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Paris looked at his... food? as Janeway stood to get everyone's attention.
"Paris suggested that we form a democracy to elect a leader. I'd like to begin that process now. Who do we want to consider for the position as leader?" Janeway asked seriously.
"We need an experienced leader so that means Paris or Janeway. I know Chakotay, I trust him, so if I've got to choose now, I'll throw in with Paris..." Dalby said firmly.
Paris thought about what Dalby said and responded, "Thanks, but we need to consider the situation we're in. Do we want a Starfleet command structure, a Maquis cell or something else. Once we've decided what type of... government we're going to form, then we'll have a better idea of who'll be the best leader for it."
A murmur went through the mess hall and Paris looked at Janeway to find a nod of agreement.
"How about a sort of a democratic dictatorship. We're a small group so this is something simple and effective. No bureaucracy. One leader, the rest followers. If he... or she... screws up, we kick 'em out and replace 'em." Carey said to the group.
"He's got a point... but power corrupts. How about this? We hold an election every thirty days to replace our democratic dictator... let's just call the position 'leader'. Every thirty days we can elect our leader. And if a simple majority of the people vote to change our system of government, we'll meet again and come up with something else." Paris said to the group.
"What about law and order?" Janeway asked with concern.
"We'll make them up as we go along. If everyone will just try and be considerate of each other, we shouldn't need to make a big book of laws to follow. When we elect our leader, try to elect someone with the same moral compass that you follow." Paris said simply.
"This is a recipe for chaos. Without rules and regulations there won't be any order." Janeway said in a pleading voice.
"In a larger group I would agree with you. But with just us... it may not be so much of a problem. If it is, then we'll begin to draft laws. For now, the only laws we'll have are the ones made by our leader." Paris said and was interrupted.
"I'm going to relieve Kim, Wildman's got the absentee ballot for my vote." Nicoletti said as she got up and left the room.
"Anyone else want to be considered for the position of leader before we vote?" Paris asked the group.
No one answered and the room was silent until Kim entered.
"Kim, we're going to elect a leader. Janeway and I have been suggested. Our government will consist of the leader and everyone else... fairly simple. Any questions?" Paris asked with a smile.
"How will we vote?" Kim asked without emotion.
"Show of hands?" Paris asked Janeway.
"I think we should speak first to let everyone know what we're planning to do if we're elected." Janeway said in thought.
"Go ahead." Paris said and sat down.
"My first priority would be to secure the station and create defenses.� Next we would secure a spacecraft and explore the system we are living in and try to find the means to follow Voyager." Janeway said firmly.
Paris stood and said, "I think both of us would like to follow that plan, the only difference might be our methods."
There were a few chuckles from the group then Dalby stood and said, "Who else is ready to vote?"
There were several mumbles of agreement and Paris said, "Raise your hand if you want Janeway to be our leader."
Six hands went up, most notably Kim and both of Wildman's hands.
"Okay, raise your hand to vote for Paris as leader." Paris said confidently.
Paris received a clear majority and nodded.
"Thanks for the vote everyone. I'll do my best to make you proud. First thing, Janeway is my second. If she tells you something, it's just the same as hearing it directly from me. Now that that's out of the way... Janeway, take Carey and survey the shuttle bay. See if they left us anything to work with. If you need more help just tell me who you want and I'll do my best to get them to you. Kim, I need computer access, communications, and scanners. Let me know when you're ready for help and you'll get it. Chell, mess hall, room assignments, clothing, and whatever you can arrange for relaxation. Geron, assess our need for security and find us some weapons. Dalby, I know you've got field med. See to Vorik. I'm going to deal with Sudor. Everyone else, we need to explore this station for anything that might be usable. Until we have communications, this room is going to be our headquarters. If you find something usable, bring it here or tell Wildman what and where it is. She'll be in charge of resource management." Paris said firmly.
A small rush of excitement flowed out over the room as people started pairing off to explore the station.
"Janeway, a moment of your time." Paris said quickly.
"Yes?" Janeway answered hesitantly.
"There's a chance that you'll be in charge next month. With that in mind, I was wondering if you would join me for dinner so I can keep you up to date on everything that's going on." Paris said quietly.
