Title: The Nameless Series Part VII
Author: Zappy Zaps
Rating: PG-13
Summary:  Tom has to deal with the repercussions of being part of Special Ops and having a life outside of it when the two sides to his life clash.  Trouble escalates when the Viper Prime forces their hand.
Category: P, P/T (Action/Adventure)
Disclaimer:  I don’t own Paris, Torres Janeway, etc. I’m not getting anything from this except the satisfaction of knowing that I am taking up space on the internet by posting my stories (good enough for me).  Holmes, Martinez, Davis, Jackson… you get the idea …they are mine.
Author’s note:  Hope fully this series will end soon.  How?  When?  I don not yet know.  In the meantime here’s another instalment.


Names of Agents and code names

Captain Mattey Jackson------------Arrow
Commander Tom Paris-------------Phoenix
Lt. Commander (Dr.) Ian Morris--Onyx
Lt. Commander Brandon Davis---Mase
Lt. Mossek---------------------------Dacal
Ensign Mia Holmes-----------------Jade
Ensign Drew Illis--------------------Falcon
Ensign Adrian Scott-----------------Saber

 Tom walked numbly through the halls of Voyager.  He was on his way to the transporter room from sickbay.  His thoughts where not on his destination however; rather they were focussed on his team member and friend that was lying in Sickaby barely clinging to life.  The Doctors had been able to stabilize her but her prognosis was not very good. 
 “Lt. Paris.”   Tom acknowledged that someone was calling his name.  He stopped walking and turned around.  “I had not expected to see you here this evening.”  Seven said as she approached him.  Tom just shrugged and waited for her to get to the point. “Is something wrong?” Seven asked when she noticed that Tom wasn’t his chipper self.
 “No.  I’ll see you later Seven.”  Tom said and walked away.  Seven watched him go.  His behaviour was peculiar. Something was bothering him but what, she did not know. 
 Tom walked into transporter room two.  There was no one stationed here right now since it was only a skeleton crew on duty.  Transporter room one was the one being used for any transports that where happening tonight.  Tom walked over to the controls.  He pressed a few buttons before comming sickbay to make sure that Dr. Morris (Ian/Onyx) and Mia Holmes (Jade) were ready to be beamed back to the Phantom.  He received an affirmative from Sickbay and commed the Phantom to see if they were ready for Mia to be beamed over to the ship.  They had to fix some damage on the Phantom to make sure that the power systems were not compromised in case Mia had to be put on life support.  After receiving an affirmative from Mossek (Dacal) he proceeded to transport Morris and Holmes to the Phantom.  He then inputted some commands into the console and walked over to the transporter padd. “Energize.”  And he was beamed to the pre-programmed co-ordinates. 

 “It was a God-damn trap!” Tom nearly yelled as he paced the briefing room on the Phantom. Captain Mattey Jackson (Arrow) watched as his first officer wore a hole in the carpet.  “Prime [Viper Prime] knew exactly what we were going to do and knew all the weak points.  It was a set up if I’ve ever seen one!  We knew it could be a trap.  You’d never been able to trace the signal before but this time Mia did.  She even told us that it was a trap!”  Tom stopped pacing. “Why didn’t I see it coming?” 
 “Nobody saw it coming Tom. Don’t blame yourself.”  Jackson told him.  Tom took a deep breath to calm himself.
 “Anything from Prime yet?”  he asked, wondering if Prime had called to gloat yet. 
 Jackson shook his head “Nothing.”  Tom flopped into one of the chairs and stared at the wall.  Jackson stared at Tom wondering what thoughts where going through that head.  Tom wasn’t the same man that that he knew nearly five years ago.   There are small yet profound changes.  Tom pounded his fist on the table and got up and began pacing again.  Jackson nearly sighed, the more they change the more they stay the same.
 “I think that it’s time we stopped waiting.  Mia had been able to trace the signal.  Maybe we could use some of that information to track down the ship that attacked.”  Tom suggested. 
 “I don’t think that will work.”  Before he could even go on Tom said:
 “I don’t think so either but we have to do something!”  Tom was still pacing.
 “Commander sit down!”  Tom stopped walking at looked at his Captain.  “You’re making me dizzy.”  Tom flopped back into the chair.
 “I’m going to go over the information in the sensor logs.  Maybe I’ll find something that would help us locate Primes ship.”
 “I don’t know how much you’ll get from the logs.  The sensors were badly damaged during the attack.”
 “There’s got to be something-”
 “Tom why don’t you take it easy tonight.  As soon as the repairs are done I’ll have the rest of the crew looking for any clues.”
 “I can’t take it easy at the moment.  I need to do something constructive.  The sooner we find Prime the sooner we can catch him.”  Jackson was silent for a while.  This was supposed to be a joyful evening for everybody but it had turned into a disaster for Omega Team.  He nodded at Tom who quickly left the briefing room.  The Captain stared at the chair that Tom had been sitting in only a second earlier.  He didn’t know how far Tom would go but he could tell that he was on the verge of making a radical and reckless decision.  Tom hadn’t changed that much.

 On Voyager Seven was talking to the Doctor.  She was telling him about Lt. Paris’ uncharacteristic behaviour when she saw him in the corridor.  “One of his team members was injured severely on a mission this evening.”  The Doctor said.  He couldn’t divulge too much information.
 “I was unaware that they were on a mission at all.”  Seven said.
 “That’s the idea Seven.  They don’t tell people when they’re on missions.”
 “But why this evening?”  That the Doctor couldn’t answer. 

 “Damn it.”  Tom hit the console in front of him.  His last attempt gain some knowledge about the ship that had attacked, failed.  No matter what algorithm he tried nothing seemed to work.  He had been trying for nearly three hours and was no closer to getting any answers than he was when he started.  He shutdown the console and left the room glad that nobody had been in there with him.  He had been cursing nearly none stop for the past three hours.
 He walked to the turbolift and called for the deck of the ship’s Medical Bay.  Upon arriving he saw Drew Illis (Falcon) and Adrian Scott (Sabre).  Illis was at Mia’s side and held one hand in his own while Scott, a few steps behind him just looked on in a daze.  Tom walked over to them.  Scott noticed his presence first and went to attention.  Tom eyed him critically for a moment.
 “At ease.”  Tom said and Scott relaxed marginally.
 “Sir I’m sorry for-” he began but Tom interrupted him.
 “That happens once and it doesn’t happen again.”  Tom told him flatly.  “Understood?”
 “Yes sir.”  Tom took a calming breath and looked carefully at the younger man.  He was beating himself up over what had happened.  Tom knew what self-recrimination could do to a person having done it after Caldik Prime and to some extent he still blamed himself. 
 “All you can do is learn from this… don’t dwell on it, don’t beat yourself up over it.  It won’t change anything.  Just learn from it.”  Scott looked down at the floor.  Tom placed a hand on his shoulder before moving past him to see Illis.
 “Commander.”  Illis greeted him without taking his eyes of Mia.  Tom placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. 
 “She’ll pull through.  She’s strong.”  Tom didn’t know who he was trying to convince, Illis or himself.  Drew only nodded but didn’t look at Tom who gave him a final pat and walked out of the Medical Bay.

