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Wrong Train To Federation City

Wrong Train To Federation City (pt 1)
Jules — 7 Oct 1998, 8:13 PM

Marshal Tuvok thought that Miss Julie looked a little grim as she stood on the station platform to take her leave of the two detectives from the Hirogen Detective Agency, who were scheduled to depart that day on the Delta Flyer, providing escort duty for the money that the bank was sending to the secure vaults of the First Federation in Federation City now that the race meeting was over. He observed her face carefully, with concern. Her eyes had a dark, smudged look to them, as if she had not been getting enough sleep, and she was not as impeccably dressed as he would have expected of her. The dress she wore was, according to his recollection of ladies fashions, at least three seasons old and a little shabby looking. In fact, he could not remember her wearing it since the annual town picnic to mark the occasion of the Declaration of Independence two summers before.

Her hair was also coming down, but that was normal.

"This must have been a most stressful time for you," he said, attempting to make short talk. "However, it would seem that the crisis has been averted and is now at an end. Within two days the bank's capital will have reached Federation City. And in the meantime, I believe that it has an entirely satisfactory escort upon its journey." He turned to gaze over at the two Hirogen detectives, who were stamping their feet and blowing on their fingers to warm them in the cool desert air. It was barely dawn, although the Delta Flyer was expected at any moment. It was a long journey to Federation City.

"Hmm," said Miss Julie, non committally. It seemed to her that Detective Magnum, with his gun arm heavily strapped up and in a sling, couldn't really be expected to provide much more than moral support. But she followed it up with, "I understand that you're taking the train yourself, Marshal?"

"Indeed I am, Miss Julie. I have been communicating by wire with the Hirogen Detective Agency's district administrator for this area, one Artemis Gordon, in the aftermath of the regrettable incident at the bank. He* intends to take a train to Defiant City and meet our train there tonight, returning to Federation City with us on the Delta Flyer."

"So, there'll be additional security from Defiant City..." said Julie, almost to herself.

"Indeed. But not just for the bank." Tuvok looked around him, almost furtively, to see if there was anyone within earshot, and gestured that Miss Julie should draw closer. In a lowered voice he continued, "I understand that there will also be a gold shipment on the train, from the Horta Mine at Janus."

Julie looked faintly alarmed. "Should you be telling me this?"

"Naturally not, Miss Julie. But I believe that I can trust your discretion with information of a confidential nature, and I wished to reassure you that your money would be safe."

Poor Tuvok, thought Julie as the Delta Flyer chugged into the station and pulled to a halt with an ear splitting screech of brakes. He actually believes it will be. Me, I've more trust in the Alpha and Delta Railroad's transit insurance.

* Okay, so Tuvok got it wrong. Don't worry, Diane. He'll figure it out when he meets Detective Gordon face to face!

Wrong Train To Federation City (pt 2)
Jules — 7 Oct 1998, 8:16 PM

"Miss Julie!" She was swung around on the station platform by Nicholas Locarno, in breezy good spirits. Detective Magnum grinned at his elbow, although the deep shadows under his eyes indicated that he was still in some considerable pain from the bullet wound to his shoulder. It had broken his upper arm, and Doc Holliday had operated long into the night to piece the shattered fragments back together again. For a time he had thought that he might have to amputate."**

"Come to see us off?" asked Locarno.

"You... and my money." She nodded to the train, where her bank clerk Rom was loading the sacks into the safe car, under the marshal's watchful eye.

"Yes. Well hopefully that little episode is over now. And you can trust us to look after your money the rest of the way as if our lives depended upon it."

"I'm sure I can," she responded, reaching out to shake the hand that Locarno offered her. In spite of her mood and apprehensions, she was unable to resist a brief flash of amusement when he dipped a bow over it, and flashed her his most dazzling charming smile one more time.

Isn't it funny, she thought. Tom does a bow just like... Then she collected her thoughts.

"Goodbye gentlemen," she said, and gave a polite nod of farewell to Detective Magnum. "It's been... well, not always a pleasure, but certainly interesting knowing you."

Nicholas Locarno helped his colleague up into the train, then turned back for one last parting word. "Perhaps we'll meet again."

