Title: Mushroom Soup Author: Jemima Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Series: VOY Part: 4/19 Rating: PG Codes: P, C/S, AU Summary: Seska sets her sights higher than just mushroom soup. An AU loosely based on the episode "State of Flux". Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
Tom was bored. They'd been in this wretched quadrant barely half a year, and he was chafing under Starfleet regulations already. Not as much as some people, though - they'd run across some melted Kazon a few weeks back, fried by technology which might have been smuggled off Voyager. Tom was sure it had been, but the Kazon weren't talking - they were all dead on arrival. Tuvok's investigation had gone nowhere fast. A court martial would have been interesting, Tom thought, especially someone else's for a change.
"EMH to Commander Chakotay," the familiar voice rang out over the comm system. Tom perked up; for a hologram, the Doc sounded awfully nervous. Something was going down.
"Please report to sickbay, Commander," the Doc ordered.
"What's the problem, Doctor?" Chakotay replied, not pleased to be ordered around by a hologram with no rank.
Tom turned around for a better view of the Commander fuming; he caught Harry's eye and wiggled an eyebrow at him.
"It's the Captain, sir." The EMH sounded upset.
"What is it?" Chakotay demanded, looking the way the Doc sounded.
"She's been found dead - poisoned."
Tom was the only one who saw Chakotay's face - a second of heartrending grief crossed his features, followed by a look of suspicion, then blankness.
Tuvok launched another investigation, but an equally unsuccessful one. Chakotay took command. Tom thought the new Captain played the funeral cool, compared to what he had seen in his eyes that fateful day on the bridge.
Eventually rumors spread that he was seeing Seska again. One night in Tom's cabin, Jenny Delaney muttered that Janeway wasn't cold in her grave and he's back in that so-and-so's bed. Before her death, Tom hadn't thought much of the rumors about Janeway and Chakotay, but most of the Starfleet girls (so Tom, the ship's ladies' man, termed them) had believed. They liked to picture themselves with swashbuckling rebels like Chakotay; Tom played up his short career in the Maquis and martyrdom in prison, and he got around. Life is short in the Delta Quadrant, he quipped, and the girls agreed.
A year later, the Chakotay/Seska thing was out in the open. Tom still didn't quite buy it, though. Sometimes he thought he saw a flash of disgust in the Captain's eyes when Seska appeared on the bridge, yet they seemed happy together, as much as two angry people like they were could seem happy at all.
Seska was obsessed with returning to the Alpha Quadrant. Why, Tom didn't know. Chakotay would surely be demoted, if not jailed, and Bajor was a wreck of a planet, if you asked the helmsman. Seska, Vorik and B'Elanna spent most of their time trying to adapt alien technology to speed up the engines. Having their captain as Captain gave the Maquis hope; maybe they just wanted to go back and fight Cardassians at home.
Later that year, Vorik went through his pon farr and B'Elanna mated with him. Tom was oddly disappointed, though he'd never held out much hope for his own attempts to add her to his list of conquests. He went back to work on Megan Delaney.
Torres' marriage with Vorik was going badly, Tom would have said, but Vorik was so calm and logical about it all most of the time that B'Elanna seemed unlikely to leave him. It was just that comment about Klingons being unable to bond that put him in sickbay for a few days.
Tom's duties in sickbay had relieved most of the boredom of the first couple of years - much as he hated to admit it, the Doc was good company and Kes an entertaining challenge. He didn't have to speak his trite but charming lines because Kes could read his mind: 'Life is short in the Delta Quadrant', 'No ring, no foul,' etc.
It was there in sickbay that the most momentous event of the journey occurred. Once again, Tom was the only surviving witness, or at least the only legally-admissible one. Seska and Chakotay had been together two years, but that day Paris was shocked to see the Captain marching her into sickbay at phaser point.
"Examine her. Get a blood sample," Chakotay ordered Tom coldly, and continued into the office to talk to the EMH.
"What am I looking for?" Tom asked Seska as he extracted some blood with a hypospray.
She didn't bother to answer; she kept her eyes fixed on Chakotay the entire time. As soon as the Captain's back was turned, she pushed Tom aside and made a break for the door. Chakotay was faster than she was, though, and he cut her down with the phaser. Seska evaporated into her constituent particles before Tom's very eyes.
