Part 27

Captain Janeway passed the Crewman she'd assigned to watch Paris in the corridor. Tuvok had removed a few weapons as well as a some suspicious items that could probably be converted into weapons from Paris' quarters, and had recommended that he still be under surveillance.

The Crewman greeted her with a respectful nod, looking rather guilty for being caught away from his post. He disappeared into the door where the monitoring screens were set up. Seconds later, Ensign Kim emerged from within.

He was clearly startled at seeing her, but recovered well.



"He just went to the Mess Hall for dinner," Kim excused, eyes toward the door he had just walked out of. "Paris was asleep."

"Is he still?"

"Yes," Kim said. "He has been since I got here."

Janeway nodded, which Kim took as a dismissal and started to walk away.

"Wait," she called after him. He stopped and turned around. "How's your leg?"

"It's better," Kim said slowly. He had an odd look on his face. "Did you speak to Samantha Wildman?"

"No, I received the daily injury report."

"Oh." He looked strangely relieved.

"Should I have spoken to Ensign Wildman?"

Kim took an unusually long time to answer.

"You might want to, Captain." He didn't wait for her to react to the peculiar statement. "Excuse me."

With that, he continued down the corridor at a speed plainly designed to avoid elaborating on his last puzzling statement.

Janeway didn't stop him, although she could have. Instead, she continued to her destination. It had taken a very long time for her to talk herself into coming here, so she could not let herself walk away under the pretense of wanting to know what Kim had meant.

There was no guard outside the door, as Tuvok had assigned there to be. Apparently, more than one crewman felt they were excused for a dinner break.

She did allow herself to ponder his strange suggestion that she speak to Ensign Wildman while she tapped in the Security authorization code to open the door.

She almost considered chiming, as if asking permission to enter, but decided she wasn't that contrite.

Paris' quarters had been ransacked. Clearly, Tuvok had been wise to remove the items Paris had been looking for. The lights were on at half power and Paris was no where to be seen.

Janeway moved further into Paris' quarters, heading toward the bedroom.

In the dim light, she could see a figure outlined beneath the sheets of his bed.

As Kim had said, Paris was asleep.

Loudly, she cleared her throat.

Paris stirred but did not make any movements to emerge from under the sheets.

"This is Captain Janeway."

If anything, identifying herself should make him try to bury through the mattress to get away. Not surprisingly, he stayed still and out of view.

She sighed.

Deciding to come here had been hard enough, never less deciding what to say.

"I wanted to talk to you."

No response.

"I feel I need to apologize."

That should have gotten a response.

"I think that I've misjudged you in the past. And I know for certain you have been mistreated for it."

She took a deep breath.

"I put most of what the Maquis did on you and I'm sorry," she admitted. "That is not to say that you aren't without guilt, but that I am aware I've made mistakes and that I'm not going to make them again."

Paris was trying to sit up and pull the sheet off his head. Bizarrely, he appeared to be having trouble with that simple task.

Janeway reached over and lifted the sheet away.

Then her mouth dropped open.

Every cell in her body that until now had been feeling relatively repentant went cold.

It was not Tom Paris lying dazedly in the bed, one eye swollen shut and the other showing distinct signs of being concussed. Somebody had kicked the Security Guard assigned to stand outside Paris' quarters in the face and then placed him under the covers in bed.

He was clearly disoriented, squinting at her with the one eye and mumbling about how much his head hurt.

Tuvok's voice cut through her shock.

"Tuvok to the Captain."

Blindly, she answered the comm.


"B'Elanna Torres has escaped Brig custody."

Janeway sank down on the edge of the bed.

"She's not the only one," Janeway said slowly. "Tom Paris is missing."

Part 28 | Index page