Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Rush Limborg, May 23, 2012.
Okay--now for the last chapter for this week. Monday will see a series of chapters that go together. SO--we cut to President Bacco.
A quick note: when I was first writing this story, Rough Beasts Of Empire had not yet come out. Originally, the Pact members Ezri was getting grief from was the Romulan Empire. Obviously, with the book's publication, I had to re-write a lot. One of the changes: When Sorak noted the killing of the civilians and subsequent use of their identites (he noted that it was a Tal Shiar operation), L'Haan had, after musing, Such...brutality, she reflected on how disquieting it was that their "cousins" from Romulus could do something so savage.
Anyway--the original version of the following chapter involved Empress Donatra. Obviously...that had to be changed, and her dialogue had had to be re-written to fit Ambassador Spock. Ah, the turmoils of continuity....
Star Trek: Aventine
Our Sacred Honor
Nan Bacco sat in the presidential office, wishing there was something she could do—something to end this mindless charade of a hearing.
She sighed, rising from her chair, stepping to the window. She looked out at the Parisian skyline, taking in all the sights.
There was the Eiffel Tower—the famous relic of the Industrial Revolution. There was the Notre Dame cathedral—the mighty, awe-inspiring work of Gothic beauty. The first structure, a monument to human progress and innovation—the second, a monument to the majesty and power of faith, and “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence”, as one of her historical heroes wrote.
Bacco wasn’t exactly a faithful “born-again” zealot…but she nonetheless understood the power and appeal of seeking a higher power—the appeal to heaven, to affect one’s fate for the better. She recalled having some good conversations on that, with a delegation from Bajor.
And so, she closed her eyes, her thoughts and feelings sincere. Please…don’t let this woman be burned at the stake like this. If there’s any justice in the universe—don’t let it be denied to her.
The intercom came on. “Madame President?”
Bacco sighed, and turned. “Yes, what is it?”
“You have incoming transmissions from Chancellor Martok and Ambassador Spock—holocom, priority channel.”
Bacco stiffened. She had a pretty good idea what these two had to say. She walked over to the front of her desk, to be seen completely by two allies in this cruel universe. “Patch it through.”
“Yes, Madame President. Commencing…now.”
Two life-size three-dimensional images appeared before her. To the right was Martok, chancellor of the Klingon Empire. Tall, strong, with a bearing defining the words “powerful” and “imposing”, he bore the scars of many battles, many wars—not the least of which had been his internment in a Dominion stronghold, which had resulted in a missing eye, a solemn reminder of a battle won…yet a battle lost.
Bacco remembered how Martok had broken protocol completely and endorsed her—well, not really “endorsed”, just made it painfully clear whom he supported—for president. It was only natural, considering how her opponent, Arafel Pagro, had been a quasi-isolationist who’d engaged in defamation of the Empire which often bordered on slander. Bacco remembered with an inner smile how she’d laid down the law on Pagro in their only debate, pointing out that under Martok, the Empire had begun to engage in an extensive series of reforms, not the least of which involved the treatment of races under its domain.
To the left stood a figure out of legend—Spock, ambassador of the Federation—and now, head of the newly-legitimized Unification movement in the Romulan Star Empire. Bacco knew of the recent death of Tal’Aura, and the rise to power of a new Praetor, Gell Kamemor—who had been for much of her long and illustrious career an advocate of a peace between the Romulans, the Klingons, and the Federation. Thus, it was no surprise that upon her assuming power, Kamemor had accepted Spock’s movement as legit, ending the long period of persecution escalated by her predecessor.
Frankly, Bacco was more astonished that the new Senate had chosen her to be the new Praetor. It seemed like a most radical change in politics. Not that she was complaining, but still….
Spock looked a bit drained—and Bacco didn’t blame him. She knew of the ambassador’s secret negotiations with the late, lamented Empress Donatra, to secure safe haven for the members of his movement from Tal’Aura. Officially, Donatra had claimed to denounce the Movement. Unofficially…well, at the very least, she’d welcomed what was clearly a further threat to the power of Praetor Tal’Aura.
But then—something had apparently happened, which both the ambassador and the empress had been extremely tight-lipped about—something which had caused the negotiation to fall to pieces…and from what Bacco had heard, had led Spock to suspect that Donatra had been behind the attempt on his life, in the events leading up to Donatra’s arrest and suicide—and Tal’Aura’s own death. The ambassador had discovered too late that he’d been duped—probably by Tal’Aura—into becoming an unwitting pawn in an attempt to re-absorb the Imperial Romulan State into the Praetor’s domain.
So many things these days, Bacco mused, just don’t make sense.
Driving the thoughts from her mind, she smiled and began, “Chancellor…Ambassador… what can I do for you?”
Martok spoke up, in a reserved, yet challenging tone. “You can explain yourselves, Madam President.”
Bacco blinked. “I assume you’re referring to the hearings concerning—”
“What else? I never thought the Federation would be so…disgraceful—until four days ago, when I was informed of this great lump of targ waste—”
“Chancellor, before you go on,” Bacco interrupted, biting her lip, “It may interest you—both of you—to know that I feel the same way about this.”
“If I may be so bold, Madam President,” Spock spoke up, “The Council appears to feel otherwise.”
“I’m aware of that—which is why my hands are tied. I can’t dismiss this if the Council feels led to continue—and it does.”
Spock frowned at this. “Perhaps. But to be frank, Madam President…I find it most fascinating that they would succumb to the wishes of a hostile power so easily.”
