~~~~Brandy walks through a silent town
~~~~And loves a man who's not around

Two months later...

Flying away from Palmat in her little ship, B'Elanna's hand crept to her
abdomen. She patted her growing stomach in the circular motion she had
grown accustomed to since she found out she was carrying Tom Paris' child.

At first B'Elanna had been surprised to find this unexpected gift. She
could have sworn that she was still protected from pregnancy.

She remembered the initial shock she felt when she received the news from
Mroki's physician. Recalling the last time she had received her birth
control booster, she realized that she had miscalculated. It was hard to
think straight, when your world was being turned upside down with hot and
cold chills that felt so damn good!

Her being pregnant though wasn't the reason for her departure from Palmat.
True to her word, she had planned on staying on the planet until Tom could
come for her--but the Cardassian's had changed that.

About a month ago, the spoon-heads had attacked Palmat, thinking it was a
Maquis base. For over two weeks, they fired on the planet. When they were
through, thousands of people lay dead, and many buildings were
demolished--including Mroki's bar.

In the lull that followed the attack, B'Elanna decided, for the safety of
their child, she should leave before the Cardassians returned to finish the
job they started.

That's how she came to find herself flying through this region of space,
trying to avoid the Cardassians and find the Maquis, and hopefully Tom

B'Elanna carefully watched her sensor readings and stayed away from the
heavier traveled trading lanes. And when it was time for her to sleep she
would find an asteroid or a moon to hide behind.

On her fourth day in space, B'Elanna picked up a strong signal that was
closing fast upon her. There was no doubt about it, it was Cardassian, and
it appeared to be zeroed in on her.

Should she try and outrun it? If she did, when they caught up with her what
would they do? B'Elanna had seen Alini and some of the other prostitutes
play innocent and how they got away with it. Perhaps, if all else failed,
this one time it would work for her. It not, the dagger she slipped into
her boot, would give her a fighting advantage. So she maintained course and
waited and prayed.

* * * * * *

"Cap'n, Cardies' are closing on our position!"

Chakotay who had been seated at the helm, covering for the missing pilot,
nodded. His fingers tapped out commands on the console.

"I see it," The Captain replied. "Changing course to vector three point

At times like this, he could cheerfully strangle Tom Paris for running out
on them, when he was suppose to bring back help.

"Tuvok, raise the shields and prepare to ready the phasers." {Paris had
better pray that I never lay eyes on him again. But at least I found the
Vulcan. He almost makes up for the loss of the pilot--too bad his
speciality is weaponry and not flying.}

"Aye, Captain."

"Gerron looked up from the sensor array. "Cap'n, I don't think the Cardies
have spotted us yet."

"Explain." Chakotay barked. His fingers still keyed in commands to the

"There's another ship, sir," the young Bajoran said. "It's very small--a
three- to four-person shuttle at the most."

"Can you determine the origin of the ship, Tuvok?" Chakotay asked addressing
the Vulcan.

Tuvok analyzed the vessel carefully before he replied. "The vessel is
constructed of various parts of other ships, sir--some are Terran, Betazoid,
Romulan, as well as others I cannot identify without further analysis."

"Any information on the crew?"

"Sensors are identifying only one person on the ship." Gerron piped up. He
looked toward Chakotay to gauge the older man's reaction. "A Klingon-Human
hybrid female."

Chakotay eyebrows shot up, Klingon-Human hybrids were rare, but either way
it was very likely that this woman wasn't an ally of the Cardassians.

"Time until the Cardie's catch up with her?" The Captain asked.

Tuvok answered. "At their present rate of speed, forty-two minutes, and

"Hail her on a secure channel and raise that cloaking device," Chakotay
ordered interrupting the Vulcan. At least Paris had accomplished something
before he left, Chakotay mused. He had obtained a slightly used, Romulan
cloaking device during a card game on Ferenginar. Of course, the damn thing
wasn't one hundred percent compatible with the Liberty and would only work
for short periods of time.


"I'm not about to leave a woman or anyone else, alone to fend for themselves
against those bastards, Geron. Even if I have to use the cloak, the Maquis
didn't sign the Treaty of Algeron. I just hope it will stay working until
we can rescue her."

Gerron nodded. "Channel open, Cap'n, audio only though."

"Small ship, this is the Liberty. You appear to be in imminent danger."

{The Liberty? It's Tom's ship!}

B'Elanna adjusted her communication system to scramble her message before
replying. "Yes, I am. You couldn't have come at a better time. This is
the..." B'Elanna had yet to think of a name for her ship, but now she said
the first thing that crossed her mind...Well actually the first thing she
thought of was Tom, but Tom for some reason made her think of pigs...little
pink piglets were so adorable, just like him....and pigs made her think
of... "Liberty, this is the Targ."

"Targ, do you require assistance?"

"I would greatly appreciate any help you could give me."

"Stay on course toward us and raise your shields. We'll be with you in..."
he looked over toward the Vulcan.

Tuvok supplied the answer. "Fifty-one minutes, twenty-seven seconds..."

"Do you have weapons?" Chakotay asked.


