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Old September 5 2014, 01:18 AM   #46
Rear Admiral
Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

************************************************** ***************

Conference Lounge
USS Aldebaran

Captain Awokou was glad he wasn’t a Betazoid. Despite his lack of empathic or telepathic ability, he sensed the powerful emotions roiling in the room. Along with Rozi, Commander Thayer, Lt. Narcissa and a security team, the room was filled with the leaders of what was left of the alien fleet.

Many bore injuries to go along with their shocked, defeated, or seething expressions. Awokou cleared his throat and stood, allowing the silence to ripple out organically from the gesture.

“I’m sorry for what has befallen many of your compatriots,” he began, and the room immediately broke into a cacophony of shouts, curses, and cries. The security team tensed, but Awokou nodded to Narcissa to keep her team back.

“Please, please,” Awokou held up his hands.

“Silence!” Vebbis spoke up. “Let the man speak.”

“Thank you,” the captain nodded, but Vebbis coldly turned his head. “I warned you, I warned all of you. We have terrible weapons, weapons I regret using against you, but I would do so again to protect the Eonessans.”

“What gives you the right to murder us? To deny us justice?!” A humanoid with a crest of red feathers jabbed a finger at him. “You’re no better than the Vidiians!”

The room broke out into furious agreements and more cursing and shouting. The guards moved from their posts, but the captain waved for them to remain where they were.

“We still outnumber you,” Vebbis said. “We can still have justice.”

“You threaten us on our vessel?” Thayer spoke up. “That’s not the smartest move.”

“Neither was laying waste to our fleet, because you’ve left us with nothing to lose,” Vebbis said. “We came here, fully prepared to die. Are you?”

“There doesn’t have to be anymore death,” Awokou said. “We don’t wish it. We never wished what just happened, but I can’t take that back.”

“You should’ve left us alone, you should’ve left us to our purpose,” a stocky, spotted woman, with a plume of ginger hair declared.

“I would never stand by and allow genocide to occur,” Awokou replied.

“Yet you just slaughtered so many of us,” the words pierced him more because they came from Fontin. The Neth looked away when the captain looked at him.

“There’s nothing that will stop us from pursuing the Vidiians,” Vebbis promised. “You can’t protect them or the ones that harbor them forever. You have to return to your home and we can wait you out.”

“About that,” Awokou said, “As of this moment the Eonessan homeworld is a protectorate of the United Federation of Planets. Any attack will be met with overwhelming force by a fleet of vessels with weapons as powerful as mine.”

This time gasps came from both the assembled aliens and his crew. Awokou stared squarely at Vebbis, “Don’t test our resolve.”

“This is not over,” the alien leader declared. “There are more ships, more aggrieved races across the Delta Quadrant that will join our cause.”

“And we’ll be there to meet them,” Awokou said.
************************************************** *************
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Old September 5 2014, 02:46 AM   #47
Rear Admiral
Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

************************************************** ***************

Captain’s Ready Room
USS Aldebaran

Once the meeting was over, Awokou watched silently from the bridge as the remnants of the alien fleet left the debris strewn space, heading away from the direction of the Eonessa Prime. Once he had Aldebaran underway back to that planet, with the crew working hard to restore the ship, the captain went to his ready room.

And he got to the truly hard part. It took several hours to get a response. It was about what he expected. The hologram of Admiral Glover stood within the holo-communicator built into the office’s floor. The communicator was built off to the side of the captain’s desk. He turned his chair to face the admiral.

The younger man did not look pleased. Awokou forwent asking him about Starbase 27 or anything else and instead prepared for the lambasting.

“Just what were you thinking Banti?” Glover upbraided him. Rarely if ever had Terrence called him by his first name and never in such a disrespectful manner. It was so uncharacteristic of their relationship, such a reversal of roles that it threw Banti for a loop. “You unilaterally made Eonessa Prime a Federation protectorate without consulting Starfleet.”

“There was no time to do that,” Awokou said, “I thought it was the best way to protect the Eonessans immediately and to let the alien fleet know that we were serious.”

“No, that you were,” the admiral fumed. “And now you’ve put the Federation’s honor on the line.”

