By Jane Griffen
Disclaimers: Paramount owns their characters, I own mine and the story :-)
Note: See, I told you all I‘d get it done sooner or later!!! This is the story where Heather makes her debut. Sorry it wasn‘t out sooner!
Lieutenant Heather Andrea Whitney sat at a table in Ten Forward, talking to her good friend Lieutenant Christy McNiel, a fellow Science officer.
"So, what do you think Starfleet thought of our expedition to the twenty-first century, meeting Cohcrane, and having that run-in with the Borg?" Heather asked, her blue eyes sparkling mischieviously.
"I can‘t believe we met him!" Christy replied, not answering the question.
"That we broke the Prime Directive." Lieutenant Shelly Anderson, another one of their friends and an engineer, commented, sitting down.
Christy McNeil snorted. "Yeah, that‘s gotta count for something." she replied dryly.
Shelly Anderson laughed. "You know who I think would‘ve been a great pilot for flying the Pheonix?"
Heather eyed her friend thoughtfully, then answered. "Tom Paris." she said, referring to one of their friends from Starfleet Academy.
"Okay, you guys‘ve lost me. Who‘s Tom Paris?" Christy asked curiously.
Heather and Shelly turned to look at her, mystified.
"You don‘t know who Tom Paris is?" Shelly asked.
Christy shook her head.
Heather let out a low whistle. "You don‘t know who Admiral Owen Paris‘s son is?" she asked, rephrasing the question.
Christy‘s eyes lit up. "Oh, him! Wasn‘t he part of the Caldik Prime accident and then he was banned from Starfleet-"
"So he went to join the Maquis, was captured on his first mission by Starfleet-" Heather continued, but Shelly interrupted.
"And was put in the New Zealand Penal Colony until Captain Kathryn Janeway recruited him to help her catch a rebel Maquis ship-" Shelly said.
"And Voyager disappeared." Christy added.
"Yeah." Shelly replied, taking a sip of her cappucino.
"And that‘s our history lesson for today!" Heather said. She sighed, then brightened. "Anybody up for a game of checkers?" she asked mischieviously.
Christy laughed. "And be humiliated again? No, thank you!"
Heather was about to retort when her commbadge beeped.
"Whitney here." she said, putting down her cup of coffee.
"Lt. Whitney, please report to Shuttle Bay 3." Commander William Riker‘s, first officer of the Enterprise E‘s, voice came over the comm system.
Heather stood up. "Sure, Commander."
"Good. Riker out."
Heather walked to the door, nodding to Guinin on her way.
"Bye, guys!" she called to Shelly and Christy.
"Bye!" they replied, not knowing that that would probably be the last time they‘d ever see her again.
B‘Elanna Torres sat on the edge of her bed, her head in her hands, gently rocking back and forth, deep in thought about why Tom had asked her out on a date while they‘d been in the shuttle before the aliens had attacked.
The door chimed.
She glanced up but didn‘t say anything.
The door chimed again.
She didn‘t say anything.
The door chimed again.
Finally she answered it. "Go away if you know what‘s good for you!" she called, a little annoyed at the persistancy of the caller.
Instead, the doors opened and Harry Kim stepped in.
"B‘Elanna?" he called, glancing around and not seeing her.
Harry walked into the bedroom.
"What do you want?" B‘Elanna asked, eyeing her friend suspiciously.
"Oh, nothing." Harry said offhandedly, shrugging.
"If he sent you hear to convince me to go out with him, you‘re just wasting your breath." she muttered angrily.
The look on Harry‘s face was pure innocent confusion. "What?" he asked. When B‘Elanna didn‘t answer, he rephrased the question. "Who?"
B‘Elanna didn‘t answer.
Harry raised his eyebrow. "Freddie Bristow?"
B‘Elanna jumped up angrily but calmed down, refrained from hitting her friend. "No."
"I was just kidding!" Harry protested.
B‘Elanna eyed him, then sat back down on the bed, deep in thought.
Meanwhile, Harry was racking his brains, trying to think of who had asked B‘Elanna out. Nobody that he could think of came to mind. "Okay. Well, if you feel like socializing anytime soon, I‘ll be around." he said, and walked out.
B‘Elanna barely nodded and went back to thinking. Then, deciding she wasn‘t getting anywhere, got up and headed for Engineering.
Tom Paris entered the Mess Hall and glanced around. After getting something to eat, he decided to join Harry and B‘Elanna. She‘d given him the cold shoulder, and he‘d accepted that. But that didn‘t mean that the they couldn‘t be friends, did it?
"Mind if I join you two?" he asked.
Harry smiled and gestured to the empty seat next to B‘Elanna. "Sure!" he said, not realizing that B‘Elanna was immediately tense.
There was an uncomfortable silence and Harry had no idea what was going on.
"So, what were yout wo talking about?" Tom asked, trying to break the silence.
"Our family backgrounds." Harry replied, since he realized B‘Elanna wasn‘t going to have anything to do with Tom - he had no idea why, though.
Tom snorted. "Not much to tell in mine. Admirals here, admirals there. Pretty dull."
Harry smiled but B‘Elanna frowned. Then, realization dawned on Harry. Tom asked B‘Elanna out on a date? he asked himself, then shook his head. No, it couldn‘t be. But, realizing the tension between the two that Tom was trying to ease, he changed his mind. Yes, it could be.
"Nobody asked you." B‘Elanna said coldly, glaring at Tom.
Tom‘s eyes narrowed. "What‘s that supposed to mean?"
"Well, you don‘t have to go around bragging about your famous family! If you‘d stop talking for a minute, you might realize that nobody cares!" B‘Elanna said, standing up, her anger mounting.
Harry glanced uneasily at his friends. He had no idea what was going on between them, but it wasn‘t good. He‘d never seen B‘Elanna over-react like this in a long time, and even then the outcomes were never good.
"What the heck is the matter with you?" Tom retorted, standing up, confused.
"That‘s what I‘d like to know. What the heck is the matter with you? I already told you I don‘t want to go out with you!" B‘Elanna replied.
Harry‘s eyes widened but he didn‘t say anything. The few officers in the Mess Hall stopped talking, eyeing the two lieutenants cautiously.
"I never said anything about that! Why are you all of a sudden giving me the cold shoulder? Can‘t we still be friends?"
"We‘ll see." B‘Elanna said, and she turned on her heel and stormed off.
Tom remained standing, watching her go and shaking his head. Then he turned and exited the Mess Hall through the other set of doors.
Harry just sat there, deep in thought.
Neelix came over to him. "Ensign Kim, do you know what the matter‘s with them?"
Harry just shook his head. "Sorry, Neelix, but I can‘t answer your question. I‘m just as in the dark as you are."
Neelix remained quiet, then spoke up. "Coffee?"
A few hours later, Kathryn Janeway sat in her ready room, looking over the scans Voyager had picked up.
"Chakotay to Janeway."
Kathryn looked up from the scans. "Janeway here." she said, tapping her commbadge.
"Captain, there‘re some scans you might like to take a look at." Chakotay said.
"I‘m on my way, Chakotay. Janeway out." she said, standing up. She smiled at the sound of her first officer‘s voice.
A moment later she stood on the bridge, staring at the view screen, which showed a large multi-colored nebula, the colors ranging from red to purple to yellow.
"It‘s gorgeous." she said softly.
"I know." Chakotay replied, standing behind her.
"What do we know about the cluster?" Kathryn asked, turning to Harry.
Harry shrugged. "Nothing, really. We‘ll be able to know more about it if we get closer."
Tuvok glanced down at his console. "The energy readings would be too hard for Voyager to handle." he said.
"What about a shuttle?" Harry suggested. "It‘s lighter and wouldn‘t attract so much energy."
"That is a most logical idea." Tuvok commented.
"It would work." Kathryn said. She paused, then added. "Let‘s get Neelix up here and see what he knows about the nebula."
Neelix squinted his eyes and stared at the nebula. "It‘s a standard class nebula with high traces of energy." he said, turning to Captain Janeway.
"That‘s nice, Neelix, but do you know anything that our sensors can‘t pick up from here?" Kathryn asked.
"Well, there‘s enough plasma particles to supply Voyager with replicator rations for quite awhile." Neelix said. "And that a long time ago a race lived here but they died out."
Kathryn nodded absentmindedly. "Harry, can we get any of the plasma particles from here?"
Harry shook his head. "Sorry, we can‘t."
"A shuttle would do." Chakotay commented.
Meanwhile, Tom had been sitting at his post, not really listening to the conversation until Chakotay‘s comment. "I could try to collect the particles from a shuttle." he suggested.
Kathryn‘s brow furrowed, then she nodded. "Very well. Chakotay, go with him. Have Ensigns Sarah MacArthy and Chris Farell go with you." she said.
Tom nodded and walked to the turbolift. Chakotay followed him.
"Good luck!" Harry called after his friend.
Tom smiled gratefully but his mind wasn‘t fully focused.
Kathryn sat back in her chair. "Is it just me or have two certain lieutenants been acting a little off lately?" she asked to no one in particular. "I‘m worried about them. They are always quiet."
"Too quiet." Harry muttered.
"Harry, do you know what‘s wrong with them?" Kathryn asked.
Harry shook his head. "Supposedly he asked her out and she said no, and then they got into a big fight about nothing at lunch today." he commented.
