B'Elanna Torres resisted the urge to put her fist through something. Like Vorik's face. She could feel the sweat dribbling down her neck. Cold sweat. Her uniform was sticking to her back. What the hell was happening on the Bridge? And why weren't they answering? She wiped her neck. She needed to talk to one of the other Maquis. Now.
"Vorik, go help them." She waved her fist...oops...she opened it to a relaxed hand, in the general direction of the other engineers.
"I do not believe they need my assistance," he answered calmly.
"I believe they do!" B'Elanna snarled, pretending to lunge forward.
Vorik backed off. "Very well."
She leaned back. Who said Vulcans didn't get scared?
She watched Vorik walk over to the other Star Fleet engineers, who were hard at work trying to open the crew quarters' doors. They didn't have a chance in hell in succeeding. Those doors weren't opening until she said so. But it was a good thing they were trying. It meant all the Star Fleet crew in Engineering was standing together in an area easily contained by a few force fields.
"Hey," she called softly to the nearest Maquis.
Kurt Bendera put down his PADD and walked over to her.
"What is it?"
"Besides Chakotay, which Maquis are on the Bridge?"
"Henley's on duty, I know that. I can't think of anyone else."
"I just sent up Tabor and Jarvin," B'Elanna said. She wiped her neck again. "I want you to lock on to their comm signals and beam them all..." she paused. "Into the corridor right outside the door."
"Didn't Chakotay say to wait for his signal?" Kurt asked.
"Yes, but I think something's gone wrong."
"Are you sure?" Kurt was obviously doubtful.
"No, but Chakotay would signal us if everything went as planned. It obvious hasn't."
"Okay, I'll do it."
It went unsaid that B'Elanna would take the blame if deviating from the plan landed them all in the Brig for the next sixty years.
Casting a glance toward the Star Fleet engineers, Kurt went up to another station. His hands worked quickly over the keypad.
"Got 'em," he called back softly.
B'Elanna nearly ran to the door. She slipped outside, letting the door swish shut before she commented on the scene that greeted her.
Tabor was unconscious. Henley was lying next to him, looking rather stunned. Jarvin was sprawled on top of her, looking bruised and even more dazed than she did. Chakotay was the only one standing, holding one arm, which was covered in ugly red blisters.
"What the hell happened?" she demanded.
"Your little toy?" He pointed to the weapon on her belt. "It explodes."
He didn't elaborate.
"Janeway's out of the picture. Everyone else is not. We have to switch to plan B."
Henley and Jarvin struggled to their feet. Jarvin tried to prop Tabor up against the wall.
"Attention all hands. Execute Alpha12Beta76," Tuvok's voice rang out over the Comm system.
"What?" asked Henley.
There was a sudden increase of noise from within Engineering.
"I think they know," Chakotay remarked grimly.
They followed B'Elanna as she stepped back into Engineering. The force field had been activated, holding over half the Star Fleet engineering crew behind it.
Not all of them.
Joe Carey was free. He was beating the unresisting body of Kurt Bendera. B'Elanna rushed to help him, weapon already drawn.
Someone hit her.
She was driven back against a console. Vorik was squeezing her wrist with one of his powerful hands, trying to make her drop the weapon. She felt the bones in her wrist begin to yield. There was a sickening crack and the weapon dropped from her fingers. Vorik's other hand reached for her throat. Just as his fingers began to close around the curve of her neck, he let go. He fell back and sank to the floor. B'Elanna stared at him.
"Torres!" Henley screamed, still aiming her phaser at Vorik.
"Shoot him!" B'Elanna screamed back, pointing with her unbroken hand to Joe Carey.
Henley turned and fired, dropping Carey and Bendera simultaneously.
The engineers behind the force field got even louder. Someone got the bright idea of shooting the force field with a phaser. The bolt ricocheted off with a sizzle and struck someone inside, judging by the resulting scream.
B'Elanna held her throbbing wrist and turned to Chakotay for directions.
"Ayala to Chakotay," came over Chakotay's comm badge.
Chakotay hit it with his burned hand, and let out a series of curses.
"What?" he bellowed.
"The Star Fleet crew are escaping their quarters."
"Some are taking the Jeffrey's Tubes. I've seen some shoot the doors open."
Chakotay couldn't believe this.
"Anyway, the corridors are full of them. What do we do?"
Chakotay cast a look at B'Elanna clutching her wrist, at Jarvin carrying Tabor, at Henley cradling Bendera on the floor. He took a loud breath that was inaudible over the shouts of the imprisoned engineers.
"Plan C," he said.
"Plan C?" screamed B'Elanna, echoed softer but with the same disbelief by Ayala and every Maquis in Engineering.
"It's coming apart," Chakotay said to B'Elanna. To Ayala he said, "Follow Plan C. Get through the corridors any way you can, even if you have to shoot everyone in sight. The weapons B'Elanna made explode after one use. They're good for one continuous beam, and can probably be used as plasma grenades. Tell all the Maquis to follow Plan C."
He ended the conversation, turning to B'Elanna.
"Kurt's dead," said Henley, rising.
"Leave him," Chakotay said, swallowing the grief that welled up inside him.
Jarvin hoisted Tabor over his shoulder, taking his weapon from his belt.
The Maquis followed Chakotay out the door, while the Star Fleet engineers worked desperately to drop the force field.
In Sickbay, Tom Paris sat on the bio-bed, feeling the simple happiness of being able to speak and be upright. The Doc had recommended he not scream anytime soon, but that was it.
"Tuvok to Sickbay. The Captain has been injured, prepare for an emergency beam out."
As Tom watched, Janeway materialized on the floor of Sickbay. She was crumpled. Her face was bloody and her uniform singed. The Doc was already setting up medical equipment.
"Mr. Paris! Pick her up and put her on a bio-bed."
Hesitantly, Tom climbed off the bio-bed, walking slowly towards her.
"Faster," the Doc ordered.
Tom knelt down and slid one hand under her back and the other under her knees. Despite the fact that she was unconscious, he swore he heard her moan in pain when he lifted her. He set her gently on the nearest bio-bed. He stared at the hole in her uniform. It looked like a wound from some sort of energy discharge. Like a phaser.
The Doc was scanning her and didn't notice when Tom started backing towards the door.
Someone had just shot the Captain. Tom had a good idea of who it was.
"Attention all hands. Execute Alpha12Beta76," Tuvok's voice came over the comm system.
Tom didn't know what that was. He didn't care.
The Doc didn't see Tom run out the door.
Part 31 | Index page