 In a San Francisco hotel room B’Elanna was talking with her parents.  Well they weren’t really talking anymore.  They had moved past that.  Now they where taking turns yelling.  “I’ve heard about him!” John Torres yelled trying to get his point across.
 “You don’t even know him!”  B’Elanna yelled back.  The first time the three of them were in the same room together in over twenty years and they’re fighting.  She stood defiantly in front of her father with her arms crossed.  This isn’t what she had been expecting.  An argument over who she was seeing.
 “B’Elanna you can do better than him.  You’re the chief Engineer of a Starship!” 
 “I don’t want anybody else.” She said tersely.  B’Elanna was surprised that her mother had not said much on the topic.  At least she was letting B’Elanna make her own decisions about her life and relationships.
 “He has no honour!”  His father said hoping that it would appeal to her klingon side.
 “He has more honour than a man who would walk out on his family!”  Miral finally said.    There was silence in the room as old problems and old tensions came rushing back. 
 “B’Elanna, I’m sorry.”  John said softly.  He wasn’t sure what he was apologizing for, he had so many things to apologize for.  He looked down at the floor for a moment before he put a hand on her shoulder.  “I’m so sorry for leaving you, but I’ll never leave you again.” B’Elanna’s facial expression softened.  She looked into her father’s eyes and saw that they where watering.  “I’m sorry.”  He hugged her and after a moment she returned it.
 “I know daddy.”  She said softly.  Miral watched the two of them.  John she had no feelings for (almost).  She was…glad… that B’Elanna was reunited with her father but she found it offensive towards B’Elanna that John, after leaving long ago and making it clear that he wanted nothing to do with either of them, was now telling B’Elanna who she could date. 
 B’Elanna left a few minutes later to go back to Voyager.  It had been a long day and she was physically as well as emotionally worn out.  She would see her parents tomorrow for lunch.  Right now she wanted nothing more than to find Tom and spend the night with him.  She hoped that he was back on Voyager.  When she got there however, the computer informed her that he wasn’t on board.  She wondered where he was.

 The next day in the Phantom Tom had Illis and Scott running scenarios in the holo-deck.  There were several visual cameras in the holodeck so that the people monitoring where able to see what was going on  inside.  Tom and Mossek where in the next room monitoring the two other agents.  They were in a dark room with several crates and machinery blocking their view.  They knew that there was somebody else in the room other than the two of them.  They had to take out the holographic enemy and secure the area.  A few minutes later the scenario ended.  Illis and Scott had been caught and killed by their holographic opponent. 
 “Congratulations,” Tom said to them over the open comm to the holodeck “You’re both dead.”  Tom watched as the two young men looked around.  The lighting was full and they could now see clearly all the objects around them.  “The next simulation will but level seven; one level up from the last one.  I expect you to do better.”  Scott and Illis nodded and got ready for the next simulation.  “Mossek, run another simulation after this one and send the scores and any observations that you’ve made to my desk.  I’ll look at them later.”  Mossek nodded and went back to work.  As Tom was leaving the room he could hear Mossek telling the two occupants of the holodeck what the mission objective was and what they may encounter. 
 After stopping in the Medical Bay to check on Mia and doing some thinking while he was there Tom went to the bridge where he knew he would find the Captain.  “Anything from Prime?” Tom asked. 
 “Not yet.” At that moment a few alerts sounded and Tom and the Captain rushed to the Ops console.  “There’s a buoy transmitting some sort of carrier signal.  Theirs another signal overlapping it but I can’t get at it.”  Jackson said.  Tom looked at the frequency of the signal.  It was low and faint, almost indistinguishable from cosmic background radiation.  If they hadn’t been looking for some sort of signal they probably would not have found this one.  A thought struck Tom.
 “We need to cut the signal.”  Tom said as he went to one of the mission ops stations. 
 “Why?  No other ship would pay any attention to a signal like this.  They’d probably think that it’s just some freak emission from a pulsar.”
 “Voyager has integrated some borg technology and the sensors are much more sensitive.”
 “Nobody would pay attention to such a weak signal though.”
 “You don’t know Seven.”  Tom said over his shoulder.

 On Voyager Seven was recording the signal in the ships memory so that she could look at it more closely later.  The siganal was repeating itself every sixty-eight seconds.  She hoped to download all of it but before the cycle completed the signal abruptly stopped.  Seven looked for it again but found nothing but debris.  Somebody had destroyed the message buoy.  She looked at what she had gotten and went to work trying to decipher it.  An hour later she had gotten as much of the message as she could using what data she had.  She took the message to the Captain.
 “Not now Seven, I’m busy.” Janeway said.  She had a lot to do.  Starfleet wanted to know everything about what had happened to them while they where in the Delta Quadrant.  That’s a lot of information and she had to muddle through the years of reports picking out the most important ones and sending them to Starfleet Command.
 “It concerns…Commander Paris.”  Seven used Tom’s Special Ops rank and Janeway looked up at her knowing that it was something important.

 “No, Commander.”  Jackson said.  The Agents where in the Breifing room of the Phantom discussing the latest message from Prime.  “It’s too risky.”
 “What other option do we have?”  Tom said. 
 “It’s another trap.  I won’t allow you to go.”
 “Probably but this time I don’t think that all he’s after.”  Tom said. They looked at him. “You have to think like Viper.”  Tom said.  “If Viper had a plan to get what he wanted, he-like most of us-would want to divert the enemies attention away from what he wanted.  The first time he used his diversion he’d get them so that they were severely compromised; weaken them first, then he’d do the same thing, with a slight variation –he’d make the enemy come to him.  The enemy, knowing what he was doing (or thinking so) over compensates and ends up leaving opening on other things that are seemingly unrelated and that’s what he was after all along.”  The others thought about what he was said.
 “So how does that apply to what’s happened so far?”  Adrian Scott asked. 
 “The first diversion was during our mission at the reception yesterday.  Prime made it seem like he was going after the Senior staff.”
 “But he went after Mia instead.”  Brandon Davis (Mase) said as he picked up on what Tom was saying. 
 “And in doing so he weaken Omega Team.  Now he’s making us come to him.”  Tom explained.
 “So now he thinks that we’ll be monitoring whoever goes so much that we’ll have left something unguarded.”  Illis stated.
 “But what is he after?”  Jackson asked to the assembled group.  Nobody knew the answer to that question.
 “What about the attacks during the Dominion war?  We know that he attacked us and others then but how does that fit in with what he’s doing now?”
 “If he was attacking us back then, then it is most likely that what ever he is after has something to do with the Dominion War.  We should review all mission pertaining to the war and look for patterns.”  Tom said.  The others agreed and they went about collecting all the reports from every team about every mission conducted that had something to do with the war.  They had a lot to look through but narrowed down the search by looking at missions that had been botched up due to outside interference.  They had to work quickly the deadline was fast approaching. 

