The Good Warrior by Layton Colt

~~*~~ this represents a dream or memory

Author's Notes: And it gets weirder still.

Part Two: Living Ghosts

Tom slowly opened his eyes.

The Doctor, B'Elanna, Harry, Chakotay and the Captain were all hovering over him. He didn't speak. He just closed his eyes and willed everyone away.

He remembered. He remembered it all. Armoni, Mezata, the torture that followed their deaths.

Tom had been locked in a small room by Armoni so he wouldn't be hurt. He'd been forced to watch Mezata shoot her, unable to retaliate. He'd heard Armoni whisper 'The Games over,' before the room exploded, taking Armoni and Mezata with it.

He'd closed his eyes then, knowing the blast would reach him next but he had felt the tingle of the transporter and was again placed in a Makalian cell before it had happened.

The month after that had been Hell. Armoni had died, Mezata as well and in her place an alien named Karawin had taken charge. She'd been a coward. Unable to even look him in the eyes as she'd ordered him taken to the lab. From that point on it gets foggy. a blur of pain and depression. His identity and sanity falling away piece by piece.

"Tom?" The Captain said soothingly.

He didn't answer, couldn't summon up the strength to voice a response. Why wouldn't they just go away?

"Can't he hear me?" Janeway asked concerned.

"Captain," the Doctor whispered. "We have to assume he's remembered everything that happened to him, from the condition we got him back in I'd say that the experience was traumatizing. He can hear you, I just don't think he wants to see you all right now. I think it's best we don't overwhelm him."

Janeway nodded solemnly, "You heard the Doctor," she said nodding to the door. "The Doctor and Kes will be with him."

Tom breathed a sigh of relief as all but the two medics left sickbay. He didn't want to see anyone right now but better Kes and the Doctor than the entire senior staff. He felt someone take his hand. Definitely not the Doctor. "Kes?" he murmured opening his eyes.

She smiled at him, "Welcome back."

With sudden realization he whispered, "You were there with me?"

She smiled, "Not physically but yes. I was with you," she said brushing the hair away from his forehead. "Get some sleep."

* * * *

"Anything else?" Janeway asked scanning the room as the staff meeting came to a close.

"Actually, Captain," Neelix piped up. "I was wondering how Tom was?"

"According to the Doctor, Tom should have regained all his memories."

"That's wonderful!" Neelix broke in with a grin.

"It's not exactly," Kes said quietly. "That means he remembered what those people did to him," she explained.

Neelix's grin faded.

"None of us know what happened to Tom while he was a prisoner but we all saw the condition he was in when we got him back. He was a victim of torture and it will be a long road to recovery. When he'd ready we will try to help him through it. dismissed."

~~*~~

Armoni looked at Tom appraisingly. "You know, you're pretty cute."

He smiled, "You're not bad yourself,"

"So what's her name?"

"Her name?"

She looked at him with humor sparkling in her eyes, "Don't tell me no one has stolen your heart."

Tom blushed slightly, "B'Elanna, her name is B'Elanna."

"Tell me about her."

~~*~~

Tom shot up in bed and Kes and the Doctor were instantly by his side.

"Where's Armoni?" he gasped breathlessly.

"Armoni?" Kes asked as a tear streamed down Tom's pale cheek.

"Then she's gone?" he whispered. "She's really dead? I thought she. she was."

"Tom, we don't know any Armoni," Kes told him softly as his eyes frantically scanned the sickbay. Not seeing anyone but the Doctor and Kes he fell back on his bed. "Who was she, Tom?"

"Just another person who died but shouldn't have," he whispered before falling again into a restless sleep.

~~*~~

"Why do you want to know about B'Elanna?" Tom asked.

Armoni shrugged, "I need to know if she's worthy."

Tom's smile faded, "I'm not worthy of her," he said quietly.

Armoni looked up shocked, "I don't know this B'Elanna but I can't imagine you being unworthy of anyone. You're worth more than you know, Tom Paris."

~~*~~

Tom kept his eyes shut tight. Not wanting to wake up and not wanting to fall asleep.

Armoni.

She was the only person besides Kes he'd actually started to fall for since he'd met B'Elanna.

He had truly begun to love Armoni, and unlike with B'Elanna he had known that she loved him in return.

