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Author’s note: Lucky number thirteen! And now back to my favourite genre! Drama/Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe!! Mwa-ha ha ha haaa!! ‘((=/=))’ marks flashbacks, beginning and end.
“That can’t be,” B’Elanna said in disbelief. “Run the scan again!”
“I did!” Harry said tersely. “He’s not there!”
“Commander, pull out. Come back to Voyager.” Janeway ordered sadly.
Chakotay sighed silently before responding, “Aye, Captain. Chakotay out.” The line closed and for several seconds on both ends of the channel nobody spoke.
Captain Janeway slowly walked back to her seat and sat down heavily. ‘Too late’, the words repeated over and over again in her mind. Guilt washed over her. It had been her decision to retreat when the Kazon had first abducted Tom and hence it was her fault he was dead.
Suddenly a loud bang was heard on the bridge. Looking towards the source of the sound they saw B’Elanna’s fist on the engineering console no doubt that’s where the sound had emanated from. B’Elanna noticed the eyes on her.
“Excuse me,” B’Elanna said not sounding at all apologetic. She got up and left the bridge.
On the freighter Chakotay piloted the shuttle away from the Kazon ship though he paid little attention to what he was doing. His thoughts were occupied with the man they now presumed was dead. He and Paris/Corrin weren’t close but loosing any crewmember was difficult especially when they had done so much for the crew. Now that debt could never be repaid. Chakotay looked over and Harry who stared blankly at his console and wondered what was going through the Ensign’s mind.
‘We waited to long’. ‘If I had worked harder…’. ‘I failed him, I failed a friend,’. These and other such thoughts ran through Harry’s head. The guilt was nearly tangible and he had to do something. He couldn’t give up yet, not yet.
The sudden motion from the previously still man caught the attention of all on board. Chakotay put the freighter on auto-pilot and turned to Harry ready to unleash on him the reality of the situation. Before he could say a word Harry spoke to him.
“We can’t give up yet. Maybe he….” Harry tried to come up with an explanation but he couldn’t formulate one. He shook his head. “I don’t know but we have to keep trying.”
Ensign Wildman was the first one to speak. “What are you doing?” She asked hoping to offer her assistance.
“We contacted Tom once with the transmission unit, if he’s alive … maybe he still has it with him.” Harry said.
“I’ll work on the deflector array,” Sam volunteered.
“I’ll help you,” Joe Carey offered.
“There are four habitable planets in this system and the next. If he escaped maybe he went there,” Chakotay said. For the time being he was willing to be optimistic. He started scanning the planets.
For a few moments Tuvok watched the humans work thinking that the chance Mr. Corrin was still alive was minimal but he should make himself useful. Mr. Corrin was still part of the Voyager crew and deserved that every effort be made for his safe return.
Chakotay noticed Tuvok start working and with a slight smile looked over at the Vulcan. Tuvok noticed the Chakotay’s scrutiny and felt compelled to respond.
“I believe the Terran expression is ‘When in Rome…’”
Chakotay shook his head and went back to work.
Many minutes later Harry, Joe and Sam had finished their work and were ready to transmit a message; they just needed to know where to aim it.
“I’ve detected a faint ion trail leading to the M-class moon of the second planet in this system,” Tuvok said.
“Lifesigns?” Harry asked hopefully.
Chakotay fielded that question. “I can’t be sure. There’s a lot of atmospheric interference. Looks like a bad storm. Still, it’s a start.”
Harry agreed and took a seat at his station. With a hopeful heart he transmitted a short message on the frequency they had used on Voyager to contact Tom the first time. Then they waited.
Heavy rain blanketed the region and the thunder roared so loudly that even the mountains trembled. The canopy of thick leaves and branches was marred by a path of destruction where the greens had been burnt and broken by the moon’s extraterrestrial visitor. Even with the heavy rain the mangled metal of the wreckage still smoked and burnt.
Not twenty meters away from the crash site, a form lay on the ground. Covered in filth he was hardly distinguishable from the detritus that surrounded him. The rain landed on his back and soaked his clothes but still he did not move. The rains cooled his body relieving the fever that had been attacking him for the past four days.
