We found a planet where we hoped to stock up on some food supplies. I led the away team. Carey found a fruit that looked like an apple. Neelix took one look at it and said ". . .it would kill you." He told us how. "Your windpipe swells up, then just as you think you're about to die of suffocation, you wind up with a shooting pain in your knees that moves up to your. . . ."
"I think we got the picture," I said grabbing his hand. It was a visual I really didn't want.
"Never judge a fruit by its skin," Neelix said, quoting some old saying. Then he handed me something, somewhat like a mutated carrot. He told me to try it.
"What is it?" I asked curiously.
"A leeola root," Neelix said. I took a bite and promptly spit it out. Not at all pleasing.
"You expect us to eat this?" I said. He stuttered for a moment, obviously unaware how vile that thing tasted.
"This is the reason why I brought you here, Commander. There is not better source of vitamins and minerals in the quadrant, then this ugly little root."
"I find the second best source acceptable if it tasted better," I said, meaning it. Neelix just laughed.
He claimed that we would come to love it, even dismiss the mildew. I don't want to think about that one either.
Kathryn contacted me about if there were any life signs down there. A quick look at my tricorder registered nothing other then the blood worms. Quick joke to Kathryn about Neelix wanting to beam them aboard for tartar. I could almost see the distaste on her face about that one.
She decided I should collect my away team and come back on board. I agreed. I cut transmission with the ship so I could collect my team. Cut out before the harvesting of blood worms. Always a good idea. I told the group to meet at the landing site. We were converging when Kathryn said to beam up now. I didn't ask any questions.
Ensign Kim wondered where Seska was. She didn't answer her comm badge, couldn't be located by the transporter room on Voyager either. Harry mentioned that she had been picking berries with his group, that there were some caves nearby, maybe they could be blocking communications. I told him to get the team back up to the ship, that I would find her.
And I did. . . along with Kazon. She was picking mushrooms, to show Neelix how to make my favorite soup, so she said. I appreciate the sentiment, but it wasn't the time. We were confronted by two Kazon. I fired at one of them and hit him. The other fired his weapon at me and hit my arm. Seska fired her own and hit him. Then helped me.
We beamed up to Voyager. I went to sickbay to get patched up.
I recovered from my injuries and was working on some stone carvings when my door rang. It was Seska. She had a giant bowl of mushroom soup. Real food. It did taste good. Seska told me how Neelix wanted to stretch it with leeola root. She told me how she made it. At first I found it amusing, even funny. Until she said that she and Jackson had broke into the kitchen. The fun and amusement ended there. When will she learn?
About the time she was through telling me the tale, Neelix had called telling me of the break in. I promised him that all involved would be punished. So I revoked replicator privileges for everyone involved, including myself. Drastic? Sure, but I was the reason for the break in.
Seska decided that we needed to make-up, that the loss of replicator rations was worth it. We'd been an item once, but I knew it wouldn't work out. Something just wasn't right. I don't know even now what it was. It just bit at me. But when it comes down to it, who knows; it may have been just sex. I'm not the first man to fall, confusing sex with love. They don't necessarily go hand in hand. And they don't always equate each other.
Before she left, she told me to look around, that there wasn't that many potential mates out here. Of course she had a point, but it wouldn't be her. It's rather obvious to think that there are choices on the ship besides her. She told me she has her eye on Harry Kim. . .poor Harry.
About the time she left, Kathryn called the senior officers to the bridge.
We were receiving a distress signal from a Kazon ship, the same one we ran into at the planet. It seems legitimate. Kathryn ordered us to go check it out. Not that she would let someone go who needed help. Her compassion seems to be one of her most enduring qualities. As she said, this may be a chance to make a friend, that we needed any and all we could find. I agreed with her.
I beamed over with Tuvok, B'Elanna and Seska. The sight was not pretty. Death is never pretty.
One was alive. We beamed him to sickbay. But most importantly, there was Federation signals coming from that destruction. How was that possible?
Tuvok gave Kathryn and I three possible choices. One: That it isn't Federation, but something close that looks like ours. Two: Another Federation ship had been pulled here prior and ran into the Kazon or Three: Someone on Voyager betrayed us. The only one Tuvok stated that would be the most probable was choice three, then pointed out how Seska was found in the caves with Kazon. Kathryn was most upset with that third option. I sure as hell didn't want to believe it.
