OKAY--for most of this week, what many readers have been waiting for since story's beginning--the recounting of the events leading to poor Ezri's current predicament....
BTW--naturally, Ezri's not giving reports to T'Latrek on her inner thoughts, etc. As far as the Council's concerned, "Just the facts, ma'am."
Star Trek: Aventine
Our Sacred Honor
“Bridge to Captain Dax.”
Ezri Dax blinked, roused from the daze of a half-sleep. She looked down at the reports she was reading—or, had been reading before dozing off.
She sighed, setting the reports aside, on her table in her quarters. She spoke up, “Dax here.”
“Captain—you have an incoming transmission from Earth. Code 47.”
Ezri straightened up, all weariness vanishing upon hearing that last phrase. Code 47—the most secure channel in Starfleet, traditionally meant for the captain’s eyes only—although there were often exceptions.
In this case, the tradition held.
“Patch it through to my quarters.”
“Right away, Captain.”
The console on the desk activated, the seal of the Federation appearing on the screen. The computer gave the mandatory instructions. Ezri gave the appropriate code…and the seal disappeared—
And was replaced by the familiar face of Nanietta Bacco, President of the United Federation of Planets.
Ezri straightened up even more. “Madam President!”
Bacco gave a small smirk. “At ease, Captain. You’re going to need it.”
Ezri nodded, and relaxed a bit.
The President paused for a moment, and asked, “How’s everything on the western front?”
Ezri blinked. Code 47 wasn’t used for small talk. The President knew that. So…?
Well, she’d probably explain in time. “Um…all quiet, ma’am.”
“Well…that’s good to know. Let’s hope it stays that way.”
“If…I may ask…”
“Why the call?”
The president frowned, thinking for a moment. Finally, she asked, “Captain—how are you for border patrol?”
Ezri blinked again. “Ma’am?”
“I need you to do a favor for me. You’re to patrol the border of Breen space near Antos. Our presence there frankly isn’t what it should be.”
“You…suspect something, Madam President?”
“We’re not sure. It’s been surprisingly quiet over there—well,”
she smiled, “Considering…recent events, anyway.”
Ezri gave a quick nod, understanding full well what she was talking about
: the incident regarding the SI operation in Breen space—the incident involving herself and—
“To be blunt, Captain,”
Bacco went on, “It’s
too quiet. We need you over there, to be ready. I don’t know
what for—so don’t ask.”
Ezri smiled. “Of course. But…Madam President, with all respect—?”
“Why call you personally—on
Bacco gave a small smile of her own…which faded, as she let out a tired sigh. “Captain…like I said, we’re spread out a little thin. Heaven knows, the fleet’s not back up to specs, yet. But you know as well as I do, that the last thing we need is for the Pact to know just how bad it is. Got that?”
Ezri swallowed. “I do. But, Madam President…”
“How…how bad is it?”
“Let’s just say, build-up is top priority for us, now—not that anyone needs to know. As far as everyone else is concerned, you did
not hear me say that.”
“Good. And Captain…like I said, this is important. We don’t need another Utopia Planetia, so be prepared for anything. Do what you have to do—but
keep out people safe. Clear?”
“As a bell, Madam President.”
“Thank you, Captain. We’re counting on you, back here. Good luck.”
“Thank you, Madam President.”
The screen turned black. Ezri leaned back in her chair, and sighed.
The calm before the storm—that’s what you’re afraid of, isn’t it, Madam President? Well…I guess—so am I.
And with that—she rose to her feet, and pressed the com panel. “Dax to Bridge.”
“Bowers here, Captain.”
“Sam—go to Yellow Alert. Call the senior staff to the observation lounge immediately. We have work to do.”
Ezri brushed her hair once with her hand, making sure it was more or less in place. And with that, she walked out—uncertain of the future ahead of her….
* * *
* * *
“A question, Captain,” T’Latrek spoke up. “You mentioned that the president gave you an explicit directive to, and I quote, ‘Do what you have to do, but keep our people safe.’ Is that correct?”
Ezri had to mentally will herself, with everything she had, to not glance at President Bacco—and she knew, without looking…that the president was doing the same.
“That’s right,” she managed to say.
“I would assume, Captain, that you did not construe such as an authorization—from the highest office in the Federation—to effectively disregard protocol and due process, were you to deem it necessary?”
Ezri did not bat an eye, as she shook her head. “No, Councilwoman—I did not. I would never, under any circumstances, twist the words of a superior in that way.”
“Under any circumstances?”
“No. I could never, in good conscience, put said superior in a compromising position like that—least of all my president.”
“Thank you, Captain. You may resume.”
Ezri nodded, relieved. “Thank you, Councilwoman….”
* * *