Beth6787

August 2018

Delta Pioneers - 2. The Council

As realisation starts to set in, divisions grow on the way forward...

New Earth, NE valley, seventeen days since final touchdown ...

Kathryn Janeway sat in what had been her Ready Room and stared out of the cracked window at the valley beyond. It was approaching sunset and a group of those who had once been her crew were leaving with the last of what they had stripped down fromVoyager that day.

They would have a couple of miles to travel with their burdens, having followed Chakotay's suggestion that everyone set up camp near the river, where the two of them had built their cabin all those months ago. Currently, the last of her ship's power reserves were being used to maintain the cloaking field, masking their presence from anyone in orbit or any starships that passed by. Reducing the likelihood of their detection by the Vidians or Kazon : but also by anyone who could assist them with escaping from this rock!

She knew that Chakotay, Ayala, Dalby and a small crew of engineers that Torres had cobbled together, were busy converting the hull plating into underground piping to carry fresh water and take away sewage from 'Hope Town'. That's apparently what they were calling it : the former Maquis. She and the other 'Fleeters had several terms for it that she would not deign to record in her official log. Even this purely personal one.

Assuming they had given up all hope of ever getting Voyager space borne again : then it made sense. Tritanium was hardly an element naturally found on any M class planet, so any detection of it above surface would announce their presence : and the cloaking emitters would run out of power any day now. Thus Voyager would be no more within a week or so unless she found a way to stop them. But how? What argument could she rationally make to persuade them to change course? All that was still space worthy was the one shuttle left behind with the two of them six months ago now. Probably the only reason for this was a lack of time to get around to dismantling it. That oversight would not last for long. If she and a few of the senior Starfleet crew were going to take the shuttle and go find help, it had to be soon...

Tuvok had approached quietly and she had yet to notice him. He stood just outside the door to her private inner sanctum, respectfully waiting for her to bid him enter. The last seventeen days had been mental torture for himself and Vorik, the only two amongst over one hundred and twenty sentient beings with the mental discipline to quell their emotions. It was very apparent to them both that the situation was rapidly deteriorating. The former crew had split into two 'tribes' for want of a better description. Actually, that was very...apt.

The former Maquis had almost all 'sided with' their former commander, Chakotay. They had been impressed with what he had achieved, almost single handedly, on New Earth when stranded there alone with Captain Janeway. They had all commented, unkindly in his opinion, on how little the Captain had done to assist him. She had been obsessed with finding a way off the planet to the detriment of everything else. And she was doing the same now. Camping in what was left of Voyager : refusing to accept reality. They were colonists themselves, the children and grandchildren of the pioneers that had set out for the outer worlds on the fringes of civilised space a century or so ago. Most had had a similar upbringing to Chakotay, learning how to live off the land and thrive without the comforts of 24th century technology. Those that had not, soon learned whilst serving with the Maquis.

The Starfleeters were a different matter altogether. They had all passed the Academy survival courses, many with honours, but those skills were taught so that a stranded team could survive temporarily whilst they awaited rescue. It was never envisaged as a permanent way of life. Coupled with that was the, now obviously permanent, separation from all that had been awaiting them back home. In the Alpha Quadrant. Spouses, children, parents, siblings...the list went on. Listed as missing in action and presumed dead well over a year ago by now. Those back hone would be moving on with their lives, looking forward. We need to do so as well. They had naturally turned to their Captain for guidance : that was when the real problems had begun. Kathryn Janeway was utterly opposed to accepting this as their last resting place. She had insisted that any base camp be regarded as entirely temporary whilst they awaited assistance from outside. In the meantime they were to begin repairs to Voyager with immediate effect. Chakotay had publically disagreed with her. That had led to the Maquis and later, a few of the more pragmatic 'Fleeters, to join Chakotay in concentrating their efforts on creating Hope Town.

Obviously the bulk of the Starfleet personnel had remained loyal to the Captain and tried to effect repairs. This had led to skirmishes with one group repairing one system whilst another came and stripped the adjoining components down. Eventually the 'Fleeters had regrouped on Deck 1 and defended it from further incursions. So their Captain had an - almost - intact Bridge and adjoining command rooms and precious little else. Of course, none of the Bridge controls was now connected to anything useful so she would be forced to concede defeat any day now. What worried him was the fallout.

