Title: A Reason ( Pt4)
Over the next couple of days, the life pattern of the senior staff of Voyager remained unchanged. Chakotay had become more and more introverted and even B'Elanna was getting worried. His standard answer when asked how he was always remained the same, "I'm fine, How are you?"
Janeway didn't think that the single act of not giving Chakotay full disclosure during an operation warranted the withdrawal that he was exhibiting. In her opinion, he was working too hard and trying to be the perfect First Officer but the person he became was not 'her First Officer'. She didn't want the perfect one, she wanted Chakotay, but she didn't know how to break through the veneer of emotionless calm that he seemed to have wrapped round himself.
Tuvok was also watching. Ever since he'd heard the Maquis name from Neelix, he kept a closer look at the Commander's movements. Tuvok had heard of the warning being given along with the name and was intrigued at its necessity. Furthermore Tuvok noted that the Commander had withdrawn from the crew and was working above his optimum level. If he continued in that pace, the Commander was likely to fall ill. Tuvok hadn't made any mention of this to the Captain but he knew that she was also concerned and estimated that she would be seeking his counsel regarding the matter very soon.
Late evening a few days later, while Tuvok was working in one of the Jeffries tubes; he overheard a discussion that was going on below him. The crewmembers were talking about the new roster that had been posted and the three members of the crew who had been chosen for the pilot training program.
"Have you noticed that our people are being reassigned everywhere lately?" Said the first person.
A second voice responded, "What do you mean reassigned everywhere? I know that Gerron is now working in Engineering since Jonas died but who else has been reassigned?"
"Where have you been? The warning from 'Bãrbat-a-r'azboí' was very serious. He has assigned two Maquis to Tom for pilot training. I wonder why he is pushing people up." A third voice could be heard asking.
The second voice started, "That is the thing with 'Bãrbat-a-r'azboí' though, you never know what to expect from him. Just when you decide that he is going to fly, he starts to crawl or vice versa just to keeps you on your toes." Somewhat disbelieving, she continued, "maybe he feels that they need training."
"Right." The third voice said sarcastically. Next, the first voice tried to be convincing, "He might be putting people in a position to help him if needed."
Again, the second voice told his compadrés, "Looking at the way things happened with the Captain; Tuvok and Tom on one side with him alone on the other; can you blame him?"
After this they walked away. Tuvok hadn't been able to discern two of the voices but he knew one of them was Ensign Jih'nua. He reflected on they had said and could see that things were far from settled on VOYAGER.
The Captain had discussed the Commander's initiative to get the crew cross-trained in different areas with him and at the time it had seemed a well thought out logical solution to the low number of pilots. From this conversation thought, it would seem that not everyone thought so.
Harry had also heard the rumours about the training program being a ruse to promote the Maquis crewmembers but he didn't quite know what to make of it. So confused, he had no option but to ask his personal resident expert-Tom. That evening, when he looked around for Tom, he didn't find the blond man at any of their usual meeting places so he went to Tom's quarters where he found him harried at his desk. Tom had the appearance of a man who was very busy. To Harry, it was a different look from what he expected from his friend.
"Tom, I am going to spend some time at Sandrines, would you like to come and shoot a couple of games of pool?" Harry asked, thinking that he would use that opportunity and ask the Pilot about the rumours at the informal bar setting. Tom just lifted his head from the computer station he was working on and with a distracted look on his face answered
"No. I'm sorry, Harry. I'd like to but the Commander is expecting a report from me and the way he has been lately, I don't want to get on his bad side."
Harry was disappointed but determined to get some information out of Tom anyway. "That's okay, but can you spare me a few minutes while I am here?"
"Sure. What's on your mind?" Tom asked as he turned his chair from the table and faced his friend.
"I know you have heard the latest rumours so can you tell me what the Maquis mean when they say that ''Bãrbat-a-r'azboí' is protecting you'?" Harry broke off when he saw his friend pale. "Tom, are you okay?" He asked worriedly.
Tom had felt all the colour drain from his face when he heard that. He had heard the name being said of course but hadn't looked into why it was being used. Also he had been busy the last couple of days, spending time with the Delaney sisters and then trying to get the training schedule ready for Chakotay. Peripherally, he had also wondered why the Maquis crewmember's anger hadn't manifested itself physically but had wrongly assumed that it was because everyone had bought his story that it was just an act. Apparently he was wrong. He was under Chakotay's 'protection' and bitterly, he wondered what this would cost him.
