Encounter With Starfleet By Daniela SignorThe mood on the bridge of Voyager was calm, even bored. The past weeks had been quiet and uneventful. Finally something happened, Lieutenant Tom Paris turned around as he heard Ensign Harry Kim make the report.
" A ship has been detected on long range scanners, Commander. I cannot identify it at the moment. "
" Thankyou Mr Kim. " Chakotay replied as he tapped his communicator.
" Chakotay to the Captain."
" Captain here. "
" We have detected a ship on the scanners. "
" I'll be right there. "
Captain Janeway strode onto the bridge, immediately asking for details.
" The sensors are detecting a warp signature from the ship. " Ensign Kim began, as sensor readings were received.
" My god ......... it's federation!"
A stunned silence descended on the bridge at this astounding news.
" Mr. Paris " Janeway broke the silence, " alter our course to rendezvous with that ship. "
" Aye Captain. " Paris soon had Voyager travelling towards this new federation ship.
" Looks like guests for dinner. " he muttered.
Janeway finally sat down, they now had a few hours of waiting. She informed the crew of what was occurring and a sense of excitement grew throughout the ship.
" Tuvok, can you identify her? "
" The ship is of federation style but not corresponding with any known class. I advise caution in our approach Captain, we have no way of determining who has control of the ship until we are in hailing distance. "
" Acknowledged. Mr. Kim, I want a full sensor scan as soon as possible and Mr. Paris fly ... cautiously. "
Quietly Chakotay spoke to Janeway.
" Do you think it's another ship pulled here by the array? "
" Possibly, but if it had been brought here before us then I would expect the ship to be recognised by our computer. I just don't know Chakotay but I believe we might have found a way home. "
" We are approaching hailing distance, Captain. " Tuvok stated.
" Your report, Mr. Kim? "
" The ship appears to be federation though class unknown. I am reading slight variation on warp emission and from their power grid. Shields are down and I've been able to scan for life. I've picked up only 64 life signs - all human. "
" Reduce to impulse and open a channel. " The Captain ordered.
" Channel open. "
" Federation ship, I am Captain Kathryn Janeway of the USS Voyager. Please identify yourself. "
The view screen showed static then cleared abruptly to show an older man in the Starfleet uniform of an Admiral.
" I am Admiral Logan of the USS Mildara. This is an unexpected surprise, our records show the USS Voyager disappeared in the badlands some time ago."
" That is correct, our ship was pulled here by a alien array and we've been trying to get home ever since. "
" You have a long trip ahead of you at warp but I think I can be of service to you all. "
" Yes, I was wondering Admiral Logan, how you can to be in the Delta Quadrant? "
" By design and using a shortcut, another stable wormhole has been discovered near the DS9 station. You can all be home in about two weeks. "
Huge grins and some cheers broke out on the Voyager bridge, they were going home.
" That is wonderful news Admiral, " stated a smiling Janeway, " May we have the coordinates of the wormhole? "
" Certainly I'll .... " the Admiral was interrupted by one of his staff, a Captain. The Captain spoke earnestly into the Admiral's ear.
" Yes Yes, of course. I'm sorry Captain, as my Captain has just pointed out some steps must be taken for security reasons. Due to the growing conflict with the Cardassians, the location and even the existence of this wormhole have been kept strictly secre t, which is why you find an Admiral flying around out here. We will escort you to the exact location and I will require a complete report on all your crew. "
Janeway sent an uneasy glance to her first officer then answered.
" Of course Admiral. You will have it by 1800 hours as long as ... well you understand our caution ... as long as my security officer is satisfied that you are who you say you are. "
" That is acceptable, meanwhile just follow us and we will take you home. "
The USS Mildara reversed its course and the USS Voyager assumed a position behind and to the left. Both warped into space. Throughout Voyager, Janeway's announcement of recent developments was heard, they were going home.
Janeway sat in her office as she finished the report on her crew, which she started after receiving Tuvok's report. Though using an old code, the USS Mildara had checked out.
" That's it then? "
" Yes, finished. " She answered Chakotay. " I've added my recommendations that all previous charges against yourself and the other Marquis be dropped due to the services you have all provided in the Delta Quadrant. "
" Do you think they will be? "
" Starfleet is a reasonable organisation in spite of what you believe and I have some well placed friends at headquarters. I will see you are all treated well and our bargain honoured." She paused and looked directly into Chakotay's eyes. " No matter what I have to do. "
Chakotay nodded , understanding that the Captain would not let him or the others down. With that she hit the transmission button and the report was sent to Admiral Logan.
Within the hour, Admiral Logan had re-established contact with Voyager.
" It was an excellent report, Captain Janeway and interesting reading. I understand your need and the logic of some of the decisions you had to make and I am sure all your recommendations will be honoured once we are back in federation space. However unti l that time I still have the matter of security to uphold. Here is a list of your crew that I am forced to take into custody; Maquis Chakotay, Maquis Torres, Marq... " he went on and listed all the maquis crew ending with, " and of course the prisoner Tom Paris. "
Paris looked up in surprise, these last months he had become a part of the crew and a member of Starfleet again. This mention of his previous status was an icy shock. He supposed the old saying was true, you can never escape your past, not even on the oth er side of the galaxy. His face assumed an expressionless mask as the Captain replied.
" Is this really necessary, Admiral? These people are all valued members of my crew. "
" I'm sure they are Captain and that Starfleet will honour all the arrangements you have made but this is a matter of security. Until Starfleet has reviewed your records these people are enemies of the federation and a convicted traitor. I would not be fo llowing my orders if I did not take them into custody. This is NOT a matter for debate. "
Chakotay stood forward and spoke before Janeway could continue to argue.
" We all understand Admiral, those on your list will beam over immediately. "
" We have been having some trouble with our transporters, that's what you get for commanding a prototype. Your ship will have to handle the transport alone. "
" Very well Admiral. Voyager out. "
" This isn't how I wanted it! " Janeway stated angrily at the blank viewscreen.
" It will be only for a week or two. Believe me Captain, the Marquis will survive your federation brig and as too Paris, well he's an old hand at this. "
" Thanks Chakotay. " Paris stated as he stood up, his replacement easing into the vacant spot, " but don't speak too soon. You haven't tasted prison food yet. "
" Can anything be worse then Neelix's cooking? " queried Harry as he come down and lay a comforting hand on Tom's shoulder. " Don't worry Tom, I'll visit and sneak you in a cookie. "
A reluctant grin broke out on Paris' face.
" You do that Harry. Well Maquis, shall we go? "
Chakotay nodded as he groaned, " I don't know if I can survive being confined with you Paris." " What! The big brave Indian afraid of little old me. "
Paris was laughing as he left the bridge, his friend Harry walking with him.
Janeway and Chakotay followed, as they walked along Janeway spoke,
" I wonder why the Admiral didn't request Neelix and Kes as he seems very determined over the matter of security. "
" Neither of them would have any interest in betraying the federation in the Alpha Quadrant. "
" I suppose so, I'll be over as soon as I can to check on things. "
" Thank you, Captain."
All the Marquis and Paris were assembled in the transporter room and soon transferred over to the Mildara, leaving Voyager feeling empty and alone.
They had been quickly led to the brig by two guards, enclosed in the one cell and then left alone. A few hours passed before anything happened. Admiral Logan came to their cell with two guards.
" I trust everything is in order, Commander? "
" Yes thank you Admiral. " Chakotay answered.
