Janeway's Dead; Cavit's In Charge
Summary: An AU in which Janeway died when the array went down. And Cavit lived through the trip to the Delta Quadrant to become Voyager's Captain. What was life like on Voyager for Tom Paris with Cavit in charge?
Disclaimer: They're Paramount's, damn it. Story's mine. Copyright, 1999. Public or private feedback is welcome. Email at email@example.com Big thanks to Britta! Also thanks to Briony, John, BK, as well as others who gave encouragement. This is revised from an earlier version. Other stories are on my website:http://www.door.net/jlf
Warning: Rated R. Dark, nasty, violent, nonconsensual sex (i.e., rape), as well as romance between two guys. There's adult language and situations, angst. If this description means you could get squicked out by the story, you may not want to read it. Apart from Janeway, the characters who died, also died in canon, this time they go out on a different timetable.
Archive/Post: ASC/ASCEM, BLTS, PKSP, PacKage, Allslash (Belynda's), R'rains.
Others, please ask first.
5/5/99 - 5/29/99; Revised 6/10/99
Janeway's Dead; Cavit's In Charge
To my surprise it was Harry Kim who entered the Captain's quarters. "Sh-h," he warned me.
Yeah, like I was going to say a word. If I'd learned anything in the past six months it was to keep my mouth shut. Of course, if someone smacked it, then a cry of pain might be in order. I knew my place, all right.
"I'm getting you out of here," Kim whispered.
Now that was even more of a surprise. How often had he and I interacted since Cavit became captain of Voyager? Four times? Five maybe? Cavit had overseen my social life, such as it was, and Harry Kim had not been a part of it. So, I lay on my mat and just stared stupidly at him.
"Sit up," he hissed. He shoved a bundle at my hands. Of course, my wrists were bound together with a 30 centimeter leather-enclosed chain that locked on to the padded cuffs that masqueraded as the latest fashion in bracelets. And it wasn't me who had the key to the lock to this lovely jewelry. Harry didn't seem to give my situation a second glance. "Here. You can put some clothes on."
What? He didn't like my *working* clothes, or lack thereof? Cavit had me dressed as often as possible in as little as possible. In fact, no clothes at all was more what the good captain liked. Of course, there was the *jewelry* adorning my body. In addition to the wrist cuffs, I wore his collar, his chain from one pierced nipple to the other, his tattoo on my ass, and other signs of Cavit's endearment. Should I go on?
As I held up my manacled wrists toward Harry, the clothes he'd placed on my arms fell off onto the mat and floor. To my astonishment, and trust me, after six months of Cavit almost nothing shocked me, Harry produced a key to the hated bindings. When he freed my wrists, I closed my eyes and rubbed my hands around my wrists. It felt so good.
I felt him unlock the cuff on my ankle that tethered me by another leather-covered chain to the bed leg. The tether was just long enough to allow me to use the bathroom and to reach the replicator so I could obey the orders Cavit would leave for me each day. I can describe those orders some other time. Lots of fun. More so when he brought friends. Enough of that.
I thought I heard a noise and quickly tried to put the cuffs back on. Suppose Cavit came in and found me freed? I shivered at the pain I knew would come from defying him like that. But Harry batted the cuffs away and ordered, "Get dressed. Now."
I knew the voice of command when I heard it. I put on the trousers and shirt, an outfit very much like what Harry and all the crew wore these days. They hung on me rather loosely. Harry must have sized them from my measurements when I came aboard six months ago. The intervening time hadn't seen Cavit waste much of his replicator rations on me.
"Tom. I want you to do exactly what I say. Do you understand?"
I spoke for the first time. Forgive me if there was bitterness in my voice. "Sure. I'm real good at obeying orders."
Harry's eyes narrowed at my tone but he didn't comment on it. He hit his comm badge and held my arm. "Ready for beam out."
I heard Tuvok. At least I think it was him. "Energizing."
We rematerialized in a shuttle on the shuttle bay. It was the one and only shuttle bay where Cavit had sequestered the Maquis until he deported them to the Ocampan homeworld as soon as he could make the arrangements. Took about a week in all, not that Cavit confided such an important tidbit of information to me at the time.
About a month after taking over, Cavit finally bragged to me how the Maquis were introduced to the Ocampans. While Tuvok remained on the bridge, down on the planet below, Jonas and Seska were executed in front of Chakotay and the other Maquis as well as the peaceful leaders of the underworld society. Apparently they'd been attempting to contact the Kazon.
Cavit told the Maquis he was leaving all of them behind. He told the Ocampans that if they didn't accept the Maquis, he'd come back and *take care of* the natives. Didn't take a genius to figure out that the Maquis had a new home.
Telling me he got rid of the Maquis did create one problem. Whenever Cavit had really wanted some fun he threatened to throw me into the shuttle bay. Once he at last told me that the Maquis were gone, Cavit had to create new ways to control me. Trust me, he warmed to the task.
All right, enough of these fond memories of the shuttle bay. We, Harry Kim and I, were in a shuttle. Harry had prodded me over to the pilot's seat. The shuttle bay doors opened and I heard Tuvok's voice over the comm link say, "I wish you and Mr. Paris well. Live long and prosper."
Harry thanked him and nudged me to put the ship into position to nose out of there. I didn't need a second nudge.
As we cleared the doors, Harry told me to hit warp 8 and gave me the heading. Once I realized where we were going, I just stared at him.
"Hit it, Paris. Show me you're the hot-shot pilot you've bragged about."
Harry was in charge. I hit it. Shields at max, off we went at warp 8. No doubt about it, we were returning to the planet with the Maquis. Out of the frying pan, into the fire. If what Cavit had done to me for six months was bad enough, I knew what the Maquis had in wait for me would be even worse.
On Voyager, Tuvok had used his position as security chief to watch over Cavit to make sure I wasn't killed. He couldn't stop the rapes and torture, hell, he was just one Vulcan. But Cavit had to put on some kind of civilized veneer for Tuvok. After all, you never knew when Voyager might hit the Alpha Quadrant.
But the Maquis? Chakotay would probably lead the draw-and-quarter Paris team himself. As I thought these bleak thoughts, Harry said, "Don't worry. You'll be safe."
I just shook my head. There was no point contradicting him. Harry was no longer the naive ensign I'd found on DS-9, but I didn't think he had a clue about what had happened to me in that shuttle bay visit.
Our shuttle was hailed by Voyager. On screen, we saw Cavit standing on Voyager's bridge looking very ordinary. With his grey hair and dark eyes, his average height, nondescript features, I'm sure Harry saw a man in command of a Federation starship. I saw a monster. Cavit's familiar growl told us, "You have one minute to turn around and return to the ship."
His *or else* was implied and didn't need to be spoken. I looked over at Harry occupying the co-pilot's seat. Harry's jaw was set, a muscle throbbed just below his ear. He didn't answer Cavit, instead he told me, "Go to warp 9. Keep it there as long as you can."
Maybe Cavit would blow us up. I hated for a guy like Harry to get killed over me. But I hated the thought of going back there even more. Self-interest, Paris. Keep it up. But I figured that I'd better say something. "Uh, Harry, I don't mind getting blown up out here. In fact, I'd rather not go back. But . . . "
"Shut up, Paris. Just fly."
So, I flew. Right into a suspicious-seeming phenomenon dead ahead. It looked a hell of a lot like a small wormhole. When I looked at Harry again, he nodded. "Yeah. When we come out the other end, we'll be about eight days away from Ocampa."
Sounded all right to me. I'd just worry about the Maquis later. As the wormhole came into clear view, it was obvious that Voyager would never be able to get through it. The fucking wormhole was too small for a ship its size. It's possible I smiled my first smile in six months when I realized that we were actually going to get away from Cavit.
I shouldn't have smiled so soon. Our one minute must have been up. A photon torpedo exploded just aft of us and the small shuttle rocked and bucked. The explosion almost collapsed our warp field. Shit.
I did the hot-shot piloting Harry demanded of me. It all came back to me even though it'd been years since I'd done any consistent flying. Phaser fire began to deplete our shields. But we were damn close to the opening of the wormhole.
I put the shuttle into a dive right down its throat. Behind us, Voyager had to veer off. I wondered if Cavit wouldn't send a bunch of shuttles after us. "Uh, Harry, even if Voyager's too big, Cavit can . . . "
"Send shuttles? Not this time. I disabled them."
I smiled for the second time and my eyebrow asked how he did it.
I put my attention back to piloting us through the wormhole. I didn't tell Harry that it was my first time. Might have made him nervous or something.
Within a few minutes we came out the other side. Seeing this new expanse of stars and space . . . well, no one needs to know about the tears in my eyes. Harry gave me the new headings and I plugged them in. Now, I had eight days to figure out how to leave Harry with the Maquis and make my getaway to . . . somewhere.
With a break in the excitement, I reached under my shirt and removed the nipple rings, first one and then the other. I balled up the rings and their chain in my fist. I wanted to smash them into something. I held up my fist to my face and swallowed hard as I glared at the hated adornments.
Well, there was another ring I planned to get rid of, too. But not in front of Harry. "Take over?"
"Sure," he said. I think he knew what I was going to do next. "Take your time."
In the back of the shuttle, I dropped my pants and unhooked a few other body piercings. With a cry, I flung them and the nipple rings into the recycler. Then I undid the collar and sent it in after the other symbols of Cavit's possession of me. Before all the angry emotions overwhelmed me, I managed to pull up my pants. Then, I just collapsed to the floor of the shuttle and began to cry.
These were more like great hiccuping wails from deep inside. My whole body shook and I pounded the deck with my fist until I felt something break. But the pain remained anesthetized by the rage that came vomiting out of me. Gods, gods, GODS!
If I knew nothing else, I knew I couldn't go through that again. I'd kill myself before I let one of the Maquis touch me the way Cavit had abused me for six whole fucking months.
When I had exhausted myself, Harry must have set the shuttle on auto-pilot. He worked his way back to where I lay. He didn't try to touch me. Smart man, I guess he knew I couldn't handle being touched just then. Instead, resting his arms on his thighs, he squatted down beside me. "I'm sorry, Tom. I'm sorry we couldn't help you sooner."
How many times had I wondered where my one friend was? Although I had known in my head that I had at least one friend among ninety or so Starfleet crew under Cavit's rule, my isolation nearly undid me. In all that dark time, I couldn't help but long for kindness, a sign that someone saw me as a human being and not an object to be used. When it didn't happen, I sought a safe place inside myself. But since when had visiting the stuff inside my head been a refuge.
In the early months, I had replayed in my mind the way Harry had told Cavit and the doctor that no one chose his friends for him. But that conversation was before we were hurled into the Delta Quadrant. Before Janeway was killed blowing up the array. Before Chakotay and the Maquis were exiled. Before Cavit turned me into . . . whatever the hell I'd become. His possession. He told me I was his whore, that the whole crew knew me as the whore of the Delta Quadrant. But the crew didn't see how I lived, chained, beaten, sexually assaulted . . . I really wasn't his whore, was I?
Then there were the times that I just figured, what the hell, you're Tom fucking Paris. What do you expect? My father had been right. I wasn't good for much of anything. I fucked up the simplest things in my life.
Harry still waited beside me. First order of business was to say, "Thanks, Harry. I owe you."
"Yep," he agreed.
"You're screwed with Starfleet, you know."
"Wasn't in it that long," he shrugged.
"And your family . . . back on earth?" I sat up and he sat all the way down so we both faced each other, knees almost touching.
"We weren't going to get home, Tom, not with Cavit in charge. Maybe if Captain Janeway . . . ."
We both were silent. A lot of what ifs went through my mind as they must have through Harry's. I felt the tears return to my eyes and I angrily wiped at them. No point to those kinds of thoughts. She'd died. End of story.
"Now what?" I asked.
"Your hand? Maybe a little regeneration is in order?"
I winced as the pain began to break through now that the rage was tamped down for safekeeping. Harry got up and returned with both an osteo-regenerator and a dermal one. Based on the way he was holding them, I asked, "You know how to use those things?"
"Not really," Harry shrugged.
"Here." I took the osteo-regenerator from him and pointed it at the injured hand. Setting the controls, I began the process of knitting the bones back together.
"Where'd you learn how to do that?"
"Starfleet Academy," I muttered. I flexed the hand to test it. A little tingling, but otherwise it seemed all right. I couldn't pound the floor again with it for awhile, but, what the hell, I had another hand. I ran the dermal regenerator over the holes in my body.
"You want to clean up? Then, I guess we can eat something and take turns sleeping until we reach Ocampa."
I sighed. The Ocampan world was also the Maquis world. I knew Chakotay would simply take over control of my ass the same way Cavit had done. Unless the Maquis captain killed me first. As much as I'd tried to get Cavit to just kill me, he'd never allowed himself to do that. Guess he had too much fun with me to let me off with so easy a way out as death. And, after all, Tuvok would never have allowed my killing.
"Tom." Harry's soft voice called me out of my funk. "No one's going to hurt you there."
"Do you know what happened to me when Cavit put me in the shuttle bay with them?"
Harry dropped his gaze. In a somber tone, he told me, "Yes. I heard about it."
"When I was with Cavit or his *friends* there was some kind of code that I wasn't to be hurt beyond the holodoctor's ability to fix me up. But the Maquis . . . there were no rules."
I couldn't really tell him just then. "Oh, the usual." A few beatings, some rapes. The memories made me shudder. Instead of telling him that, I added, "I almost died "
It seems I'd said enough. Once again, Harry apologized, "I'm so sorry. I . . . I thought Captain Chakotay was an honorable man. Tuvok said he was."
"Chakotay was . . . I never saw him," I said bitterly. "The man owed me, but I never saw him when the Maquis went to town on me."
"He wasn't there?" I didn't know. I just knew I never saw him. "So . . . he didn't take part in hurting you?"
"*Hurting* me? Harry -- " I almost told him what they'd done to me. "No."
After a deep sigh, Harry asked, "Would you like some lunch?"
Lunch? Lunch? I almost laughed. I hadn't had lunch in six months. On the contrary, I had been lunch. Dammit, those tears came back to my eyes. "Yeah, Harry. I'd like some lunch."
"All right, then. Go pilot for awhile and I'll get us something out of the replicators." His hand reached down and I grabbed his wrist with my good hand, allowing him to help me to my feet. "What would you like?"
I thought about it. When had I last been asked what I'd like? Those few weeks on Voyager before we ended up in the Delta Quadrant? And before that? It must have been back when I was on the Exeter, before I blew my career and my life by telling the truth about Caldik Prime.
In between? No such luck. First, I'd drunk too much, drugged too much, and fucked too much, or maybe I should say, been fucked too much. Then, after my brief career in the Maquis, I was in Auckland. They didn't give a shit about what I wanted.
All right, Paris, I told myself. Stop this. No more of this self-pity crap. You and Harry are free now. Even though we were going to the planet of the Maquis, there were Ocampans there. Maybe Harry and I could seek asylum with them. We could give them a Federation shuttle for their trouble. If Harry didn't invoke the Prime Directive, I bet they'd like that. 'Course what would an underground dwelling people want with a space shuttle? Shit.
"Tom?" Harry asked when I hadn't answered him.
"Uh -- does that thing make pizza?"
That earned me a big grin from Harry. "I'll ask it."
Sure enough, once I'd cleaned up and resumed my seat at the front of the shuttle, Harry presented me with a plateful of pizza. Pepperoni. A Saint Bernard with a 16 oz. steak couldn't have salivated as much as I did over that pizza.
I guess I must have inhaled it for it was gone in no time. Harry had brought me a glass of juice as well, also now gone.
Once finished, I grinned over to this man who'd done so much for me. "Thanks, Harry. I owe you."
Harry looked a little uncomfortable. "Hey, you said that. But I guess we're even. You saved me from a Ferengi, remember?"
Geez, I hadn't remembered that part, not until he mentioned it. Somehow, doing good deeds hadn't figured high in my memory hit parade. "I remembered you in the bar, but I forgot about that part."
"I never have," he told me quietly.
"So. How long until we reach Paradise?"
Harry laughed. "Ocampa? It looks like 8 days, give or take a day. Paradise? You got me."
It only took about a day and a half in that small shuttle for my claustrophobia to kick in. I started seriously twitching and profusely sweating. A little hyperventilating left me gasping for air. And it had to happen when I was on duty while Harry slept.
I must have made enough noise for Harry to wake up. He stumbled toward me and gave me a concerned look. "Tom?"
Gulping noisily, I motioned toward the controls, "Auto-pilot," I choked out before I stood and fixed my sight on the viewscreen. Gazing out at the computer-generated view of the stars helped to calm me down. It was vast out there, very vast. Wide open.
Harry stood at my side. "What happened?"
Breathing more easily now, I wiped the sweat off my forehead. "I . . . a . . . little . . .you know. . . claustrophobia."
For a moment he just stood there silently. Then he nodded his head, "Better?"
I sighed. "Yeah."
"This happen a lot?"
"On and off."
"Need a hypospray?" I shook my head. "So-o. What triggered it?"
"Don't know." Well, I did know. A little panic over the impending family reunion with the Maquis, the sense that the walls of the shuttle were closing in as the shuttle inexorably drew me on to the Ocampan world.
"It'll be all right, Tom."
We sat together in the shuttle seats and Harry let the silence hang there for awhile. Finally, I asked him, "Do you want to know what happened? Back on Voyager?"
"Only if you want to tell me."
"Maybe . . . maybe you'd understand why . . ."
"Tom. I saw you in Cavit's quarters, kept like some kind of sex slave." From the tone of his voice, Harry didn't approve of what Cavit had done.
"That's . . . that's what I was, Har. His whore, he called me. I'm sure you heard that about me."
Harry's concern was palpable. "I didn't believe that you were a whore."
"Oh, gods, Harry." I just wanted to cry.
As my rescuer, I figured Harry deserved the truth. "I was . . . you know . . . his whore."
"You must have had your reasons."
"Yeah." I had my reasons.
My scrutiny of Harry's face told me his concern was for me, that it was genuine. And the hard look that had settled around his features let me know he'd be able to handle what I had to tell him. I knew it would take several hours to cover it all, in that time we'd take a few breaks, have a couple of nonalcoholic drinks (hey, I was piloting), and some snacks. But beyond all that, he would listen, he'd care, and, gods willing, he'd still be my friend when I finished the story.
"Okay, Har. Here it is."
In my role as observer, I stood on the bridge, just where Janeway had left me when she went over to the array with Tuvok. Cavit was in charge in her absence. We saw Chakotay destroy his ship against the Kazon ship. He was beamed out to Voyager just in time to avoid the explosion.
Cavit kept urging Janeway and Tuvok to return to Voyager. Finally, the captain ordered Tuvok back, but she stayed on. The array exploded and Janeway didn't return in time.
I couldn't believe it. I stood there stunned. Janeway'd been killed on that collapsing array. She was gone, returned to dust and atoms. Before I had a chance to process the implications of her death, Cavit ordered security to take me to the brig. I saw Harry start to open his mouth to protest, but I knew better than to fight it. Not with four security people surrounding me. Shaking my head at him to back off, I went with them quietly.
In the turbolift, the guard behind me slammed his doubled up fists into my kidneys and I dropped to my knees, groaning. Then someone kicked me in the side, toppling me over. I heard a guard order the lift to halt. By the time the doors reopened, I was barely conscious, blood poured from an open cut on my face. Two of them grabbed me under my arms and dragged me to the brig. Once there, they threw me inside and activated the forcefield. I vomited and coughed and otherwise just lay where they left me in a world of hurt.
Cavit eventually made his appearance, flanked by his guards. He stood just outside the forcefield and regarded me, hands on his hips, feet apart. "Well, well. Paris."
By this time the auto-cleaner had done its work and I'd managed to climb onto the bench. I lay on my side where it hurt the least. I could see him dimly through the one eye that wasn't yet swollen shut. Although technically I should have stood up when he appeared, I was hurting too much to move. I didn't think the greeting he gave required an answer so I remained silent.
"Your protector, Captain Janeway, is dead. I'm the new captain."
This wasn't big news.
"The Maquis are in custody on the shuttle bay. Some have been asking about you."
Based on the sneer in his voice, I gathered they weren't asking about me out of concern for my well being. I wondered what Cavit was doing here, aside from gloating. He didn't waste any time in telling me.
"It's your fault we're stranded here," he announced darkly.