"Try not to use them. Your best bet is to try and stall the Cardassians.
Use your shields, but firing on them might just get you killed. It looks
they'll arrive before we do. But hold on, we'll do everything we can to
rescue you."

"Thank you, Liberty, Targ out."

Out of habit, B'Elanna activated the Targ's shields, but they offered
little, if any protection, and she readied the Targ's weapons just in case.
That was if you could call two small phaser banks that barely had enough
power between them to replicate a cup of coffee weapons. Then she waited,
she didn't have to wait long before she was contacted.

"Unmarked vessel, this is Gul Arkaq, identify yourself, Klingon."

"This is the Targ. I'm on personal business. I have nothing of value."

Arkaq waived away her explanation with a flick of his scaley hand. This
woman looked interesting. According to their sensor scans she had Klingon
blood flowing in her veins--while she was not a full blooded Klingon from
the image of her that was displayed on the view screen-- she looked like she
possessed a fiery spirit. "Young lady, whether or not you have anything of
value doesn't matter to me. Be prepared to surrender when we get within
range." The look on the Cardie captain's face was lecherous. He nodded to
his communications officer to terminate contact. Easing his long frame out
of the command chair, he stood proud and tall.

"I don't want her harmed," Arkaq informed his crew. "After we disable her
ship, beam her and her ship aboard."

The transporters still aren't functioning at full capacity," one of the
junior officers noted. Since their run-in with two Maquis ships the day
before, a repair crew had been working around the clock trying to repair the
damage. "Her shields are faltering so we should be able to beam an away
team over with no problem. But it will take several minutes for the
transporters to recharge before we can attempt to use them again to beam
anyone back. We also can't fire on the shields any more without risk of
injury to the female."

"Then I'll lead the away team.," Gul Arkaq remarked. "You two..." He
motioned with a flip of his finger to two strong soldiers. "..are with me.
Remember, I want her alive," he reminded his second in command just before
he left the bridge.

* * * * *

The Targ's shields were weakening, and ever so surely, the Cardie's ship was
getting closer. Any moment now, they'd either beam her aboard their ship or
board hers, she mused. From her position, seated casually on her precious
trunk, one hand clasped to her locket, and other stroking her slightly
swollen abdomen, she waited. Waited to play a game she had never played
before. Just how innocent could a half-Klingon appear to be, she wondered.
She was about to find out.

* * * * * *

As the sedative started to wear off, Tom Paris woke up. From the look of
the now familiar ceiling, he knew exactly where he was-- the infirmary. In
the next moment, he remembered how he got here this time. He'd been on a
clean-up detail in the New Zealand forests with several other members of the
penal colony when he was pushed from behind. He recalled tumbling down a
steep hill, end over end, before finally coming to stop at the bottom,
thanks to the trunk of a tree being between him and a pile of rocks.

"Mr. Paris, I see that you're awake." The perennial cheerful voice of the
colony's physician greeted the pilot.

Tom tried to move his right arm so he could pull himself up further on the
biobed, but found that it wouldn't move. "What'd I do this time, Doc?"

The doctor circled the biobed and began to remove some of the instruments he
had used to treat the convict. "Compound fracture of your elbow and a
fractured scapula. I've immobilized your arm while the auto-osteo
regenerator* can heal you."


"It shouldn't be too much longer before you can leave. I've already healed
all your other injuries."

{My other injuries?!} Tom's left hand flew up to his cheek. It was gone!
His scar was no longer there! "What did you do?!" he cried out. The guard
who stood by the entrance to the infirmary stepped closer, only returning to
his post by the door after the doctor waved him off.

"I figured while you were sedated, and since you were my only patient for a
change, I'd do a thorough job. After I healed all your recent injuries, I
took care of that bite mark on your cheek," he explained. Holding up a
mirror, Doctor Lawson let Tom Paris take a look at his newly healed face.
"You look as good as new--maybe even better." The physician was clearly
proud of his accomplishment.

"Put it back!"


"I said, put it back!"

"I-I can't do that. Besides, why would you want me to intentionally scar

"I really don't...not you anyway. But that particular scar had sentimental

"A scar has sentimental significance?"

"It was more than just a scar, Doc." Tom signed and ran his fingers of his
left had through his hair in frustration. "Are you familiar with Klingon

"Klingon? Well somewhat," Lawson admitted. "But what does that have to do
with anything? You're not Klingon."

"No, I'm not...but she is...well half is."


"My mate. The scar was the only thing I have left to remember her by."

"I had no idea," the doctor admitted sadly. "I'm very sorry that she died."

"She's not dead...but being in here, I don't know when I'll ever see her
again. She doesn't even know where I am. If I have many more accidents
like this, I might not survive until my sentence is complete."

The doctor placed the last of his instruments in the storage tray and pulled
a chair up next to the biobed. Since Tom Paris had been sent to Auckland,
he'd become a frequent visitor to the infirmary. Sometimes the injuries
were as simple as over- exposure to the sun. Other times, the damage done
to his body was decidedly suspicious. During the short time Tom had been at
the colony, Lawson had gotten to know the young pilot and found he liked

"What if I could get you to work in here?" Lawson asked.