" Good, I've come about a simple matter. It's been pointed out to me by my Captain that the sentence prisoner Paris was given requires ' services to Starfleet ' . I must follow orders and so have arranged some simple maintenance duty for prisoner Paris to do while he is in my custody. "
" Following orders to the letter is so very important " Paris sarcastically stated as the guards seized him and pulled him out of the cell. Chakotay laughed, saying
" Scrubbing some pots will do you good Paris. "
Paris was thinking that even out here in the delta quadrant, Starfleet officers wanted to get ' some one else' for the routine, boring and messy jobs. His guards led him into a room and looking around Paris halted in shock. The decor was unlike anything h e had ever seen before, completely alien in its nature as were the two creatures standing before him. Their only resemblance to a human was their general biped form, they had pale scaly skin, were hairless and only had three fingers on their hands. Paris tried to back out of the room but was seized tightly by the guards and forced further into the room. One of the aliens nodded to a large flat bench.
" Place it on the examination table. "
" What's going on? Who are you? What are you? " demanded Paris as he struggled to free himself from the bonds on the table.
" Silence it. " One of the aliens coldly ordered. The other alien lifted up a small device and rested it on Paris' throat. A sharp burning pain erupted from it, Paris tried to cry out but found no sound emerging, he was mute.
" Remember, " another voice intruded into the room. " No permanent damage it to be done to it. Nothing must arouse these alien's suspicions. It has been easy to deceive these fools so far but I want no complications before the main ship can reach us. We may need to return this one later though as a traitor to both parties I doubt much concern will be shown for it. "
" That is why it is such a perfect test subject. Think of the results we can present to the Grand Leader. " The alien replied to someone just outside Paris ' view.
Admiral Logan stepped into Paris' sight, causing the young man's eye to widen in shock. The Admiral looked down at Paris, unconcerned by the pain and fear in his face, and added,
" You have two days to gain full control Doctor. Do not fail me. "
" No First Leader. It will be done, we shall start immediately. "
A device began to lower from the ceiling, it's pulsing light getting brighter and brighter, burning his uncovered skin and finally his uniform. The pain from feeling his flesh burn became too great and Paris lapsed into unconsciousness.
Chakotay looked up as a guard arrived with food, he quickly counted the number of trays.
" What about Lieutenant Paris? " he asked.
" Prisoner Paris has been confined elsewhere. "
" But why, surely the brig is the most logical place and also the only place according to Starfleet regulation where a convicted person can be imprisoned. "
" He is being adequately guarded in the area he is needed. It is the Admiral's order. "
The guard turned and left.
" What's wrong? " queried Torres, noting the frown on Chakotay's face.
" Why? Why would they lock up Paris somewhere else? "
" Starfleet! Probably feel he's better away from Marquis influence. "
" I don't know. It's just a feeling but I don't think Paris is having an easy time. Starfleet has less reason to love him then we do. I'm getting an uneasy feeling over this whole situation. "
" There's nothing we can do tonight, about anything. If you're still worried about that ' charmer ' in the morning, speak to the Admiral. "
" I think I will. "
There was no sign of Paris the next morning and Chakotay's request to see the Admiral was denied. However in the early afternoon they had a communique from Voyager. Captain Janeway appeared on the viewscreen.
" Hello Chakotay, is everything satisfactory? "
" Yes, we Maquis have all been treated well Captain. However Lieutenant Paris was taken for some maintenance work soon after we arrived as part of his sentence and we haven't seen him since. "
" You're worried about him? "
" Well, we all know what a hothead he can be, it would be in all our best interests if I could keep on eye on him. "
" Yes, very true. I'll speak to the Admiral immediately. Any other concerns? "
" No Captain. "
" I'll speak to you again soon. Janeway out. "
Admiral Logan strode into the examination room. Paris was still strapped to the table but now had wiring all around and connected to him. Occasionally his body would jerk and spasm as the test continued.
" It must be returned this evening. Are you prepared? "
" Yes, First Leader. It has turned out to be quite a malleable subject, so easily controlled. "
" Good. "
The Admiral left, never noticing the burning resolve in their ' prize guinea pig ' eyes.
Chakotay counted trays again and asked,
" No Lieutenant Paris this evening? "
Before the guards could answer a voice spoke from the shadows of the corridor.
" Worried about me Indian, I'm touched. "
Chakotay turned and peered sharply into the shadows but was unable to make out more then the vague outline of Paris.
" Not worried Paris, just wondering what you were up too? "
" Just been cleaning pots and pans. "
The guard grabbed Paris' arm, causing Paris to jerk sharply and pulled him into the next cell, which was only softly lighted . Chakotay watched as Paris made his way slowly towards one of the bunks. " We not good enough for you any more?" Chakotay casually asked.
" Always preferred my own room." Paris answered.
" And the lights? Not hiding something are you?"
" Of course prisoner Paris isn't hiding anything. " Another voice answered.
Chakotay turned back to the corridor to find a man dressed in a medical uniform.
" I'm Doctor Vasoon. Tom's been helping me out." The doctor stepped into Paris' cell. " Lights! " he ordered.
As the lights brightened in the cell, Chakotay's gaze focused on Paris, he was stunned to find Paris' uniform gone and in it's stead the grey uniform of a penal convict, complete with leg anklet.
" Is all this really necessary? You have the Captain's statement of the Lieutenant's actions since we arrived in this quadrant. He has honoured the uniform he wore."
" I'm sure he has but the duties he does for me have ruined his uniform and this was the regulation replacement, " the doctor answered.
" As far as Starfleet is aware he is still an observer assigned to Voyager. The replicator would have issued a plain uniform and what about the anklet monitor, not being in New Zealand renders it slightly useless. " Chakotay mockingly replied.
" The Admiral has altered Paris' status to fit the situation and I have modified the anklet so that I can keep an eye on prisoner Paris. He has been very obedient but one cannot take chances. "The doctor stated as he and Paris exchanged an unfriendly glan ce.
" Paris always did have his own interest's close to his heart. " Torres added softly.
Chakotay was feeling more and more uneasy, Paris had yet to raise his head in their direction and his silence was unnatural.
" You have nothing to add, Paris. "
Tom took a deep breath, fixed his mask firmly in place and lifted his head, casually resting back against the bulkhead.
" The doctor's right about the uniform, it's ashes now and this get-up ........... nothing new to me. "
Maybe Chakotay was imagining things, Paris seemed as unconcerned and relaxed as normal. He appeared pale and tired but if he had spent the day cleaning that was to be expected. Chakotay glanced at Paris' hands and his suspicions returned full force.
" Well, the Captain will be relieved things are working out. Glad he has been able to help you, Doctor Vasoon. "
The doctor smiled smugly back, " He's a great help. Now rest prisoner Paris, busy day tomorrow. " The doctor exited the cell but paused in the corridor just outside Paris' cell. Chakotay could not see him but from where Torres had slump on the floor he was in plain view. She watched as he retrieved an item from his pocket, a small control device. He a ltered the settings then press a button. Nothing happened, the doctor's grin faded and he pressed the button again, holding it down this time. Paris spoke from the other cell.
" I'll follow your orders, doctor. "
The doctor nodded, releasing the button and strode from the room.
" Light's out. " Paris stated, sending his cell into darkness.
" I want to talk Paris. " Chakotay stated.
" I'm tired, Commander. Can't this wait till morning? "
" I don't think so Paris, you're lying! What have you been doing all day? "
A strained silence answered him.
" I've seen your hands, they haven't been hard at work. Have you made some deal with this Starfleet Admiral, on old friend of your fathers perhaps? "
" Think what you like Chakotay, I'm going to sleep."
" Lieutenant! "
" Commander, my hands are still soft because I've been helping the doctor with a research project, a lot of analysing and taking notes. The pots and pans was just an expression, like coming clean when Sandrine's opens .... Now Goodnight! "
Torres came and stood beside Chakotay,
" What exactly did he mean by that? " she whispered.
