Title: The Trials and Tribulations of Tom Paris
Author: Zappy Zaps
Summary:  Starts from after Caldik Prime but Tom does not join the Maquis directly.  He lives with friends in the DMZ were he makes a name for himself as a smuggler and the leader of a group of renegades.  Shows what really happened at Caldik Prime.
Author’s notes: This Tom Paris is 24 years of age (or so) when the story begins.  Darker personality (on the surface anyway).
Rating: PG-13 (talk of child abuse)
Category: P, P/T (later) Action/Adventure AU

Tom Paris walked away from his San Francisco home.  Actually it was no longer his home.  Just another building.  One foot in front of the other carried him away from the life he had and closer to the life he knows.  He carried with him only the duffel bag that he had managed to pack with the few things he thought he would need from his old life.  He left a letter to each of his sisters.  It was very personal goodbye since he didn’t want to drag down their careers with his mistakes. 

A finger from his mouth with blood on it confirmed that his cheek was split but he got away from the Admiral relatively unharmed.  If he hadn’t fought back he doubted that he would even be able to walk right now.  Admiral Paris, there was someone he never hoped to see again.  Admiral Paris ran his old life and he wouldn’t anymore.

After a quick visit to Sandrine’s Tom Paris disappeared from the public, from the media.  A start to a new life.  A better life? That’s debatable, but at least it was his life.

On a small planet in the DMZ Tom Paris walked through the streets.  Once a beautiful planet, it had been destroyed by the conflict with the Cardassians.  Battle raged around the planet between the Cardies and the Maquis and the planet was impoverished.  It was here that his old friends and possible a new life awaited him.  

He walked through the streets in a black, hooded trench-coat and wore black gloves that had the fingers cut off-as was his usual attire when he came here.  He walked into a small building carrying his duffel bag.  The building was basically a shelter for lost souls.  The first room he entered was crowded with people.  Most of them were young Bajorans, ranging in age from toddlers to young adults.  There were some elderly people there-some had brought their grandparents who were too old to take arms against the Cardies but had nowhere else to go.

Walking through the room towards the door on the other side, Tom was greeted with bright smiles of hope.  The people here knew of his recent discharge but they didn’t dwell on the fact that he lied instead they concentrated on the fact that he told that truth in the end and accepted his punishment without qualms.  

One old Bajoran woman sitting on a cot grabbed Tom’s hand as he passed her by.  She smiled up at him softly conveying something that Tom was unsure of.  He walked on.

Entering the back room there was a smaller room that three people occupied.  A man was sitting on a shabby couch, while another younger man was leaning against the far wall.  While the two males were human the woman sitting on the armrest was Bajoran.  The conversation immediately stopped when they saw who had entered.  The sparsely furnished room was silent.  The two seated people stood and the man leaning against the wall stood up straight as well. 

No one knew what to say.  Each person weighing their words carefully.  The Bajoran woman, who was rather bold, stepped up to Tom and gave him a huge hug.  With a smile on her face she rested her head against his chest.
 “I’m glad your back.” She said quietly.  Tom finally wrapped his arms around her and returned the smile with a soft one of his own.  
 “It’s good to be back Kerra.” He said softly to her.  Kerra’s dark brown hair was in a low bun with a few stands of hair falling to her face.  She was beautiful but they were just friends.  The two men approached and Tom and Kerra released each other.  One of the men stepped up until he was only a meter in front of Tom.  He held out a hand.  Tom shook his hand and was surprised when he was pulled into a hug.
 “I was wondering when you were going to get here.”  
 “I was…delayed at home.” Tom said cryptically.  “It’s good to see you Jay.” Tom said as he stepped by Jay to the other man.  He was younger than the others only seventeen and was like Tom’s little brother.  Tom had known him since his first visit to the DMZ.  In fact, it was he that caused Tom to return.  

Tom stood there for a moment before he was encircled by another pair of arms.  Tom wrapped his arms around the younger man before breaking the hug.  Alec had light brown hair that he had cut short and his eyes were green.  

 “I was afraid that you wouldn’t come back.” He said quietly and laughing a bit.

 “Alec, I have to come home.” Kerra came up to Tom and turned him to face her.

 “Your ‘delay’, it wasn’t your father was it?” she said reaching up to turn his face for better examination.  He had a bruise on the side of his face.

 “The Admiral, yeah it was him but he didn’t get me very well.” He said moving out of her grip.

In San Francisco, Admiral Owen Paris sat alone in his living room.  He had just watched his only son walk away from his home without a second look back.  In his hand he held two letters.  They were to Moira and Kathleen, from Tom.  He had gone to their rooms and picked them up before they had come home.  He had yet to read them.  Where had they gone wrong? That question had gone through his mind countless times.  He had trained Tom to be a leader and be responsible and now this happens. 

His daughters were distraught to find that Tom had left and not told them.  Tom had always been rather close to his sisters but they only knew a fraction of what was really Tom Paris.  Kathleen and Moira knew that their father was particularly hard on Tom but they had no idea how difficult the relationship was.  They had moved out years ago.  The youngest girl was seven years older than Tom and they had their own lives now but had sent Tom a message that they would be coming home soon, after they had heard about the discharge.  It had been sent only an hour after Tom’s discharge was made public but Tom had left the house before then.

Owen rubbed a hand over his tired face.  Tom, he thought he knew that boy inside and out. He thought that he could control Tom and turn him into the prodigy he imagined.  How could one person be so wrong.  He rubbed the spot in his stomach where Tom had punched him earlier.  He had no idea that the boy could fight so well or that he was that strong.  Owen had concentrated more on tactics and strategy than actual hand-to-hand combat.

Tom had never fought back before today.  He had always accepted the blows and tortures that Owen inflicted upon him.  He had trained Tom since he could walk that he was the next in the great line of Paris officers in Starfleet.  When Tom went to the academy though, it stopped, but when he got home during breaks it started again. 

Although Tom would rarely spend his breaks at home with the Admiral-usually he went to some mysterious destination.  No one had ever found out where the destination actually was, even though he had sent countless people to follow Tom.  Tom had always managed to loose them.  

Owen heard footsteps approaching the living room and quickly hid the padds behind his back.  Moira the oldest of his children walked into the room.

 “Dad where did you put the messages that Tom left for Kathleen and I?” she said without preamble.

 “What are you accusing me of?” the admiral said as if he were outraged. 

 “You know exactly what I’m talking about Dad.” Her voice was getting louder. “Tom left me this hidden in my drawer,” she said holding up a small data chip “he told me that he left the ‘messages on padds that should be on the bed if the admiral didn’t get to it first’.  So I’ll ask again, Admiral, where are the letters?” she was very angry now.  Her father was the type to do this sort of thing but she hoped that he would prove her wrong.  

Owen slowly reached behind him and withdrew two padds and held them out to her.  He had always hated it when she called him ‘Admiral’ he loved his daughters and it hurt him when they did that.  

After a moments hesitation Moira took the padds from him.  Quickly finding the one addressed to her she began to read it to herself.  Her eyes were beginning to fill with tears as she faced the prospect of never seeing her baby brother again.  Owen wanted to know what the letter said and got up from the couch.  Moira stepped back and looked at him with eyes filled with such sorrow that it froze him were he stood.  She turned and left the room, tears cascading down her cheeks.  

Owen sat heavily back on the couch.  //What have I done,// he thought to himself.  //What has he done, // His angst quickly changed to anger as he thought of his prodigal son.

Tom was unpacking his few belongings into his usual room at the back of the shelter when Kerra walked in.  Tom had some twentieth century rock music playing.  Kerra stood at the door and watched him for a little while.  She and Tom had only ever been friends, finding that their personalities clashed too much to have an intimate relationship, but that didn’t stop her from looking though.  It didn’t stop him either but she didn’t know that.

 “Tom.” she called over the music.  Tom turned and saw her standing at the door and turned down the music so that they could speak without yelling.  Tom read the look on her face and mentally sighed.  He turned his back to her and went back to unpacking.  Kerra knew he had read her expression and that he was wearing that stupid expression like he doesn’t care.  It bothered her when he did that but she also felt sorry for him.  She was afraid that one day he just wouldn’t be able to keep ignoring or pushing away his feelings and that he would self-destruct.  “Tom, I know you’re not telling us everything.”


 “About what happened at Caldik.” 

 “You want to know what happened?  Read the damn report.”

 “I don’t want the fleet brand of ‘truth’ I want yours.”

 “The truth should be the same no matter who tells it.”

 “But it’s not.  Not when there’s Starfleet political bias screwing with everything, is it?”

 “Kerra, drop it.” Tom said emotionlessly.  He had been calm and said everything in the same tone.

Kerra knew that Tom wasn’t ready to talk about it.  If he ever would be was a rhetorical question.  “All right Tom but Jay, Alec and I all know that there is more to what happened than you or Starfleet is saying.  Move past whatever it is they did and let us help.”

 “I don’t-”

 “I know” she interrupted “You don’t need help.  But you should try letting people help you sometimes.” She turned and walked out of his room, the door closing behind her.  

Tom stared at the closed door for a moment before returning to his unpacking and turning up the music so that he couldn’t here his thoughts.

The next day Tom walked to the common room dressed in dark grey pants, T-shirt and a black jacket.  Alec and Kerra were watching a news-vid.  Tom walked by mumbling something about lying bastards.  He entered the main room where other people were waking.  Tom spotted Jay talking to Kerra’s grandmother.  Jay finished talking to her and saw Tom.  He wasn’t hard to miss.  At six feet, three inches Tom was the tallest person in the building.  Jay walked over to him.

 “Good morning.” He greeted with a smile on his face.

 “Your unusually chipper this morning.” Tom said with a ghost of a smile on his face.

 “And why not it’s a beautiful day.”

 “Last time I checked there was a war going on outside.” Tom said raising a cynical eyebrow.

 Jay sighed “Always the pessimist aren’t we, Tom” Jay said with his smile firmly in place.  

 “No, just a realist.  So where’s that ‘thing’ you wanted to show me?”  Tom said looking around the room for something different.  

 “It’s not here.”  Jay said seeing what he was doing.

 “Then where-”

 “You’ll see.  Come on.”  Jay said going to the back room to get Kerra and Alec.  A few minutes later they left the building and were walking through the back alleys of the city to their destination.  Tom was in his black trench-coat and the black gloves again.  He had the hood up to keep people from recognizing him.  He didn’t think that they would care too much but he had enough to deal with at the moment.  Kerra and Jay were dressed in similar manner; both with trench-coats but Kerra’s was a dark red.  Alec wore a dark green jacket and a backwards baseball cap.  Jay wore sunglasses, not that the sun was very bright but he always wore them when he was outside.  Jay was exactly six feet tall and had an aura about him that said ‘don’t mess with me’.   But he could be a real marshmallow at times.

The group reached their destination and entered the small hanger.  Inside was a small starship.  More like a clunking freighter but it had its strong points.  The ship had been built in the last five years and was a Federation model so the parts would be available and it could pass through Federation space without alerting too many people.  There were several people working on the ship both inside and out.  It had been abandoned by whoever owned it before as useless or irreparable but here the threshold for irreparable had been pushed back.  They had little to waste and had to make the most out of everything they had.

Tom walked up to the ship and touched the cool metal admiring the surface material.  It was once a high-grade ship and now they had it.

 “It may not be much now but with a little work it will be like brand new, if not better.”  Tom turned to his left to see an old friend standing before him.  The Bajoran male had dark brown skin and held a hyperspanner in his hand.  

 “Its perfect Tirell.”  Tom said shaking his hand.  “How long have you been working on it?”

 “About eight months.” He said looking at the ship.

 “And you never told me.” Tom stated looking at the ship.

 “I wanted to keep it a secret. I was hoping that you would be at the helm on her maiden flight but, these aren’t exactly the circumstances I envisioned.”  He remarked.  Tom didn’t respond.  These weren’t the circumstances he envisioned coming back here in but you can’t change the past.

 “What’s her name?”  Tom asked.

 “Anonymous, at the moment.” Tirell said turning to Tom “But suggestions are always welcome.”  He patted Tom in the back. Tirell turned to the other three “all of you, feel free to take a look around if you’d like.”

 “We can do more than that Tirell.  If were going to use it we should at least help put it together.” Kerra said.

It took two more months before all the components of the ship were in working order and not a day too soon.  Supplies in the city were running low.  The ships first job would be a food and materials run.  Taking the newly christened ‘NOVA’ to a backwater federation planet they managed to get the supplies they wanted.  Tom commanded the ship from the helm with Alec at Ops, Kerra at tactical and Jay in engineering.  They were slightly undermanned but it was a simple mission.  They would visit Tom’s other hangouts and meet up with some other old friends later.

A year later Tom Paris was a well known name in the DMZ but very little was spoken of him among the people.  Tom Paris and his Crew were shadows in the DMZ.  His crew consisting of over one hundred members and only six worked on the Nova.  The other were located around the DMZ.  There were only one hundred twenty or so official members of Tom’s crew but he had several other contacts and people that he would visit every so often to get information from.

Tom’s gang, called the Mavericks made him a power to be contended with in the underworld of smuggling.  If anything worth knowing was happening in the DMZ Tom knew about through his many contacts.  He was one person you didn’t want to have as an enemy.   The Mavericks were known of in the federations and rumours around Federations Space said that there were Maverick operatives around.  The Federation had tried to get their own undercover agents into the Mavericks but none had ever made it in.  They did not know who was the leader of the Mavericks but whoever it was knew Starfleet and Federation tactics like the back of his hand.  

The Maquis had never associated with the Mavericks but were hoping to since they held so much power in the DMZ and in other areas.  The Maquis weren’t the only ones interested in tapping into the power held by the Mavericks.  Starfleet was also looking in that direction.

At Starfleet HQ Captain Jean-Luc Picard sat at a table with a few other Captains including Captain Kathryn Janeway and Captain Benjamin Sisko.  There were also two Admirals: Nacheyev and Ross.  They had just received the latest information from one of their informants in the DMZ.  

 “One person that may be able to help us is Tom Paris.  He’s been spotted in and around the DMZ for the past little while.  He may know something that we don’t.” Nacheyev stated.

 “Tom Paris?  Will he be will to give information? He didn’t exactly leave on the best of terms with Starfleet.”  Picard commented.

 “He has strong ties to Starfleet.  I think that he would be willing to help an organization his family has supported for generations.”  The other Ross stated.  Nacheyev stayed silent.  The meeting wrapped up and everyone was leaving the room but Janeway stayed behind to talk to Nacheyev.  Janeway had noticed that she didn’t seem very sure that Tom Paris would be wiling to help.  Janeway brought up Caldik Prime and Tom Paris’ discharge.  One thing that Janeway heard the older woman saying as she walked away made her wonder.  

 “I can’t say that I would have done differently than he did.”

Back on the Enteprise Captain Picard finished his meeting with the Senior Staff.  They had a mission to the DMZ to pay a visit to Tom Paris.

On a small M-class moon the Enterprise away team consisting of Riker, Worf and Troi entered a seedy looking bar looking for a blonde head, which they spotted.  At the far left corner of the bar sat a figure in the shadows nursing a drink.  They approached him.

 “Anyone sitting here?” Riker asked gesturing to the three chairs.  Tom didn’t respond.  That to most people meant that he didn’t want company but Riker and his companions sat anyway.  Tom made no move; one hand still holding the glass, eyes still staring at one point across the bar, totally ignoring them.  Troi began a search through the surface of his emotions but a mental barrier was quickly erected.  Ice blue eyes locked with her black eyes.  Half of his face was shrouded in shadows but his eyes were easy to see as the soft lighting in the bar reflected off them.  Going back to staring at the point at the far side of the bar and raised his glass to take a short sip.  

 Riker began “Maybe you could help us-”

 “No.” was the quick answer.

 “You haven’t even heard what I have to say.”

 “I don’t want to hear what you have to say.” Tom said flatly not taking his eyes of the far wall.

 “You may want to reconsider.” Worf said.

 “I don’t want anything to do with Starfleet or the Federation.”

 “No one mentioned anything about Starfleet or the Federation.” Troi said.

 “Not yet you haven’t.  Go back to Starfleet and leave me the hell alone.”

 “How did you know we were from Starfleet?” Troi asked giving up on their little deception.  

 “You carry yourself a certain way.  You may as well have Starfleet written on your foreheads.”  Tom got up from the table leaving his half finished drink behind.  He began to walk past them when the Riker and Worf stood.  Riker placed a hand on Tom’s shoulder to stop him from leaving.  Tom stopped but didn’t turn to face them.  He turned his head to look at the hand on his shoulder.

 “If you want to retain use of that hand you’ll let go of me.”  Tom said threateningly.  All eyes in the bar were on the group in the corner, watching the situation unfold.  They knew Tom was sitting in the corner but they were each smart enough not to bother him when he wanted to be alone.

 “We need information on the Mavericks.” Riker said cutting to the chase.

 “Let go of me.”

 “No-” Before Riker could finish his statement Tom grabbed the offending 
appendage and twisted it until it was only millimetres from being broken.  Worf drew his phaser and aimed at Tom’s forehead.  Worf had not been fast enough to stop Tom from attacking the Commander but he wouldn’t let this vigilante harm him.  Tom saw the weapon and chuckled a bit and let go of the Commander’s hand.  He stared at the big Klingon like he was wearing his underwear on his head.  He obviously had never been in a place like this.  

