The Paris Assassination By Daniela SignorLieutenant Tom Paris looked without interest at the occupants of the room. Not surprising at that time of night, or morning to be precise, Paris was surrounded only by holocharacters. He turned back to the woman behind the bar.
" Thanks for another wonderful evening, Sandrine. " he states as he stands up.
" Qui Thomas but now it is time for you to sleep, non. "
" Yes. " answered Tom as he reached over the counter, lifting Sandrine's hand up to his lips to be gently kissed.
" Bon soir ....... Computer, end program. "
The French tavern faded away to the holodeck grid, and Paris moved to the exit, walking slowly along the corridors as he headed for his quarters.
The ship was quiet and Paris met no one as he strolled along. He was turning into another corridor when he heard a noise behind him, looking back he noticed the door to the crew's kitchen just closing. Wondering if Neelix or Kes were still up he retraced his steps.
The mess room was dark and quiet, no sign of Neelix or Kes and no one was raiding the fridge. Not that Tom thought any one would ever want to raid Neelix's fridge, Tom chuckled softly in the quiet room. Realising he must of been mistaken he turned to leave.
Out of the corner of his eye, he sensed sudden movement but before he could move, a blow knocked him to the ground. Pain erupted in his back as he felt a knife thrust into him, then pulled out and pushed in again ...... and again ....... the world faded away as Paris realised in shock, some one was killing him, stabbing him to death.
It was the pain that drew him back, he stirred crying out, unable to gather his strength, feeling so weak. He didn't know where his attacker was but he knew he didn't have much time left. His hand, where it lay above him, slowly moved as Paris concentrated only on his hand, ignoring the pain and growing weakness he felt. Slowly he pulled his hand down, past his face, his shoulders until his probing fingers felt the hard metal of his comm badge. He tapped it.
" Doc ..... tor, " he gasped. " EMH ....... Activate. "
The computer manages to decipher his call and a normal calm tone responded.
" Please state the nature of the medical emergency. "
" Doc ....... It's Paris ....... Need help! "
The effort was too much for Paris, once again awareness faded and he slipped into unconsciousness.
" Mr Paris, what is the problem? ....... Mr Paris ...... lieutenant? "
The EMH was getting as annoyed as he was able too.
" Computer, locate Lt. Paris. "
" Lt. Paris is currently in the crew's mess room. "
" Eating at this time of night, really ...... Computer, medical status of Mr Paris. "
" Critical. "
The doctor paused shocked but quickly moved into action.
" Medical emergency, beam Mr Paris directly to biobed one. "
The EMH was already walking towards it, a medical tricorder ready when Tom's form appeared on the bed.
The doctor worked hurriedly over the next hour, stabilising Paris and repairing the damage done. Finally Paris was no longer critical and the doctor followed his programming for similar situations.
" High level quarantine field activate on biobed one, security coded. EMH to the Captain. "
After a few moments the Captain answered, her voice husky from having just been woken.
" Yes Doctor. "
" I must report to you an attack on Lt. Paris. "
" Tom! Attack! What kind of attack? "
" From the wounds, I would state that one person tried to kill him. "
" Damn, how is he? "
" Stable at the moment and resting in a quarantine field. "
" Quarantine field? "
" Yes, it is the safest place, should the attacker wish to finish the job, as they say. "
The doctor was proud of his usage of a more casual phrase, peeved when the captain did not complement him on it.
" Of course .... I'll be there immediately, do not let anyone near him. "
" Very well Captain but my patient is sedated. He cannot answer any questions. "
" Understood, Janeway out. "
Janeway stumbled from her bed in a state of shock. A murder attempt had been made, on her ship, on her pilot! She quickly pulled herself together, there were things that had to be done and firstly was Tom's safety.
" Janeway to Tuvok. "
Tuvok answered immediately, his voice steady and alert.
" Yes Captain. "
" I want security to the sickbay immediately, no one is allowed access to the quarantine area except the doctor. An attack was made on Lieutenant Paris' life tonight. I want you to start an investigation immediately. "
" Yes Captain. "
By this time, Janeway was dressed and on her way to the sickbay. She tapped her commicator once more.
" Janeway to Chakotay. "
" I'm awake, barely Captain. " Came the mumbled response.
" Met me in sickbay immediately. "
" On my way. "
Janeway was standing just outside the quarantine field when Chakotay joined her. Before them on biobed one lay the still figure of Mr Paris. His face alarmingly pale and his breathing slow and shallow, but he was alive.
" What happen to Paris? " Chakotay quietly asked.
" That's what we need to find out. "
" What do you mean? "
" Some one tried to kill him tonight Commander, and they very nearly succeeded. " Janeway harshly answered.
" What! But how, when, why? "
" I'm expecting Tuvok soon, we'll go over what we know then. "
Ten minutes later, ten minutes spent watching the still form of a man barely breathing, Tuvok arrived.
" The attack occurred in the crew's mess room, as a common room it has minimum sensors. I was able to learn that at 02:29, Mr Paris initiated a call to the EMH, the doctor responded but received no additional transmission from Mr Paris. A sensor scan by the doctor revealed his condition and Mr Paris was beamed directly here, where he was treated solely by the doctor. The computer records him entering the crew's mess room at 01:57. The last activity from that room was Neelix leaving at 21:26. No other record of a person entering or leaving is recorded. "
" Internal room scans? " Chakotay asked.
" Some jamming device was used. No sensor readings are received for a period of 20 minutes. "
" The room? " queried Janeway.
" Sealed, I have only checked routine security records. I will investigate all aspects as they develop. "
Two security guards arrived.
" If you will excuse me, Captain. I will brief my staff. "
" Certainly Tuvok ...... Well Chakotay, any ideas who? "
" No I'm sorry Captain but after all these months ...... I don't know who hates Paris that much. There had been no crew violations regarding Paris in months. "
" But there has been some? "
" Captain .... He was the least liked man on the ship. "
" I hadn't realised relations were so severe. "
" They aren't now and only a few incidents during the early days escalated to violence. "
" I want you to look into each and every incident again. It looks like some one has been holding a grudge. "
" Yes Captain. "
" Security is fully in place. "
" Good .... This ship is too small to keep this quiet. I'll have to make an announcement in the morning before the rumours get out of hand. But the best solution is finding out the truth. I want this person caught soon before he or she does any more damage. I want full reports at the normal morning meeting. All senior staff can be briefed then. Dismissed. "
Chakotay and Tuvok left sickbay. Janeway took one more look at Paris' unmoving body then turned to the doctor.
