Part 36

"Captain," Harry Kim announced, "The Pelorans are beaming the Maquis out of the Brig."

Janeway glanced over her shoulder.

"Shields still down," he added, because it sounded better than 'and we can't stop them'.

"Where were they taken?" Janeway asked, staring out the view screen, rubbing the bridge of her nose methodically.

"A disguised location within the Border Ship," he answered.

Janeway sighed.

"Hail them," she ordered.

"No response."

Looking at the back of Janeway's head, Harry could see her jaw set angrily, although she remained silent.

Not that there was much to say. The damage inflicted by the blast as Tom's shuttle left had more or less assured that Voyager wasn't going to be doing anything offensive or defensive for a good while. And even if most of Voyager's facilities weren't unusable, there wasn't much they could do against the Pelorans.

It was amazing that Maquis had managed to involve an alien race that was not only technologically superior, but also one that felt it had an interest in finding a 'resolution' to the situation. The only reason Janeway had acquiesced to such a claim was because, as Tuvok had pointed out, if she refused there was the high likelihood that the Pelorans would spirit the Maquis away, or keep them indefinitely under Peloran protection.

Harry had kept his objections to himself, but he still wondered why it would be such a horrible thing to be rid of the Maquis, for once and for all. To leave while the Maquis were detained, with the knowledge that the Pelorans would probably keep hold of them for at least long enough for Voyager to have a head start, in case the Maquis wanted to give chase and start it again. Tom had made his choice, as had Sam Wildman.

It was almost too late for that option, though, considering that Voyager had just regained the ability to go to impulse, and the possibility of warp was still far off, judging by the tone in Joe Carey's voice when he commed the Bridge to tell them that if Voyager needed to crawl away suddenly, she probably could.

Janeway didn't even seem to acknowledge that abandoning the Maquis was an option. She still wanted to punish them, he guessed. She hadn't questioned him any further on his limited knowledge of Sam Wildman's reasons for fleeing, although he thought of exactly what to say if she did. Naomi Wildman had tipped him off, completely accidentally and her mother had absolutely flipped when he'd implied she'd had prior knowledge, but hadn't given any hint she was going to run away. Of course, in hindsight, when he'd given her the two choices of telling Janeway or telling her himself, he probably should have considered that the third unspoken choice was to leave the ship and avoid being culpable even if he told on her.

Harry was pulled back to reality as his console chirped.

The Pelorans weren't responding to the hail, but had sent a text transmission of a short message.

He alerted Janeway of this development, but was rather hesitant to read it.

The Pelorans were remarkably concise and direct with communicating their power and everything that they subsequently did, and consequently came off somewhat obnoxious.

He could have interpreted it using language that was much less contemptuous, but read it off as ordered.

"In the interest of productive relations, it is necessary that no participant holds hostage members of the others involved, for the risk of further hostility and deceptive representation for fear of repercussions unto the prisoners," Harry read.

"*Hostages*," Janeway echoed, incredulously.

"That is most likely Chakotay's terminology," explained Tuvok.

This information did not soften the Captain's reaction.

"The Maquis requested it," she muttered to herself. She sat up straighter, shoulders leveling sharply.

"Mr. Kim," she said loudly, "If they won't listen to us, we'll do it the old-fashioned way. Compose this response, please."

Harry opened a transmission file and waited.

"In the interest of the safety and peace of the Delta Quadrant," Janeway hissed, "it is necessary that no violent, unrepentant terrorists be allowed to escape confinement, for the risk of imminent violence and brutality that is exactly characteristic of the Maquis against anyone and everyone."

It was probably a good thing that the Pelorans were refusing audio communication, Harry thought as he converted the Captain's statement into text, for the tone in her voice would win her no friends among the Pelorans. Neither would the very nature of her sneering message, but at least it came off milder when read.

He sent the transmission, not particularly expecting a response.

The Pelorans were silent for a bit, during which Voyager's sensors detected the occupants of the four shuttlecraft being beamed to presumably the same location within the border ship.

Then, Voyager received a short message.

"They say we can have our shuttles back if we want them," Harry reported.

"Kind of them," Janeway growled softly. "Is the tractor beam operable?"

"Yes," Harry responded instantly.

He immediately felt exposed and relatively stupid for not having even pretended to check. Of course the tractor beam was operable; it had been resting comfortably in dormant mode ever since Harry had turned it off, at Tom's request. Well, maybe it was all for the best. Staying dormant had protected it from being fried along with most of the other systems from the explosion and its side effects.

Of course, the explosion might not have happened at all if Voyager had been able to snatch the shuttle back with the tractor beam, without firing once.

Harry's guilt and fear of being found out were all inside his head, apparently, because Janeway calmly ordered the retrieval of the shuttle craft, not even glancing back at Harry's station.

Then there was yet another lengthy wait, during which the Pelorans were completely silent, not even bothering to inform Voyager why or for what they were waiting this time.

It was briefly mentioned that perhaps the Pelorans were experiencing the danger of the Maquis up close and personal upon beaming them somewhere inside the Border Ship, but that was probably just wishful thinking.

It was much more likely, however displeasing, that Chakotay and the Maquis were lying to and manipulating the Pelorans into doing something to benefit the Maquis. Charming and deceptive, the Maquis could certainly be, everyone on Voyager knew that.

And if the Maquis were exploiting the Peloran's desire for a 'resolution' it certainly felt like they had an eternity to do it in.

Finally, the Pelorans contacted Voyager again. They apparently had decided to ignore the Captain's biting response to the extraction of the Maquis, for the only content of their message was a very large data file containing the rules and regulations for the hearing.

Janeway requested the document be transferred to her ready room, and soon after she and Tuvok disappeared inside.

Harry, ever obedient-at least at the moment- did not read the document although he was very curious. The size of the file was tremendous, the list of rules had to be long and complicated.

And so, Harry feared, would be the trial.

Part 37 | Index page