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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Star Trek Voyager: Home

Another Star Trek fan fiction story that I wrote in the late 1990's. 

 

Star Trek Voyager:

Home


From behind Captain Janeway, Harry Kim called out, “Captain, long range sensors are picking up a vessel three parsecs off the port bow. Moving very slowly.”
“What sort of vessel?” Janeway asked.
“Resolution is poor at this distance, but I don't recognize the configuration. And, well, the computer...”
“Yes, Mr. Kim?”
“The computer says it matches the configuration of a class of sub-light ships from 21st century Earth—a sleeper ship used during the first wave of extra-Solar colonization.
Janeway was astonished. “That's extraordinary, Mr. Kim.” Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Could it be a trap? Are there any other ships in the area?”
Kim consulted his instruments again, double-checking himself. “Just us, Captain.”
“We should investigate, Captain,” Chakotay said. “If it is an Earth ship out here, however unlikely that seems...”
Janeway nodded. “Agreed. Helm, lay in a course.”

As Tom Paris was entering the Mess Hall, he ran into Tuvok, who was exiting. Tuvok held a small, greenish rock in his hand.
“What have you got there, Tuvok?”
“Ah, Mr. Paris. It's fortunate our paths have crossed. I was just coming to find you. Please accompany me to Engineering.”
“Can it wait, Tuvok? I'm really hungry. Neelix has a big plate of spaghetti waiting for me.”
Tuvok continued as if he hadn’t heard Paris’s objection. “I believe the Captain has given you Level A Security clearance, has she not, Mr. Paris?”
Paris nodded.
“Then, Mr. Paris: I just now confiscated this rock from Ensign Webber. He illegally obtained it several years ago while stationed on a planet called Gateway.”
“Never heard of it.”
“That is not surprising. The rock is a fragment of a larger artifact that has been kept from public knowledge because of its potential dangerousness, were it to be used improperly or by the wrong people.”
Paris listened attentively, intrigued.
“The artifact, which calls itself the Guardian of Forever, is a gateway to any time period in history, or any place in the known universe.” Tuvok studied the fragment in his hand.
“And that little rock is a piece of this Guardian? So what? It just looks like an ordinary little rock to me.”
Tuvok raised his eyebrow. “This ‘little rock’ may mean that you will be having that spaghetti dinner you wanted, Mr. Paris. Tonight. On Earth.”

Janeway stared intently at the forward viewscreen.
“Coming into range now, sir,” Harry said.
A battered, blocky, ancient-looking space vessel lumbered slowly onto the viewscreen. Janeway and Chakotay leaned forward in their seats to study it.
“Straight out of the history books,” Chakotay said. “What's it doing way out here?”
“Sensors confirm that it is a DY-100-class sleeper ship,” Kim reported. “Hull-markings identify it as the S.S. Sheridan. There isnothing in the computer about this particular ship...”
“That's not surprising. Records from that time period are so fragmented. Life signs?”
“Faint, but there. Consistent with suspended animation.”
“Still no sign of other ships in the area? Kazon?”
Kim consulted his readouts.“None.”
Janeway looked at Chakotay. “Commander, take an Away Team and find out what that piece of living history is doing in our part of the Galaxy. We'll discuss the revival of those people later.”
Chakotay smiled eagerly. “On my way, Captain.” He motioned to Kim and the two of them left the bridge.

In Engineering, Tuvok, Paris and Torres clustered around an analyzer in which was cradled the fragment of the Guardian. Energy from the warp drive was being fed into the fragment, causing it to glow a bright white.
“Well, Tuvok, that's very pretty. It holds the energy well,” Paris said sarcastically.“But you still haven't told us what you're trying to accomplish with this.”
“I had thought my intentions were obvious. Tests on the Guardian have shown that its powers can be stored in
fragments of it. This rock is, to use a human expression,
a ‘chip off the old block.’ It should possess the abilities
of its parent, although to a lesser extent. I believe that if we feed enough power to this fragment, we may be able to
access those abilities.”
Sudden understanding lit Paris's face. “You mean instantaneous travel across the Galaxy. Take a single step and we're home.”
Tuvok didn't take his attention from the fragment. “Precisely, Mr. Paris.”
The intercom chimed. “Janeway to Tuvok. We've encountered an old-styleDY-100 sleeper ship, and I've sent Commander Chakotay to investigate. I'd like you and Lt. Paris on the bridge as soon as possible.”
Tuvok raised an eyebrow, and Paris and Torres exchanged curious looks.“Acknowledged. Tuvok out.”
The three of them turned back to the rock-Guardian. “Cross your fingers, B’Elanna,” Paris said. “If this works, I'll treat youto the best plate of spaghetti you've ever had.”
“What in the name of Kahless is spaghetti?”
Paris's eyes widened in disbelief, and he opened his mouth to respond, but Tuvok interrupted.
“Ms. Torres, increase power by .5 %.”
Torres stepped back to a control console and touched a few buttons. There was a loud sound like a crack of thunder. Torres watched helplessly as a blinding flash of light expanded from the rock and engulfed Tuvok and Paris. They vanished and the light faded. No trace of the Guardian fragment remained.
Torres looked in horror at the empty space where Paris and Tuvok had been. She pulled herself together and touched her communicator. “Engineering to bridge. Captain, we've had...an accident down here...”

