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.
The Delta Flyer was being fired on but Harry, who was at the helm, was able to evade the most direct hits. Tuvok fed the scanner reports directly to the helm and fired back at the Romulan Warbird.
"I'm picking up the shuttle on the surface now, Ensign Kim." Tuvok reported. "It's about 500 meters from the Warbird, just past a stand of trees."
"Harry, bring it down. We'll provide cover fire." Chakotay ordered. "The Warbird appears to be on the surface and they will have difficulty tracking us."
"Aye, Sir." Harry guided the Flyer to the surface just 10 meters from the shuttle. "Commander, sensors read a surface temperature of 6 degrees, Celsius."
The away team put on the heavy jackets that they had stowed on the flyer, and headed for the shuttle. Once inside, they discovered Darwin's body and the damage from the Romulan's weapons. The communication's console had been destroyed. along with other smaller consoles.
"It appears that Crewman Darwin died instantly." the Doctor stated as he scanned the body with his medical tricorder.
Weapons fire could be heard outside the shuttle so Tuvok led the away team to the cover of some nearby rocks. They exchanged fire with the Romulans who fled to the Warbird. One of the Romulans was seen heading for the caves.
"Commander, you and the Doctor come with me. We'll circle around to the cave entrance and try to locate Ensign Paris and Crewman Morrow." Tuvok ordered and then turned to the others. "You stay here and observe the Warbird.
As Tuvok, Chakotay, and the Doctor worked their way around the Warbird, it unexpectedly lifted into the air. They watched it rise to several hundred meters above the planet's surface, move off to the north, and suddenly explode. They then continued into the cave.
"Captain, I'm picking up weapons fire on the surface. The Romulans are firing on the away team." Ensign Lang reported from the Ops station.
"Hail the Warbird." Janeway ordered.
The viewport suddenly was filled with the bridge crew of the Romulan Warbird. Subcommander Karsis's angry face glared at the Captain. "You were warned to stay off the planet's surface. Your men will be killed."
"I will not leave any of my crewmembers to be prisoners on your ship. I will open fire on your ship if you do not cease firing on my away team immediately." Janeway snapped at the Subcommander with fire in her eyes. She was extremely protective of her crew.
"The Warbird is powering up their engines." Ensign Lang stated in a nervous voice.
"Target their propulsion system." Janeway ordered.
As they watched the sensors, the Warbird lifted off the planet's surface and headed towards Voyager. On the viewscreen, the Romulans on the bridge could be seen shouting about one of their consoles. The Subcommander turned to Janeway and scowled at her. "The Federation will never gain access to our cloaking system or our ship." he calmly stated as the Warbird suddenly exploded before them.
"Captain, our sensors indicate that their warp core overloaded." Ensign Lang noted.
"Contact the away team." Janeway sank into her command chair, letting out the breath she had been holding.
Morrow continued to crouch in front of Tom, gripping a large rock as his only weapon. "Th..that sounds like the weapons fire is on the ground." he stammered.
"The Captain must have sent an away team down to the surface." Tom's voice was becoming quite raspy. He shivered as he tried to listen for sounds of approaching Romulans. Suddenly there was a loud explosion and the weapons fire outside ceased. The cave became strangely quiet.
Morrow clutched the rock tighter in his hand as he heard someone moving in from the entrance of the cave. One of the Romulans suddenly ran into the cave, a phaser rifle in his hands. He motioned for Morrow to move away from Tom and aimed the rifle at him.
Morrow slowly stood up but kept the rock in his hand. He stepped in front of Tom, shielding him from the Romulan who once again motioned him to one side. As the Romulan raised his rifle, Morrow charged him throwing the rock at his head. The Romulan ducked to one side avoiding the rock. His phaser rifle discharged striking Morrow in the leg. Morrow fell to the floor of the cave and watched in alarm as the Romulan took several steps towards Tom and aimed the rifle at his chest.
"Morrow, are you OK?" Tom tried to shout. He heard footsteps and his heart began to race, as he feared the rest of the Romulans were coming for them. He heard a familiar voice order the Romulan to drop his weapon and heard two blasts from phaser rifles and the thud of a body hitting the floor of the cave. "Morrow, what's happening? Who's there?" Tom asked anxiously as he heard others enter the cave.
"Doctor, check on Morrow." Chakotay ordered as he moved to Tom's side. In the light from his wrist lamp, he could see the burns on Tom's hands and face in stark contrast to the younger man's fair skin. He also noted the vacant stare in Tom's eyes.
"C..commander, is that you?" Tom stammered as he began to shiver uncontrollably, both from the cold and fear. "Is Morrow OK?"
Chakotay put his hand on Tom's left shoulder to reassure him. "Yes, Tom. It's Chakotay. You're safe now. Morrow has a leg wound but he'll be fine." He noted how pale Tom's face was and that his lips were turning blue. "It must be below 0 in here." He pulled his jacket off and put it around Tom just as the Doctor came forward and began to scan Tom with his tricorder.
"Well, Mr. Paris, I see you'll be gracing my sickbay once again." The Doctor stated as he pulled a hypospray from his medkit and held it against the side of Tom's neck. "This will help with the pain until we can get back to the Delta Flyer."
"D..doc, it's good to hear your v..voice." Tom whispered as he slumped back against the wall of the cave. Relief from the pain was evident on his face, as the hypospray took effect.