 In the Conference room on Voyager Captain Janeway had assembled her Senior Staff.  They had to discuss some things due to their return and one other thing.  Everybody had noticed that Tom was not around and assumed that he was probably meeting with somebody or that he was with his other crew.  They finished talking about all the issues and everybody thought that they were finished but Janeway had one more topic that they had to discuss. 
 “Earlier, Seven downloaded and decrypted a transmission from an unknown source.  She only managed to get about two thirds of the message but there’s enough information to know what it’s about.”  Janeway said.
 “What’s in the message? Who’s it for?”  Harry asked.
 “The message was for Commander Paris.”  Everybody understood the implications of using the rank of Commander instead of Lt.  “As for what’s in it…  see for yourself.”  Janeway got up from her place at the head of the table and walked to the wall monitor and activated the message.  The display changed to the distorted image of somebody’s face and a voice began speaking.  It was synthesized and unnatural but the words where intelligible. 
 ‘How’s your friend doing?’ the distorted figure asked in a mocking tone. ‘Not that I particularly care…If you want to resolve this battle now Commander, then send one members of your team, in four days, to the co-ordinates at the end of this message.  I’m not making any guarantees about anything; you send somebody and I’ll take it from there.  If you refuse this offer then you’ll force me to do something that you won’t like and it just may cost the lives of the heroes of the hour.  It’s your call Phoenix-” the message cut out there and the screen went black. 
 “I’ve tried but haven’t been able to contact Tom.  I’m assuming that the rest of you don’t know where he is either.”  They all looked to another to see if anyone knew of Tom’s whereabouts but no one knew.  “He’ll have to come back to Voyager or visit his family sooner or later and when he does we can talk to him.” 
 “You don’t really think that Tom would take this mission do you?  We’ve just made it home and he has his family waiting for him… he wouldn’t take such a risky mission.” Harry looked around the conference room to see if anyone agreed with him but no one wanted to meet his eyes. 
 “We’ll find him and ask Harry.”  Janeway soothed. “You’re dismissed.”  Janeway said and her officers filed out of the conference room. 

 Tom materialized in the Shuttlebay of Voyager.  He had to take a look at one of the systems on the Delta Flyer.  It had been nearly two days since he had been on Voyager and was unaware that his friends knew more than they were supposed to.  Tom walked to the sleek vessel and entered.  He had only been in the shuttle for a few minutes when he heard approaching footsteps.  Turning around he saw the Captain coming towards him.  He smiled at her as if there was nothing wrong. 
 “Hello Tom.”  She said.
 “Captain,” Tom greeted her.  “What are you doing on the ship?  I thought you’d be in Indiana by now.”  He joked lightly.
 “There’s still a lot to be done before I take a vacation.”  Tom didn’t say anything, only nodded and continued to work.  “For instance, what my chief helmsman intends to be doing in three days?” 
 “Seven got the message did she?”  Tom said. 
 “She did.”  Tom was silent. “Have you talked with your father?” 
 “No.  I’ll do that later.”  Tom said as he was finishing up.
 “Don’t wait too long.”  She warned.  Tom shutdown the Flyer’s systems and rose for his seat at the helm.  He had gotten the information that he needed and was more than ready to leave.  This conversation was not going in a direction that Tom was comfortable with.  “Tom do you plan on taking that mission?”  Janeway asked.  Tom just shrugged and began to walk out.  “Lt.,”  Janeway called.  Tom stopped walking and turned to face her. “Go see your father.  He misses you.”  Janeway said softly.  Tom looked at her for a long moment before silently exiting the shuttle. 

 Tom stood outside the office of Admiral Paris.  He had not pressed the announcer or even warned his father that he was coming.  He stared at the bland, grey doors in front of him and shifted his weight on his feet once again.  Why was this so hard?  Tom kept asking himself.  He thought about leaving an coming back later but with everything that has been happening lately with trying to catch ‘Prime’, his schedule was very hectic.  Captain Jackson had practically kicked Tom off the ship so that he could take some down time.
 Tom looked again at the announcer and after gathering enough resolve he quickly tapped the button before his doubts returned and he decided to leave.  He hears his father’s voice call for the person to enter and after taking a deep breath he stepped forward and the doors opened to permits his entrance. 
 Owen Paris looked up from the reports that he had been looking through and saw his son walk in.  Tom stopped walking just far in enough inside the room so that the doors could shut behind him.  Owen stood and walked around his desk so that he could stand face to face with his estranged son.  He looked at the man before him.  It had been a long time since he had last seen Tom, not counting the reception a few nights before.  Tom was older now, wiser, more responsible and according his service record from Voyager he was a fine officer and Owen couldn’t be prouder.  He smiled faintly at his son who in turn gave him a weak and fleeting smile. 
 “I…I’m glad to see that you’re doing well.”  Owen started awkwardly.  He nearly winced at how awful that sounded, but what was he supposed to say?  Tom tried not to read to deeply into what his father was saying that would only start an argument.  “Captain Janeway tells me you’re doing well and  I wanted you to know that I’m proud of you.”  Tom smiled slightly.  His father’s approval meant a lot to him.
 “Thanks.”  Tom said quietly and there was an uncomfortable silence between them for a while.
 “Tom,” he took a breath and tried to gather his thoughts. “I’m sorry, that I wasn’t more of a father to you, especially when you needed me.”  Owen began.  He had been thinking about what he was going to say to Tom if he ever saw him again since he had found out that he and the crew of Voyager were alive and in the Delta Quadrant.  “I always wondered if it would have made a difference if I had been there for you more.  I can’t change the past but I hope that you can forgive me so that we might have a future together.” Owen waited silently for Tom to say something.  “I’d like to be your father again.” He said with tears stinging his eyes.
 “That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”  Tom said.  He had been momentarily shocked at seeing his farther on the verge of crying but the realized that his eyes were watering as well.  Owen stepped closer to Tom and wrapped his arms around him.  It was slightly awkward due to the height difference but they managed.  “I’m so sorry Dad.”  Tom said softly as, for the first time in a long time he felt like he had a father again. 

