Title: Remembering is easier than forgetting
Author: Brighteyes / Claire Wright
Codes: J, P, P/T
Summary: Set in the 5th season after "Thirty Days" Tom and Janeway are forced to re evaluate their professional relationship after they are captured by a rebel faction who try to use them to take Voyager.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters. I own the story. Be kind.
Dedication: This story has most definitely got to be dedicated to my original Beta Reader Kat Hughes !!! I'm sure she's spent more time working on it than I have and she probably knows the story better than I do THANK YOU !!! :) I'd also like to say thanks to everyone else who Beta read this for me. Also a huge thank you and hello to everyone of Heather's P/T message board for making me feel welcome and being so nice in the comments about this story :) Okay I've finished now :)
On with the story !!!
"He's coming around." Tom could hear that the voices were close to him. He tried to open his eyes but couldn't because of the agony it caused. Every time he moved he thought he would die. Even the tiniest shift caused pain to course through his veins.
"Tom?" He could hear B’Elanna's voice and he tried to move again, only to be paralysed by the burst of pain.
"I'm going to give him a hypospray to try and relax him." Tom felt something press into his neck and began to feel the hurt drifting away.
"Give him a few minutes B’Elanna."
Tom shifted on the biobed and slowly started to open his eyes.
"Tom?" B’Elanna watched as Tom slowly began to open his eyes, his face contorting in anguish. "It's okay Tom take your time, it'll pass." She put her hand on his pale forehead and gently brushed back his hair.
Tom could hear B’Elanna's voice and feel her hand on his forehead. Gradually, his sight focused and he could make out the outlines of the sickbay. The blur lessened so he could easily see B’Elanna sitting by his side.
"Hey there." B’Elanna watched as Tom concentrated on opening his eyes.
He opened his eyes and blinked a few times to try and clear his vision. He could see a little more clearly now and noticed the Doctor standing behind B’Elanna running his tricorder over him.
B’Elanna looked up at the Doctor who shook his head slightly and then back at Tom. "You got hurt."
"You don't say." Tom replied sarcastically as a jolt of pain ran straight through him. "I've never felt so bad in my entire life."
"Well you did give us quite a scare." The Doctor stared down at Tom and saw the distress flashing in his eyes.
"Do me a favour, cut the crap and tell me what happened. It has something to do with those aliens I know it has. The last thing I remember was being in a room with the Captain and some Alien who looked mightily pissed." Tom looked up at the Doctor and B’Elanna.
"We can't tell you Tom," B’Elanna said gently as she covered his hand with hers.
"Can't tell me! Why not?"
"You have to calm down Mr. Paris," The Doctor moved closer to his patient who was quickly losing any patience he might have. "You might harm yourself."
"Calm down? Why should I calm down? What happened? Why won't any one tell me? What's wrong wih..." Tom's sentence was cut off as the Doctor injected him with a hyprospray. He felt his consciousness slowly ebb away as he fell back into the deep sleep he had just struggled to rise from.
"He should be more calm when he wakes up," The Doctor put his hand on B’Elanna's shoulder.
"We should be able to tell him Doctor."
"We can't B’Elanna. He must remember by himself…"
"Why. Why would anyone want to remember being tortured, killed and then brought back to life, just because another alien race wants a piece of Voyager. Why can't we just tell him?"
"He'll remember by himself B’Elanna. We don't need to tell him."
"That's what I'm worried about," B’Elanna stared up at the Doctor. "He'll remember, most likely you said, He'll remember in the form of dreams. Tom doesn't dream Doctor, Tom only has nightmares. You've never been there with him while he's having a nightmare. You haven't heard him scream, cry or shout as he dreams. You haven't comforted him when he wakes up." B’Elanna stopped as she looked back at Tom's sleeping form. "You should have seen him when he came out of the Brig, I didn't think he'd be able to stand them then. I know he won't be able to now."
Chakotay walked into the captain's quarters after trying unsuccessfully to get her to answer the door. The lighting was low and he could see a small figure curled up in an armchair facing the window. "You didn't answer your door."
"What do you want Commander?"
Chakotay walked deeper into his Captain's personal domain. "I came to see how you were."
"I'm fine, if that's all you can go."
"Kathryn, I'm worried about you. Everyone's worried about you. You've been in here since you came back and the Doctor let you out of sickbay."
"I said you could leave, Chakotay."
Chakotay stared at the chair for a few moments while he decided what to do. "Okay, Will you be on the bridge tomorrow?"
"If that's all then."
"Good night, Chakotay."
Chakotay turned around and headed towards the door. "Tom's awake," He paused and turned around to see his Captain’s response.
Kathryn felt her heart stop at the mention of Tom's name. She felt the unshed tears begin to fall. She heard the low vibration of Chakotay's footfalls as he made his way towards her and she felt his hands holding her shoulders, supporting her. " What is it Kathryn? Talk to me."
"It's my fault Chakotay. My fault," Her voice shook as the tears fell freely down her face once more.
"What is Kathryn?"
"He died Chakotay. They killed him right in front of me, and it was my fault. I shouldn't have taken him...I shouldn't have insisted we went...I should have listened."
Three weeks ago
"At 1400 hour tomorrow Mr. Paris and I will leave in a shuttlecraft and begin trade negotiations with the Dectarian minister." Kathryn stood at the head of the conference table and watched the puzzled expressions appear on the faces of each of her senior officers and waited for the protests that would follow.
"Captain, this is not a logical course of action. The Dectarian planet is in a state of upheaval. It is not wise to proceed with this course of action."
"He's right Captain." Tom Paris's voice rang out as he supported Tuvok's comment. The expression on his face was one of concern.
"I don't care. The Dectarians have vital supplies that we need and this is the *only* planet we will get chance to stop at."
"Captain, there are plenty of other planets." Tom protested.
"That if we stop at will only delay us even more." Kathryn stared at her helmsman. "I have made my decision Ensign. At 1400 hours you and I shall leave for the Dectarian planet," She looked around the room at her other officers. "Understood?"
"But, Captain. You can't be serious. You heard Tuvok, it's not safe on that planet, anything could happen. I'll go if you absolutely insist but I don't think you should go captain it's not safe."
"I'm going Ensign and you will escort me. End of discussion. Dismissed..."
Tom watched as the captain walked out of the briefing room. "Chakotay! You're not going to let her go are you?" Tom walked over to face the Commander.
"You heard what she said Tom, she's going on the away mission and that's final."
"Chakotay come on. What if something happens down there? Am I the only person who heard Tuvok? It's not safe!"
"I know that as well as you do Tom, but the Captain's made up her mind."
"I know that but..."
"Tom," B’Elanna walked up behind her lover and put her hand on his shoulder. "If the Captain wants to go, let her. She's made up her mind and you know as well as anyone she won't change her mind."
Tom stared at B’Elanna "If anything happens."
"If anything happened Mr. Pairs, you will not be held responsible," Tuvok watched as the junior officer struggled with his conflicting emotions.
"How do you know Tuvok?" Tom stared at the Vulcan. "Anything can happen."
"If anything happens on the away mission Mr. Paris, the captain will take full responsibility as she was the one determined to take part."
Janeway walked through the doors to shuttlebay 2 to see, Ensign Paris chatting to Ensign Jessica Duffy, one of the engineers who worked regularly with the shuttles. "Are we ready to go Mr. Paris?" She asked as she walked over to the pair.
Tom looked up from the padd Jessica had just given him and turned to answer his Captain. "We're all ready to go Ma'am, all the pre-flight checks have been completed. The Delta Flyer's ready to go as soon as you are."
"Good lets go, the sooner we go the sooner we can get back."
Tom turned to say good bye to Jessica and he saw the *rather you than me* look on her face. He smiled at her and followed the Captain into the Delta Flyer.
"Captain, we're about 15 minutes away from the planet surface." Tom turned in his seat away from the helm controls and faced his Captain.
"Good, inform me when we're about to enter orbit."
"Yes, Ma'am." Tom turned back round in his chair and concentrated on the panels in front of him and was pretty soon absorbed in his flying, watching the sensory information flit over the screen.
Janeway stared out of the cockpit of the Delta Flyer watching the stars go by while lost in thought, lost in an inner confrontation with her conscience. *I shouldn't be so cold around Tom. * She watched Tom as he concentrated keeping the flyer on her course. *But he hurt me, he disobeyed my direct order. He broke my trust. * Kathryn turned her attention back to the stars.
*He's not the only one who's done that though, is he Kathryn? *
*He should be used to it anyway, a Starfleet Captain should keep people at arms length. His father did it too him, why should my doing it be any different. *
*What about Chakotay? He betrayed your trust, disobeyed your direct orders. *
*Tom knows I was well within my rights to do what I did. *
*Are you listening to me? Or are you just trying to rationalise your decision? It was your hero's, his father's attitude and expectations that made him the man you met in New Zealand five years ago. That man slowly disappeared as he learned what is was like to have people who cared about him, you yourself amongst them. *
*He broke my trust. *
*No, he just didn't live up to your expectations. You wanted him to be the perfect Starfleet officer. You wanted him to be something he didn't want to be, just like his father. *
"Captain" Kathryn heard Tom's voice interrupt her thoughts. "Captain?"
"Yes, Mr. Paris?"
"I said we will be entering the planets atmosphere in little under two minutes."
Tom watched the atmosphere around the Flyer slowly change as the shuttle descended. "We should be at our landing co-ordinates in a few minutes Captain."
"Are we close enough to hail Minister Kalan, without being detected, Mr. Paris?"
"We should be Captain."
"Good, open a channel." Kathryn stared at her control board and slowly saw the face of Minister Kalan form on the viewscreen. "Minister Kalan, I trust you remember who I am."
"Captain Janeway, how good it is to see you again, you are well?"
"I am fine. A crewmember and myself are a few minutes away from the landing co-ordinates you gave us during our last transmission. I hope we will still be able to negotiate for supplies."
"My faction will be honoured that you have chosen to visit our humble city. And it will be a honour to trade with such gifted people."
Tom listened to the exchange between the alien minister and his Captain *My god, that man makes you want to heave. Quick, end the transmission before I throw up *
"I shall send a group of my most skilled guards to escort you to our city and a group to guard your shuttle while you are in my city walls. The last thing we want is for you or your crewman to be injured while visiting our city. Or for scavengers to destroy your shuttle."
"It would be much appreciated Minister Kalan. I look forward to talking to you face to face."
Tom felt the Flyer touch down and smiled *as long as you take care of a lady, she'll do anything you want her too. * "We've set down Captain."
"Good, lock out all the systems and then we can go out and get these negotiations over and done with,"
"Yes Ma'am. How long do you think these negotiations will take?"
"As little time as possible I hope. I don't like the idea of leaving the shuttle someplace where it's liable to get damaged. In fact the less time I have to spend on this planet, or talking to this Dectarian minister, the better." *He makes my skin crawl. *
Tom laughed as he got up out of his pilot's chair and stretched his arms and neck. "He's like a Ferengi but with out the class."
"Come on, our Dectarian escort should be waiting for us."
"Yes Ma'am," Tom pocketed a phaser from the storage cupboard and followed his Captain out.
Tom stood next to his Captain as he followed one of their Dectarian escorts to where they where to meet the Minister. As he walked along he took the time to take in his surroundings. They were walking through endless corridors, all of them covered in the same design. The walls were all a light blue colour and with the poor lighting it could easily have been mistaken for a light grey. At the top of every wall there was a tiny light, but the beams faced upwards so most of the light generated shone onto the ceiling. This made it difficult to see where you were walking as the floor was almost dark. Tom was so busy looking around him that he almost bumped into the Captain.
The Dectarian guards had suddenly stopped at a door and two out of the six of the escort took up position at the side of the entrance to the door. "Minister Kalan awaits you," The biggest of the six guards addressed them, opened the door and then ushered them through it.
"Ah, Captain Janeway! Finally we meet. Welcome, welcome."
Tom walked through the door and instantly closed his eyes. The lighting in the room was almost five times brighter than that of the hall. When Tom's eyes had finally adjusted to the light level he saw that the room's decor, amongst many other things, differed greatly from the rest of the city he had just seen. The room was full of lavish purples, blues and pinks. There was a material, that Tom thought came close to silk, lining everything. The chairs, the cushions, everything.
