creaked open. Naomi, hair tousled and face scrunched up, stepped through.

"Neelix." She was not very far from whining. "I'm hungry."

"I'll get you something, sweetie." Neelix turned to head back into the Mess Hall. "Would you like something, Harry?"

"Sure." He really wasn't that hungry, though. His appetite had steadily decreased, right along with his opinion of Naomi's mother.

Naomi and Harry took a seat at the table vacated by the Delaneys. Neelix headed to the kitchen. Harry sat across from Naomi and watched her petulant face.

"So, Naomi, did you have fun on shore leave?"

"No!" Naomi was emphatic.

"Why not?"

"It was raining. Everything was green. Mom was fighting with everybody. No one wanted to go back to Voyager and I did."

That was not quite the evidence against Samantha Wildman that Harry was looking for.

"And they were keeping secrets."

"What kind of secrets?"

"I don't know. They were secrets. Everyone was whispering so I wouldn't hear."

Naomi toyed with her fork.

"And I didn't get to say goodbye to Tom. Neelix said he left with the Maquis."

"Yeah, he did."

At the same time as the Maquis departure, anyway. *With* the Maquis was doubtful.

"I'm going to miss him," Naomi said softly.

"I am too, Naomi," Harry said. "I already do."


In the time since the smaller Peloran vessel had grasped Tom's shuttle in its tractor beam, he'd repaired the damaged helm controls. He'd picked up and disposed of the smashed remnants of what had been going to be his dinner. He'd replicated a new bowl of tomato soup, but after raising the spoon to his lips and experiencing one of the most painful sensations in the entire universe, he carefully set the bowl aside and picked up the regenerator he'd been using earlier.

He hadn't quite done an adequate repair job on the damage done to his face-particularly his mouth-by his sudden impact with the floor.

He was more careful and precise with the regenerator this time. Of course, he wasn't distracted currently with any thoughts of his imminent death, as he had been last time.

His soup was cold when he finished. He rose, picking up the bowl and returning to the replicator. The soup sloshed from side to side as he set it back in the slot.

That was expected, he'd been walking with it and stopped suddenly to put it down. It wasn't the motion of the liquid that made him stop and stand still, it was another feeling.

When he'd been in flight training, one of his instructors said to feel the motion of the ship. Other instructors thought that was ridiculous, because one didn't need to rely on a feeling because of all the helm instruments.

Tom didn't usually notice, but he definitely felt something.

On this instinct he returned to the helm and took in the sensor information.

The Peloran vessel towing him had just reversed course.

That move would definitely not get him through Peloran space faster, as the border Minister had clearly wanted him to go.

Tom wasn't ready to overreact just yet, although the thought of the Pelorans changing their plans all of a sudden was setting off alarms in his head.

We need to talk this out, Tom thought. He took a seat and hailed the Peloran vessel.

The alien that responded closely resembled the one at the border, although Tom instantly noticed a different demeanor that told him indignation and sarcasm was not the way to go with this one.

But there was nothing wrong with being direct and demanding to know where he was being taken.

"You've reversed course. Why?"

The alien stared at him scornfully.

"We have orders to return this shuttle," He paused, glancing downwards at some kind of reading. "To a ship called Voyager."


Was the first unintelligent sound Tom produced, and it was followed by several more disjointed syllables as Tom's brain went into overdrive so fast that his mouth couldn't follow.

He realized pretty quickly from the expression on the alien's face that he had better put himself back together and talk his way out of this.


Still one syllable, but actually coherent.

The ridge on the alien's face moved up an inch in what was probably a sneer.


In any culture in any quadrant in any part of the universe the expression on the alien's face was one of somebody in a position of power about to get considerable pleasure out of abusing someone in a lesser standing.

Tom knew that face. He knew that if he didn't take a deep breath and calm down he would not get anywhere.

Well, he might get back to Voyager.

His chest tightened at the mere thought.

"No," Tom said, calmly and deliberately. "At the border, the rear quadrant Defense Minister said that I would be escorted through Peloran space."

While speaking, Tom quietly checked the status of his weapons systems. His promise of obeying Peloran law and not firing any weapons was completely negated if they wanted to bring him back to Voyager.

"That is correct. Voyager is outside Peloran space. They will take custody of your shuttle once we escort you to the border."

The ridge moved again in what was definitely a smirk.

"Wait," Tom began.

"It is not negotiable."

The screen blinked dark, bringing back up the view of space and stars.

A stream of profanity raced through Tom's mind, aimed half at the Pelorans and half at Janeway. He ground his teeth together and resisted pounding his fist against the controls.

Then, before he had time to think twice and decide it was a really bad idea, Tom powered the shuttle's weapons, hitting the keys with a bit more force than was necessary.

It was a whole half-second before the Peloran vessel noticed, hailing him again.

The interior of the Peloran vessel again filled the view screen. Simultaneously, his sensors alerted him that although smaller than the gargantuan border guard ship, his escort had substantial weapons, all of which were now activated and aimed at him.

"It is forbidden to activate your shuttle's weapons in Peloran space."

It was not the threat of the Peloran ship that made Tom reach over and lower his weapons.

"Oops," he said sourly. "My mistake."

The rational side of Tom that wasn't blinded by fury had managed to convince him that trying to fight his way free in the middle of Peloran space was far more suicidal than doing it when he was closer to the border.

Closer to the border meant closer to Voyager, that he knew.

The nasty Peloran disappeared from the view screen, leaving Tom alone with his thoughts, which incredibly managed to get more profane.

Eventually, though, the sound of his pounding heart echoing in his ears drowned out his obscenity laced internal mantra on what he would rather have done to him than return to Voyager.

He couldn't sit still, getting to his feet and pacing the shuttle confines.

His heart was beating abnormally fast. His breathing was unusually rapid, too. His desire to kick something was overwhelming.

He was either having a panic attack of some sort or his brain was revolting and punishing his body for having to deal with the thought of returning to Voyager after everything he'd done to get off.

In keeping with his terrible luck, time started to fly. Seriously. Every time he looked at the chronometer-and since he couldn't stop checking it, that was quite frequently-an obscene amount of time had passed from when he last looked at it.

Tom sat down at the helm, finally. He rested his elbows on the surface, burying his head in his hands. He slowed his breathing, listening to his heart resume a normal rhythm. In the peaceful darkness of his palms, he came up with a relatively rational plan.

Rational because it probably wouldn't get him killed.

But there was now way he was willingly returning to Voyager. None whatsoever.

The peace he'd found by blocking out reality was abruptly destroyed when he raised his head.

He shuddered involuntary, staring out of the view screen at Voyager.


Harry left the Mess Hall, suspicions about Samantha Wildman not cooled but roaring. He didn't get far in corridor before three different crewmen stopped him to relay the latest news.

It seemed Janeway had just gotten a whole lot of help in her pursuit of the Maquis. The Maquis had entered the space of a technologically advanced race, who weren't very happy to learn that they had just allowed shuttles full of violent mutineers into their territory.

The Pelorans had stated their intention to remove the shuttles from their space, and return the Maquis to Voyager's custody.

It certainly sounded simple.

The Maquis, Harry was sure, would make it anything but.

Harry had a duty shift on the Bridge in five minutes, so it looked like he was going to have a front row seat to whatever happened.

He knew he was going to witness far more than the Maquis' peaceful surrender.

The Bridge was silent when he entered it from the Turbo Lift. Janeway was sitting in her chair, staring straight ahead. She didn't so much as glance at him as he made his way back to his station. He took over his position, noting the presence of a truly giant alien ship nearby.

So these were the Pelorans.

Actually, judging from the size and capabilities of that ship, the Maquis just might surrender.

Or fight back and end up getting destroyed.

Which would be an enormous shame. Because it would mean that the number of Maquis on Voyager would not double, that their leader would not return for them to unite behind, and that Voyager would not find itself in the exact same position as when they first appeared in the Delta Quadrant.

There was nothing wrong, in Harry's opinion, with having fewer Maquis.

It was fine with him if the Maquis got themselves destroyed while the Pelorans were trying to capture them.

But his thoughts were only thoughts, for moments later Tuvok reported the approach of another, smaller Peloran vessel, towing one of Voyager's shuttles by a tractor beam.

Janeway rose from her seat. Although she had her back to him, Harry could read the triumph in her movements.

"On screen."

The smaller Peloran vessel crossed the coordinate line labeled as the Peloran Border. It dropped to impulse, staying close to the border.

"We're being hailed," Harry said to the Captain. "Audio only"

"Open a channel."

"Voyager, we have retrieved one of the shuttlecraft," the Peloran voice spoke. "Once you have taken custody, we will join the other ships in the retrieval of the other shuttlecraft.

"Thank you for your assistance," Captain Janeway began.

"We would recommend caution with this shuttlecraft," the voice interrupted. "The pilot was displeased with being returned."

"As expected."

The channel closed, and Janeway turned halfway around. There was a distinctive smirk plastered across her features.

"Tractor beam, if you would, Mr. Kim."

Harry did. He watched the beam extend to surround the shuttle, distinguishable from the Peloran tractor beam by its color.

There was absolutely no reason for the two tractor beams to have any reaction to each other

So there definitely shouldn't have been a miniature explosion, followed immediately by the retraction of both ships' tractor beams.

But there was. And suddenly the shuttle was free. The Peloran ship was reversing course and returning to Peloran space.

Before Janeway asked, but because he knew she would, Harry tried to reestablish the tractor hold.

He couldn't.

The shuttle was deftly maneuvering itself. Whoever was the pilot knew what he was doing.

At the helm, Bateheart agreed, muttering to himself, "Who the hell is flying that?"

"Take out its engines," Janeway ordered, brow hunched.

"Firing," responded Tuvok.

The shuttle pilot was quick, but not quick enough to avoid getting hit.

Quick enough to reposition the shuttle so that the damage occurred elsewhere, keeping the engines online, however, as Tuvok reported moments later.

Janeway's head snapped back furiously. At her command, Tuvok fired again.

A small explosion rose from the shuttle. It went dead in space.

Janeway dropped into her seat.

"Tractor beam."

This time, the tractor beam smoothly engulfed the shuttle, drawing it quickly towards the Shuttle Bay hatch.

"Tuvok," Janeway directed, needlessly since he was already halfway across the Bridge.

Tuvok disappeared into the Turbo Lift, calling for a security team to report to the Shuttle Bay 1.

Ten minutes after he left, Tuvok commed the Bridge.

"There is only one occupant, Captain."

"Who?" It very clear who she wanted it to be. But it wasn't Chakotay, and Harry was not expecting what Tuvok said next.

"Tom Paris. And he requires medical attention."


"What the hell are they doing?"

Henley's tense voice cut through the silence. None of the other Maquis were speaking, too entranced by the sight of several Peloran vessels through the view screen.

"Boxing us in." Chakotay heard Dalby say. There was strain in Dalby's voice, too.

"How many are there?" He asked, not really wanting to know the answer.

"Six," Dalby said.

Those weren't impossible odds.

"And I'm reading another fleet of six on their way."

Chakotay heard more than one person exhale a soft expletive.

He felt the eyes of his Maquis on him, but it was Dalby who spoke first.

"Sir," he began questioningly.

"Hail them."

"Which one?"

"Whichever one answers."

They didn't get a response until they were completely surrounded by all twelve ships. By that time, everyone was jittery. Dalby couldn't stop combing his hand through his hair. Henley looked like she wanted to start pacing again.

From another shuttle, Jarvin had already expressed his desire to shoot something.

Chakotay told him-told everyone-very clearly that there would be no shooting.

The Peloran who answered the hail was similar in appearance to the one at the border. It was immediately apparent that this one was significantly less easily persuaded. Probably some kind of military commander, if one was thinking tactically.

He could tell it wouldn't work just by the look in the alien's eyes, but Chakotay tried anyway.

In a smooth, competent tone-the one that was wonderful for explaining to border guards at the Demilitarized Zone that he was certainly not smuggling weapons to anybody and how dare they accuse him of such a thing-he began to speak.

"You have taken unmistakable hostile actions against us. We have been granted safe passage through Peloran space by..."

"Rear quadrant defense minister," Henley quietly supplied.

"By the rear quadrant defense minister," Chakotay repeated after her.

"Permission has been withdrawn," the alien said curtly. "Terrorist groups of any culture are not welcome. Your shuttlecraft will accompany us back to the border or we will disable your engines and tow you back."

"Who," Chakotay countered, "judged us a terrorist group?"

A Maquis in the back could be heard muttering, "Bitch!", but Chakotay ignored him.

"This is not negotiable. Will you return willingly or must we disable your shuttles?"

Pausing, Chakotay let his eyes roam around the shuttlecraft. There was not a single willing face there, nor were there any on the other shuttles, he knew.

But there was also not a single suicidal face among them, either.

"Willingly," he said, letting all pretense drop from his voice. "Although we must protest your involvement in something that does not concern you."

"We became involved once you entered our space. Once you have departed Peloran territory, we will no longer be involved."

The view screen went back to a view of the exterior of one of the vessels.

"We're being held in tractor beam. All of us," Dalby said softly.

"I hope you have a plan," sighed Henley.

She jolted from her seat and started pacing again.

This time, Chakotay didn't stop her.


The Brig guards were whispering to each other. And whatever they were talking about seemed to be good news.

To them, anyhow.

Try as she might, B'Elanna couldn't hear a damn thing. Discreetly listening from the center of her cell, she heard only murmurs. Pressed up against the force field, rather blatantly, she heard nothing but the fizz of her body against it.

Even if she had been able to hear anything, the two Brig guards immediately stopped talking to each other and told her to step back.

She did-not without a parting obscene gesture-returning to the rear of the cell. Ayala inched over to give her room on the bench without being asked. Probably because the last time that he hadn't moved she'd knocked him onto the floor.

"What are they talking about?"

"I don't know," she snapped, keeping her voice hushed.

"They look happy."

"I know."

"That's not good."

"I know that, too."

"They could have news about Chakotay and the others," Ayala said after a moment.