" Come clean is an old earth expression meaning to tell the truth and when Sandrine's opens, I have no idea. "
" Sandrine's opens ....... it's a holoprogram. It's always open."
" A french tavern ........ what time do they open? "
" How would I know! "
" Wait I remember now, Sandrine once said that she opened when ........ what was it ..... that's it! She opened after all the good folk had gone to sleep. "
" So Paris will talk when our guards are occupied. "
" Yes, which means that there is something to tell about the USS Mildara. For one thing, how is a uniform ruined by taking notes? "
The image of the doctor returned to Torres, she asked Chakotay,
" How did Paris look just after the doctor left? "
" Tired, on edge. Why? "
" The doctor stood outside the cell, operating some electronic device. "
" You think he's controlling Paris. "
" He deactivated the device once Paris answered him. "
" So there's a chance whatever Paris tells us has been told to him by Starfleet."
" Trying to get information about the Marquis."
" Maybe. All we can do now is wait and see what Paris has to say. "
As soon as it was quiet, Paris moved forcing himself to set upright, he raised his foot to rest it on the cot and began to work. Recalling everything he had learnt and done in prison, he started to deactivate his anklet restraint. In the dark and using ma keshift tools, he fought exhaustion and pain until he succeeded. He had done it mainly my instinct and luck, hoping that what he was doing was enough to turn off the audio sensor and not destroy it, giving him the chance to reconnect it later. It was in the early hours of the morning when he silently moved towards the force barrier separating him from the others.
" Are you awake? " he whispered.
Chakotay answered him immediately.
" Yes. What have you got to tell me. Starfleet's latest propaganda story. "
" I don't know how long I've got, this anklet is a monitoring device. I think I've disabled the audio but I may be wrong. Listen carefully - there is no Starfleet. "
" What do you mean? "
" This ship, these people are all a deception. They're some alien race - a very unfriendly race. "
" Alien! You expect me to believe that all this is fake, this ship, the sensor readings, the codes, these people. That they just happen to look like are starfleet and think we look like their starfleet. I don't believe it Paris. "
" You have GOT to believe me, Chakotay. I'll swear by your spirit guide. "
Chakotay knew Paris was an expert liar but also that he tended to respect other's beliefs. He paused, considering what exactly Paris was saying, giving him a chance to prove what he was stating.
" Why such a complex charade? "
" Because they're not ready, this ship can't handle Voyager but the ship we're meeting can. This is all just one big stall for time. "
" And you just happen to see through it. " Chakotay stated in disbelief.
" I was thrown right into it. They're a confident bunch, they never tried to hide what they are from me. "
, he hissed angrily. " So confident that they let you back here with us, what are you trying to do, Paris? What are you after? "
" I'm not after anything but getting us out of here. Think! Basically they play their parts well, but the little things. Have you heard one announcement over the ship communicators, their faces and bodies, so perfect and average. Chakotay you have to beli eve me, these things aren't HUMAN! "
Chakotay was silent, all his doubts merging into one certainty, Paris was telling the truth.
" What have they been doing to you Paris? What hold do they have? "
" I've been the guinea pig. Tests, over and over again, tests. The doctor believes he's gotten control over me, that's why I'm here. Someone must have gotten them nervous, and I've always been good at playing the coward and a fool. They don't think I'm in telligent enough to mess with their device and if I did tell anyone here, they would simply invent some story and cut us off from the Captain and Voyager. They're also confident enough not to be too worried over whatever I might do. "
" What happens in the morning then? " Chakotay simply asked.
" I act like I will do whatever they tell me to do, you warn the Captain and then you both think of a brilliant plan to get us all out of here. "
" I see I've got the hard job. "Chakotay stated trying to lighten the stark mood that had fallen.
" Yeh, all I have to do is lie down and relax. We don't have much time. They're expecting to met up with the other ship in about 5 days. "
" I'll talk to the Captain, get things started. " Chakotay moved away slightly, " You take it easy Paris. "
" I'll be fine .......... just don't take too long. " Tom urged.
Paris moved silently back to the cot, planning to rest for a moment, but fell instantly into an exhausted sleep.
Chakotay passed quickly from sleep to full alertness, he glanced into the next cell and found it empty.
" Paris gone? "
" Took him away early this morning, " Torres stated. " Took them a while to wake him from his beauty sleep and then he refused to leave until he had a wash. Wanted to look pretty for Starfleet, I suppose. "
" I don't think so. Paris is in a lot of trouble, we all are."
" What did he tell you last night? "
" Spread this around to the others carefully, that this is all one huge charade. This isn't a federation starship and these people aren't members of Starfleet. "
" What! That's crazy, all our sensors verified that this was what it appeared to be. Their security codes check out also. "
" To pull this off they had to have advanced technology and detailed information about Starfleet, enough to fool any of our sensors and questions. But there are cracks showing. "
" And Paris found one of them? " She asked in disbelief, not having a high opinion of their pilot's intelligence.
" No, Paris was pushed into one of them. The aliens haven't bothered to hide themselves from him. "
" So after all this effort, they simply release him back in here so he can just tell us all. "
" Paris was being monitored, he manage to disable it last night but if they find out it's been tampered with, we are all in trouble. Also Paris had to convince them that he will do whatever they ask, it seems they are extremely over-confident. "
" I wonder how he did that? "
After a pause, Chakotay answered, " I don't think I'll ever want to know. "
Torres looked startled at Chakotay's verminousness, than thoughtful. Perhaps he was right, it was better not knowing.
" What are we going to do?"
" Keep an eye on everything, learn as much as we can and get the information back to our crew. " " Well at least we have surprise on our side. "
" As long as Paris isn't found out. " concluded Chakotay.
The Marquis spent most of the day watching events carefully and becoming more and more certain of the truth to Paris' words. It was late afternoon when they had two surprise visitors. Captain Janeway and Ensign Kim entered the brig.
" Captain, this is a surprise. " Chakotay calmly greeted them while he silently thanked all the animal guides in existence.
" The Admiral was kind enough to allow us to beam over and visit with Voyager's first officer and crew, Commander." Janeway made a point of mentioning the Marquis status and rank. " How is everything? "
" As I told you earlier we are well treated here though I doubt Lieutenant Paris appreciates their adherence to Starfleet regulation. "
" Where is Tom? " Kim asked.
" They have him cleaning 'test tubes' for the doctor. "
" Perhaps we'll stop by sickbay on our way out. " Janeway suggested. That was something Chakotay didn't think would be a good idea, with studied casualness he answered,
" No need Captain. It's nearly mealtime, Mr Paris will be brought back then. "
" Excellent. We'll wait and that will give us ample time to chat. I want to bring you up to date on all the happenings on Voyager. "
" I would like that Captain, perhaps we can sit down quietly by the door while Ensign Kim entertains the others with tales of Sandrine. " Chakotay replied.
Janeway looked surprised but agree and before the guards could protest, Janeway was sitting on the ground, separated from Chakotay only by the forcefield. As Kim began to regale the others with the story of Neelix's latest cooking attempt, Janeway softly asked,
" What's this about? "
" Paris found out something and I believe him."
" What? "
" These people aren't human, aren't Starfleet. They are playing this charade while they wait for another ship that can deal with Voyager. We have only a few days before they rendezvous. "
" Are you sure? " Janeway exclaims in disbelief.
" Yes, they are very good but we have all noticed odd little things. I am sure, Captain. "
Janeway glanced around trying to gather her thoughts. She looked around, at the guards, walls, forcefields, all so Starfleet. She noted that Kim and Torres had started a loud conversation and that the guards were too far away to hear her. She turned back to Chakotay.
