Title: Nameless V
Author: Zappy Zaps
Summary: Voyager is going home and Tom’s secrets are revealed. Always some DQ Action!
Aug 01/Sept 01/Oct 01/Nov 01
Disclaimer: Paramount, A Viacom Company,
owns the Star Trek Universe. I’m not getting any thing from this. I’m just
borrowing the characters for a little adventure.
Tom sighed and entered his quarters. It had been a long day. The crew was happy though. Well most of the crew. Not all the news was good but everybody was happy that they were able to contact home and let the their families and friends know that they were still alive. Just about everyone got some sort of news but not Tom. Not yet anyway.
A quiet beep was coming from somewhere in his room. Following the sound it lead him to his closet and Tom knew then what it was. Opening a case in his closet he pulled out a small computer terminal. Activating it showed him that he had a message and the only people that knew how to send message to this terminal other than him were in the Alpha quadrant.
He linked the small console with the one at his desk. He activated the screen and a message that asked for his authorization came up. Entering his special authorization the screen changed to show a text message. He read the message knowing whom it was from. New orders, surprise, surprise. Starfleet may have found a way to get Voyager home but the technology was still in a highly experimental phase. It wasn’t a done deal but they had high hopes. Only certain people knew about it and among them was Tom’s team. At the end of the message there was a more personal note attached. He opened the message and smiled when he began to read it. It was definitely from Brandon. His writing style was very…unique. It was a brief message but it was good to have.
It just said that they were waiting for him to get back to the Alpha Quadrant and that he missed all the action. Mia told him to ‘hang tough’. Tom smiled. She hasn’t changed much. At the end of that message it was signed –Brandon and the team (-1+2). Tom sat back in his chair and stared at text in the brackets. They lost one. One of the team members died on a mission. They had gotten two new members but who had they lost. It wasn’t Brandon or Mia so that left, Amerra, Mattey, Roberta, Ian and Mossek.
He shutdown the consoles and placed the small one back in its case. He had to meet B’Elanna for that party or whatever it was that was going on. He left his quarters and went to B’Elanna’s.
When they arrived the party was in full swing and there were smiling faces were ever you looked. The Captain and Commander walked in right after Tom and B’Elanna did. Harry came over to them as soon as he saw them. B’Elanna had gotten bad news indirectly but was smiling anyway. Harry was a good friend to both of them and it was good that he had gotten some news from his parents. A few minutes later B’Elanna went to talk with some of her Maquis friends. They had received letters from friends and family members that had not died or been imprisoned. Tom hung around near the back just observing the crowd.
These people had slowly become his friends. He didn’t want to loose the life that he had made for himself here. Going back to the Alpha Quadrant would mean that he would become a shadow again –only making routine appearances to let people know he wasn’t dead. He sighed. His gaze caught B’Elanna’s and she smiled at him before going back to the conversation she was having with Mariah Henley. Tom definitely didn’t want his life to be without B’Elanna but he had other duties. He had taken an oath. He has other obligations. His mood was decidedly gloomy and the dark cloud hung over him. His mind was filled with so many doubts. Would he be able to leave the people that had become his family? Would his old team still be the same people that he had left four years ago? What would he tell his friends? //Whoa! Stop! I can’t assume that we’ll even get home. Not yet anyway.//
From behind him he heard the quick footsteps getting louder. He knew immediately who it was. Turning he scooped up Naomi Wildman as she jumped into his arms. Tom had to smile. She could always brighten up his day. "What are you up to small fry?"
"I got a letter from my daddy!" she said excitedly.
"That’s great!" Tom said. He was very happy for Naomi. It must be hard for her to grow up without a father.
"What did your letter say?" Naomi asked. She had assumed that everybody got news of some sort.
"Uh…not much just how are you? That sort of thing." He said to her, not wanting to ruin her good mood by feeling sorry for him. For someone so young she was very astute. Sam Wildman caught up with her daughter and talked for a while with her and Tom before they went to see the Captain (Naomi’s idea).
He watched them walk off together before flopping down in a chair. He sat there thinking about his situation. Wanting to go back, not wanting to go back. Feeling guilty. Guilty that he had left his team behind when he was thrown into the DQ with Voyager. The circumstances were out of his control but he still couldn’t get rid of the guilty feeling. He had left his team behind to deal with the Dominion war and now one of them was dead. If he had been there he could have helped, maybe they wouldn’t have lost that one person.
From across the resort, Chakotay saw Tom sitting alone. He was just sitting there staring into nothingness. He was still too. Tom Paris not fidgeting? Something had to be wrong. Chakotay excused himself from his little group and went to see what was bothering the pilot. For the past little while Tom and Chakotay had been developing a friendship of sorts. Tom had learnt a lot about Chakotay, his family and his people but Chakotay hadn’t managed to learn much about Tom. Tom still had never gone to him for any counselling the way the rest of the crew had and while they were just talking as friends the topic was never anything personal.
"Tom, how are you?" Chakotay greeted with a soft smile.
"Fine. Why?" Tom asked, confused.
"Well you seemed to be a little out of it." He paused hoping that Tom would say something else but when he remained silent Chakotay continued. "Headache?" Tom shook his head. "Is not getting a letter bothering you?" Chakotay guessed again. Maybe that was the cause of his sullen mood.
"Not as much as I would have thought." Tom said pensively. He shrugged "No expectations, no disappointments." He said repeating the words that he had said to Harry earlier. Tom got up from his seat. "If you’ll excuse me Commander, I think I’m going to call it a night."
While he was making his way out he saw Gerron hanging out alone sipping a drink. Tom made his way to him. Tom and Gerron where still good friends and they still hung out together, though Gerron had grown up a lot since they had been in the Delta Quadrant. Gerron waved as he saw Tom approaching.
"Hey Gerron, get any news from the Array?"
"No. I don’t have anyone waiting for me in the Alpha Quadrant anyway." He shrugged.
"No family?" Gerron shook his head.
"Maybe a cousin or Aunt but I believe that my older brother was killed during the war. He was the only family member I had left before I joined the Maquis." He was quiet for a moment. "I kind of wish that there would be someone back there waiting for me when…if we get back." He said with a touch of sadness in his voice.
"We will get back to the Alpha Quadrant and I’m sure that you’ll have someone their waiting for you. Maybe the array was destroyed before your message got through."
"Yeah, maybe." Gerron said unconvinced. Tom patted him on the shoulder and got up. Gerron would have someone waiting for him when they got home, Tom would make sure of it.
Tom left the holodeck after saying good night to Harry and B’Elanna. Going back to the AQ would be good for the ship and the crew. There was not doubt in Tom’s mind that if he got the chance to return Voyager home he would take it no matter what the outcome for him.
No Thirty Days (Tom’s still a lieutenant); The Borg children have come and gone, all except Icheb. Any other episodes that are needed to make this story make sense. (One, Equinox, Collective, Omega Directive, Extreme Risk etc.)
After the Hirogen array Tom never got another message from CO command, until today. Tom found another message on his console. It was just an update. It didn’t change anything but the possibility that they would get home very soon was becoming a reality. The next message came three weeks later. This time though it was almost detected.
They were using some experimental transwarp conduits to send messages to the DQ but his time the Astrometric scanners picked up a flux of neutrinos. Voyager spent two days studying that part of space hoping that they would be able to find some sort of wormhole. Spirits were down when they left however. They didn’t find the cause of the neutrinos and they didn’t find a way home. Only Tom knew what had happened there. They had sent him some information about the technology that would be used. He was to program the sensors to look out for a surge of neutrinos. They would be sending a team of Special Operation Agents to Voyager through one of the conduits to help navigate Voyager back through it. The technology wasn’t perfected so people had to be specially trained to navigate the conduits. The information that they gave him was to help him prepare to take Voyager through the conduit. He may be in command when it’s time to go home and he had to be prepared.
They estimated date of arrival for the team from the Alpha Quadrant was set for two weeks. Two weeks and the life he had for the past four years would be gone. Tom made a decision. It would be easier for everyone this way.
B’Elanna and Harry sat in the Mess hall together discussing a certain pilot’s odd behaviour as of late. It was a week after they had left the area of space where they detected the neutrino flux. Tom had been acting very…distant lately. He didn’t seem to be himself. Everybody that knew Tom and even those that didn’t know him well noticed a change. The Doctor assured them that it was nothing physical and Tuvok assured them that it was nothing to do with Tom’s psychokinetic powers. Tom was still going to Tuvok for lessons every once in a while but hadn’t seen the Vulcan in nearly two weeks now.
"I don’t know why he’s doing this." B’Elanna said with quiet anger as she stabbed a piece of her casserole.
"Neither do I." Harry said dejectedly. "I tried to talk to him but he wouldn’t say anything."
"Same here." Tom had always pushed them away when they got too close but this was different. They had both thought that Tom would stop doing that as their relationships progressed and he had, until a week ago. What was going on inside Tom’s head?
Five days later it wasn’t getting any better. If anything it was getting worse. Tom was rarely going out to public places. The only time he was in the holodeck he was alone and engaged a privacy lock. At the moment though they had other things to deal with. They had met a group of people called Essim the lived on a small planet and were having trouble with a power distribution system and the Captain offered to help. They had over fifty years to figure out Tom Paris…or so they thought.
Currently, the senior staff was assembled in the conference room with the exception of the Doc and Tuvok but with the addition of Seven. They had up a schematic of the Essim’s power distribution grid. They were making changes to improve the efficiency (Seven’s strong point). B’Elanna, Harry and Captain Janeway were all giving valuable input. Tom and the Commander had little experience and little interest in this field. If it didn’t fly, move very quickly or have something to with Astrophysics Tom wasn’t that interested. Sitting in on this meeting was like re-living some old boring academy classes. Tom slouched further in his chair. Chakotay sat beside him and made some comments or asked some questions but Tom had no interest in any of this. In his opinion the sooner they got away from these people the better. There was something about them that didn’t quite sit right with him. The Essim were humanoid but looked more like reptiles of some sort. Their skin (or scales) were a pale green hue and their eye’s were yellow. They had a large ridge running up their foreheads that went all the way to the back of their heads and ended at the junction of their spine and skull. They were average height but it wasn’t their appearance that bothered Tom. It was their comportment.
Essim’s were as technologically advanced as Voyager yet they seemed to be living in poverty. The crew wasn’t even going to visit the planet. The planet was just a dust ball. It wasn’t naturally like that though. Before it was a flourishing planet rich in life but the Essim’s and other species over used the natural resources that were on the planet and now they were in desperate need of a new power source. They were trying geothermal now since solar was useless since the atmosphere of the planet had been blackened so much that very little sunlight actually made it to the surface of the planet. Geothermal was the next best thing they could do. Though at the moment they were having difficulties routing the energy.
The Essims that had transported to Voyager were very secretive –only giving information when asked. They weren’t being very forth coming about information on how their planet was destroyed so badly but no one else seemed to notice, or care. At the moment the only people in the planet were Essim but there had been several different species living on the planet at one time. What happened to them? Why were there such elaborate defence systems for such a worthless planet. The air down there was barely breathable and there were only a few thousand people still on the planet. Why did they need such a large energy system for so few people. Voyager’s sensors had not been able to penetrate the atmosphere of the planet due to the large amounts of irradiated particles in the atmosphere. There was more going on here than met the eye. //Maybe I’m just being paranoid.// Hopefully they would be away from hear before they experienced whatever it was they were hiding but knowing this crew’s luck, they’ll be dragged into the middle of whatever is really going on.