"Minister Kalan," Captain Janeway stepped forward to meet the Dectarian minister. He was a tall man with dark blue hair and deep green eyes. He was dressed in a brightly-coloured garment that clashed with his hair and eyes and he seemed very uncomfortable as though he wasn't used to wearing such clothes. "It's an honour to meet you. This is Ensign Paris, Voyager's Chief Helmsman I presume?" You must be a lucky man getting to fly such a wonderful ship. You must know a lot about her, no?"
Tom shook hands with the minister and smiled "She definitely is a wonderful ship, Sir."
"Please, call me Kalan. I don't know about you, but titles bore me. They make things too complicated. Please both of you sit. We have a lot to discuss."
"I appreciate that you are willing to trade with us. Especially, considering the amount of trouble your faction could get into if you are caught," Kathryn sat down in one of the chairs Kalan had indicated.
"I have never been one to turn down the opportunity to trade with people, whenever it is in the interest of both parties."
Chakotay was sitting in his command chair going over the everyday information that passed through his console *They've been down there for almost five hours, Kathryn should contact us soon. *
Harry Kim was working at his post on the bridge when he saw his console start to flash. "Commander, we're being hailed from the planet."
"Put it through Harry." *Finally. *
"Janeway to Voyager."
"Voyager here Captain."
"Minister Kalan and I have concluded our trade agreements and he has invited us to dinner while the supplies are being prepared for transport. I'll contact you in two hours Commander. We should be ready to leave by then."
"Understood, Voyager out."
When Kathryn came out of the secluded section of the room she saw a gaggle of Dectarians preparing the table for a meal. Tom and Kalan were talking quietly by the negotiation table."
"So, you're telling me that the shuttle you came down in isn't an official Starfleet type shuttle craft?"
"Kalan. Call me Kalan."
"No, Kalan. We built the Delta Flyer almost half a year ago now."
"That's amazing. How long did it take for you to built it?"
"About a week, give or take a couple or days of so."
"Mr. Paris actually designed the Delta Flyer." Kathryn said as she walked over to the pair.
"You did?" Kalan turned to watch Kathryn approach and then turned his attention back to the young man before him. "How did you come up with a design like that?"
Tom shot an unreadable look at his captain, wondering what had made her say that. "It's kind of a mixture of hobbies."
Just as Kathryn sat down in a chair she heard a bell chime sound from the dinning area. Kalan jumped from his chair. "Our dinner awaits, our guests. Please follow me."
Kathryn and Tom followed Kalan to the dinning area.
"Please sit, enjoy." Kalan sat down at the head of the table and gestured to his guests to join him.
Tom waited until his Captain had taken her seat and then sat down himself. In front of him sat a huge display of fruit, and what he though was meat and fish. *Neelix should have came down here with us, he might have learned a thing or two about cooking *
Kalan watched as the pair ate what had been prepared for them *perfect, soon I won't have to listen to tales about Voyager, I'll have Voyager. She will be mine and then the government will have to listen to my people. Freedom is near. * "Would you like a drink Captain to wash you meal down?"
Kathryn finished the last part of her meal and put down her knife and fork. "No, thank you, Kalan. I don't drink while I'm on duty if you understand what I mean."
"Please, I insist. Nothing more than fruit favoured water, it complements the food well I promise."
Kathryn studied the minister and the plate in front of her. It had seemed just moments ago she had a full plate. "Okay, if you insist. I shall leave the matter in your capable hands."
Kalan smiled at her and raised his hand into the air in a gesture that beckoned a servant over to the table. "Cantai, please bring a drink for the Captain. Would you like a drink, Mr. Paris?"
"Huh?" Kalan's voice brought Tom's voice back to reality. "Urm, no thank you, Kalan."
Kalan smiled. "Please bring a drink for myself and the captain." *Damn, I was hoping to take them both out at once. No matter, I have another use for him.*
Kathryn listened as Kalan talked about his people and their culture. She watched as people flitted around her clearing away the plates from the table. As she listened she began to feel drowsy, her eyelids began to feel heavy and every movement she made seemed to take enormous effort.
Tom noticed his Captain was looking a little ill. "Captain. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, just a little tired that's all," Kathryn dropped the glass she was holding as it had begun to feel like a lead weight. She was aware of Tom standing up and putting his hands under her arms to help her to her feet."
"Come on Captain. I think it's time we got you back to the ship." Tom helped his captain to her feet and put her arm around his shoulder to support her.
"Please, I insist you stay. My medics can look at your Captain." Kalan got out of his seat and moved round to Captain Janeway and her pilot.
"No, it's okay. We're due back soon anyway." Tom started to move slowly towards the door with Kathryn.
"I insist." Kalan moved in front of them and blocked Tom's path, all traces of friendliness vanishing from his voice.
Tom looked at Kalan's face and suddenly started to get very worried. "Listen friend, I appreciate your offer." Tom's voice became unfriendly as he continued. "But I want to get my Captain back to her ship." Tom shifted his grip on his captain and attempted to move around Kalan.
Kalan grabbed Tom by the shoulders and pushed him back. "You will stay here. You're my guests."
Tom almost fell over as Kalan pushed him back. "Listen to me, We're leaving now. I'm gonna say thank you now, and I suggest you leave me alone before I do something I'll regret." *Damn, I wish I could get to the phaser in my pocket, but I can't reach. *
"I shouldn't worry about that Mr. Paris. You wouldn't get the chance. You see I can't let you go, you're too important to me."
It took Tom a few moments to register the Dectarian Minister's words. He was about to reply when Kalan grabbed Janeway from his grip and he felt a sharp prick at the back of his neck. Tom felt all the energy drain from his limbs and the backs of his eyes seemed to burn. The last thing he remembered before unconsciousness took him was Kalan's voice. "You see I can't let you go because *you* are too important to me."
B’Elanna instantly dropped the engineering report she had in her hand and moved to push Tom back down on to the biobed. "Shhh. Tom it's okay. Calm down. Relax."
Tom felt B’Elanna's hands on his chest, gently but intently, pushing him back down on to the bio bed. He tried to calm down and control his breathing but he felt his heart pounding wildly and it felt as though it was in his throat. His head was pounding and there was a constant buzzing in his ears. The events of his dream had already begun to slip away. "Kalan! He did something. He..."
"It's okay Tom, what did he do?" B’Elanna kept one hand on his chest and moved the other one to his face to gently wipe away the sweat that had gathered there. She could feel his heart pounding and he was burning up.
"He... He did something to the Captain..." Tom stuttered and began to shiver. "He must have put something in her drink. I don't know I can't remember. It's fading away." Tom's face creased as he shuddered again and a wave of pain ran through his body. He opened his eyes again and looked at B’Elanna. "What happened?"
B’Elanna felt Tom's cobalt blue eyes lock on hers, pleading with her to answer him. "I can't!"
"Can't what?" Tom's voice started to become agitated again as he tried to fight the acute agony that was rushing through his body every time he moved.
"You have to remember by yourself Mr. Paris." The Doctor stopped scanning his patient, which he had been doing since Tom has woken and moved into his field of vision.
"Why?" Tom tried to sit up but B’Elanna kept him pinned down. "Why won't people tell me?" Tom struggled against B’Elanna's grip but eventually exhausted the little energy he had.
"If you don't calm down Tom, I'll have to sedate you again."
"No…" Tom stopped and tried to get himself under control, fighting against the distress his movements were causing and his frustration at the whole situation he’d woken up to. "Please. If you can't tell me what happened tell me how long I've been in here. Can you do that?" Tom stared at the Doctor his eyes pleading.
"You've been in here for almost…" The Doctor paused and he looked at B’Elanna. "Almost two and a half weeks. You've been in a coma since you were brought back on board." Tom looked from the Doctor to B’Elanna trying to see if they were telling the truth.
"Why? What happened?"
"Try to remember for yourself."
"WHY?!" Tom's patience finally snapped "What is so important that you won't tell me what happened? Did someone die or something?" Tom stopped as he registered the looks on B’Elanna and the Doc's face after his last comment. "That's it, isn't it? Someone died." Tom thought for a moment, trying to remember. "The Captain? Where's the Captain?" Tom began to struggle again and this time the Doctor assisted B’Elanna with keeping him down.
"Tom please, calm down. Stop fighting. The Captain's fine."
"Then, what happened!?" Tom grimaced as the anguish consumed his body *I've got to get up, I don't wanna lie here any more. Agh. Gods it hurts. * Tom gritted his teeth against the pain as he continued to struggle.
The Doctor quickly left his patients side, grabbed a hypospray and injected it into the side of Tom's neck.
"No… I don't want to sleep… I don't wanna…" Tom's protests were cut short as he slowly drifted into a broken rest.
B’Elanna watched as Tom drifted back into unconsciousness, his face still etched with suffering. She took her hands off his chest and took one of his hands in hers. "I warned you Doc." B’Elanna turned to face the EMH. "This is only the beginning."
Three weeks ago
Kathryn slowly began to open her eyes. Her head felt like she had just done ten rounds with a targ that was in season. The last thing she could remember was sitting around the table with Minister Kalan and Tom Paris. Then suddenly the world seemed to close in on her and she could hear Tom's voice talking to someone. *Tom. * Her mind suddenly registered her crewmember *Where's Tom? * She slowly attempted to sit up and to take in and note her surroundings. The room she was in looked very much like the corridors they had passed through. * That seemed like hours ago, we were on their way to talk to Kalan.* Here there were no windows or doors of any kind and the lighting was similar to that of the corridors. She stood. The bright colours of Minister Kalan's room had disappeared, replaced with greys and blacks. *Now that I think of it, it looks very much like a cell. * As she registered this thought, her concern for her missing crewman grew considerably. To clear her thoughts she began to pace. *I know Tom was with me before I was in here, I can remember his voice, and he was talking to someone. No, he was arguing with someone, he wanted to take someone back to the ship. *
*That someone was probably me. *
*But Kalan wouldn't let him. He kept repeating something like, 'you're too important.'*
*What the hell does that mean? 'You're too important? What the hell's going on? Where's Tom? * As Kathryn continued thinking and pacing, a door, that wasn't visible from the inside of the room, opened and one of Kalan's servants appeared.
"Master Kalan wants to speak with you." He walked into the room and grabbed Kathryn roughly by the arm.
*Where did he come from? He's the person who brought Kalan and I the drink. * Kathryn thought at the same time as she turned to face the guard. "Where is my crewman? Why am I here…." Kathryn's questions were stopped when a strong hand slapped her across the face.
"You will ask no questions, you will obey." The guard practically dragged Janeway across the room and out of the door.
Kathryn could taste the blood in her mouth *I guess that means I don't talk, just listen. * She winced as the guard dragged her along the corridors. She though about speaking but decided against it, fearful that she would get another smack in the mouth for her troubles. *I suppose I'll just have to wait and see what's going on. *
Kalan paced the room as he waited for Cantia to bring Janeway from her cell. *Stupid fool, she is too trusting for her own good. * His brightly coloured garments had been replaced by dark, tight fitting clothes, the ones he normally wore. *Finally I get back to doing something I enjoy, extracting information from unwilling prisoners. * He stopped pacing and stared at an unconscious Tom Paris who was strapped to a chair in front of him. *If this thing is too stubborn to tell me what I need to know I will use Janeway as my passage onto Voyager, but that is a last resort, he will surly tell me what I need to know. * Kalan turned as he heard the door to the room open and Cantia dragged Janeway through. "Ah, Captain Janeway," Kalan smiled and once again used the false charm he had while negotiating, mere hours earlier.
Kathryn looked up as she heard Kalan's voice. His colourful clothes had been replaced with duller more practical garments and his hands were covered with jet-black gloves. "As you can see there has been a change in plans," The smile dropped from his face and his tone became one less friendly. "I have a problem Captain Janeway, and it is one only you and your crewman can solve…"
"Tom," Kathryn spoke for the first time since entering the room. "Where's Tom?"
"Mr. Paris is right here." He pointed to where the pilot was strapped to the chair.
"Tom!" Kathryn tried to break free of Cantia's grip but she found she couldn't move. "What have you done to him?"
"In his haste to get you back to your ship, when he realised that there was something wrong he failed to notice Cantia piercing the back of his neck with a needle and injecting him with an debilitating agent. You see Captain, as you already know, my people are in a state of upheaval and I need something powerful and strong to make our government finally listen to what we are saying. You and your crewman are the key to that power. Well, no, actually, your pilot is the key to that power, you're just a precaution."
