Episode 6: War Crimes
Location: Ready Room
Timeline: MD142, 1430 Hours
Zar let out a nice loud yawn as he walked through space port theta, it had been a long three week trip to take on his new assignment. Transferred from one end of the Federation to the other as a passenger was boring, especially the stares and side bar conversations that were made at his expense; but he didn't care at all. He knew who he was and he knew what he did and stares were easier to deal with than disruptor fire coming from multiple directions. As he approached the mooring dock, he encountered a young Ensign and a Lieutenant Junior Grade holding a PADD; while the Ensign was holding a type 3 phaser rifle with a pulse cross beam modification. "Name, rank and position?" replied the Lieutenant.
"Zar, Lieutenant Commander, Chief Operations Officer," he stated as he handed over the data PADD containing his transfer orders. The young Lieutenant applied his thumb print to the PADD, verifying Zar's arrival and double checking his transfer orders. "Everything seems to check out, the Captain is expecting you in his ready room sir," replied the lieutenant. Zar gave a nod and started walking up the mooring plank.
(A few minutes later)
The turbolift doors opened revealing the open bridge of the Nogura, the largest ship class he had served on was a Nebula but her bridge layout was nowhere as impressive as what was before him. He observed, watching other officers moving here and there, and also noticed a Cardassian female stationed at what he assumed was the operations station. Walking along the side of the bridge he took a deep breath in and cracked his knuckles and finally pressed the door chime on the captain's ready room panel.
"Come!" a voice beckoned from within.
The Ready Room doors parted and Zar stepped inside making quick observations of the ready room, "Lieutenant Commander Zar reporting for duty," he replied as his eyes finally rested upon the man that was to be his commanding officer.
Colby rose from his chair as he looked the Bolian up and down, his desk was a clutter of PADDs, cups and consoles as he was hard at work on a number of tasks, but the newcomers arrival was a welcome distraction. "Welcome to the Nogura Commander," the Captain greeted the man with an outstretched hand.
"Thank you Captain," replied Zar as he took the captain's hand and gave a firm hand shake. Zar noticed the disorganized desk in front of him, something he didn't mind; however he could hear his mother's voice screaming in his ear to organize, organize and organize some more.
"So," the Captain stepped out from behind his desk and wandered over to the sofa, gesturing for the Ops Chief to join him as he took a seat on the comfy seat. "I hope your journey here wasn't too bad? I wasn't aware of your appointment until this morning," he smiled.
"It wasn't too bad, rather long travelling from one quadrant to another one," he said as he took a seat on the couch. "I can believe it that you weren't aware of my appointment; I wasn't aware that my former CO put me in for a transfer either," he added as he crossed one leg over the other.
"The universe moves in mysterious ways Commander," the Captain smiled as he relaxed a little. "You're joining us at an interesting time. We have a new mission ahead of us in a new part of space, and we have a new Quantum Slipstream Drive to maintain," he revealed as he tried to enlighten the newcomer on a few things.
"Quantum Slipstream Drive," he said in a more of an quizzical tone. He had heard about the experimental drive system, in the different engineering journals that he read about during his trip back to the Alpha Quadrant. "I am familiar about the drive system from a theoretical standpoint, I wasn't aware that Starfleet Engineering had decided to go ahead with it. Sounds very interesting," he added.
As a former engineer, the idea of the whole system being a fully functioning piece of the ships arsenal sent the Captain visibly giddy as he rose to his feet. "We conducted a few tests earlier this week and the results were remarkable. It doesn't just function, it functions well. We could reach the opposite end of Federation space in around ten hours," he grinned as he rummaged on his desk and produced a data PADD for the Bolian. On it, the schematics for the new propulsion system and the results of their tests, all within his clearance level.
Zar took the Padd and it made the familiar chirping sounds as he scrolled through scanning the data; and the readouts from the testing were amazing. "Wow," Zar replied as he continued to look over the data padd. "Until three weeks ago I only heard whispers of a new drive system, and now I find out that theory is now an actuality; that's what happens when you are stationed on an outpost on the outer edges of the Beta Quadrant. These test results are pretty promising, I wonder what the Klingon and Romulan governments are saying about this?" he asked, as his diplomatic training kicked in.
"That is none of our concern," the Captain smiled, "you'll find out a whole lot about this ship and crew in the coming weeks Commander. We've been through a lot and this new assignment is a welcome change of pace for many reasons. I hope you'll see it as a fresh start on something more meaningful," he continued. He'd only been the ships commander for a short period but already he had come to greatly admire the crew for all they had gone through and achieved.
"A fresh start is always welcomed, especially when you've had rough experiences," Zar replied as he himself thought about how this fresh start was a step up in the right direction. It had been two years since he had been released, and he assumed that he was going to be stationed at the outpost for the rest of his career. "I know about rough experiences all too well," he added.
"Oh?" the Captain queried as he rose to his feet and walked to the replicator. "Beverage?" he asked.
"Whatever your having is fine with me sir," he replied. Zar pretty much knew that his file had been reviewed, but he had nothing to hide.
"Two hot chocolates, cream with marshmallows and a chocolate flake," the Captain spoke into the replicator and soon made his way back to the table with two glasses of steaming hot chocolate, topped with a generous helping of whipped cream and a large chocolate flake protruding from one side. He passed one carefully to his guest, and then took his own, sitting back on the sofa. "When you say rough experiences, what do you mean?" he queried again, eager to hear things from his new crewmember first hand.