Bacco sighed. “As do I. But Ambassador, you must understand…we don’t have the luxury of having been formally declared an enemy of the Pact. Unless and until that happens—”
“Neither have we,” said Martok, “That hardly prevents me from giving my opinion on those treacherous yIntagh—”
“Chancellor,” Bacco spoke up, “You must also understand that the Federation is still recovering from the Borg. We were hit by it a lot harder than you were—and to be honest, while you may have a strong enough defense to back up such a posture, we don’t.”
I hope I didn’t just sound desperate….
“With all respect, Madam President,” Spock replied, “I trust this does not imply you are defending such…smear-mongering.”
“I’m not ‘defending’ anything. I firmly believe that Ezri Dax is innocent, and—”
“You don’t seem to be acting on that belief,” Martok snorted.
Bacco mentally counted to ten. “Chancellor…If I could, I would. Few understand more than me how much Dax means to the Federation. We all owe her our lives. But—if the Council decides that the Confederacy’s claims are valid…I have no choice but to stand there, numb my conscience, look that girl right in the eye—and pronounce her guilty!”
After a minute of silence at this, Martok spoke in a measured tone. “That ‘girl’…is a member of the House of Martok, Madame President. Understand, she is,” he let out a small sigh, “almost like a daughter.”
Spock raised an eyebrow at this. “Indeed?”
Martok gave a smirk. “Her predecessor was married to…an adopted brother—former-Ambassador Worf.”
Spock nodded. “Fascinating….”
Bacco had to fight not to sigh. This just keeps getting better and better….
Martok let out a deep, throaty laugh. “Absolutely! It was his idea that I accept Ezri Dax, on the grounds that she was a worthy successor to Jadzia. I would say that was an understatement. To call her an ‘honorable woman’ would not give her enough credit.”
Bacco nodded. “I understand, Chancellor.”
Martok’s gaze turned firm, his tone serious. “See that you do. And I would advise you to inform the Council: If Ezri Dax is convicted—I will personally take it as…a great insult to the honor of my House.”
Bacco felt a smile. “Thank you, Chancellor. I’ll be sure to pass that on.”
“Very good, Madame President. Now, if the two of you will excuse me, I have other matters to take care of.”
Bacco nodded. “Of course, Chancellor.”
Martok returned the nod, and raised his fist to his heart in the Klingon salute. “Madam President…may you succeed in your battles with the treacherous within your borders.”
Bacco smiled, and returned the salute. “Thank you, Chancellor.”
Martok acknowledged Spock. “Ambassador….”
Spock nodded. “Chancellor….”
The Klingon returned the nod, and his image disappeared.
Bacco turned to the Vulcan. “Ambassador…I take it you feel the same way?”
“I do, Madame President. I myself have become acquainted with Captain Dax. I would not wish to be deprived of such a…”
Bacco smiled. “…friendship?”
Spock nodded. “Yes. She is a most…remarkable person. Were I not on Romulus—I would address the Council on her behalf.”
“Well…I’m sure she’d be pleased to know she has your support, either way.”
“Of course. Perhaps you could pass my feelings on this to the Council, along with the Chancellor’s?”
Bacco nodded. “I will. But I’m not convinced it’ll have any effect.”
“In the Chancellor’s case, I’m sure this could be interpreted as…battle lines being drawn.”
Spock nodded slowly. “I see.”
“I’d rather it not come to that. As I told Martok…we don’t have the resources for a war.”
“In the event of a war, Madam President…you will clearly have the support of the Chancellor. Furthermore, I believe I am fully capable of negotiating an alliance with the Praetor, to a similar effect.”
Bacco chuckled. “Well, I don’t doubt it…but honestly—you two are at the wrong end of us. If the Breen make good on their threats, the Tholians will doubtless decide to assist. The Cardassians are in little better shape than we are. And…the Ferengi…”
Spock raised an eyebrow in apparent amusement. “I see. Nonetheless…one might call this scenario most…shameful, for the Council to be willing to sacrifice the Captain in this manner.”
“Well, as Vulcans say, ‘The needs of the many…’.”
Spock’s lip seemed to tighten. “Madam President…that adage is defined as expressing the necessity of personal sacrifice—not suppression of the rights of the individual.”
Bacco spread out her hands. “I know…but as I said, my hands are tied. I…I’m sorry, Ambassador.”
“Madame President, it is…illogical to apologize for actions for which you have no responsibility. I do not hold you responsible, should the Captain be pronounced guilty.”
Bacco shook her head. “Ambassador—if there’s a way out of this, I’ll take it. I promise you.”
“Of course, Madame President. Live long, and prosper.”
“Peace and long life, Ambassador.”
Spock’s image vanished.
Bacco sighed, rubbing her forehead. Curse those Borg, anyway—and the Tholians, while we’re at it, for joining this Bird-forsaken “Pact”, and causing it to surround us on all sides. What was their excuse? Oh yes—we didn’t ask them for help against the Borg. Sure—let’s not bring up that they weren’t available for help against the Borg.
And the Gorn—of all people. All those years of my life, building a trust with them—and guess what? It all turns out to be for nothing! They’re a Pact of back-stabbing hypocrites—every single one of them.
And those back-stabbing hypocrites had the Council on a leash—or Gleer’s wing of the Council, at the very least. And I’m almost afraid to discover exactly how powerful he is—which I doubtless will, when this hearing ends….
* * *
A lot of Ezri love in this chapter. Looks like all the love in the universe isn't going to make things easier for your protagonist in this story.
Nope--and basically, that's the point. Though Martok, and Spock, and President Bacco all want to see her acquitted--there's, in the end, nothing they can really do. As Bacco noted, the Council will probably not feel it'd be worth going to war, over one person--even if she is a heroine.
She could well be a scapegoat, for the sake of preserving the peace. Accomodation--appeasement, if you will.
