Disclaimer: All the Star Trek characters are Paramount’s. I don’t own them (yet). ;)
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Author’s note: And now back to my favourite genre! Drama/Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe!! Mwa-ha ha ha haaa!! :) ((=/=)) marks flashbacks, beginning and end.
Tom scrambled to find the communication device on his uniform. Hopefully it hadn’t been damaged during his interrogation. He found what he was looking for and pressed the small button so that he could respond.
“Tom, if you can hear me, respond,” Harry pleaded.
“I’m here,” Tom said.
On the other side of the transmission Harry smiled when he heard Tom’s voice. It sounded different, weaker, but at least he was alive. They weren’t too late.
“Tom, are you alright?” Captain Janeway asked. There was a pause before a response came.
Janeway didn’t like the sound of that response. “Hold on Tom. We’re coming for you.”
“Don’t,” Tom interrupted. “No offence intended, but not even Voyager stands a chance against a dozen Kazon ships. They may not be the smartest of people but collectively they have an army and…about half a brain.”
“Who are you talking to?” A guard yelled through the door when he heard Tom.
“My imaginary friend,” Tom scoffed. The guard stayed there for a few seconds before walking away. “Those would be my gracious hosts.” Tom informed.
Suddenly static came over the channel and Tom’s last words were garbled. Janeway looked to Ensign Kim wondering what was happening.
“I’m loosing the signal,” Harry said as he tried to boost the confinement.
“Tom, can you hear me?” Janeway asked. There was a response but it was unintelligible. “Hold on Tom. We’ll get you back.”
“The transmissions been lost,” Harry announced.
“What happened,” Chakotay inquired as he joined Harry at his station.
“I’m not sure. We encountered some sort of interference and it dispersed our signal.”
“Look into it,” Janeway ordered. Harry nodded and continued with his work. “Commander.” Janeway gestured for Chakotay to follow her to the Ready Room. The doors slid shut separating the two officers form the bridge.
There was a moment of silence as Janeway collected her thoughts. Chakotay’s response to her question will either ease her worries or heighten them.
“Do you think she’ll kill him?” Janeway asked and Chakotay knew to whom the Captain was referring to.
“I don’t know.” Chakotay looked down at the floor. “I don’t really know her. I thought I did but….Cardassian?” Words failed him. How could someone he had been so close to be the enemy?
“Don’t blame yourself Chakotay. Nobody suspected her.”
Chakotay shook his head. “Sobey suspected her and so did Tom.” The room was quiet for a few seconds as they both berated themselves for letting Seska deceive them. “Anyway, regarding Tom,” Chakotay began knowing he could continue his self-recrimination himself later, “he’ll no doubt be uncooperative and the Kazon won’t be patient with him.”
“Torture,” Janeway stated.
“I’m thinking the same thing.”
“Cardassians are well versed in those areas.” Janeway couldn’t help remembering what had happened to Owen. She couldn’t let that happen to his son as well.
“I don’t think Tom will break all that easily but his body can only stand so much,” Chakotay said. “If they don’t get impatient and just kill him then what ever they’re doing to him likely will.”
“Somehow we have to find a way to get him out.” Janeway tried to think of something but she was at a loss.
“Has Neelix found anybody willing to help us?”
Janeway shook her head. “No one. But Neelix has found reason why. It seems the Kazon had gone around looking for information on Tom. Nobody is willing to go against the Kazon.”
“Then we’ll have to do it ourselves,” Chakotay said with determination.
“Easier said than done.”
“Well,” Torres asked impatiently.
“There was a solar flare in a system along the transmission path and the particles released interfered with the transmission,” Harry said as he analysed the sensor readings.
“How long will its effects last?” Torres asked.
“The effects of that particular flare have already passed, but there have been more. That star must be going through some internal changes,” Harry hypothesized.
“So basically our one chance to contact Tom has been terminated.”
“We’d have to move around the star but those areas are hostile and we can’t risked it.”
“There has to be something we can do!”
“Back to the database,” Harry said as he left his station. B’Elanna followed.
Early the next day Tom was being given some special treatment by Cullah’s thugs. Hardly able to move, Tom was defenceless against the blows and had not choice but to weather each one as it came.
“That’s enough for now,” Tierna, one of Cullah’s officers said. The other Kazon filed out of the room. “We’ll be back later. You should be more talkative then.” Teirna said to Tom, although he wasn’t sure the prisoner was still conscious. Teirna left and Tom was once again alone.