Huh? I squinted out of my good eye to gain a better look at him. The dislike he'd displayed toward me since I came aboard Voyager was overlaid with a terrible rage. With his fists tightly clenched at his sides, he rocked there barely under control.
"Janeway thought you'd lead us to the Maquis. Well, you sure did all right, *75 years* from home." No doubt about it, Cavit was seriously pissed. I didn't understand how he came to blame me. Without my having to ask, he explained, "If you hadn't told us how to get into the badlands, we never would have been taken to this . . . this . . . ."
He'd worked his rage into red-faced speechlessness. Even with one eye I could see the beginnings of a kind of madness that would only grow worse with time. And with both my ears at full sensor range, there was no mistaking the ugly venom I heard in his voice.
"That bitch! She blew up our only way home and she blew herself up, too. Now I've got to get us home." I take it he didn't like all the aspects of command. "You, you lying, murdering whore, were her pet project. Well, no more privileges, Paris. Not one fucking one."
Without another word, he turned on his heels and marched out. Two of his guards remained behind to take me out of the brig and to the sickbay. Walking wasn't easy for me, but we made it. Apparently, they were under orders not to damage me any further, nor to let anyone else hurt me.
Once the holodoc took care of my injuries, they escorted me to the captain's quarters. If Captain Janeway had anything personal in the rooms, they were gone now. There wasn't much time to look over the outer, living room as I was hustled into the bedroom. To my surprise, Cavit wasn't there. But two other guards were on duty. So that made a total of four guards for one prisoner. In spite of my human appearance, Cavit must have thought I was a Klingon in disguise.
"Take your clothes off," one of the guards told me. He was a tall redhead with cold, brown eyes.
Glaring at him didn't seem to do any good. The other guard, who resembled a pig with his upturned nose and round cheeks, poked me with his phaser rifle. With as much dignity as I could muster, I pushed the muzzle of the rifle away with my forefinger. "I just took my clothes off for that holodoctor. You've had your free look."
"Take them off, smart mouth. Now."
My clothes were coming off, that much was clear. Either I did it or they did. So, with my fingers trembling, I began to undo the fastenings of my uniform. It was the last time I would see it. Even though the uniform had no pips, it had been a comfort to think I'd become a part of Starfleet once more. Now, any chance at redeeming myself was obliterated. Totally. I took my top off, then the turtleneck.
When I paused, the rifle barrel pointed at me with a motion that indicated that I was to continue. I was trembling all over, but I tried to put a smirk on my face. I undid my pants and let them drop. With my boots still on, the pants remained around my ankles. I stood before those hostile looking guards in only my briefs and the clothing pooled at my feet.
"All of it, Paris. Let's see the family jewels."
I took a deep breath. I wanted to stop this now. But I didn't know what I could do to prevent what would happen next. I tried to tell myself this was nothing different from what I'd done before, from times when I went with a couple of johns for a scene with them. But this was different, very different. I didn't want to do this. However, there just wasn't much of a choice. I didn't relish the idea of being phasered and having them strip me or worse while I was unconscious.
I pushed my briefs down as my hands shook. Despite my efforts at keeping up a good front, I was dreading the next steps.
"Take off the boots."
Now that I was completely exposed, I realized I couldn't finish the strip show standing up with the pants and shorts tangled around my ankles. So I sat down, giving the guards quite a show in the process. The way my hands shook made it take longer than I would have liked to pull off the boots and the last of the clothes. Finished, from my place on the floor, I looked up to the guards for instructions.
The pig guard took my clothes and put them in the recycler. Nope. I wasn't going to get to wear them again. Another of the guards motioned for me to scoot back against the wall, grunting, "Move back," to explain his nonverbal signals.
Hatred of me gleamed in their eyes. Anger made their postures rigid. Very carefully, my eyes not leaving my captors, I wiggled my way backwards on my butt until I hit the wall. The carpet burned as my bottom scraped over it. Now what?
After long minutes passed and I just sat there as still as I could manage, they began to relax. I guess they figured a naked man was unlikely to try something. Normally, they'd be right. But I had seen the way Cavit looked at me. Right now was about as good as it was going to get.
Muttering that it didn't take four guards for one naked prisoner, one of the guards, a young guy with stained teeth, left. Must have been too much for him. Good. Now it was only three to one, the redhead, the pig, and a dark-haired woman.
The woman looked at my crotch in frank interest. Too bad I was too scared to match her interest. S sign from me might have gone a long way toward the diversion I hoped for.
One of the male guards, the redheaded one who'd started hitting me in the turbolift, kept darting these quick looks down at me, then he'd turn his eyes away with a disgusted look on his face. I knew that I had him and let my left leg fall to the floor, increasing his view while hopefully increasing his distraction as well.
The other male guard smirked as if he knew what I was doing. I could only hope that he hadn't a clue.
All I needed now was a diversion, some sounds, a Kazon attack, anything. When it came, I was surprised. Tuvok announced his presence outside the Captain's door. He requested that they let him in.
All three turned to look back at the door and I sprang. I managed to knock over the two male guards, batting away one phaser rifle and grabbing another. Then, I felt the butt end of the rifle as the woman swung it at my back. Although it hurt like hell and sent me reeling, I was too pumped on adrenalin to let it take me out. I whirled back and, knowing the rifle I held was set on stun, fired it at her. She fell back, but by this time, the red-haired man I'd downed was lurching to his feet and preparing himself to head butt me. I dodged his head, but the guard still on the floor grabbed an ankle and pulled. Off balance, I fell hard.
At this time, Tuvok entered the quarters and calmly retrieved the rifle from my hands. He came between me and the guards and put a stop to my aborted attempt at freedom.
He'd only been on the ship a short time, but I knew that Janeway swore by him. She'd trusted him to infiltrate Chakotay's Maquis cell. As her chief of security, his loyalty might be to her and not the new captain. All these thoughts careened through my mind in no particular order as I lay flat out on the floor. My back throbbed where it'd been whacked.
A raised eyebrow told me Tuvok noticed my lack of clothing. After restoring some order to the room, he asked the guards why I wasn't wearing any clothes, why I wasn't in the brig, and why I was in the captain's quarters.
"Captain's orders," the redheaded guard told him in response to each query.
"I see," Tuvok intoned. He sure had that Vulcan way of speaking down pat. "The Captain is busy right now. As security chief, I'm in charge of all prisoners. Stralley, get this man some clothes."
Apparently Tuvok knew these guards. And he should, they were all part of his security force.
Tuvok hadn't been around on Voyager for awhile. Maybe that's why Stralley didn't move. With a lot of interest, I watched Tuvok stare down his own subordinate. Stralley stuttered, "The . . . the . . . . "
"I'm sure the Captain never ordered you to remove a prisoner's clothes. He has just come from sick bay where the doctor thoroughly checked him out. So, there is no need for a strip search. Get him some clothes. Now."
This was getting good. I decided to chime in, "Um, I'd like to return to the brig?"
Tuvok's dark gaze pinned me in place. "As soon as you are properly attired."
No argument there. I wasn't too thrilled with the idea of parading from the Captain's quarters to the brig in the altogether. Too many Fleeters hated me for that kind of display to be anything remotely comfortable.
The second male guard went to a replicator and got me a loose pair of pants and top in a nondescript grey and a soft pair of slippers. Even Auckland had better prison garb, but I decided to withhold the fashion critique for the time being. Very quickly I slipped into the clothes and slippers.
Stralley whined, "Lt. Tuvok, the Captain isn't going to like this."
"I will take it up with him. In the meantime, I will return the prisoner to his proper location in the brig."
Once we exited the cabin, I tried to thank the Vulcan who strode purposefully beside me. "Do not thank me for doing my job."
"Um, Lieutenant, I . . . look, he's after my ass. I don't think you can prevent it, and it could get you thrown in the brig if you try."
"I realize what you said was against your own self-interest, however, I am a Starfleet officer and will do my job."
"Thanks." I didn't know what else to say. 'Live long and prosper' seemed a bit out of place as we went towards the brig.
We walked in silence until we reached the brig. "Do you require medical assistance?"
I thought about it. The bruise on my back hurt, but the holodoc's bedside manner left a lot to be desired. "No."
He seemed ready to leave, but I wasn't sure I wanted him to go. "Um. Lt. Tuvok. Um . . . "
"Look. If . . . if I have any trouble with . . . the Captain. . . or . . . um . . . can I reach you?"
"As a matter of security, your comm badge has been confiscated. However, I will attempt to check in on you from time to time to ascertain your well being."
"What if . . . what if I'm not here?"
I hated to let him hear how desperate I felt, but I knew that the captain had it in for me. If the Vulcan couldn't imagine it, then I wanted him to know that I believed this to be serious.
It was hard to know from his words whether he understood or not. "I will do my job."
Voyager's night settled in with the dimming of the lights, even in the brig. I dozed on my bench and heard the guard on duty being called away. With the forcefield in place it didn't seem as if I could go anywhere in the guard's absence. I was wrong.
Cavit walked in flanked by Stralley. This is it, I thought. My eyes tracked Stralley as he went behind the security console.
"Do it," Cavit ordered. "And bring me . . . "
I missed the end of the sentence as the transporter caught me. I found myself materializing in the shuttle bay, laying on the cold shuttle bay floor. As soon as the various Maquis realized who was in their midst, several gathered around me. I felt like a Borg at a Starfleet banquet.
It didn't get ugly until Dalby arrived. A loose-limbed man with dark hair and eyes, his hate-filled face told me all I needed to know. He gathered his immediate friends around us and I found myself surrounded with no place to go. The best I could hope for was a beating. Dalby's booted foot shoved me onto my stomach then pushed my thighs apart. A kick to my crotch left me paralyzed and gasping in blazing pain.
He kicked at me a few more times and I could feel a rib crack. When I thought I had regained enough strength, I scrabbled upwards and tried to run for the doors that led into the ship's interior. But one of the Maquis held out his leg and tripped me. I still tried to bolt for freedom, but the crowd surged in.
Fists and boots pummeled at me and I rolled up into as tight a ball as I could manage. It wasn't enough. There were too many who pulled at my clothes until I was naked.
With the others holding me down, Dalby's mouth closed in on my ear. He almost spit out his words, "You're ready, aren't you, Paris? Let's see what you do with a real man."
All during that painful ordeal I wished I could somehow transport out of there. Finally, Dalby shouted in triumph as he finished.
Someone else took his place, then another, and another. Six in all. I think. My body felt limp and bruised and as if it no longer belonged to me. I had no doubt I was going to die by being tortured to death in this godsforsaken shuttle bay. Just when I thought it was over, Dalby returned, this time using his fist over and over. I felt jolted, electrocuted by agony. But my screams were muffled by a hand across my hurt mouth.
A sharp, fiery pain lanced inside me and something gave way. This time, my mouth pulled free and my high scream careened about the shuttle bay. A hand clamped back down over my mouth.
Something awful smelling assailed my partially covered nose as Dalby stopped at last. My sobs of horror and shock were totally suppressed by the hands over my face.
Over the roaring in my ears and the ringing in my head, I heard one of them gasp, "Fuck! Dalby, what'd you do?"
I think I must have lost consciousness once or twice. Awakening from a horror show replaying in my mind, I heard a woman's voice, an angry woman's voice, bellow across the vast space.
"What the hell are you men doing?" she demanded. "Get off of him!"
Somehow she had the strength to pull the Maquis off of my body and fling them away from me. When I turned, very slowly 'cause I hurt too much to move quickly, I saw she was the half-Klingon woman Chakotay had on his ship. Torres. We'd helped to rescue her on the Ocampan world.
With the men thrown to the four corners of the shuttle bay, she stood over me like a conquering Klingon warrior. "We are Maquis!" she shouted at them fiercely. "We are Maquis! How dare you . . ."
I don't know what else she might have had to say, because I felt the transporter tingle on my skin. I shimmered out before I could hear Dalby's answer. My screams from sickbay could probably be heard all over the ship. That prune-faced holodoctor hovered over me, instruments in hand. "Take it easy, Paris, you'll be fine in no time."
Cavit appeared above my bed as I cried hysterically, "No more, please no more, no more."
I babbled over and over trying to convince him that I couldn't take any more. The doctor put up the restraints to prevent my thrashing around. His bald head gleamed brightly as he conducted his examination.
All the while I continued to cry. I was pitiful. Finally, he gave me a hypospray that calmed me down even though it didn't put me out. I heard him tell Cavit what the damage was. "A perforated bowel. This is very serious, Captain."
"Well, fix him up if you can. If you can't . . ."
"Oh, I can. But this man cannot be subject to this kind of abuse ever again. As Captain, you have . . . "
"Shut up, doctor, or I'll kill your program."
The holographic doctor shut up and did his magic to mend my body. Before Cavit had me beamed to the brig, the doctor told him that I needed counseling. Cavit's evil laugh was the last I heard about counseling.
Thanks to the wizardry of sickbay, the physical effects of the brutal rapes had been erased. But I was numb with shock and shivering from an inner, blue cold that felt as if my skin covered a submerged iceberg. Psychological shock kept me immobilized except for the shuddery shivers that racked my body.
Before I fell asleep, I heard Cavit's low growl, "You're mine, Paris."
Recovering in the brig, I realized that I had nothing left, not even my humanity. Dalby and his Maquis, probably with Cavit's blessing and maybe even Chakotay's wink and nod, had stripped it from me and left nothing but an ill-used body.
I spent the next week in the brig, nightmares of the Maquis repeatedly leaving me trembling and sick. My will to fight back was gone. Hell, my will to stay alive was gone.
I saw Cavit outside my cell at odd times. Usually he was there for only moments before being called away. Then, without warning, I was beamed to Cavit's bedroom.
"I'm so sorry, Tom," Harry told me with a crack in his voice. When I darted a glance at his face, I saw tears in his eyes.
"Thanks," I replied as I gazed solemnly at my hands kneading the material that covered my thighs. "I don't want the same thing to happen to you when we reach the Ocampan world."
Gods, he sounded so confident. With tears in my own eyes, I looked up and held his gaze, "How can you be so sure?"
He thought about his response. If he'd told me his confidence stemmed from the fact that he wasn't me, I probably would have believed him. But that wasn't what he said. "If . . . if I can get to Chakotay first, I think everything will be okay. For both of us, Tom, not just me."
"Well, I hope he'll be there for you. He sure as hell wasn't around for me."
"I'm sorry. I don't know why he didn't stop what they did to you."
"Maybe they were doing what he wanted to do."
"Tuvok . . . "
I interrupted, and in my most sarcastic tone, informed him, "Tuvok. He wasn't quite enough."
My anger and hurt boiled up out of me and I didn't mean to take it out on Harry. Unfortunately, that's what I did. At his crestfallen expression, I just kind of fell in on myself. Shit. Shit. Shit. "I . . . I'm sorry, Harry."
"Hey. You went through hell. You've got nothing to feel sorry for."
I gave him another one of my shrugs. Sure. Someone finally helps me and I take his head off. "Look, Harry, can this thing fly itself for awhile?"
"Yeah. It's on auto-pilot. You tired?"
"I'll stand watch, go get some sleep."
His dark eyes seemed to want to take me inside them and soothe me with their chocolate coating. "Um. Thanks."
My nap was interrupted by Harry calling my name sharply, over and over. "Tom! Tom! Wake up, buddy, come on, wake up."
When I came awake my heart was thudding, my body was sheeted in sweat, my clothes soaked through with my perspiration. I felt terrified and disoriented. What did Cavit want . . . ? What had I done wrong. . . . ? The Maquis, that was it, the Maquis. No. "No!"
"Tom. It's me, Harry. It's all right. You were dreaming. It's all right."
I looked around wild-eyed, almost seeing nothing except Harry's body hovering above me. I was on the shuttle's bunk. I was in the Cochrane. We had left Voyager. We had left Voyager. But we were . . . "Harry. No. You're not Cavit."
He sat down on the bunk beside me and used a corner of the damp sheet to wipe the sweat off my face. Softly, he crooned at me, "You're safe, Tom. It's all right."
"Cavit . . ." How could I tell him how terrified I was of being captured by Cavit?
"Tell me about it, Tom. Just talk to me. What happened?"
Harry and I sat side by side as I collected myself. The nightmare that had been so recently my reality was right there looming over all else in my mind.
I materialized in the captain's bedroom, brought there by a site-to-site transfer. Stralley and the pig guard who'd been there earlier lounged by the doorway between the bedroom and the living area. Although they leaned casually against the bedroom walls, facing us, they were not casually armed. Each had a phaser rifle in his hand as well as phasers holstered to their sides. No exit that way.
And there, hands on his hips, an angry glare in his eyes, stood Cavit. "Don't expect the Vulcan to rescue you this time."
I guessed that he was referring to the first time I'd been in these quarters and Tuvok had walked in. I took a deep breath and placed a smirk on my lips. In as calm a voice as I could manage, I asked, "Will I need rescuing?"
Cavit's laughter answered me. "I know you whored around before you joined the Maquis. Now? You're going to be my whore. If you don't cooperate, I'll send you to the Maquis."
My throat became too small for words to get out. The protest I wanted to make became a strangled cry.
"Let's see you act the way a whore would act. Take off your clothes. Slowly."
As quickly as I could, I sized up the situation, ticking off the negatives. First, I was outnumbered. Second, a powerful guy, actually the most powerful person on the ship, wanted my ass. Third, I had no doubt he was going to have it, either the easy way or the hard way. Fourth, the rapes by the Maquis had pretty well taken care of my ability to fight back. I sure as hell couldn't face them again. Not and live. Would Cavit treat me any better?
An irrational urge to control this encounter went through me. Maybe I could do what he wanted in such a way that I would actually end up controlling him by using my body. Considering that my alternative was the brutality of Dalby and his pals, it seemed like a good idea.
So, old instincts for survival kicked in. Controlling my inner terror that he'd send me to the shuttle bay sooner than later, and knowing that no one would give a shit, I did what I had to do. I dedicated a leer toward Cavit that promised I'd give him a good time.
As I watched, his attitude adjusted from arrogance to poorly disguised interest. With shaking fingers, I slowly began to undo the fastenings to my top. I licked my dry lips as if eagerly anticipating our impending coupling. When it happened, I just prayed I wouldn't gag.
When I finished my strip-tease, I heard words that told me I was a fool to think I could control this encounter.
"Get over here," Cavit ordered. Before I took a step, he amended his order, "On your knees."
The short version is that he had me any way he wanted me. All of this happened after he insisted on my begging him to do what he so obviously was going to do, permission or no. Believing I was demonstrating control of the situation, like a fool, I did as he ordered.
He must have been saving up for this, because it went on for a long time. Eventually, hours later, he stopped. Okay, I thought, that's that. It's over. If he liked it enough, maybe he wouldn't kill me, wouldn't send me to the Maquis in the shuttle bay.
But it wasn't over. He shattered any illusions I might have still held about having some control over this encounter. With a viciousness that chilled me, he informed me, "You're mine now."
I sure as hell didn't belong to myself any longer. He ordered me to pick up my clothes. Shaking, hurting, I did as I was told. I must have looked pathetic as I held my clothes to my chest, dripping with quickly chilling bodily fluids. I hoped he was sending me back to my cell. Clothed or naked, it didn't matter. The brig would be better than remaining here.
Instead, Cavit taunted me, "Paris, you looked so enticing on the holovid I made of you earlier. Remember the day my men brought you here and told you to strip? And then there was the vid of your very entertaining visit with the Maquis. Now, I can't wait to replay the vid of our own little encounter. The first of many."
I couldn't help it. My skin turned crimson from shame. I had acted just like a whore. Survival seemed to bring that out in me. Angry and humiliated, I lashed out and threw my clothes in his face.
Before I could savor that small victory, Cavit reached for his phaser. He must have set it on low stun. I flopped once on the floor and couldn't move my body.
I didn't pass out so I heard Cavit when he stood over me and ordered, "Get this: you're mine. No one gives a rat's ass about you. Obey me and, hell, maybe you'll live to whore another day."
Being stunned at this level meant I couldn't respond either verbally or nonverbally. But I also couldn't control the wetness in my eyes. Keeping his phaser in his hand, it was totally clear that I had better follow his instructions. In later days and months, I would regret that he hadn't set the phaser on vaporize.
Smelling of foul odors, I prayed silently that he would send me back to the brig. This time he did.
