Episode 6: War Crimes
Location: Guest Suite
Timeline: MD143, 1700 Hours
In the last year, the USS Nogura had undergone a great many changes, ranging from the destruction of the previous ship, to the re-commissioning of the brand new USS Endeavour as the newest ship to bare the name Nogura just a short while later, but one constant in recent times had been the presence of Admiral Mitchell Hanson and his family, who had been aboard for most of the ships months of service, in some capacity or other. Today, however, the Admiral’s presence on the Nogura would come to an end and, so to would that of his engineer wife. In just two days, the ship would be heading off on a new mission, a mission neither were required to be involved in and thus, new pastures awaited them.
For the Admiral, pastures new meant a role away from Starfleet for the first time in, well, forever! He’d been offered a role within the new administration of Bajor’s First Minister, a woman he had worked with closely for a time on New Bajor when she had been the Colony world’s Governor. As her Chief Security Advisor, Mitchell would be responsible for teaching her all about cooperation with Starfleet and the Federation, whilst also helping her to keep her planet safe and secure. It was a daunting new challenge, and significantly different to anything he had ever done before. Adjusting to life as a civilian, with no real authority, would be the biggest challenge for him. He’d been an Admiral for years, and was used to people nodding and bowing respectfully as he passed. Now, he’d be an outsider on an ‘alien’ world, where his experience and name would only get him so far, the rest of the way he’d have to earn that respect all over again. Man, it was so invigorating!
“Hey, finish eating quick, our transport will be here soon.” The voice stirring Mitch from his musings was none other than his fiance, Andy Carter. “And your bag is packed, right?”
“Yeah, all ready to go!” their son replied. Their son… Andy was lost in her own musings for a while as she thought about JP and how their time on the Nogura had affected him. He had been so happy to have the time to get to know his dad more, but the ordeal with the explosives had really scared him, so the ex-Borg woman was more certain than ever that they were doing the right thing.
“What about you?” Andy asked Mitch as she picked up a few used dishes and sent them back through the replicator to clean up. “You ready to do this?” she asked with a grin, then came up behind him to put her arms around them. Things had been getting better between them; they still had their ups and downs, and Andy still felt like she had so much to make up for, but they finally felt like a family now.
The retiring Admiral downed the last of his beverage and nodded in response to the Engineers question. “I’ve never been more ready,” he smiled. It was more than time for a change; for him, his partner and their boy.
“The approval for my sabbatical came in, so I’m ready and all yours until I can figure out what to do on New Bajor,” Andy said, lingering with her arms around Mitch a moment longer; though ready in a functional sense, she was still nervous about this, but she wasn’t having second thoughts, it was just weird to her to not be in uniform and she was worried about what she’d do once they arrived.
“A couple of months to see where the ground lies and get used to our new home in paradise,” Mitch grinned as he gently rubbed the woman’s arms gently and his gaze fell on their son, watching JP with an even bigger smile as the Admiral contemplated what the future had in store for the youngest member of the Hanson clan. A place to grow and spend the last of his childhood in safety, away from the very real threats to Starfleet. “We should have done this a long time ago,” Mitch frowned as he dropped his head, knowing that his passion for Starfleet and the Federation had contributed to his son’s suffering, especially in recent times.
Andy gave a small huff in amusement, but didn’t reply until JP ran off to go wash up and get his bag. “Neither of us was ready then,” Andy remarked, then pulled away to finish cleaning up. “I think we both would have wondered ‘what if we stayed’, but now we know this is the right thing to do. Not saying it’s right that JP was put in harm’s way in the process, but now there’s no doubt.” Although ‘doubt’ came out with a hint of a wince.
Mitch pushed out his chair with the backs of his legs and helped pick up some of the final items from the dinner table and walking them to the replicator to be recycled. “I know, but still,” he shrugged as he placed the items in the replicator and pressed the appropriate controls before turning around and heading over to the sofa, collapsing onto it with a sigh. “In just a few short hours we’ll be on our way to Bajor, ready to build a new life for ourselves. Are you sure this is what you want?”
“To leave? Yes, I’m sure,” Andy said and joined him on the couch. “But I’ve never been so aimless before, you know? I know you said I didn’t have to resign, I could still work at the shipyard, but after all we’ve been through, I don’t want us limited to a ‘weekend visits’ sort of relationship, but then if I stay on Bajor with you, what do I do? I’ve always been a Starfleet Engineer, as soon as I was old enough to put on a uniform, I never took it off, and I know you understand what that feels like, but you’ve also got a job waiting for you that you’re excited about, and I don’t.”