She knew instantly what he was imagining.

"If Chakotay had been captured or anything of the sort, they'd tell us."


"So they could gloat," she told him. "Break our spirits by catching our leader."

"I guess so," Ayala replied, not particularly believing her.

"Chakotay's not going to do anything to get captured," B'Elanna reassured him. "If he's coming back to Voyager it's on his own terms."

Ayala nodded.

"We might be able to help him somehow," she continued, lowering her voice even more. She didn't care if the guards heard them wondering about the conversation, but they couldn't hear them conspiring.

"Yeah?" Ayala snorted, loudly. "From in here? How?"

"Shut up," B'Elanna hissed, glancing over at the Brig guards.

"Okay," Ayala said, considerably softer. "How? Everyone's in the Brig."

"Samantha Wildman isn't."

"She's not on our side anymore, B'Elanna. She only was because she thought we'd win."

"I know. But she was on our side once, and I think she'd do a lot to keep Janeway from knowing that."

"When I was in Sickbay for the cut on my back, she had me restrained to the bio-bed," Ayala insisted. "She was very clear, she hates us. And Janeway wouldn't believe anything we said about her."

"I think I upset her," B'Elanna mused at the first piece of information. "Look, it doesn't matter whether or not Janeway would jump out an airlock before believing us, Wildman thinks she'd believe us. If we could get access to a terminal in Sickbay, we could do something."

"One of us has to be in Sickbay for that," Ayala pointed out.

"Yes. Someone has to get injured again. And then that someone has to intimidate Wildman into letting them get on the computer."

"Without making her mad like you did."


"The new command codes would be useful," Ayala said thoughfully.

B'Elanna nodded, already planning.


Tom gradually became aware of a figure in a Starfleet uniform moving around in his peripheral vision. He felt a little woozy, but it was already fading. Damn Tuvok and his nerve pinch.

The mental stream of profanity that had begun on his shuttle started up again. How badly he had wished never to see anyone wearing one of those again.

With his eyes in slits, he couldn't tell where he was. Back on Voyager, that was for sure. But not in the Brig, that was a surprise. And if he wasn't in the Brig, then maybe he wouldn't be on Voyager for much longer. The Starfleet uniform walked closer to him. From the position on his back, he couldn't see above the person's abdomen. He was completely still, eyes nearly shut. When the uniform was within arm's length, he struck.

Tom wrapped one hand around the person's throat, getting a fist full of their uniform with the other and forcefully yanking downwards. His grip on the person's throat was tight enough to cut off breathing, which would hopefully cause the person to pass out, allowing him to try and get off Voyager again. Or at least out of this room.

He completely surprised his guard, if that's who it was. The person lay heavily against him, to stunned to struggle, gasping and gagging for air against the pressure of his hand.

It was a woman-which Tom felt slightly guilty about-her hair was falling in his face. His tossed his head to clear her hair from his view.

He was holding Samantha Wildman by the neck.


Tom released her. She stumbled backward, coughing and gasping, face bright red. She lurched to her knees on the floor, where she stayed, taking deep ragged breaths.

Tom sat up, noticing for the first time that he was on a bio-bed in Sickbay. He looked around.

There was no EMH.

There were a few unconscious or sedated patients.

On the floor was Naomi's mother, who had he just tried to choke. Sam was breathing a little easily, wiping her watering eyes. Tom felt horrible. He climbed off the bio-bed and took a step towards her.

Sam flinched like she'd been struck when he approached. Tom stopped dead and backed up, raising his hands to show he wasn't going to hurt her. Hadn't meant to hurt her in the first place.

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry." He wiped the guilty sweat off his forehead. "I didn't mean-I meant-I thought you were Tuvok or someone."

Which was a very weak excuse for trying to crush her windpipe.

"Are you okay?" he asked, staying where he was. "Should I activate the EMH? Is he fixed?"

Sam struggled to her feet, one hand rubbing her neck tenderly. She stayed, Tom noticed, the same distance from him.

"Fixed?" she asked, hoarsely.

"Yeah. From what Torres did to him."

A look of fury that appeared to have nothing to do with recently having been choked came across Sam's face.

"Torres," she snarled. "What she'd do?"

"I don't know. She cycled the power and when it came back on the Doc was gone and I couldn't get him back."

"This was during the mutiny," Sam clarified, her back to him as she headed towards a Sickbay console.

"Yeah. You and Naomi were on shore leave, right?"


Sam retrieved a medical tricorder from an equipment tray. She arched her neck and held the tricorder out in front of herself, running it up and down over her throat.

Guilt hit Tom again, but he kept his distance. He knew he wouldn't want someone who just been squeezing his throat to get particularly close to him.

Case and point: Lon Suder.

"I'm so sorry," Tom repeated earnestly. "Are you okay?"

Sam lowered the tricorder to examine its readings.

"Just a little tissue damage," she told him. "You scared me more than it hurt."

"I'm sorry," he said again. "I thought you were Tuvok. Or someone from Security."

Like he would have been able to get the drop on Tuvok, Tom chided himself.

"Tuvok said you resisted being taken into custody."

Tom snorted, his guilt over grabbing Sam's throat fading for his anger.

"Yeah, I resisted. Then he pinched me and I blacked out."

"And then you fell onto the butt of your phaser rifle and broke your collar bone," Sam added.

Tom touched his chest.

"I don't remember that," He said, thinking hard. "That's why I'm here and not in the Brig?"

"No," Sam said. "That's not the reason."


Sam decided that talking anymore was not in the best interest of her throat. It had been hoarse and scratchy after all that screaming she'd done. Now it just hurt.

Tom Paris was significantly stronger than he looked. Of all the people she had pegged to assault her, he hadn't even made the list. He wasn't a Maquis, though, nor was he female and half-Klingon. It was clear he hadn't meant to attack her personally, from the stricken look that had been on his face when he realized what he was doing. Well, not what he was doing but to who.

And then he had let go and practically shoved her away and apologized profusely, still looking stricken and guilty.

The guilt subsided for anger when she brought up Tuvok's name. He apparently only remembered being subdued by Tuvok, not falling chest first on to the butt of the phaser rifle and cracking his collar bone.

"That's why I'm here," he asked from somewhere behind her, "And not in the Brig?"

"No. That's not the reason."

Sam felt a tickle begin in her sore throat even before she finished speaking. She coughed to ease it out, but it only got worse. And coughing hurt. And yet she continued coughing, harder than before. At some point she dropped the tricorder and fell against the nearest console, coughing so forcefully that her shoulders shook.

Her eyes watered, blurring her vision. It cleared to reveal Tom's bewildered and alarmed face opposite hers.

Her voice sounded like a malfunctioning mechanical instrument, screeching and inordinately high, as in between the wracking coughs she directed Tom to find a regenerator.

Tom went scavenging for the regenerator, completely destroying Sickbay as he tossed instruments aside. Sam leaned against the console, concentrating on controlling her breathing around hacking and not on how badly her throat hurt. Tom came rushing back to her, regenerator in hand.

It was then that she realized she needed a deep tissue regenerator. Tom flung the normal regenerator he was holding aside and went hunting for the other kind.

She took the correct regenerator from him and angled it against her throat. She immediately felt the smooth relief against the itchy painful tissue. Tom sank to a seat on the bio-bed where the damage had been inflicted in the first place.

"I'm sorry," he muttered again.

Sam made a forgiving sound, but didn't speak.

"This is all the Pelorans' fault," he continued, angrily.

The Pelorans. Tuvok had mentioned them as the race that had returned Tom Paris and were in the process of returning the other escaped shuttles. She'd been so occupied with having no noticeable reaction to the news that she hadn't really understood it.

"In the long run, it's Janeway's. But she's done enough to ruin my life that there's enough blame to go around."

He scowled.

"Do you know if the Pelorans are bringing back the other shuttles?"

Sam nodded, moving the regenerator over an inch.

"Great," Tom said sarcastically. "And Janeway thinks she's going to punish them?"

Sam nodded again.

"She's not. It's going to happen again. And they might win this time," he looked straight at her.

"You and Naomi were lucky to know about the mutiny. For obvious reasons, I don't like Dalby much, but he arranged to get you and Naomi off the ship and for that he's not totally despicable." Sam felt her mouth drop open. Did anyone *not* know that she'd been aware of the mutiny? It had been an unspoken reality between herself and Ken, but suddenly Torres and in all likely hood all the Maquis and Tom Paris knew.

She cleared her throat. "I didn't know about what Chakotay had him and Suder try to do to you, I swear."

She hadn't been. But she couldn't say what she would have done had she known.

"I believe you. So believe me. When the Maquis are brought back, spend a lot of time hiding in your quarters. They're going to try again," Tom finished, deadly serious.

Sam nodded, nervously beginning another path with the regenerator. "Okay," she began. "Tuvok said that you aren't going to the Brig. I don't know why. You're going to be confined to quarters, but they've been modified while you were sleeping. I don't know how. The Brig might be full," she offered.

Tom considered this. "They think putting me in the Brig would get me killed."

Sam shrugged.

"Not that Janeway's ever been concerned about that in the past," he said dryly.

Sam winced, knowing it was true.

"Any chance that phaser rifle I fell on is anywhere around?"


"Too bad," he sighed. "You might want to get yourself one just in case."

The doors to Sickbay slid apart then, causing her to drop the regenerator and making Tom stiffen.

Tuvok, flanked by two other Security men, entered.

"Hi, Tuvok," greeted Tom in an obnoxiously sweet voice.

Tuvok spared him a glance, turning to Sam.

"Is the treatment complete, Ensign?"

"Yes, sir," she answered trying to keep the fear Tom had just instilled out of her reply.

Tuvok was looking at her neck.

Of course. The deep tissue regenerator worked on what it was named for-deep tissue. Any bruised or marks or handprints would still be visible on her throat. And of course Tuvok would notice.

"Ensign, what happened to your neck?"

"One of the sedated patients woke up disoriented," she said smoothly. "Grabbed me and made a little mess."

She indicated the strewn instruments Tom had created while looking for the right regenerator.

Tuvok quirked an eyebrow.

"I'm fine," she said.

"May I recommend you restrain this patient?"

"Already done, Sir," she lied.

Tuvok nodded.

"Mr. Paris, you will accompany us." Tom slid of the bio-bed.

"With pleasure," he said insolently.

The two guards moved to either side of him.

"Bye," Tom called as he was escorted out the door. "Say hi to Naomi for me."


After the Security team left with Tom, Sam retrieved the deep tissue regenerator from the floor and finished healing her scratchy and swollen throat.

She began the mindless activity of picking up the scattered instruments from the floor and putting them back where they belonged. Sam deliberately didn't think of anything other than the proper placement of all the instruments.

She wouldn't think about Tom's warnings and the likely possibility that despite everything she'd done to protect herself and Naomi, they'd still be caught up in a violent conflict. Not while she still had to function and the lives of the few remaining critical patients still depended on her not being neurotically afraid and incompetent.

Her arms were still full of the misplaced instruments when the doors to Sickbay slid apart. Harry Kim walked inside, face expectant.

"Hi, Harry."

"Hey, Sam." There was an odd tone to his voice. "I was told Tom was taken here?"

"He was," she said. "Tuvok and a Security team took him back to his quarters."


Harry started to backtrack out the door.

"Wait," she called.

He stepped back inside and the doors slid shut behind him. There was a definitely a strange look on his face that she couldn't place.

"How's your leg?"

"Fine." His voice was cold.

"Did you get some sleep?"


He was giving icy one-word answers. She knew that she probably should stop pressing then and there.

"Where's Naomi?"

"With Neelix."

The strange expression on Harry's face matched the way he was looking at her. She didn't like either of them. Sam looked away, taking one of the instruments in her arms and setting it carefully in its place on the tray. She suddenly wanted him to leave very badly.

"You'll probably have to ask Tuvok or the Captain for permission to visit-"

"Naomi said she didn't like shore leave very much," Harry interrupted sharply.

"No," Sam said evenly, although she now had a very painful idea of where this conversation was headed. "It rained. She was bored."

Sam set another instrument down. "Though I rather she was miserable in the rain than on Voyager then."

"That's understandable," Harry said slowly. Without so much as raising his voice, he continued. "What I don't understand is how you could betray Voyager."

Sam felt herself become cold, like there was ice traveling through her bloodstream.


It might have been close to the right amount of indignation and bewilderment, if she hadn't heard the admission in her own voice.

"You knew what the Maquis were going to do all along and you didn't tell anyone," Harry continued flatly and accusingly.

"That's not true."

She was having trouble holding on to her armful of medical instruments. She was having trouble standing upright. It was upsetting and alarming when Torres and Tom Paris knew about her, but Harry was...Harry and he wore a Starfleet uniform with pride and served an unqualified Captain with misguided loyalty.

"Do you know how many people you could saved just by telling someone?" Harry's voice rose a fraction.

"I couldn't have saved *anyone*," Sam spat back. "The only thing I could have done was make it start sooner."

She had just admitted to treason, acknowledged the small part of her mind that was still concerned with protecting herself from Janeway's wrath.

"You could have told someone!" Harry cried. "It could have been stopped before it started. Before people died."

"It couldn't have been stopped," Sam said. "I saw that."

"You saw an opportunity to save yourself," Harry said bitterly.

"I saw the opportunity to protect my daughter."

Harry glared with disbelief.

"I was protecting Naomi," Sam repeated. "Because no one else would."

"You can believe that. It doesn't make you any less of a traitor."

Harry turned on his heel and headed for the door.

Almost shamefully, but because she had to know, Sam called after him, "Are you going to tell Janeway?"


The doors slid shut behind him.

Sam let the instruments clatter to the floor as she crossed Sickbay.

It was no longer a matter of keeping her secret from Janeway. It was a matter of not being there when Harry told on her.


It was really amazing that despite having been searched and scanned multiple times, one of the Maquis in B'Elanna's cell immediately produced a sharp blade upon the request for suggestions on how to inflict some minor injury requiring a trip to Sickbay.