“To prevent potential genocide, yes,” Awokou replied with passion, “and I would do so again.”

Glover glared at him. “But also to protect potential mass murderers like these Vidiians.”

“There is that,” the captain conceded, “But I didn’t see any choice in the matter. The alien fleet made no bones about attacking the Eonessans if they came to the aid of the Vidiians and it would’ve been a slaughter.”

“The Eonessans were free to make that choice,” Glover said coldly, leaving Banti to wonder what had happened to the man. “We had already interfered enough with them. Now you’ve committed us to using more resources, resources that are scant at the moment, to protect them basically indefinitely.”

“Sir, there was no other alternative,” Awokou replied earnestly.

“The Fleet Admiral concurs,” Glover said, almost reluctantly, “The details with be hashed out later between Starfleet Command and the Federation Council. Your new orders are to defend the Eonessan homeworld until reinforcements arrive and you are relieved.”

“When can I expect them to arrive?” Awokou asked.

“Three months at the earliest,” the admiral replied. He shook his head, “This wasn’t an easy decision.”

“Seldom are many when you sit in our chairs,” Banti said, regretting it instantly because it felt too flippant to him.

“There were some who were very reluctant to extend our protection to the Vidiians,” Glover said. “I think that was the biggest sticking point, and will likely continue to be so.”

“I understand,” Awokou said. “It mirrors the feelings from my own senior staff, and likely my whole crew.”

“So what do you propose we do about them?” Glover asked, his gruffness mellowing a bit.

“Get the guilty to voluntarily come forward and accept Federation justice,” Awokou said.

“And how do you propose we do that?” The admiral was intrigued.

“Withholding protection from them until they comply,” the captain suggested. “And offering them our justice rather than that of their enemies.”

Glover rubbed his bearded chin, as he mulled it over. “And what if they reject that offer?”

Without pause, Awokou answered, “We leave them to their fate.”

The admiral’s grin was wolfish. “You know I went to bat for you. And this is another reason why I’m glad I did.” Awokou was relieved there was some old aspect of the man still inside even if his defense seemed to be for a warped reason.

“I wish we could get more ships there sooner,” Glover said. “You’ll be alone out there too long for my liking.”

“We’ll manage,” Awokou promised, “I think it will take Vebbis a long time to scrounge up more ships that want to go against our Alpha Weapons.”

The admiral shook his head again, his shoulders tensing, as his mouth drew into a tight line. “So much devastation, at our finger tips.”

“Yes,” Awokou said, shaking his head as well. “I will always regret what I did.”

“What you were forced to do,” Glover amended. “I understand all too well making decisions with catastrophic results.”

Awokou thought about asking the man about Loval, the Cardassian planet he had laid waste to at the end of the Dominion War. But he didn’t want to reopen old wounds or generate new nightmares.

“You have a lot of work to do Captain,” Glover dipped his head respectfully, “I’ll leave you to it. Good luck. Glover out.”

Awokou watched the hologram fade. “That wasn’t so bad,” he muttered to himself. “I guess the hard part will be the Vidiians.” He sighed, grabbed the nearest padd on his desk, and got back to work.
************************************************** ***************
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Old September 6 2014, 12:38 AM   #48
Rear Admiral
Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

************************************************** ****************

Rector’s Office
Eonessa Prime
Hours Later…

“You had no right,” Rector Chaun flared, “I won’t allow you to annex this planet!” The Eonessan was half out of his chair, his finger pointing like a dagger. Beside him stood Vinaren, concern entwined with relief on her face.

“Rector,” Awokou did his best to remove the frustration from his voice, “As a Federation protectorate, your sovereignty remains intact. I made this move to protect your world, not to control it.”

“Who are you to impose this upon us?” Chaun screeched. “We can take care of our own affairs. If your one ship stood against them, our Argosy certainly can.”

“You have no idea, none, of what we had to do to convince the alien fleet to not invade your world,” Awokou leaned forward, his eyes narrowing, his voice tightening, as horrible memories uncoiled in his mind. “We lost something, I lost something in this quest and I will not allow your pride and foolishness to throw it away.”

“How dare you?” Chaun reared back as if struck. “I want your vessel gone, immediately!”

