Part 48

Ken Dalby had forgotten what a real fight was like. It'd been a good while since he'd been on Maquis raiding parties. He'd forgotten the adrenaline rush, the thrill of the chase, and the stirring of his blood in his veins. He had *not* forgotten the feeling of complete and total fear that went along with the energy rush.

None of the other Maquis seemed to be unaccustomed to battle, for they were quick on the defensive, brutal on the offensive, and precise and methodical in the execution of Plan C. He still harbored his doubts about the effectiveness of it, but it was damn good to see the fire burning in his comrades eyes once again.

Not that this was anything like the raiding parties. They weren't rescuing anyone, supplying weapons to anyone, or even sabotaging anything. As of yet, for that last one. There was still adrenaline pulsing. He could see it in the eyes of every Maquis, as they raced through the corridors. There wasn't much chasing occurring, however. They just weren't running into many Starfleet, and when they did, Starfleet would only fire a few shots in their direction and run off.

A reaction profoundly different from the greetings they'd received on their way to free he and Suder, according to Chakotay's disturbed expression. On being questioned about why it was a bad thing that Starfleet was fleeing, Chakotay's face only darkened, and he ordered them to continue to their destination.

Halting in the Cargo Bay, Ken watched the other Maquis celebrate. They had Starfleet on the run, they thought. It was only a matter of time, they knew. Ken noticed Chakotay was still looking worried, in deep discussion with Henley and some others. When the conversation ended, the optimism had faded from Henley's face and she was barking at the rowdy Maquis to quiet down.

"Shut up! You think this is over? It's not."

As the voices dwindled, Henley stepped aside to allow Chakotay to stand before his people. Ken stared up at him, waiting to hear what he suspected would be brief admittance that Plan C was not working as well as it seemed and that the lack of Maquis-Starfleet confrontations was not because they were winning.

It was a familiar view for Chakotay, looking out on his Maquis. He'd done it thousands of times. They looked pretty much the same this time around. Except they were all wearing Starfleet uniforms. Still, they managed to look exactly like they might in their own Maquis clothing. The tears, rips, and generally scruffy condition of those uniforms helped that image along.

He cleared his throat, silencing the few remaining conversations.

"Henley's right," he said. "We can't afford to act like we've won this yet. We haven't."

At the somewhat disbelieving faces, he continued.

"Starfleet individuals aren't fighting back because they know they're out numbered. If you hadn't noticed, we've only run across of few of them, but they're all going in the same direction. They're regrouping."

He was pleased to see that some of smug faces were becoming concerned.

"You have to remember. They outnumber us. Even with those we put on the planet and those that are contained in Engineering, there are still more of them than us."

There was comprehension among the Maquis now, concentration appearing on their faces.

"We stay focused and we continue Plan C."

There was sense of general chagrin as Chakotay finished. Turning half away from the group, he commed B'Elanna, wondering where she was. He hoped her absence was not because of any of the reasons running through his mind.

"Torres. Sshhh!" she responded, irritated.

"B'Elanna, where are you?"

"I was interrupted in the Jefferies Tubes by Tom Paris. I ended up in the Sickbay, which the EMH has flooded with a sedative. I just need to get something to suppress its effects. I'll be in Cargo Bay 3 in ten minutes," she explained softly, her words slurring occasionally.

She sounded like she definitely had been effected by a sedative.

"We'll be back in Engineering in ten minutes."

"Okay, I'll be there."

"Watch yourself."

"Yeah. You too."

Chakotay turned back to his Maquis.

"We have to get going."

"I'll beam the Starfleet engineers in," said Henley, striding over to a console.

"Get back." Chakotay said to the rest. "We need space to contain them in."

The crowd moved back, leaving an open area.

With a nod from Chakotay, Henley hit a few buttons, then turned to regard the clearing.

The familiar buzz filled the Cargo Bay as the Starfleet engineers materialized. Several Maquis trained their weapons on the beam in site.

It took a moment for the Engineers to comprehend where they were, and another for them to realize just who was standing around them. This resulted in a delayed, but spontaneous drawing of phasers.

Ensign Brooks, standing in the front, raised her phaser and pressed the firing button, straight at Chakotay's chest.

Nothing happened.

She hit it again and again, gaping at it, trying to discern a visible malfunction.

"Your weapons were deactivated while you were transporting. Sorry, they won't help you," he said, addressing the whole group but looking at Brooks.

Brooks' face fell, rage filling her eyes. She whipped up her arm and hurled the phaser at his head with considerable power. It glanced off his forehead. He felt it pierce the skin, blood welling up and dripping down the bridge of his nose.

Instantly moving to his defense, Henley shoved the barrel of her phaser rifle into Brook's face.

Chakotay raised his hand to blot his head, eyeing Brooks with menace.

"Don't waste your power cells, Henley."

Henley nodded, keeping the rifle up and using it to shove Brooks closer to the rest.

He saw that the Engineers had heard his words, and translated them to mean he wasn't going to shoot them.

"I'd prefer you set for on one wide beam and take them all out, not one by one," he said, louder.

"If," he continued. "They don't hand over their weapons without using them as projectiles."

Slowly, with reluctance, their phasers were tossed, landing one by one on the floor in front of them.

"Thank you."

He nodded to Ayala, who quickly erected a force field around the Engineering crew. Some of the other Maquis picked up the surrendered weapons.

"Reactivate them," he said. "We can use them."

He turned back to the crew behind the force field,

"You may have already figured out what's happening. We're taking this ship. When this is over, you will no longer be on this ship."

He'd had a hell of a lot better speech prepared, but he didn't have time to give it.

"You," he said to three of the Maquis, "Keep guard."

"Henley, Dalby, and Suder, you're with me to Engineering. The rest of you go with Ayala and try to find out where Starfleet's trying to set up a command center. Be careful."

He shouldered his weapon then, walking out of the Cargo Bay, followed by the three he'd instructed to accompany him.

Ayala passed out the newly acquired weapons. He wondered why some of the captive crew appeared to have burns and singed uniforms. He knew Torres had contained them behind a force field in Engineering and guessed she had modified it to make their stay unpleasant.

He headed out, phaser rifle ready.

Part 49 | Index page