Part 31

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A steady flow of water slid down Samantha Wildman's neck. The makeshift shelter constructed out of storage cartons and hard packaging sheets did nothing to keep out the rain. When she'd swore to protect Naomi with the archaic saying 'over hell and high water', she hadn't expected to actually have to deal with cascading sheets of water. In her lap, Naomi shifted, trying to find a dry area on her increasingly soggy uniform.

"Mom, I'm wet," Naomi whimpered.

"I'm wet, too," Samantha responded.

"Why don't we go back to Voyager. It's not raining there," Naomi's voice took on a whine.

"No. We're not going back to Voyager just because it's raining."

There's something much worse than rain on Voyager, Samantha thought, unconsciously holding Naomi closer.

Naomi didn't appreciate the squeeze, turning to the other adult in the shelter.

"Neelix, don't you want to go back to Voyager?"

"No, Naomi. I don't."

Naomi's face fell. Her chin set into a deep pout. Neelix regarded the irritated child.

"Naomi, how you would like to go for a walk?"

"We'll get wetter!"

"Rain can't hurt you. Come on, Naomi. I'll tell you all about the rain Golpers on Talax."

As Neelix lifted Naomi off her mother's lap and guided her out the flap in the makeshift tent, he saw Samantha mouth 'thank you'.

Neelix and Naomi were only half a mile away from the beam down site and the rain was lightening up. Naomi was deeply entranced by Neelix's story. As he told it, she looked up into the clearing sky.

"Neelix, what's that?"

"What's what?"

"That."

Naomi pointed up into the sky, where a dark shape tumbled though the few remaining clouds, sending up heaps of dark smoke when it landed beyond the horizon.

"There's another one." Naomi's finger traced the path of the next object. "And another. There are a lot of them. Neelix, what are they?"

"I don't know, Naomi. Let's go back to your mom, okay?"

"I thought you wanted to go for a walk," Naomi protested, lurching after Neelix, unable to keep up with his sudden quick pace. She let him pull her in the opposite direction, her head turning to peer at the increasing number of falling objects filling the sky.

The first thing Tom Paris saw when he exited Sickbay was the battle in corridor. Two people, one presumably Maquis, the other presumably Star Fleet, firing at each other from behind the turns at the opposite ends of the corridor. Two phaser bolts flew by him. Tom slammed up against the wall. He suddenly realized he had no safe exit in this hall. He didn't know which end held the Maquis fighter and which end held the Star Fleet fighter. Staying flat against the wall, he inched back into Sickbay.

"Back again, Mr. Paris?" asked the Doc, apparently aware of his patient's exit.

"Doc, I think you're about to get a hell of a lot more patients."

"So I'm told, Mr. Paris." There was considerable sadness in that reply, but the Doc stoically continued his treatment of the Captain.

Tom searched the ceiling for the recognizable mark of a Jeffrey's Tube opening. When he found it, he climbed up on a bio-bed and opened the hatch. As he boosted himself through it, he called a farewell to the people below.

"Goodbye, Doc. Bye, Captain."

Tom Paris mentally drew up the well-know path to the Shuttle Bay. He started crawling, on his way off the ship.

In another part of the ship, Chakotay boosted B'Elanna up into another Jeffrey's Tube entrance. She had considerable difficulty doing for herself, her right wrist now a swollen mass.

"B'Elanna, are you sure you can cut of the power from there?" he asked.

"Yes. I wouldn't have put in Plan C if I couldn't."

"Can you do with one hand?"

A pause.

"Yes. It's just going to take me longer."

Chakotay closed the hatch, hearing B'Elanna begin to crawl away. There was sudden outburst of Klingon curses as she discovered she had to crawl with only one hand.

Part 32 | Index page