“I’m sure there are plenty of construction jobs out there on Bajor,” Mitch smiled as he put an arm around the woman’s shoulder and pulled her into him. “There are entire provinces where they are trying to still fix damage from the Occupation, never mind the project to build a new, more modern Chamber in Ashalla City Park,” the older man told her. “We can find you something you’ll really enjoy,” he concluded.
“That’s a good point,” Andy remarked, but even then she was dubious; shouldn’t that kind of work go to the Bajorans who needed it more? Andy certainly didn’t want to take work from the natives, that’s no way to be a good neighbor. Then she looked up at him. “Hey, you sure you want to do this with me?” she asked, that ever-present guilt planting more doubt in her. She wondered if that guilt over keeping JP a secret from Mitch would ever go away.
Mitch gazed down into her eyes and smiled a heart-melting smile that was reminiscent of his youthful days on the Lexington, when he had Andy had first bonded, but then he went and ruined it. “Well I asked my bit on the side but she wouldn’t come, so I guess I’ll have to take you instead,” he smirked playfully.
Andy gave him a playful jab to the ribs. “That is not funny,” she declared, but even she couldn’t stop herself from laughing.
It was at that moment that JP decided to return from his room with his bag over his shoulder, and when he saw his parents on the couch and being nice to each other, he decided to join in by running up to the couch and launching himself to land across their laps.
“OOF!” Andy exclaimed as her son knocked the breath from her. “Hey, you better watch it. Your dad’s got the key to the babymaker, so you better be careful not to break it if you ever want that little brother or sister,” Andy said, grinning. Yes, JP had already started asking about getting a sibling, but they were trying to push this topic off for at least a year, maybe two.
“Can we go now?” JP asked excitedly. “I want to watch the ships come in!”
“If I can bloody walk,” the Admiral smirked as he playfully pushed the boy off his lap before pushing himself on to his feet and picking up the boys bag. “Come on short stuff,” he smiled.
“I’m not short, I’m compact for convenience!” JP declared. “Hey dad, tell me about the province where we’ll be living!” he said excitedly while Andy got up and went to retrieve hers and Mitch’s bags; they felt so empty without their uniforms…
“Kendra Valley,” Mitch smiled as he put an arm around the lad and they walked side by side. “It’s one of the most beautiful places in the galaxy. Lush fields of green, glistening lakes, giant hillsides.”
“So no more moving, right?” JP asked hopefully. His mother caught up with them a moment later, all their belongings in hand, or at least what they had brought with them for their vacation; the rest of their stuff from DS11 was requisitioned and should be waiting for them on Bajor.
“Yeah, no more moving,” Andy affirmed, pleased with that statement. “No more running,” she said to Mitch with a grin.
“No more starships, no more space travel,” the Admiral grinned, “real oxygen, real grass, real freedom.”
That was another thing new to Andy, because she was born and raised in space, to her planetary life was not the norm! But for JP and Mitch, she would do just about anything.
“Being on the Nogura was fun,” JP said as they continued their walk at a leisurely pace. “Well, all the explosions and danger wasn’t so fun, but it was neat to be on a ship mom helped to build, and then to see the slipstream drive in action, that was the coolest thing ever!” Despite all that had happened, his desire to join Starfleet to be like his dad had not dimmed one bit.
“You’ll find just as much exciting stuff on the planet my boy,” Mitch grinned as he ruffled the lads luscious locks, “I’ll have you know that they are in the process of building a brand new waterpark, bigger than ANYTHING you’ll have ever seen. There will be so many kids for you to get to know and, who knows, maybe a guuuuuurlfriend,” he mocked his son.
“EW! Why would I want one of those?!” JP exclaimed as he tried to swat away his father’s hand. For now, he would simply settle for a friend, he hadn’t had one since leaving Earth… “Can I see where you’ll be working?” he asked. He had seen his dad’s office on New Bajor and that had been so awesome, his new office just had to be awesome too!
“I’ll see what access I can get for you at the Great Assembly building,” Hanson smiled as he continued strolling, this time in his more customary way; hands clasped together behind his back and with a proud strut. “I’ll be working for a politician. That won’t be exciting for a youngster like you,” he added.
