Disclaimers: Paramount owns all with the exception of Sarah Barrett, Michael and Ava Janeway. If I owned it, I would have a lot more money than I do no or ever ;).
A/N: Okay, here's the sequel to This Way Became My Journey, it would be season two if this was TV tee hee. Be looking for new additions to The 37's starting on Monday!
I am Lost in Oceans of Night
ULTIMATUM, PART TWO
The day had not gone as planned. It had started out with the faintest bit of hope only to have that hope snuffed out sometime midday. Tom Paris had shut down emotionally that was the best way to describe it, when they found the coffin in space; Sarah's coffin. Janeway had disappeared into her ready room immediately and Tom had wished he had a private place to go while on duty as well. The bridge had been silent for the rest of Alpha shift. Even Tuvok seemed subdued. Harry had offered, when shift was over, to go to the mess for dinner with him, but Tom had declined. He didn't need or want to be coddled. Instead he shut himself up in his quarters and just sat on the edge of the bed in the dark, listening to the hum of the engines.
It had only led him to the conclusion that he had to see her.
Sickbay was dark and abandoned at this late hour of night, the Doctor deactivated, and Kes probably in her quarters sleeping. Tom was thankful for the silence, the privacy. Now that he was standing there, looking at the surgical biobed with a sheet covered body prepared for an autospy in the morning, he felt his resolve fading. You have to do this, Thomas, he told himself. You have to make your peace. He nearly laughed out loud at that thought. Peace, what kind of peace was he going to find knowing that Sarah's killer was still out there, still hurting others, still leading his people with an iron fist? No, he concluded there would be no peace for him ever again.
With a trembling hand he reached out and pulled the sheet back that was covering her face. It was swollen, discolored, not as vibrant and beautiful as he remembered her. Immediately tears began to flow. "Oh Sarah, what have they done to you?" he whispered, smoothing her hair back, willing her to answer. But her lips didn't move, her eyes didn't open. Tom felt as broken as she looked and collapsed against the biobed, sobbing for the chance they had lost, for failing to keep her safe like he had promised, for everything he realized as the sobs shook his shoulders. He'll pay, he thought angrily, he'll pay for what he did to you. There's nothing holding me back now. Nothing.
Kathryn Janeway could not sleep. She lay on her back, still dressed in her full uniform, the sheets unturned, staring listlessly at the ceiling. After three straight hours of crying her eyes out for Sarah's death, and subsquently her failure at saving her officer, she had stared at the ceiling in the hopes of finding the answers there. Unfortunately all there was staring back at her was a rather bland Starfleet regulation ceiling. With a sigh she rolled over onto her side and looked at the picture of her children on the night stand. She wished that she could hold them, rock Ava in the rocking chair for hours and not worry about anything else in the galaxy but herself and her children.
Nydia seemed so far away at that moment. They wouldn't be going back anytime soon. Not only did she have an officer to bury in space, she had made a promise to complete a mission for the Prime Minister. The future of the resistance depending on it.
Chakotay would question why she was pressing into Gerroan space. Their solitary reason for traveling into the heart of the ruthless territory had been to rescue Sarah, but now she was dead, and to him, there would be no point. Kathryn had promised to keep the Prime Minister's mission as secret as possible, but she might just have to bring her senior staff up to speed. Would they be able to handle it? After all they had been through the past three weeks? She had never heard so many whispered words of hate and anger than she did after news of Sarah's passing had traveled throughout the whole ship. Her crew was angry and rightly so.
And they had not even seen her body. Kathryn shivered recalling when she had looked upon Sarah's face, how it was swollen and discolored from being beaten. She wiped furiously at her eyes, cleaning away the tears. They should be thankful that they didn't have to see what they had done to her.
"Tuvok to Janeway."
Kathryn pressed her combadge, rolling over onto her back. "Go ahead, Mister Tuvok."
"There has been an unauthorized shuttle launch; it is Lieutenant Paris."
Damn it! She thought, jumping off the bed. I knew I should have gong to talk to him right away. She had decided instead to give Tom his space, time to soak in the enormity of what had happened, time to grieve on his own without someone breathing down his neck. She should have known that he would do something to avenge Sarah's death. Chakotay had expressed concerns that Tom would do something to try and rescue her before they had a plan in tack. "Can you tractor the shuttle?"