Kathryn‘s brow furrowed, not comprehending. Then she sighed. "Well, I hope they work it out soon." she commented.
Harry nodded and added in a whisper to himself. "That‘s the truth."
Lt. Heather Whitney smoothly piloted the shuttle out of the Enterprise E‘s shuttle bay.
"There." she commented, watching as the shuttle moved swiftly through space.
Ensign Katyari Ayala, a Bajoran and an engineer, spoke up. "What‘s our main mission?" she asked.
Heather turned to her. "To scout the nebula. It‘s supposedly uncharted."
"Figures, since we‘re so far out." Ensign James Stewart commented. "I‘m sending out a probe."
"Good. We‘ll keep track of it while we go through the nebula." Heather said, her fingers dancing across the console as she piloted the shuttle. Captain Picard had chosen her for this mission for three good reasons. She was an excellent pilot, technically a science officer, and knew a lot about engines. Her mother, a Batazoid, had died while giving birth to Heather, and her father, a commander in Starfleet, had died shortly after that while on an away mission. Heather had been sent to live with her Batazoid aunt and uncle on Batazed. She‘d grown up there, at the age of fifteen had left Batazed and gone to live with her other aunt and uncle in California, and at the age of seventeen had tried to get into the Academy. She‘d passed, and four years later she graduated as an ensign. Now, living and working aboard the Enterprise E as a lieutenant, she couldn‘t have wanted anything more.
"Right." Katyari replied.
"Send out a marking beacon, just in case we get lost." Heather said.
"Are you joking?" James Stewart, asked.
Heather shook her head. "We‘re not going to get lost, but just in case we do, we‘ll have a way of getting out of here. After all, this is an uncharted nebula."
"Launching a marking beacon...now." James Stewart said.
A few minutes later, Katyari glanced down. "Some kind of gravametric distursion is pulling us in." she said, a little frantic.
"I‘m sure its nothing." Heather replied, but she had her doubts.
"We‘re being pulled in."
"Riverting engines, full power." Heather replied. That only made the shuttle be pulled in faster. "Launch a distress beacon." she then ordered.
James Stewart did so. "Now what?"
"Try anything you can to get us out of here!" Heather said.
She tried one tactic after another, but nothing worked. Right before they were pulled into the distursion, a blast hit the shuttle and all three became unconcious, unawares that anything had happened.
Chakotay glanced over at Tom, who was staring at the nebula as the shuttle neared it. Ensigns Sarah MacArthy and Chris Farell sat in the passenger section. Tom‘s aloof mood matched B‘Elanna‘s, and Chakotay wondered what was going on between them. He knew about Tom asking B‘Elanna out, but when he‘d asked Torres, she‘d dodged his questions. Now he wasn‘t sure what was going on between them. And what made it even more puzzling was that B‘Elanna refused to talk about it.
Tom snapped out of his trance when a light started flashing on his console. "We‘re entering the nebula." he said, taking the shuttle off auto pilot.
"Good. Can we harness the plasma particles from here?" Chakotay asked.
Tom shook his head. "No. We‘d be better off if we went further in."
"Good. Then do it." Chakotay replied, and Tom did as he was ordered.
Just then, the shuttle lurched forward.
"What was that?" Sarah MacArthy called from the back.
"Looks like some kind of distursion is pulling us in." Tom called.
"Can we break free?" Chakotay asked.
"I‘ll try." Tom replied. A steady beep went off. Tom glanced down and frowned. "Warp core‘s off line. I‘m reverting all power to impulse engines."
"Full reverse." Chakotay replied, but he needn‘t say anything, for Tom had already done that.
"No use. It‘s pulling us in. Full front." Tom replied.
"Release a distress beacon." Chakotay replied.
"Done." Tom replied.
A strong force pulled them in, knocking them unconcious.
Twenty minutes later, Chris Farell pulled himself up from off the floor. He glanced around. Sarah MacArthy lay unconcious, her arm in an awkward position. He went over to her.
"MacArthy?" he asked, shaking her shoulder. He didn‘t know the ensign very well.
Sarah‘s green eyes opened. She glanced around. "What happened?" she asked, sitting up.
"I don‘t know." Chris replied. He helped Sarah up and the two went to the front compartment. Chakotay and Tom Paris sat unconcious in their chairs, slumped forward against the consoles.
"Commander?" Sarah asked, tapping the first officer on the shoulder. She groaned as she moved her right arm. It was definetely broken.
Chakotay opened his eyes and sat up. "What happened?" he asked.
"We seem to be adrift in the center of the nebula." Tom replied, now fully awake.
"Can we hail Voyager?" Chakotay asked.
Tom shook his head. "All main systems are offline. It‘ll take forever to get everything back online." he replied.
Sarah went over to one of the bulkheads. There was a split in one of them and gases fumed out. "We‘d better stop this leak." she commented.
"Too bad there isn‘t an engineer on board." Chris commented dryly.
Like B‘Elanna. Tom thought, then frowned. He‘d asked her, she‘d said no, and he‘d accepted that as an answer. But he still couldn‘t help wishing...Tom shook his head and sighed. He then made himself focus on the task ahead of him.
"I‘m sure we‘ll do fine." Chakotay replied, standing up. Tom stood up as well. "Tom, get a dermal regenerator and heal MacArthy‘s arm. Then you can start fixing the navigational systems and MacArthy, you can fix the comm system. Farell, stabalize the matter-antimatter conduits. I‘ll work on the warp core."
Tom went to get a med kit and got out the dermal regenerator. Then he started to fix Sarah‘s arm while everyone else got to work.
Sarah MacArthy watched as Tom treated her arm. She‘d heard all the rumors about how he‘d asked B‘Elanna Torres out and how she‘d refused and they‘d ended up having a big fight in front of everyone in the Mess Hall. She‘d heard most of the latest gossip from Ensign Jenny Delany, and wondered if it was, if any, true. Then, she realized something.
"Umm...Lt. Paris?" she asked nervously.
Tom glanced up. "Yes?" he asked.
"Aren‘t you supposed to turn the dermal regenerator on first?" Sarah asked.
Tom glanced down at the medical instrument, then comprehension dawned on him. "You know, I think that would help." he replied, turning it on.
Chakotay was busy repairing the warp core when he heard a whiz. Turning around, a tall alien stood aiming a weapon at him. The alien was about his height, had light purple skin and dark purple eyes, and wore black clothing. Tom and Sarah MacArthy were sprawled across the floor, and Chris Farell was leaning against one of the shuttle‘s walls, clutching his side.
"What do you want?" Chakotay asked, raising his arms.
The alien stepped forward. "You are weak."
Chakotay didn‘t say anything; he just glared at the alien.
"As for what we want-"
Chakotay glanced out the window and spotted a rather large starship off the shuttle‘s starboard bow.
"-you will come with us and become our prisoners."
"Our captain isn‘t going to be too happy about this." Chakotay said.
The alien smirked. "I shall destroy this shuttle, making it seem like there was a warp core breech. That should give her plenty of evidence that you are no longer alive."
Before Chakotay could say anything, the alien shot him and he fell limp, right before the five were beamed aboard the enemy ship.
Ensign Harry Kim stood at his post on the bridge, deep in thought about his two friends. So Tom had asked B‘Elanna out and she‘d refused. He wondered if there was more to it than that.
A flashing light brought him out of his thoughts. He glanced down and frowned. "Captain, sensors detect an automatic distress beacon twenty thousand kilometers away. It‘s coming from the last position sensors detected the shuttle to be."
"On screen." Kathryn Janeway ordered, standing up.
The beacon appeared on screen, flashing violently.
"Can you locate the shuttle?" she then asked.
Harry shook his head. "Sensors can‘t-" his voice broke off as more of the sensor sweep appeared on his console. His face paled. "Captain, sensors show the signature of a warp breech inside the nebula."
Kathryn frowned. "Can you tell anything else?"
Tuvok spoke up. "Sensors detect a large cluster of debris floating in space. It contains all the materials vital to a shuttle."
Kathryn sat down in shock. How could a simple away mission like that go wrong? she asked herself. Then, realizing that everyone was staring at her, she stood up again. "Harry, beam the debris into one of the cargo bays. Have B‘Elanna get down there. I want to know what went wrong and how it happened. How could there be a warp core breech anyway? The nebula‘s energy readings aren‘t that intense, are they?" she said sharply.
No one answered.
"I want to know what went wrong. Until we have sufficient evidence, we can‘t assume that they‘re dead." she said angrily.
Still, nobody said anything.
"I‘ll be in my ready room." Kathryn said, and she stormed off the bridge, not really sure why she was mad. She just couldn‘t believe that four of her officers were dead because of a freak accident. That Chakotay was dead...*No,* she thought, shaking her head. *I will not accept it.*
Harry nodded and left the bridge, still not comprehending the idea that one of his best friends and Chakotay were dead. He first went to Engineering, expecting B‘Elanna to be there. He went over to Lieutenant Joe Carey, who was busy working at one of the large consoles on Engineering‘s walls.
"Where‘s Torres?" Harry asked hurriedly.
Comprehension dawned on Joe‘s face. "She left about ten minutes ago. She said something about not feeling too good." he offered, shrugging slightly. "Is there anything I can do for you?"
Harry bit his lip. "Get some engineers and go to Cargo Bay 2." he said plainly.