" It's hard to believe but I trust your judgement Chakotay ............ we have to get you all out of here. "
" Nothing I would like better. We have surprise on our side, do you think you could simply transport us out?"
" Their shields are down, we should be able to lock onto you but how can we be sure, our sensors think this is a federation ship. "
" Perhaps you can modify the sensors and pierce their fake image. "
" Now that we know, we'll try everything. So are you all here at night? "
" No, Paris is in the next cell. "
" I'm surprised that they are willing to let Tom wander the ship. "
" They don't. They revealed themselves to Paris, that's how he found out. They are running test on him. "
" Damn, how is he? "Janeway asked in concern.
" He's holding up. " Chakotay answered briefly.
" Why do they return him? "
" Your inquiries about him and his ...... acting ability. "
" Explain? "
" They believe they control him. "
" Control Paris! They're fools. " Janeway felt despair, at how members of her crew where now trapped on an alien ship, how one of them was being experimented on and how there was now, no worm hole to take them home. She shook herself, it was time to get d own to business.
" Now what ideas have you come up with? "
Janeway and Chakotay began to plan the great escape.
Tom lay on the table, tremors shaking his body as he tried to relax, shuddering with exhaustion. At least the pain wasn't bad. Once the doctor had been convinced he had control over Tom, the torturing had stop. Now it was testing, physical and psychologic al. Tom thanked his childhood that had taught him all the ins and outs of telling and believing lies to a therapist so that he could get outside and play, to the maquis and prison that taught him things could always get worse but that he was a survivor. Thanks to that and the alien's confidence, Tom had them fooled, but it hadn't been easy.
The doctor walked over to the table, Paris' aching muscles tensing in reaction. The doctor casually lay a hand on Paris' thigh, speaking over him to his assistant. Seemingly not even noticing the man beneath him, but Tom had only been fooled once. He watc hed carefully, trying to sum up the last of his strength to fight whatever was coming.
" Clean it up and take it back to the others. I'm finished for now. "
The alien doctor turned away but halted suddenly and swung back, staring down directly into Paris' eyes. Apprehension gripped Paris as he lowered his eyes.
" You'll have a visitor waiting for you when you go back. Your Captain. If you try to warn it, it'll die instantly. Which would be a waste, it is a female of your species isn't it. I'm curious about how your species reproduce, I believe I'll have you two demonstrate this for me. "
Paris was shocked, so shocked and angry that he slipped from his role.
" Rape the Captain! " he hissed, " Never! I won't do it and she wouldn't let me. She's one tough lady. "
Paris knew instantly that he had made a grave error, the alien's eyes grew cold, hard and thoughtful.
" So, you do feel some concern for others of your kind and for this female. I don't believe you have the courage to warn it but one doesn't take chances. "
The doctor looked around and noticed a power cell that they had used in the beginning. He picked it up and set it to full discharge, laying it in the center of Paris' chest and then activating it. Pure power erupted into Paris' body, his body jerked futil ely against the restraints as slivers of pain raced throughout his frame. He felt the darkness rushing towards him and realised it was different this time, darker, deeper and final. All else was fading, gone.
" It's heart had stopped. It's dead. " the assistant stated. The doctor was shocked, he had lost control and his action had been without thought. The first leader would have his life terminated.
" Revive it!" he ordered. There was a chance. Both worked feverishly for a few minutes until they were rewarded by a faint gasp and the slow resumption of breathing. Paris' heart started to beat. He lived.
Chakotay finished his meal and lay down the plate.
" Paris should have been back by now. He may have been discovered. "
" If so I think we would have heard something. I'll ask the guards. " Janeway stood up but before she could move, a group of people entered. Two men were moving a trolley on which lay Paris, another man followed. He looked up appearing startled.
" Captain Janeway, I had no idea you were on board. I'm Doctor Vasoon, Chief Medical Officer. "
Janeway hurried forward, followed by Kim.
" What happened to Lieutenant Paris? " She asked, worried by the still form of her pilot.
" An accident, some items in storage fell, hitting Tom in the chest and knocking him to the ground. Fortunately nothing is broken but since he was in pain, I've sedated him. He's in no danger and the damage will be repaired by morning when he wakes. "
Harry took a step forward, he did not believe a word that this doctor had just said, Tom looked seriously ill, almost dead. B'Elanna hissed his name from just behind him, recalling to him what he had learnt about the USS Mildara. The best way to help his friend was to remain silent. He controlled his anger and stepped back, unnoticed by anyone bar B'Elanna.
" I want to be informed immediately he is conscious and I will come over to speak to him. " Janeway demanded.
The doctor hesitated slightly before replying,
" Certainly. I'll just see him settled then I must return to my research. "
No one believed the doctor's explanation. Paris was deathly pale, his breath rasped slowly in and out, the movement of his chest so slight it barely detracted from his overall stillness.
" Thank you doctor. I'm sure the Lieutenant will be fine in the morning. Oh, do you know where I may find Admiral Logan? I need to speak to him. "
" I'm sure that he will be down to see you off. "
" Thank you. " Janeway nodded as he left, her hands so tightly clasped her knuckles were white. She turned to the others and softly stated, " I'll begin our plans immediately, we must get you all out of here as soon as possible. "
Her gaze was drawn to the next cell and she lay a hand gently on the restrained Ensign Kim. The Admiral soon arrived and after goodbyes, the three exited.
" I must present my apologies, Admiral. I did not realise the presences of my people would cause you such an inconvenience. "
" No in.. "
" Of course, " Janeway continued, interrupting him. " I can easily relieve you of them. I have been lax in Starfleet regulations. As you are of course aware, Tom Paris was allowed to leave the prison only under the condition that he be placed under my per sonal supervision. I let him go since it seemed I had no choice about the others. My security chief reminded me however that as it was our ship that capture them, they are in fact our prisoners. It's late tonight so I'll arrange for my security chief to p ick them up in the morning. "
" Your sense of duty is a credit to you, Captain. However I am the senior officer and in the end the responsibility is mine. "
" Oh naturally but I thought that since, once we have returned to federation space, you will want to resume your mission immediately, thus having to transfer the prisoner back to Voyager. As you realise, by Starfleet regulation since you insist on taken r esponsibility, that will require a ' hearing of internment '. Myself and all my crew are very anxious to get home, the delay for this hearing would be cruel. It is much more natural to hold the hearing now while we are simply travelling though space. "
The Admiral looked as if he would disagree. The Captain looked over to him, her features expressing shock.
" You do agree, don't you Admiral or are you stating that you prefer to delay the resumption of your mission. The hearing could take up to four days. I'm surprised you want to leave it till after we have returned to federation space. "
" Four days. " murmured the Admiral, then louder, " Of course, a wise suggestion Captain. Let us begin tomorrow. "
" Then I can expect you and my crew on Voyager at 0900. "
" Voyager but ... "
" Regulations dictate that the hearing be held on the requesting ship. " Janeway again interrupted.
" Of course but until the hearing is over, the Marquis will return each evening to the Mildara, " insisted the Admiral.
" Naturally and of course, Lieutenant Paris will be returned to my supervision. "
" Ah ... yes, however until he has recovered it would be better he remain here under our doctor's supervision. "
" But I understood from the doctor that Paris would be fine by morning. "
" Yes, that's right but I believe the doctor would prefer he observed the prisoner for a few more days before giving him a clean bill of health. "
Janeway knew she could not push this matter too far as there was no way the aliens would return Paris to her care.
" That's probably for the best but the Lieutenant will be required for the hearing, about half an hour only on the first morning. "
" I believe that can be arranged, I myself cannot attend but I will make certain that my Captain is there. "
" Thank you Admiral. "
By this time they had arrived at the transporter room.
