Matters of Discipline
Kathryn Janeway sat on Voyager's bridge, staring grimly ahead. Her mouth was rigid. Her eyes gave away nothing. Seconds before, a single torpedo had flashed across the view screen on its way to the waters far below them where it disappeared from sight.
On the bridge the seconds stretched, slowed and dissipated into nothingness. Ensign Kim stood frozen by his console. Only the numbers on the screen in front of him registered in his mind. They had done it. They had fired on the Delta Flyer.
Finally Lt. Commander Tuvok spoke. "The Flyer has been disabled, the missile deflected."
Kathryn Janeway's hand clenched and released. No one else spoke. No one else moved.
Tuvok continued his report tonelessly, as if he was listing items from the ship's inventory. "We are retrieving the shuttle and will tractor it into shuttle bay two. The mining facility sustained minor damage to one of its loading bays but is otherwise intact. There are no reports of injuries. The Monean Deputy Consul is hailing us. He wishes to speak to you immediately."
Just what she needed! The Captain could still hear the Deputy Consul's voice ringing in her ears, insisting that she 'do something' to stop the Flyer. She had cut contact at that point to avoid giving him the opportunity to come up with any more specific demands. "Transfer the signal to my ready room," she told Tuvok, pulling herself back into action. "Commander Chakotay, you have the bridge." She nodded in his direction as she stepped down off the bridge.
Inside her ready room, she stopped to consider her options. At the moment she didn't have many. They were in orbit around Monea, which meant that they were obligated to respect the laws and regulations that governed the water planet. Technically, Tom Paris had terminated his status as a protected member of Voyager's crew when he had left the ship without permission. She would have been hard pressed to avoid destroying the Delta Flyer if the Monean authorities had demanded that she do so. Right now her nerves were on edge and she was damned angry to be in this situation.
Enough of this! She needed to think clearly. A lot depended what the Moneans would decide to do next. This might be her one chance to affect their decision. She sat down in her chair, took a calming breath and opened the link.
An angry Deputy Consul had obviously been waiting impatiently for her. He skipped the diplomatic niceties. "Captain Janeway! Is 'this' your idea of protecting the mining facility?"
"Deputy Consul Burkus," she interrupted firmly. "We haven't received any reports of injuries to your people. Can you confirm that everyone was evacuated safely and no one was hurt?"
The Monean official looked irritated at being interrupted. Then he seemed to recall that he was supposed to be interested in the safety of the miners who worked on the mining facility and assumed an artificial expression of concern. "Yes, that is correct. We were able to evacuate everyone in time."
Captain Janeway breathed a sigh of relief. The Deputy Consul took advantage of this short pause to continue with his original complaint. "That explosion drew attention from every region under the sea. I am being inundated with demands for information from all forty-seven of the regional sovereigns. They want to know how long operations will be suspended and whether there is any danger of further explosions."
"Have you explained the situation to them?"
"Yes, but they're not satisfied. They insist that a ship such as yours would not be involved unless there was more to the matter than I have revealed to them. Captain, we must put a stop to this kind of speculation. I demand that you release Mr. Riga and your Mr. Paris to our custody immediately. We will take the necessary steps to make it clear that they are nothing more than common criminals and the issue can be closed."
"We will hand Mr. Riga over to the proper authorities as soon as we retrieve our shuttle craft. Before we deal with the issue of Mr. Paris, may I know what are the 'necessary steps' that you intend to follow?"
"Our laws have clear penalties for such actions."
"I'm sure they do and we will respect your laws. However, I assume that there will be some form of inquiry first?"
"Of course, Captain. But in cases like this, where the facts are so well established, you must realize that this will be a speedy process. The outcome is practically assured."
"I understand how serious the situation is, Deputy Consul. I'd like to discuss any options available to Mr. Paris before we complete the transfer to your jurisdiction."
"I don't see any need for discussion, Captain. I insist that Mr. Paris be turned over to us at once."
"It will take some time for the Flyer to surface safely. I'm sure we can use this time productively. After all, with all the public interest that is being generated, I'm sure that we both wish to proceed as carefully as possible. I wonder, for example, if it will be in anyone's best interest to hold Mr. Paris on Monea. Surely that would further increase the attention directed at your department? Maybe it would be better for everyone if we took him with us on Voyager and allowed you to address the concerns about the mining facility without needless complications?"
The Deputy Consul considered how much easier his job would be without these alien visitors around, reminding everyone about an issue that he would rather they forgot about just now. However, he was not ready to give up his indignation just yet. "Very well, we can discuss the matter. But, I insist on a guarantee that Mr. Paris face appropriate consequences. Otherwise, he will have to be handed over to our custody at once."