Carey looked up. "Why? Is something wrong?"
"Yeah, I guess you could say that." Harry said slowly. "The shuttle that was sent out to collect the plasma particles somehow exploded due to a warp core breech. The captain wants you to verify that that is what happened."
Joe‘s cheerfulness vanished. "You mean to say that they‘re all dead?" he asked, incredulously.
Harry nodded sadly.
"I‘ll meet you there?"
"Sure. Just give me a few minutes to tell B‘Elanna."
"Oh, God. Both Chakotay and Paris were on that shuttle, weren‘t they?"
"Yes. And she wasn‘t on too good terms with Tom, either."
Joe Carey winced and watched Harry Kim walk out of Engineering. Then he frowned. "Vorek, Marlett, Chesly, Atwood, Darwin, Hampton, Nicoletti, meet me in Cargo Bay 2."
Tom Paris groaned inwardly as he regained conciousness. The last thing he remembered was treating Sarah MacArthy‘s arm, then suddenly being knocked to the ground. As he got up slowly, he didn‘t recognize where he was. We must have been taken prisoners in the nebula. he thought.
He spotted Chakotay, Sarah MacArthy, and Chris Farell. As he gazed around the small, dark eerie cell, he realized she was probably in a different prison cell. He walked over to what he presumed was a forcefield. He glanced down at his now-dirty uniform. His commbadge and tricorder had been taken. Sighing in frustration, he went to rouse Chakotay and Chris Farell, still deep in thought.
"Where are we?" Sarah asked sleepily as she stood up.
"You are being held prisoners by the Yari." a voice said, and they all turned to see an alien who looked similar to the one who had beamed over to their shuttle. "And you shall never escape."
He laughed a bitter laugh, then closed the doors again.
Tom shivered. He prayed that everything would turn out okay.
"Now what?" Chris Farell asked.
"Well, here‘s some kind of computer panel." MacArthy said, bending over and looking at a small panel next to the doors.
Paris grinned. "Fair enough." he commented, then pressed it once.
"Splendid idea, liuetenant." Chakotay put in.
Tom bit his lip, then the cocky look returned to his face. He began pressing multiple buttons, creating a melody.
The doors opened. This time, three aliens stood there. One walked over to Tom and slapped him. Then they left and the doors closed again.
The four sat down in silence. No one had any more ideas.
After what seemed like eternity, the doors opened. Another person was thrown in.
Sarah MacArthy cautiously turned over the body to reveal a human woman with brown hair. Tom gasped. He knew the woman well. And she was wearing a Starfleet uniform.
"B‘Elanna?" Harry Kim called, running down the corridor. He had spotted the cheif engineer right before she had walked around a corner.
B‘Elanna Torres paused, hearing her name being called. Turning around, Harry nearly ran into her. Seeing the troubled look on his face, she was immediately concerned.
"What‘s wrong, Starfleet?" she asked.
Harry continued walking. How should I put this?
"Put what?" B‘Elanna asked.
Harry paused, not realizing he‘d said it out loud. "They‘re dead."
B‘Elanna paused, hands on her hips. A soft smile lit up her face. "Very funny, Harry. Who‘s dead?" she asked. "Your pet fish?"
"I don‘t-" Harry stopped, scowling at the lieutenant, who obviously didn‘t get what he was saying. "Chakotay and Tom are dead, B‘Elanna. They‘re dead. As in they‘re never coming back. So are the two ensigns who were with them."
B‘Elanna stepped back, her mouth open. She shook her head, staring past Harry. He stepped forward, but she she stepped back again, shaking her head.
"Dead?" she whispered.
Harry nodded. "Maquis-"
It was too late. B‘Elanna was running in the opposite direction. Harry was about to go after him when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around, only to look into a friend‘s face.
"Leave her be." Kes told him, concern etched across her face for B‘Elanna and himself.
"I can‘t believe they‘re gone." Harry replied.
A solitary tear ran down Kes‘s cheek and Harry hugged her.
"I keep telling myself that they‘re dead, but somehow it doesn‘t seem possible." Kes said softly.
"I know," Kim replied quietly, "I know."
B‘Elanna walked into her quarters, forcing herself not to cry until the doors closed. When they did, she burst into tears. She couldn‘t believe that both Chakotay and Tom, two of her best friends in the universe, were dead. And she‘d never be able to take the chance with Tom that she‘d wanted to.
Heather Whitney opened her crystal blue eyes and nearly freaked out when she looked into a pair of crystal blue eyes that looked almost identical to hers. She sat up and as her eyes adjusted to the dim lighting, her gaze went to a man wearing an outdated Starfleet uniform and a kind of pips that she didn‘t recognize. The man had dark hair and eyes, and a tattoo over his left eyebrow. She dotted a glance at two Starfleet ensigns she didn‘t recognize - both were obviously human, then her gaze rested on the fourth person in the cell. He, too, wore an outdated Starfleet uniform with two gold pips on his collar. He had sandy blonde hair and had blue eyes. He was smiling, and she immediately recognized him as one of her best friends since the Academy whom she had been told was dead.
"*Tom*?" Heather shrieked, her eyes wide as saucers. "Tom Paris?"
Before the pilot could reply, she hugged him, not knowing how any of this was possible.
Paris laughed when she drew back, seeing the bewildered and shocked expression on the half-Batazoid‘s face. He had last spoken to her before Kathryn Janeway had come to the New Zealand Penal Colony asking for his help. During the Caldik Prime incident, and again when he had joined the Maquis and was caught, Whitney had always kept an optimistic view. She had stayed his friend through everything, being one of the few to actually do so.
Tom had first met Heather in high school. She had moved to Earth from Batazed and was staying with her aunt and uncle, who lived in California. Of course, their paths never crossed since they had hung out with different crowds, so he had only known through gossip and rumors that she was a straight top-score student who ‚had a knack‘ for science.
After high school, he met Heather during their first day at the Academy. Since his dad was on the board of directors, Tom already knew his way around. Heather, on the other hand, hadn‘t a clue. Paris found Whitney during his free class standing in the deserted hall, intently reviewing a padd. Her brown hair was pulled back neatly in a french braid, and had a worried look on her face. Since Heather was lost, Tom spent the rest of his spare time giving the confused half-Batazoid a tour. Whitney thanked them and they went their seperate ways.
The next semester, fate (and their friends) played a big role. Tom was dragged to a coffee shop by Andrew Michaels for a blind date with Heather. Michaels‘s longtime girlfriend, Daphne More, was one of Heather‘s best friends, so she had coaxed Whitney to come, since the cadet had hated blind dates. It never worked out, though. Tom took the one Engineering course that he was required to take and he got stuck with Whitney as his partner for the projects they had to complete. Plus, they both ended up in the same piloting class.
During that semester, Tom and Heather realized they both had similar interests. They both were 20th century fanatics, loved piloting (although Heather said she‘d always choose a science lab over the helm of a starship), liked practical jokes (Tom started ‚war‘ between the women and men by leaving a discected frog in Heather‘s bed. Of course, he ended up with red hair because of that. Heather‘s motto that year was ‚Never mess with a half-Batazoid‘), and didn‘t like Vulcan logic. The two had been close friends ever since.
"Oh, my God! Everyone thinks you‘re dead! Voyager was reported officially lost a few months ago! Where are we? Oh, my gosh! A lieutenant in Starfleet? Where‘ve you been for the past three years?!?!" Heather exclaimed. "This is absurd!"
"Is it?" Commander Chakotay asked. After what Paris had told him about her, she could have been Tom‘s twin personality-wise.
Whitney turned to him. "Who are you?" she asked. "And what did happen to Voyager?"
"Now that," Tom replied for Chakotay, "Is a long story."
Chakotay, Sarah, and Chris couldn‘t have agreed more with him.
B‘Elanna Torres worked intently on a datapadd at a table for two in one of the corners of the Mess Hall, oblivious to the few colleagues who were talking quietly. For five long hours, she had worked in Cargo Bay 2 with several other engineers and Harry, trying to find the cause of the warp core breech. Their work had been for nothing. The logs showed nothing out of the ordinary. She had finally gone to the Mess Hall to get a snack before going back to work.
Neelix, holding a thermos of coffee, went over to her. "Lieutenant, would you like some more coffee?" he asked. The Talaxian had heard the news about the away team‘s shuttle, and he knew that the rest of the crew shared his grief. He especially felt sorry for B‘Elanna. Neelix knew Chakotay had been like a father to her, and he had a feeling that Torres cared more about Paris than she was letting on. I wonder if the reason B‘Elanna told Tom no was because she was afraid. he wondered, feeling even more sorry for the chief engineer, since he was pretty sure the last time the two of them had spoken was when they had fought in the Mess Hall. "Lieutenant?" he persisted.
B‘Elanna looked up, her dark brown eyes troubled. "Hmmm?"
"More coffee?" Neelix repeated.
Shrugging, Torres forced a smile. "Thanks."
After pouring her a cup, Neelix sat down. "Any luck?"
B‘Elanna sighed, "None. All the readings we were able to retrieve are perfectly normal. Everything fits into place. There‘s nothing here that could cause a warp core breech." she paused, but Neelix didn‘t say anything. He was deep in thought.
Then he spoke up, "Are you saying somebody purposely destroyed the shuttle?"
