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         Fire In The Sky
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      Page Three

**Warning- Graphic animal surgery image below.**

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Subject: A Little Covert Subterfuge..
From:  patti k (
Sent: Fri 3/26/10 5:05 AM

High in the sky, the Sierra team's rescue helicopter raced over the
mountains and onwards, until the craft was arrowing fast over the
richly urban gridded Los Angeles County suburbs.

Johnny Gage finished relaying his latest transmission to Rampart Hospital.
"..His most acute histamine reaction symptoms were successfully counteracted
following the second dose of epinephrine I.V. Whatever has caused them initially
seems to have vanished. Respirations, no longer assisted, are twenty and regular.
Skin color's now re-perfused and normal. Pulse is rapid but strong at 110. Tell the
surgeons we've utilized MAST trousers to stave off a slow increasing decompensation
due to suspected internal injuries. We're holding his pressure above 90.
Consciousness is in and out, reactive only to pain."

##10-4, 51.## said Dixie McCall.## Have information available on landing about next
of kin so we can look up his past medical history. We especially need a blood type
for transfusion support.##

Sitting next to Roy, Tom Paris didn't look away from Chakotay's still face as he
spoke automatically. "He's Class M Biped-- I mean Type AB with Rh + factors."

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"How do you know that?" Roy asked raising his eyebrows. "I thought Chakotay was
just a casual navy friend of yours."

Tom took in a deep breath and thought hard. "Says on his... dog tags." he covered
neatly. "We swapped ours once as a joke to see if we could fool our doctor's sca-- uh,..
examination when we were first stationed together on ship. You see, Chakotay was my
new commander at the time and that was one way to break some ice by sharing a
similar sense of humor.." he said limply, shrugging a shoulder.

DeSoto lifted his HT. "Rampart, type is AB + according to a navy witness."

##We'll attempt to locate that blood type ASAP. Continue running in his Ringer's
wide open and support any further breathing problems as they arise. We'll be standing
by on the helipad.## said Dixie.

"I'm AB +." said Johnny, surprised. "If they can't find a fresh supply by the time we
land, I'm volunteering."

"Thanks, Johnny." Paris said, and he meant it.

Roy eyed up Paris as he scribbled hasty notes onto a run sheet the rangers had given
him. "Any relatives?"

Tom shook his head. "No chance of that. I'm afraid we're all alone in that department."

"Career men?" DeSoto guessed.

"It's why we joined." Tom nodded dryly, meek.

"I sympathize." Johnny piped up. "I'm not too rich in the family department eith-- Ouch.."
said Gage absently, scratching his lower leg.

DeSoto glanced at him. "What? Muscles getting sore? You've had a busy day, Junior."
he teased, not surprised at Johnny's grousing.

"No, my water scald's itching." Johnny told him.

"Relax. It's probably healing already, knowing you." Roy chuckled.

"After one day?" Johnny said, annoyed at Roy's amusement at his expense.

Tom's face went instantly alert. ::Uh oh.:: "Did you get it dirty, Johnny? You know,
blood contaminated at all? Chakotay stayed bleeding quite a bit from his head wound
for a while after you started carrying him."

Gage analyzed lightly, dismissing the question. "I don't remember feeling anything
drip on it. And even if I did get soiled that far down through my clothes, the morning
dew from the trail washed it off again while we were doing all of that fast hiking. My feet
and lower legs are absolutely soaked to the skin. I'm still wet, see? So no, I'm not worried
about catching anything contagious. You guys have had all your shots, being in the Navy
like you are."

"You're right. Chakotay's been fully immunized." ::Now, at any rate. But it's not his
Borgification changes that I'm worried about.:: he confirmed mentally, touching his medical
tricorder inside of his backpack ::It's yours.:: he thought at Johnny, seeing an urgent
biocontamination amber light beginning to flash.

Tom dug out a few bottles of shuttle water he had stored and began piling three of them
onto his lap.