Hours later, the Captain's head was pounding and anyone who got in between her and the nearest cup of coffee was risking mortal danger. If she never heard that self-righteous Deputy Consul Burkus' voice again, it would still be too soon. They had been able to keep Tom Paris, but it was on terms that she only hoped they would be able to live with. She knew that she would soon have to perform one of the most painful duties of her career.
The Flyer had finally reached the surface of the ocean and Tom would be returning to Voyager shortly. Mr. Riga had been handed over to the Monean authorities. Only Riga's insistence that Tom's continued presence on Monea would further anger the Monean officials and make it more difficult for Riga to present his defense had convinced Tom to agree to return to Voyager without him.
The Captain did have the small satisfaction of being able to supply Mr. Riga's defense representative with data about the true condition of the field reactor at the center of the water world. That was the only consolation in what was going to be a trying time for all of them. The emotional minefield that Voyager would have to navigate in the coming days would be a difficult one for her crew, and there was very little that her Captain could do to help. At some point Captain Janeway was going to have to figure out how to make the best of this whole situation. Right now she had more immediate arrangements to set in place.
"Captain to the bridge."
"Commander Chakotay here."
"Commander, would you and Mr. Tuvok please join me in my ready room?"
"On our way, Captain."
Chakotay and Tuvok stepped through the ready room doors to find Kathryn sitting stiffly behind the desk where they had last seen her, negotiating with the Monean authorities. From the tension in her face, Tuvok could tell and Chakotay could admit that he could tell that the negotiations had not gone particularly well.
"Mr. Tuvok," she said, handing him a PADD. "Here is a list of the terms that that I was able to negotiate with the Monean authorities in exchange for allowing Mr. Paris to remain on Voyager."
"What did you agree on, Captain?" Chakotay asked. "The last time we talked, the Moneans were demanding a one to two year prison term in exchange for allowing Tom to leave with us on Voyager."
"See for yourself," she said, pushing another PADD across her desk in his direction. "The Moneans have reduced their demands to a one month prison sentence with the condition that it be served in restricted solitary confinement – the time must be served in the brig, no exercise or recreational provisions, contact with others limited to custodial personal only, no visitors at any time, meals must comply with Monean guidelines for prisoners, oh and apparently Moneans restrict the freedom of former prisoners until they provide proof they are ready to be fully integrated back into society."
Chakotay shook his head over the lengthy list of detailed requirements. "Is that all? No ball and chain? I thought the Moneans were a more enlightened people. Captain, they can't be serious about all these extra conditions."
"Oh, they're quite serious. It was one month under these terms or a minimum six month term of confinement."
"Do they know that Tom is claustrophobic?"
"Yes. I explained that. That's the reason that Deputy Consul Burkus insisted on these particular conditions. I can't remember when I last met such an unpleasant, vindictive politician."
"Perhaps, you have had, as yet, insufficient acquaintance with politicians?" Tuvok offered in that dry, measured tone that made others second guess themselves when they heard the barbed humor in his comments.
"The crew is not going to be happy about this, Kathryn," Chakotay said, pointing out what she already knew. "Even with the fact that Tom is facing charges under Starfleet regulations, this process violates his Federation rights. How can we justify that?"
"This is a Starfleet ship. We are Starfleet officers. Federation laws are very clear on what our duties are when we venture into alien space. Right now we are in Monean space. Their laws have to govern our actions in this case. Tom knew what he was getting into when he accepted his commission." Kathryn grimaced as she considered the words she had just spoken.
"Unfortunately, a particularly critical media report was released just when Deputy Consul Burkus and I were discussing Mr. Paris' status after his release from the brig. The best that I could do was to suggest that a rank reduction to Ensign would satisfy their conditions," Kathryn explained.
"I see," Chakotay replied. "Will Tom be assigned limited or full bridge duties?" he asked. It was a valid question. As Voyager's First Officer, he needed to know. After the incident on Sikaris, it had been two years before B'Elanna was left in charge of the bridge, even though that meant that, at times, Ensign Kim was left in charge over her.
"I don't know," Kathryn admitted, in response to Chakotay's question. "I hope so. But I have to be realistic. I know how difficult it will be for him to be confined in the brig for thirty days. We will do the best that we can for him afterwards. But, if he isn't able to recover enough to take up those duties, we have to be ready for that too. We have Hamilton and Baytart who might be ready to step up to cover the full responsibilities of Chief Conn officer. To be thorough, we should consider other possibilities as well. Do you have any suggestions, Chakotay?"
Chakotay didn't have to consult his records. He knew this crew well. "Culhane deserves some consideration. He has come a long way in the past year. He's handled some tricky situations on the Beta shift. I'd like to see him in a few more pressure situations to be sure. We could have him fill in at the helm during some of the more challenging shifts. We should also get the Doctor to update his psychological profile to check his readiness for increased responsibility."
The Captain nodded her agreement. "Try Culhane on a couple of Alpha shifts. It will help to fill the gap left in the rotation by Mr. Paris' absence and give us a chance to evaluate how well he handles the challenge of flying under more difficult conditions."
