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Old July 10 2012, 02:11 AM   #83
Rush Limborg
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Re: Star Trek: Our Sacred Honor--A Tale Of Captain Ezri Dax

And now...the continuation.

Star Trek: Aventine
Our Sacred Honor
Chapter 19

“…The next day,” Ezri said, sitting there in the Council chamber, “We were summoned back to Earth, for immediate de-briefing. When we arrived, I was informed of the—complaints of the Confederacy. Immediately after that, I was placed under arrest, to face this hearing.”

T’Latrek nodded, slowly, as though contemplating the testimony Ezri had given. After a moment’s pause, she said, “Thank you, Captain—that is all from this councilwoman.”

No sooner had she said this then the light flashed on for Councilman Gleer.

President Bacco seemed to hesitate for a split second, but composed herself, and said, “The chair recognizes Councilman Gleer, of Tellar.”

Ezri Dax mentally prepared herself, gathering all her courage. All right…let’s get this over with.

“Captain Dax,” the man said, in a tone of surprisingly methodical calm, “As the Council has previously established…there isn’t much of a need to go over the actual incident. We have both the recordings from your ship, and the testimonies from your officers.”

Ezri nodded carefully. “All right…?”

“However, I feel the need to return to a previous event—namely, your initial receiving of the orders.”

“What…about them?”

“Well, you told this Council that the president instructed you to—I believe you reported her exact words to be, ‘Do what you have to do.’”

“Yes, but—as I said, I did not take that to mean—”

“My question, Captain, is simply this: what did you take it to mean?”

“I don’t…understand.”

The Tellarite shrugged, “Well, she said to do what you had to do—what did you think that meant?”

Something’s not right. This was nothing like what I expected from him.

Ezri shook her head in bewilderment. “I took it to mean just what she said, Councilman.”

“Indeed. And how would you define ‘do what you have to do’?”

“Councilman, I don’t understand what you mean.”

Gleer leaned forward a bit. “Simply, Captain, what limits you saw in her order.”

“Limits? Councilman—as I said, I did not take that to mean I could violate the law.”

“So…you took it to mean, ‘Do what you have to do, legally’?”

“Of course. Look—Councilman,” Ezri said, “Regardless of the realities of the field, every Starfleet officer knows better than to quibble with things like that.”

“However—and your first officer seemed to concur—surely, as far as you are concerned, there comes a time when the rules are…unnecessarily limiting.”

Ezri blinked, “Excuse me?”

“If, during an assignment, the necessity comes to ‘bend’ the rules, in order to prevent a greater evil…?”

“Councilman, if that kind of need arose, Captains are as a rule allowed that kind of discretion.”

“To bend the rules.”

“Of course. And to be honest, Councilman—we wouldn’t need a word from the president for that kind of discretion.”

Gleer leaned forward even further. “What about breaking the rules? Not ‘bending’ them—actual, honest violations? Would you require authorization to do that?”

“Councilman, I don’t think that’s relev—”

“Kindly answer the question, Captain.”

Ezri stiffened. “Of course we would need authorization, for that. But—”

“And wouldn’t that authorization often be given in wording somewhat like the directive you received from the president?”

Ezri stared at him in a brief moment of silent hesitation—brief, but it felt like an eternity. She felt as though something in her vision were clearing up—something…some secret blurred to her until now, about this whole thing.

“This just all seems wrong—forced, I mean. It’s like…something’s going on here we don’t know about.”

“There’s an agenda, you mean?”

“I don’t know…but that’s what it looks like.”

After that brief moment, she forced herself back to the present. “Councilman—something that important, involving an authorization to violate either the law or Starfleet policy, would require both me and my superior—in this case, the president—to acknowledge what was being waived.”

“Would it? I would imagine, Captain, that you have left out of this testimony various details deemed to vital in their secrecy to be revealed to the public.”

She had, of course. Though Ezri had had to conjure fully the memories of the events—the communique from the president, the senior staff meeting, and so on—she had not informed the Council on the conversations concerning the weaknesses of Starfleet, or the Federation’s borders.

But naturally, Ezri was not authorized to even imply the existence of those conversations. And even if she were, she wouldn’t have. And so, she said, “Councilman, I don’t have to remind you that I can’t either confirm or—”

“Oh, no, I’m not concerned with that, per se, Captain—you don’t have to worry about revealing things that have to be kept secret. But let’s be honest, Captain Dax…the sort of thing I’m looking for is not a matter of Federation security.”

Ezri narrowed her eyes slightly. The blur was clearing even further, now. “And what would that be, Councilman?”

“Simply this: did President Bacco authorize you to violate, if you so deemed it necessary, the restrictions of Interstellar Law?”

