“Ever since I was born,” she said, “I have been a daughter of the Federation. That’s how my parents raised me—no matter where we lived. They raised me with the principles on which the Federation was built—the principles of freedom, tamed by personal responsibility. They raised me to be true to who I was—to be true to myself, to hold my honor as sacred…and my integrity as my greatest possession, never
to be taken for granted.”
She paused for a moment, swallowed, and continued, “And when I was old enough, I enrolled in Starfleet Academy. When I did so, I swore an oath as a cadet, telling myself, and everyone around me, that my first duty was to the truth—that I would hold myself to the highest standards of honesty…and integrity. And believe me—throughout my career, as a counselor and a commanding officer, I have tried with all that I have—all that I am
—to stay true to that promise I made…the pact I made, with Starfleet, and the Federation.
“In this hearing, I gave you all my word
that I would tell you everything—however disturbing it might be, however hard for all of you to accept. I came here, not knowing what would happen because of what I’d say—but I took that oath as a cadet, to tell the truth, for a reason
…and when I raised my hand before this hearing, I took another oath to tell the truth—and I have done so, no matter how painful it would prove to be, for me or for anyone else—because I have never forgotten that lesson of my parents…to hold true to myself, and the principles I hold dear.”
She found herself easing up a bit, more comfortable in herself as she went on, as she looked about the room, “But more than that—all my life,” she said, “I have been taught that these principles were worth defending, no matter the cost, and that they should never
be abandoned for the sake of convenience—that the lives and the freedom of those who live among us are to be protected from all enemies. That
was why I put my life, and the lives of my crew, on the line, a year ago—when the Borg came to destroy everything we hold dear. And that
is why I’m here, standing before you all, right now.”
Ezri paused for a moment, for effect. Satisfied, she continued: “Two hundred and twenty-one years ago…five worlds—five powers, united in these principles of honor and freedom—came together, after a long, terrible war with the Romulan Star Empire. Those five worlds—Earth, Vulcan, Alpha Centauri, Tellar…and Andor—they came together, with the promise that they would protect one another, and stand together as one
power, one United Federation…and with that, the promise that it would be a beacon of freedom for all people…shining a light to the rest of the galaxy.”
With the last sentence, she couldn’t help but feel a sense of melancholy—a sadness shared by many others in the room…as many in the Council stole a glance at an empty seat among them…an empty sear of one of those founding worlds, now no longer alongside them…no longer the friend, ally, and member it once was.
“Since then,” Ezri went on, “This United Federation has now grown to almost two hundred members strong…and to the best of my knowledge, that promise has never been overturned—not legally. That promise—that the Federation would hold true to itself, and to its principles of liberty and justice for all; that it would preserve, protect, and defend those principles, no matter what happened—that promise
, more than anything else, is why Starfleet was entrusted with the duties it has: to explore the stars…and show those ideals to anyone who’d see them—to be
that shining light, to inspire others to follow our example—and to defend those ideals, and show to all
who watch us…that our ideals are
worth protecting, and worth fighting for.
“Everyone,” she said, “It’s because of those ideals, that I’m standing here, today.”
Ezri stiffened, and her lip tightened, as she took a few steps forward, “I’m standing here—right now—because I took action to defend those who couldn’t defend themselves. Is it wrong
to do that, now? Is it wrong to take action against a ship who is heading towards the homes of millions of innocent lives, refusing to stop, refusing to explain themselves, refusing to show how noble their intentions are? Everyone—ask
yourself…why am I
standing here for that, when captains throughout history have done far worse than I have, and gotten little more for it than a slap on the wrist?
“Well,” she said…her tone turning bitter, “I’ll tell you. I’m standing here—right now, before you all—because that day, I saw what so many people, today, refuse
to see—that so many in the Typhon Pact wish to do us harm, one way or another—and that they want to break
us, any way they can.”
She looked around at the members of the Council, and her hands spread a bit in honest exasperation. “Is…is it wrong
for me to say that, here, right now? Well, then—why don’t you look at all they’ve done, this past year? Taunting us—smearing us—trying to paint everything we’ve done as an ‘insult’, or some permanent outrage to them. Each and every one
of you has noticed that—” Her voice steadily rose, to a near shout “—but instead of taking a stand, and refusing to be bullied by their cries of ‘You are insulting us!’ and ‘Do you want to start a war?’—you all seem content to appease them one
more time, and put me here, in a show trial, open for everyone
to see, to make it clear to them that we don’t want
to start an incident—that we don’t want to offend them, and give them an ‘excuse’ to start a war—”
Gleer shot to his feet at this, “Dax, I will NOT
Bacco’s gavel gave a loud slam. “The Councilman will allow the Captain to speak
The Tellarite’s nose flares…but he sat down.
Ezri’s heartbeat was racing at the outburst…but she managed to calm herself down enough to go on. Please…let that be the last time. I—I don’t know if I could handle another.
The voice of Spock came, once again. Be strong…Ezri Dax
She nodded, her inner will restored…and looked for a moment at Gleer. “Look,” she said, in a quieter tone, “I think the problem is more than that. A lot more.”
