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Old June 5 2012, 01:25 PM   #32
Rush Limborg
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Re: Star Trek: Our Sacred Honor--A Tale Of Captain Ezri Dax

Yet another FNS News Update! Following...more from The Bureau....


Star Trek: Aventine
Our Sacred Honor
Chapter 8




This is an FNS Special Report:

“Greetings, everyone, I’m Verna Talkon, with our regular report on the Council hearings, which we are also broadcasting live on this network as they occur. Here for the latest, Jake Sisko. Jake?”

“Thank you, Verna. A very tense hearing, today, as Council members questioned the Chief Medical Officer and First Officer of the Aventine, respectfully. Dr. Simon Tarses was questioned about his duties as a ship’s doctor—specifically, his duty to determine and evaluate the command fitness of his captain. The questioning got a little heated when Bera chim Gleer, councilman from Tellar, made some very pointed challenges regarding Dr. Tarses’s career history—focusing on an incident on the U.S.S. Enterprise, in which it was revealed that he had deliberately covered up his Romulan heritage. Dr. Tarses replied, in no uncertain terms, that he was severely disciplined for his actions—focusing on the long aftermath, which he described as a period of public disgrace for him—and that the experience has taught him to hold himself to the highest standards of honesty and integrity.

“Councilman Gleer also challenged Commander Samaritan Bowers, when the first officer of the Aventine was being questioned in regards to his own duties as, quote, a ‘devil’s advocate’, unquote. The commander had been questioned by Councilwoman T’Latrek of Vulcan as to whether the Rules of Engagement and Interstellar Law were being observed in the incident in question. After answering in the affirmative, Cmdr. Bowers was then challenged by Gleer as to which options had been explored. The Councilman eventually accused the commander and Captain Dax as thinking that they were above the law—and finally received a warning from President Bacco, for badgering the witness and injecting rhetoric in the questioning.

“Tomorrow morning, the hearings will resume. Various members of the Aventine senior staff will be questioned over the next two days, and reports will be read on the Council floor concerning the response from the Typhon Pact. Captain Dax is expected to take the stand the following day. Jake Sisko, FNS News, Paris.”

“Thank you, Jake. And we’ll continue to give you regular updates, as the news unfolds, and to broadcast the hearings live. This…is FNS News….


* * *


L’Haan stood, looking through one of the “windows” of the conference station of Section 31. It was not a true window, per se, so much as a viewscreen, projecting what was seen by the visual sensors (which humans often persisted in referring to as “cameras”) placed around the outer hull. The effect was the same, without sacrificing the strength of the plating.

She reflected on the hearings of the past two days. The first day consisted solely of questioning the ship’s doctor and first officer of the Aventine…as the questioning, naturally, was most extensive for them. The second day saw the questioning of the remnant of the senior staff.

All of them stood by the actions of Captain Dax. All believed her to be innocent of the charges brought against her.

L’Haan had seen the records of the incident, as the Council had. And indeed—logically, the theory proposed by Commander Bowers was sound—far more than the claims of the Breen Confederacy.

So why, then, did she feel an immense reluctance to declare the Trill “not guilty” in her own mind…and take action to that effect?

The most obvious answer would concern the report she had received from Sarina Douglass. Sorak’s assessment had been correct—Dr. Bashir intended fully to attend the hearing of his former beloved—and to arrive in Paris two days before she was to speak.

That would be this very night.

L’Haan had ordered Douglass to go with him—and was unsurprised to learn that she had intended to do so anyway. Of course, Sarina Douglass had been ordered to remain as close to the doctor as possible, for the entirety of her assignment—to go where he would go.

L’Haan told herself—logically—that she was merely seeking to gain whatever confirmation would present itself, including whatever Miss Douglass would read from the captain herself.

Of course, it would be illogical to discount an ulterior motive on her own part—despite her Vulcan lineage. She, of course, had no desire whatsoever to see Douglass’s assignment be hindered by a “triangle”. Therefore, L’Haan had ordered the girl to also watch for any signs indicating the extent of the feelings between Dax and Bashir.

