Title: A Reason ( Pt3)
Tom who was coming in from the other side of the corridor had the advantage of seeing B'Elanna without her doing the same and heard the name she called out. That name brought back memories for him. He hadn't heard it since he went to prison but had a clear recollection of the feelings that it could invoke in the Alpha Quadrant. This made him doubly nervous about his upcoming meeting. He knew that the Captain had met with Chakotay and explained the plan but hitting Chakotay had not been part of it. He had excused that to her, saying that he needed to make it look good for the rest of the crew. For him, it was an added bonus to him for the part that he had to play. Now though, it seemed that things were spiralling out of their control and for Chakotay to invoke his Maquis calling card, it couldn't be going in a good direction. Things were going to change and he felt he was caught up in the middle of it all as usual. He sent a message his relief officer and told her that he would be in a meeting with the Commander and would relieve her as soon as the meeting was over. After that, Tom got to the office in question and pressed the buzzer.
"Come in," he heard the First Officer say as he waited. There was no inflection in the voice so Tom forced a bland expression on his own face as he entered the office.
Seeing Chakotay waiting, he asked, "Commander, you wanted to see me?"
"Yes, Lieutenant. Come in and have a seat." Tom did that while watching the man sitting opposite him warily.
Chakotay watched with some amusement when he saw the wariness on Tom's face. He assumed that Tom had probably heard the Maquis name that B'Elanna had called out when she left. He let him squirm for a moment before continuing.
"Over the last few days, while you were away from the ship, I realized, there is only one other pilot who can fly VOYAGER in the middle of an emergency, that being me. In the case where both you and myself are incapacitated for any reason, there would be a problem. As the Chief Pilot on VOYAGER, I am informing you that your department is sadly lacking in staff. Unfortunately, since we are not within the reaches of Starfleet command where we could pick up some more personnel, I have decided to schedule a training course for some of the crew in rudimentary and advanced flying."
To say that this was least of things that Tom expected from the Commander would be an understatement. He then went on to interrupt the other man. "What do you mean by training course? Where can we run such a course and who will be running this course? Also, who will be attending? You can't expect people to give up their free time to lean how to fly if they are not interested."
Chakotay waited for Tom to finish before answering, "No, I don't expect that. The course will be run on the holo-deck and I know that you write very good flight Sims so you'll write some. Also, you will be running the course, since it is your department. I'll tell you now; interest isn't really a factor, because it will be a part of their duty to this ship. The crew assigned will be put on the roster to attend the training course as part of their shift duties and I will be overseeing the whole training program. To reduce your workload, I will be taking the rudimentary class while you take the advanced class."
Tom was still surprised and sceptical, so he asked, "When you say advanced class, are you expecting to give me pilots out of these people? Because we all have our different duties and a lot of people can not work double shifts."
"No, this is a cross-training program, Lieutenant. You won't have any new pilots but we need to have people who can fly the ship. They'll probably never fly VOYAGER but we should reserve the option to call on them if we need to. VOYAGER is a lone ship and the crew needs to be versatile in different areas so as to pick up the slack should one crewmember leave or die."
All this Chakotay said with a straight face and a blank expression on his face. This lack of expression more than anything was what worried Tom the most. He spoke like he knew something that the others didn't and his eyes were empty and hard. Tom didn't think anyone else was leaving the ship but considering that a few days earlier, he had acted like he was leaving, he could understand the precautions being taken. But he had the feeling that precautions were not the only thing on the Commander's mind.
Chakotay gave Tom some time to think about what he'd proposed. Then he continued, "The advanced classes will be divided into categories, the first being the one that will be attended by the pilots in your department. Your objective at the end of the course would be to make them battle ready and capable of flying VOYAGER in the middle of an emergency. The second advanced class will be for the students that I will be sending to you from the rudimentary class."
"Why send them to me? Why don't you teach them yourself since I will be already be teaching a class?" Tom asked him.
"I don't fly VOYAGER daily so I can only teach them the elementary skills and an introduction to flying. I can start by taking them through some smaller crafts and then VOYAGER. You are the Chief Pilot of the ship, and you know what to expect from VOYAGER and any of the crewmembers that sit at her helm. Also, my duties will not allow me the time to take on so many extra duties."
