Standard Disclaimer: Paramount/Viacom owns Tom and Harry, the good ship Voyager and the rest of its crew. I am just borrowing them and will put them back neatly when I am finished with them. This story is just for fun. No profit will be made.
"Report!" Janeway barked as she rushed into sickbay, Tuvok right on her heels.
The Doctor sniffed. "I have yet to determine the full extent of his injuries." He rudely pushed B'Elanna out of the way and waved a tricorder over Tom. "I believe that in future we should just strap a biobed to Mr. Paris whenever he leaves this room. It would save a lot of time."
Janeway turned to B'Elanna. "What happened?"
B'Elanna quickly explained, keeping one eye on the biobed the whole time.
"I will take a security team and investigate the mountain at once," Tuvok declared.
"He's probably long gone," B'Elanna said.
"I do not believe that is possible Lieutenant. The trail you traversed up the mountain was a long one. It has been only twenty minutes since the attack. The culprit should still be on the mountain somewhere. Could you give me a description of him?"
B'Elanna shook her head. "Not really. All I saw of him was the blue sweater. I know he had dark hair, but he had his back to me the whole time. Anyway I was concentrating on Tom."
"That is a start." Tuvok nodded and quickly left sickbay.
"Hmmn!" the EMH muttered and B'Elanna turned back to him. "What? How is he?"
"Apart from some nasty bruises and a concussion he has three broken ribs and a dislocated shoulder."
"That probably happened when I grabbed him. He banged into the mountain side when I caught hold of his arm."
The Doctor sniffed much louder this time. "Well really Lieutenant. In future when you are attempting to save somebody's life be a little more thoughtful. It's hardly worth the effort if you kill them in the attempt."
B'Elanna growled menacingly. "There wasn't a lot of time for thought. Now you listen to me Doctor---"
Janeway quickly interceded. "He is going to be all right though, isn't he Doctor?"
The Doctor nodded. "Of course," and started running the regenerator over Tom, while Janeway smiled over at B'Elanna.
"Your quick thinking saved his life," she told her patting her arm. A moan from the biobed had them both hurrying forward.
"Lie still Tom," the Doctor told him quietly, "while I finish repairing your shoulder. Lieutenant Torres deemed it necessary to rip it from the rest of your body."
B'Elanna gritted her teeth and clenched her fists as the Captain shook her head at the Doctor. "That's quite enough thank you Doctor," she said firmly, giving him 'the look'. The Doctor merely shrugged and finished regenerating Tom's shoulder.
Janeway turned to B'Elanna. "Take deep breaths B'Elanna and count to ten. I'm sure the Doctor's just trying to be funny."
B'Elanna growled and nodded, attempting to get her temper under control. Janeway turned back to the biobed just in time to see Tom slap the Doctor's hand away from him. "Cut that out," he muttered crossly.
"Tom? How do you feel?"
Tom sat up slowly, scowling at the Doctor as he did so. "I'm not sure. What happened? The last thing I remember is racing after B'Elanna into the shrubbery." He rubbed his shoulder absently.
"You were attacked from behind," B'Elanna told him. "Knocked unconscious and dragged to the cliff face. It was a Caldon male, but I didn't get a good look at him. I was too busy trying to stop him from throwing you over the cliff."
"Well at least you stopped him."
"I didn't actually, but I managed to grab your arm as you fell. That must have been when I dislocated your shoulder. The momentum sent me over the edge as well. Vorik transported us out just before we hit the ground."
"Good old Vorik," Tom said with a grin, but then he frowned. "Why would one of the locals try to kill me?"
"That's what we'd like to know," Janeway said grimly. "It's obvious he followed you up the mountain and waited for his chance."
"I haven't done anything that I can think of." Tom shook his head. "I know I haven't."
"Tuvok's down on the surface right now trying to find him. I think I'd better contact the President and tell him of these latest developments." Tom nodded as she hurried away.
Tom looked over at the Doctor. "Hey Doc, when can I get out of here?"
The EMH came swiftly over. "There there Tommy, we'll have you out of here in no time." He patted Tom's leg as he spoke.
Tom opened his mouth in amazement. "Tommy?!" he gasped.
B'Elanna glared over at the Doctor. "You're taking this too far," she warned.
The Doctor ignored her. "Would you like something to eat or drink, Tommy?"
"Tommy would like to get out of here - now!" Tom yelled angrily.
"Now you mustn't get upset, Tommy," the Doctor soothed. "I know this has been a very traumatic experience for you."
Tom snorted and jumped off the biobed. "My name is Paris. Ensign Paris! Or Mr. Paris! And I'm going." He stalked from Sickbay. B'Elanna hurried after him.
The Doctor stood thoughtfully for a few moments. "Perhaps in future I'd better not be quite so nice. That even sickened me."
The Captain looked up as the door chime on her ready room sounded. "Enter," she ordered.
Tuvok entered the room, his solemn face looking even more serious than usual. "Captain, we have been unable to locate anybody on the mountain side. The evidence leads me to believe that the man we are looking for made his escape in some type of vehicle he had hidden."
