Chapter 10, part 2
During mid-afternoon -- and it came as a little surprise to Ezri -- when Kira contacted her from Ops that admiral Nechayav was on a comm line, waiting to talk to Ezri.
After rerouting the transmission through to the console on her desk, in her office, Ezri sat back wondering what urgent business Nechayav needed to discuss.
“Admiral Nechayav, what is the nature of this call?” she asked the moment the console screen showed the live feed from Nechayav’s office.
Nechayav, a woman in her sixties, with grey hair, and a as-thin-as-a-rake appearance, bestowed Ezri a quick perfunctory smile before getting down to business. “Am I correct in assuming you have a Starfleet officer named Talor Voran in your custody.”
“That is correct...” said Ezri slowly.
“Have you issued charges against him?” asked Nechayav in those sharp tones of hers.
“Yes,” replied Ezri, she started to have an inkling of where this conversation may be heading…
“That's good...” said Nechayav, for a moment she looked uncharacteristically hesitant. “However Talor Voran is going to be taken back to Earth for a court martial hearing to take place...”
“Would it not be more convenient to do so on this station?” Ezri asked while trying to keep her disappointment to a minimum.
“It's a matter of interplanetary security,” said Nechayav almost monotonously. “It would be safer to have the hearing conducted on Earth.”
Something was not right here, indeed Ezri felt more uncomfortable by the minute. “Are you saying admiral that this station's security is not adequate enough?”
“Not at all,” said Nechayav automatically, smiling at Ezri as if to gloss things over.
The smile faded and was replaced with a hard and resolute look. “However the order stands. At 0900 hours tomorrow, the starship USS Crescent will arrive, and Mr Voran will be transported over to the ship.”
“I understand...” said Ezri wearily, and she paused as she considered pressing Nechayav about these unusual orders.
“Admiral, what is going on here? Why does Mr Voran have to be escorted away at such short notice?”
“I am afraid captain that I'm not at liberty to disclose this, Nechayav out.”
The transmission ended leaving Ezri to sit there fuming away. ‘A matter of interplanetary security’ those words reverberated around Ezri’s head. To often had words of those sort being repeated by all manners of government, and state figures, to censor and hush up all the things, and people, who threatened the status quo. Nechayav’s words smacked to Ezri of Section 31 interference, more worryingly this wasn’t the first time she had a conversation which felt so similar to the one with Nechayav.
Ezri cast her mind back to when she first arrived at the station, when Ross had given her virtually the same order to release Jack Smith into the custody of another Starfleet vessel. No wonder Voran showed such confidence, because he knew he was going to be getting away with this. Ezri remembered her former hosts feelings about the Federation and Starfleet, in particular she remembered the pride Jadzia had serving as a Starfleet officer.
If only Jadzia knew of the true colours of the Federation because at this moment Ezri felt very disillusioned. Rather darkly, she wondered if Section 31 was somehow moulding Starfleet into some sort of oppressive and tyrannical organisation. One rule for Starfleet and those that supported it, and another rule for all those who were enemies or undesirables of the Federation…
It was the end of her shift, by some fortune Ezri had managed to complete a substantial part of her paperwork for the time being, so she took this opportunity to try to rest in her quarters. She sat down in her favourite armchair, taking comfort in its softness and how it supported her body position without causing discomfort to her back.
Ezri had been reading a book, displayed on a padd, but she had given up when she realised her brain needed to rest and to process today's events. Having disregarded the red turtle-necked shirt and jacket in her bedroom, she was dressed only in her uniform's trousers and dull blue t-shirt.
Her rest was cut short when the front door chime went off. “Come in!” said Ezri.
Megan entered carrying with her a padd in one hand as she approached Ezri. “Sorry to disturb you captain, but I just wanted to give you the joint report from myself and constable Odo concerning the interrogation of Talor Voran.”
“That won't be necessary commander,” said Ezri dryly.
“I don't understand,” said Megan who looked her confusion.
Ezri shifted herself more upright on the chair. “Sit down please,” she said gesturing to Megan to do so with her hand.
When Megan sat down on the boxy-like grey sofa, two metres in front of Ezri, did Ezri continue. “Yet again I've underestimated the influence Section 31 has over Starfleet. I was contacted by admiral Nechayav who wants to send Talor back to Earth. She assured me that Talor would be questioned by Starfleet security on Earth, but I knew in that instant that Talor was a free man.”
