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"And if you could be so kind as to explain to me, Captain Janeway, for what I hope is the final time, exactly what happened to each of the Maquis and the Equinox members of your crew." Admiral Hayes peered at Janeway from under lowered beetling brows.
Janeway's face was devoid of expression as she stood motionless in the witness stand of Starfleet's biggest courtroom. She might have been listing the contents of Neelix's store cupboard. "Crewmen Gilmore and Lessing were killed in battle when the hull breached. Together they worked to save Naomi Wildman; Crewman Lessing acted as a temporary human barrier to the breach, while Crewman Gilmore pushed Naomi into a Jeffries tube and sealed it behind her, before going back for Lessing."
"Why did she not leave with the child?" Nechayev asked calmly.
"She and Lessing were involved. She wouldn't leave him." Janeway bowed her head momentarily. "They died heroically, saving a child. I have recommended that their ranks be restored posthumously, and-"
"We've read your recommendations, Captain," interrupted Hayes. "Please continue."
"Lieutenant Torres and Crewman Gerron were killed when a shuttle exploded." Her lips twisted in disgust at the waste of life. "Lieutenant Carey and Ensign Ballard were able to take up the slack in engineering. Otherwise, we-"
"Ensign Lindsay Ballard." Hayes said drolly. "The ensign who was killed on an away mission earlier in your journey."
"Her corpse was found by the Kobali, a species who use the dead of other races as the means for their own procreation. In time, Lindsay regained her own memories, and rejoined Voyager's crew some years later. Of course, the Kobali had altered her appearance slightly."
"Can you elaborate?"
Janeway waved a hand. "The normal. Facial features, skin tones. Luckily she had learned a lot of engineering skills during her time with the Kobali. Of course she was never as good as Lieutenant Torres, but one copes as best one can. I have recommended that Lieutenant Torres receive a posthumous award for exceptional service in-"
"Right. Please continue."
"Crewman Dalby was assimilated by the Borg during our attempt to destroy-"
"Yet Lieutenant Commander Tuvok, Ensign Ballard, and yourself survived? Why were you not able to retrieve Dalby?"
"He reacted badly to the anti-agent the Doctor produced, and he was not able to resist the assimilation. Likewise, Seven of Nine was reassimilated into the collective on the same mission. Crewman O'Donnell, another former Maquis, was assimilated while trying to prevent her from leaving. I have also recommended that he receive the posthumous rank of ensign, and that Dalby also receive the rank of ensign, post-"
"Post assimilation, yes, Captain, we have read your recommendations."
"Did you, personally, not try to prevent Seven of Nine rejoining the collective on that occasion?" Nechayev's voice contained a tinge of avarice. "Sure you knew that Starfleet were interested in her, for research purposes?"
"Which, I believe, was a pivotal point for Seven. She had no wish to become a laboratory animal for Starfleet. Indeed, her final words over the comm were, 'I prefer the assimilation I know to that which I don't.' I have put forward Seven of Nine's name for inclusion in the list of civilians who have provided exceptional service to Starfleet and its values."
"Do go on," Hayes' eyes flicked nervously around the packed gallery of the courtroom, trying to judge the public reaction to Janeway's recommendations.
"Crewmen Tabor, Yosa, and Henley were all killed in a shuttle crash. Lieutenant Paris survived, only to be tragically shot a few months later in the hostage situation when we were following Starfleet's orders and attempting to retrieve the Friendship One probe."
"That was indeed unfortunate." Hayes' eyes darted to Admiral Paris, who was sitting stonily, staring straight ahead.
Paris cleared his throat. "Better my son is dead than shaming the family back in the penal colony," he said gruffly.
"The other hostages were released unharmed," Janeway continued. "Once we arrived back in the Alpha Quadrant, Lieutenant Carey divorced his wife to marry Ensign Ballard. There were some positive aspects to our journey."
"Lieutenant Carey's first wife might not see your point of view," stated Nechayev dryly.
"Commander Chakotay," continued Janeway, and her voice cracked with what might be considered long suppressed emotion, "was killed when the shuttle he was piloting crashed into an asteroid that he somehow failed to see. With him was Crewman Doyle, another former Maquis. There was talk of suicide. His closest friends related how devastated the commander was to have turned against me during the episode of Teero's mind control. And of course, he was under the constant strain of wanting a personal relationship with me that I would not allow. But I do not believe he would have taken the life of another crewman in his attempt to find peace." She paused, as if bringing herself under control again. "We held a full Starfleet memorial service for the commander and Crewman Doyle. In the absence of any body, we consigned their most precious possessions to space. I have recommended that Commander Chakotay be granted full Starfleet-"
"By this time you must have been getting short of crew," observed Hayes.
"Luckily, a couple of weeks after the commander's unfortunate death, we came to Quarra," continued Janeway. "Quarra is a planet experiencing an extreme labor shortage. By this time, the remaining Maquis--those that were not dead--were restless. News was filtering down the ranks that Starfleet intended prosecuting them as terrorists when we returned to the Alpha Quadrant."
"And how did this news reach them?" inquired Nechayev. "The information was passed to you for your eyes only."
Janeway raised a shoulder negligently. "On a ship the size of Voyager news travels fast. I believe that Lieutenant Ayala must have read it over my shoulder when he brought me my morning coffee."
"And he spread the word?"
Janeway shrugged again. "Possibly."
"Not the best choice of person to put into your security force," observed Nechayev.
"On the contrary. Ayala proved his worth over and over, and saved Commander Tuvok's life on at least one occasion. I have recommended that he receive the Starfleet Award for-"
"Yes, yes, Captain." Nechayev's blond eyebrow did a remarkable imitation of the late Seven of Nine.