The Doctor finished his scan and motioned Tuvok and Chakotay to one side. "We need to get both men back to Voyager. They are both suffering from hypothermia and exposure. Crewman Morrow has a mild concussion and phaser burns. He'll be fine."
"And Ensign Paris, Doctor?" Tuvok questioned.
"Mr. Paris suffered severe electrical and chemical burns to his hands and face. Both corneas as well as his larynx have been burned. In addition, his right arm has been refractured."
"Will he recover fully, Doctor?" Chakotay hesitated in asking.
"I believe so. But we must get him to sickbay as soon as possible." the Doctor replied, concern evident in his voice.
Harry had gone over to Tom after the Doctor and Chakotay moved away. "Hey, Tom. You picked a great place for a work break." he tried to lighten the mood.
Tom gave him a faint smile as he replied. "Well, you know, Harry, I'm always looking for someplace new to explore." He sounded tired and Harry thought he looked like hell but at least he could still joke about the situation. "We'll get you back to Voyager soon, Tom."
"Ensign Kim, return to the shuttle and, when we are clear of the cave entrance, you are to institute a transport directly to the Delta Flyer." Tuvok turned to Harry.
"Aye, Sir." Harry answered. He took a last look at his friend and hurried out of the cave. Tuvok moved to the Romulan's side as the Doctor scanned him with the tricorder.
"He's dead, Lieutenant." the Doctor announced as he stood and closed the tricorder.
Chakotay returned to Tom's side. "Can you stand?" he asked.
"Yeah, I think so." Tom's reply was barely a whisper. "I..I'll need help." Chakotay grabbed Tom's left arm and helped him to stand, then placing his right arm around Tom's waist he led him from the cave. Lieutenant Ayala had put his coat around Morrow and was assisting him from the cave.
When the six men exited the cave Tuvok called for a transport to the aft section of the Delta Flyer.
"Ensign Kim to Voyager." Harry sat at the communications console in the Delta Flyer.
"Captain Janeway here, Harry. What do you have to report?" Janeway's calm voice concealed her concern for the crewmembers on the surface.
The relief was clear in Harry's reply. "We found them Captain. Tom and Morrow are hurt but they're both alive. Darwin was killed on the shuttle. As soon as they're clear of the cave, we'll beam them to the flyer. The Doctor checked them both out and we'll need to get them both to sickbay but he thinks they'll be OK."
"That's good news, Harry. Transporters are still down but I'll have a medical crew meet you in the shuttle bay to bring them to sickbay. Janeway out."
Just then, Harry heard Tuvok requesting a beam out. He initiated the transport and went below to meet them.
Chakotay helped Tom to one of the two biobeds as Morrow sat on the other one. He then motioned Lieutenant Ayala to the helm. Tuvok and Lieutenant Baxter went to the Ops and Tactical stations. The Doctor approached Tom with another hypospray in his hand.
"Mr. Paris, I'm going to give you some Tri-ox to help with your breathing." he held the hypospray to the side of Tom's neck." I also need to put some drops in your eyes to keep your corneas moist. They might prove to be uncomfortable." he produced a small vial and carefully administered two drops in Tom's eyes.
Tom drew in a quick breath as the drops entered his eyes. "Uncomfortable, Doc? That burns like hell. Always the master of understatement." He closed his eyes, his face showing the obvious pain.
Harry slowly approached the biobed, concern for his friend showing on his face. "Tom, how are you doing?" he asked quietly, touching Tom's shoulder in reassurance although he wasn't sure if it was Tom or himself that needed the reassurance.
Tom opened his eyes although it was obvious that he couldn't see Harry standing at his side. "I've been better, Harry." he managed to rasp out his throat threatening to close from the chemical burns. "Hey, Har, if you're back here, who's at the helm? It's not Chakotay is it?" Tom sounded worried and possessive of his Flyer.
"Tom......" Harry hesitated as he saw Chakotay standing in the doorway. The Commander grinned at Harry and motioned him to keep quiet.
"Come on, Harry. You know Chakotay's reputation for crashing shuttles. Is he at the helm?" Tom whispered.
"No, Paris. I'm not at the helm." Chakotay stated as he moved to Tom's side. The Doctor returned to the biobed and Chakotay turned to him. "How is he, Doctor?"
"He'll need treatment for the chemical burns on his corneas and larynx. The fractures can be regenerated. I'd like to keep him in sickbay for at least 48 hours to let his eyes heal properly but Mr. Paris should be able to return to duty after three days." The Doctor checked the readings on the biobed and moved to Crewman Morrow's side.
"Chakotay...I...didn't mean anything about your flying." Tom stammered.
"No offense taken, Paris. I know how protective you are towards the Flyer. I'm sorry we couldn't get down to you sooner."
"That's OK. I knew you'd find us eventually." Tom said as his eyes began to close. The ordeal on the planet was finally catching up to him. He drifted off to sleep and Chakotay returned to the bridge area of the Flyer.
They approached Voyager and the shuttle bay doors opened. Lieutenant Ayala guided the Flyer into the shuttle bay where the medical crew was waiting. The Doctor accompanied Tom and Morrow to sickbay while Tuvok and Chakotay went to the Captain's ready room. They reported on the away mission and Morrow's role in the harassment of Tom over the past several weeks.