Double JeopardyPart Twelve
Kathryn waited until Lieutenant Stadii confirmed that Tom Paris had boarded the shuttle as ordered, and had announced their safe take-off, before boarding her own shuttle to Deep Space 9.
It was just bureaucratical nonsense that she was traveling alone to DS9 as befitted her rank. She would have far preferred the opportunity to speak with Tom Paris a little longer. Having been his father's aide for several years, albeit as a spy for Starfleet Central Command, she was interested in the youngster for several reasons, not all directly related to espionage.
The benefit of being alone, however, was that once they cleared Earth's atmosphere she was able to seal herself in the aft of the shuttle, away from the pilot's ears and make a call to the Enterprise. It was waiting in the shadow of Mercury, out of range of Earth Sensors but near enough that she could send a covert signal before they slipped into warp.
"Young Mr. Paris just left for Deep Space Nine," Kathryn said into her secure terminal. "I am following in the second shuttle."
"Hello, Kath," Will Riker's friendly voice replied.
"Oh, I was expecting Jean-Luc," Kathryn said, in confusion.
"He's on Earth himself, talking to the Minodan Ambassador. The Minodans are threatening to ally themselves with the Cardassians."
"I thought they were pro-Federation," Kathryn protested.
"They were, but the recent Maquis losses have made them nervous. It is obvious that someone in the Federation is undermining the Maquis, which suggests to them that the Federation sympathy for the Cardassians is stronger than is publicly acknowledged. They feel that their own vocal support of the Maquis will now act against them as Federation citizens so are playing the odds by turning 100% to the Cardassians instead."
"Damn," Kathryn cursed. "The FIA are behind it, aren't they?"
"It certainly seems that way," Will agreed.
"I don't understand what they hope to gain though," Kathryn complained.
"They are pushing us back into all out war, I think. The Federation Intelligence Agency think that it's the only solution. An all out war until the Cardassians are defeated. The Maquis resistance had started to make the Cardassians pull back and consolidate their holdings. They would have come back to the negotiation table. Now the Maquis are being defeated, the Cardassians are getting bolder. They aren't even going to settle for the original demilitarized zone this time, they are going to push for conquest."
"Which means war, and that puts the military back in charge of the Federation, and by default, the FIA since they pull the strings," Kathryn concluded bitterly.
"So Admiral Paris displaces the president in a 'necessary' military coup to defend Earth and her allies from the Cardassian threat, and when it is all over, guess who gets voted in as the new President?" Will said bitterly.
"I can't believe one man would sacrifice billions of lives on the alter of his own ambition, Will," Kathryn replied, despairingly.
"He's not the first person with god-like ambitions, Kath. The problem is that he isn't just gambling the lives of a country or even a planet, he's staking the entire quadrant just to consolidate his power. He is a ruthless and brilliant man, so clever that most people can't see what is going on under their noses. If the S.C.C. come out in support of the Maquis, though, that will escalate us into war just as quickly."
"Which is why our support has been clandestine," Kathryn agreed.
"And that brings me back to the subject of Tom Paris," Will said grimly.
Kathryn stiffened a little. In the few hours she had begun to acquaint herself with the young man she had started to develop some curiously maternal feelings towards him.
"What do you mean?" she asked calmly.
"Just that during his stay in Auckland, with the other Maquis prisoners, the Admiral's success rate in discovering the Maquis hideouts increased considerably. Enough that the prisoners themselves suspected Tom of being a spy."
"I read the report of his kangaroo trial and punishment, Will," Kathryn retorted. "I wouldn't have wished that treatment on the Admiral himself. If Tom *was* sent to Auckland as a spy, he paid the price. Besides, I don't believe it. No man would subject his own child to that kind of risk. Or a child obeying a parent who obviously despises him. I was with the Admiral when he learned what had happened and he didn't even flinch. He hates Tom with a vengeance, Will, so there is no way I can imagine Tom having any feelings of loyalty towards him."
Will nodded thoughtfully.
"I agree that it *is* beyond belief, Kath. But then again, this whole situation is bizarre. Did Tom Paris give you any trouble?" Will asked.
"Not at all," Kathryn replied. "I actually think he will report in to Voyager."
"He doesnít have the option of running, Kathryn, and I doubt he has the inclination," Will told her. "Mysources have advised me that Tom Paris underwent a small surgical operation slightly before you collected him."
"To have his intestines stitched back together from what I saw of that place," Kathryn hissed.
"No, I mean a Ďdifferentí kind of surgical procedure, Kath. We think heís been implanted with a tracking device, possibly even a bugging device."
"Look, Will. I read the reports and I know that Caldik Prime was a set up, like you suggested, but nothing else about Tom Paris suggests in any way that he is working for his father. God, Will, the things those animals in Auckland did to Tom, there is no way *any* father would allow it to happen to his own son, and if he *did*, there is no way that Tom will still be willing to work for him now."