Torres‘s head shot up. Then she smiled widely. "Neelix, you‘re a genius!" she exclaimed, nearly hugging the Talaxian. Without another word, she dashed out of the Mess Hall.
Harry Kim frowned as he walked through the debris Voyager had been able to retrieve, but couldn‘t find anything out of the ordinary. Four people were dead, and he couldn‘t figure out why the breech had happened. Sighing, he walked back over to Kes and Joe Carey.
"It‘s Tom‘s," Kes said, answering Harry‘s earlier question. In debris, someone had found a black piece of cloth and Harry had called Kes down from Sick Bay to find out whose uniform it had come from.
Before anybody could comment, the doors opened and Torres walked in, a thoughtful expression on her face. The more she thought about what Neelix had said, the more likely it sounded.
"Run a level 3 diagnostic on the shuttle‘s hull. Look for unknown weapon signatures." ordered B‘Elanna, enthusiastically.
"You mean to say you think someone tampered with the shuttle?" Harry asked excitedly.
The chief engineer nodded vigorously, "Precisely."
Joe Carey cleared his throat and Kes frowned.
"B‘Elanna," Kes started, "An engineer found this. It came from Tom‘s uniform." she said, holding up the black cloth.
Torres stopped smiling. She opened her mouth to say something, then seemed to think better of it and closed it. "Run the diagnostic." she ordered, but the enthusiasm was gone from her voice. She walked over to Vorek and Nicoletti to discuss something. Kes watched her go, sympathetic.
Carey followed the Ocampan‘s gaze, then turned to Marlett, Chesly, and Atwood. "You heard the cheif. Let‘s do it."
Harry smiled. He knew he shouldn‘t get his hopes up, but there was a slim chance that B‘Elanna was right.
Kathryn Janeway sat in her ready room, staring out into space at the nebula. She couldn‘t believe that Chakotay, plus three other crewmembers, were dead. She sighed. It seemed like whenever she got attatched to a person, something terrible happened.
"Torres to Janeway."
"Janeway here. What can I do for you?" Kathryn asked, trying to cover up the slight quiver in her voice. No matter what happened, she had to set the example. After all, she was captain.
"Actually, Captain, that‘s the exact question I can answer," B‘Elanna replied.
Picking up the excitement in Torres‘s voice, Janeway perked up. "Let‘s here it."
"We found sufficient evidence that an alien weapon was used on the shuttle." B‘Elanna explained.
"Hold on a second. You mean to say that someone purposely caused the breech?"
"Yes. Someone tampered with the core and shot a solar powered burst, weakening the hull‘s structure and causing the actual breech."
Janeway stood up, a smile on her face. "I‘m on my way down, B‘Elanna. Janeway out." Kathryn headed for the Cargo Bay, hoping her chief engineer was right.
Chakotay sighed. It had been at least seven hours since they had been captured, and the chances that they would be rescued were slim to none. He glanced over at Whitney, who was sitting cross-legged next to Paris and across from MacArthy and Farell. She was busy asking questions about Voyager.
"But I thought Commander Cavit was the first officer. And I don‘t recognize the chief engineer‘s name, either." Heather commented, when Tom started filling her in on Voyager‘s crew, with Sarah MacArthy and Chris Farell chiming in every few sentences.
"When Voyager encountered the Caretaker, a lot of the Starfleet crew died, including the first officer, cheif engineer, senior helmswoman, and all of the medical staff.. When Voyager became stranded in the Delta quadrent, the Starfleet and Maquis crew merged into one crew." Paris explained.
"That makes sense." Heather said slowly, then asked. "So, who‘s the Doctor?"
"The EMH program." Sarah MacArthy replied.
Whitney grinned. "Thank goodness. As long as there‘s a Doc, I don‘t have to play nurse!"
"What happened to the Maquis, Commander?" Whitney, turning to Chakotay, asked. Commander Chakotay was a little startled at how quickly the half-Batazoid accepted the fact that he, a Maquis, was first officer.
Whitney laughed, her blue eyes sparkling merrily, as if she knew what he was thinking. For a second, Chakotay wondered if she was mocking him. But what she said quickly demolished that idea.
"Commander Chakotay, why are you so shocked? Even if I hated the Maquis - which I don‘t, I‘d still treat you as an officer who out-ranks me." she smiled. "Tom, remember Sherry Lewis?"
"You mean the cadet in our medical class who practically had the teachers eating out of her hands?" Tom replied, nodding.
"Yep. She joined the Maquis."
"You‘re kidding." Paris was shocked. Cadet Lewis practically had her pick of which starship she wanted to serve on when she graduated. That was how smart and good she was.
"No, I‘m not. I had to show everyone the letter I got from her to prove it to everyone else in our old class, too."
Farell spoke up. "How did you get here, Lieutenant?"
"The shuttle got pulled into a vortex of some sort. I don‘t remember what happened next. Then I found myself here." Heather replied, guessing where he was aiming for.
"Do you think it was some kind of wormhole?" MacArthy asked eagerly.
Shaking her head, Whitney said, "I‘m not sure, but I seriously doubt it. The sensors would have picked it up if it had been. I wonder what happened to the two ensigns who were with me. I hope they‘re okay."
"They are dead." a voice echoed in the dark room as the doors opened, revealing the same alien who had slapped Tom and another one.
Everyone lept to their feet. "Who are you?" Heather asked coldly, walking over to the open doorway in which the aliens stood in.
Paris wanted to smack some sense into her for her boldness. She‘ll be killed, too, if she doesn‘t shut up. he thought, worried.
"Your captor." The first alien pointed to Farell, who was standing tensely next to Sarah, who looked scared to death. "You shall come with me."
Startled, Farell glanced at Chakotay.
"What do you want from him?" Paris asked, his eyes flashing angrily.
"Information." was the only answer anyone got as Ensign Farell was dragged off. Chakotay got kicked in the stomach, Paris got smacked in the face, MacArthy got shoved, and Whitney groaned after one of the alien‘s fist made contact with her right shoulder for trying to stop the aliens from taking Chris.
The doors slammed shut.
"Now what?" Sarah MacArthy asked feebly, standing up.
"Now," Chakotay said tiredly. "We wait."
For what? Heather thought, then sat down again. It wouldn‘t be worth it to ask the question.
"See, Captain?" B‘Elanna asked excitedly after she recited the diagnostic results. Torres didn‘t need to recite them again, the captain had heard her perfectly well the first time.
Kathryn‘s eyes lit up and she smiled widely. "Take a look at this," she said, showing the datapadd with the results of the diagnostic to Tuvok, who - at her request - had accompanied her to the cargo bay.
The Vulcan raised an eyebrow and said, "It appears that Lieutenant Torres was right in assuming that the shuttle was destroyed on purpose."
B‘Elanna cleared her throat. "Actually, Tuvok, it wasn‘t my idea. Neelix was the one who suggested it."
"Lieutenant Torres! Don‘t be so modest! You were the one putting words in my mouth." a familiar voice called.
Everyone turned. There stood Neelix. The Talaxian was still in an apron, and he was holding a plate of food. "I made some cookies for you and your crew since you‘ve been working so hard." he added to B‘Elanna.
Torres smiled, hoping he hadn‘t put in leola root to give them ‚more flavor‘, as he normally put it. "Thanks, Neelix."
Kim cleared his throat and spoke. "Captain?"
Janeway paused, then nodded. "Tuvok, lead another away team and take a shtutle. If you find anything unusual, return immediately. Is that understood?"
The Vulcan nodded.
"Captain-" Both Harry and B‘Elanna spoke at the same time, then both stopped and looked at each other sheepishly.
"Permission granted." Kathryn ordered, knowing how eager the two young officers were to see if their best friend was alive or not.
Torres and Kim grinned.
"Kes, go with the away team. They may need your medical expertise if worst comes to worst." Janeway ordered.
Kes nodded, smiling. "I‘ll meet the away team in the shuttle bay with my med kit." she said cheerfully, then left for Sick Bay to get the equipment needed and to fill the Doctor in on what was going on. She crossed her fingers for good luck, since it was an old Earth tradition, and headed for the turbolift. Even though chances were that Chakotay, Tom, Farell, and MacArthy were still dead, there was a slight chance that they weren‘t.
Chakotay sat with Paris, Whitney, and MacArthy. Earlier, they had heard someone screaming while Heather was telling them about the latest goingons in the Alpha quadrent. Everyone had stopped talking. It had been Ensign Farell.
"This isn‘t much fun anymore." Heather commented sourly, breaking the silence. Commander Chakotay could tell the junior officer was worried.
"Ummm...I have a question for you." Sarah MacArthy spoke up.
Heather‘s face lit up expectantly. She knew the look on Sarah‘s face all too well. It was a look she wore all the time. The question was going to be good. "All right."
"Did you two ever date at the Academy?" MacArthy asked, referring to Heather and Tom.
Chakotay‘s head shot up and waited for an answer. Much to his surprise, the two lieutenants burst out laughing.
Whitney covered her mouth as she laughed. "Oh, gods no! But..." she glanced over at Paris. "Should we tell them?"
"Why not?" Tom shot back.
Chakotay and MacArthy waited expectantly.
"Well, Daphne More, one of my friends, was dating Andrew Michaels, one of Tom‘s friends, and they decided to set Tom and me up." Heather started.
"In other words, a blind date." Tom added.