~~*~~

"I love you."

Tom froze, had he heard her right? "What?" he asked, his voice cracking.

"I said 'I love you'"

"We've only just met," he protested.

"Tom Paris, I could spend a hundred more years with you and feel exactly the same way,"

Tom shocked by her words but not nearly as shocked as he was when she leaned forward and kissed him.

~~*~~

Did he love her? Armoni who was fearless, gorgeous. Armoni who was clever and straight to the point?

Yes, he had loved her. Where did that leave B'Elanna? Didn't he love her as well? Armoni was dead. B'Elanna didn't love him. What did it matter anyway?

Tom sat up on the biobed. He wanted his painful dreams of Armoni to stop. He missed her, yes but she was that much harder to get over when he saw her each time he closed his eyes.

"Tom! You're up," Kes exclaimed. "How are you?"

He attempted a smile, but it faltered after an instant, "I'm ready to leave."

Kes frowned. "I'm sorry, Tom. You need to stay here at least another week."

"But Kes, I can't rest here. Please. Really, I'm fine."

She frowned again but Tom could see she was wavering, "I'll talk to the doctor," she said going to his office.

Minutes later an angry Doctor and a smiling Kes walked over to him.

"Am I free?"

"Consider it a probation," the Doctor said curtly. "You'll need to wear this at all times," he said sternly as he placed a cordical monitor below Tom's left ear. "And I will be checking on you frequently, no leaving your quarters."

"Of course not," Tom said smiling genuinely for the first time in days.

"Kes, will you escort Mister Paris to his quarters?"

"It'd be my pleasure," she smiled discreetly sliding her arm around Tom's waist to keep him steady. They headed towards his quarters, reaching them took longer than it would normally and Tom seemed slightly out of breath. Kes lead Tom immediately to the bed and laid him down.

"Do you want me to stay?" she asked taking his hand and sitting beside him.

Tom laughed groggily, "What would Neelix say?"

She squeezed hi hand, "Tom," she said as sternly as she could. He should no better than to try and play these games with her. Her attention wouldn't be so easily diverted. "You want to talk about it?"

"I thought you said you were there,"

"If you don't want to talk, then don't. But don't insult me by using these tricks of yours,"

"Sorry, Kes, I guess I forgot who I was talking to. I don't remember much about the experiments," he said quietly. "It isn't them I can't get passed."

"Then what?"

"Armoni,"

"You mentioned her before, who was she?"

"Armoni was. well I don't know how anyone could describe her. I met her when I was first brought onto the Makalian ship."

"Makalian?"

"The species that abducted me. She was amazing, I think I may have fallen in love with her. I don't know how it happened, I love B'Elanna too."

"What happened to her?"

"She's dead," he said softly. "She died and I should have been with her."

"Why?"

"She locked me out!" he exclaimed. "I would have helped her. We could have found another way,"

"I'm sorry, Tom," Kes said sincerely.

"I am too," he whispered before falling asleep.

~~*~~

"Armoni, I think I love you too,"

Her eyes widened in mock outrage, "You think?"

"I do. I."

"You still love B'Elanna."

He looked up and met her eyes, "Yes,"

Armoni pulled him to her, "If she couldn't see how wonderful you are then she doesn't deserve you."

"It was I who never deserved her," Tom said. "Why can't you understand that?"

"Because I know you. And you deserve so much better than you've ever received."

~~*~~

Kes woke up to Tom stirring. She had fallen asleep in a chair beside his bed. "Tom?"

"Sorry. I didn't mean to wake you."

She smiled warmly, "That's alright. How are you today?"

"I'm better, thanks. You can go."

Kes pulled herself up, "I'm not going anywhere," she told him as she headed for the replicater. "Are you hungry?"

"Yea."

"I'll replicate some tomato soup," she got the soup and brought it to him, eating a piece of toast herself. "Now," she smiled. "B'Elanna."

"B'Elanna?"

"She's very worried about you."

"Did you tell her I was fine?"

"Yes. She wants to see you."

Tom turned his head, "I can't face her."

"What do you mean?" she asked mystified.

"I know," he laughed. "It's stupid, I feel like I've betrayed her but we were never together. We're just friends. She's made that clear but I made it clear that. that I love her."