Noticing that Harry was still looking at him with wide eyes, To m tried to placate his friend. "I'm .Okay, Harry. You just surprised me that's all."
"You hadn't heard?" Harry asked, surprised. Usually, Tom heard most things happening on the ship even before he did.
"Not all of it, No. The name you mentioned is the name that was given to Chakotay in the Maquis. It could instil a strong reaction in people and when you check the circumstances under which Chakotay left Starfleet, that reaction was really warranted. Because of the stories that went with that name, Chakotay's cell group was listed as one of the best. Why do you think he had spies from everywhere?" Tom tried to explain to the Operations officer.
"What stories?" Harry asked. He was very interested. He didn't know a lot about the lives of some of his friends while they were in the Maquis and hadn't thought it appropriate to ask. But now that Tom was volunteering information, he reasoned that he might as well glean all that he could.
"It wasn't just the one story, Harry." Tom answered his friend after a moment. He could see that Harry was genuinely interested. "You have to understand that to them, they were living on their wits and the Maquis had to make the Federation and the Cardassians take them seriously. When Chakotay was in Starfleet, he was a very good tactician and was on the direct route to being a Captain. His scores in Command School were extremely high and before you ask, yes I looked it up. He was teaching the advanced tactical training course at the academy. So you see, when he came to the Maquis, he had a strong sense of outrage, and he was determined to use his knowledge. He brought with him a level of honour and was very dedicated. He wanted to get revenge or maybe get even for his father's death and he was fighting because he believed in the cause and this made him a very dangerous man. At first it caused some waves but he had an air of command that just blew away his opponents."
Tom paused in reminiscence but before he could be overcome, he continued his tale to his enraptured audience "Chakotay's cell could get you into anywhere and get you anything. They did it if it could be done; their loyalty to him was unprecedented. He planned it and they did it." Tom took a deep breath and continued quietly, "Literally, that name means Man - of - War and in those times he really was! I'm not quite sure how it got started but after a while, as Chakotay got more daring in his pursuits, the name stuck. Those were different times and Chakotay was ruthless and no one would dare to cross him. Just the name caused a reaction, and in most cases that was enough."
Harry could only look at his friend with his mouth open. This wasn't what he was expecting, and he couldn't hide his shock. He was also shocked at the awe in tom's voice that the Pilot couldn't hide. No matter what Tom said about his animosity with Chakotay, there was no hiding the admiration that the blond had for the Maquis Captain. At least while he was in the Maquis. "So are you saying that he's suddenly changed out here in the Delta quadrant? Because I don't see in Chakotay what you are describing. And also, why do they say he is protecting you after the stunt you pulled?"
Somewhat worriedly, Tom answered his friend, "I don't know Harry. No one has said anything to me about it. Chakotay has mellowed out here in the Delta, but for that name to be used, the Maquis are taking it seriously and I wonder what he has planned in exchange for his so-called 'protection'." Steadily angry, Tom spat out the protection like it was a curse.
Tom's reaction showed Harry what the other man thought of the Maquis Captain's protection and he couldn't help asking, "Are you going to ask him about it?"
Tom scoffed at his friend and answered, "You bet. I went through the whole act with Tuvok and the Captains approval so he should have no problems with me. If he is still upset about the whole thing, he should take it up with both of them. They planned it."
Angry thought passed through Tom's mind. It was one thing not to get caught out on his duties so he made sure he stuck very close to the regulations but this wasn't the Maquis and Chakotay wasn't running the ship so he didn't need any protection and he was going to let the Commander know that. Protection - what a laugh. He knew that Chakotay slept with both Men and Women but it wasn't his personal style. Not even in prison had he paid for protection. He wasn't going to start now.
When Harry saw the anger on Tom's face, he decided to take his leave. He didn't want to be in the Commander's position when that anger erupted. Harry wasn't that naïve, from the inflection Tom had put on the word, he guessed that Tom assumed the Commander was going to ask for sexual favours in return. He didn't know if the Commander was bisexual and he didn't think that Tom was one either.