They needed to build bridges, repair the damage done to the relationships between those who had supported Kathryn Janeway and the majority who had accepted their new lives. For that to happen as painlessly as possible she needed to leave Voyager and go talk to Chakotay, Ayala, Torres and Dalby...

She had been aware of him for a while now, silently observing her. No doubt condemning her lack of logic and inability to hold her people together. She had failed utterly as their Captain and most of the crew had - inevitably - abandoned her by now. Only those blinded by inexperience and plain desperation to get home were still 'living' - what a misnomer that was - on Deck 1 with her. She knew what Tuvok had been building up the courage to say for the last two weeks. That she must see the bigger picture; re-build trust between the two factions; be seen to be supporting their efforts to establish a new home; make peace with Chakotay and act in the best interests of her loyal Starfleet crew. She knew all that and she did agree with him. It was just mentally and emotionally impossible for her to let go. After all, they still had Neelix's old freighter. It was, miraculously, intact. Perhaps she could persuade him to lend it to her whilst she attempted to form an alliance...?...

"Captain, may I have a moment?"

He obviously wasn't going to take the hint and leave his lecture unspoken. "There's no need to say it Tuvok. I've already said it all to myself."

Tuvok came and sat opposite her. Remaining silent until she turned to face him. "Then perhaps a different voice will assist you to listen."

He was chastising her, openly. That hurt.

"Kathryn, I use you given name on purpose. Our former ranks were pertinent to our former lives. Here, they actively hinder. Every day that passes the old divisions between the crew grow. Every day more are succumbing to the inevitable and offering their assistance to the teams building the new settlement. Alas, they are meeting with open hostility and being rebuffed. Why should those that put the effort in from day one cede ground and resources to those who have actively obstructed them? Chakotay, Ayala, Torres and Dalby have formed a loose leadership. They lead by example and consensus and they are making progress. But it is only yourself that had had extensive command experience on this scale. Your scientific expertise is very much needed and your absence keenly felt. By those at the new settlement and those still here in close proximity to you. You are absent from your entire crew in all but body."

He had said enough to reach her, he fervently hoped. Now it was necessary to listen in return.

"Tuvok. You are my oldest and dearest friend and, you know, I value your counsel above all others. I hear you. This will be difficult for a Vulcan to appreciate, but will you try - for me?"

He merely inclined his head and waited.

"My gut, my every instinct, is telling me that this is not meant to be the end of our journey. There has to be a way to salvage Voyager and resume course for home. I know, I know. You are about to tell me I am being irrational, succumbing to wishful thinking rather than objectively assessing the situation for what it is. Wait a moment and consider. One hundred and fifteen of the one hundred and twenty seven people on this planet now are human. That's over ninety percent Tuvok. It's the fact that we are human that is driving the current discord, but it is also the reason that you turned Voyager around, risking everyone's lives in order to engage the Vidians and acquire the anti-serum for Chakotay and I. At that time you, a logic driven Vulcan Captain, risked the lives of one hundred and thirty of your crew to rescue just two people. Why?"

He felt perturbed. It had been irrational, illogical, human of him.

Kathryn smiled sadly "I know why Tuvok. Because that same conflicted, irrational crew insisted on it, didn't they? Just as not one of them stood in that cargo bay a little over a year ago when I offered them the chance to settle in the Delta Quadrant and join the '37s colony. Everyone, Starfleet & Maquis alike, chose to risk life and limb on a decades long journey on the very small chance that we would make it home. I do not believe that need has fundamentally changed just because we have taken one more nasty battering. We may be down for now" she gesticulated to embrace what was left of their battered life raft "but we are by no means out."

Tuvok considered what she had said. Kathryn Janeway had sat here for the last fortnight thinking and she had decided to fight her corner. He would not dissuade her today, or maybe for a long time to come. Granted, she understood more of human nature than did he, but this impasse could not continue indefinitely.

"Perhaps you are right. Regardless, a new consensus must be reached soon. Every day that passes lessens the bonds between us. Whatever you decide to do, do it soon."