Staying perfectly still while Ayala prepared to slash a shallow gash into her arm was the only real challenge. The cut was supposed to bleed enough to alarm the Brig guards, while causing minimal pain and not impairing her movement. The urge to defend herself was very hard to suppress. Still, she extended her arm and rolled up her sleeve. The other Maquis in the cell took the cue to start moving around the cell confines. Crouched in the back, with the others moving in front of them, they were completely obscured from the view of the Brig guards.

Ayala drew back his arm, the blade positioned above her arm where there were enough small veins near the surface of skin to bleed like a much deeper cut would.


The Maquis who had been blocking O'Donnell's view moved reluctantly to the sides of the cell. Ayala surreptitiously dropped his arm and the blade behind his back. B'Elanna rose, forcing a look of innocence on to her face.


"Wildman wants you in Sickbay."

This was an interesting. And exactly what she wanted, but without being stabbed in the process.

"Okay." Not that he was asking her permission.

Ayala slipped the blade in her hand and B'Elanna tucked it into her waistband only moments before she felt the tingling transporter beam envelop her.

The normal disorientation that accompanied transporting was broken by the sharp blasting sound of an alarm. B'Elanna turned her head towards the deafening noise.

Wildman was straddling Gerron's prone body, a medical instrument in hand. The alarm was coming from a nearby monitor. Wildman whipped her head around, face desperate.

"Torres, I know you got rid of the EMH. I need him back, now!"

She didn't even have a chance to deny it.

"Listen to me," Wildman yelled. "Gerron is having multiple aortic seizures. I don't know how to fix that."

B'Elanna still hadn't moved, frozen in place.

"Without the EMH," Wildman continued. "He's going to die."

That simple three-letter word got B'Elanna moving. She climbed onto the bio-bed under the Jefferies Tube opening. She forced open the hatch and started to pull herself through. Right before her head passed through the hatch, she heard another alarm explode into sound below her.

She crawled through the Jefferies Tube, her mind flashing back to the last time she'd been here. The Jefferies Tube had been much more difficult to navigate when it wouldn't stop spinning. B'Elanna could crawl much faster now, and could only hope that Gerron could hold on long enough for her to undo what she had done to the EMH.

She found the panel over the controls. She'd ripped it off without a lot of care the last time, and apparently broken the closing device in the process, although she didn't remember doing it. Some idiot-some Starfleet idiot-had fixed it. Very quickly and without much intelligence.

It looked like it had been welded shut, but only along the top and half of one of the sides.

Badly done and stupid.

B'Elanna stuck her fingers inside the edge that wasn't welded down, grasped the panel and pried upwards as hard as she could.

The panel came loose, colliding with ceiling with an echoing clang.

B'Elanna reached inside, fingers frantically flying over the controls.

It was miracle the moron who had repaired the panel hadn't messed with the components inside.

But they hadn't, so seconds later B'Elanna was able to retrieve the EMH from his storage spot in the system code for the medical lesson on alien physiology.

She crawled back to the hatch and peered down.

The EMH was standing by Wildman, looking at the monitors.

The EMH could save Gerron. And B'Elanna had suddenly been given free access to the ship. She backed away from the hatch, crawling toward the Jefferies Tube that connected to the ladder to the next deck.

This was a hell of a lot better than intimidating Wildman into giving her limited access to the computer.

This was freedom.

Below the Jefferies Tube that B'Elanna was crawling through, stood the EMH and Ensign Samantha Wildman.

"Please state the nature of the medical emergency." Came out of the Doctor's mouth as he was activated.

"Hi, Doc," Ensign Wildman said. "It's good to have you back."

She reached over to the two monitors that were loudly warning of cardiac arrest and imminent brain death, and quietly turned them off.

"All this," she said humorlessly, "is now yours."

With out another word, she turned away, walked to the door and exited, ignoring the fact that he was calling her name.

"Ensign Wildman!"

The doors slid shut behind her, leaving the Doctor standing stunned besides a patient who was definitely not about to enter cardiac arrest or brain death and was apparently only sedated.

He stood in the same place as he'd been activated in.

"Who won?" he asked.


Harry almost knocked over the crewman he banged into in the corridor outside Sickbay. The crewman stumbled backwards with an annoyed cry.

"Hey," he began, with irritation.

Then the crewman caught sight of Harry's face, abruptly dropping his complaint and giving Harry a wide berth as he continued through the corridor.

That encounter told Harry something about the expression he wore after the confrontation with Samantha Wildman.

The unplanned confrontation.

All he had intended to do was see if Tom was still in Sickbay, suspecting that Janeway would be less than understanding about allowing a visit elsewhere. Tom was already gone-oddly confined to his quarters, not the Brig-and Harry should have just left.

Instead, he'd stayed, allowing Sam to chatter on. Everything she had said had been harmless enough, but coming on top of what he knew about her, it just built the rage he already felt until he couldn't keep quiet.

It was clear she'd been expecting the accusation, though probably not from him. Her denials were weak, as was her reason.

Naomi was completely innocent in this, even if her mother chose to make her an excuse.

Harry found the Turbo Lift, directing it to Tom's deck.

It was a short ride, but in the small amount time that it took, Harry managed to calm down and hopefully remove the expression on his face that had frightened the crewman.

The corridor leading to Tom's quarters was deserted.

If you didn't count the man leaning against the wall right outside Tom's quarters-clearly from Security and clearly very bored.

Harry walked up the man, who quickly straightened and pretended that he hadn't just been slouching against the wall.

"Ensign Kim," he greeted.

"Hi," Harry said. "Paris is back?" He tried to make his voice curious, but not overly so.


"Um, Wildman sent me from Sickbay to check on him. Said he got hurt while being taken into custody, or something?"

Lying never was Harry's strong suit. Especially impulsive lies he'd had no intention of telling thirty seconds ago.

And apparently detecting lies was not among the Security guard's best skills, for he turned around and started entering the proper security clearance into the door's keypad.

"I thought he'd already been to Sickbay?" the guard asked, not pausing on the keypad.

"Follow-up," Harry explained smoothly.

"The Captain is supposed to be coming down to talk to him in an hour or so," the guard said as he finished the keypad's sequence.

The keypad released an electronic chirp and the doors to Tom's quarters slid apart.

The guard started to walk inside, but Harry stopped him.

"You don't need to supervise. He's not going to hurt me." When the guard didn't look persuaded, Harry added, "And he's not going anywhere."

The guard peered into the darkened entrance room, suspiciously.

"Just let me get the lights."

He called for the lights and the darkness gave way. The lights brought to view a totally ransacked room, in the midst of which was Tom, sitting frozen on the couch as it rocked back into an upright position.

He stared at the door, eyes taking note of Harry's presence without his face reacting.

"What the hell were you doing?" Demanded the Security guard, hand moving to the phaser on his belt.

"Um." Tom wiped off sweat of his forehead. "Um, trying to throw the couch at you?" he offered.

"Whatever you're doing, stop it!" ordered the guard. Softer, to Harry, "Are you sure you don't want some company?"

"It'll be fine," Harry reassured him.

The guard stepped outside and the doors slid shut behind him. Harry barely had time to turn around from watching him leave before being caught up in tight bear hug, as Tom grabbed hold of him.


The word had finally gotten out that the kitchen was in working order and there was the choice of eating something other than the inedible rations. The crew started flocking to the Mess Hall. Despite the fact that there were very few intact chairs or tables remaining, Neelix suddenly found himself as busy as he ever was during the dinner hour rush, back before the Mess Hall had served as a battlefield.

The lack of furniture didn't seem to bother the crew. The first arrivals claimed the remaining intact tables and chairs, and the rest got their meals and then camped out in clusters on the floor.

If one looked at the groups and ignored the scattered pieces of broken furniture pushed to the side, it almost looked normal.

Neelix barely had time to look though, so busy was he with keeping an eye on the stoves, making sure Naomi didn't touch anything hot, and then with dishing out the food to the very long line of hungry crew.

The normalcy he felt in serving up the meal was in strong contrast to the people he was serving it to.

There was stress in the faces of everyone in the serving line. Some more than others, but everyone looked afflicted. Most looked drawn and tired. More than a few seemed to have recently emerged from a fist fight, many with a few ugly bruises and others with still fresh scabs.

These were the mutiny victims who hadn't had severe enough injuries to stick around Sickbay or even go there in the first place. Neelix found the regenerator he kept in kitchen for when he inevitably burned himself and stuck it along side the Leola Root Stew on the tray of a customer who looked like he might have trouble chewing due to the massive fist-shaped bruise on the lower part of his face. He was pleased to later see it being passed around the room.

From further back in the kitchen where she'd been playing quietly on the floor, Naomi got to her feet and walked up to him.

"They have bruises," she said, eyebrows knitted. "Did they fall down?"

"They might have," Neelix replied carefully.

"The Maquis hurt them," Naomi said solemnly.

She turned around and returned to her seat on the floor.

Neelix sighed, thinking that Sam's instructions to wait for her before telling Naomi anything wasn't the best idea.

From what he could hear of the conversations drifting in the air, a few had to do with the injuries sustained from the mutiny, or what injuries they had managed to inflict during it. But more people were talking about things that had nothing to do with violent event. He heard some relishing their meal, which considering the quality of the rations was not a surprise but pleasing anyway.

After an hour, the rate of new arrivals finally dwindled and people started returning their empty dishes.

As another one came to turn in his tray, the Mess Hall doors parted and Sam Wildman entered, walking quickly. She approached the counter.

"Hi, Neelix. Where's Naomi?" she asked urgently.

He didn't have to answer for Naomi heard her mother and came running.


Naomi clambered into Sam's arms, wrapping her arms around her mother's neck.

Sam adjusted the child into a more comfortable position. She took one arm off Naomi and reached out to Neelix. She grasped his hand and held it tightly.

"Goodbye, Neelix." She squeezed his hand. "Thanks for everything."

She let go and withdrew her arm, wrapping it around Naomi.

Neelix watched her leave, a little confused about the finality in her farewell.

Maybe forty-five minutes after Sam left with Naomi, the crew really started to clear out. In the midst of the all the exits, there was one new arrival.

He made his way up to the serving line.

"I'm supposed to be on duty," the crewman confided to O'Donnell, who was returning his tray. "I'm supposed to be monitoring Paris' quarters. Ensign Kim is covering for me."

"I took off from Brig duty," replied O'Donnell.

Neelix handed a plate to the crewman.

"Paris was destroying his quarters looking for all the little toys Tuvok removed when we searched them," he told O'Donnell. "The Maquis causing trouble?"

"Well, they keep requiring medical attention," O'Donnell sneered.

Then he froze.

"Oh, hell," he swore. "I forgot."

O'Donnell tapped his comm badge.

"O'Donnell to Sickbay."

"Sickbay," answered an irritated male voice. The EMH.

"Doctor, is B'Elanna Torres in Sickbay?" There was worry creeping into O'Donnell's voice.

"No. She's not," the Doctor replied. "While I have you on the line, Crewman, I'd like to know-"

O'Donnell cut him off, reaching for his comm badge again.

"O'Donnell to Brig." There was more worry in his voice now.


"Has Torres been returned?"

"Not yet."

O'Donnell closed the comm line and opened a new one.

"O'Donnell to Tuvok." That was panic.

"Tuvok here."

"Sir, we have a Security Alert." O'Donnell sighed loudly. "B'Elanna Torres is loose."


Carefully climbing the ladder bridging to the next deck, B'Elanna Torres had to decide what she could do during her temporary freedom. She could possibly help the Maquis in the Brig. If she managed to get them free too, together they could do some damage. But it was all too likely that very soon the idiot Brig guards would notice her absence if not told even sooner by Wildman, issue a Security Alert, and then the first thought would definitely be that she would be trying to free the Brig prisoners.

So she decided instead to make Chakotay's and the other escaped Maquis' job a little easier. In the end, that would help all the Maquis on and off Voyager.

It took an agonizingly long time for B'Elanna to reach the deck she wanted to be on. It would have taken under two minutes in a Turbo Lift, but she couldn't risk it. She put up with the burn that developed in her shoulders rather than slow her speed and take even longer.

She heard movements and voices at the workstation below her.

This section was staffed, although not by many. And they certainly wouldn't be expecting her.

B'Elanna crawled further into the Jefferies Tube, until she heard nothing below her. Ever so carefully, she silently pried open the hatch.

She let her legs drop through, wishing that she hadn't changed her uniform. In her old uniform, if the crew didn't see her face and only saw the ordinary engineering uniform coming through the ceiling they would assume she was part of a repair team and pay no attention until it was too late.

As it was, she was incredibly conspicuous. Almost no one walked around in civilian clothes, especially into areas like the one she was about to drop into.

She couldn't do anything about it now.

B'Elanna let go of the hatch and dropped down onto the floor. Before she even landed, B'Elanna was looking sharply around the room for any occupants.

There was no one. Around the corner, she could hear voices and computer noises, but no one walking into the deserted section where she was now.

She still didn't have any time to waste.

B'Elanna raced over to appropriate console and went to work.

She could do what needed to be done from here, but once they figured out what had happened, it could easily be reversed from the very same console.

She could make sure that the job was done and that anyone who wanted to repair it would have to manually fix what she was going to manually break.

It helped that she could do the necessary damage safely out of sight. Safely wasn't the word. Should the system be activated while she was trying to disable it, she would definitely be killed.

Which was why she deactivated it, in a way that the Bridge wouldn't notice it was off-line unless they tried to use it. They could get it back on-line easily while she climbed out, and hopefully they wouldn't be suspicious.

Because using it would accomplish exactly what B'Elanna wanted.

And she could trust Chakotay to take full advantage of the result.

It was the mental image of a horrified, enraged yet helpless Janeway standing on the Bridge that accompanied B'Elanna inside the cramped space, where she went quickly to work.

It was twenty minutes later-nearly an hour since B'Elanna had been free and just as she was finishing an impressive amount of sabotage-that there was a ship-wide announcement of a Security Alert.

B'Elanna Torres was free and very dangerous.