After Harry left, Tom couldn't concentrate on the rest of his work. He was glad that most of it was done because he didn't think it would be possible to accomplish much more. He had already finished the training schedule so he decided to give it to Chakotay right away and deal with the protection issue while it was still fresh in his mind and his anger hadn't abated. Checking the Commander's whereabouts revealed him to be in his quarters. Tom decided against comming the Commander to give him time to prepare for his visit. He needed to see what the other man's gut reaction was.
"Come in." He heard when he pressed the buzzer. He entered and watched the big man in there. "Good evening Commander. May I talk to you for a few minutes?"
"Yes of course. Come on in. What can I do for you Lieutenant?" Tom winced at that enforced politeness between them. Chakotay had started calling him Tom in the past few months but ever since the wile, it had gone back to their titles.
"I have finished the schedules for the training course and thought to let you have them." Chakotay was surprised at that. The report wasn't due for couple of days.
"Thank you, Paris, but you didn't have to bring them to me tonight. They were not due and you could have delivered them to my office in the morning. So why are you really here Lieutenant?" Chakotay asked with a hint of amusement in his voice. He had seen a hint of anger in Tom's eyes and deduced that the reports were not solely responsible for the visit. Chakotay wanted to get whatever it was over with and get back to being on his own. He didn't really want company anyway.
When Tom heard the silent laughter, he let himself recall the anger that had come over him while Harry was in his quarters. He felt that he needed the added edge of that anger to go through with the upcoming confrontation. He then forced himself to look at the other man saying, "I heard, Commander."
Surprised, Chakotay looked at him and asked, "heard what, Lieutenant?" To which the blond pilot answered, "I heard that you had placed protection on me."
"Okay. What is the problem?" Chakotay asked. He didn't bother denying the charge, as that would be an exercise in futility. Tom nodded when he noticed that Chakotay hadn't denied his charge. He then made his query. "I want to know the price."
"What do you mean by price?" The line of questioning now surprised Chakotay.
Tom answered his Commander in a musing manner, "I remember when I first came aboard VOYAGER, you asked me what my price was. So now I am putting the question to you. What is the price for my protection?"
The idea that Tom expected him to collect payment for this annoyed and disgusted Chakotay and he let this reflect on his voice when he answered. "I don't expect anything from you Lieutenant. There is no price. You had a job to do that unfortunately put you in a position where you could attract some form of retribution from some members of my old crew. As far as I am concerned, I am still the First Officer on this ship so it was my job to put a stop to any such tendencies. I was just doing my job same as you were doing yours, Paris. It has no strings attached!"
"No Commander. Your job as the First Officer is not to put a protection on me and from what I heard; the protection was put on by 'Bãrbat-a-r'azboí'. That is your Maquis marker, which means that you are not following Starfleet regulations on this."
Weary of the conversation, Chakotay dismissed Tom's concerns. "That is just a name people made up Lieutenant. It doesn't mean anything. Get over it. I'm doing my job."
"Is this some kind of payback? I was doing the job the Captain gave me when I acted out and made you look bad in front of the crew and now you are doing the same to me."
By this time, Tom's good sense must have been over ruled by his anger and it was just the anger talking or else he would not have continued with the conversation. He could see that Chakotay was getting angry and perversely, he wanted to see that anger. It meant that he was getting a reaction from the Commander, which was something no one had done recently.
Chakotay waited for Tom to finish ranting before he started his own. "Payback for what Lieutenant? I don't really understand the problem you are having. What am I to pay you back for?"
"Can't you see Commander, it wasn't my fault. I was just doing the job I was given so why are you taking it out on me. If it really upset you that much, then take it out with the Captain and Tuvok not with me. I don't want any protection from you. When I was in prison I saw the price that some people paid for the so-called protection they received and frankly I'm not interested and I won't pay your price."
To Chakotay, this insult was the limit. He was now too angry to check his tone or his words so using a hard voice he said slowly, "Lieutenant Paris, I repeat there is no price. It is my job to look after the welfare of the crew. I did it with the means available to me, a protection message. If someone thought that using a Maquis signature gave the added advantage of getting the message across, then that was his or her prerogative. Your coming here to talk to me about payment and price is an insult. I am going to assume that you didn't think through this line of thought before coming here. I don't act, Lieutenant, I do my job. You are dismissed."