When the two paramedics weren't looking, Tom reached into his pocket, drew out, and
re-pressed his concealed hypospray against Chakotay's arm under the shock sheet,
taking a quick blood sample. ::I hope there's some intact nannites still cleaning up in
Chakotay's bloodstream. Gage needs them now. Real soon here.::  He didn't dare scan
Johnny again to check for the progress of his new Borg infection directly. He chose subtlety.
He toggled filter-mode on the hypo and pressed out a pill sized dose Seven's nanoprobes
into his palm from Chakotay's blood sample. They were still flickering blue sparkles
deep inside the tiny shimmering sphere rolling around on his hand.  ::Good.:: thought
Tom. ::This bunch is still actively working..::

Near him, Gage suddenly wiped away a sweat bead from a faintly mottling, black and white
paling forehead. "Say, Roy. Think I can shanghai a bed off one of the residents once we get
there? I'm bushed."

"Act wounded and it's a done deal." Roy told him, amused. "Only price you're gonna have
to pay is a quick examination by one of the doctors."

"G*d, I hope I don't get Morton." His tone of exasperation filled volumes.

Tom snorted. "Sounds like our doc. Tactless is he?"

"Totally. And he's a bit on the gruff side with hands on." Gage grunted, still scratching
his tingly leg.

"Fun." said Paris, sarcastically.

"Just the opposite." DeSoto mused, taking another palpated BP on Chakotay.

"I'd rather suffer a little than risk seeing that guy in a heartbeat." Johnny shared.

"Your call." Roy smiled. "Our patient's holding steady. 94 Systolic." he reported.

"Good deal." Johnny grinned, turning happier at once. "How's his abdomen doing?"

"Wanna check it?" Roy asked.

Johnny turned to the task.

Tom cracked open one of the water bottles and dropped the nannite ball that he
had retrieved into the water where it briefly fizzed a bright glowing blue as the tiny
machines suddenly dispersed into the liquid as part of their Borg curing program. "Hey,
Gage. Drink up." Paris said, smacking the side of Johnny's knee with the bottle after he
shook it up. "Time to celebrate a perfect rescue." he grinned.

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"Roy, he's real rigid all quadrants."Johnny turned around and accepted it. "Thanks, Tom.
I am kind of thirsty all of the sudden." And he downed the whole offered bottle in seconds.

Tom Paris just cleared his throat and made sure none of the other rescuers in the
chopper noticed anything unusual by smiling at them reassuringly. Tom watched as the
last of the faintly blue lit water disappeared between Gage's lips. Seconds later, the
slender man's natural ruddy red color returned with a vengeance, the Borg pallor fading
away into nothingness. ::Whew.That was another really close call.:: "Went down good,
eh?" he asked Johnny smugly.

"Tasted great. Where'd you get this stuff?" Johnny asked. "I feel better. I'm not tired
anymore. Is it caffeinated?"

Paris shook his head.
"From a place called Neelix's, back at home. It's guaranteed one hundred percent pure."
he smiled, not feigning the truth.

Gage smacked his lips as the last of the blue glowing Borg infection cure nannites sank
microscopically under Gage's skin like electrified confectioner's sugar.  

Tom tipped his head, studying Johnny's face. "How do you feel?"

"Fine now. Guess I was a little dehydrated or something."

"You figure." Roy snorted, not looking up from the reassessment he was performing
on Chakotay's responses.

"Maybe I should drink water more often and less coffee." Gage decided.

Only then did Paris heave a very small sigh of relief when he realized that nobody else had
noticed anything amiss. Tom waved a weak hand. "Ours was really good for you. That
I can promise."

"Huh. Plain I.V. formula, the original." Gage joked.
Johnny turned his head. "Hey, Roy. Have one of Tom's bottles. Best water I've ever
had. Not a hint of warm plastic stench or even the faintest ground minerals going down."