They were right about that. Late, but right.

She climbed out and shut the panel behind her.

There was still no one in the section. She boosted herself up into the open hatch and pulled herself completely into the Jefferies Tube. She closed the hatch firmly.

There was no sign she'd ever been there. Of course, nothing had exploded yet.


Captain Janeway passed the Crewman she'd assigned to watch Paris in the corridor. Tuvok had removed a few weapons as well as a some suspicious items that could probably be converted into weapons from Paris' quarters, and had recommended that he still be under surveillance.

The Crewman greeted her with a respectful nod, looking rather guilty for being caught away from his post. He disappeared into the door where the monitoring screens were set up. Seconds later, Ensign Kim emerged from within.

He was clearly startled at seeing her, but recovered well.



"He just went to the Mess Hall for dinner," Kim excused, eyes toward the door he had just walked out of. "Paris was asleep."

"Is he still?"

"Yes," Kim said. "He has been since I got here."

Janeway nodded, which Kim took as a dismissal and started to walk away.

"Wait," she called after him. He stopped and turned around. "How's your leg?"

"It's better," Kim said slowly. He had an odd look on his face. "Did you speak to Samantha Wildman?"

"No, I received the daily injury report."

"Oh." He looked strangely relieved.

"Should I have spoken to Ensign Wildman?"

Kim took an unusually long time to answer.

"You might want to, Captain." He didn't wait for her to react to the peculiar statement. "Excuse me."

With that, he continued down the corridor at a speed plainly designed to avoid elaborating on his last puzzling statement.

Janeway didn't stop him, although she could have. Instead, she continued to her destination. It had taken a very long time for her to talk herself into coming here, so she could not let herself walk away under the pretense of wanting to know what Kim had meant.

There was no guard outside the door, as Tuvok had assigned there to be. Apparently, more than one crewman felt they were excused for a dinner break.

She did allow herself to ponder his strange suggestion that she speak to Ensign Wildman while she tapped in the Security authorization code to open the door.

She almost considered chiming, as if asking permission to enter, but decided she wasn't that contrite.

Paris' quarters had been ransacked. Clearly, Tuvok had been wise to remove the items Paris had been looking for. The lights were on at half power and Paris was no where to be seen.

Janeway moved further into Paris' quarters, heading toward the bedroom.

In the dim light, she could see a figure outlined beneath the sheets of his bed.

As Kim had said, Paris was asleep.

Loudly, she cleared her throat.

Paris stirred but did not make any movements to emerge from under the sheets.

"This is Captain Janeway."

If anything, identifying herself should make him try to bury through the mattress to get away. Not surprisingly, he stayed still and out of view.

She sighed.

Deciding to come here had been hard enough, never less deciding what to say.

"I wanted to talk to you."

No response.

"I feel I need to apologize."

That should have gotten a response.

"I think that I've misjudged you in the past. And I know for certain you have been mistreated for it."

She took a deep breath.

"I put most of what the Maquis did on you and I'm sorry," she admitted. "That is not to say that you aren't without guilt, but that I am aware I've made mistakes and that I'm not going to make them again."

Paris was trying to sit up and pull the sheet off his head. Bizarrely, he appeared to be having trouble with that simple task.

Janeway reached over and lifted the sheet away.

Then her mouth dropped open.

Every cell in her body that until now had been feeling relatively repentant went cold.

It was not Tom Paris lying dazedly in the bed, one eye swollen shut and the other showing distinct signs of being concussed. Somebody had kicked the Security Guard assigned to stand outside Paris' quarters in the face and then placed him under the covers in bed.

He was clearly disoriented, squinting at her with the one eye and mumbling about how much his head hurt.

Tuvok's voice cut through her shock.

"Tuvok to the Captain."

Blindly, she answered the comm.


"B'Elanna Torres has escaped Brig custody."

Janeway sank down on the edge of the bed.

"She's not the only one," Janeway said slowly. "Tom Paris is missing."


Naomi held tightly to her mother's shoulders, getting jostled in place by every step her mother took as they exited the Mess Hall. It seemed to Naomi that her mom was walking unusually fast.

Once inside the Turbo Lift, Naomi was lifted down and set to stand beside her mother's legs. Calling for their deck, her mother leaned against the back of the Turbo Lift and stared straight ahead.

Confused by the silence, Naomi peered up at her mother's face.

It was, Naomi realized unhappily, the very same face that her mother had been wearing for months before they went on shore leave. It was like the tight, stressed face that she'd seen during shore leave. It was a combination of the angry expression that came up when she argued with Ken and the silent upset face of whenever she wasn't arguing with Ken.

Naomi reached upwards and took hold of her mother's hand. She glanced downward at this, squeezing Naomi's hand, offering a small tight smile, before looking away again.

When the doors slid open to their deck, Naomi was pulled out into the corridor by the hand, stumbling behind her mother's long stride. She looked at the damage to the corridor walls and to their neighbors' doors. Almost all the doors had jagged holes in them. Naomi hadn't thought it was possible to break the sturdy doors.

In addition to hurting people when they left, the Maquis had made a mess, too.

She was dragging her heels, looking at the dark burned smears on the wall. Impatiently, her mother reached back and lifted her up off the ground into a loose one-handed hold. At their door, one of the few that was perfectly clean and not mangled, she used the free hand to tap the keypad to open the door.

Their quarters were still dark from when she had fallen asleep on Harry's lap. Naomi sat on the couch, watching her mother head for the still unopened storage cartons that had been brought back from shore leave.

As her mother examined the carton labels, Naomi had a frightening thought.

"Are we going on shore leave again?"

Her mother paused in her search, looking up.

"No, Naomi."

She looked down again, but not before Naomi caught one of the expressions she hated most flicker across her face. It was the expression that came across her mother's face whenever she was lying.

"I don't want to go on shore leave again. Ever!"

"I said we aren't," her mother repeated, but the expression was still there.

"I don't want to leave Voyager," Naomi continued, feeling tears well up.

Her mother moved away from the carton, over to the couch. She pulled Naomi into a tight embrace.

With her face pressed against her mother's shoulder, Naomi sniffled.

"Neelix promised you'd tell me why the Maquis left," Naomi said, muffled. She lifted her head up and looked her mother in the eyes. "They *hurt* people, Mom."

Naomi could feel the sigh that went through her mother's body. Naomi moved off her mother's lap.

After a very long pause, her mother began to speak.

"You remember when I told you how hard it was for the two crews to merge?" she asked. "For the Maquis and Starfleet crews to stop hating each other?"

Naomi nodded.

"They never really did. Merge or stop hating each other. What the Maquis did before they left is called a mutiny. They wanted to take command from Captain Janeway and take control of Voyager."

She stopped, looking at Naomi intently.

"They hurt people because the Starfleet crew resisted the mutiny. And they left because the mutiny wasn't working."

She stopped again, looking at Naomi for a reaction.

"Do you understand?"

Naomi nodded, and then began climbing back into her mother's lap. Once there, she hugged her tightly.

"Did Ken hurt people?" she asked softly.

"I don't know, honey."

Naomi stayed in her mother's hold for a long time, thinking this over.

"Because we were on the planet, on shore leave, we were safe," Naomi said, finally,


"Are we going to get in trouble for that?"

"Not you, Naomi, never. But I might. Which is why we have to leave Voyager now."

Naomi held tighter to her mother's shoulders, trying to digest this.

There were two announcements while she thought, but Naomi wasn't listening.

It was shortly after the second announcement that they heard a mechanical click from Naomi's bedroom. It was followed by the distinct sound of a person jumping to the floor and walking around. Her mother stiffened, arms tightening around Naomi.

"Sam?" a voice called from the hallway leading to Naomi's room.

Naomi scrambled off her mother's lap and ran to the voice.

"Tom!" she cried.

He emerged from the hallway, catching Naomi and picking her up as she clung to him. Over her shoulder Naomi heard him address her mother.

"They're looking for me."

"I heard."

"Tom," Naomi said sorrowfully into his ear. "Mom says we have to leave Voyager now."

"Yeah?" he asked sympathetically. He looked to her mother.

"Need a pilot?"


Tom left the Wildman quarters the same way he had arrived, through the Jefferies Tube hatch in the ceiling of Naomi's bedroom. Sam and he had agreed to meet in Shuttle Bay 1, but Naomi and Sam would be taking a Turbo Lift.

Walking through the corridors mere minutes after they announced a Security Alert for him was a little too reckless. He'd decided to get out of the Jefferies Tubes after hearing it, knowing that they'd be scanning every deck's Jefferies Tubes for him. He hadn't thought they'd look in Sam's quarters.

He'd also been pretty sure that the subject of the first Security Alert, the one he'd thought would be for him, wouldn't find him in Sam's quarters.

The prospect of meeting Torres in the Jefferies Tubes made being caught by Tuvok and locked up again inviting.

But he returned to the Jefferies Tube after conferring with Sam. His own concerns were secondary to the forlorn look in Naomi's eyes and the frightened discontent in her mother's.

There were a lot of repair teams still working in the Jefferies Tubes, according to Harry. Lots of repair teams meant it wasn't odd for life signs to be read inside the Jefferies Tubes, and to discern which ones were working and which ones were escaping there would have to be a security team searching deck by deck.

And surely, Torres was considered far more dangerous that he was. Tom just wanted to get off Voyager; Torres probably wanted to destroy it.

Torres was probably also not trying to get off the ship, more concerned with releasing the other Maquis.

So he convinced himself that he could elude the search and not encounter Torres on his way.

He heard voices on one deck, but it was only a repair team, a good distance away, bickering about some replacement piece.

He made it to the Shuttle Bay deck without trouble. Having promised Sam that he would take care of the crewman on duty, he decided to lure him or her away without risking a physical confrontation and the chance that Security could be called.

He used the components in the Jefferies Tube to send a message to the Shuttle Bay console, ordering all occupants to report to a section on the other side of the ship, under Captain Janeway's name.

Cracking the hatch near the Shuttle Bay door-hoping desperately that it wouldn't echo-Tom watched a small, non-Maquis Bajoran woman who he didn't recognize receive the message, dutifully leave her station and head out the door.

Waiting a few minutes, should she suddenly return, Tom opened the hatch completely and climbed down to the floor.

The shuttle he'd taken in his first escape attempt was set nearby. There were several burned smears across its exterior, probably from the explosive reaction he'd caused while trying to escape the holds of both Voyager's and his Peloran escort's tractor beams. Tom didn't know how badly the affect had been had on the shuttle's systems, having been too busy scrambling to get a weapon while helplessly watching his shuttle beginning to enter the Shuttle Bay hatch.

Time was short, so Tom headed to the other shuttle. He'd only just lifted up the door, when he heard someone enter the Shuttle Bay.

Tom glanced sharply over his shoulder, ready to dive inside the shuttle should it be the crewman returning. It was Sam and Naomi Wildman.

Sam was practically dragging Naomi, who now looked completely crestfallen. Sam didn't look too happy herself.

"Ready?" Tom asked her as she approached him.

"No!" said Naomi, angrily resisting as her mother lifted her into the shuttle.

Sam used one hand to keep Naomi inside the shuttle.

"Naomi," Sam said fiercely. "Sit down!"

Naomi did so, glaring. Sam turned back to Tom.

"Ready?" he repeated.

"I don't know," Sam said softly. "I didn't really think this through. Things can only get worse if they catch us and bring us back," she finished woefully. Tom nodded, understanding.

"All I can promise is that I can get us away from Voyager. If they come after us, that's another story."

"The Pelorans are bringing the Maquis back. Voyager would probably have to wait until they had them in custody," Sam added, trying to convince herself. "That would probably buy us some time."

"Harry's knocked out the tractor beam," Tom encouraged.

He was very confused by the dark expression that came over Sam's face when he mentioned Harry. She was silent for a moment.

"Okay," she said finally. "Let's go."

Sam climbed inside the shuttle, taking a seat.

Tom walked over to the deserted console. He was ensuring that once the Bridge was alerted of the unauthorized shuttle launch, they wouldn't be able to close the hatch and prevent the launch. While he was doing this, Tom noticed an additional Security Alert scrolling across the console screen.

He felt his mouth drop involuntarily open.

Of all the worst luck.

No, just his luck.

B'Elanna Torres was being tracked through the ship, and was now thought to be on this deck, presumably heading to one of the Shuttle Bays, the bulletin announced. It advised the crewman on duty to become armed.

The crewman would certainly have obeyed, had she not been sent to the opposite side of the ship.

Tom could just hope that in the five minutes it was going to take before they could leave, Torres stayed far away.

Finishing the override that would keep the hatch open no matter what the Bridge did, Tom headed back to the shuttle.

And as if on cue from some deity with a depraved sense of humor, the Shuttle Bay doors slid apart.

Tom didn't even turn around immediately, hearing the pounding footsteps as the person raced inside. Sam peered out of the shuttle, eyes wide.

Tom looked over his shoulder in time to see Torres-*of course*-bring down her elbow and smash the door controls.

Almost instantly, something sparked outside the door. Again, with more sparks. Torres regarded it, then turned around.

She noticed Tom for the first time. An expression of shock and exasperation registered on her face.

"I don't have time to deal with you," she snapped, stalking past him toward the damaged shuttle, surprisingly not making any aggressive movements.

The sparks from the efforts of the people outside to get in were getting more numerous, and there was now the sound of something grinding against the door.

Torres stuck her head inside the unoccupied shuttle, pulling it out seconds later.

"The computer's fried." she exclaimed, more to herself than to Tom.

Her eyes shot to the other shuttle, probably noting Sam's stunned face watching her, but clearly having ideas about removing Tom's mode of transportation off Voyager.

There was a loud clink, causing both Tom and Torres to whirl towards the door, which was now an inching open.

Torres didn't speak, she just ran over to the other shuttle and climbed inside. Tom heard Sam's disbelieving sigh, but also didn't say a thing as he too climbed inside the shuttle, closing the door and taking a seat at the helm. He didn't talk as he set up for the launch.