" One more thing Captain, begin your hearing with the Marquis, when you are ready for prisoner Paris, send us a message. "
" Very well Admiral. Goodbye. "
Janeway and Kim left the Mildara, breathing a sign of relief when reaching home back on Voyager. " Mr. Kim, I want you working on the sensors all night long. "
" Yes Captain. "
" While I'll write up some rules for this 'hearing of internment'. "
They separated , each having a busy night ahead.
Chakotay say quietly against the blockhead, though he would never admit it to anyone, he was deeply worried about Paris. It was early morning and still Paris had not stirred. Suddenly his senses came alert, he had detected a small change from the adjoini ng cell.
" Paris! " he whispered.
A groan answered him, though it was dark he sensed movement.
" No anklet, " a hoarse whisper came out of the dark, " I'm lucky tonight, go ahead Indian. "
" Are you all right? "
Paris recalled what had happened to him.
" The Captain? "
" The Captain, " replied Chakotay puzzled, " she returned to Voyager." He remembered then that Paris had been unconscious when he had returned to the brig.
" How did you know she was here? "
" The doctor mentioned it. "
" What happened Paris? "
" I made a mistake, " he softly replied, " a dangerous mistake. "
" But they're still confident enough to return you here. "
" Yeh, unconscious. " he wearily replied.
" Paris! " Chakotay urged, trying to give Paris some hope as he sounded so defeated. " Not much longer, we have a plan. The Captain's going .... "
" No don't tell me! " Paris harshly interrupted, his breathing ragged and louder. " Don't tell me. " he softly echoed, " It hurts ......... I just want to sleep. "
Paris didn't say another word, his breathing softened and slowed. Chakotay knew he slept.
" What are those bastards doing to you Tom? " he muttered. " What are you going through? "
When the Marquis were escorted out, Paris still slept. The hearing soon began on Voyager and it had become their best hope, Ensign Kim had been unable to penetrate the alien's false screen deep enough to locate their people without being noticed by the a liens. An hour into the 'hearing' Janeway requested Mr Paris. The Mildara agreed to send him over in an hour and once the Captain had all her people back on Voyager, no one was going to take them away.
Paris woke to find himself once again strapped to the examination table, the doctor standing over him.
" So glad you're awake, we need to have a little chat. "
An hour passed, a very slow painful hour.
" So you're aware of exactly what you are to do and say while on Voyager, the anklet will monitor all visual and audio events and it will be able to administer pain or death if you make an error. "
" Doctor! " his assistant hurried over, " I checked the device as you ordered and found evidence of tampering. "
" What? "
" I believe the audio sensors have been deactivated then reactivated. "
" By who? "
" Unknown. "
" Recall the visual data, I want to know who. "
The doctor quickly reviewed the film and though unable to determine the exact time the link died, he watched as the prisoner silently and briefly argued with the guards and then washing privately, his hand slipping over the sensor a few times until the so und of rushing water could be heard. The doctor turned back to the examination table in dread.
" You! You were intelligent enough to tamper with our device! You had the WILL! "
" Amazing what you learn in prison. " Paris whispered, gathering all his will for what was to come.
" I must, " the doctor stated trying to calm himself, " inform the first leader. "
" I don't think so. " Paris answered, for while the doctor had been concentrating on the film, Tom had managed to pull a wrist out of the straps and free himself. Now he summoned all his remaining strength and swung a large gleaming hook at the doctor. It caught the doctor at the throat, slicing it open. He fell to the ground dead. The assistant stood frozen in stunned surprise, giving Paris precious moments. The assistant died where he stood. Paris slid to the ground, he wanted to rest so much but he cou ldn't, he didn't know how long the guards would remain outside the doors. He looked around in despair, he couldn't fight armed guards. Suddenly his eyes lit on a small grate, it would be a tight fit but Paris knew he could do it. He had no choice. Soon th e room stood empty of any living creature.
Janeway and the others were worried, it had been 30 minutes since Paris should have been brought on board and 20 minutes since the alien Captain and half of his men had returned to the Mildara. There had been no word from the Admiral. Ensign Kim was moni toring the sensors, suddenly his gaze sharpened, his hands moving quickly over the controls.
" Captain. " he quietly called, pointing to the troubling report. The Captain immediately touched her com badge.
" Janeway to Tuvok. Something is happening on the Mildara, get your people ready and remember, our main priority is to protect the crew, ALL of them. "
" Understood. "
As she walked over to inform Chakotay of the latest events, a communication was received by the Mildara crew. All of the alien crew marched from the room and no attempt was made to take any of the Marquis. The Mildara crew where monitored as they returne d to their shuttle and left Voyager. Chakotay quickly stood and hurried over to Janeway when it was safe.
" What is going on? "
" Mr. Kim has detected power fluctuation from the Mildara, that's all I know. "
" Captain. " Kim shouted, " The readings from the Mildara are reading critical, their shields have failed and I have a true sensor reading of the alien craft. Captain, I think it may .... "
Before he could finish the Voyager was shook by a massive explosion, the pressure waves pushing Voyager off into space.
" Shield up. " Kim reported, " We're being bombarded by debris but the shields are holding steady at 80%. The alien vessel has exploded. "
" Can you detect any life signs? " Janeway demanded.
" Scanning .... no Captain, nothing. " He answered quietly, his friend was dead.
Paris pulled himself out into a room, resting tiredly against the wall, he felt like he had been dragging himself through vents for hours. He didn't think he had much time left as earlier he had heard the alarm sound. The guards must have found the dead b odies and were now searching for him. Paris sat quietly and waited. Finally his breathing eased enough that he made the effort to look around. He was surrounded by strange alien equipment but there was something vaguely familiar about it all. A grin broke out as he realised what, he may be only a pilot but still he knew what an engine looked like and he knew how to sabotage it, thanks to the Marquis! It took a long 10 minutes for Paris to finish his work, time spent watching the door, afraid that the ali ens would stumble upon him before he had finished, but he did it.
He was lying unmoving on the ground, exhausted, tired, weary and wanting a few weeks of uninterrupted sleep, when the door finally opened and two aliens stepped in.
" It's here! " one exclaimed in disbelief.
" I'll inform the first leader. "
The Admiral and Captain quickly arrived, they stood looking down at the unmoving human. " It has caused us some trouble. " the Captain stated.
" Mendable, the others on its ship are still unaware. "
While they had been talking, one of the guards had been doing a standard check on the equipment. His frantic actions drew the attention of the Admiral and Captain.
" What is it? " the Captain exclaimed, annoyed.
" The engines are reaching a dangerous energy level. "
" Disperse the energy overload! " ordered the Captain.
" I can't, none of the controls are responding. "
" Repair them. " The Admiral stated in an uncompromising tone. " Bring the rest of our people back. " he adds to the Captain.
Both alien engineers were hurryingly trying to remedy the problem, but soon more alarms begin to sound. To the shock of the aliens, the body on the ground suddenly moves. Paris grins sarcastically up at the Admiral as he rolls over.
" Just want to see your face as we are blown out of existence. "
" You! You did this! "
" Not bad for a sub-species, is it Admiral? Trust you'd think twice before assuming a rank in Starfleet, that is if you had time to think before being blown up. "
The Admiral burned with rage.
" This is not the end. Captain, bring him. "
The Captain seized Paris, throwing him over a shoulder as they exited the room. The Admiral had already activated the escape pod and soon all three were disengaging from the Mildara. Within seconds the pod was shaken by the explosion as the Mildara's engi nes reached critical level, pieces of the ship were hurled at the pod, damaging it. The three occupants were tossed around, as the power supply and life support system were damaged. Paris was thrown directly into a wall, knocked unconscious even as his lu ngs begin to burn from lack of oxygen. The alien Captain died when a piece of debris shoots through both him and the pod. Before the Admiral enters the remaining functional stasis chamber, he grimly reaches out and pulls the unconscious Paris into his arm s. The stasis field closes and the pod drifts off into space as the main power fails.