By this time Tom was losing control of the argument and didn't want to so he continued, "I was just acting as the Captain told me to Commander. So get over it and leave me out of it, okay."
Angry and offended Chakotay set to let Tom know his mind. "Lieutenant Paris, I haven't done anything to you. You should notice that the only reaction that I have had since you came back from the Kazon ship has been to stop any retributions on you. If the way I went about it upsets you, then it is unfortunate, but it was my job. And if my reaction to the whole debacle is not what you expected, then that is your problem. I have just gone about doing my job as always. The fact that Tuvok and the Captain didn't trust me enough with this case doesn't mean that I haven't been doing 'my' job. The case is over and the spy has been caught. Next time, please think before you come to my quarters with accusations. I do not want to have this conversation again. Now I've had enough. Get out."
Tom left the quarters with a look of astonishment on his face. The confrontation hadn't gone as he thought it would and couldn't believe that Chakotay threw him out of his quarters. Chakotay must have been really angry.
Captain Janeway knew that something was happening and that Chakotay was at the centre of it because he was freezing her out and the rapport they once had was no more. She didn't think he would give her a straight answer so she fell back on her long-time friend and confidant, Tuvok. Janeway knew that the Security Officer would give her the whole story and being a Vulcan, there would be no emotions to cloud the issues. That being the case, she set up a meeting with him that evening in her quarters. Tuvok showed no reaction to her request but she had a feeling it was something he'd expected. She bid him in when he pressed her buzzer, "Come in Tuvok."
"Good evening Captain. How can I be of assistance?" Tuvok asked her, straight to the point as he usually did.
"Sit down, Tuvok." He did so and she continued. "I know that there is something going on with the crew on my ship. Why are they suddenly very busy when I go through and I see them talking in huddled corners? I have heard Chakotay's name being mentioned and so far, I haven't been able to get a straight answer out of anybody. I trust that you know what the story is so please let me know."
Tuvok didn't know how to answer her questions without incriminating the Commander but he told her what she knew. "There is nothing going on as you put it, Captain. But there are a few issues that are being addressed."
"Okay, What issues?" Janeway asked with slight impatience in her voice.
"The first one pertains to the crew reshuffle-ling and the training course which Chakotay has scheduled. Crewman Gerron was assigned to Engineering and two of the crewmembers chosen for the pilot training are ex-Maquis. It seems some of the Maquis feel that Chakotay is putting people he trusts in key positions of the ship for whatever plans he may have. Chakotay has made no comment whatsoever regarding these rumours, so this is just a speculation amongst the crew therefore I cannot comment on the it 's veracity."
Janeway was very silent after she heard this. It occurred to her that things were not as calm as she'd thought. Moving on form Tuvok's explanation, she started, "Alright, that answers one of my questions. What is this I hear about someone protecting Tom? There is a name that is being used and I do not know this person. He or She is not a member of my crew and I want to know who they are. Is Tom in danger? What is it?"
Tuvok was a bit discomfited with this line of questioning. There was no logical reason why he should protect the Commander but as in the case of his discussion with Neelix earlier, he didn't want to talk about Chakotay's Maquis moniker. But be that as it may, the Captain had asked a question and deserved an answer from him.
"Captain, I assume that the name you heard is 'Bãrbat-a-r'azboí' . The literal translation of that phrase is 'Man - of - War'. It is the name that was given to Chakotay while he was in the Maquis. From what I understand with its inference is that the Commander didn't want there to be any retaliation on Tom as a result of the ruse so he placed him under his protection. I do not know if Lieutenant Paris is aware of it or what he has said about it. Also, as far as I can determine, the Commander has no other intentions except the Lieutenant's safety in mind." Raising one brow, Tuvok tried to impress on Janeway the need to let things lie. "Captain, I do not see anything in the Commanders actions so far indicating that he intends to usurp your authority but if you are concerned, then I think it would be best if you talk to him about it. That is my best advice."
While all this was going on, Chakotay was finding it very hard to concentrate on the work he had to do. Tom's insinuations were very clear in his head. To him, it was a complete misinterpretation of his intentions. He then decided to meditate about it, as there was no other course for him to take.
