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    Fire In The Sky
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            Page Two

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It was already October dusk by the time the small group made it back
to Tag 51.

Roy and Tom hastened to get Chakotay inside a warm sleeping bag
while Johnny got out a portable O2 canister from Roy's larger field pack
in the main tent.  He set its mask over Chakotay's face and put
it only at the lowest flow rate he needed. "This has got to last the night
until he recovers more circulation into his lungs." Gage said to Tom, about
Chakotay's shock. He retreated immediately for more firewood.

Roy watched Paris nod in agreement then watched him start to
gather Chakotay up by the shoulders. "What are you doing?" he
asked. "It's gonna be dry enough here by the tent."

Tom stopped lifting and said. "He's cold. I'm moving him closer to
the campfire."

"Not with this oxygen here you're not. This is highly flammable."
Roy insisted.

"Oh." Paris said, "You're right. I...sort of forgot about that."

Johnny had returned with an armful of logs and understood at once,
what had happened at a glance. "I can fix both of your problems.
Hang on..." he said smiling.

He returned with a few hot rocks on a beach towel from the fire's
edge. "Line the bag with these.. He'll be warm with these nestled
against him and the O2 won't be risked so near the fire..."

Roy and Tom both said, "Thanks."

All three got to planting hot boulders into place inside the sleeping
bag and around the injured man. Slowly, Chakotay stopped his involuntary
shivering.

Paris said, once Chakotay was comfortably bundled and heated.
"I do appreciate what you're doing for Chakotay and me. I... just
feel a little out of my element here."

Johnny grinned. "So do we."

"Think nothing of it." DeSoto reassured him with a slight grin that
didn't hide his medical worrying.

Roy and Tom and Johnny were deep into discussing a rescue plan
to get Chakotay along the fastest route back to civilization when a cough
from the bedroll attracted their attention. All three men scrambled
over to him in the darkness, shining a flashlight onto his face.

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Johnny eased the oxygen mask off long enough to make sure things
were fine with the commander's breathing after he pulled out
the short airway. He hadn't vomited.

He was shocked to see dark eyes blinking up at his own in confusion.
"Easy there, Mr. Chakotay. I've got a friend of yours right here. You've
had a fall but we're taking real good care of you so don't try to move
around just yet. You've internal injuries." Gage shared softly, holding
him still with a gentle hand on his chest.

"T--Tom?" Chakotay's panting got out.

"Right here, Comman-  uh,  coming....." Paris said, leaning in on
the first officer. "I found these two firemen who have emergency
medical training as paramedics. We're in their campsite and
we're working on a way to get you to some help right now."

"Can't-t. go into town, Tom.. Can't.." he said, tossing his head as
he fought awake. "Not our place."

"Of course we can. We'll be real polite and accomodating, okay?
We have to forget being a pair of hermits for a while. So what?" Paris
said in a backstory, "Lie still."

Chakotay wasn't listening. He was still lost in the truth.
".. can't break the Pr--" he gasped, muzzy.

Paris pretended a cough, cutting him off.
"Shhh," Tom said, replacing the hissing mask over Chakotay's face. "We
have to.  These two men and I agree that your condition is only
going to worsen without intervention and I myself can't help you
alone with our bandaids and rolling tape." he said significantly to him.

His meaning got through to Chakotay at last and he nodded slowly.
He lifted his hand to touch Tom's shoulder in understanding when
he noticed the clear I.V. fluid line running into it.

His look of surprise made Roy say, "It's only normal saline.
Keeping your blood pressure up. If you've noticed, your belly
pain's the reason why we started one on you. We think you may
be bleeding out inside into your abdomen.  Tomorrow morning
at daybreak, two of us are going to hike for help from the nearest
ranger station. Either Johnny or I will stay here with you until
rescue workers come to fly you out of here."

"Fly? Oh, ..fly.." said Chakotay, thinking carefully, orienting himself
to time a possible period. Tom Paris pantomimed a crafty set of
fingers framed into Roman numerals behind the paramedics' back at
Chakotay addressing his guess at a year.

"I'll stay, Roy." Johnny said, "I'm worn out from carrying him. What did
they feed ya at that commune, Chakotay? I think you've crippled
me for life, man." he joked, popping his stiff shoulders.

Tom stiffened up at his superior's unhappy reaction to that little lying
story previously dished out. Paris pretended to fuss with the Commander's
O2 flow valve on the primitive gas tank. "Yeah, this is good. At a two."
he read avoiding the measurement term he couldn't guess at, with
mm/L symbols on the dial. "Better?" he asked.

Chakotay just grunted and swallowed around his dry mouth.

Desoto reached up and set the mask on Chakotay's chest so the
flow still reached him as he offered Chakotay a mug of warmish tea
and sugar. "Thirsty at all? Just sip it or you might get nauseated.
No, don't move, let your friend help you with that straw there."  

Johnny looked at Roy.  "We have a straw?"

Roy shrugged his shoulders.  "I got kids."

"Thanks for the tea."
The Voyager first officer got in about two mouthfuls before the
effort exhausted him. He closed his eyes. "Oh, I've had better
days. This isn't one of them."

"So I've heard." Johnny said, studying Chakotay's face.
"Say, is your head bothering you?" he asked, feeling around
Chakotay's forehead and neck for problems.

Chakotay looked at him. "Not at all. I just feel a little shaky and
I have some discomfort in my shoulders. Funny, I don't
remember getting hurt there."

"Both of them? At the very top on both sides of your shoulders?"
Gage asked quickly.

Chakotay nodded.

Roy and Johnny exchanged glances. ::Spleen then.:: "It's pain that's
being referred from farther down. So far, the I.V.'s keeping your BP
elevated but we think the hemorrhaging you're having will get worse
before it gets better. We've done all we can until we get in contact
with a doctor." John said.

