Part 2

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.

Part 3 | Index page