Tom sighed. Chakotay looked at Tom with an amused expression on his face. Tom obviously wasn’t enjoying himself. The Captain had also noticed Tom’s lack of interest. "Mr. Paris," Janeway said getting Tom’s attention. He immediately went to alert mode. Sat up straighter and tried to look interested (and failed miserably). Janeway smiled a bit "If-" the rest of what she was about to say was cut off when the ship shook slightly and the lights dimmed before returning to their full brightness. Each person in the conference room was on the bridge in a flash trying to determine the cause of whatever was going on.
On the view screen was a pair of small ships no bigger than any of Voyager’s shuttles. They were emitting some sort of large bluish beam that was aimed a Voyager. It was some sort of EM field that was disrupting their systems; Harry informed them from his station. At Janeway’s order Tuvok fired phasers and destroyed one of the shuttle’s deflector arrays and caused the collapse of the EM field. Damage was minimal but some of the computer’s memory banks were temporarily disrupted. Some information may have been lost. The Essims told them that the attackers were one of the species that used to live on the planet before but they were now as starved for any energy and turned to thievery to sustain themselves.
When the systems were secure those that were in the conference room returned there. Tom didn’t see why he was going back into the conference room since he wasn’t being of much help, but the more the merrier, right? When they got to the monitor that had housed the new schematic of the power system the file had been lost during the attack. The Essims had the original schematic and put it back on the monitor. Everyone was disappointed but no one as much as Tom was. They had spent three and a half hours getting to the point that they were at and now it was all gone. The Captain announced that they would just have to re-figure-out what they had done before. That elicited a small groan from Tom. He was tired of this.
"Captain," Tom said getting up from his chair "If I may." He said gesturing to the computer monitor. She nodded and everybody wondered what he was going to do. Tom re-positioned some of the system components, went into Voyager’s database and added component added new sections, safeguards and when he stopped punching the keys of the monitor they had the schematic of the power system that they had before the attack.
"I hope I didn’t miss anything." Tom said looking over the schematic. Everybody was staring at him. It had taken them over three hours to figure out those changes and they had forgotten what half of them where. Tom had just rebuilt the entire system with modifications. Even Seven was impressed.
"Tom how did you do that?" Harry asked, totally astonished.
"Photographic memory." Tom said simply and returned to his seat. Seven and B’Elanna were both looking over the schematic for errors but found none.
"You saw that," B’Elanna said pointing to the monitor, "from there?"
"Yes. Good vision." Tom said going back to his slouching position in his seat. //What’s the big deal?// Tom thought. //Let’s get this done so I can get out of here.//
"Thank you, Lt." One of the Essims said to Tom. Tom just nodded politely.
An hour later the schematic was finished. The power system was as efficient as it was going to get with the resources that the Essim’s had available. They left for their world while Voyager waited for them to contact the ship and arrange the exchange of goods.
"Captain, I’m detecting a large energy build up." Harry said from his station.
"Some sort of power system on the planet is coming online." Harry said, trying to make sense of the readings he was getting.
"I’m reading a large build up to netryon energy-" Tuvok was interrupted when a tractor beam locked on to Voyager and began to drag it down towards the planet.
"Tom full reverse." Janeway ordered
"No effect." Tom called from his place at the helm. Tuvok, Harry and B’Elanna tried different techniques to disperse the tractor beam but nothing worked. //Screw this! // Tom thought to himself as he tried some old tricks that he had learnt. He would be off the ship in two days give or take. He could handle any questions the crew may have until then.
Using the warp engines to create a graviton field and setting the shield frequency to an inverse of the Warp core it caused a twisting of space-time around the ship and with the shield was able to deflect the tractor beam.
"We’re free." Tom said. He was still inputting commands into his console. From the sensors he saw three photon torpedoes coming towards them. He could only avoid two of them and Voyager took a hit to the Engineering hull.
"Shields at 74%" Tuvok stated from tactical.
"Tom get us out of here." Janeway ordered.
"Two steps ahead of you," Tom said. Voyager pivoted around and jumped to warp 9.4.
"Damage report." Chakotay said getting back into his seat.
"Damage to port shield emitters, plasma conduits on deck twelve and the forward sensor pallet." Harry said.
"Start on repairs." Janeway said moving to the helm. "Good work Mr. Paris." She put a hand on his shoulder. "You’ll have to teach us how to do that trick with the shields and warp field." Tom just smiled at her and went back to securing the helm and navigational controls.
"Lt. Paris," Seven said as she entered her domain and saw Tom at a console. "Do you require assistance?"
"No thanks Seven. I’m just about done." He tapped one last key and the large Astrometric screen went back to a scan of the sector.
"May I ask what you were doing?" Seven said utilising one of the things she had learnt in her lessons with the Doc.
"Nope." Tom said simply "See you later." Tom said cheerfully. Seven stood there for a moment. Being polite doesn’t seem to work very well. She went to the console that Tom had just left and tried to call up the last commands that were inputted but she couldn’t get to them. No matter what trick she tried the commands remained under restricted access.
"Computer who’s at the door?"
"Lt. B’Elanna Torres."
"Come in." Tom turned off his console.
"Tom are you coming to lunch?"
"That’s what you said about breakfast." She folded her arms "You never went!"
"I got busy."
"Let’s go Tom."
"I’ll go later." Tom picked a shirt up off a chair and walked to his sleeping area.
"Tom what’s going on?"
"Nothing!" He stuffed the shirt in a drawer.
"Something is going on and you’re not telling us! Harry and I hardly ever see you anymore, Tom."
"I’ve been busy!"
"With what?" B’Elanna demanded to know.
"Just a couple of things I have to take care of, okay?"
"Okay," she said after a pause. Tom obviously wasn’t going to tell her what was up. She would talk to him later. She didn’t want to push the subject now, it would only result in an argument. "Let’s go to dinner. You can do whatever your doing later."
"Red Alert. Senior officers to the bridge." Janeway’s voice rang over the comm system. B’Elanna sighed in exasperation. The first time in nearly two weeks that she was going to spend some time with Tom and now Janeway feels like interrupting.
Tom and B’Elanna stepped on to the bridge and went to their positions. Tom saw the sensor readings on his console and knew what was happening. They were early.
"There is some sort of transwarp conduit opening." Harry said from his station. "It doesn’t have a Borg signature."
"Tom back us off. Let’s see who’s
coming out." Janeway said.
"Captain, a ships coming out." Harry said from his station. A greyish-black ship exited the transwarp conduit. Tom looked at the dark ship and knew who it was. "It’s federation!" Harry said in astonishment. Every person on the bridge was looking at the ship on the screen. It resembled the Delta Flyer. "Their hailing us."
"On screen." Janeway said standing. The Viewscreeen changed to show the bridge of the dark ship. Three people could be seen. One of the men began:
"Captain Janeway, I’m Lt. Commander Brandon Davis, SO Division."
Special Opertations Division? That was unusual but Janeway couldn’t keep the smile off her face. "Welcome to the Delta Quadrant."
"Captain the conduits collapsing." Harry said
"Another will be opening in three days to take us all back to the Alpha Quadrant." Davis said to dispel their fears. "In the mean time Captain I need to talk to you and your Senior Staff. There are some preparation that we need to make to the Voyager before it can enter the transwarp conduit.."
"We’ll beam you over immediately."
"Thank you Captain." They cut the link and the screen went back to the scene of the dark ship before them. They were going home.
Lt. Cm. Davis beamed over to Voyager alone and was greeted by Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay in the transporter room. Davis wore a different uniform than any Janeway or Chaktoay had ever seen. It was all black with a goldish-silver, more rectangular commbadge. The pips on his collar were also different. Instead of circular pips they were narrow parallelograms that slanted to the right. He wore two that were black outlined with silver and one that was solid silver.
"Commander Davis Welcome to Voyager." Janeway greeted. Davis smiled and stepped off the Transporter pad. "This is my First officer Commander Chakotay." Davis shook each of their hands. The trio left the Transporter room for the Confernece room.
"Captain, There is an issue that must be addressed before we leave the quadrant." Davis said as they walked through the halls. Passing crewmembers looked at the man in all black curiously.
"What is it?" Janeway asked. There were several different issues that could be a problem: the Maquis, Neelix, Tom, Seven, Icheb.
"More like whom, but I think that I should discuss that with your entire Senior Staff."
They entered the Conference room. Nobody was seated. They were all talking about the mysterious ship, the different uniforms and what SO Division means, among other topics. Seven and Tuvok were talking while the Doc, Harry and B’Elanna discussed the visitors from the Alpha Quadrant. Tom was the only one not talking. He was leaning against the wall just watching them. Everyone was happy about going back and so was Tom but he had other things on his mind. At that moment Janeway, Chakotay and Davis walked into the conference room and all conversation ceased. Davis scanned the assembled group looking for a familiar face and he found it. "Commander, it’s good to see you again." He said looking at Tom. Tom groaned internally.
Commander? Everyone was looking between Tom and Davis. Tom walked over to Davis and shook his hand. Tom had a smile on his face. The cat was out of the bag. "It’s good to see you too." The two turned to the rest of the people in the room. Astonishment written clearly on each of their faces except Tuvok and seven were only an eyebrow or ocular implant was raised. "You always did talk too much, Bran-flakes" Tom said to Davis using Brandon Davis’ nickname.
"You didn’t tell them." Brandon groaned.
"My orders never said to tell them." Tom said.
"You take those orders much to literally, you know."
"Well why didn’t someone tell me that I was supposed to tell them?" Tom said to Brandon.
"We thought that you would have told them already. Since you were stuck over halfway across the galaxy with a crew that hated you, we thought that to make your life easier you would have told at least someone. It seems that once again we’ve underestimated you, or overestimated you." Brandon said the last part quietly and with a smile. It had been too long since he had been able to joke with Tom. Tom had changed since the last time he had seen him and he was glad for him.
Tom shot him a little glare. He heard that last comment. "I guess we have some explaining to do." Tom said looking at the Senior Staff of Voyager.
"It would have been easier if you had told them already." Brandon said. Tom rolled his eyes. "I guess everyone should be seated." Brandon said. "This may take a while."
"Commander Thomas Eugene Paris. Special Operations Division." Davis began as he pulled up Tom’s complete file on the monitor on the wall. "First officer of the Phantom." Tom was leaning against the opposite wall behind his usual seat, arms folded across his chest. He hated things like this.
"Commander? but what about the accident at Caldik Prime?" Harry asked.
"That wasn’t Tom’s fault." Davis said.
"Maybe." Tom said.
"The shuttle was attacked, Tom." Davis said. He had thought that Tom would have let that go by now. This was an old argument that they had several times before.
"Attacked by who?" Janeway asked getting Davis’s attention back.
"Cardassians, we think. The shuttle was a targeted because of the Special Operations agent that was on board." He said looking at Tom. "Through a leak in our Division, they got the information that there was an agent on board and they attacked it. We don’t think that they knew who the agent was because they never went after Tom directly again until later. They must have thought one of the three that died was an agent."
"Then why was Tom discharged?" B’Elanna asked.
"That was my idea." Tom said moving to the front. "Three people died because of me. If they ever came after me again than they would end up hurting someone else and I couldn’t take that chance. So, I filed the first report, and then went to Starfleet and told them that I had lied. That was the fastest way out of Starfleet and I had to take it. There was still the worry that whoever they were would try again. All the media coverage, as annoying as it was, helped to protect me from being a target. First rule in assassinations, don’t do it when everyone’s watching. If they knew I was the agent then they couldn’t attack me while all of federation space was watching. They usually prefer executions to be more private."
