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SUMMARY: Tuvok is the Training King. But does the senior staff say "Long live the King?" If you have to think about it, you're probably wrong. A Usual Suspects Fic.
Training, Tuvok Style
Captain Janeway looked at Commander Tuvok.
"Did you say horseback riding, Mr Tuvok?"
"Yes, Captain, I did indeed say horseback riding."
She looked around the briefing room's table and saw that the expressions on the other faces matched hers. Total confusion.
"May I ask why you feel we should all participate in horseback riding lessons?"
"Captain, need I remind you of our last away mission."
There was a sudden silence in the room. With the exception of Tuvok's, faces began to find fingernails and laps fascinating. Neelix looked at the door with a wistful expression.
"Personally, Mr Tuvok, I don't believe I want to hear a logical dissertation on our last away mission; I assure you that writing the logs was painful enough. But thank you for offering. Next order of business?"
"No, Mr Tuvok."
An soft echo sounded immediately, "Gawd no, Tuvok. Have a little compassion, will you!" Everyone turned to face Tom. "Whaat? You don't agree with me??"
"Actually, Mr Paris, for once I am in complete agreement with you. Repeating an unnecessary and unpleasant experience is not relevant. I do not want to use any beast again for locomotion. It was.....unsettling." Seven of Nine frowned.
"In more ways than one, eh, Seven!" Harry laughed.
"If I were you, Mr Kim, I would not make comments. I was not alone in my inability to adapt -- I saw you suspended in mid-air eight times. Without your steed."
Tom laughed but immediately stopped in mid guffaw when eight pairs of eyes turned on him. "Hey, I know I wasn't any better, but the mental image of Harry flying one way while his tortlip galloped the other way was funny." He paused as all those eyes stayed on him. "Well, it was!!"
"I must say I had considerable appreciation for the assorted colourations a human body could achieve. I even thought of duplicating bruises on my own programme to be part of the group," the Doctor said dreamily.
"Why didn't you, Doctor? I would have helped you programme that," laughed B'Elanna.
"And, I would have been pleased to assist you in uploading the sub-routine, Doctor," said Seven.
"The captain made me erase everyone's bruises to avoid any speculation among the crew. She even threatened to delete my memories of the incident." The EMH looked up at Captain Janeway just in time to receive a death glare. He sniffed mutinously. "Which I thought that was a bit melodramatic."
Captain Janeway rolled her eyes and looked at Tuvok. "All right, Mr Tuvok, I guess your point is well taken. But can you at least allow Chakotay time to juggle the duty roster so that we can have a group lesson? I do not want this dragged out with individual training."
"That is acceptable, Captain. Commander Chakotay, please let me know when our lessons can commence."
"Of course, Tuvok." The Commander considered for a moment. "But it may take awhile -- juggling nine shifts will not be easy."
"I know you'll accomplish this with alacrity, Commander. I remember how efficient you were when you arranged the Senior Staff Pool Tournament at the last moment. Most impressive. I shall expect your report by 16:00 hours today."
Everyone sighed, except Tuvok. He remained stoic but determined. What else was new?
"Captain, I don't mean to be a whiner, but will you please take a look at this?" Neelix stood by his assigned horse and looked miserable.
"What's the matter, Neelix?"
"Take a good look, Captain. Notice anything strange?" The captain stood, finger on chin, wondering how Neelix could ever look anyway but strange. Nope, not possible. She only became conscious of his immediate concern when he spoke again.
"Captain. I can almost stand under this horse. How will I be able to mount it, let alone ride it?"
"Good point, Mr Neelix. Mr Tuvok, what parameters did you use in designing the horses in this programme? They all seem a little larger than I remember as a child."
"That was done deliberately, Captain. I have observed from the Cross-Cultural Database that the equivalent of Earth's horse is considerably larger on all the planets we've visited in the Delta Quadrant. It would be wise to assume that this will continue on the worlds we will be encountering in the future."
"But where's the logic in assuming that we would ever again accept an invitation to repeat the unfortunate incident we recently experienced?"
"If you seek, Captain, you will find. Voyager's senior officers have never proven themselves capable of considering past experiences when faced with either an off-world experience or a challenge. We seem particularly vulnerable to challenges."
The senior staff simply did not wish to discuss it. Once again their attention on Tuvok wavered and he had a hard time holding their attention. Tom and Harry looked at the sky. Chakotay looked glumly at his horse. Janeway looked at B'Elanna who was kicking up clods. Neelix, Seven, and the Doctor simply looked at each other.