Sometimes he didn't return me to the brig right away. There were times when he used me as a reward for Stralley or the pig guard. I felt like nothing to be traded as a prize for their desires. And it was worse when Cavit watched.
Over time, the visits to his room became more frequent, the threat of being returned to the Maquis used to ensure my cooperation with his desires. Eventually he wanted to do things I didn't want him to. Yeah, I know, rapes weren't exactly high on my list. But he wanted to pierce my body. Put rings in my nipples. Just the thought of it made me feel sick.
I expected him to threaten me with the Maquis, but he just laughed and told me he guessed it was time to stop invoking their name. They'd been gone for three weeks. While I tried to understand the lengths to which he'd go to make me do his bidding, he replicated a leather strap.
He beat me until my back was swollen and bleeding, then he took me. He put the rings through my nipples.
In all those visits to his room over the past month, I thought my ability to cry had been broken. But as I lay on his bed, tears and blood freely flowing, he stood over me. "I don't think you're going back to the brig."
Through the tears, I asked, "Why?"
"I've consolidated my position now. Moving Tuvok from security to science and putting Stralley in charge of security gives me a lot more freedom."
That hadn't been my question. I tried to halt my cries and ended up hiccuping. "Why here? You hate me." My breath hitched. "Why would you want me around all the time?"
He acknowledged that he did hate me. Not only had I led Voyager to her fate in the Delta Quadrant, but I was also a Fleet brat gone bad. Starfleet had once meant something to him. It was as if I was some hated part of what he'd become. He wanted me around so that he could take out his anger and his rage on me.
In the midst of my emptiness, while Cavit and his friends were on some planet's surface, Tuvok got past the guards and visited me. "Mr. Paris, I regret deeply what has happened to you. It should not have occurred." He paused, as if gathering himself together for something, "I should like to assist you. Would you permit me?"
I said nothing, what was there to say? Thanks so much for your regrets, I'm sure it'll heal my body and spirit just fine? But, on the off chance that he could actually help, I slowly nodded my head.
Then, he did something very strange. He placed his hand on my head, fingers in a formal pattern. At first it felt as if my mind was being violated just as my body had been. But then I felt a calmness enter me, a sense of peacefulness, even some hope. When he pulled his hand away, I gazed up at him in wonder. What had he done?
"Mr. Paris, I have established a light mind link with you. I cannot stop all the plans that Cavit has for you, but I will try to take away your pain so that you may live with some sense of peace. If there is a chance to effect a complete evacuation of you from Mr. Cavit's quarters, I will do so. However, I would not hope for that any time soon. Just know that I am aware of what is going on."
I couldn't help the tears that burned out of my eyes and down my cheeks. When I asked him what he had done, he told me it was simply a connection that would reinforce my natural resilience. I didn't understand what he said.
I never saw him alone again, it was too risky for us both. His link helped me through the lonely despair that I lived with each day. Yet the part of me that felt abandoned, betrayed, and used, told me that it took him long enough to actually get me out of there.
I hardly dared to look at Harry until his soft voice carried through my shame. "Tom."
His arm stretched toward me as if he wanted to touch me but wasn't sure he should. "Guess I kind of miscalculated Cavit."
Like a falling leaf, his hand fell to his lap, "How so?"
"I forgot the difference between prostitution and rape. I thought he wanted mind blowing sex."
I shrugged. "I just . . . I just didn't realize how much he hated me, how much he held me personally responsible for the situation we were in. And I didn't understand that he needed to dominate and humiliate me."
As if in belated response to the events I'd recounted, my stomach began to turn flip flops and bitter bile rose up in my throat. As I lunged toward the small bathroom, I hoped I'd make it before I threw up.
Somehow, Harry was right on my heels, ready to hold me over the toilet as I heaved. When I was done, very gently he set me on the floor, my back to the wall. He cleaned up both me and the floor and flushed the toilet. After he got some water, I rinsed it around my mouth. By the time I was done, he had sat down beside me.
Sighing, Harry said, "Tom, I can't tell you how strong I think you are. I don't think I could have survived that first day in his quarters, much less six months."
"But don't you see? I antagonized him! I . . . I gave him a road map to my ass. I should have fought him off, not given myself to him!"
"You did try to control the situation and him. You can't blame yourself that it didn't work, that you were dealing with some kind of . . . ."
Harry didn't say the word he was thinking. I thought I could fill it in for him. "Pervert?"
"No. I was thinking Cavit is a sociopath. It's a wonder he got past the psych eval at the Academy."
"Yeah. Well, he did. Hell, I don't know what the man is. Maybe being flung into the Delta Quadrant just unhinged him . . . ."
There was a fierceness in Harry's voice then. "Don't try to make excuses for him! What he did to you was unforgivable. Hear me?"
"Look, it was my fault we were pulled into the Delta Quadrant. I directed Voyager to the badlands, I put us in the path of that displacement wave."
"No, Tom. You didn't. That's Cavit talking. Starfleet sent us after Chakotay and the Maquis because Tuvok was on board and hadn't been heard from. You helped. What happened, Tom, is not your fault. None of it!"
I just snorted. Gods, I was tired. I didn't want to debate Harry. But, now that we were beyond Voyager's reach, I wondered about him. "Why did you do it, Har?"
"Rescue me, take this shuttle and head us toward the Ocampans?"
Another sigh from Harry. "Lots of reasons. Tuvok and I were in on it, but we tried to cover Tuvok's tracks so Cavit doesn't know what really happened. There's some others on the ship, people who were loyal to Janeway and hate what Cavit's doing."
I wasn't sure what Cavit was doing that went beyond brutalizing me when he had the chance. "How do you mean?"
"Cavit's breaking the Prime Directive, giving away technology if it'll get us what he wants. He has no interest in the Delta Quadrant at all. There's so many uncharted phenomena out here, and he just passes them by. He uses the people we've come across for his own ends, the hell with their well being."
There was such vehemence in Harry's voice. The young ensign had gotten an education in the past six months, one that left him embittered and angry. "And what he did to the Maquis . . ."
The Maquis were a sore point with me. "What about the Maquis?"
He looked at me, obviously registering the heat in my voice. "You have every right to hate them. But Cavit just abandoned them on a world that had an occupying force on the surface and a people underground whose energy source would run out in five years. He did nothing to help, just killed and hurt people and left."
I shook my head. "I don't give a shit about the Maquis."
The words hung in the air between us. After all that I'd told him, how could he not understand?
He helped me to my feet and we went forward, back to our seats. Harry brought me another glass of water. "Do you need anything else, Tom? I could get out the med kit."
"No. I'll be okay. Thanks." I puzzled over his explanation for why he helped me and realized I still didn't understand. "Harry, why did you rescue me?"
"I heard about what was happening to you from Tuvok. We both agreed that we would get you off the ship as soon as we could. Unfortunately, that chance never really came. Whenever we orbited a planet, you were heavily guarded. Without a comm badge, we couldn't beam you out of there. Only Cavit had fixed a way to beam you around the ship without a badge."
"Yeah, I realized that later. The doc put something under my skin the first time I was in sick bay. It was activated by Cavit's voice command only." I shrugged.
Even though I could now tell Harry about it easily, it had taken me months to figure out what Cavit and the doc had done. When Cavit found the bloody mess I'd made of my neck in a fruitless effort to dig it out, he'd beaten me worse than he ever had. That was a memory that made me shudder. Wondering about why I was now on a shuttle, I asked, "So what changed?"
"The wormhole. Big enough for a shuttle, too big for Voyager. And it leads back to the Ocampans and the Maquis. So, we figured we'd get you off Voyager."
"But why did you come with me? I don't think the Maquis are going to like you any better than they like me. You're Starfleet."
"I'm a deserter, Tom."
I had seen something strange in his dark eyes and I pressed him, "Why?"
He gave me an exasperated look, "You're not going to let it drop, are you?"
"I've got a mission."
"Yes. That's all I can say for now. But you'll be safe, Tom. Trust me."
"Harry, these are Maquis who believe I was traitor to them twice over. They think I let myself be captured by Starfleet when I flew that mission for them so I could turn them in. None of that was true. But it is true that I led Voyager to the badlands after them. And I did it so that I might get out of prison earlier than I would have otherwise. The Maquis hate me."
His face looked troubled but there wasn't anything I could do or say to erase it. What had happened, had happened. Harry didn't need to have me sugarcoat either what I'd done or what they'd done. "But didn't you say Chakotay owed you?"
"Sure, he did. I saved his life in the Ocampan tunnel. But I guess he kind of forgot."
"Can you talk about it?"
"What is this, Harry? Therapy?"
He seemed startled. "No. It's just that you . . . you look. . . . Tom, you look like hell. You sound so bitter." He put up a hand as if to forestall any argument from me. "And I know you have good reasons. If a Maquis had raped me, I guess I'd be bitter, too."
"*A Maquis*? If it was *a* Maquis . . . oh, shit, you know what happened."
"I know, Tom. I wish we could have gotten you out of there sooner."
I closed my eyes and when I opened them I found Harry still sitting there, a concerned expression on his face. Softly, I reflected, "So do I, Har. So do I."
A day out from the Ocampan world I went into a panic, not while I was having a nightmare, but when I was wide awake. I fucking lost it. One minute I sat at the helm, somewhat bored as the autopilot ensured that we remained on course. The next minute I couldn't breathe, hammers struck at my chest, my field of vision darkened and narrowed. I was sure I was dying.
Before I passed out, I managed to lurch toward the back, toward Harry.
When I came to, Harry had a hypospray in his hand. The slight tingle at my neck let me know that he'd used it to bring me around. The lethargy I felt indicated that he may have done more with the hypospray. "What?"
Okay, not the most intelligent question in the universe.
"You fainted," Harry told me, his voice matter of fact.
I closed my eyes. I knew it was more than a faint. When I opened my eyes, Harry still hovered over me, concern vying with fear on his face. "I can't do it, Harry," I confessed. "I can't go there."
He pressed his palm against my cheek, "Tom, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."
"Anyplace else? Can we go anyplace else?" Gods, I must have sounded pathetic begging him like that.
"Tom, I have to go there. But . . . while I'm down below the surface . . . maybe you should stay in the shuttle until I get everything . . . settled. Would that work?"
He helped me to sit up and then guided me over to the bunk. I lay down on it as if my body was under 4 Gs of pressure.
"What . . . what'd you give me?"
"Can't get anything past you, huh?" Harry grinned.
"Well, shit. First you wake me up, then you put me to sleep," I grumbled.
"It's just a light sedative." At my grimace, he hastened to explain, "Tom, you haven't been sleeping --" we both knew why " -- and what just happened, I think you need to rest for awhile."
"Dr. Kim," I conferred a title on him with a tired smirk. His answering smile was just as weary. And I realized that my lack of sleep due to nightmares was also his lack of sleep.
As I drifted off, I heard him whisper with an intensity that would have shaken me if I were more awake, "It'll be all right, Tommy, it's got to be all right."
As we neared orbit around the planet, Harry woke me. I took one look out the view port and felt the sour taste of nausea in my throat. "I'm sorry, Tom, but we're here."
I knuckled the sleep out of my eyes and followed him to our seats at the front of the shuttle. "Did you mean it, Harry? I won't have to go down there?"
"Not if I can help it."
Shakily, I nodded, "Okay."
Neither of us approached the unspoken concern of what I would do in orbit and where I -- or we -- would go if . . . well, if things didn't go according to Harry's plan. So, instead, I dealt with questions about the local situation. "Any Kazon?"
"No. They seem to have left. Hey, with no array, no water, no way down to the Ocampan underground, there'd be no profit. Right?"
"Good. Any other aliens orbiting here?"
"None have showed up on sensors."
"What do sensors show of conditions on the planet?" Harry didn't answer right away and my heart jumped. What had he found? Was there any danger from the Maquis? "Harry?"
He must have heard my anxiety. "Tom, it's okay. I'm just comparing the readings with the last time we were here."
"Oh." I was ready to place us into a standard orbit. "Should I go ahead and . . . ."
My uncertainty was flowing out everywhere like a shaken bottle of beer. Harry stopped what he was doing to turn to me, "Tom, you know what you're doing. Take us into orbit."
Nodding, I plotted the details and without any hitch we assumed a standard orbit.
As I gazed out the viewscreen, the red-orange surface of the planet presented an almost unchanging face to us as we flew around it. But something out of place caught my eye. "Harry. What's that?"
"Yeah, I picked it up on my sensors. It looks like . . . a garden?"
"It's green," I reported. "What does it mean?"
We saw a few more green patches as well as a ribbon of water that connected them. This was definitely new. How had the Ocampans done this? Or was it the Maquis? Or some aliens who'd moved in when the Kazons moved out? A lot of questions and not many answers. I couldn't help but worry about Harry's safety down there.
"Harry? Maybe this isn't such a good idea."
"You going down there by yourself."
His eyes swept my face, judging me, my state of mind, my ability to handle what might be on the surface. "Are you saying you want to come with me?"
Just thinking about it made my knees feel weak and my head feel light. "Oh, Jeez, Harry, I don't know if I . . . . "
His expression never changed. "Do what's best for you, Tom. If you go down there and fall apart, you won't be helping me. If you stay up here but can send down a phaser spray or beam me up . . . . It's up to you. But before you decide you should know sensors show three Ocampans and one human on the surface."
"I think . . . . " it took everything I had to finish the sentence. "I think you need someone at your back."
"I'll be all right." I nodded a few times to convince us both. My heart was pounding, but the decision was made. I was going down there. "You won't mind if I take a compression rifle, will you?"
With a smile, he told me, "Take two. Or three."
"So. What's the plan?"
"Well, my original plan was to land the shuttle on the planet near where we came out of the tunnel. Then later, when I thought you were going to stay on board, I decided that I'd beam down to that same area near the tunnel."
"Let's go back to the original plan of landing the shuttle. If you notice, the tunnel is near one of those green areas and that's where the people are. As we fly in, I'll get as much information about that green patch as I can."
With a bitter taste in my mouth, I knew the fucking human had to be a Maquis. But I reassured myself that it was only one. Pulling myself together, my voice barely quavered when I told Harry, "Good plan. Laying in a course."
As my mind became occupied with the logistics of landing the shuttle, the fear of what I faced down below receded a little. A very little. My hands shook and I had to take a few deep breaths to steady myself. Even though I could land a shuttle almost in my sleep, I forced myself to concentrate on piloting. No sense crashing on the planet's surface.
We landed within a kilometer of the green area, a flourishing garden according to Harry's reports. By the time we had the shuttle door open, we found four 'gardeners' greeting us. No hoes or shovels, just hats and long sleeved shirts to protect themselves from the Ocampan sun. I didn't recognize the Ocampans, but the human was a Maquis woman named Henley. Dark haired, thin, medium height, tight lines broke her face into sharp planes. I remembered her as a Maquis with attitude, but then, I guess most of the Maquis I remembered had an attitude. She pointed an unknown weapon at me.
I directed a compression rifle at her. Harry aimed its companion at the group in general.
"Tom Paris," Henley spoke my name as if she had dirt in her mouth. Looking at Harry, she barked, "Who are you?"
"Retired," Harry corrected. "I need to see Chakotay."
Henley just sneered. "Let me get this straight. You and this traitor show up here in a Starfleet shuttle, point weapons at us, and demand to see Chakotay? What? Did you find a way back to the Alpha Quadrant and just had to complete your mission of capturing the Maquis? Huh?"
Harry kept calm in the face of her hostility. "No. I'll explain to Chakotay when I see him."Surprising me, Harry lowered his weapon and held out his hand, pointing my rifle down as well. "Harry!"
"Shut up, Tom, and let me handle this," he ordered sotto voce and Henley apparently didn't hear him.
Turning toward Harry, I challenged him. "Are you sure ? That's a Maquis." For Harry's sake I left out the expletive.
"She won't hurt you, Tom. Do this my way."
Reluctantly, I pointed my rifle at the ground even as I fought down the panic that threatened to overwhelm me. Maybe I should have stayed in orbit.
Harry stared down Henley until she, too, lowered her weapon. On her dark clothing, a communicator gleamed. It wasn't shaped like those used on Voyager, but I figured that it functioned in the same way. She hit the device and spoke, her words too soft for us to hear.
Shocked, I took a step backwards when four Maquis with rifles materialized. The Ocampans didn't have transporters, the Maquis ship had been destroyed, and Cavit sure as hell hadn't given them transporter technology. How had this happened?
I couldn't tell if any of these Maquis were among those who'd attacked me, but fortunately, Dalby wasn't among them. We were obviously outgunned and, very carefully, Harry placed his rifle on the ground. Following his lead, after Harry glared at me, I did likewise. Two of the Maquis picked up our rifles as the Ocampans looked on with frowns on their faces.
"We're here in peace. I need to see Chakotay."
Henley looked at one of the Maquis. After he nodded at her, she hit her comm badge again. This time Chakotay materialized.
When I saw the smug son-of-a bitch, I couldn't help it, I lunged at him, "You bastard! You bastard!"
In taking them by surprise, I got in a solid head butt to Chakotay's middle before a Maquis rifle clobbered me to the ground. I groaned and tried to get away from the second blow that was aimed at my back. I saw Chakotay's hand stop his defender.
"No. That's enough."
I knew there were a few weapons pointed at me. Somehow I managed to control my rage to the point where I simply trembled on the red dirt but made no move to get up. Belatedly, I remembered Harry saying that we came in peace.
"Sir." That was Harry Kim, polite even to the enemy. "I'm Harry Kim. From Voyager. I have something for you."
"No, sir. Tom is with me for reasons that . . . . Look, he needs asylum."
"And you came to the Maquis?" Chakotay's voice was incredulous. And well it should be.
"Sir. Please look at this PADD. I'm going to take it out very slowly."
Curious, I watched Harry withdraw a PADD from a pocket in his shirt. He stepped very deliberately toward the Maquis captain and extended his hand.
I guessed that Chakotay, as well, must have been questioning, for he didn't order my immediate execution. He accepted the PADD and began to scan its contents. Every so often, he looked at Harry as if he couldn't believe what he was reading. His lips pursed and a low whistle sailed over my head.
Finished with his scan, Chakotay turned his gaze down at me and I saw something strange in his expression. I thought it was pity, maybe even compassion. To the Ocampans he asked, "Would you be able to secure quarters for these two men? Make them comfortable?"
The head Ocampan nodded gravely. He was a tall man with gray hair and gray eyes who looked nothing like Cavit, despite the similarity in their coloring. "Yes, Chakotay. It will be done. We will keep you informed."
"Good." To his own people, especially Henley, he said in a very deliberate manner, "These men are under my protection. No one but Ocampans are to go in or out of their quarters. If I learn of anyone causing any harm to them, that person will answer to me, personally. And I will not be lenient if these orders are broken. Understood?"
I could hardly figure out what was going on. Did the Maquis think their leader was in his right mind? I sure as hell thought he'd lost it. An Ocampan gave me a hand up and I stood face to face with Chakotay. Rubbing my shoulder where I'd been hit, I asked, "Why?"
His dark eyes bored into me, as if trying to see something I didn't know was there. It made me want to turn around to see what was behind me. "We'll talk later, Paris."
His hand reached out toward me and I shied away involuntarily. He was too closely associated in my experience with his crewmen, such as Dalby. And those encounters were the stuff of my nightmares. They even terrified me in my waking hours. Chakotay's words notwithstanding, it seemed too likely that the nightmares would become real once again.
Almost regretfully, Chakotay tried once more to reach me, this time with only his voice. His hands remained firmly at his sides. "I'm sorry, Paris. I didn't know."
His words stunned me, but I couldn't find my voice to challenge him on them. He didn't know? He fucking didn't know? Fuck!
Glaring back at the big Maquis, I stood beside the Ocampans and beside Harry. We were beamed away from the surface to the Ocampan home below ground and shown to an apartment.
The tall, gray-haired Ocampan told us his name was Bren and that we were welcome to stay here. On our tour of the two rooms, he showed us the food dispensers with which Harry already seemed familiar. There was only one bed, a little larger than the bunk I'd had on Voyager during the brief time when I was an observer and Janeway was the captain. As if reading my thoughts, and I remember hearing that the Ocampan were telepathic, Bren said, "Another bed can be arranged if it's needed."
"Yeah, good," I agreed as Harry carried a bowl of something away from the food dispenser.
