Title: Come of Age
Author: Annette Welsh-Shinya 01/99
Series: VOY
Part: 19/?
Rating: R
Codes: P/T, K/7, EMH Doc, Neelix, Vorik, Naomi Wildman
Summary: Spoilers for Night and 30 Days. After an encounter with a hostile species, most of the crew of Voyager is scattered throughout a region of space as prisoners. Tom Paris leads what's left of the crew in an attempt to recover their missing members.
Disclaimer: Paramount's property, my story, who wants to go a round with the Bat'leths?
Feedback: Encouragement/criticism gladly responded to. Flames will be consigned to the nearest airlock where proper venting procedures per Starfleet Engineering regulations will be followed.
Posting: OK to ASC, ASCEM, BLTS, & PT Fever. Please notify me if you post anywhere else...I love to see my name in lights!


Seven sent Dell down a corridor to place a bomb while she kept guard at the intersection with another main corridor. They'd run into several guards that they'd had to take out, so she wasn't going to take any chances. This was their last device to place. Dell came back up and they moved hurriedly down the passage toward the entrance to the prisoners' quarters. Coming to the rendezvous point, they found that Tom and Vorik had not yet arrived. Seven scanned the wall next to her then pried open a wall panel and activated a door mechanism. Dell and she were inside a moment later. It looked like a large storage closet. She directed Dell to keep the door open a fraction and watch for Paris and Vorik. Scanning the room, she found little of interest, so she went back to working on scanning the belt that Tom had taken from the Guard. She had an idea on how to make the device even more useful to them.

Vorik called in a low voice to Tom, "This is the last one to set, sir."

Tom scrambled up from the floor where he was placing the device and pushed down the floor panel. Making his way over to Vorik, who had just finished setting his own device, he replied, "Let's get going to the meeting place, Vorik. We're late."

Moving as fast as they dared, they rounded a corner and were confronted by two guards. Tom fired his phaser and so did Vorik. Both Tom and Vorik's shots hit the guards, unfortunately, the guard on the left was as fast as them. Vorik took a hit in the torso, high and to the right side of his chest. The force of the impact caused him to fall down, bleeding profusely from the sonic discharge.

Tom very briefly checked that the guards were out of action, then ran to Vorik, stripping off his field medikit and taking out his tricorder. It was a jagged wound. Sonic weapons were effective, but inaccurate in their aim and caused horrific, painful wounds. He stabilized the tissue and began to seal the wound. It would be a superficial, temporary fix, and Vorik would need to be treated immediately upon returning to Voyager, but he would live. After concealing the guards in a room, Tom helped Vorik up and they made their way to the rendezvous.

As they approached the meeting place, Tom got out his tricorder and scanned. There appeared to be movement of large groups of people in the arena area. Good, they'd caught a break and the games had gone on longer than they had expected. Looking around, he didn't see Seven or Dell, then a door opened and the two were there.

"Dell, come here and help Vorik," Tom called to John. Dell slid one arm around Vorik and supported him to where he could prop himself up against a wall in the supply room. Taking up a lookout, Dell visually scanned the corridor over and over again.

Seven came up to Tom and said, "We've completed placing our portion of the devices. We did not have much interference in our work, but we did have to subdue several guards. It appears that you were confronted, also."

"We ran into a little trouble when we were on our way here," replied Tom. "The crowd's on the move now, so we need to get ready."

"Will Ensign Vorik be able to respond when it is time?" asked Seven, concern in her voice.

"He'll have to," Tom said shortly, but he looked at Vorik and Seven could see worry in his eyes.

Tom and Seven went over to where Vorik was propped against the wall. Taking his rifle off of his shoulder, Tom said, "Now we come to the hard part. We're going to have to make some modifications on our plan to get through the guards at the entrance of the prisoners' quarters."

"I can still make the diversion, sir," Vorik's voice was raspy, but firm.

"Not a chance, Vorik," came Tom's reply. "You start dancing around, and you'll open up that wound of yours again. I don't have any Vulcan compatible plasma with me, and if you lose any more fluids, you're going to pass out. Keep your attention on staying upright and moving when we tell you. You're out of the action for now, got it?" He smiled at Vorik to try to ease the harshness of his speech.

"Yes, sir," Vorik replied, and Tom could swear there was disappointment in his voice, though no one else seemed to mark it.

"I may have a solution to our dilemma," Seven offered.