Behind Tom every occupant of the bar had their weapon trained on Worf, Troi and Riker.

 “You shouldn’t have done that.” Tom said shaking his head “If I don’t kill you they will.”  Tom moved quickly and disarmed Worf.  “It’s time for you to leave, Commander.”  He recognized Riker’s face from reports that he had seen while still part of ‘fleet. Tom turned and walked away from them tossing the phaser to the man behind the bar.  Tom raised one gloved hand and the bar’s occupants put their weapons away and sat back down but many still watched the strangers.

 “Jay let’s go!” Tom called into one of the private rooms.  Jay quickly walked out and asked tom what was going on.  

From the other side of the bar Riker Troi and Worf watched Tom exchange a few words with the other man he called Jay.  They had talked for a short while when Jay looked over Tom’s shoulder and saw the trio.  The pair left the bar through a side exit. 

The Enterprise officers decided that it was time for them to leave and quickly made their way to the main exit.  At a table Captain Chakotay sat with Dalby watching the group of fleeters leave the bar.  They had hoped to approach Paris to ask for his help that night but when they saw the mood he was in they decided to leave him fearing a confrontation like the one they just witnessed.  They would have to ask him another time.  When that time would be they didn’t know.  It had taken them months of hard work to track him down and now they had lost their opportunity.

 “What did they want?” Jay asked as he put on his sunglasses and Tom followed suit.  It was the early evening but the sun wouldn’t set until much later and it was very bright out.

 “Information” he said “about the Mavericks.”  Jay started cracking up.

 “Suckers.  Little did they know they had the leader sitting right in front of them.”  Jay slapped Tom on the back smiling.  Tom smiled a bit himself.

Months later the Liberty was being chased by a Cardassian ship.  They were heading to the badlands to lose the Cardassian ship when they received a ghost transmission from NOVA.  

 “Chakotay what are you doing?” B’Elanna Torres asked from the Engineering 
station. Chakotay had changed course to take them away from the badlands.  

 “The message says not to go into the badlands.”

 “We need to get away from the Cardassians Chakotay!”  B’Elanna needlessly reminded him.  

 “If Paris is true to his word then we should be getting help anytime now.”  

A sleek ship dropped its stealth cloak and began firing a volley of phaser shots on the Cardassian vessel and a full spread of torpedoes.  It was enough to make the already partially damaged ship turn around and warp away.

 “We’re being hailed, audio only.” Tuvok said from his station.

 *NOVA to the Liberty*

 “Liberty, thanks for the assistance.” Chakotay said.

 *We’ll tractor you to the closest Maquis base so that you can get some repairs done.*  A tractor beam locked onto the Liberty causing it to shudder slightly.

 “We’ll send you the co-ordinates-” 

 *No need to.  I know where it is* the voice over the comm system said.

 “How-”  Chakotay began but was interrupted.

 *If you want you can beam over here and I’ll answer all your questions, within reason.*

 “We’ll be over as soon as we’ve secured our systems.”

 *NOVA out*

On the bridge of the NOVA Tom held both ships at all stop until they got the guest from the Liberty.  Locking the controls he got up from the helm and walked to the turbolift followed by Alec and Kerra.  They stopped at the weapons locker and armed themselves with disrupters.  They went to the transporter room and when they got the signal, beamed Chakotay and two others to the NOVA.  

When Chakotay, Torres and Tuvok materialized on the NOVA they were greeted by three disrupter rifles which all turned on Tuvok when they had fully materialized.

 “Paris what’s the meaning of this?”  Chakotay stepped off the transporter pad and approached Tom.  

 “You have a spy on your ship.  Guess who.” Tom said calmly, staring into the dark eyes of the Vulcan.  

 “Tuvok?  You can’t be serious.”

 “Lt. Tuvok actually.  Chief of Security under the command of Captain Kathryn Janeway.  Is that right Lieutenant?”  Tuvok remained silent.  Chakotay looked between the two for a moment before turning to Tuvok. 

 “Is that true Vulcan?” Chakotay asked, his anger bubbling to the surface.  Tuvok didn’t answer.  It was true.  An angry B’Elanna Torres was advancing on Tuvok but Chakotay stopped her seeing that no one else was going to.  

 “Kerra, Alec, escort him to the brig.”  Kerra and Alec left the transporter room taking the Vulcan with them.  Tom handed his disrupter to Alec on his way out and turned to his guests.

 “Sorry about that.”

 “Nothing to be sorry about.” Chakotay said extending his hand “Captain Paris.”  Tom shook his hand.  “This is my chief engineer.  B’Elanna Torres.”  Tom shook her hand and looked into her eyes, smiling slightly.

 “If you’ll follow me.”  Tom said walking to the door.

In the meeting room Tom answered Chakotay’s questions. “Ships have been disappearing in the badlands lately.  We were investigating and lost one of our probes too.  It was scanned by a coherent tetryon beam and then a huge displacement wave hit it and it was gone.  It wasn’t destroyed.  All our information tells us that it is still in tact but the question is where.”  He was showing them their data.  He had already answered how he knew Tuvok was a Starfleet spy and they had moved on from that issue.  Torres however hadn’t asked a single question.  They were joined by Jay and Kerra and Tom introduced them.  Jay took B’Elanna to see main engineering while Kerra went to take command of the bridge from Alec. That left Tom and Chakotay alone in the room.

 “The Maquis could use your help.” Chakotay said after a minute of silence.

 “I’m working on that.  You’ll be getting help soon enough.”  Tom stated

 “No, I mean your help specifically.  We’re short handed and need good pilots.  You also have knowledge of the federation that could be useful to us.”  Tom stayed silent and then turned away from him to shut down the monitor they were using.  “I hear that you’re the leader of the Mavericks.”

 “Oh yeah, says who?”

 “People.  People that I could get to talk about you anyway, which wasn’t many.  What did you do to keep everyone so quiet?”

 “They understand the need for secrecy.” Tom turned to face him.  “I would appreciate it if you didn’t spread that.”  Tom walked out of the meeting room.  Chakotay quickly followed.

 “Are you?” Chakotay asked.  Tom kept on walking and entered a turbolift.  Chakotay slipped in right before the doors slid shut.  “Are you Maverick?”  The entire gang was called the Mavericks and the members were called Mavericks or a Maverick but they called the leader ‘Maverick’.  Mostly because most of them didn’t know the leader’s identity.

 “Halt lift.” Tom ordered and turned to the older man to his left. “You’ve never given me a reason not to trust you.  Don’t start now.”  At Chakotay’s confused expression Tom elaborated. “I’ve been watching you longer than you’ve been watching me.  I’ll tell you this.  I am the leader of the Mavericks-Maverick as they’ve so lovingly dubbed me.  Be careful who you give that information to.” He turned away from Chakotay. “Computer, resume.” Tom ordered.  Chakotay was silent for a moment before he started a less controversial conversation about the origin of this ship.

They talked until they reached Engineering.  B’Elanna and Jay were talking non-stop.  

 “Having a good time?” Tom said smiling at the excited engineers shocking them for a moment.  They hadn’t heard anyone enter.

 “Tom! Jeez! Don’t do that!” Jay said with his hand over his heart.  Tom smiled a bit more.  You could rarely catch Jay off-guard unless he was working on something that had to do with engineering.  Torres stared at Tom for a little bit until she realized she was staring and averted her eyes, only to catch Chakotay’s glance. He raised and eyebrow and she looked away. 

Hours later they were nearing the Maquis base and Chakotay and B’Elanna were getting ready to return to the Liberty.  They would leave them just out of sensor range of the base so that the rest of the Maquis didn’t know that those on NOVA knew the location of the base.  B’Elanna and Chakotay stepped onto the transporter pad.

 “Chakotay,” Tom called “Watch out for Seska.” Tom said conveying his suspicions.  Chakotay nodded a little hesitantly. “Energize.” And they were gone.  Tom stared at the space on the tranporter padd that B’elanna had just recently vacated.  Tom shook himself out of his daze a turned to leave. 

 “She’s hot, huh?” Jay said to Tom with a smile.  Tom just rolled his eyes and walked past him.

The NOVA disengaged the tractor beam and warped away leaving the Liberty to limp the last short distance to the base.  NOVA went to a small planet just inside federation space and left Tuvok there.  They sent a transmission to the nearest Starfleet  base that one of theirs was on the planet and left Federation space.

Three weeks later the NOVA pulled into a Maquis base followed by a small fleet of ships.  In the past several months Tom had been working on expanding the Mavericks and mobilizing them.  Their numbers have tripled and those are only official members of the Mavericks and more were joining everyday.  The fleet was made up of several different types of ships.  Terillean, Klingon, Bolian, Ferengi, Federation, Bajoran and a few other species’ ships.  Tom and Kerra beamed down to the designated co-ordinates and were met by a group of Maquis who escorted them to see some of the leaders of the Maquis.  Chakotay was at the same base with B’Elanna and Seska meeting with the leaders of the Maquis as well.  The doors to the large conference room slid open and Tom and his group walked in.  Tom nodded to Chakotay and B’Elanna but glared at Seska.  They didn’t have solid evidence but they were pretty sure that Seska was a Cardie in disguise.  Chakotay’s group left while Tom’s met with the Maquis leaders.  The small fleet that they brought with them was being sent to a different base since this one didn’t have the facilities to house them.  Tom also told them to warn other Maquis bases that they would see small fleets of ships, like the one they came with, so not to attack them.  The last order of business was to tell them about Seska.

Tom walked out of the conference room with one of the Maquis officials and two security officers.  They went to the lounge were they believed Seska would be with B’Elanna and Chakotay.  And there she was, sitting with them at a small table talking with them.  Tom and the Maquis approached them.

 “Seska, would you mind taking a blood test.”  Tom said interrupting their conversation.  


 “Just to see that you are in actuality Bajoran and not a Cardassian in disguise.” Tom said neutrally.

 “I’m not doing anything.  I don’t care what you accuse me of being.”  Chakotay and B’Elanna stared at the group that just interrupted them and at Seska.  

 “Are you afraid that you might just turn out to be a Cardie?  Are you having an identity crisis?” he mocked.

 “Screw off Paris.”

 “Take the test and if you happen to actually be Bajoran, I’ll apologize until my throat hurts.”

 “Fine I’ll take your stupid test.” Seska consented.  She didn’t let it show but she was nervous.  Her heart was pounding inside her chest.  She hoped that her ‘friends’ had arrived.

The group now joined by three more walked to the infirmary to see their Doctor.  Before they got there, though, Seska saw her chance to escape.  She quickly ducked into a room and locked the door behind her and exited through the door on the other side of the room.  They tried to open the door but by the time they opened it she was long gone.  

 “Lock down all the exits.” The Maquis leader commanded the two security officers.

 “She’s not trying to escape.  She just has to wait.” Tom said reaching into a pocket of his trench-coat and took out a communications device.  “Paris to Kerra”

 “Kerra,” came the response.

 “Beam back to NOVA and start continuous scans for Cardassian ships: cloaked and uncloaked.”

 “Got it. Kerra out.”

 “I suggest you do the same.” Tom said to the Maquis.  Chakotay commed his ship and told them to start scanning and go on alert.  The Maquis leader ordered the same of his officers.  

 “How do you know that she contacted the Cardassians?” Chakotay asked.

 “If she wanted to escape she would have done it while I was in the meeting.  She knew that I though she was a Cardassian.  She’s waiting for something to go down and it’s coming.”  They began their search for Seska.  She moved through the base avoiding search parties and finally when time was up she stayed in the now deserted lounge looking out at the stars.  

Minutes later Tom and his group walked into the lounge weapons aimed at her. “It’s about time you got here.” She said taking something out of her pocket and activating it.  In the distance they could see at least five Cardassian ships de-cloak and the Maquis ships immediately engaged them in battle.  Many of the Maquis ships were caught off guard and were quickly incapacitated.  The Cardassians didn’t spend time destroying them.  Their target was inside the base.

 “They’ll be here soon.” Seska said matter-of-factly.  

 “Seska this won’t stop the Maquis.” Chakotay said.  Seska finally turned to the group.  “They’re not here to stop the Maquis.” She looked at Tom “Their here for Maverick.”  Tom didn’t show any emotion.  The others however, other than Chakotay, looked at Tom.  They didn’t know that he was Maverick.  They knew that he was most likely very high up in the ranks of the Mavericks, but the leader?  

 “Brilliant deduction Seska.” Tom said sarcastically with a cocky smile that he knew would infuriate her and he wasn’t wrong.

 “You won’t be so smug when they get here.” She said gesturing to the ships out side.  Just then a transporter beam deposited a group of Cardassian next to Seska.  

 “What perfect timing.” Tom said under his breath.  The numbers were now even.  “Looks like a stalemate Seska.” Tom said with a cocky smile.

 “Indeed.”  One of the officers signalled their ship and they were beamed out but not before Seska shot Tom in the shoulder.  The others fired at the disappearing figures but hit nothing but air.

 “Stupid whore!” Tom hissed gripping his shoulder.  The blood had already soaked the fabric around the wound and his hand.

 “You should go to the Infirmary.” B’Elanna suggested.

 “Not now.” He said reaching into his pocket for this communicator with his bloody but still working hand.  “Paris to NOVA one to beam up.” He was taken to this ship in a blue transporter beam.  B’Elanna and Chakotay beamed to the Liberty as well.
On NOVA Alec was at the helm while Kerra was at tactical.  A Terillean member of his crew was manning Ops.  Tom ignored the pain in his shoulder and took the helm from Alec who returned to Ops sending the Terillean to Engineering to help Jay keep the ship in one piece.  The Cardassians began focusing their shots on the NOVA to try and kill Maverick. Consoles on NOVA were exploding everywhere.  All escape routes had been blocked but Tom noticed the distance that the Cardassian were from the NOVA was very small.  The helm exploded in front of Tom throwing him out of his seat and imbedding pieces of the console into his torso.  A gash ran down the left side of his face but he had missed being burnt by the explosion.  Taking a quick look at the console he decided that he was lucky to have escaped that blast with so few injuries.  He picked himself off the deckplating.

 “Paris to All hands, abandon ship.  I repeat abandon ship.  Computer initiate self-destruct.  Authorization Paris-X-4.”

 “Secondary processors offline.  Unable to initiate self-destruct.”

 “Damn-nation!” Tom walked to Ops. “What are you two still doing here?  I thought I told you to abandon ship.” Tom said working at the station to manually set the self-destruct sequence.  

 “Tom-“ Kerra began.

 “Get off the ship Kerra,” Tom said looking into her eyes “Please.” He added 
softly.  She saw the resolution in his eyes and nodded.  She left for the transporter room to beam to one of the Maquis ships.  “That goes for you too, Alec.”  Tom said looking him in the eye.


 “Alec this isn’t the time!” Tom said going back to working on the self-destruct.  

 “If you die then they win!” 

 “Someone has to manually initiate the warpcore overload.  After that happens you won’t be able to leave. I suggest you go now.”

 “I’ll do it!” Alec yelled at him.

 “No you won’t.  Alec leave. You are not going to die here.”

 “You can’t decide when I die Tom!  You don’t have to protect me.”

 “Yes I do!”

 “I never asked you to!”

 “You didn’t have to Alec.” Tom said quietly finishing the sequence.  All he had to do now was get Alec off the ship and blow up NOVA. “Alec-” CRACK!  Alec punched Tom knocking him to the ground.  His head was spinning as he tried to get up.  He had lost a lot of blood and even that simple task seemed impossible.  Alec kneeled next to him.

 “I’m sorry Tom but I can’t let you do this.”

 “Alec don’t-” Tom said weakly.

 “I have to Tom.  I won’t let you die here.” He said sadly

 “Alec, please don’t.” Tom pleaded with him.  Alec smiled a soft, sad smile and kissed Tom on the forehead.

 “Thank you Tom.” Tears stung his eyes.  He looked at the man that had become his brother for the last time.  

“Alec, stop.” Tom tried in desperation to get up.  He had protected Alec for a long time and he would not let him through his life away.  Alec went back to the console and after one last sad smile to Tom, beamed him to the closest ship, which happened to be the Liberty.  After looking at the ships on the viewscreen he looked to the button that would end this battle.  Just one touch and it would all be over.

On the bridge of the liberty Tom Paris’ form materialized.  Chakotay left the conn in the hands of another officer and helped Tom up.
“Alec?” Tom asked looking around. “Damn it! No!  I need to get back to Alec.”  Tom said trying to get to a console to beam himself back.  Just then a bright flash illuminated the black space and the NOVA was destroyed taking the Cardassian ships with it.  The shockwave hit the Liberty hard.  Tom stared at the screen where NOVA once was.  Where Alec once was.  He backed up until he hit a wall.  No! His mind screamed but nothing showed on his face.  He placed a hand on his chest and felt the blood their but strangely he felt no pain.  He was getting very dizzy and the room was spinning.  He could vaguely make out Chakotay approaching him.  He could hear jumbled words asking him if was okay.  Tom slid down against the wall leaving a streak of blood on the wall.  

