Part 35

After the uninterrupted stream of action and excitement-from escaping Voyager to being brought back to escaping once again-Tom thought he would be relieved for the calm he now found.

He was not relieved, if anything he was all the more jittery

And although Sam Wildman wasn't actually saying anything, by merely sitting with tightly wound apprehensiveness and restlessness, Tom could feel the same uneasiness roll over him.

Torres' mere presence-although at least for the moment she had ceased looking violent-was enough to keep Tom alert for the sudden occurrence of pretty much anything.

Naomi had apparently decided that since every adult on board was intent on being silent, yet intensely worried and considering that there was still rather badly hidden overt hostility between Tom and Torres, that her only refuge was holding tightly to Tom and waiting for something to happen.

They were all waiting for something too happen.

Tom could not believe the ease with which the Pelorans had been convinced that all was not right with Voyager.

He half expected to be hailed again, this time with the information that Voyager had talked the Pelorans into reversing their opinion.

It was not the Pelorans that hailed their shuttle, but people whom Tom didn't want to hear from, either.

The Maquis shuttles, being held nearby.

Doubtless, they knew Torres was on board and wanted to congratulate her on damaging Voyager.

Torres, of course, noticed the hail before Tom could do anything to get rid of it.

She moved to activate the screen, and Tom turned away, balancing Naomi as he walked towards the rear of the shuttle.

He didn't even want to see the Maquis.

He noticed Sam was looked nervously up at the screen, waiting for it to activate.

She wanted to see Dalby, he knew.

He'd thought for a while that Sam was only with Dalby for protection from the Maquis for the mutiny, but it was now apparent that there was an actual relationship.

It made no sense to him.

The screen had yet to activate, to the extreme annoyance of Torres, if the sounds she was making were any indication.

Finally, she whirled around.

"I can't open a channel," she said accusingly. "What did you do?"

Tom made his way back towards the console, gently releasing Naomi into the arms of her mother. He looked for himself at the console controls.

"I didn't do anything," he said. "The Pelorans are blocking our comm channels."

Torres made a snarling noise and went for the controls as if she intended to pound them into functioning correctly. Tom moved out of the way, content to let her think she could outwit the Pelorans. He took a seat next to Sam, who was holding Naomi in silence.

"That was some fast talking," he said mildly. "Very good."

Sam nodded, something next to humor and near bitterness on her face.

"I didn't think it would work," she remarked after a moment.

"Neither did I," Tom replied. "But they've blocked our comm channels so we can't get our stories straight with the Maquis. They must be thinking it over."

On board the Maquis shuttle, Chakotay discovered that the Pelorans had suddenly decided to disrupt his hail.

And so, all shuttles, and even Voyager, got to sit in frustrated silence and wait.

Wait about an hour, one very tense hour.

Then, almost simultaneously, every party involved received a transmission from a group within the Peloran government, identifying themselves as some kind of High Council of Judicial Matters. It communicated the consensus that the Peloran government profoundly regretting admitting anyone from Voyager into their space, but now had a responsibility to assess the situation and resolve it appropriately.

This assessment could not be done, of course, with the Maquis shuttles and Voyager sitting just within and just without the Peloran border, flinging insults and accusations across it.

Thus, this High Council wanted to have a hearing, with testimonial from every side. Not just from every side, incredulously, but from every person.

Voyager instantly logged dissatisfaction, inquiring of the Pelorans if they knew the exact number of Voyager's crew, and complaining that a swift judgement could never be reached if every crew member was interviewed-if Voyager even chose to participate in what they were still of the opinion did not belong to Peloran control.

The complaint was ignored. The communiqué went on to invite a representative of all sides at each interview, with the warning that the intent was to develop a clearer picture for the High Council, not simply allow the opposing sides to get within fists reach of each other.