For hours the rain persisted and the thunder and lightening kept the creatures of this world in there dens while he lay on the grounds, the drops washing away some of the dirt and exposing his true form.
A faint sound interrupted the symphony of thunder, wind and rain.
“Tom, are you there? If you can here me please respond.”
With supreme effort he moved his hand to the device to respond but that was all he managed to do. That task had been too much and drained the last of his strength. He could still here Harry’s voice as he slipped into unconsciousness.
“Tom, please respond….
“Tom please respond. This is Harry Kim.” It had been nearly ten minutes and they had not received and response. Chakotay was about to tell Kim to give up when without warning a loud noise was heard over the channel. It quieted quickly and only a light sound followed. The occupants of the shuttle looked at each other wondering what that was.
Again the loud sound punctuated the silence and Chakotay recognized it.
“Thunder,” he said as he turned the ship towards the moon.
Meanwhile back on the Kazon ship Seska was furious.
“He was knocking at death’s door. He couldn’t lift a finger and still, you morons let him escape!” She screamed.
“I….I don’t know what happened.” One guard said as he was coming to.
“He couldn’t have gotten far. Find him or I’ll see that you take his place!” Seska regarded each man with the same cold glare as they stared at her with fear in their eyes knowing that she could easily make good on her threat. “What are you waiting for? Find him!” The guards scattered fearing for their lives, some even contemplated not returning.
“Idiots,” she said to herself before turning to Maj Cullah. “You have a crew of idiots.” She went to walk past him but Cullah gripped her arm and kept her from moving.
“Maybe so, but I am the one in command of them and you. Make sure you know your place.”
Seska’s countenance seemed to soften as she replied to the burly Kazon male. “Of course maj.”
Cullah stared at her for a few moments before releasing her arm. “Don’t you have prisoner to find?” Seska only nodded in response and quickly left the area.
As she rounded the first corner her expression hardened again. She didn’t like taking orders from Cullah but she had little choice in the matter. She ran a hand over her face feeling the more familiar Cardassian features starting to reassert themselves. She had begun to restore her Cardassain genes and would soon look like her old self.
“Chakotay to Voyager,”
“Lt. Rawlins here, sir,”
“Lieutenant inform the Captain that we’re taking a detour to one of the moons of this system. I’m sending you the co-ordinates.”
“Yes sir. If I may ask, what’s there?” Rawlins inquired hoping that he wasn’t over stepping his bounds.
“Possibly our missing crewman. Chakotay out.”
Rawlins tapped his commbadge to call the Captain. He had some good news.
Tuvok, Sam and Harry beamed to the surface of the planet close to where they believed Tom was. Dressed in waterproof attire they followed were their tricorders indicated wreckage was located. They soon found the small craft, or what was left of it. The hatch was open about halfway. It looked like it had been forced ajar by the twisting of the metal at the junction.
Harry aimed his tricorder at the craft. According to the readings there were toxic gases lingering in the air and judging by the current concentrations there must have been ten times more at the time of the crash. Could Tom have survived that? According to the tricorder there were no life-signs coming from in side.
Harry looked to his compatriots and shook his head. They looked around the area hoping that Tom had made it out. The rain and the darkness obscured their vision somewhat but they did not relent.
“Lieutenant! Ensign!” Sam yelled over the noise. “I found him!” Harry and Tuvok immediately joined her and true to her word there was Tom laying on his front, soaked in rain. Tuvok removed his water proof jacket and lay it over Tom hoping to shield the man from the elements while Sam scanned him with the medical tricorder and frowned at the results.
“We’ll set up the pattern enhancers,” Harry said.
“Alright, but I need to try and stabilize him before transport,” Sam said absently as she fished out a hypospray and a vial of medication.
“How is he?” Harry asked hoping Tom was in better condition than he looked. Sam just shook her head. Harry didn’t move. Was he dying? Was he already dead?
