All right, folks. Happy Fourth Of July!
Now...the last of the flashbacks--exactly what had happened, that fateful day.
This is actually a good stopping point fo this week (and, of course, I'd imagine everyone's taking time off for Independence Day). Next chapter will be on Monday.
SO--without further ado...
Star Trek: Aventine
Our Sacred Honor
“Then you anticipated a potential emotional compromise on your part, Captain,” T’Latrek replied.
Ezri nodded. “I did, Councilwoman—or at least, I allowed for the possibility.”
“Then you were genuinely concerned that you might…behave irrationally?”
“Not to me—but there was the possibility, however slight, that I might become…excessively motivated to act against any potential Breen incursion into the border.”
“And you saw to it that you would be held accountable, in that regard—by both Dr. Tarses and Commander Bowers.”
“That’s correct. As a former counselor, ma’am…I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t live up to the standards I’d held my
commanding officer to.”
“Understandable. I would assume, then, that neither officer found cause for concern.”
“That’s correct, Councilwoman.”
“Very good, Captain. You may continue.”
Ezri nodded. “Thank you Councilwoman. By the time we arrived at the border, Lt. Leishman had finished designing the sensor grid, and her team was able to construct the appropriate number to begin the seeding process.”
“Could you describe the design, briefly?”
“They were self-replicating. Lt. Leishman pulled up the designs for the minefield that Captain Sisko—and my last host Jadzia, as it were—had seeded at the mouth of the Bajoran Wormhole, immediately before the Dominion War broke out. Lt. Leishman equipped the sensors with the same replicator design, and programmed them to spread, appropriately.”
“How long did the process take?”
“To…set the entire grid?”
“It took four days. The first day, we sent out the Aventine
’s entire fleet of runabouts, each evenly distributed throughout the relevant region of the border, to drop the initial sensors at the most strategic areas.”
“And the remaining three days?”
“It took that long for the grid to form.”
“Very good, Captain. I would assume, following this, the assignment proceeded without incident, until the stardate in question?”
“That’s correct Councilwoman. Once the grid formed, we waited for six days—until finally, eighteen days ago, the sensors went off.”
* * *
* * *
Kedair looked up from the tactical console. “Captain—we’re picking up a ship, bearing: 179-mark-213.”
Ezri straightened in her seat. And so it begins.
“Helm,” she said, “Lay in an intercept course.”
“Aye, Captain!” Tharp entered the commands, and the Aventine
Ezri turned to Sam, who sat in the first officer’s seat, to her right. They met one another’s gaze, and in his eyes she saw support. She turned to Simon, who stood to her left, a little behind. He gave a reassuring smile, which Ezri returned, faintheartedly.
The great events of history so often come down to one moment—one decision. Everything hinges on that one little decision. And now…now, will that burden be given to me? What will history say, of this moment?
, Ezri found herself praying. Please…at least, whatever history says, let it be said that I did what I had to do.
The other ship appeared on the screen. Disk-shaped, with a forward tip curving down, and a rectangular section making up the rear.
Ezri turned to Kedair. “Identification?”
“Checking…it’s Breen, Captain—design is consistent with a…” Lonnoc stiffened, as though the implications of what she was about to say came clear, “…a civilian transport.”
Ezri’s blood ran cold. No
“Hail them,” she said.
“Hailing…no response, Captain.”
“Open a channel, then!”
Ezri rose to her feet, and spoke up, “Breen vessel: you are in violation of Federation space. Identify yourself.”
,” Ezri began—desperation beginning to enter her voice, “This is the U.S.S. Aventine
—you are in violation of Federation space—respond!”
Ezri whirled to Kedair. “Lieutenant, are their com lines down?”
Lonnoc shook her head. “Negative, Captain—all their systems are functioning properly. They can hear you.”
“How many people?”
“Scanning…twenty-seven, Captain. Vital signs normal.”
“Then why won’t they answer
“Captain,” Oliana called out, “The energy reading from that—it’s…”
“What’s wrong, Lieutenant?”
The girl shook her head. “It doesn’t make sense, Captain—it’s overpowered. It’s…I don’t know how
it’s holding together, with that!”
“Captain,” Tharp called out, “The ship is increasing speed—continuing on its present course!”