“Rector,” Vinaren smoothly interjected, “Let’s not be too hasty.” The intercession brought the Eonessan leader up short. He turned to the woman.

“You can’t see what they’re doing? Taking over my planet? Disrespecting my office?”

“The captain has been nothing but a being of his word so far, and from little contact our people have had with this Starfleet, their members are forthright. He’s offering protection, I suggest you take it.”

“Thank you Speaker,” Awokou dipped his head in her direction. She smiled.

“Don’t thank me yet,” she replied. “I on the other hand cannot accept acceding to your ‘justice’ system. You have no right to sit in judgment of us.”

“She’s right,” Chaun huffed.

“It’s either us or you can take your chances with all of the enemies you’ve amassed,” Awokou said coolly. “This way we can at least explain to them that the guilty among you are paying for their crimes.”

“There were no crimes,” Vinaren said, “We broke none of our laws.”

“If there are galactic laws, from what I’ve learned of your peoples’ ways, you have been serial violators, of a most egregious sort,” Awokou rejoined. “And such barbarity can’t go unanswered.”

“It will have to,” Vinaren declared.

“There are limits to our protection,” Awokou didn’t relent. “It only extends to the Eonessans. Unless you surrender your guilty to us, we won’t protect you.”

“We’ve managed,” Vinaren said. “And we will continue to do so.”

“This is a decision that doesn’t have to be made this instant,” the captain charitably offered. “Mull it over.”

“I’ve lost too many of my people, I will not hand over anyone to you,” Vinaren’s gaze was fierce, her expression determined.

Awokou shook his head, his own expression sad. “I wished you would change your mind. The Federation doesn’t have a death penalty, except in extraordinary circumstances, and we support rehabilitation. There’s so much you could contribute to Federation life and so much you could learn, and your people would be able to do so in peace, unafraid of retaliation.”

“We’ve learned not to rely on the mercies of others,” Vinaren replied. “We’ve learned how to survive on our own.”

“You don’t have to do that, not any more, if you don’t want to,” Awokou said. “In the Federation, it could be the chance for a new life.”

“We had a great civilization once and we will do so again, by our own hands,” Vinaren said.

“Besides they have a home here,” Chaun declared. “Free from your persecution.”

“Haven’t you been listening?” Awokou could feel his temper rising. “Speaker Vinaren has all but admitted that her people are Vidiian, and when I had made that charge before you vehemently denied it.”

“I don’t deny that we are Vidiian,” Vinaren admitted, “Though are from the planet Vaphora.”

“They have not been truthful with you, they have deceived you,” Awokou pointed out. Vinaren glared at him. Chaun’s feathered crest ruffled as his eyes darted back and forth between the two.

“I don’t care where they came from or what they did in the past,” the Eonessan leader ultimately said, “In our hour of need they were there for us and I intend to be there for them.”

“You and your people have been too hospitable to us,” Vinaren said, “And we have not deserved it.”

“Nonsense,” the rector replied. Awokou restrained himself from throwing up his hands. Perhaps Vinaren and Chaun were made for each other. As much as he wanted to tell them so, he kept his thoughts to himself. His main concern had to be his crew and the Eonessan people.

“Rector I suggest that you do discuss Captain Awokou’s offer with your parliament. We can take care of ourselves, but we are concerned for your welfare.”

Chaun harrumphed, but eventually said, “I will do so. Unlike Captain Awokou it appears I do value discussion and consensus.”

The captain took that dig. It meant that the Eonessans would at least discuss the issue and hopefully agree with it, though he would defend them whether they wanted him to or not.

“Rector if you will allow, I can explain what protectorate status entails to your parliament,” Awokou offered.

“I think I get the gist of it,” Chaun smoldered. “Your attendance is not required.”

Awokou wanted to press the issue, but decided that wouldn’t be wise. He looked at Vinaren, a plea in his eyes, and the Vidiian nodded.

“Perhaps I could attend the meeting?” She suggested. Chaun softened.

“Of course Speaker Vinaren, the parliamentarians will be interested in what you have to say.”

“Now if you’ve finished issuing your order, I have a meeting to call,” Chaun dismissed him.