Chakotay realised that Tom was in shock.  He was still bleeding from his shoulder and was loosing more blood from the wounds in his chest.  He noticed however that Tom had paled when the NOVA exploded.  Alec.  That’s why.   Chakotay approached Tom and asked him if he was okay.  He didn’t get a response and Tom slid to the floor.  He asked again.  Tom looked at the blood on his hand and managed to mumble:

 “I think I need to go to the infirmary.”  Chakotay nodded.  He turned and asked B’Elanna if they could transport him to their sickbay but she told him that transporters were down.  Chakotay draped Tom’s arm around his neck and helped Tom stand so that he could get him to Sickbay.  B’Elanna got up from her station and helped.  She draped Tom’s other arm over her.  Being very careful since that was the injured shoulder.  She was surprised when he didn’t react to the pain that must have come from moving the arm.  The three left the bridge for Sickbay.

In sickbay, Chakotay and B’Elanna were talking to their medic.  Well Chakotay was talking to him, B’Elanna was staring off into space in the general direction of Tom’s biobed.

 “I’ve sedated him and treated the wounds the best I can with what we have but I can’t do much about the punctured lung.  I’ve stopped the bleeding but he still lost a lot of blood.  I’m surprised he was still conscious when you brought him in.  We should beam him to the base.  They have better facilities there and a real doctor.” He suggested to Chakotay.  Chakotay turned to B’Elanna.

 “B’Elanna,” she didn’t respond “B’Elanna!” she finally looked at Chakotay “I need you to get transporters on-line.”  She nodded and after one quick glance to the man in the biobed, left sickbay.

Hours later Tom was waking up.  He opened his eyes and the bright lights of the infirmary caused him to close them again.  He opened them more slowly and allowed his eyes to adjust to the bright lights.  He saw a form hovering over him.  He didn’t recognize the man above him.  He was Bolian and was running a tricorder over him so Tom guessed that he was a doctor.  The Bolian moved back from the bed and let some of the visitors approach.  Tom recognized the form above him now.  It was Kerra who was soon joined by Jay.

 “Hi.” Kerra said with a soft smile.  It was good to see that he was all right.

 “Hi.” Tom responded weakly.  He tried to get up but Jay and Kerra pushed him back down.  Tom glared at them a bit.  He didn’t feel like lying down.  

 “Tom you need to rest.” Jay said

 “I know what I need.” Tom said trying to get up again but they held him down. “If I didn’t feel so weak I would be out of here.” Tom said as he relaxed seeing that they weren’t going to let him go anywhere.

 “Don’t we know it.” Kerra said smiling.  Tom however remained emotionless.  “Tom don’t do this to yourself.  It’s not your fault.”  Tom just closed his eyes remembering his last moments with Alec.  “Don’t retreat into yourself.  Let us be there for you.  He made the decision Tom.”

 “It wasn’t his to make.” Tom countered quietly.  Kerra leaned over and held his face in her hands to make him look at her. 

“We are all going to miss him Tom, but don’t stop living Tom.  Don’t stop feeling.”  Tears began to fall to her cheeks.  Tom raised a weak hand and wiped them away.  

 “I’m sorry.” He said simply.

 “Don’t be.” She whispered and kissed him on the forehead.

They talked to Tom for a little bit and told him that they would be leaving the next day to go start their service on other ships that needed them.  They didn’t want to leave Tom but they didn’t have a choice.  They left Tom telling him to get some rest and that they would keep in touch.  Chakotay visited Tom briefly but B’Elanna opted for waiting in the corridor.  Chakotay was going to talk to that girl.
On the Liberty B’Elanna was in Engineering trying to keep their heap in one piece.  Her thoughts were divided, however, between Paris and her ship.  She was attracted to him but to what extent she wasn’t sure and she wasn’t sure whether he had any feelings for her either.  Paris and Kerra also seemed very close but she couldn’t be sure how close.

Kerra walked into Engineering looking for the chief engineer.  She spotted her working at a console so she went to her.

 “B’Elanna.” She called her

 “Kerra,” B’Elanna said, slightly startled “What can I help you with.”

 “Tom.” Kerra responded. “He and Alec were like brothers and Tom has taken care of him for the last ten years.  Alec was a big piece of him and I’m worried that he won’t bounce back from this like he usually does.”

 “How am I supposed to help?” she asked indignantly.  Kerra smiled a little.

 “I’ve seen how you look at him.  I know because I used to look at him the same way but we’re just friends.  I know you like him because he likes you too, he just doesn’t show it.  After you’ve been around him as long as I have, you learn to read him even through the mask he wears.”  B’Elanna was quiet.  Was she that obvious? Yes. “All you have to do is be there for him.  He’ll push you away but persistence pays off.  If you can stand him in the mood he’ll be for the next little while, then you can handle him in any of his moods.”  She said smiling slightly. “Good luck with everything.” Kerra turned and left.  She felt that she had to talk to B’Elanna about Tom.  

The next day Chakotay and B’Elanna went to see Tom in the Infirmary.  When they got there though they didn’t see him.  Talking to the Doctor’s assistant she said that Tom wouldn’t stay in Sickbay and had gone to the gym.  They went to the gym and sure enough there was Tom beating the hell out of a punching bag.

 “You’re supposed to be resting.” Chakotay said neutrally.

 “I don’t… feel like…resting.” Tom huffed between punched.

 “I know the Doctor said that you would need to work with your arm to get full movement out of it again but I don’t think this is what he had in mind.”  Chakotay said in the same tone.  Tom stopped his assault on the poor punching bag.  He rubbed the shoulder with his good hand.  

 “I think I know why too.” Tom said.  His shoulder was aching more, but he didn’t 
feel like stopping. B’Elanna was about to say something when her communicator went off.  She was needed in Engineering.  She left the two alone and beamed back to the Liberty.  Tom looked at the space that B’Elanna occupied a moment ago before he turned his back to Chakotay to take a drink from his water bottle.  Chakotay saw a scar on Tom’s back, near his shoulder, that wasn’t completely cover by the tank top that he wore.
“Couldn’t the Doctor heal that?” Chakotay asked looking at the mark.  Chakotay thought that it was from when Seska shot him but it looked more like he was cut by a blade than a phaser burn.

 “It’s a little late to heal that.”

 “It’s not from the phaser burn, is it.” Chakotay stepped closer.

 “No.  It’s not.”  Tom said walking back to the punching bag.

 “Then were did you get it?” Chakotay asked him.

 “Does it really matter?” Tom said as he started punching again.  Chakotay watched for a moment.  Tom was a fighter in every meaning of the word.

 “It looks like a scar from a laser rod.”  Chakotay said making an observation.  Tom turned around and looked at him letting his annoyance show.

 “And how would you know?”  Chakotay rolled up this left sleeve and above his elbow was an identical scar but slightly fainter against Chakotay’s darker skin.  Tom turned back to the punching bag.  

 “Why won’t you tell me where you got the scar.  I thought you trusted me.  I didn’t tell Seska that you were Maverick.”

 “I know that.  She found out herself.” He turned to Chakotay “The Admiral.”

 “Admiral Paris? Why would he do that to you?”

 Tom snorted “Why don’t you ask him?  I think it was part of my ‘training’.”  Tom picked up his T-shirt and pulled it over his head.  He didn’t know why he was telling Chakotay all this, except to get the man off his case. “I’m outta here.” Tom began walking to the exit.

 “Where are you going to go?” Tom rubbed his eyes with one hand.

 “I don’t know but wherever it is it won’t be the Infirmary.”  Tom said.

 “Why don’t you come to the Liberty.  We could use you at tactical.”  Chakotay had meant to ask Tom to join his crew earlier but never got around to it.  He knew that Tom preferred the helm but he had seen Tom at work and he had some talent for strategic planning so he would be very useful at that position.  They also needed someone to fill that position.  They hadn’t the time to get someone to take Tuvok’s place.  

 “Sure.” Tom shrugged “I’ve got nothing better to do.”

A week later on the Liberty
Tom was in his quarters lying on the bed and staring at the ceiling.  He had been doing a lot of that lately.  He had memorized the ceiling, not that the there was much to memorize of the brownish-grey ceiling.  He checked the chrono: 1407.  He had to get to the mess before it closed.  It was the only place on the ship with working replicators.  He got up and left his quarters.  

He walked through the dull hallways of the ship.  He hadn’t donned his usual trenchcoat but he still wore the gloves.  They were on a simple mission. Take some ‘supplies’ to a small planet.  It was their mission since the Cardassian attack.  They had been busy making repairs.  It kept Tom occupied though, but now that they had finished he had nothing much to do.  They weren’t expecting any trouble so there wasn’t much for a tactical officer to do.  He entered the mess where other crewmembers were eating their lunches.  He replicated something simple and sat at an empty table.  

At another table three other crewmembers watched Tom as he entered the crew’s mess and sat down with a plate of food.  “Cute, isn’t he?” One woman commented.

 “Very.” Another agreed.  The third woman was silent.

 “No comment B’Elanna?” Eva asked.  Eva worked at Ops.  She was a human with strawberry blonde hair and considered very attractive by most men.  She was also the ships biggest flirt and it seemed she had just spotted her next target.


 “No, no comment or no, not no comment?  Help me out here.” Mariah Henley said to B’Elanna.  

 “No, no comment.” She clarified slightly annoyed.  Mariah and Eva shrugged.  Since Tom had arrived on board everybody had been talking about him.  They had all heard stories from someone on some planet or at some space station about Tom and his crew.  It was a topic of great debate which stories were true.

Tom finished his meal and left without a word to anybody.  He was going to go back to his quarters but he decided to do a bit of work he went to engineering and called up some systems schematics for the liberty.  This didn’t have any cloak.  Tom thought that he could help out and try to give the Liberty the same stealth shielding that NOVA had.  But first he had to check that it would be compatible with this ship.  He was engrossed in his work that he didn’t hear B’Elanna walk up to him.

 “Do you need help with something?” She asked.  Tom quickly turned around.

 “No, thanks.  I was just looking at something.”  He replied. “Actually maybe you could help me.” He changed his mind.  She knew this ship better than anybody.  “Have you ever tried using a cloaking device on the Liberty?”

 “We’ve tried but the power that it required was too much for this old heap to handle.”

 “I though it would be.” Tom said looking at the schematic.  He closed it a minute later. “Thanks for your help.” He left Engineering.  B’Elanna watched him leave. She wasn’t quite sure what to say when she was around him.  

 “I don’t know,” Chakotay said uncertainly.  He was sitting in his small quarters listening to Tom.  

 “They’ll be able to refit the Liberty with a newer engine and fusion generator.”

 “It two days out of our way and who knows how long it will take for the refit.”

 “With the Liberty crew helping it should take only four or five days.  With the new generator we’d be able to install some stealth onto the ship.”  Chakotay thought about it for a while.  

 “It sounds like a good deal.  We could use the stealth technology.  We’ll set a course after we’ve reached our destination.” Tom nodded and was about to leave when Chakotay called him back

 “Do you want to be part of the landing party when we get to the Meriah System?  I figured that you could use a change of scenery.  The Maquis isn’t quite like the Mavericks.”

 Tom nodded. “Sure. Thanks.”

A day later Tom was part of the landing party that consisted of himself, Chakotay, B’Elanna, Ayala and Chell.  They spent just a little over an hour meeting with some people and organizing where the supplies would be transported.  When they were done they were given some free time to look around the city.  Tom went out alone, against Chakotay’s suggestion that someone should go with him.  

He walked through the damp streets and the cool air brushed his face.  There was a chill in the air that day.  The winter season was coming and this place was going to be hit hard.  There were only a few people walking the streets.  Some people passed by in Hover car but the place was mostly deserted.  As he passed by a dark and narrow alley he heard soft crying.  

B’Elanna left a parts shop empty handed.  She was hoping that she would be able to find what they need for the Liberty but the store was as desolate as the streets.  She was walking to another shop that she hoped would have some useful part when she saw Tom Paris crouched in front of a dark alley talking into the darkness.  B’Elanna was curious as to who or what he was talking to so she walked over to him. 

 “Are you going to come out now?” Tom asked softly.  No response.  He sighed and hung his head.  She wasn’t being very cooperative but she probably had her reasons, Tom thought to himself.  God only knows what she’s been through.  He saw a shadow and looked up to see the form of B’Elanna Torres.

 “Hey.” He greeted tiredly.  He didn’t know what to do to get the girl to come out of the alley.  

 “Hey.” B’Elanna responded.  “What are you doing?”

 “Trying to get the young lady out of the alley.” he said looking back at the little form in the shadows.  B’Elanna looked and after a moment she saw the small form as well.

 “Who is she?” A little voice asked.

 “This is B’Elanna.  She’s a friend.” Tom explained. 

 “Do you have other friends?” she asked

 “Yes. And if you come out of their you cam meet some of them.”  There was silence for a while.  Then some rustling was heard and a little girl dressed in dull brown clothes walked out holding a dirty stuffed animal. Tom looked at the little girls face.  She was Bajoran and had dark brow hair.  Her eye’s were a dull grey and Tom’s heart constricted. He knew this girl.  He recognized her from when he had come here before on NOVA.  She couldn’t recognize him though.  She was blind.

 “Nira, it’s Tommy.  Do you remember me?” he asked hopefully.

 “Tommy?” she said as she remembered him.  She ran following the sound of his 
voice.  She ran into Tom’s welcoming arms and started crying on his shoulder.  Tom held and comforted her while she cried. What had happened here?  He picked her up.  

 “I’m going to see some friends if you’re still looking for some spare parts you can come with me.  I’m sure they’ll have what you’re looking for.” B’Elanna nodded.  She had watched the exchange between him and Nira.  She too had recognized that the girl had been blinded by something.  

Tom led the way to a largish building.  Entering, the people there immediately recognized him and came to greet him.  “Tom, long time.” A man walked up to him and patted him on the shoulder.

 “Dean, How did the generator work?” Tom asked the human man, following up on some old business.

 “Perfectly.” He smiled.

 “Where’s your doctor?  He has a new patient.” Tom nodded to the girl in his arms.  Her face was buried in Tom’s neck. 

 “You mean she.”  Dean sent someone to get their Doctor from the back.


 “Yep Suray left a couple of weeks ago.”


 “I don’t know? He just upped and left.  Who is this?” Dean said to B’Elanna.  He looked her up and down and leered at her.  Tom moaned inside.  Sometimes Dean only thought with his penis.

 “This is The Liberty’s Chief Engineer.  I was hoping that she could find the parts that she needed for the ship here.” Tom said resisting the urge to knock some sense into him.  

 “I’m sure we can help her out.” Dean smiled. He was hoping to help himself too.  Tom saw whom he assumed to be the new Doctor walk out from a back room and began to make his way over to her.  As he passed by Dean he said quietly:

 “Out of your league.”   Dean huffed and proceeded to show B’Elanna to another room where they stored spare parts.  Tom knew B’Elanna could take care of herself so he didn’t worry about her.  He worried more for Dean’s health.  

A few minutes later Nira was laying on a cot in a private room while Tom entertained her with some of his many jokes.  Jokes suitable for children that is.  The ones that his sisters used to tell him when he was small.  He thought that they were hilarious back then and Nira seemed to agree.  The child was giggling at the jokes.  B’Elanna walked over to the private room after exiting the room where the parts were stored.  Dean exited a moment later sporting a bruise that was becoming a black eye.  B’Elanna made her way to the private room where she was told Tom was with the child.  She watched from the door as he interacted with her.  B’Elanna thought that the jokes were very…stupid but Nira thought that they were funny.  The Doctor approached B’Elanna and introduced herself.  The Doctor gave B’Elanna the grim news about the child condition.  She was still working up the courage to tell Tom.  Tom noticed that the Doc and B’Elanna were standing at the door and turned to them, smiling broadly.  It was the first time that B’Elanna had seen a full smile on Tom and she couldn’t take her eyes off him.

 “What’s the prognosis doc?” Tom asked.  He saw the expression on both their faces and knew that it was bad and his smile faded.  The Doctor motioned for him to come towards them. He told Nira that he would be a few meters away and joined B’Elanna and the Doctor at the door.  “What is it?”

 The Doctor took a breath. “Recently there was some sort of virus going around that targeted children.  Several children died but we found that we could stop its effects if we diagnosis it early.  But cases that have progressed too far are…incurable.” 

 “Cases like Nira’s.” Tom inferred.

 “Yes.” She said sadly.  Tom closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

 “There is nothing that you can do for her?” 

 “I’m sorry,” The Doctor said quietly.  “The best we can do is make her passing as quick and painless as possible.”

 “Euthanasia?” Tom said slightly outraged.

 “It’s the least painful way for her.  The final stages of the virus have already begun with the deterioration of the optic nerves and it will get much worse.  She’ll suffer from intense, and painful muscle spasms, vomit up blood as her internal organs rupture, and at the end, she’ll suffer from several seizures until her body can’t take it and she dies.” The doctor said with clinical detachment.  He understood Tom’s reaction but she had seen so many cases like Nira’s it didn’t seem to have the same effect on her as it once did.  Tom looked at the Doctor for a little while before turning to look at the young girl on the bed. “I’ll get the hypospary.” The Doctor said as she was about to leave the room.

