|No More Lies
So much has happened in the last ten days.
Before we took up orbit around this planet, most of my time was spent overseeing repairs in engineering, and my workload increased even further once we had access to the new materials which the away teams brought back to Voyager. We'd already managed to fix a great deal of the damage with the meagre resources we'd had, but because, amongst other things, my department was understaffed, there were still many repairs outstanding.
During the last attack by Evgra Diral and his fellow Gabadians, two junior crewmen were injured, and I was informed that they would both need to spend several weeks in sickbay. They had been badly burned when one of the consoles they were working on exploded in an enormous shower of white-hot sparks, sending both men flying backwards, like rag-dolls, to smash with sickening thuds against the wall. Although they would both recover, the Doctor announced that they were in need of extensive surgery as their injuries were too severe to be corrected by any other means.
At first glance, while this situation was most unfortunate, it wasn't what anyone would really consider remarkable - incidents such as this one are an everyday hazard in our line of work - but this time, first impressions were to be proven incorrect: this usually unremarkable occurrence was to lead to the incredible and almost unbelievable situation that we presently find ourselves in.
It was afternoon, the day before we entered orbit. I was finishing up some routine, but necessary, maintenance work in the lower part of the ship. Normally, this task would have been completed hours previously, but because the two men who would usually carry out the work were in sickbay, it had been delayed and left to me.
As I replaced the inspection panel that I'd removed earlier, a soft sound caught my attention. Thinking it was perhaps caused by something that was on the verge of malfunctioning and was unintentionally giving me a welcomed warning, I decided to investigate.
I made my way in the direction that I'd determined the noise had come from, stopping and listening carefully from time to time. I heard the sound again just as I neared the little-used observation lounge at the end of the corridor. I noticed that the lounge's door mechanism had stuck, preventing it from closing completely. I was just preparing to give it a more thorough examination, when I became aware of movement at the edge of my vision. Cautiously, I peered into the room's semi-dark interior.
The sight that greeted me shocked me to the core.
Stifling my almost overwhelming urge to shout a stream of expletives, I quickly and silently backed away and then headed straight for the bridge. I had to find Tuvok immediately and tell him what I'd seen.
Within a few moments of relating my experience, our Chief of Security began an investigation. I stood next to him, watching as he activated the observation lounge security vid. There was little light in the room, and he therefore had to compensate by enhancing the image, but still he was able to confirm that what I'd told him was true. Wanting to be absolutely certain, though, of what it was we had both now apparently witnessed, he decided to set in motion a plan to collect further evidence in readiness for what would, if more facts supported it, inevitably result in a trial. Noticing a hint of my distaste at the fact that I'd done what I knew I'd had to do, Tuvok eased my conscience by assuring me, that should it go so far that charges were brought and the outcome was the one I expected, there would be certain changes made afterwards.
I was forbidden to speak about the incident, or his promise to me, to anyone else on Voyager, but I knew that, somehow, I had to get word to my former Captain that something was amiss. The only way I could think of to give Chakotay a hint of what had occurred, was to send a cryptic message with Harry. Recalling my days in the Maquis, I dredged up the code-phrase from the depths of my still-bemused brain, and asked him to deliver it word for word. It would give Chakotay enough information that he'd realise something serious had happened, and let him know that changes might possibly be made to Voyager's command structure. I hoped to be able to elaborate on the situation as soon as the chance came for me to transport to the surface.
A few days later, the Doctor provided me with the means to do just that.
I had been called into sickbay for a check-up. The EMH had insisted on examining everyone who had pulled double shifts for more than four consecutive days, and he was subsequently less than pleased with all of us. His diagnosis in each of our cases was that we were suffering from exhaustion brought on by overwork. (Didn't *that* come as a complete surprise!) Anyway, the upshot of it was that he informed the Captain that we should all be given time off. A new rota was organised, and when the time came for my scheduled break, I requested that I be allowed to visit my friends on the planet.
To my great delight, my request was approved, and I immediately contacted Chakotay with the news that I would soon be transporting down to the surface.
Chakotay and Tom were standing outside their cabin when I arrived. They both looked great! Harry had already told me how well they'd been keeping, but to see the evidence of it for myself was just wonderful. Many times before we reached this planet, I'd had visions that we'd find them all weak and frail from either hunger or some other malady, but the complete opposite was true: they looked fitter than I had ever seen either of them. There wasn't an ounce of fat on their tanned and muscular bodies, and they seemed extraordinarily happy. I wondered briefly, should what I was about to tell them lead to the outcome I hoped for, whether they would ever want to leave this place.
It was early morning. An ever-swirling, cool, grey mist covered the river, occasionally sending wispy tendrils out across the lower part of the garden and briefly obscuring the plants that benefited from the moisture it left behind. Greg and Gerron were already hard at work, transplanting seedlings into an already prepared patch of ground. Chakotay called to the two men and asked them to join us, and they quickly finished up. Ten minutes later, after Greg had brought in extra chairs, we were all comfortably seated around the table in Chakotay and Tom's cabin. Sipping at the hot, aromatic drink that Tom had supplied me with, I leaned back in my chair and related my experience of four days before.
The reaction I received was one of stunned silence.
Frowning, Chakotay asked me to repeat what I'd said. I did so, but all four men still seemed to find it difficult to believe. I understand their reaction. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would probably doubt the truth of it, too.
However, the truth is not for *us* to either prove or disprove. That job has fallen to Tuvok and the Doctor. They will weigh up the evidence against Captain Janeway, and her fate will be in their hands.
We're expecting the outcome of the trial any minute now, and I believe there can only be one possible verdict.
I have no idea what other evidence Tuvok's investigation brought to light, but the fact that Janeway was temporarily removed from command and the trial went ahead must indicate that what I witnessed in the observation lounge was exactly what it looked like: Captain Kathryn Janeway is in breach of the same Starfleet regulation that she has always so strictly enforced.
The Starfleet regulation which states that same-sex relationships will not be tolerated.
BACK Part Seven