His hand had been bound above his head again and more blood was running down his arms. His feet however were not shackled. He could hardly stand so the guards didn’t think that they needed to secure his feet.
He dangled there for and unknown period of time. How many days had passed, he wondered when his mind could form a coherent thought. How many more days until they finally killed him?
The doors opened again providing more illumination to the dim room. Three figures entered and the door was shut behind them. Tom didn’t have the strength to lift his head and look at them but he could see there feet. He recognized the small slender feet of Seska and tensed with the anticipation of what she was going to do next.
“I’m tired of this Paris. Your father was so much easier to break. He’d be clawing at his own flesh right now.” Seska tried to get some sort of reaction from him but Tom remained motionless. “I can make this all stop Tom. Just tell us them what they want to hear.”
“What’s that? That their breath isn’t really that bad,” Tom mumbled. Seska backhanded him. “Maybe not.”
“I see you want to be difficult.”
“I can only be me.”
Seska didn’t waste anymore time. She held out her hand to one of her escorts and he placed a syringe on her palm. “I’ve scoured the Kazon database and found this. On its own, it’s virtually harmless but mixed with the many chemicals already floating in your body….well, let’s just say you’ll wish for deathto claim you, if you haven’t already.” She stepped closer to Tom and plunged the needle in his neck. She emptied the contents of the needle into Tom and almost immediately he felt it.
He let out a blood curdling scream, the likes of they had never heard. It didn’t end until he ran out of breath and even then he remained frozen in agony. His eyes closed in pain and his mouth open but producing no sound.
“I’ll leave you to enjoy the sensation.” Seska gave Tom one last look before exiting.
A few seconds later Tom’s body relaxed although the pain was still there as bad as ever and it seemed to be getting worse. His chest heaved, his body craving oxygen and through the gasps he croaked a broken plea for mercy.
“Make it stop….”
Harry flipped a data-chip in his hand idly while he waited for the Captain to arrive at Tom’s quarters. He had noticed the datachip with ‘2 KIM’ marked on it laying on the floor near the desk. It had probably fallen off the desk during the battle with the Kazon. Harry wondered what was it. He hadn’t gathered the nerve to see what Tom had put on it. In the meantime he had found some information on Tom’s database that he thought the Captain should know about.
“Ensign Kim,” Janeway greeted as she entered the room, “What is it that you wanted me to see?”
“This,” Harry said and he pressed a button on the desk terminal. The screen changed to display a symbol that Janeway thought she recognized but couldn’t place. A second later the screen changed again.
‘Elite Tactical Fleet’ was printed across the top of the document.
“Much of the document is still encrypted but from what I’ve managed to decode, Tom is a member of this organization, though I don’t know what they do,” said Kim.
Kathryn examined the file trying to put the pieces together, but not all of them fit. This bit of information helped to explain a few things but not everything. “Is there any more?” she inquired.
“No, the rest is more heavily encoded. What do you think all this is about?” the young officer asked.
“I’m not sure,” Janeway said softly before leaving.
Harry browsed the document once more before closing it and continuing his search for something to help free Tom. Nearly an hour later his efforts were rewarded. He practically ran from Tom’s quarters heading to engineering. He had to tell B’Elanna of his findings. They might have a chance to rescue Tom.
B’Elanna shook her head as she walked to another console to check the warp core. Harry followed behind her describing the information that he had found. He was hopeful that it would work but Torres was more realistic. The plan didn’t have a chance.
“Harry!” B’Elanna interrupted him. “I’m sorry but it can’t be done. It would require major modifications and we just don’t have the resources on Voyager. Not only that but the technology doesn’t even sound compatible with Starfleet systems.”
Harry stared at the carpeted floor looking more than a little crestfallen.
“Voyager’s systems are far to complex to add some experimental device to it.” She used a less harsh voice seeing that Harry was talking the news pretty badly. “We’ll think of something Harry, just be patient.” B’Elanna could hardly believe she was telling Harry to be patient. Usually it was somebody saying that to her.
“He’s running out of time,” Harry said stiffly. “We need to do something.” The frustration in his voice was unmistakeable. Harry regarded the crew that was working around them. They all seemed at ease. Had Tom’s presence been so easily forgotten? They had just spoken with him the day before.
“Harry?” B’Elanna, confused by Harry’s silence tried to get his attention.
Harry looked at B’Elanna. “Nobody seems to care anymore.”