That was it. The blur had vanished. Ezri’s mental vision was clear. With that question…everything became clear to her, about this hearing.

“Councilman,” she said evenly, “I seem to recall you having the same kind of conversation with Commander Bowers—”

“You will please refrain from dodging the question, Captain—”

“With all due respect, Councilman,” Ezri said, her voice hardening, “I’m not dodging anything. And to be honest, Councilman Gleer…it seems to me that the one dodging things around here is you.”

There was a brief murmur around the chamber at this. Gleer froze, and narrowed his eyes. “Excuse me?”

Ezri rose to her feet, and leaned forward, hands pressed against the podium. “Councilman,” she said evenly, “I’ll save you the trouble. You’re trying to bribe me with a way out, if I’ll serve your agenda. I won’t do that.”

Agenda?” Gleer’s nostrils flared. “I have only one ‘agenda’ here, Captain Dax! I intend to get the truth from you about this incident, one way or another—and need I remind you, you’re under oath?”

“You don’t—have to remind me of my oath, Councilman,” Ezri replied, her eyes narrowing again. “But to be blunt…I don’t think you give a darn about the truth.”

Silence fell across the chamber. All froze at her words, looking either at her, in shock—or at Gleer, to see what he would do, in response to this.

Gleer stiffened, and said in a dangerously reserved tone, “Could you…repeat that, Captain?”

Ezri felt a small hint of a smile. “You heard me,” she said. “I don’t think you care about what really happened, with that ship. You don’t care about whether I was justified in what I did—or whether the Breen had set me up—set all of us up.”

“Really?” said the Tellarite. “Then kindly tell me what I do care about….”

Ezri leaned a little bit further, palms pressing against the podium, as she replied, “I think you want to focus on what the president said to me for one reason, and one reason alone—to put the blame on her. This entire mess—everything. You tried your best to make what I did look bad, and unwarranted, and illegal—and now, you want to take all of that, and pin it on President Bacco. Well, I’m sorry—”

“Captain, this is very amusing, but if you don’t mind answering—”

“The answer’s ‘No,’ Councilman—no, she did not tell me to go out there, and violate the Law.”

“So you did it without her permission?”

Ezri’s grip tightened on the podium, as she struggled not to let the full extent of her contempt and anger show. “I did not consider my actions to be illegal, Councilman—I didn’t, then…and I don’t, now.”

“Because of what the president said?”

“With or without what she said. I’m sorry, Councilman…but I won’t give you what you want, all right? What happened, with that ship—that was my call, it was my crew, it was my order. And I will not tolerate—”

“Captain Dax—”

Ezri’s voice rose, “I will not tolerate…your trying to blame our president for what you think I did. You want to tell me it was wrong? Tell it to me—and take it out on me! But I will not let you—”

“Captain Dax, you are out of line—”

“So are you, Councilman! You want to lecture me on acting ‘above the law’? I’m not the one trying to disgrace the leader of the Federation, by making her a scapegoat for the Breen, instead of me—!”

“Dax, I have put up with your disgusting—”

The sound of three hard, firm strikes from President Bacco’s gavel stopped them both. Ezri and Gleer turned to the older woman.

Bacco’s lip had tightened, her eyes blazing. She somehow managed to keep her composure, as she said in an even tone, “In the future…I’ll expect things to be conducted in a rational fashion. Is that understood?”

Gleer was so stiff at this, he seemed to shake. Finally, he nodded, and leaned back in his seat.

Bacco turned to Ezri…and small smirk of bitter amusement appeared on her face. “Frankly, Captain,” she said, “I can fight my own battles, thank you very much.”

A slight chuckle was heard throughout the room—at the sudden diffusion of the great tension that had been simmering and building up within its walls.

Ezri sighed, and nodded to her president. And then, she sat back down…keeping her gaze locked on the Councilman from Tellar.

Bacco’s voice changed in tone to a mild challenge, “Are there any further questions of Captain Dax?”

Silence. There were more than a few glances in the direction of Gleer…who just sat there, saying nothing.

Ezri couldn’t help but feeling a small triumph inside. She had thwarted an attempt to smear the president, and use her as a pawn.

But, of course…in the end, that was only a small victory for her. As far as she was concerned, it was all back on her shoulders—the question back to, whether she would take the fall.

Bacco waited for a response from the Council, and got none. And so, she said, “We will declare a midday recess, and will resume at 1400, for final statements.”

Ezri stepped down, walking to the guards. As they escorted her back to the cell, her mind raced. She went over all that had happened—from the orders from the President…to the firing on the Breen ship…to this whole trial, every part of the process—everything that had happened, the arguments, the questioning—everything.

And with this, she developed an outline in her mind—an outline, for her last word to the Federation, before the verdict tomorrow.

* * *
"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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