" Inform me as soon as he wakes or at any change in his condition. " She ordered.
" Yes Captain. "
Janeway exited, passing the two security guards with a nod.
Ensign Harry Kim heard about his friend Tom when he found out he couldn't have his breakfast in the mess room. He was soon running towards sickbay. He was arguing with the security guards when Lt. B'Elanna Torres appeared around a corner, walking fast.
" How is he, Harry? " She asked.
" I don't know, I can't get in. " He answered, frustrated.
Torres turned to the guards.
" What's going on? "
" Access is restricted, Lieutenant. "
" I gathered that, " Torres sarcastically replied, " to who? "
" All except medical cases, the Captain, First Officer, Chief of Security and Kes. "
" Why? " Kim asked, " What happened to Tom? All I heard was that something happened in the mess room and that Tom ended up here. "
" I can't add anything, Ensign. " One of the guards replied.
" Harry, come on. The morning meeting will start soon, we'll find out more there, " urged Torres.
" Ok .... Just one thing, can either of you tell me how Tom is? "
The same guard answered, seeing Harry's concern, " I heard the doctor tell the captain that he was stable, that's it. "
" Thanks. " Kim nodded gratefully, before hurrying after Torres.
The morning meetings were generally only about 10 minutes, each department simply reporting on their status. Janeway had started these meetings as a way to help all the crew feel a greater part of Voyager's new mission to get them all home. Today's meeting went longer.
Each person was trying to find out who had attacked Paris, for the Captain had given them a brief outline of the night's events. Each person in the end, trying to decide if it was the Marquis or Starfleet who had tried to kill Paris. Finally Janeway dismissed everyone except for Chakotay and Tuvok. She called the doctor to render his report.
" Lieutenant Paris was struck seven times by a sharp thin object. The shape of the wounds match the item given to me by Mr Tuvok, as did the blood sample. "
" What object? " Janeway interrupted.
" A kitchen knife found on the mess room floor. "
" Very well ..... go on doctor. "
" Thank you so much. The angle and depth of the wounds support the fact that only one person inflicted all seven wounds. The intent was definitely to kill, not to wound. One wound was inflicted while Mr Paris was parallel to the attacker, say both were standing. The other six at right angles, for example Mr Paris lying flat and the attacker upright. The attacker is right-handed and about 1.7 metres tall. No foreign substances were found on either Mr Paris or the knife. He is in a stable condition and should recover fully in a few days. He will regain consciousness within the next 3 hours. "
" Thank you doctor. "
The doctor's image disappeared from the view screen and Janeway turned back to face the others.
" Tuvok, your report. "
" The weapon was found near to where Mr Paris fell to the floor. Analysis show only that within the last 24 hours, Neelix and Kes alone have touched the knife. Neelix has stated that both he and Kes used the knife yesterday and when Neelix left, the mess room was empty and the knife resting in plain view on his kitchen work bench. More detailed sensor readings have not shed any further light on who was in the mess room with Mr Paris. Interior sensors were blocked and door sensors pick up only Mr Paris. "
" What was Paris doing in the mess room that late? " Chakotay asked.
" Mr Paris had just exited the holodeck program, I assume he was walking back to his cabin. I cannot explain why he entered the mess room. "
" What about ships sensor? Could whoever attack Mr Paris come from another ship? "
" No ships were detected on sensors last night. " answered Chakotay.
" Nor did the sensors detected any alien life on board. " Tuvok added.
" So we must assume that it was one of the crew that attacked Tom. "
" Yes, Captain. " Chakotay answered. " I've been though my logs and listed every member of the crew reported to have had an altercation with Paris, both on and off the record. "
" Who did Mr Paris report personally? " Tuvok asked.
" None, the only reports I've had from Paris were regarding violations of starfleet regulations. "
" Anything there? " Janeway asked.
" No, I don't think so, " Chakotay suddenly thrust a hand through his hair and exploded, " I've been reading my logs since I had left the sickbay and no-one I came across struck me as a murderer. I can't believe one of our crew would do this, with no warning ......... so cold-bloodedly. "
He stood abruptly and strode to a porthole, looking out at the passing stars, taking a few calming breaths before resuming his seat.
" I'm sorry Captain, it hasn't been fun trying to find out who in the crew would want to kill Paris. "
" I understand, Commander. None of this has been easy on any of us. Do you have anything to add? "
" I added these two crewmen names to the list, rumours from when we first came on board. I've left the computer running a search for any incident in Mr Paris' past that may involve any member of the crew. That should complete in 5 hours. "
" Good. Tuvok, interview those on the list and Chakotay, see if anything happened in the last few days. Anything that may have precipitated this attack. "
" Yes Captain. " They replied.
" I can't believe it, I just can't believe it! " Kim stated.
" I know it's hard ......... but it is Tom. " Torres replied.
" What do you mean, it's Tom. "
" Well, I know some of the marquis aren't that happy with him, he was sent to help hunt us down, that doesn't really make friends. "
" We were all sent. " Kim protested.
" Yes but only Tom had once been one of us ..... Look all I'm saying is I know there are some hard feelings between Tom and the marquis. "
" I know ..... I remember my first days on board Voyager, some of the starfleet personnel weren't that happy having him on board. Damn, it could have been anyone. " Kim concluded sadly.
" It wasn't us. " Torres smiled slightly.
" No, it wasn't us. Come on, let's go to sickbay, the doctor can come to the door and tell us how's Tom doing. "
The two left the temporary mess room, stopping at the sickbay on the way back to their duty stations.
Tension on the ship rose during the morning, every one wondering who the attacker was and even wondering why. Paris had never been popular but over the last months most crew members had began to think of him as Paris, their pilot, not as an ex-starfleet, ex-marquis or ex-convict. Finally the news quickly spread, Paris was awake. Now every one would find out who had attack him.
" I'm sorry Captain, " Paris quietly stated, " I didn't see a thing. I've no idea who did this. "
" Mr Paris, can you tell us what you do remember from last night? " Tuvok asked.
