MISSION GONE WRONG
Standard Disclaimer: Tom, Kathryn and the rest of the crew, belong to Paramount/Viacom. No copyright infringement is intended. This story is just for fun - no profit will be made.
Summary: Kathryn - Tom - Shuttle - Crash - Hostile Planet - Nasty Aliens - Need I say more? Set mid fifth season. Just after 'The Disease'. Very slight spoiler for that episode.
Mission Gone Wrong
Ensign Thomas Eugene Paris thumped his pillow in frustration and rolled over once more. He needed to get some sleep. He had a mission in the morning and he wanted to be bright-eyed and fully prepared.
Of course, the mission was the reason why he couldn't sleep. He didn't want it, desperately didn't want it.
B'Elanna had looked at him incredulously when he'd told her he didn't want to go. He was usually more than eager for any chance to take the Delta Flyer out. She had grinned at him playfully. "You just can't bear the thought of being away from me for a whole week. I think that's sweet."
He had smiled ruefully, playing along with her assumption. He would miss her, he was sure; a lot more than she would him, of that he was also sure. 'She'll probably barely notice my absence,' he thought bitterly.
Shaking his head, he buried his face in the pillow. 'You're supposed to be trying to sleep,' he told himself sternly. 'Thinking about that is NOT a good idea.'
Tom rolled over once more and tried to clear his mind. The Captain! Her image came to him unbidden and he sat up in despair. A whole week! He was going to be alone with only the Captain for company for seven full days. 'There's no way I'm going to be able to handle it. No way!'
He sat up with a groan. Sleep was impossible. Getting out of bed, he paced around the room in the semi-dark, running his hands through his hair in despair.
Harry's words came back to haunt him. "She doesn't seem to have a very high opinion of you these days Tom. She told me that she wouldn't have been surprised if it had been you that broke all the rules and chased after Tal."
Him? Just because of the Monean incident he was now categorized as a rule-breaker. Someone she could no longer trust. He'd followed her blindly for over four years and because of one incident, which he still felt she had been hypocritical about, he was now labeled a rebel?
Or had she meant the chasing after the alien woman thing? 'That was also highly unfair,' he thought angrily. 'I haven't even looked - (all right, I HAVE looked but I haven't touched) another alien woman since that whole fiasco back in the first few months on board the ship. And I didn't do anything wrong then either. She was married and I tried to stop anything from happening.'
He paced around a little more. 'Since I've been with B'Elanna I haven't even thought about another woman - (all right, I HAVE thought about Seven, but everyone thinks about Seven at some time, so that doesn't count) - so where does the Captain get off saying something like that about me?'
Okay, so now that he had got himself all worked up there was no way he would get any sleep tonight. Self-righteousness was not good for one's peace of mind. He decided that since he was up he might as well go over the flight plan one more time. Anything was better than this.
"We'll be within transporter range in thirty seconds, Captain."
Kathryn's head jerked up at Tom's announcement. She had been going over Neelix's list of essential items. In reality she knew it off by heart, but it had given her something to do.
Anything was preferable to the strained silence that had been eating away at her these past three days. She had been looking forward to this mission, too. Tom was usually a witty, good-natured companion and she really enjoyed his company.
This trip had been different, however. Tom had been withdrawn and ill at ease, which certainly wasn't like him. She had tried several times to talk to him, but although he was polite and respectful, he made no attempt to continue any of the conversations she had tried to initiate.
Tom had denied that there was anything wrong when she had asked him, but it was obvious that that wasn't true. She had felt a little hurt that he wouldn't confide in her.
She had told herself that she shouldn't be surprised, as things weren't quite the same between them since the Monean incident. But the hurt was still there.
She stood up now and straightened her dress uniform. "Thank you Tom," she said, making her way to the transporter padd. "If I'm not back in six hours you'd better come and rescue me," she joked, hoping for some sort of reaction from him before she left.
He turned around to look at her but instead of the smile she was hoping for; he was completely serious. "You can count on me Captain."
She swallowed. "I know I can."
Tom sighed as soon as the Captain transported down to the planet's surface. He had known that her final comment was a joke, aimed at alleviating some of the tension between them. She was in no danger down on the planet, that much was certain, but he couldn't joke around with her at the moment. Her lack of faith in him, stung. Stung badly.