"Let me know if there is anything you need," Bren offered, a perfect host.
Harry handed me the bowl and, without thinking, I accepted it. Bren nodded and left.
When I looked into the bowl, I thought with a grimace that even the scraps Cavit allowed me appeared better than this. I shoved the bowl back at Harry and sat down on a chair. Too restless to stay put, I bounced up and began pacing the room.
"Tom. It's going to be all right."
"How do you know that? The Maquis could be here any minute." I felt too jumpy to sit still. I was sure the Maquis were on their way, Dalby leading the pack, my ass as their objective. Unless Chakotay took me first.
After placing the bowl on a table, Harry held me by both my arms. "Tom, Tom, listen to me. Chakotay guaranteed your safety."
I couldn't believe it. It didn't matter what I'd heard the Maquis say. Not Chakotay. Not the man who did nothing to stop his Maquis from beating and raping me. How could I believe his promises? I broke away from him. "This is going to hell, Harry! You shouldn't have rescued me."
As I headed toward the door, he stopped me and spun me around to face him. "Stop it! Stop it, Tom. I know what they did. But that was on Voyager. This is going to be different."
Angry with him, with everything, I shouted at him, "You don't know shit!"
Before I could start tearing the place apart, there was a knock on the door. Harry took a deep breath and called, "Come in."
To me, Harry said, "Take it easy, Tom, please."
I made no promises, just folded my arms across my chest and tried to stop the warp engine that was my heart. I was breathing heavily and shaking inside. I knew it was the Maquis.
I knew it. I was right. Chakotay came through the door, alone, and unarmed. He barely glanced at Harry, his eyes locked on me. He held his hands out to his side, palms open, a gesture of peace. "Paris. Kim."
Even though he spoke Harry's name, he kept his attention on me. I guess he thought I'd attack him again. But I had myself under control this time. Barely.
"We need to talk," Chakotay said quietly.
Harry gestured to the table where four chairs were placed. "Let's sit down. Tom?"
Through clenched teeth, I declined, "I'd rather stand."
Tensely, I stood with my back against the wall, facing the door as Harry and Chakotay took seats at the table. Deliberately, Chakotay reached under his vest, his hand moving slowly and his eyes on me. "It's just Kim's PADD."
I nodded tightly that I understood, all the while wondering when the rest of the Maquis were going to break through the door. Chakotay placed the PADD on the table. "Very interesting reading. Is it true?"
Harry nodded, "Every word."
"And what happened to Paris?"
What the hell was in that PADD? Had Harry known everything all along? What kind of idiot was I that I trusted him? I knew now that he was about to sell me out. Surprisingly, instead of the anger I would have expected at being betrayed, I felt hurt. I turned and pounded the wall as if the wall could absorb the sting of tears in my eyes.
Before I could break any bones, Harry's arms enfolded me. At this action, I whirled inside his embrace and lashed out at him, "What the fuck do you care? Let me break the hand, let me break every bone in my body! Isn't that what you want? Huh? My *pal*, right!"
"Tom. No." Although his voice was loud, it was also controlled, a big contrast to my own. "Read the PADD. Take a minute and -- Read. The. PADD."
One of Harry's hands came up with the PADD. "Here. Do it."
I couldn't prevent the trembling in my hand as I took the PADD. Leaving Harry and Chakotay to their plotting, I went into the bedroom and sat on the bed to follow Harry's orders. At first, it was hard to concentrate on the words. But as I reread the first paragraph over and over, I realized that Tuvok hadn't deserted me and Harry hadn't turned on me. The big question was Chakotay. Where was he in all this?
Stunned by what I'd read, I dropped the PADD on the bed and rose to my feet. I stood in the doorway between the rooms. My hands gripped the door frame on either side of me as I swayed in the opening. With a mouth almost too dry to speak, I cleared my throat, and said, "Harry? Is this for real?"
Both dark-haired men turned to look at me. With a quiet assurance that made him seem years older than his true age, Harry said, "Yes. Tom. It's for real. We're going to take over Voyager."
"Are out of your fucking mind?" So, I wasn't too thrilled with the plan. "Harry, there is no way in the universe that I'm going back to Voyager. None. No way."
I spun back into the bedroom. If there'd been a door to slam, I would have rocked it off its hinges. Harry came toward me, "Tom, we have to do this."
"Enjoy yourselves, but count me out." In my peripheral vision, I noticed Chakotay standing up as if he meant to get between me and Harry. "Stay out of this! I don't trust you, you sick fuck!"
"I didn't know," Chakotay told me.
"Oh, sure! Tell me another one and I might even fly Voyager someday!"
"Tom," Harry tried to cajole me with his most placating voice.
"Why didn't you tell me, Harry? Huh? Didn't trust me?" All of the rage that I'd had to keep hidden started bubbling to the surface. I picked up the PADD that I'd left on the bed and threw it across the room. It hit the wall with a solid thud and shattered onto the floor.
"Paris . . ." Chakotay warned.
"Shut up! Just shut the fuck up! Who invited you in here, anyway!" I wasn't exactly feeling rational at this point. I hated him and I wanted to smash his solid-looking face into a million tiny, smoking pieces. In fact, my fists balled up as I got ready to let him have it. But Harry grabbed my arm.
"Tom! You need to hear what he has to say."
I just gave him a look of total disgust. Yeah. Sure. "There's nothing that fucker can say that I want to hear!"
"Yes, Tom, there is. Please." Harry was openly pleading with me. "I got you out of there, didn't I?"
Those quietly spoken words reminded me that I owed this guy, really owed him. Although it surprised me that Harry called me on it, I knew it was true. I'd give him this. "All right," I conceded, but my tone was sullen and I glared at Chakotay hoping my gaze would fry his eyeballs.
"Let's sit down," Harry suggested calmly.
I sat apart from them, rocking my chair back a bit, arms crossed firmly across my chest. Without saying a word, I basically told them 'Fuck you, show me'.
"What do you want to hear first?" Harry asked.
"I want to know what this . . . what he was doing . . . ."
As I started to strangle on my own words, Chakotay took a deep breath. His hands rested flat on the table top, brown knuckles looking a little tense. "Paris. When I read the PADD Kim gave me, that's the first I knew that you'd been assaulted by my people. I know, I know, you don't believe it. But let me tell what you happened."
I looked to Harry for guidance and he nodded. Grudgingly, I told Chakotay, "So, no one's stopping you."
When my hostile tone didn't faze him and my glare didn't make him spontaneously combust, he told his story. "Janeway and I had come to some understanding. As she pointed out, we had the same problem, each of us missing a crew member on the planet, each of us 75 years from home. Working together, I began to trust her. I even crashed my ship because I trusted her, trusted that Voyager would beam me aboard and not let me blow up with the ship. And, I was beamed up, just in time. Then, well, we all saw Tuvok return and Janeway didn't. The array . . . she must have managed to reactivate the self-destruct device. Anyway, it blew and took her with it.
"I didn't expect Cavit to imprison all the Maquis on the shuttle bay. Once we were there, someone told me that they heard you'd been sent to the brig. At the time, I thought that was probably the safest place for you. Then, several of Cavit's security people came to get me. I was brought to sick bay and some kind of implant was put in my neck against my will. It was a transponder that allowed Cavit to beam me around the ship at will."
That sounded familiar. I remembered finding the device in my own neck and involuntarily fingered the scar where I'd dug it out. Realizing what I was giving away, I folded my arms across my chest once more.
Chakotay picked up the thread of his story, even as he focused his eyes momentarily on my scar. To his credit, he didn't smirk knowingly at me, just nodded, a sad expression on his face. "I guess he did the same thing to you."
When I nodded, Chakotay picked up his story. "Then the security guard took me to the brig and I remained there for some time. I didn't see you, but you could have been in one of the cells I couldn't see. At some point, I was beamed back to the shuttle bay. It was night. There must have been a delivery of blankets. Everything was quiet, people were sleeping."
This wasn't what I expected to hear, not by a long shot. "And the next day?"
"Normal. Well, as normal as things can be when so many people are confined to a small space. We had food and jugs of water beamed in, portable toilets were likewise beamed in."
"And no one said anything about Tom Paris being there?"
"No, I'm sorry. No one."
"What about Torres?"
"What about her?"
"She stopped them! Didn't she tell you?"
"I didn't see her that morning. Dalby told me she'd had some aftereffects from the disease she'd contracted and was in sick bay."
"There were four more times when I was beamed out of the shuttle bay. Sometimes, I ended up in the brig; once, I found myself in the captain's ready room. I was told we were being deported to Ocampa, that the deal had been struck and there was nothing I could do about it. I didn't see B'Elanna during all that time. Cavit told me she was still in sick bay but would be transported down to the planet to join the rest of us."
I had a very sick feeling that somehow B'Elanna Torres' memory had been tampered with. I wouldn't put it past the holodoctor or Cavit. "She never said anything about Dalby and his friends attacking me? About how she had to throw them off of me?"
"No. I did ask her about her time aboard Voyager and she said all she remembered was spending it in sick bay behind a force field. She said she hadn't been mistreated and was cured of the disease. That was all."
I tried to put it all together. "You weren't there, is that what you're saying?"
"Paris, I believe strongly in the Maquis cause. It is my cause. You know that. I would never allow my people to hurt or abuse . . . "
"How about rape?" I demanded angrily.
"I didn't know, Paris. No one told me. I guess they knew what I'd do to the people responsible." He looked me straight in my disbelieving baby blues. "And I will see that justice is done."
I just snorted. "Sure, Chakotay. Look, there's no evidence. It's my word against your men. There's a lot more of them than there are of me. And you probably have a pretty low opinion of my word."
"I have Tuvok's report in the PADD. It doesn't provide the details, but it tells me you were raped by my people." His eyes flashed in anger. "And I will deal with it. I gather Dalby was the ringleader?"
I nodded. "Why would you believe Tuvok? He lied to you."
"He omitted telling me that he worked for the Federation. And, yeah, that's pissed me off since I found it out. Other than that one area, he was completely trustworthy. I don't believe he would lie to me about this. Dalby's veracity is another story."
'Dalby led the festivities."
"I don't know their names, but a lot of Maquis watched or heard. And did nothing."
Chakotay's sorrow slipped through the impassive mask he tried to wear. "I am sorry. None of that should have happened."
"Somehow, I think Cavit set it all up," Harry spoke for the first time since we'd begun this conversational confessional.
"It doesn't matter. Dalby's responsible for what he did," Chakotay explained.
Harry looked at me pointedly, "What about it, Tom?"
My arms were still folded across my chest, after all, I been conned by the best. I gave Chakotay a wise-ass smirk. "What are you going to do? Slap his wrists?"
"No. There'll be a courts martial for all of them."
"You're not in Starfleet, Chakotay."
"Paris, I don't expect you to suddenly give up the hatred you've been nurturing. All I can say is, watch what I do."
I knew I would watch his actions very carefully.
Harry jumped in again, "We've got to get this settled so Tom can get on with his life."
"Right, Harry, it's been nice, but I know you've got a mutiny to engineer."
"Oh, shut up, Tom," Harry told me with a smile in his voice.
"I will be on it as soon as I leave these quarters," Chakotay promised us. "In the meantime, I gather you two have a lot to discuss."
With those words, Chakotay rose and left. The silence hung awkwardly in the wake of the big Maquis' departure. Harry cleared his throat, "Uh, Tom?"
At that moment, he looked and sounded like the kid on DS-9. All right, he was no longer a kid. And I'd ceased being a kid when I was 22 and caused three deaths on Caldik Prime. Funny, it seemed as if the conversation with Chakotay had reawakened a lot of old shit, not the least of which was the mayhem in Voyager's shuttle bay. "I'm tired, Harry."
"I couldn't tell you. Tuvok wanted you to be safe. In fact, he wasn't sure I should tell you at all. He thought it'd be better for you to become a part of Ocampan society and to put the Federation and Maquis behind you."
"What? He figured they'd keep me safe from Dalby and his crew?"
"No. Tuvok figured that Chakotay would keep you safe from them. Ocampans do a good job of healing. I know, remember?"
"Okay, so Tuvok, the almighty, decided I should be kept in the dark, tucked away on this underworld society, while you and Chakotay and his hand-picked people went back with you to take over Voyager. Is that it?"
"You know it's more complicated than that. We have to find allies, ones we can trust."
"Oh, I'm sure the Kazon will be delighted to assist."
"Ones we can trust, Tom," he repeated. "Tuvok thought the Talaxian might help us, might know some others . . . . "
His words dropped off as he caught my disbelief. "Harry, the Talaxian manipulated us. All he wanted was to be reunited with his girl friend."
"But he knows the Delta Quadrant, he's been around. He knows who's trustworthy and who isn't."
"Jeez, some mutiny."
My sarcasm seemed to get under his skin, as it was meant to. "Tom. This is a good plan. You'll see, if you give it a chance."
"What? You asking me to participate?"
Harry's face was wide open, no deception, no guile. "Yeah."
"You're crazy, Harry."
With a smile, that if I didn't know him better, I'd think was sly, he asked, "Don't you want to see Cavit in the brig? And the holodoctor reprogrammed?"
"You're getting warm, Harry. Throw in Stralley as Cavit's cell mate and you may just hook me into this . . . whatever the hell you call it."
"Shit. Mutiny." I ran a hand through my hair, "I must be crazy. Harry, I'm the poster boy for Maquis and Federation brutality and you want me to be a part of a joint Maquis-Federation take-over of Voyager? No, it isn't me who's crazy. It's you."
He shrugged. "I guess I am." His look became intense, "Tom, I joined *Starfleet*. I wore that uniform proudly. The oath I took as an officer meant something to me. Cavit . . . Cavit betrayed everything I believed in, everything Starfleet stood for. So, yeah, I am a little crazy."
"And you trust Tuvok?"
"Tuvok is the only reason you're still alive, Tom."
Point well taken.
Before we could determine who was crazier, there was pounding on the door. When Harry went to let the person in, Dalby stormed inside, a phaser in his hand, fury in his body. "Where's that good-for-nothing fuck, Paris?"
Uh-oh. Dalby. For a moment I was totally paralyzed. But before I could react, Chakotay tackled him from behind and the phaser went flying. With a mental kick to my frozen butt, I darted for the phaser while Chakotay and Dalby wrestled on the floor. I held the phaser with both shaking hands and pointed it at the two men. As nearly as I could tell, it wouldn't matter which one I hit.
Chakotay saw the phaser first and stopped short of punching out Dalby. Then Dalby followed the track of Chakotay's eyes and saw the phaser, too. So did Harry.
Apart from a lot of heavy breathing, my own included, no one spoke. I broke the ice, my anger steadying my hands. "Chakotay, move away from him."
The phaser was old, but standard. I thumbed the setting to vaporize. All of them saw me change it.
Desperately, Harry urged, "Don't do it, Tom."
I just pointed the phaser a little more on target. Right at Dalby's crotch. "I'm going to shoot 'em off of you, you scum-sucking, fucking, son-of-a-bitch." I swore at him in Klingon and French as well as Federation Standard. It was as if a red curtain, like a heated column of unreasoning rage, had dropped all around me.
Seemingly in slow motion, a red-hazed Harry moved toward the two men on the floor. "Stop it!" I screamed at him.
But Harry kept going, one slow step at a time, until he was between me and Dalby.
"No! Harry! No!"
"I can't let you do this, Tom. Dalby will go on trial. He will! Listen to me!"
I'd been trying to move around Harry but he kept himself between me and them by moving with me. As both Dalby and I focused on Harry, Chakotay hauled off and punched Dalby's lights out. The man fell back and lay motionless on the ground.
By this time, a lot of Ocampans occupied the corridors. Bren peered inside. When he saw me with my phaser pointed at Dalby, he stepped into the doorway. I don't know what he did, it was a little like Tuvok's mind link. I felt a nudge in my head and my hands dropped, the phaser falling from numbed fingers.
Harry scooped up the phaser and tucked it in the waistband of his pants. Even though I knew I wanted to attack Dalby with my bare hands if I couldn't phaser him out of existence, I just stood numbly in place. I think Bren must have exerted some kind of control over my mind.
Scrambling to his feet, Chakotay asked Bren, "Do you have a jail? A place where you confine criminals?"
Bren looked puzzled, nonetheless, he nodded. At his movement, I felt my mind being gently released.
Although Chakotay had hit Dalby, I thought he wanted me to go to the Ocampan's jail. Bren seemed to understand things differently. At Bren's motion, several Ocampans took Dalby and dragged him under his arms from our quarters.
Harry gave Bren the phaser, butt first. "We won't be needing this."
Accepting the phaser silently, Bren started to leave. But before he exited, Bren turned back around, his gaze taking in all of us. "We will be able to help Paris if he wishes our help."
With that enigmatic statement he was gone. Both Harry and Chakotay looked at me and I worried that I'd suddenly changed into a Bolian or something. "What?"
Harry could barely conceal the anger, "Tom, there's laws to take care of scum like Dalby."
"Thank you for the news, Attorney Kim." Another designation to add to the 'doctor' title I'd given him earlier.
"Boys," Chakotay's grim admonishment had us both turning to him. The Maquis captain didn't seem angry, more like resigned. He rubbed the hand that hit Dalby and I guessed that he'd hurt his knuckles. "Tom, we will deal with Dalby and all of those who hurt you. You have my word."
Somehow, the way he said that, the piercing look he gave me, all spoke of his determination to carry through on his words. In return, I vowed, "I will be watching what you do."
"Fair enough." Chakotay focused on Harry. "We need to talk to some people to locate allies. I believe Neelix will be able to help us in that regard and I've sent word for him."
The adrenalin rush from the altercation with Dalby left me as rapidly as the Kazon going after water. I felt the floor falter under my feet and I reached out blindly for the chair. Once my hand found it, I sat heavily. Harry and Chakotay's words went by because I was concentrating too hard on staying upright. It felt as if darkness was forcing itself onto my visual field and enfolding wavering surroundings on a black, blank velvet surface.
Next thing I knew I was stretched out on the bed, Harry hovering over me wiping my forehead with a cool, damp cloth. "Tom?"
"What happened?" Then I remembered. Dalby. Chakotay. The past. And my head hurt.
"You passed out, hit your head on the table."
"Great." As I started to sit up, Harry's hand on my chest pushed me back down.
"Not yet. The doctor's on her way."
"I'm all right now."
"Just listen to him, Paris, and let the doctor check you out."
It was Chakotay, obviously still here. He stood in the bedroom doorway for a moment before he turned around and left for the living area.
I thought it might be nice to go to sleep for awhile. Once they had Cavit in the brig they could wake me up. Until then . . . .
"Tom, wake up," Harry called to me and it took me a moment to focus on him. He seemed a little blurry.
Someone stood next to him, a small Ocampan woman clothed in the flowing robes I had seen more than once on the inhabitants. Must be the latest fashion. Her image blurred, split into two, coalesced back into one person. I blinked a few times. Something was wrong with my eyes.
"I am Tres and I would like to help you."
"Okay," I agreed slowly.
"It would help me if I could use my mind to touch your mind."
I remembered Tuvok asking permission to do that very thing to me all those months ago. It hadn't hurt, in fact, his mind link had helped a lot. Maybe her touch would be like that. I didn't know. "Uh -- what will you do?"
"Read the problem or problems, and if there are any, I'll send healing energy in to fix those problems."
"I'm . . . ." I tried to marshal my thoughts but they acted as if they didn't want to proceed in a coherent order. Finally, I was able to latch onto one. "I think I'm an alien here."
I could see Harry smile. For some reason, he had my hand in his own. He gave it a gentle squeeze.
Tres also smiled, kilometers of white teeth flashing my way, or maybe there weren't that many and my eyes just hadn't converged correctly. "I have seen a number of aliens such as yourself lately. Apparently, your people were left here on our world without a physician."
"Not my people," I protested. Her smile was kindly as she waited for my response. "Yes. Do what you can."
She had me focus on a crystal she wore around her neck. I felt her mind touch my own.
Suddenly a bright light flashed, so bright I closed my eyes against the pain of it. When I opened them again, I saw Tres stagger backwards, the crystal shattered. Her expression was one of shock. She screamed, "No!"
I don't know how long I was out. But the room seemed crowded with Ocampans. Two Ocampans I hadn't seen before flanked my bed. Bren and several others hovered around Tres, slumped before them in a chair.
