12 The Inquiry Bell: Firestorm
TIME INDEX: 20:02:29
ADMIRALTY BOARD CONFERENCE:
Picard, Jean-Luc, CAPT USS Enterprise NCC-1701 E
Valxaen, Leth Korett, RADM, FEDSEC, Starfleet Command, FCMDR 3rd Fleet SEC-001
PRESIDING: Janeway, Kathryn, VADM Starfleet Command, SF Earth SEC-001
BOI Protocol 11T-4 MAJ VOTE/VOICE J-742
Ruling: SUSP/SUST CRM MISB/CONSP
From the far end of Admiralty Board table, Vice Admiral Janeway sipped her coffee and watched herself lower her voice to confer with the ranking officers during the short recess:
“Does the Board wish to call an extended recess to confer?”
Rear Admiral Valxaen shook his head and his antennae stood at attention: “I have already made a warranted decision.”
“Judge Advocate Pel, could we have your perspective?”
Trelliq Pel put aside her padd, its first downtime since the inquiry began, and stood at parade rest: “Admirals, Captain, I have already made something of a small investigation of my own on several fronts. Would you like the long answer Admiral? Or the short one?”
Janeway held up her palm in acquiescence: “The short one. For the moment.”
Trelliq Pel handed the Vice Admiral the padd. Janeway scanned the bullets. “Courts martial all around would prevent a lot of problems,” Pel said. “There is too much at stake, strong evidence, and frankly enough questions where any of these heretofore exemplary officers are concerned. Not doing so would only invite doom on us all at the hands of the Celestial Authority of the Office of Legal Counsel. Ma’am.”
“Bite your tongue, Judge Advocate Pel.” The Janeway hologram turned in her chair. “Captain Picard?”
Captain Picard took a breath to speak, and hesitated; he glanced around at Commander Troi, who nodded at him imperceptibly. Then he impassively turned to the Assembly and sat in severe concentration. “Let us proceed at your leisure, Admiral.”
“Very well.” Vice Admiral Janeway struck the inquiry bell three times.
After calling the accused by name and bidding them to stand and face the ruling of the Board of Inquiry, Vice Admiral Janeway began: “The Board of Inquiry will now take its vote. The majority vote will determine whether formal charges shall be Suspended, or Sustained for each of the Accused; if a Sustained vote is called, that officer will face immediate restriction pending a general court martial; and an Admiralty Board recommendation will be submitted for a formal criminal investigation of the accused. Captain Picard, what say you?”
The piercing gaze of the captain of the starship Enterprise
fell on the Accused. “In light of their proven records, as well as the longtime assessments of these officers by their commanders and crewmates...I vote for Suspension of all charges and an end to their participation as the accused in this inquiry.”
“Is that based on a feeling
, Captain Picard?” demanded Counselor Toloruk, eyeing Commander Troi.
“No it is not!” Picard bit. “It is based, Counselor, on the facts that the evidence is circumstantial, the threat too serious for wild goose chases, and the simple fact that these Starfleet officers
are not terrorists.”
Janeway took back control: “Thank you gentlemen. The vote is a matter of record. Rear Admiral Valxaen, what say you?”
“Vexa, Sublieutenant. Grifahni Jace, Chief Master-At-Arms Petty Officer First Class. Paris, Thomas Eugene, Commander. Torres, B’Elanna, Commander. My vote stands for all parties of the Accused.” The Rear Admiral faced the standing officers. “Sustain formal charges in general courts martial.”
The Assembly broke into unrest.
Captain Picard surveyed the tenor of the assembly, and spoke to Janeway. “The casting vote, it would seem, is yours, Admiral.”
Never mind quantum slipstream - the Perseus hasn’t even left spacedock and has already created a firestorm across two quadrants
, thought Kathryn Janeway.
Was there a terrorist plot, and a mole aboard the Perseus? If so, who? If it really was B'Elanna or Tom, it may as well have been any
of the crew. But no matter her personal feelings in the matter, Starfleet Vice Admiral Janeway had a professional duty and an incalculable responsibility to the security of several sectors – as well as to Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets in its entirety. The conflict between personal feelings and duty had not only a constant career presence; it's weight, and toll on personal relationships, only increased with rank. Kathryn knew she would have to either trust her former crew, or she’d have to distrust everyone
. It was a hell of a thing.
Starfleet Command would demand heads – but her leadership as President over this Board of Inquiry would not rule for the sake of head-rolling; not as long as she sat in the big chair. Kathryn asked herself: What exactly was the nature of this threat? Did it have a name? Was it an enemy power? Or worse – a friendly
The question not only regarded the possible courts martial of her former loyal crew; but whether to proceed with quantum slipstream technology at all, given the political volatility of the situation. Yet it drew to the heart of why she had entered Starfleet in the first place. Progress and exploration. Peace and security in the galaxy. Humanity among the stars – and more importantly, in the vast cold spaces between them.
As the agitated host of attendees hung on her next words, Starfleet Command Vice Admiral Kathryn Janeway looked at her former helmsman, and surveyed the Assembly. “This Board will recess until eight hundred tomorrow morning.”
The bell rang thricely.
TIME INDEX: 20:33:18
END OF SELECTED INDEX RECORD
Starfleet Command Vice Admiral Kathryn Janeway tapped Judge Advocate Pel’s padd against her hand thoughtfully, then tossed it to the table. As the assembly broke, she watched Tom Paris politely excuse himself from Advocate Kel'Akann in order to discuss something with the EMH. She wondered if the Counselor to the Court registered it; but Toloruk was busy seeing off his aide. He had done something that caught her attention. “Computer, freeze program.” She rose and made her way over to the Counselor’s table. He had written something on a padd, and handed it off to his aide. “Computer, reverse playback ten seconds. Now advance three seconds. Freeze program.”
She bent down to see the note he had just tapped out on the padd. It read: Fed involvement?
And then, a single word: Janeway
She tapped her communicator. “Janeway to Captain Picard.”
Have you made your decision, Admiral?
“I have.” She regarded the Counselor’s face, frozen in satisfaction – and looking directly at her. “And you’re not going to like it.”