First Officer's Log
Summary: After the Salamander Incident, Chakotay is suffering from writer's block.
Characters: Chakotay, Tuvok, EMH
Codes: Chakotay & Tuvok, Janeway/Paris (implied)
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS owns the characters and the ship, but they wouldn't want this hot mess.
Notes: Written for Threshold Day (January 29).
CHAKOTAY: I don't know how I'm going to enter this into the log.
TUVOK: I look forward to reading it.
First officer’s log, stardate 49376.6. After a little over a day’s travel at warp eight, we reached the uninhabited system where the Cochrane had been abandoned in orbit of the fourth planet. Upon transporting to the surface with Lieutenant Tuvok, Lieutenant Ayala and Crewman English, I discovered that Captain Janeway and Lieutenant Paris had evolved into …
[sounds of coughing]
That is to say, they had become some kind of … lizard-like life form … apparently as a result of breaking the warp ten barrier. I was unable to determine which of them was …
[indistinguishable speech, followed by a noise that might be stifled and somewhat hysterical laughter]
… As I was saying, I was unable to determine which of the life forms was the captain and which was Mr Paris, in spite of Mr Tuvok’s helpful observations. After I had stunned both creatures … uh, officers … I observed several small, uh …
[lengthy silence, broken occasionally by snorting sounds]
… several small life forms that appeared to be the, uh, offspring of … Fuck it! Computer, pause log.
… Return to time index zero zero three and resume.
We've transported the captain and Mr Paris back to sickbay. As for their … offspring … I've decided to leave them in their new habitat. Despite the obvious concerns for their wellbeing, I believe they’ll be able to fend for themselves. Besides, what the hell would we do with them if I’d brought them aboard? It’s not as though the captain and Paris are going to shack up and live happily ever after –
What the hell am I doing? Computer, erase log!
“Tuvok to sickbay.”
The Doctor’s response was immediate, his tone shaded with irritation. Tuvok had often observed that this was his usual affectation, and having witnessed its effect on the human crew members he had offered to have Lieutenant Torres modify the Doctor’s personality subroutines. The suggestion had not been well received.
~I expect you’d like an update on the condition of my patients.~
“Yes, Doctor.” Tuvok paused to order the turbolift to deck one. “Your report, please?”
~Thanks to a brilliantly devised treatment, I’m in the process of restoring them to their original, fully human condition. I predict the captain will be completely recovered and ready to be discharged within twenty-four hours. As for Mr Paris, as much as I’d like to be rid of his charming company, I’m afraid his recovery will take a little longer.~
“Explain.” The turbolift came to a halt and Tuvok stepped out onto the bridge.
~The catalysing agent I’ve synthesised takes time to reverse the hyper-evolutionary effect. Lieutenant Paris’ transformation occurred two days prior to the captain’s, leaving less of his original DNA for me to work with. I expect he’ll make a full recovery within the next seventy-two hours.~
“Understood, Doctor. Tuvok out.”
Closing the channel, he bypassed the command chairs with a brief nod to Rollins to retain the conn and headed directly to the ready room. At Chakotay’s call for entry, he stepped inside.
“Report,” Chakotay ordered brusquely.
“Captain Janeway is expected to be fit for duty tomorrow. However, the Doctor advises that Mr Paris will require a further two days. With your permission, I will rearrange the helm duty schedule accordingly.”
“Granted.” Chakotay swigged from the mug at his elbow, grimaced and got up to place it in the replicator. “Coffee’s gone cold. Must be a first.”
“For this ready room. Can’t imagine there’s much coffee wasted in here, given the captain’s fondness for it.”
Apparently sensing Tuvok’s continued regard, Chakotay glanced up. “Something else, Lieutenant?”
“It occurs to me that in the captain’s absence and given recent events, you have been on active duty far longer than recommended, Commander. Might I suggest you get some rest?”
“Not until I’ve finished recording my log,” Chakotay replied. “And at the rate I’m going, that won’t be any time soon.”
“Then I shall return to the bridge,” Tuvok bowed.
Chakotay had returned to the desk, his attention already back on his log entry, so Tuvok departed without waiting to be formally dismissed.