"Indeed," she agreed. "In fact, I'm sure of it."

And the last she saw of him as the train pulled out of the station and build up a head of steam to power it up the long slow climb towards Defiant City, was the quizzical expression on his face as he stared back down the track, wondering just what she might have meant by that.

** But he didn't. Don't shoot me, Cowgirl Vickie! Magnum will make a full recovery!

Wrong Train To Federation City (pt 3)
Jules — 7 Oct 1998, 8:19 PM

Pausing only to give some last minute instructions to Rom, who would be running the bank that day in her absence, Julie left the station and hurried across the main street to the livery stables. She blinked a little upon entering its dark and dusty interior, then whistled cautiously. Tom Janeway popped his head around a stall and grinned at her.

"Train get off okay? You ready to roll?"

"More or less. Is that stall over there free? Give me a minute, then." She disappeared briefly, and returned holding an armful of fine linen and lace. "Just divesting myself of half a dozen layers of petticoats. I can't ride in them, but it would have looked awfully odd if I'd gone to the station dressed like this."

Tom gave her a casual glance and shrugged. "Oh, I don't know. I like the natural look. You practically need to blackmail B'Elanna into wearing more than minimal petticoats under her dress at the best of times. And Lee-Marie just wears trousers. You look fine. So I guessed right then? You plan on riding astride rather than with the side-saddle?"

"You were the one who said that if we were riding fast in rocky terrain it would be suicidal for the horse to have its centre of gravity off balance, remember? You said something about 'faster' as well, as I recall. Don't worry; I still remember how. I've not been a good girl for that long. Any idea where I can put these?"

Tom's blue-grey eyes danced wickedly, eyeing her bundle of skirts. "Give them to me and I'll put them in Larson's front office. Might cause a bit of a sensation if anybody finds them there, but you'll get them back okay. Just don't tell anyone that I put them there for you or B'Elanna'll have my hide."

"Isn't she coming too? I thought..."

"She went ahead last night. Left at dusk with Liberty, Intrepid and your horse. The plan was that she was going to camp out in the foothills, at the far edge of the Nekrit Expanse. There's plenty of places there where you can camp unseen, even with three horses, and get a good view of the terrain for miles around. We discussed it, and decided that with the hard riding we're planning on doing today, we'll most likely need a change of horses."

Julie nodded, busy with hairpins as she pulled her already descending hair out of its normal bun, and tied it back out of the way instead. "So, if B'Elanna's taken Cochrane on ahead, what am I riding now?"

"I'm taking Drake. I've brought Sacajawea for you." He saw the doubt in her face. Despite her bold words, Julie wasn't the rider that he or B'Elanna was, and she was used to her own horse. "We thought it best that way; Cochrane's more Liberty and Intrepid's speed. Don't worry, you'll like her. She's got good manners, nice smooth paces, and I've never heard anyone at the Delta Q say a bad word about her." He thought for a moment, his forehead creasing into a frown. "Well, apart from Chakotay that is. But that doesn't count."

Julie edged into the stall he'd indicated, and ran her hand down the neck of the strawberry roan mare, relaxing slightly as Sacajawea turned a wise and placid eye to her and whickered softly in greeting. She sighed, untied the mare, and led her out. "I guess we'd better be on our way then."

Tom was already swinging himself into the saddle of the tall dark gelding Drake, black as night apart from his four white socks and the faintest pinprick of a star on the whorl of hair above and between his eyes. He leaned back, placing a hand on his horse's rump as Julie mounted, fixing her with a concerned look.

"I still think you're overreacting."

"Whereas I merely hope I am," Julie said grimly. "Still, it's my call... and my turn to call in a favour. Let's do it."

Within minutes they were racing away across the Nekrid Expanse and towards the foothills of the Venus range. Far to their right, the Delta Flyer was a receding pinprick in the distance.

Wrong Train To Federation City (pt 4)
Jules — 7 Oct 1998, 8:24 PM

Marshal Tuvok believed himself to be a man not easily roused to emotion, but he had to confess that he was somewhat concerned at the irregularity of the arrangements upon the Delta Flyer.