The Veerun were one of the most benign races they had ever encountered and the only reason the Captain hadn't brought Voyager, so that the crew could enjoy some much needed shore leave, was the rather treacherous flight path that had to be followed to get here. Even now, in orbit around the planet, there were dangerous anomalies that had to be avoided.
He climbed out of his seat and walked around the ship to stretch his legs. The Delta Flyer couldn't be left unattended, but he really wished that he could have gone down to the planet with her. A change of scenery would be nice.
"Janeway to Paris."
Tom jumped, startled. She'd only been down there five minutes. "Go ahead."
"Tom, beam me back up - now."
He hurried to do as she ordered and was more than a little concerned at her dishevelled condition when she appeared.
"What happened?" he asked, as she attempted to tidy herself up.
"Let's just say that I should have taken Neelix up on his offer to accompany us. The Veerun have given us three minutes to get out of here, so we'd better get going."
"Yes Ma'am." He was already moving towards the helm.
He had soon moved the Delta Flyer out of orbit of the Veerun home world and plotted a course back to their rendezvous point with Voyager.
Turning back to look at her, he watched her for a few moments in silence. She seemed to be her usual, controlled self.
Clearing his throat, he asked. "So Captain. Do you want to tell me what happened back there?"
The Captain squirmed uncomfortably. "I insulted Chancellor Britax and his wife. And then made things worse when I tried to apologize."
Surprise filtered through him. The Captain was very good at diplomacy - usually. He waited for her to continue.
She sighed. "When the chancellor and his wife came forward to greet me, I just naturally assumed that it was the chancellor holding up his hand in greeting. You would have thought so too if you'd seen her Tom. She was very masculine looking. Anyone would have thought so," she added a little desperately.
"I see. So you said, 'nice to meet you chancellor', and turned to what you thought was the little woman and said, 'this must be your lovely wife', or words to that effect."
The Captain nodded mournfully. "I believe those were my exact words actually. You could have heard a pin drop. When I realized my mistake, I apologized profusely and seeing the three small children standing behind them said, 'these must be your children. They're adorable.' The only problem was, they weren't children."
Tom's eyes opened wide in horror. "Oh no!"
"Oh yes," she corrected. "From what I could gather, they were pets of some sort. The equivalent of our dog back on Earth."
He could feel a grin spreading across his features, although he tried to suppress it. "I hope you didn't say something like, 'they're the spitting image of their father'."
The Captain seemed to choke a little. "I don't think it would have made any difference if I had, by that stage."
He turned back to his helm controls. "Well, it seems we came a long way for nothing."
"Yes," the Captain replied in a small voice. "Yes, we did."
Kathryn watched Tom as he steered the Delta Flyer away from the Veerun home world. What a disaster that had been. Tom made a strange noise and she noticed his shoulders were shaking. "Tom?"
"Yes Captain?" he seemed to choke out.
"Are you laughing at me?"
"Laughing? Me?" He turned around to face her, his face full of amusement. He chuckled a few times. "I just wish I'd been there to see their faces, that's all."
She shook her head. "It wasn't funny at the time. I've never been so horrified in my life." She chuckled a few times herself. That seemed to set Tom off completely and she found she soon joined him.
She laughed until she developed a stitch in her side and she noticed that Tom was holding his own side too. Their laughter died down and they sat there grinning at each other instead.
She thought how good it felt to be laughing with Tom again, even if it was at the Veerun's expense - not to mention Neelix's list of essential supplies.
Tom turned back to his console, still chuckling every now and then, and started telling her about the time his father had introduced him to an Ambassador and his wife, who - to his six-year old eyes - resembled fish, at a Starfleet function.
He had asked them politely if they were cannon balls, since they were eating freshly caught trout at the time.
She soon found that she was laughing in delight as Tom acted out the whole thing. His wide-eyed innocence, the Ambassador and his wife opening and shutting their mouths in astonishment, and the horrified embarrassment of his parents.
This time she had to hold both her sides, as the stitch returned. Tom sent her a wicked grin and she couldn't believe how happy she felt.
