Disclaimer: All the Star Trek characters are Paramount’s. I don’t own them (yet). ;)
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Author’s note: Commbadge symbols ((=/=)) mark flashbacks at the beginning and end. And now back to my favourite genre! Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe!! Mwa-ha ha ha haaa!! J
The streets were nearly deserted, the dense fog not making it a good night to hit the town especially not in this area of Marseille, France. The bar would still be open though. Sandrine’s was always open for him, at least that what she had told him.
He entered the small establishment and made his way towards the bar. It was a slow night for sure. The pool table was empty only four other people were in the bar. A couple sitting at a table enjoying the evening, at the bar was an older man and behind the bar was Sandrine, the wise woman who ran the quaint little tavern.
“Thomas,” she said with a thick French accident. With a smile she rounded the bar and gave him a hug, which he returned in full. “It has been so long cher.” She looked up at him trying to note any changes. He looked the same to her, a lost little boy.
“A year and a half,” Tom said. He noticed the man at the bar turn his head slightly to glance at him before going back to his drink. The brief glimpse he got of the man’s profile conjured up a memory and he paused for a moment.
“Something wrong?” Sandrine asked him. Tom shook his head.
“No, nothing,” his gaze still rested on the man at the bar.
“Come,” Sandrine said and led him to the bar. Tom made himself comfortable on a stool while Sandrine walked to the other side and got him his usual beverage. Tom glanced at the middle-aged man at his right. Why was he so familiar?
“Here you are Thomas,” Sandrine said and handed him a glass of red wine from her personal collection. Tom smiled his thanks at her and out of the corner of his eye he noticed the other man look at him.
For a few minutes Tom sipped at his wine while he and Sandrine talked; mostly about her and what she had been doing. Tom kept his life private, only telling her some details. Not that he didn’t trust her but rather he couldn’t put her in danger by giving her information that might be sensitive.
Tom noticed that the man next to him would look over at him whenever Sandrine said his name. It usually wouldn’t have bothered Tom as much as it did but there was a little voice in the back of his mind whispering something to him about this man that he couldn’t quite understand. What was the connection?
Feeling another pair of eyes on him Tom looked up from his glass and saw Sandrine’s blue gaze on him. He looked at her questioningly.
“Sometime what you’re looking for is right in front of you,” Sandrine said cryptically. She moved closer to him and whispered, “or right of you.” Sandrine went to the check on the couple at the table leaving the two men alone.
His blonde hair was turning grey and he was nearly bald on top. The facial features were familiar and after a few moments of contemplation Tom decided to take a chance. He had an idea who this man might be. All he had to do was ask.
“Admiral Paris,” Tom said looking over at him.
Slightly startled the older man looked at Tom. The Admiral had not expected anybody to recognize him here. “Yes.” Owen confirmed his identity to the strangely familiar young man.
Tom swallowed a lump in his throat and tried to clear his head. The word ‘dad’ was on the tip of his tongue but he held back and stayed silent.
“Do I know you?” Admiral Paris asked carefully examining Tom’s face.
“Once, a long time ago,” Tom said in a hushed voice.
“Sounds like the beginning of a fairytale,” Owen said.
“Or the beginning of a nightmare,” Tom said quietly. The two men were silent for a moment. Owen was still trying to figure out where he had seen this man before and Tom was trying to decide what to say next. What is he supposed to say to the father he never really got to know?
“You have a son,” Tom said staring at the liquid in his glass.
Owen turned his head to look at the man wondering how he knew. “You know him?” Owen asked a touch of emotion entering the usually controlled voice.
Tom swallowed. What should he say? Hi Dad, it’s been a while –not likely.
“Do you know my son?” Owen asked again when the real question he wanted to ask was: ‘Are you my son?’
“He wants you to know that….that he misses you,” Tom said, carefully controlling his voice.
Owen looked down at the small glass he clutched in his hand. Emotion after emotion went through him and he couldn’t control himself. A tear escaped his tightly closed eyes. His son….missed him.