Though she didn't really vocalize it, her body said 'why?'
We found it a way to be helpful. I assigned Seska to the bridge. It was concern, but maybe in the back of mind, I had my suspicions. I didn't want to think anyone of the crew, Starfleet or former Maquis could have done this. A gut instinct maybe. She didn't respond well to the suggestion. In fact, she stalked off. I wanted to give her the benefit of a doubt. As I would any member of this crew.
We traced the matter, the problem. That a message had been sent to the Kazon. Masked by a test we had performed on the dorsal emitters a week before. Whoever did it was very skilled at covering their tracks. Only problem was that the entire engineering staff had opportunity to do it. We were trying to trace it to a specific workstation. To a specific person.
Another Kazon ship appeared, trying to hail the one we found. ETA was for four hours. Kathryn saw no reason to hail them yet. Then the unthinkable happened. Seska beamed over to the Kazon ship, unauthorized, disobeying direct orders. Was she destroying evidence that she had a part in it, or trying to prove her worth.
If a finger was going to be pointed, the direction was toward Seska.
I told her to get back. I was torn. While we debated the subject on the bridge, something over there happened and she was hurt. I went to sickbay.
We brought Carey up to ask him some questions. We have to cover all our bases. It was traced to his workstation. He has a good Starfleet record. But Starfleet records have been known to lie and be falsified.
We were hailed by the Kazon ship and Kathryn invited the Maje and a member of his crew over to see the survivor of the other ship.
So this Maje came over and killed our only witness. The doctor says Seska isn't Bajorn, but Cardassian. Kathryn hadn't said anything. I wanted to be the one who questioned her. Tuvok worked for Kathryn, Seska was working for the Cardassians.
Was anyone working for me?
Culluh came back, threatening us. War if we removed anything from that ship. Kathryn made the comment. "You know, I'm really easy to get along with most of the time. But I don't like bullies. And I don't like threats. And I don't like you, Culluh."
She threatened them. They stood down. Engineering retrieved the console from the other Kazon ship.
A food replicator that they didn't know what to do with. Technology they didn't have clue as to how to integrate into their systems for compatibility.
Kathryn was mad.
So I went to sickbay to talk to Seska. I don't know anymore. She told me about a child hood disease. All a lie. I talked to the doctor, ruling out anything that would make her appear Cardassian.
I set her up as Tuvok was doing to Carey. Who would be the culprit, the one guilty of selling out Voyager to the Kazon? The one to go against every principle that we had been fighting for since we were brought here. The principles that Kathryn held near and dear to her heart.
Who will take the bait. . .Carey or Seska?
My bet is on Seska. That is one bet I was willing to lose.
Tuvok and I played Gin Rummy, waiting for the bait to work.
And we got a nibble.
I was right.
It was Seska.
We confronted her. Every lie, every deception. You couldn't lie to a holographic doctor with the collective knowledge of every bit of medical information we had in the storage banks. She was Cardassian, the same race that had murdered my family and destroyed my home. The reason I left Starfleet. And as a Maquis captain, I had played right into her hands.
She did it for me, she said, for the crew. Then she did the worst thing she could have done, trying to pin the blame on Kathryn. How can she blame Kathryn for what happened? And for the first time I really saw Seska. Saw how ugly she really was. The Cardassian was evident, even behind the Bajoran fašade. I had to have been blind not to see it sooner.
She told Kathryn she was a fool. And I was a bigger one for following her. She beamed over to the Kazon ship and left. Almost good riddance. If I were a fool, so be it. When I make a commitment to a cause, whether it was fighting for my beliefs, or following Kathryn, I was in it for the duration. If that made me a fool, then I was proud to be one.
Kathryn was angry and betrayed.
So was I.
I went to the mess hall later and talked to Tuvok. I asked him to be honest with me and he was.
I understand finally what Kathryn went through with Tuvok a few weeks back, the betrayal of her friend, of someone she trusted. Granted, my relationship with Seska had been different, but it was still there.
I understand, now, Kathryn. I truly do.