And now...one of the big, central portions of the tale. After this, I'll wait a bit to post the next one. It's a very complex chapter, with a lot of material to chew on, as it were.
Near the end, Ezri reflects on the events on Rough Beasts of Empire
, concerning the late, lamented Empress Donatra--who, remember, developed a friendly working relationship with Ezri in A Singlular Destiny
--which I referred to in my "Rendezvous With Destiny". Ezri reflects a bit on those events, too.
Special thanks to Nerys Ghemor
, who beta-read part of this chapter.
Fans of 24
may recognize in the first sequence of the chapter an homage of sorts to a beautiful scene between Jack and a young FBI agent in the beginning of Season 7. That scene drove me to tears, to be honest--especially when Jack is himself driven to tears of gratitude...and I felt a real need to have Ezri go through something like that, in this tale.
Star Trek: Aventine
Our Sacred Honor
The second day of the hearing had been straightforward and orderly—too orderly, Ezri mused, considering the debacles the day before. Helkara, Kedair, Leishman, Mirren, and all the rest were questioned. Everyone answered truthfully and clearly—they knew she’d have wanted nothing less. And of course…they all supported her, as Sam and Simon had.
For once, Councilman Gleer’s questioning was proper and civil, simply asking questions of fact, concerning the roles of each officer during the incident. Ezri remembered Sam’s suspicions, which he’d expressed the night before, after his being grilled by the Tellarite. Was Gleer simply saving the full force of his wrath for her?
She had no idea…but she knew she’d have to prepare herself for it, nevertheless.
When the day’s session was over, she was brought back to her cell by the team of security officers, just like before. But at the force field, they paused, without deactivating it for her.
One of them—a young dark-haired man, about a head taller than her—turned to her, and for a moment, his discipline seemed to lessen. “Captain…”
Ezri looked up at him, concerned. “Yes, Lieutenant?”
“I…think I speak for all of us, sir—I can’t tell you how much we hate all this.”
Ezri frowned. “Hate what?”
“Escorting someone—someone like you…like this. As a prisoner. It’s—”
But before she could hear from someone, for what felt like the millionth time already, how “wrong” this whole thing was…Ezri held up her hand, letting out a mild sigh. “It’s all right, Lieutenant…. I don’t hold it against you—any of you. You’re doing what you have to—like we all do.”
Ezri held out her hands, and he deactivated the cuffs, as one of his men turned off the force field.
Before she stepped through, she turned to the first man once again. “By the way…what’s your name, Lieutenant?”
She felt a smile. “What’s your first
The man paused for a moment, but said, “John, sir.”
Ezri thought for a moment, and asked, “John, did you, by any chance…help fight against the Borg fleet, when it neared Earth?”
He smirked. “Heck yes, Captain.”
The others nodded, most with similar smiles of pride and patriotism.
Ezri’s gaze fell for a moment, but she turned back to him, and asked, “Do you have a family, John?”
“I do, Captain.”
Her smile grew. “How old are they?”
“My son’s five…my daughter’s two.”
Ezri sighed again, and stepped forward to him, resting a hand on his arm. “Well…I guess you could say I’m going through all this for them—so they’ll be safe. So that…they won’t have to go through another war—not knowing whether their father’s going to come back again, alive.”
John Myers stiffened a bit, and it looked like his lip was fighting a quiver.
Ezri tightened her hold, looking deep into his eyes. “You understand that, don’t you?”
“I—suppose so, Captain.”
She nodded. “Okay,” she whispered, releasing him, lowering her hand. But Myers wasn’t through.
“That doesn’t make what they’re doing right
, sir—not after all you’ve done for the rest of us.” He swallowed for a moment, and added. “And…we’re certainly not the only ones who think that way.”
Ezri said nothing.
Another guard—a sandy-haired man, a little shorter than his superior, offered, “It’s true, sir. Everyone at Command’s talking about this. We support you, sir. We all
Ezri felt her eyes well up in tears. She blinked them back, and managed to whisper, “Thank you.”
