Comparisons
By TíPam

Disclaimer:Voyager and all her crew belong to Paramount/Viacom. No copyright infringement is intended. No profit will be made, as this story is just for fun.
 

Part Two

Kathryn opened the front door of her house and cautiously stepped inside, only to be practically bowled over by an enthusiastic red setter. "Hello baby," she said softly kneeling down and patting the dogís head. Placing her cheek against the dogís soft hair she asked. "Howís my girl?"

"Your girls fine," a voice called from the kitchen. "Iím not sure about these potatoes though."

Kathryn stood up and hurried over to the doorway. "Mark," she smiled. "What are you doing here?"

"I thought Iíd cook us some dinner, or should I make that supper?"

"Whatever you want to call it is fine by me. Iím starving. You should have called me. I would have come home earlier."

"No, you had things to do. I didnít want to disturb you. And donít worry, everythingís taken care of here. Iíll keep an eye on the house and the dog while youíre gone."

"Thanks honey. I donít know what Iíd do without you." A wet nose nudged her hand and she knelt back down on the floor again. "Oh sweetie," she said patting the dog gently. "You really havenít been yourself lately, have you?" She looked up at Mark. "Actually, Iím a little worried about her. I was thinking about taking her to the clinic."

Mark knelt down on the floor as well and studied the dog closely. "What do you think is wrong?"

"Iím not sure, but I hope sheís going to have some puppies."

"Hey, that would be great," Mark said with a smile.

Kathryn nodded. "I canít wait."

"Iíll take her to the clinic for you, if she doesnít pick up."

Kathryn hugged him tightly. "Iím going to miss you," she said softly.

"Me too," he answered before standing up and going back into the kitchen. "Now sit down and Iíll serve up."

Despite claiming she was starving, Kathryn toyed with the food in front of her.

"Youíre worried about Tuvok arenít you?" Mark finally said.

Kathryn looked up with a start. "Yes, I am."

"Try not to worry. Iím sure heís fine. Vulcans are terribly resilient you know."

Kathryn nodded. "Itís not just that. I just found out tonight that Iíve got a new chief helmsman. Itís only temporary - thank God - just this mission, but it rather unsettled me."

"Oh?" Mark waited for her to continue.

"Itís Owenís son - Tom," she finally said.

"The brat packer?" Kathryn smiled and nodded. "I see. How did that happen?" He could still remember how angry and disappointed she had been after finally meeting her mentorís son.

Kathryn sighed. "It seems heís not doing anything at the moment and wanted to fly the new intrepid class ship. Owen set it up for him. Admiral Radissan said it was my call, whether he came along or not, but how could I say no? Heís one of the best pilots in Starfleet and the badlands are going to be tricky."

"Well it might be a good thing heíll be on board then."

"Well, I intend to make it quite clear to him right from the start that itís no joy ride. Heís going to regret very quickly pulling all the strings he must have pulled."

Mark laughed at her fierce expression. "I think I feel sorry for him."

"Save your pity for someone that deserves it."

"Is he really that bad? After all, you only met him once, and Kathleen Paris did say that he wasnít normally so rude. Heíd had a bad night. You told me that yourself."

"Admiral Radissan seems to think that heís a fine young man."

"Well there you go then. Heís a pretty good judge of character."

"Yes, well so am I."

Mark snorted and shook his head. "What about poor Tuvok? You detested him when you first met him."

Kathryn had the grace to blush. "What I thought about him was all true. Itís just that Iíve learned to appreciate it. I look at him in a different context now."

"Well, then what about me. You never liked me much when we were kids."

Kathryn opened her mouth to deny the accusation, but then closed it again. "Thatís different. Youíve changed."

"Maybe Tom Paris has too. After all, heís been on the Enterprise for the past few years. Anythingís possible." He sighed as she frowned. "All Iím saying is, give him a chance, Kat. You just never know."


"Welcome aboard, Lieutenant Paris." Kathryn inwardly winced. Her voice sounded cold and flat, even to her own ears. Tomís smile seemed to freeze as he regarded her.

"Thank you Captain," he finally answered. An awkward silence followed.