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Tom slowly nodded an affirmation to Chakotay subtlely, telling him
the same story was true about the Delta Flyer's state of disrepair
and disability.

"What kind of chances do I have for surviving until help arrives."
Chakotay asked realistically.

Roy answered instantly. "We'll do everything we can for you to keep
you going.  Exploratory surgery will be the telling factor determining
that in the long run." he said truthfully.

"I see." Chakotay said, then he met the paramedic's eyes evenly.
"May I have a few words with Tom? Alone?"

"Of course." Johnny said.

John and Roy retreated to the edge of the ring of firelight, ten yards
away to prepare a quick dinner for those who could eat
and to pack up the things they would need for the journey in the
morning.

Tom looked down the moment the two Earth men were out of
earshot. "Commander. I did what I had to do. I couldn't treat you
myself with just a tricorder. That beam smashed both med kits."

"Listen, Tom. I know you did what you thought was best. But the
Prime Directive is clear. No contact when out of time. At all. I'm
willing to be sacrificed to preserve the timeline."

"Sir."

"Mr. Paris. That's an order.."

Tom's mouth worked a bit. "I'm sure the captain wouldn't agree with
you. We didn't ask for those Borg to come and try to assimilate us.
We were making a simple trading run, Chakotay. I'm sure that Voyager's
somewhere out there, right now, trying to find us despite of the
danger that Cube might represent. We have a chance to get back,
sir. I left a trail for her the Borg will never think to follow."

"You did what?" Chakotay said angrily. "How could you put Voyager
in danger like that. The second we were discovered by that Cube,
our mission instantly became one to keep Voyager from being
discovered, even at the expense of our own lives. You know
Kathryn's got a stubborn streak a light year long. She's going to
try to use that trail to find us and that activity'll bring the Borg right
down on top of Voyager and afterwards, to this Earth here, of the
past."

"Hear me out Chakotay. Yes, I had the Mustang in a back cargo hold
on the Flyer. I just... leaked a can of old fashioned gasoline out
into space through the trash dump as we were being tractored in.
I even suspect that some of it even got sucked into that wormhole
with us before it ran out. Now you tell me whether or not the Borg are
smart enough to even track a technological substance that is so
primitively organic. To the Borg, mere gasoline is irrelevant. And everyone
knows Borg drones make rotten grease monkeys. They'll never know."

That shut Chakotay up. ::Do I dare hope?:: he thought to himself.

Tom pressed his advantage. "You don't deserve to be facing this
choice of whether or not you live or die, Commander. So far,
you're the only one willing to throw your life away just for the sake
of following proper protocol. We can still pull this off. I can get
you to a hospital, then swing back to the Flyer and get a tricorder
and my notes to keep from making any further transgressions
into their timeline. The second you're cured, I'll break you out of
bed, we get back here, make repairs, and then we're home free."

Chakotay's eyes narrowed, "Are you sure that wormhole's not going
anywhere?"

"Positive. It's trailing Halley's comet like it always does every
seventy years to Earth, making its tail grow. It's at 74,000 kph,
and holding, coming this way. We could catch it on one impulse
engine if we have to."

"Only one?" Chakotay asked.

Tom firmly placed the O2 mask over his commander's face again.
"Only one."

Sighing, Chakotay nodded slowly, "Do it." and gave himself up
to the sleep pulling him under.

An instinct made Johnny rise and walk back over to Tom and
Chakotay. "Hey, he's out again.. Why didn't you call us back over?"
he said irritably. He felt the big man's neck for a carotid.

"He's fine, John. Only sleeping. Best thing for him right now. Best
thing for us, too. Roy, you and I should hit the hay. Or, one staying up
and spelling in turns to keep watch on him?" he suggested.

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Johnny nodded and handed Tom a freeze dried meal, so he'd
have something to eat.  Tom looked at it strangely.  Johnny saw
his apprehension.  "It's filled with carbs, protein.  It's what the
astronauts take with them.  I bet you haven't eaten in awhile."

Tom nodded and took the bar from Johnny.  He tore it open, sniffed
it and took a bite. ::My first meal back on Earth is what they gave
astronauts.::   "Umm, tasty."


Johnny smiled.  "I know it's not the best, but it's nutritious and easy
to carry."  Tom looked at him while he ate his meal.  "And Tom,
call me Johnny.  John is too formal."

"Okay, Johnny." Paris grinned.

Johnny finished checking Chakotay and realized that Tom was
right. The man WAS only sleeping. The oxygen had made him
relax, too, a bit, for the muscles in his abdomen were not so
knotted anymore. ::Maybe the hemorrhaging's easing off.:: he
speculated. But then that idea got replaced with the voice of
experience. ::Internal bleeds from the URQ always need surgery,
Johnny Gage. For a spleen IS a blood resevoir. How can you
stop a leak from a lake that big? It can only get bigger.. This is
just a reprieve.:: his mind told him.

He frowned remembering his own splenectomy after his hit and
run accident. He had almost died from his internal injury then.
That didn't end up happening but Gage had lost his spleen and
a little of his stamina as a result of his brush with death.

Tom spoke up, "Anything you need me to do while you take the
first vigil over him?"

"I'll be fine. Bring a fresh load of hot stones in an hour and I'm
good." he finally answered the man.

"All right. Call me if anything changes. I'll be right over there by
Roy. We're sleeping outside so we'll hear you." Tom said.

"Go. We've a busy day ahead of us tomorrow an' I know you're
bushed." Gage chided, heading off Tom's protest, then he
started taking a set of vitals on Chakotay.  ::Still the same. He's
holding. But there's only so much you can do with hot stones
and a little water.:: he realized.