Tuvok looked satisfied. "All right, everyone, our first lesson will be in mounting the horse. Stand on the left side of your horse, put your left foot in the stirrup and, pulling yourself up, swing your right leg over the horse's back. Mr Neelix, I' m sure you will be innovative in your approach."
"I.....don't.....think.....want.....to.....play.....any.....more!" Kathryn managed to squeak out between each vicious thwack of her saddle against her tender nether regions.
"Spirits, Kathryn, really?? Personally, I'd rather be cleaning the damned Busssard Collectors with my tongue than being right here, right now, doing this." Chakotay leaned forward over the saddle, one hand holding the reins and saddle horn and the other clutched in the horse's mane.
"Oh.....save.....that.....tongue.....for.....better.....things.....Chakotay. Think.....of.....blistering.....Tuvok's..... green..... skin.....with.....it. Oh.....my.....gawd.....I.....think.....my.....butt.....is.....going..... to.....shatter..... into.....a.....million..... black.....and.....blue.....pieces!"
"Mine, too. Better red alert and engaged with all the past hostile aliens we've ever encountered than ride this thing one more kilometre. Where's Tuvok? Can we escape this place without him hunting us down like rabid targs?" He carefully turned to look back over his shoulder and then immediately swung back to grab the horse's mane.
"Who.....the.....hell.....cares.....Chakotay?! It's.....time.....for.....a.....command.....decision.....and.....I'm..... making..... one. I am......out.....of.....here! Care.....to.....join.....me?"
"Right behind you, Kathryn!" And holding on for dear life he guided his horse off the path and over the field behind his bouncing captain.
"I really hate this," mumbled Harry as he lay face first in some soft earth.
"Tell me about it," responded Tom from his vantage point in a deep puddle of thick, gooey mud.
"I swear to Kahless I will have that Vulcan pleading for mercy," growled B'Elanna from the depths of a prickly gorse bush. She was presenting the very pretty picture of her south side going north to the world.
Harry rolled over. "Do you think he deliberately programmed that deer streaking across the path? I mean, is he that diabolical?"
"'Yes' to diabolical, 'I don't know' to deliberate. All I know is that from where I sit it doesn't much matter." Tom stood up and starting wringing out whatever was wringable. It wasn't much.
"Elanna's muffled voice rose from the depths. "Would either of you two gentlemen consider helping a lady out of a prickin' gorse bush? I would really prefer not to stay in here too much longer; the damned thing is making me bleed!"
"Sure, B'Elanna, be right there." Harry spit out dirt with his words and tried to wipe off some of the mud from his clothes. He turned and warmed up considerably as he studied B'Elanna's situation, then reached towards her with the only obvious solution. She jumped.
"Watch those hands, Buster!" she cried, but it was no use. His original tactic was the only one that worked and finally she was able to stand up. Her fury was palpable.
"The Vulcan dies. Who's with me?" She looked at the two men and scratched. They grinned, nodded, spat and dripped.
"Doctor, you are a hologram. You do not need to make the noises or display the actions of an injured person."
Seven bent down to inspect the curious sight of the EMH's head poking through a gap on one side of a fence. One the other side of the fence his body sprawled ungracefully on its stomach. It occurred to Seven that the doctor would not be quitting this situation any time soon without help. He was wedged in tighter than she was in her catsuit. Well, almost.
"On the contrary, Seven," the EMH's voice came from below. "Commander Tuvok always uploads a pain sub-routine into my programme for his training sessions. He thinks it adds to the authenticity of my experience and I must say I'm feeling very real right now." A small groan escaped as he tried to turn his face towards her.
"Try not to move, Doctor. I will chip away some of this wood and have you extricated soon. Be calm. Why don't you sing while I chip? You enjoy singing."
"Only if you join me, Seven. What song do you think would be appropriate for today's venue?"
"There was one I heard in an old two dimensional video that Mr Paris showed last week. You might consider it suitable but that is questionable."
"What's the name, Seven, so I can access the file?"
"'Happy Trails' by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans." She chipped around his neck with a reproduced holographic tool.
"Nice horsey -- nice horsey!!!"
Neelix was still not mounted and was still trying to gain control over his horse. He danced around the animal with the reins in his hands, trying to calm it down. The horse had ideas of its own and Neelix did not figure anywhere in them. It shied to the right, pulling Neelix off his feet. Then, just as Neelix stood back up it skittered backwards and then immediately lunged forward in one smooth movement. This forward leap bashed the horse's broad chest right into Neelix's face and down he went, flat on his back. He had to turn quickly and scramble for the reins before the horse was gone. Unfortunately, this heroic movement landed him squarely in an enormous pile of fresh manure.