 Tom walked through the corridors of Voyager on Deck nine approaching section twelve.  After leaving his father’s office he had been doing a lot of thinking.  He and his father had reconciled for the most parts and could still salvage the father-son relationship that they had managed to foul-up the first time.  Tom had left his father’s office with a sense of peace that had been missing for so long he had forgotten what it was like.  It hadn’t fully occurred to him how much he had wanted his father’s acceptance; and now that he had it he may never have time to enjoy it. 
 Special Ops didn’t leave much time for an outside life.  Not only that but he could die on any one of his missions; one day he goes out and doesn’t come back leaving all the people he cared about to speculate on what happened to him.  He didn’t want to give up his regular life when he had first come back and he certainly hadn’t warmed to the idea any more.  In fact going back to his life before Voyager seemed like an increasingly depressing prospect. 
 He rang the chime to B’Elanna’s quarters.  He realised absently how odd that was.  Usually he would just enter B’Elanna’s code and enter her quarters.  He knew she was in there; he had checked with the computer.  He heard her voice call for the person to come in and so he did.  The illumination was at about eighty-percent and cast soft shadows over the room. 
 “Tom!” B’Elanna exclaimed.  She gave him a hug and a quick kiss. “Where have you been?”  She asked.  She noticed that he seemed tense like the weight of the world was on his shoulders.  “Is something wrong?”  He unwrapped her arms from around his neck and held her hands.
 “We have to talk.”  He said seriously and B’Elanna could help the butterflies in her stomach at hearing his words and his tone.  They went over to her couch and sat down.  It took Tom a minute to gather his thoughts in a coherent manner before he began.
 “B’Elanna, I have to let you know what you’re getting into if you chose to… continue a relationship with me.”  Tom took a deep breath. “I have other obligations.  Obligations that are going to conflict with plans, with anniversaries… things won’t be the same now that we’re back home.”
 “You want to break up with me?” B’Elanna asked her voice laced with shock.
 “No!”  Tom quickly answered.  “It’s just that things will be…”
 “Different.” She finished for him and he nodded.
 “I can’t promise that I’ll be home every night.  I can’t promise that my work won’t interfere with our personal lives.  Every time I go on a mission, I can’t promise you that I’ll be coming back.” There was a stretch of silence.
 “So that’s it then… you’re going to turn you’re back on everything that you have here: you’re responsibilities, your friends….me.”
 “B’Elanna try to understand, I just don’t want to cause you any hurt.  I don’t want to loose you B’Elanna but I don’t want to be a source of pain in your life.  Say the words …and I’ll walk away.”
 “You’re just going to drop this decision on my shoulders!”  she stood up quickly as anger and pain seeped from every part of her being. “I can’t believe that you’d do this.”
 “B’Elanna…” Tom stood.  He wanted to say something but he didn’t know what.
 “Do I really mean so little to you that you could just walk away and not care?”
 “You know that’s not true!”  B’Elanna paced the length of her quarters once and then came to a halt in front of Tom.
 “What would you like me to tell you?  What would you do if I told you to leave? Would I ever see you again?” she asked defiantly.
 “You may never see me again even if you tell me to stay.”
 “You’re going on that damn mission aren’t you?  Harry was right.”
 “B’Elanna, please just tell me what you want.”  Tom pleaded.  The suspense was more than he could handle.
 “Leave.”  Tom felt as if he had been struck in the heart.  He had given B’Elanna the option and now he was going to pay for it.  He couldn’t have just left without seeing her, without giving her the chance to walk away.  “I’m not enough to get you to stay, so leave.”  Tom took a step back in the general direction of the door.  Their eyes were locked.  “If you ever truly loved me, you’d stay.” She said.  Tom swallowed.
 “It’s because I love you that I have to go.  I have to do this.”  He said softly.  Taking what may well be his last look at his love he left her quarters.  //I have to protect you.// Tom thought but didn’t say.
 B’Elanna watched him leave.  She nearly called him back.  She had almost taken back what she had said but she remained silent.  The doors closed and Tom was out of her life.  She gazed without seeing at the point in space that Tom had occupied only a few seconds ago.  He had finally said the words she’d been longing to hear just as she had thrown him out.  She stumbled backwards and dropped to the couch.  She had just let go of the best thing that had ever happened to her.  A salty tear escaped her eye and she realized that she was crying.  With that realization came more.  Tom was gone.  He wasn’t coming back and it was her fault.  Tears of grief pooled in her eyes before they too took a path down her cheeks.  Silently she cried in her quarters.  He wasn’t coming back.

 Tom walked a few meters before he couldn’t go any farther.  He leaned against the wall and closed his eyes.  Grief washed over him in waves each stronger than the last but he held on, calling upon every ounce of strength he had left not to let the emotions drown him.  After a few shaky breaths and blinking away the tears from his eyes before they could fall he continued onward.  He didn’t know where he was going but he had to get away.  She didn’t want him and he would accept it…. eventually…. hopefully.

 “How did I know?”
 “What do you want Commander?” asked a surly Tom Paris.  Chakotay looked at the man and sat at the bar stool next to him. 
 “I found B’Elanna in her quarters looking like hell and the first thing that came to mind was… Tom Paris.  I wondered to myself ‘what could Paris have done to hurt the one person that I thought he really cared bout?’.  B’Elanna didn’t tell me much but I figured that I’d find you trying to drown your own grief in a drink.”
 “Screw you.”  Tom said and took another sip of the potent liquor.
 “Getting drunk won’t help.”
 “I don’t intend on getting drunk and I also can’t get drunk.  Thank you Starfleet Medical!” Tom raised his glass in a mock toast “Implants in my kidneys and liver filter alcohol and other foreign agents out of my system quickly and thus I can only get a light buzz.  Can’t have a drunken officer giving away all of SO’s secrets now can we.”  Tom said and took another sip of his drink.
 “What about when we first met-” Chaktoay asked, vividly remembering meeting drunken Tom Paris in a seedy bar several years earlier.
 “I’m a pretty good actor, eh?  I should have gone into the performing arts.”  Tom laughed at himself and took another sip. 
 “Why leave B’Elanna?”  Chakotay asked.  He didn’t want to bring up past animosities between himself and Paris. They were friends now but there were still questions that Chakotay had to ask Paris but he would do it later; right now he was here for a friend-two friends actually.
 “Come on Chakotay!  Open your eyes!  I can’t be there for her the way I wish I could be!  I can’t….I can’t be there for her all the time.”  Chakotay could see that Tom was hurting as much as B’Elanna was.  “There are plenty of guys out there for her to fall in love with; guys that can always be their for her; guys that are better than me. No past to live down, no embarrassment when she walks into a room with me and people start whispering.  Hell, I don’t know why she didn’t leave me the moment we got back?  She could do far better than me and I know that you agree.”  Tom said.
 “She doesn’t want anybody but you.”
 “No, she’ll get over this and realise that she made the right decision.”  Tom finished off his drink. 
 “I thought that you had changed.  That you wouldn’t run away form you’re problems, but I can see that I was wrong about you this time.”  Chakotay said.
 “Yeah well you can add yourself to the list of people that have been wrong about me.”  Tom said bitterly.
 “This isn’t the time for you to be drinking, whether you get drunk or not.”  Chakotay took the bottle that Tom was reaching for and moved out so that it was out of his reach.  Tom glared at the Commander for a moment.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a hypospray. 
 “I take this and this lovely buzz of mine disappears in an instant and I’ll be clearheaded and miserable again.  Give me the bottle.”  Tom ordered. 
 “Tom let’s get out of here.”
 “Leave if you want but leave me in peace.”  Tom said as he stared at the empty glass in front of him.  Chakotay sat patiently and waited.  Tom was never a patient person and just as the commander had suspected Tom’s patience soon ran out.  Tom pressed the hypo to his neck and the haze around his mind disappeared.  He stood and turned to leave.  “She’s better off without me.”  And with that he left that bar. 