Everyone was quiet, digesting the information. "Then why join the Maquis?" Chakotay asked.
"Orders. Someone was killing off the higher members of the Maquis. Starfleet and the federation were officially against the Maquis but unofficially we couldn’t stand around while they were being killed off. So I was sent in. I had the perfect cover. I joined did my job and got out of their."
"You got sent to Auckland though." Chakotay stated.
"True but those were my orders. Whoever was after me years earlier at Caldik Prime had tried again while I was in the Maquis. I was ordered out of there and sent to Auckland. It was safe for me and there were some Inmates that were being murdered; all Maquis. I investigated for a while and then Captain Janeway was sent and got me out. I knew that you were coming for me before you did." Tom said to the Captain.
"Where you on a mission when you were placed on Voyager?" Janeway asked.
"Yes. First I was supposed to help you find Tuvok. Despite our sympathies to the Maquis, our first loyalty is to Starfleet and the Federation. After we found Tuvok I would be taken off the ship by a different ship that was supposed to rendezvous with Voyager. That ship would have ended my ‘official’ life." Tom ended.
"Meaning…" B’Elanna prodded.
"Meaning… today, you would all think I was dead."
"What purpose would that serve?" Tuvok asked.
"I would not have any other obligations. My family was better off without me anyway and I would be a full time officer on the Phantom as well, instead of just an agent. I wouldn’t be putting anyone else in danger" Tom rationalized. He saw the expressions on their faces (except for Tuvok) and sighed. They didn’t understand. "It’s not that uncommon. Two agents of my team were already ‘dead’ or fallen out of the universe. Sometimes the people would be written off as ‘MIA’ when they were just serving as officers on a SO starship." Harry said.
"So the life you’ve be living, it’s all been a fake." B’Elanna stated
"I beg to differ. The discharge was
very real. My time in the Maquis was very real. Auckland was very real.
I’ve been leading a real life. None of you would have known this unless
you were told. It’s Tom Paris’ life. You just didn’t know that details."
They were all silent. "Look we’ve got other things to worry about. Only
three days until the next conduit opens and Voyager isn’t conduit ready
yet. You still have to meet the rest of the team. I still have to meet
the two new members of the team." He said the last part to Davis. "Everything
that’s been said in this room stays here. Under no circumstances are you
to divulge any of this information. That’s an order." Tom said as he went
into his command mode. Each person nodded. "Let’s bring in the rest of
the team then."
"Captain, Let me introduce the crew." Commander Davis began. They were in the conference room. Davis was accompanied by four other crewmembers from their ship. "Lt. Mossek." He indicated the Vulcan "Lt. Commander Roberta Martinez. " The dark haired human woman "Ensign Mia Holmes" The young, dark, human woman " And Ensign Drew Illis." Dark haired human man. They each nodded to the voyager crew but most of their gazes lingered on Tom. "I have information here for each of the department heads." Davis handed out the padds to each member of the Staff. "Captain, Commander, Ensign Holmes will be working with you to prep Voyager. Lt. Torres, Commander Martinez will be working with you in Engineering. Commander Tuvok, Ensign Illis will work with you. Ensign Kim, Lt. Mossek will help you with Ops. I’ll work with Commander Paris on helm and Navigation." Davis said as he handed out assignments.
The other agent were dressed in the same attire as Davis except Mia Holmes. She wore all black sneakers rather than the mission boots that the others wore. The groups or trios left the conference room. Mia threw a glare to Tom and Brandon who just smiled. She hated having to deal with Starfleet officers that out ranked her. The never listened. Tom and Brandon were the last ones in the conference room. "They took that pretty well." Brandon said to Tom.
"They’re Starfleet, ‘Weird’s part of the job’." Tom said as he entered the turbolift.
"Looks like you’ve made quite a life for yourself here." Brandon smiled at Tom.
"It was good while it lasted." Tom said a little sadness in his voice.
"You thought you’d be out here for seventy years?"
"No, my most pessimistic guess was eternity but my more realistic guess was twenty-five years before we found a way out of here." Tom said.
"You don’t have to come back to Ops." Davis said. He would miss Tom but it was his life.
"I know that but I took an oath and I have other obligations that I made before I became a part of this crew." Tom said. "Besides I kind of miss Ops. Regular Starfleet is so much different." Tom said with a smile.
"Have you been taking orders to long that you’ve forgotten what command is like?" Brandon joked.
"I haven’t been here that long, Bran-flakes." Tom joked back.
"Whatever you say, Tomcat." They exited the turbolift and made their way to deflector control.
In the Captain’s Ready room. Mia Holmes was going through the current situation in the AQ. The war with the Dominion was over, The Cardies weren’t a problem anymore (well, not a big one), the DMZ was most likely going to become a part of the Federation again with the new treaty that was in the works. The Maquis were being given a full pardon and those that wished to continue their service to Starfleet would have to go through a refresher course at the academy but when they were done they would all be re-instated into Starfleet officially. Neelix was free to join Starfleet as an official of the Delta Quadrant or go through the refresher course and become an officer or crewman. Tom Paris was pardoned as well but nothing other than that was given. Special Operations Command had yet to determine whether or not to give Tom the re-instatement into Starfleet. Being back in Starfleet would cause a lot of problems for him if he had to serve in both divisions but to let the Maquis join Starfleet and not let Tom Paris seemed unfair.
Tom’s situation didn’t matter that much though. He would be back with SO soon enough but he still had to decide what he wanted to do when he got back to the AQ. The Doctor could appeal to the Federation for sentience and Seven and Icheb were free people. Icheb needed to get a guardian and they were both being allowed to join Starfleet. Icheb would have to go through the academy but Seven would only have to go through the re-fresher course to serve as a crewman. Promotions would be handed out to crewmembers that Janeway and Chakotay suggested. All-in-all it was a good deal.
"Will Tom be going back to the Special Ops Division?" Janeway asked.
"It’s his choice but he needs to meet with Ops Command. There are some problems right now and he could help, but that’s classified." Mia said. "Anyway, the story that most of your crew will getting is that you’ve found an unstable wormhole that leads to the Alpha Quadrant. That’s the same story that Starfleet is getting, and the media and everybody’s families. Right now Starfleet thinks that we’ve gone through a wormhole to the Delta Quadrant and are looking for you. None of the regular Starfleet vessels are allowed near the area where the ‘wormhole’ is located." Janeway nodded.
"Why all the secrecy about how we got home?" Janeway asked.
"Transwarp technology is new to us. This is kind of like the Omega directive. Need to know basis. The technology hasn’t been perfected and we don’t want anybody trying to steal it. " Janeway and Chakotay nodded their understanding. Mia started speaking again but Janeway and Chakotay weren’t listening. //This always happens// "Voyager will be impounded and dismantled after the Starfleet scientists have stripped all the useful components and information from it." She said looking down at one of the padds she was holding. Two heads shot up and looked stared at Mia, eyes wide. "I see I have your attention." She said with a smile. "I’m just kidding." They exhaled. "Voyager will go through a refit and brought up to the latest standards. Well that’s all. The rest of the plans after you reach the Alpha Quadrant are all outlined on those padds. If you’ll excuse me I need to go help out in Engineering." She said standing from her chair. Janeway and Chakotay nodded and pretended to be reading what was on the padd. Mia turned back to them. "If you have any regrets about how you’ve treated Tom, especially when he first joined the crew, don’t worry. He’s very understanding and I’m sure that he understands your positions." With that she left the ready room. She was right on target. Chakotay especially was feeling guilty about how he had treated Tom.
In Engineering. B’Elanna worked quietly with Lt. Martinez. Her thoughts were occupied with something other than the console in front of her though. Roberta noticed her lack of concentration and was just waiting for B’Elanna to ask her something. B’Elanna wasn’t worried about what would happen to her after she returned to the AQ; the Captain had made an announcement over the commsystem that the Starfleet officers have given them the coordinates of an unstable wormhole and that all the Maquis were going to be given full pardons. The rest of the information could be gotten from the first officer upon request.
"Lt." B’elanna leaned against her console. "How well do you know Tom?"
"Pretty well. We were on the same ship for years." Roberta said as she worked on the console next to B’Elanna.
"Then why all the guilt? Why does Tom feel so guilty about Caldik Prime?"
"They were after him and they ended up killing three innocent people. He thinks it’s his fault." She said, unknowingly repeating what B’Elanna had already heard in the conference room.
"There’s more to it than that."
"Yes there is." Roberta stopped working and turned to face B’elanna. "He could have saved them."
"At the time of the attack. Tom was in the cargo area of the shuttle while one of the other crewmen piloted. When the attack came the pilot couldn’t out manoeuvre the other ship or land the ship with the damage that it sustained. Tom had the training to be able to land a so badly damaged ship or at least bring it down in a way that he could have saved one half of the ship and most of the people if not all of them. The pilot that tried to land the ship managed to save the back half of the shuttle without knowing it but those in the cockpit died."
"How do you know this?"
"The flight record. According to Starfleet’s report the flight log was too badly damaged to be of any help but the truth was it wasn’t. One of the SO teams that was nearby went to the scene of the accident before the Exeter got there and took the flight log from the wreckage."
"Then the Starfleet investigators should have found that the wreckage had weapon’s burns on it." B’Elanna said.
"They did but they were SO agents that were placed in Starfleet to cover up what really happened." B’Elanna couldn’t believe the access this organization had or the power.
"Special Operations ruined his life." B’Elanna said and went back to working on her console.
"It’s ruined a lot of lives. But if you ask those people, they think that it was worth all the lives they helped save." Roberta went back to work.
In Deflector control. Tom and Brandon were working. They were going to use the deflector to help stabilize the transwarp conduit as they went through. A small ship like the one the SO agents came in one was small enough that it didn’t disturb the conduit but a ship Voyager’s size created enough of a gravometric imbalance that it could collapse the fragile conduit. "So who did we lose?" Tom asked.
Brandon stopped working and face Tom. "Amerra." He said quietly. Tom stopped working. Brandon knew that this news would hit him hard. Amerra and Tom had been close friends. She joined the team when he did and they had been their for each other since the beginning.
"A mission during the war. She was severely injured. She died in Sickbay." Brandon watched as Tom tried to come to terms with Amerra’s death. "She left you a message on the Phantom." No response. Brandon knew what was happening. He had seen Tom do it before. "Tom it’s not your fault. It was pretty much a suicide mission."
"Why did she take that one? She never did before."
"That’s because you took all of them! After Caldik you took all of the missions with a low survival rate. We all thought that you would die on one of those missions. When you disappeared, we all had to take our turn on those missions."
"And how is that not my fault?" he asked with dark sarcasm.
"Tom sooner or later your luck would have run out! You would have died and the same thing would have happened!"
"You don’t know that."
"You’re right I don’t. But you don’t know that it was your fault Amerra died. Even if you were their she may have taken that mission anyway."
"I wouldn’t have let her." Brandon just looked at the man before him.
"She was right. She said that you would feel guilty about her death. Tom we all know that everyday could be our last and we live our lives accordingly. You can’t protect everybody and you can’t blame yourself for things you can’t control."
Tom pushed all these sorrowful emotions deep into the recesses of his mind. He would have to deal with this later. He went back to work and Brandon joined him. They changed the subject to something lighter and talked like old friends.
Seven walked into defector control. Tom had asked her to come since she had experience with the Borg about transwarp conduits. "Lt. Paris, you require my assistance?" Seven asked in her usual manner.
"Yes, Lt. Do you require her assistance?" Brandon said while trying not to laugh. Tom punched him lightly in the arm.
"I fail to see the humour in the situation." Seven said.
