Title: Come of Age
Author: Annette Welsh-Shinya 01/99
Series: VOY
Part: 1/?
Rating: R
Codes: P/T, K/7, EMH Doc, Neelix, Vorik, Naomi Wildman
Summary: Spoilers for Night and 30 Days. After an encounter with a hostile species, most of the crew of Voyager is scattered throughout a region of space as prisoners. Tom Paris leads what's left of the crew in an attempt to recover their missing members.
Disclaimer: Paramount's property, my story, who wants to go a round with the Bat'leths?
Feedback: Encouragement/criticism gladly responded to. Flames will be consigned to the nearest airlock where proper venting procedures per Starfleet Engineering regulations will be followed.
Posting: OK to ASC, ASCEM, BLTS, & PT Fever. Please notify me if you post anywhere else...I love to see my name in lights!


"Tom, it hurts," gasped B'Elanna.

"I know," he replied softly. "Here, this should help the pain," he administered a hypospray of painkiller. He looked at the hypo, it was almost empty. It was the second to the last one on the ship.

B'Elanna moaned, then partially opened her eyes, "Did we get them?"

"Shhh," replied Tom. "Don't try to talk. The stretcher crew will be here in a minute."

"Tom," she said insistantly. "Did we get them?"

"Yes," replied Tom, stroking her forehead, ignoring the blood that came off onto his hand. The gash on her forehead was one of the least of her problems. "We got them. Two. Burns and Nicoletti."

B'Elanna relaxed a bit here and gave a sigh of relief that turned into a hiss as a new wave of pain hit her. "Good," and she shut her eyes.

"Shhh," said Tom again, wondering where the hell the stretcher crew was. At that moment, they arrived, stepping through the gaping hole where the door to main Engineering used to be. They ran over to where Tom crouched next to B'Elanna. It was across from the plasma conduit that had exploded and hit B'Elanna almost full force. The pursuit of the target had strained the systems so much. It had burst with almost no warning. She had burns and pieces of shrapnel imbeddded in her body, plus blunt force trauma wounds from the impact of being blown across the room.

She was loaded onto the stretcher, and the crewmen lifted her up and made their way out the door. Tom followed closely, medical tricorder and field medikit in his hand. He called, "Vorik!"

"Yes, Mr. Paris."

"The Engine Room is yours. Fix this," he gestured to the mess. "Don't screw it up, or I'll have to kill you." His voice was deadly serious.

"Understood, Mr. Paris," replied Vorik, who gestured to a couple of crewmembers to start clearing away the rubble.

"Get me an estimate on how long until that conduit is fixed and the warp drive is on-line," barked Paris as he stepped through the door.

"Yes, Mr. Paris," said Vorik to an already exited Paris. Vorik stood looking at the chaos that was once the most pristine, well-functioning engine room in any quadrant and mentally sighed. He gathered himself together, then in a very stern voice said, "Callahan, where is that report on the progress of recalibrating the warp engines to function with the new shielding? I needed it yesterday."

"I've almost finished, Mr. Vorik," Callahan's voice had doubt in it, and he approached Vorik with great care. "I'm not too sure I interpreted this data correctly. I'm just a Reclamations Systems Tech Grade II, and I haven't done much warpcorp work, sir."

"You are getting that work now, Callahan," said Vorik taking the padd from the crewman. "I suggest you spend some time reading up on plasma conduit repair also. We will need to repair this conduit immediately after we finish up replacing the tri-carbonate resonators for the port impulse engines."

"Yes, sir," replied Callahan, desperately trying to remember what the resonators' function in the impulse engines was.

Vorik looked up from studying the data on the padd, and appeared to read his mind. "The resonators are used to regulate the plasma flow that generates the propulsion of the ship," and here Vorick walked over to a computer station and and called up a diagram of an impulse engine. "Here, here, and here are resonators. Any one of them malfunctioning can cause the impulse engine to build up a power overload and could possibly cause an explosion of great magnitude."

"So, if we want to go anywhere using the port engine, we have to fix those resonators," nodded Callahan with comprehension.