Silence was truly the best way to deal with the fact that he was escaping Voyager again, this time with Sam and Naomi Wildman, but also with the woman who had spent a day in the previous week trying to kill him.

Tom really didn't know if getting captured would be a better alternative.

On the Bridge, Harry Kim waited nervously for his console to alert him to an unauthorized shuttle launch. Tom had sworn that all he needed to escape was no tractor beam catching hold of him, all Harry needed to do was that tiny little piece of sabotage and his friend would be free.

That sabotage in addition to looking the other way in the monitoring room while Tom had knocked out his guard and stuffed him under the sheets in his bed.

He'd already been passively involved in helping Tom escape, once Tom launched Harry would take the active role of disabling the tractor beam.

Or, he could do it now.

Hoping he didn't look suspicious, not that anyone was watching him, Harry set the tractor beam function into its dormant state of repair.

It wouldn't activate no matter how angry Janeway got. And it looked innocent enough.

Harry swallowed, noticing his mouth was parched.

Then his console beeped.

Harry looked down. He cleared his throat.

"Captain, unauthorized shuttle launch in Shuttle Bay 1," Harry announced.

Janeway got to her feet, turned toward him.

The amount of rage her face could accommodate was increasing daily.

"Close Shuttle Bay doors," she ordered.

Harry tried. He genuinely did. The Bridge was locked out of those controls.

He relayed the information, watching Janeway's mouth get thinner and thinner as her jaw tightened.

So far, Tom was right. He didn't need Harry to do anything else.

"Security reports B'Elanna Torres last known location to be on that deck," Tuvok reported.

"On screen," Janeway commanded, turning sharply on her heel to face the view screen.

The shuttle emerged from the Bay hatch, navigating away from Voyager but not yet at warp.

"Tractor beam."

Harry went through the motions of activating the tractor beam, pretending to be frustrated when nothing happened.

"I can't, Captain," he said. "It's been disabled."

That was true. He needn't mention that he'd been the one to disable it.

The frustration of Janeway's face was no pretense.


"Tom Paris, B'Elanna Torres, and Ensign Samantha Wildman and Naomi Wildman."

What the hell was Tom doing on a shuttle with B'Elanna Torres? Harry hoped the shock on his face could be interpreted to be related to the oddity everyone else seemed to be finding of Sam and Naomi's presence on the shuttle.

"What the hell," whispered Janeway.

"It could be an abduction," offered Tuvok.

Or Sam could have decided that she was not going to take responsibility for her accountability for the mutiny and flee with Tom before Harry could tell Janeway anything.

What Torres was doing on that shuttle was the real question, as far as Harry was concerned.

"Hail them," Janeway said.

"No response."

"Open a channel."

The audio chirp signifying the open channel was heard.

Janeway took a step forward, hesitating to speak.

Then again, there wasn't much to say to two people fleeing imprisonment and another doing the exact same thing before anyone even knew that she was supposed to be a prisoner.

"Ensign Wildman," Janeway began. "If you are voluntarily leaving Voyager turn back now. If your shuttle does not return, I will open fire."

With her back turned, Janeway signaled Tuvok to activate weapons.

On the board the shuttle, Sam had pulled Naomi into her lap, holding her so tightly that her daughter was trying to get away. Janeway's voice filled the craft, threatening to open fire.

"They've activated weapons," Tom reported to Sam.

He noticed a ridiculous grin spreading across Torres' face. She seemed absolutely thrilled that Voyager was going to shoot at them. Tom scowled at her, which only made the grin wider and more salacious.

"They're firing!"

Tom worked frantically on the helm controls, not having the time or attention to notice Torres was still staring happily out the view screen.


The time went by excruciatingly slowly. It seemed to Chakotay to be taking twice as long to be returned to Voyager as it had to escape.

It wasn't, according to Dalby, who quietly informed them of the time as each hour dragged by.

Chakotay might have been thankful for the extra time-or at least the sense of extra time- if they'd been able to use it for anything productive, such as formulating an escape plan.

As it was, his shuttle's atmosphere was one of condemned prisoners be marched to their doom. Overwhelming anger but a total inability to do anything about it.

Resisting the Pelorans had already been discussed and dismissed. They were technologically superior, there were a lot more of the Peloran ships, and this was Peloran space, after all.

Should even one shuttle miraculously escape the conflict, it would only be a matter of time before the other Peloran fleet of six, which had disappeared once it became clear the Maquis weren't a threat, returned.

Once that topic was exhausted relatively quickly, the conversation turned to discussions of how much everyone on board hated Janeway. His crew could be very eloquent and articulate on that subject, but it became quite depressing and he shut it down.

He couldn't be sure, but Chakotay thought two of his Bajoran crew were continuing it in their own language. He let them, wandering over to stand behind Dalby.

The sensor screen Dalby was supervising had a diagram of a Peloran vessel up. Dalby seemed to be searching it for weakness.

Chakotay rested his hand on Dalby's shoulder, alerting him to his presence.


"Nope," Dalby said. "We take them on, it's suicide."

Chakotay nodded, sighing.

"Which," Dalby continued, looking up at Chakotay. "I think a lot of people would prefer to spending the next sixty years in the Brig."

Chakotay hadn't heard that before.


Dalby shrugged.

"Would you?" Chakotay prompted.

"I don't know," mused Dalby. "I don't think we'll survive that long on Voyager anyway."

"Why's that?"

"You know Janeway won't be able to get Voyager home. It would only be a matter of time before..." Dalby trailed off.

Chakotay nodded, definitely sharing that sentiment.

"You would get to see Samantha Wildman again, though," Chakotay said, watching Dalby's face for a reaction.

A wistful look crossed Dalby's features for a moment, before disappearing.

"Not likely," Dalby replied, looking down at his sensor screen. "She'll need to stay far away in case anyone connects her to the mutiny."

They were silent for a while, Chakotay listening to the soft conversations brewing behind them, Dalby changing the image on the sensor screen before him.

"Our best chance would be to do something right at the border," Dalby said suddenly. "And hope they won't follow us across. We'd have to deal with Voyager then, but it's probably worth a shot."

As he got Chakotay's attention, Dalby continued.

"Target their tractor beams here, here and here," Dalby pointed to areas on the Peloran ship diagram.

Henley came over and listened in.

A plan, not a wonderful or even definitely passable plan began to form. It wasn't a sure thing, and no one thought it was. Chakotay was usually against such desperate actions, for they almost always proved to be incredibly costly.

But this was not a normal situation. There was no waiting for reinforcements, no waiting for conditions to improve.

The possibility that circumstances could in fact get much worse.

And the fact that his crew was brewing for a fight because to most of them going quietly was not an option.

A fight at the border was their best chance.

Maybe half an hour later, Dalby alerted Chakotay as they approached the border. He did a double take, looking at his sensors and without being asked brought it up on the view screen for all to see.

There was a loud collective gasp of shock from inside the shuttle. Chakotay stared out of the view screen, then dropped his eyes to Dalby's sensors to confirm that what he saw was indeed happening.

Because what he saw looked like Voyager. Exploding.


Extra Warning: A little bit of violence between two people of opposite sexes. She started it.

Harry Kim heard Captain Janeway command Tuvok to fire upon the fleeing shuttle. He turned his eyes to his readings, waiting to see Tom pull some acrobatics and escape.

Harry didn't get to see what happened, though. For all of a sudden, he couldn't see his console.

He was vaguely aware of the floor beneath his feet surging upwards, although he didn't connect it with the fact that his console suddenly disappeared from view, nor did he know immediately that he was being violently propelled over his console.

When he realized this, he made a frantic grab for the edges of his console. His fingers brushed over the smooth ends of the console, but he couldn't get a grip on anything.

Still having no idea why he was being thrown over his station, Harry could only brace himself for the inevitable landing towards the front of the Bridge.

Land he did, jarringly despite his best efforts to absorb the blow evenly. Twinges of pain, more of shock than actual injury, went through him. The distinct unpleasantness of having the wind knocked out of him followed shortly. His head was stinging-not hurting, stinging-and there was something dripping down his forehead over on to one eyelid.

Harry felt somebody's hands on his shoulders, helping to pry him upward off the floor.

He groaned unwittingly as the set of arms pulled him into a sitting position. He opened his eyes, immediately squeezing them shut again when the liquid flowing over his eyelid got inside, then automatically brought a hand up to wipe the blood blinding his right eye away.

Keeping his hand over the one eye, Harry opened the other to look into pale concerned face of Captain Janeway. Her hair was falling out of its neat bun, indicating he wasn't the only one to have been thrown around.

She was speaking to her comm badge, he came to realize, ordering an emergency beam out to Sickbay. For him.

"No!" He put his hand on her arm. "No, I'm okay."

More or less.

Janeway cancelled the beam out, helping him to his feet. The muscles he'd bruised in landing so hard made both standing up and walking a startlingly painful experience, and he stumbled rather than walked back to his station. The cut above his eye was still bleeding, and he kept wiping it away so he could see his readings and find out what the hell had happened.

There had been some kind of explosion when Voyager tried to use its weapons, resulting in severe damage to all of Voyager's weapon capabilities. And the damage was pervasive, shields and most of the systems that had just been repaired were offline.

For such a small gash, the wound on Harry's forehead was bleeding enough for him to have to keep a hand pressed against it so he could still see.

The damage report was relayed to Janeway, as Carey from Engineering contacted the Bridge with a damage report of his own.

Tom's shuttle was completely forgotten in the midst of the delivery of such bad news, and Janeway's orders to contain the damage. And if anyone, Harry for instance, was still thinking about him, the thoughts quickly disappeared.

"Captain, Peloran vessels are approaching the border with the Maquis shuttlecraft in custody," Tuvok reported.

"Strap yourselves in, " Tom directed Sam and Naomi, purposefully leaving Torres out of the advice, hoping she'd ignore it and crack her head against something when the shuttle was hit.

The hit never came.

And as much as he would have liked to have credited his piloting skills for avoiding it, he was fairly certain he'd had nothing to do with it.

He stared out the view screen at a blaze streaming from the side of Voyager.

"Whoa," he said inadequately.

Torres was smirking gleefully. Tom didn't need to ask why.

"What happened?" asked Sam, staying in the rear.

"Voyager's been damaged." Tom shot a look at Torres. "I don't know how. Their weapons are down."

He checked his sensors again, assuring that Voyager was indeed no longer a threat. That's when he saw the Peloran fleet escorting the Maquis shuttles to the border.

"Time to get the hell out of here," he muttered under his breath.

But of course Torres was watching the sensors too. He at least expected her to order him to change course, not that he would have. Considering she was right by his shoulder watching the sensors, he didn't think she could hit him at the close range.


Her fist knocked him backward out of the helm chair and into darkness on the shuttle floor.

Chakotay watched the flames erupting from Voyager.

"This is a window of opportunity," remarked Henley pointedly, breaking the stunned silence.

"Right," Chakotay responded. He took a seat. "Do it."

"Wait, Chakotay, there's a shuttle from Voyager directly across the border heading towards us," Dalby reported

"Friend or foe?"

"I don't know." Henley leaned over Dalby's sensor readings, to his evident annoyance. Moments later, almost triumphantly, Dalby announced, " I'm reading one half-Klingon life sign, one half-Ktarian life sign, and two humans."

"Do it," Chakotay repeated.

The Peloran vessels were clearly as confused by the state Voyager was in as the Maquis had temporarily been, not reacting immediately to being fired upon by two of their three charges while the third made a desperate attempt to break free from the tractor beam, and a fourth unrelated shuttle began to cross the border, with incredibly sloppy piloting.

Immediately meaning a total of one minute fifteen seconds, before the revolt was crushed with three carefully aimed charges that knocked the three shuttles' weapons offline, and the large border patrol ship took hold of the new arrival.

And if the Pelorans were confused by that development, it was only magnified when they contacted the latest transgressor of their space. For although the shuttle answered, one could barely see two of the passengers once the screen activated.

A man and a woman were wrestling on the floor, while a second woman, looking distressed, stood directly in front of the screen trying to hold on to a bawling, struggling child.


Torres was an idiot. She had climbed into the helm seat Tom had just been knocked out of-by her- and appeared to be setting a course into Peloran territory. Tom tried to get up, his head spinning, and fell right back down again. He tried again, feeling the ache spreading across his face and his attempt to balance on two feet proved to need more concentration than ever before.

Why oh why was Torres choosing the one direction that promised to get them almost instantaneously returned to Voyager? For the second time today, in his case.

If he'd been feeling reasonable, had the time, and had not just been punched in the face, he might have attempted to tell her that the Pelorans were very unsympathetic to people fleeing into their territory.

As it was, he was feeling completely unreasonable, primarily because he knew he didn't have the time to get back in control of the helm before the border patrol took action, and to a lesser degree because she had indeed socked him in the face.

He took the quickest, most obvious method of removing Torres from the helm chair while simultaneously interfering with her control over the helm console.

Tom wrapped one arm around her throat, shoving his other hand in randomly to hinder her movements over the controls, and yanked backward as hard as he could.

His intent was to pull her over the back of the chair and away from the helm.

It might have worked if the helm chairs in shuttlecraft were designed to be stationary, and not spin around when directional force was applied to the occupant, sending the one seated flying forward into the other person.

A scenario such as the one Tom was engaged in had probably never occurred to the shuttlecraft designers, for Tom's efforts to pull Torres over the seat resulted in the helm chair spinning sharply around and launching Torres directly into him.

He landed on the floor, thrown there by his own momentum. Torres landed on top of him with his arm still wrapped around her neck, giving Tom a momentary advantage.

Momentary, because it only took a moment for Torres to dispatch the arm around her throat and twist it maliciously.

Tom jerked it out of her grasp, trying to make a move of his own, but getting to caught up in defending himself from the flurry of attacking limbs he found directed at him.

From somewhere, he heard a child begin a rising wail. Naomi, of course.

He'd like to scream, too.

Naomi's cries become closer, and peering around Torres, Tom could see Sam stumbling to the front of the shuttle, leaning forward to activate the screen.