"A-koo-chi-moya. I am far from the sacred places of my grandfathers. I am far from the bones of my people. But perhaps there is a powerful being who will embrace me and give me the answers I seek."
When he opened his eyes, Chakotay discovered that he was not at the usual place where he met his animal guide. He was back at Dorvan V. He remembered this place as a child. He had enjoyed the life they'd lived here. When he grew older, he had found it stifling but as a young man with his family, his mother had made it home. He found himself standing at the edge of a cliff. This surprised him because he didn't remember this part. He started looking for his animal guide and didn't find her anywhere. He then started walking round the edges looking for a safe place he could stand and wait till his guide made her appearance. Around one corner, he saw a rough path but he continued to walk. The next road he saw was a lot smoother but he didn't feel like taking that one either. Just as he was getting impatient, he heard his father's voice
"Chakotay, do you remember how long it took you before you decided to tell me that you were leaving the tribe? You don't have that long this time around. The road you chose is a difficult one. It took you away but it has also brought you back. Now is the time to make a choice."
Hearing his father's voice was a surprise for Chakotay and he could only ask unthinkingly, "What choice father? What are you asking me to choose?"
"You have always been my most stubborn child. I thank the Spirits for it is them that have made you so. Now, you have to choose between your life as you know it now and the one destined for you by the Spirits. A life with the Spirits is always a journey my son. They will always guide you and you need not fear the destination."
Chakotay nodded at his father. While he agreed with him, he also needed to know some things. "Why now father? I came back to the tribe some time ago and now that I am not with them you are asking me to choose, what should I choose? Haven't the Spirits been with me so far?" Chakotay did not hide his fear with his last question. He couldn't bear the thought that so far, his journeys had been done on his own. Before he could panic further, he heard his guide's voice
"No Chakotay. We have guided you ever since you called on us to do so." His father then continued, "You came back to the tribe not because you chose to, Chakotay, but because you had to. This happened when you heard I had left and you were angry. Now, you no longer have that anger and you are a long way from the tribe so it is time to make a choice for yourself and not for the tribe. You are also in the place where you have to decide on the best path to continue on your journey. Do you want to walk the path of the spirits?"
At this point, Chakotay's meditation ended abruptly laving him very confused. In rumination, he wondered to himself, what the path of the Spirits entailed and what happened to the conversation he was going to have with his guide about his issues with Tom. Shaking his head, Chakotay agreed that the Spirits were right about one thing. He had to decide about the right path to take regarding this whole mess with Janeway and Tuvok. Momentarily. Chakotay tried to speculate about why it bothered him that Tuvok hadn't trusted him. He'd always thought that Tuvok having known him longer than Janeway would have more faith in him. Consequently, he felt more betrayed by the Vulcan than by his Captain.
The next morning, the senior staff meeting was rife with tension but few understood its origin. Tom was still upset about the outcome of his meeting with Chakotay the previous evening; he recognized that the way he had approached Chakotay was wrong and didn't know how to go about making it right. Harry looked at Chakotay with suspicion, wary of the Commander because he couldn't relate the man he thought he knew with the man Tom described in his quarters last night.
B'Elanna had also heard the rumours and was waiting for Chakotay's reaction. Tuvok was slightly apprehensive, as he knew that the situation couldn't continue as it was. Something was bound to give somewhere and he couldn't correctly predict what would happen. Tuvok knew that when dealing with emotional issues and humans, they often didn't follow the logical path and he couldn't surmise which way this particular situation would take. Tuvok just reacted to it all with the customary lift of his eyebrows. He was Vulcan. What else could he do?
Janeway just looked at Chakotay with new eyes; she didn't know how to diffuse the situation. After everything she'd heard from Tuvok the day before, she knew that she had to confront Chakotay. Looking at Tom, she deduced correctly that Tom had also heard the same thing about the protection and was not happy about it.
The whole meeting had a feel of distraction to it, causing Janeway to round it up quickly. She then cautioned them all to pay more attention in the future. Chakotay asked to talk to her and she agreed.