" Sandrine's was empty, it was late so I headed for my room. I didn't see anyone on the way but just as I past the mess room I thought I saw the door close. I thought Neelix or Kes were still awake so I went in to see, to say goodnight I guess. It was dark and quiet, no one around, thought I was wrong about the door, so I turned to leave. That's when it happened. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, so I started to turn and then something slammed into my back, knocking me to the ground. ............. I blacked out. That's it. "
" Did the person say anything, did you hear any noise, smell anything? " prodded Tuvok.
Paris thought back, " No ........ nothing. " He shivered at the memory. " No sound at all. "
" Mr Paris, " Chakotay began, then hesitated, " Can you think of anyone who would want you dead? "
" Oh, apart from members of Starfleet and the Marquis, no! " Paris harshly answered.
" Nothing has happened over the last weeks? " Chakotay persisted.
" No Commander. Look, since I woke up that's all I've been thinking of, who hates me this much. I've been hated that much before, I know what it looks like in somebody's eyes and I haven't seen it here on Voyager. "
A stark silence fell as an agitated Paris tried to remain in control, to slow his breathing. When he was calm again, Tuvok asked,
" What about when you contacted the doctor? "
" The pain woke me, the room was still dark and I had no idea where my attacker was. I managed to activate my com badge, call for the doc, then I blacked out again. There's nothing else until I woke here in sickbay. "
" There's nothing else you remember Tom? " Janeway asked.
Paris looked at her, " Captain, believe me. If I knew anything I'd tell you. I do not want to die ....... but I have no idea who did this! "
" That's enough. " The doctor interrupted. " Mr Paris needs stress free rest if he is to recover fully. "
" Alright doctor. Mr Paris, call me if you remember anything. "
" Yes Captain. "
The news quickly spread through out the ship, that Tom Paris hadn't seen his attacker, that he didn't know who it was. The crew began keeping to themselves, or with who they perceived as their own kind, starfleet or marquis. Harry and B'Elanna sat together for dinner in a quiet and tense room.
" Do you realise that apart from the Captain and Commander, we are the only starfleet and maquis sitting together. " Kim quietly observed.
" Yes, it's not hard to notice. I've spent the morning with most of my starfleet crew on the edge of insubordination while the marquis have taken to travelling around in pairs. It's ridiculous. "
" I know but still I feel a bit uncomfortable walking around by myself. "
" Don't worry Harry, being Tom's best friend at least puts you out of the guessing pool for being his attacker. " Torres commented.
" Still doesn't get me into the sickbay to see him. " complained Kim as they continued with their meal.
The attacker stood just outside the quarantine field, watching Paris sleep. He would have preferred it if the man was dead but injured could also satisfy his requirements, but if the man recovered, he would die.
In the morning, Tuvok continued his investigation, beginning with a sensor check on Mr Paris and his location. He immediately detected the 5 minute blackout of the sickbay sensors.
" Tuvok to the Doctor. "
" Yes Mr Tuvok. "
" What is Mr Paris's status? "
" Recovering as predicted. "
" Can you check your medical logs for the time 1.39 to 1.44 and forward the information to me immediately. "
" Certainly, but I don't see why, I told you Mr Paris is fine, " grumbled the doctor as he did as Tuvok asked.
Tuvok run a complete ship wide sensor scan for those 5 minutes but could not detect any other anomalies. Later that morning Tuvok informed the Captain and First Officer of his findings.
" Firstly a similar sensor blackout that occurred when Mr Paris was attack, happened again last night. "
" What? " Chakotay exclaimed.
" A 5 minute blackout in the sickbay. Mr Paris was not harmed nor the quarantine field affected. "
" How did some one get into sickbay? " Janeway demanded.
" I have no evidence that some one was indeed inside the sickbay, no doors opened, the security guards saw no one and I found no foreign objects in sickbay. "
" Just like the mess room. " Chakotay concluded.
" Yes, I must admit I have not been able to identify the method used to block our scanners or how the attacker entered or exited the room. "
Janeway shook her head in frustration,
" We need answers and we need them now. The crew are becoming suspicious of every one. Damn, what about your other avenues? Have you found any one in the crew who wants Tom dead. "
" I have spoken to everyone on the list supplied by the Commander, " Tuvok reported, " and I have not found anyone still retaining a strong hatred for Mr Paris. No events in the last weeks concerning Mr Paris have been of an argumentative nature. There was an incident on Mr Paris' last away mission concerning Ensign Gervan, I have not yet had the chance to speak to him about it. "
" Gervan? " Chakotay echoed, " I think I know what it was about. I ... uh .... have spoken casually with all the former marquis. Gervan told me how much his attitude towards Paris has changed, how on the last away team, he manage to corner Paris and ask his advice on a personal matter. He sees Lt. Paris as a sort of neutral figure, not all starfleet and not all marquis, but still someone who knows both areas well. I don't believe their discussion was of an confrontation nature. "
" This fits with the details I received from the other away team members, that Lt Paris and Ensign Gervan were more relaxed after their private talk. " Tuvok added.
" What was the personal matter? " Janeway asked.
" I didn't ask Captain, but since Gervan felt that Paris could help, I would think it had something to do with a relationship or something not quite legal. " Chakotay ended, smiling slightly.
" You're both probably right but I would like you, Tuvok to talk to them both about this matter, just to make certain. "
" Yes Captain. "
" And Mr Tuvok, I want security guards inside sickbay as well. "
" Yes Captain. "
Paris was kept in sickbay for three more days without any incidents occurring, visited only by Harry and B'Elanna. Tension on the ship slowly went down as the normal routines continued. To help bring this back to normal, the senior staff acted in different ways, Torres had ordered a complete maintenance check in engineering, Tuvok had a number of security drills, Chakotay casually wandered the ship, checking on various areas and Janeway made it a point to appear in Sandrine's each evening. Finally Paris was allowed to return to his quarters, still off duty and still with a security escort. An hour later, Voyager was rocked by an explosion.
" An explosion on level 4, corridor 18, " reported Kim, " Hull breech in cabin 6 ...... that's Tom's room! "
" Tuvok to Macbain, Tuvok to Lutoko. " No response.
