Lines in the Sand: Night, part IV

By Seema

How did I get along with the others? That's an interesting question. At the beginning, it was Janeway and Tuvok versus B'Elanna and me. Harry and Tom, they were usually together. What a pair those two were - one utterly clueless and the other hardened beyond his years.

I envied the trust Janeway had - has - in Tuvok. There were times when she confided in him and I wanted her to talk to me instead; after all, I was her first officer.

Even after we became lovers, there were times when we clashed and she would go to Tuvok; he could make the same recommendation as me but she would give him more weight. The fact that she sometimes relied on Tuvok more than me made me furious.

I was always aware of the differences in the way Janeway viewed me, but it came to a forefront when we made that alliance with the Kazon. Call us crazy, but we were out of our minds at that time, concentrating on survival. The Prime Directive is all well and good, but we Maquis, we didn't choose to die for the Prime Directive; that's Starfleet's imperative. So that's why I pushed Ka- Captain Janeway - to make the alliance and in typical Janeway fashion, she didn't listen to me.

My reasoning was very simple; we had spent several weeks being pounded by the Kazon mercilessly. Three people - including my friend Bendera - had died in the attacks and the Doctor and Kes were already working around the clock monitoring those who weren't lucky enough to die the first time the Kazon attacked us. And I told Janeway then that this was like being in the Maquis, that I had been a good Starfleet officer, but it was time to try something new. And I hinted that maybe it was time to take a Maquis-approach to the situation.

I might as well have been talking to a brick wall.

The Captain's mind was already made up and dammit, she was going to stick to Starfleet protocol, even if it meant we were going to perish out in the Delta Quadrant.

I didn't realize how important the Prime Directive was to Kathryn Janeway until Bendera's memorial service. After we dissipated, I witnessed Hogan and Jonas talking to Janeway and while I did not hear Hogan's question, I did hear the Captain's response. She said, very clearly, "I'll destroy this ship before I let any of its technology fall into Kazon hands."

And then, as she was walking out of the room, she turned to me and said, "How's that for the Maquis way, Commander?"

I tell you, honestly, that I hated her in that moment. Truly I did because much as I admired her principles and her loyalty to the Starfleet establishment, I couldn't see how a guiding directive could possibly help us in a quadrant where death seemed to lurk in nebulas and star systems.

And I took that moment to try and make her understand. After almost two years in the Delta Quadrant, how could she not understand the very real fear paralyzing the crew? How could she not understand the repugnance of following the orders of an establishment that was seventy-five thousand light years away?

She asked me if I agreed with the Hogan's suggestion about giving technology to the Kazon and of course I said no. And I honestly believed that while Hogan's thoughts reflected those of the crew, his suggestion was not the best way for Voyager.

And that's when I plowed forward and told her exactly what I was thinking, what her crew was thinking.

"But you have to realize that the Starfleet protocols you've locked onto are ideals many of the Maquis resent the hell out of. Your principles aren't necessarily theirs. Can we find something in between we can all find satisfactory?" I asked.

The coldness in her eyes scared me and I had a vision of being immediately chucked out of the nearest airlock; well, suffocating in space was surely quicker and less painful than knowing that we were a sitting target for the Kazon.

"You have a suggestion? Make it," she snapped at me.

"Make an alliance," I said. And then I got her, reminding her of all of the promises she had made to us in the past, the promises to get us home. You can't send a ship of bodies back to the Alpha Quadrant. And I asked her, straight-out, "Are you really making your decisions with the best interests of the crew at heart?"

And she just stared at me for a moment and I could tell she was trying to counter my words with something more powerful and pull out some obscure Starfleet rule that would allow her to make such cavalier decisions.

"I'm going to talk to Tuvok," she said flatly.

"Fine," I shot back,.

It was then I realized how little she trusted me and how much more she depended on Tuvok. I don't know what happened in their conversation, only that they had one, but when she came out, she was amiable to the alliance, but only because Tuvok had talked her into it.

I think it was Harry who made the comment about trying to find Seska and the whole idea of seeing her and remembering her - it was repulsive to me, but B'Elanna and Tom thought it was a good idea and apparently it
sounded like Janeway thought so also.

She even said as much to me, mockingly.

"You can't have it halfway, Commander. If you play with the pigs, you can't complain about getting dirty," she said.

The remark rankled at me and sometimes, when we would argue about we needed to be done in a situation, I would remember this, our aborted alliance with the Kazon and how much work it took to get us there.

And so, yes, the path to Janeway's confidence, it took a while. It wasn't easy and we clashed many times, more times than I can possibly count. And underlying every single on of those arguments was her overwhelming distaste for anything Maquis, anything which did not fall into a Starfleet protocol book.

I do have to say, in her defense, she did what she thought was right for the crew. Her heart was in the right place even if her head was not.


It has only been a couple days, but it feels like forever since I last saw Chakotay and Torres. In the harsh light of the interrogation room, they both look wane, their skin slightly tinged with yellow. Both of them are dressed in civilian clothes, circa 2371 - the year we vanished into the Delta Quadrant.

"I want to talk to them," I hiss to McArthur. He holds up one finger.

"You have a minute," and from the tone of his voice, I know he means sixty seconds exactly. I cross the room, hoping desperately that I can bridge the distance between us. I only look back once when I notice B'Elanna's eyes widened and then her expression crumple; security guards hold Tom back.

