Chapter 9, part 2
Ezri looked up from her desk when Megan entered the commander’s office. “Did you and Odo get anything meaningful out of Voran?” asked Ezri.
“Not really...” said Megan, who seemed a bit disappointed.
“Don't waste your time commander,” said Ezri reassuringly, “Mr Voran will never tell us who he works with or for.”
“Perhaps not...” said Megan.
The commander appeared troubled as if she was trying to work herself up into saying something which Ezri would not like. “But maybe that is because we are not using stronger measures...”
“What do you mean by that?” said Ezri tensely.
Very slightly, Megan appeared to flinch in discomfort. “I'm saying that if we torture Mr Voran-”
Ezri slammed the padd she was holding against her desk, in one angry move she bolted upright looking very enraged. “Absolutely not!” she shouted.
Gesturing to Megan, Ezri bade the commander to follow her to the other side of the office, next to the sofa. There out of sight from most of Ops, Ezri rounded on Megan. “Torture is expressly forbidden in the Federation charter of human rights!”
Ezri’s anger was quickly matched by Megan’s. “And yet Section 31 tramples on everything we hold dear about the Prime Directive and the Federation charter!”
“I know it does!” hissed Ezri, while her teeth were bared. “But what can we do about it? Mouth off to the admirals and hope they'll listen?”
“We expose Section 31, to hell with it if they go underground, then they won't carry out their missions. To expose Section 31, all we have to do is torture Voran and-”
“Torture is very unreliable means of extracting information from a person.”
“Then attach a cortical chip and extract his memories!” burst out Megan, staring at Ezri in a completely exasperated manner. “Would we be torturing him then?”
“We would abusing his human rights!” said Ezri hotly.
The anger grew on Megan’s face and she snarled back at Ezri. “Are you telling me that scum like Voran have human rights? He almost started a second war between the Breen and the Federation!”
“I know that!” said Ezri, who was starting to get very defensive. “But everyone has rights, and suspects are innocent until proven guilty before a court of law!”
Ezri’s voice rose, as her anger boiled over. “The moment we start taking these laws -- which are the fundamental basis of functional civilization -- into our own hands, then anarchy and mass witch-hunts will begin! Laws are laws for a reason to prevent men going beyond the boundaries of what is proper and conducive for society!”
“And if we do nothing Section 31 will destroy the very laws that prevent the things you are talking about!” shouted Megan back. “We are letting the moral essence of the Federation be destroyed by Section 31, and when we lose that we become no different to the Romulans, the Cardassians or the Breen!”
“And just how do you get rid of Section 31?” countered Ezri, cocking her head to one side in a challenging manner to Megan. “The only way forwards I believe, is to formally include it as a Federation organisation, or department.”
Megan looked aghast, nay beside herself with rage. “Are you saying we welcome Section 31 with open arms?” she whispered venomously.
The venom in Megan’s voice was matched only by the ferocity in Ezri’s. “If we do that then Section 31 will finally be publicly revealed and finally bound by the rule of law.”
Megan though quickly shook her head. “You're making a mistake captain letting Voran slip through your fingers, it is an opportunity to publicly reveal Section 31 and bound it to the rule of law!”
The anger from both women began receding, but the tension remained as high as ever, still Ezri didn’t seem too convinced by Megan’s arguments. “Two Starfleet officers are not enough to bring about such a change,” said Ezri bluntly. “Until the admirals in Starfleet finally decide that Section 31 must be revealed, and until everyone who knows about Section 31 has spoken out about it, only then can we resolve this issue.”
“We should destroy Section 31!” reiterated Megan.
Ezri though regarded Megan with some curiosity, as if she were seeing Megan for the first time. “Is that the opinion of a Starfleet commander or the opinion of a woman who was betrayed by her lover?”
“Jack being a Section 31 agent has nothing to do with this!” replied Megan spitefully, though she fixed her gaze at a point just above Ezri’s head.
“But it has!” said Ezri with emphasis. “If it weren't for Section 31, you would have still been on the Liberty, and Jack would still have been your lover!”
The expression on Megan’s face wavered as she reluctantly accepted Ezri’s observation. “So maybe I am a little biassed towards Section 31!”
“But that is because I am one of its victims!” exclaimed Megan angrily. “A mere pawn in their twisted schemes and plots to keep the Federation safe from its 'enemies'.”
It was Ezri’s turn to shake her head. “Gul Bordak was the one who almost destroyed you, not Section 31. Bordak is proof that there are times when applying Federation principles doesn't work-”
“Are you condoning what Section 31-”
“I'm not condoning anything,” said Ezri hastily to stop Megan from raging again. “But Section 31 is right when it says there are races out there who won't play by our rules...”
The anger had vanished from Ezri’s face, she looked at Megan in a thoughtful but also intellectual manner. “Even you will admit that we have to fight to preserve the core values of the Federation? I mean what is Starfleet for?”
For one moment Megan considered this, and at any rate she seemed to be backing down. “Yes we do have to protect Federation values by force, but it is the way we protect those values that threatens the integrity of the Federation. Earth is utopia, but is utopia really feasible in the long-run when you have races like the Breen or Romulans or the Founders?”
“I know this isn't black and white,” admitted Ezri, “just running this station is a powerful reminder of that fundamental truth. But there are varying degrees to which we must sacrifice our principles to protect the common and greater good, and torture is something I'm not prepared to stoop to.”
“Your first officer, Kira Nerys, did it,” said Megan matter-of-factly.
“And regretted it,” countered Ezri, before a brief weary smile came to her face. “But Kira is like you, she will take matters into her own hands. However on that occasion she crossed the line, and she told me that herself. The final word rests with me so I'll say it again; we do not torture Voran or abuse his rights in any way.”
Ezri stared into Megan’s eyes, searching them very carefully. “Is that understood?”
“Yes sir,” said Megan stiffly.
Megan turned around to leave.
“One more thing commander,” added Ezri.
Slowly Megan revolved on the spot eyeing Ezri up a little wearily.
“We become like Section 31 the moment we are flexible with unquestionable and universal laws and liberties...”
Briefly Megan considered this, but she passed up Ezri’s remark with no comment, and then left the office.
The moment Megan had gone, Ezri’s face crumpled into doubt and misgivings. She was clearly shaken by the argument she had with Megan, undoubtedly Ezri must have been deeply questioning her own core beliefs…