And at last...the moment of truth:
Star Trek: Aventine
Our Sacred Honor
Ezri Dax was escorted once more into the chamber of the Federation Council. She looked around her, as she did so—at those friends who sat there, waiting for the judgment to be declared.
She noticed something amid the members of the Council—all of them, from what she could see. They were all tense…all standing still in silence—and what resembled fear. She couldn’t begin to interpret what that could mean—she figured she’d get the answer, soon enough.
She stood there, in the center of the room…alone. Before her, President Nan Bacco stood at the podium…and the tension throughout the Council seemed to fill her, as well.
The president cleared her throat, and stared at her for a moment’s hesitation. At last, she began, “Captain Ezri Dax?”
Ezri nodded, “Yes, Madam President.”
“You have stood before this hearing—as have many others. Are you now prepared to receive the ruling?”
Ezri nodded again. “I am, Madam President.”
“So be it,” the president said, and consulted the padd before her, on the podium. She seemed to freeze—and blink in what looked like astonishment—as she read what was clearly the results of the Council vote.
Ezri stiffened, willing herself with all that she was to show no reaction.
Apparently…so did the president, as she slowly lifted her gaze to meet Ezri’s eyes.
“Captain Dax,” Bacco said, in a voice that sounded as though it struggled not to break—in joy or despair, it was difficult to tell, “From what I can tell…the vote was nearly unanimous.”
Ezri nodded slowly, saying nothing, as she closed her eyes.
“Ezri Dax…as of this stardate, the Council has voted—” the president stopped for a second, as though to brace herself, and said, “—to clear you of all charges.”
Ezri Dax could hear the cheers behind her—around
her. Her eyes still closed, she could hear the thunderous applause…and the voices of her crew—and of all who had come to support her. She could hear him, and Sarina beside him.
And with this, Ezri opened her eyes, and raised her head to meet the gaze of the president. It was clear now—Bacco was fighting to suppress the smile of joy, of relief…relief at the Council, at the Federation…and at herself.
Ezri smiled for her. She smiled for both of them.
And then, Bacco looked down, at what looked to be another padd on the podium. She looked up, and her features hardened.
“All right—settle down!” she called.
All did—but Ezri could hear a few murmurs of delight. She briefly glanced at Bera chim Gleer…and could see a look of daggers in his eyes—even disgust—but with it, defeat…and resignation. She didn’t know how, but Ezri somehow knew, then, that he had voted in her favor.
She looked back to the president, wondering if the older woman would give an explanation.
“Assuming the press hasn’t already received the information already,” Bacco said, in what sounded like bitter amusement, “I’ll hold a press conference promptly—and I would appreciate that the Captain stand with me, while I do so. For now…” her voice turned solemn, and a little sad, “I will say this: Ezri Dax…on behalf of the entire Federation, I wish to give our most thorough, sincere, and humble apologies, for this entire affair.”
Ezri blinked. What on Earth
“Furthermore—as of this stardate, I—Nanietta Bacco, President of the United Federation…” her gaze hardened, “demand a similarly full, complete—and completely unconditional apology from the government of the Breen Confederacy…for leading our own government on a total charade, in an attempt to disgrace…” Bacco met Ezri’s gaze, “…one of our most noted heroes, and in so doing, humiliate and embarrass the Federation. I will state for the record—for all listening to my voice—that I will not tolerate
, so long as I hold this office, any attempt by a foreign power to manipulate us in this manner. I will explain my statement in a press conference in one hour.”
Her gavel came down in a single, satisfied slam
. “That is all.”
Ezri found herself frowning for a moment in confusion. Wasn’t—wasn’t Bacco taking this victory a bit too far? Unless…
She said she’ll explain—and she wants you to be there, when she does. Be patient
And so, she did…and she turned to face the booth where sat her friends…at Simon, and Sam…and all the others…
And Julian Bashir, who stood there silently, Sarina beside him. She seemed to be talking to one of the Aventine
crew, taking part in the delight of the ruling. But Julian stared back at Ezri…and the two locked eyes, for one moment, all too brief.
There had been a time when they could almost read one another’s thoughts—hold small, simple conversations just by reading one another’s faces. Here, now…Ezri could read a simple, certain Well done, Ezri—well done
Ezri felt a small smile on her face, as she nodded to him. Thank you.
He returned the smile, and nodded back.
At this, Ezri felt a light pat on her shoulder—and she turned to see President Bacco standing beside her.
“All right, kiddo,” she said, “Let’s get the heck outta here. We have a press conference.”
Ezri nodded, following the suddenly brisk pace of the president, as they walked to the exit of the chambers. Bacco’s gaze was set directly ahead, her eyes narrowed, her hands clenched into fists, as she held a single padd—the second one she had referred to, up on the podium.
Ezri shook her head in bewilderment as she caught up, “Madam President, will all due respect, what in I’nora
’s name is—?”
Bacco shoved a padd at her, without looking. “Shut up and read, Dax. We’ve been played like a dang fiddle, and I’m gonna throw it back in those dog-nosed helmets of theirs if it’s the last thing I ever do.”
Ezri quickly nodded, taking the padd.
And her blood ran cold, as she read the report marked with the seal of Starfleet Intelligence.
* * *