As if he was a symbol of relief from being alone in an alien world, Harry sat beside me on the bed. Surprisingly, Chakotay stood behind him, a neutral expression on his face.
Whatever had happened, my blurred vision had cleared. But in its place was an almost hyperclarity, colors too bright, images too sharp. A few groans later, Harry placed his arm behind my back and helped me to sit up. "What happened?"
Chakotay had a question of his own, "What do you remember?"
"The crystal exploded?" After puzzling through the last few images before I passed out, that was the best I could come up with. "Is she . . . is Tres all right?"
"Tres is recovering," said one of the Ocampans beside my bed. She gave me a smile just shy of reassuring. "I'm Jena. How are you feeling now?"
"Everything's real bright." In fact, my eyes squinted at the brightness of the room and its occupants. "Kind of hurts."
"No. My eyes."
"We will consult with our colleagues and return soon."
Her voice was low and soothing and I appreciated its quietness. She and her companion joined Bren and Tres out of earshot.
Harry's hand turned my head toward his face. "Tom?"
Behind Harry, Chakotay shifted as if he was uncomfortable. I wondered why he was still around. When Harry saw my eyes dart upwards he looked around and saw Chakotay. I couldn't tell what unspoken thoughts were exchanged between them. But the Maquis captain turned away and left the room.
"You going to be all right?" Harry asked.
Trying to hide the confusion that washed through me at all this concern, I just snorted. "Sure."
Spoiling the effect of indestructibility that I was trying to create, I yawned. Shit, I was tired. Harry's arm behind my back slowly let me down. As my head sank into the soft pillow, I closed my eyes.
Some time later I awoke to find myself still surrounded by Ocampans. And Harry. Unnerving me a little were the serious expressions on everyone's faces. "What? What's wrong?"
Tres smiled. "You will be all right, now. May I?"
I wasn't sure what she was asking permission for. "Huh?"
"Ah. Will you let me hold my hand over you?"
"Because . . . . ?"
"I would like to repair any damage the crystal did." She had very blue eyes that reflected a deep reservoir of care. Locked into her gaze, she regarded me with total stillness.
Only then did she move. She linked a hand with the Ocampan nearest her as they each joined hands around the bed. Puzzled, I noticed that Chakotay and Harry formed the last links. But before I could ask about them, her hand came forward and held a place just above my forehead.
For a long moment, nothing happened. Then I felt a gentle incursion into my mind, a slight shifting around, as if strands of spaghetti had been separated from each other on a plate.
When she removed her hand, she smiled at me again. The hyperclarity was gone, replaced by normal colors and brightness. I felt a lot better and sat up on my own. "Thanks."
Harry and Chakotay exchanged glances.
"What is it, guys?"
Harry answered. "They should do more of this, you know, this healing."
Tres seemed upset. "Tom. You have experienced many difficult and painful abuses at the hands of others. These are creating what we call 'disharmony' in your mind."
"It is a serious disturbance. Don't you feel it?"
"Look, I appreciate your concern, but I'm fine." At her sad expression, I tried to soften my tone. "I'm sorry I broke your crystal and I hope you're all right."
"I am well and I appreciate your kind words. But, Tom, you . . . . "
I interrupted before she could go broadcasting my mental state to the whole room. "And I'm fine. Thank you."
That smile warmed her face once more. "Very well." She pressed a small object into my hand and added, "This device will allow you to call me if you change your mind."
It was a small, stone-like object. "How?"
"Just think my name while you hold the stone."
She and the other Ocampans departed and left me alone with Harry and Chakotay. "What happened here?"
Harry explained, "The Ocampans are telepathic. They can use their mental abilities to heal injuries and . . . well, I don't know what all else."
"I guess I embarrassed myself, breaking her crystal and all that."
"She said it's not important. The crystal was for you, so you could focus your mind while she tried to heal your head injury."
"I guess she succeeded." I looked from one to the other. "So. What now?"
"I'm going to put together a case against Dalby and whoever else was involved in the beatings and rapes." Chakotay sounded very determined.
"What does it mean? Put together a case?"
"I'm going to take statements from witnesses, yourself included. And then I'm going to arrange a trial."
Quietly, I asked, "Will the trial be open?"
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Harry blanch. I guess he hadn't thought about what a trial would mean. Chakotay took a deep breath and nodded. "The rest of the Maquis have to know that the behavior of Dalby and his pals won't be tolerated."
"And I'll have to testify?"
"Yes. And we'll have Tuvok's statement entered into evidence."
"So. Everyone will know what happened to me."
"Everyone will know what happens to those scum who hurt you."
I shook my head. I knew I couldn't relive those events on the shuttlebay by talking about it in front of others. "I can't."
"Tuvok's statement is not enough. Paris, your cooperation . . . . "
"I said, no."
"Then what do you want me to do about Dalby? Let him go?"
I threw myself down on the bed and turned away from them. Harry's hand fell on my shoulder as if to comfort me, but I shrugged it away. "Leave me alone."
As I pulled the pillow over my head, I heard Chakotay and Harry leave the room. Doors swished shut and the room became quiet.
In the stillness, I could feel my link with Tuvok as a kind of warm, but silent spot in my mind. I didn't dwell on the nature of the connection with Tuvok, instead, exhaustion overwhelmed me.
I was the first witness at the courts martial of the Maquis Six.
Chakotay had arrested six of his Maquis, including Dalby. With the help of the Ocampans, he set up a trial room and closed it to all but a few. Knowing the trial would be closed helped some. I still hated the idea of being exposed to the few Maquis who didn't already know what happened. But I hated more the idea that the ones who raped me would go free.
Harry was allowed to sit next to me throughout the entire ordeal. Bren and two other Ocampans who I came to know well, Arana and Wis, served as judges after Chakotay explained the nature of a court martial.
Dalby decided to defend himself and the others. Over my protests, Chakotay let him. I argued that Dalby would be free to put me on trial. Both Chakotay and I knew I wouldn't stand much scrutiny. After Bren assured me that only relevant questions would be allowed, I grudgingly gave up my protests. Nonetheless, the thought of having to actually face that bastard made me shudder.
As the first witness, Chakotay led me through the events that I didn't want to describe. Despite an unexpected gentleness on Chakotay's part, sometimes I just lost it. Here were a dozen people listening to my degradation and humiliation. Six rapes, my body turned inside out, my helplessness, all of this I described to Chakotay and the judges. The Maquis captain's quiet questions made sure I identified who did what and when, as best I could remember.
I felt as if I was in a nightmare and there was no way to wake up. It upset me to realize that I was crying in front of everyone. At one point, I found Harry beside me handing me a glass of water and patting my shoulder. I don't know what miracle kept him by my side, but he was a lifeline to a reality that didn't include routine abuse.
After the first day's testimony, I knew that I would face Dalby's questions next. That night the dreams were so horrific that Harry told me I had to bring Tres in. Shaking from the aftermath of the nightmares, I consented. Holding her stone, I called her name. I wasn't sure if I believed this would work, but didn't think there was anything to lose by trying. In less than half an hour she knocked on the door to the apartment.
Dressed in my shorts, t-shirt, and a robe supplied by our hosts, I sat at the table, Harry on one side of me, Tres on the other. Carefully, she looked at my face. "I'm so sorry. Will you let me help?"
"Just . . . can you just talk to me?"
I don't remember when I'd let myself be so open and I squirmed a lot in discomfort.
"You fear this Dalby?"
Not something I wanted to admit. "Yeah."
"What happens in your dream?"
"He . . . he . . . I'm totally at his mercy. I can't move on my own, even my thoughts aren't my own. He tells me what to think, when to move, how to move, and I can't fight him."
She had me imagine him sitting at the defense table, hands bound to the arms of the chair. "He can't hurt you now."
I just stared at her.
"He can't hurt you," she repeated very softly and took my hand in both of hers. The warmth was comforting and I felt myself calming down some at her touch. "Go ahead, try it."
As I looked inward, all I could see was Dalby sitting there at the defense table, smirking, stripping me bare with his eyes. "I can't."
"It's all right," she soothed, "it's all right. You don't have to say anything. His evil is very powerful. But, you, Tom, are stronger than you may think. As you go back to sleep, remember that. You are stronger than you think. Can you say that?"
"I'm stronger than I think?" It came out a question. I wasn't sure I believed her. Instead of telling me I'd gotten it all wrong, she smiled at me.
"You'll be fine." One of her hands left mine and brushed across my forehead. A wave of warmth suffused me and I felt sleepy.
When she nodded to Harry, he placed his hand at my elbow and helped me to my feet. She left as he led me back to bed. Even though we had an extra bed for Harry, he hadn't used it. He told me he should be with me in case I had nightmares. So far, he'd been right and I was okay with sharing the space with him.
Shedding the robe, I sank into the mattress. Harry climbed in and turned on his side toward me. "You okay?" he whispered.
"Yeah. Thanks, Harry."
The next day, Chakotay finished with my direct testimony by mid-morning. Then, Dalby started in on me.
"Didn't you join the Maquis?"
I couched my answer very technically. "I was hired by the Maquis to pilot their ships."
"Yes or no. Did you or did you not join the Maquis?"
"And didn't you betray the Maquis?" His hateful face was only inches from my own. I could feel the spittle that flew from his mouth as he taunted me with his questions. "Answer, Paris. Didn't you betray the Maquis by flying straight back to the Federation on your first mission?"
"No. I didn't. I was captured and sent to prison."
"But you still betrayed the Maquis later, didn't you?"
With my eyes I appealed to Chakotay who was already on his feet objecting. Bren ruled that I should answer the question.
Looking down at my trembling hands, I answered, "Yes."
"Tell us how, Paris. How did you betray the Maquis?"
This was something I didn't want to face. My own culpability. "I agreed to lead Captain Janeway to the badlands, to the hideouts of the Maquis. But . . . . "
"You led the Federation to the Maquis, isn't that right? Yes or no."
"What happens to traitors, Paris?"
"I object," Chakotay announced.
"Please answer the question," Bren told me.
"If they're convicted, they're sent to prison, to rehabilitation."
"And what happens in the Maquis to traitors?"
I looked down at my feet, then back up at his nasty face. Beyond Dalby I could see Harry leaning forward in his chair, his eyes on me. "They're executed. In the Maquis."
"But the Maquis didn't execute you, did we? Yes or no?"
Dalby nodded as if he'd won a major point. "You like sex, don't you Paris?"
"Objection. The victim's prior sexual history is inadmissable."
"Sustained," Bren said to my great relief.
"I wasn't asking about his history. I was asking if he liked sex."
"Objection. That has nothing to do with being raped."
Dalby turned back to me angrily, once again in my face. I thought I'd be sick if I had to look at him this closely for much longer.
"You liked it, didn't you, Paris?"
Nausea just about made me throw up all over him. I put my hand over my mouth and another over my stomach.
Before Chakotay could get the objection out of his mouth, Bren reprimanded Dalby. "Enough. Move back from the witness."
Once Dalby was outside of spitting distance, I took a deep breath. The nausea went down and I told Bren, "I want to answer that."
Bren nodded for me to continue.
I brought my eyes up and stared into Dalby's malicious face. In my mind, I imagined him seated at the defense table, his arms bound to the chair. "I hated what you did. I hated every single moment of it every time. You brutalized me for your own amusement. You encouraged the others. All of you, you acted as if I wasn't a person, just some slab of meat that had convenient holes in it. You beat me, you raped me, you took everything away from me that you could."
By the time I was finished speaking, I had tears in my eyes. But I didn't take back my words in the face of his hatred. Shaking inside from a sudden chill, I knew I had faced down at least one of my demons.
Other witnesses were called. Tuvok's message on the PADD was replayed for the judges. Several of the Maquis came forward and verified that the attacks had taken place and that the men on trial were responsible for them even if they couldn't provide details.
Chakotay called B'Elanna to the stand. She remembered throwing the men off me that first time. Her account of what she saw was precise and surprised me. I didn't remember some of what she told the judges.
"I heard a lot of noise and I went to see what was going on."
"What did you see?" Chakotay asked her.
"I saw a gang rape in progress. They were battering Paris even though blood was smeared on his thighs and backside. I could see it and smell it. I could smell the fact that all six of them had ejaculated on or in Paris."
When Chakotay asked her how she could smell six different ejaculates, she told him she was a Klingon with a highly developed sense of smell. She went on to identify them as the men she threw off me. She claimed she was able to identify them by their scent.
On his cross-examination, Dalby established that she hadn't seen anyone actually penetrating me. He glared at her hatefully throughout, as if she was personally responsible for betraying him.
The final witness Chakotay called was Tres.
"When I attempted to heal his head injury, I encountered the amalgam of his memories, emotions, and thoughts about these events as well as other violations of his person."
"What did this encounter reveal to you?"
She saw all six of the defendants beating and raping me. She saw the vivid image of Dalby's brown and blood smeared arm when he fisted me nearly to death.
Chakotay concluded his case.
Dalby rose and told the judges that we were all mistaken. Neither he nor the others had ever touched me. There was no physical evidence that any of them had attacked me. Furthermore, he told the judges that there were at least fifty Maquis in that shuttle bay, forty of them men. His final line of defense was that I was traitor hated by all the Maquis. Any of those forty men could have done it. Each of the five other Maquis said basically the same thing. None of them ever touched me.
Late in the afternoon, the judges began their deliberations. Just before dinner, they returned, and we all waited to hear their decision. I tried to read their faces, but no signs were present that I could interpret. Harry gripped my hand and I clasped his back. Tres smiled at me. Even Chakotay nodded toward me.
I swallowed over the lump as large as a tricorder in my throat.
Bren stood up and stated, "We find the defendants guilty. These were heinous crimes. Although our ways are not the ways of your Alpha Quadrant, we agree that there shall be rehabilitation that takes down their personalities to the core and rebuilds them along more societally acceptable ways."
That lump grew to the size of a regenerator. I couldn't believe what I'd heard. Harry hugged me and I hugged him back.
When we broke apart I looked at Chakotay. He had just prosecuted his own people. If he had any misgivings at all it didn't show in the wide grin on his face where dimples creased his cheeks. He held out his hand to me.
I didn't hesitate to take it. In fact, I pumped that arm for all it was worth. Still grinning, he grabbed me into a big bear hug. "You did all right, Paris. You did all right."
Dazed, I just stood there engulfed now by both Chakotay and Harry. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Dalby and the others being led away.
As we broke apart, a short man with yellow furry hair and spots on his skin approached Chakotay. It took a minute until I realized he was the Talaxian, Neelix.
Neelix spoke to Chakotay, "Uh, Captain, sir. I heard you might have need of my services?"
The two men paired off out of hearing distance.
Tres joined Harry and me. Smiling, she reminded me of the stone. "I will come when you call."
I guess she thought I would need her again. Maybe she was right. For the moment, I felt fucking great. I'd told the truth and been believed.
Later on, the let down kicked in, the memories replayed themselves in my mind. Yeah. Fucking great, all right.
I wish I could say that we partied into the night, but we didn't. Chakotay and Neelix joined Harry and me in the apartment. B'Elanna Torres, Henley, as well as a young male Bajoran named Geron and an older guy, maybe my age, named Ayala crowded into our living room.
To my surprise, I wasn't asked to leave while they discussed Harry's mutiny. As I listened to the plans, I wondered if I had a role in them.
Neelix briefed us on possible friendly allies. He started off with a mini-dissertation on the various sects of Kazon. Torres looked about to rip his head off if he didn't come to the point. "Yes, well," he fussed as she loomed over him.
"Sit down, B'Elanna," Chakotay ordered. "Mr. Neelix, are you suggesting any of these Kazon sects?"
"Oh, please call me Neelix. And, er, well, no. I just thought you ought to know why . . . . "
"I appreciate your thoughtfulness, Neelix. But do you have an ally in mind?"
"Oh, yes, yes, I do. But, you see, well, there are problems . . . . "
"What kind of problems?"
"There's an illness, very serious, drives good people to do bad things. The Vidiian phage, it's called. But I'm sure that Voyager's wonderful medical facilities could have a cure, or could discover a cure. Then, well, the Vidiians would be in your debt. You see?"
We did see. If the Vidiians helped us to get back Voyager, then we would help them with a cure for their illness. Chakotay nodded as a murmur swept around the room.
I thought about the bad things good people could do. Breaking my silence, I asked, "Neelix, what 'bad things' do these Vidiians do?"
The little guy looked uncomfortable, flustered even. "Well, they . . . they harvest body parts, skin, whatever they need, from others."
"Why wouldn't they just harvest us?"
"Because a cure would be more valuable to them."
Harry jumped in, "But we don't have a cure."
"I know, but, you see, you have that doctor, what's his name, very talented, I must say."
I couldn't help the sour face that I made at the thought of the holodoctor's talents. I'd seen some of them first hand.
Chakotay must have seen my look, "What is it, Tom?"
A tiny part of my mind noted that he called me Tom, not Paris. "Well, that holodoctor is working for Cavit. I don't know if I'd trust him."
B'Elanna seemed to be thinking aloud. "He's a hologram, right? He's the result of computer programming. Simple. We reprogram him."
If I was startled at how simple she thought that would be, I tried to hide it. Guess I wasn't successful.
"Paris?" Her tone was definitely hostile.
"Sorry, but that doctor is . . . . "
"He's a computer program, Paris, I can reprogram him." She spoke to me as if I was a five-year old. Not wanting to anger someone who'd helped me out, both on the shuttle bay and at the trial, I shrugged and gave her a tight smile. It seemed to mollify her and I relaxed a little.
That little upset behind us, Chakotay turned to the important matters of how to proceed. "We've got one shuttle . . . . "
"Two," Neelix interjected.
"Mine. I would like to join you, provided, of course, that Kes could come with me?"
"Let me get this straight. You want to join us and you'll add your shuttle to our efforts?"
"Yes, yes." The yellow-haired man beamed at us. "We'd like to join you."
"You realize we may not succeed in taking back Voyager?"
"You'll succeed. With the Vidiians on our side, we'll restore Voyager to the kind of ship it would have been if only Captain Janeway had lived. A great leader, a great loss."
No argument there.
Chakotay mulled over the Talaxian's offer, finally nodding his head. "Fine. We could use your help."
Those words seemed to make the smaller man swell with pleasure. "I won't let you down, Captain Chakotay."
Feeling a little left out, I watched Chakotay give the Talaxian a small smile before he turned to Harry. "Kim, what about the shuttle you came here in? Can it overtake Voyager?"
"Tuvok was sure it could." Harry looked to me. "Tom?"
Startled to be called on, I tried to figure out what he was asking. The shuttle. That's right. "Uh, it has a cruising speed of warp 6; can go warp 9 for short periods of time. We've been here, how long?"
"Five days, standard time," Harry calculated. "And it took us eight days, even going through the wormhole, to get here."
"Okay. Voyager was doing what?" I asked.
"Warp 6, sometimes as much as warp 7."
"Were there any planned stop-offs when you left?" Chakotay asked Harry.
"I don't know of any," Harry answered.
"I do." Cavit liked to brag to me of his accomplishments, his conquests of others in the Delta Quadrant. This was his version of pillow talk. Listening to him was a way of trying to ignore what he was doing to the rest of me.
Only Harry and Chakotay had read Tuvok's statements in the PADD; the others didn't really know about Cavit's possession of me. Maybe they wondered during the week they were in the shuttle bay, but I didn't think the Maquis really knew anything. I sure as hell didn't tell them. Chakotay had a look of sympathy on his face. "What is it, Tom?"
"Voyager was going to stop for food supplies and minerals. I wouldn't be surprised if they were there for awhile." Cavit liked finding an unguarded planet and taking all he wanted from it. It made him feel especially ardent to have exerted his power over some helpless planet. He'd remain in orbit until there was nothing left to take. I didn't kid myself that my absence would change his patterns. He'd just find some one else to abuse and brag to about his power. Fucking bastard.
Mercifully, neither Chakotay nor the others asked me how I knew this. "Do you believe we can catch them?"
"No doubt about it," I replied with a smirk. Then, I risked adding, "If I'm piloting."
Henley objected, "Captain, you can't let this arrogant . . . . "
Chakotay held up his hand. "If Paris is the best pilot for the job, it's his."
Torres cocked her head as if evaluating my piloting skills. I just held my breath while Chakotay made up his mind.