"Captain, our sensors have gone over every piece of the scattered alien ship. There is no sign of Lieutenant Paris. "
" Thank you Tuvok. " Janeway answered, she looked over to her first officer and sadly commanded.
" Enter it into the log, Commander, that he died saving us. I'll hold a memorial service in a few days. "
" Aye Captain. "
A gloomy silence fell over the ship. Sandrine's closed.
Janeway hadn't ordered the ship to leave the area after the sensor sweep, who knows why she stayed but 5 hours later something was detected on the sensors.
" I'm picking up a ship. " Ensign Kim reported.
" Configuration? " Chakotay asked.
" It's on the edge of our long range sensors, too far to determine but it's course is headed directly towards us. "
Chakotay tapped his communicator.
" Captain, I believe we are about to have visitors. "
" I'll be right there. "
Moments later Janeway entered the bridge,
" Report. "
" A alien ship is approaching. It will reach our position at it's current speed in 6 hours. " Kim stated.
" Do they know we are here? "
" The wreckage of the Mildara is between us. I believe it would hide us from their sensors at this distance. " Tuvok answered.
" It is most likely the ship Mr Paris told us about, the one the aliens were waiting for. " Chakotay added.
" I believe you're right. " Janeway thoughtfully answered.
" Mr Tuvok. " She continued strongly, " Find us somewhere where we can view events undetected. "
" Yes Captain. "
Within six hours, the crew of Voyager watched as the alien ship halted by the scattered debris of the Mildara.
" Have we been detected?" Janeway asked.
" No Captain, the high ionised matter of the nebula with the reduction of our power output seems to be working. " Kim replied
" As expected., " Tuvok stated, " They appear to be scanning the debris. "
After a few minutes, Kim reported.
" I think they have found something, Captain. They've activated their tractor beam and are bringing a large item towards them. "
" Analyse! "
Tuvok replied, " The shape and size could fit the standard for an escape pod. I am detecting a low energy output. "
" Why wasn't this detected before? "
" It is below the standard sensor range limits. "
" Could someone be alive in there? "
" Sensors reveal no life signs and the structure appears damaged. "
" Oh. " The Captain quietly answered, the momentary hope that Paris had survived, dying.
" The escape pod has been recovered and though damaged a stasis unit is operational and functioning. " The soldier reported.
" Retrieve whoever is in that unit. I want him prepared to answer all questions regarding what happened here. "
" Yes, Grand Leader. "
It was a shocked pair of medics who unsealed the stasis unit to find two bodies, one recognised as the disguised first leader and the other as an alien. Pushing the alien into another stasis unit, should the Grand Leader wish to examine it, they set to wo rk on the first leader. Within 2 hours the first leader was ready to meet with his superior.
" Report. " The Grand Leader stated coldly. The First Leader shifted carefully, planning exactly what he would say, his life depended on it.
" Contact went as planned, discovery of fractions on the alien ship led to containment of a small number on our ship. One alien was selected for preliminary tests. The doctor was incorrect in his assessment of control, this led to the alien sabotaging the ship and destroying it. "
" An alien did all that?"
" Yes. "
A silence descended, then the first leader played his trump card, his only hope to remain alive.
" I retained custody of the alien. "
" Explain? " The Grand Leader stated, a slight softening in his tone.
" It was in stasis with me. It can be revived. "
The Grand Leader paused thoughtfully.
" Do it, then submit it to the mind probe .......... Soldier. "
The ex-first leader bowed thankfully and quietly left the room. He had retained his life, even if he was now ranked at the lowest level of his society.
" As soon as it is safe, I want to leave this area. " The Captain announced as she stood and left the bridge.
" You have the conn, Commander. "
" Aye Captain. "
Paris regained consciousness slowly, being pulled unwillingly to awareness, awareness of his many pains, his hunger, thirst, exhaustion and finally to his aching head. His eyes were forced open, tears forming when the bright light burned into them. Slowly his vision cleared and he looked up into the face of an alien.
" You may not recognise the face but I was Admiral Logan. I'm glad I have these few minutes to speak to you, I wanted to tell you exactly what is about to happen to you. You will be placed into our mind probe, this probe will take and record all of your m emories. It was this device that enabled us to act out the charade so well, after we subjected a few members from your 'federation' that we found on another ship. A smaller ship dragged here by that old fool's array. To give you the full picture, the prob e feels deep into your memories, ripping each one out completely, painfully, going deeper and deeper into your past, until there is nothing left. Then we turn the device off but by then your body itself has forgotten how to breath, even that memory will b e stripped from you and you will die. That is what is about to happen to you! "
" Then I die, " croaked Paris, " but I die alone .... you failed Admiral, my friends are free. "
" Silence! " The Admiral snarled, he nodded to a doctor standing by, " Your time is over and soon all you know about your friends and your ship will be ours. "
" NO! " cried out Paris as the device was lowered over his head. Suddenly, with complete clarity he recalled the conversation he had just had with the Admiral, then painfully the moments in the escape pod and slowing pulling each event from his mind, his time on Voyager, in prison, the Marquis, Starfleet, the academy and his childhood. His entire life was torn from his mind, piece by piece as the hours passed, leaving nothing behind.
" Grand Leader. I am detecting an occasional strange energy reading from a nearby nebula. "
" Take us closer and instigate a full scan. "
" Captain. " Tuvok called. " The alien vessel is approaching. "
" Have we been discovered? "
" I do not believe so Captain, " Tuvok replied. " I am not detecting any build up in their energy output. However their sensors may have detected our minimal energy output. "
" Very well, prepare to go to red alert. "
" Grand Leader. " The soldier reported urgently, " I believe there may be a ship hidden within the nebula. Full scans detected energy output of a non-natural source. "
" Go to battle alert. "
" Captain, a major jump in energy output from the alien ship. I believe we have been detected. " Tuvok stated.
" Red alert! " Janeway ordered. " Move us out of this nebula and get ready to go to warp. "
" A ship is moving out, Grand Leader. It is the federation vessel. "
" I want it captured intact, it would help to have detailed information on its configuration. What is the status of the mind probe? "
After checking the soldier reported, " Twelve minutes to a complete wipe. "
" Very well, keep that ship in scanner range until then. "
" Captain, the ship has made no move to attack and we are prepared to go to warp. "
" Very well, warp 8, engage. "
Voyager leapt into warp and flew from the area.
" The alien ship has match course and speed. They are following. " Kim reported.
" What are they doing? " Janeway muttered. " They know we have nowhere to lead them. "
" They may be unsure of their tactics following the destruction of the other alien ship. They are perhaps waiting for more information before acting. " Tuvok replied.
" Information from where? "
Chakotay spoke suddenly, certain of the idea that had just formed in his mind, at the startling leapt his mind has made, " Paris! "
" The alien ship has slowed out of warp. They are turning to attack. " The soldier reported in disbelief, even the Grand Leader looked surprised by this development.
" Destroy it, " he ordered, " but I want samples from the crew. "
" Yes Grand Leader. "
" Fire phasers Mr Tuvok, target their shields. I want our sensors to penetrate and scan that ship for human life. "
" Yes Captain. "
There followed a short battle as each ship circled in space, firing weapons, deflecting blows until .... " I have analysed their battle strategy, I believe I may be able to disable their shields with a photon torpedo. " Tuvok stated.