Feeling appreciably better for Vinaren’s assistance, Awokou beamed out with his head high.
************************************************** **************
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Old September 7 2014, 05:13 PM   #49
Rear Admiral
Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

************************************************** *************

Quantum Café
USS Aldebaran
Three months later…

Lt. Juanita Rojas looked out of one of the large viewports and frowned. She could see the Vidiian vessel hanging in space nearby. She wrapped her fingers around her sweating drink and shook her head. “I can’t believe they are going to get away with it.”

“I know,” Lt. Narcissa also frowned. She cut her eyes at the ship. “They won’t agree to our prosecution, and the Eonessans are shielding them.” She turned back to face Juanita and took a hard sip.

“Perhaps they think we will protect them as well, if the aliens attack again,” Lt. Loto said. The Arbazan had already finished his glass of Altairian brandy.

“And we probably will,” Narcissa leaned forward and lowered her voice, “Despite what the Captain says.”

Loto nodded in agreement, but Juanita wasn’t so sure. “I just wish they hadn’t put us in this situation.”

“Well, look at it this way,” Narcissa offered, “It won’t be our problem much longer.” The Aldebaran stood to be relieved by two starships, the Yoyodyne and the Aeneas. Aldebaran would be called back to Federation space, its fate uncertain. But Juanita was more worried about the captain. She was afraid that he would have to answer for his decision to make Eonessa Prime a protectorate.

She thought it was a move that was the best out of a bad situation, but she didn’t wear admiral bars. She just hoped that Admiral Glover stood with his old mentor and could have sway over the rest of the Admiralty.

Selfishly she didn’t mind being recalled to Federation space though. It would give her more time, hopefully, to spend with Tai, or at least they would be in the same quadrant. She had missed him terribly, more than she thought she would, and was a more than a bit relieved that she hadn’t spent five years in the Delta Quadrant, away from him.

If Aldebaran was attached to another Intercept Group, Juanita knew she would have to rethink whether to stay aboard. Even though she had grown attached to Narcissa and Loto and she liked serving under the captain.

Out of the corner of her eye she spotted Lt. Dryer heading toward the exit. It brought her back to the chilly incident she had had with him months ago, something that hadn’t been resolved. Work had gotten in the way of her figuring out what his deal was. She figured now was as good a time as any to find out. “Excuse me,” she said, pushing away from the table. “There’s something I’ve got to do.”
************************************************** **************

USS Aldebaran

“Hold the lift please,” Lt. Rojas called out as she dashed toward it. Lt. Dryer was already inside. The young science officer grimaced and for a second she thought he wouldn’t comply. However he held the lift and she glided in.

She caught her breath, before saying, “Deck Two.” Juanita really didn’t have a destination in mind, and she didn’t want to necessarily go back to her quarters right now on Deck Eight.

“How are things going Lieutenant?” She asked. The man’s jaw tightened, but eventually he spat out.


“Hold lift,” she ordered, and the carriage stopped. Lt. Dryer turned to her, a deep scowl on his face.

“What did you do that for?” He asked.

“Do you have a problem with me Lieutenant?” She bluntly asked. The man glared at her but didn’t answer. “I get the sense that there’s something personal between us, but I have no idea why. I’ve never met you.”

“It’s not you,” he said, “It’s the company you keep.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Captain…I mean, Admiral Glover,” the man huffed. Juanita was taken aback.

“What could your problem be with the Admiral?”

“My cousin,” the man caught himself, “My cousin was Nyota Dryer. And Terrence Glover was responsible for her death.”
************************************************** ************
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Old September 7 2014, 07:08 PM   #50
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

Well, Juanita knows exactly how that feels! Wow... now she's paying for Terrence's sins as well.

Not a comfortable place to be.
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Old September 7 2014, 09:13 PM   #51
Rear Admiral
Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

Good point Gibraltar.

************************************************** **************

Quantum Café
USS Aldebaran

Lt. Yori Shibata nearly jumped out of his seat. Hands on the chair that Kenule had recently vacated, Lt. Commander Thayer leaned over and grinned. “Jumpy much Mr. Shibata?”

“Ah, no, I mean, no sir,” Shibata said, easing back into his chair.