"We will make an engineer of you yet, Crewman Callahan," said Vorik dryly, and they walked over to the equipment locker to get the tools necessary. "Crewman Shaw, you are in charge of the Engine Room until I get back from replacing the resonators in the port impulse engines," Vorick turned to look directly at Shaw. "Do not attempt to repair anything until I return."

"Yes, Mr. Vorik," said Shaw, her voice sounding like a new recruit. "I'll concentrate on clearing up this mess and seeing what I can salvage from it."

"Very good," replied Vorik, who handed the parts they needed to Callahan and they left.

Tom walked into Sickbay directly behind the stretcher bearing B'Elanna. The Doctor looked up from the patient he was currently treating, and said, "Triage report." He gestured to the a free bio-bed in the room and the stretcher crew place B'Elanna on it. The Doctor began to look her over, scanning with his tricorder.

"First and second degree plasma coolant burns, ruptured spleen, bruised liver, four broken ribs, and various cuts and abrasions. I administered 2cc's of imbrasine with a cordesol hydrant," replied Tom, handing the Doctor his tricorder. "Here are her initial readings, then two minutes after I administered the hypo. She's stabilized, but is going to need immediate surgery, I think."

"Correct, Mr. Paris, on all counts," said the Doctor. "I'll need assistance on this one. Are we in a position where you can give me an hour or so?"

"Let me check with Seven, Doc, but I think I can do that. We're on another trail, but we're pretty far out, and we're still on half impulse," said Tom, handing the Doctor various instruments automatically.

"I need the burn gel that we replicated," said the Doctor. "The last dermal regen went out yesterday, and I haven't had time to fix it, and we're out of Dahlamaine, again."

Tom walked over to the cabinet that held the gel, and at the same time tapped his commbadge, "Paris to Seven." He picked up the gel and walked it back to the Doctor.

"Seven here. Is B'Elanna all right?"

"Yes, she's stable now, but she's going to need immediate surgery. The Doc estimates that he'll need me for about an hour. What's our status?" said Tom, helping spread the gel onto the worst of B'Elanna's burns. He was taking extreme care to not touch them with any pressure more than necessary, even though she was currently unconscious. He was getting better with the other patients, but for people he really cared about, he still felt every pain he was required to give them in order to heal them.

"We are currently following the signature trail of the next target. Estimates put us approximately three hours behind it," said Seven reading off a padd in her hand. She looked up to see Ensign Tompkins standing there with his report. She took it and looked at it cursorily. "Sensors report no change in our shielding facade. Power levels are," and here she pulled yet another padd from the seat next to her, "holding at 52% for main systems. Secondary systems are ranging between 16 and 31%." She nodded to Tompkins, who returned to Ops. She began making some entries on the padd Tompkins had given her.

"All right," said Tom. "I'm in Sickbay for the time being. You have the Bridge, Ensign. Notify me if anything changes."

"Aye, Mr. Paris," replied Seven. She stood up and gave a tug to her blue-topped uniform, and took Tompkin's padd back to him. "Mr. Tompkins, I have input the calculations for the next series of shield modulations. Please verify them for me and begin the new phase."

"Aye, sir," replied Tompkins, taking the padd. "I think that the new Borg algorithmic series is really promising. It appears to not deteriorate in effect as fast as the previous sequences."

Seven nodded and said, "Good. Reverse modulate every fourth sequence beginning with random prime numbers, then deadhead a loop to trap the watchdogs. It should distract the seeker programs long enough for us to get to them and shut them down."

Tompkins looked at Seven with admiration, "Yes, sir. I'll get right on it."

Seven turned and went back to the command chair, sat down and began scanning another padd. She looked over to Ensign McNaughton, who was currently occupying the Conn. "Ensign McNaughton, have you finished calculating the course changes for the next hour based on the projections I gave you?"

"No, sir," replied McNaughten, who was frantically entering data and attempting to corollate it. "I've gotten about halfway through," she looked up at Seven who had risen from her chair and walked down to the Conn. "I'm sorry, sir. I didn't do very well at Stellar Navigation at the Academy."

Seven reached over McNaughton's shoulder and added some commands to the line that she had already entered. "You are a geologist, are you not?" inquired Seven with a raised eyebrow implant.