First officer’s log, stardate 49376.8. On beaming down to the swamp and discovering that the captain and Lieutenant Paris had undergone a transmutation into some kind of amphibious life form, I decided to stun them for security reasons before transporting them back to Voyager. Imagine my surprise when I saw that they’d had a number of babies: three slimy, spotty little lizard-beings with Fu Manchu moustaches.
I admit I made a gut decision about their fate. I left them to their swamp and beamed us the hell out of there.
I’m sure the scientific ramifications of this evolutionary process would keep Starfleet xenobiologists busy for years, but I was more concerned about the emotional and logistical repercussions of bringing the creatures aboard.
Perhaps I should be more worried about the moral implications of my decision. How on earth is the captain going to react to what I’ve done?
But what if the … children … couldn’t undergo genetic reversion, as their parents have? God, I can’t even refer to them that way without wanting to scour out my eyeballs. Captain Janeway having mutant lizard offspring with Tom Paris? It’s preposterous. It’s horrifying. It’s … I can’t … God, what have I done?
Computer, erase log.
It had been a long, tense shift on the bridge. Tuvok was not impervious to human emotion in spite of his control over his own, and periods of prolonged, heightened feelings among the crew were taxing to his equilibrium. It was with some relief that he handed the conn to Ensign Kim for Gamma shift and retired to his quarters.
He dressed in his most comfortable robe – though he would never concede such a preference, even in the privacy of his own thoughts – and lit a candle. Focusing on the flame, Tuvok found himself uttering the chant Vulcans performed in remembrance of departed friends and family. He paused to explore his subconscious decision. Did he view the salamander babies as part of Voyager’s crew? Had human sentimentality rubbed off on him that much?
Tuvok acknowledged that, while logically he could not fault Commander Chakotay’s actions, he could not deny his sympathy for the feelings he predicted Captain Janeway might express regarding those events. She had, as he well knew, long held a desire for children of her own. Although her choices had repeatedly led her away from that path, he believed that having been placed involuntarily in the role of parent, she would be inclined to embrace it.
And having had that chance removed from her – also against her conscious will – she might not be entirely grateful.
Aside from his own concern for the captain’s emotional state, there were ethical complications to consider regarding the fate of those offspring. What would happen to them? Would they die, left uncared for, or would they thrive: three creatures who had crossed an evolutionary threshold so far ahead of their time that the consequences of their existence could not even be guessed at? What if they upset the natural development of the planet where they’d been born? What if they reproduced?
It was a question that embodied the very intent of the Prime Directive, and for the first time in his life, Tuvok was unsure whether he’d landed on the right side of the law.
He would have to get comfortable with it. Soon, he predicted, Captain Janeway would come seeking his counsel on the matter. Should she express dissatisfaction with the first officer’s course of action, Tuvok would have to remind her that Chakotay did what he believed was right at the time, and that would be much easier if he believed his own words.
First officer’s log, stardate 49377.0. Uh, where do I start? I’ve tried to record this log five times already and it’s not getting any easier. If this were a storybook, people would say it’s too fantastical to enable suspension of disbelief.
Actually, that’s an idea. Maybe I should start this log with: Once upon a time…
Once upon a time, there was a brave and dashing, uh, dragon-rider, who accepted a quest of the most dangerous kind. It was a success, or so he thought until he began to change. His skin grew mottled and flaked away, he began to lose his sight and his hair, and he himself was different – impatient and argumentative where once he was – uh, slightly less impatient and argumentative.
It seemed that during his quest he had been bewitched, and the changes in him were not of his own design.
One day he died, and before his friends had truly had the chance to mourn him, he came back to life. The healer devised a way to lift the curse, but while it was being administered the chevalier broke free, seized a, uh, a … maiden knight … and escaped with her to a faraway place.
Their friends searched for them for days, and when they were finally found, the brave dragon-rider and the uh, warrior princess, had fallen completely under a changeling spell. While not in their right bodies – or their right minds – they had … uh … three small changelings were … oh hell.
Computer, pause log. Rewind to time index zero zero one and begin recording ...
First officer’s log, stardate 49377.2. This is beginning to send me certifiably insane. How can it be so difficult just to record the facts? Tom Paris crossed the warp ten threshold, turned into a monster, kidnapped the captain and had mutated babies with her, which I left on a deserted swamp planet. See? Not so hard.