" Repair crew to level 4. " Chakotay ordered.
" Janeway to Paris." No response.
" There is no answer from security assigned to guard Mr Paris, Captain. " Tuvok informed her.
" No answer from Tom either. " Janeway added.
" I have a repair crew on the way, structural damage to the hull, to cabin 6 and all surrounding areas but the forcefield is in place and holding closed the hull breech. " reported Chakotay.
" Sensors show ......... one dead, three wounded. " Kim reported shakily, " all have been transported to sickbay. "
" Who are they? " Janeway demanded.
" The doctor is occupied, I have no identification as yet. "
" Commander, oversee the repairs. Tuvok, find out what caused this explosion. I'll be in sickbay. "
Janeway stood and left the bridge.
Janeway found herself halting just outside the sickbay door, unwilling to go in, unwilling to find out who of her crew was dead. She hated it whenever someone in her command died but if it was Tom. She hadn't been sure she wanted an ex-marquis on her ship, even Admiral Paris' son, but when she had met him at the New Zealand penal settlement, she had know. This man could help, could be a benefit to her crew and mission, and so he had proved to be. But now someone wanted him dead and they may have succeeded.
Squaring her shoulders, giving her hair a little pat, Captain Janeway marched into sickbay. The doctor and Kes were working hard over someone in the operating room, a woman was all Janeway could identify. She turned to see a covered body on one of the biobeds. She walked over and lifted the covers.
" He's dead because of me. " A voice coldly stated from behind her.
Janeway felt the relief of seeing someone else's face leave her as she looked down again at Mr Macbain, one of Tuvok's security people. She turned to find Tom Paris sitting on the next biobed, half his face peppered with small cuts, his left arm in a sling and a bandage on his left thigh.
" Mr Paris, " her gaze moved to the next bed, " Lutoko, I'm glad to see you both are all right. I'm sorry about Mr Macbain, he was a good crewman. Can you tell me what happened? "
" My room went KABOOM! " Paris sarcastically stated. As Janeway remained silent, Paris finally continued, " I was in the bathroom, I didn't see anything. My unlucky guards were outside in the corridor and Mira, she was just in her cabin, the one beneath mine, when my floor collapsed on her. " Paris ended as he glanced at the doctor still operating in the next room. He continued in an old familiar vein,
" I did not see anyone, I did not hear anything, I did not smell anything. I have no idea who wants me dead, so dead, " his voice began to rise, " that he or she are willing to blow a hole in the side of Voyager to do it. "
At the end of his outburst, he pushed down from the biobed and strode from the room, only slightly favouring his leg, ignoring Janeway's calls.
" The lieutenant's upset. " A voice quietly stated. Janeway turned back to the biobed to find Lutoko watching her.
" Yes, I understand. No one likes thinking that some one wants them dead. "
" No, not about that, about Macbain. The explosion knocked the door down, both Macbain and I were pulled into the cabin when the hull breeched. We were being pulled to the breech when Mr Paris saw us from the bathroom. He was safe there but he come out, grabbed onto us both and just held on. Macbain was too heavy and Mr Paris didn't have a good grip, Macbain slipped from his fingers, slamming into the breech just as the forcefield came down, the shock killed him. I think Mr Paris feels guilty that Macbain died and that we were hurt ............ that's why he's upset. "
" Thank you for explaining Lutoko .......... Get some rest. " Janeway quietly advised.
" Aye Captain. "
In a way the tension on Voyager changed, Macbain had been starfleet as was Mira, while Lutoko was marquis, the crew now knew that they dealt with a mad man, who wanted Paris dead for his own reasons not because he had once been maquis or starfleet. Fear rose instead at the attacker's lack of concern for the ship or other crewmen but now friends remained friends. Small groups gathered to talk, looking over their shoulders for who might be listening as the latest information spread through the corridors. The bomb had been made from material located throughout the ship, all different areas, so some one or perhaps a group of people were involved.
Paris had met up with two new security guards when he left sickbay and though he tried to refuse their presence, Janeway insisted. Since Paris' room was destroyed and Tuvok felt a more secure area was needed, Paris was to spend his nights in the brig. Being back in a cell didn't help Paris' attitude, he became solitary and distant, refusing to talk with either Harry or B'Elanna. Later that night, the ship barely recovered from the explosion, Tuvok was awaken by an alarm. He had ordered the computer to continuously scan the ship for any interference matching the record of the sensor block used by Paris' attacker. The computer had detected some interference and was alerting Tuvok.
Tuvok hurried over to his console and called up the location of the interference, it was in the brig. He attempted to contact the brig but received no answer, so contacting security he left his cabin, making his way quickly to the brig. He reached it just as the additional security guards did and together they entered the brig cautiously. They found crewman Woemin, unconscious and the cell Paris had been using empty.
" Tuvok to the Captain and Commander Chakotay. "
" Yes Mr Tuvok. " " Tuvok. " They answered.
" Mr Paris is no longer in the brig. I do not believe he left voluntarily. "
" On our way. " Janeway replied.
Paris had began to stir after hearing a bump, the sound of something large dropping but before he could fully awaken, some one grabbed him, pushing him faced down on the cot and he felt the edge of a knife pushed into his back. His mind flashed back to the first attack, to the pain and shock. He froze, this was it, this time the person who wanted him dead would make sure he didn't wake up. Where was security? Had some one else died because of him again, maybe it would be a relief to have it finally over. But the knife wasn't plunged into him, instead his hands were pulled behind him, firmly tied and a cloth thrown over his head, blinding him. He was pulled up from the cot and dragged from the cell. As he stumbled out he tripped and fell to the ground, landing on something soft. In shock he realised it was Woemin, his breath rushed out when he realised she was still breathing.
" What have you done to Woemin? WHO ARE YOU? " Paris demanded as his attacker dragged him to his feet. He received only silence as his answer.
" Who are you? Why are you doing this? " Paris continued to ask, demanding an answer. This time he received one, he couldn't see it coming but he felt it as a blow landed across his face, the force of it knocking him to the ground. As he was pushed and shoved along the corridors, Paris continued to ask questions, he had to know who it was that hated him so much, that wanted him dead but his only answer were more blows.