"Did you two know each other?" Sarah asked, her green eyes sparkling. When she was little, her parents had always told her a story before bedtime. Ever since then, she had loved stories. And she had a feeling she was going to love this one.
"We‘re getting to that." Heather replied.
"To answer the question, not really. I showed her around the first day when she got lost, but that was pretty much it." answered Tom.
"We knew each other‘s names." Whitney supplied.
"So, here I am, sitting with Drew at a coffee shop in San Fransisco. I see Daphne walk in with Heather-"
"She made me get dressed up all for nothing!" exclaimed Whitney. "I was wearing this sleeveless red chenille vest with a black skirt and high heels, and I hated Daphne for it."
"You looked very pretty." Tom told her.
Heather rolled her eyes.
"So, the four of us are sitting at a booth, and Drew and Daphne are doing everything they can to get us to talk to each other. Heather, on the other hand, is beet red and gazing down at her hands-"
"That‘s not fair and you know it. First of all, I hate blind dates, and second of all, Daphne has to go and set me up with none other than Admiral Paris‘s son." Whitney growled.
Tom glared at her, then continued. "I guess they kinda gave up on us, because they left. I asked Heather if she‘d gotten lost lately -" Paris had told everyone else earlier about that, "- and then we started talking."
"I think the hardest part of blind dates is the first few minutes." Whitney admitted. "We hit it off as soon as we realized we had common interests."
"Too similar." Tom concluded.
"Right. We knew that dating wasn‘t going to work out, but since lovely Drew and Daphne had worked, oh, so hard to get us together, that they shouldn‘t be disappointed." Heather explained, smiling wickedly and smirking.
"We talked non-stop for hours. Then, when Heather spotted More and Michales outside, obviously spying on us, we agreed that I should walk her back to her dorm." Paris continued.
Whitney burst out laughing again. "And, sure enough, they followed us!"
"I was about to go when Heather saw them. So, instead of leaving-" Tom was interrupted by Heather. Again!
"I still can‘t believe you did it! You could have given me some kind of warning!" the science officer burst out.
This time it was Tom who rolled his eyes"- I kissed her."
Heather‘s annoyance vanished. "As soon as Daphne came back to the room we shared with another cadet, I made sure I was in the living room. Then I started raving about Tom. Of course, none of it‘s
The helmsman shot her a dirty look.
"- but Daphne must‘ve agreed with me because she believed me."
"It broke everyone‘s hearts when we told them later the past two weeks had all been a scam." Paris said, pretending to be sad.
"Ooh, Daph was furious!" Whitney echoed.
The four laughed.
Their laugher stopped when the doors opened and light shone in, momentarily blinding them. Ensign Farell was thrown in, blood dripping from countless gashes.
"Ensign Farell?" Heather whispered hoarsely, dashing over to the young man lying on the ground.
"You," the tall alien growled, pointing at Tom Paris, who was kneeling on the other side of Farell. He looked up, a look of hatred in his eyes.
"What do you want from us?" Commander Chakotay asked angrily. "He‘s almost dead."
"We do not care about the lives of your weak crew. We only want information so we can defeat your ship." another alein said, stepping forward and going over to Paris and lifting him to his feet. Tom put up as much struggle as he could, but it wasn‘t enough. He was being dragged off. The remaining three officers tried to stop the two aliens, but it wasn‘t enough.
"Lieutenant!" MacArthy yelled, but she was knocked unconcious when an alien‘s clenched fist made contact with her temples.
The door closed, after the two aliens dragged Paris off.
Heather Whitney blinked back tears as she checked Ensign Farell‘s pulse to make sure he was alive. He was, but barely. She had just found one of her best friends, only to lose him yet again.
Kes walked down the corridor, falling into step with the chief engineer. The Ocampan carried a small duffle kit and a med kit. She glanced over at B‘Elanna, who was staring down the corridor.
"So," Kes said, trying to get Torres talking. Kes personally wanted to know more about the lieutenant‘s fight with Tom, but she wasn‘t about to say it.
B‘Elanna looked over at Kes while they continued down the corridor. "So?" she asked curiously. Normally Kes didn‘t start off a sentence with just one word.
Kes paused, "I heard about your fight with Tom." she said quietly, pleading silently with Torres not to get too mad at her.
"Oh." B‘Elanna replied emotionlessly, not meeting Kes‘s gaze.
The two women walked on in silence. Why does everyone have to go and bring it up? B‘Elanna thought, annoyed. Harry had, Chakotay had, even Tuvok, of all people, had mentioned it to her. Why? It seemed like she couldn‘t walk one foot without someone bringing it up. She knew the gossip mills were going crazy.
"Why did you say no?" Kes persisted cautiously.
"Kes, can we please talk about something else? It‘s none of your business!" the half-Klingon snapped. Kes winced slighty but didn‘t comment. A few seconds later, Torres apologized. "I‘m sorry I yelled at you, Kes. It just doesn‘t seem fair that I‘ll never get to apologize to him for blowing up at him." Her voice caught and she didn‘t continue.
Kes smiled sympathetically, "B‘Elanna, I‘m sure he knew you didn‘t mean it." She corrected herself. "I‘m sure he knows you didn‘t mean it."
Torres managed a weak smile. "Thanks a lot, Kes."
Smiling, Kes nodded. "Any time, B‘Elanna, any time."
"What is the shield varience of your ship?"
Tom didn‘t answer. Instead, he tried frantically to get loose. He knew that if he wasn‘t careful, he‘d end up like Ensign Farell. This alien race obviously weren‘t diplomatic. "I told you before, I don‘t remember." he replied tensely.
"We are a peaceful species to those who are willing to cooperate. Now, I‘ll ask you one more time. What is the shield varience of your ship?"
"I don‘t remember."
Tom gritted his teeth as he was hit again. He only wished Captian Janeway would figure out that they weren‘t dead and hurry up and rescue them.
B‘Elanna sighed impatiently as Tuvok talked with the captian about safety protocols from the shuttle. Harry sat next to him, and she, Kes, and Ensigns Natalie Lenz and Tim Woods sat in the back. She knew Harry was as impatient as she was.
"Is everybody clear on that you are not to try to rescue the missing away team?" Janeway asked sharply, making sure everyone heard her loud and clear.
Ensign Lenz spoke for everyone when she said, "Yes, Captain."
"Good. Janeway out."
"Starting takeoff procedures," Kim said methodically, since he was the pilot.
"Impulse engines online." Torres commented from her seat as she worked at a small computer console where she could manage the engines.
"The course should be set to follow the flight path of the other shuttle." Tuvok reminded Harry, who checked the sensors and nodded.
Kes spoke up from the back of the shuttle, "What exactly are we looking for? I‘m not trying to sound negative, but we‘ve already found the shuttle‘s debris."
Harry turned around and smiled at the young Ocampan, "Anything, really. More shuttle debris, spacial anomilies, an alien ship-" He was cut off when a panel started to beep.
From the back, Tim Woods asked, "What‘s that?"
B‘Elanna grinned excitedly as she checked the scans. "Harry‘s alien ship."
"What?" Kim called, looking out the window.
"We‘ll be coming within visual range...Now!" Torres told him.
A large ship loomed off their port bow.
"Now what?" Woods asked.
Tuvok turned to Harry, "Ensign Kim, do sensors show if they‘ve detected us or not?" the Vulcan asked.
Harry shook his head. "So far, so good."
"Ensign Kim, reverse course." Tuvok said, beginning to turn the shuttle around.
"Wait!" Ensign Lenz cried.
Tuvok turned and stared calmly at her. "Might I remind you, ensign, that our orders were specifically to turn back as soon as we have found sufficient evidence of an alien prescense in the nebula."
"But Tuvok!" B‘Elanna cried, "We still don‘t konw if Chakotay, Tom, MacArthy, and Farell are on that ship!"
"Besides," Kim added, "A few scans wouldn‘t hurt."
Kes, Woods, and Lenz agreed.
Harry stopped the shuttle, waiting for the Vulcan‘s decision.
Tuvok thought over what the other officers were suggesting. The last logical thing was to disobey Captain Janeway‘s officers, but as his fellow crewmembers had pointed out, it would be most logical to take scans of the alien vessel. However, the away team could be in danger or injured, with no way of escaping. Finally, he hesitantly told the others his opinion. "Very well, Ensign Kim. We shall run your scans."
Harry breathed out a sigh of relief as he conducted the scans. He smiled, then frowned. "I‘m picking up five Starfleet signatures, not four, but one of them is very faint."
"What?" Woods asked, shocked.
"That‘s what the sensors picked up. Of course, the nebula could be feeding out false readings, but it is unlikely." Harry explained dubiously.
"Now what?" Kes questioned.
"I‘ll scan for spacial anomalies. If there are five officers, then there‘s one other Starfleet officer who‘s not from Voyager." Torres said patiently, waiting for teh results. She frowned. "No anomalies within sensor range."
"The sensors must be echoing the readings, then." Kim suggested.
"But still," B‘Elanna muttered, narrowing her eyes. "Tuvok, as much as I hate to defy the captain, I think we should rescue the away team now."
To her surprise, everyone echoed her proposal.
"Besides, one lifesign‘s very faint. That person could die before we get help from Voyager." Kes chimed in.
Tuvok raised an eyebrow. "Lieutenant Torres, can we transmit a message to Voyager from here?"