Chakotay and Kim walked down a darkened, narrow corridor lined on both sides with frosted, glass-covered berths in which lay people in suspended animation.
Kim swung his flashlight from side to side. “Johnson should have the lights on any minute now.”
On cue, lights on the ceiling flared to life. Chakotay and Kim turned off their hand lights and strapped them to their belts.
Chakotay walked over to one of the berths and rubbed away the frost, peering in at the occupant. Kim did the same at another berth.
“Incredible, isn't it?” Chakotay asked. “For these people the 21st century was yesterday. But they've slept away 300 years.”
Kim walked to the next berth and rubbed away the frost. His eyes widened when he saw the occupant. “Commander!”
Chakotay rushed over and looked questioningly at Kim, who directed his attention inside the berth. Chakotay peered inside.
The frozen form of Tuvok reclined within the berth. Frost covered his eyebrows and streaked his hair.
Chakotay and Kim exchanged astonished glances, then Chakotay moved to the next berth and rubbed at the frost, looking inside. Kim peered over his shoulder.
Inside the berth was Tom Paris, his exposed skin dusted with frost.

In a narrow, deserted alleyway, Paris and Tuvok were lying unconscious next to a garbage dumpster. Tuvok stirred first. He sat up and looked around. From the direction of the alley mouth he heard numerous voices and the steady hum of automobile traffic.
He closed his eyes and willed his headache to go away. That done, he leaned over and checked Paris's vital signs. Satisfied that Paris was merely unconscious, he walked to the head of the alley and cautiously peered onto the street beyond.
Sleek vehicles rushed by on the street. People hurried past on the sidewalk. Many of the people were dressed in various types of military uniforms and had guns strapped to their hips. Those soldiers not wearing identical uniforms watched each other warily.
Paris came up behind Tuvok, groaning. He shook his head back and forth and blinked his eyes several times. “My head feels like the morning after,” he said. He looked onto the street. “Is it just my imagination, Tuvok, or are we on Earth? I remember a flash of light back in Engineering, and then...”
“We are indeed on Earth, Mr. Paris. It appearswe were successful in tapping the abilities of the Guardian fragment. Although this uncontrolledand unplanned trip is not what I had intended.”
Paris grinned up at the buildings, the city and the bustle of people around them.“What does that matter, Tuvok? We're here! I'm home, and Vulcan is just a short hop across
the quadrant. Now let's get out there and find out where on Earth we are.”
“Very well. But I must urge caution, Mr. Paris. With
all those uniforms out there, we should not appear out of place, but....” Tuvok broke off, because as he he'd been talking, Paris had left the alley, too excited at being home to listen to Tuvok.
Tuvok arched an eyebrow at Paris's retreating back. He touched his ears, then quickly looked around. A timeless 1950's style fedora hat lay discarded beside a dumpster.  He reached down, picked it up and placed it on his head. It barely concealed his pointed ears. Somewhat satisfied, he left the alley in pursuit of Paris.
When he caught up, Paris did a double-take at Tuvok’s hat. “Very...stylish, Tuvok.”
The two of them walked side by side, going with the flow of the pedestrians. Paris ogled the buildings and shops that lined the street, drinking in the sights of home.
The soldiers they passed watched them warily and fingered their guns nervously, but otherwise ignored them.
“You know, something doesn't look quite right about this place,” Paris said, eyeing the soldiers. “This looks a lot like New York City--I lived there for awhile, and some of these buildings look familiar, but...not quite right...”
“This is not the New York City you know, Mr. Paris. I had thought that was immediately obvious. You will recall I said the Guardian of Forever was a doorway to any time period, as well as anywhere in space. I did not realize you would blindly assume we were still in the 24th century.”
Paris stopped and turned to Tuvok, suddenly bewildered. They moved out of the flow of people, to stand in the sheltered entrance of a drugstore.
“So when are we, exactly?”
Tuvok glanced at a news kiosk behind Paris. “Based on my observations so far, we are in the second quarter of the 21st century. Specifically, March 23rd, 2052. A particularly turbulent year in your history.”
“But why here, Tuvok? Of all the places in the universe, all the times, why did the rock send us to 21st century New York City?”
“I've always been fascinated by the particularly brutal
history of your planet. On Voyager for the past several nights I had been refreshing my knowledge of this period. It is possible that at the time of our experiment with the fragment, thoughts of this period occupied my mind. Perhaps the fragment somehow sensed this and sent us here.”
Paris shrugged. “Well, however we got here, we're here. I wish the otherscould have made it back with us, but...We can make a life here. 300 years in the past still beats being cramped into Voyager for the next eighty years.” He suddenly noticed a restaurant across the street whose sign read, Luigi's Fine Italian Eatery. Another sign in the window proclaimed Spaghetti—All you can eat—10 cr. Paris looked at the place longingly.
“Do not make yourself at home too quickly, Mr. Paris. We cannot stay here. We must return to Voyager.”