" Do it! "Janeway answered as the Voyager was once again rocked by a barrage of weapon fire from the alien ship.
" Shields down to 40% " Ensign Kim reported.
" I have placed a dormant torpedo in the alien's path, it will activate within their shields in 3 seconds ...... 2 ....... 1 ...... now. "
The screen showed the alien's shields turn a fiery red then collapse.
" Scanning. " Kim immediately stated, " I have a signal Captain, definitely humanoid. "
" Can you get a transporter lock. "
Kim's hands danced over the control board. " Yes Captain. "
" Beam him aboard! "
" Security to transporter room. " Tuvok added. At the Captain's inquiring look he explained,
" We cannot be sure that it is Mr Paris and if it is, what condition he may be in. "
Chakotay hurriedly stood up.
" I'll check things out Captain. " He left for the transporter room.
" Captain, the alien ship is altering course, it's heading directly towards us. "
" Mr Kim, do you have him? "
" Just a moment, there's a lot of interference, something else has got him ...... Just let me try ....... That's it. He's aboard. "
" Tuvok, fire phasers. "
" Yes Captain. "
Voyager fired on the nearing alien ship, ripping directly into it's hull. Within moments it had exploded, the shock waves crashing into Voyager, shaking the entire ship but no damage occurred as the shields held.
Paris had been unaware of the battle that raged around him, he was trapped, experiencing his own life in reverse as the memories pulled from his mind reached further and further into his past, right to his awareness of life within his mother's body, right to the beginning of his existence. It was moments from the end when the alien ship shields failed and the transporter beam was locked onto him. He felt the mind probe attempt to record the beam and fail, overloading and exploding. Sending, crashing back into his mind, all his memories. His mind and body could not cope with this agonising shock and simply shut down.
" Captain, " Chakotay called over the intercom, " it's Paris. He wasn't breathing so we beamed directly over to sickbay. The doctor has revived him but it doesn't look good. You may want to come down here. "
" I'll be right there. " Janeway replied, then turned to Tuvok. " You have the conn, return us to our original heading and keep me informed on the progress of the repairs. "
" Yes Captain. "
As Janeway moved to the lift, another voice halted her.
"Captain, may I come with you? " Kim asked.
" I know how worried you are, Mr Kim but I need you here. I'll have you informed of his condition as soon as I find out. "
" Very well Captain. "
The Captain walked into the infirmary to find the doctor and Kes working desperately over the body of Paris. Chakotay stood silently just out of their way, she moved to stand beside him.
" How is he? " she asked.
" The Doctor is trying to stabilise his life signs, first analyse showed Paris is suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, starvation, numerous cuts and bruises, a nasty bump on his head , a residual electronic burn on 90% of his nervous structure and also severe trauma to his brain. The Doctor hasn't had time to analyse that yet, Paris' body keeps slipping. They're fighting to keep him alive. "
They waited for almost an hour before the doctor paused.
" That should do it for now, Kes. Thank you for your help. "
" Doctor, how is he? " The Captain asked.
" It was very difficult to stabilise his system enough for me to put him on complete life support without it causing a complete collapse. I've managed to get his body to accept the life support. I can begin work on repairing the damage done as soon as I h ave a full analysis. His mind is in a deep coma, there is nothing I can do about that now and considering the weeks ahead, it may be for the best. "
" Weeks! " Janeway echoed, surprised.
" The damage to his body is severe, also the fact that sensors have detected at least 5 unknown elements inside it. I cannot risk normal treatment without tests to determine any reactions with these elements and finally his body is at the stage where any added strain and it will simply collapse. Time is the best medicine, the human body should slowly digest or reject foreign elements naturally. As to his coma, I require further analysis. "
" Will he live? " Janeway demanded.
" I cannot say at the moment. "
Janeway looked in despair at Paris' still form, to believe him gone, then to get him back only to lose him again. It just wasn't fair. She tiredly ended,
" Thank you Doctor. "
Janeway and Chakotay finally left the infirmary. Janeway halted just outside the doors.
" He saved Voyager, if that alien ship had attacked when we were unprepared, it would have won. "
" Yes Captain. He saved us and now we will save him. "
The weeks passed slowly as Paris' body healed. It become rested, well nourished and the nerves regenerated to replaces scorched ones. The foreign elements were either rejected or removed by the doctor until physically Paris was healthy. The doctor reporte d to the Captain.
" I'm ready to revive Mr Paris, Captain. Though the cause of his coma remains undetermined, I am confident he will respond to normal treatment. "
" That's good Doctor. "
" Yes, but ....... scans of his mental state during the first few weeks revealed an ...... echo. "
" Echo? " the Captain asked puzzled.
" Yes, an echo. I have searched all my medical databases and have found nothing to compare with it. This echo reduced slowly over the weeks until it disappeared but I cannot deduce if it will have any affect on Mr Paris' mental state. "
" You have no idea or theory about this echo? "
" One idea Captain, the part of the brain most traumatised and where the echoed seemed to originate deals with memories. If he has any further damage, it will most likely be in this area. "
" Amnesia? "
" Possibly. I wanted you to be aware of this when he wakes. "
" Thank you Doctor, when do you expect to wake him? "
" I am prepared to do it now, Captain. "
" Very well, I will be there within the hour and you can do it then. "
" Yes Captain. "
" Commander " Janeway spoke as she exited her ready room.
" Yes Captain. " Chakotay answered as he looked up from his seat.
" The Doctor will be reviving Mr Paris within the hour, would you like to be present. "
" Yes Captain, I would. "
There were four people assembled in the sickbay, Janeway, Chakotay, Kes and the Doctor. The doctor moved forward and placed a hyprospray against Paris' neck.
" He should begin to recover consciousness immediately "
" Alpha waves are rising, he's leaving the coma state. " Kes excitedly reported, " Entering sleep, still rising. "
The doctor lay a hand on Paris' shoulder, shaking gently and saying softly,
" Mr Paris, can you hear me? "
Slowly Paris' eyes fluttered and opened, the doctor repeated his question.
" Yes. " Paris croaked, " I hear you. "
" Good, now who am I? "
Paris stared at the doctor, his face blank.
" Do you remember me? " the doctor urged.
" Remember ........ " muttered Tom. Suddenly a look of growing horror dawned on Paris' face.
" Remember, " he hissed as his hands reached up to clutch his head. " I remember it all! " he cried out in pain, " so clearly, so vividly ...... make it stop! "
Quickly the doctor administered the other hyprospray he had ready, Paris immediately relaxed, unconscious. After checking the monitors the doctor stated,
" He's sleeping. "
" What happened Doctor, he doesn't seem to have amnesia. " Janeway pointed out.
" No, in fact I believe the reverse has happened, as he himself stated. "
" What exactly is that? " Chakotay asked.
" He remembers everything with complete clarity. "
" What exactly do you mean? " Chakotay asked in frustration.
" Tell me Commander, do you remember what you were doing this time last week, last month, 10 years ago? "
" No, not exactly. "
" Well, Mr Paris will. It seems for whatever reasons the aliens stimulated his memories, he will remember each and every event clearly. "
" Damn. " Chakotay swore, thinking of all the events in Paris' past that he knew the young man had been trying to forget. A moan disturbed the silence that had fallen, all eyes were drawn to the man tossing and turning in his sleep. Another moan fell into the quiet.
" He is dreaming, " the doctor reported.
" Can't you stop it? "Janeway asked, disturbed by the pain on Paris' face.