A push from behind sent him crushing into a wall, as he sank to the ground, the cloth covering his face snagged on something and slowly lifted from his head. The light of the corridor hurts his eyes, one eye already puffed and closing from the beating he had received but the other eye slowly focusing. He was grabbed before he could turn his head to look at his attacker and pushed up against the wall. The cloth completely lost as he was pulled towards a door. As they moved Paris finally caught a glimpse of his attacker reflected in the walls panelling. As he was thrust into a disused room and the door sealed behind him, only one image stood before him, the shadowy outline of a face, a tattoed face.
The captain and commander entered the brig to find Tuvok working rapidly over the console. He began speaking as soon as they entered, not looking up from the console.
" I left the internal ship scanners actively searching for the strange interference, the alarm sounded 8 minutes ago, informing me that some had been detected here. I found the security officer assigned to Mr Paris unconscious, having been attacked and Mr Paris gone. I am attempting to track down Mr Paris by using his attacker's jamming method as a trail. " Tuvok broke off for a moment, his hands coming to rest on the console.
" The jamming is more wide spread this time, it has block out all sensor readings from here down to deck 14, most of deck 14 is offline and closed but I believe this is where we will find Mr Paris. "
" Very well, I want a full scale search of that deck now! " Janeway ordered.
Groups of searchers arrived at one end of deck 14 and began to spread forward, checking each room for any sign of Paris. Unfortunately for Tom, he was located near the opposite end of the searchers starting point. He was injured, not fully recovered from his previous wounds and locked in a cabin, an old disused cabin where the oxygen was quickly running out.
Tom felt his lungs beginning to burn, his one good eye seeing only an encroaching darkness and none of this mattered. He would be dead soon and a part of him rejoiced, for he didn't want to confront the truth he now knew. A man with a tattooed face wanted him dead above all things and that man could only be Chakotay.
Once again Paris was saved on the slimmest of circumstances, two crewmen coming late to the search had began at the other end of the deck 14, planning to met the others near the middle. They quickly spotted the cloth that had covered Paris' face and found the sealed cabin, the lock having been fused. The others were summoned and the door was open using a laser. Tuvok entered the cabin, coughing on the stale air to find Paris' body lying still on the floor. He quickly checked Mr Paris condition and finding him just breathing, had them beamed to the sickbay.
Again the doctor gave a report to the Captain.
" Mr Paris was beaten around the face and head, he suffered asphyxiation and carbon monoxide poisoning but has responded well to the treatment given his overall condition over the last weeks. He will recover fully this time but I must warn you, if he is not given the chance to recover before being assaulted again there may be permanent damage, there is only so far a human body can be repaired. He is conscious now. "
" Thank you Doctor, we are doing our best to see that Tom gets his chance to recover fully. " Janeway turned off the view screen.
" Mr Tuvok, " Janeway wearily stated, " question Mr Paris again and this time I want two guards stationed next to Tom at all times and two more patrolling the area. "
" Understood Captain. "
Tuvok left and made his way to sickbay where he found Paris resting on a biobed, staring blindly at the wall.
" Mr Paris, I need to ask you a few questions? "
" What bloody for, Tuvok. It's the same old story, I didn't hear anything, I didn't smell anything and I didn't ....... see anything. Some one wants me dead, he doesn't seem to be having much luck, but he just keeps trying any way, he must be mad. "
Tuvok had noticed Paris' slight hesitation regarding not having seen anything and his fervid belief that his attacker was mad.
" You are certain you didn't see anything? "
Paris jumped down from the biobed, he grabbed the side for a moment, dizzy but it quickly passed.
" I told you Tuvok, I didn't see anything. I don't know who wants to kill me. I don't know why! OKAY! Well, that should end the questions for this latest attempt on my life. I'm tired, I want to rest while I can. Where have you put me now? "
" The brig is still our most secure location. "
" Great, just like old times. "
Paris quickly walked off, followed by his guards who he ignored. Tuvok noted his strange behaviour and went directly to report to the captain and commander. Paris sat in his cell, wondering why he had protected Chakotay, but remembering that he had only the flimsiest of evidence and how much damage that kind of evidence can do, as it had done to him, once in the past.
" Though Mr Paris denies it, I am sure that he saw something in this last attack, that he now has an idea who is attacking him. "
" Why would he not tell us? " Janeway asked.
" I can only conclude that he is trying to protect this man. "
" But why? " Chakotay asked.
" Human emotions, " was the only explanation Tuvok offered.
Janeway tried to talk to Paris but found him surly and reclusive, refusing to add anything to his earlier report. Paris flatly refused to speak to Chakotay. He remained secluded in the brig, not welcoming any visitors or touching any of the meals Neelix prepared specially for him. Tom had spent the day planning and now he knew he would end things this night, once and for all.
Paris' time in prison had taught him many things and two of these things, was how to escape a cell and how to elude guards. Using this Paris was able to leave the brig and his guards unnoticed, it was made easier he admitted to himself when the guards were there to protect rather than guard. He made his way through the corridors quietly and secretly. He stopped briefly to use a computer access panel, then hurried quickly along the corridors, making sure that he wasn't seen, should any of the crew still be wandering around this early in this morning. Finally he reached his destination, the holodeck.
The annoying noise continued even through Chakotay tried very hard to ignore it, finally he was forced to open his eyes and listened. He recognised the beeping from the computer announcing an urgent message waiting for him. He was forced to respond, sitting up he ordered, " Computer lights. "
He winced at the sudden brightness.
" Reduce by 75% "
The softer glow was better.
" Time? "
" 3.45. " The computer responded.
" Damn ............... computer acknowledge message. "
The beeping finally stopped. Chakotay reached out and grabbed the data pad he had left beside his bed.
" Computer display message. "
One short line appeared on his screen.
' I'll be in Sandrine's. '
It wasn't signed but Chakotay knew who it was from but what was Paris doing in the holodeck at this time of the morning when only Paris and his guards were awake. Chakotay looked at the message again and suddenly had a very uneasy feeling, Paris had written he would been in Sandrine's, no one else was mentioned. Chakotay was up and hurriedly getting dressed at the sudden thought that Paris was alone and unprotected. He tapped his com badge as he rushed out of the room on his way to the holodeck.
