It is impossible
to go through life without trust
that is to be imprisoned
in the worst cell of all,
The sudden silence was deafening.
The firefight had ended abruptly except for a couple of stray shots by
those who hadn't yet realized that the other side was no longer firing
"No life signs from the other side,
Captain," reported Ayala quietly after scanning with his tricorder.
Chakotay climbed to his feet, cautiously
emerging from the cover of the large boulder. The attack had come out of
nowhere by aliens who had been dogging Voyager's tail for the past
two weeks. Pride in his crew's ability to handle the unexpected calmed
Chakotay's racing heart. He gazed around. They had survived with only superficial
wounds. Or so he thought until he heard Kim's panicked voice.
Following the voice, Chakotay found
Harry Kim kneeling over a weakly struggling Tom Paris. Chakotay cursed
silently. When the aliens had descended upon them he had forgotten that
Paris had been brought along on the away team to help collect foodstuffs
for Voyager. And Paris was unarmed.
Kneeling next to Kim, Chakotay did
a quick visual inspection of Paris. The other man was having difficulty
breathing due to a wound to his throat. Paris' hands clawed at his throat
in a futile effort to clear an airway. Chakotay slapped his commbadge.
"Chakotay to Voyager."
"Voyager here, Captain."
Chakotay frowned. What the hell had
possessed Torres to leave the Bridge to a Fleeter while she personally
attended to the transporter problems? Shoving that worry to the back of
his mind, he snapped out, "Baytart, are the transporters back up yet?"
Chakotay mentally crossed his fingers.
He should have known this away mission was doomed when B'Elanna had commed
him shortly after they had transported down to report that the transporters
had gone offline. At the time she had advised it would take at least twenty
minutes to get the transporter back up and then a few more to run a safety
check, and Chakotay knew from experience that B'Elanna wasn't one to pad
her repair times.
B'Elanna's voice came on the comline.
"Captain, we won't have transporters back up for another ten minutes. Seven
Closing the link without another
word, Chakotay leaned over Paris, grabbing his flailing hands. "Hold his
hands down, Harry."
Harry Kim did as ordered by the Captain,
hoping he wasn't misplacing his trust in this man. He knew the Captain
disliked Paris and would be happy to be rid of him but he didn't think
the Captain would ever resort to outright murder. Not any more, anyway.
Chakotay probed at Paris' neck wound,
searching for the actual entry point of the projectile from the alien weapons
through the blood that obscured the wound. He ignored Paris' increasingly
frantic movements, until Paris' body bucked upward.
"Damnit! Hold him still, Harry! Sit
on him if you have to."
Swallowing, Harry put more muscle
into holding Tom down.
Site of wound located, Chakotay realized
that Paris was choking on his own blood. None of them had the medical expertise
to know what the precise problem was but most of them, those of them in
the Maquis, had experience in dealing with emergency medical situations
in the field.
"Medkit!" he yelled, only to have
Seska run up holding their only medkit, which had been blasted into several
pieces by a stray shot. Chakotay was startled by a stray thought that wondered
if the medkit had really been destroyed in the firefight or if Seska, seeing
who was in need of it, had destroyed the kit. Her hatred for Paris had
been clear from the beginning and had not dissipated with time.
Quickly scanning the destroyed medkit,
all Chakotay could see that might be of use were a few stray bandages.
It was more than obvious that the most immediate concern was Paris' inability
to breathe. They would have to perform an emergency tracheotomy. For the
first time, Chakotay was glad that he had been forced to do this on the
field in the past.
Before he could verbalize his needs,
Ayala was there with a 20-centimeter length of hollow reed from a nearby
plant. Nodding his thanks, Chakotay grimly took the reed from Ayala, who
had taken in the situation and, like Chakotay, had known instantly what
needed to be done.
Reaching under Paris' tunic and fumbling
toward the waistband of the other man's trousers, Chakotay found what he
was looking for, what he knew would be there. Harry's eyes widened when
Chakotay pulled out a wicked looking dagger. Seska angrily muttered beneath
her breath before turning her back on the proceedings and stomping off.
Ayala had already retreated to round up the rest of the away team until
such time as beam up was possible.
Sitting back, Chakotay quickly sterilized
the blade of the knife with the low power setting of his phaser. When he
moved back toward Tom's neck with the knife, Harry suddenly understood
what the Captain intended.
"Hold him, Harry. If he moves and
the knife slips . . ."
Chakotay didn't have to finish the
sentence for Harry. He lay his upper body across Tom's and put all his
strength into holding the other man down.
