Okay--now for the last chapter for this week. Monday will see a series of chapters that go together. SO--we cut to President Bacco.
A quick note: when I was first writing this story, Rough Beasts Of Empire
had not yet come out. Originally, the Pact members Ezri was getting grief from was the Romulan
Empire. Obviously, with the book's publication, I had to re-write a lot. One of the changes: When Sorak noted the killing of the civilians and subsequent use of their identites (he noted that it was a Tal Shiar operation), L'Haan had, after musing, Such...brutality
, she reflected on how disquieting it was that their "cousins" from Romulus could do something so savage.
Anyway--the original version of the following chapter involved Empress Donatra. Obviously...that had to be changed, and her dialogue had had to be re-written to fit Ambassador Spock. Ah, the turmoils of continuity....
Star Trek: Aventine
Our Sacred Honor
Nan Bacco sat in the presidential office, wishing there was something she could do—something to end this mindless charade of a hearing.
She sighed, rising from her chair, stepping to the window. She looked out at the Parisian skyline, taking in all the sights.
There was the Eiffel Tower—the famous relic of the Industrial Revolution. There was the Notre Dame cathedral—the mighty, awe-inspiring work of Gothic beauty. The first structure, a monument to human progress and innovation—the second, a monument to the majesty and power of faith, and “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence”, as one of her historical heroes wrote.
Bacco wasn’t exactly a faithful “born-again” zealot…but she nonetheless understood the power and appeal of seeking a higher power—the appeal to heaven, to affect one’s fate for the better. She recalled having some good conversations on that, with a delegation from Bajor.
And so, she closed her eyes, her thoughts and feelings sincere. Please…don’t let this woman be burned at the stake like this. If there’s any justice in the universe—
don’t let it be denied to her.
The intercom came on. “Madame President?”
Bacco sighed, and turned. “Yes, what is it?”
“You have incoming transmissions from Chancellor Martok and Ambassador Spock—holocom, priority channel.”
Bacco stiffened. She had a pretty good idea what these two had to say. She walked over to the front of her desk, to be seen completely by two allies in this cruel universe. “Patch it through.”
“Yes, Madame President. Commencing…now.
Two life-size three-dimensional images appeared before her. To the right was Martok, chancellor of the Klingon Empire. Tall, strong, with a bearing defining the words “powerful” and “imposing”, he bore the scars of many battles, many wars—not the least of which had been his internment in a Dominion stronghold, which had resulted in a missing eye, a solemn reminder of a battle won…yet a battle lost.
Bacco remembered how Martok had broken protocol completely and endorsed her—well, not really “endorsed”, just made it painfully clear whom he supported—for president. It was only natural, considering how her opponent, Arafel Pagro, had been a quasi-isolationist who’d engaged in defamation of the Empire which often bordered on slander. Bacco remembered with an inner smile how she’d laid down the law on Pagro in their only debate, pointing out that under Martok, the Empire had begun to engage in an extensive series of reforms, not the least of which involved the treatment of races under its domain.
To the left stood a figure out of legend—Spock, ambassador of the Federation—and now, head of the newly-legitimized Unification movement in the Romulan Star Empire. Bacco knew of the recent death of Tal’Aura, and the rise to power of a new Praetor, Gell Kamemor—who had been for much of her long and illustrious career an advocate of a peace between the Romulans, the Klingons, and the Federation. Thus, it was no surprise that upon her assuming power, Kamemor had accepted Spock’s movement as legit, ending the long period of persecution escalated by her predecessor.
Frankly, Bacco was more astonished that the new Senate had chosen her
to be the new Praetor. It seemed like a most radical change in politics. Not that she was complaining, but still
Spock looked a bit drained—and Bacco didn’t blame him. She knew of the ambassador’s secret negotiations with the late, lamented Empress Donatra, to secure safe haven for the members of his movement from Tal’Aura. Officially, Donatra had claimed to denounce the Movement. Unofficially…well, at the very least, she’d welcomed what was clearly a further threat to the power of Praetor Tal’Aura.
But then—something had apparently happened, which both the ambassador and the empress had been extremely tight-lipped about—something which had caused the negotiation to fall to pieces…and from what Bacco had heard, had led Spock to suspect that Donatra had been behind the attempt on his life, in the events leading up to Donatra’s arrest and suicide—and Tal’Aura’s own death. The ambassador had discovered too late that he’d been duped—probably by Tal’Aura—into becoming an unwitting pawn in an attempt to re-absorb the Imperial Romulan State into the Praetor’s domain.
So many things these days,
Bacco mused, just don’t make sense.
Driving the thoughts from her mind, she smiled and began, “Chancellor…Ambassador… what can I do for you?”
Martok spoke up, in a reserved, yet challenging tone. “You can explain yourselves, Madam President.”
Bacco blinked. “I assume you’re referring to the hearings concerning—”
“What else? I never thought the Federation would be so…
disgraceful—until four days ago, when I was informed of this great lump of
“Chancellor, before you go on,” Bacco interrupted, biting her lip, “It may interest you—both of you—to know that I feel the same way about this.”
“If I may be so bold, Madam President,”
Spock spoke up, “The Council appears to feel otherwise.”
“I’m aware of that—which is why my hands are tied. I can’t dismiss this if the Council feels led to continue—and it does.”
