Our shuttle returned. One life sign. There should be two; Harry Kim and Tom Paris.
This was disturbing, but more so to Janeway. Watching her pace back and forth across the command level of the bridge, worry crossing her brow. It's always hard not knowing about those you send out. It would be easier if we were in the Alpha Quadrant. We could replace valuable officers. The Delta Quadrant doesn't give us very much leeway and every life on board is important.
Janeway will never accept the death of a crewmember. Actually, I should say, she wouldn't readily accept the death of one our own. An extended family, that's what we've become. Every death affects each of us. Even me, but Janeway shows it much more. Concern for us all radiates in those blue eyes of hers.
She had the occupant beamed to sickbay and went down there herself to find out what was going on. Minutes later she contacted me, having me set a course for the Benien home world.
She clued me in as to what was going on. Apparently Paris got himself into trouble. Leave it to Paris to find the trouble.
We were hailed, warned about the war. Neelix said the whole thing was. . .well, strange, (I wonder what his definition of bizarre would be).
I've noticed something about Janeway. She's very readable. I can tell how she feels, or her state of mind by her body movements. There's the arms crossed over her chest, or the 'don't feed me that line' stance. Then there's the hands on the hips, just asking the opponent to cross the line with her. And last, but not least, the intimidating glare. I hope I never have to be on the opposing end of that one. That look is enough to drive even the most dedicated officer to their knees, pleading for mercy. Janeway's no nonsense moves. Don't mess with her when she assumes these positions. She used all three of those moves on the Venerii Captain. Didn't feel sorry for him, either.
She and Tuvok beamed down to see Paris. I hope he is innocent. The punishment, making him witness the crime he's been accused of, through the eyes of the victim, seems to be taking its toll on him. No one deserves that kind of punishment. No matter what kind of parasite he is. Janeway and Tuvok managed to convince them to allow him to be checked over by our doctor, especially after the punishment caused him to fall unconscious. Tuvok took the opportunity to do some investigating on the planets surface.
When Paris regained consciousness, I contacted Tuvok to let him know. He's becoming something like Sherlock Holmes. Just doing his job, I suppose. More power to him if he can get Paris out of this mess.
Then we came under attack. I was at the helm. The usual tactics weren't working, so I asked if we could use some old Maquis techniques. Janeway let me go for it. She at least will give you a chance. B'Elanna and I vented the aft conduits, making it look like we were damaged badly, then inflicted our own damage to their weapons array.
"Not to belittle Maquis tactics, commander," Janeway said behind me. "But this is a very old trick."
"It worked against those Starfleet runabouts," I said.
"You're lucky I wasn't commanding one of them," she replied. I would have smiled if the situation hadn't been tense.
"Besides, out here in the Delta Quadrant, every old trick is new again," I said to her. I could almost see her shaking her head in bewilderment.
And it worked. We disabled the ships.
She stepped down to me and patted my shoulder, letting it rest there a moment, allowing the warmth of this touch through my uniform. A comforting, yet congratulatory reassurance touch. She was smiling.
"That's one trick you won't be able to use when we get back," she said, humor coloring her voice.
"I have more," I said.
She canceled red alert and to ordered me to take the ship into a higher orbit.
Tuvok said he was convinced that Paris was innocent. He suggested witnessing the murder for himself. How?
He suggested a mind meld.
One word. . .ouch. You won't catch me getting caught in one of those. No way.
Well, we found out what was going on. Paris and Harry were used as bait. Part one of our plan to weed out the plot went without a hitch. Nothing like watching your captain threaten to blow up a shuttle unless you release it.
Just as Tuvok said, Paris was innocent.
Elaborate plan. . .to get vital information from one side of the war to the other. Too bad Paris happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Maybe next time, he'll watch whom he gets involved with.