A warning beep from the console in front of her made her sober immediately. "Tom, we're heading into a rather nasty ion storm."
"I see it," Tom called out. "You'd better hold on to something. We're in for a rough ride."
She gritted her teeth and braced herself. They would get through this without a scratch, nobody could fly like Tom could.
Tom cursed as he struggled to keep the Flyer steady. Their situation was grim. The Flyer's primary systems were off line and most of the secondary ones seemed to be as well.
"Captain, we can't keep this up any longer," he cried out, as they both fought desperately to stay in their seats.
"I know," she called. "There's a small planet, not too far away. All I can tell is that it's M-Class. Do you think you can get us there?"
"Send me the co-ordinates," he said grimly, as sparks ignited around him. "I'll get us there." He prayed that the Flyer would hold together long enough for them to make it. He knew without a doubt that if they were in any of the other shuttles on Voyager they wouldn't have a chance.
But the Delta Flyer was tough. They'd make it. They had to.
"Tom! Tom, wake up."
Someone was shaking his shoulder and he brushed the hand away impatiently. One more hour was all he needed. He rolled over. Gods, the bed was hard. And what was wrong with his head?
"Tom, come on. Open your eyes."
The hand was back again, more insistent this time. He managed to crack open one eye, but couldn't seem to focus for some reason.
A blurred face was peering down at him and it suddenly came to him that he wasn't in bed after all; he was lying on the ground.
He attempted to sit up, only to find the sudden rush to his head, more than he could handle. He groaned and lay back down.
The hand was back on his shoulder once more. "Lie still. You've had a concussion. I may not be the official Doctor's assistant, but I do know how to treat a head wound."
He wanted to ask what had happened, where he was, but his throat felt too dry to speak. Besides, everyone always asked that. He tried to think of something a little more original to say.
"Your head should clear in a few minutes," she told him, putting a canteen to his lips.
He drank greedily, the water making him feel better immediately. He tried to sit up once more, and this time was successful.
"What happened?" he croaked out involuntarily and then groaned as he realized what he'd said.
"We did?" And then all of a sudden he remembered everything. Looking around frantically he spied the Delta Flyer. "How'd I get out here?"
"I dragged you. There were a lot of circuits on fire in there, so I thought you'd be safer out here."
"Oh! Thanks. How about you? You weren't hurt, were you?"
"Just a few scrapes and bruises. We were both very lucky. Unfortunately the Flyer wasn't so lucky. She's salvageable, but we certainly haven't got the right equipment to fix her. We're going to have to wait for Voyager."
He took another sip of water. "It looks like we'll be roughing it for a few days Captain. The Delta Flyer's pretty well stocked though, so it won't be too bad."
Janeway nodded. "That's what I thought. It will only be four or five days till they find us. I don't think we were knocked too far off course by that storm. Now, let's see if you can stand."
She helped him up and he stood swaying dizzily for a few moments, before she let him go.
"How do you feel?"
"Better," he said with relief. He frowned as he looked around at their surroundings. "I really picked a great landing spot." He indicated the sheer cliff face on either side of them.
The Captain glanced around also. "We appear to be in a ravine of some sort. At least we're sheltered. Let's go back into the Flyer and see what we can salvage."
"We've got about a weeks worth of food here," Tom announced as he rummaged around in the food locker. "Water could be a problem though."
Kathryrn sighed. "I don't feel like climbing up that cliff face, so we'll just have to hope there's some water in the ravine. We'll go and investigate in a minute. I think we should sleep in here at night, I've got a feeling it's going to get cold out there."
Tom nodded in agreement. "Your tricorder hasn't picked up any signs of life on this planet, has it?"
"The cliff is blocking any signals from getting through. Why? Do you think we may have some unexpected visitors in the middle of the night?"
He shrugged. "Something just may feel like slithering down the cliff to see what we're up to."
"Well then, let's hope that whatever it is, is friendly."
Tom grinned at her and stuck his head back in the food locker. "We should have enough water to last us for a few days, if we take it easy," he called out.
"Good," she answered pulling out some blankets from a storage locker and attempting to clear some room on the floor to spread them out on.