"Okay." DeSoto said, looking up from Chakotay's EKG monitor. He was suddenly
aware of being parched. "Tom, do you mind? We'll buy you new bottles later to replace
your supplies." he said, holding up the one his partner had offered him.

"Deal! Do you know how long it's been since I've had real home brewed California water?"
Paris quipped eagerly.

Both paramedics made you're-kidding faces at him in mutual displays of mildly disguised

"Uh, well, I guess it's an acquired.. craving. You see, we've.... both've been shipped out
away from home for quite a while now." he said lamely, waving around the third Voyager
gray, translucent water bottle. "Just got back for some R and R."

"I suppose so. Especially if you're just on a short leave from a long tour of duty." Johnny
grimaced. "You gonna drink that?" he said, holding out a hand, eyeing Tom's carelessly
fidget-spinning water bottle eagerly.

Tom gave it to him with a nod. He smiled again as he saw his almost Borg-ill paramedic
patient completely heal, swiftly, before his appraising medic's eye. "She's all yours."
::Bet that's the first unpolluted water you've ever tasted in your whole entire life.:: he
thought. Just to be on the safe side, he snuck a peek at his tricorder. All lights were
green. On everybody this time. ::Mission accomplished.:: Paris sighed. Then he closed
his eyes to doze quietly against the bulkhead.

Roy noticed. "We're five minutes out. Won't be long now." he told Tom.

Paris nodded in reflex at the news. ::Could have been instantaneous using
the shuttle's transporter.:: he countered mentally in misery. But he still smiled at his
benefactors wearily in response. ::I just hope Chakotay pulls through okay. Then we
can both worry about how we're going to survive here on pre-warp Earth. Later.::

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Subject:  Destination..
From:  patti k (
Sent: Thu 4/01/10 12:08 PM

Dixie McCall and Dr. Brackett with a pair of orderlies were
waiting by the edge of the red and white crossed landing
grid in the east parking lot of Rampart. They crouched
onto toes and knee holding the mattressless wheeled
gurney steady against the powerful blade wash as
Sierra's chopper touched down.

Roy DeSoto got on his handheld. "L.A. we're at Rampart for
patient transfer." he reported.

##10-4, 51. At 17:46.## replied Sam Lanier the

Johnny looked at Roy. "They're calling us by our station name."
he noticed.

"Yeah, why not? That's where we're from. Does it matter that
we're officially off duty? It's the same paperwork." DeSoto answered,
steadying the head of Chakotay's stokes as the Sierra team opened
the bay doors of the helicopter.

Tom Paris was the first to grab Chakotay's two I.V. solution bags
as they all got out.

The hospital four ran out onto the flight concrete as far out as they
could for safety's sake under the hot running blades of the helicopter
in front of the pilot. Sierra's two, with Roy and Johnny, ran with the
stokes, keeping low until they reached the hospital staff and their rolling

"How's he doing?" Kel shouted over the roar of the stationary chopper
as he peeled back Chakotay's eyelids for a pupil check.

"Better! Though he's still in and out. All his chest edema's gone." Roy

"Good deal." Brackett said as they all hurried for the hospital
emergency doors. "Dix, as soon as we get there I want you
to draw bloods and have the lab run a creatine
kinase and isoenzyme levels series, a CBC with differential,
a PT, a PTT, an antinuclear antibody assay, and an erythrocyte
sedimentation rate."

"Sure thing, Kel. I have a venipuncture tray already set up in
Treatment 2." she answered, pushing back her shoulder length,
wind whipped hair out of her eyes. "Surgery Four's standing by with
an abdominal team."

"We'll take the M.A.S.T. trousers off and stabilize him first before
he goes anywhere." Brackett told her.

Once Roy, Johnny, Kel and the orderlies rushed through the swinging
door of the treatment room, Dixie automatically took the I.V.s from Paris's
following hands and set a light palm on his chest to stop him from

Johnny spoke up. "Uh, he's kin er,.. the next best thing, Dix."