She regarded him sadly. "Understood, Tuvok. You are dismissed."

Seconds later she heard the Ready Room doors creak shut behind him, finally having the privacy to release her tears.

Meanwhile at Hope Township...

Tom Paris busied himself, helping Neelix and Kes prepare dinner. It was a major undertaking as all ninety six of them had to eat at the same times each day. With the lack of power and primitive resources open to them, it was not practical to arrange to take meals in shifts. So, it took at least three people, working flat out for a couple of hours, to ready every meal. It also gave him a good excuse to spend some time with Neelix and Kes. After all, they were the only two genuinely friendly faces around here. He had chosen to help set up the township from the word go. Not because he necessarily agreed with the Maquis contingent but he was concerned by the deteriorating situation. Neither side entirely trusted him so that gave him a unique perspective amongst the AQ natives, ironically only shared by their two 'local' shipmates. It had been Neelix who had persuaded Tom to get Tuvok to speak to the Captain, though Tuvok did not have the full picture. At least, not yet.

Tom had been assigned to a lot of the donkey work these last few days. He had - quite literally - become the pack horse. Lugging too and fro between the rapidly forming township and what was left of their former home, Voyager. Each time he had carried as much as he was physically able. Usually assigned to assisting the burly guys such as Dalby, Ayala, Carlson & Fitzpatrick with the heavy plating and structural components. Whenever they thought he was out of earshot they would discuss the problem. That's how they referred to their former Captain and the woman who had saved each of their ungrateful butts on more than one occasion. He had listened and eventually come to Neelix. After all he was still the Morale Officer and besides, Neelix was a genuinely nice guy. If anyone could build bridges and resolve this before Chakotay became aware. It was him.

Tom thought back to yesterday evening. He could still recall that conversation word for word. He doubted he would ever forget it...

Dalby looked over his shoulder to make sure Paris was out of sight. It would take him at least twenty minutes to climb down to the stream and fill all five water bottles. Longer if another section of the cliff path had broken away with the overnight rainfall. Turning back to the other three he spoke hurriedly. "So, are we all in agreement? We make our move in three night's time if the bitch is still holed up in there."

Carlson was easily led and besides, Dalby was right wasn't he? "Like you said Dalby, the big guy has gone soft on her. Someone's got to sort it out."

Fitzpatrick laughed "I bet he was fucking her almost from the get go. Told her one of his 'ancient legends'. That worked like a charm every time. Even sucked Seska in!"

Ayala was uncomfortable. Sure the big guy had a way with the ladies but this one was different. He sensed that Chakotay genuinely cared for her. Maybe it was more lust than love but there was something there. He really should speak to his buddy, before these jerks did something they would all regret. "Come on guys. Give it a rest. I'm sure Chakotay will go sort things out with her soon."

"Going soft on us in your old age Ayala? or do you fancy your chances with our former Captain yourself? Have to admit, if she was gagged to shut that bossy mouth of hers, I wouldn't mind giving her a good seeing to myself. After a few minutes with me she'd know her place."

"Shut your filthy mouth Dalby, before I shut it for you." Ayala had had enough.

"Hey, hey. We're all on the same side. Remember?" Carlson tried to bring the conversation back to their plan. "Torres needs those tactical modules and sensor couplings housed under the Bridge consoles if she is ever going to get the new power plant operational. Janeway won't give them up whilst she is still dreaming of flying her ship away to never never land. Chakotay won't just go get them, he's still waiting for her to come to her senses in her own time. So it's down to us."

"I say we wait a little longer. I'll speak to the big guy. Bring him around. There's no need to hurt her." Ayala hoped that if Carlson backed down then maybe Fitzpatrick and Dalby would too. Just for long enough for him to warn Chakotay of what they were planning.

"You'll keep your stupid mouth shut Ayala" this from Dalby, the self appointed ring leader. "Chakotay might still be hung up on her, even if he's had no action from her since we all got back. He's probably well pissed we screwed up his little fuck fest with the feisty redhead."

Fitzpatrick heard rustling in the bushes near where Paris had disappeared earlier. "Shut it Dalby, Paris is on his way back. I don't trust him not to grass. Let's load up and get moving."