"I think he's a good pilot," Harry put in for me.
"Starfleet, how long have you been out of the Academy?" Torres demanded sarcastically.
"Torres, that's enough," Chakotay told her.
At the same time, Harry answered, "Seven months."
Torres snorted in contempt. "Your hot-shot pilot got captured by the Federation on his first mission for the Maquis. Chakotay's the best pilot in this room."
"Thank you, B'Elanna," Chakotay acknowledged. He didn't try to correct her. "But I'm going to have to direct this mission. Paris will pilot the shuttle. He got it here, he can take it back."
I tried not to smirk or smile or give away any sign of the pleasure I felt at those words. But inside I was thinking: Holy shit!
After some discussions around the room about recruiting the Vidiians and who among the Maquis should be on the shuttles, we finally adjourned. Torres and Chakotay were the last to leave. At the doorway, I called to Torres. "B'Elanna?"
She whirled as if she was expecting trouble.
"I just wanted to thank you for all you did." I think I began to blush. I could feel my face turning hot all the way up to the tips of my ears.
Her harsh expression softened. She even smiled at me. "It's all right. I'm sorry about what those animals did. They disgraced all Maquis."
"Thanks." After ducking my head, I finally looked up to find bemused eloquence on Chakotay's face. "Sir. I . . . I thank you for taking on my case."
He nodded and I swallowed hard over the lump in my throat. "Yeah. Well. It was important to do." I thought he was going to leave it at that, but at the door he turned back. "Nothing like that should ever have happened to you. I'm sorry it was my men."
Softly, I said, "They weren't alone, sir."
B'Elanna looked from one of us to the other, puzzled.
Chakotay vowed, "We'll get Cavit, too."
I think she figured it out, but I tried to ignore that. I spoke to Chakotay. "Well. Thanks."
"Get a good night's sleep, Tom, Harry."
With those words, they left and Harry and I were alone.
Had it been there before? That light in Harry's eyes? Or had I just not noticed, absorbed as I'd been in my own problems? "Harry?"
"Let's go to bed," he suggested. His voice was matter of fact and the glow I thought I'd seen must have been in my imagination.
I couldn't figure out if I was relieved or disappointed. 'Get your mind off sex, Tommy', I told myself. 'Swear it off for life. Never again.' All those words went through my head. And this was Harry Kim. How could I be having such thoughts about him? I shook my head as I headed into the bedroom. But that glow I'd seen in his eyes? It stuck with me as I got ready for bed.
The lights were out, the room was silent, but I knew Harry was no more asleep than I was. It'd been a long, draining day and all kinds of thoughts swirled around in my brain. The encounter with Dalby ran over and over as I tried to answer his questions using better words than I had in the courtroom. Somehow, no matter how much I replayed the scene, I didn't get it right. And just as I thought I might have it, other thoughts about going back to Voyager intruded.
When the trial was on, I could avoid thinking about Voyager and Cavit and Stralley and all the terrible things that had happened there. But now the trial was over. And I couldn't shut out the memories.
"Tom?" Harry called softly.
"Yeah?" I turned over to face him. Although it was dark, I could dimly see Harry's head.
I sighed. "I don't know."
He asked, "Is it about the trial?"
"What about it?"
Maybe it was the fact that it was so dark that let me talk freely. For the first time in a very long time, I didn't censor what I said. "I wanted to kill Dalby and all of them, I really did. But . . . the sentence, you know? They're going to have their personalities wiped out and I guess that's maybe worse than death somehow. And I'm glad."
As I spoke, my voice choked up. It seemed so stupid to be crying and angry all at the same time. I felt Harry's fingers on my shoulder. That warm touch unleashed a surge of sadness. I couldn't help the tears that fell. For some reason, Harry moved closer to hold me in his arms and I let him.
Swept up in the turmoil that twisted my guts inside out, I managed to understand that Harry was murmuring comforting words. His hands stroked my back and shoulders in comforting patterns. When I had cried myself out, he still held me close, still whispered to me. And I fell into a troubled sleep, my face turned against his shoulder, his arm around my waist.
No surprise. In the morning, I was embarrassed as hell. As I went around the apartment, getting dressed, making up the bed, eating breakfast, I couldn't make eye contact with Harry. Over breakfast, he broke the ice. "Tom. It's all right."
"You're too tough, huh?"
He made me laugh. "Yeah, I'm too tough."
"Good. Glad that's settled."
"What are we doing today?" I asked.
"I'm good at that."
This time he laughed. "I noticed. Eight days in a shuttle, that's just what I noticed. Tom Paris, patient pilot."
I threw a piece of toast at him which he ducked effectively. "Can't we do something?"
"Actually, we can. How many can fit in the shuttle back to Voyager?"
I hadn't thought about that. "You mean, besides you and me?" He nodded. "Two? Three at the most. It's going to be a tight fit."
"Then we need to make sure we have enough supplies on board, enough power for the replicators, that the warp core is properly aligned, all systems are functioning and . . . . "
I held up a hand to indicate that I understood. "You're right. We've got things to do."
"What do you know about Torres?"
"She was Chakotay's chief engineer."
"Pretty young for that, isn't she?"
I shrugged. "We're all sort of young, Harry. But I remember hearing that she was good. Why? Is there something wrong with the shuttle?"
"Not that I know of. But some of the Ocampans were talking about how she got the gardens started on the surface. And helped them build transporters."
I was impressed.
We finished breakfast and looked up Chakotay. He approved our plans to prepare the shuttle to carry five people. Only he *suggested* we make it six. He told us he thought eight could fit in Neelix's shuttle, six Maquis, Neelix, and Neelix's girlfriend, Kes.
When I asked who would be going where, he told us that in addition to Harry and myself in the Federation shuttle, the others would be he and B'Elanna and Geron and Ayala. He named Henley and Suder and four other Maquis whose names I didn't recognize for the Talaxian shuttle.
"What about the other Maquis?"
"We'll come back for them, after we get Voyager."
"Then, we'll decide what we want to do. Us, the Starfleet crew, Neelix. I can't predict what the answer will be or if there will be one answer."
Harry shot me a concerned look but I concentrated on the Maquis Captain standing in front of me. "Just like the others, Paris. You'll be able to decide what you want to do as well as Harry there."
I tried not to show my surprise. Instead, I turned my attention to the mission ahead. "With all due respect, sir, we've got fourteen people, if you count Neelix's girlfriend, and this is our strike force to take over Voyager? An old 20th Century expression comes to my mind: 'What's wrong with this picture?'"
Chakotay laughed. "Go to work on the shuttle."
With the awkwardness of the morning out of the way, Harry and I managed to work well together in fixing up the shuttle. By the afternoon we were ready to call in Torres to check out the engines.
Although small in stature, she came across as larger than life just by virtue of her energy and intense concentration on her work. After a few scowls from Torres, I learned to move out of her visual range while she was working. I realized that even though she had helped me, she didn't really like me very much at all.
I stayed out of her way once I figured it out and let Harry run interference. They seemed to have a comfortable, bantering relationship that must have started when they were both held by the Caretaker six months ago. Funny, the pang I got when I thought he might like her maybe more than he liked me.
That night there was another strategy session, this time in Chakotay's apartment. Neelix reported making contact with the Vidiians and that they would meet us en route on the other side of the wormhole. Torres reported checking out both shuttles. Ours passed her inspection, but she had less than tactful words to say about Neelix's.
"It'll take about two days to bring it up to speed."
"Make it ready in one," Chakotay told her. "Tomorrow we finish supplying the shuttles, the next day we take off."
For some reason, Bren had joined the planning group. He kept glancing at me and I tried to ignore him. I figured he wanted his people to have another crack at my head. But that turned out not to be the case. He offered our group as much of the produce from the gardens as we might need.
"Thank you, Bren," Chakotay acknowledged.
"It is thanks to you and your people that there are farms on the surface, that our people are beginning to reclaim our planet. You've given us many gifts."
When the evening's meeting broke up, Bren approached me delicately. "Tom. Your attackers are under going rehabilitation. The process is going well."
"What exactly are you doing to them?"
"Our mental abilities allow us to rearrange the neural connections. The centers for aggression and the memories associated with hatred are severed from the rest of the functioning mind. New connections supporting conscientiousness and caring are developed. It is a slow process. Because the holographic arrangement of the brain means that memories are replicated throughout, each memory of hatred must be traced and isolated."
It may have been more than I wanted to know. "A brain wipe?"
"No. All the rest of the memories and emotions are left intact. It is only the aggression that is isolated."
"How long does it take?"
"As you measure time, months at the least."
"I hope it works." I didn't know what else to say to him.
"If you wished to stay on Ocampa, you would be welcome. We would be able to help you if you desired."
"Thanks, but I'm going." I tried to understand for myself why I was going. Finally, all I could come up with was, "There's unfinished business on Voyager."
He nodded slowly. "Tres hopes that you will keep the stone she gave you."
Gathering his robes about him, he left the meeting.
In the darkness of our room, I felt Harry toss and turn. Gently, I told him, "Hey, that's my job."
"Tossing and turning." As before, I could just make out the outline of his head on its pillow. His face was so close to mine, I could feel the soft exhalations from his mouth. "What's wrong?"
"And that's my line," he joked. As I waited, I could hear him take a deep breath. "Tom, there's something I want to do."
"What?" From the husky timber of his voice I had the idea that he might be coming on to me. I wasn't sure I was ready for it.
"I want to kiss you," was all he said until he added, "May I?"
Dumbfounded, I reached my hand up to his face and let my fingers trace his mouth. My own voice turned husky, as well. With a little tease designed to hide my fear, I asked, "Just a kiss?"
He breathed the words on a quiet exhalation, "Yes."
"Yes," I answered just as breathlessly.
My heart beat wildly as he propped his upper body up on one arm. It had to be a dream, but his head descended and carefully found my lips with his own. Mine parted as if his mouth was all I needed to complete myself.
Those lips of his were like a velvet coating of chocolate on an ice cream cone, so smooth, so sweet, so much like a remembrance of innocence. As we kissed, he lowered his body on top of mine, his hands finding the sides of my head, one stroking through my hair, the other fingering my cheek and eyebrow. All the while, the connection with his mouth remained firm, inviolate, explosive.
Breathing through our noses brought us enough air to remain locked at the lips. Our tongues explored and danced together in a rhythm that mimicked an ancient one. Below our waists, our bodies rubbed together through cloth.
At some point, Harry pulled back and we both took in gulps of air. His hands never left my face, even as he rocked back on his heels above me. "Oh, Tom. Tom."
"Yes-s." I don't know if I meant the word to be a question or an affirmation. "But, Harry, please. . . . Don't expect too much?"
"Don't worry, Tom. We'll take things at your speed, what you want, what you're ready for. Okay?"
Through sudden tears, I agreed. He dropped down for a swift, fierce kiss, then patted my face and told me good night. Stunned, I lay there wondering how I had been so lucky as to find someone like Harry. I knew he wanted me, yet he was willing to wait. The enormity of his gift began to sink in. After I wiped away the tears, I fell into a contented sleep, Harry's arm on my chest.
Loaded with supplies, fresh food, sleeping bags, and crowded with people, our two shuttles flew from the surface of Ocampa. We left behind the good wishes of the Maquis remaining on the planet as well as the Ocampan people whose planet had been changed by their encounter with the Alpha Quadrant refugees.
After checking over all the systems, I followed Chakotay's orders and lifted off. I wondered at myself for departing from a sanctuary as I set a course for what had been a hell. But now I had the memory of Harry's promise to take my needs into account. And I had the taste of his sweet kiss on my mouth.
After three days on the shuttle we all needed breaks from each other. B'Elanna complained that my flying was putting a strain on the engines. Geron whined about Harry taking leftover food that Geron had been saving for later. Ayala shot B'Elanna angry looks when she paced during his sleep time. I hoped we all didn't kill each other before we reached Voyager.
Even Chakotay seemed on the verge of losing it. He was the pilot during my sleep shift. Something about the way I'd set the coordinates bothered him so much he woke me up to check on them. Just to humor the man, I got up and gave a sleepy look at the helm.
"There's nothing wrong with the settings," I snapped. I just wanted to get back to sleep; it'd been in short supply on the crowded shuttle.
"Watch it, mister," Chakotay growled.
I realized my mistake. "Sorry, sir," I muttered, hoping I didn't come across as an insolent jerk.
"Go back to bed, Paris," he ordered.
"Yes, sir." No argument from me.
As I settled next to Harry, his hand crept under the covers of the sleeping bags and squeezed my shoulder. I placed my hand on top of his and sighed.
Remembering our kiss during that last night on Ocampa as well as the words Harry had spoken to me made me both warm all over and worried at the same time. The Harry I was growing used to struck me as different and similar to the very green ensign I'd met on DS-9.
When Harry joined Voyager he was engaged to Libby, a woman back in the Alpha Quadrant. He was a loyal, conscientious, serious young man. At the same time, he was inexperienced, naive, and, in a nice way, sweet.
Cavit's control of Voyager had changed him. He was more mature, more cynical, yet he had also earned Tuvok's trust. He must have worked out for himself that Libby was behind him.
Well, shit. I didn't like the way my thoughts were going. Instead, I concentrated on savoring again the kiss we'd shared. It had felt so good, as if my hurting heart had found a little solace and comfort. Maybe someday, in the wreckage of my spirit, I would feel as if I deserved it.
The next day, during a time when all of us were awake and tip-toeing around each other, Chakotay hailed the other shuttle.
"Neelix, this is Chakotay. I'd like to try a little visitation."
Neelix's surprise was repeated on the faces of all of us as we looked at each other and Chakotay. "That's right. I send you two of my crew for awhile and you send me two of yours. Break up the monotony. Do you have a few volunteers?"
It sounded like a full-scale Klingon battle cry over the comm. I guess they had a few volunteers. Chakotay looked at us and his eyes settled on B'Elanna and Geron.
"No," B'Elanna protested, "I'm needed here."
"I'm sure Neelix's engines would benefit from your expertise," Chakotay smoothed it on.
"Well, in that case."
I liked the way he'd given her a face-saving way out. Geron looked eager to go. Using the shuttle's transporter, the two beamed over. A few minutes later, Suder and Lightfoot, a teenaged Maquis I didn't know, appeared on our shuttle.
"Welcome," Chakotay smiled at them.
Suder shot anxious looks at me out of large, but narrowly set dark eyes. I remembered that he was a Betazoid and realized that my unease in the face of the young Maquis must have been picked up on by him.
Chakotay introduced both men to Harry and me. Lightfoot's eyes narrowed but he shook my offered hand nonetheless. I noticed that as my discomfort diminished, Suder's apparent anxiety went away as well.
With Chakotay off shift, I sat at the helm, happy to have something useful to do. Ayala also went off shift and took up a sleeping bag at the back next to the captain. Harry and Suder sat behind me, Lightfoot next to me on my left, a glum look on his face.
Behind me I heard Harry attempting to make small talk with the twitchy Suder. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Lightfoot trying to think of things to say to me. He made several false starts. When he did finally get something out, I was surprised by what he said.
"Yeah?" I kept my eyes on the helm panel.
"I'm . . . I just to want to say, I'm sorry about what some of the Maquis did to you."
I looked at him, kind of an up and down sort of look. I wasn't sure if he meant it or not, but I saw deep distress on his young face. Some smart-ass comment wanted to express itself out loud to cover up my own dismay. It took all I had not to ask 'where were you'? Instead, I shrugged. "Yeah, well, thanks."
"You're probably wondering why I didn't try to stop them." Actually, I wasn't, he was too damn young to have made a difference. When I didn't answer, his words poured out in an adolescent rush. "I didn't know. Honest. I was way in the back of the shuttle bay. I heard noises, but there were always lots of noises in that room -- what with so many of us."
I didn't know what to make of his confession. His face was much like Chakotay's, bronzed skin, a geometric tatoo, dark eyes, a chiseled nose as if carved from granite. And he looked all of maybe seventeen or eighteen with a gangling build that indicated maybe more growth to come.
Finally, I responded. "'S okay. Hey, you said something to me just now. You know, I don't think most of the Maquis care much about me."
He grinned. "Who said I do?"
At that I laughed. "So, where are you from?"
"Dorvan V. Chakotay and I are second cousins."
"I'm a little surprised he'd let . . ." I wanted to say 'someone as young as you', but ended up with, "a relative join the Maquis."
"I knew Geron. You knew Geron from before?" When I nodded, he elaborated, "Geron was orphaned by the Cardassians. Chakotay took him on to help Gerry out."
"So, Geron got to go on missions. What about you? How do your folks feel about your joining the Maquis?"
"My mothers and I were in a shelter that was bombed by those fuckers. The Cardies. My parents didn't make it."
"I'm sorry." His parents were two women.
"I've gotten over it," he maintained despite the moisture that collected in his eyes.
I turned back to my helm giving him time and space. Eventually, I asked, "How long ago?"
"Just before the mission that got us blown out here to the Delta Quadrant."
"You and Geron must be pretty good if Chakotay decided to take you with us."
"That or he thinks we're as crazy as he is." The grin returned with the same dimples I'd noticed on the captain.
I laughed with him. I liked the boy's sense of humor. "You think we'll be able to take over Voyager?"
I had to like his youthful optimism, too. Who was I to tell him otherwise?
"Of course," I echoed.
Harry must have been listening. He leaned forward and told us, "Hey. We're the good guys."
Lightfoot looked back at Suder. "Lon?"
I don't think Suder'd been following the conversation. He looked up in surprise. "Whatever," he announced ambiguously.
Harry changed the topic, "How's it looking, Tom?"
"By the way," Lightfoot said apropos of nothing, "you can call me Danny."
When I looked surprised, after all, his name didn't seem traditional, he clarified matters. "Those old folks, like my cousin back there, follow the naming traditions of our people. Some of us younger people are more modern. Danny Lightfoot is a more easily spoken variation of my tribal name."
I wonder how Chakotay would react if he knew his cousin considered him one of the 'old folks'. Hiding a grin, I told him, "I'm Tom."
With the amenities out of the way, we all lapsed into silence. It wasn't uncomfortable, just an amiable kind of quiet that let the two in the back sleep undisturbed.
The crew rotations proved to work out although I noticed that Henley and I were never on the same ship together. Probably a good thing. It showed that Chakotay knew his people.
Our two ships managed to reach the beginning of the wormhole with no one dead or dying. We kept in constant contact so that we made similar approaches to the wormhole. Since Neelix had never gone through a wormhole before and I had gone through this one, I led with the Federation shuttle and Neelix followed.
On the other side of the wormhole we rendezvoused with the lead ship of the Vidiian force. Actually, it was the only ship of the Vidiian force. The Vidiians felt they could only spare one ship for this chancy operation.
I'd say none of us were prepared for the appearance of the Vidiians. Neelix hadn't exaggerated when he'd said they had a disease.
Peeling skin, open sores, multicolored weeping appendages, all made them look like something out of a horror show from my favorite century past. I tried not to wince, but it was hard to keep a professional face in front of all that sickness. The head Vidiian, Deleth, and Chakotay reviewed the deal Neelix had outlined. Chakotay was clear that we didn't have a cure but we had the potential for one if we could gain control of Voyager.
Deleth called to another Vidiian just out of our view. She and Deleth turned their backs to us and conferred briefly. When they turned around, the woman was introduced as Dr. Danara Pel, a hematologist. She didn't show as many signs of the disease they were calling phage as did her captain. "We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with other medical colleagues on the ship you are pursuing. Although we have advanced medical technology, a cure for this disease has eluded us thus far."
They talked some more. Both Chakotay and Pel were uncertain if the phage could be contracted by the humans and other races on our shuttles. In the face of that risky prospect Chakotay and Deleth decided only our people should board Voyager.
The Vidiians would provide diversions and weapons power. After we took over Voyager, Pel and a Vidiian surgeon named Sulan would be beamed to sickbay behind a forcefield to work with the holodoctor, himself immune to illnesses. From where I sat, it sounded like a plan.
The only thing left to do was to catch up to Voyager. Since I knew the name of the star system where Cavit planned to stop, I talked to Deleth about star charts and coordinates. They knew the system well and let my helm computer talk to their astrometrics computer. Chakotay told me to set a course behind the starship.
B'Elanna had spent her time in the shuttles tweaking both of their warp drives. Her configurations allowed us to travel at warp 8, placing our destination only two travel days away.