Paris waved his arms angrily. “Tuvok, don't start quoting me the Prime Directive, or lecturing me on the dangers of meddling with history. We're here, and I don't see that we have the slightest chance of getting back to Voyager. She's 300 years and half a galaxy away. Why even
bother....”
Tuvok's voice was heavy with un-Vulcanly exasperation. “Do you not know the history of your own planet,Mr. Paris?”
“I must have been asleep when the teacher got to the mid-21st century,” Paris said sarcastically. “Why don't you fill me in?”
Tuvok glanced around cautiously, to make sure no passers-by would overhear their conversation about the future. “This year is a pivotal point in Earth's history, Mr. Paris.Though the Eugenics Wars are several decades in the past, two tyrannical supermen are still holding a small portion of the United States, and another is at large. An historic peace conference is to take place here in New York City later this year. Soldiers from various world factions are already converging here in anticipation of this. Several groups have already tried to seize control of the city. The situation here at the moment is extremely volatile.”
Paris looked out at the soldiers milling in the streets. “So that explains them all, and why no one has given us a second glance.”
“The situation in the rest of the world is just as tense. Two weeks from today, to prevent the peace negotiations, an unknown faction will detonate several neutron bombs here in New York City, andthe city will be completely vaporized.”
Paris felt sudden horror as he remembered his history. “World War III. World War III starts this year withthe destruction of New York City.”
“It appears you were not asleep during your history class after all.”
Paris looked out on the street, at the people rushing by. With helpless pity on his face. “All these people are going to die...”
“If I recall correctly, 25 million people were killed in the 30 seconds that it took for New York City to be obliterated.”
Just then, across the street, a group of soldiers stopped and began to study Tuvok and Paris very closely. The insignia on the breast of the soldiers was a fist clutching three lightning bolts.
“Perhaps we had best move on, and find a secluded
spot where we can consider our next course of action in safety.”
Paris nodded and they rejoined the flow of people on the sidewalk. Paris glanced back at the group of soldiers, but they were gone.
They soon entered a run-down neighborhood. Old and grimy buildings lined the trash-littered street. The people walking the streets were a mirror of their surroundings.
“There used to be a huge park a few blocks from here,” Paris said. “I mean, 300 years from now there will be a park, which was supposedly built in the late 20th century--” His eyes widened in horror and disgust as two grotesque people passed them. Weeping sores cover their bodies, and they walked with highly-pronounced limps.
Tuvok gave no sign that he'd noticed.
Paris, however, gave the infected couple a wide berth. He turned and stared after them for a moment, then caught up with Tuvok. He jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “Tuvok, what--?”
“As I said, Mr. Paris, the Eugenics Wars are several decades past, but the world is still suffering from them. At least ten engineered viruses are circulating among the
population. They are extremely virulent and deadly.
In the United States, large groups of infected people are quarantined. Other countries choose to dispose of their infected using less humanitarian means. By the time these viruses are finally brought under control a decade from now, 100 million people will have been killed by them.”
Paris looked around, suddenly noticing more of the sore-covered people. “Uh, Tuvok, are we in any danger from being so close to these people?”
“I do not believe so. These people undoubtedly carry a blood-born virus. Otherwise this entire area would be sealed behind a wall and heavily guarded.”
“This place is insane. Plagues, trigger-happy armies roaming the cities...”
“Then may I assume your first-hand experience of this timeperiod, coupled with your knowledge of events to come, has sufficiently motivated your desire to return to Voyager?”
Paris nodded.
“Very good. At this point I should inform you that we are being followed.”
Paris risked a glance backward. Three of the soldiers with the lightning-bolts-in-fist insignia were coming up the street toward Paris and Tuvok.
They continued walking nonchalantly, as though ignorant of their followers.
“Are you ready to run?” Paris asked. “They have some formidable-looking weaponry, and we're unarmed.”
Tuvok nodded, and the two of them began walking faster, preparing to run. They halted when four more of the lightning-bolt-insignia soldiers come around the corner ahead of them and moved to cut them off.
Tuvok pointed to a darkened alley nearby, and Paris nodded. They turned into the alleyway--only to discover that it dead-ended in a brick wall. Trash heaps littered the alleyway. The nearest windows were twenty feet above them and covered with metal bars.
The steady click of running boots could be heard on the street, growing louder.
Tuvok and Paris turned to face the alley mouth.
The seven soldiers stepped into view. Tuvok opened his mouth to speak. One of the soldiers raised a rifle. Two bursts of light spit forth, throwing Paris and Tuvok against the wall. They slumped to the ground.