" Yes, of course. However I believe it would be more healthy to let him dream, his subconscious needs to deal with all these memories just as much as his conscious mind does and dreaming is one way of accomplishing this. "
" Very well, inform me when he next wakes. " Janeway turned to leave, " coming Commander? "
" I'll be along Captain. "
Janeway left, leaving Chakotay looking down at Paris with only one thought echoing in his mind, a voice, Paris' voice, stating from the darkness, ' It hurts. '
Paris awoke slowly, remembering, lying there in the darkness. The doctor had been activated as soon as the computer detected Paris was awake, but finding Paris lying quiet he did not disturb his patient. Now it was the conscious minds time to deal with al l that he remembered. The doctor informed the Captain that Paris had woken but also informed her that he was not allowing his patient any visitor. It was Kes reporting in the morning at 0800 that disturbed the peace that had fallen in the sickbay. The doc tor immediately left his office and approached Paris.
" How are you feeling, Mr Paris? "
" Will it go away Doc? " he asked quietly . " Will I forget? "
" It is too early to tell, only as time passes can I answer that question. "
" It's like looking into hell Doc. Isn't there anything you can do? "
" Your brain is still recovering from severe trauma, it would be extremely dangerous to attempt any procedure before you are fully healed. "
" Yeh, their mind probe, quite a device. Nearly had all of me, a few seconds more and nothing any one could have done to save me. " Paris fell silent.
" So Doctor, what now? "
" Your body has to be reminded about how it works under your control, about four days of therapy and then you can return to your quarters. I will however want to continue monitoring your functions over the next 3 months. "
" Okay, lets get started. " he agreed, disinterestedly.
Kes stepped forward, " I'll help him doctor. "
Tom looked up at the voice and found his mind flooded with images, the first time he had met her, sharing coffee a few mornings, bumping into her in the sickbay. Every moment he had shared with her filled his mind, he closed his eyes, feeling dizzy and lo st, slowly a voice penetrated,
" Tom are you all right? "
" Give me a moment Kes. "
The doctor had watched the activity of Paris' brain during the encounter and had a fair idea of what had happened.
" I think Kes, I'll take care of the first few sessions for now. Why don't you go and study those texts from yesterday. "
" Yes Doctor. " Kes answered, having sensed Tom's confusion. After she left the doctor placed a lock on the sickbay doors.
" Are you in pain, Mr Paris? "
" No. "
" Are you aware of the present, are you able to discern that your memories are the past? "
" Yes. "
" Good, I have restricted access to you, hopefully you will find your mind adapting to the complete recall facility you now have. I will also teach you some simple meditations that should help. "
" And if it doesn't? "
" Then I will look into a number of other options, but for now I want you to sit up. " The doctor ordered impatiently.
On his way to the bridge, Chakotay turned to enter the infirmary to check on Paris but found the doors locked.
" Chakotay to the Doctor. Why are the sickbay doors locked? "
" I have restricted all access to this area for my patient's care. "
" Paris is awake? "
" Yes, " the doctor stated as he monitored Paris' response to the Commander's voice. " If that is all Commander, I have things to do. "
" Yes .... yes .... thank you Doctor. "
" Mr Paris? " softly called the doctor, as he watched in concern the young man, his head resting in his hands, softly moaning.
" Chakotay, the Marquis, my capture and imprisonment. It was all yesterday. I feel as if I've lived my entire life in one day. "
" Remember what I taught you earlier, you have to learn greater control. Concentrate on a single moment, this moment. Let the others recede. "
Paris nodded slowly as he manage to concentrate on the physical therapy they had been doing.
The doctor changed his estimate of the time Paris would need to remain in the infirmary, he had Paris placed under a form of quarantine. No messages would reach him directly and the only people he saw during his stay were the Doctor, Kes and Tuvok. The do ctor had called in Tuvok to assist in training Paris to a stronger control of his mind. Slowly Paris learnt not to be overwhelmed by his perfect recall. For though the Doctor had concluded that the affect of the alien mind probe was not permanent, he beli eved it would be many months before Paris returned fully to normal. Finally after three weeks, Lieutenant Tom Paris was released from his quarantine.
Tuvok was waiting in the corridors as the Captain and the Commander approached. He waited till they had halted before he spoke,
" The Doctor has requested the presence of the two of you as a 'test' for Mr Paris. If he can cope with the memories the two of you will generate, the Doctor believes he can return to his position on Voyager. "
" What exactly will happen when he sees us? " the Captain asked.
" His mind is flooded by every memory the two of you shared and to any memory that is then evoked. " " So when he sees me, he will recall the maquis, his capture, trial and imprisonment on New Zealand. " Chakotay deducted.
" Yes Commander, also his time on the alien ship. "
" Let's see how he copes with us then, " the Captain stated.
They moved forward and entered the sickbay. At first Paris made no move to greet them, sitting quietly on one of the exam tables, his gaze on the floor.
" How are you, Mr Paris? " Janeway quietly asked. Paris' breath hissed in and his grip tightened on the bed, slowly he lifted his head and answered,
" As well as can be expected Captain. "
His gaze turned to Chakotay, for a few moments his eyes dulled from remembered pain and torment. " Hello Commander. It's good to finally see you both again, here and well. "
" Yes. " Chakotay answered calmly, though inside he felt pain for his friend. He realised now that all his concern over Paris was because they had been becoming friends, each beginning to respect and trust the other, to put the past behind them. But now i t seemed that that was not to be, for the past was stronger then ever and Chakotay's presence would bring Paris only pain.
" Do you require me further Doctor? "
" No Commander. "
" Then I have things to attend to on the bridge. "
Paris passed the doctor's test and returned to his cabin, greeted by Harry, his friends and the other crew members. Eventually he resumed his duties as pilot and slowly things returned to normal. Though all noticed the change in Paris, he was not the same man. He was more controlled, less spontaneous in his action and subjects to bout of withdrawal. Paris also noticed changes, Chakotay avoided him. Before Paris could fully deal with the past events, he had to deal with this new distance between himself an d the Commander.
It was late one evening, most people had left Sandrine's and once again, Chakotay had not been there. Paris decided it was time to confront the commander, he went to directly to Chakotay's quarters.
" Come. " Chakotay called after hearing the door chime. Paris entered and walked over to where Chakotay sat.
" Mr Paris. It is late, can't whatever it is wait till morning?" Chakotay asked dismissively.
" No Commander. " Paris firmly answered.
" Very well, what is it? "
" Ever since my return from the alien ship, you have been avoiding me. "
" I think you're mistaken. " Chakotay answered firmly.
" No, that's one thing I'm not wrong about these days, what I recall of the past. "
" I'm aware of the long-time recovery period for your condition, Mr Paris. "
Something in his tone gave him away.
" That's it! " Paris exclaimed, " I didn't realise, you've been staying away because of what you and I have shared in the past. "
" Tuvok stated that the Captain and I would evoke the more severe memory recalls, I choose to minimise this occurrence. I would do it for any member of my crew. "
" Yes but you did it for me, me! The traitor to both Starfleet and the Marquis. " Paris uttered in disbelief.
" Your actions here in the Delta Quadrant have shown there is more to you than I believed. "
" Thanks Chakotay, that means a lot to me. " Paris paused, letting his gaze wander around the room, before returning to Chakotay.
" About those memories you stir up, I'm learning to deal with them and they're not all bad. I remember in the cell, that first night when all I could think of was the trap we were all in and how afraid I was, not just of the aliens but of you, that you wo uldn't believe me. But then and later on, you trusted me. Chakotay, you believed in me in spite of all your doubts and the past. That I remember too. There is no reason to avoid me for the next few months while this memory trick of mine fades away. ...... ..... So I'll see you at Sandrines tomorrow. "
Chakotay paused thoughtfully, then nodded.
" Save me a game, Paris. "
" You're on! "
Copyright@1997 January - Daniela Signor