By the time he reached the spot where they had been sitting they were already almost out of sight on the path ahead. Tom crouched down and moved the large pebble next to where Dalby had been sitting and retrieved the micro-recorder. As soon as he had delivered his load to Torres and Vorik he had headed for the temporary latrines and played the recording back. Then he had come to Neelix.

Neelix listened to Tom's recording with mounting horror. He knew that Dalby and his gang of thugs resented their former Captain and her influence over Chakotay, but he had had no idea that Dalby and Fitzpatrick were such misogynists. Whatever they were planning, had to be stopped and from the sound of things they were rapidly running out of time. Thank goodness he had sent Kes to the stores for more of that bland root vegetable that proliferated along the river banks around here. "Tom, you have to warn Chakotay. He was their captain before you all joined Voyager. If anyone can deal with Dalby it's him."

"Sure. Chakotay will punch the living daylights out of the man, if he doesn't just phaser him first. Then the Maquis will split again. Those with Chakotay and those with Fitzpatrick and the others. We'll have succeeded in turning our two acrimonious camps into three. There's got to be a way of getting Captain Janeway out of there of her own volition. Perhaps she would listen to you? You and she were good friends on Voyager after all, and being a local - so to speak - a neutral voice."

"You flatter me Tom but do you seriously expect her to take tactical advice from me? Besides, I'm not sure how she feels about Kes and I now. After all, we did join the 'pioneer group' straight of. We have to speak to Lieutenant Tuvok. She told me once that she's known him for over twenty years. If anyone can get her to come over here and talk, it's him."

Perhaps Neelix was right but there was no way he would replay that tape in front of Tuvok unless all else failed. "Alright, but I'm only going to give him the gist of what's brewing. Otherwise he'll just decide to take Dalby and the other morons into custody, which will start an all out civil war."

Neelix had looked uneasy but didn't have the chance to argue further as Kes returned with the extra vegetables. So, he had finished preparing supper and then dished up two servings for Tuvok and Vorik who always chose to dine alone. After he had delivered Vorik's he had gone to speak to Tuvok.

For once the Vulcan had treated him with respect and agreed to speak with Kathryn Janeway. Then he had thanked him. That told Thomas Eugene Paris just how serious the situation had become.

—-

Two nights later...

Dalby and Fitzpatrick made the final checks on their devices. After Ayala's show of cold feet and Carlson's attempts to broker the peace they had decided it was best if they worked alone. Besides, it would arouse less suspicion if only the two of them slipped away. Dalby had it all planned down to the second. Nothing would go wrong and, so far, it had been perfect.

Earlier in the evening they had made a show of burying the hatchet. Fitzpatrick had brought a couple of rounds of drinks for Ayala and Chakotay whilst he had made a point of challenging Torres and her new buddy - the scumbag Paris - to a game or two of pool. Making sure he beat the scumbag but letting Torres get one over on him. He even managed to appear gracious about it. Hah! Letting a woman beat him and smiling through it all. If that didn't get them off the hook with 'the boss' and that Talaxian freak then nothing would. Now to get down to business.

Fitzpatrick had already skirted the perimeter of what was left of Voyager and using the stolen tricorder. verified the location of that bitch. She was alone, in what was left of her Captain's quarters. Good! That made things easier. The others were mostly asleep in what had been the senior crew quarters and it seemed only the Vulcan traitor Tuvok was on guard, though he was not on the Bridge itself. Fitzpatrick was to sneak onto the Bridge through what was left of the old Jeffries tube behind the former Tactical station then remove the housing and get the components Torres needed for the power plant. Meanwhile he would set the explosive devices to go off ten minutes later. One to be placed just where Fitzpatrick had been working - so the evidence of what they had removed would go up in smoke - and the others to be placed in Janeway's quarters. He would capture her first and drag her out, but the resulting explosion would make it look as though she had been killed. After all, she would be the only 'Fleeter still on board unaccounted for by the morning. He'd prepared the dug out and even Fitzpatrick was clueless. So, that bitch would be all his to fuck whenever he felt the need. Grinning he gave his partner in crime the thumbs up "All set? Good. Now remember, the second you have the components freed start the timer and get the hell back to camp. Don't look back."