Douglass had informed her that, in the mission on the Aventine, the doctor had apparently exchanged harsh words with Dax. An emotional being would have accepted this as a positive sign—that the two did want to have anything to do with one another.

But that would contradict the doctor’s current actions. And frankly, L’Haan had a more rational comprehension of the behavior of more emotional races…and such nonsensical rage, she knew, tended to convey enormous tension concerning a deeper emotion, buried with immense reluctance and internal conflict, which would therefore boil into frustration.

Whichever possibility it was—contempt or subconscious desire—Douglass would have to analyze them both, to ascertain the risk to her assignment.

“Director L’Haan?”

She turned to see the elder Vulcan walking up to her. “Director Sorak.”

Sorak nodded. “I have ordered a comprehensive analysis of the Aventine’s scans of the Breen vessel—as well as what wreckage exists. The Corps of Engineers has been ordered to refrain from any activities thereof until the last day of the hearing.”

“By the Council, I presume?”

The hint of a patronizing smile again. “No. By us—under the cover of Starfleet Intelligence. It would not do to have them contaminate any potential evidence through their presence—particularly regarding what little there is at the site.”

“Of course…. What have you found?”

“I trust you are aware of the act of deceit the Klingons conducted during their brief conflict with the Federation, prior to the Dominion War—involving the accusing of then-Lieutenant Commander Worf, of…violating the Interstellar Rules of Engagement, and of attacking a civilian vessel?”

“Yes…and as I recall, the Klingons had used the false names of civilians already deceased, to cover that it was, indeed, a military craft. They had intended to—”

L’Haan cut herself off, as she understood.

Sorak nodded. “They had intended to gain accommodation from the Federation…by manipulating Worf to give the appearance of violating Interstellar Law—and then proclaiming their great hurt.”

“I presume, then, that the Breen are attempting something similar?”

“Yes…although, granted, they are far more subtle and clever about it—doubtless having learned from that incident. They did not choose the name of civilians already known to be dead—otherwise, a similar conclusion to the affair might have occurred. In this instance, they chose the identities of civilians which were, allegedly, still alive as of the incident, as well as separated from their families, for one reason or another.”

“Then how did you ascertain that these names are not the true identities of the crew?”

Sorak raised an eyebrow. “We have our methods, Director. Suffice it to say that, due in part to the previous...assignment your division undertook, we now have certain…contacts in the Confederacy.”

L’Haan felt her own eyebrow rise. “Fascinating.”

“Yes…it most certainly is. When we obtained the names of the alleged roster from the reports given to the Council…we proceeded to have our said contacts analyze the identities.”

“And?”

“You will be fascinated to learn that those civilians were secretly drafted by their government, for an apparent assignment. For the sake of duty to the homeland, they had no choice but to accept. When they were all gathered together in one place…they were executed.”

L’Haan stared at him in silence. Such…brutality.

Were she an emotional being, such a state would be called…shock. But logically, she was not surprised. Races such as the Breen were given in to violence, to achieve their ends. Nonetheless…

“I see,” was all she could say.

“It would seem, L’Haan, that the Confederacy wishes to go to great lengths to destroy Ezri Dax. There are many possible motives—the most likely being her actions in your assignment.”

“There were no witnesses left alive, Sorak—there was no one left to contradict the official story.”

“L’Haan…never underestimate the power of paranoid suspicion. And the Breen are nothing if not paranoid.”

L’Haan forced her frustration aside. “I see.”

“But whatever their motives may be…it is absolutely imperative that the Council acquit the captain of all charges, so as to foil the intentions of the Pact.”

“And how do you propose to ensure this, Sorak? You possess no proof of these intentions but the word of alleged contacts—contacts which must not be exposed. Even were we to disguise the information as coming from Starfleet Intelligence—the Council will not accept this without concrete evidence, lest the Typhon Pact, again, accuse the Federation of simply covering for its own, conjuring up a convenient theory to justify such an action.”

