, very much!
You're right--I think using a novels-only character can be very tricky, for the reasons you mentioned. I was actually concerned, as I was writing, that my Bacco might seem "off". I'm glad to see it doesn't.
Okay, folks...let's kick off this week with something big--somewhere in an unspecified sector of space....
Note: You may remember the character of Sorak, from my Passing of Value
and From Risa With Love
. He makes a brief reference to the latter, deep in this chapter. L'Haan, Zeitsev, and Cole, of course, are established TrekLit characters.
This chapter explores my theories about the organization of Section 31--and how they conduct business....
Also, it adresses a major problem I have with how the novels tend to portray the Bureau....
Star Trek: Aventine
Our Sacred Honor
In a region of space few vessels ever traveled, the meeting was about to be held. The station was cloaked with no residual effects or emissions. It was much smaller than the base of operations for Division Two—but that was understandable. This station was only used for one specific purpose—those occasions where the directors of the Bureau would come together in conference. And this, indeed, was one of those occasions.
It was a most efficient meeting place—barely larger in volume than a Defiant
-class vessel. There were two levels—the lower engineering floor, and the conference chamber. And it was in the latter that L’Haan, Director of Division Two, Section 31, now stood, waiting for the others to come.
She was often amused at the reactions she received whenever she mentioned that she was over a century old. Of course, most races see less years than Vulcans…but that made their reactions no less fascinating. She was often described as “youthful”—dark, shoulder-length hair, and a lithe figure—and she had often noticed how her most trusted agent, Dietz, seemed most…interested in her.
She was not one given in to such trivial concerns. Efficiency and fitness were priorities to her—that was all. “Romance”, and making one’s self “presentable” for such purposes, was a distraction—it was illogical.
Finally, two other directors transported from their vessels—vessels equipped with phasing cloaks, as hers was. There was Zeitsev, of Division Four—the overseer of Bureau operations in Klingon space, and L’Hann’s associate in many joint operations in the past, particularly the scandalous Tezwa affair.
L’Haan recalled how, during that time, one Ambassador Worf had somehow found Zeitsev’s base of operations—in the sub-subbasement of the Federation Embassy on Qo’nos. It had been a deliberate leak, of course, on the director’s part—Zeitsev had orchestrated sending to a certain source something to the effect that the “true” head of Starfleet Intelligence operations on the Klingon Homeworld was located there—himself, of course. It had been simple, directing Worf to do what needed to be done…and he had done it well.
Of course, Zeitsev had then had to relocate Division Four. But that was a necessary sacrifice, as far as he was concerned. L’Haan had not been so convinced—she was not one for taking risks of that sort, revealing such information to an outsider, however deliberately or temporarily. Still…everything had
worked out for the best—although some, including the late, decidedly unlamented
President Min Zife, had had to pay with their lives for the mess the Bureau had been left with. That sort of corruption would not be tolerated—not when it posed such a threat to the Federation.
, L’Haan mused, it would seem such corruption is occurring again—but in the Council, not the Presidential Office.
The other Director was a fellow Vulcan—Sorak, of Division Seven, the successor to the late, far more lamented Luther Sloan.
The name hit L’Haan with something akin to regret. Sloan…perhaps one of the finest directors in the Bureau’s history. He, along with Sorak, had turned his division into a force to be reckoned with—a new standard of efficiency and success for the rest of the organization, the envy of Section 31. L’Haan had been in the Bureau far longer than Sloan, of course—but she had been most impressed, nonetheless.
It had been Sloan who’d defeated the changeling threat on Earth—Sloan who had formed something of a treaty with the now-dead Chairman of the Tal Shiar, making the man into a “mole” of sorts, for the remainder of his life—and of course, Sloan who had orchestrated the morphogenic virus which had, moralist claims to the contrary, brought about the end of the Dominion War.
And then he died—captured in a most simplistic and unworthy manner, defeated at the hands of Section 31’s most stubbornly elusive prize, Dr. Julian Bashir. It was almost pathetic—and most disappointing. To be lured into what L’Haan would have immediately recognized as an obvious trap—and then to die while the doctor managed to glean from his mind the knowledge of the cure…it seemed so very different from the worthy associate she remembered. And while Sorak, the director’s second in command, was a more-than-satisfactory substitute for him…it was not the same.
Sentimentalism is illogical, L’Haan. That is the past. The present is what matters.
She acknowledged them both with a nod. The three of them were the paragons—the trifold example of what the Bureau was to be. The other six divisions were…often satisfactory—but far too often, some of them were guilty of creating messes of their own. It was often left to L’Haan, Zeitsev, and Sorak to take care of the consequences of those…inadequacies.
At the very least
, she mused, the other directors know when to walk away—and to cover their tracks as they do so
The remaining directors arrived in time. One of them in particular secured L’Haan’s attention: Cole, Director of Division Six—the man responsible for recruiting Dr. Ethan Locken, transforming the most unfortunate and tragic New Beijing Massacre into an opportunity to give the Bureau the recruit of its dreams.