Nodding in acceptance, Tom decided to negotiate for the new members of his department. "So, how do you choose the crew members that will be taking the course?"
Expecting nothing else from the other officer, Chakotay gave him the PADD containing the information. "I have a list here of people whom I think will be satisfactory. I need you to pick three names that best suit your requirements from these five. Meaning that VOYAGER will have six people who can fly her at the end of this training program."
Tom looked at the list of five names that were given to him. The list consisted of three Maquis and two Starfleet crew. He needed people that he could trust with VOYAGER, who would not panic at the first sign of trouble and who could take the strain. He knew the two of the Maquis on the list and remembered that they were strong-minded and could handle it so he selected them and one Starfleet member who had been primarily assigned to astrometrics.
"I select Crewman Terrall, Crewman Kiowa and Ensign Hamina," he told Chakotay.
Chakotay didn't express any satisfaction at the names chosen. He trusted that any of the five on the list could do the job. "Those are good choices. I will let them know about their new duties. And I will give you three days to give me a lesson plan. Not a comprehensive one though, I need an approximate length of time so I can plan the roster around. That will be all, Lieutenant."
Chakotay said this and then bent his head after dismissing Tom as if to continue with what he was doing. Tom stood up to leave. He was surprised by the nature of the meeting and felt he should say something about the happenings of the past few says but didn't know what to say. His indecision showed in that he remained in the Commander's office for a while.
When Tom didn't leave his office immediately, Chakotay raised his head and saw the expression on Tom's face. "Is there anything else you would like to ask, Lieutenant?"
Tom couldn't decide so just answered "No Commander, nothing else."
"Then dismissed, Lieutenant."
Tom left Chakotay's office and went back to the bridge to finish the rest of his shift. He didn't quite know what to make of the meeting he'd just had but it looked like the Commander was taking him a bit more seriously. If this was so, then something good came out of the ruse.
When Tom got to the bridge, he noticed that everyone looked at him probably wondering what the meeting with the Commander was all about.
// I bet the truth would surprise all of them// he thought to himself. He saw Harry looking at him worriedly and gave him a small smile to let him know that all was okay. It wasn't quite long after he arrived that Chakotay joined the senior staff on the bridge. His demeanour was still unchanged from the morning staff meeting, a fact that had escaped no one.
The Captain was also curious about what was on Chakotay's mind. She thought that it was unlike him to be this quiet over a perceived slight. He'd made his feelings very clear when he'd discovered that Tuvok had been a Star Fleet operative put in his cell.
The shift was relatively quiet and at the end, Chakotay asked to see Janeway in her ready room.
"Captain, I've prepared a list of the crewmembers that would be taking the Pilot training course. Lieutenant Paris will be running the course since it's his department."
Janeway released an un-needed breath at Chakotay's opening. "So that's what your meeting with Tom was about." She unwittingly said and fought to hide her flush at Chakotay''s knowing look. "Yes, Captain. What did you think it was about? Chakotay asked her with barely hidden amusement, which she didn't appreciate.
Ignoring it, Janeway asked, "Did Tom agree with the people you chose."
"Yes, Captain. I didn't go over his head. I gave him a list of candidates and he decided on those that met his criteria." When she looked as if she were about to respond to his jibe, Chakotay went on, not giving her the opportunity. "I also have ready for you the energy consumption reports for the last week. The rest of my reports should be ready soon."
Kathryn was surprised at this. This was not what she expected from him. The reports were not yet due and there was no hurry regarding the training program that he had thought up. She looked at him with a perplexed look on her face. "Thanks, Chakotay. But these reports are not yet due and there's no rush for the new pilots."
Chakotay was amused by the look on her face. Smirking, he dared her to find fault with the way he did his job. "I know Captain, but they were ready anyway. Are you going to the mess hall?" he asked her as he usually did. He didn't see any reason to give the crew more to talk about regarding the whole debacle. He was going to take care of it in his own way and in his own time. Meanwhile, they had a ship to run and a crew to get to the Alpha Quadrant. This was the only consolation that he had through all that he faced in the Delta Quadrant. But it was soon getting to a time when it would not placate him anymore.