"C'mon Beccy, nice horsey! Be good -- we're in this together, you know," he soothed while looking for a stick or anything to use to scrape off the dung. The beginning of the end for him started while his eyes were still cast downwards looking for a helpful tool.
The horse suddenly reared up on its hind legs with a fierce whinny. Neelix looked up in horror just in time to see the front hooves kicking towards his head. He was unconscious before he even hit the dirt. And when he woke up he'd want a very large stick indeed.
Kathryn and Chakotay leaned against the wall, waiting for the lift. They were exhausted, filthy , and smelling strongly of sweaty horse. An ensign passed them and nodded, then turned her head away and quickened her pace. Finally the lift arrived and they both painfully straightened up to enter. Kathryn rubbed her behind as they stepped in.
"I think this was even worse than our away mission, Chakotay. I can hardly take a step without every part of my body, especially this part, screaming at me."
He bent backward and looked down to view her injured site. It looked fine to him.
"Well, it certainly feels and smells the same, but at least we don't have the embarrassment of an off world media unit taking film for their world wide newscasts. I wanted to put a bag over my head but all I could find was Neelix's ambassadorial pouch. Couldn't even get it past my ears."
"Say, Chakotay, where are we going to hide? I really don't want to deal with Tuvok right now, I think I'd space him without a second thought."
"In that case, Kathryn, may I have the honour of demanding his presence when we get to where ever it is we're going?"
"No, but I've just thought of something that should work almost as well," she said and, without a second thought, she pulled off her communicator and tossed it onto the lift floor. Chakotay looked at it still bouncing and then tossed his down, too.
"We're doing this for his own good, Commander."
"I understand, Captain. It is our sacred duty to preserve the safety of the crew. Even his."
Tom, B'Elanna, and Harry limped towards the lift. The pain and stiffness from being thrown from large horses was starting to be felt by each of them as their shock wore off. None of them spoke.
The lift doors slid open and they slowly entered. B'Elanna was the first to notice the communicators on the floor as she stood holding her kinked neck. She considered them for a minute and then suddenly looked satisfied. She slapped her own communicator.
"Computer, what is the location of Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay?" Tom and Harry turned to her with puzzled expressions."'
"Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay are in Lift 4."
The men's confusion deepened until their eyes followed B'Elanna's pointing finger. Then comprehension dawned on them and smiling, all three tossed their communicators beside the other two. Neither one of the men had uttered a single word during the whole process.
"Ohhhhhhhhh, Owwwwwwwwwww!" The EMH was in considerable pain as Seven assisted him to the turbolift. It had taken quite a while for her to safely chip enough wood away to allow him to draw his head through to freedom. Neither one of them thought Commander Tuvok would appreciate the doctor falling out of character and using his holographic abilities to avoid handling the situation. And considering they were fleeing the training session without permission, they felt no need to aggravate him even further."
"Doctor, hold on. I will get you to Sickbay and delete the pain sub-routine for you. Please be patient for a few more minutes."
The doctor whimpered quietly as the lift doors opened. Seven supported him as they entered and the door shut.
"I do not wish to have any contact with Commander Tuvok until I have regenerated at least once. I am not assimilating this beast riding at all, nor do I wish to," she stated emphatically.
The Doctor moaned and then quietly tapered off. "Well, Seven, don't look now, but I don't -- oww -- think that we're the only onees that feel that way. Point your visual implant down to that corner there."
They both gazed at the small pile of communicators and then looked at each other. Both plucked their communicators off and dropped them on the pile.
"I believe that our Executive Officers are excellent leaders, don't you, Seven?'
"I find it very satisfactory to serve under their command, Doctor."
Neelix stumbled to the lift, holding his head in both hands. The enormous goose egg on his forehead was killing him and he wished either the doctor or Tom Paris was working in sickbay. He desperately needed something for his head, and quickly!
The lift doors opened and he fell in. Leaning against the bulkhead he slowly slid down to the floor until he felt something unusual. Putting one hand under his butt, he discovered the pile of communicators and swept them out from under. Once that was done it took him less than two seconds to yank his own communicator off his chest and whip it down to join the others.
"They can all just eat leolabutter sandwiches tonight for all I care!" he muttered out loud and put his head back in his hands. He stunk, too.
Commander Tuvok was confused. His trainees had scattered as soon as they had mounted their horses, but even he felt confident that these insubordinate exits had been more the decision of the horses than of the officers.
He had spent much of the training time trying to round up these Starfleet doggies to no avail. If he started to close in on any communicator signal it suddenly seemed to bolt off in another direction. Now, after several of these ineffectual attempts, the signals were all gone. And the ship's computer was telling him the trainees were all massed together in Lift 4. Absolutely illogical. He would just see about that.
