Summary: Over 40 crewmen died from the Maquis and Starfleet factions. On the
eve of their burial, Paris contemplates the deaths he had witnessed in his
NOTES: Call me morbid, but I've always wondered what happened to all those
dead crewmen. This story also makes assumption about the number of crewmen
who have died in the initial period of time. So to those who noticed any
discrepancies after checking Lower Decks, do forgive me. Enjoy. ;) Oh, and
some spoilers for "Pathways" the novel. I also made some assumptions from
For Those Who Departed
It was an ugly job, but somebody had to do it.
"Bring me the next body, Lieutenant."
Tom nodded, still feeling vaguely uncomfortable with his new
designation. Wincing at the sight of the pile of bodies, he hoisted a body
from the pile and dragged it to the Doc.
There was no grace in the whole procedure. Autopsies were not supposed
to be romantic.
Somehow, the Doctor had appointed Tom as `temporary medical assistant'
and ordered him to assist him with the autopsies of the dead crewmen - from
the Maquis ship as well as Voyager. They had turned one of the cargo bays into
a make-shift autopsy laboratory and with the help of a few of the crew,
dragged the dead into the area. The Maquis dead had been transported earlier
prior to destruction of the Maquis ship, thanks to Chakotay's thoughtful
intuition that his ship was on its last leg. As the bodies piled up, Tom was
reminded of a holovid he had seen in one of his Academy history lessons.
Auswitz, where bodies were piled so high, they looked like a mountain of dead
<Okay, Tom. You're definitely going into morbid territory
He placed the body on the low platform and stood back while the Doctor
ran his medical tricorder over the corpse.
"Stadi, Marial. Cause of death - severe neurological shock. Death was
instantaneous. In layman terms, she was fried from the inside," the Doctor
announced clinically, giving him a pointed look
How Tom kept from going green while the Doctor announced various causes
of deaths was beyond him.
He caught himself staring at the Betazoid's face. With the affairs at
the Caretaker's array going on and all, the crew had no time to place the
bodies in stasis (not that they had enough stasis chambers to begin with), so
some decomposition had settled in. For Stadi, it was mercilessly mild. Her
tanned, peachy skin had turned a pale blue, her lips slightly parted in a
death grimace. But nothing could stop the rigor mortis from setting in, so the
Doctor had to tear her uniform off just to conduct the-
Tom was shocked out of his morbid reverie. "Uhm. Yes, Doc?"
The Doctor glared at him. The Hologram was not exactly fond of being
called `Doc' and made that point quite clear, which was why Tom used the name
"Next body please," the Doctor said in mock politeness.
<Honestly, the programmers must've forgotten to include a bedside
manner, because the Doc obviously had none, Tom complained mentally as he
dragged the next corpse.
And so it went on for a numbing day.
There were others to assist as well. Mostly to prepare the corpses for
their burial, dressing them in dress uniforms and including personal artifacts
in their coffins/torpedo tubes. Some had volunteered - like the Delaney
sisters, who fascinated him immensely. Imagine, identical twins on the same
starship. The idea was pure novelty. Then there were the Maquis - the bad
tempered Bajoran Toban, and surprisingly, the talkative Bolian Chell. At
first, they only assisted with the Maquis dead, but when one of the Delaney
sisters moved on (so casually) to a Maquis body and began to prepare it, Toban
and Chell gave each other looks and eventually moved on to Starfleet crew
<And so it begins. Integration. He didn't think it possible before,
but being stranded 70 million light years from home could change people.
Finally, the 42nd body was autopsied. A Vulcan - former chief engineer
of USS Voyager. Died of internal bleeding and severe head injuries. Death was
not instantaneous. The Doctor theorised that it took him two hours to die, and
was conscious to the last breath. Help would've gotten to him if Tevak hadn't
chosen to conduct repairs in a Jeffries tube when the Caretaker took them.
Tom sighed. He *had* to get out of here.
He was about to leave when he heard a muffled sniff. Turning, he saw
one of the Delaney sisters - he didn't know which - wiping her teary eyes on
her sleeve. She was on her knees beside a female body.
"Megan?" he tried.
She looked up, fixing brown eyes on his. She looked surprised at his
question. "Jenny," she said after a while.
"Sorry," he said, walking to her.
"It's alright. We get that all the time," Jenny smiled.
"Is…everything alright?" he began awkwardly, casting looks at the body
at her feet. It was a stupid question, but he didn't know what else to say.