Janeway was further thrown off balance by Chakotay's question. It seemed that the Commander wanted things to get back to normal. The thought should have given her a good feeling but for some reason, she felt like he was holding something back. It didn't look like she would be getting back her likable First Officer today.
"Yes. I think I'd better have my meal there. Do you think that the crew has settled down now?" she asked him.
"What do you mean 'settled down', Captain?" Chakotay asked her with apparent innocence. He wanted to see where she was leading with her line of questioning.
"Don't tell me you didn't know that things got a little hot in the middle exposing Seska's spy."
"Well, I know that a few people were upset when they thought Tom was leaving and when it turned out to be an act. But Neelix and Tom cleared it all up for everyone on his show 'A Briefing with Neelix'. Chakotay was unable to keep the slight bitterness out of his voice. And this was the indication that Janeway needed to let her know that he was not as calm as he appeared. She winced at the bitterness though, that had not been her intention. Chakotay noticed her wince and ignored it before continuing, "As for the rest, I didn't see anyone yesterday because I remained in my quarters. It wasn't so different this afternoon when I was in the mess hall."
The two Commanding Officers got to the mess hall in time to meet up with a majority of the crew having their own meals. The noise level dipped slightly when they walked in and when the crew saw them together, they continued with their business. It seemed all was well with the crew.
It was not the same at one corner of the mess hall towards the kitchen. Neelix had pulled Tuvok aside as he came in for his meal. Tuvok thought to himself that if he were not Vulcan, his impatience with the Talaxian would have boiled over long ago. He ignored this because the Talaxian was good at letting him know what the scuttlebutt about the ship was. Like he told the Captain, it wasn't for the intention of participating in rumour mongering, but a good way to maintain security by anticipating trouble as it spreads. This time the question that he was asked did surprise him but his only indication of that was a raised eyebrow.
"Good day, Mr. Vulcan, before you make your selections could you please tell me what the word 'Bãrbat-a-r'azboí' means. I have tried the computer libraries but it doesn't seem to be there."
Tuvok looked at Neelix intensely, as he tried to decipher the reason behind the question. The only thing that he could read on the other's face was a genuine quest for knowledge so he answered, "Interesting, Mr. Neelix; it seems your predilection for seeking out new things has not come to an end. Could you let me know where you came up with that phrase? It is one I didn't think I'd be hearing again so soon."
"Oh you know me, Mr. Tuvok, everybody discusses everything in the mess hall and I listen. It is a good way to obtain ideas for my talk show program. So are you going to tell me what it means?" Neelix bluffed his way through not answering the question.
When Tuvok just looked at him with a raised brow, Neelix shifted impatiently getting slightly impatient with the Vulcan. He knew that the word had a special meaning because he had heard a few of the Maquis mention it, and he had gone closer to listen some more. He asked a few of them for the meaning but they clamed up and didn't tell him anything. After the show with Tom Paris, Neelix needed something else to take the crew's minds off what had happened with the Commander, especially the Maquis crew and from the way people were acting, it seemed like he had discovered the very thing that would distract them. That is if someone were to tell him what it was all about.
Tuvok saw the barely concealed impatience on the Talaxians face as he thought about the correct way to answer the question. "It is a private name that was used by the some of the Maquis while we were in the Alpha Quadrant. That is all I can tell you about it but it is my opinion that if you are seeking ideas for your talk show, this is not the right path to choose."
Neelix huffed at the non-answer. "What is the whole secret? I just need something to take the crew's minds of the Commander and this seems to be what most of them are talking about anyway."
"Mr. Neelix, whatever the mood of the crew's mind, your show is not to be used to invade peoples privacy. This is a private matter and the present circumstances have given you an indication of what could occur if you do not respect the privacy of the crew. Good - day."
As Tuvok left the little man to his thoughts, his own thoughts were on the name he had heard. It came to him from a different time. He mused that he had no logical reason for withholding whose name it was from Neelix. He just didn't think that it would be the best topic for the next edition of 'A briefing with Neelix'. Tuvok then went about having his meal.
End Part Three