Endless II.A: New Deal
by Judy email@example.com and Etal
Summary: There were survivors when Voyager crashed on the Class L planet in Timeless. And B'Elanna was on the Delta Flyer with Harry instead of Chakotay. Having settled on an earth-like planet, how do the survivors, including a recovering Tom Paris, cope with life in the DQ? Book II looks at the trials and tribulations of settling on their new planet, New Deal.
Disclaimer: They're Paramount's, all of them, except for a few aliens and crew members. The premise came from the episode Timeless. No copyright infringement intended. Some backstory comes from Mosaic and Pathways, books by Jeri Taylor. Other backstory material comes from various Voyager episodes. We have filled in gaps as needed.
Unless a part is labeled Alpha Quadrant, then all events take place in the Delta Quadrant. The story here is our version of what could have happened. It deviates from the original in a number of ways, one of which is that there were survivors, another is that the damage to the ship is different from that described in the episode.
Copyright, 2000, 2001. Public or private feedback is welcome.
Notes: Judy wrote the parts on Voyager and the planet; Etal wrote the parts on the Delta Flyer and the Alpha Quadrant. We discussed, read, edited, added, deleted, and commented on each other's work. This is Book II.A with Book II.B following when written and there's a Book III planned as well. I hesitate to say when! Many thanks to Britta for her speedy and helpful, very helpful, feedback.
Warning: Angst. Tom angst. Deaths of some familiar crew members. A few bad words here and there. May need a few hankies, too. Minor crew members are in romantic relationships, some het, some same sex. There are no depictions of sexual behavior.
Archive/Post: ASC; ATPS; others please ask.
Endless II.A: New Deal
By Judy and Etal
Year: 04; April; Prologue
Tom Paris sat on a hummock of long, native grasses. The sun shone relentlessly bright and cheerful as he squinted under the brim of his hat. Maybe he squinted as well from the faint traces of wetness in his eyes.
Four years, he thought to himself. Four years since his piloting had sent Voyager to its end, since a hundred crew members had died on an icy, treacherous planet. Four years since B'Elanna and Harry had disappeared in the Delta Flyer. Every day since he'd wondered what had happened to them, hoping they were coming back. It didn't matter if they hadn't made it to the Alpha Quadrant, it didn't matter if they didn't bring back Federation help with them.
He just wished they were here. Gods, how he missed them. Until they'd been gone, he hadn't understood how much his life had been filled with his best friend and his lover. For both of them to leave him and at the same time.... He wanted to see them so badly.
But that was selfish. He shouldn't wish on them this exile, this constant struggle. Perhaps that was just him feeling the weight of the anniversary. Tom had once told himself he'd give them four years. And here it was. Four years. He should give up on them now. They hadn't made it; they weren't coming back. They had probably died in the collapse of the slipstream.
His fingers shredded the shaft of the long piece of grass he'd plucked from the ground. Without thinking about it, he picked up another blue-green blade feeling its length between his fingers, his eyes blinking so rapidly that he never saw the doomed fragment of flora.
He knew he would have to tell Chakotay once again that he wouldn't fly. If -- no, *when* -- he managed to rouse himself enough to return to VoyCe (pronounced like the Earth city of Boise), the name they all called their little settlement, short for Voyager City, he'd have to disappoint their mayor. It bothered him to let the other man down. Tom understood how much Chakotay wanted him to help them. After all, the threat was real, those ships that had been picked up on long range sensors were incoming and they would arrive tomorrow. But just the idea of flying made Tom feel sick to his stomach.
Four years had gone by and the nausea hadn't faded. So, he had trained the pilots. He'd coached them through maneuvers and invented problems to throw at them. But he hadn't flown a shuttle in those four years. Couldn't get behind the controls, couldn't even allow himself to go airborne in a shuttle, not without getting sick. A crippling anxiety and sickening weakness overwhelmed him whenever he even thought about it. He wasn't going to be much of an asset tomorrow.
Pushing aside thoughts of flying so that his stomach would settle down, despairingly, Tom wondered what, if anything, he actually had to show for the past four years. He sure as hell no longer was the hot shot pilot of a starship. Nor was he the lusty lover of a fiery half-Klingon. For the first time in his adult life he was voluntarily celibate. Confused the hell out of everyone. Including himself. Maybe himself most of all.
