Mirren’s lifeless body lay on the main biobed in sickbay. The Vulcan nurse placed a cardio-stimulator on the patient’s chest hoping to revive him. Doctor Markalis entered commands into the biobed’s surgical scanner to administer electrical pulses from the stimulator. The scan indicating Mirren’s vital signs indicated a flat line even after each pulse. “Again,” the doctor ordered after each pulse.
No change registered on the EKG readout. After five pulses at the highest intensity, the doctor gave up. “I’m sorry,” she said, lowering her head dejectedly. “I did everything to try to save him. Everything I could. But he’s dead. I’m very sorry.”
“I know you did everything,” Limis replied. “It’s my fault. How did it happen.”
Markalis looked straight ahead and walked over to Limis. “Cardassian physiology is adapted to a thinner atmosphere on their home planet,” she said in a dispassionate monotone voice. “The air pressure calibrations on Starfleet ships bombarded his respiratory system. Like frostbite, you have to warm the affected area slowly. Otherwise, the sudden blood could lead to potentially fatal damage.”
In my youth, I would have said that Mirren was just a Cardassian. When I was recruited into the Resistance. I hated all Cardassians and wanted them all dead. As I got older, I was able to temper that hatred and think in more pragmatic terms. Each death that I caused made a little of me die.
There are rules even in war. And I condemned a sentient being, not to mention a noncombatant to his death. I was ready to face the music.
Limis sat in her ready room the next morning reading daily status reports when Kozar and Morrison paid her a visit. The first officer had given her a hard time about minor violations of protocol since her first day on the job. Limis immediately sensed that Kozar would throw the proverbial book at her on even more serious violations of regulations.
“Mister Morrison told me what happened last night,” Kozar matter-of-factly stated.
Limis looked up to see the chief of security also present. “Why do I get the feeling you’re going to gang up on me?” she inquired.
“Before we left space dock,” Kozar stated, “Admiral Jellico contacted me.”
Limis felt that Kozar saw her as an obstacle to the starship captaincy he had been seeking since his tour on the Horatio Nelson
. She stood up assuming he would hesitate to use this latest situation to push her out of the way. “What are you saying?” she asked, standing up.
“Captain Limis,” Kozar proclaimed, “I hereby relieve you of your command under Starfleet Regulation 104, Section C.”
“That regulation only applies to a CO judged physically and mentally unfit. Can Doctor Markalis certify that with a full medical examination?”
“Admiral Jellico told me she doesn’t need to. He granted me expanded autonomy which I am now using.”
Kozar then turned to Morrison. “Mister Morrison,” he said. “Please escort the captain to her quarters and confine her there.”
Morrison walked around the desk to carry out that command. “I’m sorry, Captain,” he said apologetically. “If you’ll come with me.”
“She’s all yours, Captain
,” Limis sneered at Kozar on her way out of the ready room.
For sure, my short Starfleet career was over. While the Cardies may argue that the ends justify the means, Starfleet and the Federation have very little tolerance for mistreating prisoners. Despite the intense guilt I felt over Mirren’s death, I felt in the back of my mind such actions would help turn the tide in this war. The JAG office wouldn’t have seen it that way and I was prepared to accept. But five days later, something happened to change all that.
Vice Admiral William Ross sat at his desk reviewing the latest casualty reports from the Tyra System. The hardest part about reading these reports was looking over the names of those who were unaccounted for. So many ships were lost in these battle, so the families of those missing people were left in limbo on whether they were dead or alive. He welcomed any kind of distraction from this difficult duty, which came in the form of his office door chiming. “Yes,” he called.
Rear Admiral Edward Jellico entered holding up a padd. “What’s the meaning of this, Bill?” he asked, raising it.
“I beg your pardon?” Ross innocently answered.
Jellico entered a command on the padd to call up the relevant information. “”On the recommendation of Vice-Admiral William Ross’,” he said, reading the contents, “’no disciplinary action will be taken against Captain Limis Vircona at this time.’ Why the hell not?”
“She was able to acquire vital information that could give us even a minor victory,” Ross stated, rising from his chair, “which our troops could certainly use right about now.”
“She tortured a man, and he died soon afterward,” Jellico snapped back.
Ross took a few deep breaths to keep this discussion from becoming a knockdown-drag out shouting match. He then circled around the desk and sat in one of the guest chairs. “I didn’t expect this kind of reaction from you, Ed,” he said, calmly. “Your style of command is one that demands results. You’ve had plenty of dealings with the Cardassians during your career.
“This is war, Ed. We can’t be distracted with penalizing someone for a petty violation of protocol.”
“’Petty violation of protocol’?” Jellico repeated, sitting in the other guest chair. “That’s what you call torturing a man? By letting this slide, you’re basically giving all Starfleet CO’s unlimited freedom to use whatever methods they may deem necessary. And to blazes with the Seldonis Four Convention
Limis Vircona sat in behind the desk of the ready room sipping whiskey from a shot glass. As a result of Ross’s recommendation, her command was reinstated. The downside was Limis witnessed the Battle of the Tyra System, where nearly a hundred ships were lost to the Jem’Hadar. While awaiting full damage reports, Limis retired to her ready room to reflect on the events that led to the death of that Cardassian. The cataclysmic confrontation she had just brought her back to that incident. Would the information obtained through such extreme measures culminate in a reversal of a demoralizing trend?
“I was off the hook,” Limis stated in her personal log. “I’ll bet Jellico was furious. Kozar was not too happy either. He said the JAG office was setting a ‘dangerous precedent.’ As much as I wanted to gloat, we was right. At some point, we have to be willing to stand on principle. Even if we do defeat the Dominion, they’ll still achieve a philosophical victory if we started to behave too much like them.
“Even so, I have done things I am not proud of. I sold sexual favors to high-ranking Cardassian military operatives. I killed more Cardassians than I would care to count, including civilians either to achieve mission objectives or in acts of petty revenge. People die in war, and Mirren is just one more casualty of war. I may hate myself for some of the horrible things I have done. But I can learn to live with that guilt.”
Limis stood up from her desk, paced over to the replicator, and ordered another shot of whiskey. After downing it in one gulp, she returned to the desk. “Computer,” she said stoically, “erase that entire personal log.”
Two weeks after the Battle of Tyra, Admiral Ross sent Captain Benjamin Sisko and the senior officers of the USS Defiant
on daring mission into the heart of Dominion territory using the information Limis had obtained by way of torturing and inadvertently killing Mirren. Using a captured Jem’Hadar fighter, Sisko and his crew were able to destroy the ketracel-white manufacturing plant, putting the enemy in a difficult conundrum for months with its supply line to the cut off.