 The next day was a busy one for everybody.  Tom was on the Phantom conversing privately with Captain Jackson. Jackson informed Tom the it was his decision who he sent on the mission, Tom would have to make these decision later anyways once he was promoted to Captain.  Tom was immediately going to say that he would go but the Captain had cut him off saying that there may be somebody better trained for this particular mission, which may be true.  Each team member has their own area of expertise and had their own strengths and weaknesses.  Jackson told him to think about it and that he could inform him of the decision later.
 Tom went to the Medical Bay after he had seen the Captain to check on Mia.  According to Dr. Morris she was improving and looked like she would pull through.  Prime would not be claiming another member of his team.

 Another day later. “Captain, I believe I’ve found the location of the Phantom.” Said Seven to Janeway.  They where in Astrometrics.  Janeway has not heard back from Tom since she spoke to him in the flyer the day before but she had noticed the sullen mood of her chief Engineer and after having a quick chat with her XO she decided that she had to talk with Captain Jackson.  They had to know what was really going on. 
 “Hail them.”  Janeway ordered.  A moment later the screen changed and showed the face of the man she recognized as Captain Jackson, the first person to greet them when they had arrived.  “Captain I need to talk to you about one of our crewmen.” She began.

 Tom was in the holodeck running some scenarios when the Captain walked into the monitoring room which was empty.  Jackson shook his head in dismay.  Tom was running a live fire exercise but had not gotten anybody to monitor him.  Jackson nodded for the other to enter the room.  The room was small for the seven people that where now crowded into it.  They watched with fascination as Tom subdued enemy after enemy, expertly.  The simulation ended when Tom had successfully reached his goal.  He turned to the exit and walked out of the holodeck.
 Tom took off some of the equipment and dropped in the room just outside the holodeck before he went to the monitoring room.  He massaged his temples as he walked.  It had been a while since he had done any of the exercises that Tuvok had taught him and even longer since he had actually had a session with the Vulcan.  Tom nearly collided with Captain Jackson as he walked to the monitoring room. 
 “Excuse me.”  Tom said plainly and went to step by him but Jackson stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.
 “Are you okay?”
 “Just a headache.”  Tom said.
 “I feel I should inform you that we’ve acquired a few new passengers.”  Jackson began and Tom looked at him quizzically for a moment.  “Your friends wanted to help.”  Tom closed his eyes know exactly who he was talking about.  He was lucky to have such good friends but it would be best for them if they just let him go and not look back. 

 “Do you know what he’s after?”  Harry asked.  The large group was assembled in the conference room of the Phantom going over what they knew.
 “We have an idea but are not entirely certain.”  Davis said.  The Senior staff of Voyager minus that Doctor and the agents on the Phantom minus Dr. Morris where in the conference room.  They talked for a while longer before Tom finally decided that enough was enough.  There was nothing more anybody could do.
 “Look we appreciate your help but there’s nothing more anybody can do.  We have a plan and we’ll follow it.  You should go back to Earth.  The more you know the more danger you’re in.”  Tom said. 
 “We could help you finish your repairs.” Chakotay suggested.  Tom was about to turn down their offer for help but Captain Jackson spoke quickly before he could.
 “We’d welcome your help.”  Jackson stated and ignored the glare the Tom threw his way.  The officers and agents teamed up and then went to help with repairs.  Tom was going to be working on navigation with Chakotay.   Just what he needed another lecture from the Commander.  They walked silently to forward Navigation with Tom leading way.
 Walking slightly behind Paris Chakotay could almost see the steam coming from his ears.  They reached their destination and after receiving a quick run down of the system and it’s differences for that on Voyager, they got to work. 

 In the Ready room the two Captains were conversing.  Janeway had plenty of questions but Jackson didn’t have many answers that he could give her. 
 “How long will the mission take?”  Janeway asked.
 “We can’t be sure.  It’ll only take six hours to reach the co-ordinates that were given to us in the message but since we don’t know what will be happening once there,”  Jackson shrugged and leaned against his desk. 
 “Is Tom planning on taking this mission?” she asked.
 “Probably but it’s his choice who to send.  If he feels that somebody else is more suited for this mission and thus has a better chance of surviving then he’ll send them.”
 “Is anybody else more suited for this mission?”  Janeway asked.
 Jackson shook his head “No.  He’s one of the best Agents in Special Ops.  Well rounded, level-headed, responsible and hopefully more cautious than he was five years ago.”  Jackson described.  Jackson could remember Tom’s near death experiences from past missions.  He noticed the disturbing trend in the types of mission that Tom took after Caldik Prime and hoped back then that it was only a phase he was going through but even now Tom still seemed reckless with his own life.  He read the mission reports from Voyager. 