Kathryn stared at Kalan. All the friendliness and charm that had been there when they had first met had disappeared. A cold fire had replaced the warmth in his eyes. "Please. Don't hurt Tom. If anyone can give you what you want it's me. I'm the captain of Voyager. Tom is not as valuable a source of information."
"We'll see," Kalan walked over to where Tom was sitting.
"Shut up," Kalan shouted as he turned around. "The more noise you make the more damage will be done to you crewmember. Do you understand?"
Kathryn flinched at the venom in his voice. She watched as Kalan walked over to the table near to where Tom sat. He stooped and took something out of a box that was neatly tucked into the wall. As she watched Kalan, she realised she was in the same room. The room where they’d eaten so well, the room were Janeway foolishly thought everything was going well. *Everything's changed. It's as if it wasn't real. * The bright colours had disappeared just as Kalan's bright clothes had disappeared. And the room had returned to a grey dullness *But it seemed so real. *
Kalan removed another needle from the box on the table and moved over to the unconscious pilot. *Now to find out what I want to know. * He thought as he drove the needle into the back of the pilot's neck.
Tom stared to become aware of what was around him, although his eyes weren't open yet he could tell he was in a dimly lit room with a few other people and he couldn't move. *My head feels like a kiloton weight. * Tom opened his eyes. He could see Captain Janeway being held by some alien and he could see Minister Kalan standing at his side. He tried to get up but he saw that he was strapped down. Kalan stepped in front of him smiling. "Kalan? What's going on," Tom stared at the Dectarian and saw the intent on his face.
"As I told you before, Mr. Paris. I can't let you go because you're too important to me." Kalan stopped and began to pace in front of the pinned down pilot. "I have a problem Mr. Paris and you are going to provide me with the answers I need to solve that problem."
Tom stared at Kalan as he talked. "What are you talking about?" Tom attempted to keep the annoyance out of his voice but failed as he tried to figure out what had happened. *He did something to the Captain and he wouldn't let me leave. He set us up, he knocked me out and took the captain. *
"You are going to tell me everything I want to know about Voyager Mr. Paris. You have two choices, you can either co-operate initially or I will be forced to use persuasive measures to make you tell me."
Tom stared at Kalan as though he had grown two heads. "You set us up," Tom said with added confidence as all the pieces finally began to fall together. "You slipped some kind of drug to the Captain and did something to me. All because you want to get you hands on Voyager." Tom couldn't stop his disgust colouring his words.
"That's what I like about you people. You're all so incredibly intelligent, yet so incredibly gullible. Now, Mr. Paris tell me what I need to know." Kalan's voice had started full of praise but by the end of his sentence, his tone as well as his words, became incredibly hostile.
"Over my dead body." Tom sat up straight in the chair he was strapped to and stared at the Dectarian defiantly. "You won't get any kind of information out of me. You're just going to have to kill me."
"Don't tempt me. Don't think I won't kill you." Kalan came face to face with Voyager's pilot "I've killed many people like you." His eyes flashed fire as he stepped back. He fished in one of his jacket pockets for a moment and produced what looked to Tom to be a small scanning device. "While you where gallantly trying to get you Captain back to your ship, you failed to notice Mr. Cantia over there piercing your neck with a needle." Kalan tossed his head back to indicate where his henchman and Captain Janeway were standing. "Not only was the solution in that needle designed to knock you out until I administered the antidote but, it also contained millions of tiny nanoproabes. Not the kind used by the Borg. You wouldn't be any good to me assimilated. But a kind designed and engineered by my faction's medical staff, a kind that is perfect for causing excruciating pain to uncooperative prisoners…"
"They must give a whole new meaning to the words 'do no harm.' I always though Medic's were supposed to help people."
"Oh but they are. They're going to help you tell me what I need to know. Now tell me, what are Voyager's shield frequencies?"
Tom took a deep breath and looked to his captain. She was still standing in the grip of Kalan's henchman, her face a mask of the mixed emotions she was feeling, unable to do anything but watch. He looked at Kalan and let out the breath. "I don't know," His voice was calm and he sat straight-backed in the chair. Tom watched as Kalan pressed something on the scanning device and suddenly felt a burning sensation run all the way from his chest up his neck and to his head. He closed his eyes and tried not to cry out in pain. Tom gritted his teeth and lifted his head back up so he was once again sitting straight. He opened his eyes and once again stared straight at Kalan.
"As you can see Mr. Paris, the nanoproabes are extremely effective. Don't you think?" Kalan watched as the pilot lifted his head up, surprised that his new prisoner hadn't screamed, it was most uncommon for them to be silent when the torture began. "Now, Mister Paris, talk to me."
B’Elanna walked into the briefing room to see Chakotay with a extremely worried look on his face and the others in the room all looking deep in thought "What's going on?" B’Elanna asked as she sat in the empty seat next to Harry.
"The Captain and Tom were supposed to contact us over four hours ago," Chakotay watched his friend waiting for an outburst.
"And I take it they didn't?" B’Elanna's words were measured as she tried to control her temper, which was already growing. "Can't we contact them?"
"We've already tried," Harry said. "We can't trace their comm badges either."
"There are many possible reason's why we cannot contact the away team," Tuvok could sense the feeling of deep worry in the junior officer's words.
"Really?" B’Elanna asked sarcastically. "Name me a few aside from the most obvious."
"Their comm badges may be malfunctioning, or being blocked by something."
"I tell you what Tuvok, let's just stick to Murphy's law and say that the Captain and Tom have been kidnapped."
"It is illogical to make assumptions based on previous experiences Lieutenant."
"You yourself advised the Captain not to take an away team down to the planet, you said it was too dangerous. But unsurprisingly the Captain didn't listen." B’Elanna cut that train of thought off before she could be dressed down for insubordination.
Kathryn stood still as Kalan and Cantia pushed past her towards the door. "I suggest you tell your crewmember to talk Captain," Kalan said as he walked out the door.
Kathryn waited until the pair had gone through the door and rushed over to Tom. "Tom?" She gently felt his neck to see if he had a pulse. She was trying to be as gentle as she possibly could; she couldn't risk hurting him further. There was blood all over his face, running from his nose, his ears and the sides of his mouth. His whole body was limp and the chair was covered in blood. Kathryn tore some strips from her uniform and began to gently wipe away some of the blood from his face. Kalan hadn't touched Tom. He had only used his little device to activate the nanoproabes in Tom's blood. *This is my fault, my responsibility, and my mess. * Thought Kathryn as she tended to Tom. *If only I had done something, said something, instead of just standing, watching. I shouldn't have insisted we came to this god-forsaken planet. I should have listened to him. * Kathryn's thoughts were cut off when she saw Tom's eyes flutter. "Tom? Tom, answer me." Kathryn watched as he opened his eyes.
Tom's normally cobalt blue eyes were entirely bloodshot. "Captain." Tom saw a blurred vision of his captain kneeling in front of him. His throat hurt when he spoke and his chest ached when he inhaled. "Kalan...?"
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean too…" Tom grimaced as he body shook.
"Shhh," Kathryn stroked the hair off her pilot's face, still trying to clear the blood. "It's okay, you didn't tell him anything." Kathryn saw Tom relax slightly at that bit of news. "But I want you to . . ."
"Captain?" Tom looked his captain in the face, the bemusement clear in his horse voice. "Don't worry Tom I'm not going to order you to tell him anything, but I am ordering you to hang on. Chakotay should have figured out something was wrong by now. Hopefully we won't have to stay here much longer."
"It doesn't matter." Tom's words were forced and his breathing was becoming laboured. "What doesn't matter Tom?"
"I'm not going to get out of here alive. So, it doesn't matter how quick Chakotay figures something's wrong." Tom winced as he tried to get his breathing under control.
Kathryn put her hand under Tom's chin so she could look him in the eyes. "It does matter, Tom. It matters to me. I'm ordering you to hang on. Understand?"
"There's no…" Tom's sentence was cut off as he broke into a coughing fit.
Kathryn held Tom as he shook from the force of his coughing, watching, shocked as he began to cough up blood. "Tom listen to me. You're hurt. Seriously, I'd say you've got internal bleeding but I can't say how much. You know first hand what Kalan's nanoproabes are capable of. I want you to hang on. You have to hold on."
"Don't worry about me." Tom's voice barley audible. "Voyager's more important. She's in danger."
" I'll worry about Voyager but first I'm worrying about you…"
"It's an order Tom," Kathryn looked Tom straight in the eyes "Hold on, just concentrate, ignore him, think about flying or about Neelix's Leola Root Surprise he's serving in the mess hall." She smiled gently as she saw the amusement flick briefly through Tom's eyes then vanish as it was replaced with flickers of pain. "Hold on," Kathryn gently squeezed Tom's shoulder. "That’s an order."
"What a splendid idea."
Kathryn turned when she heard Kalan's voice echo through the room. And wondered how much he had overheard.
"Let's just hope for his sake and yours he follows that order." Kalan crossed the room with Cantia and four other people at his heels and pulled Kathryn away from Tom. "Well, well. I see you've woken up Mr. Paris. Maybe this time around you'll be a little more co-operative. Where were we? Ah yes. What are the frequencies for Voyager's shields, Paris?"
Tom lifted his head from his chest and straightened in the chair. "Didn't your mother ever teach you any manners? What ever happened to a good old fashioned please?" Kathryn watched as Tom continued to stare at Kalan and then saw Kalan quickly kick him in the face.
Tom felt Kalan's boot connect with his jaw and saw the stars begging to fly, once again, in front of his eyes. *Apparently he got bored with hi tech versions of torture. * Tom thought as he waited for his head to stop spinning.
"Don't play games with me Paris, I could kill you where you sit, either at the press of a button or with my fists. What are the frequencies?"
Tom took a quick sharp breath, trying not to flinch. "Go to hell," Tom spat a mouthful of blood in Kalan's direction. The next thing he knew, two of the men that had come into the room with Kalan were dragging him up out of the chair and Kalan's glove covered fists were pounding into his chest, face and head.
"Kalan! Stop it!" Kathryn ran towards the Dectarian and grabbed hold of his arms. "You're killing him, stop it. Please I'll tell you what you want to know, just leave Tom alone."
"Get off of me, insolent fool." Kalan pulled his arms from Janeway's grip and easily pushed her to the floor.
Kathryn fell to the floor and immediately picked herself up. She began to move toward Kalan again but the third member of his little group came up behind her and held her still. "Kalan! Sto…"
Her protests were cut short as the man holding her put his hand over her mouth to silence her. Kathryn bit the man's hand as hard as she could to try and make him loosen his grip on her but he only tightened his hold and pressed his hand harder against her mouth. She watched as Kalan continued to lay into Tom.
The pair holding Tom up could no longer keep him straight. Tom sagged to his knees. He felt as thought his whole body was going to explode, every single part of him hurt. He tried to pick himself up but his head was beginning to feel too heavy for his shoulders and his area of vision was slowly turning black.
Kalan quickly adapted to Tom's new position. He stopped using his fists and started kicking Tom as hard as he could.
Kathryn continued to struggle against her captor until finally Kalan ceased kicking Tom and took a step back. Tom fell to the ground when Kalan's henchmen let him go, and he lay there unmoving.
"Tom!" Kathryn had bitten her captor so hard he had blood running down his hand and was forced to uncover her mouth. She pulled against him once more and he let her go. "Tom?" She rushed over to her fallen pilot and immediately began looking for a pulse. *God no, please, please let him be all right. * Kathryn searched vainly for several minutes looking for some kind of life from her crewman.
"What's the matter with him?" Kalan's voice held no hint of concern or worry, only scorn.
Kathryn felt herself being pulled away from Tom and she saw the person who had been holding her began to examine Tom.
"He's dead, Master."
"Huh?" Kalan stared at Tom's lifeless body. "So weak. Heal him, I want him alive."
The Dectarian stared at his Master. "It might take a while."
"I don't care. I want him alive, although it looks like we'll have to use the dear Captain here to get us aboard Voyager." Kalan stared at Kathryn, a grim smile playing on his lips. "Don’t worry Captain, you wanted me to leave your pilot alone. It looks like you've got your wish. Now you will be the one to help me take your ship." He grabbed her by the chin and forced her to look him in the eyes. "But unlike him, you won't be hurt."
Chakotay stood up and stared at the viewscreen *Where are you Kathryn? * "Have you found anything?" He crossed the small distance from his chair to the Ops station where Harry and B’Elanna were working.
"No Commander," Harry tried to keep his voice level. "We haven't found anything."