"Captain, Tom has given me his training schedule and after a brief look at it, I have decided that it will be better if I take the gamma shift while I am running the course and thus get the selected crewmembers used to VOYAGER away from the holo-deck. Towards the end of Tom's advanced training course, I'll also assign him to takeover the gamma shift and run some emergency procedures." That sounded reasonable to Janeway so she agreed to the proposal. It didn't deter her though from her original plans to talk about the rumours.
"Chakotay, have you heard the scuttlebutt around the ship lately?" She opened up a new discussion topic. Chakotay had but didn't want to volunteer any information and based on Tom's reaction last evening, he was sure he needed her to direct the conversation.
"Which scuttlebutt is that Captain? There are always stories flying around in a ship this size; it is in the very nature of a collection of people this large to have something to talk about. Which particular rumour are you talking about?" he ended up asking here quite innocently.
"I know. The first one is regarding your so-called protection on Tom. That sounds like you are running a Maquis operation right down to your name. I'm sure you know the name I am talking about, 'Bãrbat-a-r'azboí' " When he winced at the mention of that name, she knew that she was on the right track. "Need I remind you that when you agreed to join Voyager, you agreed to work as a Starfleet Officer?"
If Chakotay was annoyed at her presumption, he didn't show it, so blandly, he answered her, "No Captain, you do not need to remind me about that. But when you chose to use Tom for your operation, you opened up a can of worms and left it directly on my lap. Tom being more accessible to the crew than you is an escape-goat for any grievances as a result of the ruse to expose crewman Jonas. Crew welfare is my job and responsibility and while I can still do my job, I'll protect any member of the crew the best way I know how."
"Even if it is not within Starfleet rules. Is that what you are saying?" she asked him straightforward and wasn't really mollified when he nodded his head positively.
"Captain, I am doing my job as your Executive Officer. Starfleet is a long way from here and though we are trying to follow its directives, those directives do not cover this situation. We are a lone crew in hostile territory with little or no help from anyone else. We need to take care of in-house problems before we take care of outside interference. I didn't want it to develop into a security issue so I put a halt to it the only way I could by letting everyone know that retaliation was unnecessary. If my method doesn't meet your approval then I apologize but at the time, it was the only option available to me. I'm doing all I can to keep this crew together. When you pull stunts like the one you just did, you make my job that little more difficult. I remember when I chose to go after Seska on my own, you gave me an official reprimand so who reprimands you out here, Captain?"
Janeway gasped at the impudence of the man watching her. She couldn't understand where Chakotay got the audacity to question her methods and figuratively call her to the carpet. Quite strongly, she told him, "This is not a democracy Chakotay. You accepted my command when you joined this crew and I will do whatever is necessary to get us home within the prime directive. Is that clear."
Chakotay only watched as she sidestepped his question, and answered her, "Quite clear, Captain."
She nodded at him regally and continued, "The next issue that I want to take up with you is in regards to the training program. Two of the names that you put forth are ex-Maquis and I understand that some of the crew think you are re-shuffling the crew to put them in positions that would make them useful to you for whatever reason that people have decided. Now I know that this is not true but I need to make you aware of what is being said."
Chakotay thought that this was taking things too far. Wasn't his word good enough anymore?
"Captain, do you think that I have some hidden agenda or something? I want to get to the Alpha Quadrant the same as you do. I gave you my word when I became your First Officer that I would work with you to get this crew home. I was a Captain of my own ship. I know how to run a ship. I went to Starfleet the same as you did but when I was placed in a situation with limited options, I decided to become subordinate to you. It was my understanding that you respected me and respected the choice that I made. Perhaps that was a mistake on my part but I took you at your word. Are you now saying that you do not trust me to work under you anymore? If that is the case, then please let me know, otherwise I have work to do. If you would excuse me Captain?" He was angry and his anger was showing in his raised voice. Before Janeway could respond, Chakotay walked out of the room.
Janeway had lost control of the whole meeting. It didn't go the way she'd thought it would and Chakotay hadn't answered her question. In her opinion, he just came up with moral superiority and anger before waking out. She determined not to let that stop her. She was going to get an answer from him whether he liked it or not.