 In Engineering Ensign Scott was working with Torres and Kim.  Harry and B’Elanna noticed that not all the people on the ship wore the same uniforms as the Agents and Harry asked what the different uniforms meant.
 “They aren’t agents.”  Scott said “Special Ops is actually a subdivision of the Tactical forces of the Federation.  It just so happens that a lot of our business overlaps with that of Starfleet and thus we have a lot of Agents from Starfleet.”
 “So they don’t have the training that you have.”  B’Elanna asked.
 “Some of the same training but not enough for any of them to be put on missions.  The Phantom is an SO vessel but we need more people to help run all the systems so we ‘borrow’ officers from the Tactical Forces and Starfleet Security.  They’ve all taken an oath so they won’t tell anybody what goes on here but still, they aren’t given sensitive information.”
 “That’s got to be annoying.  Taking orders but not knowing what they’re for.”  Harry said while he replaced a fused relay.
 “It is and that’s why they rotate every few months or so.”  Scott started running a diagnostic.
 “So any Starfleet Security officer or anybody from the tactical forces will serve on a Special Ops vessel at some point.”  Harry asked as he was closing the wall panel. 
 “No.  People are chosen specifically from SfS[StarFleet Security] or the tactical forces as long as they meet certain criteria.”
 “Such as?”  Harry prodded for more information.
 “Speciality, psyche evaluation, species-”
 “Species?”  Harry asked.
 “Yeah.  Agents are also chosen with species as a criteria.  In General, it’s assumed that Humans, Vulcans and a few other species would be more loyal to the Federation than…let’s say a ferengi or a Klingon.”  Scott turned to B’Elanna who was working on a console near him. “No offence.” 
 “None taken.” She replied curtly without taking her eyes from the diagnostic she was running.  She had only been listening with half an ear to what Ensign Scott had been saying. 
 ‘Paris to Scott.’
 “Scott here,”
 ‘I need your help in the Vehicles Bay.’ Tom said over the comm.
 “Understood.  I’m on my way.”
 ‘And bring another Engineer with you.  We’ll need some help.’  Tom said not knowing that Harry and B’Elanna where in Engineering as well.
 “Aye sir. Scott out”  Scott turned to Torres knowing that she was the chief Engineer but not knowing about the tensions between Paris and Torres, and asked her to go with him to the vehicles bay.  She hesitate but then nodded her acquiescence. Turning to Harry Scott said “They’ll need you here.  Lt. Reames is in charge.”  He pointed to the tall gentleman a few metres away and Harry nodded.  Torres and Scott left for the Vehicles Bay. 
 “Where’s Lt. Commander Martinez?”  B’Elanna asked.  She hadn’t seen her in Engineering.
 “She’s not on Active Duty right now so she’s serving on a Starfleet ship.  We dropped her off a couple of days ago.”  Scott said as he pressed the call button for the turbolift.  When it arrived they stepped in and took the short ride to the right deck.  No words were spoken between the two until they got to the bay. 
 The double doors slid open and the two walked into the large bay.  It was much larger than the one on Voyager even though the Phantom was a smaller vessel.  There were several different vehicles in the bay.  There was a clear lane to the bay doors at the other end of the bay.  One both sides of the clear runway were the vehicles.  They walked past one vehicles before finding Tom.  He walked out of a small, sleek, shuttle carrying a relay that he wanted to replace. He saw Ensign Scott approaching but paused when he saw who he was with. 
 Torres and Scott walked over and Scott asked what needed to be done.  He had no idea that Paris and Torres had been involved and knew nothing of the tensions between the two.  Tom gave Scott the run down of what needed to be done and Scott started on the tasks leaving Tom and B’Elanna alone. 
 They were both silent for a minute before Tom managed to say something.  He explained to B’Elanna what he was trying to do with the shuttles systems.  They too where soon working.  Long stretches of silence descended between the two.  They worked quickly and the work was soon done. 
 Tom walked around the outside of the shuttle scanning the hull with a special device used to locate micro-fractures in the hull that could weaken it.  He absently ran his free hand over the smooth surface of the dark grey hull.  This particular shuttle was Tom’s favourite.  He had started building it when he was Lt. j. g.  It was baby, much like the Delta Flyer.  This ship however was built for speed and manoeuvrability hence it’s name ‘The Runner’.  It was made from one of the many shuttle specs that Tom had created back then.  It was just something that pilots do; conjure up the perfect ship to pilot.  The ship was created when they had needed a new shuttle for a very important mission and the Runner became a reality.  Since then this is what his secondary role had been after piloting and when he became a Commander after being the first officer.
 ‘Morris to Paris’ the voice echoed in the large bay. 
 “Paris,” Tom tapped his comm badge.
 ‘Report to the Medical Bay immediately.’  Tom was ordered.
 “Is Mia alright?” Tom asked fearing that his friend had taken a turn for the worst.
 ‘She’s fine but your Doctor and I need to discuss something with you.’  Morris said.
 “I’m on my way.”  Tom closed the link and put the scanning device down.  Telling B’Elanna and Adrian the he would be back he went left.  Tom had not even known that the Doctor was on the ship. He had not been at the meeting earlier.  It seems that he had been in the Med Bay discussing medical stuff with Dr. Morris. 
 Tom arrived in the Med Bay.  The moment the doors opened an airborne object came at him.  Tom caught it with one hand without even flinching.  He looked at what he had caught -an empty hypospray vial.  He looked at the two Doctors. “What are you doing?”  Tom asked irritably.  He still had a headache and wasn’t in the mood for games. 
 “Conducting an experiment.”  Morris said.
 “Are you done?  Can I go?”  Tom asked impatiently.  He had just arrived and was already itching to leave. 
 “No yet, Mr. Paris” The holo-doc said scanning Tom with a tricorder.  “How did you know to catch the vial?” the Doctor asked.
 “I saw it coming.”  Tom answered quickly.  Both the Doctor’s where shaking their heads.  “What?”
 “You couldn’t have seen it coming.  I threw it before the doors had opened.  Think carefully.  How did you know?”  The Doc asked again.
 “I…”  Tom went to respond but realized he couldn’t quite describe ho he knew to catch the vial.  He hadn’t seen it coming but he had known that it was coming.  He tried to describe it to the doctors but he doubted they understood, he didn’t quite understand himself. 
 “Then it’s as we suspected.”  Morris said.
 “What do you mean?”  Tom asked and walked over to where Morris was accessing something in the computer database.  “What’s this?”  The Doctor joined them at the console.
 “Your spatial orientation test.”  Morris said. “Do you know what you got on it?”  Tom shook his head, no.  “Perfect.”  Tom looked at the console to confirm what Ian had said and indeed it was true.  A perfect score.
 “So what does all this mean?  What was at you suspected?”  Tom asked impatiently.
 “That your abilities not only allow you to move object but also sense them.” Said the Doc.  Tom looked at him, scepticism written clearly on his face.  “We need to conduct a few more tests.”  The Doctor said.
 “I have to prep the Runner for the mission-”  Tom began.
 “That will have to wait.”  The Doctor said.  The Doctor turned his back to Tom while he got a different scanning device.  Tom glared at the Doctor who wasn't facing him and headed for the exit.  As he was about to exit the doors slid open and Lt. Commander Tuvok entered.  “Ah, Mr. Tuvok, you’re here.  We can begin now.”
 “Doctor I don’t have time for this.”  Tom stated. 
 “I’m sure that they can manage without you for a few minutes.” The Doctor said and ushered Tom to a biobed.  Tuvok initiated a low level mind-meld with Tom.  Ten minutes later they were finished and Tom immediately headed for the door.  He wasn’t interested in any comments or analysis Morris, the Doc or Tuvok had.  He had work to do.  The other three watched Tom make a quick exit.  Tuvok was the first one to speak.
 “What are the results of the tests?”  Tuvok asked.
 “Mr. Paris managed to move each of the objects without opening his eyes and looking at them and without knowing where in the room they were.  It’s remarkable.  With more training he could master his abilities.”  The Doctor said excitedly.
 “He must learn control first.”  Tuvok stated, raining on the Doc’s parade.