"Okay. He's in. Sir, I need some information.  Your name is what?" she said,
swiftly hanging the nearly empty solution bags over a suspension pole's hook.

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Paris held up hands indicating himself in a questioning gesture at Roy
and Johnny.

"It's for his medical chart, Tom. That's all. And some initially
basic facts to go on it for consent purposes." Roy told him.

"You don't need that. Treat him. He's out cold. He gets help automatically
by law I thought." Paris growled in stress.

Johnny looked up at Kel and Dixie from where he was transferring Chakotay's
oxygen. "They're deep navy, guys." he shared.

"Oh." Dixie sighed in understanding. McCall levelled at Tom, half serious. " Just
take it easy, Tiger. We're not going anywhere that's away from your friend. Doesn't matter
where you two came from or what exactly it is that you do out there when you're not
getting all smashed up into little bits.  An injured man needing surgery is all we see.
Comprende? We don't wag tongues. Everything can be strictly confidential if need be."

"It has to be that way." Tom said.

"Fair enough." Dixie said quietly. "Shall we start from the beginning?"

"Uh, sure. Sorry, ma'am. I-I've been through a lot in the last day or so." Tom blinked.
"I'm not normally so wound up and he's not normally so wounded." he joked.

Dixie cracked a smile. "No need to apologize. What's your name?"

"It's Tom Paris. Lt. Tom Eugene Paris. And I speak for him."

"Who's him?"

"Commander Chakotay."

"Is that his first name or last name?" McCall asked, knowing the services'
penchant for nicknames usually ran rampant in their comeraderie.

"It's his only name." Tom clarified. "You see, he's Native American."

"I gathered that." she said, pointing to Chakotay's sweaty Chaymoosee
face tattoo with her pencil.

"Oh. Sorry." Paris reacted nervously. "We're just used to people not
knowing who we are all the time on the job. It's an automatic reflex."

Roy looked up from the BP he was taking. "It's up. 120 over 70. Deflate the
legs first?" he asked Brackett.

"Yes, slowly. But only one leg at a time." Kel clarified, eyeing up Tom a
little analytically before he concentrated whole heartedly on his patient.
"Mr. Paris. Does Chakotay have any allergies that we need to know about?
I'm taking you on your word that AB positive is actually on your friend's
totally absent dog tags to save some time."

Tom winced. "It is." his mouth opened up self consciously. "Would you believe
we left them at home?"

Dixie and Kel merely looked at him.

"Okay. Okay. Right. To the meat of it." Tom said. "I- I wouldn't know if he has any
medication allergies if that's what you're driving at. But I know for a fact that he can
eat any food he comes across no matter what port we find ourselves in. No matter
how alie-- foreign a place. Is that good enough?"

"It's a start." Kel grumbled. "Mr. Paris. I'm going to tell you like it is. Chakotay's
not out of the woods yet. His condition could be very serious. We won't know how
serious until we actually open up that distended belly and take a look around."

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"Do what you have to do, doc." Paris moused. "I'm all for it. And so's he whether
he says so or not." Tom glared at his commander's dazed eyes that were open
but unfocused above the oxygen mask.

Kel turned to another nurse in the room. "Let's stave off more volume depletion,
right now. Off the I.V. line, set up a piggy back half aperature blood transfusion.
We'll find a donor."

"I'm the donor." Gage piped up, volunteering.

Kel nodded. "Then I want you to begin a NS drip with
dobutamine at 0.5-1 mcg/kg/min IV and titrate until you hear better
compliance in his pericardium by auscultation. That med will
definitely get his heart, stroke volume and cardiac output increasing
out of shock reactions without dilating the blood vessels in the rest of
his body where any internal bleeding we don't know about yet, might
take hold."

Sharon, now an R.N., nodded. "Yes, Dr. Brackett. Right away."