"Negative, he cloaked as soon as he was clear of Voyager."
The Captain let her head drop, chin resting on her chest. "Did you at least manage to project his course?" she asked, although she was pretty certain she knew the answer.
"We did, he is heading for Gerroan space."
"Then set a course Mister Tuvok, for Gerroan space, and take us under cloak."
Hours, she had been walking through dirty tunnels and then dark forests for hours. Things had not gone according to plan since they had fled Casius' personal estate. He had sent a detail out immediately to track them down. It the midst of the city they had found the pair fleeing with known underground resistance leaders and Kreyole freedom fighters. She had done everything she could to protect her companion when the Gerroan had opened fire, but it hadn't mattered, she had been shot in the back, sprawling to the ground and smashing her face. Because of their similarities, some of the soldiers thought they had obtained their target, others kept firing at the fleeing rebels.
The group of underground fighters had used the confusion to usher her to safety, but she had wanted to go back, she couldn't let them defile her body like she knew they were going to do. In the end one of the Kreyole fighters, Tareth, was stronger than her and had literally picked her up, threw her over his shoulder and carried her to the next tunnel, one that led into the deep forests surrounding the city. When they had emerged from the tunnel Tareth had put her down and let her walk on her on accord, although she made it known that she was displeased with the fact that he had carried her for so long. She maybe a woman, but she was capable of taking care of herself.
Dawn was just breaking when they reached their final destination point. Ravior was there to greet them. He apologized for her death, but said that the death was not in vain. She failed to see how that was so. When she questioned him on it, he turned with a sad smile and whispered, "Welcome to the fight for survival that is known as the Resistance, Lieutenant Barrett."
"Computer, how much longer until we reach Gerroan space?" Tom Paris asked, leaning back in the pilot's chair.
"At current speeds, thirty six hours and nineteen minutes."
"Just enough time to write my apology letter to Captain Janeway, don't you agree?"
"Please restate the question."
Frowning, Tom grumbled," Never mind. The next time I decide to disobey orders I'll take someone whose better company along for the ride." Not that he was planning on there being a next time. He knew he wouldn't be coming back from this alive. After he was done with Casius the tyrant's men would kill him, probably the same way they had killed Sarah. It didn't matter, not anymore, he felt dead now that she was gone. The Gerroan would be doing him a favor if they did away with him. Since the moment they had found her coffin, the moment he had seen her broken body and wept over it in sickbay, he had wished he was dead. But he had one last thing to do before he joined her. He was going to make sure that Casius paid for hurting her.
It seemed that Chakotay's fears about him taking off into Gerroan space by himself were prophetic. Of course, perhaps if he had taken off sooner, Sarah would be alive, or you'd both be dead, Thomas, there's really no way of knowing. He shook his head to clear his thoughts. At least if he had gone after her sooner he would have tried to save her. Tom had not felt like such a failure since Caldik Prime. He had failed Sarah, and now he had failed Janeway.
Shaking his head he shrugged into the chair. He didn't care what anyone on Voyager thought of him now. He thought back to the device that Ava Janeway had given to him weeks ago when she had traveled back in time. She had told him that Sarah loved him, to give her time, but she had also told him that she was killed somewhere in the future. Apparently they had never encountered the Gerroan in her time line because the device had yet to activate like she said it would. Or it was faulty, either way, this had not been on the schedule. Altering the time line had, apparently more dire consequences than Ava had foreseen, and his heart was broken because of it.
Tom had envisioned after the success of the peace rose asking Sarah on a date and finally getting yes for an answer. The dream had been squashed thanks to a power hungry brute that had no doubt forced himself upon her. The thought of that man violating Sarah drove Tom mad with rage. And he was going to use that rage to make sure that the cruel leader never took another innocent life again. It wasn't very Starfleet like of him, but he didn't feel very Starfleet at that moment.
"Computer," he sighed, "one bowl of hot, plain tomato soup."
He heard the replicator behind him whine to life, thankful that he had managed to regain some rations for the week so he wouldn't have to starve; Tom moved to the replicator and got his soup. Tom wasn't very hungry, however he knew that he had to eat in order to keep his strength if he had any shot in hell in completing his mission. A crusade, that's what his father would probably call it. Well Dad, I'm sorry to disappoint you again. But I just can't let them get away with what they did to her. Maybe if you had seen her you would understand, Tom thought thinking of his father, seventy thousand light years away, tucked in an office safely.