"I'm open to suggestions at this point, Seven," Tom said as he re-scanned with his tricorder. Dell looked nervous as he kept watch. Tom nodded at him encouragingly and turned back to Seven.

"I have spent some time scanning this belt device and have found another application for it," Seven explained. "I believe that I can modify it to send out a signal along its network to the devices of the other guards in the area of the prisoners' quarters to direct them to other areas."

"Can you use it to prod the guards we stunned to unconsciousness?" asked Tom.

"I can send a very strong signal out using the pain compliance mode. It should be enough to wake those guards that were not killed in our insertion effort," Seven answered.

"Seven, I think the Voyager miracle workers club has a new member," Tom said clasping her by the shoulders. "Make the modifications and let's go."

Seven looked pleased by Tom's approval for a moment, then made the necessary alterations to the belt device. She spoke, "It is ready."

Tom said, "The crowd has moved out of the arena and has dispersed. I can't get a more accurate reading on whether there are any individuals left in the corridors because of the shielding. I think that we'll just have to go with what we have. I'm activating the seeker program now and starting the alarm. When I'm done, Seven, I want you to send our friends on a trip outside the complex to assist in the emergency. I want this building to be completely cleared as possible before we blow it."

"Yes, sir," answered Seven.

The confusion then began. An alarm klaxon sounded and the lights flickered and took on an orangish color. The Voyager crew members left their hiding place and proceeded down the corridor to the prisoners' quarters. There were no guards around, so Seven's plan had apparently worked. They turned down the last corridor, and there was a group of people near the entrance to the prisoners' quarters. Tom recognized Administrator Cline's distinctive robe in the group. They appeared to be very agitated. Approaching them soundlessly, he motioned for Seven and Dell to fan out beside him. Vorik remained in the rear, watching for any movements behind them.

"Hold right where you are, Administrator Cline," called Tom. "You know I won't hesitate to kill any one of you if you move at all."

Cline looked up in alarm and almost staggered. "Captain Paris, what is the meaning of this. Are you responsible for this alarm?" She appeared to be intoxicated, but attempting to understand and respond to the situation.

Tom just walked up and grasped her by the arm and said, "You've got it, lady." He gestured to the rest of the group, which included two other Administrators and Controller Nara. "You people, drop your weapons here and get out of this building. You'll be very disappointed if you stay. I won't give you another opportunity to leave."

The two Administrators hurriedly dropped their weapons under the watchful eye of Seven and Dell and left. Nara moved a little slower and she kept the dagger that Vorik had *given* her in her hand. Looking contemptuously at Seven and Dell, she walked over to where Vorik had propped himself up against another wall. She slid one hand down his face and cupped his cheek then brought up the dagger. Dell made to phaser Nara, but Tom held up his hand and shook his head. Nara then handed the dagger back to Vorik and kissed him hard. Then, she turned and made her way quickly down the corridor and never looked back. Vorik watched her as she went out of sight.

Tom tugged Cline down to the entrance of the prisoners' quarters and tapped his communicator, "Paris to Neelix."

"Neelix here." The comm system was scratchy due to the shielding, but the modifications that they had made to their communicators were enough to get the signal through.

"We're at the entrance to the prisoners' quarters. Standby to blow the wall."

"Acknowledged, Mr. Paris," replied Neelix. And he motioned to Sawra, who turned to O'Connell and Blake and began the final adjustments to the explosives set next to the wall.

"Why did you allow the other Administrators and Controller Nara to escape?" asked Seven.

"We need someone to tell the rest of the Council that we hold their leader as hostage," explained Tom as he put Cline in Dell's custody and went back to examine the doorway to the prisoners' quarters. "It'll keep them from mounting an immediate attack while they try to think of a way to take us out. What to you think? A grenade or phaser blast?"

Seven looked appraisingly at the very strong doors and gave a quick scan with her tricorder. "Two grenades placed here and here," she pointed.

"You do that one, I'll do this one," Tom directed as he took a photonic grenade from his belt. Seven set hers and they moved back around the corridor. Tom sent the fire signal from his tricorder and a very loud explosion was heard, smoke and particulates from the fallout making their way around the corner to where they stood.

