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Old July 4 2012, 03:44 AM   #72
Rush Limborg
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Re: Star Trek: Our Sacred Honor--A Tale Of Captain Ezri Dax

Now--the briefing!

A few notes: I couldn't resist giving a couple "sequels" to incidents from the Destiny trilogy. I figured, given Simon's loyalty to Ezri, he'd have had a few choice words for a certain security officer....

Also, Mikeala is quite the clown, in case you haven't noticed.

Star Trek: Aventine
Our Sacred Honor
Chapter 17

Captain Ezri Dax entered the conference room, nodding to all of her senior staff, already present: Commander Sam Bowers, her first officer; Doctor Simon Tarses, CMO; Lieutenant Commander Grun Helkara, second officer and science officer; Lieutenant Lonnoc Kedair, chief of security and tactical officer; Lieutenant Mikaela Leishman, chief engineer; and Lieutenant Oliana Mirren, chief of operations. Lieutenant Tharp—the chief conn officer—followed the captain until arriving at his own seat. Ezri intended him to also be present, for this briefing.

She waited until all had seated, before she walked over to the controls by the main screen. Ezri found the right coordinates, and entered the commands, as she began, “I have just received a communique from the president’s office. We’re to proceed to the border of Breen space, near Antos.”

The screen filled with a star chart of the area in question—the border, which Dax highlighted. All stared at it in silence, as she continued, “Our orders are to patrol this region, until further notice.”

“Do they suspect something, Captain?” Kedair asked.

Ezri turned to her. “Not directly. According to the president, the concern is that this section of the border has been too quiet. No incidents—no build-up—nothing.”

“The calm before the storm, then.”

Dax nodded. “Exactly.”

She noticed that Simon seemed to be watching the security chief. It was indiscreet—but Ezri’s former-counselor’s eye could pick it up. Not surprising—the doctor had been in Sickbay when Ezri had tried to console a nearly-broken Lonnoc, during the Borg invasion—and had been driven to near frustration by the latter’s stubborn unwillingness to get back on duty. Finally, Ezri had been forced to…well, (she smirked internally at herself, in bitter amusement at the memory) consciously use a few words she wasn’t particularly comfortable with, telling the Takarian to get back on duty now, or else. That had done the trick…but Kedair had, in an awkward attempt to lighten the mood of the situation, insulted Dax’s prior career as a counselor.

From what Ezri had heard, Simon—whose half-Vulcanoid hearing had picked up the incident—still hadn’t let the woman live that down. I need to talk to him about that—I’m flattered, but…this is bordering on protectiveness….

She resumed, “We need to monitor the region—make sure nothing gets through. I don’t need to tell you all of what might happen, if we fail.”

They all nodded, remembering well what had led to their previous assignment involving the Confederacy—the raid on Utopia Planetia, courtesy of that member of the Typhon Pact.

Not that the president had been able to get a confession, or even an acknowledgement, of that from the other side.
Dax turned to her chief engineer. “Lieutenant—”

She stopped short at the sight of Mikaela Leishman, unwrapping a candy bar and taking a nibble. Again.

Bowers saw it, and cleared his throat—loudly.

Leishman blinked, looking at the captain innocently. “Captain?”

Ezri sighed lightly, and resolved to not give the speech that had been simmering in the back of her mind for a long time: Mikaela…I don’t know whether you’ve noticed or not—but on a ship like this, we normally expect everyone to take their business seriously. And like it or not—that includes you. You are the chief engineer—you, of all people, are responsible for the well-being of the ship, and we can’t afford to have you constantly pushing everyone’s buttons, do you hear me? You are not, nor have you ever been, the ship’s clown. And if you doubt me, why don’t you hold a routine of your own—off duty—around one of those jam sessions we do—and see how everyone responds to your frankly overrated style of humor?

I’d personally pay to see that. And I’d think Sam would, too.

She didn’t say it. There’s a time and place for everything.

And so, she kept her composure, and said, “I need you to design and construct something—anything—to monitor the region. We can’t be in two places at once—so we need to be monitored of everything that happens, so we can respond as soon as possible.”

“You want a sensor grid, Captain?”

“Something like that. But it can’t be particularly noticeable—I don’t want the other side to complain about ‘Starfleet aggression’. Work with Helkara, Mirren, and Tharp—you’ll need all the help you can get.”

All three of those officers turned to the captain, with a tired “Must we?” in their eyes.

Ezri gave a subtle nod. She had nothing but sympathy for them. But clown or not, Mikaela was the best at what she did—in engineering matters, anyway. And for the most part…when she was working on something, she kept herself professional.