"Don't you just love bubble baths, Chakotay?" purred Kathryn as she lay back on his chest. "I could just lie here forever, couldn't you?"
"I have to admit it smells a lot better than those miserable horses, Kath. And the body contact is far superior, too." He bent forward and kissed her ear. "How's your bottom?"
"Black and blue as you well know. Now, don't interrupt my fantasies, Chak. Mmmmmmm. I was dreaming about the three best ways to kill a Vulcan, but I'm mellowing out. Now it's just the three ways best ways to maim him. It must be due to the present company and the lavender bath oil."
"Then maybe we should get out before you decide he's innocent of all wrong-doing. I wouldn't want that to happen."
"No fears on that. I'm almost to the point where I'm willing to moon the visual sensor, just to add my contribution to the log citing the mass injuries he inflicted on the entire senior staff."
"Why don't you? It's official business."
"Because I wouldn't give Tom Paris the satisfaction of either seeing it or holding it over my head. I"m not that injured, at least not between my ears!"
"Well then, Kath, how about one little picture for me? I promise I won't share with anyone else."
"Forget it. I can see it now. You crashing another shuttle and the only picture they find on your lifeless body is my psychedelic rear-end. I think not, Chakotay."
Suddenly, their quiet time together was shattered when a ship-wide announcement blared into the bathroom. It was Tuvok and he sounded like he meant business.
"All senior staff, report to the Briefing Room immediately." They looked at one another.
"I knew it was too good to be true. The one time when no one can call us or use the computer to locate us," Chakotay sighed. "They couldn't even try to bust us this time."
"Oh well, now that we've done it once, it won't be so hard the next time." She started to stand up slowly, giving Chakotay the very picture he'd wanted. He smiled; he'd carry that one in his mind for a very long time indeed.
"Let's go to his de-briefing; it might actually be good news. Perhaps the others did well. Or maybe Tuvok broke some bones or suffered massive internal hemmoraging. Have you ever seen a Vulcan bruise Chakotay? Very interesting colours. Here, c'mon EquusMan, let me help you out. Boy, if you're not stiff in one way around me, you're stiff in another. Lift your leg over.....that's it, sweet.....hold onto me....."
"Kathryn, I'm just getting too old for this kind of crap."
Tuvok's summation of the training session was complete and, hardly surprisingly, no one passed. He seemed particularly disturbed that the importance of the training was totally lost on the trainees; not one of them had actually managed to impress him, at least not in any positive manner. When he was finished, a few general questions, answers, accusations, and threats were tossed around. Finally, Captain Janeway took control.
"Tuvok, admit it, those huge horses were a ridiculous choice for a first lesson. Unless, of course, your intention was to kill us all and take over Voyager."
Tuvok actually looked shocked. "I assure you, Captain, that was not my intention."
"And you're immaculate. Did you actually get up on your horse and ride?"
"I was in the saddle for almost the entire time of the training session."
"You programmed those horses to be brutes and on that away mission you were just as rotten at riding as the rest of us. Did you tweak the programme to accommodate yourself?"
"I most certainly did not, Captain."
She tapped her fingers on the table and stared at him. Finally she said, "I realize Vulcans think they don't lie, Mr Tuvok, but you're prevaricating in no uncertain terms. Tell us what you did to your horse. And that's an order, Commander."
He stood still for a moment and then finally told them. There was a sudden silence as everyone stared at him.
"You mind-melded with your horse, Commander Tuvok??" Janeway repeated in awe. She considered this extraordinary news and then turned to look at Chakotay with a questioning eye. He shook his head and turned to Tuvok.
"How could you mind-meld with your horse, Tuvok?" the first officer asked. "It was a hologram."
"I am not unaware of the creature's origins, Commander; I designed it. However, I am adequately skilled in holographic programming and I ensured that the animal possessed the required mental attributes for a meld."
"Forget the hologram part, Tuvok," Tom piped. "How could you mind-meld with your horse? It was a HORSE."
Tuvok imperceptibly gained control over himself.
"Melding with a lesser species is well documented, Mr Paris. We did not exchange our philosophies on life or the details of our past experiences. I simply conveyed to it that I was a friend and there was no need for fear. It understood and acted accordingly."
The senior staff looked around the table at each other. Finally, Janeway returned to Tuvok.
"Tell me, Mr Tuvok, why didn't you also perform the same type of meld with our horses?"
"Captain, that would not have been logical. This was a training situation for all of you while I personally required more control to assist with your training. We have discussed the reasons behind the specifications of the horses and if I had melded with them I might just as well have programmed them to be gentler animals."