She turned, to look at the others, pacing the floor slowly. “Everyone…I’m standing here, accused of violating our ideals—the ideals that I’ve lived my life
by. Now…at first, I couldn’t understand. Was
I guilty of that—did I betray myself, without realizing it?
“But then…I thought about it. And finally, the answer hit me.”
Ezri stopped her pace, still surveying the Council. “I’m being accused of violating our ideals…simply because, I think, we’ve forgotten what they really mean. I think the problem is—over the years, we’ve started to take the meaning
of those principles, and the reasons for why we have them, for granted. So what happened? We’ve added
to them…and turned them into a complicated, twisted code
—a code which has taken what we were, and transformed it into something else: something shapeless, and terrible…and dangerous, to ourselves and to others.
“Our founding principles told us to not start wars—that we should use our power only for our defense, and the defense of our allies. The code, however, tells us to go out of our way
to not look aggressive or forceful in any way—to prove to everyone else that all we want is peace, at any
price. Well—ask the former members of the Maquis how that
She saw a handful of members stiffening at this. She knew which worlds they were from…worlds once on a long-contested border with the Cardassian Union.
With this, Ezri turned to the direction of the representative from Bajor—a former general, Krim. She walked toward his side, and added, “Our founding principles told us to not interfere in the internal
development of a foreign culture. The code
tells us to stay out of any
incident that doesn’t directly involve us, even if it’s between one power and another. Apparently, we’re not even allowed to stop another power from interfering in another’s development—which means the Prime Directive only applies to us
“Well…” her gaze hardened, “Let me tell you that when we follow that code, we spit in the face of the things we claim to hold dear. How many cultures could we have saved from invasion—or destruction
—from a foreign power…but didn’t, because it ‘wasn’t our affair’? Oh—you think I’m being extreme? Just ask the Bajorans, and see if they
think I’m overstating my case!”
It worked. Krim’s gaze fell…doubtless remembering those long, terrible years of the Occupation—and that terrible time, when he had temporarily fallen prey to the propaganda of The Circle…out of nothing less than bitterness towards a Federation that had neglected to help his world when they could
have…not coming in to help, until long after it was too late.
Ezri hated having to bring up such a wound, with all the pain and trauma of the past…but she knew, all too well, that it had to be said. This wasn’t just about her—or about Krim.
She turned to survey the Council again, as she resumed her pace. “Our founding principles told us that life is precious—and that we must protect the lives and freedoms of those under our protection. The code—well, look where it’s brought us, right here, right now. It’s told us to view the lives of our enemies
as more precious than our own. It’s told us to give rivals the benefit of the doubt, until you’re backed up by them against the wall. It’s told us to put the gun down first—even if the other side hasn’t given any
indication that they’ll do the same. Trust, but don’t
verify—” Ezri smiled bitterly, “That would just ‘insult’ them.”
Her smile faded, as she went on, “Our founding principles told us to respect other points of view—not agree with them, but respect them. And the code? It tells us to go out of our way to make sure we don’t offend others—and thus…it tells us to be perfectly willing to suppress the truth—for them, and for ourselves.”
Ezri stopped, and felt her voice rise again, “Well, let me tell you all something that we all—including me—should have figured out, a long time ago: that code…is destroying
us! It’s a cancer—eating at us from the inside, in a way that the Dominion, or the Borg, or the Typhon Pact could never
hope to do. I see it…and I believe with all my heart that the president sees it, and is fighting that cancer, wherever she does.” She paused, and looked around, her voice a plea. “Don’t you
Silence. All watched her, saying nothing.
Ezri nodded slowly. “I think you do…but to be honest—many of you don’t want to admit that it’s there. Many of you want to cover your eyes, and tell yourselves that nothing is wrong—that we’re not corrupting ourselves, that we’re just staying true to our values and principles. And I don’t blame you—believe me, I didn’t want to accept it, either. I didn’t—I couldn’t
, not until a few days ago…when—when someone warned me of what might happen, here.
“I don’t blame you, but…the truth is, because of this denial, you can’t bring yourselves to admit that the code we’ve adopted is destroying what our principles truly are—and that in order to follow that code…we have to abandon our ideals.”
She paused for a moment, and added, “When I fired on that ship, I was protecting our people—I was defending our lives
—I was defending our freedom—and our principles, our ideals. But in order to do that…I had to break the code. And that
is why I’m here—because right now, we’re struggling not to accept that you can’t
have both—that you can’t continue with this code, and expect the Federation to survive.”
She shook her head, bitterly. “We don’t want to accept that—and so, you put me here, and tried to smear my name, and the honor of my crew—because my decision was proof that we can’t
stick to this code, and expect to preserve who we are. The truth is…”
Ezri stiffened, almost afraid to go on. She knew if she said it…there would be no turning back.
Well…I’m at that point, already. I have to go on.