"You’re right Seven. There is no humour in the situation." Tom said to Seven but was looking at Brandon. "Anyway, we do need your help. You know a lot about transwarp conduits. We need to the deflector to help stabilize this one while we pass through. These are the specs of the conduit. Not quite perfect but it works." He handed Seven a padd. She looked at it and went over to the console and began to work. Tom and Brandon helped out and ten minutes later. They were done.
"Thank you Seven." Tom said.
"You are welcome."
"We should check on how the other’s are doing." Brandon suggested. Tom agreed and they left deflector control. Tom went down to Engineering and Brandon went to the Bridge.
On the bridge. Harrry worked quietly with Mossek. His thoughts were occupied by what he heard in the conference room. Tom, a Special Operations agent? That’s why he never talked about his past. "Ensign Kim I require the shield calibration." Harry’s thoughts were cut short by Mossek.
"Sure," Harry got the requested item "Sorry." He gave it to Mossek. They worked in silence like they had been for the past very long while. The turbolift doors opened and Brandon walked onto the bridge. He went to see Kim and Mossek before he stopped by tactical.
"Report." Brandon said casually.
"We have almost completed our task. We should only require another half an hour to finish our work."
"Great." Brandon looked at Harry who obviously wasn’t paying much attention. "Mr. Kim, are you all right?"
"Uh, yes. I’m…fine"
"I suppose you have some questions about Tom and his past." Brandon said.
"Sir that information is classified." Mossek reminded him.
"Thank you, Mossek, but I think that Mr. Kim can keep a secret." Brandon looked straight at Harry who nodded.
"Tom never talked about Caldik Prime or his past. Is that because he was an SO Agent?"
"Mostly but I suspect that there was a bit more to it. Guilt mostly."
"Guilt? It wasn’t his fault." Harry said
"To him it was. Those people were some of his best friends. Loosing them and thinking that it was his fault nearly destroyed him." Brandon said sadly remembering a time when he thought that they had lost Tom. "Actually you saw us one time while you were at the Academy." Harry just stared at Brandon. He couldn’t recall seeing Tom and Brandon at any time during his training. "Beginning of your second year in the academy. It was raining." Something that doesn’t happen often due to the weather satellites. Harry remembered.
It was around 1100 at the Academy on Earth. It was raining hard. The meteorologists and environmentalists thought that it was time the vegetation in the area got some rain and here it was. The academy was on a short break. The cadets had hoped to spend their time in San Francisco, or at the beach but they were rained out. One of the Cadets that had decided to spend the weekend at the academy was Harry Kim. He was walking through the main building when he stopped to look outside. The rain was coming down hard.
Not to far from the building he spotted a tall man dressed in all black looking at a memorial for cadets that died before they finished their training. Farther away he saw another man approaching.
Tom Paris stood in the rain in front of Starfleet academy. He had a lot of good memories from this place; most of them with three people on the memorial in front of him. He ran his fingers over the names engraved into the stone: Odile Carmen, James Deacon, Armand Ristanis.
"Do you always follow people, Brandon?" Tom asked to the person approaching behind him. Tom kept to his back to him.
"Only when I’m worried about them." The truth was the entire team was worried about him. He’d been taking the deaths of his three friends really hard. Not that he didn’t have a right to be upset but there was a difference in Tom’s manner that told them that this tragedy went straight to his core and that he may never be the same again. Brandon was also dressed in all black but unlike Tom he had the sense to where a waterproof jacket, or Tom just didn’t care. The rain soaked both their hair until it clung to their foreheads. Raindrops rolled down their faces. The dark and gloomy outside matched Tom’s inside. "You’re going to get sick if you stay out here." Brandon stated after a minute of silence. Tom didn’t say anything.
From the window Harry wondered who was foolish enough to be out in such a downpour. The man that was farther back looked up and saw Harry in the window. They made eye contact for a moment before looking back at the man at the memorial.
Brandon noticed the cadet in the window. No that it mattered, but they were all being very careful when they were out in a public area. All except Tom. "Tom, it wasn’t your fault."
"How many times are you going to say that?" Tom asked in an emotionless voice.
"Until you believe it. No matter how long it takes. Everybody that knows what really happened knows that it wasn’t your fault. You should try to see it from that perspective."
"And you should try seeing it from mine." Tom placed his palm flat against the cold stone. The rainwater flowed over his hand. "I was the target, and they died because of me." A cynical laugh "Makes me wish that those people were more accurate when they’re trying to kill someone."
"You wish you were dead?" It was almost a statement
"If it would bring them back, yes. Even one of them. I don’t see that it would make much of a difference for me though. They pretty much succeeded."
"Tom?" Brandon didn’t understand what he was saying. Tom turned to him. Brandon got a good look at him. Eyes like ice, the fire that they once held had been burnt out leaving only smoke and ashes, maybe for good. Features set like stone showing no emotion, no weakness. You would never be able to guess the war the raged within him.
"Tom Paris died at Caldik Prime." Tom walked past him, away from the memorial and away from the academy. After a moment Brandon followed him.
Harry Kim had watched the entire exchange. What had been said? Who were they? So many questions that wouldn’t be answered until several years later.
"That was you?" Harry said slowly. Brandon nodded. "I always thought that Tom didn’t have any friends after Caldik Prime. That nobody would give him a chance. Maybe that was why I wanted to be his friend. I guess I wasn’t needed after all." Harry went back to work at his console.
"Well you guys managed to do as his friends what we never could." Harry looked back at Brandon. "You brought back the old Tom Paris."
In Engineering. Roberta was working diligently while Mia was talking to B’Elanna about the warp core and what they had done to increase the efficiency. The doors to main engineering swished open and Tom walked in. B’Elanna immediately tuned Mia out. Mia noticed that B’Elanna wasn’t listening anymore but wasn’t particularly insulted. B’Elanna had a lot on her mind and he had just walked in.
Tom walked over to where Roberta was working. He had seen B’Elanna but he didn’t know what to say to her. "How goes the shutdown?"
"The core’s offline and the modifications are going well but it would go faster if Mia was helping." Roberta said the last part loud enough for Mia to hear. Tom smiled and shook his head. They hadn’t changed much. Still arguing. Mia just glared at Roberta and went back to work. They were almost done. After a brief hesitation, B’Elanna walked over to Tom.
"I understand why you didn’t tell anybody about this but why have you been so distant lately?" B’Elanna said softly. She was learning more about Tom than she had learnt during their time on Voyager why not ask while he was still giving answers. Roberta walked to a different console to continue her work. That conversation was none of her business.
"I knew they were coming, and once we get home, I leave again." B’Elanna couldn’t say anything. He was leaving when they had jus recently found each other. "I guess I was hoping to make it easier on everybody. I don’t know." Tom ran a hand through his hair. He had never been this uneasy around B’Elanna before. He wasn’t sure what to expect. They were both about to say something when Commander Davis’ voice was heard over the commsystem.
"Lt. Paris to the Bridge." He emphasized the ‘Lt.’ part.
"I have to go." Tom said and turned to leave engineering.
"Can we talk later?" B’Elanna asked quickly but Tom was too far to hear her.
Tom arrived on the bridge and saw Brandon standing at the tactical station trying not to laugh. "I really don’t see what you find so comical."
"Whatever…Lt." Brandon stifled a laugh and Tom rolled his eyes. "Remember that time when you said I would never out rank you." Brandon reminded him.
"You remember that?" Brandon nodded "I had completely forgotten about that." Tom remembered what he had said that day. "No way! Technically you don’t out rank me." Tom said quietly.
"Hey, you never said it had to be technically." Brandon said.
"Anyway, what did you want?" Tom asked. This wasn’t a conversation for the bridge.
"I need you to look at this." Brandon handed him a padd. He was still smiling.
"You’re not getting the Runner." Tom said as he activated the padd. On it was the finished plan for Voyager to go through the conduit. Tom read on. "Are you sure that’s necessary?" Tom asked looking up from the padd to Brandon.
"I wouldn’t have suggested it if it wasn’t. Read the rest." Tom read more of it and saw why Brandon had suggested it and he had to agree.
"Well then I guess we do it this way." Tom said.
The Next day they were just finishing the enhancements. The Senior Staffs were meeting in the crowded conference room. The Special Ops team was standing off to one side. Tom and Brandon sat at the table. "Why do we have to wait another day before the conduit opens. We’ll be done in a few hours." B’Elanna asked.
"It’s not for us over here it’s for the people working in the Alpha quadrant. The conduit is not perfected so they have to do and complete diagnostic and repairs every time it is used. They also need to recalibrate the matrix so that it will be able to accommodate a vessel of Voyager’s size. They have a lot to do and it has to be done carefully." The Voyager senior staff all nodded. "If there is nothing else, we should go a prep the Black Ice." That was the dark shuttle that resembled the Flyer that the SO Agents had come to the Delta Quadrant in. Janeway nodded and Brandon and Tom got up from the table. Tom went to the rest of the team and helped give out orders and then returned to his seat while the others left.
Janeway used the time to gather her thoughts. A lot was going on right now but it had all been well organized and well executed. The topic that she wanted to talk about was more personal especially for Tom. "Captain," Tom’s voice broke her out of her thoughts. "I’m assuming you have a question you want to ask me." She had been silent for a while after the other officers left leaving only Voyager’s senior staff.
"More like a few questions. It think that goes for everybody." She said cautiously not sure if he would want to answer.
Tom sighed. "Ask away." There was a moment of silence before Janeway spoke.
"How long have you been part of the Special Ops Division?"
"I began my training in my second year at the Academy. I started my service in fourth year as an Ensign aboard the Phantom."
"How did you get into that?" Harry asked.
"They came to me actually. One of their agents said that I fit the profile they were looking for. Special Ops needed another person in Starfleet where they could get some information and I fit the bill."
"Your father doesn’t know?" Harry asked again.
"No." A short answer. Not a topic he wants to discuss. They left it alone.
"Did you have to join?" Asked Chakotay.
"No it was my choice. I felt that I owed them though." Before they could ask what he meant Tom continued. "It was a Special Ops team that freed my father from the Cardassians. That helped sway my decision."
Harry again "So that’s why your file is incomplete? What about the spatial orientation test and psyche test?" The two main features missing in Tom’s file.
"I don’t know why the spatial orientation test isn’t filed. I never asked. But I think that they suspected something about my psyche test so they kept that too."
"Are you going back with them or with us?" B’Elanna asked softly looking into Tom’s eye. Tom took a breath.
"I have to back to Special Ops, at least for a while. I have to be briefed on the current situation. There is some sort of problem with an information leak and I have to be there. I’ll come back though." He said looking straight at B’Elanna. The room was silent for a long moment until Janeway wrapped up the meeting and dismissed everyone. Tom left for the transporter room and went to Black Ice.
He walked through the familiar ship heading towards the front. He didn’t have a chance to talk to Roberta, Mossek or Mia and he still had to meet Drew. He walked onto the bridge. The ship was similar in shape to that of the Delta Flyer but the Black Ice was larger and the interior was much different. He was greeted by the sound of loud music playing on the bridge. He listened to it for a moment. It wasn’t his favourite style but it had a nice beat. He knew who was on the bridge, even though he couldn’t see them. "Mia!" Tom called out over the music. He walked to the helm controls and there were a pair of legs sticking out. "Mia!" he called again. This time she heard and scurried out from under the console.
"Hi Tom!" she exclaimed before hugging him. "It good to see you again." She smiled up at him. She was excited that Tom was back. He had been the constant in her life since she was eight years old. He had met her when he caught her looking through the Starfleet database. That wasn’t bad but she had gotten into an area the required the access of at least a captain. Since that day they had stayed in contact and he had been her friend.