"Yes, you might just as well have done that," she said quietly, but no one, including the second officer, missed the danger in that voice. Again the silent exchanges, first with her XO and then around the table with the rest of the senior staff. First she nodded and then finally she spoke.
"I go first," she announced. "Computer, Commander Tuvok will be performing intensive one-on-one security training with Mr Neelix. This training will be for a minimum of two hours per day and will continue until Mr Neelix has achieved a skill level equivalent with Starfleet security officers. Please record these sessions and the time it takes to complete. Authorization Janeway Delta 846018-B."
"Acknowledged." Tuvok's eyebrow elevated. Janeway nodded at Chakotay.
"Computer," said Chakotay quietly, "please restrict spiritual, meditative, and relaxation programmes in any and all forms from Commander Tuvok until further notice."
"Nice touch," she whispered in appreciation. Then louder, "Authorization, Janeway Delta 846018-B."
The instructions continued around the table. After each, Captain Janeway entered her authorization code and the participants all listened to the toneless "Acknowledged" with increasing satisfaction.
Tom's smile was evil. "Computer, please have all of Commander Tuvok's personal screens repeatedly show Captain Proton videos from Holodeck recordings. Amplify all screams by Miss Goodheart and maniacal laughter by Chaotica. No controls to the Commander."
Harry's smile was childlike. "Computer, please programme Harry Kim's 'Echoes of the Void' clarinet solo to play continuously on the bridge at the maximum volume level that can be heard by Vulcans but not by Humans. No controls to the Commander." He caught the captain's eye and added, "with the exception of yellow or red alert status." She smiled and nodded.
B'Elanna's smile was vindictive. "Computer, please download Voyager's entire library of Klingon operas and play them through alphabetically whenever Commander Tuvok is in his quarters. Volume at loud with no volume control to the Commander. Stop play when he exits, resume play when he enters."
Neelix's smile was gleeful. "Computer, please programme all replicators to respond to any food request from Commander Tuvok with leola root mash, and to any drink request by him with leola root beer. No substitutions allowed."
Seven's smile was serene. "Computer, please record Commander Tuvok's appointment to Ambassador of Livestock Riding on any and all future away missions. Note especially that it will be a breach of both policy and protocol for the Ambassador to refuse any offer to participate in this duty, or to engage in any prior exchange with any beast. Note that mind-melds in particular will be subject to severe disciplinary action."
The Doctor's smile was smug. "Computer, please record on Commander Tuvok's records that he is required to participate in the Social Lessons of Voyager's EMH in their entirety. Full programme, not the abridged. Recording of successful completion of these lessons will be at the EMH's satisfaction and discretion."
Commander Tuvok stood as still as a statue until everyone was finished. As the final "Acknowledged" faded away, he faced the captain.
"Captain, I have not understood the actions of the senior staff all day. Please explain what is happening here and why it seems appropriate to all of you."
"You don't have to understand, Commander Tuvok," replied Chakotay. "The captain is not obliged to discuss or explain any command decision with any person on board her ship."
Janeway leaned over the table, crossed arms supporting her. "Well, let's just say, Tuvok, that I am reviewing our training schedule and noticing a few holes in it. And since I realize how important training is to you, I' m letting you enjoy a little training yourself. It's only logical and will increase our efficiency."
Commander Tuvok stood looking out at the stars. Sometimes it just wasn't worth getting out of bed in the morning.
"I see," he intoned. "In that case, Captain, I will be pleased to train Mr Neelix. It will give me an opportunity to determine if there is anything in his mind to actually meld with. In addition, I will be pleased to take the Doctor's unabridged series of Social Lessons. With my relaxation programmes prohibited, I will need an alternative method to send me into the deep trance required for my meditations. As for being Voyager's official Livestock Rider, it will be my pleasure. I have learnt today that not all beasts have four legs."
The faces around the table had changed expressions but Tuvok continued smoothly on.
"However, Captain, regarding the programmes that will require the computer to monitor my whereabouts, I have a much more efficient plan." He reached into his pocket and brought out the handful of communicators he had found in the lift. He jingled them for a few minutes and then plucked his own off and added it to those in his large hand. "The computer will have to locate me first."
Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay rose as one to speak. Tuvok held up his free hand.
"And I have the satisfaction of knowing that this procedure is sanctioned by the Executive Staff."
Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay sank back into their seats.
Out maneuvered by a tactical officer.
"And Commander," Tuvok turned to face Chakotay, "isn't that the captain's personal lavender oil scent I smell on you?"
And busted to boot.
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