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Author’s note: And now back to my favourite genre! Drama/Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe!! Mwa-ha ha ha haaa!! J ((=/=)) marks flashbacks
“He’s too young to be here,” Sobey said unhappily. The two men next to him looked at him curiously.
“I think maybe you’re too young to be here.” The oldest of the trio said.
Sobey lapsed into silence and they went back to watching the combat exercise going on in front of them. In the combat area was young Tom Paris. He was only eighteen years old but was already a field agent. His age created some unrest among the other operatives who were reluctant to have Tom on their team during assignments but he had proved himself time and time again. He was a little head strong and only listened to a few people but he had more potential than most of the officers.
Tom was currently brushing up on his hand-to-hand combative skills. Kail had decided that Tom needed some more practice when observing him on one of the rare assignments they had together. In this exercise Tom was defending against multiple attackers and was doing an admirable job.
At the side Kail, Sobey and Pasel watched. Kail shook his head silently. This scenario wasn’t addressing Tom’s area of weakness. Tom rarely sustained a blow from these attackers but he returned from the assignment with several injuries.
The problem with Tom’s fighting technique was that he relied too much on seeing his opponents, knowing where they were and how many there were to defend against them. If a there was one person that joined the fight late, or that Tom didn’t see, his technique was nearly useless. He relied too much on seeing and tended to ignore other warnings that couldn’t be seen. In this exercise however Tom was able to see all of his assailants and could defend against them with ease.
Sobey also knew of Tom’s weakness and decided to teach him a lesson. He picked up a wooden staff and stepped onto the combat floor. Kail and Pasel watched silently, knowing what Sobey intended to do. It wouldn’t be pretty but Tom would learn the lesson.
Tom had his back to Sobey as he entered the combat area. Had Tom been paying closer attention to his other senses he may have heard Sobey approaching or felt the footsteps but he didn’t and thus could not defend against the attack.
Gripping one end of the staff with both hands, Sobey raised the wooden weapon and brought it down on Tom’s back with as much force as he could supply. The blow broke the staff into pieces and Tom briefly cried out when the staff connected with his back.
Tom fell to his knees but managed to remain upright despite the pain. Looking over his shoulder Tom saw Sobey standing over him. Blue locked with black and the air between them froze with the tension.
“You son-of-a-bitch,” Tom hissed as he got up.
Sobey studied the handle of the broken weapon in his hand before dropping it carelessly on the floor. “Tell me, did that hurt?” He asked, not a note of concern in his voice.
“Let me show you!” Tom said as he lunged for Sobey. Sobey was ready to defend.
“Enough!” Pasel yelled and both young men stopped. Despite their aversion towards each other they both deeply respected Pasel. “Sal, Thomas, this is unnecessary and I won’t watch you tear each other apart for no reason.”
“I have a perfect reason,” Sobey protested. “Thomas doesn’t belong here.”
Tom glared at Sobey for several moments and the room was silent as everyone waited for his reaction. Tom stepped closer to Sobey and looked into his eyes.
“I’ve heard those words often and from many people since I was four years old.” He said with quiet anger. “I didn’t listen them and I won’t listen to you.” A few seconds later Tom walked away leaving a stunned group of onlookers. All except two had been expecting a massive battle between Sobey and Tom. Kail and Pasel had known otherwise.
Tom silently left the room, ignoring the looks. A few moments later Kail followed him.
“You’re dismissed!” Pasel informed the other officers. The others started to clear the area but Sobey didn’t move knowing that Pasel had something to say to him. The old betazoid walked over to the younger one.
“Sal, you’ve hurt him but he won’t let it show.” Pasel enlightened.
“I didn’t sense anything from him,” Sobey said and only now realized how strange that was. From most people he could feel something due to his telepathic and empathic abilities but from Tom there was nothing.
“You have to look harder. He only lets you see what you want to see, nothing more and nothing less.” Pasel started towards the exit. “I’ve tried.”
“Tried what?” Sobey jogged to catch up with the older man.
“I tried to know him. There is a great pain in him that he keeps hidden, even from himself and nothing I did, nothing I said could unlock that secret. I can’t do anymore.”
Sobey was understandably confused but Pasel didn’t attempt to explain.
“One day you’ll be in my position. How do humans put it? So close yet so far away.”
“Don’t trouble yourself trying to understand.” Pasel said he stopped walking and faced his son. “When the time comes you’ll understand.” Pasel smiled softly and lay a hand on his son’s shoulder.
A year and a half later….
Tom walked to Sobey’s quarters in the building. Sobey hadn’t shown up for the training that day and Kail had sent Tom to check up on the betazoid. Sobey and Tom were still not the best of friends but Kail still held some belief that they could be friends if they worked past the initial hostilities. Tom rolled his eyes at the thought. He and Sobey agreed on little. The one place where their feelings had been similar had passed on a few weeks ago.
