Equilibrium – part 11

This time the pain was different…this time. Having reached the conclusion that if she were dead she wouldn’t be hurting this much Kathryn Janeway spent a moment trying to catalogue how many injuries she’d racked up over the last few years and then gave up before she started to scare herself. She opened her eyes, wincing at the strong light, and at the expression on the face that greeted her.

‘Welcome back Captain,’

‘I feel like crap,’ she announced, choosing not to dwell on the ‘did you have to go out and get yourself injured again?’ look her Chief Medical Officer was wearing. She closed her eyes again until she felt the hiss of the hypospray against her neck.

‘Well that’s hardly surprising,’ Lewis Zimmerman, Chief Medical Officer of the starship Voyager crossed his arms and regarded his Captain, a woman he was secretly quite fond of, with his trademark blend of condescension. When she didn’t respond he sighed, loudly and tapped his comm badge.

‘Zimmerman to Commander Cavit.’

‘Cavit here,’

‘Captain Janeway has elected to rejoin the realms of the conscious – by the time you get down here Commander I expect to be mid-way through our fight about how soon she can return to duty.’

‘I’m looking forward to it already.’

Janeway was having one of those moments when she regretted being the only Captain in Starfleet who could stand to have Dr ‘Razor’ Zimmerman as her CMO. Before hitting Voyager his glorious career had spanned eight Captains in six years – a record unequalled in fleet history. She still wasn’t sure how she’d managed to put up with his for the last two years. But, despite his manner, which frequently got under her skin, she wasn’t complaining. He’d saved more lives that she wanted to think about – including hers, again.

‘How bad?’ she asked, pushing herself into a sitting position.

‘This did all the damage.’ He shook a container at her and something metallic rattled inside. ‘She used a primitive projectile weapon. The projectile in question rips through whatever it encounters – in this case your chest. A few hundred years ago you wouldn’t have made it, as it was you lost a lot of blood before you got to Sickbay. It was fortunate there was someone there who had the sense to stem the blood loss.’

Suddenly she was back on the ground with Chakotay’s hand pressed onto her chest, her blood everywhere. The Maquis, her sworn enemy telling her it wasn’t as bad as it looked, the man who’d come to her aid instead off … ‘Where’s Seska?’ she asked as Commander Cavit strode into the room flanked by Lt. Hansen.

‘Seska didn’t make it,’ Cavit replied, ‘she’s dead.’

‘Dead?’ That didn’t make any sense, ‘but she fired her weapon at me first, I’m not even sure I hit her.’ She went cold suddenly, ‘Chakotay didn’t?’

‘No,’ it was Lt. Hansen who’d spoken and Janeway was just a little pleased to discover that she actually looked tired, and her hair was noticeably less than perfect. Of course, being in charge of a security detail where your Captain ends up almost bleeding to death, saved only by the quick thinking of a man who should be a prisoner will tend to make your façade crumble just a little. ‘Your phaser did hit Seska – it was an accurate shot under the circumstances.’ Damned by faint praise Janeway thought but didn’t comment, ‘but as you know your phaser was set to stun. I have checked your weapon thoroughly in case of malfunction but it is excellent working order.’

‘Then why is she dead?’

‘This,’ Zimmerman held out a small object to her, as though that would reveal everything.

‘What is it?’

‘I removed it from the base of her skull – I believe that it delivered a massive electrical charge to her body – and we think it was triggered by your phaser.’

Janeway was beginning to feel dizzy but she wasn’t about to admit that and have Zimmerman medicate her some more. She rubbed her forehead and tried to marshal the facts, as they knew them. ‘So, we’re saying that Seska had some kind of failsafe device implanted in her body, that my phaser triggered, which killed her.‘

‘There have been reports that the Cardassians fit such devises to spies, so if they are captured they can’t be interrogated.’ Lt. Hansen sounded as though she admired the idea, if not the application.

‘Fabulous,’ Janeway swung her legs around and contemplated standing up. ‘How’s Chakotay?’ Cavit and Hansen exchanged glances, ‘how much of this does he know about?’

‘He was here until you came out of surgery, and then he returned to his quarters – he asked to be left alone.’ She looked up at Zimmerman and contemplated asking him how Chakotay had seemed – but she wasn’t sure that the answer she’d get would be of any great use. His inter-personal skills were not on a par with his surgical skills.

‘Captain,’ Commander Cavit moved forward with an expression she recognised, because there was nothing wrong with his inter-personal skills. ‘If you’re thinking of doing what I think you’re thinking of doing, I’m afraid I’ll have to ask Dr Zimmerman to relieve you of duty.’

‘Can I remind you why we’re here? Why we spent several hours today in orbit of Dorvan V. We came looking for Chakotay, we came to talk to Chakotay.’

‘And now we’ve uncovered the fact that one of his closest colleagues was a Cardassian spy who died trying to fight her way out of here. This is not going to encourage him to talk to us.’

‘I know,’ she rubbed her forehead again and saw the Razor frown, ‘but who else does he have?’

Half an hour, and a hypospray of pain killer, later she and Cavit were still having a variation of the same conversation. But they were on their way to Chakotay’s quarters so Kathryn was prepared to be magnanimous – having carried her point.

‘I don’t understand why this matters so much Kathryn – this isn’t like you.’ They had been working together for a long time and it was arguable that he had seen her at her worst as well as at her best. She could see his point – it wasn’t like her to respond to something so emotionally.

‘I’m not sure that I can explain this to you,’ certainly she couldn’t tell him about a visitor from another universe who had infused her with his certainty that she and only she could reach Chakotay. ‘I’m tired of fighting and I’m scared to death that we might loose – and realistically we need to make an alliance with the Maquis. This might be our best chance to do that.’

‘The fact that he hates the Cardassians more that he hates the Federation does not mean that he wants to ally himself with the Federation.’

‘I know.’ She’d been thinking about this since she’d first met Chakotay, trying to reconcile the moments when she thought she’d reached him with all the moments when she’d seen hate and anger in his eyes.

‘You think the old saying "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" will be enough?’

‘No, not really.’ In truth she was clinging to the belief that somehow, miraculously she was the key; although it was the flimsiest reason she’d had for doing something in a long time. She paused outside the guest quarters assigned to him. ‘I need to try again – and if the conversation flags, well perhaps we can trade stories about how it feels to be betrayed.’

Part 12