" Chakotay to Paris. " No answer
" Chakotay to the brig. "
" Brig here, " was the immediate response.
" Do you have Mr Paris? "
" Yes Commander, he's here sleeping. "
" Wake him, I want to talk to him now. " Chakotay ordered.
" Yes sir. " A few moments passed then the guard was back.
" He's g ...... gone! " the voice suddenly stuttered.
" I'm sorry Commander, I don't know how he did it, but he's not here. "
" He's in one of the holodecks, find and secure him immediately. I'm on my way there now. "
" Yes Commander. "
Chakotay rushed through the corridors, afraid for Paris and wondering why, why he had slipped out on those guarding him and why Tom had sent him that message. The answers were in Sandrine's, Chakotay increased his pace.
Paris sat at the bar, nursing a drink, a few holocharacters were wandering around and playing pool. Suddenly even though the doors hadn't open, some one else was in the room. Some one holding a large instrument, something out of engineering by the looks of it. The person crept silently up behind Paris, lifted his weapon and swung it with all his strength at Paris' head. There was a sickening crunch as the blow shattered Paris' skull and he tumbled to the ground dead. The attacker looked down at the unmoving body, satisfied that he had done what he had come for, killed Paris. But he had tried before only to have the man healed, he knelt down reaching out to make sure, dropping the weapon he held and brought his hands to rest just above the body. The silence lengthened then suddenly for the first time the attacker made a sound. A cry of rage erupted from him, he didn't know what was dead before him, he knew only that it was not Paris.
" Sorry, " a voice suddenly broke the silence as one of the people playing pool removed his hat and coat to reveal the starfleet uniform beneath, " but you just killed a holocharacter. "
The attacker swung around and Paris saw his face clearly for the first time. A tattoo covered the face completely, the face of a stranger, of an alien. Intense relief flooded Paris as he realised Chakotay didn't want him dead, that no one on Voyager wanted him dead.
The alien rushed forward but Paris was ready and quickly brought up his right hand that held a phaser set to maximum stun, he fired point blank at the charging alien, only to watch in shock as the beam passed completely and harmlessly through the alien's body. This wasn't part of his grand plan. The alien reached him and lifting both hands, brought his palms to rest on Paris' temples before he had the chance to move. Tom's mind was invaded by the alien's mind, stopping all thought as slowly the hands of the alien sank into Paris' head, merging with his body. In that moment that they joined Paris knew WHY. Why the alien wanted him dead, how it had reached Paris again and again, how it had enter the ship without any sensors or alarms being activated and why it would not stop until Paris was dead. He felt the alien begin to attack him, mind to mind, using again what he found around him. Paris' body erupted in pain, his thoughts flooded with memories, the most horrifying, soul destroying, despairing ones. The onslaught was too great, Tom crumbled slowly to the ground unconscious.
Chakotay met up with the two security guards just outside the only active holodeck, all three rushed in to find the Sandrine program running. Entering the tavern, they halted in disbelief, Paris lay unmoving on the ground, squatting beside him with his back to them was a figure who seemed to be holding Paris' head. Chakotay moved forward,
" Who are you? What have you done to Paris? " He demanded.
The figure froze momentarily then tossed a small item behind him, directly in front of the three people. It erupted with a bright blinding light. When Chakotay's eyes cleared he found the figure gone.
" Damn! Spread out, find him! " He ordered the guards, including the two newly arrived who had been patrolling the area. They quickly moved off while Chakotay hurried over to Paris, he felt for a pulse and finding one, stared at Paris in surprise and relief.
" You have a strong guardian spirit, Paris. " He muttered as he began to check for injuries. One of the security guards quickly returned,
" Main security has been alerted. They scanned the immediate area, no sign of the attacker. Sensor scans are offline for this room, engineering is looking into it. "
" Good, I want you to accompany us to sickbay and this time don't let the lieutenant out of direct eye sight. " Chakotay ended in full commander mode. He reached up to activate his com badge but was halted by a sudden sharp gasp for breath from Paris, he looked down to find Paris' eyes open.
" It's okay Paris, Tom .......... You're safe. "
Paris looked around blindly, unable to focus on anything but he did hear, he didn't understand the words but he recognised the voice.
" Cha ....... " he began, struggling hard to talk.
" Rest Tom, you can tell me later. "
But Paris ignored Chakotay's words, his hands reached up and Chakotay grabbed one and the security guard the other, discovering the phaser still locked in Paris' grasp.
" Cha ...... ko ......... tay " Paris forced out, " ali ......... en, not crew. " His breath raced in and out as if Paris was running a marathon.
" Not some one ..... from ............ MY ship. "
Paris' eyes closed again, he had lost consciousness. Chakotay had them beamed directly to sickbay, where as the doctor worked on Paris, he informed the Captain of the latest developments.
Janeway made her way to sickbay, sicken to know that once again Paris had been attacked but at least this time, they had some answers.
" How is he? " she asked Chakotay when she arrived.
" All the doctor would say is that Paris is stable, that's all I can get out of him. "
Janeway looked to where the doctor was working, he seemed to have pulled out every instrument he had to use on Paris, it was not a comforting sight.
" Doctor. " Janeway called.
" Not now, not now, " he rudely answered. " Go away, I'll report when I'm ready. " Janeway listened, stunned by this unusual outburst.
" Damn. " exploded Chakotay with another unusual outburst. " If the doctor's worried, Paris must be more hurt than I thought. "
Janeway looked up into the worried face of her commander.
" The doctor said he was stable, " she reminded him, " and this time we are going to get him well and keep him well. You said Tom told you it was an alien. "
" Yes, he was definite. It was not one of the crew. "
" Okay, that's some place to start. Come on, Commander, we have work to do. "
By the time they reached the bridge, all the senior staff were present.
" Scanners at maximum range. Mr Kim, find me an alien. "
" Yes Maam. " He answered, glad to finally be able to do something constructive to help his friend.
" Shields have been raised and we are on yellow alert, " reported Tuvok.
" Good, " replied Janeway as she moved behind Kim, impatient for results.
" No signs of any other ships and I'm not picking up any signs of a cloaking device. Scanning the planets within out range, two planets that can support life, no indications of an advance civilisation and one other .......... our sensors cannot penetrate its atmosphere. "
Janeway listened thoughtfully to Harry's report.