"Are you okay?" I whisper to Chakotay, not willing to give McArthur and the others the pleasure of hearing my conversation with the man I still consider my first officer and best friend.

"Tired," he says in an equally low voice. He nudges B'Elanna and she reluctantly turns to look at me.

"Are they treating you well?" I ask.

"Standard Starfleet brig," Chakotay says. "Bad food, uncomfortable bed, noisy. Feels like the Academy in a way."

"Only no homework," B'Elanna says in monotone, her eyes still fixed on Tom. "I want to talk to him, Captain. Can you...?"

"I'll do what I can."

B'Elanna grabs at my sleeve, "They want to know everything, Captain."

"You can be honest," I assure them both.

Chakotay tips his head slightly, "Kathryn, no."

"I don't regret any of it," I tell him. "You don't need to worry about me. Do what you have to do to get out of here."

"Compromise our principles. Is that what you're saying?"

"If you have to, yes."

"You're advocating lying," Chakotay points out. Our eyes meet and I want to, in front of all of these people, reach out and touch his cheek. I want to trail my fingers down the sharp angle of his chin, down his neck, and trace a line of kisses along the lines of his clavicle bone. I settle instead for a pat on his shoulder and a swift clutch at B'Elanna's hand.

"Captain," McArthur's voice is sharp and crisp behind me. I sigh, feeling unbelievably tired by these games. No doubt Chakotay and B'Elanna feel the same.

"We will begin the questioning in one minute," McArthur says quietly. "Now, we know about the Equinox from your logs, but I understand that there was some... dissension between you and your first officer."

"He was only doing his job," I lash out. "He was only doing what he thought was best for me, for Voyager."

"Yet you confined him to quarters. Did you not trust him, Kathryn?"

"No, it wasn't that, not at all," I answer. "He was..."

"He was what, Kathryn?"

I stare back into those steely blue eyes, searching for the man who had taught me, albeit badly, to play dom jott. There is no trace of him to be seen in the stern lines crossing his brow. It is obvious that the war years treated Rodney McArthur badly, but I do not understand his animosity towards the Maquis.

"He was... right," I say forcefully. "I was afraid of that. Afraid that everyone would see what a terrible mistake I was making and the he was right."

McArthur points out a steel-backed chair, sans cushions, very similar to the ones Chakotay and Torres are occupying.

"You have always had a soft spot for the downtrodden, Kathryn," he says. "Your kindness is also your greatest fallacy; you are unable to see the truth even if it masquerades in the guise of true evil."

I want to speak more, but I see Tuvok, his index finger against his lip, and I notice that Tom is no longer in the room.

"Where is Lieutenant Paris?" I cannot help but ask.

"He has been removed," McArthur says. "I do not know what kind of ship you ran, Kathryn, but I assure you, disrespect for a senior officer is not to be tolerated at any level."

I look back at Chakotay, see him run a comforting hand over B'Elanna's back.

"He loves her," I tell McArthur.

McArthur gazes at me, a sudden mixture of pity and contempt swirling in those blue eyes.

"That is a pity," McArthur says quietly.


It's odd to talk about the Equinox; most of the time, the Captain and I would sidestep what happened during that time, mostly because it was too painful to discuss for so many reasons. I really think, in some ways, it was a turning point for Kathryn and I.

For the most of our journey, I agreed with her. I clashed with her on the Kazon alliance because I thought she was wrong, applying her morality in a place where it did not belong; Kathryn is nothing if not highly principled.

This... this was different. This was personal. She was going after Ransom with a vengeance that frightened me greatly; my feelings for Kathryn aside, I felt she was putting Voyager in a position of greater danger - sacrificing us to salve her own aching sense of right and wrong.

Most of what happened, you have in her logs. I tried to keep mine brief, but she was amazingly honest in hers. What happened with Noah Lessing, about that risk she took, almost killing the man, that really did happen.
I remember, standing there, pleading with her to acknowledge the man's loyalty to Ransom and she still bludgeoned on, seemingly unaware of the fissure threatening to suck us all out into space.

When we talked about what happened later, in calmly modulated voices overlying the fury we both were feeling, my heart was pounding so hard, I swear, I thought it was going to jump right out of my ribcage. And it honestly took all of my courage to speak with her that afternoon. Can you believe it? I led raids on Cardassian outposts without blinking and yet I found it difficult to talk to Kathryn Janeway that day without feeling that lump growing thicker in my throat.

"You almost killed that man today," I began.

"It was a calculated risk and I took it."

"It was a bad call," and I stood there, unable to believe even my own audacity.

"I'll note your objection in my log."

"I don't give a damn about your log! This isn't about rules and regulations. It's about right and wrong. And I'm
warning you - I won't let you cross that line again."

I don't know what I was thinking, but I was her first officer and I had a job to do. I wondered, in the silence hanging between us, did I go too far? Or wasn't it the job of every first officer to challenge the Captain if she did something he felt was out-of-line?

But I knew when she opened her mouth, that I had made the wrong decision, had contradicted her one too many times.

"Then you leave me no choice. You are hereby relieved of duty until further notice."