Spock frowned at this. “Perhaps. But to be frank, Madam President…I find it most fascinating that they would succumb to the wishes of a hostile power so easily.”
Bacco sighed. “As do I. But Ambassador, you must understand…we don’t have the luxury of having been formally declared an enemy of the Pact. Unless and until that happens—”
said Martok, “That hardly prevents
me from giving my opinion on those treacherous
,” Bacco spoke up, “You must also
understand that the Federation is still recovering from the Borg. We were hit by it a lot harder than you were—and to be honest, while you
may have a strong enough defense to back up such a posture, we
I hope I didn’t just sound desperate
“With all respect, Madam President,”
Spock replied, “I trust this does not imply you are defending such…smear-mongering.”
“I’m not ‘defending’ anything. I firmly believe that Ezri Dax is innocent, and—”
“You don’t seem to be
acting on that belief,”
Bacco mentally counted to ten. “Chancellor…If I could, I would
. Few understand more than me how much Dax means to the Federation. We all owe her our lives. But—if the Council decides that the Confederacy’s claims are valid…I have no choice but to stand there, numb my conscience, look that girl right in the eye—and pronounce her guilty
After a minute of silence at this, Martok spoke in a measured tone. “That ‘girl’…is a member of the House of Martok, Madame President. Understand, she is,”
he let out a small sigh, “almost like a daughter.”
Spock raised an eyebrow at this. “Indeed?”
Martok gave a smirk. “Her predecessor was married to…an adopted brother—former-Ambassador Worf.”
Spock nodded. “Fascinating
Bacco had to fight not to sigh. This just keeps getting better and better
Martok let out a deep, throaty laugh. “Absolutely! It was
his idea that I accept Ezri Dax, on the grounds that she was a worthy successor to Jadzia.
I would say that was an understatement. To call her an ‘honorable woman’ would not give her enough credit.”
Bacco nodded. “I understand, Chancellor.”
Martok’s gaze turned firm, his tone serious. “See that you
do. And I would advise you to inform the Council: If Ezri Dax is convicted—I will
personally take it as…a great insult to the honor of my House.”
Bacco felt a smile. “Thank you, Chancellor. I’ll be sure to pass that on.”
“Very good, Madame President. Now, if the two of you will excuse me, I have other matters to take care of.”
Bacco nodded. “Of course, Chancellor.”
Martok returned the nod, and raised his fist to his heart in the Klingon salute. “Madam President…may you succeed in your battles with the treacherous within your borders.”
Bacco smiled, and returned the salute. “Thank you, Chancellor.”
Martok acknowledged Spock. “Ambassador
Spock nodded. “Chancellor
The Klingon returned the nod, and his image disappeared.
Bacco turned to the Vulcan. “Ambassador…I take it you feel the same way?”
“I do, Madame President. I myself have become acquainted with Captain Dax. I would not wish to be deprived of such a…”
Bacco smiled. “…friendship?”
Spock nodded. “Yes. She is a most…remarkable person. Were I not on Romulus—I would address the Council on her behalf.”
“Well…I’m sure she’d be pleased to know she has your support, either way.”
“Of course. Perhaps you could pass my feelings on this to the Council, along with the Chancellor’s?”
Bacco nodded. “I will. But I’m not convinced it’ll have any effect.”
“In the Chancellor’s case, I’m sure this could be interpreted as…battle lines being drawn.”
Spock nodded slowly. “I see.”
“I’d rather it not come to that. As I told Martok…we don’t have the resources for a war.”
“In the event of a war, Madam President…you will clearly have the support of the Chancellor. Furthermore, I believe I am fully capable of negotiating an alliance with the Praetor, to a similar effect.”
Bacco chuckled. “Well, I don’t doubt it…but honestly—you two are at the wrong end of us. If the Breen make good on their threats, the Tholians will doubtless decide to assist. The Cardassians are in little better shape than we are. And…the Ferengi…”
Spock raised an eyebrow in apparent amusement. “I see. Nonetheless…one might call this scenario most…shameful, for the Council to be willing to sacrifice the Captain in this manner.”
“Well, as Vulcans say, ‘The needs of the many…’.”
Spock’s lip seemed to tighten. “Madam President…that adage is defined as expressing the necessity of
personal sacrifice—not suppression of the rights of the individual.”
Bacco spread out her hands. “I know…but as I said, my hands are tied. I…I’m sorry, Ambassador.”
“Madame President, it is…illogical to apologize for actions for which you have no responsibility. I do not hold you responsible, should the Captain be pronounced guilty.”
Bacco shook her head. “Ambassador—if there’s a way out of this, I’ll take it. I promise you.”
“Of course, Madame President. Live long, and prosper.”
“Peace and long life, Ambassador.”
Spock’s image vanished.
Bacco sighed, rubbing her forehead. Curse those Borg, anyway—and the Tholians, while we’re at it, for joining this Bird-forsaken “Pact”, and causing it to surround us on all sides. What was their excuse? Oh yes—we didn’t ask them for help against the Borg. Sure—let’s not bring up that they weren’t
available for help against the Borg.
And the Gorn—of all people. All those years of my
life, building a trust with them—and guess what? It all turns out to be for
nothing! They’re a Pact of back-stabbing
one of them.
And those back-stabbing hypocrites had the Council on a leash—or Gleer’s wing of the Council, at the very least. And I’m almost afraid to discover exactly
how powerful he is—which I doubtless will, when this hearing ends