I hoped we'd find Voyager orbiting the fourth planet in the Trovan system, completely unwary, with Cavit down on the surface. Wishful thinking, Paris, I warned myself. Cavit would never allow the shields to be down completely. And he might have been so enraged by my escape and Harry's defection that he took it out on Tuvok and others he suspected to be sympathetic to Janeway's legacy. The ship could be in lockdown mode with him sitting in the captain's chair getting what he desired from his position in orbit.
With any luck I might be able to communicate with Tuvok over the light link he maintained with me. Although the link hadn't dissipated, I really hadn't felt anything through it since I'd left Voyager. I hoped Tuvok was all right.
Harry and I talked about it when we took a shift break. Apparently, Tuvok had given Harry some instructions. "Look, Tom, Tuvok told me you were supposed to use it to let him know that we're nearby. He wanted to organize the resistance from the inside to be ready for our arrival."
It figured. And I could understand why Tuvok hadn't told me. Back when I was on Voyager, I wasn't exactly the most reliable person to confide such plans in. But now I had to figure out how to activate a link I didn't know much about. "Did Tuvok tell you how I was supposed to do this?"
"He said that you'd know."
Great. "Okay, I'll try." Ignoring the strange looks from the crew who were awake, I closed my eyes and concentrated on the link. I could feel it, this warm pathway in my mind, but communicating on that pathway didn't quite happen. After repeated tries, I gave up and opened my eyes. Giving Harry a helpless look, I shrugged and said, "I don't know. Nothing's happening."
"Maybe you're trying too hard."
"Harry, I have no idea what I'm doing."
"What about Kes? She's an Ocampan."
"Ocampans aren't Vulcans."
"They don't have to be. But she can link with you, right? And maybe that's all you'll need to link with Tuvok."
I shook my head. I didn't see how it would work. And it meant still another person rooting around in my head. I didn't like it. My expression must have clued Harry in that I wasn't going to follow-up on his idea. But he said, "Tom, maybe there's something wrong on Voyager. If there is, we could be flying into a trap."
Unspoken was the threat of capture, annihilation, and Cavit's revenge on me. "Okay," I agreed. Anything to avoid being taken by Cavit. Harry had a frown on his face. "I said, okay."
"I'm sorry, Tom."
I tried to smile. It was on the feeble side, but he let go of his frown. "You're right. We need to reach Tuvok. And I don't think hailing Voyager is the way to go."
Chakotay was at the helm when we told him of our plan. Although Neelix sounded and looked reluctant to let Kes beam over, when Chakotay explained why, he relented.
The pixie-ish Kes arrived with a serious look on her face. We found ourselves as private a spot as we could and sat together on the floor. Before we began, I warned her, "There's stuff in my head that could upset you."
Very seriously, she suggested, "Then we'll just have to avoid it."
"What do I do?"
"Focus on your link with Tuvok. I will focus on linking with you. Close your eyes and breathe evenly."
As before, there was no contact along the link with Tuvok. Then, I felt Kes as a feather-light touch in my mind. She stretched out her touch to contact my link with Tuvok. I received an image of the Vulcan in a deep meditative state, a healing trance engaged in to conserve energy while the body healed. Kes broke away gently and I pulled my focus away from the link.
Harry asked me, "What is it, Tom?"
"Tuvok's in a healing trance. He must have been hurt."
I looked to Kes for anything she might have picked up. "He has had to do this each time he has been hurt."
Damn! Tuvok was hurt only because he'd helped me. Damn!
"Tom?" Kes asked.
She'd had to call my name more than once to bring me away from the self-loathing I felt as bile surged sourly up my throat. Trying to sound unfazed, I politely told her, "Thank you, Kes. That answers some questions."
"I'm not very experienced in the ways of my people. I wish I could offer to help him to heal. But I don't believe I have the skill."
Defeated, I let my shoulders slump as I fell back slowly to let the wall of the shuttle hold me up. Without Tuvok working from the inside, I didn't how our *fleet* could retake Voyager. Time for Plan B.
Just outside of sensor range of Voyager, I sat at the helm, my knuckles white at the actions I was about to take. I tried not to think about what Harry would believe of me. And Chakotay who'd trusted me, B'Elanna who'd testified for me, Lightfoot who'd become my friend. Kes, who'd tried to help me contact Tuvok.
I beamed all five of them from my shuttle over to Neelix's shuttle. Then I locked out the controls to the transporters to respond only to my commands. Over the comm, Chakotay shouted at me.
"Paris! What the fuck do you think you're doing?" After a period of silence from me, he shouted some more. "Paris! Beam me back immediately. That's an order!"
"I'm sorry, Chakotay. Make the most of this diversion. Ocampa's got a future for you."
Harry must have been shoved over to the comm. He sounded upset. "Tom. Please, whatever it is you think you're doing, don't. Let Captain Chakotay go back to the shuttle. Tom, please."
"Then let me come back. Don't do it, Tom."
"You don't know what I'm doing!"
"Yes, I do. You're going back to Cavit! Don't let him have you, please, please Tom."
"Harry." I didn't know what to say to him. "Live a good life."
I cut the communications to the shuttle, raised the shields, and set myself on an intercept course to Voyager. I didn't plan to blow up the starship. Just disable it. Did I think my plan would work? Not a chance in hell. But it would give Chakotay and the others the opportunity to return undetected to Ocampa. They'd have a chance to live and not be enslaved by Cavit. As for me and the shuttle I piloted . . . . Well, I always thought I'd rather be dead than recaptured.
I thought I had it all planned. The course was locked in to follow the signature of the starboard phaser banks. I knew crashing the shuttle into that area of Voyager would disable half of the ship's phaser power.
The fact that the crash would kill me was incidental. Right? Then why was my heart pounding so hard that my skin felt like thin tissue barely able to hold it inside my body? Why did my fingers turn Tres' stone compulsively, over and over, until the stone became warm in my hand?
As my thoughts turned once again to those I was leaving, I regretted hurting Harry. But B'Elanna seemed to have become his friend, maybe she would help him through my loss. B'Elanna's Klingon heritage resonated within me. The Klingon code of honor could let me believe that my death would have meaning. In dying, I would save the Maquis and the Vidiians. Maybe my crash would even be lucky enough to trigger an uprising on Voyager. Yeah, well. Dream on, Tommy, dream on.
Snapping out of my reverie, I reviewed the set-up to which I'd committed myself. It was important that I be able to stay on the shuttle to the end. Just in case the auto-pilot disengaged, just in case Voyager had some tricks I didn't anticipate. I knew I was too far out for Voyager's sensors to get a transporter lock on me. I wasn't wearing a Federation comm badge. Neither the Talaxian nor the Vidiian vessels had transporters. The shields were up on my shuttle. From all of this, I concluded that I would ride with the shuttle all the way to Voyager. No one could transport me off of the shuttle even when I came within transporter range.
Voyager loomed larger and larger in my view screen. Shit. She was firing on me! The shuttle bucked and my head nearly collided with the helm console. Straightening up, I checked the shields. They were holding. If I had calculated the shield strength correctly, they should last until the Cochrane hit Voyager no matter how much firepower the starship threw at it.
Of course, I wasn't planning for photon torpedoes. By the time they figured out what I was doing, the shuttle would be too close to blow it up with the heavy artillery. Debris from the shuttle would cause more widespread damage to the larger ship than my calculated blow. At least that's what I counted on them thinking.
Voyager fired again and once more the shuttle rocked as if towering ocean waves were controlling its motion. As I analyzed the pattern of weapons fire, it appeared designed to deflect the shuttle from its course. And weaken the shields. I couldn't risk taking the auto-pilot offline to fly the shuttle manually away from Voyager's fire power; if I did, the shuttle could lose the target. And this time there was no convenient wormhole to escape through.
More weapons fire came from Voyager. What the hell? The shuttle's shields had gone down. How could they? What in the hell was Voyager doing? Were they risking photon torpedoes after all? I gripped Tres' stone tightly in my hand, preparing for the next blast that would obliterate the shuttle. And me.
How the fuck could I be feeling the familiar tingling of a transporter? This couldn't be happening.
Rematerializing in Cavit's quarters, I had just enough time to understand my location before a hypospray against my neck sent me tumbling to the floor. Tres' stone fell from my limp fingers to land beside me.
The drug was as quick acting as a phaser blast. I was conscious, but unable to move of my own volition. Stralley stood over me, armed with both a phaser and a huge leering grin on his face. "Cavit is going to be so pleased."
My mind was as sluggish as my limbs. All right. I'd set the course on the shuttle. My program should keep the shuttle on target. Unless a photon torpedo took it out.
Around and around these thoughts seemed to spin, in order, out of order, fuzzy one moment, clearer the next. And there wasn't a damned thing I could do about any of it.
Stralley commed Cavit. "Sir. Your property has returned."
"Good work," I heard Cavit say and I shuddered inside at hearing his voice. "I'll be busy on the bridge. Seems there's two shuttles heading our way. And a small starship. This shouldn't take long. Get him ready for me."
"And Stralley? When I'm done, there'll be a reward for you."
Neither Stralley nor I had any doubt what that reward was going to be.
"Thank you, sir," Stralley said, the happiness unmistakable in his voice.
Unable to do anything about Cavit's plans for me, I turned my attention to my own predicament. In much the way people couldn't help but look at impending disaster, I watched Stralley's preparations. He put the phaser down on the table, well out of my reach. I tried to roll toward the table, but couldn't move more than an eyelid.
I felt his hands on me, stripping off my clothes. In my head, I protested. My mind told my body to get away but I couldn't do a thing to stop him. I knew when my shirt was gone since cooler air washed across my unresponsive arms and chest. Similarly, I knew when my pants were being pulled off my legs. Internally, I shivered.
The noble death fantasies of just a few minutes before faded in the face of the terrible fear I felt. It was happening all over again and not only couldn't I stop it, but I had flown myself right into it.
Once Stralley had me naked, his hands slid under me. He lifted me up and dropped me on the bed. I landed none too gently and was helpless to right myself. He rolled me over onto my stomach and patted the tattoo Cavit had put on my rear.
His touch sickened me. If I could have, I would have vomited all over the bed. His touch was like the plucking of wings from a trapped butterfly.
"Bet you never thought about that, did you, Paris?"
Huh? A kind of gurgle came out of my throat. It felt sour and raw.
"That's right," Stralley sounded immensely satisfied with himself. "Maybe you just thought this was a run of the mill tattoo. Right?"
He smacked the tattoo, hard this time. Although I knew it was still there, I never paid it much attention. It wasn't as if I could easily see it. The tattoo wasn't like the nipple rings. I had just sort of forgotten about it. I realized that I missed something of what Stralley was saying.
". . . subspace transponder in it. You didn't know that, did you?" Stralley chuckled. "That signal came in loud and clear, well before your shuttle showed up on sensors. Once we identified your signal, it didn't take Captain Cavit long to use the transponder to deliver a command to the shuttle computer. Cavit told the computer to lower the shuttle's shields." Stralley laughed. "Right through your backside!"
It took him a moment or two to stop laughing. When he did, Stralley declared, "You're one crazy fuck, Paris, you know that?"
Yeah, one stupid, out of his mind idiot. Couldn't agree more. Some going out in a blaze of glory.
Before I could wallow in any more self-pity, the ship rocked violently, hard enough to throw me off the bed and knock Stralley off his feet. Feeling the hard floor beneath me, knowing Stralley would be after me again, I hardly dared to hope that my shuttle had hit its intended target. If it did, maybe Chakotay and Harry and the others would be safe.
I wanted to see what my captor was doing, but my head was turned away from Stralley. That damned drug!
I concentrated fiercely on making my head move. All it had to do was turn to the other side. Turn, I told myself. Turn. Fuck it all! Turn!
Mashing my nose into the carpet, I managed to make my head move enough so that I could see Stralley. Yes. The man was sprawled on the floor near an upended table leg, his body awkwardly angled as blood trickled from his forehead.
The ship rocked a few more times in what felt like phaser hits. Voyager was under attack.
What had Cavit said? It was hard to remember. But I thought I'd heard something about two shuttles and a small starship. Had the Vidiians and the Maquis come ahead anyway? Didn't they know any better? Damn. They should be halfway back to the wormhole by now.
Stralley wasn't moving. I watched his chest to see if he was breathing. I couldn't tell. I saw the phaser on the floor between us and I knew I had to reach it. If Stralley was alive, then that phaser was essential. I could use it to stun Stralley as well as Cavit -- when he showed up.
Right. I could protect myself with one phaser. Get real, Tommy, I told myself. It'd be better to use it on me instead.
'Do not'. I heard the words in my head. Tuvok? Even though it was along my link with Tuvok, it didn't seem like him. The words continued as if in response to my thoughts. 'Tuvok is being healed by the holodoctor. This is Vorik.'
Vorik? Who the hell was Vorik?
'I am an ensign in engineering. The resistance has begun. I am on my way to your location.'
Although the hypospray was beginning to wear off a little, I was still kind of slow in figuring things out. But I realized that Tuvok must have been able to organize a resistance, some way, some how.
A groan from Stralley startled me. The man was beginning to move. His eyes were open and had fixed on the phaser.
Damn! I had to reach that phaser.
This time I poured all my concentration into moving my arm. Slowly, too damn slowly, it crabbed over toward the phaser.
Stralley rolled over and started toward it as well.
Sweat popped out on my brow, a droplet rolled into my eye. I blinked the moisture away and kept the arm moving. There. Fingers touched the barrel. Move. Closer. The words became a chant in my mind. Move. Closer.
None too securely, I closed my fist around the phaser. But Stralley loomed over my arm on his hands and knees. He balanced on one hand while his other hand reached toward me. Every calorie in my body went into energy to move my hand holding the phaser back away from him.
With my fingers, I managed to turn the phaser so I could fire it. If Stralley moved . . . .
Stralley's arm swept toward me as if he thought he could hit my hand and thereby gain control of the phaser. I had to aim the phaser before I could fire. Aim, Paris, aim.
Now. Fire. The mental command seemed to take forever as Stralley's hand collided with my arm. Fire!
He fell toward me, his weight pressing me down. But I must have succeeded in hitting him because he didn't move.
Breathing became difficult as his weight prevented my chest from rising and falling and I wondered if my phasering him meant I'd sealed my fate. If his body suffocated me, I'd be just as dead as if he'd killed me with the contested phaser.
A young-looking Vulcan stood above me. He pulled Stralley off of my chest while my eyes followed that heavy body. When I saw where my phaser shot had hit him, I smiled. I hadn't aimed for his crotch, but Stralley was the one who'd thrown off my aim.
There is justice in the multiverse, I thought as I admired the phaser-burned crotch. At some point I knew a regenerator would restore the fried tissues, but the sight of where that phaser blast hit was just too good not to savor for a bit.
Noticing where my eyes had rested, the Vulcan deadpanned. "I am certain that is a satisfactory outcome." He paused, then told me, "I am Vorik."
Not enough of my functioning had returned to respond to him. As he waited patiently for me to move or speak, I saw realization dawn. He left for a few moments and came back with a hypospray. With a lot of concentration on my part, I was able to motion him to bring the hypospray down to my face. I used my eyes to indicate the setting needed to neutralize the drug.
After Vorik pressed the hypospray against my neck, it took a few minutes before I regained use of my muscles. "Thanks," was the first thing I said. "What's happening?"
"Perhaps you wish to dress yourself?"
Right. As I put my clothes back on and placed Tres' stone in my pocket, Vorik filled me in. There were resistance fighters on every deck and in every section. Joe Carey had taken over engineering, the Delaney sisters had commandeered astrometrics, MacKenzie security. Tuvok would be on his feet shortly. The central computer was still controlled by Cavit, which gave him a lot of offensive and defensive power.
To my relief, my shuttle had taken out the starboard phasers. Apparently, the Vidiians and the Maquis had attacked. The only physical location still secure for Cavit was on the bridge. I wanted to charge up there, but Vorik urged me to wait.
"Captain Chakotay and his people will take the bridge. As soon as we lower Voyager's shields, they will be beaming directly onto the bridge."
"Cavit will blow them away before they finish materializing! We've got to get up there and make sure that doesn't happen! And as long as Cavit has computer control, those shields won't be coming down!"
Vulcan calm schooled his features. "Mr. Paris, we are working on the shields and the computer. Barclay and Carey are rerouting shield control to engineering. As soon as that is accomplished, the Maquis will be landing."
"Cavit is setting up a trap. I know him. He's ruthless!"
"Your fears are understandable."
"Don't give me that crap!"
"What would you suggest?" Vorik had Vulcan eyebrow lifting developed to a fine art.
"We go up to the bridge. . . ."
Vorik interrupted me. "The turbolift to the bridge is under Cavit's command."
"Then we'll use the Jeffries tubes. Once the shields are down, I know I can distract Cavit." Those last words were said with considerable bitterness. But I had no doubt that my presence would refocus all of his attention onto me.
Vorik looked me over carefully. "Very well."
Over his comm badge, Vorik received word that the shields were down. We were crouched in a Jeffries tube behind a panel to the bridge. Time to make an appearance.
Cavit stood behind his command chair, his hands on the railing which separated one level of the bridge from another. One hand held a phaser. As I glanced around, I saw more than twenty people deployed around the bridge, all holding phasers or phaser rifles. The crew person closest to us was taken down by a Vulcan neck pinch.
Cavit heard the faint sounds of Vorik lowering the woman's body to the floor and whirled around to face us, phaser fixed to fire. When he saw it was me, Cavit held up his free hand to stop his crew from firing.
"Don't fire. He's mine."
We were only five meters apart. The intervening weeks had changed Cavit. His face was more deeply lined and his dark eyes glittered with madness. Motionless, I stood with my arms held out to my sides. "So that bitch, Janeway's little pet is back."
"That's right," I said softly. I'd heard a lot of rants by him against Janeway. 'Bitch' was one of his nicer words for her. I couldn't think about Janeway now. Even though I was so scared my mouth had dried up to a waterless desert, I added, "I'm all yours."
His eyes narrowed and I tried not to give away how afraid I was of this man, but I knew my body had begun to tremble. I hoped Chakotay wouldn't be too long in landing on this bridge.
"Walk slowly over here, Thomas."
The way he said my name made me shudder. As I hesitated, he motioned menacingly with the phaser. "Now!"
"Yes, sir," I answered. The words tumbled out before I could stop them. Eerily, he still had control over me.
I felt Vorik place a hand on my arm, but I shrugged him off and stepped toward Cavit, my eyes never leaving his.
When I was just outside of arms length of him, he told me to stop. "Strip."
Swallowing hard, I felt the tears start to leak from my eyes. I didn't want to do this, not in front of all of these people on the bridge. His eyes were compelling me to obey him, just as I had for six months.
I knew the punishment for defying him would be painful and long. After all, I had escaped from him and crashed a shuttle into his ship. All of this would add up to a punishment that would be humiliating and beyond anything he had meted out before.
Remembering the beatings and whippings he'd given me in the past, I could only imagine the horror that awaited me. And the rapes that would follow. Even knowing all of this, even feeling terrified of him, I also felt compelled to follow his instructions. Obeying him was simply too ingrained in my experiences to fight off his control successfully.
"Don't make me wait, Thomas," he reminded me, his voice as hard as the casing on a photon torpedo.
My hands shook as I began to work on my shirt. I could feel Tres' stone against my thigh, still in my pants' pocket, a warm reminder that I had another choice. But did I? I slowly placed one hand in my pocket to close over the stone.
For a moment I blinked my eyes over the wet tears. I remembered Tres' words of comfort when I was on Ocampa. She had told me that I was stronger than I thought. I recalled Harry holding and kissing me. I remembered standing up to Dalby. But could I stand up to Cavit?
A huge shudder went through me. I had to stop this now. I couldn't submit to him any longer. But how could I stop myself? Tres' advice came back to me. I imagined Cavit bound to a chair, unable to hurt me. "No," I said, my voice shaky and thin. Defying him balanced with obeying him, as if these actions were on a seesaw that could tip either way.
The fury on his face made me flinch. "Do as I say!"
"No," I repeated. I didn't trust myself to try out a variation on that one word. It might come out as 'yes'. I repeated to myself, 'I'm stronger than I think.'