Kathryn cleared her throat. "Well, have you had your tour of the ship?" She tried to put a little more warmth in her voice.

"Yes, Captain. Itís very, um, nice."

Nice? It was a beautiful ship. Youíd think he could be a little more enthusiastic than that! "Iím sure itís not on the same grand scale as the new Enterprise E will be, but sheíll do me," she bit out crisply.

"Iím sure she will, Captain."

Kathryn looked at him sharply. There had been no inflection in his voice whatsoever, but it still sounded like an insult. "Letís get something straight, right from the start, shall we Lieutenant? This is my ship. And as long as you are aboard it, you are my crewman. Your father has no jurisdiction here at all. Is that understood?"

Tom turned bright red, whether it was with anger or embarrassment, she wasnít sure. "Yes Captain," was all he said however.
 

"The attitude stays off this ship," she continued. "Is that also understood?"

Tomís face showed his confusion. He truly looked like he didnít know what she was talking about. "Understood," he answered mechanically.

"Good. Now since you wanted to fly this ship so badly youíd better get out there and do it. Weíll be leaving shortly."

She walked around her desk and headed for the doors leading onto the bridge. She turned around when she realized that Tom was not following her. He was still standing in the middle of the room. "Lieutenant?"

Tom turned around to face her. "Permission to speak freely, Captain?"

Kathryn steeled herself. "Go ahead."

"I get the impression youíre not too happy to have me here. Well, I can assure you the feelingís mutual."

"Really? Perhaps you should have thought about that before going to so much trouble. After all, you must have known youíd have me as your Captain."

Tom looked at her in astonishment. "You think I got my Dad to pull a few strings so that I could go on some sort of joyride in a new ship," he guessed.

Kathryn nodded. "Your skills will certainly come in handy---"

"Youíre wrong," Tom interrupted. "My father decided that this was a good career move for me. I knew nothing about it until I got home last night."

"I see," Kathryn said slowly. She regarded him steadily for a few moments, wondering if he were telling the truth. He might have decided that he didnít want this assignment after all, now that he realized she wouldnít put up with any nonsense. "So now what? You want me to release you from the assignment?"

Tom looked shocked at the suggestion. "No, Captain. Of course not. Unless, of course, you donít think you can work with me. Iím sorry that you seem to dislike me so much."

Kathryn shook her head. "Iím professional enough to put personal feelings aside, Lieutenant. Well, I suppose weíre stuck with each other for the next few weeks. As long as you follow my orders we shouldnít have a problem." She turned around once more to make her way to the bridge.

"Yes Maíam," Tom answered following her. The tone was the same as heíd used before. And once again Kathryn felt he had just insulted her. She felt herself bristling as she led him onto the bridge. She tried to analyze just what it was about his tone of voice that upset her so much and then it hit her. There was no respect or admiration in the tone. She was used to her crew speaking to her with both.

She introduced him to her first officer Lieutenant Commander Cavit and let him take over. As she sat in her chair and watched Cavit practically fawn all over Tom she had to grit her teeth. She didnít give a fig whether Lieutenant Thomas Eugene Paris liked her or not but the disrespect did bother her, especially since she had done nothing to deserve it.


Tom poked his head around the infirmary door as a pretty Bajoran nurse looked up and smiled. "Yes Lieutenant? Can I help you?"

Tom flashed her his most charming smile. "Actually, Iím looking for Dr. Bashir. Is he around anywhere?"

"Heís just seeing a patient. If youíd like to wait, he shouldnít be too long."

Tom sat on the chair she indicated and preceded to flirt with the nurse while he waited. By the time Julian had come out of the small examining room and entered the main room, she was giggling like a schoolgirl. He frowned at her before looking over at his next patient.

A huge smile lit his face. "Tom! What are you doing here?" He raced over and engulfed him in a brotherly hug. "Donít tell me youíve been assigned here?"

Tom shook his head. "I wish. I just thought that while Iím here Iíd look you up. Long time - no see and all that."

"It has been a while hasnít it?" Julian said with a smile. "Over three years?"