The two detectives from the Hirogen Agency had been commendably thorough in their attention to duty, sticking close to the Boothby & Jellico safe in the freight car which housed the money in transit from Miss Julie's bank. They were polite, personable, and alert. He had no complaints about them even if, like Miss Julie, he seriously doubted that the injured Detective Magnum would be much use in a fight if anything untoward should happen.

No, his problem was with the occupants of the next car.

The Treasury Department had seen fit to send a compliment of Starfleet Cavalry along to protect the high grade gold bars from the Horta mine that were currently on route to Federation City, and from there onwards east across the country to their final destination at Fort Knox. Tuvok approved of the precaution. He didn't however approve of the Cavalry Officers in question, who seemed altogether too much the worse for drink for his liking. Also, they had a lady in there with them.

Or perhaps, he thought, lifting one eyebrow, terming her a 'lady' might be... somewhat imprecise.

Jacqueline Sito slid her way around the door into their car and smiled at them. She wore rather less feathers and more jewellery than was normal at either Quark's bar, or even Madame Maxine's, but there was no mistaking the cut of that fine silk dress.

"I'm just on my way to the buffet car to fetch more drinks for my gentlemen," she said. She smiled, with a joyous radiance that lit up the entire room. Even Tuvok noticed it. "Can I get you gentlemen something while I'm there?"

Tuvok and Detective Locarno hastily declined. "But my partner here would appreciate a whiskey, if it's not too much trouble," added Locarno, looking across at Detective Magnum with some concern. He was perspiring slightly, and looked faintly feverish.

"I shouldn't, Nick," he said, faintly protesting.

"No, go ahead. It's medicinal, after all."

Doc Holliday had suggested that it might be best if Magnum waited a little longer before travelling. When the detective had calmly reiterated his intention to join the scheduled train, he had thrown up his hands in exasperation, declaring, "I strongly advise you to rest. I will not be held responsible for the consequences. Are members of the Hirogen Detective Agency always this difficult?"

Locarno had given some glib reply, but Tuvok hadn't caught it.

Miss Sito came back with Detective Magnum's drink, which to be fair did go some way towards restoring his colour. She then returned to her 'gentlemen', and Tuvok settled himself back into his seat and began a light doze, in the course of which he found himself composing a succinct and eloquent note to Red Squad's commanding officer on the subject of their abhorrent behaviour.

He was only woken from this happy pastime when the train slammed to an abrupt and unscheduled halt.

Wrong Train To Federation City (pt 5)
Jules — 7 Oct 1998, 8:27 PM

"What happened? Where are we?" Tuvok was instantly alert.

"We're somewhere in the foothills of the Mountains of Venus," said Nick Locarno. He had slid open the side door of the freight car slightly, and was peering cautiously up the track. "Probably no more than an hour out of Defiant City. As to what happened, at a first guess, I'd say somebody just tipped half a mountain off that cliff up there, in front of our train."

Tuvok peered out over his shoulder. "Ah yes. Kolvoord's Bluff. The shape of the peak is unmistakeable."

"Really?" enquired Locarno, but without much real interest. "In any case, the drivers have got their shovels out and are attempting to dig a way through to the clear track ahead, but it's my guess that we'll be receiving company any minute now, so they might as well save their efforts."

"From which I surmise that you do not believe this rockfall to have been a natural phenomenon."

Locarno got that cocky grin on his face that had annoyed Tuvok since the moment he'd met him. "I do not. And if you'll excuse me saying so, neither do you, Marshal Tuvok."

"Here they come," put in Detective Magnum, bright eyed with fever but still alert. "Horses approaching from the rear. Lots of them."

He fumbled for his gun with his left hand. Nick Locarno's gun had appeared in his hand as if by magic. Marshal Tuvok followed their example, after prudently sliding the door to and bolting it.

For a time all they could do was listen, and try to guess at what was going on. There was movement and shouting, even a little gunfire, but then everything went quiet again. Tuvok looked across at Locarno and raised an eyebrow in silent query. The detective shrugged.

Then there was a shout from directly outside their car.

