Equilibrium - part 10

The chirp of her comm badge woke her and she stretched, wincing slightly as certain muscles twinged in protest. She'd had a very good night, a very satisfying and energetic night in fact. The new and improved Michael had performed extremely well - and she felt as though she had banished all semblance of arousal with his help. And he'd kept his promise - she had screamed and yelled and generally been extremely vocal in her pleasure - but then the Captain's quarters were soundproofed.

'Janeway here,' she knew she sounded groggy and didn't particularly care, whoever this was better have a damn good reason for waking her.

'Captain - I apologise for disturbing you,' Lt Hansen made a fair stab at sounding apologetic, 'but I have some information I believe you'll be interested in, I'm in sickbay.'

'I'll be there in ten minutes.' She pulled herself out of bed, passed through the sonic shower and made her destination three minutes earlier than anticipated.

Lt. Hansen was alone in sickbay when she arrived, looking immaculate and slightly apprehensive. Janeway spared a moment to wonder how she managed that, even though she clearly hadn't been to bed and then batted the thought away to say, 'this had better be good.' She pulled herself onto a biobed and glanced around her, 'where's the Razor?'

'Gone to his virtuous rest, or so he claimed.'

'Well that's good news, I'm far too tired to deal with him at the moment. What do you have for me?'

'The identity of your spy.' Without waiting for her comment she continued, 'I agreed with your analysis that the Maquis was the most likely place to start - assuming that your presence was a coincidence. I couldn't really find anything to go on, but I asked for their DNA patterns to be checked - it was a hunch.'

'And?' She had nothing against hunches, if they paid off.

'And Seska is not Bajoran - she's Cardassian.'

'Are you sure?'

'Apparently there are Cardassian markers in her DNA - completely unmistakeable. They were very well camoflagued, but then they would be, wouldn't they?'

'Logical explanations?' This was almost too good to be true.

'Not according to our medical expert. He did suggest that she might try to wriggle out of it by claiming that she had suffered from an illness that was only cured by a transplant of Cardassian bone marrow.'

'But we don't believe that?'

'Apparently not. That would result in an entirely different set of markers.' Well, this was a turn up, she wondered if Chakotay knew, if he even suspected and how he would react when he found out and then she stopped wondering because there were other things to concentrate on.

'Well done Lt.' The unexpected smile of gratitude on Lt. Hansen's face told her that she had not been paying enough attention to the confidence levels of this particular member of her crew. 'Shall we go and confront our guest?'

They paused only to collect another security officer and their phasers. Meeting outside Chakotay's quarters Janeway felt the buzz of anticipation and again a knot of concern. Loyalty was important - to lose that, to find it had been misplaced - well she knew how difficult that could be. Nodding to Lt Hansen to tap in the override code she braced herself for a difficult and probably unpleasant interview.

Chakotay stirred at the sound of the door, although Seska moved only to burrow more closely into him and then he froze with shock at the sound of Janeway's voice. 'I'm going to have to ask you to get out of bed - slowly.'

'Captain,' he sat up, pulling the sheet up around him as Seska raised a tousled head. 'This is an interesting form of hospitality - I refuse to help you and suddenly we're your prisoners?'

Her gaze was unflinching as she responed, 'at the moment your position is unchanged - I do however object to offering hospitality to a Cardassian spy.'

'What?' She had looked past him and her gaze now rested on Seska's naked shoulder, 'what is going on?'

'Seska has Cardassian markers in her DNA.'

'According to your tests.' Seska's voice was a low drawl but it was still laced with scorn, 'you'll forgive me if I'm not deeply concerned by the allegation.'

'I'll be more than happy to find a neutral Doctor to repeat the test.' Before Seska could respond to the challenge Chakotay interupted.

'How did you find out what you think are Cardassian markers?' He answered his own question, 'from the transporter records? Hardly reliable data - there's obviously been a mistake.'

Yes, Janeway thought, that would be how it would strike you at first, if you had no suspicions, if you trusted the person accused, if you loved them. 'I'm happy to carry out another test using blood.'

'A test you can fix.' Seska spat back venomously.

'Suggest a Doctor - if I'm happy about their neutrality we'll go to them. Otherwise one might start to wonder if you have something to hide.'

'Seska,' Chakotay reached out and touched her shoulder, 'its obviously a mistake, we should just co-operate and then get the hell out of here.' Seska nodded, her lips trembling in what seemed to Janeway to be a good approximation of being upset.

'All right,' she swung out of bed, flaunting her naked body as she bent to retrieve her clothing. 'Enjoying the view?'

She enquired of Lt. Hansen, who didn't so much as bat an eyelid, merely pointing out, 'I believe you were going to dress,' before she backed off a few steps.

'We'll sort this out and be on our way,' Chakotay announced sliding out from under the covers. Janeway prepared herself to avert her eyes but then she realised that he wasn't naked under the sheets, he was wearing soft grey shorts - a detail she couldn't imagine why she had noted. A moment later she was glad she hadn't looked away because as she watched his gaze flicked to Seska and there was something in his expression that surprised her - suspicion. 'I have to say I'm disappointed by your attitude Captain, but I suppose I shouldn't be so surprised by this sort behaviour from a Starfleet officer.'

She started to respond, to point out that she wasn't a Cardassian spy, to remind him that he'd walked into a trap just a few hours ago - but something else caught her eye. In the split second it took her to realise what she had been seen Seska had already pulled what looked like a weapon from her bundle of clothing and pointed it at the person who stood between her and the door - Chakotay.

'Look out!' Janeway pushed him roughly out of the way as Seska fired. She lifted her own phaser to return fire, but then there was a deafening thud, the thunder roaring in her ears. Someone cried out sharply, but the sound was distant, disconnected and her legs crumpled beneath her, almost as though the ground had tilted.

'Hold on,' Chakotay's voice was calm and soothing as he leaned over her. She couldn't understand why his hands were pressing down on her, until she glanced down and saw the blood.

'Oh God,'

'Try not to talk; it isn't as bad as it looks,' he said quietly, a strained, shaky smile gracing his lips then over his shoulder he said firmly, 'we need to get Captain Janeway to sickbay now.' Her vision blurred, she thought she heard someone say 'she's dead' but that was surely a mistake. The air was still and she knew that her grip on consciousness was tenuous, fragile. It slipped more and oblivion beckoned.

Part 11