"And then you fell in love with someone else."

Tom nodded, "Yes, what does that make me?"

"Human," Kes supplied as she sat beside him. "Tom you've been through a lot. And you didn't betray B'Elanna. Like you said, you and B'Elanna are just friends. Maybe someday you'll be more but you've done nothing wrong."

"Are you sure? Didn't I betray B'Elanna by falling in love with Armoni?" he asked quietly. "Aren't I betraying Armoni now if I pursue B'Elanna?"

"Oh, Tom," Kes said passionately. "You haven't betrayed anyone."

* * * *

"Sorry I'm late," Kes said as she entered the staff meeting. "Tom wanted me to give you this," she said handing Janeway a padd. "What is it?"

"A full report on his captivity."

Janeway's head shot up, "He didn't--"

"He wanted to," Kes interrupted quickly. "He told me that he had to."

"How is Tom?" B'Elanna blurted. "I'd like to see him."

"Me too," Harry piped in.

"Tom's doing better, but I don't think he's ready for visitors," Kes told them politely.

"It's been three days since he remembered," B'Elanna reminded.

"I know that, B'Elanna," Kes said understandingly. "But he went through a lot."

"I know but--"

"He's not ready, B'Elanna," Kes said loudly. As close to yelling as she had ever come. Everyone looked at her shocked.

"Kes?" Neelix said.

"I'm sorry," she said quickly. "I haven't slept much."

"Are you sure that's all?" Neelix asked.

"Yes, Neelix. I'm fine."

"Alright, if that's all?" Janeway asked. "Dismissed. Kes?"

Kes stayed behind and walked over to Janeway, "Yes, Captain?"

"What's wrong? You've never raised your voice before."

"It's just. read Tom's report, Captain. Then you'll understand."

When Kes exited the conference room, B'Elanna was waiting for her in the corridor.

"What was that all about?"

"Nothing. I'm sorry I snapped at you,"

"Do you know who you're talking to? Don't worry about it. I'm just worried about Tom."

"So am I."

* * * *

~~*~~

"Where will we go, Tom?" Armoni asked lazily. "When we get away from here?"

"I'd like to find Voyager."

"Do you think your Captain will allow me to come along?"

"Of course."

"Do you think we'll be happy?"

"Yes. I think we'll be happy."

"I'd like that. to be happy."

~~*~~

Tom shot up in bed.

"Tom," Kes said approaching him. She'd been keeping vigil at his side for over an hour.

"She only wanted to be happy, Kes."

Kes knelt down beside him. "I'm sure, Tom. That wherever she is that she's happy. That just leaves you."

He looked at her, "You really think she could be happy?"

Kes nodded, "I think that in death we all can find peace. It's much harder while you're living."

Tom got the feeling she was referring to him.

"You have to talk to B'Elanna, Tom."

"Kes."

"Tell her everything," she continued. "If she doesn't accept it then she doesn't deserve you."

* * * *

Tom decided that Kes was right about him needing to talk to B'Elanna. The next day he asked her to come to his quarters and he told her everything that had happened to him. Leaving nothing out.

"I'm so sorry, Tom," she said when he finished.

"You're sorry! What do you have to be sorry about?"

"I'm sorry for a lot of things. Sorry you had to go through that, sorry you lost someone close to you. And I'm sorry I never told you how I feel about you."

Tom froze and turned to her, "What?"

"I know, it's too soon. I waited to long and you fell in love with someone else. I don't expect you to just fall back into love with me, Tom but I do love you and--"

Anything else she might have said was lost as Tom kissed her. "I still love you, B'Elanna," he said breathlessly. "But you're right. I. I do need time."

"Then you'll have it."

* * * *

Tom woke up and got dressed. He was feeling better. B'Elanna loved him! They had agreed to take it slow. He still needed to sort everything out and come to terms with losing Armoni but his dreams of her had begun to fade. He never wanted to forget Armoni but it was hard to move on when he everything he closed his eyes he saw her face.

Sighing Tom headed towards the messhall. When he reached the room he saw Harry.

"Harry!" he greeted as he sat across from him.

"Tom!" he gasped. "You look good."

"Thanks. So, how's life been for you?"