John hunkered down next to the pile of steaming stones for
warmth, with a grip on the pulse beating in Chakotay's wrist to
monitor him.  

He started to lightly doze, but the doze was that of all firemen,
always alert to his surroundings.

=========================

Roy watched Tom approach him and tossed him a tied up
sleeping bag. "How is he?"

"Sleeping. His vitals are the same. It seems that I.V. thingamabob
actually works."

Roy looked oddly at Tom. "It's the cutting edge of paramedical
medicine. It should work. Although I'd feel better with a MAST
suit handy."

"And I'd feel better with the EMH in hand."

"What's an EMH?" Desoto asked.

"Oh, I meant, EMS. Yeah, the Emergency Medical Services."

"Wouldn't we all?" Roy chuckled. "There's no point in living in
California if we didn't have them available. That's why I joined the
department. Try to get some rest. Dawn'll come before you know it."

"You, too." Tom said. He stretched out uneasily, dreading what
could come and haunted by what had already arrived.

Roy's voice next to him made him jump. "My partner's very
good at what he does.  Your friend isn't going to die in the
night.  Johnny won't let that happen."

"I hope you're right."

"I know I'm right. I taught Johnny everything he knows."

"Thanks, Mr. DeSoto."

"No problem.  Call me Roy."

"Okay, Roy." Comforted, Tom dropped off into fitful sleep.
He never even felt Roy come over to cover him with a blanket
to ward off the cold.  

============================

 
It was a long cold night for Johnny.  He looked at his watch
and realized that neither Tom or Roy should take the next shift,
with the long walk to come, as he was feeling okay. Knowing that
he'd be staying behind with Chakotay meant he'd be able to rest
well later. So Johnny decided to let the two sleep on.

The fire was still glowing and its warmth felt good, even from
a distance.  Johnny got up and checked Chakotay's vital
signs and his overall condition yet again.  He was still the same,
on the low side of normal, which was a good sign to Johnny. His
shock was still taking a very slow advancement for his type
of injury.

Johnny was about to pull his hand away, when it was gripped
by Chakotay's sweating one.

"Everything is okay, Chakotay.  Just try to rest."  Johnny made to
break the grip, but he was held firm.  He gave up trying to ease
the stricken man in the grip of his new pain, Johnny started talking
with him. "What tribe are you from?"

Chakotay opened his eyes in confusion and looked at John.  
He noticed Johnny's features and realized Johnny was a Native
American. But then his better reasoning kicked in. Afraid of the Prime
Directive, Chakotay didn't respond.

"I'm Sioux Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota."
Johnny offered to him.

Chakotay heard the information, but it didn't register to John that
he knew what that meant. The man just shook his head, released
his grip on Johnny's palm and closed his eyes.

Roy approached the two and knelt down next to Johnny.  "How's
he doing?"

"No changes."

"You were supposed to wake me."

"I wasn't THAT tired so I figured I stay on."

"You're gonna have your hands busy when you're alone again
with him, in about an hour.  You need your rest, too."

"Yes, Dad." Gage teased, finally agreeing.

The two men stood up.  Johnny walked over to the sleeping bags
and gingerly got into the one Roy just vacated.  At least Roy's body
heat was still there.  Johnny put his left arm over his face and was
asleep in seconds.

Roy, relieved that Johnny was settled, moved some heated rocks close
to himself.  He leaned back against the spot that Johnny had used and
he let his mind wander.  He thought about their two new companions
and what possible reasons could exist about what they might be escaping.
::Commune refugees? Doesn't make sense. Despite of that story from the
both of them, their actions are speaking louder than their words.
It's clear they're holding back information about themselves. Not
divulging any history at all. I wonder why?::

But then his concern over his patient made him fuss over the splint and
O2 and I.V. line and suddenly, his unsubstantiated doubts were low priority.
::If I'm going to risk treating this man, I better be right in my decision to
assume his care outside my sphere of influence like this with the I.V.::
he mentally decided.

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Time passed slowly.

Morning hues of marmalades and lemon sunlight brightened the eastern
sky.  Tom Paris woke up with a start, but quickly remembered where he
was.  Sleeping near him was Johnny.  On the other side of the campsite,
Roy was sitting near Chakotay.  Roy was asleep sitting up.  His hand was
on Chakotay's arm, where he could still feel the movement of the
commander's breathing underneath it.  Tom looked at Roy and then
looked at Johnny. ::From what I've read about firemen from the past, these
guys are real heroes.  Boy am I lucky that they found us.:: he thought.

Tom got out from the sleeping bag and went to the provisions.  He saw
the coffee pot that Johnny had mentioned the day before.  He went down to
the stream, carrying the canteens and stared at the water.  Emotions
welled up inside of him.  He was on earth, his actual home. Even if it wasn't
his real time, it was still feeling painfully like home.  ::I can't think about it.  
We can't stay here.:: Bending down, Tom cupped his hands and slurped up
some cold water from a canteen. It chilled him but tasted sweet.  He
filled up the other canteens from the nearby trout stream and headed
back to the campsite.

Tom found the coffee grounds in a sack and he really had to remember
how to prepare the fresh coffee. ::Wow, this is the real stuff, not from a
food dispenser or one of Neelix's paltry coffee like concoctions, but real
fresh java. Oh, Kathryn.:: he thought. ::If only you were here. You'd be in
heaven.:: he smiled about Captain Janeway.

Doing the best he could, Tom put the coffee grounds into the top and the
water in the bottom and put the percolator on the grate covering the fire.  
He continued rummaging through the food supplies.  The least he could
do was make breakfast for his new friends.