"Open the door, throw your guns out, and then come out yourselves with your hands over your head! Nice and sloooow!"

"And what if we don't choose to?" Nick Locarno yelled back through the door.

"Then we shoot this nice lady we've got standing out here! And if that don't fetch you, we drill a few holes in the side of this car! Figure you can't duck forever! If we shoot enough, one of them's bound to get you!"

Tuvok looked at Locarno. Locarno looked at Magnum. Magnum looked at Tuvok.

"He's got a point," Magnum said, somewhat reluctantly. His fellow lawmen nodded grimly. "I guess we'd better do as he says."

They climbed wearily down from the rail car. A grinning black man who was addressed once or twice as Ben reached down and collected their guns, adding them to the bagful he already had. The place was bristling with guns, and a good half of them were pointing at a sobbing Jacqueline Sito. That changed the moment the lawmen emerged. From that point on the majority were pointing directly at them. Two of the gang - a nondescript man and a brown haired woman - shouldered them aside. The woman crawled into the car they had just vacated, then turned back to receive the parcel of dynamite which her companion was holding rather gingerly. When she had taken it from him, he too jumped inside.

Most of the passengers appeared to have been herded forward toward the engine, where they were effectively trapped from fleeing further by the fallen rocks. Their number included the Starfleet Cavalry squad, all of them looking rather the worse for wear. By the looks of things, the outlaws had already got the gold out of its car and were busy loading as much of it as they could carry onto their pack horses. Tuvok thought he recognised one of the outlaws doing the loading.

"That's 'Slim' Sam Lavelle," hissed Detective Magnum in his ear, seeing the direction his eyes had taken. "And the guy doing all the talking is Wes 'the Kid' Crusher. I guess that makes this the Nova Gang. We're in big trouble."

Wes Crusher laughed, overhearing them. "You were expecting maybe the Krenim Gang?"

Wrong Train To Federation City (pt 6)
Jules — 7 Oct 1998, 8:30 PM

"Perhaps," acknowledged Marshal Tuvok. "It would have been the logical conclusion."

Crusher laughed. "What, because they tried to rob your bank in Voyager City two days ago? It was a put up job. We paid them to do it... and to take a dive. All to lull you into a false sense of security so that you wouldn't expect this. And it worked, didn't it?"

Marshal Tuvok took a deep breath and kept his cool. "This train is due to pull in to the station at Defiant City in precisely 47 minutes. At that time, the alarm will be raised, and a posse will be dispatched immediately."

Wes Crusher heaped scorn on that idea. "And you don't think that before your 47 minutes are up - and certainly before a posse can ride back through an hour's worth of hard going - this happy little band of ours won't have simply disappeared into the night? It's almost sunset now." He raised his voice. "Hajar! Albert! How's that safe coming?"

The man appeared in the doorway. "Just about ready to cook. Jean's just pushing in the blasting cap now."

"Okay, Josh. How long are you giving it?"

"Ten second fuse, we reckon." He turned back to listen to his companion. "We're ready now."

Both outlaws jumped down. The woman had the fuse in her hand. Crusher turned and pushed the sobbing Jacqueline Sito to the ground, then fired his gun skywards to get everybody's attention. "Everybody down! We're blowing the safe! If it blows your head off as well because you were too ornery to duck, I'm not going to be held responsible!"

Tuvok dropped hastily to the ground, watching the Hajar woman light the fuse and run for cover as Locarno helped Magnum down beside him. There was a loud bang that almost burst his eardrums, and the entire car containing the safe appeared to light up from the inside. And Nick Locarno made his move.

He'd noticed that Wes Crusher was more interested in the results of the explosion than in what he was doing with his gun. Seeing it waver off the female hostage for a moment, he rolled suddenly and jumped the outlaw, wrestling his gun from him in an instant. He cocked the hammer, and pointed it at Crusher's head.

"Tell them to drop their guns."

Crusher paused for a moment then said, "Very clever, Mr Detective. But you might want to look behind you."

Locarno didn't need to. He heard six guns click simultaneously, and knew the game was up. Slowly, so that he couldn't be misunderstood, he pushed the gun he'd acquired so fleetingly forward, to the full extent of his arms, then raised his arms over his head as he pulled himself back upright to a kneeling position.