" Calculate how far we were from these three planets when the first attack occurred on Mr Paris then get us twice that distance away from them all. Maintain yellow alert and full sensors sweeps for any indication of other vessels. "
" Yes Captain. "
A few moments later Kim added.
" Course calculated and imputed. "
" Very good Mr Kim. Helm, engage at warp 8. " Janeway ordered.
Voyager turned and warped away.
On the alien's planet, they watched silently as the ship flew away from them.
The tale quickly spread through the ship about the latest attack on Paris, the Captain's actions and most importantly the words spoken by Paris, ' Not someone from MY ship.' Paris' words and the confirmation that it was an alien attack finally dispelled the tensions and fears of the crew. It finally reunited all the crew as members of the one group, not starfleet, marquis and not sane person or possible mad man. Every one still worried about these aliens and their ability to evade the ship's sensors but their fears was handled in a more professional manner than previously.
It was late morning when the doctor finally reported.
" Mr Paris has suffered a telepathic attack of a type unknown. It is a very unusual attack in that it seems to have caused ........ waves. "
" Waves, Doctor? " queried Janeway, confused.
" Yes, the affect on his mind grows, reaches a peak, then recedes to almost nothing. The cycle then repeats itself, intensity and frequency vary. I need further studies to determine the long term affects. "
" Is he conscious at any time? " Chakotay asked.
" Yes while the effect is low, he sometimes regains consciousness, however how long for is indeterminable until I have a chance for further studies. "
" Next time he is awake, call us at once Doctor. We need to talk to him. " ordered Janeway.
" Very well, Doctor out. "
Chakotay broke the following silence,
" Do you think this is the last attack, that leaving this part of space will help Paris? "
" I hope so, Chakotay. Tom has made mistakes in his life, but this .......... persecution. He doesn't deserve it, no one would. "
Janeway and Chakotay received their summons from the doctor a few hours later, Paris was awake. They hurried to the sickbay accompanied by Tuvok. Paris lay on a biobed, pale, thin and tired. One hand scrunching the blanket on him again and again, the only sign of discomfort.
" Tom, " Janeway softly called, " can you answer some questions for us? "
" Sure Cap'n. " Paris answered cheerfully, his joyful tone startling Janeway and Chakotay, even causing Tuvok to raise an eyebrow.
" You ...... ah ........ seem happy. " Janeway replied, slightly questioning. Paris saw their confusion and gave a chuckle, to worn out to laugh aloud.
" Sorry Captain. It's just ........ it was such a relief to find out that it wasn't some one I knew, that the attacks weren't because of a mistake in my past. "
" So you found out why? "
" Yes, when the alien attack me this last time, his mind and mine ........ merged. I knew then why it wanted me dead. "
" Are you safe now? " Chakotay asked.
" It didn't like the quarantine field but I think if it has to, it could get through it. We just need to ........ " Paris halted, his eyes losing focus for a moment, then he began speaking again, faster, " I don't have much time. The third planet in the system we just passed, our sensors would have had trouble reading it, just get us away from it. Distance between us will weaken the alien, make it harder for him to break the force field . I ... " He hissed, sucking his breath in sharply, his hands squeezing tightly on the blanket, his eye becoming haunted.
" Doctor! " called Janeway.
The doctor hurried over and scanned his patients readings.
" Another wave is rising, you will have to leave. "
" Leave? " queried Chakotay.
" My patient requested no one be present during these attacks. " The doctor stated as he herded the three officers to the door, at Janeway's inquiring glance he added.
" The attacks are highly personal, it seems the alien used Mr Paris' own memories in his attempt to kill the lieutenant. "
" No ......... No .......... Leave me alone! " A voice suddenly cried from the biobed.
" I'll take care of him, " the doctor stated calmly to the shocked Captain and Commander as the door closed, cutting off Paris' cries.
The senior staff were all informed of the information Paris had given the Captain, this information quickly found it's way to every corner on Voyager. Voyager's course was altered to give maximum distance from the alien's home planet. No more attacks were made on Paris and slowly he recovered. The doctor concluded that overall the waves from the telepathic attack were reducing and given time would fade away. During the attacks, the doctor rendered Paris unconscious, having determined this did not cause further harm or prolong the attack. Paris suffered then only from some very vivid dream-like memories.
During Paris' conscious moments, he was able finally to almost fully explain the events of the past weeks. The planet Voyager had been approaching was populated by a race advance in mind control, a race that viewed all other life forms as a major threat to their culture. These aliens, who's name was a mixture of image, scent, sound and totally impossible to translate, had developed a group of guards to protect their world from outside contact. These guards would reach out mentally to any approaching ship, analyse it for threats to their racial purity and if they found any, disable or destroy them. On scanning Voyager they had found Paris to be the only threat, he alone could have piloted a shuttle down to the planet's surface. So the aliens then had to kill or incapacitate him, just because he was a good pilot. The alien attacker could bring his mind to Voyager, his mind able to echo the Voyager's energy readings so that it would not sound any alarms. The alien could bring nothing with him so he was forced to use items found on Voyager. It was thought evil for the alien if his face was seen, so when Paris managed to see the alien during that last attack, the alien was forced into desperate measures, an attack on his mind. In the alien's culture, the attacker was now infected, his mind and body would be destroyed because he had seen into Paris' mind. As a guard he was willing to sacrifice his life to destroy Paris after having his face seen. The arrival of Chakotay and the security guards and the now greater threat of discovery had forced the alien to depart before finishing the job. Now the distance from the alien planet and their course rendered the aliens harmless. They could not reach Voyager and now saw them as no longer a threat.
Over the weeks the 'mind waves' that Paris suffered slowly eased and finally disappeared. All Paris' other injuries also had the chance to fully heal and soon Paris was fit for duty. He reported the next morning to the bridge. Things finally settled down on Voyager, everything except one small matter.
Chakotay found Paris relaxing at Sandrine's, various crew men mingled around, each making sure that they nodded to or gave a greeting to Tom, glad to have him well again and safe. At Paris' table sat B'Elanna and Harry, chatting about sensor readings and warp drives while Paris seemed content just to sit back and listen. Chakotay made his way directly to the table, all three looking up. He noted Paris' gaze was evasive and that he quickly looked back down at the table top.