The coldness in her voice startled me. Was this the same woman who had been lying next to me only three nights previously? I saw nothing of the Kathryn I knew in the woman standing in front of me. All those qualities I admired in her - her stubborn streak, her integrity, her staunch principles, and her fidelity - had manifested themselves into something. insane.

So I tried one more time, hoping to appeal to some part of her that still remembered what it was like to care.

"What's happened to you, Kathryn?"

And then she truly wounded me.

"I was about to ask you the same question," Janeway responded.

When you are relieved of duty, it's too painful and humiliating to face the rest of the crew; so, in general, you spend it quarters, drinking coffee and thinking.

I'll be honest - Kathryn frightened me. Her desire, her drive, to be bring Ransom to justice reminded me of
Javier from the classic Terran novel "Les Miserables."

The significance hit me as I lay in bed, eyes focused on the ceiling. He was a Starfleet captain, crippled by his circumstances, and forced by desperation into forsaking all that Starfleet held dear. And I wondered if in Ransom, Janeway saw a portent of the future, a devastating picture of what Voyager could become if we didn't get out of here soon.

And even with that reasoning, I still could not forgive her.

Later Tuvok told me that Janeway had offered up the Equinox to the Ankari if they would stop their attacks on Voyager. And despite his admonishments, despite his warnings that they would kill Ransom and his crew, Janeway proceeded with the deal, her callousness matched only by her ruthlessness.

And I knew it then, knew both Tuvok and I were outclassed, outmatched.

You see, even though you consider me a criminal, I do have a sense of decency, a sense of what is right and wrong. I'm not saying that Kathryn doesn't; I truly believe that somewhere she thought she was doing the right thing - carrying out her duties as Starfleet dictated.

But I didn't like what happened to her and neither did Tuvok.

We had much to repair on Voyager; half of our systems were destroyed or malfunctioning and there were many injuries. But all of that was physical - we could repair injuries easily with a pass of the dermal regenerator and we could replicate more components to fix Voyager.

But I wasn't sure of Kathryn, wasn't sure that I could follow her blindly and put my trust in her as I once had.
I wondered if we would ever put things back together and I'll be honest, there were times when I saw her and remembered Lessing and what happened in the cargo bay. And then I would imagine her coldly offering up the Equinox crew in return for our lives.

The same fury would bubble up inside of me, though I bit back my words, hoping my anger would not spill out inappropriately.

And one night, when she stopped by my quarters to pick up a duty roster PADD she did ask me about it.
We stood there in my quarters, and she wouldn't look at me. Instead, she focused directly on the PADD, nodding.

"Looks good," she said. "Efficient."

"As soon as Ayala and Vorik are out of sickbay, I'll add them," I said. "It's a little thin in some areas right now."

"You got all the shifts covered to the minimum regulation," Janeway commented.

"I tried my best," I said. "I've got B'Elanna working back to back shifts, getting this ship back together after what the Ankari did to it."

She took a deep breath and looked at me, "I am sorry."

Her cheeks flushed pink and she raised her eyes to meet mine. I admire her courage for saying those three words; apologies do not come easy to Kathryn Janeway.

"That came out of nowhere," I told her.

"I've been thinking about it for days now," she said. "Thinking about what happened and I've been listening to my logs. It is. unforgivable. I should have listened to you, to Tuvok. Instead, instead, I was, I don't know what I was doing."

"You were doing what you believe was right," I told her. "But you were wrong."

"I know," Kathryn answered. "I replay every second over and over in my head and still, I don't understand. I followed protocols, Chakotay. I followed the rules. He was the one who violated everything Starfleet stands for.
How could I be so wrong?"

"You make the mistake of applying a set of rigid rules to every situation. Sometimes, you have to work outside of the boundaries," I told her gently. "Do you want to sit down?"

"I'm not staying."

We stared at each other. I took the chance, reached my fingers out and brushed her cheek.

"I know what you're afraid of," I said. "You're afraid of becoming like him."

"That won't happen, as long as Starfleet guides us."

"At some point, Starfleet was guiding him. We're a long way from home, Kathryn. It's easy to forget."

Kathryn bit down on her lip, nodding slowly.

"It's all right," I said. "You. I've told you before. Sometimes you have to relax, Kathryn. It's not always black and white - there is gray."

"This is my ship," she said in that firm voice, putting me directly in my place. "I want you to remember that."

Our gazes met and I thought for a moment that she would soften; I was wrong. Her eyes were hard, cold and brittle and involuntarily, I shuddered.

"I remember it," I said. "Daily."

And again, that silence. She turned, headed for the door, and then I called out after her, "Kathryn... what happened with Ransom? That wasn't the Maquis way."

She turned, only for a second, our eyes meeting, and the light caught an unfamiliar glitter in her eyes. She shrugged and disappeared into the corridor.

I sat down and covered my face with my hands. And I'm not ashamed to admit it, but I cried that night.


I listen to Chakotay's carefully modulated voice, my stomach churning as he speaks. His eyes are focused straight ahead and he doesn't even look at me. And afterward, they lead B'Elanna and Chakotay out, leaving me with McArthur.

"What are you going to do with them?" I ask.

"If they are found guilty, they will be sent to Alonius Prime," McArthur says.

"A border colony," I say. "Why not Earth? Why Alonius Prime?"