Tom tried to smile around his obvious, silent worry. "You
have a medication that acts like a chemical mast suit? I didn't
know you guys had stuff like that in your drug arsenal.."

"It's a brand new therapy, Mr. Paris. Dr. Early, a colleague,
okayed the preliminary human trials himself two months ago. I'm just glad
the whole experiment worked out fast enough to help your friend here."
Kel said calmly even as his hands worked fast to assess his patient.
He sighed under his breath as he ran hands down the areas of Chakotay's
body that Roy was exposing while he deflated the M.A.S.T. suit.

"What?" Tom spoke up eagerly.

"Chakotay doesn't seem to have any scarring anywhere. You know
normal wear and tear. I'd expect some on a service man." Brackett

"He lives a charmed life." Tom said with conviction not looking away
from Dr. Brackett's eyes. "He's got a lucky rabbit's foot." ::And a very
good holographic EMH on Voyager.:: he thought, unbidden.

"Uh, doc, That's not so oddball as you might think." Gage defended.
"Mike Stoker doesn't have any either, and he's a nine year career
fire fighter." he smiled crookedly.

"Lie down." Kel said without looking up at Gage as he indicated an
empty gurney next to Chakotay's. "Somebody's gonna tap your arm."

Johnny hurriedly volunteered, offering a flat arm out onto the sheets.

"I can do that. Uh, I'm a medic." Paris volunteered.

"Tom, you're in my hospital and you're going to do what I say." Kel said
evenly, still not looking away from the close palpation he was
doing on Chakotay's abdomen. "My nurses have that job. Nobody else.
You're out of your jurisdiction."

Tom swallowed. "That much is true."

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"I used to be in the military." Kel grinned. "Now go get something to eat.
We'll let you know what happens just as soon as we can."

"Yes, sir." Paris finally agreed.

"I'll.......take him to the cafeteria. It's his first time here." Roy offered.
"Need anything else, doc?"

"We're good." and then Kel began barking out more orders to his staff
clustered around Chakotay, everything from x-rays to a respiratory therapist
to knock him out for an early intubation to save prep time, and other things.

The doors closed between Tom, Roy and Chakotay and Paris suddenly felt the
separation acutely.

DeSoto smiled, setting a hand on Tom's dusty shoulder. "I have a feeling that
he's going to be okay. Brackett wasn't snapping at all like he usually does
when he has some outcome doubts about a patient."

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"He sounded pretty mad to me."

"That's only because you weren't very straight with him." Roy said.

"I....have to be... that way." Tom said, looking down at suddenly worried, fidgetting

"I know. I know. Naval secrets and all that." DeSoto. "Come on, let me
buy you a cup of coffee and then we'll just go from there if you're feeling a little
hungry. I know I am. It's almost dinner time."

"It is?" Tom asked, still disoriented by the glow of Earth's sun in his eyes through
the waiting room windows. "I guess I'm still not used to this time zone yet."

"Takes me a few days, too, when I travel. Come on, let's go. We can talk more
on the way about other things to get your mind off Chakotay's situation. He's gonna
be okay, really. Trust the instincts of an eight year paramedic." Roy comforted.

"Eight years? No kidding. And I've been drafted as a medic for nearly seven now.
What a coincidence. But I still feel like I lost time with him." he said, meaning how
long it took them to get Chakotay to a doctor.

"Not exactly the golden hour. But he had your skills readily available."

"And the two of you." Tom finally smiled. "I really really appreciate that. Even if
Chakotay's gonna be mad as hell when he wakes up."

"Why is he gonna be mad?"

Tom sighed. "Because I went against orders."

Roy's eyes took up something like suspicion.

"No. No, not like that. Nothing national security. It's more like standing orders.
Divulging information."

"Oh, I understand. I know how that goes. I served in Nam a while back."
DeSoto shared.


"Vietnam. You know, Indonesia?" Roy prompted.

Tom just shook his head minutely, still clueless.

"Well, you are kinda young. Not like the navy really knew what the army was doing
a few years ago."