Tom nodded. "My graduation party to be exact." The two had met eight years before while still at the academy. Even though Julian had been a senior at the time and on his way to medical school and Tom had been a first year freshman they had hit it off immediately. They had remained firm friends and kept in touch ever since.

"So what are you doing here? The last I heard from you, I thought you were twiddling your thumbs waiting for the Enterprise E to be built. Why didnít you tell me you were coming? Iíd have baked a cake or something."

Tom laughed. "Actually I didnít know I was coming. Iím on a temporary assignment." He moved Julian over towards the examining room, out of earshot of the nurse. "Weíre going to the badlands to round up some Maquis."

Julian whistled. "Always gotta get in on the action, donít you Tommy?"

"Hey, this wasnít my idea. Dear old Dad volunteered me." His voice rose a little in his indignation. "Will Riker had it all lined up for me to go to Australia to test the new shuttle craft. Instead Iím stuck on this stupid assignment; doing something I donít even think we should be doing, to in Dadís words Ďhelp my careerí. What a load of garbage."

"Iím sorry Tom. Did you tell your father how much the Australia thing meant to you?"

"Since when does he ever listen to me anyway? And thatís not even the worst of it. My new Captain hates my guts. Not that that really bothers me, considering who it is. One of Dadís little protégés, crawling along behind him, molded in his image. But it will make the next few weeks kind of difficult."

"Surely not. No one could hate you once they get to know you, that is when youíre not whining and complaining."

Tom laughed good-naturedly at the dig, and punched Julian lightly on the arm. "Okay, I get the message. No more complaints from me. Iíve got three hours before I have to report back to the iron maidens torture chamber. Letís make the most of it."

Julian laughed. "That sounds like a good idea. Iron maidens torture chamber? This new ship sounds like a lot of fun."

"Actually, the ships beautiful. You should see it. New intrepid-class. Sleek, classic lines. Even the names exciting. Voyager. Pity about the Captain. She spoils the whole image."

"Voyager?" Julian paled a little and suddenly looked back at the examination room.

"Yeah. You heard of it?"

"I think so." Julian suddenly grabbed Tomís arm. "Letís go. Thereís this really great bar on the promenade I want to show you. Itís called Quarks." He was practically dragging Tom from the infirmary. "Youíll love it."

Tom pulled his arm free laughing. "Since when have I ever needed to be dragged into a bar? Dragged out maybe."

"I trust youíll ensure youíre not inebriated when you report back for duty Lieutenant."

Tomís stomach lurched at the familiar voice. "C-C-Captain," he stuttered turning around. Captain Janeway stood in the examining roomís doorway. He swallowed at the look on her face.

"I assume I can now leave Doctor," she asked Julian icily.

"O-Of course," Julian stuttered as well. "M-My nurse will contact you if there are any problems."

"Thank you," she said frostily. She then turned to Tom. "Iíll see you back on the torture chamber." It sounded like a threat. With that she marched off and Tom sank into one of the chairs.

"Phew!!!!" Julian gasped, leaning against the doorway for support. "I donít envy you Tommy. I donít envy you at all."

"Why didnít you warn me?" Tom moaned. "Why didnít you stop me?"

"I forgot she was in there. Besides, I didnít know it was her you were talking about until you mentioned Voyager. By then it was too late."

Tom moaned again. "Julian, do me a favor. Cut my tongue out now. That way I can give it to her when I return to the ship."

Julian shook his head and started to laugh. Soon he was holding his sides. "Iím sorry Tom," he managed to gasp out as Tom scowled darkly at him. "But the look of horror on your face. It was priceless." As soon as he had himself under control he reached out and pulled Tom to his feet. "Come on. We really do need to go to Quarks now. You need a drink."

Tom snorted. "I need more than one."


Kathryn marched around her ready room, too angry to concentrate. She was still as angry as she had been two hours ago. Picking up a data padd from her desk, she scanned it quickly. There was so much to do before they set off, and she felt that everything was in chaos. Her terminal beeped at that moment. Incoming communication from Earth, she was told.