"It seems fitting," McArthur says. "Alonius played host to the Maquis countless times; it was a staging ground for many of their raids. It seems only natural we should send the Maquis survivors back there."

"How many survivors? I understood the Maquis were completely destroyed?"

"I would say less than two dozen remain," McArthur says. "With the Maquis on your ship, it brings the count
nearly to fifty."

"Out of hundreds," I murmur.

"You've grown soft, Kathryn."

"Not soft," I snap back. "These people - these Maquis whom you so cavalierly dismiss - they served on my crew. Doesn't that count for anything at all?"

"There is no statute of limitations on their crimes," McArthur leans forward, taking my chin in his fingers. I jerk away.

"No concession for time served or good behavior?"

"We don't do things that way. You know that."

"Well, why not? It seems ridiculous to me that the contributions that these people have made to Voyager and to the overall Starfleet mission mean nothing to you."

"You don't understand. The list of their crimes, especially those against Chakotay, is quite long. Trespassing, robbery, assault, manslaughter, vandalism, mutiny. I could go on, Kathryn, but must I? If we let these people go, then we are sending a message to other terrorists that this type of behavior is allowed, even condoned, and then we would have anarchy on our hands. We must draw a line in the sand, Kathryn. We cannot tolerate this kind of behavior, no matter what has happened in the time between the actual crime and the apprehension of the criminal."

I shake my head.

"I do not believe you," I tell him. "I can't believe you would be so uncaring. These people lost everything when the Federation and Cardassia created the DMZ. Wouldn't you fight too?"

"Your Commander Chakotay said the same thing earlier," McArthur smiles. "He had such potential in Starfleet; command suits him."

"You didn't answer my question, Admiral."

The sharpness in my voice startles my old mentor.

"Wouldn't you fight also?" I ask. "If your places were reversed."

"I would not resort to murder," he shoots back. "There is no need to glamorize the Maquis movement, Kathryn. They are murderers, plain and simple, and they deserve to go to prison for their crimes."

"So you have already made your judgment?" I ask. "You have already decided that they are guilty? So this investigation of yours, this questioning. it's all a farce?"

"You know we strive to be fair."

"I know what the Federation strives for. What do you want out of this? It's not like you to be vindictive, Admiral."


"I want an answer. Is this another Star Chamber? Try in secrecy and then, when no one is looking, you execute them or imprison them without interference? That is not how we do things, Admiral. At least not in the Starfleet I remember and certainly, not the way the Federation courts run."

"You are overreacting. Chakotay mentioned that you tend to take matters a bit personally."

"You're damn right I'm taking this personally! This is my crew you're talking about! You won't even listen to what
they have contributed to Voyager. We would not have survived without them!"

We stand there, inches apart, nostrils flared. I am breathing unevenly, nearly exhausted by my tirade.

"I have nothing more to say," I tell him. "But believe me, by the time I get back to San Francisco -"

"You're not going back to San Francisco," he says. "I was going to tell you."

"What?" the possibility of not seeing home distresses me. To see San Francisco, to walk in Starfleet's headquarters, to talk to Boothby - these are the things I have been looking forward to ever since we learned that the Alpha Quadrant was within our reach.

"You will be reassigned," McArthur says. "The Dauntless. You will serve as Captain. It is a deep space mission. It could take anywhere from two to five years to complete."


"It's the perfect mission for you, Kathryn. There are some spatial phenomenon in the Cateris system and it's relatively unmapped," he goes on genially.

"What about Voyager?"

"It's an old ship, and out of regulation also-"

"It got us home."

"I understand you have some feeling about that ship, but keep in mind - it is Starfleet's ship, not yours."

"You're sending me away," I say. "You don't want me to interfere, do you?"

"It's a great career move, Kathryn. You have potential. Your seven years in the Delta Quadrant ill-served you. You should be making up for lost time; we recognize that fact. I will have a full crew roster for you in a few days and then you will go to Deep Space Nine to meet up with the Dauntless."
Deep Space Nine. I bite my lip back. Where Voyager's mission began.

"Can I consider this... offer?" I ask.

"Of course," McArthur smiles broadly.

"And if I don't choose to captain the Dauntless?"

"Well, it would be a misfortune, of course, but we would understand. It may be a while before another posting would become available."

"I would be willing to wait. I've been thinking about going to Indiana, spending some time in Bloomington, on the farm. It would be nice to have a break."

"You're not understanding me, Kathryn. Simply put, if you want to captain another starship, you should take this opportunity now."

"I don't mind," I tell him again.

His eyes harden, "Kathryn, you know I care about you and I will be honest. There have been some question about your actions in the Delta Quadrant."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Mr. Chakotay has mentioned an incident or two that we find slightly suspicious," he continues. "Perhaps your alliance with the Kazon bears further investigation."

"I have been straight forward about everything that has happened. There is no reason to question Commander Chakotay about those incidents. I'll tell you everything you need to know.

"There are sufficient instances where you violated the Prime Directive," McArthur says. "I pushed for you, Kathryn, and I made some enemies, but I didn't want your career to be ruined. This is a good opportunity for you. Take it."

"You want me out of the way."

"I didn't say that."

"You don't have to."

"There are plenty of up-and-coming officers who have not been lost in the Delta Quadrant nor have they violated the Prime Directive. The decision is yours, Kathryn."

