Part 14

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In the Mess Hall, Neelix nervously continued to serve breakfast.

In the Brig, Tom sat on the bunk and wished like hell that someone would bother to bring him breakfast.

In the Wildman quarters, Samantha searched her mind for a way to protect Naomi and herself from something that had come too early.

In the first officer's quarters, Chakotay was being warned that their plans had just been shot to hell.

And in the Captain's quarters, Janeway and Tuvok discussed the veracity of their former Maquis comrades.

Or lack thereof.

And while Tuvok spoke with logic, Janeway found herself strangely paranoid, her mind racing with thoughts of a Maquis conspiracy. She'd been blissfully unaware that Tom Paris was endangering the crew on a daily basis. God only knew what Chakotay's people could be up to, without her knowledge.

Chakotay's people? When did she start thinking of the former Maquis as his people?

Former? She was going to have rethink putting that word in front of Maquis.

Mean while, Tuvok spoke with fewer accusations.

"It is well-known that many of the former Maquis have low opinions of Mr. Paris."

"To say the least," she retorted.

"Many of them also harbor aggression towards him," Tuvok continued.

"I noticed."

She started moving again.

"It is possible that their profound interest in our conversation was in order to find out why he is in the Brig, and for how long. And a few might be aware of the circumstances under which he was placed in the Brig, and be curious when he will be released, so that they might...take issue with him in regard to his crimes, personally."

That was Vulcan for "They want to beat the shit out of him."

Janeway circled the coffee table again.

"By no means have those aggressive feelings disappeared entirely, Tuvok. But no action would be taken against him. That type of behavior has long since ceased."

When her steps brought her to face Tuvok again, she found his arched eyebrows residing near his hairline.

The universal facial movement for "What?"

Or maybe it was "What universe are you living in?"

"You disagree?"

Tuvok nodded.

"The former Maquis have ceased perceptible aggression, but I believe it is a deception. Motivated perhaps, by your instructions to Commander Chakotay to resolve differences with the Star Fleet Crew. Unwilling to make the effort, the former Maquis have only pretended to obey."

"How long have you had these concerns?"

"I reached that conclusion approximately a year ago."

"Allow me to phrase that differently, why the hell didn't you inform me?"

"My concerns have been minimal, Captain. Had they ever reached a point where I believed there was danger to Voyager or the crew, I would not have kept silent." He added, "And I thought that you had reached a similar conclusion. I was in error."

Janeway finally sat down across from Tuvok.

"Do you believe that the Maquis may, imperceptibly, have continued their abuse of Mr. Paris?" She sighed. "I remember when I used to have put him in the Brig, for his own protection, on a weekly basis. I thought those fights were over with."

"I do not know. I do not believe so, for I believe I would know if they had. And if Mr. Paris was being abused, poisoning the crew was not an appropriate response."

"I know. He didn't respond appropriately before, either. He was making weapons out anything, remember?" Janeway growled, her eyes darkening to recall that time.

Tuvok obviously did.

"He should have reported the attacks, not responded to them with more violence," said Tuvok.

"Yes."

Janeway felt the adrenaline fading. She'd been so caught up in her sudden belief that the former Maquis were up to something, the realization that they weren't, drained her. She smiled weakly at Tuvok.

"I was beginning to think there was some sort of Maquis conspiracy abounds. Turns out, I only completely misjudged the feelings of half my crew."

"You requested that I alter the security schedule in order to prevent any former Maquis from guarding Paris. You were aware, to an extent."

Janeway nodded. She didn't feel any better.

"Have you done that?"

"Yes, Crewman O'Donnell will take Lieutenant Dalby's shift."

"Good. Now, I believe I need to speak with Commander Chakotay."

Chakotay was with seven other Maquis, among them B'Elanna Torres and Ken Dalby. They were trying, rather fruitlessly, to come up with a spontaneous plan that was similar to the original. And failing.

B'Elanna swore Tom Paris had said nothing. Unless he'd suddenly become telepathic or found a way to communicate that couldn't be detected by sight or sound. She'd installed the monitor his first night in the Brig, and kept an eye on the vid.

It didn't matter if Paris had been the one to tell Janeway. What mattered was that she knew.

And everyone in Chakotay's quarters jumped when her voice came over Chakotay's comm badge.

"Janeway to Chakotay."

And everyone froze.

Chakotay was the first to react. He gestured to the others to keep quiet

"Chakotay here," he replied, his voice perfectly neutral.

"I think it's time we had a discussion. I'll be coming by your quarters, if that's alright."

It didn't sound like a request.

"Certainly, Captain."

He ended the conversation.

"You need to get out of here before she comes," he announced.

Dalby was already clearing the PADDs and getting rid of all evidence of what they'd been doing.

Little late for that, Chakotay thought.

Time for this, he thought, as B'Elanna handed him a phaser rifle.

He stared at it.

"We don't know that I need that yet."

"Yes, we do," was B'Elanna's firm reply.

He placed the phaser rifle on the couch, beneath a designed throw cover, and put a pillow on top of it.

He sat down beside it.

The Maquis scattered from his quarters.

B'Elanna lurked outside in the corridor, waiting for the Captain.

She saw Janeway walking towards Chakotay's quarters.

Alone.

Unarmed.

What the hell?

B'Elanna watched her from afar, as Janeway chimed the door. A moment later, she disappeared inside.

Idiot Janeway.

This was going to be easy for Chakotay.

Part 15 | Index page