"Damn it," she said suddenly. "I've lost my commbadge somewhere." She hunted around on the floor to no avail.
"Does it matter?" Tom asked. "If Voyager tries to contact us, I've still got mine."
"That's true. It's probably outside somewhere anyway."
"Do you want me to go and have a look? If we were to get separated---"
"I have no intentions of getting separated from you. Besides it's raining."
"It is?" Tom looked outside in surprise. "And here I was worried about water. Captain, if you'll just hand me that tricorder I'll go outside and test the rain. See if it's suitable for us to drink."
"Good idea." She handed it over. "Try not to get too wet," she said with a grin.
"Yes Ma'am," he grinned back before stepping outside. "Damn," he cried out. "It's really bucketing down out here." He held up the tricorder. "Plain old-fashioned water, Captain. If you wouldn't mind handing out some empty canteens, I'll fill them up."
It wasn't long before all their canteens were full and Tom stepped back inside. He resembled a drowned rat. "That rain was so heavy, it actually started to hurt," he told her.
She handed him a blanket. "Here, you'd better get out of those wet things." She watched as he took off his jacket and skivvy. She found she was breathing a little heavily as she continued to watch while he stripped off his tee shirt.
He was unfastening his pants when he suddenly hesitated. "Um - Captain?" he said awkwardly.
She tore her gaze away, blushing furiously. "I'll see if I can find you some dry clothes."
Climbing over all of the rubble and debris covering the floor, she attempted to get her breathing under control. All she could think of was the half-clothed body behind her. In fact, he was probably completely undressed by now.
She gulped a little at the image THAT thought sent to her brain. Carefully keeping her back to him at all times, she scoured the ship, mentally berating herself the whole time.
She was acting like some sex-starved teenager. After all, she was a grown woman and it hadn't been THAT long. She stopped at that. It HAD been that long and Tom was a very attractive man. Very attractive. She'd always flirted with him a little, and he'd always flirted with her. That was just something they did together - flirt.
'Stop it,' she told herself firmly. 'You're the Captain. You don't go around ogling the crew, no matter how enticing.'
The locker she was attempting to open was stuck, so she yanked a little harder than was strictly necessary. The door opened abruptly and the sudden yielding caught her off guard. She went flying backwards and landed with a loud thump on the floor.
"Captain, are you all right?" Tom called out to her.
"Fine," she answered turning crimson as she stood up quickly. She whipped around to smile at him reassuringly and the breath caught in her throat. He was standing up, regarding her worriedly, the blanket wrapped around his upper half. She caught a glimpse of long muscular legs before forcing herself to turn her attention to the locker.
She almost sobbed in relief when she discovered a pair of brown pants with a shirt to match them.
Tom eyed the Captain warily as he prepared something for them to eat. She was acting weird and he couldn't help wondering if she'd injured herself in the crash and wouldn't admit it.
It had been raining steadily for hours now and although it was a relief to know they wouldn't have to worry about water, he really wished they could go outside and investigate. He didn't like being cooped up like this. Something was niggling at the back of his mind too, but he couldn't think what it was.
The rain was distracting, it was so heavy, and a sudden rumbling made him wince. It sounded like there was going to be a thunderstorm now as well.
He almost dropped the pan he was holding as he suddenly realized what was worrying him. Dashing to the doorway of the Delta Flyer, he peered out into the rain. The ravine had turned into a seething swell of water which was already almost up to the Flyer's top step.
He felt the color drain from his face. "Captain, we have to get out of here." He turned around to look at her.
"Why? What's wrong?" She came up to stand next to him in the doorway. "We're better off in here than out there - surely."
Shaking his head he answered. "We're going to be underwater soon. With no environmental controls we'll suffocate in minutes. This ravine is actually a riverbed. I can only imagine how much water this must hold. You can see for yourself how high it is to the top."
"Oh my god!" she breathed.
He grabbed frantically for some rope and tied one end around his waist. He secured the other end around hers.
"Come on," he yelled as he jumped out into the water. It was already up to the top of his thighs. He turned around to lend the Captain a hand and they forced their way through the rushing waters to the sides of the ravine.
Peering unsuccessfully through the pouring rain he tried frantically to find somewhere they could start the long climb up. It was almost impossible to see.