Of course…Locken had been revealed to be a megalomaniacal rogue, who then left Section 31 in search of a more “fulfilling” role as future ruler of a “New Federation”. It was an insult that Cole had neglected to anticipate such mental impulses.
Frankly, as the humans would say, Cole got lucky. The good Dr. Bashir had been able to defeat Locken. Of course…then Bashir had had the good sense to be recruited into that constant thorn in the Bureau’s side, the contemptibly moralistic and emotion-driven “Kirk Cabal”.
Anger, L’Haan? The Cabal is an irritation—nothing more. Do not forget your Vulcan training. Your agent, Miss Douglas, is hoping to rectify that situation…quite soon
But for a man like Cole…L’Haan doubted there would be
a permanent “rectification”, short of his being replaced—which, unfortunately, would probably not occur for a significant period of time.
They all took their seats around the circular table, on the center of which was a holographic projector. L’Haan pressed a control in front of her, dimming the lighting of the room, and spoke.
“As you all are aware, in a recent incident along the border of the Breen Confederacy, the U.S.S. Aventine
encountered an allegedly civilian vessel, approaching the Federation colony on Pentalos IV. When it refused to cease in its course, Captain Ezri Dax ordered the vessel destroyed.”
She pressed another control, and over the projector appeared an image of the Breen ship. It resembled a disk, with a forward tip, curving down. A rectangular section—probably engineering—made up the rear.
“The Breen claim that it was a civilian transport, which had been pulled off course. Therefore…they claim the captain is guilty of violating the Interstellar Rules of Engagement—and of instigating an act of war.”
With another control, the vessel vanished, replaced by an image of Captain Dax. “She is now being held before the Federation Council, to answer for this.”
Sorak raised an eyebrow at this. “Frankly, I find it most curious that the entire Council is holding this hearing. Under normal circumstances, matters such as these would be settled by the Judicial Sub-Committee. It would seem…that the Council is waiving protocol, to make this as public as they can.”
Zeitsev smirked. “They wish to make this into a test case.”
“Precisely. It would be interesting to see what evidence either side possesses. If she is guilty, the Council appears willing to make an example of her, for purposes of accommodating the Typhon Pact. If, however, it becomes clear to all, beyond reasonable doubt, that she is not
guilty—that the vessel in question was in fact hostile—the Pact will have to explain themselves to the Alliance. Now…any
doubts in regards to a ‘not guilty’ verdict would invoke the considerable wrath of the Pact, to the effect that the Federation is simply covering for their own.”
He seemed to stiffen. “On the other hand…any doubts in regards to a ‘guilty’ verdict would have far
less severe diplomatic penalties. Therefore, either the Council deems the evidence sufficient enough to clear the good captain’s name—again, beyond any reasonable doubt—or else…they fully intend to convict her, regardless of any evidence in her favor. The latter…is thus the more likely possibility.”
L’Haan nodded. “That is my conclusion as well.”
Cole cleared his throat. “If I may…this is all very interesting, but I don’t see any reason for us to discuss this. Why does it concern us?”
Sorak raised an eyebrow in the man’s direction, as if to indicate that the answer should be painfully obvious to them all.
L’Haan resolved to spare him the need to explain it. “Because Captain Dax has proven—particularly with this incident—a willingness to defy the moralists, and do what she deems necessary for the security of the Federation.”
Cole apparently was not convinced. “From what I have heard, L’Haan, this woman strikes me as one
of those ‘moralists’. You forget…for a time, she served alongside Dr. Julian Bashir. The two were quite close, as I recall. She assisted him on the Sindorin mission. Doubtless she’d be alongside him again, in his universal condemnation of the likes of us.”
L’Haan nodded. “Perhaps…but nonetheless, she has assisted us in the recent retrieval of the slipstream drive—from the Confederacy.”
“She wasn’t aware of our involvement, any more than Bashir was.”
“No…she wasn’t. However—you may recall she prevented the escape of the Breen nationals involved, allowing them to be destroyed along with the facility in question. She understood the need for there to have been no witnesses—regardless of the moral implications involved.”
“Frankly, L’Haan, I don’t see your point in all this.”
“The point is,” Sorak replied, “Captain Dax is a necessary asset to the security of the Federation. She has consistently proven herself to be so…and it would not do well for us to allow such an asset to be wasted so thoroughly in the name of…‘accommodation’.”
Zeitsev, who had been watching this debate with the others in silence, finally spoke. “Assuming, of course…that she is
All turned to him.
L’Haan frowned. “What do you mean?”
“Simply…that if she is
as guilty as the Confederacy claims –then she’s proven herself to have become a most—unstable element. If such an element is allowed to continue to
disrupt the stability of the quadrants…” he shrugged.
“As Director Cole has indicated,” Sorak replied, “She is far too…moral…to engage in such reckless antics.”
“Perhaps…perhaps not. But we can’t afford to make assumptions until we have the necessary information. We need to investigate the evidence as thoroughly as we can—and in the meantime, analyze the proceedings as they happen, to see how the Council will rule.”
L’Haan nodded. “That is logical…. I agree.”
Sorak nodded, as well. The others followed suit.
When all were agreed, L’Haan continued, “We must reconvene here, as the hearing progresses.”