"Don't fight me, boy," Cavit warned. Seeing my resistance, he launched himself at me and began to pummel my head and stomach leaving me out of breath and in pain. I fell onto my knees and groaned from the sharp jolt that went up and down my legs.
I pulled my hand from my pocket, gripping the stone tightly. I realized that I could just hold on to it as some inert, meaningless rock and submit to Cavit's control, or I could put the stone to use. 'I'm stronger than I think.' I slammed my fist, stone and all, against his head. My knuckles hurt so much from that action that I dropped the stone, but more importantly, Cavit went down.
As I tried to get up, he tackled me, and I flopped headlong onto the bridge floor. Next thing I knew, his knee was in my back and his hands were tearing at my pants. I gathered my strength and bucked him off me. I threw my body at him, my head colliding with his chest. As he tumbled backwards down the steps to the next level, I hurled myself after him.
I sat on his chest and began hitting his face with both hands, even if one hand was already sore. He must have been stunned from falling because he didn't fight back very hard. Although I was crying and shouting, "No! No!" I kept on hitting him until he lay totally still. Then I hit him some more.
Somehow I'd missed the beam in. But a hand clamped on my arm and another wound around my chest. I was pulled away from Cavit. Through my tears, I found myself in Harry's arms, both of us kneeling on the floor.
"It's over," he told me, "It's all over."
He pulled my head to his shoulder and I cried against him.
Part 10: Epilogue
Sitting in the mess hall eating dinner with Harry, I realized that exactly six months had passed since he and Tuvok had rescued me from Cavit's quarters. These six months sure as hell had been far better than the previous ones. Some things were similar, but almost everything else was different.
For the similarities: I was still on Voyager and I still shared quarters. But this time my roommate was Harry Kim, not Captain Cavit. And I was with him willingly. I even got to sleep in the bed. Yes, there's a smirk on my face as I think that.
The differences were vast. It's hard to know where to begin. Tuvok and Chakotay became co-captains of Voyager. Kes and Neelix joined the crew. With B'Elanna as good as her word, the holodoc was reprogrammed. Together with the Vidiian doctor, Danara Pel, the holodoc and she created a cure for the phage.
I know they tried a number of strategies, one of which turned out to be successful. Using cell samples that were in his lab from all the crew of Voyager, the holodoc and Pel tested the phage virus against those cells. For some reason, B'Elanna Torres' Klingon DNA provided the key to a cure. From the delight the Vidiians expressed over her contribution, it seemed that the Delta Quadrant was due for a lot of Vidiian babies named B'Elanna in their near future.
The Vidiians were so grateful to Voyager, they provided us with escorts for the past half year. Not only that, they managed to widen the wormhole so Voyager could fit through and go to and from Ocampa.
To back up for a bit, on the return to Ocampa, Tuvok and Chakotay spent a lot of time in Tuvok's quarters. So far neither had taken over Cavit's old quarters as he languished in the relocated brig with Stralley, the pig (I learned his name was Weldon), and the others who'd held their last stand on the bridge. Since Voyager's brigs were a bit small, the Captain's dining room was turned into a temporary brig.
Neelix kept telling us the dining room would make a great mess hall for all of the crew. The verdict from the captains was out on that one for awhile but eventually Neelix prevailed. However, the busy Talaxian, with the captains' permission, took over the comm each morning and held a community-wide meeting for all who wished to tune in or participate. Near the end of the journey to Ocampa, our captains appeared on the show.
I think I can say all of us were stunned to learn that they had spent their time together to bond. Really bond, as in Vulcan bond. At any rate, they explained their bonding to the crew with a lot of embarrassed looks on both their faces. All right, Tuvok hid it pretty well, Chakotay . . . . Hell, I almost felt sorry for him.
Tuvok articulated his view that he was not cheating on his wife back on Vulcan, rather he sensed her consent once he identified the logic of the situation. For the co-captaincy to work, both he and Chakotay had to be in tune and in touch with each other. Bonding was the logical means to achieve that end.
Or so Tuvok said. I thought it was a great excuse for the Vulcan to have someone to sleep with. Later, after I learned what happened to him while I was gone, I had to revise my initial, flip opinion.
Harry and I watched the transmission from our room as we got ready to go to work, he to the operations station and me to the shuttle bay to do shuttle repairs. Yeah, the shuttle bay threw me at first. It didn't hold very good memories for me. But, in light of the stunt I'd pulled with the Cochrane, it was no wonder no one let me fly Voyager.
Danny Lightfoot worked in the shuttle bay on the same shift. His youthful enthusiasm helped. And once I started to turn my effort and attention to the shuttles, I forgot about the past. Mostly.
At any rate, Harry wandered back from the bathroom with a huge grin on his face. "Did you see that?"
"Yeah," I agreed.
"Did they get married, or what?"
"Beats the hell out of me."
"But they're bonded."
"And if what I felt from just a light link with Tuvok is any indication, then it's gotta be something that's pretty strong."
"Yeah, Tom, but are they having sex?"
"Harry, how should I know?" Of course they were.
"Well, don't you still have that light link?"
I flushed. "I don't spy, Harry." His look told me that maybe I should spy a little. "No. That's their business. It's private."
"What's that mean?"
"You know and you're not telling me," he pouted.
Gods, he looked so adorable when he did that, brown eyes all dark and deep, hair in his face, lower lip full and slightly puffed out. "Harry, I don't know anything. If they're doing it, Tuvok's not broadcasting it over any link with me."
After Neelix gave a cooking demonstration of Delta Quadrant foods, the trio returned and we watched avidly.
"Well, captains, I'm sure all of Voyager wants to know if you're married?"
Harry grinned at me with a look that said 'see'.
Chakotay's dimples flashed. "You could say that. But since we're the captains, we haven't had any kind of official ceremony."
"I believe we will have a ceremony when we reach Ocampa," Tuvok announced, surprising us all, including Chakotay if the look on his face was anything to go by.
Chakotay smiled at Neelix. "There's your answer."
After my shift, I visited the holodoc and had him remove Cavit's tattoo from my ass. When Harry and I had sex, I didn't want Harry to see it.
Once we returned to Ocampa, in a large, open area below the surface, Chakotay and Tuvok explained to the Starfleet and Maquis crew that they could stay or leave. The Ocampans had agreed to take in all who wished to remain there. Those Maquis who wished to join Voyager were welcomed. The co-captains made it clear that they wanted as many as possible to join them. Voyager was a large ship and needed a lot of personnel to keep her going.
They described our mission as seeking a return to the Alpha Quadrant. Even though it might take longer than a lifetime, they believed this was not only what Janeway would have wanted, but that it was the right thing to do. We would head for home. B'Elanna asked what would happen to the Maquis in the Alpha Quadrant. She reminded everyone that Voyager was sent to capture the Maquis.
Looking thoughtful, Tuvok stated that he would do everything in his power to see that all Maquis crew who performed well on the trip home would be given a full pardon once we reached the Alpha Quadrant. Someone else pointed out that we were 75 years from there so what was the point. There might not be any Maquis or any Federation either for that matter.
Chakotay answered that anything could happen to allow us to get home sooner. No matter what, records would be left in Voyager's logs with performance ratings of all the crew as well as details of the promise of a full pardon. I wondered if that would apply to me as well or if some Admiral would insist I go back to prison. I bet they'd charge me with escape and just pile on the years. Looking at me, Chakotay said, "This promise extends to everyone who elects to stay on board."
Tuvok indicated that we would consider ourselves a Starfleet crew and would abide by Starfleet regulations. The uniforms that had been abandoned under Cavit would return only if we had the replicator reserves to provide them. Until then, we would wear civilian clothes of a 'professional' nature that the Ocampans had agreed to supply.
Chakotay smiled at his bond mate and then looked over the assembled group. In a serious tone, he told all of us that no ranks, no jobs, no positions, were guaranteed. Merit would determine who did what and who would have rank. But the sorting out wouldn't happen overnight, it would go section by section. Section heads would be chosen first so that they had input on the crew assigned to their sections. Tuvok and Chakotay would agree on each suggested appointment.
I couldn't help but wonder what they would do with me in terms of job assignments. On the trip back to Ocampa I'd been asked to work on shuttle repairs. Not once was I asked to fly the ship.
Standing next to me, Harry must have noticed my scowl. He gave me a nudge and questioned me with his eyes. I whispered that maybe I should stay on Ocampa, but he sent me a dark look and said he was going with Voyager and I should, too. I asked him why and he blushed.
Looking into his shining eyes, I knew he was trying to tell me something. I just couldn't figure out what. Instead of giving voice to these thoughts, I just shrugged.
Cavit, Stralley, Weldon, and the other Federation crew who had followed Cavit, were turned over to the Ocampans. We held another courts martial with Chakotay once again playing the role of prosecutor. Bren, Arana, and Wis reprised their roles as judges. My testimony wasn't something I wanted to revisit, but I did it.
I spent some time going over the chronology, the visits to his quarters that became more frequent, the rapes and beatings, the use of Stralley and Weldon to keep me in line by giving me to them as if I was an object to be traded for their loyalty to Cavit.
Gradually, Cavit added adornments to my body. The only battle over these that I won concerned the ring he wanted to put through my tongue. I managed to convince him that its presence would ruin the pleasure I could give him. To the court I described my daily routine as essentially one of expected rapes, unexpected beatings, and crushing loneliness.
Facing down Cavit on the bridge had been a real turning point for me. Confronting him at the trial provided some closure.
Tuvok, Harry and several others testified on my behalf and also about violations of the Prime Directive and assorted Starfleet regulations Cavit and his crew had violated. Chakotay also questioned Tuvok about the physical and sexual abuse he had undergone once Cavit had discovered his betrayal.
Under cross examination, Tuvok admitted masterminding the mutiny. He cited Starfleet regulations concerning the incapacity of a captain and detailed why he believed Cavit was incapacitated. He acknowledged recruiting Vorik, Harry, the Delaney sisters, Carey, and others.
All of his co-conspirators agreed that they would need help from the outside in retaking Voyager. In addition, Tuvok made it clear to them that any opportunity to get me away from Cavit had to be taken. The wormhole that was too small for Voyager provided the first opportunity and they decided to use it.
Apparently, Tuvok suspected that Cavit would imprison him or worse once Harry and I left Voyager so he instructed Vorik, also a Vulcan, on how to link with me when it was necessary. To his credit, Vorik did just that. Tuvok's ability to place himself in a trance not only permitted healing but also allowed him to resist any efforts to make him reveal the names of his co-conspirators.
As I listened to Tuvok's testimony, I couldn't believe the man had risked so much for me. Suppose we hadn't come back? I hated to think of what would have happened to him over the long journey through the Delta Quadrant. I owed him big time.
When Cavit testified in his own behalf, he blamed Janeway, he blamed me, he blamed Tuvok. In short, he took no responsibility for what he'd done. According to him, Janeway should never have brought me on board as an observer in the first place. If she hadn't, Voyager would not have gone into the sector of the badlands that led to Chakotay and then to the Caretaker's hijacking of Voyager.
And if Janeway hadn't blown up the array, we all would have been home, he would have been a hero, and I would be back in prison where I belonged. And traitors like Tuvok would join me.
Of his treatment of me and Tuvok, he denied nothing. Instead, he asserted his right to treat us as he had. I couldn't say I was surprised that he was proud of what he'd done, but others looked shocked, especially the Ocampan judges.
After they were found guilty, Cavit and his friends joined Dalby in the Ocampan's 'personality adjustment' program. I hoped the Ocampan techniques would work. Before I left Ocampa, I visited their facility.
During the trial and afterwards, B'Elanna and Joe Carey and some of the other engineers provided the Ocampans with additional farming assistance. In return, the Ocampans gave us cherished parts of their culture of peace and harmony in the form of writings and music that were added to Voyager's database.
Even after the trial, I still had nightmares. Not only that, I found myself jumpy and irritable, to the point where it seemed as if I was always apologizing to Harry. Even Tuvok suffered from the aftermath of his ordeal at Cavit's hands. He sought me out to let me know that he was seeking help from the Ocampan healers. Although he didn't tell me I should do the same, I knew he wanted me to reach that conclusion.
I realized it was time for me to deal with the traumas causing the nightmares and other problems. When I asked for Tres, she made time for me. She and I worked together along with Bren and Jena in rooting out the demons.
It wasn't so much that they thought I needed to forget, but that I needed to come to terms with had happened. Part of coming to terms with the beatings and rapes and helplessness involved forgiving myself. If they'd asked me to forgive Dalby or Cavit, I'd have walked out and not returned. But this idea of forgiving myself felt weird. I'd done all sorts of things that justified a hell of a lot of condemnation.
Harry, Tuvok, and Chakotay sat in with us one afternoon when I hit a not unexpected hard wall on the road to self-acceptance. At Bren's prompting, each spoke of the qualities they saw in me. They all mentioned positive things like brave, courageous, even funny and resourceful.
When I tried to tell them that they didn't really know me, they countered with a description of my deeds in regaining Voyager, the way I'd faced down both Dalby and Cavit. Chakotay even mentioned the friendship I'd developed with Danny Lightfoot. Danny had told his cousin that I was teaching him flying using sims on the holodeck.
"He's a nice kid."
"So are you," Chakotay told me. "You've had a lot of rough breaks, and, yes, you've made some mistakes, but you deserve a second chance. If we're going to give you that second chance, you need to give it to yourself."
"A second chance repairing shuttles?" I replied with a smirk.
Tuvok stepped in. "You have shown yourself to be an excellent pilot."
"How do you know that?"
"You've spent countless hours of your personal time flying sims on the holodeck," Tuvok pointed out.
"I like to fly," I told him trying not to sound as if it mattered to me.
"Tom," Chakotay said, looking intensely into my face, "we want you to fly Voyager and try out for the position of head pilot."
Stunned, I sat speechless. Finally, I managed to sputter, "Fly? Fly the ship?"
Dimples rippling, Chakotay nodded. When I looked at Tuvok, he also nodded. "You would begin with the rank of ensign."
"Say yes, Tom," Harry urged, both happiness and fear making an appearance on his face.
"I don't know what to say," I managed. "Uh, yes."
It took a little getting used to, hell, it took a lot of getting used to. Harry, Tuvok, and Chakotay had become the most important people in my life. One slept with me and two thought I deserved an officer's rank and the chance to fly a starship. These views of me went a long way toward piercing the armor of indifference and insignificance with which I had surrounded myself.
In the remaining few weeks on Ocampa, I worked with my healers harder than I'd ever worked in my life. Opening up to people, expressing my real fears, letting others see what I saw as the 'real' me, all of this proved exhausting. I'd have to acknowledge that Bren, Jena, and Tres were patient, kind, and always there when I needed them through all my ups and downs.
And, Harry. Shit. The guy was amazing. He never tried to analyze me, never really criticized me, he just fucking was there for me.
Although he hadn't said anything, I got the impression that for some reason he might love me, However, if anyone thinks love is enough, I'd have to tell them they're wrong. Without the help of my healers, I'd have driven Harry away permanently with my moods, outbursts, and insecurities. Between the work I did with the Ocampan healers and Harry's accepting temperament, he managed to hang in there. It was a hell of a lot more than I expected, but I was beginning to wonder if maybe I didn't, for once in my life, deserve some happiness.
Voyager was within a day or two of being ready to leave when Tres asked me if I wished to visit the rehabilitation facility. I thought about skipping that part and just leaving on Voyager without seeing any more of those men who'd made my life hell. But Tres and the others thought I was ready for it and that it might prove helpful to me. She had made the same suggestion to Tuvok and he had agreed to go.
In the late afternoon, the Ocampans took me to their facility. Like much of their underground world, there was a lot of stone and concrete-like materials making up the building. It was large, but not very forbidding.
I'd been anxious that the former Maquis and former Starfleet officers not be able to see me. Fortunately, we went to a room with a one-way mirror that looked out over a small workshop area. Tres stood on one side of me and Harry stood on the other. Bren, Jena, Tuvok, and Chakotay ranged nearby, all with views of the workshop. The people on the other side of the window seemed involved in a variety of crafts.
At first I didn't see them, all wore the flowing robes of the Ocampans. Then I made out Dalby's face. It wasn't that it was blank, but the animation and anger in it that I had seen was gone. He looked harmless and he looked old.
I searched for Cavit and finally saw him working over a model of clay. He was shaping the clay into the form of a starship. A far away expression, almost wistful, seemed to have a permanent place on his face. Like Dalby, he appeared to have reached a point where it was difficult to imagine anger, lust, or evil ever visiting him again.
Seeing the men so changed from their defiant, arrogant, and menacing ways made more of an impression on me than I would have thought. No, they weren't dead, but they weren't who they had been either. It hit me with total clarity that they could never again hurt me. Not in my life and not in my dreams.
I turned away from the window with tears in my eyes. I was going to a life that held hope and promise and maybe a second chance. They were going nowhere.
None of us spoke as we left the facility. I could tell we'd all been deeply affected by what we'd seen. Tuvok's eyes sought me out and I held them without a second thought. I nodded, he raised an eyebrow, and we both knew we could move on.
We were five months away from Ocampa by ship's time, but much farther in terms of distance thanks to the wormhole. I was one of five rotating pilots along with Baytart, Culhane, Jenkins, and Danny Lightfoot. One month into our voyage I'd been made chief pilot. B'Elanna was chief engineer, Harry continued at ops, Carey moved over to security, Kes helped the doctor as his assistant, and Neelix cooked for us.
Only a few, with good reasons, like Samantha Wildman who had given birth to a child on Ocampa and wanted her daughter to be safe, stayed on Ocampa. Claiming he liked the calming emotions of the Ocampans, Lon Suder also stayed behind.
The co-captaincy worked a hell of a lot better than I ever imagined it would. When we talked to either Tuvok or Chakotay we knew we were talking to the other as well. The morning of our departure, they had held a ceremony witnessed by all the crew and Ocampans who cared to attend. And that was a lot of people. Bren officiated, borrowing customs from the heritages of Tuvok, Chakotay, and the Ocampans. After Chakotay and Tuvok exchanged statements of commitment and respect, Bren announced that they were bonded both by laws and by a strength that transcended all the laws of the known universe. Kind of impressive.
Harry gave me significant looks throughout the ceremony. I gave him a grin in return. He squeezed my hand and I squeezed back.
Now, five months into our return to the Alpha Quadrant, in the mess hall with our dinner finished, I caught Harry's eye. "So, Har, what do you want to do tonight?"
"You know that clarinet you replicated for my birthday?"
I'd had to hustle replicator rations like crazy to afford that baby. "Yeah?"
"I want to play you a piece I've learned."
"What's that?" I asked.
The smoldering look I received along with that announcement told me a whole lot about our evening's activities. Harry had some sex on his mind. Unable to hide my own reaction, I gave him a cross between a grin and smirk, "Let's go."
The tune worked surprisingly well on a clarinet. Yeah, he played it for me first. As the ancient music's tempo and intensity kept increasing, I found myself getting more and more aroused. From the looks of things, the same phenomenon was happening to him. He finished the last note, his eyes closed, his face flushed, and I thought I'd never seen a man look so beautiful.
He put the clarinet down, opened his eyes and looked at me with naked longing. I reached over and cupped his face and kissed those lips that had created so much beauty. Crushed together, we kissed as if still feeling the intense rhythm of the music.
Before I passed out from lack of air, I pulled back, picked him up and carried him into our bedroom. We were out of our clothes faster than a starship slingshoting around a star.
As we made love, I felt overwhelmed by my feelings for this man. In our lovemaking, we shared everything, topping and bottoming, licking, nipping, sucking, kissing. It was if our bodies were new instruments to express feelings too towering to identify.
Sated, sweaty, and sticky, I managed to raise myself on one elbow above Harry. Looking down, I saw a dreamy expression on his face and I kissed the tip of his perfect nose. He opened dark eyes only halfway. "Harry?"
"I have something to tell you." The eyes opened a little more and held mine.
"Wait," he whispered. "I want to tell you something." He smiled, hell he grinned widely. "I love you."
I swallowed and hoped I could do this. But at this moment, hearing his words, my fears were at bay, and I wanted to do this more than anything. So, I licked my dry lips and said, "I love you."
His smile sailed inside me and merged with my own smile. "I do," I assured him.
"I know, Tom." He placed a finger against his lips and then let it alight on mine. His voice sounded like the warm, reverberating low notes of a guitar, "I love you, too."
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