The water was inching higher all the time. It was now up to his waist. The Captain, who was a lot shorter than he was, was going to be in serious trouble, very soon.
He felt her stumble against him and reached out his hand to steady her. The water was up to her shoulders.
"No choice, we'll have to climb here," he decided. She didn't argue, so he attempted to find some foot and hand holds. He knew he had to hurry, the Captain would be underwater any minute.
He scrambled up the steep incline, stretching down and helping her out of the murky water, just as it reached her neck.
She clung desperately to the side of the ravine wall while he searched for the next handhold. "There's a ledge a little way up," he had to shout to be heard. "Do you think you can make it?"
"I don't think I've got much choice," she answered grimly.
Nodding, he continued upwards. "Just put your feet and hands exactly where I do."
It wasn't long before they were perched on the ledge, panting heavily. Sometime during their climb it had stopped raining.
"Tom, I hate to say this, because I'm not an experienced climber, but I don't think we're safe here."
"I know," he answered. He pointed to the Delta Flyer, which was now completely covered by water. "The river's continuing to rise, even though it's stopped raining."
"It doesn't seem to be rising so fast, now, so that gives us a little more time."
"At least we can see a little better now." He looked up and then back at her. "We've got a pretty rough climb in front of us, Captain."
"Then we'd better get started," she said crisply. "Lead the way. You're the one with the experience here Tom."
"Yes Ma'am. One word of advice. Don't look down."
"I'll try to remember that," she answered dryly.
Kathryn determined not to let Tom know just how hard she was finding the climb. It felt like they had been climbing for hours but looking down, (the urge had been irresistible), they had hardly made any progress at all. It also didn't help to see that the water level had risen to reach the narrow ledge that they had been standing on.
Tom was trying to find the easiest path for them to climb, but his legs were a lot longer than hers. All she really wanted to do was find somewhere she could rest for a while, but the water lapping at her heels, made her struggle to continue.
Tom looked down once more to see how she was doing and smiled at her encouragingly. "You're doing really well Captain."
'Yeah right,' she thought to herself, hauling her body up painfully. The top was still a lot further away than the bottom. She had also noticed Tom's look of concern as he saw the water level below her.
"Keep moving Tom," she called up to him, gritting her teeth. "I'm right behind you."
Tom turned back around and found the next handhold. "We'll be able to rest soon Captain," he called. "There's a ledge up ahead."
The welcome news brightened her up enormously and she found a sudden burst of energy that kept her going for a while.
It wasn't long before she was struggling to continue, however. Her muscles screamed as she stretched her arms upwards and her legs felt like jelly.
Tom cursed above her. She looked up to see him, just below the ledge. "What is it?" she managed to rasp out.
"We've got a problem," he yelled down to her. "I can only just reach the ledge. There's nothing else to hold on to here. You won't be able to reach across, even with me there to grab you."
She moaned in disappointment. The thought of resting on that ledge was the only thing that had been keeping her going.
"I can't go on Tom," she groaned. "I'm sorry, but I just can't."
Tom frowned as the Captain groaned that she couldnít go on. She was exhausted and so was he. The climb was one of the hardest that he had ever done, and he was amazed that she had come this far.
"Hang on," he called down. "Iím coming."
He had to climb down and around her and almost slipped more than once. He was finally below her. "Can you climb up to where I was?" he asked her. "If you can get up there, Iíll give you a boost to the ledge."
She looked down at him, her face full of determination. "Iíll try."
He watched as she struggled one step further up and then he followed on her heels. Judging the distance between where she was and the ledge, he said, "Catch your breath and then Iíll give you a push."
"Iím ready," she said a few moments later.
He hesitated. "Um - Captain? Thereís only one place I can really push you, if you know what I mean."
Janeway was silent for a few seconds. "These are hardly the right circumstances to be worried about protocol," she finally said. "Permission granted to grab my butt."
He swallowed before placing his free hand under her and pushing her upwards. She grabbed for the ledge and managed to haul herself up over it.
Climbing up to the next handhold, he reached out for the ledge and the Captain helped him to struggle up on to it. Panting heavily he leant back against the rocky wall to catch his breath.