“I want to meet the Kai!” JP then declared, his excitement not wavering in the slightest despite his father’s cautious warning. “I’ve heard some neat stuff about their faith, and I want to pay my respects to Kai Opaka for her sacrifice.” Of course, the official record being that she was dead, and that was what all the Federation children were taught during their history lessons for the events leading up to the Dominion War.
“We’ll see boyo,” the Admiral smiled as he pulled the boy closer again, “we’ll see.” But as they approached the shuttlebay, the Admiral felt a sudden pang of sadness hit him. It would be his last time on a starship as a member of the Admiralty and as an influential person too. Upon leaving the Nogura, his resignation would take effect and he would just be plain old Mitchell Hanson. He hadn’t been plain Mitchell Hanson for decades, even if he had become ‘old’ in recent years. He glanced at Andy with a more than a hint of sadness in his eyes, for the first time since making the massive judgement call, and hoping for some form of encouragement from her.
This was hard for both of them, and for a moment Andy didn’t know what to say. Starfleet had been a big part of their lives, so she understood the apprehension he now felt.
“The shuttle isn’t going to leave without us, so there’s no need to rush,” Andy said, hoping that allowing him a moment to let the future really sink in would help him to move forward. “And we’re right here with you whenever you’re ready.”
Mitch reached out and took her hand in his, giving it a tight squeeze as he smiled and looked back towards the door. “Knowing you guys are here makes this difficult decision that much easier. Let’s go,” he started forward again and led them into the room, only to be assaulted by a great sound.
The ever familiar tone of the boatswain's whistle rang out as dozens of Starfleet officers in their finest dress uniforms stamped their feet together and came to a rigid stance with their arms by their sides in unison. At the head of the group, accompanied by his first officer, Captain Colby Drayton smiled as the Admiral and his family entered the bay. “Attention on deck! Master Chief Petty Officer Andrea Carter, Vice Admiral Mitchell Hanson, departing!” he beckoned loudly, as all, including the Captain himself, threw up hands in salute to the two departing officers.
Andy knew the fanfare was mostly for his sake, but she still got a little choked up being on the receiving end of this kind of reception.
“Can’t back out now after this kind of send off,” she managed to whisper to Mitch.
Mitch looked at his partner again before walking forward and stopping just a few inches in front of the Captain and firing off a salute in return. After a few seconds, the two dropped their arms and a warm round of applause began to reverberate around the shuttlebay as they locked hands and shook.
Once the Captain had had his turn, the Executive Officer offered her hand to the now retired Admiral; Tara owed him so much, because if it hadn’t been for him pushing her out of her comfort zone, she would likely still be on Trill instead of in Command red.
“Starfleet is going to miss you,” Tara said. And it was true, the Hanson name had become as much a legacy as Picard, first with Mitch’s father reaching Vice Admiral, then Mitch himself, although from what the Trill had heard, Mitch’s son was interested in joining Starfleet, so hopefully the legacy hadn’t ended yet!
“Thank you Commander,” the Admiral smiled as he offered the woman a gentle hand.
“No, thank you for your years of service and dedication to excellence,” Tara countered with a warm smile as they shook hands. “Are you sure we can’t talk you out of leaving?” she asked in a playful tone, clearly not serious.
“I have a date with a lovely new house and a fabulous new job,” the retiring Admiral grinned as he squeezed his partner’s hand and looked around the group before gesturing for his son to climb aboard the Runabout.
“Then best of luck to you,” Tara said with a smile. “Both of you.”
Before climbing in to the Runabout, JP ran up to Tara and gave her a squeezing hug around the waist, a silent thanks to his hero. Tara stared down at the red haired boy with shock and surprise. Having never been in a situation like this before, she cast a wary glance to Drayton for help, but the Captain impishly left her to figure this out on her own. Giving the boy a wary pat on the head, she told him,
“You stay safe out there, and I hope you have fun on Bajor.”
JP looked up at the Trill with a wide grin, then ran off to the Runabout, instantly claiming a seat right behind the pilots’ seats so he would have the best view.
“If you ever stop by Bajor, let us know,” Hanson smiled at the Commander and Captain before leading his would be wife onto the craft, slumping into the pilots chair in front of his boy.
Andy grinned as she worked through the Runabout’s start up, then when the shuttle was warmed up and ready to go, she looked at Mitch. “This is it, your last chance to change your mind,” she said to tease him.
Mitchell looked across at his partner and grinned before looking out of the cockpit window.
"Let's go to our new home..."