"Harry?" Tom asked incredulous. He didn't remember standing up, but
suddenly he was standing, facing Chakotay. A series of really
frightening thoughts ran through his mind. "Oh my god. Harry? Oh no."
"Tom, it may not be what we're thinking," Chakotay said calmly, but
authoritatively. "Those messages were signed with a simple K, I assumed
it meant Kathryn, not Kim. We could be jumping to the wrong
"Oh, we aren't. Who else could it be? There is no reason for Harry to
be getting that information unless we're right." Tom sat down,
considering throwing up. "And I told him," Tom said quietly.
"What do you mean, you told him? What did you tell him?" Chakotay asked
suspiciously, moving closer to Tom.
"When you threw me out of your quarters, I told him I knew the truth,"
Tom said very quietly.
"How much did you tell him?"
"Not much, but too much," Tom said, as he stood up. "I am such a fool!
Tom Paris, the man who could screw up any situation."
Chakotay stepped back as Tom started to pace the shuttle. "Harry! I
don't believe it, Chakotay. All this time you thought I was a traitor,
and look who it is. We all fell for Harry "Wet-behind-the-ears" Kim.
"Tom, what did you tell him?"
Tom stopped and stared at Chakotay for a moment, slightly perturbed at
his tone *the Commander* used. "I told him I knew the truth. That I
had been going through the old files and I found something that would
change how you felt about me. Damn it, Chak, why can't one thing, just
one freaking thing go right for me for once."
"So he knew, we knew?"
"I guess so. I mean I just about handed him a star chart. Geez, Harry
and all this time I thought he was my friend. I guess he was supposed
to keep an eye on me, and report back to Tuvok."
"What about the Captain?" Chakotay asked. "Is she part of this or not?"
"Well, considering I haven't read the rest of the messages, I don't
know, but my gut is telling me probably not, or not a full member. I
mean if she stopped being involved at the array, which from what you've
told me she has, then she really was more interested in getting everyone
"What about the directive to Kathryn to get us back to the Alpha?"
Tom thought about that for a moment and Chakotay did have a point. But
it didn't really matter did it? They were years from the Alpha, and
maybe she was just sitting on the information to keep everyone calm.
Then again, maybe she was in cahoots with Tuvok and Harry and they were
just the front men.
"Chak is it possible that she was being manipulated by Tuvok and Harry?"
Chakotay stood there for a moment, looking far away. "I'm not sure," he
finally said. "It could be that she was attracted to me, but Tuvok
scared her off, or that she was just leading me on. Doesn't really
Tom shook his head, what was he talking about? He was thinking about
the entire crew and Chakotay was worried about his love life? "What do
you mean, 'it doesn't matter'? We're talking about our survival here."
It was at that moment, all the lights began to dim noticeably. Tom and
Chakotay stared at each other for a second, and then Tom leaped for the
front of the craft, Chakotay right behind him.
"Battery power at fifty-two percent below normal," Tom reported. "It's
"Computer, download all commands from Commander Tuvok."
"What are you doing? We have to stop this."
"Without those commands from Tuvok we have no proof," Chakotay said,
watching the data padd.
"Like we're going to get a fair trial. Power at forty-one percent."
"Commands downloaded," the computer announced.
"Computer, Chakotay, authorization alpha gamma twenty-seven. System
shut down and reboot, now."
"Danger, low energy reserves."
Then both Tom and Chakotay felt themselves pressed into their seats as
the shuttle went completely dark, and all the systems shut down.
"How long will it take?" Tom asked. Even to himself, his voice sounded
strange in the quiet of the shuttle. In the evening twilight, he could
make out Chakotay's silhouette in the chair beside him.
"About three minutes. How far down did the batteries go?"
Tom squinted at the panel in front of him. "Thirty-five percent power
"That's really low," Chakotay noted.
"We'll be able to keep basic systems running."
"What about atmosphere compensation?"
Tom shook his head. "No, and only minimal heating and cooling."
"Let me guess, wild temperature swings."
"No, but do you remember the humidity out there? And it does get cool
"What's cool, Paris?"
"Oh, about eight degrees celsius."
"That's cool, all right."
The lights came on minimally a few moments later, and the pressure eased
off the two of them.
"That's better," Tom said, drawing a deep breath. "Computer, use only
primary lighting at seventy-five percent and adjust temperature to
minimal comfort levels. Audio alert if batteries drop below twenty-five
The lights shifted and darkened, the temperature adjusted to slightly
cooler than it had been, and the pressure increased again.
Tom checked several panels and gauges, when he heard Chakotay exclaim,
"That sorry little pointed ear bastard."
"What?" Tom asked, as he turned and saw Chak studying the data padd in
"We were being monitored. When he knew we figured it out, he set this
thing to drain itself and shut down all systems."
"What happens when Voyager shows up and there's no readings from the
Tom looked at Chakotay numbly. "They would assume we didn't make it,"
Tom said. "That sorry son of a... He's gonna try to abandon us."
"Yep. Check communications, Tom."
Tom pressed several keys, expecting to hear the familiar tone of his
comm badge, but there was nothing. He tried again using Chakotay's this
time. Finally, he pressed another button. "Paris to Voyager." They
both waited. "Let me guess..."
"They shut the communication system down when we landed. Tuvok should
have stayed with the Maquis. He has the mind for it."
Chakotay continued to scan through the data padd, as Tom removed a panel
from the communications system. Tom lay down on the deck and stuck his
head under the panel to see if he could see anything. "Shouldn't the
reboot have fixed this?"