We stare at each other and his expression is properly contrite.

"So what you're proposing is my own command in return for my silence over the fate of the Maquis?" I ask

"I do not care for the way you summarize my offer," McArthur's upper lip curls in distaste. "But since we understand each other, I think you have caught the essence perfectly. You will let me know, won't you?"
I nod slowly. I watch my old mentor gather up his PADDs in silence. He seems uncomfortable with my presence, but I continue to watch him. A second later, his com badge beeps.

"Gilles to McArthur."

"Go ahead, Ensign."

"Admiral Paris has arrived."

"Thank you. McArthur out."

McArthur turns to me.

"I won't be able to join you and the Admiral for dinner, Kathryn; something has come up. But I will see you to his quarters."

And I hear the iron beneath this last sentence; it's a command, not an invitation - I will see Admiral Paris for
dinner regardless of my own wishes - and I will go nowhere else except to the Admiral's quarters.

And without really thinking, I ask McArthur the same question Chakotay asked me so long ago, "What has happened to you, Admiral?"

He looks at me, unblinking and unflinching.

"Ask me when this is over, Katie," he says. "Ask me then."


Every battle has faded into a distant memory. Some lasted just minutes and others lasted for days, weeks, months. But in reality, one battle is very much like another and it's hard to differentiate what happened where and when or why. The orders come automatically.

"Red alert!"

"Fire at will!"

"Shields at maximum!"

"Evasive maneuvers!"

Sometimes it was farcical. What? The Kazon again? Didn't we just fight them last week? Or maybe for a chance of pace, we trade shots with the Krenim. After a while, it just didn't matter. You really didn't even know what you were fighting for anymore, only hoping that the phaser banks were full and ready to go.

After a while, you don't even hear the red alert klaxon anymore; it's a part of daily life. You get used to life support going off-line or the bulkheads being blown away. The shields never cooperated, no matter how often B'Elanna tried to coax every last bit of energy into them. There were constant ruptures on the decks and the inertial dampers were often off-line. The constant pounding was enough to drive even the most stable of individuals crazy.

And somehow we managed to hold it together. Held Voyager together, held each other together.

The hardest was the Hirogen.

The battle was over even before it began; they targeted our shields, pummeled us with their superior fire power and then those scaly reptilian aliens were on our ship. I was not on the Bridge when they beamed on, but in
Engineering, working with B'Elanna and the others to get the weapons back on line.

"This isn't working!" B'Elanna yelled at Carey. "Try again. This time, adjust the modulation frequency by point two microns. And hurry! We don't have time!"

The words weren't even out of her mouth when the doors slid open and the Hirogen hunters arrived, pushing Paris and Janeway in front of them. Tom had an ugly bruise across his cheek and the Captain's hair was mussed, but otherwise she was unhurt.

"Put your weapon down, Chakotay," Janeway ordered as one of the Hirogen grabbed B'Elanna away from the console.

"Hey!" B'Elanna screamed, giving the Hirogen one of her best right hooks. The Hirogen snarled and fired his phaser; B'Elanna crumpled and we all stared at her prone body in shock.

"That was not necessary," Janeway said angrily as Tom struggled with his captor, earning a punch to the face.

By now, the Hirogen had all congregated in Engineering, and I noted the arrivals of Tuvok and Harry. Tuvok looked fine, but Harry's nose was bleeding and I could make out some puffiness around his left eye. He noted B'Elanna's still body with some shock, but no sounds came from his slightly parted his lips.

"It doesn't have to be this way," Janeway tried again. "We can work something out. Just tell us what you need."

They ignored her.

"Get the Doctor," one of the Hirogen ordered. "And start the gas."

Those words, they were the last I remember before I woke up in the World War II simulation.

These holodeck simulations - from brutal inquisitions to major world battles to primitive hunts - went on for weeks, but I don't remember any of it. I wish I could remember. God, I wish I could.

All I knew is that I hurt. Every joint in my body, every muscle, every nerve - parts of my body I didn't even know I

And I hated - this was what was the worst of it all - I hated being that helpless.

Harry, Seven and the Doctor were primarily responsible for helping us get free; somehow Harry managed to jury-rig Seven's cortical implant to jog her memory, to free her of the Hirogen's control. Then Ka -  Janeway - she took on the Hirogen, hobbling around her ship on a wounded leg, and managed to get them to surrender.

She did go back on the Prime Directive that one time and you're going to have to forgive her for that.
Janeway gave them the holodeck technology.

She did it to save us.

The Hirogen are hunters. They need prey. Without prey, their culture is destroyed, their reason for being gone.

The holodeck gave them a new way of preserving their culture without actually killing.

When I asked Kathryn about it later, she simply shrugged.

"What was I supposed to do?" she asked. "Let them have my ship?"

"I never thought you'd share technology with them. You wouldn't with the Kazon."

"This was different."

"How so?"

"They were simply trying to preserve a way of life," Janeway said.

"You violated the Prime Directive."

"I'll take it up with Starfleet when we get back."

I smiled at her.

"Don't look now, Kathryn, but you're changing."

"Changing?" her eyes narrowed.

"You did something that we in the Maquis would have done."

I remember her smile then as she reached forward and patted my shoulder in a gesture of solidarity.

