Hmm...no comments on the last chapter?
Ah, well. This next one brings us to a good stopping point for the week. Let's do it:
Star Trek: Aventine
Our Sacred Honor
Nan Bacco entered the hall containing the cell of Ezri Dax, accompanied by two guards from Federation Security—and Commander Sam Bowers and Dr. Simon Tarses, both of the U.S.S. Aventine
Captain Dax had clearly just risen to her feet—and her eyes widened at the sight of the president. She clasped her hands behind her back. “Madam President!”
“As you were, Captain. I’ll talk to you in a bit, but…I thought these two gentlemen would like some time, first….”
Dax nodded. “Thank you, Madam President.”
Bacco stepped away to a safe distance, indicating for the guards to do the same. She watched the three officers with a feeling of something like nostalgia. She’d never been in Starfleet…but she understood the feeling of friendship, the close bond between those three kids.
Ah, for the good old days…when you could walk around without an armed escort…and have such private moments with those you care about
“How are you, Skip?” she heard Dr. Tarses ask.
Dax smiled, sighed, and said, “I’m coping. I’ll be fine.”
“It’s not right. Captain—they should be thanking
“Simon—I’ll be fine
. Now…you two know you’re going to be called to speak, right?”
Bowers nodded. “Of course, Captain.”
“Well…just stay sharp. Don’t hold anything back. We’ll let the truth speak for itself. We clear?”
“As a bell, Captain.”
Tarses paused for a moment, but nodded.
Dax’s smile grew. “Okay,” she returned the nod. “Now…get to it, you two.”
“Right away, Captain,” Bowers replied.
He began to walk off, but Tarses lingered for a moment. “Captain…if there’s anything you need…”
Dax chuckled, and shook her head. “No. Just get some sleep. It’s a big day, tomorrow.”
“All right, Skip.”
The two men paused to acknowledge Bacco. She nodded to both, and turned to walk over to the cell, as the officers left to return to the Aventine
Bacco looked to the guards. “Wait outside, will you?”
The two nodded, and left without a second thought. The two women were alone.
Bacco pressed a control on the wall, deactivating the field. She walked in, and asked, “Can I sit down?”
“Oh—of course!” Dax rushed to the bench, and brushed it down with her hand a bit.
Bacco chuckled. “No need to go to any trouble…”
“It’s all right, Madam President. It’s not a problem.”
Bacco shook her head in amazement, and sat down. This girl, by all accounts, was a heroine of the Federation. Everyone on Earth, and who knows how many other worlds, owed Ezri Dax their lives. As far as Bacco was concerned, it should be her
going out of her way to make Dax
comfortable. And yet…this girl had such humility, and something of a shy submission to rank. It was very impressive—if a bit ironic.
“Captain,” Bacco said finally, “I’m just an old woman, who happens to hold an office. Sit down right here…and let’s talk, alright?” She gave the spot next to her a pat.
Ezri’s her name…she deserves a personal touch, right now—
swallowed a bit, but sat down on the bench, next to her.
Bacco looked at her. It was amazing how small
this young woman was—petite, almost fragile. And yet…she was a captain, a starship captain. Frankly, she looked more suited to her former career, as counselor of Deep Space Nine.
And yet…there was something about her—a dignity in her posture, a drive, an energy—which suited her perfectly for command. Something in those blue-grey eyes implied a great deal of thoughtfulness, and wisdom—the kind that most people wouldn’t get until reaching old age.
She’s a joined Trill, though—from what I’ve heard, the
only one right now. That’s…such a weight to carry on shoulders so young
But, there was something else in those eyes—and Bacco knew, without any other proof, that this poor girl had been crying.
I don’t blame her. She didn’t ask for any of this…did she?
“So,” Bacco asked, “How are you faring?”
“As…well as can be expected, ma’am.”
“I can imagine. None of this is right…I know.”
“Oh, drop the titles for a moment. My friends call me ‘Nan’.”
Bless her heart, the girl actually blushed. “I…don’t think I should…”
“Come on. No one’s here…no one’s listening. I’ll call you ‘Ezri’, if that’s all right with you.”
“Well…if you like, Mada—” she chuckled, and corrected herself, “Nan….”
Bacco nodded, with a smile. “That’s better. Now…what’s your question?”
“Oh, I—I was just wondering…what you meant.”
“What, that it’s all wrong? Captain, I think your doctor friend already said it.”
“I…don’t follow you.”
Bacco scoffed, leaning her head back against the wall. She looked up at the ceiling, wondering how to put it. Finally…she turned back to the girl. “Dang it, Captain—they want to scapegoat you. The Pact’s looking for a fight—and the last thing we need or want
is to give them one. They
obviously know it—and they’ll flaunt it in our face, whenever they can. And because of that…well, a lot of folks on the Council just want to force something out there—a test case, to ‘show’ how committed we are to peaceful relations with those…those people
. You just…were in the wrong place, at the wrong time.”
