The Red Queen’s Repose

From newsfeed.pitt.edu!news.duq.edu!newsgate.duke.edu!agate!howland.erols.net!newsfeed.internetmci.com!newsxfer2.itd.umich.edu!portc01.blue.aol.com!audrey01.news.aol.com!newsbf02.news.aol.com!not-for-mail Wed Nov 6 12:52:49 1996
Path: newsfeed.pitt.edu!news.duq.edu!newsgate.duke.edu!agate!howland.erols.net!newsfeed.internetmci.com!newsxfer2.itd.umich.edu!portc01.blue.aol.com!audrey01.news.aol.com!newsbf02.news.aol.com!not-for-mail
From: pegeel@aol.com (Pegeel)
Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative
Subject: REPOST: The REd Queen’s Repose. VOY, J, G (?)
Date: 5 Nov 1996 11:05:37 -0500
Organization: America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364)
Sender: root@newsbf02.news.aol.com
Message-ID: <55nokh$lu3@newsbf02.news.aol.com>
Reply-To: pegeel@aol.com (Pegeel)
NNTP-Posting-Host: newsbf02.news-fddi.aol.com

Summary:
Kathryn Janeway struggles with the question of the Maquis, and the balance
of her command team, while also coming to terms with her own difficlties
in accepting her exile in the Delta Quadrant.

Voyager is the property of Paramount, now and forever, as are the
characters pertaining thereto. Thus has it been, thus shall it ever be…
or at least as long as the copyrights hold out. The material created by
Macedon in his links is *his* and I’ll help whomp anyone who says
otherwise. My own material is my own, however, and that includes the
material below. (Excluding the Lewis Carroll quote. Lewis Carroll and
both of the “Alice” books, not to mention the Snark and the Boojum, belong
to the world, and the world is the better for them.)

Hope you enjoy it.

Peg

“Now! Now!” cried the Queen. “Faster! Faster!” And they went so fast
that at last they seemed to skim through the air, hardly touching the
ground with their feet, till suddenly, just as Alice was quite exhausted,
they stopped, and she found herself sitting on the ground, breathless and
giddy.
The Queen propped her up against a tree, and said kindly, “You may
rest a little, now.”
Alice looked round her in great surprise. “Why, I do believe we’ve
been under this tree the whole time! Everything’s just as it was!” “Of
course it is,” said the Queen, “What would you have it?” “Well, in *our*
country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to
somewhere else – if you ran very fast for a long time as we’ve been doing”
“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, *here*, you see, it
takes all the running *you* can do, to keep in the same place. If you
want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.”
“I’d rather not try, please!” said Alice…..”

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
Lewis Carroll.
Old enough to be public domain, published enough that if you can’t find a
copy you aren’t trying.

“The Red Queen’s Repose”

by

Peg Robinson, a.k.a. Pegeel@AOL.com

C.1996

I would rather not be in the Delta Quadrant.

Oh, it’s a fascinating place; under other circumstances, in some
other situation, I would love to explore its boundaries; ferret out the
secrets of every star, wander through the market places, and forums, and
bazaars, through the streets and by-ways of its many worlds. After all:
“We are explorers.”
I’ve said that enough times. It’s cold comfort; an attempt to hold
on to the life I once had, the role I was familiar with. I once explored
for no reason but joy in curiosity satisfied, in the relative safety of
the Alpha Quadrant. Now I explore of necessity, with no safety to be
found in over seventy light years range.

The explorations seem to turn inward as often as outward now. The
challenges are endless, the demand for change constant; and there aren’t
many guide-posts. The reliable things aren’t so reliable anymore, and I
have to look for new solutions to problems I had thought long since
answered beyond question or debate. I suppose, in a way, it’s as great a
test of my own commitment to discovery as I could ever face, but I can’t
say I wouldn’t often prefer to have been able decline the test. Oh, well.
Even cold comfort is still comfort, of a sort.

We are explorers.

*********************************************************

I returned to the story circle five weeks after my first entrance.
It was a hard wait, and I would have gone sooner if I hadn’t needed to
claim a sliver of revenge. It was bad enough that I’d frozen like a
rabbit in the glare of a handlight at the simple use of my own name. I’d
thought I’d been prepared for the shock of decompression, for entering the
circle as just me. Somehow I’d never thought about the question of names,
or how I’d react when the man who’s served beside me for all these months
looked me in the eye and addressed me as “Kathryn”. The humiliation of
finding myself behaving like a sour spinster who’s just been goosed by a
drunk, and for so little reason, was hard to brush off. Chakotay’s too
much the humorist not to have seen the humor in it. A grown woman undone
by the use of her own name, in an informal setting, that she *knew* was an
informal setting… I haven’t felt like such a jackass in years. And then
I’d managed to make a mess of my attempt to pull his leg in return… and
given him yet another reason to laugh… and another reason for annoyance.
I could have gotten past that. Not easily, mind you, but I was working
on it. The circle still called, and I wanted to go back.
But then he had to come to my door and noodge me. I mean *really*…
“Maybe when you come to the circle I’ll tell the story of why I kept the
name ‘Joseph’ ” And all the while with that damned “butter wouldn’t melt
in my mouth” innocence, wide-eyed as a thirteen year old altar boy. I sat
out the next four weeks in the face of Tuvok’s escalating efforts to lure
me back, knowing that if it was a pain in the neck for me it was probably
no less a pain for Chakotay… and served him right. The man is a menace,
and much too aware of his own charm. A simple “Come on back…we’ll still
be there when you’re ready” and I would have been there like a shot. All
I’d really been doing that evening was what I’d been doing most evenings
in the four weeks since I’d talked with Paris: reading over every text on
methods of command I could find in the computer’s data banks. That night
it had been “Command Seen Side Wise: A Treatise on Alternative Approaches
to Leadership” by Commodore Nyota Uhura, rtrd.. She’s become a favorite
of mine, and not just because I remember her from my days at the Academy,
when she stalked the campus like an aging lioness, her gray hair a halo
around a face so striking it made us young women think yearningly that, if
we could look like that at her age, we’d sell our souls. The texts she
wrote, and her memoirs, have a delighted, irreverent tone; full of odd,
unexpected insights into leadership that may, God willing, help me find an
antidote to over twenty years of following in the footsteps of the likes
of Tom Paris’ father.
But as much as I’m enjoying Uhura, and as embarrassed as I was over
my own stupidity, when I heard Chakotay’s and Tuvok’s voices out in the
corridor that evening, muffled but still identifiable through the sound
proofing, I was ready to set my padd aside. I stalled mainly because of
the tag end of fluster left from the week before and a worried uncertainty
as to whether, having botched the thing entirely, I was so much *wanted*
there as someone they couldn’t politely leave out now that I’d made my
entrance.
And then the “Red Napoleon” had to get clever, and try to push my
buttons.
So I waited it out in my quarters, getting by on the friendly, if
challenging, company of Mzee Nyota.
At the end of four weeks I decided I’d held out long enough. I
really did want to hear that story, and dignity wasn’t one of the more
important attributes recommended by the authors I’d been reading. Uhura
had plenty to say in favor of it… but more to say in favor of empathy,
and humor, and connection. “Dignity is no use when it isolates. James
Kirk was often no more than a laughing madman. But he was a loved and
trusted madman, and a passionate leader who gave his all, and that’s worth
a hundred sober icebergs, silent and immured in their command demeanor.
Better to fail in dignity, and succeed in the hearts of your crew.
Dignity will not stand by you, in the end. A ship of loyal crewmen will,
so long as they know and love who they follow.” So I set my dignity
aside, and even my green and my beads, for all I love them, and went to
the circle.

Understand: I knew there would be a sting in the tail of the story.
I’d watched him as he told the first part that day in my ready room, and
I’d listened to his voice. I’d seen the anger there, heard it twist and
bite into his words. I wasn’t going in blind, any more than I went into
the circle blind the first time. But like the first time, I was ambushed;
caught off-guard by the anger and hurt that tore free. I said afterwards
that I knew he hadn’t intended to provoke a confrontation. It was hard to
say; hard to find anything to say that night. I don’t think he saw what I
saw, for all we were both there. But I had to say something. He’d bled
for us, had led his old crew to bleed for us, and as frightened as I was,
I wanted to find some way to let him know that I’d listened, and that I
wasn’t going to turn and rip at him. I’ve done that enough times before,
and for less reason.

I’m not as good as I’d like at relationships. I’m good at numbers,
and logic, at sudden leaps of scientific intuition; I’m good at
regulations and order; but I’m not really good at people. Oh, I won’t say
I’m terrible. I’ve been working at it too many years to be terrible. But
it’s harder for me than for some. Part of it is not always knowing how to
hold a balance between the role of the Captaincy and the role of “just
Kathryn”. The dignity thing again. “Kathryn” can be a terrible romp.
I’ve often felt the Captain shouldn’t be.
Part of it is the separation that comes from being too bright, too
interested in the wrong things to really quite connect with most of the
people in the world. That’s one of the things I love about that
hellspark, B’Elanna. If I start talking about the superselection sectors
in a Hilbert space she knows what I mean, and doesn’t get that glazed look
most folks do, even in Star Fleet. But with most people I have to work a
bit, where others seem to step in easily with open revelations and easy
conversations. And sometimes, when I’m angry, or too emotional, it all
goes sour. I rip out with a comment I never should have made; or worse,
freeze up like an iceberg, not knowing what to say. I usually try to pass
that off as reserve.
With Chakotay it’s twice as hard. He isn’t the easiest man in the
world to know how to reach. He seems to hover between a calm professional
demeanor; tough, frustrated anger; and a relaxed intimacy that throws me
off-center. I never know if I’m talking to a Star Fleet officer, a Maquis
Captain, or a friend. I don’t always know which one I want to be talking
to either. The officer is easiest. That’s what I usually choose. It’s
safer for both of us. But even then, sometimes I get it wrong.
That night, trying to find a way to reach him that wouldn’t rake
through pain already too close to the surface, I missed.
He was standing at the side of the room, wrapping his pipe, and his
stance…

There’s a way people stand when they’re hurting. It’s like they have
a sunburn — an all-over burn, bad enough that their skin blisters, bad
enough that the air feels like fire and ice, and their clothes are
torture. They stand like they wish they could pull themselves six inches
away from everything.

Chakotay stood like that, with the room in a rip-tide around him.

It was frightening.
I looked around, and could see my crew, the Fleet crew, trying to
step in, to give some comfort; saw the Maquis reach out, some accepting
what my people offered, some pulling into their own group, not wanting to
take from people they blamed for the pain they’d suffered. And around the
edges I could see Fleet and Maquis both, the ones with the fewest contacts
across the groups, hovering against the walls and exchanging the first
wary, hostile glances.
And Chakotay wrapping his pipe.
He hadn’t meant to start a confrontation. That night, he hadn’t…
not in the sense I meant, or he meant. But looking around the room, I
could only pray that the circle would do the job he’d intended.
He’d prayed, and passed the pipe with an intensity you couldn’t miss.
The gold chain had slithered from his hand and pooled, and I’d known a
little where it would take us, as damning in its way as thirty pieces of
silver. His tale had paced its way from the Wallowa valley, and the Nez
Perce’s flight towards Canada; to the bitter confusion of an Academy
cadet, trying to understand his own identity in a world that sees Vulcans
and Klingons with more clarity and perception than it sees a son of the
people who once owned the land the Academy is built on, who owned all the
Americas, North, South, and Central. From there it thundered on to the
agony of the Cardassian Demilitarized Zone.
Behind him had come the other Maquis, angry to the point of bursting
with tales untold outside their own little family.
He’d tried to make it a communion. But in his own pain and passion,
he’d done something he hadn’t planned, or desired. I don’t think he saw
it; I think he was too swept up in his own pain and memories. But I’d
seen it: seen the glances pass from Maquis to Maquis. I’d seen them
stand together in unity, *Maquis* again for the first time since I’d
crammed them into Star Fleet red-and-black, or blue-and-black, or gold-
and-black.
They took up that identity like a lit brand; like the Crusaders’ Red
Crossed shields and banners.
And the Fleet crew sat there, with no choice but to accept a blame
they knew they hadn’t earned; the blame for not making things right in a
world they no more understood or controlled than the Maquis who had
suffered; no choice but to accept responsibility, and reach out in
compassion as best they could…or pull back, angry at the burden they
couldn’t accept, couldn’t escape, couldn’t ignore. Some reached out.
Some pulled away.
It’s a bitter thing to carry a blame you haven’t earned; that’s yours
through no failure beside the inability to accomplish every task of the
thousands of conflicting tasks life presents you with. But whatever angers
I was afraid would flare, I was sure he’d intended the circle as a joining
of our people. And I didn’t know how to tell him that, in spite of fear,
I had listened, and cared. Trying, and failing; seeing the annoyance
close his face, I tried again, teasing a little, using his “Chief Joseph”
to tell him I saw what he’d attempted… and was met with a “Kate” that
was as harsh as a reprimand, and a look so sour it made me think of a man
who, given a crate of lemons, wonders angrily if he has enough sugar in
his cupboard to make lemonade… and doubts it very much.
At that point I gave up. I’m not so stupid I can’t see the writing
on the wall; know when I’m so far from finding the right words, or the
person I’m talking to is so deaf to the words behind the words, that to do
more will only be to dig myself a deeper pit. I added a word or two of
“Well, thanks anyway”, threw in a “Goodnight, Commander” for good measure,
and fled to my quarters. Once there I sent Murphy the Great and Powerful
a spare, dry, scientist’s curse that he had to help me make a mare’s nest
of an honest attempt to cross the barriers between myself and my first
officer. And then I prayed to any gods or powers that might be listening,
if gods and powers there are, that the tumult I felt striding towards us
never arrived, and that Chakotay’s circle would stand intact in the face
of all that anger.
I didn’t sleep well that night.

The next day passed quietly, and I began to hope that, whether
through prayer, or Chakotay’s desire for unity, or just plain Irish luck,
we’d avoided the storm. First shift went by without a ripple. As second
shift went by I read in my quarters, relieved that I didn’t have to deal
with social unrest, or even with the unsettling intimacy of the circle.
It was just as I was getting ready for bed, wrapped in a terry robe and
ready for a late shower, that the first shoe dropped. My door chimed.
Without even knowing who was there, or what they were there about, my
stomach sank. I wrapped the robe tighter around me, and tied off the
sash.
“Who’s there?”
“It’s me, Kes.”
“In…”
The door sighed open, and she came in, moving slowly, the bulging
natal pouch on her shoulders like an over-loaded knapsack. Ocampans lost
the draw when it comes to reproductive arrangements… and Kes has had
worse luck than most Ocampans. Talaxian and Ocampan biology doesn’t mix
well or easily. She looked pale, and drawn out. She hadn’t gotten
pregnant easily. The whole story is long, and the science alone is enough
to have provided her and the doctor with material to fill several
treatises, but the short form is that, in the end, she’d had to
essentially manufacture a child, and then undergo a lot of misery to make
sure her body didn’t then reject it. It had worked, but at a hell of a
physical cost. She wanted the child, and suffered the pain and the
discomfort willingly. But still she looked hagged, and I often wondered
watching her if the result could possibly be worth the cost she had paid,
and was still paying. I waved her quickly to a chair, and she sank down
with a sigh, sitting well forward to leave room for the fullness on her
back.
“Thank you, Captain.”
“You’re more than welcome, Kes. Can I get you anything? Coffee,
tea?”
She smiled. “No. No caffeine, remember? I have enough problems
without getting wound up on that sort of thing, anyway.”
“Of course. I’m sorry. I forgot. Juice?”
“No, nothing. All I’d have to do is get up in ten minutes and use
your bathroom if I did…and I’d rather *sit*. I thought I had sympathy
for pregnant women before… but now I can’t imagine how people stand it
so well. My back hurts, my neck hurts, my *feet* hurt. I spend more
time in the bathroom than anywhere else these days… and I feel like a
soap bubble that’s about to burst.”
I grinned, a bit wryly. “Don’t look at me for comment. I never
wanted one enough to put up with it myself… and certainly not enough to
put up with all you have. So tell me, why are you here? Somehow I doubt
you came to talk small talk about pregnancy with me.”
Her face sobered, and one hand slid up to the curving bulge behind
her neck, as though she were comforting the unborn child. “There’s
trouble. I thought you should know. There was talk in the mess hall this
evening… and the Maquis and the Fleet crewmembers seem to be splitting
up, taking sides. It’s worse than I remember it being even at the
beginning, when I first came aboard. People are really angry. The Maquis
seem to have decided they’ve had enough of Star Fleet, and Star Fleet
rules, and they aren’t happy with their status; how you’re running the
ship. Nothing new, but it’s as though it’s all come to a head. And the
Star Fleet officers are furious. The Maquis seem to be baiting them, and
they’re biting back. Neelix and I had to talk Bill Knowlton and Mummad
Falid out of a fight… and I’m not sure they won’t have it out later
anyway.” Her eyes met mine. “I’m frightened. Neelix is more frightened.
He’s seen this sort of thing before. He’s talking about loading us onto
his ship, and leaving… he’s afraid if this really flares up one of us
will get hurt; him, or me, or the baby. I’ve told him I have to stay at
least till I’ve delivered — there’s just no way we can manage that
without the holodoctor to help. I think that’s stopped him for now. But
he’s scared to death. I’m not sure I blame him.”
“Isn’t all this a bit premature? The circle was only yesterday. If
we give it a few days, maybe things will cool off.”
She shrugged. I can’t say she looked any too confidant. “Maybe.
But there’s an ugly feeling. I’m almost afraid to drop my mind shields.
Every time I relax I seem to get hit with someone’s anger, or pain, or
guilt.”
I looked at her. Her face was gray, her eyes tired and worried.
She’s aged, and that night for the first time I saw her not as a girl, but
as a woman… a tired, frightened, weary woman.
“Damn.” I paced over to the replicator, and called up a cup of
coffee, then stalked back to the sofa and settled back, wishing I were
anywhere but where I was. We sat silent for a while, me sipping my
coffee, and wondering what the hell I was supposed to do now, Kes watching
me with worried patience. After a few minutes she stirred in her chair,
restlessly trying to find a position that was comfortable. Her eyes met
mine.
“He didn’t mean it to turn out like this, you know.”
I didn’t need her to tell me who “he” was.
It bothers me when people defend him to me. I feel like the Queen of
Hearts in Wonderland, or the Red Queen in Looking Glass; an
“Off-with-his-head” termagant with nothing better to do than torment the
wide-eyed, innocent little first officer. As though there’s nothing I’d
rather do than beam him out into space and “forget” to reassemble the
particles afterwards. I sipped my coffee, and tried to rein in my
irritation.
“Kes, I *know* he didn’t mean this to happen. That doesn’t change
the fact that if things are as bad as you think he’s handed me a hell of a
situation to deal with.”
She nodded, sadly. “But he didn’t want this. If you talk to him…”
“I intend to.” I heard my voice turn on the words, angry and terse.
No wonder his friends thought I wanted to reduce him to sub-atomic
particles. “I’m sorry, Kes. That didn’t come out right. Please, forgive
me. I’m tired, and worried, and I’d hoped this would never happen. I’ve
managed to keep this a Star Fleet ship for two years now, and it looks
like it may all be about to fall apart. And I don’t know what to do to
undo the trouble.”
She looked at me, her face a placid mystery. “Maybe that’s the
problem, Captain. Maybe it isn’t something to undo.”
I didn’t know what to say. I just stared at her.
She stroked the curve on her shoulders again. “One of the things I
had to accept before I could make this little one, was that there were
some things I could change… and some things I could only adapt to. You
said you’d managed to keep this a Star Fleet ship, but it isn’t true. It
never was a Star Fleet ship… not since you came here. It’s only
pretended to be one. Maybe it’s time you accepted that you can’t change
that, and adapt instead.”
“No matter what you heard last night the Maquis are by no means all
saints and martyrs, Kes. You wouldn’t have liked it much on a Maquis
ship. I don’t think you know what ‘adapting’ to the Maquis means.”
She hoisted herself cautiously out of the chair, and carefully found
her balance. Suddenly she smiled, and the youth and mischief I hadn’t
seen since she came in was there again.
“No. I suppose I don’t. But neither do you. None of us will till
it happens, will we?”
“Kes…”
“Think about it. They may not be what you’d have chosen, but they’re
still your people, and they’re not going away. Is it so much harder to
accept a few Maquis than it is to accept Neelix and me? You don’t make
*us* pretend we’re Star Fleet…”
I thought about trying to pass Neelix off as Fleet. It wasn’t a
pretty thought. Neelix couldn’t be Star Fleet if his life depended on it.
But the Maquis…
“It isn’t the same thing, Kes.”
“No? I suppose you know best. You’re the Captain. But think about
it anyway. Now, I have to get some rest if I’m going to be any use at all
tomorrow. Goodnight, Captain.”