Wow, it's just not any easier in terms of the political wisdom of prosecuting and possibly convicting Ezri. It's one of those painful reminders that the UFP President is not a autocrat, unlike the Chancellor of the Klingon Empire or the Praetor of the Romulan Empire.
Funny you should bring that up--before the big rewrite, as I mentioned, I'd had Empress Donatra in the scene, instead of Spock. The idea was, it was a meeting of the Big Three of the Khitomer Alliance. Here, I basically rewrote her lines for Spock.
Anyway--in the "old" version, there's actually a bit more emphasis on the fact that the presisdent doesn't have the power that Donatra (or Martok) has. Where Bacco and Spock discuss "needs of the many" was where I'd had Donatra note, "It’s such a shame that politics must decide the good captain’s fate. In my State, Dax would be acquitted before any ‘hearing’—on my command.” To which Bacco replied, "It's the price of check and balances, Empress."
[rant] Thanks a lot, DRGIII. I had to lose some darn good material, thanks to your book taking place before ZSG!!! *sigh* [/rant]
I think, like I did with From Risa With Love, I'll post the deleted/alternate scenes after I'm finished posting the tale itself.
I know I haven't commented on the last few posts - I've been tied up in personal concerns - but I'm still reading and still enjoying. I'll probably write more come the next installment on Monday, but I wanted to give a wave and show I'm still here. Oh, and two little things I particularly liked from the latest chapter:
A nice reminder that the political situation could be even more complex than already assumed, to say nothing of the personal and ethical factors influencing the decision-making. It's all tied together, and each aspect of the situation makes the decisions that must be made harder and potentially more troubling. It really drives home both what a mess this is - and so reinforces the sense of crisis that justifies a story of this scope - and how hard it is to weigh up so many different and conflicting concerns, which both defines Ezri's responsibilities as a starfleet captain and Bacco's as a politician. So that little reminder of Dax's relationship to Martok reinforces one of the central arguments that the piece rests upon - acknowledgement that there aren't easy answers (or at least, and perhaps more accurately, that there aren't answers or decisions that don't carry serious consequences).
I'm always glad when someone points that out. Too often I see people use that quote to buttress a position that depends upon impressing or imposing on others (to varying degrees of severity), where it's clearly intended to justify the choice of the individual to freely sacrifice for others. Spock chose to die to save his friends and comrades without pressure on their part or true requirement on his; he wasn't dragged in there and locked in by the others to save their own skins (to go for the most extreme alternative ).
^As usual, my friend, you hit the nail on the head--and sink it all the way in, with one swing.
Yeah--poor Bacco is caught between a rock and a hard place.
On the one hand: she has the Breen--and by extention, their allies--calling for Ezri's head on a silver platter, or else.
On the other hand...she has the Chancellor of the Klingon Empire--which is legendary for not taking any crap--demanding Ezri's acquittal...or else!
Not a good week for Nan--to put it mildly.
Glad you're still loving it, my friend! I hope your problems all work out, for you.
Now, back to Ezri--and a couple visitors.
I should note before we begin--let me assure everyone that I'm not trying to "rush" things, and pull a reconciliation out of the blue, regarding the characters in this sequence.
As for Ezri, her mindset comes out of my already-posted tale "Serenity Prayer".
Star Trek: Aventine
Our Sacred Honor
Ezri Dax’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the doors from the office opening. She looked up, rising from the seat for whoever was entering the hall.
Her heart skipped a beat when she saw who it was. When she could bring herself to say something, it was barely above a whisper:
Dr. Julian Bashir stood there with a small, sad smile, Sarina Douglass standing beside him.
“Hi, Ezri,” he said, in the same quiet tone.
Of all the people who’d be here…who’d come here…
She managed to say, “Well, I—I’m glad to see you again, but…what are you doing here?”
Julian looked off for a moment, his smile fading.
Ezri shook her head. “I’m sorry—that…that didn’t come out right.”
“No, it’s all right. I just…I heard about what was happening. I’ve been watching—we’ve all been watching this.”
Ezri nodded slowly, and frowned. “Where is everyone?”
Julian sighed. “Well…otherwise occupied—I’m lucky I was able to leave. Still…everyone’s quite involved in what’s going on.” He smirked. “Nerys wanted to storm over here and dress down the lot of them.”
Ezri chuckled a bit at this. “I take it you calmed her down a bit on that.”
“Perhaps…but I’d say she speaks for all of us.”
Ezri nodded slowly, and then turned to the woman by his side. “Hi, Sarina.”
Sarina seemed to swallow a bit, as if all too aware of the awkwardness of the whole thing. “Hello, Captain.”
Ezri turned back to Julian. “So…how is everyone?”
Julian stiffened slightly, as if unsure of whether to bring something unfortunate up. Finally, he said, “Fine…for the most part. Kira’s a Vedek, now.”
Ezri’s eyes widened. “A Vedek!”
“Oh, yes. Sisko’s remarked that he sees her becoming Kai, some day.”
Ezri nodded. “So…how is Ben?”
Julian looked as if he was suppressing his immediate reaction to the question. “Well…perhaps he’d prefer to tell you himself, when this is over.”
Ezri frowned. “I hope nothing’s wrong.”
“I’m not sure. It’s just…” he shrugged. “I don’t know.”
Ezri stared at him for a moment, unsure of what to make of this. Logging this curiosity in her mind, she made a mental note to call her old friend after all this, and ask what in heaven’s name was going on.
“Well, with all that’s happening,” she finally said, “It doesn’t look too good for any of us, does it?”
Sarina spoke up. “To be honest, Captain…from the looks of things, it won’t be long before actual fighting breaks out. With what happened with the Romulans—well, my superiors think there are some major power plays going on. The Pact members are all trying to come out on top, showing strength, that sort of thing. And if a war should start—that could be the perfect moment for someone to emerge as the leader.”