Hearing the sound of the metal legs of the barstool moving across the wood floor, Owen realised that the young man next to him was leaving. He quickly turned to him.
“Please, could you give him a message for me?” Owen asked hopefully. Tom nodded after a few seconds. “Tell him, I’m sorry and that I miss him too.”
Seeing the pained look in the older man’s eyes Tom nodded. He would have agreed to just about anything to make his father happy.
“Thank you,” Owen said to the blonde stranger. He looked back at his glass
“You’re welcome.” Tom said with a genuine smile.
The voice brought back a memory. ‘You’re welcome, Daddy.’ Little Tommy stared up at his father with a smile, glad that he had been able to help. “You’re welcome.” The voice of the tall stranger. He sounded different when he smiled, when he wasn’t so guarded.
“Tommy?” said Owen and looked to where the man had been standing only a moment earlier but he was gone. Owen frantically looked around the bar. He got off the bar stool so quickly it fell over and ran the short distance to the exit. “Tommy!” he cried.
The night air was cold against his skin and the fog limited his vision. “Tommy!” he called again but there was no response. The streets were deserted and silent, no sign of the man he now believed was his son.
He could hear the voice calling his name but he didn’t stop walking. He couldn’t go back and face his father. Not yet, maybe not ever.
“That was six years ago,” Tom said quietly. On the couch of Tom’s quarters sat his rapt audience.
“You haven’t seen him since then?” Janeway asked. For the last several minutes she had been listening to Tom recount the event.
Shaking his head Tom answered her. “No. Well, I saw him, from a distance a couple of time after that but never spoken to him.” A humourless laugh left him. “It was one of the best and one of the worst nights of my life. I don’t suppose that makes any sense.” Tom said looking at the grey carpet.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
“Charles Dickens,” Tom said still looking down. “He read that to me, but we never got a chance to finish it.”
Janeway smiled slightly and was about to say something more when her commbadge chirped and the first officer called her to the bridge.
She arrived on the bridge a few moments later. Chakotay walked over to her. “You were late,” he said with a hint of a smile. She returned it briefly. “Bad timing?” Chakotay asked wondering if he had interrupted something important. Janeway nodded for him to follow her to the ready room.
“Are you sure it’s him?” Chakotay asked sceptically.
“Yes,” Janeway said confidently.
Chakotay looked at his Captain for a few minutes trying to interpret her expression. He didn’t want her to get wrapped up in solving who Tom Corrin was only to be disappointed. “Then were has he been? Where’s his mother-”
“Dead,” Janeway said piercing him with a sharp look. “It’s him Chakotay,” Kathryn said her expression softening a bit.
He was silent for a moment before speaking. “So what are you going to do now?”
Kathryn sat down in behind her desk. “I don’t know. I don’t want to drop him off a that planet but we have no grounds to keep him here.”
“You want to reunite father and son,” Chakotay said and sat in a chair across from Janeway.
“Captain Paris changed after his capture by the Cardassians but he lost a piece of himself when he lost his son and to this day, Admiral Paris is still pained by that memory,” Janeway tried to explain. “Maybe it would give him a sense of closure to know that Tommy is alright.”
“Is it set?” Cullah asked from a side room in his ship.
“Everything’s ready,” Seska replied. “Tomorrow you’ll have Paris.”
“I better, or else I’ll have your head.” He threatened and then ended the transmission leaving Seska to stew over his words.
“Again?” Tom questioned as his program alerted him that another secret transmission had been made. “Let’s see if we can trace this one,” Tom said as he started entering commands into his computer terminal.
Tom worked diligently at his computer trying to keep his mind off the conversation he had with the Captain earlier. She knew his father. Maybe he should ask her about him. No, better not to.
His efforts finally paid off and Tom was able to hear part of the message that was recorded by his program. Whatever was happening it was going down tomorrow and it looked like he was the prize. He still couldn’t figure out whom the Kazon were communicating with; he only had a hunch.
“Doctor to Paris,” the Doctor’s voice interrupted Tom’s work.
“What?” was the less than genial greeting.