She said, “The truth is—I
am not the one on trial. You are. The Federation
is on trial—and the verdict you pronounce on me, when this is over…will be reflected on all of you. If I’m to be found guilty—that guilt will be yours
, not mine. And believe me…my conviction will be the final proof for everyone to see—that in order to stay ‘safe’, this once great society will give up anything
, even the freedom of a Starfleet Officer whose only real
crime…was to take seriously her oath to protect the lives of those in the Federation who can’t protect themselves.”
Ezri tightened her lip for a moment, and added, “It has to be said. The Federation is dying…and if we refuse to see this, and refuse to fight to bring it back…it will deserve
Even President Bacco reacted to this—her eyes widening, her body tense.
Ezri nodded sadly, as she looked to her president. “I know. Believe me…I hate saying that, as much as all of you hate hearing it. But it is
dying. It’s dying, because we’ve forgotten what brought it to life in the first place—and what made it the great empire of freedom it once was…and, I believe, can
She took a few steps towards President Bacco. “But…if we are
so far gone, that this Federation would be willing to convict me, and punish me, for doing what I could to keep it safe—if this Federation would rather allow the Breen, and their allies, to have their way with us—if it would rather be comfortable in its self-imposed ignorance, than take a stand and fight for the ideals it was founded on—well, then…” Ezri fought not to close her eyes, “…then this is a Federation I can’t
permit myself to live in. If all that’s true—then the Federation I knew…the Federation I loved
…is already dead.”
Bacco’s lip tightened…it looked as though she were fighting a quiver.
Ezri took another step, and her voice rose again. “But even if it is
dead: I refuse
to believe that it can’t be brought back. I know
it can! And that’s
why I’ll continue to fight—to preserve, protect, and defend the United Federation, as I knew it, and remember it.”
She turned, to face not the Council, not even her crew…but the camera of the press box, as she spoke, now, to all who would listen. “And…and even if that fight is hopeless, I’ll press on, as my tribute to what it once was, in defiance of what took its place. And I’ll gladly accept whatever penalty you wish to give me…and take it, in memory and in gratitude of what the Federation gave me, all my life—a chance to live
, and to hold true to myself.”
She surveyed the room one last time, and said, “It will be my tribute to those heroes of the past—to Jonathan Archer, to Erika Hernandez, to Christopher Pike, to James T. Kirk, and all the rest. To my father…now dead…who—who used the freedom he was given to the best of his ability, inspiring others to do the same.”
Her vision blurred, and she blinked back the tear…as she found herself hoping, praying, more than anything else…that he could hear her.
She went on. “To those heroes still alive, who’ll continue this fight, with or without me: to Nan Bacco…my president...whom I know loves the Federation as much as I do, and has led it with honor and dignity such as I have rarely seen…and who deserves our greatest support, in these troubled times.”
She didn’t toss a glance at the president—she knew, as Bacco knew, that it would be too much.
“To Admiral Janice Rand,” Ezri continued, “My mentor, who guided me through the Academy. To Benjamin Sisko—my dearest friend, who has been through more than any of us can imagine—” she felt a smile, “And to his son, a new voice of honesty and truth.”
She could sense his flinching a bit, up in the press box, while the others in his team smiled at him.
“To Ambassador Spock—whom I hold to be a second father…and without whom, I would have never
had the courage to speak as I have.”
This time, it was harder to suppress the tear, but she managed to, somehow.
“To my fellow captains, beside whom I’ve been proud to serve—William Riker, Jean-Luc Picard, and all the rest.”
Ezri smiled again, and went on, “To my crew…my friends, Sam Bowers and Simon Tarses, and those others under my command. To my friends from Deep Space Nine, who believed in me, when I couldn’t even believe in myself—Kira Nerys, Miles O’Brien, Worf, Quark…and a man that I know doesn’t want to be named…but I know he is listening, right now…and knows that I’m speaking of him.”
She could feel his gaze…and his acceptance of that. But that didn’t make it any easier, as she fought to suppress a quiver.
of them, and for countless others…” her voice broke, “And for all of those who can sleep safely tonight, because of what I, and all those others, have done for them…” her eyes blurred, and this time there was no suppressing it, “…for all
of them, I dedicate my acceptance of whatever ruling you give me—” she felt a tear escape “…and I pledge, to all of them, my life…my fortunes…and my sacred honor.”
She stopped, there, and her gaze fell, with a second tear trickling down her cheek.
She nodded, and said in a near whisper, “Thank you.”
And Captain Ezri Dax turned, and walked back up to her stand, where she sat down, meeting no one’s gaze.
Silence filled the room. No one spoke for what seemed like an eternity. At long last, the voice of Nan Bacco called out, “Are—will there be any further statements?”
Silence, again…and this time felt even longer.
“Thank you,” Bacco replied, sounding a little relieved. “We will assemble tomorrow, for the verdict.”
The gavel rang out—and many in the Council seemed to rush out, to get out of there as soon as possible.
Ezri remained seated for a while longer…her gaze focused on one man, as he slowly got up, and walked down…and out, Sarina close behind him.
With this, Ezri looked up to President Bacco. The older woman met her gaze, and seemed to swallow. No words…just a moment of silence.
At last, the president stepped down from the podium, and Ezri rose, and walked to the security guards, to be escorted back to her cell.
* * *