Ezri nodded. “They all just want us to look like the ones who started it….”
Sarina returned the nod, “Exactly.”
“Well…what are the odds the Romulans will switch sides? I’ve heard the new Praetor was famous for being a friend of ours—”
“Uh, Captain—even if she still is our friend…she needs the Senate behind her. I wouldn’t take for granted that she’s on our side.”
Ezri sighed. “Right…” she whispered in frustration. This just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?
Julian cleared his throat, turning to her. “Um…Sarina, could you excuse us for a moment?”
Both women turned to him in astonishment. What—what’s this all about? Ezri wondered.
Sarina finally nodded in apparent understanding. She turned back to Ezri, and said, “If it’s all right with you, Captain…I’d like to have a few minutes after him—to discuss…your current situation.”
Of course. She’s with Starfleet Intelligence. That should be interesting.
Ezri nodded. “That’d be great.”
Sarina excused herself, and left the hall.
Julian paused for a moment, as if gathering himself, and pressed the control on the wall, turning off the force field.
Ezri stepped aside for him, hands clasped behind her back, suddenly aware that she hadn’t felt this tense since that time in Sickbay, almost seven years ago, when she’d tried to explain to Julian why she’d been avoiding him….
Now, isn’t it ironic that I should think about that…?
Julian was slowly pacing around the cell, as if unsure of how to begin. She couldn’t blame him at all. After all, last time they’d talked—or more appropriately, tried to talk…
Ezri stiffened at that. Gathering herself, she said, “It’s…good to see you again, Julian.”
He turned to her, with a small smile. “Same here. I suppose…neither of us thought it would be this soon, after…”
Ezri closed her eyes, her head lowered. “I know.”
She remembered, after what had happened between them, during what was supposed to be a nice, sentimental dinner in her quarters on the Aventine…she’d made it a point not to interact with him any more than she had to—which meant, not until she saw him and Sarina off, as they beamed back to DS9. The pain over…the incident…had been too much for her. She’d basically been in a state of shock for the whole mission: cold, professional, refusing to feel anything. Simon had helped her recover after the aftermath, but…
She opened her eyes, bringing herself to meet his gaze. “About that…”
He said nothing, looking at her patiently.
“Julian,” Ezri asked, “Are…you up for an apology?”
Julian frowned in concern. “For what?”
Ezri shook her head in bewilderment. “‘For what’? Are you serious?”
He sighed. “Ezri…”
“Julian—last time we were alone, I called you a moonstruck, incompetent—”
“As I recall, I all but accused you of self-dishonesty and hypocrisy.”
“Only after I said you were just risking your life for—”
“Ezri,” Julian calmly held up his hand.
Ezri froze—and broke her gaze, shaking her head with an embarrassed chuckle. “Oh, there I go again…” she muttered, to herself more than to him.
Arguing over arguing. I should be better than that—I was a counselor!
Julian sighed, and resumed his pacing for a moment. Finally, he stopped, and turned to face her. “To be honest, Ezri…it’s not as if I didn’t deserve it all.”
She turned to him, astonished. “What—of course you didn’t!”
“No…really. I didn’t want to admit it, but…you may have been right. Maybe I—maybe I was too arrogant, letting my…emotions get the better of me. I—” he swallowed, “I can’t tell you how many times on that mission I found myself—well, in over my head.”
He’s blaming himself. I can’t—
He looked off, and sighed. “You know…come to think of it, even Sarina told me the only reason I was coming on the mission was—because…”
Ezri shook her head. “No—Julian…whether I was right or not, I know—better than most people, I think—how well you can handle yourself, regardless of what you’re doing. It wasn’t my place to question your abilities, or your…” she stared at the floor, “your choice of…”
Ezri swallowed a bit, and raised her head to meet his gaze. “Yes…” she managed to say.
I’ve lost that right a long time ago…haven’t I? I left you—it was my choice, regardless of how bad that choice was. How could you know whether I’d have a change of heart—of course you’d find someone else! Who am I to get angry at you for that? It’s my own fault, isn’t it?
Julian looked at her sympathetically for a moment, as if he’d heard her latest thoughts. Finally, he said in a near whisper, “I don’t blame you. Were I in your position…I’m not so sure I wouldn’t have responded the same way. It’s only…”
Ezri smiled. “…human?”
Julian chuckled. “For lack of a better term.”
“Still…it was wrong of me. There was no excuse for it—at all.”
Julian didn’t respond, looking as though he was thinking the same thing—about himself. For a while…they stared at one another in silence, unsure of what to say. Finally, Ezri brought herself to speak again.
“We were afraid of something like that happening…weren’t we?”
He frowned at her. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, when we first…came together. Weren’t we afraid of going too fast, because of our—our friendship?”
Julian stared at the ground for a moment. “I remember,” he muttered.
Ezri nodded. “We said that…if it didn’t work out—it would destroy what we already…”
Julian looked at her. “You think it did?”
Ezri flinched, and sighed. “I think…it caused a lot of pain—for both of us. And every time we saw each other, it got harder and harder not to feel…”
She nodded. “I guess…we had a lot buried up inside…didn’t we?”
Julian paused for a moment, and asked, “Can we sit down?”
“Oh—of course! Right here…”
They sat on the bench, not too far apart, but…Ezri knew the gap formed six years ago hadn’t gone away.
After a while, she shook her head. To herself more than to him, she muttered, “You know something? I told myself that if I just gave it time, I’d be able to heal. But…somehow, it just…it didn’t happen.”
“Not for me, either,” Julian said.