Janeway sighed. "I didn't think we'd be able to find him that easily."
"I have conducted interviews with some of the more knowledgeable locals, but so far I can find no reason that someone would want to hurt Mr. Paris."
"Tom can't think of any one either. I can't help wondering if the accident Tom had in the street yesterday was really an accident. It seems to be too much of a coincidence."
"Given the circumstances, I concur. It would seem that however unwittingly, Mr. Paris has made an enemy amongst the Caldons."
"But who? And for that matter, when and how? He was only down on the planet for about an hour the very first day before hearing about Harry's accident and beaming up again. I know Tom can be trying at times, but even he couldn't make an enemy - one bitter enough to actually kill him - in less than an hour."
Tuvok stood quietly for a few moments, obviously deep in thought. "Captain, I find my thoughts returning to Mr. Kim's accident. I believe that considering these latest events that that too seems too much of a coincidence."
"You think somebody tried to kill Harry as well?"
Tuvok nodded. "Yes Captain. It is the logical conclusion."
"What are we dealing with here? A madman? Someone out to kill any strangers on the planet?"
"I do not believe so Captain. Although we cannot rule out the possibility that any of the Voyager crew are in danger, I surmise that it is Ensigns Paris and Kim that are the targets. None of the rest of the crew has had any accidents."
"That's true. But why?"
"The Ensigns were the ones that landed on Caldon Prime. The enemy must have been made there and he has followed them here for revenge. As to why, perhaps they can enlighten us?"
Janeway nodded. "Tom's in his quarters, but Harry's down on the planet. Considering he could be in danger we'd better get him back up here."
Tuvok agreed. "I'll see to it at once Captain."
"I'll get Tom in here and see if he can shed some light for us."
Tom shook his head. "I can't think of anything Captain. The Caldon Doctor made an enemy of me, I'll tell you that much, but I don't remember doing anything to him. Least nothing bad enough for him to follow me all the way here to kill me. He could have done that back on Caldon Prime."
Janeway smiled. "You can't think of anything else?"
"Well there was this one guard - he was downright mean. He had it in for me right from the start. Harry and me were kind of responsible for getting him sacked."
"Sacked?" Tuvok queried.
"Yeah, you know. Lose your job. The Caldon President sent him away. Made him a Cargo hauler or something. I'm not sure of all the details as their doctor was treating me at the time. I do have vague recollections of the guard coming back later and yelling about revenge and hunting us down."
"Mr. Paris. Why didn't you tell us this sooner?" There was slight reproach in Tuvok's voice.
"I forgot about it, plus I didn't take it seriously. I never thought he'd chase after us and try and kill us."
"All threats should be taken seriously," Tuvok scolded.
"Yeah, I guess so. I've had other things on my mind." Tom turned a little red and put his head down.
The Captain studied him carefully. "Tuvok? Perhaps you could go and see if Harry has returned yet? If so, I'd like to see him."
As soon as the doors closed she returned her attention to Tom. He looked up as he felt her gaze on him.
"Is there something wrong Tom, besides all this I mean?"
"It's kind of embarrassing," he muttered.
"Tom, I thought we talked about this. You mustn't feel embarrassed about what happened the other day. You were under the influence of some foreign narcotics. I believed that you accepted that."
"I did! I do! It's not that Captain."
"Well, what is it then? Talk to me Tom. You know you can confide in me, don't you?"
"Yes Ma'am. It's - it's - damn it - it's the Doc. He's driving me crazy. He's being so nice to me it's uncomfortable. And earlier today he called me - 'Tommy'. And he keeps patting my arm or leg and stroking my face and well I just can't take it anymore."
"I - I see." Janeway looked a little startled.
"It's all my fault," Tom continued. "When I was drugged I told Chakotay that the Doc hurt my feelings sometimes and I mentioned again in sickbay how mean he was. Chakotay decided to have one of his quiet little talks with the Doc and now he wants to make it up to me. It's embarrassing."
"Oh my! Would you like me to have a word with him?"
"Would you? That'd be great." Tom's face lit up as he smiled at her in relief. She quickly averted her eyes, but unfortunately found herself looking at his chest once more. Those eyes! That smile! That chest! 'That's enough of that Kathryn,' she told herself firmly.
Thankfully the door chime buzzed again and Harry entered.
"So now we're stuck on the ship," Harry grumbled as they ate their dinner.
"Only until the Caldons can catch this Garnoff."
"How long do you think that will take them? We're only going to be here for two more days."
Tom shrugged. "Quite frankly, I don't care. I've had enough of this planet. In fact I've had enough of this whole system. I just want to get going again."
"A whole group of us were supposed to be going to some sort of festival tomorrow. I was really looking forward to it."
"Maybe we could have a festival on the holodeck instead. That's one good thing; we could probably have the holodeck all day if we wanted. Everyone not on duty will be down on the planet."
"If you're trying to cheer me up, that didn't help." Harry jumped a little as a hand came down on his shoulder.