" Lt. Torres, Ensign Kim, would you both excuse us for a moment, I'd like to speak privately with Lt. Paris. " Chakotay formally asked. The two addressed seemed a bit startled but at Paris' reassuring nod, they got up and left the two alone. Chakotay sat down and waited, finally Paris spoke.
" What can I do for you Commander? "
Chakotay signed silently, Paris wasn't going to be forth coming about this matter, he would have to pull out the details one by one.
" Mr Paris, you can help me by explaining a few matters. "
" Certainly Commander. " Paris answered easily, though his eyes were wary.
" Ok, firstly that message I received the night of your last attack. What was all that about? "
Paris fell silent, he had thought about what he would say when asked, he had assumed Chakotay or Tuvok would question him eventually about that nights events. He was still undecided what to do, tell the truth or lie. He looked backed at Chakotay, his old enemy and now his commander. He saw the genuine concern for him and remember his .... friendship during his recovery periods. Yes, they had both changed in this quadrant since their arrival and their friendship was still new and fragile, Chakotay didn't need to know about his beliefs that he had been the assassin. So Paris answered.
" You owed me one Chakotay, figured it was time to collect. "
Chakotay knew Paris was hiding something, that he had decided not to tell Chakotay what really had been going on.
" I had thought we were becoming friends, " Chakotay sadly stated, " that you had began to trust me. I'm sorry that I was wrong. "
Chakotay stood abruptly and left the holodeck. Paris watched in disbelief as Chakotay all but stormed out of the holodeck, the conversation hadn't ended quite as he planned. Soon B'Elanna and Harry rejoined him at their table. B'Elanna leaned close and whispered,
" Just what did you say to Chakotay to get him so mad? "
Tom shook his head, bemused.
" I didn't think it would go that way. " He muttered.
" Well, it did, " Harry stated, " and I wouldn't want to be in your shoes. "
" Damn. " Paris suddenly spoke, then he too stood up and abruptly left the holodeck.
B'Elanna turned to Harry and asked,
" And what did you say? "
" I didn't say anything. " protested a confused Harry.
" Computer, location of Commander Chakotay. " Paris called as he reached the ship's corridor.
" Commander Chakotay is in holodeck 2. "
Paris took a few steps and entered the second holodeck, glad to find no privacy lock engaged. He found himself in a forest, tall trees stretching to the sky, a path layed down beneath him. He followed the path and entered a clearing, a small stream ran through it. On a fallen log resting beside the stream, sat Chakotay. He did not turn as Tom approached him, but Tom knew he was aware of him. Tom sat down on the ground, facing the stream and began to explain.
" On the third attack, when I was taken from the brig, I was covered by a hood, couldn't see anything. However just before the alien pushed me into that airless room, the hood slipped and I managed to get a glimpse of his face, reflected off the computer wall panel. It was not clear, only vague you understand but one thing I did notice ....... "
Paris fell silent, unsure how to continue, unsure what the results would be. After a few moments, Chakotay spoke for the first time.
" What did you notice Tom? "
Paris turned his head, looking up to where Chakotay sat on the log, his eyes drawn slightly upward, focusing on Chakotay's forehead. He forced himself to answer, through comprehension was growing in the commander's eyes.
" I noticed that the face was tattooed. "
" Damn, " Chakotay swore, " you thought it was me, that I was trying to kill you! "
Paris managed to look sheepish as he nodded in agreement.
" Ah yes ...... sorry Commander, but you're the only member of the crew with any form of facial decoration ......... I checked. "
" Then why, why escape from your guards and arrange to met me alone in the holodeck. Damn it Paris, you thought I wanted to kill you. What were you thinking? " Chakotay exclaimed.
Paris jumped up, unable to sit quietly and began to pace the small clearing.
" Because I needed to know WHY? I know you couldn't be sane, that something must of pushed you over the edge, that you had to be crazy. But still I believed there had to be a reason, a reason after all we have been through, that you suddenly wanted me dead and I had to know that reason. "
" So you risked you life. "
" Well, to some extent. You see I created a holocharacter of myself and altered the safety limits on the holodeck so I could fire a phaser. The alien fell for it, he killed the holocharacter and I did shoot him with the phaser on full stun. If it had been you, it would have worked. As it is the phaser beam passed right through the alien. " Paris explained.
" So it was a trap. " Concluded Chakotay
" Yes .... No ... I don't know. I only planned as far as getting the two of us there, face to face, I didn't think about what would happen afterwards. "
" You took a great risk, Tom. Why didn't you tell anyone what you had seen, why didn't you tell the Captain or Tuvok? "
" I wasn't convinced Chakotay. I wasn't sure. What I had glimpsed was just a shadow, I couldn't even see out of one eye, I just wasn't positive it had been you........ and I've been accused of things without hard proof, I wasn't about to do that to anyone else. "
Paris finally stopped pacing and stood, looking at the trees, the stream, any where but at Chakotay.
" That's it then, the story behind that night ....... I do trust you Chakotay, it's just ..... I'm seeing you as a ........ kind of friend. It just didn't seem worth risking that by letting you know I thought you were trying to kill me. "
Chakotay sat thoughtfully, watching the young man pace before him, he forgot sometimes that even after all Paris had been though, in some way Tom was still just a young man.
" Thank you Tom, I see you as a friend as well. I understand now why you felt that you needed to hide the truth from me but I'm glad you reconsidered and told me the truth. "
" Well .... That's settle then. " Tom stated as he moved towards the path, uncomfortable with Chakotay's praise. Just before he left Chakotay spoke again.
" Thanks Tom, believing what you did, thank you for believing there was a reason for it all and for giving me the chance to ........ explain ....... but next time, if there is a next time, do not pull such a stupid stunt again. " Chakotay turned around to face the startled lieutenant.
" You almost die Tom, we ...... I wouldn't like that to happen. I still owe you one ...... okay. "
Okay ..... Chakotay ......... Commander, " stuttered out a shocked Paris
Tom left the clearing and exited the holodeck. Things had been settled, Chakotay knew the truth and they were still ....... friends.
Copyright@1997-October Daniela Signor