“You’re late for you’re appointment in Sickbay, that’s what,” the Doctor responded.
“Some other time Doc. I’ve got some important business to attend to.”
“You’re health is important Mr. Paris,” the Doctor protested.
“Paris out.” Tom cut the link and left his quarters.
After hearing the Captain give him permission to enter Tom strode through the doors and entered the ready room where he found Captain Janeway speaking with Commander Chakotay.
“Captain I need to show you something,” Tom said and handed her a padd with the information he had collected on it. “Voyager’s got a leak.”
Twenty minutes later the senior Staff had assembled all wondering why the emergency meeting had been called. Janeway soon explained to them the information the Tom had given her. She handed out orders to her officers each to do their part in securing Voyager’s systems and finding the culprit.
“Captain,” Tom interrupted near the end of the meeting. “I have one thing to append to your plan.”
“I’ll need one of your shuttles and I won’t be bringing it back,” Tom said.
Kathryn quickly deciphered what he meant. “You still intend on leaving.”
“The Kazon are after me. I can lead them away from Voyager.” Tom explained.
“I can’t let you do that,” Captain Janeway said leaving no room for argument but Tom argued anyway.
“I don’t want or need your permission, Captain, just a shuttle.”
Kathryn, knowing this argument would not be resolved any time soon turned to the rest of her officers and dismissed them. They filed silently out of the room wondering if Tom had a death wish.
“Listen mister, I have a duty to protect everybody who lives on this ship, including you. Whether you like it or not.”
“I’ll have to chose not.”
There were a few seconds of tense silence before Tom spoke.
“I can take care of myself.”
“And what if we run into the Kazon again after you’re gone? They won’t stop at you. They’ll go after us too.”
“You’ll just have to ensure that never occurs,” Tom said confidently.
“Tom, I can’t let you take such risk. Besides we still owe you,” She said with half a smirk hoping to lighten the mood.
“You don’t owe me anything-”
“Then I owe your father. He’s done a lot for me and he deserves a chance to meet you.” Janeway hoped pushing on the subject of his father would sway his decision. “You can’t make it back to the Alpha Quadrant on your own.”
Tom looked away from her and to the stars that hung motionless against he black backdrop. There were too many conflicting emotions. What should he do?
“Do you really want to go?” Janeway asked softly.
After a moment Tom answered, his voice barely above a whisper, “No.”
Kathryn had noticed the friendship developing between Tom and Harry and the glances Tom and B’Elanna sometimes cast in the others direction. That was most likely the reason Tom was reluctant to go. “My offer still stands. There’s a place for you on this ship,” she pauses, “but it seems to me you’ve already found one.”
Ensign Kim’s voice over the comm. interrupts them. “Captain, with a modified long range scan we’ve located eight Kazon ship along our course.”
“Tell helm to adjust our course to avoid as many of them as possible,” Janeway ordered. “I’ll send Mr. Paris to help you in a few moments.”
“Aye Captain, Kim out.”
“I need to visit the Doctor for a few minutes.”
“Is something wrong?”
“No, I just need to ask him something.” Tom said as he started towards the exit. “I’ll report to the bridge when I’m done.”
Janeway nodded and left the briefing room. She had a ship to command.
“Doc?” Tom looked around sickbay looking for the Doctor. “Computer activate EMH,” he ordered realizing that the Doctor was probably wasn’t activated.
“I’m already on Mr. Paris,” the Doctor walked out from a secluded corner of Sickbay. “Come for your treatment?” the Doctor asked smugly thinking that he had won.
“No, I need to ask you something,” Tom started. “Have you noticed anything odd about Seska?”
“I don’t know of any crewmember by that name,” the Doctor said and walked over to check his records. After sifting through the names he turned back to Tom. “I have no medical record of any crewmember by the name of Seska.”
“Are you sure? She’s bajoran, dark hair, about this tall,” Tom gestured.
“I assure you Mr. Paris, I have not seen any crewmember of that name or description,” The Doctor said walking away from Tom to go back to what he was doing when another thought ran through his program. “I asked for all new crewmembers to report to me for a check up!” The Doctor turned around to continue his rant to Tom but found that sickbay was empty except for him.
