And This Is His Story 7
By Zappy Zaps
Thanks again to Brigid for putting
up with me and beta-reading my stories!
Part 7: Shades of Grey
The tension in the room reached every corner and each person felt it. This situation had been fairly regular lately but no matter how many times it happened nobody could get used to it. Captain Janeway’s words were only a droning sound in the background as most of the attention was directed at Lt. Paris and the guest they had come to know as Douglas. Even Janeway only had half of her mind on what she was saying.
The assembled group observed the dynamics between Tom and Douglas. Every time they held a meeting like this one, where they would try to co- ordinate their efforts in getting what they needed to create the Caretaker’s device, Tom was always on edge and Douglas was the same way. They waited for the fight, which seemed to be inevitable, but like all the other meetings it didn’t happen.
The meeting concluded and Douglas was escorted to the transporter room to beam back to the Kazon ship which waited patiently for his return. Tom was with the security officers who escorted Douglas to the transporter room. He knew how dangerous the man was and had been working with Tuvok and security to keep Voyager and her crew safe.
“Well, we’ve collected almost everything,” Captain Janeway said to the rest of her officers.
Creating the caretaker’s displacement
device had been more difficult than anticipated. Many of the components
could not be replicated. Creating the device became like a scavenger hunt
with two teams working towards the same goal but each with only half of
Janeway had no other option than to seek an alliance with the Kazon. Since Douglas had the other half of the schematic it made sense for them to work in tandem with each other. So far there had been no problems but the true test was yet to come.
They needed three more small components which could be obtained at a nearby star system. After they had those the device would be finished. Currently the device was in Voyager’s shuttle bay where it was nearly completely assembled. Only the platform and a few components were missing. Voyager’s crew were fairly certain it would work. The holodeck simulations were promising but they were still only simulations this technology was new to them and the theory behind the device could barely be understood, but still, they hoped.
It had taken them over two years to piece it together and between fighting off the Kazon sects that were not allied with Voyager and Vidians and saving the ship from various spatial anomalies they were left with little time and energy to work on this project. They had met more than their fair share of setbacks. Seska was found to be a Cardassian spy and had left the ship to join Douglas’ team and the Kazon. With the help of Jonas they had nearly taken over the ship but their attempt had been thwarted and neither Jonas nor Seska survived. Lon Suder also died during the battle.
Times had been bad but they had always pulled through and never sunk to the level of their ‘partners’. Douglas had no qualms about stealing what was needed or killing those who didn’t give it to them. Tom had expressed his disapproval of the alliance since the beginning but had never disobeyed any of Janeway’s orders. Tom may never having said it to her and Janeweay may not have known it, but Tom had a deep respect for his captain.
Another woman Tom deeply respected was the chief engineer, Lt. B’Elanna Torres. They had known each other in the academy but Tom had not been interested in a romantic relationship at the time. Now, however, was a different story. B’Elanna absolutely fascinated him. She was a mystery he was willing to devote his whole life to solving. They had started a relationship early in the journey and it had lasted through the fights, the secrets and through the near death experiences.
The meeting ended quickly and quietly. The officers filed out and returned to their stations as they waited to reach their destination. Tom had returned to the bridge and was seated at the helm once again. Janeway could tell something was bothering him and reminded herself to ask him about it later.
The trade had gone smoothly and Voyager was now equipped with everything they needed to get home except one component. A rare substance, found on only a handful of planets in small amounts, could not be obtained. The price for it had been too high. Voyager would not be able to function without the warp core, the only thing the merchant with the substance had been willing to trade for.
They had returned to the ship without the element and were ready to look somewhere else for it despite the odds but Douglas had his own ideas.
“Kim to Janeway, we’re being hailed by the Kazon,” Harry said over the comm. line. Janeway and Chakotay looked at each other and left the ready room for the bridge. She noticed Tom wasn’t at his station and wondered where he could be.
“On screen,” Janeway said as she stood in the center of the bridge. The screen changed and showed the bridge of the other ship. Douglas stood in the center next to Jabin the leader of the Kazon Olga. At the back they could see Tom being restrained by Vaiyer and Mec.
“Captain Janeway, we’ve acquired the substance,” Jabin said.
“What are you doing with my officer?” Janeway asked angrily.
“We required Thomas’ expertise in getting what we wanted,” Douglas answered, not caring in the least he had just abducted Janeway’s helm officer. “He wouldn’t cooperate though,” Douglas looked back at Tom who glared at him. “It’s a shame really. Starfleet ruined him. He had such potential.” He looked back at Janeway and could tell she was fuming. How had he been able to snatch Tom away from under their noses? “Don’t worry though, I’ll return him to you. He’s as useless now, as he was back then.” The screen went black and a moment later Tom appeared on the bridge. Douglas had installed transporters on the Kazon ship as well as most of the other components of his original ship, including replicators and weapons.
“Lieutenant, are you alright?”
“Better than alright,” Tom said smiling and reached into his pocket. He pulled out a vial of a liquid-metal substance. It was the component they needed to get the displacement device to work.
“I thought you didn’t help them,” Chakotay said. Tom gave a sly look.