Chakotay sat down with them. "Harry, Tom. I'm glad I saw you two here. I wanted to let you know that I've changed your rosters. I know you're not scheduled to be on duty until tomorrow evening, but I thought you could work the morning shift instead. That way if the Caldons catch this maniac, you can spend the rest of the time down on the planet if you want."
"That sounds like a good idea," Harry said. "Do you really think they'll catch him that quickly, Commander?"
"The Caldons are quite confident. They seem to think that they know where he is."
"I'll believe it when I see it," Tom said with a snort. "Commander, if it's all the same to you, I'd rather stick to the old schedule. I'm rostered for half my shift in sickbay tomorrow and I'd rather put that off as long as possible. Besides, in the evenings the Doc usually turns himself off and I have the place to myself."
"I'm sorry Tom, but I've already arranged the swap with Hamilton."
"Damn!" Tom muttered.
"Don't mind him," Harry said with a laugh. "He's having a few problems with the Doc."
Tom kicked him - hard. "Shut up Harry."
"Problems?" Chakotay looked from one to the other of them. "What's the Doctor doing now, Tom? Would you like me to have a talk to him?"
"NO!" Tom cried out hastily. "Um - I mean, it's all right. It's not a problem. That was just Harry's little joke. The Doctor is being very nice, actually."
Chakotay beamed. "I'm glad to hear that," he said smugly.
Harry sent Tom a questioning look, but Tom sent a warning one back.
It wasn't until they were walking back to their quarters after wishing the Commander good night that Harry could find out what he wanted to know. "Why didn't you tell Chakotay about the Doc? After all he's the one that caused it."
"That's the whole point Harry. Don't you see? Chakotay thought he was doing me this huge favor, so I can't let him know how much it backfired. I think it would hurt his feelings or something."
Harry laughed. "You're worried about hurting the Commander's feelings? Now I've heard everything."
Tom flushed a little, as they came to his quarters. Tom entered his access code and Harry followed him inside. As Tom flung himself on his couch, he tried to explain. "You don't understand. It was nice what he tried to do. Thoughtful. And you know we never got along all that well before. Even now there's undercurrents sometimes."
"That's just your imagination," Harry told him.
"Maybe. But anyway, he's always trying to get me to talk to him. He seems to think I have all these issues I need to deal with. The great wise counsel. And I can't talk to him of course."
"What's that supposed to mean? I have you and B'Elanna to talk to and even the Captain."
"Oh and you really talk to us."
"I do talk to you guys. Not everyone has these deep issues that you seem to Harry. Anyway the point is, I can't tell him personal stuff. It would be too uncomfortable and he seems to know that and gets this really disappointed look on his face. Like I'm not letting him do his duty by me, or something. Then I end up feeling guilty and awkward."
"So now you think that by letting him believe he's solved this huge problem you had with the Doc he's done his duty to you?"
"Yeah, you understand. He thinks he's helped me so now I can't let him know what a mess it is."
"So what happens now? You put up with the Doc calling you 'Tommy' - and yeah, B'Elanna told me about that, and being overly nice to you."
"Hopefully, I won't have to. The Captain said she'd have a word with him."
"Why Tom, how lovely to see you."
Tom groaned inwardly. "Hi Doc, reporting for duty. What'd you want me to do first?"
"Well there really isn't anything going on in here at the moment. With nearly everyone down on the planet it's been rather quiet. Normally I'd give you a spot quiz or some medical texts to read, but I won't do that today. I thought that perhaps we could just hang out."
"Hang out? Um - that's probably not a good idea. Aren't there some tests or something we should be running?"
"I know. I'll clean out the cupboards. We're always waiting for a quiet time to do it."
"That's really not necessary Tom. The cupboards are already tidy."
"A cupboard can never be too tidy. You're always telling me that Doc."
"Well that is true of course, but let me do it. You sit down and rest."
"No. I insist. Maybe you can give me a spot quiz while I'm doing it."
"Are you sure?"
Tom nodded vigorously. "Positive."
It wasn't long before Tom was gritting his teeth. 'If he tells me I'm doing a wonderful job one more time I'm going to scream. These cupboards are a mess.' He had deliberately thrown everything in haphazardly, just to see how far he could push the Doctor. It seemed he could push him pretty far.
"Now Tom, for your next question, we've moved on to the digestive system. What is the main purpose of the pancreas?"
Tom frowned fiercely, although his back was still to the Doctor, so he didn't see it. The Doctor was asking him the simplest of questions. Things that he'd learnt in the first few weeks of training. Then when naturally he got the question right, the Doctor praised him as if he were a genius.
"Um - I don't know," Tom lied.
"Oh now surely you know the answer to this. Think for a moment."
"Nope. I've got no idea."
"This should have been one of the first things you learnt. You should know this Tom."
"Well, I don't."
The EMH was strangely silent behind him, so Tom turned around hopefully. A decidedly false smile was plastered on the Doctor's face.
"Sorry Doc, I seem to have forgotten. I haven't bothered to study much lately. Couldn't see the point. Holonovels are much more exciting than boring medical texts." He waited for the storm to erupt.
"I see. Well of course you do have a point."