“Ensign,” Tuvok called shaking Harry form his morbid thoughts. They went to work setting up the enhancers so they could be transported off the planet. Coming down hadn’t been a problem but the only way they could get through the electrical interference was with the pattern enhancers.
“Ready?” Harry asked when he and Tuvok had finished their task. Sam nodded. The drug she had given Tom didn’t seem to be working but she couldn’t do anything more for him here.
“Tuvok to Chakotay, four to beam up.”
In the ready room Captain Janeway was talking to her second in command over the commline to the freighter. She had been informed by Lt. Rawlins that the away team may have found Tom and five minutes ago it was confirmed.
“How is he?” Janeway asked.
Chakotay looked down for a moment before looking back at his hopeful Captain and delivering the bad news. “Not good. Not only is he running a high fever, suffering for malnutrition and dehydration but he sustained several injuries from his time with the Kazon and the crash of the escape pod and there are several foreign agents throughout his body that are hindering every attempt Ensign Wildman makes to help him.”
Kathryn closed her eyes trying to contain the disappointment. They had gotten him back and now they may lose him again.
“They weren’t aware of our presence.” Chakotay said. That was one bit of good news he could give her.
“How long until you get back?” Kathryn asked.
“Check in every six hours. Do whatever you can. I’ll have the Doctor standing by,” Janeway said. Chakotay nodded his compliance and closed the link.
Three days slipped by and right on schedule the Talaxian freighter arrived back on Voyager. Tom and Ensign Wildman were transported directly to sickbay while the other’s brought in the freighter.
Captain Janeway arrived in Sickbay a few minutes after Tom had been transported off the freighter. When she entered, to her surprise, the room was not in the state of chaos that she had expected it to be. The Doctor was calmly giving orders as he examined the patient.
Kes briefly greeted her as she went to retrieve a medical instrument. The two assistants looked fairly frazzled but they kept their wits about them. Janeway moved closer to the main biobed and caught her first glimpse of Tom in over two weeks.
He was as white as snow and a sheen of perspiration covered his face. There was some evidence of bruising on his face but Ensign Wildman had healed the worst of it. Janeway momentarily relaxed, thinking that Tom was out of the woods. It was then that the Doctor cut open Tom’s shirt revealing the damage it had hidden.
Dried blood held the fabiric to Tom’s skin forcing the doctor to carefully peal away the clothing. As he did, some the wounds opened and more blood trickled onto the bed. Tom’s chest was a mess. Purples and black bruises covered almost every part of him and blood covered the rest. Janeway briefly glanced away, the sight being too horrific for her to stand for that moment.
“Doctor,” Janeway got the holograms attention.
The Doc glanced at her for half a second before going back to his patient. “Mr. Paris is in bad condition but for the time being he is stable.”
“His injuries?” Janeway asked.
“Several bruises, open wounds from various weapons some of which are infected, cuts around his wrist, twelve broken ribs, punctured diaphragm, concussion, burns, I won’t even get into the internal injuries. There are several chemicals in his blood and throughout his body causing him to run a high fever. I cannot identify them all but the remainder of them, are drugs known to be used for torture.”
Kathryn swallowed. She had been expecting Tom to be injured but not to this extent. The Kazon were more ruthless than she had imagined. “Will he recover?”
“I still have to further assess his injuries but with excellent medical care he will recover physically over time. Emotionally however will be another story.” The doctor didn’t slow in his tasks at all. He was a computer program and multi-tasking was just one of the many things he could easily do. “If the ship had a counsellor, I’d recommend several sessions with him or her but since we don’t….” the Doctor didn’t finish the rest of the sentence.
Kathryn knew that the emotional recovery would be the most difficult for Tom and compounded with his physical injuries it would only be harder. She remembered Captain Paris’ state of mind when he had been freed from the Cardassians. Totally silent one moment and the next his temper would flare for no apparent reason.
“Keep me informed,” the Captain said before she left sickbay. The Doctor didn’t look at her but nodded. Janeway cast a look at Tom’s inert form before walking to the exit. She paused outside the entrance to sickbay simply reflecting on what had happened to Tom. Hopefully Tom would fair better in the aftermath than Owen had.