“No need for rank, I’m just here to get a drink,” she said. “Mind if I sit down?”

“Well, er,” he hated being so tongue tied, but he couldn’t help it. It was so awkward sleeping with a superior officer.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Thayer said, sitting in Dryer’s old seat. Despite his perturbation, the blonde seemed to relish making him squirm. “I’ve missed you,” she said.

A lump formed in Shibata’s throat. “Well, ah, uh.”

“Come on, no time to clam up now,” she chuckled, “I know how golden that tongue of yours is.”

He nearly knocked over his drink. “I’ve-I’ve got to go.”

“Leaving so soon?” She asked innocently.

“Ah, yeah,” he said. “I’ve got some, uh, alien dialects to study.”

“Perhaps I could help?”

“No, ah, thank you sir, but I can handle it.” He stood up.

“It’s April by the way,” she said, but Yori was already hustling toward the door.
************************************************** ******************

Holodeck One
USS Aldebaran

“It’s not an exact recreation, but it is fairly close,” Chief Silane said. Lt. Selvin appraised the holographic recreation. The wind stirred his hair as it rifled through the tall buildings. Off in the distance was Fringill Park. Both Selvin and the Medusan engineer were overlooking the capital city from a buttressing cliff.

“It is a shame that the Eonessans won’t allow us to beam down to their planet anymore,” Silane added. Selvin nodded.

“I did find their architecture…agreeable,” he allowed.

“Agreed,” Silane said. “Though there was so much I looked forward to learning so much more about the Eonessans than their architecture.”

“The Eonessan Parliament barred us from venturing onto their planet, though they did accept the protectorate status,” the Vulcan replied. “There isn’t much we can do now but review the knowledge we have already gained until there is a change in the political climate.”

“Yes,” Silane was sad. He floated in circles, mulling over his thoughts. “But I just wasn’t thinking of us, I was thinking of Yoyodyne and Aeneas. Their crews will likely not be allowed to meet the Eonessans and explore their world, but be stuck on dreary patrol duty.”

“Not every job in Starfleet is glamorous,” Selvin said. “But the potential to learn is ever present. There is much of this system that remains unexplored.”

“You are correct,” Silane said. “Thanks for cheering me up.”

“My intention was not to evoke an emotional response,” Selvin replied.

“Of course it wasn’t,” the Medusan chuckled, or what approximated to a chuckle. He floated circles around the Vulcan before coming to rest beside him, at eye level. “You know the capital is majestic, with the wonderful lighting, it almost looks…romantic.”

“I wouldn’t be able to judge that,” Selvin replied dryly.

“Perhaps because you don’t try,” Silane said. As if on cue the doors to the holodeck parted and Dr. Xylia stepped in.

Selvin’s expression tightened and Xylia looked uncomfortable. “I didn’t know you would be here,” both nearly said at the same time. Then both turned to the Medusan for an explanation, their tones with varying strains of accusation.

“Is it a crime to spend a holodeck session with friends?” He chuckled again.
************************************************** ***************

Hydroponics Lab
USS Aldebaran

The couple walked among the plant life, the captain plucking a Kaferian apple, his sweet tooth starting to get the better of him. Before he could take a bite, Rozi asked, “How was your session with Counselor Banyan?”

Anticipating the question, and dreading it a bit, Awokou said, “You’ve both talked me out of resigning, if that’s what you meant. But the nightmares….there’s not much he can do about those.”

“I know,” she wrapped her arm around his and pulled him closer. She rested her head against his bicep. “It’s just going to take time.”

He nodded, his desire for the apple suddenly evaporating. He didn’t want to waste it however so he began quietly munching on it. They walked in silence while he ate. After he threw the core into a receptacle, Rozi said. “I’m here for you.”

“But what about the new orders?” Awokou asked, “Command needs skilled first contact officers for upcoming missions.

“Well there are incoming droves of refugees from the Delta Quadrant, perhaps Aldebaran will be assigned to one of those and I can stay aboard.”

“It’s just as likely they won’t assign Aldebaran to any more first contact missions,” Awokou said darkly. “They see me as unpredictable now.”

“How can they punish you for saving the Eonessan people?” Rozi was disbelieving.