"I think you've got Chakotay's know-how and Mr. Paris' charisma. It's very likely that I won't get a shot at being the leader." Janeway said with resignation.
"As long as we're united in our vision, it doesn't matter which of us is in charge, we just need to stay focused on the goal... which is to reach Voyager." Paris said with a note of resolve.
* * * * *
Paris walked to the chamber holding Sudor-Seska and began opening it.
"You sure Cap?" Dalby asked from Vorik's bedside.
"Yeah. Don't worry Dalby." Paris said with assurance as he started removing tubes and wires from the naked Cardassian boy.
"What?" The boy asked in a trembling voice.
"Shhh. Just hold still. I'll have you undone in a minute." Paris said quietly.
"Who... who are you?" Sudor asked weakly.
"I'm called Paris." He said with a gentle smile.
"I've met Tom Paris, you're not him... except your eyes..." Sudor drifted off in thought.
"We're genetic hybrids of the Voyager and Crazy Horse crews. Some lab tech forgot to push the kill button to abort us, so here we are, a year after Voyager left for the Alpha Quadrant." Paris said as he disconnected the last of the wires.
"Who am I?" Sudor asked in a shaky voice.
"As near as we can tell, you're the hybrid of Lon Sudor and Seska... who was apparently Cardassian." Paris said as he looked into Sudor's black eyes.
"She was... Obsidian order sent here to watch you... I remember her..." Sudor said with a visible shiver.
"Here, let me help you up so you can put on this lab coat." Paris said in an authoratative voice.
"So I'm... I'm Cardassian?" Sudor asked with a tremble of fear in his voice.
"Half... but you're another hybrid, just like the rest of us." Paris said in a soothing tone.
"Oh God, I'm a monster." Sudor gasped.
"No Sudor, that was Seska, not you. No one blames you for her choices." Paris said, trying to believe it himself.
"No, you don't understand. Sudor, Lon Sudor was a... he was like a drug addict, but his drug was emotions. Most Betazoids learn to erect walls to protect them from others emotions, but he...� he... learned to enjoy them... he craved them... finally, regular emotions weren't enough, he needed stronger and stronger emotions to give him his thrills. He joined the Maquis for the opportunity to kill Cardassians... to terrorize and torture them. He would wring every last drop of emotion out of them before he would finally kill them." Sudor said, then seemed to realize where he was and said, "I'm the hybrid of a murdering psychopath and a psychotic bitch."
Sudor folded himself into a fetal ball in his bed and began to cry.
"Sudor? Please, I can't promise that you're not going to have problems because of all that... but you didn't do those things. That was Sudor and Seska, you are yourself and you need to remember that you aren't responsible for anyone's choices but your own." Paris said softly.
"Don't call me Sudor... Please... anything else." He said as he tried to conceal his tears.
"What do you want to be called?" Paris asked quietly.
"I don't care, just not anything that has to do with either of them." Sudor said through sniffles.
"How about Bey... like my brother... er, or Uncle... Beyval?" Paris asked carefully.
"Really? You'd let me be named like your brother?" He asked hopefully.
"Yes. I can't tell you how anyone else is going to feel, but I'm not going to judge you by your species or your genetic donors. I want to get to know you, and... honestly... We're all new here and I could really use a friend. I was kind of hoping it could be you." Paris finished shyly.
"That would be good... But you'll have to show me how. Believe it or not, Sudor and Seska didn't have any real friends. Just a long line of people they used." Bey said sadly.
"Then you'll be able to do something that neither of them ever could." Paris said with a smile.
"Yeah. If I've got a real friend, then I'm nothing like them... I can be something better than either of them." Bey said with a smile.
"Sounds like a plan. Come on Bey, I bet you're hungry. We've got something... sort of like food just down the hall." Paris said as he helped Bey out of his bed.
"Cap?" Dalby asked hesitantly.
"Don't worry Dalby. Bey is okay." Paris said, flashing Dalby a warning look.
"Bey?" Dalby asked in confusion.
"Yeah. Suits him, don't you think?" Paris asked with a big smile.
"Sure Cap. By the way, I think I figured out Vorik's problem with the headache. We're just about to go and get something to eat." Dalby said as she turned her attention back to her patient.
"Well then, let's get out of here and feed these guys." Paris said as he slung an arm around Bey's shoulders.