Tom took a sip of his soup. What did his father know about the dangers of the Delta Quadrant? In seventy-five years, when Voyager finally made it home, his father wouldn't even be around to scold Tom on his rash decision making. So what did it matter?
It matters because you've always wanted to impression him, that hasn't changed Thomas. He shook his head again, finishing his soup in one swallow. There was truth behind that thought. He had always wanted to impress his father but he just couldn't live up to Owen Paris' expectations. He had hoped that Voyager, when it got stranded in the Delta Quadrant, would have been a chance to prove to his father once and for all that he was a capable officer, not just a screw up. Funny how things change, he thought as he took over piloting the shuttle.
The next thirty six hours were going to be hell, absolute hell, if all he had to occupy him was his thoughts. It wasn't a pleasant thought, Tom realized. His thoughts had been dark since Sarah had been kidnapped, turned even darker when they had found her body in space. He knew that he didn't have to do this, he could have stayed on Voyager, participated in Sarah's memorial service and gone about his daily routine and business as if nothing had happened. But life just couldn't go on, not when there was no justice for someone who had made such a difference in his life and who he cared for deeply. Hell, he loved her, loved her. And love was not something that Tom Paris gave out easily. Sure he had lots of women back in the day, but he had never actually loved them.
Sarah was different, she was so much like him on some many levels, but yet not. There were times where she absolutely knew herself, and held her ground, asserting her authority, and other times he saw a vulnerable young woman struggling to figure out where she stood in the galaxy. It was the fire and ice in her eyes, the sunshine in her smile, that made her so alluring. The next thirty six hours were plagued by thoughts of her and what they had lost when Casius had stolen her away.
"Entering orbit of Gerroa Prime."
"Computer, scan the surface for an unpopulated area to land."
"Scanning in progress."
Tom patiently waited, pleased that the cloak had taken him into the very heart of Gerroan territory without so much as a sniff of Gerroan interference. He would touch down and proceed to the estate on foot, in the cover of darkness just like the senior staff had planned for the away team when the rescue attempt for Sarah was still needed. He quietly changed into a covert operations uniform and was just fastening his knife to his belt when the computer beeped and informed him that it had found a place to land. Jumping back to the controls, he ordered, "Computer set a course for those coordinates."
"Affirmative, coordinates set."
"Here goes nothing," Tom muttered as he set the cloaked shuttle down in the dense forest surrounding the capital city.
It was sunset but he decided that it wouldn't be a problem to take a look around and getting his bearings in case he did survive this he could find his way back to his shuttle. He opened the back hatch and stepped out into the dry heat and could hear crickets chirping loudly in the dark woods. Closing the hatch after he stepped out so the shuttle wouldn't be discovered he pulled his tricorder out and quickly realized that this forest was full of life, not just crickets. He made sure that his weapons were in reach in case something like a grizzly bear decided to pay a visit and picked a direction to walk in.
Tom hadn't gone far when he heard the snapping of twig behind him. Hoisting his phaser he spun about only to come face to face with a Kreyole soldier holding a rather menacing weapon at his nose. Slowly he lowered the phaser and dropped it to the ground. "I'm Lieutenant Tom Paris from the Starship Voyager. I'm...on a...mission." It sounded lame and he knew it.
"What kind of mission?"
"Personal?" the Kreyole soldier said. "That leaves it open to anything."
"I'm not here to hurt the Kreyole, if that's what you're asking," Tom responded, coolly.
The Kreyole lowered his weapon. "No, I don't think you are, especially if you used a cloaked ship to come in. I saw you exit and followed you. My name's Tareth." He held his hand out and took Tom's. "It's a pleasure to meet someone else from your ship, Lieutenant, you are a tenacious people."
Tom shrugged his shoulders. "Or just foolish."
"Come, we should get out of the open, the Gerroan are always sending fly-overs looking for us. I'll take you to our camp."