At the end of the street, two men stood in the shade of a palm tree, watching the alleyway. Each was dressed in a sharp blue uniform with a strangely distorted American flag on the breast. They watched as the seven soldiers emerged from the alleyway carrying the unconscious Starfleet officers between them. When the seven soldiers reached the end of the street, the two men followed at a discreet distance.

An office furnished with a large desk, bookcase, two chairs and a sofa. A door opposite the desk. A large window behind the desk gave a view of a run-down neighborhood in New York City, possibly the same one where they'd been captured.
Tuvok was sprawled unconscious on the sofa. Paris, also unconscious, slumped in one of the chairs. Their communicator pins were missing.
Tuvok stirred. He sat up and touched his head, feeling for the hat. It was gone. Whoever had kidnaped them would know he wasn't human. He explored the room, looking for a way out. The window wouldn't open and was unbreakable. The door was locked.
Tuvok turned as Paris groaned awake.
He put a hand to his forehead. “When this is all over with, I think the thing I'm going to remember most about this time period is the headaches.”
“The weapon they used on us was an extremely primitive precursor to our modern day phaser. The trauma it inflicts upon the body is several degrees higher than the perfected version. I found being stunned by one to be an...interesting experience.”
“Now why doesn't that surprise me, Tuvok?”
They both jumped as the door banged open.
A large, heavily muscled man strode into the room. He wore a tight fitting black outfit. On the right breast was the fist-lightning bolt insignia, with four small golden stars beneath it.
Through the open door Paris glimpsed two soldiers standing guard in the hallway beyond. He recognized both from the group in the alley.
“Ah, good,” said the man. “You're awake. My name's Darwin.”
Tuvok wasted no time with formalities. “Why have you abducted us?”
Darwin pointedly ignored Tuvok. Instead, he stood in front of Paris with his arms folded on his chest. Darwin was a head taller than Paris. “Tell your friend I'll not speak to him. He's obviously not from this planet, so I find him doubly inferior. Now, what is your name?”
Paris looked up at Darwin defiantly. “I'm Tom Paris.” He felt strangely emboldened due to an imagined invulnerability as a time traveler. “Got anything to feed us? I haven't eaten in a while, and I'm starving. I'd prefer spaghetti, if you've got it.”
Darwin grinned at Paris, then moved to the window and stared outside, his back to them. “You are a mysterious pair. We know every uniform of every army on this planet. Yours don't belong to any of them. And those badges you had on your chests...There's some very complex microcircuits imbedded in the gold. I doubt anyone on Earth's capable of such fine work. And then there's the matter of your friend's ears...” Darwin turned around and looked at Paris, leaning against the windowsill. “So tell me who you are.”
Paris opened his mouth but—
“And don't lie to me. I have a doctor friend who's very eager to examine your friend. If I don't get the truth—and I'll know if I don't, believe me—I'll let him cut your friend open to see what makes him tick.” He pointed at Tuvok. “There are some mighty peculiar things going on in his chest. I'm very curious as well. And impatient. So start talking.”
Paris looked at Tuvok, who stood by impassively, confident in Paris's ability to improvise. “Well, like you've guessed, we're not from this planet. We're, uh...emissaries...from, uh… the planet...uh...Uhgrok.”
“Uhuhgrok?”
“That's right.” Growing more confident by the second, Paris sauntered over to the desk and leaned against it casually, folding his arms on his chest. Darwin watched expressionlessly. “And we've come here to offer you a deal that, frankly, you'd be stupid to refuse. Which is why you really don't want to kill my friend Tuvok here.”
“He's sub-human and inferior because he's not from Earth. You've just admitted you're not either. Now I may have to kill you both.”
Paris waved his arms hastily. “No, no, I never said I wasn't from Earth. I am, obviously. I mean, look at me. Tuvok and his friends....invited....me to leave Earth when I was younger. And now I'm back.”
“Why? What's the deal I can't refuse?”
Paris looked to Tuvok for support, but Tuvok was watching with his eyebrow raised. Clearly no help there.
“We, uh, we want to offer you membership in our, uh, our galactic community. And we're only offering it to you and yourcolleagues. We realize that you're the most superior group on Earth, the only ones worthy. Forget all those other—” He waved at the window. “—fools out there.”
Darwin looked at Paris for several long, silent moments. Paris waited tensely. Darwin turned his attention to Tuvok, considering. Maybe thinking that perhaps Tuvok wasn't inferior after all. Then, to Paris: “I'm not sure I believe you. But then, considering everything about you two, maybe...” He shrugged. “I'll keep you alive a while longer, until I decide for certain. In the meantime, on the assumption that you are telling the truth, there's something I should show you...”
He motioned Tuvok and Paris to follow, and led them from the room.
They walked a short distance to a windowless room. Numerous crates were stacked around the walls. A safe sat in one corner. In a cleared area in the center of the room was a large table on which sat three shiny silver cylinders, each about two feet high and half a foot in diameter. Flashing buttons and knobs lined the sides of the cylinders. Darwin halted at the table and looked down at the devices. Paris and Tuvok stood at the opposite side of the table.
“Behold the harbingers of change,” said Darwin.
“If I'm not mistaken, these are neutron bombs,” Tuvok said.
“Very pretty, are they not? Nice, shiny...” Darwin caressed the bombs lovingly.
Tuvok and Paris exchanged glances. It was obvious by now that Darwin was not entirely sane.
Darwin muttered to himself, “Today, New York City. Tomorrow, the world....”