"Yes, sir," replied McNaughton, flattered that she would know this information.

Seven thought of something. "You may think of stellar navigation as trying to walk and chew gum at the same time," said Seven, finishing up the navigational commands. McNaughton just looked at her. "In other words, you must be prepared to think and do more than one thing at a time," said Seven with a slightly gentler tone. She added before she returned to the command chair, "Mr. Paris explained it to me that way one time when we were discussing a problem in Astrometrics." McNaughton smiled a bit at that and returned to her duties.

Seven picked up yet another padd, and then called down to Engineering. "Bridge to Engineering."

"Engineering, Crewman Shaw here."

"Shaw? Where's Ensign Vorik?" asked Seven.

"He's gone to repair the port impulse engine, sir, with Crewman Callahan," said Shaw.

"Has Mr. Vorik give any indication as to the estimated repair time for engines?"

"No, sir. He and Crewman Callahan are going to replace the resonators right now, but I have no idea how long that will take," said Shaw with regret.

"It is extremely relevant that you have Mr. Vorik contact me on a secure channel when he returns from the impulse engine housing area. Do not attempt to contact him there, it is not a secure area," said Seven with a firm voice.

"Understood, sir," replied Shaw. "If I could get a runner, I'd be able to send a message to him."

"I'll send Naomi Wildman down to you right away," said Seven, wondering why she didn't think of that sooner. "Bridge to Naomi Wildman."

"Wildman here."

"They need a runner in Engineering to go to the impulse engine housing area. Please use standard precautions when entering the housing area, it is not secure," instructed Seven with precision.

"Understood, sir," replied Naomi, her voice reflected a maturity that had not been there in better times.

"Report to the Bridge when you are done," added Seven.

"I'm on it, sir," said Naomi with a touch a pride. "Wildman out."

Seven put a hand to her head, which ached, and rubbed her forehead. She hadn't had time in her regeneration alcove for longer than she cared to think about. In fact, she hadn't even had much time for sleep lately. Even a former Borg couldn't function without one or the other. She then recalled why she didn't sleep much even when she had the time. She felt the once unfamiliar stab of pain, and a picture of the last time she saw Harry Kim flashed into her mind. She shut her eyes and drew a deep breath. She could not break down on the Bridge. There were two very junior officers there, doing duties that they were not properly trained for, and she was in command. She opened her eyes again and resolutely picked up one of the ever-present padds and began a new series of calculations from the data there.

"Finish sealing the edge of the artery there, Mr. Paris, it's started to bleed again. Good. Now we can finish the tissue regeneration on the liver and spleen," said the Doctor. He and Tom were gowned for surgery, and a med-arch was over B'Elanna, providing a sterile field to work in. They were a little over three quarters done with the procedure. Tom looked critically at the readings on the med-arch and said, "Her heartrate is a little low, Doc. Her pressure's dropped ten points also. Oxygen absorbtion has slowed to 80% of normal. She might be a little shocky."

"Administer a dose of Aritrol to see if we can get her stabilized. I don't want to proceed until she is. She could seize otherwise," said the Doctor looking over at the readings Tom was monitoring.

Tom pulled the necessary ampule from the drug cabinet and added it to the hypospray he took from the tray. He administered it into her neck and watched the readings. "They're going up a bit, but they're still not where they should be, right?"

The Doctor looked at the readings and said,"True, but she's reasonably stable at this point. I am going to proceed rather than wait." He looked up at Tom, "She's very strong, Tom. She'll be all right."

Tom looked at the Doctor and gave a very small smile of appreciation for what he was trying to do for him. Put his mind at ease. He hadn't felt at ease since this whole ordeal had started. He knew that he wouldn't be anywhere near at ease until this mission was completed. He had promised himself that. The operation proceeded.

About five minutes laters, the comm system chirped, "Neelix to Mr. Paris."

"Paris here. What is it Neelix?"

"Another one of the Vandals just committed suicide, sir," said Neelix with a tight voice.

"How?" said Tom, handing the Doctor a deep tissue regenerator.