Ezri looked to him. Julian was gazing off, as if deep in thought….
Ezri felt a tugging at her heart—of sympathy, of compassion, but mostly of guilt, over the loneliness in Julian’s soul—the loneliness that she had caused in him. “I know…” she whispered, blinking back a tear.
The appropriate words to follow would have been that she didn’t know why they didn’t heal—but of course, that would’ve been a lie. She knew all too well, for about a year now. And—she wanted to tell him. Everything inside her begged for the chance to tell him the truth—the truth about how she felt, how she still felt.
But—but she couldn’t. She knew all too well that now, of all times, was the wrong time. The last thing she needed was to go into a penal colony knowing she’d caused him that kind of pain—the guilt of knowing that she still loved him, but was unable to do anything about it, for however years she’d be sentenced.
But, even if she hadn’t been in that kind of situation…there was still Sarina. She had no right to risk destroying what solace and comfort Julian now had in his new relationship—it would be a blow far worse than anything she’d ever done before.
Ezri swallowed, and continued, “And I am sorry, Julian. For everything.”
Julian turned to her at this, and replied, “Ezri, regardless of whatever’s happened between us…I still consider you one of my dearest friends, in the entire universe. Nothing can ever change that.”
Ezri blinked a bit, feeling a smile. “Really?”
Julian returned the smile in full, and nodded. “And again—you were probably right. My reaction was…well, I suppose you could call it proof of that. I was so stuck on the idea of my being right…that I shut out any advice to the contrary. Sometimes, I suppose, I can be very…stubborn.”
Ezri raised an eyebrow. “Remind you of anyone?”
They shared a chuckle at this. Julian shrugged, and said, “Well, I…suppose I’m trying to say that I’m sorry too, for what happened last time.”
Ezri nodded slowly. “So…do we forgive each other, for that?”
Julian smiled. “Of course,” he extended a hand. “Friends?”
Ezri felt a grin of her own, as she took it. “Friends.”
She noticed they held on for a moment longer than necessary. But then…it was a very important moment in their lives, wasn’t it?
When they let go, they stared off at the opposite wall for a while. Finally, Ezri added, “I just wanted you to know…in case…”
She let her voice trail off, finishing only in her heart.
…in case this turns out for the worst. I know I can’t tell you that I love you, Julian…but at least, I didn’t want what happened, then, to be—to be the last word between us….
Julian nodded, and asked, “How are you handling…all this?”
Ezri sighed, almost in relief for getting off the previous subject. “I don’t know. One moment, I’m absolutely certain I did the right thing. The next…I find myself wondering if I’m not getting exactly what I deserve.”
Julian blinked, staring at her in astonishment. “What…Ezri! You’re nothing like—like what they’re accusing you of!”
She turned to him, as a thought—and a memory—suddenly came to her. “Am I?”
“You can’t be serious. They’re calling you a reckless murderer with no regard for the rules or the peace.”
“And nothing! It’s disgraceful—do they even realize what they’re doing?”
Ezri paused for a moment. “You know…a year ago, I’d have said the exact same thing. But…after our mission…”
Julian shook his head. “What are you talking about?”
Ezri stiffened, slowly letting out a sigh, finding herself haunted…haunted by a memory all too recent.
“Julian…” she said, “When we came to your rescue, I made absolutely sure no one else could escape. I…all those people—I-I let them all die…and then just sat back, and let Command spin it, and claim that I’d intended to rescue them—I was just too late.”
She blinked back a tear. “Julian, w-would it have been wrong if…if I had tried to save them—for real?”
“Ezri…you did what you had to do.”
Ezri tried her best to force a smile…but couldn’t. “That what I’ve always told myself. But…all those people, Julian. They’re dead because of me. I…”
She turned away, staring at the floor. She’d never admitted those feelings to anyone—not even herself. She’d refused to dwell on what had happened for so long…and now, somehow, the memory came back to torment her, at the worst possible time.
That station…that laboratory—destroyed. And all those people with it…just so things would be “clean”.
She finally managed to say, “Maybe…maybe I’m finally being punished for that—just not in the way I’d expected.”
“Ezri, listen to me. You know as well as I did, we couldn’t take the risk that some of them might have…exposed the truth of what had happened—what Sarina and I were doing.”
Julian looked off for a moment, with a bitter smile, “Come to think of it…I did a lot of things on that mission I’m not proud of. But…I came to understand that it was either do those things, or allow millions more to die in a war that none of us would really be prepared for.”
“I know,” Ezri muttered, “But I still feel like I got away with something I shouldn’t have. Whether I needed to do it or not…sometimes, I think I—that I have to go through some kind of penance for it—at least.”
Julian turned to her. “And you think that’s what’s happening now—Fate, coming back to haunt you?”
Ezri shook her head. “Julian…I just don’t know.”
Julian sighed, saying nothing for a while. And then…Ezri felt him, as he put a reassuring hand on her shoulder.
She looked to him, frankly stunned by the gesture—although, to be honest…she suddenly realized it meant more to her than anything else he could have done.
“Ezri,” he said warmly, “I don’t believe that for a moment. No matter what anyone says…you don’t deserve this—any of this.”
“You…how can you be sure of that?”
He smiled. “I know you.”
Ezri said nothing…just stared at him in silence, unsure of how to respond.
Do you really know me, Julian? Do you understand what I’m feeling, right now? Do you understand…understand why I exploded like I did, in my quarters, then? Do you understand all the frustration I felt—all the pain I went through, when I’d first realized—no, first accepted—what I’d done?
How can I, let alone you, accept that I’m the same person you knew…the same woman you fell in love with—after all that’s happened?