"Ayala was in a long-term relationship with Ensign Kim. Kim felt the loss keenly when Ayala, and a number of others, elected to take advantage of the opportunities on Quarra. The Quarrans were eager to offer employment to our crew, and many of the former Maquis remained on the planet."
Hayes leaned forward. "I find it hard to believe that these terrorists would remain behind working in a power plant on an industrial planet rather than continuing with the journey."
Janeway smiled an enigmatic smile. "A power plant is an attractive place, compared to the inside of a Cardassian jail cell, which, according to Ayala's information gathering was what awaited them here. And it worked both ways. We were able to recruit many skilled people from Quarra, who were disillusioned with life there. We gained enough replacement personnel that the loss of the Maquis was not critical to the ship, although we keenly missed our crewmates and friends."
Nechayev's eyes were cold. "Captain, you let those people go. They were terrorists, and supposed to be your prisoners. Yet you packed them a lunch and waved them goodbye."
Janeway's eyes were equally remote. "Admiral, they were members of my crew who had proven their worth time and time again. In all good conscience, I could not stop them."
Hayes' fingers drummed a steady pattern on the desk. "So after Quarra, you were left with, how many members of the Maquis?"
"One sir. Crewman Chell. But he chose to remain behind and help the Talaxian colony fight for their asteroid home."
Hayes shuffled in his seat. "Interesting how your Talaxian chef, Neelix, didn't chose to remain."
"Neelix was never the same after the accident, sir." Janeway's voice was colored with sadness. "Even the best efforts of the Doctor were not enough to restore Neelix's, shall I say, 'distinctive' looks. The best plastic surgeon in the Delta Quadrant couldn't have restored the unique spotted aspects of a Talaxian's skin, or hair growth patterns. Leola root extract is a highly corrosive substance. Neelix was almost unrecognizable when Tom and Harry pulled him out."
"So how many personnel did you succeed in recruiting from Quarra?" Nechayev visibly repressed a shudder at the thought of marinated Talaxian and deftly changed the subject.
"Twenty-two skilled personnel. Almost exactly the number of dead or defecting Maquis."
"Not quite. There were thirty-one Maquis integrated into Voyager's crew at the beginning, and of those-"
"We understand. But it seems luck and circumstances were on your side as you were able to recruit, with relative ease, twenty-two people from Quarra who were able to slot into the vacant positions on Voyager so easily."
"We've had more than our fair share of luck, sir."
"You certainly wasted no time, Captain." If looks could kill, Nechayev 's was not set on stun.
"I beg your pardon?"
"You wasted no time, Captain, in forming a romantic liaison with one of the Quarrans."
"It was not against protocol. Jaffen came on board as a civilian advisor, as did all the new recruits from Quarra."
"And moved straight into the captain's quarters."
"As I said the first time we went through this," the Janeway steel was evident in her tone, "that is my business alone."
"I don't think anyone is disputing your right to a personal life, Captain." Admiral Paris stirred briefly from his morose contemplation of his water glass. "In fact, many of the Starfleet crew seem to have found a new partner from the Quarrans. Ensign Kim, for one."
"So, Captain, it appears you have accounted for all of your Maquis and Equinox crew very neatly-"
"And my son, Tom." Admiral Paris looked at his glass as if he wished it were whiskey. "Don't forget, Tom."
Nechayev regrouped. "It seems you have explained away the absence of the Maquis, the Equinox crew, and Lieutenant Paris. None of them are available to stand trial for charges-"
"And so there are no charges left to bring." Admiral Paris stood up, and the water glass went flying into Nechayev's lap. "I suggest we let the good captain go. You won't get any change to her story, Alynna." Without looking back, he left the room.
Nechayev glowered, but complied. "Very well. You are dismissed, Captain, and the case is closed. It seems we have no Maquis left to hold accountable for their actions, and coincidentally, no Equinox crew members either. I hope this is the final time we have to look into your actions in the Delta Quadrant." Without a backwards glance, she left the room, trailing Admiral Hayes in her wake.
"Me too," muttered Janeway under her breath. Looking up into the public gallery, she located Jaffen, sitting with the surviving members of her senior staff. She gave him a barely perceptible wink.
The party later that evening was an overwhelming success. Admiral Paris closeted himself in a corner, and slowly worked his way through Janeway's finest bottle of Irish whiskey, helped along by Joe Carey. Joe's wife, Lindsay, cradled their young daughter, Miral. Various other members of the crew were getting uproariously and hilariously drunk, celebrating the dismissal of the final charges against Captain Janeway and the crew. Not to be outdone, the Doctor had incorporated a new subroutine into his program, and was the most outrageous drunk of the lot. His new wife, a blonde and busty woman, hung onto his arm.
"Really, Doctor," she was saying superciliously, "You are not really intoxicated; the pretence of drunkenness is irrelevant to your enjoyment of the evening. And you have to work in the morning. You have a reputation to uphold."
"As the finest plastic surgeon the Alpha Quadrant has ever known." The Doctor preened, then patted his wife's hand in an avuncular manner. "I can see you Quarrans need as many lessons in social behavior as did my former pupil, Seven
His wife raised a supercilious eyebrow and left him entertaining Harry Kim and his Quarran lover, Alaya, with drinking songs.
Alone in a relatively quiet corner of the room, Janeway sat close to Jaffen. Their hands were entwined, their bodies close together with the familiarity of longtime lovers.
"So it all worked out in the end," sighed Janeway. "I can't say it was the ideal solution, but it was better than the alternative."
"It was," Jaffen pressed a kiss to the top of her head, before raising her chin to meet her lips in a soft kiss.
She clung to him for long moments. Raising her hand she stroked the left side of his brow, gently tracing a familiar path. "I still miss this, you know."
Feedback? Please. Shayenne
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