"We wonít be able to rest for long," the Captain said, looking down. "The waterís still rising."
He nodded, his breathing returning to normal. He had the overwhelming urge to study his hand. It felt like it was on fire. The feel of her firm round buttocks were embedded in his brain.
He imagined what the rest of her would feel like and sat up abruptly at the thought.
"Tom? Are you all right?"
He flushed guiltily. "Yeah. I was - just - trying not to fall asleep."
He couldnít believe what he had just been thinking. This was the Captain for Peteís sake. One did not think about oneís Captainís butt. There was probably some protocol against it somewhere.
Anyway, what about BíElanna? If he was thinking about anyoneís butt, it should be hers. He frowned as he tried to remember what it looked like, but found it difficult to visualize her face, never mind any other part of her.
Now the Captain however, had a lovely face. Bright, sparkling eyes, full of warmth and good humor. A small, pert nose and a mouth that was---
He jerked as he realized where his mind was wandering. What the hell was the matter with him anyway? He needed to concentrate on climbing to the top of this cliff, and he needed to stay focused.
Turning he saw that she was watching him with a concerned frown on her face. "Is everything all right Tom?"
He blushed once more. "Sorry, I got a little distracted."
She nodded, the concern still etched on her face. Heíd never noticed before just how perfect her earlobes were. They were small and dainty, just like the rest of her. And her neck! He gulped and jumped up quickly. "We should probably get moving," he said hoarsely.
"Youíre right," she said, although she was giving him a strange look.
They started to climb again.
Night fell as they made their way to the top. The moons were bright and they had no difficulty seeing.
Kathryn was tired but this part of the climb seemed to be a little easier. That was something she was immensely grateful for. They had been climbing for over three hours now, and Tom estimated that they would reach the top within the hour.
The thought kept her going. Her mind resisted her body telling her that it was time to rest. She could rest when they got there. She was an automaton, her hands automatically reaching for the next handholds, her weary body pulling itself up each time.
ĎOne more, one more,í her mind chanted over and over again.
Tom shouted up above her. "The top Captain. We made it."
She was too tired to answer him - too tired to pull herself up over the edge. Hands came down around her, pulling her up and over and she collapsed in exhaustion onto the muddy ground.
Tom fell down beside her with a groan. It was some time before she could summon the energy to sit up. Tom didnít even bother to try.
Looking around she noticed a few trees not far away and off to one side some bushes, gradually leading into a thick jungle.
The tree closest to them was broad and tall and she nudged Tom. "I think we can set up camp under there for the night. Weíll worry about investigating around here tomorrow."
Tom moaned. "If itís all the same to you Captain, Iím happy to sleep right here."
"We need to get away from the edge and out of this mud," she said sternly. "Iím really worried about how cold itís going to get during the night, and our clothes are damp again from the mud."
Tom slowly sat up and looked around. "Maybe we can use some of the foliage around here to make some sort of covering to help keep us warm," he suggested.
Untying the rope from around her waist, she dragged herself up and over to the bushes, Tom following her.
It wasnít long before they had made a mattress out of some bracken and covered it with some large leaves. Twining some of the leaves together, they managed to make a blanket of sorts.
The temperature had dropped dramatically by this time and they were both shivering with cold.
So tired she could no longer keep her eyes open, she crawled onto their makeshift bed and gestured for Tom to join her.
He lay down next to her and pulled the leaves up and over them. Starting to warm a little from his body heat she snuggled a little closer.
His even breathing told her that he was already asleep, so she snuggled right up against him and was soon fast asleep too.
Kathryn woke up some time later feeling cold and alone. She rolled over and started to sit up.
"Itís all right. Iíll be back in a minute." Tom was standing a few feet away rubbing his hands over his arms, trying to keep warm.
"What are you doing?"
"Um, I have to use the bathroom facilities. Go back to sleep."
"Well hurry back. Itís cold without you."
She lay back down and curled herself into a tight ball, to try and stay warm. It wasnít long before she drifted off once more.
The next time she woke up, it took her a while to realize where she was. The sun was just starting to rise and the air was crisp and fresh, although still a little cold.
She stretched and yawned and then suddenly realizing that she was alone, sat up abruptly. There was no sign of Tom.