"He apparently convinced his cellmate to assist him in ripping out his throat, rather than have to spend another day incarcerated," replied Neelix, looking down at a report that Crewman Dobbs had handed him. "I was out on a sweeper run on deck 7 when I got the message. Crewman Dobbs didn't want to enter the cell alone, and I concur with his judgement. I believe that he died fairly quickly if the amount of blood on the cell floor is any indication."

"OK," said Tom. "What's the clock at?"

"About 20 minutes left, sir. If you want it to be effective, that is," said Neelix consulting the chronometer on the wall.

"Hold onto the body, I'm almost finished up here. I'll send the stretcher party down to you, but wait until I get there," said Tom.

"Acknowledged, sir," replied Neelix. "Mr. Paris?"

"Yes, Neelix?"

"We're all pulling for B'Elanna, you know that, right?" said Neelix, his voice full of emotion that echoed a bit of his one-time exuberance.

"I know that, Neelix," said Tom with a warm tone in his voice. He looked at the Doctor who gave him a small smile before looking back down at B'Elanna and his work. "Thanks, Paris out." Looking over at the stretcher crew, he saw that they had collapsed on the floor near the door and were leaned up against the bulkhead, resting or sleeping. He hated to wake them, they seemed to ever in demand for something. "B'Tall, Cooley," he called. They both started. "Get down to the Brig. Neelix has another Vandal trying to reach Valhalla." The crewmen nodded, lifted their stretcher, and went out the door.

The Doctor looked appraisingly at the readings on the med-arch and made a few adjustments to his regen and applied it to the last of the deep wounds. "That should do it for the internal injuries. I'm going to need a dermal regenerator that functions to complete this properly, though. Any ideas? I'm open to suggestions at this point."

"Let me take a look at that regenerator, Doc," said Tom walking over to the stand where they were kept. "I don't have B'Elanna's touch, but I have a lot of recent experience in making a silk purse out of a sow's ear."

"You do have a lot of porcine experience at that," murmered the Doctor as he finished what he could and checked B'Elanna's readings one more time. They looked good, considering. Tom sighed and quirked his mouth tiredly. He really appreciated the Doctor's little asides most of the time, but right now, nothing much was very funny.

"Anyway," continued the Doctor, cleaning up the area. "It was the Vikings who went to Valhalla."

"Speaking from experience, Doc?" said Tom, making a tiny adjustment to the incredibly microscopic workings of the regen.

"As a matter of fact, yes," said the Doctor coming over to where Tom worked. "Any luck?"

"I think I may have it, at least it may work for a while. It really needs a new flow matrix. It may have an unsteady field. I'd work it at a very low level for a while and see how it goes," said Tom handing the regen to the Doctor. "It's just alliteration, Doc."

"Hmmm?" said the Doctor, busily checking the settings on the regen and preparing to try it out on B'Elanna.

"V for Vandals, V for Valhalla," continued Tom as he watched the Doctor begin the regen treatment on B'Elanna's tortured body. He was so tense, he could hardly pretend to keep up the banter he was using to hide his feelings.

"I see," said the Doctor, knowing what Paris was up to, but liking him all the more for not giving into the tension of the moment, so he played along. It was the least he could do. The man next to him was drawn as thin and taught as he'd ever seen Captain Janeway during the stressful time in the Void. He was hanging on by sheer determination, courage, and stubborness. He considered the woman on the bio-bed in front of him. He added love to his mental catalogue.

"It's working just fine, Mr. Paris," said the Doctor approvingly. "I can finish up here by myself," he added, knowing that he needed to get down to the Brig.

Tom looked down at B'Elanna and put a hand to her head and stroked her hair for a moment. He looked up at the Doctor and said, "OK, Doc. Take care of her for me. I need her just as much or more than the ship does." Tom looked at the Doctor, his blue eyes tired, but compelling.

The Doctor nodded his head once and said, "I know. I will."

"Thanks," said Tom in a low voice, and started walking to the door, his strides quick and purposeful. The Doctor heard him calling on his commbadge, "Paris to Neelix, I'm on my way..." as the Sickbay door shut.

End Part 1 1