"You sure no one's gonna get killed?" Fitzpatrick felt suddenly nervous. Perhaps they were taking things a bit too far.

"You have my word. This little bomb won't do more than smudge the paintwork. It'll just create enough of a diversion to get Tuvok's attention centred on Janeway's quarters and the rest will follow giving us both time to get back here and in our bunks. Torres won't know who her papa Christmas was when she finds her goodies in the morning."

—-

Kathryn was awoken by the pressure on her chest. She instinctively made to roll over but someone grabbed both her arms and pinned them above her head. Then she realised she was naked, she also couldn't feel anything below her waist. Trying to focus in the dark she realised it was a man but it wasn't until he spoke that she felt the full force of her fear. Dalby.

"I can see you guessed it. My little fun potion, just to make sure the lady obliges. Oh don't worry, it'll wear off in an hour or so and you won't have felt a thing. Shame really, I'm sure you'd have enjoyed it but this one will have to be a quickie. See, there's going to be a little bit of a commotion in about ten minutes time..." Leering he shifted his weight and she saw his erect penis hanging out of the opening of his flies. Dear God, he planned to rape her, here and now!

Thinking quickly, she realised she had to play along. Get him to release her arms... "Ken, please...you know it'll be more fun if I join in. After all, I've had plenty of practice with Chakotay these last few months. I can see you are so much bigger...down there. It won't be much fun if you do that now, whilst I'm paralysed and can't pleasure you...but my mouth still works fine and I give great head. She saw him waiver then he moved up her body with his throbbing penis just a couple of centimetres from her mouth. Resisting the instinct to vomit she opened her mouth and felt him slide in. He moaned, on the point of ejaculating, when she bit down as hard as she could.

He screamed and reflexively released her arms. With lightening speed she twisted her upper body, grabbed the phaser she kept in the bedside cabinet alcove and fired point blank at fell half draped over her with his flaccid penis now dripping it's contents down her neck. Rolling onto the floor she grabbed at her nightdress just as Tuvok and Paris burst through the door. Shouting at Tuvok to get everyone out before the bomb detonated, she did her best to cover herself.

As soon as Tuvok was out of the door Tom Paris went to help Kathryn up. She just shook her head and pointed to the, now empty, hypospray lying on the carpet. "He must have drugged me before I awoke. Tom, I can't feel anything below my waist..." . Horrified, Tom Paris realised that he had been five minutes too late. Not caring whether Dalby was just stunned or dead he carefully lifted Kathryn off the floor and headed down the corridor as quickly as he could. They were just nearing what was left of the Bridge when both devices blew. Tom was hurled back against the bulkhead but managed to hold onto Kathryn for dear life. Rolling her underneath him the world faded to black.

Tuvok had managed to herd the remaining 'Fleeters out into the clearing just as Chakotay, Torres, Hogan, Bronowski and Chell hurtled into sight.

Chakotay reached then first "Tuvok, is everyone out and accounted for?"

Tuvok looked around. No sign of Tom Paris or the Captain... "Dalby was in the Captain's quarters. Already dead I think. She shouted a warning about the explosives and I left to clear the ship. Tom Paris was with her. They must have been caught in the explosion before..."

Chakotay and Torres had hurtled towards the hull of the stricken wreck before he had finished his sentence. Hogan and Chell approached and drenched them both with water before they covered their mouths and plunged in. What was left of the Bridge was a towering inferno so they turned to head back along the corridor leading back to the Captain's quarters.

It was B'Elanna who spotted then first. Tom's singed back just visible through a pile of rubble. Soon Chakotay and Bronowski had cleared the wreckage and Tuvok lifted Paris gently away. He was unconscious but his breathing was steady. Underneath, Kathryn Janeway moaned. She was conscious and had some cuts and grazes but nothing was broken. Thanking the spirits he told her to put her arms around his neck and he would help her up. It wasn't until he went to let go and she crumpled over that he realised there was something seriously wrong with her legs. Fearing a spinal chord injury he shouted to Chell to go grab one of the remaining intact mattresses to carry her on.

Sobbing Kathryn shook her head "No. I'm not injured from the blast. He...he drugged me. I awoke and couldn't feel anything from the waist down." Then she started shaking and wretching. If Dalby wasn't already dead he soon would be! The moment he was sure he had Kathryn to safety.