"Chakotay, we should send down another away team," B’Elanna's frustration of not knowing anything finally got the better of her.
"That is an illogical course of action Lieutenant. It would be an inefficient waste of resources as the away team is most likely to fail."
"I don't care Seven! I guess your Optical implant hasn't noticed Tom and the Captain are missing someplace on a hostile planet, which is on the brink of civil war. Doing something no matter how inefficient, is better that sitting around doing nothing."
"B’Elanna," Chakotay put his arm on his friend's shoulder. "We'll get them back, both of them, just give us some time." He watched as B’Elanna stared up at him and opened her mouth as if to say something else, but, eventually thought better of it, and didn't.
"Okay," B’Elanna shook her head and looked at Chakotay. "I just don't like feeling so…"
"Helpless?" Chakotay provided the word for her and thought about all the times he had felt exactly the same.
"Commander!" Harry interrupted his friend and his Commander's little conversation "We're being hailed by Minister Kalan."
"Ah, Commander Chakotay." Kalan stared at Janeway's second in command. Using the same charm he had used to manipulate Janeway. "What a pleasure it is to see you again." Chakotay stared at the man before him. His clothes had drastically changed since the last time he saw him.
"What is it you want Minister?"
"It seems you're in a bit of a predicament Commander." Kalan's smile dropped from his face and his manner suddenly became cold and hard. "You seem to have, how shall I put it? A crisis on your hands? I have your Captain your pilot and now I want your ship." Chakotay stood in front of the Captain's chair *Is he bluffing? The Captain said he'd invited them to dinner. *
Kalan smiled as though reading Chakotay's thoughts "I assure you Commander, I am not bluffing," He held up two comm-badges in one hand for him too see. And as he did Chakotay saw what looked like blood splattered over the glove covering Kalan's hand. "If this isn't proof enough that I have your crewmembers, I'm sure I can find something else to show you."
"Let me speak to the Captain."
"I'm afraid that's not possible at the moment Commander. She's playing nurse to your pilot. He's been hurt rather badly. Is he always so stubborn?"
Chakotay felt sick as Kalan's words hit home. And he heard B’Elanna gasp next to him. "What did you do to him?"
"That's none of your business Commander. Feel free to attempt to rescue your Captain, because you will fail and I will have more people to secure Voyager with. Let me make it perfectly clear Commander. I want Voyager and I will have her. I will contact you in an hour, be prepared to hand Voyager over... And Commander, don't do anything stupid or I will kill your crewmember."
Chakotay stood still as the image on the viewscreen was replaced by the planet they were orbiting.
"Commander, we've got to do something. Harry can you get a lock on that transmission?" Chakotay heard rather than saw B’Elanna begin to work. He knew she would feel better if she was doing something and now she finally was. *Well at least she's not breaking anyone's nose. * "We need a plan of action people." Chakotay finally stopped staring at the viewscreen and turned to face the others. "Do we attempt to rescue the Captain and Tom or wait for Kalan to contact us again?"
"Minister Kalan has made it clear that he intends to bring the Captain and Mr. Pairs onboard. It would be the most logical course of action to wait for his people's arrival and to subdue the boarding party. The Minister's species is inferior and not as advanced as this crew. Their boarding party will not succeed," Seven stood next to the console on the railing above the Captain's chair.
"You have to be kidding me." B’Elanna stared at her nemesis. *I should have broken her nose in the mess hall! * "We can't just sit here. He's just told us he's hurt Tom and if we don't do as he says he'll kill him! We've got to go down and attempt to rescue them."
"He also made it clear that if we attempt to rescue the Captain and Mr. Paris we would not succeed. The more hostages Minister Kalan has Lieutenant, the stronger position he is in to give demands."
"And if we do not attempt to rescue the Captain and Ensign Paris then it is likely we may not see both of them alive again." Tuvok joined in the conversation "Even if the rescue party is unsuccessful, It would allow us to make contact with the Captain, maybe even attempt a rescue from the inside." Seven turned to face the Vulcan chief of security, her eyebrow raised.
"And if the rescue party is killed we would have lost not only the Captain and Ensign Paris but others as well, It is illogical Commander."
"But what about Tom and the Captain? What if we don't succeed in subduing the boarding party Seven?"
"Seven's right B’Elanna." Chakotay turned to the engineer. "I'm not willing to risk anyone else being kidnapped by the Dectarians. My prime duty at the moment is to this ship and the remaining crewmembers on board. The Captain and Tom both know how to get out of worse predicaments than this. We will stay here onboard Voyager and prepare ourselves for Minister Kalan's arrival. Tuvok, I want all security teams briefed and prepared for our visit."
"Seven, I want you to place Borg encryption codes around all major systems and I want to be able to erect Borg forcefields around Kalan's little group after we recover the Captain and Tom. Harry you can assist Seven."
"B’Elanna I want you to go down to Engineering and start working on a way to reinforce the shields. We don't know if Kalan's going to bring along a fleet of his own and it will be best if we prepare ourselves for a fight."
"But, we can’t just leave them down there."
"That's an order Lieutenant." Chakotay stared at B’Elanna who had her arms crossed over her chest in her normal defensive stance.
Chakotay watched B’Elanna make her way towards the turbolift, thanking his spirit guide he wasn't an engineer. *Now all we have to do is wait. *
Kathryn sat in the middle of the room with Tom's head in her lap, watching his chest rise and fall with each breath he took. She couldn't work out how many minutes it was since Kalan and his little group had left them, promising to return. She had gently wiped all the blood from his face and tried to assess the amount of damage they had done to him.
Kalan's medic had only revived Tom, and his face was covered in nasty bruises and cuts from Kalan's fists. His breathing was shallow and laboured.
*He could die. He could die and it'd be my fault. If only I hadn't have insisted we came down here. I couldn't do anything. All I could do was stand and watch, listening to his screams as he cried out in pain. Do nothing but stand there as they tortured him, as they beat him. Just like his father. * Kathryn looked at Tom as she though of his father. *Those Cardassians, they killed his father, they killed the man many of us knew and respected. The man who returned to us was not the same man that we had grown to admire. * Kathryn closed her eyes as she remembered hearing the screams as she stood in her cell on the Cardassian base. *I don't want that to happen to you Tom. You're a great man, you put other people's needs before you own. You do it all the time. For Harry, you're always watching out for Harry, even now. For B’Elanna, you two finally stopped bickering with each other and learned to love each other, no matter how hard it was, no matter how hard it still is. Then there's the Doctor, even though you two constantly snipe at each other I know you care about him. You look out for everyone and sometimes I don't think you even know you're doing it. * Kathryn smiled sadly *I admire you. Not that I've ever told you. Hell, it's more than admiration. I envy you. I remember when I was an Ensign. All your father would do was talk about you, always. My father never did that. But then over the years I come to realise even though your father always talked about you and mine never did, but at least my father never used me as a status symbol. When I first met you five years ago I thought you were a cocky, arrogant, immature, man, who would do anything just to get his bar tab paid. But you're more than that. You're complex. Damn, you're even more complex that Chakotay. You're an enigma to me Thomas Paris, one minute I think of you one way and then you go and do something that makes me change my mind. No matter how many times I try to deny it, how many times I tell Chakotay he's wrong, you've got a special place in my heart. No matter how many times you make me mad, no matter how many times I feel like throttling you when you get into trouble on away missions. * Kathryn smiled *When we get back to Voyager I have to talk to you, truthfully tell you. I think of you as a son, Thomas Eugene Paris. You're just a big kid a heart, you make people laugh, you make them cry, you can be so damned annoying and arrogant, and you can make me so angry but I know that Voyager wouldn't be the same without you. I don't regret it but it hasn't been the same since I threw you in the brig. Something 'I' did changed you. Maybe I went too far. No more jokes, no more sarcastic comments that you would say without thinking. No more ribbing of Tuvok, Chakotay or Harry. Just an exemplary Starfleet Officer, the one that I always wanted you to be, the one your father wanted you to be. * Kathryn looked at Tom's face that was filled with expressions of pain. *I promise I'll make it up to you. I swear. * Kathryn's thoughts were interrupted as she heard the door open and Kalan walk through.
Kalan stared down at the woman sitting on the floor and laughed "How's your crewman Captain? Still alive?"
Kathryn called upon years of command training to not let the hatred she felt for the man in front of her register on her face. "Barely, no thanks to you."
"Shame. Now then Captain, where's this shuttle of yours?"
"What is my ship not enough for you?" Kathryn stared at Kalan. "I don’t know." She watched as Kalan's stared at her and then swiftly kicked Tom squarely in the ribs. "Kalan!"
"Tell me Captain, and your pilot we be hurt no more."
"Didn't you say that the last time?" Kathryn stared at Kalan but her hand wandered down to Tom's neck to check that his pulse was still strong.
"Please Captain. I only did what was necessary."
"Necessary!" Kathryn's anger at Kalan suddenly came to front. "You torture and kill one of my crewmembers and to what end? To capture my ship, why bother? I could have given you any information you needed about Voyager. None of this was necessary Kalan." *And I swear you are going to regret it. *
"Sir, sensors are picking up two ships coming up from the planet."
"How long until they arrive?" Chakotay looked at the Ops officer.
"At least 3 minutes."
"Chakotay to Seven of Nine."
"Go ahead Commander," Seven's cool voice came over the comm.
"Are you and Harry finished? Our visitors will be arriving in a matter of minutes"
"The encryption codes are in place Commander and we will be able to activate the Borg forcefields from any console on the ship as we do not know where we will be able to rescue the Captain."
"Good thinking. I want you and Harry to be on the bridge when our guests arrive."
"Aye sir. Seven out."
"What's the status of those ships?"
"They're about 1 minute away sir."
The turbolift doors opened and Tuvok walked onto the bridge. "The security teams have been briefed and are waiting for your orders Commander."
"Good." Chakotay slowly stood up from his chair and stared at the viewscreen where he was beginning to see the outlines on the Dectarian ships. "All we have to do now is wait for our guests."
"Sir. We're being hailed by the lead ship."
"Commander Chakotay." On the view screen stood an alien who look very much like the Dectarian Minister. He was dressed in dark tight fitting clothes and he wore gloves over his hands. "I am sub minister Cantia. You are to surrender your ship over to me."
"Where's Captain Janeway?"
"Your Captain and her pilot are still on the planet."
"When will they be brought here?"
"When your vessel had been secured."
"Enough questions!" The Dectarian on the view screen stared at Chakotay. "You will prepare to be boarded. And I warn you Commander, no tricks."
The viewscreen fell blank and Chakotay looked around the bridge. "It's show time people, lets make Captain Janeway proud."
"It's time to go Captain." Kalan walked into the room to see Janeway staring out of one of the few windows in the room. Tom Paris was lying on the floor, his head raised by Janeway's jump-suit jacket.
"Go where?" Kathryn's voice was like ice.
"To your ship of course," Kalan walked over to her fallen pilot and watched his chest fall slowly. "Once there I will allow your pilot to receive medical treatment. Your medics will have more knowledge of how to treat him."
"Your concern for my crewmember is touching Kalan," Kathryn said as she gently began to lift Tom to his feet. "It's a shame you didn't show that concern when you decided to torture and kill him," She stared at the Dectarian, not bothering to hide the hatred in her eyes.
"Believe me Captain, If you were in my place you would have been prepared to do anything to save your people."
*I will do anything to save my people. You just don't know it yet. * "Don't think Commander Chakotay will give Voyager up that easily Kalan."
"It's already done," Kalan watched as Janeway's eyes snapped up to meet his.
"Apparently according to Cantia, your Commander didn't even try to put up a fight. A couple of your crewmembers tried but they were caught and are now in captivity."
"Will you torture them too?" Kathryn finally got Tom to his feet and put one of her arms around his waist to support him.
"Obviously you don't know what it's like when your people are on the verge of being wiped out for no reason, other than the land on which they live and the religion in which they believe."
"Trust me Kalan, I know more than you can ever imagine. But even I will only go so far to get something that my crew needs. Now weren't we supposed to go to your ship?"
Chakotay stood in a darkened corner in Cargo Bay 1.
"Chakotay?" B’Elanna's voice called to him.
"I'm here." Chakotay stepped forward into the light so B’Elanna could see him.
"What do you want?"
"Did you manage to find out when they were bringing Tom and the Captain aboard?"