"I know, Kathryn. Itís possible that he doesnít know about the implant. It is also possible that the accident at Caldik Prime waseither a punishment for refusing to work for intelligence or a way to give him no other options."
"You mean you think the Admiral had Tom deliberately thrown out of Starfleet?"
"I donít know. Chakotay told me that Tom had admitted working for his father, but said it was involuntary and he wanted out. Of course, we both just thought that was Tomís way of trying to save his ass after he was found out. Now I know that Owen has a deep cover operative still on board the Crazy Horse, I am wondering whether it was he or she who reported that fact to Owen."
"So, what you think is that Owen allowed everyone to throw the book at Tom because his spy told him that Tom had wanted to defect?"
"Who knows? The more I look into this spiderís web, the nastier and murkier it becomes. Sometimes I get confused about *which* division of Starfleet I am working for myself. The only sure thing, is that the spider in the centre of the web is Admiral Owen Paris. Whether Tom is working for him or not, I doubt the poor bastard has ever had much choice about his own actions. He may be aware of the implant and trying to get back in the Admiralís good books or he may simply be seen as dispensable and is unaware that he is being used. Either way, he's too dangerous. You canít afford to let him report that you allowed Chakotay to escape."
"Will, Iíve done many things in my life that Iím not proud of, because I believe in the ultimate right of our cause, but I have to tell you now that I have a severe problem with the idea of allowing Tom Paris to be terminated, just to Ďclear up loose ends.í"
"I know. Iím not comfortable with the idea myself, but he is just one man, and the lives of billions hang in the balance with this war.Whether Tom is a player or a pawn,his incarceration in Auckland has proven that his father does not value him, even if he *is* one of the Mods. It doesn't make any Tom any less dangerous though. Just remember that pretty faces often hide the ugliest souls, Kath. Maybe he never *wanted* to work for his father, but he did. God only knows what he has done for the FIA and those things change a person. Besides, he's a brilliant actor, Kath. Tom Paris deliberately seduced Chakotay. He did it so well that he broke Chakotay's heart, and believe me, Chakotay is no love-sick fool."
"Tom may not have betrayed Chakotay at all, so perhaps he didnít seduce your friend. Perhaps he simply fell in love with him. It happens, Will. Besides, Tomís beauty seems more of a burden to him than a bonus. I know my job, and Iíll do it, but I have to admit that I like the boy. Heís more like a beaten puppy than an intelligence agent. A little bit of love and discipline is all he needs. That and to be orphaned, of course."
"Yeah," Will chuckled. "I like the sound of Tom Paris as an orphan."
"Whatís a Mod?" Kathryn asked abruptly.
"Well, rumor has it that the FIA have been messing around with genetic manipulation and neural re-programming. We captured one of their agents and discovered that he had been so modified that he not only had amazing powers of regeneration, but his neural pathways had been altered so that he misinterpreted pain as being pleasure."
"Good way to prevent an agent from talking under duress," Kathryn replied, while her mind began to race.
"We managed to trace the laboratory where the work was done, but it has been closed down for about five years and all the records have been destroyed.Nevertheless, as far as we could ascertain, there are still several dozen of these Mods alive and actively working for the FIA."
"Did you have any success in reversing the modifications?" Kathryn asked quietly.
"No one tried. He was terminated, Kath. Best thing for him, under the circumstances. He hadnít simply been physically altered. He had been subjected to a program of intense conditioning that our Doctors decided wasimpossible to break without destroying his mind completely.HQ have issued a standing policy to treat these Mods as subject to the Eugenics Laws. They will all be terminated immediately they are detected. Thatís why Tom has become more 'dispensable'. People have heard about his time in Auckland and have put two and two together. They find his, shall we say Ďpeculiarí, habit of surviving and even perhaps Ďenjoyingí physical assaults on his person,to be highly suspect."
Kathrynís eyes flashed to Willís face. What she read in his eyes was what she feared she would see.
"Of course," she replied carefully. "It would be ludicrous to even suggest such a thing about Tom Paris. *No* man would do that to his own child. Besides, given his age, and the fact that the lab has been closed for 5 years,any modifications would have been done when he was still little more than a child, so whether they were done under duress *or* he agreed to them, they would count as an assault on him that he would be blameless of. "
"It doesnít matter, Kathryn. Ultimately, Tom is Owenís son. The blood of that wolf runs in the cubís veins and there are a lot of people who want to see the Paris bloodline end here and now. Iím not suggesting you should kill him Kathryn, Iím just pointing out, that whether he is innocent or guilty of being an FIA Agent, it is almost certain that he is a Mod, so his termination is inevitable. Donít feel guilty if you have to kill him to Ďtie up loose endsí. Tom Paris is already dead, he just doesnít know it yet."