Soon, Markís smiling face was beaming at her. "I wonít hold you up. I know youíre busy. I just wanted to wish you luck."

"Oh Mark! Am I glad to see you," she said enthusiastically.

"You sound a little upset. Howís everything going?"

"Weíve picked up the rest of the crew and they seem to be settling in. Weíll be leaving in a couple of hours."

"So, whatís wrong?"

Kathryn sighed. "Its Tom Paris. Heís insufferable. I donít think Iíll be able to work with him after all."

"Oh? Whatís happened?"

"I overheard a rather awful conversation while I was in the Deep Space Nine infirmary. Iíd just had my yearly checkup and was getting dressed in the examining room and he was standing right outside it talking to the Doctor. Apparently theyíre old friends."

"Why did you go to the infirmary on Deep Space Nine? Youíve got a brand new, state-of-the-art, sickbay on the ship."

"I know. Iíd just rather use it only when I have to. I donít feel comfortable with the Doctor. Itís hard to explain. Only now, I wish I had."

"Youíd better tell me what he said."


Tom watched out of the corner of his eye as the Ferengi barkeeper made short work of the naive young Ensign sitting at the bar. He had enough troubles of his own at the moment. He wasnít going to involve himself in some one elseís.

"Maybe we better rescue him," Julian said suddenly. "Quark will take him for everything heís got otherwise."

Tom sighed. "I suppose so."

"Theyíre not for sale," the Ferengi shouted jerking the tray of supposed ĎLobi crystalsí from the young manís hands. "Now," he sniffed. "Inform your commanding officer that the Federation Council can expect an official query from---"

"Quark!" Julian said quickly heading over.

"Keep out of this Doctor," the barkeeper hissed giving him a belligerent stare.

The young Ensign was desperate. "How much for the entire tray?"

"Cash or credit?"

This was too much for Tom who strolled casually over to comment in a loud voice, "Dazzling, arenít they? As bright as Koladan diamonds."

Quark gave him a dirty look.


Kathryn kissed her fingers and then touched the screen in front of her, smiling in a goodbye gesture to Mark. As soon as the connection was broken she picked up another padd to read. She felt much better now.

Mark had made her see the funny side of the situation. The look of absolute terror on Tomís face had been a sight. She was sure she could use that to her advantage. She doubted he would step out of line again. Heíd probably be on his best behavior from now on.

The chime to her outside door sounded. "Come in," she called.

She recognized the young man when he entered, from the crew manifest sheíd gone over earlier. Ensign Harry Kim. Her new ops officer. "Welcome aboard Voyager, Mr. Kim," she said with a smile.

"Thank you sir," he said breathlessly, standing stiffly at attention.

"Mr. Kim," she said with a twinkle in her eye. The poor kid looked terrified. "At ease before you sprain something."

He attempted to relax a little, but he didnít really look much different. "Mr. Kim," she continued. "Despite Starfleet protocol, I donít like being addressed as Ďsirí."

Harry flushed with embarrassment. "Iím sorry - maíam?"

"Maíam is acceptable in a crunch, but I prefer ĎCaptainí."

He nodded his head and she gestured to the door on the other side of the ready room. "Weíre getting ready to leave. Iíll show you to the bridge."

As they entered she noticed her first officer standing down by Tom at the helm. They looked up at their entrance. She noticed Tom was grinning at the Ensign standing beside her. She frowned a little. 'Donít tell me they know each other as well.' Introducing Harry to Lieutenant Commander Cavit she then directed him to the operations console.

"This is your station. Would you like to take over?"

"Yes maíam," he answered eagerly, a huge smile on his face.

"Itís not crunch time yet, Mr. Kim," she said waving him into his seat. "Iíll let you know when."


Kathryn watched sourly as one after another of the crew gravitated toward the table that Tom Paris and Harry Kim were eating their lunch. She had her own private dining room of course, but liked to eat in the mess hall to get to know the crew better.

Everybody seemed to want to ask Tom about the Enterprise. She turned away with disgust as whatever story Tom was regaling caused everyone to erupt into loud laughter. Cavit, who was sitting with her, turned around at the noise. "Lieutenant Paris certainly seems popular," he remarked.