Pasel, Sobey’s father was dead. Old age had finally taken its toll and he died peacefully in his sleep. Sobey was still grieving the loss of his father and Tom could understand his heartache. He had gone through the same thing when his mother had died.
Memories of the night Merra had died crept up on Tom but he ignored them and continued towards Sobey’s quarters. Just the brief memory of her passing was enough to make his eyes water as he remembered the fear, the sorrow and the isolation. At least Pasel passed peacefully, though Tom knew that would come as little consolation for Sobey.
Tom rang the chime and waited for a response. There was nothing so he rang it again.
“Go away,” Tom heard Sobey say. Tom decided to do just the opposite.
“What is wrong with you?” Sobey said angrily as he watched Tom walk into his private domain. “Didn’t you here me?” Sobey was seated in a chair facing the window. He stared heavenward where no star could be seen through the clouded sky.
“Yes, I did.”
“Then get out!” Sobey yelled.
“You can’t order me around,” Tom reminded in an annoying manner.
Sobey regarded Tom for a few moments before looking away.
“It’ll hurt for a long time,” Tom said as he sat down backwards on the chair, his arms resting on the backrest.
“How would you know?” Sobey asked.
“Experience,” was the reply.
“You’ve lost someone?” Sobey said and Tom nodded silently. “It’ll never stop.” Sobey said sorrowfully.
“Some days will be better than other. On a good day you’ll be able to think of him and smile. As time goes on those good days will become more frequent.” Tom wasn’t really speaking from experience here, for him the ‘more frequent good days’ was reality he hoped he could someday experience.
There was silence in the room for a few minutes as Sobey tried to reconcile with Tom’s words. How many good days had he had in the past weeks. Another thought occurred to Sobey, how many good days had Tom had in the past years.
“Your mother, Merra,” Sobey mentioned her name and waited for Tom’s reaction.
After a few seconds Tom responded, “What about her?”
Sobey looked at Tom. For the first time, he had felt something from the half Fieran. Unfortunately, it was only sorrow and pain. He had only felt the emotions for a brief instant before Tom pushed it away and responded.
“You don’t seem to be coping very well,” Sobey said in what he hoped was a neutral tone.
“I’m hoping that you’ll do better than I did –than I am.” Tom corrected. “Kail was there for me even when he had lost someone dear to him. If you’d accept my help without throwing too many insults, then I hope I can be there for you too.” Tom’s offer surprised himself. Why would he help somebody who he didn’t even like? Maybe it was because Tom understood what Sobey was going through. Whatever the reason, Tom had made the offer and he would not go back on his word.
Silence followed and Tom left the room silently knowing that there would be times when Sobey would want to be alone.
Sobey heard him leave but didn’t move from his position. He stayed there for several minutes, staring at the ominous grey clouds until a small gap appeared and a single star shone through. It was faint but it was there. Sobey remembered when he would go star gazing with his father when he was a child. He remembered how the celestial bodies would calm him, centre him and he smiled. Maybe this would be the beginning of one of those good days Tom spoke of.
A slight feeling of guilt surfaced in Sobey and he glance at the doors that Tom had walked through when he left. Had Tom ever had a good day? All sources pointed to no, but Sobey hoped to change that. Tom had helped him and Sobey intended to do the same for Tom. Something about his mother’s death greatly troubled him and that was at the heart of his pain.
A few days later…
“Couldn’t sleep,” Tom replied.
It was past 0300 and Tom had been sitting alone in the galley for the past hour and a half. Sleep had evaded him that night and he wandered the complex until he found himself in the galley were he replicated himself a warm beverage and sat alone in the darkness.
“You mind if I sit here?” Sobey gestured to the chair on the other side of the table.
Tom raised his foot and rested it on the chair, effectively occupying it. Sobey was slightly amused by the gesture but not deterred. The table sat four and Sobey pulled out another chair and sat down. Tom glared at him.
“Well you only have two feet. You can’t occupy all the chairs.” Sobey said.
“What the hell do you want?” the temperamental adolescent asked.
“Bad day, huh?” Sobey asked after a momentary pause but Tom stayed silent, knowing what type of bad day he was referring to.
“You have no idea….
Another blow to his head and his vision became blurry. Tom was standing in a dull room with a few weapons mounted on the wall for decoration. Around him were a few Kazon including Maj Cullah and then there was Seska. She had a smile plastered on her face and if it weren’t for the disrupters aimed at him, Tom would have taken great pleasure in making her mood less cheerful.
Maj Cullah paced around him asking question after question. What are Voyager’s shield frequencies? What are Voyager’s weaknesses? How can we gain access to the ships computer? What type of weaponry is Voyager equipped with? Where is Voyager heading? All these and many more were asked over and over again and each time the answer was the same: silence.