"Tom?" she called out. Was he using the facilities again?
There was no answer and she stood up and made her way over to the bushes.
"Tom?" she called out once more. Silence was her only answer.
She felt a little panicky. Had Tom even returned the night before? Where was he? The more she thought about it the more certain she became that Tom had not returned from his trip into the bushes.
She made her way into the bushes herself looking around for any clue to what might have happened to him. Where he could be.
They hadnít known if there were any other life forms on this planet. Perhaps there were.
Making her way into the jungle she eyed the ground carefully for any sign of footprints. She wasnít much of a tracker, but the damp ground should tell her something.
Unfortunately, she could find nothing. She made her way further forward, her eyes scanning everywhere. In their mad dash to leave the Flyer she hadnít had time to grab anything. Tom had grabbed the rope and a tricorder.
Did Tom have the tricorder with him? She dashed back to their tiny camp and hurried over to the makeshift bed. She found the tricorder at the top end of it, where Tom must have left it. Sighing with relief she flicked it on and scanned the area for human life signs. There were none.
Picking up the only other thing she had - the rope - she went back to the bushes trying to remember exactly where Tom had been standing. His residual signs were here, but so were some others.
A small knot of fear wedged itself in her chest. There were five other life signs here. It looked like Tom had been captured. Why hadnít they come and taken her too? Didnít they know she was there? Why hadnít she heard anything?
Cursing, she made her way into the jungle following the faint trail the tricorder showed. Wherever Tom was, it was up to her to find him.
Tom woke up as a bucket of cold water was splashed over him. Spluttering, he sat up quickly and glared at the guard who was grinning at him mockingly.
The guard said something to him but he had no idea what. He had lost his commbadge, and with it the inbuilt universal translator, sometime during the long climb away from the river.
Impatient when he didnít do as he was told, the guard came over and poked him sharply with the end of his weapon.
Guessing that he was supposed to get up and go somewhere with him, Tom slowly stood up. The guard pushed him forward and he stepped slowly out of his cell.
They walked through a compound full of other prisoners. Looking this way and that he tried to see if the Captain was anywhere nearby. He had no idea what had happened to her.
He couldnít remember much about his capture, but just assumed that Janeway had been captured too. He couldnít see any sign of her however and hoped that wherever she was, she was all right.
The compound was full of many different types of aliens, but by far the majority were of the same type as the guard who was pushing him forward.
They made their way to the center of the compound where a small building stood, and he was pushed inside. Obviously time to meet the warden. He swallowed nervously. If there was anything he hated more than prison, he couldnít think what it was at this particular moment.
He was ushered into a small brightly lit room and squinted as he was pushed into a chair. All wardenís offices looked the same, he decided, as he glanced around the room. No matter where in the universe you were. You see one, you see them all.
The alien sitting behind the desk - he assumed he was the warden - said something, but since he had no idea what it was, he simply shrugged. "I donít understand." He hoped his tone was polite and reasonable and didnít sound as disgruntled as he felt.
A slap on the back of his head, from the guard standing behind him, made him realize it probably hadnít been. He decided to try again. "My name is Ensign Tom Paris. Iím sorry, but I canít understand what you are saying."
The slap was harder this time and he swiveled around in his chair to glare at the guard. He was slapped across the face for his trouble and his head was yanked back around to face the warden.
The warden fired off what Tom could only guess were all sorts of questions at him, and soon lost patience when he could get no satisfactory answers.
Tom gave him a small smile. It was easy to resist questioning when you had no idea what the questions were.
The warden pounded his fist on the table and signaled to the guard to take him away. Hauling him roughly to his feet, the guard led him back outside and across the compound once more.
He was taken straight past the cells and to a small corner of the compound instead. There, in a row, lay what appeared to be coffins. At least thatís what they looked like to his panicked eyes.
The guard and three others pushed him forward, towards one of the caskets, while another guard opened the lid.
He struggled like a madman. There was no way he was going in one of those things. No way in hell. He managed to take out the four guards holding him, before six others hurried over to see what the noise was.
Fighting in a blind panic he hit each of the guards at least once, before the blackness engulfed him.
End Part One