Bey started at the movement, but quickly accepted the casual hug and enjoyed the feel as Paris led him out of the room.
* * * * *
"Oh good, there you are. I was just about to come looking for you." Carey said with excitement.
"Just a second Carey." Paris said as he led Bey to a seat.
"You two just sit down and I'll get something for you to eat.
"I can get that. Go ahead and talk to Carey before he busts." Dalby said with a big grin.
"Thanks Dalby." Paris said and turned his attention to Carey.
"We found two short range shuttles. They need a little work, but the people who left must have been in a hurry because they're both nearly operational." Carey said with excitement.
"That's great news. As soon as you and Janeway have assessed the conditions of both shuttles, we can begin repairs. Try and figure out how many people you'll need and when." Paris said seriously.
"You got it. The shuttle bay is two levels down at the end of the hall if you want to see it yourself." Carey said quickly.
"I'll probably be down in a while. I'm going to wait around here for a little bit to see if any other teams check in." Paris said happily.
"See ya then." Carey said in a rush and left the room.
"You're in charge?" Bey asked in wonder.
"Yeah, we had a little election during lunch. It's just for a month." Paris said with a shrug.
"So you kept me asleep." Bey said in a whisper.
"Yes. I was the first to wake up and I've only been awake a few hours. We left you asleep until we knew if we were alone on the station, if we had food... things like that." Paris said as he took his seat beside Bey.
"I bet there were some who didn't want to wake me up." Bey said into his food.
"Maybe. But no one said it out loud. We didn't know if you'd be violent when you woke so we waited a little while. Bey, I know there're going to be problems, but I'm on your side. If you have any trouble, come to me." Paris said seriously.
"I don't need you to fight my battles." Bey said darkly.
"That's not what I meant. If you have trouble, come to me and I'll be there to listen and share it with you." Paris said, looking Bey in the eyes.
"Thanks Paris. I'll do that." Bey said with a smile.
"How are you doing Vorik?" Paris asked, feeling that he'd been rude by focusing solely on Bey.
"Much better. Dalby has a healing touch." Vorik said with a smile.
"You're smiling." Paris said with surprise.
"I am only half Vulcan and have not been trained to suppress my emotions." Vorik said shortly.
"Actually that's only half of it. Neither of my donors knew Vorik, but Chakotay knew Paul Johnson for many years and never saw the man smile.
"He only did it in private. He believed that to smile was to show weakness." Vorik said with a chuckle.
"I'm glad you didn't inherit that from him. You're much better this way." Paris said fondly.
"Thank you Paris. Do you think my medical needs are going to be a problem?" Vorik asked with concern.
"I don't know. Why don't you and Dalby work on inventorying medical supplies. Then we'll know." Paris said as he noticed that Bey had finished his food.
"So what did you think of the food Bey?" Paris asked hesitantly.
"Room for improvement." Bey said with a look of apology.
Vorik nodded in confirmation.
"Do you want to give it a try? Maybe you'll be able to make something that tastes better." Paris suggested.
"I could try." Bey said and looked around the room.
"Chell is in charge of the kitchen, so make sure you let him know before you start doing anything." Paris said simply.
"I'll tell him now. It may take some time to find ingredients." Bey said as he got up from his chair.
* * * * *
Kim walked into the room and handed a piece of metal to Paris.
Paris looked at the thing that looked like a Starfleet symbol, but with four animalistic slashes diagonal across the symbol instead of the neat horizontal bars across the front.
"Communicator?" Paris asked hesitantly.
"Yes. I have been able to route communications through the main computer. This is the first communicator I have made. I could use the assistance of three people to make enough communicators for everyone." Kim said seriously.
"Okay. The next three people are yours. Good work." Paris said with a serious look.
"I have instituted a rudimentary translator program. It is insufficient at this time, but I believe that as soon as the lexicon is sufficiently populated, we will have full access to the computer by voice commands." Kim said without emotion.
"Good, good." Paris said in thought.
"I will begin to assess the scanners on my return." Kim said and turned to leave.
"Kim, I had something to ask you. Vorik, if Bey is looking for me, tell him I'll be right back." Paris said and walked to Kim's side.
Vorik nodded as he watched as Kim and Paris left the room.