Fuck, I can’t record that. Computer, scratch that and start again …
First officer’s log, stardate 49377.6. I’ve just returned from visiting sickbay, partly to check on the progress of the Doctor’s treatment and partly to seek medical attention for a skin ailment I apparently contracted while helping the medical technicians lift Captain Frogway onto a biobed. It seems salamanders secrete a chemical which is mildly toxic to humans and causes skin irritation when handled without protection. Who knew? It’s depressing to think that this might be the closest I get to touching the captain, even with a prophylactic barrier –
Uh, computer, erase that …
First officer’s log, stardate 49377.9. The captain just commed me from her quarters and asked to see my report on the warp ten incident. And yet I still haven’t managed to come up with a retelling of those events that won’t land me in the brig.
I’ve been having nightmares about this whole episode – well, waking nightmares, because I haven’t actually slept since we beamed them up from the planet. Sometimes I’m hauled up in front of a Starfleet Board of Inquiry and accused of genocide or impeding scientific progress or child abandonment. Sometimes, I’m the one Tom Paris kidnaps, and I’m lying in a swamp contemplating the mysteries of the universe and unable to do anything but gurgle.
The worst one starts out great. I’m in bed with the captain, just like I’ve dreamed a couple hundred times before, but when I kiss her, her tongue falls off. And then her hair starts coming out in clumps and one of her limbs drops off and … It’s a bad time.
… Damn it, the captain just summoned me again. What am I going to tell her? What story can I give that will possibly explain what I’ve done? I could pretend I left them there because I genuinely believed it was the best thing for them, or because bringing them aboard would be a violation of the Prime Directive, but she’ll see straight through any bullshit I try to feed her. She always does.
And the truth – the damnable truth I don’t want her to know – is that I left those creatures behind because I’m a coward. Because in spite of the conversations I’ve had with the captain these past few months, about the need to plan for a generational crew, I didn’t want to deal with raising three of Tom Paris’ hellspawn, let alone wondering if any of them have their mother’s eyes.
Oh, for fuck’s sake. Computer, delete the fucking log and kill me now.
~Chakotay to Tuvok. Please report to my office at your earliest convenience.~
Tuvok paused infinitesimally in the process of affixing his pips to the precise location on his collar that was specified in the Starfleet Uniform Code. “Acknowledged, Commander.”
He had planned to stop in at sickbay before commencing Alpha shift to assess the Doctor’s treatment of the captain and Lieutenant Paris. Instead, as he strode with measured tread toward the turbolift, he tapped his combadge.
“Tuvok to sickbay.”
~Yes, Lieutenant.~ The Doctor sounded more impatient than ever. ~If you’re calling for an update, I released the captain to her quarters an hour ago with instructions to rest for at least the next half-day, so I expect she’s already on the bridge. Mr Paris’ DNA has still not fully reverted.~
“Is there any cause for concern?”
~Regarding his condition? No. I anticipate he’ll be cleared for duty by the day after tomorrow. And not a moment too soon.~ The Doctor paused, then added, ~It’s possible that Mr Paris was less evolved than the captain to begin with, and thus had a longer journey back to whatever passes for normality for him.~
“Thank you, Doctor.”
Tuvok closed the channel and pressed the chime to request entry to Chakotay’s office.
“Come,” he heard, and entered to find the generally unflappable first officer scowling at his computer console, his hair sticking out at all angles as though he’d been raking his fingers through it. Tuvok studied him closely and concluded that he couldn’t be certain the commander had slept at all in the past forty-eight hours.
Cautiously, he stepped forward.
“You requested my presence, Commander?”
“Yes. I need your advice, Tuvok.”
The Vulcan’s eyebrows rose. “How may I advise you today?”
“You can read this.” Chakotay turned the desk monitor and shoved it unceremoniously toward him.
Tuvok stepped forward.
Upon arriving at the planet, the away team discovered two life forms we deduced to be the captain and Lieutenant Paris. We transported the life forms to sickbay before departing the system.
Tuvok raised his head.
“Well?” Chakotay demanded, eyeing him intently. “What do you think?”
“This is your mission report?” Tuvok confirmed. “It appears somewhat … abbreviated.”
