Harry Kim came to visit him the afternoon of the next day. They had a severely edited conversation, and a rather uncomfortable one at that, well aware of the security guard's presence. They talked about what Tom would do when he was released, because Janeway would never allow him back in the kitchen. Tom suggested that he be appointed to the holo-gym as a human punching bag.
Harry didn't find it very funny.
The security guard seemed to like the idea.
Tom knew, vaguely, what would happen if anyone dropped the force field, time for his release or not. His plan wasn't very detailed, but it had a certain goal in mind.
He would run like hell.
He would leave Voyager.
He would never, ever come back.
But he just smiled and let Harry ramble on about taking a position in cargo storage. It was perfect for him, his friend explained. Very few crewmembers for him to work with, not a single Maquis.
Except, Tom thought, those crewmembers would have the daily opportunity to drop huge, heavy containers on top of him.
To Harry, he just said he would inquire with the Captain at the end of his sentence.
If she's still the Captain.
Harry left the Brig without ever saying, "I told you so," although Tom knew Harry had every right to throw his dubious judgment of the Captain back in Tom's face
And Tom let him leave without so much as a hint to Harry that he'd been right. Right on both the Captain's ability to discern the going's on that he'd thought she was oblivious to, and on the Maquis' plan to take Voyager.
To which Janeway was truly unaware. Or perfectly content to let them go through with it, anyway.
How had she managed to catch him, a single person, and not take notice of what a good part of the crew was involved in?
Hmm. Because he'd been tattled on, he'd guessed that much. By Chakotay, he'd decided. The Maquis wanted him out of the way for a while. And Janeway didn't have a clue about the mutiny because the Maquis were damn good at keeping their plan quiet. No Maquis was going to tell.
But Tom could.
He wrestled with that thought for a very long time.
It sounded like the Maquis had had this in the works for a very long time. Alerting the Captain to it might only speed up its arrival. And make it all the bloodier.
And telling certainly wouldn't endear him to Maquis, should they be the victors.
But maybe Star Fleet would be able to defend against the uprising. Or maybe they wouldn't.
There were too many scenarios in which the Maquis won and in which they would execute their swift revenge against him.
Execute. Gee, there's irony for you.
He'd keep his mouth shut, Tom decided. Whatever happened would happen without warning from him.
He felt rage building in his chest.
Janeway was blind, deaf, and dumb. Who the hell gave her a Starship? She was as responsible as the Maquis for whatever was going to happen in five days. Four, now. There were people in her crew who didn't deserve to be led to their deaths by an incompetent Captain. Not many, but some. Any deaths would be on her inept hands. Including his own.
A poor Captain would know when her crew was abusing an individual for fun. A decent Captain would know when her crew was divided into two alienated and aggressive parts. A good Captain would have prevented the separation in the first place, and the Maquis wouldn't feel they had to do this.
But Captain Janeway was a Captain four days away from losing her ship and had no idea what was coming.
It was then that Neelix entered the Brig. He was carrying a steaming tray. Behind him, little Naomi Wildman followed.
"Hello, Tom," Neelix called.
"Hey, Neelix," Tom replied. He couldn't keep the smile off his face when he saw Naomi. Her mother frequently left her with Neelix during her duty shifts and during her personal time with Ken Dalby. By association, Tom saw a lot of Naomi.
Naomi was only a toddler by human years, but her Ktarian paternity gave her the size and intelligence of an older child. But not the patience. The Security Guard had to grab her arm to prevent the child from running smack into the activated force field. Once Neelix deactivated it and set the tray down inside, Naomi ran inside the cell and into Tom's arms.
"Captain Janeway's taken away your replicator privileges," Neelix quietly explained the presence of the tray.
"I think it's a fair exchange," said Tom, one arm around sweet Naomi. He paused. "Did you make it?"
"Yes," said Neelix.
Tom dug in without the fear that someone had taken revenge for poison with poison.
"Where's you mother," he asked Naomi, who was digging into his chocolate pudding with her fingers.
"I don't know." The chocolate pudding was now being spread around her mouth.
"Samantha had some work to do, she said," offered Neelix. "She's not on duty, though."
Samantha Wildman was probably off working hard to save herself and her daughter from the hell to come. Samantha had never bothered him, never tried to keep her daughter from associating with him, and never participated in the Maquis-Starfleet hostilities. And now she knew what even the Captain didn't. There was a smart woman. He looked down at her daughter. A little chocolate mess never hurt anyone. If that was the worst thing Naomi had to deal with, then her mother was doing a fine job.
Maybe the future would be better if it was Captain Samantha Wildman.
Part 13 | Index page