 “No.” Tom quickly turned back to the Doctor.  “You can’t just end her life.  We can find another way to help her…” Tom said as he tried to find another alternative.  The Doctor sighed and stepped up to Tom.  

 “There is no other way.”  She said looking up into his eyes.  She saw the fury and helplessness in his eyes.  He averted his eyes unable to stand her gaze mostly because he knew she was right.

 “The Federation might have some technology that you don’t have.  We could take her there and they could help her.”  Tom proposed.  He knew that this small planet wouldn’t have the latest advancements in medical technologies.  The Doctor shook her head.

 “She would never make it there in time.  She only has a few hours left.”  It would take days to reach Federation space.

 “You can’t just kill her.”

 “I don’t have any other option!” The Doctor was tired of this. “Unless you are her 
legal parent or guardian, which I knows you are not, I have the final say!” she said heatedly.  Nira’s parents were long dead and they both knew it.  Tom looked at the woman before him.  As the doctor, she knew best.  He looked at the floor.  The Doctor left to get the required drug.  

B’Elanna looked at Tom for a moment before she approached him.  She didn’t know what to say.  She placed a hand on his shoulder.  He didn’t move; lost in his own tumultuous thoughts.  

A Strangled whimper from the bed brought their attention back to Nira.  On the bed she lay with her entire body tense.  Her unseeing eyes wide open in pain and shock.  Her small hands gripped at the fabric of the cot.  Her back arched up and she stopped breathing.  Her mouth was open as if to scream but no sound came out.  Tom and B’Elanna were immediately at her side.  They couldn’t do anything to help her.  Only be there for her when the spasm passed.  After a few seconds she collapsed to the cot and began to cry.  Tom gathered her in his arms as she cried.  He rocked her back and forth comforting her.  Her breathing was coming in gasps as her body cried out for oxygen.  B’Elanna stroked her back offering what comfort she could.  The Doctor walked in and saw them.  She sighed again.  She had seen to many scenes like this.  She walked over to the side of the cot that B’Elanna was on.  

B’Elanna saw her coming since she was facing the door, and got up from the side of the bed.  Tom saw the hypo in her hand.  He gently lay Nira on the cot.  She clung to his hand and asked him not to leave her.  “I won’t.” Tom choked out.  She calmed a little.  

 “I have to Tom.  It will only get worse.” The doctor said quietly over the child.  Tom nodded not taking his eyes off Nira’s young face.  He couldn’t meet her eyes.  The Doctor pressed the hypo to Nira’s neck and they each heard the tell tale hiss as the sub-dermal transfer was completed.  

 “What… was that?” Nira whispered into the silence of the room.

 “It will stop the pain.” Tom said to her trying to re-assure her but his voice wavered slightly.  The Doctor stood and backed away from the cot.  Tom still held her hand but Nira’s grip had eased up.  Silence reined over the room for a little while.  Only the shallow laboured breathing of the dying girl were heard.

 “I feel tired.”  Nira said as her eyes began to droop.  Her breathing and heart rate were slowing.  Tom kissed the back of her hand and held it in both of his.  

 “It’s alright Nira.  Sleep.” He said softly.  Her eyes slowly closed.  Her breathing became shallower and then it stopped.  Tom watched as the last weak breath passed her lips. The temperature seemed to drops several degrees and the death filled the room.  The light pressure on his hand stopped and Nira lay perfectly still.  She was dead.  

Tom closed his eyes and bowed his head offering a small Bajoran prayer.  His hands that still held Nira’s hand rested against his forehead.

A few tears fell down the Doctor’s cheeks.  She wasn’t as desensitized as she thought.  She walked passed Nira’s deceased form and briefly placed a hand on Tom’s back before she left the room.  It was too much for her.  

B’Elanna watched as Nira departed. Her eyes welled up with tears that she wouldn’t allow to fall.  She watched Tom.  His face didn’t portray the raging grief within him.  He had just lost two people that were very special to him.  Her hands were clinched at her sides.  She barely noticed the doctor leave.

A few minutes later Tom put Nira’s hand down next to her body.  He took the bed sheet that was folded at the bottom corner of the bed and draped it over her lifeless body.  At her neck he paused and kneeled again.  He took a good last look at her face before he covered her completely with the sheet.  

He paused and gathered himself before he stood, still looking at the form on the bed.  He looked up into B’Elanna’s eyes that held sorrow.  He looked away and walked to the door.  He paused at the door frame steeling himself before he stepped out.  B’Elanna followed him.  Tom finished his business with Dean who now had a full black eye.  Tom didn’t even notice.  He left the building with B’Elanna to go back to the Liberty.  

Dean watched them leave.  His thoughts weren’t occupied with the pretty engineer though.  Instead he worried about Tom.  He had been very subdued and quiet, not even commenting on his black eye.  He stared at the doors for a minute after they left and then looked over to the Doctor that sat alone.  She also seemed very disturbed.  Dean walked into the room where the three had left.  One look inside told him what had happened.

The walk back to the Liberty beam out point was long (or so it seemed) and quiet.  Tom would usually try to make some sort of small talk but his heart wasn’t in it.  B’Elanna was silent as well but she had never talked easily to Tom.  She looked over at him.  He seemed calm outwardly but his eyes seemed to show a raging storm within him.  They beamed up to the Liberty.  Tom exited the transporter room without a second glance to the young man at the transporter controls.  B’Elanna nodded to Gerron and followed Tom.  

 “I know the way to my quarters.” Tom stated not looking at B’Elanna.  

 “I know but I want to make sure that you’re okay.”

 “I’m fine.” Tom said flatly.  The rest of the journey was made in silence.  At the door to Tom’s quarters he turned to B’Elanna. “I told you I knew the way.”   She just nodded.  Tom waited for her to say something but he didn’t think she was going to so he walked into his room.  Before he was all the way in she called out his name and he stopped but didn’t face her.

 “I’m here if you need me.” She said sincerely.  Tom faced her and after a moment he smiled ever so slightly and nodded.  The smile didn’t reach his eyes but it was a start.  He entered his room and the doors closed leaving B’Elanna alone in the hallway.  She took a deep breath.  She still had to report to Chakotay about the things she gotten.  She headed to Chakotay’s quarters.

In his quarters Tom stood in the middle of the small area and looked around.  The place was pretty much empty.  He felt a little tired but he didn’t want to sleep.  He wouldn’t be able to anyway.  Not the way he was feeling right now.  He collapsed onto his bed.  What he wouldn’t give for this little ship to have a gym or holodeck.  Any place that he could work off this rage.  He was angry at himself.  That’s one more to add on to the other four.  He should have been able to help her.  His mind was screaming at him.  He should have been able to do something…anything.  She shouldn’t have died.  He shouldn’t have died; not for him.  They shouldn’t have died; not for the Federation.  Five.  Five people he should have been able to save.  Somehow he should have been able to help them…but he failed them all.

B’Elanna walked into Chakotay’s quarters.  He had just finished a vision quest and was packing up his akoonah.  They settled into two chairs and Chakotay asked how her scavenger hunt went.  She began relating the trip and what had happened to the little Bajoran girl and how it affected Tom.  Chakotay listened imagining how he would have felt if that had happened to him.  He knew about Tom’s unhealthy habit of locking away his emotions and not talking about anything.  He had tried on numerous occasions to talk to Tom when he thought that something was bothering him but Tom politely refused every time.  Chakotay sighed he was worried about Tom.  His past just didn’t add up and there was a lot about him that nobody knew.  He has several ill feelings towards Starfleet and the Federation.  There were two things that Chakotay was particularly interested in: Tom’s relationship with his father and Caldik Prime.

Chakotay said that he would try and talk to Tom.  B’Elanna said she would try the same thing and was getting up to leave when Chakotay made a comment. “What?” B’Elanna turned to him slightly angry.

 “You like him don’t you.” Chakotay observed.  B’Elanna was quiet.  She sat back in the chair she had just vacated.  “I thought so.  In fact I thought so for a while.”  B’Elanna snorted indignantly.

 “So now I’m transparent.” She huffed.  Chakotay tried to keep the amusement out of his voice.

 “Only a little.” That earned him a glare.  “I noticed when we were first on NOVA.”

 “Do you always meddle in affairs that are none of your business?” B’Elanna asked, still glaring a bit at him.  Most people don’t speak to their commanding officers like that but this was the Maquis and they were close friends.  Chakotay just laughed a bit which caused B’Elanna to glare more at him.

 “B’Elanna, I’m not meddling in your affairs.  I just thought that if you admitted it to yourself then maybe you would finally make a move instead of staring at him all the time.”

 “I don’t think that he’s interested in a relationship right now.”

 “Possibly, but he could use a good friend.”  

At Starfleet Command Captain Janeway walked into the office of Admiral Hayes.  He briefed her on her mission to the Badlands to find the Maquis ship commanded by Chakotay, a former Starfleet officer.  He also told her about Voyager.  The third Intrepid Class Starship built and the most advanced.  He also told her about her crew specifically Ensign Harry Kim, her new Operations officer, fresh out of Starfleet.  As part of her Senior Staff she had to know a about him.  It was his first mission so she was going to be dealing with a rookie.  

Janeway left Hayes office for Starfleet medical were Tuvok was getting a full check-up.  She found him sitting on a biobed while a doctor waved a tricorder over him.  She smiled at him and he nodded to her in a typical Vulcan fashion.  They had recently found him on a small planet just inside the Federation boundaries near the badlands.  

Tuvok had no recollection of how he got there.  He had been given some sort of drug that wiped out the short-term memory before it could be stored as long term.  It was used in the Federation as well, when it was better for someone to forget a traumatic experience like torture or something of that nature.  Depending on how much is given the time index varies.  The amount given to Tuvok was only enough to block out the time when he was caught and when he was left on the planet.  The last thing he remembers before waking up on the planet was being in a battle on the Maquis vessel.  He doesn’t know how he was caught.

The doctor confirmed the there would not be any complications from the drug that he was given and told Tuvok to get some rest but he was free to go.  Janeway approached him.  “How are you Tuvok?” she asked smiling at her long-time friend.


 “I talked to your wife.  She’s worried about you.”

 “You misinterpreted.  Vulcans do not worry.” Tuvok corrected her.

 “She misses you.” Tuvok was silent for a moment.

 “As I do her.”  That’s the closest she’ll probably get to Tuvok admitting any feelings.  She placed her hand on his shoulder.  She was grateful, to whoever discovered that Tuvok was a Starfleet spy, that they didn’t kill him.  She talked with him and suggested that he contact Vulcan and talk to his family.  And maybe pay them a little visit. They still had sometime before they would depart on the two week mission.  Tuvok left for Vulcan that same day.

Mean while, near the Terikof belt the Liberty was docked at a space station.  It was a Maverick Station and Tom had been there before.  He met with the Chief Engineer of the Station who recognized him as Maverick and made the arrangements for the refit of the Liberty.  The Engineer, Dale was the name the Benzite went by, showed Tom to a private hanger.  Inside was a starship.  A smaller than NOVA but it was a beautiful design. In fact it was a familiar design too.  “You know those specs you sent me.” When Tom nodded he continued. “Well you had some other files on the padd and I found this little beauty among them.  You seem to have forgotten it on there.”

 “I was wondering where that went.  Those specs weren’t even finished.”

 “Yeah, I had to take a few liberties when I made the ship but other than a few improvements.  It’s the same one that you designed.”  Tom smiled and walked up to the ship.  It had smooth lines and was a light grey almost silver in colour.  

 “What have you named it?” Tom asked.

 “I thought I’d leave that for you to do, since she’s your ship.” Tom paused and looked at Dale.

 “I can’t accept this.” Tom said.  

 “Tom you’ve done a lot for me and my family.  Think of this as payment.”

 “I don’t need payment.  I’d do it again if I had to.” Tom said walking away from the ship.  Dale stopped him.

 “Tom I made her for you.  After I heard about what happened to NOVA I figured that you would need a new ship to command.  I stepped up production and it was done in record time.  I know that you don’t need or want payment, so think of this as a thank you gift.”  Tom sighed and looked back at he ship.

 “I don’t even have a crew to help run it.” Tom said. As much as he would love to fly that ship he couldn’t.

 “I’m sure that there are several Mavericks that would gladly join your crew.” Dale informed him.  The Mavericks were very dedicated and would not turn down an opportunity to go out into deep space and help with the fight.  

 “I’m part of another crew now though.  I’m a tactical officer-” Tom began to explain but stopped when Dale started laughing.  “What’s so funny?”

 “You…a tactical officer.  Your Captain must have a few screws loose.”

 “You better watch what you say about my Captain.” Tom warned half, joking half not.

 “I’m sorry.” Dale said trying to control his laughter, “but you……a tactical officer.” And he started laughing again.  Tom rolled his eyes.  “I’m sorry.  Look I know that your good with strategies and stuff but you’d be a greater asset to the ship at the helm, instead of whatever dummy they have there right now.”  Dale said not knowing that he had once again insulted the Captain of the Liberty.  

 “I think that he’s worried that I’ll do something that would kill everybody.”  Dale sobered when he heard the reference to the accident on Caldik Prime.  He didn’t know the whole story but he found it hard to believe that Tom would have caused an accident that killed three people and then lied about it.  That was the general thought in the minds of those who knew Tom but since he never talked about Caldik they never got any answers.

 “They haven’t seen real flying until they’ve seen you at the helm.  See your true talents are not being put to good use on that ship.” Tom was about to say something but Dale cut him off.  “You’ve only been on that ship for a couple of weeks.  It’s not too late to leave and command another ship.  Just think about it.  You’re free to look through the ship and take her out for a test run if you’d like.” Dale left the hanger.  Tom studied the ship before him for a few minutes and then left.  He had to help with the refit.

Several hours later Tom Paris was crawling through the bowels of the Liberty via the maintenance shaft.  The small space didn’t provide much comfort for his tall frame.  He was in awkward position trying to remove an old relay to replace it with the newer better ones.  There was a lot of noise around him as other components of larger systems were being ripped out and replaced.  He didn’t here B’Elanna calling to him from the shafts opening.  

She had called his name several times and he hadn’t heard anything.  She sighed and climbed into the shaft.  She was supposed to relieve him to take a break.  He had been working for at least seven hours without a break.  When she was half way to him he still hadn’t heard her.  His attention was on the task he was doing.  Just as he finished putting in the relay B’Elanna called his name again.  Tom quickly turned to see who was calling and in the process he hit his head on a metal bar.  Tom rubbed his head and more slowly turned to see who was calling him.  B’Elanna was trying not to laugh.  “It wouldn’t be so funny if you were on this end.” He grumbled.  

 “Sorry,” she said, still trying to hold back her laughter, “I just came to tell you take a break.  Get something to eat.  The ships not going anywhere.”

A few minutes later Tom and B’Elanna were exiting the shaft into the corridor.  Tom was going to get something to eat and B’Elanna was…well she wasn’t planning on doing anything.  She had been working just as long as Tom was.  Chakotay had ordered her to take a break and to take Tom with her.  They were walking through the corridor towards the airlock so that they could get something to eat on the space station.  When they exited the airlock, they both hesitated.  B’Elanna went left to find somewhere to eat.  She had hoped to eat with Tom but-

 “B’Elanna!” Tom called to her.  She turned a round and Tom jogged a few steps to catch up to her.  “I was wondering if you’d like to join me for lunch or dinner, whatever meal where eating.”  

 “Sure.” B’Elanna consented.  Tom smiled.

 “I know of this place that serves some great food…”

Tom and B’Elanna came back to the Liberty laughing.  They had both had a good time during their meal.  Tom had taken her to a place on the station where the Mavericks usually ate so the food was a little better than it would have usually been.  They walked through the corridors of the ship heading towards engineering to get back to work.  Tom was listening to B’Elanna talk about one of her more amusing adventures in the Maquis.  Suddenly Chakotay’s voice was heard over the comm telling them to come to his office.  They both looked at each other wondering what was going on, both thinking that there was something going wrong with the refit.  They entered Chakotay’s small office that was near the bridge.  “We have a problem.” Chakotay stated when the doors had closed behind them.  Ckakotay was sitting behind his desk leaning back in his chair looking at the two of them. “There’s an outbreak of some sort of disease at a small colony.  We think that the Cardassians dropped some sort of biological weapon.  The disease may have a cure, however, that cure is deep within federation space.  On Earth to be exact.  We need to get that cure.  Where the closest Maquis cell to the Federation that has a chance of getting in and out.  The problem is that the Liberty won’t be ready in time to get it.  Four days is too long to wait.”  He looked directly at Tom “Your friend Dale says that he has your new ship.  I was hoping that we could take that and go into the Federation.  Since it’s never been used before, they won’t be looking for it.” Tom nodded after a moment.  “Good.  The three of us will be going.  I’ll leave the refit in the hands of Ayala and Dale.  We leave in an hour.”  Tom and B’Elanna left the office.  They were both silent for a while until B’Elanna broke the silence.

 “Were you going to leave?” She asked him.

