Part 44

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"Doc, that's not going to work!"

Tom was leaning as close as he could to the EMH, his face practically pressed against the force field. He drew back as it tickled his eyebrows and made his eyelids reflexively shut to avoid it.

"I realize that it's not a permanent solution-" the Doctor began.

"It's not even a temporary solution!"

Tom moved back into uncomfortable contact with the force field.

"Everyone's just going to start again once it wears off, Doc!"

Tom realized then that not only was he shouting, but that the Doc was looking ready to drop the force field and let Tom succumb to the sedative. After which, the EMH would probably try execute this plan of his. This very, very bad plan.

"Doc," he said, lowering his voice. He took a deep breath, considering a quieter way to communicate.

"Okay," Tom began. "This isn't one of those 'sleep on it and you'll change your mind' things. For what you're suggesting to *possibly* work, we'd have to...have to...modify it."

Tom let out that breath, and stared at the Doctor. "A lot," he finished.

"How?"

It was deceptively simple question.

One that had the effect of really pissing Tom off.

He didn't want to have to answer that.

In the first place, he didn't want to be stuck behind a force field in the Sickbay of a doomed ship-and it *was* doomed-arguing with an EMH who someone had programmed to be too damned persistent in upholding the Hippocratic Oath, a useless phrase so far from the planet it came from and in a situation that no one ever meant for it to be applied in.

He didn't want to be involved in the resolution of something he wasn't involved in the creation of, in something that he was trying very hard to have no part whatsoever in.

He wanted desperately to go to the Shuttle Bay, rid it of the Maquis in the way he'd come up with right before Torres had tackled him, and leave this miserable ship where it hung in space.

He did not want to be about to tell the EMH the modifications to his plan that would, more or less, cease activity in both execution of and efforts against the mutiny.

The Doc was staring at him, waiting for a response.

The force field was irritating his skin, bothering his eyes so much that they began tear up.

Tom shoved back from the force field, bringing one arm up wipe at his stinging eyes.

He kept his arm up, scrubbing at the non-existent particles swimming under his lids.

He dropped his arm, his mind having finally concocted a somewhat devious way to partially avoid what the EMH was asking of him.

"First thing. You have declare the senior officers unfit for duty."

"What?"

"Janeway's alive but out of it, right?"

The Doc nodded, clearly confused.

"Tuvok will probably have locked out Chakotay and the rest of the Maquis. As Chief Medical Officer, you can lock Tuvok and everyone else out of the computer. Just diagnose them all as unfit."

"They *aren't* unfit."

"I'd say their feelings toward the Maquis are definitely interfering with their ability to carry out wise decisions that don't involve killing any Maquis."

"Tuvok's a Vulcan."

"And I bet he's following Janeway's orders. Just how do you think she feels about the Maquis?"

Silence.

"They *shot* her."

The EMH was still unconvinced.

"Doc, If you don't do this, Voyager won't make it home to face any review board to judge the merit of your decision. All it takes is Tuvok or someone else reprogramming you. If the computer won't acknowledge them, they can't."

The EMH nodded, clearly reluctant.

"Any other modifications?" A distinctly displeased tone and unnecessary emphasis on the last word made it clear that maybe the Doc was regretting asking Tom for his involvement.

"Yeah. We'll keep the first part the same, change it from there as we go along. We should start in the Shuttle Bay, that's where Chakotay and a lot of Maquis are."

And my way out....

The Doc moved off to a console, presumably performing the task of judging the entire crew unfit.

Tom sat on the bio-bed, pulling his knees up to his chest and clutching them.

He had to make this work.

In the Jefferies Tube almost directly above Tom, B'Elanna Torres crawled towards the Sickbay controls. The dark lighting of the tubes were doing nothing at all for the vertigo, but now at least she could stop and press against the floor whenever her vision and sense of balance went haywire. Her balance was awful to begin with. Her hand was throbbing anew, and she was slowed by that impediment.

She wondered how three legged creatures managed. Or one-handed humanoids, for that matter, as she had a hell of time wrenching the panel off the wall. She stared at the electronics within.

Now, which one controls the EMH?

Part 45 | Index page