Disclaimer - Paramount and Viacom own the characters from Voyager, although they didn't often treat them right. The story line belongs to me.
A special thanks to: My friend and editor of all my stories, Mill3rs.
B'Elanna walked over to the beige couch on the far side of the Captain's ready room. It was placed in front of the large view port. The stars moved by slowly as the ship moved, on impulse power, through this section of space.
"Would you like anything to drink?" the Captain asked as she moved back to the replicator on the wall next to her desk.
"Yes, it appears he was attacked and beaten up pretty badly outside the Jeffries tube that you two had been working in." Janeway watched B'Elanna's face for her reaction.
"Captain, may I see him? I know that he's been confined to quarters, due to the fight with Dalby, but I want to see for myself that he's OK."
"Captain, I wanted to come to you before. Harry and I had both noticed Tom's behavior had changed in the past few weeks. He was withdrawn and much too quiet for Tom. I knew something was troubling him but he refused to talk about it. The fight with Dalby was not Tom, at least not the Tom of the past year. He's changed, Captain. He wouldn't have gone off like that without a good reason. If I had come to you earlier maybe this last attack could have been prevented." B'Elanna stated as she tried calming herself down.
Janeway then stood up from the couch , indicating that their conversation was over. They walked to the ready room door but stopped before it opened. "Of course, this discussion is not to go beyond this room."
Tom sat on the edge of a biobed with the Doctor standing in front of him. "Try one more set, Mr. Paris." Doc instructed Tom how to use the resistive device to strengthen his right arm. A metal band went around his upper arm with a smaller one around his forearm. A thick elastic cord stretched between the bands and Tom straightened his elbow against the resistance. He repeated this ten times and then removed the two bands and placed the device next to him on the biobed.
The doors opened and B'Elanna walked in and went straight to Tom's side. She had a concerned look on her face and tentatively reached out to his left cheek. "I heard what happened. Are you OK?" she asked.
"Yeah, I'm fine, now." his quiet reply and pale face belied his statement. The red light of the cortical monitor stood out against his fair skin along with the faint bruise showing over his left cheek. "Can I go now, Doc?" he asked calmly.
The Doctor checked the monitor and shook his head slightly at the subdued demeanor of his most frequent patient. Tom's physical injuries were healing well but he was afraid that the emotional impact of the attack was affecting him deeply. "Will Lt. Torres be returning to your quarters with you?" he asked in the interest of Tom's safety. Captain Janeway had stated that Tom was not to be alone until his attackers were caught.
A faint blush spread across Tom's face at the Doctor's question and he looked away from B'Elanna. "I'm not sure, Doc." he answered hesitantly."
"Yes, Doctor. I just left the Captain and I'll go with Tom back to his quarters and meet up with Harry." B'Elanna gave the Doctor a slight smile as Tom stepped off the biobed. She held out her arm and he grabbed onto it with his left hand.
"In that case, Lieutenant I'll entrust you with these two hyposprays." handing them to B'Elanna. "They are for pain, if Mr. Paris requires them. They should be given every four to six hours, if needed, and should be enough until tomorrow." Turning then to Tom, he said. "You are to report here at 0900 hours to have the cortical monitor checked and for another therapy session. You need to use the resistance band for two more sessions today." the concern for the helmsman clear in the Doctor's expression.
'I swear the Doctor is becoming more human every day. He really cares about Tom.' B'Elanna thought. "I'll be sure he gets the hyposprays, Doctor, and does his exercises." She also picked up the resistance band.
"Yeah, Doc. I'll be in capable hands." Tom's smile did not reach his eyes and his hand on B'Elanna's arm trembled slightly as they turned and headed out of sickbay.
As the doors to sickbay closed, the couple did not notice the two crew members, at the end of the corridor, watching them walk towards the turbolift. The silent figures turned in the opposite direction and scurried down the hall.
The chime to the ready room sounded. "Enter." the Captain's voice was heard. The doors swooshed open and Tuvok entered. He moved swiftly to the Captain's desk and stood at attention. Janeway stood at her viewport gazing at the starscape. "Yes, Lieutenant, what is it?" she did not turn from the view.
"I have finished questioning Crewman Dalby and I believe he is telling the truth that he was not involved in the incident last night concerning Ensign Paris. Scanning logs indicate that no one entered or left his quarters after 1700 hours yesterday except when he was brought to my office." Tuvok's quiet voice stating the information in an emotionless tone only served to upset the Captain.
"Someone is responsible for this and I mean to find out who. No member of my crew deserves to beaten so severely that they could have died." her voice rising, Janeway turned toward Tuvok.