"You got that right." Tom muttered under his breath.

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Subject: Message in a Bottle...  
From:  patti k (
Sent: Thu 4/08/10 11:06 AM

Ten minutes later, Dr. Early was knuckle deep in Chakotay's vital organs.
"Looks like it's a liver. And not bad at all." he announced to the surgical team
ringing him. He looked up and flashed an okay sign at the observers in
the overhead dome. Then, quickly, he had a nurse suction out the
injured man's abdominal cavity. "About an inch of sutures, a patch
of this small lacerated vein here, and we're just about through." he
grinned around his blue cloth mask. "Let's track along the colon
though, just to make sure he didn't perforate any bowel during
the accident. I think we're gonna get lucky that way too, I'm not smelling

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Sprawled across the viewing glass, Tom Paris dropped his head
down onto his arms in relief. "I hope that gesture means what I want
it to mean." he said, still feeling horrified that cat gut thread was
currently being used inside of his friend, but hiding it.

Roy DeSoto smiled, thumping a hand held wrapped sandwich against
the back of Paris's waist. "It does. Come on and eat. I know you can."
he tempted. "Paramedics like us don't get queasy at the sight of gore.
Or am I mistaken?" he said, noticing a subtle change in Tom's face.

Paris quickly sat and grabbed the food. "You're not. I ....just...
expected lasers or something in the repair job."

DeSoto raised a couple of eyebrows. "You mean cautery? It wasn't
necessary. See? Chakotay isn't hemorrhaging out any more past their
clamp job. I guess that MAST suit worked out in causing that torn outer
vein to clot up a little for them."

"Cautery.. Oh, you mean as in burning and searing.." Tom said incredulously,
suddenly not guarding his disgust over the whole process.

Roy just hung eyes at him, neutrally.
"Well, sure. That's much faster than suturing for the big jobs I've come to
know." DeSoto shared matter of factly while he dined on his own chicken
salad and wheat.

::Wanna bet...:: Tom thought behind the eyes. But out loud, he said.
"I haven't had the pleasure of learning that."

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Then his combadge beeped.

Roy startled. "What was that? The intercom?"

Paris shot to his feet. "Uh,.. I don't know.. I'll be right back though. I...
gotta a real sudden urge to use the head."

"Straight back out the way we came just past the elevator.." Roy
volunteered, suddenly concerned about the state of Tom's stomach.

Tom Paris barely let the swinging door close behind him when
he tapped the channel open on his chest. "Paris here." he said
quietly while he studied the long mirror's reflection of the bottoms
of all the toilet stalls along the row, looking for pairs of feet.

##Lieutenant?## came a very familiar but frequency-broken,
male voice.

"Who is this?" Tom asked. "Voyager?"

##Not...exactly.## came the reply. ##Turn around.##

Tom Paris suddenly whirled from his inspection of the restroom,
searching in shock.

##No.. up here. In the security camera's lens..## the disembodied
voice suggested.

Paris did so, and noticed a face projecting from inside the unit onto
its focusing lens. "Barclay?! H--?"

Reginald Barclay of the Pathfinder Project of the future answered
back. ##Shhht. Not so loud. Somebody might hear you and call
for a couple of orderlies to haul you off to the psychiatric ward.##

Paris snorted. "Why should I worry? You've experienced far more
time in a shrink's clutches than I."

It was Barclay's turn to stutter. ##How--?## he startled, thinking of his
barely cured holoaddiction problem. ##Never mind.##

Tom Paris got mad. "Yes, how! How the h*ll are you managing to even
reach me here in the past?" he said, tapping the camera's glass,
insistently impatient. "I thought there wasn't enough power in the whole
universe to push a communications squirt through warp space more than
a hundred light years let alone across a differentiating time continuum."

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##You aren't really in your.. I mean my... true past. ##

"I'm not?" Tom gaped.