"Very good, Mr Detective," said Crusher's voice in his ear. "I can see you're an intelligent man. You won't resist at all while we tie your hands behind your back, will you? Because if you do, Josh Albert here is going to blow your brains out."

Wrong Train To Federation City (pt 7)
Jules — 7 Oct 1998, 8:33 PM

Locarno did as he was told, putting his hands behind his back and doing his best not to flinch when they were bound tightly and he was roughly jerked to his feet. Crusher waved a gun in his face, and he tried not to give him the satisfaction of blinking when it got too close. Looking across, he saw that Miss Sito was similarly tied, and that they were bringing up the horses. Jean Hajar ran across from the freight car.

"All loaded, Wes. We're ready to move out."

"Good." Wes Crusher waved his gun at the assorted occupants of the train for a change, giving Nick Locarno the chance to blink. "Now, we're going to leave you now. And to make sure that you don't try anything silly to stop our escape, we're taking this fine lady along with us, as a hostage. And... you too, Mr Detective." He got back in Locarno's face. "Smart man like you'll probably appreciate seeing the outlaw life from the inside for a change." He rammed his gun into Locarno's back, indicating that he should start moving towards the horses, and quickly.

As the outlaws galloped off, they turned in their saddles and shot back a volley of covering fire that had the marooned passengers diving for the rail cars to evade the flying bullets. When it was over, Detective Magnum picked himself up off the rails underneath the buffet car, where he had taken refuge, and said sadly to Marshal Tuvok:

"D@mned if I know what I'm going to say to Artemis when she gets out here. I'm guessing she'll come over with the posse. But with the money gone, and Nick gone, it's a pretty sorry situation. And that pretty Miss Sito too."

"Agreed," stated Marshal Tuvok, trying in vain to put some shape back into his battered hat. "A most unsatisfactory state of affairs." Then he thought back on something that Detective Magnum had just said, and replayed it in his mind. "Excuse me. Concerning Detective Gordon. Did you say 'she'?"

Wrong Train To Federation City (pt 8)
Jules — 7 Oct 1998, 8:35 PM

"They're on the move," reported B'Elanna, who could see furthest and best. "Can't see much other than ears and hats though... they're heading back along the track. I'm guessing that once they're out of sight of the train they'll cut up into the foothills and start heading over this way. Foothills north head into Cardassian territory, and no one would be fool enough to do that." She rolled over, and fixed her eyes on Tom pleadingly. "Think you can tell me now how you knew there was going to be a robbery?"

Tom shook his head. "Not me. This is Julie's show, as I told you."

"Julie?" B'Elanna's eyes shyed nervously in the direction of the banker. She guessed that she wasn't used to seeing the other woman in such unconventional surroundings, and it was taking a bit of time to get comfortable with that. So she was... cautious. And she hated herself for it.

Julie sat hunched with her hands on her knees, chin propped on hands, staring into the hazy distance, willing herself to see as far as B'Elanna could. She gave a sigh. "I didn't know. I suspected. There was just something so very phony about that robbery at the bank. It felt... choreographed."

B'Elanna reminded herself that Miss Julie was a patron of the city's Opera House, and probably used fancy words like that all the time. But, while she wouldn't have put it quite that way herself, she knew what the other woman meant. "So you smelt a rat, and we're out to catch him? Is that it?"

"Something like that, yes." Julie saw Tom Janeway's jaw clench, saw him bite his lip and frown. He turned away to hide it quickly enough, but she'd known - or suspected - enough to look for it, and wasn't fooled.

"I can see them!" he said suddenly, turning back. "B'Elanna was right; they're coming this way. Time we were moving." He scrambled down the steep slope from their lofty lookout point to where they'd left the horses, and mounted Intrepid. The others slithered down the scree in his wake, to grab Liberty and Cochrane and spur them after him.