 “No.  I don’t have crew, and I’m part of this ship now.  So unless Chakotay throws me off I’ll be here for a while.”  B’Elanna was relieved that he wasn’t going to be leaving her…I mean them.  They split up a bit later each going to their quarters to get the things that they would need.  Tom wasn’t looking forward to going on this mission.  He never went into Federation space unless it was absolutely necessary.  He wasn’t about to tell Chakotay that he wasn’t going though.  He had his duties and he would carry them out.  And it’d be a cold day in hell when Tom decided not to help the people of that colony when he could.  Nira’s death was still fresh in his mind.  He may not have been able to help her but he could help someone else.  He exited his quarters for the hanger.

The moment he entered the hanger he was greeted by Dale.  “Have you thought of a name yet?” he asked anxiously.

 “Not yet.  We’ll find one when we get back.” Tom said walking with Dale to the ship.

 “What?  You can’t fly a ship without a name.  You’re just asking for bad luck.” Tom rolled his eyes.  Stupid superstition.  Tom made his own luck.  Although the ship not having a name would just complicate things.  He sighed trying to think of a name.  

The hanger doors opened to admit Chakotay and B’Elanna.  They noticed that Tom was in his usual attire for away mission; his black trench coat and gloves and a pair of sunglasses hanging out of one pocket.  They approached Dale and Tom.  They were talking about something.  They only arrived in time to hear Dale’s last statement.  “It’ll only take a minute.” And he walked away excitedly.  The three walked to the ship.

 “What was that about?” Chakotay enquired.

 “He wanted me to name the ship…”  Tom replied “to avoid bad luck.” Tom said sceptically.  

 “What did you name it?” B’Elanna asked.  She was curious as to what he would call this ship.  Rumour had it that he named NOVA as well.

 “The Delta Flyer.  It’s only for this mission.  Who ever takes this ship when we get back can re name it themselves.” He said as he opened the hatch.

 “So you don’t plan on getting your own crew again and commanding this ship?” Chakotay asked.  Dale had spilled the beans when he talked to him earlier.  

 “No, I don’t.” Tom answered and entered the craft.  B’Elanna and Chakotay followed.  

Several hours later the ‘Delta Flyer’ warped through space.  Tom was at the helm.  He was looking through the ‘improvements’ that Dale had made to the systems.  He had integrated technology from several species.  That would make repairs interesting but not too difficult, he hoped.  He looked back when the doors to the ‘bridge’ opened.  Chakotay entered.  Tom went back to what he was doing.  Walking to the nearest console Chakotay sat at the tactical station.  He was also interested in the design of this ship.  It was built to be fast and manoeuvrable.  Definitely designed by a pilot.  He also came to the bridge for another reason though.  “You weren’t thrilled with the idea of going into Federation space.” Chakotay stated to the back of Tom’s head.

 “I’ll make sure to show more enthusiasm…sir.” Tom said darkly.  Tom could really irritate Chakotay sometimes.  Usually when Chakotay was bringing up a subject that Tom didn’t want to talk about.

 “May I ask, why?” Chakotay chose to ignore Tom’s last comment.

 “No, you may not.” Tom pushed a few keys on the helm controls.

 “Is it because of your father?”  Chakotay’s voice was calm.

 “That’s not any of your business.” Tom’s voice was icy.

 “Is it about Caldik Prime?” Chakotay asked.

 “Can you not take a hint?  I don’t want to talk about it.” Tom said finally turning to face Chakotay.  

 “What happened Tom?”  Tom was seriously perturbed by something that happened and he guessed that it had to do with one of two things, or both: Admiral Owen Paris, Tom’s father or Caldik Prime and Starfleet.  Tom took a deep breath.

 “Did you ever grow up thinking that there was one constant in the universe.  Something that you could always count on.” He paused. “I did.  I thought that the Federation and Starfleet were infallible.  That they were the perfect organization.” He snorted resentfully. “Of course as I grew up, I learnt that even the greatest organizations had flaws.  The Federation was no where near perfect but I still believed in everything that it stood for.”  Tom paused for a long while thinking back.

 “And something happened that changed all that.” Chakotay deduced.

 “You could say that.”

 “What happened?” Tom was silent for a while.

 “What do you do when someone takes everything that you believed in and throws if in your face?  When the very people that are supposed to be upholding those beliefs tell you that they only do it when it’s convenient for them.  How are you supposed to feel?”

 “I don’t know…saddened-”


 “And your father?”

 “What is there to say?  He disowned me after Caldik.  Not that it’s a big deal.  We never…saw eye to eye on…anything, actually.” Tom shrugged and turned back to the helm controls.

 “An the laser rod that he used on you?”  Chakotay wanted to understand what would make someone with such a seemingly bright future turn renegade. He remembered hearing stories about the son of Owen Paris being gifted in several areas. 

 “I told you before, you’d have to ask him.  I sure as hell didn’t.”

 “Why not?”

 “I’m not as stupid as I look.  I didn’t want double beats.”

 “So he beat you?”  Chakotay had to make sure that he wasn’t misunderstanding anything. Tom didn’t reply for a while.

 “I told you that before, Chakotay.”

 “Why didn’t you tell anybody?”

 “Who was I supposed to tell Chakotay? Do you think anyone would have believed me?”  Tom stated flatly.

 “Why didn’t your sisters or mother do anything?”

 “My sisters didn’t know.  They still don’t.” 

 “And your mother?” Chakotay prompted

 “Long dead.”

 “So what’s keeping you out of Federation space?”

 “It’s a combination of different factors.” Tom said quietly.  He got up from the helm putting it on autopilot.  

 “Where are you going?” 

 “Deflector control.” Tom left the bridge.

For the rest of the trip they kept the conversation light.  They worked on contingency plans should anything go wrong and other plans.  Chakotay was planning on looking up an old friend while he was on earth.  B’Elanna had information that said her father was on earth and was contemplating contacting him.  “Are you going to see any of your family?” B’Elanna asked.  

 “No.”  Tom looked her in the eye.  She was a little stunned.  He hadn’t talked to or seen any of his family in years and he was going to pass up this one rare chance.

 “Your sisters would probably like to hear from you.” Chakotay urged him.

 “I’ll send them a message telling them I’m not dead.” He said, sarcasm dripping from his words.

 “Just think about it.” Chakotay suggested. Exasperation was evident in his voice.

Tom landed the shuttle in a public landing area.  He had detected a message being sent to 
Starfleet Command from the man that gave them clearance to land.  Tom estimated that they had about two days, give or take a few hours, before Starfleet would decide to make a move.  It seems that they were still looking for him.  B’Elanna and Chakotay were not on the bridge when Tom asked for landing clearance so it was him that Starfleet was after again.  They would have to finish their business quickly.  They locked down the ship and went to meet their anonymous friend.  They were in a little restaurant in downtown San 
Francisco.  They were dressed in different clothes than they would usually wear so that they would blend in with the other people.  

Captain Janeway sat in a little restaurant in downtown San Francisco.  She had decided to eat out that day.  Starfleet Command wasn’t too far from there so they could contact her if anything came up.  She was dressed in casual clothes but had her commbadge in her purse.  She watched as people came and went.  One trio caught her attention.  They were dressed like civilians but they didn’t seem to be from around the area.  The tall blonde man looked vaguely familiar but she couldn’t put her finger on where she had seen him before.  

 “Tom sit still.” B’Elanna said with a bit of amusement in her voice.  Tom fixed his gaze on her.

 “I am sitting still.” 

 “Then why is your foot tapping constantly.” She said looking at his right foot that 
was tapping on the floor of the restaurant.  He immediately stopped and placed his foot flat on the floor.  B’Elanna and Chakotay laughed a bit.  Tom just grumbled.

 “Where the hell is this guy?”  Tom had been ready to leave the moment the entered this place.  He had been here a few times as a cadet and as an officer.  Mostly good memories but the people with which he shared them with were gone.  They waited for another ten minutes before their contact showed up.  A short man with a beard was the one they were waiting for.  Tom eyed him suspiciously.  But then again Tom eyed everyone that he didn’t know suspiciously.  The meeting went quickly.  The made their payment and the four left to get the packages from the hovercar that the little man had brought.  

Captain Janeway watched as the four left the restaurant.  She noticed the tattoo on the darker man that came in with the first three and she saw that the young woman with them was only partially klingon but the blonde man still conjured up a vague memory but she couldn’t place it.  She finished her coffee and left for Starfleet Command.  She still had to get all the information about the mission she was to go on in the coming week.  The reports that sat on her desk held the pictures of the people she was looking for.

Tom and B’Elanna put the packages in the special crates in the cargo hold.  They had gotten everything that they needed but would be staying an extra day so that Chakotay and B’Elanna could contact some people.  Tom though that they should leave right away especially since Starfleet knew he was here and may want a rematch. Tom planned to take a trip to Sandrine’s bar in Marseilles, France that night and tomorrow he would just hang out in the ship.  He had taken some training courses at the Starfleet base there and Sandrine’s became his off duty hangout.  

 “So are you doing anything, tonight?” Tom asked casually as he closed the container.  

 “No.  Nothing until tomorrow.”  

 “Then how would you like to go to a bar called Sandrine’s with me.  You might actually like it.” Tom offered.  He was interested in getting to know B’Elanna but he had other issues to deal with as of late.

 “Sure.” She agreed. 

Captain Janeway sat at her temporary desk in her temporary office at Starfleet Command.  She read the mission objective: Find Maquis vessel know as ‘The Liberty’, take into custody the crew of vessel.  It was pretty much a follow up assignment to Tuvok’s mission that he wasn’t able to complete.  She looked at the file for the captain of the Liberty.  Chakotay; former Starfleet officer.  She called up his picture.  When she saw the image that had been provided by Tuvok’s information that he sent before he was caught she gasped and dropped her cup of coffee.  She immediately commed Admiral Hayes.

The next day the shuttle was quiet.  Chakotay and B’Elanna were out running personal errands.  Tom kicked back in the ship waiting for them to return.  They only left about an hour ago so he had a long wait.  He was thinking about last night.  He and B’Elanna had a good time at Sandrine’s.  B’Elanna and Sandrine had a long conversation while Tom hustled the pool table (something he did during his ‘fleet years as well).  Tom had introduced her to all of his old friends.  Some were more popular with B’Elanna than others; like the gigolo, she didn’t take very well to him.  Tom chuckled softly at the memory.  That was the best night he had in a while.

This morning though had not compared to last night though.  Tom had a bad feeling about this particular day.  He tried to ignore it but couldn’t.  Knowing better than to ignore his instincts he told Chakotay but the Captain had decided that they could risk the one extra day.  Tom exhaled audibly and got up from the seat in the cock pit.  He locked down the shuttle and decided to go for a walk through San Francisco; only the parts away from Starfleet though.  He was also planning on getting lunch somewhere.  

In Starfleet Command Headquarters Admiral Hayes was meeting with Captain Janeway and a few other officials.  Janeway had told them that she had seen the Maquis with Tom Paris in San Francisco.  She finally remembered meeting Tom at on of the Starfleet social functions.  They were currently trying to figure out where on Earth they could be.  Fortunately for them the air traffic controller had told them that Tom Paris was on one of the ships that landed yesterday.  Hayes authorized the security team that would go to the ship.  The traffic controller said that he only saw Tom Paris on the ship.  Hayes hoped that Paris would be able to tell them were the Maquis captain was.

He walked for about an hour slowly making his way to the coast.  The part of the beach he was at was mostly deserted.  Taking off his shoes he walked barefoot through the soft sands.  Memories flooded back to him.  Chasing his sisters and trying to get them wet.  They always hated when he did that.  Tom smiled at the memory.  He seemed to be doing more of that since he came back here.  There were a lot of good memories that he had on Earth and he found himself wishing for the days when he was just a child playing with his sisters not having to worry about anything.  Then the other memories came back.  Owen Paris yelling and screaming at him that he was stupid and worthless. The memories from when his father would beat him senseless and memories of regaining consciousness into a world of unbearable pain.  He shut his eyes trying to forget.  The one thing he missed the most about earth was his sisters.  Moira and Kathleen.  He hadn’t talked to them in ages.  They were his strength all those unbearable years.  He never told them about what Owen did to him.  They loved him and he loved them back and he didn’t want to make everyone’s lives miserable.  He wondered what they were doing now.

He approached the Marina and remembered that Donald, Kathleen’s husband used to work there.  He walked down the docks looking at the boats that were there and admiring their form.  He loved the sea.  More that he loved flying he thought sometimes.  He never had a chance to pursue that dream however.  The Admiral had other plans.  Tom walked passed one of the offices on the marina that handled the business.  He didn’t notice the astonishment of one of the men as he passed him.  

Tom had walked through most of the large marina and was leaving when he heard a voice call to him. “Tom?” It was a woman’s voice.  It sounded a lot like Kathleen, Tom was thinking to himself. “Tom!” He had ignored it the first time but the chance to see one of his sisters was too much to pass up.  He stopped walking and turned around to face the woman calling him.  It was indeed Kathleen.  She smiled and ran full speed into Tom’s arms.  She hugged him tightly.  Tom was stunned and for a moment he was frozen.  Slowly he brought his arms around his sister.  It had been a long time and he wasn’t even sure what to say to her.  

When she looked up again Tom saw the tears that were pooling in her eyes.  It broke his heart to know that he had caused them.  “I’m so glad to see you Tom!” Kathleen said happily.  “Moira and I though that we would never see you again.  Donald thought that he saw you and called me.” She said a sad note in her once bubbly voice.  “What have you been up to?  You don’t write or send any messages.  We were so worried about you after you left.” She told him.  Tom couldn’t hold her gaze.  He couldn’t tell them what he had been doing for the past two years.  

 “I’ve been here and there.” He said quietly.  “How’s Moira?” he changed the subject.

 “She’s fine.”

 “What did she name her son?” Tom asked.  Kathleen was shocked.  Moira had her son less than a year ago and Tom hadn’t contacted them so how did he know?

 “Andrew.  After grandpa.” She said. “How did you know she had a child?”  

 “I have my ways.” He said smiling slightly.  

 “Have you been keeping tabs on us?” Kathleen asked in mock outrage.  It was easy to see the smile on her face though.


 “I hope you weren’t peeking through the window or hiding under the bed.” She said reminding Tom of the things that he had done trying to spy on his sisters.  

 “Nothing so crude.” He chuckled remembering. “I didn’t know that that you were here though.  I thought that you would still be in Florida working as a Marine biologist.”

 “I am but I’m on leave.” She said.

 “Maternity leave?” he asked although he was pretty sure he knew the answer.  

 “Yes. How did you know?” she assumed that he was spying on her.

 “You weren’t this big the last time I saw you.” He said smiling and placed a hand on her swollen stomach.  They laughed together.  Tom and Kathleen talked for a little while on the docks.  

 “How long are you going to be here?” she asked hoping that she would have enough time to take him to see Moira.  Tom was about to answer but a beeping sound in his pocket drew his attention.  Checking the device it showed that the perimeter alarm had been triggered.  Tapping the keys to get more information he put the device away and turned back to his sister.  

 “Kath, I have to go now.” He stood and helped her up.

 “When will you be coming back?”

 “I don’t know but I’ll contact you somehow.  Don’t tell the Admiral that I was here!” Tom was running away from her before she could say anything more. 

He contacted B’Elanna and Chakotay before he reached the Delta Flyer and briefly apprised them of the situation.  When he arrived at the shuttle there were three people on the side that he could see.  They were standing guard as if they were trying to protect it.  They were wearing Starfleet security uniforms.  He couldn’t take them all on but if he could get inside the Flyer that would even out the odds some.  He put his hastily created plan into action.  

There were three people near the starboard entrance and that was his target.  Ducking behind the surrounding starships that were also parked here he made his way to the other side.  He stunned two of the guards on the portside.  The officers called for back up and two officers from the Starboard side came running.  That only left one person on the other side.  Tom fired a few more shots and then taking his earlier route, was back on the starboard side where he easily subdued the remaining guard.  Once inside he powered the engines and as soon as he lifted off he raised shields.  The tiny firearms of the security did no damage to the shields.  

Flying low he scanned for Chakotay and B’Elanna’s tracers.  Finding them he beamed them up.  “Got your message.” Chakotay stated as he took his position at Ops while B’Elanna sat at the Engineering station.

 “I think we’ve over stayed our welcome.” Tom said as he guided the small ship through Earth’s atmosphere.  

 “I’ve got two Starfleet ships on an intercept course.” Chakotay stated as he looked at the sensor readings.  “We’re being hailed.”  

A voice came over the comm system.  “Captain Ramanez of the Starship Antaries.  Drop your shields and cut your engines.  We are only after Thomas Eugene Paris.  Hand him over and the others can go free.” The Captain offered.  Tom hailed them back.

 “Nobody on this ship by that name.” He said, stalling for time.  

 “Your voice matches the-” Tom cut the transmission.

 “You’re going to make a run for it.  I’ll transport to this location on earth.  He said as he pointed to the coordinates on the map.”

 “What are you planning on doing?” B’elanna asked.