Harry smiled sadly, "Awful."

"Why?"

Harry's eyes snapped to Tom's, "My best friend was missing: presumed dead. ring a bell? It was hell, Tom. I know its nothing compared to what you went through."

"I understand, Harry, It a been hell for me, too, if you'd been missing."

"Thanks," Harry said softly. "I'm glad that you're alright, Tom."

Tom gave Harry a winning smile, "Nothing can stop me, haven't you learned that yet?"

* * * *

Kes entered sickbay and greeted the Doctor.

"Kes?" a female voice said.

Kes swung around finding only the Doctor was there. "Doctor?" she asked confused.

"Yes?" he asked without looking up.

"Can you hear me, Kes?" The voice again. But there wasn't anyone there. "Close your eyes, Kes. Let yourself go."

Kes looked around sickbay once more then cautiously closed her eyes. She appeared in a silver lab. She recognized it as the one Tom had been dragged to. Fear gripped her.

"Are you Kes?" A girl asked.

Kes turned to her. She was Makalian. Tall, almost as tall as Tom and very pretty with shoulder length brown hair.

"I am."

The girl smiled, "I've been searching for you. Tom told me about you, that you were telepathic."

"Makalians are telepathic?"

"We're not supposed to be," she replied cryptically.

"Who are you? What do you want?"

"Good questions. I'm Armoni. I want Tom."

"Tom told me Armoni was dead."

She laughed again, "Well he was half right. I'll be coming soon. Tell him I'm on my way."

Kes's eyes flew open and she was back in sickbay, the Captain and Doctor standing over her.

"Kes, are you alright?" Janeway asked concerned.

"Armoni is alive!" she blurted. "She's returning for Tom!"

* * * *

Janeway looked at her senor staff. Harry, B'Elanna, Kes and Tom looked anxious. Neelix looked oblivious and as usual she couldn't read Tuvok or Chakotay.

"According to your report Tom, Armoni was a friend of yours. So she isn't a threat, right?"

Tom smiled, "If it's really Armoni, she won't harm us."

Janeway returned the smile, "Kes did she say *when* she was coming?"

"No, Captain. She just said to tell Tom that she was coming."

* * * *

Two days later, with all the senor officers conveniently at their respective stations Armoni made good on her word.

"Captain, we're being hailed."

"On screen."

Armoni appeared and Tom gasped upon realizing she really was alive. B'Elanna scowled. Not that she wanted her dead. but.

"I am Armoni. Tom, you look well," she smiled. "Kes told you I was coming, didn't she?"

"Yes she did," Janeway said. "I'm Captain Kathryn Janeway. Would you like to transport aboard?"

"I thought you'd never ask," she smiled.

* * * *

Tom stood impatiently in front of the transporter pads. Janeway, Tuvok, Chakotay, and B'Elanna -at her own insistence- stood behind him.

Armoni smiled widely as she materialized and threw herself -literally- at Tom. Tuvok had tensed expecting her to attack him. She didn't, she kissed him.

He was too happy she was alive to remember B'Elanna behind him so he didn't stop her.

Armoni pulled away breathlessly. "You, my love are not an easy man to track down," she smiled. "I've been all over the quadrant!"

"I can't believe you're here," he stuttered.

She smiled, "I know. It is pretty unbelievable. Even to me," her eyes brightened. "Come with me Tom! Back to my ship. We can sail of into the sun."

B'Elanna stepped forward and growled out Janeway and Chakotay's thoughts, "He's not going anywhere."

Armoni eyed the woman curiously, her arms still wrapped around a speechless Tom Paris. "You're B'Elanna, I presume?"

"Yes. And you can't just show up here--"

"B'Elanna," Tom warned.

"You're not actually considering going with her?" B'Elanna cried turning her gaze to Tom.

He looked back to Armoni, "I don't know what I'm going to do."

* * * *

Janeway stared sympathetically across her desk at Tom. He looked pale. She didn't envy him his position.

Caught between two loves. two lives. She knew what she wanted him to do but this wasn't her decision. Sure, she could order Tom to stay. but if Tom was to be happy he'd have to choose his own way.

"You don't have to decide right away, Tom," she said quietly.