“Confirmed,” Kedair responded. “Now reaching Warp Six…Warp Seven—”
“Helm,” Ezri called out, “Maintain intercept course—maximum warp, now
“Their shields are at maximum,” Lonnoc announced.
Ezri fought to control her emotions, and barely succeeded. “Weapons?”
“They’re totally unarmed, Captain.”
“Their speed is increasing to Warp Eight,” Tharp announced.
“Hold on—Captain!” Mirren called out, “They’re on course for the Pentalos colony.”
Sam shot to his feet. “What on Earth are they doing
“Open the channel again!” Ezri called out.
“Channel open, Captain.”
“Breen vessel—you have violated Federation space. Cease in your course immediately
! Power down, and prepare to be boarded.”
I’nora, don’t let it be like this!
“Their speed is now increasing to Warp Nine,” Tharp announced.
“Can we lock on a tractor beam?” Sam shot back.
Ezri prayed against hope, Let him say we can
But she knew all too well what the answer would be. Jadzia had been a scientist, Tobin an engineer, Torias a pilot. She knew what Tharp’s reply would be:
“Negative, Commander. Their shields are up—and even if they weren’t…at their current velocity, the strain could rip them apart.”
,” Ezri called out, “You will power down immediately—or we will be forced to open fire!”
Nothing. No response. Nothing.
She turned to Mirren, “How long until they reach the colony?”
Oliana studied her screen, and in a split second replied, “Eight minutes, fifty-three seconds, Captain.”
“Keep on it.”
“Captain…” Sam walked up to her, “That energy reading.”
Ezri turned to him. “What about it, Sam?”
“They may not have any weapons—but at maximum warp, with no sign of slowing down…”
Ezri nodded, her gaze lowered. The same conclusion had already formed in her mind. “A suicide bombing.”
Ezri turned, staring at the viewscreen—at the small, helpless vessel before them. They were rapidly closing in…but Ezri knew, all too well, that it wouldn’t be enough.
“Lt. Kedair,” she said, “Lock phasers on their shields.”
Ezri stood straight and still, as though on trial before the court of the universe, and said, “Fire.”
A single beam shot out from the Aventine
—striking the shields of the Breen ship. It remained for what seemed like an eternity—and stopped.
“Their shields are at sixty percent.”
Another beam shot out.
“Four minutes until they reach the system,” Oliana called out.
“Again, Lieutenant,” Ezri said, “Until they’re down.”
“Twenty percent…six…they’re down, Captain!”
Ezri swallowed, as she stared at the screen. “Can you target their engines?”
“I can try, Cap—”
“No good!” Oliana called out. “Their power’s near overload as it is. Firing on them anywhere
“Noted, Lieutenant,” Ezri quietly said.
“Yes, Captain…. Two minutes, forty-three seconds.”
Ezri Dax closed her eyes. She knew: the moment the ship reached they system—at maximum warp, they would have no chance to stop it.
But we don’t know!
her heart screamed. We don’t
But she knew, all too well…that she had no choice. It had already been made for her.
That, however, did not make it any less difficult—any less wrenching on her conscience.
We don’t know!
“One minute,” Oliana’s voice rang in her ears.
Ezri Dax opened her eyes, staring across the void at the ship—the ship carrying twenty-seven lives.
Twenty-seven lives whose fate was now sealed.
Captain Ezri Dax stood straight and still, facing the judgment of the court of the universe.
“Fire,” she said.
The shot rang out. The ship disappeared, in an outburst of fire and light.
Ezri closed her eyes, hearing the report of Lt. Kedair:
“It’s done, Captain. The ship is destroyed.”
Ezri nodded, opening her eyes. “Thank you, Lieutenant,” she said.
She turned, and walked back to the center seat. She sat down, and looked to Simon Tarses. The doctor met her gaze, solemn…but supportive. His
judgment, at least, was clear.
As was that of Sam Bowers, as Ezri turned to her first officer, already seated. Both of them understood—neither held any condemnation, for what she had done.
Ezri spoke up, “Contact the Palais…and report on what happened.”
Ezri leaned back in her seat, looking off at nothing in particular.
“Captain,” Sam said in a near whisper, “You did it.”
Ezri nodded, not meeting his gaze…staring off into the distance.
“Yes,” she whispered. “I did.”
* * *