Johnny heard Tom moving about the camp and got up.  Stretching to
get the kinks out, he walked over to Roy.  He bent down and looked at
Chakotay and the oxygen mask to make sure it was still in place and flowing.  
Roy woke up hearing Johnny inflate the BP cuff.

"I thought you were going to wake Tom."  Johnny asked as the cuff
hissed out for a reading.

"He woke himself. Probably worrying a bit." DeSoto shrugged. Looking
at their patient, Roy asked, "How is Mr. Chakotay?"

"Holding his own.  I'll watch him while you get yourselves ready for the
hike." Johnny sat down in Roy's place and Roy got up.  He walked over
to the fire and picked up a canteen and took a long swallow.
"Smells good, what are you making, Tom?"

"I found your pancake mix so I experimented.  I found fresh
berries that you had picked and stored over there so I added them
to the batter."

Roy bent down and picked up two mugs and poured out a cup of coffee.  
Finding the sugar he put in three teaspoons.  "Want some coffee, too?"  
Roy took a sip.

Tom flipped some pancakes and nodded his head yes. "I can't refuse."
he grinned.

Roy poured a cup for him and placed it down.  He then moved the coffee
pot away from his partner, fearing a repeat of Johnny's accident. He
teased him a bit by making a show of dragging it away from his booted feet
without saying anything.

"I learned my lesson, Roy. Would you cut it out?" Gage griped.

"How's Chakotay doing, Mr. DeSoto?" Paris asked.

"He's holding his own.  Amazing, considering the belly bleed. I bet he
comes from strong stock.  After breakfast, we should get moving.  
It will take four hours to get to that park base.  And even then the rangers'll
have to muster a group with stokes and their gear for about fifteen more
minutes before we can start back here. Afterwards, it'll take even more
time until we can cut out a safe clearing for a helicopter."

Tom frowned.

"You're not afraid of flying are you?"  Roy smiled.

Tom laughed.  "Me? Of flying? No fear whatsoever. It's just that--
Oh, never mind." he said when his amusement failed him at the memory
of Delta Flyer's current condition.

Tom sat with Chakotay while Roy and John ate breakfast nearer to
the fire.  Tom was worried.  He was worried for his friend's well being,
but the longer they were away from their shuttle, the more difficult it
would be to get back onboard ship once Voyager detected them.

Roy was packing up his backpack and provisions that he'd carry with him.  
Tom was also rolling up a map they had shown him which showed the
route to the Ranger base and he expertly tested the hand held radio
with the familiarity of solid Captain Proton holodeck experience.

Roy watched Johnny take a couple of aspirins.
"You okay?"

Gage looked up from the face he was making as he washed down
the acrid stuff with left over coffee from his mug.
"Yeah, I'm fine.  Just a bit achy.  Carrying him all that way made me sore.  
The aspirin will help." Then he realized that Roy was mother henning
him again. He turned sarcastic while Roy grinned, "Listen, just forget
about my dumb aches. You be sure to use that radio when you're
gone. We've got that nice range of ten miles. And they should still work
the distance between us even when you both get there to the tower."  
He shivered as he bound his down vest tighter around himself.

Roy looked at his friend but Johnny turned away.  Roy wasn't sure if
Johnny was telling the complete truth about his energy level. He
decided to let Johnny manage his own reserves and let things go
without further prying. ::My main worry is for Chakotay.::
"Let's go Tom."

Tom nodded, but before leaving, he walked over to Chakotay. He
knelt by the Commander but didn't disturb him beyond speaking.  
"Chakotay, I'm leaving now with Roy.  John, I mean Johnny, will be
staying behind.  He'll take good care of you, so don't worry.  
Leave it to me and them to find us that medical help like we talked
about last night."

The Commander didn't indicate that he knew Tom was above him.
But Tom knew even in his deep sleep, he had been heard.

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With that, Tom and Roy left.

---------------------------------

They made good time. Tom hefted his pack a little more
firmly around his shoulders about an hour later. He
broke their concentrated silence while they navigated
the narrow trail leading to the ranger's tower that they could
see far across the valley.

The distance Paris figured they had still yet to go prompted
a question from him to his paramedic guide. "Seems to me
that you two should have had a vehicle or other form of transportation
a little closer to camp than this. I saw your flight glider in the grove
before we left."

Roy smiled, turning back, moving a pine bow out of his
companion's way, "Flight glider? Oh, you mean Johnny's
hang glider. Heh. That's a hobby of his he's managed
to hang onto years after I gave it up. He says it helps build
character making him "one with the eagles" soaring up
there. Some years he actually finds them flying in the valley."

Tom nodded back. "Nice.."

Roy went on, "To answer your question, we hiked in instead of driving
for a similar reason. Johnny likes feeling like he's shedding
the city in the process of getting to camp. Takes a full nine miles to
do that he says."

Paris sighed, "Right now. I wish I could just snap my fingers and
undo everything that happened to us in the last day or two."

Roy laughed, "Don't think that'd ever be possible." And he forged
on ahead along the trail.

Tom muttered under his breath, "Oh, you'd be surprised if I told
you it was..." he said softly, thinking of the Q.

DeSoto didn't hear him as he took up his binoculars and
spied ahead, in line of sight with the tower. "We should be
close enough." And he retuned his handy radio to the universal
distress frequency to contact any rangers who might be
there. "Mayday. Mayday. Mayday. This is Roy DeSoto on
emergency band 21. Come in ranger station.."

Static met his ears.

Tom's forehead furrowed, "What's the range on that thing again?"

"Ten miles."

Tom eyeballed the shimmering tower he saw through the fog
on the ridge across the valley. "We're way closer than
that to it. Any radio over there should be picking us up.."

