Thanks to Isabelle S for all her help with this part. I say that a
lot, don't I? Maybe I should just name her as co-author on this
thing. Would be easier :) Also thanks to my wonderful beta
reader, who managed to get this beta'd and sent back to me a
few hours after I sent it to her. She's one amazing lady

Part Eight

The alien called 'SicA' entered the room were the two officers
lay. It stopped by Tom Paris' bed and studied his face for any
signs of distress. Finding none, SicA sighed in disappointment
and moved across the floor to watch Chakotay.

Seeing the anguish on the dark-haired human's face, the alien
smiled in satisfaction. Then it placed a hand on Chakotay's
forehead and looked into his mind, wanting to know what had
caused such distress in the calm commander.

When SicA discovered what Chakotay's hallucination had been
about, it smiled evilly and signaled the guard standing outside the
holodeck. As soon as the guard entered the room, SicA gave it a
silent order.

The other alien bowed in acknowledgement, then moved over to
Tom's bed, picked the pilot up and carried him out of the room.

The door had barely closed behind the guard and Tom Paris
when SicA noticed the indications that Chakotay was about to
wake up. It quickly moved away from the bed and out of the
man's sight. It wanted to see how the commander reacted when
he discovered that Tom Paris wasn't there anymore.


Chakotay sighed softly as he regained consciousness. For a long
time he lay with his eyes closed, frowning as he tried to recall
what had happened to make him feel the way he was feeling. He
didn't *want* to remember, but he decided that it had to be
important since he was feeling so bad.

When the memory finally came to him, Chakotay gasped in pain.
His eyes flew open and he turned toward the other bed to make
sure Tom was still there.

Seeing the empty bed, Chakotay sat up in a panic and looked
around the room. At first, he thought that he was alone, but then
he spotted the alien who was standing in the shadows. "Where's
Tom?" he demanded.

For a long time, the alien didn't speak, and when it finally did, it
was only to give an order to the computer. "Computer, beam
Commander Chakotay to his assigned quarters." Before
Chakotay could protest, or demand an answer to his question, he
was transported to the quarters he now shared with Tom.

As soon as the transporter beam released him, Chakotay glanced
around the living room where he'd arrived. When he didn't see
the pilot, he called his name. "Tom?" He didn't receive an

Now truly panicked, Chakotay rushed into the bedroom, only to
find that as empty as the living room. He checked the bathroom
and the other bedroom before he gave up and admitted that Tom
wasn't there.

Chakotay sat down on the edge of the bed and covered his face
with his hands. His thoughts tortured him. *What if that was
really Tom? And I let him fall to his death?* A small part of his
mind told him that it had only been a hallucination, and that Tom
hadn't been real. A larger part of his mind, however, was
convinced that Tom was dead and he, Chakotay, had caused it.


Tuvok looked at the expectant faces of the gathered crew. It was
clear, even to him, that they were waiting for him to tell them
what to do. Yet, he wasn't sure what could be done. Obviously
Captain Janeway ought to be relieved of duty, but since the EMH
had been left on Voyager, they couldn't do that. As long as they
were a Starfleet crew, Janeway was in command, whether they
were on the ship or not.

While Tuvok tried to think of something they could do, the rest
of the crew joined the crowd one by one. They were filled in on
what was going on by those who'd been there from the
beginning. Soon, the entire crew - with the exception of Captain
Janeway - were assembled, waiting for Tuvok's decision.

"Tuvok?" B'Elanna asked in a low voice. "You don't know what
to do, do you?"

Tuvok lifted an eyebrow. He hadn't realized that B'Elanna could
read him so well. "No, I do not," he admitted, then proceeded to
explain the problem to her and Harry. "We can't relieve the
Captain of duty. To do that, she has to be declared unfit for duty
by a doctor."

"And since Janeway left him on Voyager, that's not possible,"
B'Elanna concluded with a frown. "Isn't there anything else we
can do?"

"We have to confront Captain Janeway in order to fairly assess
the situation," Tuvok told her and Harry.

The anger flared in B'Elanna's eyes. "Who cares about that?"
she snarled quietly. "We need a way to relieve the bitch of

"Lieutenant," Tuvok said. "Should I remind you that the 'bitch'
as you say, is still the Captain of this crew? Although, I must
admit that the situation calls for such a drastic measure."

"Well, it's about time," came Dalby's voice.

Tuvok turned his attention to Dalby and the rest of the crew.
"However, I must inform you that according to Starfleet
regulations, there is nothing we can do," he told them. "As long
as we're a Starfleet crew, Captain Janeway will stay in
command. Unless you plan to start a mutiny," he added, almost
as an afterthought.

The expressions on the crewmember's faces indicated that they
were willing to mutiny if necessary. However, before anyone
could suggest that they did just that, Harry spoke up. "We don't
need to revolt," he said quietly. When every head turned towards
him, he elaborated. "We could just resign. That way we won't
*be* a Starfleet crew anymore, and Janeway wouldn't be in

"Now, who would have thought that Ensign Kim would ever say
something like that?" someone asked.

"Tom sure will be proud of him," came another voice.

"Well," came Wildman's voice of reason. "Even if we all resign,
we'll need a leader and senior staff - or council - to get

"I believe that your insight into the situation, Lieutenant Torres,
would make you an excellent leader," Tuvok said, surprising
everyone. "Furthermore, your integration into both former crews
is a valuable asset."

While B'Elanna stared utterly speechless at Tuvok, the rest of the
crew considered his words for a moment. Then, realizing he was
right, they murmured their agreement, further shocking
B'Elanna. "But... But..." she sputtered, then drew a breath and
tried again. "I'm an engineer, not a leader."

"Hey, we made Tom a field medic, and a good one at that,"
Wildman said. "We can help you become a good leader."


SicA stood by one of the biobeds, gazing at the still form lying
there. The person hadn't moved for hours, and their breathing
was barely discernable. If SicA hadn't known better, it would've
thought that it was looking at a dead body. However, this was not
the case, which was confirmed an instant later when the
individual emitted a quiet moan and shifted slightly on the bed.

SicA kept silent as it waited for the patient to open their eyes,
wondering what kind of reaction it would get when that act was