"What do you mean?"

"I should be able to arrange with the warden to have you work some time
during the week in the infirmary. I'm always on the lookout for someone
bright to help me in here, but not many of the inmates are interested. To
be honest, most of them I wouldn't want in here, but I've noticed on your
records that you've had some medical training at the Academy."

"I just took a couple..."

"That's more than most," the Doctor replied cutting him off in mid-sentence.
"If you're interested, I'll put in a request so you can assist me when you
aren't required to work in the motor fleet repair bay."

Tom pursed his lips in thought, and nodded once. "I might be."

"You won't just be stocking shelves, mind you. I'd expect you to learn on
the job."

"Learn what?"

"Well we'll start with emergency medicine and anatomy and work our way up
from there."

"One of those trades I can use on the outside?

"It's part of any work program here at the penal colony."

"But, I'm a pilot," Tom argued.

"Being cross-trained as a medic couldn't hurt, Mr. Paris. Who knows, it
just might come in handy some day. Besides you get to partake of my razor
wit and musical talents. I plan the best fiddle this side of Nashville,"
Lawson boasted.

Tom laughed. "Okay, Doc. You've got a deal."

Tom held out his free hand and the doctor shook it firmly. "You've got a
deal, Doc."

"Good. I'll let you know what I find out."

* * * * * *

The air sparkled above an empty area in the middle of the Targ. B'Elanna
remained calm as three Cardassians materialized.

"Welcome," B'Elanna called out when the transportation was complete. Every
fiber of her being wanted to attack them, but for the sake of her child, she
held back.

Two of the three men aimed their weapons at her. The third swung away to
check out the rear of the ship.

"You're alone." The eldest of the three remarked. It was more of a
statement that a question.

"Who did you expect to find here?"

"You can never be too sure," Gul Arkaq replied slowly.

The soldiers' eyes darted around the ship, looking for anything that might
be suspicious--weapons, another person, anything. In one hand they held
their weapon, with the other a tricorder. Gul Arkaq waved his weapon at

"If you please, my dear, please stand up, hands raised above your head, and
turn around slowly."

"Why?" She knew why.

"Don't ask so many questions, just do as you're told."

Obeying the Gul's orders, B'Elanna stood and turned around.

With his free hand the Gul felt her body--both looking for any weapon that
she might have hidden away and also so he could lay his hands upon her.
When he began to get close to B'Elanna's dagger, the half-Klingon giggled
like she had heard Mroki's girls do.

The unexpected sound of B'Elanna laughing caused the Cardassian to stop his
exploration. He'd seen some female Klingons over the years, had even had
sex with one once--even though she was an unwilling participant. But he'd
never heard one giggle like a human.

"Sto-stop th-that," B'Elanna sputtered. "It t-t-tickles!" {And if you touch
me again, I'll skin you alive!}

Arkaq stepped back. This woman was a puzzlement. A wonder to behold.

"What's your name, Klingon?"

"My name?" {Kahless, she hated pretending she was so dumb and innocent!}

"Yes, your name," Arkaq repeated trying to remain patient. He'd never seen
such a naive Klingon--what a contradiction!

"Oh, it's..." B'Elanna searched her memory frantically trying to come up
with a name that would sound as unthreatening as possible. "It's Lanni,"
she said, choosing a shortened version of her own name.

"Lanni? That doesn't sound very Klingon."

"No. it's a name my father liked. He's human."

"Lanni?" he questioned again.

B'Elanna batted her dark eyes at the Cardie captain and added a pout.
"Don't you like it?" {Damn this was sickening. When would the Maquis show

"It's lovely, just like you," Arkaq replied smoothly. "Now if you could
tell me where you were going all by yourself?"

"Um..." B'Elanna bit her lip. "I was going to Risa." It was the first
planet she could think of that wasn't embroiled in a war.

"Risa?" Nothing could have stunned the Cardie more that to learn that any
Klingon, even an half-Klingon, would be interested in going to Risa.

B'Elanna nodded.

"You are nowhere near Risa," he informed her. Tell me again where you are
going? This time I want the truth."

"You must be mistaken," B'Elanna insisted. "I'm sure I'm following their
directions exactly. Do you mind if I call up my map?"

The Gul nodded.

B'Elanna chewed her lower lip with apparent nervousness and punched in code
into the ship's computer. She did it with deliberate clumsiness having to
reenter the series of commands several times before a stellar map was
displayed on her computer screen. She smiled broadly at her accomplishment.

"See there's Risa," she said pointing to a flicker of light on the screen."

Arkaq shook his head. "What you're pointing at is the scrap pit recovery
station on Mirax 9. Risa is here." He pointed at another area on the map,
far away from her present location.

"It can't be!"

"I assure you, it is."

"Then I'm going in the wrong direction!" I'll be late. They're expecting
me to start work next week!"