"No! Kalan's Sub Minister should be the one taking lessons with Tuvok for controlling his temper. He snaps without any warning. What's the status of the crew?"
"We've been split up and put in Cargo Bay 1 and 2. A group of pilots and some people from Stellar Cartography tried to stop the Dectarians boarding the ship but they were stopped and taken away."
"Do we know where they've been taken?"
"No. Tuvok tried to get an answer from one of the guards but he got the butt of his rifle in his face for his trouble."
"How do you know that? Tuvok's in the other Cargo Bay."
"The Doctor was allowed to treat him and any other wounded crewmembers. He used the opportunity to come and check on the crew in here and pass on some information."
"It seems the Sub Minister's not the only one who can't keep his temper under control. What kind of information did the Doctor give you?"
"He said that Seven will be able to activate the forcefields from her Borg alcove, she just needs to know where and when. She can also monitor all the communications sent to and from the planet."
"Is that all?"
B’Elanna looked around the Cargo Bay as if to make sure that no one was listening. "What are we going to do now Chakotay?"
Chakotay stared at his friend "Now B’Elanna, we wait, wait and pray."
Kalan felt the lift begin to slow and finally stop. He waited for the doors to open and then stepped out on to the bridge of his new vessel.
"Master." Cantia turned to face his senior and bowed his head deeply. "I hope you like you new vessel?"
Kalan smiled at the young man before him. "Enough with the formalities Cantia we have a war to win."
"Then let me show you to your own private room my master." He bowed gracefully and stuck out his arm to point the direction.
Kalan followed his sub minister to a room just off from the bridge.
"This my master, is your very own ready room. Formally Captain Janeway's but now, like the ship, it's yours."
Kalan stepped up behind the desk swiftly and sat down in the chair behind it, motioning for Cantia to sit in the one opposite. "Captain Janeway and her pilot are still in the shuttlebay. I promised to allow their doctor to treat Paris but not until I have spoken to Captain Janeway."
"What's the status of the rest of Janeway's crew?"
"We have detained a group of nine crewmembers in the ship's brig, after they attempted to stop the boarding parties. The rest, including the senior officers are in Cargo Bay's one and two. Yes, there are a couple of minor systems we cannot access but the…"
"Hmm, I want you to release those held in the brig. I want Janeway's unconditional co-operation. If she thinks that any of her other crewmembers are being mistreated she may decide to cause trouble, and I don't want to take that risk. Do we have full access to all of the ship's systems?"
"Ship's logs show those systems are deactivated and are not used."
"Try and access them. I want to be able to control everything on this ship. This isn't our ship Cantia," Kalan said as he saw a puzzled expression cross his subordinate's face. "We don't know which ship's are of major importance and which aren't. For all we know the Commander could have rigged the main computer. I know Janeway hasn't in any way had any contact with her commander to plan a counter attack. But, we never know Commander Chakotay could surprise us all, this was too easy. He gave the ship up to you with no protest? None at all?"
"There was a little resistance on Deck 8."
"Hmm." Kalan got up and walked over to the window. "It looks, Cantia, that we will finally be able to bring attention to ourselves. We will no longer have to be bystanders while the government plunders our land."
"Have you contacted Darin?" Cantia came to stand by Kalan's side.
"No. I don't trust him. When we were all last together he did not seem as enthusiastic as us."
"He is old, Master."
"And I am older than you, Cantia. But still, I believe that this could make a future for our people. When our plot to destroy the government compound was discovered, he was the only member who did not seem truly saddened by the event,"
Kalan turned to face his sub minister. "We lost good men Cantia. I swear if he is a spy I will kill him myself."
"What will that achieve Master? Why not interrogate him, then we can attack the government when they do not suspect."
"Cantia, I was 3 seasons old when this civil war began. I saw my father leave to fight and the government soldiers who killed him. There has already been too much blood shed and too much time has been spent fighting against each other. We should be an Empire again. We will be an Empire again. If we can win this war and over-throw the government we can be like our ancestors. We will have great ships, many planets for our children to live on, and a history that will be remembered throughout the Quadrant."
Kalan's voice had risen as he described the future of his people but then it suddenly became soft. "And it all depends on this ship, her Captain and her pilot."
"Kathryn?" Chakotay walked into a darkened ready room.
"How's Tom?" Her question was blunt and straight to the point.
"The Doctor's released him to his quarters, B’Elanna's with him. She says he the best she's seen him for a while. How are you Captain?"
"What's the ship's status?"
Kathryn turned in her chair to face her number one. In the dim light Chakotay could she her face was drawn and she hadn't been sleeping.
"Nearly all the damage has been repaired. Shields are at 85%, the replicators and holodecks are back on line and the warp core is back at peak efficiency."
"As soon as the shields are back at full capacity we can break orbit."
"Captain as long as we're orbiting this planet, Neelix would like permission to gather foodstuff's from the planet's surface."
"No. As long as we stay here we are in danger of another attack by the Dectarian Government. They may have been given Kalan but we only just escaped the last time."
"The only reason they attacked was to capture Kalan."
"When we first contacted Kalan we were told the planet was in a state of civil war Chakotay. He told us that if we were found negotiating with any factions with out their government's permission, which they would not give, that it would be seen as an act of war. Kalan's not the only Dectarian who wants to get their hands on this vessel Chakotay."
"Understood. I'll tell Neelix he'll have to wait until we stop again."
"Is that all Chakotay?"
Chakotay understood the dismissal but he didn't take it "No actually captain. There's something else I would like to discuss." Chakotay sat in the chair opposite his captain. "You've been distant ever since we regained control of the ship. I know you blame yourself about what happened to Tom but shutting everyone out is not the way to deal with it."
"You weren't there Chakotay," Kathryn's voice was like ice and she stared at Chakotay as though she was staring down an alien adversary.
"No you’re right I wasn't there, and in a way I'm glad I wasn't. But I've spoken to B’Elanna and she says Tom doesn’t blame you in any way for what happened on that planet. He doesn't remember all of what happened but he remembers you being there." Chakotay stared into his captain's eyes. "He doesn't blame you and you shouldn't blame yourself."
Kathryn stared at him blinking once. "Have you finished Commander? If you have I suggest you go back to the bridge."
Chakotay just stared at her.
"If you don't leave Chakotay I'll order you out."
Chakotay stood up and walked towards the door. "What will it take to convince you Kathryn?"
Kathryn watched as the doors closed behind him and then buried her head in her hands.
Three Weeks ago
Kathryn paced in the darkened shuttlebay where she and Tom had been left as soon as their shuttle had boarded the ship. Kalan had walked straight out, she assumed to the bridge. When she had attempted to try and talk to him she had been pushed away by a group of his guards that had awaited his arrival, that was almost 2 hours ago. Tom still hadn't received medical attention despite Kalan's promise that he would. ‘As soon as they were back onboard Voyager,’ he’d said. Kathryn felt about ready to bust through the shuttlebay doors, march up to Kalan and throttle him with her bare hands.
Four steps, turn, four steps, turn. Kathryn continued her pacing in the shuttlebay, her gaze wandered from the ceiling to Tom. She smiled ruefully and stopped her pacing. Tom's face was pale and there were small beads of sweat on his forehead. His breathing was harsh She tore another strip of cloth from her uniform and gently wiped his forehead. "Hang on Tom. That's an order."
Kathryn felt a strong grip on her arm and felt herself being hauled to her feet. She looked up and saw a Dectarian well over the height of two meters dressed in the apparent style of his people. Black, tight fitting, practical clothes.
"Master Kalan wishes to speak with you. You will come with me." The largely built Dectarian began to drag Kathryn along the floor of the shuttlebay as if she was a rag doll.
"What about my crewmen?" Kathryn planted her feet squarely on the ground and forced the Dectarian to stop dragging her.
"Master Kalan says he can receive medical attention when he has your full undying co-operation."
Kathryn stared up at the alien before her. "Kalan promised me that as soon as we re-boarded Voyager, Tom would receive medical attention. He must be allowed to see a doctor, if he doesn’t he might…"
"Listen to me." The Dectarian grabbed Kathryn by the shoulders and lifted her up until she was at his eye level. "I have orders to take you to see my master. I will take you there. Either in one piece or in many. Do not waste my time." He dropped Kathryn onto the floor and once again began to drag her.
Kathryn stood in the turbolift, her hands clasped behind her beck, facing the exit of the turbolift. Her Dectarian guard stood next to her with his hand still clamped tightly around her arm. She felt the turbolift begin to slow down and the pressure on her arm increased as the turbolift came to a halt and the doors parted.
"You will follow me," The Dectarian lead Kathryn out of the turbolift and to the door of her readyroom."
She heard Kalan's voice from inside and then braced herself as the doors opened and she was once again in the presence of the Dectarian Rebel leader.
"Kathryn. Please sit down," Kalan gestured to a chair near the window and then addressed the guard. "You may leave us."
Kathryn watched as the guard bowed his head and retreated from the room. "What do you want Kalan?"
"Captain. Please, surely you can be a little civil. Coffee?"
"No thank you." Kathryn called on years of command school training not to snap and ask Kalan what the hell he though he was playing at. "When will you allow Tom to be given medical assistance?"
"Soon, Captain I promise. There are a few things I to discuss with you first." Kalan walked over from the replicator and took a sip from the cup he was holding.
"Such as?" Kathryn sat down in the chair opposite Kalan.
"As I have already told you when Cantia first boarded your ship, a few of your crewmembers attempted to put up some resistance and were put in captivity. I need to know if your crew has planned any more such attempts."
"How I am supposed to know Kalan? I have had no contact with any member of my crew other than Tom since just after you invited us to dine with you. *And even if I did know, I wouldn't tell you. *
Kalan stared at Kathryn wearily. "You must understand Captain. I have spent a great deal of time planning this operation. I cannot allow it to be ruined by any member of your crew no matter how insignificant."
"No member of my crew is insignificant." Kathryn tried to keep the hostility from her voice. "If you let me meet with my senior officers I will be able to tell you if there are any such plans to attempt to retake the ship." *And then if there isn't one. Plan one. *
"I'm afraid I can’t let you do that captain. I'm sure you understand my position. I cannot allow you to come into contact with any member of your crew other than Mr. Paris. I can't take the risk of your crew being inspired by your return to them and attempt to re-take my ship. It is for that reason that I took the liberty of having your comm badges deactivated. I'm sure you would do the same in my position."
Kathryn stared at the man before her, giving him the look she reserved for her alien adversaries. "Basically what you are saying is, you want our unconditional surrender?"
"That's one way to put it Captain," Kalan rose from his chair and began to pace. "I'm fighting a losing battle Captain, I don't have enough men to control your ship and I don't have the time to worry about your crew. I want your crew to continue serving on this ship, but I don't want them on the bridge and I will have security teams posted in each department to keep them in check."
Kathryn rose from her seat and stared at Kalan "You want my crew to fight for you?"
"In as many words. Yes."
"My people have a saying Kalan. Go to hell."
"You don't understand," Kalan yelled at the woman in front of him, he carefully held control finally snapping. "I need you crew as well as I need you ship. My people are dying. You must do as I say."
"I understand perfectly Kalan." Janeway's voice was quite and perfectly calm. "But you'll have to do what we do when we’re desperate. Make do."
Kalan stared her not quite believing what she had just said; "You will let millions of innocent people die."
"It's not my fight Kalan. It's yours, you deal with it."
"If you do not comply I will kill your pilot."
Kathryn's eyes bored into his, her voice cold and low. "You lay another finger on Tom and it's the last thing you'll ever do."
"You're in no position to threaten me Captain." Kalan gripped Kathryn roughly by the shoulders.
"Oh I am Kalan," Kathryn pulled herself loose of Kalan's grip. "First you'll make some tiny mistakes, just small ones but mistakes enough. And then you'll start making big ones and then you'll lose it Kalan. And the moment you do Kalan, I'll be there and I'll be on top of you before you even know what's hit you."
Kalan smacked Kathryn hard across the face. "Insolent wretch. I'll have you killed. No one threatens me."
Kathryn wiped the blood from the side of her mouth and smiled grimly "What’s the matter Kalan? Are you losing control? This is how it starts Kalan, just little mistakes…" The rest of Kathryn's sentence was cut off as the ship listed suddenly to port and both she and Kalan tumbled to the floor.
"Cantia to Kalan. Master we're being attached. By government vessels."
Kalan looked at Janeway as he lifted himself to his feet.
"Mistakes Kalan, tiny ones."