After she left, I sat fretting over the whole situation.
“One law for all men.” That’s what Star Fleet was. It’s why I’d
insisted all along that Voyager be a Star Fleet ship. No exceptions, no
favoritism. Not for my people, not for his. One law. And if it was *my*
law, it had been Chakotay’s law too, a law he’d accepted once. It was a
good answer. The Federation had given our worlds a unity, and an ethic
unsurpassed in the history of our people. The Prime Directive, the Vulcan
concept of the IDIC. To me Star Fleet had always seemed an expression of
the best of that. The best of the best. And since we had been stranded
here the ways of the Fleet; the regulations, the ranks, the rules, the
uniforms, had all came together to supply a discipline and an equality
that held our people together, when we could have been nothing more than a
motley collection of warring splinter groups. Fleet, Maquis, Deltan
Natives. Christian, Muslim, Jew, Bajoran Orthodox. Instead of bickering
little subgroups, each fighting to get our way, we were *one* group… a
Star Fleet group. The crew of Voyager. Now, thanks to Chakotay’s story
circle, it looked like that unity was dissolving, and I was damned if I
liked it. But the cat was out of the bag, the genie out of the bottle,
and I couldn’t see any way to put it back.
Kes had said I wouldn’t know what giving in and adapting would mean.
But I had a sick sense that I did know what it would mean.
If I let go, let change come, I could see the possibilities careening
out of control. Maquis insisting on their own identity; insisting that,
if they weren’t Star Fleet, they didn’t have to live under Star Fleet law.
And if I gave in on that, then the Fleet personnel would feel betrayed,
wanting the same freedoms; and I couldn’t afford that. It’s easy to
forget that a ship is an artificial environment. It takes hundreds of
careful, coordinated actions to keep it running, to keep it a healthy
place to live, to keep it strong, and able to defend itself, fast and able
to move. Someone had to be minding the store, living up to the demands,
submitting to the disciplines. If not the Fleet people, then who? And
there was always a worse possibility beyond the immediate one of
discontent and unrest.
Mutiny.
It is a simple truth. We can’t survive without the Maquis. They
can’t survive without us. But if either side becomes too unhappy with the
situation they may mutiny, throwing both Chakotay and me aside, killing
all hope either of us had of return or even survival for our people. The
end of all hope.
I was afraid. I’ve been afraid of that possibility for a long time,
but that night it ate into me like never before.
I don’t like to lose control. I never have. Control is sometimes
the only thing that stands between life and death, and that’s more true
now than ever. But the only way I could see to take back control, now
that stability was breaking down, would be to resort to force… and lose
the very things I most cherished about the world I’d lost, and the world
I’d tried to create here. Betray the standards I had struggled to
uphold.. and betray the trust of my crew. Including, goddamn it, the man
who’d sown the wind, all unintended, and raised up a whirlwind for our
harvest.
As angry as he’s made me on occasion, as often as I’ve wished I could
find a way to contain him in the neat confines of his rank and role… as
often as I’ve wished I could have had a more conventional first, who never
threatened the security of the familiar truths and patterns I know and
love, he’s a good man. I like him. In a strange way, I trust him, and
always have. I never would have made him first officer if I didn’t, no
matter how expedient the answer had been politically. Only a fool puts a
true enemy, a criminal, in the position of second in command. There’s too
much power there, too much room to take control, break your leader’s
power. It would have been better to have left him and his people behind,
or killed them, or locked them in the brig and struggled on without their
help, undermanned and desperate though we would have been, than to trust
Voyager to him if he weren’t a man I could respect. At the least, I could
have held to the fact that I was in the position of greater strength, with
my ship, my command, with the greater force of crew; and from that
strength offered him a lower position, and placed Tuvok in the second
chair. He would have had little choice but to give way on that, so long
as he and his people were well treated.
I hadn’t taken that route, because I’d seen a better one. When I’d
had to hunt Chakotay, I’d had to study him. What I’d found I could
admire. He’d had to make some hard choices. They were choices the
Federation couldn’t afford to condone. But he’d chosen the only path open
to him that left him clean in his own eyes… and I valued that. I still
do.
I just wish he’d stop presenting me, by accident or intent, with
choices that leave me feeling less honorable.
It was a long while before I slept. It was beginning to look like a
trend.

End pt. 1

The Red Queen’s Repose.

Peg Robinson

The next morning the other shoe dropped. It started with Tuvok
coming to my ready room with a rash of reports from all over the ship of
Maquis causing disruptions. Nothing major; though two fights had had to
be broken up during fourth shift, and there were several incidents of
squabbling and threats. But Maquis were showing up late, or not at all,
were refusing to give reasons, or explain their actions, and there were
over a dozen reports of “improper attire”. When I asked what that meant,
Tuvok emptied a box onto my desk, and a pile of Bajoran style earrings
clattered and hissed onto the smooth surface. I looked at them.
“What’s this about, Tuvok? We don’t have this many Bajorans aboard.
Just Gerron, and Jinn Cherrol, isn’t it? ”
“Also Dort Ladro and Hundrin Bandil.”
“I’d forgotten them. They’re in Maintenance aren’t they?”
“Yes. I’m afraid even those duties are somewhat beyond their limited
capacities. There was no other place to put them, however, and as they
are technically under Lieutenant Torres’ command we haven’t had excessive
trouble with them.”
“But still, only four Bajorans, and there have to be at least twelve
earrings there. It doesn’t make sense.”
Tuvok’s mouth compressed tightly. “If you would examine the
earrings, Captain, perhaps you will see the sense.”
I picked one up. At first glance it seemed the usual sort of thing
you see all over the place when you visit DS9. A chain linking a cuff to a
stud, and a cluster of medallions hanging from the stud by more chains.
I turned it in my hand, letting the medallions slip across my palm. It
took a moment to hit me. Then I saw it, and once I did it all came
together.
It’s odd. The most noticeable thing should have been the medallions.
It wasn’t what caught my eye though. It was the chains. Gold, and a
link pattern I had seen only two nights before, though the links in
Chakotay’s chain had been larger and heavier. But the pressed, flattened
link was distinctive enough, particularly as it was unusual on Bajoran
work. You can get Bajoran earrings a dime a dozen in the shops on DS9. I
have several, though I don’t wear them often. But I always felt guilty
not buying them. Bajor has seen so much, and has so few sources of revenue
to rebuild the planet, even now the wormhole has opened up. I always
ended up buying one every time I passed through. And I’d never seen that
flat link on one. It seemed unlikely it was mere coincidence that
suddenly there were a dozen earrings, all with the same sort of chain
Chakotay had displayed only two nights before. Then I noticed the
medallions.
There were three. One was stamped with a broken chain logo, a symbol
used by the Maquis as a rally marker when they were drumming for recruits
in “legal” meetings and open debates inside the Federation. All very
clean and above board but still a front for recruiting.
One had the symbol for the Cardassian Empire… inverted.
And the third was the arching, asymmetric arrowhead symbol of Star
Fleet. Also inverted.
I felt the rage rise up in me. I spoke into the air. “Computer,
open a line to Commander Chakotay’s office.”
“Line opened”
“Commander Chakotay.”
There was a brief silence. I could tell he was trying to adjust to
the delivery. My voice hadn’t been precisely friendly, or even
dispassionate and professional. But then I hadn’t meant it to be.
“Yes, Captain?”
“I’d like to see you in my office. Immediately.”
There was another silence. Then he replied. “Yes, Captain. I’ll be
right over.”
I looked at Tuvok. There was an anticipatory air to him, his
hunter’s look, and I was a bit surprised to see it.
“I would have thought you would regret seeing the Commander called on
the carpet. You’ve seemed closer since you started going to the circle.
And after the circle you seemed genuinely moved.”
Tuvok raised an eyebrow. “I am a Vulcan. I cannot be moved.
However I will confess to being impressed by the Commander’s oratory, and
by the atrocities that many of his former command had suffered. That does
not alter the fact that the incident has only served to sow discord on the
ship, and presented the Maquis as a whole in a light that not all of them
deserve. Nor were the Commander’s historical metaphors entirely precise.
Commander Chakotay is not “Chief Joseph”, nor are his Maquis all the
embattled heroes and victims he perceives them to be.”
Something stirred in me, some sixth sense, and I was suddenly sure
that there was more to Tuvok’s displeasure than he was saying, but I
wasn’t able to pursue it.
Just then Chakotay entered. When he saw Tuvok, rigid and
disapproving as a Puritan minister regarding an unrepentant sinner, he
stiffened. He turned to me, but his eyes remained on Tuvok, wary and
distrustful. “You wanted me for some reason, Captain?”
“Yes, Commander. Your story circle appears to have had effects
beyond your wildest expectations. I’m afraid you’ve done a bit more than
you intended.”
“I’m not sure what you mean.”
I ducked my head toward the earrings. He stepped up to my desk, and
reached out, his hand hovering a second as his eyes asked if he could take
one. I nodded, and he picked one up. It didn’t take him as long as it
had taken me to see the significance. He drew in a long breath, and let
it out with a sigh. “Damn. What else?”
Tuvok handed him the padd with the list of the night’s and morning’s
offenses. Chakotay scanned over them briefly. He got that depressed,
frustrated, cornered look he gets whenever the Maquis are making waves.
As he spooled down the screen, he shook his head. “Those –” He cut
himself off. Somehow I suspected I knew the word that would have
followed. ‘Idiots’ came to *my* mind.
Tuvok stirred. “What do you have to say, Commander?”
Chakotay looked back at Tuvok, frowning slightly. “Tuvok, this is
the first I’ve even heard about this. These reports haven’t even made it
to my desk yet… and they should have landed *there* first. I’m not sure
why you seem to think I’m somehow directly accountable.”
It was a statement, not a question, but Tuvok responded anyway. “As
it appears to have been your polemics that provoked the current behavior
of your former crew, I would consider that to be a reasonable position for
me to hold, Commander.”
Chakotay’s head lowered like a bull preparing to charge. He looked
caught between anger and betrayed trust. “Polemics? Tuvok, you were
there. You *know* that wasn’t what…”
“Gentlemen, I hardly think this is the time or place for a debate on
the definition of ‘polemics’, or the question of the Commander’s
intentions. Commander, I’m aware, if Tuvok is not, that you weren’t
trying to spark a revolution among the Maquis. It’s beginning to look
like you may have done so anyway, but that isn’t the point. What matters
is what we’re going to do about it. And we have to decide soon, before
we’re dealing with more than a few earrings, a few crewmembers reporting
late for duty, and a fist fight or two. The issue of who intended what
isn’t important. What we do about it is. We can’t afford to deal with
outright mutiny.”
Chakotay looked at me, his mouth set. “A pile of earrings doesn’t
make outright mutiny, no matter how insulting the symbols are to Star
Fleet. If you let me ask around about who made these, and give me a
chance to talk to my people…”
Tuvok cut in with a dry “*Your* people, Commander? I would have
said ‘the Maquis’, or even ‘our’ people. But they are no longer *your*
people. Unless you decide to make that association yourself.”
“Tuvok!” His glance shot to mine, as my voice cut across the
conversation. My sixth sense was on red alert now, sure that Tuvok was
being driven by something beyond professional concern. If there had
been time, and privacy I would have tried to discover what it was. As it
was I had to settle for an attempt to rein him in. “That wasn’t
necessary, Tuvok.”
He returned my gaze with unflinching steadiness. “I’m sorry,
Captain, but I must disagree. We would not be facing this situation were
it not for the fact that, in his usual precipitate manner, Commander
Chakotay has taken an action that seemed justified to him… but which
showed little consideration for the possible outcome. If, as seems likely
given his comment, he chooses to identify himself with his old command, it
is possible that even with no hostile intent on his part he will
unwittingly serve as a catalyst for insurrection. It is my opinion that
if the Commander fails to consider the possibilities inherent in the
situation, and choose clearly where his loyalties lie, that the likelihood
of disaster is substantially increased.”
“Which means?” Chakotay’s voice was dry.
“Which means, Commander, that it is once again time for you to choose
sides. You have told me your reasons for joining the Maquis. While I
have not agreed with them entirely, I have respected your choice, as best
I can while retaining my own loyalties. But now you must choose again,
with other issues at stake. There are no Cardassians here, Commander.
There are no ‘broken treaties’… not even the implied ones inherent in
the obligations of a government to protect its colonies at some risk to
the well being of the whole. There is only the choice between order, and
anarchy.”
Chakotay stood, the frustration clear on his face.
“Tuvok, it isn’t that simple…”
“It is.”
“Gentlemen.” They looked away from each other, seeming both relieved
and annoyed at being distracted from their confrontation. “I think you’re
letting yourselves get side-tracked. Wage your philosophical battles
later. In the meantime, could we *possibly* concentrate on working out
what our immediate course of action is going to be?”
They both seemed to hover undecided a moment, the unresolved tension
between them almost visible it was so intense. Then they shifted
slightly, seeming to draw back from each other.
Tuvok nodded. “Of course, Captain. My apologies.”
Chakotay shot him a look that had a touch of “So do I get an apology
too?” to it, but chose not to comment. He fixed his attention on me. “I
still think the first thing is for me to find out what I can about what’s
happening. I still have enough connections with my *former* crew to give
me some leads. I have a hard time believing we’re looking at a real
chance of mutiny. The Maquis are outnumbered three to one, and even if
they took the ship, there’s no way they could man the posts without help.
They’d have to be crazy to try it without a lot of support from the Star
Fleet personnel… which they aren’t going to get if they’re wearing
*these* around.” His eyes flicked to the earrings on my desk.
Tuvok stirred restlessly. “I cannot endorse that action, Captain.
Not only is it a breech of protocol for the Commander to interfere in what
is primarily a Security issue, but there is the problem that to even
express interest in the activities of the Maquis would be likely to
encourage action on their part, out of a conviction that they held the
Commander’s unstated support. And it would certainly cause loyal Star
Fleet officers to question the Commander’s continued commitment to Star
Fleet if they were to see him fraternizing with his former crew under the
circumstances.”
Chakotay tried to meet his gaze, but Tuvok kept his eyes locked on my
face. Chakotay didn’t look away though. “Would you share those doubts?”
Tuvok’s lips tightened, and I waited, as tense as either of them, for
him to answer. The silence seemed to spread thinner and thinner, and I
waited for it to burst, wondering what to do. But at the last moment
before I felt I had to say something, Tuvok shifted his gaze from me to
Chakotay, his eyes meeting , then flickering away almost apologetically.
“No, Commander.”
“Well, I suppose that’s something, anyway.” If his response seemed
split between acknowledgment, and reproach I could hardly blame him. “If
you don’t want me getting my hands dirty dealing with this, what would
*you* suggest?”
“As I indicated, this is primarily a matter for ship’s security to
deal with. It would seem only logical and appropriate that incidents of
unruly behavior and refusal to comply with Star Fleet discipline be dealt
with promptly and summarily by my security forces.”
“In other words, you give them a sharp lecture, put them on report,
assign disciplinary duties, and in a pinch slap them in the brig.”
Tuvok was clearly puzzled by Chakotay’s amusement and frustration.
“Precisely, Commander. Do you have some objection to this course of
action?”
“Only that it won’t work.”
“It has proven effective in past, and has been the primary method for
dealing with recalcitrance and misbehavior in Star Fleet since its
inception. You statement that ‘it won’t work’ would appear to me to be
unfounded.”
“You’re talking about penalties imposed on *volunteers*… and career
officers. And you’re forgetting that Star Fleet always had the option of
discharging anyone who was really determined to buck the system. We don’t
have that choice. If the Maquis members of the crew want to refuse to
cooperate, then they’ll refuse to cooperate — and lectures and punishment
details, and stays in the brig aren’t going to do anything more than make
them mad and give them a sense that their grievances are justified. All
you’d be doing is increasing the tension, reinforcing the opinion of the
Star Fleet officers that the Maquis are somehow the ‘criminal element’ on
board ship.. and unifying the Maquis in the face of your persecution.”
“I would hardly call the demand that the Maquis conform to ship’s
discipline, and the reasonable and humane punishment of those who fail to
comply, ‘persecution’, Commander.”
“It doesn’t matter what you’d call it. What matters is how they’d
see it. And they’d see it as persecution. They weren’t volunteers,
Tuvok. Exiles, refugees, maybe even a ‘pressed’ work gang, or prisoners.
But they were never volunteers in anything but the Maquis. Most of them
see you as having no right to impose Star Fleet rules and regulations on
them in the first place, and have been complying only because they didn’t
see any other choice… and because I asked it of them.”
I shifted in my seat, leaning forward. “Commander, we’ve bent over
backward to treat your former crew fairly, on equal terms with the Star
Fleet officers. But you agreed when we first talked that this *should* be
a Star Fleet ship. We have enough problems without trying to maintain a
double standard, one law for the Maquis and another for the Star Fleet
officers. We need the discipline and the structure too much to let it go.
And this is a Fleet ship, with mainly Fleet officers. There wasn’t any
other practical answer. There still isn’t.”
He closed his eyes a moment. “I know. But practical won’t make any
difference if they won’t accept the necessity. If you can’t make them
want to work with you, the only route left is force. Are you really ready
to start looking at that?”
I shook my head. “No.”
“Then you can’t let Tuvok antagonize them. It’s one thing for him to
go after one crewmember in a clear-cut criminal case. But it’s another to
set him loose on the all the Maquis, as though just by being Maquis they
were criminal.”
“They *are*.” Tuvok commented dryly. “That is, after all, why I was
sent to spy on you… and the Captain was sent to bring you in. The
Maquis are, by definition, criminals.”
Chakotay’s mouth tightened. “Only when politicians are writing the
definitions.”
“Enough.” They drew back again, and waited while I collected my
thoughts. “You’re both right.. and you’re both wrong… and none of it
makes any difference except as it affects the choices we make now. Tuvok,
I want you to handle this as gently as possible. No interfering except in
cases of violence or attempts to disrupt the work of the ship. Instruct
the department chiefs that if the Maquis come in late, or wearing those
earrings, to put them on report, but other than that ignore it so long as
they’re doing their duty. Remember, don’t get security involved for less
than violence, or a real indication of mutiny or disruption.” Tuvok
looked like he was about to speak, but I shook my head. “I don’t want you
setting things off until we know what we’re dealing with, Tuvok.
Chakotay, see what you can find out from your friends among your old
crew.. but keep it *very* quiet. Try to stick to the ones you know best,
the ones you trust the most… and see if you can’t get *them* to keep it
quiet too. Tuvok is right… if they start to think you’re interested,
they could either decide that you’re with them, but not ready to risk an
open commitment, or that you’re planning on turning on them, in which case
they might decide to move before we could prevent anything. So keep it as
low profile as you can. And both of you keep me informed on anything you
find out, or on any new developments. Do you both understand?”
“Yes, Captain.”
“Understood, Captain. Tuvok, if you could keep me up to date when
trouble does come up, and let me know who’s in the brig, it might tell me
something. Can you ‘breech security protocols’ enough to keep me
informed? I am supposed to be in charge of ship’s discipline.”
Tuvok nodded. “As you wish, Commander.”
I took a deep breath, and released it. “In that case you may
consider yourselves dismissed, gentlemen.”
It was a relief to have them out of the office. That much infighting
isn’t what I’d call a pleasant spectator sport. Particularly when you’re
already stressed.