Roy pointed to another section of the ridge. "This is
Cretaceous Strata below us. Bound to be some magnetic
interference from the rocks around here in isolated pockets.
We just may be over one. Come on.." And he gestured for
Tom to follow him. "We'll try again in the meadow. It's just ahead."

--------------------------------

Johnny cleaned up camp keeping an ear out for Chakotay.
He didn't stray far from the wounded man's side as he
worked.

He eyeballed the fire. ::I think I'll keep that going all day.
He's gonna get chilled even more than he already is
with that belly bleed.::
When he was through, he knelt by the big man's side
and looked at his pupils again using the sun light for
his stimuli. Chakotay did not awaken.

Concerned, Johnny felt the strength of his breathing
with a hand and gently shook his shoulder. "Hey.
How are you doing?"

Chakotay startled awake. "Look out! We're gonna cra--"
he shouted, jolting awake. He cut off his sentence when
he saw Johnny's face above his own.

Gage straightened his face growing serious. "Just what
do you mean by that? And don't tell me you were having
a dream. Is that what you two were really up to when we
found you?  Flying un-permitted into National Park airspace's
illegal."

Chakotay froze as his memory returned in snatches, of
exactly where he was. He could tell by his benefactor's
body english that anything but the truth wasn't going
to wash. He told the truth. Boldly. "You're right. We
crashed while..... sightseeing."

Johnny threw his head to the side, "Aowww man.. Did
your friend check to make sure fuel didn't spill out?
Last thing we need is a forest fire starting."

Chakotay smiled, "Don't have to worry about that
with our flyer, our "fuel"'s not your standard variety
combustible."

Gage sighed, "Don't tell me, you two are thrill
seekers, experimental pilots and fellow adventurers
all rolled into one."

"You could say that. Part of the job."

Gage's grin dropped away, "Then why the cover story?"

"Wouldn't you lie too if you crashed down into forbidden territory?
Picture the consequences. Revoked pilot's licenses,
criminal trespass charges, worse...." Chakotay said.

Johnny said, "Yeah, well. My responsibility to you is strictly
medical. I don't want to get involved in a court scene over
this any more than I have to. Once we get you to the hospital.
You don't know me."

"I can live with that." Chakotay admitted, inwardly pleased
that his rescuer wanted little contact with the Flyer's
crash site. He shifted his neck on the bundle of clothes
his head rested on and winced at a sharp stab which
took his breath away.

Johnny instantly caught his head. "Easy. Staying still
has been masking your injuries. You're still bleeding
internally." he reported, turning on the O2 again when
Chakotay's lips turned blue while his skin paled. "This
will help a bit."

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Chakotay sighed, "Thanks.." He rested for a few moments,
catching his breath. "So.. how does it feel to be a Native
American working in the big city?"

Johnny grinned, setting himself down on the seat of his
pants after he put another blanket over Chakotay.
"Feels great. My family says it's just another kind of
reservation there... A high tech one..that pays a LOT
better."

"Know what you mean.." Chakotay said. "My people feel
the same about my career choice."

"Oh? And what's that?"

"I fly and I'm a Commander. Tom and I have served together."

Johnny grew thoughtful. "So that's why Paris is so respectful
of you. I thought I heard him call you that last night. Bet
he's not a commander. That's really great. I myself.. "
and he grinned lopsidedly, "...have never been drafted, know
what I mean?  Never had the time being in the department
and all.. and it's still not likely that my kind of people are widely
accepted in the military these days."

"Same here." Chakotay admitted. "My father was dead set
against my leaving."

"You like your boss?" John said.

"Pardon?"

Johnny reiterated, "Do you like who you work for?"

"Oh, sure. Kathryn's been an inspiration to me. We've
been through a lot of scrapes together. Although,
a lot of times, we don't see eye to eye."

"Know what you mean." Johnny chuckled, "Sometimes, Cap
can be a real pain in the a--"

He broke off when his radio popped into life. Gage
snapped it up. "Roy? That was fast."

Roy's voice came over clearly, ##Hate to burst your
bubble but we're still across the valley from
the ranger tower. There's too much electrostatic
interference here for my radio to transmit to them
to see if anyone's about this morning yet.##

Chakotay crooked a finger to the radio asking to
see it by motioning. "Let me speak to Tom."

Johnny handed it over.

"Tom." Chakotay said, "Remember your "flight pin"?
The one we all wear on our uniform...?"

Paris took the hint without being obvious to Roy.
##Yeah, I got it here.##

"Good. Glad you didn't lose it. Kathryn would be
very upset with us if we showed up for work to fly
without them later on.."

Tom thought, ::Chakotay's been forced to say a little
of our true origin.. But how much?:: he wondered.

He listened as the commander spoke on. "Listen,
lieutenant."

Tom took the hint, ##Yes, sir!## falling into character.

"....the metal casing on the pin may help as an
antennae so you can extend the range of your
frequency..got that?" Chakotay said, throwing
implied hints to Tom.

##Yes, sir! Commander, sir.## he said, playing it up
well for Roy's benefit. Tom understood right away
how much Chakotay had told John about themselves.
##Trying to use the pin, sir. Paris out.##

------------------------------------------------------------------------

And he pulled out his Voyager's combadge and pressed
it in a subtle way Roy didn't notice. Its booster worked.
It began augmenting the battery operated radio into a more
powerful signal. He took the pin and taped it to the
radio antennae in a show like he was improvising.
"Try it now, Roy." He gave the radio back to him.

Roy mumbled, "Chakotay's your boss in the army?"

Tom nodded. "He's a tough one, too."

"Sounds like it." the fair haired man chuckled.
Roy lifted the radio to his lips and said,
"Ranger Tower this is Roy DeSoto on emergency
band 21. Mayday."