"Yes, I do," he laughed. "Just ask B'Elanna or Armoni. part of me can't even consider leaving Voyager, B'Elanna and all my friends. The other part won't let me let Armoni leave without me. I care about her so much and I thought she was dead and now." Tom trailed off, realizing he was rambling.

"What has Armoni said? Have you talked to her?"

"She said she'll understand if I don't go with her. Armoni has always known I loved B'Elanna. I suppose she never really had all my heart."

"Then maybe you already know your choice," Janeway said quietly.

"If I do, it isn't the one you think," Tom said cynically.

"What do you mean?"

"Armoni wants me to do what makes me happy. B'Elanna ordered me to stay. which woman do I want to spend my life with?"

Janeway understood his point. Armoni was looking out for Tom's best interests. B'Elanna her own.

"Take tonight to think about it, Tom. Don't make this decision hastily."

Tom nodded, "I won't."

* * * *

When the doors opened into the darkened messhall, Tom could hear the soft sound of crying. He saw B'Elanna with her knees against her chest her head resting on top of them. He knelt beside her and lifted her head. Her face was tear streaked.

"B'Elanna?" he asked uncertainly. He'd never known B'Elanna to cry. He hadn't even known if she'd be capable of it.

She looked away from him and wiped away her tears, "I've been thinking a lot, Tom. I was wrong to tell you to stay," she said quietly. "This is your decision. Your life." She laughed. "I guess us engineers like to have control over everything, even the people we love."

She grabbed Tom's hand and looked him in the eyes, "Choose the way that makes you happy, Tom."

He took her head in his hands, the choice suddenly clear. Indecision faded away and he smiled genuinely for the first time in weeks, "My way is with you, B'Elanna. It always has been."

B'Elanna laughed and threw her arms around him in a very uncharacteristic action. "I love you, Tom."

* * * *

Armoni looked up as the door chimed. She had been given guest quarters and was reading a padd. "Come."

Tom entered looking solemn and nervous.

"You're staying," she said matter-of-factly. "I thought as much."

"How did you know?"

She smiled ruefully, "Your heart belongs to B'Elanna, not me. I suppose I came here hoping for a miracle. or maybe I just needed closure."

"I'm sorry, Armoni. I do love you. I always will and I'm so glad you're alive."

"But you don't belong with me. I won't say I'm not disappointed, Tom. But I do understand."

"Will we be happy," he asked uncertainly.

"You will. someday, I will as well."

"Armoni, don't go." he pleaded.

"I couldn't stay, Tom. I would just try to steal you away and ruin all of our lives. Besides. I don't belong here."

"Do you have to leave right now?"

"Yes," she held Tom's head and kissed him.

"I must go now, Tom," she said touching his heart. "But part of me will forever stay here with you." She smiled and disappeared before his eyes.

"Janeway to Paris!"

"Paris here," he chocked shocked.

"Armoni's ship just disappeared."

"So did she."

* * * *

The crew of Voyager was completely baffled by what had happened. When Armoni and her ship had disappeared so had any trace that they'd ever been there to begin with.

According to the sensors, there had been no ship. No Makalian alien.

But Tom knew the truth. Armoni was out there. He didn't know how Armoni had been here.

He'd seen her get shot with his own eyes. Watched as her and Mezata were engulfed in the exploding ship.

But Armoni *had* been here. And she'd been different somehow. She had some kind of special powers. Telepathic abilities, the ability to disappear at will.

Tom shivered slightly as he remember how Armoni had evaporated in an instant. That hadn't been the result of any technology, Tom was sure. Armoni had willed it to happen.

But as Tom sat with his friends, B'Elanna leaning against his shoulder one thought plagued him.

If Armoni had survived, what had happened to Mezata?

* * * *

Kes and B'Elanna shared a smile s a crowd gathered around Tom. He was telling a story about Captain Janeway at the academy. It was a good thing she wasn't here. She'd probably never speak to him again, or his father for having told him about it.

It was an amusing story. The crowd roared with laughter and B'Elanna's smile grew wider. Tom was still dealing with things. She could tell at a glance that he was entertaining the crew on auto pilot while his thoughts wandered elsewhere. But B'Elanna would make sure that Tom got through this ordeal. She'd make him happy.