They stood there in silent respect for her, waiting. Ezri turned, and walked back into her cell, hearing the force field come on behind her.
She turned back to look at them again…and she could see a look of guilt on the man who’d entered the command.
Ezri knew she couldn’t have that…and so, she spoke up, “I don’t hold any of you responsible—any
of you. Don’t feel guilty about this—it’s your duty, nothing less, nothing more. You’re following orders. I’d blame you for disobeying
them—not for this.”
They nodded, but Ezri knew it didn’t get rid of what they felt. Still…she knew it was something they had to hear. She continued:
“Now, whatever happens, I want you to continue with your duties—wherever they lead you. Don’t get any ideas into your heads about breaking me out, or anything similar. Whatever happens, will have happened for a reason. I may not understand it—but I’ll accept it. And I expect you all to do the same. Am I clear?”
After a moment’s hesitation, Myers spoke up. “Understood, sir.”
Ezri nodded. “Carry on, gentlemen.”
“Aye, sir.” They turned as one, and left, returning to the security office.
Ezri sighed once more, sitting down on the bench. I really hope that dissuades them from trying anything
For the next few hours, she sat in the cell, occasionally getting up to walk around. The speaker on one of the walls was tuned in to the FNS frequency. She felt a smile come to her face as she heard Jake Sisko report on the latest from the hearings.
She found herself remembering when she—Ezri—had first met him…and how tall he’d been, and how short she’d looked, and felt, next to him. She also remembered how he’d tried to comfort her a bit, those first few days, as she travelled with him and Ben, and Ben’s father, to Tyree—and how Jake’s interactions often bordered on flirtation…although she’d been too nervous and, frankly, innocent to have realized it at the time.
Now…it was amazing how much he’d grown, as a person. Now, he was something of a freelance reporter for FNS, working on a when-and-if-available basis.
If he’s in Paris right now…I wonder, what are the odds that he’ll request an interview?
Ezri shook her head. No…it’d probably be considered a conflict of interest. I’m a friend of his father’s, for goodness sake!
Still…she would have liked to meet with him, if only to check up on old friends…ask how his father was doing, and about his wife Korena, that sort of thing.
After the broadcast was over, Ezri pressed a control—the device was designed only for non-interactive channels, and would detect any tampering whatsoever, hence its location inside
the cell. She welcomed it—she wanted to hear what the many pundits and commentators were saying.
There was a radical on one frequency who was accusing her, in a tone of uncompromising righteous indignation, of being a morally bankrupt “fascist”—a word she doubted he even knew the meaning of—who had let her fame and glory get to her head, and who’d thought she could get away with whatever she wanted to. The nutcase was becoming so verbally abrasive—smearing not only her, but all of Starfleet—that Ezri had to keep herself from pounding the control, when she switched channels. I wonder how many people actually listen to that—let alone believe it
, she thought with disgust.
The commentator on the next frequency was more sympathetic—a lot
more! In fact, she was taking Gleer and his political allies in the Council to task for being a “blame-the-Federation-first crowd” that hated the UFP’s former greatness and wanted to “apologize” to its enemies, and make amends to them by cutting it down to size. She accused them of wanting to take down Ezri Dax because
of her service, and her devotion to “the ideals we once stood for”.
Though she didn’t exactly disagree with the sentiment or the message, Ezri often found herself smiling with amusement at the commentator’s antics. So it’s all because they can’t stand that I’m a patriot? I’m flattered, but…I wouldn’t say it’s
There were a few other frequencies devoted to commentary, and they all ranged between the first two in fervor and ideology. Fortunately, while there was some criticism of Ezri’s actions, none of it reached the vitriol of the radical. Most, however, were generally supportive of her, and her actions.
One speaker made an eloquent case for the need for honor and common sense in times like these, and how the citizens of the Federation must always be sure to support “our brave souls in uniform”, and not to despise them and smear them for doing what they have to do. He asked those listening what kind of a nation would do such a thing—giving hostile powers the benefit of the doubt, while refusing to extend the same courtesy to those who put their lives on the line for freedom, and justice.