"The phaser was set to kill," Tom commented unnecessarily.
"That's my policy with Cardassians," Chakotay replied.
"Cardassians?" Tom had suspected plenty about Seska, but never that. "When did you find out?"
Chakotay slumped against the wall behind him. "I figured it out two years ago."
He'd slept with a Cardassian for two years. What could drive a Maquis to do that?
"Doc, can you process the blood sample Tom took? Tuvok will need it for my court martial."
Speak of the pointy-eared devil, Tom thought, as Tuvok arrived in sickbay to lead Chakotay to the brig. The Vulcan returned afterward to depose Tom, but the medic had a question of his own:
"Why did he do it, Tuvok?"
"I am sure the Captain will make his motives clear at the court martial."
Tuvok, B'Elanna and Paris were the ranking officers; they sat in judgement at Chakotay's court martial. They heard the Doctor confirm that Seska was a Cardassian, presumably a member of the Obsidian Order. B'Elanna's vote was secured then and there.
They saw the EMH's visual records of the incident, and Tom corroborated the details.
"Why," Tom asked, "were you marching a Starfleet officer, albeit a Cardassian one, around the ship at the point of a phaser set to kill?"
That was when Chakotay entered a recording into evidence. B'Elanna fumed through the entire playback, while Tom sat spellbound, imagining the facial expressions behind the words.
"Do that again, Captain," they heard Seska say.
"Whatever you want, Lieutenant," Chakotay's voice replied.
"Aren't you glad you made me a lieutenant? You couldn't sleep with an ensign, now, could you?"
"Aren't you glad you made me a captain? You wouldn't settle for a mere commander, now, would you?"
"Why, Captain, I don't know what you mean," Seska protested. Tom could hear the smirk on her face.
Chakotay laughed, too, but Tom thought he caught the dark undertone to his laughter, the same darkness he'd seen in the Captain's eyes now and again over the past two years. He could see it right now as the defendant sat at attention, listening impassively to this scene from his bedroom.
"Dear, no one else on this ship is smart enough to get away with something like that. I know you were selling technology to the Kazon and she was on your trail. You did what was necessary, like a good Maquis."
"Why, thank you, Captain. That's very kind, coming from you. I thought you were fond of her."
"She was nothing like you, Seska." Tom sensed the menace in his double entendre and was suddenly afraid for Seska, even though the Cardassian was already dead.
There was silence for a few moments, then Chakotay's voice again, saying, "I appreciate your finesse. Did you get the poison from the Kazon? Tuvok could never trace it."
Somehow Tom knew Seska was about to break - Chakotay had spent his two years well, learning the right combination of flattery and scepticism to get her to talk.
"Yes," she admitted. "The Kazon have a wide assortment of untraceable poisons. I chose the most painful - of course it had to be immediately incapacitating as well, or she might have made it to sickbay. Measuring it was a delicate matter, and transporting it to her replicator was a master stroke of timing I doubt I'll ever equal. I hope she suffered."
"I'm sure she did. And don't worry, I'm sure you have another feat of timing in you somewhere."
Tom shuddered suddenly at the memory of Seska in sickbay watching for Chakotay to turn his back. She had crossed the wrong man, and he had had his revenge. He was some captain, to beat the Obsidian Order at its own game.
Paris barely noticed that the recording had ended and Tuvok was instructing them to make their decisions. Tom knew it was malice aforethought, but he voted with B'Elanna to acquit. The Vulcan was overruled, and so Chakotay remained Captain.
That day, Tom's affair with B'Elanna began. He'd noticed her eyeing him for some time; it must have been his pro-Maquis vote that finally tilted the scales in his favor. She wasn't happy with Vorik, at least not in this long down-time before his next pon-farr.
He gave up all the Starfleet girls for her, and felt guilty about it most of the time. She told him what understanding husbands Vulcans were - it was like living with a saint, she complained, and she was bored. Whatever his past crimes, he'd never thought he'd end up an adulterer, but he loved B'Elanna like the Captain had loved Janeway - which was to say, too much for his own good.