“You intend to destroy New York City with these?” Tuvok asked.
Paris was looking down at the bombs. He suddenly had the idea that perhaps he could somehow destroy these bombs and prevent the deaths of millions....But should he?
Darwin answered Tuvok. “Yes. I've got more of these, in other cities around the globe. First New York City goes, and then--”
“Why would you wish to murder millions of innocent people? You claim to be superior, but--”
“They are not innocent!” Darwin shouted. “No one is innocent!” He closed his eyes and breathed heavily, calming himself. Finally he opened them and gazed cooly at the Vulcan, apparently having forgotten his pronouncement of Tuvok's inferiority. “Decades ago, we...my brothers and I--Khan Singh, Baradas, Mikaelmas--we offered the world a better way of life under our glorious rule. They rejected us. Now it's time to cleanse them from the Earth and make room for the new breed of man--my fellows, who share the vision. A glorious new order shall emerge from the ashes of the old.”
One of Darwin's soldiers stepped into the room and loudly cleared his throat. “Sir, we've captured someone snooping around the perimeter of the building.”
Darwin motioned for the prisoner to be brought in.
The soldier waved into the hall. Another soldier brought the prisoner into the room at gunpoint. The prisoner wore a blue uniform with a distorted American flag on the breast.
Darwin waved his men away. They exited the room, leaving the prisoner standing just inside the doorway. Darwin strode forward and glared at the prisoner. “Lt. Allen.”
The prisoner looked around, ignoring Darwin's hawk-eyed gaze. “So this is where you and your scum have been hiding out, eh, Darwin? After Detroit, we knew you'd come to New York City.” He glanced at the bombs on the table. “We heard about your little plan. Been scouring the city to find you, but we've had the damnest time.” He nodded at Paris and Tuvok. “But thanks to our mutual friends...”
Darwin drove his fist into Allen's gut. Allen doubled over, gagging. Darwin whirled on Paris and Tuvok, enraged.
Allen, taking advantage of the distraction, pressed a button concealed on the sleeve of his coat.
“You're working with the Feds?!” Darwin yelled. He advanced on Paris and Tuvok. Paris, thinking fast, opened his mouth to dissuade Darwin--
Gunfire sounded in the distance, echoing throughout the building. Darwin stopped and all three of them listened curiously.
Soldiers ran past the door, headed in the direction of the battle. Except for one, who breathlessly ran into the room and shouted at Darwin. “Feds, sir! Assaulting the main entrance!”
Darwin growled. He grabbed up the rifle lying on the crate near the table. He looked at the soldier and pointed furiously at the three prisoners, indicating that he should stay and guard them. As Darwin rushed out the door, he knocked Allen roughly against the wall.
The three prisoners were left alone with the soldier, who watched them silently. Gunfire reverberated loudly throughout the building. Seconds later the soldier, no longer able to resist the call of the gunfire, backed out the door and shut it. It clicked noisily as locks slid into place.
Allen rushed to the table, looked at Tuvok and Paris. “We don't have much time! I don't know who the two of you are, but you're obviously not working with Darwin, and you've got every agent in the city wondering about you. What kind of uniforms are those?”
There was a sudden loud pounding on the brick wall opposite the door.
Allen backed toward the door. “You'll be safer over here.”
Paris and Tuvok joined Allen by the door. Following Allen's lead, they crouched down and shielded their heads.
“Stick with me,” Allen told them.
A loud explosion rocked them. Flying bricks and dust hurtled inward as the wall opposite the door exploded.
When the dust settled, fading daylight shone into the room through a gaping hole. The safe, which had been in the corner near the destroyed wall, had blown open. Money and credit cards were scattered across the ground before it.
The bombs still sat safely on the table, covered with a layer of fine powder.
They stood and dusted themselves off. Allen rushed forward to the table and grabbed one of the neutron bombs. His arms sagged under the burden as he lifted it. Four soldiers, wearing the same uniform as Allen, darted into the room through the breached wall and nodded to Allen. A pair each grabbed the remaining two bombs and carried them from the room.
Allen motioned to Paris and Tuvok. “Come on! No telling how long that diversion will fool them!”
He hurried out of the room as quickly as his burden allowed.
Tuvok and Paris exchanged looks. Paris shrugged and they went after Allen. Before leaving, Paris bent over and picked up a handful of money from the destroyed safe.
Tuvok arches an eyebrow at him. “Theft, Mr. Paris?”
Paris tucked the money into his uniform. “It's not theft. This money's going to be destroyed along with New York City anyway, so...Besides, we need money if we're going to survive here until we can get back to Voyager.”
Without waiting for a reply, he sprinted over the rubble and out the hole.
They emerged into an abandoned parking lot. A chain link fence, broken in several places, separated the lot from the street beyond. Gunfire and shouts echoed in the distance. Allen stood nearby, waiting impatiently for them. He beckoned them to hurry, then turned and followed the retreating forms of his four comrades. Beyond the fence he turned and ran to the left, disappearing around a corner. Tuvok and Paris looked in the direction Allen had gone. In unspoken agreement they ran the opposite direction, away from Darwin, Allen, and the sound of gunfire.
After three steps Tuvok stops and picked up a discarded hat that lay on the ground, a duplicate of the one he had earlier. After dusting it off he plopped it on his head, then raced away to catch up with Paris.
Half an hour later, they walked down the same street where they'd first appeared. Neon signs lit up the night.