Tom sighed dejectedly. "Doc? Did the Captain come and see you, yesterday?"
The EMH frowned. "Yes she did. Why do you ask?"
"I wanted her to speak to you on my behalf, but I guess I should have done it myself."
"You are referring to how my new attitude toward you is making you feel uncomfortable?"
"It is as I told the Captain. It is just further proof of how abysmally I treated you before. You are so used to that sort of treatment that you have difficulty adjusting to niceness."
"Yeah but there's such a thing as carrying it too far."
"That's where you're wrong Tom. One can never be too nice."
"Yes they can Doc. Believe me they can. Can't you just treat me the same as you do everyone else?"
"That is what I am doing. Now how did we get on with that cupboard?"
The Doctor walked around Tom and peered into the cupboard he had just finished. The silence was deafening.
"Well, what do you think?" Tom couldn't resist.
"It is a very - unusual arrangement."
"Yeah, I thought so."
"May I ask why all of the most commonly used items are on the very bottom shelf?"
"I'm not sure I understand."
"With all the bending we'll have to do, it's one way to keep fit."
"Of course. May I remind you that I am a hologram? I do not need to keep fit."
"Well, it can't hurt, can it?" Tom was certain there would be an explosion this time. The silence stretched. Tom waited in vain.
"That was very good thinking, Tom. Now since everything seems to be finished here, perhaps you would like to have an early minute?"
"I'm not supposed to finish duty for over an hour yet, Doc."
"That's quite all right. You've worked extremely hard. You deserve a reward."
Tom sat moodily staring down into his plate. He couldn't handle the Doctor like this; it was just too much.
B'Elanna smiled over at him. "Don't worry. It can't go on for much longer."
"I don't know so much. You should have seen what I put him through today. And he was still nice to me."
B'Elanna laughed. "I wish I'd seen his face when he first looked into that cupboard."
Tom couldn't help chuckling also. "It was pretty funny. I can't believe he kept his cool."
They were still chuckling when Harry came into the mess hall. They were the only ones in there; even Neelix was down on the planet. "Hi," Harry called out going over and grabbing one of the cold serves that Neelix had left for them.
"Do you know if the Caldons have caught that maniac yet?" B'Elanna asked him as he came over and sat down.
Harry shook his head. "Not yet. It looks like we're stuck on the ship this afternoon Tom."
Tom shrugged. "As I told you before, I don't care."
"Yeah, well I do." Harry frowned fiercely. "What were you two laughing about when I walked in anyway? I need cheering up."
"Tom was telling me some of the stuff he did to the Doctor this morning."
Harry snorted and rolled his eyes. "Don't talk to me about the Doc. I've just come from sickbay." He looked at Tom. "I called in there to see if you wanted to come for lunch. The Doc was in a real snit. There was mess all over the floor and you should have heard him."
Tom grinned in delight. "That's great. How bad was he?"
"Bad - bad."
"It looks like it worked after all," Tom smiled broadly. "I'll be right back." He jumped up from the table.
"Where are you going?" B'Elanna asked.
"To see the Doc."
Harry whistled. "I'd stay away from there if I were you Tom. I don't know what you did, but the Doc's going to give you an ear full."
Tom grinned back at him. "That's just the way I like it." He took off at a run.
Tom hurried into sickbay to see the Doctor's head inside one of the cupboards and mess everywhere. The entire contents of all the cupboards seemed to be lying about the room. "Of all the idiotic, irrational downright scandalous notions---" the Doctor was mumbling.
"Doc," Tom called out brightly. "What are you doing?"
The Doctor turned around quickly. "Mr. Paris? What are you doing back here?"
Tom smiled in delight. So he was back to Mr. Paris. "I forgot something. Why have you pulled everything out of the cupboards? Didn't you like the way I arranged them?" He waited for the Doc's biting sarcasm.
"No, no, I wouldn't say that. This is entirely my fault. I had a little accident when I opened one of the doors."
The Doctor nodded up and down. "I'll have it cleaned up in no time."
"So, you're not mad at me?"
"No, of course not." The Doctor tried out a rather sickly smile. It wasn't very convincing, but it was the last straw for Tom.
"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh! That's it!" Tom fled sickbay.
Chakotay looked up in surprise as the turbo lift doors opened and a rather agitated Tom almost fell out onto the bridge.
"Tom, what's wrong?" he asked in concern.
"I have to talk to you Commander. Please?"
"Of course," Chakotay looked over toward Ayalla who was manning Tuvok's normal station. Both he and the Captain were down on the planet. "Ayalla, you have the bridge. We'll use the Captain's ready room. I'm sure she won't mind."
Ayalla nodded, curiosity evident on his face.
Chakotay led the way into the room and watched as Tom paced up and down nervously. Obviously the man had something on his mind and he was secretly pleased that the pilot had finally come to talk to him. He was a little surprised however. Perhaps the fact that the Caldon, Garnoff, was still at large was upsetting Tom.
"Chakotay, you have to help me," Tom said desperately.
"You know I'll do anything I can."
