Part 24

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Chakotay shifted uncomfortably in the Captain's chair. He'd only been sitting in it for an hour, since he'd taken command from Tuvok for the night shift, and already he was feeling the urge to pace. It probably wasn't the chair. It could have been the fact that he hadn't known he was going to be on duty for the night shift. He'd received the newly edited duty schedule only moments before turning in for the night. At first glance, he'd only seen the adjustment taking him off the morning shift and putting him on the night shift. He'd considered it a minor disturbance. Janeway was suspicious, and apparently thought that the rigor and sleep deprivation of a twelve-hour shift would throw off course whatever it was she thought he had planned. He'd been amused that she'd thought the Maquis would be perturbed by a schedule change. Like any of their operations against the Cardassians were ever halted because of alterations in any schedule. Maquis didn't live or die by schedules. It would be nice for Chakotay to be on the bridge when it went down, but it wasn't mandatory. Stupid Janeway.

Then, he'd examined the transmission more carefully.

Janeway wasn't that stupid.

Upon further observation, the night and day shift switch was not the major change to the schedule. She'd altered the duty shifts for the upcoming days, entirely. In nearly every section of importance, there was now a significant majority of Federation crew to Maquis crew. There was a curt and impersonal note, rather sarcastic as well, affixed to the end of schedule. She'd remarked innocently something to the effect that she'd come to realize that the duty roster should reflect the ship's conformity to Star Fleet regulations, and had consulted with Tuvok to decide which crew members fulfilled the qualities required of Star Fleet personnel, and which ones did not. Those who did not, she'd added, would be involved in a conversation to determine a cause and under go extensive training to improve the poor performances. They wouldn't be returned to full time duty until they had passed the review.

That was what it said.

That was not what it meant.

He knew he would be involved in one of Janeway's conversations, but it wouldn't be under the circumstances she was imagining. He'd forwarded the document to the Maquis crew with an additional message: to keep calm, to keep quiet, and to ignore what it appeared Janeway was learning, or pay the consequences.

Damn, Janeway was making this hard.

The incessant thought that Janeway might have actual information, rather than just suspicions, had worsened when he'd arrived for the night shift. Before he'd left his quarters, he'd received a confusing message from Samantha Wildman, in the form of a typical report from someone in Security to Tuvok. It had given a full account of Voyager's small arms inventory, concluding that there was an adequate supply with which to issue side arms to the entire crew for protection. Protection in instances of "boarding by hostiles or situations of crew disturbances." The writer had somehow managed to avoid the words "Maquis uprising", while still insinuating just that. Chakotay had seen the relevance of the report, but not the full meaning. He knew Samantha was hoping to get into his good graces, desperate to escape the violence. With Ken Dalby in the Brig, there was no one to echo her cause, and she was afraid she and her daughter would be caught in the very middle of it. He had a meeting with her in an hour, because she hadn't been content with the impersonal routine shore leave requests with which he'd been swamped when the Captain announced shore leave in the very same message with the duty alterations.

When he'd entered the Bridge, he'd seen the relevance of the transmission quite clearly. It seemed that although there were enough phasers to arm the entire crew, Tuvok felt it necessary only to arm the Star Fleet crew.

Chakotay felt far from comfortable, knowing he was surrounded by armed Fleeters. Bateheart didn't seem to know why he had a phaser at his belt, but Ensign Kim definitely did. Chakotay could feel the dark eyes focused on him without even looking back. The insubordinate tone to the 'Sir' greeting he'd been dealt when he entered the Brig made it clear Kim was ready and willing to shoot him.

Kim had been involved in preventing Dalby and Suder from eliminating Tom Paris, and obviously understood that Chakotay had been responsible, if indirectly, for the attempt on Paris.

And now Kim had a phaser.

Janeway was intent on making it all the more violent, wasn't she?

Phaser bolts flying, lots of people dying.

That was the way it had to be, if she didn't stop.

Chakotay asked Bateheart the time until arrival in orbit of Alpha 634.

Four hours.

Four hours away from the planet.

Four hours until they put it all in motion.

Part 25 | Index page