He seemed to be a religious man, asking his listeners—almost pleading with them—to pray for those serving the Federation, and for Ezri Dax, that she’d have the strength she needed to face this trial, and to overcome it—and that she’d be allowed to continue to serve with the honor and dignity which had made her the heroine she was in the eyes of the people.
Ezri found herself blinking back tears at this…and silently wishing she could contact this man somehow, and thank him, and whoever listened to him, for believing in her like that.
When the man was done, there was a broadcast of a song Ezri recognized, and cherished:
Hail, Columbia, happy land!
Hail, ye heroes, heaven-born band!
Who fought and bled in freedom’s cause—
Who fought and bled in freedom’s cause—
And when the storm of war was gone
Enjoyed the peace your valor won…
As it went on, Ezri listened in silence. She remembered when Admiral Janice Rand, her mentor and friend from the Academy, had taught that song and many others to her. She always loves these songs, for their powerful simplicity, their stirring melodies…and their message of the universal longing for peace and honor in freedom—and of respect for those heroes and leaders who would fight to realize that desire, and keep it worth fighting for.
When the song finished, she switched back to FNS, and turned off the console.
Ezri sat down in silence for a long time…thinking about what Spock had said, on that remote planet somewhere in Donatra’s space—back before the Empress had been duped by Tal’Aura…had been lured to Romulus, and captured, and—
Ezri sighed, shaking her head. There I go—I thought I’d stopped doing that, distracting myself with other things
…Spock had said she, Ezri Dax, was an inspiration, that her life story—a reluctant heroine, who had never asked for what was forced upon her, from the Dax symbiont to her captaincy, but had had “greatness thrust upon her”—had touched the hearts of many…and that she had become an example to them.
And a few days ago…she’d felt him again, not rebuking her for any abandonment of her duty to those who looked up to her—but encouraging her to press on in this trial.
She’d told the guards a few hours ago that all this was happening for a reason. What reason?
she now found herself asking. What could come from all of this?
A possible answer came to her: Most of those voices you listened to, just now…they supported you, and condemned those who accused you. Could it be that you’re to be a martyr—and become the catalyst for these people rising up, and changing things in your name?
A quote came to her…something she remembered from Earth history—United States history:
“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”
Ezri froze, unsure of where these thoughts were leading her. I just told those guards
not to go revolt. I can’t ask the people to do that sort of thing, either—and I don’t want to.
And yet…perhaps the point is, my conviction would cause the entire Federation to…to soul-search, and fix the problems that led to this.
She felt a small smile. To be honest…I’d rather it not require me to go through all that.
After all…couldn’t change, and reform, happen without that kind of example…or was it needed to shake the people out of apathy?
Ezri’s thoughts turned once again to Empress Donatra—and this time, with good reason. She’d become acquainted with the empress in the events leading up to the Typhon Pact—and the two of them had become…well, not full-fledged friends
better than what happened to her. A lot more. She was going to accept Spock, and his movement, to protect them—and then, to be framed for trying to
kill him and—
She shook her head. That was the past. In fact…it might have been all for the best. Spock had nothing to fear anymore—by the purest good fortune, Tal’Aura had also died, and her successor was a noted supported of peace with the Federation. As a result, the persecution against the Unification movement was officially over.
A tragedy had happened—a good person, who had led many of her people, with honor and decency…had been sacrificed—and from that, something amazing had happened. It was almost as if…Donatra had had
to die, so that the universe would be changed for the better.
But…but does it
have to be like that? Can’t great things happen in the universe without needing something terrible like that to happen?
She rubbed her forehead, shaking her head. She certainly had no intention of dying. And she certainly had no intention of letting herself get convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, either. If only there was another option—something to open the Federation’s eyes, without any real cost, to her or to the Federation.
If only there was some way…something I could do
* * *