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.
Tom entered the shuttle bay and strode over to one of the smaller ships. They needed something small and fast to run external scans over the nacelles to determine the damage their internal sensors were not picking up. As he entered the hatch, he noted the two crewmen that Chakotay had suggested. He had seen them before on occasion but did not know James Morrow, from the manifold repair crew, or Frank Darwin, from engineering, well.
"Ensign Paris, I understand we are going on a scanning flight." James asked in a tremulous voice.
Tom noted the apprehension on Morrow's face. "Are you nervous being in the shuttle, Crewman?" Tom asked sympathetically. He knew how uncomfortable he felt in small, confined spaces.
"No, Sir. Just worried about all of these attacks. I thought we left the Kazon behind months ago." James answered giving a quick glance in Frank's direction.
"Don't they prey on the weak and defenseless." Frank's deeper voice asked with a glare at James. "Voyager seems to fit that bill now." he looked at Tom when he said this and then resumed his checks of the engineering station.
Tom hesitated slightly. Something about Frank's voice seemed to stir a memory but he wasn't sure why, or what, it was. He shook his head to clear it and took the pilot's seat. "If we're ready, gentlemen, lets proceed. Paris to the bridge. Request permission to leave the shuttle bay."
"Kim here, Tom. Your shuttle is cleared for take off. Signaling shuttle bay doors to open now."
The doors opened and Tom smoothly navigated the shuttle into open space. They slowly moved along the outside of Voyager scanning for damage from the last attack. Tom gazed at the ship as they came around for a second pass. The beauty of the ship never failed to move him. He recalled the first time he had seen Voyager. It was from the view screen of the shuttle bringing him from the penal colony to Deep Space 9..........
They had been flying for more than six hours when they reached DS9. "That's our ship." Lieutenant Stadi, the attractive Betazoid pilot had pointed to the view screen. "That's Voyager. An Intrepid Class with 15 decks, a stable cruise velocity of warp 9.975, a crew compliment of 141, and bio-neural circuitry."
Tom was speechless. He had heard about the Intrepid Class but couldn't imagine a more beautiful sight. 'If only I were not an observer' he thought. What would it be like to pilot a beauty like the ship filling the view screen?
After an encounter with the Ferengi, Quark, on DS9, he and Harry Kim had boarded Voyager. Harry was a young, very green, Ensign. Tom knew he was not in for an easy two week 'observation' when the Chief Medical Examiner, Fitzgerald, had brought up Caldik Prime. He tried to avoid telling Harry, but after seeing the CME talking with Commander Cavit in the mess hall, he was determined to tell the young Ensign the truth about his past.
Harry had still decided to be his friend and they had become close in the past few years. Tom's thoughts returned to the shuttle as they neared the port nacelle again. "Paris to Commander Chakotay. Commander, we've spotted some shearing to the port nacelle. We might have to send out crews in EVA suits for the repairs."
"Understood, Paris. After you check the starboard nacelle, return to the ship. Chakotay out."
Just as Tom was starting to reply to Chakotay, the Kazon ship appeared before them, dwarfing the shuttle by its size. A laser beam shot out and the shuttle was forced down and away from Voyager. "Voyager! We are under attack! We'll try to lead them away from you." Tom's voice came over the comm system as the Kazon ship loomed in the main view screen.
Chakotay turned to the tactical station. "Computer, red alert. Tuvok, lock onto the Kazon ship's weapons systems. The shuttle is no match for that ship. "
The chime at the Captain's ready room door sounded. "Come in." she called out. Janeway turned from her view port to see Crewman Dalby enter. "Crewman, please sit." she indicated a chair in front of her desk. "What did you want to see me about?"
Dalby swallowed nervously and sat down. He could not look the Captain in the eyes but clasped and unclasped his hands in his lap.
The Captain cleared her throat and looked directly at Dalby. "Crewman?" her voice was crisp and meant business.
"Captain, Lt. Tuvok told me that Tom Paris had been attacked. I want you to know that I had nothing to do with it. Sure, we d..don't get along, ever since his time on the Liberty, but I could n.never attack someone so viciously. Besides, he's the best pilot on Voyager and I w..want to get home. I have f.family in the Alpha Quadrant." He stammered slightly and his face glistened with sweat.
"Mr. Dalby, I'm afraid I don't have much time for this. If you just want to assuage your conscience, you may speak with Commander Chakotay once we have repairs underway." Janeway rose and implied that she had finished with their meeting.
"Please, Captain. That's not why I'm here. I heard you order James Morrow and Frank Darwin to join Ensign Paris on the shuttle. I overheard them talking in the mess hall and I think they might have been involved with the attack on Ensign Paris." Dalby looked down at the floor. He did not want to be known as a snitch among the Maquis but he also did not want the death of a fellow crewman on his conscience.