Voyager was silent for close to half an hour. It seemed to Chakotay that Janeway was sulking. Paris and Wildman-two who were apparently considered third parties to the dispute-agreed almost immediately. Clearly, they thought that even if Voyager rejected the offer, the Pelorans would protect them from whomever they each felt threatened by. Finally, Voyager agreed to the proffered terms. It was then that the Maquis stepped inside the developing negotiations, with the demand that all remaining Maquis be transported off Voyager.

Chakotay waited for a response.

Henley read over the rest of the details for this so-called hearing.

"Basically, they're putting everyone on trial for the mutiny," she said finally.

Chakotay nodded. "Basically."

"What," she continued, "Gives them that right?"

"Bigger guns," supplied Dalby, caustically.

No one disagreed with him.

"We're lucky," Chakotay tempered the rising ire, "that they're including everyone, and it's not just the Maquis."

The request to transfer the imprisoned Maquis was approved, and if Voyager felt differently, it couldn't be prevented because Voyager couldn't activate its shields yet.

Strangely, suspiciously, the transferred Maquis failed to reappear on the three shuttles, although sensors confirmed that they had indeed been beamed out, and that Voyager was impatiently hailing the Pelorans, probably pissed off.

And then Chakotay was hailing the Pelorans, equally impatiently and pissed off, because he wanted to know where his people had been taken.

The Pelorans took their sweet time in answering.

When they finally did, their response was short transmission expressing that there was such concern with leaving the Maquis and Voyager so close together for the future proceedings, that the Maquis on Voyager had been beamed elsewhere, and the shuttle occupants would follow shortly.

Shortly was right.

Chakotay had barely finished reading the message before he felt the well-known sensation of a transporter beam sweep over him. When it faded, he was standing in a dimly lit space, surrounded by his Maquis, all of whom were appropriately stunned, and some of whom were sitting shocked on the floor after suddenly losing their seats.

Dalby lifted himself off the floor, as Henley tried unsuccessfully to gracefully get to her feet.

"These people do not like asking," she growled, "do they?"

Chakotay didn't respond, too intent on looking around to see if he could find one of 'these people' to whom he could express how much he didn't like them at the moment.

He didn't see any Pelorans, only his Maquis, most still struggling to their feet and the others looking around suspiciously, hands at their belts as if they needed the reassurance of a phaser.

That made him reach for his own belt, which he found empty.

Of course, you don't abduct people -especially people that you've been told are mutineers and violent terrorists-and let them keep their weapons.

Maybe abduct was too strong a word-move without consent was a milder and less aggressive term, and the last thing the Maquis needed to be doing was developing antagonistic feelings towards people to whom they wanted to appear sympathetic and non-threatening.

From the irate murmuring he was surrounded by, he definitely had cause to be concerned with such a development.

He had to put a stop to it.

He directed Henley and Dalby to draw the attention of the rest of the Maquis.

While they were loudly doing just that, Chakotay took a moment to glance around their new location.

It was wide enough that he could only see one dark wall and the ceiling lights that were illuminating the floor. The wall he could see was featureless-doorless as well-and he guessed this was some kind of storage area converted to an emergency brig.

Rather quickly, impressively, Dalby and Henley had managed not only to quiet the Maquis, but also to clear the jumbled masses into semi-straight lines.

This allowed Chakotay to take a good look at his Maquis, finally together again on one ship, although certainly not in a command position on another certain ship, as they'd planned. If this was a ship.

They were smaller in number, it wrenched his heart to conclude, even with the addition of the Maquis that had been held prisoner on Voyager.

He noticed a figure coming forward from the dark rear, with little to no regard to who was shoved aside to allow the person through. Seeing B'Elanna emerge into the light did a lot to lighten the previous pain. She made her way to his side, almost as if it was her rightful place, as Henley stepped away to stand next to Dalby.

B'Elanna looked a little mussed, but otherwise appeared to be okay.

"Are you alright?" he asked, simply letting that communicate how glad he was to have her by his side again.

"Yeah," she answered, not pausing to take a breath as she continued, "Where are we?"

Part 36 | Index page