"I'll take care of it, Captain. Anything else?"
"No. That's everything for now. I am counting on Tom to be strong enough to learn from this experience The Senior Conn position is his if he can still handle it. Hopefully, he will be back at the conn next month and all this will be academic. But, I can't risk the safety of the ship just on the basis of what I would like see to happen." She rubbed her forehead where a headache had been slowly building over the last few hours. "I can't remember the last time that I felt this helpless and this frustrated," she admitted. "Except for the moment when we had to fire at the Delta Flyer." She stared accusingly at Tuvok. "You aimed our torpedo awfully close to the mining facility when you fired to destroy that missile, Tuvok. You could have detonated the torpedo much closer to the Flyer."
Tuvok responded in his typical matter-of-fact tone. "The station was unoccupied, Captain. The Delta Flyer was not. I assumed that wished to minimize the risk of injury. Was I in error?"
"No, you know you were not. Thank you, Tuvok," she said quietly.
"You are welcome, Captain," he stated simply. "Mr. Paris is currently in Sickbay being examined by the Doctor. How do you wish me to proceed?"
"As soon as the Doctor has finished checking him over, have a security team escort Mr. Paris to your office. I'd like you to review the Federation charges against him and give him the opportunity to respond if he wishes to do so. I'll see him in my ready room after you are done."
"I'll make the necessary arrangements immediately," Tuvok assured her. At Kathryn's dismissal, he left her with Commander Chakotay and exited the ready room.
After Tuvok left, Kathryn stood up and gestured to Chakotay to follow her to the seating area by the window where they could sit more comfortably. She rubbed her forehead again and leaned back to rest her head against the back of the cushioned banquette.
"Will you be all right, Kathryn?" Chakotay asked in concern.
"I'll survive," she assured him. "I just have to figure out how all this is going to work. I don't want to lose Tom. I know that whatever mistakes he has made in the past, or even will make in the future, he cares deeply about this ship and wants to be a valued member of this crew. He's grown a lot since he first arrived on Voyager. I've got to believe that he has grown enough to accept the consequences of his actions and to learn from this experience."
"So what are you going to do now, Kathryn?"
"Now?" she asked. "I'll do what I have to do," she answered. "After, I'll do what I can," she promised. The strength of her resolve and the hope in her promise carried her through the rest of that difficult day.
When the security team brought Tom Paris to her ready room, he kept his eyes fixed straight ahead as she recited the charges. She kept her eyes focused on his when she passed sentence. She owed him that much.
"Thomas Eugene Paris. I hereby reduce you to the rank of Ensign. And I sentence you to thirty days solitary confinement." Then she addressed the guard. "Escort Ensign Paris to the brig."
He raised his hand to forestall them from taking hold of his arm. "I know the way."
She permitted him the dignity of walking to the brig without restraint.Author's Notes: Since I try to keep my stories as consistent with canon as possible, I often include author's notes at the end of a chapter, or a story, to reference where an idea in the story came from. If you enjoy connecting puzzle pieces, have fun with the notes. If this doesn't interest you, skip the notes. The stories can be read without them.
1) The whole idea for the Monean involvement in Tom's sentence was based on the fact that Tom was actually on Monea when he acted, and Voyager was in orbit around the water planet. I wrote an article several years ago, in which I discussed this idea.
It has been well established that Starfleet Captains have to accept local judgments even when this involves extreme penalties-the death penalty passed on Wesley in The Next Generation episode, Justice-the mind surgery proposed for B'Elanna in the Voyager Season Four episode, Random Thoughts.
2) I used this story to also address the criticism that B'Elanna, Tuvok and Chakotay all went against the Captain's orders, yet none of them faced serious consequences for their actions. If you check through the stories carefully, there are clues that might indicate consequences that weren't obvious at the time.
In B'Elanna's case, Captain Janeway said that if there were any further transgressions, B'Elanna would be reduced in rank all the way down to crewman. In fact there is at least one anomaly in Season Three that indicates that there were still questions at that time about her rank. In the episode, Future's End, B'Elanna and Harry are both on the bridge while the rest of the senior staff is down on Earth. Ensign Harry Kim, not Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres, is in charge.
It isn't until the Season Six episode, Tsunkatse that we see B'Elanna clearly in charge on the bridge. For the purpose of my story, I choose to have B'Elanna start to cover shifts on the bridge around the same time that Tuvok got his promotion early in Season Four in the episode, Revulsion.
In the Season Four episode, Waking Moments, B'Elanna is coming off duty after Gamma shift, the shift that Harry worked later in the series when be began to cover bridge duty on a regular basis. In the Waking Moments episode, Tom complains that He and B"Elanna never get to see each other any more. That fits in with a premise that B'Elanna now has bridge duty as well as her engineering duties.