B‘Elanna shrugged. "I wouldn‘t know unless we tried."
"Very well. This is the shuttle Roshark to Voyager. Do you read us?" Tuvok asked, accessing the commsystem.
"We read you, Tuvok," came Captain Janeway‘s faint reply. "What‘s wrong?"
"We have reason to believe that five Starfleet officers are being held prisoner on an alien vessel that eludes Voyager‘s sensor readings. They haven‘t detected us, but one of the lifesign‘s very faint." Torres said, before Tuvok could say anything.
There was a pause on the other end. "What are the alien‘s defenses?"
"If we glide through thier shields, we‘ll be able to beam in and rescue the away team." Kim explained.
Kathryn Janeway sighed. "Very well. Proceed with caution. Good luck. Janeway out."
Everyone in the shuttle looked at each other. Then Harry smiled. "Let‘s do it!"
Whitney shook her head solomnly as she checked Farell‘s pulse. "We need to get him back to Voyager soon, or else..." her voice trailed off.
"Or else what?" Ensign MacArthy asked timidly.
"He‘ll die." Heather replied softly. With the little medical expertise she had, she‘d diagnosed that Ensign Farell had a severe concussion, seven broken ribs, a ruptured spleen, a broken jaw, eight broken fingers, and a crack in his skull. She shivered just thinking about it.
Commander Chakotay frowned. This was certainly not good.
A minute later, the science officer bit her lip and frantically searched for a pulse.
"What is it?" Sarah asked.
"Have they detected us yet?" Kim asked as the shuttle approaced the alien ship.
"Negative. Looks like the nebula‘s interfering with our sensors, so I‘m not positive." B‘Elanna replied, a touch of doubt in her voice.
"Well, since they detected the other shuttle, I‘m sure their sensors are capable of detecting ours." Kes pointed out.
"Lieutenant Tuvok?" Lenz asked.
"We need a distraction of some sort." the Vulcan contemplated.
"What if we used the deflector grid to project reflections?" B‘Elanna suggested.
"Very well. With the distraction in place we shall be able to beam the away team directly to the shuttle." said Tvuok.
"I wouldn‘t be too sure about that," commented Torres, her fingers pressing multiple buttons on the computer console as she worked. "It looks like there‘s some kind of scattering beam surrounding the ship, as well as thier shields going up at anytime. I can match the shield varience, adjust the shuttle‘s shields to match, and we could cut impulse engines and glide right in. We‘d have to beam in to beam them out."
"A rescue mission?" Tim Woods asked, the security officer hopeful.
B‘Elanna nodded. "Precisely."
Tuvok frowned. "Very well. Proceed."
Within minutes, Torres and Lenz had rigged the shuttle‘s deflector grid to emit multiple mirror images of the shuttle. All they had to do was press a button to reflect them into space.
"We‘re done." Natalie called from the back.
Harry frowned thoughtfully as he started up the engines. "We‘ll have to glide in at impulse, cut the engines and engage our shields a split second before we hit their scattering beam."
"Can you do it?" B‘Elanna asked, confident that he could.
Harry‘s brow furrowed. "I can try, but I‘m no Tom Paris."
"Lieutenant Torres, bring the deflector grid online." Tuvok ordered.
Within seconds, they were gliding smoothly through the alien ship‘s shields while the bigger ship was firing at multiple shuttles off it‘s starboard and port side. They never even noticed when a small shuttle glided through their defense parameters.
"We‘re in." Kim said, bringing the engines back online to stop the shuttle.
Natalie Lenz peered out a side window at the hull of the ship. "Now what?"
"We beam onto the ship." Tuvok said.
Everyone got out phasers and tricorders and gathered around the back of the shuttle.
"Computer, transport the occupants of the shuttle...now." the Vulcan ordered, and they were beamed off the shuttle and into a corridor in the other ship.
"Okay, now what?" Natalie Lenz hissed as she, Tuvok, Kes, and Tim Woods ducked behind a door as two aliens clad with heavy armor and weapons walked by. They had split up, something Lenz didn‘t think was a good idea now. So far, they had encountered several aliens, who obviously knew that there were intruders on their ship.
"Don‘t ask me," Tim Woods shot back.
Kes stifled a laugh, then frowned as an alien walked into the room. Tuvok shot him and quickly closed the doors. "We‘re trapped." she commented dryly.
The lieutenant just opened a small doorway in reply. It resembled a Jeffories Tube hatch. "Always remember, Kes, that there is always at least one logical explanation or solution to a problem."
Kes smiled and crawled in. This day was turning out to be more exciting than she‘d thought. And to think I thought I‘d be bored today.
Heather paced the cell, her eyes glittering fiercely. Chakotay and Sarah were busy working at the control panel. All they needed to do was to get the guards to open the door. Then they‘d be free.
Or so we think. Whitney thought, walking over to the two officers.
Chakotay pushed the silver oval button while MacArthy pressed her back to the wall next to the door.
Sure enough, the doors opened and an alien stepped in.
"What do you want?" he demanded. That was the last thing he said. Sarah delivered a Judo kick and knocked him out cold.
"Cool!" Heather announced, grabbing the unconcious guard‘s weapon.
Chakotay peered into the empty corridor. "Let‘s go."
The three walked cautiously out into the open.
"Where‘d you learn to do that?" Whitney asked the ensign.
Sarah just smiled. "My mom always was overprotective. She wanted me to learn self-defense lessons so I could protect myself from muggers and people like that. I talked her into letting me take Judo and Karate instead."
Whitney grinned as they rounded a corner. Two guards who were there saw them, but she quickly shot them. Chakotay and MacArthy grabbed their weapons, and the three continued down the brightly lit hall.
Harry Kim, trying to hit three aliens that were ducking back behind the wall after they fired at them. Torres was busy taking out two more. Finally, his aim hit home, and he managed to kill two of them. B‘Elanna, who had managed to fight the others off, stunned the last one.
"Which way?" Harry asked, guarding the corridor while B‘Elanna bent over her tricorder.
"I‘m detecting three Starfleet signatures...." She pointed down the corridor that branched off to the left. "That way."
"Then let‘s go." Harry suggested, and the two jogged off.
Heather put a finger to her lips when she heard footsteps, motioning to Chakotay and MacArthy to get behind her. A figure ran in front of her and she fired, her weapon emitting a purple phaser fire. Unfortuantly, the figure ducked behind, then fired at them. Whitney crouched down, not realizing that the weapon had a Starfleet signature.
Sarah was beginning to have a very bad feeling about their present situation. But before she could comment, Chakotay nudged her and pointed in the opposite direction, where two aliens had just walked into the corrodor. The two began firing at them.
B‘Elanna sighed, and looked over at Harry. There was at least one guard around the corner, and she couldn‘t shake him, or her.
"Sorry, Maquis, but I can‘t register. It says there‘s three Starfleet officers around the corner, but it‘s gotta be wrong." he told her.
Torres frowned, then fired at the eluding figure around the corner.
In return, she just got a purple phaser fire.
Hang on Tom and Chakotay. We‘re coming!
Firing at the figure around the corner, Heater stopped and ducked low as another gold phaser fire was fired her way. Then she gasped, realizing for the first time that the Yari weapons emitted purple. Starfleet weapons emitted gold.
"Don‘t fire!" she called.
B‘Elanna frowned, but did as she was told.
"Are you a Starfleet officer?" a woman‘s voice called out.
Torres frowned, and glanced over at Kim with a surprised look on her face. He shook his head. She didn‘t answer. Her many years in the Maquis had taught her that among other things, you should never talk to the enemy while firing at them.
Whitney paused for an answer, but recieved none. This is going against my better judgement, she told herself. Since Chakotay and MacArthy had retreated back down the corridor to take on some more Yari, she was stuck.
"On the count of three, I‘m going to come around the corner. I suggest you do the same." she said boldly, biting her lip.
She burst around the corner with her weapon raised., only to come face to face with a half-Klingon brunette in an old fasioned Starfleet uniform who was holding a Starfleet issue phaser in her hand. It was aimed at Heather‘s throat.
Torres gaped, then lowered her phaser, as did the other young woman. Harry quickly dodged behind her. Hearing his gasp, B‘Elanna knew that he was just as surprised as she was.
"Who are you?" she asked, scrutenizing the woman, who was obviously a human. Judging from her appearance, the other officer had probably been a prisoner.
"I‘m Lieutenant Heather Whitney from the Enterprise E. You‘re from Voyager, right?" asked the young woman, lowering her weapon as well. She glanced at the man standing next to the woman. He had black hair and dark eyes, and was an ensign. The woman had the same kind of pips Commander Chakotay had, so Whitney guessed she was from the Maquis as well.
Harry sucked in his breath. "There‘ve been only four Enterprises built." he stuttered.
Whitney glanced quizically at him, shaking her head. "No, there‘ve been five."
"I‘m Lieutenant B‘Elanna Torres." Torres said, answering the question.
"Ensign Harry Kim." Harry answered.
Heather‘s face dawned with recognition. "Oh, so you‘re the chief engineer." she said to B‘Elanna.
"Yes, but how‘d you know-" B‘Elanna stopped, too confused to continue.
"Tom told me." the other woman explained.
Kim looked her over. "Tom Paris?"
"The one and only," Heather replied dryly. "We knew each other at the Acadamy."