Julian met her gaze, his eyes firm, and certain. “Ezri,” he continued, “You are nothing like what they’re accusing you of. Didn’t Sam say, yesterday, that your respect for life—and the rules that protect it—would never allow you to take it so recklessly?”
“Well, he’s right.”
Her gaze fell. “I don’t know…I just feel like I’ve changed too much for my own good.”
“Well, I do know.” His voice turned firm. “You’re a very…a very special person, Ezri—nothing can change that. And no matter what happens…I’ll always believe in you.”
She looked up at him, stunned silent. After all that had happened before…all she’d done to him…he could say all that—so simply, so clearly?
He smiled, and rose from the bench. “I’ll be at the hearings, for the rest of it all. I suppose…I felt it was the least I could do.”
Ezri stood, and replied, “Well, my testimony’s the day after tomorrow. They apparently want to hear the statements from the Breen about this whole thing, first.”
Julian nodded. “I take it…you won’t be there, tomorrow?”
“No…I’ve heard it all before. They aren’t requiring me to, anyway.”
“All right. I’ll be there Friday, then, to hear you speak.”
Julian turned to go, but Ezri spoke up. “Julian?”
He turned to her, and she walked up to him, looking deep into his eyes.
“Thank you,” she said.
Julian smiled, and replied, “Give them everything you’ve got.”
Ezri smiled. “I intend to.”
There was nothing she wanted more, right then, to give him a quick kiss on the cheek, in gratitude for all he had said and done for her tonight. But…she knew she couldn’t. It would be far too cruel…for both of them.
And for Sarina, a voice in the back of her mind couldn’t resist adding. Which reminded her—
“So,” she said, “Sarina said she wanted to talk to me….”
Julian seemed to stiffen a bit, as if at an unfortunate jolt back to reality—or was that just her imagination? “Right,” he quietly replied, and stepped back, hesitating for a moment before reluctantly turning the field back on.
“Good luck out there,” he said.
Ezri nodded. “To both of us.”
As she watched him leave, Ezri put a hand to her shoulder for a moment, feeling where Julian had held her a few minutes before.
For goodness sake, Ezri—don’t get your hopes up, like that. That’s what got you into trouble last time, wasn’t it? It’s not like he kissed you, or held you tight in his arms, or anything. All he did was put his hand on your shoulder. Friends do that all the time, don’t they?
But…it wasn’t just that—it was how well he’d accepted what she’d said, how easily he had reconciled with her over that unfortunate night on the Aventine—how much of the canyon between them seemed to close so easily…just like that. Everything just seemed so…so impossibly right.
Was…was it possible…?
Oh, knock it off. That’s the last thing you should be thinking—especially considering who’s talking to you next!
And so, she shoved away those thoughts for another time, as she mentally prepared to be interviewed by Sarina Douglass.
* * *
As someone who has read "Serenity Prayer", this type of reconciliation doesn't seem so "out of the blue". Still can't wait to see the upcoming discussion between Ezri and Sarina.
Just got caught up on this. You write at an enviable rate!
I wasn't entirely convinced by the scene where Ezri watches the political commentators. It felt a little as if the author's own politics were on display here, but that might be my own wishy washy bleeding heart liberal views colouring my perceptions. That aside, well written with believable characterisation. And if the Typhon Pact and half the Federation Council are gunning for you, wouldn't you just want Spock and Martok on your side?
Well, I was actually referring to Julian, and how willing he seems to be to reconcile things.
Glad you're still liking it!
Well, as for the commentators--I'd say, recall that Ezri notes that there were others she was listening two, on both sides of the aisle--but none of the others were as bad as the angry anti-Starfleet ranter.
Meanwhile...deep inside the lair of Division 7, Section 31...
Star Trek: Aventine
Our Sacred Honor
Sorak took in the information, and asked, “You’re certain?”
“Affirmative, sir. We’ve confirmed more than once, just to be sure.”
He nodded, accepting the positive step. However…it was never good to end an investigation before it was complete. Inevitably, one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.
Nonetheless, this was a major step indeed. And so, he replied, “Congratulations on your progress. However, this may not prove to be sufficient. How are the other analyses proceeding?”
“We are on schedule. We should provide complete results by tomorrow, at 1300 hours.”
“Very good. Anything further?”
“Well done. Out.”
He rose from the desk, and went straight to the office of his now-nameless colleague, who sat behind the desk in the barely-lit room.
“What’ve we got?” the man asked.
“A most promising piece of evidence. Apparently, the Aventine crew report was entirely accurate when reporting that the vessel was overpowered, to the point of being sufficient to destroy an entire colony.”
“It was all on record, Sorak. And the Council has no reason to doubt the report.”
“Perhaps—but the Confederacy would dismiss the records as having been altered. Concrete proof, on the other hand, strongly damages the credibility of their claims.”
“And what proof do we have?”
“It was most difficult to piece together the wreckage; however…the team has been successful in doing so. They have detected specific energy signatures, coinciding with some most curious oddities in the scans taken by the Aventine.”
“It so happens that the allegedly civilian craft…was equipped with an experimental reactor, of the sort which would not have been used on a non-military vessel of any category.”
After a pause, the man asked, “I assume…it’s the same one.”
“Doubtless. The design matches the schematics perfectly—however, I will promptly confirm it, to be certain.”
“Well, if it is…then it looks as if our Captain Dax is in over her head, to put it mildly.”
“I should think so.”
“All right, Sorak. Tomorrow, you’re bringing this to L’Haan—along with anything else we find. After that, much as it pains me to admit it…it’s all on her.”
“Will that be all, then?”
“For tonight, I believe.”
The man gave him a nod of dismissal. Sorak exited to the corridor, to return to his office…to make contact with the Bureau’s moles in the Breen Confederacy.