There came a reply instantly...

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##DeSoto at Tag 51 this is Sierra at Ranger Tower, we
copy your transmission. What is your emergency?##

Roy toggled the talk button. "Sierra, we have an injured--"

"Don't say pilot, please." Tom whispered urgently at Roy.
"Maybe I'll be allowed to show you why..." he said, biting his lip.
::Now you've hammered the last nail on the coffin. Chakotay's
gonna love you for this.:: screamed his inner conscience.
"It's a matter of national security." Tom began again, grabbing
one of Roy's shoulders firmly, keeping his gaze steadily. Paris
held up a mock up of a federal agent's license and metal badge
from the Delta Flyer's disguised, replicated pack that he had
carried since the beginning.

"Wh--?" DeSoto gaped, shocked.
Roy eyed Paris and the I.D. with a jolt, and then continued as
requested. "...man at our campsite. He has multiple trauma and
a fractured humerus. We've started an emergency I.V. and he's
on oxygen. We're requesting an immediate flight with an available
rescue copter."

##DeSoto, what is your treatment capability? We note your
paramedic status on paperwork.## replied the ranger in the
park tower.

"Limited. I'm with one of the victim's.......coworkers." he added
hesitating.

##10-4, we're sending in a Sierra team.  We'll rendevous to your
location first to pick up both of you. We have your radio coordinates
locked on transceiver scope.##

"Roger that. Tell the hospital that a surgeon will definitely
be needed asap."

##Affirm, Tag 51. Hang tight. Our E.T.A. is six minutes.##

Roy sighed as he lowered his radio. "Well that saves a few
miles for the both of us, going there and coming back." he said,
eyeing up the distant ranger tower on top of the ridge. He pulled
off and handed the taped combadge back to Tom.
"They know exactly where we are now." he replied. "Thanks for
that mini repeater's usage. Though I can say I've never ever
seen one that tiny before."

"It's one of a few, new experimental toys we've just got issued."
Paris fibbed, pinning the combadge back onto its usual place
on his shirt. "That's why we were flying over the park, to test
one of them out away from the city in a rural area." he lied again
levelly, trying to dismiss the subject. "I'm glad Chakotay, at the very
least, is going to have a fighting chance here now."

"You've realized how bad he is?" DeSoto asked in surprise.

"Intimately. Sometimes I work mandatory duty in sickbay back
home. You pick up a few things." Tom grinned tightly.

DeSoto sat down on a storm cracked stump to rest.
"Tell me one thing. Do I have your word that your downed aircraft
out there in the woods isn't about to start a forest fire? I'm asking
that as part of my job. I'm guessing that you two have already got
the army or something coming in to muscle it out of any potential
public eye, sight unseen. It'll be my neck if a forest fire risk exists
and it's found out that I didn't report it."

Tom sucked in a careful breath through his nose cautiously.
"She won't be starting any fires, Roy. This I know. I helped build her." he
said with exasperation and a little cockiness. "There are triple redundancies
designed into every operating system that way. They don't break."

DeSoto became short tempered.
"Then why didn't you radio out to your bosses about the accident the
moment it happened?! Chakotay was clearly in no kind of condition to
delay getting any help."

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Paris was struck speechless, trying to think fast on how to answer.

Roy's eyes flashed at him for his silence.
"I know all military jets have rock solid transponders
that go off automatically upon any crash landing. I served in Nam.
Something about the two of you isn't ringing absolute truth here. No matter
how hard I try to put my finger on it." DeSoto snapped angrily. He was tired,
sore, and mad that he was involved in yet another emergency situation
during his rare, hard won weekend time off.

Paris didn't flinch. "Mr. DeSoto, I can't tell you more. I'm under strict
orders. Just be satisfied that Chakotay and I are going to be in really
big trouble once we get back home. Kathryn won't stand for anything
more than the barest minimum action necessary to fix an on the ground
situation like ours. You..... wouldn't want to meet her eye to eye when
facing the music, believe me.." he said, paling visibly at the memory
of such moments in the past on Voyager.

Roy's ire fizzled. "That bad, eh?"

"Worse." Tom nodded, empathetic. "Captain Janeway dresses down
like pure hydrochloric acid. Trust me."

"She sounds a lot like Dr. Brackett when a patient's treatment goes awry
with a new medic or intern."

"Dr. Brackett?"

"Kel's his name. He's my medical boss." Roy finally grinned. "Taught me
and Johnny everything we know about emergency medicine. Tough as
nails. Stubborn. And he's absolutely right about any argument we might
have, all the time."

"Sounds painfully familiar." Tom commiserated, taking a sip from his canteen
after toasting to the memory.

Roy scoffed in amusement. "He's not that bad." But then his expression fell into
a very uncomfortable frown. "Only when you're on the.... receiving end
of it." He cleared his throat dryly. "Makes you feel like you're five years old
again in a heartbeat." he thought with barely veiled remembered horror.

"Ouch." Tom passed him the canteen in sympathy. "Here, looks like you
need this more than I."

"Thanks." Roy said, and began to gulp of it, deeply.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Johnny Gage looked up from the light doze he had been taking while
sitting Indian style by the fire a few minutes later.

Chakotay had begun to pant again, rapidly.

Gage crawled quickly over to the sleeping bag with the full medkit.

"Chakotay? Tell me what the problem is. What's the matter? What's
wrong?" he said, feeling the quality of the pulse in the commander's
neck. It was thready, barely felt. "I'm right here."

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"Can't.. breathe... .. There's pain." Chakotay choked out.