Tom arrived on the bridge a few minutes later holding a data chip. He went directly to Ensign Kim who was working diligently at his station.
“Found anything interesting?” Tom asked.
“Not yet. Every time I think I may have found something it just disappears. I’ve run two diagnostics already but nothing appears to be wrong.”
“Phantom-files,” Tom said.
“You’ve come across something like this before?”
Tom nodded. Not only had he come across phantom-files, he’s made them on many occasions.
“May I?” Tom asked and Harry stepped aside to allow Tom to use the console. Inputting a few commands and transferring the data from his chip to the main system Tom used the protocol to partially decrypted and open his database. Access was still restricted only to Tom but with enough time and effort and good engineer or computer technician could get into some of it.
‘Access Denied,’ the computer’s voice sounded.
“Computer, Verify: F-T-X 0196-Tom-12”
‘Verified. Access granted.’
“What are you doing?” Harry asked curiously.
“I have a couple of tricks that will find those elusive files,” Tom answered.
Tom left Harry to work the program and try to get those files while he went to ask Tuvok something.
“Tuvok you served with Seska on the Liberty,” Tom started, “did you ever notice anything odd about her?”
“No, however, during our capture by the Kazon she was often seen conversing with Kazon guards and also received special treatment from the guards,” Tuvok stated.
“Do you think she was helping them,”
“I have not evidence to support such a theory,” Tuvok said and went back to work. Tom surreptitiously rolled his eyes. He should have known better than to ask for an opinion from a Vulcan.
From the edge of his vision Tom noticed Harry moving away from his console and towards the turbolift.
“Something wrong Harry?” Tom asked wondering why the young Ensign was leaving his station.
“Just a small glitch in the computer system that’s impairing my search.” He said pausing before he went into the small alcove to the turbolift. “It must have been overlooked by the computer technicians during repairs. I’ll have it fixed in no time.” Harry walked out of sight leaving Tom to wonder exactly what glitch Harry had discovered.
Ensign Kim walked through the corridor of deck seven of Voyager. His destination was the brain of Voyager, the computer core. Harry paid little attention to his surroundings as he went, his mind focused on the procedure he would take in order to isolate and fix the computer error.
The computer core was vital to the ship and any modifications he made could have adverse effects throughout the ship.
He entered the somewhat cramped room. The lighting was low and the consoled and computer memory structures cast awkward shadows in the room making it seem dull. Harry walked directly to the nearest maintenance console and as he logged, he noticed something. He wasn't alone. According to the log there was another person in the room, but it didn’t say who.
Turning around Harry looked around the room. He didn’t see anybody but there were several shadowed corners and alcoves that could be obscuring his vision and he thought little of it.
On the bridge Tom was at Harry’s console reviewing Harry’s findings. He came across the same glitch that Harry had but Tom was suspicious. He had run a program like the one he had given to Harry before and had never come across this error.
Utilizing another of his ‘tricks’ Tom was able to better isolate the error. It was man made, and it was new. According to the ship’s logs it had only been created twenty-four minutes ago, the same time the Captain instructed the helm to change course to avoid the Kazon. Whoever was doing this was well aware of what was occurring on the ship.
“Tom to Kim.” Tom waited for a response but got nothing. “Bridge to Ensign Kim, please respond.” Still there was not response. Tom followed Harry’s earlier path and headed for the lift. “Computer, location of Ensign Kim.”
‘Ensign Kim is in the main computer core.’
Tuvok watched in slight confusion as Tom darted from the bridge. He had heard Tom try to contact Ensign Kim and was also curious as to the reason there had not been a response. “Tuvok to Kim,” he tried to contact the Ensign thinking that the computer error may have disrupted Tom’s transmission but Harry did not respond.
Using internal sensors Tuvok scanned the area of the main computer core and found that there were two comm. signals coming from the area, Ensign Seska’s and Ensign Kim’s.
End Part 9
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