“Why have you returned us to this street, Mr. Paris? We now have the means to secure lodging for the night, and it would seem prudent to do so.”
“We will, Tuvok, we will. But first...”
They came to Luigi's, the shop Paris had noted upon their arrival. Paris looked with joy at the Spaghetti—all you can eat sign in the window.
“...But first, we're going to eat. I know you Vulcans can go without food for days, but I can't. I'm half-starved.”
He opened the door to Luigi's and politely stepped aside so Tuvok could enter first. Sounds of forks clinking against plates and a low buzz of conversation issued from the open door.
“After you.”
Tuvok arched an eyebrow. “Very well, Mr. Paris.” He stepped through the door.
“Oh, and Tuvok...We're not on Voyager right now, and Starfleet's 300 years away. Call me Tom.”
Luigi's was crowded. Smoke drifted through the dim light, and the buzz of conversation was quite loud.
Following a scant meal, Tuvok sat reading a newspaper. The plate on the table before him was immaculately clean, as if it'd already been washed.
Across from Tuvok Paris cleaned his mouth with a napkin which he laid down beside an empty plate smeared with the remnants of spaghetti sauce. He sighed contentedly. “Ah, that really hit the spot.”
Tuvok put the newspaper down on the table. The headline, in big bold letters, read “Feelies being shipped into space--sleeper ship to leave in three days.”
“Are you quite through, Mr. Paris, or shall you attempt to finish a seventh serving?”
“Tom. And no, I don't think I'll order another plate. The waiter's starting to get a little snotty with me.”
“Which is not surprising. Each plate you consume
reduces their profit by a considerable fraction. If they
get many customers with an appetite equal to yours, the owner would be wise to—”
“Yeah, well, I doubt their average customer has been hurtled 300 years into the past, blasted with a primitive weapon that barely deserves to be called a phaser, been kidnaped, met the man who's going to commit genocide next week--all in one day. That makes for quite an appetite.”
“I myself consumed only one serving.”
“Vulcans are masters of deprivation. You're a race of Masochists.”
Tuvok raised an eyebrow.
“Anyway. Have you figured out a way to get us back to Voyager?”
Tuvok glanced at the newspaper beneath his elbow.“I beleive so. However, returning to the 24th century is no longer our top priority.”
“It's not?”
“Of course not. First we must attempt to straighten out the alteration we have caused, or our own timeline will not be there to return to.”
“What alteration?”
“We have caused the neutron bombs to be removed from Darwin's possession. For our time line to progress, we must see that they are returned to him.”
“Wait a minute. How do we know Darwin is the one who detonates the bombs? You said history didn't know which faction destroyed New York City.”
“By his own confession, Darwin plans to destroy New York, as well as various other cities. Lt. Allenand the other American soldiers we encountered took the bombs to prevent that.”
“Yes, but they would have taken the bombs from Darwin anyway, whether we were here or not. Therefore someone else must detonate the bombs, and therefore if we just leave matters as they are things will sort themselves out.”
“That is not correct, Mr. Paris. We led Allen and his comrades to Darwin's hiding place. Allen himself indicated this. Contrary to my belief, our uniformsdid not blend into the crowd. Both factions noticed us. Darwin risked himself by coming out in the opento abduct us, and in so doing revealed himself to Allen, who followed us to Darwin. Therefore we are indeed responsible for the ruin of Darwin's plans.”
Paris thought it over for several moments.“Maybe. So what—you want us to somehow stealthe neutron bombs back from Allen and return them to Darwin, thereby causing World War III and the deaths of 25 million people?”
“We must do so to restore our timeline. We have altered history by our presence here.”
“Right now I don't give one whit about our timeline. These people have just had their death sentencelifted, and I'm not going to condemn them to it again.I won't be responsible for genocide.” He shook his head. “Besides, who's to say that Darwin won't get the bombs back himself? If he's so hell-bent crazy on destroying New York, he'll get them back. And he's got an army to help him. Don't you think it's a littlearrogant to think that he couldn't get the bombs back without us?”
“It is unlikely that Darwin could get them back on his own. The American military bases of this time are known for their utter impregnability.”
“So we couldn't do anything anyway. Case closed.”
“Not quite, Mr. Paris. I happen to have the security codes that will allow access to any base in this country.”
Paris sighed. “Of course. You would, wouldn't you?” He picked up the check, for the moment accepting defeat. “Why don't we go get a hotel room, and then you can tell me how the hell we're going to get back to Voyager when the time comes.”
They walked along casually, looking for a hotel. Paris idly chewed a toothpick. “So tell me, Tuvok--why is it that you just happen to know the security codes to the military bases of mid-21st century Earth?”
“I'm a Starfleet Security specialist, Mr. Paris. It's my job to know. A good deal of my training at the Academy involved the study of the military installations of many worlds, over a span of many centuries. Suchstudy included military codes.”
“Yeah, but--how could you possibly remember such mundane trivialities like a security code from this particular era?”
“Because this particular era is hardly trivial, Mr. Paris. It is a pivotal—”
“I know, I know. World War III and all that. I was trying not to dwell on that, just for a moment. Just out of curiosity, what's the code?”
“The security codes differ for each city, each installation. But they are governed by a relatively simple algorithm which can be used to—”
Tuvok stopped talking as a little girl, her dress dirty and torn, her face smeared with dirt, ran up and tugged on Paris' pant-leg. Paris squatted down so that he was face to face with her. “What is it, honey?”