“Let me guess. You stole it from him, again,” Janeway said quietly so the rest of the bridge could not hear them.
“There’s no honour among thieves,” Tom quoted.
Janeway held the small vial in her hands wondering how much blood had been shed to get it. How could they justify using this substance knowing it had been wrongfully acquired? Working with the Kazon had tested and strained the limits of Starfleet protocol and the ethics of her officers. Nothing was ever good or bad anymore; there was no clear boundary separating what was acceptable and what wasn’t. Black and white had blended together leaving only shades of grey.
“I wonder how long it’ll be until he realizes he’s missing something,” Chakotay speculated.
“That’s the best part. I switched this vial for a different one. He won’t know the other one is a fake until he tries to test it in the device, which he can’t do since he only has half of it. He’ll never know.”
Janeway and Chakotay just looked at him. Tom Paris was a Starfleet officer but just barely.
Chakotay could see the boy he had met in the man he knew now and as far as Chakotay could tell he hadn’t changed much. Sure he’d aged and learnt new things but he was still the little boy. Either Tom hadn’t grown up or the child he had met had been forced to be an adult so early there had not been much growing-up left to be done.
Tom was in the mess hall with Chakotay and B’Elanna talking about the displacement device. The only thing left to do now was the testing but to do that they had to make an agreement with Douglas.
“It won’t work,” Tom said as he stabbed a vegetable with his fork.
“It’ll work. The simulations-” B’Elanna started but Tom interrupted.
“I mean the alliance with Douglas.”
“What makes you so sure?” Chakotay asked him and Tom looked into his eyes.
“Douglas won’t trade or make a deal for something he thinks he can steal,” Tom said and was certain of the statement. Douglas had trained him to know just that; if you can steal it then don’t waste time and energy asking for it.
“Maybe he’s changed,” B’Elanna suggested. She didn’t know a lot about Douglas or the others who had kidnapped Tom since he didn’t talk about it but Chakotay had seen it first hand. He had only caught a glimpse of how Douglas treated Tom but instincts told him the boy’s life had been grim.
“People like him don’t change. They get better at what they do or they get worse but they never change,” Tom said in all certainty.
Tom Paris wasn’t afraid of much. Death and danger didn’t deter him but one person who Chakotay knew the one person who scared Tom was Douglas. Every time Douglas entered the same room as Tom he could see the tension in the set of his shoulders, he could see the fear in Tom’s eyes, which he tried so hard to hide. It wasn’t the man who was afraid of Douglas; it was the small child who had grown up fearing that man. Even with the new experiences and new knowledge Tom had gained, when he saw Douglas the emotions he felt were not the ones being produced by the moment but the ones produced by the memories.
The emotions he felt could be examined by the adult and Tom could understand why he shouldn’t fear Douglas but no matter how many times his feelings were analyzed he could not rid himself of them. They could not be changed and the fear remained.
The day finally came when they could no longer put off the furthering the alliance with the Kazon. They needed the platform, which was essential for the correct functioning of the device. Janeway, Tuvok and Chakotay met with Jabin, Douglas and Vaiyer. Tom was not pleased at being left out but he didn’t say anything. They agreed to assemble the device on Voyager but there must be someone from the Kazon Olga there at all times. Janeway had agreed and the meeting had concluded.
“Tuvok, I want you to work with Lt. Paris on increasing security when our guests are on board,” Janeway said to Tuvok once the room had been cleared.
The partnership progressed and during the final assembly of the device there had been no problems. Tom was part of the security detail in the shuttle bay whenever Douglas, Vaiyer or Mec were present. The Kazon, Tuvok and his security team could handle, but those three required special attention. Currently Tom was in the shuttle bay keeping a close eye on Vaiyer and Mec. They were helping the engineers put the two pieces together.
“Is everything alright?” Tom turned around when he heard Captain Janeway’s voice.
“Fine,” Tom answered curtly. Kathryn knew Tom’s attitude was not directed at her.
“It’ll work out Tom,” Janeway put a hand on his shoulder offering whatever comfort she could. She knew Tom was worried Douglas would try to steal the device somehow but so far nothing odd had happened.
Tom didn’t respond to her. He knew
Douglas would try something.
Walking past a beam and a set of bars Harry saw Tom on the matted floor doing some tumbling. When he finished the last sequence he noticed Harry.
“What’s up, Har?” Tom asked casually.
“Just wondering where you had hidden
yourself,” Harry plainly replied.
“It’ll be over soon, and we’ll be home again,” Harry informed him. Tom stayed silent not wanting to dash Harry’s hopes with his scepticism.
Silently they left the holodeck each busy with their own thoughts. Harry looked at Tom, wondering what was going through his head. He didn’t quite understand Tom and what made him tick but then again nobody really did. He could be the life of the party one minute and the next, he could fade into the crowd and you’d never notice. It’s how he grew up. Not to be recognized twice; not to be memorable; to be as subtle déjà vu as and dismissed just as quickly.