Chakotay's large hands moved to Paris'
head, firmly angling it so that their eyes met. Paris' were wide and anxious
with his inability to breathe. The anxiety increased when he saw who hovered
"Paris, listen to me. I have to do
a tracheotomy. You're going to drown in your own blood if I don't. The
medkit's gone, so no painkillers. You have to stay absolutely still. Understand?"
Paris' weak struggles died down but
the fear in his eyes grew.
"Trust me, Paris. Just this once."
Chakotay's tone was soft, firm, sincere. Paris' eyes closed briefly and
then he relaxed as much as a body starving for oxygen can relax.
Chakotay made the cut quickly, cleanly,
pushed the hollow reed in, and cleaned the excess blood away. Moving so
he was kneeling at the top of Paris' head, he watched the injured man closely
until the other man's breathing, still ragged but evening out, steadied.
He held the reed in place, having nothing to hold it clamped to the incision
he had made in Paris' throat for the breathing tube to be inserted into
the injured man's windpipe. Dark eyes met blue ones and Chakotay surprised
himself by saying, "Hold on, Paris. You're going to be all right. Stay
with me here. You're going to be fine."
Their gazes locked and held. Chakotay
couldn't say there was trust in the other man's gaze but the fear was no
longer there and the blue eyes held his with a probing look that spoke
of unanswered questions that would most likely never be asked. The distance
between the two men was too great for that to ever happen. But for one
brief moment, Paris' life had been in Chakotay's hands and Chakotay had
not failed him. It was a beginning. Chakotay wasn't sure whether it pleased
him or not. He had no desire to become even remotely friendly with Paris.
When his commbadge chirped, Chakotay
indicated that Harry should take his place holding Paris' breathing tube.
Standing, Chakotay didn't miss the way Harry's hand tightly gripped Paris'
shoulder in silent sympathy. He tapped his commbadge. "Chakotay here."
"Transporters are back up, Captain,"
"Beam Mr. Paris and Mr. Kim directly
to Sickbay, Torres. The rest of us will follow shortly." Chakotay silently
watched the two men disappear as Voyager's transporter claimed them.
"You should have let him die."
A cold anger settled in the pit of
Chakotay's stomach as he turned to face Seska. "I've had enough of your
attitude regarding Paris, Seska. Stow it."
Her gaze narrowed. "You like him,"
"No. But he's a valuable member of
this crew. We need his piloting skills and he's done nothing since I've
granted him the helm position to deserve a death sentence. So get his death
off your agenda because I'm telling you for the final time it won't happen
by my hand. And if any of the crew," his dark eyes pinpointed her meaningfully,
"get it in their minds to take the situation into their own hands, they'll
answer to me."
Angry, Seska strode to the other
side of the clearing. Her back remained to Chakotay as an outward sign
of her displeasure.
"You did the right thing."
Chakotay turned to gaze in surprise
at Ayala. Ayala grinned. "What? You expected me to push for Paris' death?
I don't like the guy, Chakotay. But, in my eyes, he hasn't done anything
to deserve a death sentence. Seska's got it in for the guy for some reason
other than his past with the Maquis. You might want to keep an eye on her."
Chakotay's astonished gaze followed
Ayala as the other man went to round up the rest of the away team for beam
up. He had thought Ayala one of the Maquis crew's biggest proponents for
doing away with Paris. The man radiated animosity whenever he was in Paris'
company. It restored his faith that not all the Maquis thought as Seska
Left alone with his own thoughts,
Chakotay found he still didn't regret backing down from his decision to
execute Paris. The execution had not been something his father would have
approved. In fact, Chakotay knew that his father would have despised the
cold Maquis warrior he had become for a brief period. He now felt at ease
with his soul and conscience and he knew his father smiled down upon him,
despite his past mistakes. No, he had made the right choice in not executing
Shaking his head, he joined the others
for beam up. Still, Paris was going to be the death of him yet. The man
didn't seem to know how to stay out of harm's way and Chakotay had to wonder
how seriously he himself was taking this life debt between himself and
Paris. Perhaps it ran deeper in his blood than he thought.
Only time would tell. And he still
couldn't promise that he wouldn't strangle Paris out of sheer frustration
one of these days. But for now, he was at ease with the status quo between
himself and the other man.
So, will Captain Chakotay give the
dagger back to Paris? Now that could make for an interesting scene. Will
Paris express gratitude to Chakotay for saving his life or make a snarky
comment? Seska has plots, I think, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to
see Paris damaged from her machinations. Will fighting a common foe draw
Chakotay and Paris a little closer when it comes out that Seska is a Cardassian
and is plotting Voyager's downfall with the Kazon?
Hey, Maisie, doesn't this make you
want to write something? Certainly makes me want to write something.