Her parents had been Starfleet officers but had died on a mission leaving her alone with nowhere to go at age thirteen. Tom had been there for her. After that he had started her official training. She became a part of the team and got her code name: JADE. Her tests were all well above average. She could crunch number faster and to more decimal places than a computer. She was good at just about anything but had her preferences when it came to what department she worked in. She was good with Computers; actually good was an understatement. There wasn’t a system that she couldn’t get through. She could put computer processors into a continuous loop simply by inputting the right commands, and these are some very advanced systems.
It was because of her skill with systems that Tom had suggested that she start her training as an agent. Agents recommend people to SO command for training, since the agents are the ones that are out there and can see what type of people could be of use for the organization. Also having someone like Mia out in the open was a hazard. When she had heard about the accident at Caldik Prime she did her own investigation and had found out the truth. It was a good thing that she had confronted Tom and not gone to Starfleet authorities or the media or else his cover and the organizations would have been blown wide open. If she had joined the wrong group of people she could be used as a weapon against anybody.
Now she was an Ensign at age nineteen. Her rank insignia was also outlined in gold instead of the usual silver. The gold lining meant that the person was in the line for Special Operation Command. Someday she may be one of the people that are giving orders to the Agents. For most agents they would retire after they had served as a Captain or someone with a higher rank that acted as an advisor to the SO Command officials. They may be reintegrated into society with a cover story that they were lost in space or in a coma somewhere or some far out story like that so they could live their old lives again or they would return with a different identity. Other officers may would just stop being agents and become officers. Officers work on the ships or at the bases but do not go on mission whether it is due to a personal choice or because of an injury. Not all the agents were ‘dead’. They just lived their live like Tom did before Caldik; as both an agent and a Starfleet officer or whatever their other occupation might be. Even after they left though they could still be called upon for special missions and were sworn to secrecy. Special Operations was a life long commitment they all understood that when they joined.
Tom talked with Mia for a while catching up on everything that happened. She avoided the topic of Amerra’s death and Tom was grateful. He left her on the bridge to go to Engineering to see Roberta. Robert was the new Chief engineer since Amerra’s death. Roberta was still serving in the other division Starfleet as well. He walked into engineering. The place was a little cramped but it never seemed to bother them. Roberta had to check the status of the warp core to make sure that it is safe to re-enter the conduit. She was busy working on a console and hadn’t even noticed him come in. He was tempted to sneak up on her and scare her but he thought better of getting Roberta angry at him. She could be angry at someone for days. "Roberta."
"Hi Tom." She said. She finished her diagnostic and turned to face him. She didn’t look much different than he remembered. Her hair was a little longer but other than that she was the same Roberta he knew years ago. Roberta was married and had one child a daughter that was born only two years ago. She had been on suspended duty since her daughter’s birth but had decided to come on the mission that helped bring Tom and the Voyager home. Roberta had a few years on Tom but she joined SO nearly three years later than he did.
Tom and Roberta talked about the Alpha quadrant and other topics while he helped her with her tasks. She brought up B’Elanna Torres and asked about her. Tom wasn’t very forthcoming. Roberta figured that he wasn’t sure about what would happen to the relationship he had with her and preferred not to get into it until he had it figured out. Tom left half an hour later in search of Drew Illis. They had been briefly introduced but he wanted to meet with him more privately.
Tom was talking with Drew while walking through the corridors when the alert sounded and the red lights came on. They both headed for the bridge.
On the bridge Mia was working at the ops station looking at the sensor readings. Brandon and Mossek soon came in followed by Brandon. Drew took Tactical, Mossek took Ops from Mia who went to the Engineering station while Brandon took the helm. Tom took his seat in the commanding officers chair. The ship shook as weapons fire connected with the hull. "I’ve got five cloaks ship on sensors." Drew said. Tom worked at the small console next to him. He recognized those ships. It was the Essims again. //Back for round two// Tom thought.
"Hail Voyager." Tom ordered.
Voyager shuddered as shots damaged the hull.
"Captain I’m receiving a hail from the Black Ice." Harry said.
"Onscreen." The image of a star-studded section of space changed to the view of the bridge on the Black Ice. Tom was standing in the middle of the bridge while the crew was working on their various consoles.
"Captain, we’ve detected five cloaked Essim ship attacking. Use the modifications being sent to you so that the sensors will detect them."
"Got them." Harry said as the message registered on his console. He quickly implemented the modifications and the sensors showed the five ships.
"We can’t out run them with the warp core off line so we’ll have to defend ourselves. I’ll beam over." Tom said. Janeway nodded and cut the link. "Mase, you’re in charge" Tom said to the man at the helm that we know of as Brandon Davis. He nodded. It was customary to use code names during battle of missions/assignments. "Dacal, get me over to Voyager" He said to Mossek who nodded. A moment later Tom appeared on the bridge and quickly took the helm from Chakotay. Voyager had only sustained minor damage when they lowered the shields so that Tom could beam over.
An explosion reverberated through the ship and they felt it on the bridge. "Direct hit to deck four. The hull has breached. Force-fields are holding." Harry said.
"Sheilds at thirty percent and falling." Tuvok reported. At the helm Tom put Voyager through some complicated manoeuvres and that kept the Essim guessing but they were out numbered. On sensors he could see Mase putting The Black ice through some manoeuvres. Tom noticed two of the ships pull away and hoped that they were breaking off the attack but he prepared for another one. //Hope for the best expect the worst// The two ships that had pulled away turned back towards Voyager and using their deflectors they created an EM field similar to the one that was used in the earlier attack only this time the power drain was much more rapid than last time. A precision shot from the Black Ice took out on of the deflectors and collapsed the EM field. Voyager only lost a minimal amount of power but it was enough to take out the shield generators. Before the Essims retreated they managed to get one more thing from the ship. A slight whining sound was heard and in an instant the Captains form shimmered out of existence.
"Tha Captain’s been transported to the Essim ship that’s off our starboard bow." Said Harry.
"Beam her back!" Chakotay barked
"Two more transports in progress. I’m trying to stop them." Harry isolated the signatures and managed t beam back one of the people. "I’ve got Seven." But before her could isolated the last two lifesigns the small ships jumped to low warp. It was a speed that Voyager should have been able to keep up with easily but with the core down they couldn’t pursue.
Ten minutes later the senior staff of both ships except for Mossek and Roberta who were doing repairs and bringing the core online. "Can we bring Voyager warp core back online?" Chakotay asked to the officer before him.
"We’d have to undo all the changes that we made to make the core safe to pass through the conduit." Harry informed him. "It would take at least six hours."
"We could use the Flyer and the Ice to go in and get them." Tom suggested. Chakotay was worried that Tom was too close to this and he would take too many chances. Chakotay considered it too risky and was about to dismiss it but Tom spoke again. "Commander we’re trained for this sort of thing." Tom gestured to the crew of the Ice.
"You have a plan?" Chakotay asked.
"Not all the details yet but I’ve got the basic idea." He turned to his team. "Brandon, Mia, Drew you’re with me. Mossek and Roberta will remain behind. I’ll be in the Flyer with Drew, Brandon you and Mia are in the Ice. Typical Mack three: Mia and I will go in you guys keep the engines running."
"What’s your plan?" Chakotay asked.
"We go in, we get the captain and B’Elanna, we hightail it out of there." Tom said simply.
"I think your plan needs more work." Chakotay said.
"Don’t worry it’s fine." Brandon dismissed his worries. Worries that were echoed in the minds of the rest of the Voyager crew that was in the room. "Usually all that we get on any of our missions is an objective and any other useful information they might have, if any. We’ll devise a plan when we get closer to wherever these attackers came from. The only thing missing are the probabilities."
"Probabilities?" Chakotay asked.
"The probability that we complete the mission and the probability that we survive the mission."
"I’m estimating 100 percent on both counts. I won’t settle for anything less." Tom said seriously. Chakotay nodded reluctantly. They couldn’t waste time going after the Captain and B’Elanna.
"Tom maybe you should let them do this." Harry suggested; always looking out for the welfare of his friends. "You haven’t done this in a while. You may be a little out of practice."
"Don’t worry he’s had plenty of practice while he’s been here." Mia said. "I looked over the reports. You’ve been keeping busy Tom." Tom just grinned and changed the subject before anyone else could comment. Ten minutes later the meeting ended after all assignments had been hand out. Tom and Brandon went to Tom’s quarters. In the case in the closet that also held his special computer he pulled out some black fabric. It had been a long time since he had put it on. Today was as good a day as any.
Tom donned the same black uniform that the other’s wore with the different commbadge but he had three black pips each outlined with gold. Commander Paris was ready to go. He and Brandon went to the weapon’s locker in the Ice to arm themselves. Tom was slightly disappointed that his favourite phasers weren’t there but he would mange with the standard issue phasers.
A few minutes later Tom and Drew where in the shuttle bay prepping the Flyer while Roberta and Mossek beamed over to Voyager and Mia and Brandon got ready for their mission. A few short minutes later they team of four had departed the ship and were on their way toward the Essim planet.
"That’s close enough. Can you find them?" Tom asked Drew from the helm of the Flyer. The trip had only taken forty minutes at the highest warp factor.
"I can’t get a fix on her life sign." Drew said as he worked the scanners to get through the interference. Drew shook his head.
"Can you beam us down?"
"Yes with some difficulty but we should be able to manage. I suggest that you take breathing masks. From here the atmosphere doesn’t look very hospitable." Tom nodded and Drew transmitted the information and co-ordinates to the Ice. In half a moment Tom and Mia were on the planets surface. Drew had been right. According to the tricorders the atmosphere of the planet was unbreathable to humanoids. They scanned the area around them. They couldn’t see anything and both Tom and Mia came to the same conclusion at the same time. The people must be in subterranean structures and the tricorders confirmed it. The problem was now trying to find the way in. Tom gestured for Mia to follow him. They walked for a short distance until they came to a small building. More like and outhouse but slightly bigger. The doors were jammed. Whatever it was, it hadn’t been used in a while. Scans indicated that there was some sort of passage, partially obstructed but it was still the best way in.
They crawled through the narrow passage. Minutes later they emerged into a small room. They checked that the room was empty before they entered. It was some sort storage room or something. Tom and Mia scanned the room looking for something anything that would help them. "Jade." Tom said softly. She walked over to the wall that Tom was scanning. "Here." Behind that point in the wall was part of the computer network that was used in this base. They set up some small gadgets that would create an up-link with the system. Jade used the small computer that was on her forearm to hack into the system. She had fourteen seconds before their link would be detected. Tom was quietly counting down while she worked on the small computer. At six seconds she was done. The internal sensors would not register their life-signs and on another command the life-signs of Torres and Janeway would disappear as well.
Being extremely careful to remain undetected they made their way through the complex. Jade had found a layout plan of the complex and they had both quickly memorized it. They were heading towards the holding cells to where they believed Janeway and Torres where. This area was surprisingly deserted but the kept their guard up nonetheless. A few times they had to hide from passing people but they only had to knock out one person who stumbled into them.
Tom and Jade walked for a while until turning left to another section of the complex. They came upon some heavily reinforced doors. With both Tom and Jade working on the controls they had the doors open in a matter of seconds. The walls and doors on the other side where all light shades of gray with bright lights lining the ceiling. Jade and Tom glanced at each other. There black uniforms would stand out but they couldn’t do anything about that. Walking silently they listened for any sounds that would help them locate Janeway and Torres. What they heard approaching from around the next corner was undoubtedly the sound of officers or soldiers marching in step. Tom held up his hand and signalled ‘eight’. That was the number of people Tom estimated there were approaching. Un-holstering two of several phasers Tom set them both on stun. Jade did the same. The moment they came around the corner the attack began.