"How‘d you get here?" Torres shot back, ignoring the comment about Tom. Harry, on the other hand, glaring at her, turned to Heather. "You mean to say Tom Paris is alive?"
Heather bit her lip. "I don‘t know. The Yari took him. They took Ensign Farell before, and he‘s dead now."
Before anyone could say anything more, Commander Chakotay and Ensign MacArthy burst around the corner, weapons raised. As soon as the commander spotted B‘Elanna and Harry, he smiled widely. "It‘s good to see you."
"Chakotay?" B‘Elanna asked, bewildered. She hugged her friend. "But you‘re dead!"
Sarah laughed. "We will be if we just stand around here."
"But who are you?" Harry asked, scrutenizing Heather. Her long brown hair was hanging loosely below her shoulders and she had blue eyes. Her uniform was unlike any he‘d seen, but it was Starfleet. She was either in the science or medical department, and a lieutenant.
"I‘m from the Alpha quadrent. Do I meet your standards, Ensign?" Whitney asked curiously, making him blush. She laughed. "I‘m only kidding."
Before Harry could say anything, Commander Chakotay looked up from conferring with Torres and MacArthy. "We‘ll have to split up. Harry, MacArthy, you‘ll be with me. Whitney, go with B‘Elanna. Our main object is to find Tom before it‘s too late."
No one argued with that.
Torres raced down the corridor. She didn‘t look back to see if Heather was following her; she could hear the other woman‘s footsteps right behind her.
"So, what else did Tom tell you about me?" she asked, a little hesitant.
"That you‘re smart, have a good sense of humor, you‘re beautiful, and you‘ve got a temper." Whitney supplied. She smiled. "From what he told me, you match his description. Of course, I wouldn‘t know about the last part, but..." her voice trailed off as she realized Torres was getting agitated. "Did I say something wrong?"
B‘Elanna glanced over at the other woman. "No."
Heather frowned thoughtfully as she thought it over. Maybe Tom hadn‘t wanted her to tell Torres that. Oh, well. she thought ruefully, What‘s said is said. Not being able to keep quiet, she decided to try to start up a conversation. "How fast can Voyager travel at warp?"
"Warp 9.975," came the clipped reply. "Except one time when Lieutenant Paris broke the warp barrier by flying at Warp 10."
"Cool!" Whitney said enthusiastically, keeping her voice low in case there were any guards nearby. The last thing she wanted was to be thrown back into a prison cell.
"Not unless you like being turned into a lizard." B‘Elanna replied, a hint of humor in her voice. She stopped. "There are four guards around this corner. Obviously they know their prisoners escaped."
"Got it." Heather said. Then she ran around the corner.
"What the-" Torres called, drawing out her phaser and hurrying after the other officer. What do they teach Starfleet officers nowadays, anyway? she thought, exasperated.
Whitney grinned as she stunned the last guard, who slumped face-first to the ground. She turned around and glanced at Torres. "Not bad, eh?"
B‘Elanna narrowed her eyes. "How‘d you-"
"I just have good aim." Heather replied modestly.
"Very good aim." Torres commented. "I‘m picking up one human lifesign behind this door. I‘ll try to open it. Cover for me." She bent over a computer panel, working as fast as she possibly could without tripping an alarm. Lieutenant Whitney watched her, amazed at how fast the engineer worked.
"You‘re quick." she commented, while glancing down the corridor. She accidentally pressed the button on her phaser, and sent a beam rocketing down the corridor. B‘Elanna immediately jumped to her feet, picking up her phaser. She didn‘t see anyone.
"Oops." Heather said meekly.
Sighing inwardly, Torres bent back down over the computer console. "So, you a nurse?"
Whitney laughed. "Gee, no. I‘m a science officer. I just hope that Ensign Perry remembers to run the diagnostics for the experiment we were working on. If those plants don‘t get enough water, we‘ll never be able to prove-" She was cut short as a guard rounded the corner and fired at her. She ducked the purple flash, then shot him right in the stomach. He dropped to the ground, unconcious. "Think you can hurry up a little?"
B‘Elanna was about to comment that she was already working as fast as she could, then realized that the other lieutenant was joking. She was a little surprised when she realized that she was beginning to like Heather. "I‘m almost there. Be ready to fire on my mark."
Whitney stood in front of the door.
Torres pressed a button, grabbed her phaser, and jumped to her feet. The door opened with a "swoosh". They quickly took out the three of the Yari, and the fourth retreated through another door. B‘Elanna quickly spotted Tom and ran over to him. "Tom?" she whispered hoarsly.
Heather followed, quickly closing the doors. She gulped. Paris looked almost exactly how Farell had looked. And he‘s dead now. she told herself.
Torres got no answer. Tom was unconcious.
Heather quickly started to untye the pilot‘s hands, which were bound with thick rope.
"Lieutenant Thomas Paris, you listen to me. You are going to wake up, you hear me?" B‘Elanna replied, trying to act angry. Thinking of her father and how he‘d left her and her mother, it was easy. Whitney glanced up, surprised at the hatred in the chief engineer‘s voice. B‘Elanna glanced up and gave her a wink. Heather grinned, and went back to her work. I hope this works. she thought grimly, while trying to scan Paris with a tricorder and work on untying him. She didn‘t dare try to use a phaser on the ropes. She didn‘t know how strong they were, and a too-high frequency might seriously injure Tom.
Tom slowly became concious. "B‘Elanna? Is that you?" he said, his voice barely above a whisper.
"Yeah." she replied, grinning. "It‘s me."
"Am I dreaming?"
Torres gaped, then glared at Whitney, who had made a noise that sounded like a laugh. Heather quickly sobered, and B‘Elanna turned back to the pilot. "No, you pig. You‘re not dreaming." she said tartly, but ended up grinning, taken aback by his last comment.
Heather finished untying Tom‘s hands and quickly got his feet done. Picking up her phaser, she stood up. "C‘mon. Let‘s get outta here."
Paris and Torres couldn‘t have agreed more.
"Interesting story." Kim commented, when Chakotay and MacArthy finished telling him about Whitney. So far, they had taken out eight guards, and were trying to find Paris. Easier said than done. Harry thought. Even when the pilot wasn‘t a prisoner, he was normally hard to find on Voyager. As a prisoner, he was even harder.
"And Lieutenant Whitney used to date Lieutenant Paris." Sarah chimed in, winking at Commander Chakotay, who tried hard not to smile. Instead, he waited for Ensign Kim‘s reaction.
The look on Harry‘s face was very priceless indeed.
Kes ran around the corner. She nearly crashed into Commander Chakotay. The rest of her team followed, and nearly avoided being caught in a pileup.
"Commander Chakotay," Tuvok said, emotionless.
"Good to see you, too." replied Chakotay. "Listen, we think Torres and Whitney found Tom, but we‘re not sure. I think our best bet is to get the hell out of here."
"That would be a most logical idea, Commander. But," the Vulcan paused. "Who is ‚Whitney‘?"
Harry and Sarah looked at each other, grinning. "She‘s a Starfleet officer."
No one understood how that was possible.
Heather ran ahead of Tom and B‘Elanna, who were right behind her. Since Tom was injured so bad, B‘Elanna was helping him walk. Thankfully, they hadn‘t run into any guards, but it was a close call. She couldn‘t hear what Tom said to Torres, but it sounded amazingly like something about knights in shining armor and ladies to his rescue. She heard B‘Elanna‘s reply clearly. It consisted of growls and a threat that sounded amazingly like, "You‘re lucky we‘re under orders to rescue you, or else I‘d leave you here by yourself." Whitney tried not to laugh.
"Sure, ‚Lanna," Paris replied smoothly.
Whitney glanced back. B‘Elanna had a strange look on her face, but didn‘t say anything else. Instead, she avoided the pilot‘s gaze and concentrated on looking ahead. Hmmm....Maybe I should set those two up on a blind date...Maybe Ensign Kim will help me...
Before anybody could comment, they were all beamed back to the shuttle.
Heather suddenly felt self-concious as soon as she materialized in the shuttle. What with both away teams, plus her, the shuttle was a bit crowded, and most of the people didn‘t know who she was. So, instead of trying to explain for the countless time who she was and where she came from, she got out a medkit and went over to start fixing Tom‘s injuries. B‘Elanna, relieved to be back on the shuttle, went over to Chakotay and Tuvok, who were trying to quiet everyone else, for everyone wanted to know what was going on or who Heather was.
"Hi, Tom. Need some help?" a soft voice asked.
Heather looked up and saw a blue-eyed blond woman standing next to her. "Thanks."
"Kes, this is Lieutenant Heather Whitney. Heather, this is Kes, the Doctor‘s assistant." introduced Tom. He turned to Kes. "I‘d say more but frankly I don‘t feel up to it."
The Ocampan laughed. "We‘ll get you back to Sick Bay as soon as possible." she told the pilot. Then she turned to Heather. "So, Lieutenant, are you from the Alpha quadrent?"
Whitney thought for a moment. "Not anymore, I guess."
Kes scrutenized the other woman, then smiled as she picked up a dermal regenerator. She was curious as to who the woman was, but didn‘t know where to start.
B‘Elanna walked back over to Heather. "You know, Voyager doesn‘t have a senior science officer." she whispered to the half-Batazoid.