Coming back to the doorway, there was a large gaping hole in the door and cracks in the walls next to it. Tom and Seven made the entry first, checking for any guards. There were two and they quickly phasered them. They were not dressed in the *Praetorian Guard* outfits, but in a straight yellow costume, so Tom assumed that there were special guards just for the prisoners. He motioned for Dell to bring Cline in and Vorik followed them. They moved through the corridors, looking for the door or doors that would lead them to where the prisoners were being held. It was more than just a prison, Tom noted. They opened doors on rooms that looked liked gymnasiums and weight training rooms. There was one room that looked like a sort on infirmary, but there was no one in it. Opening one door, he noted that it was very cold in the room and there were drawers on one side of the wall. He ducked into the room and opened one of the drawers. It held the body of a very dead alien, its features almost completely torn away from the violence that had been done to it. The morgue. Tom backed out of the room quickly and gestured for them to go on. Finally, they came to another set of double doors, which also had guards next to them. They phasered one of them, but Tom kept the other under cover of his phaser and demanded, "Where are the prisoners held?"

The guard just shook his head as if not understanding him. Tom realized that the translation program the Ibesians used also excluded this level of guards. His modified communicator did not have Universal Translator functions, and within the heavily shielded building it was unable to access the ship's computer. Shaking his head with disgust at having overlooked this aspect of the plan, he phasered the guard into unconsciousness.

Seven had been examining the doors and turned to Tom, "I believe that these doors are only secured from the inside using manual locks, and we can disable them very quickly."

"Do it," Tom commanded and covered her while she opened the doors.

The doors opened into a corridor that had cells on either side of it. The walls were comprised of grids of some dark metal that looked very strong. Aliens of different races were housed in these cells. Some looked up when the Voyager crew came by, others paid no attention to them. Moving quickly down the corridor, they came to some larger cells, where groups of prisoners were held. The length of the holding area was immense. There were literally hundreds of prisoners here. Tom looked at Seven and said, "Scan for Humans. They probably will have kept the Voyager people together." At least he hoped it was the case. They didn't have that much time to locate them. If they had taken the non-Human Voyager crew members away from the Humans, it would take a long time to scan such an area looking for them.

Seven scanned and stated, "There are Human readings coming from the cells toward the west wall of the holding area, sir."

"Move out," called Tom to Dell and Vorik, and they made their way over to where the Humans were being held.

The cell walls, before they reached the Humans' cell, were made of a solid material, so they could not see what was around the corner. Tom and Seven took up defensive positions on the left wall and quickly came around the corner with their rifles up and ready to fire. The corridor dead-ended in the large holding cell that contained the Voyager crew members. The occupants were sitting or laying in various parts of the cell. Tom was utterly horrified to see that many had injuries that had not been attended to. He frantically scanned the cell as Seven was bent over working on the lock. He finally spotted the man he was looking for. Harry had gotten up from the wall he had leaned against and was slowly approaching the door to the cell. He had an expression of puzzlement on his face, then it gradually changed to one of amazement as he got closer.

"Harry!," called Tom urgently, his face a mixture of happiness, concern and determination.

"Hi, Tom," replied Harry fairly calmly as he came up to where Tom stood next to the grid. "About time you showed up." His voice tried to be bantering, but there was a little catch in it.

"Well, Harry," Tom replied, his own voice very tight. "I had a little difficulty locating you. The next time you want to take a field trip, just let us know where you're going, OK?"

"Sure, Tom," Harry gave a ghost of a smile. He turned and said, "Don't waste time trying to pick the lock, there's a guard station around the corner to the right that has the locks on a central command...What the hell is she doing here?" Harry had finally noticed that the crew member busily trying to open the lock was Seven.

"Her job," Tom replied with his well-honed command voice. Harry looked up at him in surprise then back at Seven in consternation. "What about this guard station?"

"It's just around the corner to the right," Harry explained. "There's a central command panel that will open the doors to the individual cells, and one that will open all the cells. I saw it once when I was being moved for training. The only problem is, I bet you'll have to have command code access to unitize it."

"Don't worry about that, Har," Tom said. "Vorik knows a command sequence. I'll have Seven and him get on it. In the meantime, get all your people ready to go. Are all of the Voyager people in this cell?"

"What's left of us," replied Harry with a tight voice. Vorik? he wondered as he directed the crew members still ambulatory to help those who weren't. Since when did he go on away missions? For that matter, wad To that Dell holding the Ibesian hostage? He was a very lowly ensign in Security, and Harry had hardly even spoken to him the whole time he'd been on Voyager. What was going on?