"We do bring out the best in each other, don't we?" she asked.

"Sometimes," I said. "I think you made the right decision here."

"I'm glad I have your support. It's hard to command a ship and know you don't have your first officer's support."

"You always have it," I said sincerely. "Except when I think you're making a mistake."

"So this deal, it wasn't a mistake?"

I shrugged.

"It's done now, right? We'll have to wait and see."

Janeway nodded, leaned back in her chair, and tapped her fingers on the desk.

"Do you ever wonder what's out there for us, Chakotay?"

"I'm afraid to ask."

"I'm fascinated," she said. "But at the same time, I want to get home alive. We've already lost too many people,

"So you're going to do what it takes?" I asked, trying to read between the lines.

"I've made a promise," she said. "Some days, it's hard to get out of bed and know that I'm letting nearly 150 people down each day we're out here."

"No one blames you and no one holds it against you."

"That doesn't change my resolve. We're getting home, Chakotay."

"I'm glad to hear it."

"The ship's taken a lot of damage. I don't know how much longer B'Elanna can hold her together. I'm damn tired of hearing the reports."

"As am I."

Janeway leaned forward again so that our faces were barely inches apart.

"I don't want to go through something like this again," she said. "We spent weeks acting out different battle simulations, getting killed over and over again, and what did we gain from it? Nothing, nothing at all. Just some scars that we cannot recall how we got."

"So you're damning the Prime Directive?"

"Don't misunderstand me, Chakotay. The Prime Directive is our guiding principle. Voyager is still a Starfleet ship."


"I'm prepared to be flexible," her lips curved up. "If you have a better way, Chakotay, you have to tell me. I promise I won't turn away and I promise to listen. I think we've had enough. Don't you?"
I only had to look at the phaser burns on walls, evaluate the wounded in sickbay and note the damage to the port nacelles to answer that question.

"Yes," I said. "I've had enough."


Admiral Paris is thinner than I remember; more lines cross his weathered face than I care to see. Yet he is warm and affectionate as I enter his quarters.

"I'm just getting settled," he says. "It's a long trip, you know. And I'm not young anymore."

"Don't say that. You look wonderful."

"Thank you. Have a seat, Kathryn. Something to drink? I brought up a Chardonnay from Napa. I remember you liking that."

"I do, thanks."

"It's been a great year for the wines," he says conversationally. He pours the wine and hands me a goblet. I take a moment to look around. Quarters at Starbase 87, even for an Admiral, are sparse. The carpet is gray with a maroon pattern woven into it. Furnishings are old and worn and there are no amenities, no artwork and certainly no luxuries.

"That's good to hear," I tell him.

"It's good to have you back, Kathryn. Wasn't ever sure you'd make it back. So many obstacles, so many things that could go wrong."

"Yes," I sip my wine. "This is wonderful, Admiral."

Paris sits in front of me.

"How is Tom, Kathryn?"

"He is good, sir," I answer. "He did some magnificent flying out in the Delta Quadrant. Got us out of a sticky situation more than once."

"I'm glad to hear of it. I wasn't sure that he'd become anything. apparently he has turned himself around," Paris' eyes are shining; I have no doubt he is genuinely proud of his son. "You only want the best for your children, Kathryn. You want them to succeed and you want them to be proud of their accomplishments. Somehow, Tom and I never saw eye to eye on that. I made some mistakes with him and God knows, he did his best to push the rules. But even when I was most upset with him, I still loved him and I was always, always proud of him."

"Even after Caldik Prime?" I ask without thinking. Paris meets my gaze head on.

"That... was an unusual circumstance," he says. "Tom went too far. Even then, it's hard for any parent to feel anything less than dismay. I said some things I probably shouldn't have and I pulled away when my boy needed me the most. I do regret that. Don't think I don't. I wondered what I had done wrong, why he couldn't be more like me and then, while he was gone, I realized that it was probably wrong of me to expect a mirror image of myself."

"You would be proud of him," I say sincerely. I am touched by Owen Paris' words. In general, he is not a person given to verbosity and where Tom is adventurous and open, the father is more private, more closed-off.

"I have ordered dinner," Paris says. "Traditional Bajoran. I hope that is all right with you."

"Sounds marvelous."

Paris leans back against his chair, "You look well, Kathryn. A bit tired, but on the whole, you look well."

I feel the blush rising in my cheek, "Thank you, sir."

"I knew you'd bring them home. If there was one thing I was certain of, it was that you would bring Voyager home."

"I never had any other intentions, sir. There were times when I thought we would have to settle on some planet, but always, I had my mind set on home."

"So Chakotay is telling us."

I lean forward, "Please tell me about what's going on. I talked to Admiral McArthur and I'm disappointed in the proceedings."

"There are some, Kathryn, who cannot forget the betrayals of the Maquis. Chakotay is the biggest fish they have been able to get their hands on. They couldn't get Eddington, so now they have Chakotay."

"I don't understand what's going on. It's not even a trial, yet they have already made up their minds on a verdict?"

"Their minds were made up the day you went after the Maquis raider," Paris says gently. "Wasn't yours? Did you believe they were guilty?"

"Yes, at first, but then I got to know them."

"But you still thought some of their methods were wrong?"