 “Laying low for a while.” Tom programmed a route into the helm that would be hard for the Akira class ship to follow.  “I’ll find my way at least as far to DS9.  Hopefully I’ll find a way into the DMZ from there.” Tom got up from the helm letting Chakotay take his place.  “Hold on.” Tom warned “Computer initiate program ‘Paris FU’” the computer chirped and the shuttle dove back towards Earth quickly, nearly throwing the occupants of the shuttle to the floor.  “See you soon.  I hope.” A moment later he was gone and the shuttle began a direct route to a Class 7 plasma drift where they could get half way to the DMZ.  The Plasma radiation would also make it difficult for scanners on other ships to find them. 

Tom found himself in an alley in Marseilles.  Time to get moving. He broke off in a run to Sandrines.  From there he could get some information about the transports leaving Earth and hopefully to DS9.  He had to do it quickly though.

On the U.S.S. Antaries the ops officer detected a transporter beam to Earth.  In a few minutes he was able to trace it to Marseilles France.  They alerted the Starfleet base near that location and sent their own away team to find Paris.  They knew that there were some Maquis on the small ship but they let it get away.  If they caught Paris he may be able to give them more information.  They didn’t know however that he had already left the planet on a transport vessel that was going towards DS9.

Four days later Chakotay and B’Elanna returned to the Liberty at the Maverick Starbase.  They had succesfully delivered the antidote to the colony but they were worried about Paris.  They had not received anything from him telling them that he was okay.  Checking with Ayala they discovered that the Liberty had not received any information from Paris and neither had the Mavericks.  

The refit was completed though.  Dale was talking Chakotay and B’Elanna to his office.  Dale had a surprise for them.  Unfortunately Tom would miss the surprise that was meant mostly for him.  They entered the office and sitting in two chairs waiting for them was Kerra and Jay.  Jay wearing his sunglasses as usual, took them off and greeted them happily as did Kerra.  “Where’s Tom hiding?” Jay asked still smiling.  

 “Somewhere on Deep Space Nine most likely.” Chakotay said.  He proceeded to fill them in on what happened on their trip to earth. 

 “We have to back for him.” Kerra said. “Most of the Maverick Operatives have been moved from DS9 to the DMZ.  Those that are left aren’t on duty so Tom won’t be able to find them, or if he can they won’t be able to help him.”

 “We should take the Delta Flyer.  They still won’t be looking to hard for it so it should make getting in and out easy especially if we have to make a run for it.  The higher Warp factor will come in handy.” Jay said.

 “Agreed.  We’ll leave tomorrow morning.  Inform your commanding officers.  They’ll have to do without you for a few days.” Chakotay said.

On DS9 Tom had his hood up over his head.  This place was crawling with Starfleet officers.  Word around was that a new Starship was being launched.  He made his way to quarks and got himself a drink. He stayed near the exit and watched what was going on around him.  He was looking out for Starfleet personel.  There was one young man sitting at the bar who was Starfleet but Tom didn’t find him particularly threatening so he stayed where he was.  He was close enough to here Quark trying to swindle the man.  The officer was oriental, jet black hair and wore a yellow shouldered uniform.  

A comment that the young man caused Quark to get very angry.  To pacify the Ferengi the man offered to buy the entire set of gems.  Tom shook his head ruefully.  He got up and went to help the officer.

 “As bright as a Colaiden diamond.” He commented as he picked one up and studied the little crystal.  Quark snatched it away.

 “Brighter!” Quark said, angry for being disturbed.  

 “You know, there’s a planet in the ______ System that sells a set of fifty for one Cardassian Lam.” He stated matter-of-factly.  He turned to Quark and the officer. “How much are you selling these for?”  

 “We were just going to negotiate the price.” He said holding a padd to the young officer who glared at him.  He slammed the case shut.

 “Come on.” Tom said as he was leaving.  The young officer got up and followed him.


 “Didn’t they warn you about Ferengi at the Academy.” Tom joked making the other man laugh.  “So are you on the new starship being launched today,” he looked at the man’s collar. “Ensign?”

 “Yes.  I’m the Head of the Ops department.  Harry Kim” He stated with a smile and shook Tom’s hand.

 “Your first mission, eh?”  The man nodded.  They stepped into one of the busy corridors.  Tom stopped and looked around trying to decide which direction to go.  He didn’t have anywhere to go to he was just wandering and looking for a way to the DMZ.  The only thing that judged where he was going was how many security officers were around.  Where they were Tom wasn’t.  

 “Do you live on the station?” Harry asked.

 “Sort of, but hopefully not for much longer.”  Tom said as he saw Odo coming their way.  He turned to his right and walked away from the approaching security constable. Kim followed.

 “You have a home you’re going back to, Mr….”  Harry was hoping that the man would give his name but he wasn’t so lucky.

 “Something like that.” Tom stopped and turned down a more deserted corridor.  “Nice to have met you Mr. Kim.  Do me one favour.” Harry nodded. “If anyone asks about me or is looking just tell them that you don’t know me and have never met me before.”  Harry nodded again, wondering what this man was hiding.  Tom flashed him a grin and continued down the corridor.  Harry watched him until he turned and was gone.  He better get to Voyager anyway.  

Tom was approaching a place on the Station where Mavericks usually went to but right now most of the Mavericks were in the DMZ so it would be a stroke of luck if he found someone there.  He rang the announcer but there was no reply.  He sighed and continued down the hall.  It was best if he kept moving.  The Captain of this station had probably already been informed of his presence and the Security officers of the station were probably keeping an eye out for him.  The first two days were a breeze, but one person nearly recognized him on the third day and he had to be more inconspicuous.  He had been sleeping in empty quarters that he had been able to get into by screwing up the locking mechanism on the door.  He was heading there now.  

Tom turned the corner and immediately went back.  He took a quick look at the doors to his quarters.  There was Odo and a couple of security personnel looking at the lock and looking through the room.  Tom hadn’t left anything and he had thrown everything he had used into the refresher and didn’t touch anything directly.  They wouldn’t know that it was him who broke into the room but he definitely could not go back there now.  Their discovery would probably make getting into other empty quarters more difficult.  

Tom left that area and went to where most of the transport ships docked.  Maybe he could bribe one of the captains for passage to the DMZ.  Lady luck was finally with him and he found a ship that was making a quick run to the DMZ to give ‘medical supplies’ to the colonists.  Tom didn’t inquire any further about the cargo.  Right now he didn’t care.  This run was probably already catalogued in the Maverick database and it was likely that it was one of the Maverick divisions that was going to be receiving the ‘supplies’. The transport left an hour later.  

On Voyager, Ensign Harry Kim was walking through the halls thinking about the man he had met earlier.  He never got the man’s name.  Something about him though seemed to shout ‘Fleet’.  It was as if he was a Starfleet officer or was at one point.  Maybe he would meet him again someday and find out his name.  Until then he had to keep his mind on his job.  He was going to meet the Captain and he wanted make a good impression.

They Delta Flyer was just passing the badlands.  They would usually go through but they were still receiving reports that manned ships were being lost in there so they avoided it.  A blip on the sensors got Kerra’s attention.  “There’s a vessel approaching.” 

 “Cardassian?” Chakotay asked bringing them to all stop.

 “No.” She took a look at the transponder signal and smiled. “It’s a freighter.  In fact I think that it’s making a Maverick delivery.”  

 “Tom may be on that ship.” B’Elanna said from her station.

 “We’re not close enough to scan the interior-” she stopped and looked at the sensors again. “The freighter has changed course and is coming towards us.  ETA fifteen minutes.” She said. “We’re receiving a message.” She decoded it.  Reading the first few lines she sighed in relief. “It’s from Tom.”

Twenty minutes later Tom was back on the Flyer and the freighter Captain was heading back to Federation Space.  They had taken the cargo and paid the freighter captain.  He didn’t care whether the buyers got what they had ordered, he just wanted to get paid so he had no qualms about leaving the Cargo with them.  Tom made a note never to use that man as their deliverer, ever again.  

They were making their way back to the Maverick base when sensors picked up a ship entering the badlands.  It was definitely federation but they could not in good conscience let that ship be taken by whatever it was that was taking Starships.  They had no problems letting Cardassian ship be taken but these people where not as much their enemies.  

Tom was at the helm again and he turned the ship around and sent a ghost message to the Voyager to get out of the badlands.

 “Captain, I’m receiving a transmission.” Harry said looking at his console.

 “Source,” she asked from her seat.

 “Unknown.” He said after he tapped a few buttons.  “It says that we should leave the bad lands.  That there is a strange phenomenon that it taking Starships from this area.” Harry read the message. “If we’re scanned by a coherent tetryon beam we should warp away immediately.”

 “Stadi, All stop.” Janeway said as she rose from her chair.  “Are you detecting anything on sensors.” Janeway asked as she walked to the Ops station.  

 “Nothing” he paused “Wait.  I’m detecting a coherent tetryon beam it scanning the ship.”  


 “Unknown.” He looked at his sensor readings again. “There’s a massive displacement wave heading towards us.” 

 “Stadi get us out of here.” Janeway barked and went back to her seat.  From the helm Stadi read out the new heading.  Janeway and the bridge crew watched as the wave approached them.  The moment the cleared the plasma storms they jumped to warp and left the displacemet wave in their dust.  That was a close one.  If they hadn’t stopped when they did.  They would not have been able to get out of the plasma storms in time to warp away.

The Flyer continued on its course to the base once they saw that the federation ship had gotten away in time.  

Two months later Tom had to leave the ship temporarily again.  He had been doing that every few weeks.  As Maverick he had other business to attend to but he always came back to the Liberty.  The Maquis and the Mavericks were working together more often now and were slowly beginning to win the war against the Cardassians.  The Cardassians didn’t have all the resources they claimed to have and were running out.  For once they had the advantage.  

Tom usually found the Liberty and was back in two or three days. The Mavericks always seemed to know what was going on even when last minute changes were made.  This time though it had been a week and Tom hadn’t returned.  The Liberty received a ghost transmission giving them some co ordinates.  When they went to those co-ordinates they found a small escape pod.  They detected a human lifesign aboard and transported the pod into the shuttle bay.  Chakotay and B’Elanna were present when the pod opened.  A frazzled Tom Paris nearly flew out of the small pod.

 “Tom are you alright?” Chakotay said as he place his hand on Tom’s shoulder.  Tom flinched and moved away from him. “Tom?”

 “I’m fine.” He rolled his shoulders and took a deep breath.  “Just a tad claustrophobic.” 

 “Why were you in an escape pod?” B’Elanna asked.  

 “The ship I was on had urgent business to attend to.  I had to get back here so they gave me they only pod they could spare.”  Tom glared back at the pod. A shiver ran through him and he closed his eyes.  

 “Tom maybe you should take it easy for a few days.” Chakotay suggested.  He had never seen Tom this jumpy before.  He was more than just a little claustrophobic.

 “No, the last thing I want is too much free time on my hands.” He sighed.  It had been nearly twenty years and he still wasn’t over it.

 “Tom!”  He was startled from his thoughts by B’Elanna.  “You were in another galaxy for a minute there.  Are you alright?  I mean really alright?”  He looked at her and for reasons unknown to him he told her the last thing that he wanted to tell anybody.

 “No.”  He sighed “I’ll be in my quarters.  You can take apart the podd and get the useful parts from it if you want.” He walked past the two of them.

 “What about your things?  Don’t you want to get them from the podd?”  An imperceptible shudder ran through Tom.

 “I’ll get them out later.”  The bag with his belongings could wait.  Tom walked out of the shuttle bay to his quarters.  B’Elanna and Chakotay watched his retreating form.  Tom had difficulty looking them in the eye when he spoke to them.  From his past experiences with the man, Chakotay knew that Tom was being haunted by one of his inner demons.  He didn’t know how to help him.  Tom always kept his distance from people.  He and B’Elanna were the two people closest to him on the ship and they still didn’t know much about him.  

B’Elanna knew even less bout Tom than Chakotay did.  They had gotten slightly closer, creating a relationship of sorts but Tom never seemed to reveal any of himself around her.  They never just talked, they always had to be doing something.  She also felt that Chakotay was withholding information from her.  Whenever she discussed Tom with him he always seemed to know more than what he was telling her.  

Kerra’s words ran through her mind.  She had to find out what was bothering Tom. She left the shuttlebay heading for Tom’s quarters but not before she got his bag out of the small podd.

She rang the announcer and waited.  A barely audibly response was heard and B’Elanna enetered.  The lights were on full illumination.  She looked around but didn’t see Tom.  She called his name.

Tom was in his washroom.  He splashed water on his face and dried it off with a towel.  He looked at his reflection but he couldn’t even hold his own gaze.  He heard B’Elanna call his name.  He walked out of the washroom and saw her standing just in front of the door to his quarters.  She looked at him and she offered him a small smile.  He tried but couldn’t return it.  “Can I help you with something?” he asked.  

 “I came to bring this to you.” She held out his bag to him.  

 “Thanks.” He reached out and took it from her.  He tossed it onto his bed and turned back to B’Elanna.  “Is there anything else?”  

 “Do you want to talk?”

 “Do I ever want to talk?”  he wasn’t looking at her.

 “Tom what’s wrong?  You’re not telling me something.”  He was avoiding her gaze.  She stepped closer to him.  “Tom talk to me.  It might help.”

 “Talking never helps.”  

 “Have you ever talked about what’s bothering you.”  He didn’t respond.  “I thought so.”

 “It doesn’t matter.  I don’t want to talk.  Leave me alone.”  He started unpacking his bag.   

 “Tom.” B’Elanna placed her hand on his arm.  He violently flinched away from her touch.  “Tom, I’m not going to hurt you.” She approached him again.  He was looking away from her.  “Tom-”

 “B’Elanna leave, please.” He walked past her.  B’Elanna was not willing to leave Tom alone when he was in this condition.  It seemed that now more than ever he need someone to be there for him.  

 “Tom please tell me what’s bothering you.  Don’t you trust me?”

 “Yes.” He answered quickly. “I’m just claustrophobic, that’s all.”

 “Why?” she knew that there was something that he wasn’t telling her.  If she didn’t find out now she may never get another chance.  Tom Paris was not one to let any of his weaknesses show.  She had a good idea why that might be.

 “It’s nothing.”

 “No, Tom.  It obviously is something.”

 “Well it’s none of your business.  Get out.” He said flatly.

 “Tom, I know what you’ll do if I leave.  You’ll bottle this all up and you’ll never get past it.  I know because I’ve done the same thing, and it took the persistence of a good friend to help me.  I only want to help you.”  During her little speech she had approached Tom until she was less than a foot in front of him. He still wouldn’t look at her.  She reached up softly touched his face.  She finally got him to look at her.  One look into his eyes told her more about him than the months that he had spent on the Liberty with him.  

She saw a tortured soul with a spirit, fragile yet undying.  People knew very little of the trials and tribulations that haunted this man.  He was a broken man who was trying to fit the pieces back together but experience had taught him not to rely on others.  Not to trust readily; afraid of putting trust into someone who would only hurt him like others had- other who were supposed to protect him, others who were supposed to love him.  

 “Tom talk to me, please.” She softly implored.

 “I don’t know if I can,” he closed his eye.  He couldn’t meet her gaze anymore. He couldn’t let her see the weakness -weakness that his father had tried to abolish.  What he didn’t know or couldn’t accept was that even the greatest of people have weaknesses.  It’s a part of their character not a flaw.

 “Try,” That’s all she asked of him.  

Two hours later B’Elanna left Tom’s quarters with his reassurance that he would get some rest.  They had talked a bit.  Not as much as B’Elanna had hoped but it was a start, she hoped.  She had learnt a about Tom’s past, about his mother who had died when giving birth to him, about his sisters, not about the Admiral as Tom kept referring to his father and what happened at Caldik Prime.  She was glad she hadn’t stayed in stayed in Starfleet.  She remembered how Tom acted after he told her.

 “Well?” he was standing in front of her a few meters away as she sat on the bed, stunned.  She looked up at him

 “Well, what?” She was confused. Her mind was still reeling from what he had told her.

 “Aren’t you going to start laughing or call me a liar or– ”

 “Tom, I don’t think you’re a liar.  I believe you.” She stood up and approached him. “You’ve never lied to me before, and I don’t believe you’re lying now.”  He seemed to deflate listening to her words.  He didn’t know what to do, what to expect.  His defence mechanisms had immediately come on.  He pushed her away before she had a chance to hurt him.  He seemed to be finding that his coping mechanisms were less and less useful and progressively less necessary when it came dealing with and being with B’Elanna.  

Currently B’Elanna was heading to Chakotay’s quarters.  It was only 2200 and she had to talk to someone about what she had discussed with Tom.  Tom didn’t want anybody else to know about what really happened at Caldik, not even Chakotay.

She entered Chakotay’s quarters after hearing him answer the chime.  She entered and found Chakotay sitting in a chair reading the contents of a padd.  “I’m not bothering you am I?” she hesitated before entering.

 “Status report.” He said waving the padd around.  “Nothing that can’t wait.”  He was curious as to why B’Elanna was here.  She was only this polite when there was something on her mind.  “How did your talk with Tom go?” she sighed and sat on the bed.  

 “Well, I suppose.  But I’m still worried about him.” 

 “So am I, but he’s strong, he’ll get past this.”

 “You knew didn’t you.” She stated suddenly.

 “Knew– ”
“You knew that his father beat him.”  Chakotay was silent.