"Do you wish Dalby to remain in his quarters, Captain or should I release him?" Tuvok asked with an impassive look on his face.
'If only Tuvok would show some of what he's thinking. I value his counsel but I need the emotional support. Who could hate Tom so much that they would risk killing him?'
"Yes, he is released from his quarters. I want an open comm badge on Ensign Paris at all times with a direct link to security." she waved him to the door and returned to gaze at the slowly moving stars.
The ship continued on its steady course to the Alpha Quadrant. Tom returned to the helm, after three days, and was accompanied by someone at all times. Tuvok was still unable to find evidence pointing to any crew member regarding the attack on Tom.
The Alpha shift was ending and several relief officers had entered the bridge. As Tom explained the current readings at the helm, the ship was suddenly rocked with a blast from a Kazon ship that appeared out of nowhere. It was unexpectedly on the main view screen. "Red alert. Shields on full. Evasive maneuvers, Mr. Paris." the Captain shouted above the sound of consoles exploding.
Klaxons began to blare as Tom's fingers moved deftly across his console. The ship lurched to port and dove under the smaller attacking vessel. "Shields at 48%, Captain. Targeting their weapons array." Tuvok's voice cut through the confusion on the bridge.
"Captain, I'm losing control of the helm. The navigational array is off-line." Tom's voice rising in alarm as he struggled to regain control of the ship's movements."
As suddenly as it began, all was quiet except for the hiss of plasma escaping the ruptured consoles at telemetry. Luckily the station had been unmanned due to the still area of space they had been traveling through. The view screen showed only the stars in their constellations. They were not moving.
The Captain rose from her chair and ordered. "Stand down Red Alert."
"Engineering to Captain Janeway." B'Elanna could be heard over the comm system. "The warp core is off-line. I can give you impulse power only."
"That won't be necessary. The navigational array is also out." Janeway answered. She turned to Tuvok. "Report, Lieutenant."
"Shields are holding at 38%, damage reports coming in from engineering and Astrometrics. No major injuries reported." Tuvok's calm reply brought order to the Captain's thoughts.
The Captain turned to Chakotay "Commander, get repair crews down to engineering. We have to get the warp core back online before our 'friends' return."
"Yes, Captain." He replied and started issuing commands from his console.
Repairs were taking longer than anyone expected and the various shifts wandered in and out of the mess hall, tired and hungry. Neelix kept a steady stream of dishes prepared for the crew.
Ken Dalby approached the counter and grabbed a mug of coffee and something that resembled stew. He moved to a corner table, aware of the looks he received from some of the Star Fleet crew members. 'They've heard about the fight with Paris. I wonder how many know about last night. The Captain probably still believes that I was involved.'
Two crew members sat at a table near Dalby, apparently unaware of his presence. "I heard they put an open comm link on Paris. What if he starts to remember something, Frank?" one of them asked.
"I told you, James. Just keep your mouth shut. Nobody suspects us and Paris won't remember what happened." Frank replied as they returned to eating their meals in silence. Finishing their dinner, the two men got up and walked towards the corridor.
Dalby finished his meal and left the mess hall following the two crew members.
The warp core was still off-line and Tom and Harry along with several engineers were trying to get the navigational array up and running. The Captain called Tom into her ready room and asked for an update on the repairs. When she was informed that the damage was more extensive then first believed, she asked if he could examine the ship from the outside to determine the exact location of the damage.
"I want you to go out in one of the smaller shuttles. You would need to take a crewman from engineering as well as someone familiar with the plasma manifolds." Janeway stated. She had asked Chakotay for the crew list and he had suggested Crewmen Darwin and Morrow. "They'll meet you in the shuttle bay in 30 minutes." she dismissed Tom and returned to the bridge to oversee repairs to the engineering station.
Dalby was nearing the turbolift when the Captain's hail reached Darwin and Morrow. They were instructed to join Ensign Paris in the shuttle bay for an exterior inspection of Voyager's nacelles. He saw the deceptive smile on Frank Darwin's face as the two men entered the turbolift. "Shuttle bay." the deep voice ordered as the doors closed.
'I shouldn't get involved but this could be trouble.' he thought as he tapped his comm badge. "Crewman Dalby to Captain Janeway."
"I'm rather busy Crewman, could this wait?" Janeway's voice sounded as if she were right next to him.
He almost changed his mind but thought better of it. "Captain, may I talk to you privately?"
"Meet me in my ready room in 15 minutes. Janeway out."
He entered the turbolift and ordered the computer to take him to deck one.