Three seconds later only three people where left standing. Tom, Jade and the person who seemed to be the leader of the small group that now lay unconscious on the floor. The man was a few centimetres shorter than Tom and was dressed in a grew uiform. He had the typical features of the Essim, scales and all. "Where are they?" Tom asked. The man just stared at him. He looked like he was rather calm but looking into his eyes Tom could see the fear he so desperately tried to hide. "I won’t ask again. Where?" Tom said with anger lacing he words chilling the man before him.
"I don’t…I don’t know." He finally managed to stutter out. Tom noticed the slight movement of one of the man’s hands. Aiming his phaser lower. Tom shot him in the leg. He let out a cry of pain before collapsing to the ground. Jade didn’t even flinch. She had seen the man reach for something near his hip. Tom walked closer to the man who was on the floor gasping in pain. He crouched next to him and looked him in the eye. The officer knew what he wanted and he knew that the man dressed in black would not ask again. He gave them the information. A moment later Tom and Jade where walking down the hall in the direction the officer had indicated. Behind them no signs were left that anything had transpired. Tom and Jade had moved each one of the bodies to a cell. Tom had given the man he had shot a Vulcan nerve pinch to knock him out. They had gotten the information he didn’t need to suffer anymore.
Tom was walking at a faster pace. Jade had to walk quickly to keep up with his long strides. She completely understood his haste. The officer’s information was less than comforting. He indicated that B’Elanna was being interrogated. Tom had seen a lot of horrible things in his life and his overactive imagination was conjuring up awful images of the atrocities that could be happening to her. Jade had her tricorder out and was scanning, looking for human or klingon life signs. The materials of the walls here was hindering the tricorders scanning capabilities. A small signal on the tricorder got her attention. "I’ve got Janeway." She said quietly to Tom.
"And B’Elanna?" he asked.
"She’s not down this corridor." She said. Tom made a decision. He couldn’t wait.
"Get Janeway. I’ll find B’Elanna. When you’ve got her take her back to the surface. Don’t wait for me." Jade nodded knowing that she wouldn’t be able to convince him to wait. Tom could take care of himself.
Jade walked cautiously down the corridor. Her scans had picked up Essim life-signs in this area but she couldn’t isolate them. She made it to Janeway’s cell without incident. In a second she had the doors unlocked and sliding open.
In the dark cell Janeway sat in a corner trying to think of a way out of her current situation. Her thoughts were disturbed with thoughts of what could be happening to B’Elanna. She hadn’t seen the lieutenant since they were transported off the Essim ship that had brought them here. Her cell was very dark compared to the hallway. Bright white light filtered through the dingy transparent material that provided a small window on the door. She sat away from the small square of light. If one of the guards walked into the cell she hoped that she would be able to jump him. The element of surprise was the only thing she would have on her side.
A sound from outside her cell caught Janeway’s attention. Her first thought was that it was one of the Essim come to get her. She had been left alone since she arrived only a few short hours earlier. The form that she saw in the doorway, was not that of an Essim. Neither was the voice that accompanied it. "Captain Janeway, It’s Ja- Ensign Holmes." She had nearly said her code name to Janeway. Janeway got up from the floor and walked to the door. Mia moved out of the way and allowed Janeway a few moments to get used to the bright lights. She was still searching for the Essim lifesigns that her scans indicated.
Meanwhile Tom was nearly running through the halls of the complex. He had increased his pace to cover more ground. He had still to locate B’Elanna’s life sign. A upsetting thought ran through Tom’s mind. He increased his pace again. If B’Elanna was dead he was going to ‘BEEP’ from the tricorder interrupted his vengeful thoughts. Klingon life-sign. He didn’t allow the sigh of relief to escape. He quickly made his way to the area that the tricorder indicated. The scans were not completely accurate and he couldn’t determine exactly which room she was in but the second room that he entered was connected to the one that B’Elanna was in.
The room was dark. One wall was a large window that showed the adjoining room. By the heavy tint Tom guessed that it was one way. Tom saw B’Elanna alive and kickin’ on the other side of the window. The other room was large. One chair with B’Elanna strapped to it as one of the officers walked around her and asked her questions. Sound from the other room could be heard on the speaker. There were two men in the other room with B’Elanna and five in the room Tom entered. four were security officers and the other one was an official of some sort.
It didn’t take the security officers long to notice and react to Tom’s presence. The one closest to him swung his arm to punch the intruder who neatly sidestepped the attempt. The momentum of the swing pulled the officer forward and right into Tom’s knee. He was down for the count. Another officer pulled out a phaser and aimed it at Tom. The third guard was busy leading the government official from the room through another exit. Tom kicked the phaser from the guards hand. He ducked quickly as the fourth guard fired a shot in Tom’s direction. The shot missed its mark and damaged the one-way window.
A bright flask of light illuminated part of the barrier and the head of security watched the mirror for anything. A few seconds later there were a few other flashes of light on the glass. The other security officer was starting to approach the window when the glass shattered into thousands of tiny pieces and the body of a security officer flew through and landed in the sea of glass shards. The entire pain of glass collapsed and on the other side was an intruder aiming a phaser at the closest guard. B’Elanna recognized the intruder. "Tom."
With one hand on the rail and the other with a phaser aimed at one of the guards Tom vaulted over the barrier. "Move back." He commanded the guard. The guard took a step back while the other took a step closer to his prisoner.
"I’m the Head of Security-" the officer that moved near B’Elanna said.
"Don’t move!" Tom interrupted him. Tom noticed the head of security glance behind him.
"Tom look out!" B’Elanna yelled. The head of Security struck her across her face. Behind Tom one of the guards had woken and was ready to attack. Before he could though Tom turned and fired his phaser at him. The other guard near Tom took the opportunity to draw his phaser. Tom turned quickly and shot the phaser out of his hand. The guard quickly unsheathed a long blade. A precision shot from the head of security shot the phaser out of Tom’s hand. The other guard went after Tom swinging the blade. Tom stepped back as the guard swung the blade at his chest. When he swung trying to take off his head Tom duck and with a low spin kick knocked the man of his feet. This wasn’t enough stop the guard. Tom caught the arm that the guard was trying to punch him with. Holding the mans right arm with his left Tom held the guard as he kicked the guard twice; once in the face and once in the stomach. Tom grabbed the collar of the guards uniform Tom threw the guard so that he landed hard on his back.
The Head of Security watched as the intruder subdued his officer with ease. He shook himself out of his daze as he saw the intruder approach. In a last act of desperation the head of security aimed his phaser at B’Elanna’s head. Shackled to the chair B’Elanna was helpless to defend herself. "Stop or I’ll kill her!" Tom stopped not willing to risk B’Elanna’s life.
"Harm her and I’ll kill you." Neither the head of Security or B’Elanna doubted that he could; B’Elanna wondered if he would.
Ensign Mia Holmes; codename Jade was leading Janeway through the maze that was this complex. She kept her guard up waiting for the attack that she knew was coming. At every bend she stopped and scanned around the corner before signalling to Janeway that it was clear. It was about two minutes later that Jade was able to get an exact fix on their position. Eight meters and closing. Crap, Jade thought. She turned to Janeway. "Company was all she said and they back tracked a few meters and waited.
They didn’t wait long. A pair of doors slid open and two guards entered the hallway. They immediately saw the two intruders and paused. Jade smiled charmingly at them. "We seem to be lost. Maybe you could help us,"
"Hands on your head!" One officer barked. "Jade smirked and did as she was told. Janeway followed suit. The guards cautiously approached the two women. Jade was counting down…Three….two….one! Kick to on the stomach of the guard on her left. She turned to the guard on her left and punched him in the jaw. She heard and snap and guessed that it was the man’s jaw breaking. She drop-kicked the man who was trying to straighten after being kicked in the stomach and he collapsed to the ground. Jade easily neck pinched the man that she had punched and he too, fell to the floor. "Let’s go." Jade ordered and carried on.
Janeway followed. She was impressed. The young Ensign didn’t even break a sweat. She could probably give Tuvok a run for his money.
Jade and Janeway made it back to the point of entry and gave Janeway her second breathing mask. She checked the tricorder for Tom and B’Elanna but she couldn’t get a lock. She had to go. "Ready?" she asked Janeway.
"With Tom." She put on her breathing mask. She didn’t seem concerned about Tom and B’Elanna but Janeway wasn’t as feeling as easy about leaving two of her officer’s behind. Despite the fact that Tom was part of another crew and a Special Opd agent, Lt. Paris was still a part of her crew.
"We can’t leave them!" Janeway protested.
"I have my orders. We have to go."
"I’ve heard stories about Special Ops agents. Questioning and even disobeying orders isn’t uncommon–"
"Captain, with all due respect you don’t know what it’s like to be in Ops. The stories you’ve heard are just that, stories. We rarely disobey direct orders from commanding officers unless the situation changes or if it’s an order coming from someone in the regular division of Starfleet, especially if they’re on my list." Jade opened the panel that revealed the passage that she and Tom had used earlier. She ushered Janeway through and they began their journey to the surface.
Neither Tom or the Essim moved; both waiting for the other to make the first move. All Tom needed was for the phaser to aim away from B’Elanna’s head. After a minute of waiting the guards patience ran out. He aimed his gun directly at Tom. Tom smiled.
Tom took a quick step to the left. The guard aimed at Tom and fired. Tom spun around once quickly causing the shot to just singe his uniform and letting him take out another of his many phasers. He now had his gun drawn and aimed at the Essim who also had his gun aimed at Tom. It was a stalemate. Well that’s what you’d think.
B’Elanna was surprised by Tom’s quick move. If you blinked you may have missed it. B’Elanna was surprised by Tom’s next move as well. Tom surrendered! He placed the phaser on the ground and kicked it over to the Essim, per his orders. B’Elanna missed the subtle movement of Tom’s fingers when he put the phaser on the ground. "Good now-" The whine of the tricorder at his feet caught the officer’s attention. That moment of inattention was all Tom needed.
B’Elanna recognized the sound. The phaser was about to overload. She wouldn’t be able to get away when it did explode. Tom had anticipated that as well.
Striking quickly, Tom knocked the phaser out of his hand and kicked the overloading phaser to the far corner where it could explode with out hurting B’Elanna. This guard was not as stupid as his officers and did not underestimate Tom. Tom blocked a left hook with the outside of his forearm. "I don’t have time for this." Tom stated. Quickly grabbing the arm that that the Essim had struck with Tom held the security officer in place while he kneed him in the stomach. The guard doubled over and with both his hands clasped together he brought his hands down hard against the base of the guard’s head knocking him to the floor. Tom didn’t think that the guard was unconscious but he didn’t care. He rushed over to B’Elanna.
"B’Elanna, are you alright?" Tom asked as he worked on the harnesses. She seemed a little dazed but she was coherent enough to answer.
"I’m okay." She said. Her voice still held the strength that it always did.
"I’ve almost got these off." CLICK "Done." He helped her up. "You’re sure that you’re alright?" He cupped her face in his hands and looked over her face carefully.
"Tom," she said. He looked into her eyes "I’m fine. Let’s just go." Tom nodded.
As they were about to leave the head of security was rising. B’Elanna kicked him in the face. That was for her, for Tom and for Voyager. The man slumped to the ground.