Jenny shook her head. Gently, she brushed a lock of blonde hair from
the face of the corpse. Tom could see that she was human, and that a hideous
tear had split the left side of her face, exposing the skull beneath. Tom
fought the urge to gag.
"She wouldn't have liked looking like this," Jenny said softly. "She
was a little vain, you know. You would think it strange for a security
officer. Her name was Lara. Lara Holt," she gave Tom a smile. "She was impaled
on a broken panel when she fell," Jenny sucked in a deep breath, reigning back
her tears. "I hate referring to her in past the tense, y'know. I keep thinking
that somewhere, she can hear me."
Tom didn't know what to say.
"Sorry. You probably don't want to hear all this," Jenny said, turning
away to unfurl the dress uniform by Lara's body.
"No, don't say that. I know what it's like to lose someone," he said.
Immediately, memories of Caldik Prime assailed him. Odile, Charlie…Tom
involuntarily closed his eyes.
"You have lost someone," Jenny said, as if amazed.
"A few," he said opening his eyes. He shrugged, trying to appear
nonchalant. But he couldn't fool anyone.
"She was my best friend," Jenny said suddenly. "Lara. We grew up
together in Iowa. Both of us convinced Megan to enroll in the Academy. We
wanted to be `together forever'," Jenny rolled her eyes, then grew serious.
"Funny how things turned out," she said in a low voice.
Shaking her head brusquely as if to shake off the bad memories, Jenny
began to unbutton Lara's top.
"Uhm," Tom began awkwardly. "I better get going…" Damn, he sounded like
an awkward schoolboy.
Jenny merely nodded absently. The top was already removed. Jenny sucked
in a breath at the ghastly hole at Lara's side. This time, she couldn't hold
back a sob. She covered her face in her hands and began to cry in earnest, her
shoulders shaking from silent sobs.
Tom watched her helplessly, wishing he could comfort her. Then an idea
occurred to him.
Walking to the Doc's area, he grabbed a dermal regenerator from the
The Doc glared at him. "And just where are you going with that dermal
regenerator Mr. Paris?"
Paris gave the hologram a weak smile. "Lara Holt. She had a tear at the
side of her face-"
"And you want to repair it?" the Doc gave Tom an incredulous raise of
an eyebrow. "You do know that she is dead, Lieutenant?" he asked
Tom frowned, feeling angry suddenly. "Look, Doc- you may not care what
the dead look like, but we do," he said stiffly, clutching the dermal
regenerator in a vise-like grip.
"Of course you do. And so do I. I am programmed with 1,500 funeral
rites from different alien cultures, and I am aware of the `aesthetic' side of
burials. But using the dermal regenerator will not help. It activates live
cells to accelerate the healing process, and since there are no live cells
left in Lieutenant Lara Holt's body, the dermal regenerator would be
"Oh," Tom replied, feeling stupid.
The Doctor sighed, taking the device from his hands. "But I don't blame
you, Mr. Paris. You're not my medical assistant."
The Doctor turned around, a new medical device in his hands. "Where's
Tom led the Doctor to Jenny, who had managed to control her grief and
resumed dressing Lara's body. She looked up in surprise as the Doctor knelt by
the body. She gave Tom a puzzled look.
Wordlessly, the Doctor tipped Lara's chin and ran the device at the
torn side of her face.
"There, good as new," he announced after a minute, a small smile at his
Jenny stared with amazement at the smooth skin. She touched the cold
cheek tentatively and smiled.
"She's beautiful," Jenny said. "Thank you, Doctor," she said softly.
Tom smiled to himself and walked to the exit - until Jenny called out
"Tom? Tom Paris, is it?"
Tom turned. "You got me," he replied, giving her a small smile.
Jenny Delaney smiled. "Thanks," she smiled. "I think Lara is smiling
Tom nodded. "I'm sure she is."
* * *
She looked like a fairy from Earth's ancient folk tales; so pale and
still she didn't seem real. He found himself touching her cold cheek and
blinked in surprise as a tear dropped on her cheek. Hastily, he wiped the tear
away, but he only succeeded in smudging the make-up, revealing bluish skin
below. He gasped at that sight and tore his eyes away, forcing his heart to
The pain was excruciating.
"Tom," someone placed a hand on his shoulder.
He wasn't exactly the person he wanted to see right now. Guilt and fear
stabbed at him simultaneously. He found himself taking a step back.
"Dad," he said.
Admiral Owen Paris looked grave. He knew Odile, though not too well.
Tom had brought her over a couple of times, and when they had announced their
engagement, Owen had dinner with both of them.
"It isn't your fault," Owen said gently.
