Title: Phoenix Fire

Pairing: C/P (predominantly)

Chapter Ten (10/?)

Summary: The Voyager crew continues to wait. Things begin to happen. 

"Listen, brothers and sisters. This is injustice. Should I spell it out for you? I-N-J-U-S-T-I-C-E! Listen! The Feds are as sneaky as the nearest Cardassian. They mock us, murder our children and keep them in soulless brigs. But, no … they will never keep us down. We will continue to fight this injustice as long as we live. "

--- Reverend 'Anthony', a Maquis preacher.

Deep Space Nine floated in space, a majestic construction of alien steel and beauty. Ships from different parts of the galaxy congregated at this space station. It was a meeting place, DS9, a cultural and economical center. Civilians and Starfleet personnel mingled at the huge Plaza. To the casual observer, it was remarkable. People from various races meeting at one single spot, in peace and goodwill. 

Yet, to the more critical eye, the station represented controlled anxiety. Feelings of worry and nervous anticipation were contained within; stray emotions were beginning to leak out. There were more fights happening, more arrests being made and a growing sense of unease. It was not only due to the presence of the huge Sovereign-class starship currently docked at one of the berths. Federation starships were common at DS9. But rumors were going about strange experiments happening onboard the station. It seemed that the Borg was involved: the Enterprise-e was associated with Jean-Luc Picard who had once been assimilated into the Collective. 

The concentration of much so negative emotion turned DS9 into a keg of gunpowder.

*** *** ***

Captain Kathryn Janeway was becoming more and more restless. She was also getting frustrated. She knew what they were in for: the prolonged incarceration was supposed to break their spirits. She wondered if she had unwittingly stumbled into a parallel universe, where injustice was rampant. 

Gruff and Duff stuck resolutely to their posts. Kathryn grinned to her grimly. The two ensigns were products of the Federation. Congratulations, Starfleet! She thought ironically.

B'Elanna had long ceased her pacing. Now, the younger woman sat next to a distraught Harry. They both stared at the trays of food sent by Sisko as if they were facing poison. 

Kathryn worried briefly for Naomi, the youngest of them all. The little girl had fallen asleep in her mother's arm. Of all the Voyager crewmembers, Naomi was the most vulnerable. She was born in the Delta Quadrant and she had not seen the Alpha before. This must have been a sobering introduction for the girl. 

The captain glowered and rubbed her temples.

There was a soft rustle and Chakotay sat up from the makeshift bed. He looked as if he had just woken from a deep sleep. There were dark rings around his eyes and he appeared pale. He had suffered another one of the odd headaches earlier in the day. It was with a great deal of patient negotiation they managed to obtain a medical hypospray from DS9's medical staff. It was a pain in the butt talking through Gruff whose verbal skills seemed to be limited to "Yes" and "No". 

She could see how the pain was affecting the normally unruffled man. He bore the pain stoically but at times, Kathryn could see him grimacing and wincing to himself quietly. Dammit, if only the Doctor was here… She clenched her fist, feeling furious with herself.

With a growl, she turned to glare at the two stony-faced security officers.

*** *** ***

Chakotay crawled back to consciousness unwillingly. The dreams he were having were beautiful and haunting. His spirit guide was there, weaving in and out of the images like a silver ghost. Some of his dreams had Tom in them and his body ached anew with the loss he felt. 

Tom, his mind cried out, Tom, where are you?

A few of the dreams felt as if they were dredged up memories from the past. He kept on seeing the Maquis. His old friends, alive and deceased. Friends whom he knew had long since passed away appeared smiling and shaking his hand warmly. Faces, young and old, swirled about him. Old Raven's face was bruised and bloodied, a result of a Federation counter-attack. The elder's body had been lifted off from the ground when the phaser fire hit one of their ammunition huts. It was already broken when they found him. 

Raven's face had smiled at him before dissipating in some dream wind.

There were other faces and Chakotay was helpless against their onslaught.

The ones with Tom were the most beautiful. It was as if the younger man had stood beside him, kissing his neck and murmuring words of endearment into his ears. Tom was standing on his two feet in those dreams. He had never appeared so lovely: his blonde hair shone with golden highlights and his skin glistened. His blue eyes sparkled with inner amusement. 

Chakotay groaned and he awoke, only to find Kathryn and Tuvok looking at him. The captain's expression of concern was obvious. The Vulcan appeared inscrutable but the dark eyes watched him closely. 

"How do you feel?" Tuvok was the first to speak. His carefully modulated tone betrayed his concern. 

The Native American smiled slightly and pushed back the blankets. "I am alright."

Tuvok lifted his eyebrow and didn't say anything. Chakotay knew that the Vulcan was secretly satisfied with the answer.

Kathryn handed him a glass of water and Chakotay accepted it gratefully, gulping the liquid down his parched throat. Tuvok offered him food but the man shook his head. 

"Chakotay, Tuvok has a plan," Kathryn began, glancing back at Gruff and Duff. 

"A plan?" The Native American whispered back. 

They began to talk. 

*** *** ***

Lieutenant Rainer ran down some last-minute systems check on the Bridge of the Griffin. She had a few more programs to go before she could go off her shift and join her friends at DS9's famed bar. There was even a holosuite booked for a night of fun and partying. 

It was a drag working as a member of the skeleton crew. But someone had to do the job. Everyone selected grumbled under his or her breath. Yet, they still managed to work without breaking out into a riot.

There seemed to be a blockage in a minor system. 

Malfunction, Rainer cursed and bent down to her task. The blockage refused to budge. There goes my holosuite.

Her finger slid down to the 'Delete' panel.

It was odd but she suddenly recalled her summer with her gran at Iowa. The memory of butterflies fluttering about her head flashed across her mind as the console blew up in her face.

*** *** ***

Within a few seconds, the Akira-class starship erupted into flames. It was a deadly pyrotechnic show, with the hull bursting into violent orange fire, followed by three more minor explosions. 

The station crew of DS9 could only watch in horror as the Griffin broke free from her mooring, trailing fire and plasma…

Benjamin Sisko felt his heart sinking and sorrow roared in his ears. He stared at the explosions at the viewscreen.

Jean-Luc Picard managed to get his ship away from the destroyed starship. He could only pray for survivors. The sudden evasive maneuver had crewmembers and officers tumbling from their positions. In her holding cell, Seven of Nine steadied herself.

In the Infirmary of DS9, the medical staff could do nothing as the reports came pouring in. Tom Paris had heard the telltale sounds of explosions. He nodded, flexing his arms.

In the 'debriefing' room, the Voyager crew could hear the station's red alert screaming through the metal walls. There was the sound of thunder. A low boom could be heard and it was repeated three times. The beams supporting the room's infrastructure creaked alarmingly. But the Cardassian metal held. 

Chakotay glanced at Tuvok; the two men recognized the sound. 

Kathryn Janeway frowned.

The rest of the crew, the Maquis half, sat up. They too sat up, backs straight and eyes deeply aware of the situation. 

War was declared.