He hadn't noticed anything, but then again Torres was a significant distraction.

Naomi was wailing as loudly as she could, struggling mightily in her mother's arms, and staring tearfully at Tom.

That was when he remembered Torres , and that she should have taken the opportunity of his diversion to break his neck.

Glancing quickly back, he saw Torres frozen in place, arm poised above his face, eyes on Sam and her activities.

It was too much of a relief to be comical, and Tom jerked agilely away from Torres and rolled an appropriate distance-out of her reach, to be precise-and got to his feet. Torres seemed to think the screen was more interesting than Tom, definitely allowing him to get free, barely casting anything beyond a warning glance to stay away in his direction.

His knee hurt. His face hurt. And already knowing who was going to appear on the screen and what they were going to say began to hurt in advance.

He glanced at the sensors, noting their shuttle was already in the holds of the Peloran border patrol and that the Maquis shuttles were idling close by.

He kept one eye warily on Torres, who was reciprocating his own defensive stance, while they both tensely watched the screen.

It may have been the same Peloran to whom Tom had spoken earlier, and if it was not then this one had memorized the exact same austere greeting.

If anything, this one was more impatient and more exasperated, speaking forcefully over Naomi's cries as he demanded that Sam identify herself and her purpose.

Under other circumstances, it was a simple request.

Naomi was quieting, either because Tom and Torres were no longer fighting or because of the death grip Sam appeared to have on her daughter as she clutched Naomi to her chest.

Still, Naomi struggled and murmured in her mother's grasp, producing hoarse scratchy protests from her nearly broken voice.

Telling Naomi emphatically but ineffectively to be quiet, Sam struggled to explain. She was flustered, stuttering out a nonsensical response for a few moments, before recovering ever so slightly.

"My name is Samantha Wildman."

Naomi squealed then, inopportunely, as she beat against her mother's arms.

Sam began again, dismissing the usual preliminary comments. "I know. I mean, I've been told the Peli, um, Pelona,-"

"Peloran," Tom supplied softly, breaking his silence for the first time.

"Peloran," Sam correctly weakly. She recovered well, then. "That Peloran space was once a terribly violent and conflicted region which has endured to achieve stability."

How she knew any of this, Tom wasn't sure. As Sam talked, remarkably well composed now for a completely unplanned, unrehearsed speech, Tom moved unobtrusively over and gently removed Naomi from Sam's tight hold. Naomi clung to him, actually obeying his soft instruction to hush. Torres watched him while he did this, and Tom had a brief gratifying moment when he thought that she probably would not hit someone holding a child.

"I know that the Peloran people are careful to avoid altercations and I have to tell you that by getting involved with Voyager, by returning the Maquis and us, you are cooperating with a group of people who have as much hostility and internal trouble as your people ever did."

Sam ran out of breath, pausing to inhale deeply and nervously wet her lips.

"To which of these 'hostile' groups do you align yourself?" The Peloran questioned, rather sarcastically.

"I," Sam flared angrily, stopping herself as she realized the caliber of her response. "I have been trying my best to get my child and myself away from both of them."

"As have I," Tom contributed, moving closer to Sam.

Still watchful of Torres, Tom saw her quirk an eyebrow and move almost imperceptibly closer to the screen.

"I am with the Maquis," she reported smoothly. "And I warn you that returning the Maquis to Voyager will only worsen the situation for all involved, as you have made yourselves."

The Peloran didn't seem to comprehend the blatant threat.

"The Maquis have been identified as terrorists and mutineers," he accused.

"You clearly didn't ask Janeway why we were forced to act as those," Torres replied, unfazed.

Threatening the Pelorans was an absurd strategy, in Tom's opinion, far more likely to get them handed back to Voyager than anything else was.

Sam felt the same way, apparently, quickly jumping in before Torres could escalate it.

"In the interest of opposing the kind of aggression that Voyager and the Maquis on engaged in, I would ask that the Peloran government grant us permission to enter their space and asylum from Voyager during our journey through it," Sam entreated, careful to politely make it an obvious request and not any kind of demand.

Torres followed on the heels of the appeal, her own request decidedly less pleasant.

"And I would ask that you grant the same concessions to the Maquis."

"There are no concessions as of yet," the Peloran informed them all. "You accusations will be investigated and validated. Conclusions will be reached from there."

Sam nodded.

"You are correct in that the Peloran government does not wish to enable such behavior, but wrong that we have any duty to prevent it. But we will have no part in it."

With that, the screen flipped back to a view of the stars, the Peloran vessel, and Voyager.

There was silence, Sam dropping into the nearest seat with an exhausted cry. Tom watched the diminishing flames lingering on the side of Voyager, rapidly disappearing.

Holding Naomi close, he glanced over at Torres.

"I wonder," he said. "How that happened."

Torres spared him a venomous glance, staying standing.

Naomi began to sniffle, the only sound in the entire shuttle.


There was no immediate action after the Pelorans had so swiftly knocked the three Maquis' shuttlecraft's engines and weapons off line.

Chakotay waited patiently for the reprimand to come, but the Peloran vessels remained silent, shockingly disinterested.

The explosion that could be seen streaming from the side of Voyager was quickly diminishing in size. Dalby reported severe damage to Voyager's weapon systems, and to their shields. This information briefly provided some humor to the shuttlecraft, even if they all found themselves in pretty much an identical situation.

The shuttle containing Torres, Samantha and Naomi Wildman, and another unidentified human was in contact with the Peloran border patrol ship.

Dalby appeared to be inventing numerous new ways to use the shuttle's scanners in his efforts to find out what exactly was occurring on the other vessel.

There was an expression of anxiety, combined with determination and hints of hopefulness on Dalby's face as he worked fervently on the sensor controls. It confirmed to Chakotay that he'd been correct in judging Dalby's attachment to the Wildmans, over which he'd been musing earlier. Then, Dalby looked up triumphantly.

"I can tap into the audio of the comm system and we can hear what's going on over there," Dalby said, hands poised to go into action.

Chakotay barely started to nod and Dalby went to work.

There was a cacophony of unpleasant electronic screeches as Dalby worked to establish the link. Finally, the connection was made.

"But wrong that we have any duty to prevent it. But we will have no part in it," said an unfamiliar male voice, speaking in what had to be the very end of a sentence, that made no sense without the rest of the speech.

With that, the Pelorans severed the comm connection. Looking close to crestfallen, Dalby closed off the useless link.

"That was informative," Chakotay offered dryly.

No one seemed to appreciate the attempt at humor.

Silence again took over, with shades of despair.

Chakotay only let the silence settle for a minute, before sharply ordering everyone to stop looking depressed and hopeless and get the disabled systems back on line as soon as possible.

With limited grumbling, his Maquis went back to work.

And within seconds of the first attempt to bring their engines on line, the Border Patrol vessel contacted Chakotay's shuttle.

Henley spat a curse, ceasing her efforts with unusually violent gestures.

"Open a channel," Chakotay instructed. "And calm down," he added with annoyance to Henley.

The screen blinked from space to the previously seen interior of the Peloran border control vessel.

Chakotay adopted a serene expression, leaning back in his chair in what he hoped came off as an intact, undamaged front.

"Chakotay of the Maquis," greeted the same Peloran who had granted them access to Peloran space, what felt like a very long time ago.

It was oddly respectful way to begin what had to be a reprimand, but Chakotay simply nodded acknowledgement, waiting for him to continue.

"It has been brought to attention of the Peloran government that through assisting Voyager and returning the Maquis to their custody we may be enabling an unjust administration to continue. This was not our intent."

That was not the expected scolding, but it was a shock, to put it mildly.

The Peloran had paused, clearly awaiting a response.

Not entirely sure where this was going, or why the Peloran was suddenly being so reasonable, Chakotay nodded again and hoped he didn't look stunned.

"Do you confirm Voyager's standing?"

"Absolutely," Chakotay said. "There was a basis for our mutiny."

"Why did you not inform the Peloran government upon entrance to our territory?"

"It seemed irrelevant," Chakotay said smoothly. "It is not a practice of the Maquis to involve outsiders in our disputes. And we believed that you had sided with Voyager."

The Peloran shook his head.

"We did not intend to take sides in what now is clearly a complicated issue."

"Then is it your intention to release us?" Chakotay prompted, becoming suspicious of the Peloran's hesitation to fulfil his apparent change in heart.

"We must confirm the situation with Voyager."

"They aren't going to support anything that does not turn in their favor," Chakotay answered. "If you choose to cease your involvement, you have damaged our ships and put us at a disadvantage in any fight with Voyager. And they still hold many of us prisoner."

"There will be no fighting," the Peloran said sharply. "A resolution will be reached and you will remain in our custody and protection until then."

With that, the Peloran ended their conversation.

"What does this mean?" asked Henley softly, her brow crinkling. "They're going to ask Voyager to confess to creating the grounds for the mutiny?"

"What if we don't like their resolution?" Added Dalby, suspicion on his face.

"We get our engines and weapons back on-line right now," said Chakotay. "And then we wait for this resolution."

Waiting, surely was not the most pleasing option to the Maquis, but at the moment it was their only choice.

"And hail B'Elanna's shuttle," Chakotay ordered, for the information that B'Elanna was alive and in all likelihood responsible for the recent damage to Voyager was the best thing he'd heard all day.


The chaos that followed the unexpected explosion on board Voyager was short-lived, if loud and frightening for the time period that it did last.

The jolt that had thrown Harry Kim over his own console also shook every level of Voyager, damage and injuries secondary to the massive fire that erupted in the torpedo bay when Voyager tried to open fire upon the fleeing shuttle craft.

When everyone got back up from being violently thrown to the floor, the fire was actually contained quite quickly, but not before it caused extensive damage and injuries.

And then they had to listen to the damage report, with the information that it was going to take a lot of people and a lot of hours to repair it, in no small part because most of the people who normally made up the emergency repair teams were incarcerated or gone.

The explosion was clearly sabotage.

Someone had rigged it to activate when Voyager tried to fire its weapons systems.

There weren't a whole lot of suspects.

Well, there were, but most of them had either been locked up or not on board Voyager during the time in which the sabotage could have been rigged.

The process of elimination led almost instantly to someone on board the fleeing shuttle craft having the presence of mind and the skill to guarantee themselves a fire-fight free escape from Voyager.

Perhaps this was what Tom had meant when he had declared himself capable of solving every other obstacle to getting off Voyager.

But then again, Torres was so incredibly destructive and doubtless a skilled saboteur, she absolutely could have rigged it right before her escape.

At this point, even Sam could have decided to prove that she could indeed become a Maquis, by blasting a hole in Voyager.

Although at this point, almost everyone seemed to think that she and her daughter had been involuntarily abducted or otherwise forcibly removed from Voyager.

And that her abductors, Tom and Torres-though admittedly, no one could figure out why these particular two were collaborating-had now been captured the Peloran Border Guard vessel.

This should have been good news for Janeway.

And yet it wasn't.

The Peloran who appeared on the view screen-the same one who had earlier been so eager to keep the Maquis mess out of Peloran space-was no longer feeling very supportive.

Sam, the very same Sam who had allegedly been kidnapped from Voyager, had requested asylum on behalf of herself and her daughter. Tom had joined her in this request, and now Torres wanted the same conditions for the Maquis.

Sam had apparently accused Voyager of having deserved the mutiny, and the Maquis-surprise, surprise-had backed her up.

Or maybe it was the other way around.

Either way, the Pelorans were now less interested in helping Janeway and more interested in, well, developing some kind of 'resolution'.

Janeway's face, remarkably, was only a few shades pinker than normal.

She was composed enough to rattle off reasons why this was a very bad choice:

Tom was, at this moment, supposed to be a prisoner back in Alpha Quadrant.

Sam was the lover of one of the Maquis, therefore she was biased against Voyager, not too mention currently a fugitive.

Torres, or any one of the three adults, was likely responsible for the explosion on Voyager.

Lastly, the Maquis were unreformed terrorists, and one cannot support terrorism while claiming to support peace and to want to avoid chaos.

The Peloran was acceptably disturbed by this information, but showed no signs of changing his mind.

Their communication ended with the severe and emphatic order for Voyager to stay where it was and take no action while the Pelorans considered their options.

At some point, someone handed Kim a regenerator to run over the dripping scrape he had across his forehead. Rather sloppily, one-handed, he got the bleeding to stop.

It was little hard to do while stumbling in the conference room with the other senior staff, as Janeway had decided to have an emergency meeting to discuss how they could fix Voyager as quickly as possible and then be ready to take on the suddenly unfriendly Pelorans.

It was not an optimistic outcome.

The only feasible plan was presented by Tuvok, who suggested that they bombard the apparently judicious Pelorans with indestructible logic, that the Maquis were bad, dangerous people who could not be trusted or dealt with in any situation without the sincere threat of a quick and violent betrayal.

And Voyager certainly had experience with that aspect of the Maquis.

The fact that the Maquis were an incredibly menacing, if currently defunct, terrorist group back in the Alpha Quadrant, could only serve to encourage the Pelorans to keep such an element out of the Delta Quadrant or more specifically, Peloran space.

As the senior staff scattered to direct their various departments to do the proper repairs, Janeway called for Kim just as he was about to exit.

He turned around and stepped away from the door, hearing it slide shut behind him.

"Harry," Janeway said again, rising from her chair.

"Captain," he replied.

Janeway took hold of the back of the seat she had risen from.

"Earlier," she slowly, pensively. "You suggested I speak to Samantha Wildman."

Kim nodded, not offering any information.

"Was it in regard to..." she paused. "what happened?"

"Yes, Captain." It was his turn to pause. "But I had no idea that she would go to these measures. I thought that she would come to you. And if she didn't, I told you so that you would go to her. I didn't think that she'd decide to run away before you had the chance."

Janeway nodded, which Kim took as a dismissal, for he exited hastily.

She followed him after a moment, taking a seat in her chair in the center of the Bridge.

She was indescribably angry and disappointed, and sorrowful simultaneously.