Having started on that cheerful, upbeat note, the day continued in
the same vein. All through the morning Tuvok was busy dealing with minor
outbreaks, sending me updates on the number of Maquis currently on report,
forwarding complaints from the department heads about everything from
“poor attitude” to “refusal to comply with Star Fleet regulations”. There
was another fist fight in Neelix’s mess hall at lunch, which made me glad
I’d holed up in my ready room and made do with a cup of bullion. It was
bad enough hearing about it second hand. To have been there, and to have
had to take immediate and official notice of it — I wasn’t sure I could
have trusted myself not to have taken the “Queen of Hearts” approach, and
started heads rolling.

I kept the audio line to the bridge open that afternoon, hoping to
hear and head off any immediate disasters if I could, and had the dubious
pleasure of hearing Chakotay struggle with the arrival of one of his
former crew to relieve Wildman for the second half of shift. The
frustration in his voice would have been funny, under other circumstances.

“Soames?”
“Yes, Commander?”
“The earring isn’t regulation dress.”
“No, Commander.”
“Then why don’t you take it off until you’re off duty?”
“And if I don’t?”
“You’ll be on report.”
“Very good, Commander. In that case, I think I’d as soon be on
report, sir.”
I heard Chakotay sigh. There was a resigned resonance to it that
would have called up compassion from a stone. “Soames, I thought you were
smarter than that.”
There was a chuckle… a surprisingly fond one for a “Maquis rebel”
facing down his commanding officer. “No, you didn’t Chakotay. The last
time you thought about it you told me you were going to ask me to desert
to the Cardassians as my contribution to the war effort. I think you said
something about ‘counter-survival tactics’ being my specialty.”
There was a long pause, then Chakotay responded, his voice glum.
“See. I was right.”
I could hear the smile in Soames’ voice without needing to see it.
“Yes, Commander.”

It was less amusing when Tom Paris came to give me a report of his
own… privately. Apparently Dalby had weighed his continuing resentment
and distrust of the “traitor” against Tom’s occasional bouts of
disgruntlement, and his questionable adherence to regulation, and came up
with an answer that led him to approach my com officer with an earring…
and an invitation to “come to a meeting”… a meeting that it quickly
became apparent was to “address the issues of abuse of authority, denial
of civil rights, and discontent with the management of the ship.”
Tom was quite possibly being brought into the first stages of a
conspiracy to mutiny. He’d agreed heartily — and then quietly waited
until he had a legitimate errand to run to my ready room, and told all.
He wanted to know if I wanted him to attend, and report what occurred.
I felt like screaming.
Spy, counter-spy. We plot against them, they plot against us. We’ve
done that before, but I’d hoped we’d never have to again. There are only
132 people on board Voyager, and every one of them needs the others to
survive. A little common sense, a bit of respect for authority and
tradition, a bit more awareness that something like a mutiny left us not
with a New Order, but with a Dead Ship, and I wouldn’t have to deal with
this sort of thing. Sometimes I felt like Chakotay had presented me with
the most disreputable, undisciplined, thick-headed crew ever to set out
against the Cardassian threat. They couldn’t even bow to the inevitable
gracefully. Spies, murderers, criminals, mercenaries, and wide-eyed
“freedom fighters” with about as much common sense as a duck. The whole
group driven by the kind of people who won’t leave a colony even in the
face of incoming Cardassians, won’t respect a treaty even though it is
clearly in the best interests of the whole, and who blame the Federation
and Star Fleet when they find out that, lo and behold, the Cardassians
are, indeed, as brutal and tyrannical as advertised.
I told Tom to attend the meeting, but avoid committing himself too
deeply. If we did have to break them up, I didn’t want him with another
mark against him. It wouldn’t be in the best interests of his health to
be seen to have sold the Maquis out — again.

By the time our usual end-of-shift meeting rolled around, I felt like
a violin string stretched to just short of the breaking point, and
Chakotay looked as gloomy and cheerless as a rainy Sunday in February:
mostly cloudy with freezing rain. Sleet expected in the early evening…
He settled into his usual chair. We sat there a moment, silent. It
was tempting to take out my frustration on him. They’re *his* damned
crew, they and all the troubles they seem to bring to the ship.
I tried to calm down. “Have you been able to find out anything?”
“Not much. I’ve been tied to bridge duty. There’s only so much
tactful inquiry I can manage from the command chair. I did manage to ask
a few questions during my lunch break. The earrings were designed and
distributed by Gerron. Some of the others pitched in together to come up
with enough replicator credits to cover the cost.”
“Gerron has been a problem from the beginning.”
“Gerron’s only nineteen, and spent most of his life in a Containment
Camp. The Maquis were the first chance he ever had to fight back. And we
were the first family he really had…his own people were either dead or
lost. When he came on Voyager, he lost all that. And he’s still angry
that Tuvok took his earring.”
“What?”
“His earring…Tuvok took it during that training session , back at
the beginning. I thought you knew.”
I thought back. Two years is a long time, even though the events of
those first months were memorable.
“I knew he’d confiscated a variety of personal accessories that
weren’t regulation.”
“I’m not sure I’d call a Bajoran’s earring a ‘personal accessory.’ ”
“I’m not sure I understand. I know they have some religious meaning,
but I never thought of it as being all that critical. I bought one from a
*Bajoran* shop keeper on DS9. He seemed to think it was mostly a matter
of aesthetics.”
“Must have been a non-orthodox Bajoran. Or so broke he didn’t have
the luxury of keeping his cultural symbols off of the shop counter, when
he could count on every passing tourist and Fleet officer to buy an
‘authentic Bajoran artifact’ out of curiosity and pity. Bajorans wear the
earrings as indications of their clan and religious affiliations. They
have both a sacred and secular significance. I wouldn’t have wanted to be
Tuvok that day. He’s luckier than he knows. I’ve known a few Bajorans in
the Maquis who would kill before they’d take them off. There’ve been a
lot of Cardassians over the years who’ve found that out the hard way.”
I closed my eyes, and tried to massage away a headache that seemed to
be lurking behind my eyes. “Be that as it may, it isn’t regulation. Star
Fleet doesn’t allow non-regulation jewelry or accessories… particularly
ones that mark individuals out from the rest of the group.”
He frowned. “That isn’t true. There are plenty of folks who wear
crosses, or Stars of David.. I’ve even seen Klingon sashes and Vulcans
wearing IDIC pins. Most officers keep it low key, but cultural or
religious totems have been accepted by Star Fleet before, after some
thought.”
I thought about it. He was right. Star Fleet *does* grant
exceptions in regard to religious or cultural symbols. “I hadn’t realized
the earring was that important.” His face was politely bland. “There are
nearly two hundred member worlds in the Federation, Commander, and more
affiliate worlds. Even if I tried I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the
finer points of all of the cultures. I had a hard enough time just
getting up to speed on the more obvious political elements of the
territory conflicts since being assigned to border patrol. I hadn’t been
assigned to that detail all that long.” I sighed again. “Voyager was
supposed to be an exploratory vessel. Pure science. That *was* my
specialty, remember? If they’d originally intended Voyager to be a
cop-ship, they’d have assigned her to a cop-Captain…not a four-pip
science officer. I hadn’t had enough time to realize the earrings weren’t
as much fashion as anything.”
His eyes dropped. “No more than my medicine bag.”
The bag he never wore when in uniform, though I’d noticed it a time
or two when he was off duty, and wearing an open-necked shirt. I hadn’t
thought too much about it then. Trying a bit too hard to ignore the open
shirt, if you want to know the truth. It *really* wasn’t fair of Murphy
to send me a First Officer who is not only quirky, and Maquis, and a
captain in his own right… but male, personable, and decorative too.
Makes for a most problematic command relationship. It would have been
easier if I’d gotten something a little less flashy, more in the neutral
range; like a female Horta – now *that* would have been a snap. No
annoying moments of having to act like I’m oblivious to the obvious.
I didn’t know whether to take the comment as a clue, or a criticism.
I looked at the one earring I had kept from the pile Tuvok had
confiscated.
“So he returns us an earring for the one he’s lost. Damn it,
Commander, I can’t give way on this. Even if I’d understood what the
earring meant to him at the time, I’m not sure I could have allowed him to
keep it. It mattered too much that we become one crew. It still does.
And to give way now — it’s like giving in to a hostage situation. If we
back down on this, the demands aren’t ever going to stop.”
“If you don’t find a way to back down on anything, ever, because
you’re afraid of looking weak, you’ll fight a lot of battles that don’t
need to be fought. Give way on the ones that don’t matter, and you store
up some good will you can spend when it comes to the ones that do.”
I frowned. “You have an amazing talent for advocating the middle
way, Commander. Compromise tends to be only half-right. I’d rather be
right.”
He was silent.
I looked up. His expression was wry; amused. He wasn’t saying
something. I raised an eyebrow. “What?”
“Just that if I thought that way, we wouldn’t be sitting here.”
I sat looking at him, thinking. His mouth turned up in an almost
invisible quirk of a grin, as if to say “Well… am I right?” I sighed,
and looked down, tempted to smile myself for the first time that day.
“Point taken, Commander. I’ll take it under consideration. But I’m
afraid I’m not likely to give way on this. It cuts too close to the bone.
It would be better if you could talk some of the more sensible of your
people into seeing the point in holding to Fleet standards. At least then
we’d have a solid base to build on.”
He looked like he was was ready to argue, but I never got the chance
to hear what he was going to say. Just then the door chimed.
We looked at each other. I drew a breath, carefully relaxed shoulders
which had tightened, and cued the computer to let whoever it was in.

End pt. 2

The Red Queen’s Repose
by
Peg Robinson, c. 1996

I had to work to remember her name. One of the drawbacks to the
whole “Isolation of Command” question is it takes a long time to get to
know people you never see. I had an image of a personnel file, and the
name “D’Esperance, Madeleine”, but I couldn’t come up with anything more
than that. I would have remembered this woman if our paths had ever done
more than cross in passing. She had a memorable face. She was a
memorable person. Tall, raw-boned, with long, horsy features. Her age
was uncertain; more than middle-aged, less than old, with a weathered look
that seemed to have settled in for a long stay. Her gray hair was cut in
an unflattering close crop, almost aggressively practical. In spite of
all that there was a fierce dignity about her, and a pride. She was
*Maquis*.
She was out of uniform. Very out of uniform. Her shirt hung loose,
an explosion of vivid, patterned fabric in one of the styles popular on
the ag colonies; a fashion that goes back hundreds of years. It was
practical in European farming communities, and is just as practical on a
colony homestead. Gathered at the yoke, with room for broad movements,
full in the sleeves to allow muscles to flex, but not so full that an arm
might get caught in moving machinery. A broad, black belt; black pants in
something like wool, or one of the replicated synthetics. Knee-high boots
that didn’t have a trace of drama or mystique about them. Practical boots
for a woman who might find herself facing some strange, alien snake in the
grass. A Bajoran earring swung from her ear, the medallions brushing the
upper line of her shoulder. She was carrying a Star Fleet uniform.