Tom had stopped listening long ago. He would never give the Kazon any information about Voyager; not its size, not even the colour. Vaguely Tom heard Cullah ask another question. He knew what would come next; Cullah would try to ‘persuade’ Tom to answer but his fists weren’t all that persuasive.
“Are you listening to me?” Cullah yelled at the prisoner.
Before Tom could hold his tongue he responded, “Pardon.” Tom was rewarded for his rudeness with a few blows to his face and stomach. Hunched over, his knees about to give out from under him, Tom couldn’t help but let out a slight laugh.
“What do you find so funny?” Seska asked.
“You,” Tom responded as he tried to control his breathing. “I can’t figure out why you would betray your friends and your comrades for theses idiots.”
“That’s for me to know,” Seska responded. She turned to Cullah. “This isn’t working. Let me employ my expertise and I’ll get him to talk,” she speared Tom with a cruel gaze, “but first, I’ll make him scream.”
On Voyager the crew worked on repairs and others worked on rescuing their captured crewman. There was little that they could do without a plan. In Tom’s quarters Ensign Harry Kim was working at Tom’s desk terminal. Harry found that this was the best place to access Tom’s database. He hoped to find something or anything that would help them save Tom. There was no doubt in Harry’s mind that there was something that could help.
So far Harry had found some information and some programs with various purposes. Unfortunately much of the database was still encrypted but what Harry had found so far was promising. Too bad he hadn’t found a way to decrypt the rest of the information.
Harry let out a tired sigh as his last attempt to retrieve a file failed. He decided to give up on that area of the database for now and moved to a different one. Skimming through the file headings, many of which were scrambled due to the encryption, Harry came across a file titled ‘ETFx’. Curiosity gripped the young Ensign and he decided to look through the file.
When he accessed the file a symbol that Kim didn’t recognized appeared on the screen briefly and then vanished leaving a menu on the screen. The headings read: INFO, M.S., CONTACTS, DRESS, UTILITIES and the other heading were scrambled, as that information had not been decrypted.
The only link that worked was the one labelled, UTILITIES. Maybe there was a device in there that they could use Harry thought.
In the corridor outside Tom’s quarters Lt. Torres approached the door. She didn’t bother ringing the chime. She keyed in the access code and walked in. Harry was totally focussed on the information on the screen and hadn’t heard B’Elanna enter. She walked over to Harry and looked at what was displayed on the screen. She again noticed the symbol on the top left corner.
“Harry, what’s this?” Torres asked.
Kim nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard her. “B’Elanna, don’t do that,” he said as he tried to slow his heart rate.
She gave him a slight smile and again inquired about the information on the screen.
“I’m not entirely sure. I found it in Tom’s database. Unfortunately there’s still a lot that needs to be decrypted.”
“I may be able to help with that. I found an algorithm that can decrypt some of the information.” B’Elanna implemented the algorithm and she and Harry watched as some of the scrambled information became intelligible. “I hope Tom doesn’t mind us snooping around.”
“When we get him back he can chew us out in person.” Harry said.
For minutes they skimmed through the information but none of it made much sense to them. There were short-forms and acronyms used just about everywhere and they could not understand what was being said. Finally they came across some information that might be useful to them.
“Wait, look at this.” B’Elanna points to something on the screen.
“Two way transmission unit.” Harry looked through more of the information. “Standard on all Fleet uniforms and flight suits.” Harry read directly from the screen.
They read more of the information from the screen and it informed them that the transmission unit worked on a low subspace frequency and bandwidth. It was for short-range communication, no more than a two light year distance. The good thing about it was that the transmission was nearly undetectable unless you knew exactly what bandwidth to search for.
Kim and Torres came up with the same idea at the same time. Tom always wore his usual dark ensemble, on and off duty. Maybe it was equipped with the transmitter as well.
They’d have to find a way to boost the signal confinement so that it would work over a longer distance and find the frequency that Tom’s transmitter would be at. It wasn’t much, but it was a start.
Seska paced around her uncooperative victim. It had been nearly a week since she and Tom had been transported off Voyager and three days since Seska had started her own method of persuasion. Tom had not been given anything to eat since he had arrived nor anything to drink. He no longer felt hungry, now it was a constant pain in his midsection. He could feel himself getting weaker by the day. He had slept for maybe five hours in since his arrival on the Kazon ship and the pain that his captors relentlessly inflicted on him only made it worse.
Tom was strapped into a chair in a fairly small room. His hands were tied together behind the backrest of the uncomfortable chair and his ankles were strapped to the legs of the chair.
Seska observed her prisoner as she waited for her latest chemical concoction to mix into his bloodstream. The left side of his face was bloodied and bruised. His hair was wet with perspiration and every so often as slight tremor would run through his limbs, no doubt the effects of her other acts of torture.