This piece of news caught the Gul's interest. He knew that Risa was
referred to as the 'Pleasure Planet.' "You are going to work there?" he

B'Elanna giggled again. {Liberty, if you don't hurry up, I'm going to be
sick and I don't mean morning sick!} "Yeah my friend, Sissy, says that they
are always looking for friendly employees, and that they were always on the
lookout for employees with a unique ethnic background. Sissy thought my
Klingon half would somehow appeal to them." Again, B'Elanna giggled. "She
also told me that the pay was very good."

"Did your friend tell you what these employees actually are expected to do?"
He motioned to his soldiers, who had stopped to listen to her tale, to
continue their exploration.

B'Elanna shrugged and reaching up she twirled a lock of hair around her
index finger. "Just that you have to keep the customers happy. You
know--listen to their stories, keep their glasses full, stuff like that."
{The Gul seems to be buying this act of mine. Boy can men be stupid!}

"You do know that Risa is called the 'Pleasure Planet' by the humans?

She smiled and her head bobbed. "That's 'cuz everyone has such a good time.
Sissy told me they have these giant blue lagoon type swimming pools. They
are suppose to be nice and warm with all sorts of colorful fish that swim in
them. I like fish!" {Yeah, I like them all eat! Hurry up,
Liberty. What the hell is keeping you?}

Arkaq couldn't believe this half-Klingon was so naive. "Did she tell you
that you'd be expected to swim in those lagoons naked?"

B'Elanna's eyes widened with apparent surprise. "Naked? You mean no

Arkaq nodded. He was enjoying this moment. Watching people squirm was one
of his favorite pastimes.

"No! N-no!" B'Elanna looked shocked.

"Yes, my dear." The Gul reached out with one scaley finger and casually ran
it around *Lanni's* neckline. "Not a stitch of clothing on--naked as their
day of birth. I wouldn't mind seeing it for myself someday." He continued
his exploration of the neckline. B'Elanna gritted her teeth and remembered
that the safety of her and Tom's child was at stake, and she prayed that he
wouldn't find the...too late!

"What's this?" Arkaq asked when his finger caught on the chain. B'Elanna's
hand quickly reached up to stop the Cardassian but he had already pulled the
chain out from where it had laid hidden beneath her shirt.

"It's just a gift," she explained, trying to kep her voice light and

Spying the oval-shaped locket, Arkaq attempted to pry open the halves of the

Covering his hands with her own, B'Elanna tired to stop his quest. If he
opened the locket and activated the hologram, he'd know that her name wasn't
Lanni--and he'd find out about Tom.

The Gul's curiosity was raised by her actions. "You must have done
something remarkable to be given such a beautiful object," he noted. "Why
don't you want me looking at it?"

B'Elanna laughed nervously. "It's just a gift," she insisted. "It's

"If you don't remove your hands, Lanni, I'll have my soldiers remove them
for you--permanently. But I'd rather not have to do that. I have a feeling
we could become friends...*good friends*. The emphasis he placed on the
last words implied he wasn't referring to a platonic relationship.

{I'll never to your *friend* you Cardie sonfabitch! Liberty, where the hell
are you?!} B'Elanna slowly dropped her hands, though she would have loved
to have wrapped her hands around the corded throat of the Gul and squeezed
the life out of him.

"That's better. now let's see this trinket you value."

The Gul's fingernail slipped between the halves of the pendant and opened
it. Instantly, he recognized the inner workings of a classic holo-locket.

"Someone must have cared about you a great deal to give you one of these.
It's an expensive gift."

"Gul," one of the soldiers called out.

"Can't you see that I"m busy?" Arkaq snapped.

"But, sir, I'm detecting another life sign. The signal isn't that strong,
but it's definitely there."

Gul Arkaq looked up at B'Elanna, seeing her in a new light, his interest in
the locket momentarily suspended. "Where is he hiding, my dear.?

"There is no one on this ship but me."

"It's not male, Gul Arkaq, it's another female."

{A female? Who? What? Oh, Gods! The baby?! I'm carrying a girl?!}

"Locate the source!" the Cardie barked, his eyes never leaving B'Elanna's

The soldier nodded to his compatriot, a taller man, to brandish his weapon
so he was able to concentrate on the readout from the tricorder. He swept
the ship carefully until he swung around in B'Elanna's direction.
Instantly, the signal grew stronger. Nearing the woman, the tricorder began
to beep loudly.

"I've discovered the source," he informed his captain. The soldier paused,
trying to come to terms with the readout.

"Spit it out!"

"It's her, sir. It's inside her."

"Inside?" Eyes widened with wonder. "You're pregnant?"

B'Elanna nodded.

This woman proved to be a constant surprise. He looked forward to getting
her to his ship so he'd have more time to unravel her mystery.

* * * * * *

"Status!" Chakotay barked.

"Closing, sir, we'll be in firing range in three point two seconds and in
transporter range in two point four," Tuvok replied.

"Good. Gerron, when I give the word, you'll deactivate the cloak. As soon
as the ship is visible, Tuvok, you'll fire upon the Cardie ship. I want his
weapon and propulsion systems disabled, so make your shots count. As soon
as we are in range, we'll transport her on board. Then we're outta here! I
don't want any mistakes--timing is everything if she and we are going to get
out this alive."