##No.. eh, It's really difficult to explain.##

Tom quailed and dropped his arms from his fiddling with the security camera
on its housing nestled between the ceiling and wall. "No..." he breathed out
in horror. "Not Q."

##Ah, happily no.## Reg said firmly, his transmitted fake camera eyes narrowing.
##But shush on that or we just might tempt the guy.##

"Gotcha." Tom said firmly, setting hands on hips, still staring up into the camera.
"No omnipotence in action. Though I wish there was a healthy dose of some of that
going on right about now." he said, upending a small garbage can upside down
so he could step up and get a little closer to the image inside the camera's

It was Barclay's turn to quail. ##Not Chakotay... He's still dying..?##

"No, he's not." Paris snapped in irritation."A pair of human docs decided to open
him up and run a pair of fingers through his guts, looking for holes.  Then they did a
lot of sewing with a needle and dead animal thread afterwards. He's gonna be fine."
Paris said matter of factly, shielding his eyes from the bathroom lights glare so
he could see Barclay a little better.

##They...did...what?## It was the projected image's time to turn a little green.

"Reg..." he warned. "If you faint on me, I'm gonna--"

The image's face suddenly shook itself, like a dog shedding water. ##I'm okay,
I'm fine. Just grossed out. That's worse than spiders!## he squeaked.


##Right. Paris, we haven't got much time. Now listen to me. The team can only
keep this artificial pinhole blackhole and our Argus Array emergency patch open for
another forty seven seconds. We've already burned out the generator on an entire
moon getting out this far, er.. back then, er.. oh, you know what I mean!## he
said finally.

Tom shut up.

##Our problem is not just you two anymore. It involves more of your crewmen.##

"Huh?" Paris gaped.

##Voyager was destroyed in our mutual true timeline while distracting those two
Borg Cubes from following your escape away from them in the shuttle.##


##It can be fixed. I have it on very good authority from someone really high up.## he
stuttered. ##So don't panic. Just listen. An escape pod containing two bridge crew
got to Earth, I mean, your Earth. They're searching for you now. I've given them
your coordinates. Uh, where are you going to be in five hours? I've got to update
them next. You've moved.##
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"Uh,.. wow, uh...Station 51!" Tom improvised desperately, thinking fast. "In California.
Uh,.. near a place called Rampart Hospital.... in .....Carson." he decided quickly. "Yeah,
Carson. Says that right here on the hot air hand dryer's licensing sticker." he said looking

##Okay, I'll tell em. Just watch for another visitor from the hospital. He's coming to see you
in less than ten minutes!## Barclay began to shout as their tenuous connection began to fail.

"Who survived the bridge crew?!" Tom shouted.

##We don't know. Just bear with us, we're working on this whole insane problem, top priori---##

The face on the camera suddenly sputtered and went out like a TV screen with
its power suddenly shorted out. The camera gave off a huge spark, making Paris
throw up his hands protectively over his face, and a puff of smoke. Its tiny overstressed little
red power indicator light, burned out.

"Oh, man.. not now! Just when you wanted reach out and touch someone.." Paris grumbled,
slapping the camera alongside of its housing angrily.

Right then, the door opened. It was the orderly who had brought Chakotay
down to surgery from the Emergency Room.

Tom Paris let go of the camera, jumped down from the upended garbage can, and
straightened his shirt out with all the dignity he could muster. "I hate the fact they
got one of these things inside the john." he huffed, nodding at the man as he
left the bathroom.

"I hear ya. Right with you man. Thanks for trashing the d*mn*d thing for me. I
couldn't do it or they'd find out who did it." the big man grinned, offering a congratulatory

Tom shook it and left, heading back to the observation deck.

When he got there, Roy wordlessly handed him back his half eaten sandwich, wrapped
in a napkin. "Feeling better?" he guessed incorrectly about the reason why Tom had fled
the surgical observatory.

"Much better." Paris said, with relish, accepting the food again and diving right into it

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