Tom turned away abruptly, closing his eyes to keep the tears from
"I'm okay, Dad. Really."
A gentle hand on his shoulder. "You know where to find me."
Tom cast a nervous look at the departing figure. After he was sure his
father was truly gone, Tom walked again to the coffin, studying her still
form, trying to memorize her features. It was, after all, the last time he
would see her.
"Odile. I'm so sorry," he whispered.
She was dressed in white - it was her favourite colour. Only the dress
reminded him hauntingly of a bridal gown, the gown she would never wear. All
because of him.
"Odile," he reached out to touch her cheek. Just one last time-
Her eyes snapped open, colourless irises stared mockingly at him.
Tom gasped awake, his body trembling.
He groaned, burying his face in his hands, rubbing his eyes to rid
himself of the hideous nightmare image of Odile.
He wished the dream was a memory. He would have done anything to be
able to say goodbye to Odile, even if she was a cold corpse in a coffin.
There wasn't anything left of Odile. Charlie, Bruno... - they were
smashed into atoms from the accident.
"I'm so sorry, Odile," he whispered, his voice loud in the silence of
his darkened quarters.
* * *
The dress uniform was uncomfortable.
"Computer, lights. 50%."
Dim lights lighted the cargo bay area - a makeshift area for the
funeral ceremony. 42 gleaming coffins were lined up in 5 rows, silent and
cold. The Starfleet flag draped over each of them, in accordance with the
Captain's edict that the Maquis would be given an honourable Starfleet burial
He was surprised that the Maquis did not protest, but perhaps they
appreciated the gesture. He didn't know.
His footsteps echoed as he walked among the sea of dead. He stopped at
one of the coffins and stared, his nightmare still fresh on his mind. And as
if defying the nightmarish memories, he opened the coffin.
"Stadi," he found himself saying.
She looked peaceful. Someone had dressed her in her dress uniform. In
her hands she clutched a strange, musical instrument - a Betazoid lute, if he
was not mistaken. A piece of her life, tenderly placed in her hands by,
perhaps - a lover? He reached out to touch her hand, but found that he could
not. He felt like a voyeur, disturbing a sacred slumber no one was supposed to
Funny that she had been alive only last week. He remembered their
playful banter, the mischievous gleam in her eyes as he teased her. Her
replies were clever and sharp and he had been intrigued. He had wanted to know
more about this mysterious Betazoid woman. What made her happy? Sad? What did
she think of him?
"Now it's too late," he murmured.
An unbidden memory intruded, and he found himself remembering Charlie's
wake. How many had he attended? Every single one of them. Three funerals in
number. Never mind they had no bodies to bury. They always said the same
thing. They always said-
"It isn't your fault, Tom," Charlie's mother had told him. "He wouldn't
want you to linger on his death." Her voice trembled towards the end, and she
hurriedly walked away, vainly trying to conceal her streaming eyes.
Back in the present again, Tom squinted his eyes shut and closed
Stadi's coffin quietly.
He didn't expect the memories to be so painful. It had been four years
after all. Four years of numbness, where he had tried to bury his guilt under
wine, women and song. And when the memory began to fade, he realised that he
no longer felt the pain. In fact, he could not feel anything for a long time,
and he had wandered like a dead man in Marseilles, trying so hard to feel
And so he was surprised when he felt tears coming out from his eyes,
but he was relieved.
Tom leaned his head against the coffin, burying his face against the
fold of his arms and cried softly, finally able to grieve.
In a darkened corner, brown eyes watched Tom.
She was angry that he was there, and when he had opened one of the
coffins, she had wanted to tell him to get out, that he didn't know what it
meant to honour the dead. After all, he had no one to grieve over.
*This* was unexpected.
From her hidden corner, she watched him sob into his arms. Tom Paris,
the p'tak that everyone disliked because he had no loyalties, no
responsibility - had a heart.
<You are not as simple as I thought she mused.
B'Elanna Torres turned, walking as quietly as she could, leaving Tom
Paris to grieve alone.
* * *
"We are gathered here today for those who have gone before us," Captain
Kathryn Janeway said from the high platform at Cargo Bay 8. On her right was
Chakotay - now Commander, - and Lieutenant Tuvok was on her left.
Tom glanced warily behind him. For the first time, the Maquis donned
Starfleet uniforms. They looked strangely out of place, some shifting
uncomfortably in the uniform. However, some, like O'Donnell, looked as if they
belonged in that uniform and had worn it all their lives.
He returned his glance to the platform. Like Chakotay, for example.