She went on, “Oliana, the moments it’s all set up, you and Tharp will monitor, and report on everything it picks up. If an asteroid floats through, I want to know about it.”

Mirren nodded. “You’ll get it, Captain.”

“Captain, if I may?” Bowers asked.

Ezri nodded. “Commander?”

“Am I to understand we’re on our own on this?”

She nodded again, “That’s right.”

All tensed at this—even Leishman. They all know what this meant—although, as the president herself had noted to Ezri…no one was to actually talk about it. The resources of the fleet were indeed that limited. Any build-up was being conducted behind closed doors—the doors of select starbases throughout the Federation. But again…no one was to discuss this. The last thing anyone needed was the Pact to twist news of it into propaganda on Federation “aggression”. Thus…only a few new starships were allowed to see the stars, let out as needed.

In the meantime, the actual numbers of starships composing the fleet were also kept secret—another “last thing” needed: the Pact aware of how crippled the Federation was.

I don’t envy the president’s job, Ezri mused. To have to balance all these things, all these priorities, to find the path of least resistance.

She clasped her hands behind her back. “I need everyone ready, and at their best. As of now, we’re on Yellow Alert. Dismissed.”

As they all rose to their feet, Ezri called out, “Commander—Doctor—a moment?”

The two men shared a glance of concern at this…and remained.

When all the others had left, Ezri sighed, as she walked over to her two friends. She gathered her thoughts, and began, “I…I don’t have to tell you both how much I depend on the two of you.”

The men nodded, frowning in concern, unsure as to her point.

Ezri looked off for a moment, seeking solace in the stars…and finding enough to meet their gaze, and continue. “Needless to say, a lot can depend on what we do, on this assignment.”

“Or what we don’t do,” Sam added—as if as an afterthought.

Ezri frowned. “You’re on to something, Commander?”

“Not really, Captain. Just…if this is the big calm, who knows what the storm’s going to look like.”

“Heck with that, Skip,” Simon put in. “You won’t have to worry about my end.”

Ezri smiled at the doctor’s affectionate nickname for her. “Thank you, Doctor,” she said, “I wouldn’t expect anything less. But…it’s not your end I’m worried about.”

“Captain?” Sam frowned.

Ezri shrugged, looking out the nearest window, again. Finally, she sighed, closing her eyes, allowing a dark memory to fill her mind—

In the Breen warship, dragged to a secluded room…where they probed her mind, digging deep into the deepest corners of her subconscious mind—all her knowledge, all her emotions laid bare before them—allowing nothing to remain sacred….

She opened her eyes, swallowing at the images of the past.

She heard Simon’s voice, “Captain—you all right?”

She turned to the two men. “I…well, I’m sure the two of you understand my…past experiences,” she muttered. “Involving the Breen, I mean.”

Simon’s eyes widened slightly. He knew what she meant. So did Sam, who stiffened a bit at her words. They knew—and they knew that neither of them could truly comprehend what it had been like—to have every single barrier of one’s mind broken down, until…

She drove away the memory of the pain—the trauma that had led her to drift in and out of consciousness for what had felt like an eternity…unaware of the mutterings she had made, and the revelation to Worf of—

She drove it all away, gathered herself, and went on: “I—want the two of you to make sure I don’t let that…affect me.”

Simon shook his head. “Skip—how long ago was that?”

Ezri smiled sadly at him. “Look, Simon…I would never consciously punish people for what other members of their race did—all right? But…I of all people should know—sometimes, we’re motivated by things without realizing it.”

Sam shook his head in astonishment. “You want us to keep an eye on you?”

“I want…” Ezri sighed, “I guess what I want is to prove to myself that whatever I do, on this assignment…it’s because I have to. Like you said, Commander…we don’t know what we’re going to meet, out there.”

“Well, to be honest, Captain—I’d think you’re mental state’s the last thing we should be worried about. We trust you, Ezri. We all do.”

Ezri’s smile returned. “Thanks, Sam…but all the same, this is important to me. And I trust both of you to—to know me enough to know what to look for.”

Simon nodded solemnly, and replied, “Don’t worry, Skip—we’ve got your back.”

Ezri returned the nod. “I know,” she said, in a near whisper.

She nodded to him, and to Sam. “That’ll be all, gentlemen,” she said.

The two men left…and Ezri Dax turned to the window, gazing out into the endless night….

* * *
"The saying implies but does not name the effective agency of its supposed utopia.... 'Needs and abilities' are, of course, subjective. So the operative statement may be reduced to 'the State shall take, the State shall give'."
--David Mamet
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