Ezri sighed. “Ma’am, as far as the Council’s concerned—”
“Oh, forget the Council. You’re an innocent woman, Ezri—that’s
what matters to me, you hear? I’m not
going to let you be thrown around like some…hacky-sack—no matter what
flack I get for it.”
Ezri looked off for a moment, and sighed. “Funny—I’ve been called that a lot.”
She shook her head. “Innocent.”
Bacco chuckled. “Well…I’d say we could use a few idealists right now. All I hear these days is a lot of nonsense about being ‘practical’…and how we can’t afford to see things in black-and-white—how we gotta deal with things as they are….”
Her mood turned bitter. “Well…look where that’s
brought us. You’re here, locked up, just to satisfy a bunch of self-righteous pieces of—”
Ezri blinked. “You’re sure no one can hear us?”
Bacco snorted. “Right now, I wouldn’t give a flying load of tribble crap.”
“I don’t think tribbles do that, Madam President.”
Bacco raised an eyebrow. “You sure?”
Ezri nodded, with what looked like a knowing smile. “Pretty
Bacco chuckled. “Well, I’ll defer to your experience, then…. But I’m not here to discuss tribble habits, of course.”
Ezri returned the chuckle. “Of course….”
“I…suppose I just came down here to say—hang in there. We’ll get you out of this, one way or another.”
Ezri stared at her for a bit, as if studying her, and frowned. “Madam President…I don’t want to get you into trouble.”
“You really think I give a darn about that?”
“With all respect—you should. You…you don’t have that kind of luxury.”
“Yeah? Watch me.”
The girl stiffened. “What…do you intend to do?”
“Look—I ordered you out there, all right? I’ll take full responsibility—and I’ll take the burden away from you. You’ll walk out of here a free girl, and leave the mess to me—”
“I can’t allow that, ma’am.”
“You didn’t tell me to do what I did. You didn’t give the order to fire. It’s my
head, Madam President, not yours. I’m expendable. You’re not.”
Bacco’s lip tightened, as she clasped a hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Ezri—listen good. You are not
expendable. We need you out there like you wouldn’t believe. I’m the politician—I
handle the dirt and grime of this kind of thing. Folks like you, they shouldn’t have
to get involved with this crap.”
Ezri sighed…and raised an eyebrow. “I do know something about politicians, Madam President.”
“My first host, Lela.”
Bacco looked off for a minute—and snapped her fingers in remembrance. “Right! Unity and Freedom
Ezri’s face lit up. “You’ve read it?”
“Read it? That was what got me fascinated with this crazy field in the first place!”
The girl smiled. “I—I had no idea—”
Bacco smirked. “You’re quite a Locke, Dax. I hear a lot of unjoined folks thought of you as their hero and savior, back in the day….”
The girl chuckled. “Well…Lela was certainly big on the rights of everyone
“Anyway…Madame President, the point is—I know how the game is played.”
Bacco nodded. “Then you know I’m right. You don’t have to take all this.”
Ezri sighed. “Yes…I do.”
“Look, Madam President…I appreciate your wanting to help me, but…this hearing’s about what I
“Acting under my
“Did you tell me to fire?”
“And did you think I’d do…what I did?”
“I said to do what you had
“You can’t order me to break the law—and you didn’t.”
“You did not
break the law!”
“Then…what’s the problem? Why should we be afraid of this?”
Bacco narrowed her eyes. “Because…I’m afraid they’ll find a way to convict you anyway.”
Ezri was struck silent for a moment. When she found her voice, she said, “They’d…do
“I hope to heaven I’m wrong…but after all the things I’ve seen some of them do…I wouldn’t put it past them.”
Ezri shook her head in clear disgust.
Bacco sighed. “Ezri…I want to make sure you know who you’re up against. In my first year, a group of them wanted to continue trade with a race whose industries were all run on slavery. My idealistic…innocent
side came out—I blasted it with everything I had. Well, I got what I wanted—the policy was killed—but those Councilmen? They all went and accused me of…‘questioning their patriotism’…and held our government in gridlock until I came out and apologized
for the whole thing.”
Ezri just sighed, staring at the floor. “Well…I certainly don’t envy you your job.”
“Can’t say I envy yours
, right now.”
The girl nodded. “Well…thanks for the warning, Madam President. I’ll…keep it in mind.”
Bacco stared at her for a moment longer. “You sure I can’t convince you—?”
“No…there’s nothing you can do. And I can take it—you don’t have to worry about me.”
“I wish I could be sure of that.”
Ezri turned to her, and smiled. “I’ll be all right.”
Bacco sighed. “Okay….”
She rose from her seat, Ezri following suit. Bacco extended her hand, which Ezri took with a clear, firm shake.
“Good night, Captain.”
“Good night, Madam President…and thank you.”
Bacco nodded, and quietly added, “Good luck.”
Ezri nodded her thanks. Bacco exited her cell, and re-activated the field. She left the corridor, rejoined by the guards as she headed back to the presidential shuttle.
It’s so hard to
not like this girl,
the president mused. How shameful that so many seem to want to take her down.
She silently swore to herself that she was not about to let that happen.
* * *