“Mommy's sick.” She pointed into a nearby alley where a woman, half hidden by shadows, leaned weakly against the wall. “And I'm hungry.”
A tear ran down her cheek. Paris wiped it away with his thumb. With his other hand he reached into his belt and pulled out the money he took from Darwin. He pressed it into the girl's palm. “Here, honey. You take this and get you and your mommy a nice hotel room and a nice hot meal. This should last you until next—next week.”
The girl gave Paris a quick hug and ran back toward her mother.
Paris stood up. They began walking again.
“I trust you realize that you just gave away the last of our money, Mr Paris?”
“That little girl will be dead next week, Tuvok. We don't deserve a good night's sleep.”
“Perhaps the park we sought earlier will suffice to pass the night.”
They came to an intersection. Paris noticed two of Darwin's soldiers across the street, heading their way. The soldiers pointed directly at them and picked up their pace.
Tuvok had seen them too. “This way, Mr. Paris.”
Tuvok turned down a side street. They both began running. They weaved between people. Paris leaped over a fire hydrant which blocked his path.
Two more of Darwin's soldiers roaming the street spotted the Starfleet officers and joined the chase.
“It would appear Mr. Darwin wishes to continue our discussion,” Tuvok said, panting.
“We're pretty popular I guess. Let's hope we don't run into Allen's men as well. By the way, do you know where we're going?”
“Of course. Turn here.”
Paris risked a quick glance over his shoulder. The soldiers were half a block behind. He and Tuvok swerved around a corner.
The street was eerily deserted. Litter blew around in the slight wind. A ten-foot high brick wall, obviously built many years after the surrounding buildings, blocked the far end of street, from one side to the other. Three very large fans were atop the wall, blowing to the other side of the wall. Two soldiers holding guns stood at the foot of the wall, looking bored.
Paris slowed as he saw the wall and the guards.
Tuvok continued running toward the wall.
“Tuvok, where—?”
“Over the wall, Mr. Paris.” Tuvok reached the wall and leapt, catching the top of it and scrabbling to the top.
The guards at the wall ignored him completely.
Darwin's men came racing around the corner, and Paris lurched into motion again. By the time he'd reached the wall, Tuvok was standing atop it. Paris jumped, catching a hold on the top. Tuvok reached down to help him up.
Darwin's soldiers stopped a short distance from the wall. One of them raised his rifle to stun Paris and Tuvok. But the guards, ignoring everything until that moment, raised their weapons and pointed them at Darwin's men. The two soldiers reluctantly lowered their guns and watched helplessly as Tuvok and Paris leaped down to the ground beyond the wall, out of sight.
Paris landed on the ground near Tuvok. “That was too easy. Why didn't those guardstry to stop us from getting inside here?”
“They are not there to stop people from getting in. Their job is to keep people from getting out.”
Paris looked around at the buildings, feeling unseen eyes upon him. “What is this place? A prison?”
“In a manner of speaking. It is a quarantined area, where the last of the Feelies have been relocated for the public good.”
“The Feelies?”
“Humans who are infected with a virus known as T-25, which causes a painful, slow death. Itis transmitted through close contact with aninfected individual—Feelies, as in touch. “
“But why the wall?”
“The Feelies have been sequestered here and are unhappy with the situation. Several of them have escaped and gone on sprees, infecting innocent people. One hundred are held within the confines of these two city blocks--the last known people on the planet known to be infected with the virus. They are to be placed in suspended animation and sent into deepspace three days from now.”
“How do you know?”
“I read it in the paper while you were gorging yourself earlier this evening. This seemed an ideal placeto escape Darwin's men—while at the same time providing us with the means to return to Voyager.”
“The sleeper ship!” Paris said. “Just before we arrived here, the Captain mentioned that Voyager had run across a sleeper ship!”
“Yes, Mr. Paris. I believe it is the same DY-100 class vessel which will carry the Feelies into space in three days.”
“And we're going to be on it. After a 300 year ride through space in suspended animation? Is that the plan?”
Tuvok nodded.
In the shadow of a doorway behind them there was a sudden movement, a subtle shifting of the shadows. Paris didn't notice. “But how? If the government is shipping the Feelies away, why would they allow us on board ship as well? Two strangers who aren't infected? And surely they'll recognize us and detain us before we can board.Allen must have described us—”
A loud cough sounded from the shadow in the doorway, and a man stepped forward.
“We will be allowed on board the sleeper ship, Mr. Paris. We have just been infected with the virus. We're Feelies.”
The man limped toward them, his skin milk-white and exhaustion in his eyes.
From other doorways, more Feelies limped into view, forming a circle around the Starfleet officers.
“You deliberately got us infected with a fatal disease!” Paris whispered fiercely.
“Relax, Mr. Paris. Once we get back to Voyager the Doctor will purge us and these people of the virus.”
“You can't know for certain that we were on that sleeper ship Voyager finds in the future!”
“But I can, Mr. Paris. The sleeper ship would not be capable of reaching the Delta Quadrant in only 300 years. Therefore I must have reprogrammed its navigation system to take it through a wormhole that I know will open briefly near Vulcan approximately 100 years from now. That wormhole's terminus was—or rather, will be—in the Delta Quadrant.”
Paris relaxed a bit. “You appear to have given this a great deal of thought.”
“Trust me, Mr. Paris.”
Paris nodded and turned to the circle of people surrounding them. “This is your lucky day,” he said jovially.