Wrong Train To Federation City (pt 9)
Jules — 7 Oct 1998, 8:38 PM

This wasn't the country round Icebox Canyon and the Big Coffee that Tom and B'Elanna knew so well, but the three of them had good horses, and they'd rested and watered them since arriving at their chosen vantage point in the early afternoon, so it was easy enough to keep on the move on the upper ridges, and keep the outlaws constantly in sight. They had taken a more direct route than the train, which had to dogleg around the foothills in order to keep the gradient manageable for the train. Steep slopes weren't something that had bothered the horses, so they'd made good time. And it had been reasonably obvious where the ambush must come, if it came at all.

"Lost them," announced B'Elanna suddenly. "No, there they are, filing through that cut into the valley below. Hey, isn't that where the old Titan mine workings are?"

"I think so," said Tom, staring hard. He suddenly sounded less gloomy, more like his normal self as he added. "I think they must have prisoners. Two of the riders are being led, and it looks like their hands are tied behind their backs. A man and a woman."

Julie looked across at him sharply. "I take it you think you've recognised one of them?"

"I think so." For a moment Tom almost smiled, and then his face filled again, this time with apprehension as he pondered upon the implications of being a prisoner of the outlaws. He dismounted cautiously as they approached the valley. Leaving their horses tethered on the other side of a ridge, they edged closer for a better view.

It seemed that the outlaws were home. They were dismounting, leaving the two prisoners on their horses and unattended for a moment while they let off a bit of steam and pent up nerves, indulging in an orgy of backslapping and congratulations.

B'Elanna saw something out of the corner of her eye, and tapped Tom on the shoulder to point it out to him as well. "Look over there. The male prisoner..."

Unguarded and unobserved, Nick Locarno had somehow managed to screw his bound hands round far enough so that he could saw at his bonds with the pommel of the saddle. As they watched with quickening interest, the ropes came loose, and with an admirable economy of effort he slid down his horse's shoulder, landing within a foot of Wes Crusher, picking the gun from the other man's holster and pressing it against his ear.

Even from across the valley, the watchers could hear the click as he drew back the hammer.

Wrong Train To Federation City (pt 10)
Jules — 7 Oct 1998, 8:41 PM

For a man with a gun to his head, Wes Crusher behaved with remarkable calm and self control. He turned slowly to face the man with his finger on the trigger, looked him in the eye, and slowly smiled.

"The gun's not loaded, Nick. I shot the entire round off to cover our retreat."

For a man to whom the gun ought to have been his one chance at freedom, Nicholas Locarno reacted to being thwarted with a calm equanimity that more than matched Wesley's. He gave a wry grin, hefted the gun in his hand, then casually tossed it back to its owner, who caught it and returned it to his holster. "I knew that. I just wasn't so sure that you'd been counting too. And don't forget, that's twice today..."

He seemed to settle back on his heels for a moment, then the fist came flashing out, straight and true, and caught Wesley on the chin. Wes staggered back, stunned and reeling, lost his footing, and ended up in a tangle of legs in the dirt. Curiously, none of his fellow outlaws moved to help him or hinder his assailant, although somebody sniggered as he looked up, grimaced, put a hand gingerly to his chin to reassure himself that it was still there - it felt somehow as if it had been disconnected from his face - and spluttered:

"What the...? Nick, what the he11 was that all about???"

Nick Locarno dropped to one knee and knelt in the dirt beside the indignant outlaw. "Wesley, Wesley, Wesley, what am I going to do with you? You go shooting your mouth off to marshals and detectives about the fact that the bank holdup by the Krenim Gang in Voyager City wasn't exactly their idea, and sooner or later they're going to figure out that you're not smart enough for it to be your idea either. Which means that they're going to start wondering whose idea it was, which - I confess - concerns me more than a little. You know, I really think I might have to promote Sam here to playing the part of the Nova Gang frontman instead of you."

Sam Lavelle looked smugly pleased with himself on hearing this. Wesley shot him a murderous look.