Sorak nodded. “My division will analyze what little wreckage there is from the Breen vessel…as well as the scans conducted by the Aventine
, and any other evidence relating to the incident.”
Zeitsev continued, “My division, of course, will be unable to take part in this investigation, aside from analyzing the Klingon response.”
L’Haan nodded to both men. “Agreed. Any other directors are similarly freed from obligation to take part in this mission, in case of differing assignments. Are there any further words?”
There were none.
“Then this will be a joint mission between Divisions Two and Seven. Sorak and I will reconvene here in two days. Agreed?”
That was accepted as reasonable.
“Very well. For the Federation.”
“For the Federation,” the others responded, and all rose, to return to their vessels, and to their divisions.
All except for Sorak, who lingered, staring intently at L’Haan. The look in his eyes was clear: I should like to have a word with you.
L’Haan gave a subtle nod, and remained as well, as the other directors were transported away. When they were alone, she asked, “What is it, Director?”
Sorak was an older Vulcan than she—and it was clear of that, as his graying hair attested to. But in no sense did his age diminish his vigor, his strength. And that strength was currently manifested in his eyes, as they focused on her…staring deeply into her own. “Director L’Haan…I presume you intend to monitor the hearing?”
“I recommend you take care to pay…close attention to Captain Dax.”
“Obviously, I intend to do so—”
“If I may…perhaps a personal liaison would be sufficient for our purposes.”
“I do not comprehend your meaning, Sorak.”
Sorak stepped towards her, stopping approximately one-point-four meters away. “I understand you are attempting to resume the Bureau’s association with Dr. Julian Bashir.”
Show no reaction…give him no visual answer.
“Do not worry, L’Haan—there is no need to give me an official answer. I already know. My division has made it a point not
to…abandon the good doctor as thoroughly as we could have. Frankly, Director…you presume much, to think that you
can succeed where my predecessor had allegedly failed.”
“Accepting the premise that your assertion is correct…”
“I admit however—it is a most fascinating scheme, to approach him with a more…romantic method. And indeed, who better to carry this out…than a former ‘flame’, as the humans say?”
“Sorak…again, I fail to comprehend your meaning.”
“I would be most astonished if it worked, of course.”
“You doubt it would?”
It looked as if the faintest hint of a patronizing smile was on the man’s face. “L’Haan…you are treading on what humans refer to as…‘shaky ground’. I must inform you that my division has already attempted this sort of method on him—not with a past love, of course, but—we did
appeal to his heart, with a most…remarkable young agent.”
“Yes. And unlike you…we ensured that it would make no difference to the mission at hand, whether he deduced the girl’s true loyalties or not.”
“I assume he did find out.”
“Of course he did! I would strongly recommend you take great pains not
to underestimate his intelligence, L’Haan.” Sorak’s voice turned dark. “If you do…you will
“Are you questioning my activities, Sorak—or my ability to carry them out?”
“Neither. I am simply advising you to accept the possibility that Miss Douglass will be similarly…exposed, as far as he is concerned. As soon as possible, mind you.”
“Assuming I am attempting what you claim.”
L’Haan gave a light sigh. “You were about to advise me…on Dax?”
“Yes—assuming Miss Douglass is
assigned to be a liaison to Dr. Bashir…I recommend you have her accompany him to the hearing.”
She frowned. “Oh? I was not aware the doctor will be attending.”
“You will doubtless hear of it from Miss Douglass soon enough.” Sorak leaned forward slightly. “You are aware, of course, of the doctor’s previous…relationship
with Ezri Dax?”
L’Haan once again reminded herself to retain her control. She did not
know this—an unusual occurrence…but then, her
division had only recently taken to the recruitment of Bashir. “Quite close” indeed
The memory stuck her of the Breen mission. How long had Dax and Bashir interacted on the Aventine
? If they truly were…close…than Sorak was right to be concerned about Douglass’s assignment. If Dax still possessed such emotions for the doctor, her jealousy could lead to immense suspicion on her part, and—if she were allowed to interact with the doctor for a long enough period…
Retain your control. This must not affect your actions in regards to the hearing.
“What of it?” she replied.
“Dr. Bashir will almost certainly make sure to visit the captain in her cell. If Douglass is as enhanced as he is—and indeed, I have heard that she is more capable than even he—you could do worse
than to have her accompany him, analyze Dax, and deduce the captain’s innocence or guilt thereof.”
Logical…but again, there was the jealousy factor. Sarina Douglass would have to take great care. Of course…she was trained to.
L’Haan raised an eyebrow. “Again…if
I were having one of my agents undertake such an assignment with Dr. Bashir…I would give your advice serious and full consideration.”
Sorak nodded. “That is all I ask. Thank you, Director.”
“Of course, Director.”
They went their separate ways. L’Haan knew she would do as Sorak advised—logic would demand nothing less. Still…this unfortunate news indicated that Dax could well become a catalyst for the doctor unveiling Douglass’s true assignment. She could not
allow that to happen.
For the first time…Director L’Haan found herself toying with the wish that the Council would find Captain Ezri Dax…guilty.
* * *