Tom nodded. "I don't want you to think - think - Damn this is hard."
"Tom. I'm not here to judge you. You can tell me anything."
Tom took a deep breath. "I want you to know that I appreciate what you were trying to do. I really do. But it's too much. He's - he's too much."
Chakotay watched in confusion as Tom started pacing again. "I don't understand, Tom. How can I help you?"
"You can make the Doc treat me like he did before." Tom's face flamed red. "You know. The sarcastic comments. The put-downs. It really didn't bother me that much. But this niceness really does."
Chakotay felt the need to sit down. "What are you talking about?"
"You had a talk with the Doc," Tom said impatiently. "Told him to be nice to me. Well, he has been. But it's too much and I can't take it any more. You've got to stop him. I'm going crazy."
"Okay Tom. Calm down." Chakotay shook his head. He'd had a bad feeling when he'd spoken to the Doctor. "I'm sorry. I'll see what I can do."
"Thanks. I didn't mean to get so carried away. It's just really been getting to me."
'Ayalla to Commander Chakotay.'
Chakotay looked up. "Go ahead."
'Sir, Commander Tuvok had just reported in. The Caldons have captured the man known as Garnoff and he is now on his way to a prison colony on Caldon II. I thought that you and Ensign Paris would like to know.'
"Thank you Ayalla. Chakotay out."
Tom smiled in relief. "Harry will be pleased. He can go to the festival after all."
Chakotay smiled also. "What about you?"
"I don't know. I don't really feel like it."
"I think you should go. I'm sure you'll enjoy yourself."
"I'll think about it."
The noise was deafening as B'Elanna yelled into Tom's ear, as they danced. "Aren't you glad you came?"
Tom smiled down at her and nodded. The festival had been in full swing by the time the two of them and Harry had beamed down. Harry had immediately disappeared into the crowd and they hadn't seen him since.
Night was beginning to fall now and the brightly colored lights strung around the streets blended into the festival atmosphere.
B'Elanna yelled once more. "I think I need to rest for a bit."
"I think I need a drink," Tom shouted back. He guided her through the throng of dancers to the refreshment area and got them both some sort of fruity punch, then looked around for somewhere a little quieter to sit down. It was a little off-putting having so many people towering above you.
"B'Elanna, Tom, over here," a voice called out. They saw the Captain and Chakotay sitting on a bench further away and strolled leisurely over to them.
"Hi," Tom said. "This is some celebration, heh?"
Janeway nodded in agreement. "I'm exhausted."
They sat chatting quietly for a few minutes until Harry suddenly appeared. "Tom, I've been looking for you," he called out hurrying over. Two Caldon guards followed him.
"What's up Har?"
"Captain, Chakotay," Harry acknowledged before turning back to Tom. "The President wants to see us."
"He wants to make some formal apology or something. He's going to present us with something. These two guards were sent to find us."
The Captain frowned. "The President didn't say anything to me about this."
"It's only just been decided," one of the guards said. "The President feels very badly about what happened to your two Ensigns, Captain. He wants to make it up to them."
Janeway nodded. She knew this was true. "I've tried to assure the President that none of this was his fault."
"Besides," Tom added. "There's no harm done. We're both fine."
"It will make the President feel better. It is a great honor." There was slight rebuke in the guard's tone now.
"Of course it is," the Captain said hastily. She turned to Tom and Harry. "Well it looks like the two of you are about to be honored."
"But we didn't do anything," Tom objected.
The Captain silenced him with a look. She turned to the guards. "Lead the way."
"The ceremony will be held in the banquet hall at the end of the street," the other guard pointed. "The President is waiting for you. There will be an announcement shortly. Meanwhile the two Ensigns must come with us. There are ceremonial robes that they must change into."
Tom frowned and opened his mouth to complain again, but shut it quickly as he saw the Captain giving him another look. "Damn!" he muttered under his breath.
"We'll see you in the hall," B'Elanna called out to them as Tom and Harry followed the guards away. "Oh and Tom - smile!"
The Captain, Chakotay and B'Elanna entered the banquet hall and looked around for the President. He was at the far end of the room surrounded by a serious group of dignitaries. They made their way over to him. "Ah! Captain, Commander, Lieutenant! How nice to see you. I hope you've been enjoying our festivities."
"It's wonderful," the Captain answered with a smile. "You have these celebrations all the time?"
The President laughed. "Any excuse we can think of."
"Well, I'd just like to thank you again for your hospitality. This planet is beautiful and has certainly provided my crew with some much needed relaxation."
"You are most welcome Captain."
"I was just wondering when the ceremony will be starting, as I thought Tom and Harry would like some more of the crew to be present," Chakotay asked.
The President smiled a little, although there was confusion in his eyes. "Which ceremony would that be Commander? This whole festival is one long ceremony."
"The Commander is talking about the presentation that you were going to make to Ensigns Paris and Kim," Janeway explained.
"Presentation? I'm sorry, there seems to be some mistake. I know of no such presentation. If you would like me to present them with something I am most happy to oblige. What did you have in mind?"