"Now get up." Nick got to his own feet, edged a boot tip in under Wesley's posterior, and lifted it to help Crusher on his way. "Make yourself useful and untie Jacqueline so she can get down off that horse." He turned. "And the rest of you. Get those horses under cover. Sure this is isolated country, and we haven't seen a soul other than Old Man Miles in the month we've been holed up here, but who's to say that today won't be the day that he chooses to come wandering over this way again, even if this mine is all worked out? And don't forget, there'll likely be a posse out by sundown. Ben and Josh, head back to the entrance to the valley and check for traces of our having come through here. Take a couple of branches with you and wipe out any tracks you find. And carefully, please. Dead leaves and scuffed dirt are as much of a giveaway as an actual hoofprint."

Jacqueline Sito slid gracefully down from her horse as Wes Crusher sulkily cut her bonds, and smiled at the Nova Gang's leader, rubbing her wrists as she did so. "A little sore, maybe, but it'll soon pass. You might have a word with Taurik though. He does tend to get a little overenthusiastic at times, and he tied them too tight again."

"He did indeed," agreed Nick, inspecting his own wrists and holding them out for inspection. Sito took a look, then made a face.

"Rope burns. Nasty."

"Mostly self inflicted though. My own fault. I didn't feel like waiting."

Sito nodded in perfect understanding. "Wes has been asking for it of late."

Nick grinned, and clapped her on the back. "Now, let's go inside and see what the haul was this time. Between the gold shipment from Janus and the money coming out of the Empire Bank in Voyager City, there should be enough to satisfy everybody's expectations for a change..."

Wrong Train To Federation City (pt 11)
Jules — 7 Oct 1998, 8:44 PM

Across the valley, three figures raised their heads cautiously above the high rocky outcrop that was their vantage point to look down one last time upon the abandoned mine workings that were the outlaws' hiding place, before wriggling slowly down the slope and back to the horses they'd tethered nearby. Tom Janeway went directly to Intrepid, staring into his horse's neck as he made a big fuss of him and disentangled the reins from the half dead tree he'd tied him to. His jaw worked as he fought for self control, and the two women waited in silence for him to take the lead. Clearly he was not happy.

Finally he said, "Okay... I guess you were right, Julie. When it looked like they'd taken him prisoner, and then when we saw him free himself and get that gun, I'd hoped... Oh, I don't know what I'd hoped." He sighed, and became vastly fascinated by the study of his boot as he traced patterns with it in the dust. "But it seems that that was just more play acting like the rest of it. He's one of them; got to be." He sighed again. "D@mn."

Julie echoed him. "D@mn."

B'Elanna looked from one to the other in silent curiosity, as Tom gave a bitter little laugh and, with a twisted smile that came nowhere near reaching his eyes, said to Julie, confidingly, as if he'd almost forgotten that B'Elanna was even there, "He got to you, didn't he?"

"Of course not!" The denial came out so fast, so explosively, all three of them knew it to be false. Julie shook her head, ran a shaking hand across her forehead, blinked furiously to clear the suspicious looking mist from her eyes, and said, with a smile almost as crooked as Tom's own, "Well, maybe just a little. He may be a rogue, but he can be a very charming rogue when he puts his mind to it."

"Yeah," Tom agreed. "I guess you could call it the family curse. He robbed you blind, but boy did he smile prettily while he was doing it."

Julie laid a gently sympathetic hand on his shoulder, which seemed odd to B'Elanna, considering that Tom was the one commiserating with her. She shifted position slightly, not exactly hostile to her lover's friend, but curious, questioning. Julie glanced across and caught her expression, then turned back to Tom.

"I take it you've not told B'Elanna, then?"

Tom shook his head. "No. Although... I guess it doesn't surprise me too much to learn that you've figured it out. You've seen a lot of him, and people do keep telling me about the resemblance."

"Perhaps you'd better tell her now though."

"Tom...?" B'Elanna sounded puzzled, and vaguely reproachful. "Not another secret, surely?"

"Yeah." He frowned apologetically, then took a step and caught B'Elanna's hands in his own. "One I've been keeping since I was six years old. And you knew a bit of it - as Julie did - that I was adopted, just like Harry and Kes. But there's more. You see, I had a brother."

Light suddenly dawned on B'Elanna. "Ohhhh, let me guess..."

Tom nodded. "Yep, that's right. Nowadays he's calling himself Nick Locarno."

to be continued in "The Posse That Wouldn't Quit"