"Yes," I answer. I remember all of the times when Chakotay would propose the "Maquis Way" as a solution to a problem and how distasteful I would find the suggestion. "But I never thought condemning them en masse to Alonius Prime would be the answer."

"It is a token gesture," Paris says. "I think."

"You think?" I raise my voice slightly but before he can answer, the door chimes.

"That would be our food," Paris gets up. "Excuse me, please."

A slight throb builds in my right temple; I lean forward, put the wineglass down and cover my face with hands. After a moment, Paris touches my shoulder.

"Come eat," he says.

We sit at the table and he serves us both. The hasperaat smells wonderful. In addition, there is a wild field green salad and rolls.

"Have you had a chance to talk to Tom yet?" I ask.

"Not yet," Paris frowns. "Something about a communications blackout with Voyager?"

I sigh, "So it's not just us. There is something odd going on."

"I think they want to take care of the Maquis question before anyone raises an issue," Paris says.

"McArthur already offered me a posting on the Dauntless in return for my compliance."

"That doesn't sound like Rodney."

"It's true."

"That's not how we do things. I will talk to him."

"I just want to know why the secrecy? What are people afraid of?"

Paris sighs.

"I know, Kathryn, that you take the ideals of Starfleet and therefore, the Federation, very personally. Would it surprise you to know that there are others who don't?"

"At this point, nothing would surprise me. What are you talking about?"

"During the formation of the DMZ, there were promises made that were not kept," he says. "Many of the Federation's top officials were involved."

"Who were these promises made to?"

"The settlers on the border colonies."

"Were they made in writing?" I ask.

"Some of the promises, yes."

"Was McArthur involved?"

"I doubt it. He was not part of those negotiations. He's not the type to do anything like that."

"What kind of promises?"

"Some settlers were promised that they would not have to give up their homes."

"That I knew. Chakotay said something to that effect once," I answer. "What else?"

"They were also promised Starfleet protection in return for a price."

I put my fork down and wipe my lips with the linen napkin provided.

"That's extortion," I whisper. "Federation citizens have a right to protection."

Paris nods, "And in this case, the Federation let these citizens fend for themselves. The protection was offered covertly by a group of Starfleet officers interested in advancing themselves."

"Were they Maquis?"

"No, in general, they frowned on the Maquis movement. They did not believe in it. In that way, they did support the interests of the Federation, which at this particular time, was peace with Cardassia. But they did see the opportunity to advance themselves and they took it. More wine, Kathryn?"

"No." I stand up and wander over to the windows. From the corner of my eye, I can see Voyager in space dock.
"How misled we were, Admiral. We advocate peace with Cardassia to be in the best interests of the Federation."

"Except for those living in the DMZ," Paris says. "That was the whole problem, the whole reason why the Maquis existed. General Order Six, which normally offers Federation citizens priority protection if requested in an emergency situations, was effectively ignored."

"And so when some Starfleet officers offered them that protection?"

"The settlers jumped on it," Paris nods. "Some of them wiped out their life savings."

"Those officers could be court-martialed," I say. "It's a violation of everything Starfleet stands for. We don't charge for our protection if we can, by law, offer it."

"You're right," Paris nods. "But we don't know who these officers are. Unfortunately, most of the people who could tell us are dead. The others are missing, presumed dead."

"Chakotay would know."

Paris joins me at the window, the wineglass still in his hand.

"I think you've answered your own question," he says quietly. "There are forces at work here that you cannot possibly control, no matter how hard you try."

I lean back against the window, crossing my arms against my chest.

"I've always rebelled against the idea that the Federation could be anything less than good."

"You've always had that blind streak, Kathryn. You've always preferred to see the good rather than the evil that could lie beneath. I've always admired that trait of yours."

"So much good it's done me," I answer. "Admiral, I have to know their names."

"I wish I could help you," the Admiral answers. "I've told you everything I know. You'll have to ask Mr. Chakotay."

"They won't let me talk to him, not really. I'm amazed they're letting me talk to you."

"I asked," he says. "Rodney and I go back a long way. Besides, I have a rather personal reason why I wanted to spend time with you. I want to know about my son."

"He doesn't have to return to New Zealand, does he?"

"No," the Admiral says. "The earlier condition stands. He's free to do as he likes."

"Well, that's a relief," I say. "Tom will be glad to hear that; I think he was worried about it. People have a way of forgetting promises once made."

"Believe me, no one was going to forget this promise. I made sure of it."

"Good. Thank you."

"So?" the Admiral questions eagerly. "How is he?"

"Tom's doing well," I say. "You'd be proud of him. He's settled down nicely, just got married-"

"Married?" Owen Paris' eyes grow large. "Who?"

"B'Elanna Torres."

"The Klingon Maquis engineer."

"You know her then?"

"Only from her record," Paris says. He points to a stack of PADDs on a side-table by the sofa. "Those are yours, Kathryn, so you can see exactly what charges are levied against the Maquis."

"Thank you. I'll give them to Tuvok," I say.

"It makes for some fascinating, if not chilling, reading," Paris comments. "I think you'll be surprised."


"Read and find out," he says. "I don't think the Federation is entirely wrong in putting them on trial, given the scope of their crimes."

"Whatever is on those PADDs is seven years old," I answer. "They are different people now and contributed greatly to getting us home. That has to mean something."