"Didn't you ask two guards to go and find Tom and Harry and take them to get ready for a presentation that you were making to them?" B'Elanna asked quickly.
"No," the President answered slowly. "There has been some mistake. I would certainly speak to you personally Captain before making any such arrangements. Are you telling me that two of my guards told you this?"
Janeway nodded grimly and slapped her commbadge. "Janeway to Paris." There was silence. "Janeway to Kim." The silence lengthened. "Something's happened to them."
"Are you sure?" The President looked shocked.
"Unfortunately - yes," Janeway answered. "And what's worse is that Tom and Harry went with them - at my urging."
"This all could be a misunderstanding," the President said hopefully. "After all, why would two of my guards do this?"
"Why did your previous guard, Garnoff, try to kill them?" B'Elanna snapped.
"He is an exception. My guards are loyal to me. They would not have done anything to harm the two Ensigns. There is no sense to it."
"Maybe these two guards are friends of Garnoff's, out for revenge," Chakotay suggested.
"Yeah, you people do seem to take vengeance to a whole new level," B'Elanna snarled.
"B'Elanna!" the Captain warned. "It's not the President's fault." She slapped her commbadge once more. "Janeway to Voyager."
'Rollins here, Captain'
"Lieutenant, I want you to try to locate Ensigns Paris and Kim."
'That could be rather difficult Captain, considering how many of the crew are down on the planet at the moment.'
"I'm aware of that Lieutenant. I am also ordering everyone back to the ship."
"Captain? Is that really necessary?" the Caldon President objected.
"Under the circumstances, I'm sorry, but yes it is."
"I understand," the President said sadly. "I will summon the leader of my guards, Veron. He will find out which guards did this."
Veron arrived shortly afterwards, but argued vehemently that none of his guards would do such a thing.
B'Elanna growled angrily. "We know who we spoke to. They were wearing guard's uniforms, so unless they stole them---" She broke off as Veron gasped and hurried away. B'Elanna turned back to the President. "Don't tell me the guards have a little room that they keep their uniforms in," she practically snarled.
The President shook his head. "No. But four of my guards are in the parade marching through the streets. They had to change out of their uniforms."
Veron came back just then and confirmed that two of the guard's uniforms had indeed been stolen.
"But why?" the President asked. "Garnoff is on his way to the penal settlement at Caldon II, so he can not be behind this."
"Perhaps it is as I suggested," Chakotay said. "Somebody close to him, out for revenge."
Veron shook his head. "That is not possible. Garnoff was not well liked. He was a bully and the only person close to him was his sister - my wife. She is here with me at the moment, but I can assure you that she would not be behind any acts of vengeance."
"The thought never entered my mind," the President reassured him.
'Voyager to Janeway.'
"Go ahead Tuvok."
'Captain, we have run several sensor sweeps over the planet. There is no sign of either Ensign Paris or Kim.'
"Try under the surface. They have to be here somewhere."
'Not necessarily Captain.'
"What do you mean?"
'It has come to my attention that four separate vessels have left the planet since Ensigns Paris and Kim disappeared.'
"You think they could be on one of them?'
'It is a logical conclusion.'
"Can we track where they went?"
'Yes Captain. I have all four ion trails.'
"Well done. We'll be right up."
The President touched Janeway's arm. "I would like to go with you."
"Mr. President, your place is here. You are needed on Caldon Prime tomorrow for urgent political matters," Veron objected. "I will go in your place."
The President nodded and turned to Janeway. "Is this acceptable to you Captain?"
"You're more than welcome," she told Veron. "Voyager, four to beam up."
Tom groaned as he rolled over and slowly opened his eyes. Harry was laying on the floor next to him. "Harry," he whispered reaching out and shaking his friend.
Harry moaned and opened his eyes, blinking them rapidly.
"Are you okay?" Tom continued.
Harry sat bolt upright and looked around. The room they were in was dimly lit. "What happened? Where are we?"
Tom sat up also, shaking his head to clear it, and trying to remember what had happened. "The last thing I remember is following those guards into that building and then they turned around and grabbed us."
Harry nodded. "I remember now. They waved something under our noses. It must have knocked us out." He stood up and went to the door. "It's locked. We must be in one of the rooms of the building."
Tom shook his head. "I don't think so Harry. We're on a ship of some kind."
"Are you sure?"
"Positive. It feels as if it's a small ship. Can't you feel it too?" Tom got up from the floor and started searching around the room.
"Not really. What the hell's going on here? Why would those two guards kidnap us?"
"Maybe they're friends of Garnoff's."
"Damn! What are you looking for?"
Tom looked across at him. "Nothing in particular. I just thought I'd see what was in these boxes. Maybe there's something we can use to get out of here, but these are full of clothes."
"Maybe we can throw them at the guards."
Tom smiled slightly. "I'd like to know where they're taking us. If they were simply going to kill us, why not do it when they first overpowered us? Why take us like this?"
"Garnoff should be arriving at the penal settlement about now, so they can't be taking us to him."
"Unless he's escaped."
"Do you think that's likely Tom?"
