Part 41

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"What?"

Tom Paris sat up on the bio-bed, doubting that the Doc had actually said what his ears had heard.

"I need you to help me end this."

The Doc had stepped away, walking over to one of the Sickbay consoles.

"This?"

Tom knew exactly what he was talking about, but couldn't begin to imagine why the Doc would want his help.

Or how exactly the Doc thought he could do anything to stop it.

The Doctor turned around, spreading his hands, indicating the patients occupying every bio-bed and nearly every free spot on the floor.

"*This*, Mr. Paris."

Tom's gaze followed the EMH's out-stretched hands, then returned to the Doctor's eyes.

"I am programmed to prevent this."

"Doc, you didn't have any part in this, and you can't prevent it. You can't even leave Sickbay, how do you propose to interfere?"

Tom tried to climb off the bio-bed and go towards the Doc, who was looking far more upset than anyone, humanoid or hologram, should ever be.

He didn't see what hit him in the head and knocked him back on the bio-bed, although he could guess what it was.

He sat back up, extending one hand to feel the force field around the bio-bed.

Trying to ignore the growing suspicion building in his chest, he drew his hand back.

"Force field?" he asked, eyeing the Doctor for his reaction.

People who put him behind force fields were never working in his best interest.

"The area within that force field contains normal air, Mr. Paris. Without it you would be unconscious within seconds."

The Doctor seemed unaware of Tom's displeasure, turning back to the console.

"You could fill all of Sickbay with normal air," Tom suggested.

"No."

The Doc remained hunched over the console.

He didn't elaborate.

"How do you think I can help you?" Tom asked, after a moment.

And furthermore, why the hell should I?

"You can move freely around the ship."

"Not that well when people are *shooting* at me. Choose someone who's only being shot at by one side. They'll be much safer than I would be," Tom responded, pointing to the nearest patient who looked to be only slightly injured

He was beginning to feel a little desperate. The Doc had every right to want to end the violence, but he didn't have the right to make Tom do it.

"Yes, Mr. Paris. But you're the only neutral party on this ship. I need someone who will stop it completely, not try and turn it in the favor of one side or the other."

Tom scooted as close to the Doc as the force field would allow.

"Doc, I can't help you. I wasn't trying to do anything to anybody and I managed to get shot and bitten! I just want to get off the ship."

"Mr. Paris, I promise you. You will not be hurt and when it is over you may leave the ship."

Tom sighed, feeling even more trapped than he had when Torres had told him the Maquis were in the Shuttle Bay.

"Fine," he said.

Maybe.

"What do I have to do?"

Part 42 | Index page