"We in the Federation have never been very good at looking at the gray areas," Paris comments. "I suppose you could offer up their loyal service as a detail."

"I thought you could put in a good word for them, especially now that one of them is your daughter-in-law."

There is silence, an unmistakably tense silence as the Admiral considers my request.

"Please," I say. "For Tom."

The Admiral paces, pauses, his hand on the sofa and then turns to face me.

"I never thought," he says, "that it would be like this."

"Like what?" my voice is unnecessarily sharp and impatient.

"With Tom," he says. "I suppose I should be grateful that he settled down."

"He's come a long way."

"In the back of my mind, I always thought he would marry Jessica Marlowe."

"Who is she?"

"Bruce Marlowe's daughter," he says. Bruce Marlowe captained the Venture during the battle of Wolf 359; he and his crew of 250 were among the casualties lost during that terrible day. I had known Bruce briefly; he had been at the Academy at the same time as I was, though two years ahead. Later, we had served together under Owen Paris. "They dated on and off for four or five years, right up until Caldik Prime. Always liked Jessica, thought she was good for Tom. Calm, very competent, restrained and good pedigree too. Her mother was Barbara Marlowe."

"The professor. Temporal mechanics," I remember.

"Yes," Paris looks down at his hands. "I guess I should have known. Jessica was too good for him and I know he never realized that. Shouldn't have let her go."

I bite my lip, wondering what to say next. Sing B'Elanna's praises? And if so, what to say? There was certainly nothing I could compliment about her pedigree; the admiral had already shown his bias in that respect and I want so much to say something that will flatter B'Elanna, and not put her into those neat little categories - Klingon, engineer, Maquis - that people automatically slot her into. Yet, that is B'Elanna, unique and utterly complex, warring with herself and everyone around her.

"B'Elanna. she was one of the people most responsible for getting us home. She could, um, fix anything. Has this uncanny ability to pull rabbits from her hat," I say finally.

"I'm sure," Paris says. "None of Tom's brief letters through the data stream mentioned her. Was it sudden?"
I shake my head.

"The wedding was sudden, but not them. They, they have been together for a while. He," I pause, hating myself for the sudden tinge of jealousy which rankled in the back of my mind. "He loves her."

"I wanted someone stable for him," Paris says. "Someone who could calm him down, make sure something like Caldik Prime didn't happen again."

"He's changed," I point out for the umpteenth time. "He's not the same person you remember, Admiral."

"And I have you to thank for that," Paris heaves a great sigh. "I wouldn't even give him a second chance, yet you did. I appreciate it, Kathryn. Appreciate what you've done for him."

He sighs again, those broad shoulders slumping slightly. He turns to face me, running his hand through his almost snow-white hair.

"It's late," he says. "I should get you back to Voyager."

"Sounds good," I say. Already, I'm longing desperately for the comforts of Voyager. I pick up the PADDs and head for the door. Out in the corridor, Paris indicates the way.

"Kathryn," he says. "Whatever happens, I'm going to do my best to stop it."

"Thank you."

"You understand that there are things out of my control?"

"I know that."

"Decisions are made by people and they don't necessarily share the relevant information with me."

"I know."

"I'm too close to this one, Kathryn. I need you to understand that."

"I know," I repeat. "You don't have to explain. I understand."

"I guess I got what I wanted," his eyes are cloudy and he stares straight ahead.

"News about Tom?" I smile.


"You could see him in person," I suggest. The Admiral nods.

"I will," he says. "Maybe in the morning. I do have some things I need to take care of first."

"I would think you would want to see your son before all else."

"You know how Starfleet is," Paris laughs nervously. "There are some things that cannot wait."

I put my hand on his forearm, stopping him in his tracks.

"I need to ask a favor," I say.


"Will you do something for Chakotay and B'Elanna?"

He takes a minute before answering; we are almost at Voyager before he puts his hand on my forearm, stopping me.

"I will talk to Rodney," he says. "But it might be too late."

"At least a fair trial," I plead.

"I will do what I can."

"Don't condemn them before hearing what they have to say."

"It might be easier to negotiate with the Borg."

This time, I stop him and I look him straight in the eye. "I've done that, Admiral. When I was in the Delta Quadrant, I did what I had to do."

We walk a bit more and then I'm at the airlock. Paris runs his hand through his hair again, a nervous gesture I remember from years ago.

"Good night, Kathryn," he says quietly.

I'm halfway through the door when Paris calls after me.


"Yes, sir?"

"Is... is Tom happy?"

There are so many ways I can answer this question. In my presence, Tom is nothing less than sullen and unresponsive - a far-cry from the cocky young man who first came onto Voyager seven years previously. But when I think of him with B'Elanna, when he looks at her and thinks no one else is watching, I know the answer to the Admiral's question.

I nod, "Yes, he is. B'Elanna, she has a lot to do with that."

Paris nods and then points to the door; I get the hint and it's back to Voyager I go.

But before I can sleep, there is something I have to do.

"Janeway to Tuvok."

"Yes, Captain?"

"I have some information here," I look down at the PADDs. "Looks like the charges against the Maquis. Can you meet me in my quarters?"

"I'm on my way."

And for the first time since leaving McArthur, I feel a small measure of hope.

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