Gage swept eyes up and down his body, looking for more blood effects.
"Where? In your belly? Just try to relax. Keep taking breaths off of
the oxygen, it'll help you a whole lot." he said cranking up the liter flow
to its topmost aperature.

An odd, silvery shimmer swept across Chakotay's brow briefly. Then his
back arched in a sudden convulsion. He grunted tightly, unconsciously,
ignoring Johnny's quiet encouragements to calm down. A pale area
on his chin and neck quickly turned red, and swollen and he started
to cough weakily.

::Anaphylaxis?! Looks like an allergic reaction or something.::
Gage reached into Roy's med kit and pulled out their ambu bag.
"Chakotay, does your throat feel like it's tightening? Closing off?"

But the commander's gasps weakened even more before he could reply.
His eyes rolled up into his head dully as another silvery shimmer
glinted in the sunlight on his face. On Chakotay's hand, a spidery
Borg implant suddenly erupted through the skin and clamped down
tightly onto it, like a stapled disk on cloth.

Johnny didn't see the strange sign. He just acted as a good paramedic,
baring his patient's chest and tilting back his head to clear an airway
in a listening check. Chakotay's bubbling wheezes and cyanosis were
growing stronger so Gage began to firmly bag squeeze pure oxygen into
Chakotay's lungs as the distressed man fell into a sudden limp
unconsciousness.

Thinking fast, Johnny reached for the vial of epinephrine that Roy had laid
out on a rock near a packaged syringe and needle. He ripped it open, drew
up an emergency dose and injected it into Chakotay's I.V. port as he dialed
it up wide open. ::Okay, on borrowed time now. These shot's'll only turn away
the allergy for twenty minutes per injection.:: he thought, returning to his
resuscitative support of Chakotay's poor breathing efforts. ::What's he
allergic to here? Man, I really wish I had a full medical history on this guy.::
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---------------------------------------------------------------------

Back on the ridge, Roy's radio went off. ##Roy! Tom! Tell 'em to step it up
a little! Chakotay's going south and I don't know why!## Gage said over his
channel.

"We'll be there yesterday!" Paris said into it as he watched Roy guide
in the helicopter to their landing area with hand gestures. "What's going on?"

##Some kind of reaction. He's not breathing so hot. Started just a minute
ago. And it's not due to the internal bleeding. His pressure's still the same.
Palpable at the brachial.## Gage reported, still bagging oxygen into Chakotay's
lungs fully whenever he couldn't inhale some in on his own. ## I've given him
a first dose of epi. But I've only got one more left! His skin's really losing
its perfusion color.##

::What the h*ll?!:: Paris quailed. Then he realized all at once. ::Oh, sh*t! That Borg
tractor that snagged us just before we entered the Halley's Comet wormhole!
It must have been some kind of new way for them to infect people remotely.::
Tom said the only thing he could. "We're doing good if he's still got a pulse.
Be there soon. Do what you can." Paris finally saw his hand signal from the
red helmeted ranger pilot to climb on board with Roy. "We're taking off now!"

##Let me talk to Roy!## Gage demanded urgently.

Tom passed off the radio to DeSoto as he got buckled in. "Complications."
he told him.

"Johnny, go." Roy said, acknowledging as he watched Tom Paris buckle in.

The rescue chopper took off.

##Allergic reaction! One of the worst I've ever seen. He's breathing somewhat
without obstruction so I haven't intubated yet. Tell them to have epi standing by
even before that defibrillator, Roy.##

"I hear ya loud and clear." he said and then he toggled the headset he was
wearing to communicate with the pilots and other ranger medic to relay the news.
"Adult epi, sudden onset acute anaphylaxis." he ordered the flight medic, as the
paramedic in charge.

"Roger. I'll get it set up." said the man.

"Johnny, we'll be there in just minutes." Roy told Gage as they roared over
the pine trees towards Tag 51.

##I can already hear ya!##

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Tom Paris stepped to the forest floor, pulling off his helmet quickly.
He ran to Roy. "I'm going on ahead while you guys unload the litter!"

"Here!" said the medic, passing off the capped, prepared syringe to Tom.

"Got it!" Tom told him. Then he started running for the campsite down
the mountain. Once he was out of sight in the trees, he hit his combadge.
"Paris to Delta Flyer, come in!"

The shuttle's computer voice came to life. ##Working.##

"Emergency beam out! One to the transporter pad." he shouted, holding
still as the Flyer's transient energy took hold.

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Tom Paris materialized inside of the dark smoky interior of the Flyer.
"Lights!" he shouted, rushing for a special console set into the wall
above the destroyed medical biobed. He flipped down a hatch and
pulled out a spare empty hypospray into his hand as he activated a med
tricorder by flipping it open. He knelt onto the floor and started scanning
the crash filthy carpetting. "Come on, there's got to be some of them
still here."  The tricorder dutifully beeped at a spot on the floor just
behind the co-pilot's seat. Taking a probe, Tom began magnetically
picking up unseen microscopic objects and dumping them into a waiting
petris dish he had snatched from out of a shattered lab kit.

Power flickered briefly. "Girl, don't fail on me yet." Tom said to the sleek
but battered little ship. He leaped for the medical hatch again and pulled
out a small trapezoidal chip, held it up into the air about shoulder height
and pressed it. "I still need you. Computer, activate the EMH!"

"Please state the nature of the medical--" said a familiar hologram
as it sprang to life and filled out underneath the portable holo emitter
that Tom was holding. It was the emergency medical hologram, a
balding dark eyed male in a blue and black tunic'd medical suit.

"Doc! No time to talk. Chakotay's being assimilated by Borg nanoprobes
outside a few miles away. We're on Earth of the past by a few hundred
years. I need two things. I need you to reprogram some of these into a
cure for him and I need another batch made into disassemblers to take apart
this whole shuttle right down to the molecular level!" He passed off his
collection dish of Seven's shed Borg skin nannites over to the EMH.
"Think you can handle that?"