She caught Chakotay’s eye as she came in, and gave him a nod. There
was something about her expression — fond, but challenging, and
dead-determined — that let me know she counted Chakotay a friend, and was
letting him know in advance that he’d better not even hope to head her off
from whatever action she had in mind.
“Ch’kotay.”
“Magda…” The plea in his voice should have melted a heart of
stone. Apparently Magda had a heart of duridium. She raised one eyebrow
and grinned wryly. When she spoke she had a rich, deep, alto voice;
smoky, and touched with a decided French accent.
“Don’t even think about it, minou. You’ll only get caught in the
crossfire. My business is with the Captain.”
She stepped up to my desk, and locked eyes with me, her head high,
examining me with unsettling intensity. She gave a small nod, as though
something about me had satisfied her. Behind her I could see Chakotay
settle back in his chair like a man expecting to have to sit through a
barrage of heavy phaser fire.
“Je m’appelle Madeleine D’Esperance. I have come to resign from Star
Fleet.”
I measured her carefully in return. She was a solid woman, and not
just physically. She looked like the sort of person you’d want beside you
in an emergency. Level headed. Steady. Reasonable. I wondered why the
hell she was pulling a stunt like this. “That’s impossible, Ms.
D’Esperance. You aren’t a member of Star Fleet. You are a civilian
crewmember serving *with* Star Fleet.”
She grinned. “In that case I have come to return this uniform, to
which I am not entitled, and which seems to have come unaccountably into
my possession.”
“I’m afraid you’ll have to keep the uniform. As a civilian member of
the crew, you’re obliged to respect the dress codes of the ship. Uniforms
are regulation attire for all members of the crew.”
“Ce n’est pas vrai. That is not true. It is a serious offense that
I wear the uniform of Star Fleet…one for which I could be tried and
punished were we back in the Alpha Quadrant. And even were it not so, it
is not the case that all civilian members of the crew are obligated to
wear this uniform. The Talaxian, Neelix, and the Ocampan, Kes, are free
of such an obligation.”
“Neelix and Kes are natives of this region of the Delta Quadrant.
They have no obligation to the Federation, and it would be inappropriate
for them to wear the uniform.”
“Ah, but I am officially a citizen of the Cardassian Empire. It is
written in your treaty, non? As such it is an act of espionage for me to
wear the uniform of Star Fleet. I could be imprisoned, deported, or even
executed. Better, I think, that I do not take such a risk. I will make
do with my own clothing.”
“The Maquis don’t recognize the treaty. By your lights you’re still
legally citizens of the Federation, or of independent affiliate worlds.”
“True. In which case I am a citizen of the independent world of New
Hope, and am again neither obligated nor permitted to pass as a member of
Star Fleet — in which institution I have not earned, desired, or sought
membership.”
“You are a citizen of the body known as “barracks-room lawyers”, Ms.
D’Esperance. Membership for which you appear fully qualified, and
admirably suited. Let’s stop this game. I need a unified crew. Among
other things that means doing all I can to reduce the obvious differences
between those members of Star Fleet who *have* sought and earned the honor
of service, and those Maquis crewmembers who have merely had the honor
thrust upon them. The uniforms are one method of reducing those obvious
differences; and as Captain I have the right to impose them on the crew,
in the interests of maintaining peace and promoting the well being of all
concerned.”
“You have the right to require that we respect the laws of the ship,
and the Federation. You have the right to require that we serve in
necessary positions in return for our continued freedom. You do not have
the right, even as Captain, to require that we pretend a loyalty we do not
have to a political body of which we are not members. To wear the uniform
is, by its nature, a statement of such a loyalty. In any case, to require
that Maquis wear the uniform of Star Fleet does not promote unity — as
the current situation should prove. It may make your Federation officers
content to see us in uniform, though judging by the behavior I have
endured from some of your more conservative crewmembers I would doubt that
it serves in that function with any real efficacy. However it does not
content the Maquis to wear those uniforms. We are Maquis. It is an
uncomfortable thing to pretend daily, for the comfort of our former
enemies, that we are not only *not* Maquis, but loyal members of Star
Fleet. I will not “pass”, Captain. I am Maquis. Accept me and my
services as Maquis, or don’t. But do not attempt to force me to play
make-believe for your comfort any longer. I will not.”
She would not. She *clearly* would not. I had a vision of Tuvok
attempting to force the woman into uniform at phaser point. It wasn’t one
of my happier imaginings. I looked past her to Chakotay. He shook his
head helplessly. I looked back at Madeleine D’Esperance. “If I permit
you to leave without agreeing to wear the uniform, what will you do?”
She smiled at me like I was a clever student who had successfully
solved a difficult calculus problem. “I will report to my duty post, and
perform my duties as a member of your crew. I pay my way. It is not
reasonable that I should expect to receive the comforts and protections of
this ship without doing my share.”
Another unhappy image: Madeleine D’Esperance waltzing in to a Star
Fleet duty assignment dressed like a wild colonist, with a Bajoran earring
in her ear, and a satisfied expression on her face, as if to say “One for
the Maquis freedom fighters…zero for the fascist, oppressive Federation
tyrants.”
“I’m afraid I can’t allow that. If you leave without agreeing to
comply with ship’s clothing regulations, you’ll have to be confined to
your quarters.”
She thought about this, and smiled. “No. I think if it is to be
that way, that I shall report to the brig. If I am to be in prison, I
would prefer to be openly in prison.”
“I’ll have one of the security officers escort you to your
*quarters*.”
“In that case, you should make clear to him that he should then stand
guard, in case I escape and invade your brig.”
“I’ll just have him place your door on a high-level security lock.”
“Very good! In that case I shall begin a fast. I would be much too
depressed to eat.”
Foiled again. I thought a moment. “I could have the holodoctor
inject you with a nutrient solution.”
“Ah, then I would have to do more immediate damage to myself. Very
tragic, but then, there it is: life is tragic on occasion.”
“If we had the room cleared of anything you could use to harm
yourself?”
“Then you would have to clear it of *me*, Captain. I know many ways
to harm myself. The Cardassians were not kind jailers. It was of some
importance that I know how to escape them… even if the escape was
unfortunately extreme.”
“If we had you sedated?”
“Then there would be little I could do. But are you truly willing to
go so far?”
I shook my head. “No. That’s no answer at all.”
Again she gave me that approving teacher’s look. “Very good, cherie.
Then shall I report to my duty post?”
“No.”
“To the brig?”
“No!”
Her eyes glittered with laughter. “Ah. Shall I have my possessions
delivered here, then? It would appear I shall be here for some time. I
might as well make myself comfortable, yes?”
I closed my eyes. I made myself a promise that someday I’d torture
Chakotay until he told me were he’d found this terrible woman… after
which, when we got home, I’d have the entire region of space declared off
limits to Federation contact. God help us, there might be more like her.
The Federation would never survive an epidemic of Madeleines. “Fine. You
want to report to the brig, report to the brig. But don’t get your hopes
up that you’ll be a martyr. I’m ordering the officers to make you
welcome, give you a cell…and leave the force fields down. I want it
clear to *everyone* that you’re there by your own choice. Do you
understand?”
She nodded, and smiled benignly. “C’est bon. Thank you, ma
Capitainne. It is better this way. It would not be so good to be a
martyr, if it could be avoided. Perhaps you shall come visit me, and we
can have tea, and talk.” She looked down at the uniform she was still
holding, and smiled gently. She turned to Chakotay. “Mon p’tit minou,
this means something to you: you have a value for it. You will, perhaps,
hold it for me? She is my captain — mais tu es mon ami, comprends?”
“Magda… Do you *have* to be more pig-headed than a Cardassian
district governor?”
“Exacte, minou.”
He sighed, and took the uniform. “I’ll hang on to it — but I’m
hoping you’ll take it back. You know where my quarters are: if you decide
to get sane all of a sudden, you can walk on by and pick it up any time.”
“I’ll remember that. Au revoir, minou. Captain, am I dismissed?”
I nodded, and she left with the same dignity she’d arrived with. The
room was silent after the door shut. I sat there, feeling like I’d gone a
couple of practice rounds of Tal Shiya with Tuvok. After a moment I
turned to Chakotay, and asked the first thing that came to mind.
“Minou?”
The word for the look he gave me is ‘baleful’. Not a word I’d use in
connection with Chakotay often, but it was definitely right. “Don’t ask.”
“Worse than ‘Chief Joseph?’ ”
“Much. ‘Minou’ isn’t something you get to like…just put up with.”
“I see.”
“No, you don’t. And if you ever do, I’m cooked. Do me a favor —
don’t look it up.”
“Is she always like that?”
“Depends on what you mean by ‘like that’. If you mean impossible to
argue with… yes.”
“Lord. How did you ever *deal* with her?”
“She usually agreed with me.”
I raised an eyebrow. “And when she didn’t?”
He sighed. “She usually won.”
“Wonderful. Do me a favor, Commander. Talk to those sensible Maquis
we were talking about, and see if you can’t figure a way to get us out of
this mess *fast*.” His face was a picture. “Don’t tell me. *That* was
the one you were going to see first, right?” He nodded. I put my head
down in my hands. “God help us all, Commander. God help us all….”

It was another white night. I kept thinking of Tom at his meeting,
Maquis and Fleet officers squabbling and jostling their way through the
shifts…and Madeleine D’Esperance sitting in the brig, sipping tea and
wearing Maquis clothes, unmovable in her refusal to wear the uniform
assigned her. Who seemed to see it as an insult to what she was.
If anything I’ve tended to feel the reverse is true; and many of my
more traditional officers feel so even more strongly. There are times
when it’s hard to think of Jonas, and Dalby, even Suder, who, for all he
redeemed himself, was never…sane, and not feel that in wearing Star
Fleet uniforms the Maquis aren’t desecrating something fine and precious.
They haven’t earned those uniforms. They placed the entire Federation at
risk as Maquis, and they place Voyager at risk too. They’re
undisciplined, irresponsible, violent: the criminals Tuvok called them.
Chakotay, B’Elanna… they’re the exceptions. While I tend to think of
them as a bit deluded, or at best too passionate about their cause to see
the cost it carried, they’re at heart *Fleet*. They have the brains, the
education, the ethics, and the discipline to serve, and serve honorably,
even if we might sometimes disagree on what constitutes honor. But they
know what that dedication means. They understand the dream. I’m usually
proud to serve beside them, share a uniform with them.
I wondered if they were as proud to share that uniform, or even wear
it. Certainly Magda didn’t seem to be proud of it.

So I tossed and turned, and made tangled ropes of the bed sheets, and
drank warm milk — and didn’t sleep for hours. The way things were going
I was the one who was going to need to be sedated. Three nights
running…
I wasn’t going to be good for anything at that rate. And when I
finally did fall asleep, I was woken up only a half hour later by a call
from Tuvok, announcing that one of the Maquis had had to be put in the
brig for publicly calling for mutiny, standing on a table in Neelix’ and
orating to the assembled fourth shift lunch crowd. The brig was beginning
to fill up. I wondered if Madeleine would accept the idea of staying in
the brig as a guard, instead of a resident. It would free up some cell
space that it looked like we might be needing.

When first shift finally arrived I was a wreck. I covered as best I
could. But inside I felt corroded; all pits, and rust, and sludge. My
eyes were open only because closing them was more effort than it was
worth. I took my seat on the bridge, nodded to Chakotay as he attempted
to stride to his office and only succeeded in shambling, and started
another fine day in the Delta Quadrant. I might have lasted there if I’d
been free to stay. An hour in Tuvok arrived, looking too dapper and alert
to live, and tensely requested that he see Chakotay and me privately. I
turned the bridge over to Tom, called Chakotay, and, as he came out, we
all processed into the ready room.

I looked at Chakotay. He looked at me. It’s hard not to resent
Vulcans. They can go days without sleep, under maximum stress, and be
none the worse for the wear and tear. A couple of middle-aged humans
don’t hold up so well. Chakotay looked like hell warmed over and served
on toast, and I was pretty sure I did too. I cocked my head towards the
replicator. “Coffee?”
“Please.”
“Any preference?”
“Strong. Black. Hot.”
“Gotcha. Tuvok?” He raised an eyebrow, and shook his head. He was
above the need for chemical stimulus, and apparently wasn’t in any mood to
play gracious guest and have something less mind altering. “Why don’t you
two settle in the lounge area? If I’m going to hear bad news I’d just as
soon be comfortable while I hear it.” I ordered up a couple of double
size, double strength espressos, and joined them, sinking into the sofa
and handing Chakotay his cup. He took a sip, pulled an awed face as the
coffee struck unprepared, defenseless nerves, then gave a contented sigh
as the first wave of heat and caffeine made itself at home. I chuckled.
“Better?”
“I *may* live. I’ll get back to you once my condition’s stabilized.”
I grinned wryly. Graveyard humor has its place. Sometimes it’s the
only way to stay sane. I turned to Tuvok. “All right. You might as well
hit us hard and fast, and have it over with. What’s today’s disaster?”
“It would appear we are going to lose the services of the majority of
the Maquis crew. At present only Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant Torres
are available to perform their duties this shift… and if the current
pattern is carried out over the other shifts, we can assume that we will
be forced to man the duty stations with only Star Fleet officers.”
“Back up. What do you mean we’re going to lose the services of the
Maquis?”
Tuvok shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “Having received your
report on your actions regarding Ensign D’Esperance, I took it upon myself
to instruct the department heads that, if any Maquis were to report to
their duty posts out of uniform, they were to be ordered to return to
their quarters and consider themselves under house arrest. All of the
Maquis appear to have heard about Ms. D’Esperance’s decision, and have
followed suit, reporting for duty in civilian dress. The department heads
have done as ordered, and sent the Maquis to their quarters. They have,
instead, chosen to report to the brig. They have *all* reported to the
brig. I don’t have enough staff to escort them to their quarters
forcibly, without resorting to violence or sedation, which I assumed you
would not want used. The results are… chaotic?”
I could imagine.
Apparently so could Chakotay. He looked like he didn’t know whether
to laugh, or run mad and bay the non-existent moon. “I’m going to regret
this, but I’ve gotta ask. What’s Magda doing about all this?”
Tuvok looked even more sour, if that was possible. I’d thought he’d
already achieved infinite acid level, but he surprised me and raised
infinity to the power of infinity. A good trick, if you can manage it.
“Ms. D’Esperance appears to have taken a page from Mr. Neelix’ book. She
has declared that, as circumstances prevent her from performing her
ordinary duties, she will do what she can to ‘alleviate’ the difficulties
in her current situation. She has declared herself the brig ‘morale
officer’. She has had the Maquis and my officers combine their resources,
has ordered a variety of comestibles from Mr. Neelix and from the
replicator… and she is serving ‘brunch’ to the assembled personnel,
including my security staff. She is also ‘making conversation’, which
appears to mean that she is asking personal questions, and encouraging
frivolity and immoderate behavior. My staff appear disconcerted.”
I was suspicious that, of all the staff, the most disconcerted was
Tuvok himself. Most of our personnel are flexible enough to give in to
the inevitable, and get what joy they can out of the situation. Tuvok,
however, would only be appalled to see his well-ordered brig reduced to a
salon, and his staff taking part in the Deltan equivalent of the Mad
Hatter’s Tea Party.
Chakotay made a small noise, tiny really; the choked-off sound of a
suppressed giggle. Apparently even grown Maquis Captains giggle, if
they’re tired enough, and stressed enough, and presented with the image of
their Vulcan “bete noir” coping with mayhem. I couldn’t quite manage to
hold it against him, though the reality was serious, in a demented sort of
way.
Tuvok, however, was not amused. The look he sent Chakotay was cold,
to say the least. Chakotay straightened his face and tried to assume a
sober, professional demeanor.
Tuvok was unimpressed. “This is hardly a matter for *humor*,
Commander. We face a serious problem in discipline.”
Chakotay nodded, with carefully enforced sobriety. “Of course,
Tuvok. Do you want me to talk to Magda? I’m sure if I explained the
situation she’d see the sense in trying to clear the brig and leave room
for the more violent criminals. She’s a practical woman, and understands
about things like the lack of cell space.”
Tuvok didn’t even stop to consider. “As you appear to have had no
effect in discouraging Ms. D’Esperance from her decision to rebel against
the Captain’s authority, I see no reason to involve you in trying to
dissuade her from her current course of action. As for your comment
regarding Ms. D’Esperance’s practicality: as I understand it, the term
usually implies an element of logic which appears entirely missing from
the Ensign’s personal makeup.”
“You worked with her well enough when you were with us, Tuvok. As I
recall she was your preferred backup at the helm.”
“At the time I was unaware of her mental instability. You seem to
have acquired a disproportionately high number of unusual personalities
when you assembled your crew, Commander. Another instance of your talent
for impetuous decisions which backfire at inopportune moments?”
I was about to reprimand Tuvok again. Whatever the hell it was about
the situation that had him thirsting for Chakotay’s blood, I couldn’t
afford the animosity between them. But Chakotay was there before I could
step in.
“Tuvok.”
“Commander?”
“Enough.”

Tuvok wasn’t ready to back down. He’s been using that sour wit of
his as a weapon against Chakotay for awhile now, and he wasn’t ready to
give it up. Chakotay held on, silent and determined. I watched. It was
strange. A moment before I’d been ready to call Tuvok to heel, angry with
him that he’d allowed whatever irritant was driving him to push him beyond
the bounds of professionalism. Suddenly the feelings switched around, and
I had to resist a desire to blast Chakotay where he sat for presuming to
reprimand *my* Security Officer…. my oldest friend, my staunchest, most
unquestionable ally – Tuvok, who was Star Fleet to the core, with no
threatening ambiguities. It was hard. I held back.
Tuvok looked to me, clearly expecting my support. I couldn’t give
it. If I took his side now, when Chakotay was demanding the respect owed
him as a superior, I’d be guaranteeing that Chakotay’d never be fully
effective if the time ever came that he had to take the command: not with
Tuvok. He was either first officer now, with all the status and power and
respect that implied — or he was nothing but a figure head. I kept my
face bland, and tried to keep from misting up at the betrayed shock in
Tuvok’s eyes as he realized I wasn’t going to intervene on his behalf.
Tuvok returned his attention to Chakotay, clearly thrown off balance
by my failure to support him. I could see the gears turning as he weighed
out the possibilities, and hoped that his logic and his training would
hold against his pride, and whatever bitterness had been driving him. At
last he drew a breath, and nodded coolly. “My apologies, Commander. That
was unprofessional and uncalled for. I withdraw my comment.”
Chakotay nodded. He didn’t smile, but the tension and determination
left his face. “Apology accepted, Tuvok. I’m sorry my former crew are
giving you hell. If you think of anything I can do to help, let me know.
If I think it’ll work, I’ll be glad to do what I can.”
Tuvok gave a tight nod, and Chakotay returned to his coffee cup,
apparently comfortable, at ease, and without any left over anger or
hostility. In which case he was the only one in the room to feel at
peace. Tuvok was clearly struggling with the magnitude of his loss, and
I…
Now that the show-down was over I didn’t know which of them I most
wanted to court martial and execute. Both of them. Tuvok for pressing
beyond the limits; Chakotay for standing up for his right to be respected
in his rank at a moment when we had enough trouble with tension between
Fleet and Maquis. I wasn’t ready to deal with another “Maquis uprising”
right then.
So there we were, Tuvok carefully avoiding eye contact with either of
us as he worked through the ramifications of the last few minutes, me
avoiding eye contact for fear I’d start a fight of my own… and Chakotay
looking sleepy, and relaxed, and more or less completely absorbed in his
coffee. At which golden moment Paris’ voice came in over the intercom.
“Captain Janeway?”
“Yes, Lieutenant?”
“Permission to deliver a report?”
“Granted.”
Tuvok, Chakotay and I exchanged quick glances, wondering what Tom had
to bring us. We were all aware of his “meeting” the evening before. It
seemed pretty likely he had more bad news for us.
After a moment Tom came in, carrying a padd, and calling over his
shoulder, “This may take a few minutes Federman. Stupid Engineering
problem. Might as well make yourself at home in the big chair, seeing as
I’ve got it all warmed up for you already”. The door swept shut, and he
approached, his expression shifting from casual to stressed in seconds.
I gestured him into one of the chairs. “This one isn’t warm yet, but
you might as well make yourself at home in it anyway, Lieutenant.”
He sat gingerly in the chair, looking uncomfortable. It’s not that
often he’s involved in a “Command meeting” this way, and I suspect the
situation rubbed him, like a new pair of shoes fresh out of the replicator
and not yet broken in. He handed me the padd. “It really *is* an
Engineering report. Stuff B’Elanna’s doing to deal with the lack of
personnel. You probably want to look it over. If I understand what she’s
saying, she’s breaking regulations right, left and center to keep things
running.”
I took the padd and put it down on the sofa next to me. “Thank you,
Mr. Paris. I’m correct in assuming that that isn’t really what you came
here for?”
“Good bet, Captain. I was going to report during my lunch break.
But the report from B’Elanna came in at the right time to give me an
excuse to come in, and since all of you were here together I thought I’d
bring you the bad news now.”
I nodded, and straightened. “How bad is it?”
“Bad. Very bad.” He looked away for a moment, then back, steeling
himself. “I went to the meeting last night, like you wanted. There
weren’t that many folks there — only thirteen, counting me. But the mix
isn’t what I expected. Captain, there were as many Fleet officers there
as Maquis. Some of the lower rankers, the ones who’re calling themselves
the ‘perma-ensigns’ these days. Mostly flunkies — but *angry* flunkies.
I’ve been ticked off a time or two since we got out here — I think
everybody has — but these folks are downright bitter. A couple of them
have families they’ve lost, a few are just furious that it’s beginning to
look like they’re going to spend the rest of their lives as ensigns, doing
the dirty jobs at the bottom of the totem pole. Most of them seem to be
the sort who thought they had golden careers ahead of them, that they’ll
never have now we’re stuck out here. The main part of the meeting was
mostly a bitch session. But it was a *scary* bitch session. Those folks
are ready to raise Cain just for the fun of it… and they seem to think
they’re only the tip of the iceberg. Just going on the first round of
stuff alone, you’re looking at a lot of trouble. The only advantage you
have is that they don’t seem to be able to agree on what they want to do,
or just what they’re angry about. Some want one thing, some want
another… They’ll trip themselves up with too many ideas, and not enough
organization.”
He trailed off, and looked down at his hands, trying to find a way to
continue. It was “encouragement time”. Whatever he wanted to say was
clearly going to take him into areas he wasn’t comfortable telling us
about.
“Thank you, Tom We needed that information, and I appreciate your
telling us. Now, what else have you found out? You aren’t breaking a
sweat because some of the crew are tired and angry… What’s the big
problem?”