"Well," he said as he took a sip of hot chocolate. "A couple of years ago I made a decision that impacted my career." Zar leaned back against the sofa with one leg resting upon the other at the knee ; he briefly looked out of the ready room window taking another sip. "Four years ago, I decided to break the prime directive, and it not only cost me my command; it also cost me a reduction in rank" he said as he exhaled a bit remembering the events in an instant. "I commanded the Rutherford, and we were finishing up a charting expedition two months ahead of time when we came across a pre-warp civilization. My science team wanted to record them since we were finishing early so I agreed to it and so did Starfleet Command. While we were watching them, a massive pandemic of TB broke out across the planet and it was killing people by the millions," he said as he took another sip of his hot chocolate. "After watching for two weeks, I decided to take a shuttle with the cure and a replicator and provided to one of the medical facilities we were observing. When I returned my First Officer arrested me and the rest is history."
"First Officer's are often idealistic and feel obligated to follow the laws of the Federation to the letter, but its a lot less simple when you're in that chair," the Captain frowned as he took a sip of his sweet beverage. "Do you sit back and watch a species die, or do you intervene. It's easy for those thousands of lightyears away to pass judgement and say you shouldn't intervene, but they aren't there. They aren't watching those people suffering, dying, all while you know you have the cure just sitting in your sickbay.Things are a lot less black and white in that command chair, and a hell of a lot more grey," he nodded slowly. "I'm lucky, I've never been in that position, so I cant say whether I would have made the decision you did or not, but I can honestly say I'd have given it serious consideration for sure."
"Which is why I debated with myself for two weeks," he said as he sipped his drink. "It was my Kobayashi Maru, and even through Starfleet Command said I failed; I look at the other way and say I passed." Zar smirked as he remembered speaking with the counselors during his rehabilitation stages. "I remember the counselors telling me that the decision I made was linked to my years as a cadet at the Academy. I linked my decision because of my experiences during the Klingon/Federation War and then the Dominion War." Zar took a longer sip on his drink, it was interesting as he never really had decided to try the Earth drink, he always passed it up when he was offered it; but sometimes with a fresh start you have to try new things. "Captain, the fact you would give it consideration lets me know that your a man who weighs his options before making a decision. That is one of the things I believe Starfleet is lacking nowadays, people who are willing to weigh all things in the balance before making a decision; the Dominion War has deeper repercussions than most thought."
"Someone once said that the claim, 'I was only following orders' has been used to justify too many tragedies in our history. Starfleet does not want officers who will blindly follow orders without analyzing the situation. Personally, I believe your actions were appropriate for the circumstances, and I have noted that in your record upon my acceptance of your assignment here," the Captain placed his cup on the table after another quick sip, "but try not to disobey too many of my orders while you are here, okay?"
Zar allowed a smile to escape his lips, he was honored that a man he barely knew would make such a declaration. He would miss Commander Graves and all that she had done for him but he could actually say he was "home. "I will obey every order you give unless forced to disobey such order, to protect either yourself or the rest of this crew; as a fellow Starfleet officer," he said. "Captain, did you serve during the Dominion War?"
“Mmhmm,” Drayton nodded as he picked up his beverage again and recalled his assignments of years gone by. “I served as an engineer on the Venture during the war. Why do you ask?” the bearded man queried.
"I ask because, well, do you still have effects from the war that you cannot shake," he said as he sipped more from his drink; it had finally cooled down to the temperature that he wanted it at. "For instance I still have to sleep with a phaser under my pillow," he said as he laughed a bit. It may seem like a silly notion but it was something within him that just couldn't shake that habit.
"No," the Captain told with a shake of the head, "I've been lucky in that regard. Admiral Hastur was pretty insistent that everyone on the the Venture have regular contact with our excellent Counsellor," he revealed before pointing to a picture frame across the room. "That's my partner, Idra. She was Counsellor on the Ulysses but recently moved back to Trill on hiatus to see her family. I've been lucky with the support I've had. I recommend you take advantage of the excellent team we have here Commander," the Captain advised.
"I think I might do that, the counsellor on the Hood was okay, he did try his very busy to navigate us through it; I think I was one of the ones who fell through the crack," he said as he sipped again from his drink. "You won't have to worry about sudden out bursts or flashbacks that keep me from performing my duties captain," he also added. Taking one final sip of his drink he placed the white cup on the table. "I want to tell you Captain that I appreciate you sitting down with me, it's been quite a while since I've talked with a CO on a personal level; since my time on the Hood. Is there anything else you want to know about me sir? I have nothing to hide."
"No Commander," the Captain echoed the Bolian's action and placed his cup on the table top. "All I need from you is your best and we'll get on swimmingly," the Captain grinned as he rose to his feet and adjusted his uniform somewhat. "Welcome to the family Commander," he added as he again offered his hand to the newcomer.
Zar mimicked the captain's actions as he rose to his feet and pulling his uniform jacket down. "My best you will have," he said as he took the captain's hand and gave it a firm hand shake, and walked out of the captain's ready room. On his way to the turbolift, he made a mental note to set an appointment with the ship's counsellor once he greeted his department.