Tom didn’t have any qualms about B’Elanna kicking the guard. Besides, it was best if the guards were all unconscious so that they couldn’t alert anyone else that they were here.
Janeway and Jade had just reached the surface undetected by any of the Essim security measures. Jade took out her tricorder and signalled for Janeway to follow her. They walked in a seemingly arbitrary direction and then stopped several meters later. Jade tapped her commbadge. "Two to beam up."
"Just a sec we’ve got some complications up here. Sit tight for another minute." Falcoon’s voice told them and then the connection was cut. Jade sighed and crouched down on the ground and Janeway did the same. It was best if they were smaller target; make it more difficult for Essim sensors to find them if they were even looking.
A few kilometres above the surface of the planet. The two shuttles had ducked behind one of the planets moons. The Essims had deployed a large number of battle ships, probably anticipating a rescue attempt from Voyager. Falcon and Mase were timing the rotations of the ships around the planet and looking for a large enough opening for them to zoom in beam them out and get back to the moon before being detected. After half a minute of deliberations Mase took the Black Ice towards that planet. He engaged the stealth shielding and moved in. The stealth would give him a few more seconds to execute his plan. He could move in early and once the Essim ship was out of range, drop shields and beam them up.
"Mase to Jade, prepare for transport." Came the disembodied voice. Janeway and Jade stood. "I’ve only got two lifesigns."
"Phoenix and Torres are on their way."
"Understood. Standby." A moment later they were taken away by the shimmering blue light and deposited on the transporter padd on the Black Ice. Jade and Janeway headed for the bridge/cockpit, Jade leading the way.
Tom and B’Elanna where making their way through the complex to the passage that would lead them out of here. Tom lookedat the timer on the computer on his forearm. Uh-oh. Tom estimated that the guards would be waking up very soon. They had to hurry. They had made it to the passage when the sirens started. Tom unhooked the device that they had put on the wall earlier. He couldn’t leave this technology behind. He had no idea what type of things the Essim would use it for. The next time they ran a diagnostic on the sensor system the error in the sensors would be found and fixed and when that happened they would be able to locate their lifesigns. Tom gave B’Elanna his second breathing mask and they walked, ran and crawled through the passage to the surface. Taking the same route that Jade had taken minutes before Tom tapped his commbadge and requested tranport. He got the same response that Jade had gotten "Hang tight." After transporting Janeway to the Flyer, Jade and Mase went back to the planet.
Tom and B’Elanna were crouched on the dusty surface of the planet waiting. Tom was working on something on his small computer and B’Elanna watched. Not particularly what he was doing but just him. They hadn’t finished their earlier conversation and B’Elanna had so many questions. How much of what she knew of Tom Paris was the real person and how much was just the person the he let everybody see? How much was the character he’s been playing since Caldik?
Though even with these uncertainties she felt confidant that the person that the crew of Voyager was seeing more and more of these days was the real Tom Paris. She couldn’t help the swell of pride in her heart knowing that her mate was part of an elite division of Starfleet but she couldn’t help the sorrow in her heart from knowing what he had gone through and what might still happen between them upon their return to the Alpha Quadrant, when Tom had to go.
Phaser fire illuminated a small area of ground near them and raised a small cloud of dust. Tom got up immediately and pulled B’Elanna up wit him. He took out two phasers, one for him and one for B’elanna. They began to run in a diagonal direction away from the approaching Essim. Tom tapped his commbadge. "Phoenix to Ice, were on the move." It would be harder for them to get an exact fix ontheir posistion but not impossible.
Jade was trying to strengthen the targeting scanners. She had found them but they couldn’t safely beam them up yet. She just needed a few more seconds.
Tom made sure to run behind B’Elanna to shield her from any phaser shot that may be coming in their direction. B’Elanna was in a weakened state already, she would be able to hold out against a direct hit. Turning every so often to fire blindly into the smokey atmosphere Tom continued running. The tricorder was unable to get a lock on any of the Essim. Tom turned to fire another shot but he didn’t get a chance to. When he turned back the only thing he saw was dark orange coming at him. He turned his head in time to miss being hit directly but the shot still managed to get him. The shot singed his temple and just above his eyelid. Another shot damaged his breathing mask before he had completely turned away from the onslaught of phaser fire. It was now letting in the toxic gases of the atmosphere. The gases scorched his lungs but he forced himself t continue. He staggered for a moment but quickly regain his equilibrium. A few seconds later they were beamed into the Ice.
Raising the stealth shielding the ship now invisible to sensors sped towards that moon where Falcon was patiently waiting with a less patient Janeway. "Ice to the Delta Flyer, we’ve got them. Tom’s beaming over to your ship."
"Ready and waiting." Flacon dropped the shield and Tom materialized on the deck. He took the helm from Falcon and began lpotting a course away from this planet. Janeway and Falcon noticed the blood on Tom/Pheoneix’s left temple and just above his eye. He had his left eye partially closed in an attempt to keep the blood out of his eye. He glanced once at Janeway making sure that she was not injured and had gone directly to the helm. Janeway also noticed that Tom hadn’t made any comments, something that was unusual for the talkative pilot. There was no way for her to know of his internal injuries that kept him quiet.
Tom transmitted the new course to the Ice and then took the flyer out from the safety of the moon, the Ice close behind. The course would take them away from the planet and away from Voyager but they would whip around a star and head in the direction of Voyager. Their little detour was to keep the Essim from being able to follow them back to Voyager. Moat of the fourty minute journey was made in silence. The four Agents worked perfectly together know what was expected of each of them and carrying it out without orders. During the last leg of the trip to Voyager Tom got up from the helm and got out a med kit he scanned Janeway and took care of any cut and bruised that she had gotten while she was on the planet. He was silent through the whole thing.
"Tom," he looked at her. He was crouched in front of her while she sat in the ops chair. "Are you sure you’re alright?" He nodded. He tapped his chest telling her that there was something wrong with his lungs. He could feel each breath he took stinging in he lung. The toxic gases had burnt the lining of his alveoli.
Janeway took the tricorder from him and scanned Tom. Acid burns on his trachea and forty three percent of his lungs. "I’m okay." The words were harsh sounding. He took the tricorder from her and put it back in the med kit. There was nothing that they could do for him here anyway. They had to wait until they got to Voyager.
"Commander I’ve got the Ice and the Flyer on Sensors. Six life-signs." He sighed with relief. They had gotten them back, and quickly too.
"Hail them." Chakotay ordered.
Ten minutes later the flyer was back in the Shuttle bay and the Agents had left Voyager and were all on the Ice except Brandon and Tom. Janeway, B’Elanna and Tom were all in Sickbay. Brandon was with Chakotay giving him a report as they made their way to Sickbay. When they entered Tom was unconscious on the surgical biobed. The arch was over him as the doctor with the help of Ensign Wildman repaired the damage to Tom’s lungs. They went over to Janeway and B’Elanna who were out of the way watching the doctor work on Tom.
"Captain, B’Elanna, are you both alright?"
"We’re fine. Thanks to Commander Davis and his crew." Janeway said with a smile.
"What happened to Tom?" Chakotay asked.
"Apparently his breathing mask was damaged and the atmosphere of the planet burnt his lungs." Janeway explained "but the Doctor said that he could repair all the damage." Chakotay looked at B’Elanna who was looking at Tom.
"B’Elanna," she looked at Chakotay and Brandon.
"I’m fine." She went back to looking at Tom. Her thought were moving to quickly for her to concentrate on anything else. How man times had he been on a biobed like this? How many time had he injured himself while helping someone else? How many times has he almost died? When will his luck run out?
"B’Elanna, you should get some rest too." Janeway’s voice interrupted her thoughts.
"If it’s alright, I’d like to stay here." Janeway nodded and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder before she and Chakotay exited. Brandon looked at B’Elanna a moment longer and was about to leave when B’Elanna called to him. He turned back to her. "I was wondering if I could see Tom’s file again….all of it." Brandon nodded and walked to the doctor’s office. Inputting his command codes Tom’s complete file was displayed. B’Elanna thanked him briefly and sat in the doctor’s chair reading the file. Brandon left. B’Elanna needed to be alone. God only knew what she was going through right now. It made him wonder what he was putting the people he cared about through.
B’Elanna read the file, skipping the parts that she already knew. She skipped to the list of missions. She quickly acquainted herself with the filing system. Mission number and name, stardate, duration, category, probabilities (survival and objective), Outcome. She noticed a disturbing pattern. Missions that Tom participated in After Caldik prime all had the lowest survival rates. She went to the outcome reports looking for how many time Tom had been injured. Out of the thirty-nine solo mission that he went on after Caldik he took a trip to sickbay for thirty-six of them; Minor injuries: 22, Severe Injuries: 14 (11 life-threatening). B’Elanna was in shock. He nearly died eleven times in only three and a half years. Why? Why would he be taking so many risks with his life? She looked to Tom who was still lying on the biobed. She didn’t hear Ensign Kim walk in to the office.
"B’Elanna," she turned around quickly.
"Hey, Harry." She tried to smile but couldn’t, not after what she had just read. B’Elanna noticed that Harry wasn’t smiling either. It’s not easy to watch your best friend risk his life over and over again, leaving you to wonder every time if this is the time he won’t come back.
Harry could see that B’Elanna was disturbed by something. She spun the console around and showed Harry the screen with the information that she had just read. He read it and his face turned into the same expression of shock that she had been sporting before he entered. "All after Caldik Prime." She appended. Harry’s expression changed and B’Elanna knew that he knew something more. "What is it Harry?"
"I was talking to Commander Davis, about Tom. He told me about how Tom was After Caldik." He paused. "Reckless with his life, almost emotionless, distant, pushed people away, unresponsive,"
"Sounds familiar." B’Elanna said looking at the desktop. It was a description of the Tom Paris that first stepped on Voyager five years ago.
"They way Davis described him, it was worse than what we experienced with him here. Davis told me about two incidents with Tom that really disturbed him." Harry told her about their encounter at the Academy memorial. "The second time was, I don’t know, maybe a few weeks later. Davis was trying to get Tom’s attention but he didn’t respond to his name. He had to call Tom by his code name before he responded. Davis didn’t think that Tom was just ignoring his name either. Tom just… wasn’t Tom anymore." He finished sadly.
‘Tom Paris died at Caldik Prime’ those words replayed through her mind. "I suppose then he didn’t care whether he lived to see another day. Not even the thoughts of his family could keep him. Becoming the living dead probably seemed like a good idea at the time." She tried to imagine what Tom must have been going through at that time. Best friends dead, disowned by his father, abandoned by friends, and feeling so guilty.
"Ensign, Lieutenant," the doctor called them. His usually callous voice was softer. "Mr. Paris will be fine. You can see him if you’d like, though he will remain unconscious for the next half hour or so."
"Thank you Doctor." B’Elanna said rising from his seat. She closed the file and she and Harry went to Tom. The Doctor sat in his office his matrix trying to deal with the myriad of thoughts. Tom Paris was a friend to him, a sometimes annoying friend and sometimes they were rather hostile towards each other but friends nonetheless. The Doctor had known since the beginning that Tom Paris was more than he seemed. The subroutines that kept him from being able to speak of the implants that Tom had and about the doses of neural suppressant were always there. He that Tom and Starfleet were hiding something but he had been unaware of what.
Tom lay on the biobed oblivious to the two people above him. Harry placed a hand on Tom’s shoulder. It seemed to comfort him in some way knowing that this really was Tom Paris; to reassure him that is friend had made once again. The man that had become more than his best friend, more like a brother. After a moment he left, knowing that B’Elanna needed to be alone with him.