When she got to the bridge, everyone noticed the strong angry look on her face and that it mirrored the one that was on Chakotay's face when he'd passed through the bridge earlier. Janeway sat down for a while and waited for Chakotay to return to the bridge. After a couple of hours she realized that he was going to spend the time in his office so she decided to meet him there. She handed the bridge over to Tuvok and left.
"Come in," she heard when she pressed the buzzer to his office.
"Captain. What can I do for you now?" Chakotay asked her with a hint of weary anger in his voice.
Taking a deep breath, Janeway barrelled on, "Commander, you must see that this situation is not helping anyone. I wanted to have a civilized conversation with you this morning and you walked out. Now you are hiding out in your office. It is giving mixed messages to the crew and I want it stopped. You say that you were a Captain. Then act like you remember what it was like to make decisions that everyone didn't agree on. It was not a personal slight against you stop making it so. Tuvok and I thought that it would be better to get an honest reaction from you if you were not made aware of what was going on. It was a command decision, supposed to make a situation better for the crew. You are making it personal, thus involving the crew. It wasn't personal; you need to stop making it so.
Chakotay started at her agape. "That is just it Captain, Tuvok and I. It was a command decision that was made by the Captain and her 'Second' officer. If I was not included, then I must have been a suspect. Secondly Captain, I am not making it personal. I have spent the time since then being your First Officer. If you did not trust me to do the job, you shouldn't have offered me the position. If I haven't reacted the way you expected me to, then that may be as a result of your misconception of who you think I am. Things have changes. My motives are now suspect and my words and ideas taken out of context." He then stopped talking and looked at her.
Janeway sat and looked at her seriously. "Commander, like you expect me to respect your choice, you should also respect the choice that I had to make. One of my crew was passing messages to the enemy and I had to stop him. The crew is looking to us for leadership and we need to show them unison between us. They take their cues from you. There should have been no need for a protection message for Tom if the crew saw that you didn't take any revenge whatsoever on him. Can I count on you for a united front?"
Chakotay just looked at her and shook his head. She had completely missed his point. "You do not understand, Captain. I was going to request for a change to the Beta Shift but now I think I need some time away from command. I do not know my position in the chain of command anymore. I cannot wear the title of First Officer if I am not one. For as long as you do not trust my word and you do not trust me with your command, I cannot have you as my Commanding Officer. I think that you and Tuvok will make a good command team. He agrees with your decisions and like he once said, he knows your command style. I am hereby resigning as your First Officer, Captain Janeway. You will have confirmation padd on your desk soon."
This more than anything shocked Kathryn Janeway and she sputtered at her First Officer. "This is preposterous Chakotay. I refuse to accept it. You are now taking this too far. I made a decision that you didn't agree with and you resign. You are not supposed to agree with all my decisions but you follow them. That is your duty as an Officer. You cannot just resign." Janeway finished with some anger in her voice.
Equally as angry Chakotay responded, "Just watch me, Captain."
"What are you trying to do, set a trend? What will you do for the rest of the trip? I can't put you in the brig for the next 70 years. What will happen to the ex-Maquis? You know that they trust you." When that didn't make any impact on the man before her, Janeway slyly added, "If you are looking to me to beg you to stay, then you will wait a long time."
What had started as just a throwaway statement said in the middle of an argument was solidified into an idea in the face of Janeway's reaction and, it saddened the warrior watching her. "You never understood me, Captain Janeway. You didn't even try." Shaking his head in sadness, Chakotay shrugged at her. With his idea growing in his mind, Chakotay gave tried to give her a way out. "It's your decision on what job I do from now on and the crew trusts you to guide them as you have been doing. I suppose I should tell you that my resignation has nothing to do with your ability to get us to the Alpha quadrant. I trust that you will do that or die trying. As an ordinary member of the crew, we will all look to you and follow where you guide."
Hardening his voice, Chakotay continued, "I think I should let you know now that for whatever position you assign me, I am taking a leave of absence for the next three months. We do not have a counsellor for me to attend to, so I will be speaking to my spirit guide and I will still remain as the de facto counsellor on the ship if you allow it. Good day Captain." He dismissed her. And Janeway looking at his implacable expression wondered if she had ever known her First Officer.
Trying to appease him, Janeway softened her voice, "Chakotay you are taking this all out of proportion. I don't want your resignation. You agreed to work with me. You can't just give up."