There'd been some serious flirtation -- unreciprocated -- from both Jenny and Megan Delaney. And there had been that misunderstanding when Tuvok hit Pon Farr. Tom's repeated requests to be left alone by those who pursued him had finally been respected and he had achieved the solitude and isolation he needed. Of them all, surprisingly, it had been Kathryn who seemed to understand his distress.
Among those in the settlement, now somewhat fewer than the original 28 men and 22 women, there had been plenty of match-ups, some fleeting, some enduring, some surprising, some expected. And there had been a lot of children born. What was the last count? Twenty-seven? He'd delivered or helped to deliver most of them.
Anniversaries. This one was the worst yet. They called it Memorial Day back in VoyCe and everyone who was nonessential had the day off, had the day to consider those who'd been lost. Guess he was nonessential, he had the day off.
As had been true for each of their years on the planet, there had been a somber memorial service that morning. All of those who'd died back then and since had been remembered. Geez, it hurt. They were gone. He hadn't seen B'Elanna in four years, hadn't talked to Harry once in all that time, except in his head. Except late at night when he couldn't sleep.
Another shredded mess of green dropped from his long fingers. Using the back of his hand to wipe at his face, Tom ruled out destruction of another blade of grass. It was time to head back. Tom found his cane and pushed himself up. He'd tell Chakotay he still couldn't fly. He'd accept that Harry and B'Elanna were truly gone. Well, he'd try to accept it. On the other hand, what could it hurt to give them another year? He didn't want to let them go just yet.
It was only a short walk over the slight hill to the settlement on the other side. The private time away from everyone had helped. In VoyCe he'd resume his reclusive life. He still shared a shelter with Tuvok and Chakotay, but he didn't share himself with them. He kept his feelings and thoughts close and refused the offers to talk that both men had thrown his way from time to time. What else could he do?
Year: 00, November
"Tom." The doctor spoke to his assistant. Since they were all on a first name basis, the doctor had relented and agreed to stop calling the man 'Mr. Paris' as had been his custom. The emotionally remote, former pilot looked up from the console where he'd been working.
The EMH faced a thin, freckled young man, his head framed by wavy, sun-bleached hair that almost touched his shoulders. Months ago the doctor decided that Tom's thinning hair and fair skin constituted a medical handicap on this planet that they'd dubbed 'New Deal', so he'd given Tom's scalp hair a boost. Tom hadn't cut it since. But did Tom ever seem grateful? Pleased, yes. But grateful? Barely.
Sniffing a bit at the perceived slight he'd endured months ago, the doctor asked, "What are you seeing?"
The dead animal under examination had appeared in the morning outside the door of the shelter Tom shared with Tuvok and Chakotay. Every so often a new one turned up. Not every night. Maybe once a month. But, tellingly, they no longer were placed on Janeway's doorstep. Whoever was doing it knew who was the leader of the colonists. Tom still thought it was the bugs but the doctor disagreed. And in seven months he hadn't been able to prove the doctor wrong.
Tom had decided once again to try a DNA scan on this animal. The scan read all the DNA on the animal's skin and gave a readout of the number and kind of creatures with which the animal had been in contact. He'd done it before but the results hadn't been conclusive. Just like the toxins inside the animal, the DNA on the outside showed contact with the bugs. But then every being unlucky enough to be caught outside when the bugs swarmed would show bug DNA.
Tom felt sure that if a colonist had killed the animal and left it on the doorstep, then that colonist's DNA would be detected. However, the last time he ran the scan, he hadn't identified any. Only his own and Chakotay's had been detectable and he knew neither of them had done it. Chakotay's DNA appeared because he found the animal and had leaned over it, a strand of hair falling onto the carcass. And Tom's own DNA was seen because he handled the body. Even with gloves, flakes of his skin landed on the animal.
In some sense, it would be a relief if he could identify one of the colonists as the culprit. No one wanted to deal with 'intelligent' bugs. On the other hand, he was sure he was right. The bugs were intelligent and they were leaving these animals. He just didn't have a theory of why they were doing it. For the time being, he'd settle for proving that his theory was correct.