She touched gingerly his hand. She ran her hand through his blonde locks still wondering what really went on in the head. Did he feel that he had nothing left to live for except his missions? She pulled up a stool and sat to wait for him to wake. Hopefully now he would feel that he had something and someone to come back to.
Davis and Holmes were meeting with Janeway and Chakotay. They were discussing how Voyager would be taken through the conduit. "The plans have been authorized." Brandon said.
"Authorized by whom?" Janeway asked. Had they been in contact with the Alpha Quadrant while she was away?
"Uh…well, Tom authorized it." Brandon said awkwardly, knowing how odd that must sound. Janeway and Chakotay both shook their heads. Tom had always been a good officer and had shown excellent command ability but they never imagined that he had so much experience. Taking orders from him was an interesting prospect. And here they were all this time wasting his skill and experiences as a first Officer. Chakotay and Janeway could have used the help sometimes.
In Sickbay Tom was waking. The first thing he saw when he woke was B’Elanna. She seemed worried. He looked at the Doctor wondering if there wher some complications. "You’re fine Mr. Paris. The damage to your lungs has been repaired but I suggest that you do not over exert yourself." The Doctor warned and then walked to his office. Tom sat up and looked at B’Elanna. She had moved back from the bed when the Doctor had spoken to him. She hadn’t moved back towards him yet. He swung his legs over the side.
"B’Elanna?" She just looked at him. She didn’t know what to say. Hopping off the biobed he approached her. "B’Elanna, what’s wrong?" For the life of him he could not comprehend her silence. He was standing very close to her searching her face for an answer, anything that could tell him what he had done to upset her. Without warning she flung her arms around his neck and just held him. Tom was surprised but didn’t complain. After a moment B’Elanna pulled back and look directly into his eyes.
"Tom, please be careful. I know I can’t stop you from doing your job but please, please know that you have new life to come back to." She touched her palm to his cheek. "You have me to come back to." She tears that she tried to hold back, choked her last words. Tom could only nod and hold her. B’Elanna didn’t allow herself to cry she never did, but this was the closet she had ever come to crying in front of Tom.
"I’ll always com back to you." He whispered to her.
The next day seemed like all others aboard Voyager. The crew attended their duties and went about their business. The only difference was that there were a few new people walking around the corridors and the ship was not moving something that was unusual for Voyager. According to the announcement over the comm. they we’re in the position where they believed the Wormhole would next appear since this end of the wormhole was not fixed. It seemed much like the time when they had found the wormhole that led to the Alpha Quadrant but his time there were no Ferengi here to screw up their chance at getting home this time. Regular shifts and rotations continued and systems were double and triple checked by the Agents and the crew. It was currently 1700 and Brandon was with Tom in his quarters helping him pack some stuff. Actually, Tom was packing and Brandon was sitting on the couch talking. Tom tuned him out. He seemed to be doing a lot of that lately, tuning people out. He had other things on his mind. He had just packed his black uniform into the bag when Janeway’s voice was heard.
"Senior officers to the bridge." Janeway ordered.
"That’s our cue." Brandon said seriously. Tom nodded and they left his quarters. Tom and Brandon headed in opposite directions; Brandon to the transporter room and Tom to the bridge.
"Davis to Ops Agents, return to the Ice." Brandon ordered over the comm system. In Engineering Mia and Roberta left immediately. In Astrometrics Mossek left when he heard Davis’ order. They all transported back to the Ice
On the bridge of Voyager Harry had found an increase in neutrinos. "Secure all systems. Get ready to take us in Tom." Janeway ordered.
"Yes Ma’am." Tom punched the keys on the helm controls
On the bridge of the Black Ice the other crew was also getting ready to enter the conduit. "Tracer online." Holmes said from her station. The tracer helped those in the Alpha quadrant aim the conduit so that the opening appeared at the right place. Tom had done it earlier form Astrometrics.
"Bring the Deflector online." Janeway ordered to B’Elanna.
"Deflector is online, Output at maximum." Torres reported from her station.
"Neutrino flux is increasing." Harry stated.
"Conduit forming." Holmes said. "Conduit has fully opened."
"Onscreen." The screen changed to a picture of a swirling vortex. "Status of conduit?" The bridge had been cleared of everybody except Senior officers other than Seven. Nobody else could know that it was a transwarp conduit opening and not a wormhole.
"Four hundred meter diameter, stable matrix, conduit is within acceptable parameters." Holmes reported on the conduit to Davis.
"Launch a Class five probe." At his station Illis complied with Davis’ order.
"Probe away." On the screen a small object flew towards the conduit and entered. The bridge was silent as they all waited to receive some information.
"Receiving telemetry from the probe. Sending it to Science." Mossek sent the information to the science station for Holmes to take a look at. She called up the info and studied it. Davis walked over her station. They spoke quietly for a few seconds and she pointed to a part of the diagram of the conduit. Davis went back to the center of the bridge.
"Contact Voyager." The screen soon changed to a picture of Voyager’s bridge. "Captain, Tom, it’s stable. We’ll go in first since this ship will have a smaller wake. It’s going to get a little turbulent, just to warn you." Janeway nodded and Davis turned his attention to Tom. "We’ll keep an open channel. Just like in the sims." Tom nodded and the picture on the viewscreen changed to that of the swirling vortex before them.
"Raise shields when ready." Illis complied and brought the shield emitters online.
"Bridge to All hands, Brace yourselves. There will be intervals of turbulence." Tom said over the comm system.
"Shut down all non essential systems." Janeway said to her crew.
"Weapons offline." Tuvok reported
"Astrometrics off-line, Bussard collectors offline," B’Elanna read off the list as the systems shut down.
"Lock down primary systems. Tom take us in; three quarter impulse."
"Yes ma’am." Voyager approached the vortex and entered right behind the Black Ice. "Time until we exit."
"Three minutes forty-six seconds." Holmes called from her station. The turbulence that Tom spoke of was increasing every second. Suddenly the ride was smooth and the turbulence stopped.
"Dropping to one half impulse. Rotate the shield frequency to repel the matrix of the conduit. Tuvok re-route all available power to the deflector." Tom ordered. A few moments later an alarm went off on the ops console. "Report."
"We are approaching a large gravimetric shear." Harry stated as he tried to get more information for the sensors.
On the Black Ice Mossek had detected the same thing.
"Fifty meters in width, spanning thirty-two percent of the conduits length."
"That’s not large enough for Voyager!" Davis said from the helm. If only one part of the ship hit the shear Voyager would be torn apart. They needed either to get all of Voyager on to it or avoid it completely. Brandon told Tom about the problem.
"We have it on sensors here too. What’s the width of the conduit?"
"Two hundred twenty-nine meters." Harry said
"We can stretch the shear by creating a small warp field in front of Voyager." Tom said.
"The cores offline." Martinez reminded him over the open channel.
"Good, it has to stay that way." Tom said. "The Black Ice’s core however is large enough to make the desired warp field, but small enough that an antimatter explosion from it would not damage the conduit severely while where in here." Tom said. Martinez started bringing the core on-line.
"Core at fifty-two percent and climbing." Illis reported.
"Twelve seconds until the shear." Mossek stated calmly. Tom and Brandon positioned the two ships.
"Ten seconds" Harry alerted them.
"Core at sixty-four percent."
"One hundred percent"
"One." Martinez activated a low power warp field from the ship. Voyager lurched as if it had his some sort of bump.
"Report." Janeway barked.
"It’s working." Harry said. The shear was now big enough for Voyager to fit in, barely.
"What’s the tachyon count in the core?" Tom asked anyone on the other ship.
"One-hundred fifty parts per million." Holmes said from her station. "The core will blow in two minutes. We’ll be past the shear by then." Holmes said.
"The core will blow huh? Is that the technical term?" Tom asked as he made minute changes to Voyager course and speed. Holmes was smiling. Tom was always quick with a quip.
"four hundred parts per million." Holmes reported.
"Shut down the warp core." Davis ordered
"Warp core off-line." Illis said
"Tachyon count still increasing." Mia informed.
"Time until breach?"
"One minute twelve seconds."
"How long until we exit the conduit?"
"Sixty-eight seconds." Tom did some quick calculations.
"We don’t have enough time to get away from the core if we eject it when we come out to of the conduit."
"If you eject it before we exit the conduit and close the it after we’ve gotten out the core will be forced into subspace where the explosion can be mostly contained." Torres suggested.
"You heard her." Davis gave them the go-ahead. At forty seconds until the end of the conduit the core of the small ship was ejected. Voyager an the Ice sped away from the volatile core and toward the Alpha quadrant.
The strain on the shields was taking its toll. "Aft shields are failing" Tuvok reported.
"Re-route power to the emitters" Janeway ordered. Suddenly the shaking began again nearly throwing the crew from their seats. Tom was working the thrusters trying to keep Voyager in the safest part of the conduit. Janeway and the others would have to take care of the shields.
"Hull stress is increasing." Harry warned them. "The shear is collapsing. Voyager’s mass has shifted the shear." The turbulence was getting worse.
"A tractor beam set to an inverse frequency of the conduit can stretch the conduit-" Janeway began.
"And stretch the shear as well." Harry finished for her and got to work. "It’s ready."
"Tractor beam is on." He complied with her unfinished command.
"I’m detecting an overload in the relays." Seven said.
"Compensating," said B’Elanna.
"It’s working." Chakotay said.
"Tractor beam output is at maximum."
"The shear is one-hundred and thirty-four meters wide." Said Seven
"Tom that’s only two meters clearance on either side. Is that enough?" Chakotay asked him.
"It’ll have to be."
"Ten seconds" Harry counted down the time until exiting the conduit "……..five seconds…four… three… two…one…" Voyager exited the conduit through a large metallic ring.
"Secure systems. Mossek send a message that the conduit needs to be closed now!" Tom said.
"Sent." A few seconds later "the conduit is collapsing."
"I’m detecting an antimatter explosion." Holmes said. "Shockwave in two seconds."
"Brace for impact." Janeway ordered.
"Conduit is closed." Mossek affirmed. Voyager only shook a bit.
"Bring main systems back online. Damage Report." Janeway looked to Harry.
"Minor damage to secondary power conduits at the main deflector."
"That’s it?" Tom asked expecting more.
"Good work people." Janeway congratulated. A minute later Tom was talking to his other Captain. "Captain Jackson, Good to see you." Tom said.
"It’s good to have you back Commander." The older man said from the bridge of the Phantom. "We need to leave immediately."
"Yes Sir." Tom said with a hint of disappointment. He had hoped he would have a little time on Voyager before he left but it was not to be. He got up from his station and went to the turbolift.
"Captain Janeway," Captain Jackson continued, "Congratulations, you got them home." He said with a smile, Janeway smiled back. They had made it.
The link was cut and Janeway turned to Tom who was leaving. "Tom we’re going back to Deep Space Nine. Will you be there?" Janeway asked, standing.
"No, I’ll find you later."
"What do we tell your father?"
"Nothing, it’s been taken care of."
"Tom, wait." B’Elanna called to him before he was in the turbolift. Tom stopped and turned around. "When will you be back?"
"I don’t know, but I’ll make sure that it’s soon." He stepped closer to her. "I’ll find you again." He whispered to her and kissed her on the forehead and then lightly on the lips. He turned and went into the turbolift. The stared into each others’ eyes until the doors slid shut and he was gone.
End Part V
I hope you liked it. It took a while but it’s finally finished. This is the second draft (which is much longer than the first one). You know the routine: firstname.lastname@example.org