"Aye, sir," they replied in unison.

* * * * * *

The Gul's attention returned to the locket and his forefinger pressed the
small button to activate the hologram. Immediately, like he had done
hundreds of times before, Tom Paris appeared and his vow of love was

"How touching," Arkaq sneered. "And how revealing. I thought you were
innocent--but I see I was wrong." Arkaq dropped the locket in disgust at
what he'd just witnessed. "You had no intention of going to Risa. You are
in search of your child's father. I may never have seen his face, but I'd
never forget the voice. Your lover is a Maquis. He's the one responsible
for destroying my first ship!"


"Revenge will be mine, Lanni--or is it B'Elanna? Turn this ship inside
out!" he ordered his soldiers. The men nodded and began to pull open
drawers and turned over anything that wasn't bolted down. "And don't forget
this," Arkaq kicked the trunk.

* * * * * *

"Drop the shields on my mark, Gerron."

"Aye, sir." The young Bajoran's fingers hovered over the controls. His
focus intent on his captain.

The Captain's dark eyes surveyed the situation they were flying into. He
relied more on experience than computer readouts. "Now!" he shouted.

Gerron dropped the cloak. Tuvok took aim and fired. First a photon torpedo
disabled the Cardassian ship's weapons and then a well-placed series of
phaser shots at such close range effectively paralyzed the vessel.

"As soon as you get a lock on her, transport."

* * * * * *

Everyone on board the Targ turned at the sound of the Liberty's weapons
firing on the Cardassian ship.

"Status!" the Gul barked into his comm badge.

"Weapons are down and propulsion is disabled, sir. It's the Liberty again.
They were cloaked this time and knew just where to strike!"

B'Elanna smiled, glad that the ship had finally arrived. A familiar static
began to swim around her. Knowing she was about to be transported, she
quickly wrapped her arms around her precious trunk and both she and all her
belongings were beamed off the Targ.

* * * * * *

Nella Troka, a member of the Maquis and a Trill, ran an old medical
tricorder over Liberty's new guest. Nella was the only person on board that
had any kind of medical training. One of her former hosts had been a medic
in a Trill military group--even though it had been seven hosts ago--Nella
still was considered the Liberty's doctor when the need arose.

"You'll be happy to know you're fine," Nella announced shutting the
tricorder off. "Both you and your baby are doing well. Though to be safe,
you should probably supplement your diet with some prenatal nutrients."

B'Elanna who had been laying on the examining table pulled herself up,
resting on her elbows. "Are you sure there's nothing wrong?"

"Relax. You're both doing well." Nella smiled down at her patient.

"That's a relief. Now if you could tell me where I could find Tom."

"Tom?" There's no one on this ship by that name."

"This is the Liberty, isn't it?"

Nella nodded.

"He's the pilot," B'Elanna explained.

"Actually there was a Tom on the ship, he was the pilot, but all of us
called him Paris--but he's gone."

"Gone?" the half-Klingon questioned, her voice raised.

Nella nodded.

B'Elanna's blood froze in her veins. "Tom can't be. If he was dead, I'd
know it...I'd feel it."

"Wait a minute," Nella cautioned holding her hands up trying to calm the
woman. "I didn't say he was dead--just gone."

With relief, B'Elanna's blood flowed again. "Then where is he?"

The Trill sighed and lowered herself into a nearby chair. "We don't know.
Is he the father?"

"Yes. We met on Palmat."

"I'm sorry."

"Sorry? About what?"

"Tom Paris is not what I'd consider a family man. You are probably better
off without him."

B'Elanna was about to tell her to go to hell when another voice piped up.
"What going on in here? What's this about Paris?"

Nella and B'Elanna looked up to see the captain of the Liberty enter the

"Our guest is looking for Paris," Nella explained.

Chakotay's eyes widened. "Paris? Did you tell her he's not on board?"

Nella nodded.

Grimacing, Chakotay moved next to B'Elanna. "What did Paris promise you for
you to have risked so much to find him?"

{Just his heart.} "I need to see him," B'Elanna said instead.

Nella placed a comforting hand on B'Elanna's shoulder and squeezed. "I'll
leave you two alone. Talk to him, B'Elanna. The Captain's a good man."

With trepidation, B'Elanna watched the medic leave the infirmary leaving her
alone with Liberty's captain.

Chakotay eyed the woman carefully, and wondered what it was that Tom Paris
possessed that women were so interested in. Every time Liberty was in port
when Paris had been on board, at least one and usually more women hovered
around the pilot seeking his attention. Of course, the tattooed man
admitted, Paris was good looking and came from a wealthy family, but other
than that, what did the women see in him? Couldn't they tell he was just
leading them on?

This particular woman was more of a puzzle. None of the others had flown
through space alone and braved the Cardassians' wrath to be near the pilot.
Perhaps it was her heritage that made her so determined to be with Paris.
He noted her forehead crests, and realized that they bespoke of a Klingon
heritage. Maybe it was her Klingon half that spurred her on. Paris, as far
as he was concerned, was nothing more than a womanizer and a mercenary.
Fighting for anyone to pay his bar bills. What had he done this time to
make this woman come looking for him?

