The Good Doctor
Episode 6: War Crimes
Location: Starbase 72
Timeline: MD142, 1700 Hours
Months had passed since Dr. Marcus Alexander had stepped foot on a Starfleet facility. This leave of absence had been driving him crazy. He had been off duty since the USS Columbus had been lost, and the Starfleet Admiralty had been conducting an investigation. Sabotage of a Galaxy Refit class starship was a serious event and even the Chief Medical Officer was not immune to Starfleet's Inquisition. But Marcus survived as he usually did. He spent a few weeks with his family after the investigation, then he and his younger brother left for their new assignments. Marcus was assigned to USS Nogura in the Alpha Quadrant while his brother Dastan would be in the Beta Quadrant as First Officer on the USS Shanghai. He and his brother were close, and being so far apart was always rough.
The doors to the canteen on Starbase 72 opened slowly as the slender, medium build man walked through. Marcus rubbed his brown stubble hair and looked around to his new environment. The brown messenger bag on his shoulder held all of his belongings. He tugged at the hem of his teal trimmed uniform. He took one of the seat at the bar and ordered his normal, a shot of whiskey. He made glances at the young humanoid lady at the other end of the bar, and gave her a flirtatious wave. He paused before he made his move. He sensed as if he was being watched by someone behind him.
Indeed, at a table several feet away, a man in a hula shirt and shorts was observing the newcomer at the bar, watching from his safe distance as he too sipped on a beverage. On the table before him, a bowl of pretzels and a lone PADD that was deactivated. It was unusual for him to be sat in any bar of late, let alone the one on the station, but he had taken the time to come aboard and visit once he had heard that Alexander had arrived and would be in the lounge. For now, he would continue to watch until he was ready.
Marcus ignored his instinct to look around but instead embraced his primitive urge. Marcus quickly took the drink that he had ordered and downed it. He then made his way over to the lady. He look deep into her dark almost black eyes. Before he could speak she took a quick sip of whatever she was drinking. "Doctor," she said, "you really shouldn't be thinking like that." She laughed also an engaging laugh at Marcus.
Marcus paused, "Betazoid." She nodded. "Well what do you think of this?" He gave her a stern look as if he was thinking seriously.
She laughed. "You're cute," she said. "But not tonight. I have a prior engagement I must attend to." She took a napkin from the bar and wrote a small note. She then folded it in half and kissed the outside. "Some other time, doctor," she told him as she handed him the napkin. The doctor took it from her hand and the Betazoid stranger then stood up from her seat and left the bar. Marcus smiled as he opened the napkin and read the note. He shook his head as he placed it in his pocket.
Marcus turned and head back towards his seat. The canteen was full of Starfleet personnel, diplomats, and exchange personnel. He glanced around the room trying to see everyone inside. Since the Columbus Incident, he always knew his environment and knew he had an audience. He looked up to the face of a man in the personnel files, his new commanding officer. 'Hopefully he doesn't have a drinking problem like Commander Tora,' he thought to himself. His mind still wandered back to the memories of his former commanding officer. His court martial and later being sent to the Federation Mental Hospital on Starbase 5 had affected Marcus dearly. He lost someone he once considered his best friend. But all good thing must come to an end, and now Marcus would step up to his new assignment and role.
Marcus made his way over to his new commanding officer. "Is this seat taken?" he said to the man in the hula shirt. Pointing to the seat across from him.
Colby stared at the man as he approached and asked his question, carefully considering him for a few moments until the chair opposite him seemingly moved on its own and he gestured for the younger man to take a seat at the table.
Marcus pulled the chair the rest of the way out and took a seat. "You look a little different than your personnel file picture," he said with extra sarcasm in his voice. The doctor extended his hand towards the other man. "Doctor Marcus Alexander, pleasure to meet you sir."
"Colby Drayton," the Captain nodded as they shook hands, unsure of how to take the man's comment regarding his appearance. Choosing to ignore it, the Captain took a sip of his drink. "I trust your journey here wasn't too difficult?"
“It’s a long trip across Federation space,” Marcus said. “At least I got to see my family before starting this new assignment.”
"You won't be seeing them again anytime soon if everything goes to plan with our new orders, so I hope you are prepared for that?" Drayton queried of his new Medical Officer. "Unless of course, your assignment here finishes anything remotely like your previous one did?" Aaaaand there it was, the early indication that the Captain knew all about the man's previous assignment.
Marcus smiled. “I was planning to spend the next few years in the Delta Quadrant so distance hasn’t been an issue. And I will always return home one day.” He paused for a moment, “and I hope this assignment is nothing like the last. Who would have ever imagined all of that. Sabotage, the Orion Syndicate, murder, and the destruction of a dreadnought. It’s sounds like the makings of a great mystery holo-novel.”
"And tell me Doctor, what part did you play in those events?" the Captain queried, his demeanour more stern and focused than before as he pushed his drink aside. He'd heard about the incident in question and read some of the available reports, but he wanted to hear it from the Doctor himself.
Marcus took a deep breath, “the most gruesome part. Three autopsies then 126 wounded and 57 dead in the explosion of the phaser cannon. While the CO was wasted on the bridge, I was knee deep in blood.”
The last phrase in particular got the Captain's attention and caused him to raise an eyebrow. "What exactly do you mean by 'wasted'?"
Marcus leaned in towards Colby. “Tora was hiding demons from us all. He was drunk. It was all in the official Starfleet report. Sad thing was it was a chronic condition, and I should have caught it. Avoiding his launch physical and vanishing from time to time. All hallmark signs of chronic alcoholism.”
"So you were negligent in your duties?" Colby asked sternly, concerned about a great many things he had heard so far in the conversation.
“I let my friendship with this man get in the way. I didn’t notice the warning signs until it was too late. Sometime after the sabotage I noticed he changed. I requested he report to sick bay for a medical screening which he delayed. I then contact Starfleet Command and informed them of the situation. They stated the Tora had no history in his service record and they doubted that my suspicions were correct. I then spoke with Commander Channe who agreed with me that something wasn’t right. We were going to relieve him of command but that’s when the Orion Syndicate attacked with their warbirds. It was too late after that I was quite busy with the wounded. Would I say that I neglected my duties? No. Should I have acted faster? Yes. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have consulted command, and the XO and I should have relieved him of his duties then asked for forgiveness later.” Marcus paused and leaned back in his chair. “Not a day goes by that I don’t feel regret over that. Could be why I didn’t join the Crazy Horse and Ronan’s witch hunt. Avoiding the familiar faces or that’s what I was told.”
Colby Drayton watched the man for a few moments before finally offering a smile for the first time. "I've read all the reports Lieutenant and you have nothing to regret. You were in an impossible position and you did what you had to do. Nogura is your chance for a fresh start," the Captain added.
"I'm glad someone feels that way, and I look forward to a fresh start. I hear the Nogura is an impressive ship," Marcus asked his new CO.
"She is very impressive, but I would argue her crew is even more so," the Captain nodded, his entire demeanour and tone having changed. "They've been through a lot in recent months and we're about to embark on a fresh start elsewhere, so you're in very good company Doctor."
“I’m ready for a fresh start too,” he said with a sigh. “I’m ready to leave the past behind me and set sail for a bright future...”