Seven studied Harry for a long moment before bending to her task. He had not seen her, and she drank in his appearance. As ragged and bloody as it was, he was a wonderful sight for her. He was alive, that was all that mattered. The conflict and accusations that she knew were coming her way would be hard, but she had succeeded in finding him and was going to restore him to his rightful place. After that, well she had no illusions about where she was headed. She then helped Vorik to the guard station and began the scans to see which control would open the cell containing the Voyager crew members. Success was soon theirs and they made their way back to the cell.

Tom was directing all the humans back into the corridor and helping the ones that were staggering past him. "Keep moving out to the first turn, then wait," he called to them.

Harry came up beside him. "We're not going out that way, are we?"

"Nope," replied Tom with a grin. "We're taking you out the back door."

"Tom, there is no back door," Harry replied, an echo of the patient, but what the hell are you talking about voice of months ago.

"There will be," Tom answered back, pleased that Harry was at least attempting to relate to him in the old way. Things had changed and were going to continue to change for him, and it would be hard. "Paris to Neelix."

"Neelix here," replied the Talaxian, giving the ready signal to the team by the wall.

"We're all set here," Tom said. "Fire when ready."

"Aye, sir," said Neelix. "Give me about thirty seconds, then prepare for the impact. Neelix out."

Harry moved down the corridor with Tom and said, "Neelix?"

"He's Head of Security," replied Tom as they turned the corner and flattened themselves up against the far wall. Harry just shook his head.

The explosion was loud and rocked the end of the building. A great noise came up from the holding cells and Tom had to yell over it to get the crew moving again. Moving toward the west wall, they made their way to where another gaping hole in the architecture had appeared. Neelix's team appeared at the hole and began to assist the crew through the opening. Tom motioned to Neelix and said, "There are four guards out cold in the entry hallway to the holding cells. Take a couple of crew down to fetch them outside. When they're done, I'll open the cells and let the other prisoners out. I'm going to let Voyager know we're out here and ready for transport."

"Aye, sir," said Neelix, and motioned to O'Connell and Sawra to follow him.

"Paris to Voyager."

"Voyager, Torres here," B'Elanna's voice was professional, but had relief in it just the same.

"We've freed the prisoners and we're setting up the personal pattern enhancers now. Standby for transporter sequences," Tom said with satisfaction.

"Acknowledged," replied B'Elanna happily, and notified the transporter rooms.

"Ensign Dell," called Tom. Dell brought his prisoner over to where Tom stood next to the hole the wall. "Take Administrator Cline up in the first group with Vorik. Get her a nice private cell next to the Vandals in the Brig."

"Yes, sir," smiled Dell tightly as he escorted Cline none too gently to the area being set up for transport.

"Seven," Tom yelled over the confusion. "What's the word on the evacuation of the arena complex?"

"The Ibesians have put out another general alarm and the buildings next to the arena complex are being evacuated also, sir" replied Seven as she came up to Tom and Harry. She did not look at Harry, who stared at the uniform she was wearing. "Their estimates have all the occupants except the prisoners out of the complex. The false readings that there are explosives planted all around the access points of the prisioner holding area have been accepted as true and they have no plans to try to rescue them."

"Great," enthused Tom. He tapped his commbadge, "Paris to Neelix, have you evacuated those guards yet?"

"Yes, sir," Neelix responded. "The holding area has been cleared of Starfleet personnel and we're just coming out ourselves."

Tom saw Neelix appear at the opening in the wall and make his way with O'Connell and Sawra to the beam-out point. He noted that most of the crew had already been transported to the ship. "Harry," Tom turned to Kim. "Get your butt up to the ship. We'll take care of the rest."

"I want to stay and help," Harry said with an intense voice, slightly challenging.

Tom looked at Harry for a moment and then turned to Seven. "Ensign Seven," he said, his voice taking on his strong command tone. "Escort Ensign Kim to the beam-out point and make sure he's transported to the ship and referred immediately to Sickbay." Tom turned back to Harry and said, "You've just been through a battle that would have killed most people, Harry. You're in no shape to keep up with us now. It's almost over anyway," Tom added looking at Harry intently. "You already did your part by surviving. Now get up to the ship. I'll fill you in later on the details."

Harry stood gazing at Tom for a moment, then nodded and turned to walk slowly over to the transport site. Seven followed him, saying nothing. Tom noted that as they stood waiting for transport, Harry did not look at Seven once. In fact, he stared straight ahead, as if ignoring her very existence. This was going to be a hard one, Tom thought to himself.

End Part 19