“Come on, Doc. I just want to see him,” Harry said in exasperation. It had been four days since they had found Tom and no one except the Commander and the Captain have been able to see him. Whenever Harry enquired as to Tom’s condition the answer was always the same, ‘he’s revocering’. What the hell did that mean?
“I’m sorry Mr. Kim, but it’s best for the patient that he be given plenty of time to rest,” the doctor replied.
“Doctor out.” The hologram ended the transmission and Harry was left to wait patiently. What was wrong with Tom?
In sickbay the Doctor cast regretful look at his solitary patient. He could see him toss his head from side to side as unwanted images plagued his dreams. The Doctor walked to him and checked the vital signs. Nothing to distressing but there was no improvement either.
A temperature of forty degrees Celsius, when normal for someone of Tom’s physiology was thirty-six degrees. Forty degrees was an improvement over the forty-one point five that Tom had been suffering through three days earlier. Whatever Seska had given Tom was still in his system. The Doctor had tried unsuccessfully to remove the foreign agents but nothing had worked. He had discovered that the compounds broke down under gamma radiation but that was not an acceptable option. The toxins denature naturally as well, however, that is a much slower and thus more excruciating process, but there were no other options available to them.
Tom’s body tensed suddenly. The restraints around Tom’s wrists and ankle were at the breaking point but they held until the spasm had passed. The Doctor sighed and went to check that the straps around Tom’s wrist had not bruised him.
There were two sets of straps on each wrist. They didn’t want a repeat of what had happened the day before. During one of his fairly frequent delusions, Mr. Paris had managed to break the single strap that had been holding his left arm down and had nearly socked the poor Ensign that had been assisting the doctor that day. From then on they placed two sets on each arm and leg.
It was not pretty sight. Restrained to the biobed, often shivering despite his fever, and toxins and hallucinogens locking him in his perfect hell.
The lights were low and it was almost completely silent. In his office the Doctor tried to ignore the strangled cries that would leave his patient every so often. It shouldn’t have affected him so badly, being a hologram and all, but it did. He was powerless in his only function on the ship. He was supposed to ease suffering, heal the injured, cure the ill and in this instance he could do none of those for the man on the main biobed.
The bright light from the Doctor’s office cast strange shadows throughout the room. It outlined the other unoccupied biobeds, the instruments on their trays, even the texture of the carpet and the light glistened off the single tear that left the patient’s eye.
He again called out for an invisible person to help him, addressing them as “Heiya”. It was barely a whisper but the Doctor heard. A few minutes later Tom whispered again, “Heiya”.
It wasn’t English or Standard but the Doctor with his built in universal translator understood Fierran. He could only listen as Tom called heiya.…mother.
“Heiya? What does that mean?” Chakotay asked the Doctor who again ran tricorder over his unusually still patient. Tom whispered the word every so often.
“The direct translation is ‘the one who loved me and gave me life’, but it means ‘mother’.”
Chakotay wondered why Tom would be calling for his dead mother? What could be going on inside his head? “Has he asked for anybody else?” Chakotay asked.
The Doctor paused ant thought for a moment. “I believe I heard him say ‘Sal’ and ‘Kail’ on a few occasions but just those three. His mother, Kail and Sal, whoever they are.”
“When do you think he’ll wake up?”
“In a few hours likely. His neural functions are not as erratic. The concentration
of the chemicals has also decrease a little,” The Doctor explained.
“How do you think he’ll react to us?” Chakotay asked knowing that there were people who wanted to visit. Chakotay followed the Doctor as he walked to the main diagnostic console.
“Different people will react differently. I can’t say for certain but he’ll likely be withdrawn and moody.”
Chakotay noticed that the Doctor didn’t sound as frigid as he usually did. When he had walked in to Sickbay that morning to check up on Tom, the Doctor was in his office and by the looks of it, had been there all night. Listening to somebody suffer can change anybody but could the same happen to a hologram? Apparently so.
End Part 13
Still more coming! :) firstname.lastname@example.org
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