“I am aware of that. However…as we now possess the appropriate information, my division will proceed in its analyses with greater efficiency—namely, with the added certainty of knowing what to look for.”

“And may I ask what you are looking for?” L’Haan asked.

“I would not bother you with details—simply any indication that the crew of the vessel was not civilian. We are currently receiving most…promising results.”

“Nonetheless, many in the Council could well dismiss this as mere distraction. Whether the vessel was civilian or not is simply a matter of sympathy. The hearing is on whether Captain Dax violated the Rules of Engagement or not.”

“Of course,” Surak replied, “Hence, we are also seeking to validate this fascinating ‘kamikaze’ theory. However, the identities of the vessel’s crew could well have a bearing as to whether some of the charges against the captain might be dropped. For one, the charge of unauthorized destruction of civilian lives. For another, breach of the peace—that responsibility would be transferred to the Confederacy, and therefore the Pact itself.”

“Perhaps.”

“At the very least…should she be found guilty, the penalties would be far less severe.”

“Perhaps—but I believe you would agree that, with this knowledge of what is at stake, acquittal must remain our highest priority.”

Sorak nodded slowly. “Then…you agree that Dax must be acquitted?”

“I believe I have just answered the question.”

Sorak stepped forward. “Then I assume your conflict of interest is nullified for this mission?”

L’Haan raised an eyebrow. “My conflict of interest?”

“Assuming you are having Miss Douglass serve as your liaison to Dr. Bashir…it would only be logical that Captain Dax’s…past history would cause a possible distraction.”

Am I really this… effortless for him to read?

“I assure you, Sorak,” she replied, “I possess no conflicts of interest in regards to this mission.”

Sorak clearly did not believe her, but he apparently resolved not to press the matter. “Very well. How is your…analysis conducting?”

“It is proceeding as desired. Assuming Agent Douglass is being assigned as you say…I would have had her analyze the captain as you recommended—tonight.”

Sorak seemed to hesitate for a moment, and then replied, “About Miss Douglass: I am most…concerned regarding her.”

“In what way?”

“I have two reasons. First, you recall Director Cole’s recruitment of Dr. Locken—who was himself genetically enhanced. It ended in failure, as Cole failed to anticipate that Locken would systematically plan a betrayal, even amid his training.”

“And…you are concerned that Agent Douglass would do the same?”

“I am—albeit, for different motives.”

“Which motives?”

“That brings me to my second reason. Assuming, again, that you are using her as your liaison to Dr. Bashir…your plans could well backfire. By this I mean…rather than her turning him to our side…”

L’Haan raised an eyebrow. “Sorak…regardless of what assignment I have given her, I have made certain—with all necessary resources—to ensure that her loyalty to the Bureau is beyond question.”

“I am sure Director Cole assumed the same.”

L’Haan stiffened. “I do not believe you would accuse me of possessing the same level of competence—or lack thereof—as Director Cole?”

“I am simply concerned, L’Haan, that it was not, and is not, a question of ‘competence’. It is a question of learning from the mistakes of others. I warned you recently not to underestimate Bashir. I would advise you to heed a similar warning concerning Douglass.”

L’Haan invoked the mental disciplines to bury her frustrations at his intrusiveness. It was most disquieting that another director would presume to impose himself upon her division’s affairs. She chose her words carefully, to ensure that none of this would show, and replied, “Director Cole committed a significant amount of noticeable errors when recruiting and training Locken. I assure you…I have taken great pains to ensure that I would not make any similar errors.”

“Nonetheless—take care that she does not become too…attached to her assignment—and you had best be prepared and willing to recall her, should her situation become…problematic in any way.”

As difficult as Sorak’s words were to hear…nonetheless, they were logical. “I will take your advice under consideration,” L’Haan said.

Sorak nodded. “That is all, then?”

“It is. When should your analysis of the wreckage conclude?”

“I should expect sufficient progress to be made by tomorrow—the night prior to the captain’s taking the stand, I believe?”

“Correct. One day from now, then. For the Federation.”

“For the Federation,” he replied, and turned back to the transporter.


* * *
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