"Dammit, Will. When did we become the same heartless bastards as we are supposed to be protecting the Federation from?" Kathryn snarled.
"When the body count in this war hit the billion mark and kept growing, Kath.Itís become a numbers game, thatís all."
"Oh yeah? Well, Iíll tell you what I think, William Riker. Unless we remember that each and every one of those billion was just a single being whose life and dreams and hopes were important, then we have forgotten *why* we are fighting at all. If a single life is worth nothing, then a billion lives are worth a billion times nothing, and that is STILL nothing."
Will bit his lower lip, his blue eyes echoing a reflection of her distress over the probable fate of Owen Parisís son.
"Perhaps the best thing would be to let the Ďrenegadeí Chakotay take Tom with him when he Ďescapesí
"So that *I* don't have to pull the trigger myself you mean?" she accused.
Will nodded sadly.
"I'm not that much of a coward, Will. I am going to do everything in my power to protect Tom, from himself and from a Universe that seems to have a vested interest in seeing him dead. But, if I fail, and he *does* have to die, then I will damned well do it myself. If the best I can offer Tom is a clean death, then that's what I'll give him. For once in his life, someone is going to care for him at least *that* much," Kathryn vowed.
"You'd best report to the Commander," Lieutenant Stadii told Tom as they docked in Deep Space Nine.
Tom checked the time. It was only a little after 1600.
"Captain Janeway said I didn't have to report until 1800," he replied defiantly.
"Cavit won't appreciate you keeping him waiting," she said slyly.
The color drained from Tom's face.
"Cavit?" he muttered.
"He told me you'd met," she smirked.
Tom swallowed dryly. Sure they'd "met". At Caldik Prime. When Cavit had been the man who had beaten him until he looked like he *had* been in the crash after all. His dad sure wasn't leaving anything to chance. Between Janeway and Cavit, he was assured his "escape" with Seska back to Gul Dukat. The only problem was, knowing Cavit, he'd spend the interim couple of weeks being buggered senseless by the First Officer.
Cavit was well aware of his modifications. He knew exactly how to turn Tom into a lust-craved pain slut. Tom's prayer for just a few days of peace before Dukat had just turned to ashes.
Still, he was too well-trained to let any of his terror show on his face. He had two hours of freedom and a little money. Fuck Janeway, he would turn up stinking drunk after all. Why not? Nothing he could do could possibly make his situation any worse, and for two hours, at least, he could pretend to be free.
"Haven't you heard the expression 'absence makes the heart grow fonder?'" he asked Stadii with a cool smirk. "Tell him I will report 'as ordered' at 1800."
"Haven't you heard? Cavit doesn't have a heart," she replied, but there was a little grudging respect in her eyes for his cool insouciant manner.
Tom crouched miserably at the bar. How the fuck had prices gone up so much in just a year? The money Kathryn had given him couldn't even get an underweight guy like him merry, let alone drunk, despite his long involuntary abstention from alcohol. His peculiar metabolism processed the effects of alcohol so quickly that it was impossible to go on a blinder, anyway, but he had hoped for a temporary haze, at least.
Instead the couple of scotches that he could afford did no more, on top of his still full stomach, than give his throat a mild burn.
At least the entertainment was free. The odious barkeep, a Ferengi, was hustling some Starfleet kid at the end of the bar. The youngster was an Ensign according to his insignia, but must have been fresh out of the Academy because he was so naive it was almost frightening.
The thought of the Academy, and his own stolen innocence, made Tom close his eyes in pain. For a moment, he hated the young Ensign for having been allowed to have a normal life, for being allowed to stay so green behind the ears.
'It's not my problem,' he told himself. 'I have enough shit in my life without going out of my way for someone who will just despise me when I tell him my name.'
He raised his scotch to his lips again, determined to savor this last bitter taste of freedom. He *wasn't* going to get involved. He *knew* this Ensign would be like all the rest. Would hate him, use him, turn on him. No one ever had stepped out to help Tom Paris. Even Chakotay had smiled at his face and then knifed him in the back. The memory made him choke a little.
What the fuck was he doing here? He was preparing to lead Janeway and Cavit to Chakotay just so that he could finally end his own life in Dukat's hands. He was going to betray the only person that he had ever loved, just to obey a father who had always hated him.
'He betrayed *you*. He sold you out. Chakotay *sent* you to Auckland,' he reminded himself firmly. 'But you betrayed *him*. You were assigned to make him fall in love with you. Of course he hated you for that, hated you for being just a slut with a secret agenda,' another voice argued in his head.
If only for one moment he could remember Chakotay's face smiling at him without him remembering that the love had turned to disgust and hate. If only he had one memory of dark eyes looking at him with love and affection to take with him into the hell that awaited him.
He slammed the glass down on the table and marched down the bar to rescue the hapless ensign with the big brown, almost familiar, eyes.