"Are you sure about this, Crewman?" Just as the Captain was ready to contact the shuttle, the red alert klaxons began to blare. "You're with me. On the bridge." she turned to Dalby and proceeded through the doors to her command chair.
The bridge was suddenly rocked with a blast from the Kazon ship. Turning to Tuvok, Janeway ordered. "Report!"
"The Kazon ship has returned, Captain. They have fired on the shuttle." Tuvok replied in his quiet, calm voice.
"Mr. Kim, can we beam them out of there?" she asked looking at Harry.
His face paled as he realized the danger his friend was in. "No Captain, the transporters are down."
Captain Janeway stared in horror as the shuttle was rocked again and again by weapons fire from the much larger Kazon vessel.
"Get a tractor beam on them, anything. We have to get them out of there.
Tom fought for control of the helm as the small shuttle was hit with another laser blast. He looked up at the view screen and suddenly swore. "Where the hell did that come from?" Before him, aimed right at the shuttle, was a Romulan Warbird that had just de-cloaked.
They were suddenly hit with a Romulan disruptor beam, plunging the shuttle into darkness. Emergency lighting came on above the consoles. The ship was rocked by the blast of a photon torpedo, fired from the Warbird.
The bridge crew watched helplessly as suddenly, from out of nowhere, appeared a Romulan Warbird. It was headed on a collision course right for the shuttle. As the bridge crew watched helplessly, the Romulan ship drew near the smaller shuttle and the two ships disappeared in a flash of light.
"Captain, we are being hailed." Harry said in a stunned voice. He couldn't believe that the shuttle had disappeared with Tom on it. 'Tom has got to be OK. He's been through too much lately. And why is Dalby on the bridge? He came out of the Captain's ready room. I wonder if he was involved with the attack on Tom.'
"On screen." Janeway ordered. The screen cleared and they were looking into a distinctly Romulan face. 'First the Kazon and now a Romulan on the bridge of the Kazon ship.' she thought. "What is going on and where is our shuttle?" she demanded.
The Romulan officer glanced around the bridge looking at each crew member in turn. "Greetings, Captain Janeway. Your reputation precedes you."
The Captain let out the breath she had been holding and moved to stand behind the conn. She noted Kazon as well as Romulan officers behind the speaker. "To whom do we owe the honor of this visit. I was unaware of any Romulan ships in the Delta Quadrant." She hoped her voice did not betray her apprehension.
"I am Commander Talok of the Romulan Army. We have made an alliance with Maj Goral to track down your ship. We shall be boarding your ship shortly. You are to proceed to the coordinates being transmitted to your helm officer. There you and your crew will be put off the ship."
"And if we refuse to follow those coordinates?" Janeway questioned in an icy tone of voice.
"Your ship will be boarded and the crew taken prisoner. You will find that we are not barbarians. I have convinced Maj Goral to let your people live. Now please proceed to the coordinates. Talok out."
The screen went blank and the crew looked to the Captain for guidance. "Lieutenant, status of engines and shields." she turned to Tuvok.
"Warp engines are off-line and shields are at 48%. I believe the logical course, at the moment, is to follow the Kazon ship while we attempt repairs." Tuvok's quiet voice contrasted with the fear in the other bridge officers.
Tom fought the helm controls on the shuttle as he felt them drawn towards the Warbird. He knew they were being pulled in by a tractor beam. When the Romulan ship was only about 10 meters from the shuttle a bright flash of light engulfed the two ships and they were pulled into warp.
"I can't break free of their tractor beam. Darwin, what's our weapons status?" Tom asked over his shoulder. He couldn't take his eyes off of the helm controls.
"Weapons are off-line, Ensign." Frank spit out. He glared at Tom's back as if it was his fault they were attacked.
The shuttle continued to be pulled helplessly along with the Romulan ship. Tom attempted to access the communication system but only heard static coming from the comm. "I think we are being cloaked and communications can't get through in any direction. Morrow, can you find anything on the long range scanners?"
"There's an M-class planet about one light year ahead, Sir." Morrow answered, fear evident in his unsteady voice. "Do you think Voyager was able to follow us?"
"Why would they even bother?" Frank spit out. "Janeway wouldn't risk the rest of the crew to come after the three of us." He rose angrily from his seat and headed for the helm.
Suddenly, the shuttle pitched sharply to port and shuddered as the tractor beam released them. A shrill sound erupted from the perimeter alarms.
"Sir, we're c..coming in too f..fast to the planet's s..surface." Morrow stuttered as he stared out the view port.
The planet's surface rushed towards them as Tom tried desperately to halt the rapid descent. His fingers flew across the helm control but had no effect. "I can't slow us down. I'll try to steer us into a glide pattern. Brace for impact. "
The shuttle hurtled towards the ground and pitched forward upon impact. The red dust on the surface clouded around the shuttle as it came to a stop. Inside, all was quiet and dark.