She only hoped that wherever Armoni was, that she was happy, too.

* * * *

Armoni looked up from where she had been thrown to the ground and glared at her captor.

"Mezata, you're dead."

"So are you," Mezata lauged. "You haven't figured it out yet? We're nothing but ghosts."

Armoni struggled to her feet. "What are you talking about?"

"Don't you remember the stories? Of the ghost warriors? Our people use to be a strong proud race. for them death was only the beginning. I don't know what happened after that ship exploded. but we've become something else, Armoni. Ascended, so to speak."

"I don't understand."

"So stupid for one so smart!" Mezata said impatiently. "When a Makalian faces death without fear. When they die a warrior they become something else. *We* became something else. Something better. A higher level of being."

Armoni looked at her hands, "No. We haven't changed. I haven't changed."

"Then how are you here, Armoni? We should be dead. Explain to me why we aren't. You just haven't figured out the full potential of the power you know posses. But you will and our game can begin again, we have all eternity to play."

Armoni's mother's voice floated to her. 'And so the good warrior and the evil warrior were transformed' 'Into what?' asked a curious young Armoni. 'Ghosts' 'What happened to the good warrior? Did he defeat the evil one?' 'Of course he did, darling' 'But how, mama? How do you kill a ghost?' Her mother's laughter echoed through her mind. 'Don't you know? A ghost is only here because they haven't finished something. To send them away you need only take away their purpose The evil warrior wouldn't leave until it had completed it's purpose, killing the good warrior' 'The good warrior died!' 'The good warrior was already dead' 'So what happened? How does the story end?' 'Some day, my little warrior, some day you will find out'.

Armoni lifted her eyes and captured Mezata's gaze.

"No, no more games. This ends now."

Armoni lunged at Mezata, pulling a small knife from its place on Mezata's belt.

Backing away from Mezata, Armoni held the knife steadily in her hands.

Armoni had never believed in the fairy tales her mother had told her. She'd never thought that ghosts could exist. She still didn't. She wasn't a ghost. She was much more.

But something in those fairy tales rang true. Mezata's only purpose seemed to be to torture her. If Armoni were gone then Mezata would have no reason to stay here.

Armoni placed the knife over her heart. She had no fear. She wasn't killing herself, she knew. You can't kill someone who's already dead.

Armoni jammed the knife through her chest. She dropped to her knees and stared up at Mezata. Mezata's smile had disappeared and she was staring at her hands in mute fascination. They were disappearing.

"No! What's happening!" Mezata cried, her voice breaking through the silence.

Armoni pulled the knife from her chest and stood. There was no wound. Mezata fell to her knees and their situations we're reversed.

Armoni watched dispassionately as Mezata disappeared. She couldn't explain any of this. But she knew one thing for sure. She was no ghost.

She looked to where Mezata had been. She was finally free. She could go anywhere. do anything.

But she knew what she had to do. She'd return to Makal. Her home planet. Her people needed a leader. Someone to guide them and show them all they could become with a little bit of courage.

Her people would rise up again. And they would be more powerful than ever before.

* * * *

Mezata looked around the small cell. The power was completely shut off. How was there a forcefield? It wasn't really there, right?

She closed her eyes and touched it. Nothing was there. She smiled. She would escape. She walked through the forcefield. But when she turned she saw she had just walked into another cell.

She looked through he gray forcefield. The corridor was now on the other side. She screamed.

"I'm immortal, damn it!" she cried. "I don't want to play anymore!" she yelled to the walls.

No one answered. Her eyes flickered back to the cut wires on the wall. There were sparks. Maybe she could get out, yet? If not, she had all eternity to try.

The End

READ THIS!!!!

I know the end doesn't really make sense especially the part about Mezata. I actually have already changed a bunch of things from the original version to make it more plausible and almost cut out the part with Mezata in the cell but I liked it too much. I'm a big fan of poetic justice. Just think of the ending as Mezata's own version of hell.

And if you're wondering what happened to Armoni she returned to Makal and reunited with an old boyfriend Mikan who she had thought died. but he didn't really die he just became one of the living ghosts. I cut that part out though because it just seemed to far out there. Like I told you before I wrote this a *really* long time ago. It's one of my first works and not my best so go easy on me!