Part 28

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?"

Part 29 | Index page