Part 29

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.

Part 30 | Index page