“He told you.”

 “No, but I’ve seen the type of behaviour he’s been exhibiting before, in other people:  Avoiding getting close to people and trying to hide all of his pain and vulnerabilities, keeping mostly to himself, not trusting readily.  I’ve seen it before Chakotay.  Why didn’t you tell me?”

 “It wasn’t my place to tell you.  It was his choice whether or not he wanted you to know.”  He stated.  “Maybe he still doesn’t want you to know.”
“What do you mean?”
“You said so yourself that he didn’t tell you.  Maybe he’s not ready for you to know yet.”  For the next hour Chakotay and B’Elanna talked.  She told him some of the things that Tom said but she didn’t tell him about what happened at Caldik Prime.   Tom had accidentally let some comment slip and B’Elanna had picked up on it.  After some nagging he finally relented and told her.  B’Elanna and Chakotay had suspected that there was more to the accident at Caldik Prime than a crash caused by pilot error.  She and Chakotay had gotten to know Tom over the past months and the man that was described in the reports was not the one that they know now.  They know the better one. 

B’Elanna began telling Chakotay why Tom was claustrophobic.  “He said that a couple of times when he was young he was lock in a small dark closet.  He wouldn’t get into any details but he said that everytime he thought he was going to die in there and now small space cause the feelings to return.”  Tom hadn’t told her everything.  He hadn’t told her that it was his angry father that had locked him in the closet for days after he had brutally beaten or tortured him.  He didn’t tell her about the dizzy spells ad hallucinations due to the injuries.  She only knew a fraction of what happened and that was still much more than anybody else knew.

In his quarters Tom tried to sleep but images and sounds plagued his dreams.  He was in the shuttle Europa from the Exeter.  He heard a woman’s laugh and turned to his right.  In the co-pilots chair was his good friend Odile.  *No* Tom thought *She’s dead*.  He heard some voices behind him.  Turning he saw Armand and James coming back to the cockpit of the shuttle from the aft section.  They were laughing about something. *Not again*.  A minute later the problem began.  Out of nowhere a ship of unknown origin decloaked.  They received no response from hails.  Instead the ship fired upon them.  The shuttle’s meagre shields and weapons where no match for the other ships weaponry.  

Tom was at the helm while Odile tried to contact the Exeter for help.  James and Armand where trying to defend the shuttle the best they could.  Tom knew that if they didn’t get back up soon the shuttle would be destroyed and them along with it.  

Tom knew everything that was going to happen but nothing that he did seemed to stop what was happening or change what he knew was coming.  Tom was rapidly loosing helm control while Odile sent out a message after message the Exeter for help.  The Exeter was only twelve minutes away at the ships maximum warp.  Once they saw the ship coming their attacker would retreat.  That theory was never tested.  It was unknown to Tom at the time whether the Exeter ever got the message but in a few weeks he would know the truth and it would change his life forever.

The larger ship pummelled the shuttle until the only functioning system was life support and only that was minimal.  The other ship didn’t stop there.  It seems that they were not taking any prisoners.  The shuttle had almost made it to Caldik Prime before being crippled and now the gravity of one of Caldik’s moons was bringing the ship down.  The moon was inhabited with civilians but no facilities capable of safely tractoring in a damaged shuttle.

Tom wrestled with the helm controls trying to coax the last bit of power from the thrusters.  He couldn’t stop the rapid descent but he was hoping to guide the shuttle to an area that wasn’t populated.  He had to change the trajectory of the ship before it hit the stratosphere or else it would be too late.  Until the last moment Tom fought with the shuttle to regain just minimal thrusters. There was no logical reason for the thrusters to come partially online for the short moment that they did but Tom took the opportunity and aimed the ship east to an unoccupied area.  

All of the shuttles occupants knew that they would most likely die but only three of the four occupants saw their life flash before them in a blur of images before the shuttle impacted with the moons hard surface.  Odile Carmen, James Deacon, Armand Ristanis…DOA; Thomas Eugene Paris…critical condition.

Tom awoke with a start. At first he thought he was in the Starfleet hospital on Caldik Prime but as the world came into focus he recognized his small living quarters on the Liberty.  He ran a hand through his hair feeling the thin film of cold sweat the covered his body.  He got up from his bed and went to the washroom.  The unwanted memories of after the crash returning to his consciousness.

Voices “several injuries….lucky to be alive…” *Who are they talking about?*  “No other survivors…”  The haze around his mind wouldn’t clear.  He couldn’t understand what they were saying.  He tried to look at them but he felt too weak to open his eyes.  He tried to ask what was going on but only a mumble escaped his lips.  

The doctor and the nurse turned to the inert form on the bed.  They heard him mumble something.  It had been four days since the accident and it was the first time there was proof that he was alive other than the readings on the bio-monitor.  The Doctor and nurse approached.  The Nurse checked the readings and told the doctor that he was semi-conscious.  “Mr. Paris,” he waited for another response after a minute Tom moved his head.  The Doctor loaded a hypospray and pressed it to Tom’s neck.  Tom’s eyes slowly opened and his pupils adjusted to the brightly lit room after seeing darkness for so long.  “Mr. Paris,”

Tom tried to focus his gaze and found that he could only partially make out the images above him.  He tried to move but found he couldn’t.  Panic was beginning to set in but he calmed himself.  “Mr. Paris,”  His blurry gaze moved to the man above him.  The only way Tom could tell it was a man was by the sound of his voice.  Tom tried to ask another question, this time with more success than the last. “Where…?”

“A hospital on Caldik Prime.”  *Caldik Prime?*  He had trouble remembering but then it came back to him.  The shuttle mission to the second planet, the attack, the moon….the crash!  The panic that Tom was trying to keep at bay was resurfacing.  


“I’m sorry Mr. Paris, they didn’t survive.”  *You’re lucky that you did.* the doctor added silently.  Tom closed his eyes.  They’re gone.

Four more days later.  Tom was beaming off the vessel that brought him back to earth.  He didn’t relish seeing the admiral again.  His sisters were no longer at home, so it would just be him and the admiral.  Tom was in Starfleet Command heading towards his father’s office.  The Admiral had contacted the hospital at Caldik twice.  Once to ask the status of his son when he was there for the second day and once to confirm his release from the hospital.  Twice in Eight days, when for the first three days his son could have died on that biobed.  

Tom walked through the corridors, half-heartedly greeting people that he passed.  The people that knew what had happened offered him smiles of hope and comfort; two things that he wasn’t feeling at the moment.  He entered his father’s office.  He stood at attention; head up, eyes on some point on the wall behind his father, back straight, hands at his sides, the perfect attention stance; perfected since he was six.  

The Admiral studied the young man before him with a critical eye.  He went back to work.  A minute later he asked?: “How are you feeling Lt?”  Tom could tell that the Admiral was having trouble with these simple pleasantries.  Small talk was never something that they did.  Conversations –if you could call them that –were always succinct and formal.  Tom was still standing at attention.  Lt or Thomas was as personal as the Admiral got with his son.

“Well, sir.” Lie.

The Admiral nodded still not looking at his son and Tom didn’t spare a glance down to his father.  For another minute there was silence, until the Admiral spoke again.  “They’ve given you three more weeks off for physical and…emotional recovery.”  The Admiral said ‘emotional’ as if there were foul taste in his mouth.  “I’m sure that you’ll be ready for duty again in less time then that.”  The Admiral waited for a confirmation from the officer that was still standing at attention but when he heard only silence he looked up for only the second time at his son.  He raised himself from his desk, walked around and stood directly in front of Tom.  Tom didn’t even acknowledge his existence.  “Do you have a problem Lt?” His voice freezing the air.  

“No, sir” Tom stressed each word.

“I will not stand by and watch you wallow in depression, boy,” Boy? He’s twenty for years old.  “I did not train you to be so spineless, to be so…weak!  You will be back on duty as soon as a Doctor clears you!  Do I make myself clear, Lt?”

“Yes, Sir.”  He softly breathed the words out.  A hard back-handed slap across his face snapped his head to his left.  His right cheek was burning but he didn’t dare break from his stance.  He boldly held his head up and returned his stare to the far wall.   The Admiral was furious.  Parises never show such weakness.  His son would not be the first.  

“I didn’t here you boy!”

“Yes, sir.” Was the solid confirmation.  The Admiral nodded, pleased for the moment.  Tom had an inner strength about him that the Admiral knew would get him through this trauma without having to go through all the blubbering and drama that others would go through.  

“Have your report in before you return to duty.”  Running a last critical check over his son he looked back into the identical blue eyes that were glued to the wall.  “You’re dismissed, Lt.” Performing the perfect pivot Tom turned on his heels and exited the office.  The Admiral went back to work.  Tom went to do some research.  He unconsciously rubbed the spot where the Admiral had slapped him.  When he realized what he was doing he stopped, not wanting to draw any attention to the large red mark on his cheek.  Twenty four years and the Admiral still ran his life and still Tom let him.  What is he hoping for?  Approval?  Affection?  Pride in his father’s eyes?  Maybe.

Four days later.  A furious Tom Paris stormed into the office of Admiral Nacheyev.  The petite blonde woman stood up from her desk.  The Admiral waved away the Lt. That was following to take Tom away.

“Lt. Paris–”

“What the hell is this?” Tom interrupted.  He slammed a padd to her desk. She retrieved it and read the text.  

“Where did you get this?” she asked, eyes wide in horror.  

“Is that information accurate?” He ignored her question.  She read more of the text.  “They knew.  Everyone knew and you still sent us there!”  The Admiral kept reading, trying not to look at him.  “Why?”  She finally looked up from the padd.  Calmly she placed it on her desk.

“This is no way for you to talk to an Admiral–”

“I don’t care.  Three of my best friends are dead and I want –I need to know why.  What did Starfleet gain by sending us to our deaths.” His voice was sturdy and forceful, not hysterical with anger.  Nacheyev couldn’t read him like she could others.  He was more like Owen than he realized.

“It wasn’t supposed to happen like this–”

“But it was supposed to happen.”  She was about to speak but Tom cut her off, “Why?”  

“We hoped that you would be able to contact  them–”

“That’s a story to sell to the kids, Admiral and I don’t want to hear it.”

“The Exeter went to assist you–”

“After we crashed.”

“I have to congratulate and thank you, Tom.  You saved a lot of lives when to steered the ship towards the desert.”

“Save it.  The Exeter ignored our distress call until the last moment.  Why?”

“They didn’t ignore it they went to assist you.”

“They knew the attack was coming as soon as the other ship decloaked.  Read the report.  The sensors were set to scan the area of the shuttle as soon as we arrived at the second planet.  The Captain ignored the distress call until the last possible moment.  It’s all in the mission logs and reported by other crewmembers that were on the bridge.  I’m not leaving until I know why.”

“I think you will.  Showing such disrespect to an Admiral can get you put on report, Lt.”

“Cram your regulations up your ass.” Tom said as controlled as ever.

“Leave, or I’ll have Security make you leave.” She reached out for the comm. button but stopped short.  

“You killed them.  What was so important to Starfleet that it was willing to risk the lives of four officers?  Whatever it was or is, it’s not worth it.”  Tom left the office as abruptly as he had entered.  Nacheyev sat down.  Her thoughts were moving at near warp.  She came to a decision.  She sent and urgent message to some colleagues they had to meet ASAP.

Two Days later.  Lt. Tom Paris was escorted into a room where two admirals, Nacheyev and Rear Admiral Benett (also Starfleet’s Judge Advocate) two commodores and one Captain.  Captain O’Donnell, the captain of the Exeter.  Tom didn’t offer a salute of any kind.  “Mr. Paris, Admiral Nacheyev tells us that you have some concerns regarding your mission to the second planet in the Caldik System.”  They were seated on one side of a long table.  Tom declined the offer to sit and Admiral Benett continued.  Tom listened and couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  The Admiral was telling him the same thing he read in the official reports.  Even with all the evidence that he had uncovered they still wouldn’t drop the cover story.

“Tell me,  do you actually believe the crap that’s leaving your mouth?”  Tom asked plainly.

“You should know enough to show respect to a superior officer.” Said one of the commodores.

“And you should know enough to respect other officers no matter what their rank.  As in telling them the truth when they deserve it.” Tom replied.  “I’m asking for a reason for the action that took place that day. Three people are dead because of those actions but I know that those weren’t the only casualties of your conflict with these people.”  Tom tossed  a padd to Admiral Bennett.  “I did some more research.  It seems that the federation was extremely close to committing genocide; whether that was intentional or not I’ve yet to determine.  Species: Unnamed, Occupying sector 96,07,43; nearly four hundred parsecs from the closest border of Federation Space, A ship on a deep space assignment came into contact with them, when they went to an asteroid belt rich in minerals but these people had already claimed it as their own.  The Federation wanted those materials and when the Captain continued excavation of the minerals the people retaliated.  The Captain considered them a threat deployed weapons that had and extreme reaction with the unique atmosphere and composition of the planet.  The catastrophe wiped out forty percent to the 7 billion people on the planet.  Fearing retaliation the ship left and when the incident was reported to Command it was kept under wraps.  The action taken by the Commanding Officer was deemed excessive, hence the discharge of Captain Hansley.  Now nearly three years later those people are back, for revenge I assume, and now Starfleet is shaking.”

“No, it explains perfectly why you didn’t warn us about them even though you suspected them to be in the Caldik system.  The so called evacuation of most of Caldik and the surrounding systems due to a ‘biological threat’ was a cover up to keep those colonists from becoming the victims of a war they had nothing to do with.  When the people that didn’t know about this wanted an investigation of this ‘biological threat’ you sent the Exeter since Captain O’Donnell here already knew about the ‘incident’.  Our trip to the second planet was scheduled and to cancel a level four priority was necessary, but you weren’t willing to blow the cover of your little screw up so you let us go and took the opportunity to gauge the weapons of the enemy.  When they displayed firepower beyond that of the Exeter the Captain followed orders and did not intervene in fear of starting an all out war.  Quite a predicament the Federation is in; on one hand you’ve got the Cardassians and the Dominion, on the other hand you’ve got these people that are back to even the score.”

“Despite what you think you know, none of that happened.” One of the commodores stated.

“I can’t believe that you still won’t drop the cover story.   I know what happened.”

“You don’t know anything!  This information was classified for a reason.”

“The citizens of the Federation deserve to know what happened and why their lives may be in danger and the species of people deserves more from the Federation than we could possibly give them, but ignoring them won’t make it any better.”  Tom told them.

“Lt., you don’t know enough about what happened to have an opinion.” Nacheyev stated.

“Maybe but I know right from wrong.  Why do you want to cover this up?  Every organization makes its mistakes?”

“There’s a lot of tension between species in the Federation,”  Bennett was being careful how to word what he was saying and Tom was suspicious, “We have bigger problems that take priority to these people.  I suggest that you forget about this and move on.  You must have a lot to deal with.”  Bennett was trying to use compassion to steer Tom towards a different subject.  Tom knew what he was trying to do.

“So will you when these people end up killing Federation citizens.  You have to tell them or at least warn them about what may happen.  If you don’t you can add me to that list of things to deal with.”  

“That would cause unrest in the Federation and worsen the conflicts within the Federation.”  Nacheyev tried to get him to understand what the consequences of that line of action would be  “it would be…” she faltered looking for the right words.

“What?…Inconvenient for you?” said Tom.  There was silence for a while.  No matter which way you slice it that’s what it came down to.  No one there wanted to admit it but yes, that’s what it was.  They had progressively and systematically lowered the lives of their very citizens, the same people that they had vowed to protect, down to convenience. It was the Judge Advocate, Admiral Bennett that finally spoke.

“Yes.” That was the final straw

“If you won’t tell them, I will.”  Tom was about to leave.

“You’ve already filed your preliminary report, you can’t change your story now.” Bennett informed him.

“I didn’t have all the facts before.”  Tom’s back was to them.

“Starfleet won’t see it that way.  You’ll be considered a liar.”

“I’ll explain to them what happened and they’ll understand.”  Tom had exceptional faith in Starfleet and the Federation despite their flaws and despite the vultures and snakes that they employed.  

“The Judge Advocate won’t.”  Bennett sneered.  Tom turned to him.  

“By not informing Federations citizens of the potential threat you’ll be disobeying General Order 24 which states: If a commanding officer deems that an individual or group of individuals pose a threat to Starfleet personnel or Federation civilians, he may take any action deemed necessary (including force) to secure the safety of those threatened.”  //Leave it to the son of Owen Paris to know each of Starfleet’s General Orders by heart// thought Nachyev.

“Fine, then I don’t believe that any group of individuals pose a threat to Starfleet personnel or Federation citizens.”  Bennett said, knowing that it was a matter of interpretation of the information that mattered.

“When thousands of people die and Chief in command decides to look at the information that you had today, we’ll see how long you remain and Judge Advocate, your honour.” Tom mocked.

“Breathe a word of any of this to anyone and you’ll be sorry!” Bennett was tired of arguing with a mere Lt.  

“Is that a threat?  Because I don’t respond well to threats.”

“I’ll ruin your career as an officer if you try anything.  Not even Dad will be able to save you.  I’ll bring your career to the ground.”