A large screen was placed before them, and it showed the neat rows of
black coffins in Cargo Bay 5. Tom found the sight painful. He had to turn
"We grieve that they could not follow us on our journey, and their
lives have been tragically cut short. Today, we stand here not as Maquis or
Again Tom glanced behind him to gauge the reaction of the Maquis. He
caught B'Elanna Torres' eye, who returned his glance with a steely stare. He
swallowed and turned back.
"-we are standing here as the representatives of the Alpha Quadrant. We
are alone here. Ten thousands of light years away from our home…from wars,
political factions and beliefs. Out here, we only have each other to remind us
of home. And we will get home. This, I promise you."
Janeway paused, looking down at an invisible goal, her brow furrowed in
"And now, we send our dead on their journey. To the Alpha Quadrant,"
she said, taking a step back.
Four officers stepped forward and sounded the horns: The death horn, as
Tom's father would like to call it. Tom had witnessed two such horns in his
time. Both for a Paris who died honourably.
The cargo bays began to open.
It happened quickly. The coffins, powered by mild thrusters - sped out
of the cargo doors until they became tiny flecks of lights reflected from the
nearby sun. It was over in two minutes.
Tom was vaguely aware of the sounds of sobbing from behind.
<All of them have someone to grieve he thought as he watched the dying
lights. <Surprisingly, so do I. Only, I lost the people I loved a little
He felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Harry," he said, a slow smile spreading on his tired face.
"You look like you need some shut eye," said the Ensign.
They walked to the exit, where many were now headed.
"Do I?" he muttered to himself and stifled a yawn.
"Are you free at 1700 hours?"
Tom thought for a while. "My shift's over by then," he said. It was
still funny to think that he was now *part* of a shift. Part of a ship, even.
"Good!" Harry said with forced candor. "I want you to meet someone," he
gestured to his left.
Tom squinted and saw the person Harry referred to. Inwardly, he sighed.
"We've met," he said with a sigh.
"Really?" Harry's black eyes brightened. He didn't seem to notice his
lack of enthusiasm. "That makes it easier! Hey, Maquis!" Harry called.
B'Elanna Torres made her way to them, giving Tom a wary look all the
"You remember Tom Paris?" Harry began.
B'Elanna only gave Tom a withering look. "I do. He left me to die."
That stumped Harry. "Er-"
"You know I didn't," Tom replied defensively. He had always found
B'Elanna intriguing only because she had never been impressed with him. "I was
captured before I had the chance to make the run!"
"You didn't have to surrender," B'Elanna said,
"For what? So I could die a glorious Klingon death?" Tom cursed himself
the moment the words came out. <Good ol' Tom. Always doing things the *wrong*
B'Elanna growled and moved forward to do some damage, only to be
stopped by a hand on her shoulder. She looked at it as if it was a vermin.
"Guys," Harry said with unusual firmness. "Let's make this reunion a
happy one? For my sake?" he gave them a pleading look.
Tom had to smile despite himself. Harry had a way of worming some
reason into his heart and apparently into B'Elanna's as well. She shook her
head as if to clear the angry webs from her mind and took a step back.
"Okay, but don't expect us to be the greatest of friends overnight. We
still have some things to settle," she said, giving Tom a pointed look.
"For you, I can wait as long as you want," Tom found himself saying
with a smile.
B'Elanna snorted then gave him an appraising look. "You've got a long
time to wait, helmboy." With that, she walked to the exit.
Harry patted him on the shoulder. "Sorry for that," he said
"Harry, Harry," Tom said with a big smile. "You have to learn sometime
that I am a *popular* guy!" he said sarcastically.
"Yeah," Harry said. He didn't have anything witty to say in return. Tom
smiled, amused to see Harry so sorry.
"For what it's worth, Harry. You've thawed the ice," he finally said.
Harry shot him a look of disbelief.
"Thawed it? She was about to kill you!"
Tom chuckled and threw an arm around the Ensign's shoulder. "Harry,
Harry! Don't be so dramatic! This shows how little you know about B'Elanna
Torres," he said evasively.
Harry only chuckled.
And before the cargo doors closed behind them, Tom cast a last look at
the screen, towards the last flickering lights heading towards the Alpha
Would their bodies be found by alien ships? Civilisations? Or would
they fly straight to Earth?
In a way, he envied those silent forms. They didn't have to worry about
the past, present or the future anymore. Just peaceful silence.
"Goodbye," he whispered.
"What's that?" Harry asked.
Tom looked back at Harry with a smile. "Blueberry pie. My treat."
"Sounds good to me."
And they left those who have gone before them to continue with their