B’Elanna grabbed the nearest upright thing as she felt the ship rock to one side. "That felt like phaser fire," she shouted at Chakotay.
"I know, the ship must be under attack."
"I've got to get to Engineering."
"B’Elanna, there are guards posted outside the door. We won't be able to get past them." Chakotay stumbled over to B’Elanna as the ship rocked again.
"Those fools don't know what they're doing with the warp core. Besides we've got the element of surprise, the ship's being attacked they won't expect us to make a break for it. If we can get to Engineering we might be able to find Tom and the Captain. It's our only chance Chakotay."
Chakotay looked at B’Elanna who had fixed him with a penetrating gaze. "Okay, okay. But first we free the rest of the crew from the other Cargo Bay. Tuvok can take half the people from that Bay and head to the armoury. We can take the other half and the people in here, including Seven. We'll retake Engineering." Chakotay paused and B’Elanna glared at him. He remembered himself. "And then we'll find the Captain and Tom."
"Then what are we waiting for? Let's go." B’Elanna grabbed Chakotay by the arm and started dragging him over to the doors.
"Report!" Kalan stumbled onto the bridge and headed for the captain's chair.
"We're being attacked by 4 government vessels master. Our shields are down to 63 percent." Cantia studied he tactical console in front of him. "If we fire a photon torpedo at the vessel's warp core it should destroy these ships." He pointed to the console.
"Do it, they won't stop us this time Cantia. Fire when ready."
Kathryn grabbed the side of her desktop to stop herself falling as the enemy ship's weapons again rocked Voyager. *Please hold together until I find Tom. * She punched the button of her desk console and activated a scan of the shuttlebay to find Tom's pattern. *Got him. Damn his life signs are weak. I've got to hurry up. * Kathryn attempted to lock on and transport Tom from the shuttlebay but the console took no time in informing her the transporters were offline. *Damn it. * She quickly shut down the console and reached behind the desk and pulled out a phaser that was stored there. *Firstly, I'll get to Tom, then I'll make Kalan wish he'd never been born. * Kathryn quickly made a note for the Doctor informing him of Tom's situation. "Computer as soon as transporters are online transport Ensign Paris from the shuttlebay to sickbay." "Acknowledged."
*Now to retake my ship. *
B’Elanna growled angrily as Voyager rocked and she fell to the floor. *By Kahless, I swear I'll rip out that arrogant, manipulative Dectarians insides for hurting Tom and damaging my engines. * B’Elanna froze as she felt phaser fire rip through the air just inches away from her head and then quickly dropped to the floor.
"A group of Dectarians have taken up position around the corner." Chakotay informed her as he crawled up to her.
"Then, we'll have to fight our way through won't we," B’Elanna growled. She tightened her grip on the phaser she was carrying and started to crawl froward.
"B’Elanna." Chakotay grabbed her shoulder "We can't it's too dangerous." He raised his voice to be heard over the phaser fire that was passing over head.
"Chakotay," B’Elanna's voice held a hint of scorn. "There's only a few of them. We got through bigger groups of Cardassians with the same kind of weapons. If we could get past them we can get past these," She looked at the Dectarians in front of her, who were all armed with compression rifles and then looked back at Chakotay. "Don't tell me you're getting scared in your old age." The barest of smiles played across her mouth. "Besides. The longer these fools are allowed to mess with my engines the more damage they're going to do."
Chakotay crawled up next to B’Elanna. "You're right, the sooner we get to engineering the sooner we can find the captain and Tom."
"If they're on board." B’Elanna voice betrayed the worry she felt.
Chakotay stared at his friend. "They'll be fine."
"I know." B’Elanna replied and then smiled evilly "Let's see if we've still got what it takes Chakotay."
"Shields down to 47 percent."
"Helm, evasive manoeuvres." Kalan stared at the viewscreen in front of him as he watched his governments' ships hit and run. A Dectarian at the science station cried out as the console in front of him exploded. *Is this how it will end? Like this. *
"Master! We're being hailed by their lead ships." Cantia looked up from his console. "It's Darin."
Kalan stared at his subordinate as the ship rocked. "On screen."
Kalan stood up from the captain's chair staring at the old man defiantly. "Never." "Surrender now, and the ship, it's crew and your men will be spared."
"Never! I will never surrender to you."
"You would destroy a crew and a ship that isn't yours because of your own selfish goal?" The old man on the viewscreen stared at Kalan. "You do not deserve to be a leader. No leader would sacrifice innocent people."
"I don't deserve? What about you? Your government? You have killed millions of innocent people. Persecuted them, tortured them. And you say I am unfit to lead."
"You are not in the position to question my words Kalan. You have exactly 1 minute to surrender the ship or you will be destroyed."
Kalan stared at the old man and said tauntingly. "You would destroy a crew and a ship that isn't yours because of your own selfish goal?"
"There is no way past those guards," Tuvok lay on the floor of the corridor, with him, Seven on Nine and several security personal.
"We must fight our way through them." Seven stated.
"That is an illogical course of action Seven. We are armed with only a couple a hand phasers, they are armed with compression rifles. It would mean certain death."
"Voyager is being attacked by unknown ships. It is my estimate that if the rate of fire does not decrease, the ship's shields will fail in approximately 3 minutes. It is the most logical course of action to attack the guards, access the armoury and then head for the bridge so we can reclaim possession of this ship."
Just as Seven finished talking several phaser shots were heard and the phaser fire over the group's head suddenly ceased. Seven and Tuvok cautiously began to rise to their feet, to see the Captain walking round the corner.
"Captain." Tuvok stood up straight with his hands behind his back.
"Come with me." Kathryn threw the compression rifles she was carrying to the members of the group that were unarmed and pulled her own from round her shoulder. "We're going to re-take the bridge," She walked past the group and stopped at a console just a few feet away.
"Seven I want you to tap into this panel and re-activate our comm badges. I want Commander Chakotay to be aware of what is happening. As soon as you've finished inform Commander Chakotay of what is happening then join us on the bridge. You two stay with her." She pointed at two members of the group armed with rifles. "Tuvok you and the others are with me."
"We're pinned down!" Chakotay heard B’Elanna's frustrated voice over the noise of the phaser fire. They were stuck just outside of engineering. The Dectarians inside making every possible use of the advantage they had of being better armed than they were. "We've got to get inside Chakotay."
"I know. At least the other vessels have stopped firing."
"For now! I don't think Voyager's shields will hold up for much longer if they start firing again. Where the hell are Tuvok and the others? They were supposed to come straight here when they'd got to the armoury."
"Maybe the same thing has happened to them. They got pinned down."
"Tuvok getting pinned down? That's a first."
Chakotay had to smile. Even at a time like this she couldn't help but knock the Vulcan down. Maybe Tom was having some influence on her after all.
"Seven to Commander Chakotay."
Chakotay shared a confused look with B’Elanna before answering his comm badge. "Seven? What's going on? Where are you?"
"The Captain ordered me to get the communicators and transporters operational again Commander. She has taken Lt. Commander Tuvok and the rest of the group and is on her way to the bridge."
"The Captain? When did she come on board Seven?"
"I do not know. We were pinned down by a group of Dectarians when she ambushed them…"
"Was Tom with her Seven?" B’Elanna's anxious voice interrupted the former Drone.
"No. Ensign Paris was not with the Captain."
Chakotay watched B’Elanna's face drop. Her worry for her mate instantly concerning her more than anything else. "Do you know where he is?"
"No. I assume the Captain plans on re-taking the bridge. She wishes for you to join her Commander."
"That's a little difficult Seven, we're pinned down just outside Engineering."
"I'm reading 7 Dectarian life signs in Engineering."
"Did you say you had the transporters back online Seven?"
"Good. Get a lock on those life signs and transport them all to Cargo Bay two and erect those Borg forcefields around it."
"Yes, Commander." Chakotay waited a few seconds.
"The transport was successful. There are no Dectarian life signs in Engineering, Commander."
"Good. Chakotay out." He closed the comm link and looked over at B’Elanna. "Your domain awaits." He said as he pointed towards the doors.
As soon as B’Elanna stepped into Engineering she was in full Chief Engineer mode. "Nicoletti, Vorik, Marshall. I want these shields reinforced. We don't know what kind of weapons we're up against. Baythart, I don't want Voyager going anywhere unless we're in control. I want you to re-route the helm controls to engineering. Better safe than sorry."
The Doctor looked up from his console as he heard the familiar hum of the transporters. As soon as he recognised the transporter’s familiar whirl he heard a beep emanate from the console he had just been working on. Looking at it he found a message from the Captain. *Doctor,
The man who is now in control of the ship has tortured Tom to try and gain knowledge about Voyager. Tom was injected with a hypospray filled with nanoprobes designed to induce excruciating pain when activated. He was also badly beaten and was clinically dead for up to ten minutes. A Dectarian Doctor revived him. His breathing is harsh and there is blood coming from his mouth, nose and ears. He has been like this for over 5 hours to my knowledge. I am currently on my way to the bridge. Keep me informed of any change in his condition I shall be there as soon as possible.
Captain Janeway. *
When the Doctor finished reading the note the Captain had sent him he just stood for a few moments, horrified by what he had just read. *If Tom's injures are that bad just in a note, they're going to be even worse when I see them. * Steeling himself the Doctor walked out of his office and prepared to begin treating his most frequent patient.
"Seven to Captain Janeway. Transporters are operational Captain."
"Good. Transport us directly onto the bridge."
"Captain that is an illogical course of acti…"
"To hell with logic Tuvok." Kathryn stared at her friend. "This is personal. Seven now."
"Transporting now Cap…" Seven's sentence was cut off as Kathryn felt the familiar tingle of the transporters’ engulf her. The scene before her switched from the dullness of the corridor to the familiar surroundings of her bridge. As Kathryn fully materialised on the bridge her rifle came directly level with Kalan's chest. "One move and I'll kill you."
Kalan stood staring at Darin daring him to destroy the vessel.
"Lock two torpedoes directly on Voyager's bridge and prepare to fire." The old man never took his eyes away from Kalan. "30 seconds Kalan. 29, 28, 27, 26, 25…"
Kalan looked quickly away from the man on the viewscreen as he considered his options. Just as he was about to look back at Darin he saw several shapes begin to take shape on the bridge. One directly in front of him, one near the helm control, and several more around the bridge. When he looked forward once again to stare at Darin he found he was instead staring down the barrel of a compression rifle, belonging to Janeway. "One move and I'll kill you."
"Kathryn!" Kalan smiled broadly at Janeway. "Tell Minister Darin here that this has all been a misunderstanding."
Kathryn's eyes narrowed as she stared at the man in front of her. "Tuvok get him the hell off my bridge."
Darin watched a tall dark skinned man in a yellow uniform grabbed Kalan by the arm and led him towards the back of the bridge. A group of other men in yellow uniforms rounded up the other Dectarians on the bridge and followed the dark skinned man. "What's going on here?" Darin saw a petite redhead woman walk over and sit in the chair Kalan had earlier vacated.
She stared at him. Her voice was rough, flat and cold. "Who are you?"
"I am Minister Darin a senior member of the Dectarian Government. Who are you?"
"I am Kathryn Janeway. Captain of this Vessel. Kalan is you responsibility?"
"Kalan is the leader of one of a group of rebel factions that are protesting against our government…"
"Answer my question. Is he or is he not your responsibly?"
"Then I hold you and your government responsible for his actions. I assume he will be suitably punished?"
"There will be a hearing and he will be dealt with suitably."
Janeway stood up, her eyes narrowed and her hands when to her hips. "A hearing?" She repeated the word as though she didn't understand what it meant.
"Yes. It is the standard procedure on our world. He will be questioned and most likely exiled from the planet."
Kathryn shook her head as she listened to Darin explain Kalan's punishment. "He is responsible for torturing one of my crewmembers, imprisoning the rest and capturing my ship. After all that you're just going to exile him from your planet?" Kathryn's voice lowed with each word she spoke.
"As I said, it is standard procedure."
"As your little rebel is on my ship I am allowed, according to the laws of my people, to imprison him in our ship's brig and take him along with us. Which to me seems a more suitable punishment, than you're… procedure."
Darin's face hardened. "I cannot allow you to take Kalan Captain. I was sent to capture him and the other members of his group that are currently aboard your ship. Do not attempt to stop me completing my mission Captain. I have already seriously damaged your ship. It will not take me long to destroy it."