Her ship had sustained a horrible mutiny, during which some had taken it upon themselves to flee the ship. Others had died. Yet another had apparently done something in regards to the mutiny to motivate fleeing afterwards to avoid being found out.

And now some alien race-involved only by a directional whim of the Maquis- was going to decide whether or not the Maquis -and Tom Paris and Samantha Wildman-should be returned to Voyager.

Janeway was deaf to the buzz of various stations and crew working on repairs, for all she could hear was her own thoughts on how to repair a much larger problem.


After the uninterrupted stream of action and excitement-from escaping Voyager to being brought back to escaping once again-Tom thought he would be relieved for the calm he now found.

He was not relieved, if anything he was all the more jittery

And although Sam Wildman wasn't actually saying anything, by merely sitting with tightly wound apprehensiveness and restlessness, Tom could feel the same uneasiness roll over him.

Torres' mere presence-although at least for the moment she had ceased looking violent-was enough to keep Tom alert for the sudden occurrence of pretty much anything.

Naomi had apparently decided that since every adult on board was intent on being silent, yet intensely worried and considering that there was still rather badly hidden overt hostility between Tom and Torres, that her only refuge was holding tightly to Tom and waiting for something to happen.

They were all waiting for something too happen.

Tom could not believe the ease with which the Pelorans had been convinced that all was not right with Voyager.

He half expected to be hailed again, this time with the information that Voyager had talked the Pelorans into reversing their opinion.

It was not the Pelorans that hailed their shuttle, but people whom Tom didn't want to hear from, either.

The Maquis shuttles, being held nearby.

Doubtless, they knew Torres was on board and wanted to congratulate her on damaging Voyager.

Torres, of course, noticed the hail before Tom could do anything to get rid of it.

She moved to activate the screen, and Tom turned away, balancing Naomi as he walked towards the rear of the shuttle.

He didn't even want to see the Maquis.

He noticed Sam was looked nervously up at the screen, waiting for it to activate.

She wanted to see Dalby, he knew.

He'd thought for a while that Sam was only with Dalby for protection from the Maquis for the mutiny, but it was now apparent that there was an actual relationship.

It made no sense to him.

The screen had yet to activate, to the extreme annoyance of Torres, if the sounds she was making were any indication.

Finally, she whirled around.

"I can't open a channel," she said accusingly. "What did you do?"

Tom made his way back towards the console, gently releasing Naomi into the arms of her mother. He looked for himself at the console controls.

"I didn't do anything," he said. "The Pelorans are blocking our comm channels."

Torres made a snarling noise and went for the controls as if she intended to pound them into functioning correctly. Tom moved out of the way, content to let her think she could outwit the Pelorans. He took a seat next to Sam, who was holding Naomi in silence.

"That was some fast talking," he said mildly. "Very good."

Sam nodded, something next to humor and near bitterness on her face.

"I didn't think it would work," she remarked after a moment.

"Neither did I," Tom replied. "But they've blocked our comm channels so we can't get our stories straight with the Maquis. They must be thinking it over."

On board the Maquis shuttle, Chakotay discovered that the Pelorans had suddenly decided to disrupt his hail.

And so, all shuttles, and even Voyager, got to sit in frustrated silence and wait.

Wait about an hour, one very tense hour.

Then, almost simultaneously, every party involved received a transmission from a group within the Peloran government, identifying themselves as some kind of High Council of Judicial Matters. It communicated the consensus that the Peloran government profoundly regretting admitting anyone from Voyager into their space, but now had a responsibility to assess the situation and resolve it appropriately.

This assessment could not be done, of course, with the Maquis shuttles and Voyager sitting just within and just without the Peloran border, flinging insults and accusations across it.

Thus, this High Council wanted to have a hearing, with testimonial from every side. Not just from every side, incredulously, but from every person.

Voyager instantly logged dissatisfaction, inquiring of the Pelorans if they knew the exact number of Voyager's crew, and complaining that a swift judgement could never be reached if every crew member was interviewed-if Voyager even chose to participate in what they were still of the opinion did not belong to Peloran control.

The complaint was ignored. The communiqué went on to invite a representative of all sides at each interview, with the warning that the intent was to develop a clearer picture for the High Council, not simply allow the opposing sides to get within fists reach of each other.

Voyager was silent for close to half an hour. It seemed to Chakotay that Janeway was sulking. Paris and Wildman-two who were apparently considered third parties to the dispute-agreed almost immediately. Clearly, they thought that even if Voyager rejected the offer, the Pelorans would protect them from whomever they each felt threatened by. Finally, Voyager agreed to the proffered terms. It was then that the Maquis stepped inside the developing negotiations, with the demand that all remaining Maquis be transported off Voyager.

Chakotay waited for a response.

Henley read over the rest of the details for this so-called hearing.

"Basically, they're putting everyone on trial for the mutiny," she said finally.

Chakotay nodded. "Basically."

"What," she continued, "Gives them that right?"

"Bigger guns," supplied Dalby, caustically.

No one disagreed with him.

"We're lucky," Chakotay tempered the rising ire, "that they're including everyone, and it's not just the Maquis."

The request to transfer the imprisoned Maquis was approved, and if Voyager felt differently, it couldn't be prevented because Voyager couldn't activate its shields yet.

Strangely, suspiciously, the transferred Maquis failed to reappear on the three shuttles, although sensors confirmed that they had indeed been beamed out, and that Voyager was impatiently hailing the Pelorans, probably pissed off.

And then Chakotay was hailing the Pelorans, equally impatiently and pissed off, because he wanted to know where his people had been taken.

The Pelorans took their sweet time in answering.

When they finally did, their response was short transmission expressing that there was such concern with leaving the Maquis and Voyager so close together for the future proceedings, that the Maquis on Voyager had been beamed elsewhere, and the shuttle occupants would follow shortly.

Shortly was right.

Chakotay had barely finished reading the message before he felt the well-known sensation of a transporter beam sweep over him. When it faded, he was standing in a dimly lit space, surrounded by his Maquis, all of whom were appropriately stunned, and some of whom were sitting shocked on the floor after suddenly losing their seats.

Dalby lifted himself off the floor, as Henley tried unsuccessfully to gracefully get to her feet.

"These people do not like asking," she growled, "do they?"

Chakotay didn't respond, too intent on looking around to see if he could find one of 'these people' to whom he could express how much he didn't like them at the moment.

He didn't see any Pelorans, only his Maquis, most still struggling to their feet and the others looking around suspiciously, hands at their belts as if they needed the reassurance of a phaser.

That made him reach for his own belt, which he found empty.

Of course, you don't abduct people -especially people that you've been told are mutineers and violent terrorists-and let them keep their weapons.

Maybe abduct was too strong a word-move without consent was a milder and less aggressive term, and the last thing the Maquis needed to be doing was developing antagonistic feelings towards people to whom they wanted to appear sympathetic and non-threatening.

From the irate murmuring he was surrounded by, he definitely had cause to be concerned with such a development.

He had to put a stop to it.

He directed Henley and Dalby to draw the attention of the rest of the Maquis.

While they were loudly doing just that, Chakotay took a moment to glance around their new location.

It was wide enough that he could only see one dark wall and the ceiling lights that were illuminating the floor. The wall he could see was featureless-doorless as well-and he guessed this was some kind of storage area converted to an emergency brig.

Rather quickly, impressively, Dalby and Henley had managed not only to quiet the Maquis, but also to clear the jumbled masses into semi-straight lines.

This allowed Chakotay to take a good look at his Maquis, finally together again on one ship, although certainly not in a command position on another certain ship, as they'd planned. If this was a ship.

They were smaller in number, it wrenched his heart to conclude, even with the addition of the Maquis that had been held prisoner on Voyager.

He noticed a figure coming forward from the dark rear, with little to no regard to who was shoved aside to allow the person through. Seeing B'Elanna emerge into the light did a lot to lighten the previous pain. She made her way to his side, almost as if it was her rightful place, as Henley stepped away to stand next to Dalby.

B'Elanna looked a little mussed, but otherwise appeared to be okay.

"Are you alright?" he asked, simply letting that communicate how glad he was to have her by his side again.

"Yeah," she answered, not pausing to take a breath as she continued, "Where are we?"


"Captain," Harry Kim announced, "The Pelorans are beaming the Maquis out of the Brig."

Janeway glanced over her shoulder.

"Shields still down," he added, because it sounded better than 'and we can't stop them'.

"Where were they taken?" Janeway asked, staring out the view screen, rubbing the bridge of her nose methodically.

"A disguised location within the Border Ship," he answered.

Janeway sighed.

"Hail them," she ordered.

"No response."

Looking at the back of Janeway's head, Harry could see her jaw set angrily, although she remained silent.

Not that there was much to say. The damage inflicted by the blast as Tom's shuttle left had more or less assured that Voyager wasn't going to be doing anything offensive or defensive for a good while. And even if most of Voyager's facilities weren't unusable, there wasn't much they could do against the Pelorans.

It was amazing that Maquis had managed to involve an alien race that was not only technologically superior, but also one that felt it had an interest in finding a 'resolution' to the situation. The only reason Janeway had acquiesced to such a claim was because, as Tuvok had pointed out, if she refused there was the high likelihood that the Pelorans would spirit the Maquis away, or keep them indefinitely under Peloran protection.

Harry had kept his objections to himself, but he still wondered why it would be such a horrible thing to be rid of the Maquis, for once and for all. To leave while the Maquis were detained, with the knowledge that the Pelorans would probably keep hold of them for at least long enough for Voyager to have a head start, in case the Maquis wanted to give chase and start it again. Tom had made his choice, as had Sam Wildman.

It was almost too late for that option, though, considering that Voyager had just regained the ability to go to impulse, and the possibility of warp was still far off, judging by the tone in Joe Carey's voice when he commed the Bridge to tell them that if Voyager needed to crawl away suddenly, she probably could.

Janeway didn't even seem to acknowledge that abandoning the Maquis was an option. She still wanted to punish them, he guessed. She hadn't questioned him any further on his limited knowledge of Sam Wildman's reasons for fleeing, although he thought of exactly what to say if she did. Naomi Wildman had tipped him off, completely accidentally and her mother had absolutely flipped when he'd implied she'd had prior knowledge, but hadn't given any hint she was going to run away. Of course, in hindsight, when he'd given her the two choices of telling Janeway or telling her himself, he probably should have considered that the third unspoken choice was to leave the ship and avoid being culpable even if he told on her.

Harry was pulled back to reality as his console chirped.

The Pelorans weren't responding to the hail, but had sent a text transmission of a short message.

He alerted Janeway of this development, but was rather hesitant to read it.

The Pelorans were remarkably concise and direct with communicating their power and everything that they subsequently did, and consequently came off somewhat obnoxious.

He could have interpreted it using language that was much less contemptuous, but read it off as ordered.

"In the interest of productive relations, it is necessary that no participant holds hostage members of the others involved, for the risk of further hostility and deceptive representation for fear of repercussions unto the prisoners," Harry read.

"*Hostages*," Janeway echoed, incredulously.

"That is most likely Chakotay's terminology," explained Tuvok.

This information did not soften the Captain's reaction.

"The Maquis requested it," she muttered to herself. She sat up straighter, shoulders leveling sharply.

"Mr. Kim," she said loudly, "If they won't listen to us, we'll do it the old-fashioned way. Compose this response, please."

Harry opened a transmission file and waited.

"In the interest of the safety and peace of the Delta Quadrant," Janeway hissed, "it is necessary that no violent, unrepentant terrorists be allowed to escape confinement, for the risk of imminent violence and brutality that is exactly characteristic of the Maquis against anyone and everyone."

It was probably a good thing that the Pelorans were refusing audio communication, Harry thought as he converted the Captain's statement into text, for the tone in her voice would win her no friends among the Pelorans. Neither would the very nature of her sneering message, but at least it came off milder when read.

He sent the transmission, not particularly expecting a response.

The Pelorans were silent for a bit, during which Voyager's sensors detected the occupants of the four shuttlecraft being beamed to presumably the same location within the border ship.

Then, Voyager received a short message.

"They say we can have our shuttles back if we want them," Harry reported.

"Kind of them," Janeway growled softly. "Is the tractor beam operable?"

"Yes," Harry responded instantly.

He immediately felt exposed and relatively stupid for not having even pretended to check. Of course the tractor beam was operable; it had been resting comfortably in dormant mode ever since Harry had turned it off, at Tom's request. Well, maybe it was all for the best. Staying dormant had protected it from being fried along with most of the other systems from the explosion and its side effects.

Of course, the explosion might not have happened at all if Voyager had been able to snatch the shuttle back with the tractor beam, without firing once.

Harry's guilt and fear of being found out were all inside his head, apparently, because Janeway calmly ordered the retrieval of the shuttle craft, not even glancing back at Harry's station.

Then there was yet another lengthy wait, during which the Pelorans were completely silent, not even bothering to inform Voyager why or for what they were waiting this time.

It was briefly mentioned that perhaps the Pelorans were experiencing the danger of the Maquis up close and personal upon beaming them somewhere inside the Border Ship, but that was probably just wishful thinking.

It was much more likely, however displeasing, that Chakotay and the Maquis were lying to and manipulating the Pelorans into doing something to benefit the Maquis. Charming and deceptive, the Maquis could certainly be, everyone on Voyager knew that.

And if the Maquis were exploiting the Peloran's desire for a 'resolution' it certainly felt like they had an eternity to do it in.

Finally, the Pelorans contacted Voyager again. They apparently had decided to ignore the Captain's biting response to the extraction of the Maquis, for the only content of their message was a very large data file containing the rules and regulations for the hearing.

Janeway requested the document be transferred to her ready room, and soon after she and Tuvok disappeared inside.

Harry, ever obedient-at least at the moment- did not read the document although he was very curious. The size of the file was tremendous, the list of rules had to be long and complicated.

And so, Harry feared, would be the trial.


Although the Pelorans had seemed in quite a hurry to move the Maquis off Voyager and the shuttlecraft, respectively, there did not seem to be the same urgency now that they had been transported to their current surroundings.