The Captain motioned to a pair of mismatched chairs with a wave of his hand.
"Let's have a seat." B'Elanna nodded and both took a seat while Chakotay
chose to straddle his chair. The Captain folded his arms across his broad
chest. "Tell me why are you are looking for Tom Paris?"

"I'm afraid that's my business," B'Elanna countered. Her dark eyes surveyed
the man before her. She didn't want to tell him anything more than

"Not any more it isn't." The captain's voice was soft, but his tone was
all business. "I not only saved your life, but put the lives of everyone on
this ship in jeopardy to rescue you from the Cardies. Now you're going to
tell me why you risked so much to come looking for my former pilot. I won't
bother you any more than I have to."

B'Elanna looked away from the Captain, focusing instead on the deck in an
attempt to control her emotions, before she faced him again. "Look, I'm
very grateful for all you've done for me {and for my unborn child} but if
Tom isn't here, I promise I'll leave the ship at the next port."

"That might take sometime. We aren't scheduled to be in port for several
weeks. We've recently performed repairs to the ship, our cargo bays are
full, and our energy supplies are at peak."

"So you finally got the port nacelle's frequency stabilized?" B'Elanna asked
remembering that Tom had told her about this problem during their fancy
dinner out.

"Yes, we..." He paused. "How did you know?" Realization dawned on
Chakotay. "Are you Paris' engineer? The one from Palmat?"

"Yes, my name is B'Elanna Torres. Now can you tell me where he is. It's
important that I see him."

"You and half the female population in this sector!" Chakotay spat. He
sprang up from his seat, annoyed at B'Elanna's persistence.

"What do you mean?"

Chakotay's head snapped in her direction. "You don't think that you are the
only woman who thinks Tom Paris is in love with them do you?" It was cruel
to be so blunt, but he had his fill with the cocky pilot. If this woman was
so stupid to fly alone through a war zone, then it was about time she faced
some home truths.

B'Elanna felt like she'd been hit by a phaser volley. It took her a while
to gather her wits and respond. "I'm not so naive to believe that someone
as handsome and as kind as Tom Paris hasn't had his share of women chasing
him, but what we had was different--it was special!"

"That's what they all say. Usually they approach the ship looking for him
while we are still in port. I do have to give you credit for your
ingenuity, none of the others have tried to follow him this far." Chakotay
picked up the medical tricorder that Nella had left on a side table and for
lack of anything better to do nervously tossed the item back and forth from
one hand to the other.

"Can you at least tell me where he went if he's not on the ship?" B'Elanna
asked repeating her earlier question.

"We don't know. The ship suffered some damage during a skirmish with a
Cardie patrol vessel. Paris volunteered to take a shuttle to Selka and
bring back some help. Like an idiot, I let him go. That's the last we saw
of him or the shuttle."

"Maybe he was captured," B'Elanna offered. "Did you go look for him?"

Chakotay stopped tossing the tricorder. "Of course we looked for him, and
didn't find anything. We didn't find anything. The Selkan's that finally
did come to our aid and told us that they had been lucky enough to intercept
a communication between two Cardie ships. Tom Paris had fled, leaving us
high and dry."

"I don't believe he'd do that," B'Elanna said defending her missing mate.

Chakotay sighed and decided to try another tactic. "You say you met Paris
on Palmat?"

She nodded.

"We were only on that planet for a few weeks. Paris has been with the
Maquis over a year. I think I know him better than you do."

The Klingon shrugged. "Maybe, maybe not. I'm not here to argue that point
with you. The fact remains that I...still..need to f... B'Elanna brought
one hand to her stomach and one to her mouth. She was long overdue to eat,
and when that happened she was prone to nausea since she became pregnant.
Simple morning sickness she could handle, but possessing the Klingon famous
redundant stomachs when nausea hit, it hit hard.

"What can I get you? A bucket?" Chakotay asked, clearly unraveled at what
he was witnessing.

A nod. Not daring to open her mouth to speak.

Quickly Chakotay found an appropriately sized container and passed it to
her. Accepting the container, B'Elanna moved to the back of the room to
achieve some semblance of privacy. While she was heaving, the Captain
looked through the drawers in the infirmary for something to counteract the
nausea. Having assisted Nella over the last year, he knew what to look for.

Hypospray in hand, he approached B'Elanna. "I promise this wont' hurt, it
should help you feel better very soon," he promised and moved her dark locks
away from the nap of her neck so he could inject her.

With lightning reflexes B'Elanna jerked away from him.

"I'm not trying to hurt you," he reiterated.

"That may be...but it might hurt the child I'm carrying."

His jaw dropped and the hypo rattled to the floor. "You're pregnant?"

A nod.

"Paris is the father?"

Another nod.

Nothing was ever easy, Chakotay mused.

Several weeks later...