"What am I? An hallucination?" the projection snapped as he began
work with a subatomic protoplaser beam Paris gave him from the alcove.

"Close. You're a replica Chakotay and I have been experimenting with
and'll be only online for another minute or so. Then the Delta Flyer's emergency
batteries will fail and very soon after that, you'll die off for good."

"Wonderful. Nice to know I'll live such a long, happy life." the EMH said sarcastically
as he played first a blue beam over half the dish, then a yellow one over the other
side. He finished work and shut off his sophisticated tool with a snap. He shoved
the dish back into Tom's shaking hand. "Do me a favor, Flyboy. Save my portable
holoemitter and reconstitute me onto the next ship the two of you build when you
finally get back to the right century. I like being activated like this more than you
can ever possibly know. The first time here wasn't exactly a charm."

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"Done." Paris told him, meeting his eye. "Which ones are the fix?" he said, holding
up his empty hypospray toggled into the absorb setting.

"Think blue." the EMH said, hurt. "Like my holoshirt." he said pulling on his collar.
"Yellow is always anti-biohazard. My G*d, Mr. Paris. Have you forgotten your sickbay
medic's training already?"

"Not by a long shot. Thanks, doc." he said, sucking up Seven's blue glowing
reprogrammed Borg cure nannites into his hypospray while the EMH held up
the dish in mock impatience. "From both Chakotay and me." Paris sighed expansively,
and very eager in his stress. "Now, how to I use Seven's disassemblers here?"

The EMH didn't even blink, but a hint of emotion played across his unreal features.
"Are you sure you want to end all hope of you getting back into orbit and back home
to Voyager? Once the Flyer's destroyed, the away team won't be able to figure out
where on this primitive mudball you are easily."

"We'll take our chances, doc. Prime Directive, remember?"

"What about the Hippocratic Oath? First due no harm? I can't imagine Earth of
this time enjoying having you around." the doc sniffed.

"Funny, doc. Now, how do I melt the d*mned ship?"

The EMH snatched the dish with the remaining yellow glowing nannites from
Tom's hand and tossed its contents over his shoulder dryly. The sparkles landed
on the back of the smashed pilot seats and still smoking flight console. Where
they fell, matter started disappearing into nonexistence. Tom began to see
just scorched forest floor appearing into the hungrily eating nannite decay holes
as they grew larger. "Both types of nannites will self destruct the same way as
the Delta Flyer soon as they've served their purpose. No muss, no fuss. Your
crash crater will be mistaken for a lightning strike's work."

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Tom grinned. "Thanks." and he started heading for the door after grabbing up
a few other handy devices into his away team pack.

"Wait! Remember your promise to me?!" said the doc, looking nervous
as the decay started making the shuttle's power sputter.

"Oh. Yeah. Right." Tom said, plucking off the doc's holoemitter from the EMH's
shoulder area in mid air. The holodoctor disappeared from view.

Paris pocketed the doc's program and called out aloud. "Paris to Delta Flyer.
One to beam out to my previous coordinates. Mark!"

##C-Complying.## the shuttle stuttered as she began to rapidly unconstitute
into organic dust from stem to stern.

::Ah, that's a sad sight. My poor girl. All that work.:: Tom mourned. ::I sure hope
Captain Janeway'll be far happier about this than I am. Temporal Prime Directive
my---::

Paris dematerialized.

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------------------------------
Tom reappeared out of the transporter beam at a run. He got to the rescue
team's side just as they finished strapping in the last stokes strap around
Chakotay's long board.

"Where did you go?" Roy asked him, holding up Chakotay's I.V. as the
park rangers lifted up the basket stretcher in a careful carry to move
to the helicopter. They allowed time as they walked for Gage to continue
breathing for Chakotay using the oxygen BVM. Roy held the I.V. bag in his
teeth as he accepted the epinephrine syringe Tom gave him and prepared
to use it.

Paris looked properly abashed.
"I... got turned around. I thought I was closer to the creek than I actually
was when I turned right." Tom said.  He watched as all the rescuers intently
watched Roy injecting the medication. Then, when they weren't looking,
using sleight of hand, Tom injected a dose from the shuttle's hypospray of blue
nannites into Chakotay's side out of sight underneath the shock sheet. ::Too
bad the doc didn't have time to whip up a batch of red surgical repair nannites
for me. But, beggars can't be choosers.:: Paris wished. ::We didn't have time
enough.::

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The second the nannites had finished being pressed through Chakotay's
clothes into his circulatory system, the commander started to cough vigorously
with new life around the ventilations.

"That did it." Johnny smiled. "The new epi's working!" he said,
switching out the ambu bag to a plain oxygen mask as they moved swiftly
towards the rescue chopper. "He's breathing normally again."

"Whew! That was close!" Tom covered, his relief actually not feigned.
"Thanks, Johnny. We owe you one."

"Anytime." smiled the Native American paramedic.

Still being crafty, Tom monitored the nannites progress in their cure with
a medical tricorder poking out a zippered pouch from his backpack that he
held neatly in front of him as if he were nervous. He located the only Borg
eruption that had made it to the surface.

Tom watched as the sole Borg implant fell off of the back of Chakotay's hand as
the pale silvery skin healed and turned flesh toned again. He pocketed the
spidery thing discreetly out of view. With his fingers, he felt the blue nannites
disintegrate the device to powder inside of his pocket.

Sighing in relief, he hung his head in weariness and followed all of his rescuers
to the helicopter. ::I wonder what's going to happen to us now?::

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