"Technically, yes. However, from what I can tell from this, Tuvok had a
drop dead command in the files that caused systems to lock down and
nothing but the correct command can restore them."
"So all we have to do is find the command, right?" Tom asked, from under
"Right," Chakotay said. "But, did those commands get wiped when we
rebooted? And does the file contain a self-eradication line? And do we
need Tuvok's voice code? We have to find the file, Tom."
"Well," Tom said, getting up off the floor. "It appears that everything
is okay, it just won't work."
"That's good." Chakotay looked at the control panel. "Tom, we have to
conserve power. Will we have enough power left to get this thing into
Tom looked at the main panel. "Yeah, but Chak, Harry's on scanners,
Tuvok's on communications. What are you gonna do?"
"Payback time. I'm gonna cut them out of the loop," Chakotay said, with
an evil smile.
"How?" Tom asked dubiously.
"Well, you know as well as I do, that Kathryn has to at least make an
effort to look for us, and when she does, we're going to light this
shuttle up like a beacon."
Tom's heart skipped a beat as his stomach hit the floor. He looked at
Chakotay. "Lighting off the excess fuel? Chakotay that is suicide and
homicide, if I might be so bold."
"Command decision, Paris."
Just like him, Tom thought to himself. Okay, two can play this game.
"Then sir, may I say, sir, with all due respect, *sir*, I really don't
like the sound of that one bit."
"Wanna live on this planet for the rest of your life, Paris?"
"If the choice is living on this planet with only you as a companion or
burning up in the atmosphere, dying the slow tortuous death of
asphyxiation and slowly being roasted alive," Tom acted as if his hands
were an old set of balance scales. "...uh...you." He moved one hand.
"Slow, lingering death." he moved the other hand. "You." He moved the
first hand. "Slow, painful death." Tom moved the other hand and then
looked at Chakotay. "Gee, that's a tough choice, Chak."
Chakotay laughed. "I guess you can understand my decision now, can't
Tom shot him a smile with a snide, unamused message behind it. Then
they both got serious.
"Chakotay, that is a last ditch effort. It's been used successfully
when people knew someone was looking for them."
"That's my ace in the hole, Tom. Kathryn has to make the effort to find
us. She can follow the warp signature to the planet. But like you
said, with Harry and Tuvok on the sensors, if she is being used, they
can lie and say they can't find us. If she's with them, there are other
people on the bridge that will see the burning fuel. It's our only
choice if we want to get back to Voyager."
Tom had to admit it made sense. "Okay, so what do we do now?"
Chakotay got up and moved to the sensors. "I want the computer to warn
us when Voyager comes into scanning range. Then we'll have what, about
forty-five minutes to get off the ground? "
"Yeah, about, but Chak, if we do what I think you're thinking of doing
and they don't come get us... I wasn't kidding, we'll know we're
"I don't think that's going to happen," Chakotay said, still making
Tom wanted to say something, but after opening his mouth several times,
he gave up and simply said, "Right."
For several moments Chakotay worked, but Tom noticed he was no longer
messing with the scanners.
"Now what are you doing?"
"I am overriding Tuvok's commands," Chakotay said, in a distracted tone
of voice. "I have authority and clearance to lock out his commands. Do
you know how to find a back door into the system, Tom?"
Tom sighed, sitting down at the science station, and began to key up the
computer. "I can try, but the chances of breaking a Vulcan's code, are
They sat there for several hours, reconfiguring the computer. Very
little was said between the two, with the exception of the occasional
question or curse from Tom. It was getting late when Tom exclaimed.
"It's a back door, but we lucked out, Commander. Harry did it, and I
took a guess and found his password."
"And that would be?"
Tom smiled a brilliant smile. "Oh come on, Chak. We're talking about
Harry and a back door. Use your imagination. What do you think it is?"
Tom was still smiling, but shook his head. "Nope, but you're close."
Chakotay looked confused for a moment. "Come on, Chak, think. Harry
and Tuvok... He saw Chakotay blink and look up quickly.
Tom nodded dramatically. "You got it. Our boy Harry is either wanting
or getting some from the PEB." Tom laughed evilly. "I wonder if he has
a back up password...probably lube."
Chakotay looked at Tom for a moment. "You are kidding me, aren't you?
Sex isn't the password, is it?"
"Oh yes it is," Tom chuckled. "Seems Harry isn't as innocent as we all
thought. Hmm, Harry into men." Tom laughed and shook his head. "He
sure had me fooled. I may have to make a pass at him when we get
back." Tom was looking directly at his terminal as he spoke. "So what
do you want me to do now that I'm in?"
"What can you do?"
"I can close the back door. I can alter the commands. I can do about
anything you want me to," Tom said, as he looked up at Chakotay, who had
moved to stand behind him. "Chak? I didn't upset you about the
comments about Harry, did I?"
"Look, I usually go after women, but sometimes, there's an itch that
only a man can scratch." Tom almost laughed as he remembered the way he
had flirted with Chak on the Crazy Horse. Man, had he been barking up
the wrong tree. "Okay, okay, I'm sorry. I'll shut up. Never knew you
were such a stickler about it."
The conversation turned back to the computers, and for the time being,
they reviewed the commands stored but now dormant in the shuttle's
memory banks. They were extremely frustrated to find out Tuvok had
written the command files in a very old Vulcan dialect.
Stymied for a moment, they ate a quick dinner and bedded down for the
night. Tom took the top bunk and Chakotay the bottom. Tom lay there
trying to adjust himself to be comfortable in the higher gravity, but it
took a while before he fell asleep.