"I think that has more to do with where he last served than anything to do with his personality."

"Yes, thatís probably true," Cavit answered quickly. "Thatís very astute of you Captain."

"Oh? I thought you liked him Commander?"

"Well, I suppose so. He seems agreeable enough."

"Not to me he isnít."

"Well no, I can see why youíd have problems with him. Thereís something not quite right there. Iíve noticed it myself."

"Have you," Janeway said flatly. She found it difficult to keep the dislike from her features. Her first officer was a crawler. A yes man. He would agree with whatever she said and it became more than a little irritating after a while.

She had already seen him with Tom on several occasions and it was obvious to her that he was trying to get Tom to put in a good word for him with Owen. If only he knew. From the little bit sheíd gathered over the past few days, Tom had no influence whatsoever with his father.

She snorted. Let the little worm make a fool of himself. Cavitís eyebrows rose. "Is something wrong Captain?"

"No. I was just thinking about something," she answered. She stood up quickly. "Iíve still got some reports to read before we reach the badlands. Iíll be in my ready room."

Cavit stood up as well. "Of course, Captain."

As Kathryn left the mess hall she turned around to see the first officer already making his way over to the group around Paris and Kim. She snorted again.


"Brace for impact!" Janeway ordered, as the ship was picked up and hurled away.

Tom fought for control, knowing it was useless, but trying anyway. He was surrounded in darkness and then all of a sudden the ship seemed to burst into light. A light so bright that he could feel it burning into his chest and face. Putting up his hands for protection, he saw a flash of red at his side and felt something covering him.

The momentum sent him hurtling from his seat and onto the floor; whatever it was still covering him. It felt heavy and Tom found it hard to breathe. His chest and face still burned, the pain becoming agonizing. He would have screamed if heíd had the breath to do it.

The noise of tearing metal surrounded him and it flashed through his mind that the ship was being torn apart. The weight covering him was so heavy; he couldnít make a sound. A horrible stench filled his nostrils and he realized it was the smell of burning flesh. As the darkness came up to greet him, he sank into it gratefully.


"Report!"

"Hull breach, Deck Fourteen." Harry Kim checked his console as quickly as he could. He still felt a little woozy. He must have hit his head on something. "Comm lines to engineering are down. Trying to reestablish." He hoped he sounded calm and businesslike.

"Repair crews, seal off hull breach on deck fourteen," Janeway rapped out before kneeling beside the two bodies lying next to the burnt out helm console. Gently rolling Cavit away from Tom, she checked him for a pulse.

Harry could see that the man was dead, from where he stood. One whole side of Cavitís face was scorched and his eyes were dull and lifeless. Harryís heart thudded in his chest as the Captain bent over Tom. He couldnít see how bad his new friend was. Her body blocked his view.

"Casualty reports coming in," a voice called from somewhere. "Sickbay is not responding."

Janeway looked up. "Thereís a faint pulse," she said to no one in particular. "Bridge to sickbay," she called out. "Doctor, can you hear me?" She gestured to two crewmen. "Take him down to sickbay. See whatís going on."

As the two men carried Tom away, Harry ventured to ask. "Captain? How bad is he?"

"Bad," she answered crisply.

Harry busied himself at his console once again. "Captain?" he called out suddenly. "Somethingís out there."

"I need a better description than that, Mr. Kim."

"I donít know," Harry blurted out, embarrassed to be unable to tell her. "Iím reading - Iím not sure what Iím reading."

"Can you get the viewscreen operational?"

"Iím trying."

Finally managing to clear up the static the structure that his sensors had picked up came into view. He gazed in wonder, still not sure what it was he was looking at. The giant array on the viewscreen looked menacing. Seeming as if it was tethered to one of the pylons of the array was the Maquis ship that theyíd set out to find.

Harry concentrated on his readouts once again and what he read made his stomach lurch and drop to his toes. He shook his head in wonder. "Captain, if these sensors are working, weíre over seventy thousand light-years from where we were." He looked at her numbly. "Weíre on the other side of the galaxy!"