“That's crazy!” Megan exclaimed looking at Ezri as if she could not believe her eyes. “He nearly caused a war!”
This was the spark that lit up Ezri’s anger, she chucked away her padd and sat up more upright. “What gets me is how Section 31 is undermining everything that Starfleet protects. It seems everyday Section 31 grows bolder with their legal autonomy, and Starfleet hast to clean up the mess!”
“It is just not right!” she added loudly.
“I understand your frustration captain but there's nothing we can do,” said Megan who sounded very tired and wearied by this topic.
Ezri glanced at Megan with some surprise, two days ago Megan had passionately argued with her about stopping Section 31.
Megan appeared to sense her captain’s surprise for she continued on, “Section 31 is going to be around for a very long time, so long as it has the Starfleet admiral's backing, then Section 31 is above the law and impervious to any attempt to bring it down.”
“It is the legacy of the Dominion War,” said Ezri very sadly, while she thought back to the events. “It severely shook Starfleet to its very core; many good officers were killed and the Federation nearly collapsed. It is only natural that Starfleet admirals, out of fear, used more desperate measures to win the war, so they turned to Section 31.”
The anger returned to Ezri. “And now it seems that with any problem which can't be solved diplomatically the admirals let Section 31 sort out the mess.”
Megan though did not look sympathetic. “As I told you captain some days ago, this is a lost opportunity to expose Section 31 to the entire Federation!”
“No it wasn't...” murmured Ezri.
“I don't understand...” said Megan again, whose confusion became all the more apparent.
Looking Megan straight in the eye, Ezri elaborated upon what she meant. “The last thing the Federation needs is some sort of witch-hunt trying to find Section 31, how can we defend ourselves against the Romulans and the Breen when we're disunited ourselves? We roughly know what goes on behind the scenes concerning Starfleet, and it may not look pretty the means in which Section 31 preserves the peace. But together with Starfleet the two organisations have given the Federation almost thirteen years of peace, since the Corneria war, and that can only be a good thing...”
“Even if we sacrifice our principles?” asked Megan rather blandly.
“Whatever Section 31 has done, the consequences of a war with the Breen and Romulans could be just as bad or worse than the Dominion war. The peace must hold in this region of space, because otherwise it will only embolden Section 31 in their methods for protecting the Federation.”
For the first time, Ezri thought that she had convinced Megan, just a little bit, on her views of Section 31.
Megan stood up and slid the padd she held across the low glass-top table, the padd came to a stop close to Ezri. “Good night captain,” said Megan politely, before she turned around and left the room.
When Megan had left, Ezri’s eyes strayed over to the padd on the table. Would there be any point in reading it? Would Starfleet ever file its contents in the Federation database? The answer to Ezri was a resounding no, though she took the padd anyway to read it. She felt obliged to do so out of respect for the work both Megan and Odo put in to finish it.
Day 17, 1100 hours
Ezri was so busy completing reports that she only heard the door chime in her office after the third time it went off. She lowered a padd, dumping it upon a dozen other padds scattered on her desk and pressed a command on her console to open the door.
Kira entered, carrying with her a rather wide padd, upon arriving at the desk she stood to attention in a rather rigid fashion. “Here is the latest report on Breen/Romulan ship movements in the Badlands, there has been minimal activity despite the Romulan attack of four days ago.”
“That may be a good sign,” said Ezri while she briefly read the report’s contents. “However knowing the Breen they're probably trying to lure us into a false sense of security.”
“How can you be so sure?” asked Kira.
In an angry motion, Ezri tossed the padd onto her desk. “Because I saw it all the time in the Corneria war!” she exclaimed.
Breathing out deeply, Ezri managed to calm herself. “That's what we could all be facing, another Corneria style war, except on a much larger scale.”
“And DS9 and Bajor would be on the front lines,” said Kira, catching Ezri’s drift.
“That would be very likely, if the Breen crossed through the Badlands...”
There was a pause, and Kira waited for Ezri to address her, until finally she couldn’t wait any longer. “Is there anything else captain?”
“There is actually...” said Ezri, she gestured to Kira to take a seat which Kira promptly did. “I want you to assess DS9's defences, our security measures and intrusion detection methods. I want a full proper assessment listing our strengths, vulnerabilities and any improvements that can be made. I want the complete report on my desk four days from now at 0900 hours.”
“Yes captain,” said Kira solemnly.
Kira was about to get off the chair but Ezri had one more matter to discuss with Kira. “And Kira?”