Alone in the section of the ship for a change, B'Elanna sat cross-legged on
her bunk in what had been Tom's cabin. She removed the necklace from around
her throat and cradled the precious locket in her hands. It was what was
considered night on the ship. Most of the crew were sound asleep or
partying in Liberty's mess hall. A skeleton crew manned the bridge, while
the Liberty took refuge in a secret pocket of protection in the Badlands.
Chakotay had explained to B'Elanna when she first witnessed this phenomenon
that it was the equivalent of an eye of a hurricane, except this one
remained stationary. The crew called it "Sanctuary."

With a trembling finger and with tears flowing down her cheeks, B'Elanna
opened the locket and pressed the button to activate the hologram. In
silence she listened to Tom Paris' last words to her.

"...only and always."

In the past, the words always made her feel confident and cherished.
Listening to the words tonight she wondered if things had changed. Her life
certainly had since that day on Palmat when he left. She was now a Maquis.
In fact, she'd been of so much help during her time on board, that when the
Liberty's engineer had suffered serous injuries during a run-in with a
Starfleet ship, Chakotay had promoted her to the position of Chief Engineer.
It was a lot more fulfilling than fixing Mroki's old broken down equipment,
now she was repairing Chakotay's old broken down equipment. Not much of a
distinction when you thought about it, but it made her feel more needed.
The activity was also keeping her busy. She found she seldom had a moment
to herself anymore.

So taking advantage of her time alone she activated her hand-held computer
terminal and began her log.

"Computer, activate log."


B'Elanna made herself comfortable, adjusting her pillow behind her back.
"Boy this has been awhile, I don't think I've entered anything in my
personal log for weeks, but I came to a conclusion since I last made an
entry. I told Chakotay that I'm committing myself to the Maquis cause. I
believe in why they are fighting...they are brave men and women who need
me...and I need them.

"They need me to help them and I've grown to respect their Captain. He's a
good man. I know he told me that he and Tom didn't get along very well, but
I like him. I'm finding that I seek him out for advice and I've learned
that he's wise and above all else, he's there when I need him. Perhaps deep
inside I see him as a replacement for my father--offering me those pearls of
wisdom that I never received growing up, unless you could count my mother's
admonitions to follow Klingon tradition. <Snort!>

"Last week Chakotay took me on something he calls a vision quest. I'd been
complaining to him about my Klingon half. I guess he thought it would help
me learn to control my temper. While I was honored that he shared this part
of his heritage with me, I had my doubts that this quest would help..."

With one hand placed on the Akoonah, and the other clutching a well-worn
stone, B'Elanna slipped into a spiritual trance. Opening her eyes the
half-Klingon found herself in a forest. She'd expected that, it was one of
the few things Chakotay told her to expect before she began her vision
quest. Looking to her right then left B'Elanna observed her surroundings.
A variety of tall fir trees and deciduous trees made up the forest. The new
green color on the latter trees indicated that the forest was experiencing a
spring, or maybe since this was really a state of mind, it meant that she
was in the spring of her life. Funny, B'Elanna thought, some days it felt
that she had to be in autumn or winter. The sound of a bird screeching made
her look up. A falcon**** circled overhead getting lower and lower until it
finally perched on a strong branch not far from where B'Elanna stood.

Chakotay had informed her that the first animal she spotted would be the
animal to guide her, so she took a tentative step forward. "Hello," she
began. "Are you my Spirit Guide?"

The falcon tilted its regal head to one side and seemed to contemplate this
newcomer to the forest. From within her mind, B'Elanna heard the falcon

"I am."

"Good." {Now how the hell do you talk to an animal who's suppose to be wiser
than you?}

"Is it good?" the bird questioned.

"Isn't is suppose to be?" she countered.

"Depends. Why did you come?"

Already B'Elanna felt exasperated and they hadn't even exchanged more than a
few words. She shrugged. "I don't know."

"Yes, you do."

"You're wrong," she insisted.

"No, I'm not," the bird stubbornly replied. "This forest is the place for
truths. You must begin by being true to yourself. Why did you come?"

"Because Chak--"

The falcon spread its wings and flew away from her.

"Stop!" B'Elanna called out. "STOP!"

"Are you ready to speak truths?" the animal guide called out from above.


"Then tell me," the falcon demanded perching on a stout branch.

"I...ah...I'm here to help control my temper. A friend suggested that I
give it a try."

"Do you come for yourself, or because of your friend's suggestion?"

"Both maybe."

"Not good enough."

"What do you mean?"

"I want to know why you are here--the truth. What is it you seek?" the bird

"Guess I'm not sure. I'm confused."

"Perhaps, but maybe you just can't speak the words, the falcon suggested.
"Perhaps your pride gets in the way."

B'Elanna wrapped her arms around herself and sank to the forest floor.
Looking up at the bird, her eyes shone with moisture. "I...I suppose the
real reason I'm here is to find out if he still cares," she admitted. "I
need to know if my baby's father still loves me."

"You don't know?"

"If I knew, I wouldn't be here," B'Elanna spat.

The falcon sat silent for what seemed like an eternity. Finally the bird
blinked twice and replied. "Your soul is troubled. You are torn."

