so as @notimejustwords and @pg1890 already know, the only idea I’ve had for a story since I finished my last long yarn in 2016 is to write something that could explain why Ayala starts his life on the ship as a lieutenant, but ends up an ensign. There isn’t anything to explain it in the show, so it’s likely the writers just forgot what rank they’d given him at the beginning. Poor bloke! Even though I’ve been trying to think of something for months, no, years actually, I’ve had no joy. But this afternoon this came to me-
Scenario 1 – for ‘Ayala did a very bad thing and gets demoted’
Torres: So when are you going to tell us what it is that you did, Mike?
(Ayala silently stares straight ahead)
Chakotay: Drop it, Torres.
Paris: Come on Chakotay, why the big secret? I mean it seems pretty extreme to knock him down to ensign. I’d like to know why the Captain came down so hard on him.
Torres: Yeah, me too. Tell us, Mike. Maybe Chakotay could talk to Janeway for you? Get her to think again?
(Chakotay avoids her gaze, studying his boots. Ayala continues to stare straight head in silence)
Tuvok: The Captain’s decision is final.
Paris: You know you’re dying to tell us, Tuvok. What did he do?
Tuvok: Mr Ayala transgressed and the Captain saw fit to punish him.
Paris: Yeah, we get that. But what did he do?
Tuvok: Seven of Nine encountered Mr Ayala performing a lewd act in astrometrics.
(Paris snorts and Torres’s eyebrows rise up to her ridges. Still staring straight ahead, Ayala flushes a deep purple)
Chakotay: (eyeing Tuvok with a murderous glimmer) Seven interrupted a private conversation between husband and wife.
Tuvok: May I remind you, Commander, and anyone else who needs reminding, that had it merely been a conversation, it would not have been in breach of Starfleet protocols.
Paris: (winking at Ayala) Hope you had long enough, ensign.
Torres: I think Seven should make herself scarce and give people some privacy when they’re calling home. You can have my chip too next month if you want, Mike.
(Ayala looks across at Torres)
Tuvok: Mr Ayala’s experience should remind all crewmembers that they would do well to revisit Starfleet protocols governing acceptable behaviour in communal areas of the ship.
Chakotay: (still glowering at Tuvok) What consenting adults do is no one else’s business, as long as those concerned have permission to be in that area of the ship, are off duty and have sealed the doors.
(Paris and Torres eye Chakotay suspiciously, then exchange a look.)
Tuvok: Indeed, Commander. Mr Ayala, however, did not have permission to use astrometrics for such an… activity, was not off duty and had not sealed the doors. Hence the Captain’s decision to demote him.
Paris: Well, I still think that’s an overreaction. I’ll come with you to talk to the Captain, if you want, Mike. Tell her you deeply regret it.
(Pregnant pause while they wait for Ayala to reply)
Ayala: No can do, Paris. But thanks. (turns to Torres) If you’re still offering, I’ll take that chip for next month.
(Ayala nods to Chakotay and Tuvok for permission to excuse himself and exits speedily)
Paris: Well, if you hear he’s looking to get hold of anyone else’s chips, Chakotay, you better have a little talk with him. Otherwise he’s gonna get himself busted down to Crewman before we’ve even made it out of this sector…
Tuvok: (Still holding Chakotay’s gaze) Mr Paris’s colourful language notwithstanding, it seems intervention might indeed be prudent, Commander.
Chakotay: Always have to have the last word, don’t you Tuvok?
Tuvok: You are mistaken. I have no such need.
Chakotay: You sure about that?
Tuvok: I am.
The timeline here isn’t canon compliant :( For it to work Ayala needs to do the ‘very bad thing’ before the beginning of season 4, not later in the show like this, as he’s already been demoted to ensign in The Gift. But nothing even vaguely sensible that works has come to me.
I hope someone else thinks of something one day, I’d love to read it…