"I wouldn't have thought so, no. This has probably got nothing to do with Garnoff." He sighed, turning a crate upside down, and sitting on it. "B'Elanna and the others will realize that something's wrong when we don't turn up for the so-called presentation. Hopefully they're mounting some sort of rescue right now."
The doors suddenly opened, catching them both unawares. Harry was grabbed from behind as their two captors entered the room.
The man not holding Harry pointed a weapon of some sort at Tom, as the pilot jumped to his feet. "Stay right there. Our assignment is to deliver you alive, but let's just say we won't be too upset if we have to harm you on the way."
"And who exactly do you work for?" Tom asked.
"Whoever needs us," the man answered with a laugh. "This time it was an ex-guard of the president. He coached us well. We fooled you into thinking we were guards."
"I knew there was something fishy right from the start," Tom growled.
"Well, your Captain didn't," the other man laughed, pushing Harry across the room towards Tom.
"Our people will be looking for us by now. You haven't got a hope of getting away with this," Harry protested.
"We are not amateurs Ensign Kim. We are a highly trained group of mercenaries," the first man boasted. "We are counting on your ship to look for you. This ship is highly advanced with all the latest shielding. Your ships scanners will not be able to detect anything and with all the false clues we've left, they'll be running around in circles. In the meantime we will hide you until we can deliver you to an old friend of yours."
"You mean Garnoff," Tom sneered.
"That is correct. I am sorry to say that he has some very painful plans for you both."
"Garnoff was captured," Harry said. "He won't be able to meet you."
"We are aware of that, but I wouldn't worry about that if I were you. Garnoff has a very powerful friend. However, if he fails to meet us at the designated time, our instructions are to kill you ourselves."
Tom and Harry exchanged glances. "Voyager will find us," Harry said confidently.
Both of their captors laughed. "We don't think so."
"Captain, we have the cargo ship within visual range," Ayalla reported from his position at the operations console.
"On screen," Janeway ordered.
The view screen flickered to life and the Captain stood up abruptly. "Hail them," she said crisply.
"They're responding," Ayalla reported.
A female Caldon soon appeared on the screen. "This is the Cargo ship, Yerkon. Captain Sethby at your service. How can we help you Voyager?"
Veron stepped forward and a look of surprise crossed the Caldon Captain's face. "First guard Veron, what can we do for you?"
"I'm sorry to disturb your voyage, but I'm afraid that we have some questions we must ask you."
"I see. Is there something wrong?"
"Hopefully it is just a misunderstanding, but we have been informed that two rather large sacks were deposited in your cargo bay, just before you left Caldon IV a short time ago."
"The cargo all checked out. I am very careful about such things."
"I'm sure you are Captain, but we need to check the cargo for ourselves."
"May I ask why?" The Captain's voice was decidedly cold now. "We have a very small cargo for our return trip back to Caldon II. A few crates of entertainment items and the two sacks you mention are communications - letters and the like."
"I'm afraid we must check that for ourselves."
"Are these direct orders from the President?"
"Yes Captain Sethby. I am acting per his instructions."
"Very well then, but I expect an explanation. We will await your shuttle."
"These people have a technology that enables them to transport from one place to another. We will not be needing a shuttle," Veron explained.
The Caldon Captain merely nodded and the screen went blank. Veron sighed and turned to Janeway. "I suppose her attitude is understandable under the circumstances."
Janeway nodded. "I know I would behave the same way if someone wanted to check out my ship without an explanation. I don't think she was acting as if she was trying to hide anything."
"I have found no human life signs aboard the vessel," Tuvok reported looking up from his console. "There are also no weapons detected. I must point out however that some type of shielding may be in use."
"Thank you Tuvok," Janeway answered.
This was the second ship that they had stopped. The first being a family cruiser that did not take long at all to investigate and dismiss. The only reason they had followed it first was that Veron had suggested that it was highly suspicious that this family had left Caldon IV during the height of the festivities.
This was easily explained as the young mother of the three small children aboard told them that her father was ill and they had been requested to return home immediately.
As soon as Janeway saw the family of five and their pilot she decided that Tom and Harry would not be being held captive here. A quick scan showed no human life signs and she apologized to the family for holding up their journey.
When she explained to the family that they were searching for two missing crewmembers the pilot of the vessel told them about seeing two suspicious sacks being loaded onto the cargo hauler. They had immediately followed the cargo ship's ion trail.
Janeway had a feeling that this wasn't the right vessel either.
A short while later, Janeway had her feeling confirmed. They had searched the cargo ship from top to bottom, over and over again. There was no sign of Tom or Harry.
Hot and tired, she was led into what the Caldons called a staff room and offered a drink.
Captain Sethby was still a little hostile, although they had explained to her what had happened. Janeway supposed that the Caldon Captain didn't appreciate her integrity being questioned. She couldn't really blame her for that.
"I'm sorry we've inconvenienced you in this way," she began. "I hope you'll understand that we meant no offence."
The Caldon Captain shrugged. "We are complete strangers to you. Naturally you could not just take my word that everything was in order and we had not seen your missing crewmen. The tragedy of the situation is that while you were wasting both our times the real culprit has got away."