"Alright, lead the way," Tom said, glad to have an ally on his side. Perhaps they would help him get into the estate. He would just have to figure out a reason why he was going in there. He assumed that the Kreyole were aware of Sarah's death. Tom couldn't imagine Casius keeping it quiet. It will come to you Paris, you just have to be patient, because you have all the time in the galaxy to give Casius what's due to him.
Sarah Barrett stretched as she woke up from a much needed nap. A day and a half had gone by since she had fled Casius' estate, and so far the Gerroan hadn't come looking for her, that wasn't to say they weren't going to come looking for her, and Ravior had already made the decision to keep moving her throughout their camps and settlements. The underground was better equipped than Sarah had perceived them to be and she was happy that they were so willing to help her. Hopefully Ravior was able to get a hold of some communications equipment to notify Voyager where she was. Right now there was no rush, she was certain that Quierron had contacted them again to let Captain Janeway know that she was no longer at Casius' estate.
Joining several of the women freedom fighters by the fire, Sarah grabbed a plate of food and plopped herself down onto the ground. Starfleet wasn't kidding when they said that survival training was necessary, she thought as she shoveled some of the food into her mouth. It wasn't as good as some of the food she had eaten at the estate, but it was better than standard issued ration packs from a shuttle. She noticed that the women regarded her coldly, for what reasons she wasn't sure, perhaps they were upset that she had not died and Myna had. According to Ravior, Myna was an important part of the resistance, and Sarah would probably never fit into her role, even if she was a resourceful Starfleet officer. She had not taken offense to that. Starfleet had not prepared their officers for resistance fighting and guerrilla warfare. She was trained in diplomacy first before shooting.
That principle didn't seem to apply here.
Sarah finished her dinner and got up, going to the makeshift sink to clean it. As she scrubbed she noticed a shadow move across the flickering firelight and glanced to her left to see Ravior standing next to her. The look on his face told her that he didn't have good news; she didn't need to reach out with her telepathic senses to know that. "I'm a big girl, Ravior, I can handle bad news."
He grinned. "You're telepathic senses are getting stronger."
"Maybe, but I always know how to read body language. I'm a trained diplomat remember?"
"Of course, I keep forgetting."
"No worries, what's on your mind?"
"I won't be able to contact Voyager for another three days," Ravior replied. "Our last communications liaison was found out and executed."
Sarah frowned. "I'm sorry Ravior."
"It happens more than you know, Lieutenant. It's apart of war."
"Well, then I guess you're stuck with me for three more days at least."
"Do you think Voyager is on her way here as we speak?"
Sarah pondered the question. What she thought and what she hoped were two completely different things. She believed that Voyager was safely out of the reach of the Gerroan and heading home to the Alpha Quadrant, what she hoped was that Tom and the others were going to rescue her from this hell. Of course this resistance cell was far better than her suite in the estate had been, she didn't have to worry about anymore violent violations of her body. She shivered recalling the night that Casius had raped her. She was still having trouble letting any other man touch her, even in the simplest gesture. When Tareth had picked her up and carried her to the woods she had initially felt like kicking him where the sun didn't shine, but her mind had taken hold and she had reasoned that he was trying to save her not hurt her. "I hope they're coming for me, but do I think they are...no. It's too dangerous, too many risks, and Casius knew this."
It was Ravior's turn to frown. "Despite what he thinks, he has no rights to you or anyone else for that matter."
"Tell that to him," she huffed, drying her plate and fork. "He thinks he owns the galaxy."
"People like him do not rule for eternity like he thinks he will," Ravior pointed out. "Already his people are questioning his lead."
"I hope it is enough," Sarah mused.
"It will be."
"I want to help Ravior, I'm not going to sit around here and do nothing."
"You have been dragged into this war against your will, you should not have to stick your neck out for us."
"It seems I'm apart of this now, aren't I? Maybe I have been since that opening hail," Sarah countered. "Either way, you're not getting rid of me so easily. I'm going to do whatever I can to help."
Ravior grinned. "Well there isn't much to do right now, Tareth and the others should be coming in soon from their patrols. Until then, why don't you go see if you can help those new recruits with firing Gerroan weapons," he winked at her, "I heard from a certain Sub Commander that you're a pretty good shot."
Sarah laughed and went to join the young teens, glancing over her shoulder once at the aging leader, hoping that someday he would see peace.