"Would you elaborate?"
The doctor wanted to know what he'd meant when he'd said 'nothing different'. "The only DNA besides the bugs' belongs to me and Chakotay."
A year ago Tom would have gloated out loud to show up the doctor. However, he felt no joy anymore in baiting the doc. He simply concentrated on the output and prepared to run the tests again. "I'm going to try this one more time," he muttered.
"I wonder how Kathryn and Carey are doing on the warp conversion."
The doctor seemed to want to make small talk so Tom simply ignored him. Maybe it wasn't 'nice' but both of them knew that unless the warp conversion worked soon, the doctor would have to go offline for longer and longer periods of time.
"How long do you think it will take?" the doc asked a few minutes later.
Tom entered the correct sequence of orders for the new test. "Few minutes."
"No, not the tests," the EMH corrected, his tone testy. "I was referring to the warp conversion."
Sighing, Tom gave the doc his attention while the computer conducted its analysis. Automatically, he flicked a stray lock of hair behind his ear. "The last I heard they were still having trouble transporting a coherent energy beam to the converter."
"How much energy does VoyCe have left? How many days?"
Tom spoke to the underlying anxiety behind the holodoc's question. Keeping his voice soft and calm, he reassured, "Doc, if you have to go offline, I will personally be responsible for your holoemitter."
The doctor held Tom's eyes, his subroutines evaluating the young man's sincerity. Satisfied, Doc noted, "That wasn't what I asked."
"Sorry. I don't really know, Doc. Honest."
"You do understand that those tests you're conducting can't prove what you want them to prove."
"I know that a single instance of someone else's DNA proves me wrong."
"But finding 1000 times that there is none does not thereby prove your thesis."
Crossing his arms over his chest, Tom drawled, "You have a better idea?"
"Suppose one of the colonists had a personal cloaking device? It would place him or her out of phase with the rest of you and there would be no DNA."
"But we'd detect a cloaking device on our scanners. And we haven't. It's the insects, Doc. Admit it."
Tom's grin was designed to cajole him into agreement. The doctor wouldn't let it work. "No, Tom, it is not the insects. Perhaps the cloaking device is of alien origin and is unable to be detected with standard scans."
"The only way to prove it is to be there when the animal is deposited."
"When they were appearing daily we could predict its appearance. Now these 'offerings' are left randomly."
"Randomly? Are you sure?" Tom asked.
"Yes. I ran the events through my pattern detection subroutines. Random."
Tom seemed to become excited. "Random means something, Doc. The bugs are intelligent! Don't you see?"
"The sentient colonist who is leaving the animals is intelligent, although not by much," the doctor conceded. Considering whether the time was right or not, the doctor weighed the possibilities and his probability analysis came down in favor of broaching the subject that had been at the forefront of his memory banks for awhile. "Tom, have you given thought to what you want to do in the future?"
The former pilot looked puzzled so the holodoc ventured further. "The colony requires a doctor. When I'm offline, you are the only person trained sufficiently to step in. But as of yet, your skills and knowledge are at the level of a skilled physician's assistant."
Tom stared at him. "What are you getting at, Doc?"
"I was hoping you would consider additional, intensive training so that you could be a physician."
A lot of emotions chased themselves over the face of his assistant. "I don't know." Tom had clearly settled on caution.
"It would help the colony to have a doctor who didn't have to rely on unstable energy sources to perform the job. I believe you would be able to do this." Assessing the level of pinkness flushing across Tom's face, the doctor surmised that he may have embarrassed the young man. "Or perhaps not."
The needling brought about a more satisfying response in his assistant. Eyes narrowed, Tom asked, "What did you mean?"
"Perhaps you don't feel up to the rigors of such a course of study."
"I'm all right. You fixed me, remember?"
"So. You'll do it?"
"Wait a minute, I didn't say that," Tom protested. He was angry now and would have gotten to his feet if it wouldn't have been so awkward. Tom cast a glowering look at his crutches. "How can I be a doctor on crutches?"
"That is not a hurdle nor a reasonable excuse. You'll have to do better than that."