Kathryn stared at the man on the viewscreen. His face was lit from the light on the panels in front of him. "You've just threatened the wrong woman."
Darin watched as the viewscreen went blank then he turned to face the man a tactical. "Prepare to resume firing."
"Janeway to Chakotay. Where are you Commander?"
Chakotay heard Kathryn's voice come over his comm badge. "Captain? Are you all right? Where are you?"
"I'm fine Commander, we've just re-taken the bridge but we have another Dectarian who's determined to take Kalan back. Where are you?"
"We're in engineering. B’Elanna's started work on the shields and the secondary helm controls."
"Good. I need you up here on the bridge commander. And tell B’Elanna that under no costs can the holo-emitters go off line. And send Sam Wildman down to Sickbay."
"Captain? What's going on?"
"I'll tell you later Commander, just pass along the message and get to the bridge." Janeway closed the comm link and Chakotay felt the ship beginning to rock again.
"B’Elanna. The Captain says you've got to keep the shields enforced and keep the holo-emitters running so the doctor doesn't go off line. I've got to get to the bridge."
"Then why are you still here?" She turned her head. "Vorik what the hell do you think you are you doing?"
Kathryn grabbed the sides of her chair to stop herself tumbling out.
"Shields are down to 14 percent. Captain it would be the most logical course of action to transport Kalan and his group over to the alien vessel then they will most likely cease their fire." Tuvok tried to reason with his Captain.
"And let him just be exiled from their planet? What sounds worst Tuvok, being exiled? Or spending the rest of your life in a prison?"
"Tuvok. At this moment. I want to personally kill Kalan and his little group. I am not prepared to just have them exiled from their planet. It's not enough."
"Shields down to 11 percent. Captain, Voyager will not be able to survive this much longer."
"Janeway to Torres. I need those shields reinforcing B’Elanna."
"I can't, Captain. There's noting left to re-enforce them with."
"Tuvok fire a torpedo spread at their warp core."
"Do it Tuvok!"
"Voyager does not have enough shields to withstand such an explosion."
"She'll survive. She's been through worse."
"Captain. We should transport Kalan over to the lead ship." Chakotay's voice echoed over the bridge.
"No!" Kathryn's voice was level.
"Captain. It's the only way." Chakotay sat in his chair and leaned over to look at his Captain.
"I will not allow Kalan to leave this ship."
Chakotay watched Kathryn's face saw he determination it held and took a deep breath preparing himself to attempt to reason with his Captain. "Is one man worth an entire crew? Is he worth sacrificing the principals you believe in?"
"He's a murderer. I will not allow his to leave this ship. To only be exiled. Exiled Chakotay! That's not justice. He deserves more than that."
"Captain. This isn't right."
"It's not your decision to make Chakotay. My decision, my consequences."
"Tuvok. Get a transporter lock on all the Dectarians onboard Voyager and transport them over to the lead vessel." Chakotay ordered.
"Tuvok! Belay that order. Commander you have no right to go against my orders."
"Captain. Your orders are endangering this crew. It's my obligation as first officer to make sure this crew is safe."
"Are you questioning my judgement Chakotay?" Kathryn stared at Chakotay, her eyes boring into his.
"Yes," Chakotay's voice was hard.
"On my bridge. You don't have the right."
"I'm not an Ensign, I'm your first officer. I've earned the right to question your judgement, especially when it's endangering this crew."
"That doesn't mean I have to listen."
"You're right, you don't, but I wouldn't be a very good first officer, to you or this crew, if I didn't tell you what I think." Chakotay gripped the sides of his chair to stop him self being thrown to the floor. "Kathryn, I don't know what happened down on that planet and I don’t think I want to. But one thing I do know Kathryn is how to spot when something or someone has angered you, or done something that you've taken personally. I know what it's like to want to personally rip a person to shreds. I felt the same when I learned my father had been killed by the Cardassians. I felt as if I wanted to kill every single last one of them. It made me sick what they did, it still does. But now is not the time Kathryn. What you're going to do is unfair, cruel, and it goes against everything you believe in. At times you are so determined that this crew follows the Prime Directive, and yet you, yourself, are about to discard it, just so you can have revenge on an Alien you have known for less than 2 days. Is it worth it Kathryn? Throwing away your principals, your beliefs, and the oath you took as a Starfleet Captain. Is it worth throwing away all that and all the hard work you put in to make this crew a whole. One crew, with one goal, with one set of rules. Is it worth throwing away all that?" Chakotay paused and looked at Kathryn, seeing her gaze was still fixed on the viewscreen. "If you look past your anger for just a few minutes Captain. You'll realise how unfair you're being. How would you feel if someone imprisoned you because you had tried so hard to fight for something you believed was true? Because you did something for this crew…?"
"Are you comparing me to that murderer Chakotay?"
"No! I'm just trying to make you see how wrong this is and how much this will hurt you, once you've got past your pain and anger. Just like you've realised how much pain you have caused, to you and to others by a judgement you made not that long ago. Think Kathryn. Is it really worth it? I know you Kathryn. I know how much pain this will cause you. I know how much it will tear you up inside, piece by piece because you think there is no one for you to turn to. I know you'll just shoulder it as being another one of those decisions Captains have to make. But you have the power to stop this Kathryn. It isn't worth it. But only you can make the right decision."
Kathryn stared at her first officer for the first time since he started his little speech. Thought about his words, about the pain and loneliness she had been feeling. She felt unshed tears start to form in her eyes, but she hastily banished them and fought to keep her voice level. "Tuvok transport the Dectarians to Minister Darin's ship and power down weapons."
"Aye Captain. Transport Complete."
Kathryn stared at the viewscreen in font of her and watched the vessels being to move away, feeling a mixture of pain and shame as she began to realise how close to the edge she had been. "The alien vessels are returning to the planet's surface."
"Stand down red alert. Begin repairs. I'll be in sickbay if you need me. Chakotay you have the bridge." Kathryn slowly rose from her chair and made her way towards the turbolift. As she entered the turbolift and the doors closed the tears she had desperately fighting to hold back, finally began to fall.
"As far as I can tell Mr. Paris all of the physical damage you suffered due to your stay on the Dectarian planet, has been healed, Mr. Paris?" The Doctor looked up from his tricorder readings and stared at the man sitting on the bio bed, swinging his legs and knocking the side of the bio bed opposite, and raised a eyebrow. "Do you wish to know the results of my scans? Or do you wish to continue to be annoying and thus prolonging your stay in my sickbay?"
Tom immediately stopped swinging his legs and smiled innocently at the Doctor. "Sorry" he said but his tone suggested otherwise.
"Staying in sickbay has a kind of effect on me. It causes acute boredom."
"I appreciate that Mr. Paris, but the sooner I finish the sooner you'll be able to leave." He stared at Tom warily and then went back to his tricorder.
"Now as I was saying before I was interrupted. All the physical damage received has been healed, but that doesn't mean you can walk out of here and engage in any strenuous physical activities." The Doctor looked at his patient again. "Your ribs are still badly bruised and will be tender for quite a while."
"Can you define the words 'physical activities’?" Tom's voice held a note of humour and his eyes twinkled as he looked at the Doctor.
The Doctor raised his eyebrow again and shook his head. "I'll leave that to you discretion Mr. Paris."
"You said all the physical damage done has been healed," Tom's voice became serious. "What does that mean?"
"I don't know how long it will talk for your nightmares to go away, or the flashbacks you have been suffering. It's the brain's way of sorting out all the information it hasn't yet had time to store properly."
The nightmares are no problem Doc. I've had them ever since I was a kid."
"You know what I mean Tom." The Doctor's voice was serious and held a slight trace of worry.
"The moment you start having dizzy spells or blackouts. I expect you to come immediately to sickbay. Understood?"
"I shouldn't worry Doc. I'm sure B’Elanna and Harry will make certain
I'm not away from here for more than two hours at a time."
"Tom. Different people have different ways of dealing with going through such traumatic stress…"
"Doc." Tom cut him off. "If you're going to give me the little speech about never being the same and not to bottle up my emotions, then save it."
Tom stared at him. "I went through all that rigmarole after the shuttle crash, I had people telling me what I should and shouldn't do. And I know how torture can change a person. My father was tortured and I got to see the after effects first hand." Tom paused and looked down at his feet "I'm not saying it won't change me, cause it probably will, it probably has, but I'm not going to live my life any different."
"I know, and we don't expect you to. Just remember that we're here if you need anyone to talk to. I'm here."
Tom looked up at the Doctor, surprise lined his face and his eyes, but he could see nothing but sincerity in the Doctor's face. "Thanks… I'll remember that."
"So," The Doctor's tone altered as he quickly changed the subject knowing Tom would be as uncomfortable talking about this as he was. "You are free to leave Sickbay but the moment you start to feel ill I want you to come straight here. And you're still officially on sick leave for another seven days."
"Seven Days!" Tom looked at the Doctor. "What am I supposed to do for seven days?"
"I can make it more than seven days, if I find it necessary."
"Oh no, come on Doc, what am I supposed to do for seven days? Read?"
"What a wonderful idea Mr. Paris. You can catch up on all the medical text you have missed out on during your stay in Sickbay."
"You have to be kidding me." Tom's incredulous voice followed the Doctor's back as he walked into his office.
"And if that is not enough I have plenty more texts for you to choose from. I'm sure you'll find something that holds your interest."
Kathryn leaned against the side of the turbolift as her temples throbbed in time to the speed of the lift. She braced herself as she felt the lift begin to slow and finally stop and she closed her eyes as the doors opened, seemingly two hundred decibels louder than normal. She walked down the corridor still debating whether or not to actually visit Sickbay. *It's just a headache. It'll pass. *
*You've had it for the past seven days. *
*It's nothing a good cup of coffee and a long night's sleep won't fix. *
*Just go and see the Doctor, It'll be easier than spending another fourteen days trying to get a decent night's sleep. *
She nodded curtly to a crewmember she passed, rounded the corner and walked through the Sickbay doors.
"Ah Captain, what can I do for you?"
The Doctor's voice echoed like a penny being dropped in a deep well and she grimaced as the pain in her head throbbed in response.
"I have a headache."
"Then sit down and let me take a look." The Doctor indicated to the bio bed nearest the Captain. "Hmm. Your electrolight levels are extremely low and the amount of Caffeine in your blood is through the roof." He raised an eyebrow and fixed the captain with a disapproving stare. "Exactly how long have you had this headache Captain?"
"A couple of days."
"A couple of Days? From the reading I'm seeing here, you've had this headache for almost a week."
"I though it would go away."
"When was the last time you had more than two hours sleep, Captain?"
"A few days."
"A few days?" The Doctor stared at her with an unbelieving look on his face.
"At least two weeks."
Kathryn felt a hypospray being injected into her neck and immediately felt the pain in her temples begin to subside.
"If you'd like I could give you a sedative to help you sleep."
"As it's such a rare event that the Captain of this vessel graces my sickbay with her presence is there anything else that you would like me to take a look at?"
Kathryn fixed the Doctor with a cold gaze. "No thank you, that is all."
"Hey Doc, what's this one all about?" Tom walked into the main sickbay area from inside the Doctor's office looking at the padd he carried in his hand.
"Captain." Tom noticed his Captain sitting on the bio bed. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." Kathryn got up from the bio bed and stood stiffly by its side. "Thank you Doctor but if you excuse me I have things to do." She nodded to the Doctor and to Tom and left Sickbay before either of them could protest.
"What was all that about?" Tom watched his Captain rush from the Sickbay and then looked at the Doc.
"I don't know. She came in complaining of a headache and then as soon as she saw you she made an excuse to leave."
Tom frowned. "B’Elanna told me she's been shutting herself in her office since we came back from the planet."
"I wouldn't know. I have only seen her a couple of times since I released her from sickbay. She came down here a few times to sit by you…"
"She sat by me?" Tom looked at the Doctor his voice reflecting his surprise.
"Yes, she came and sat by you for many hours while you where in a coma."
Tom stared at the sickbay doors. "Do you think I should go and talk to her?"
"If she has been locking herself away, I doubt somehow she would talk to you Tom."
"Yeah maybe but… It's worth a try."
