The force of the weapons fire knocked her to the floor, and with that, Lt. B'Elanna Torres of the Klingon Defense Force had had enough, and let out a loud curse to make sure everybody knew it. She finished it with, "Damn it, Chakotay! Abusing my engines is one thing, but I'd really appreciate it if your maneuvers didn't result in my broken neck!"

Despite the seriousness of the situation, the Maquis captain couldn't help but chuckle as his engineer dragged herself back into her chair from where she landed on the deck after the last volley from Gul Evek's weapons. "I'll try to keep that in mind, Torres," he said, still chuckling. "Speaking of which, how are the engines?"

She punched a few commands in her console and nodded slightly. "Still holding, thank Kahless. What the hell were you thinking, deciding to take on Evek on our own? There were three other cells at Solosos, and any of them would have been more than happy to join us."

"It's harder to hide four ships than one," he replied grimly as he entered in another sequence of evasive maneuvers. "Stealth was our option for this one."

"Well, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but I think they know we're here." She let out a short yelp when another blast from the larger Cardassian ship sent her elbow into her console. "Damn it!"

"You sure you want to leave all this fun behind?" Chakotay asked as he successfully avoided a photon torpedo.

She snorted. "That depends. Can you get us to the Badlands in one piece?" She interrupted her own statement by barking orders to engineering via the comm. "Because I doubt the Defense Force will take me back if I'm in a million pieces following Cardassian annihilation." Another blast shook the ship. "Damn it!"

He couldn't help but laugh at her limited vocabulary lately. "Damage report," he managed.

She shook her head. "A fuel line has ruptured. I'm attempting to compensate." Chakotay knew that her attempts to compensate would probably be more creative and successful than anything anyone else on the ship could manage. They would suffer by returning her to the Klingon Empire.

Another volley hit the ship. "Damn it!" she swore again. He was about suggest that she vary her curses, but the homicidal expression on her face told him that would probably be a bad idea. "We're barely maintaining impulse. We can't hold out like this."

"Be creative!" he snapped at her.

"There's only so much I can be creative with thirty-nine-year-old rebuilt engines!" she snapped back.

He sighed slightly. "Tuvok?"

"Shields are at fifty percent," the Vulcan responded.

"Suggestions?" That was directed at B'Elanna.

She thought about it for about half a second as her fingers flew over the controls. "Take weapons off-line and divert the power to shields and engines," she said. "I'm reading plasma storms a few thousand kilometers away."

"That would not be advisable, Lieutenant," Tuvok said, as impassive as ever.

"We're not making a dent in their shields, anyway!" she shot back. Turning to Chakotay, she said with a slight shrug, "You wanted creative."

He only had to think about it for a second. Tuvok was usually right when it came to tactical analyses, but nobody knew the power systems like Torres. Turning to Tuvok, he said, "Drain the phaser banks, and send the power to the impulse drive. Fire our last photon torpedoes, then shut off the launching controls. That should help the shields." To Torres, he said, "If you give me full impulse for another thirty seconds, I can get us into the Badlands."

She nodded, not needing to respond.

"Cardassian ship is not powering down. They're following us in," Tuvok declared.

"Gul Evek must feel daring today," Chakotay said with a slight chuckle as he sent the small ship around a plasma storm.

"They've taken a hit to their port side," Tuvok said. "They're sending a distress call."

"Good," Chakotay muttered. He had bigger things to worry about than Evek now. "Can you get us a course through these plasma storms, Tuvok?"

"Plasma density is high in this region," the Vulcan replied. "I can plot a course, but it will be indirect."

"Fine," Chakotay replied. "That'll give us some time to make some repairs." He heard Torres snort as he got of his seat, but he ignored her. A second later, the lights on the bridge flickered slightly. With a frown, he asked, "What was that?"

"Curious," Tuvok replied. "We appear to have passed through a coherent tetryon beam." Torres looked up in surprise; she hadn't heard of Cardassians using tetryons as weapons. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Ayala standing in the middle of the bridge, appearing to be repairing an overhead light, and barely resisted to the impulse to snap at him. While Chakotay said this would give them time for repairs, overhead lights were hardly a priority. If he had nothing to do at the operations console, she was sure someone down in engineering would be able to find a repair that he could handle. Kahless knew, there was enough to do down there. "I'm reading a massive displacement wave," Tuvok added.

"Plasma storm?" Chakotay asked, still standing behind Tuvok's chair as he checked the Vulcan's monitors himself.

"It is not a plasma phenomenon," Tuvok replied. "At current speeds, it will intercept us in thirty seconds."

Turning to Torres, Chakotay asked, "Is there anything left in those impulse generators?"

"We'll find out," she replied grimly.

"The wave is accelerating," Tuvok reported. "It will intercept us in approximately eight seconds."

Her head bent down over her console in attempts to tease any amount of energy into the propulsion systems, Torres hardly heard Tuvok's countdown to impact, but she felt it as the force sent her sprawling out of her chair. So much for returning to Nu'Daq. That was her last coherent thought before losing consciousness.

The End (until Part 4...)