B'Elanna looked past her animal guide focusing on the forest beyond--the
wind had begun to stir the leaves on the trees. "I am troubled. The man I
love is gone and I have no way to look for him. Someone else has befriended
me. He's kind and looks after me and the child. I'm indebted to him."

"Trust in fate," the falcon advised.

{Trust in fate?} The familiar words shook her to the core. She needed to
think and plan for the future. She had her baby to think of. It was easy
to rely upon the uncertainty of fate when you had only yourself to be
responsible for."

"I can't just trust in fate!" B'Elanna bellowed. "There's too much at

"There's more than you know. Bow to fate!"

"Fate? FATE!!!" I'm sick to death of that word. My fate is what I make it.
My fate is for me to decide!"

"You don't know the complete truth," the falcon replied.

"I know enough. Enough to make my own decisions. My mate left his ship.
He didn't return to me. I have to rethink my future."

"Then why did you come? Why did you seek me if you are not prepared to
accept the truth?"

B'Elanna was silent in her anger except for a low growl that emanated deep

"You must seek the truth!!!" the falcon demanded. "You must be willing to
become a voyager on a sea of fate!"

B'Elanna's fingers picked up a rock and hurled it at the bird just as the
falcon spread its wings and flew off the branch. The half-Klingon narrowly
missed her target. {Truth, fate...what difference did it make?}

Chakotay ducked just in time to avoid being hit by the rock that B'Elanna
had been clutching in her hand. Never in all his years in witnessing others
venture on spirit quests, had he ever seen anyone throw the rock.

When B'Elanna opened her eyes she looked both confused and angry.

"B'Elanna are you okay?" her captain asked. "What happened?"

She passed him the akoonah that she still held in her other hand.

"I don't think these spirit quests are for me."

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"I almost killed my animal guide," she explained.

B'Elanna walked out of the captain's cabin, leaving the occupant slack-jawed
and speechless.

* * *

"I wanted the spirit guide thing to work. I really did, but it didn't. But
I've resolved myself to serving on the Liberty for the time being. Chakotay
assures me that as soon as he reaches a safe port, I can leave the ship. He
knows of a few colonies who sympathize with the Maquis. There he said he'll
help me find work and a place to live. I can repair engines and ships for
the Maquis, while at the same time making a home for myself and my child.

"I don't know exactly when I started to think of my future with just me and
the baby, in the past Tom was always a part of the equation. Not any more.
Maybe it's self-preservation. Chakotay, did try to find Tom, against his
better judgement, but all queries came back unknown--well, all except one.
A Bolian ship, who was friendly to the Maquis, said they had seen someone
that matched Tom's description. Some on the ship even swore it was him--but
said that the man was calling himself Nick Locarno. This "Nick" had flown
through their area of space shortly after I had boarded the Liberty. He'd
been surrounded by beautiful women and had swindled the Bolians out of
several cases of Dirumbian ale. Sounds like too much of a coincidence. I
had to finally face the fact that what Chakotay had told me about Tom was
the truth. The truth hits hard.

"I guess that was when I found myself relying on the good captain more and
more. For a while, I thought maybe there could be something between us, but
then I had to remind myself that he has another. One of the Bajorans on the
ship--a woman named Seska-- told me that they are in a relationship. To me
it seems like a one-sided affair--she loving him, more than he loves her.
But what do I know about love affairs? I certainly haven't had much luck
myself. Tomorrow I'm going to see Nella and I'm having the scar removed.
Maybe someday I'll even be brave enough to stop wearing the locket.

"Computer end log entry."

* * * * * *

Tom flipped open a small hand-held recording device and sat down on his bed
that had recently been stripped of its linen and began to record.

"Well I'm packing--what little I have that is--a comb, a change of clothes,
and my shaving kit. I've said goodbye to the doctor and tomorrow Captain
Janeway is sending a shuttle to transport me to Deep Space 9. From there
I'm to board her ship. It's called Voyager--sounds harmless.

"Just when I thought my life was going to remain unchanged--at least for the
next few years--things get turned upside down. Just when I think that I may
never see B'Elanna--I have hope in my heart that we'll be together again.

"Yesterday, while I was working in the motor repair bay, this determined
redhead approached me. She told me her name was Captain Kathryn Janeway and
that she had once served with my father. Like that's suppose to impress me!
Fat chance! But I was impressed that she wanted me to go with her--even if
it was with the intent of ratting out my former Maquis crewmates. I think
she thought I was offended--that I might not do it. Hell, I would have done
anything if it meant that I might be able to find B'Elanna again. Gods, I
miss her! It's been too long since we've been together. But damn, I have
to go as an observer! An observer?!?! I told Janeway that she couldn't
find a better pilot than me. Secretly, I think she enjoyed the look of
disappointment she must have been evident on my face when she told me I'd go
as an observer or not at all. But that's okay, as long as I'm out of this
prison I might have the opportunity to look for my mate. The next time I
make a log entry, I should be on board Janeway's ship."

"Computer end log entry."