Somehow, the Feelies got word out to Darwin, and within the hour he was on the visi-phone with Tuvok.
Tuvok laid out his proposition. “You need your neutron bombs, and we both know you will not be able to retrieve them from Lt. Allen. However, I can give you the code which will allow you to enter his base and get your bombs.”
“Why would you want to help me?”
“That is not your concern. Suffice it to say that for now, our goals coincide.”
“And what is your price for the code?” Darwin asked shrewdly.
“In three days, a DY-100 class sleeper ship will be launched. I want your men there, to see that Mr. Paris and I are passed aboard without question. And I have a list of supplies that you will have loaded aboard, as well.”
“What you ask will be difficult.”
“But within your capabilities, I am sure.”
Darwin studied Tuvok a moment, then nodded. “But what makes you believe you can trust me?”
“It is a known fact that you and your brethren value your word more than your lives. Do we have a bargain?”
“We do. You have my word. Give me the code.”
Tuvok shook his head. “First, I will need to know the location of Allen's base, and the date of its inception. Then I will require ten minutes for calculations. After that, you shall have the code in a form that won't be accessible by you until four days hence.”
Darwin growled. “Done. Here is the information you require.”
When Tuvok shut down the visi-phone, Paris sighed heavily. “We've just consigned 25 million people to their deaths, Tuvok. One of the greatest atrocities in human history, and I'm partly responsible.”
“How so, Mr. Paris.”
Tom Paris merely sighed and wandered off to be alone.

Two days later, Tuvok, Paris and 100 virus-ridden humans were frozen and loaded aboard a sleeper ship. The next day they were launched into the depths of space.
Three days after that, World War III began following the obliteration of New York City by an act of terrorism.

Over 300 years later, Tom Paris sat at the table in his quarters on Voyager.  The Feelies had been purged of the virus and would be dropped off on the next uninhabited Earth-like planet Voyager came across.
A plate of spaghetti, made from supplies brought from Earth on the sleeper ship, lay untouched on the table before Tom.
He was holding a PADD that displayed a photograph of the ruins of New York City, three days after the city's destruction. He stared at it for a long time.
Finally he set the PADD down beside his cold spaghetti and buried his head in his hands.

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