"We have the ion trails of the two other ships. We'll soon catch them. They are very slow compared to Voyager."
"I wish you luck," Captain Sethby said as Janeway stood up to go.
"Thank you," she answered, holding out her hand to shake the Caldon Captain's.
As she turned to leave, a Caldon male that had been sitting at a table nearby, stood up and hurried over. "Excuse me Captain Sethby, but before the Voyager Captain leaves, I think I have something to tell her. It could be about her missing crewmen. I might know what ship they are on."
"What is it Hetron? Why didn't you say something sooner?"
"I'm sorry. I've only been thinking about it now. It seems a little strange now that I think about it. I could be wrong of course. Reading things into it, if you know what I mean."
"No. I don't know what you mean. Make sense Hetron," the Caldon Captain said impatiently.
Janeway turned to the man and smiled at him encouragingly. He was obviously very nervous. "Tell me," she said.
"There were two men waiting on the platform for the passenger ship on its way to Caldon III and they had two youths with them. They were wrapped up in blankets and sound asleep, so I didn't really see anything of them. Now that I think about it, they seemed small - body-wise - if you know what I mean."
"Are you saying they could have been my crewmen?"
The man nodded eagerly. "I didn't get to see their faces, but the size would be right."
"Thank you," Janeway smiled. "It would certainly pay to investigate the passenger ship next." Slapping her commbadge she requested Voyager to beam her back.
As soon as she arrived in the transporter room she ordered Vorik. "Bring everyone back from the cargo ship immediately Ensign. I want to continue on as soon as possible."
Janeway slapped her commbadge once more as she headed out of the transporter room and up to the bridge. "Janeway to Chakotay. Get ready to leave Commander. We have a lead. I think we're on the right track at last."
Tom cocked his head on one side and concentrated. "We've stopped, Harry."
Harry concentrated also, but shook his head. "How do you do that? I can't feel anything."
Tom shrugged. "This ship's very smooth, but I can still feel the hum. I just assumed everyone could too."
"Not me. Must be because you're a pilot or something."
"Maybe," Tom dismissed. "We've landed somewhere," he added.
"Damn! Judging by the length of the trip, we must still be in the Caldon system."
Tom nodded. "Those goons should be back any minute to get us." But although they waited for quite some time, the men did not return.
"They must have left the ship," Harry decided. "Maybe they're going to keep us in here until Garnoff arrives."
"Well, I don't intend waiting for him," Tom said, hurrying over to the locking mechanism on the door. "Now that the ship's landed, let's see if we can get out of here. Keep an ear out, in case someone comes."
"All right, but I think this room is soundproofed. I can't hear anything."
"I thought so too. Never mind. We'll just have to hope neither of those goons comes in while I'm fiddling with this lock."
A few minutes later Harry jumped back in surprise as the door whooshed open. He looked over at Tom to see him grinning ear to ear.
"I haven't lost my touch, after all."
"Well done. The corridor's clear."
Tom nodded. "Let's go."
A few minutes later he whistled in appreciation. "It sure pays to be a mercenary here. This ship is something else."
"It sure is fancy."
"A little too fancy, if you ask me," Tom said with a frown.
"So where do we go? Try and find a way off the ship?"
Tom shook his head. "I vote for finding the bridge. Maybe we can hijack the ship."
"I don't know Tom. There could be a lot of people still aboard."
"We could be on some abandoned moon for all we know Harry. I don't think we've got much chance of escaping on foot. At least we have surprise on our side. Let's see if we can find some weapons and then try and find out where we are?"
Harry nodded in agreement. "That sounds like a plan to me. So come on Mr. Pilot - who can feel the hum of the engines, no matter how quiet they are - which way to the bridge?"
Tom headed off immediately. "This way."
A few moments later, just as they were passing a doorway, it opened and a Caldon male stepped into the corridor. They all froze. The Caldon found his voice first. "What are you doing here? How did you get on board?"
Tom and Harry exchanged glances. This man wasn't acting like one of their captors.
"Wait!" the man continued. "You're the two missing Voyager crewmen."
"Hold it," a voice called from behind them. Tom and Harry whirled around to see their two captors advancing towards them each holding a weapon.
"What's going on here?" the confused man asked, stepping in front of Tom and Harry.
"Unfortunately, you were in the wrong place at the wrong time." The mercenary aimed his weapon and fired. The man fell to the floor, a hole burnt straight through his chest.
The mercenary turned to his companion. "We'll have to get rid of the body," he told him, adjusting the setting on his weapon.
Tom and Harry looked on in horror as he then blasted the man once more. The body disintegrated immediately.
The mercenary then turned to them. "I suggest we return to your room, otherwise I may have to repeat that rather unfortunate incident."
They were quickly ushered back the way they had come and pushed roughly into the room once more. "I'm not sure how you managed to get out of here, but I'd advise against it again. One of us will remain outside the door until it's safe to leave the ship. And I can assure you, our weapons will be on maximum."
End Part Three