This did allow Chakotay some time to set down guidelines for his Maquis.

There was really only on rule, but it was the one every single one of the might break.

Be gentle, evoke empathy, and act victimized.

Most of his Maquis lacked the skills to behave like this.

He phrased it slightly differently, in the hopes of better success.

Stay calm, be unthreatening, and act respectful.

He feared his Maquis' abilities to do any of those, too.

It didn't help that he couldn't explicitly explain it either, out of fear that this new location was monitored and it would appear that he was manufacturing some cunning deception.

He was, in a way.

He delivered an impromptu speech on the gratitude the Maquis should have for the Pelorans, never directly stating his orders that they, at all costs, be civil and non-confrontational towards their as of yet unseen hosts.

Yes, hosts. Definitely not 'captors' as he'd heard someone call them.

Although he could definitely understand why some of the Maquis would substitute one word for the other, especially those had just been transferred from Voyager's brig. To them, it might seem as if they had exchanged their surroundings for a bigger cell with no obvious entrances or guards.

The fact that they were, or appeared to be, completely alone, did enable an extensive search of the large room. It was done as inconspicuously as possible, although any observers might have thought it odd that certain groups of people felt the need to stroll around the limits, stopping occasionally to touch or lean against the walls as if exhausted by walking a few meters.

They found nothing.

Nothing and no one.

The relief that came from having most of their people off Voyager-although apparently some remained in Sickbay-was nothing compared to the nervousness of wondering if in the silence Janeway was convincing the Pelorans that she was competent and the Maquis allegations were insignificant.

They had no way of knowing what was occurring, only that for the moment, the Maquis were not involved.

Until, out of impatience-and partial approval from Chakotay considering he didn't do anything except look at little wary- B'Elanna became a little destructive.

She whipped a metal blade out of the waistband of her non-Starfleet regulation pants, which of course hid weapons and anything else one wanted to conceal better than the Starfleet uniform did. When or why B'Elanna had be allowed to change, Chakotay didn't know, though he wondered why the Pelorans hadn't separated her from the weapon as they had everyone else.

She briefly looked at Chakotay, keeping her hand with the blade pressed discreetly against her leg. He didn't give her a response, which he supposed was the equivalent of giving permission. B'Elanna sidled over to the wall, drew her arm surreptitiously back and angled the tip of the blade towards what looked like a seam in the wall.

Either it was case of terrifically awful timing, or the Pelorans were indeed keeping an eye on their guests.

The so-called seam in the wall suddenly became a space inching wider and wider as it rather rapidly became an opening door.

The blade disappeared back into B'Elanna's waistband. Her expression became one of complete innocence and she backed quickly away from the increasing gap. Chakotay cleared his throat and with a gesture of his hand and tilt of his head swiftly brought total silence to the room and all eyes to focus on the door.

An unfamiliar Peloran strode alone through the door, which clicked shut behind him. He surveyed the silent room for a moment, and Chakotay was glad to see that his Maquis had for the most part successfully adapted expressions of placidity mixed with curiosity or at least close facsimiles.

The Peloran stopped his observation and turned on his heel, eyes towards Chakotay.

"Chakotay of the Maquis," he addressed, questioningly.

"Yes," Chakotay responded, careful to include respect but also a bit of his own authority in his tone.

"I am Aris of the Pelorans. I have been appointed to represent the interests of the Maquis in the upcoming hearing for a resolution."

Chakotay hadn't noticed it before, but Aris removed a device that honestly resembled a PADD from his belt and proffered it to Chakotay.

"The rules and regulations for the proceedings," he explained. "It closely resembles your own judicial process, so I don't believe you will have any objections."

At Chakotay's look of confusion, Aris continued, "We scanned the databases of your shuttles for basic information on your culture."

Chakotay nodded.

"There will in fact be three separate hearings, only one of which directly involves the Maquis, but it should be known that the content of and the information learned in the two prior cases may influence your own hearing," Aris droned. "I recommend you or another representative of Maquis attend them. I will be at all three as the Maquis representative but I cannot participate for I was not involved in the incident."

Aris seemed quite used to delivering this message.

"What is the purpose of three trials?" asked Chakotay, already scanning the incredibly lengthy list of rules.

"To determine the custody of a Thomas Paris, the custody of a Samantha and Naomi Wildman, and of course to develop a resolution in custodial matters of the Maquis and Voyager."

"Custody of us?" questioned B'Elanna, darkly.

Chakotay sent her a warning look.

Aris nodded.

"We did not interpret a mutual resolution to mean deciding to place the Maquis in anyone's custody," Chakotay elaborated.

"Placing the Maquis in Voyager's custody in only one possible resolution," explained Aris. "It will be made clear at the hearing that such a result is not your desire. Although I understand it to be Voyager's intent."

Chakotay watched the faces of his Maquis darken with repressed anger.

"Do you wish to proclaim intent for custody of the other three involved?" asked Aris, oblivious to the Maquis response to the mention of Voyager's intent. He took another PADD-like object and preparing to record Chakotay's response.

"Of Thomas Paris?"

"No," Chakotay almost snorted. "Absolutely not."

"Of Samantha and Naomi Wildman?"

Chakotay glanced at Dalby, who suddenly looked very worn down.

"Has she requested to join the Maquis?" Chakotay asked, keeping his eyes on Dalby.

"I haven't spoken with her representative, but I believe in her statement she distanced herself from the Maquis and from Voyager," Aris replied.

Chakotay swept a glance over everyone, and with the exception of Dalby and the scowl on B'Elanna's face, there didn't seem to be any particular response to the mention of Wildman.

"If she wishes to join us, we have no objections," he decided. "There's no need to force her."

"I know Voyager has requested her forcible return," Aris offered, folding away his little device.

"If you have any questions regarding the regulations, I will be available to answer them," Aris began to conclude. "I am in the process of arranging accommodations less basic than these, based upon information from your shuttle craft computers. You came here so quickly I had not yet finished."

"We had no say in how quickly we came here," Chakotay broached the subject of the Pelorans' inconsiderate behavior.

"It is standard procedure to separate the parties involved in a dispute that has come under Peloran concern as quickly as possible, before anything else is done," replied the representative in what might have been an apology.

"Do you frequently become involved in foreign disputes?"

"As the most stable government in this region of space, we are often impeded by the feuds of our neighbors, although usually smaller and less complicated than the one involving yourselves and Voyager," Aris answered. "It is Peloran policy to avoid foreign disputes if possible."

"We had no intention of becoming involved but you had already entered our space under deceptive fronts," he said, almost tiredly.

"We had no intention of involving you," retorted Chakotay. "Hence our deceptive fronts."

Aris smiled a little for the first time, and the ridge on his face moved up a bit.

"I will finish those arrangements," he said, moving to exit.

"More waiting," Chakotay heard Henley mutter after Aris was gone.

Chakotay handed off the device containing the rules document to her, indicating that she should read the lengthy thing and report on its content since she had such a hard time waiting.

"At least now we know what's going to happen," remarked B'Elanna, moving to stand beside Chakotay.

"Do we?" he asked.


The Pelorans didn't seem to have a concept of politeness, for there was no request made to Tom Paris asking if he wanted to or even if he would mind being suddenly transported from his seat on the shuttle to landing with a jolt on his seat in a very small and very dim space.

At least he assumed it was the Pelorans, because he knew this wasn't Voyager and the Maquis didn't have any place to beam him even if they wanted to.

He couldn't find a door. He couldn't find anything. There didn't seem to be anything in the room except him and a few lights in the ceiling.

He was all alone. For a very long time. Warily, he sat down on the hard floor in a corner and kept a quiet vigil for something to happen.

He didn't have a chronometer, but it certainly felt like a significant amount of time was passing.

He really wondered what was occurring that made the Pelorans decide that he needed to be isolated. Visions of a "resolution" being reached that involved his return to Voyager flashed through his mind.

It only took a few minutes considering the likely consequences of such an outcome for Tom to change his mind about sitting quietly on the floor and behaving himself.

He got to his feet and shook out his tensing muscles.

"Hey," he said hoarsely. Clearing his throat, he continued louder. "Hey!"

He didn't even get an echo for a response.

"I said, hey!" he bellowed, and slammed his fist into the wall for emphasis.

Well, that hurt. Tom grimaced.

One had to suffer when one was, for all intents and purposes, throwing a temper tantrum.

He lifted his hand again and was about to bring his arm down when he heard a voice behind him.

"Please do not hurt yourself," murmured a solemn male voice from over his shoulder.

Tom tried to twist around to face the newcomer-just where the hell had he come from, anyway-and nearly tripped over his own feet.

He recovered less than gracefully, managing to remain upright and but not in a particularly authoritative stance. A Peloran he hadn't seen before -well, he'd only seen two-stood impassively against the other wall.

"I wasn't trying to hurt myself," Tom said. "I was trying to get your attention."

The ridge on the Peloran's face tilted a bit.

"And it worked," Tom added, feeling the ridge movement was a Peloran equivalent to a smirk.

His guest let the confrontational comment pass, moving away from the wall and extending a flat device towards Tom.

"Thomas Paris," he said, "I am Elis and I have been selected to represent you in the upcoming hearings."

A little perplexed, Tom took the proffered object.

"You're my lawyer?"

"It is a role similar to that of a lawyer in the judicial system to which you are accustomed," Elis offered. "That is all the necessary information and explanations for our system," he explained, gesturing toward the device Tom now held.

Tom glanced at the text, noticing that it was an incredibly lengthy document.

He, ruefully, had some experience with similar lengthy legal documents. And he'd always had his lawyer explain them to him.

"How does you role differ from a lawyer?" he asked, letting the device drop to rest against his thigh.

"I may only clarify issues. I cannot introduce anything into consideration and I cannot interrogate speakers. My basic purpose is to instruct you on the function of Peloran law and ensure that you are able to adequately support your cause. It is meant to contribute to maintaining order and dignity of the proceedings. I will only interfere when there is a conflict or a misunderstanding in the regulations. If you are incapable of properly representing yourself or your case to the High Council I may step in to clarify your intentions. "

"Oh," said Tom. He paused. "Do Voyager and the Maquis get representatives?"

"Yes, as does Samantha Wildman and her daughter."

Tom nodded, not asking but assuming that Sam and Naomi had also been rudely beamed elsewhere when he had.

"There will be two hearings other than your own," Elis explained, "You do not have to be present for those, but know that their content may influence the outcome of yours. The final decisions will be reached at the conclusion of all three cases."

Tom nodded again. Clearly beginning to conclude, Elis took out a similar-looking device to the one Tom had been given.

"Do you oppose being returned to Voyager?" Elis asked, reading from the instrument.

"Yes," Tom replied emphatically.

Elis marked his response.

"Do you oppose being transferred to the custody of the Maquis?"

"Hell yes!" Tom almost exploded.

Elis quirked his ridge mildly and recorded that response.

"Have the Maquis requested that I be transferred to their custody?" Tom asked, suddenly as unpleasantly apprehensive as he had been when he'd been all alone.

"Not to my knowledge," Elis said carefully. "But they have that right."

"Great," Tom spat sarcastically.

"Do you have any requests relating to Samantha Wildman?" continued Elis.

"Not personally, no." Tom sighed. "Except that she should be allowed to go to whomever she wants to go."

"Noted," finished Elis.

He put the device away.

"I suggest you read the entire list of regulations. I will be available if you have any further questions. I am in the process of procuring you furnishings and provisions. Those should arrive shortly."

"Yeah. Thanks," Tom said.

Elis exited, through a gap in the wall that developed at a seam and then closed quickly.

Hours later, Tom reclined on the bunk that Elis had procured for him. It was just as hard as the floor, but Tom wasn't feeling particularly restful. He scanned the regulations for the upcoming proceedings and felt more and more troubled. The Pelorans intended to have a genuine investigation of the affairs of Voyager, the Maquis, and himself, before, during and after the mutiny. He didn't think anyone was going to come out as innocent and guilt-free.

Unknown to him, the Maquis were engaged in a similar activity on a nearby deck. In their own bunks, set up like a large boarding room, they discussed their likely future, based upon Henley's interpretation of the rules document. It did not seem any more optimistic than that of Tom Paris, but the knowledge that they shared it with so many others, as they always had, made the nervousness less intense and the opportunities for levity more abundant.

And as the feelings of unity comforted the Maquis, they worried Samantha Wildman. She read her own copy of the regulations, delivered by her own representative, and thought fatefully that she could no longer avoid any judgement other than her own forgiving heart. It was not this that bothered her so much, but that it would trickle down to Naomi, curled up in her lap and whimpering about the dark.

On Voyager, its Captain's mind was perhaps the only thing not consciously considering the hearings, as the rest of the crew-if they weren't in sections of the ship with power failures or weren't occupied with repairing those failures-now had the chance to read the list of regulations now being circulated to everyone who had to testify. And everyone had to testify. In her Ready Room, Captain Janeway napped restlessly on her sofa, the PADD of the rules lying against her chest. The grinding of repairs nearby finally caused her to stir, and she awoke. She glanced down at the PADD, sighed deeply, and stayed motionless, staring at a spot on the floor.

***********END PART 38***********

This whole thing can soon be found at the lovely and generous and occasionally filk-inflicting Jemima's website: [Moved to - JP]

This is a sequel to Revolution which can be found at the same site, and the second in a trilogy (I've decided), the third part of which is swimming around in my brain. I have concluded my posting for a while until the stress and busyness of Real Life ceases, but trust that I will be writing the sequel and I will eventually be posting it. I don't think it's fair to you or to me to promise to post the sequel regularly when I don't think that's at all possible, because I'll be breaking promises and I don't like doing that. I remember I finished Rev I on Jan 31, 2000 (or 1999? my memory's going) and like to be consitent on these type of things. I want to deeply thank all of my faithful readers who stayed with me despite my erratic posting, and sent little notes to tell me they were still there. Yes, busy as I am in RL, I remain a feedback whore. I'll post Revolution III: Resolutions in some time. See ya, MJB