End section 3

The Red Queen’s Repose
by
Peg Robinson, c. 1996

He took a deep breath, and looked me in the eye, obviously prepared
to face some real displeasure. “I’m afraid I exceeded your orders,
Captain. I know you wanted me to keep myself out of the line of fire on
this; but after the main meeting I was invited to join the ‘core group’.
The folks who put this thing together. I accepted. ” Before I could make
any comment he hurried on, trying to justify himself. “Captain, I was
never going to get a better chance to find out what *really* is going on.
The main meeting wasn’t much more than a bit of rabble-rousing — a chance
to stir folks up and test the waters. If I’d stopped there, I wouldn’t
have been telling you much you couldn’t have guessed anyway, or found out
in a few days of asking around. When they asked me to join — I don’t
care if I do end up in trouble, at least I’ve gotten what you really
*need* to know about.”
I looked from Chakotay to Tuvok. Chakotay watched Paris’ face, then
glanced at me and nodded slightly. Tuvok met my eyes, raised an eyebrow,
and also nodded. I leaned forward, and addressed Tom. “We’ll take up the
matter of your ‘initiative’ some other time, Lieutenant. For now I think
you can assume that if you found out anything crucial, you’ll probably
survive the reprimand. Tell us what happened.”
Tom looked at us all, and appeared to decide he had at least a few
hours longer to live.
“The core group is mixed too… Two Fleet officers, one Maquis. With
me, I guess the total would be two and a half Fleet, one and a half
Maquis. None of them seem to know where to place me in terms of loyalty
lines… The Fleet officers see me as Maquis, the Maquis sees me as
Fleet… but all of them see me as a line into information about your
command team, and the likely approach you’ll take to head off a
mutiny…and they all think I won’t really give a damn how it all turns
out so long as I get my cut.” His voice was bitter. “I didn’t tell ’em
otherwise, either. I still have enough of a ‘bad-boy rep’ to leave a lot
of folks thinking I’ll do anything if the payback is big enough. So I get
to be part of the ‘Gang of Four’.”
Chakotay leaned forward in the sofa, resting his elbows on his knees,
coffee cup wrapped in both hands. “Who are they, Paris?”
Paris met his eyes. “The Fleet Officers are Bintar, from Weaponry,
and Kilpatrick from down in Stellar Cartography. The Maquis is Jorland.”
“Shit.”
Tuvok, Paris and Chakotay all exchanged glances, some unspoken discomfort
running between them. Whatever it was, I had to understand the trouble.
“Why does that appear to bother you gentlemen?”
Paris and Tuvok silently ceded the floor to Chakotay, who looked less
than grateful. “Jorland’s a ‘breaker’. He came to us by way of the crime
syndicate out on the Ferengi border. He’s a good fighter, and that’s all
we usually had the chance to use him for, so I only saw him at work once:
we didn’t normally have the time to invest in the kind of thing that he
was good at. But there was one time when we *had* to take the time…
There was a regional governor who was managing to pull his people
together, and becoming a real threat to Maquis operations. Jorland spent
about three weeks, tapping into the computers, finding his way through the
system into private correspondences. He put out feelers in the local
bars, and managed to find a minor clerk who liked to gossip, and had a tap
into all the juiciest rumors. By the time he was ready to move he knew
every petty jealousy, scandal, every professional conflict in the
bureaucracy. He started planting little leaks, spreading a rumor or two
of his own with forged messages, inserted a few through the clerk, who
never *did* catch on that he was being used. He used the computer to
wreck a couple of operations, and did a great job of making it look like
the mess had been intentional on the part of a couple of different parties
who had a stake in promoting themselves and showing up the officers who’d
been in charge. When we finally pulled out he’d managed to rip the guts
out of any cohesion the governor had built over the time he’d been posted.
The end-result was a coup — a blood bath. The last I heard they were
still trying to sort out the mess. Jorland is smart, manipulative, he has
an eye for the weak spots in an organization — and the only person he
cares about is Jorland. If he’s at the heart of this, we’re in trouble.”
Paris nodded. “I never got to see him work… it was before my time.
But his rep was solid. I heard enough to know he was good. It’s worse
than just Jorland though. You can pretty much write off Zad Bintar. The
only reason they have him so near as I can tell is that he’s the one
member of Weaponry with a real mad on about being stuck here… and they
need the connection with weaponry, and through weaponry to security and
ship’s ops. But Susan Kilpatrick is a predator. I dated her a time or
two when we first got out here. If Jenny Delaney and a few of the others
in Stellar hadn’t made a point of wising me up, I never would have caught
on that she was playing me for a sucker… using me to find out what
things were like up here, trying to figure if there was any way she could
get a hand-hold to the top. She’s smooth, she’s smart, and she doesn’t
really give a damn that we’re out here, so long as she can find a way to
be top dog so long as she’s here. And she and Jorland have figured out a
good game.”
He paused, organizing his thoughts. We waited for him, none of us
looking very happy. I know I was feeling thrown off to hear Tom talk
about a Fleet officer the way he had about Kilpatrick. I didn’t know her
well; I’d interviewed her when she first came aboard though, and my
impression had been of a competent, likable woman, with a bit of a
hero-worship thing for me. It happens. Make it to command, and a lot of
the youngsters start looking to you as a sort of promise of things to
come; what they want to be. It hadn’t seemed unusual at the time. And I
tend to see Fleet officers as essentially “good”. It’s easy to forget
that even with all the sifting, and sorting, and training we have our fair
share of bad apples. But if Tom was right, Kilpatrick was the kind you
dread will make it to the Admiralty… and who far too often manage to do
so. Brilliant manipulators, with an eye to advancement.
I sighed. “Might as well get it over with. What’s the plan, Tom?”
He was getting nervous again, his eyes flickering over us all.
Whatever he had to say, he really didn’t want to say it. He’s a brave man
come crunch time, though. He continued. “As near as I can tell, the
whole thing started with Kilpatrick. Like I said, she works Stellar.
She’s had a good look at those star charts they made up from the
information we picked up from the Escher Phenomenon, and from my little
shot at transwarp. She’s thought about it a long time, and the way she
sees it, we have the strongest individual ship in this neck of the galaxy,
and the best and most thorough information about what’s out here that
*anyone* has. If she and Jorland can find a way to take the ship, they
can ‘go pro’… I think what they have in mind is a short, but impressive
career as pirates, raiding the trade routes and some of the richer and
less well defended planets. Then find some nice little backwater, set up
a kingdom of their own, and settle back to a long and tyrannical
retirement, with all the money, power, and weaponry they need to keep
their hold on the ‘ignorant savages’ on whatever planet they stake out,
and to hell with the Prime Directive. Jorland and Kilpatrick,
megalomaniacs at large. No conquest too small, no booty too
insignificant. All they have to do is figure out how to take Voyager.”
Judging by his jitters, we’d come to the heart of the matter.
‘Encouragement time’ again.
“Go on, Tom. You’re putting together an impressive picture, but we
need *all* the details… even if we won’t like them. We’ll remember that
you’re only passing on what you’ve learned. No blame to you if it isn’t
something we enjoy very much. We don’t ‘kill the messenger’ on this
ship.”
He studied our faces. I still admire Tom’s father. There were many
worthwhile things about him. But knowing Tom has shown me a side of him I
never knew. He did a lot to break that boy, not the least of which was
being too quick to judge. I think it will be a long time before Tom
really trusts anyone not to condemn him at a moment’s notice. Apparently
what he saw in our faces was sufficiently reassuring to allow him to take
the risk.
“Like Chakotay said, Jorland’s a ‘breaker’. Kilpatrick apparently
asked around, looking for a good partner, and locked onto him early.
They’ve been together for a while now, looking over the situation, looking
for an opportunity… and planning ahead, looking for a good moment to
make their move. They’ve decided that there are two clear weak points
they can use to get where they want to go. The first is the general
problem of crew unrest — both Maquis-Fleet, and the problem that *no-one*
really wants to be stuck out here for the rest of our lives. That one’s
easy to see, and easy to exploit. Last night’s meeting, and the way the
Maquis have been behaving the last couple of days, has made it clear that
there’s a lot of potential there. But the other weak point…” He licked
his lips. “I’m sorry. They’ve decided that the command team itself is
the other weak point. You, Tuvok, Chakotay. Jorland figures the three of
you haven’t really done more than set up a temporary makeshift: that
between a lot of distrust, and too much uncertainty, and professional
jealousies, you’re not going to be able to present a united front, or put
in a very good showing if they start to work on you. I don’t know just
what they have in mind — they didn’t say, and I didn’t expect them to
right away. But they were pumping me for all they could get. How well
you communicated with each other, whether you all seemed to trust each
other, whether the information exchange was purely professional, or if you
spent enough time to really get into more than the most superficial
stuff.” He dropped his eyes. “I’m afraid they liked what I passed on…
and I was trying not to give them a very clear picture.”
Tuvok, Chakotay, and I sat silent. There wasn’t much we could say.
It was clear that, no matter how loyal Tom was, he thought Jorland was
probably right. Worse, *I* thought Jorland was probably right. The
struggle between Tuvok and Chakotay over the last few days only served to
highlight an on-going problem between all three of us. I’d thought it was
a problem we could safely leave as it stood. We’ve faced disruption
before without having to close the gaps, and it had seemed as threatening
to try to make the transition as to leave it as it was. I’d been wrong,
no matter how logical or comfortable my reasons for preferring not to face
the issue.
Tom looked up and studied our faces. Whatever he saw there seemed to
hurt him; or maybe it was just that he cares about us, and doesn’t like
seeing us knocked cold and down for the count. He tried to put a cheerful
face on it.
“Hey, it’s not so bad. You know who to watch out for, you know how
they work. You have me in there ready to keep you up to date. There’s no
way the three of you can’t handle it. You want me to keep on it?”
I looked at Tuvok. He looked as uncertain as I’d ever seen him.
He’s not the sort to be told that his most strongly held biases are
putting the ship in danger, without feeling at a disadvantage. His voice
was almost tentative. “I could simply arrest Ensigns Jorland and Bintar,
and Lieutenant Kilpatrick…”
I shook my head. “No. Better we see it out a bit longer.
Particularly under the circumstances. We’d have a hard time doing it
without looking like the tyrants they want us to look like, right now. No
point in making their job any easier than it already is. And if you moved
now, there’s no way we could keep it from coming out that Tom was the one
who turned them over to us, and I’m afraid that would get him killed.
Let’s play it out, see if we can’t find another way to neutralize them;
one that doesn’t make us look like a bunch of fools or petty dictators —
and one that doesn’t implicate Lieutenant Paris.”
Tom grinned. “Thanks. I wasn’t looking forward to having to look
behind me all the time. Chakotay, you’ve kept me alive, and I appreciate
it, but there was no way you were going to be able to keep me safe if it
came out I’d scammed the leaders of last night’s meeting. So I stick with
it?”
I nodded. “I’m afraid so. I’m sorry. I’d like to see you out of
it, but you’ll actually be safer staying in the group than you would be
pulling out. Maybe we can even find a way for you to spread a bit of
useful disinformation, while you’re there. That might be a help. In the
meantime, you’ve been in here long enough to discuss that ‘engineering
problem’ twice over. Better get back to the bridge.”
He rose, and started for the door. Before it opened, he turned back.
“It’s going to be all right. Jorland and Kilpatrick may be sharp. But
you’re sharper. Just… don’t make it easy for them?”
I nodded. “We won’t Lieutenant.”
He gave a tentative smile, and left. The three of us looked at each
other.
Tuvok was the first to speak. “It would appear that we have a
problem.”
Chakotay nodded, his eyes locked to the floor between his feet.
“That’s a pretty good summation. So. What do we do about it?”
I stood, and started towards my desk. “We fix it. Damned if I know
quite how, but we don’t have any choice… and I’m not sure I’d want
another choice anyway. We’ve drifted too long on this. My fault, I’m
afraid. I suppose I kept hoping we’d get home before it ever became
crucial. But we can’t go on this way. From today on, no matter how hard,
we three are a team. No holding back, no dodging. Like you said the
other evening, Chakotay: ‘No shitting with one another.’ ”
Tuvok and Chakotay looked at each other; looked at me…
I could see the uncertainly in their eyes. Chakotay looked like a
man who’s trying to believe in the tooth fairy. I couldn’t blame him for
that. He’s been stuck hovering for two years. It must be hard to believe
you’re going to be allowed to drop your landing struts when you’ve been up
in the air that long.
Tuvok simply looked reluctant. For us to become a real command team
would mean he’d give up some power he’s hung on to as the only weapon he
has against what he sees as the threat of the Maquis… a threat Chakotay
embodies. Tuvok’s been comfortable as my closest advisor, comfortable as
the voice of the Fleet. He’ll lose some of that if Chakotay’s fully
integrated into the team.
I was uncomfortable myself. There’s been a certain safety in leaving
Chakotay as odd man out, letting him and Tuvok bicker and push at each
other. If I live up to my own decision, I’ll have to find a way to allow
Chakotay into my command fully… and I don’t know how the hell I’ll deal
with that. He does make me feel like I have a wild card at my side, no
matter how hard he’s tried to keep a low profile and not rock the boat.
But the truth is, he’s been loyal, no matter what the provocation.
My comfort wasn’t the issue. The survival of the ship, and the
unification of the team was. I sat down at my desk and looked across the
room at them.
“Well. It isn’t something we’re going to work out in the next few
minutes. And we have a lot on our plates as it is. Why don’t we talk
about it over the next few days, and see what we can work out? In the
meantime, we’ll deal with the immediate issues. Tuvok, I know you’ll find
this difficult, but let the issue of the uniforms, and the invasion of
your brig stand for now. As long as all they’re doing is going around in
civvies and drinking tea in the brig, it isn’t exactly a security
emergency — and I’d like to *keep* it that way. Just put up with it.
What I’d like you and Chakotay to do is pool information and see if you
can’t come up with a plan for dealing with Jorland, Kilpatrick, and Bintar
without setting off a blood bath. Chakotay, you know Jorland. Tuvok, you
have the security files, and the background to know how this sort of thing
has been handled before. Between you, you should at least be able to come
up with a few courses of action. And I’ll see what the hell I can come up
with that will satisfy the Magdas on ship without giving up the Fleet
structures we have in place, and without loosing too much face. That
ought to be enough to keep us all busy for the rest of the day anyway. Do
the two of you have anything to add?”
Chakotay put his cup down on the coffee table, and looked up at me.
“Do you want me to talk to Magda? I know Tuvok wasn’t thrilled about the
idea,” his eyes flicked to Tuvok, and back when Tuvok indicated that he
wouldn’t fight on the issue again, “but Magda really is steady. If she
thought she was putting the ship at serious risk by doing what she’s
doing, she’d back down in a minute.”
I shook my head. “No. Thank you, Commander, but I think if anyone
talks to her it will have to be me. She said it yesterday, this is
between her and the Captain. I don’t know what I’ll say… but I’ll talk
to her myself. You’re *sure* she isn’t ready to take it all the way to
mutiny?”
Chakotay nodded. “Certain. She’s a fighter… but she isn’t an
anarchist, or suicidal, and she isn’t out to rule the world. Or even the
ship. She’ll see reason, if you give her the chance.”
I leaned on my desk; feeling my wieght in my palms; weary,frustrated.
“Well, that’s something. Anything else for now, gentlemen?” They shook
their heads. “Good. In that case, I think I need time to think.
Dismissed.”
They left silently, exchanging tentative, speculative glances, and I
allowed myself to drop into my chair. I hoped, whatever else they did,
they’d find some way to start working out their differences. Tuvok and I
are a solid team. The problem’s a matter of Tuvok and Chakotay, me and
Chakotay… and how we’ll balance those three relationships. It would
help if I could count on them to work out some truce of their own, and
leave me free to work out the issues between Chakotay and me, and the
balance of power for the team as a whole, without having to serve as
moderator between the two of them as well. Before the last story circle
I’d have bet they’d manage it. They’d seemed well on the way to some sort
of friendship, even if it had been a cautious, tentative one. Since the
circle, and the Maquis unrest, I wasn’t so sure.
I wished I’d had time to talk to Tuvok, and see if I could pin down
what had bothered him so deeply.
I’ve never quite believed the line that Vulcans have no feelings.
They have them. But Tuvok wouldn’t have allowed himself the latitude
of…annoyance…unless he had believed he had an overriding
justification. Something to do with the circle,maybe, or with the results
of the circle. I wasn’t sure, and didn’t have time to ask… or any
certainty that Tuvok was at a point where he could tell me.
Maybe if the two of them had to work together they’d find their own
way back to stable ground. I hoped so.
I didn’t get as far as I would have liked trying to work my way
through our problems that afternoon. I skipped lunch, holing up in the
quiet of the ready room, grateful that there were no more major
disruptions. But even with the reprieve, and the time alone, I didn’t get
far in resolving anything. Jorland and Kilpatrick could only be
neutralized by either getting rid of them, which I couldn’t think of any
ethical way to do, or by closing up the chinks in our armour, leaving them
no weaknesses to exploit The best I could come up with was to find a way
to head them off for awhile, and hope we could use the time we bought to
eliminate our own weak points.
The team — we’d have to work on that. The same held for most of the
problems with the crew. A long-term project, and one to address together;
or at least Chakotay and I would have to address it, and Tuvok would have
to be willing to support whatever we did. Tuvok isn’t the man I’d choose
to attempt social engineering, but he could be an important advocate, if
only because his loyalty to the ‘Old Order’ is unquestionable. If he
could support changes it would carry a weight with some of the more
hard-nosed Fleet crew that no effort on my part, and certainly no effort
on Chakotay’s part, could.
That still left the one area I could address myself… and could
address immediately.