 In the Vehicles Bay Torres and Scott were talking while they went over the Runner’s hull with the micro-fracture sensor.  With two of them doing it, the task would be completed twice as fast.  B’Elanna looked around the large room every so often.  The Vehicles where arranged according to the types.  Closest to the large bay door were two large shuttles.  The Runner was next and after it was the large hover car or truck(more like a hummer but B’Elanna doesn’t know that).  It looked normal but B’Elanna was certain that the inside was much different than that of a regular hover car.  On the other side of the runway at the end closest to the bay doors was a small vehicle.  It looked vaguely like a shuttle but had no nacelles leaving B’Elanna wondering what it was for.  Next to it was an open area.  A large rectangle on the floor there looked like it could be removed and it was outlined with the yellow and black warning stripes.  After that was the three bikes.  One conventional and two hover.  B’Elanna smirked.  That’s how Tom knew how to ride hover bikes when they were on the Nerissian Homeworld in the early days of their time in the Delta Quadrant. 
 “How’s it coming?”  Adrian Scott’s voice pulled her back to the present. 
 “I’m almost done.”  She said as she scanned the last part of the hull of the Runner.  When she had finished that they packed up the equipment. “Where’s the shuttle that escorted us back to the Alpha Quadrant?”  B’Elanna asked noticing that she didn’t see the ship.
 “The ‘Black Ice’ is actually too big to fit in here.  It fits into the ship itself; right underneath.  When the front bay doors of the Launch Bay are open it’s actually the bottom of the Black Ice that you’re seeing.  It fits flush against the bottom of the Phantom.”
 “How do get into it?” B’Elanna asked.  Adrian pointed over to where the bikes where near the back wall.  Behind them was a ladder that went up the tall wall to an opening in the wall that led to one of the hatches to the Ice.
 “Through there or the main entrance to it on the deck above us.”  Scott gathered the rest of the equipment and put it away.  B’Elanna looked the around the bay once more.  None of the vehicles had any Starfleet or federation markings on it and they were all dark in colour. Not even the names of the ship where written on the hulls of the vessels.  It would be impossible for somebody to say for certain where the ships where from.

 That night the agents were meeting in the briefing room.  Tom was pretty much leading the meeting.  The each reported on the state of the preparations and repairs.  All repairs to the Phantom where complete.  Now they only had to finalize the plans for tomorrow. 
 “Who will be going to the rendezvous co-ordinates?”  Illis asked.
 “I will be.”  Tom said.  His statement was met with murmurs of disapproval from the occupants of the room.  Tom looked at each of them in turn. “Problem with that?”
 “Can we ask why you chose yourself for this mission?”  Davis asked.
 “I’m assuming that this is pretty much a suicide mission.  So who better than me to take it?”  Tom said humourlessly.
 “Anyone of us could take that mission Tom.  If you that we aren’t willing to take that mission then you should think again.”
 “For whatever reason, Viper has a something to settle with me and I want this to end.  Too many people have already been put in danger.  I won’t let anybody else die because of me.”  Tom said solemnly. 
 “Amerra was our friend and Mia is our friend too-” 
 “It wasn't you’re friends that died at Caldik Prime.” Tom said sternly.  “If this really is Viper, back from the dead, then it was probably he who let the information slip that there was an Ops agent on that shuttle.  My decision is final.”  Tom said leaving no room for argument.
 The rest of the meeting went by quickly and when they had finalized all the plans they where dismissed.  Davis didn’t move from his seat in the room.  The others filed out leaving the two alone. 
 “What?” Tom asked irritably.  He rubbed his temples in an attempt to abate his headache.  He had done the exercise with Tuvok why did his head still hurt. 
 “You don’t think that we all feel bad about Amerra’s death and Mia lying in the Med Bay?”
 “I never said that.”  Tom grumbled.
 “Do you think that we wouldn’t be willing to take that mission, whether it’s suicide or not?  Why didn’t you ask us?”
 “Because I’m taking this mission.”
 “You’re still blaming yourself for thing that aren’t you’re fault.  You have your life to go back to but you’re willing to sacrifice everything because of your misplaced sense of guilt and duty.”  There was silence in the room for a minute. “Watch the message that Amerra left for you.”  Brandon said and walked out of the room.  Tom watched the doors slide shut.  He hadn’t watched the message yet.  He had been busy and every time he had a spare minute he could never bring himself to play the message.  Now seemed like as good a time as any.

 Harry Kim rang the announcer to what he was told was Tom’s quarters on the Phantom.  He waited a minute but no response came so he rang the it again and a few seconds later he heard Tom’s voice telling him to enter.  The room was about slightly smaller than the one that he had on Voyager and the lighting was at a fraction of the full intensity.  Tom was sitting at the small desk looking at the screen of the desk’s console.  Soft words floated through the room from the message that Tom was listening to.  Tom had not even acknowledged his presence so Harry walked around the desk to see who was on the screen that Tom was watching so intensely.  Harry caught a glimpse of the face of a woman on the screen before the message ended and the screen went black. 
 Tom stared at the black screen.  Harry watched him and tried to discern what his friend was feeling but his face was a cold mask and nothing could be inferred from his current state.
 “Who was that?”  Harry asked.
 “An old friend.”  Tom said getting up from the desk.  “What do you want?”  Tom asked curtly.
 “Just came to see how you were doing.”  Harry said ignoring Tom’s tone. 
 “Well as you can plainly see I’m fine.” Tom started walking to the door of his quarters and Harry followed.  “Shouldn’t you be catching up on five years worth of news with your parents?”  Tom asked as they left the room.
 “It’s late.  I’ll see them later.”  Harry dismissed.  Tom was silent for a while. 
 “You should leave.” 
 “Why? Where are you going?”  Harry didn’t know that Tom had a mission tomorrow. 
 “Right now I’m going to talk with the Captain, and then I’m going to bed.”
 “I think she’s-”
 “My other Captain, Harry.”  Tom said as they entered the turbolift and went to the bridge. 
 “Captain Jackson, can I speak with you, privately.”  Tom said the moment he stepped on to the bridge.  Jackson nodded and the two went into the ready room leaving Janeway and Kim wondering what was going on.
 “Why are they still here?”  Tom asked the moment the doors slid shut. 
 “You don’t want them here?” 
 “They don’t belong here.”  Tom said fatly.
 “They seem to think differently.”  Jackson said as he sat in his chair.  “They just want to help.  They’re your friends, Tom.”
 “And it’ll get them killed.”  Tom said to himself.  “Repairs are just about done they don’t need to be here.”
 “You may never see them again and I think that they know your planning something.  Just let them see you off.”
 //’Cuase that will make it so much easier to leave.// Tom thought sarcastically.  “Fine, let them stay but I’m going to sleep.”  Tom said and walked out of the ready room. 
 He was leaving the ship the morning (or night) at 0400.  It was currently 2148 so he could get a couple of hours of sleep before he had to get up and get ready.  On the bridge Janeway and Kim were waiting for him to exit.  They had to talk to him.  Tom saw them waiting for him on the bridge and suppressed a groan.  Why won’t they just leave? 
 “We need to talk.”  Janeway said.