"Maybe I'm not smart enough."
"You are. I've tested you, remember?"
"Doc." There was a pleading in Tom's voice and in his expression. "What if...what if I can't save them?"
"Even I can't save them all, Tom. That's not what it's about. It's about giving them a better chance than they would have had otherwise. Without a trained doctor, the next storm or the next insect invasion could place some of them in jeopardy. If I'm offline, and can't be activated, then it's important that they receive the next best care possible."
Tom turned away from him, his shoulders slumped, his head bowed.
"I don't understand your reaction. It is a perfectly reasonable solution. Tom?"
Turning back to him with a false smile on his face, Tom said, "I guess we'll have to make sure you can be activated."
"Energy reserves have been running down. They're dangerously low. We all know that. My matrix requires a good deal of energy to run. We know that as well. It won't be long before I'm offline for a long time, perhaps forever."
"We won't let that happen," Tom told him but looked away, as if feeling guilty.
"It would reassure me to know that you planned to begin studies as a physician."
"I'm not sure I can," Tom whispered. "I don't want any more lives on my conscience."
Ah. That the doctor understood. "You know you aren't to blame for what happened to Voyager."
Tom fixed his gaze on the computer console. His Adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed several times.
The doctor assessed Tom's vital signs and offered, "I didn't mean to upset you. Please consider this a request."
Nodding, Tom brushed back his hair. "Yeah."
Knowing it was time to change the topic, the doctor wondered, "Any extraneous DNA showing up?"
"Well. You may be right."
A startled set of blue eyes turned on him. "You're just saying that to make me feel better."
"I don't think so. Have I ever said something just to make you feel better?"
Tom gave him a familiar Paris smirk and the doctor humpfed in a similarly familiar nonverbal gesture.
"Yeah," Tom laughed without humor.
Joe Carey and Kathryn Janeway in the shuttle Jolly Roger, and Tuvok and Penelope Burleson on the ground coordinated their efforts via the shuttle's comm link.
"Calibrating the confinement beam," Carey reported.
"Calibrating the projectors," Janeway echoed as she worked on her task.
Tuvok intoned, "The converter parameters are within tolerance levels."
"Opening the converter channels," Penelope indicated as she punched in console command codes. She and Tuvok were in a shelter-sized building that had been erected on the plains to the west of the colony. In the past six months, the idea to station a shuttle in orbit and to convert its warp drive from propulsion to energy had been transformed from concept to testing.
And none too soon. Joe Carey, along with all of them, knew that VoyCe's energy reserves, in the form of its shuttles, were almost depleted. They hadn't been able to erect the shields they needed over the colony. Except for one day a month when they gathered in the mess hall for a replicated meal, and except for the vitamin supplements the doctor replicated and deemed necessary for their health, they were eating native foods.
No one had more than two sets of clothes which they washed and hung out on lines to dry. Joe hated the primitive conditions. They set fires at night to illuminate the compound. All of these measures, from shutting down the replicators to restricting the use of recyclers and refreshers, had been taken to conserve the colony's dwindling supplies of energy.
If this warp core conversion process didn't work, they would have to go to the far more primitive and more unfamiliar hydroelectric sources for energy. And no one, not even the computer, could tell them much about how to construct such an ancient technology nor how long it would take. Joe didn't wish that project on any of them. However, if they could convert warp power then they would have almost unlimited energy supplies, particularly given the quantities of dilithium and galacite on the planet.
"We're ready for the test," Carey informed his work group along with the mayor, the town commissioners, and colonists who had gathered in the mess hall and who were listening in.
Tuvok told them, "Energize."
Using a modification of the shuttle's transporter, Carey threw the handles forward. Both he and Janeway waited to see if the energy was successfully transported to the converter on the planet below them.
"Receiving," Tuvok informed them.
"It's too much! Too fast!" Penelope shouted. "Shutting down!"
She frantically reversed the codes in order to shut down the conversion process. A shudder rattled the shelter and nearly knocked her off her feet. Tuvok had to hold on to keep from falling. Understating the situation, he concluded that the first test had failed to comply with expectations.
End of Part 1