Soon the device was completely assembled and the testing began. Displacement waves were created and probes were sent in the direction of the Alpha Quadrant. They had to make sure they had made the device correctly and that they could control its power. At the press of a button a silver wave of energy left the relatively small structure. They didn’t find any debris from the probes and they hoped the devices had made it all the way to the Alpha Quadrant. They lost contact with the probes a few seconds after the displacement wave hit them and they moved out of comm. range. All the tests were successful so all they had to do now was to reconfigure the device to send larger objects.
B’Elanna and her team were looking over the device after it had been tractored back into the shuttle bay. Carefully every component was scanned and any damage was recorded. During the process one of the engineers found something on the device that shouldn’t be there and immediately called Lt. Torres to take a look.
“Torres to Janeway,” B’Elanna called
as she tapped her commbadge.
“Tom was right Captain,” she sighed. “We have a problem.”
“Janeway to Paris.”
“Go ahead, Captain,” Tom answered.
“Go to the shuttle bay and take a look at the object the Engineering team found. It seems the Kazon put a surprise on it for us.”
“Aye Captain. I’m on my way.”
In the shuttle bay Tuvok was already talking with B’Elanna. The small object had been securely fastened to the plating of the device. If they tried to remove it they would ruin the device and years of hard work would be lost.
Tom took one look at the small object and knew exactly what it was. He sighed knowing Douglas would do something like this.
“It’s an explosive of some kind,” Tuvok stated to Tom. Tom just nodded his agreement. “It can not be removed.”
“I know,” Tom said as he crouched down to look at the object. “It has a timer and a receiver.” Tom said as he looked at its components.
“Meaning?” B’Elanna asked.
“There are two ways it can be detonated; manually with a remote control or using a timer count down.”
“We could try disarming it-”
“Not possible. This thing has more fail safes than the warp core.”
“You’ve seen one of these before?” Tuvok inferred.
“I used to help build them.” Tom sighed knowing there were not a lot of options available to them.
The briefing room was filled again with the senior staff listening while Tuvok reported what he and Lt. Paris had found. The explosive wasn't large but it was big enough to destroy the displacement device. As far as Tuvok could tell it couldn’t be disarmed.
“Are you sure?” Chakotay asked Tuvok
but it was Tom who answered.
“What alternatives do we have?” the Captain asked.
“The device has a timer but it hasn’t been activated, yet, and there’s also a receiver which means it can be detonated at any instant with the push of a button. No doubt Douglas left us this little present,” Tom said and his thoughts drifted towards Douglas and what he would do if he ever got his hands on the other man. He shook himself from his angry thoughts. “As for alternatives, I have a plan which…might work. We need to contact Douglas and the Kazon.”
“Captain Janeway, what can I do for
you?” Douglas greeted them.
“Ah, yes, our little surprise. Well we needed a hostage,” Douglas said smiling.
“What are your demands?” Janeway asked, already tired of this man’s attitude.
“My Kazon friends were worried that you would try to destroy the displacement device or the technology I gave them when you leave this quadrant and you also have a few things they want.”
“Their terms what are yours?” Tom interrupted knowing there was more to this. Douglas wouldn’t have gone through the trouble of installing the explosive simply as a favour to the Kazon.
“When we get back to the Alpha Quadrant, myself, Mec and Vaiyer will be free to go and acquitted of all our crimes. We also want two of your shuttles and a supply of weapons.”
“We can’t give you that,” Janeway informed him.
“You don’t have much of a choice.” He raised his left hand and everybody on the bridge could see he was holding a transmitter with a few keys on it. “I’ll give you thirty minutes to think it over.” Douglas said as he tapped in a few commands.
“We don’t need thirty minutes,” Tom said and pressing a button on the helm controls he terminated the link and the screen went black. He turned to the Captain. “That’s all I need.” He got up from the helm and with Tuvok on his heels, entered the turbolift.
“You have yet to disclose what it is you are planning.”
“Don’t worry, Tuvok,” Tom said absently as he scanned the explosive with a tricorder.
“Vulcans do not worry.”
Tom looked up at Tuvok from where he was crouched on the floor. “Sure they don’t,” scepticism dripped from his voice.
“Will work!” Tom said in triumph and clapped his hands together. For the last ten minutes Tuvok and Tom had been working on getting into the programming of the detonator. Tom had finally managed to get into the timer’s programming and now he could put into motion the next part of his plan. He hadn’t told them what it was, asking them only to trust him. He knew the Captain would not readily agree with his plan but with the explosive armed Douglas poised to detonated it she wouldn’t have much of a choice. “I can’t disarm the device, that wasn’t part of my plan, but I can change the timer and lock it down.”
“What will that achieve?” Tuvok questioned.
“It’ll give us enough time to use
the device and get out of here.”
“I know. I need to get over to the Kazon ship and get the control from him,” Tom said.
“That course of action would be extremely risky.”
“I know, that’s why I didn’t tell you until now.”
He walked confidently through the hall of the Kazon ship occasionally hiding in an alcove to avoid being seen. He knew where Douglas was and he knew how to get there from where he had beamed in. Passing through another set of doors Tom was getting closer to his destination. He hoped Voyager was ready.
End Part 7: Shades of Grey
(Actually, I have them written I
just need to revise them!!)