 Ten minutes later all of the Voyager crewmembers on the Phantom were assembled in the briefing room.  Nobody was seated.  The tension in the room was palpable and Tom cringed slightly, knowing that he was the one causing it.  They all wanted to know what was going to happen next so Tom told them, plain and simple.
 “You can’t!”  Harry said after he heard about the mission.  Tom only looked at him.
 “I’m not asking for your approval.”  Tom stated. “You wanted to know what was happening so I told you.”
 “What about your family?”  Chakotay asked.
 “What about them?” They couldn’t believe that this was Tom they were talking to.  He was so cold.
 “You can’t just leave them.”  Chakotay added.
 “I’m doing this to keep them safe.” Tom said. //To keep you all safe//.
 “They will want to know where you are.”  Tuvok said. 
 “Meeting with the parole board.”
 “They won’t believe it.”  This from Janeway.
 “They’ll have to.”  Tom shrugged.
 “So that’ it then.  You’re just going to forget about your friends and family?” Harry said in disbelief.  This wasn't the man he had come to know and like over the past five years.
 “Would it be easier for you to leave if I were the same person you knew five years ago?”  They were all silent as they remembered their initial impressions.  Seven didn’t have the same memories since she had only been on voyager for two years but she knew of what it had been like for Tom at the beginning to the journey; she had experienced the same thing at the beginning of hers. “I can be that person again, and you can leave here without a doubt in your mind that I’m getting what I deserve or that I’m not worth worrying over.”
 “That’s not you!”  B’Elanna finally erupted.
 “Closer than you might think.”  Tom said.
 “As your friends we can not allow you to take unacceptable risks.”  Seven said.
 “As my friends I can’t allow you to take unacceptable risks either and hanging out around here is putting you all in danger.”  Tom said.
 “Friends stick together.”  Seven repeated something that Tom had once told her.
 “Friends know when to let go.”  Tom said.
 “You won’t get rid of us that easily.”  Janeway said stubbornly.
 “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll walk away and not look back.  My friends usually end up dead.”  Tom walked out of the room.  Whether they left now or not was of no consequence.  Come 0400 and they’ll have to leave anyway.  Right now he had to go to bed.  Being sleepy during an assignment was not a good idea.

 0300 rolled around.  Around the ship many people where waking up having to start their day extra early.  Tom was already awake and was dressing in his black uniform.  He had to put on the rest of his gear, grab his weapons, visit sickbay and run a final check on the Runner before he left. 
  He left his quarters and headed to sickbay.  There he checked on Mia and got some supplies.  He was slightly surprised to find the holodoc in their working with Dr. Morris who was still rather sleepy.  Tom nodded to them and went directly to the supply cabinet to grab what he needed. 
 “You have a headache.”  Tom heard the holodoc say form behind him and the beep of a tricorder. 
 “Give the man a prize.”  Tom put the last hypospray vial in the utility belt he was wearing.  The Doctor scanned it and raised and holographic eyebrow.
 “Diazepam.  Why do you need that?”  he asked.  Tom closed the cabinet.
 “Stills the nerves temporarily so I can get a steady shot.”  Tom walked over to where Mia lay and looked at her bio-readings.
 “She’ll make a full recovery.”  The Doctor stated.  Tom nodded and without a word left the sickbay.

 They walked into the weapons locker and saw him testing the sight on one of his phaser rifles.  He was in all black as usual but he now wore more gear and accessories.  There were two dark harnesses, each of them going up his chest, over his shoulders, down his back and each having several devices attached to them  Tom turned when he heard approaching footsteps.  He saw them and turned back to what he was doing.  He put the rifle in the harness on his back and reached out for another item on the wall. 
 “You’d think that there was a party going on or something.”  Tom said as he checked another weapon.  He placed it on the belt and walked to another storage locker.  He retrieved several small items and places them in the cargo pockets and other pockets in his uniform. 
 “You weren’t going to tell us when you where leaving.” 
 “No, I wasn’t.  I had hoped that you had already left.”  Tom said.  He closed the locker and locked it shut.  Picking up what looked like a hat that was rolled up he put it on enough so that it would stay on his head.  He looked to the four other people that had joined him in the room.  Captain Janeway, commander Chakotay, Ensign Kim and Commander Tuvok.  B’Elanna wasn’t there and Tom had to ignore the momentary flash of pain and sorrow that her absence caused.  He noticed that Seven wasn’t their either and wondered where she was.  Maybe she had the sense to go back to Voyager. 
 “I don’t suppose we could convince you to reconsider.”  Janeway said.
 “Would I be able to convince you from doing your duty as a Starfleet officer?”  Tom asked but wasn’t looking at her.  He zipped closed a black bag and put the strap over the opposite shoulder so that the strap crossed his chest.  He looked at the chronometer: 0343.  “Time for me to depart.”  Tom walked past them towards the door.
 “Tom,” Chakotay stopped him from leaving with a hand on his shoulder, “Be careful.  You’ve got a lot to come back to.”  Tom just nodded after glancing quickly at each of them he walked out of the room aware that they followed him.  He walked down the short corridor towards the vehicles bay.  Turning the corner he saw B’Elanna waiting at the far end by the entrance.  Before her though was Captain Jackson.  Tom walked to him and they conversed quietly. Jackson left and Tom continued to the entrance to the Vehicles Bay.
 Tom stopped in front of B’Elanna.  This was just going to be a good-bye and see ya later between friends, nothing….too personal.  He could do this.  Just walk away.
 “Well…good luck.” She said awkwardly.  Tom nodded.  He began to walk away.  “Tom!”  She called and he turned back to her.  “I…didn’t mean what I said.  I want you to stay and I want you to stay.”  Tom was going to speak but B’Elanna spoke quickly “I know that you have to do your job, but please….come back.  I…. need you.”  She told him softly.  Tom stepped closer to her but not so much that he invaded her personal space.
 “No you don’t.  You’re stronger than I could ever be.”  Tom whispered to her.  He wanted to say more but the words failed him and he turned away.  If he looked into her eyes a moment longer he would have lost himself and possibly decided that this mission was not worth giving up everything that he had. He rolled down the rest of the mask he wore on his head and it covered his face except for a long rectangle cut out in the fabric so that he could see and put on a pair special goggles.  He walked into the Vehicles bay without looking back. 
 The Runner was already on the runway and all he had to was run a last check and he was off.  He noticed that the entrance was open.  He looked in and saw Seven at the helm.  He cleared his throat loudly.  After a moment Seven emerged from the small ship.
 “Seven.”  Tom said with a bit of a smirk though she could not see it through the mask.
 “Commander Paris.”  She said. “I have increased the efficiency of the engines by eight percent.”
 “Thank you, Seven.”  Tom said and walked past her to get to the shuttle.
 “Tom,” Seven called and Tom turned to look at her, noting that she had called him by his first name, “Good luck.”  Tom nodded once and pressed the button to close the aft hatch.  Seven left the shuttle vehicles bay so that the shuttle could depart.

 “Phoenix to the Phantom, I’m ready to go.”  Brandon had command of the bridge for the time being.
 “Acknowledged.  Opening Vehicle Bay doors.”  He said as he tapped in the proper command.
 “Phoenix out.”  They watched the small ship jump to warp and contacted Captain Jackson that the Runner had cleared the ship.
 A few minutes later the rest of the Voyager crewmembers had been beamed off the ship and back to Voyager.  There was silence among them. Tom was gone and they didn’t know to where.  They couldn’t do anything to help him.  There only option was to wait. This group of people, however, where used to making their own options. 

End Part VII

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