When shift ended, I went to my quarters and changed into the green
I’d worn the first time I went to the circle. I’m afraid I felt in need
of the armour clothing can provide, and I didn’t want the armour of
“uniform”. If this situation was going to be resolved, it was going to
have to be resolved between Kathryn and Madeleine, not between Captain
Janeway and the upstart Maquis. At least the green made me feel like a
person. I added the beads, and gave myself a quick once-over in the
mirror. Not bad. Middle-aged, but that’s more-or-less inescapable these
days. At least I looked respectable, and human. I considered letting my
hair down, and decided I didn’t feel like being *that* informal. I wasn’t
ready to let go of dignity to quite that extent… not when I was going to
be coming too close to groveling for mercy as it was. I was ready to
allow Madeleine D’Esperance the moral victory by going to her cell to
plead for a truce: Mohammed going to the mountain. I was ready to give
ground and allow her her way in regards to the uniform. To insist on
holding that line now would be suicidal, with all the Maquis aware of the
issue, and Jorland and Kilpatrick doing the “buzzard boogie” overhead,
looking for an opportunity to feast.

I wasn’t ready to give her more, though. If she wanted to see me bowed
down, she’d be waiting a long time. A woman needs her pride.

The entry area of the brig isn’t much more than a blank room.
There’s a room to one side; Tuvok’s secondary office. There’s a room to
the other side for guests waiting to visit prisoners. There’s a hall at
the back of the room leading to the holding cells, the entry usually
closed off by a two-tiered force field. In front of the hall is a desk
for the guard standing “booking” detail — a soft job most days, when
there’s no-one in the cells, and no-one to be booked.
The force fields that normally shimmer across the hall were missing,
and the job of “booking” guard… well, I won’t say it was a soft duty
that day; but it was clear from the look on the face of Ensign Klauss that
it was peculiar, to say the least. She wasn’t exactly unhappy… the cup
of tea, the plate of cake, and the attractive young Maquis sitting on the
edge of her desk looked pretty welcome, in fact. But she was definitely
harried, and when I came in she grumbled “Oh, no… not another of you…”
before she registered that the woman in green was her Captain, not a
Maquis — at which point she nearly fell all over herself coming to
attention. The tea would have spilled if Verrier, the Maquis, hadn’t
caught it as it skidded towards the edge of the desk. He shot me a
suspicious glance, but didn’t say anything. Didn’t come to attention
either, though.
I smiled at Klauss. “As you were. I’ve just come to visit with Ms.
D’Esperance. I believe if you check the guest list, you’ll find I’ve been
invited.”
Klauss actually blushed… not a common trait among Tuvok’s security
staff, but understandable under the circumstances. “Go right on in,
Captain… every one else has. I mean, I’m sure she’ll be glad to see
you. I mean…”
I sighed. “I know what you mean, Ensign. Don’t worry. I know it’s
hard to make the conversion from being a guard to a butler in, what, less
than an hour since you’ve gone on duty?” She nodded. “Don’t worry about
it. Even Tuvok’s rattled at having the brig turned into a conversation
room. No reason I can see that you shouldn’t be. The Delta Quadrant is
full of the unexpected, I’ll say that for it.”
She smiled. It was tentative, a bit shaky around the edges, but she
seemed comforted that “The Captain” wasn’t upset. If I wasn’t, then maybe
it was all right if she didn’t get too wound up herself. I walked past
her and Verrier, and into the hall beyond.

It was a sight. The last time I’d seen so many of the Maquis
gathered together in one place it had been in the Caretaker’s med hall,
and at the time they’d been out cold and pinned to tables like so many
butterflies in a museum collection, not on their feet, milling and
mingling, Bajoran earrings swinging. Even Kurt Bendara’s memorial service
hadn’t brought so many out of the woodwork. There are only 38 Maquis
aboard — it wasn’t a very big ship, even considering the fact that they
didn’t usually stay out in deep space for long. And at that, they’d been
packed like tribbles in a grain bin.
The majority of them were there in my brig. The only ones missing
were third shifters who weren’t ready to wake up so early, even for the
excitement of a tea and rebellion party, and fourth shifters who weren’t
ready to stay up so late for the same. But there were still at least 25
or 26. Jorland was there. I’d looked his file up that afternoon, to
refresh my memory, and had been surprised just how unassuming and
unmemorable he looked. That was even more true in person. A quiet,
ice-pale, mild little white-mouse of a man; no-one you’d ever take for a
threat. I avoided his glance, not wanting to cue him in to the fact that
I was aware of his activities, but I could see him out of the corner of my
eye, watching my every move as he calmly and casually sipped his tea.
B’Elanna was there too, the only Maquis in uniform. The poor girl looked
at her wit’s end. I don’t know what she’d been putting up with before I
came, but she was pressed up to the wall behind Madeleine, as though the
older woman were a defensive barrier between her and her old crewmates.
When I came in she gave me a wild-eyed glance that begged for
understanding. I gave her a vague smile, trying to reassure her without
drawing any more attention to her than I could manage. If the looks I was
getting from the majority of the Maquis there were anything to go by, she
couldn’t have been having a very good time being associated with “Star
Fleet” in that room. I felt downright intimidated, with the
scalp-prickling feeling of my hair trying to stand on end. Before I could
make a move to deal with it though, Madeleine went into action.
It was a masterful performance. I’ve seen the like at diplomatic
functions and Admiralty dinners, but never before in a Star Fleet brig.
She swept forward from the back of the room, graceful as a ship powering
into impulse, her lanky, angular body suddenly splendid. Her smile was
blinding, and there was no sign it was less than sincere. I was glad the
hall was long; it gave me a moment to prepare myself for her arrival —
and a good thing, too. She wrapped me in a hug that, if less than that
you’d expect of a mother greeting a child given up for dead, was certainly
more personal and fond than that you usually see between opposing parties
in a political struggle. I haven’t been hugged like that since the last
time I went home to see my family, and got blindsided by my Aunt Miranda.
The kiss that followed was almost anti-climactic. She slipped her arm
around my shoulders, and began leading me back to where she had been
holding court, chatting as though we were dear friends.

End section 4

The Red Queen’s Repose
by
Peg Robinson, c. 1996

“Kathryn! I’m so glad you were able to come see me, after all!
Shoo, shoo, mes enfants. Kathryn and I wish to talk, and you are all de
trop. No, Phillipe, mon p’tit, I do *not* need you to stand so close.
Kathryn, this is le p’tit Phillipe… he is a good boy, but too
protective. Phillipe, you do *not* need to hover so. She is notre
Capitainne, not a Cardassian with a fetish for filling his dungeons with
old plow horses like me.”
“Le p’tit Phillipe”, who, so far as I know, usually gets by in the
world with no more than just plain “Phil Aimes”, looked as puzzled as poor
Kluass out at the desk. Obviously reality was warped for more than just
me and my Fleet personnel that day.
Madeleine looked around the hall, and gave an exaggerated sigh of
disgust. “C’est impossible. Kathryn, we cannot have a tete-a-tete
here… it is like trying to make love in a public shuttle. Loud and
distracting.”
I picked up my cue — or hoped I did. “Perhaps if we used the office
off of the main entry?”
She shook her head vigorously. “No. I will not. Already I impose
on the cher Tuvok’s good will beyond endurance. I will not further
intrude by taking over his private office. Non, there is only one
answer.” She clapped her hands, and the room, already near silent at my
entrance, went totally quiet. Madeleine didn’t seem put off by the
breathless stillness though, or by the eyes watching her. “Mes enfants,
you must take the party elsewhere. Perhaps to the good monsiuer Neelix’?
I have been the good hostess for *hours* now, and I grow tired, and would
talk quietly with a friend.” And without any sign that she doubted they’d
cooperate, she turned back to me, with a smile so genuine it could have
passed for latinum at a Ferengi Currency Exchange. “May I get you a cup
of tea, Kathryn? Eh? Perhaps I should say; it is not ‘tea’, precisely.
Another of the good Neelix’ substitutes, but one of his better ones. And
the little cakes he has sent are magnificent! Allow me to serve you some
before these beasts clear away all the treats.” She no sooner said that
than her court began ruefully gathering up plates, glasses and cups, and
clearing and wrapping food, preparing to return the table that was to one
side of the hall to its original home in the outer ‘waiting room’. I
watched as the hall suddenly began to resemble a brig again, rather than a
garden party, and wondered what I had to do to get that much cooperation
from my own people. The Maquis appeared positively embarrassed that they
hadn’t been able to read Madeleine’s mind, and predict her desires in
advance. It occurred to me suddenly that Mzee Nyota would probably
approve of her command style.
Madeleine smiled at me. “You will excuse me for a minute. I must
say good bye to my guests, and see them off content.”
I nodded, and watched as she slid graciously into the crowd of
Maquis, touching a hand here, a shoulder there, smiling happily into
baffled, bewildered faces. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, but
judging by her laughter, and the amused glances she gave them, and the
confused looks they sent my way, she was doing a convincing and unexpected
job of conveying to the Maquis that I was a welcome and honored guest in
the house of rebellion. I hoped I managed to look less confused than they
did. I hadn’t been expecting to be attacked on sight, but I hadn’t been
expecting to be taken into her arms, and greeted like a beloved friend or
daughter either. I sipped my tea, nodded politely to the occasional
Maquis who slipped past me collecting the last of the dinnerware, and
watched as the hall emptied.
When the last of the “guests” evaporated, Madeleine turned to me, her
“stage presence” dissolving, only to be replaced not with the cautious
alertness I expected, but with a casual, conspiratorial intimacy. Her
chuckle warmed the room. “Eh, you did well, but you will have to work on
it a bit. The face was good, but the body… your shoulders give you
away. They go tight, like you expect a fight. If you were wearing that
uniform of yours you’d telegraph your discomfort to all the world. A good
thing you came as you did. That shirt would hide a lot from most who
would care to look. Come. The cot in the cell is not so comfortable as
it might be, but it’s better than standing.”
I followed her into the cell, and sat gingerly on the edge of the cot.
She curled herself cross-legged on the other end, and smiled at me.
“So, p’tite. You came.”
I nodded, not at all sure where to start with this strange woman.
She laughed, and I knew my face had given me away. “Cherie, I’m not
so bad. Ask Chakotay.” She grinned. ” ‘I am but mad north-north west.’ ”
I stopped with my cup half way to my mouth. She laughed again. “You
thought perhaps I didn’t read? An unlettered Maquis?”
I sighed. “Pushing it too far, Madeleine. The Federation’s education
system pretty well ensures no ‘unlettered’ anything these days, Maquis or
otherwise.”
“I know. I was a teacher. Perhaps you didn’t know?” Her eyes
glittered, a foxy, cheerful grin on her face.
I shook my head. “No. I looked up your security file, but there
wasn’t much in it. Intelligence has no record of you before you joined
the Maquis, Tuvok hadn’t discovered anything about you before we were
pulled here… and if Chakotay knows, it wasn’t one of the things he was
telling, though why he wouldn’t I can’t see. It isn’t exactly a strike
against you.”
Her eyes were suddenly sad. “He doesn’t know. None of them know
much about me. When I came to the Maquis I became ‘Madeleine
D’Esperance’. I had no desire at the time to be ‘Madeleine Rodier.’ She
was dead. It seemed better she lie in peace, and her past with her. Her
family was lost, her life was destroyed, her world held captive… all she
had ever worked for was gone. It seemed fitting that she be gone too.
Madeleine D’Esperance at least had something to live for, even if it was
only the overthrow of the Cardassians. A small thing to live for, petty
and vengeful perhaps, though it seems justice to me even now. But it was
all that was left to me, and it had a pride of a sort.” She turned away a
moment, her face unreadable. Then she looked back . “Tell me, Captain.
Was it hard to come here, without your uniform, and your pips, and face
the eyes of the Maquis?”
I nodded. “Yes.”
Her smile was lopsided. “Bon. I am sorry. But you had to see. It
is what we have faced every day these two years. The uniforms do not hide
what we are from the eyes of the Fleet, cherie. No more than that lovely
green hides what you are from the eyes of the Maquis. And to wear that
uniform… it is defeat. Perhaps more so than for you to come here
without your rank and office. We wear the uniform of *enemies*, Kathryn.
We wear your uniform, we follow your rules, we tolerate the looks, we live
with the scorn and the lack of respect for what we were. We do our work
as well as we are able, knowing we will never rise beyond the rank of
ensign. We listen to the talk around us, hear the word ‘Maquis’ used as
though it meant ‘dirt’.”
“That’s not true. My officers have done everything they can to
accept you. It isn’t exactly easy. Most of you don’t have the training,
the skills, the discipline. And don’t pretend there aren’t as many
mercenaries and criminals among you as there are heroes and martyrs. You
chose your course. You chose to stay on the colonies when the treaty went
into effect, even though the Federation was ready to pull you out, give
you new lands. You chose to fight, when you could have simply come back.
And you chose to fight as criminals, *with* criminals. Is it so
surprising sometimes some of us see you as criminals? ”
“Who is the criminal, cherie? The colonist who, after thirty years
farming the land on a colony opened up by the Federation; believing the
promises of the Federation that that land, that farm, will be protected
from the Cardassians, cannot let go when the promise is taken back? The
border has been disputed for over forty years. Tell me, if you can: why
does a government open up colony worlds in territory under dispute? Why do
they encourage settlement in places that are at the edge of conflict?”
There was a text book answer. I gave it, reluctantly. “To secure the
territory and establish sovereignty over the contested region. To ensure
support of military operations by the civilian population. To ensure a
rear-guard action on the part of an underground in the case of set-backs
or forced retreat.”
She nodded soberly. “The Federation used us, cherie.”
“You used the Federation in return. None of you went in blind. You
knew the territories were contested.”
“We did not have so much choice. You think we were so rich, so
powerful we could choose any land available? If so we would not have
chosen a contested border, on the edge of a war. Chakotay’s people, they
were not on Dorvan because they wanted to be caught up in conflict. But
there is little choice when one is poor but to take that which is cheap,
available, that which your government will make it easy to acquire.
Governments know this. They know that the ones who will take the offering
will be those too weak to find a better way. The expendable ones.”
The bitterness in her voice was incredible. I was glad I’d only
nibbled the cake she’d served me earlier, and skipped lunch. My stomach
was roiling. I wanted to refute her argument, but there was too much
truth to it to turn it aside entirely. I did the best I could anyway.
“The Federation doesn’t choose to make any citizen “expendable”. Even in
this day and age, there are economic and political realities that can’t be
avoided. The colonies have to be cheap and supported to bring anyone in
at all. There’s no way after that to make sure that the people who settle
them won’t be those at some kind of disadvantage when it comes to
competing for more desirable worlds. But there was never a *plan* to
discard you, or leave you to the Cardassians; and when it became
necessary, the Federation did all it could to ensure your safety and see
to making reparations.”
“And when you ordered us to leave, because it had become necessary,
we were to accept that we were of less importance than all the rest of the
population. Again, for the expedience of the many, we were to allow
ourselves to be used. ‘The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the
few.’ It sounds very fair, very sensible… until you find that, one way
or another, you keep finding yourself one of ‘the few’. No, cherie. It
was necessary that your Federation make its treaty, and betray thirty
years of promises of protection. It was just as necessary that we refuse
to be ‘the few’ again. And when the Cardassians came, and gnawed at us
like hungry dogs, it was necessary that we fight for ourselves, as those
who promised to fight for us found it ‘expedient’ to forget that the
Treaty was supposed to ensure the protection of those who stayed behind.
When the knights and their banners retreat, there is nothing for the
peasants to do but pick up their pitchforks and do battle as best they
can, with whatever allies they can bring to them.”
“Allies? Mercenaries, criminals, cut-throats. You chose to fight
with them. Is it so unreasonable that you be judged by your allies?”
“We did not choose to fight with them… they chose to fight with us.
If the Federation had lived up to its commitments, either by refusing to
give up our homes, or by protecting us once the Treaty went into effect,
we would have been fighting beside each other, Captain. Instead you
hounded us no less than the worst of the Cardassians, and left us with
no-one to turn to but the ‘criminals’ you speak of so disdainfully. But
they were more true allies than your Star Fleet, with your uniforms, and
your rules, and your expedience. We took what help we could get, and gave
our gratitude and our loyalty where it was earned. The cut-throats at
least could be counted on to stand by their contracts. And they never
defined the Maquis. The Chakotays never defined us either, though they
were more welcome than the cut-throats. Better trained, more reliable,
willing to give up all they had been, all they knew, to do what they
believed right. But for all the help they have given, they are no more
the heart of the Maquis than the criminals. *I* am the definition of the
Maquis, Captain. Me, Gerron, Chaim and Cherrol. Phillipe. Jennet.
Colonists. Refugees from Bajoran camps. We are the peasants with the
pitchforks. The ones left with nothing but battle, because the only way
left to us that gave us ‘peace’ was to willingly accept defeat and
‘expedience’.”
“Chakotay once said the work of the Maquis was ‘killing Cardassians’.
That’s not exactly a noble employment. Was it so much to ask that you
take peace, even at a loss, and refuse to make killing your vocation?”
She looked at me. There was a firm patience in her eyes like the
patience of trees, or of stone. Something that could outlast the
centuries. “Tell me Captain — in my place, would you have chosen peace?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. I like to think I would. But I wasn’t
there. I’ve never had to make that choice.”
“I have. It wasn’t easy. Not at first. My Andre and I argued long
before we chose to stay. I would have gone with the others, when the ship
came to take us, though it meant the destruction of thirty-two years work.
We had held our farm since the colony was established. I had taught the
colony’s children there. My second baby, my Marie, was buried there,
under a maple we grew from the seed of one at my mother’s house in Quebec.
Even then, I would have left, though I was bitter that I had to choose,
bitter that *my* home was the one to be sacrificed, the work of my
lifetime the ‘expendable’ thing that the Federation would discard in the
name of expedience. But Andre, he believed that the Federation would
stand up for the rights granted us by treaty, and he had too much at stake
in the land. My investment was in the children, and many of them were
already gone, either years before, to colleges, to other worlds, to *Star
Fleet*; or on the ship ahead of me, crying over all they were leaving.
But children always go on without you; it is to be accepted, and I had
accepted it long since. The land… that is supposed to stay. You cannot
beam a farm up with you when you abandon a colony. So we stayed. After
that, after the Cardassians came, the choices suddenly became easy.”
I thought of the stories that had been told at Chakotay’s circle.
They had been nightmares, tragedies. But they had been made impersonal
somehow; perhaps by the fact that the tellers themselves were too aware of
the event as a “performance”, perhaps because there had been too many of
them, the weight of them all at once too much for my mind to take in.
Perhaps it had just been that I was too distracted by the trouble I saw
building as they came together. Madeleine and I sat alone in an empty
brig cell, and talked; and it was personal.
It would have been nice to turn away. I couldn’t.
“What happened, Madeleine?”
She shrugged. “Nothing that hasn’t happened a thousand times before
in the history of the universe. A thousand times before even in the
history of humanity. They came. They took land, took our rights. They
killed on mere suspicion, questioned with torture. Punished for no more
than a look misliked. My Andre… he died for no more reason than that he
was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had gone to the store to get
a new shovel. He was talking with a neighbor. He didn’t know that the
Cardassians had concluded, perhaps rightly, that the neighbor was a member
of the new resistance group, one we had barely even heard rumored at the
time. ‘The Maquis’. An officer came to arrest him, and seeing Andre in
conversation decided that Andre, too, was Maquis. When Andre protested,
the officer shot him. I think it was only intended to stun, but Andre was
not so young anymore. He had a heart attack, and died.” She closed her
eyes. “After that, there was no peace for me or mine. They took my
children, my Minette and her babies, Jean and his wife Marie-Claire, my
granddaughter, Eve. I don’t know even now if they are alive in a camp, or
dead. I probably never will know, even if we return. The Cardassians
hide their records well when they choose. The end came when they came to
my school. I still taught the children who were left. They came and took
the children, and there was nothing I could do. Nothing that didn’t put
the children in even worse danger than they were just being in Cardassian
hands. They left the school empty, and left me to tell the parents that
their children were gone, hostage to their good behavior as citizens of
the Cardassian Empire. I told them. I held the ones that cried.
Suffered the anger of the ones who spat in my face for having lost their
children. And that night I buried the last of Madeleine Rodier, and
became Madeleine D’Esperance.” She closed her eyes, face tight and set,
and I knew that behind her control was a grief and rage I could barely
even begin to compass.
After a moment she opened her eyes again, and met my own with a
steely, unflinching certainty. “I have killed many Cardassians. I would
do so again. It is not so good a thing to be proud of, but it is what I
have left: that I did what I could to make it difficult for Cardassians to
destroy my people. As pride goes, it will have to do.” She looked calmly
at me. “I will not allow you to take that pride, Captain. You do not
have to agree with me. I can even understand that you do not. But I am
Maquis, I am proud to be Maquis, and I will not pretend otherwise. Until
you understand that, you will make mistakes — mistakes that could destroy
you, and destroy your command. I will be Maquis no matter what you do.
It is up to you whether I will be a criminal because you have left me no
other role that still leaves me Maquis, or whether you will find some way
to allow me to be Maquis and still be a ‘good citizen’ of Voyager. Leave
me my pride, my identity, my self-respect, and I will be as good a citizen
as any of your fine Star Fleet officers. Take that away, and I will
fight. And the next time I may not chose to fight with laughter.”