Tom’s head was hanging forward and his unfocussed gaze rested in his lap. He could hardly think straight. His head was still ringing from the blows he had taken and for the past four hours Seska had been pressing hypospray after hypospray to his neck. Each chemical was worse than the next and Tom was slowly loosing his grip on what was real and what were delusions from the compounds floating around in his body.
“Well Mr. Paris, or is it Mr. Corrin, whichever, how are you feeling?” Seska asked. The words seemed to echo around in Tom’s head and he had difficulty comprehending her question. Seska grew impatient and walked towards him. She grabbed the hair on the top of his head and forced Tom to look at her. “How are you feeling?” her voice was harsh and angry.
His lips and throat were dry but Tom managed to respond. “I’m not quite sure. Why don’t you try some?”
She let go of his hair and his head fell back to where it had been before. She glared at him wondering why it wasn’t working. She walked of the room and spoke with the guards outside.
Seska didn’t know that her serums and concoctions were working but Tom had been trained to resist the effects. Still he felt their influence and they were becoming increasingly more difficult to ignore. He could almost feel his grip on reality slipping away and if that happened he was done for.
Should he forget why he was here and what he was fighting for he would lose the battle against Seska and he may also loose his mind. He needed something to keep him grounded, something to remind him of his purpose. He wanted to survive but he would need help to do so.
Captain Janeway walked to the upper command console in engineering where her chief engineer and head of operations had practically lived for the past day. She saw Ensign Kim at the station but it didn’t look like he was working. When she got closer she understood why. The young officer had fallen asleep at the console. He was in a precarious position on the chair and resting against the console and Janeway was careful not to startle him when she came near.
“Ensign,” Janeway said softly. Harry didn’t respond. “Harry, wake up.” With a hand on his shoulder she gently shook him and he roused from his slumber.
He was disoriented at first but he perked up and tried to look awake when he saw the Captain.
“It’s alright Harry. Go get some rest,” Janeway suggested.
“I need to finish this. Tom needs our help,” Kim said as he tried to return to his work but his brain was a little sluggish.
“I’ll continue with your work while you take a break.” Harry paused and just stared at the console while he contemplated what his next move should be. “We’ll get him back Ensign. I have not intention of leaving him behind.”
Harry nodded and got up from the station. A few hours of sleep would clear his mind. Kathryn sat down in the seat that Harry had just vacated and looked over what he, B’Elanna and the other engineers had accomplished so far.
Twelve more hours had passed and Tom had been quietly suffering through the effects of Seska’s drugs and the assaults he took from the Kazon. Cullah and the other Kazon had tired of Seska’s method since they were not getting any results. They reverted back to the old way of doing things.
Tom’s arms were above his head as they had place restraints around his wrists and hung them from a chain attached to the ceiling. The wrist restraints were equipped with small blades that would cut into Tom’s skin if too much pressure was applied against them. His ankles were also shackled to the floor further restricting his ability to move. With his arms raised and his feet restrained Tom had no way to defend himself. He had been standing there for hours and his strength had nearly deserted him. He could feel the blades digging into his wrists but even that pain was not enough to move him.
When the blows finally halted and Cullah announced that they would continue in the morning Tom felt as if he had won a small battle. They hadn’t broken him and he hadn’t given in.
The guard practically dragged Tom to his cell. They deposited him on the floor and left without words. Tom lay there for nearly half an hour before moving. He crawled to the far corner and sat facing the entrance.
Everywhere hurt. Sometime it felt like the pain alone would kill him. His skin felt like it was crawling, his head was spinning, his ears were ringing, his blood was burning and he was alone. The forced isolation was almost too much. The four dark walls of the cell were not at all comforting and Tom could feel some claustrophobic tendencies creeping up on him. He had to stay calm but it was hard to concentrate.
‘Tom…’ a voice seemed to whisper to him. Tom looked around the cell but saw no one. Where was the voice coming from? Was he loosing his mind?
‘Tom…’ There it was again.
“Who’s there?” Tom asked. His voice was harsh and the words were barely a whisper. Again he heard his name but there was nobody around. The voice was vaguely familiar but Tom was too confused to place it.
‘Hang on Tom…’ the voice whispered again.
‘Remember what I told you all the time,’ the voice began.
“Often what’s right in front of you can’t be seen,” Tom ended
‘Use your other senses,…..listen.’ the voice began to fade. ‘Tom….Tom…..Tom are you there?……..
The voice was changing.
‘Tom, please respond….” Another voice Tom recognized.
Meanwhile on Voyager the bridge was silent as they desperately waited for a response. Captain Janeway sat in the big chair with Commander Cahkotay to her left. Tuvok and Torres manned their respective stations. Torres monitored the main deflector while Harry did the talking.
“Tom, are you there?” he paused and waited for a response. “Tom, please respond.”
End Part 11
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