Looking just offside of her, Chakotay answered her, "I am not giving up, Captain. I am taking a step back. Be that as it may, you will have my resignation on your desk. I am still a member of your crew. I do not need to be your First Officer to support you. I want to get to the Alpha Quadrant too. I will let Tuvok have the rest of my reports and with your permission, I will still run the training course as scheduled." He phrased it in the form of a question.
"Of course, it was your idea. You run it." She agreed.
Dismissing her for the second time, Chakotay moved to his door, tripping it open. "Thank you, Captain. If you don't mind, I have some things to wrap up."
Janeway left the office slightly stunned at the turn of events.
It was almost time for the mid-day meal so she went straight to the mess hall for something to eat and some time to think before the rest of the crew rushed in. The way that things were running away from her, she didn't know what to expect around the next corner. She didn't know what to do with Chakotay's resignation but she didn't think it would be a good idea to let the crew know about it just yet. She was just going to give him the leave of absence and talk to him again at the end of the three months. There had to be a solution that would be mutually beneficial to the both of them. When the crew came in for their meal, she noticed that the tension had reduced especially when the crew saw that Chakotay wasn't really taking any offence. Janeway didn't want to think of what the situation would be if they were told of Chakotay's resignation.
The rest of the day, the bridge crew was treated to the absence of their First Officer as Janeway didn't want to let them know about the resignation until she'd had the time to understand it herself. After lunch, she'd come to her office to find a data PADD with Chakotay's resignation on her desk. To Janeway, it was rather much to take so she spent the rest of the day in her ready room going on to the bridge intermittently. It got the bridge crew curious but they didn't ask and got on with their jobs.
That evening, Janeway called Tuvok to her office. When he came in, she gestured him to sit with the data PADD she was holding and when he sat, she offered him the PADD. As he read it, the only outward reaction that he offered to show that this was a surprise was the usual raising of his eyebrows. She waited for him to say something.
"Captain, what does the Commander intend to do now that he no longer wishes to be the Executive Officer." He was surprised by the turn of events but didn't want to let anyone in on his state of affairs. He intended to meditate and then talk to the Commander and see if he could talk him out of his illogical decision.
"I do not know but he has asked for a leave of absence for three months in order to communicate with his animal guide as there is no Counsellor for him to talk to. I really wish that we has a counsellor on board but as he is the de facto Counsellor, there is nothing to do for him."
"What are your intentions regarding his resignation?" Tuvok asked her finally, after some silence.
"I am going to give him the leave of absence he has asked for and keep talking to him. He has recommended you for his position and since you are the next in the chain of command, you are the logical choice to move in as the First Officer. I aim to get this whole issue resolved at the end of his leave. In the mean time, you will take over as the acting First Officer. I hope that the added duties are not too much for you my friend."
Tuvok nodded, accepting the position, and then mused to her, "When the crew is notified of his resignation, a lot of security issues will arise but my department is adequately equipped to handle it so it will be possible for me to fill the two positions adequately for a short time. My deputy will move in temporarily. Permanent plans will need to be made for long-term purposes."
Biting her lip, Janeway could only ask her oldest friend, "What do you think Tuvok, is he serious?"
"I do not know the Commander to be a man who does not take his commitments seriously, Captain. If he has gone as far as to submit this PADD to you, then logically, I would presume that his intentions are clear. However his decision may just be an emotional reaction to the present situation and with time, he would decide differently. His request for a leave of absence is a logical manner in which to give him the time to rethink his choice."
Janeway agreed with him. "Okay, that means that I will not tell the crew that he has resigned. They will just be told that he has asked for a leave of absence for health reasons. Knowing the way stories go around, they'll probably know about the resignation soon but the official story will be the leave of absence. Chakotay will be briefing you on what he has done so far and letting you have his reports soon so you should be up to speed within the next couple of days. Thank you, Tuvok, that will be all."
Tuvok left the Captain's ready room with his thoughts in turmoil, which was quite a feat for the Vulcan. He couldn't decide why Chakotay had decided to resign his commission but he didn't think that the sole reason was the present situation. He felt that it was an accumulation of things that had happened ever since the beginning of the mission. He was going to meditate and then talk to the Commander when the situation presented itself.
End Part Four