Kathryn sat on the couch in her quarters staring out at the stars they were passing by at warp. Mentally kicking herself for leaving Sickbay like that and once again avoiding Tom, like she had been for the last week. *Tom's been awake for nearly a week. He's confused and can't remember very much about what happened and yet you keep running away from him. Why? *
*I can't… I can't face him. Not yet. *
*Are you afraid of what you might reveal to him? Reveal to him that you were prepared to go over the edge because of what Kalan did to him? Because you care for him that much? Because you wanted revenge, pure and simply, no morals, no ethics, just revenge? Because you were the one that got his butt out of that Auckland penal colony you're the only one who's allowed to hurt him? Is that it? You're the only one allowed to punish him? Control him? You encouraged him to grow and then punish him for growing. Are you afraid that if you tell him it will destroy all that is left of his respect for you? *
*No. I don't think of Tom as anything more than another one of my crewmembers. I treat him like the others and I would have done the same if Kalan had tortured another member of my crew. *
*You treat him like the others? Is that why you send him into situations that would mean certain death for others but he comes back. And every time he comes back, you send him on more and more dangerous missions? Why Kathryn? He's just another member of your crew. Do you do it because you know of his need to be a hero, and you exploit it? If you treat him the same, why do you always have the nagging feeling of guilt if anything goes wrong while he's away on one of these missions? Is it, because you treat him like the others, the reason why you busted him and threw him in the brig for thirty days for disobeying you direct order? You'd do exactly the same to your other crewmen wouldn't you Kathryn? And yet you didn't demote Tuvok when he went against your direct order, or Chakotay, or B’Elanna or Harry. Aren't they just other members of your crew? Are they any different? The truth is in time you learned to trust Tom, you took him aboard this ship, gave him a position a status and you gave him the chance he needed to redeem himself in his own eyes. And in return he gave you his undying trust, his loyalty and when he disobeyed your trust you felt betrayed. So you demoted him. Because he hurt you deeply and because he betrayed the trust you placed in him. The thing is Kathryn. Tom's not the same person you met in that penal colony 5 years ago. He's grown as a man and as an officer. He found something he believed in and he acted on it. Just like his role model would have. Just like you would. The fact is Kathryn, you encouraged him to grow and then punished him for growing *
*He disobeyed my direct order. Broke the prime directive. He was engaged in a terrorist act on an alien planet. What was I supposed to do? He deserved it. *
*And Tuvok didn't? Harry didn't? Tuvok broke the prime directive. Did you demote him? Harry disobeyed several of your direct orders. Argued with you on your bridge. Did you demote him? He's just following an example set by the person for whom he feels the most loyal to. Tom would never intentionally hurt you, as you feel for him as a mother he feels for you as a son. *
*He betrayed my trust. My belief in him. *
*Exactly! And that's why you demoted him and threw him in the brig. Because he hurt you. Why not demote Chakotay when he disagreed with you when you wanted to form an alliance with the Borg? Didn't that hurt you? The fact he wouldn't stand by you? Wouldn't support you? I'll tell you the reason why... Because you feelings for Tom run as a mother's would for her son, you felt he needed to be punished more severely than the others so he would learn a lesson. Its called tough love Kathryn. And the truth is, you regret what you did don't you? *
*Yes you do. You were prepared to kill Tom to stop him, and then you demoted him and threw him in the brig. Instantaneously destroying both your professional and private relationship with Tom. Were you not, like Chakotay said, blinded by your anger? Did you not make a split second decision in anger that you now regret? *
*Maybe, maybe sometimes I regret what I did, but I was lenient. If we were in the Alpha Quadrant there would be Starfleet Admirals calling for Tom's neck, demanding he be sent back to the penal colony. I just need some time. *
*But you're not in the Alpha Quadrant, Kathryn, you're in the Delta Quadrant thousands of light years away from anything Starfleet except this ship, this crew. A crew that you are determined will stick with the principals Starfleet believes in, no matter what. *
*This ship and this crew wouldn't be the same if we did not follow those principals. They make us who we are. *
*And yet you yourself throw those principals out of the window the moment you find something you find worth believing in. You formed an alliance with the Borg. You took a Borg Drone on board you ship and integrated her into your crew against her wishes. The amount of times you have traded Starfleet technology for information. The amount of times you have interfered in an alien planet’s affairs. All those times you went against your precious Starfleet principals. Starfleet command would have a field day with the amount of times you have broken or bent the prime directive. If anyone on board this ship deserves to be thrown in the brig and demoted for disobeying the prime directive it would be you Kathryn. How much time do you need before you talk to him? Why do you need so much time? To try and rationalise your decision. To think about how you're going to tell Tom you were prepared to have this ship destroyed so you could have revenge on the man who put him in sickbay? All that for a man you insist you have no feelings for other than that of a Captain and her crewmember. With whom you destroyed your personal and professional relationship. The more you put it off the harder it will become. Is three weeks not time enough? *
Kathryn's musing was cut off when she heard the door chime go. "Come in."
Tom walked into his Captain's quarters and suddenly began to feel extremely uncomfortable. He didn't know what has possessed him to want to come and talk to his Captain but now that he was here he didn't know what to do. "Urm. I hope I'm not interrupting anything Captain." Tom stood just in front of the doors he had passed through, automatically standing rigidly with his arms behind his back.
Kathryn hadn't moved from the chair as she heard the doors open and close. It wasn't until the person who had just entered spoke that she moved. "Tom?"
Tom watched as Kathryn finally turned to greet him. The lights from the stars outside lit her face in such a way so he could see the surprise that his visit had caused. "I'm sorry for just barging in Captain. I just…" Tom looked down at his feet "I just thought for some strange reason you might want to talk." Tom looked back at his Captain, his blue eyes searching for any sign of emotion in on her face and in her eyes.
Kathryn stood up from her chair and walked over towards Tom. "I think it's about time we sat down and talked don't you Tom?"
Tom looked down at his feet again not wanting to look at into his captain's eyes. Not wanting to see what they held. To see what his Captain held, deep within her soul. "B’Elanna told me that Chakotay was worried about you. That you'd been in your ready room most of the time since Kalan left the ship. She told me he was worried you might be getting depressed again." Tom looked at his Captain to see her staring at him, an unreadable expression on her face. "I just… Well I suppose I just wanted… to see you myself, to make sure you were all right and to say thank you." Tom's voice was soft and gentle as though he was having trouble saying what he was. His body was stiff as though he expected to be dressed down for attempting to talk to her.
Kathryn took a step towards Tom, the light on her face being replaced by the shadows of her quarters. Resisting the urge to place her hands on his shoulders to make him relax. "Say thank you for what Tom?"
Tom's eyes adjusted as he tried to see his captain's face, trying to decide if he should really be talking to his captain like his. Ignoring everything his father and his childhood had taught him about a Captain and their subordinates. "For being there." His voice was quite. He brought his hands from his back and crossed them over his chest, his eyes flicking from his captain and the stars dancing behind her.
Kathryn inwardly cringed as Tom crossed his arms over his chest. A gesture of self-defence and defiance.
"I don't remember much about what happened on that planet…"
He paused as he saw Kathryn visibly stiffen at the mention of the Dectarian planet, and he could imagine her lips set in a thin tight line. "But what I do remember is you being there when ever I woke up," he dropped his arms from his chest so that they hung loosely by his side.
"I remember waking up and you would have my head on your lap and you'd be wiping the blood or the sweat from my face and forehead. I remember you telling me to hold on, and that everything would be all right." Tom stared again at his captain. "I've been through quite a few things Captain, and there have been times that I didn't want to go on, but there's never been anyone who was always there for me like you were. Even after I messed up and didn't get you out in time…"
Kathryn listened, trying to keep the tears in her eyes from falling. As she heard him beginning to blame himself she banished them and took a quick couple of steps forward and took him by the shoulders.
Tom's blue eyes locked onto hers in shock.
"You listen to me Thomas Eugene Paris. If I ever hear you trying to blame yourself for what happened down there I will personally hurt. It was not you fault. None of it. Do you understand?"
"You had no idea what Kalan was planning to do and when you did realise something was happening, you tried to do something about it. If what happened down on that planet was anyone's fault then it was mine. I shouldn't have insisted we go down there in the first place. And I shouldn't have fallen for Kalan's false charm so easily." Kathryn's tone changed as she began to turn the blame on herself. "I'm the Captain of this vessel and it's my responsibility if anything happens to it or any of her crewmen…"
She stopped and turned away, frustrated. "You wouldn't understand Tom."
Tom watched as she walked back towards the window, and frowned, puzzled at how fast the conversation had turned. He took a step towards his Captain, hating to see her punish herself. "No, I think I do, probably not as well as you do but I know what it's like to blame yourself, because of a judgement you made or didn't make…"
Kathryn turned from the window to look at the man that stood before her. She had heard from quite a few people that Tom Paris was good at listening to people, drawing from his own unfortunate experiences to give them advice. It looked as if now she would be on the receiving end of some such advice. And for the first time in quite a while she was getting to see the real Tom Paris, without the famous Paris mask guarding his feelings.
"I know what it's like to punish yourself and I know what it's like to never get any sleep at night because your dreams are haunted by images." Tom saw his Captain turn back to face him and then begin to walk back to where she had stood moments before. "I may not have the same kind of experience as you have Captain, and I've learned my own ways of keeping people at arms length when I'm hurting, but with all due respect you can't do that Captain."
Kathryn frowned and looked up at Tom, puzzlement clear in her eyes.
"Like you said, you are the Captain of this ship. People look up to you, people respect you. You unfortunately don't have the option of locking your self away from everyone, we rely on you, depend on you. No one blames you for what happened on that planet, least of all me. And no one wants to see you punish yourself like you did when we travelled through that void. We don’t want to see you depressed Captain. You're our Captain, whenever you're unhappy the crew's unhappy. What happened on that planet was a mistake. The kind of mistake anyone could have made, even one of the best judges of character in the whole of Starfleet. None of us knew what was going to happen on that planet and no one could have imagined what did happen on that planet."
Kathryn looked into his eyes. "It's a mistake that shouldn't have happened."
"But it did happen." Tom's voice was harsh. He took a deep breath and tried to rein in his anger, remembering exactly whom he was opening up to. He stared at his Captain and again tried to convince his captain. "It happened, Captain and now it's over. You've got to put it past you. Learn from it and move on. It's over now. It's finished, it will make us wiser to people like Kalan and it will make us more cautious." Tom stared into his Captains eyes, seeing the uncertainty there and put his hands on her shoulders. "But the main thing is that is wasn't you fault, and if you don't believe me go ask Chakotay or Tuvok or any other person on this ship and they'll tell you it wasn't you fault. I know for a fact that Chakotay and Kim are both surprised at how easily and quickly they warmed to Kalan's charms." Tom shook his head took a step back away from his captain and took his hands away from her shoulders. His voice was strong and intense. "It was a mistake and if I have to I'll remind you every day, even if you order me not to. I'll remind you and Chakotay will remind you and the rest of the crew will remind you. We won't let you punish yourself Captain, you're better and stronger than that. We depend on you. We wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for you."
"If it wasn't for me we wouldn't be here at all," Kathryn's voice was filled with sorrow.
"I don't mean because you were the one that destroyed the array. I mean because if it weren't for you we would never have come this far. We came past the Borg, survived the Hirogen and Species 8472. We're a family, we've become a family because of all the pain we've shared and the joy we've shared and you're as much a part of this family as anyone. You're the centre of this family, without you there wouldn’t be one. We're here for you if you need us, if you want to rant and rage and let your hair down. You don't always have to be Captain Janeway, there's more to you than that." Tom smiled as he remembered a conversation he's had with Harry a long time ago. "Forget Starfleet protocol about not mixing with your junior officers. That's one rule we can't afford to keep in force. If we did I don't think half of us would have lasted this long, and I would be one of them." Tom's voice had grown softer and his gaze flickered from the stars in front of him to the woman who gave him another chance in life.
Kathryn looked at the Tom and slowly brought her hand to his face. "I think Tom, I should enlist you to give me some advice more often."
Tom smiled his blue eyes shining happily then became serious again. "If you expect me not to blame myself for what happened then I would ask the same of you. " Tom stopped talking and watched his captain, only now as she was so close could he see that her eyes were red and there were bags underneath them. He could see how much this had been eating her inside and he was suddenly glad he’d had the urge to come and talk to his Captain.
Kathryn stared at Tom, suddenly feeling a sense of extreme pride about the man before her. And just as suddenly, felt a deep sense of sadness as she remembered how laboured their relationship had been since the incident with the water planet. She watched Tom's eyes, seeing the open venerability they held and she hugged him, they way a mother would her son.