“Who knows how the politics will shake out?” Awokou replied, “And certainly the Satie Administration has been reluctant about taking on new responsibilities, even though they have been forced to. I just gave them a new headache.”

Rozi squeezed his arm. “All for the right reasons.”

“But still,” Awokou shook his head, “I can’t help thinking some higher up now thinks I will add create more headaches and want me out of the way. I might not even keep Aldebaran.”

“They won’t do that to you,” Rozi promised, though there were cracks in her confidence, “Not after all you’ve done, all you’ve sacrificed.”

“I just don’t know,” Awokou said, unable to hide his sadness. “All my life I’ve journeyed into the unknown, but this is one trip I don’t want to take.”

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Old September 9 2014, 09:36 PM   #52
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

I loved this story, Darkush. Great work! I could see this ship and crew popping up again.
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Old September 10 2014, 04:47 AM   #53
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

A messy, awkward, and unsatisfying ending for everyone involved in this venture... exactly the kind of conclusion I love.

So many sacrifices here, with the use of an Alpha Weapon, and Banti's ongoing struggle to find himself again in the shadow of Lakesh.

Really fantastic work here, DarKush. I had no idea where you were taking this story, and that made the finale that much more memorable. Kudos.
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Old September 14 2014, 12:37 PM   #54
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

Tough and thoughtful ending to this one.

For me, the most interesting and perhaps controversial decision was Awokou's use of the fractal inversion field and the position it placed him in. How many people exactly did the use of that weapon kill? And did Awokou do enough to warn them of such an outcome if they persisted? Was it alright to kill a few thousands to help protect millions? And what about the Prime Directive? After all neither the Eonessans nor the Vidiians were affiliated with the Federation or even asked for Awokou's assistance. Should he have perhaps stayed out of this entire affair altogether?

I have no answers to any of those questions but I love that this story has forced us to face them.

They are the kind of questions I would think Starfleet Academy ethic classes would ponder for years to come to try and determine if Awokou's actions are an example to be followed or to avoid at any cost.

And then of course what's to become of the captain who has suffered far too much already? I'd love to see another story about him and this crew, especially since you've spent such time flashing out even some of the more minor characters.
The greatest shame perhaps might be how ungrateful the Eonessans are after Aldebaran pretty much saved their collective asses at such a high cost. Curious to find out what will happen to them down the road, along with the Vidiians who remain on the galactic most wanted list.

Excellent stuff here.
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Old September 16 2014, 10:25 PM   #55
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

Thanks Admiral, Gibraltar, and CeJay. I appreciate your comments. This story started out easy, the character moments at least, but then it got very hard to write. I was struggling through a lot of it and I guess it came out better than I could hope.

As for the ending I'm not completely sure it satisfies. I had toyed around with doing a coda to give more closure but then just decided to leave the questions hanging. It was an ambiguous ending perhaps to an ambiguous story. I mean, who was right or wrong here? Does Starfleet/Federation have any authority to prosecute the Vidiians for something that happened in the Delta Quadrant, and happened years ago? And where's the proof?

As for the Prime Directive I thought that mainly concerned interfering in the development of pre-warp societies which wouldn't apply for the Eonessans and the Vidiians.

I think you raise some good points CeJay regarding the cost of using the Alpha Weapons. But after the Dominion War and the near genocide of the Cardassians, and the slow genocide of the Aaamazzarites, I could see Awokou making sure to never allow something like that to happen on his watch, whatever the cost.

As for whether this ship and crew will show up again, I don't know. Right now I'm not sure where they will stand or how their actions will be perceived by Starfleet Command. I don't have a ready story to plop them into or one that is made just for them. I might come up with something down the line, but it's not a definite.
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Old September 17 2014, 12:39 AM   #56
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Re: UT-TFV: Quality of Mercy

I'm pretty certain the PD also applies to interfering with warp and advanced civilizations' internal affairs, e.g. Sisko was not allowed to get involved in Bajoran Civil War, Picard couldn't get involved in Klingon Civil War, etc.

Granted, the situation is slightly more complicated here as it involves a number of foreign powers already influencing or seeking to influence the Eonessans.
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