Part 17

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."

Part 18 | Index page