Whitney turned around to face the engineer. Then, to Torres‘s surprise, she burst out laughing. "No, way. I‘d probably set the science lab on fire or something."
Harry came up to her. "Actually, B‘Elanna does have a point."
"You‘d be the perfect one for the job." Paris commented.
"Easy for you to say. You don‘t even know what a cellulose compound is." Whitney retorted, putting a hypospray together.
Kes, Harry, B‘Elanna, and Tom all gave her a strange look.
"See, you‘re the perfect one for the job!" replied Tom. "At least you konw what that is!"
The four laughed. Heather remained silent as she put the medkit away.
"So, MacArhty told me you two used to date." Harry commented, smirking. Obviously, Sarah hadn‘t told him much about what they‘d told her. Whitney smiled weakly.
"Sorry, I didn‘t have enough time to tell him anything else." said MacArthy apologetically from the other side of the shuttle.
Of course, Kim and Kes interpreted that the wrong way. Paris kept a straight face, enjoying Whitney‘s discomfort.
"I guess you could say that," said Heather after awhile. It couldn‘t hurt to lead them down the wrong road. After all, they‘d done it to Drew and Daphne, why not do it to Kes, Lieutenant Torres, and Ensign Kim? Sarah‘s eyes sparkled, catching on.
Tom just laughed. "You haven‘t changed one bit, Heather."
"We‘re recieving a hail from the shuttle." Ensign Paso informed Captain Janeway on the Bridge of Voyager.
Kathryn stood up. "On screen."
A tired-looking Commander Chakotay and Tuvok appeared. Never in her life had she felt so happy to see them both.
"Kathryn," Chakotay greeted, smiling."It‘s good to see you again. B‘Elanna tells me you thought we were dead." he joked.
Janeway frowned. "That isn‘t very funny, Commander."
Chakotay stopped smiling. "I know."
"Captain Janeway, we rescued Commander Chakotay, Lieutenant Paris, Ensign MacArthy, and Lieutenant Whitney." Tuvok reported.
Puzzled, Captain Janeway asked. "Tuvok?"
"Ensign Farell died, but Heather Whitney was also there. She‘s from the Alpha quadrent." Chakotay explained. "Whitney?" he called.
A brown-haired blue-eyed woman appeared from the shuttle‘s passenger section. She smiled softly. "Captain Janeway, I presume?" she asked, hesitant.
Captain Kathryn Janeway was utterly confused.
The next day, Tom was escorted back to his quarters by B‘Elanna, Harry, and Heather. After spending the night in Sick Bay recuperating, the Doctor had dismissed him back to his quarters, where he was to remain off-duty for the next twenty-four hours. If Kes hadn‘t been there, Paris was sure that the Doctor would‘ve driven him insane.
Heather, on the other hand, was far from going insane. After introduced to Captain Janeway, the Doctor, and a countless number of the crew, she had been given a tour by Torres and Kim, who were enthusiastic about showing her Voyager. The first thing she had sorted out was that she and Tom had not dated at the Acadamy. Although she had only known them for a short time, she was beginning to feel that they were her friends. When B‘Elanna had invited her to come to "Sandrine‘s", Heather had finally felt welcome and accepted the offer. Captain Janeway had invited her to a senior staff meeting that morning, and spent part of the time explaining about Voyager‘s where-abouts for the past three years. She had ended the meeting by asking Heather if she would care to be the senior science officer. Whitney, of course, had been shocked. Her exact reply was, with a wide grin. "It would be an honor." Now, with quarters and expected to be on duty later on that day, Whitney was comfortable on Voyager, if not a new sight.
"So, how do you like Voyager?" Tom asked as the four walked down the corridor. Although he‘d seen her yesterday when she‘d visited him in Sick Bay, he hadn‘t seen her a lot.
Heather nodded enthusiastically. "It‘s a great ship. I still can‘t believe all the stories these two-" she gestured to Torres and Kim, "have been telling me."
"Did you tell her about the Kazon?" Paris asked Kim.
Harry smiled. "Yes, and B‘Elanna and I insisted that she‘s nuts if she wants to meet Seska."
"What?" Tom asked. "Seska would kill you the second she met you." he exclaimed.
Heather shrugged. "She seems like a formidable opponent."
"You are nuts." commented B‘Elanna, still a little uncomfortable around Tom. They hadn‘t spoken alone yet, and she didn‘t know quite how to apologize.
"Actually, we all decided that she was a cashew at the Acadamy." Paris mused thoughtfully.
The half-Batazoid stuck out her tongue. "Very funny," she said dryly. "Gotten any new nicknames lately?"
"You wouldn‘t." Tom shot back, glaring at Whitney. It was good to see her again.
"Naw, I just want to see if there‘s any new nicknames they‘ve come up for you." Heather taunted.
Torres looked over Harry to Heather. "Why, what was his nickname at the Acadamy?" she asked innocently, avoiding Tom‘s glare.
Whitney shook her head. "I won‘t tell. You wouldn‘t get it unless I told you the whole story, and I have to admit..." she started laughing while the pilot glared at her. "It is embarrasing."
"Well, if you want the nicknames he‘s gotten here, the Delany sisters call him ‚Tommy‘ and ‚Flyboy.‘" Harry suggested.
"Thanks, Harry, it‘s bad enough with those two calling me it." Paris said sarcastically.
"B‘Elanna, any more I should know about?" Whitney asked curiously, grinning wickedly.
Torres immediately smiled. She hadn‘t known the science officer for awhile, but she was already thinking of Heather as a friend. "My personal favorite is ‚Helmboy.‘" she commented.
"You have a favorite?" asked Tom, surprised.
B‘Elanna rolled her eyes, not bothering to answer the question. It was too silly.
Heather‘s eyes sparkled as she thought about what Harry had told her about the two when he had shown her the science lab earlier that morning. They seemed like the perfect match.
Harry stopped. "Here‘re your quarters." he said. Looking at the chrometer, he frowned. "My shift starts in a few minutes, so I‘d better go."
Heather nodded. "Me, too. I‘ll see you later?" she asked.
Tom smiled. "Yep."
"Bye!" Harry and Heather called, then disappeared around the corner, chatting about something that Tom couldn‘t interpret. He turned to B‘Elanna, who quickly averted her gaze from him to the floor.
"Listen, about what happened in the Mess Hall-"
B‘Elanna cut him off. "It‘s not your fault. I‘m sorry. I didn‘t mean to blow up at you like that. I was just in a bad mood-" Why do I keep using that excuse? "and-" she stopped, out of breath. Then she shrugged. "We can still be friends, right?" she asked hopefully.
Tom was about to ask her, "Just friends?", but decided against it. He knew that would ruin everything. " ‚Till death do us part." he said solomnly.
When she realized that was a line in a wedding ceremony (he could tell by the incredulous look on her face), Tom winked. "I‘m only joking about that. Yes for the answer to your question." he said, then walked into his quarters. "I‘ll see you later."
B‘Elanna stood outside Tom‘s quarters for a few seconds before heading to Engineering. She would never understand the man.
TWO DAYS LATER:
"So anyway, I guess he and that Rain person had a short romance or something like that, because when I asked him later about him he didn‘t really say much and blushed. The captain from the twenty-ninth century came back, not knowing who we were, and sent us back to our time and last coordinates. It was a real let-down when he didn‘t return us to the Alpha quadrent, although I guess I can see why he did what he did." Harry finished, telling Heather about their journey back to the twentieth century.
Heather‘s eyes lit up. "I wish I could‘ve been there. It sounds like so much fun."
"You‘re a twentieth century fanatic, too?" Kim asked. The two were lounging in lawn chairs in a beach program. They had gone for a swim with Tom and B‘Elanna, who were obviously more comfortable around each other again, but the latter two had left a minute ago. Many officers mingled in the holodeck, talking or swimming.
"Uh-huh," Whitney replied. Her gaze rested on Tom and B‘Elanna, who were busy talking about something, lowering their voices whenever somebody passed by them. They seemed to be discussing private. "But what about them?" she asked.
Harry followed her gaze, then shrugged. "Who knows? If you ask me, they‘d make the perfect couple."
"Yeah." Heather mused. "Of course, I don‘t know B‘Elanna well enough, but she‘d obviously keep him on his toes."
Harry and Heather‘s laughter drifted over to Tom and B‘Elanna. Tom smiled. "So, you like Heather?"
Torres narrowed her eyes. "She‘s like you." she replied, glancing at Harry and Heather.
"What‘s that supposed to mean?" Tom asked, pretending to be hurt.
"Sure, I like her. She‘s nice, and funny, and it‘ll be fun to gang up with her against you." B‘Elanna bit her tongue, avoiding his question. She knew that if she looked into his eyes, she‘d be lost. You promised yourself you would never fall for him. she chided herself. Heeheehee. Then why won‘t you look into his eyes? a snide voice commented. Almost instantly, she did. She paused, thinking how to put her thoughts into words. "Tom, I‘m not ready to get involved in any kind of close relationship, but when I am I‘ll let you know." she said quietly. She kissed him quickly, then walked towards the door. What she had said was true. The last thing she wanted was to get involved with someone, but.... She shook her head. She‘d leave that thought to be pondered on another day.
Copyright 1998 by Jane Griffen. Original disclaimers apply. Comments gladly accepted at JaneG100@rocketmail.com Au revoir!