“I know it is a lot of work to pile on you so soon after your Breen captivity, but I don't have the time to do it as my hands are tied down compiling reports to various admirals and Starfleet institutions.”
An understanding look crossed Kira’s face, she didn’t look annoyed or aggrieved in the slightest by Ezri’s orders. “You don't have to explain yourself Dax...”
Another pause, this time though Ezri sensed it was Kira holding back from something. For one thing, Kira appeared unusually unsure of herself whilst almost seeming distracted.
“Is there something you want to ask me?” asked Ezri.
A sheepish look appeared on Kira’s face; Ezri could almost see Kira’s embarrassment. “Well Odo and I were planning a vacation in a week or so's time, but it's a stupid idea giving recent events.”
“I've checked your service record, you haven't taken any shore leave for two years now?”
“I know that,” said Kira impatiently, she looked all the more earnest as if eager to utterly dispel her idea. “However with the Breen and Romulans threatening this station, you need your first officer to-”
“Take your vacation when you feel it is necessary,” said Ezri leisurely.
“Captain?” said Kira a little weakly.
“We're not at war with the Breen or Romulans, if we were then a vacation would be out of the question... But I've seen you pushing yourself for some months now, I can always tell when someone is fatigued...”
“It has not affected my duties captain.”
Now Ezri smiled pleasantly at Kira because she knew how her friend seemed allergic to holidays and rests. “Well I'll give you some informal advice; a captain relies upon a first officer who is well-rested and alert. I mean just how long are you going away for?”
“Two weeks on Bajor in Dahkur province,” said Kira tentatively.
“Well as long as the situation does not deteriorate, I could manage without you for that time.”
For just a brief moment Kira looked convinced by a vacation, but then all her doubts came flooding back to her face. “Who will take over my post?” she asked matter-of-factly.
“Commander Felpes can take your place,” said Ezri, “she has shown herself rather capable of commanding this station.”
“That would work...” said Kira slowly.
“I'm glad the matter is settled...” said Ezri with a tone of finality. “One more thing Kira.”
Kira remained silent, waiting for Ezri to continue.
“I heard about Mia defending Quark's bar, what she did was remarkably brave and you should be proud of her actions.”
A very forced smile came upon Kira's face, it seemed Kira thought Ezri was patronising her. “I appreciate your sentiment Dax, but my daughter did what she felt was necessary. There is nothing to take pride in for taking another person's life, whether they are your enemy or not.”
Ezri felt somewhat taken aback and chastened by Kira's words, she didn't expect Kira to take her compliment that way. “I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-”
Kira stood up continuing to view Ezri in a weary way. “I know you didn't mean to offend me, though I would think having Dax inside you, you would understand how I feel about my daughter's actions.”
A strained silence followed, after looking rather awkward, Kira then walked out of the office.
Looking on, Ezri couldn’t believe how much of a cliched thing she had said to Kira. The more Ezri thought about, the more she realised how seriously Kira considered killing and its consequences. Kira herself had told Ezri how the killing and violence she carried out during the Cardassian occupation (of Bajor) almost destroyed her as a person. Now Ezri could understand Kira's reaction; Kira didn't want her daughter to go through the same process.
Ezri really hoped Kira would have a great two weeks and would manage to sort things out with her daughter. Whereas for Ezri she had no such luck. There was an unbelievable amount of reports and administrative work to complete, she felt certain that she was overworking herself to death much like her first officer. Unfortunately Starfleet captains did not have the luxury of spare time or the option of taking a vacation when they felt like it…
Especially now after the escalation of Breen and Romulan hostilities. War had been averted, but the price to avert it was to Ezri too high. She didn’t know how long this uneasy peace would last, the thought of war lingered in her mind almost repressing her in its nature. It truly wearied her, each day with zero hostilities brought a little more hope to her. With all her heart she yearned for the day when there was true peace with the Breen and the Romulans.
Alas the very prospect would take years, if not dozens of years...
Well that is the end of Cloak and Dagger
, our next story is a vacation on Bajor and a close look at Kira's family.
Here are links to the rest of my stories (which are listed in chronological order in terms of my series plot):
Secrets and Lies
Ménage à Trois
Tip of the Iceberg
Running the Gauntlet
The Price of Sanity
Cloak and Dagger, part 1
Cloak and Dagger, part 2
To be Over
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The Order of Things
Help Thine Neighbour
Missing Link, part 1
Missing Link, part 2
Nothing Lasts Forever