Part 37

Although the Pelorans had seemed in quite a hurry to move the Maquis off Voyager and the shuttlecraft, respectively, there did not seem to be the same urgency now that they had been transported to their current surroundings.

This did allow Chakotay some time to set down guidelines for his Maquis.

There was really only on rule, but it was the one every single one of the might break.

Be gentle, evoke empathy, and act victimized.

Most of his Maquis lacked the skills to behave like this.

He phrased it slightly differently, in the hopes of better success.

Stay calm, be unthreatening, and act respectful.

He feared his Maquis' abilities to do any of those, too.

It didn't help that he couldn't explicitly explain it either, out of fear that this new location was monitored and it would appear that he was manufacturing some cunning deception.

He was, in a way.

He delivered an impromptu speech on the gratitude the Maquis should have for the Pelorans, never directly stating his orders that they, at all costs, be civil and non-confrontational towards their as of yet unseen hosts.

Yes, hosts. Definitely not 'captors' as he'd heard someone call them.

Although he could definitely understand why some of the Maquis would substitute one word for the other, especially those had just been transferred from Voyager's brig. To them, it might seem as if they had exchanged their surroundings for a bigger cell with no obvious entrances or guards.

The fact that they were, or appeared to be, completely alone, did enable an extensive search of the large room. It was done as inconspicuously as possible, although any observers might have thought it odd that certain groups of people felt the need to stroll around the limits, stopping occasionally to touch or lean against the walls as if exhausted by walking a few meters.

They found nothing.

Nothing and no one.

The relief that came from having most of their people off Voyager-although apparently some remained in Sickbay-was nothing compared to the nervousness of wondering if in the silence Janeway was convincing the Pelorans that she was competent and the Maquis allegations were insignificant.

They had no way of knowing what was occurring, only that for the moment, the Maquis were not involved.

Until, out of impatience-and partial approval from Chakotay considering he didn't do anything except look at little wary- B'Elanna became a little destructive.

She whipped a metal blade out of the waistband of her non-Starfleet regulation pants, which of course hid weapons and anything else one wanted to conceal better than the Starfleet uniform did. When or why B'Elanna had be allowed to change, Chakotay didn't know, though he wondered why the Pelorans hadn't separated her from the weapon as they had everyone else.

She briefly looked at Chakotay, keeping her hand with the blade pressed discreetly against her leg. He didn't give her a response, which he supposed was the equivalent of giving permission. B'Elanna sidled over to the wall, drew her arm surreptitiously back and angled the tip of the blade towards what looked like a seam in the wall.

Either it was case of terrifically awful timing, or the Pelorans were indeed keeping an eye on their guests.

The so-called seam in the wall suddenly became a space inching wider and wider as it rather rapidly became an opening door.

The blade disappeared back into B'Elanna's waistband. Her expression became one of complete innocence and she backed quickly away from the increasing gap. Chakotay cleared his throat and with a gesture of his hand and tilt of his head swiftly brought total silence to the room and all eyes to focus on the door.

An unfamiliar Peloran strode alone through the door, which clicked shut behind him. He surveyed the silent room for a moment, and Chakotay was glad to see that his Maquis had for the most part successfully adapted expressions of placidity mixed with curiosity or at least close facsimiles.

The Peloran stopped his observation and turned on his heel, eyes towards Chakotay.

"Chakotay of the Maquis," he addressed, questioningly.

"Yes," Chakotay responded, careful to include respect but also a bit of his own authority in his tone.

"I am Aris of the Pelorans. I have been appointed to represent the interests of the Maquis in the upcoming hearing for a resolution."

Chakotay hadn't noticed it before, but Aris removed a device that honestly resembled a PADD from his belt and proffered it to Chakotay.

"The rules and regulations for the proceedings," he explained. "It closely resembles your own judicial process, so I don't believe you will have any objections."

At Chakotay's look of confusion, Aris continued, "We scanned the databases of your shuttles for basic information on your culture."

Chakotay nodded.

"There will in fact be three separate hearings, only one of which directly involves the Maquis, but it should be known that the content of and the information learned in the two prior cases may influence your own hearing," Aris droned. "I recommend you or another representative of Maquis attend them. I will be at all three as the Maquis representative but I cannot participate for I was not involved in the incident."

Aris seemed quite used to delivering this message.

"What is the purpose of three trials?" asked Chakotay, already scanning the incredibly lengthy list of rules.

"To determine the custody of a Thomas Paris, the custody of a Samantha and Naomi Wildman, and of course to develop a resolution in custodial matters of the Maquis and Voyager."

"Custody of us?" questioned B'Elanna, darkly.

Chakotay sent her a warning look.

Aris nodded.

"We did not interpret a mutual resolution to mean deciding to place the Maquis in anyone's custody," Chakotay elaborated.

"Placing the Maquis in Voyager's custody in only one possible resolution," explained Aris. "It will be made clear at the hearing that such a result is not your desire. Although I understand it to be Voyager's intent."

Chakotay watched the faces of his Maquis darken with repressed anger.

"Do you wish to proclaim intent for custody of the other three involved?" asked Aris, oblivious to the Maquis response to the mention of Voyager's intent. He took another PADD-like object and preparing to record Chakotay's response.

"Of Thomas Paris?"

"No," Chakotay almost snorted. "Absolutely not."

"Of Samantha and Naomi Wildman?"

Chakotay glanced at Dalby, who suddenly looked very worn down.

"Has she requested to join the Maquis?" Chakotay asked, keeping his eyes on Dalby.

"I haven't spoken with her representative, but I believe in her statement she distanced herself from the Maquis and from Voyager," Aris replied.

Chakotay swept a glance over everyone, and with the exception of Dalby and the scowl on B'Elanna's face, there didn't seem to be any particular response to the mention of Wildman.

"If she wishes to join us, we have no objections," he decided. "There's no need to force her."

"I know Voyager has requested her forcible return," Aris offered, folding away his little device.

"If you have any questions regarding the regulations, I will be available to answer them," Aris began to conclude. "I am in the process of arranging accommodations less basic than these, based upon information from your shuttle craft computers. You came here so quickly I had not yet finished."

"We had no say in how quickly we came here," Chakotay broached the subject of the Pelorans' inconsiderate behavior.

"It is standard procedure to separate the parties involved in a dispute that has come under Peloran concern as quickly as possible, before anything else is done," replied the representative in what might have been an apology.

"Do you frequently become involved in foreign disputes?"

"As the most stable government in this region of space, we are often impeded by the feuds of our neighbors, although usually smaller and less complicated than the one involving yourselves and Voyager," Aris answered. "It is Peloran policy to avoid foreign disputes if possible."

"We had no intention of becoming involved but you had already entered our space under deceptive fronts," he said, almost tiredly.

"We had no intention of involving you," retorted Chakotay. "Hence our deceptive fronts."

Aris smiled a little for the first time, and the ridge on his face moved up a bit.

"I will finish those arrangements," he said, moving to exit.

"More waiting," Chakotay heard Henley mutter after Aris was gone.

Chakotay handed off the device containing the rules document to her, indicating that she should read the lengthy thing and report on its content since she had such a hard time waiting.

"At least now we know what's going to happen," remarked B'Elanna, moving to stand beside Chakotay.

"Do we?" he asked.

Part 38 | Index page