End section 5

The Red Queen’s Repose
by
Peg Robinson, c. 1996

I put the empty cup down on the bed, studying her face carefully.
“You were a teacher…”
“You begin to see.”
“You’ve been doing this to “teach” me.”
“D’accord. Better you learn from someone who means you well,
Kathryn. It could have been a bitter lesson. Instead it is tea and
cakes, and a chance to see what it is to be despised… and still return
safe to your uniform and pips. A Masque.”
“I don’t like to have my buttons pushed, Madeleine.”
“Would you not prefer your buttons pushed, than your neck broken when
you manage to convince even the best of the Maquis that there is more
honor with the Jonases and Dalbys than in trying to bow down and follow
you and Chakotay into submissive serfdom?”
I thought of Jorland and Kilpatrick, ready to capitalize on just that
sort of bitterness. I sighed. “Maybe. But it goes down hard. And your
timing is terrible. The last thing I need right now is someone rousing
the Maquis. Madeleine, why now? It’s been two years. Couldn’t you have
moved sooner, or later? It was bad enough with just the earrings, and…
and other problems.”
She was suddenly alert, but she answered anyway, all the while
studying my face. “It was *because* of the earrings, Captain. That would
be trouble.. it could have been tragedy. I decided I would rather have a
comedy. So I decided to seize the moment, and direct the play as *I*
liked it. In other hands it could have been a very different matter.”
Her face was sincere. Weathered, long-boned, never “pretty”. But
honest and clever… and kind. It crossed my mind again that Uhura would
have delighted in this woman, with her strength, her laughter, her
craftiness and her grace. I realized that somehow I was coming to like
her, and trust her; in as peculiar and unexpected a way as I trust
Chakotay. It was a gut thing, but I made a decision, hoping against hope
I wouldn’t regret it. I began to tell her about Jorland, and Kilpatrick
and Bintar. About Tuvok and Chakotay and me, and the ragged excuse for a
command team we’d managed to patch together out of expedience and hesitant
trust and distrust. As she listened I wondered if Chakotay’d ever sat
with her like this, trying to find a way to make some forlorn, last-ditch
effort come together out of nothing. If he hadn’t he’d been missing a
golden opportunity. She followed everything I told her, quick to
understand, slow to comment, but clearly engaged. When I was done, she
leaned back against the wall of the cell. “Eh. Now *that* is a problem.
Cherie, now you see why I did as I did. If you don’t find a way to make
the Maquis your own, if you don’t find a way to make your crew truly one
people, it takes little for such as Jorland, and your Kilpatrick to shake
you from your throne.”
I leaned back myself, feeling oddly relaxed. Relaxed in a way I
don’t think I’ve felt since my Academy days, when we’d sit in the dorms
and shoot the breeze till all hours, with nothing more to worry about than
flunking a pop quiz the next day. “I thought that was what I was doing
with the uniforms. Making us one crew.”
She moaned. “Cosmetics. Like trying to put a tiger in a sweater and
declare it a sheep. No. If you are to make one crew of us, it can’t be
Fleet alone, or Maquis. You’ll have to make something new of both
together, like you and Chakotay and Tuvok must make a new command team
that is all of you.” She smiled suddenly. “Have you looked at my earring,
Kathryn?”
I made a wry face. “Magda, I’ve already seen at least twenty of the
things by now. At least. I can’t say I’ve been all that interested in
looking at another.”
She chuckled. “It will not do. You must learn to notice the
differences, or you’ll never find the similarities. A Bajoran earring, a
real Bajoran earring, is unique. No two quite alike, though they all use
many of the same symbols. Now this is not a real Bajoran earring, no more
than those Gerron made, for all the boy is Bajoran himself. But it *is*
unique.” She reached up and removed the earring, and held it out to me,
letting it drizzle into my palm when I reached out for it. I looked at it
closely.
It was indeed different. Not the same thing I’d seen on my desk in
the slightest, other than meeting the general form and pattern all Bajoran
earrings seem to take.
There was a large central disk over the post, and across it flew a
wedge of geese; tiny, mere silhouettes, but still crisp enough that the
form was unmistakable: short wings, heavy oval bodies, long necks
straining out ahead of them, with delicate heads leading the way in their
flight. A wedge making the same arrowhead as Star Fleet’s own symbol.
Trailing behind, single file, like the shaft behind an arrow, came a
broken chain of more geese. I’d seen formations like that in autumn,
their cries filling the air as they passed through the Massachusetts skies
over my grandmother’s home on their way along the long migration routes
from summer grounds to winter grounds. There were three medallions, like
Gerron’s had had, but each bore a beautiful, stylized Canadian goose on
one face. One peered bewilderedly at an arrowhead at its feet, another
pecked disconsolately at a chain draped across its neck. The third, wings
bated and hissing, stood alone, but the arrow and chain showed up in the
barring across his chest. On the reverse of each medallion was a stylized
arrow, with a barred shaft.
The chains trailing from the cuff to the stud, and from which the
medallions hung, were different too. They were not one, but two chains
twisted together. One was the flat link of Chakotay’s chain. The other
was a delicate arrowhead link, each link cast and feeding into the next, a
row of Star Fleet symbols stacked head to tail, wrapping around the flat
linked chain like ivy around a twig.
I shook my head, puzzled. “It’s beautiful… but why geese? I mean,
I see that you’ve put the Maquis symbols with the Fleet symbols… But
*geese*?”
She laughed. “You don’t know your French, cherie. That’s what we
are. What we call the birds of passage. ‘Les Voyageurs.’ Nous sommes
les voyageurs. Not Fleet, not Maquis. Les Voyageurs, nothing more.”
I smiled, and ran the tip of my finger over her earring. It was a
good thought. Birds of passage. A migrating flock, winging our way home.
When I was a girl I’d seen the flocks cover the lake by Gran’s house
like a blanket, hooting and honking in companionable comfort. They’re
beautiful birds… and strong. They nearly died-out for a while, but they
came back, and now they fill the skies each year, sure and certain, making
their migration with the unerring deliberation they’ve shown for all the
time man’s known them. Everywhere is home, home is where they are… but
there’s always a *special* home to fly to, too; worth the long flight.
“I like it. And it gives me an idea.”
She laughed then. “I thought perhaps it might.”
We waltzed out past a confused Ensign Klauss, took over Tuvok’s
office, ordered up more tea, and began to plot.

I wish I had a recording of the look on Gerron’s face when he
answered his door chime to find Magda, “Maquis Rebel of the Delta
Quadrant”, and Captain Kathryn Janeway, “Star Fleet Purist” standing
laughing in the corridor together. It was priceless. I don’t think it
had ever been brought home so clearly to me just how *young* the boy is.
There’s something about a young man in utter confusion, thrown off of his
certainties, that appeals and appalls at the same time. The poor kid
didn’t look like he knew whether to run hide, or scold us for not having a
better understanding of our assigned roles in his world. He blinked,
scowled experimentally, gave it up for a lost cause, and looked forlornly
at Magda.
“Magda-a-a-a…. ”
I nearly fell over. It had the same helpless, hopeless, pleading
note that Chakotay’s had held when she sashayed into my office the day
before, and I suddenly suspected that Magda’s life had been filled with
baffled men sorrowfully begging her to leave their lives intact and
comfortable… and knowing she’d do nothing of the sort. I wondered if
her Andre had said the same, if her son Jean had whimpered a confounded,
embarrassed “Mama-a-a-a-a-n!!”, and just how many schoolboys had ducked
their heads and sighed “Oui, Mme. Rodier” as Magda rearranged their lives
and thoughts. Then I grinned. At least Magda was an equal opportunity
educator. I suspected that in all the times ahead I’d learn to murmur the
same refrain myself. Years ahead, maybe, to sigh out a fretted
“Magdaa-a-a-a”. It wasn’t so bad a thought.
She swept us into the boy’s room before he could say another word.
“We have a commission for you, mon p’tit. You are now ‘Artist to the
Stars.’ ”

Which is how it came to pass that, an hour later, Gerron came into
the messhall with a set of three boxes cradled in his arms, an expression
of complete bewilderment on his face, and two madwomen, hands tucked
politely in the turn of his elbows, chattering across him. Poor boy. The
second shift lunch crowd was there assembled, and he had to face the
stares. Unfortunately that was exactly what Magda and I had had in mind.
We released him, and, as he looked imploringly at us, we each swiped a box
from the stack, and put them on the end of the table nearest the door on
the way in. We sighed with exaggerated patience and looked pointedly at
him, and he hurried to add the third box to the set.
I grinned at Magda, patted Gerron lightly on the shoulder, and looked
out over the room. “Computer, record the following address and enter it
into the announcement board, and into the orders of the day for the
Department chiefs , on the authority of Captain Kathryn Janeway.”
Those sitting near enough to overhear my quiet command to the
computer came even more to alert than they already had, though it was
quite a feat. They already had ears as pricked as Tuvok’s. I stepped
forward, and, raising my voice to carry to the back of the room, began:
“It has been compellingly, if dramatically brought to my attention by
Ms. D’Epserance, of Life Support, that there is little reasonable ground
for the Maquis to be required to wear Star Fleet uniforms while performing
their duties. I don’t make decisions lightly, or repeal them easily, but
the application of a bit of well-reasoned logic can usually sway me. In
this case it has. Those of us who are actually *members* of Star Fleet
treasure our uniforms. I doubt any of us would choose to give up the
honor of wearing them. We have worked for them too long, and they mean
too much to us for us to feel otherwise. However there is no reason for
us to assume the various non-Fleet members of the crew will feel the same,
and we shouldn’t expect it of them. As far as I am concerned, so long as
those crewmembers work beside us, comply with ship’s law, and do their
best to ensure the well-being and survival of us all, they are entitled
and welcome to wear the same uniform that the Star Fleet crewmembers do:
they’ve earned it, even if they’ve earned it in a different way than the
rest of us. But they are welcome to share that honor with us… they are
no longer obliged to. I must require that the clothes they *do* choose to
wear while performing their duties be practical and not too outrageous…
this is a place of work, as well as being our home and community for the
time being, and some limits should be met when on-duty. But civvies are
now permissible attire for non-military crewmembers.
“As to the question of ‘personal accessories’: a wise man has pointed
out to me that it has never been an absolute rule in Star Fleet that those
of particular importance to individuals be forbidden. So as of this time
I’m lifting the ban on personal jewelry and insignia, for all the crew,
and ask only that you display some sense and discretion in your choices.
And as a sign of my complete conviction that this is the right thing to
do, I’m making a little donation to the ‘jewelry pool’ available to you
all. I’ve had Gerron run up some ‘Bajoran style’ earrings. .. enough for
the whole crew. You have your choice. We have the ever-popular ‘Maquis
are Great’ original version, a new ‘Go Star Fleet’ version designed by
Madeleine D’Esperance and myself, and as a special treat, my favorite….
‘Les Voyageurs’… a lovely style designed and perfected by Ms.
D’Esperance, who I am sure will be only too happy to tell you at length
about their meaning and significance. Help yourselves, wear them in
health. End announcement.”
At that, I dropped my “command presence”, and turned casually to
Magda, allowing my voice to return to a quiet, conversational level. “Not
too damned bad, if I do say so myself.”
She laughed, long face bright and delighted. “You would never have
made it to Captain if you couldn’t do so well, cherie. But I am glad you
have confirmed my faith in your abilities. Will you be taking one of the
earrings?”
I laughed in return. “Oh, at least one.” I walked over to the
boxes, and fished one from each of them. I pocketed the “Maquis” and the
“Star Fleet” earrings. The Star Fleet model was no great loss… Magda
and I had copied one of the oldest, most boring and ubiquitous versions of
the Fleet symbol, and stamped it on a drab, brushed bronze set of
medallions. It would look perfectly appropriate with the uniform, but it
carried no negative comment… and it was dull as hell. I suspected that
in time even the most rigid of the crew would chose “Les Voyageurs”, if
they chose to wear the earrings at all.
“Les Voyageurs” was certainly the one I wanted to wear. I removed
the green glass earrings I’d put on earlier, then turned to Magda, handing
her the Bajoran earring. “No mirror here. Will you give me a hand with
it?”
She smiled, took the earring, and carefully fastened it on. I shook
my head, feeling the goose medallions brush against my neck and shoulder.
It felt… exotic.
“How does it look?”
“Tres chic. You will set a style, cherie.”
“I certainly hope so. I suspect it looks better on you though. I
don’t really have that ‘wild Maquis personality’ to carry it off.”
“Eh… give it time. Perhaps you have a touch of ‘wild Maquis’ in
you you never suspected.”
“God help us if I do. Just what we need. Me *and* Chakotay off
‘Maquis-ing’ around the Delta Quadrant. I think I’d better remain ‘the
voice of Star Fleet’. Provides a bit of much needed ballast.”
“And we Maquis provide the leaven in an otherwise flat loaf.”
“Maybe. I hope so.”
I dipped my hand into the “Voyageurs” box again, and took another
earring. I put it in my pocket.
“You are afraid of loosing the first? Or you intend to really set a
fashion, and go about with one in each ear?”
“No. For a friend. Damned if I know what he’ll do with it…
somehow I don’t think he’s going to take it up as daily-wear. But maybe
he’ll consider it a peace offering… or just a memento.”
“Le p’tit minou?”
I nodded.
“Mmm. Now that I’ve made a start on unifying the crew, and got you
for an ally, it’s time I started working things out in the command team.
Which means figuring out how the hell to come to some kind of balance with
Chakotay.”
“Minou isn’t so unreasonable. Me, I think you’ll work it out easily
enough. ”
I smiled, and turned to go… then turned back, stepping close to
Magda. As quietly as I could, I asked: “Magda… do me a favor. Tell
me; what *does* ‘minou’ mean?”
Her face was a picture of amused bewilderment. “Cherie, you have a
computer to tell you these things… all you have to do is ask. Why ask
*me*?”
“He more or less made me promise not to look it up. Asking the
computer would be cheating. But he never asked me not to ask you.”
She dissolved into giggles. “*Now* who is the ‘barracks-room lawyer’? ”
“I learned from a pro. Come on, Magda. It’s been driving me
crazy….”
She kept laughing. “Kitten…..”
“What? How did you know… Oh. No? Not *really*?”
She nodded, tears running down her cheeks. By then I was gasping
too. We ended up on the seats, draped over the tables. It was quite a
few minutes before we could talk again. When we finally could breath, I
managed to get out another question.
“‘Kitten’… why in the name of *heaven* ‘kitten’?”
She shrugged, and chuckled. “Eh, I have no objection to his people’s
naming traditions. If anything they make more sense than my own. But if
a man *will* walk around with a name like ‘Wildcat’ it seems only fair
that the women in his life do what they can to keep him humble about it.
Particularly such a one as Chakotay. He is half in love with legend, and
*someone* has to deflate his ambition to be a hero, or he’ll end up dead
for love of a bit of drama. And no-one on ship spoke French, so I could
get away with it.”
I grinned at her. “I’ll bet he wonders why the hell he ever let you
on ship. ‘Minou’. You’re terrible. But it’s a hell of a coincidence.”
She looked at me, baffled, then caught on, and started to chuckle
again. “Oh, no. ‘Kathryn’. How long did it take you to escape it?”
“Depends on how you look at it. I suppose that’s one good thing
about being stuck here. I may not be able to go home… but I also don’t
have to put up with my mother and my aunt calling me ‘Kitten’. You win
some, you lose some.”
“Le minou et la minette, ils partagent une p’tite baguette.”
“A French nursery rhyme?”
“No. A Quebequoise improvisation. ‘Two kittens share a little
loaf’. Only there’s a pun. The word ‘baguette’ also means ‘rod’. Like
the rod of command, you see?”
I sighed. “It’s hard enough to deal with *English* puns. That makes
*three* French puns in two days. Maybe you’d better give me time to
recover before you hit me with any more.”
“Peut-etre. It is, I suppose, enough for now. But I must be allowed
some latitude, cherie, or I will fall into despair. It is not everyone
who must keep *two* kittens humble. You will have to humor me.”
“You’re hopeless, Magda. I think I’d better get out before you find
some way to take over the ship altogether, and leave me out of a job.”
She was still laughing when I left.