B’Elanna looked at her staff and noticed what Harry had a moment ago. Turning back to Harry she found that he had taken his leave.
“I can’t let you do that, Ensign,”
“The matter is not up for debate,” Chakotay said.
“Just one shuttle-”
“Harry,” Chakotay stopped walking and faced the young officer, “It’s too dangerous.”
“Not half as dangerous as what Tom did to save us,” he argued.
“You’re needed at your post.” Chakotay started walking again and again Harry followed not knowing or caring where Chakotay was heading.
“No, I’m not. I won’t even be missed. It’s not a long trip. In a class two shuttle, going at maximum warp it’ll only take four days.”
“Three and a half,” Chakotay corrected. He was a pilot and was better acquainted with the shuttles. “One shuttle against many Kazon vessels; we wouldn’t stand a chance.”
Harry noted Chakotay’s use of ‘we’ rather than ‘you’. Maybe he wanted to take action as well.
“With a bit of luck, the Kazon won’t even see us,” Harry iterated.
“Luck won’t have anything to do with it,” a third person entered the conversation. Chakotay and Harry looked to the right and saw Lt. Torres standing there with a triumphant smirk on her face.
The senior staff was assembled half an hour later in the conference room. Janeway was hoping for some good news and she would not be disappointed.
Torres began the meeting and described what they had found. The information the Harry had found on Tom’s database had not been as radical as it sounded. Torres had taken a closer look at it and though she had been right about adding the device to Voyager and the incompatibility with Starfleet technology, she had overlooked a simpler craft: Neelix’s freighter.
“The stealth device Harry found should be compatible with the talaxian freighter, with a few modifications,” B’Elanna ended.
“How long would that take?” Janeway asked.
“With a full team working on it, about thirty-six hours,” Torres replied.
“There are numerous risks to consider,” Tuvok said. “There are no guarantees that the stealth device will work on Kazon sensors. It is a dangerous mission-” Torres was about to interrupt him but Tuvok went on, “-that will require the presence of the chief Tactical officer.”
There was an odd silence in the room. No one had expected Tuvok to offer his services to such a reckless mission but the Vulcan had surprised them all.
“Well, we have one volunteer,” Janeway said.
“Make that fourty,” Torres corrected. “The engineering staff wants to help too.” B’Elanna looked at Harry telling him with her eyes that Tom hadn’t been forgotten. “We’ll need to add transporters and an auxiliary power system to the freighter.” Torres said addressing the entire group.
“Replicate what you need,” Janeway gave her approval. A smile crept on her face. Finally they were doing something. Now they had to create a plan of action.
“When we get to the Kazon ship we’ll scan for human-life signs.” Chakotay said.
“No, we have to scan for Fieran biosigns,” Torres said.
“Scan for a hybrid biosign,” Janeway corrected both of them. She had assumed that they, at least, knew of Tom’s mixed heritage.
“Mother’s Fieran; father’s human,” Harry added. Everyone looked at him wondering how he knew. “Tom told me,” he answered the unasked question.
“Anything else we should know?” Torres asked. “Like his real name. Paris or Corrin?”
“Both.” It was Janeway who answered this time. It was strange how they all knew a little bit about Tom but nobody knew everything. It would take all of them to put the puzzle together.
Five days later Neelix’s freighter, equipped with a stealth device, transporters, a new power system, and a few other pieces of hardware and software, arrived at the location of Cullah’s ship. The small crew consisted of Chakotay, Tuvok, Harry and Joe Carey and Ensign Wildman, who had some medical knowledge.
With the stealth cloak activated and engines running on the lowest mode they slipped into transporter range undetected.
“So far so good,” they heard Chakotay say on the bridge of Voyager. There was an open commline between the freighter and Voyager. On the bridge Captain Janeway listened carefully to what was occurring. At the engineering station B’Elanna impatiently did the same. She wanted to be on the freighter but it was decided the Joe should go and B’Elanna should stay on Voyager.
“Harry scan for Tom’s biosign,” Chakotay ordered.
“Scanning….” Everybody was tense for the next few seconds. Were they too late? Had they killed Tom already?
“I can’t find him.” Harry said in confusion as he conducted the scan again.
“Are you sure?” Janeway asked standing.
“No lifesigns matching Tom’s,” Harry said slowly, hardly believing the results but they were right in front of him.
There was silence on the freighter and silence on the bridge as their worst fear became reality. Thirteen days with the Kazon was too much and they were too late.
End Part 12
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