* * *
I thought the previous segment dragged a bit, especially towards the end but the dialogue between Julian and Ezri was top notch. She sounded a little bit desperate at times, but I suppose that just shows how much she hasn't gotten over Julian.
Well, I think a big part of it is--she knows all too well that, if the's declared "guilty", and locked away--this could be the last chance she has to tell Julian what she's wanted to tell him, since "Rendezvous". But should she? Or is it enough to heal the "bad blood"?
Glad you're still liking it!
All right. Interestingly enough, this scene didn't exist in my original version of this story (before my computer crashed). Still, this scene came to me as necessary, as a kind of intensification of certain conflicts to come.
The reason this chapter is very short is because the scene it leads to is relatively long. So without further ado...
Star Trek: Aventine
Our Sacred Honor
Sarina Douglass shut off the device in her earring. She had it all—she didn’t need to record anything more, now that Julian was leaving the cell. She’d dropped the recorder as she’d walked out, herself—it was small enough to not be noticeable at all, unless you already knew it was there. Of course, it was also disposable—it transmitted everything to the device in her earring, where she could send it all to L’Haan. On that end, everything was fine.
But…it was what she heard—what she’d overheard—that unsettled her. In more ways than one.
She managed to keep her composure, though—for the sake of the security officers…and for Julian Bashir, who just came in from the hall where Ezri Dax sat in her cell.
Julian looked…well, tired. Drained…his face filled with regret—a sad nostalgia. And when he laid eyes on her—Sarina—he seemed to struggle, to fight to bottle those feelings back up.
He managed to smile. “All yours,” he said.
Sarina nodded, heading to the door—
But paused, as she noticed Julian heading to the exit. “Julian…?”
He sighed. “I’ll be going to the apartment—get some rest.”
She nodded. “Okay…I’ll be back there before you know it.”
He returned the nod—and left.
Before she went on…Sarina took note of the security officers, manning their consoles. They all went on their duties…all unaware of the great drama going on, in their vicinity.
She sighed, and braced herself, as she restored her professional exterior…and went to face Captain Ezri Dax.
* * *
And...here we go:
Star Trek: Aventine
Our Sacred Honor
Ezri had successfully gathered herself together by the time Sarina Douglass approached the cell. She’d had to forcibly remind herself to feel no bitterness or resentment to the other woman. She was innocent of any wrongdoing—honestly, what right did Ezri have to be jealous? She had no one to blame but herself—had she honestly thought Julian would somehow be one to wait for years for a second chance that might never come?
Besides, she’s here on business, not to settle any “score”. Stop being so childish.
She snapped back to reality as she nodded to Sarina Douglass. The other woman returned the nod, as she de-activated the force field, and stepped in.
Ezri couldn’t help but notice how Sarina seemed all too aware of the tension between them—and the reasons behind it. The agent paused, and seemed to struggle a bit in meeting her gaze.
Ezri cleared her throat. “You…said you wanted to talk to me about something?”
Sarina nodded. “That’s right. If it’s not too awkward to say so…my superiors are actually very interested in this hearing.”
Ezri raised an amused eyebrow at this—a habit she was becoming increasingly convinced she’d picked up from Spock. “Really! Am I that important?”
Sarina shrugged, with a smirk. “I’d say so. They’re currently wondering whether your courage is a threat to the peace, as the Breen claim…or a necessity for our border security.”
“Well—I’d imagine that’s keeping them busy!”
Sarina nodded. “You have no idea.”
Ezri gave a slight chuckle at the idea, and asked. “So…which way are they leaning?”
Sarina’s smile grew as she slowly shook her head. “No, I can’t tell you that, Captain. It might affect how you act on the witness stand.”
Ezri nodded. “Good point….” She tilted her head. “So, what are you authorized to tell me?”
“Oh…hang in there, we’re looking into the whole thing, we’ll find out the truth—the usual.”
Ezri nodded again, accepting the support. She found the resentment fading away from her—and for that, she was grateful.
Finally, she asked, “So, what did you want to…?”
“Oh, I guess I’m doing it right now,” Sarina shrugged, with a chuckle. “I guess you’ve heard how people like me can read others like books….”
Ezri smiled. “I’ve heard that. I take it you’re doing that to me, right now?”
Sarina spread out her hands sheepishly. “Guilty as charged.”
They shared a laugh. Ezri shook her head. “Well, it’s all right. I’ve done it a lot, in my career….”
Sarina nodded slowly. “Yeah…I’ve heard.”
Ezri sighed. “Of course, unlike you, I had to learn it.”
“How to read people?”
Ezri nodded. “Right…” She looked off with a smile. “Of course…not to sound immodest, but—I did learn it earlier than most.”
“Mm-hmm. I actually taught myself, come to think of it….”
Ezri sat down on her cot, as a warm, pleasant memory entered her mind. “I remember…one day, my father found me outside, writing something. He asked to see what it was…”
Her voice trailed off, as she turned to the other woman. Sarina was standing there, watching her intently, a look of…sadness in her eyes.
And then it hit Ezri—Sarina had been in a clinic for most of her life. She…probably didn’t even know her real father, let alone know him as a father.
“I-I’m sorry,” Ezri said in a near whisper. “I—”
Sarina shook her head. “It’s all right, Captain. I know what you’re thinking, but—I’m fine. I’ve…sort of had a father figure or two, since…everything, so I guess…I guess I can imagine what it’s like.”
Ezri nodded slowly. “I’m sure…. But I couldn’t think it’s the same thing.”
“No…I guess not.” Sarina hesitated for a moment, but asked, “So what was it?”
Ezri blinked. “What was…?”