End Section 6

The Red Queen’s Repose
by
Peg Robinson, c. 1996

And so there I was, at the end of the day, standing in front of my
first officer’s door, wondering how the hell I was going to manage to
bring us together. It was a strange feeling. Change was coming to
Voyager, change I’d never foreseen, and I didn’t know how to navigate the
territory. There weren’t any charts, not even ones with a convenient
“Here there be monsters” to tell me when I was heading into dangerous
waters. I raised my hand and rang the door chime.

“Who’s there?”
I drew a breath. “Kathryn Janeway.”
More than “just Kathryn”, but still considerably less than “Captain
Janeway”, or “Your Captain, mister.” I guessed I’d get to informality one
small step at a time.
The silence was impressive. More impressive was his voice when he
did finally respond. He sounded like he’d swallowed a large mouthful of
coffee the wrong way, and was trying not to choke. “Oh. I mean, come
in…”
The door opened and I stepped in.
I’ve been in a time or two before, but not often. I don’t visit
*any* of the crews’ quarters often, but I’m afraid I have to admit, I’d
“not visited” Chakotay’s quarters a bit more decidedly than I’d “not
visited” most everyone else’s rooms.
He’s done a nice job with them. A bit empty, but then considering he
started with Star Fleet issue and the Maquis outfit he’d beamed on with,
plus whatever his crew had managed to grab up for him when they abandoned
the Maquis ship, he’d worked miracles. Heavy on the southwestern
geometrics, but nice ones. Some carvings. Thinking of Tuvok’s talking
stick I wondered if they were his own work. A plant. No idea what kind
— one of the spiky sort. A bright, patterned blanket, a wall hanging. A
table in the corner held carving tools, stones, a large piece of wood that
was being carved into something; but it was far enough from being
completed that I had no idea what he had planned for it. I could see the
dining area through an entry, and a bit of a table that was covered with
food.
He was pretty much covered with food too… or at least with spices.
He was trying to get rid of a towel he’d tucked, apron style, into the
waistband of informal trousers, but he’d managed to grab part of his shirt
in the process and was making a mess of the whole thing. The shirt was
beige, not the best color I’ve ever seen him in, and it was liberally
streaked with bright yellow, a deep sort of brown, a dollop of whitish
something that looked a bit sticky. Even a kitchen innocent like me could
see he’d been cooking. And if I couldn’t see it, I could smell it…. the
place smelled like heaven. Like the Punjabi restaurant on DS9, or T’pel’s
kitchen on Vulcan. I was suddenly aware that I hadn’t had a real meal
since the evening before… and that had been a salad I’d picked at, and
finally returned to the recycle chute only half-eaten. My stomach
rumbled, and I hoped he couldn’t hear it.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt your dinner. I can go…”
He’d finally gotten the towel untangled from the shirt, and he stood
there holding it like he hadn’t the faintest idea what to do with it now.
He looked up from it, as though he’d just realized what I said. “No.
It’s all right. I was just getting some stuff made ahead. I was going to
stick it in stasis for another day.” He gave a crooked grin. “Actually,
it was mainly an excuse to torture a bit of garlic and ginger. I didn’t
kill Tuvok this afternoon, and needed to vent.”
“Just as well. I’ve made Magda an appointment with him tomorrow
afternoon, and I’d hate to have him miss it due to a sudden onset of
‘deceased’ .”
“You’ve made an appointment for *Magda*? With *Tuvok*?”
“Mmm-hmmm. She’s now part of the ‘Anti-Kilpatrick-Jorland Task
Force’.”
“When did this happen?”
“This afternoon. I’ve resolved ‘The Great Maquis Uprising’. Or at
least I hope I have. At least I have Magda on my side now.”
He thought about it a second, then grinned. “You mean she won.”
“What can I say? She was right; and I needed an ally. So I
dickered. She gets the uniforms made non-obligatory. She gets away with
‘teaching me a little lesson’, without it costing her her skin. I get her
help trying to pull in the Maquis, her advice on how to contain Jorland
and Kilpatrick… and the occasional useful household hint on the care and
management of Maquis Captains. Seemed like a good deal to me.”
“Sounds like I’m in trouble. Oh, well. It looks like she may be
able to give me a hint or two about the care and management of the other
kind of Captain, too.”
I shrugged… and my stomach rumbled again. This time it had the
sound cranked up. We both got that embarrassed look folks get when
someone develops the hiccups on bridge, or walks into walls because
they’re talking too hard to look where they’re going. The “Oh, my, do I
notice that, or pretend it didn’t happen” look. Then we both laughed.
“How long since you ate?”
“Not more than a decade or two. Or at least in the last century.”
“Come on in. I made plenty.”
“You’re sure?”
“Certain.”
I followed him into the dining bay, and looked at the table.
Containers of good-looking food *everywhere*, and plates full of flat
breads. My mouth was watering.
“You really *did* have it in for Tuvok, didn’t you? How much garlic
and ginger died to satisfy your blood-thirsty urges?”
“Lots. And I was *trying* to remember that there really are times I
more-or-less like him, too. Cooking Indian seemed like a good way to do
it.”
Which made absolutely no sense to me. Mattar panir and Moghlai murg
seemed like a strange way to recall Tuvok’s virtues. T’Pel’s virtues…
now *that* made sense. T’Pel can *cook*. Tuvok mostly just eats what she
makes, and looks about as enraptured as a Vulcan can. I used to tease him
that it was one of the things we shared in common. We didn’t either of us
cook… and we both loved to eat what T’pel cooked. Turns out we both
love to eat what Chakotay cooks, too. Lord help me, the man can cook….
I’d been wolfing down the mattar panir for a few minutes before I
realized he was just watching me, sitting a-straddle with the chair turned
back-to-front, arms propped on the back, a rather dumbstruck look on his
face. I slowed down.
“All right, maybe two centuries since I ate last…”
His eyes were laughing, if a bit awed. “I’d say at least. Do you
always eat like this?”
“Not really. I mostly just forget to eat. Get busy and suddenly
realize hours later that lunch has come and gone. Just as well. Until
they come up with a metabolic adjuster that doesn’t create as many
problems as it solves, forgetting to eat has its advantages. I don’t have
to spend all my time in the holodeck sweating it off.” I fished in my
pocket, and pulled out a tangle of earrings: the two Maquis and Star
Fleet “Bajoran” earrings, my green glass dangles, and the extra
“Voyageurs” earring. I picked out the “Voyageurs”, and held it out to
him. “A present. I thought you might like to have one. There’s a story
that goes with it.”
He looked at me, a wry amusement playing over his face. “I get
enough second looks with the tattoo. I’m not sure I want to find out what
people would say about my wearing a ‘rebel earring’.”
“It’s not a rebel earring. And if you don’t want to wear it you can
hang it on your wall or something. I don’t know. Is it the sort of thing
you’d put in your medicine bundle?”
He reached out and took the earring, puzzled as he examined the
medallions. “I don’t know. What’s the story?”
So I began ‘The Tale of Magda, the Captain, and Les Voyageurs’. I
got him to laugh at least three times, which I counted to my credit. By
the time I’d covered the ground, I’d eaten the entire container of mattar
panir, made a bad dent in the plate of paratha, been settled on the sofa
with a cup of hot tea, and was wondering if I was going to be able to stay
awake long enough to get to the important part of the visit. Three nights
of not sleeping had hit me like a ton of bricks, and a full stomach and
the comfort of having dealt with Magda and the Maquis were having their
effect. I stretched and blinked my eyes, looking over to where Chakotay
sat in an arm chair, dangling the earring and watching the medallions
sway.
“So that’s why geese. I like it.”
“Thought you would.” I got up my nerve. “Chakotay, I’m sorry I’ve
dragged my feet so hard about bringing you into the command structure.”
He blinked. “Now that’s a sudden change of topic.”
“Not really.” I sighed. “I called myself a ‘four-pip science
officer’ the other day. It wasn’t really a joke…or it was the kind
that’s got a lot of truth to it. My last command was pure science.
Twenty crewmembers, and hardly any besides a few specialists like Tuvok
with less than a Ph.D. in one hard science or another. We used to joke
that you needed a masters at least to change the toilet paper in the
public rest rooms on the ‘Mme Curie’. I was a good Captain for the
‘Curie’. ‘Voyager’ was supposed to be the same kind of assignment…just
a bit bigger. Then a lot of politics came together, and things shifted
around. Next thing I knew, I was being assigned border duty, my Security
Officer was being shoved into undercover assignments, my crew was shifted
from mainly scientists to standard mix… or if anything a bit heavy on
the ‘military specialist’ end of things… and I was supposed to be
delighted, because I was seen as a ‘hard-liner’ where the Cardassian
treaty was concerned.” I looked him in the eye. “I was, you know. I
still am. Magda says she’s proud to be Maquis. I understand that. But
I’m proud to support the treaty, even knowing what it’s cost. Hell, in a
strange way, I’m one of the people who made sure there’d be a treaty.”
He looked at me, his face still. “Another story?”
“Mmm. Commander, did you ever have to go to Wolf 359 before you left
the Fleet?”
His mouth tightened. “No. We were stationed on the Cardassian
border when the Borg hit. After they hit we stayed on the border. There
weren’t any ships to come relieve us.”
I nodded, and looked down into my tea cup. “I was first officer of
the ‘Stokal’ then. Another science ship. When Wolf was finished, we were
one of the few ships near enough to be first-in on the clean up. Our main
assignment was to sift the wreckage, analyze the bits and pieces, and try
to make some sense of the kind of technology the Borg had used to kill an
Armada. And we were supposed to make an evaluation on the Federation’s
ability to survive another attack of the same kind.” I looked up. “That
alone would have made me support the treaty, Chakotay. We hadn’t just
been out-classed… we’d been obliterated. We hadn’t stood a chance. And
the Borg were still out there…. and half the Fleet’s strongest ships
were dead. Half her most experienced military commanders were dead.”
“So the Cardassian war wasn’t expedient?” His voice wasn’t bitter. It
was sad. He’s too good a militarist not to understand the logic of my
position.
I looked back down into the cup. ” ‘Not expedient’. Yes. I suppose
you could call it that.”
“What else?”
“Chakotay, we had to collect the bodies, too. There weren’t any
other ships to do it, not for weeks. Not that they’d have rotted or
anything. But there were families waiting to know, even though they
already knew. And we were a science ship. There weren’t more than a few
officers on board who couldn’t at least read a gene scan, and identify the
ones that were unidentifiable any other way. And part of the weapons
evaluation was autopsies anyway. By the time we got backup, we’d already
identified over 3000 of the dead. We had them tied in bunches, like
firewood, and tethered in free space; tags on their toes so none of them
would get shipped to the wrong mourners.”
“Sounds grim.”
“Worse than grim. The worst part…. Normally the commanders write
the condolence letters. ‘Dear Mrs. So-and-so, I am sorry to inform you
that your daughter died in action yesterday, at the Battle of such-an-
such. She was a good soldier, and I am honored to have had her in my
command’…and so forth and so on. But all the commanders were dead, too.
None of us were quite sure what to do. We finally came up with a sort of
an answer.” I leaned back and closed my eyes. “You’d be surprised how
many people you’ve served with once you start thinking about it. We went
over the records, looking to see who’d been posted with who, who’d been in
the Academy with who else. Then *we* wrote the letters. When the back-up
ships showed up the officers on them did the same. Some of us were going
to the counselors for deep hypnosis, to see if we could remember
*something* about some of the ones we barely even remembered knowing. I
can still recite the list of officers I knew. I wrote 389 condolence
letters, and only passed on the ones I knew so little I couldn’t think of
*anything* to say. And when it came time for us to put together our
recommendations, the one thing I knew was that, if we ever had to face the
Borg again, we were cooked. And even if we *never* saw them again, over
11,000 dead is enough dead for one generation. And there was too much
chance we’d have to spend the lives anyway, even without the Borg. The
Klingons have been getting more and more touchy lately, the Romulans are
putting out feelers… and we were spending lives on the Cardassian
border, for colonies we didn’t *need*. It’s a big galaxy. We have space
to spare. So when we finally made our recommendation, that we pull out of
any unnecessary conflicts, and put all the effort we could into weapons
research and training new personnel, and building up the Fleet again… I
couldn’t have agreed more. And when the Cardassian Treaty was signed a
few years later, I bought a bottle of champagne, popped the cork, and
drank a toast to the politicians who, for once in their lives, did the
right thing. I don’t like the Cardassians. I don’t like the treaty much.
But I like the alternative less.” I opened my eyes again, and stared up
at the ceiling. “I’ve heard your story, Chakotay. I’ve heard Magda’s,
and the other folks who spoke in the circle. I *understand*.. or at least
I’m trying to. But I still think the price was too high to choose any
other way.”
He was silent, and I stirred restlessly, wondering if my own
commitment was more than he could accept. After a few moments he sighed.
“What?”
“Just thinking that Chief Joseph… the *original* Chief Joseph…
would have understood your point. No matter how unfair the court ruling
that allowed the US to seize the Wallowa lands, he was going to accept the
loss. He knew there just weren’t enough of the Nee Me Poo to take on the
entire army. He didn’t fight until he had to. Three of the young men
from White Bird’s band were angry, and killed four white settlers, and
injured another. After that he didn’t have a choice… the settlers were
furious, and the soldiers were going to come one way or another. Even
then, he was running. They were trying to get to Canada, where they hoped
they could live peacefully. He didn’t fight until he had to.” He shifted
in the chair. “I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective, whether the
Maquis are Joseph and his tribe, or just angry hotheads, too wrapped up in
their own loss to see what they’re pulling down on their people, no matter
how much right they have to be angry.”
I sighed. “That’s the trouble with historical metaphors. They’re
metaphors. Sometimes all they can really tell you is what you know all
ready: that life’s too damned complex for easy answers. You did what you
had to do. I did what I had to do. Maybe the only people who’ll ever
really *know* who was right are the historians. And they’ll only think
they know. History erases more truth than it reveals. That’s why I like
science. Not so ambiguous, even when you get into the weird stuff like
Quantum and Chaos.”
“So you were just as glad to hunt Maquis?”
I shook my head. “That’s why you had to hear about Wolf. So you
could understand. I *wasn’t* happy to hunt Maquis. I didn’t *want* to
hunt Maquis. I wanted the assignment I’d been intended to get. A pure
exploratory job. But when they changed my orders, and changed Voyager’s
mission… what was I going to say? ‘I’m ever so sorry. I approve of the
Treaty, but don’t look at me to see that it stays in place. I’d rather be
off checking out a wormhole somewhere’? Someone had to do border patrol.
And if anyone knew how short-handed the Fleet still is, it was me. So I
got to play cop. And I got to chase Maquis. And the next thing I knew, I
got to drop into the Delta Quadrant. I got to have Maquis crewmembers,
and a Maquis first officer, and a royal mess to try to sort out… and
*nothing* has behaved like it’s supposed to ever since.” I pulled one leg
up, and leaned my arms on my knee, chin on my arms. “I’ve been trying to
hold on to what I do know. And the result is worse than it would have
been if I’d just let go. But I didn’t see it that way. Did you ever read
either of Carroll’s ‘Alice’ books?” He shook his head. “They’re full of
the most terrible women… caricatures of adult insanity, carried to
extremes. The Queen of Hearts is one …”
“Off with his head?”
“I thought you hadn’t read them.”
“I haven’t. But they’re pretty much embedded in the culture. The
Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter. Some things you can’t get away without
knowing.”
“You know about the Red Queen?”
“Depends. What do you mean ‘know’?”
“She shows up early in “Looking Glass” and has a scene that used to
drive me nuts when I was a kid. She drags Alice after her, running like
hell, and when they stop she says you have to run as fast as you can just
to stay in one place in Looking Glass Land, and twice as fast to get
somewhere else. But when I was a kid all I kept thinking was that, if
that was true, then the *land* must be moving too, and that the only way
the Queen’s statement would be true was if she was moving in the opposite
direction from everything else, like trying to sail into the face of the
wind. Otherwise all she had to do was stay where she was, and only move
enough to pick her direction, and let the world do the moving for her.
Like tacking across the wind.”
He studied my face. “So?”
“So I’ve spent the last two years running like the Red Queen, trying
to stay in one place… trying to keep my *world* in one place. Sometimes
it’s a mistake to forget the things you know as a child. If I’d been
seven I would have known better.” I sighed. “It took a lot of things to
make me realize what I was doing wrong. But now I know, I’m glad to be
able to stop running.”
He turned the earring over in his hand. “You’ve decided you can’t
keep it a Star Fleet ship.”
“Mmm. I still think we need the Fleet structure to build on. We
can’t keep it pure Fleet. Not entirely. But maybe, if we all work at it,
we can be “Les Voyageurs”. And maybe you and I can find a way to be a
real command team. You and I, and Tuvok.”
“Its a pretty long-term project.”
“Mm-hmm. And one we’re going to have to manage with all the crew
watching. That’s one thing Magda pointed out. If we’re going to head off
the Jorlands and the Kilpatricks, we have to let everyone know they have
to go through *both* of us before they’ll get anywhere. And we have to
make ourselves a pattern for what the rest of the crew can become. I’m
afraid I’m going to put a bit of a crimp in your social life for awhile,
Chakotay. And I hope you like pool.”
He chuckled. “As long as I don’t have to bet against you. My
replicator budget won’t stand it if I do. Anything else?”
“Lots. But… one thing I was thinking of. What you did in the
circle — I know it backfired, but it was a good idea. If you could put
together something like that, something that wasn’t about being Maquis, or
Fleet, but about being something different… about being ‘Les
Voyageurs’… You’re a pretty good ceremonialist, Chakotay. I’d like to
see what you could do if you set your mind to it.”

That’s the thing about the Delta Quadrant. Sometimes, in good
company, you can take a bit of comfort: we are explorers, we voyageurs.
But there’s always something new. Always something challenging. It’s
enough to shake even the brave of heart. I suspect Chakotay feels about
the same. Certainly he seemed to that night.

If ever a man was dumbstruck, it was my Maquis first officer.

-end-

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.