One hand strayed to Chakotay’s earlobe.
“Am I to infer that you asked me here to provide input into this report, sir?”
“I need help,” burst Chakotay, rocketing to his feet and beginning to pace. “How the hell am I supposed to explain to Starfleet that our captain evolved into a lizard, mated with our helmsman and produced several lizard babies, which I then left on a planet in the Delta quadrant? Exactly how would that report be received and how long do you think any of us would keep our commissions if Starfleet ever does read it?”
Tuvok was beginning to get a crick in his neck from following Chakotay’s frantic loping from one side of his office to the other.
“More to the point,” the first officer continued, “how the hell do I explain it to the captain? I’m sorry, ma’am, I didn’t think you’d want the complication of bringing up triplets with Tom Paris so I abandoned them to fend for themselves … She’s going to take that real well.”
If Tuvok’s eyebrow twitched, he managed to conceal it.
“Well?” Chakotay demanded, coming to a stop in front of him. “What should I do?”
“I’m uncertain what, exactly, you’re asking of me, sir.”
Chakotay threw up his hands. “I want your opinion on whether any of this should go into the logs. The flight, the transformation, the offspring… What am I supposed to do?”
Tuvok considered the question. Eventually, he offered, “Your duty is to report the facts. It may be that in future the Federation will discover another means of travelling at transwarp velocity – one with less hazardous side-effects – and our learnings from this experience may assist them to do so.”
“Thanks,” Chakotay muttered. “You’re a real help, Tuvok.”
“But,” continued the Vulcan, “if I may be permitted to suggest it, how you choose to present your account of these events, of course, is up to you.”
Chakotay narrowed his eyes. “Meaning?”
“Meaning it’s possible to deliver a report that is entirely accurate without being entirely candid.”
“You want me to obfuscate,” Chakotay interpreted.
Tuvok inclined his head.
“Deception doesn’t come naturally to me, Tuvok. That’s more your department.”
Tuvok accepted the verbal swipe with equanimity. “If I may offer the benefit of my experience, Commander, please do not hesitate to ask.”
“Hmph,” muttered Chakotay. “Good. Dismissed, Lieutenant.”
Tuvok about-faced smoothly and left the commander to his composition.
First officer’s log, stardate 49377.7. An instructor at the Academy once told me that in Starfleet, ‘weird is part of the job’, and this situation certainly qualifies.
Let me begin by noting that Lieutenant Tom Paris’ warp ten flight should go down in the history books as a fine human achievement, and one that I hope will be remembered despite its consequences rather than because of them. He should not be held responsible for actions he took while suffering the hyper-evolutionary effects of that flight. I think Captain Janeway would be the first to agree with me on that.
That said, I’ll leave the speculative medical science to the Doctor and confine this report to actions I ordered while acting as captain of this vessel.
The shuttlecraft Cochrane, with a partly-mutated Mr Paris at the helm and Captain Janeway aboard, presumably against her will, disappeared from Voyager’s sensors on stardate 49365.0. After three days’ searching we located the Cochrane in orbit of an uninhabited planet which took a further day to reach at high warp. I assembled an away team of four, and we transported to the surface, where we discovered that Mr Paris’ transmutation into some kind of amphibious life form was complete and that the captain had been similarly transformed.
We also discovered three smaller life forms of the same species in their vicinity, and drew the obvious conclusion that they were the progeny of our metamorphosed crewmen.
I then made a decision that may haunt me for the remainder of my natural life. I stunned the two larger life forms to ensure their safe transport to sickbay, and ordered Voyager to beam all six of us aboard, leaving behind the three smaller creatures.
I have debated this decision at length since ordering a course away from the Salamander Planet, as some of the lower decks are referring to it. Will the creatures survive without their parents? Was it cruel to leave them behind, or would it have been crueller to attempt to revert their DNA to match that of our current state of human evolution? Will Tom or the captain disagree with my choice? Will Starfleet?
I’m not a philosopher, a genetic scientist or a visionary. I’m second in command of a starship that needs its captain and its chief pilot, particularly in our circumstances. My priority at the time was to retrieve our missing crew, and that’s what I did. For that, I accept any and all career-limiting consequences the captain or Starfleet sees fit to impose on me. But only history may judge me.