Kathryn sighed with relief as she realized that the very real possibility of a warp core breach had been averted. She looked around engineering dejectedly. The chief engineer was dead, along with six other crewmembers from engineering. Her first officer and transporter chief were also dead, along with many other crewmembers from all over the ship.

She rubbed her hands over her face and sighed in frustration. Ensign Michaels, whom sheíd sent to sickbay, had reported that both the doctor and nurse were dead as well. Straightening her shoulders, she contacted sickbay. "Janeway to sickbay. Please report."

"Ensign Michaels here Captain. Most of the crew has now been treated. There are only a few minor injuries left. The Emergency Medical Hologram has handled everything."

"Well thatís good news." She steeled herself to ask the next question. She didnít know how sheíd explain to Owen his sonís death. The thought that they may not be able to return to explain anything to anyone never crossed her mind. "Howís Lieutenant Paris?"

Ensign Michaels hesitated. "Iím not sure Captain. The hologram put him in a stasis chamber. He doesnít look good."

"I see," Kathryn answered, her heart sinking. "Thank you. Iíll be down there in a minute."

Lieutenant Carey seemed to have everything under control in engineering now, so she decided to go down and see if she could find out a little more about Tom.

Her commbadge beeped before she could make it out the door. "Bridge to Janeway." It was Rollins and his voice sounded panicked. "Weíre being scanned by the array Captain. Itís penetrated our shields."

"What kind of scan?" she asked as a strange noise came from her commbadge. "Bridge? Janeway to bridge. Respond!"

All around her people started disappearing as they were caught in some sort of transporter beam. "Initiate emergency lock off," she started to order, just as the transporter beam engulfed her as well.


Sickbay was a hive of activity as the EMH program diagnosed, treated and quickly dispersed the incoming patients. "Youíre not seriously hurt," he said to the ensign lying on the biobed. "You can return to your station."

The young woman nodded and attempted to sit up. Suddenly a transporter beam surrounded her and she was beamed out of sickbay. All around the EMH the sound of the transporter could be heard. He looked around in surprise.

"This is the emergency holographic doctor speaking. I gave no permission for anyone to be transported out of sickbay." He waited expectantly. "Hello? Sickbay to bridge." When there was still no answer he sighed in frustration. "I believe someone has failed to terminate my program. Please respond." He sighed once more.

Sudden concern had him hurrying over to the stasis chamber. It too was empty. "Well really!" he spluttered. "This patient was in no condition to be moved. This is most inconsiderate. I would like to make an official notation that this course of action is against my express recommendations."

The EMH slowly paced up and down the sickbay. "Please respond! Somebody! Anybody!" Silence followed. "Computer, are there any life signs aboard this vessel?"

ĎNegative.í

"I see." Irritation flashed across his face. "Couldnít somebody have shut off my program before they left?"

ĎUnable to respond. Please restate the query.í

"Unable to comply," the EMH returned sharply. Looking around, he sighed once more. Not knowing how long it would be until some one did come along to turn him off, he decided to clean up.


Kathryn moaned as she rolled over. Standing up slowly she looked around. She was in engineering again. Everyone seemed to be lying around in roughly the same places they were, before they were snatched away. Within a few moments they were all getting to their feet.

Slapping at her commbadge she tried to smile reassuringly at everyone. "Janeway to bridge. Anybody there?"

"Yes Captain," Rollins answered.

"How long were we over there?"

"Three days," came the reply.

"Three days?" she repeated.

"Captain, the Maquis ship is powering up its engines," Rollins reported.

"Tractor them," she ordered as she headed for the turbolift. "All senior officers report to the bridge immediately."

Kathryn was halfway to the bridge when Rollins voice came through her commbadge once again. "Captain, we have a problem. Ensign Kim is missing."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes Captain. Every one else on the bridge was returned to their station except Mr. Kim. The computer says heís not on board."

Damn it!!! "Acknowledged." She sighed deeply. "Computer, how many crewmen are unaccounted for?"

ĎTwo. Lieutenant Thomas Paris and Ensign Harry Kim.í

End Part Two