Chakotay and Tuvok carried their precious cargoes back towards Hope Town with Chell and Bronowski helping them. Torres brought up the rear, holding a gun to Fitzpatrick's head. She had caught him on the way back with his loot. Sickened, she realised it must have been around the time Dalby was... As they left the clearing behind she briefly glanced back and saw the last of the glowing red hull turn black. The fire was out and what was left of Voyager faded away in the smoke along with the last hopes of the 'Fleeters to see their homes again.

Dawn, the following morning, Hope Town Mess Hall...

Everyone was there. Even Tom Paris and Kathryn Janeway, both bandaged up and looking the worst for wear but with their heads held high.

Tuvok, Chakotay, B'Elanna Torres, Neelix and Joe Carey had stayed up talking for the remainder of the night. After they had ensured that Kes and the EMH were tending to both their patients and neither was in imminent danger. Thank goodness Kathryn had insisted that temporary holo-emitters had been set up in their old cabin and the Doctor's program installed as soon as Voyager had started to be dismantled. As much as she was against abandoning ship, she had been concerned for the safety of those constructing Hope Town and had thought them in greater need of the Doctor's proximity than those remaining aboard. It was one of the many kindnesses she had showed to those who had abandoned her. He just wished he had spoken out before now. Then perhaps they would not have experienced any of the events of the last couple of days.

Knowing that things had to change, by dawn they had eventually settled on their plan.

They would form a council. Consisting of three representatives amongst the initial Hope Town construction group, three from those that had chosen to remain on Voyager and three neutrals. The 'neutrals' would be Neelix and Kes (as DQ late arrivals to Voyager) and Tom Paris who had been distrusted by both sides yet had risked his life to save their former Captain. An hour ago the five of them had visited with Kathryn and Tom and explained their proposal. Both had immediately agreed. They had chosen three former Maquis to represent the 'townies' namely Chakotay, Torres and Ayala. For the Voyager contingent Kathryn, Tuvok and Joe Carey had offered their services. Now, all that was left was to put it to the vote.

Moving to stand at the front of the hall where Neelix and Sam Wildman had set up a row of nine chairs Chakotay motioned for everyone to sit. The hall fell silent. Standing to face the crowd he began to speak.

"Firstly may I extend a warm welcome to those of you who have until today, remained on Voyager. This is your home as much as it is ours. Those of us who set out initially, simply paved the way by utilising our long dormant colonial skills. We created this place for you, our Voyager family.

Sadly, as you are all now painfully aware, an extremist faction amongst us chose to exploit the temporary divisions they saw for their own agenda. In the process destroying what remained of our ship and harming the one person we all owe our survival to. Our Captain, protector and greatest friend, Kathryn Janeway. I hold myself responsible. Why? Because we should have talked long ago and resolved our differences instead of striving for opposing goals. We should have pulled together, not apart. Last night brought that into painful focus for us all.

Now we have a proposal. We need a team to lead our new community. The job is too onerous for one person and this is now a civilian colony, not a military starship. As such we need a democratic form of government. We propose a council, consisting of nine members who will be re-elected or replaced annually. Bearing in mind the current teething problems within our new society we propose three former Maquis, three former Fleeters and three neutral councillors. Those who have volunteered to serve this first year are respectively :- myself, Mike Ayala, B'Elanna Torres, Kathryn Janeway, Tuvok, Joseph Carey, Tom Paris, Neelix & Kes.

If there are any objections to those nine volunteers please raise them now. He waited with baited breath but the room remained silent. Nodding to the others they rose and took their seats. Worried, he glanced briefly at Kathryn but she was able to walk almost unaided, though he noticed the subtle arm B'Elanna just happened to ensure was within reach should she need to steady herself.

Once the others were seated, Chakotay took his chair. Then Carlson stood up and started to clap. Soon the entire room was joining in.

Looking along the line at his fellow councillors he reached for Kathryn's hand and squeezed it gently. She responded by smiling at him then taking BElanna's hand the other side. Soon all nine of them were bound together. ...

And so dawned a new era.

TO BE CONTINUED...

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