“What did you show him?”
“Oh, well…” Ezri chuckled nervously. “It was…a psychological evaluation—of him.”
Sarina’s eyes widened a bit in admiration. “And…how old were you?”
“Eight or nine, I guess. It wasn’t exactly professional—just my thoughts about his personality, how he thinks, and all that.”
Ezri shrugged. “Well, I suppose I’d always wanted to understand people—why they do things, why they act the way they do…. I guess you could say it’s what led me into my first career.”
Sarina nodded slowly. Ezri couldn’t help but notice how still she was—how straight she stood, in the sense that she was trying to suppress an anxiety—trying to remain collected.
Ezri didn’t blame her. Camaraderie or not, the tension between the two of them still filled the room.
After a moment’s pause, Sarina asked, “Can I sit down, Captain?”
“Oh—of course you can! I forgot to ask—”
“It’s all right…” Sarina replied, as she sat down on the bench.
After a moment’s pause, apparently to gather herself, Sarina began, “Captain…you understand the charges being made against you?”
Ezri nodded. “Absolutely.”
“You know why they’re being made?”
“I’d say so.”
“And why are they?”
“Because my actions angered the Breen Confederacy, and possibly threaten what passes for peace between the Khitomer Alliance and the Typhon Pact.”
“But your first officer claimed that the ship in question was on a suicide mission to attack a colony.”
“Do you agree with his sentiment?”
“If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have given the order to fire.”
“So you think they’re the ones threatening the peace.”
Ezri sighed. “As a matter of fact, I do—whatever good that’s going to do me….”
Sarina paused, and leaned forward. “Captain…do you think you’re innocent of all the charges against you?”
Ezri blinked, momentarily startled. “Sarina…does my opinion really matter that much to your superiors?”
Sarina nodded slowly. “Absolutely, it does.”
Ezri returned the nod, gathered herself, and answered with all the sincerity in the universe: “I do.”
Sarina stared at her for a moment…and a smile of perception came to her face. “All right. Thank you, Captain.”
Ezri frowned. “That’s all?” she asked…wondering despite herself if the other girl were simply rushing things so as to get out as soon as possible.
Sarina chuckled. “Hey, I’ve got all I needed, after all. You’ve been more helpful than you’d think.”
Ezri felt a smile of her own. “My pleasure.”
Sarina rose to her feet. Ezri did the same, extending her hand. “So, I take it you’ll report to S.I. on this?”
For some reason, Sarina seemed to stiffen a bit—just a bit, it was barely noticeable—at this, but she clasped Ezri’s hand, shaking it. “Oh—of course.”
Sarina looked off for a moment. “Um…tonight.”
Ezri nodded. “That’s good.”
As they lowered hands, Sarina paused for a moment, and said, “We’ll get this all worked out, Captain—I promise.”
Ezri nodded again. “Thank you, Sarina.”
They met each other’s gaze in silence for a moment…and despite herself, Ezri couldn’t help but marvel at something that’d been in the back of her mind for a while.
It’s amazing. We’re so very much alike, aren’t we? I mean—not as far as our life stories are concerned but…in who we are. We’ve both been “enhanced”, for lack of a better word—and in some sense, both against our will.
And…they were both filled with a kind of wonder at the possibilities of life, an enthusiasm, a spirit eager to learn about such wonderful things.
I wonder…is that what Julian saw in both of us?
She mentally stiffened. Now, why did that have to enter her mind?
Sarina looked off. “Well, I’d better get going.”
Ezri nodded. “See you later.”
Sarina returned the nod. “Captain.”
She left, reactivating the force field.
As Ezri watched the woman go, another thought occurred to her—another thing Sarina apparently had in common with her.
The tension she saw in Sarina…it was more than just the triangle that enveloped the two of them—and the man they both loved. It was…guilt? No—but there was something just a little rehearsed—something that conveyed some hidden truth, something so important that…
We’re both hiding something…aren’t we? I don’t know what it is, but…there’s something not right here.
She remembered, some months ago, when Simon had spoken with her after the Breen mission. He’d said there was something about Sarina, something that he found unnerving—he wasn’t sure what it was, but—
Ezri…be careful. That might be jealousy talking.
Still…she couldn’t help but wonder if Sarina was being completely honest about herself—to her, or to Julian.
* * *
I had lost track of this story, but I'm glad to see I didn't fall too far behind on it.
And so the "kindred spirits" come together. Ezri rehashing one of her childhood memories does sort of bring to mind when Jadzia recalling one of her childhood experiences and Kira asked, "Which you are you talking about?" even though if she was referring to a previous host, she would have said that host's name.
Ezri noting the "kindred spirit" thing with Sarina is actually something I've been thinking about for a long time. When I created the character of Cynthia Holland, whom you remember from From Risa With Love, there was a concious effort from me to give her personality some sort of kinship with Ezri--and by extension, Sarina, Leeta, and what the heck--maybe even Melora. (But these qualties, in her case, he more or less encourages her to let out into the open--she certainly doesn't display them at first! Perhaps it was the perceptiveness of his enhancements that allowed him to look beneath Melora's insolent and defensive exterior)
My idea was, with the possible exception of Jadzia, there is a pattern in the kind of woman he pursues a long-term relationship with--as far as their personalities are concerned. There is always an innocence, of some kind--an idealism, and an enthusiasm for life, in one sense or another.
^ Yes, I remember your analyses of what all of Bashir's love interests had in common. Similarly, I had a character in one of my stories who reminded Ezri of a young Julian Bashir, even though roughly the same age as Bashir (in 2378, 36 going on 37), even with asking her out being a carbon copy of how Julian first propositioned Jadzia in "Emissary".
Separate names with a comma.