“And when you do, you can break my fall.  The Captain here has already disobeyed General Order 6: The request for emergency assistance from Federation citizenry demands unconditional priority from Starfleet personnel. Such personnel shall immediately respond to said request, postponing all other activities.  And you are all in violation of General order 24.”  Bennett was seething now.  Tom was still controlled and calm.  After a final glance at the others in the room Tom turned and went to the door.

“Don’t you dare try anything!” Bennett yelled.  His anger was making him loose control.
Tom paused in the open doorway.  Turning his head so that he could see Bennett out of the corner of his eye he said: “I won’t try…I’ll succeed.” and he left them.   Admiral Bennet managed to calm himself before he spoke to his colleagues.  

 “Watch him.  He may be a problem.”  He ordered.

It had been six days since he had talked with those pompous bastards at Starfleet HQ.  Tom sat at a terminal in HQ that he had been using since he was a child whenever his father had brought him here.  Nobody thought anything of it but they didn’t know what he was doing.  No one had ever inquired.  Through this terminal and others like it that where hooked up to the federation database and even some that weren’t, Tom could access any part of the database, classified or not.  He had been doing it since he was seven and was only getting better.  

There had been two more incidents regarding the people of sector 96, 07, 43 currently named species 960743.  //Ingenious// thought Tom, sarcastically.  No one else had yet died due to these other incidents but they were getting closer and Tom could not sit by idly and do nothing.  Now was the time for action, before it was too late. 

Six minutes later Tom left the room and shortly after left Starfleet HQ for his San Francisco home.  The Doctor that Tom was seeing said that he would be able to go back to full duty in three days.  Tom wasn’t seeing any psychiatrist to help him with the trauma of loosing his best friends, the Admiral was totally opposed to the idea.  

It was the next day when Starfleet Security officers came knocking at the door with a warrant for his arrest.  Tom didn’t resist them.  They had their orders and nothing that he did or said would stop them.  He knew why he was being brought to HQ, well, he thought he knew.

Tom was placed in a holding cell in one of the Starfleet buildings.  He now unsure as to what waas happening. Sending an unauthorized message never landed someone in the brig before, unless the message was being sent to the enemy or a hostile group.  All Tom did was send a message to the people that where near the boarder of the Federation closest to sector 96, 07,43.  It wasn’t until the next day that Tom found out what he was being punished for.

He was escorted into the hearing by two security officers and stood before a panel of Starfleet officers including, Admiral Bennett, the judge Advocate, the tweo commodores he had met with over a week ago.  The room was filled with various Starfleet personnel and civilians.  Amoung the spectators Tom saw Admiral Paris sitting near the back and Admiral Nacheyev sitting at the very front.  

Alone, Tom stood before Bennett and his cronies and listened to the charges that were being brought against him.  //Assholes//.  Tom didn’t say a word however.  He just listened. “…responsible for the death of three officers…falsifying reports…”  Tom nearly laughed, nearly.  He hadn’t done any of those things.  It was well documented that he had not been at fault for the crash and he had not submitted a second report saying that the first one was incorrect.  At first he didn’t understand why he was being tired for these crimes but then it dawned on him: credibility.  If he went to anyone after this to tell his side of the story nobody would believe him.  All of the evidence has probably mysteriously disappeared.  He looked at Bennett who seemed pleased at what was happening to him. //I must have really pushed his buttons//.  “…dishonourably discharge…”  the voice announced his punishment.  A guard came up to Tom to take his commbadge, pips and uniform top but Tom moved before the officer reached him.  

Tom walked up to the panel of officials and stood before the Judge advocate.  On either side sat the two commodores that had been at the previous meeting.  He removed the two pips from his collar and placed them on the table. “I can leave here with a clear conscience,” he removed his commbadge and placed that on the table. “I didn’t kill them,” he removed and placed the red shouldered jacket on the table “You did.”.  

The next week went by slowly until the Liberty was in a fight for life again.  Chakotay was at the helm and Tom was at tactical.  They had been ambushed one of their missions.  Tom had been right.  He had warned Chakotay that it was likely that they would be attacked during their mission.  Tom had seen the layout of the area they were going to and it was the perfect place to launch an attack from.  Chakotay had decided to carry on with the mission anyway.  Tom had put more people at tactical and had gone through a couple of scenarios at tactical with Ayala.  Tom was glad that he had taken those extra precautions now.

The Liberty was out numbered at the moment.  Two Cardie ships to one Maquis.  They were incurring high amounts of damage.  The stealth cloak was offline and shields were failing.  Sparks flew as consoles overloaded and plasma gas leaked into the bridge.  Tom was firing phasers at key positions on the Cardie vessels but it was hard to get the shots when the liberty was moving so erratically.  

Tom saw a warning on his console.  The helm was beginning to overload. “Chakotay!” Before Tom could warn him sparks erupted from one side of the controls throwing Chakotay out of his seat.  Tom ordered another crewmember to take the helm and tactical while he checked Chakotay.  He had some limited medical knowledge.  After making sure that Chakotay was alive and relatively well he got him transported to the medical bay.  

The Liberty rocked violently and several people were knocked off their feet.  Tom got up and went to the helm. “Up!” he ordered.  The person moved.  They weren’t a pilot and the ship was being heavily damaged while they sat there.  “Ayala, I need you at tactical.” Tom called over the comm. system.  A moment later Ayala arrived on the bridge and took tactical from the other crewmember.  Ayala was surprised to here Tom asking for him to go to tactical.  He knew Tom was better at that position than he was and thought that the only way he would ever be there during a battle was if Paris was injured.  He had never seen Tom at the helm before and was well aware of the accident at Caldik Prime but he didn’t object.  He had a job to do and nobody else was a competent pilot; at least Paris had some experience.  

Tom quickly oriented himself with the controls and began putting the liberty through complex manoeuvres but still managed to get Ayala the shots he needed and did it better than anyone else could.  The constant shaking turned into the occasional shudder whenever a Cardie ship managed to get a lucky shot.  The difference in pilots was felt all over the vessel.  

Tom brought the ship to all stop while pivoting and gunned the engines taking them right past their two pursuers.  Ayala got several good shots in and disabled the sheilds of one of the vessels.  The Liberty headed towards a close trinary starsystem.  He head straight for the three stars.  Tom had a plan.  The idiots on the Cardie vessels continued their pursuit.  What they didsn’t know was that the unique system created a dangerous and rare phenomena.  At a point in space that was the same distance away from each star there existed an area of high concentration of subatomic particles as the solar winds or each star collided.  These particles where highly dangerous since they were in a state of instable equilibrium and were easily excited.  They fried computer systems damaged shielding and weakened the hulls of ship at the molecular level.  Tom was going to use this against the Cardassians.  “Ayala, set the phaser for a resonating frequency.  Fire on my mark.  Gerron I need you to carry a low frequency tranporter beam along the phaser shot and activate it on my mark.”  

The Liberty darted towards that stars.  After passing the first star a red phaser beam was aimed at a cloud of particles.  The cardassian ships where close behind and right before they reached the area of high particle concentration a blue pulse went through the phaser beam and when it hit the particles intstant chaos.  The Cardassian ships where too close and weren’t able to stop in time.  The Liberty change its trajectory and darted between two of the stars and left the badly damaged ships in its impulse engine dust and missed beign damage by the excited particles.

 “They’re dead in the water.” Gerron said from his station.  


 “Shields are offline, hull breaches all over the place,  fused relays, we’ve got low warp though.”

 “Paris to engineering, can you make repairs while at warp?” there was a pause before the response came.

 “We should be able to.” Torres responded.  Tom felt an unusually large amountof relief at hearing her voice and knowing that she was alright.  He hadn’t realized how strongly he cared for her.

 “Understood, Paris out. Start on repairs,  I’ll be in the medical bay.” Tom said as he brought the ship to warp 1.6.  They had to move away from the Cardassians to get out of reach of their long range sensors before they stopped to do more repairs.  The others went about their business fixing the consuits relays and consoles that had been damaged during the battle.

The crew was comfortable taking orders from Tom despite his past.  He had saved their buts enough times that they had to have some trust in his judgement.  Tom was pretty much second in command of the Liberty.  Whenever Chakotay was gone on a mission or injured or something it was Tom that they went to for orders.  

Tom entered the medical bay.  There were a number of crewmembers there and only one medic.  Tom picked up a diagnostic tool and began triaging.  The most severely injured where treated first.  Thankfully there were no life-threatening injuries.  Soon the medical bay was quiet except for a few patients.  Tom was talking to Chakotay.

 “How did we get away?” Chakotay asked.  He was laying on one of the few biobeds.  
 “Just an old trick.” Tom said.

 “Who was at the helm?” asked the medic.  He had felt the change as well and wanted to know who to thank.

 “Uh…just some crewmember–” Tom began

 “It was Tom Paris.” Said a voice from the doorway.  They turned and saw Ayala entering.

 “How did you get us away from them?”  the medic asked.  Chakotay too was curious.

 “Just a little trick.” Tom restated not wanting to get into the details.  Ayala however felt compelled to tell them all about what happened.  

 “Wow!” was all the medic could say.

 “I better go see how repairs are going.” Tom said.  “Make sure that he takes it easy.” Tom said pointing to Chakotay.  He left.  The room was quiet for a long moment before one of the other crewmembers in the room asked Ayala a question about what happened.  Chakotay listened and thought about Paris.  Maybe there should be a change in his position on the ship.

By that evening the crew’s mess was hopping.  The entire crew had heard the story about how Paris had saved the day again and that was the main topic of discussion.  Tom Paris was such a puzzle that he constantly provided topics of idle gossip for the crew that needed some sort of release.  Tom knew but didn’t particularly care.  He came into the mess and sat at the one of the less crowded tables.  He was acutely aware of the stares.  He didn’t let it get to him though.  He was perfectly comfortable sitting their eating his meal until Gerron sat across from him.   The crew’s mess was pretty packed and there hadn’t been anywhere else to sit.  Gerron rarely sat with Paris and vice versa. It wasn’t that Gerron didn’t like Tom it was just that he noticed that Paris was uncomfortable around him for some reason.  

They sat in silence and ate their meals.  Tom excused himself and left.  No one seemed to notice Tom’s agitation except Gerron and B’Elanna who followed Tom out.  “Tom!” she called him from down the hall. He stopped and saw her approaching.  “What was that about?”

 “What are you taking about?”  He decided to play dumb.
 “Why are always uncomfortable around Gerron?  Did he do something”
 “No, he didn’t do anything.”
 “Well,” she was waiting for an answer.  They didn’t notice Gerron paused a few meters away out of their field of vision but not out of hearing range.
 “It’s just that… Alec…”  He took a deep breathe “They’re a lot a like.  Victims of circumstances and now they’re here.  Kids fighting for a cause when they should be out having fun and doing teen stuff not dying here.”  He paused “I look at Gerron, I see Alec’s face and I remember my greatest failure as a person.  I let him die.  He was only a child and I let him fight in this war and he died for me.  I just can’t face Gerron.  I just want to drop him off on the next safe planet just to know that he won’t die out here before he has even had a chance to live his life.  I know I can’t do that though and… I’m afraid it’ll happen again.”
“Gerron’s been here for a while Tom.  He’s tough and he’s smart.  He’ll make it.  And there won’t be anybody trying to assassinate Maverick to put him in danger.”  She smiled at her last comment.  Tom chuckled.

“Now we’ve only got the Cardassians to deal with.”

“Seriously though Tom, you should get to know him.  As the second in command you need to know your crew.” She said.

“Second in command?”

“That’s what their calling you more often.  Didn’t you notice that the crew listens to your orders.”

“I hadn’t thought about it that way.”

“Well get used to it.”  She walked away.  She passed by Gerron and paused.  He had heard them she realized.  She looked back and saw Tom walking in the other direction; he didn’t know that Gerron was there.  She smiled slightly at Gerron’s facial expression.  Relief was the only thing you could call it.  He was afraid he had done something to anger or offend Paris but now he knew.

“What should I do?”

“Nothing.  He’ll make the first move.”  

It was around 0900 the next day when Tom and Ayala were talking privately to Chakotay.  He had asked them to come to his quarters that morning to discuss ships business. “Ayala you’re going to be the chief tactical officer from now on.”  Ayala was surprised to say the least.  Paris was a better tactical officer.  Tom knew that Chakotay wasn’t done yet.  “Tom you’ll be positioned at the helm from now on unless you’re needed at tactical.”

 “I don’t think that crew would be comfortable with me at the helm…given my past.”  He said with emotion.  

 “Do you doubt your capabilities?”  Chakotay asked.


 “Then nobody else will either, especially after yesterday.  By the way where did you learn that trick.”

 “Nowhere.  I just thought about it when I saw the trinary system on the sensors.”  A that moment a call over the comm asked Tom to go to the bridge.  He excused himself and left.

 “Impressive.” Said Ayala.

 “To say the least.”

For the next two months Tom sat at the helm of the Liberty, where he was meant to be.  With Chakotay at Ops, Ayala at tactical and B’Elanna in Engineering, they were a force to be reckoned with.  Almost every mission they went on was successful.  The Cardassians where sending more ships out after the Liberty; it was flattering really.  Tom got used to his role as second in command and helping out in sickbay and in engineering.  Tom had a lot of skills that he had never showed before.  He was a valuable assest to the Maquis the Mavericks and any other group of institution he worked for.  Starfleet abused him and they lost him.  In Engineering he could fix just about anything.

On a more personal note Tom and B’Elanna were hesitantly entering a relationship with each other, much to the delight of the crew, well most of the crew.  There were a couple of female crewmembers that had their eye on Tom and a few male as well but all and all things where going well.

It was several weeks later that the Liberty was in a fight for life.  They had been ambushed and had several Cardassian ships chasing them.  They had managed to take four of the six out of the pursuit but there were still two following them.  The Liberty was taking heavy damage even with Tom at the helm.  They were loosing propulsion and shields were offline.  “Enter the badlands we can loose them in the plasma storms.”  Chakotay ordered.  

 “What about the displacement wave?” Tom protested.

 “None of the probes that have been sent in recently were lost.”

 “Maybe whoever was doing it had a large enough collection of probes.”

 “That’s a chance we’ll have to take!” Tom relented and steered the badly damaged ship to the Bad Lands.  Only moments after entering the two Cardassian ships where badly damaged by the plasma storms.  Chakotay had been right, but he wasn’t the only one who had been right.  It was only a few seconds after they had out run the Cardassian ships and where about to start on repairs when it happened.  A warning signal on the Ops console caught Chakotay’s attention. “We’re being scanned by a coherent tetryon beam.”

 “Crap.”  Tom had just gotten up from the helm.  He quickly took his position again when he heard Chakotay’s words.  They knew what was coming next.

 “There’s a massive displacement wave head for us!” Ayala said.

 “I can’t out run it!” Tom said.

 “Brace for impact!”  The Liberty was struck by the displacement wave and thrown to a far corner of the galaxy.

Three days later Captain Kathryn Janeway was seated on the bridge of Voyager.  They had received information from the Cardassians that they had destroyed the Liberty in the Badlands but they had not found any debris so Starfleet had sent Voyager to do some digging.  What they didn’t was that the entity was still taking ships from the badlands.  Janeway had met with Admiral Nacheyev a few days earlier when she was given her mission.  

 “Your mission would probably be easier if we had someone that knew of the whereabouts of the Liberty but unfortunately we don’t.”

 “Tom Paris isn’t willing to help?”  asked Janeway.  She hadn’t heard about the last encounter that Tom Paris had with the Enterprise crew.  

 “No, wasn’t feeling very co-operative.”  She said remembering the report she had read about that particular mission.

 “Would you have done differently than he did?” Janeway asked.  At Nacheyev’s startled look Janeway went on.  “The last time I asked you about Tom Paris you walked away and said: ‘I can’t say that I would have done differently than he did.’” She quoted Nacheyev’s words.

 “Oh,” said Nacheyev, remembering. “I don’t know what all the circumstances where but I do know that Starfleet lost a great officer and the Federation lost and even better man.”  Before Janeway could inquire any further she was dismissed.  As she took her leave Nacheyev remembered Tom’ words that day of his court-martial.  She shook her head regretting the actions of her and her colleagues.  They had made a man with such strong ethics choose between the lives of people and his career; there was no contest in which he considered more valuable.  He had been right in the end.  The people that he had warned prepared themselves and managed to deter species 960743 with few casualties.  The people had thanked Starfleet for warning them.  In the end Starfleet took credit for warning those people and punished the person who really deserved their thanks. She ran and hand over her face his words still haunting her. 

 ‘I didn’t kill them, you did’

To Janeway’s left sat commander Cavit, her first officer, at the helm was Lt. Stadi, at Ops was Ensign Kim and at tactical was Lt. Tuvok.  They crew had only been together for a few months.  They had been assigned mostly to investigate certain claims that the Crdassians made and to defend colonies from the Maquis.

They had just entered the Badlands when it began

 “Captain, we’re being scanned…


I hope you liked it.  
Send your comments to zappyzaps@hotmail.com  
Please!  I really like to get emails!  I’ll be writing a sequel for this story, but it will probably not be as long as this story.  Hopefully it won’t take as long as it took to write this story.  It will answer some questions that you may have though.